College Football

Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson throws during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Connecticut, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

AP All-America Watch: New star Bosa; Sills catching for WVU

(PhatzRadio Sports / AP)    —-    The Associated Press has been honoring college football’s best with an All-America team since 1925. This season, the AP released its first preseason All-America team and will also release a midseason team next week before the full, three-team All-America selections are unveiled in December. The fifth installment of the weekly All-America watch features a Buckeye following in his big brother’s footsteps, a converted QB catching on at West Virginia and some struggles for the Heisman winner.

INTRODUCING

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State.

The little brother of former Ohio State All-American Joey Bosa, who was a first-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, is no secret to college football fans. Nick Bosa was a five-star recruit out of high school and a handful for opposing offenses as a freshman last year. This year, he might be the best player on one of the best defensive lines in the country. Bosa has 10 tackles for loss to lead a defense that is tops in the nation in that category. Like his brother, he is relentless with a good combination of quickness and strength.

Outlook: The Buckeyes are four-deep at defensive end in future NFL draft picks. Bosa doesn’t necessarily need to play a lot of snaps but he’s too good to keep off the field for too long and with tougher games coming for Ohio State — Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan — he should get plenty of chances to showcase his talents.

WHO’S HOT

David Sills V, WR, West Virginia.

In case you have not heard Sills’ story: As a 13-year-old, he was a quarterback prodigy who was offered a scholarship by Southern California. In two stints at West Virginia, with a JUCO stop in between, he transitioned to receiver and is now one of the best in the Big 12. He caught two more touchdown passes against TCU on Saturday and has nine to lead the nation.

WHO’S NOT

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville.

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and All-American still has numbers that rank among the best in the country (416.7 total yards per game). And that is while playing behind an offensive line that continues to provide lackluster protection. But the bottom line: In Jackson’s last two games against FBS opponents (No. 2 Clemson and No. 20 North Carolina State) he has completed 53 percent of his passes and averaged 3.8 yards per carry.

ON THE LINE

(Former Auburn offensive lineman and ESPN analyst Cole Cubelic identifies an o-lineman worth watching)

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan.

The 330-pound senior is strong at the point of attack and shows good mobility and range in pass protection. Many will bring up the level of competition playing in the Mid-American Conference but Okorafor handles it the way he should: he dominates. He helps pave the way for the MAC’s best running game.

FABULOUS FRESHMEN

True freshmen don’t often become All-Americans but these players have a chance:

— Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin. The Badgers’ next great back is fourth in the nation in rushing at 153.4 yards per game.

— C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida. The Gators’ next great corner already has two picks-six touchdowns.

— Josiah Scott, CB, Michigan State. The Spartans put a lot on their cornerbacks and Scott has been one of the keys to a revitalized defense.

ALL-AMERCIA MATCHUP

Florida OT Martez Ivey vs. Texas A&M DE Landis Durham.

Intriguing matchup between a former five-star recruit who has been an inconsistent performer (Ivey) and one of the more surprising players in the Southeastern Conference this season (Durham).

Durham was a sparingly used linebacker the last two seasons. He moved to defensive end with the Aggies in need of replacements for draft picks Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. Durham has steadily made his way up the depth charts with a team best 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Ivey, a 305-pound junior, played guard his first two seasons before sliding out to left tackle this year. The transition has been less than smooth, but he has an opportunity to finish strong.

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Washington coach Chris Petersen has moved on from the debate over Pac-12 After Dark, those late-night televised conference games that end in the wee hours on the East Coast.

But it’s worth noting he did bring up a topic that’s been debated on the West Coast for some time. Some say those late TV games are a great showcase for the Pac-12, others say it’s tough on the players.

Some, like Petersen, wonder if it’s actually hurting teams to start so late when it comes to exposure . And, by extension, many wonder if it impacts things like postseason awards: After a long day of Saturday football games, are Heisman voters staying up late enough to see the league’s stars like Washington State’s Luke Falk or Stanford’s Bryce Love?

Last week, Petersen addressed a series of late starts for the Huskies — who have not started a game before 5 p.m. local time this season — and apologized to fans.

“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it,” he said.

The issue was amplified in a not-so-good way over the weekend when Kirk Herbstreit said on ESPN’s College Game Day that Petersen “should be thanking ESPN for actually having a relationship.”

Petersen tried putting the mini-controversy behind him this week. The Huskies play Arizona State on Saturday night, and yes, it’s a late kickoff.

“I don’t have any more thoughts on this. I spoke my piece,” Petersen said. “I’m on to Arizona State and that’s really how it is.”

The reality is that the league has a 12-year, $3 billion contract with ESPN and FOX. Good West Coast teams, like No. 5 Washington, are going to get those late national time slots because there’s no other competition for them.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said member schools have to accept late kickoffs as the trade-off for increased exposure and revenue. He was at California’s game at Washington, which started at 7:50 p.m.

“The night games rate better than the day games,” Scott said. “So what tends to happen is, the better you do the more attractive you are for TV and the more you’re going to get scheduled in the night.”

USC coach Clay Helton said Tuesday that he accepts the entertainment/business aspect of it all.

“The whole thing about college football is we are TV-driven,” he said. “As a coach, I’ve never worried about things I can’t control. There’s sometimes we’re going to play at 12 o’clock, and sometimes we’re going to play at 7:30. You just prepare your team for those different situations.”

It’s not a new issue. The Pac-12 CEO Group made up of presidents and chancellors from its member schools approved a recommendation last year to modify the league’s agreement with ESPN and FOX to reduce the number of Pac-12 Network night games with a start of 7 p.m. or later.

“The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement at the time. “The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person.”

Stanford coach David Shaw has been critical of late starts because of the impact on his players. He said last week that “I think it gets difficult if that’s most of what you play.”

“Most of us are zombies on Sunday morning because we get home at 2 o’clock in the morning. Some of the road trips, guys are getting home at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. The players — for a lot of teams it’s their day off — it’s hard for them to get back to their studies because they’re sleeping in half the day,” Shaw said.

Stanford hosts Oregon this weekend with a kickoff time of 8 p.m.

Washington State coach Mike Leach doesn’t have a problem with late kickoffs, such as Friday’s 7:30 p.m. start for the No. 8 Cougars at California.

A night owl, Leach is more upset by morning kickoffs. He said 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. is the ideal time to start a football game.

Leach also disputes the notion that night games hurt West Coast teams hoping to get into the College Football Playoff or get their players national exposure when it comes to the biggest awards.

“I’ve been to the East Coast,” he said. “The bars there don’t close till 4 a.m. because they’re planning to stay up late.”

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AP Sports Writer Tim Booth in Seattle and Nick Geranios in Spokane, Washington, contributed to this report.

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More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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