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

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  1. #1 A Sneak Peek At CFB 2018 News/Views/Highlights ! 
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    Handicapping Texas A&M (7)
    May 17, 2018



    The Texas A&M Aggies will have a new look in 2018, as former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher takes over. Fisher has his work cut out for him as he tries to get the Aggies into contention in an SEC West that includes Alabama and Auburn.


    The Aggies have a schedule this season that will make it difficult for Fisher to get Texas A&M into a major bowl, but the Aggies should have a winning season.


    Let’s look at the win total and the schedule for the 2018 Texas A&M Aggies.


    SEC Win Totals


    Texas A&M 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 7 (-120)
    Under 7 (-110)


    The Aggies will play nine games in the state of Texas this season, so they will have a chance to win at least seven games this season. Whether or not they can win eight games will be decided by how they fare on the road. The Aggies have two very difficult road games against Alabama and Auburn.


    2018 Texas A&M Schedule Analysis


    Aug. 30 vs. Northwestern State



    The season opener for the Aggies is an easy one, as Northwestern State went 4-7 last season. This game is a good chance for Fisher to get everyone on the same page before next week’s huge game against Clemson.


    Sept. 8 vs. Clemson


    The question for this game is whether or not Fisher will have his system fully in place and the players ready to go. The Tigers have turned into a national power and they should be road favorites in this contest.


    Sept. 15 vs. ULM


    The Aggies should have no trouble in this one, as ULM is not a team that is going to go into College Station and win.


    Sept. 22 at Alabama


    The first road game for Fisher is at Tuscaloosa and it is almost surely a loss, as the Crimson Tide are considered national title contenders. Fisher has faced his former boss, Nick Saban just once, and it was last year when Alabama beat FSU 24-7.


    Sept. 29 vs. Arkansas


    This game will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It will be a big game for Fisher, as we assume that A&M will be coming off a loss to Alabama. The Aggies have won their last six against Arkansas.


    Oct. 6 vs. Kentucky


    This should be a home win for the Aggies, but Kentucky is not a complete pushover, as they went 4-4 in the SEC last season. Surprisingly, A&M and Kentucky have not met since 1953.


    Oct. 13 at South Carolina


    This game could decide whether or not A&M has a chance to win eight games this season. The Gamecocks are a tough team at home under head coach Will Muschamp and they are very capable of beating the Aggies.


    Oct. 27 vs. Mississippi State


    The Bulldogs have a new head coach in Joe Moorhead and he may have his team ready to roll by the middle of the season. The Aggies defense will have to be ready for a high-powered Mississippi State offense. These teams have split their last six meetings.


    Nov. 3 at Auburn


    The Tigers are considered one of the top teams in the country and they routed A&M in College Station last year. There is no real reason to think Texas A&M has enough to go into Auburn and win.


    Nov. 10 vs. Mississippi


    The Aggies should be able to win this one against the Rebels if they avoid a letdown after playing at Auburn.


    Nov. 17 vs. UAB


    The Aggies should not have too much trouble against a UAB team that doesn’t have enough talent to win on the road against a good SEC team.


    Nov. 24 vs. LSU


    The Aggies have lost their last seven games against LSU, so Fisher will be very motivated to end that streak.

    2018 Texas A&M Aggies Win Total Prediction



    The Aggies have five games that look like sure wins and three that look like sure losses. Their season win total comes down to the other four games. If they go 2-2 against Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU they will win seven games. If they go 3-1 or 4-0 they will win eight or nine games and go over the total. The only way they win less than seven games is if they lose three of those four. Fisher has done nothing but win in his career and it is hard to see him having a losing record in his first season with the Aggies. That means Texas A&M will win at least seven games, so taking the over is the way to go.
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    Handicapping LSU (7.5)
    May 7, 2018



    The LSU Tigers are coming off a successful season in the first full year under head coach Ed Orgeron, as they went 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the SEC. The Tigers will have a new offensive coordinator in 2018, as Steve Ensminger takes over and LSU has a very good defense led by linebacker Devin White.


    LSU 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 7.5 (-120)
    Under 7.5 (-110)



    The problem for the Tigers is that they face one of the most difficult schedules in the nation for the 2018 season.


    2018 SEC Win Totals


    2018 LSU Tigers Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 2 vs. Miami (AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas)


    The season opener for LSU is not going to be easy, as Miami is turning into a national power under head coach Mark Richt. The early odds on this game have the game a pick and it could be that this game decides whether or not the Tigers will have a chance to win eight games and go over their win total of 7.5.


    Sept. 8 vs. Southeastern Louisiana


    The Tigers get an easy game for their home opener, as they face the Ragin’ Cajuns. This is a sandwich game for LSU but they have far too much talent to lose this game at home.


    Sept. 15 at Auburn


    The first true road game of the season for LSU looks like a loss. This will be a revenge game for Auburn, as they were beaten last year 27-23 by LSU. The home team has won the last four in this series.


    Sept. 22 vs. Louisiana Tech


    This might not be an automatic win for LSU, as Louisiana Tech will want to show they can play with their instate SEC rival. Louisiana Tech nearly beat South Carolina last season, losing 17-16.


    Sept. 29 vs. Mississippi


    The Rebels have an explosive offense that can give LSU all kinds of trouble. This is a home game for LSU, but definitely not a game that can automatically be put in the win column. LSU has won six of the last eight meetings in this series.


    Oct. 6 at Florida


    The Tigers have won six of the last eight meetings in this series, but Florida has a new head coach in Dan Mullen and a new outlook. LSU just barely got by the Gators last season, winning 17-16. The advantage for LSU in this contest is that Mullen faced his former Mississippi State team last week.


    Oct. 13 vs. Georgia


    The Tigers will probably be listed as home underdogs in this contest, as Georgia is considered one of the top teams in the country. This is one of the only big tests for Georgia this season and they will be extremely focused.

    Oct. 20 vs. Mississippi State



    The Bulldogs have a new head coach in Joe Moorhead so it is hard to know what to expect from them this season. This is really a must-win game for LSU if they are to have a winning season.

    Nov. 3 vs. Alabama



    The Tigers rarely win against the Crimson Tide, as they have lost the last seven meetings. Both teams will be coming off a bye, so both will be well prepared for this one.


    Nov. 10 at Arkansas


    The Battle for the Boot has seen LSU win six times, while Arkansas has won five times in the last 11 meetings. The Razorbacks have a new head coach in Chad Morris and they have a new defensive coordinator in former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis. This is another one of those swing games that will determine LSU’s season.


    Nov. 17 vs. Rice


    This should be an easy win for LSU, as Rice went 1-11 last season.


    Nov. 24 at Texas A&M


    The Tigers will face a difficult late season test at A&M who has a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher. The Tigers have won the last seven in this series, but that streak could come to an end this season.


    Can you find eight wins on the 2018 LSU schedule? If you give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt, then maybe they can win seven games but it is easy to see LSU finishing at 6-6 or even 5-7 in 2018 and that means they go under their win total of 7.5.
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    Handicapping Miss State (8)
    May 2, 2018



    The Mississippi State Bulldogs begin a new era in 2018, as gone is Dan Mullen and in is Joe Moorhead. The Bulldogs were reasonably successful under Mullen, but they still only had a winning conference record once in his tenure. Mullen is now at Florida, while Moorhead comes over from Penn State where he was the offensive coordinator.


    The Bulldogs should benefit in 2018 from playing seven home games, but they do have to deal with Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M this season. The Bulldogs also have a highly anticipated home game against Florida and former head coach Mullen.


    Mississippi State Bulldogs 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 8 (-115)
    Under 8 (-115)



    The Bulldogs bring back quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, and he should be ready to go after dislocating his foot late last season. He should excel under Moorhead, who is known to run a quarterback-friendly system. The question for the Bulldogs will be on defense, as Bob Shoop comes over from Tennessee. Mississippi State gave up 30 points or more in their four losses last season.


    2018 SEC Win Totals


    2018 Mississippi State Bulldogs Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 vs. Stephen F. Austin

    The season opener for Mississippi State should be an easy win. The Bulldogs have lost only once to an FCS team and that happened in 2004.


    Sept. 8 at Kansas State
    This game at Manhattan will not be easy, as the Wildcats are still coached by Bill Snyder and they usually play well at home. Mississippi State has not visited Manhattan since the 1977 season.


    Sept. 15 vs. Louisiana
    The Bulldogs should be able to fatten up on Louisiana before they begin their SEC schedule. The Bulldogs have won all three previous meetings against the Ragin’ Cajuns.


    Sept. 22 at Kentucky
    The Wildcats were shredded by Fitzgerald last season in a 45-7 loss and even though this game is in Lexington this time around, it is hard to see Mississippi State losing this one.


    Sept. 29 vs. Florida
    This is the game of the year for some Mississippi State fans, as they are going against their former head coach. The Bulldogs are more than capable of winning this game at home.


    Oct. 6 vs. Auburn
    The Bulldogs were destroyed in this game a year ago, as they lost 49-10. Mississippi State should be more competitive this time around, but the Bulldogs are still a notch below the Tigers in terms of overall talent.


    Oct. 20 at LSU
    The Bulldogs get an extra week to prepare for this contest. It will be a revenge game for LSU, as they were routed 37-7 last year in Starkville. It was the first win in 17 years for Mississippi State at home in this series. This is not a bad spot for the Bulldogs, as it is a sandwich game for LSU in between Georgia and Alabama.


    Oct. 27 vs. Texas A&M
    The Bulldogs won last year 34-14 but this time around they go against a new Texas A&M team that is coached by Jimbo Fisher. This is one of those swing games that will decide the season for Mississippi State.


    Nov. 3 vs. Louisiana Tech
    This is a trap game for the Bulldogs, as they face Alabama next week. Mississippi State should still win this game, but it may not be easy.


    Nov. 10 at Alabama
    The Bulldogs have not won at Alabama since 2007. The Bulldogs had the Crimson Tide on the ropes a year ago, leading 21-17 in the fourth quarter but they couldn’t hold the lead.


    Nov. 17 vs. Arkansas
    The Bulldogs just barely won at Arkansas last season, as Fitzgerald hit Thomas for the game winning TD with 17 seconds left. The Razorbacks will have a new head coach this season in Chad Morris and it may take him some time to turn the Razorbacks around.


    Nov. 22 at Mississippi
    The Egg Bowl will be at Oxford this season and it should be another excellent contest. The Rebels won last year’s game in Starkville 31-28 after Fitzgerald left with an injury.


    When you look at the 2018 Mississippi schedule it is easy to see this team going 8-4 and landing right on the win total of eight games.


    If you want to lean one way or another, going over the total could be the way to go, as Mississippi State is capable of pulling off an upset to get to nine wins.
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    Handicapping Auburn (9)
    May 1, 2018



    The Auburn Tigers will be looking to match their regular season success of a year ago for the 2018 college football season.


    The Tigers went 10-4 last season, including 7-1 in the SEC and they actually won the West Division over their hated rival, Alabama. What Auburn couldn’t do was win the SEC title game, as they were routed by Georgia and the Tigers missed out on the College Football Playoffs.


    Can the Tigers get past Alabama again this season and make it into the SEC title game again?


    Auburn 2018 Regular Season Win Total - per BetDSI.eu
    Over 9 (-110)
    Under 9 (-120)



    The Tigers won 10 games last season even though they had a difficult schedule that included Alabama, Clemson and Georgia. The 2018 schedule is no bargain for Auburn as they have to play Alabama as normal and they have to go on the road to face Mississippi and Georgia. The Tigers also take on Washington in their season opener. Auburn does return quarterback Jarrett Stidham, but they have to replace a number of starters on the offensive line.


    2018 Auburn Tigers Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 vs. Washington
    (Atlanta, Georgia)
    This is a huge game for both teams in terms of the College Football Playoff, as a win would be huge, while a loss may all but end the losing team’s chances. Auburn should be listed as a three or four point favorite in this contest.


    Sept. 8 vs. Alabama State
    This should be an easy win for Auburn, as Alabama State was routed last year in their only game against an FBS opponent, as Troy beat them 34-7.


    Sept. 15 vs. LSU
    Auburn will be looking for revenge, as they were beaten 27-23 in Baton Rouge last season. The home field edge should be enough for Auburn to get this win and keep in mind that the home team has won each of the last five meetings in this series.


    Sept. 22 vs. Arkansas
    The Razorbacks have a new head coach in Chad Morris who is expected to bring the spread offense to Arkansas. This should be a shootout and that definitely favors Auburn. The Tigers have won four of the last five meetings in this series.


    Sept. 29 vs. Southern Miss
    The Golden Eagles couldn’t beat Kentucky or Tennessee last season and it is hard to see them winning this one on the road against the Tigers.


