ACC: Pac-12

Coaches get away with golf

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
1:30
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In more than 30 years of coaching, Steve Spurrier has never lost a round of golf to one of his players. New challengers are apt to dismiss the claim, but Spurrier is happy to provide witness accounts of each of his triumphs. It's a record he takes seriously.

Of course, opportunities to hit the tees at all are getting harder to come by for coaches. The recruiting calendar has grown more cumbersome, the demands of the job more strenuous, and the number of coaches regularly playing golf has diminished as a result. Even Spurrier, the elder statesmen of the coaching ranks on both the football field and the golf course, doesn't get out quite as much as he used to. By the end of July, his clubs are already gathering dust.

But as the demands of the job increase, the importance of finding an escape is even more crucial, Spurrier said. So he has kept golf a priority during those few months every year when NCAA rules prevent him from working with his players.

For the rest of David M. Hale's story about why golf is a favorite offseason activity for football coaches, click here. And to find out what a few college football coaches had to say about playing golf with players and other coaches, their best rounds, their favorite courses and more, click here.

Position U: Offensive line

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
11:45
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video
Who really deserves to claim the title of “Offensive Line U” for the 2000s?

OFFENSIVE LINE
1. Alabama (242 points): Nick Saban (whose first season at Alabama was 2007) has been the Crimson Tide’s coach for only half of the time period that we examined. But that’s when nearly all of the noteworthy accomplishments have occurred in the 2000s for the Tide’s offensive line: three national awards, seven All-America picks, 11 all-conference selections, four first-round picks and eight linemen drafted. Saban teams win by dominating the line of scrimmage, and the offensive line results reflect why Alabama has been so successful.

Award winners: Andre Smith, Outland (2008); Barrett Jones, Outland (2011), Rimington (2012).
Consensus All-Americans: Antoine Caldwell (2008), Andre Smith (2008), Mike Johnson (2009), Barrett Jones (2011, 2012), Chance Warmack (2012), Cyrus Kouandjio (2013).
First-team all-conference: Paul Hogan (2000), Marico Portis (2002), Wesley Britt (2002, 2003, 2004), Andre Smith (2007, 2008), Antoine Caldwell (2008), Mike Johnson (2009), James Carpenter (2010), Barrett Jones (2011, 2012), William Vlachos (2011), Chance Warmack (2012), D.J. Fluker (2012), Cyrus Kouandjio (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Andre Smith (2009), James Carpenter (2011), Chance Warmack (2013), D.J. Fluker (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Justin Smiley (Round 2, 2004), Evan Mathis (Round 3, 2005), Antoine Caldwell (Round 3, 2009), Mike Johnson (Round 3, 2010), Barrett Jones (Round 4, 2013), Cyrus Kouandjio (Round 2, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Shawn Draper (Round 5, 2001), Wesley Britt (Round 5, 2005),

2. Michigan (238 points): If any program was going to threaten Alabama’s claim on the top spot, it was Michigan, which has enjoyed a ridiculous run of success along the offensive line. Four first-round picks (Jeff Backus, Steve Hutchinson, Jake Long and Taylor Lewan) include one (Long) who was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Throw in five consensus All-Americans, two national award winners and 21 All-Big Ten selections. The 2000s were truly a great time to be a Michigan offensive lineman.

Award winners: David Baas, Rimington (2004); David Molk, Rimington (2011).
Consensus All-Americans: Steve Hutchinson (2000), David Baas (2004), Jake Long (2006, 2007), David Molk (2011).
First-team all-conference: Steve Hutchinson (2000), Jeff Backus (2000), Jonathan Goodwin (2001), David Baas (2002, 2003, 2004), Tony Pape (2002, 2003), Matt Lentz (2004, 2005), Adam Stenavich (2004, 2005), Adam Kraus (2006, 2007), Jake Long (2006, 2007), David Molk (2010, 2011), Taylor Lewan (2012, 2013), Patrick Omameh (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Steve Hutchinson (2001), Jeff Backus (2001), Jake Long (2008), Taylor Lewan (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Maurice Williams (Round 2, 2001), David Baas (Round 2, 2005), Michael Schofield (Round 3, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jonathan Goodwin (Round 5, 2002), Tony Pape (Round 7, 2004), Stephen Schilling (Round 6, 2011), David Molk (Round 7, 2012).

3. Wisconsin (192 points): Although Wisconsin placed well behind the juggernauts from Alabama and Michigan, the Badgers have a ton to brag about. Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi were both Outland Trophy winners, consensus All-Americans and first-round draft picks. In fact, Wisconsin had a total of 14 offensive linemen drafted in the 2000s, four of whom went in the first round (with Kevin Zeitler and Travis Frederick joining Thomas and Carimi).

Award winners: Joe Thomas, Outland (2006); Gabe Carimi, Outland (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: Joe Thomas (2006), Gabe Carimi (2010).
First-team all-conference: Casey Rabach (2000), Dan Buenning (2004), Joe Thomas (2005, 2006), Marcus Coleman (2007), Gabe Carimi (2009, 2010), John Moffitt (2009, 2010), Peter Konz (2011), Josh Oglesby (2011), Kevin Zeitler (2011), Travis Frederick (2012), Rick Wagner (2012), Ryan Groy (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Joe Thomas (2007), Gabe Carimi (2011), Kevin Zeitler (2012), Travis Frederick (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Casey Rabach (Round 3, 2001), Bill Ferrario (Round 4, 2001), Al Johnson (Round 2, 2003), Dan Buenning (Round 4, 2005), Kraig Urbik (Round 3, 2009), John Moffitt (Round 3, 2011), Peter Konz (Round 2, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Ben Johnson (Round 7, 2003), Bill Nagy (Round 7, 2011), Ricky Wagner (Round 5, 2013).

