USC Trojans: NCF

ESPN.com's Preseason All-America team

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
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The All-American wealth has spread across the land. The Pac-12 leads the conferences with seven, one more than the SEC. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota and RB Lache Seastrunk both originally signed with Oregon. Now that Seastrunk plays for Baylor, he and Mariota no longer have to share a backfield. Seastrunk and G Cyril Richardson make the Bears the only team with two on offense. Richardson is surely the first All-American named Cyril, but Lache is not the first body of water to make it. He joins 1939 Heisman winner Nile Kinnick.

Alabama has won three of the past four BCS titles with defense and placed LB C.J. Mosley and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on this team. Alabama and Oregon lead with three players apiece on the list. That's one more than the Big Ten and two more than the ACC and Conference USA. -- Ivan Maisel

View ESPN.com's 2013 Preseason All-America team here.

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
2:00
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This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.
Tags:

Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, NCF, ACC

Notre Dame concedes very little on defense

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
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Matthew EmmonsWith one more win, Manti Te'o (right) and Notre Dame will play for the right to be No. 1.

(USC hosts Notre Dame on Saturday at 8 ET on ABC.)

If the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can win on the road against the USC Trojans. History could, again, repeat itself.

Four different head coaches have been responsible for Notre Dame's eight national championships in the AP poll era (since 1936). All four captured their first national title in their third season at Notre Dame, and head coach Brian Kelly is in his third season at the helm in South Bend.

Notre Dame is one win from playing for the BCS title thanks in larger part to its defense. The Irish have conceded a touchdown on 6.7 percent of their opponents’ possessions, the lowest percentage in FBS this season.

Notre Dame’s red-zone defense also is the best in the nation, allowing a touchdown on 24.1 percent of their opponents’ drives inside the 20-yard line. (Opponents have seven touchdowns and five turnovers in 29 red-zone possessions.) That’s the lowest percentage for any FBS team in the last eight seasons.

The defense is led by senior linebacker Manti Te’o. With two more tackles, Te’o will join Bob Crable as the second Notre Dame player with three 100-tackle seasons. Te’o also leads the Irish with six interceptions after not having any in his first three seasons.

Notre Dame’s defense will be tested one more time, this time by one of the best wide receivers in the country. USC’s Marqise Lee has more receiving yards (821) in his last four games than 52 FBS teams during that time span. Lee has gained more yards after the catch (837) than any player from any BCS-AQ school, and leads FBS with eight 100-yard receiving games. However, only one player this season has 100 yards receiving against Notre Dame: Jalen Saunders from Oklahoma.

However, Lee will not have Matt Barkley throwing to him – the senior QB will not play because of a sprained shoulder. Since 2002, USC’s only loss to Notre Dame came in 2010 when Barkley (then a sophomore) had a sprained ankle and did not play.

Without Barkley, USC might turn to its running game. The Trojans are averaging 160 rushing yards per game, and has gained 10 yards or more on almost 17 percent of their rush attempts. Curtis McNeal has 324 yards in USC’s last two games, but he’ll face a Notre Dame defense that has allowed just three running backs to rush for 80 or more yards this season.

Matt Barkley making most of short throws

September, 11, 2012
9/11/12
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In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. One amazing performance can vault a player into the national spotlight, and one bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations.

In Week 2, there were several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates, led once again by USC’s senior quarterback.

Matt Barkley had 187 yards passing and threw a school-record six touchdowns in USC’s 42-29 victory over Syracuse.

Barkley became the first FBS quarterback in the last 12 seasons to throw at least six touchdown passes with less than 200 yards passing in a game. Barkley has 20 touchdown passes in his last four games, six more than any other player in FBS during that span. He kept his passes short in a stormy MetLife Stadium, averaging a career-low 3.7 air yards per attempt. USC’s receivers turned these short passes into big gains with 137 yards coming after the catch -- the 10th straight game that the Trojans gained 100 yards after the catch.