    Oct. 6 at Mississippi State
    It is hard to know what to expect out of Mississippi State, as they have a new head coach in Joe Moorhead. This has been a competitive series, as the teams have split their last six meetings.


    Oct. 13 vs. Tennessee
    The Vols have a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt and it may take him some time to get Tennessee turned around. The Tigers should be able to get the home win.


    Oct. 20 at Mississippi
    This should be another shootout for Auburn, as the Rebels have one of the best offenses in the SEC led by quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. The Tigers won last season by a score of 44-23.


    Nov. 3 vs. Texas A&M
    The Aggies have a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher and he will turn this team into a contender soon. This is a dangerous home game for the Tigers, as A&M should be much better later in the season than in the early going.


    Nov. 11 at Georgia
    This is a revenge game for Auburn, as they were beaten by the Bulldogs in the SEC title game. Getting revenge won’t be easy for Auburn, as the Bulldogs are very tough to beat at home.


    Nov. 17 vs. Liberty
    This should be an easy win for Auburn in advance of the Iron Bowl. Liberty did go 6-5 last season, but they don’t have enough talent to compete with Auburn.


    Nov. 24 at Alabama
    Can Auburn actually beat Alabama in consecutive seasons? This could be the game that decides which team plays in the SEC title game and it is hard to see Alabama losing the Iron Bowl in back-to-back seasons, especially when this game is at home.


    The question is whether or not the Tigers can win at least nine games, and based on their 2018 schedule the answer is probably yes. Auburn has what looks like nine games they should win, two they will probably lose (Georgia and Alabama) and one toss-up (Washington).
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    Handicapping Alabama (10.5)
    April 30, 2018



    Do you know the last time that the Alabama Crimson Tide didn’t win at least 11 games in the regular season?


    If you can’t remember you are probably not alone, as Alabama has won at least 11 games in each of the last seven seasons.


    If you think the Crimson Tide are a lock to win at least 11 games again in 2018 then you may want to get in now on the 2018 season win total that is listed at 10.5 at BetDSI.

    2018 Alabama Crimson Tide Regular Season Win Total
    Over 10.5 (-130)
    Under 10.5 (+100)



    The Crimson Tide enter the 2018 season as one of the favorites to win the National Championship. Alabama is the defending national champion and they have won the title in two of the last three seasons. Head coach Nick Saban has another powerhouse this season, with an excellent running back in Damien Harris, a veteran offensive line, another great defense and a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who looked great in last year’s title game.


    2018 SEC Win Totals


    2018 Alabama Crimson Tide Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 vs. Louisville
    (Orlando, Florida)
    You might think that this game against Louisville could be a potential land mine for the Crimson Tide, but this year’s Louisville team is not last year’s team. The Cardinals no longer have Lamar Jackson and most of their starters on defense have to be replaced. The Crimson Tide are expected to be at least 30-point favorites in this contest. You can forget about a loss for Alabama in the opener.


    Sept. 8 vs. Arkansas State
    The Red Wolves are not a bad team, but they are still a team from the Sun Belt and those types of teams don’t go on the road and beat Alabama. The Tide will be 2-0 after this one.


    Sept. 15 at Mississippi
    It was ugly last year in this game at Alabama, with the Crimson Tide winning 66-3. It should be closer this time around, but it is still hard to see Ole Miss pulling off the upset.


    Sept. 22 vs. Texas A&M
    The Aggies may eventually be good enough under Jimbo Fisher to compete with Alabama, but not yet. The Crimson Tide won 24-7 against the Aggies in Atlanta last year and this game will be in Tuscaloosa.

    Sept. 29 vs. Louisiana

    This game should see some scoring, as Louisiana has former Alabama offensive coordinator Billy Napier, but the Ragin’ Cajuns don’t have the defense to contain the Crimson Tide. Alabama should be 5-0 when this one is over.


    Oct. 6 at Arkansas
    It is hard to see the Razorbacks turning the corner in one season under Chad Morris. The Hogs went 4-8 last year and just 1-7 in the SEC. This game might be more interesting than some people expect, but the Hogs don’t have the defense to contain Alabama.


    Oct. 13 vs. Missouri
    The Tigers have an explosive offense led by quarterback Drew Luck who led the SEC in passing, but this is a home game for Alabama and they don’t lose at home very often.


    Oct. 20 at Tennessee
    This game sounds like one that could be a problem for Alabama, but Tennessee is in transition, as they have a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt. The Vols may be improved, but they are still not anywhere near Alabama in terms of talent.


    Nov. 3 at LSU
    The Crimson Tide gets an extra week to get ready for their toughest road game of the season. The Tigers have an excellent defense that should be able to give Alabama trouble. The Crimson Tide pulled out a 24-10 win last season against the Tigers. This is one of the only games on the Alabama schedule that can’t automatically be chalked up as a win.


    Nov. 10 vs. Mississippi State
    This could be a tough home game for Alabama, as the Bulldogs bring back a lot of talent, especially on offense. The Bulldogs will have a new head coach in Joe Moorhead, but he has the talent to win right away. Last year it was Alabama winning 31-24 in Starkville.


    Nov. 17 vs. The Citadel
    This is a sure win for the Tide before next week’s Iron Bowl.


    Nov. 24 vs. Auburn
    The Crimson Tide will be looking for revenge after losing last year 26-14 to the Tigers. The Tigers are excellent on defense and they still have Jarrett Stidham running the offense.


    If you look at the 2018 schedule for Alabama it is hard to envision them losing more than one game and it is easy to see them going undefeated. Over the total of 10.5 looks to be a good play at BetDSI.
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    QB Tagovailoa planned to transfer
    May 18, 2018



    Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was planning to transfer before he came off the bench to lead a dramatic rally and power Alabama to victory in the national championship game in January.


    Had Tagovailoa never entered the game, he was planning to leave the Crimson Tide, according to a report by HawaiiNewsNow.com


    Speaking to a group of middle-school students in his native state of Hawaii, Tagovailoa said he was planning to leave Alabama after his freshman season if he didn't play in the championship game against SEC rival Georgia.


    "I called my dad and asked him if my offer to the University of Southern California was still available," Tagovailoa said, per HawaiiNewsNow. "I wanted to leave. I told my dad I wanted to go to a school where I thought it'd be easier for me and wouldn't challenge me so much."


    Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban replaced ineffective starter Jalen Hurts in the second half, and the moved paid off when Tagovailoa sparked a stirring come-from-behind victory.


    Tagovailoa helped Alabama erase a 13-point second-half deficit the 26-23 win over Georgia. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 166 yards with three touchdowns against Georgia, including a game-winning 41-yarder.


    "Even throughout my football season, I wasn't the starter," Tagovailoa told the students. "I wanted to leave the school. So I told myself if I didn't play in the last game, which was the national championship game, I would transfer out.


    "If I gave in, I don't think I would have seen the end blessing of where I am now."


    Injuries throughout the spring have hindered Tagovailoa's bid to supplant Hurts as the starter entering the 2018, but last season's experience has him more determined to stay the course.


    "My mentality doesn't (change)," said Tagovailoa. "I just got to keep working."




    **************************




    Georgia QB Fromm gets hooked up
    May 18, 2018



    Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm managed to hook a big one on a recent fishing trip, and it landed him in the hospital.


    The unexpected visit to the hospital occurred after Fromm managed to hook himself in the leg while fishing last week.


    Fromm, who led the Bulldogs to the national championship game last season, poked fun at himself for the snafu, posting a picture of the lure stuck in his leg on his Instagram account.


    "Works so good it hooks humans too," Fromm wrote in a caption on the photo that showed the treble hook embedded in the side of his lower leg.


    Fromm, accompanied by fellow Georgia student Jordan Rowe, made a trip to Cook Medical Center in Adel, Ga., to have the hook removed, per the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer.


    The Bulldogs finished 13-2 following a 26-23 loss to Alabama in the national title game. Fromm made 14 starts, passing for 2,615 yards and 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his freshman season.




    *********************




    Former 5-star QB transfers to USF
    May 18, 2018



    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Former Alabama and Arizona State quarterback Blake Barnett, once a five-star recruit, has transferred to South Florida, where he'll be immediately eligible to play with two seasons remaining.


    USF announced the addition of Barnett on Friday. He is expected to compete for a starting job as the Bulls try to replace three-year starter Quinton Flowers, who set numerous school records at USF and signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.


    Barnett was the most highly rated quarterback to recruit to sign with Nick Saban at Alabama when he joined the Crimson Tide in 2015. He was in the mix to play as a freshman, but health issues set him back and he ended up sitting out as a redshirt as Alabama won a national championship.


    Barnett started the 2016 season-opener for the Crimson Tide, but quickly relinquished the job to Jalen Hurts. Soon after he left Alabama during the season and enrolled in junior college for the rest of the year, which put him in position to transfer and play in 2017 instead of sitting out the whole season as required by NCAA rules. He was initially supposed to miss the first four games of 2017, but the NCAA granted him a waiver and he was eligible to play the whole season for the Sun Devils.


    But he was unable to beat out Manny Wilkins, who started for much of the 2016 season for Arizona State, and served as a backup for Arizona State in 2017. He graduated this spring, making him eligible to transfer again and not sit out.


    In seven games at Alabama and Arizona State, Barnett has completed 14 of 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Having played only two seasons, he still has two years of eligibility left.


    At USF, Barnett will compete with junior Brett Kean and sophomore Chris Oladokun to start this season. Neither of the incumbents has started a college game and they played sparingly behind Flowers the last two seasons.




    **********************




    QB Minshew transfers to Wash State
    May 18, 2018



    Former East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew officially transferred to Washington State.


    Minshew, a graduate transfer who committed to play at Alabama at the end of February before reversing that decision, withdrew from East Carolina at the end of January to attend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.


    Washington State coach Mike Leach announced the transfer of Minshew on the school's official website.


    Minshew, who was scheduled to be East Carolina's starting quarterback in 2018, started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions.


    The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Minshew is expected to vie for the starting job with the Cougars. His main competition is Trey Tinsley and Anthony Gordon, neither of whom has thrown a pass since transferring from junior college.
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    Notes...was hoping you would jump in...…..

    RX College Football Forum is the best on the net right now. Don't believe me, look at all the
    other pretenders.

    Great to have you on board Mr. C...….love Vegas News!
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    Handicapping Florida (7)
    May 30, 2018



    The Florida Gators are hoping that a new head coach will turn their fortunes around for the 2018 season. Dan Mullen comes over from Mississippi State and takes over at Florida where he was the offensive coordinator the last time the Gators won a national championship. The problem for Mullen is that he doesn’t have a Tim Tebow under center.


    The Gators have not had a decent signal caller since Tebow in 2009. It may not be any better this season, as Feleipe Franks is the returning starter. It could be that redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask ends up with the job.


    Let’s look at the Florida Gators season win total and schedule for the 2018 season.


    Florida Gators 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-120)


    SEC Win Totals


    2018 Florida Gators Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 vs. Charleston Southern

    The opener should be a cakewalk for the Gators. Charleston Southern went 6-5 a year ago in the FCS and they have no real chance to be competitive in this contest.


    Sept. 8 vs. Kentucky
    The Gators should start the season 2-0, as Florida is 31-0 all-time against the Wildcats. Kentucky is not a bad team, but they simply don’t win against Florida and that shouldn’t change this season.


    Sept. 15 vs. Colorado State
    The schedule couldn’t set up much easier for Mullen to start this season, as he gets three games at home he should win. The Rams are a lot like Kentucky in that they are not a bad team, but they shouldn’t be good enough to win at Florida.


    Sept. 22 at Tennessee
    The first test of the season for Florida comes against the Volunteers on the road. The Vols have a new head coach in Jeremy Pruitt so they could have some growing pains. This is a game the Gators can win.


    Sept. 29 at Mississippi State
    Do you think the crowd in Starkville will be riled up for this one? This is a game that the Bulldogs will really want to win and Florida could be looking at their first loss.


    Oct. 6 vs. LSU
    The schedule for Florida really gets tough, as they face the Tigers just a week after taking on Mississippi State in an emotional game. The Gators are capable of winning this game and it is a contest that might decide whether they go over or under seven wins.


    Oct. 13 at Vanderbilt
    This game has letdown written all over it for the Gators. Florida always seems to struggle in Nashville even when they have good teams.


    Oct. 27 vs. Georgia (Jacksonville, Florida)
    This looks like a sure loss for the Gators, as Georgia is considered a national title contender.


    Nov. 3 vs. Missouri
    This is not a sure win for the Gators, as they will be coming off the game against Georgia and Missouri can score. The Tigers won 45-16 over Florida last year.


    Nov. 10 vs. South Carolina
    This is another game that won’t be easy, as the Gamecocks are considered the second-best team in the SEC East behind Georgia. The losses could start piling up for the Gators.


