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The most frustrating part was how time consuming this all was. Finding emails for contacts turned into a one-and-done instead of a week long process. Looking up emails for a targeted outreach was manual and enormously time consuming. Thus, with a new AD on the scene, Addazio is advised to find some offense in a hurry before his seat gets really, really warm by November.
Spread-wise, Addazio has lately not been able to parlay home edge into much of an advantage; the Eagles are vs. BC is, however, vs. Four times the Orange conceded 50 points or more, and the season concluded with a ridiculous loss at Pitt All suggesting that this style of extreme video football is not going to work to any great effect in the ACC until Babers either substantially upgrades the Orange recruiting or makes some adjustments, particularly on the offensive end. But Boeheim is more likely to junk his zone defense than Babers is planning on doing things much differently on the attack end this fall.
Expect more pitch-and-catch with the strike force featuring jr. QB Eric Dungey, who is a prototypical spread pilot and passed for yards a season ago while battling through injuries and conceding significant snaps to backup Zack Mahoney, who was the one firing all of those missiles in the season-ending shootout at Pitt and passed for yards of his own last fall. Always from the spread, Dungey or Mahoney constantly look to exploit one-on-one situations on the edges, often with quick, short throws, many of those last season to sr.
WR Ervin Phillips 90 catches last year from his inside slot but only for yards, highlighting the dink nature of the offense. The deep threat provided last year by the graduated Amba Etta-Tawo who gained better than 16 yards per catch on his 94 receptions is likely to be assumed by sr. Steve Ishmael, who caught 48 passes in There is also a thought among some ACC insiders that the Cuse is also set up to run better than it did last season, almost always on draws or counters, and that RS frosh Markenzy Pierre might be the best back to enroll at Cuse in years, and could be doing a lot of downhill running in this offense.
One of the problems was getting back on the field too quickly after so many quick-three-and-outs by the offense, so, in a sense, the offense could help the defense greatly by just maintaining a bit better ball possession the Cuse ranked third from bottom in ACC time of possession last season. The Orange, however, struggled so badly in pass coverage in that Babers and d. Brian Ward had to ditch man coverage entirely in their Tampa 2 scheme.
Perhaps the return of sr. FS Antwan Cordy from a broken arm that kept him out of nearly every game a year ago will help. The front seven has plenty of experience, though the status of jr. DT Steven Clark is up in the air due to a blood clotting issue discovered in the offseason. But this is basically the same platoon that also allowed over 5.
Questions abound. Fortunately for Babers, he has once again been gifted three straight games at the Carrier Dome to open the season. Since Central Connecticut. A three-game stretch vs. But the occasional high-profile foes could certainly find the Babers style confounding, as was the case last season with Virginia Tech, which never could figure out what the Cuse was trying to do, losing outright as a point favorite!
The only game in which the Orange was favored in was the opener vs. FCS Colgate. Talk about finishing a year on a high note! Notre Dame, the Hokies proceeded to score 35 unanswered points in the second half to win going away in Charlotte. Still, things had obviously gone stale, and no one bothered to talk Beamer out of retirement, which at least he entered in style in a wild Independence Bowl win over Tulsa. Hired away from Memphis, where he resurrected a long-dormant Memphis program, Fuente, who first came to prominence as o.
Fuente, however, seems ready for a long and prosperous run in Blacksburg, now one of the better jobs in the country with a rabid regional fan base and easy access to fertile recruiting grounds such as the Tidewater area spawning ground of Michael Vick and various other Hokie stars , which Beamer mined to great benefit over the course of his career.
Fuente quickly put his stamp on the program last year by implementing the sort of uptempo spread that had made QB Paxton Lynch a first-round NFL draft pick out of Memphis the previous year. The Fuente offense proved a perfect fit for livewire juco QB Jerod Evans, who put together a school record-setting season when passing for yards and 29 TDs while rushing for another yards and 12 TDs. Evans would go undrafted before signing a FA deal with the Eagles, leaving behind what would seem a crater to fill at QB in Blacksburg.
But, as Lee Corso might say, not so fast, my friend, as Fuente believes he has ample talent ready to step into the breach. West Virginia. Which is why Fuente has yet to name a starter into fall camp, where RS frosh Josh Jackson, another livewire, will continue to compete for the job along with juco A. Bush, who started his career at Nebraska. Again, Fuente will be relying upon talented youngsters, such as soph Eric Kumah and RS frosh Phil Patterson and Kalil Pimpleton, emerging as complementary targets to supplement sr.
Fuente would rather not one of his QBs lead the team in rushing again, however, and jr. Travon McMillian, whose yardage dropped from in to last year because Evans kept the ball so often for himself, likely reassumes a featured role in the fall, though he will be pushed by several frisky runners. The right side of the OL is looking for a couple of new starters, but the left side looks rock solid with sr. Foster is replacing three starters along his line, but his platoons have always had an abundance of speed and playmakers, and several past rotation pieces have always been itching at their chance to shine, such as jr.
DT Ricky Walker, who moves into a starting role this fall. The secondary is stacked, with srs. If VPI can get past West Virginia in the aforementioned opener, it should hit the Clemson game unbeaten, and with one of the new QBs having had a month to work out some of the kinks. The fate of the Coastal Division is likely decided by back-to-back November road games at Miami and Georgia Tech, but by that time, the Gobblers might resemble a very well-oiled machine.
