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Sun Bowl 2013: 10 Things We Learned from Virginia Tech vs. UCLA

The UCLA Bruins defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies , 42-12, in the 80th annual Sun Bowl on Tuesday. It was a dominant performance by the Bruins, who pulled away for good early in the fourth quarter...

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2013 Liberty Bowl: Performance vs. Rice Shows How High Dak Prescott's Ceiling Is

Head coach Dan Mullen might finally take Mississippi State to the next level in 2014. He certainly has the quarterback to compete for the Bulldogs' first SEC West title since 1998. 

Sophomore Dak Prescott showed why he'll go into next season as one of the more intriguing quarterbacks in the SEC. In a 44-7 win over Rice in the Liberty Bowl, the sophomore passed for 283 yards, ran for another 78 and had five total touchdowns. 

Beyond the numbers, Prescott looked confident and in control of the offense. He had help from the running game, which picked up significantly in the second half after averaging less than four yards a carry in the first, and from his offensive line as well. 

But even when Prescott was pressured, he was able to evade while keeping his eyes downfield. He looks like a real playmaker. 

It's easy to knock Rice, and the Owls probably aren't a 10-win team outside Conference USA, but they're no slouch of an opponent, either. This is a Rice team that gave Texas A&M fits to start the season and hammered Marshall in the C-USA championship game. 

Rice's defense isn't anything to write home about, but ranking 33rd in scoring defense (NCAA) and 50th overall in defense in F/+ rankings isn't terrible either. For Mississippi State's offense to blow through the Owls after the long layoff is worthy of at least some praise. Not to mention motivation can sometimes be a factor in bowl games. 

The Bulldogs, led by Prescott, look motivated to make some noise in '14 as well. Prescott was thrown into the fire early and often while Tyler Russell, who started the season at quarterback, missed what amounted to roughly six or seven games with various injuries. 

The potential was always there for Prescott—he led the team with 751 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns in addition to his 1,657 yards passing—but he had some growing pains, too. He struggled mightily in losses to LSU and South Carolina, throwing four interceptions and zero touchdowns. He also played while grieving when he tragically lost his mother to cancer in November. 

But with a full offseason to develop, Prescott can enter next year with a leg up on other SEC West teams. The SEC was a noted quarterback conference in 2013, something that hasn't always been said about it in recent years. But Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and likely Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel will be gone—and that's just in the West Division. 

ESPN's Edward Aschoff is already fond of Prescott for next year: 

Auburn's Nick Marshall and Ole Miss' Bo Wallace return, but Prescott is physically gifted with a ton of upside. If he cuts down on the mistakes and plays more like he did against Rice, Prescott's ceiling will be unbelievably high. 

Keep in mind that Mississippi State also has a receiving group that, if it stays intact, can be special next year. The passing game wasn't great in '13—Jameon Lewis led the way with 703 yards and five receiving touchdowns—but the Bulldogs have the potential to put up a ton of points with some more time to come together. 

Bowl season can be a goodbye party for some teams. For Mississippi State, it was an exciting reminder of what's coming back. 

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Gator Bowl 2014: Players to Watch in Georgia vs. Nebraska

Two proud programs with great traditions will clash in Jacksonville, Fla. on Wednesday when the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs (8-4) face the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-4) in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.

Both teams are without their starting quarterbacks. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez (foot) and Georgia's Aaron Murray (knee) are each out with injuries. Both teams also have great success in bowl games historically, as Georgia has 27 wins all-time and Nebraska has 24.

This time around, Georgia enters the New Year's Day battle as a 10-point favorite, according to VegasInsider.com. The Bulldogs have the edge after going 5-3 in the competitive SEC with some close losses, while Nebraska limps into the game after a 38-17 defeat to Iowa in the regular-season finale.

Here's a look at key players for both teams on offense and defense heading into the Gator Bowl, in a rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl.

 

RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Listed at 6'1" and 232 pounds, Todd Gurley is one of the nation's most physically gifted backs.

Slowed by an early quadriceps injury and then an ankle issue that caused him to miss three-plus games, Gurley has still piled up 903 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns. He proved his worth in the regular-season finale, carrying the ball 20 times for 122 yards and three scores while adding another touchdown in the passing game, leading Georgia to a 41-34 win over Georgia Tech in overtime.

Not to mention this ridiculous stretch he made for the pylon.

As a true sophomore, Gurley is still a year away from being eligible for the NFL draft. But that hasn't stopped opposing coaches like North Texas' Dan McCarney from claiming Gurley is a "first-rounder," per John Carson of the Daily Southerner.

