Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/sun-bowl-preview-and-prediction-arizona-state-vs-duke
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Arizona State missed a shot at the Pac-12 Championship Game on the final weekend of the regular season by losing to rival Arizona. Duke missed a shot at the ACC Championship Game by losing two of its final three games after the Blue Devils controlled their own destiny as late as Week 13.

 

But the 81st edition of the Sun Bowl, the second-oldest bowl game in college football (Rose), offers a chance at 10 wins for two 9-3 programs. It would be just the second 10-win season for Duke in school history after accomplishing the feat for the first time last season, and its first bowl win since 1960.

 

Todd Graham has taken the Sun Devils to the postseason in all three seasons in Tempe but the school has won just one bowl game since 2005. It would also be a second consecutive season with double-digit wins for ASU for the first time since 1970-73.

 

This is Duke’s first appearance in the Sun Bowl while Arizona State is third all-time behind Texas Tech (9) and UTEP (8) with five Sun Bowl bids. One of those showings was the record-setting 0-0 tie with Catholic University in the 1940 Sun Bowl.


This will be the first-ever meeting between these two different types of Devils.

 

Arizona State vs. Duke

 

Kickoff: 2:00 p.m. ET (Dec. 27)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Arizona State -7.5

 

Arizona State’s Key to Victory: Quarterback stability

 

Late in the de facto Pac-12 South Division title game with Arizona, Graham startled some by switching from Taylor Kelly to Mike Bercovici. They both threw 22 passes for less than 150 yards and two touchdowns. It was a strange move that came in a critical moment, but following the loss, Graham reaffirmed Kelly would remain the starter for the bowl game. Both players are capable but the time off should allow Kelly to return to full strength after dealing with injuries all season long. He has looked sharp in bowl practice and has a significant edge in experience on Bercovici. But just because it’s Kelly’s final game in an ASU uniform doesn’t mean the big-armed backup won’t get some snaps.

 

Arizona State is facing the second-best defense, statistically, that it has faced all year behind only Stanford. Duke is 20th in pass efficiency defense and 20th in scoring defense nationally behind the play of a great secondary. How the veteran quarterbacks play will be the biggest key to an Arizona State victory.

 

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Duke's Key to Victory: Get Jamison Crowder the ball

 

Duke is solid on defense and should matchup well with Arizona State but will need to move the ball on offense to stay in the game. Quarterback Anthony Boone has been a solid leader but ranked near the bottom of the ACC in most passing statistics. Crowder is one of the most productive players in ACC history (276 career receptions, 5,402 all-purpose yards) and David Cutcliffe needs to find multiple ways to get his top playmaker the ball in his final game as a Blue Devil. Be it trick plays, deep shots or special teams, Crowder is the key for Duke’s offense.

 

Final Analysis

 

The regular season ended with a bit of a whimper for both teams after a fantastic first two months of the season so getting up to play in El Paso could be difficult for both locker rooms. That said, both teams are extremely well coached by two veteran leaders in Cutcliffe and Graham, and Duke is still looking for its first bowl win in more than six decades. Arizona State has the talent edge and is the heavy favorite for a reason but the Blue Devils have a strength-on-strength matchup when the Sun Devils’ offense is on the field. D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong might be too much in this Devilish duel.

 

Prediction: Arizona State 31, Duke 27
Teaser:
Sun Bowl Preview and Predictions: Arizona State vs. Duke
Post date: Wednesday, December 24, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-playoff-predictions
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Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan go in-depth to break down both national semifinal games. 

 

Alabama vs. Ohio State: Does Urban Meyer or Nick Saban have the advantage on the sidelines? Can Cardale Jones handle the Bama defense? Can the Buckeyes defensive line disrupt the Bama offense? Which fan base wins the week off-the-field in New Orleans?

 

Oregon vs. Florida State: Which QB is better in Pasadena? Which defense is more likely to get stops? Can Marcus Mariota carry his team to victory? Does playing close games all year help or hurt FSU?

 

The guys cover all of this and make National Championship predictions on this special Playoff Predictions edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Cover 2 College Football Podcast: Playoff Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, December 23, 2014 - 14:14
All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/jay-cutler-isnt-answer-tennessee-titans
Body:

Dear Tennessee Titans fans,

 

You don’t want Jay Cutler as your starting quarterback.

 

When a general manager or head coach evaluates an NFL quarterback, be it through free agency, trades or the NFL Draft, a dozen different qualifications must be addressed.

 

With the exception of a strong arm, Cutler doesn’t have a single one.

 

Physically, Cutler has the arm strength (1) that NFL teams have always desired. But other than that, he has been hurt frequently (2) throughout his career and no longer has the mobility (3) he displayed in college. Cutler hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2010, missing six games in 2011, five games in 2013 and the second half of the most important game of his entire life (more on this later).

 

From an accuracy standpoint (4), Cutler has been average his entire career. His career 61.7% completion rate is 12th among all active passers, behind Matt Schaub and Ryan Tannehill. His poor precision is better illustrated with his inability to protect the football (5). Cutler is leading the NFL with 18 interceptions and leads the NFL with 12 fumbles this season. He’s thrown multiple interceptions in seven of his 14 starts this year.

 

Only once since his rookie season has Cutler thrown fewer than 12 interceptions in a season and has led the league twice in the category. He has a career 3.4% interception ratio (interceptions/attempt) — which 68th in NFL history behind Joey Harrington, Josh Freeman, Charlie Batch, Chad Henne and David Carr. His career TD:INT ratio is 1.4.

 

By comparison, his archrival Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL all-time with a career 3.9 TD:INT ratio, a career 105.8 QB-rating and a career 1.7% interception ratio. For the record, Rodgers has thrown more than 11 interceptions once in his entire career.

 

That said, turnovers can be overcome if you produce (6) at a Brett Favre-type level, but Cutler isn’t doing that either.

 

In the modern era of passing football, throwing for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns has become a normally accessible benchmark of success. Over the last four years (including 2014), a quarterback topped 4,000 yards 38 times. Basically, the top third of the NFL throws for at least 4,000 yards each season. Jay Cutler has topped 4,000 yards in a season once ('08) and has never thrown more than 28 touchdowns in a season.

 

It's not like he's devoid of supporting playmakers either. Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett make the Titans roster look more like a Sun Belt team than an NFL squad.

 

From a leadership standpoint (7), various players from around the NFL have been outspoken about his influence in the locker room or huddle. They “don’t like Cutler as a teammate.” He pouts constantly, publicly berates teammates and has arguably the worst body language of any quarterback of this generation.

 

He’s terrible with the media (8), and has had an interesting off-the-field track record (9) — mostly dating back to his college days (search: phone booth). Let’s be honest, he’s the second most famous member of his own marriage (to Kristin Cavallari). He’s simply doesn’t qualify as a “face of the franchise.”

 

Again, most of these deficiencies will be overlooked if a QB can “just win baby.” But Cutler is anything but a winner (10). In nine seasons as a starter, Cutler has posted a winning record just three times and he’s never won more than 10 games in a year. He was 17-20 as the starter in Denver, is 44-37 in Chicago and is 61-57 overall as an NFL starter. Matthew Stafford has won at least 10 games as many times as Cutler (twice) and he’s played only four full seasons as a starter… FOR THE LIONS!

 

More important than winning in the regular season is winning in the postseason (11). Cutler has led his team to the postseason once in his nine-year career and never took his college team (Vanderbilt) to a bowl game — he was 11-35 as a starter in college. He did win his first playoff game at home against Seattle in 2010 before losing to Green Bay at home in the 2010 NFL Championship game.

 

In the most important game of his entire career, he completed six passes for 80 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in the embarrassing loss to their archrival with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. He missed most of the second half with an injury as teammates questioned his toughness.

 

How about what it will take to acquire (12) Cutler? To obtain this mediocre signal caller, a team would have to give up some package of draft picks — which might not be too hefty a price considering Cutler’s lack of production — and then would be on the hook for a huge contract. Cutler hits the cap between $16-17 million per year for the next four seasons before it rises to over $20 million in 2019-20. Cutler would be 38 when his contract runs out in 2020.

 

If the Bears were to cut Cutler, then at least there is some logic in signing the player, but trading for him with his current contract seems idiotic.

 

So why are Titans fans seemingly obsessed with bringing in Cutler?

 

He has a strong arm, is available and is better than Zach Mettenberger? He played his college football in Nashville and has a famous wife?

 

Sure, he’s more experienced and proven than Mettenbeger by a wide margin. But really, the Titans rookie QB is just a dramatically cheaper version of Cutler — a big armed passer with an “interesting attitude” who isn’t all that accurate and hasn’t really won much of anything. At least, Mettenberger has upside.

 

It’s no sure thing, but why not draft a rookie superstar with huge upside — Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston — and package him with Cutler 2.0 (aka, Mettenberger) and go to battle in 2014?

 

No, Nashville, you don’t want Jay Cutler in a Titans uniform.

 

Sincerely,

 

Common Sense

Teaser:
Jay Cutler Isn't the Answer for the Tennessee Titans
Post date: Monday, December 22, 2014 - 12:17
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-bowl-edition-part-1-2014
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My advice for picking bowls?

 

Don't do it. Stay as far away from these exhibitions as you can. Trying to pinpoint motivation, focus and the holidays at the end of a long, grueling season is virtually impossible.

 

I finished the regular season 56-53-1 against the spread. Unimpressive but in the black nonetheless during the most unpredictable season since '07. This isn't the regular season though, so these are more like suggestions than iron-clad locks.

 

Nevada (-1) vs. UL Lafayette

New Orleans Bowl

Dec. 20, 11 a.m., New Orleans

 

The Cajuns are extremely familiar with this situation and have been very successful. ULL has is 3-0 under Mark Hudspeth with each win coming in the New Orleans Bowl. Stopping Cody Fajardo isn't easy but Lafayette will find a way. The Pick: ULL +1

 

Utah St (-10.5) vs. UTEP

New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 20, 2:20 p.m., Albuquerque

 

This is one of the largest spreads in any bowl game and that should give you pause. The Miners have been excellent against the number all season (8-3-1) and should be motivated in their first bowl appearance since 2010. Utah State is getting healthier but got smoked by Boise State 50-19 its last time out. The Pick: UTEP +10

 

Utah (-2.5) vs. Colorado St

Las Vegas Bowl

Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m., Las Vegas

 

Both teams have been excellent against the spread, going 8-4 this year. Colorado State has lots of weapons but no head coach. This will be close but Utah's front seven should make enough plays to slow down the Rams' talented offensive trio. The Pick: Utah -2.5

 

W. Michigan (-1) vs. Air Force

Potato Bowl

Dec. 20, 5:45 p.m., Boise

 

It should come as no surprise that this game is a total crap shoot. On one side there's a unique offense that is much tougher to stop at the mid-major levels. On the other is one of the best teams in the nation against the spread (10-2) and three weeks to prepare. Good luck. The Pick: Air Force +1

 

South Alabama (-2.5) vs. Bowling Green

Camellia Bowl

Dec. 20, 9:15 p.m., Montgomery

 

Bowling Green is 4-8-1 against the spread this season and has lost three straight. Meanwhile, South Alabama has lost four out of five. Both teams are well coached and are evenly matched, so I'll take the team playing in its first-ever bowl game. The Pick: South Alabama -2.5

 

BYU (+1.5) vs. Memphis

Miami Beach Bowl

Dec. 22, 2 p.m., Miami

 

This is the most intriguing early bowl matchup of the year. Both teams are very well coached and play physical defense. BYU would be the pick if Taysom Hill was playing but the Stormin' Mormon won't be back until 2015. Take Memphis to be motivated to get its first bowl win since 2005 in its first bowl appearance since 2008. The Pick: Memphis -1.5

 

Marshall (-10) vs. N. Illinois

Boca Raton Bowl

Dec. 23, 6 p.m., Boca Raton

 

Just like the New Mexico Bowl, big spreads in bowl games should be played with caution. Frankly, the Huskies are good enough to win the game outright. The Herd will be tough to beat but that is too many points for a program that knows all about the postseason and has been challenged this year. The Pick: N. Illinois +10 

 

Navy (+2.5) vs. San Diego St

Poinsettia Bowl

Dec. 23, 9:30 p.m., San Diego

 

This is a solid Navy team that has won three straight and rolled up efficient offensive numbers all season long. The Aztecs are playing well but won't be able to stop the Middies' triple-option attack. The Pick: Navy +2.5

 

C. Michigan (+3) vs. W. Kentucky

Bahamas Bowl

Dec. 24, Noon, Nassau

 

Finally, a pre-Christmas bowl game I'd like to cover. The Hilltoppers have played a much tougher slate and have won four straight, including scoring 67 points on previously unbeaten Marshall. In its last five wins (six games), WKY has scored at least 45 points four times. The Pick: Western Kentucky -3

 

Fresno St (+2) vs. Rice

Hawai'i Bowl

Dec. 24, 8 p.m., Honolulu

 

The competition got stiff in the final few weeks for Rice and it gave up huge numbers to Marshall (41) and Louisiana Tech (76) in losses. Fresno State wants to get back to .500 and played very well in a loss to Boise State in the MWC title game. The Pick: Fresno St +2

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: Bowl Edition, Part 1
Post date: Friday, December 19, 2014 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-30-games-2014
Body:

Here are the 30 best, most entertaining, most dramatic and most important Power 5 football games of the 2014 season:

 

1. (2) Florida St 31, (5) Notre Dame 27

It’s hard to make an entire nation root for the usually hated Fighting Irish but that is what the Seminoles were able to do in this battle of top-five teams. An evenly matched bout most of the way, Jameis Winston led the Noles on a game-winning touchdown drive with just under eight minutes to go. Not to be outdone, Everett Golson moved the Irish to the FSU two-yard line before the infamous pick penalty erased the game-winning score and pushed ND back to the 18-yard line on fourth down. Winston was star of the show again, going 15-of-16 in the second half.

