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Thread: A Sneak Peek At CFB 2018 News/Views/Highlights !

  1. #61
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    Clemson takes center stage on Day 2
    July 19, 2018


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Clemson Tigers will take center stage Thursday as the Atlantic Coast Conference turns its attention the Atlantic Division at the preseason media days.

    The Tigers are 40-4 over the past three seasons, winning three straight conference titles under coach Dabo Swinney.

    The biggest question mark for the Tigers is who'll handle the quarterback duties this year - incumbent Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence, widely considered the No. 1 overall recruit in 2018.

    North Carolina State, which finished 6-2 in the conference last season, is expected to provide the biggest competition for the Tigers.

    Wake Forest, Boston College and Louisville all finished 4-4 in conference play last year, while Florida State was 3-5. Syracuse was 2-6, although the Orange did upset Clemson 27-24 at the Carrier Dome.
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    UNC reports secondary football violations
    July 18, 2018


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) North Carolina has reported secondary violations to the NCAA within the football program involving multiple players.

    In a statement Wednesday night, UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham says the NCAA has deemed the violations to be secondary in severity and that the school has ''taken appropriate disciplinary action.'' The statement didn't specify the nature of that action or the violations.

    Team spokesman Bobby Hundley said the violations involve multiple players, but wouldn't specify a number. When asked about possible suspensions, Hundley said ''specifics have not been finalized'' and didn't elaborate further.

    WRAL TV in Raleigh first reported that the school has self-reported the violations to the NCAA, citing anonymous sources.

    ''We have high expectations of all of our students, coaches and staff, and we expect everyone to abide by and embrace team and NCAA rules,'' Cunningham said in the statement. ''We are disappointed when we fall short, and we always strive to get better.''

    That statement came after coach Larry Fedora, defensive tackle Aaron Crawford and receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams appeared at the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason media days in Charlotte earlier in the afternoon. Fedora didn't reference the violations, though he caused a stir when he said he doesn't believe it's been proven that football causes the degenerative brain disease CTE and offered a passionate defense of a sport he believes is ''under attack.''

    While this case involves secondary violations regarded as less severe, it comes less than a year after UNC finally emerged from a long stretch of serious NCAA issues after spending a large chunk of Cunningham's tenure dealing with top-level NCAA charges.

    First there was an investigation into the football program in 2010 for improper benefits and academic misconduct. That case - which led to Cunningham's arrival from Tulsa in November 2011 - ended when the NCAA issued sanctions in March 2012 that included a one-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions.

    But that case led to the discovery of an even bigger concern: years of irregular courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies department featuring significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports. That prompted questions from UNC's accreditation agency as well as a reopened NCAA investigation, which ultimately led to the NCAA charging UNC with five top-level violations that included lack of institutional control.

    But after years of starts, stops and delays, that case reached a no-penalty conclusion in October when an NCAA infractions committee panel couldn't conclude there were violations because the school had argued the courses were legitimate and available to non-athletes, too
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    The Latest: Deacons look to young QBs while Hinton suspended
    July 19, 2018


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Latest on the Atlantic Coast Conference's preseason media days (all times local):

    1:15 p.m.

    North Carolina State quarterback Ryan Finley says he passed up a chance to turn professional because he wanted one more season of college football.

    Finley calls the college football experience ''special'' and adds that he ''wasn't ready to let that go.''

    The former Boise State transfer says his close relationship with his teammates was a big reason for his return. He says it helps he has ''the best trio of wide receivers in the nation'' in Kelvin Harmon, Jakobi Meyers, and Stephen Louis on his side.

    Finley is the most experienced quarterback in the ACC Atlantic Division with 26 career starts.

    Now that he's back, Finley says his goal is to win a conference championship. He believes NC State has a good chance to build on its 52-31 bowl victory over Arizona State.

    ---

    11:50 a.m.

    Syracuse had one of the fastest-paced offenses in the country last season, averaging a play every 21 seconds. Quarterback Eric Dungey says the Orange want to be even faster.

    Dungey was speaking at the ACC Kickoff preseason media days. He says coach Dino Babers continues to tell the team ''it's not fast enough; we're trying to go even faster.''

    Now a senior and more comfortable than ever in the offense, Dungey thinks the offense has the potential to improve its pace and production with him under center, saying ''everything has slowed down so much for me.''

    Syracuse finished 4-8 last season, although it stunned national power Clemson and was competitive in most games.

    The Orange returns its most experienced offensive line they've had since Babers has been there. But the biggest challenge will be replacing standout wide receiver Steve Ishmael. He was second among FBS wide receivers with 105 receptions and third in yards receiving with 1,347 yards.

    ---

    11:20 a.m.


    League commissioner John Swofford says ''we have to respect the science'' when it comes to the connection between football and the degenerative brain disease CTE.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Swofford says ''football's not alone'' in concerns over concussions in sports. But he says ''football by its very nature is going to be looked at first.''

    Swofford says it's important to be willing to consider adjustments to improve player safety, whether it deals with rules, practice or equipment. He says: ''If we're not looking at it that way, I think we've got our heads in the sand.''

    Swofford was asked about CTE after North Carolina coach Larry Fedora caused a stir Wednesday by saying he doesn't believe football causes CTE and believes the sport is ''under attack.''

    ---

    10:30 a.m.

    Florida State running back Cam Akers is thrilled about playing in new coach Willie Taggart's up-tempo, no-huddle spread offense this season.

    As a freshman last season, Akers averaged 5.3 yards a carry and ran for more than 1,000 yards rushing to go with seven touchdowns. He says the new offense allows him to run in more space with more seams, which should translate into more opportunities to break big plays.

    Defensive end Brian Burns describes Akers as a ''monster'' in the weight room and on the field and expects him to have a huge season.

    Florida State announced in December that Taggart, who served as offensive coordinator at Oregon, would replace Jimbo Fisher as coach. Burns says Taggart has brought a ''no excuses'' attitude to the team and has been holding players accountable for their actions.

    The Seminoles were last in the league in offense last season and Taggart is looking forward to ''changing that narrative'' and winning multiple championships.

    ----

    9:50 a.m.


    Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson says he hasn't decided whether sophomore Jamie Newman or true freshman Sam Hartman will start the season at quarterback while redshirt junior Kendall Hinton is serving a three-game suspension for violating team rules.

    Newman has attempted four passes in college, while Hartman will be in uniform for the first time.

    The Demon Deacons are looking to replace John Wolford, who graduated following a breakout senior season in which he helped Wake Forest win eight games and capture its second straight bowl win in as many years.

    Clawson has called Hinton a ''very dynamic, elusive athlete'' and believes he can help the team once he returns to the field following his suspension.

    ---

    2:25 a.m.

    The Clemson Tigers will take center stage Thursday as the Atlantic Coast Conference turns its attention the Atlantic Division at the preseason media days.

    The Tigers are 40-4 over the past three seasons, winning three straight conference titles under coach Dabo Swinney.

    The biggest question mark for the Tigers is who'll handle the quarterback duties this year - incumbent Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence, widely considered the No. 1 overall recruit in 2018.

    North Carolina State, which finished 6-2 in the conference last season, is expected to provide the biggest competition for the Tigers.

    Wake Forest, Boston College and Louisville all finished 4-4 in conference play last year, while Florida State was 3-5. Syracuse was 2-6, although the Orange did upset Clemson 27-24 at the Carrier Dome.
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    Saban unsure Hurts will stay at Bama
    July 18, 2018


    Alabama coach Nick Saban said he isn't sure whether Jalen Hurts, the Crimson Tide's starting quarterback last season, will be on roster for the opener against Louisville on Sept. 1.

    Saban benched Hurts in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of the national championship game and Tagovailoa threw three touchdown passes to rally the Tide from a 13-0 deficit to a 26-23 victory over Georgia in overtime.

    "I have no idea," Saban said when asked about Hurts' future. "I expect him to be there."

    Neither Hurts nor Tagovailoa was declared the starter for this season after spring practice, and Saban said the matter will be resolved in fall camp.

    Saban has hinted that Hurts and Tagovailoa might share playing time.

    There has been speculation that Hurts would transfer if he is not the starter.

    Hurts, who enrolled early at Alabama as a freshman, is set to graduate in December and would be able to transfer to another school without having to sit out a year to regain eligibility.

    --Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith appeared in Delaware (Ohio) Municipal Court on a trespassing charge, and the case was continued for a final pretrial hearing, Smith's attorney Bradley Koffel told The Columbus Dispatch.

    Smith was arrested on May 12 and charged with one count of criminal trespassing and pleaded not guilty at a previous hearing on June 5, according to court records.

    The arrest record obtained by media outlets states that police were dispatched to the home of Courtney Carano Smith, Zach Smith's ex-wife, in Powell, Ohio, around 8 p.m. on May 12.

    The report indicates that there was no forced entry and no suspected use of alcohol or drugs.