Spread-wise, the Hokies recorded their first winning mark a year ago since , a further reminder of how stale things had become toward the end of the Beamer era. Lane Stadium once again became something of a fortress, where the Hokies covered 4 of their 5 ACC games.
That old Hurricane bugaboo, NCAA violations, and the threats thereof, plagued the program for some of those years, resulting in occasional bowl bans. But Miami is now beyond those latest transgressions and ready to scale the heights once again under its second-year coach. Easier said than done, perhaps, as approaching the successes of the Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, and even the early Coker years is going to be a difficult slog.
As for Richt, his hire last year is looking like something of a coup for the Canes, who would be thrilled if Richt delivered the consistent stream of contenders as he did at Georgia. Kirby Smart would be a better choice moving forward. Richt returns 7 starters on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and the schedule is favorable.
Richt, however, will be breaking in a new QB this fall, though it depends upon the source how much the Canes might miss the departed Brad Kaaya, who left early for the NFL and was drafted by the Lions in the sixth round. While Kaaya did post good stats last season, including YP, 27 TDs and only seven picks, in his career he tended to pile up a lot of big numbers vs. For example, another play or two by Kaaya and the Canes might have beaten Florida State in early October instead of a bitter loss that began a 4-game skid.
Kaaya was also vs. By us, we suspect replacing Kaaya might not be all that difficult, though we admit to perhaps being in the minority with that viewpoint. Richt is delaying a decision on who will start the opener vs. Bethune-Cookman until fall camp, though his options might not be as limited as some believe. Junior Malik Rosier is a dual-threat who started a game in when Kaaya was hurt and appeared to be slightly in the lead coming out of spring.
Redshirt soph Evan Shirreffs was a top recruit in the last Al Golden crop of newcomers in Credit goes to d. Manny Diaz. Jackson, who combined for But of the seven returning starters on the stop end, none is a DB, and Diaz will be rebuilding his entire secondary this fall. All-name true frosh DB DeeJay Dallas is a highlight reel two-way threat who could play any position in the secondary or take snaps at WR the other way. Whatever, given the high-caliber recruits and transfers in the fold, most ACC sources do not expect the secondary to be a significant issue in the fall.
Oh yes, about that schedule. If Richt finds his answer at QB, the Canes are going to make plenty of noise this fall. With Richt covering 9 of 13 last season, Miami also enters on a spread uptick. Okay, breathe easier, Yellow Jackets everywhere, as now we can say with some assuredness that was a one-off. Which of course proved premature. Johnson is a proven commodity and remains one of the shrewdest game managers in the land, as he reminded all a year ago.
The thought among many ACC observers was that the conference had finally figured out how to defend the Johnson offense, which appears archaic in this age of Air Raids and Pistols. Johnson reminded all not to write him off too soon when something clicked midway through last season, as Tech would close with six wins in its last seven, including a romp past SEC Kentucky in the Taxslayer nee Gator Bowl. And with several Coastal reps all losing key players after last season, Johnson looks in good shape to capitalize.
Now all Johnson has to do is find a QB with longtime option pilot Justin Thomas having finally graduated after serving as starter for most of the past four seasons. Matthew Jordan, who often handled short-yardage situations a year ago and is well-versed in the nuances of the triple-option. But Jordan suffered a foot injury in spring, allowing jr. Redshirt frosh Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones also impressed enough in spring to keep the QB derby open entering fall camp.
Aside from the graduated Thomas, most everyone else is back on the offensive side from a year ago when the Jackets once again would field a top ten rushing team ypg good for 9th nationally. The OL jelled as last season progressed and returns four starters. B-back Dedrick Mills is a straight-ahead blaster who ran for a team-best yards in just nine games last fall. All of the three key A-backs, or slot backs, from return, led by homerun threat Clinton Lynch Senior Ricky Jeune could be the next in a line of NFL receivers including Calvin Johnson and Demayius Thomas from Tech after gaining better than 17 yards per catch on his 25 receptions last season.
Ted Roof, a onetime Duke HC. Last season, Roof achieved better results by simplifying the number of calls and schemes that allowed his unit to play faster. Eight starers return to the platoon including the entirety of the secondary. Still, improvements up front, specifically generating a better pass rush, will be crucial this fall if Tech is to really forge another like breakthrough.
Roof is hellbent to get sr. DE KeShun Freeman to harness the pass-rush ability that he has flashed on occasion in the past. One of the stars of spring was jr. MLB Brant Mitchell, a returning starter who appears ready to assume a leadership role in the platoon.
The recipe for a Johnson defense has always been to force just enough negative plays and turnovers to get the ball back into the hands of the clock-gobbling option, and Tech did a decent job of that last season, such as the Virginia Tech game when nickel back Lawrence Austin recorded two picks and a fumble recovery, keying a upset at Blacksburg in mid-November.