4. Oklahoma (186 points): With four first-round picks and four consensus All-America selections, Oklahoma has had a great run along the offensive line in the 2000s. And the Sooners have been consistent throughout that time period, placing at least one lineman on the all-conference team in every season except 2000 and 2002. In some years, there were as many as three on the all-conference first team.

Award winners: Jammal Brown, Outland (2004).
Consensus All-Americans: Jammal Brown (2004), Duke Robinson (2007, 2008), Trent Williams (2009).
First-team all-conference: Frank Romero (2001), Jammal Brown (2003, 2004), Vince Carter (2003, 2004), Davin Joseph (2005), Chris Messner (2006), Duke Robinson (2007, 2008), Phil Loadholt (2008), Trent Williams (2008, 2009), Eric Mensik (2010), Gabe Ikard (2011, 2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jammal Brown (2005), Davin Joseph (2006), Trent Williams (2009), Lane Johnson (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Chris Chester (Round 2, 2006), Phil Loadholt (Round 2, 2009), Donald Stephenson (Round 3, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Wes Sims (Round 6, 2005), Duke Robinson (2009).

5. USC (182 points): Considering how much success it experienced in the early and mid-2000s, it seems strange that USC didn’t have a first-round offensive lineman until Sam Baker in 2008 (the first of three, as Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil have since joined him). Nonetheless, the Trojans churned out six second-round picks, 17 all-conference linemen and a trio of All-Americans, so there has been plenty of acclaim for the group in the 2000s.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Jacob Rogers (2003), Deuce Lutui (2005), Sam Baker (2006).
First-team all-conference: Jacob Rogers (2002, 2003), Norm Katnik (2003), Ryan Kalil (2005, 2006), Deuce Lutui (2005), Sam Baker (2005, 2006, 2007), Chilo Rachal (2007), Kristopher O’Dowd (2008), Jeff Byer (2009), Charles Brown (2009), Tyron Smith (2010), Matt Kalil (2011), Khaled Holmes (2012), Marcus Martin (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Sam Baker (2008), Tyron Smith (2011), Matt Kalil (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Jacob Rogers (Round 2, 2004), Winston Justice (Round 2, 2006), Deuce Lutui (Round 2, 2006), Ryan Kalil (Round 2, 2007), Chilo Rachal (Round 2, 2008), Charles Brown (Round 2, 2010), Khaled Holmes (Round 4, 2013), Marcus Martin (Round 3, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Fred Matua (Round 7, 2006).

6. Florida State (166 points): FSU has only one first-round draft pick and one national award winner (Bryan Stork, who won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center last season) along the offensive line in the 2000s. But with three All-Americans and 13 all-conference selections in the 2000s, the Seminoles still rank among the nation’s better programs for linemen.

Award winners: Bryan Stork, Rimington (2013).
Consensus All-Americans: Alex Barron (2003, 2004), Rodney Hudson (2010), Bryan Stork (2013).
First-team all-conference: Justin Amman (2000), Char-ron Dorsey (2000), Brett Williams (2001, 2002), Montrae Holland (2002), Alex Barron (2003, 2004), Rodney Hudson (2008, 2009, 2010), Bryan Stork (2013), Tre Jackson (2013), Cameron Erving (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Alex Barron (2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Montrae Holland (Round 4, 2003), Brett Williams (Round 4, 2003), Ray Willis (Round 4, 2005), Mario Henderson (Round 3, 2007), Rodney Hudson (Round 2, 2011), Menelik Watson (Round 2, 2013), Bryan Stork (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Char-ron Dorsey (Round 7, 2001), Milford Brown (Round 6, 2002), Todd Williams (Round 7, 2003), Andrew Datko (Round 7, 2012), Zebrie Sanders (Round 5, 2012).

7. Miami (158 points): The Hurricanes were nearly unstoppable at the turn of the century, thanks in large part to a supremely talented offensive line. Between 2000 and 2002, Miami had eight first-team all-conference players, two All-Americans and two national award winners. The Hurricanes have been successful along the line here and there since then, but their spot in the top 10 is largely because of those outstanding days in the early 2000s.

Award winners: Brett Romberg, Rimington (2002), Bryant McKinnie, Outland (2001).
Consensus All-Americans: Bryant McKinnie (2001), Brett Romberg (2002).
First-team all-conference: Joaquin Gonzalez (2000, 2001), Bryant McKinnie (2000, 2001), Martin Bibla (2001), Brett Romberg (2001, 2002), Sherko Haji-Rasouli (2002), Eric Winston (2003, 2005), Jason Fox (2009), Brandon Washington (2010).
NFL first-round draft picks: Bryant McKinnie (2002), Vernon Carey (2004).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Martin Bibla (Round 4, 2002), Rashad Butler (Round 3, 2006), Eric Winston (Round 3, 2006), Jason Fox (Round 4, 2010), Orlando Franklin (Round 2, 2011), Brandon Linder (Round 3, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Joaquin Gonzalex (Round 7, 2002), Carlos Joseph (Round 7, 2004), Chris Myers (Round 6, 2005), Brandon Washington (Round 6, 2012), Seantrel Henderson (Round 7, 2014).