    Smith reportedly admitted to driving his car into the driveway of his ex-wife's apartment after being told in 2017 that returning to his wife's residence could result in a charge of criminal trespass.

    Koffel said Smith was simply dropping off his son after spending the day with him.

    The 34-year-old Smith, who also is the Buckeyes' recruiting coordinator, is the grandson of former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce.

    --Head coach Larry Fedora of North Carolina is under fire for doubting a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy at Wednesday's ACC Kickoff event.

    Fedora said he believes some people are using the data in hopes of destroying the game.

    "I'm not sure that anything is proven that football, itself, causes (CTE)," Fedora told reporters. "My understanding is that repeated blows to the head cause it, so I'm assuming that every sport we have, football included, could be a problem with that as long as you've got any kind of contact.

    "That doesn't diminish the fact that the game is still safer than it's ever been because we continue to tweak the game to try to make it safer for our players."

    Fedora later backtracked slightly, adding that football is not alone in dealing with head injuries, and claiming the game is currently safer than ever before.

    When pressed about whether or not he agrees that there is a correlation between football participation and CTE, Fedora said he believes some studies and not others.

    Fedora said some people, without naming them, routinely use data on CTE to suggest the risk of playing football is too high.

    Numerous organizations, including the NFL, have acknowledged there is a connection between concussions sustained while playing football and the development of CTE, which can result in brain abnormalities and depression.

    Fedora said he is not familiar with the NFL's evaluation of a link between football and CTE, but said players should understand the risks and make their own decisions.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2018 Mountain West Preview
    July 23, 2018


    2018 Mountain West Conference Football Betting Preview

    Can You Spell Defense?

    Forget the ‘The Wall” that our self-proclaimed genius president is insistent on building. All we need instead is a blueprint of the top defenses residing in the Mountain West Conference these days.

    The strength of the Mountain West Conference last year was its defense. That’s’ confirmed by the fact that no less than three teams finished the season ranked in the Top 25 in overall defense: #11 San Diego State (314.5), #22 Boise State (332.6) and #23 Wyoming (335.2).

    20 For 20

    As the Mountain West Conference begins its 20th football season this year it’s worth noting that have more than held their own in games outside the conference. And a stellar 52-38-1 ATS mark as dogs of 20-plus points since its inception, including 12-7 ATS in season opening games likely sets the table for Utah State, and the loop, this season.

    Bowling For Dollars

    Speaking of non-conference clashes, the MWC has more than held its own in bowl games, going 49-41 SU all-time.

    More important, they stand 12-3 ATS all-time as bowl dogs of 6 or more points, with Boise State taking down Oregon, 39-28, as 7-point pups in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl.

    Note: The numbers following each team name represents the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

    AIR FORCE (Offense - *5/1 Defense - 6/2, 52 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: MISSION PROBABLE

    Rest assured, Air Force HC Troy Calhoun did not like staying home for the holidays last year. When the Falcons concluded a dismal 5-7 effort last season, after going 10-3 in 2016, it marked only the second time in 11 seasons that Calhoun’s flyboys failed to earn their bowl stripes. And for what it’s worth, AFA stormed back the next year after failing to land a bowl bid to go 10-3 the following campaign. This is what “mission teams” do, especially of the military variety. Calhoun has averaged 7.5 wins per season with the Academy and with starting QB Arion Worthman back, expect the same to hold true this year. Worthman, 10-6 as a starter, rushed for 935 yards last season and holds the keys to the cockpit.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons are 2-14 ATS in games after facing Army and Navy since 2010.

    PLAY ON: vs. Navy (10/6)


    BOISE STATE (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 10/4, 48 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    STRIVE FOR FIVE

    As we pointed out last year, you have to go back to 1998 to find the last time a Boise State football team failed to win 8 games in a season. In fact, the most consistent Group of Five team in the nation has knocked of six of their last nine Power Five foes. Last season, though, was its first MWC title in three years and they won it behind an offense that slipped 67 YPG. SR QB Brett Rypien will have an array of wide receivers back (sans Cedrik Wilson) and the defense (which improved 57 YPG in 2017) is ridiculously talented and experienced. Tricky road tests at Troy and Oklahoma State in September should put them in better position to successfully defend their crown.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Broncos are 67-2 SU in games vs. .500 or less foes with Bryan Harsin on the sidelines (as OC 2006-2010 and since 2014).

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. New Mexico (11/17)


    COLORADO STATE (Offense - 4/1, Defense - 6/1, 42 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    RAMPING IT BACK UP

    Riding a 5-year bowl skein, including 3-for-3 under head coach Mike Bobo, the Rams must replace the 2nd most overall total starters (15) in the nation, including 7 from a potent offense that featured all MWC QB Nick Stevens as well as three all-conference offensive linemen. That’s because seniors accounted for a whopping 69.6% of all starts last season – tops in the nation. Together they’ve led an explosion in all three seasons under Bobo that has seen CSU’s offense rank in the Top 10 nationally in total yards, yards per game, yards per point, first downs, rushing yards, total points and points per game. Yeah, that was impressive. Losing four of their final 5 games, though, was not. This will be a pivotal year for the Rams with hopes lying heavily on new QB K.J. Carta-Samuels, a Washington Huskies transfer who spurned UCLA to come to Fort Collins.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    The Rams are 0-22 SU all-time versus ranked opponents.

    PLAY ON: vs. Wyoming (10/17)


    FRESNO STATE (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 7/0, 44 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: WHAT GOES UP...

    After falling from 11 wins to 11 losses in three years, Fresno State brought former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford in to receive the fallen program last season. What he accomplished was nothing short of astonishing when the Bulldogs won 10 games and captured MWC championship. Unfortunately, the bar now rises to a new level. And with it appears a bulls-eye on their back now bigger than Target. The good news is QB Marcus McMaryion, and most of his cast, are back on offense including WR KeeSean Johnson (the loop’s top wideout). Losses on the DL are devastating, though, with the top three linemen gone (accounted for 32 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks). Hopefully a stacked cast of LB’s and DB’s can fill the void. Still, a huge step backward appears inevitable.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Bulldogs suffered four losses last season by a TD or less.

    PLAY ON: vs. UNLV (11/3)


    HAWAII (Offense - 4/1 Defense - 5/1, 46 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE LUDICROUS

    After winning 7 games behind a ridiculous “around the world” schedule in 2016, it appeared the Warriors were ready for a breakthrough season last year behind an experienced team. Instead they were devastated by injuries. Only two linemen started all 12 games. Their best WR tore his ACL. A banged up secondary allowed 70% completions and 39 PPG the first half of the season. After a 2-0 start they went 1-9 out. Making matters worse, this season head coach Nick Rolovich must replace his starting QB, RB, three of his four top WRs, his top 3 DL, his top 3 safeties and both return men. Not to mention his DC. Talk about turnovers. This year’s practice facility has been renamed the Sara Lee Factory.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Hawaii is 2-7 SU in Eastern Time zones since 1959, with losses by a combined margin of 286-30.

    PLAY ON: vs. Wyoming (10/6)


    NEVADA (Offense - *7/3 Defense - 9/2, 45 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    TWO STEPPIN’

    At first glance it appears Jay Norvell’s first Wolf Pack team took two steps back last season. Upon closer examination those two steps were more little stutter steps given the fact they started 0-5 but finished 3-4. Three of the nine losses were by a field goal or less and they took solace in denying state rival UNLV a bowl bid the final game of the campaign. With OC Hal Mumme Jr. and QB coach Timmy Chang the offense figures to open up more in 2018. Returning QB Ty Gangi completed 64% of his PASSes with a 151.6 PASSer rating the last 7 games of the season. And he’s got five of his top 6 wide receivers back. Step two resumes this year.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Last season was the first time in the last 20 years that Nevada allowed 500 rushing yards in a game (Air Force).

    PLAY ON: vs. Air Force (9/29)


    NEW MEXICO (Offense - 7/2, Defense - 9/4, 47 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    A CHANGE IS ON THE WAY

    It’s a shame that sexual allegations are hovering over the New Mexico football program. Bob Davie has done a masterful job of putting this team back on the map. Nonetheless, he was suspended for 30 days this spring but managed to retain his job. It’s difficult letting someone go that has brought respectability back to a program. FYI: The Lobos have been outscored 2.7 PPG under Davie. They had been outscored 26.0 PPG the three seasons prior to his arrival. After falling to 3 wins in 2017, Davie hit the JUCO circuit hard to compliment a delicately young roster. He’ll need to replace his staring QB, three of his top four RBs, the top two DL and the top 2 safeties. Stay tuned.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Lobos are 1-12 SU and 3-10 ATS in Game Eleven of the season since 2005.

