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Cyler Miles Looking Like He Can Finish the Job Keith Price Started at Washington

Washington's 31-16 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl defeat of Brigham Young was a combination of fond farewells and strides into the program's future—particularly so at quarterback, with the symbolic torch-passing from outgoing senior Keith Price to redshirt freshman Cyler Miles. 

The transition began before Friday's bowl win, as Price's battles with injuries in the regular season thrust Miles into the starting lineup. Circumstances against BYU were similar: Price suffered a rib injury in the third quarter that required an X-ray, per sideline reports. 

For a career as illustrious—and frankly, as important to re-establishing Washington football—as Price's, the ending was anti-climatic. He provided a few vintage Price moments against BYU, connecting with one of his favorite targets, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, on a touchdown pass. That came just a few snaps after he broke off a 20-yard rush to move the Huskies into Cougars territory.  

Price had his hard-earned and well-deserved moment in the spotlight, helping the Huskies to their first postseason win since 2010 and the first of his career. But in the fourth quarter, the gap between two eras of Washington football was bridged. 

Miles came on with the Huskies enjoying a 12-point cushion, but the outcome was hardly decided. The Huskies went three-and-out on his first possession, but his second salted away the victory. 

Two plays in particular send Miles and Washington into the 2014 offseason with visions of what next season can be. First, he converted a third-down opportunity on a quick read to wide receiver Kevin Smith. Two snaps later from midfield, he broke past the line and accelerated beyond the second level, rolling off 32 yards on a rush that set up an eventual Travis Coons field goal. 

The carry prompted plenty of favorable comparisons on social media, including this of a former national champion from Associated Press reporter Ralph Russo: 

Asking Miles to take Washington to the heights Vince Young elevated Texas is expecting a lot. However, the redshirt freshman quarterback is taking over a much different Huskies football program than the one Price inherited three years ago. 

It might be easy to overlook in a season that Washington scored its most victories since 2000 this is a program still just five years removed from going winless. When Price and the other departing, fifth-year seniors committed as recruits, they were committing to a vision. 

Price was integral in turning Washington's vision into a reality. So was junior running back Bishop Sankey, who may or may not have played his final game with the Huskies. 

If Friday was Sankey's final collegiate appearance, he ended his career in style, scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

Because of their efforts, the underclassmen returning to kick off the Chris Petersen era do so with a solid foundation in place. John Ross is among those young Huskies. The freshman wide receiver drew comparisons to Oregon's do-everything junior De'Anthony Thomas before the season, and Friday he lived up to the billing with a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. 

Junior defensive end Hau'oli Kikaha will be a senior leader for Washington's new era, and he set a resounding tone in San Francisco by sacking BYU quarterback Taysom Hill three times. His efforts garnered Defensive Most Valuable Player of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 

But more than anyone else, Miles will take up the mantle for the next phase in Washington Huskies football. And thanks to Price and Co., the team he'll lead is in position to accomplish something special. 

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Cyler Miles Looking Like He Can Finish the Job Keith Price Started at Washington

Washington's 31-16 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl defeat of Brigham Young was a combination of fond farewells and strides into the program's future—particularly so at quarterback, ...

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BYU vs. Washington: Score, Grades and Analysis from Fight Hunger Bowl 2013

Washington closed out 2013 on a three-game winning streak after defeating BYU 31-16 in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Friday, Dec. 27.

The Huskies executed on offense when they had to and shutout the Cougars in the second half, zeroing in on dual-threat quarterback Taysom Hill.

Led by quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey, Washington set the tone early on in the first quarter, driving the ball 71 yards on 12 plays for the game's opening touchdown (11-yard TD run by Sankey). The impressive scoring drive would be a sign of things to come.

BYU finally responded a few minutes into the second quarter as Hill punched it in from one yard out to cap off an 88-yard drive. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the celebration wouldn't last more than a few moments as Washington's John Ross returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, per ESPN College Football on Twitter:

BYU would answer with a pair of field goals. However, another Sankey touchdown run late in the second quarter stretched the Huskies' lead to eight points.

Despite bogging down in the red zone on multiple occasions, the Cougars would carry momentum into the locker room at halftime after tacking on a third Justin Sorensen field goal at the second-quarter buzzer. 

At the halftime break, SI.com's Martin Rickman pointed out the harsh irony for BYU:

The Huskies couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the second half. After receiving the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Washington drove 62 yards in 10 plays to take a commanding 28-16 lead. The drive was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Price to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. 

Following the Huskies' score, The Seattle Times' Adam Jude introduced a unique stat: 

Washington's offense would struggle from that point on before suffering a major blow early in the fourth quarter when Price was forced off the field with a rib injury, per ESPN Pac-12 on Twitter:

Cyler Miles would replace Price under center. The freshman's inexperience quickly became obvious, but an impressive 32-yard run by Miles late in the game put Washington in position to extend its lead to 15 points.

The Cougars would have their chances to get back in the game, but were unable to cash in, racking up just 128 total yards of offense in the second half thanks to some exceptional halftime adjustments and a dominant performance from the Huskies' defense.

Washington linebacker John Timu would put the finishing touches on the Huskies' stellar defensive effort with an interception in the waning moments. The junior defender was arguably Washington's best player on the night, turning in a 17-tackle performance, his best of the season.

 

Key Player Grades

Keith Price, QB, Washington: B

Washington senior signal-caller Keith Price wasn't perfect on Friday, but he didn't have to be as the Huskies' running game was successful and the defense delivered. Price will want his lone interception back, but he should be commended for his toughness.

In the end, he completed 16 of 21 passes for 112 yards and a key touchdown. Price also picked up 27 yards on seven carries. 

 

Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: A

Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill racked up tons of yards through the air and on the ground in BYU's loss. Unfortunately, Hill was the entire offense for BYU, accounting for 431 of the team's 473 total yards. 

He'll be wishing he found the end zone more than once on the trip back to Provo, Utah.