 

2. (5) Baylor 61, (9) TCU 58

One of the highest-scoring games in league history eventually decided the Big 12 championship for the Bears. Trailing 58-37 with less than 11 minutes to play, Bryce Petty orchestrated one of the most miraculous comebacks in college football history. He led Baylor on four scoring drives and 24 points in the final quarter with the final three points coming on a 28-yard field goal as time expired. This game might have cost the Big 12 a spot in the Playoff.

 

3. (11) Ole Miss 23, (3) Alabama 17

For about seven minutes, Bo Wallace was downright brilliant and Alabama's special teams were not. Two Wallace touchdown passes and two 'Bama turnovers led to a historic and memorable victory over the Tide in "College GameDay’s" first-ever visit to The Grove.

 

4. (1) Alabama 55, (15) Auburn 44

While there was no SEC West or SEC title hanging in the balance, the intensity still delivered for these two hated rivals. Neither team played much defense in this record-setting Iron Bowl, as Alabama outscored Auburn 34-10 over the following 23 minutes after trailing by 12 in the third quarter. The win kept 'Bama in the Playoff picture.

 

5. Arizona 31, (2) Oregon 24

The upset heard ‘round the world started an unforgettable weekend in the Pac-12. Arizona stunned the Ducks by forcing turnovers, pressuring Marcus Mariota and running the ball. Scooby Wright III became a household name when he stripped Mariota and recovered the fumble to win the game in front of a shocked Autzen Stadium crowd.

 

6. (5) Alabama 20, (16) LSU 13 (OT)

Always physical and always intense, the heavily-favored Crimson Tide needed a historic drive from Blake Sims to defeat the Tigers. Sims led 'Bama 55 yards over the final 50 seconds to tie the game before going on to win in overtime.

 

7. (3) Auburn 35, (4) Ole Miss 31

Literally and figuratively, the Rebels' home loss to Auburn might be one of the most painful in school or SEC history. No one on either side of the ledger will forget when Laquon Treadwell fumbled and broke his leg with 1:30 to go, as he was falling into the end zone for the game-winning score. The back-and-forth affair never featured a lead of more than seven points.

 

8. (25) TCU 37, (4) Oklahoma 33

Barely ranked, TCU entered the national conversation by outscoring the Sooners at home. Trevone Boykin and Trevor Knight both topped 300 yards in the dramatic affair. The game was tied at the end of the first quarter and was never more than a one-score game after that. Paul Dawson’s 41-yard interception return early in the fourth quarter was the game-winning touchdown.

 

9. (3) Oregon 46, (7) Michigan St 27

Few gave the Spartans a chance to go to Autzen Stadium and win. But through three quarters, everyone in Eugene had respect for Michigan State. The Spartans gave the Ducks all they could handle until a late tipped interception landed in the hands of All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks surged over the final few minutes.

 

10. (24) LSU 10, (3) Ole Miss 7

It wasn’t always pretty but it was extremely memorable. The physical units beat each other up for 60 minutes before Ole Miss had a chance to win in the final moments. But a bizarre decision by Bo Wallace (and, to some extent, Hugh Freeze) in the final moments of the game began a tough final month for the Rebs.

 

11. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)

It didn’t really mean much in the standings or rankings but the 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate won’t ever be forgotten by either side. Georgia scored with 18 seconds to go to seemingly win a sixth straight over its in-state rival but somehow Justin Thomas ran his team into field goal range on the ensuing possession. Harrison Butker drilled a 53-yarder to tie the game as time expired and the Jackets' defense kept the Dawgs out of the end zone for the win.

 

12. Arizona St 38, (16) USC 34

It was the wildest weekend of the season, as four of the top 10 games of the year took place in Week 6. The wildest of finishes happened in Los Angeles when backup quarterback Mike Bercovici connected with Jaelen Strong on the final play of the game from 46 yards out. Arizona State and USC combined for 34 points in the final quarter.

 

13. (1) Florida St 23, (22) Clemson 17 (OT)

The day before the big Atlantic Division showdown, Jimbo Fisher suspended Jameis Winston for the entire game. Clemson, buoyed by a confident defense and the emergence of true freshman DeShaun Watson at quarterback, played mostly excellent football for 58 minutes. But a gut-wrenching fumble deep in Florida State territory with two minutes to play and a questionable fourth-down decision in overtime left the Tigers dumbstruck when the final whistle blew.

 

14. (19) Utah 24, (20) USC 21

It was arguably the biggest win for Utah since moving to the Pac-12 and it happened because Travis Wilson threw a game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left. The final drive may be Wilson’s finest of his career, moving the Utes 73 yards on 11 plays with just 2:08 to play. The score was the game’s fifth lead change.

 

15. (3) Florida State 30, Miami 26

FSU started out slowly, trailing both 16-0 and 23-7 in the second quarter. But Jameis Winston and tailback Dalvin Cook flipped a switch in the second half, as Florida State went on a 23-3 run. Cook sprinted 26 yards with 3:05 left in the game to give the Noles their 26th straight win and fifth in a row over the archrival Hurricanes.

 

16. Utah 30, (8) UCLA 28

The Bruins lived on the edge for most of the first month and it finally caught up with them at home against the underdog Utes. After UCLA allowed the eighth, ninth and tenth sacks of the game against Brett Hundley, Kendal Thompson led the game-winning drive to give Utah a win on the road over a to-10 foe. Andy Phillips nailed a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left to give Utah the lead. UCLA then missed not one, but two 50-plus-yard field goal attempts as time expired.

 

17. Arizona 49, Cal 45

It didn’t feature a ranked team at the time and no one realized at the time how important it would become in the Pac-12 South Division race. Arizona’s successful Hail Mary on the game’s final play capped a 36-point fourth quarter. The record-setting comeback would help propel the Wildcats into the Pac-12 title game and put Anu Solomon on the nation’s radar.

 

18. (14) Ohio St 49, (8) Michigan St 37

There wasn’t a Hail Mary or last-second field goal, but this was easily the most important Big Ten game of the year. Ohio State went on the road and matched the Spartans punch for punch. In the end, J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were too much for the defending champs. The win eventually gave the Buckeyes the division crown, the league title and a Playoff berth.

 

19. (24) South Carolina 38, (6) Georgia 35

This SEC East rivalry has become one of the most important and entertaining in the league and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. Todd Gurley and Dylan Thompson went back and forth all game while special teams and a goal-line stand played critical roles in the second half.

 

20. (13) Ohio St 31, Penn St 24 (2OT)

J.T. Barrett played one of the worst games of his season while Penn State played arguably its best as a team, coming from 17 points back to force overtime. Yet, after two overtimes and four turnovers, Penn State’s offensive line woes eventually cost the Lions the game. Joey Bosa capped a remarkable evening with a game-ending sack on fourth down in double overtime.

 

21. (2) Florida St 42, (25) Louisville 31

(Stop me when you’ve heard this before?) Florida State stumbled out of the gate in primetime on a Thursday night in Papa John’s Stadium. Michael Dyer led a surging Cardinals squad to a 21-0 second-quarter lead before a fortunate bounce helped FSU get into the end zone with just 33 seconds left before halftime. The second half was the James Winston and Dalvin Cook show, as the duo combined for five touchdowns — all of which came from at least 35 yards away. The Noles finished on a 42-10 run over the final 31 minutes of play.

 

22. Texas A&M 41, (3) Auburn 38

The thrilling road upset by the Aggies was highlighted by two of the most bizarre fumbles the SEC has ever seen. After a furious second-half rally, Auburn appeared to have the game won or at least tied at two different times in the final moments. But a tangled exchanged at the two-yard line and a bizarre center snap on the 28 cost Auburn the game. Texas A&M was a 23-point underdog and this win also helped christen Kyle Allen as the future in College Station

 

23. (14) Kansas St 31, (11) Oklahoma 30

It wasn’t Michael Hunnicutt’s day to say the least. Several miscues and a late missed field goal cost the Sooners the game. That said, Oklahoma couldn’t stop Jake Waters and company all day, as the two offenses went back and forth for 60 minutes. Two old-school Hall of Fame coaches did battle and everyone who watched was a winner.

 

24. (14) Arizona St 19, (17) Utah 16 (OT)

The low-scoring affair featured plenty of special teams action, as two of the best kickers in the game went toe-to-toe. Zane Gonzalez made four field goals, including the game-tying kick from 30 yards out with 5:47 to play and the game-winner in overtime from 36 yards out. Utah’s Andy Phillips also made three FGs during the game, but missed twice from 35 yards out (timeout was called negating the first attempt) on the first possession of overtime.

 

25. (6) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

The Hogs appeared to be poised for their first SEC win under Bret Bielema until Kenny Hill snatched victory away from Arkansas. Trailing by two touchdowns in the final frame, Hill connected on two long touchdown throws and added the game-winner on the first play of overtime to score 21 unanswered points and give Texas A&M the win.

 

26. Oklahoma St 38, (20) Oklahoma 35

The Bedlam Series has never seen an ending quite like this and it couldn’t make Mike Gundy any happier. A heavy underdog, the Pokes faced certain defeat with just under a minute to play. But Tyreek Hill delivered a 92-yard, game-tying punt return to send the game into overtime.

 

27. (17) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14

The Hogs played extremely well for three quarters before a road-grading, old-school touchdown drive gave Missouri the SEC East championship. The Tigers ran 12 plays for 85 yards to score the game-winner with just six minutes left in the game. A turnover forced by Markus Golden eventually sealed the win in what should develop into an underrated border rivalry.

 

28. Virginia Tech 35, (8) Ohio St 21

This was one of the biggest upsets of the year regardless of conference. The Hokies rattled and tormented J.T. Barrett all night in a shocking two-touchdown win in Columbus. It was a memorable night for college football and VT quarterback Michael Brewer.

 

29. (14) USC 13, (13) Stanford 10

It wasn’t a well-played game, but it sure was fun to watch. Stanford’s inability to score in the red zone coupled with some big plays from Cody Kessler and the USC defense gave the Trojans yet another upset win over Stanford. The game was highlighted by bizarre sideline behavior from Steve Sarkisian and Pat Haden.

 

30. (9) Notre Dame 17, (14) Stanford 14

It wasn’t pretty but the finish lived up to the rich history between these two cross-country foes. From the 23-yard line, Everett Golson found Ben Koyack in the end zone on fourth down trailing 14-10 with just 1:01 left on the clock. The defensive battle finished with three lead changes in the final eight minutes.

 

The Best of the Rest:

 

(4) Florida St 37, (11) Georgia Tech 35

After allowing boatloads of yards in the first half, it looked like Tech would be up to the task. However, the Seminoles' defense tightened in the second half and Jameis Winston, like always, led multiple scoring drives in the final 20 minutes of play. It was just enough for Florida State to win its third consecutive ACC title.

 

USC 28, (10) Arizona 26

Arizona led after the first quarter and USC led after the second and third. In fact, the Trojans entered the final frame up 28-13 before Anu Solomon led another furious rally. A failed two-point conversion with 1:07 to play left the Cats down by two, but a successful onside kick gave Zona new life. Solomon then raced his offense into field goal range but a last-second, 36-yard attempt sailed wide right and USC escaped Tucson with a critical win.

 

(25) Minnesota 28, (23) Nebraska 24

With just minutes left in the game and trailing, it appeared that Nebraska had made the game-winning play. But Jerry Kill’s Gophers, without running back David Cobb no less, once again made an unexpected play. Briean Boddy-Calhoun capped an epic road comeback for Minnesota when he ripped the ball away from Nebraska on his own goal line with 1:19 left in the game. It was Minnesota’s first win in Nebraska since 1960.

 

Nebraska 37, Iowa 34 (OT)

The Huskers had lost two straight and were trailing 24-7 late in the third quarter when Tommy Armstrong led one of the most improbable comebacks in school history. Armstrong led three touchdown drives over the final 20 minutes, capped off by the game-tying drive that ended with eight seconds left in the game and then threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kenny Bell in overtime — his fourth of the game.

