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Top College Football Coaches Who Excel and Struggle Against Top 25 Teams

Did you know that of the 128 FBS head coaches, only 14—or 11 percent—have a career winning record against Top 25 teams?

Not only do 89 percent of the top level of college coaches have a losing record against ranked opponents, but 51—or 40 percent of the field—have never won a single game against a Top 25 team.

So while lots of ink is dedicated to coaches with the highest all-time winning percentage or the most titles, what about those who have been the best—or worst—against the best teams in the nation?

Is this the magical gauge of future success?

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Miami Football: Best Quotes and Key Takeaways from ACC Media Days

Head coach Al Golden, running back Duke Johnson and linebacker Denzel Perryman represented the Miami Hurricanes at ACC media days, discussing ever-nearing fall practice and the 2014 regular season.

A few combined hours later, notable quotes and important takeaways emerged from the trio's respective answers, including some encouraging news about a true freshman waiting to qualify.

The quarterback competition was, of course, a hot topic, and the Hurricanes' player reps gave two strikingly different answers, though neither was surprising.

Plus, Golden supplied an answer about the length of his tenure at Miami, one that was questioned just a few short months ago.

 

New Players Making Impact, 2 Coming Soon

While the newest recruiting class is helping build the program's depth, Golden acknowledged many of the newcomers have arrived at Miami ready to play.

Per Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel, the fourth-year head coach specifically mentioned Tyre Brady, Joseph Yearby, David Njoku, Michael Wyche, Anthony Moten, Chad Thomas, Darrion Owens, Juwon Young and Ryan Mayes as notable players.

Additionally, quarterback Brad Kaaya has been battling Kevin Olsen and Jake Heaps for the starting position during the season opener against Louisville, unfazed to this point.

"I can't get into his head," Perryman said, according to Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post. "But I'm working on it."

Golden said he anticipates athlete Trayone Gray and wide receiver Darrell Langham will join the team. Miami does not necessarily have an immediate need at running back or out wide, but Alabama appeared to be fine without Derrick Henry, too.

No, Gray is not being directly compared to Henry, but depth is never a bad thing because offensive production is typically not discouraged.

 

Perryman Talks Returning, Slimming Down, Expectations

According to Porter, Perryman returned for his senior season in order to "master his craft." The linebacker believed he was ready for the NFL, but further tape study revealed weaknesses in his game.

"I said I got it, I got it ... then I said wow, I can't believe I put that on tape."

Though Perryman looked particularly massive during spring practice, he decided the extra bulk made him "a step slow" and is in the process of losing 10 pounds. Chirinos notes Perryman said 240 pounds is his optimal "striking weight."

He also believes Miami can become one of the country's best defenses, per Porter:

I don't think talent is the issue. Guys need to be where they need to be. That one guy out of his gap could be a big difference in the game or a play. ... Everybody is on the same page. Everybody knows the playbook in and out. Young guys came in and quickly learned the playbook. Nobody's behind on the playbook at all.

An elite defense is hardly a realistically obtainable goal, but Miami is certainly better than the No. 89 unit last season. How much better the group actually is, however, will only be answered come September.

 

Johnson Hints at, Perryman Flat-Out Expects Williams

According to Chirinos, Johnson realizes he carries the burden of expectations but does not want whichever teammate is under center to feel the same.

"You have a lot of weapons around you as a quarterback," Johnson said. "So whoever the quarterback is until Ryan gets back, there isn't a lot of pressure on them like there is on me."

Perryman, on the other hand, did not hold back, saying he already feels like Ryan Williams is ready to lead the team.

Currently, Olsen, Kaaya or Heaps will be the No. 1 quarterback on Labor Day Monday, but Williams is the heavily favored and seemingly heavily preferred option when healthy. And the longer this conversation goes unsettled during fall camp, the move evident that preference will become.

 

Odds and Ends

As of this moment, Golden has no plans of leaving the program—one that needs continuity as it progresses through the rebuilding stage. Golden is under contract through the 2019 regular season.

Per Porter, Nate Dortch has left the program. After taking a redshirt in 2012, the cornerback participated in six games last season, tallying a pair of tackles.

Gray Crow added bulk and moved to H-back, likely after recognizing the logjam at quarterback. Crow completed 6-of-8 attempts for 55 yards in 2013, including a touchdown pass to Beau Sandland against Savannah State.

As long assumed, running back Joseph Yearby will not be redshirting this year. Alongside Johnson and Gus Edwards, Yearby gives the 'Canes a slasher in the backfield, complementing the overall skill of Duke and brute strength of Edwards.

 

Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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Why Pac-12 Football Turns Out the Best NFL QBs

It's no secret that as we enter into the 2014 college football season, the cradle of quarterbacks is located out west in the Pac-12 (sorry, Purdue). Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion and Taylor Kelly all look like elite signal-callers with promising professional careers ahead.

With top recruits like Ricky Town, Josh Rosen, Travis Waller and Brady White set to join the league in 2015, the trend of seeing great quarterback play from the conference of champions won't be slowing down anytime soon.

The fruits of the conference's efforts are visible in the NFL, too, with players like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck holding the titles of "best quarterback" and "best young quarterback," respectively. Even former USC quarterback Carson Palmer is hanging around and producing solid play now and again.

With respect to other leagues that have also churned out multiple MVP winners, Super Bowl champions and future Hall of Famers at quarterback, what is it about the Pac-12 Conference that produces the best and most accomplished passers in the game?

 

Style of Offense

With all the innovation taking place in the game of football, offensive schemes are rarely categorized as simply "pro-style" or "West Coast" anymore. There are spread offenses that mix in West Coast passing schemes, up-tempo systems that occasionally slow it down and bully you up the middle and pretty much everything in between.

But when San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh unveiled the West Coast offense back in the '80s, it changed the way the game was played and directly led to much of the tremendous quarterback play we see today.

Nearly every team from the current Pac-12 has run some variation of the offense in its history, and the quarterbacks produced by these systems have often gone on to have long, productive NFL careers. But at the same time, the variety of offenses out west has also helped signal-callers develop a unique skill set, and one that doesn't hinge solely on a single trait such as arm strength or mobility.

