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Army All-American Bowl 2014: 10 Best Recruits to Watch

The 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl brings several of the nation's star high school seniors to San Antonio on Saturday, Jan. 4. The action begins at 1 p.m. EST on NBC and promises to provide a peek at dozens of premier prospects.

Representatives of Team East and Team West step into the spotlight, ready to show off their skills against the worthiest of peers. Here's our rundown of the top 10 college recruits to keep an eye on during the game.

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Clemson vs. Ohio State: Factors That Will Decide the Orange Bowl

Clemson and Ohio State are a pair of teams with a lot to prove in this year’s Orange Bowl after falling short of their national championship dreams, and the relatively even matchup will likely be decided by just a few key factors. 

Each team boasts an electric passing game, with quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Braxton Miller among the best in the country at the position. 

However, each team has some glaring weaknesses on defense that could spell trouble when they take on these high-powered offenses.

How the Buckeyes defend the pass and how the Tigers defend the run could very well end up determining which team earns the BCS win.

 

Tajh Boyd vs. Ohio State’s Pass Defense

Boyd has been phenomenal all year long for the Tigers, completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

He’s what defines Clemson’s 11th ranked passing offense, and he could cause major headaches for the Buckeyes’ maligned secondary.

Ohio State is allowing 259.5 yards per game through the air, good for 105th in the nation, and is letting opposing quarterbacks complete 60.5 percent of their passes on average. 

The Buckeyes’ pass defense has been in shambles for a while now, and things might only get worse in the Orange Bowl, as ESPN’s Brian Bennett explains.

Ohio State's pass defense was in tatters by the end of the season, giving up 451 yards through the air to Michigan and allowing Michigan State's Connor Cook to throw for 300 yards in the Big Ten title game loss.

Add to that the uncertain status of top cornerback Bradley Roby (bone bruise on his knee) and top pass-rusher Noah Spence (personal reasons) and there could be issues. 

Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is putting true freshman Vonn Bell into the lineup at nickelback and moving Tyvis Powell to starting safety in an attempt to shore up the pass defense. But if Ohio State doesn't show major improvement in the secondary and make up for the possible loss of Roby and Spence, it could mean a huge night for the Clemson stars.

The one area that the Buckeyes might be able to exploit is Clemson’s penchant for turning the ball over in big games.

The Tigers gave the ball away six times to the South Carolina Gamecocks in their 31-17 loss and four times to the Florida State Seminoles in their 51-14 drubbing.

The Gamecocks and Seminoles were able to score six touchdowns off those turnovers, and if Ohio State can replicate that success, the Buckeyes have a chance.

Ohio State has picked off 14 passes this year, 39th in the country. So, they have some hope of intercepting Boyd, and need to do it frequently.

 

Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller vs. Clemson’s Run Defense

By contrast, the Achilles’ heel of the Clemson defense appears to be defending the run.

The Tigers are allowing 152.8 rushing yards per game, and the Buckeyes are in pretty good position to take advantage of this deficiency, as ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit notes. 

Running back Carlos Hyde has been huge for Ohio State’s offense since he returned from his three game absence at the start of the season, running for 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns in just 10 games.

He’s been the perfect compliment to Miller, who has had accuracy issues, but has managed to run for 1,033 yards and 10 scores of his own.

The pair should tax Clemson’s subpar run defense, and Hyde has grand designs on even breaking Ahman Green’s Orange Bowl record for rushing yards.

"Perfect ending for me would be beating 206," Hyde told Cleveland.com. "And a win. That would be the perfect way to go out." 

However, it’s not totally inconceivable that the Tigers could slow Ohio State’s running game. 

In fact, Michigan State just offered a pretty good game plan of how to do so according to ESPN’s Todd McShay

When the Spartans got the Buckeyes behind schedule on down-and-distance, it enabled them to get creative with their blitz/spy combinations. In doing so they were able to bring extra pressure in an effort to sack Miller without leaving them vulnerable to him escaping contain and ripping off a long run.

There was a second-quarter, third-and-6 play that perfectly illustrated this strategy, and the Spartans' overall defensive approach. MSU brought a blitzing outside linebacker and a blitzing corner, but also left two defensive backs sitting back in a zone, watching Miller in case he eluded the rushers and broke free. It was a clear sign of MSU's intentions: It was willing to give up a 6- or 7-yard gain and a first down on a short pass, but it was not willing to give Miller room to tuck the ball and break a long run. And since Miller failed to hit his hot read -- tight end Jeff Heuerman, which would have given them a first down -- the gamble to bring pressure paid off, as OSU failed to convert the third-down play.

The Tigers’ defense is surely a long way off from the talented Spartans, but the Big Ten title game proved that Miller and Hyde could be contained effectively.

Both of these teams have incredible talent offensively; the key will be who can make stops on defense.

Each defense has its strengths and weaknesses. It will just be a matter of whether Urban Meyer or Dabo Swinney does the better job of exploiting his opponents’ issues.

If neither defense can adjust, this game could quickly turn into a shootout, creating a real Orange Bowl to remember.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn vs. Florida State Will Be the Highest-Scoring BCS Championship Game Ever

The Auburn Tigers, riding miracles and dreams to the BCS National Championship Game, are expected to be trounced by the Florida State Seminoles on Monday.

I suspect that won't last very long.

In its grand farewell, the stage is set for an epic BCS Championship Game—two dramatically different styles of play and opponents from diametrically-opposed conferences.

The storylines, now well-established, differ as much as any two opponents' storylines have in college football's pinnacle game. The scene, as the BCS makes its exit after 16 exciting and frustrating years, is almost serendipitous in its beauty.

It should be one for the record books, too. Both teams rank in the nation's top ten scoring offenses and are led by Heisman finalists. One of them, in fact, even took the trophy.

Let's take a look at both teams and review why this BCS Championship Game could smash the record of 79 combined points scored in Texas' win over USC in 2006.

 

The Teams

College basketball's March Madness is known for Cinderella stories. George Mason, Dunk City and many others have graced the big stage with unexpected success.

Auburn may just be the biggest Cinderella story the BCS National Championship Game has ever seen.

