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Thread: Cnotes preview of 2019 college football conference outlook

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  1. #26  
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    Dillon, Etienne among top runners in ACC
    July 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Boston College's AJ Dillon was so good last year that he ranked among the nation's best rushers despite hobbling through an injury that sidelined him during stretches of multiple games.


    Travis Etienne was right with him near the top of the rankings, providing the ground-game balance in Clemson's unbeaten run to another national championship.


    They're both back, top rushers in an Atlantic Coast Conference division featuring multiple running backs capable of slipping through the slimmest of openings, pushing through (or past) would-be tacklers on the way to the end zone. It adds up to some potentially big rushing totals this fall in the league's Atlantic Division, even in today's world of pass-friendly offenses.


    ''If you're just a one-trick pony, people will load up on that,'' Boston College coach Steve Addazio said Wednesday during the league's media days. ''But when you have the ability to have a dynamic run game, I believe it starts there.''


    Clearly that is part of Dabo Swinney's four-time reigning league champion Tigers' playbook, especially with Etienne back after running for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns - good for 15th in the Bowl Subdivision ranks at 110.5 yards per game. Same goes for Addazio's Eagles, who saw Dillon rank 13th (110.8) despite the injury that sidelined him for two full games and parts of others.


    Yet there's also Cade Carney, who as a junior became Wake Forest's first 1,000-yard rusher in 13 years last season while sharing work with the departed Matt Colburn II. There's Cam Akers at Florida State, a 1,000-yard rusher as a freshman hoping to bounce back from the Seminoles all-around rough 2018 season.


    ''These running backs are the real deal,'' Clemson safety Tanner Muse said.


    That particular quartet of experienced ball carriers have the potential to take the pressure off their quarterbacks and carry the load, particularly with Dillon's ability to tote it 25 or 30 times a game.


    The 6-foot, 250-pound junior has been a dominant runner since arriving with a 1,589-yard rushing season as a freshman. And after being picked as the preseason ACC player of the year, he ran for 652 yards through the first five games last year before going down with a high left ankle sprain that hindered him through the rest of the schedule.


    He ranked fifth in FBS at 130.4 yards per game at the time of the injury.


    ''I want to reach whatever potential I can, so I don't have a (goal) for however many yards or average yards per carry,'' Dillon said. ''Because the thing is, if my team needs me to run down the clock in the fourth quarter and I'm getting a bunch of 1-yard gains, I'm fine with that and I'm happy with that. I don't really care what it might look like at the very end on the stat line.''


    As for the 5-10, 215-pound Etienne, he had six games with at least 150 yards rushing - including a high of 203 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime win against Syracuse - and ran for nine touchdowns in the Tigers' last five games.


    ''You play BC and if you allow AJ Dillon to run, you have no chance of winning the game,'' Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. ''You play Clemson and Travis Etienne can go off, and you have no choice then of beating them. . If you have a legitimate running back and you don't slow them down, that's what you're going to get.''
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    The Latest: Alabama finds silver lining in title game loss
    July 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    HOOVER, Ala. (AP) The Latest on SEC media days (all times local):


    4:30 p.m.


    Will Muschamp believes this will be his best South Carolina team.


    If so, the Gamecocks might be able to reverse a trend of futility against ranked teams. Muschamp is 1-10 against Top 25 opponents with the Gamecocks over the past three seasons.


    Quarterback Jake Bentley, a 32-game starter, said Wednesday at SEC media days they have ''got to find a way to win those games.'' They'll get some chances with a schedule that includes defending Southeastern Conference champion Alabama and Texas A&M from the Western Division, along with division or in-state rivals like Georgia, Florida and national champion Clemson.


    Muschamp says he doesn't worry about having a tough schedule, saying part of being in the SEC is to ''have great opportunities every single Saturday.''


    The Gamecocks coach says reserve safety Jaylin Dickerson is out for the season with a labrum injury. Dickerson, who had 13 tackles last season, had surgery last week but Muschamp says the safety should be back in time for spring practice.


    ---


    3:45 p.m.


    Mississippi State is hoping a graduate transfer quarterback can give a jolt to its struggling offense.


    The Bulldogs added Tommy Stevens during the offseason. The 6-foot-5 senior was the backup at Penn State behind Trace McSorley before moving to Starkville.


    The coach and QB are familiar with each other: Joe Moorhead was the offensive coordinator at Penn State before taking the Mississippi State job and coached Stevens early in his career.


    Moorhead said on Wednesday at SEC media days that ''Tommy is a kid with a lot of physical tools. Strong arm. He can really run. He's accustomed to the system so he's going to understand it for the most part coming in.''


    Stevens will compete with Keytaon Thompson for the starting job. Thompson was Nick Fitzgerald's backup last season and threw for 458 yards, six touchdowns and an interception.


    Mississippi State finished with 8-5 record last season, including a 4-4 mark in the SEC. The Bulldogs scored just 16 total points in its four league losses.


    ---


    12:45 p.m.


    Arkansas coach Chad Morris feels like his program is in a good spot entering his second year at the school.


    He also says recruiting is a priority, even comparing recruiting to shaving at one point on Tuesday at SEC media days: ''If you don't do it every day, you look like a bum.''


    Arkansas has an unorthodox situation at quarterback this fall after recruiting two transfer quarterbacks: SMU's Ben Hicks and Texas A&M's Nick Starkel.


    Hicks played for Morris when he was the coach at SMU. Starkel was Kellen Mond's backup in College Station.


    Morris said the battle for the starting job will linger into preseason camp, though he hopes it will be decided quickly ''because I want our team to rally around that guy.''


    Arkansas finished with a 2-10 record last season, including a 0-8 mark in the conference.


    ---


    11:15 a.m.


    Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa believes Alabama learned ''many lessons'' from the end-of-season drubbing at the hands of Clemson.


    The Heisman Trophy runner-up says the team started to get satisfied and feel invincible after being scarcely challenged in the regular season. Then came the 44-16 loss in the national championship game that made that feeling look like a mirage in easily the most lopsided defeat of coach Nick Saban's tenure.


    Tagovailoa said Wednesday at Southeastern Conference media days that he knows it sounds bad, ''but I'm glad I had that opportunity to feel a loss like that, because what can you learn from winning? You can't learn as much. But when you lose, you start appreciating things a lot more. Many lessons have been learned from that loss.''


    Saban is counting on it with the Tide again among the national favorites. Even before the Clemson blowout, Alabama had to rally to beat Georgia in the SEC championship game.


    The coach says his team didn't play with the kind of discipline or preparation it needed at the end of the season. Saban says there seemed to be ''a lot of distractions,'' and like his quarterback, he's hoping the team learned its lessons.


    ---


    7:30 a.m.


    It's Alabama's turn at Southeastern Conference media days.


    Nick Saban takes the stage Wednesday with his team once again favored to repeat as SEC champion. But the Crimson Tide also wants to atone for how last season ended.