With his play the first two weeks of this season, UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin has vaulted himself into the Heisman discussion.

Franklin had 217 rushing yards on 26 attempts in the Bruins’ 36-30 upset of Nebraska. It was his second consecutive 200-yard rushing game and third of his career. Franklin’s 215.5 rushing yards per game leads FBS this season. In fact, he’s averaging more than 90 teams. Franklin leads FBS with six runs that gained 20 yards or more, and is one of two players with two touchdown runs of at least 60 yards.

Ohio State’s Braxton Miller accounted for a career-high four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) and 296 yards in Ohio State’s 31-16 win against UCF. Miller gained 141 yards on the ground, his second-straight 100-yard game and seventh of his career. Only Terrelle Pryor has more 100-yard games rushing than Miller among Ohio State quarterbacks. Miller gained a career-high 106 rushing yards inside the tackles, including two touchdowns. After averaging 4.6 yards per rush between the tackles last season, Miller is averaging 7.2 yards in 2012.

After being kept in check by Alabama, Denard Robinson was back to making plays with his arm and his legs.

In Michigan’s 31-25 win over Air Force, he completed 14-of-25 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he had 20 carries for 218 yards and two more touchdowns. It was his third career game with at least 200 rushing yards and at least 200 passing yards, the most among all FBS players since 2000. Robinson gained 211 of his 218 rushing yards on 19 designed-running plays. During Michigan’s Week 1 loss to Alabama, the Wolverines called only six designed-running plays for Robinson, who gained 25 yards.

Watch: College Football Final (Week 2)

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
7:34
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video
Jim Basquil and the ESPN.com College Football team deliver the highlights, analysis, and interviews from an exciting Week 2 of College Football.

Drop from top puts Trojans in rare spot

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
12:36
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Trojans slip from top spot is rare
The last time a No. 1 ranked team won by more than 35 points and allowed 10 or fewer and fell from the top spot was 1974, when Notre Dame beat Northwestern 49-3. Ohio State jumped from No. 2 to No. 1 after a 51-10 win over Oregon State.

USC is the eighth team to win by more than 35 points, allow 10 or fewer and fall from No. 1 (and the first to do so in their opener).

Tide look to roll after Week 1 ascension
If Alabama is to stay atop the AP Poll for the remainder of the season, it would be the first team in 40 years to ascend to No. 1 in the first regular season AP Poll and run the table. In 1972, USC took over the top spot after the first week from Nebraska and won the national championship.

The only other time it happened since the preseason poll began in 1950 was in 1971 when Notre Dame was the preseason No. 1, but was overtaken by Nebraska after the first week.

Savannah State looks to avoid dubious mark
Savannah State takes on Florida State this week after giving up 84 points to Oklahoma State. Could the Seminoles reach the 80-point mark this week? It would certainly be a rarity.

The only team in major college football to ever allow 80-or-more points in consecutive games was Samford in 1920. That year, the Bulldogs dropped an 88-0 decision to Auburn, then lost 120-0 to Centre (Ky.) the next week.

Post-Keenum era starts with whimper for Houston
Houston managed just 13 points against Texas State last week after leading the nation in scoring a year ago with 49.3 points per game. That's not good, but won't get the Cougars into the record books.

The fewest points in an opener for a team that led the nation in scoring the previous year was seven, by Colorado in 1938. The last such team to score as few as 13 in an opener was Oklahoma in 2009 after leading the nation in scoring in 2008.

Price is right when Huskies go downfield
Washington's Keith Price completed one of his five passes thrown 15 yards or longer in Week 1 against San Diego State. It was the rare game that the Huskies won in which Price struggled on these throws.

The Huskies are 5-1 since the start of last season when Price completes at least 50 percent of his 15-yard throws and 2-6 when he does not. He will be put to the test Saturday against an LSU defense that allows opponents to complete 18.5 percent of their throws of 15 yards or longer since the start of last season, including just one completion in 24 attempts by non-SEC opponents.

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