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Tennessee at Alabama Complete Game Preview

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It may have been the quickest answer running back Derrick Henry has given since he arrived at the University of Alabama three years ago.

He didn’t even wait for the end of the question, because as soon as the reporter got out “Have you thought about the Heisman,” Henry started repeatedly saying “no.”

“We're not focusing on that,” he said. “That's not our goal. Our goal is to get a team win every Saturday and go from there. We're not worried about that.”

While it sounds like rhetoric, to a man Alabama is claiming that’s been the difference in the Crimson Tide since the team held a players-only meeting following the loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 19.

According to Jonathan Allen, among those who spoke out during the 30-minute session included Reggie Ragland, Jarran Reed, A'Shawn Robinson, Derrick Henry, Eddie Jackson and Cyrus Jones, although the defensive end added that it was more of a team thing than any individual players speaking out.

The message was simple: Stop paying attention to what everyone else was saying, set aside individual concerns and put the team first.

"Can’t worry about accolades and us being No. 1 or No. 2, none of that stuff," Ragland said. "So we just worry about ourselves and trucking along now."

Since then Alabama has knocked off two Top 10 teams on the road and has also notched a shutout. With rival Tennessee visiting on Saturday, the defense has especially been clicking and last week outscored the Texas A&M offense thanks to three interception returns for a touchdown.

"Everybody started making plays out of nowhere," Ragland added. "Everybody was doing their job and everyone really focused and zeroed in the Georgia game, on the defensive side and offensive side."

Here’s everything you need to know for Saturday’s game against Tennessee, a long-standing rivalry known as the "Third Saturday in October."

Date: Saturday, October 24

Time: 2:30 p.m. CT (3:30 p.m. ET)

Place: Bryant-Denny Stadium

TV: CBS 

Radio:Crimson Tide Sports Network, Vol Network, ESPN Radio, Sirius 84, XM 84

Spread: Alabama -15, according to OddsShark.com.

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Ohio State QB Battle Is Over: Welcome to the J.T. Barrett Show

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20. It's easy to look back at events and make sense of them knowing exactly how they played out.

But with the latest development in Ohio State's unprecedented quarterback conundrum-turned-carousel, we finally seem to have reached the conclusion that was always meant to be.

Three days after benching Cardale Jones in favor of J.T. Barrett in the second half of the Buckeyes' 38-10 win over Penn State, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer declared that Barrett will be his team's starting quarterback moving forward. The move was hardly a surprise to anyone who witnessed the No. 1 Buckeyes' beating of the Nittany Lions, which saw Barrett earn co-offensive player of the game honors after tallying 132 total yards (30 passing, 102 rushing) and four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing) in relief of Jones.

After declining to publicly commit to a starter on Monday, Meyer did so on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.

"J.T. has earned the right to start Saturday at Rutgers," Meyer said. "It was a difficult decision."

To many, Barrett was the obvious choice—even prior to the season. After all, it was the reigning Big Ten Quarterback and National Freshman of the Year who led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record a year ago, before a broken ankle opened the door for Jones to win three postseason games and capture the first-ever College Football Playoff championship.

If you follow the thought process that a player shouldn't lose his starting status because of injury, Barrett never lost his.

Only Meyer was following a different line of logic.

In Meyer's mind, since it was Jones who finished last season wearing college football's crown, he would be the one treated like a championship fighter who needed to be beaten decisively to lose his belt. And while he's denied as much publicly, it'd be understandable if he felt he owed Jones the first crack at starting this season after he opted to return to Ohio State rather than enter the NFL draft last spring.

Thus, it was Jones who started the Buckeyes' season-opening win against Virginia Tech and, despite a pair of in-game benchings in the second and third weeks of the season, continued to keep himself in Ohio State's starting lineup for the first seven weeks. But over the course of the past two weeks, the 6'5", 250-pounder has seen his role decrease—at first subtly and then dramatically—as Barrett became a more active part of the Buckeyes' game plan as a situational signal-caller.

And as opposed to earlier in the season, Barrett has made the most of his opportunities in recent weeks, tallying a total of seven touchdowns (five rushing, two passing) in his limited playing time.

"Sheer production," Meyer said when asked to explain why he was making the switch from Jones to Barrett. "Red-zone production and third-down production were the two areas that made the difference."

While many expected Barrett to beat out Jones for the Buckeyes' starting job this offseason—just as he did when Braxton Miller went down with a season-ending injury two weeks before the start of the 2014 campaign—perhaps they underestimated just how long of a leash Meyer would give Jones. Although his season stat line has been steady—1,242 yards, seven touchdowns, five interceptions on a 62.4 completion percentage—the strong-armed Jones has been ineffective in the downfield passing game, completing just three passes of 40 or more yards through seven games.

With Jones struggling with what was supposed to be his greatest strength and Barrett having seemingly returned to his 2014 form in the past two weeks, the redshirt sophomore now seems like the obvious choice for Meyer. A more mobile quarterback, Barrett provides a dynamic in the Buckeyes' ground game that Jones doesn't, something Meyer sees as essential in his spread offense.

And while Meyer said Tuesday that he hopes to keep Jones active in Ohio State's game plan, he remained unsure of how exactly he would go about doing so. One would imagine, however, that Barrett would now receive a leash as long as Jones did, although the hope for Meyer is that conversation will never have to occur.

Then again, after the ups and downs this quarterback saga has seen in the past year, Meyer knows that there's very little he can count on at this point.

"Not necessarily," Meyer answered when asked if he was at ease with his decision. "I don't know if I'm ever at peace during the course of the season, because there's always stuff going on."

But with the way Barrett has played in the past two weeks, Ohio State's quarterback situation seems as settled as it ever has been. This was the solution all along—it just took longer than anticipated for the Buckeyes to arrive at it.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

5 College Football Teams on the Rise in 2016 Recruiting Rankings

With the college football season halfway completed, teams across the nation are hoping to close strong in order to build momentum for the final recruiting push before signing day.