    Alabama took the most lopsided defeat of Saban's tenure after absorbing a 44-16 drubbing from Clemson in the national championship game.


    This team returns plenty of offensive firepower. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, and Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wide receiver.


    Both Tagovailoa and Jeudy will be on hand at media days, along with linebacker Dylan Moses.


    Alabama will be followed by Arkansas coach Chad Morris, Mississippi State's Joe Moorhead and South Carolina's Will Muschamp, along with a few of their top players.
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    Clemson, Atlantic lead off ACC media days
    July 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The biggest obstacle standing between Clemson and a fifth straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship may be an early season Sept. 14 matchup at Syracuse.


    Clemson has largely breezed through the ACC schedule over the last four seasons, going 34-2 in conference play while winning four straight conference titles and two national championships. The Tigers have defeated conference opponents by an average of 22 points during that four-year span, and few have been able to compete with them.


    That is, except the Orange.


    Coach Dino Babers' squad stunned No. 2 Clemson in 2017 27-24 at home. Last year the Orange gave Clemson another big scare at Death Valley before falling 27-23 after a touchdown run by Travis Etienne with 41 seconds left.


    This year the game moves back to Syracuse, where the Orange didn't lose in 2018.


    ''Dino has created the belief in his team that they can win,'' said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday at ACC media days. ''And I don't see them going away anytime soon.''


    Babers said beating Clemson two years proved to his players they're capable of beating anyone.


    ''You've seen the mountaintop, OK? You've seen what it looks like,'' Babers said. ''You know how difficult it is. I think that gives us a little bit of an edge that we know we can. That doesn't mean you will. I mean, the last time that those young men at Clemson lost, the year was 2017. It's 2019 now.''


    Syracuse quarterback Tommy DeVito said the Orange view Clemson as a ''faceless opponent.''


    ''We play them like anybody else,'' DeVito said. ''You can't just make them special because they are Clemson and they have that name. It's the same way you approach a lesser opponent.''


    Swinney knows the Tigers will be heavy favorites to repeat as ACC champions with Etienne, quarterback Trevor Lawrence and wide receiver Justyn Ross returning. He said by now having a so-called target on their chest is ''business as usual'' given Clemson has won at least 10 games in eight straight seasons, including a 15-0 campaign last year.


    Swinney said the key is Clemson never looks back on its past success.


    ''We don't carry anything over,'' Swinney said. ''... We redevelop leadership, reinstall our core values. We show up every year with something to improve.''


    Syracuse won 10 games last season for the first time since 2001.


    The Orange figure to be Clemson's toughest test in the Atlantic Division with North Carolina State, Boston College and Wake Forest all facing quarterback questions and Florida State and Louisville in rebuilding mode.


    While being in Clemson's division may not appear to be the ideal situation for everyone, Babers embraces the challenge.


    ''When you go outside the conference and you start playing other teams, I mean, what is there to be fearful of?'' Babers said. ''When you're in the ACC Atlantic, your big brother is as big as anybody on the street, OK? If you can handle him, you're going to have an opportunity to handle anybody else.''
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    It's Alabama's turn at SEC media days
    July 17, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    HOOVER, Ala. (AP) It's easier for Alabama to be humble now.


    The Crimson Tide can thank Clemson for that, at least. There's nothing like a 44-16 drubbing in the national championship game to strip away any feelings of invincibility and self-satisfaction that come from scarcely getting challenged during the regular season on the way to another Southeastern Conference title.


    ''I know it sounds bad, but I'm glad I had that opportunity to feel a loss like that, because what can you learn from winning?'' Tide quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa said Wednesday at Southeastern Conference media days. ''You can't learn as much. But when you lose, you start appreciating things a lot more. Many lessons have been learned from that loss.''


    It's a silver lining of sorts from a painful performance that rattled Nick Saban's dynasty and made it clear Clemson is a challenger for the label of college football's dominant program.


    The defense was abused by Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers and allowed 300-plus yards passing in each of its last three games. Tagovailoa - who spent most fourth quarters during the season as a spectator - was intercepted twice, including a pick-six on Alabama's opening series.


    It didn't get much better from that point.


    But the end result doesn't change the expectations for a team seeking its sixth national title under Saban and a fifth SEC title in six years.


    Led by Tagovailoa, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and linebacker Dylan Moses, Alabama approaches this season as one of the national favorites as usual.


    Plus, it's easier to soul-search and improve after such a loss than while celebrating yet another triumph.


    ''Whether or not people were worried about personal outcomes more than team outcomes, it's always hard to judge that,'' Saban said. ''But it seems like we had a lot of distractions at the end of the year. So hopefully we learned from those scenarios, and it will help us do the things that we need to do to be able to play to our full potential throughout this season.''


    This team has a second straight year of huge staff turnover with seven new coaches, including new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and newly elevated defensive coordinator Pete Golding.


    The Tide also lost seven underclassmen to the NFL, including first-round picks Quinnen Williams, Jonah Williams and Josh Jacobs.


    The nonconference schedule isn't particularly daunting, with games against Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and Western Carolina.


    The challenge will be maintaining focus until the end. Alabama might have coasted at times down the stretch after a 29-0 rout of LSU that secured a spot in the SEC championship game with three games left. It didn't really matter until the competition became elite, starting with Georgia, which jumped ahead by two touchdowns.


    ''I think it comes down to how we prepared the second half of the season as a team,'' Tagovailoa said. ''We were goal-oriented the second half of the season, meaning we played looking at the scoreboard. If the scoreboard was good to us, we kind of eased off and we let the second guys go in and we weren't playing the way we were supposed to be playing.


    ''We'd only play for two or three quarters, and then we'd let off the gas.''


    Alabama survived against Georgia and again in the national semifinals against Oklahoma . Then the engine sputtered from the get-go versus Clemson, which could match Alabama's wealth of talent on both sides of the ball.


    Moses said things like media attention, accolades and worrying about the NFL draft can be distractions.


    ''I do wish I could have it back,'' the linebacker said. ''I really wish I could have the whole month of December back in a sense, so we could look at Oklahoma and Clemson at the same time and try to prepare ourselves for it. Obviously, during the game we weren't prepared for it and Clemson got the best of us that day. Kudos to them. From that point on, we learned from our mistakes and we're trying to get better.''
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    A&M, Fisher embraces difficult schedule
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    HOOVER, Ala. (AP) Texas A&M's schedule looks pretty brutal this season. Coach Jimbo Fisher can't wait to get it started.


    If the Aggies are going to be among the best teams in the country this season, they'll have to beat some of the nation's preseason favorites. According to Fisher, he expects to be right there with them by the end of the season.


    ''We don't want to spoil anything. We want to take care of our own,'' Fisher said on Tuesday at SEC media days. ''They're all great teams, but we expect to play with them, compete with them and win those games. That's why we're here.''


    The Aggies play Clemson, Alabama and Georgia this year and all three of those programs will likely be among the preseason top five.