Coming off of a year that saw a three-win season run its coach out of town, the Tigers were picked fifth in the SEC West behind juggernauts like Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Even lowly Ole Miss was picked higher.

Dashing expectations, new head coach Gus Malzahn and his dynamic offense lost just one game en route to playing for a national title for the second time in four years. It didn't come easily, though.

The Tigers needed a touchdown with 10 seconds left to sneak past Mississippi State—a lucky bounce off of a sure-fire interception to beat Georgia. And a nearly impossible missed field goal return for a touchdown to topple Alabama. Granted, those miracles are often needed in a conference that has produced the previous seven national champions. This is a once-in-a-lifetime story of an unbelievably talented coach, a historic turnaround and an amazingly lucky season.

For Florida State, the story is different. Very different.

Four-year head coach Jimbo Fisher has compiled a gaudy 44-10 overall record in Tallahassee and the Seminoles entered this season picked second in the ACC.

FSU has an average winning margin of over 40 points, including a 45-7 stomping of Coastal Division champion Duke in the ACC Championship Game. Its closest win came in a 48-34 victory at Boston College.

The second consecutive freshman to win it, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston leads Florida State into this year's national title bout as an 8.5 point favorite.

 

Why This One's Special

To begin, let's look at the obvious. These teams are special offensively.

Florida State leads the nation, scoring 53.0 points per game—a total of 689 points on the year. Only Oklahoma in 2008 came into the season's final game averaging more in the BCS era.

Auburn ranks ninth nationally, averaging 40.2 points per game with a total of 522.

That puts the two teams' total at 1,211 points scored thus far—exactly the same amount as the previous record-holders Texas and USC had scored heading into their famed matchup in 2006.

The defenses are similar as well, but when you factor in Florida State's 89th-ranked strength of schedule and its defense's relatively easy task thus far, it becomes clear that this year's title game could be explosive.

As with all successful teams, the leaders for both grabbed the attention of Heisman Trophy voters as well. Jameis Winston, the Florida State freshman phenom that racked up 3,820 yards of passing, connected on 38 touchdowns and averaged a 190.1 pass efficiency rating, took the Heisman in a landslide while Auburn's star running back Tre Mason placed sixth in the award's voting after rushing for 1,621 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns.

 

In Conclusion

It's not often that a Cinderella finds her glass slipper next to a crystal ball. Auburn has a chance to make that fantasy a reality, and Florida State's powerhouse is determined to ruin it.

This year's final edition of the BCS Championship Game is packed with storylines and intrigue, capped by Auburn's sudden rise to power in the Southeastern Conference. Both defenses will have their hands full—Auburn with a potent passing attack led by Winston and Florida State with a powerful run game led by Mason.

Whether you're rooting for the SEC's eighth-straight or for the Seminoles to end the streak, you can rest assured that you'll join millions of Americans in watching an offensive showcase of historic proportions Monday night.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Orange Bowl 2014: Viewing Info and Preview for Clemson vs. Ohio State

One year ago, Florida State romped Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl and then proceeded to earn a berth in this season's national title game. Clemson and Ohio State would love to follow the same path, starting with their high-profile Orange Bowl clash.

Clemson went 10-2 during the regular season, including a 7-1 mark in ACC play. The Tigers' biggest win came all the way back in late August when they knocked off No. 5 Georgia. They lost their other two games against ranked foes, Florida State and South Carolina, by a combined score of 82-31.

Ohio State took advantage of a very favorable schedule to win its first 12 games of the season. A win in the Big Ten Championship Game would have likely netted the Buckeyes a spot to fight for the national championship, but they fell short against Michigan State. How they respond is key.

With that in mind, let's check out all the important details for the Orange Bowl, followed by a preview and a prediction for which team will end the season with a marquee victory.

 

 

Viewing Information

Where: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida

When: Friday, Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

 

Preview

As mentioned, Ohio State isn't only going up against a talented Clemson squad, but it is also battling the disappointment of coming so close to a national title shot, only to fall short. Those types of situations are always ripe for a letdown.

The team's leadership is doing everything in its power to make sure that doesn't happen. Rusty Miller of the Associated Press passed along comments from senior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort about the task of getting refocused on the task at hand:

Obviously, we’re not going to where we thought we were going or where we wanted to be going, but we’re playing in the Orange Bowl and that’s a big-time bowl game...When you start going back to the coulda, woulda, shouldas, that’s poisonous for team. It’s our job as leaders to look ahead and make sure everybody is doing their business.

For Ohio State to come out on top, it must put the Michigan State loss in the rear-view mirror and get back to what made the team successful all season. That is, pounding away on the ground to control the possession battle.

The most amazing thing is how efficient the Buckeyes running game has been, even though opponents know what to expect. The top seven rushers on the roster are all averaging more the six yards per carry, including leading rusher Carlos Hyde at nearly eight yards per touch.

A lot of that is thanks to the improvement of Braxton Miller. While the quarterback is a key piece of the rushing attack, he also made strides as a passer, increasing his completion rate to 63 percent. It forces teams to at least respect the pass and play action.

It bodes well heading into a matchup with a Clemson defense that is giving up over 150 yards per game on the ground this season. If the Tigers completely sell out to stop the run, Miller should have some easy, moderate and deep throws available.

Clemson sports an equally dynamic offensive attack, although it plays in reverse of the Buckeyes. The Tigers lean far more heavily on the pass, which makes sense with Tajh Boyd, who threw 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions, leading the way.

Once defenses start dropping back to defend the passing game, that's when they use Roderick McDowell to take advantage of the soft opposing front seven. The end result is much the same, as both teams average over 40 points per contest, but they get there in different ways.

And just like Ohio State should feel good about attacking Clemson on the ground, the Tigers have to like their chances of beating the Buckeyes through the air. They finished second last in the Big Ten at defending the pass.

Moreover, Sharon Katz of ESPN notes Ohio State really struggled to contain the deep passing game:

The Buckeyes have been especially vulnerable against the deep ball. In conference games, opponents completed 39 percent of their passes thrown 20 yards or longer against Ohio State, seven percentage points higher than the Big Ten average. Connor Cook completed 3-of-5 such passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Big Ten Championship.

