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USC Football: Trojans' 6 Best Moments of 2013

With a tumultuous 2013 season for the USC Trojans football team wrapped up, it is time to look back on what was an adventurous campaign for the men of Troy.

Coaching changes, injuries and intrigue of all forms indelibly stamped their mark on this year's Trojans. When all was said and done, 2013 was one of the most memorable of all time for the Cardinal and Gold, though not always for positive reasons.

Now, with the season in the rear-view mirror, fans of the program can ponder the myriad of events that made this year both satisfying and difficult all at once.

This slideshow will take a look back at the season just completed and identify some golden moments for USC as it meandered through one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory.

So without further delay, here are some of the best moments of USC's 2013 season.

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Trojans' 6 Best Moments of 2013

With a tumultuous 2013 season for the USC Trojans football team wrapped up, it is time to look back on what was an adventurous campaign for the men of Troy.

Coaching changes, injuries and intrigue of all forms indelibly stamped their mark on this year's Trojans. When all was said and done, 2013 was one of the most memorable of all time for the Cardinal and Gold, though not always for positive reasons.

Now, with the season in the rear-view mirror, fans of the program can ponder the myriad of events that made this year both satisfying and difficult all at once.

This slideshow will take a look back at the season just completed and identify some golden moments for USC as it meandered through one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory.

So without further delay, here are some of the best moments of USC's 2013 season.

Begin Slideshow

USC Football: Trojans' 6 Best Moments of 2013

With a tumultuous 2013 season for the USC Trojans football team wrapped up, it is time to look back on what was an adventurous campaign for the men of Troy...

Begin Slideshow

Notre Dame Football: Why Everett Golson Will Have a Big Year in 2014

Senior quarterback Tommy Rees led Notre Dame over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl 29-16 to close out the 2013 season. Now, let's take a look at what Notre Dame's offense will look like in 2014. 

Quarterback Everett Golson will return to the team after a year away and is expected to regain the starting spot. He will have a lot of new weapons on offense in 2014. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels and tight end Troy Niklas both had breakout seasons and give Golson more options than he had in 2012. 

Watch Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Notre Dame's offense in 2014. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Notre Dame Football: Why Everett Golson Will Have a Big Year in 2014

Senior quarterback Tommy Rees led Notre Dame over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl 29-16 to close out the 2013 season. Now, let's take a look at what Notre Dame's offense will look like in 2014. 

Quarterback Everett Golson will return to the team after a year away and is expected to regain the starting spot. He will have a lot of new weapons on offense in 2014. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels and tight end Troy Niklas both had breakout seasons and give Golson more options than he had in 2012. 

Watch Michael Felder, Barrett Sallee and Adam Kramer break down Notre Dame's offense in 2014. 

 

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

BCS Bowl Games 2013-14: Keys to Victory for Every Team

The final season of the BCS brings about some great matchups in the biggest bowl games of the year. Each team has clinched a well-deserved berth in these contests and look to finish off their seasons with a flourish.

For each of these squads, the outcome of the game will hinge on producing at the highest level. After all, any of these five BCS games could go either way.

Highlighting their own strengths and exposing their opponents' weaknesses will be crucial for each team involved. Also, limiting the success of their opponents' strengths is necessary to win on such a big stage.

These are the keys to victory.

Let's take a team-by-team look to determine the factors that will be of the utmost importance to each of these squads in January.

 

Rose Bowl

Stanford: Maintain a Balanced Offense

Stanford's weapon of choice has been running back Tyler Gaffney throughout the 2013 season. Gaffney has been the workhorse this year, accumulating 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns on 306 carries—good enough for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

However, against such a talented Michigan State defense, maintaining an offensive balance is crucial.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan has been able to shine at times this season. He has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,487 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He must remain careful with the football against the Spartans' ball-hawking secondary.

There may be little room to maneuver for Stanford if it attempts to keep up a ground-and-pound style of offense. Hogan must step up in a big way during the Rose Bowl. After all, keeping a balance between the run and pass is the only way to get past such a stout defense.

 

Michigan State: Ride the Defense

Although the Michigan State offense has been solid this season, the defense is the reason for the team's continued success. If the Spartans are to emerge victorious in January against the Cardinal, the defense will be the reason once again.

Michigan State currently owns the nation's fourth-ranked defense, according to NCAA.com. Not only are they the top-ranked unit against the run, but they are stellar against the pass as well, with Darqueze Dennard featured as one of the nation's top corners.

The Spartan defense is only allowing an average of 12.7 points per game. If they can keep Stanford anywhere along those lines, the offense will be able to do enough to secure the victory.

