Articles By Steven Lassan

Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-must-see-matchups-2012-bowl-season
Body:

College football’s 2012-2013 bowl season kicks off in Albuquerque on Dec. 15 and ends on Jan. 7 with the BCS National Championship in Miami. With 35 games, there’s a lot of college football to watch over the next few weeks. And needless to say, it can get a little overwhelming to take in every game with the holidays and plenty of unannounced visits from the in-laws. To help maximize your bowl watching experience in December and January, Athlon has ranked all of the bowl games in order from the must-see to the must-miss. If you can only catch 10 bowl games this year, these are the ones you cannot afford to miss.

College Football's Top 10 Must-See Matchups of the 2012 Bowl Season

1. BCS National Title – Alabama (12-1) vs. Notre Dame (12-0) 
Date and Time: Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

With the history and tradition between Alabama and Notre Dame, this season's national title matchup is the most-anticipated championship game of the BCS era. With a Crimson Tide victory, the SEC will claim its seventh consecutive national championship, while Alabama is looking for its third BCS title in four seasons. This is the Fighting Irish’s first BCS bowl appearance under coach Brian Kelly and their first overall since 2007. Both teams rank among the best in defense, but the Crimson Tide have a slight edge on offense, largely due to the continued improvement of quarterback AJ McCarron. These two teams have met six times, with Notre Dame owning a 5-1 edge in the series. Interestingly enough, Alabama and the Fighting Irish are tied with eight Associated Press national titles apiece.
Why you should watch: It's the national championship! 

2. Fiesta Bowl – Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1) 
Date and Time: Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

If you like offense, the Fiesta Bowl should be the game to watch. The Ducks rank second nationally in scoring offense with an average of 50.8 points per game, while Kansas State is 10th nationally at 40.7 points per game. Oregon is loaded with playmakers, starting with redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner. Although Kansas State’s offense is averaging over 400 yards per game, its success is largely due to the play of one man — quarterback Collin Klein. The senior carried the offense with 3,380 total yards and 37 touchdowns. These two teams were scheduled to meet in the regular season, but the series was canceled in 2010. One key question surrounding this one: Will Chip Kelly still be Oregon’s coach when this game kicks off?
Why you should watch: Expect lots of points, and it's also the final game for Collin Klein at Kansas State and Kenjon Barner at Oregon. Last year's Fiesta Bowl was one of the best matchups of the bowl season and expect much of the same in 2013.

3. Chick-fil-A Bowl – LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2) 
Date and Time: Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

The Chick-fil-A Bowl is usually one of the best matchups outside of the BCS and 2012 certainly lives up to that hype. LSU was one defensive stop against Alabama from playing for the SEC Championship and won at least 10 games for the sixth time in eight seasons. Clemson is 1-1 against SEC opponents this year, beating Auburn in the season opener and losing to South Carolina on Nov. 24. The Tigers own one of college football’s top offenses, averaging 42.3 points a game. The chess match between Clemson’s offense against LSU’s defense should be one of the top O's vs. X's battles this bowl season.
Why you should watch: Who wouldn't want to watch a Tigers vs. Tigers bowl matchup? There's also the ACC vs. SEC storyline. And the chess match between Clemson's offense against LSU's defense. Needless to say, pickup a Chick-fil-A sandwich and waffle fries and grab a seat on the recliner. 

4. Rose Bowl – Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
Date and Time: Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

After watching Oregon and Wisconsin trade scores in last season’s Rose Bowl, points could be a premium in the 2013 edition. Stanford and Wisconsin will be a war in the trenches, as the Cardinal hope to hold the Badgers’ powerful rushing attack in check. Stanford’s offense improved in the second half of the season, largely due to the emergence of quarterback Kevin Hogan. Considering both teams are strong on defense and on the ground, a key play by Hogan or Wisconsin’s Curt Phillips could be just enough to win. The Badgers have lost back-to-back Rose Bowl games.
Why you should watch: How about the return of Barry Alvarez to the Wisconsin sideline for one more game? Also, both teams mirror each other in a lot of ways, so expect a physical game with plenty of good battles in the trenches.

5. Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2) 
Date and Time: Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox 
Even though the Cotton Bowl was pressured not to setup a Texas-Texas A&M matchup, it ended up with a solid game between two former Big 12 rivals. Oklahoma also just missed out on a BCS bowl, even though its only losses came against Kansas State (Fiesta Bowl) and Notre Dame (BCS title). The Sooners’ defense allowed at least 30 points in three out of their final four games, which has to be a concern against Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman claimed the 2012 Heisman Trophy and ranks second nationally with 383.3 yards of total offense per game. Oklahoma has won eight out of the last nine matchups against Texas A&M, including a 41-25 game last season.  
Why you should watch: The Cotton Bowl features teams from two of the top conferences in the nation, and it's also the first game for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel after winning the Heisman Trophy. And this matchup is on a Friday night, so if you are looking for a way to wind down after a long week at work, the Cotton Bowl is the perfect medicine.

6. Capital One Bowl – Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2) 
Date and Time: Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET
Channel: ABC

Considering how the conference championship games turned out for both teams, there certainly has to be a feeling of disappointment by having to play in Orlando. However, if Nebraska and Georgia are motivated, this should be one of the best bowl matchups outside of the BCS. After the Cornhuskers were shredded for 539 rushing yards against Wisconsin, the Bulldogs have to be licking their chops. Freshmen backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 1,983 yards and 24 touchdowns this year. This matchup also features an exciting quarterback duel between Georgia’s Aaron Murray (34 TDs) and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (31 TDs).
Why you should watch: Both of these teams fell just short of winning their conference title and have combined for a 21-5 overall mark. There's also two talented quarterbacks - Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez - along with three standout running backs - Rex Burkhead, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley.

7. Sugar Bowl – Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1) 
Date and Time: Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

Florida has one of the nation’s best resumes but also has some puzzling results, including close victories over Louisiana-Lafayette and Missouri. The Gators knocked off Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State, but a loss to Georgia prevented Will Muschamp’s team from having a chance to play for the national title. Louisville won the Big East title with a 20-17 win over Rutgers, which featured a gutsy performance from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, playing with a broken wrist and sprained ankle. With over a month to heal, Bridgewater should be close to 100 percent, which should give the Cardinals a chance to hang around in this matchup. There’s also an underlying coaching theme, as Louisville’s Charlie Strong worked at Florida from 2002-09.
Why you should watch: With a full month to heal, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should be close to 100 percent from his wrist and ankle injuries suffered against Connecticut. Bridgewater is a Florida native and he will give the Gators' secondary a challenge on Jan. 2. Considering the improvement from Florida from 2011 to 2012, this team could use the Sugar Bowl as a springboard to a national title run in 2013.

8. Holiday Bowl – Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)
Date and Time: Dec. 27 at 9:45 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

The Holiday Bowl seems to bring out the best in offense, so expect plenty of fireworks when Baylor and UCLA meet on Dec. 27. The Bears were one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 to finish 2012, winning four out of their final five games, with the only loss coming to Oklahoma. Baylor leads the nation in total offense, while quarterback Nick Florence kept the passing attack going without Robert Griffin, throwing for 4,121 yards and 31 scores. UCLA won the Pac-12 South in coach Jim Mora’s first season and fell just short of a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have a dynamic offense and the combination of quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin should test a shaky Baylor defense.
Why you should watch: Offense, offense and more offense. This could be the highest scoring game of the bowl season.  

9. Outback Bowl – South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) 
Date and Time: Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

Even though both teams had its sights set on a bigger bowl game this year, the Outback Bowl should be another entertaining Big Ten-SEC matchup. The time off from the season finale is good news for both teams, as South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw missed the game against Clemson with a foot injury and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is also banged up. Michigan could use the month off to find a fix for its rushing attack, which sputtered when Fitzgerald Toussaint was lost for the year with a leg injury. Expect Florida native Denard Robinson to play a quarterback/running back hybrid role for Michigan in his final game in a Wolverine uniform.
Why you should watch: A classic SEC vs. Big Ten bowl game. The Big Ten had a miserable regular season but an upset or two against the SEC in bowl games would make things a little better. Watching Denard Robinson against South Carolina's front four will be one of the more intriguing matchups of the postseason.

10. Orange Bowl – Florida State (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1) 
Date and Time: Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN

For the first time in the BCS era, a MAC team will make an appearance in a BCS bowl. The Huskies aren’t the strongest non-BCS squad to play in a big-time bowl, as they lost to Iowa in Week 1 and scored a one-point victory over a 2-9 Army team in Week 3. Also, coach Dave Doeren left for NC State after the MAC Championship victory over Kent State. However, Northern Illinois features one of the nation’s most exciting players in quarterback Jordan Lynch and an offense that averages 40.8 points per game. The Huskies’ high-powered attack will be tested by a Florida State defense that ranks second nationally in yards allowed and is giving up just 15.1 points per game. The Seminoles will be without coordinator Mark Stoops in this game, who left to take the head coaching job at Kentucky. If Florida State is motivated, the Seminoles should overwhelm Northern Illinois with its speed and depth. 
Why you should watch: Can Northern Illinois pull off the upset? After hearing a month of talk about how they don't belong, expect the Huskies to have plenty of motivation on Jan. 1.

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 25 Freshmen from 2012
Ranking College Football's Bowl Games 1-35 from Must-See to Must-Miss

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Must-See Matchups of the 2012 Bowl Season</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-freshmen-2012
Body:

With the 2012 college football regular season in the books, it’s time to take a look at the year in review. Several freshmen made an impact in the national and conference title races, including Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman wasn’t the only quarterback making a splash in their first season, as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley each averaged over 250 yards of total offense. Outside of the quarterbacks, TCU defensive end Devonte Fields and Georgia running back Todd Gurley were other impact freshmen.

College Football's Top 25 Freshmen from 2012

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Manziel’s freshmen campaign will likely enter the record books as one of the best of the BCS era. The Texas native set a SEC record with 4,600 yards of total offense, while scoring 43 overall scores. Manziel claimed the 2012 Heisman Trophy and led Texas A&M to a 10-2 record in its first season of SEC play. With another offseason to work under coach Kevin Sumlin and coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, Johnny Football will be even more dangerous for opposing defenses to stop in 2013.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Despite having to replace quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, the Ducks’ offense never missed a beat. The emergence of Mariota kept Oregon ranked among the nation’s best offenses, averaging 550.1 yards and 50.8 points per game. Mariota threw for 2,511 yards and 30 touchdowns, while recording 690 yards and four scores on the ground. The Hawaii native completed 69.9 percent of his throws and led the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Even if coach Chip Kelly departs to the NFL, Mariota will be one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman in 2013.

3. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Although Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota should earn any freshman first or second-team All-America honors, Hundley’s 2012 season should not be overlooked. He was a key reason for UCLA’s improvement in the win column, as the redshirt freshman proved to be a perfect fit for coordinator Noel Mazzone’s spread offense. Hundley threw for 3,411 yards and 26 scores and recorded 365 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Hundley nearly led UCLA to a Pac-12 title, but helped the Bruins score key victories against Nebraska, USC and a 66-10 blowout win over Arizona.

4. Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
Fields was an absolute monster for the Horned Frogs this year, recording 49 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss and nine sacks. The true freshman also forced two fumbles and broke up three passes. Fields was named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year and was arguably one of the conference’s best defenders. With another year to work with coach Gary Patterson and in the weight room, Fields should be a lock for All-America honors in 2013.

5. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Gurley and fellow freshman Keith Marshall combined to form one of the nation’s best one-two punches at running back. Gurley was the team’s workhorse, leading the way with 1,260 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 113 yards. Gurley had six 100-yard performances in SEC play and rushed for 122 yards and two scores against Alabama in the conference title game. Georgia’s offensive line returns intact next season, which should allow Gurley to push his totals even higher in 2013.  

6. Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregon State
Lost in the huge seasons from quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota was a solid group of impact freshmen in trenches. Seumalo anchored a much-improved Oregon State offensive line this season, starting all 12 games at center and earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors. The Beavers’ line allowed only 1.9 sacks a game, while paving the way for the rushing attack to score 23 touchdowns this season.  

7. John Theus, RT, Georgia
With the departure of Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn, Georgia’s offensive line was a question mark coming into this season. However, the line seemed to jell as the year progressed, largely due to Theus’ steady play on the right side. He started all 13 games and was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. 

8. Leonard Williams, DT, USC
USC’s defensive line was arguably the team’s biggest question mark heading into 2012. However, thanks to the emergence of Williams and junior college recruit Morgan Breslin, those concerns were quickly erased. Williams recorded 50 stops, 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks and earned Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year honors.   

9. Shaq Thompson, S, Washington
Thanks to the arrival of coordinator Justin Wilcox and Thompson’s performance, the Huskies had one of the nation's most-improved defenses. The true freshman recorded 66 stops, two sacks and three interceptions this season. Thompson earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors.

10. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
No Trent Richardson? No problem for Alabama. Despite losing a first-round pick at running back, the Crimson Tide averaged 224.6 rushing yards per game, which ranked second in the SEC. Eddie Lacy shouldered the bulk of the workload, but Yeldon finished with 1,000 yards and 11 scores on 154 attempts. The true freshman also caught 10 balls for 131 yards and one touchdown. Yeldon’s best performance came in the SEC Championship, gashing Georgia for 153 yards on 25 attempts.

11. Everett Golson, QB, Notre Dame
Golson didn’t post flashy numbers like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota but had a solid all-around season. The redshirt freshman finished with 2,135 passing yards and 11 touchdowns and added 305 rushing yards and five scores. Golson’s play picked up as the season progressed and is one win away from leading Notre Dame to a national championship. 

12. Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
With Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks expiring their eligibility at the end of 2011, Alabama’s receiving corps needed a big year from its incoming freshmen. In addition to becoming the go-to target for quarterback AJ McCarron, Cooper emerged as one of the SEC’s top receivers. The true freshman caught 53 passes for 895 yards and nine scores. Cooper failed to record a catch against LSU but produced three 100-yard efforts over the final four games.

13. Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State
Despite a ban on postseason play, the Nittany Lions didn’t have a problem with motivation. Penn State finished 8-4 and knocked off Big Ten champ Wisconsin 24-21 in the regular season finale. Defense is usually a strength in Happy Valley and 2012 was no different under first-year coach Bill O'Brien. Barnes recorded 26 tackles, six sacks, 10 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. With Jordan Hill and Sean Stanley departing, Penn State needs Barnes to have an even better season in 2013. 

14. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
Johnson was expected to make an immediate impact with the Hurricanes and the Miami native didn’t disappoint. He opened the year with 135 yards and two touchdowns on seven attempts against Boston College and finished the year with three 100-yard efforts in his final four games. Johnson recorded 2,060 all-purpose yards in 2012 and was picked as the ACC’s rookie of the year.  

15. Tyler Johnstone, LT, Oregon
Johnstone was a key cog in Oregon’s offensive line, starting all 13 games and helping the Ducks lead the Pac-12 in rushing, total and scoring offense.

16. Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With a handful of quarterback injuries, Maryland never had a chance to establish any consistency in the passing game. When you consider four quarterbacks saw snaps in regular season action, Diggs’ numbers become even more impressive. The true freshman led the team in receptions (54), receiving yards (848) and touchdown catches (6). He was also a weapon on special teams, averaging 28.5 yards per kickoff return and taking two back for scores. Assuming Maryland finds some stability under center next year, Diggs will easily surpass his all-purpose yardage total from 2012 (1,896).  

17. KeiVarae Russell, CB, Notre Dame
Not many true freshmen are thrown into a starting role at cornerback, but that’s exactly what was asked of Russell this season. The Washington native started all 12 games for the Fighting Irish, recording 50 tackles and two picks. Russell had plenty of help with one of the nation’s best defensive lines and linebacking corps putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. However, Russell held up just fine under the pressure and should be a standout player for Notre Dame next season.

18. Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
Dixon set a FBS freshman record with 27 rushing scores, while adding 1,194 yards on 200 carries. He also earned WAC Freshman of the Year honors and was a first-team all-conference selection. 

19. Denzel Nkemdiche, LB, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche’s emergence played a huge role in the improvement of Ole Miss’ defense. The Rebels ranked last in the SEC in total defense last season and improved to seventh in the conference in 2012. Nkemdiche was active around the line of scrimmage all year, recording 78 tackles, three sacks and three interceptions.

20. Jalen Mills, DB, LSU
Without Morris Claiborne or Tyrann Mathieu patrolling in the secondary, the Tigers needed a big season from Mills and fellow freshman Jalen Collins. Mills started all 13 games at cornerback, recording 52 stops and two interceptions. He should be in the mix for All-SEC honors next year.

21. Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
With Jalen Saunders transferring from Fresno State in spring practice, the Bulldogs needed a new No. 1 receiver to emerge for quarterback Derek Carr. Adams became the go-to guy, nabbing 89 receptions for 1,168 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

22. Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
West Virginia ranked as one of the worst defenses in the nation this year, but Joseph’s play shouldn’t be overlooked. Joseph led the team with 95 tackles and recorded two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

23. Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Evans emerged as the No. 1 target for quarterback Johnny Manziel, catching 75 passes for 1,022 yards and five scores. 

24. Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Boykin was forced into action after starter Casey Pachall was suspended for the year. The redshirt freshman finished with 1,853 passing yards and 15 scores, while adding 380 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Although Boykin’s numbers weren’t huge, his steady play was crucial to TCU’s 7-5 finish in its first season of Big 12 play. 

25. Jake Brendel, C, UCLA
After struggling to find consistency on the offensive line over the last few seasons, UCLA found something to build on for 2013. Brendel anchored the Bruins’ line this year, starting all 13 games at center. UCLA allowed 3.5 sacks a game, but the offensive line helped to clear the way for the rushing attack to average 202.9 yards per contest.