    Texas A&M finished with a 9-4 record last season, including a 5-3 mark in the SEC. The Aggies are expected to be competitive again thanks to an experienced offense that includes junior quarterback Kellen Mond, who threw for 3,107 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year.


    Mond says the team is reminded of the tough schedule every day during weightlifting and other workouts and that ''it's a really good opportunity for us.''


    TENNESSEE-BEEFY OFFENSE


    Jeremy Pruitt dryly stated the obvious when describing why he thought Tennessee's offensive line would improve this fall.


    ''It helps to have large men,'' said the second-year coach.


    A bigger offensive line - combined with new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney - is giving the Volunteers hope that the offense will be more productive. Pruitt said his team has 15 offensive linemen that weigh more than 300 pounds after having just two this time last year.


    Pruitt hired Chaney away from Georgia to run a unit that finished next to last in the league in points scored.


    ''He's done it in the SEC a bunch of different ways, whether it was the last few years at Georgia where they ran the ball a lot, or at Tennessee before where they had a lot of balance, or even when he was at Purdue when they threw the ball 50 or 60 times,'' Pruitt said. ''Jim's a guy that figures out who his best players are and he finds a way to get him the ball.


    GEORGIA-CHASING SABAN


    Georgia coach Kirby Smart is among several former Nick Saban assistants who haven't figured out how to beat their former boss.


    They're a combined 0-16 against the Alabama coach, though Georgia and Smart have come close to toppling the Tide in recent seasons. The Bulldogs lost hard-fought games in the national championship and Southeastern Conference title game over the past two years.


    Smart was asked Tuesday if he was confident that one of Saban's former underlings would finally top him. He responded saying, ''Am I confident someone's going to beat him? Depends on how long he coaches.''


    Smart could have a chance this year in the SEC championship game. Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher and South Carolina's Will Muschamp will get a crack at the Tide during the regular season.


    MISSISSIPPI-HELLO FRESHMAN


    Ole Miss is once again eligible for the postseason after finishing a two-year postseason ban as punishment for NCAA rules violations.


    If the Rebels reach the six-win mark to qualify, it'll probably be because some young players matured quickly.


    Ole Miss showed its commitment to the program's current youth movement by bringing freshman quarterback Matt Corral to media days.


    The conference showcase is usually reserved for players with ample experience, but Corral has thrown just 22 passes in his college career. The California native still has four years of eligibility because he played in just four games last season.


    The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Corral was productive in limited action last season. He completed 16 of 22 passes (72.7 percent) for 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and also ran for two touchdowns.


    Corral said the early leadership ''doesn't feel forced, I wanted it this way. It's part of the reason I came here - being a leader, doing what you're supposed to do and setting an example.''
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    Texas says 10-win season not enough
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Tom Herman knows that Texas is probably a bit ahead of schedule after 10 wins in his second season that included making the Big 12 championship game and a Sugar Bowl victory.


    That doesn't necessarily mean the Longhorns are back just yet.


    ''We weren't here to just have a really good season in Year 2,'' Herman said Tuesday. ''We were here to rebuild a program that's capable of sustaining success, and we feel like we're on the way there.''


    With junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, the Longhorns are picked to again finish second in the league behind four-time defending champion Oklahoma.


    The Longhorns won the Red River rivalry game at the State Fair of Texas last October. But the Sooners won the conference title game at the home stadium of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, where the two-day Big 12 media days wrapped up Tuesday and where the championship game will be played again in December.


    ''When you take over a program that hadn't won 10 or more games in a decade, and had gone through three straight losing seasons, there's some work to be done, in terms of being able to sustain a level of success that everybody associated with Texas football expects,'' Herman said. ''I was really proud of our players for their buy-in level last season, and the results on the field showed that. It's still a work in progress.''


    With four new coaches in the Big 12 this season, the biggest turnover in league history, only Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, TCU's Gary Patterson and Iowa State's Matt Campbell (going into his fourth season) have been in the league longer than Herman.


    After success outside the Power Five, two of the coaches featured on the final day are just getting started - Kansas State's Chris Klieman and West Virginia's Neal Brown.


    Brown, who took over the Mountaineers after Dana Holgorsen left for Houston, is coming off three consecutive 10-win seasons with bowl victories at Troy. He is returning to the Big 12, where he was Texas Tech's offensive coordinator from 2010-12.


    Klieman was part of seven FCS championships the past eight seasons, including four in his five years as head coach. He replaced the retired Bill Snyder, who won 215 games in his 27 seasons.


    ''What coach did at Kansas State was nothing short of remarkable and I'm going to feed off that,'' Klieman said. ''We have a great culture because of what coach did. I know I'm not going to fill his shoes. I'm just trying to continue in his legacy, but doing it our own way.''


    Herman said he looks at Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers have won two of the past three national championships. It was in Swinney's eighth season when the Tigers finally won a championship, in 2016, before beating Alabama again last season. The last national championship for Texas - the last for a Big 12 team - was the 2005 season, Mack Brown's eighth in Austin, though the Longhorns did get to another title game in 2009.


    ''I'm not saying we're setting the bar for seven years, but what I'm saying is we want win championships, and we want to win them now,'' Herman said. ''But we were brought here to rebuild a program and that takes time.''


    Ehlinger threw for 3,292 yards with 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions last season. He also ran for 16 scores.


    Criticism of Ehlinger from former Oklahoma and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield is one thing; it was different when NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw recently told a group at Louisiana Tech, his alma mater, that Ehlinger ''ain't that good.''


    Herman and Ehlinger both downplayed the Bradshaw comment, though Herman said his quarterback loves to play with a chip on his shoulder.


    ''I'm sure he'll use this to crank it up a notch,'' Herman said.


    Ehlinger was asked if it was something like out of a dream to be answering questions about Bradshaw.


    ''I don't know if this is a dream, to tell you the truth,'' he told a crowd of reporters. ''Regardless of what happens, to be in this situation at the University of Texas is what I dreamed of. It's a blessing within itself.''
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    'Horns down' on deck at Big 12 media
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) So when is flashing ''horns down'' considered a penalty and should it always draw a flag?


    Greg Burks, the Big 12 coordinator official, said it depends on when and where an opposing player flashes the hand signal that is the exact opposite of the Texas Longhorns' ''Hook `em horns'' gesture.


    Burks said Tuesday officials are likely to let it go if someone scores and then turns to their own fans and ''it's real quick.''


    An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty comes into play if the gesture if directed at the other crowd or bench - the Longhorns in this case - or it is directed toward another player.


    ''By rule, anything prolonged and designed to bring attention to the individual rather than the team is a foul,'' Burks said.


    His advice to those wanting to do ''horns down'': do it in the back of their own bench area.

    STAY HOME CYCLONE



    Matt Campbell has never put much thought into being an NFL coach, even though several pro teams expressed interest in the 39-year-old Iowa State coach in the past year.