 

Fiesta Bowl

UCF: Stick with Blake Bortles' Hot Hand

Quarterback Blake Bortles has put together a fantastic late-season run. The success of the Knights is directly related to the success of their quarterback. Bortles has been extremely efficient over the 2013 season, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

His stellar play has NFL scouts taking notice of him in a big way.

Baylor does have a very good pass defense. After all, they are ranked 23rd in the nation, according to NCAA.com. The Bears are allowing an average of just 207.8 passing yards per game. However, they have given up 20 passing touchdowns this season—Bortles can certainly take advantage of that aspect.

UCF's best chance to come away victorious against a good Baylor team is to keep the ball in the air and allow Bortles to continue his hot streak.

 

Baylor: Win the Turnover Battle

The Baylor offense has done a great job protecting the football this season. Quarterback Bryce Petty has only thrown two interceptions against 30 touchdown passes on the year. Due to Baylor's ability to take care of the football, it is currently ranked 13th in the league with a plus-11 turnover margin.

UCF has a high-octane offense, and this game certainly looks like it could be headed in the direction of a shootout. Creating a turnover at the right time could be all that Baylor will need to come out ahead in this contest.

Winning the turnover battle will win the Fiesta Bowl.

 

Sugar Bowl

Oklahoma: Dominate Time of Possession

Against such a deep, complete team like Alabama, this is easier said than done. However, Oklahoma has been one of the nation's best teams in terms of maintaining possession of the football. According to NCAA.com, the Sooners are ranked 15th in the nation while averaging 32 minutes of possession per game on the season.

Alabama has one of the nation's top defenses, and its offense is prolific as well. Keeping the offense off the field will be key for Oklahoma's success.

With its offense on the field, Oklahoma will be able to slowly wear down a stout Alabama defense and keep itself in the game with a chance to pull away in the end.

 

Alabama: Feature T.J. Yeldon

It seems strange to suggest the ball be in anyone's hands other than quarterback AJ McCarron; however, that is exactly what Alabama needs to do against Oklahoma.

Running back T.J. Yeldon should be featured heavily in this contest due to a very solid Oklahoma pass defense. In what is expected to be a defensive struggle, keeping the ball on the ground is a far better option for the Crimson Tide.

Oklahoma is allowing an average of 138.3 yards per game this season, which gives Yeldon a big chance to shine. If Yeldon is able to establish the running game, it will open things up over the top of the defense for McCarron.

Yeldon will dictate how Alabama's offense is able to maneuver during the Sugar Bowl.

 

Orange Bowl

Clemson: Pass, Pass and Pass Again

This is a pretty easy one for the Tigers. They have an NFL-caliber quarterback in Tajh Boyd and are facing a terrible Ohio State secondary. Boyd has thrown for 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions so far this season. He will absolutely be able to tee off against an Ohio State secondary that is allowing an average of 259.5 passing yards per game.

Yes, of course Clemson should not remain one-dimensional throughout the game. After all, they do have a very talented running back in Roderick McDowell.

However, with Boyd at the helm, an explosive Sammy Watkins on the outside and a terrible secondary across from him, passing early and often seems like the way to go here.

 

Ohio State: Run, Run and Run Some More

Talk about two completely opposing styles of offense. Ohio State has one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the nation, as dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde are a formidable duo.

Hyde and Miller have rushed for 1,408 and 1,033 yards, respectively, in 2013 while combining for 24 rushing touchdowns.

Clemson is currently ranked 51st in the nation against the run, according to NCAA.com. The Tigers are allowing an average of 152.6 yards per game on the ground this year. Braxton, Hyde and Co. can continue to remain successful running the football against the Tigers, which, in turn, will keep Boyd and the Clemson offense off the field.

 

BCS National Championship Game

Florida State: Unleash the Heisman Winner

Quarterback Jameis Winston has been incredible this season. After all, he did win the Heisman Trophy after passing for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the regular season. Winston has been dynamic and efficient and will continue to propel this team going forward.

Auburn doesn't exactly have a pass defense to write home about. They are ranked 104th in the nation and are giving up an average of 260.2 yards per game—yes, that's even more than Ohio State.

Winston's arm should be featured heavily during this game, as he will surely find plenty of space to hit his targets and put up some gaudy numbers to end a fantastic season.

 

Auburn: Triple Option for the Win

Yes, Florida State has a pretty good run defense. They are ranked 14th in the nation and are only allowing an average of 116.5 yards per game to opposing teams. However, they have yet to face an attack nearly as vicious as Auburn's triple option.

Quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason have been explosive in 2013. Mason and Marshall have rushed for 1,621 and 1,023 yards, respectively. They have also combined for 33 rushing touchdowns.

That would be difficult to stop in its own right; however, Auburn adds another wrinkle here: wide receiver Sammie Coates.

The third option in this scheme, Coates remains available for a pitch-style pass to the outside should the running lanes for Marshall and Mason be unavailable. This is not something that is easily prepared for. After all, Florida State does have a very aggressive defense and can be beaten when Coates becomes a factor.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

BCS Bowl Games 2013-14: Keys to Victory for Every Team

The final season of the BCS brings about some great matchups in the biggest bowl games of the year. Each team has clinched a well-deserved berth in these contests and look to finish off their seasons with a flourish.

For each of these squads, the outcome of the game will hinge on producing at the highest level. After all, any of these five BCS games could go either way.

Highlighting their own strengths and exposing their opponents' weaknesses will be crucial for each team involved. Also, limiting the success of their opponents' strengths is necessary to win on such a big stage.

These are the keys to victory.

Let's take a team-by-team look to determine the factors that will be of the utmost importance to each of these squads in January.

 

Rose Bowl

Stanford: Maintain a Balanced Offense

Stanford's weapon of choice has been running back Tyler Gaffney throughout the 2013 season. Gaffney has been the workhorse this year, accumulating 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns on 306 carries—good enough for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

However, against such a talented Michigan State defense, maintaining an offensive balance is crucial.

Quarterback Kevin Hogan has been able to shine at times this season. He has completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,487 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He must remain careful with the football against the Spartans' ball-hawking secondary.

There may be little room to maneuver for Stanford if it attempts to keep up a ground-and-pound style of offense. Hogan must step up in a big way during the Rose Bowl. After all, keeping a balance between the run and pass is the only way to get past such a stout defense.

 

Michigan State: Ride the Defense

Although the Michigan State offense has been solid this season, the defense is the reason for the team's continued success. If the Spartans are to emerge victorious in January against the Cardinal, the defense will be the reason once again.

Michigan State currently owns the nation's fourth-ranked defense, according to NCAA.com. Not only are they the top-ranked unit against the run, but they are stellar against the pass as well, with Darqueze Dennard featured as one of the nation's top corners.

The Spartan defense is only allowing an average of 12.7 points per game. If they can keep Stanford anywhere along those lines, the offense will be able to do enough to secure the victory.

 

Fiesta Bowl

UCF: Stick with Blake Bortles' Hot Hand

Quarterback Blake Bortles has put together a fantastic late-season run. The success of the Knights is directly related to the success of their quarterback. Bortles has been extremely efficient over the 2013 season, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

His stellar play has NFL scouts taking notice of him in a big way.

Baylor does have a very good pass defense. After all, they are ranked 23rd in the nation, according to NCAA.com. The Bears are allowing an average of just 207.8 passing yards per game. However, they have given up 20 passing touchdowns this season—Bortles can certainly take advantage of that aspect.

UCF's best chance to come away victorious against a good Baylor team is to keep the ball in the air and allow Bortles to continue his hot streak.

 

Baylor: Win the Turnover Battle

The Baylor offense has done a great job protecting the football this season. Quarterback Bryce Petty has only thrown two interceptions against 30 touchdown passes on the year. Due to Baylor's ability to take care of the football, it is currently ranked 13th in the league with a plus-11 turnover margin.

UCF has a high-octane offense, and this game certainly looks like it could be headed in the direction of a shootout. Creating a turnover at the right time could be all that Baylor will need to come out ahead in this contest.

Winning the turnover battle will win the Fiesta Bowl.

 

Sugar Bowl

Oklahoma: Dominate Time of Possession

Against such a deep, complete team like Alabama, this is easier said than done. However, Oklahoma has been one of the nation's best teams in terms of maintaining possession of the football. According to NCAA.com, the Sooners are ranked 15th in the nation while averaging 32 minutes of possession per game on the season.

Alabama has one of the nation's top defenses, and its offense is prolific as well. Keeping the offense off the field will be key for Oklahoma's success.

With its offense on the field, Oklahoma will be able to slowly wear down a stout Alabama defense and keep itself in the game with a chance to pull away in the end.

 

Alabama: Feature T.J. Yeldon

It seems strange to suggest the ball be in anyone's hands other than quarterback AJ McCarron; however, that is exactly what Alabama needs to do against Oklahoma.

Running back T.J. Yeldon should be featured heavily in this contest due to a very solid Oklahoma pass defense. In what is expected to be a defensive struggle, keeping the ball on the ground is a far better option for the Crimson Tide.