 

Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT)

Kentucky fans will only remember what happened before the play and certainly won’t ever forget what happened at the end. After the play clock appeared to hit zero, Jeff Driskel connected with Demarcus Robinson on 4th-and-7 in overtime to tie the game and keep Florida alive. Two overtimes later, Matt Jones scored the game-winning touchdown.

 

Indiana 31, (18) Missouri 27

The biggest non-conference win and biggest upset of the year — regardless of conference — came from Kevin Wilson’s bunch in Columbia, Mo. Tevin Coleman rushed for 132 yards, Nate Sudfeld was excellent and D’Angelo Roberts scored the game-winning touchdown with just 22 seconds left. The SEC East champs lost just twice in the regular season.

 

(5) Auburn 42, South Carolina 35

South Carolina came to Auburn as a heavy underdog but proved to be anything but an easy out. The two high-powered offenses traded scores for the better part of 60 minutes before Auburn’s defense finally got a few stops in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 1,086 yards of offense and three total punts.

 

(14) Arizona 27, Washington 26

The star of this wild game was a kicker. One week after missing a kick that cost Arizona a win over USC, Casey Skowron not only made the game-winning field goal as time expired, but scored every point in the fourth quarter for either team and scored a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter. Washington dominated the third quarter but RichRod’s bunch owned the final frame in this wild interdivisional game.

 

(11) Arizona 42, (13) Arizona St 35

Despite Rich Rodriguez’ best efforts, about midway through the game, both teams realized that The Territorial Cup had become the Pac-12 South championship game. Anu Solomon played solid football all game, as did the Cats defense, regardless of which Arizona State quarterback was in the game. The Sun Devils simply couldn’t close the touchdown gap that existed for most of the game. An early defensive TD was the difference.

 

(5) Auburn 20, (20) Kansas St 14

It wasn’t pretty and wasn’t well played but it was hard-hitting and dramatic. Jake Waters and Nick Marshall battled to the final moments in Manhattan but red zone and special teams mistakes kept the Cats from the win.

Teaser:
College Football's Top 30 Games of 2014
Post date: Friday, December 19, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/las-vegas-bowl-preview-and-prediction-utah-vs-colorado-state
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Not many bowl games feature two teams that have met 79 previous times but that is the case when former conference rivals Utah and Colorado State meet on Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes own the series over Rams (55-22-2) and is 6-1 against the Colorado State under Kyle Whittingham — the only loss came in Whittingham’s first season in Salt Lake City.

 

After missing the postseason four straight years, Jim McElwain led the Rams to their second straight bowl game and a 10-win season. However, Dave Baldwin will be running the ship after McElwain departed Fort Collins for Gainesville, Fla.

 

Opposite Baldwin, Whittingham has led a resurgent Utah program back to the postseason after two years without a bowl bid.

 

Utah is making its fourth appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl while Colorado State is making its postseason debut in Sin City.

 

Utah vs. Colorado State

 

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Dec. 20)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Utah -3.5

 

Utah’s Key to Victory: Efficient and balanced offense 

 

Utah has arguably the best special teams in the nation and has more than held its own along the defensive front. So it falls to the offense to find balance and not turn the ball over. Travis Wilson has had his share of impressive moments this fall but has also made plenty of mistakes. He needs to rely on All-Pac-12 running back Devontae Booker (1,350 yds, 9 TDs) to make plays and not be afraid to throw the ball away. If Wilson protects the football and plays it conservatively, the Utes are good enough to win with defense and special teams.

 

Colorado State's Key to Victory: Protect the QB 

 

Few teams in the nation have as talented an offensive trio as Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson, Rashard Higgins and Dee Hart. Grayson has been sterling under center (32 TDs, 6 INTs) while Higgins is leading the nation with 17 touchdown catches. Hart brings balance to the offense (1,254 yds, 16 TDs). Needless to say, the trio has been tough to stop this year, but the Utes led the nation in sacks (52) and Baldwin can bet on plenty of pressure from Utah. Keeping Grayson upright and protected on passing downs (while giving Hart some space to work with on the ground) will give CSU its only chance at the upset. If the Rams can’t block Nate Orchard and a healthy Hunter Dimick, it could be a long day for Grayson and company.

 

Final Analysis

 

Colorado State has an advantage with its talented trio on offense but they haven’t faced too many defensive fronts like what the Utes bring to the table. And Wilson hasn’t been consistent enough for the Utes to lean on him on offense. Instead, Utah will focus heavily on getting Booker the football on offense — he has carried the ball at least 23 times in a game seven times this year — and allowing the nation’s best special teams to win the field position battle. With the nation’s top punter (Tom Hackett), one of the best kickers (Andy Phillips) and an elite return man (Kaelin Clay), Whittingham’s bunch should outlast the Rams for his seventh bowl win in eight tries at Utah.

 

Prediction: Utah 27, Colorado State 23
Teaser:
Las Vegas Bowl Preview and Predictions: Utah vs. Colorado State
Post date: Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 10:10
Path: /college-football/pac-12s-top-15-games-2014
Body:

The SEC still might be the best league in college football but no conference had more fun in 2014 than the Pac-12.

 

Week after week, the Pac-12 delivered with elite talent, high-quality coaching and dramatic finishes — both in conference and out. Not even the powerful SEC West could match the theater that the Pac-12 South had to offer this year. And anytime Oregon took the field, it was must-see TV.

 

There were more Hail Mary’s and overtime finishes in the Pac-12 than anywhere else in the nation. Here are the most dramatic and memorable Pac-12 games of the year:

 

1. Arizona 31, (2) Oregon 24
Oct. 2, Eugene

The upset heard ‘round the world started the best weekend of action out West. Arizona stunned the Ducks by forcing turnovers, pressuring Marcus Mariota and running the ball. Scooby Wright III became a household name when he stripped Mariota and recovered the fumble to win the game in front of a shocked Autzen Stadium. (The Ducks would have their revenge, however.)

 

2. Arizona St 38, (16) USC 34
Oct. 4, Los Angeles

It was the wildest weekend of the season as four of the top 10 games of the year took place in Week 6. The wildest of finishes happened in Los Angeles when backup quarterback Mike Bercovici connected with Jaelen Strong on the final play of the game from 46 yards out. Arizona State and USC combined for 34 points in the final quarter.

 

3. (3) Oregon 46, (7) Michigan St 27
Sept. 6, Eugene

Few gave the Spartans a chance to go to Autzen Stadium and win. But through three quarters, everyone in Eugene had respect for Michigan State. The Spartans gave the Ducks all they could take until a late tipped interception landed in the hands of All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks surged over the final few minutes.

 

4. (19) Utah 24, (20) USC 21
Oct. 25, Salt Lake City

It was arguably the biggest win for Utah since moving to the Pac-12 and it happened because Travis Wilson threw a game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the game. The final drive may be Wilson’s finest of his career, moving the Utes 73 yards on 11 plays in the final two minutes. The score was the game’s fifth lead change.

 

5. Utah 30, (8) UCLA 28
Oct. 4, Pasadena

The Bruins lived on the edge for most of the first month and it finally caught up with them at home against the underdog Utes. After UCLA allowed the eighth, ninth and tenth sacks of the game against Brett Hundley, Kendal Thompson led the game-winning drive to give Utah a win on the road over a top 10 foe. Andy Phillips nailed a 29-yard field goal with 34 seconds left to give Utah the lead. UCLA then missed not one but two 50-plus-yard field goal attempts as time expired.

 

6. Arizona 49, Cal 45
Sept. 20, Tucson

It didn’t feature a ranked team at the time and no one realized how important it would become in the South Division race. Arizona’s successful Hail Mary on the game’s final play eventually would help propel the Wildcats into the Pac-12 title game and first put Anu Solomon on the nation’s radar. The Cats scored 36 points in the final quarter to cap the record-setting comeback.
 

7. (14) Arizona St 19, (17) Utah 16 (OT)
Nov. 1, Tempe

The low-scoring affair featured plenty of special teams as two of the best kickers in the game went toe-to-toe. Zane Gonzalez made four field goals, including the game-tying kick from 30 yards out with 5:47 to play and the game-winner in overtime from 36 yards out. Utah’s Andy Phillips also made three of his own kicks during the game but missed twice on the first overtime possession from 35 yards after a timeout game him a second chance.

 

8. (14) USC 13, (13) Stanford 10
Sept. 6, Palo Alto

It wasn’t a well-played game of football but it sure was fun to watch. Stanford’s in ability to score in the redzone coupled with some big plays from Cody Kessler and the USC defense gave the Trojans yet another upset win over Stanford. The game was highlighted by bizarre sideline behavior from Steve Sarkisian and Pat Haden.

 

9. USC 28, (10) Arizona 26
Oct. 11, Tucson

Arizona led after the first quarter and USC led after the second and third. In fact, the Trojans entered the final frame up 28-13 before Anu Solomon led another furious rally. A failed two-point conversion with 1:07 to play left the Cats down by two, but a successful onside kick gave Zona new life. Solomon then raced his offense into field goal range but a last second 36-yard attempt sailed wide right and USC escaped Tucson with a critical win.

 

10. (14) Arizona 27, Washington 26
Nov. 15, Tucson

The star of this wild game was a kicker. One week after missing a kick that cost Arizona a win over USC, Casey Skowron not only made the game-winning field goal as time expired but scored every point in the fourth quarter for either team and scored a touchdown on a fake field goal in the second quarter. Washington dominated the third quarter but RichRod’s bunch owned the final frame in this wild interdivisional game.

 

11. (9) Notre Dame 17, (14) Stanford 14
Oct. 4, South Bend

It wasn’t pretty but the finish lived up to the rich history between these two cross-country foes. From the 23-yard line, Everett Golson found Ben Koyack in the endzone on fourth down trailing 14-10 with just 1:01 left on the clock. The defensive battle finished with three lead changes in the final eight minutes.

 

12. (11) Arizona 42, (13) Arizona St 35
Nov. 28, Tucson

Despite Rich Rodriguez’ best efforts, about midway through the game, both teams realized that The Territorial Cup had become the Pac-12 South championship game. Anu Solomon played solid football all game, as did the Cats defense, regardless of which Arizona State quarterback was in the game. The Sun Devils simply couldn’t close the touchdown gap that existed for most of the game. An early defensive TD was the difference.

 

13. (23) Utah 20, Stanford 17 (2OT)
Nov. 15, Palo Alto

Both teams were held under 300 yards of offense and they played two extra periods. Defense won the day as the game was tied 7-7 for most of three quarters. The two teams matched touchdowns in the first overtime before Travis Wilson connected with Kenneth Scott in the second OT to finally win the physical throwdown.

 

14. (12) UCLA 20, Texas 17
Sept. 13, Arlington

With Brett Hundley on the sideline, UCLA watched Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes lead the Longhorns to what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with 5:13 left. Down 17-13 with three minutes left in the game, Jerry Neuheisel found Jordan Payton streaking down the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown pass in JerryWorld.

 

15. Washington St 28, Utah 27
Sept. 27, Salt Lake City

Connor Halliday threw for 267 of his 417 yards in the second half to overcome a 17-point second-half deficit. He finished off the comeback by connected with Vince Mayle for an 81-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game. After starting the game up 21-0 at home, Utah lost the rest of the way 28-6.

 

The Best of the Rest:

 

16. (20) Utah 29, Oregon St 23 (2OT)

17. Cal 59, Colorado 56 (2OT)

18. (25) UCLA 40, Colorado 37 (2OT)

19. Cal 60, Washington St 59

20. Oregon St 35, (6) Arizona St 27

21. (22) UCLA 17, (12) Arizona 7

22. (14) Arizona St 24, Washington 10

23. Rutgers 41, Washington St 38

24. (6) Oregon 59, Cal 41

25. (11) UCLA 42, Memphis 35

26. UCLA 36, Cal 34

27. (12) Oregon 42, (18) UCLA 30

28. (4) Oregon 51, (17) Utah 27

29. (16) Stanford 20, Washington 13

30. Washington 59, Eastern Washington 52

Teaser:
Pac-12's Top 15 Games of 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 18, 2014 - 09:15
Path: /college-football/big-tens-top-10-games-2014
Body:

The Big Ten played a lot of dramatic and exciting games in 2014.

 

Unfortunately, when it came to non-conference contests, the league didn’t win too many of them. However, an entire year of disappointment can all be washed away by two great showings by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.

 

But, in the meantime, here are the best and most exciting Big Ten games of the 2014 season:

 

1. (14) Ohio St 49, (8) Michigan St 37
Nov. 8, East Lansing

There wasn’t a Hail Mary or last-second field goal, but this was easily the most important Big Ten game of the year. Ohio State went on the road and matched the Spartans punch for punch. In the end, J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott were too much for the defending champs. The win set up the Buckeyes for a run at the College Football Playoff.