 

Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington: A

Sankey wasn't overwhelming in limited action on Friday (4.6 yards per carry), but he did make some highlight-reel plays, including his second-quarter touchdown run from 11 yards out, per NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks: 

The junior running back would finish with 96 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and 10 yards receiving on three receptions out of the backfield.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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Alamo Bowl: Fresh Texas vs. Oregon Preview

All eyes will be on the Valero Alamo Bowl game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oregon Ducks, but not necessarily because of the great matchup on the field. The college football nation will be anxiously waiting to see if the Longhorns can send Mack Brown off into the sunset with a win in his final game coaching at Texas.

Brown holds a 10-4 bowl-game record and is 0-1 against Oregon in his 16-year career as the Longhorns' leader. But ending his career in Austin on a high note will not be an easy task against the stacked Oregon Ducks, who appeared to be a favorite to play for the BCS National Championship before losing to Stanford early in November.

Can the Longhorns upset the well-balanced Ducks? Let's take a look.

 

Who: Texas (8-4) vs. No. 10 Oregon (10-2)

What: Valero Alamo Bowl

When: Monday, Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET

Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

TV: ESPN

Radio: ESPN Radio

Spread: Oregon (-14), as of Friday, Dec. 27 (per VegasInsider.com)

Last meeting: Dec. 29, 2000, Holiday Bowl

Last outcome: No. 8 Oregon 35, No. 12 Texas 30

 

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Nebraska Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

The Nebraska football coaches hit the ground running between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15. With the 2014 recruiting cycle coming down to the homestretch, head coach Bo Pelini and his staff had a lot of work to do.

By the end of the two-week continuous hop from place to place, Nebraska has secured 19 players in its 2014 class as of now.

Pelini felt the surge in recruiting went well, as he told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star:

The reception we got on the recruiting trail was very good. I like the way it went. I thought we got a lot done. We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. And we're going to have to do the same when the middle of January hits and it (recruiting) opens back up again.

Pelini and his staff can’t make face-to-face contact with recruits until Jan. 15, but the Huskers expect to head back out for a second surge as soon as possible. The Husker staff has always favored the home visits prior to signing day, as it tends to make the biggest impact.

With the new rule preventing coaches from home visits during this dead period, Pelini is focused on winning the bowl game. Beating Georgia in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 could secure plenty of recruits.

After all, as the Lincoln Journal Star’s Christopherson pointed out, only a dozen of Nebraska’s 26 recruits committed after the Huskers lost to Georgia in last year’s bowl game.

Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this year’s rematch with the Bulldogs and the success of Pelini and staff come Jan. 15.

 

Note: All 2013 stats via 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Minnesota Football: Did Texas Bowl Loss Create QB Controversy for 2014?

Minnesota kicked off Big Ten bowl season but came up just short for the second straight year in the Texas Bowl, losing 21-17 to Syracuse. What appeared to be the biggest contributing factor was unsteady play at quarterback, as the season-long struggles in the passing game continued in Houston.

Neither sophomore Philip Nelson (2-of-7 for 18 yards) nor freshman Mitch Leidner (11-of-22 for 205 yards and two touchdowns) could get anything going in the first three quarters of play.

Though Leidner found the hot hand in the fourth quarter when Minnesota stormed back from 14-3 down to take the lead, he could not handle the pressure late in the game to keep the Gophers ahead. Just like that, a job that seemed wrapped up by Nelson heading into 2013 has not been resolved after 13 games and could potentially be a massive question for the program in 2014.

But will this quarterback controversy linger for the next nine months? More importantly, will Minnesota have a chance to compete in the West Division next year if there is no clear leader on offense?

As for the quarterback derby, Minnesota fans will likely have to suffer through this continuing well into the 2014 season. Although coach Jerry Kill had to deal with numerous injuries the past three seasons, he has shown no hesitation to play younger quarterbacks and multiple quarterbacks.

Nelson shared time with Max Shortell (who has transferred) and MarQueis Gray (who graduated), so splitting time is nothing new for him. However, that has perhaps stunted his growth in working through the tough times and becoming a better quarterback as an upperclassman.

As a freshman, Nelson completed only 49 percent of his passes for 873 yards (eight touchdowns, eight interceptions). This season, Nelson improved slightly to 51 percent completions for 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns to go with six interceptions. Nelson also rushed for 350 yards and six touchdowns.

By comparison, in significantly limited play time, Leidner completed 55 percent of his passes for 619 yards and three touchdowns with only one interception. In addition, Leidner contributed seven touchdowns rushing to go with 407 rushing yards.

The statistics are almost even, despite Nelson having significantly more playing time. Even the quarterback ratings are nearly identical, with Nelson sporting a 121.7 rating and Leidner achieving a 121.6 rating. Nelson has more experience, but that will not matter as Leidner has proven just as capable in a short time.

Of course, with Jerry Kill's penchant for playing young players, don't sleep on redshirt freshman Chris Streveler. This third-string quarterback is more of a prototypical dual-threat quarterback, which is what Kill has been trying to mold in place since leaving Northern Illinois for Minneapolis.

Bottom line: expect this quarterback controversy to burn throughout the offseason and well into the 2014 season. Until one of these players takes the job by the reins and improves Minnesota's woeful passing numbers (under 150 yards per game in 2013), this will be a huge problem for the Golden Gophers.

As to the question of whether Minnesota can compete in the 2014 West Division with this controversy, the answer may be revealed by the competition.

Like Minnesota, Nebraska (Taylor Martinez graduating), Illinois (Nathan Scheelhaase graduating), Purdue (nobody stepped up in 2013) and Northwestern (Kain Colter graduating) will be dealing with some holes at the quarterback slot. However, the likely favorites in the division, Wisconsin and Iowa, both have well-established starters coming back next year, one of the key advantages for those teams.

The Gophers have lived off the defense and running game, and both of those should continue to thrive no matter who is taking the snaps. The defense is set to lose only three starters, while star running back David Cobb will almost certainly return for his senior season to go with four returning offensive linemen.

Which means the biggest question for 2014 will be whether the anemic passing game can contribute more and help the Gophers win against the better competition.

Much like the Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook quarterback derby at Michigan State, this controversy could hold Minnesota back until it gets sorted out, no matter how good the defense and running game is. Hopefully Minnesota can find out who will be the Connor Cook for this team in 2014, preferably in the offseason.