    ''Well, my goal initially wasn't even to be a college head football coach,'' Campbell said Tuesday at Big 12 media days. ''My goal and dream was to be like my father who was a high school head football coach.''


    Campbell is going into his fourth season at Iowa State. The Cyclones, coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons, were picked third in the preseason Big 12 poll - behind only four-time defending champion Oklahoma and Texas, the two teams who played in the league championship game last season.


    ''My greatest passion is to develop and help 18-22 year-old men go from a young man to a chance to leave as a 22-year-old man,'' said Campbell, who was Toledo's head coach for five seasons before going to Iowa State.


    Iowa State is coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons and is the Big 12 preseason pick to finish behind Oklahoma and Texas. The Cyclones have quarterback Brock Purdy, who in 10 games as a true freshman last season threw for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns.


    The lofty outside expectations are a big change from when Campbell first got to Ames before the 2016 season.


    ''If we worried about what the expectations of our football program were outside of our walls, the first three years, I think we would have crumbled really fast,'' said Campbell, who drew interest from several NFL teams this past offseason. ''So what we've been able to do is handle our own expectations and making our own expectations way loftier than anything that could be said outside of our walls.''


    UPWARD BEARS


    Baylor went from a 1-11 record in coach Matt Rhule's first season to 7-6 with a bowl victory in Year 2.


    Now the question is can the Bears make a similar jump as Rhule's teams at Temple. The Owls went from 2-10 in his debut season to 6-6 in the second year, and followed that with consecutive 10-win seasons before he got the Baylor job.


    ''That's what I would like to do,'' Rhule said. ''That's the expectation for me, but it's way easier said than done.''


    Rhule said he judges his teams on how hard they are working. He said these Bears are ''the hardest, most industrious groups'' he has been around, and work like other Big 12 teams.

    KANSAS GROUND GAME



    New Kansas coach Les Miles says preseason All-Big 12 running back Pooka Williams has been reinstated to the team, seven months after he was arrested and charged with domestic battery in a case involving an 18-year-old woman.


    Williams later reached a domestic violence diversion agreement with the local district attorney's office.


    ''I did not make this decision, but I stand by it and see it as a right one,'' Miles said Monday at Big 12 football media days.


    Williams, who will be suspended for the season opener Aug. 31 against Indiana State, went through a legal investigation, and code of conduct proceedings with the university.


    ''He basically understood very much that if he did not meet the criteria that the board asked that this would not last long,'' Miles said. ''He's taken responsibility, he's been remorseful. He's learned from this experience, as has our team.''


    Williams ran for 1,125 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman last season.
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    Virginia looking for playmakers to help QB
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    Ending last season on a high note gave Virginia plenty of momentum heading into the offseason, and coach Bronco Mendenhall has said the positive energy continued during spring practice and summer workouts.


    But Virginia has some holes to fill around quarterback Bryce Perkins to build on its success.


    As the start of fall practice approaches, the Cavaliers need to identify the playmakers most likely to fill the voids left by the graduations of Olamide Zaccheaus and Jordan Ellis.


    Zaccheaus finished last season with 93 receptions for 1,058 yards and caught three touchdown passes in Virginia's 28-0 victory against South Carolina in the Belk Bowl. Ellis ran for 1,026 yards - including 106 and the Cavaliers' other touchdown in the bowl game.


    For the season, Ellis scored 10 touchdowns and Zaccheaus finished with nine.


    The return of Perkins gives the Cavaliers one constant on offense, but for him to match his production of a year ago (25 touchdown passes, 923 rushing yards and nine more TDs running), Virginia needs new threats lining up inside and out that prevent defenses from zeroing in on Perkins.


    Enter Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed, the top returning receivers from a year ago.


    ''I am really excited to see what Joe does. Hasise as well,'' wide receivers coach Marques Hagans said Monday. ''Joe will be healthy and I think that's something he played through last season, which is a testament to who he is, but ... he shows up every day. You know exactly what you're going to get. He works hard. He doesn't complain. I think those two guys will bring a lot to the table, especially leadership-wise. We're going to lean on those guys heavily.''


    Dubois caught 52 passes for 578 yards and five touchdowns last season, doing a lot of his work over the middle.


    Reed caught just 25 passes, but for 465 yards and seven touchdowns. He also scored on a kickoff return.


    At running back, Virginia will be inexperienced. Returnees combined for just 33 carries for 123 yards last year, and Mendenhall said sophomore Wayne Taulapapa was the top performer in the spring and would head into fall practice No. 1 on the depth chart. Taulapapa's lone statistical contribution last season was one tackle on special teams.


    Dubois is eager to show he can be more than a possession receiver.


    ''It's actually a great opportunity because basically it allows me and Joe to just take over all what (Ellis) and Olamide did and everyone's watching to see if we can own up to it,'' he said Tuesday.


    Mendenhall called junior Terrell Jana ''one of the bright spots of the spring,'' both for his productivity and leadership. Dubois believes Jana's presence working as a slot receiver only makes Virginia more dangerous.


    ''He's due for a breakout,'' Dubois said, adding Tavares Kelly to the list of players he expects to produce more. ''It feels like with all of us in the receiving corps, we have a really good team to take the top off of defenses.''


    And once they can do that, defenses won't be able to key as much on Perkins' running ability.


    ''You just have to beat one-on-one coverage and be able to make plays down the field and, once you do that, teams won't know who to stop, what coverage to play,'' Dubois said. ''We have to do our job and excel on the outside.''


    Hagans, himself a dual-threat quarterback for the Cavaliers from 2002-05, said Virginia has enough talent on offense to prevent Perkins from having to do too much, but added that part of that falls on the quarterback, too.


    ''I think a big part of what he has to do now is - he's proven that he can do it - what he's got to do now is prove that he can get other people to do it,'' Hagans said. ''I think that's the next step he's starting to take.


    ''He's bringing other people along to match his work ethic and where he wants the team to go.''


    If Perkins succeeds, and the playmakers do, expectations will only get higher.
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    OU, Kansas help start Big 12 media days
    July 15, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Oklahoma is again favored in the Big 12 after winning the last four conference titles. Kansas is expected to still be on the other end of the standings, even with a new coach that has a national title to his credit.


    New Jayhawks coach Les Miles, the 65-year-old former Oklahoma State coach who later won a national championship at LSU, will be the first coach to take the podium at Big 12 football media days Monday. That will be after Commissioner Bob Bowlsby kicks off the two-day talkfest with his annual address.


    Players and coaches from Oklahoma and Kansas will take part Monday, along with Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech. The second day, Tuesday, will feature Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia - and the only two quarterbacks scheduled to appear this week.


    The Big 12 is holding its media days for the first time at the home stadium of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, where the league plays its championship game.


