Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) and offensive lineman Brett Neilon (62) celebrate after the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia, Michigan, TCU, USC top 4 in final rankings before field picked

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Southern California are in prime position for the College Football Playoff five days before the field is finalized.

The Bulldogs, Wolverines, Horned Frogs and Trojans occupied the top four spots in the penultimate CFP rankings of the season revealed Tuesday night.

That quartet of programs will play in their respective conference title games on Friday and Saturday. The four-team field will be cemented the following Sunday; Georgia (12-0), Michigan (12-0) and TCU (12-0) may have locked up their spots even if they lose Saturday.

Michigan ran away from Ohio State 45-23 on the road Saturday and moved up one spot to No. 2, remaining behind defending national champion Georgia.

“As we looked at it, Georgia, there was nothing they did last weekend against Georgia Tech that to really diminish it,” CFP selection chair and NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan said in an ESPN interview. “They’re 4-0 against ranked teams in our Top 25. Michigan, huge win, particularly in the second half against Ohio State (and) 2-0 against teams in the Top 25. Again, we didn’t see any reason to move Georgia out of the top spot.”

TCU will face No. 10 Kansas State in the Big 12 title game; the Horned Frogs rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Wildcats 38-28 on Oct. 22.

The Trojans, which rose two spots to No. 4 after losses by Ohio State and LSU, are 11-1 and can avenge their lone loss when they face No. 11 Utah in Friday’s Pac-12 championship game. Utah beat visiting USC 43-42 on Oct. 15.

Ohio State (11-1) fell to No. 5 following its first loss of the season. Alabama (10-2), Tennessee (10-2), Penn State (10-2), Clemson (10-2) and Kansas State (9-3) round out the top 10.

The full rankings are below:

1. Georgia
2. Michigan
3. TCU
4. Southern California
5. Ohio State
6. Alabama
7. Tennessee
8. Penn State
9. Clemson
10. Kansas State
11. Utah
12. Washington
13. Florida State
14. LSU
15. Oregon State
16. Oregon
17. UCLA
18. Tulane
19. South Carolina
20. Texas
21. Notre Dame
22. UCF
23. North Carolina
24. Mississippi State
25. NC State

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA;  Michigan State Spartans tight end Daniel Barker (9) sprints upfield for a touchdown in the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State TE Daniel Barker entering NFL draft

Michigan State tight end Daniel Barker announced Tuesday that he is declaring for the NFL draft.

Barker had 21 receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns this season in his lone campaign with the Spartans. He spent the previous four seasons at Illinois.

“The year I’ve spent in East Lansing is one I’ll never forget,” Barker said in his announcement on Twitter. “… To my teammates, thank you for welcoming me in from day one. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my last year playing alongside anyone else.

“With that being said, I would like to announce that I will be pursuing my dreams of playing at the next level and declaring for the 2023 NFL Draft.”

Barker caught 64 passes for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns at Illinois from 2018-21. He redshirted his first season by playing in just four games and he also received the COVID-19 eligibility pass that all college football players received for the 2020 campaign.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Brent Key on the field before a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Georgia Tech to remove interim tag of coach Brent Key

Georgia Tech is finalizing a deal to make interim coach Brent Key the program’s full-time head coach, multiple reports indicated Tuesday.

Key, the program’s assistant head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator, was given the interim coach title in September after Georgia Tech fired Geoff Collins amid a 1-3 start.

The Yellow Jackets went 4-4 under Key on their way to finishing 5-7 (4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a 21-17 upset of then-No. 13 North Carolina on Nov. 19.

Key, 44, is a Georgia Tech alumnus who played right guard for the program from 1997-2000.

“I’m an alumni from here,” Key told ESPN in October. “I really hold this place in super high regard for the lessons that I learned. But this is not one bit about trying to get a job. This is about doing a great job with the job that we have.”

Georgia Tech vetted a number of external candidates, but ESPN reported that the school’s reluctance to guarantee enough money in the contract turned some candidates off.

Tulane coach Willie Fritz was reported to be among the candidates the Yellow Jackets were interested in. Earlier Tuesday, Tulane announced that Fritz informed the school he was staying put.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Hudson Card (1) directs the Longhorns offense during a game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Royal Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK

Reports: Texas QB Hudson Card to enter transfer portal

Texas quarterback Hudson Card, once the starter for the Longhorns, is entering the transfer portal, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

A top recruit in the 2020 class, Card has three years of eligibility left.

Card was the starting quarterback at Texas at the beginning of the 2021 season before relinquishing the job to Casey Thompson, who transferred to Nebraska following the season. In summer camp before the 2022 campaign, he lost the contest for starting QB to Quinn Ewers.