In other words, Sammy Watkins should have a field day. The outstanding junior wideout caught 85 passes for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, including scores from 96 and 91 yards.

Ultimately, it comes down to which stronghold is more effective—Ohio State's ground game or Clemson's aerial attack. It's an enticing duel that should result in a shootout not decided until the fourth quarter.

In the end, Ohio State has a slight advantage thanks to Miller, Hyde and Co.

Prediction: Ohio State 38, Clemson 34

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oklahoma's Sugar Bowl Win a Moment of Vindication for Co-OC/QB Coach Josh Heupel

For as much distress as he tends to induce among factions of the fanbase, you wouldn't think Josh Heupel has been a part of two of Oklahoma's best wins in the BCS era. 

As a quarterback for the Sooners in 2000, he helped win a BCS National Championship over Florida State, 13-2. Heupel also finished the year as the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke. 

As the Sooners' co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Heupel orchestrated Oklahoma's best offensive effort of the season in a 45-31 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl Thursday night. The Sooners had a perfect plan to attack Alabama's weaknesses in the passing game and against tempo. 

It also helps that redshirt freshman Trevor Knight had the best passing game of his young career, dropping dimes to his receivers down the field as part of a four-touchdown performance. Knight's development as a passer from Week 1 has made him a legitimate dual-threat, and Heupel should get credit for that. 

The play-calling and player development was all vindication for an embattled assistant whose job status has, understandably, been called into question.

It took most of the season for Oklahoma to find its rhythm on offense. Injuries to Knight and fellow quarterback Blake Bell created a revolving door at the position, and perhaps as a result, the Sooners didn't have much of an identity. Were they a power running offense, a zone-read/option offense or an Air Raid offense?

It was never abundantly clear because Oklahoma dabbled in all of it, none of which was effective. The lowlight of the offensive struggles came on Nov. 7, when the Sooners posted a season-low 12 points in a 41-12 loss to Baylor. Three days later, John Hoover of the Tulsa World opined that it was time for Heupel to concentrate solely on one aspect of his job and leave the other to someone else. 

Again, Heupel is a terrific quarterbacks coach. And he may someday be an equally terrific offensive coordinator, or maybe even head coach.

It's just that right now, in this offense, with these players, he can't do both. And both Oklahoma's quarterbacks and its play-calling are suffering the consequences.

2013 was going to be a year of offensive growing pains anyway. For all the heat former starting quarterback Landry Jones took for his "Good Landry" and "Bad Landry" inconsistencies, he still won more games (40) than any other quarterback in school history. He also finished as Oklahoma's all-time passing leader in yards (16,646) and touchdowns (123.) Replacing that kind of production was going to be challenging. 

Yet, Heupel has had the support of his peers and bosses. Fellow co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jay Norvell, a former play-caller himself, told The Oklahoman in October, “The thing about play-calling is that everybody who watches a football game thinks they can call plays, and it's really not that easy.”

No reasonable person should believe that play-calling is easy, but there is an expectation that it highlights the personnel in the game and attacks an opponent's weaknesses. It wasn't until Knight returned to the field in November from a knee injury that things began to come together offensively for Oklahoma. 

Against Alabama, the offense clicked in a way it hadn't all year, and there was nothing the Tide could do to stop it. If nothing else, it will make the offseason far more bearable than last year's, which followed a 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. 

However, sweeping conclusions can be made from bowl games, which is dangerous because no team is the same from one season to the next. Thursday's Sugar Bowl win doesn't instantly make Heupel an elite offensive coordinator or guarantee his job security for the long haul. 

But it does come at an opportune time that forces critics to admit that, yeah, he did a good job. 

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Sugar Bowl 2014: End of the Alabama Dynasty, or Just Re-Calibrating?

Hours before Alabama was thoroughly dismantled as more than a two-touchdown favorite in the Sugar Bowl, it landed yet another outstanding commitment. Tony Brown, the No. 9 ranked player according to 247Sports and one of the best cornerbacks in the class of 2014, committed to Nick Saban during the nationally televised Under Armour All-America Game.

It seems like a consolation given the unexpected on-field carnage that ensued shortly after, with the Crimson Tide still picking up the pieces of the night that was. Yet, in many ways, the pledge of the Texas star is much more than just another 5-star as a desperate position of need.

On a night when Nick Saban’s secondary was torched, Brown's pledge signifies the current state of Alabama football: Constant, dominant (even at the lowest of lows) and ever-changing. And there’s absolutely no reason to believe this assembly line will stop producing.

Talent leaves and new talent steps in. It’s why you can absorb the losses of quarterback AJ McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley—two exceptional talents and leaders who will be dearly missed in 2014—and still feel optimistic about what's ahead.

Nothing feels good in the current state, of course. Alabama’s 45-31 loss to Oklahoma on Thursday night was a Saban low point of sorts, at least statistically speaking.

45 points are most Alabama has allowed under Nick Saban (allowed 42 to A&M this season) #OUvsBAMA #SugarBowl

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 3, 2014

Give credit to Oklahoma. The offensive game plan was brilliant, and quarterback Trevor Knight delivered the game of his young career.

Each completed second-half pass for Knight was adding to his career high. He made it look easy at times, easily carving up a defense ripe with future NFL players. When Alabama appeared to finally pick up a little momentum, such momentum was halted with a third-down conversion, penalty or missed opportunity.

"I actually thought that the players responded in practice pretty well for this game," Saban said, via USA Today. "We put over 500 yards of offense up. Somebody had to do something right. I don't think that we played as well on defense as we're capable of or should have."

The end result is a loss in a major game, a rarity for the program. It was also the first time in five years Alabama lost two games in a row, a remarkable stat that is both hard to fathom and somehow not surprising.

With this losing streak enters doubt, something the program isn’t all that familiar with.

There was doubt when Alabama lost to Texas A&M last season, prompting state officials to publicly question the team’s head coach for his play-calling late in the game. Before that, there was doubt following Alabama’s special teams-driven debacle in a regular-season loss to LSU.