    PLAY ON: vs. Utah State (10/27)


    SAN DIEGO STATE (Offense - *7/5, Defense - 7/2, 36 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: DON’T KNOCK THE ROCK

    Rocky Long’s secret to success is no secret at all. He loves to pound the ball down your throat and backs it up with a tough as nails defense. It’s resulted in 7 bowl trips in seven seasons (after the Aztecs had been bowlers just three times in 23 previous years). And on the heels of three consecutive double-digit winning seasons, Long is set to reap the reward of a youth movement last year. Consider: Freshmen and sophomores combined to make 46 offensive line starts. Underclassmen also made 39% of the tackles from last year’s 11th overall ranked defense. Sure, they lose 2,000-yard rusher Rashad Penny, but next-man-up Juwan Washington will likely be the program’s 3rd consecutive 2K running back. Because that’s what Rocky does.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Under Long SDSU is 20-15 SU and 12-16 ATS in the season’s first 5 games, and 41-10 SU and 32-15-2 ATS from Game 6 out.

    PLAY ON: vs. Boise State (10/6)


    SAN JOSE STATE (Offense - *8/2, Defense - 6/3, 44 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    MORE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS

    First the good news: the Spartans have signed a Top-6 recruiting class each year since 2014. The bad news: they have gone 15-35 since, and a lot of those recruits have bailed. Fortunately a continued youth movement is ongoing and with it things can only get better for second-year head coach Brent Brennan. They can’t get much worse. Not when Brennan’s troops were ranked dead last in the nation in Fumbles Lost, Turnover Margin, and Time of Possession – as well as second-to-last in Red Zone Offense and Rush Defense. The starting QB, RBs and five WRs are all 3-star prospects, and last year’s freshmen found plenty of playing time last season. They figure to make strides this year. The question is will it be enough?

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The SU ‘In The Stats’ winner in Spartans games is 44-6 SU the last four seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Wyoming (11/3) - *KEY


    UNLV (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 7/2, 52 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    1-2-3

    Safe to say head coach Tony Sanchez has the Rebels on the right path. His recruiting skills are surfacing and as a result, UNLV has improved one game per season in each of Sanchez’s three years with the school. He is on course to take his troops bowling for only the fifth time in the last four decades – if the ‘one step at a time’ pattern holds true this should be the year. And for naysayers, remember, John Robinson was only 28-42 here. QB Armani Rogers and mighty mite RBs Charles Williams and Lexington Thomas will operate behind a huge offensive line all with starting experience. If the defense can chip in behind new DC Tom Skipper, the Rebels could be partying in 2018.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    The Rebels have enjoyed just one winning season the last 17 years.

    PASS


    UTAH STATE (Offense - *9/5, Defense - 9/3, 52 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME:
    BEHIND THE 8-BALL

    Since taking over the program in 2013, head coach David Wells has led the Aggies to four bowl games in his five year tenure. Two of those, however, were 6-win losing campaigns and with it the natives are growing restless. During that span, though, they have knocked off three Top 25 ranked opponents, one more than USU had overall prior to Wells’ arrival. In addition, the Aggies have rushed the ball for 2,000 yards nine straight seasons. (Prior to the streak they went 33 years without rushing for 2,000 yards.) And for what it’s worth, the 18 returning starters ties the 2007 squad for the most in school history. Rest assured, they will all be chomping at the bit in 2018.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aggies own a 25-15 SU record in conference games under Wells. They were 24-42 SU the previous nine seasons.

    PLAY ON: at Wyoming (10/20)


    WYOMING (Offense - 9/4, Defense - 8/4, 50 Lettermen)

    TEAM THEME: 52.6

    How ironic is this? In 2016 the Cowboys won 8 games behind a squad that started the most underclassmen in the nation: 56.2%. Looking to capitalize on that youthful experience last year, Wyoming won 8 games behind a celebrated QB (Josh Allen) who completed 56.3% of his PASSes in 2017, and finished with a 56.2% career PASS completion rate. Looks as if Allen was a 56.2% QB if ever there was one. Fortunately, a defense that was among the most improved in the FBS last season (17 PPG and 118 YPG), one that masked an offense which backslid 13 PPG and 148 YPG, returns practically intact led by the best defensive player in the loop in S Andrew Wingard. Craig Bohl’s force-feeding of youngsters three seasons ago should pay dividends this season, even without 52.6 behind center.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Wyoming led all FBS teams in Turnover Margin and Turnovers Gained last season.

    PASS
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    Handicapping Indiana (5.5)
    July 23, 2018


    The Indiana Hoosiers didn’t have many things go right a year ago in Tom Allen’s first season as head coach. They had a lot of injuries and they couldn’t find a way to win many close games, as they lost four games by eight points or less.

    The schedule is easier for the Hoosiers in 2018, but they still have to find a way to score more points, as they averaged just 23.2 points in Big Ten games last season.

    Let’s look at the win total for the Hoosiers and their schedule for this season to see if they will go over or under their number.

    2018 Indiana Hoosiers Season Win Total
    Over 5.5 (-105)
    Under 5.5 (-125)


    Sept. 1 at FIU

    The season opener is not a sure win for Indiana as the Golden Panthers went 8-5 last season under Butch Davis. FIU does have to replace a lot of starters and the Hoosiers are 2-0 all-time against FIU, so perhaps Indiana can win a close one on the road.

    Sept. 8 Virginia

    The Hoosiers beat the Cavaliers 34-17 last season, but this is still not an easy game, as the Cavaliers won six games last season and made a bowl game. The Hoosiers are 2-1 all-time against the Cavaliers.

    Sept. 15 Ball State

    This should be a good home win for the Hoosiers, as the Cardinals won just two games last season

    Sept. 22 Michigan State

    This is the battle for the Old Brass Spittoon and the games have been close of late, with the Hoosiers winning 24-21 in overtime two years ago, while the Spartans won 17-9 at home last season.

    Sept. 29 at Rutgers

    The Hoosiers have won the last two in this series including 41-0 last season at home. This is still a road game for the Hoosiers and Rutgers has made progress lately, so this is not a sure win for Indiana.

    Oct. 6 at Ohio State

    The Hoosiers have no real chance in this one. They have not won at the Shoe since 1987 and they are not likely to win this season.

    Oct. 13 Iowa

    This is a game that the Hoosiers will need to win if they are to have any chance to win six games and go to a bowl. The Hawkeyes are usually not a great road team, so this is a winnable game for Indiana.

    Oct. 20 Penn State

    The Hoosiers simply have almost no chance against Penn State. They are 1-20 all-time in games against the Nittany Lions. It is hard to see Indiana winning this one at home, as Penn State is a contender to win the Big Ten this season.

    Oct. 26 at Minnesota

    This will be Indiana’s first Friday night game and it is a game that the Hoosiers could be competitive in. The Gophers lead the all-time series 38-26-3. The Hoosiers have not beaten Minnesota since 2007.

    Nov. 10 Maryland

    The Hoosiers will get an extra week to prepare for this one. This is another must-win game for Indiana and last year they couldn’t win this one, as they lost by a score of 42-39.

    Nov. 17 at Michigan

    Forget about this one for Indiana, as they have not won at the Big House since 1967. They are 9-57 all-time against the Wolverines.

    Nov. 24 Purdue

    The Hoosiers are not a given to win this one, as Purdue is much improved with Jeff Brohm as head coach. The good news for Indiana is that Purdue has not won in Bloomington since 2011.

    2018 Indiana Hoosiers Regular Season Win Total Prediction

    When you look at the Indiana schedule the best case scenario is that the team goes 6-6. For the Hoosiers to win six games they would have to win their first three games and then win another three games that look like toss-up contests. It is more likely that Indiana goes 2-1 in their first three games and then drops at least half of their toss-up games. A record of 5-7 is the most probable outcome for the Hoosiers in 2018 and it easy to see this game going 4-8.

    Going under the win total of 5.5 for the Hoosiers in 2018 is the way to go.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Ohio State, Wisconsin lead Big 10 honors
    July 23, 2018


    CHICAGO (AP) Scott Frost talks to Tom Osborne almost every week. He welcomes his college coach into his office at Nebraska, or they go turkey hunting or fishing.

    Hard at work at rebuilding his storied alma mater, Frost is keeping his friends as close as possible.

    The 43-year-old Frost is home again after a successful run with Central Florida, returning to Lincoln in December after coaching the Knights to a 13-0 record last season. The long-term objective is moving Nebraska back into the upper echelon of college football, and the plan is a familiar one.

    ''Coach Osborne had the formula that Nebraska figured out,'' Frost said. ''Some of the things he did to make the program arguably the best in the country can still work today. Nebraska has just gone away from them. We're going to adopt a lot of things again and do it in a modern way and do it in a way that recruits and kids are going to want to be a part of.''

    Frost grew up about 90 minutes west of Nebraska's campus and led the 1997 Cornhuskers to a share of the national championship in Osborne's final year as coach. It was part of a wildly successful decade for the Cornhuskers, who went 108-16-1 in the 1990s.

