Florida State Seminoles: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

3-point stance: Notre Dame luxuries

January, 31, 2014
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1. It took Notre Dame 67 years to perform its first facelift on Notre Dame Stadium in 1996. It took 17 years for the university to announce plans for a new iteration of The House That Rockne Built. The new construction will give Notre Dame the club seating and the suites that every other major stadium has. My favorite part of the news release: Father John I. Jenkins, the university president, said that he didn’t think raising $400 million to fund the construction would be an issue. With that fan base, he’s dead right.

2. The good and bad of Twitter: the travel nightmare endured by Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman in Atlanta, when he spent 19 hours stuck on an icy interstate, is only a slight exaggeration of the road-warrior sagas that FBS recruiters go through every January. Herman used Twitter as lifeline and diary during his overnight stay. Then there’s Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, who, unaware of how serious conditions were, tweeted that Atlantans were “softnosed.” Shafer meant it as a chain-jerk, but it was a classic ready-fire-aim use of the medium. We’ve all been there.

3. Alabama has a commitment from kicker J.K. Scott of Denver Mullen High, which rings a bell for anyone who remembers Wide Right I and II. After Florida State lost to Miami in consecutive seasons, knocking itself out of the race for No. 1, Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden had enough. In Feb. 1993, he signed the best high school kicker in the nation, Scott Bentley, also from the Denver area. Less than a year later, Bentley kicked the field goal that gave Bowden the 1993 national championship.

3-point stance: Super Bowl coaches

January, 23, 2014
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1. In four consecutive seasons, from 1992-95, the Super Bowl featured a coach who had won a college football national championship. Jimmy Johnson won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII (1992-93) with Dallas. Barry Switzer won Super Bowl XXX with the Cowboys, too. Between Jimmy and Barry, Bobby Ross lost SB XXIX with San Diego. No national championship winners before Johnson, and none after Ross -- until this season. Pete Carroll gets his shot with Seattle next week.

2. Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher almost sounded frustrated over the course of last season as he would tell reporters that Jacob Coker almost beat out Jameis Winston to be the Seminoles’ starting quarterback. Yeah, right. But Fisher continued to say it all the way through the BCS Championship Game. Now it seems Coker, who followed AJ McCarron at St. Paul’s in Mobile, now will follow him at Alabama, once he graduates from FSU this spring. He will be a godsend for the Crimson Tide.

3. The ACC released its 2014 schedule Wednesday, and Florida State got the NFL treatment. The defending national champion’s schedule is harder. Pittsburgh and Maryland are gone. In come new members Louisville and Notre Dame, which begins its ACC semi-schedule. The Cardinals have quite the league initiation. They are the only ACC team to play four road games in five weeks. That doesn’t include playing in the two northernmost ACC outdoor stadiums, Boston College and Notre Dame, in November.

ACC announces 2014 schedule

January, 22, 2014
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The 2014 ACC schedule was released Wednesday, featuring Louisville’s inaugural season in the conference, the first year of the ACC’s partnership with Notre Dame, one of the nation’s toughest nonconference schedules and a weekend of rivalry games to end the regular season.

Defending national champion Florida State will start the first season of the College Football Playoff on Aug. 30 at Cowboys Stadium, where the Seminoles will face Oklahoma State in the sixth annual Cowboys Classic. It also happens to be the site of the final game of the season, as Arlington, Texas, is where the new College Football Playoff will crown its first champion on Jan. 12, 2015.

Some of the ACC schedule's highlights include:
  • Miami will travel to Louisville on Labor Day night.
  • Notre Dame will play North Carolina, Syracuse, Louisville and Florida State.
  • Week 1 also includes Clemson at Georgia and UCLA at Virginia.
  • Five nationally televised Thursday night games, including Virginia Tech at Pitt (Oct. 16); Miami at Virginia Tech (Oct. 23); Florida State at Louisville (Oct. 30); and Clemson at Wake Forest (Nov. 6). The final 2014 ACC Thursday night contest on ESPN will have North Carolina traveling to Duke on Nov. 20.
  • Three nationally televised Friday night games, including Virginia Tech hosting Virginia (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2) on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 28. The Hokies and Cavaliers previously played on Thanksgiving Friday in 1996. Boston College will also host Pitt (ESPN or ESPN2) on Sept. 5 and Louisville will play at Syracuse (ESPN or ESPN2) on Oct. 3.
  • ACC teams will play nine games against teams from the final 2014 Associated Press poll (No. 4 South Carolina, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 16 UCLA, No. 17 Oklahoma State, No. 19 USC and No. 20 Notre Dame).