Honorable Mention:

Jack Allen, C, Michigan State
Austin Blythe, OG, Iowa
Evan Boehm, OG, Missouri
Keith Brown, LB, Louisville
Kyle Carter, TE, Penn State
Le’Raven Clark, OL, Texas Tech
Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
D.J. Foster, RB, Arizona State
Landon Foster, P, Kentucky
Dante Fowler, DL, Florida
Jaxon Hood, DT, Arizona State
Jabari Hunt-Days, LB, Georgia Tech
D.J. Hunter, LB, Marshall
Keith Marshall, RB Georgia
Ross Martin, K, Duke
Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State
Ethan Perry, P, TCU
Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin
Trevon Stewart, FS, Houston
Nick VanHoose, CB, Northwestern
Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
Jaime Wilson, WR, Western Michigan


Related College Football Content

What if the Heisman Trophy was awarded after the national title?
Heisman Firsts and Milestones

College Football's Best Heisman Campaigns

College Football's Biggest Surprises from 2012

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Freshmen from 2012</p>
Post date: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/8-coaches-replace-tommy-tuberville-texas-tech
Body:

Texas Tech is the latest college football program looking for a new coach, as Tommy Tuberville made a surprising decision to bolt to Cincinnati to replace Butch Jones. Tuberville was 20-17 in three seasons with the Red Raiders but never seemed to be a good fit in Lubbock. Texas Tech has experienced only one losing season since 1993, and Tuberville isn’t leaving the cupboard bare for the new coach.

8 Coaches to Replace Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech

Art Briles, head coach, Baylor – Briles just signed an extension with Baylor but that likely won’t stop Texas Tech from pursuing him in the next few days. He graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in 1979 and went to Rule High School, which is less than 200 miles outside of Lubbock. Briles was a successful high school head coach and jumped into the collegiate ranks in 2000 as a running backs coach with Texas Tech. After three years with the Red Raiders, Briles was selected as Houston’s head coach and recorded a 34-28 record in five seasons with the Cougars. He replaced Guy Morriss at Baylor in 2008 and is 32-30 in five years in Waco, including a 10-3 mark in 2011.
 

Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State – DeRuyter had a successful debut season at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record and a share of the Mountain West title. DeRuyter has a solid resume as an assistant, working as a defensive coordinator at Air Force and Texas A&M. Although he’s only been a head coach for one year, it’s very easy to be impressed with DeRuyter. Fresno State struggled to get over the hump with Pat Hill on the sidelines, but DeRuyter brought quick improvement after the Bulldogs went 4-9 last season. The 49-year-old coach played at Air Force from 1982-84 and coached with the Falcons from 1991-94 and 2007-09.


Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator, Texas – Harsin has been on a quick rise through the coaching ranks, starting his career at Eastern Oregon as an assistant in 2000. Harsin was hired at Boise State in 2001 and eventually worked his way into the offensive coordinator role in 2006. After five seasons with the Broncos, Harsin came to Austin and has brought improvement to the Longhorns’ attack, which ranked 37th nationally in total offense this year. Harsin has no head coaching experience but is ready for a shot to run his own program.  
 

Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M – Kingsbury is the perfect fit for Texas Tech. However, is he ready to lead this program? The San Antonio native played under Mike Leach at Texas Tech from 1998-2002 and ranks second in school history with 12,429 passing yards. After a short career in the NFL, Kingsbury landed on Houston’s coaching staff as an assistant under Kevin Sumlin. The Cougars were one of the nation’s best offenses under Kingsbury’s watch, and he joined Sumlin at Texas A&M in 2012. The Aggies finished third nationally in total and scoring defense this year, while finishing 10-2 in their first season of SEC play. Kingsbury is a rising star, but the lack of head coaching experience has to be a concern for Hocutt.
 

Todd Monken, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State – If Texas Tech wants to go with a young, offensive-minded coach, Monken is another guy to keep on the radar. The Illinois native has no head coaching experience but made stops as an assistant at Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech, LSU and Oklahoma State. Monken also spent two years in the NFL with the Jaguars and is believed to be on the radar for openings at Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech.
 

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson – Morris is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in college football. The Texas native has no collegiate head coaching experience but helped to engineer top-25 offenses at Tulsa and Clemson. The Tigers finished 2012 ranked in the top 10 in total and scoring offense, while averaging 319.6 passing yards per game. Morris has a wealth of experience in the high school ranks, working as a head coach from 1994-2009 at five different stops. Although Morris has no collegiate head coaching experience, his time in the Texas high school ranks and offensive background would be a perfect fit for the Red Raiders.
 

Jay Norvell, co-offensive coordinator, Oklahoma – Norvell has been an assistant coach since 1986, making stops at Iowa, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Nebraska, UCLA and in the NFL with the Colts and Raiders. Norvell has worked with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma since 2008 and is a co-offensive coordinator with Josh Heupel. Although the Wisconsin native has no head coaching experience, he’s a proven assistant with Big 12 experience and a background on offense.
 

Brent Venables, defensive coordinator, Clemson – Venables is a name many in the Big 12 are familiar with, as he played at Kansas State from 1991-92 and coached at Oklahoma from 1999-2011. The Kansas native left Norman to work as Clemson’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and the Tigers showed improvement under his direction, finishing fourth in the ACC in scoring defense. Venables and Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt played together at Kansas State from 1991-92 and also crossed paths at Oklahoma. Venables has no head coaching experience but is due for his chance to run a BCS program.
 

Longshots to watch

Josh Heupel, co-offensive coordinator, Oklahoma
Dana Holgorsen, head coach, West Virginia
Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette
Seth Littrell, offensive coordinator, Indiana
Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 25 Freshmen from 2012
Ranking College Football's Vacant Jobs

Ranking the Bowl Games: From Must-See to Must-Miss

Teaser:
<p> 8 Coaches to Replace Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech</p>
Post date: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 05:35
Path: /college-football/grading-tennessee-footballs-hire-coach-butch-jones
Body:

After an extended coaching search, Tennessee has finally found its man. Butch Jones was picked as the Volunteers’ next coach, replacing Derek Dooley after an ineffective three-year run in Knoxville. Jones isn’t a big name or flashy hire, but Tennessee is getting a solid coach that should return to the program to bowl games.

Here’s a deeper look at Jones and the positives and negatives surrounding his hire:

Positives

A Proven Winner
Although Jones has yet to build a program from scratch, his resume is rock solid. Jones is 50-27 in six seasons as a head coach, which also includes five bowl trips. Even if Brian Kelly helped to set the table for Jones’ success at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, it’s not easy getting to 50 victories based on someone else’s recruits. After going 4-8 in his first season with Cincinnati, Jones did a tremendous job getting the program back on track, recording a 19-6 mark over the last two years.

Tennessee is a Destination Job for Jones
Considering Jones is only 44 years old, he’s got plenty of energy and is ready to build something special at Tennessee. Leaving Cincinnati was not an easy decision for Jones but moving to Tennessee and a conference (SEC) with more stability was the right call. Even though his resume may not indicate this, the Michigan native is the type of coach who wants to set down roots in an area and build a program. As long as Jones is successful, he won’t be looking to bolt Knoxville anytime soon.

Ohio Recruiting
Even though Jones spent just three years at Cincinnati, his time in the Buckeye State should help Tennessee on the recruiting trail. The Volunteers have to be able to recruit nationally, especially since the state of Tennessee doesn’t produce a ton of elite talent. Having a coach with ties in Ohio can only help on the recruiting trail. In addition to his Ohio ties, Jones did a good job of recruiting the state of Florida and Memphis while at Cincinnati, which should work even better at Tennessee.

Negatives

No SEC Experience
This factor is probably overrated in coaching searches, but it will take some time for Jones to adjust to life in the SEC. James Franklin has been a successful hire at Vanderbilt and had no SEC head coaching experience before joining the Commodores. Arkansas recently hired Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin, and the former Badger coach has no SEC experience either. This is not a huge concern, but Jones will have an adjustment period and needs to find some assistants with SEC ties.

Building a Program
Although Jones’ resume is solid, there’s a concern he has yet to build a program like Charlie Strong did at Louisville. Jones followed Brian Kelly at Central Michigan and went 27-13, recording two MAC Championships and three bowl appearances. After three years with the Chippewas, Jones took over for Kelly at Cincinnati and went 23-14 with two bowl trips. The Bearcats were 4-8 in his first season but rebounded to a 19-6 mark over the last two years. The good news for Jones and his staff? Tennessee isn’t a huge rebuilding job. However, the program does need some work, which means this is the toughest coaching job Jones will have so far in his career.

Jones wasn’t the first choice of Tennessee
Satisfying a fanbase in the SEC is never an easy task, and Jones already has some ground to cover. Tennessee reportedly made a run at Jon Gruden, Charlie Strong and Mike Gundy and was turned down by each coach. If that’s the case, Jones was likely the No. 4 or maybe even the No. 5 man on athletic director Dave Hart’s list. While it’s not really a big deal for Tennessee to miss on its No. 1 target, the fanbase wanted a bigger name. One thing for the Volunteer fanbase to keep in mind – Jim Mora probably wasn’t the first choice at UCLA and that hire turned out pretty well. Jones will do just fine at Tennessee, but considering the lack of success by the program in recent years, the fanbase wants to win and win now. Basically, there’s no grace period for Jones as he adjusts to life in the SEC.

Final Analysis and Grade

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: Butch Jones is no Nick Saban. However, he’s also not Derek Dooley either. Considering his success at two different stops, Jones is better prepared for this opportunity at Tennessee. Can he win national championships? That’s the big question. Hiring a good staff will also be crucial, especially assistants that have ties in the SEC. The Volunteers have good facilities and a stable conference, which Jones should be able to use to recruit at a higher level than he did at Cincinnati. Depending on what Tennessee’s trio – quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson – does in regards to the NFL Draft, the Volunteers have a chance to push for at least eight wins in 2013. Even though Jones may not have been the first choice at Tennessee, he’s a solid hire and should win a lot of games in Knoxville.

Final Grade: B


Related College Football Content

Ranking College Football's Vacant Jobs
College Football's Top 10 Surprises From 2012

Teaser:
<p> Grading Tennessee Football's Hire of Coach Butch Jones</p>
Post date: Friday, December 7, 2012 - 09:50
Path: /college-football/10-coaches-replace-butch-jones-cincinnati
Body:

Butch Jones was one of the top names in the coaching rumor mill over the last few weeks and decided to leave Cincinnati for Tennessee. Jones led the Bearcats to a 23-14 mark in three years, which included a share of the Big East title the last two seasons. Jones’ departure is a huge blow to Cincinnati, as the program will be looking for its fourth head coach since 2004.

10 Coaches to Replace Butch Jones at Cincinnati

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green –Clawson took a lot of heat for Tennessee’s struggles on offense in 2008, but he is a proven head coach at three different stops. The New York native went 29-29 in five seasons at Fordham (1999-2003), which also included a trip to the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson jumped to Richmond in 2004 and led the Spiders to two playoff appearances, including an 11-3 mark in 2007. After the failed season at Tennessee, Clawson landed at Bowling Green and went 7-6 in his debut year and 8-4 in 2012.


Kerry Coombs, Ohio State assistant coach – Coombs is regarded as an excellent recruiter but has no head coaching experience on the collegiate level. He spent 2007-2011 as an assistant at Cincinnati, before joining Urban Meyer at Ohio State in 2012. Coombs was a high school head coach at Colerain High School from 1991-2006, so there’s no doubt he has excellent recruiting ties throughout the state. Hiring a head coach without any experience is risky, but Coombs would be able to pull in solid talent and likely wouldn’t look to bolt for another head coaching job. 

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame – Diaco's name was mentioned in the Boston College search, so there's no question he is interested in becoming a head coach. And Diaco is familiar with the Cincinnati program, serving as an assistant under Brian Kelly in 2009. He also has spent time as an assistant at Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois, Central Michigan, Virginia and for the last three years at Notre Dame. Diaco has no head coaching experience but has helped to lead the Fighting Irish to a rank of No. 1 overall in points allowed (10.3 ppg).
 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State –Herman is a longshot in this coaching search but a rising star to watch over the next couple of seasons. The Ohio native started his coaching career at Texas Lutheran in 1998, before working his way through the ranks at Texas, Sam Houston State and then as an offensive coordinator at Texas State from 2005-06. After two years with the Bobcats, Herman worked at Rice as the offensive coordinator, then jumped to Iowa State in 2009 and came to Columbus to work with Urban Meyer. 
 

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State – Lembo is a proven winner at three different stops during his coaching career and is ready to move up the ladder after two years at Ball State. He recorded a 44-14 mark in five years at Lehigh and a 35-22 record in five seasons with Elon, which included an appearance in the FCS playoffs. Lembo is 15-9 in two years with the Cardinals and improved his win total by three games from 2011 to 2012. Although Lembo might be looking to jump to a better job in the next few years, he would continue Cincinnati's run of recent success.
 

Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State –MacIntyre has turned San Jose State into one of the WAC’s worst teams into a bowl team in just three years. The Spartans went 1-12 in 2010, improved to 5-7 in 2011 and recorded a 10-2 mark and an appearance in the Military Bowl in 2012. MacIntyre has stops as an assistant at Temple, Ole Miss, Duke and in the NFL with the Cowboys and Jets. MacIntyre isn’t a flashy or a big name, but as the results have shown at San Jose State, he’s capable of leading a BCS program. If Cincinnati is interested, it could have plenty of competition for his services, as MacIntyre could get in the mix at South Florida or Colorado.
 

Chuck Martin, offensive coordinator, Notre Dame –Although Brian Kelly plays a large role in calling the plays each week for Notre Dame, Martin should get his chance to be a head coach on the FBS level in the next few seasons. He succeeded Kelly at Grand Valley State and recorded a 74-7 mark in six seasons, including back-to-back national titles in 2005-06. Martin came to South Bend in 2010 and spent two years on defense, before moving to offensive coordinator in 2012. With his background on offense and successful stint at Grand Valley State, Martin fits the mold of what Cincinnati is looking for in its next head coach.
 

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State – Narduzzi isn’t an offense-first coach like Cincinnati has hired with Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, as he has spent his entire career on defense. However, Narduzzi has helped to mold Michigan State’s defense into one of the nation’s best and has been rumored to be in the mix for a couple of head coaching jobs over the last few seasons. Narduzzi spent from 2004-06 at Cincinnati, working as the defensive coordinator under Mark Dantonio.


Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers – Considering the success of David Shaw at Stanford and Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, Roman is the next Jim Harbaugh assistant to land a head coaching gig. The New Jersey native has no head coaching experience but has stops as an NFL assistant with the Panthers, Ravens and Texans. Roman also worked with Harbaugh at Stanford and helped to coordinate one of the nation’s best offenses. One downside to Roman’s candidacy has to be the 49ers’ playoff chances. With San Francisco likely to make a deep run into the NFL playoffs, Roman may not be available on a full-time basis until mid-January.

 

Other Names to Watch
 
Mike Bajakian, offensive coordinator, Cincinnati
Mario Cristobal, former FIU head coach
Luke Fickell, co-defensive coordinator, Ohio State
Todd Monken, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State
Teaser:
<p> 10 Coaches to Replace Butch Jones at Cincinnati</p>
Post date: Friday, December 7, 2012 - 08:58
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-surprises-2012
Body:

With college football’s 2012 regular season in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the highlights and lowlights from this year. There were plenty of surprises in college football this season, starting with the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings – Notre Dame. Athlon takes a look back at the top 10 surprises in college football, along with where those teams ranked in the preseason rankings.

College Football's Top 10 Surprises from 2012

1. Notre Dame
Preseason Prediction:
No. 20 overall in final 124

After back-to-back 8-5 seasons to begin the Brian Kelly era, Notre Dame broke through in 2012 with an unbeaten 12-0 mark and an appearance in the national title game. The Fighting Irish returned 15 starters from 2011 but lost safety Jamoris Slaughter early in the year to a torn ACL and had to deal with the ups and downs of new quarterback Everett Golson. While the offense was a work in progress early on, the defense has been dominant this year. Linebacker Manti Te’o helped to lead the Notre Dame defense to a rank of No. 1 overall nationally in points allowed and sixth in total defense, along with earning a trip to New York City as a Heisman finalist.

2. Kansas State
Preseason Prediction:
No. 27 in final 124

A case could be made the Wildcats are one of college football’s most underrated teams every year. Kansas State surprised most last season when it was outgained by 106.8 yards per game and still managed a 10-3 finish. The Wildcats started 10-0 this year and was in position to play for the national title until a loss to Baylor knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten. Quarterback Collin Klein was picked as a Heisman finalist and averaged 281.7 yards per game of total offense. As long as Bill Snyder remains on the sidelines in Manhattan, Kansas State will be a dangerous opponent for the rest of the Big 12 – no matter how many returning starters it has or what the stats indicate from the previous season.

3. Oregon State
Preseason Prediction:
No. 61 in final 124

There’s no question Oregon State was one of Athlon’s biggest misses in the preseason rankings. The Beavers were expected to improve after a 3-9 record in 2011, but no one could have predicted a 9-3 mark in 2012. Despite some uncertainty at quarterback, Oregon State finished 34th nationally with an average of 442.7 yards per game. The rushing attack wasn’t flashy but improved by nearly 40 yards a game from 2011 (39.3).  The defense had a huge turnaround, ranking in the top four of the Pac-12 in rushing, total, pass and scoring categories. Two of Oregon State’s three losses came by four points or less, and it defeated Pac-12 champ UCLA 27-20 in late September. After going 8-16 in 2010-11, it’s clear the Beavers are headed back in the right direction under coach Mike Riley.

4. Stanford
Preseason Prediction:
No. 21 in final 124

No Andrew Luck at quarterback. No David DeCastro or Jonathan Martin on the offensive line. No problem. It’s hard to believe, but that’s exactly the scenario that played out at Stanford this season. The Cardinal had to replace a handful of key contributors from last season and still managed to win the Pac-12 title and earn an appearance in the Rose Bowl. Although the offense struggled at times, the insertion of redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan sparked this unit late in the season, while the defense ranked first in the Pac-12 in yards and points allowed. Stanford’s only losses were both by a touchdown or less, with one coming to Notre Dame – the No. 1 team in the BCS standings. Considering what Stanford lost, it’s a huge credit to the coaching job by David Shaw getting this team back in the mix for a Pac-12 title.