Nebraska ranks a respectable 28th in the nation against the run this year, allowing an average of 138.3 yards per game, and will have its hands full with Gurley's physical style. The Huskers already know that firsthand; Gurley carried the ball 23 times for 125 yards and a touchdown in Georgia's 45-31 win against Nebraska in the Capitol One Bowl.

 

RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

What Todd Gurley is to the Georgia offense, Ameer Abdullah is to Nebraska's.

The junior led all Big Ten tailbacks with 1,568 rushing yards to go with his 10 total touchdowns. Abduallah is sneaky strong, but what makes him so tough to tackle is his breakaway speed and shifty moves.

Listed at 5'9" and 190 pounds, the running back packs a different type of punch than his counterpart, Gurley. But that's just fine with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, according to Mark Long of the Associated Press.

There's no doubt they're both great backs. They're different. They have different styles, obviously built differently. ... But great players come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and a lot of different skill sets.

It's not like he needs much space to make something happen, but Abdullah should be able to find room to run against the Bulldogs, who give up an average of 148.5 rushing yards per game.

 

LB Ramik Wilson, Georgia

The main man trying to track down Abdullah on Wednesday will be Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson.

Wilson made some news earlier this week. The junior inside 'backer announced he would be returning to Athens in 2014, via Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph.

Wilson earned a starter's role this season and capitalized, playing himself onto the All-SEC team with a stellar season-long effort. With the moves that Abdullah has and Nebraska's quarterback situation in flux, Wilson's sideline-to-sideline speed should be on full display Wednesday

 

DE Randy Gregory, Nebraska

The junior college transfer has made a huge impact in his first year with the Huskers, leading the Big Ten with 9.5 sacks in 2013.

According to Jeff Elliott of the Florida Times-Union, Randy Gregory has added 25 pounds to his frame since setting foot on Nebraska's campus in July, bringing him to his current listed size of 6'6" and 255 pounds.

Gregory made a splash and earned the respect of the Big Ten in the process, as he was voted first team all-conference by the league's coaches. According to Pelini, the athletic defensive end is just getting started, via Elliott.

He’s only scratched the surface of what he’s going to be. He’s gotten better as the season has gone on. He’s playing at a really high level as some of his accomplishments are evident. I think being able to go through an offseason program, the ceiling is high for that young man. He’s a good football player, and he’s only going to get better with more time and really getting a chance to get into the weight room and develop during the offseason.

Gregory is eligible to declare for the NFL draft, but he told Elliott that he is looking forward to coming back to Nebraska next year to add even more muscle to his frame. He's just a sophomore now and there's plenty of room to grow heading into 2014.

But first, look for him to be a disruptive force against Georgia's offense in the Gator Bowl.

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Dalvin Cook Commits to FSU: Where Does Florida Turn Now After Missing on 5-Star?

The Florida Gators lost their No. 1 recruit, 247 Sports composite 5-star running back Dalvin Cook, to in-state rival Florida State.

Amy Campbell of Fox Sports announced that the No. 2 running back in the 2014 class had flipped his commitment to FSU Tuesday.

After being robbed of a blue-chip recruit during a down season, what will the Gators do now?

They'll look to pay it forward by setting their sights on pulling in a running back committed to another program.

Cook has been wavering on his choice for some time, which has actually given the UF coaching staff time to identify its contingency plan: Minnesota commit and 247 Sports composite 4-star Jeff Jones.

Just hours before Cook flipped his commitment to FSU, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted that Florida sent a scholarship offer to Jones.

Cook committed to UF in early April but had taken several visits since that time, most notably to Miami (Fla.) and Florida State. As Florida struggled through the 2013 season, the chatter only grew louder about his potential departure.

The Gators held out hope as long as they could for their prized recruit, but as his impending decommitment neared, they had to look elsewhere.

Luke Stampini of 247 Sports reported Monday that Jones would make an official visit to Gainesville. Jones is rated the No. 9 running back for 2014.

Jones and Cook are similar-sized backs and both are Under Armour All-Americans. Cook is listed at 5'11" and 190 pounds, while Jones comes in at 5'11", 196. Cook is the faster of the two and is a much more dangerous home run threat. Regardless, Jones would fit in well in the Florida backfield.

The Gators will bring back several experienced backs, including redshirt junior Mack Brown, sophomore Matt Jones, redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers and true freshman Kelvin Taylor. The foursome combined for nearly 1,500 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013.

