Fisher shows up on Bengals injury report

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 3:01 PM

            DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 18: Jake Fisher #74 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field during the second quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 18: Jake Fisher #74 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field during the second quarter of the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 18, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Right tackle Jake Fisher was a new addition to the Cincinnati Bengals injury report Thursday, showing up with a back injury had limited his participation.

Fisher has started seven consecutive games dating back to last season, although his playing time has been limited the last two weeks with the Bengals employing a three-man platoon with Andre Smith rotating with both Fisher and left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.

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All other changes from Wednesday’s injury report involved player upgrades.

Rookie linebacker Jordan Evans (hamstring) went from out to limited as he practiced for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury in the Week 3 loss at Green Bay, tight ends Tyler Kroft (neck/knee) and C.J. Uzomah (knee), cornerbacks Adam Jones (hip) and Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (knee) and quarterback AJ McCarron (Achilles) were full participants a day after being limited.

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Tight end Tyler Eifert (back), wide receiver John Ross (knee), H-back Ryan Hewitt (knee) and safety Derron Smith (ankle) all sat out again and are not expected to play Sunday vs. Buffalo.

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UCLA coach Steve Alford: Aaron Holiday is definitely a candidate for player of the year

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:58 AM

UCLA coach Steve Alford said earlier this season that the team changes when Aaron Holiday isn’t on the court. That circumstance was on display in the second half on Saturday night against Oregon.

The Bruins blew a double-digit lead in the second half while Holiday was sitting on the bench with foul trouble. When the point guard got back in he led the Bruins to an overtime 86-78 victory.

Alford doubled-down about needing Holiday on the court after the win. He even proceeded to say that Holiday is deserving of NCAA Player of the Year recognition.

“They went on a big run when Aaron was on the bench in foul trouble,” Alford said, per ESPN, via the Associated Press. “They got more aggressive and they made shots. We need Aaron on the court. Our plus-minus when he is not on the court tells you how important he is to us. He is definitely a candidate for player of the year, he’s that important to us”.

Holiday had a game-high 29 points. He talked about the importance of the win following the game.

“Winning like this in overtime shows we have mental toughness and we got it done tonight,” Holiday said, per ESPN, via the Associated Press.

UCLA improved to 19-8 on the season behind Holiday. With three games remaining, UCLA is looking like a sure bet to be in the NCAA tournament and Holiday is building his case to be in the player of the year discussion.



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SEC Bracketology: Kentucky, Arkansas bolster NCAA Tournament profiles, rest of league takes hits

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:45 AM

Saturday was a bad day for almost every potential NCAA Tournament team in the SEC.

Six of the league’s eight projected Big Dancers lost: Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida, Missouri and Alabama. On the bright side, Kentucky and Arkansas, both of whom had been flirting with the bubble, bolstered their resumes with wins over the Crimson Tide and Aggies, respectively.

So now here’s where we stand: The SEC still has eight teams projected to make the field — barely. CBS Sports’ latest bracketology, updated Sunday, includes 2-seed Auburn, 4-seed Tennessee, 6-seed Kentucky (a jump), 7-seed Missouri, 8-seed Arkansas (a jump), 9-seed Texas A&M and 11-seed Florida (facing Texas in a play-in game).

Several of the league’s top teams have hit turbulence heading into the home stretch. Auburn, angling for a No. 1 seed, nearly got run out of the building at South Carolina and lost the SEC’s leading shot blocker, Anfernee McLemore, to a nasty season-ending injury. Tennessee has lost two of three, including a stunner Saturday against Georgia.

The Gators, who have an SEC best seven RPI top-50 wins, have lost two straight (Saturday against Vanderbilt was a real stinker) and five of seven conference games. They also have a gauntlet to end the regular season: at Tennessee, Auburn, at Alabama, Kentucky.

The Aggies reeled off four straight SEC wins but have now lost two in a row. Mizzou won five in a row to bolster its postseason prospects, then took a surprise loss to LSU on Saturday. So what the heck do we make of this league?

All eight NCAA Tournament hopefuls have at least four RPI top-50 wins and only Missouri, Alabama and Florida have a loss to anyone outside the top 100 — but a much stronger SEC has cannibalized itself to a staggering degree: After first-place Auburn (11-3), the next 10 teams all have 5-8 league losses. Kentucky, which was sub-.500 in the league before snapping a four-game losing streak Saturday, is not mathematically eliminated from sharing the regular-season title.