Rodgers may have benefited from the coaching styles of Jeff Tedford while at Cal, but you can go all the way back to 1970 and find Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett leading the Stanford Cardinal, meaning the great play didn't begin when Walsh's 49ers began their reign.

The game has changed, of course, and Plunkett's 2,980 yards passing and 19 touchdowns in his award-winning season wouldn't draw a second glance in 2014. Heck, the strong-armed Plunkett tossed 19 interceptions the same year!

But as the game has evolved, so has the Pac-12, and after Plunkett came Oregon's Dan Fouts, who still sits in 11th place on the NFL's career passing yardage list. The next generation looks to be guys like Hundley and Mariota, both of whom play in completely different schemes than Plunkett and Fouts and, yet, have success written all over their paths ahead.

In no other league will you be able to trace the evolution of the game as well as the Pac-12, and the ever-changing offensive schemes have played a big role in the conference producing so many standout quarterbacks at the next level.

 

Talent-Rich Area

If you follow recruiting even a little bit, you probably know that Florida, Texas and California are the most talent-rich states by a mile and a half. But it's difficult to argue against California as having the best crop of signal-callers each year, and this year is a terrific example.

Of the 19 quarterbacks who attended the Elite 11 Camp in Beaverton, Oregon, seven hailed from the state of California. Two more players reside in Washington and Arizona, respectively, which means the West Coast gave the unique event nearly half of its competitors.

But consider this: Of the nine players hailing from Pac-12 country, a whopping six are already committed to play for Pac-12 schools.

Rosen and Town lead the way along with Waller, a highly touted recruit in his own right set to play ball for the Ducks. Then there's White, an Arizona State commit, along with Ross Bowers and Sam Darnold, who have pledged their skills to Cal and USC, respectively.

With more than 100 FBS schools across the country, it's remarkable that nearly one-third of the top 19 prep quarterbacks (according to the Elite 11 guest list, at least; there are always diamonds in the rough) are headed to the Pac-12.

With that said, will anyone really be surprised when the conference continues to dominate through the air over the next few years?

Using one recruiting class might not be fair, but then you see future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Rodgers both calling California home. Despite Brady playing in the Big Ten, it becomes increasingly difficult to deny the fact that the best high school quarterbacks are often out west.

And sure, schools like Alabama will steal players like Blake Barnett and not every great local kid stays close to home. After all, places like Tallahassee, Ann Arbor and Knoxville, just to name a few, have a lot to offer.

But when that much talent is groomed in the conference's most fertile recruiting ground, the league stands to benefit. And it has.

 

Developing the Talent

Let's be very clear that our final point isn't insinuating that other conferences don't know how to properly develop quarterbacks. If that were the case, no 3-star or lower would ever make it big anywhere outside the West Coast. However, the Pac-12 is excellent at taking players and making them better from day one.

This process is more impressive when the player in question was overlooked out of high school, but it's just as important with the stars.

Matt Barkley arrived at USC with a lot of fanfare, and in year one he managed to beat Ohio State in Columbus. Despite a senior season that was rather puzzling, he was one of the nation's top players after his junior season and may very well have been a top-10 pick had he opted for the draft instead of returning to school.

UCLA's Hundley is another example of a player who arrived in Westwood with a 4-star ranking in tow. He's improved each year and enters his junior campaign as one of the leading Heisman Trophy candidates. But again, those are examples of two players destined for greatness from the beginning.

Head north to Oregon and you'll find two other players, equally as important to their teams if not more so, who ended high school with little fanfare. Oregon State's Mannion was a 3-star player who didn't come anywhere near an Elite 11 invite, and the Ducks' Mariota went from 3-star to superstar the moment he took the field in his first start.

Even Rodgers had to begin his career in junior college before transferring over to Cal and being molded by Tedford's offense into one of the top prospects in the country.

Again, talent is developed at every program around the country to some degree. How apparent that is to those outside the program often has a direct correlation with the team's overall success. But the Pac-12 in this year alone boasts Mariota, Mannion, Kelly and Connor Halliday as former middling high school prospects who are now considered solid-to-elite at the college level.

Having talent to begin with is important, and exposing these players to a variety of different offenses can only help with NFL preparation. But without solid coaching and consistent improvement, the league wouldn't have the same reputation of producing top-flight signal-callers.

In a year where the Pac-12 appears to be head and shoulders above the competition at quarterback—ESPN's Pac-12 Blog lists 10 out of 12 teams as being in "good or great shape"—it's only appropriate to identify why that might be the case. And with an exciting crop of young guns set to enter the fray in 2015, don't expect things to change anytime soon.

 

All stats via Sports-Reference.com. All recruiting information via 247Sports. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.

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Why Pac-12 Football Turns Out the Best NFL QBs

It's no secret that as we enter into the 2014 college football season, the cradle of quarterbacks is located out west in the Pac -12 (sorry, Purdue)...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Clemson Football: Previewing 3 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

After the Clemson Tigers finished off the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl, the biggest concern for head coach Dabo Swinney heading into the offseason was who his starting quarterback would be for the 2014 season.

Three-year starter Tajh Boyd was gone, and the race to replace him was on. Rising senior Cole Stoudt, sophomore Chad Kelly and true freshman Deshaun Watson were supposed to be competing to replace Boyd all throughout fall camp.

They aren't.

Shortly after the spring game, Swinney named Stoudt the starting quarterback, dismissed Kelly from the team and Watson missed part of the spring due to a shoulder injury. So what was expected to be Clemson's top position battle throughout the offseason was already settled. 

Other positions remain unsettled, though. Remember, Clemson lost both Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant at wide receiver. The Tigers return a lot of talent at the position, but Watkins and Bryant's production from 2013 will be difficult to replace.

 

No. 1 Wide Receiver

Clemson's leading returning receiver this fall is senior Adam Humphries. Humphries was third on the team last season with 41 receptions. However, he's suited best for the slot. He isn't the type of player defenses will game-plan around. He is a steady and reliable receiver who should get lots of targets from Stoudt.