Taylor was a composite 5-star from the 2013 class and saw his role expand greatly at the end of the season after Matt Jones suffered a season-ending injury.

Another running back to keep an eye on for Florida is composite 3-star Cortavious Givens. He could prove to be Plan C if Plan B, Jeff Jones, doesn't pan out.

But for now, the Minneapolis native and Gophers commit appears to be the top target for the Gators after the loss of Cook.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Virginia Tech vs. UCLA: Breaking Down Bruins' Dominant 2013 Sun Bowl Win

UCLA beat Virginia Tech at the 2013 Sun Bowl, 42-12, but the final score doesn't indicate how close the game was for much of the afternoon in El Paso, Texas. 

After Michael Branthover drilled a 22-yard field goal late in the third quarter to pull the Hokies to within four points (14-10), it appeared the game was either team's to win. 

The mystery didn't last long, however.

Brett Hundley threw two touchdowns late to cap off a lopsided fourth quarter that saw the Bruins outscore the Hokies 28-2, leading to the final score, as highlighted by ESPN's College GameDay:

Here's a closer look at what Hundley accomplished in the game, followed by an examination of how UCLA's defense was able to shut down the offense of Virginia Tech. 

 

Breaking Down Hundley's Huge Game

Hundley's performance was truly remarkable, and it highlighted the reasons why many NFL draft analysts are drooling about his pro potential. 

The redshirt sophomore struggled to connect with his receivers in the first half, as pointed out by Bruin Report Online:

However, he rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns, which was a Sun Bowl record, as Jill Painter Lopez of the L.A. Daily News relayed:

In particular, Hundley's 86-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter illustrated his freakish athletic abilities. 

The second half featured a different quarterback altogether, as Hundley actually lost seven yards rushing.

He made up for that lost yardage with a brilliant display of passing in the game's final 30 minutes, including a 59-yard dagger to Shaquelle Evans late in the fourth quarter to put the Bruins up by 30 points. 

Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times was convinced after that throw that Hundley is ready for the NFL, and he may be right:

Hundley played one of his best games, helping UCLA reach the 10-win mark for the first time since 2005 while making some history of his own, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:

If it was Hundley's last game for UCLA, then he surely made the most of his chance to leave on top. If he returns in 2014, then the Bruins will have a great chance of challenging Stanford and Oregon for the Pac-12 title. 

 

Bruins Defense Bares Its Claws

From Jordan Zumwalt's game-altering hit on Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas in the first half to Myles Jack's 24-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter, UCLA's defense took it to Virginia Tech's offense all game long. 

Zumwalt's vicious hit knocked Thomas out of the game.

He was flagged for the play, and many, including Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register, thought it was a dirty hit:

However, a closer look revealed what appeared to be a clean, legal hit.

 Zumwalt stayed in the game, eventually earning co-MVP honors along with Hundley for his efforts.

The entire front seven played tough all game long, and the culmination of the team's efforts on the defensive side of the ball was Jack's interception for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter—the team's second touchdown in 62 seconds. 

Backup Hokies quarterback Mark Leal simply made a terrible decision, and Jack made him pay. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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Sun Bowl 2013: Myles Jack's Performance Great Start to His 2014 Heisman Campaign

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has placed himself firmly in the running for the 2014 Heisman Trophy.

If there was any doubt about it before, the freshman standout cast it all aside with his performance during the Bruins’ lopsided victory over Virginia Tech, 42-12, during Saturday’s Sun Bowl.

Jack played an all-around solid game on defense, making his presence felt all over the field. But the highlight of his day was easily the fourth-quarter interception off Hokies quarterback Mark Leal that he returned 24 yards for a touchdown.

Not only did that play give UCLA a pretty insurmountable 28-10 lead at the time, but as Footballscoop.com’s Zach Barnett noted, it also effectively started Jack’s 2014 Heisman campaign:

The hype is certainly deserved, as the Bellevue, Wash., native had quite the 2013 season—one in which he starred on both defense and offense.

Defensively, Jack recorded 71 tackles (5.0 for loss), 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and two interceptions. Offensively, he stepped in for injured running back Jordon James, rushing for 267 yards and seven touchdowns on 37 carries.

For his performance, Jack brought home both the Pac-12 Offensive and Defensive Freshman of the Year awards, via Pac-12.com

Sure, he’s one heck of a special college football player. However, in the Heisman Trophy’s 78-year history, only one defensive player—Michigan’s Charles Woodson—has ever brought home the award.

For the rest, it’s been close but no cigar.