Here's what we like about this schedule, aside from the fact it came out unusually early this year: great rivalries to end the season (including Louisville-Kentucky), another Labor Day matchup and a strong nonconference lineup that includes the likes of Ohio State, South Carolina and UCLA. We're going to break it all down -- lots -- between now and Aug. 30, so stay tuned.
Three days of practice are now in the books and overall execution was sharper as the players begin to move into final preparations for the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday. The productivity of the players picked up as did the speed of the play, and they’re continuing to think less and display their natural ability more. It was a physical day, with the pads popping and some big hits throughout the practice. Here are some of the highlights.

Top performers


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Manziel or Winston? Prospects weigh in

December, 29, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are many topics of conversation among prospects playing in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. One of them centers around the past two Heisman Trophy winners.

On Saturday, upon checking in for the prestigious game, a number of prospects weighed in on a hot topic involving Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

If they had to choose between the two, who would the players take as their college quarterback? Here are their responses:

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Courtesy of IntersportNo. 9 overall prospect Marlon Humphrey likes how Johnny Manziel makes others around him better.
Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Al./Hoover High): Ah man, I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Manziel. I just feel like he kind of made a team out of nothing. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but he doesn’t have the scrambling skills that Manziel has. This year, you could tell that his teams defense wasn’t that good, the players around him weren’t as good, but he kept making his team better. He’s has the fight in him I would want on my team.

Florida commit and No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High): I would say Jameis Winston. He’s really a pure quarterback, and I think he sets up things more for a running back than Johnny Manziel does.

Auburn running back commit Racean Thomas (Oxford, Al./Oxford High): I would probably pick Jameis Winston. The reason behind that is because he is more of a leader for a young quarterback, and I think he can make his team a more mature team. I really think he would be a great quarterback to play with.

Florida wide receiver commit and No. 28 Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior High): Whew, I don’t know. I think Jameis Winston. I look at how both of them played as a freshman, and I like how Jameis Winston leads his team. He is also more pro-ready than Manziel.

Texas defensive end commit and No. 78-overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/William J. Brennan High): I guess I would say Johnny Manziel. I like how he plays with his swagger and confidence the most, so I would probably say him.

Notre Dame commit and No. 76-ranked Tyler Luatua (la Mirada, Calif./La Mirada High): I would take Manziel just because of the way he plays. If he doesn’t have a wide receiver open, he can make plays himself. He can get the ball to his players if and when he wants to, but can also do it on his own when he needs to.

No. 38 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic High School): That’s a hard one. As of right now, I would go with Jameis Winston. Overall, he’s a great player. I think Winston has an awesome football IQ. Johnny had his year too, but I think Winston is just a great player. Outstanding.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner: Jameis Winston, man. I feel comfortable with Jameis Winston as my quarterback because he’s smart and accurate. Johnny is accurate too, but Johnny is Johnny. How he runs around, people may get nervous. I would just feel more comfortable with Jameis as my quarterback.

No. 22 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High): That’s a hard one right there. Let me think ... maybe Johnny Manziel because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white boy get down like that. It would have to be Johnny Manziel.

Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown High): I think Jameis Winston. I think overall he’s a better passer. I want a quarterback back there that can get me the ball on a consistent basis, but Johnny Manziel is a great player, too. I’m actually a big fan of both of them.

Five-star and Virginia defensive tackle commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, VA
Oscar Frommel Smith High)
: Dang, that’s a good question, man. I would go with Jameis Winston. His leadership qualities, coming in as a freshman and doing the things he is doing is definitely uncommon. It just foreshadows what he is going to do in the future, too. He’s already established a great foundation for himself, and I would definitely take him in the future.

Maryland commit Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./Saint John’s High): I’m going with Johnny Manziel. I think he’s more dynamic, and more of a game-changer. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but you have to think about all the dudes he has around him at FSU -- all the great receivers and good running backs. I would go with Manziel because if you put him on the Florida State team, or a stacked team like that, it would be a scary sight.

ACC, Notre Dame announce future dates

December, 20, 2013
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The ACC and Notre Dame announced future dates for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, highlighted by an Irish-Boston College matchup in 2015 at Fenway Park as part of the Shamrock Series.

The joint announcement, made Friday, is part of the scheduling agreement Notre Dame made with the ACC when it decided to join the league in all sports but football. Because of previous schedule commitments, Notre Dame will face four ACC teams in 2014. Wake Forest, initially scheduled to play Notre Dame in 2014, will now face the Irish in 2015 -- giving Notre Dame six ACC games.