Sophomore Mike Williams has everything you look for in an elite receiver. He's big (6'3", 205), fast, strong and has good ball skills. As a freshman in 2013, Williams battled drops, though. If he can improve his concentration and run better routes, he could be Clemson's next star receiver. 

Humphries and Williams are expected to start at two of the three starting wide receiver positions, per the team's updated depth chart

The player to keep an eye on is junior Charone Peake. Peake, who missed most of 2013 with a torn ACL, was a member of the prized 2011 recruiting class that also featured Watkins and Bryant. He's ready for his chance to shine now. 

Peake showed signs of breaking out as a sophomore when he caught 25 passes, good for fifth on the team in 2012. He's actually listed as Clemson's third starter, but he will compete with sophomore Germone Hopper and a trio of true freshmen receivers. Hopper is another exciting player; however, he doesn't possess Hopper's size (6'2", 205).

The biggest question surrounding Peake is health. Is he fully recovered from last season's knee injury? He believes so, per David Hood of TigerNet.com:

During last summer and fall camp I improved so much. I feel like it's still in me, too. It shouldn't be a problem with the redshirt and two years (of eligibility) left. That'll be on me. I think I'll build my confidence, get my cuts right and plant more off my left knee during the summer before camp gets here. I'm already moving a lot and can sprint. I'm already working on some side-to-side stuff, too. I'm going to be 100-percent by the time the summer hits. When we start drills with the team, I'll be ready. 

Peake is certainly optimistic, and that is good news for Clemson fans. He can be a special player. 

 

Running Back

There is no clear-cut starter at running back for Clemson. The Tigers have a pair of upperclassmen, senior D.J. Howard and junior Zac Brooks, currently atop the depth chart.

But how long will it stay that way?

Neither player will remind anyone of former backs C.J. Spiller, Andre Ellington or even James Davis. Howard has 581 career rushing yards, while Brooks has just 365. Howard is a physical runner that will work best in a platoon.

The player to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman.

Gallman had a strong spring and has the game-breaking speed that neither Brooks nor Howard possess. While Gallman is fast, he isn't an outside runner. He has shown the ability to run between the tackles and get the tough yards. He could be an asset in the passing game, too. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris likes getting his running backs involved.

The biggest question facing Gallman is if can he play on third downs. Yes, he would be an ideal third-down back due to his speed, but can he thrive in pass protection in his first year of college football?

That is likely what coaches will be wanting to see from Gallman during fall camp.

Two other players, junior C.J. Davidson and freshman Tyshon Dye, will also figure into the mix. Dye ruptured his Achilles in February, so his availability for this season is still in question. He missed his freshman season due to injuries. 

Davidson is another intriguing player. A former track star, Davidson does have the speed to compete for playing time and will have a chance to show coaches he deserves to be on the field. 

 

Right Tackle

Clemson lost very good starters from its offensive line last year. Left tackle Brandon Thomas and guard Tyler Shatley are gone. However, the Tigers have some experienced players ready to step in.

Isaiah Battle will replace Thomas on the left side, but who will start at the tackle position opposite of him?

Juniors Joe Gore and Shaq Anthony are currently battling it out, and by all appearances that competition will continue into fall camp. 

Who has the advantage?

Anthony has more experience, having started three games in 2013 and having played in 17 games throughout his career. Gore has never started a game but has played in 12 games.

Both players are athletic, though Anthony is better in pass protection. Gore is bigger (6'5", 300) and also a better run-blocker. In Morris' offense, the offensive linemen must have good lateral quickness, and both Anthony and Gore have that. 

Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell recently spoke to the media about both players, per Mandrallius Robinson of The Greenville News.

On Gore: 

Joe's biggest nemesis has been his hands, learning to use his hands. Athletically, physically, he has everything. He's got to do a good job studying and learning. So much happens on the edge, you've got to communicate.

And Caldwell had this to say about Anthony:

He came from a throwing system, which is great. Everybody does that. Run-blocking has been his nemesis. He's really improved that. He had a great spring. It's coming. He's added weight. He's gotten stronger. He's got to commit himself to doing that and learning to play with his pads down.

Many talented young offensive tackles struggle with pad level. It's no surprise that Anthony struggled in that area. However, he has improved and his suspension for the season opener could be the only thing keeping him from being named the starter now. He has opened the door for Gore, and he has taken advantage of it. 

But if Anthony reports to fall camp in shape, he will be tough to beat. 

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Ranking 10 Best SEC Football Teams of BCS Era

Picking the best SEC football teams during their dominant run through the BCS era essentially means nitpicking some of the strongest teams in recent memory.

SEC football fans hope they will find the same success the conference enjoyed during the BCS era, when it ran off nine total national championships and seven consecutive titles.

Of course, hosting two of the all-time great coaches certainly doesn’t hurt.

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer represent six of the top 10 teams during the BCS era and one honorable mention team each as well.

Emerging as SEC champion carried great honor during the BCS era—and whoever came out of the conference was expected to bring home the national hardware.

With the College Football Playoff era upon us, we take today to look back on the best teams the BCS era had to offer.

How good is this group of teams? Not even a national championship secures a spot in the countdown.

We measure the top 10 teams by considering win-loss records while also factoring in margins of victory (both total and against quality competition). Other components considered were the overall talent on the teams and their strength of schedule.

Here is our list.

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Nate Craig to Auburn: Tigers Land 2016 5-Star WR Prospect

The Auburn Tigers have gotten a big jump on their 2016 recruiting class, getting an early commitment from 5-star wide receiver Nate Craig on Monday.

Craig, who hails from Tampa Catholic High School in Florida, tweeted the news of his college decision:

According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Craig is the No. 2 receiver in his class and the 17th-best prospect overall. The site also lists him at 6'3" and 205 pounds, while ESPN.com (subscription required) notes that Craig runs a 4.62-second 40-yard dash.