Three Sundays from now, we’ll find out whether the selection committee is inclined to reward the conference’s depth or punish its lack of separation. Meantime, here are the resumes and remaining schedules of the SEC’s eight NCAA hopefuls:

AUBURN (23-4, 11-3)

RPI: 8

KenPom: 10

Strength of schedule: 53

RPI top-50 wins (5): 15. Tennessee (road), 16. Kentucky, 24. Missouri (road), 25. Arkansas, 26. Middle Tennessee

RPI sub-100 losses: None

Road record: 7-2

Remaining games: 31. Alabama, at 61. Florida, at 25. Arkansas, 76. South Carolina

TENNESSEE (19-7, 9-5)

RPI: 15

KenPom: 16

Strength of schedule: 30

RPI top-50 wins (4): 14. Purdue, 16. Kentucky (twice), 21. Texas A&M

RPI sub-100 losses: None

Road record: 6-4

Remaining games: 61. Florida, at 119. Ole Miss, at 68. Mississippi State, 64. Georgia

KENTUCKY (18-9, 7-7)

RPI: 16

KenPom: 32

Strength of schedule: 2

RPI top-50 win (5): 21. Texas A&M, 30. West Virginia (road), 31 Alabama, 44. Vermont, 47. Louisville

RPI sub-100 losses: None

Road record: 3-5

Remaining games: at 25. Arkansas, 24. Missouri, 119. Ole Miss, at 61. Florida

TEXAS A&M (17-10, 6-8)

RPI: 21

KenPom: 26

Strength of schedule: 6

RPI top-50 wins (7): 8. Auburn (road), 16. Kentucky, 24. Missouri, 25. Arkansas, 28. Buffalo, 30. West Virginia, 43. Southern Cal (road)

RPI sub-100 losses: None

Road record: 2-7

Remaining games: 68. Mississippi State, at 102. Vanderbilt, at 64. Georgia, 31. Alabama

MISSOURI (18-9, 8-6)

RPI: 24

KenPom: 37

Strength of schedule: 21

RPI top-50 wins (4): 15. Tennessee, 16. Kentucky, 21. Texas A&M, 31. Alabama (road)

RPI sub-100 losses (1): 192. Illinois

Road record: 4-5

Remaining games: 119. Ole Miss, at 16. Kentucky, at 102. Vanderbilt, 25. Arkansas

ARKANSAS (19-8, 8-6)

RPI: 25

KenPom: 38

Strength of schedule: 61

RPI top-50 wins (4): 15. Tennessee, 21. Texas A&M, 24. Missouri, 32. Oklahoma

RPI sub-100 losses: None

Road record: 2-6

Remaining games: 16. Kentucky, at 31. Alabama, 8. Auburn, at 24. Missouri

ALABAMA (17-10, 8-6)

RPI: 31

KenPom: 43

Strength of schedule: 13

RPI top-50 wins (5): 8. Auburn, 9. Rhode Island, 15. Tennessee, 21. Texas A&M, 32. Oklahoma

RPI sub-100 losses (3): 102. Vanderbilt (road), 119. Ole Miss (road), 131. Minnesota

Road record: 2-6

Remaining games: at 8. Auburn, 25. Arkansas, 61. Florida, at 21. Texas A&M

FLORIDA (17-10, 8-6)

RPI: 61

KenPom: 33

Strength of schedule: 46

RPI top-50 wins (7): 10. Cincinnati, 16. Kentucky (road), 21. Texas A&M (road), 24. Missouri (road), 25. Arkansas, 45. Gonzaga, 49. Baylor

RPI sub-100 losses (2): 102. Vanderbilt (road), 119. Ole Miss (road)

Road record: 4-3

Remaining games: at 15. Tennessee, 8. Auburn, at 31. Alabama, 16. Kentucky

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Olympics give Nebraska’s #GBR Twitter hashtag a British flair

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:47 AM

Kelly Mosier first noticed the hashtag clash over #GBR in 2015. The annual Eurovision Song Contest was taking place, and the British band Electro Velvet was popping up in the Huskers’ Twitter timeline. This might have been the first time Mosier — who is Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for creative and emerging media — noticed the crossover, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The #GBR hashtag is used by the Nebraska athletic Twitter accounts and by Nebraska fans as a symbol of the Huskers’ Go Big Red chant. It’s also short, which means very few characters of the 280-character tweet limit are taken when using it. Along with #Huskers, the #GBR hashtag is easily one of the most popular in the Nebraska social media realm.