 

2. (13) Ohio St 31, Penn St 24 (2OT)
Oct. 25, State College

Barrett played one of the worst games of his season while Penn State played arguably its best as a team, coming from 17 points back to force overtime. Yet, after two overtimes and four turnovers, Penn State’s offensive line woes eventually cost the Lions the game. Joey Bosa capped a remarkable evening with a game-ending sack on fourth down in double overtime.

 

3. (25) Minnesota 28, (23) Nebraska 24
Nov. 22, Lincoln

With just minutes left in the game and trailing, it appeared that Nebraska had made the game-winning play. But Jerry Kill’s Gophers, without running back David Cobb no less, once again made an unexpected play. Briean Boddy-Calhoun capped an epic road comeback for Minnesota when he ripped the ball away from Nebraska on his own goal line with 1:19 left in the game. It was Minnesota’s first win in Nebraska since 1960.

 

4. Nebraska 37, Iowa 34 (OT)
Nov. 28, Iowa City

The Huskers had lost two straight and were trailing 24-7 late in the third quarter when Tommy Armstrong led one of the most improbable comebacks in school history. Armstrong led three touchdown drives over the final 20 minutes, capped off by the game-tying drive that ended with eight seconds left in the game and then threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Kenny Bell in overtime — his fourth of the game.

 

5. Indiana 31, (18) Missouri 27
Sept. 20, Columbia

The biggest non-conference win and biggest upset of the year — regardless of conference — came from Kevin Wilson’s bunch in Columbia, Mo. Tevin Coleman rushed for 132 yards, Nate Sudfeld was excellent and D’Angelo Roberts scored the game-winning touchdown with just 22 seconds left. The SEC East champs lost just twice in the regular season.

 

6. (3) Oregon 46, (7) Michigan St 27
Sept. 6, Eugene

Few gave the Spartans a chance to go to Autzen Stadium and win. But through three quarters, everyone in Eugene had respect for Michigan State. The Spartans gave the Ducks all they could take until a late tipped interception landed in the hands of All-American corner Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The Ducks surged over the final few minutes, making the game look more lopsided than it actually was.

 

7. (14) Wisconsin 34, (18) Minnesota 24
Nov. 29, Madison

It’s the most played rivalry in college football and never before was as much on the line when these two got together to end the season. The Gophers jumped out to a 17-3 second-quarter lead before the Badgers rattled off 24 unanswered points and eventually held on for the win and the Big Ten West crown. Melvin Gordon also broke Ron Dayne’s single-season B1G rushing record in the process.

 

8. (13) LSU 28, (14) Wisconsin 24
Aug. 30, Houston

The Badgers jumped out to a huge lead behind a monster first half from Melvin Gordon. But after trailing 24-7 midway through the third quarter, LSU flipped a switch on defense and stuffed UW the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Tigers' offense made just enough plays to eke out a four-point win on a neutral field.

 

9. Rutgers 41, Maryland 38
Nov. 29, College Park

Down 35-10 as the first half was ending, Gary Nova began what would turn out to be the biggest comeback in Rutgers history. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Nova was leading Rutgers on a game-tying drive. With 6:14 left, the Knights kicked the eventual game-winning field goal, outscoring the Terps 31-3 over the final 32 minutes of play. Ralph Friedgen triumphantly returned to his old stomping grounds in dramatic fashion.

 

10. West Virginia 40, Maryland 37
Sept. 13, College Park

It wasn’t the prettiest football, but it sure was entertaining. Clint Trickett (511 yds) and C.J. Brown (402 yds of total offense) battled for 60 minutes until West Virginia kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the Terps. These two teams scored in every imaginable way but the Mountaineers were able to overcome four turnovers to win on the road. 

 

The Best of the Rest:

 

11. (8) Ohio St 31, (25) Minnesota 24

12. Virginia Tech 35, (8) Ohio St 21

13. Rutgers 41, Washington St 38

14. (10) Michigan St 27, (19) Nebraska 22

15. (6) Ohio St 42, Michigan 28

16. Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42

17. Maryland 23, Michigan 16

18. Penn St 26, UCF 24

19. (24) Nebraska 41, Miami 31

20. (20) Wisconsin 59, (16) Nebraska 24

21. Maryland 20, Penn St 19

22. Northwestern 20, (17) Wisconsin 14

23. (16) Wisconsin 26, Iowa 24

24. Minnesota 39, Purdue 38

25. Illinois 28, Minnesota 24

Teaser:
Big Ten's Top 10 Games of 2014
Post date: Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/secs-top-15-games-2014
Body:

The gap has certainly closed but the SEC is still college football's premier conference.

 

The No. 1 team in the nation, the toughest division in football, a glut of Heisman Trophy candidates and nationally relevant coaches made the SEC must-see TV this fall.

 

But it wasn’t just the Iron Bowl, Les Miles or the ACC-SEC round-robin that made the SEC great theatre this fall. A coaching change/search at one of the league’s most powerful programs, the rise of the Magnolia State into national prominence and the advent of a four-team College Football Playoff made the 2014 campaign a season no SEC fan will ever forget.

 

Here are the most memorable SEC games of the year:

 

1. (11) Ole Miss 23, (3) Alabama 17

For about seven minutes, Bo Wallace was downright brilliant and Alabama's special teams were not. Two Wallace touchdown passes and two 'Bama turnovers led to a historic and memorable victory over the Tide in "College GameDay’s" first-ever visit to The Grove.

 

2. (1) Alabama 55, (15) Auburn 44

While there was no SEC West or SEC title hanging in the balance, the intensity still delivered for these two hated rivals. Neither team played much defense in this record-setting Iron Bowl, as Alabama outscored Auburn 34-10 over the following 23 minutes after trailing by 12 in the third quarter. The win kept 'Bama in the playoff picture.

 

3. (5) Alabama 20, (16) LSU 13 (OT)

Always physical and always intense, the heavily-favored Crimson Tide needed a historic drive from Blake Sims to defeat the Tigers. Sims led 'Bama 55 yards over the final 50 seconds to tie the game before going on to win in overtime.

 

4. (3) Auburn 35, (4) Ole Miss 31

Literally and figuratively, the Rebels' home loss to Auburn might be one of the most painful in school or SEC history. No one on either side of the ledger will forget when Laquon Treadwell fumbled and broke his leg with 1:30 to go, as he was falling into the end zone for the game-winning score. The back-and-forth affair never featured a lead of more than seven points.

 

5. (24) LSU 10, (3) Ole Miss 7

It wasn’t always pretty but it was extremely memorable. The physical units beat each other up for 60 minutes before Ole Miss had a chance to win in the final moments. But a bizarre decision by Bo Wallace (and, to some extent, Hugh Freeze) in the final moments of the game began a tough final month for the Rebs.

 

6. (24) South Carolina 38, (6) Georgia 35

This SEC East rivalry has become of the most important and entertaining in the league and this year’s version didn’t disappoint. Todd Gurley and Dylan Thompson went back and forth all game while special teams and a goal-line stand played critical roles in the second half. 

 

7. Texas A&M 41, (3) Auburn 38

The thrilling road upset by the Aggies was highlighted by two of the most bizarre fumbles the SEC has ever seen. After a furious second-half rally, Auburn appeared to have the game won or at least tied at two different times in the final moments. But a tangled exchanged at the two-yard line and a bizarre center snap on the 28 cost Auburn the game. Texas A&M was a 23-point underdog and this win also helped christen Kyle Allen as the future in College Station.

 

8. (6) Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 28 (OT)

The Hogs appeared to be poised for their first SEC win under Bret Bielema until Kenny Hill snatched victory away from Arkansas. Trailing by two touchdowns in the final frame, Hill connected on two long touchdown throws and added the game-winner on the first play of overtime to score 21 unanswered points and give Texas A&M the win.

 

9. (17) Missouri 21, Arkansas 14

The Hogs played extremely well for three quarters before a road-grading, old-school touchdown drive gave Missouri the SEC East championship. The Tigers ran 12 plays for 85 yards to score the game-winner with just six minutes left in the game. A turnover forced by Markus Golden eventually sealed the win in what should develop into an underrated border rivalry.

 

10. Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT)

Kentucky fans will only remember what happened before the play and won’t ever forget what happened at the end. After the play clock appeared to hit zero, Jeff Driskel connected with Demarcus Robinson on 4th-and-7 in overtime to tie the game and keep Florida alive. Two overtimes later, Matt Jones scored the game-winning touchdown.

 

11. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)

The 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned hate was one of the best. Mark Richt appeared to have won a sixth straight game over Paul Johnson, taking the lead with just 18 seconds left. But somehow Tech managed to get into field goal range and tie the game as time expired before prevailing in overtime.

 

12. (5) Auburn 42, South Carolina 35

South Carolina came to Auburn as a heavy underdog but proved to be anything but an easy out. The two high-powered offenses traded scores for the better part of 60 minutes before Auburn’s defense finally got a few stops in the fourth quarter. The two teams combined for 1,086 yards of offense and three total punts.

 

13. Tennessee 45, South Carolina 42 (OT)

Joshua “Astro” Dobbs became a household name in the miraculous comeback win over the Gamecocks. The Vols trailed 42-28 with less than five minutes to play before Dobbs led a whirlwind comeback in Columbia. Dobbs set a school record with 467 total yards of offense and became the first Vol to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 in the same game.

 

14. (5) Alabama 25, (1) Mississippi St 20

It wasn’t as close as the score indicated but anytime two teams ranked in the top five get together, it’s cause for celebration. Alabama was clearly the better team but the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs acquitted themselves well, fighting back to lose by only five.

 

15. (19) Ole Miss 31, (4) Mississippi St 17

It wasn’t as dramatic or action-packed as some others but few games this year matched the intensity that the Egg Bowl produced. The Bulldogs led midway through the third quarter before Ole Miss went on a 24-7 run to end the game and knock MSU out of the playoffs.

 

The Best of the Rest:

 

16. Missouri 21, (13) South Carolina 20

17. (22) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40

18. (13) LSU 28, (14) Wisconsin 24

19. LSU 30, Florida 27

20. (12) Georgia 35, Tennessee 32

21. South Carolina 23, Florida 20 (OT)

22. (5) Auburn 20, (20) Kansas St 14

23. (7) Alabama 14, Arkansas 13
24. (12) Georgia 45, (16) Clemson 21

25. Mississippi St 34, (8) LSU 29

26. Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38

27. (3) Florida St 24, Florida 19

28. (3) Mississippi St 38, (2) Auburn 23

29. Florida 10, Tennessee 9

30. (20) Missouri 29, Tennessee 21

Teaser:
SEC's Top 25 Games of 2014
Post date: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/accs-top-10-best-games-2014
Body:

For the first time in years, the ACC entered the season as a must-see conference.

 

The defending national champions and controversial reigning Heisman Trophy winner made ACC Media Days more of a circus than even the four-day SEC extravaganza in Birmingham.

 

But it wasn’t just the Jameis Winston spectacle that created intrigue in the ACC this preseason. John Swofford welcomed Louisville and Notre Dame to his ranks, boosting the number of nationally watched games instantly. New faces under center created unknowns and subsequent excitement across the entire conference. The usually impossible to predict Coastal Division was even more difficult to forecast than normal.

 

And to top it all off, college football welcomed a four-team Playoff to the mix. It’s safe to say no one will ever forget the 2014 season. Here were the most memorable ACC games of the year:

 

1. (2) Florida St 31, (5) Notre Dame 27
Oct. 18, Tallahassee

It’s hard to make an entire nation root for the usually hated Fighting Irish but that is what the Seminoles were able to do in this battle of top-five teams. An evenly matched bout most of the way, Winston led the Noles on a game-winning touchdown drive with just under eight minutes to go. Not to be outdone, Everett Golson moved the Irish to the FSU two-yard line before the infamous pick penalty erased the game-winning score and pushed ND back to the 18-yard line on fourth down. Winston was star of the show again, going 15-of-16 in the second half.

 

2. (16) Georgia Tech 30, (9) Georgia 24 (OT)
Nov. 29, Athens

It didn’t really mean much in the standings or rankings but the 109th edition of Clean, Old Fashioned Hate won’t ever be forgotten by either side. Paul Johnson and Tech entered the game on a five-game losing streak against UGA but pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in series history. Georgia scored with 18 seconds to go to seemingly win a sixth straight over the in-state rival but somehow Justin Thomas ran his team into field goal range on the ensuing possession. Harrison Butker drilled a 53-yarder to tie the game as time expired and, after a missed extra point nonetheless, the Jackets' defense kept the Dawgs out of the end zone for the win.

 

3. (4) Florida St 37, (11) Georgia Tech 35
Dec. 6, Charlotte

A year’s worth of close calls and near misses for the defending champions had most predicting the upset in the ACC Championship Game. After allowing boatloads of yards in the first half, it looked like Tech would be up to the task. However, the Seminoles' defense tightened in the second half and Winston, like always, led multiple scoring drives in the final 20 minutes of play. It was just enough for Florida State to win its third consecutive ACC title.