Austin is one of aforementioned returnees in a secondary that returns intact and that also includes his twin brother Lance at one of the corners. Tough dates await at Miami and Clemson in October, and while some Jacket backers might still be spooked by what happened in , we suspect Tech looks more like it did a year ago and stays in the Coastal mix all of the way, especially if one of the new QBs can emerge.
Spread-wise, remember that Johnson has often delivered big success in the past, with and efforts vs. A recurring problem has been Miami, which has won and covered seven of the past eight. No series spread trend, however, has been more curious than the one vs. Georgia since Though the bowl loss vs. Northwestern at cold Yankee Stadium was a bit of a downer, the Panthers authored one of the more intriguing storylines in the nation last fall under second-year HC Pat Narduzzi, previously a longtime sidekick to Mark Dantonio at both Michigan State and Cincinnati.
Still, Narduzzi would probably rather not have to go the video football route again this fall as Panther games in often had more back-and-forth than a Rafa Nadal match at Wimbledon. Especially that aforementioned regular-season ender vs.
But I'll go back and say there's no such thing as a bad win. If it were up to Narduzzi, improvement from his defense a speciality from his years alongside Dantonio would preclude those sorts of shenanigans recurring this fall, though in truth it is going to be asking a lot of the offense to put up the same sorts of numbers and score another 41 ppg as it did a year ago. First, offensive architect Matt Canada, who had become a hot commodity by the end of last season, moved to LSU in a similar role.
After recovering from his cancer scare, Conner rushed for yards and 16 TDs in , and provided an emotional lift for the program. But the Panthers will need some new faces to deliver. One of those is Southern Cal grad transfer QB Max Browne, once considered the highest-rated QB in the country when coming out of high school in , but now down to his last chance after sitting for a couple of seasons behind Cody Kessler and then being beaten out by Sam Darnold a year ago.
Hired from Indiana, Watson has a long pedigree as a QB coach and o. It would help Watson if Browne is as successful on first downs as was Peterman a year ago, when the Panthers would gain a whopping 7. The wideouts are electric; sr. Jester Weah gained over 24 yards per catch ranking second nationally on his 36 receptions last season, 10 of those for TDs while Quadree Henderson yes, Pitt features both a Qadree and a Quadree on its offense caught 60 passes in while gaining better than all-purpose yards pg, helped by his liberal use on reverses and jet sweeps that accounted for rush yards.
Three starters return along a big line that goes lbs. Thus the departure of seven starters from that platoon might be a bit of addition by subtraction. The leaky pass defense, however, should get an immediate boost from the return of jr. Look for the instinctive Whitehead to be used occasionally on the offensive side as well. Narduzzi, who has recruited heavily on defense in his first three classes, might see one of those challenge sr.
Narduzzi and d. Josh Conklin will also have to replace the disruptive DE Ejuan Price, who recorded 13 sacks and 23 tackles for loss last season before being taken by the Rams in the draft. Indeed, five new starters must be plugged in across the front seven. DE Ron Blair. Overall, the loss of 12 starters, including key cogs Peterman and Conner, plus o. Narduzzi and Pitt fans will also be hoping QB Browne takes better advantage of his last college opportunity than he did a year ago at SC.
Stay tuned for further developments. Meanwhile, for all of the excitement last season, Pitt was only vs. Narduzzi is also just vs. After all, HC Larry Fedora has propped up what was a slumbering program before his arrival from Southern Miss in The tail, it seemed, was once again wagging the dog at the NCAA offices. Some of those grades allowed athletes to stay eligible. Some helped them graduate. This was largely the work of two former employees, but it was hardly a covert operation.
What makes the Tar Heel scandal so egregious, so infuriating, is the lengths to which the school has gone to excuse it and avoid responsibility for it. All the while, those at UNC and many of their sycophants in the national media continue to try and pass the violations off as much ado about nothing. Before we depart the topic, however, the one coach at Chapel Hill who appears in the clear is probably Fedora, as these alleged infractions took place before he arrived.
The same might not apply to Roy Williams. Stay tuned. That would be Brandon Harris, a grad transfer from LSU who started most of the season in Baton Rouge and is the only player on the roster who has thrown a college pass. Another transfer, RB Stanton Truitt, arrives from Auburn and likely gets the bulk of the carries along with highly-touted true frosh Michael Carter after the Heel infantry bogged down ranked th a year ago. Senior WR Austin Proehl 43 catches LY is the lone accomplished returnee at the receiver spots, where Fedora will lean heavily upon newcomers to replace departed Ryan Switzer and Bug Howard, who combined for catches and nearly yards a year ago.
Three starters do return along an OL that has been able to add a couple of other grad transfers, C Cam Dillard via Florida and G Khaliel Rodgers via Southern Cal , both likely in the lineup for the opener vs. Meanwhile, the UNC defense hopes to take a few more steps forward this fall after it showed improvement the past two seasons under then-d.
Gene Chizik, who has moved on from Chapel Hill to spend more time with his family. The stop unit scheme will remain the same under new d. John Papuchis, promoted from LB coach. The first task of Papuchis is to improve performance against the run, where the Heels were lacking a season ago when allowing an ACC-worst ypg ranking th.