Now, doubt will surface over consecutive losses and the losses of key players that have been a fixture of this dynasty—and that’s exactly what it is—for the past five years.

Expectations will shift for the time being, and perhaps they should. Better yet, maybe they were unreasonable in the first place. As unreasonable as they might be, however, don’t believe for a second that Alabama will somehow become an afterthought.

Even on a night when seemingly nothing went right, the team unearthed another star. Freshman running back Derrick Henry came in with enormous recruiting hype and exploded in the final game of his first season. His 161 yards from scrimmage and two total touchdowns—headlined by this ridiculous 61-yard touchdown catch—is simply a sign of things to come.

Henry will be joined by T.J Yeldon in the backfield in 2014, who has unlimited potential if he can simply hold onto the football. Amari Cooper will be back and healthy at wide receiver, ready to return to 2012 form. Tight end O.J. Howard will be the nation’s biggest matchup nightmare, poised for an enormous season after a quiet bowl.

They’ll have to find someone to throw and hand off the ball, an issue that cannot be downplayed, but there are dynamic weapons in place.

Defensively, Alabama will continue to replenish its losses with young talent. Linebacker Reuben Foster will step in and instantly become the next great player at the position. A defensive line that featured a lot of youth this season will grow up some, and this soon could become a strength for this team.

The short term is not without its concerns—with the offensive line and defensive backfield clearly requiring fixing—but the outlook is still promising. And with yet another top recruiting class brewing, the future of the program remains overwhelmingly bright.

This is where the short- and long-term outlooks collide, and it’s also why Alabama has been positioned on pedestal by its lonesome.

There’s a distinct possibility that Alabama will finish with the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruiting class (again), a spot it currently sits comfortably at on 247Sports. The roster will lose key contributors, but it will develop young players and add potential future stars—like the gifted Tony Brown—into the mix in the coming months.

Expectations will change, but they shouldn't change much.

Maybe the days of winning back-to-back national championships are behind Alabama—a ridiculous bar it set for itself over the past few season—but it also seems foolish to brace for a falling sky given the bigger picture. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Alabama Mom Jumps Over Crowd to Fight Oklahoma Fan

Emotions ran high on and off the field during the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Oklahoma on Thursday night. A female Crimson Tide fan attending the game jumped into a pile of Sooners fans in an attempt to fight.

Michael Connolly, the alleged victim of the attack, tweeted that the Alabama fan is a mother of three who had her children at the game.

Currently, there are no specifics on what started the incident. 

The Sooners ended up upsetting the Tide, 45-31. 


UPDATE: Friday, January 3 at 2:30 p.m. ET

You knew it was going to happen. The parody versions of this video have already started coming out.

Here's the jumping Alabama fan set to "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus:

And, of course, the fine people over at Guyism.com gave it the Jim Ross treatment:

---End of update---

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Cotton Bowl 2014: Keys to Victory for Missouri and Oklahoma State

Two former conference foes will battle in Jerry World for a final top-10 ranking, as No. 9 Missouri (11-2) faces off against No. 11 Oklahoma State (11-2) in the 2014 Cotton Bowl. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight on FOX.

Truthfully, both teams had their sights set on a larger trophy than the one they'll be playing for tonight. Each squad had BCS bowl ambitions entering the final week, but fell flat—the Tigers against championship game-bound Auburn, and the Cowboys against rival Oklahoma in Bedlam. These are two high-quality squads that are among the best teams in non-BCS bowl games, and betting lines have the game at nearly a dead heat.

If both offenses are clicking, we should see fireworks. James Franklin is back from his midseason shoulder injury, and the Tigers offense put up 42 points and 534 total yards in the SEC championship. Clint Chelf and Oklahoma State are coming off their second-lowest point production of the year, but still average just a shade under 40 points per game.

Here are the keys for each team to salvage a disappointing end to the regular season and earn a Cotton Bowl victory.

  

Missouri

Pressure Clint Chelf

Harassing the opposing quarterback is always important, but Missouri's defense may not stand much of a chance unless Michael Sam and Co. can disrupt the Pokes' quick read-and-react passing game.

Oklahoma State has wavered between a run-heavy and pass-heavy identity all season, based on their available personnel, but have recently trended towards the latter tendency. What's more worrisome is that the Cowboys do not have a single receiver they force the ball to, but rather a plethora of targets that stretch sub defenses and exploit one-on-one matchups, per Bill C. of SB Nation:

The ball distribution here is lovely. Three guys see about one standard downs target per game, three see two to three, and Josh Stewart sees about four. And the production levels are incredibly similar. This is a read-and-react offense. Chelf reads the defense, fields the snap, and throws the ball for about an eight-yard gain. This game will test Mizzou's nickel formation, most likely, and put a lot of pressure on players like John Gibson, Ian Simon, Aarion Penton, and Duron Singleton to do well in isolated situations.

The Tigers are among the most prolific teams in the country in generating pressure, as their 38 total sacks ranks 11th in the nation. Oklahoma State's offense is dangerous because of how multifaceted they are, and disrupting their timing is the best way to force them into long down-and-distance situations.

 

Maintain Offensive Balance

Oklahoma State is arguably the best run defense Missouri has seen all year, as the Cowboys concede just 3.5 yards per carry on the ground, the 16th-best mark in the country. That will make for tough sledding for a Missouri offense that generally likes to surprise teams by running on passing downs out of shotgun draws.

Fortunately, the Tigers are balanced enough to overcome Oklahoma State's greatest defensive strength. Missouri only passed on 44.1 percent of their plays for the season, but have shown the capability to turn to the air when needed, like in victories against Florida and Kentucky.

Granted, the Cowboys defense is significantly better than the Gators or Wildcats were, but James Franklin has completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes just once all year. In their quarterback's final game, the Tigers might have to ride Franklin's right arm to victory.

 

Oklahoma State

Establish the Screen Game

Remember how I said Missouri needed to rush Chelf? The Tigers' supremely talented front seven will have its ears pinned back all game, and if the Oklahoma State offense finds itself in too many passing downs, it seems unfeasible that the Cowboys will shut down Missouri's pass rush all game playing straight up.