 

4. (1) Florida St 23, (22) Clemson 17 (OT)
Sept. 20, Tallahassee

The day before the big Atlantic Division showdown, Jimbo Fisher suspended his star quarterback for the entire game. Clemson, buoyed by a confident defense and the emergence of true freshman DeShaun Watson at quarterback, played mostly excellent football for 58 minutes. But a gut-wrenching fumble deep in Florida State territory with two minutes to play and a questionable fourth-down decision in overtime left the Tigers dumbstruck when the final whistle blew. Florida State had done it again, this time with Sean Maguire under center.

 

5. (3) Florida State 30, Miami 26
Nov. 15, Coral Gables

Once again, FSU started out slowly, trailing both 16-0 and 23-7 in the second quarter. But Winston and tailback Dalvin Cook flipped a switch in the second half, as Florida State went on a 23-3 run, scoring on four drives in the second half. Cook sprinted 26 yards with 3:05 left in the game to give the Noles their 26th straight win and fifth in a row over the archrival Hurricanes. Winston and Brad Kaaya both topped 300 yards passing.

 

6. (2) Florida St 42, (25) Louisville 31
Oct. 30, Louisville

Stop me when you’ve heard this before? Florida State stumbled out of the gate in primetime on a Thursday night in Papa John’s Stadium. Michael Dyer led a surging Cardinals squad to a 21-0 second-quarter lead before a fortunate bounce helped FSU get into the end zone with just 33 seconds left before halftime. The second half was the James Winston and Dalvin Cook show, as the duo combined for five touchdowns — all of which came from at least 35 yards away. The Noles finished on a 42-10 run over the final 31 minutes of play.

 

7. Virginia Tech 35, (8) Ohio St 21
Sept. 6, Columbus

This was one of the biggest upsets of the year regardless of conference. The Hokies rattled and tormented J.T. Barrett all night in a shocking two-touchdown win in Columbus. The victory didn’t help Tech go on to bigger or better things, as the Hokies' season topped out with the win over the Buckeyes and the loss didn’t hurt OSU enough to knock them out of the College Football Playoff. But it was a memorable night for college football and VT quarterback Michael Brewer.

 

8. (24) Duke 51, Pitt 48 (2OT)
Nov. 1, Pittsburgh

These two teams combined for 62 first downs, over 1,000 yards of offense and not one turnover in this double-overtime thriller. James Conner did everything he could for Pitt, rushing for 263 yards and three scores but an appropriately named kicker, Chris Blewitt, missed a 26-yard field goal as time expired in regulation. Duke’s backup quarterback then led the Blue Devils into the end zone in the second overtime for the win.

 

9. Boston College 37, (9) USC 31
Sept. 13, Chestnutt Hill

Steve Addazio’s excellent tenure at BC was highlighted by this top-10 victory. Against USC, the Eagles produced one of the most remarkable statistics of the year. Boston College rushed for 452 yards against one of the better Pac-12 defenses. Tyler Murphy counted for 191 of those yards, 66 coming on BC’s final TD of the game with 3:30 left in the game, and the defense did just enough to hold USC at bay.

 

10. (22) Louisville 44, Kentucky 40
Nov. 29, Louisville

The newest ACC-SEC rivalry has had a long history of animosity, but few games in the Bluegrass State series have been as entertaining. The two teams combined for 33 fourth-quarter points and produced four lead changes in the final nine minutes of action. The Cardinals' Kyle Bollin came out of nowhere to produce 381 yards passing and Boom Williams rushed for 126 and two scores for Kentucky.

 

The Best of the Rest:

 

11. (24) Louisville 31, N. Dame 28

12. (3) Florida St 24, Florida 19

13. Clemson 23, Louisville 17

14. (21) Clemson 35, S. Carolina 17

15. (1) Florida St 37, Oklahoma St 31

16. Georgia Tech 27, Virginia Tech 24

17. Georgia Tech 42, Ga. Southern 38

18. (6) N. Dame 50, N. Carolina 43

19. East Carolina 28, (17) Virginia Tech 21

20. (1) Florida St 56, NC State 41

21. N. Carolina 48, Georgia Tech 43

22. (3) Florida St 20, B. College 17

23. N. Carolina 31, San Diego St 27

24. Colorado St 24, B. College 21

25. Virginia 23, (21) Louisville 21

 

BONUS: Worst Game of the Year


Wake Forest 6, Virginia Tech 3 (2OT)

Nov. 22, Winston-Salem
Is there any doubt this wasn't the worst game of the entire 2014 football season, regardless of conference? A 0-0 tie in regulation is as bad as it gets.

Teaser:
ACC's Top 10 Best Games of 2014
Post date: Monday, December 15, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/six-team-college-football-playoff-perfect-solution
Body:

Four isn’t enough and eight is way too much.

 

There is a perfect number of college football playoff teams and it falls right between the two. The NFL uses a six-team bracket for each conference (for now) to determine the most important sporting event in the world each year for a reason.

 

Because six is the perfect number. It solves every problem imaginable. Well, almost.

 

First, a six-team playoff gets all five Power 5 conference champions into the playoff — an issue most are complaining about already — if all five are deserving. Second, it gets roughly 10 percent of the Power 5 teams into the postseason. Third, it allows for a possibility that a Group of 5 champion could sneak into the sixth spot. Fourth, unlike an eight-team playoff, no three-loss teams will ever be in the postseason mix, maintaining a certain level of exclusivity for the prestigious national championship.

 

But how would a six-team playoff work? What would the rules and regulations be? And what would the bracket have looked like had it been in place this season (Hint: It would have been awesome).

 

First-round byes

One of the best aspects of a six-team playoff is a first-round bye for each of the top two teams. Like in the NFL where the best two teams in each conference get an extra week of rest, so too, will the top two teams in the nation. It rewards four quality teams while also giving a big edge to the two most deserving teams in the nation — who would have earned the right to rest. Additionally, it shortens the season by one game as compared to the eight-team bracket for those concerned about student-athletes playing too many times.

 

 
Use home sites

One of the biggest issues many have with the four-team playoff was the usage of bowl games as semifinals. Despite what Bill Hancock wants you to believe, it’s not ever been about protecting the sanctity of the bowl system. No, it’s cronyism at its finest. There are 36 other bowl games that provide 72 other teams a season-ending celebratory trip. The bowl system is just fine and doesn’t need any more additional revenue. Instead, let’s allow college football to showcase what makes college football so uniquely great: Electric atmospheres on picturesque campuses and stadiums. And asking teams to travel to three consecutive neutral-site games like an eight-team playoff would require is just stupid. In the six-team structure, both first (quarterfinals) and second-round games (semis) would be played at home sites with the top seeds hosting each game.

 

Rotate the final

Just like the Super Bowl, the national championship game should be rotated every year throughout every region of the country. This is the NATIONAL championship not the regional or southern championship. I love New Orleans and Tempe as much as the next fan, but Indianapolis, Detroit and New York have proven that title games can be held successfully in the Midwest and Northeast as well. Like the Super Bowl, the majority of the games would be held in warm-weather locations but it doesn’t mean the sport should ignore the Pacific Northwest, Midwest or Northeast in the process. Lucas Oil Stadium and Indianapolis got rave reviews for the Super Bowl it hosted and would be an excellent fit for the college championship.

 

Shorten down time

One of the biggest issues that the four-team bracket hasn’t fixed is the inordinate amount of down time between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. It has improved on the amount of down time that the BCS provided by a little more than a week. But the first two games of the three-round playoff could be held annually on Christmas Eve, for example, beginning a new college football tradition. The second round would still be held on New Year’s Day and the final played a week later.

 

Re-seed the second round

Obviously, the initial seeding process would determine matchups between No. 3 and No. 6 as well as No. 4 and No. 5. Should the six-seed upset the three-seed, then the second round would be re-seeded. This guarantees that the No. 1 seed will always face the lowest-seeded team in the second round.

 

A six-team playoff doesn’t solve every issue for college football. No system can be perfect. It doesn’t matter how big or small the postseason is, someone will always be upset about missing out. The ninth-ranked team in the eight-team playoff would be just as upset as Baylor and TCU this year. The same could be said about the seventh-ranked team in a six-team format.

 

That being said, a six-team format would have been perfect for 2014.

 

No. 6 TCU at No. 3 Florida State

How awesome would this be in Doak Campbell Stadium? The unbeaten, undisputed defending champion with Jameis Winston under center against Gary Patterson’s reinvented offense? Yes, please. If the Seminoles win, they’d face No. 2 Oregon in Eugene while a  TCU victory would have sent the Horned Frogs to Tuscaloosa to play No. 1 Alabama.

 

No. 5 Baylor at No. 4 Ohio State

Does anybody in Waco want the opportunity to prove that the Bears are better than the Buckeyes? Baylor fans would travel to any city in the world to play Ohio State if it meant a chance to prove the Bears belonged in the playoff. But The Horseshoe is as good a location as college football has to offer for the postseason and I promise BU would relish the opportunity. Where the winner of this game goes would depend on who wins the other matchup.

 

 

Meanwhile, No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon get a first-round bye and sit at home for an extra week. Then Bryant-Denny Stadium and Autzen Stadium would host national semifinals before the final two teams meet on a neutral field.

 

All in favor?

Teaser:
A six-team college football playoff is the perfect solution
Post date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 09:00
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Marcus Mariota is going to win the 2014 Heisman Memorial Trophy.

 

And there couldn’t be a more deserving candidate.

 

The Oregon quarterback won the Pac-12 North, won the Pac-12 championship, earned a spot in the first College Football Playoff and set numerous records. He is the nation’s most efficient passer (186.33) and is the nation’s most productive player with 4,452 yards of total offense.

 

He is a consummate teammate on and off the field, so Saturday night is more a coronation than a highly anticipated announcement. The two numbers to keep an eye on are 2,853 total points and 86 percent of first-place votes.

 

Those are the two Heisman records set by O.J. Simpson in 1968 and Troy Smith in 2006, respectively. In fact, Simpson’s 1,750-point margin in ’68 is still a record and is a third benchmark Mariota could challenge this weekend.

 

Here are the other Heisman stats you need to know:

 

0: Oregon Heisman Trophy winners

Marcus Mariota isn’t just a remarkable player who could lead Oregon to its first national championship with record-setting numbers and astounding maturity. But he also will become Oregon’s first Heisman Trophy winner in school history. The Ducks have been close with LaMichael James (3rd, 2010), Dennis Dixon (7th, 2007) and Joey Harrington (4th, 2001) but have never won.

 

26: More INTs Ty Detmer threw than Marcus Mariota

BYU’s Ty Detmer posted huge numbers when winning the Heisman in 1990, throwing for 5,188 yards and 41 TDs. In fact, Detmer remains the only Heisman winner with 5,000 yards passing in a season. Strangely enough, he also has the most interceptions by a wide margin of any Heisman winner, throwing 28 interceptions in ’90. Jim Plunkett is No. 2 with 19 interceptions in 1979. Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions in 372 attempts this season. Danny Wuerffel’s 13 picks are the most by any winner since Detmer.

 

2003: Last time a WR finished in the top three

Amari Cooper is a Heisman finalist and will be the first wide receiver to finish in the top three since Larry Fitzgerald finished second in 2003 (Jason White). In fact, Cooper and Fitzgerald are the only two wide receivers to finish in the top three since Desmond Howard won the award in 1991. Howard is one of only two wideouts to ever win the award (Tim Brown, 1987). Since Howard won the Trophy only six WRs have even finished in the top five: Marqise Lee (4th) in 2012, Justin Blackmon (5th) in 2010, Michael Crabtree (5th) in 2008 and Randy Moss (4th) in 1997.

 

14: Winners who played QB in the last 15 years

Since the turn of the century, the Heisman Trophy has become a quarterback’s award. Since Ron Dayne won the coveted stiff-armed award in 1999, only one non-QB has won the trophy. Alabama’s Mark Ingram (2009) — largely considered the “weakest” of Heisman winners — is the only non-QB to win the award since Dayne. Mariota would become the 14th quarterback to win the award in the last 15 years.

 

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2: High schools to produce more than one Heisman winner

Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas, is the first and only public high school to produce two Heisman winners. Davey O’Brien won the award in 1938 for TCU and Tim Brown claimed the trophy for Notre Dame in ’87. Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., is the only other high school to have multiple winners. The private school gave college football John Huarte, who won the award in ’64 for Notre Dame, and Matt Leinart, who earned the honor in 2004 for USC. Fork Union Military prep academy also has produced multiple Heisman winners — Vinny Testaverde in 1986 for Miami and Eddie George in '95 for Ohio State — but it doesn't technically count since Testaverde only attended the postgrad program.