5. Florida
Preseason Prediction:
No. 26 in the final 124

The Gators were on the doorstep of making Athlon’s preseason top 25, so it wouldn’t have been a big surprise to see this team finish in the 15-20 range. However, Florida was one win away from playing in the SEC title game and a chance to compete for the national title. The Gators’ offense was only slightly better in 2012, but the defense ranked inside of the top 10 in yards and points allowed. Florida pitched two shutouts (Jacksonville State, Kentucky) this year and held Texas A&M to 17 points in the SEC opener for both teams. The Gators need to take the next step on offense to contend for the national championship in 2013. However, after a 7-6 mark in Will Muschamp’s first season, Florida seems to be back on track as one of the SEC’s top programs.

6. Ole Miss
Preseason Prediction:
No. 71 in the final 124

After a disastrous 2011 season, Ole Miss had nowhere to go but up in 2012. New coach Hugh Freeze was a perfect match for the Rebels, leading the program to a 6-6 mark and a bowl appearance against Pittsburgh in Birmingham. Ole Miss won three SEC games in 2012, which was more than the Rebels combined for in 2010 and 2011 (1-15). After finishing last in the SEC in total defense and 11th in total offense, Ole Miss improved to the middle of the conference in both categories. With most of the core returning intact for 2013, don’t be surprised if the Rebels make a run at eight victories.

7. Duke
Preseason Prediction:
No. 80 in the final 124

The Blue Devils started fast, opening up the 2012 season at 5-1 with a blowout victory over Virginia in ACC play. However, Duke tailed off in the second half of the season, losing five out of their final six games. Despite the sluggish end to 2012, the Blue Devils are making their first bowl trip since 1994 and had a chance to win the Coastal Division late in the year. Coach David Cutcliffe has done a good job of building the program over the last few seasons, and Duke is no longer an automatic out in conference play.

8. UCLA
Preseason Prediction:
No. 42 in final 124

A team from Los Angeles was supposed to win the Pac-12 South title this year. However, most expected it to be USC – not UCLA. The Bruins made a surprising climb from a 6-8 finish last year to Pac-12 South champions in 2012. New coach Jim Mora seems to be a perfect fit in Los Angeles, while the emergence of quarterback Brett Hundley guided the UCLA offense to an average of 35.1 points per game. The Bruins lost two games by a touchdown or less and knocked off USC for the first time since 2006. With the Trojans losing Matt Barkley next season, UCLA should be the frontrunner to win the Pac-12 South in 2012.

9. Texas A&M
Preseason Prediction:
No. 32 in final 124

Considering Texas A&M had a new coach, was dealing with a transition to a new conference and had to replace first-round pick Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, most believed getting to seven wins and a bowl would be a successful season. However, the Aggies exceeded expectations in 2012, winning 10 games for the first time since 1998, while quarterback Johnny Manziel was named as a Heisman finalist in early December. After struggling in the second half of games in 2011, Texas A&M corrected those issues under new coach Kevin Sumlin and scored one of the season’s biggest upsets by knocking off Alabama in Tuscaloosa. With Sumlin in control at College Station, the Aggies are poised to emerge as a consistent top-15 program.

10. Kent State/Northern Illinois
Preseason Prediction:
No. 97 for Kent State, No. 85 for Northern Illinois

For the first time in the BCS era, a team from the MAC will play in one of college football's biggest bowl games. Northern Illinois managed to get into the top 16 of the final BCS standings and finished ahead of major conference champions Louisville and Wisconsin, which allowed the Huskies to play in the Orange Bowl against Florida State. Quarterback Jordan Lynch was one of the nation’s most underrated players this season, recording 4,733 yards of total offense and 43 overall scores. Although Northern Illinois’ defense allowed 356.7 yards per game, this unit forced 2.9 sacks a contest and generated 26 turnovers. Even though the Huskies are playing in the Orange Bowl, Kent State's 2012 season shouldn’t be overlooked. The Golden Flashes fell just short in double overtime against Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship but won at Rutgers 35-23 in late October. With its crazy, high-scoring mid-week games, the MAC has quickly emerged as one of the nation’s most entertaining conferences. And with Northern Illinois on the big stage in the Orange Bowl, it’s an opportunity for the MAC to prove it belongs right with the teams from BCS conferences.

Related College Football Content

What if the Heisman was awarded after the National Championship?
College Football's Best Heisman Award Campaigns

College Football 2012 Season Recap and Awards

15 BCS Title Matchups that should have happened

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Surprises From 2012</p>
Post date: Friday, December 7, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/colorados-football%E2%80%99s-coaching-search-continues-top-remaining-candidates
Body:

Colorado had a messy divorce with former coach Jon Embree and finding a replacement hasn’t been easy. Cincinnati’s Butch Jones interviewed in Boulder with Colorado officials but decided not to take the job. With Jones deciding to stay in Cincinnati (for now), the Buffaloes’ search is wide open once again.

5 Candidates to Replace Jon Embree at Colorado

Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State – DeRuyter had a successful debut season at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs to a 9-3 record and a share of the Mountain West title. DeRuyter has a solid resume as an assistant, working as a defensive coordinator at Air Force and Texas A&M. Although he’s only been a head coach for one year, it’s very easy to be impressed with DeRuyter. Fresno State struggled to get over the hump with Pat Hill on the sidelines, but DeRuyter brought quick improvement after the Bulldogs went 4-9 last season. The 49-year-old coach also has ties to the state of Colorado, as he played at Air Force from 1982-84 and coached with the Falcons from 1991-94 and 2007-09.
 

Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator, Stanford – Hamilton is considered a rising star in the coaching ranks and it’s only a matter of time before he lands a head coaching gig. Hamilton played quarterback at Howard from 1993-96 and coached there from 1997-2001. After a couple of seasons in the NFL with the Jets, 49ers and Bears, Hamilton joined Stanford’s staff in 2010. Although David Shaw plays a key role in the offensive gameplan and play-calling, Hamilton is heavily involved. Hamilton is a bright offensive mind but has no head coaching experience.
 

Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State – MacIntyre has turned San Jose State into one of the WAC’s worst teams into a bowl team in just three years. The Spartans went 1-12 in 2010, improved to 5-7 in 2011 and recorded a 10-2 mark and an appearance in the Military Bowl in 2012. MacIntyre has stops as an assistant at Temple, Ole Miss, Duke and in the NFL with the Cowboys and Jets. MacIntyre isn’t a flashy or a big name, but as the results have shown at San Jose State, he’s capable of leading a BCS program. Colorado could have plenty of competition for his services, as MacIntyre could get in the mix at South Florida or Tennessee.
 

Todd Monken, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State – If Colorado wants to go with a young, offensive-minded coach, Monken is another guy to keep on the radar. The Illinois native has no head coaching experience but made stops as an assistant at Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech, LSU and Oklahoma State. Monken also spent two years in the NFL with the Jaguars and is believed to be on the radar for openings at Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech.
 

Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers – Considering the success of David Shaw at Stanford and Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, Roman is the next Jim Harbaugh assistant to land a head coaching gig. The New Jersey native has no head coaching experience but has stops as an NFL assistant with the Panthers, Ravens and Texans. Roman also worked with Harbaugh at Stanford and helped to coordinate one of the nation’s best offenses. One downside to Roman’s candidacy has to be the 49ers’ playoff chances. With San Francisco likely to make a deep run into the NFL playoffs, Roman may not be available on a full-time basis until mid-January. With Roman’s time at Stanford, he has plenty of familiarity with the Pac-12 and would be a solid pickup for the Buffaloes.

Longshots

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green
Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State
Bob Stitt, head coach, Colorado School of Mines
Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky

Teaser:
<p> Colorado's Football’s Coaching Search Continues: Top Remaining Candidates?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 13:05
Path: /college-football/tennessee-football%E2%80%99s-coaching-search-continues-top-remaining-candidates
Body:

With Mike Gundy, Larry Fedora and Charlie Strong saying no to Tennessee, the Volunteers' coaching search is wide open. The top names on athletic director Dave Hart's list have passed on the job, which leaves the school scrambling to find a new coach. There are still plenty of good coaches available for Tennessee, but it's important for the school that the coaching search doesn't drag deep into next week. 

15 Names to Watch in Tennessee's Coaching Search

Butch Davis, former North Carolina head coach – Davis is reportedly in the mix at FIU, but he would likely listen if Tennessee came calling. The Oklahoma native went 51-20 in six years with Miami from 1995-2000 and recorded three consecutive eight-win seasons with North Carolina in 2008-2010. Davis had a messy end to his tenure with the Tar Heels but has a 79-43 overall mark as a college head coach.


Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame – If Tennessee chooses to look in the assistant ranks, Diaco should be in the mix to replace Dooley. Diaco has spent time as an assistant at Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois, Central Michigan, Virginia, Cincinnati and for the last three years at Notre Dame. Diaco has no head coaching experience but has helped to lead the Fighting Irish to a rank of No. 1 overall in points allowed (10.3 ppg).

 

Al Golden, head coach, Miami – Considering the NCAA hammer is about to drop on Miami, Golden could be tempted to look at another job this offseason. The New Jersey native has spent most of his career on the East Coast, playing for Penn State from 1987-91 and coaching as an assistant at Virginia, Boston College and Penn State. Golden resurrected Temple and led the Owls to a 17-8 record during his final two years in Philadelphia. Miami is just 13-11 in his two years, but the program did not have an abundance of talent when he arrived. Golden has maintained he does not want to leave Miami, but considering the situation in Coral Gables, he could be enticed to bolt for the SEC.

 

Butch Jones, head coach, Cincinnati – Jones has been a hot name in coaching searches this offseason, interviewing at Colorado and Purdue for openings at those schools. He has six years of head coaching experience, spending three years at Central Michigan and recording a 27-13 mark. During his time in Mount Pleasant, the Chippewas made three bowl appearances and claimed two MAC Championships. Jones moved to Cincinnati in 2010 and guided the Bearcats to a 23-14 mark over the last three seasons. Cincinnati has claimed a share of the Big East title in each of the last two years after going 4-8 in Jones’ first season in 2010. Although Jones isn’t a big-name hire, he’s a proven coach with experience and victories at two different stops.

 

Pete Lembo, Ball State – Lembo is a proven winner at three different stops during his coaching career and is ready to move up the ladder after two years at Ball State. He recorded a 44-14 mark in five years at Lehigh and a 35-22 record in five seasons with Elon, which included an appearance in the FCS playoffs. Lembo is 15-9 in two years with the Cardinals and improved his win total by three games from 2011 to 2012.

 

Mike MacIntyre, head coach, San Jose State – MacIntyre has turned San Jose State into one of the WAC’s worst teams into a bowl team in just three years. The Spartans went 1-12 in 2010, improved to 5-7 in 2011 and recorded a 10-2 mark and an appearance in the Military Bowl in 2012. MacIntyre has stops as an assistant at Temple, Ole Miss, Duke and in the NFL with the Cowboys and Jets. MacIntyre isn’t a flashy or a big name, but as the results have shown at San Jose State, he’s capable of leading a BCS program.

 

Doug Marrone, head coach, Syracuse – Marrone is a Syracuse alum, so it’s a longshot that he would be interested in leaving for Tennessee. However, he served as an assistant with the Volunteers in 2001 and was believed to be in the mix for this job after Phillip Fulmer was let go in 2008. Marrone has led the Orange to a 24-25 mark over the last four years, which includes two bowl appearances. It’s hard to envision Marrone leaving Syracuse, but it’s much easier to win big at Tennessee.

 

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson - Morris has surprisingly not engaged in many coaching searches this offseason. He emerged as one of the top offensive minds in college football, leading Clemson's offense to an average of 42.3 points a game this season. Morris has no head coaching experience and already has a salary of $1.3 million, so it would take a significant raise to leave Clemson. Considering the Tigers return a chunk of talent on offense next year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stick around in Death Valley for one more season.

 

Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State – Although Mullen hasn’t expressed much interest in leaving Mississippi State, it’s worth a phone call for Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart to Starkville. Even though Mullen has yet to beat Alabama or LSU during his tenure in Starkville, there’s no doubt Mississippi State is an improved team. The Bulldogs will be making their third consecutive bowl appearance in 2012 and has a 13-19 mark in SEC play over the last four years. Mullen also has assistant experience from stops at Bowling Green, Notre Dame, Utah and Florida. Considering what Mullen has done in four years at Mississippi State, he could thrive at a program with more resources.

 

Bo Pelini, head coach, Nebraska – Just as we mentioned with Doug Marrone and Dan Mullen, it’s a longshot that Pelini would be interested in leaving his current job. However, with the top options falling through, Tennessee has to look at the next available candidates. Pelini has a good job at Nebraska and has a 49-19 overall record. He has led the Cornhuskers to six bowl games and claimed the Big Ten Legends Division title in 2012. Although Pelini has one of college football’s top 25 jobs, he does have previous experience in the SEC and is not working under the same athletic director that brought him to Lincoln.

 

Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach – Why not? Since Tennessee tried and failed to land Mike Gundy and Charlie Strong, the top options are running thin for Dave Hart. Yes, Petrino’s divorce from Arkansas was a mess, but it’s doubtful those issues pop up at his next school. Also, he’s ready work and would probably take less money in an effort to prove himself for the next few years. There’s a lot of baggage hanging around Petrino, but if Tennessee wants to compete for SEC titles, it needs to consider the former Arkansas head coach.

 

Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers – Considering the success of David Shaw at Stanford and Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, Roman is the next Jim Harbaugh assistant to land a head coaching gig. The New Jersey native has no head coaching experience but has stops as an NFL assistant with the Panthers, Ravens and Texans. Roman also worked with Harbaugh at Stanford and helped to coordinate one of the nation’s best offenses. One downside to Roman’s candidacy has to be the 49ers’ playoff chances. With San Francisco likely to make a deep run into the NFL playoffs, Roman may not be available on a full-time basis until mid-January.

 

Kirby Smart, defensive coordinator, Alabama – Tennessee’s last attempt at hiring a Nick Saban assistant didn’t go so well. And considering Derek Dooley’s tenure was a failure, the school probably has some concern about going back to that well in 2012. Smart doesn’t have head coaching experience, but he is regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation. Considering Saban plays a large role in Alabama’s defense, there’s a lot of concerns for athletic directors when considering Smart for any open vacancy.  

 

Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart is one of the rising stars in the non-BCS ranks and is ready for a promotion to a bigger program. He is 16-20 in three years with Western Kentucky, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. In addition to his time as a head coach at Western Kentucky, Taggart worked as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh for three seasons at Stanford. Taggart reportedly interviewed with South Florida and is believed to be a target for the opening at Wisconsin.

 

Tommy Tuberville, head coach, Texas Tech – Tuberville already has two tours of duty through the SEC, coaching at Ole Miss from 1995-98 and at Auburn in 1999-2008. In four seasons with the Rebels, he recorded a 25-20 mark and went 85-40 at Auburn. Tuberville is 20-17 in three seasons at Texas Tech and has the Red Raiders back on track after a 5-7 mark in 2011. Tuberville isn’t flashy, but he’s a proven winner and a steady option for Tennessee.

Teaser:
<p> Tennessee's Coaching Search Continues: Who are the best available candidates?</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 09:01
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2012-postseason-awards-and-recap
Body:

With all of the BCS conferences finished with regular season play, it's time to take a look at the 2012 college football season and hand out some hardware. At the midpoint of 2012, all signs pointed to West Virginia's Geno Smith as the runaway Heisman favorite, while Oregon and Alabama appeared to be on a collision course for the national championship. And what a difference a couple of weeks can make. The Ducks were bounced out of the top five by Stanford, while the Crimson Tide lost to Texas A&M, yet rebounded back into No. 2 in the BCS standings. Before the road to the national championship begins on Dec. 15, Athlon takes a look at the best of the best from the 2012 regular season.

College Football's 2012 Postseason Awards

Offensive Player of the Year: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
It’s a close call between Manziel and Kansas State’s Collin Klein, but the edge goes to the redshirt freshman. Manziel finished with 3,419 passing yards and 24 scores, while adding 1,181 yards and 19 scores on the ground. In Texas A&M’s upset win over Alabama, the redshirt freshman threw for 253 yards and added 92 more on the ground. Manziel owns the single-game SEC mark for total offense (576 against Louisiana Tech) and broke Cam Newton’s record for most total offense in a season with 4,600 yards after 12 regular season games.

Next in Line:
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
 

Defensive Player of the Year: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o doesn’t have earth-shattering numbers, but the senior is college football’s best defensive player and is a key reason why Notre Dame ranks as the No. 1 team in the BCS. Te’o led the Fighting Irish with 103 tackles, recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, seven interceptions and 11 passes defended. Sometimes, a defensive player’s impact goes beyond the box score and that’s the case with Te’o. In addition to his 103 tackles, the senior’s leadership and presence on the field were critical to the Fighting Irish finishing first nationally in scoring defense and sixth in yards allowed.

Next in Line:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia


Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Just like the offensive player of the year honor, there’s not much separating Athlon’s No. 1 and No. 2 pick. A slight edge goes to Brian Kelly over Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, especially since the Fighting Irish are booked for a chance to win the national title in early January. Notre Dame went 8-5 in each of Kelly’s first two seasons but completed a perfect 12-0 mark in 2012.

Next in Line:
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Bill O’Brien, Penn State
David Shaw, Stanford
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
 

Top Freshman: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Is there really any doubt about the winner of this award? After averaging 373.4 yards of total offense in SEC games this season, Manziel could be the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. The redshirt freshman was a big reason why the Aggies navigated through their first season of SEC play with a 10-2 record and will matchup against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

Next in Line:
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
 

Best All-Around: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Although the Mountaineers cooled off after a 5-0 start, their offense was still one of the best in college football this year. West Virginia ranked seventh nationally in scoring and averaged 518.5 yards per game. Austin is arguably the nation’s top all-around weapon, rushing for 598 yards and three touchdown, while catching 110 passes for 1,259 yards and 12 scores. He also added 738 yards and one touchdown on kickoff returns. Most of Austin’s production came at receiver, but he played more snaps at running back late in the season, including a 344-yard performance against Oklahoma in mid-November.


