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Army All-American Bowl Roster 2015: Breaking Down Top Recruits in Marquee Game

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a fantastic showcase for some of the best college football recruits in the country, and the 2015 edition will feature some incredible talents on both sides of the ball.

While some of those competing in the game have already committed to programs for the 2015 season, others will use the game as a platform to make their decision. That is an added wrinkle that makes the bowl even more entertaining than it already is from a gameplay perspective.

Along with a full rundown of the East and West rosters for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, here is a closer look at the players who will make the biggest impacts.

 

Players to Watch

Martez Ivey

While offensive linemen don't always receive as much attention as skill-position players, that isn't the case when it comes to tackle Martez Ivey.

Ivey is the No. 1-ranked 2015 recruit by 247Sports, and he has yet to decide where he will attend school. He was initially supposed to make that announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but that is no longer the case, per Allen Trieu of Scout.com:

The bowl gives Ivey one more opportunity to show teams what he can do although it is already quite obvious that any program in the country would love to have him.

According to Jamie Newberg of Scout.com, he is the state of Florida's top recruit—if not the very best in the entire nation:

With that in mind, the University of Florida is naturally in the running to land him, per 247Sports.

Ivey is a physical specimen at 6'6" and 270 pounds, and he will have a chance to test himself against some of the very best pass-rushers in the nation.

He is going to be a prized recruit for whichever program ultimately secures him, but the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will say a lot about what can be expected of him next season.

 

Trenton Thompson

Perhaps the best prospect playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl who has already made a college choice is defensive tackle Trenton Thompson.

According to 247Sports, he is the No. 2 recruit in the nation and has committed to playing for the Georgia Bulldogs in 2015 and beyond.

Per ESPN.com's Gerry Hamilton, the Albany, Georgia, native is thrilled about the opportunity to suit up for the Dawgs.

Georgia, they were my first offer. They were the first coaches that came down to see me and showed me the most love. Georgia has great coaches, and I have good relationships with them. The fan base has also showed a lot of love, and I also think that in the classroom Georgia can help me be the best student I can be.

It remains to be seen how Thompson will perform in the All-American Bowl, but Jason Howell of Rivals.com has already been impressed with his work in drills:

Thompson was a dominant force at Westover High School at 6'4" and 292 pounds, and one can only assume that he will have his way with the opposition in Saturday's game.

Even though Thompson doesn't necessarily need to impress anyone after already committing to Georgia, he has a chance to increase the substantial hype surrounding him even more.

 

CeCe Jefferson

Pass-rushers are always at a premium at every level of football, and CeCe Jefferson is undoubtedly one of the best in the class of 2015.

He is ranked as the No. 5 overall player and No. 2 defensive end by 247Sports, and he is still mulling over potential colleges.

While nothing is official, Barton Simmons of 247Sports is reporting that the Floridian is leaning toward Ole Miss currently:

Landing him would be a major coup for the Rebels, especially since another stud defensive lineman in Robert Nkemdiche is already on the team.

As pointed out by Rusty Mansell of 247Sports, Ole Miss and every other program will get a good look at just how prepared Jefferson is when he goes up against Ivey in the All-American Bowl:

Jefferson and Ivey could battle each other for years depending upon where each of them end up going to school, and there is no doubt that they will be the spotlighted matchup of Saturday's game.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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College Football Championship 2015: Top Early Storylines for Oregon vs. Ohio St.

In a season where the inaugural College Football Playoff created an entirely different atmosphere, it's only fitting that the semifinal results have overturned the long-established hegemonies from the BCS era.  With Oregon and Ohio State, fans will get to see the perennial bridesmaid face off against a powerhouse that has suddenly taken the underdog role.

It seems probable that, if the BCS were still in existence, Alabama and Florida State would have met for the national title, so the playoff has already validated its purpose and worthiness.  The championship game will simply serve as the cherry on top, pitting two of the nation's most complete teams that likely would never have gotten their shot in the BCS era.

Though Oregon has opened up as a considerable favorite, the Buckeyes possess the type of front seven talent and rushing game that could stymie the Ducks.  Third-stringer Cardale Jones has now come through on two massive stages, seemingly answering whatever questions may still exist at the quarterback position.