Stewart are All-ACC candidates, but the Heels only recorded a hard-to-believe one interception last season, a mark that must improve. The schedule is manageable, but only a Nov. Western Carolina looks like a sure win, with no other gimmes on the slate. The worrying about any pending NCAA penalties can probably wait until , or As we know, the NCAA often takes its time in such matters.
In openers, however, UNC has failed to cover its last four. Within the ACC Coastal, note covers in 6 of the last 7 vs. Virginia, which the road team has covered four straight vs. But no one in Cavalier Nation was expecting a fall to ; the Wahoos had not had a worse mark since , when a finish got HC Dick Bestwick fired and preceded the inspired hire of George Welsh from Navy.
Mendenhall predecessor Mike London never recovered from his own mark in , but at least UVa was covering pointspreads consistently in his last two years before getting the boot. Welcome, Bronco, to the ACC, a lot tougher neighborhood than it used to be, and much more of a challenge that the Indie slates Mendenhall was dealing with in his last few years at BYU.
Still, no outward signs of regret from the ultra-organized Mendenhall, a class act whose corporate demeanor has played well with Brit Hume, Fred Barnes, and various other Cav alumni. Still, was a cold dose of the reality for Mendenhall, who took all eleven of his BYU teams to bowl games. It looked for a while as if Bronco might continue that streak with his first Cav edition, especially after impressive back-to-back wins over Central Michigan and Duke, when UVa scored 83 points in the process, into early October.
But the offense gradually lost traction as work along the line began to deteriorate, with nagging injuries and lack of depth the main culprits, and the 'Hoos didn't win another game. Mendenhall sought a quick fix in the offseason with the addition of three grad transfers to provide immediate relief; ex-Oklahoma State G Brandon Pertile looks the best of that bunch and could become the new anchor of the OL that returns only two starters.
Given a bit more time to throw, and with a proper infantry diversion, former East Carolina transfer QB Kurt Benkert could flourish, as he did early last season when passing for 5 TDs and a school-record yards in the win over the Chippewas. This past spring, however, Benkert was finally able to shed his knee brace, and, 15 pounds lighter, looked more mobile.
Corresponding to the OL and pass-protection issues the Cavs ranked a way-too-high th in sacks allowed with 36 , the ground game was suspect last season, ranking a distant st in national rush starts at a disappointing ypg, and must replace top two runners Taquan Mizzell who ran with some flair when gaining YR and Albert Reid. A couple of understudies from last season, jr. Jordan Eliis and sr. Starting wideouts Olamiode Zaccheaus and Doni Dowling both return after combining for catches last season.
DE Andrew Brown, who record 6. Pass coverage should tighten with the return of three starters in the secondary, and CBs Myles Robinson only 4 games LY and Darius Latimore out all of returning from injuries. The Cavs could also help themselves by forcing more than the 17 TOs they recorded a year ago. Still, November looks especially ominous, as Mendenhall gets Georgia Tech-Louisivlle-Miami-Virginia Tech down the stretch, likely keeping UVa out of a bowl for the sixth straight season.
Spread-wise, Cav fortunes also plummeted as progressed, but worth noting that Mendenhall was his last 19 as a dog at BYU, and covered his first four in that role a year ago before UVa dipped to a mark vs. The infuriating drought vs. Unlike on the hoops side, Durham has never been a destination for gridiron recruits, and the program David Cutcliffe inherited from Ted Roof in had endured four winless campaigns in the preceding dozen years, and had won all of ten games in the new millennium in the eight seasons prior to his arrival.
In that context, maybe Cutcliffe deserves to be canonized alongside the Jimbo Fishers and Dabo Swinneys of the ACC after steering the Blue Devils to four straight bowl visits from Suddenly, a sub-. All of that a credit to Cutcliffe, who has not only steered the Blue Devils to respectability over the past decade, but whose success made some overdue facility upgrades possible.
Duke now has a legit, modern football training center and has expanded and renovated historic Wallace Wade Stadium, which once upon a time hosted a Rose Bowl that required a temporary home away from Pasadena due to fears after the Pearl Harbor attack. True story and one we might expand upon at some other time on these pages.
After the injuries, bad breaks, and head-scratching losses of , a bounce-back to bowl eligibility is certainly possible at Duke, though a tough non-league slate and the tricky ACC Coastal might make that easier said than done. In a necessary sink-or-swim move, Cutcliffe threw the entire playbook at the multi-talented Jones, who became more comfy as the season progressed and ended with no picks in his last pass attempts, while also running for yards, and engineered an upset win over down-the-street Tobacco Road rival North Carolina in November.
After the emergence of Jones, Sirk has moved as a grad transfer to East Carolina, where he is the projected starter this fall. Up front, Ohio State grad transfer RT Evan Lisle has already moved into the starting unit alongside three other returning starters, who will try to open holes for top returning rusher Shaun Wilson YR LY , who split time as the featured back with now-graduated Jela Duncan in Wilson, however, does not have a durable look at a mere pounds, so expect Cutcliffe and o.
Three of the top four receivers are back, led by the 70 catches of jr. Still, there is some concern up front with only one starter sr. DT Mike Ramsay back in the fold, and sophs Tre Hornbuckle and Terrell Lucas are now being tasked with first-string roles at the DE spots after being thrown into the fire as true frosh a year ago. Ben Humphreys led the team in tackles a year as the defensive design would encourage.