So far, a handful of teams have already made statements on the field that are causing top prospects to take notice.

In other cases, powerhouse programs are hoping to solve their issues by chasing recruits who can step in and provide an immediate boost next fall.

Which schools are poised to make a strong push on the recruiting trail in the coming months?

*Teams listed in alphabetical order.

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Who Has the Most Difficult Remaining Path to the College Football Playoff?

Knock on Baylor's strength of schedule all you want. It's fashionable and, honestly, not inaccurate to do so.

Through six games, the Bears' toughest test has been against Texas Tech in Arlington and Baylor won 63-35. They've played two true road games, but they were against SMU and Kansas. According to FootballOutsiders.com, Baylor's strength of schedule ranks 57th in college football. That's certainly not the worst among playoff contenders—which, for this argument, is narrowed to undefeated or one-loss teams—but nowhere near the best, either. 

So, go ahead and get the jokes in now. In fact, you have one more week since Baylor hosts Iowa State in Week 8. Just know that things are about to change for the Bears in a big way once November rolls around. For as easy as things have been for Baylor so far, it has the toughest road ahead to the College Football Playoff of anyone in the hunt. 

How is that possible? It starts with looking where Baylor has been before examining where it's going. 

As David Ubben of Sports on Earth tweets, the conundrum with Baylor is finding the accurate intersection of its strength of schedule and on-field performance: 

In all, Football Bowl Subdivision opponents who have played Baylor are a combined 12-19. That's not including Lamar of the Football Championship Subdivision ranks. How can anyone really know what a team is made of if it hasn't been tested yet? It's a fair question.

At the same time, it's not like the Bears have struggled to put away lesser teams. On average, Baylor is outscoring opponents by 39 points per game and that number doesn't deviate too much depending on whether the game is being played at home or on the road. Though home games have been higher scoring affairs overall, the difference in point differential between home and away games is about a field goal. 

In short, Baylor has taken care of its business. While it's frustrating to watch the Bears bowl over opponents week after week knowing full well they're talented enough to play with anyone, it has gotten them noticed. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit called Baylor the best team in college football ahead of Week 7's game against West Virginia: 

With Baylor beating the Mountaineers 62-38, it certainly didn't do anything to hurt Herbstreit's statement. 

To be fair, a team's strength of schedule isn't directly indicative of how good it is; it only measures how hard it's been pushed. But, rest assured, Baylor will be more properly pushed in November. 

Below is Baylor's remaining schedule from Nov. 5 to the end of the season. Three of its five opponents—Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and TCU—not only have winning records, but are a combined 18-1. Baylor has to play the Cowboys and Frogs, the other two currently undefeated Big 12 teams, on the road as well. Of the playoff contenders, only TCU, Notre Dame, LSU and Memphis have as many road games against current Associated Press Top 25 teams as Baylor. 

That, of course, isn't even counting the K-State game on the road. Though the Wildcats have taken a step back this year, and were just housed by Oklahoma 55-0 at home, the confines of Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium haven't been friendly to Big 12 foes—unless your name is Bob Stoops, that is. 

If you think that's bad, check out the numbers against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Baylor hasn't defeated the Cowboys on the road since 1939. The stat is somewhat misleading since 1) Baylor and Oklahoma State didn't begin meeting regularly until the Big 12 era, and 2) the Bears were awful before the arrival of head coach Art Briles. Still, it's one heck of a streak that, for one reason or another, has yet to be broken. 

Assuming Baylor can navigate through all of that unscathed, it has a short week leading into a road trip to TCU. If the Horned Frogs keep winning, this could be a top-five opponent for Baylor and easily the toughest game of the season. 

Things end on an easier note against Texas—a statement that still feels backward writing—but there's also the whole matter of the Big 12 lacking a championship game. Not having a 13th game last year hurt the Big 12 in the playoff battle. It's too soon to know whether history will repeat itself again this year, but it will be on the collective minds of everyone in Waco if a similar situation arises in early December. 

Whether you think Baylor is the best team in the country, the best team in the Big 12, or neither, it's undeniable the Bears have looked impressive. Earlier this month, Max Olson of ESPN.com wrote this was Briles' "best Baylor team yet" and he's entirely correct. 

But can this team do what no Baylor-led squad under Briles has done before? It seems assured Baylor must go undefeated to have a legitimate playoff argument. The month of November will provide more than enough tests to see if Baylor is truly worth the title as one of the four best teams in college football. Because, ultimately, that's the only thing that matters. 

Even then, the path isn't so clear. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

J.T. Barrett Named Ohio State's Starting QB vs. Rutgers over Cardale Jones

Cardale Jones has never lost a game as the starting quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, but he took a loss Tuesday in the team's ongoing quarterback battle.

Coach Urban Meyer named J.T. Barrett the starting signal-caller for the Scarlet and Gray's game against Rutgers on Saturday, per Ben Axelrod of Bleacher Report.

Meyer said he's "not necessarily" at peace with the decision because he respects both players, per Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch.

"What goes on between the players is between us. There's disappointment [with Jones], but they're grown men," Meyer said when asked about the two players' reactions to the decision, per Rabinowitz.

While the Buckeyes are undefeated after seven games (all of which Jones started), the offense operated at a much more efficient level the past two weeks when Barrett took the snaps.

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report noted he'd already taken Jones out of his top 100 for the 2016 NFL draft prior to Meyer's announcement Tuesday.

Barrett entered the Maryland contest whenever Ohio State reached the red zone and served as the theoretical closer for drives, but he completely took over in the second half of Saturday's victory over Penn State.

Barrett ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and threw for two more scores against the Nittany Lions, clearly doing enough to convince the coaching staff he was worthy of the starting role.

The 38-10 win over Penn State was arguably the best the defending national champions have looked all season, and Barrett was a major reason why. He also directed touchdown efforts on all five of his red-zone trips against the Terrapins.