8. Texas (150 points): Texas would have ranked higher on this list had we compiled it a few years ago. The Longhorns haven’t had a first-team all-conference pick or a draft pick since 2008, nor a consensus All-American since 2006. They were good enough in the early 2000s that the Longhorns still cracked the top 10, but Texas needs to turn it around under Charlie Strong if it intends to stay there over the next few years.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Leonard Davis (2000), Mike Williams (2001), Derrick Dockery (2002), Jonathan Scott (2005), Justin Blalock (2006).
First-team all-conference: Leonard Davis (2000), Mike Williams (2001), Derrick Dockery (2002), Tillman Holloway (2003), Justin Blalock (2004, 2005, 2006), Jonathan Scott (2004, 2005), Will Allen (2005), Kasey Studdard (2006), Tony Hills (2007), Adam Ulatoski (2008).
NFL first-round draft picks: Leonard Davis (2001), Mike Williams (2002).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Derrick Dockery (Round 3, 2003), Justin Blalock (Round 2, 2007), Tony Hills (Round 4, 2008).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Jonathan Scott (Round 5, 2006), Kasey Studdard (Round 6, 2007).

T-9. Iowa (144 points): No. 2 overall pick Robert Gallery, who won the 2003 Outland Trophy and was an All-American that season and a two-time all-conference pick, is the big point winner for Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have produced a considerable number of productive offensive linemen. They can claim 13 drafted offensive linemen in the 2000s, including three first-rounders (Gallery, Bryan Bulaga and Riley Reiff).

Award winners: Robert Gallery, Outland (2003).
Consensus All-Americans: Eric Steinbach (2002), Robert Gallery (2003).
First-team all-conference: Eric Steinbach (2001, 2002), Robert Gallery (2002, 2003), Bruce Nelson (2002), Mike Jones (2006), Seth Olson (2008), Bryan Bulaga (2009), Dace Richardson (2009), Riley Reiff (2011), Brandon Scherff (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Robert Gallery (2004), Bryan Bulaga (2010), Riley Reiff (2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Eric Steinbach (Round 2, 2003), Bruce Nelson (Round 2, 2003), Marshal Yanda (Round 3, 2007), Seth Olsen (Round 4, 2009).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Ben Sobieski (Round 5, 2003), Pete McMahon (Round 6, 2005), Mike Elgin (Round 7, 2007), Kyle Calloway (Round 7, 2010), Julian Vandervelde (Round 5, 2011), Adam Gettis (Round 5, 2012).

T-9. Ohio State (144 points): With 13 draft picks -- but just one first-rounder, Nick Mangold -- and 14 all-conference picks, Ohio State built a solid résumé for offensive linemen in the 2000s. Center LeCharles Bentley, a Rimington Trophy winner, is the only All-American, but the Buckeyes have turned out plenty of outstanding players along the line.

Award winners: LeCharles Bentley, Rimington (2001).
Consensus All-Americans: LeCharles Bentley (2001).
First-team all-conference: LeCharles Bentley (2001), Tyson Walter (2001), Alex Stepanovich (2003), Rob Sims (2005), Doug Datish (2006), T.J. Downing (2006), Kirk Barton (2007), Alex Boone (2008), Justin Boren (2009, 2010), Mike Adams (2010), Mike Brewster (2010), Andrew Norwell (2012), Corey Linsley (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Nick Mangold (2006).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: LeCharles Bentley (Round 2, 2002), Alex Stepanovich (Round 4, 2004), Rob Sims (Round 4, 2006), Mike Adams (Round 2, 2012), Jack Mewhort (Round 2, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tyson Walter (Round 6, 2002), Shane Olivea (Round 7, 2004), Adrien Clarke (Round 7, 2004), Doug Datish (Round 6, 2007), Kirk Barton (Round 7, 2008), Reid Fragel (Round 7, 2013), Corey Linsley (Round 5, 2014).

REST OF "OFFENSIVE LINE U" RANKINGS
134 – Stanford; 132 – Florida; 124 – TCU; 116 – Arkansas; 112 – Auburn; 108 – Louisville; 104 – Penn State, Utah; 98 – California; 96 – Texas A&M; 94 – Boston College, LSU; 92 – Ole Miss; 90 – Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia; 88 – Colorado; 84 – Georgia Tech; 82 – Georgia, Oklahoma State; 80 – Nebraska; 76 – Arizona State, Pittsburgh; 74 – Virginia Tech; 72 – Clemson, Oregon; 70 – Tennessee; 66 – Baylor; 58 – BYU, North Carolina; 56 – Syracuse; 54 – Maryland, Wake Forest; 50 – Illinois, Rutgers; 48 – Kansas State, Oregon State; 46 – Notre Dame; 44 – Missouri; 38 – Mississippi State; 36 – Texas Tech; 34 – Washington State; 32 – Washington; 30 – Purdue; 28 – Vanderbilt; 24 – NC State, UCLA; 18 – Kansas, Michigan State; 16 – Iowa State, Kentucky; 14 – Arizona; 12 – Indiana; 10 – Northwestern; 10 – South Carolina; 8 – Duke
The SEC's long-awaited future schedule model came out Sunday, and it looks a lot like its predecessor. The league maintained an eight-game league schedule with longstanding division crossover games, rather than going to nine league games. Beginning in 2016, the conference will require each member to play one nonconference game against a team from a power conference on an annual basis. Teams will continue to be allowed to schedule FCS opponents.