During spring, co-d. Jeremy McDuffie from a corner to a safety spot. If the Devils can come out of their non-league portion at including a mid-November date at Army, which is no gimme anymore, either , they ought to have a shot at a bowl return. The ACC, however, is a tougher neighborhood these days, and while Cutcliffe had QB Jones waiting in the wings after Sirk went down last August, he does not appear to have that same sort of cover behind Jones.
Keeping his QB healthy will be crucial for Cutcliffe this fall. Spread-wise, Cutcliffe has been a featured performer in recent years and enters with a spread mark since , though the numbers are not quite as impressive the past two seasons. Cutcliffe is also as an underdog since The Rebels figure to be the main attraction in Hoover - mostly because of off-the-field issues.
The Rebels are in the midst of an NCAA investigation that's lasted nearly five years, and now there are 21 alleged violations that include academic, booster and recruiting misconduct. Adding to the off-the-field misery, former Mississippi coach Houston Nutt filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against the university and its athletics foundation, alleging a breach of his severance agreement because of false statements he says school officials made during the ongoing NCAA investigation.
Nutt was the Rebels' coach from to ' Current coach Hugh Freeze is entering his sixth season. Freeze's job status is somewhat tenuous because of the NCAA investigation and last year's record. He did win 19 games over the and seasons, including two victories over mighty Alabama.
Auburn coach Gus Malzhan also enters the season with questionable job security. The Tigers finished last season, including in the SEC, but are just in the league over the past three seasons. Auburn does return a big chunk of its offense, and Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham appears to represent an upgrade at quarterback. South Carolina coach Will Muschamp is preparing for his second season in Columbia.
The Gamecocks were last season, in the SEC. Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley returns after throwing for 1, yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions in his first college season. They're both facing a different kind of heat now. Mississippi's Hugh Freeze could find his job on the line for a different reason, depending on the outcome of an NCAA investigation into his program. The Aggies won their first six games and rose to No.
And we have to do better than we've done in the past. Aggies receiver Christian Kirk said talk about Sumlin's job security ''just kind of goes out the window'' for players. Coach Sumlin's not the one who's going out there playing. It's us. It's on us, those second-half slumps at the end of the season. The scrutiny is increasing for Tennessee's Butch Jones and Bret Bielema of Arkansas, even if their jobs probably aren't on the line going into this season.
If Freeze's job comes into jeopardy any time soon, it won't be because of on-the-field performance. The Rebels were two years ago and are the only SEC team to beat Alabama over the past three seasons, doing it twice. The NCAA case involves alleged academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct.
Ole Miss has disputed some of the NCAA's charges, including lack of institutional control and failure to monitor by Freeze. Both Sumlin and Malzahn have both found themselves trying to reclaim the magic of their first years, when they had dual-threat quarterbacks. Both have since been desperately seeking another QB to run their up-tempo offenses nearly as well. He became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. At Auburn, Malzahn debuted a year later with a junior college transfer Nick Marshall.
The Tigers won an SEC title and made it to the national championship game while leading the nation in rushing. They've lost 16 games in the three seasons since and are in the league. Even more damaging, Auburn is the past three seasons against top rivals Georgia and Alabama. He was really good at Houston. What is he? If that LSU pass had been completed with a second left as opposed to no time, I don't think we'd be having this conversation.
AP Missouri coach Barry Odom was surprised at the buzz he was feeling around Southeastern Conference media days on Wednesday morning as he made the rounds among reporters. Then, the second-year coach realized what was happening: ''Nick Saban was before me. Coach Saban was the rock star of the road show, explaining how he hoped his program would improve after losing to Clemson in last year's national championship game.
I don't want to waste a failure. What could we have done better? The Aggies have started fast the past three seasons before slumping to an record each time. Aggies athletic director Scott Woodward has already said that Sumlin ''knows he has to win. Missouri and Kentucky are both hoping to improve this season after ups and downs in The Tigers finished with a record last season, including a mark in the SEC.
Odom was blunt when describing his team's struggles, saying the setback ''hurts your soul. The Tigers played well down the stretch in - beating Vanderbilt and Arkansas - and return 10 starters on offense, including junior quarterback Drew Lock. Kentucky's Mark Stoops is returning for a fifth season after leading the Wildcats to a record last season, including a mark in the SEC.
The Wildcats hope to build off their bowl appearance in , returning eight players on offense and nine on defense. Kentucky's four wins in SEC play last season were the most for the program since , but Stoops said that's no guarantee for future success.
We're certainly not backing up. We're worried about us getting better to put us in a position to contend each and every week. But the Southeastern Conference's once-undisputed status as college football's top league is facing strong challenges from both the ACC and Big Ten despite Alabama's best efforts. The Crimson Tide certainly remains formidable as ever, if not invincible, at the top.
Beyond that, there's plenty of uncertainty - and in some cases mediocrity - in a league that won seven straight national titles from Florida State claimed the title with a win over Auburn four years earlier. The ACC isn't the only league mounting a challenge to the league's supremacy. The league did go in bowl games.