Beginning in 2016, Notre Dame will play five ACC teams each year and alternate between playing three home and two away games one year, with two home and three away games the next. BC announced separately it will host Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium in 2017. Below is a look at the Irish's future ACC opponents over the next three years, with Notre Dame as the home team.


2014

Sept. 27 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 11 North Carolina

Oct. 18 at Florida State

Nov. 22 Louisville

2015

Sept. 12 at Virginia

Sept. 19 Georgia Tech

Oct. 3 at Clemson

Nov. 7 at Pitt

Nov. 14 Wake Forest

Nov. 21 Boston College (Fenway Park, Boston)

2016

Sept. 24 Duke

Oct. 1 at Syracuse (MetLife Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 8 at NC State

Oct. 29 Miami

Nov. 19 Virginia Tech

One visit remains for No. 7 Jackson 

November, 21, 2013
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With four visits under his belt, Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) has one remaining. But there is nothing clear about which school will receive that fifth trip.


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Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

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ACC weekend rewind: Week 11

November, 11, 2013
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Florida State is now in full control of its championship destiny. Miami needs to get its act together. Duke is delaying interest in basketball season in Durham (OK, probably not) and several surprise teams are making their pushes toward the postseason. All that and more in our ACC weekend rewind:

The good: Let's face it: The ACC's surest path toward national respect is by winning it all, something it has not come close to doing in recent years. And, fair or unfair, the only way an ACC team was going to become a serious player in that title conversation this year was if Alabama or Oregon lost. So Stanford's Thursday night shellacking of the Ducks was surely celebrated by the folks of Tallahassee, Fla., who then watched their beloved Florida State Seminoles punctuate the weekend with a 59-3 stomping of Wake Forest. The formula is simple now for FSU: Just win, something the program has been doing with relative ease so far this season.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State Seminoles
Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesFlorida State's defense throttled Wake Forest as the Seminoles continued their BCS title run.
The good, pt. II: Play the way the Seminoles' defense did Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., and you get a second category in your honor. They held the Demon Deacons' quarterbacks to a total QBR of zero for the game, the first time that has happened for a team in a game this season. They forced seven turnovers, picking off six passes while returning turnovers for touchdowns on consecutive plays. Wake Forest's three quarterbacks combined to complete seven passes to their own players, which was just one more than they completed to FSU defenders. As our David Hale noted, from the 7:15 mark of the first quarter to the 10:31 mark of the second, FSU ran four offensive plays and scored 28 points.

The bad: Miami entered Tallahassee last weekend as a top-10 team looking to make some noise if it could manage a respectable showing against the rival Seminoles. Two games later, and the Hurricanes have seen their Coastal Division frontrunner status fly away after consecutive losses to FSU and Virginia Tech, which turned three key Miami special teams gaffes into 21 points, resurrecting their own chances at making the ACC title game. Kudos to Logan Thomas for putting consecutive forgettable outings behind him by completing 25 of 31 passes for 366 yards with two touchdowns and no picks.

The ugly: Virginia's 45-14 loss at North Carolina was its seventh straight loss, its most in a single-season since 1981. The Cavaliers had little margin for error to begin with, but did themselves no favors by surrendering a pick-six and a punt return for a score to the resurgent Tar Heels, who have now won three straight games and are knocking on the door of bowl eligibility at 4-5 after a 1-5 start. Craig Littlepage has voiced his support for Mike London so far this season, but you have to wonder how much that will change with each passing loss.

The clutch: Sure, ruining Notre Dame's national title hopes in South Bend, Ind., last year would have been sweeter. But Pittsburgh's 28-21 home upset of the No. 23 Fighting Irish was nonetheless a high mark for the program, which recorded a signature win for second-year coach Paul Chryst and delivered the Irish's BCS bowl hopes an early knockout blow. Ray Vinopal keyed a strong defensive performance for the Panthers, coming up with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions and forcing a fumble early. Now Pitt is just one win away from bowl eligibility with three games remaining.

The hat trick: Andre Williams outdid himself in Boston College's 48-34 win at New Mexico State, as he broke the 200-yard mark for the third time this season. Williams set an Eagles single-game record with 295 yards rushing on 30 carries, including a go-ahead 80-yard score and a game-sealing 47-yard touchdown on the next possession. What more can you say about the senior? He now leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,471. His 163.4 rushing yards per game are also a national best, nearly 11 full yards per game clear of the No. 2 man, Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey. BC is now 5-4, three wins past last season's total and, more importantly, a victory away from bowl eligibility.