However, the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest highlighted that the use of hashtags extends far beyond one subset of people. In this case, #GBR represented Great Britain and became a voting mechanism for Electro Velvet. The hashtag was accompanied by a Union Jack heart.

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How much recruiting matters to winning a Big 12 football title

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2018 @ 8:46 AM

The 2018 college football recruiting cycle has met its end, leaving Big 12 programs with a lot of hope for the future for what each team’s incoming freshmen class can provide on the field.

Recruiting success in the Big 12 isn’t always easy to predict — see Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Conference recruiting rankings, provided by 247Sports’ composite scores, are typically not a bad indicator of which teams will compete for conference supremacy, however, in the immediate future.

Oklahoma, who has won three-consecutive conference crowns, has ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Big 12 recruiting rankings each of the four years leading up to its 2015, 2016 and 2017 conference titles.

Recruiting the best in the 10-team league doesn’t always matter — see Texas’ recruiting rankings in the Big 12 compared to how many conference titles the Longhorns have won this decade.

There’s also Kansas State, who’s Big 12 championship run in 2012 is unreal considering how the Wildcats finished in the recruiting rankings the four years leading up to it.

Here’s a look at the past decade of how each Big 12 champion has finished in the conference recruiting rankings the four years prior to winning the title.

4-year recruiting rankings for each Big 12 champion

Big 12 Champion 2017 2016 2015 2014 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma, 2017 1 2 2 1 1.5
2016 2015 2014 2013 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma, 2016 2 2 1 1 1.5
2015 2014 2013 2012 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma, 2015 2 1 1 2 1.5
2014 2013 2012 2011 Avg. Ranking
Baylor, 2014 3 3 3 8 4.25
TCU, 2014* 7 6 5 5 5.75
2013 2012 2011 2010 Avg. Ranking
Baylor, 2013 3 3 8 8 5.5
2012 2011 2010 2009 Avg. Ranking
Kansas State, 2012 9 9 12 11 10.25
Oklahoma, 2012* 2 2 2 2 2
2011 2010 2009 2008 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma State, 2011 4 5 5 5 4.75
2010 2009 2008 2007 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma, 2010 2 2 1 2 1.75
2009 2008 2007 2006 Avg. Ranking
Texas, 2009 1 2 1 1 1.25
2008 2007 2006 2005 Avg. Ranking
Oklahoma, 2008 1 2 2 2 1.75

A few notes:

  • 2014 TCU and 2012 Oklahoma were tied for first-place in the Big 12 standings, but were beaten head-to-head by 2014 Baylor and 2012 Kansas State, respectively.
  • 247Sports’ composite rankings account for TCU and West Virginia even in years they weren’t in the Big 12. For example, TCU’s 2011 recruiting class would’ve ranked fifth in the Big 12 if it had already been in the conference.

Who has the best shot at winning the 2018 Big 12 title?

It’s hard to say with teams like 2014 TCU and 2012 Kansas State popping up, but for the most part, an average top-5 class over four years in the Big 12 recruiting rankings (seriously, how does Texas not dominate every year?) and solid coaching (oh)  gives a team a good shot at a Big 12 title.

If the past four years are any indication (the top 5 in the Big 12’s recruiting rankings are listed below), it wouldn’t be insane to think Texas or Baylor could compete for the conference crown in 2018, along with Oklahoma, who could easily four-peat with its recent string of success, and TCU.

2018: 1. Texas, 2. Oklahoma, 3. TCU, 4. Baylor, 5. Oklahoma State

2017: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Texas, 3. TCU, 4. Oklahoma State, 5. Baylor

2016: 1. Texas, 2. Oklahoma, 3. TCU, 4. West Virginia, 5. Baylor

2015: 1. Texas, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas Tech, 4. West Virginia, 5. Baylor

West Virginia also has two top-5 recruiting classes that will be juniors and seniors in 2018, which doesn’t account for returning quarterback Will Grier.

Oklahoma State will have to replace a strong 2014 class that included Mason Rudolph and James Washington, but the Cowboys did well recruiting the past two cycles and brought in Hawaii grad transfer quarterback Dru Brown this offseason.

Who will take home the 2018 Big 12 championship is still up for debate, but maybe “stars” do matter a little bit.

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