Oklahoma is allowing an average of 138.3 yards per game this season, which gives Yeldon a big chance to shine. If Yeldon is able to establish the running game, it will open things up over the top of the defense for McCarron.

Yeldon will dictate how Alabama's offense is able to maneuver during the Sugar Bowl.

 

Orange Bowl

Clemson: Pass, Pass and Pass Again

This is a pretty easy one for the Tigers. They have an NFL-caliber quarterback in Tajh Boyd and are facing a terrible Ohio State secondary. Boyd has thrown for 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions so far this season. He will absolutely be able to tee off against an Ohio State secondary that is allowing an average of 259.5 passing yards per game.

Yes, of course Clemson should not remain one-dimensional throughout the game. After all, they do have a very talented running back in Roderick McDowell.

However, with Boyd at the helm, an explosive Sammy Watkins on the outside and a terrible secondary across from him, passing early and often seems like the way to go here.

 

Ohio State: Run, Run and Run Some More

Talk about two completely opposing styles of offense. Ohio State has one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the nation, as dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde are a formidable duo.

Hyde and Miller have rushed for 1,408 and 1,033 yards, respectively, in 2013 while combining for 24 rushing touchdowns.

Clemson is currently ranked 51st in the nation against the run, according to NCAA.com. The Tigers are allowing an average of 152.6 yards per game on the ground this year. Braxton, Hyde and Co. can continue to remain successful running the football against the Tigers, which, in turn, will keep Boyd and the Clemson offense off the field.

 

BCS National Championship Game

Florida State: Unleash the Heisman Winner

Quarterback Jameis Winston has been incredible this season. After all, he did win the Heisman Trophy after passing for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over the regular season. Winston has been dynamic and efficient and will continue to propel this team going forward.

Auburn doesn't exactly have a pass defense to write home about. They are ranked 104th in the nation and are giving up an average of 260.2 yards per game—yes, that's even more than Ohio State.

Winston's arm should be featured heavily during this game, as he will surely find plenty of space to hit his targets and put up some gaudy numbers to end a fantastic season.

 

Auburn: Triple Option for the Win

Yes, Florida State has a pretty good run defense. They are ranked 14th in the nation and are only allowing an average of 116.5 yards per game to opposing teams. However, they have yet to face an attack nearly as vicious as Auburn's triple option.

Quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason have been explosive in 2013. Mason and Marshall have rushed for 1,621 and 1,023 yards, respectively. They have also combined for 33 rushing touchdowns.

That would be difficult to stop in its own right; however, Auburn adds another wrinkle here: wide receiver Sammie Coates.

The third option in this scheme, Coates remains available for a pitch-style pass to the outside should the running lanes for Marshall and Mason be unavailable. This is not something that is easily prepared for. After all, Florida State does have a very aggressive defense and can be beaten when Coates becomes a factor.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Schedule 2013-14: Breaking Down the Best Matchups Still to Be Played

Although 15 bowl games are already in the books, the best is still yet to come in this college football postseason.

Obviously, the best teams in the country will be competing in the BCS games and other high-level bowls. This includes top offenses like Baylor and Ohio State, as well as top defenses like Alabama. However, these squads will not necessarily produce great games. 

Instead, there are a number of other contests between evenly matched teams that should go down to the wire. Here is a look at the closest games left on the postseason slate as well as a full schedule of bowl matchups remaining. 

 

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

These two teams were extremely close to playing in a BCS bowl, but losses on the final day of the season knocked them down to the Cotton Bowl.

Missouri was one of the best stories in the country this year. The team went from a 5-7 record a year ago to SEC East Champions and a win in the SEC Championship Game away from competing for a national title.

Oklahoma State was never really in the title picture, but the team could have earned the Big 12 title with a win over rival Oklahoma. However, the Sooners came away winners at Bedlam, and Baylor ended up with the automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl.

Still, the most interesting thing to watch in this game will be the individual matchup between Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert and Tigers receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes:

Meanwhile, Green-Beckham is just a sophomore, but the 6'6" receiver has loads of talent, as shown by his 144-yard, two-touchdown performance against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

These two players will likely battle in the NFL one day. Before that, this matchup will play a huge role in the Cotton Bowl as two balanced teams will look to upstage the Orange Bowl on the same night.

 

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford

When two top-10 defenses face off against each other, you know it is going to be a classic, hard-nosed battle.

Stanford and Michigan State had a similar philosophy this season: run the ball, control possession and play strong defense. This worked out perfectly, as each side came away with a conference title.