    But the program hasn't enjoyed that level of success in quite some time. Mike Riley went 19-19 in three seasons before he was fired in November.

    Enter Frost, who once again was unable to resist the siren song of his home state. Frost began his playing career at Stanford before coming home.

    ''Being a football coach is rewarding because of the time you get to spend with young men and the things you get to try to pour into them,'' he said. ''It's even more special to do it around people you care about and the place you're from and at your alma mater.''

    It's a high-stakes move for Frost, Nebraska and the Big Ten, which could use a healthy Cornhuskers program to help balance the conference's West Division with its powerhouse schools in the East. So naturally Frost's arrival on the scene was a frequent topic of conversation at the Big Ten football media day on Monday.

    ''I think the fact that Scott played at Nebraska and has had an amazing series of successes as a young coach really breathes a lot of enthusiasm into the fan base,'' Commissioner Jim Delany said.

    It sounds as if his players feel the same way.

    ''He's a championship quarterback. You want to show him that you can play,'' star receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. said. ''You want to show him that I'm that guy, like I can compete with you. Actually sometimes I want to show him that I could have played with him, I could have been your receiver.''

    It's a familiar script for the Big Ten after Jim Harbaugh took over at Michigan in December 2014. Harbaugh also played quarterback in college and returned to his alma mater with much fanfare and excitement.

    He coached against Frost in 2016, directing the Wolverines to a 51-14 victory over UCF in Ann Arbor.

    ''He brought a really motivated, excellent football team up there,'' Harbaugh said. ''Expect that he'll do the same thing in his current position.''

    Harbaugh himself is beginning an intriguing year after Michigan went 8-5 last season, dropping its last three games.

    Asked about the Wolverines' six-game losing streak against rival Ohio State and the pressure on him to stop that slide, Harbaugh responded: ''We feel like just improvement. We need to improve. And that will lead to success. It will lead to championships. It's that simple.''

    Frost, who signed a $35 million, seven-year contract, has no such problems at the moment. The Cornhuskers went 4-8 in Riley's last season, and Frost definitely has some time before the honeymoon wears off at Nebraska.

    But he is planning for one quick turnaround.

    ''I know if we're getting better day by day we're going to be really dangerous and hard to beat in the very near future,'' he said. ''We'll see how this first year goes, but people better get us now because we're going to keep getting better.''
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    UW picked by media to win Pac-12
    July 25, 2018


    LOS ANGELES (AP) Washington is the overwhelming favorite to win the Pac-12 in the annual preseason poll of media members.

    The Huskies and Southern California were picked to win their respective league divisions in the poll released Wednesday before Pac-12 media day in Hollywood.

    Washington received 37 of 43 votes as the media's choice to win the Pac-12 for the second time in three years. Two seasons after their run to the College Football Playoff, the Huskies are led again by veteran quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin.

    Stanford was picked second behind Washington in the Pac-12 North, followed by Oregon.

    Defending league champion USC edged Utah as the Pac-12 South favorite. Arizona was picked third.
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    Wisconsin favored to win Big Ten West
    July 24, 2018


    CHICAGO (AP) Success for the Wisconsin Badgers is about as ho-hum as their leader's personality.


    All Wisconsin does is win under no-nonsense, coach-next-door Paul Chryst.


    The Badgers finished a school-best 13-1 last year, missing the playoffs following a loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game but beating Miami in the Orange Bowl.


    They're a top contender again to play well into January, let alone the favorites to win the Big Ten West division.


    No pressure for the Badgers. Really.


    ''But I think the part of being a good leader is not showing any weakness in times of pressure and things like that,'' linebacker T.J. Edwards said. ''He does such a good job with that, you look to him in times like that, you feel the same way.''


    There are few things Chryst likes less than sitting at a podium answering questions, but that's what he had to do Tuesday in Chicago at Big Ten media days. Chryst answers questions in a polite, often monotone voice. He doesn't command a room like Ohio State's Urban Meyer or Michigan's Jim Harbaugh.


    Away from the media lights, the down-to-earth personality resonates with players like senior safety D'Cota Dixon. He was asked at one point Tuesday about looking ahead at Wisconsin's schedule.


    ''I don't really look at it like that. Just line up, play football. Whoever is in front of me, beat them,'' Dixon said.


    A reporter told Dixon that was the kind of simple, one-week-at-a-time response Chryst would deliver.


    ''Does it? Then that's a good thing,'' Dixon said with a smile.


    Chryst characterized the pressure he feels as ''doing your job to the best of your ability. Are you doing all you can to help this team?''


    Focus on that, on things like making sure players stay in shape or prepare in the classroom, and that in turn gets the team prepared to go for big goals like conference championships.


    ''I think some of the perceived pressure, because you can't impact them, I can't worry about what is being said around the outside,'' Chryst said.


    Wisconsin is 34-7 since Chryst returned to Madison to coach his alma mater in 2015, the fifth-best mark in the country behind Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. The Badgers are 22-4 in conference play, having won back-to-back division titles.


    ''They play great defense consistently and they run the ball very well consistently,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ''Third thing I'd say is they don't beat themselves. ... That's a pretty good formula for success, you get those three down, it make it tough for people to catch you.''


    The Hawkeyes have a reputation of playing tough football, just like the Badgers. Iowa and Northwestern figure to be Wisconsin's stiffest competition in the West.


    ''They've always had good guys that come through that are big, physical guys and I think especially the line play has been very good,'' Iowa defensive lineman Matt Nelson said. ''That's what wins games in the Big Ten.''


    At the other end of the division is Illinois, which is 5-19 in two years under coach Lovie Smith. They Illini went winless in the Big Ten last season.


    Smith hopes the turnaround starts in Year 3, with a new training facility also scheduled to open in 2019.


    ''We realize we haven't won enough football games. But they come, if you continue to do the right things,'' Smith said. ''We've changed the culture of our program. We know the look that we would like to have on the football field.''
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    Handicapping Purdue (5)
    July 25, 2018


    The Purdue Boilermakers were a pleasant surprise last season in the first year under Jeff Brohm, as they won seven games including the Foster Farms Bowl.


    The Boilermakers could have similar success in 2018, but only if they can keep their quarterbacks healthy. Oddsmakers believe that Purdue is going to slip back this season, as they set the win total for the Boilermakers at five.


    Let’s look at Purdue’s schedule to see if they will go over or under that number.


    2018 Purdue Boilermakers Season Win Total
    Over 5 (-120)
    Under 5 (-11)


    2018 Purdue Boilermakers Schedule Analysis


    Aug. 30 Northwestern


    It is not often that a team starts off with conference play, but that is the case for Purdue and Northwestern this season. This is not a great spot for Purdue considering they lost a lot of players in the off-season. Oddsmakers still give Purdue a decent chance to win this one though, as the Boilermakers are listed as 3.5-point favorites.


    Sept. 8 Eastern Michigan


    The Boilermakers should not have any problem winning this one against a weak Eastern Michigan squad.


    Sept. 15 Missouri


    If the Boilermakers are going to get to six wins, this game and the following one against Boston College are huge. The Boilermakers will need to score a lot of points to win this one, as the Tigers are very potent on offense.


    Sept. 22 Boston College


    This will be a much different game for the Boilermakers than the one against Missouri, as Boston College is a tough defensive squad. This is a very winnable game and one that Purdue needs before heading out on the road.

    Sept. 29 at Nebraska


    The Cornhuskers are going to be much better this season under Scott Frost and this has the looks of the first road loss for Purdue.


    Oct. 13 at Illinois


    This could be the most important game of the season for Purdue simply because they probably have to win it to get to six wins. It comes after a bye week, so there are no excuses for Purdue not to win this game.


    Oct. 20 Ohio State


    The Boilermakers are going to struggle in the second half of the season against a tough schedule. They don’t figure to win this one against the Buckeyes, even though it is at home.

    Oct. 27 at Michigan State


    It is hard to see Purdue going on the road and winning against a quality Michigan State team. Now you can see why the Illinois game is so huge.


    Nov. 3 Iowa


    The Hawkeyes are a quality team that could contend for the Big Ten title this season, so this is yet another tough home game and a probable loss.


    Nov. 10 at Minnesota


    This is yet another huge game for the Boilermakers because many games on the schedule this season don’t look winnable. This game at Minnesota is winnable and the Boilermakers need it.

    Nov. 17 Wisconsin


    The Badgers are considered one of the top teams in the Big Ten, but this game is at home and the Boilermakers might make this game closer than expected.


    Nov. 24 at Indiana


    The Boilermakers have to hope this game means something. If Purdue is in contention for a bowl game this is probably a must-win.

    2018 Purdue Boilermakers Regular Season Total Prediction


    The Boilermakers schedule does help them out, as they play their first four games at home. The problem for Purdue is that only one of those games looks like a sure win. Purdue was good last season under Brohm, but there is a real chance they will take a step back this season because of all of their off-season losses.