Also like Michigan State, Minnesota will likely not take the next step to win a conference championship or a bowl game unless the quarterback controversy is solved. The blueprint is there for success, but Kill's staff just has to figure out the best option.

But even if the quarterback carousel keeps spinning in TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota is well-positioned to compete in the upper echelon of the West Division next year. Jerry Kill has turned around yet another program, which is good news for the strength of the conference going forward.

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Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you think Minnesota has a quarterback controversy and how that affects the 2014 chances in the comments below. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter as well for more commentary and updates during bowl season.

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Why Minnesota's Performance in Texas Bowl Should Have Big Ten Fans Worried

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will be happy to never see the Texas Bowl again, after suffering a bad case of deja vu in a 20-17 loss to Syracuse in the 2013 version of the game. 

It also gave many in Big Ten country a bad case of deja vu for the bowl season.

That's because last year the Gophers blew a late lead to Texas Tech in the 2012 version of the Texas Bowl and it set the tone for what turned out to be a 2-5 bowl season for the conference. 

The Gophers struggled mightily to get anything going for the better part of three quarters on Friday, trailing 14-3 entering the final quarter. 

It got so bad that it led ESPN's Mark Schlabach to say this about Minnesota's offensive ineptitude: 

Starting quarterback Philip Nelson was so ineffective that he played the first series of each half and never saw the field again. 

He finished the day going 2-of-7 for all of 18 yards passing, while adding 14 more yards on two carries on the ground. 

Those aren't exactly confidence-inspiring numbers. However, his replacement Mitch Leidner found a way to spark Minnesota late in this contest. 

Leidner would relieve Nelson for good following the opening series of the third quarter and never look back. 

He even helped break a 13-quarter scoreless streak with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Maxx Williams five seconds into the fourth quarter, making it 14-9. 

It appeared as if the floodgates would open for the Gophers offense from there, as Leidner led the Gophers to another touchdown on the next possession.

He connected on a 55-yard pass to wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky to take their first lead at 17-14. 

Leidner finished the game going 11-of-22 for 205 yards and two touchdowns, adding 24 yards on the ground.

The Gophers were about to win more than eight games on the season for just the ninth time in school history and the Big Ten was going to get things off on the right foot for a change—except someone forget to give that memo to Syracuse's Brisly Estime. 

With just 2:03 left to play Minnesota punter Peter Mortell unleashed a 57-yard punt, only to see Estime return it 70 yards and have Mortell save a sure touchdown with a tackle at the Gophers' 14-yard line. 

Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt would put it in from 12 yards out with just 1:14 left in the game, putting the Orange up 21-17.

The Gophers' last-ditch effort to win the game ended with a Leidner pass going through the arms of Wolitarsky, followed by a bad sack. It was perhaps best summed up this way:

Instead of Minnesota celebrating a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, they managed to snatch a loss from the jaws of victory once again in the Texas Bowl. 

If the Big Ten was truly deeper than most critics said it was, Minnesota did nothing to help quiet them on Friday night against a team who had to win in the final week of the season just be bowl eligible.

Just like last year, Minnesota got the Big Ten off to a bad start to the bowl season—now it's on the rest of the conference to not suffer the same case of deja vu the Gophers just did. 

 

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

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Miami Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets

The Miami Hurricanes' coaching staff is putting together one of the top recruiting classes during the 2014 cycle.

Headlined by local products, head coach Al Golden is returning the 'Canes' philosophy to what made Miami teams of the past great. 

Currently, Miami has 29 verbal commitments and one signed prospect. Though the Hurricanes return many important players, Golden and Co. have addressed needs all over the field and added depth at most positions.

Slides will be updated when pertinent information is released until national signing day, so please check back frequently for the latest news and commitments.

Notes: All measurements, stats and 40-yard dash times via 247Sports unless otherwise noted. All rankings reflect 247Sports' Composite.

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Syracuse vs. Minnesota: Score, Grades and Analysis from Texas Bowl 2013

Syracuse was able to end its season on a high note after defeating Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl on Friday night.

Terrel Hunt led the way for the Orange with 188 passing yards to go with 74 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including a go-ahead 12-yard run with 1:14 remaining in the game.

Mitch Leidner took over for Philip Nelson at quarterback for the Gophers, but he was unable to lead his side to victory. 

There was very little semblance of offense in the first half from either side as both teams struggled to move the ball down the field. Nate Mink of the Syracuse Post-Standard provided a solid recap of the scoreless first quarter:

Finally, Syracuse was able to get onto the scoreboard with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jerome Smith, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter.

Minnesota took a while to answer, but the team finally got onto the scoreboard with a field goal at the very end of the half to cut the lead to 7-3.

In an effort to motivate his team in the second half, Gophers coach Jerry Kill moved from the booth to the sidelines after intermission, according to ESPN Big Ten:

While the team once again came out flat, Kill's presence seemed to help down the stretch as Minnesota fought hard to keep the game close.

Syracuse was able to extend its lead to 14-3 in the third quarter on a drive that was almost all thanks to Hunt, as noted by CBS Sports:

The quarterback rushed for the first down on a 4th-and-8 to keep the offense on the field, and then he scored himself with another run.

However, the Gophers answered back on the first play of the fourth quarter when Leidner found tight end Maxx Williams in the end zone. Interestingly, this was the first touchdown for Minnesota in 13 quarters. Unfortunately, a missed two-point conversion kept the score 14-9.

After a quick three-and-out, Minnesota got the ball back and scored on a 55-yard play-action pass from Leidner to a wide-open Drew Wolitarsky. This time, the squad was able to convert the two-point conversion to go up 17-14.

It seemed like this would be enough to win, but Brisly Estime came through with a 70-yard punt return down to the Minnesota 14-yard line:

As noted by SportsCenter, this led to the go-ahead touchdown by Hunt with just over one minute left. The Syracuse defense then held on for the 21-17 win. 

 

Grades

Terrel Hunt, QB, Syracuse: A+

The sophomore quarterback had arguably his best overall performance of the season to lead Syracuse to victory in his first career bowl game. 