But what Jack has going for him is his potential to be a genuine contributor on offense for the Bruins.

Ever since head coach Jim Mora first decided to use Jack in the running game back in Week 11, it’s been nothing but positive results.

In that first game, he rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on just six carries to help lead UCLA past Arizona, 31-26. Jack followed that up by finding the end zone four times in a 41-31 victory over Washington, rushing for 59 yards on 13 carries.

It all bares an eerie similarity to when Woodson won the award in 1997.

That year, he contributed to Michigan's offense by rushing for 41 yards and a touchdown on five carries while catching 12 passes for 238 yards and another two scores. Woodson also was a difference maker on special teams, returning 36 punts for 301 yards and a score.

Although it's still a long way until next December, that hasn’t stopped Jack from making an early case for college football's most coveted award.

And with another year under his belt, there's no doubt he's got what it takes. 



All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on Facebook, on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.

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Sun Bowl 2013: Myles Jack's Performance Great Start to His 2014 Heisman Campaign

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack has placed himself firmly in the running for the 2014 Heisman Trophy . If there was any doubt about it before, the freshman standout cast it all aside ...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Chick-fil-A Bowl 2013 Duke vs. Texas A&M: Live Score and Highlights

Duke 41, Texas A&M 31—Early 4th Quarter

The No. 24 and ACC Coastal Division champion Duke Blue Devils will square off against the No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl this evening in Atlanta.

The Aggies are on a two-game losing streak, finishing out the regular season with losses to LSU and Missouri.  The Blue Devils, on the other hand, have the program's first-ever 10-win season under their belt, and are now hoping to add a bowl victory after getting run over by No. 1 Florida State in the ACC Championship game.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2015 5-Star DT Jacob Daniel Decommits from Washington Via Twitter

As Steve Sarkisian carries on in his transition from Washington to USC, the Huskies continue to feel the brunt of his departure on the recruiting front.

Sark already brought composite 4-star defenders Claudeson Pelon and Jonathan Lockett to Southern Cal, both of whom had ties to UW. Now, the Huskies have lost another prized recruit, Jacob Daniel, a 247Sports 5-star defensive tackle for the 2015 class.

The Clovis, Calif., native announced his decommitment on Twitter Tuesday afternoon (h/t Matt Prehm, 247Sports):

247Sports rates Daniel as the No. 5 defensive tackle for 2015.

While the 6'4", 298-pound defender hasn't switched his commitment to USC, some predict that it might only be a matter of time before he does. His two latest forecasts on the 247Sports crystal ball have him headed to Troy, along with Sarkisian.

However, Daniel did leave the door open as he begins the next chapter of his recruitment. Immediately after announcing his decommitment, he said that he still loves UW.

It might now be up to new Washington head coach Chris Petersen to build a relationship with Daniel and bring him to Seattle. Since Daniel is just a junior, he'll have plenty of time to do so before the 2015 signing period.

Daniel was one of just two commitments for 2015 for UW and leaves the Huskies with just one verbal for the class: composite 3-star offensive tackle Trey Adams.

The 2014 class is also looking relatively bare for Washington. As of Daniel's decommitment, the Huskies boasted just eight verbal commitments.

None of those commits are defensive linemen, though they are targeting former Boise State commit Greg Gaines on the middle of the defensive front.

The push and pull between Sarkisian and Petersen will certainly be something to keep an eye on in the coming months.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

2015 5-Star DT Jacob Daniel Decommits from Washington Via Twitter

As Steve Sarkisian carries on in his transition from Washington to USC, the Huskies continue to feel the brunt of his departure on the recruiting front...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Chick-Fil-A Bowl 2013 Duke vs. Texas A&M: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Aggies

Texas A&M and Duke are locked in a battle at the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, GA. 

4th Quarter: Duke 41, Texas A&M 38

For the full box score, check out NCAA.com

First-half analysis for the Texas A&M Aggies

Pass Offense: Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel needs to get more protection from his offensive line to make more quality throws. Give credit to Duke's secondary for sticking on the Texas A&M receivers. Manziel completed 18 of 25 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns. 

Run Offense: There were not any big runs in the first half. Manziel is doing a solid job of scrambling outside of the pocket and finding open space for rushing yards. The Aggies have rushed for 79 yards on 17 carries. Texas A&M needs better run protection in the second half. 

Pass Defense: Duke's pass offense is getting exactly what they want through the first half. The Aggies need to do a better job of containing Blue Devils WR Jamison Crowder. Quarterback Anthony Boone finished the half 13-of-17 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. 