    Oddsmakers put the win total for Purdue at just five games and that number could be too low. The Boilermakers don’t have to do that much to get to six wins and go over the total. They could definitely go 3-1 in their first four games and then they have winnable games at Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana, plus they are not without a chance to win a few other games.


    Purdue should definitely have a chance to win six games and go over their win total this season.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Big 12 Season Outlook
    July 25, 2018


    As we get closer and closer to August and the start of the college football season, my conference previews continue with a look at the Big 12.

    Readers looking for my past thoughts can dissect them on the ACC and Big 10 conferences, but it's all about the Big 12 today and whether or not anyone can dethrone Oklahoma now that QB Baker Mayfield has left for the NFL.

    Big 12 Outlook

    With the Big 12 always in the unenviable position come playoff selection time of being the conference without a title game for years, the Big 12 re-introduced a Conference Championship game last year and found their best program earning a #2 selection in the playoff format. That team was the Mayfield-led Oklahoma Sooners who enter 2018 as the favorites to repeat atop this conference. The Sooners are hoping it will be a seamless transition to Kyler Murray as the starter under center, but Murray has plenty of help around him as well with some of the best playmakers (Rodney Anderson, Marquise Brown) in the conference wearing the same colors.

    It's not like this conference won't be without it's contenders though as the Big 12 tends to be a rather deep conference every year where any one of them could get knocked off on any given Saturday. Oklahoma (+140) may be the favorites to remain as conference champions, but Texas (+300), Oklahoma State (+600), West Virginia (+600), and TCU (+700), are all listed not too far behind at +700 or better. But picking a conference champion isn't the only available action for this conference, so let's get right to it.

    Most Intriguing Big 12 Future Bet

    West Virginia Over 7.5 wins (-105)

    The Mountaineers are probably the most intriguing team overall to me in the Big 12 as they are just so loaded on offense, it becomes a matter of how many 59-52 games they can win. QB Qill Grier has an opportunity to be the best player in the conference (and possibly all of CFB) like Baker Mayfield was a year ago, and with an experienced O-line (four of five starters are Juniors or Seniors), this West Virginia team should be able to hang points up on opponents in a hurry. But it's always a question of defense with this team, and this year there is one more minor variable that makes this 'over' win total that much more intriguing: West Virginia's schedule is backloaded.

    Based on those conference winning odds I outlined earlier, the top five teams in the Big 12 this year should be Oklahoma, Texas, OK State, West Virginia, and TCU. Well, West Virginia's final four games of the year – with no bye weeks in the middle – are @ Texas, vs TCU, at OK State, and vs Oklahoma. That's a November from hell for this Mountaineers squad and it will be very interesting to see what kind of record they come out of that stretch with.

    Yet, for this 7.5 win total to be surpassed, West Virginia might not even need a win in any one of those final four games. West Virginia could easily begin the year 8-0 SU with no real tests outside of potentially Tennessee (Week 1) and possibly their trip to Texas Tech (Week 5). With how many points West Virginia should be able to score on their first eight foes, even average defense games by this team will be enough to come away with victories. And should they slip up once, well two of those final four games are at home for the Mountaineers, and shootouts with them on the road – especially in the OK State game – could ultimately go either way.

    Then of course, there is the flip side of things, where let's suppose Grier and this offense take weeks to get off the ground, they slip up a few times early on and then are just simply too banged up and out of gas to take on that final month of games with any sort of energy or motivation. Again, it's what will make the Mountaineers a highly watchable team this entire year, no matter what side of the action you're on.

    Best Future Bet

    Oklahoma Under 10.5 wins (-155)


    As good as Oklahoma should and will be this year, moving on to a new QB always has some level of growing pains, even if it is just for a half, or a game, early on. And simply put, with that being the case for Oklahoma, this number is just flat out too high not to take the low side, especially when you add in the depth of this conference overall and everyone gunning for the Sooners when they get their chance. To not slip up three times (including Conference Championship if they get there) is going to be extremely tough for this team, with the Red River Rivalry game always lurking, a trip to West Virginia in the season finale looming, and everything else they've got to deal with in-between.

    It is a lot of juice to lay, but considering just how bunched up it could end up getting at the top of this conference by the end of it all with everyone else beating each other, if Oklahoma ends up on the wrong end of one or two of those games, this bet could end up cashing rather easily.

    Best Season Win Total Over Bet

    Baylor Over 5.5 Wins (-150)


    Another “chalky” wager to say the least, but after a 1-11 SU campaign in 2017 that was a disaster from start to finish for the Baylor Bears, 2018 signifies plenty of hope for this program and more positive results should follow.

    Now, don't get me wrong, Baylor likely isn't going to be competing for a conference crown when all is said and done, but a 6-6 SU season is well within reason for this team this year that returns a lot of experience on the O-line and playmaking positions, as well as a defense that's now in Year 2 of the Matt Rhule era and should be much improved.

    Baylor's schedule also helps them out a bit as they (should) get a win over FCS Abilene Christian in Week 1 to get off on the right foot (Baylor did lose to FCS Liberty in Week 1 in 2017 though), and from there it's winnable games against UTSA, Duke, and Kansas to close out the first four weeks. Asking for, and getting three wins in that four-game stretch is quite possible and from there it's hopefully just watching Baylor hold their own on the weeks when they are on and perhaps getting by one of the “big boys” down the line. They do end the year with games against Iowa State, TCU, and Texas Tech, which outside of the TCU game could be very winnable as well.

    I look for this Baylor team to be back in a Bowl game this year and they'll need at least six wins to get there. Lay the chalk and look for them to close out the regular season strong to achieve that goal.

    Best Season Win Total Under Bet

    Kansas State Under 6.5 wins (+100)


    Obviously I could have put Oklahoma here as well, but for the sake of variety I thought it best to share some of my thoughts on Kansas State this year as well.

    K-State has always been that program that perennially causes some sort of chaos within the Big 12 as if they were an individual player, they'd be that guy you'd always want to have on your team but hate to play against. However, I'm not so sure most Big 12 teams are going to actually “hate” facing the Wildcats this year as it really looks as though it's somewhat of a transition year for them. They've got new co-ordinators on both sides of the ball, but both guys will still have to work within the confines of HC Bill Synder's seemingly archaic systems.

    Considering K-State has to run through the best of the best in the conference and has to play road games against West Virginia, Oklahoma, and TCU, added Mississippi State as a non-conference foe, and get West Virginia and Texas back-to-back, as well as Oklahoma and TCU back-to-back, it's not looking like it will be more than six wins for this team in 2018.

    Who plays in the Big 12 Championship Game?

    Oklahoma vs West Virginia


    With no division breakdowns in the Big 12, there aren't any restrictions when picking a play like this. It will just be the two teams with the best record and that's always nice. It does also ensure that we will get a rematch in the title game as well and that's always a nice little dynamic to add into handicapping that game when it arrives. But to survive in the Big 12 you've got to have an elite offense and a defense that can step up and get stops when needed, and we saw Oklahoma be able to do that a year ago, and I believe West Virginia follows suit this year.

    Both of these programs should finish with the top two offenses in the Big 12 this year and that's always going to give them a chance to get to this game. But it will be the defenses on both sides that will step up in big games against the likes of Texas, TCU and/or Oklahoma State that will seal the deal for these two schools to square off for all the marbles in early December. I've got faith that West Virginia will start hot and remain hot during that brutal November schedule they've got, and once they get through that, the amount of confidence they'll have heading into December will be through the roof. It might not be enough to get past the Sooners in the title game, but expect the Mountaineers to at least be on that field with Oklahoma.
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    5 new head coaches giving fresh energy to weary Pac-12
    July 25, 2018


    LOS ANGELES (AP) The Pac-12 went 1-8 in its bowl games last season, leading to a winter of external criticism and internal soul-searching for most of its programs.

    The league also extended its national title drought to 14 years, the longest in the Power Five. Athletic directors openly worried about the Pac-12 falling farther behind the other big conferences in revenue and in exposure from its television network.

    After all the disappointment for its football programs late last year, this is a league that probably could benefit from a fresh start. Nearly half of its member schools are getting one with the arrival of new coaching staffs to shake up the West Coast football scene.

    The Pac-12's five new coaches range from the heralded Chip Kelly at UCLA, to the surprising choice of Herm Edwards at Arizona State, to the homecoming of Jonathan Smith at Oregon State. Two of the five are first-time collegiate head coaches, while the other three - including Arizona's Kevin Sumlin - have ample experience.

    ''It's super competitive,'' new Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said Wednesday at Pac-12 media day in Hollywood.

    ''Football is cyclical,'' Cristobal added. ''Sometimes conferences run into that when you have a good number of coaches that are new in the conference. I look at the level and their pedigree and where they've been and what they've done, and you're looking at competitive guys that know how to bring it and want to establish championship programs.''