Here is a look at his total statistical production from the past two games:

ESPN.com's Danny Kanell believes Barrett is the best option for the Buckeyes moving forward as they look to defend their crown, while ESPN Stats & Info and ESPN.com's Joe Schad put Barrett's red-zone performance into perspective:

While Meyer did not name a starter during his Monday press conference, he alluded to the fact Barrett finally did enough to take over the reins, per Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors:

[Barrett] certainly had an opportunity earlier in the year and did not do it; same thing with training camp. Anyone who watched the game the last two weeks, he gets in—and I think we're doing a good job calling things that he's good at.

I see the same thing that you see.

It is not as if Barrett suddenly became a dangerous playmaker over the past two outings. He is the defending Big Ten Player of the Year who completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. He also ran for 938 yards and 11 more scores as a true dual threat in Meyer's offense and remained in the Heisman Trophy race until he broke his ankle in the final regular-season game.

Despite last year's efficient passing numbers, Barrett's pure speed and ability to run the read-option are what separate him from Jones. Kyle Jones of Eleven Warriors broke down how important that skill set was against the Nittany Lions:

Barrett's presence as a runner proved to be the difference entirely, changing the math for the OSU blocking schemes.

Instead of trying to block eight defenders with seven men, Ohio State would only attempt to block seven, leaving Barrett to handle the eighth man with a simple read. On the game's first touchdown, right end Curtis Cothran (#52) was intentionally left unblocked as the option man, and would make a bee-line straight for [Ezekiel] Elliott. Cothran's aggressiveness would leave his gap wide open, allowing the quarterback to waltz into the end zone behind a pair of blocks from his tight ends.

With running back Ezekiel Elliott, the true star of the Buckeyes offense and one of the best players in the country, as Barrett's running mate, the read-option will likely continue to prove lethal in Columbus this season.

Jones will forever live in Buckeye lore for his performances against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon after Barrett's injury that helped Ohio State win the national championship. Still, he has not produced the same numbers this season. In fact, Jones has seven touchdowns and five interceptions on the campaign and failed to throw for 100 yards against the Nittany Lions.

He has also largely been a non-factor in the rushing attack with 2.6 yards per carry.

Jones' biggest strength is his ability to heave the ball downfield and beat defenses over the top, but the Buckeyes simply don't have the deep threats at wide receiver to exploit that talent like they did last year. Ohio State is missing Devin Smith from the championship team in particular, and speedster Corey Smith is out for the season with a leg injury.

What’s more, Noah Brown is out for the year with a leg injury, and Dontre Wilson and Parris Campbell are both banged up as well. The receiving corps is dangerously thin at Ohio State, which hampered Jones' productivity against Penn State.

That leaves the Buckeyes with a run-first offense, which fits Barrett's style of play.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Auburn vs. Arkansas Complete Game Preview

One of the SEC's most underrated rivalries returns this Saturday as Auburn (4-2, 1-2 SEC) travels to face Arkansas (2-4, 1-2 SEC) in Fayetteville.

While these two West Division foes don't share much more than a division and a little bit of history, the rivalry aspect of this matchup stems from the two head coaches—Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Auburn's Gus Malzahn.

Bielema, who has been outspoken in his criticisms of uptempo football—like the one Malzahn's teams play—told a crowd at a booster club meeting it "probably doesn't need to be said in here how much I hate Auburn," per Brandon Marcello of AL.com.

Malzahn, an Arkansas native and former Razorbacks offensive coordinator, is still quite famous in his home state and has beaten Bielema in their previous two meetings, with the 2013 trip to Fayetteville causing quite a stir.

This season, their respective teams are a long way off from their high preseason expectations thanks to some dreadful starts to 2015. Both are no longer in the Associated Press Top 25 and have just one road win apiece against the SEC East heading into this weekend's matchup. It'll be another signature clash of styles Saturday as both teams fight for the win they need to keep their bowl dreams alive.

Before we break down Auburn vs. Arkansas—aka Malzahn vs. Bielema III—here is all the basic info you need to know.

Date: Saturday, October 24

Time: Noon ET (11 a.m. local time)

Location: Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas

TV: SEC Network

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network; Razorback Sports Network

Line: Arkansas -5.5, according to Odds Shark

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Florida State Seminoles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Odds, Football Pick

Florida State owns a 28-game ACC winning streak, going 14-13-1 against the spread in the process. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, is 0-4 both straight up and ATS through its first four conference games of this season. In a rematch of last year's ACC title game, the floundering Yellow Jackets host the undefeated Seminoles Saturday night in Atlanta.

 

Point spread: The Seminoles opened as 6.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 26.4-23.7 Seminoles

 

Why the Florida State Seminoles can cover the spread

FSU is off to a 6-0 start to this season after exploding on Louisville last week for a 41-21 victory, covering as a seven-point home favorite. The Seminoles trailed the Cardinals at the half 7-6 and 14-13 in the third quarter, then scored 28 of the game's last 35 points to pull away for the victory and the cash.

Florida State outgained and outrushed Louisville, won time of possession by almost 10 minutes and did the same in the turnover battle 2-0. Transfer quarterback Everett Golson threw three more touchdown passes, giving him an 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season, and running back Dalvin Cook ran for 163 yards and two scores.

The Seminoles struggled a bit in winning their first three ACC games—against Boston College, Wake Forest and Miami—but played perhaps their best half of football this season last week after intermission. If they can carry over with that performance, they'll be in great shape Saturday night.

 

Why the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets can cover the spread

The Ramblin' Wreck lost their fifth game in a row last week, falling at home to Pittsburgh 31-28 on a 56-yard field goal with just over a minute to go. This despite outgaining the Panthers by 90 yards and outrushing them by 176 yards.