Run Defense: There aren't many positive things to say about the Texas A&M run defense either. The Aggies haven't been able to stop Duke on 4th-and-short yardage. The coaching staff needs to make some adjustments on the run defense at halftime. 

Special Teams: A big blocked punt by the Blue Devils' special teams put themselves in great field position. Texas A&M needs a big kick return in the second half. 

Coaching: The A&M coaching staff needs to figure out a way to stop Duke's offense. Duke has scored five touchdowns and one field goal on six drives. 

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Georgia Football: 4 Ways Hutson Mason Can Take Advantage of the Blackshirts

The Gator Bowl is right around the corner and the Georgia Bulldogs are looking to get their second straight win over Nebraska.

And in order for them to do that, they will need Hutson Mason to have a big day under center.

Mason played well against Georgia Tech and with a month to prepare with the first-team offense, he should improve. However, he is going against a Nebraska defense that while is not the unit what it was back in the '90s, it can still make plays, especially in the secondary.

Here are four ways Mason can take advantage of the Blackshirts.

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2013 Sugar Bowl: 4 Reasons Alabama Offense Will Shred Oklahoma Defense

One of the more intriguing storylines in Alabama’s upcoming matchup against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl will feature a potent Tide offense going against a stout Sooners defense. 

Nick Saban’s offensive attack averaged nearly 450 yards of total offense this season and scored nearly 39 points per game. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops’ troops led the Big 12 in total defense, allowing just 336 yards per contest. That figure that placed them 14th nationally in that category, according to cfbstats.com.

The Sooners will present a stiff test, but there are four reasons why the Tide offense will move the ball and put up points when the two teams collide on Thursday night.

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UCLA Is Trending Up at the Right Time, but 2014 Will Be True Test for Bruins

UCLA has its first 10-win season since 2005, reaching the milestone Tuesday, Dec. 31, in a 42-12 rout of Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl. 

Aside from reaching 10 wins at the same bowl game as the 2005 Bruins, this UCLA season ends on a different trajectory. The program hit the double-digit benchmark twice previously in the BCS era, and each campaign—1998 and 2005—was the culmination of an era. 

After going 10-2 in 1998, the next six UCLA teams went 4-7, 6-6, 7-4, 8-5, 6-7 and 6-6. In the six seasons between the Bruins' 10-2 finish in 2005 and head coach Jim Mora's arrival before the 2012 campaign, UCLA never won more than seven games in any one year. 

Mora immediately adjusted both attitudes and expectations, and the result is a 19-8 record through two seasons. 

Perhaps nowhere was UCLA's refocus under Mora more evident than the Sun Bowl. Last year, the Bruins slogged into the postseason after the disappointment of losing the Pac-12 Championship game, then were promptly blown out of the Holiday Bowl by streaking Baylor, denying UCLA a 10th victory. 

For the Bears, the Holiday Bowl foreshadowed the Big 12 Conference championship that was to come in 2013. 

The Holiday Bowl rout also carried UCLA into 2013, as Mora detailed to reporters last week. 

"[The Holiday Bowl loss] created a real motivation for us going into the offseason," he said, per The Orange County Register. "It's carried through this season. Our guys are really focused on...trying to find a way to get win No. 10."

Ten wins is a nice number and a new standard in the Mora era, but it's not an endgame. 

This time, 10 wins are less signifying of a destination and more of a pit stop for UCLA. With Mora behind the wheel, the Bruins are cruising and gaining speed. Next stop is 2014 with a roster heavily stocked with returning talents—and very little time on the road.

The Bruins faced a bear of a schedule in 2013, drawing Pac-12 heavyweights Stanford and Oregon away from home—in consecutive weeks, no less—as well as rival USC. All three come to the Rose Bowl in 2014. 

Chief among the Bruins returning for next year is linebacker Myles Jack, the transcendent two-way star who won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. 

Jack's offensive load will be significantly lightened with a healthy stable of running backs operating under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. In fact, Jack's time as a two-way player may have come to an end, but that's for the best for UCLA. 

Jack will take up the mantle likely first-round NFL draft pick Anthony Barr carried as the leading playmaker for the Bruins defense. But that doesn't mean Jack's time reaching the end zone is over, as Virginia Tech learned firsthand. 

No Bruin caused Virginia Tech more problems than quarterback Brett Hundley, whose NFL decision in the coming days will shape UCLA's expectations for 2014. 