    The new blood could energize struggling programs and alter the league hierarchy - or it could clear the way for Washington, Southern California and Stanford to continue to dominate their less-experienced foes.

    While Kelly got the most attention Wednesday in his return to the Pac-12 after a remarkable tenure at Oregon, many coaches and players speculated that Sumlin's Wildcats could have the quickest opportunity for success among the newcomers.

    But most coaches are hoping the moves will raise the overall level of play in the Pac-12, creating a higher standard that could translate into the postseason and the national title race after the league's disappointing performance last winter.

    ''I think it's an impressive group of coaches in their records and track records of winning games, championships (and) developing players,'' said Smith, who left Chris Petersen's staff at Washington to take over his alma mater. ''I think we've got some great personalities that can sell this conference, because there is a bunch of good coaches right now in this league to make it competitive. I'm just excited to be a part of it.''

    Kelly, Sumlin and Edwards are all taking over programs with measures of stability in recent seasons, even if the three schools didn't pile up enough wins to satisfy boosters.

    Smith has a tougher task in restarting the Beavers after the abrupt exit of Gary Andersen last season - and Cristobal is Oregon's third head coach in three seasons, following the firing of Mark Helfrich and the one-season tenure of Willie Taggart.

    ''I think all five guys new to the conference are tremendous football coaches,'' said Kyle Whittingham, who's heading into his 14th season at Utah. ''I think there are just a bunch of great coaches in this league, and that's something that will enhance the league. But it still boils down to players. Players are what it's all about. I'm more interested in what players are on which teams rather than who is coaching them.''

    Some of the new coaches are more fortunate than others in those inherited rosters. For instance, Kelly has only eight seniors at UCLA, and he lost star quarterback Josh Rosen to the Arizona Cardinals.

    ''We didn't have a lot of guys in spring ball,'' Kelly said. ''There's going to be some guys playing for us who just showed up.''

    Cristobal and Sumlin are grateful to inherit two of the Pac-12's eight returning starting quarterbacks. Oregon's Justin Herbert and Arizona's Khalil Tate provide a measure of security for their new bosses.

    ''It didn't hurt, let's put it that way,'' Sumlin said with a grin when asked how Tate's presence affected his decision to move to Tucson.

    While Kelly's progress will be fascinating, the league also will be glued to the performance of the 64-year-old Edwards, who ended a nine-year hiatus from coaching to take over for Todd Graham in Tempe.

    Edwards already has made plenty of headlines for his headfirst dive into the college game, which has included threats to ''cut'' players who aren't meeting his standards of commitment. When the former Chiefs and Jets coach was asked what he thought about how his style has been received, Edwards drew a blank.

    ''To be quite honest, you'll figure this out about me - I don't know what happens in the outside world,'' Edwards said. ''I don't read it. I don't watch it. I am a football coach. When I'm not a football coach, I'm trying to be the best father I can be. That's what I concern myself with. I don't concern myself with the outside elements because the outside elements don't coach the team.''
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    AAC Outlook
    July 27, 2018


    East Outlook

    The American claimed a national title according to some last season as Central Florida completed a perfect 13-0 campaign, the only program in the nation to do so completing the run with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. The AAC has produced the top Group of Five squad twice in the last three years and should remain the top threat outside the power five again in 2018.

    The East will again start with UCF but Temple and South Florida are viable threats that will challenge in the East race. An undefeated team in the division is again a possibility and there appears to be a massive chasm between the top three and the bottom three in this division. Here is an early look at the six AAC East squads.

    Central Florida: Scott Frost delivered an incredible season for the Knights but he will be on the sidelines in Lincoln this season with another former Big XII quarterback taking over in Orlando this season. Josh Heupel led Oklahoma to a national title on the field and he has honed his coaching skills at his alma mater and more recently at Missouri to make the leap to his first head coaching job. He inherits the top quarterback in the conference to ease the transition with McKenzie Milton posting huge numbers last season but there were significant personnel losses on both sides of the ball for the Knights in the offseason. The schedule has a few challenging spots as a repeat perfect season is unlikely but this will still be a team that can post a double-digit win count and shouldn’t be ruled out as a top Group of Five threat. The West draw adds two formidable AAC games to the schedule and two of the toughest tests of the conference season will be on the road. Non-conference tests vs. North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Florida Atlantic will determine whether or not UCF can stay in the national spotlight.

    Temple: Temple has a team capable of knocking off anyone in the AAC as one of the better defenses in the conference should be even better in the second season behind Geoff Collins. The Owls rallied to win seven games last season including a bowl game but five of six road games in 2018 will be challenging tests. Frank Nutile was a productive quarterback that sparked the offense taking over midseason last year and another solid bowl season should be ahead in Philadelphia. Temple has a good chance to make a bit of noise with a pair of manageable power five non-conference games and they will have a bye week ahead of a huge run of games in November that will decide the fate of the division, with the Owls playing UCF, Houston, and USF in succession.

    South Florida: Getting 10 wins in a first season at a new program is a great accomplishment but South Florida was favored in 11 of 12 games last season and expectations of a perfect season were there, ultimately outshined by the in-state neighbors to the northeast. Charlie Strong had a lot to work with last season and his job will be more challenging this season with the loss of top rusher and passer Quinton Flowers. Add several major departures on defense and other big contributors graduating from the offense and the Bulls aren’t likely to match the production of the past two seasons. The schedule is reasonable however and another 10-win season is very possible. The draw from the West is relatively favorable and the Bulls get to host UCF in the season finale after a wildly entertaining contest between those teams for the division title last season. South Florida might not be as good as last season but that doesn’t mean a decline in record is likely.

    Cincinnati: It was expected that Cincinnati would perennially be in the conversation as one of the top Group of Five threats after four straight seasons of at least nine wins earlier this decade. The Bearcats are coming off back-to-back 4-8 seasons however as Luke Fickell was unable to deliver positive returns in first season with the program. Cincinnati should have the pieces in place to improve defensively this season and the schedule overall is easier than last season’s slate pulling a pair of MAC teams while also getting two of the lesser teams from the West division. The offensive line looks like an area of weakness for this group which could trickle down to the rest of the offense even with veteran playmakers returning in key positions. Returning to the glory days of a decade ago isn’t likely for the Bearcats this season but this should be a borderline bowl team that can show slight improvement.

    Connecticut: Randy Edsall went 3-9 in his return to Connecticut after coaching five mediocre seasons at Maryland. The Huskies did upset two AAC foes last season but closed the season with five straight defeats. Another poor finish in the AAC East looks likely with a daunting set of home games in conference play but Connecticut will get to play two of the lesser West teams to help the cause. Add a pair of winnable non-conference games and Connecticut has a chance to show mild improvement this season. The defense was gutted however with very little experience back in action but the offense did make a big leap from the 2016 numbers last season. This will be a team that will welcome shootouts unlike during the Bob Diaco years as the Huskies will at least be a more interesting team to watch even if a bowl bid is not realistic this season.

    East Carolina: The decision to fire Ruffin McNeill after the 2015 season was mostly panned and it looks even worse at this point after a pair of 3-9 seasons for East Carolina. Scottie Montgomery will face some heat this season with improvement expected but the schedule is quite challenging with two ACC squads on the schedule in September and the first five AAC games on the schedule coming against arguably the best five teams in the conference. Drawing Memphis and Houston from the West is less than ideal and the division road games are all very difficult. Realistically another 3-9 season looks likely considering this was a defense that allowed 45 points per game and 542 yards per game last season and will now need to break in a new quarterback.

    West Outlook

    The American was led by East champion Central Florida last season with a historic season but the West had quality performers as well. The AAC has produced the top Group of Five squad twice in the last three years and should remain the top threat outside the power five again in 2018.

    The West division offers a deeper group of six teams than the East with five of six teams winning at least five games last season and all six teams with realistic bowl hopes this season. This could be a tight multi-team race with the division again capable of producing four bowl teams as it did in 2017. Here is an early look at the AAC West ahead of the 2018 season.

    Memphis: Memphis went 7-1 to win the West last season before giving UCF a great test in the title game but the Tigers lost its offensive stars from last season with Riley Ferguson and Anthony Miller now in the NFL. Memphis won 10 games last season despite awful defensive numbers but Mike Norvell is back for his third season after getting some attention from major programs. Perhaps the biggest game of the AAC West season will be a second week game at Navy for Memphis as a win there will put the Tigers in the driver’s seat for the division title. Memphis should be favored to win three of four non-conference games and another 10-win campaign is very possible with a run at a perfect season not out of the question with both UCF and Houston visiting the Liberty Bowl and the biggest non-conference hurdle being against a beatable Missouri team in October. Replacing a prolific quarterback means things could go the other direction as well but 15 starters are back as this should remain a quality team.