The hat trick, pt. II: Duke redshirt freshman DeVon Edwards had a day for the ages, recording two pick-sixes -- one of 25 yards, the other of 45 -- on back-to-back NC State plays within 16 seconds of each other and returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the Blue Devils' 38-20 win, their fifth straight victory. Edwards became the first Duke player with two pick-sixes in a game since Leon Wright against Army in 2009 and became the first Blue Devil to return a kickoff for a score since Jabari Marshall against UConn in 2007. Edwards was named the national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation for his efforts. He added 10 tackles, too.

The brick wall: So, it's unlikely that anyone will confuse this year's Syracuse defense with 2011 Alabama, 2008 USC or any other greats of recent memory. But after losing to Georgia Tech 56-0 the Orange have been on a roll, pitching 113 straight minutes of shutout ball over the past two-plus games before Brad Craddock's 23-yard field goal got Maryland on the board with 1:10 left in the third quarter Saturday. That would be all the Terrapins could manage in a 20-3 loss to an Orange team now 3-2 in its first season of ACC play and 5-4 overall, just one win shy of bowl eligibility. Syracuse forced four turnovers and held Maryland to 292 yards of total offense, though the challenge gets amplified just a bit this weekend when it travels to Florida State.

The class act: Hats off to Marquise Williams, who became North Carolina's starting quarterback for the rest of the season after Bryn Renner underwent season-ending shoulder surgery this week. Williams, normally No. 12, wore Renner's No. 2 in honor of the injured senior, and he completed 15 of 28 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns and one pick while adding 46 rushing yards and another touchdown in the Tar Heels' win over Virginia. Oh, and he caught a 29-yard touchdown pass for good measure, with Quinshad Davis it to make Williams the first North Carolina quarterback to catch a touchdown pass since 1984, when Kevin Anthony did the same against Virginia.

The headaches: Good luck trying to sort out the potential scenarios for a Coastal Division winner after Virginia Tech's upset of Miami and Duke's win Saturday, which helped leave the division with four teams with two losses apiece. And good luck trying to sort out all of the possible bowl destinations for a number of ACC teams after a week in which conference newcomers Pitt and Syracuse inched their way closer to postseason play with upset wins to get to five victories apiece. Boston College got to five wins, too, while Maryland remains at five after the loss to the Orange. North Carolina is making a push at 4-5 and on a three-game winning streak, and there are already six bowl-eligible teams. So yes, there could be 11 teams bowling in the ACC this winter. Not bad.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
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Clemson and Georgia Tech have the weekend off. The other 12 ACC teams take the field for Week 11, which includes two nonconference contests, with one serving just slightly bigger than the other.

Here is what to keep an eye on as we enter the home stretch in the ACC:

1. FSU looks to avoid letdown: The Seminoles have a lot to lose the rest of the way, starting Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., where they lost two years ago. It is telling, in a good way, that the word "adversity" has been thrown around so much in regard to Florida State's most recent contest. It was a 41-14 win against a previously undefeated and seventh-ranked Miami team. And its quarterback, despite whatever criticisms were lobbied his way, finished with an adjusted total QBR of 94.6, sixth best in the nation for the week. If this team ever got its act together …

2. Wake adjusts to life without Campanaro: Wake Forest is without all-time leading receiver Michael Campanaro, probably for the season, after the redshirt senior broke his collarbone in a loss at Syracuse. Coach Jim Grobe was honest about how difficult things now are offensively without Campanaro, who, despite missing the first game of the season, had 67 catches -- or 52 more than Jonathan Williams and Sherman Ragland III, the Demon Deacons' next-highest catchers, with 15 apiece.

[+] EnlargeMarquise Williams
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCan Marquise Williams lead North Carolina to a bowl game?
3. Marquise Williams' time at UNC: Bryn Renner's North Carolina career is over because of a detached labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder suffered in a win over NC State. He had split plenty of time lately with Williams, who started the Virginia Tech game, but now it is the redshirt sophomore's chance to carry the Tar Heels to the postseason. They can inch a step closer toward with a win over Virginia that would make them 4-5. Williams has completed better than 60 percent of his passes this season for 537 yards with six touchdowns and three picks, adding 201 yards and a score on the ground.