Top JUCO: Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
A strong case could be made for Ole Miss’ quarterback Bo Wallace or Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, but a slight edge goes to Breslin. The California native helped to turn the USC defensive line from a weakness into a strength this year, recording 53 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks. He also broke up four passes and recovered one fumble in 12 games. Breslin recorded second-team All-Pac-12 honors this year and could be in the mix for a spot on the first team in 2013.

Next in Line:
Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss
Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
 

Rising Star in the Coaching Ranks: Gary Andersen, Utah State
Andersen was courted in coaching searches at Kentucky, Colorado and California but chose to stay another year in Logan. Since his arrival at Utah State, the Aggies are 25-24 and are making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1960-61. Utah State is also 17-8 over the last two years and claimed the outright WAC Championship this season. Andersen is one of college football’s rising stars in the non-BCS ranks and should have Utah State contending for the Mountain West title in 2013. 

Next in Line:
Pete Lembo, Ball State
Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State
Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
 

Biggest Surprise: Notre Dame
It’s been quite a season for the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame was unranked in the first Associated Press poll and jumped to the No. 22 spot after crushing Navy 50-10 in the season opener. The Fighting Irish climbed steadily in the polls, eventually claiming the No. 1 spot after Kansas State lost to Baylor on Nov. 17. Although it wasn’t a surprise Notre Dame managed to win 10 games and get back to a BCS bowl, it’s rare to see a team begin the year unranked and get into the national championship. Also, the Fighting Irish emerged as one of college football’s top defensive teams, a slight change from Brian Kelly’s offense-first mentality at Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Next in Line:
Florida
Kansas State
Oregon State
Stanford
 

Biggest Disappointment: USC
Nothing seemed to go right for USC in 2012. The Trojans closed out 2011 as one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning seven out of their last eight contests, including a 38-35 victory against Oregon. Considering USC returned 15 starters, most expected it would continue that momentum and make a run at a BCS title. Instead, the Trojans slumped to a 7-5 overall mark and a 5-4 record in Pac-12 play. Quarterback Matt Barkley was supposed to be a Heisman contender, but his campaign never managed to get on track, and he missed the season finale against Notre Dame with a shoulder injury. For a team that had national title aspirations, playing in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech is quite a drop from the preseason.
 

Best Coaching Hire of 2012: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Meyer certainly didn’t inherit a bare cupboard, but he managed to lead the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record with no postseason possibility due to NCAA sanctions. Ohio State rebounded from a disappointing 6-7 mark in 2011 to a perfect record in 2012, winning at Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin, while picking up a huge victory over rival Michigan in the season finale. Meyer has Ohio State poised to regain its status as one of college football’s premier programs and could start 2013 ranked among the top three teams in most preseason polls.

Next in Line:
Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Jim Mora, UCLA
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
 

Worst Coaching Hire of 2012: Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
You have to look deep to find any positives about Johnson’s tenure at Southern Miss. And even an extensive examination doesn’t reveal anything that went right for the Golden Eagles under his watch. Johnson compiled the worst season in school history in 2012, going 0-12 with losses to Rice, UAB, UTEP and Memphis. Southern Miss had a tough schedule in the early part of the season, but this team struggled to be competitive and ranked near the bottom of the nation in scoring offense and defense. Johnson was fired at the end of 2012, which ended one of college football’s worst coaching tenures in recent years.

Next in Line:
Tim Beckman, Illinois
 

Coach on the Hottest Seat for 2013: Lane Kiffin, USC
Considering the disappointing 2012 season, it’s not out of the question that Kiffin needs to win eight or nine games in 2013 to save his job. The Trojans were picked by many to win the Pac-12 this year but finished a disappointing 7-5 and out of the conference championship game. In addition to the struggles on the field, USC was also involved in the embarrassing deflated football incident against Oregon, as well as a jersey switch controversy against Colorado. Kiffin is 25-12 in his career at USC and is still navigating NCAA sanctions from the Reggie Bush scandal. Recruiting talent isn’t a problem for Kiffin, but it’s time to start winning games. With Matt Barkley off to the NFL, the Trojans may take a small step back on offense, and the Pac-12 South isn’t getting any easier, which only adds more troubles to Kiffin’s plate in 2013.

The Next in Line:
Mack Brown, Texas
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Bobby Hauck, UNLV


Related College Football Content

15 BCS Championship Matchups that should have happened
Ranking the Bowl Games No. 1-35: Must-See to Must-Miss

College Football's 2012 All-America Team

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 2012 Postseason Awards and Recap</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/10-coaches-replace-bret-bielema-wisconsin
Body:

In one of the biggest surprises of the offseason coaching carousel, Bret Bielema decided to depart Wisconsin for Arkansas. Bielema led the Badgers to three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances and was coming off back-to-back Big Ten titles. However, whether it was the attraction of coaching in the SEC or some friction with athletic director Barry Alvarez, Bielema chose to depart and won't coach Wisconsin in the 2013 Rose Bowl. 

10 Replacement Coaches for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin

Chris Ash, defensive coordinator, Wisconsin – Could the Badgers choose to stay in house for a Bielema replacement? Ash is a rising star in the coaching ranks, coming to Wisconsin in 2010 to coach defensive backs, before a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2011. In addition to his time in Madison, Ash had stops at San Diego State and Iowa State but has no head coaching experience. Bielema was a young defensive coordinator when he was promoted to head coach - could Wisconsin choose to do the same path this year?
 

Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks – Since all signs point to Paul Chryst staying in Pittsburgh, Wisconsin’s next option might be Bevell. The former Badger quarterback has been an assistant coach since 1996, starting his career at Westmar University. He worked at Iowa State and Connecticut, before jumping to the NFL to serve as an offensive assistant with the Packers, Vikings and Seahawks. Bevell has been Seattle’s offensive coordinator for the last two years and has played a key role in developing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
 

Bob Bostad, offensive line coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bostad is regarded as one of the nation’s best offensive line coaches, developing top units at Wisconsin and in the NFL with the Buccaneers. He also has experience during stops as an assistant at San Jose State and New Mexico from 1997-2005 but has never served as a head coach. Bostad worked under Bret Bielema at Wisconsin, so there’s some natural ties to the program. However, not having head coaching experience has to be a drawback for athletic director Barry Alvarez.
 

Paul Chryst, head coach, Pittsburgh – Even though Chryst has expressed his commitment to Pittsburgh, Wisconsin still make a run for his services. Chryst played at Wisconsin from 1986-88 and coached in Madison in 2002 and 2005-2011. He also has experience from stops at Oregon State and in the NFL with the Chargers. Chryst is the perfect candidate for Wisconsin but leaving Pittsburgh after one season will be difficult. 
 

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green – Clawson took a lot of heat for Tennessee’s struggles on offense in 2008, but he is a proven head coach at three different stops. The New York native went 29-29 in five seasons at Fordham (1999-2003), which also included a trip to the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson jumped to Richmond in 2004 and led the Spiders to two playoff appearances, including an 11-3 mark in 2007. After the failed season at Tennessee, Clawson landed at Bowling Green and went 7-6 in his debut year and 8-4 in 2012.

 

Bob Diaco, defensive coordinator, Notre Dame – If Wisconsin chooses to look in the assistant ranks, Diaco should be in the mix to replace Bielema. The New Jersey native played at Iowa, so he’s certainly familiar with life in the Big Ten. Diaco has spent time as an assistant at Eastern Michigan, Western Illinois, Central Michigan, Virginia, Cincinnati and for the last three years at Notre Dame. Diaco has no head coaching experience but has helped to lead the Fighting Irish to a rank of No. 1 overall in points allowed (10.3 ppg).

 

Butch Jones, head coach, Cincinnati – Jones has been a hot name in coaching searches this offseason, interviewing at Colorado and Purdue for openings at those schools. He has six years of head coaching experience, spending three years at Central Michigan and recording a 27-13 mark. During his time in Mount Pleasant, the Chippewas made three bowl appearances and claimed two MAC Championships. Jones moved to Cincinnati in 2010 and guided the Bearcats to a 23-14 mark over the last three seasons. Cincinnati has claimed a share of the Big East title in each of the last two years after going 4-8 in Jones’ first season in 2010.
[NOTE: Since publishing, Jones has been hired at Tennessee.]
 

Pete Lembo, Ball State – Lembo is a proven winner at three different stops during his coaching career and is ready to move up the coaching ladder after two years at Ball State. He recorded a 44-14 mark in five years at Lehigh and a 35-22 record in five seasons with Elon, which included an appearance in the FCS playoffs. Lembo is 15-9 in two years with the Cardinals and improved his win total by three games from 2011 to 2012.
 

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State – Narduzzi doesn’t have any head coaching experience but is regarded as one of the Big Ten’s top assistant coaches. The Connecticut native started his coaching career at Rhode Island in 1993 and stayed until 2000 when he left to go to Northern Illinois. After three seasons with the Huskies, Narduzzi spent one year at Miami (Ohio) and joined Mark Dantonio’s staff at Cincinnati in 2004. Narduzzi followed Dantonio to Michigan State in 2007 and has helped to build one of the Big Ten’s best defenses over the last few years. The Spartans ranked fourth nationally in total defense this season.


Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart is one of the rising stars in the non-BCS ranks and is ready for a promotion to a bigger program. He is 16-20 in three years with Western Kentucky, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. Taggart is from Palmetto, Fla., which is just under 50 miles to Raymond James Stadium. In addition to his time as a head coach at Western Kentucky, Taggart worked as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh for three seasons at Stanford.  


Related College Football Content

Ranking College Football's Bowl Games: Must-See to Must-Miss
Ranking College Football's Vacant Jobs

College Football's Postseason 2012 All-American Team

Teaser:
<p> 10 Coaches to Replace Bret Bielema at Wisconsin</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-auburn-or-tennessee-which-best-job-opening-sec
Body:

The SEC is college football's No. 1 conference, so it's no surprise there's a lot of interest in the coaching positions at Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas. Although each of the three schools has a lot of positives, is there much separating this trio? The Razorbacks and Volunteers have upgraded their facilities in recent years, while the Tigers are just two years removed from a national title. 

Which job is the best opening in the SEC: Arkansas, Auburn or Tennessee?

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Perhaps a few years ago, I would have said something other than Tennessee, but now it’s pretty obvious Tennessee is the best open SEC job this season. The Volunteers are on more solid ground after cycling through Phillip Fulmer, Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley in three years. Even through all the turnover and losing, good players still found their way to Knoxville, even if them could tackle. Like most SEC schools, the commitment is there, the facilities are there, the money is there. Instead, the Tennessee job is better for right now than the other two for what it’s not. The Vols aren’t in the West, even if they have to play Alabama every year. They don’t have the headaches of an Auburn job that eats its own. They have a better track record than Arkansas. All the jobs are tough, a good coach can win at any of them. But Tennessee has the greatest potential for short- and long-term success.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
Tennessee is the best job opening in the SEC, but they are all solid gigs. Arkansas has done much to elevate its standing in the college football hierarchy with major facility upgrades in the last few years. But this program lacks an elite recruiting base, is in arguably the toughest division in college football and has yet to prove it can win an SEC title. Auburn has more upside than the Razorbacks, as 2010 proved, and has the best in-state talent pool of the three, but a bizarre and unreasonable fanbase (and their expectations) combined with always being No. 2 in their own state makes the Plains an volatile place to coach. Tennessee has a better tradition of sustained success than both and has arguably the best facilities in the nation. And today, the East is a slightly "easier" place to reside than the West. In the SEC, my rankings would go Tennessee (6th), Auburn (7th) and then Arkansas (9th) — but all three are top 30 jobs nationally.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Considering each of these jobs would rank among the top 25 in the nation, it’s not easy to choose the best one out of this trio. Arkansas strikes me as a program on the rise, especially as it continues to upgrade the facilities and after recording back-to-back seasons of at least 10 victories from 2010-11. However, the Razorbacks don’t have a ton of in-state talent to build a program around, which means recruiting Texas is a priority. And of course, there’s already Alabama and LSU in the same division, which makes getting to the SEC Championship – at least right now – very difficult. Although Auburn won a national title in 2010, dealing with in-state rival Alabama is never going to be an easy task. The Tigers also seem to be in a bit of disarray right now, especially with the NCAA snooping around the program for recruiting violations. Tennessee has an easier path to a SEC Championship right now, even though Florida is back on the rise, and South Carolina continues to improve under Steve Spurrier. The Volunteers have solid facilities and are willing to spend to get a good coach, but just like Arkansas, there’s not a ton of in-state talent to build a program. With all of those factors considered, I’d have to give a slight edge to Tennessee as the best job out of this trio. However, if Arkansas can hire the right coach and successfully recruit Texas, the Razorbacks have a chance to surpass the Volunteers for the No. 1 spot.

Mark Ross
For me, it comes down to Arkansas or Tennessee, because as long as Nick Saban's in Tuscaloosa, I want nothing to do with the job at the "other" Alabama school. That said, it's very close, but I'll go with the Hogs' job over the Volunteers' gig. Yes, Arkansas resides in the same division as Alabama and LSU, not to mention Mississippi State, a Texas A&M program that appears to be on the rise and an improving Ole Miss, but that doesn't mean the Hogs aren't in position to make some noise of their own. Don't forget what Bobby Petrino had accomplished with the program before his unexpected dismissal. That's not the case with Tennessee, who has seven or fewer wins in each of the last four seasons and will be hiring its fourth head coach in four years in the near future. Tennessee was once considered one of the best jobs in all of college football, and I'm not saying it won't ever reach that level again. However, the Volunteers' glory days seem almost like a distant memory these days, and I'm not convinced it won't take some time to get the program back to the level the powers that be and the fan base expect it to be at. Regardless of how long that takes, the pressure will always be there to win "now" in Knoxville, especially with what James Franklin has already done in just two seasons at Vanderbilt, the "other" Tennessee school. Arkansas also has made more of a commitment recently to improving its football facilities, an aspect that can never be overlooked, especially in the SEC, and whoever gets the Hogs' job doesn't have to worry about competing with another SEC program, let alone major FBS member school, in his state. Both teams have plenty of questions surrounding them headed into the offseason and will likely be looking at major turnover, as it applies to the coaching staff and player personnel, and both will play difficult schedules in 2013. Still, if I had to choose, I would probably take the Arkansas job over the other open ones in the SEC because I think the Hogs are better situated to turn things around in the near future and there's no question that there is less pressure to win in Fayetteville than Knoxville, or even Auburn for that matter. Of the three jobs, I think it's less stressful and much sweeter to win big with the Hogs than either the Vols or the Tigers.

Related College Football Content

Ranking the Bowl Matchups: From the Must-See to the Must-Miss
5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the National Title

Week 14 College Football Recap

Teaser:
<p> Arkansas, Auburn or Tennessee: Which is the best job opening in the SEC?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 05:14
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-2012-postseason-all-america-team
Body:

College football's 2012 regular season is over, which means it's time to hand out the hardware. It's never easy compiling a postseason All-America team, especially after watching several players have excellent 2012 campaigns. Some positions required little debate (linebacker - Manti Te'o) but others (quarterback and running back) were difficult to sort out. 


First-Team All-America Offense

QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M

RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin

RB Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona

WR Marqise Lee, USC

WR Terrance Williams, Baylor

TE Zach Ertz, Stanford

C Barrett Jones, Alabama

OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

OG Chance Warmack, Alabama

OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan



First-Team All-America Defense

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State

DT Star Lotulelei, Utah

DT Will Sutton, Arizona State

LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia

LB C.J. Mosley, Alabama

LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame

CB Dee Milliner, Alabama

CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State

S Matt Elam, Florida

S Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma


First-Team All-America Special Teams

K Dustin Hopkins, Florida State

P Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech

KR Reggie Dunn, Utah

PR Venric Mark, Northwestern

AP Tavon Austin, West Virginia


Second-Team All-American Offense

QB Collin Klein, Kansas State

RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon

RB Stepfan Taylor, Stanford

WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson

TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington

C Braxston Cave, Notre Dame

OG Cyril Richardson, Baylor

OG David Yankey, Stanford

OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama

OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M


Second-Team All-America Defense

DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame

DT Jordan Hill, Penn State

DT Kawann Short, Purdue

LB Anthony Barr, UCLA

LB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

LB Chase Thomas, Stanford

CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

CB Bradley Roby, Ohio State

S Eric Reid, LSU

S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State


Second-Team All-America Special Teams

K Caleb Sturgis, Florida

P Kyle Christy, Florida

KR Dri Archer, Kent State

PR Marcus Murphy, Missouri

AP Giovani Bernard, North Carolina


Related College Football Content

5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the National Title

5 Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Win the National Title

Ranking the Bowl Games No. 1-35: Must-See to Must-Miss

Teaser:
<p> College Football's 2012 Postseason All-America Team</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 05:13
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-notre-dame-will-beat-alabama-national-title
Body:

After struggling to find success under Tyrone Willingham, Bob Davie and Charlie Weis, Brian Kelly has led Notre Dame back to promience. The Fighting Irish are playing in their first BCS bowl since the 2006 season and have not won a national title since 1988. Notre Dame faces a tall task trying to win the BCS title on Jan. 7, as it has to knock off Alabama and end the SEC's recent run of dominance in national championships. 

5 Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Win the National Title

1. It’s time for the SEC’s run to end
All good things must come to an end. Even though the SEC has claimed six consecutive national championships, a team from one of the other power conferences or Notre Dame will end its run in the next few seasons. So why not 2012? The Fighting Irish defeated nine bowl teams this year and beat another squad (Miami) that finished 7-5. Notre Dame proved its mettle on the road, beating Oklahoma 30-13 and at USC 22-13 in its regular season finale. There’s no question the SEC is the nation’s best conference and plays at the highest level of college football. However, at some point, the SEC’s success in the national championship will end, even if it’s just for one season.

2. The defense might be the best in the nation
Picking the nation’s best defense is no easy task. Florida, Florida State, LSU and Alabama all have a legitimate case for the No. 1 honor, but let’s not overlook Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish rank first nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 10.3 points a game. Notre Dame is fourth nationally in rush defense, sixth in total defense and is allowing only 194.4 passing yards per game. Led by senior linebacker Manti Te’o, the Fighting Irish have allowed just 10 touchdowns this season, which is the fewest allowed in college football.