    Navy:
    The Midshipmen were in the AAC title game two years ago and Navy has a chance to get back in the picture after the program’s worst season since 2011. Ken Niumatalolo is 84-48 in 10 seasons at Navy and while a 6-6 regular season that featured a second straight loss to rival Army was a disappointment, a 49-7 bowl blowout over an ACC team was a great way to finish the season. Navy plays 13 regular season game with an opener at Hawai’i as it will be a grueling slate that features eight games away from home. Zack Abey is back in action after rushing for over 1,400 yards last season and Navy was a solid defensive team last year that soundly out-gained its competition despite the even record. Navy has most of the toughest conference games at home other than a trip to UCF but ultimately the travel will wear on this team as a few upset defeats could occur along the way. Navy won’t run the table but if Memphis comes back to the pack the Midshipmen will be right there in the West mix.

    Houston: Houston has fallen in win count in back-to-back seasons and while there were mixed results in Major Applewhite’s first season with the Cougars the potential was there with several strong performances and mostly close losses other than an upset loss at Tulsa. A pair of tough non-conference games will give Houston a chance to get back on the national map in September and D’Eriq King led the Cougars to productive results after taking over at quarterback. Houston lost five times as a favorite last season as the Cougars proved to be overvalued based on the success of the previous two seasons and this year more grounded expectations could make Houston a threat to surprise. There is top end talent on the defense and a bit more consistency can be expected in a year two of a major coaching change. Houston has to play on the road vs. the top two division threats and draws two of the top three teams from the East as the schedule hardly will be ideal for a rise to the division title.

    Tulsa: After Tulsa won 10 games with some good fortune in 2016 the results reversed course last year with a 2-10 mark for the Golden Hurricane despite statistics more indicative of a close to .500 club. Tulsa lost six games by 10 or fewer points and really struggled to stop the run allowing 5.9 yards per rush and 265 rushing yards per game. This year’s team is a great bounce-back candidate as one of the AAC’s most experienced teams with proven performers on both sides of the ball. The schedule is difficult with Tulsa likely to be a hefty underdog in all six road games but there are winnable home games ahead and one upset could swing the Hurricane into being a bowl candidate. The passing game had a huge drop off last season but Philip Montgomery should be able to get his offense back closer to the strong scoring numbers of 2015 and 2016.

    SMU: Chad Morris showed improvement in all three seasons at SMU and it was enough to get him hired at Arkansas, leaving the program in shambles ahead of an embarrassing Frisco Bowl performance. Sonny Dykes led the team in that bowl game and while it was a scramble for the coaching staff the extra time with the players can’t hurt heading into the 2018 transition. Last year’s team caught some breaks with three very narrow conference wins to only finish 4-4 in league play and the non-conference schedule brings two impossible tests in September. Four of six home games in Dallas will be difficult as the best opportunities for wins could come on the road. Ultimately a decline in win count looks nearly certain in year one for Dykes at SMU even with one of the better returning quarterbacks and good experience back on defense.

    Tulane: Willie Fritz has a Tulane team that will be capable of a few upsets this season. The Wave shocked Houston last season and came close in a few other AAC games with narrow losses vs. bowl teams South Florida and SMU. The option attack has required a transition but having a returning quarterback helps even if Dontrell Hillard now needs to be replaced in the backfield. Tulane has just three road wins in two years under Fritz and they will need to find a way to win on the road to have a chance at improving on last season’s 5-7 record. Drawing only one of the East powers helps the cause but the top two West threats take up two of the home dates in American play as the Wave look likely to fall just short of a bowl bid yet again.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  14. #74
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    Big 12 Outlook
    July 27, 2018


    Many felt like adding a Big XII title game would cost the conference a possible playoff bid but last season Oklahoma managed to survive a rematch with TCU and was selected into the national field. In four seasons Oklahoma has represented the conference twice in the College Football Playoffs but no other team has been selected and the conference is still searching for its first victory on that stage.

    This season the conference lacks a clear frontrunner as getting a team to go 10-0 in the always deep league looks unlikely. Last season the Sooners were able to shake off the home upset loss to Iowa State on the strength of their victory over Ohio State in non-conference play but they won’t have that margin of error this season. Ultimately a competitive race looks likely on top of the conference this season and getting a one-loss team in the tournament might be a challenge.

    Here is an early look at the 10 Big XII teams ahead of the 2018-19 season.

    Texas: Tom Herman led Texas to its best win count since 2013 last season even if the expectations were much higher as a high profile hire that led dramatic success at Houston in just two seasons. Texas lost exclusively close games last season and had erratic defensive performances despite being one of the nation’s top run defenses. The offensive production also dropped by nearly 100 yards per game compared with Charlie Strong’s 2016 squad in Austin. This year’s team will be one of the more experienced Big XII groupings. The schedule is similar to last season facing both Maryland and USC again for a tough non-conference schedule but the Trojans will visit Austin as will TCU and West Virginia. Ultimately the Red River Rivalry game will determine whether or not Texas takes a big leap or has another decent season that isn’t up to the expectations of the Longhorns brass.

    Oklahoma: Oklahoma was stunned at home against Iowa State last October but the Sooners rallied to return to the College Football Playoffs for the second time in three years. Oklahoma wound up on the wrong side of an epic battle with Georgia but it was an impressive first season for Lincoln Riley who took over suddenly for Bob Stoops last summer. Replacing the #1 pick in the NFL draft plus several other top contributors will be a challenge but this should remain a top offense team with Kyler Murray likely to quarterback the team for one season before pursuing a baseball career. Oklahoma was not an elite defensive team last season and it will be difficult to match the amazing production the Sooners had under Baker Mayfield. The schedule offers Oklahoma a realistic opportunity to run the table but they won’t have a marquee non-conference win like they did last season after beating Ohio State. That could mean little margin for error for a program that always seems to have at least one stumble in the regular season.

    TCU: Gary Patterson has led TCU to 11 or more wins in three of the last four seasons as it would be foolish to count out the Frogs as a serious Big XII threat. TCU loses a lot of key players from a very good defense from last season and they also need to break in a new quarterback. TCU faces Ohio State, Texas, and Oklahoma in the first seven games of the season as there will be opportunities to move up in the national and conference race with notable wins but it also means the Frogs could reach last season’s loss count rather early. TCU has gone undefeated at home three of the past four seasons and if they accomplish that again in 2018 a top three finish in the Big XII looks assured with five of nine games in Fort Worth, although a road heavy September could take a toll on the season goals.

    West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen should finally feel some security in Morgantown with winning results in six of seven seasons. Will Grier returns for the Mountaineers after posting some of the nation’s best numbers last season prior to an injury that changed the trajectory of the season. TCU and Oklahoma will visit Morgantown this season as the Mountaineers will have opportunities for big wins with an offense that should be among the most productive in the conference if not the nation. The defense struggled at times last season however and has minimal depth back in action as shootouts should be the norm with Grier capable of being the top quarterback in the conference and a Heisman sleeper.

    Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State has won 10 or more games in six of the last eight seasons but they have been stopped at 10 the past three seasons with expectations of a possible breakthrough to a Big XII title or a playoff bid. Highly productive quarterback Mason Rudolph departs but most of the backfield is intact as this can still be an above average offensive team. The defense should remain a stable though not dominant group but the schedule ahead in 2018 looks like a challenge. Five Big XII road games are ahead including several difficult tests and a non-conference game with Boise State lurks as a dangerous September matchup. Matching the 10-win level of recent years looks like a reach for the Cowboys this season.

    Kansas State: Kansas State lost five times last season but four of those misses were by seven or fewer points as the Wildcats found a way to compete even with one of the lesser offenses in the Big XII and a revolving quarterback situation. The offense could be better this season with much more experience but the defense could regress for a second straight season. While Kansas State had mostly close losses last season they also had several narrow fortunate wins as this team was soundly out-gained on the season despite a solid scoring differential. Coach Snyder always finds a way to keep this team in the mix as another winning season shouldn’t be ruled out.

    Iowa State: Matt Campbell eschewed opportunities elsewhere to stay in Ames where last season’s 8-5 campaign was a historic rise for the Cyclones. Wins over Oklahoma and TCU were incredibly impressive and the Cyclones also stopped a great Memphis offense for a bowl win. Matching that success will be a challenge and Iowa State plays the heavyweights early in the Big XII campaign this season. Several key players are back as this is a program with average experience and while there were narrow wins last season all five losses came by 10 or fewer points as well as a more dramatic breakthrough had been possible. Iowa State is no longer the conference doormat and will be a competitive team likely on the bowl border.

    Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury has done enough to stay on in Lubbock with five underwhelming seasons and a 30-33 record. There have been some close calls but still a few blowout losses every year to paint the gap between the Red Raiders and the elite teams in the conference. Texas Tech showed a dramatic improvement on defense last season and with 10 starters back the Red Raiders can take another stride to shake off their former reputation as perennially one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. The offense has some question marks however needing a third new starting quarterback in three seasons and losing most of the top receivers from last season. Oklahoma and Texas both play in Lubbock but that might mean fewer realistic opportunities for wins with a pair of challenging non-conference games in September as well.