Two weeks ago, Georgia Tech lost badly to Clemson, but before that, it fell to Duke and North Carolina even though it outgained and outrushed both of them, too.

Last year, in the ACC Championship Game, the Yellow Jackets ran the ball for 331 yards and gave the then-undefeated Seminoles all they could handle, losing 37-35 but covering as four-point dogs. A similar performance Saturday night might result in an outright upset.

 

Smart pick

Florida State is 4-0 in the ACC. Georgia Tech is 0-4. But the oddsmakers seem to know this game will be closer than those records might indicate. The smart money here backs the Yellow Jackets, plus the points.

 

Betting trends

Florida State is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games against Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech is 6-0 ATS in its last six games against Florida State.

Florida State is 6-14 ATS in its last 20 games.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Ohio State Students Surprise J.T. Barrett with Jump Pass While Walking to Class

Urban Meyer dusted off the old playbook on Saturday to pull out the jump pass he and Tim Tebow had championed at Florida, except this time it was J.T. Barrett who connected with Braxton Miller in Ohio State's 38-10 win over Penn State.

And fans loved it—so much so that a pair of students surprised Barrett with a re-enactment while walking to class.

The Buckeyes quarterback was amused enough to share the incident with Miller, who also tweeted about it:

[Twitter, h/t CBS Sports]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

SEC Football Q&A: If Alabama Wins Out, Is the Playoff a Lock?

Tuesday is SEC Q&A day here at Bleacher Report, and after Alabama's win over Texas A&M in College Station and LSU's nail-biter over Florida in Baton Rouge, there are plenty of questions to answer this week.

An SEC doomsday scenario has developed following Ole Miss' loss to Memphis this weekend. The Rebels' only conference loss is to Florida, and they still control their own destiny in the SEC West with a head-to-head tiebreaker over Alabama in hand.

Yes, absolutely, in one specific scenario.

The only way would be in the doomsday scenario mentioned above where Ole Miss also wins out and finishes the season at 11-2 (7-1 SEC) with an SEC title in hand. In that case, Ole Miss would get the benefit of a conference championship and a win over Alabama to show off to the College Football Playoff selection committee, while Alabama would be stuck without as much as a division title and that September loss to the Rebels hanging over its head.

I'm not sure if Ole Miss would get in given that scenario, because a lot would depend on what else happened around the country. But I'm positive Alabama would not.

Alabama looks like it's playing some of the best football in the country right now and Ole Miss is scuffling. But if the Rebels get right defensively, overcome some serious injury issues and topple Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi State and the eventual SEC East champ in the Georgia Dome, that would change the perception of the Rebels in a hurry.

That's the only scenario that would prevent one-loss Alabama from making the playoff, though.

If the Crimson Tide win out, make the SEC Championship Game and win it, they most certainly will be in the College Football Playoff. Ohio State has to play Michigan State, with the eventual winner perhaps facing undefeated Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game if the Hawkeyes stay the course, either Clemson or Florida State has to lose at least once, and Baylor and TCU square off in November.

Enough one-loss teams will fall down the stretch to make room if Alabama wins out and claims the SEC title.

 

Definitely buy-in to first-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain.

At this point, why wouldn't you?

He helped develop quarterback Will Grier into a star before his year-long suspension hit, adjusted the offense for backup Treon Harris in a pinch against LSU and nearly pulled off a tough road upset, successfully pieced together the offensive line after hefty offseason attrition, hired the right defensive coordinator in Geoff Collins to keep things cooking at a high level and has his Gators as the unquestioned front-runner in the SEC East.

Are the Gators elite?

That's hard to say with such a small sample size of "Harris 2.0" on their resume this year. But what can't be denied is that a win over Georgia almost certainly solidifies the Gators as SEC East champs, and could even officially give them the title if Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky fall this weekend to Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi State, respectively. 

Whether they make a push for this year's playoff or that has to wait until next year, this year's team has much more staying power than former head coach Will Muschamp's crew in 2012—which stayed in the national title hunt through rivalry weekend and earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl. That team wasn't complete. The offense finished 12th in the SEC in total offense at 334 yards per game, quarterback Jeff Driskel was hardly a weapon and Louisville exposed their flaws in New Orleans.

This one is.

The defense is still solid, McElwain has worked wonders for the offense and his staff is loaded with top-tier recruiters. 

Oh without a doubt, yes.

Derrick Henry has been a monster for Alabama this year, racking up 901 yards and 12 touchdowns in seven games for the Alabama Crimson Tide. You saw against Georgia in that big 38-10 road win and again last weekend against Texas A&M when he rushed for a career-high 236 yards in the 41-23 win at Texas A&M that, when he gets rolling, he's almost impossible to bring down.

Unfortunately for Henry, Fournette is equally as impossible to break down and has put up better numbers—1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns—in one fewer game. 

It's not just Henry who can make this gripe. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook has 955 yards and 10 touchdowns in spite of lingering hamstring issues, and is a huge reason why the Seminoles are undefeated.

Only two non-quarterbacks have won the Heisman Trophy since the turn of the century, and the quarterback-centric nature of the award makes it hard for multiple running backs to legitimately jump into the conversation.

Right now, it's Fournette who's driving the running back bandwagon. If that continues, Henry's chances to win the award are nonexistent. 

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Ishmael Adams Charged with Battery: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

UCLA defensive back Ishmael Adams was charged Monday with misdemeanor battery in relation to an August incident involving an Uber driver.  

Kyle Bonagura of ESPN.com notes Los Angeles city attorney spokesman Rob Wilcox confirmed charges had officially been filed. UCLA spokesman Josh Rupprecht stated the junior won't face any further school discipline for the incident after already sitting out the first three games of the season.

The report included prior comments from Bruins head coach Jim Mora, who felt Adams had faced enough punishment, but he left the door open to reverse course if new details emerged:

We feel as a program that he's missed a quarter of his season, and he's shown remorse for the actions that he's taken. He has accepted responsibility. He's accepted the consequences. He's apologized profusely to his team, his teammates, this staff, and he's come back with a great attitude, and so we're going to move forward that way.