Allie Davison of Rivals.com spoke with one scout who had particularly high praise for the dynamic playmaker:

There is no question that Craig is a special talent, and he will bring a dynamic element to Auburn's offense. Already possessing an enviable blend of size and speed, Craig figures to only get faster and stronger once he moves on to the collegiate level.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is creative with his game plans, though he has often relied heavily on the rushing attack in both of his recent stints with the program.

That was especially true in his first season at the helm, when Malzahn guided the Tigers to the national title game. Adding someone like Craig will open up both dimensions of the offense. Presuming Auburn continues recruiting well and running the ball with similar effectiveness, it will set up Craig for plenty of big plays.

Craig has outstanding ball skills that suggest uncommon instincts and feel for the game. What also stands out is his field vision once the ball is in his hands. Stretching the field vertically and being such a threat on quick screens and short passes will make Craig a nightmare for SEC defensive coordinators in the years to come.

The route tree deployed by the Tigers' passing game also isn't likely to be overwhelming in its complexity. It's important for Craig to continue developing and refining his technique in that regard, but the fit at Auburn should allow him to make an immediate impact, too.

Malzahn has demonstrated the capability to capitalize on the strengths of his skill players. It should be no different with a wideout like Craig at his disposal. This is a great fit for both parties—one that should allow Craig to grow into one of the premier prospects from the class of 2016.

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Kliff Kingsbury's Expensive Breitling Watch May Have Been a Fake

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury has a reputation for being one of the best-looking and best-dressed coaches in college football. He recently garnered some attention on Twitter when he showed off a Breitling Mulliner Tourbillon model watch, which retails for more than $100,000.

The folks at Deadspin, with the help of a tipster, discovered that Kingsbury's watch looks very similar to the fake Breitlings that sell on the Internet for about $100. Some informed watch enthusiasts from the forum BreitlingSource.com confirmed the claim, calling the timepiece an obvious fake.

Although slightly embarrassing, Kingsbury has at least saved himself a lot of money if the watch is indeed a fake.

[Deadspin]

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LSU's Trey Lealaimatafao Reportedly Suffers Arm Injury After Punching Window

LSU true freshman Trey Lealaimatafao reportedly suffered a serious arm injury after punching through a glass window in the team's gym.  

According to sources cited by The Times-Picayune's Jim Kleinpeter, the defensive tackle punched the window following an argument with his girlfriend. The injury was so bad that glass reportedly "tore through" his bicep, showing the bone. 

There were originally frightening details of Lealaimatafao facing possible arm amputation, but fortunately, The Advocate's Ross Dellenger added a report that is a little more encouraging than that:

The school's student newspaper, citing LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette, confirmed Dellenger's report:

That's great news in an otherwise terrible story for Lealaimatafao and LSU. 

Lealaimatafao was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school in San Antonio, Texas. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, received offers from several top programs around the country and had potential as a creator of havoc in the middle of the Tigers defense. 

As The Daily Reveille's Mike Gegenheimer noted, the 6'0", 300-pound youngster had a legitimate chance of making an impact this season:

Alas, football will now have to be put on the back burner, as the freshman will look to rehab from the serious injury. 

LSU, which enters the season as a top-15 team, shouldn't miss too much of a beat on the gridiron, but this is the kind of thing that will give Les Miles and his staff nightmares. 

Not only is it an extremely scary injury to a promising player, but it's something that easily could have been avoided. 

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ACC Media Days 2014: Top Highlights, Comments and Twitter Reaction from Day 2

While Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent ripples throughout college football after decrying the lack of NCAA enforcement and saying that "cheating pays" during the conference's media days on Monday, the ACC was also having media days of their own.      

While there wasn't that level of controversy during the press conferences littered throughout the day, there were plenty of notable moments as the ACC coaches took to the podium. 

But before they made their remarks and answered questions, there was the small matter of the 2014 preseason voting being announced. There weren't many surprises, though Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports found one:

Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times put that selection in perspective: 

Indeed, it boggles the mind. There weren't as many surprises in the rest of the voting, however. Although, Miami's coach Al Golden had a few things to say about his team topping the Coastal Division, per ESPN ACC:

One of the highlights of the day was when Jimbo Fisher, head coach of the defending national champions, took to the mic. Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports passed along two of his more memorable quotes:

Fisher wasn't done stirring the pot there, though, taking a shot at the Big 12's format. This led to Baylor coach Art Briles responding in kind at the Big 12 media days. Jake Trotter of ESPN passes along the "exchange" that went down:

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday at ACC media days that it's 'ridiculous' the Big 12 doesn't play a conference championship game.

When informed of the comment, Baylor coach Art Briles lobbed a retort later in the day.

'Don't come down here to Texas and try to tell me how to do mine,' Briles said from Big 12 media days in Dallas. 'Jimbo Fisher needs to worry about the ACC. That's what he needs to worry about.

'I'm not telling him how to do their business.'

Well then.

For the past two days, there has been a lot of chest-thumping about Florida State winning the national championship and bringing it back to the ACC after it had been controlled by the SEC since 2005. Apparently, Fisher thought it was fair game to lob a few jabs in the Big 12's direction, too.

It wasn't just the ACC vs. the Big 12 or the ACC vs. the SEC either on Monday. It was also the ACC vs. the Big Ten. 

Earlier this month, Maryland coach Randy Edsall spoke to reporters of the school's move from the ACC to Big Ten, noting, “As a football coach, I feel better. Because I’m going to a football conference. I’m not in a basketball conference anymore.”

On Monday, Dabo Swinney fired back. 

“We just beat Ohio State,” he said, according to Laken Litman of For The Win. “Aren’t they in that conference?”

Indeed they are. 

Swinney wasn't done there, also contrasting himself to Steve Spurrier, per the David Glenn Show:

You can't blame Swinney for distancing himself from the head coach of Clemson's in-state rival, South Carolina. Surely, the Clemson faithful enjoyed that comment.

While Fisher and Swinney are known commodities, Pat Forde noted that one coach was a popular figure amongst the media throng covering the event:

A more known commodity, Frank Beamer, addressed the fact that Virginia Tech has struggled in recent years. Doug Powell of the Martinsville Bulletin passed along the following picture of Beamer addressing the media:

The caption above the photo read, "VT coach Frank Beamer: 'I think anytime you haven't been as successful as you feel like you need to be or want to be then it's incentive for the following year. No question.' #ACCkickoff."