The Tigers lost to Oklahoma. Still, SEC teams are faring well on the recruiting trail, with half of the top 12 signing classes in the Sports composite rankings this year. Alabama was No. For Finebaum, the difference comes down to the head coaches. I mean, after Saban, who's next?
And even if you come up with that answer, it's not concrete. That league went against SEC teams and won four of five postseason games. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey gets philosophical when asked whether the league has slipped, even quoting a longtime manager of Manchester United. So you accept that. But I don't at all think that's a representation of slippage.
You want to win them all, but sometimes you don't. Alabama has won 17 consecutive SEC games, all but three by double-digit margins. A dismantling of Florida in the SEC championship game would indicate a sizable distance between the Tide and the rest of the league, though rival coaches are mostly unwilling to measure that gap. Georgia coach Kirby Smart, a former Tide defensive coordinator, said the key to closing that gap will be not just recruiting top players but developing them once they arrive on campus.
The only bright side of that scenario is that if the Trojans win the Pac South, they will have two weeks to prepare for the Pac Championship Game. The non-conference slate consists of a pair of home games vs. The games against the Pac North are vs. Stanford, at California, at Washington State and vs.
Oregon State. The trip to Boulder to face the defending Pac South champs will come in mid-November, meaning Colorado will have a cold-weather home game against the Trojans. The Buffaloes will be looking to avenge a loss at The Coliseum last season. Also, the Trojans have been cashing tickets galore as home favorites recently, going against the spread last season and since However, the Bruins endured a nightmare campaign in with star quarterback Josh Rosen missing the last six games with a shoulder injury.
UCLA will be in revenge mode in its opener at home on a Sunday vs. The Aggies beat the Bruins in overtime in College Station last year. Hawaii and at Memphis. Two tough situational spots due to travel will be at Stanford the week after flying across the country to Memphis, and the other is at Utah on a Friday one week after playing at Washington.
The Bruins get their bye after hosting Colorado, giving them two weeks to prep for a game at Arizona. They host Cal on a Friday in the regular-season finale. North Dakota, at BYU and vs. San Jose State. North Dakota is on a Thursday, giving the Utes a few extra days of rest and preparation for the Week 2 trip to Provo to face the Cougars.
BYU will be playing its third game in as many weeks it opens on Aug. Then they get their open date ahead of a home game vs. Stanford on Oct. There are no back-to-back road contests. When Utah hosts Colorado in its regular-season finale on Nov. Stanford, at Oregon, vs. Washington State and at Washington. ATS Note: Utah owns an incredible spread record with six outright victories in its last 15 games as an underdog of 6. Colorado State on a Friday in Denver , vs.
Texas State and vs. Northern Colorado. For its non-divisional games, CU plays vs. Washington, at Oregon State, at Washington State and vs. With that said, the trips to Corvallis and Pullman do come in consecutive weeks in mid-October. As noted above, CU has a bye before playing at Utah. Also, we should point out that Colorado went ATS as a road underdog last year and is in its last eight such situations. New Mexico State, vs. San Diego State and at Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will be looking for revenge after dropping a decision in Tempe last year.
Oregon, at Stanford, vs. Washington and at Oregon State. We should also point out that the trip to Corvallis will be a cold-weather matchup, but the only other potential cold-weather game is at Utah on Oct. ATS Note: After and campaigns that were preceded by a pair of win seasons, ASU is looking to avoid a third straight losing year for the first time since the mids. Northern Arizona, vs. Houston and at UTEP to complete non-conference action in its first three games.
The trip to El Paso comes on a short week for a Friday game. That gives Arizona an extra day of rest compared to the Utes. UA has its open date next, giving it 15 days to prepare for an Oct. The games against the other side of the conference include at Cal, vs. Washington State, vs. Oregon State and at Oregon. On the flip side, the Wildcats have limped to a ATS mark in their 14 games as road underdogs since Montana and vs.
Fresno State. The only set of back-to-back road games comes next, as the Huskies open league play at Colorado and at Oregon State. UCLA and vs. Also, Stanford will be in major revenge mode after getting smashed by the Huskies last year. Washington that many believe will determine the Pac North. After that long flight down under, Stanford gets its first of two open dates ahead of a game at Southern Cal. The Cardinal are at San Diego State next in the first of two back-to-back sets of road games.
The other falls with games at Oregon State and at Washington State. The advantage lies in getting two extra days to prepare for the trip to Pullman to face Luke Falk and Co. Cal and Utah both get two weeks to prepare for Stanford. UCLA, vs. Arizona State and at Utah. Oregon: Oregon plays its first 10 games in succession before getting a bye ahead of a home game vs.
Southern Utah, vs. Nebraska and at Wyoming in non-conference action. Oregon will be seeking revenge after giving up a late lead in a loss to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln last year. Utah and vs. Zero foes get an open date before facing the Ducks. Washington for the Apple Cup.
The Cougars open the season with five home games, including non-conference contests vs. Montana State, vs. Boise State and vs. The non-division games are vs. USC, vs. Colorado, at Arizona and at Utah. Portland State and vs. Colorado, at Arizona and vs. The Beavers have two open dates, but the one before hosting Stanford on Thursday is a wash. The other provides a nice situational spot for OSU, as it gets two weeks to prep for Washington, which will be on the road for a second straight week.