    The 65-year-old Miles, after more than 2 + seasons out of coaching, is one of four new Big 12 coaches. The others are Texas Tech's Matt Wells, West Virginia's Neal Brown and Kansas State's Chris Klieman, who won four FCS national titles the past five years as head coach at North Dakota State.
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    Big 12's 2nd day features 2 new coaches
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The second day of Big 12 football media days will feature two new coaches and the only two quarterbacks who are appearing at the conference's two-day kickoff event.


    While new Kansas coach Les Miles is the only Big 12 head coach with a national championship at college football's highest level, new Kansas State coach Chris Klieman is coming off his fourth FCS championship in his five seasons as North Dakota State's head coach. Klieman was also part of three other titles as defensive coordinator for the Bison.


    Neal Brown took over at West Virginia after three consecutive 10-win seasons with bowl wins at Troy. He was Texas Tech's offensive coordinator from 2010-12.


    The quarterbacks talking Tuesday are Texas junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, and Kansas State junior Skylar Thompson.
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    UCF picked to win American title again
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) Central Florida has been picked to win the American Athletic Conference and face Memphis in the championship game for a third straight season.


    UCF was the top choice among media members to win the East Division and the league when the American released its preseason poll Tuesday at conference media day. The Knights received 19 of 30 first-place votes to win the East and 12 of 30 to win the conference.


    Memphis is favored to win the West Division over Houston. The Tigers received 15 first-place votes and 165 points. Houston, in its first season under coach Dana Holgorsen, had 14 and 162.


    USF was picked third in the East, followed by Temple, ECU and UConn. Tulane was picked behind third in the West followed by SMU, Navy and Tulsa.


    The American also announced its bowl lineup for the 2020-25 seasons. The conference is guaranteed seven bowl slots each year, including one in a new game to be played at Fenway Park in Boston against the Atlantic Coast Conference.


    The American will annually send a team to the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland, and alternate sending a team to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Hawaii Bowl.


    The conference also has agreements with a pool of eight bowl games that will host as many as four AAC teams annually.


    Those games are: Birmingham Bowl; Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Florida; First Responder Bowl in Dallas; Boca Raton (Florida) Bowl; Frisco (Texas) Bowl; Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida; Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Bowl; and New Mexico Bowl.
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    bump
    "There's no traffic on the extra mile." (Old Coach)
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    Saturday’s List of 13: College football knowledge…..


    13) College football teams with all five starters back on the offensive line:


    Auburn, Ball State, Boise St, Hawai’i, Iowa St.
    Michigan St, Oregon, Southern Miss, Texas St
    UL-Lafayette, UL-Monroe, Western Kentucky


    12) Over last five years, Utah is 11-2 vs spread as a road underdog; Whittingham is 11-2 SU in bowl games.


    11) Last two years, USC is 2-9 vs spread a a home favorite; since 2012, they’re 1-9 vs spread in neutral field games.


    10) Cincinnati allowed 35.8 ppg in their last five bowl games (2-3 SU); once 2014, Bearcats are 8-15 vs spread in non-conference games.


    9) Central Florida is 25-1 SU the last two years, with a +31 turnover margin; they’re 12-6-1 vs spread in last 19 games as a home favorite.


    8) Last four years, South Florida has a +28 turnover ratio; under Charlie Strong, Bulls are 5-12 vs spread as a home favorite.


    7) Since 2015, Temple is 25-8-1 vs spread in conference games; they’re 13-3 vs spread in last 16 games coming off a loss.


    6) Marshall is 12-2 all-time in bowl games, 5-0 since 2013; since 2016, Thundering Herd is 4-9 vs spread as a home favorite.


    5) Under Butch Davis, FIU is 2-6 vs spread as a home favorite, 6-0 as a home underdog.


    4) Last three years, Middle Tennessee State is 11-4 vs spread coming off a loss.


    3) Western Kentucky has its fifth head coach in eight years; last two years, Hilltoppers are 0-5 vs spread as a road favorite.


    2) From 2012-16, Southern Mississippi had a minus-63 turnover margin in 62 games; last two years, Golden Eagles were minus-2, and went 8-5/6-5.


    1) Since bringing their program back two years ago, UAB is 10-1-1 vs spread at home. [/SIZE]
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    2019 Independents Preview
    July 21, 2019

    2019 INDEPENDENTS PREVIEW


    Sitake’s Ups And Downs

    During its first six years as an independent team, BYU won 52 games, with never fewer than 8 victories in any one season. In 2017, however, the Cougars’ fortunes suffered a major plummet, winning just 4 games behind an offense that ranked No. 118 in the nation – worse than Kansas, Rice and Ball State. It was BYU’s first losing season since 2004, making them a true “mission team” - in more ways than one – in 2018.


    The Mormons rebounded, as expected, in its mission season last year, when the routed Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It marked the first time the team actually improved both is offensive and defensive numbers from one year to the next under Kalani Sitake.


    Status Quo


    The ranks of football independents have increased and decreased with each passing season since 2011 when BYU left the Mountain West Conference.


    It increased by two teams in 2013 when the Western Athletic Conference dropped football, paving the way for the inclusion of New Mexico and Idaho. Then in 2014, it lost two teams when Idaho and New Mexico State became football only members of the Sun Belt Conference. In 2015 Navy bolted for the American Athletic Conference as a football-only entrant. 2016 saw the addition of UMass, with New Mexico State returning in 2017. Liberty joined the Independents in 2018 as the revolving door continued to swing like a turnstile. Now, however, for the first time in seven years, the same 6 teams comprise the Independents this season that did in 2018.


    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.


    ARMY (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 4/0, RPR: 47/16/102)


    TEAM THEME: THIS IS THE NEW ARMY


    How does a team that won 11 games last season for the first time, took Oklahoma to the wire before falling in overtime and hammered Houston, 70-14, in the Armed Forces Bowl, tying the FBS record for the most lopsided result in a bowl game, improve on those kinds of numbers? We’re not sure it’s possible but we do know the Black Knights are one of only two teams that will face only three opponents that owned a winning record last year (UAB the other). Then consider this: Army has defeated Navy and won a bowl game the same year four times. They’ve gone 9-3, 10-3 and 11-2 the following seasons. Stay tuned.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After bowling just two times in 27 years, the Cadets have now done so three years in a row.


    PASS




    BYU (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 8/3, RPR: 65/48/85)


    TEAM THEME: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


    To his credit, Kalani Sitake went with a youth-infusion during last year’s “mission season” and it looks as if it’s going to pay off in spades in 2019. That’s because the Cougars’ freshmen started the 4th most amount of games in 2018 (22.1%). Defensively, BYU returns 8 starters from a unit that ranked No. 18 in total defense. In addition, the special teams unit was 4th best in the nation last year according to ESPN. QB Zach Wilson returns after starting the final seven games in 2018. Wilson was a perfect 18 for 18 for 317 yards and 4 TDs in last year’s bowl win over Western Michigan.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: For the first time in their history, BYU and Utah meet to open the season. The Cougars blew a 20-0 halftime lead in an 8-point loss to the Utes last year.