Reporters Ted Miller and Adam Rittenberg weigh in on the SEC's schedule structure.

Ted Miller: Well, Adam, you knew it was coming. We live in an age when if you want to do something sneaky and con the public, you claim you are doing the opposite of your true intent. And then repeat it over and over again until some believe it really is opposite day.

Even we fall for it. Our ESPN.com headline says, "Schedule strength is SEC priority," when the opposite is actually the truth.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe SEC is sticking with an eight-game league schedule.
It's irrelevant outside of the SEC whether the conference retained its "longstanding non-divisional rivalries." It's also irrelevant that the SEC insists it will continue to upgrade its nonconference schedule.

The only thing that matters is the SEC's massive con that games the system as we move toward the College Football Playoff: The SEC will maintain its eight-game conference schedule when other major conferences are -- or are planning to -- play nine conference games.

That is the only thing that matters, and this is nothing more than the SEC giving itself an annual advantage by deciding that it will eliminate seven losses from its standings.

This is not regional bias, folks. This is not SEC jealousy. This is something called "math."

With an eight-game SEC schedule, 5-7 teams become 6-6 teams. And 8-4 teams become 9-3 teams. And that 11-1 team that beat the 9-3 team that should really be 8-4 will look better than the 11-1 team in the Big 12, Pac-12 or Big Ten that beat an 8-4 team who would be 9-3 in the SEC.

Those sentences might glaze over many eyes and evoke a "Huh?" But they are the very thing that won the day among SEC leaders when it was decided to duck the mathematical realities of a nine-game conference schedule.

I'll now take a breath. Adam, what do you think?

Adam Rittenberg: It makes me less excited about the playoff, for starters. Maybe I'm na´ve, but I saw the playoff, with its purported emphasis on schedule strength, as the great equalizer in scheduling. Maybe it still will be, but I have my doubts.

You cover a league (Pac-12) that for years has employed the most challenging schedule model in the country: nine league games plus marquee nonconference contests. I cover a league (Big Ten) that has traditionally resided in cupcake city. But three factors -- the playoff, an expanded conference and an upcoming TV contract -- triggered the Big Ten to adopt a nine-game league schedule, no more FCS opponents in the near future and stronger nonleague opponents. This is good for the fans. Expansion might remain a sore subject for some, but the idea of playing each other more, not less, is a good one.

If every league had the same model -- nine league games, at least one marquee nonleague game, a championship game -- it would create a degree of equity, produce more appealing games for fans and allow the selection committee to evaluate teams with similar profiles.

This SEC chest-puffing about the requirement to schedule one nonleague game against an opponent from a power conference is the most laughable part of Sunday's announcement. SEC teams already do this, just like those from the Big Ten, Pac-12 and so on. What really changes here? Can I still see SEC teams playing FCS teams in November? OK, cool, just checking. Rejoice, SEC fans.

Now fast-forward to December 2016, and the selection committee is choosing between a two-loss Pac-12 or Big Ten champion, which has played nine league games plus a championship game, and a one-loss, second-place SEC team with eight league games and no championship game. If the SEC team is chosen, it invalidates the whole system. Here's hoping the committee makes the right call.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Ivory, Jonathan Allen
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama crushed FCS foe Chattanooga in 2013; FCS Western Carolina is on tap in 2014.
Perhaps then, we'll see the SEC align at nine.

But maybe this has the opposite effect: leagues backing away from playing more conference games. The ACC has a similar decision ahead.

What do you think comes next?

Miller: Know what would be great? If SEC fans would realize they are being cheated, just as much as the rest of college football. Why would Alabama fans rather watch a game against a Sun Belt team more often than, say, Georgia?

It would be great if they demanded a better schedule, one that went further toward determining the best teams in the SEC. In a 14-team league, how can anyone insist playing eight conference games rather than nine is better and more equitable?

Of course, that won't happen. As you and I have seen through the years, it's mostly "my conference, wrong or right" in the SEC. The typical SEC fan response when their conference is criticized ranges from "Well, your conference stinks!" to "We owned the BCS!" Folks down South tend to defensively circle the wagons instead of aspire to some objective self-analysis, though you could reasonably argue that is a powerful syndrome operating throughout college football.

Part of that defensiveness is there is no real rebuttal. This isn't an argument. It's an empirical truth that the SEC is gaming the system by playing eight conference games.

So as to what actually might come next, my thought is the CFP selection committee needs to make a stand: An eight-game conference schedule should automatically operate as a demerit as it falsely elevates the apparent strength of a conference.

What do you think?

Rittenberg: We're all wondering about the committee's collective guts, especially when it squares off against the SEC monolith. That certainly would be a way to show the group means business. Because it's not about whether the Big Ten stinks, as hundreds of SEC fans told me Sunday night on Twitter. Yes, the Big Ten stinks, but it's not a Big Ten-SEC debate. It's about the SEC living in the playoff realm alongside the Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC.