3. Experience on the offensive line
Alabama’s 3-4 defense has been consistently one of the best in college football since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide lost a bevy of key players to the NFL Draft, yet finished 2012 ranked No. 1 in total defense and averaged 2.5 sacks a game. Although it’s not a glamorous matchup, the battle between the Notre Dame offensive line and Alabama’s front seven will have a huge impact on who hoists the national title. The Crimson Tide has an athletic front seven, but the Fighting Irish can counter with an experienced offensive line. Zack Martin is a standout performer at left tackle, starting 38 consecutive games. Center Braxston Cave has 34 career starts, while left guard Chris Watt, right tackle Christian Lombard and right guard Mike Golic Jr. have a combined 53 career starts. Winning starts in the trenches, and Notre Dame’s front five is more than capable of holding its own against Alabama’s defense.

4. Quarterback Everett Golson was playing his best ball at the end of the season
Even though Notre Dame led with its defense this year, the offense started to come alive at the end of the year. Redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson threw for at least 200 yards in each of his final four games, including a 346-yard effort against Wake Forest. Golson has tossed only five picks this season and turned in a key performance in a road win over Oklahoma (13 of 25, 177 yards). Although the redshirt freshman is making strides as a passer, his ability to make plays outside of the pocket is what makes him dangerous. Golson rushed for 305 yards and five touchdowns this year and considering Alabama struggled to stop Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, another dual-threat quarterback is not what Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart wanted to see.

5. Don’t underestimate Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly
Alabama’s Nick Saban is widely regarded as the best coach in the nation, but Kelly has to rank in the top five of any best coaching list. The Massachusetts native has been a winner at each stop in his career, recording a 118-35-2 mark and two national championships in 13 years at Grand Valley State. Kelly went 19-16 with a MAC Championship in three seasons at Central Michigan, followed by a 34-6 mark in three full years with Cincinnati. While it took Kelly two years to surpass the eight-win mark at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish are on the right track and are poised to emerge once again as an annual top-10 team. While Kelly isn’t as proven as Saban on a national championship stage, his background and playcalling on offense shows Notre Dame will have an excellent chance to end the SEC’s national title streak.  

Related College Football Content

5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the National Title
Ranking the Bowl Games: 1-35 Must-See to Must-Miss

Post-Week 14 BCS Analysis

Teaser:
<p> 5 Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Beat Alabama for the National Title</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 10:28
Path: /college-football/5-reasons-why-alabama-will-beat-notre-dame-national-title
Body:

Alabama is back in the national championship for the third time in four seasons. The Crimson Tide survived an early November loss to Texas A&M to wind up No. 2 in the BCS rankings and has a shot to continue the SEC's recent dominance. 

5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Win the National Title:

1. The SEC’s recent success in national title games
It’s no coincidence the SEC has won six consecutive national championships. For a conference that has the most rabid fanbases and support in FBS play, along with recruiting the nation’s top high school prospects, the SEC has established a blueprint on how to dominate college football. Alabama can add to the SEC’s run of dominance with a win over Notre Dame on Jan. 7, and it’s no surprise the Crimson Tide are already listed by some places as a touchdown favorite. Winning a national title requires luck, but considering the SEC is on the doorstep of its seventh consecutive title, it’s all about talent and owning the top programs in the nation. Notre Dame is worthy challenger, but the SEC is the best of the best and that will show on Jan. 7 in Miami.

2. The continued improvement of quarterback AJ McCarron
Quarterback AJ McCarron was a key reason why Alabama knocked off LSU in last season’s title game. He completed 23 of 34 throws for 234 yards and no interceptions in New Orleans, which significantly relieved the pressure on running back Trent Richardson and the defense. McCarron has taken another step in his development this year, throwing for 2,669 yards and 26 touchdowns, while tossing just three picks. The junior is also completing 66.8 percent of his throws and ranks first nationally in passing efficiency. Moving the ball against Notre Dame’s defense won’t be easy, but McCarron is getting better with every snap and has progressed significantly since last year’s national title victory over LSU. Considering the junior quarterback scored a road win over LSU and led Alabama to a victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship, the national stage against a stout Notre Dame defense won’t be too big for McCarron.

3. Alabama has the best defense Notre Dame has played this year
Although Notre Dame’s schedule features nine teams playing in a bowl game this year, it hasn’t played a defense quite like the one it will see in Miami on Jan. 7. Alabama has more team speed and depth than anyone the Fighting Irish have played this season and rank first nationally in yards allowed and are second in scoring defense. The secondary had some lapses during the regular season but no opponent threw for more than 296 yards this year. With a month to gameplan for Notre Dame, coach Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart should have a few new wrinkles to throw at quarterback Everett Golson. The Crimson Tide’s pass rush (2.5 sacks per game) will challenge an experienced Fighting Irish offensive line.

4. Emerging playmakers on offense
Despite losing running back Trent Richardson and receiver Marquis Maze, Alabama’s offense was statistically better in 2012. The Crimson Tide averaged 439.1 yards and 38.5 points per game, slightly increased from 34.9 points and 429.6 yards a game in 2011. The development of quarterback AJ McCarron as played a key role in the increased production, but the Crimson Tide also have a group of emerging playmakers to also thank for the success. Running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon each topped 1,000 yards this year, while freshman receiver Amari Cooper emerged as the go-to threat for McCarron, catching 53 passes for 895 yards and nine scores. With another set of practices to work with the coaching staff, expect Yeldon, Cooper and receiver Christion Jones to be even more comfortable in the offense by Jan. 7, which only adds to an offense that features McCarron and one of the best offensive lines in the nation.

5. Nick Saban in national title games
Even though Nick Saban has routinely had some of college football’s best rosters at Alabama and LSU, winning a national championship requires more than talent. And when ranking the best coaches in the nation, Saban should be No. 1 by a wide margin. In 11 years in the SEC, he has a 67-21 conference record and has only one season of fewer than eight victories. Saban has been simply unstoppable since coming to Alabama, as the Crimson Tide has won at least 10 games in each of the last five seasons. That record looks even more impressive when you consider the three national championships on Saban’s resume. He won the 2003 title at LSU by beating Oklahoma and claimed the 2009 and 2011 championships with the Crimson Tide. Saban is 3-0 in national title appearances and 4-1 in bowl games during his career at Alabama. Needless to say, Saban is at his best when everything is on the line. 

Related College Football Content

5 Reasons Why Notre Dame Will Win the National Title
Ranking the Bowl Games: 1-35 Must-See to Must-Miss

Post-Week 14 BCS Analysis

Teaser:
<p> 5 Reasons Why Alabama Will Beat Notre Dame for the National Title</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 10:26
Path: /college-football/10-coaches-replace-fired-skip-holtz-south-florida
Body:

After starting his career at South Florida with a solid 8-5 season, Skip Holtz appeared to have the Bulls in position to contend for Big East championships. However, the program never managed to take the next step under Holtz's watch. The Bulls went 5-7 in 2011 and continued the downward spiral with a 3-9 record in 2012. Holtz was fired on Sunday, which means South Florida will be looking for just its third coach in program history.  

10 Replacements for Skip Holtz at South Florida

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green – Clawson took a lot of heat for Tennessee’s struggles on offense in 2008, but he is a proven head coach at three different stops. The New York native went 29-29 in five seasons at Fordham (1999-2003), which also included a trip to the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson jumped to Richmond in 2004 and led the Spiders to two playoff appearances, including an 11-3 mark in 2007. After the failed season at Tennessee, Clawson landed at Bowling Green and went 7-6 in his debut year and 8-4 in 2012.
 

Mario Cristobal, head coach, FIU – Considering Cristobal has spent most of his career in Florida, he would be a logical target for South Florida. However, Cristobal could have a hard time leaving the Miami area, especially with FIU making the jump from the Sun Belt to Conference USA. Cristobal has a 27-47 record in six years with the Golden Panthers but helped to resurrect a program that was in awful shape when he became head coach in 2007. 
 

Eddie Gran, RB coach, Florida State – Gran has been an assistant in the college ranks since 1987, making stops at Miami, Cincinnati, Ole Miss, Auburn, Tennessee and Florida State. The California native has never been a coordinator but is a relentless recruiter and has been a key addition to the Seminoles’ staff over the last three seasons. Not having head coaching experience has to be a drawback for Gran’s chances of landing at South Florida.
 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State – Herman is a longshot in this coaching search but a rising star to watch over the next couple of seasons. The Ohio native started his coaching career at Texas Lutheran in 1998, before working his way through the ranks at Texas, Sam Houston State and then as an offensive coordinator at Texas State from 2005-06. After two years with the Bobcats, Herman worked at Rice as the offensive coordinator, then jumped to Iowa State in 2009 and came to Columbus to work with Urban Meyer. 
 

June Jones, head coach, SMU – Jones wanted to leave SMU last season, so it’s a bit of a surprise his name hasn’t popped up for more jobs this year. Although the Mustangs haven’t made dramatic improvements under his watch, SMU is making its fourth consecutive bowl appearance. Jones is 30-34 in six seasons with the Mustangs and was 76-41 in nine years with Hawaii. Considering South Florida needs to build some excitement in the fanbase, hiring a coach that runs a pass-first offense would be ideal. 
 

Kliff Kingsbury, offensive coordinator, Texas A&M – If South Florida really wants to make a splash with its hire, Kingsbury should be one of its top targets. The Texas native has been coaching in college since 2008, beginning his career under Kevin Sumlin at Houston. Kingsbury helped to orchestrate one of the nation’s best offenses with the Cougars in 2011 and played a key role in the development of Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M this season. Kingsbury has no head coaching experience but runs an exciting offense and has worked under some successful coaches – Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen. 
 

Dan McCarney, head coach, North Texas – Just like Houston Nutt, McCarney’s name has been mentioned as an early candidate for the vacancy at South Florida. McCarney has a career record of 65-100 but spent 12 years coaching at a difficult place to win (Iowa State). He also has one season of experience at South Florida (2007) and coached at Florida from 2008-2010. McCarney is 9-15 in two years at North Texas. 
 

Todd Monken, offensive coordinator, Oklahoma State – Monken is another coach with a background on offense and is also due for his shot to run a program. The Illinois native has no head coaching experience but has built a solid resume with stops as an assistant at Eastern Michigan, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Oklahoma State and in the NFL with the Jaguars. Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has helped to build a foundation for offensive success in Stillwater, but Monken has done a tremendous job this season, starting three quarterbacks and dealing with a revamped offensive line to rank No. 3 nationally in scoring offense.
 

Brent Pease, offensive coordinator, Florida – Pease has been an assistant in the college ranks since 1991, which included a stop as Boise State’s offensive coordinator in 2011. The Idaho native also worked at Kentucky, Baylor and helped to improve Florida’s offense in 2012. Pease doesn’t have head coaching experience but he has a solid resume from his time as an assistant and would help South Florida spark a struggling offense. 
 

Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart is one of the rising stars in the non-BCS ranks and is ready for a promotion to a bigger program. He is 16-20 in three years with Western Kentucky, including back-to-back seven-win seasons in 2011-12. Taggart is from Palmetto, Fla., which is just under 50 miles to Raymond James Stadium. In addition to his time as a head coach at Western Kentucky, Taggart worked as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh for three seasons at Stanford.  

 

A few wildcards to watch
 

Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette – Hudspeth is 17-8 in two seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette and has SEC experience from a two-year stint at Mississippi State. Although Hudspeth would be a great hire, he may be holding out for a chance to land in the SEC.
 

Houston Nutt, former Ole Miss head coach – The early rumor mill has suggested Nutt could be in the mix for the opening at South Florida, which would certainly be an interesting fit for both parties. Nutt recorded a 75-48 mark during his tenure at Arkansas, including at least a share of three SEC West titles. Nutt started 18-8 at Ole Miss but went 6-18 during the next two seasons.  

Teaser:
<p> 10 Coaches to Replace Fired Skip Holtz at South Florida</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/ranking-all-35-college-football-bowls-2012-must-see-must-miss
Body:

Which bowls should you tune into? Athlon ranks and previews all of the matchups from the must-see to the ones you can avoid. Although Alabama and Notre Dame is clearly the biggest bowl game, with 34 other contests, there are plenty of other quality pairings to watch this postseason.

Ranking the 35 Bowl Games: Must-Watch to Must-Miss

1. BCS National Title – Alabama (12-1) vs. Notre Dame (12-0) – Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. ET
With the history and tradition between Alabama and Notre Dame, this season's national title matchup is the most-anticipated championship game of the BCS era. With a Crimson Tide victory, the SEC will claim its seventh consecutive national championship, while  Alabama is looking for its third BCS title in four seasons. This is the Fighting Irish’s first BCS bowl appearance under coach Brian Kelly and their first overall since 2007. Both teams rank among the best in defense, but the Crimson Tide have a slight edge on offense, largely due to the continued improvement of quarterback AJ McCarron. These two teams have met six times, with Notre Dame owning a 5-1 edge in the series. Interestingly enough, Alabama and the Fighting Irish are tied with eight Associated Press national titles apiece.  

2. Fiesta Bowl – Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1) – Jan. 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET
If you like offense, the Fiesta Bowl should be the game to watch. The Ducks rank second nationally in scoring offense with an average of 50.8 points per game, while Kansas State is 10th nationally at 40.7 points per game. Oregon is loaded with playmakers, starting with redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner. Although Kansas State’s offense is averaging over 400 yards per game, its success is largely due to the play of one man — quarterback Collin Klein. The senior carried the offense with 3,380 total yards and 37 touchdowns. These two teams were scheduled to meet in the regular season, but the series was canceled in 2010. One key question surrounding this one: Will Chip Kelly still be Oregon’s coach when this game kicks off?

3. Chick-fil-A Bowl – LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2) – Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The Chick-fil-A Bowl is usually one of the best matchups outside of the BCS and 2012 certainly lives up to that hype. LSU was one defensive stop against Alabama from playing for the SEC Championship and won at least 10 games for the sixth time in eight seasons. Clemson is 1-1 against SEC opponents this year, beating Auburn in the season opener and losing to South Carolina on Nov. 24. The Tigers own one of college football’s top offenses, averaging 42.3 points a game. The chess match between Clemson’s offense against LSU’s defense should be one of the top O's vs. X's battles this bowl season.

4. Rose Bowl – Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5) – Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET
After watching Oregon and Wisconsin trade scores in last season’s Rose Bowl, points could be a premium in the 2013 edition. Stanford and Wisconsin will be a war in the trenches, as the Cardinal hope to hold the Badgers’ powerful rushing attack in check. Stanford’s offense improved in the second half of the season, largely due to the emergence of quarterback Kevin Hogan. Considering both teams are strong on defense and on the ground, a key play by Hogan or Wisconsin’s Curt Phillips could be just enough to win. The Badgers have lost back-to-back Rose Bowl games.

5. Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2) – Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET
Even though the Cotton Bowl was pressured not to setup a Texas-Texas A&M matchup, it ended up with a solid game between two former Big 12 rivals. Oklahoma also just missed out on a BCS bowl, even though its only losses came against Kansas State (Fiesta Bowl) and Notre Dame (BCS title). The Sooners’ defense allowed at least 30 points in three out of their final four games, which has to be a concern against Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman is one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman and ranks second nationally with 383.3 yards of total offense per game. Oklahoma has won eight out of the last nine matchups against Texas A&M, including a 41-25 game last season.  

6. Capital One Bowl – Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2) – Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET
Considering how the conference championship games turned out for both teams, there certainly has to be a feeling of disappointment by having to play in Orlando. However, if Nebraska and Georgia are motivated, this should be one of the best bowl matchups outside of the BCS. After the Cornhuskers were shredded for 539 rushing yards against Wisconsin, the Bulldogs have to be licking their chops. Freshmen backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall combined for 1,983 yards and 24 touchdowns this year. This matchup also features an exciting quarterback duel between Georgia’s Aaron Murray (34 TDs) and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (31 TDs).

7. Sugar Bowl – Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1) – Jan. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Florida has one of the nation’s best resumes but also has some puzzling results, including close victories over Louisiana-Lafayette and Missouri. The Gators knocked off Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State, but a loss to Georgia prevented Will Muschamp’s team from having a chance to play for the national title. Louisville won the Big East title with a 20-17 win over Rutgers, which featured a gutsy performance from quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, playing with a broken wrist and sprained ankle. With over a month to heal, Bridgewater should be close to 100 percent, which should give the Cardinals a chance to hang around in this matchup. There’s also an underlying coaching theme, as Louisville’s Charlie Strong worked at Florida from 2002-09.

8. Holiday Bowl – Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4) – Dec. 27 at 9:45 p.m. ET
The Holiday Bowl seems to bring out the best in offense, so expect plenty of fireworks when Baylor and UCLA meet on Dec. 27. The Bears were one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 to finish 2012, winning four out of their final five games, with the only loss coming to Oklahoma. Baylor leads the nation in total offense, while quarterback Nick Florence kept the passing attack going without Robert Griffin, throwing for 4,121 yards and 31 scores. UCLA won the Pac-12 South in coach Jim Mora’s first season and fell just short of a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Bruins have a dynamic offense and the combination of quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Johnathan Franklin should test a shaky Baylor defense. 

9. Outback Bowl – South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) – Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. ET
Even though both teams had its sights set on a bigger bowl game this year, the Outback Bowl should be another entertaining Big Ten-SEC matchup. The time off from the season finale is good news for both teams, as South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw missed the game against Clemson with a foot injury and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is also banged up. Michigan could use the month off to find a fix for its rushing attack, which sputtered when Fitzgerald Toussaint was lost for the year with a leg injury. Expect Florida native Denard Robinson to play a quarterback/running back hybrid role for Michigan in his final game in a Wolverine uniform.