Not only was he extremely accurate with his passing, but he also picked up tough yards on the ground, including both touchdowns and a lot of first downs.

Although the young player has made plenty of mistakes during the season, he showed that his pure talent and athleticism could make him a star at this level. 

 

Syracuse's Defensive Line: B+

Over the course of the season, Syracuse was the only team in the nation that did not allow a 100-yard rusher. The Orange kept this up while holding Minnesota to only 3.3 yards per carry.

Starting running back David Cobb got close with his 91 rushing yards, but he was unable to get over the century mark.

The defensive line did not allow much room for the opposing team to run, and the linebackers took care of the rest. This was truly a great team effort to shut down the Gophers rushing attack.

 

Mitch Leidner, QB, Minnesota: A

While the Gophers continued to switch between Leidner and Nelson early on, Leinder was the more impressive player in the game and took over late. The freshman not only found some openings in the secondary, but he was also able to make a number of big plays with his legs.

He finished with 206 passing yards and two touchdowns to go with 24 rushing yards.

After not getting a lot of playing time during the season, Leidner showed that he could be a legitimate option for the team a year from now.

 

David Cobb, RB, Minnesota: B

Considering Minnesota finished the regular season with the 116th pass offense in the nation, it is clear the offense relied on the production from Cobb. The junior running back had been excellent down the stretch with over 100 rushing yards in five of his last six games.

The problem is that he could not find any running room in the first half against the Orange, and when he did he was unable to make the first man miss. He provided a stronger effort in the second half and totaled 91 rushing yards to help keep his team in the game. 

Although this was not his best effort, it was still a solid showing for the young player. 

 

What's Next?

Minnesota will bring back a lot of young talent next season, starting with quarterbacks Philip Nelson and Mitch Leidner. Head coach Jerry Kill will have his choice to begin the year, but either one could help the Gophers compete in the new West division.

Syracuse will hope to improve behind sophomore quarterback Terrel Hunt, although the ACC Atlantic division might get even tougher with the addition of Louisville next season. With Florida State and Clemson already providing serious competition, another year of .500 football should be a goal.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Auburn Football: Nick Marshall Helps Break Down NCAA's Most Dominant Play

Auburn's rushing attack is the real deal.

The 545 rushing yards the Tigers put up against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game wasn't any kind of fluke. Auburn has been gashing opponents with its ground game all season—against some of the nation's best defenses in the Southeastern Conference.

Auburn rolled up 444 yards on the ground against Tennessee back in early November, and before that, plowed through the Texas A&M defense to the tune of 379 yards on the ground. More recently, the Tigers tallied 323 yards rushing against Georgia.

The Tigers even ran for 296 rushing yards against the vaunted Alabama defense, which entered the Iron Bowl as the nation's top-ranked rush defense, allowing just 91.3 rushing yards per game up to that point, and having not allowed 165 yards in a single game this season until that November date with destiny.

Gus Malzahn's rushing attack has only gotten better throughout the season, improving week-to-week. The Tigers puzzled some of college football's best defensive minds as they made a meteoric rise through the national rankings.

Since an early-season loss to LSU, Auburn has won nine straight games and put together the single greatest turnaround in college football history—and it can all be traced back to a few factors.

The play of Auburn's sensational backfield duo—quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason—and the emergence of the read option in Malzahn's system, turned Auburn's rushing attack into an unstoppable force.

It's clear that, right now, Auburn is the hottest team in the country. 

And right now, Auburn's read option is the most devastating play in college football.

The concept seems simple enough. The play begins with Marshall standing in the shotgun, and with his running back set to his left or to his right. As Marshall takes the snap, the back will cut across in front of him. Marshall will stick the ball into his back's gut—and fixate his eyes on the defensive end that lined up nearest the running back.

Auburn's offensive line leaves that defensive end untouched, and based on his actions, Marshall decides whether to hand the ball off to his running back, or pull it back and keep it himself. If the end keeps his eyes on Marshall and hesitates, hoping to contain Marshall outside, Marshall will hand off the ball inside. If the end crashes inside and goes after the running back, Marshall will hang onto the ball and run around the end for a gain to the outside.

Inside, the offensive line has a man advantage if the ball is handed off up the middle—since they left the defensive end unblocked. If Marshall decides to keep the ball and head for the outside, all he has to do is get around that key defensive end, and he should have some open field ahead of him.

It's nothing that hasn't been done before. Auburn's version of the read option is hardly revolutionary.

Still, what the Tigers have been able to do with the play—combined with Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle scheme and the talents of Marshall and Mason—seems unprecedented.

Auburn leads the nation in rushing, averaging 335.69 yards per game on the ground. The Tigers' 46 touchdowns on the ground this season stand second only to Navy's 47. Mason's 22 rushing touchdowns are a single-season school record at Auburn.

Marshall and Mason have each eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season, making them just the third duo in Auburn history, and just the seventh pair in SEC history, to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

Most importantly, Auburn is headed to the BCS National Championship Game—and the read option is a big reason why.

Marshall didn't get a chance to go through spring practice with the Tigers.

The junior college transfer didn't arrive on the Plains until the middle of the summer—and he wasn't named starting quarterback until two weeks before the opener.

Marshall was thrown into the fire in Week 1 against Washington State, going through the first few games without a complete grasp of Malzahn's system, still trying to wrap his mind around some of the key concepts, including the read option.

With Marshall still feeling out the running game in the first few weeks, Auburn squeezed by Washington State and Mississippi State—and suffered its only loss of the season against LSU.

After that, things started to click.

The Tigers had a bye week after the LSU game, and Malzahn was able to work closely with Marshall on his game for the first time since camp—taking time to fine-tune the quarterback's game, rather than prepare for the upcoming opponent.

By the time the Tigers' next game rolled around, against Ole Miss, Marshall was a different quarterback, making the right reads in the option game and adding a new dimension to the Tigers' run game.

Auburn hasn't lost since.

"I just took what we were doing and then embraced it," Marshall said last week, of the Ole Miss game earlier in the season. "We had an off week to work.