    Baylor: Matt Rhule stepped into a very tough situation at Baylor and a 1-11 season was the result. Baylor did show signs of progress late in the season and should show improvement but getting back to being a Big XII force looks like it will take a long rebuilding process. This will be one of the most experienced teams in the nation thanks to a lot of young players getting time last season and Charlie Brewer gave the offense life after taking over at quarterback. Statistically this didn’t look like a 1-11 squad that lost to a FCS school in September and if the Bears play all season like they did last November a handful of wins will follow.

    Kansas:
    Kansas has been patient with a major transition hitting year four for David Beaty and a combined three wins in three seasons. The non-conference schedule offers three viable opportunities for Kansas but the gap with the rest of the Big XII remains severe with only one Big XII loss even within 15 points last season. 19 starters return for Kansas as the pieces are there to take a step forward but it remains a steep uphill climb in Lawrence and the best opportunities for conference wins this season will unfortunately all be road games.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Pac-12 Outlook
    July 27, 2018

    This is a big season for the Pac-12 coming off a disastrous bowl campaign with only one win from nine postseason squads. That win came from Utah in a minor game as marquee game defeats from Stanford, Washington, USC, Washington State, and UCLA led to an ugly national storyline out West. The poor results led to a number of coaching changes with five of 12 programs making moves in the off-season.

    Despite a few transition seasons underway the Pac-12 has a few teams that could make a run in the national picture. The balance of power is tilted north with Oregon, Washington, and Stanford considered threats for a championship but the depth in that division might make it difficult for a clear cut national playoff contender to emerge.

    The conference has just one touchdown over the past three College Football Playoffs but getting a team through this conference 10-0 might prove to be a challenge.

    North Outlook

    Washington:
    Following an appearance in the College Football Playoffs expectations remained sky high last season as Washington went through a mildly disappointing 10-3 season, falling short of the North division title and ending the season with a Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State. For a program that went winless a decade ago a third straight double-digit win season looks possible in 2018. Washington returns Jake Browning at quarterback and Myles Gaskin at running back while a defense that allowed just 16.1 points per game last season returns nine starters. The schedule gets a major upgrade this season with an opener in Atlanta against Auburn that will determine whether or not the Huskies are a national threat. USC and Arizona are absent from the South draw and Stanford visits Seattle as the Pac-12 slate lines up favorably for the Huskies to finish on top.

    Stanford: Stanford lost five times last season but David Shaw is now 73-22 in seven seasons with last season’s 9-5 mark the second worst record for the Cardinal in that span. The Cardinal has not cracked the College Football Playoff yet but this year’s team has that potential. K.J. Costello and an elite receiving corps will surround Heisman candidate Bryce Love as this should be a very effective offense even if not among the nation’s most prolific offensive teams. Stanford actually had its worst defensive numbers under Shaw last season and that unit has question marks for 2018 as well. The biggest hurdle for Stanford is the schedule however with two very tough non-conference games plus road games vs. the two chief division threats while drawing South division favorite USC. Stanford has a team capable of beating anyone but running the table looks unlikely with the path ahead.

    Oregon: Oregon rebounded to win seven games last season after the stunning 4-8 2016 season but after just one season Willie Taggert left the program for Florida State. Offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal steps in as it won’t be a complete transition and Cristobal has head coaching experience. The Ducks have decent returning experience and if Justin Herbert can stay healthy they have the makings of a high quality offensive team. Oregon actually had its best defensive numbers in several years last season but a down Pac-12 was a factor. Oregon will play an extremely light non-conference schedule as a strong start should be expected and this is a sleeper in the North as both Stanford and Washington visit Eugene while Oregon avoids USC from the South. If things break right Oregon could be back in the national spotlight again.

    California:
    A 5-7 season doesn’t generally earn a lot of praise but first year head coach Justin Wilcox inherited an inexperienced team and turned in a pair of prominent non-conference wins last September. A 3-0 start fizzled with a 2-7 Pac-12 mark but the Bears were very competitive in most games and this team could take a big stride forward in 2018. 18 starters are back to top the conference in experience but the statistics from last season offer some concern as the Bears were ultimately out-gained by 45 yards per game on average. The challenge for Cal will be that the three North powers all visit Berkeley as a tough home slate is waiting and this team won just once on the road last season.

    Washington State: Mike Leach has revitalized his career at Washington State with the Cougars going from being one of the nation’s worst power conference teams to three straight bowl bids while Washington State has often been in the Pac-12 North race into November. The 2018 season presents an impossible challenge however with Luke Falk graduating and the sad death of Tyler Hilinski leaving the team with inexperience at quarterback and only 10 returning starters. Washington State has one of the most difficult South draws and while they nab five home games in Pac-12 play it is a difficult set of games. Making a fourth straight bowl game would be a great accomplishment for Leach and the Cougars given the circumstances.

    Oregon State: There is nowhere to go but up for Oregon State with Jonathan Smith taking over a Beavers team that didn’t win a FBS game last season. After an awkward coaching departure the Beavers did produce a few competitive games down the stretch and improving on awful turnover luck from last season could lead to improvement. The Beavers are likely still the clear bottom team in the conference and they have to open the season at Ohio State but there are a few decent opportunities ahead in Corvallis as signs of progress look possible. With a couple of legacy pieces back on the staff there should be renewed enthusiasm for the program and in a Pac-12 that wasn’t very good last season and has several programs in transition, the opportunity to close the gap may be there.

    South Outlook

    USC:
    USC has 21 wins the past two seasons under Clay Helton but a playoff invitation was expected of this powerhouse program that featured one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Sam Darnold is off to the NFL and while a few other key players also depart from last season’s 11-win squad, there is solid returning experience to make the Trojans the clear favorite in the Pac-12 South. USC has taken on a daunting schedule in recent years and two heavyweight non-conference games are again ahead while the conference slate features five road games including playing at Stanford. Avoiding Washington is a plus however and the Trojans won’t likely need to be perfect to win this division.

    Arizona: Off the field allegations opened the door for Arizona to make a coaching change after last season even with a comeback bowl season for Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats nabbed Kevin Sumlin to provide credibility in the transition and this is a team that can compete immediately. Khalil Tate was one of the most exciting players in the conference last season and Arizona draws an ideal conference schedule with five home dates while avoiding both Washington and Stanford. The defense has nine returning starters even if it was a unit that allowed 471 yards per game last season as Arizona is likely to be back in the postseason and lurks as a serious threat in this division should USC falter.

    Colorado:
    After the 10-win breakthrough in 2016 Colorado fell to just 5-7 last season needing to replace most of the key players from the South division championship team. This year’s team again is light on experience but the Buffaloes have a fairly attractive conference slate ahead as getting back to postseason eligibility is within reach. Colorado won just twice in a down season for the Pac-12 last year but most defeats were in tight games and the defense is likely to post improved numbers in 2018 after taking a big step back last season. Mike MacIntyre has the opportunity to stabilize the Buffaloes into a steady bowl performer in the years to come.

    Utah: Utah has declined in win count the past two seasons but last year’s squad was likely better than the 7-6 record indicated. The Utes shuffled through two quarterbacks and had much better statistics that the record suggests, out-gaining foes by 75 yards per game but losing four single-score results in Pac-12 play. Utah will play five conference road games while pulling all three of the North contenders as Utah has a difficult path ahead. This was a bowl team and the lone bowl victor from the Pac-12 last season even with a 3-6 conference record and Kyle Whittingham has provided consistent success in Salt Lake City in now his 14th season.

    Arizona State: Arizona State made one of the more curious coaching hires in recent years luring former NFL head coach Herm Edwards out of the TV studio. While Edwards hasn’t been on the sidelines in a decade he is a well known football mind that will resonate with players in a talent rich recruiting base. Unlike most new head coaches Edwards takes over a team that was pretty successful with Todd Graham leading the Sun Devils to a bowl game in five of the past six seasons and the Sun Devils won six Pac-12 games last season. The offense should remain productive but Edwards will have work to do rebuilding the Sun Devils on defense. Relative to its South division peers Arizona State has a more difficult schedule pulling the top three North teams and featuring five Pac-12 road games.

    UCLA: Chip Kelly returns to the college coaching ranks at UCLA but instant success seems unlikely with a dramatic scheme change and the loss of quarterback Josh Rosen. The Bruins couldn’t maintain Jim Mora’s early success with back-to-back losing seasons but injuries played a significant role in the failure to meet expectations. UCLA has a tough non-conference schedule to open the season and while the Bruins get five Pac-12 home games they are all difficult games as there are not many sure-wins ahead on this schedule particularly for a program that has gone 1-11 on the road the past two years. The first year for Kelly might be a challenge resembling his failed season up the coast with the 49ers.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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