Virginia Tech should have more than enough incentive, then.

Meanwhile, ACC Football on Twitter passed along some excerpts of various coaches talking about the upcoming season. Duke's David Cutcliffe was one:

And Louisville's Bobby Petrino also stepped up to the mic in one of the most anticipated pressers of the day:

Of course, it may have been what Petrino didn't say—or to whom he reportedly didn't say it—that resounded loudly with the folks in attendance, per Dan Wolken of USA Today:

All in all, it was an interesting day for the ACC's coaches, especially when the proverbial shots were fired toward the other conferences. Suffice to say, conference pride is strong in college football, even as realignment completely changed several of the biggest conferences in the sport. 

Clearly, the folks in the ACC are keen to prove last year's national championship triumph by Florida State wasn't a fluke, but rather the start of an ACC trend of dominance. Time will tell.

But on Monday, it was abundantly clear that the ACC's coaches feel they are in the best conference in college football. 

 

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UCLA Football: Projecting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp

Jim Mora and the UCLA football team officially begin their quest for a Pac-12 title on Aug. 4. This marks the opening day of the Bruins' fall camp program in San Bernardino, California. 

Led by stalwarts Brett Hundley and Myles Jack, the Bruins return a relatively deep and talented roster for this upcoming season. In recent years, UCLA has relied upon young and inexperienced players due to depth concerns. Mora and his staff have done a great job of replenishing the overall quality on the team. 

As a result, there won't be too much of a reliance upon true freshmen to play extended minutes. 

This piece will be a preliminary picture at what could be the depth chart heading into the start of camp. Incoming freshmen will be included, based on their conceivable readiness to play right away. 

 

Quarterbacks

QB

1. Brett Hundley (RS-JR)

2. Asiantii Woulard (RS-FR)

2. Jerry Neuheisel (RS-SO)

 

What to Watch For

The real competition here is to see who will be the top reserve to Hundley. As is the case with mobile quarterbacks, Hundey could be prone to injury. 

In the event of a serious ailment, I believe Woulard would get the call. His overall upside is greater when compared to Neuheisel. On the other hand, a minor injury to Hundley—such as for a half or one game—would likely signal the insertion of Neuheisel. 

This battle will likely continue throughout the season. 

 

Fullback

FB

1. Nate Iese (RS-SO)

2. Tre Hale (RS-SR)

 

What to Watch For

Iese is a fantastic athlete. Coming out of high school, he virtually competed at every position on the field (sans offensive and defensive line). His athleticism and versatility should come into play this year.

Not only is he capable of using his physicality at the point of attack from a blocking standpoint, but Iese can also catch passes out of the backfield. He's one to watch for in fall camp. 

 

Running Backs

RB

1. Jordon James (RS-SR)

2. Paul Perkins (RS-SO)

3. Craig Lee (RS-FR)

4. Steven Manfro (RS-JR)

 

What to Watch For

This will like be a running back by committee for the duration of the year. Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone loves to utilize virtually his entire allotment of skill-position talent. With the pace in which UCLA's offense operates, the frequent substitution patterns are a necessity. 

James and Perkins will likely see the bulk of the carries. Perkins in particular has value in third-down situations—having the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. 

I have Lee ahead of Manfro due to his ability. In terms of natural talent, Lee has the best combination of size and speed within the unit. However, he's yet to compete on the collegiate level. He could be the big surprise for the Bruins on offense in '14. 

Incoming freshman Nathan Starks would be the biggest back of the bunch. With the numbers ahead of him, I think UCLA would like to redshirt him. Plus, it's likely Jack will assume the role as the bigger back for the Bruins in specified packages and situations. 

 

Wide Receivers

Y

1. Thomas Duarte (SO)

2. Mossi Johnson (FR)

 

X

1. Devin Lucien (RS-JR)

2. Kenneth Walker (RS-SO)

3. Jordan Lasley (FR)

 

F

1. Devin Fuller (JR)

2. Jalen Ortiz (SO)

3. Darren Andrews (SO)

 

Z

1. Jordan Payton (JR)

2. Eldridge Massington (RS FR)

3. Alex Van Dyke (FR)

 

What to Watch For

There might not be a true No. 1 receiver within the group. However, it's a very deep and talented unit across the board. 

The trio of Payton, Fuller and Lucien are the most experienced members. Payton is a physical receiver with a great set of hands. Fuller is very quick and could be a nightmare from the slot on crossing routes across the middle of the field. 

Lucien possess the most big-play potential of the projected starters. He's adept at plucking the ball out of the air with his considerable leaping ability. 

Duarte could ultimately become Hundley's favorite target. The rising sophomore from Mater Dei High School has perhaps the best hands on the entire roster. He's also sound in regard to his route running. His ability to separate from coverage—coupled with his size—makes him a walking mismatch. 

Two reserves to keep an eye on include Johnson and Walker. Johnson seemingly has a knack for getting open, and Walker is likely the fastest player on the team. He in particular could add a dynamic element to UCLA's offense. 

 

Offensive Line

LT

1. Caleb Benenoch (SO)

2. Poasi Moala (RS-FR)

 

LG

1. Malcolm Bunche (GS)

2. Ben Wysocki (RS-JR)

 

C

1. Jake Brendel (RS-JR)

2. Scott Quessenberry (SO)

 

RG

1. Alex Redmond (SO)

2. Kenny Lacy (RS-FR)

 

RT

1. Simon Goines (JR)

2. Conor McDermott (RS-SO) 

 

What to Watch For 

Offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is a master at cross-training the vast majority of his personnel for multiple positions. Surely this is done to compensate for any possible injuries. 

When looking at the projected depth chart, virtually every single player in the two-deep has the ability to play as both a guard and tackle. This is also the first time where depth doesn't appear to be a major issue. Klemm has done a masterful job of not only recruiting talent, but integrating the said talent from the start. 

The unit should be improved from a season ago. Physically, it also should be one of the bigger offensive lines in the conference. 