If things change, we'll adjust. So we feel like given the circumstances and the fact that he has served quite a significant penalty -- missed a quarter of his season -- we're going to reinstate him.

Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times reports Adams is accused of using force to rob an Uber driver of a cell phone. He also points out a misdemeanor battery conviction can result in six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

He'll be arraigned on Nov. 16, according to the ESPN.com report.

Adams has registered eight total tackles, three passes defended and an interception across three games since his return from suspension. He's also averaged 18.3 yards on three kick returns.

UCLA returns to action Thursday night against the University of California.

 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Awards for First Half of 2015 College Football Season

Cinderella once sang, "Don't know what you got till it's gone." 

College football fans half-way know what that means, seeing as we've officially hit the midway portion of the 2015 season. And what a season's it's been already. 

Michigan State's scoop-and-score on Michigan's mishandled punt might be the craziest thing a college football game has produced in years. Utah might be the best team in the nation. Georgia Tech, Auburn, Texas, Oregon, USC and Tennessee have taken some turns being among the worst. 

Iowa is 7-0. What is happening?

With the first seven weeks behind us, let's take a look back at some of the best and worst moments of the 2015 season so far. Put on your Tuesday best, roll out the red carpet and let's get ready for Bleacher Report's official midseason awards show. 

Begin Slideshow

Florida's Pursuit of a Blue-Chip 2016 QB Recruit

The Florida Gators aren't settling for a single 2016 quarterback commit with less than four months remaining until national signing day.

Head coach Jim McElwain is implementing a cross-country quest to land another passer, further illustrated by his program's bye-week plans. The first-year Florida leader and assistants are attempting to capitalize on extra time by visiting key quarterback recruits.

Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is expected to visit 4-star Maryland commit Dwayne Haskins, while McElwain himself will travel to see in-state standout and LSU pledge Feleipe Franks, per Luke Stampini of 247Sports.

Both prospects earned Elite 11 honors this summer. Neither player has publicly wavered on his commitment, but that hasn't prevented Florida from moving forward with its pursuit. 

Kyle Trask, a 3-star passer from Manvel High School in Texas, pledged to the Gators in July immediately after receiving an offer. Though he possesses prototypical size (6'5 ½", 211 lbs), his rating of 90th overall among pro-style quarterbacks in 2016 composite rankings won't exactly fill the Florida fanbase with confidence.

He caught the staff's attention while competing at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp in late July, earning his first Power Five conference offer. Houston Baptist, Lamar and McNeese State were Trask's only other collegiate opportunities at the time, according to 247Sports.

The plan all along, it appears, has been to pair two passers in this Gators class. 

Florida was a finalist for Haskins prior to his Maryland commitment in May. The Terrapins' pivotal in-state pickup told Bleacher Report the Gators and Rutgers were two other teams that entered the equation as he approached a decision.

Maryland dismissed head coach Randy Edsall earlier this month, creating room for doubt in the Terps' ability to carry Haskins' commitment to signing day. However, he's repeatedly used social media to reinforce his intentions and actually pinned the post of that May pledge to the top of his Twitter page.

Nonetheless, Nussmeier remains interested. He initially began recruiting Haskins as a member of Michigan's staff, maintaining that relationship after relocating to Gainesville. 

Franks, a 6'5", 220-pound Sunshine State product from Wakulla High School, committed to LSU shortly after his sophomore year. Though he's been steadfast with that loyalty, a recent Florida State visit signals Franks is at least willing to explore alternative options. 

Franks and Haskins are rated fifth and sixth, respectively, among pro-style quarterbacks in composite rankings, so Florida would certainly be willing to find a spot for either prospect should they both decide a commitment flip is in their best interest.

Though this duo may top the list, Franks and Haskins are hardly alone as potential Gators targets at the position.

Louisville pledge Tylin Oden traveled to campus earlier this season. The Cardinals currently carry two quarterback commits in this cycle, so increased interest from Florida could push the Tennessee product to reconsider his situation.

“Coach Nussmeier said that he was excited that I was there and to enjoy myself,” Oden told Andrew Spivey of GatorCountry.com. “[McElwain] told me to watch the offense and I thought the offense was good and it would prepare me well for the NFL. I think I would fit really well into the offense.”

Though Florida hasn't formally extended a scholarship offer, don't be surprised if the Gators turn toward Oden down the road.

“They want to get to know me more and I think once we get that relationship established then I think they will offer me a scholarship," he told Spivey. 

Auburn commit Ervin "Woody" Barrett is another athlete who may warrant an offer if Florida's search for a second quarterback continues deep into this cycle. The Orlando area standout is rated fourth nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks in composite rankings, displaying superior rushing abilities compared to other Gators targets.

Barrett, a Tigers pledge since June, spent time at The Swamp just a few weeks ago. He was in the bleachers when Florida defeated SEC rival Ole Miss, and this seems to be an open-ended situation that may depend on McElwain.

“Auburn is No. 1, and if, if I had a second choice, the Florida Gators I would take into consideration," Barrett told Stampini. "They said they will hit me up, so we will see what happens.”

For now, it looks like Franks and Haskins are No. 1 and 1A on Florida's quarterback board, while prospects like Oden, Barrett and perhaps Clemson pledge Zerrick Cooper could factor into fallback plans as things progress.

Florida failed to sign a player at the position last signing day, falling short in late attempts to flip Deondre Francois (Florida State) and Lamar Jackson (Louisville). McElwain certainly has more tangible proof of offensive proficiency to sell these days, as the Gators attack has jumped from 106th to 49th nationally in passing yards per game this fall.

Redshirt freshman Will Grier (10 touchdowns and three interceptions through six games) was a budding star prior to his suspension. Sophomore Treon Harris has improved his completion percentage by 12 points since last season while tossing four touchdowns and no picks. 