10. Orange Bowl – Florida State (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1) – Jan. 1
For the first time in the BCS era, a MAC team will make an appearance in a BCS bowl. The Huskies aren’t the strongest non-BCS squad to play in a big-time bowl, as they lost to Iowa in Week 1 and scored a one-point victory over a 2-9 Army team in Week 3. Also, coach Dave Doeren left for NC State after the MAC Championship victory over Kent State. However, Northern Illinois features one of the nation’s most exciting players in quarterback Jordan Lynch and an offense that averages 40.8 points per game. The Huskies’ high-powered attack will be tested by a Florida State defense that ranks second nationally in yards allowed and is giving up just 15.1 points per game. The Seminoles will be without coordinator Mark Stoops in this game, who left to take the head coaching job at Kentucky. If Florida State is motivated, the Seminoles should overwhelm Northern Illinois with its speed and depth. 

11. Alamo Bowl – Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3) – Dec. 29 at 6:45 p.m. ET
Last season’s Alamo Bowl was the highest-scoring game in bowl history. Although Texas and Oregon State are each averaging over 30 points a game, it’s unlikely these two teams will match last year’s ridiculous totals set by Baylor and Washington. The Longhorns are dealing with more quarterback uncertainty, as David Ash was banged up in the loss to TCU and Case McCoy tossed two picks in a 42-24 defeat to Kansas State on Dec. 1. While the passing attack has been inconsistent, Texas has a talented trio of backs, which will test an Oregon State defense ranked 28th against the run. The Beavers have also dealt with some quarterback issues, but Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz have each had their moments. Both quarterbacks have plenty of targets to choose from, as Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks each topped 1,000 receiving yards. This is the first meeting between these two teams since 1987, with Texas owning a 2-0 edge in the series.

12. Gator Bowl – Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4) – Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET
It may not mean much to the players, but this game is a crucial one in the ongoing Big Ten-SEC battle for bragging rights. And this matchup features teams headed in the opposite direction at the end of the year. Northwestern won three out of its final four games, while Mississippi State closed out 2012 by losing four out its last five contests. The Wildcats have not won a bowl game since 1949 but have lost two out of their last three postseason contests by seven points or less. Mississippi State’s defense struggled late in the year and drew a tough matchup against Northwestern, which features running back Venric Mark (109.2 ypg) and dynamic dual-threat quarterback Kain Colter.

13. Buffalo Wild Wings – TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6) – Dec. 29 at 10:15 p.m. ET
With both teams returning a solid core of talent next season, this bowl could be a springboard to a big 2013. Despite losing quarterback Casey Pachall and moving to the Big 12, the Horned Frogs finished with a 7-5 record and are making their eighth consecutive bowl game. Michigan State was expected to be one of the frontrunners for the Big Ten title this year but needed a victory over Minnesota in the regular season finale just to get bowl eligible. This could be the final game for Spartans running back Le’Veon Bell, who could be entering the NFL Draft. Points could be at a premium with both teams ranked in the top 20 of total defense.

14. New Mexico Bowl – Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5) – Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. ET
The 2012-13 bowl season kicks off in Albuquerque, N.M., featuring an exciting matchup between the Wolf Pack and Wildcats. There should be no shortage of points between these two teams, as both teams averaged over 500 yards a game during the regular season. Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey led the nation with an average of 146.4 yards per game, while Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson was second at 141.9 yards per contest. A matchup of 7-5 teams is usually a game to miss, but this one has all of the makings for an entertaining shootout.

15. Famous Idaho Potato – Utah State (10-2) vs. Toledo (9-3) – Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Utah State makes its second consecutive appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and it hopes for a different result after losing a heartbreaker to Ohio in 2011. The Aggies had a 6-0 record in conference games and lost by two points to Big Ten champion Wisconsin. Utah State’s offense is led by dynamic quarterback Chuckie Keeton, but the defense allowed just 15.4 points a game. All three of Toledo’s losses were by a touchdown or less and one of its nine victories came against Cincinnati. The Rockets allowed 464.1 yards per game but countered that with an offense that averaged 32.9 points a contest. Running back David Fluellen missed the season finale with a sprained ankle but should be close to 100 percent for the bowl. 

16. Las Vegas Bowl – Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5) – Dec. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Boise State is making its third consecutive trip to the Las Vegas Bowl and interestingly enough, these two teams will meet in the season opener next year. Despite heavy personnel losses on both sides of the ball, the Broncos won 10 games for the seventh consecutive season and their two losses were by four points or less. Washington is making progress under coach Steve Sarkisian, winning four out of its final five games. The Huskies showed improvement on defense but took a step back on offense this year. A young offensive line is to blame for some of the offensive woes, but quarterback Keith Price also took a step back in performance.

17. Music City Bowl – Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. NC State (7-5) – Dec. 31 at 12 p.m. ET
After winning eight games for the first time since 1982, Vanderbilt probably deserves to be headed to a bigger bowl game. However, the Commodores will be making the short trip to LP Field with a chance to earn their first bowl victory under coach James Franklin. And Franklin has some history with NC State, as its athletic director (Debbie Yow) picked him to be the head-coach-in-waiting at Maryland. Motivation is a concern for the Wolfpack, especially after coach Tom O’Brien was released after the season finale against Boston College. Although new coach Dave Doeren won’t be on the sideline for this game, the NC State players want to make a good impression. Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon is one of the ACC’s top signal-callers and will test a Vanderbilt secondary that ranks 10th nationally against the pass. 

18. GoDaddy.com Bowl – Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Kent State (11-2) – Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. ET
Arkansas State is making its second consecutive trip to Mobile, while Kent State is in a bowl game for the first time since 1972. The Red Wolves closed out the regular season by winning seven consecutive games and seemed to find their offensive rhythm late in the year under first-year coach Gus Malzahn. Kent State will counter Arkansas State’s offense with a defense that forced 38 turnovers and averaged 2.5 sacks per game. The Golden Flashes have struggled to establish a passing attack this year but are led on offense by a dangerous one-two punch at running back with Trayion Durham and Dri Archer.

19. Poinsettia Bowl – BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3) – Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET
The first mid-week bowl game of the season is an intriguing battle between two former WAC and Mountain West rivals. Despite having to replace quarterback Ryan Lindley and running back Ronnie Hillman, the Aztecs topped last season’s victory total and enter the bowl game on a seven-game winning streak. BYU lost four of its five games by six points or less, but closed out the year by scoring 50 points in two out of its final three games. The Cougars have dominated San Diego State in the series history, owning a 27-7-1 record. The Aztecs last win against BYU occurred in 2005 and have lost nine out of the last 10 matchups in this series.  

20. Pinstripe Bowl – West Virginia (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5) – Dec. 29 at 3:15 p.m. ET
Two old Big East rivals will meet in Yankee Stadium for what should be a high-scoring affair. The Mountaineers rank sixth nationally in passing offense, led by senior quarterback Geno Smith and two of the nation’s best receivers – Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The Orange closed out the year on a high note, winning five out of their last six games, including a victory against eventual Big East champion Louisville. Quarterback Ryan Nassib ranked 13th nationally in total offense at 312.3 yards per game but an improved rushing attack was critical during the second half of the season. Syracuse leads the overall series 32-27 between these two teams and won the last two meetings as Big East conference foes.

21. Military Bowl – Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2) - Dec. 27 at 3 p.m. ET
This will be the first meeting between the Falcons and the Spartans, two teams separated by over 2,000 miles. Led by an offense averaging 35.3 points per game, San Jose State recorded its first season of double-digit wins since 1987. Coach Mike MacIntyre is also one of the rising stars in the non-BCS ranks, providing a quick turnaround for one of the nation’s worst teams just a few seasons ago. Bowling Green is making its first bowl appearance since 2009 and finished 2012 by winning seven out of its last eight games. San Jose State’s firepower on offense will be tested by a Falcons’ defense allowing just 15.8 points per game.

22. BBVA Compass Bowl – Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Ole Miss (6-6) – Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh will be making its third consecutive trip to Birmingham, while the Rebels return to the postseason after a two-year absence. New Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze engineered a quick turnaround, taking the Rebels from 2-10 last season to 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. In Pittsburgh’s last two BBVA Compass Bowl appearances, it was forced to play with an interim coach. Don’t expect that to happen this time around, as Paul Chryst isn’t leaving the Steel City this year. This game features an intriguing quarterback matchup, as Pittsburgh’s Tino Sunseri had a much-improved season, while Bo Wallace threw for 2,843 yards in his first year at Ole Miss.  

23. Liberty Bowl – Tulsa (10-3) vs. Iowa State (6-6) – Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET
The only rematch from the regular season features Conference USA’s champ (Tulsa) and an Iowa State team that played much better than its 6-6 record indicates. The Cyclones won the first matchup 38-23, but the Golden Hurricane is a much-improved team since the season opener. Tulsa’s offense is led by three players with at least 700 rushing yards, while quarterback Cody Green has 2,499 passing yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Iowa State found a spark on offense late in the year, as quarterback Sam Richardson threw for seven touchdowns over the final two contests. This is the Cyclones’ first trip to the Liberty Bowl since 1972. 

24. Russell Athletic Bowl – Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6) – Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Two old Big East foes meet for the first time since 2003. The Scarlet Knights have not defeated Virginia Tech since 1992 and trail 11-3 in the overall series. The Hokies had high expectations in the preseason but slumped to a 6-6 record. Quarterback Logan Thomas did not take the next step in his development, but the offense also dealt with inconsistency on the offensive line and in the rushing attack. Rutgers was just a couple of plays away from a BCS bowl and its top-10 defense drew a favorable matchup against the Hokies. 

25. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – (Navy 8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5) – Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. ET
Navy is back in the postseason after a one-year absence and drew a tough matchup against Arizona State. The Sun Devils closed out the regular season with a key 41-34 win over rival Arizona, which gave it more than six victories for the first time since 2007. Arizona State’s offense is loaded with playmakers, and quarterback Taylor Kelly finished the season with 25 touchdown tosses to nine interceptions. The Midshipmen are always a difficult opponent due to their style of play and should have a homefield advantage in San Francisco. Navy’s last win over a Pac-12 team came in 2006 against Stanford.

26. Independence Bowl – Ohio (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) – Dec. 28 at 2 p.m. ET
With not enough ACC or SEC teams bowl eligible, the Independence Bowl landed an intriguing matchup between two non-BCS teams. Ohio started the year with a bang, winning on the road at Penn State and opened 7-0 before a loss to Miami (Ohio). The Bobcats suffered a handful of season-ending injuries, which played a key role in the team’s struggles in the second half of the year. Louisiana-Monroe is making its first bowl appearance in program history and it also started the year off with a huge upset, beating Arkansas 34-31 in Week 2. Warhawks’ quarterback Kolton Browning had an outstanding season, throwing for 2,830 yards and 27 touchdowns on 389 attempts. Both teams average over 30 points a game, so expect plenty of fireworks on Dec. 28 in Shreveport, La. 

27. New Orleans – Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4) – Dec. 22 at 12 p.m. ET
There should be no shortage of points when the Pirates and Ragin’ Cajuns meet in New Orleans on Dec. 22. Both teams are averaging over 30 points a game and each finished the year with a three-game winning streak. Louisiana-Lafayette won a 32-30 thriller over San Diego State in last season’s New Orleans Bowl and with its campus less than 200 miles away from the Superdome, should have a significant homefield advantage over East Carolina. Pirates quarterback Shane Carden finished the year by throwing nine touchdowns over his last three games and should be able to take advantage of a Ragin’ Cajuns’ secondary that ranked near the bottom of the Sun Belt.

28. Belk Bowl – Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6) – Dec. 27 at 6:30 p.m. ET
The last three matchups in the Belk Bowl have each been decided by seven points or less. And this season’s game should be just as competitive, especially after Cincinnati found its rhythm on offense with the switch to Brendon Kay at quarterback. Kay replaced Munchie Legaux as the team’s No. 1 passer and finished with six touchdowns over the final four games. The Bearcats allow 373.8 yards per game on defense but are holding opponents to 17.2 points a contest. Duke is making its first bowl appearance since 1994 but closed out the year by losing its final four games. The Blue Devils have made solid progress under coach David Cutcliffe and will test Cincinnati’s secondary with quarterback Sean Renfree and record-setting receiver Conner Vernon.

29. Sun Bowl – USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7) – Dec. 31 at 2 p.m. ET
From preseason No. 1 to the Sun Bowl. That’s the kind of year it has been for USC. The Trojans lost four out of their final five games to slip out of contention in the Pac-12 South, while quarterback Matt Barkley suffered a shoulder injury in the loss to UCLA. The good news for USC is Barkley is expected to play against Georgia Tech, who limps into the bowl season as the only team with a losing record. The Yellow Jackets lost in the Sun Bowl against Utah last season and will give the Trojans’ defense a challenge with its option attack. If Barkley and a deep USC receiving corps get on track early, it could be an uphill battle for Georgia Tech to keep this one close. 

30. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl – UCF (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3) - Dec. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Looking for something to do on the Friday before Christmas? How about this MAC vs. C-USA matchup? These two teams have met three times, with Ball State owning a 2-1 edge. The Cardinals finished the regular season with six consecutive victories but head into the bowl game with some uncertainty surrounding their quarterback Keith Wenning, who suffered an Achilles injury against Ohio. UCF fell just short of a Conference USA title and three of its losses came by five points or less, with its only other loss coming to Ohio State in Week 2. Ball State’s rush defense has struggled this year, which is bad news against a UCF team with running backs Latavius Murray and Miami transfer Storm Johnson. 

31. Heart of Dallas Bowl – Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6) – Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. ET
In a bit of a surprise, Oklahoma State ended up in the final allotted Big 12 bowl. The Cowboys were 7-5 but lost three games by a touchdown or less and were forced to start three quarterbacks due to injuries this year. Despite making back-to-back bowl games, Purdue fired coach Danny Hope after the season finale. The Boilermakers found a spark on offense from quarterback Robert Marve late in the year but will have a tough time keeping pace with the Cowboys on Jan. 1.

32. Meineke Car Care – Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) – Dec. 28 at 9 p.m. ET
Considering Minnesota lost six out of its last eight games, this game has potential to be a blowout victory by Texas Tech. The Red Raiders didn’t exactly close out the year on a high note either, losing four out of their final five games. However, the Golden Gophers will need a huge effort on defense to stop Texas Tech’s passing attack (No. 2 nationally). Minnesota’s offense never managed more than 17 points in each of its final four contests, which won’t be good enough against the high-scoring Red Raider attack. 

33. Hawaii Bowl – SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3) – Dec. 24 at 8 p.m. ET
Former Hawaii coach June Jones makes his first appearance in Aloha Stadium since a 35-28 victory over Washington in Dec. 1, 2007. Despite leaving Hawaii after the 2007 season, Jones is still a popular figure and should help build the local interest in this game. SMU has made four consecutive bowl games but needed a victory over Tulsa in its final game just to get eligible this year. Former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw for 2,720 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season with the Mustangs. New coach Tim DeRuyter led the Bulldogs to a share of the Mountain West title in his first season and brings a high-powered offense to Hawaii. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 3,742 yards and 36 touchdowns this year, while running back Robbie Rouse topped 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season. These two teams were once conference mates in the WAC, and Fresno State holds a 5-1 edge over SMU in the all-time series.

34. Little Caesars – W. Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) - Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
This matchup in Detroit might not be one of the most intriguing games, but there are some interesting aspects surrounding both teams. After getting passed in the bowl selection process last year, Western Kentucky is making its first trip to a postseason game. The Hilltoppers have one of the nation’s top up-and-coming coaches in Willie Taggart, along with running back Antonio Andrews, who leads the nation with 248.1 all-purpose yards per game. Central Michigan returns to the postseason after a two-year absence and had a road win over Iowa this year but failed to beat a team with a winning record. 

35. Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force (6-6) vs. Rice (6-6) – Dec. 29 at 11:45 a.m. ET
The Armed Forces Bowl is just one of two of postseason games with both teams sporting a 6-6 record. Air Force is making its fifth consecutive bowl trip under coach Troy Calhoun and its third game in the Armed Force Bowl in the last five years. Rice was picked by most to finish near the bottom of Conference USA’s West Division but won its final four games to get bowl eligible. The Owls are playing in a postseason game for the first time since 2008 but will have their hands full trying to stop Air Force’s offense, which averages 328.8 rushing yards per game.

Teaser:
<p> Ranking All 35 College Football Bowls for 2012: From Must-See to Must-Miss</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /news/georgias-aaron-murray-gets-rocked-alabama-defender
Body:

The SEC Championship matchup between Alabama and Georgia might have been the best played game in 2012. The Bulldogs had a chance to win late, but the Crimson Tide defense held on the final drive to clinch a spot in the national title. 

And considering this game matched two of the best defenses in the nation, it was no surprise there were plenty of hard hits. At the end of the first half, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray tossed an interception and was leveled by Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial. Considering how important protecting the quarterback is, it's a surprise there wasn't a penalty called on Alabama. 

 

Teaser:
<p> Georgia's Aaron Murray Gets Rocked By Alabama Defender</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 16:47
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/nebraska-wr-kenny-bell-destroys-wisconsin-defender
Body:

Nebraska didn't have many highlights from Saturday night's loss to Wisconsin, but there were a few noteable plays for the Cornhuskers. 

In addition to Taylor Martinez's ridiculous touchdown run, receiver Kenny Bell destroyed Wisconsin defensive back Devin Smith on a third-quarter pass, which was called back due to a penalty. However, the block on Smith might be one of the most vicious hits in college football this season.

Teaser:
<p> Nebraska WR Kenny Bell Destroys Wisconsin Defender&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 15:31
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/nebraskas-taylor-martinez-escapes-wisconsin-defense-touchdown-run
Body:

Nebraska had a horrible showing in Saturday's Big Ten Championship, but quarterback Taylor Martinez had a ridiculous touchdown dash in the first half, which might be one of the best runs in recent memory.

Wisconsin was able to bring a rusher that was virtually untouched by Nebraska's offensive line, which forced Martinez to retreat back to the eight-yard line. From there, it was a series of moves and then nothing but pure speed to give Martinez the 76-yard touchdown run.

Teaser:
<p> Nebraska's Taylor Martinez Escapes Wisconsin Defense on Touchdown Run</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 13:12
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-worst-bcs-teams
Body:

At the end of college football’s regular season, the focus always shifts to the BCS title and debating the best teams in the nation. However, there’s also the other side of the coin, as the end of the year is a chance to reflect on the worst teams. And when examining the BCS era (1998-2012), there's no shortage of "quality" candidates for this ranking. 