"That's when the read option got down to it. I just started trusting my instincts and knew I could just beat the defensive end and kept playing from there."

While Marshall gets much of the credit for making plays on the field, Malzahn deserves just as much acclaim for recognizing his quarterback's natural athletic ability and tailoring the offense to his strengths.

Malzahn did coach Cam Newton to a 1,000-yard rushing season as Auburn's offensive coordinator in 2010.  That Tigers offense took its ground game with a much different approach than the one Marshall, Mason and company have put forward here in 2013.

That season, Malzahn sent running backs sweeping left and right, while Newton pounded defenses on the inside. Now, Mason is the gashing defenses between the tackles, while Marshall is running sideline-to-sideline.

"Coach Malzahn is going to call what you do best," Marshall said. "Whatever you do best he's just going to keep doing that and really just call things that you're best at."

As it turns out, the read option is what Marshall does best—and right now, Marshall is the nation's best at running the read option.

No one has been able to solve Marshall and Mason's option attack. No matter how defenses have approached the Tigers this season, the duo has been able to churn out yards consistently when the offense is clicking.

Alabama tried to keep its defense back, attempting to hold a line and control the damage Marshall and Mason could do. That didn't work.

A week later, Missouri took to attacking Auburn's backfield, sending its defensive line to penetrate upfield, gambling in an attempt to stop the play before it ever got started.

That didn't work either.

"We've got the best offensive line in college," Marshall said. "They give us way more push, and they've been doing that the whole season. We just run behind them."

Apart from the Tigers' fierce offensive line, there is a third piece to the Auburn backfield that helps complete the read option.

Senior fullback Jay Prosch, donning No. 35, often lines up in the backfield alongside Marshall and Mason, particularly in the Tigers' heavy sets.

As the play develops, and most of the offense goes one way to lead the way for the running back, Prosch peels off across the backfield in the opposite direction to become the sole lead blocker for Marshall.

By design, Prosch will sidestep the key defensive end that the play calls to read, and leaves Marshall to beat him. Once Marshall gets past that end, Prosch is there to lead the way for Marshall on the outside.

That is perhaps what makes Auburn's read option so devastating: The same core concept and play can be run out of almost all of the Tigers' formations—meaning the read option can come at any time, attacking defenses as a finesse play out of the spread at midfield or as a power play at the goal line.

And in Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle fashion, the play hits defenses before they even know it.

Just when opposing defenses think they have Auburn's read option figured out, even more layers of the play become apparent—such as Malzahn's triple-option pass.

It's the play that helped Auburn beat Alabama in November, tying the game at 28-all late and setting the stage for Chris Davis' last-second heroics.

On Auburn's last offensive possession of the game, the Tigers attacked the Alabama defense time and again with an option look, as Marshall handed the ball to Mason six straight times. Mason cut into Alabama territory, and the clock wound down with less than a minute to play.

As Alabama adjusted, and the Crimson Tide secondary started biting down on the run, Auburn continued to press on with the same look. On the seventh play of the drive, they ran the same read option. This time, Marshall pulled the ball and ran for the outside briefly—before revealing his third option on the play.

The Alabama defensive backs crashed down, anticipating a Marshall run, and Marshall connected with a wide-open Sammie Coates behind the secondary for the game-tying touchdown with 32 seconds to play.

From there, the rest is history.

The play that saved the Iron Bowl was no different than any of Auburn's other option plays, in that Marshall makes the reads right there on the field, finding ways to beat defenses with both his mind and his athletic ability.

Marshall has three options on the play—starting with an opportunity to hand the ball off to Mason inside if the end attempts to contain outside. After that, Marshall also has the opportunity to keep the ball himself and pick up yards on the ground if the secondary stays back in coverage.

But if the defensive backs crash down, he can go to his third option, and pass the ball over their heads to Coates.

It's an added layer to a play that already seems impossible to defend—and it's an aspect of the Tigers' offensive attack that is sure to keep the Florida State coaching staff up at night until Jan. 6.

No one has been able to solve Auburn's read option yet, but if the Seminoles are able to do it in Pasadena, their bid at a national championship will become that much easier.

But if Auburn is able to keep rolling with its ground game, the Tigers could be able to end its miraculous season by lifting the crystal football.

Auburn's read option is a play that takes the game between the whistles—leaving coaches out of the equation and making players responsible for winning and losing on the field.

On Jan. 6, that play on the field will decide the BCS National Championship.

 

Justin Lee is Bleacher Report's lead Auburn writer. Follow him on Twitter @byjustinlee. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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2014 NFL Draft: Buying or Selling Top QB Prospects

The NFL has seen an influx of young quarterbacks take the league by storm in recent years, with signal-callers like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton each guiding their teams into the thick of the playoff race in 2013. Looking ahead to the 2014 NFL Draft, there are a few more candidates who have the makeup to become starters at the next level.

It might still be the regular season, but it's never too early to look ahead to the next crop of future NFL players. This year's group of quarterbacks doesn't have the gravitas of the 2012 class led by Luck and Robert Griffin III, with question marks surrounding each top signal-caller.

Who will be able to translate their success to the NFL? Here's a look at the top three quarterback prospects heading into the draft.

 

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still has one more season of eligibility left but figures to be one of the first signal-callers off the board if he declares early. The jury is still out on Bridgewater, though, as recently noted by NFL.com:

According to a recent report by Albert Breer of NFL Media, one AFC college scouting director said he doesn't think Bridgewater is worthy of the first overall pick, let alone a first-round selection.

A second-rounder. Shorter and smallish in size, but he has solid arm strength, he's a good athlete, solid accuracy. Not dynamic or a special talent, but he has NFL starter-caliber skills, and he's a good kid with all the intangibles.

While that's not a ringing endorsement of Bridgewater's skill set, I think he'll be able to add muscle to his thin frame (6'3", 205 lbs) and handle hard-hitting NFL defenses. Bridgewater's decision-making and accuracy make him the safest bet to succeed in the NFL, and those two things are harder to change than physical appearance.