While I'm not surprised by the SEC fan sensitivity to anyone who dares to critique their beloved league, how many other fan bases would actually want this? Don't fans want more appealing matchups? I know Big Ten fans want to play other league teams more, not less. They want more rivalry games. They want to see marquee nonleague contests. I'm guessing Pac-12 fans feel the same way.

The ACC's decision will be fascinating. Most of the coaches, like their colleagues in every other league, want to stay at eight. The ADs seem to be leaning toward nine. We could have four leagues playing nine league games and one playing eight.

The SEC would be on its own. Perhaps that's exactly what it wants.

Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2014

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
12:50
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The BCS era ended with No. 1 Florida State ending the SEC's streak of seven consecutive BCS national championships Monday night, winning its first national title since 1999 with a 34-31 victory over No. 2 Auburn in the VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl.

With Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and a plethora of starters returning this coming season, FSU will be the team to beat again in 2014. FSU is the No. 1 team in the first edition of the 2014 Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 poll.

The Seminoles will be a popular choice to win back-to-back national titles in 2014, the first season of college football's new four-team playoff.

Click here to view the full Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 poll.

Click here Insider to see how all of the schools in the Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 are faring in recruiting for the Class of 2014.
No. 17 UCLA beat Virginia Tech 42-12 on Tuesday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. A few quick hits:

It was over when: Sensational true freshman linebacker Myles Jack of UCLA intercepted a Mark Leal pass and pranced 24 yards for a pick-six with 13:22 to play in the fourth quarter to give the Bruins a 28-10 lead. It came on the heels of 12-play, 85-yard drive that provided breathing room for UCLA and turned up the heat on Leal, the Virginia Tech backup who replaced Logan Thomas after the senior took a big hit from linebacker Jordan Zumwalt in the second quarter.

Game ball goes to: Sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley of UCLA, who rushed for touchdowns of 7 and 86 yards in the first half. Hundley then completed 6 of 6 throws for 80 yards on the Bruins’ 85-yard drive that ended early in the fourth quarter after the Hokies cut the lead to 14-10. Hundley rushed for 161 yards and two scores on 10 carries and completed 16 of 27 passes for 226 and a pair of touchdowns.

Stat of the game: 28. That’s the Bruins’ point total in a span of less than nine minutes in the fourth quarter to bust open a close contest.

Unsung hero: Zumwalt, the senior man in the middle of the UCLA defense. The rookie Jack, who also plays running back, and senior Anthony Barr get most of the publicity among a stellar group of UCLA linebackers. But Zumwalt on Tuesday made an impact as significant as any defender with 10 tackles, an interception in the fourth quarter and the big hit on Thomas.

What UCLA learned: The Bruins continue to progress under second-year coach Jim Mora, reaching 10 wins for the first time since 2005. If Hundley returns for a third season at the helm, UCLA has a potential Heisman candidate next year.

What Virginia Tech learned: The athleticism needs to improve. The Hokies, even if Thomas had remained upright, likely would have succumbed to UCLA’s speed and playmaking ability in the second half.

Instant Analysis: Arizona 42, BC 19

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
4:39
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videoLed by a balanced offense and some big-time run defense, Arizona trounced Boston College 42-19 on Tuesday in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La. A breakdown of how the bowl was won:

It was over when: Arizona drove 80 yards in 12 plays to end the third and start the fourth quarter, capped by B.J. Denker’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Trey Griffey to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 42-6. Boston College would go on to score 13 points in the fourth, but Arizona’s longest touchdown drive of the day sealed the deal.

Game ball goes to: Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey, who rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns, including the first of the day, to pace a balanced Wildcats offense. Carey finished with 1,885 rushing yards in 2013 and surpassed 100 in every game he played.

Stat of the game: 529, the number of total yards Arizona put up on Tuesday. It wasn’t all up to Carey, either, as Denker followed up a frustrating performance against Arizona State with a gem. The senior threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and added 51 yards and another score on the ground.

Unsung hero: Arizona receiver Nate Phillips, who enjoyed a career day with nine catches for 193 yards, breaking the AdvoCare Bowl record for receiving yardage. Not bad at all for a true freshman who’d yet to surpass 100 yards in a game.

What Arizona learned: The Wildcats never trailed and once again showed their potential when they put it all together, just as they did in beating Oregon last month by a 42-16 score. Arizona finishes 8-5 and, despite losing nine senior starters and possibly Carey, takes some much-needed momentum into the offseason.

What Boston College learned: Keeping up with a high-speed Pac-12 offense just wasn’t easy for a Boston College team that got just 75 yards on 26 carries from Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams. Despite the result, BC still enjoyed a solid run and significant turnaround in coach Steve Addazio’s first season.

To watch the trophy presentation of the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, click here.

Flip Week: Oregon

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
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Editor's note: During Week 12, 10 ESPN.com reporters changed conferences to experience college football in unfamiliar territory. Here is what they learned from the experience.

In mid-November, several of the college football reporters at ESPN.com flipped out. We traded conferences, traditions and fan bases for one college football Saturday -- an experiment deemed “Flip Week,” intended to experience and relay different cultures of the sport we all love. I went to Eugene, Ore., for my first Pac-12 game and saw Oregon play Utah. For two days I walked around campus and downtown, trying to soak up all I could about the culture of Oregon football.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the highlights:
Best meal: Breakfast at the Glenwood Restaurant. It was so good I went twice, the first on Friday morning for standard eggs and bacon fare, and then again on game day for a ham, egg and cheese omelet. I went Saturday morning to see how different it was on a game day, and the place was bustling. On Friday morning, I was the first and only person there. On Saturday, I had to wait in line, and the place was filled upstairs and downstairs with both Oregon and Utah fans.