The redshirt sophomore had arguably the best game of his career, rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns and passing for two more scores. Should Hundley test the NFL draft waters, his second passing score will accompany many a TV analyst's breakdown on the quarterback's arm strength. 

UCLA faithful in attendance at the Sun Bowl let Hundley know he's welcome back for another year, as Los Angeles Daily News reporter Jack Wang notes via Twitter. 

Mora has also made his hope for another year of Hundley abundantly clear. There's no doubting how important Hundley is to UCLA's plan for a season that could exceed all expectations this program's had in recent memory.  

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UCLA Is Trending Up at the Right Time, but 2014 Will Be True Test for Bruins

UCLA has its first 10-win season since 2005, reaching the milestone Tuesday, Dec. 31, in a 42-12 rout of Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Is Frank Beamer the Right Man to Coach Virginia Tech into the CFB Playoff Era?

It's been a while since Virginia Tech has been, well, Virginia Tech. The program that Frank Beamer built from the ground up has been mediocre at best over the last few years and was just smacked with another dose of reality in the 42-14 loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. Fans are ready to hit the panic button, especially with the bowl system being introduced next season.

If there's ever a time to make a coaching change, now would be it. If the program truly believes the 67-year-old coach has lost his magic and can no longer keep Virginia Tech competitive, it's the perfect opportunity to start over with a younger coach who can bring in fresher ideas. It'd be similar to what Texas just did with head coach Mack Brown.

The only problem here is that Virginia Tech isn't Texas. There was no Darrell Royal or anybody successful before the current legendary coach stepped onto the scene. Before Beamer, Virginia Tech was an independent team just happy to qualify for a bowl game every once in a while. A couple of decades later, Beamer has the program in a position to compete for big boy bowls and national titles.

The question is: Who?

Virginia Tech would be wise to stick with Beamer. 

Beamer is the only coach who has consistently succeeded at Virginia Tech. There's no guarantee another coach will be able to hop on board and have the Hokies back atop the ACC. Sure, Virginia Tech has reached a bowl game every year since 1993 and has established itself as a respectable football program, but a lot of that was accomplished by one guy. Making a head coaching change would be removing that guy from office.

On a smaller scale, it's like asking the Chicago Bulls to replace Michael Jordan. Penn State recently had to replace Joe Paterno, and they ended up hitting the lottery by landing Bill O'Brien, but that was a once in a lifetime hit. Nowadays, programs are making coaching changes every few years because they can't get the hire right. Bringing in a new coach is scary, especially when it'd be the first head coaching change since 1987.

It's also important to note that other programs in the ACC are improving drastically. Florida State is back to being an elite program, Miami is making strides, Clemson and North Carolina are on the map, and that doesn't include Louisville entering the conversation next season. This is a competitive conference that would need somebody who could win right away. After all, you wouldn't replace Beamer and allow multiple years of rebuilding. 

But who?

Virginia Tech is not only in a difficult conference, but it's also only been relevant under Beamer's watch. The lack of consistent success and knowing that recruiting is difficult, isn't going to attract a top-tier coach to takeover. Yes, the Hokies recruit well, but they recruit strength in numbers rather than landing countless elite prospects.

Virginia Tech would pretty much be rolling the dice with a new coach, which is what it is doing by keeping Beamer on the sidelines any longer. However, Beamer does have 224 career wins under his belt and has 13 seasons with double-digit victories. The Hokies have no choice but to ride it out and hope he can figure things out.

The unknown is a scary place. A place that Virginia Tech should try to avoid as long as possible. 

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Virginia Tech vs. UCLA: Score, Grades and Analysis from 2013 Sun Bowl

If the 2014 Sun Bowl was the last collegiate game for UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, he put on a grand final act. His play was instrumental in the Bruins' 42-12 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies on Tuesday. 

The redshirt sophomore could bolt for the NFL in May or return to UCLA for at least one more season.  

The Hokies had no answers for the scrambling ability of the Bruins' star in the first half. Hundley ran all over them, including this 86-yard touchdown run that gave UCLA the lead.

In the second half, Hundley hurt the Hokies with his arm. He had 387 total yards (226 passing and 161 rushing) and four touchdowns (two passing and two rushing).

UCLA's defense took over for him in the second half.

Jordan Zumwalt's huge hit knocked Hokies' quarterback Logan Thomas out of the game late in the second quarter. Zumwalt was flagged, but the hit looked legal in the replay. You be the judge.

Thomas didn't return and any chance for the Hokies to win this game went out the door.