That's why a few sneaky counterpunches might be necessary to exploit Missouri's aggression and keep the Cowboys offense humming.

The Pokes already emphasize getting the ball out of the quarteback's hand quickly, but it's even more imperative to get their playmakers in space tonight against a Missouri defense that was gashed when Auburn operated in space. As Bill Connelly of SB Nation notes, the Tigers have had trouble defending screens in recent weeks, something that could be deadly tonight:

The offensive line, shaky in run blocking, is more than good enough to protect Chelf/Walsh for long enough to find an option in this relatively quick passing offense. Bubble ... halfback ... tunnel ... the Cowboys will screen you to death if you let them, and despite not blitzing very often, Mizzou has been vulnerable to screens at times. 

If Missouri's cavalcade of pass rushers are in straight-ahead attack mode all game, that is trouble for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State must work around the Tigers' playmakers, and changing the defense's rhythm should keep them off-balance and guessing.

 

Contain James Franklin

Oklahoma State will not concede 6.8 yards per rush like Auburn did. So while the Cowboys can reasonably expect to contain the Tigers' backs, dual-threat quarterback James Franklin is a whole different matter.

The Cowboys linebackers must be brilliant tonight, for the defensive line is severely undersized in comparison to a Missouri offensive line that has generally pushed around the opposition this season. We can reasonably expect Oklahoma State to employ a "spy" linebacker to keep track of Franklin, and pocket containment of the Missouri quarterback will be crucial.

If Oklahoma State makes Franklin and the Tigers offense one-dimensional, the secondary will have a golden opportunity to win the game.

All-American Justin Gilbert will blanket one of Missouri's big receivers, most likely Dorial Green-Beckham, and is capable of generating game-changing plays. Gilbert is not a one-man show either, as the Cowboys defense has limited opposing quarterbacks to 6.2 yards per attempt—a mark that is 10th-best in the country and tops in the Big 12.

 

Bottom Line

Missouri and Oklahoma State are two evenly matched teams with enough playmakers on both sides of the ball to stress the opposition. Expect plenty of big plays, not only from the offenses, but the takeaway-heavy defenses. Both squads are among the 20 best teams in the country at forcing turnovers.

Ultimately, the game will come down to the turnover battle and if either defensive front sevens can control the trenches and disrupt the timing-based opposition. Though this will likely be a back-and-forth game, I'll take the Tigers to come out on top.

Prediction: Missouri 33, Oklahoma State 30

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Every College Football Team's Best Moment of 2013

A comeback win. An upset victory. A breakout performance. A stellar all-around effort from an unsung hero. Maybe even just a singular play.

For each and every one of the 126 FBS teams that took the field in 2013, there was that one moment that stood out above all others, the one that every diehard fan of University X or ABC State will never forget.

Casual college football fans might not be able to recall such a moment for every team, which is where we come in. After culling through highlights, box scores and recaps of all the games since late August, we've come up with that singular best moment of 2013 for each team.

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Auburn vs. FSU: Complete Betting Guide for BCS Championship Matchup

The upcoming BCS National Championship is going to be decided when the No. 2 Auburn Tigers take the field against the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles.

After a wild year of collegiate football in 2013, these are the two teams left standing at the top. FSU was fortunate enough to go unbeaten and do so in convincing fashion, while Auburn shook off an early-season loss to LSU to become an absolute powerhouse down the stretch.

We are left with arguably the most exciting matchup of the season and one that should be an absolute joy to watch due to the teams and players involved. Perhaps the only way for things to be more thrilling is to have a wager on the outcome.

If you are seeking advice on which way to lean in this one, look no further. I have you covered. Keep reading for information on how to catch this matchup, plus my picks and predictions against the spread.

 

When: Monday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

 

Point Spread: Florida State -8.5, as of Jan. 3 via ScoresAndOdds.com

The ‘Noles are favored by more than a touchdown here, which means oddsmakers are predicting that the Southeastern Conference’s reign of dominance in the national title game could be over.

It’s a bold projection, considering the SEC has won all seven BCS National Championship games (since the format change in 2006) and also covered the spread in each.

Regardless, it’s not hard to see why FSU is being given so much credit. The program put up historic numbers in 2013 and was undoubtedly the best out of all the major college football teams.

Florida State won all but one of its contests by 27 or more points and also stepped up its game against ranked opponents. In four matchups against opponents in the Top 25 at the time of kickoff, FSU scored 200 points and conceded a mere 35 points total.

Give credit to the Seminoles defense for this outstanding run of success, as it ranked as the No. 1 unit in the country in points allowed. That helped the team slap together a margin of victory that averaged out to just more than 42 points per contest in 2013.

Quarterback Jameis Winston, the school’s freshman Heisman Award-winning sensation, deserves more than his fair share of accolades. The elite signal-caller finished the season with 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns on 237-of-349 completions.

He swept the major award categories, with College Football 24/7 noting that Winston just needs a crystal trophy to complete his hardware collection:

FSU did not rank as the sixth-most effective offense in the nation due to Winston’s presence alone—although it could come close—but also had plenty of help from star running back Devonta Freeman and a plethora of athletic, fast receivers.

Auburn cornerback Justin Mincy admitted that the matchup will be tough, telling Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated: “It's going to be a big challenge. That's all I've been hearing about -- their wide receivers."

It’s going to be a challenge for Auburn to cover all of these elite weapons with a defense that ranks No. 95 in terms of yards per play allowed. In the last two games, this group gave up a total of 1,029 yards to the Missouri Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.

While the Tigers have been fortunate enough to use their triple-option to generate even more yards (1,070 in the same span), it will be tough to be that efficient against a prepared defense that has been working on stopping exactly that type of attack for more than a month.

For that reason alone, it is worth backing the ‘Noles in the national title game. Factor in that FSU has gone 9-0-1 against the spread over its last 10 postseason matchups and you are looking at icing on the cake.

This is the only team in the nation that ranks in the top 10 for both defense and offense and it will put that on display against a one-dimensional Tigers squad on Monday.