 

8: Heisman winners in the NFL Hall of Fame

There are eight former Heisman Trophy winners currently in the NFL Hall of Fame. Marcus Allen (1981), Earl Campbell (1977), Tony Dorsett (1976), Paul Hornung (1956), Barry Sanders (1988), O.J. Simpson (1968), Roger Staubach (1963), and Doak Walker (1948). Interestingly enough, only one Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has ever made it to the NFL Hall of Fame and that is Staubach. Additionally, only four Heisman winners have gone on to win Super Bowl MVP honors: Staubach, Allen, Jim Plunkett and Desmond Howard.

 

2-8: Notre Dame’s record when Paul Hornung won the Heisman

The only player to ever win the Heisman off of a losing team was Paul Hornung in 1956. He threw for 917 yards, three touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing 94 times for 420 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The Irish went 2-8 that year, beating only Indiana and North Carolina. Hornung beat out Tennessee’s Johnny Majors and Oklahoma’s dynamic duo of Tommy McDonald and Jerry Tubbs.

 

1961: Ernie Davis became the first African-American Heisman winner

It took 27 long years but the voters finally gave the award to an African-American in 1961 when Syracuse’s Ernie Davis topped Ohio State’s Bob Ferguson and Texas’ Jimmy Saxton for the prestigious award. Davis was deserving but his stat line indicates how far the sport has come since the early '60s. He rushed 150 times for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns.

 

0: Games Jay Berwanger played in the NFL

The first Heisman trophy winner in history was a senior running back from the University of Chicago by the name of Jay Berwanger. He was the first pick in the first-ever NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1936. Yet, they traded his rights to the Chicago Bears because they didn’t think they could meet his salary demands (allegedly $1,000 per game). After Olympic tryouts and unsuccessful contract negotiations with George Halas, Berwanger took a job with a Chicago rubber company and never played a down of professional football.

 

7: Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame winners

The Buckeyes, Trojans and Irish are tied for the most Heismans with seven total trophies each. Ohio State’s awards have been spread out over time, winning at least one in five different decades while USC’s come in bunches. Under Pete Carroll, the Trojans won three Heisman Trophies in four seasons from 2002-05 (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush — yes, I officially count the ’05 trophy even if the Trust does not). The Irish held the Heisman lead for many years, winning six trophies between 1943-64. Tim Brown’s 1987 season is the only Irish Heisman since John Huarte won it in ’64.

Teaser:
10 Amazing Heisman Trophy Stats You Need To Know for 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 11, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-season-awards-and-all-conference-team
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The Pac-12 entered the season with eyes on knocking off the SEC as the best league in college football.

 

While that may not happen until Oregon knocks off both Florida State and Alabama in the College Football Playoff, the Pac-12 has clearly separated itself as the best league outside of the SEC and has set itself up to be on par with the SEC if the Ducks can win two more games.

 

Star power at quarterback, a deep collection of head coaches and renewed financial support across the league makes the Pac-12 one of the best two conferences in the nation. 

 

As far as conference awards and all-conference teams, there were very few difficult decisions.

 

2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Teams:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

 

Pac-12 2014 Season Awards

 

Coach of the Year: Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

The Wildcats were picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 South by Athlon Sports, as well as the preseason media throng. In fact, three different teams got first place votes in the South and Arizona wasn’t one of them. The Wildcats won 10 games, including matchups at Oregon, at Utah and over Arizona State at home in the division clincher. As Pac-12 South champs, Rich Rodriguez is the obvious choice for Coach of the Year and should get plenty of votes nationally.

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

What more can be said about the star quarterback from Oregon? Marcus Mariota was simply brilliant in 2014, accounting for 53 total touchdowns and just two interceptions. His 4,452 yards of total offense topped the nation as well. He is the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy for a reason.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Scooby Wright III, LB, Arizona

What more can be said about the star linebacker from Arizona? Wright III is one of the most disruptive players in the nation in leading his team to the Pac-12 title game. He finished second in the nation in tackles (153), first in tackles for loss (27.0), third in sacks (14.0) and first in forced fumbles (6). The Cats linebacker has already won the Nagurski Award as the nation’s best defensive player.

 

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Newcomer of the Year: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah

According to 247Sports.com, Booker was the No. 103-ranked junior college prospect entering the college ranks in 2014. He was a three-star recruit who turned into a first-team performer in just one season in Salt Lake City. He led the Pac-12 with 266 attempts and finished second with 1,350 yards. He carried his team to victory over UCLA, Oregon State, USC and Stanford.

 

Freshman of the Year: Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona

The redshirt freshman quarterback led all freshmen nationally in passing yards (3,458) and finished behind only Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett in touchdown passes (27) and total offense (3,717) among freshmen. He also led his team to an unexpected berth in the Pac-12 title game. He is a perfect fit for RichRod’s offense and has a huge future ahead of him in Tucson.

 

Coordinator of the Year: Scott Frost, Oregon

Many believe Mark Helfrich or Mariota deserve the credit for Oregon’s massive offensive output this fall. While both will get their share of kudos (rightly so), Scott Frost has been recognized by the Frank Broyles Award as one of the five best coordinators in the country. The Ducks were No. 3 in total offense (546.2), No. 2 in yards per play (7.35) and No. 3 in scoring offense (46.3).

 

Breakout Player of the Year: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

He led the Pac-12 in rushing touchdowns (16) and was fourth in the league in rushing (1,299). What made Freeman so important to Oregon, however, was his emergence following the loss to Arizona. All six 100-yard games came after the loss as did 11 of his 16 rushing touchdowns. His emergence allowed Mark Helfrich to move Byron Marshall to receiver and it helped protect Mariota in the second half of the season. The elite recruit from California totally lived up to his prep hype.

 

Pac-12 2014 All-Conference Team
First-Team OffenseSecond-Team Offense
QB Marcus Mariota
Oregon 
QB Brett Hundley
UCLA 
RB Javorius Allen
USC 
RB Devontae Booker
Utah 
RB Royce Freeman
Oregon 
RB Paul Perkins
UCLA 
WR Nelson Agholor
USC 
WR Nelson Spruce
Colorado 
WR Jaelen Strong
Arizona State 
WR Vince Mayle
Washington State 
TE Pharaoh Brown
Oregon 
TE Austin Hooper
Stanford 
OL Hroniss Grasu
Oregon 
OL Jake Brendel
UCLA 
OL Andrus Peat
Stanford 
OL Kyle Murphy
Stanford 
OL Jake Fisher
Oregon 
OL Nick Kelly
Arizona State 
OL Max Tuerk
USC 
OL Steven Gurrola
Arizona 
OL Jamil Douglas
Arizona State 
OL Jeremiah Poutasi
Utah 
AP D.J. Foster
Arizona State 
AP Adoree Jackson
USC 
  
Second-Team OffenseSecond-Team Defense
DL Leonard Williams
USC 
DL  Henry Anderson
Stanford 
DL Nate Orchard
Utah 
DL  DeForest Buckner
Oregon 
DL Danny Shelton
Washington 
DL  Owamagbe Odigihizuwa
UCLA 
DL/LB  Hau'oli Kikaha
Washington 
DL  Dylan Wynn
Oregon State 
LB  Shaq Thompson
Washington 
LB  A.J. Tarpley
Stanford 
LB  Eric Kendricks
UCLA 
LB  Myles Jack
UCLA 
LB  Scooby Wright III
Arizona 
LB  Jared Norris
Utah 
CB  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
Oregon 
CB  Steven Nelson
Oregon State 
CB  Ishmael Adams
UCLA 
CB  Troy Hill
Oregon 
S  Su'a Cravens
USC 
S  Damarious Randall
Arizona State 
S Jordan Richards
Stanford 
S  Erick Dargan
Oregon 
  
First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team Specialists
K  Andy Phillips
Utah 
K  Zane Gonzalez
Arizona State 
P Tom Hackett
Utah 
P  Drew Riggleman
Arizona 
KR  Ty Montgomery
Stanford 
KR  Trevor Davis
Cal 
PR  Kaelin Clay
Oregon 
PR  Nelson Agholor
USC 

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 11:00
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Certainly, Big 12 fans feel jilted by the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee.

 

Both TCU and Baylor were worthy candidates for the national championship tournament. But being left out of the bracket and the subsequent finger pointing has taken away from what was a remarkable season in the Big 12.

 

The 2014 season was one filled with remarkable comebacks, record-setting performances, historic storylines and a lot of purple.

 

2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Teams:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big 12 2014 Season Awards

 

Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU

In just three short seasons, Patterson took his program from the Mountain West to the top of the Big 12 ladder. After losing close game after close game and finishing 4-8 a year ago with no quarterback play, Patterson reinvented himself on offense by hiring two new coordinators. With a wide receiver playing quarterback and his best defensive player lost for the year in the summer months, all Patterson did was win a share of the Big 12 title. The Frogs were picked sixth in the Big 12.

 

Offensive Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

What else can be said about Boykin’s remarkable season? He led the Big 12 with 3,714 yards passing, 30 passing touchdowns and was top 10 nationally in both categories. He also led the Big 12 and finished third nationally in total offense per game at 363.0 yards per game. Of the 11 players with at least 30 touchdown passes, Boykin was one of five with fewer than 10 interceptions. For good measure, he was 10th in the Big 12 in rushing and sixth in rushing touchdowns. This was a no-brainer.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

Brown was downright unstoppable this season for what turned out to be a bowl team in Austin. He anchored a unit that led the league in total defense and passing defense. The massive nose guard is a likely first-team All-American and finished his fine season with 62 total tackles, 12.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks to go with two forced fumbles. He was the most dominant defensive player in the league this year.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Tyreek Hill, AP, Oklahoma State

Hill was the No. 3-rated junior college prospect in the nation according to 247Sports and proved he was worth the lofty expectations. He finished second in the Big 12 with 150.9 all-purpose yards per game and made the biggest play of the Pokes season by tying The Bedlam Series with less than a minute away with his unforgettable punt return. Hill finished with 534 yards rushing on 102 attempts, 281 yards receiving on 31 catches and scored on three different returns (2 kick, 1 punt).

 

Freshman of the Year: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

The burly true freshman carried his way into the NCAA record books this fall. Perine led the Big 12 with 240 carries, 1,579 yards and 21 touchdowns. He posted three 200-yard games and set the NCAA single-game rushing record with 427 against Kansas. He was never the unquestioned starter but was asked to carry the load when Oklahoma dealt with injuries. The Texas native rose to the occasion and finished eighth nationally in rushing and was one of seven players to rush for at least 20 TDs.

 

Coordinator of the Year: Doug Meacham, TCU

He lost out on the Frank Broyles Award given to the nation’s top coordinator (Ohio State’s Tom Herman) but that shouldn’t diminish the work Meacham did in Fort Worth. The Broyles finalist, along with co-coordinator Sonny Cumbie, took an offense that ranked 106th in total offense (344.8) and 88th in scoring offense (25.1 ppg) and turned it into one of the most prolific units in the nation. TCU averaged 542.2 yards and 46.8 points per game, ranking fourth and second nationally, respectively.

 

Breakout Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU

Boykin pretty much deserves every award possible. He’s the offensive player of the year, he’s the most improved player of the year and is clearly the breakout player of the year. Entering the summer, Boykin was a long shot to start at quarterback and was more likely to be a first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver than Heisman Trophy signal-caller. It was a remarkable year for the TCU QB.

 

Big 12 2014 All-Conference Team
First-Team OffenseSecond-Team Offense
QB Trevone Boykin
TCU 
QB Bryce Petty
Baylor 
RB Samaje Perine
Oklahoma 
RB DeAndre Washington
Texas Tech 
RB Shock Linwood
Baylor 
RB Aaron Green
TCU 
WR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 

WR Sterling Shepard

Oklahoma 

WR Kevin White
West Virginia 
WR Corey Coleman
Baylor 
TE E.J. Bibbs
Iowa State 
TE Jimmay Mudine
Kansas 
C B.J. Finney
Kansas State
C Joey Hunt
TCU 
OL Spencer Drango
Baylor 
OL Cody Whitehair
Kansas State 
OL Daryl Williams
Oklahoma 
OL Quinton Spain
West Virginia 
OL Le'Raven Clark
Texas Tech 
OL Tayo Fabuluje
TCU 
OL Mike Glowinski
West Virginia 
OL Tyrus Thompson
Oklahoma 
AP Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 
AP Aaron Wimberly
Iowa State 
  
First-Team DefenseSecond-Team Defense
DL Malcom Brown
Texas 
DL Andrew Billings
Baylor 
DL Shawn Oakman
Baylor 
DL Ryan Mueller
Kansas State 
DL Chucky Hunter
TCU 
DL Cedric Reed
Texas 
DL Emmanuel Ogbah
Oklahoma State 
DL Jordan Phillips
Oklahoma
LB Paul Dawson
TCU 
LB Eric Striker
Oklahoma 
LB Ben Heeney
Kansas 
LB Bryce Hager
Baylor 
LB Pete Robertson
Texas Tech 
LB Jonathan Truman
Kansas State 
CB Zack Sanchez
Oklahoma 
CB Quandre Diggs
Texas 
CB Sam Carter
TCU 
CB Nigel Tribune
Iowa State 
S Chris Hackett
TCU 
S Karl Joseph
West Virginia 
S Orion Stewart
Baylor 
S Jordan Sterns
Oklahoma State 
  
First-Team SpecialistsSecond-Team Specialists
K Josh Lambert
West Virginia 
K Jaden Oberkrom
TCU 
P Trevor Pardula
Kansas 
P Spencer Roth
Baylor 
KR Alex Ross
Oklahoma 
KR Mario Alford
West Virginia 
PR Tyler Lockett
Kansas State 
PR Tyreek Hill
Oklahoma State 

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Season Awards and All-Conference Team
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-final-2014-heisman-trophy-voting
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Athlon Sports formed a Heisman Trophy committee that voted every week. Now that the season is over, who are they predicting wins the Heisman Trophy?