However, the Spartans will be without senior linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended for violating team rules. According to David Leon Moore of USA Today, Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren thinks the opposing player will be missed:

He's an outstanding football player. The thing they're going to miss, judging by the film, is he looks like a coach out there. He's making this check and that check. In terms of performance, they've got other people who can step in and play football. I think they'll probably miss his leadership. I think they'll miss some of his checks at the line of scrimmage.

It remains to be seen whether Michigan State can play without him, but the fact is there are a lot of talented players still on the roster. Stanford will not be able to do much on the ground against the No. 1 run defense in the country.

This will truly be a game of strength against strength, and the outcome will likely be decided by no more than a field goal.

 

BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn

Depending on who you ask, many think this game is going to be a blowout.

Auburn fans think anyone outside the SEC is weak and this ACC foe will be no match. Florida State fans have seen a dominant performance in every game and expect another one to win the national championship. 

The truth is neither side will have an easy win, as both teams will put on a show.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will cause problems for the Tigers defense. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, even his opponents think highly of him:

"He is the most NFL-ready quarterback that I've had the privilege of preparing for," a defensive coach for a team that faced Winston told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity for competitive reasons. "I'm not saying he's Peyton Manning, but he's pretty darn close, man."

Meanwhile, the backfield tandem of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason will be tough for the Seminoles to stop, especially after combining for 405 rushing yards in the SEC title game.

After a few seasons of blowouts in the national championship game, this matchup might create one of the best in years. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Bowl Schedule 2013-14: Breaking Down the Best Matchups Still to Be Played

Although 15 bowl games are already in the books, the best is still yet to come in this college football postseason.

Obviously, the best teams in the country will be competing in the BCS games and other high-level bowls. This includes top offenses like Baylor and Ohio State, as well as top defenses like Alabama. However, these squads will not necessarily produce great games. 

Instead, there are a number of other contests between evenly matched teams that should go down to the wire. Here is a look at the closest games left on the postseason slate as well as a full schedule of bowl matchups remaining. 

 

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri

These two teams were extremely close to playing in a BCS bowl, but losses on the final day of the season knocked them down to the Cotton Bowl.

Missouri was one of the best stories in the country this year. The team went from a 5-7 record a year ago to SEC East Champions and a win in the SEC Championship Game away from competing for a national title.

Oklahoma State was never really in the title picture, but the team could have earned the Big 12 title with a win over rival Oklahoma. However, the Sooners came away winners at Bedlam, and Baylor ended up with the automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl.

Still, the most interesting thing to watch in this game will be the individual matchup between Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert and Tigers receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. As Bleacher Report's Matt Miller notes:

Meanwhile, Green-Beckham is just a sophomore, but the 6'6" receiver has loads of talent, as shown by his 144-yard, two-touchdown performance against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game.

These two players will likely battle in the NFL one day. Before that, this matchup will play a huge role in the Cotton Bowl as two balanced teams will look to upstage the Orange Bowl on the same night.

 

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford

When two top-10 defenses face off against each other, you know it is going to be a classic, hard-nosed battle.

Stanford and Michigan State had a similar philosophy this season: run the ball, control possession and play strong defense. This worked out perfectly, as each side came away with a conference title.

However, the Spartans will be without senior linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended for violating team rules. According to David Leon Moore of USA Today, Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren thinks the opposing player will be missed:

He's an outstanding football player. The thing they're going to miss, judging by the film, is he looks like a coach out there. He's making this check and that check. In terms of performance, they've got other people who can step in and play football. I think they'll probably miss his leadership. I think they'll miss some of his checks at the line of scrimmage.

It remains to be seen whether Michigan State can play without him, but the fact is there are a lot of talented players still on the roster. Stanford will not be able to do much on the ground against the No. 1 run defense in the country.

This will truly be a game of strength against strength, and the outcome will likely be decided by no more than a field goal.

 

BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn

Depending on who you ask, many think this game is going to be a blowout.

Auburn fans think anyone outside the SEC is weak and this ACC foe will be no match. Florida State fans have seen a dominant performance in every game and expect another one to win the national championship. 

The truth is neither side will have an easy win, as both teams will put on a show.

Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston will cause problems for the Tigers defense. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, even his opponents think highly of him:

"He is the most NFL-ready quarterback that I've had the privilege of preparing for," a defensive coach for a team that faced Winston told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity for competitive reasons. "I'm not saying he's Peyton Manning, but he's pretty darn close, man."

Meanwhile, the backfield tandem of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason will be tough for the Seminoles to stop, especially after combining for 405 rushing yards in the SEC title game.

After a few seasons of blowouts in the national championship game, this matchup might create one of the best in years. 

 

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

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

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