Card, a redshirt sophomore, threw for 590 yards and five touchdowns in seven games in 2021. He played in all 12 games in 2022, completing 69.4 percent of his passes for 928 yards with six touchdowns and one interception.

The 247Sports composite ranked Card as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2020. He played his high school football in Lake Travis, Texas.

Card likely will be a top quarterback in the transfer portal, but in 2023, he probably would have found himself odd-man out at Texas. Ewers has one more season before he is eligible for the NFL draft, and coach Steve Sarkisian has a commitment form Arch Manning, the No. 1 player in the 247Sports composite 2023 class rankings.

Arch is the nephew of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning.

Texas finished the regular season at 8-4 (6-3 Big 12) and is waiting to learn its bowl destination.

–Field Level Media

Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins (80) catches a pass for a touchdown during the first of two overtimes at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022.

Ncaa Football Clemson At Wake Forest

Clemson WR Beaux Collins (shoulder) done for season

Clemson receiver Beaux Collins will miss the rest of the season due to a right shoulder injury and likely will undergo surgery next week, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday.

Collins missed two games with a separated shoulder before returning to play last Saturday in a 31-30 loss to South Carolina. He reinjured the shoulder in the first half and later returned to the sideline with his arm in a sling.

Collins will miss Saturday’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game between the No. 10 Tigers and No. 24 North Carolina and the team’s bowl game.

“I really appreciate Beaux trying to go,” Swinney said on Tuesday. “He really wanted to try to finish. We were hoping he would make it through the season and then we’d get it fixed, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He gave it all he could. We’ll probably do surgery on him next week.”

Collins had two catches for 65 yards, including a long of 59, against the Gamecocks.

Overall, Collins had 22 catches for 373 yards and a team-leading five touchdown receptions this season.

–Field Level Media

UK offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello talked about the offense for the upcoming season during a Media Day event at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. on Aug. 3, 2022.

Uk Football03 Sam

Kentucky fires OC Rich Scangarello after one season

Kentucky fired offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello after just one season, the school confirmed to at least two media outlets Tuesday.

The move comes a day after Kentucky fired running backs coach John Settle.

Kentucky scored an SEC-low 22.08 points per game this season under Scangarello, finishing 7-5.

Scangarello in February replaced Liam Coen, who left to become the OC with the Los Angeles Rams.

–Field Level Media

Auburn Tigers football coach Hugh Freeze poses with associate head coach Cadillac Williams at the Woltosz Football Performance Center in Auburn, Ala., on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

Hugh Freeze keeps Cadillac, plans U-turn at Auburn

Hugh Freeze mastered the microphone with two talking points that always tickle the ears of Auburn fans: War Eagle and Nick Saban.

Freeze was introduced as head coach of the Tigers on Tuesday and spent the majority of his opening monologue praising and thanking interim head coach Cadillac Williams, also a former Auburn running back, for pulling personal pride and competitiveness back on The Plains.

Not long after the press conference, Williams released a statement confirming he was staying at Auburn as associate head coach.

“I accepted the position and am excited about working with him and learning from him,” Williams said, with a not-so-subtle directive for those fans who wanted him to remain head coach. “I ask that the Auburn family join me in supporting Coach Freeze and getting Auburn football back on the winning track.”

Auburn will reportedly pay Freeze $39 million over six years to turn around a program attempting to recover from back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1998 and ’99.

In the immortal words of Jerry Reed, the Tigers have a long way to go and a short time to get there.

Freeze follows Bryan Harsin, who was fired at midseason, and as of Tuesday had a commitment from only one of the top 15 rated seniors in the state. While Freeze said he’s anxious to get out of the blocks, Saban and Alabama are cruising to the lead, destined for yet another top-10 finish and top-5 recruiting class.

“Well, you don’t take this job if you’re not built to want that and I welcome that,” said Freeze, who beat Saban twice while Ole Miss head coach. “I want it, I want to be in that arena. I really, really, really enjoy that type of game. … I hope they’re a little nervous today.”

Auburn finished last in the SEC West the past two seasons.

Freeze arrives not from Ole Miss but Liberty, granted another life in coaching a marquee program despite being cited for 21 NCAA violations which led to 27 wins being vacated. That includes one of the victories over Saban and Alabama (2014).

Freeze, 53, resigned from Ole Miss and was out of the game for two seasons. He became the coach at Liberty in 2019. He won eight or more games in each of the past four seasons, including a 3-0 record in bowl games.