Quessenberry might be a redshirt candidate. He still needs to put on both weight and strength. In the event he does redshirt, Carl Hulick will likely play behind Brendel.

Moala and Lacy both have the talent to be very good down the road. Each can play both tackle and guard in a pinch. With Goines' injury history, it will be vital to get another option ready for action.

The addition of Bunche also helps to add experience to a relatively young group. 

 

Defensive Line

LDE

1. Owamagbe Odighizuwa (RS-SR)

2. Kylie Fitts (SO)

 

NG

1. Kenneth Clark (SO)

2. Eli Ankou (RS-SO)

3. Ainuu Taua (FR)

 

RDE

1. Eddie Vanderdoes (SO)

2. Ellis McCarthy (JR)

 

What to Watch For

This is arguably UCLA's deepest and most talented unit on the entire squad. 

McCarthy is essentially UCLA's fourth starter on the defensive line. He's truly the lynchpin on the line from the standpoint he can play any of the three positions.

Depending on the situation (and the amount of pass-happy Pac-12 offenses the Bruins will see), it's very feasible to think defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will opt for a 4-2-5 alignment a good majority of the time. In this situation, McCarthy will start inside with Clark. 

Taua will battle Ankou for the spot behind Clark. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Taua eventually win the job. He's not exceptionally big, but he makes up for his lack of size with quickness and energy. 

The return of "Owa" from injury is also a massive development. The former 5-star prospect has all of the tools to become an all-conference performer. 

 

Linebackers

LOLB

1. Myles Jack (SO)

2. Aaron Wallace (RS-JR)

 

ILB

1. Eric Kendricks (RS-SR)

2. Ryan Hofmeister (RS-SR)

 

ILB

1. Isaako Savaiinaea (SO)

2. Zach Whitley (FR)

 

ROLB

1. Kenny Orjioke (JR)

2. Deon Hollins (SO)

 

What to Watch For

Again, the situation will dictate the formation. UCLA could ultimately be playing a great majority of the time in a 4-2-5 or a 3-3-5. For this piece, we will stick with the base 3-4 defense. 

The duo of Jack and Kendricks could be the best in the nation. Kendricks is a tackling machine, and Jack is one of the most exciting players in the entire country. The return of Wallace also gives the Bruins a veteran option with starting experience. 

Depth at outside linebacker will be something to watch. Both Orjioke and Hollins are talented, but they are also inexperienced. Orjioke has all of the physical tools to be very good. Hollins could be a force on third-down situations as a rusher off of the edge.

It would not be a shock to see incoming freshman Kenny Young usurp the gig behind Kendricks in the middle. 

 

Secondary

CB

1. Fabian Moreau (JR)

2. Adarius Pickett (FR)

3. Denzel Fisher (FR)

 

FS

1. Anthony Jefferson (RS-SR)

2. Ron Robinson (FR)

3. Jaleel Wadood (FR)

 

SS

1. Randall Goforth (JR)

2. Tahaan Goodman (SO)

 

CB

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Priest Willis (SO)

 

What to Watch For

This isn't necessarily the depth chart one will see once the Bruins open the season in Virginia. Again, the alignment will depend upon the opposition. 

I could see UCLA opting to operate out of the nickel a good majority of the time. In the event of this scenario, Adams will likely be the starting nickelback.

Versatility is the name of the game for Demetrice Martin's group. Jefferson has the ability to play as both a corner and a safety. If Adams is matched up versus the slot receiver, Jefferson will likely move over to the boundary as the outside defensive back. This will also depend upon the development of both Willis and Goodman. 

Goodman came on toward the end of last season. Physically, he might be the most gifted member of the secondary on the roster. He would, in theory, assume the other starting safety spot in a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 scheme.

Depth at corner is somewhat of a concern. Johnny Johnson and Marcus Rios have battled injuries throughout their careers.

Freshman Adarius Pickett enrolled early and will likely push for play time. Additionally, do not count out fellow freshmen Denzel Fisher and Jaleel Wadood. I'd think Wadood will see plenty of time on special teams early in his career with the Bruins. Fisher has great physical tools, but he needs to continue to get physically stronger and bigger. 

It should also be noted this is a veteran group. This is the only unit in which all four starters from a season ago return. 

 

Special Teams

K

1. Ka'imi Fairbairn (JR)

 

P

1. Sean Covington (SO)

 

KR

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Darren Andrews (SO)

 

PR

1. Ishmael Adams (JR)

2. Kenneth Walker (RS-SO)

 

What to Watch For

This should be a solid unit across the board. Covington generally looked good as a true freshman last season. Fairbairn regressed a bit from his freshman to sophomore year. Now a junior, he'll be looking to improve upon his 66.7 percent conversion rate from 2013. 

Adams and Walker should be dynamic options in the return game. Andrews has the pure speed to impact in the return game as well. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

UCLA Football: Projecting the Depth Chart Heading into Fall Camp

Jim Mora and the UCLA football team officially begin their quest for a Pac-12 title on Aug. 4. This marks the opening day of the Bruins' fall camp program in San Bernardino, California...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Big 12 Media Days 2014: Noteworthy Quotes and Reactions from Day 1

Big 12 media days didn't get off to an optimistic start.

"The answers are sketchy," commissioner Bob Bowlsby said about the questions surrounding major college football.

Bowlsby's state of the union address was one of many headlines made during the first Big 12 media day. Bowlsby lamented the direction of major college athletics, as well as the cheating that pops up all over the country. The conference also touted its "One True Champion" motto highlighting its round-robin schedule, a departure from other power conferences.

Baylor head coach Art Briles said the Bears are the reigning conference champs but still have to act like they're on the attack. From quarterback battles to incoming players, Big 12 media days provided many questions and some, but not many, answers.

That's what the season is for.

In the meantime, here were five things that stood out from the first Big 12 media day.

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Winners and Losers of 2014 ACC Media Days

The ACC Football Kickoff took place Sunday and Monday in Greensboro, North Carolina, and even though it didn't boast the excess of SEC Media Days, it did boast the defending national champions, the Florida State Seminoles.