Unfortunately for Colorado fans, the Buffaloes have to rank among the top 10 worst BCS teams since 1998. Although Colorado managed to steal a road win at Washington State, it lost to FCS opponent Sacramento State and only one loss in Pac-12 play was by a touchdown. The Buffaloes’ dismal season cost coach Jon Embree his job and adds even more uncertainty to a program that is just 25-61 over the last seven years.  

Top 10 Worst BCS Teams Since 1998

1. 2008 Washington State
Final Record: 
2-11
Don’t be fooled by the two wins on the resume: Washington State was awful in 2008. The Cougars were outscored by an average of 48-14 each game and its only victories came against a bad FCS team (Portland State) and a Washington team that was without quarterback Jake Locker and finished with a 0-12 record. The Cougars were shutout in three Pac-10 games and scored only a field goal against California and UCLA. 

2. 2006 Duke
Final Record: 
0-12
One year after posting a 1-10 record, Duke’s struggles on the gridiron continued with an 0-12 season. The Blue Devils lost 13-0 in the opener against Richmond and were outscored 73-0 by Virginia and Virginia Tech. There were signs of progress from 2005, as Ted Roof’s team lost by one to North Carolina and Wake Forest and was defeated by five points to Miami in mid-October.

3. 2003 Temple
Final Record:
 1-11
Temple was largely uncompetitive from the moment it joined the Big East in 1991. The Owls won just 15 overall games from 1991-99 and went winless in conference play in 1996. The 2003 season included a loss to FCS opponent Villanova, with the only victory coming on the road at MTSU. Temple did have a close call in Big East play, losing 24-23 to Virginia Tech in mid-November. The Owls were booted from the Big East due to their struggles on the field and low attendance after the 2004 season but returned to the conference in 2012. 

4. 2000 Duke
Final Record:
 0-11
Finding success on the gridiron hasn’t been easy for Duke. However, the 2000-01 seasons were possibly the worst in school history. The Blue Devils were not only winless but largely uncompetitive. Duke was shutout in the opener against East Carolina and lost by at least 30 points five times. The Blue Devils also managed only 155 points, their lowest offensive output in the BCS era. 

5. 2008 Washington
Final Record:
 0-12
Tyrone Willingham failed to record a winning record during his four-year tenure at Washington, and 2008 was a rock-bottom point for this program. The Huskies went 0-12, which included a 16-13 loss to rival Washington State in Pullman. Washington was largely uncompetitive in Pac-10 play, with only two games decided by a touchdown or less. Losing quarterback Jake Locker certainly didn’t help Washington’s chances, but the Huskies’ leading rusher had just 338 yards, and the defense allowed 38.6 points a game. 

6. 1999 Baylor
Final Record: 
1-10
Kevin Steele was brought in to replace Dave Roberts after back-to-back two-win seasons, but his tenure was a major disappointment. The Bears went 1-11 in 1999 and was defeated by an average score of 38-13. Baylor’s only win that season came against North Texas, but the lowlight of the year came in a loss against UNLV. Baylor led 24-21 with less than 20 seconds left and just had to take a knee to seal the victory. Instead of lining up in the victory formation, the Bears ran the ball and fumbled, which was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Although Steele was trying to set an attitude or mindset for the team, it was a huge error on his part. Baylor won only one Big 12 game during Steele’s four years in Waco.

7. 2001 Duke
Final Record:
 0-11
After a disastrous 2000 season, the Carl Franks tenure at Duke didn’t get much better in 2001. The Blue Devils failed to record a win for the second season in a row and suffered blowout losses at the hands of Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Franks’ 2001 team was a little better but still one of the worst in BCS history. 

8. 1999 Rutgers
Final Record: 
1-10
After going 0-11 in 1997, Rutgers showed some signs of life with a 5-6 record in 1998. However, the Scarlet Knights regressed to a dismal 1-10 record in 1999. The only win of the season was a surprise 24-21 upset over Syracuse, but Rutgers lost 56-28 to a 2-9 Temple in late October. Outside of the victory against the Orangemen, the Scarlet Knights had only two losses decided by 14 points or less and was defeated by an average score of 39-14.

9. 2012 Colorado
Final Record: 1-11
After closing out 2011 with victories in two out of their final three games, even though Colorado had a young team coming back in 2012, there was some hope Colorado could at least match its win total. However, the Buffaloes took a step in the wrong direction, opening the year with bad losses to Colorado State and FCS opponent Sacramento State. Colorado also had a point differential of -338 and scored 17 or fewer points in six Pac-12 games. 

10. 2005 Duke
Final Record:
 1-10
After four miserable seasons under Carl Franks, Duke turned to Ted Roof to help turn the program back in the right direction. Roof had some initial momentum, but things quickly went downhill. The Blue Devils went 1-10 in 2005, with the one win coming over a VMI team that finished 3-8. Duke had a point differential of -231 and had only one ACC loss was decided by less than 25 points. 

Honorable Mention:

1999 South Carolina (0-11)
2000 Baylor (2-9)
2002 Rutgers (1-11)
2002 Kansas (2-10)
2003 Iowa State (2-10)
2005 Syracuse (1-10)
2006 Stanford (1-11)
2007 Syracuse (2-10)
2007 Baylor (3-9)
2007 Minnesota (1-11)
2009 Washington State (1-11)
2011 Indiana (1-11)
2011 Kansas (2-10)


Related College Football Content

Tracking College Football's Realignment
What Gene Chizik's New Book Should Be Titled

SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Pac-12 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Worst BCS Teams</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/acc-championship-preview-and-prediction-florida-state-seminoles-vs-georgia-tech-yel
Body:

For the first time in the history of the ACC Championship, Florida State and Georgia Tech will meet for the conference title. Despite being separated by less than 300 miles, these two teams are in opposite divisions in the ACC and have not played since a 49-44 shootout in 2009.

These two teams arrived in Charlotte by taking completely different paths. Georgia Tech closed out the year by winning its last four ACC games to get to 5-3 in conference play, which placed it in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami at the top of the Coastal. However, with the Tar Heels and Hurricanes ineligible to play in the postseason, the Yellow Jackets get the nod to represent the Coastal in Charlotte.

On the other side, Florida State went 7-1 in ACC play and finished with a 10-2 overall mark. The Seminoles’ only conference loss was a last-minute 17-16 defeat to NC State. Florida State dominated most of its ACC opponents this season, with only one victory decided by 10 points or less.

Florida State holds a 12-9-1 edge in the overall series, but Georgia Tech has claimed the last two in this series. Yellow Jackets’ coach Paul Johnson is 2-0 in his career against the Seminoles. And this will be the first matchup for Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher against Georgia Tech.

Other Championship Game Previews
Big Ten
| Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When the Florida State Seminoles have the ball:

Perhaps the biggest mismatch in this game is the Seminoles’ offense against the Georgia Tech defense. The Yellow Jackets have been struggling to get stops all season and fired coordinator Al Groh after a 47-31 loss to Clemson. Removing Groh didn’t help the defense much, as Georgia Tech has allowed at least 40 points in three out of its last six games. The Yellow Jackets rank sixth or worse in the ACC in total, scoring, sacks per game and pass defense.

Although Florida State’s offense struggled in last week’s loss to Florida, it should be able to have its way against Georgia Tech. The Seminoles are relatively balanced on offense, ranking 26th nationally in rushing (203.8 ypg) and 34th in passing offense (273.7 ypg). If there’s a concern for Florida State’s offense, it has to be turnovers (23 so far this year).

Quarterback EJ Manuel was banged up in last week’s loss to Florida but is not expected to be limited in the ACC Championship. Manuel ranks eighth nationally in pass efficiency and tossed only five interceptions in conference games this season. The senior has no shortage of playmakers around him, headlined by receiver Rashad Greene. The sophomore leads Florida State with 43 receptions for 614 yards and five scores. Kelvin Benjamin ranks second on the team in receiving yards, while Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw each have 471 yards this season.

Despite losing Chris Thompson to an ACL injury against Miami earlier this year, Florida State still ranks second in the ACC in rushing offense. Sophomores Devonta Freeman and James Wilder have picked up the slack, combining for 1,085 yards and 16 scores this year. Freeman provides the speed, while Wilder adds some power and leads the team with nine rushing scores.

Considering Florida State is averaging 39.8 points per game in conference play, Georgia Tech will have its hands full trying to slow down the Seminoles’ offense. Although the Yellow Jackets can rely on their offense to chew up the clock, the defense could help swing some early momentum by generating a few turnovers. If Georgia Tech fails to get pressure on EJ Manuel and doesn’t win the turnover battle, it’s hard to see the defense being able to slow down the Florida State attack.

When the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have the ball:

Not only are the Yellow Jackets a difficult opponent to prepare for in one week, the Seminoles’ defense must also deal with the news of coordinator Mark Stoops being named as the head coach at Kentucky. Stoops will coach in this game, but it’s fair to wonder if that has distracted from the gameplanning from Florida State.

With a defense that has struggled to get stops this year, Georgia Tech’s offense has had to win plenty of shootouts. The Yellow Jackets have scored at least 30 points in seven out of their eight conference games, including 68 in a win over North Carolina on Nov. 10.

Vad Lee and Tevin Washington have shared the quarterback duties over the second half of the season and that should continue into Saturday’s game. Lee is a better playmaker on the ground (6.0 ypc), but Washington has more experience as a passer and has more experience within the offense.

There’s really no secret or much disguise for what Georgia Tech wants to do on offense. Coach Paul Johnson is committed to an option attack, which is averaging 323.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Yellow Jackets rank near the bottom of the nation in passing and has struggled to develop any go-to receivers. 

Orwin Smith leads the team with 673 yards and five touchdowns, but an ankle injury has clouded his status for Saturday’s game. In addition to leading the team in rushing yards, Smith is also the team’s top big-play threats (9.0 ypc) and ranks first on the team with 17 receptions. Even if Smith can play, he’s likely to be limited.

Outside of Smith, the Yellow Jackets can lean on Zach Laskey, David Sims and Robert Godhigh as key contributors in the backfield. Laskey is a hard-nosed runner and averages a solid 5.2 yards per carry this season. Sims has been limited due to injuries this year but has 351 yards and three scores on 85 attempts.

Considering Florida State has not played a team that runs the option this season, it may take a quarter for Stoops’ defense to settle into the matchup. However, another problem that is developing for the Seminoles is depth on the defensive line. Starter Cornellius Carradine suffered a torn ACL in the loss against Florida, which leaves redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry or true freshman Mario Edwards, Jr. as the starter.

Final Analysis:

Everything on the stat sheet for this matchup suggests it should be an easy win for Florida State. However, six out of the last seven matchups in this series have been decided by eight points or less, so even though the Yellow Jackets are 6-6, history indicates this matchup will be close on Saturday night. Despite the close matchups in recent years, unless Georgia Tech’s defense plays its best game of the season, Florida State will pull away in the second half for a double-digit victory. The Seminoles simply have too many weapons on offense and despite the loss of Carradine on the defensive line, will prevent any big plays to the Yellow Jackets.

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD ACC Record
David Fox Florida State 42-14 76-20
Braden Gall Florida State 30-17 74-22
Steven Lassan Florida State 34-24 71-25
Mitch Light Florida State 30-20 79-17


Related College Football Content

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Pac-12 Championship Game Preview

Post-Week 13 Heisman Contenders

ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Teaser:
<p> ACC Championship Preview and Prediction: Florida State Seminoles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/louisville-cardinals-vs-rutgers-scarlet-knights-preview-and-prediction
Body:

When the Big East released its 2012 schedule, many circled the Nov. 29 date between Rutgers and Louisville as a matchup that could decide the conference title. And after 11 games and several twists and turns this season, it’s no surprise the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights meet with a trip to a BCS bowl on the line.

After opening this season 9-0, Louisville has been headed in the wrong direction with back-to-back losses. The Cardinals dropped a 45-26 matchup at Syracuse on Nov. 10 and lost 23-20 to Connecticut in three overtimes last Saturday. Rutgers relinquished full control of the Big East title after a 27-6 road loss at Pittsburgh last week, which was also its first defeat in conference play this year. The Scarlet Knights also lost to Kent State 35-23 in late October.

These two teams have played 11 times, with Rutgers holding a 7-4 edge in the series. Louisville has won the last two matchups but has lost four out of the five contests at Rutgers.

And a game preview about Rutgers-Louisville wouldn’t be complete without a mention about conference realignment. With both teams slated to leave the Big East in 2014, after next season’s matchup, who knows when these programs will meet again on the gridiron.

When the Louisville Cardinals have the ball:

The health of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the biggest wildcard for Thursday night’s game. The sophomore suffered a broken wrist on his non-throwing hand and a sprained ankle in last week’s loss to Connecticut. Bridgewater is expected to play but is obviously less than 100 percent. The Cardinals will have to make some changes on offense, as Bridgewater will be unable to take snaps from center.

With Bridgewater battling injuries, Louisville’s supporting cast needs to step up. With Senorise Perry sidelined for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, Jeremy Wright will be the No. 1 back. However, Wright managed only 43 yards in last week’s loss to Connecticut and faces a Rutgers defense allowing just 110.7 rushing yards per game.

In addition to jumpstarting the rushing attack, Louisville’s offensive line can’t afford to allow many hits on Bridgewater. The Scarlet Knights are averaging just 1.6 sacks per game, but the Cardinals’ front five ranks sixth in the Big East in sacks allowed this year. 

If Bridgewater gets time to throw, he should have opportunities to make some plays against Rutgers’ secondary. The Scarlet Knights allowed 419 passing yards against Arkansas and 356 to Syracuse, which happened to be the best offenses this defense has faced this year.

With a receiving corps that features solid options like DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers, Damian Copeland and Andrell Smith, the Cardinals have a chance to throw for over 300 yards on Thursday night.

When the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have the ball

After scoring at least 20 points in seven out of its first nine games this year, Rutgers’ offense has been stuck in neutral the last two weeks. The Scarlet Knights managed just 10 points against Cincinnati and recorded only six points against Pittsburgh.

Despite the recent struggles, a matchup against Louisville’s defense could be what Rutgers’ offense needs to get back on track. The Cardinals rank seventh in the Big East in rush defense and fifth in total yards allowed. The Scarlet Knights are averaging only 341.4 yards per game, but the matchups favor opportunities for success.

Running backs Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins have been a solid one-two punch this season, with Jamison leading the team with 1,004 yards. Considering Louisville’s struggles against the run, Jamison and Huggins should be able to find plenty of room on Thursday night.

Louisville leads the Big East in pass defense but has allowed 19 passing scores and opposing quarterbacks are completing nearly 60 percent of their passes (58.5 percent). Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova has not topped more than 186 passing yards over the last three weeks and has tossed at least one interception in each of his last five games. Although Nova hasn’t played well in recent weeks, the playmakers are in place for a bounce back performance. Brandon Coleman is a big-play target, averaging 15.2 yards per catch and scoring nine times this year. Mark Harrison, Tim Wright and tight end D.C. Jefferson are also reliable options in the passing game for Nova.

Final Analysis

With a Big East title on the line, expect both teams to have a little extra motivation for Thursday night’s game. Louisville has to prevent Bridgewater from taking too many hits, while finding ways to establish a ground attack that has been missing the last two weeks. Rutgers has the better defense, while its offense should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Cardinals’ front seven. The stats say Rutgers but here's a hunch Louisville snaps its two-game losing streak with a huge road victory.

Prediction: Louisville 24, Rutgers 20


Related College Football Content

Week 14 Big East Preview and Predictions
Post-Week 13 Heisman Contenders

Post-Week 13 Big East Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Louisville Cardinals vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 04:49
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Kentucky Wildcats, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/grading-kentucky-footballs-hire-coach-mark-stoops
Body:

Kentucky was the first BCS program to make a coaching change this year, and the Wildcats are the first team to hire a replacement. Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops landed his first head coaching gig, as he was hired as the replacement for Joker Phillips in Lexington.

Winning at Kentucky is no easy task. Although the Wildcats have an elite basketball program, the football team is just 101-146 since 1991. Kentucky has made five bowl games since 2006 but has never won more than eight games since a 9-3 season in 1985.

Needless to say, Kentucky is arguably one of the toughest BCS jobs in college football and ranks 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC in terms of desirability. Considering how tough it is to win big at Kentucky and the Wildcats' 2-10 record in 2012, Stoops has his work cut out for him over the next couple of seasons.
 

Positives

Strong defensive background
Considering Kentucky has never finished higher than 40th in total defense over the last five years, this is one area Stoops should be able to make an immediate impact. The Wildcats finished 13th in the SEC in scoring defense in 2012 and ranked 11th in yards allowed. This unit had a lot of youth stepping into key roles but also needs an infusion of talent. When Stoops arrived in Tallahassee in 2010, the Seminoles were coming off a horrendous season on defense. Florida State ranked 108th nationally in yards allowed and was giving up 30 points a game. However, the Seminoles made significant progress in Stoops’ first season, finishing 43rd in total defense and 30th in points allowed. And in 2011 and 2012, Florida State ranked in the top 10 in scoring and total defense. The competition is tougher in the SEC, but Stoops should be able to bring some immediate improvement to this unit.

Coaching history
With a brother (Bob) that has a national championship at Oklahoma and another brother (Mike) who served as a head coach for eight years at Arizona, Mark Stoops has plenty of good bloodlines in his family. In addition to being surrounded by two brothers with head coaching experience, Stoops has coached at South Florida, Wyoming, Houston, Miami, Arizona and Florida State, so he has plenty of experience from various parts of the country and has paid his dues on each stop on the coaching ladder.

Recruiting ties
For Kentucky to be successful in football, it has to be able to pull some talent from Ohio. And this is a big advantage for Stoops, as he was born in Youngstown and is still well-connected within the state. Also, after spending three years at Florida State and time with Miami and South Florida, Stoops should have developed plenty of recruiting connections within the state of Florida. If Kentucky is going to be successful, it needs a relentless recruiter and someone who can spark some interest in the program. Mission accomplished.
 