The quarterback battle is just one angle to this game, as there are several fascinating subplots.  With the semifinals in the rear-view mirror, here are the storylines that have emerged as the most intriguing in the lead-up to Arlington on Jan. 12.

 

The QB Battle

In terms of recognition, a massive chasm exists between consensus Heisman winner Marcus Mariota and the callow Cardale Jones.  Mariota and Jones do possess some stylistic similarities, as both are dual-threats who force defenses to use spy defenders, thus creating throwing lanes.

However, that's where the similarities largely end.  The 6'5", 250-pound Jones is bigger than many NFL linebackers, and his "12-gauge" nickname embodies the cannon arm that has opened up Ohio State's vertical passing game.  Though presumptive first overall pick Mariota has received lots of scouting love, Jones is starting to generate some hype himself:

Conversely, the Oregon offense is predicated on packaged plays that create defined short to intermediate reads for Mariota.  While he does have the arm strength to gun one down the seams, and the speed to punish defenses with option keepers, the Ducks offense hums best when Mariota gets his playmakers the ball in space:

Thus, we should see a fascinating contrast between Oregon's up-tempo high-percentage passing game and the explosive big-play bombs from Jones and the Buckeyes.  The opposing defenses can't simply scheme around these passing tendencies because of the mobility both quarterbacks provide, making for significant headaches on both sides.

 

Oregon Running Game vs. OSU D-Line

Mariota is a significant component of the Ducks' rushing attack as well.  But Royce Freeman and Thomas Tyner are the headliners of the ground game, as Oregon just compiled an absurd 301 rushing yards against a rangy and uber-athletic Florida State defense.  However, Ohio State has the same level of athletes as the Seminoles, and it should provide much tougher sledding.

The defensive line trio of Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington is arguably the best in the nation, and they're backed up by a strong linebacker unit that includes Darren Lee (two sacks and three TFL vs. Alabama).  Excluding a 25-yard Derrick Henry touchdown scamper, the Buckeyes held the Crimson Tide to 4.4 yards per carry, well below their 5.1 season average or Oregon's 5.5 average.

Oregon's running game has been incredibly prolific this season, but stopping them isn't unprecedented.  Arizona held the Ducks to 3.5 yards per carry in their October upset at Eugene, while Washington State held them to 4.1 per attempt in a seesaw contest they ended up losing 38-31.

Conversely, Ohio State hasn't faced a spread up-tempo attack like Oregon's this season, and as the Seminoles illustrated, the results can be catastrophic when a defense is clearly shell-shocked.  This is likely the game's most important matchup, as the underdog Buckeyes must demonstrate better containment and assignment discipline than Florida State did to have a chance at the upset.

 

The Turnover Battle

In addition, the most prominent disparity between these teams relates to turnovers.  Ohio State's plus-10 turnover margin ranks 15th in the country, but they also had three turnovers against the Tide.  Oregon has given away the ball just 10 times and possesses a plus-20 turnover margin, both of which are the best marks in the nation.

Otherwise, both offenses are extremely balanced.  According to Football Outsiders' FEI-plus ratings, Oregon and Ohio State boasted the second- and fourth-best offenses in the country during the regular season.  They're extremely balanced, as both averaged over 5.5 yards per carry and 9.0 yards per attempt.  Quite simply, it doesn't appear as if either can be stopped on a per-play basis.

Thus, big plays look like the best hope for both defenses.  Ohio State actually forced more turnovers than Oregon (32 to 30), as only three teams exceeded the Buckeyes' 24 interceptions on the season.  This is a significant strength-on-strength matchup, as these were the two playoff teams to have a positive turnover differential.  

As the Seminoles learned, the combination of a sudden possession change and Oregon's lightning-fast offense can snowball into disaster very quickly.  Of course, a pick-six also propelled the Buckeyes' upset over Alabama.  With the talent margin so thin, the team that wins this battle will hold a substantial edge.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Army All-American Bowl 2015: TV Info and Top Recruits to Watch in Showcase Game

New Year's Day may have been a significant day for college football, but January 3 will be no less important. On Saturday, myriad top prospects from around the country will compete in the Army All-American Bowl.