    PLAY ON: vs. Utah (8/29)



    LIBERTY (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 25/19/52)



    TEAM THEME: BOYS TO MEN


    After successfully debuting as the “New Kids On The Block’ last season, the Flames suddenly welcome an experienced unit back in 2019 as they evolve from ”Boys to Men.” They enter Year Two in FBS waters having gone 94-55 the past thirteen seasons – all six-plus win years – and would be bowl eligible should they continue the skein in 2019. A nasty 4 game road trek starting in late October will be the real test as to whether or not they are, indeed, bowl worthy. Meanwhile, new head coach Hugh Freeze has risen from the ashes to take over the program knowing it will be hard to top last year’s 52-10 over Old Dominion in their FBS debut.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Hugh Freeze is 17-5 ATS versus non-conference foes, including 10-1 ATS versus foes coming off a loss.


    PLAY ON: at UMass (11/2)




    NEW MEXICO STATE (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 58/20/109)


    TEAM THEME: THE CLIMB


    After playing in and winning its first bowl game-ever in 2017, it appeared that the Aggies had finally broke on through to the other side. After all, 57 years is a long, long time between drinks of water. The defense improved over 100 yards per game and nine of those starters were back. And then just as injuries, death, and taxes will do, the grim reaper rolled in and reminded Frank Martin that success is never a given. Now after a dreadful return to the mean in 2018, NMSU is tasked with getting things back to where they were two years ago. A deeply experienced offense becomes the starting point as the ascent begins.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Martin is 1-10 ATS in his career in conference games when coming off a SU favorite loss.


    PLAY ON: at New Mexico (9/21)




    NOTRE DAME (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 97/86/95)


    TEAM THEME: CORRECTED VISION


    Notre Dame had visions of a perfect season last year until they crossed paths with Clemson in a CFP semifinal game in the Cotton Bowl. Nonetheless, the Fighting Irish holds the college football record with 42 straight winning seasons from 1889-1932. A quick check of the calendar reminds us it will be at least 2059 should they tie that record, provided they put 40 more winning seasons in a row together between now and then. Before we get ahead of ourselves, QB Ian Book returns this year along with four starting OL and two of their top three wide receivers. With no back-to-back away games, they’ll be as popular as ever in 2019.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since 2011, Kelly has won only 14 of 29 games played from Halloween on out.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Michigan (10/26) - *KEY as a favorite




    UMASS (Offense - 5/2, Defense - 5/3, RPR: 128/121/114)

    TEAM THEME: SOUND THE BELL


    When Mark Whipple stepped down as head coach at the conclusion of last season, the Minutemen hired promising young coach Walt Bell. A former assistant at Maryland, Florida State, Southern Miss, and Arkansas State, Bell inherits a bare-bones roster that was gutted by graduation losses. Gone is star WR Andy Isabella, drafted in the 2nd round of the draft by Arizona, along with both starting QBs, their leading rusher and five of its top six defenders. It’s one thing to take over a program familiar with winning. It’s another to seize one that is allergic to winning. Remember, they were loaded with returning starters last season and lost twice as many games as they won.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since entering the FBS, the Minutemen are 5-1 ATS as underdogs of 29 or more points.


    PASS
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    2019 Mid-American Preview
    July 29, 2019



    PREVIEW


    2019 Mid-American Conference (MAC)



    Long Time Between Drinks Of Water


    The MAC hasn’t produced consecutive conference champions since 2011-12, and four different programs have claimed the league title over the last four years. Northern Illinois enters the 2019 season as the defending champion, but the Huskies have question marks on both sides of the ball and 6-year veteran head coach Rod Carey has left the program to take over the Temple program. Meanwhile, Ohio U appears the team to beat in 2019.


    Rivalries Abound


    The MAC has its fair share of intense rivalries, including the Battle of the Bricks (Ohio vs. Miami), the Michigan MAC Trophy (Central, Eastern, and Western Michigan), the Battle of I-75 (Toledo vs. Bowling Green) and the Wagon Wheel (Akron vs. Kent State). Rest assured, despite being Group of Fivers, these rivalries remain intense.


    Bowl Busts


    The MAC has been a major disappointment in bowl games, especially the past 11 seasons as they are just 16-46 SU and 20-38-2 ATS overall, including 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS last postseason.


    Worse, in bowl games against foes coming off a loss the MAC has gone 3-22 SU and 4-20-1 ATS since 2008, including 0-7 SUATS as either a pick or a favorite (see Buffalo last year). Yikes.


    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.


    EAST DIVISION


    AKRON (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 3/1, RPR: 101/55/115)



    TEAM THEME: WHIPLASH


    The Zips No. 2 ranked Red Zone Offense in 2018 was not enough to save Terry Bowden’s hide. As a result, Bowden is gone after seven seasons in the Rubber City and new head coach Tom Arth enters with a new playbook. Arth, a Northeast Ohio native and former QB at Cleveland St. Ignatius and the Indianapolis Colts, served as a head coach at John Carroll and UT Chattanooga, where he was 49-21, including 5-3 in Division III playoffs. His Moccasins at UTC had the top recruiting class in the Southern Conference. Arth insists that Akron has no returning starters and that every position must be earned. Stay tuned as he cracks the whip.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Zips have been outyarded in 29 of their last 39 games overall.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Kent State (10/12)




    BOWLING GREEN (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 98/43/120)


    TEAM THEME: NO MO JINKS


    The Mike Jinx era in Bowling Green was doomed before it started. After taking over a 10-win squad with heavy graduation losses, the Falcons won only 9 games the next three seasons. Bill Connelly of SBNation.com called it the “dumbest coaching search in college football” when they brought in Jinx, an inexperienced former running back aide at Texas Tech (a school known for its air-raid passing attack). The next savior up is Scot Loeffler, who coached-up Tom Brady and Tim Tebow (sounds like an oxymoron if ever there was one). He’s also had big busts at Boston College and Virginia Tech. Even worse for Loeffler, his starting QB Seth Doege decided to bail into the transfer portal. Uh-oh.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons went 39-6 SU in games where they won the stats, and 6-37 SU when they lost the stats over the last seven years.


    PLAY ON: vs. Toledo (10/12)




    BUFFALO (Offense - 5/4, Defense - 3/1, RPR: 127/122/112)


    TEAM THEME: WHERE HAVE ALL THE BISON GONE?


    On the heels of a record-setting 10-win season in 2018, the Bulls will have a new look in 2019. One of the biggest priorities heading into the new campaign will be finding a replacement for Bulls’ starting quarterback Tyree Jackson, the 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, who declared for the NFL Draft. In addition, all-MAC receivers Anthony Johnson and K.J. Osborn have departed. Head coach Lance Leipold can rely on the return of four starting offensive linemen but make no mistake – Jackson leaves large shoes to fill. He was the primary reason the SU stats winner in Bulls’ games was 14-0 SU and 13-0 ATS last season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since joining the MAC in 1999, Buffalo is 10-62 SU versus winning opponents.