Verdict: Buy

 

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

As a sophomore, Johnny Football understandably had a hard time living up to his Heisman-winning freshman year. Still, he showed off a lot of moxie and talent throughout the year, especially opening eyes with his performance in a 49-42 loss to Alabama.

Following that game, Peter King of Sports Illustrated spoke to 'Bama coach Nick Saban about Manziel's NFL prospects.

Saban paused a moment, put his bags down and made eye contact to make sure his point would be understood. “I think Johnny’s a unique player,” he said. “Many people have said about these guys, like [Robert Griffin III], that they’re not really NFL-style quarterbacks. But yet they’re all doing pretty well in the NFL."

Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman also was impressed by Manziel during the Alabama game and said he thinks the dual-threat option reminds him of Russell Wilson. I think that's an apt comparison. In today's NFL, dual-threat options like Wilson, Kaepernick and Cam Newton are thriving.

Manziel is a special talent, and though he needs to improve as a passer, I suspect he has the raw tools to make a big impact in the NFL.

Verdict: Buy

 

Derek Carr, Fresno State

Derek Carr has shot up the draft boards this season by piling up 5,082 yards and 50 touchdowns on 68.7 percent passing. But his stock might have taken a hit with his poor performance in the 45-20 loss to USC in the Las Vegas Bowl last week.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com offered his take on Carr's outing, as he finished 29-of-54 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception:

Dan Greenspan of NFL.com recently wrote that Carr's next appearance in the Senior Bowl will have a huge impact on his draft standing after the bad game against a talented USC defense.

While there's no arguing that Carr was prolific this year, he didn't play the best competition in the Mountain West Conference. His brother, David, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2002, serves as a cautionary tale for a high-profile bust.

Though they aren't one and the same, the younger Carr seems like too big of a risk to be taken early in the draft.

Verdict: Sell

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Miami Hurricanes Football: The U's Road Back to Glory

The Miami Hurricanes are one day away from ending 2013 on a high note or dealing with the disappointment that will result from a fourth setback in six games.

Welcome to the thin line between winning and losing.

After self-imposing postseason bans the past two seasons and losing its three previous bowl outings, Miami has to trek all the way back to 2006 for its last December victory—a 21-20 win over Nevada on the blue turf in Boise.

On paper, the difference between a 9-4 finish and 10-3 is hardly monumental, but for a Hurricanes program in "rebuild mode" for years, it's all about positive steps forward, achieving milestones and remaining on a proper track.

With Al Golden at the helm, local talent staying home and the distraction of the NCAA scandal no more, UM's road to glory is officially underway. Below are nine things the Hurricanes must accomplish en route to once again becoming a perennial power.

 

Finish the Season on a High Note 

Three straight losses in early November were an absolute punch in the gut. No. 7 Miami was undefeated entering it's annual showdown with Florida State and within weeks reduced to 7-3 and all-but out of the ACC's Coastal Division race.

The Hurricanes won their final two games, scored over 40 points in each and began clicking on offense, but the defensive woes continued.

Miami clearly wasn't worthy of a Top 10 ranking at any point this year, but reaching the postseason, closing with a three-game win-streak and earning double-digit victories for the first time since 2003—it'd be a fine way to close out year three of the Golden era.

Especially with the dark clouds parting since the NCAA investigation came to a close in October.

 

Close Strong on the Recruiting Trail 

The best way for the Miami program to end the "talent" vs. "coaching" vs. "scheme" debate—reel in some of the nation's best athletes and witness what some quality players do to fix the current situation.

Former Hurricanes head coach Butch Davis was hardly beloved while leading the Miami program. The sixth-year coach stocked the cupboard before heading to the NFL in early 2001, and the Davis love affair began when Larry Coker couldn't maintain the same level of recruiting excellence—35-3 the first three years and 25-12 his final three.

Miami's front seven struggled mightily in 2013, and the Hurricanes could lose upwards of a dozen key defenders—especially if a few choose to depart early. In short, the Hurricanes' depth, talent and overall experience on defense is set to take yet another hit it can ill afford.

Golden and staff currently have 29 verbal commitments, a third-ranked recruiting class and possibly eight early enrollees. There are also a handful of top-flight players with Miami on their radar, which would give the Hurricanes program a huge boost come February.

Miami lost a few "signing day" battles over the years. With a strong class already assembled and the NCAA drama in the rear view, the Hurricanes have a good chance at some day-of, last-minute steals, serving as poetic justice for all the kids Golden and staff lost recently due to negative recruiting. 

 

Restock the Offensive and Defensive Lines 

Both of Miami's lines are losing a handful of key players. Veteran defenders like Curtis Porter, Luther Robinson and Shayon Green are graduating, as are one-year transfer options David Gilbert and Justin Renfrow.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Hurricanes are saying goodbye to Brandon Linder, Jared Wheeler and Seantrel Henderson.

Miami has upwards of eight defensive ends and tackles on board for the 2014 recruiting class, as well as some big time offensive linemen, all of which will be relied upon heavily next season. Still, both positions much be heavily recruited for proper depth moving forward. 

 

Identify and Groom the Next Great UM Quarterback 

Stephen Morris proved serviceable over two seasons, but prior to that, it was a rough run for Miami with Jacory Harris, Kirby Freeman and Kyle Wright under center. Brock Berlin had enough surrounding talent to go 20-5 in back-to-back seasons, but the Hurricanes truly haven't had a great quarterback since Ken Dorsey rolled out of town after the 2002 season.

Miami is looking to sign 4-star Southern California product Brad Kaaya, as well as a 3-star dual-threat quarterback Malik Rosier of Alabama, though, both aren't expected to make a dent in 2014.

Instead, a battle between senior transfer Ryan Williams and redshirt freshman Kevin Olsen will take place, with redshirt sophomore Gray Crow thrown in as a wild card.

While Williams earning the starting nod is hardly detrimental, it'd be a one-year option for Miami, instead of investing in the future and building around the youth movement. It also wouldn't help the highly touted Olsen if he struggled to beat out a 2-star Memphis transfer.