Represented by head coach Jimbo Fisher, cornerback PJ Williams and, of course, quarterback Jameis Winston, FSU was easily the main attraction of the event. But with the fully afroed Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley (pictured above) among other non-Seminole superstars in attendance, it was not the only contingent worth seeing.

Here are some winners and losers from Greensboro.

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Nebraska Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

Nebraska football fans are ready for fall. Things will get kicked off for Husker Nation with the annual fan day on Aug. 1. From there, fall camp begins, which brings a lot to look forward to for fans.

One of the most exciting aspects of fall camp is position battles. The Huskers have quite a few positions that will have players vying for open spots too.

What positions are those? Let's take a look at the five most important battles to watch during fall camp.

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Notre Dame Football: 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

It may be the heart of July, but football is right around the corner. With Notre Dame opening training camp in two weeks, the long-awaited Irish season is (almost) finally here. 

That means after months of speculation, we'll get our first look at the changes to Brian Kelly's football team. After a 9-4 season came up short of expectations, the Irish enter camp with plenty of talent, but need answers at some key positions. 

The NFL draft plundered plenty of Notre Dame's top talent, with eight former Irish players taken. Competition to fill jobs will be fierce, especially with new coordinators on both sides of the ball. 

Let's take a look at the five biggest position battles heading into fall camp. 

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With the Heisman Trophy in Sight, UCLA's Myles Jack Is Shooting for the Stars

Why not?

As Myles Jack readies for his sophomore year as UCLA’s star linebacker, he is fully aware of what we’re saying. He hears the whispers of “Charles Woodson” and “Heisman," and he doesn’t run from them. He runs toward them, through them or over them, depending on the circumstances.

“If you shoot for the Heisman and you don’t get it, you really can't be disappointed,” Jack said. “It’s possible, and I’m definitely going to try and reach it.

“Why not?”

Why not Myles Jack, who is tipping the scales at 230 pounds after playing much of his freshman season right around 215? Jack admitted that he played “light” in 2013, although it certainly didn’t appear that way. When you consider the fact that he clocked in at 4.52 in his latest 40, his potential comes into focus. 

Then you remember he hasn’t celebrated his 19th birthday yet, which is a reminder of just how old you are and how much room he has to grow. And, despite the complexity of his situation, the growing will come at linebacker.

He proclaims his love for defense whenever he can, a mentality that aligns with his skill set. With his physical gifts, love of contact and a closing speed, this will be where he plays at the next level.

"Coming out of high school and a great program at Bellevue we thought he was advanced enough physically to play at UCLA," 247Sports national recruiting director JC Shurburtt said. "But we did not expect him to be at such a level to do what he does."

As one of the nation’s premier high school prospects, Jack was courted by many of the nation's best programs to play linebacker and running back. Some saw him on offense, including a handful of SEC schools that tried to lure the Washington product across the map. Others saw his future at defense.

“I wanted to play linebacker, so I cut those schools off,” Jack said on recruiting.

But he didn’t completely rule out the possibility of playing at running back at UCLA, especially as the injuries started to mount for the Bruins in 2013.

As Jack acclimated to college life and the defensive playbook, flashing glimpses of stardom at his position of choice, he was pulled out of a defensive meeting as the team readied for Arizona in a critical Pac-12 game. It was at this moment the mystique of Myles Jack started to take shape.

Jack was told that he could see some snaps at running back, and he was given one simple halfback dive to process. Although it was unique from his routine, he didn’t think much of it leading into the game. In fact, he thought the coaches were joking.

“I kind of blew them off,” Jack said, laughing as he thought back on the conversations.

The coaches, however, were not joking.

After coming off the field on defense in the second quarter against the Wildcats, Jack found out at that exact moment that these conversations leading up to the game were authentic.

“The next thing I know, someone is grabbing me, pulling me on the field,” Jack said. “I was nervous. I just looked at the sticks, and I said to myself, ‘Myles, you can get a yard.’”

He got the yard and 28 more. The coaches responded by doing exactly what any sane football mind would have done.

Give him the ball again. And again. And a few more times.

Jack carried the ball five times before the fourth quarter, asking quarterback Brett Hundley which way he should run on each carry. Hundley, who couldn’t help but crack a smile, used his thumb to tell Jack which direction he should run. It wasn’t a perfect system, but goodness was it effective.

With the game close in the fourth quarter, Jack took his final carry on 3rd-and-2 as UCLA looked to put the game out of reach. Jack made one move to find a hole—a move you simply don’t see out of many running backs, let alone linebackers filling in—and he was gone.

For the game, Jack finished with 120 yards on six carries. He also recorded eight tackles and a fumble recovery on defense. In roughly 90 minutes, a Heisman campaign was born.

The following week, he carried the ball 13 times and scored four touchdowns against a ranked Washington team. After Washington, Jack ran for 89 yards and scored again in the Bruins’ loss to Arizona State.

All told, he carried the ball 38 times, scored seven touchdowns and averaged more than seven yards per carry for the season. His workload decreased over the final two games, and he logged only one carry in the team’s Sun Bowl win against Virginia Tech.

He did, however, find the end zone in that game, thanks to an interception he took back the other way. He also added a sack, showing off the full spectrum of ways he can impact a game.

I suppose this is the perfect time to remind you that the Pac-12’s Offensive and Defensive Freshman Player of the Year—yes, he won both—is still 18 years old. He will turn 19 a few days after UCLA opens against Virginia.

“Last year I was playing and just reacting, and it worked out,” Jack said. “But I missed out on a lot of opportunities that I would have capitalized on if I had the knowledge that I do right now.”

A lot has changed for Jack in the last year. Not just physically or his football acumen, but with his everyday life. At this time in 2013, he was relatively unknown beyond recruiting junkies, hopefully optimistic that he would see the field in some capacity.

Now, he can no longer get to class without hearing the praise from the student body. He admits he enjoys it, but he also recognizes how different things are, how much work there is still to be done and the sudden rush of expectations.