 

Each voter ranks their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Marcus Mariota6513----
2.Melvin Gordon46-93-1
3.Amari Cooper40-48--
4.Trevone Boykin22--272
5.Dak Prescott6---3-
6t.Scooby Wright5---13
6t.Tevin Coleman5---13
8t.J.T. Barrett3---11
8t.Cody Kessler3----3

Dropped out: None 

 

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The Top 3:

 
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Pac-12 title game wasn’t as much a must-win situation as it was a Heisman coronation. Mariota is the clear frontrunner for the 2014 Heisman Trophy and, frankly, it would be a huge upset if the Ducks didn’t win their first ever stiff-armed trophy. Mariota finished with 52 total touchdowns and just two interceptions and led the nation with 4,452 yards of total offense. Congrats to one of the good guys of college football.

 

Season Stats: 3,783 yds, 68.3%, 38 TDs, 2 INTs, 669 rush yds, 14 TDs

 

2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

The only hope “MelGor” had to win the Heisman was to carry his team to an improbable Big Ten championship over the much more talented Buckeyes. However, Gordon was totally stuffed by Ohio State, finishing with just 76 yards on 26 carries with no touchdowns. Gordon still has an outside shot at Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record, needing 292 in the bowl game to set the record. He needs 231 to pass Kevin Smith for second all-time.

 

Season Stats: 309 att., 2,336 yds, 26 TDs, 17 rec., 151 yds, 3 TDs

 

3. Amari Cooper, Alabama

Cooper didn’t make the big play in the SEC title game, but he did set an SEC record with 12 receptions in the championship game. He was a constant decoy that allowed others to make plenty of big plays and it gave Alabama the SEC title. Cooper also set a new single-season SEC record with 115 catches (Jordan Matthews) and is just 84 yards from breaking Josh Reed’s SEC single-season yards record (1,740).

 

Season Stats: 115 rec., 1,656 yds, 14 TDs 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Final 2014 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 - 09:00
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TCU and Baylor were deserving and they got left out of the College Football Playoff. That doesn’t mean the system is broken.

 

The season hadn’t even ended on Saturday evening before the ethos started clamoring for an eight-team playoff. Not one down of playoff football had been played — much less a bracket established — when social media exploded with screaming fans and media members alike opining for an eight-team playoff.

 

Just stop it.

 

Life isn’t fair and not everyone deserves a trophy.

 

The biggest concern when the four-team, bracket-style postseason format was initially announced 18 months ago was the devaluing of the regular season. Everyone was worried the playoff would ruin the excitement of the best regular season in sports.

 

After one of the most memorable and intense regular seasons in college football history, obviously nothing could have been further from the truth. Entering the final weekend of play, at least seven different teams still had a shot at landing in the national title playoff. Every region of the country was intensely focused on four championship games and one massive showdown in Waco, Texas. It was a perfectly dramatic ending to a perfectly dramatic season.

 

But you know what would devalue the regular season? Expanding the playoff to eight teams.

 

Getting into the College Football Playoff should be hard. It should be an extremely exclusive club with secret handshakes and passwords. Someone should feel slighted when the dust settles. After all, not everyone deserves a trophy.

 

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Had Alabama, Oregon or Florida State lost in their championship game or season-ending rivalry games, all three likely would have still made an eight-team playoff. Where’s the fun in that?

 

What about No. 7 Arizona?

 

The Wildcats were ahead of both Michigan State and Mississippi State before losing to Oregon and dropping to No. 10. The Spartans and Bulldogs are quality teams but neither won their respective division and both were on “bye” this weekend. Does Arizona deserve to be knocked out of the playoff because it won its division and had to play an extra game?

 

The same type of argument could be made for Georgia Tech, Missouri and Wisconsin as well. All three finished with the same record as the MSUs, but the Spartans and Bulldogs belong in an eight-team playoff because they weren't good enough to play in a championship game?

 

The committee’s final rankings say as much.

 

What about three rounds worth of neutral-site games? How stupid does that sound?

 

An easy solution to this problem is to play the first round of games at home sites. But does anyone have any faith in the powers that be making the correct decision instead of gifting playoff games (aka, money) to their buddies who run the bowls?

 

And, frankly, a better question to ask might be do we want our student athletes playing 17 football games in one season in the first place?

 

If college football wants to expand, it will happen. The money will be too big to turn down and the inclusive nature will make everyone happy.

 

I just don’t want college football turned into some middle school field day where everyone gets a ribbon for participating.

Teaser:
No, College Football Doesn't Need an 8-Team Playoff
Post date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 08:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-debate-did-committee-get-playoff-right
Body:

 

Hosts Braden Gall, David Fox and Mitch Light debate the merits of the Selection Committee. Did they get the right four teams? What hurt the Big 12 the most? Who will be crowned the national champion when the dust settles? The guys break it all down and much more on this special Playoff Committee edition of the Cover 2 Podcast.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
College Football Podcast Debate: Did the Committee get the Playoff right?
Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 11:59
Path: /college-football/playoff-committee-college-football-quit-whining-enjoy-it
Body:

Baylor is upset that it beat TCU head-to-head and won the Big 12 championship by any logical or rational definition and is sitting at home. TCU is upset because the Horned Frogs won a game 55-3 and dropped from third to sixth and finds itself out of the tournament.

 

Everyone is upset that Ohio State — a team with the worst loss, the fewest good wins and an injured Heisman caliber quarterback — is in the bracket at all.

 

Common sense is upset at Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12.

 

As much as I enjoy the role of contrarian, I can't really disagree with any of that. If I were a TCU fan, I'd be furious. If I was a Baylor fan, I'd be livid. There is some justified Texas-sized diaper rash in Waco and Fort Worth. Both teams were deserving.

 

But we expected this.

 

We knew the advent of a selection committee was going to create inherent doubt and endless debate. The top three were going to be obvious and a small number of teams, say two or three, were going to feel like they earned that fourth spot. It's the nature of the beast we now call the College Football Playoff.

 

But it's an extremely small price to pay for the end result: Two historic playoff showdowns in college football for the first time in history. The landmark four-team, three-game tournament is going to be extraordinary and I'm going to love every snap.

 

The likely Heisman Trophy winner is going to face the unbeaten defending national champs. The flashiest program in the country that everyone loves to watch versus the most controversial franchise that America loves to hate. Marcus Mariota v. Jameis Winston. Need I say more?

 

Oregon-Florida State in Pasadena would be a outstandingly juicy matchup if it was the BCS national championship game. But college football gets another epic 60 minutes in New Orleans.

 

The sixth-winningest program in college football history (Ohio St) will face the eighth-winningest program in college football history (Alabama) in a game that features six combined BCS title game appearances. The undisputed king of the Big Ten will square off against the czar of the Southeastern Conference in football's modern embodiment of the North-South rivalry. Urban Meyer will match wits with Nick Saban in what amounts to their third national semifinal against one another in search of their combined seventh national title ring.

 

You'd have to be a corpse not to get excited.

 

Could I make a case that TCU looked like the best challenger with a reinvented offense and playmaking defense? Of course. Could I make a case that Baylor was, in fact, the one true champion of the Big 12 and was clearly the most deserving team in the conversation? Yes sir. Could I make the case that Ohio State is the most talented of the three, playing the best football of the three and would be the toughest out of the three? You bet.

 

But why waste all that time? These two playoff games are the first of their kind and will be remembered throughout college football history. When people talk about the 2014 season, they will always include "the first playoff games in college football history." It's a lot to live up to.

 

I am thankful that these two matchups will be deserving of such folklore.

Teaser:
Quit Whining, Enjoy the College Football Playoff
Post date: Monday, December 8, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-oregon-ducks-will-win-college-football-playoff
Body:

Oregon is in. And it's going to be a tough out.

 

Mark Helfrich has led his program to the Pac-12 Championship, the inaugural College Football Playoff and likely the school's first Heisman Trophy. But his team has much left to accomplish as it begins a month-long preparation for what will be the first of two possible playoff games.

 

The Ducks are playing as well as any team in the nation, winners of eight straight games by an average of 26 points per game. Here is how Oregon will win the national championship:

 

5 Reasons Why Oregon Will Win the CFB Playoff

 

1. Marcus Mariota stays healthy

It's not about Mariota protecting the football, being an efficient passer, making plays with his legs, handling the defensive pressure or any other traditional concern coaches have about quarterbacks heading into big games. Because no one can stop Marcus Mariota. The only concern fans should have with the likely Heisman Trophy winner is an injury. It might be the only thing that can keep Mariota from producing at a high level. That and maybe the Heisman buffet circuit.

 

2. Spread the wealth on offense

How can Helfrich keep Mariota upright and healthy? By spreading the ball around on offense to a developing collection of electric offensive weapons. Mariota isn't the only reason the Ducks offense is surging into the playoffs, and his supporting cast has gone from a question mark to coordinator's nightmare. In the win over Arizona, Oregon featured nine different ball carriers and four different players caught at least five passes. Helfrich has a power workhorse (Royce Freeman), a speedy deep threat (Devon Allen), a steady possession guy (Darren Carrington) and dynamic all-purpose threats (Byron Marshall, Charles Nelson). When all of these pieces are clicking, the Ducks can rip off huge chunks of yards and protect their star quarterback in the process.

 

Listen to the College Football Playoff Committee podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

3. Waves of defensive linemen

The Ducks aren't a dominant defensive team by any means but have enough talent to cause plenty of problems in the playoff. Oregon is 21st nationally in both sacking the quarterback (34.0) and tackles for loss (85.0). Don Pellum's front seven tormented the Arizona offense in the Pac-12 championship game, holding RichRod's unit to just 25 yards at halftime. He had five different players register at least a portion of a sack (4.0 total) and finished with 7.0 tackles for loss as a team. This unit comes in waves as 14 different players have registered a sack this season. In order to win a national championship, this group has to play its best football of the season — or, at least, match what it accomplished against Arizona.

 

4. Avoid Alabama altogether

There is a chance Oregon won't have to face Alabama in order to win a national championship this season. The Tide is the most talented roster in the nation led by the best coach in the land and likely would be the Ducks toughest possible matchup. If Alabama loses in the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State, the Oregon Ducks immediately become the favorite in the national championship game — if, of course, they can get past the defending national champions in Pasadena. Speaking of the Rose Bowl...

 

5. Play games west of the Mississippi

Oregon enters the first college football tournament the No. 2 seed and picked as the top challenger to Alabama. Part of the reason the Ducks have the best chance to knock off No. 1 and win a championship is that Oregon will play both games west of the Mississippi. As far as logistics and travel are concerned, the current path to a title is about as fortunate a draw an Oregon head coach could ever ask for. A semifinal in Pasadena is the best possible location for the Ducks to land in any round and a national final in Arlington keeps the Pacific Northwest program on one half of the country throughout the tourney.

Teaser:
5 Reasons Why the Oregon Ducks Will Win the College Football Playoff
Post date: Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 15:10
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-championship-weekend-picks-2014
Body:

It's the final weekend of the regular season and I'm not going to lie to you. I don't feel good about it. 

 

I pick all of the championship games every season against the spread and will do the same again. (But am only going to count it towards my record if I do well.)

 

Listed below is every championship game prediction and the big one in the Big 12 as well. Enjoy!