    Nov. 17 vs. Idaho
    The Gators will badly need this game and it should not be a problem, as the Vandals were just 4-8 last season.

    Nov. 24 at Florida State

    The regular season finale won’t be easy, but this not the same Florida State team, as they have a new head coach in Willie Taggart. Florida has lost the last five in this series, but they are not without a chance in this one.


    2018 Florida Gators Win Total Prediction


    If you go down the list of games on the Florida schedule you will probably peg the Gators for exactly seven wins. That is exactly the total the oddsmakers have set for this team. Florida should beat Charleston Southern, Kentucky, Colorado State and Idaho. They will probably lose to Georgia. The other seven games really could go either way. The problem with taking over seven wins is that there are very few easy wins on the Florida schedule.


    We’ll lean to the under simply because the Gators still don’t have a proven quarterback under center.
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    Handicapping Missouri (6.5)
    June 3, 2018



    The Missouri Tigers will once again rely heavily on Drew Lock in 2018, as the quarterback returns for his senior season. Lock led the FBS last season with 44 touchdown passes, but he decided to stay in school after his NFL Draft projections were lower than he expected. Lock will not have his top receiver, as J’Mon Moore left for the NFL. The Tigers were extremely inconsistent last season, as they had a five-game losing streak and a six-game winning streak. Let’s look at the Tigers and their win total for this season.


    Missouri 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 6.5 (-105)
    Under 6.5 (-125)



    The Tigers were inconsistent a year ago, but they were actually a pretty easy team to figure out. They beat all of the teams they were supposed to beat and they lost to every team that was better than they were. They finished with a winning record on the season, but they lost to Texas in their bowl game. Missouri has a potent offense led by Lock and the Tigers have some young talent around him including running backs Damarea Crockett and Larry Rountree III. The Tigers are going to score a lot of points, so how far they go in 2018 will be determined by their defense. The Tigers have Terry Beckner Jr. who is one of the top defensive linemen in the SEC.


    SEC Win Totals


    2018 Missouri Tigers Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 UT Martin

    The Tigers get an easy opener against a Tennessee-Martin team that is not going to put up much of a fight. The Tigers should score at least 50 points in their home opener and roll to an easy win.


    Sept. 8 Wyoming
    The Tigers should not have much trouble against a Wyoming team breaking in a new quarterback. Missouri should be 2-0 after this one.


    Sept. 15 at Purdue
    You never like to say that a team’s season will be determined by one game, but if Missouri is going to have a winning season this is almost a must-win game, because the next three games are almost certain losses.


    Sept. 22 Georgia
    The Tigers are going to score points against the Bulldogs, but Georgia has too much talent on both sides of the ball for Missouri.


    Oct. 6 at South Carolina
    The Tigers come off their week off and travel to South Carolina for a very difficult road contest. The week off will help, but this is still a tough one for the Tigers.


    Oct. 13 at Alabama
    Missouri doesn’t have the talent to compete with Alabama, especially on the road, so this is another loss.


    Oct. 20 Memphis
    Missouri gets a break after Alabama with two home games they need to win. Missouri should have enough offense to outscore Memphis in this one.


    Oct. 27 Kentucky
    The Tigers can’t afford to lose this one against a Kentucky team that continues to improve. The game earlier in the season at Purdue was very important, and this game against Kentucky is also one of those must-win games.


    Nov. 3 at Florida
    The Tigers are capable of going to Florida and competing with the Gators. Florida has a new head coach and it may take Dan Mullen a while to turn things around in Gainesville.


    Nov. 10 Vanderbilt
    The Tigers should be able to outscore a Vanderbilt team that almost never plays well on the road.


    Nov. 17 at Tennessee
    The Tigers might need to win one of their final two games of the season to assure a winning record. Winning at Tennessee is never easy, but Missouri has the offense to make it exciting.


    Nov. 24 Arkansas
    The Tigers and Razorbacks look to be similar teams, but Missouri is at home and they should be favored. This game could decide Missouri’s season win total.

    2018 Missouri Tigers Season Win Total Prediction



    If everything goes as expected, and rarely does that happen, the Tigers should go 7-5 and go over their win total of 6.5. The Tigers have seven games they should win and five they will probably lose. The factor that points to the win total going over is that of their five probable losses, three of those games could be competitive and Missouri is more likely to go 8-4 than they are to go 5-7.
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    Handicapping Arkansas (5.5)
    June 14, 2018



    The Arkansas Razorbacks are going to look a lot different in 2018 than they did a year ago, as they have a new head coach in Chad Morris and a new defensive coordinator in John Chavis. There is no question that Arkansas will score a lot of points, as Morris runs a spread attack.


    The question is how much Chavis can improve the defense. The Razorbacks won just four games last season, so Morris doesn’t need to do that much for Arkansas to show improvement this year.


    Oddsmakers put the win total for the Razorbacks at 5.5. Let’s look at the schedule for Arkansas to see if they will go over or under that number.


    Arkansas 2018 Regular Season Win Total
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-120)



    The Razorbacks averaged 29 points per game last season, so they were not that bad on offense. The defense was a major problem, as they gave up 36.2 points per game in SEC play. Arkansas lost three games by a combined 17 points last season, so they could have finished at least 6-6 if they won a couple of those games. Arkansas has seven home games this season, so getting to six wins is definitely possible.


    SEC Win Totals


    2018 Arkansas Razorbacks Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 vs. Eastern Illinois

    The opener for Morris should be a cakewalk, as Eastern Illinois doesn’t have the talent to compete with the Hogs.


    Sept. 8 at Colorado State
    The Razorbacks get a good test in their second game, as they travel to Fort Collins to face the Rams. This is definitely a winnable game for Arkansas, as Colorado State is simply an average team that goes 7-6 every year. Arkansas gets the added edge of facing the Rams after they played Colorado the previous week.


    Sept. 15 vs. North Texas
    This should be another win for Arkansas, as they face the Mean Green. It may not be easy though, as North Texas did win the West Division of Conference USA last season, but this game is in Fayetteville and the Hogs should win.


    Sept. 22 at Auburn
    The first huge test of the season for Arkansas is on the road at Auburn. This one figures to be very high scoring and it is also a game that Arkansas figures to lose. The good news for Arkansas is that Auburn will be coming off a game against LSU and could have a letdown.


    Sept. 29 vs. Texas A&M (AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas)
    This should be an excellent matchup between two teams with new coaches. The Razorbacks have lost the last six against A&M, but this is a game that can win, as it may take Jimbo Fisher some time to get his system in place at A&M. The Hogs get a break, as the Aggies could have a letdown after facing Alabama last week.


    Oct. 6 vs. Alabama
    It has been ugly for Arkansas in this series, as they have lost the last 11 against the Crimson Tide. The Razorbacks will be solid home underdogs, but Chavis has seen Alabama’s offense a lot and Arkansas might make this game closer than expected.


    Oct. 13 vs. Mississippi (War Memorial Stadium - Little Rock)
    This one won’t be easy for the Hogs coming off the game against Alabama. Ole Miss has a high-powered offense that scored 33 points per game last season. Betting the over in this game should be the way to go.


    Oct. 20 vs. Tulsa
    This game should be a win for Arkansas, as they have beaten Tulsa 18 straight times going back to 1977.


    Oct. 27 vs. Vanderbilt
    There is no reason to think that Vandy is going to go into Fayetteville and come out with a win.


    Nov. 10 vs. LSU
    This game comes after a bye week for Arkansas, so they will be well rested. This is a winnable game for Arkansas, as it comes at home and LSU will be coming off their game against Alabama.


    Nov. 17 at Mississippi State
    The Hogs continue to get scheduling breaks, as this will be the third time they will be facing a team coming off a game against Alabama. It should be a high scoring game as the Bulldogs hired Joe Moorhead who ran Penn State’s high scoring offense last season.


    Nov. 24 at Missouri
    The Tigers won 48-45 at Fayetteville last season, so this is a revenge game for the Hogs. This should be another high scoring game, as the Tigers feature quarterback Drew Lock.


    2018 Arkansas Razorbacks Season Win Total Prediction


    The schedule really couldn’t set up much better for the Hogs in 2018. They have four games they should win rather easily and another six games they are not without a chance to win. They just need to win two of those six to go over the total. A 6-6 or 7-5 season looks probable for Arkansas and that means they go over their win total of 5.5
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    Handicapping Tennessee (5.5)
    June 20, 2018



    The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off the worst season in school history, as they went 0-8 in the SEC. There is optimism that things will get better in 2018, as Jeremy Pruitt takes over as head coach. The problem for Pruitt and Tennessee is that their 2018 schedule is difficult.


    Oddsmakers believe that Tennessee will be improved, but that a winning season is still unlikely. Let’s look at the schedule for the Volunteers in 2018 and see if they will go over or under their win total of 5.5.


    2018 Tennessee Volunteers Regular Season Win Total
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-120)

    SEC Win Totals


    2018 Tennessee Volunteers Schedule Analysis



    Sept. 1 vs. West Virginia (Charlotte, NC)
    The season opener for Tennessee is a tough one as they meet West Virginia in a neutral site game in Charlotte. The Mountaineers are loaded on offense, led by quarterback Will Grier and it is hard to see the Vols keeping up with the Mountaineers.


    Sept. 8 vs. East Tennessee State
    The first win of the Pruitt era should come in Week 2, as the Volunteers host East Tennessee State. The Bucs are 11-22 since reviving their football program and they have no shot in this one.


    Sept. 15 vs. UTEP
    The Miners are an FBS team, but they are not that much better than East Tennessee. UTEP was considered the worst FBS team in the country a year ago and they don’t look any better this year. This will be another easy Tennessee win.


    Sept. 22 vs. Florida
    The Volunteers are not without a chance to win their SEC opener, as Florida has a new head coach and it may take some time for Dan Mullen to get his system in place.


    Sept. 29 at Georgia
    The Volunteers have no real chance to win this one, as Georgia is considered a national title contender and this game is in Athens. The teams met last season in Knoxville and Georgia won 41-0.


    Oct. 13 at Auburn
    The Volunteers will have a bye before this game although it probably won’t matter. Tennessee simply doesn’t match up against the Tigers on either side of the ball and this should be another road defeat.
    Tennessee has not won at Jordan-Hare since 1998.


    Oct. 20 vs. Alabama
    The brutal stretch for Tennessee continues, as they host Alabama. This will be Pruitt facing his former mentor Nick Saban and former assistant coaches are 0-12 against Saban.


    Oct. 27 at South Carolina
    The Volunteers nearly beat South Carolina last season in Knoxville, but this year the game is in Columbia and South Carolina looks like a contender in the SEC.


    Nov. 3 vs. Charlotte
    Tennessee finally gets a break as they host Charlotte. The 49ers had just one win last season and they are not going to go into Knoxville and win.


    Nov. 10 vs. Kentucky
    If the Volunteers are going to win six games and go over the total of 5.5 then this is simply a must-win game. The Volunteers have not lost at home to Kentucky since 1984.


    Nov. 17 vs. Missouri
    This is another of those key games for Tennessee this season. Missouri has a high-powered offense that scored 50 points against the Vols last year in Colombia. Missouri doesn’t play much defense and this game is in Knoxville, so it is a game Tennessee can win.


    Nov. 24 at Vanderbilt
    The regular season finale is a toss-up because it is in Nashville. Tennessee has lost four of the last six matchups in this series.


    2018 Tennessee Volunteers Win Total Prediction


    The Volunteers have an interesting schedule to predict, as there are three sure wins, three sure losses, two likely losses and four toss-up games. The win total and a bowl berth probably come down to the four toss-up games. Three of those four games are at home against Florida, Kentucky and Missouri, while the road game is at Vanderbilt. To win six games and go over the total, Tennessee has to win three of those games.


    That is a tough task, so while it is close, we’ll lean to taking the Volunteers to go under their win total of 5.5 games.
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    Handicapping Vanderbilt (5)
    June 21, 2018



    The Vanderbilt Commodores took a step back last season as they won just once in SEC play. The Commodores don’t look to be any better this season, as they lost top running back Ralph Webb, three top receivers and most of their top players on defense.


    Oddsmakers are not high on the chances of Vandy this season, as they set the win total for the Commodores at five. Let’s look at the Commodores and their schedule to see if they will go over or under that number.


    2018 Vanderbilt Commodores Regular Season Win Total
    Over 5 (+100)
    Under 5 (-130)


    The Commodores do return senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur but he is going to need help. Vanderbilt is hoping that transfers Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Alex Stump will be the answer at running back and receiver respectively.


    Vaughn rushed for 723 yards as a true freshman at Illinois in 2015 but then didn’t get much playing time in 2016. Stump will be counted on to team up with junior Kalija Lipscomb to give Shurmur two good receiving options. The Commodores do return all five starters on the offensive line.