Dorsey took some lumps as a freshman in 1999, emerged as a contender in 2000, went 11-1 and helped No. 2 Miami beat No. 7 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. After that, there was a 24-1 run, a national title and two shots at a ring.

Time for the Hurricanes to have a legit three-year option at quarterback, instead of falling back into rebuild-mode every other year.

 

Find a Capable, Big-Bodied, No. 2 Running Back 

Duke Johnson is certainly one of the better running backs in college football, but the junior-to-be needs some "thunder" to his "lighting." The 5'9", 196-pound Johnson carried 139 times over a 12-game stretch as a freshman, but he racked up 145 attempts before breaking his ankle eight games into 2013.

The difference? Miami didn't have a Mike James-type option this season to share the load. Dallas Crawford rose to the challenge in a back-up role, while senior Eduardo Clements played in spot duty, eased back in after a neck injury almost ended his career.

True freshman Gus Edwards was a hopeful savior, he but struggled to grasp the offense—which was an issue due to a lack of depth. Two years ago, Storm Johnson left for Central Florida, and this past offseason, the Hurricanes saw running back Danny Dillard transfer as well.

Miami looks to reel in a pair of local Rivals.com 4-star prospects in Joseph Yearby and Brandon Powell in the coming weeks, while the highly coveted Dalvin Cook still hasn't officially decided where he'll land.

Regardless, Johnson needs a consistent, capable, durable counterpart next season. "The Duke of Coral Gables" should be used to dazzle, not to pound and grind.

 

Find New Ways to Get the Ball in the Playmakers' Hands 

Losing offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to the NFL definitely hurt Miami's offense regarding creativity. First-year play-caller James Coley played things a little closer to the vest in 2013, getting conservative and somewhat uninventive.

The Miami program has always been built on next-level conditioning, as well as overall team speed. Getting the ball to playmakers in space is the easiest way for magic to happen, and late in the year, freshman wide receiver Stacy Coley was given the opportunity to shine.

Be it on reverses or bubble screens, Coley tore off some monster touchdowns against Virginia Tech, Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Outside of the Coley "package," there's been little else—especially regarding the versatile Johnson. Under Fisch, No. 8 had 27 receptions as a freshman. This year, four grabs over the course of eight games. Johnson also threw for a touchdown at Duke in 2012, while Crawford was given an opportunity to do the same in a Thursday night win over Virginia Tech.

Miami's offense always seemed to have a Santana Moss, Roscoe Parrish—even a Jammi German—running a slant route and taking a five-yard receptions 80 yards for the score.

The Hurricanes needs more fast-developing plays that allow those fast-twitch speedsters to strut their stuff.

 

Take the Power Back in the 'Sunshine State' 

Beat Florida State. It's time. A lopsided loss in 2013 was forgivable as the Seminoles are undefeated and title-game-bound, but the previous years were toss-ups that the Hurricanes gave away. The result—a four-game losing streak to a hated rival.

Miami owned Florida State from 2000 through 2004, topping the Seminoles in six straight. All was right in the college football world, on the recruiting front and regarding the battle for Sunshine State supremacy as far as "The U" was concerned.

Both the Hurricanes and Seminoles trailed the Gators a few years back. Since then, the balance of power has shifted, and while Miami doesn't face Florida annually, it gets one (or two) shots at Florida State every year. Do something about it. 

The Seminoles trek south next October and while that's a lifetime from now, the Hurricanes need to circle that date on the calendar and start building towards that showdown come January.

 

Seize the Big Moments When They Arise 

Miami has spent 10 seasons in the Atlantic Coast Conference and have not had one Coastal Division title or conference championship game appearance. Miami lost three of five ACC games to close the regular season. Years back, be it 2009 or 2005, the stage was set for big time late-season runs and Miami felt to mid-level conference foes like Georgia Tech or North Carolina

Virginia Tech and Miami both defected from the Big East in 2004. To date, the Hokies have six division titles and four conference championship. 

The Hurricanes can't even think about a national championship before consistently winning the Coastal Division, earning some ACC titles and dominating the conference, instead of hoping to back in by hoping rivals lose. 

 

Winning is Everything in Miami 

The notorious Hurricanes "swagger" didn't come first—winning birthed the swag. Miami seemingly came out of nowhere in the early 1980s under Howard Schnellenberger, and five years into his tenure, it unthinkably won the program's first national championship.

Local superstars like Melvin Bratton and Alonzo Highsmith joined forced with the late Jerome Brown and Daniel Stubbs to help assemble a program-defining recruiting class in 1983. The wins followed, fueled by an anti-establishment mentality, hometown pride and some extra bounce in the program's step—years later dubbed, "swagger."

Miami is a metropolitan city, not a rah-rah college town. It's all about South Beach, laid-back boating and wild nightlife. The entertainment dollar only goes so far in the 305. Even the beloved Miami Dolphins have taken a backseat to the Heat, turning Miami into a basketball town since LeBron James and Dwyane Wade began delivering championships.

The University of Miami—being a private school with just over 10,000 undergrads—will never get the undying support state schools earn from small-town fans and large alumni groups.

It takes winning for the Hurricanes to earn respect and fill seats, so start the trend with a Russell Athletic Bowl win over the Louisville Cardinals and immediately shift the focus to success in 2014.

 

Recruiting info via Rivals.com

Follow Chris Bello on Twitter @allCanesBlog

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Fight Hunger Bowl 2013 Washington vs. BYU: Live Score and Highlights

Washington 7, BYU 0 ; Mid 1st Quarter

The Washington Huskies (8-4) will battle against the BYU Cougars (8-4) in the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. 

The game can been at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

A full box score can be found at NCAA.com

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us. Stay here for rapid analysis, score updates, media and much more!

 

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Colt Lyerla Pleads Guilty to Drug Possession

Colt Lyerla's NFL dreams remain on track.

The former Oregon Ducks tight end was arrested on October 24 on charges of cocaine possession. Greg Bolt of The Register-Guard reported that Lyerla received a 10-day jail sentence in addition to two years probation. Lyerla is allowed to move to Las Vegas in order to train for the 2014 draft.

Andrew Greif of The Oregonian has the particulars of Lyerla's probation.