With the Thursday game against Stanford, the Beavers will get two days of extra prep time for a Nov. The only back-to-back road spot is the following weekend at Arizona. The lone non-cover was by merely one-half point in a loss to Boise State as a The Beavers covered the number in each of their last five home games last year, winning outright three times.
Weber State and vs. Ole Miss. The Golden Bears have the following games against the Pac South: vs. The regular-season finale against the Bruins is a tough spot, as it falls on a Friday one week after playing at Stanford. Big 12 has 3 new coaches, new media venue July 16, FRISCO, Texas AP When the Big 12 kicks off its football media days on Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be able to tout a winning record in bowl games last season and the still-growing revenue for the league's 10 schools.
What the league really needs this season is to get a team into the College Football Playoff. There are still many outsiders with negative perceptions of the smallest Power Five league, which hasn't won a national championship since Texas with Vince Young a dozen seasons ago and has had only one playoff team in the first three years of that final-four format. Obviously, that's where we want to be,'' said Bowlsby, who recently marked his five-year anniversary leading the league.
There are at least five suitors and only four seats. We know we need to be in more. It's as simple as that. Oklahoma's David Boren, the only one of the Big 12 presidents who has been in his position since the league's inception two decades ago, was asked during the spring meetings the importance of the CFP when judging the league's success.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said a league championship game provides another positive factor for the CFP selection committee to consider when determining the top four teams. The Big 12 had been the only of the Power Five leagues without a championship game last season. But it also is the only of the five leagues that plays a round-robin schedule - something that hasn't changed, guaranteeing a rematch from the regular season the first weekend in December.
That is part of The Star, the nearly year-old complex in suburban Frisco where the Dallas Cowboys have their headquarters and practice facilities. According to 5dimes. Bowl Fodder And speaking of non-conference opposition, the MAC has been little more than feedstuff for opponents in bowl games dating back to , as they are just SU and ATS in post season play in that span.
It should be noted, though, they have picked up the slack of late, managing to go SU and ATS in these same games the past three seasons. Nationally, Bowden ranks sixth among active coaches in career wins. Good news also returns on both the offensive 4 starters and defensive lines 2 in After losing starts to graduated seniors in tied for the most in the nation , Akron was forced to suck it up last year.
The benefits should begin to surface in After winning 36 games the previous four years, the Falcons fell like birds without wings en route to a 4-win campaign, thanks mainly to an offense that ranked dead last in passing efficiency defense last season. Things were so bad that only lowly Kansas had more lost turnovers 36 in Yes, BGSU's offense slipped yards and the defense dipped 40 yards under Jinks, but the Falcons were one of just 20 FBS teams to conclude the season on a winning streak of at least three games, rushing for yards in those contests.
Now with a more experienced group, 3rd-year head coach Lance Leipold is hoping the program can turn the corner. Big plays were the problem: Buffalo gave up 10 runs of or-more yards only seven teams allowed more. UB returns a lot of experience on defense, but the influx of speed on display during the spring game is the most encouraging sign.
And how about a true freshman walk-on running back that led the team in receptions! Is it any wonder that through it all the offense actually improved 8 points and 36 YPG last season? Go figure. In the process they landed a bid in the St. Petersburg Bowl where they went toe-to-toe with an SEC team. For openers, a super-soft schedule in , with only two winning teams from , dots their itinerary.
In addition, the Hawks welcome back 17 starters, including all three linebackers and three members of the secondary from a unit that finished first in total defense in the MAC. Solich is certainly battle tested. The former head coach and running back at Nebraska has lifted OU from the depths of despair to a competitive program, one that seems to play an abundance of close games nine decided by a TD or less last season.
The difference between Solich and the revolving door of coaches in this league is he knows how to win them with 9 wins in the last three seasons coming in close call games. His Cardinals were ranked No. Safe to say a new era is underway at Ball State. FYI: the Cardinals averaged the fewest fans in attendance among all FBS teams last season, drawing just 7, per game. Big brother Michigan led the nation with , The average FBS attendance was 46, Thus, in two seasons with the Chippewas, head coach John Bonamego has not only taken his team to two bowl games, but also battled tonsil cancer in the process.
And it looks as if his run is not about to end anytime soon. The Chips return a 3,yard passer and his top five wideouts, plus most of the defensive two-deep. Looking deeper into their fait di accompli, the Huskies opened the campaign with 6 losses in their first seven games — including a pair of gut-wrenching triple OT defeats — before going on to win three of their final four contests. After all, how does one expect a team beset with quarterback injuries five in the past 18 games to compete?
They may be just SU in their last fifteen games overall, but no one is sleeping on these Huskies. In addition, RB Terry Swanson, who gained yards last season, returns. With the OL returning five players that either started or saw significant action in , look for a lift-off from Toledo this year. But the WMU alum has big feet. Lester, who takes over for departed P. No, probably not. As of July 18, different books had varying odds.
The best price I could find was at 5dimes. On the flip side, Sportsbook. The Gamecocks were coming off a campaign, had zero experience at the quarterback position and were going to be without their All-SEC linebacker Skai Moore, who led South Carolina in tackles in each of his first three seasons before undergoing neck surgery last summer.