Mark Leal relieved Thomas, but he was grossly ineffective. He made a few decent plays, but he also had a few perplexing ones. This ridiculous decision led to a pick-six from super freshman, Myles Jack.

Jack is a complete stud and a future superstar on the college level, but this was a gift. Tech was completely overmatched in this one, especially once they fell behind.

Check out the grades for the key players in this rout.

 

Brett Hundley, A-

Although he missed a few throws early, his running ability gave his team the lead in the first half. In the second half, his two touchdown passes put the game away.

He still needs some refinement, but at 6'3", 225 pounds with amazing athleticism and a strong arm, Hundley is a big-time prospect. Don't be surprised if you see him selected in the first eight picks—should he leave UCLA. Andy Bitter of the Roanoke Times thinks that Hundley looks like a pro quarterback:

 

Logan Thomas, Incomplete

He had a decent first half as a runner. Just before Zumwalt knocked him out of the game, Thomas had produced this awesome run.

He completed 3-of-11 passes for 46 yards and rushed for 50 more before leaving the game. Had he not been injured, the game could have been closer, but chances are UCLA still would have won. Following the game, Thomas spoke about the injury (via Hokies Journal):

 

Jordan Zumwalt, A-

His big hit was the biggest defensive play of the game. Zumwalt also had 10 tackles and an interception. He may have to watch himself on the next level, though. The Bruins senior linebacker seems destined to wind up on Roger Goodell's hit list for helmet-to-helmet infractions.

Nonetheless, he played big in his final game for the Bruins.

 

Myles Jack, A-

 

Jack was all over the field. He made his share of big plays, including the pick-six. The future is exciting for this young linebacker.

 

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Capital One Bowl 2013: Biggest Challenges for South Carolina and Wisconsin

The 2013 Capital One Bowl features a couple college football powerhouses in South Carolina (10-2) and Wisconsin (9-3), and both teams face significant challenges in the upcoming contest. 

The Badgers are coming off a disappointing 31-24 loss to Penn State to close out the regular season on Nov. 30. The team has made it to the Rose Bowl the past three years (losing all three times), and it was a disappointment to miss out on another chance at a BCS bowl game.

However, safety Dez Southward made it clear in a recent interview that the Badgers will be approaching this game with full focus, as noted by Kevin Chroust of the Associated Press, via Yahoo! Sports:

We're not taking this game lightly at all. This is an enormous game. Just because it's not the Rose Bowl, just because it's not a BCS bowl game, it doesn't mean the opponent is not the same caliber. That's the case with South Carolina. They're above and beyond almost anybody we've played this year.

South Carolina lost just two games all year—both coming against ranked SEC teams—and finished the season with an impressive 31-17 win over Clemson, which was the No. 6-ranked team in the nation at that time. 

Though the two teams finished the season 10 spots apart in the final BCS rankings, they both feature special traits that could ultimately lead to victory. With that in mind, here's a look at the biggest challenge for both teams.

 

Wisconsin Must Rattle the Unflappable Connor Shaw

South Carolina won 10 games this year in large part because quarterback Connor Shaw proved to be one of the most unflappable and reliable quarterbacks in the nation. 

The senior signal-caller's final stats don't jump off the page, as he passed for just 2,135 yards with 21 touchdowns, adding another 511 yards and five touchdowns running the ball.

However, Shaw remarkably threw just one interception all year long. It occurred in the team's loss to Tennessee, which proved his worst performance of the year. The Volunteers had him on the run all game long, which forced him into many a bad throw. 

His ability to keep drives alive with both his arm and his legs helped the Gamecocks put together one of the finest seasons of any team in the nation. 

After Shaw led a three-point, double-overtime victory over Missouri on Oct. 26, Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting remarked on his toughness, competitiveness and poise:

For Wisconsin, it's going to take a relentless effort by the team's pass-rushers to keep Shaw from efficiently running South Carolina's balanced offense. It's easier said than done, however, because the senior has seen it all before and isn't easily rattled. 

 

South Carolina Must Clamp Down on Wisconsin's Potent Rushing Attack

South Carolina's defense was formidable in 2013, finishing the regular season as the No. 13-ranked scoring defense in the nation (20 points allowed per game). Led by pass-rusher extraordinaire Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks allowed just 202.8 passing yards per game and just 13 total passing touchdowns.

But the team was exposed a few times against top rushing attacks and finished the season allowing 4.05 yards per carry, 142.3 yards per game and 16 total rushing touchdowns. 

Wisconsin's offense could give South Carolina's defense some big problems.