McElwain is assembling a young, dynamic supporting cast that continues to mature and complement its quarterbacks. Commitments from 4-star high school wide receivers Freddie Swain and Joshua Hammond, along with top-ranked junior college running back Mark Thompson, should help contribute toward future offensive strides.

Florida landed Jake Allen, a top-10 pro-style passer in the 2017 class, this summer. He presents significant promise in coming years, but Florida's main focus is on the present. 

Expect that to motivate McElwain and his staff for the remainder of this cycle, leading to another quarterback commit at some point. That player may not have an offer just yet, but the Gators should be willing to cast a wider net if that's what the situation ultimately dictates.

 

Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Michigan Football: What Wolverines Must Fix During Bye Week

Though the Michigan football team will be doing a lot of thinking during its bye week, the Wolverines need to fix a few shortcomings, too.

Players must refocus after a crushing last-second loss to rival Michigan State. Granted, if there's any coach who can eliminate something from everyone's memory, it's Jim Harbaugh.

"To be heart broken or devastated would mean the end," Harbaugh said, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner. "That would be the ending. [We're] sad about losing the game, but we're not going to let that sadness stand in the way of us improving."

While the defense and special teams haven't been perfect—and no, that's not a shot at Blake O'Neill, because a mishandled snap probably won't happen again—Michigan's success in tight games is dependent on the offense scoring enough and sealing wins.

And it all starts with the running game, which has encountered some problems during the last few weeks. A portion of the struggles can be attributed to a rise in competition, but Maryland (for most of the game) and MSU limited the Wolverines.

The Spartans in particular gave the offensive line fits, twisting and spiking their way into the backfield and—excluding O'Neill's negative play—holding Michigan to 77 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Yes, MSU boasts one of the best opposing D-lines on the slate, along with Utah and Ohio State, but the Wolverines were thoroughly dominated.

Perhaps what's most frustrating for Michigan, though, is it still played well enough to win because of a strong defensive day and an almost-perfect special teams performance. The Spartans needed a freak play to leave the Big House smiling instead of slumping.

However, if the Wolverines offense could've sealed the game on the ground, Michigan State never would've even had a chance. Michigan needed a single first down to put the outcome on ice.

Running when the other team knows you're running is a Harbaugh staple. Picking up first downs when the other team knows it's what you need is what this Harbaugh-led team is striving to achieve.

But the blame doesn't fall solely on the offensive line. The guy under center needs to make plays when given the opportunity, and Jake Rudock has consistently fallen short of accomplishing that.

Or long.

It's become a recurring theme: Rudock has a receiver open downfield yet fires an inaccurate pass. He's overthrown Jehu Chesson on multiple occasions, most notably in losses to Utah and Michigan State.

The accompanying media shows the senior quarterback stepping up in the face of pressure (good), locating Chesson (good) and missing the wideout (bad). Had Rudock connected with Chesson, the Wolverines likely would've extended their lead over MSU to nine points with less than six minutes remaining.

Once Rudock figures out that problem, safeties will not be so quick to commit and stop Michigan's running game before it bursts through the second level. For now, though, opposing defenses really don't have to respect deep passes.

In late September, Justin P. Hicks of MLive noted Rudock said game speed is noticeably different than working at practice but didn't want that to be an excuse for a lack of execution:

It's one of those things you'd like to do every time but I understand it's not going to happen every time. We're working on it, we're trying really hard to get it and I think it's a matter of time before it starts clicking. Game speed is a little different from practice but that's no excuse. We need to go out there and connect on those.

Rudock is obviously correct in saying a downfield pass won't be completed every time, but Wolverines fans, coaches and players alike would certainly settle for the first big play at this point.

It's open at least once per game. Rudock just needs to hit his target.

The offense's two most glaring weaknesses are fundamental problems, but excelling at the basics is what makes a Harbaugh team a Harbaugh team. When the Wolverines have accomplished that, they've won—often in dominant fashion.

Michigan's defense will always give the team a chance to win. It's up to the offensive line and Rudock to seal the deal.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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4-Star LB Dontavious Jackson Shares Latest in Recruitment

With more and more athletes becoming hybrids on the football field—a welcomed trait with many college football recruits—Dontavious Jackson is more of a purist when it comes to his position.

He's a middle linebacker. A "Mike," if you will. And good Mikes are hard to come by.

"A lot of schools are telling me a true Mike is a rarity," Jackson said. "To have the size, speed and strength combined with leadership and intelligence, it's hard to find out there.

"I want to provide that for a team."

Jackson, a 4-star talent from Houston, is the nation's No. 5 inside linebacker. At 6'2" and 248 pounds, he has the size. As someone who's run a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, he has the speed to man the inside. As someone who bench-presses 330 pounds and squats 600, he also has the strength.

Combine that with a high football IQ and the will to get better each day, and Jackson is one of those athletes who easily attract the best college coaches. His offer list, featuring 57 reported offers, serves as proof.

Jackson announced a top 12 over the summer, and he's taken official visits to UCLA and Florida State this month. A Michigan visit was set back in November, but Jackson said trip No. 3 could be destined for another school.

From a recruiting standpoint, he most likely will make his announcement on national signing day. The process for him is slow motion, just the way he likes it. In fact, Jackson said official visit announcements via social media—which is popular among most recruits—will probably not be a thing for him as he continues researching schools in an effort to trim his list.

"I think I'm just going to lay low with it all," Jackson said. "I may post a couple of pics while I'm [at schools], and that's when people will know. I'm not going to really broadcast anything. I'm just ready to sit down and make a decision."

Jackson said he has a few schools in mind for his final two spots, assuming he still takes the Michigan visit next month. Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss are among the contenders. Jackson added that both the UCLA and Florida State visits were excellent and set the bar for the next three.