    PASS




    KENT STATE (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 6/0, RPR: 8/6/34)


    TEAM THEME: SEVEN DEAD IN OHIO


    When the Flashes brought Sean Lewis in to replace Paul Haynes and his 14-41 record with Kent, they were optimistic that the former Dino Babers assistant at Syracuse would pick up the pace. The offense responded by improving 91 yards and 11 points per games behind Lewis’ new playbook. The problem was, like Babers’ defenses, the stop-unit couldn’t stop a fart when they allowed more than 500 yards in five contests (all losses). And therein lies the dilemma. A once-solid defense has now regressed across the board for three straight years. Seven road games, including visits to Arizona State, Auburn, and Wisconsin, could have them guzzling Imodium by season’s end. Gulp.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Flashes 1-28 SU and 9-20 ATS in games in which they score less than 24 points.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Bowling Green (9/21)




    MIAMI OHIO (Offense - 5/3, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 95/89/86)


    TEAM THEME: A BAD CASE OF ARRHYTHMIA


    At first glance, a 6-6 record last year looked like another disappointing season as the RedHawks have now gone 8 straight years without a winning record. But a deeper look inside the numbers tells another story as Miami won 5 of its final 7 games of the season while going 8-1 ATS and averaging 34 points per game to conclude the campaign. Unfortunately, the offense was gashed as 55.2% of the starts made last season (8th most in the nation) were by 19 seniors. When the Hawks opened spring camp, there was not a single quarterback on the roster that had ever thrown a pass in a college game. So while the spirit is willing, the heart is fluttering.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Miami Ohio led the nation in Red Zone Offense (.977) last season.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Ohio U (11/6)




    OHIO U (Offense - *4/2, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 113/119/69)


    TEAM THEME: ALL BY MYSELF


    For the second season in a row, the Bobcats squared off against only two teams during the regular season that owned a winning record the previous year. As a result, Frank Solich’s troops notched 9 wins in 2017 and 2018. The question begs how will they fare this year against an itinerary filled with no less than 6 foes that went bowling last year? We do know this: OU has managed to win four MAC division titles while also going bowling 10 of the last 11 years. With a boatload of experience suddenly gone (54.8% of last years starts were by seniors), Solich is left to fend for himself in 2019.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ohio U has played 26 games decided by a TD or less the last five seasons.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Kent State (10/19)




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


    WEST DIVISION


    BALL STATE (Offense - 8/5, Defense - 9/2, RPR: 18/56/10)


    TEAM THEME: NEU LOOK GROWING OLD


    With 10 wins in three seasons, Cardinal head coach Mike Neu realizes his job is suddenly on the line. For a team that retains most of its two-deep, and with only two home foes with winning records last season, Neu couldn’t have asked for anything more. For nothing else, he has made numerous pit stops as a head coach at minor programs, including the Augusta Stallions, Carolina Cobras, and the New Orleans VooDoo. The former New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach also started 38-of-41 games at quarterback in his four seasons at Ball State. A string of 6 straight bowl foes from Games Four thru Nine will likely determine Neu’s fate.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: BSU is one of only two FBS schools to average less than 10,000 fans (UL-Monroe the other) – or 100K fewer fans than Michigan.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Western Michigan (11/5)




    CENTRAL MICHIGAN (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 3/1, RPR: 76/10/124)


    TEAM THEME: CHIPS ANNOY


    Ouch. After winning 7, 6, 7, 7, 6 and 8 games each of the previous six seasons, the Chippewas fell off the map last year with just one win. The culprit was an offense that ranked dead last in the FBS, and whose failure led to the annoying departure of one of our favorite coaches in John Bonamego who managed to beat cancer while coaching CMU. Thus, as a four-year bowler, the Chips become a ‘mission team’ in 2019 under new head coach Jim McElwain, the former head honcho at Florida. He immediately signed seven 3-star offensive recruits, which should be good news with the Chips being ranked in the Top 10 in return production.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Chippewas are 5-0 ATS as dogs of 20 or more points since 2013.


    PLAY ON: at Ball State (11/16)




    EASTERN MICHIGAN (Offense - 6/2, Defense - 4/1, RPR: 117/100/107)


    TEAM THEME: FLIGHT SCHOOL IN PROGRESS


    It’s been a slow but steady rise for the Eagles in five seasons under head coach Creighton, whose troops have witnessed defensive improvement for three straight years. Closer inspection finds 11 of the 13 losses they suffered the past two seasons came by a touchdown or less, a sure sign this team is aching to breakthrough. In order for Creighton to keep his troops on track, he’ll need to overcome an inordinate 7 away games dotting this year’s itinerary. Given EMU’s 11-49 record in seasons they’ve been forced to play 7 away games, the task could prove tricky. But we’re not betting against Creighton. Not with five JUCOs coming in to fill holes on defense this season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Eastern Michigan has allowed the fewest points in school history last season each of the last two seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST:
    at Northern Illinois (11/19)




    NO ILLINOIS (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 37/61/29)


    TEAM THEME: KEEP CALM AND HAMMOCK ON


    On the heels of winning its fifth MAC championship last year, for the first time since 2013 NIU will open the season with a new head coach, Thomas ‘Easy Breezy’ Hammock, a former running back with NIU and an assistant coach with Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Baltimore Ravens. The good news for Hammock is the Huskies return QB Marcus Childers, who threw for 2,175 yards on 234 completions on 397 attempts. In addition, their top four rushers are back, as well as the top four tacklers from a defense that allowed a mere 2.7 yards per rush in 2018. The big test will come with three consecutive road games at Utah, Nebraska, and Vanderbilt in September.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Huskies are 35-13 SU and 32-15-1 ATS in their last forty-eight road games.


    PLAY ON: at Miami Ohio (10/19) - *KEY




    TOLEDO (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 107/57/82)


    TEAM THEME: ROCKETS RED GLARE


    Mark it down. Like his predecessor, Jason Candle will be the next Toledo head coach to move on to a Power 5 conference. For the past nine years with the Rockets, Candle has been instrumental in UT’s success. First as an assistant, and then as a head coach, his teams have gone 79-37 while appearing in 8 bowl games over that span. With 13 seasons under his belt as an assistant, Candle was just 27 years old when he was named an offensive coordinator at Mount Union. It didn’t hurt that UT scored at least 50 points six times in 2018, a school record, as well as eleven times in Candle’s three years as the lead Rocket.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Rockets were one of four teams that did not start a single freshman last season.