4. C.J. Brown's return: Maryland is on the brink of its first bowl berth under third-year coach Randy Edsall, and the expected return of its quarterback should provide a big boost against Syracuse. Caleb Rowe has been so-so in Brown's place as starter, going 1-2. Brown's return after a concussion and then a "trunk injury" cannot come at a better time for a Terrapins team that has dropped three of four, though he will have to adjust to a receiving corps that has been decimated by season-ending injuries to Stefon Diggs and Deon Long.

5. Terps honor former Cuse halfback: Kudos to Maryland, which will pay tribute Saturday to Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who was barred from the Syracuse-Maryland 1937 game because he was black. Orange players will wear No. 19 decals on their helmets in memory of Sidat-Singh, whose family will join both schools' athletic directors and Maryland pioneer Darryl Hill between the first and second quarters for an on-field tribute. Sidat-Singh had joined the Army after Pearl Harbor and was in the first graduating class of the group later known as Tuskegee Airmen. He was killed on a training flight in 1943 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

6. Duke looks to finish strong: Whether it is fair to criticize the Blue Devils' late-season slide last season, the fact remains that they went winless after clinching bowl eligibility in 2012. Things are different this time around, especially with a defense playing night and day from earlier this season and with the Coastal Division potentially up for grabs. Duke will need to keep its foot on the pedal as it comes off a historic win and a bye week to face a desperate NC State team that has dropped four straight and remains winless in ACC play.

7. Logan Thomas looks to rebound: Virginia Tech's redshirt senior quarterback was unusually defiant this week when speaking to reporters in Blacksburg, Va., about criticism that has come his way. Thomas had appeared to turn a corner midseason but his turnovers woes have bubbled to the surface these last two weeks, as he threw four picks in a loss to Duke and threw two more, and lost two fumbles, in a loss at Boston College. Still, a strong performance at a Miami team coming off its first loss of the season could play the Hokies right back into the thick of things in the Coastal Division race.

8. Crawford, Miami look to rebound: It's Dallas Crawford's time to step up, as the Hurricanes will turn to the redshirt sophomore first after losing Duke Johnson for the season. In looking to rebound from its loss No. 1 and maintain control of the Coastal Division, coach Al Golden said all three backs will probably see time in the first quarter Saturday against Virginia Tech. Crawford is expected to get the bulk of the carries after rushing for 294 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season.

9. ND-Pitt theatrics: Will it be like the four-overtime game from 2008? The ugly 15-12 contest from 2011, a game that, fittingly, featured 666 total yards of offense? Or last year's triple-overtime near upset? When the Irish and Panthers take the field, craziness ensues, and who knows what awaits a prime-time audience at Heinz Field in a game featuring two banged-up teams.

10. Pitt's offense looks to get it together: The Panthers defended the option well in recent weeks, holding Navy and Georgia Tech to 24 and 21 points, respectively. But the offense simply has to score points after breaking the 21-point plateau just once in its past five games, against Old Dominion (35). The run game in particular has struggled, tallying minus-5 yards last week against the Yellow Jackets, but the passing game could use some big plays as well.

ACC predictions: Week 11

November, 7, 2013
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Heather got back at AA in Week 10, making the right call with Boston College over Virginia Tech and North Carolina over NC State. Bravo to a 5-1 week. AA came up 3-3, so we are all square again at 62-16 overall. Let's see what Week 11 has in store.

No. 2 Florida State (8-0, 6-0) at Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4), noon, ABC. #FSUvsWAKE. The Noles clinch a spot in the ACC title game with a win over Wake Forest. It is tough to anticipate this one being much of a game, especially with Wake receiver Michael Campanaro out. The Deacs did nothing offensively without him last week against Syracuse (a team that lost 59-0 against Georgia Tech), and coach Jim Grobe concedes he has nobody on his roster to fill those shoes. Not only that, Wake Forest has a run game that ranks last in the ACC. It is going to be a long day for the Deacs.

AA picks: Florida State 54, Wake Forest 6

HD picks: Florida State 48, Wake Forest 10

Virginia (2-7, 0-5) at North Carolina (3-5, 2-3), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #UVAvsUNC. The Tar Heels have gotten themselves back into bowl contention with two straight wins, but they must play the rest of the season without quarterback Bryn Renner. The good news is Marquise Williams has played in the past four games, so at least he has experience under center. More good news for UNC this week: UVa is a bad football team, having lost six straight games. The Hoos have given up more than 1,000 yards of offense in their past two losses combined.