Jackson said his visits most likely will all be out of state, but that doesn't mean an in-state team is out of the running. Texas and Texas A&M have been battling for him, as have Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech. He said that he is considering taking a couple of unofficial visits during the season and one or two after the season, depending on his schedule.

"I'm not worried about distance," Jackson said of playing out of state. "I really just want to know how I feel about each coaching staff. I want to be where I fit in best, as far as scheme and depth goes.

"I mean, that could mean a school in state. Staying in state is not out of the topic at all."

For Jackson, playing middle linebacker in the best situation possible is key. He's been watching how teams use their Mikes and if athletes are playing out of position to fill a void. He's noticed with a lot of teams that some linebackers are inserted at the Mike spot because they "have no one else," he said.

"Basically, I can come in and be mature enough to do it early," Jackson said of the position. "My goal is to provide for a team to where it can lead to early playing time and, hopefully, a starting job early.

"A lot of times, teams have Mikes who aren't really Mikes. They're either Wills [weak-side], Sams [strong-side] or Jacks [hybrid linebacker/defensive end]. I'm a Mike, and I think I can be a good Mike for someone."

To say Jackson has a nose for the football is an understatement. In three varsity seasons, he has recorded more than 300 tackles. He finished his junior year with 165 tackles, six sacks and one interception. He had 107 tackles as a sophomore.

Jackson is a college-ready athlete who is excited about the opportunity of playing a position he's studied for years. Now it's all about finding a home to further hone his craft.

"I just want to make sure I get everything scheduled first," he said. "I don't want to lead any school on. I'm just going to take my time and make the right decision."

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Clemson Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes Betting Odds, Analysis, College Football Pic

Clemson is unbeaten on the season at 6-0 but only 1-3 against the spread over its last four games, seemingly favored by a few points too many too often. The Tigers will go off as favorites on the road when they meet Miami for an ACC interdivisional bout Saturday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium.

 

Point spread: Tigers opened as 3.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 24.5-20.3 Tigers

 

Why the Clemson Tigers can cover the spread

Clemson now owns a nine-game winning streak after beating Boston College last week 34-17. The Tigers spotted the Eagles the first score of the game, rolled to a 34-10 fourth-quarter lead but eschewed the cover as 18-point favorites when they gave up a meaningless BC touchdown with a minute and a half to go. On the night, Clemson outgained the Eagles 532-246, as quarterback DeShaun Watson threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one more, while the defense held Boston College to just 87 yards through the air.

One month ago, the Tigers won at Louisville 20-17 but missed on the cover as five-point road favorites; just after that they beat Notre Dame 24-22 but missed on the cover at -3. So three of Clemson's ATS defeats have come by a total of four points.

 

Why the Miami Hurricanes can cover the spread

After losing consecutive road games at Cincinnati and at Florida State, the Hurricanes returned home last week and beat Virginia Tech 30-20. Miami took a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game and never trailed, later clinching the win and the cover as a field-goal favorite on a short Brad Kaaya touchdown pass with just under three minutes to go.

The Hurricanes held the ball on offense for over 32 minutes and won the turnover battle 4-0, and those are usually good ways to win and cover college football games. Kaaya now owns a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interceptions ratio this season.

Two weeks ago, Miami lost at undefeated Florida State 29-24 but held on for the cover as a seven-point road dog. If it can keep this week's game that close, it'll cover.

 

Smart pick

This is a tough one to call, but ultimately the talent differential isn't as great as the spread might indicate. Also, while teams ranked in the AP Top 25 this season are 104-15 SU against unranked foes, they're only 56-62 ATS. So home-dog Miami looks like the smart money here.

 

Betting trends

Clemson is 3-1 ATS in its last four games against Miami.

Miami is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games at home.

Clemson is 1-5 ATS in its last six games in October.

 

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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College Football's Odd Couple: Utah's Dennis Erickson and Devontae Booker

It was the spring of 2011 and Devontae Booker couldn't get his life going. He didn't have the SAT score to play for a major college football team and couldn't get down to the junior college an hour from his home in a rough part of Sacramento because he didn't have a car. He was out of school, out of football. And after a few months of lying around on his parents' couch, he took a job at FedEx, loading and unloading packages off a conveyor belt.         

At the same time, Dennis Erickson's stellar coaching life was reaching its end. He had won two national championships at Miami, been the Pac-12 coach of the year at three schools, coached two NFL teams, dealt with politics and bad owners and scandal and success. And his team at Arizona State wasn't going the right way. He would be fired by the end of the year. And then, a little jaded by his profession, he retired and went fishing.

There was no way to predict their stories would intersect in Salt Lake City. But they did, on the Utah Utes football team. Booker is the star running back on the No. 3 team in the nation and an Academic All-Pac 12 student. Erickson, at 68, is his running backs coach—yes from a big-name head coach to a position coach—not because he needs the job but because he loves it.

"He's like another father figure to me," Booker said.

"I hope so," Erickson said. "That's what I've felt I've always been as a coach, a second father to players. It's more than just about football. It's about life in general."

These are two opposite stories working together so beautifully, with Erickson helping Booker to develop and grow. But also, Booker is helping Erickson to re-connect with the roots of coaching.

Erickson could have stayed retired and "hit golf balls crooked," he said. But he took a job far below the heights he had reached because he remembered what it once felt like.

"When I was growing up, my dad was a high school coach, and I was in the locker rooms all my life," he said. "That's what I love to do. When I started, all I wanted to do was be a high school coach like my dad.

"I had some opportunities and I took them. I had some successes, some not. You become so involved as the head coach at some of these schools that it's all about PR and other things. It's not coaching. You get caught up in other stuff and you get an ego. Now I'm back around to why I really got into coaching. You lose that a little."

Booker, a senior, isn't going to win the Heisman Trophy, but he's the best player on the team that has accomplished the most in the country. He has run for 130.5 yards per game, and Utah is the only undefeated team in the Pac-12. He considered turning pro after last season, but on the advice of Erickson, who went to his NFL sources to see where Booker stood, decided to give Utah one more season.