Among those top prospects, Martez Ivey is the biggest name, as the No. 1 player in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Several other top offensive linemen will be in attendance, including Clemson commit Mitch Hyatt and future USC tackle Chuma Edoga.

Many of the top defensive players like Trent Thompson and Kahlil McKenzie will also be on the field to test the linemen. Before the game officially kicks off, here's a look at the TV info and best recruits in the showcase game.

 

Game Information

Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

When: Saturday, Jan. 3 at 1 p.m. ET

TV: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra

 

Top Recruits

Any discussion about the top prospects in the country begins with Ivey, a physically imposing offensive lineman. Though it initially appeared he would be announcing his decision on his commitment at the Army All-American Bowl, he has decided to move the plans back.

Ivey made the news official with Blake Alderman of Rivals.com earlier this week:

Rather than announcing his decision during the game, Ivey gets a chance to prove that he's still the No. 1 player in the country. The showcase bowl gives him the spotlight in front of a national audience—similar to what he will have at a Division I college.

Even with the delay for Ivey, many still believe he will ultimately wind up with Florida. Kevin Flaherty of 247Sports offered his take on Ivey's eventual decision:

So where is Ivey going to play his college ball? It appears the answer to that question lies in Gainesville, Fla. The Gators have long been a favorite of Ivey’s, and his 247Sports Crystal Ball reflects that, with 80 percent of his 59 predictions going the Gators’ way. ...

It also appears that the firing of Will Muschamp hasn’t affected Ivey’s process that much — of the five Crystal Ball picks made after Muschamp’s dismissal, four have him headed to Florida. That’s still 80 percent.

One prospect potentially opposing Ivey will be CeCe Jefferson, who is also still uncommitted. A 6'2", 275-pound prospect, Jefferson still has a wide-ranging list of programs he's shown interest in.

The 2015 recruit is listed with a nine in the closing speed, athleticism and pursuit categories. Heading into the game on Saturday, Barton Simmons of 247Sports also notes which SEC team is at the top of his list:

Along with the big men in the trenches, several skill position players will also be showing out during the huge game. One of those top prospects is Devonaire Clarington, a 4-Star tight end with several teams still on his list.

Unlike Ivey, Clarington has announced he will make his commitment official on Saturday:

The crop of prospects runs deep in the Army All-American Bowl and the importance can't be overstated. Each program looking to build toward the future will be hoping to hear its name called by one of these talented players in San Antonio.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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GoDaddy Bowl 2015: Toledo vs. Arkansas State TV Info, Spread, Time and More

Admittedly, this just doesn’t feel right.

College football fans witnessed two incredible playoff games on Jan. 1 and four other New Year’s Six bowls between some of the best and most high-profile teams in the country. The fact that Toledo and Arkansas State square off Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN isn’t really fair for two teams who deserve to be in the spotlight a bit more.

Had this game been slotted before the playoff games, like most of the smaller bowls, as something of an appetizer, it may have elicited more attention. Still, college football fans who tune in will witness a clash between two relatively evenly matched squads in a game that could come down to the final minutes.

Here is a look at the essential information for the contest.

 

2015 GoDaddy Bowl

Matchup: Toledo vs. Arkansas State

Date: Sunday, Jan. 4

Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN 

Spread: Toledo -3.5 (via Odds Shark, as of Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET)

 

Preview/Prediction

If there is one team in the country that should be confident heading to the GoDaddy Bowl, it is Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have won the past two games here and are looking for a third straight GoDaddy Bowl championship with a win over Toledo.

If they are going to accomplish that, they will have to find a way to stop dynamic running back Kareem Hunt, who eclipsed the 100-yard barrier in every game he played this year. He was third in the country with an average of 151.1 rushing yards per game and found the end zone on the ground 11 times in nine contests.

Throw in quarterback Logan Woodside’s 2,087 passing yards, and Toledo has a lot working in its favor on offense.

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson discussed the matchup, per STATS LLC, via ESPN.com: "Toledo has an outstanding football team. There's no doubt that it will be a huge challenge for our defense. Offensively, we've got to keep them off the field. So both sides have to work together, and we know we're up against a good challenge." 

Toledo was 17th in the nation in rushing yards per game behind Hunt and Terry Swanson, who added 732 yards of his own, and it finished 30th in the nation in scoring. It will look to push the tempo early and often, especially against an Arkansas State defense that was an abysmal 93rd in the country against the run.