Must-see sight in Eugene: Oregon’s facilities. I’ve never seen anything like it. Anywhere. Ever. It was like a cross between The Matrix (doors that unlock with players’ fingerprints, practice film that is uploaded into each players’ iPad before they’re out of the showers) and a spa at the Ritz Carlton (waterfalls, anyone?). Honestly, one glass door was so clean I almost walked right into it. (My living room, this was not.) They even have their own dentist in there. Everything is built with perfection, with functionality, and with the finest materials in the world.

[+] EnlargeOregon Indoor Tailgate
Heather Dinich/ESPNOregon fans take the tailgate indoors as the Ducks practice facility is open to fans on game days.
Biggest surprise: The Moshofsky Center, aka “The Mo.” What a fantastic indoor tailgate -- not to mention a smart concept. The Ducks’ indoor practice facility is turned into a tailgate on Saturdays. Everyone kept telling me to go check it out, so I did, and I was really expecting just more of what you see in the parking lot, but it was food vendors, a live band, games for the kids, and just rows and rows of fans sitting around and talking like they were old friends and family at a wedding. It really had a special feel to it. I got some food, sat down and immediately struck up a conversation with some Utah fans. Everyone was so welcoming.

Best moment: The duck on the motorcycle. With 4:01 remaining until kickoff against Utah, Doug Koke disappeared behind the shiny visor on his motorcycle helmet, and revved the engine of a pristine black Harley. The larger-than-life duck, sitting behind Koke, wrapped his right arm (wing?) around Koke and with his left gave a webbed wave to the crowd and a fist pump. Just when it seemed as if it couldn’t get any louder, the players emerged from the tunnel, and it was at this very moment that the energy in Autzen Stadium was at its most palpable. It was electric, and with each rev of the engine, it was as if you could feel every heartbeat in the stadium vibrating with it. The players began to bounce and jump as the anticipation built, and within seconds, they were released like a pack of wild animals, charging after the duck on the motorcycle and setting the stage for yet another sold-out crowd.

Best tradition: The walk over the Willamette Bridge to and from Autzen Stadium. On the way over the bridge, I stopped halfway just to take in the scene and interview fans as they made the trek to the stadium. This is a walk that literally takes you over a river and through the woods -- a tradition that brings the fans together every Saturday. The most amazing part was actually the walk back. It was literally stop-and-go traffic, as fans were shoulder-to-shoulder on the path and on the bridge.

[+] EnlargeOregon Walk
Heather Dinich/ESPNOregon fans walk through the woods to get to Autzen Stadium on Ducks game days.
Biggest difference from ACC: There just isn’t that folksy feel in the ACC. The ACC is more Southern charm, with its barbeque, sweet tea, and “y’all,” and its Tobacco Road traditions. Oregon had a much more organic, earthy feel to it. There are so many trees on campus -- more than 400 kinds -- that the university offers a class on them.

They said it: “What I love? The whole ambiance of being in Autzen Stadium. What makes it unique is the program. We have a great football program, that’s all there is to it. We did not have a great program in the '70s and early '80s. The people who’ve been around here for a long time really realize and appreciate what we have now. We used to have 20,000 people, and half of them would go home at halftime. And it rained about every game. Now, it never rains here.” -- Don Essig, who has been the public address announcer at Autzen Stadium since it first opened in 1967.

If I could go back: I can’t believe I never got to see Pre’s Rock. As a recreational runner, it was one of the things at the top of my list, I just never got around to it. On a second trip, I would definitely visit that iconic rock, and find a few trails to run.

AdvoCare V100 Bowl

December, 8, 2013
12/08/13
10:10
PM ET

Arizona Wildcats (7-5) vs. Boston College Eagles (7-5)

Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET, Shreveport, La. (ESPN)


ARIZONA WILDCATS BREAKDOWN
It’s been a season of highs and lows for the Wildcats in year No. 2 under Rich Rodriguez.

Arizona has been streaky; winning three, then losing two, then winning three and losing two. Lows include a 24-17 home loss to Washington State, while highs include a 42-16 thrashing of Oregon.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Casey
Casey Sapio/USA TODAY SportsArizona's Ka'Deem Carey ran for 100-plus yards in every game he played this season and had 1,885 yards and 19 total TDs on the year.
But the one thing that has been steady and consistent has been the play of running back Ka'Deem Carey, a Doak Walker finalist who has produced a 100-yard effort in every game this season and 15 straight games going back to last year. That’s the longest streak in the FBS. Carey, the Pac-12 offensive player of the year, led the league in yards per game with 156.0 and was tied for second in the conference with 17 rushing touchdowns. He finished the regular season with 1,716 yards on 322 attempts.

Quarterback B.J. Denker continued to show improvement throughout the season. After a sluggish start, he brought his completion percentage up to 60.5 with 14 touchdowns to seven interceptions. But he’s also shown to be a dangerous runner with 898 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.

After being one of the worst defenses in the conference last season (allowing 35.3 yards per game), the Wildcats showed a huge improvement in the second year of Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 scheme. Arizona has reduced its points per game allowed by nearly 11 in 2013 and is yielding 24.7 points per game.