Negatives

Head coaching experience
Whether or not it’s overrated when it comes to hiring a replacement, a lack of head coaching experience has to be a concern. In other SEC hires, James Franklin and Dan Mullen had no previous head coaching experience but have turned out to be solid hires. However, there’s also the other side of the coin, which includes Kentucky’s last hire of Phillips and Ron Zook at Florida.

What offense will he run?
Although Stoops should be able to bolster Kentucky’s defense, it remains uncertain what time of offense he will run. Although the Wildcats should recruit well under Stoops, they need to do something unique on offense to compete in the SEC. Before a season-ending leg injury sidelined quarterback Maxwell Smith, Kentucky was on the right track with its pass-first offense. Whether it’s a pass-first approach or a spread offense, the Wildcats need to try something different and forget about a pro-style attack.

Building a coaching staff
In addition to finding the right fit as offensive coordinator, Stoops has to fill out a coaching staff for the first time in his career. If Kentucky makes the financial commitment to hiring good assistants, Stoops won’t have a problem building a solid staff of proven options. However, it’s never easy for a coach at his first job to piece together a staff, especially since he doesn’t have any ties to the SEC. It’s not a huge negative but something to watch as Stoops builds his coaching staff.
 

Final Analysis and Grade

Make no mistake: Kentucky isn’t an easy job. However, it seems the Wildcats made the right hire in picking up Stoops. The 45-year-old Ohio native is inheriting a roster that has some promising pieces on offense but needs a lot of work on the defensive side. Stoops is a high energy guy, which should help spark some interest in the fanbase and on the recruiting trail for Kentucky. The biggest question for the Wildcats will be picking an offensive scheme that’s a little outside of the box and not a pro-style approach. Although that type of offense could work at Kentucky, Stoops needs pick a coordinator that can build a run or pass-first approach. Don’t expect Stoops to be a miracle worker, but he should turn the Wildcats into a consistent bowl team.  

Grade: B-
 

Related College Football Content

SEC 2012 Recap and Awards
What Gene Chizik's New Book Should Be Called

Teaser:
<p> Grading Kentucky Football's Hire of Coach Mark Stoops</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 05:47
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
Path: /college-football/11-coaches-replace-fired-tom-obrien-nc-state
Body:

Even though Tom O'Brien went 24-14 in his last three seasons at NC State, the school decided to make a change after Saturday's win against Boston College. O'Brien was a steady coach but couldn't elevate the program to the next level. NC State wants to compete with Florida State and Clemson more frequently, which means a coaching change had to be made to raise the level of the program.

11 Coaching Candidates to Replace Tom O'Brien at NC State

Dave Clawson, head coach, Bowling Green – Clawson took a lot of heat for Tennessee’s struggles on offense in 2008, but he is a proven head coach at three different stops. The New York native went 29-29 in five seasons at Fordham (1999-2003), which also included a trip to the FCS playoffs in 2002. Clawson jumped to Richmond in 2004 and led the Spiders to two playoff appearances, including an 11-3 mark in 2007. After the failed season at Tennessee, Clawson landed at Bowling Green and went 7-6 in his debut year and 8-4 in 2012.

 

Dave Doeren, head coach, Northern Illinois – Even though Doeren has spent his career coaching defense, his Northern Illinois’ teams the last two years have ranked among the nation’s best. Doeren is only 40 years old, so he doesn’t have a ton of experience from other coaching stops. He spent two seasons at Montana (2000-01), before moving to Kansas in 2002. After a couple of seasons in Lawrence, Doeren took over as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator in 2006 and held that position until 2010, when he became Northern Illinois’ head coach. Doeren inherited a good situation in DeKalb, but he’s also done a good job of putting his own stamp on the program. And despite his defensive background, Doeren would likely run an uptempo, spread offense at his next stop.

 

Darrell Hazell, head coach, Kent State – Just like Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren, Hazell has done a terrific job in a short amount of time at Kent State and is due for a promotion to a BCS program. Hazell inherited a program that had not won more than five games in the four seasons prior to his arrival and has quickly turned Kent State into a MAC title contender. Hazell is 16-8 in two seasons with the Golden Flashes, which includes a huge road win over Rutgers in 2012. Although this is his first head coaching gig, Hazell has an impressive resume from stops at Western Michigan, Army, West Virginia, Rutgers and Ohio State.

 

Mark Hudspeth, head coach, Louisiana-Lafayette – Hudspeth has quietly led Louisiana-Lafayette to back-to-back bowl games and has a 16-8 mark in two seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Before his current job, Hudspeth was 66-21 in seven years as the head coach at North Alabama. The Mississippi native has some SEC experience, working for two seasons under Dan Mullen at Mississippi State. Although Hudspeth isn’t a big-name hire and doesn’t have experience in the ACC, he’s a high-energy guy and has proven to be a successful coach in two years with the Ragin’ Cajuns.

 

Butch Jones, head coach, Cincinnati – Jones has been in the rumor mill quite a bit over the last few weeks, especially with the open vacancy at Kentucky. Considering the uncertainty over Cincinnati’s future conference and long-term stability in the Big East, it’s no surprise Jones could be looking to leave for the Big Ten or SEC. Jones followed up Brian Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, recording a 27-13 mark in three seasons with the Chippewas and a 22-14 record with the Bearcats. Another reason for Jones to be targeted by NC State? His background on offense, which includes a stint as Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator and at West Virginia as a wide receivers coach.

 

Pete Lembo, head coach, Ball State – Lembo isn’t a big name but has been a successful head coach at three different stops. In five seasons with Lehigh, he recorded a 44-14 record and made two appearances in the FCS playoffs. Lembo spent the next five years at Elon and compiled a 35-22 mark and one trip to the FCS playoffs. In two seasons at Ball State, Lembo is 14-9 and has the Cardinals poised to make their first bowl appearance since the 2008 season. Lembo doesn't have any experience in the ACC but is track record suggests he can win anywhere in college football.

 

Gus Malzahn, head coach, Arkansas State – Although Malzahn has spent most of his coaching career in Arkansas, his up-tempo, high-scoring offense would work anywhere in the nation. Malzahn has only been a head coach on the collegiate level for one season and is 8-3 with a chance to win the Sun Belt title on Saturday for Arkansas State. Considering the lack of head coaching experience on the FBS level, there’s certainly some risk with Malzahn. However, his exciting offense would ignite the fanbase, as well as help to recruit elite quarterbacks and receiving talent to Raleigh.

 

Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson – After O’Brien’s departure, Morris was one of the first names to circulate through the rumor mill in Raleigh. Although the Texas native has no collegiate head coaching experience, he has run some of the nation’s best offenses at Tulsa and Clemson. Morris also has strong recruiting ties to Texas, especially after spending over 10 years as a head coach on the high school level. Morris is an unknown commodity when it comes to being a head coach but there’s also a lot to like on his resume.

 

Bobby Petrino, former Arkansas head coach – If NC State really wants to make a splash, how about making a run at Petrino? Although the messy end to his tenure at Arkansas is a huge negative, he’s ready to work and can probably come at a discounted price. Petrino was 34-17 in four seasons at Arkansas and recorded a 41-9 mark in four years at Louisville. Although the off-the-field incident in Fayetteville is a concern, Petrino is an instant impact hire and would help NC State ignite its fanbase, especially with an offense that averaged over 35 points a game last season.

 

Mark Stoops, defensive coordinator, Florida State – Stoops’ name has popped up in connection with the Kentucky job, and it’s only a matter of time before he takes over a BCS program. Stoops does not have any head coaching experience but has stops as an assistant at Wyoming, South Florida, Houston, Miami and Arizona. Stoops has quickly resurrected Florida State’s defense back among the best in the ACC over the last three years.

 

Willie Taggart, head coach, Western Kentucky – Taggart’s stock has been on the rise over the last few seasons and is due for a shot to run a BCS program. In three seasons with the Hilltoppers, Taggart is 16-20 and has back-to-back winning records. In addition to his solid run as Western Kentucky’s head coach, Taggart spent three seasons as an assistant under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Taggart is young, energetic and has strong recruiting ties to Florida, which seems to describe what NC State needs in its next head coach.  

Teaser:
<p> 11 Coaches to Replace Fired Tom O'Brien at NC State</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/acc-2012-season-recap-and-awards
Body:

Chalk up 2012 as a year to forget for fans of the ACC. Florida State and Clemson were easily the class of the conference, but in-state SEC rivals handled both teams last Saturday. The Coastal had three teams finish at 5-3 in conference play, with Georgia Tech representing the division in Charlotte. With Miami and North Carolina banned from postseason play, the Yellow Jackets at 6-6 are just one win away from a BCS bowl. Maryland showed signs of progress in Randy Edsall’s second year, but quarterback injuries doomed its season. Virginia Tech was one of college football’s top disappointments, finishing 6-6 after having preseason top-15 expectations.

ACC Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson – It’s a close call between Boyd and Giovani Bernard for the No. 1 spot. However, a slight edge goes to Boyd, despite closing out the season with a lackluster performance against South Carolina. The junior quarterback threw for 34 touchdowns and 3,550 yards this year and added 492 yards and nine scores on the ground.
 

2. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Despite dealing with a knee injury earlier this year, Bernard rushed for 1,228 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with catching 47 passes for 490 yards and five scores. Bernard rushed for 262 yards and one touchdown in a 48-34 win over Virginia Tech.
 

3. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State – While Boyd and Bernard are clearly the No. 1 and No. 2 players in this category, it’s really anyone’s guess for the third spot. Even though Manuel was inconsistent at times and struggled against Florida, the senior gets the nod over Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
 

ACC Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State – It’s really a tossup between Werner and Carradine for the top spot. We’ll give a slight edge to Werner, who finished with 13 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble.
 

2. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State – If Werner is the No. 1 player at this spot, Carradine is really 1b. The senior led the team with 80 tackles and finished just behind Bjoern Werner with 13 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks this year. Unfortunately for Carradine, he suffered a torn ACL in Saturday’s loss to Florida.


3. Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland – Vellano battled injuries late in the season but still finished with 61 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and six sacks.


ACC Coach of the Year Standings

1. Al Golden, Miami – There’s really not a clear No. 1 coach of the year candidate, but we will give a slight edge to Golden. Despite pending NCAA sanctions hanging over the program, Miami finished 7-5 with a host of young players receiving significant snaps. The Hurricanes could be a top 25-team in 2013.


2. David Cutcliffe, Duke – Even though the Blue Devils tailed off at the end of 2012, Cutcliffe has this program back in a bowl for the first time since 1994.


3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina – Just like Al Golden, Fedora did a good job of keeping his team on track with NCAA issues circulating over the program. Fedora went 8-4 overall and should have the Tar Heels in the thick of the Coastal race in 2013.


10 Things We Learned/What's Next in the ACC

1. Clemson is the ACC’s frontrunner in 2013
Yes, it’s a little early to talk about 2013, but Clemson should be the ACC’s No. 1 team next season. The Tigers lost only one game in conference play this year, which happened to be a 49-37 shootout defeat to the ACC’s No. 1 team – Florida State. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver DeAndre Hopkins are considering an early entry into the NFL Draft but most expect Boyd will return to Clemson next season. Even if Hopkins leaves, the Tigers have plenty of depth and talent at receiver. The defense should be more comfortable in the second year under coordinator Brent Venables but needs to replace the production from departing seniors Malliciah Goodman, Xavier Brewer and Rashard Hall.

2. Miami is getting better…but awaits NCAA sanctions
Winning 13 games over the last two years certainly isn’t going to invoke memories of Miami’s national title seasons, but the Hurricanes are moving back in the right direction under Al Golden. With pending NCAA sanctions, Miami decided to self-impose a bowl ban for the second consecutive season. However, the Hurricanes return nearly everyone on the two-deep for next season and despite any scholarship limitations, should be the favorite to win the Coastal in 2013. Miami’s defense was a huge liability but has to be better with another offseason to jell and work under coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. Al Golden has Miami moving in the right direction and with the uncertainty surrounding the program, his name will pop up with open jobs across the nation. Assuming Golden returns next year, the Hurricanes should take another step forward in 2013.

3. Virginia Tech needs a spark on offense
Considering the expectations that surrounded this team in the preseason, the Hokies have to be one of college football’s top 10 disappointments this season. A variety of reasons are to blame, but an offense that failed to show progress from 2011 is the primary culprit. Quarterback Logan Thomas had to deal with a revamped offensive line and receiving corps and tossed four more interceptions on fewer passing attempts than last season. The junior completed only 52.6 percent of his throws and was forced to led the team in rushing without a running back emerging as a clear No. 1 option. Coordinator Bryan Stinespring and quarterback coach Mike O’Cain deserve their share of criticism, and both coaches have to find some answers this offseason. An offense doesn’t have to have flash to be effective, but it seems Virginia Tech’s attack needs some spice. Whether it’s the scheme, offensive line, receiving corps, running backs or Thomas, every unit needs to be thoroughly evaluated before spring practice.

4. David Cutcliffe has Duke on the right track
It’s hard for the Blue Devils to be a yearly contender for the Coastal Division crown, but there’s no reason why Duke can’t get to 6-6 or 7-5 most seasons. Credit David Cutcliffe and his staff for getting the Blue Devils over the hump this year, as Duke will make its first bowl appearance since 1994. Although the Blue Devils tailed off at the end of the year, they knocked off in-state rivals North Carolina and Wake Forest, along with a huge blowout victory over Virginia. The rest of the Coastal Division should be better next year, and Duke must replace quarterback Sean Renfree and record-setting receiver Conner Vernon. However, it seems Cutcliffe has developed some depth in the program, which should keep the Blue Devils right in the mix for a bowl bid in 2013.

5. Paul Johnson’s No. 1 offseason priority is the defense
The Yellow Jackets have no reason to apologize for making the ACC Championship with a 6-6 record. Although the Coastal Division was down this season and Miami and North Carolina’s self-imposed bowl ban helped, the Yellow Jackets won their last four ACC games to make it to Charlotte. While the late-season surge was good enough to represent the Coastal in the title game, this team has a lot of work to do to repeat this feat in 2013. After firing defensive coordinator Al Groh earlier this season, Georgia Tech didn’t make much progress on that side of the ball the rest of the year. The Yellow Jackets gave up at least 40 points in three out of their final five games. With an offense that returns nearly everyone next season, Georgia Tech has to fix its defense to push for seven or eight wins in 2013. Luckily for Johnson, there’s some good talent returning in the linebacking corps, but the defensive line will need some work. Along with finding the right coordinator, Georgia Tech needs to decide if the 3-4 scheme needs to stay, or a move back to the 4-3 is the better solution.

6. Maryland should be a bowl team in 2013
Just as we did with the Clemson projection above, it’s important to caution this is a very early pick and a lot could change before 2013. However, after a disastrous 2011 season, the Terrapins showed some signs of life in 2012. Despite losing four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries, Maryland doubled its win total from last season and had three conference losses by a touchdown or less. With C.J. Brown or Perry Hills back under center next season, along the return of standout sophomore receiver Stefon Diggs, the Terrapins should easily improve on offense next year. The defense will miss tackle Joe Vellano but most of the unit will return intact for 2013.

7. 7-5 won’t get it done at NC State
Even though Tom O’Brien led NC State to three consecutive bowl games, it wasn’t enough to save his job. The veteran coach’s dismissal came as a surprise to some, but it’s clear NC State wants to find a coach that can elevate the program to the next level. While O’Brien did a lot of good things in Raleigh, the school wants to push Clemson and Florida State for the Atlantic title on a consistent basis. Although it won’t be easy to knock off the Seminoles every year, this program has the resources to compete for the division title. And that’s the message athletic director Debbie Yow sent when she decided to part ways with O’Brien. Yes, O’Brien had turned NC State into a consistent winner but going 7-5 and 8-4 wasn’t good enough. It’s a risky move to fire a coach that went 24-14 over the last three years. However, Yow’s message is clear: Mediocrity won’t be tolerated at NC State.

8. The ACC needs an image boost
There’s really no way to positively spin the 2012 season for the ACC. Florida State held early national championship hopes but was knocked off by a NC State team that finished 7-5 and was dominated by Florida in the season finale. Virginia Tech – a team picked by most to win the Coastal and finish in the top 25 – went 6-6 and was 0-2 against teams from the Big East. Need more bad news? Georgia Tech (representing the Coastal Division in the title game) lost to MTSU and was clobbered 41-17 by BYU. Unless there’s a change after the bowl games, the ACC will have just two teams finish in the top 25. The conference will also struggle to fill out its bowl allotment, largely due to Miami and North Carolina’s postseason sanctions. However, six teams will qualify for bowl games and at least two will have just six wins. With Florida State losing some key pieces, it’s up to Clemson to give the ACC a national title contender in 2013.

9. Florida State’s QB battle will be one of the most intriguing ones to watch this spring
The Seminoles will suffer some key departures on defense but has a solid offensive line and playmakers at receiver and running back returning for 2013. However, for Florida State to contend for a top-10 finish next season, the quarterback battle has to get sorted out in a hurry this spring. Sophomore Clint Trickett will be the early frontrunner to replace EJ Manuel, but the job is far from settled. Top recruit Jameis Winston and Jacob Coker are expected to push Trickett in the spring but this is a battle that could wage into fall practice. If Florida State can get steady production from whichever quarterback wins the job, the Seminoles should easily push for 10 victories once again in 2013.

10. A new direction at Boston College
With a 6-18 mark in his last two years in Chestnut Hill, it’s clear it was time for Boston College and coach Frank Spaziani to part ways. Spaziani led the program to back-to-back bowl games in 2009 and 2010, but he wasn’t the right coach to lead Boston College in 2013 and beyond. This is a key hire for new athletic director Brad Bates, as the Eagles can’t afford to fall far behind in the 14-team ACC. There should be plenty of interest in this job, and the right coach should be able to turn Boston College back into a consistent bowl team. After two awful seasons, Bates needs to get someone who can make an instant impact in 2013, as well as build a successful program for the long haul.  

Related College Football Content

SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards
Big Ten 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Pac-12 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Teaser:
<p> ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 05:19

Pages