This caused Moore to use his redshirt season, but he is poised to return in as a fifth-year senior. Coming off a home loss to Georgia that left South Carolina going into its open date, Muschamp decided to make a bold move. In an attempt to spark the offense, he decided to take the redshirt off of true freshman quarterback Jake Bentley and insert him into the starting lineup vs. Bentley, who was supposed to be a senior in high school in but went to college a year early after Muschamp hired his father as part of his staff, immediately provided some punch to an offense filled with youth.
The win over the Vols, one that improved Muschamp to in his career against UT, for the Gamecocks came as All of a sudden, South Carolina was with a game at Florida on deck. The Gators won a decision, but the Gamecocks beat Western Carolina the next week to get bowl eligible. The regular-season finale was an unmitigated disaster at Death Valley, where the soon-to-be national champions destroyed USC by a count.
The Gamecocks, who nevertheless covered the spread as point underdogs against the 25th-ranked Bulls, were done in by a minus-3 margin in the turnover department. They had a small advantage over USF in total offense , but the Bulls won outright to finish for the year.
Now we move to with USC returning 10 starters on offense and six on defense. The shoulder injury left Barkley unable to play the following week at home in the regular-season finale against unbeaten Notre Dame. Even without Barkley, USC squandered scoring chances galore, including a first-and-goal opportunity from the one yard line in the fourth quarter.
UF went to the Sugar Bowl instead and took a beatdown from Louisville. That was with a true freshman at QB and a pair of true freshmen getting most of the carries in the running game. Bentley completed As a true sophomore in , Samuel hauled in 59 receptions for yards and one TD. He rushed 15 times for yards and six TDs while averaging 6. Obviously, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper likes to get the ball to Samuel on reverses and misdirection plays down in the red zone. Samuel also returned 16 kicks for yards and one TD.
Another true freshman skill player had a major impact last year. The dude has a great name, too, although his mother spelled it wrong. Hayden Hurst, a junior tight end who will turn 24 years of age in late August, is poised to have a monster campaign. Hurst is older because he initially spent two years in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization playing minor-league ball before deciding to give up the sport in favor of football. Hurst caught 48 balls for yards and one TD last season.
Roper uses a lot of two-TE sets and has another good one in junior K. Crosby, who had 23 receptions for yards and four TDs last season. Rico Dowdle and A. Dowdle ran for a team-best yards and six TDs while averaging 5.
Turner rushed for yards and three TDs, averaging 4. He also had 21 catches for yards and one TD. This unit allowed just No SEC opponents scored more than 28 points and Georgia needed a kick return for a TD off of an onside kick in the final minute to get to that number. The starting CBs have plenty of experience and the prize of the recruiting class is CB Jamyest Williams, who will see plenty of playing time.
North Carolina State Saturday, Sept. Kentucky Saturday, Sept. Louisiana Tech Saturday, Sept. Arkansas Saturday, Oct. Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. Florida Saturday, Nov. Wofford Saturday, Nov. No other foe ran away from the Gamecocks, who suffered their next-biggest loss to UGA Kentucky, Louisina Tech and Vanderbilt. There are three other home games — vs. Arkansas, vs. Florida and vs. I think USC will win at least one of those and if so, that would bring the win total to five.
Although I feel like the best chance at a win among those three is vs. By the way, the Gamecocks went SU at home last year as well. This leaves us needing only one win on the road or in the opener vs. North Carolina State in Charlotte. Likewise, a Week 2 trip to Missouri is undoubtedly a game the Gamecocks can win.
In addition, a home game vs. The two other road games are at Tennessee and at Georgia. USC will be an underdog in both contests, and UT will have revenge on its mind and has two weeks to prepare. Freeze resigns as Ole Miss football coach after 5 seasons July 20, Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday after university officials found a ''pattern of personal misconduct'' that started with the school's investigation into a call to an escort service.
Freeze's resignation brings a stunning end to a five-year tenure that saw a Sugar Bowl victory, but also a wide-ranging NCAA investigation into rules violations. His ultimate downfall came after school officials investigated Freeze's phone records and found misconduct. The school then looked into the rest of his phone records and found more problems. Bjork said Freeze ''admitted the conduct'' and that the coach offered his resignation Thursday afternoon.
When pressed to explain Freeze's conduct, Bjork said the school needed to ''protect that information. An internet search shows the number linked to a site that offers various escort services. I don't think there was even a conversation. There's nothing to it. Vitter and Bjork both said Freeze's resignation is strictly because of his personal conduct and not because of the ongoing NCAA investigation.
The Rebels had a quick rise under Freeze, recruiting at a high level and reaching an apex with a Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State following the season. But an NCAA investigation - alleging 21 charges of academic, booster, and recruiting misconduct - has overshadowed much of that success, especially over the past year. The school has already self-imposed several penalties, including a one-year postseason ban for the upcoming season.
Bjork said that Freeze will receive no buyout on his contract. The year-old Freeze's shocking exit - just a few weeks before preseason camp begins - completes a stunning fall for a coach considered one of the profession's rising stars a few years ago.
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