While laying a touchdown or more against Auburn hasn’t been a wise play as of late, the Seminoles are going to prove that they are superior with a well-rounded, efficient showing.

Prediction: Florida State 45, Auburn 35

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South Carolina Football: Can Steve Spurrier Take Gamecocks to the Next Level?

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A mere four years ago, most Gamecocks fans would have jumped for joy at the thought of an 11-2 season, something the school had never seen in its first 116 years of playing college football.

Those fans familiar with the program's checkered history would have embraced it and likely accepted it as a one-time marvel, a signature event to be celebrated for probably the next 20 years or so until the next miracle season unfolded.

Now, after three consecutive 11-2 seasons, including three consecutive bowl victories, the miraculous has become routine.

Expectations are growing ever stronger that coach Steve Spurrier can actually take the Gamecocks to the next level—an SEC championship and a berth in next year's first ever four-team NCAA championship playoff.

Not only can it happen, but they may very well be favored to make it happen.

Although the Gamecocks will likely lose four draft-eligible juniors to the NFL, they only have five seniors, the fewest among FBS teams in 2013.

South Carolina returns eight of 11 starters on offense from the team that just polished off Wisconsin, 34-24, in the Capital One Bowl.

Granted, the loss of quarterback Connor Shaw looms potentially enormous. However, the Gamecocks won't be starting from scratch.

Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson, a battle-tested and proven winner at quarterback, will step in for Shaw. Surrounded by a veteran offensive line and established talent at running back and wide receiver, Thompson will be set up to succeed.

Defensively, the Gamecocks must replace both starting cornerbacks and three defensive linemen, including All-American defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and end Jadeveon Clowney.

Those losses may not be as bad as they seem. On the line, the Dixon brothers, Gerald and Gerald Jr., have extensive playing time, as does Phillip Dukes. J.T. Surratt is a returning starter at tackle.

The cornerback losses are more glaring, although that's a position that's one of the easier ones for young players to adapt to.

Between backups and the Gamecocks' recruiting class, immediate help should be coming at both defensive line and cornerback.

A look around at the competition in the SEC East doesn't exactly inspire fear.

Georgia has to replace record-setting quarterback Aaron Murray, and it will likely still be a work in progress when the Gamecocks play them in the third game of the 2014 season.

It's hard to say what's going to transpire at Florida, a team that remains in turmoil after finishing 4-8.

Even though Tennessee beat the Gamecocks this season, the Vols probably remain a year or two away from contender status.

Defending champion Missouri returns a solid base of talent and looms as the team to beat in the East.

In any case, the schedule sets up favorably. South Carolina gets both Georgia and Missouri at home, as well as Tennessee.

From the SEC West, South Carolina draws a Texas A&M team minus quarterback Johnny Manziel and any semblance of a defense in the season opener at home, but a late season date at Auburn will be daunting.

Outside the conference, only the season-ending road game at Clemson is cause for concern.

As with any team, South Carolina has to have a bit of luck. The Gamecocks need to avoid injuries at key positions.

Above all else, they need to avoid that one meltdown loss (see Tennessee this season) that has cost them a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

The Gamecocks have beaten the eventual SEC East champion each of the last three seasons, only to stumble against a team they were favored to beat.

For a fourth consecutive season, South Carolina should be knocking on the door of reaching the SEC championship and, with a victory there, the national championship.

Never mind knocking on the door. It's time for Spurrier and the Gamecocks to kick it in.

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Cold Hard Fact for January 3, 2014

Fact: The first Orange Bowl was played in 1935 between Bucknell and Miami. "Bison coaches took several days to decide on accepting the invitation to bring their team to Miami and finally said yes, but not without precautions—280 gallons of their own water supply from Pennsylvania to combat the heat."

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: OrangeBowl.org

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BCS National Championship 2013: Ultimate Guide to Auburn vs. Florida State

The final game of the BCS era is shaping up to be one of its best.

Florida State and Auburn have defined the 2013-14 college football season, so it's only fitting for them to be the ones who cap it off. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will lead his Seminoles (13-0) against Home Depot Coach of the Year winner Gus Malzahn and his Tigers (12-1) at the Rose Bowl Stadium on Jan. 6.

Auburn will be looking for their second title in four years while the Seminoles are in the title tilt for the first time since 2001 and look for their first championship since 2000.

In a sport that's obsessed with continuity, it's odd that Winston and Malzahn—the respective faces of each team—weren't even active parts of their rosters last season. Winston took a redshirt behind E.J. Manuel, a future first-round NFL draft pick, while Malzahn was the head coach at Arkansas State.

Soon enough, though, one will capture a BCS National Championship in his first true season at his position. With a little help from B/R's lead writers, here is everything you need to know before kickoff in Pasadena.

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Cotton Bowl 2014: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

This year’s edition of the Cotton Bowl should be a fun shootout between some familiar rivals when the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Missouri Tigers square off.

The teams may be in different conferences these days, but the Big 12 ties ensure that this matchup will be a fun one.

Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium will provide quite the stage for the battle between these two teams, pitting a pair of high-powered offenses against each other.

Below you’ll find all you need to know about the game, from its time and TV info to a game preview.

 

Date: Friday, Jan. 3

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

TV: FOX

 

Game Preview

This game shouldn’t be lacking in points in the slightest.

The Tigers are currently piling up 492.9 yards per game, while the Cowboys lead the country with their 440.5 yards per contest.

Yet, in pass defense, each team is truly abysmal—Missouri’s secondary allows 256 yards per game, while Oklahoma State’s yields 245 yards every game.

Combined with Missouri quarterback James Franklin rounding back into form after a midseason injury, this game should end up being quite the one to watch from an offensive perspective.

The Cowboys’ Clint Chelf should add to this excitement as well. Chelf only took over as the team’s starter five games into the season, but since then, he’s thrown for 15 touchdowns and run for six more.

But all this offensive firepower doesn’t mean that the game won’t have its share of defensive highlights as well. 

In particular, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam could cause headaches for the Cowboys’ offense, as ESPN’s Brandon Chatmon explains.