    The defense returns just four starters and they will have a new coordinator, as former Stanford assistant Jason Tarver takes over. The defense does have Charles Wright at linebacker and Joejuan Williams at cornerback, but there are very few other players worth talking about.


    SEC Win Totals


    2018 Vanderbilt Commodores Football Schedule Analysis


    Sept. 1 Middle Tennessee



    If Vanderbilt is to have any chance to win five games they simply have to win their home opener, but it is not a given, as Middle Tennessee is capable of putting points on the board.


    Sept. 8 Nevada


    The Commodores will also need to win this game against Nevada because there are very few other winnable games on the schedule this season. Nevada is not a good team, and Vandy should win this one at home.


    Sept. 15 at Notre Dame


    The Commodores are not going to go into South Bend and win. It is just a matter of how badly they get beat.


    Sept. 22 South Carolina


    The Gamecocks are a good SEC team and even though this game is at home, it is likely going to be another loss for Vandy.


    Sept. 29 Tennessee State


    This is the one game on the schedule that you can safely mark in the win column for the Commodores, as Tennessee State is no threat.


    Oct. 6 at Georgia


    The Commodores are going to get routed in this game, as they simply have no chance to compete with the Bulldogs.


    Oct. 13 Florida


    The Gators have a new head coach in Dan Mullen so perhaps Vanderbilt can be competitive in this contest, but it still looks like a home loss.


    Oct. 20 at Kentucky


    If this game was at home then perhaps Vanderbilt could pull out a win, but it is on the road and Vandy is usually road kill.


    Oct. 27 at Arkansas


    This looks like yet another road loss for the Commodores, but at least the Commodores have a chance to be competitive.


    Nov. 3 Bye


    Nov. 10 at Missouri



    The Commodores don’t have the offense to keep up with Missouri, so this will likely be a high scoring loss.


    Nov. 17 Mississippi

    The Rebels are a better team than Vandy, but this game is at home and the Commodores might be able to pull off the upset.


    Nov. 24 Tennessee


    This will likely be the final game of the season for Vandy, and another home loss, the Commodores don’t look like a team that is good enough to make a bowl game.


    2018 Vanderbilt Commodores Season Win Total Prediction


    The Commodores were not a good team last season in Derek Mason’s fourth season and there is no reason to think they are going to be any good in 2018. The offense might be okay with Shurmur returning, but the defense is going to struggle. Even if we give the Commodores the three games they should win, there are simply not many other games they are likely to win. This looks like a 3-9 or 4-8 season for Vanderbilt and that means they will go under their win total of five.
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    Report: Stanford transfer Alexander reporting to LSU
    June 24, 2018



    LSU graduate transfer cornerback Terrence Alexander will report to the team on Monday, according to Nola.com.


    Alexander announced in the spring he intended to transfer from Stanford to LSU once he graduated. He earned his degree last week, allowing him to follow through on transferring as a graduate.


    Graduate transfers are not required by the NCAA to sit out a year so Alexander, who is a native of nearby New Orleans, is eligible to play for the Tigers this season.


    Alexander played in one game before an injury cut his season short last year. He played 13 games in a backup role in 2016.


    LSU has one starting spot open alongside All-America candidate Greedy Williams. Alexander expects to compete against sophomores Jontre Kirklin, Mannie Netherly and Kary Vincent. Kristian Fulton is also a contender but is under suspension by the NCAA.


    ********************


    CFB Notebook: South Carolina suspends DB Charleston
    June 23, 2018



    South Carolina defensive back Javon Charleston was suspended from the team in the wake of his arrest on multiple charges.


    Charleston was arrested June 17 on charges of assault and burglary, The State newspaper reported Friday, citing Lexington County (S.C.) police records.


    The university confirmed Charleston's suspension to the newspaper via an athletic department spokesman.


    Charleston was a walk-on at the school who received a scholarship in August 2017. He appeared in 13 games last season primarily on special teams, although he also saw playing time at defensive back and wide receiver.


    The newspaper reported that Charleston could face up to a $2,500 fine or up to three years in prison for the assault and battery charge. The first-degree burglary charge could result in a life sentence in prison.


    --Arkansas coach Chad Morris finally signed a contract this week despite being hired last December.


    Morris' deal pays him about $3.5 million per year through 2023, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. His contract also reportedly includes bonuses.


    Morris can earn up to $1 million in competition-based bonuses and $200,000 in academic-based bonuses each year. He is also eligible for three retention payments of $500,000 each if no serious NCAA violations occur and the school does not land on NCAA probation at the time the payments are due in February of 2019, 2021 and 2023.


    There are also contingencies if Morris gets fired or resigns from the school before his contract runs out. Morris will receive 70 percent of his yearly salary if he gets fired before the final day of 2022. But he gets the full amount if he is let go on or after Jan. 1, 2023. If Morris leaves the school for another coaching job before Dec. 31, 2019, he would owe Arkansas $3 million, and decreasing amounts each year after that.


    --Former Arkansas wide receiver Maleek Barkley announced that he is transferring to Montana State.


    Barkley is the fifth Razorback to transfer from the school this offseason.


    Barkley, a former running back, made the change to wide receiver as a freshman last year and redshirted. He still has four years of eligibility remaining.


    Since Montana State is an FCS-level school, Barkley does not have to sit out a year.


    --It's a steep rise in the level of play from Massachusetts to Auburn, but graduate transfer Jack Driscoll appears to be making a seamless transition.


    Although Driscoll has only been able to participate in summer workouts since transferring to Auburn in May, the 6-foot-5, 300-pounder has already opened eyes with his new teammates.


    "I am extremely happy that he came to Auburn because, like I said, he's a great person, but he's a freak of an athlete when it comes to a guy that's 6-5, 300 pounds," Tigers quarterback Jarrett Stidham told Al.com this week at Eli Manning's passing academy. "He's just a freak athlete and I think he can really help us this year."


    Driscoll is expecting to vie for the starting right tackle job with redshirt freshmen Calvin Ashley and Austin Troxell during Auburn's fall camp. He made 12 starts at right tackle for the Minutemen in 2017
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    CFB Notebook: FAU, Kiffin finalize 10-year contract
    June 22, 2018



    Florida Atlantic and head coach Lane Kiffin finally finalized a new 10-year contract.


    The deal, which will keep Kiffin with the university through 2027, was initially agreed upon in December but was made official this week, a school spokesman confirmed to the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale.


    Kiffin resurrected the school's football program in one season, guiding the Owls to an 11-3 record and 10 consecutive victories.


    Florida Atlantic won the Conference USA championship and capped the season with a victory over Akron in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl.


    The 11 wins represent the most in program history for the Owls in their 13 years as an FBS school. Florida Atlantic posted three consecutive 3-9 marks before Kiffin's arrival.


    Kiffin's initial deal was for five years and paid him $950,000 annually. While his yearly salary will remain the same, Kiffin will receive a $50,000 bonus for each year he remains with the program. Numerous incentives also are included in the contract. "I'm not driven by money anymore," Kiffin told ESPN.com in May. "I'm not driven by ego, of the attention being a head coach at one of those places. I'm very happy here on all fronts."


    Kiffin enjoyed success in his first season in Boca Raton after a bumpy ride as Alabama's offensive coordinator during which the Crimson Tide won a national title following the 2015 season.


    The 43-year-old Kiffin owns a 46-24 record all-time as a head coach that includes stops at USC and Tennessee.


    Kiffin also went 5-15 in parts of two seasons as coach of the NFL's Oakland Raiders before being dismissed as coach four games into the 2008 season.


    --Wyoming running back Trey Woods might be able to play this season after all.


    Three weeks after the school announced that Woods would sit out the 2018 season because of a shoulder injury, Cowboys coach Craig Bohl told the Casper Star-Tribune that he is not ruling out a return by the sophomore running back.


    "There's an opportunity he may be back," Bohl told the newspaper. "Initially, we thought that he for sure would be out for the year, and he may be back. What's also interesting is this year will be the first year a player can play four games and still preserve that redshirt year. So we'll see where he's at on that calendar."


    The NCAA passed a rule earlier this month that will allow a player to appear in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility. So, even if Woods returns four games at the end of the year, he could still qualify for a medical redshirt season.


    Woods led the Cowboys in rushing as a freshman in 2017 with 493 yards and two touchdowns on 124 carries. He also had four receptions for 74 yards.


    Even with Woods, Wyoming had one of the nation's least efficient running games in the nation, averaging only 3.17 yards per rush. That was sixth worst in the country, according to the newspaper.


    Kellen Overstreet, Nico Evans and Woods, who was recruited by the school as a linebacker, were listed as co-starters at running back atop the team's depth chart following spring practice.


    "He has had surgery, and so we're just waiting on his recovery," Bohl said of Woods. "He's a little bit ahead of where we thought he'd be. He certainly won't be ready the first game, but as the season goes along, we feel like he'll be ready to go."


    --Fresno State has hired Terry Tumey, who formerly worked with the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, as athletic director, university president Joseph I. Castro announced on Twitter.


    The 52-year-old Tumey replaces Jim Bartko, who resigned in November.


    Tumey was a three-time All-Pacific-10 Conference selection as defensive lineman at UCLA, and helped the Bruins win four bowl games, including the 1985 Rose Bowl.


    After earning a bachelor's degree in political science at UCLA, he went back to school and received an MBA from UCLA's UCLA Andersen School of Business in 1993.


    During that time, Tumey was a graduate assistant in the UCLA football program and eventually became a full-time assistant coach, later holding a similar position with the Broncos.


    Tumey was the 49ers' director of football administration from 2004 to 2009 and left to become athletic director at Dominican University in San Rafael, Calif.


    Later, he was athletic director at UC Davis and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, where he spent the last 2 1/2 years.


    --John Ward, known as the "Voice of the Vols" at the University of Tennessee, has died after a lengthy illness at the age of 88.


    Ward did radio play-by-play for 34 basketball seasons and for 31 in football, never missing a game in more than 350 broadcasts before his retirement in 1999.


    "It is with a heavy heart that we announce a great voice has gone silent," Vol Network said in a statement announcing his death.


    During his last football season in 1998, the Volunteers won the national championship, and he continued for one more basketball season.


    When the Volunteers beat Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl to clinch the national title, Ward punctuated the moment with the call: "The national champion is clad in Big Orange!"


    Ward's broadcasts were sprinkled with his signature calls, which included, "Give him six," after a Tennessee touchdown, and, "Bottom," when the Volunteers made a big shot in basketball.


    After Ward retired, country music superstar Kenny Chesney, who grew up in Tennessee, recorded a tribute to Ward called "Touchdown Tennessee."


    When he announced his retirement in 1998, Ward said: "I'll miss the game, but I'll miss the fans more."


    Ward chronicled the exploits of such Tennessee greats as Peyton Manning, Bernard King, Reggie White, Dale Ellis and Condredge Holloway.


    In 1994, Ward and his late wife, Barbara, made a $2 million gift to Tennessee, at the time the largest ever made to the school's athletic department.


    Ward was honored on the field during a game last season at Neyland Stadium.
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    CFB notebook: Oklahoma extends Riley's contract
    June 19, 2018



    Oklahoma and head coach Lincoln Riley agreed to a contract extension Tuesday, the Oklahoman reported.


    Although the extension is only for one year, it will also provide a raise of $1 million for Riley for the upcoming 2018 season.


    Riley will receive annual increases of $100,000 for the contract that will run through January 2023. The total value of the five years remaining on the deal is worth $25 million.


    Taking over the program last season following the retirement of Bob Stoops, Riley guided the Sooners to a 12-2 record in 2017. Oklahoma won the Big 12 Conference title and advanced to the national semifinal, losing to Georgia 54-48 in the Rose Bowl.


    --Notre Dame senior linebacker Te'von Coney was sentenced to a year of probation after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana, multiple media outlets reported.


    Coney entered into a plea agreement on the charge stemming from an arrest with four teammates in August 2016 in Fulton Country, Ind.


    The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Coney wrote a one-word posting on his Twitter account on Tuesday morning: "Blessed."


    Coney registered a team-high 116 tackles, including 11.5 for loss, and 3.0 sacks for Notre Dame during his junior season in 2017. Indiana State Police arrested Coney and four teammates in August 2016 after a trooper reported finding a loaded handgun and marijuana in their car.


    --Running back Terence Williams and cornerback Nick Watkins officially transferred to the University of Houston, the school announced.


    Williams (Baylor) and Watkins (Notre Dame) are graduate transfers so both will be immediately eligible to play for the Cougars in the 2018 season.