If anyone has learned patience, it's him. It took Booker four years after graduating from high school in Del Paso Heights, near Sacramento, just to get to a major college.

But let's go back a little. Booker describes Del Paso Heights as a good community, but a dangerous, gang-riddled one. Listen to this description:

"It was actually one of my friends in high school, his older sister," Booker said. "I think it was her birthday and they got her a little car. She was just going out to a high school party. I was a freshman in high school. She was sitting on top of her car and some guys came down to shoot up the party.

"A bullet hit her, killed her. Bullets have no names on them. I actually saw it, but I didn't see who was shooting. I rolled to the ground and started to crawl into the house over a bunch of people. As soon as the guys stopped shooting, [someone said], 'Someone got shot.' I just saw the girl lying on the ground."

This is what Booker grew up in. His dad, Ronnie, who helps veterans file claims for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said that that shooting happened only a few blocks from their home.

"If there were 100 parties a year, in high school, Devontae might go to three of them," Ronnie said. "And every time, something happened. Shooting, gang stuff. Devontae was never a problem, never one to get in trouble. But I was always telling him, 'You have friends who are out there gang-banging. You cannot be out there.'

" 'Bullets don't have a name. If you see them and they're going to do something, turn and go home.' "

Two of Devontae's gang-banging friends, Ronnie Booker said, were looking out for him, too. They didn't want to interfere with his future in football.

"Yeah, they'd say, `You're trying to do something. Play football,' " Ronnie Booker said " 'Devontae, we're going over here. There might be trouble. You need to go home ' "

Booker was not highly recruited out of high school. He did get an offer to play for Washington State, but when he didn't get the needed college entrance exam score, the offer was rescinded, Ronnie said. Booker didn't know what to do. He had several friends going to junior college in San Mateo, about a two-hour drive from Sacramento, but he didn't have any way of getting there.

So what did he do? "I was just sitting at home," he said. "Sitting on my mom's couch. I wasn't doing anything."

His dad said that wasn't exactly accurate. He said Devontae was staying in shape, working out, and sitting on the couch with his laptop all day, taking online courses. Then he got the job at FedEx. But why didn't Devontae mention that job?

"Probably because he didn't do it very long," Ronnie Booker said. "It was hard, a lot of work for basically minimum wage."

Think about his path. Now, he's among the top players in the country, two months from earning a college degree in sociology with B-plus average, he and Erickson said, and then heading on to a likely NFL career. (He and girlfriend Destiny also have a 2-year-old son, Deashon).

Booker ended up playing two years at American River junior college near his home, where he got his grades up and earned some attention as a player. That landed him an opportunity at Utah.

Salt Lake is a beautiful, quiet town. And it also is absolutely nothing like Booker had ever seen.

"I remember just sitting there when I first got here," Booker said, "thinking 'Man, there are no helicopters overhead all night.' "

What Booker's dad remembers was Booker calling him several times a day saying that the team isn't accepting him and that he's not comfortable. That was just two weeks into his time there. Ronnie Booker told him to give it two more weeks, and if that didn't work out, come home.

He got comfortable, in part because of his position coach: Erickson.

Ronnie Booker said the one coach Devontae always talks about is "Erickson, Erickson, Erickson." He said Erickson preached patience when Booker arrived and now preaches ownership of what he has earned.

"He's very positive," Devontae Booker said. "He's been through it all and gives good advice when I need it, about anything. He tells a few stories now and then. He's a great coach, a players' coach."

A winning coach.

Erickson quickly climbed in the coaching world. He seemed to have a million jobs. At Miami, he replaced Jimmy Johnson and won national championships in 1989 and 1991. Miami then underwent a harsh NCAA investigation and was placed on probation. Erickson wasn't implicated.

He went to Seattle in the NFL but had four mediocre years and was caught up in an ownership change. Then he went to Oregon State, where the Beavers nearly won the national championship. Then, on to the San Francisco 49ers, where he had to deal with the oddities of the York family ownership, a sour relationship with general manager Terry Donahue and the dismantling of the team to get its salaries in order. He was fired after two bad years. His most recent head-coaching job was Arizona State, where he got off to a big start, then fizzled.

That would have been the normal time to retire for good. But Erickson helped his son, Bryce, coach at a high school in Oregon and then signed on in 2014 at Utah. He also is officially listed as assistant head coach.

Why don't more big-name coaches do that? For the love of coaching, why not just jump in at a lower level?

"Some guys have such a big ego," he said. "I know I called the plays forever ever, and then when I went to the NFL, I didn't have time to do it. At Arizona State, I didn't do it, either. If I had a chance to do it over again, I would.

"You get caught up in all the other stuff and then you get an ego. You start asking, 'Why should have I have to do this?' But that's not what I was in coaching for."

No, he was in coaching for guys like Booker.

Erickson is addicted to the coaching. And after sitting through an NCAA investigation, two weird ownership situations in the NFL and also winning big, he just wanted to have that old, pure feeling back again.

It's rare when you see that. But there's something hopeful about it, too. Former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is now coaching a high school team on Cape Cod.

Erickson said that big college teams, like Utah, have great support systems: tutoring and such. And Booker just grew up and took advantage of it all—became more accountable on the field and off.

He wouldn't take much credit for Booker's transformation, but did say this:

"That's what's rewarding about coaching. The situations with young people, regardless of their background, just helping them be successful. In my first head-coaching job, at Billings Central High School, I got just as much enjoyment out of that as when we were winning the national championship.

"The pressure to win is so unbelievable at some places it kind of ruins the fun. Now, I'm back around to why I really got into coaching."

Booker helped Erickson to find the fun again. Erickson helped Booker to find his way.

Opposite stories going in opposite directions finish with the same happy ending.

 

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report.

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