The Wildcats are going to a bowl game for the fifth time in six years, including both years of the Rodriguez era. -- Kevin Gemmell

vs.

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES BREAKDOWN
Gus Malzahn gets plenty of (deserved) credit for his turnaround efforts at Auburn. David Cutcliffe is picking up plenty of hardware for his miracle job at Duke. But let's not overlook what Steve Addazio has done in his first year in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

[+] EnlargeAndre Williams
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyBoston College rode running back Andre Williams to seven wins after just two victories in 2012.
Boston College has more than tripled last year's victory total, from two to seven. The Eagles upset Virginia Tech and were the only team to come within 20 points of Florida State in the regular season. They were a few plays away from possibly winning at then-No. 3 Clemson, too.

A four-game winning streak ended in the regular-season finale at Syracuse, which scored a game-winning touchdown with six seconds remaining to become bowl-eligible. How did the Orange deny the Eagles a fifth straight win? By doing what few teams could: containing Andre Williams.

The Heisman Trophy candidate has rushed for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and punishing attempting tacklers time and time again. He gained a ridiculous 339 yards in a victory over NC State to make BC bowl-eligible, and that came a week after his 295-yard effort helped the Eagles pull away late at New Mexico State.

Williams was held to just 29 yards on nine carries at Syracuse, though, before the senior left the game with an undisclosed injury. He is expected to be fine for the bowl game, and that could be troubling for the defense tasked with stopping Williams in his college finale. -- Matt Fortuna

#CampusConnection: Primetime Live

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
9:46
PM ET
The college football regular season has come down to this. Plenty is on the line tonight as the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten hold their title games and we’ll be here with you every step of the way.

So head on over to Campus Connection at 7:45 ET and follow the action along with several of our on-site reporters, including Ted Miller (Pac-12), Andrea Adelson (ACC), David Hale (ACC), Brian Bennett (Big Ten) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten). Post your comments and questions and we’ll include as many of them as possible.
It’s Flip Week at ESPN.com, where many of our conference reporters are venturing outside of our comfort zone to experience a different culture of college football. We’re going in with open minds and open arms, ready to embrace whatever we find.

Heather Dinich: For the past six years, I have covered the ACC for ESPN.com. Been to every stadium in the league, stood on the field at Lane Stadium for Enter Sandman, and watched Osceola and Renegade charge onto the field for one of the best pregame ceremonies in the country. Heck, I’ve even clumsily run down The Hill one summer in Death Valley.

Now it’s time to try something a little different.

On Thursday, I’m heading to Oregon.

What makes Oregon special? What traditions must I see and where should I go? The point of this trip is not to criticize; it’s to understand what Oregon fans love about their school, to learn about a Saturday in the Pac-12, and to see how it’s possible to all love and watch the same game through a different lens. It has nothing to do with the BCS standings, but it has everything to do with the passion the fans in Oregon have in defending their program and supporting it.

So, here I am, asking for a little help.

[+] EnlargeOregon fans
AP Photo/Don RyanDuck Nation can put its best webbed foot forward as our ACC blogger ventures to Autzen Stadium
As a native of Northeastern PA and current resident in Maryland, I know nothing about visiting Oregon. Nada. Zip. Never been there. Portland is two hours from Eugene, you say? Had no idea.

I’m picturing beautiful scenery, amazing running trails, and … well, uniforms.

I’m expecting sort of a Willy Wonka room filled with nothing but uniforms, some sort of spectacular, magical array of combinations that would wow any recruit. I’m expecting facilities that would rival that of any NFL team -- shiny, immaculate locker rooms that ooze money, not stench.

I want to meet this Duck character (does he know an Ibis?). I want to find “the strip” downtown, check out the hot spots, talk to Oregon fans and alumni, visit your tailgate, eat your food, drink your … water.

All things Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller has already done, right?

Ted Miller: Heather, you might run into something even I haven't seen much in Autzen Stadium: Grumpiness.

Of course, the Ducks are coming off a dispiriting loss at Stanford, the second time in two years the Cardinal have derailed the Ducks' national title hopes. And which conference benefited from that? Hmm.

Anyway, per Eugene and Autzen Stadium and the University of Oregon. First things first: Bring ear plugs. Autzen is loud. I'm guessing the experience will be not unlike Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium, only with a Duck riding a motorcycle and without the Metallica.

Eugene is a great college town with an overall vibe that is much different than you'd find at the average East Coast football school. Fair to say things are a bit bluer in Eugene than, say, Tallahassee. You will encounter plenty of vegans and perhaps even a few anarchists in Guy Fawkes masks. You might encounter some odd smells wafting through the air…

Of course, the football program is purely plutocratic. You must tour Oregon's facilities, particularly the new football building. For one, it might give you some idea for a remodel of your home. Or remind you of a spa in the new Wynn resort in Las Vegas. Palatial? There are folks who live in actual palaces who would be jealous.

If you want to soak up some college atmosphere on Friday night, consider a visit to Taylor's or Rennie's Landing, purely in the spirit of this sociological research project. Not that I know the bar scene in Eugene well -- cough, cough. I just hear things, you know.