    Williams was limited to eight games last season due to a shoulder injury and finished with only 255 yards rushing and one touchdown on 73 carries. However, he rumbled for 1,048 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016, when current Houston offensive coordinator Kendal Briles served in the same capacity at Baylor.


    Watkins started nine of 12 games for the Fighting Irish last season, recording 28 tackles, breaking up eight passes and making one interception.


    --Jeff Byrd was named interim head football coach at Stephen F. Austin, the school announced.


    The promotion of Byrd comes one day after head coach Clint Conque was suspended due to "alleged violations of university policy."


    The university announced Monday that Conque will be away from the team pending an investigation. The school said in a statement that the probe is expected to take "several weeks" and no further comments will be made by the university until it is complete.


    Byrd, in his second season with the Lumberjacks, served as the team's defensive coordinator in 2017. He was promoted to assistant head coach in March.
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    CFB notebook: Former Oregon player found dead after crash
    June 16, 2018



    Former Oregon defensive player Fotu Leiato II was found dead hours after a single car accident in Eugene, Ore., on Friday morning. He was 21 years old.


    Oregon television station KEZI reported that Leiato was a passenger in a car that rolled over and crashed about 2:30 a.m. near Autzen Stadium where the Ducks play their home games. The driver of the vehicle, Pedro Chavarin, Jr., told police he was the only one in the car when it crashed.


    According to KEZI, a woman in the area called police about 7 a.m. when she saw a hand near the scene of the accident and Leiato's body was discovered. Chavarin was hospitalized and cited for DUII.


    Leitao, a safety and linebacker, played 20 games for the Ducks from 2015-17. He recorded 37 tackles. He was dismissed from the team in April following an arrest for removing a parking boot from his car. He was charged with second-degree criminal mischief and second-degree theft.


    --Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told reporters that Dwayne Haskins will begin preseason camp as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback.


    Meyer named Haskins starter while speaking at the Ohio State Football Job Fair in Columbus. However, he also said that fellow sophomore Tate Martell will get to compete for the job.


    Haskins, Martell and Joe Burrow vied for the starting role during spring practice, but Burrow later transferred to LSU in May.


    Haskins, who is 6 feet 3, 218 pounds, completed 40 of 57 passes for 565 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in eight games as a backup last season.


    --The NCAA settled a lawsuit with the widow of former Texas football player Greg Ploetz, who suffered with CTE and died in 2015.


    After a three-day trial in a Dallas courtroom, the NCAA agreed to an undisclosed monetary settlement with Debra Hardin-Ploetz, who brought the lawsuit.


    The suit claimed that the NCAA did not properly inform Ploetz of the overall health risks associated with repeated blows to the head. It was the first lawsuit of its kind. According to the Associated Press, the suit stated that Ploetz had "memory loss, difficulty communicating and confusion."


    Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries.


    Hardin-Ploetz sued for negligence and wrongful death, claiming that that the NCAA failed to communicate that repeated head trauma and lifelong cognitive difficulties were among the assumed risks of playing college football.


    Ploetz played for Texas from 1968-71, helping the Longhorns win 30 consecutive games, four straight Southwest Conference championships and two national titles (1969 and 1970). He was named the conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 1971.


    He died in 2015 and had his brain donated to Boston University, which concluded that he suffered from CTE.
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  17. #17  
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    CFB Notebook: Georgia DB Bishop arrested on felony charges
    May 26, 2018



    Georgia freshman defensive back Detravion "Tray" Bishop was arrested earlier this week on felony eavesdropping/surveillance charges.


    The alleged incident occurred in November, DawgNation.com reported Friday.


    Bishop turned himself in Wednesday after an arrest warrant was issued. He was later released from jail on a $5,700 bond.


    The arrest came after an investigation by University of Georgia police. In April, a woman filed a complaint that Bishop had recorded a sex act between them in November without her consent.


    "The complainant wished to report that there was a student going around showing people a sex tape of her ... without her consent," the police report said. "... A subsequent investigation into this incident led us into determining that the crime of unlawful eavesdropping occurred on (Nov. 5). The investigation showed that Detravion Bishop had recorded (the alleged victim) inside his dorm room without her permission and without her knowledge."


    Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, "We are investigating the matter and it's important that we gather all information relevant to the situation before we determine what policies may come into play. Then we can take appropriate action if necessary."


    --Safety C.J. Harris was denied a roster spot as a walk-on at Auburn because of a pre-existing medical condition, according to a report.


    Auburn Undercover reported that Auburn doctors refused to medically clear Harris because of the condition.


    Earlier in the week, reports surfaced that the NCAA denied Harris because of cannabis oil, which he uses to treat epilepsy. However, Auburn Undercover reported that actually Auburn's doctors were concerned about Harris' epilepsy and safety issues related to the Georgia native's condition.


    "I broke down," Harris told Georgia TV station WXGA recently when he found out he could not play for Auburn. "This is my dream. I saw everything lining up perfectly for me."


    Harris has claimed that he has not had a seizure since January 2017 because of his use of cannabis oil.


    ---Michigan offered a scholarship to an eighth grader this week.


    Tyler Martin won't graduate from high school until 2022, but his college plans may already be set.


    Martin, a Cambridge, Mass., native, led Buckingham Browne & Nichols with more than 100 tackles at linebacker and also started every game at tight end. Even though he is in eighth grade, he plays on the team's varsity squad. Buckingham Browne & Nichols is a private K-12 school.


    "He's a tremendous kid that happens to be a tremendous athlete," Browne & Nichols coach Mike Willey told USA Today. "He's worked exceptionally hard and put himself in a good position, that's why I think Michigan says, yeah, this is the kind of guy they want."
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  18. #18  
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    2018 Season Win Totals
    May 27, 2018

    The South Point in Las Vegas has recently released early Win Totals for the upcoming 2018 college football season.


    The sports book posted numbers on every FBS school after BetDSI.eu released win totals for the Power 5 schools in early May.


    Air Force
    Over 4.5 (-110)
    Under 4.5 (-110)


    Akron
    Over 4 (-110)
    Under 4 (-115)


    Alabama
    Over 11 (Even)
    Under 11 (-120)


    Appalachian State
    Over 8.5 (-120)
    Under 8.5 (Even)


    Arizona
    Over 7.5 (-120)
    Under 7.5 (Even)


    Arizona State
    Over 5 (-120)
    Under 5 (Even)


    Arkansas
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under 6 (-120)


    Arkansas State
    Over 9 (-120)
    Under 9 (Even)


    Army
    Over 7.5 (Even)
    Under 7.5 (-120)


    Auburn
    Over 9 (-110)
    Under 9 (-110)


    Ball State
    Over 4 (Even)
    Under 4 (-120)


    Baylor
    Over 6 (-105)
    Under 6 (-115)


    Boise State
    Over 10 (-110)
    Under 10 (-110)


    Boston College
    Over 5.5 (-120)
    Under 5.5 (Even)


    Bowling Green
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-110)


    BYU
    Over 5.5 (-105)
    Under 5.5 (-115)


    Buffalo
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)


    California
    Over 5.5 (-120)
    Under 5.5 (Even)


    Central Florida
    Over 9 (-120)
    Under 9 (Even)


    Central Michigan
    Over 4 (-120)
    Under 4 (Even)


    Charlotte
    Over 3.5 (-110)
    Under 3.5 (-110)


    Cincinnati
    Over 4 (-115)
    Under 4 (-105)


    Clemson
    Over 11 (Even)
    Under 11 (-120)


    Coastal Carolina
    Over 3.5 (-110)
    Under 3.5 (-110)


    Colorado
    Over 4 (-110)
    Under 4 (-110)


    Colorado State
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-110)


    Connecticut
    Over 3.5 (Even)
    Under 3.5 (-120)


    Duke
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)


    East Carolina
    Over 3 (-105)
    Under 3 (-115)


    Eastern Michigan
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Florida
    Over 7.5 (-120)
    Under 7.5 (Even)


    Florida Atlantic
    Over 9 (-110)
    Under 9 (-110)


    Florida International
    Over 5 (-110)
    Under 5 (-110)


    Florida State
    Over 7.5 (-110)
    Under 7.5 (-110)


    Fresno State
    Over 8 (-110)
    Under 8 (-110)


    Georgia
    Over 10.5 (-115)
    Under 10.5 (-105)


    Georgia Southern
    Over 6.5 (-105)
    Under 6.5 (-115)


    Georgia State
    Over 5 (Even)
    Under 5 (-120)


    Georgia Tech
    Over 5.5 (-120)
    Under 5.5 (Even)


    Hawaii
    Over 3.5 (-120)
    Under 3.5 (Even)


    Houston
    Over 7.5 (-115)
    Under 7.5 (-105)


    Illinois
    Over 3.5 (Even)
    Under 3.5 (-120)


    Indiana
    Over 5 (Even)
    Under (-120)


    Iowa
    Over 7.5 (Even)
    Under (-120)


    Iowa State
    Over 6.5 (-120)
    Under 6.5 (Even)


    Kansas
    Over 3 (-110)
    Under 3 (-110)


    Kansas State
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Kent State
    Over 2.5 (Even)
    Under 2.5 (-120)


    Kentucky
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-110)


    Louisiana Tech
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Louisville
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    LSU
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Marshall
    Over 7.5 (-110)
    Under 7.5 (-110)


    Maryland
    Over 4.5 (-110)
    Under 4.5 (-110)


    Massachusetts
    Over 5 (-110)
    Under 5 (-110)


    Memphis
    Over 8.5 (-120)
    Under 8.5 (Even)


    Miami (FL)
    Over 10 (Even)
    Under 10 (-120)


    Miami (OH)
    Over 6 (-115)
    Under 6 (-105)


    Michigan
    Over 9 (Even)
    Under 9 (-120)


    Michigan State
    Over 9 (Even)
    Under 9 (-120)


    Middle Tennessee State
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Minnesota
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under 6 (-120)


    Mississippi
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Mississippi State
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-110)


    Missouri
    Over 7.5 (-110)
    Under 7.5 (-110)


    Navy
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Nebraska
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Nevada
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under 6 (-120)


    New Mexico
    Over 4 (-120)
    Under (Even)


    New Mexico State
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under (-120)


    North Carolina
    Over 5 (Even)
    Under 5 (-120)


    N.C. State
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Northern Illinois
    Over 7 (Even)
    Under 7 (-120)


    North Texas
    Over 8 (-110)
    Under 8 (-110)


    Northwestern
    Over 6 (-120)
    Under 6 (Even)


    Notre Dame
    Over 9.5 (-120)
    Under 9.5 (Even)


    Ohio
    Over 8.5 (-120)
    Under 8.5 (Even)


    Ohio State
    Over 10.5 (-120)
    Under 10.5 (Even)


    Oklahoma
    Over 10 (-110)
    Under 10 (-110)


    Oklahoma State
    Over 8 (-120)
    Under 8 (Even)


    Old Dominion
    Over 5.5 (-120)
    Under 5.5 (Even)


    Oregon
    Over 8.5 (-120)
    Under 8.5 (Even)


    Oregon State
    Over 2.5 (-110)
    Under 2.5 (-110)


    Penn State
    Over 9.5 (-110)
    Under 9.5 (-110)


    Pittsburgh
    Over 5.5 (Even)
    Under 5.5 (-120)


    Purdue
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Rice
    Over 3 (-110)
    Under 3 (-110)


    Rutgers
    Over 4 (-110)
    Under 4 (-110)


    San Diego State
    Over 8.5 (Even)
    Under 8.5 (-120)


    San Jose State
    Over 3 (Even)
    Under 3 (-120)


    SMU
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under 6 (-120)


    South Alabama
    Over 3.5 (-120)
    Under 3.5 (Even)


    South Carolina
    Over 7 (-120)
    Under 7 (Even)


    South Florida
    Over 8.5 (-120)
    Under 8.5 (Even)


    Southern Miss
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)


    Stanford
    Over 8 (-110)
    Under 8 (-110)


    Syracuse
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    TCU
    Over 7.5 (-110)
    Under 7.5 (-110)


    Temple
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)


    Tennessee
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-110)


    Texas
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-110)


    Texas A&M
    Over 7 (Even)
    Under (-120)


    UT-San Antonio
    Over 5 (-110)
    Under 5 (-110)


    Texas State
    Over 3 (-120)
    Under 3 (Even)


    Texas Tech
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    Toledo
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-110)


    Troy
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-110)


    Tulane
    Over 5.5 (-110)
    Under 5.5 (-110)


    Tulsa
    Over 4 (Even)
    Under 4 (-120)


    UAB
    Over 7.5 (-120)
    Under 7.5 (Even)


    UCLA
    Over 5 (-110)
    Under 5 (-110)


    UL-Lafayette
    Over 5 (Even)
    Under 5 (-120)


    UL-Monroe
    Over 6 (Even)
    Under 6 (-120)


    UNLV
    Over 6 (-110)
    Under 6 (-110)


    USC
    Over 8.5 (Even)
    Under 8.5 (-120)


    Utah
    Over 7 (-110)
    Under 7 (-110)


    Utah State
    Over 7.5 (-120)
    Under 7.5 (Even)


    UTEP
    Over 2.5 (-110)
    Under 2.5 (-110)


    Vanderbilt
    Over 4 (-110)
    Under 4 (-110)


    Virginia
    Over 5 (-110)
    Under 5 (-110)


    Virginia Tech
    Over 8.5 (-110)
    Under 8.5 (-110)


    Wake Forest
    Over 6 (-120)
    Under 6 (Even)


    Washington
    Over 10.5 (Even)
    Under 10.5 (-120)


    Washington State
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)


    West Virginia
    Over 7 (Even)
    Under 7 (-120)


    Western Kentucky
    Over 4.5 (Even)
    Under 4.5 (-120)


    Western Michigan
    Over 5.5 (Even)
    Under 5.5 (-120)


    Wisconsin
    Over 10 (Even)
    Under 10 (-120)


    Wyoming
    Over 6.5 (-110)
    Under 6.5 (-110)
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  19. #19  
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    Week 1 - Line Moves
    June 4, 2018



    Coming at you from the summer desert heat of Las Vegas but looking forward to the upcoming football season. It is June and that means we are only a little over a month away from NFL Training Camps opening up followed by the preseason NFL campaign kicking off in two months from now.