This just isn’t a favorable matchup for the Red Wolves defense that allowed 37, 45 and 35 points in the last three games.

Mike Herndon of AL.com talked about Hunt’s meaning to the Toledo program and his overall season:

Hunt's signing has proven to be a bonanza for the Rockets. With what Campbell describes as a "unique" blend of power and quickness, Hunt topped the 100-yard mark in every game he played this season, including a season-high of 265 in a 27-20 win over Bowling Green on Nov. 19. He's rushed for 1,360 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Rockets (8-4) despite missing three games with a high ankle sprain, and his 151.1 yards per game place him third in the Football Bowl Subdivision behind only All-American's Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and Tevin Coleman of Indiana.

If Arkansas State hopes to win against Hunt and company, it will have to outscore Toledo with its offense.

The Red Wolves were 22nd in the country in scoring offense and put up at least 27 points in every game since September. The rushing attack finished 24th in the nation thanks to running back Michael Gordon and dual-threat quarterback Fredi Knighten.

Gordon tallied 1,064 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground, while Knighten added 775 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns to go with his 2,874 passing yards and 19 touchdown tosses.

Toledo will counter with a defense that allowed more than 20 points in only one of the last four games.

Still, nobody is going to mistake the Toledo defense that finished 86th in the country in points allowed per game for the Legion of Boom of the Seattle Seahawks, but it at least played well down the stretch. In this matchup of two dynamic offenses against vulnerable defenses, that could be enough to garner a critical stop or two in the fourth quarter.

That may be all the Rockets need to come away with a victory, especially with Hunt controlling the clock against Arkansas State’s porous run defense. Look for a Toledo win in an exciting back-and-forth shootout. 

Prediction: Toledo 38, Arkansas State 34

 

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Under Armour All-American Game 2015: Most Impressive Recruits in Showcase

In an All-Star game, making yourself look good is more important than the final score.

The Under Armour All-American Game saw Team Highlight come through with a dominant victory over Team Armour with a score of 46-6. Still, the true story of the game is the individual performances of some key players.

This showcase featured plenty of high-profile players on both teams like defensive linemen Terry Beckner Jr. and Byron Cowart, quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Brandon Wimbush or skill players like Calvin Ridley and George Campbell. However, a few lesser-known players showcased their ability in this showdown.

 

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Although he didn't have the biggest impact in the game, Deondre Francois might have turned the most heads with his performance.

In a game with plenty of talent at quarterback, the Florida State commit had some of the best throws on a great drive in the first half. Derek Tyson of ESPN liked what he saw on a throw to Francois' future teammate:

After throwing a touchdown pass to Garrett Williams, Mike Farrell of Rivals.com was impressed:

According to 247 Sports, Francois is the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class. However, this performance showed that he is much more upside than most were expecting.

If he can continue to improve, Seminoles fans will quickly be able to forget about Jameis Winston.

 

Ronald Jones, RB, USC

It was a big day for running back Ronald Jones, who started the game by committing to USC on national television:

He then gave Trojans fans a lot to be excited about with a 58-yard touchdown that showcased his burst and ability to turn up the field. Adam Friedman of Rivals.com noted the strong play:

This was by far the best play of the day for Jones, but the type of talent his showed means that big moments like this could happen at any time. USC has lacked a dynamic running back at this level in recent years, but this is someone who can make a big difference on offense and special teams.

With good size (6'0", 185 lbs.) and speed, Jones could be one of the top true freshmen in the nation next season.

 

Daylon Mack, DT, Undecided

Christian Wilkins might have had the biggest play for a defensive lineman with a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. However, the best defensive player of the game was clearly Daylon Mack.

The defensive tackle was in the offensive backfield virtually the entire game, getting tackles for loss all day while disrupting plays where he didn't make the tackle.

Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee had a short reaction while watching him play:

Meanwhile, Raymond Summerlin of Rotoworld sees a bright future for the young player:

The Texas native appears to be staying local with his college choices, considering Texas A&M, TCU and Texas, according to 247 Sports. No matter where he lands, he should be able to make an impact early in his college career.

 

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

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