 

Last Week: 2-3

Year-to-Date: 50-51-1

 

Alabama (-14.5) vs. Missouri (Atlanta)

This is a bad matchup for the Tigers, who have struggled with downhill, power-rushing teams. Maty Mauk has also been inconsistent all year. Mizzou is familiar with the situation but doesn't have the horses to compete with the Tide. Prediction: Alabama -14

 

Oregon (-14) vs. Arizona (Santa Clara)

The Ducks are cruising but this is a huge number against a team that beat them just two months ago. These two teams are a combined 21-3 this year overall but just 9-15 against the spread. It likely means stay away from this mess. But if you must, take Marcus Mariota to exact some revenge and definitely take the over. Prediction: Oregon -14

 

Florida State (-4.5) vs. Georgia Tech (Charlotte)

If we've learned anything this year, it's never take the 'Noles against the spread. Florida State is 3-9 against the mark this season and is facing a brutal matchup on defense. Tech is 5-1 against the spread away from home and could cover again — even if they lose. Prediction: Georgia Tech +4.5

 

Wisconsin (-4) vs. Ohio State (Indianapolis)

Whoever stops the run more effectively is likely to win this game. Ohio State is a better overall team by a wide margin but the one-game situation and no J.T. Barrett makes the Badgers the favorite. Take the team with more talent and more to play for in Ohio State. Prediction: Ohio State +4

 

Kansas State (+8) at Baylor

Both teams have been solid against the spread this year but Kansas State has been better. Baylor is 6-4-1 while KSU is 8-3. Art Briles has been excellent against Bill Snyder (3-1) but has a banged-up quarterback in Bryce Petty. Both teams are still eyeing a title in the Big 12 so a close game is likely. Prediction: Kansas State +7.5

 

Fresno State (+22) at Boise State

This is a huge number and Boise will win easily at home. But by how much? In a title game setting, I'd err on the side of caution.

 

Northern Illinois (-6.5) vs. Bowling Green (Detroit)

The Huskies are the better team and BG has had QB issues. Take NIU to roll.

 

Louisiana Tech (+11) at Marshall

Rakeem Cato in his final game with a title on the line at home? Yes, please.

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Alabama (-14.5) vs Mizzou
Oregon (-14) vs Arizona
Iowa St (+34) at TCU
Florida St (-4.5) vs Georgia Tech
Wisconsin (-4) vs Ohio St
Kansas St (+8) at Baylor
Oklahoma St (+21) at Oklahoma
Fresno St (+22) at Boise St
N. Illinois (-6.5) vs Bowling Green
Louisiana Tech (+11) at Marshall
Last Week:10-89-97-119-9
YTD:108-105-4108-105-497-116-4103-110-4
Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Championship Weekend Picks 2014
Post date: Friday, December 5, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/podcast-debate-who-should-be-michigan-wolverines-new-head-coach
Body:

 

Brady Hoke is out as the Michigan head coach. 

 

Braden Gall, David Fox, Steven Lassan and Mitch Light debate the Michigan Wolverines head coaching vacancy in an Athlon Sports roundtable.

How good is the Michigan job? Where does it rank nationally? What are the strengths and weaknesses? Is this still an elite job?

 

How does Michigan compare to Nebraska? How will having an interim AD impact the search?

 

Who are the "Michigan Men" and are any of them worthy candidates? Who among them would be interested in the job? The guys debate Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles.

 

Who are the top Mid-Major (Group of 5) head coaches who are viable candidates? Who are the top coordinators: Pat Narduzzi or Tom Herman?

 

Where do Greg Schiano and Dan Mullen fit into the equation?

 

And finally, our hosts make predictions for the job. Each panelist makes a bold prediction as to who will be the next head football coach at Michigan.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall @AthlonMitch @AthlonSteven or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Podcast Debate: Who should be the Michigan Wolverines new head coach?
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 12:55
Path: /college-football/cover-2-college-football-podcast-2014-championship-weekend-predictions
Body:

 

Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview Championship Weekend in college football. Do any of the underdogs have a chance to pull an upset? Can Florida State avoid disaster? Can Baylor jump TCU in the playoff standings? Will Oregon get revenge on Arizona? The guys pick every major game of the final weekend of the college football season.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Cover 2 College Football Podcast: 2014 Championship Weekend Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 11:12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-oregon-ducks-vs-arizona-wildcats-2014
Body:

After 14 weeks, 12 teams, nine conference games and three successful Hail Mary passes, the Pac-12 Championship Game is finally here.

 

And it couldn’t be any juicer. Not even in the mighty SEC.

 

Preseason favorite and Pac-12 goliath Oregon will do battle with upstart, freshman-led Arizona in the fourth annual conference championship game at brand-new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — the first such contest held on a neutral field.

 

But don’t let the adjectives augment the reality of the situation. Arizona, more specifically Rich Rodriguez, has won two straight against the Ducks and has almost as much of a shot at landing in the College Football Playoff as Oregon.

 

In no other league title game this weekend is there a chance that both teams could win their way into the four-team national playoff tournament. Wisconsin, Missouri and Georgia Tech have virtually zero chance of winning their way into the playoff. When the committee moved Arizona to seventh in the latest rankings, they gave fans in Tucson hope.

 

RichRod's track record against Mark Helfrich gives them hope as well. Over the last 16 games, Oregon is 14-0 against everyone but Arizona and 0-2 against the Wildcats. Better yet, the Ducks are 24-1 in their last 25 games against all other teams and 0-2 against 'Zona.

 

The stakes are as high as it gets. The rivalry is reaching a fevered pitch. On one side, a grizzled veteran coach with a freshman quarterback and star linebacker. On the other, the Heisman Trophy front-runner and a coach desperately trying to prove himself.

 

What more do you need besides Jesus, Girls and Marcus Mariota?

Championship Week Preview and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

 

Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats

 

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Oregon -14

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Mr. Brilliance vs. Scooby Hustle

There is no better individual matchup in college football this weekend than Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Marcus Mariota and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage. Mariota hasn’t been at full speed in Oregon's two previous defeats to Arizona, posting his lowest offensive output of the year (277 total yds) this fall and throwing two interceptions against the Wildcats last season. Wright, meanwhile, has been sensational in two meetings against the Heisman front-runner. The Wildcats' defensive leader has 13 total tackles, two for a loss, a forced fumble, an interception and a sack in two games against the Ducks.

 

Listen to the Championship Week predictions podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Oregon’s supporting cast on offense

The Ducks' offensive line wasn’t healthy for the previous meeting in early October but appears to be stabilizing. But it’s not just the improved O-line that should have RichRod and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel concerned. Since the Arizona game, Royce Freeman has established himself as a workhorse power back, Byron Marshall has been moved to receiver and is flourishing, and Dwayne Stanford has developed into a consistent threat on the outside. Not to mention Devon Allen’s ability to take the top off the defense, which has become a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Most will focus on the offensive line getting healthier and providing Mariota more time to operate — which is critical — but the rest of the offense around Mariota has become more dynamic since the last time these two met and 'Zona should be concerned.

 

3. Is the spotlight too big for the freshman?

In the first meeting, it was Mariota who was flustered and Anu Solomon who looked like the cagey vet in a hostile environment. Arizona’s freshman quarterback went on to produce 308.8 yards of total offense per game and 28 total touchdowns in just his first season on a college gridiron. But Solomon has dealt with nagging injuries in November and is at the end of a longer season than he's ever played — even in four state championship runs in high school. His completion percentage dipped late in the year before bouncing back against Arizona State. He should assume Oregon will attack him with waves of defenders from different formations in an effort to throw the rising star off kilter. He needs to handle the spotlight, manage the huddle and distribute the ball effectively to pull off the upset. He was capable in high school and it led to championships, so odds are he will be capable once again.

 

Final Analysis

 

These are two of the more dynamic offensive teams in the nation. Both teams like to the run the ball — try more than 5,000 yards combined this season — and both quarterbacks like to get out in space and make plays. The experience and talent edge lies heavily in Oregon’s favor, as does the motivational edge, making a third straight upset difficult to predict. However, the Wildcats have one significant advantage in Rich Rodriguez. He basically invented the Oregon offense and his 3-3-5 defense has proven to be effective against all types of spread offenses. Rodriguez claims “a couple of turnovers, great individual effort and a little bit of luck” are the reasons Arizona has topped Oregon the last two meetings. He will need plenty of all three to knock off the mighty Ducks on Friday night. 

 

Pac-12 Championship Predictions
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Oregon (-14) vs. ArizonaUO, 45-35UO, 38-23UO, 49-28UO, 38-31
Last Week:4-35-25-24-3
Season Record:64-2769-2270-2167-24

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-15-preview-and-predictions
Body:

There is one Power 5 league that is playing a semi-full slate of games this weekend and it’s the league embroiled with the most controversy.

 

TCU appears to be the better overall football team currently, as the College Football Playoff Committee clearly has stated. However, it shouldn’t sit well with anyone that Baylor could be THE Big 12 champion and own head-to-head bragging rights over TCU and still get left out in favor of the Frogs despite a virtually identical resume.

 

Both sides of the argument have a legitimate case but Baylor fans can wrap up this discussion with just a few words:

 

“Why do we even play the games then?”

 

With that in mind, bring on the final weekend.

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
ACC Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Week 15 Big 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas St (off) at Baylor
7:45 p.m., ESPN

The criticism the Big 12 is taking for lacking a “true champion” is complete nonsense. If the Baylor Bears win on Saturday, they will be the Big 12 champions. Technically, Kansas State is still alive as well but would need some serious help from Iowa State (don’t hold your breath). Either way, this is arguably the most critical game of the season for Baylor (after beating TCU, of course) and, like it or not, style points will matter. Sitting three spots behind the Frogs, Bryce Petty knows he needs to play extremely well just one week after sustaining a serious concussion. Jake Waters is a worthy adversary on the other side of the field, producing game-winning moments all season long. In four career meetings, Art Briles has defeated Bill Snyder three times, including a 52-24 victory the last time KSU came to Waco.

 

Listen to the Championship Week predictions podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Oklahoma St (+19.5) at Oklahoma
3:30 p.m., FS1

Never before has The Bedlam Series meant less to college football or the Big 12. In recent years, with league championships hanging in the balance, this rivalry had elevated itself to near-Red River Shootout status. But after eight combined losses and multiple injuries to multiple quarterbacks, this game has left little to be desired. Unless, your name is Samaje Perine or Mason Rudolph. The promising young freshmen offer some optimism for both teams, especially the Cowboys who need to pull off a massive road upset to get to a ninth consecutive bowl game. Mike Gundy is 1-8 against Bob Stoops in this rivalry and even a tremendous performance from Rudolph is unlikely to help the Pokes pull off the upset.

 

3. Iowa St (+34) at TCU
Noon, ABC

This game certainly matters on a national level as TCU can only hurt itself this weekend against the Cyclones. Anything other than a dominating performance could cause the Playoff Committee to reevaluate its current Big 12 pecking order. The Horned Frogs do not control their own destiny in the Big 12, despite what Bob Bowlsby will tell you, so Gary Patterson needs some help from Kansas State to win a league championship. Although, it may not need that help to get a shot at winning a national championship.

 

Off: Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU at BaylorBU, 38-35BU, 37-27BU, 35-31BU, 38-34
OSU (+19.5) at OUOU, 40-20OU, 30-17OU, 48-21OU, 38-17
ISU (+34) at TCUTCU, 51-13TCU, 41-10TCU, 48-7TCU, 45-13
Last Week:3-14-04-04-0
YTD:61-1160-1265-764-8

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 15 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-championship-weekend
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 15.

 

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

 

Two top 5 teams will lose

 

Something crazy always happens on Championship Weekend in college football. Four 10-win teams will face four top-six teams in championship games and Baylor hosts Kansas State. With six teams vying for four spots, the committee should be rooting hard for two top-five teams to lose this weekend. Never fear, it will happen. (My bet is Baylor and Ohio State).

 

There will be no controversy with the final four

 

Yup, the most outlandish of all predictions is that there will be no story when the Playoff Committee announces the final four. Should two of the top five lose (as I’m predicting), then the committee will have an easy job picking the top four. And as I predicted at the beginning of the season, the only story when the tournament is set is that there won’t be a story.

 

The Big 12 will have one true champion

 

No matter who wins the Baylor-Kansas State game, the Big 12 will have one true champion. Tiebreakers have been a part of determining championships in sports for a century and why should it change now? If Baylor wins, it will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. If Kansas State wins, TCU will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. Give the Big 12 a break, it’s not like some other leagues…

 

Listen to the Week 14 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

The American Athletic Conference will have three "true" champions

 

Unlike the Big 12, the AAC will have a tie atop their conference standings but won’t have a clear-cut tiebreaker. Memphis is in the clubhouse at 7-1 and UCF will likely beat ECU to finish 7-1 as well. Cincinnati needs to beat Houston at home to also join the mix at 7-1. Unfortunately, UCF didn’t play either Memphis or Cincy so there is no way to know who the true champion is in the AAC. A three-way tie without tiebreakers is the real joke, not the Big 12.
 

A Heisman preseason front-runner will win the Trophy at a school that’s never won the award

 

This is outrageous because a true preseason front-runner hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy in years (Ricky Williams? Ron Dayne?). When Marcus Mariota exacts his revenge upon Arizona this Friday, look for the Oregon Ducks to win their first-ever Heisman Trophy. Mariota was the preseason favorite and has gone essentially wire-to-wire as the best player in the game.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Championship Weekend
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 09:00

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