    Now that we are only a little over 2 ˝ months from the College Football Season kicking off, it is certainly not too early to talk about some early season line movement that happened within the past 2 weeks - some of which I found to be quite intriguing. This all took place when lines first popped up at South Point sports book here in Las Vegas two weeks ago and the moves began. Some highlights:


    Aug. 30 – Minnesota opened up at -15 and moved to -20 as a home favorite over New Mexico State. Current offshore line is in the 17 to 18 range. This tells us that the line is likely right where it should be now as the markets over-reacted to what might have been a bit of a low opener and the line has now settled back in right in the middle of the original variance after getting pushed a little too high.


    Aug. 30 – Wake Forest opened up at -13 and dropped into single digits at -9 as a road favorite at Tulane. The line on the Demon Deacons is predominately an 8 now offshore but there is some 7.5 popping up. This begs the question of whether or not the original number was truly that far off? If this one drops to a 7 I would say the “buy sign” may be blinking bright for grabbing the undervalued Demon Deacons.


    Aug. 31 – Syracuse opened up as just a 1-point choice but sky-rocketed up to a 6-point favorite as road chalk at Western Michigan. It has held in the 5.5 to 6-point range offshore. Can the Orange really be trusted to truly pound a team on the road? If this one gets up to 7 the Broncos might be an enticing home dog option here. Key word is “might” but the point is I would keep an eye on this one.


    Sept. 1 – Oklahoma opened up at a -17 and then reached the 3-TD mark quickly at -21 the same morning as home favorite over Florida Atlantic. Offshores also have this one at -21 right now but some shops opened it up offshore as high as a -24. In other words, we’re currently right between the 17 and 24 meaning this one could be another match-up where both sides of the variance have already been exploited and the middle ground proves to be “spot on”. The Owls covered often last season and I like to fade teams off a huge ATS season as a general rule but how will the Sooners do without Baker Mayfield? This one might be one just to sit back and watch – an important thing to do early in the season.


    Sept. 1 – Notre Dame opened up as a 7-point favorite and got driven down to 1 as a home favorite versus Michigan. This was certainly one of the more intriguing early line moves and the intrigue is continuing to build as the Wolverines are now a 2-point choice offshore. I know the Fighting Irish only won 4 games in 2016 but last season (10 wins) was certainly more than just “a step” in the right direction. Also, Michigan dropped off to 8 wins in Jim Harbaugh’s third season at the helm. That third season is usually a strong one for college coaches so that is truly concerning. I am not finalizing my decision just yet but this match-up and line movement is one to watch closely as the season approaches.


    Sept. 1 – Alabama, the notorious powerhouse, opened up as a 20-point favorite and then rose to a 25-point choice in this match-up with Louisville taking place in Orlando, Florida. What is particularly interesting here is that the offshores did have the Crimson Tide as high as 28.5 points during the day as the betting markets took a liking to Alabama in this spot. Of course, the Tide are often easy to like because they dominate annually but this is an awful big spread! Have the Cardinals really fallen that far? This line has stayed “settled” around 25.5 points and will be one to watch as game day approaches.


    Sept. 1 – Nebraska opened up as an 18-point favorite (some offshores had them as low as a 17-point open) as a host to Akron and the line quickly jumped up to a -23. This is another one of those that likely has been exploited early on both sides of the variance as it now settled in at the 20.5 to 21-point range. This “middle ground” is likely where it should be.


    Sept. 3 – Florida State opened up as a pick’em in this match-up but then quickly rose to a -4 in their home match-up with Virginia Tech for week one. Offshores had the Seminoles as high as -6.5 in this one before it settled back into the 5.5 range. The markets seem to think Willie Taggart will immediately enjoy success as he replaces Jimbo Fisher down at FSU but the Hokies are entering their third season under coach Justin Fuente. Virginia Tech went 9-4 under Fuente last season and, as noted above, a 3rd season is oftentimes a top season for coaches in their tenure with a program. It is at this point that a head coach has often been able to “build the program” and “mold it” for a top performance. While it is true that the Seminoles underachieved (big time) last season, are they really ready to just come out and blow away a respectable program in Week 1? This is another one I will be watching closely in terms of movement and value.
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  20. #20  
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    Backing the Gamecocks
    June 6, 2018



    South Carolina has been issued a season win total of seven flat (-110 either way) by most books that have released those numbers already. The obvious play here is the 'over' and I'll be glad to explain why.


    Loyal readers remember how hard I was pushing the 2017 South Carolina team last summer. I was extraordinarily bullish on Will Muschamp’s second team in Columbia to soar ‘over’ 5.5 wins as my favorite win total of the season.


    From my Games Galore podcast, to radio spots in Omaha (Sharp & Benning on 1620 The Zone), Clemson (Qualk & Kelly on 105.5 The Roar), Memphis (Chris Vernon Show) and beyond, I was screaming from the rafters to anyone who would listen that this wager was going to be easy pickings.


    As it turned out, the Gamecocks improved to 6-2 with a home win over Vanderbilt in late October. Although we couldn’t collect until their final regular season game concluded, we had a winning ticket in our pockets before the calendar even hit November.


    South Carolina went 8-4 in the regular season and after rallying from a 19-3 second-half deficit to beat Michigan at the Outback Bowl, it finished with nine wins and loads of optimism going into the offseason.


    Remember, star WR and special-teams playmaker Deebo Samuel broke his leg to end his season in the third quarter of a Week 3 home loss to Kentucky. Samuel had scored five touchdowns in wins over North Carolina State and Missouri to start the season. Then on the first play from scrimmage vs. UK, he took a quick slant and turned it into a long TD reception. In other words, Samuel was playing like a first-team All-American (at WR AND in the return game!) and USC only had his services for 2.5 of its 13 games.


    Also, starting senior LB Bryson Allen-Williams suffered a season-ending injury in Week 3 vs. UK. He had 10 tackles, two sacks, one tackle for loss, one QB hurry, one pass broken up and one interception in three games. Allen-Williams was granted a redshirt and Samuel bypassed turning pro early to return for his senior campaign.


    Muschamp, who is 15-11 in his first two seasons at USC after taking over following a dismal 3-9 year, brings back eight starters on offense and six on defense. Jake Bentley, the rising junior quarterback, has posted a 13-7 record in 20 career starts. He became the starter as a true freshman (when he still should’ve been a senior in high school) after the Gamecocks started 2016 by going 2-4 ahead of their open date.

    Bentley guided that 2-4 squad to a 4-2 finish down the stretch of the regular season to get bowl eligible. USC lost an overtime thriller to South Florida in the postseason, but Bentley helped his team score 39 points against the Bulls.


    Bentley threw for 2,794 yards last year despite Samuel’s prolonged absence. He loses first-round selection Hayden Hurst, the star tight end, but fellow true junior WR Bryan Edwards is off a breakout year. Edwards had 64 receptions for 793 yards and five TDs in 2017.


    As a true freshman, WR Shi Smith had 29 catches for 409 yards and three TDs with ZERO drops. Another rising sophomore WR, OrTre Smith, hauled in 30 receptions for 326 yards and three TDs last season.


    South Carolina has three veteran RBs with plenty of experience, including Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams. This trio of juniors combined to catch 41 balls for 279 receiving yards and two TDs. Turner helped the Gamecocks go 4-0 in the games in which he was given 11 carries or more, rushing for 121 yards on 15 totes vs. Vandy and 136 yards on 22 carries against the Gators.


    Turner ran for a team-best 531 yards and three TDs while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Dowdle, who missed five games with a leg injury in ’17, rushed for 764 yards and six TDs with a 5.7 YPC average as a true freshman in ’16. Williams, a transfer from North Carolina, ran for 471 yards with a 5.0 YPC average in his first season with USC.


    South Carolina returns three starters on the offensive line, including OG Zach Bailey, a preseason second-team All-SEC selection in Athlon’s magazine.


    Before discussing the defensive personnel, let’s reiterate what a genius Muschamp has consistently proven to be during nearly two decades of directing SEC stop units. South Carolina finished fifth in the SEC in scoring defense last year, giving up only 20.7 points per game. The Gamecocks were +11 in turnover margin.


    The 2018 secondary will be bolstered by a pair of grad transfers, Rice safety J.T. Ibe and Texas A&M cornerback Nick Harvey. Ibe had 121 tackles, five TFL’s, eight PBU and two forced fumbles in three seasons with the Owls. Harvey missed 2017 injured but had 66 tackles, 10 PBU, one interception and 1.5 TFL’s for the Aggies in ’16.


    The defense will be led by a pair of juniors in LB T.J. Brunson and DE D.J. Wonnum. Brunson, an Athlon’s preseason second-team All-SEC pick, produced 88 tackles, two sacks, 2.5 TFL’s, two QB hurries and a 73-yard fumble return for a TD last season. Wonnum, a preseason third-team All-SEC selection, recorded 57 tackles, seven TFL’s, six sacks, five PBU, one blocked kick and a pair of QB hurries in ’17.


    Muschamp inked eight four-star signees in his latest recruiting haul. Although it won’t impact this year’s USC squad, we’ll nonetheless note that he also garnered a verbal commitment from five-star DE Zacch Pickens in late May. Pickens is ranked the No. 1 player prep player in South Carolina for the 2019 class and is the nation’s No. 14 overall player per 247 Sports’ Composite rankings. The Gamecocks’ 2019 class is currently ranked fourth in the country by both Rivals.com and 247. They’re ranked No. 2 at Scout.com and eighth at ESPN.


    The most likely immediate contributors from the ’18 class as true freshmen include DB Jaycee Horn (the son of former New Orleans Saints legendary WR Joe Horn), WR Josh Vann, OT Dylan Wonnum and DT Rick Sandidge.


    Now let’s break down the schedule. Remember, season win totals are based on the 12 regular-season games, as conference championship games and bowls do not count toward this bet. If a game is cancelled due to weather or other reasons, the wager becomes a push or no-action.


    When I scan USC’s slate, I only see one game that’s almost certainly a loss – that being at Clemson in the regular-season finale. In the recent Games of the Year released at the South Point in Las Vegas, the Gamecocks were 20-point underdogs for their trip to Death Valley.


    South Point also has USC as a 14-point home underdog to Georgia in Week 2. However, when I was interviewed for a story on SECCountry.com a few weeks ago, I said that my line was UGA -4.5. I added that I felt the number would probably open at around seven so when it was -11 initially at South Point, I was wishing I was in line to make a bet at that moment.


    But instead of dipping down into single digits, the line went up to 14. For more than a week now, I’ve been saying USC +14 vs. UGA is my favorite Game of the Year out there. In fact, I’m calling for the outright upset.


    For the sake of this conversation, however, we’ll call the crucial SEC East showdown a loss for South Carolina. We’ll call for victories in September home games vs. Coastal Carolina and Marshall. This will have the Gamecocks with a 2-1 record going into back-to-back SEC games at Vanderbilt and at Kentucky.


    Muschamp owns a 5-1 career record against the Commodores, taking the only loss when he was at Florida facing Vandy with a banged-up third-string QB (Tyler Murphy) and nearly a dozen starters out with injuries. The game in Lexington is a revenge spot after UK went into Williams-Brice Stadium and won by a 23-13 count last year.