AA picks: North Carolina 34, Virginia 17

HD picks: North Carolina 24, Virginia 14

Syracuse (4-4, 2-2) at Maryland (5-3, 1-3), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #CUSEvsMD. As experts picking games every week, Syracuse has easily been the toughest team to predict throughout the entire season. One week after getting shut out at Georgia Tech, the Orange were the ones delivering the shut out to Wake Forest. Syracuse has won away from home just once this season and has yet to get any consistency out of the quarterback position. Meanwhile, quarterback C.J. Brown is healthy again for the Terps. Brown will be the difference in the game, and Maryland becomes bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

AA picks: Maryland 23, Syracuse 20

HD picks: Maryland 24, Syracuse 10

Boston College (4-4) at New Mexico State (1-8), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #BCvsNMSU. The Eagles get to follow up their impressive win over Virginia Tech with a 2,300-mile trip to its first game in New Mexico. Ever. Not exactly the type of trek that a team from a power conference ever wants to make, let alone in November. Having said that, the Eagles have an opportunity to win for the first time on the road this season and inch closer to bowl eligibility against one of the worst teams in FBS. New Mexico State coach Doug Martin served as BC offensive coordinator a season ago, but there won't be much the Aggies can do to slow down Andre Williams. New Mexico State is giving up a whopping 312 yards per game on the ground.

AA picks: Boston College 35, New Mexico State 7

HD picks: Boston College 49, New Mexico State 6

NC State (3-5, 0-5) at Duke (6-2, 2-2), 4 p.m., ESPNU. #NCSTvsDUKE. Some anticipated NC State could struggle this year with a new head coach and so many veterans gone. But not many could have expected the Wolfpack to start 0-5 in league play and fall a notch below in-state rival Duke. Injuries have been a big culprit, but so has an inability to make plays with the game on the line. NC State has more quarterback drama to deal with as well. Duke, meanwhile, had a week to enjoy its win over Virginia Tech and bowl eligibility for a second straight season. The Blue Devils were not great on offense in that win, but expect a completely healthy Anthony Boone to bounce back.

AA picks: Duke 30, NC State 16

HD picks: Duke 45, NC State 14

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) at No. 11 Miami (7-1, 3-1), 7 p.m., ESPN. #VTvsMIA. Both teams come in off losses but remain in contention to win the Coastal Division. As Heather pointed out earlier in the week, it's gut-check time for both teams. The Hokies continue to have one of the best defenses in the country. It's the offense that has cost them in the past two games, as Logan Thomas has turned the ball over eight times. AA thinks Miami is going to struggle against this defense without Duke Johnson, and Thomas will redeem himself with a solid game. A solid game means Thomas won't have four turnovers. Miami has not won back-to-back games in the series since winning three straight from 2000-02. AA picks: Virginia Tech 21, Miami 20.

HD picks: Miami 28, Virginia Tech 17: Even without Johnson, the Canes will be able to run the ball with Dallas Crawford, and they’ll make fewer mistakes than turnover-prone Virginia Tech. The Hokies simply have too many questions marks on offense and not enough playmakers surrounding the embattled Thomas. Virginia Tech hasn’t fared well against ranked opponents, and that trend will continue on Saturday.

No. 23 Notre Dame (7-2) at Pitt (4-4, 2-3), 8 p.m., ABC. #NDvsPITT. It is really tempting to pick Pitt to upset the Irish given the recent history between the two teams and all the injuries Notre Dame has on its defense. But Pitt has done little to nothing offensively since its wild 58-55 win over Duke in September. In the five games since, Pitt is averaging 269 yards per game. Its run game has been nearly nonexistent. Against Georgia Tech last week, the Panthers were held to minus-5 yards rushing. Against Virginia and Virginia Tech, the Panthers managed a combined 31 yards on the ground. Pitt was able to run on Notre Dame last year. But it won't be able to this time around.

AA picks: Notre Dame 27, Pitt 20

HD picks: Notre Dame 24, Pitt 21

20 years later, a November to remember

November, 1, 2013
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BowdenAP Photo/Doug MillsIt wasn't without controversy, but the 1993 season ended with Bobby Bowden and Florida State winning the national championship.

Twenty years ago, we had one of the wildest months in college football history. Over the span of four weeks, seven top-10 teams lost, including the No. 1 team twice. Florida State entered the month as No. 1, fell out of that spot and still ended the month atop the polls.

By the end of November, three teams would finish the regular season unbeaten (Nebraska, West Virginia and Auburn), but only two were eligible to play for the national title, and only one would wind up playing for it. The debate simmered for years.

