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Colleges

UCF-FIU game vital for both

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 10:52 PM
ORLANDO -

Florida International receiver T.Y. Hilton is one of the hottest players in the country and has landed firmly on the national map.

That makes today's FIU-Central Florida game appealing, even with the marquee Oklahoma-Florida State, Tennessee-Florida and Ohio State-Miami matchups this weekend in this football-laden state.

Four years after choosing FIU over West Virginia and a chance to play in the Big East, Hilton is garnering attention as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate after one of the top early-season performances in an upset over Louisville last week.

Hilton leads the nation with 333 receiving yards and is second with 551 all-purpose yards.

Both UCF and FIU are unbeaten, making it a pivotal contest for programs looking to stay relevant.

FIU coach Mario Cristobal is quick to admit that the face of his program's emerging brand is Hilton.

Cristobal has described the 5-foot-10, 183-pound Hilton as one of the most unselfish players he has coached and said last month anyone would be fortunate to "coach a guy like that in your lifetime."

FIU has a program record of 33-74, but 17 of its 33 wins have come with Hilton wearing a Panthers' uniform.

"It feels good knowing that the program is rising and everybody now is paying attention to us," Hilton said. "I now know that I've to step it up to another level."

LSU: A motion filed by attorneys for suspended quarterback Jordan Jefferson said several alleged victims in a bar brawl involving Tigers players incited the melee with racial slurs and that Jefferson's only role in the fight was to pull teammates away.

The motion asked a judge to rule police had insufficient evidence to arrest Jefferson for second-degree battery last month. It also said the injuries to a man who accuses Jefferson of kicking him the face were not serious enough to warrant a felony arrest.

Defense attorney Lewis Unglesby said 25 witnesses — including several LSU players — provided statements for the motion.

Unglesby said he filed the motion in hopes of salvaging what is left of Jefferson's senior season. Jefferson, who before the season was a projected starter, has missed three games, all victories, for third-ranked LSU.

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