As for game day, be advised not to wear purple. Don't wander into the Oregon tailgate and say, "Go Huskies!" The most bitter Pac-12 rivalry is Washington-Oregon, though the Huskies haven't really been pulling their weight for the, oh, the past decade. I suspect the Northwest food choices will be different than what you see in the ACC -- as in grilled salmon instead of burgers and wings.

You also might want to wear rain gear and sensible shoes. While Oregon's facilities are spectacular, Phil Knight apparently hasn't felt the urge to build the Phil Knight Media Parking Lot. Old lot 8 can get pretty darn muddy.

HD: Ha, I am loving it already. Can’t wait to check it out. Oregon fans, if you have any suggestions for me to guide me on this trip, feel free to drop them in my mailbag or shoot me a note on Twitter @ESPN_ACC. If you see me walking around, don't be shy, say hello. ACC fans? I'll be back. Don't flip out on us. That's our job.

Stat your case: Mariota or Winston?

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
11:15
AM ET

AP Photo, Getty ImagesMarcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have been nearly flawless in 2013.
With his dominant performance against Clemson, Jameis Winston has jumped into Heisman contention.
SportsNation

After 8 weeks, which QB deserves to win the Heisman more?

  •  
    44%
  •  
    56%

Discuss (Total votes: 11,027)


In the latest ESPN Heisman Watch, Winston and Marcus Mariota are the top two Heisman candidates.

After eight weeks, who deserves to win the Heisman?

Why Mariota should win the Heisman
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is averaging 363 yards of total offense and has accounted for 28 touchdowns this season. He ranks in the top five of most statistical categories without even attempting a pass in the fourth quarter in five of Oregon’s seven games.

Mariota is a threat on the ground and through the air; he is the only player in the FBS that is averaging at least 10 yards per rush and 10 yards per pass attempt. Similarly, he is the only player that has at least 15 pass touchdowns and seven rush touchdowns.

When passing the ball, Mariota does not turn the ball over. He has an FBS-high 197 pass attempts without an interception. In comparison, Winston has thrown three interceptions in 157 attempts. Dating back to last season, Mariota has thrown a Pac-12-record 265 passes without an interception.

When running, Mariota implements the zone read to perfection. The Ducks have called a zone-read play on 56% of their carries and have averaged 7.5 yards per rush on such plays. When Mariota keeps the ball, Oregon averages 13.7 yards per rush and has six touchdowns. It is unfair to compare Winston to Mariota on this type of play because Florida State rarely runs a zone read. However, it is important to note that Winston is averaging 3.1 yards per rush and has three rush touchdowns compared to 10.1 yards per rush and nine rush touchdowns for Mariota.

As a result of his offensive efficiency noted above, Mariota leads the nation in opponent-adjusted QBR (96.6). The leader in opponent-adjusted QBR in three of the last six seasons went on to win the Heisman, including Johnny Manziel last year.

-Sharon Katz

Why Winston should win the Heisman
Heisman winners generally play well in their teams’ most important games, and Jameis Winston has had his two best games of the season against top-25 opponents.

Against No. 3 Clemson and No. 25 Maryland, Winston averaged 418.5 pass yards per game and accounted for nine total touchdowns. Florida State won by a combined 100 points in those games.

He is averaging 380.8 pass yards in four career ACC games with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions. He is the first player in the last 10 seasons to pass for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his first four conference games.

Winston makes crowd-pleasing plays. He averages 5.7 completions per game of at least 20 yards, the fourth most in the FBS. He completes an AQ-high 61.8 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer. That is about 12 percentage points higher than Mariota and at least 11 percentage points higher than each of the last three Heisman winners during their Heisman-winning seasons.

Winston also does not get rattled by pressure. He is completing 71.2 percent of his passes when opponents send five or more pass rushers, the fourth-highest percentage among BCS AQ quarterbacks. Winston ranks second among AQ quarterbacks in yards per attempt (12.5) and touchdowns (9) on passes against the blitz.

-- Rob Nelson

These quarterbacks will have several chances to separate themselves the rest of the season. Mariota will face back-to-back top-15 opponents as Oregon faces No. 12 UCLA and No. 6 Stanford in its next two games. Winston will take on North Carolina State, which handed the Seminoles their first loss of the season last year, followed by No. 7 Miami.

Video: Week 8 picks of the week

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
6:30
PM ET

Travis Haney makes his picks for a trio of Top 25 games in Week 8: Stanford-UCLA, Florida-Missouri and Florida State-Clemson.

#CampusConnection: Primetime Live

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
7:00
PM ET
Can Texas right the ship against K-State? Will Michigan avoid another upset scare? Can Auburn-LSU produce another close one? And what about that Arizona State-Stanford showdown in the Pac-12?

We’ll be watching these games and many more on Saturday night and we’d like you to join in on the conversation. Head on over to Campus Connection at 8 ET and follow the action along with our eight reporters. Post your comments and questions and we’ll include as many of them as possible.

Kickoff Live: Week 4

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
12:05
PM ET

Editor's note: To watch the show on your smartphone, click here.



ESPN.com reporters Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich and Ted Miller join host Chantel Jennings at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the weekend.


Tags:

ACC, Pac-12, SEC

Video: Previewing Week 2

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
11:30
AM ET
Editor's note: To watch the show on your smartphone, click here.

ESPN.com reporters Brian Bennett, Heather Dinich and Chris Low join host Chantel Jennings at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the big matchups this weekend.

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