Freeze spent one season at Arkansas State, when the Red Wolves went 10-2, and five coaching Ole Miss. He was dismissed from Ole Miss prior to the 2017 campaign after it was discovered he made inappropriate calls to a female escort service from his school-issued cellphone.

“I don’t believe in deserving something. I believe in earning something,” Freeze said Tuesday. “And I do believe we fought to earn this. It’s been rocky at times. But you can become overcome with emotion because of — truthfully, I feel like, and this is no offense to another school or anything, but I feel like I’ve leapfrogged where I was at that time by being in this family and this culture here. And I loved my time there, but I see this as one of the top 10 football programs in the nation. And I believe that.”

–Field Level Media

Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders talks about the Alcorn game and what lies ahead for the Tigers during a news conference at Jackson State in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.

Tcl Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders confirms Colorado offered him head coach gig

Jackson State coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders confirmed Monday that Colorado has offered him its head-coaching position.

Fox Sports reported Saturday that Colorado offered Sanders, 55, the vacant role. Sanders was asked about the report Monday during a conference call ahead of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship game.

“The report is true,” Sanders said.

Sanders also said Colorado is not the only program that’s showing interest in him.

“I’m not going to sit here and tell all my business, but they’re not the only ones,” Sanders said.

Colorado fired coach Karl Dorrell in October following an 0-5 start this season. Mike Sanford served as the interim coach as the Buffaloes finished the year 1-11.

Colorado has had only two winning seasons since 2006.

Sanders was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time All-Pro during his NFL career. He won two Super Bowl titles and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

He’s made waves in his three seasons as coach of Jackson State, a historically black university playing at the FCS level.

Jackson State is 11-0 this season and will play Southern in the SWAC title game Saturday. The winner advances to the Celebration Bowl against the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Dec. 17.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Bloomington, Indiana, USA;  Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Aidan O'Connell (16) looks to throw a quick pass during the second quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell away from team after brother’s death

Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell is away from the team and with family in Illinois after his older brother, Sean, died late last week.

The Boilermakers believe O’Connell will rejoin the team in time to play in Saturday’s Big Ten title game against Michigan in Indianapolis.

O’Connell completed 18 of 29 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns in this past Saturday’s 30-16 win over Indiana in Bloomington to help clinch the Big Ten West division title.

He was seen crying into a towel in the final minutes of the game and didn’t speak to reporters afterward.

But Sunday, he released a statement through the Purdue football Twitter account to announce the death of his brother. The cause of death wasn’t revealed.

“My family and I would like to express our gratitude for the love and support we have received over the past few days,” O’Connell said in the statement. “We are deeply saddened to share of the passing of my oldest brother, Sean.

“Sean was not only one of Purdue football’s biggest fans, but he was a better son, brother and friend. He lit up any room he walked in and all that knew him testify to his contagious joy.”

Boilermakers coach Jeff Brohm remains amazed over O’Connell’s efforts and leadership on Saturday.

“He played his heart out for his teammates and gave us a great effort,” Brohm said Monday of the performance. “Of course, he’s got things he has to deal with this week, but we’ll be there to support him and whenever we get him back to work, we look forward to that.”

Purdue (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) has received solid play from O’Connell, who has passed for 3,124 yards, 22 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season.

Overall, he has passed for 8,853 yards, 65 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in his career. The yardage ranks sixth in Purdue history and the touchdowns passes are fifth, but he stands just six scoring tosses shy of second-place Mark Herrmann (1977-80).

His career completion rate of 66.6 percent ranks first in program history.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Luke Altmyer (7) runs past Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive lineman Kyle Kennard (9) in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss QB Luke Altmyer entering transfer portal

Ole Miss backup quarterback Luke Altmyer announced Monday that he will depart the program and enter the transfer portal.

Altmyer competed for the starting job prior to the season and in the early part of the campaign before being beaten out by Jaxson Dart, a transfer from Southern California.

“Thank you, Ole Miss,” Altmyer said on Twitter. “These past two years have been nothing short of life-changing. It has always been a dream of mine to play for this great state and the place that I call home. The experiences and lessons I’ve learned and shared are priceless.

“To my teammates, coaches and the community of Oxford, I love you all. It’s time for the next chapter as I intend to enter the transfer portal.”

Altmyer, who is from Starkville, Miss., played in three games this season and completed 8 of 17 passes for 125 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

He started against Central Arkansas in the Rebels’ second game and was 6-for-13 passing for 90 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a score.

Dart started the rest of Ole Miss’ games. He also started the season opener.

Overall, Altmyer passed for 317 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in eight games over two seasons.

–Field Level Media