Notre Dame fans were upset that Florida State was playing for the national title with one loss, since that one loss came against the Fighting Irish. West Virginia fans were also upset that FSU was playing for the national title with one loss, with the Mountaineers finishing the season undefeated.

[+] EnlargeTom Osborne
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesTom Osborne was denied his first national title when the Cornhuskers lost to the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl.
In addition, WVU argued that it should be included in the national title game since it had a higher ranking in the coaches poll (No. 2) than Nebraska (No. 3). In the AP poll, Nebraska finished the regular season No. 2 and WVU No. 3. Meanwhile, Auburn fans claimed the Tigers were actually the best team in college football, finishing the season 11-0 and with a win over the eventual SEC champion Florida Gators. The Tigers, however, were on NCAA probation and ineligible for postseason play.

As we begin another month of potential unbeaten controversy in college football, here's a look at 20 things to remember from November 1993.

1. Florida State was the No. 1 team in the AP poll every week of the season prior to November. Entering the month, the Seminoles were 8-0 and had outscored their opponents by a combined total of 350-38.

2. Three of the teams that garnered a lot of attention in November were still not even ranked in the top 5 by the beginning of the month. Nebraska (8-0) was No. 6, Auburn (8-0) was No. 8 and West Virginia (7-0) was No. 11.

3. Ohio State also entered November 8-0, its best start since 1979. Two decades later, the Buckeyes enter November again undefeated.

4. The Miami-WVU game on Nov. 20, 1993, drew a crowd of 70,222 at Mountaineer Field (now called Milan Puskar Stadium). It’s still the largest home crowd in the history of the stadium, which opened in 1980. Capacity for that stadium at that time was 63,000, meaning it was 7,000 over capacity for that game.

5. Notre Dame was ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP poll, the lowest preseason rank for the Irish since 1988, when they were ranked 13th and went on to win the national title.

6. No. 1 Florida State was a 6 1/2-point favorite for its Nov. 13 matchup at No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 13, 1993.

7. ESPN's College GameDay staged its first live remote show at the FSU-ND showdown in South Bend.

8. The “Game of the Century” matchup with Florida State was the ninth 1 versus 2 game in Notre Dame history, and the second for FSU. Overall, it was the 14th regular-season 1 versus 2 matchup in AP poll history.

9. The Irish beat the favored Seminoles 31-24 to improve to 10-0, the third time in the previous six seasons the Fighting Irish started a season 10-0 or better (1988, 1989).

10. In a wild month, the following Saturday (Nov. 20) was easily the biggest day. Consider what occurred:

  • No. 1 Notre Dame was upset at home by No. 17 Boston College, 41-39, on a last-second 41-yard field goal by David Gordon.
  • No. 9 West Virginia upset No. 4 Miami, 17-14, keeping WVU's undefeated season alive.
  • No. 5 Ohio State suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of its rival, Michigan, losing 28-0.
  • No. 6 Auburn won the Iron Bowl, beating No. 11 Alabama 22-14 and completing a perfect regular season.

11. That Boston College could come in and beat a No. 1 Notre Dame team was surprising enough -- especially considering the Irish had won that matchup by 47 the year before. But it was more of a shocker when you consider the Eagles started the 1993 season 0-2, including a loss at Northwestern, a team that finished just 2-9.

12. A lot was made about how West Virginia did not deserve to play for the national championship over Florida State or Nebraska, because the Mountaineers played a weaker schedule. Mountaineer fans did not want to hear it, but the numbers appear to back up that argument. FSU’s opponents finished 81-61 (.570), Nebraska’s 59-54-1 (.522) and WVU’s 59-64-2 (.480).

13. West Virginia's argument about deserving a shot at the national championship was always the following: WVU beat the team (Boston College, in the regular-season finale) that beat the team (Notre Dame) that beat the team (Florida State).