Look out Clint Chelf, Sam is coming for you and he’s been a terror for opposing offenses throughout the year. He led the SEC with 10.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss.

The senior brings a combination of acceleration and athleticism to the table that is very difficult for offenses to stop.

If OSU has any hope to win, it can’t let Sam spend his holiday season in the backfield in hot pursuit of Chelf, the Cowboys quarterback, and OSU's running backs. 

But the Cowboys are acutely aware of what Sam could do to the offense and are planning accordingly.

"We watched him on film and he's going to be tough for our tackles," junior Cowboys offensive lineman Jake Jenkins told ESPN. "I think it will be interesting to watch him and see how we perform against him."

Chelf isn’t any stranger to facing pressure either. Just watch the way he calmly threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns against the Texas Longhorns and their seventh ranked pass rush. 

This bowl will likely ultimately come down to which squad can make plays on defense, since offense should be no issue for either team.

Oklahoma State is fourth in the country in interceptions with 20, so if the Cowboys can avoid giving up too much yardage and force some turnovers along the way, they should have a chance.

But if Missouri can adequately pressure Chelf while scoring points of their own, the Tigers could easily win this instead.

Either way, this Cotton Bowl should be one of the most compelling matchups during all of bowl season.

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USC Football Recruiting: Analyzing the Jordan Poland Decommitment

On the surface, the recent news of Scout.com's 3-star offensive tackle Jordan Poland seems disappointing for those who follow the men of Troy.

After all, Poland has the size (6'8", 335 pounds) to be dominant at the next level, and Lord knows USC needs offensive linemen in this class.

Also, Poland was the first Trojan verbal commitment in the 2013 class and stayed the course throughout the Kiffin drama and ensuing Orgeron and Helton regimes.

Under normal circumstances, that disappointment would be understandable, but a look deeper into Poland's recruitment finds tangible reasons on both sides for the parting of ways, which manifested itself when Poland flipped to Arizona on Thursday, according to Blair Angulo of ESPN.com.

From Poland's perspective, it made sense for him to look around since USC made little—if any—effort to keep in contact with him after Steve Sarkisian was named head coach of the Trojans.

With four other offensive linemen having already given their verbal pledges to USC (according to Scout.com), perhaps Poland simply saw the writing on the wall and decided his opportunities would be better placed elsewhere.

Why would Sarkisian not be interested in a huge lineman with skills—albeit raw—when USC is in such need for "big uglies?"

Well, that was probably part of the problem for Sark—Poland is awfully raw in terms of his skill set.

While the potential is obviously there, Poland will need a lot of work, and with USC's depleted roster being a preeminent concern for 2014, recruits—even precocious true freshmen—might be needed to contribute immediately. That wasn't going to happen with Poland.

Part of the reason for Poland's lack of polish has to do with the fact that he didn't even play prep ball this year due to eligibility issues when he transferred to La Jolla High School in San Diego.

Even that wasn't a primary concern for USC's coaching staff, though, because originally, Poland was supposed to enroll early and get extra time in by participating in spring practice.

Therein lays the problem.

USC had four leftover scholarships form 2012, and one of those early entrants was destined to be Poland, but when it came time to consolidate that list of guys who could come in early, Poland was not available for whatever reason (academics?).

Speculation aside, whatever the reason for Poland's absence, it created a severe problem for Sark, who then had to scramble to fill that extra early spot—which he did when Idaho defensive lineman Don Hill signed with USC.

This could not have endeared Poland to Sarkisian, and to compound the problems even more for Poland was the fact that USC is dealing with limited available scholarships. Plus, USC already has one very big offensive lineman possibly looming as a commitment.

Damien Mama is a Scout.com 5-star offensive lineman who has professed a significant fondness for the Cardinal and Gold and is considered a real possibility to sign with USC.

If Mama doesn't come onboard, USC still has its eyes set on other, more accomplished linemen, such as Kammy Delp, a highly regarded prospect who has professed much love for the Trojans but has placed them low on his interest list because USC has yet to offer.

That may soon change though, as Sarkisian offered Delp while at Washington. Speculation has already started that he may do the same now that he is at USC.

When all is said and done, Poland's decommitment should not come as a surprise, nor should it be viewed as a disappointment for those who follow the men of Troy.

Instead, this was a decision that was mutually agreed upon by both parties, and everyone will benefit.

Arizona will get a big offensive lineman with whom they can take their time and mold as a player, and Poland will have an opportunity to learn and grow in his position.

USC will benefit because the scholarship that wouldn't have been used well with Poland can now go to a guy who can contribute sooner rather than later.

In the business world, this would be known as a "win-win."

In the world of scholarship-strapped USC, however, it was simply necessary.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC Football Recruiting: Analyzing the Jordan Poland Decommitment

On the surface, the recent news of Scout.com's 3-star offensive tackle Jordan Poland seems disappointing for those who follow the men of Troy...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Sugar Bowl 2014: Alabama's Defense Is Who We Thought They Were

Many are calling Alabama's 45-31 loss to Oklahoma a shocker, and rightfully so. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma's quarterback, played great football, hitting his spots down the field in a way that he has not shown in game action all season.

However, what should not have surprised people was that a quarterback capable of hitting his spots would decimate this season's Alabama defense. The Crimson Tide defense that showed up for the Sugar Bowl was the exact same unit that showed up all season.

In the battle of the numbers versus the game film, two wildly different pictures of the Alabama defense were revealed. The numbers showed an efficient, suffocating defense that, entering the Oklahoma game, had only one poor effort to its credit, against college football's biggest star: Johnny Manziel. For the numbers side of things, Manziel was merely an anomaly, something that no one would duplicate, and that said more about Johnny Football than Alabama's defense.

For the film folks, the Texas A&M game was simply the start of the revealing process, as the Crimson Tide cycled through players at the cornerback spot opposite Deion Belue. John Fulton, Cyrus Jones, Eddie Jackson and Bradley Sylve all got a go at the spot, and no one truly stuck at the position.