Led by Melvin Gordon and James White, who combined for 2,803 rushing yards and 25 rushing touchdowns this season, the Badgers finished the year as the nation's No. 8-ranked rushing offense, averaging 283 yards per game.

Clowney talked about the upcoming challenge, via Chroust: "They can run the ball pretty well. They'll try to pound it at us. We've got to be ready to stop the run. I think they pass the ball a lot more than you expect. They do a lot of play-action pass."

That play-action passing game won't be hardly as effective if Clowney and his defensive teammates can shut down Gordon, White and Wisconsin's rushing attack. Should this occur, then South Carolina should be able to cruise to victory. 

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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Under Armour All-America Game 2014: Top 10 Uncommitted Playmakers to Watch

The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is an opportunity for college football fans to catch a glimpse of their favorite program's incoming freshman phenoms. The event, which begins at 4 p.m. Thursday on ESPN, features future Wolverines, Trojans, Gators and Bulldogs.

But not every recruiting process is complete at this point.

Several stars are still determining their ultimate collegiate destinations. Here we rank the top 10 uncommitted prospects scheduled to play Saturday.

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Orange Bowl 2014: Ohio State Will Get Glimpse of Future on Defense

Ohio State's defense has been the topic of much consternation over the past month-plus, thanks to subpar efforts against Michigan and Michigan State in back-to-back games. 

Come the Orange Bowl, some will get their wish, as Ohio State's defense is about to look a lot different than it has all season long. 

For some, it couldn't be much worse than giving up over 1,000 yards and 75 points in a two-game span. 

With those kinds of results, could the young replacements really do much worse?

We're about to find out. As many as four changes are in store from the defense that took the field in the Big Ten Championship game. 

Some of the changes are due to injury situations, and others are because of the flu bug going around the Ohio State locker room, but perhaps the biggest blow comes not from injury or sickness, but from an issue away from the game of football. 

Ohio State's best pass-rushing threat, Noah Spence, didn't make the trip to South Florida with the team and may not be able to be in attendance due to what the team is describing as a "personal issue."

Couple that with the news that Bradley Roby isn't a for sure go thanks to a bone bruise in his knee, according to Eric Seger of The Lantern, and you have two of the most important pieces against the high-powered Clemson passing attack missing. 

That means it could be on sophomore Armani Reeves to tackle the tough task of Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins (85 receptions, 1,237 yards, 10 touchdowns). 

Watkins is nothing but confident about his abilities and the matchup against either Roby or Reeves.

"I think I’m the best receiver in the nation and I think cornerbacks should have their chance," said Watkins, according to cleveland.com. "Overall I think I can’t be guarded, that’s just my mindset. But it’s definitely fun going against great cornerbacks."

Reeves has played in 12 games this season, making 22 tackles and recording seven pass breakups along with eight passes defended. Not bad, but he also hasn't taken on the combination of speed and size that Watkins possesses. 

As for the help a pass rush gives defensive backs, according to Brian Bennett of ESPN.com, the team is working to get Jamal Marcus and Steve Miller (no, not the band, you're better than that joke...but I'm clearly not) ready to go against the Tigers. 

Marcus and Miller have combined for 27 tackles, eight tackles for loss and five sacks this season. There's talent there, but it's a big step up from playing in situational roles to being expected to play nearly every down. 

The positive news is that Roby may still end up playing in the Orange Bowl, but according to Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, it could be a case of mind over matter for the star cornerback(h/t to Eric Seger of The Lantern): 

You’d have to ask the doctors. I mean, there’s—there’s a lot of injuries that—you know, it’s not an exact science. I always tell those guys, a mind is a powerful thing. A doctor can tell you one thing or a trainer can tell you one thing, but what’s in your mind and how well you can heal and what you can do is probably as powerful as anything. So we don’t really know.

Even if Roby sees the field, there will be other changes behind him, as Tyvis Powell gets the start at safety and highly touted freshman Vonn Bell gets the start at the nickel spot

Senior linebacker Curtis Grant is also an injury concern, dealing with back and ankle injuries that have bothered him off and on all season long. 

Yes, Ohio State will be playing nickel most of the game, trying to matchup with what Clemson likes to do offensively. 

What remains to be seen is if the changes in the secondary allow for better play by the defense overall or if it's a case of too little, too late for Ohio State. 

For those hoping the future is brighter than the 2013 season looked on defense, Ohio State will give you a good glimpse of what's to come—it just may not be ready to challenge a top15 opponent just yet though. 

 

*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens

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