The attention isn’t just limited to the student body, either. Kennedy Polamalu, UCLA’s new running backs coach, is becoming an increasingly familiar fixture in Jack’s life. Polamalu’s resume of coached running backs includes Fred Taylor, Maurice Jones-Drew and Reggie Bush for starters, and he’s been sure to remind Jack of this often.

“Every time I see him, he will recruit me to play running back,” Jack laughed. “He throws those names at me and says I could be one of those, and it’s hard to pass up. It’s an offer I can’t say no to, but one I have to say no to.”

Last season, Jack ran for UCLA out of necessity. Injuries hampered the UCLA backfield, forcing the coaches to play defenders in unfamiliar positions. Eddie Vanderdoes, the team’s monstrous defensive tackle, found the end zone against USC on a one-yard run. Holes were plugged, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.

With the backfield healthy again and options aplenty, Jack’s role has still yet to be defined. The defensive part is a given, and he’s expected to be a fixture on one of the most athletic units in the country.

But he will get carries, it’s just a matter of how many and in what capacity. Jim Mora, his head coach, has already made that clear.

.@Mike_Yam: Will Jack be on offense this year? Mora: "He’s gonna touch the ball on offense. Don’t know how many times, but he’ll touch it."

— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) April 28, 2014

Whether his workload is comparable to last season or something more will depend likely on the productivity of the position early on.

“With the guys we have right now, they don’t need me. It’s really all on the coaches," Jack said. “Whenever they’re ready, I’m ready. I want to do it again if it’s possible.”

The defensive numbers will be there. 

He should blow by the 77 tackles from a season ago and also add sacks and interceptions, something he proved he was capable of early on. Regardless of the fans suddenly swarming him on campus, the coaches recruiting him long after he’s committed and the columns highlighting his unique situation, he is still fine-tuning at his position.

“Right now, I’m focused on trying to become the best defensive player in the country.” Jack said.

This is where it will remain, on his job and on a team positioned for a College Football Playoff run. But if the production comes from both sides of the ball and UCLA finds itself in the Top 10 come November, a run at the Heisman could take shape.

“I’m all about shooting for the stars,” Jack said.

After all, why not?

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

With the Heisman Trophy in Sight, UCLA's Myles Jack Is Shooting for the Stars

Why not? As Myles Jack readies for his sophomore year as UCLA’s star linebacker, he is fully aware of what we’re saying. He hears the whispers of “Charles Woodson” and “Heisman," and he doesn ’t run from them...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

College Football Handicapping: Odds and Picks to Win ACC

With fewer than six weeks before the start of another season of college football, Division IA teams all over the nation are busy preparing for what could be an historic run towards a berth in the first ever four-team playoff format for this year’s National Championship.

It is obvious that certain teams, such as the defending champion Florida State Seminoles, have much better odds to make it into that field of four. However, most likely, the top contenders will first have to successfully win their respective conference title to be considered for a bid.

Doc’s Sports has recently updated its NCAA football futures odds for all five of the major conferences in Division IA, and at the top of that list are the betting odds to win the ACC. Florida State ran through the ACC last season with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play and a lopsided 45-7 victory over Duke in the title game as a 30-point favorite. This was all part of an overall record of 14-0 that culminated with a stirring 34-31 victory over Auburn as a 10.5-point favorite to win the final BCS title game.

This was the Seminoles second straight ACC title, so it should come as no surprise that they have been listed as prohibitive 4-11 favorites to make it three in a row. Head coach Jimbo Fisher is well known for his ability to attract some of the best high school talent in the nation to his football program, but he struck gold when quarterback Jameis Winston came to Tallahassee.

Last year in his first season as a starter, Winston took college football by storm, becoming the second straight redshirt freshman to win the sport’s most prestigious award: the Heisman Trophy (Winston is the favorite to win this season’s Heisman as well). The year before, former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman as college football’s most outstanding player, and Winston wasted little time continuing this trend by winning it last year.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner threw for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns while completing 66.9 percent of his 384 attempts. While he rushed for only 219 yards on 88 carries, he still proved to be a dual threat whenever the ball was in his hands.

Along with Winston, Florida State remains stacked on both sides of the ball with an offense that was ranked second in the nation in scoring in 2013 with 51.6 points a game complementing a defense that was first in the nation in points allowed (12.1). 

The big question sports bettors have when it comes to the 2014 ACC title is if there is any other team that has a legitimate shot at derailing this Florida State machine.

The closest team when it comes to futures odds is Clemson as a 10-1 second favorite. Both teams play in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, so that means the Tigers will most likely have to beat the Seminoles in a head-to-head matchup on Saturday, Sept. 20 in Tallahassee. Last season in Clemson, the Tigers were 4.5-point underdogs at home in a 51-14 beatdown that ended their run at earning a spot in December’s conference title game. Clemson is expected to take a step backwards this season after losing its dynamic quarterback Tajh Boyd to the NFL.

The next two favorites on the ACC futures odds list are Miami and Virginia Tech at 12-1. Of the two teams, the best value in these odds is probably with the Hokies for the simple reason that they do not have to face Florida State in the regular season. If they can get past Miami at home on Thursday, Oct. 23, this could set up a meeting with the Seminoles in the ACC title game as Coastal Division champs. In a winner-take-all format such as a conference title game, anything can happen, but it will be a stretch at best considering that Virginia Tech has gone 9-7 in the ACC the past two seasons.

The Hurricanes will get a shot at taking down their bitter in-state rivals on Saturday, Nov. 15 in the friendly confines of Sun Life Stadium. Last season they lost to Florida State 41-14 as 21.5-point road underdogs.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oregon Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Position Battles Heading into Fall Camp

Perennial Pac-12 contender Oregon heads into the 2014 season with one of the conference's most veteran first strings. Only UCLA returns more starters than the Ducks.

Still, plenty of a positional competitions will play out when Oregon opens preseason camp in just a few weeks.

Roles crucial to the Ducks' pursuit of a Pac-12 championship and berth in the first College Football Playoff are up for grabs on both sides of the ball. Head coach Mark Helfrich and his staff face some important questions when filling out the depth chart this fall.

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