14. To understand how wacky the month of November was, look at how the AP poll played out since the middle of October:

  • Oct. 18 poll: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Oct. 25: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 1: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 8: FSU received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 15: Notre Dame received all 62 first-place votes
  • Nov. 22: Five different teams received at least one first-place vote
  • Nov. 29: Three different teams received at least one first-place vote
  • Dec. 6: Five different teams received at least one first-place vote.
[+] EnlargeChampion
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNotre Dame fans are probably still upset about being kept out of the 1993 national championship game despite having beaten FSU.
15. Prior to the Bowl Championship Series, college football's championship game matchups were determined by an organization called the Bowl Coalition. It was made up of five conferences: Big East, ACC, SEC, Big 8 and Southwest -- and Notre Dame. The group had six bowl tie-ins: Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, Sugar, Gator and John Hancock (now Sun Bowl). But it did not include the Pac-10 and Big Ten, because those teams had the tie-in to the Rose Bowl. After the wackiness of November, the top five heading the bowls was:

1. Florida State
2. Nebraska
3. West Virginia
4. Auburn
5. Notre Dame

16. West Virginia was actually invited to play No. 7 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, but instead decided to play in the more lucrative Sugar Bowl against No. 8 Florida. The Sugar Bowl was worth approximately $1.1 million more than the Cotton, which elected to invite Notre Dame instead (which beat the Aggies 24-21). The move obviously backfired on the Mountaineers, as they were soundly beaten by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl, 41-7.

17. After losing to Miami on missed field goals in the final seconds in 1991 and 1992, Florida State recruited the top high school kicking prospect, Scott Bentley. Bentley struggled early in his FSU career (seven missed extra-point attempts in the first five games), but eventually was a difference-maker in the Seminoles' run to the national title, kicking the game-winning field goal in a 18-16 Orange Bowl victory against No. 2 Nebraska and giving Bobby Bowden his first national title (and denying Tom Osborne his).

18. Florida State became the first preseason AP No. 1 team to go on to win the national title since Oklahoma in 1985.

19. Auburn's win streak, which began in 1993 as the lone unbeaten, would eventually reach 20 straight before a tie against Georgia on the next-to-last game of the 1994 season. The Tigers lost the following game to Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

20. The matchup that many Mountaineers fans wanted (WVU versus Nebraska) eventually took place … in 1994. The Cornhuskers slammed the Mountaineers in the 1994 Kickoff Classic in the Meadowlands, 31-0.
The ACC announced Monday that ESPN has declared a six-day option for three games on Nov. 9 and announced the other four game times and networks.

These Nov. 9 games will have their kickoff times and networks announced no later than noon on Nov. 3:
  • Virginia Tech at Miami, ABC or ESPN
  • Florida State at Wake Forest, ABC or ESPN
  • Notre Dame at Pitt, ABC or ESPN

The following game times and networks were announced for Nov. 9:
  • Virginia at North Carolina, ACC Network, 12:30 p.m.
  • Syracuse at Maryland, Regional Sports Networks, 3:30 p.m.
  • Boston College at New Mexico State, ESPN3, 3:30 p.m.
  • NC State at Duke, ESPNU, 4 p.m.
* All times are Eastern

ACC recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
11:00
AM ET
Another week and we’re answering questions about the recruiting happenings in the ACC.

@sleep_trick asks: What are the odds Elijah Hood commits to UNC after decommitting from Notre Dame?

Corey Dowlar: Well, they are pretty good, actually. And I wouldn't be surprised if it is done sooner rather than later. According to reports, Hood has been in steady contact with the North Carolina coaches before, and after, his decommitment from the Irish.

Being from North Carolina, his family would be able to see him play. Working in Coach Fedora's offense has its own appeal as well. It would be pretty surprising if Hood doesn't end up in Chapel Hill.

@jameshall616 asks: Do you think FSU has a legitimate chance to be in the national championship this year?

Dowlar: James, no, honestly I do not. I am of the opinion that there is too much to do with all the turnover, in coaches and personnel, for FSU to handle all these transitions.

QB Jameis Winston, as talented and hyped as he is, has proved nothing yet other than that he is articulate, funny and a good quote. You've seen him in the spring game, probably, so you know he has the ability, but he still has a lot to prove. How quickly he progresses and how quickly he establishes himself will have a huge impact on the season.

I think this Florida State team ends up dropping two games along the way in the regular season with a solid bowl win to end it. Are they in contention for the ACC? Yeah, absolutely.

ESPN.com's preseason power rankings

August, 9, 2013
8/09/13
9:05
AM ET
College Football Power Rankings illustrationESPN IllustrationTBD BY EDITORIAL


Not surprisingly, the back-to-back BCS champions are again preseason favorites and top ESPN's power rankings. But a number of elite programs are ready for their chance to dethrone the king.

Top 15 breakdown
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Stanford
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 (tie) Georgia
No. (tie) South Carolina
No. 8 Louisville
No. 9 Clemson
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Notre Dame
No. 14 (tie) Michigan
No. 14 (tie) Texas

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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