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College football gameday: Florida Gators seniors contemplate Swamp finale

Quotable

"If we get to the point after USC that we're undefeated, I'll go on Oprah if I have to. Maybe I'll come back on Sirius. But for right now, quite honestly, I'm just going to worry about winning football games."

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame coach, to Sirius radio on the campaign he'd wage for a spot in the national title game if the Irish, Oregon and Kansas State all remain undefeated; no word on if anyone's told him Oprah is no longer on TV

Information from the Associated Press and Philadelphia Daily News was used in this report.

Badgers star nears TD mark

Needing just two touchdowns to become the all-time leader in major college football, Wisconsin RB Montee Ball, right, would like nothing more than to get the record today when the Badgers (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) host unbeaten Ohio State in Ball's final game at Camp Randall Stadium.

"It's going to be extra special to do it at home, if it happens," he said. "It'd be ideal to break a record like that on home turf, in front of our fans."

Ball has 77 career touchdowns after running for three scores against Indiana last weekend. That's two more than 1998 Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, and one fewer than current Division I-A record-holder Travis Prentice of Miami (Ohio).

"It's pretty exciting. We take pride in that and having him be able to have the opportunity to break the record," WR Jared Abbrederis said. "It's been awesome watching him."

Johnny Football or John Heisman?

No moment is too big for him. That's what first-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin had to say about redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel, a worthy successor to Ryan Tannehill.

"He gives our players a sense that anything can happen," Sumlin said. "It's a contagious feeling."

Ask Alabama. Manziel has put himself in the Heisman Trophy conversation, and his school launched a website to pump his campaign: johnnyfootball.aggieathletics.com. He might even be in line behind Kansas State senior QB Collin Klein.

Who could have figured? But that's what happens if you beat the top-ranked reigning champions at their place. The Aggies (8-2) have already won more games than they did a year ago in the Big 12, when they were picked to finish second and ended up one game above .500. This year they were picked fifth in the SEC West.

Manziel has been described as a faster, slightly taller version of Doug Flutie. Yet rivals.com only listed him as a three-star recruit. ESPN said he was the 78th-best QB in his class.

He has thrown for 2,780 yards and 18 TDs, and run for 1,014 and 15, for a team that has the second-highest strength of schedule in Division I-A (its losses were at home against Florida and LSU, by a total of eight). He leads the SEC in rushing. When QB Tim Tebow won the Heisman as a sophomore in 2007, he accounted for 4,181 yards and 55 TDs on a 9-4 Florida team.

No freshman has ever won the Heisman. Three finished third: Georgia Tech's Clint Castleberry (1942), Georgia's Herschel Walker (1980) and Virginia Tech's Michael Vick (1999). Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson (2004) was a runner­up.

ACC defenses, by the numbers

ACC teams are giving up points and yards at their highest rate in more than a decade:

26.2 Average points per game allowed this season, up 1.5 from a year ago.

389.4 Yards per game allowed, up 20.4 from a year ago.

1995 The last season ACC teams allowed more yards per game.

118 Combined points in Georgia Tech's 68-50 victory over North Carolina last week, the highest scoring game in ACC history.

242.9 Yards per game allowed by Florida State, the exception to the ACC's futility by ranking first in Division I-A.

Enjoy every moment because it goes by quickly. • College football players hear that from coaches and former players from the moment they arrive on campus, yet somehow some Gator seniors said this week that it didn't hit home until now. • "Time flies fast when you're playing ball," WR Frankie Hammond said. "The four or five years I've spent here have gone by and the time is here. I've enjoyed it. It's been a great experience for me. But the time comes where we have to close that door and move on and another door opens for you. I think (it will be emotional) because a lot of us have poured our hearts into this program. To finally have it end and finally look at it from the outside in. It will be real emotional, just finally having that hit." • Today, Hammond and 17 others will stand on the field in uniform at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the final time. They are the veterans of a group that made one of the best turnarounds in school history, going from 3-5 in SEC play last season to 7-1. That four-game turnaround matches the 1954 (5-2 after 1-3-2) and 1980 (4-2 after 0-6) teams, and makes today more meaningful for the seniors. • "It's going to be fun," NT Omar Hunter said. "I remember getting here as a freshman, all the excitement I had my first game playing. I think it's going to top that (today). My last game in the Swamp, I'm definitely going to enjoy it. It's definitely going to be emotional."

College football gameday: Florida Gators seniors contemplate Swamp finale 11/16/12 [Last modified: Friday, November 16, 2012 9:35pm]
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