    I think USC sweeps these two games to improve to 4-1, but I can understand if others want to call for a split with these two road assignments. Next, Muschamp’s bunch plays three straight home games and gets two weeks to prep for Tennessee. (More on UT later this summer but let’s be clear right away here: The Vols are going to be HORRIBLE in ’18!!!)


    The first two home games of this stretch are vs. Missouri and vs. Texas A&M. I believe USC will be favored by 3-7 points in these spots. Certainly, Missouri’s Drew Lock has an offense that can put up points galore on any defense, but let’s not forget that USC thumped the Tigers by a 31-13 count as a short road underdog last year.


    In its ‘17 trip to College Station, South Carolina allowed a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter to get away in a 24-17 setback. If for the sake of this convo we’re going to call at Vandy and at UK a split, then we’re going to call this a 3-0 sweep at home. Therefore, we’re 6-2 heading into November.


    Three of the final four games are on the road: at Ole Miss, at Florida, vs. Chattanooga and at Clemson. With the aforementioned ‘L’ against the Tigers, we’re at 6-3 needing one win for a push and two for a winner out of the three other November contests. Let’s call it 7-3 with a win over Chattanooga to give us a push.


    Ole Miss still has a lot of top-tier talent on offense, especially WR A.J. Brown and OT Greg Little, both of whom are in Mel Kiper’s Top 6 of his first Big Board for the 2019 NFL Draft. With that said, the Rebels are going to be abysmal on the defensive side of the ball. As for UF, it all depends on the QB and the only signal caller on the roster who has ever taken a collegiate snap is Feleipe Franks, who I’ve been on the record (for a long time now) touting as a great talent but one that’s never going to develop into an adequate SEC QB due to his lack of instincts, awareness and decision-making.


    I think USC wins at Ole Miss, although it’s far from a layup. The game at UF will depend on what sort of QB play the Gators are getting, which, if the last eight seasons are even the slightest bit of an indicator, won’t be great. Even if we call these two road games a split, we have South Carolina at 8-4 and we’re cashing in on the Gamecocks’ win total for a second straight year.


    But to be clear, I think USC is poised to go 9-3. If the Gamecocks can pull the Week 2 stunner over Muschamp’s alma mater that I believe is a strong possibility, then 10-2 and an SEC East title might happen. Whatever the case, my minority call that Muschamp was an outstanding hire for South Carolina has proven true and he has the program rapidly rising.


    Don’t waste your time on this one. Get your ass to the counter and make this bet pronto!
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  21. #21  
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    Very nice write up. I agree that Alabama should easily cover the Over 10.5 win total. Let's face it. They have a very soft schedule. Their cross over games are Mizzou and at Tennessee. Their non-con games are all cream puffs. I do not see any problems here.

    LSU is a different story. They have little in the way of an explosive offense, and will once again have to depend on their defense, which loses 6 starters from last season. LSU is looking at probable losses to Alabama, Georgia and @Auburn. Miami looks more like a loss than a win. That means that LSU must win all of the remaining games, including games at Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M, and a home game against Miss. State. That is not going to happen. This is an Under play for me.
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    2018 AAC Preview
    June 11, 2018



    2018 AMERICAN ATHLETIC PREVIEW


    Coaches Call



    Entering its fifth year of existence, the American Athletic Conference remains the top Group of 5 League heading into the 2018 football season.


    While the loop has struggled in bowl games, going 10-17 SU and 11-16 ATS, it has become a breeding ground for up-and-coming head coaches including the likes of Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Temple’s Geoff Collins, Tulane’s Willie Fritz and Tulsa’s Phillip Montgomery.


    Meanwhile, the 24 wins by Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo over Power Five or BCS Conference foes is the most of all Group of Five schools.


    Two head coaches make their AAC debut in 2018, including SMU’s Sonny Dykes and UCF’s Josh Heupel – who makes his debut as a head coach at the FBS level.


    Expect one or two of the aforementioned coaches to move on to a Power Five team in the near future.


    Talking Points


    -- Danger ahead: since the AAC formation in 2014 the conference has struggled mightily in non-conference games following a SUATS loss, going just 9-29-1 ATS. And if they are visitors in these games they fall off the face of the earth, going 1-12 SUATS. Gulp.


    -- Since the formation of the conference in 2014, the best role for AAC teams has been on the road when coming off a win and facing a foe coming off a loss. It’s where teams in the conference stand 40-23 SU and 41-21-1 ATS overall, including 32-11-1 ATS if they scored 35 or more points in their last game.


    -- Average attendance at American Athletic Conference home stadiums was 28,669, clearly No. 1 for Group of Five conferences. The problem, however, is it represented a decline of -2,942 fans per game over the 2016 season, the largest fall-off of all FBS conferences.


    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.


    CINCINNATI (Offense - *5/2 , Defense - 7/3, 43 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: COOL HAND LUKE



    When Luke Fickell came to Cincinnati from Ohio State, he was brought on board to stop the bleeding. Former UC head coach Tommy Tuberville was dismissed not only after a public outburst against a fan but also after the Bearcats had slid gradually from back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2011-12 to just four wins in 2016. Tasked with rebuilding the program, Fickell immediately went to work compiling the best 2-year recruiting class in the Group of 5. The offense he inherited last season was thinned by graduation but QB Hayden Moore returns for his senior season, along with top RB Gerrid Doaks and WR Kahil Lewis. If Fickell’s defensive DNA rubs off (a former DC with the Buckeyes), the free fall should come to a cool halt this season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Fickell is 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS as a single-digit favorite as a head coach with Ohio State and Cincinnati.


    PLAY ON: at SMU (10/27)





    CONNECTICUT (Offense - 7/4, Defense - 2/1, 39 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: OLD DOGS AND MORE YOUTH



    When head coach Randy Edsall left the Huskies program after the 2010 season, he served five years as Maryland’s head coach and one season in the Detroit Lions’ front office. He then returned to Storrs to revive a suffocating program that went 24-49 after he left. The good news is a stagnant offense improved 9 points and nearly 100 YPG last year. The bad news is a treacherous defense declined 10 points and over 100 YPG. Worse, they were pushed around the field while managing to outgain only one foe, Cincinnati, in the final game of the campaign. New OC John Dunn, a Chicago Bears assistant and former OC with Edsall at Maryland, steps in. That didn’t work out well then, and we doubt it will again.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Huskies have been outyarded in 14 of their last 15 games.


    PLAY ON: vs. Cincinnati (9/29)





    EAST CAROLINA (Offense - 5/3, Defense - 7/3, 41 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: BLACKWELL THE MAGICIAN



    From Bill Connelly of SB Nation: When you fire a good coach in the hopes of getting a great one, you end up burning your house to the ground. And it’s never good when you were the worst team in the land in Scoring Defense and Tackles for a Loss. With last year’s disaster, ECU has gone 6-18 since Montgomery took over and hasn’t had two years this bad since going 3-20 under John Thompson in 2003-04. The good news is all of the freshmen and sophomores who got lit up last year are now sophomores and juniors. And Montgomery brought in highly regarded defensive coordinator David Blackwell. In his last three years, Blackwell’s teams never allowed more than 20 points per game (15 PPG last year).


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Pirates are 2-20 SU and 0-22 ATS versus conference foes with a winning record since 2010.


    PLAY ON: vs. Houston (10/13)





    HOUSTON (Offense - *6/4, Defense - 6/2, 43 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: CHARACTER RISK



    One of four teams that did not start a senior last season, the Cougars return a total of 58 juniors and seniors. However, the controversial hire of Kendall Briles, son of disgraced head coach Art Briles and former OC at Baylor and Florida Atlantic (last year) is questionable, at best. It was Briles who asked a potential recruit, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.” Nonetheless, sophomore head coach Major Applewhite needs to address a defense that regressed 102 YPG behind 1st-year DC Mark Donofrio last season. Future NFL DT Ed Oliver, the best defensive player in the conference, needs to stand and deliver. If so, Applewhite figures to benefit.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Applewhite is 29-10 SU as a head coach and an assistant with the Houston Cougars.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. USF (10/27)





    MEMPHIS (Offense - 7/4, Defense - 8/2, 34 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: BURNERS ON



    Memphis underclassmen started 41.6% of the team’s starts last season, meaning HC Mike Norvell brings back a highly experienced pack of Tigers. That’s good news considering major losses on the offense (QB Riley Ferguson, 4-year starting OL Gabe Kuhn, home run hitting WR Anthony Miller, and not to mention OC Darrell Dickey). Miller had 17 games of 100-plus receiving yards. Together they were a major reason that only 18% of the Tigers’ snaps came on third down last season (5th best in the nation). The good news is 4 starters (with 75 career starts) return on the OL. With Norvell averaging 9 wins and 42 PPG per season with Memphis, look for the aforementioned youngsters to carry the torch.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Memphis is 33-9 SU in it last 42 regular season games.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Houston (11/23)





    NAVY (Offense - *4 /2, Defense - 5/2, 43 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE



    How satisfying was Navy’s 7-win season last year? Mighty, when you consider the Middies played five teams that ended the season with 10 or more wins. In addition, they faced six of the top-20 rushing offenses in 2017 and held all of them, except Air Force, below their average. Plus, they also faced three of the top-16 passing offenses and held each of them under their average. The offensive surge was supplied by quarterbacks 1-and-1-A, namely Zach Abey and Malcom Perry, who were on the field as a tandem throughout the season. Abey rushed for 1,413 yards in 2017. In addition, RB/QB Malcom Perry rushed for 1,182 yards (646 as a QB). They’ll need to overcome the loss of 21 seniors from the two-deep depth charts, though.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Navy is 70-5 SU under Niumatalolo when entering the 4th quarter with the lead.


    PLAY ON: vs. Army (12/8)





    SMU (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 8/2, 45 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: WILD HORSES



    After improving each and every year from the 1-win squad he inherited in 2015 to a 7-win bowler last season, Chad Morris has moved on to Arkansas. Instead, former Louisiana Tech and Cal head coach Sonny Dykes takes over. The son of Spike Dykes, the second winningest coach in Texas Tech history, Sonny was weaned under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and as a result has ‘air raid’ in his DNA. His first move was to bring in OC Rhett Lashlee, former Auburn offensive coordinator under Gus Malzahn. With seasoned spread QB Ben Hicks, they inherit a signal caller with 6,499 passing yards and 52 TDs under his belt. Three RBs that rushed for over 2,100 yards last season are also back. This offense could be outrageous.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Freshmen have started a total of 101 games for the Mustangs the last two seasons.


    PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Houston (11/3)





    TEMPLE (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 6/2, 41 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: YES, HE WAS A #GREAT HIRE



    It took a while but the Owls proved the hire of HC Geoff Collins to replace Matt Rhule was genius. After being out-gained in each of their first five games last season, Temple went on to out-gain each of its remaining eight foes as they lost the stats -134 YPG in their first five games in September, but won them by an average of 83 YPG the rest of the season. That’s a whopping 217 net YPG differential. And Collins had inherited a team that lost 50% of its starts to graduated seniors, to boot. He immediately implored the kids to his “#The STANDARD”, as they quickly learned that the standard expected from every player has been raised even higher last year. We can’t wait to see what’s in store this season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Collins is the only coach to be a Broyles award nominee – for the nation’s best assistant coach – at three schools.


    PLAY ON: at Connecticut (11/24) - *KEY





    TULANE (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 6/2, 52 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: THE CLIMB



    The Green Wave’s slow but steady climb back to respectability (read: bowl game) under Willie Fritz fell frustratingly close last season when a bitter 41-38 season-ending loss at SMU denied Tulane what would have been its second bowl bid in 15 years. Nonetheless, Fritz welcomes back a bevy (36) of suddenly proficient sophomores and juniors – not to mention an awesome recruiting class led by no less than 18 three-and-four-star recruits. “We’ve gotten better every year we’ve been here,” confirmed Fritz. A deeply experienced offense features a rushing unit that ranked No. 20 in the nation last year, one that has rushed for 100-plus yards in 27 straight games. It’s time for the Wave to break on through to the other side.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Willie Fritz is 16-1 SU and 13-2 ATS versus .333 or less opponents.


    PLAY ON: vs. SMU (10/20) - *KEY





    TULSA (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 7/2, 47 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: 10 UP AND 10 DOWN



    We were as wrong as the day is long on our call about the Hurricane last season. Following a 10-win effort in 2016, Tulsa appeared ready to take the next big step with an offense that improved every season under Phil Montgomery. So what happened in its 10-loss season last year? Well for openers, it’s NEVER a good thing when both your offense and defense each slip over 100 YPG. Ravaged by injuries and a lack of experience, 14 starters played their first career game last season (9 freshmen). As a result, 5 bitter one-possession losses occurred. Unfortunately, the big bag of wind will face bowlers in all six of their away games in 2018. Nonetheless, a rebound appears in order.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Tulsa is 30-8 SU and 29-9 ATS in conference games in which it scores 30 or more points.


    PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. Connecticut (11/3)





    UCF (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 6/1, 40 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: UC FAST



    Speed kills. And with former coach Scott Frost headed back to Nebraska, new head coach Josh Heupel realizes that in order to fill some mighty big shoes he will need to rely on an asset that he has an abundance of – speed. The top six blazing-fast rushers from last season lead the way. “We go five deep with RBs that can all take it to the house at anytime. These guys are going to be something special,” boasts QB McKenzie Milton. New coaches mean new schemes, but you wouldn’t know it as this power scheme fits the Knights like a glove. Coming off an historic record-setting season last year, the Knights know all eyes will be trained upon them in 2018.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: UCF was the No. 2 team in the nation in red zone defense in 2017.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Memphis (10/13)





    USF (Offense - 6/3, Defense - 5/1, 47 Lettermen)


    TEAM THEME: NOT SO STRONG


    To say that Charlie Strong’s squad was hit hard by significant losses is an understatement. Gone is 3-year starting QB Quinton Flowers, owner of 42 school records, along with the top three rushers from 2017. Ouch. On the other side of the ball, the Bulls say goodbye to LB Auggie Sanchez, who made 50 straight starts and led USF in tackles each of the last three seasons. In addition, three of four starters on the DL are also gone, along with a pair of all-conference DBs. At least, for the first time since the 2011 season, the entire primary coaching staff returns. Nonetheless, we’re Strong believers and while this team will be down a notch or two, expect them to be bowling by season’s end.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: USF is riding a school-record 20 straight appearances in the Top 25.


    PLAY ON: vs. UCF (11/23)
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    Ex-Clemson QB transferring to NW
    June 11, 2018



    Former Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is transferring to Northwestern, Northwestern officials announced on Monday.


    Johnson was ranked as the nation's No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the 2017 recruiting class by 247sports.


    Johnson announced his decision to leave Clemson last month after competing for the starting job with returning starter Kelly Bryant and incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence, who was rated the nation's top overall recruit in the class of 2018 by 247sports.


    Bryant was listed as the Tigers' No. 1 quarterback in the post-spring depth chart, with Lawrence as his backup.


    "I'm thrilled to be part of the Wildcat family," Johnson said in a statement. "The program that Coach (Pat) Fitzgerald and his staff have built at Northwestern is phenomenal, and one my family has had the opportunity to get to know and trust."


    Johnson will sit out the 2018 season, then have three years of eligibility remaining.


    He completed 18 of 22 passes in seven games as a true freshman at Clemson last season.


    Northwestern expects to have quarterback Clayton Thorson, a three-year starter, back after he suffered a torn ACL in last season's Music City Bowl.


    Johnson will compete for the starting job in 2019.


    Johnson also visited Duke and considered Purdue before picking Northwestern.


    "We are ecstatic to add a player of Hunter's caliber and character to our program," Fitzgerald said in a statement.
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  24. #24  
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    2018 Quarterback Rankings
    June 22, 2018



    My quarterback rankings are based upon who I believe will perform at the highest level during the 2018 college football season. I do not consider how a QB projects to the NFL Draft or how/if he’ll play on Sundays in the future.


    1-Will Grier (West Virginia): As a redshirt freshman, Grier had led Florida out to a 6-0 record before getting slapped with a one-year suspension by the NCAA for testing positive for a banned substance. Grier never wore orange and blue again after Jim McElwain essentially ran him out of town. After missing the final six regular-season games of 2015 and the entire ’16 campaign, Grier finally returned to the field at West Virginia last season. He didn’t disappoint. Grier garnered third-team All Big 12 honors behind Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,490 yards with a 34/12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He suffered a season-ending finger injury in the first half of a home loss to Texas in WVU’s 11th game. Grier also ran for a pair of TDs. For his career, he’s 12-3 in 15 career starts that he completed (excluding the ‘L’ vs. Texas) with a 44/15 TD-INT ratio. He has two of the nation’s top wideouts in Gary Jennings and David Sills returning.


    2-Khalil Tate (Arizona): Former head coach Rich Rodriguez didn’t turn to Tate until a Week 6 game in Boulder. Better late than never, right? Tate promptly erupted for 327 rushing yards and four TDs on just 14 carries. He also completed 12-of-13 throws for 154 yards and one TD without an interception to lead UA to a 45-42 win at Colorado. In the next three games, all wins for the Wildcats, Tate had five TD passes compared to two interceptions and rushed for four TDs. A week after gashing the Buffaloes for 327 yards on the ground, he ran for 230 and a pair of scores on 15 attempts vs. UCLA. Tate had six games in a row with the following outputs of rushing yards: 327, 230, 137, 146, 161 and 206. For the season, he ran for 1,411 yards and 12 TDs with a 9.2 yards-per-carry average. Tate connected on 62.0 percent of his passes for 1,591 yards with a 14/9 TD-INT ratio. He threw for 302 yards and five TDs in a 38-35 loss to Purdue at the Foster Farms Bowl. Seven of Arizona’s top eight pass catchers are back in 2018, in addition to the Wildcats’ second-leading rusher in RB J.J. Taylor, who rushed for 847 yards and five TDs with a 5.8 YPC average last year.


    3-Trace McSorley (Penn State): McSorley won’t have running back Saquon Barkley around anymore, but there are two five-star recruits to replace him in junior Miles Sanders and true freshman Ricky Slade. McSorley, a two-time second-team All Big 10 selection, is currently second in PSU history in passing yards and should surpass Christian Hackenberg’s numbers before the end of September. He has a 59/18 career TD-INT ratio along with 18 rushing TDs.

    4-Drew Lock (Missouri):
    Lock, who is probably the best NFL prospect among these signal callers, is third in career passing yards at Missouri and will pass Brad Smith into second place in the first half of his team’s opener vs. UT-Martin. If he can duplicate his 3,964 passing yards from his junior campaign, Lock will surpass Chase Daniel and sit atop the school’s record books. The Tigers return nine starters from an offense that averaged 37.5 points per game in 2017. Lock had a 44/13 TD-INT ratio and directed an offense that scored 45 points or more in Missouri’s last six regular-season games. Yes, you can make an argument that his stats were padded against weak defenses (18/3 TD-INT ratio in games vs. SW Missouri State, vs. Idaho and at UConn), but he also had four TD passes at Georgia, which gave up more than 19 points to only two regular-season opponents.


    5-Tua Tagoviailoa/Jalen Hurts combination (Alabama): Tua is a true sophomore that sparked a second-half comeback from a double-digit deficit against Georgia in the finals of the College Football Playoff. After making a colossal mistake by taking a sack for a huge loss on first down of Alabama’s possession in overtime (trailing by a field goal), the Hawaiian responded on the next play by throwing a bomb right on the money for the game-winning score. Tua finished the year with an 11/2 TD-INT ratio and two rushing scores. Hurts, who got most of the reps during the spring after Tua injured his hand, owns a 26-2 record in 28 career starts. He had a 17/1 TD-INT ratio last year with eight rushing TDs. Hurts, a second-team All-SEC pick in ‘17, has run for more than 1,800 yards and 21 TDs in two seasons. Nick Saban has a QB controversy on his hands. In this instance, that’s “one of those good problems.”


    6-Jake Browning (Washington): Browning goes into his senior year with 39 career starts, producing a 24-6 record in his past 30 outings. He earned fourth-team All-American honors as a sophomore in ’16 by throwing for 3,430 yards and leading the Huskies to the CFP semifinals. Browning had a 43/9 TD-INT ratio during that 12-2 campaign. His numbers sagged a bit last year, although he connected on 68.5 percent of his passes for 2,719 yards with a 19/5 TD-INT ratio. With workhorse RB Myles Gaskin (21 rushing TDs LY) back in the mix along with an offensive line ranked 13th in the nation in Phil Steele’s preseason magazine, Browning is poised for a monster senior campaign.


    7-Jarrett Stidham (Auburn): Steele’s mag ranks Stidham as the third-best NFL QB prospect. After a slow start in September (a game at Clemson in Week 2 can contribute to such an occurrence), Stidham really settled in and played outstanding football. He finished the year with an 18/6 TD-INT ratio, 3,158 passing yards and a 66.4 completing percentage. Before subtracting sack yardage, Stidham showed he can move by rushing for 383 yards and four scores. Stidham has his top-five pass catchers back, but the o-line could be a bit of a concern (ranked 53rd nationally in Steele’s Unit Rankings).


    8-Justin Herbert (Oregon): Steele has Herbert as ‘The Uno’ in terms of draft-available QBs following this season. The Ducks went 6-2 in Herbert’s eight starts last year, 1-4 in the five games when he was sidelined with an injury. As a true freshman in 2016, Herbert started the Ducks last seven games and threw for 1,936 yards with a 19/4 TD-INT ratio. He also ran for 161 yards and two TDs. Then last year, Herbert was off to a blazing start (9/2 TD-INT ratio with three rushing TDs) before breaking his collarbone in the first half of a home win over California. He returned for Oregon’s last three games, throwing six TDs compared to three interceptions. Herbert threw for at least 233 yards in the seven games when he took most of the snaps. He also rushed for five TDs with a 4.2 YPC average.

    9-Ryan Finley (North Carolina State):
    Finley led his team to its highest win total (nine) since 2010 by connecting on 65.1 percent of his attempts for 3,518 yards with a 17/6 TD-INT ratio. Since arriving in Raleigh as a transfer from Boise State, Finley has started 26 consecutive games and posted a 35/14 TD-INT ratio. The WR combination of Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers, which combined to grab 132 receptions for 1,744 yards and nine TDs in ’17, is back for another run with Finley and the Wolfpack.


    10-McKenzie Milton (Central Florida): Milton led UCF to an unbeaten season by completing 67.1 percent of his passes for 4,037 yards with a 37/9 TD-INT ratio. With 613 rushing yards, eight TDs and a 5.8 YPC average as well, he deservedly garnered fourth-team All-American honors. The rising true junior already has 23 career starts to his credit.


    Just Missed: Jake Fromm (Georgia), Nate Stanley (Iowa), Justice Hansen (Arkansas State) and Shea Patterson (Michigan).


    Underrated: Jake Bentley (South Carolina), K.J. Costello (Stanford), Jordan Ta’amu (Ole Miss), Andrew Ford (UMass), Eric Dungey (Syracuse) and Kyle Shurmur (Vanderbilt).


    Honorable Mention: Brian Lewerke (Michigan State), Brett Rypien (Boise State), Kelly Bryant (Clemson), Daniel Jones (Duke), Nathan Rourke (Ohio), Gus Ragland (Miami OH.) and Brent Stockstill (Middle Tennessee).


    **Other Notable Signal Callers**


    -- Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald might have made my Top 10, but he’s still recovering from a gruesome leg/knee injury sustained in the Egg Bowl. His wheels, not his right arm, are his biggest asset so until I see him back at full strength (that is the expectation in Starkville by August), I couldn’t put him in my Top 10.


    -- Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson wouldn’t have been in my Top 10 regardless, but he’s certainly a Top-20 QB. Thorson is second in school history in passing yards, but he tore his ACL early in the first quarter of the Music City Bowl vs. Kentucky in late December. Whether or not he’ll be ready for the season opener (or play at all in September), remains a question mark at this point.


    -- FSU QB Deondre Francois had the look of a future star when he went 10-3 in 13 starts as a redshirt freshman in 2016. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second half of a Week 1 loss to Alabama in Atlanta. With his team struggling while he recovered from surgery, Francois alienated himself from teammates with social-media posts from locations outside of Doak Campbell Stadium during home games late in the season. He recently had other issues with the Tallahassee Police Department, so his standing with new coach Wille Target and his staff is a bit of a mystery. James Blackman had a 19/11 TD-INT ratio in 12 starts after being thrust into the action as a true freshman. We’ll see who wins this job.


    -- Virginia Tech’s Josh Jackson had an excellent redshirt freshman campaign, throwing for 2,991 yards with a 20/9 TD-INT ratio. He also ran for 498 yards (before subtracting sack yardage) and six TDs. There were reports out earlier this month that he could be facing a lengthy academic suspension. Since then, however, he’s been cleared of whatever academic matter was in doubt and is expected to be in uniform at FSU in the Monday Night opener.
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    I believe that South Carolina is a solid #3 in the SEC East. While they may cover against UGA, (I grabbed them at +14), I do not see them good enough to defeat the Dawgs. They go to Florida as the tail end of a two game road trip. Watch the line on this one. That game is the last SEC game for both schools. I give Florida the edge because I think Mullen is a better HC than Muschamp is.
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