Lyerla had left Oregon a few weeks before his arrest. In a statement, he said, via USA Today Sports, "I love everyone at Oregon; everyone's on good terms, I believe. Just for my own benefit, it was time to move on."

This is a player with a few red flags, but his talent could make him a hot commodity for some teams.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com provided a brief scouting report of the tight end:

Measuring 6-foot-4 and weighing 246 pounds with speed reportedly in the 4.5-second range (in the 40-yard dash), Lyerla is one of the hybrid tight-end-types that are currently taking the NFL by storm. He has the speed to blow past defenders on vertical routes and displays the short-area quickness and burst to run away from linebackers out of breaks. Additionally, Lyerla is an overpowering athlete capable of muscling smaller defensive backs at the top of routes to create separation. Factor in his strong hands and wide catching radius, and Lyerla is the kind of threat offensive coordinators love to feature in the game plan, especially on third down or in the red zone.

Brooks also interviewed an unnamed NFC South scout who discussed Lyerla's off-field issues:

He's going to be a problem. He reportedly has some issues with alcohol, fights and other stuff at school. ... Bad dude. ... Nothing malicious, but the kind of stuff that makes you worry about how he will handle the pro lifestyle. ... He has a tendency to go off the rails when he leaves a structured environment.

It's not unheard of that a prospect has an ignominious end to his college career, only to impress coaches and scouts at the combine and then stay out of trouble in the NFL. Adam Hoge of CBS Chicago evoked the name of Tyrann Mathieu to present an example of what could happen with Lyerla.

CBS Sports projects Lyerla as a fifth- or sixth-round prospect. It's anybody's guess if this most recent news will have an adverse or beneficial effect on his draft potential.

There's no doubt that Lyerla will be one of the most intriguing prospects when May rolls around. Each and every year, the draft has a couple of phenomenal talents carrying massive baggage. As a result, they drop from the first or second rounds to the fourth or fifth rounds or maybe even later.

It's likely not a matter of whether Lyerla will be drafted, but which team will decide the risk is worth the possible reward. There's little doubt that on talent alone, this is a player with first-round potential.

But only time will tell when Lyerla may have his name called.

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BCS Bowl Games 2013-14: Blowout Matchups That Will Leave Fans Disappointed

College football fans will be on the lookout for the best games of the 2013-14 bowl season, but there will also be multiple matchups that will leave fans disappointed because of the one-sided results.

There have already been three lopsided affairs. USC destroyed Fresno State by a score of 45-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl, San Diego State defeated Buffalo by 25 points (49-24) in the Idaho Potato Bowl and Oregon State beat Boise State, 38-23, in the Hawaii Bowl. Those results were a bit disappointing considering the relative quality of the teams.

The bowl schedule in the final year of the BCS looks pretty good. Last year's disappointing BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame left fans wanting a more competitive bowl season. The BCS delivered in its final go around—for the most part.

There are still a few games that might get ugly.

 

Valero Alamo Bowl

Mack Brown's final test as head coach of the Texas Longhorns may not end up going as planned. The Oregon Ducks are a potent offensive team that has fired on all cylinders for most of the season.

Losses at Stanford and Arizona are the only two times this season that the Ducks failed to score at least 36 points in a game. Each time they scored 36 points, they won.

The Longhorns can put up points as well, but the defense allowed 30 points or more in each of the team's four losses this season. That would appear to put the ball in Oregon's court. If the Ducks can just keep up what they've done for most of the season, then they should win handily.

Texas lacks the big-play performers that can put them over the top. Case McCoy, Johnathan Gray and Mike Davis are all talented skill players on offense, but Oregon's trio of Marcus Mariota, Byron Marshall and Josh Huff can outproduce the aforementioned trio.

Plus, Mariota is arguably the best player in this bowl game. That gives Oregon an advantage by itself.

While there is a chance this game is close, I'm leaning toward this being an ugly one. I predict that Oregon wins by 21, and Brown finishes his Longhorns career in a losing effort.

 

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Oklahoma's offense struggled against Baylor and Texas this season, and anybody who expects it to muster a ton of offense against Alabama is a very wishful thinker.

C.J. Mosley and the rest of the Crimson Tide defense is fast and aggressive and will make it difficult for the Sooners to move the chains and gain yardage consistently. Plus, Alabama was just seconds away from defeating Auburn and completing an undefeated season that would've resulted in a BCS title game berth.

Those facts by themselves are enough to convince most that this game won't be close—at all.

Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports feels the same way:

And despite the loss at Auburn, this is still the most loaded roster in the country, one that will boast matchup advantages over the Sooners at virtually every position on the field.

If this game ends in anything but an Alabama blowout, it will be a shocking result for the college football world. The Crimson Tide should be undeniable favorites and will win convincingly.

 

Russell Athletic Bowl

No. 18 Louisville won't face the stiffest of competition in this year's Russell Athletic Bowl, as the Miami Hurricanes boast far less talent than the Cardinals. In fact, this matchup is the perfect one for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to show off his NFL chops.

Of course, it's still uncertain as to whether or not he'll declare for the draft. 

Regarding his decision, Bridgewater told Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal, "When you have your priorities in order and know what you want to accomplish, it's not difficult at all."

"But I still have one more game to play this season."

Bridgewater can use this game against Miami to show off his skills and make his case to go No. 1 overall to the Houston Texans—assuming he declares, of course.

Against a mediocre team like Miami, having the potential No. 1 overall draft selection definitely swings the game in favor of Louisville. Overall, the Cardinals are far superior and will win handily.

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Orange Bowl: Power Ranking the Top 10 Plays of the BCS Era

With the 2014 Orange Bowl quickly approaching, it’s time to take a stroll down memory lane.

Ever since 1999, the Orange Bowl has been a part of the BCS. It’s even hosted two BCS title games (2001, 2005).

Over the years, the bowl has hosted some of the best college football games during that span. That includes four games decided by three points or less.

Not surprisingly, there have been several great plays during that time as well.

Join Bleacher Report as we take a closer look at all 15 games and compile a list of the 10 greatest plays in the BCS era. 

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