It was a very real area of vulnerability for Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. The coaches looked for an answer, and through 12 games, there was no clear resolution. That uncertainty showed itself again in game 13.

Although it is just one player, at one position, the entire defensive system of the Crimson Tide suffers from missing a part. Saban's approach is predicated on each piece playing its own role, and when pieces have to start compensating for a missing, or unreliable, spot, the system breaks down.

And that's what this entire season was about for the Alabama defense.

A lack of faith in the cornerback position led to safeties needing to help compensate. When Vinnie Sunseri went down with a knee injury, the brains of the secondary went down with him, and as Landon Collins physically filled his shoes, the traffic direction in the back end was lost. Sub-par corner play with youthful inexperience at safety working to cover that hole yielded a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, for Alabama, very few teams on the schedule were capable of cooking up that recipe to truly serve trouble up for the Crimson Tide. That, largely, was a function of the schedule. Bo Wallace at Ole Miss was not a good enough quarterback to make it happen. LSU's Zach Mettenberger hit some spots, but the LSU defense could not keep them in the game for 60 minutes. Auburn noticed the weakness, and as Alabama was forced to protect it's corners with safety help, the Tigers gashed the under-manned run defense.

The rest of the schedule was simply a non-threat through the air. Thus, the numbers looked good, but the reality is Alabama only played two quarterbacks capable of exploiting its glaring weakness. At least until the Sugar Bowl happened, where Knight picked apart the struggling Alabama pass defense and reminded the nation that the Crimson Tide was far from invincible.

For Nick Saban and Co., this offseason will be about finding some answers on defense. Jackson played well in spots but has to stay healthy, and stay on the field, to be the next quality Alabama corner. Saban has to find his Dee Milliner, Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie type players out of the group he has, and the kids he's looking to bring to campus for 2014.

Trevor Knight and Oklahoma deserve every manner of praise for executing at a level the Sooners had not reached for the entire 2013 regular season. They saw the weaknesses in Alabama that showed all season, and Bob Stoops' team took advantage of them. 

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Jameis Winston Wants to Go to Texas If Jimbo Fisher Is Named Head Coach

No vacant job in college football has been talked about more than the Texas Longhorns' head coaching job since Mack Brown stepped down on Dec. 15, and if Texas is somehow able to poach Jimbo Fisher from Florida State, it might net a Heisman Trophy winner in the deal as well.

According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston pledged his allegiance to Fisher by claiming that he would follow him to Texas if that situation presented itself:

Fisher finalized a five-year extension with Florida State on Dec. 31, per ESPN.com, but rumors regarding a possible jump to Texas persist.

In addition to the comment about following Fisher to Texas, Winston admitted that he went to great lengths to get Brown and the Longhorns program to notice him while in high school, according to McMurphy:

Despite Winston's obvious interest, Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com is reporting that Brown didn't believe that the Longhorns could secure him:

There is no question that Winston poses an interesting scenario, but it seems highly unlikely on many fronts. Contract extensions don't necessarily prevent collegiate head coaches from taking other jobs, but Fisher would look really bad if he left for Texas right after renewing his deal with Florida State.

Also, transferring wouldn't make sense for Winston since he will be eligible for the NFL draft after next season. Most view him as the prospective No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, but transferring would force him to sit out a year, and it would delay the entire process.

This situation probably makes Florida State fans a bit uneasy, especially with the BCS national championship against Auburn set to take place on Jan. 6. There is little doubt that the Heisman Trophy winner and his head coach are focused on the task at hand, though.

Perhaps Winston should have been a little more diplomatic in his response, but it is difficult to imagine any of this coming to fruition regardless.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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Cold Hard Fact for Friday, January 3, 2014

Fact: After Thursday night's win, Bob Stoops is the only coach in the BCS era to win a Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowl.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN Stats and Info

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Speculation Over: Art Briles Speaks for Himself, Says He's Staying at Baylor

Unless Art Briles is lying to, well, everyone, the Baylor Bears will keep their head coach. 

Amid rumors that he was close to interviewing with Texas for its head coaching job, Briles took to Twitter Friday morning to debunk the conjecture. 

If that wasn't enough, Baylor and Briles released a statement a short time later pledging the coach's commitment to the program. 

"I have no desire to pursue other coaching positions," Briles said. "As I've said many times, I am both humbled and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, and believe we have something special going here. I look forward to leading the Bears onto the field next fall at McLane Stadium and defending our Big 12 championship that our players and coaches worked so hard to win this season.

"There is tremendous excitement for our program's future, and I look forward to many more great seasons at Baylor. There is tremendous commitment from our University leadership, athletic administration, coaches and student-athletes - it truly is a great time to be a Baylor Bear."

The Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday that Briles could speak with new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson after the Bears' Fiesta Bowl appearance against Central Florida. According to the Statesman, Briles was interested enough in the Longhorns job to take it if offered. 

"Two sources, including one close to Briles, have told the Statesman that Briles would accept the Texas job if offered," Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis reported; though in fairness, Patterson never commented officially on his interest level with Briles. 

Still, Briles was one of a handful of coaches to be connected to the Texas job. Others included Florida State's Jimbo Fisher, Louisville's Charlie Strong, Vanderbilt's James Franklin, UCLA's Jim Mora and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio. 

However, Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times tweeted that Mora is not leaving UCLA. 

Though Briles agreed to a 10-year extension in November, according to the Dallas Morning News, he was still considered a top candidate to succeed Mack Brown, who coached his final game last week in a 30-7 loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl after 16 seasons with the 'Horns. 

Briles has also loosely been connected to the Washington Redskins vacancy, where his former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III plays. 

But it doesn't appear Briles is going anywhere for now, in college or the NFL. It's a good thing too. Briles is a top-tier coach whose turnaround in Waco ranks among the best in the modern day era of college football. In six seasons with the Bears, Briles has compiled a 78-60 record. Baylor finished the 2013-14 season with an 11-2 record and its first Big 12 title. 

With the construction of a brand-new football stadium, Baylor is making a commitment to football that should have Bears fans excited. As long as Briles is coaching there, Baylor will be a competitor at the conference and national level for years to come. 

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval. 

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