    PLAY ON: vs. Northern Illinois (11/13)




    WESTERN MICHIGAN (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 10/4, RPR: 1/9/6)


    TEAM THEME: YOU AGAIN


    Meet America’s most experienced team. According to SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, as confirmed by the RPR numbers above, the Broncos bring back more playing experience this season than any FBS squad. And after head coach Tim Lester lured the second-best class in the MAC with 19 three-star recruits in his first year, he didn’t stop there: eight 3-star WRs and TEs, four 3-star OL and a pair of 3-star RBs dotting the roster. And we didn’t even mention the return of QB John Wassink, who broke his ankle in the Toledo game (WMU was riding a 6-game win streak prior to the injury). Look for the Broncos to kick up a storm this year.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: As many as 14 seniors will be starting for the Broncos in 2019.


    PLAY ON: at Syracuse (9/21)
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    Pac-12 could have morning kickoffs
    July 24, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    LOS ANGELES (AP) The Pac-12 has heard plenty of criticism from fans and coaches about a third of games being played at night last year.


    That has led Commissioner Larry Scott to possibly try a new scheduling approach this season.


    Instead of ''Pac-12 After Dark'', welcome to ''Breakfast with the Pac-12''.


    Scott said Fox and conference athletic directors are in preliminary talks about morning kickoffs for some games, which would put them in the network's key noon Eastern time slot. Any morning kickoffs, which would be at 9 a.m. Pacific and 10 a.m. Mountain, would be voluntary and not dictated by Fox.


    ''That would be new and somewhat out of the box, but I've tried to put everything on the table,'' Scott said. ''I think there are some schools and markets that might respond positively.''


    Coaches are split about the possibility of a morning kickoff. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the sooner they can start, the better.


    ''We'd adjust. We've played those games before. It's been few and far between, but we've had those 10 a.m. kickoffs in the past. We'd jump at the chance for that,'' he said.


    Stanford's David Shaw said he would be somewhat resistant.


    ''All the studies we've all read and conducted ourselves on our campus, our sleep studies, it is better for young people to perform athletically if they get a full night's sleep,'' Shaw said. ''And I don't know that you can find any group of 18- to 22-year-old young people that are going to go to bed at 10 o'clock at night to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning to make sure they can perform athletically.''


    SOMETHING TO PROVE


    Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert remembers watching as a boy as Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to conference titles.


    After deciding to return to school instead of declaring for the NFL draft, Herbert hopes to join that fraternity of quarterbacks as a senior.


    Herbert threw for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior last season but Oregon still finished fourth in the Pac-12 North.


    ''We've been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows and we've seen all the success that's been at Oregon so we're capable of looking at it and realizing this isn't where we wanted to be,'' Herbert said. ''There's a direction that we're heading and I think we need to keep going that way.''


    Oregon was a narrow pick to win the Pac-12 North in the annual media poll released Wednesday after finishing one point ahead of rival Washington. The Ducks also received 11 votes to win the Pac-12 title game.


    Herbert was pleased to receive the nod. However, he recognizes it means nothing if Oregon can't back it up on the field.

    PRESEASON TEAM



    Utah placed five on the preseason all-conference team.


    Four of the players are on defense - linemen Bradlee Anae and Leki Fotu along with defensive backs Julian Blackmon and Jaylon Johnson. Running back Zack Moss was the lone pick on offense.


    Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr was the only player to be listed on all 33 ballots.


    Oregon and Stanford had four players apiece. Ducks quarterback Justin Hebert was first team on all but two ballots and Cardinal defensive back Paulson Adebo was listed on 32 of 33.

    LEACH THE TEACH



    If Washington State coach Mike Leach found the latest offensive innovation during his foray into academia this past spring, he doesn't seem to be tipping his hand.


    Leach taught a five-part seminar called ''Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies,'' and students had to design plays as part of the final project. Having overseen an offense that has averaged at least 320 yards passing per game in each of his first seven seasons with the Cougars, Leach was certainly qualified to grade their work.


    Whether any of those plays will be added to the playbook of Leach's ''Air Raid'' spread offense is another matter. Offensive lineman Liam Ryan did not notice anything out of the ordinary during spring practice in March and April.


    However, given Leach's penchant for surprise, Ryan won't rule out seeing one of those plays show up in the fall.''


    ''We did not practice anything different in spring ball so I have no idea what goes on in his mind,'' Ryan said. ''He'll pull out something, I know that for sure.''


    NEW BOWL


    The Pac-12 will be adding the Los Angeles Bowl to its postseason lineup when it begins in 2020.


    The Los Angeles Bowl will feature a matchup between teams from the Pac-12 and Mountain West in the NFL stadium under construction. The Pac-12's commitment to the game runs through 2025.


    ''We are thrilled to partner with the Los Angeles Bowl and bring a Pac-12 presence to the new state-of-the-art facility at LA Stadium, in one of the biggest markets right in our footprint,'' Scott said.
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  17. #42  
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    Numbers/ratings in this list are from Phil Steele’s college football magazine:


    13) Top 3 quarterbacks in country:
    Trevor Lawrence (Clemson), Too Tagovailoa (Alabama), Justin Herbert (Oregon)


    12) Top three offensive lines in country:
    Oregon, Georgia, Clemson


    11) Most experienced offensive lines in country:
    Oregon, UL-Monroe, UL-Lafayette, Texas Tech


    10) Teams who lose lot of close games one year tend to improve the next year; these teams had 4 net close losses last year:


    Arkansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Western Kentucky (2 have new coaches this year)


    9) Teams who win lot of close games one year tend to regress the next year; these teams had 4 net close wins last year:


    Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas


    8) Michigan State gained 18.3 yards per point LY, 2nd-worst in country, which means their defense/special teams provided very little help to the offense. As a result, Spartans regressed from a 10-3 record in 2017 to 7-6 LY.


    Here is how Michigan State fared the last six years:
    2013-15: 36-5 W-L, +46 turnover margin
    2016-18: 20-18 W-L, -1 turnover margin


    7) Then there is Utah State, which gained only 10.46 yards/point LY, best in country, as they jumped from 6-7 to 11-2, and their coach jumped to Texas Tech for more money.


    Aggies were +14 in turnovers LY, after being -2 in turnovers from 2015-17.


    6) These four teams had the best defensive yards/point in country LY:


    Clemson, Fresno State, Kentucky, Mississippi State— Bulldogs have only 9 of 22 starters back this season; other three teams all have only four starters back on defense. Experienced teams tend to get the most out of what they have, then take a step back when new guys step n.


    5) These three teams had the best defensive yards/point in country LY:
    Bowling Green, Louisville, Western Michigan


    Louisville went 57-21 from 2012-17, then went 2-10 LY and fired the coach; Bowling Green also fired its coach, who was 9-27 the last three years (they were 28-14 from 2013-15).


    4) Toughest schedules in country this fall:


    South Carolina, Auburn, USC, Texas A&M


    3) Since 1991, 353 teams went -10 or worst in turnovers; 67% of them improved the next year, only 23% got worse:


    -17: UTEP, UConn, -14: East Carolina, Rutgers, -12: Louisville, UL-Monroe


    2) Since 1991, 440 teams went +10 or better in turnovers; only 28% of them improved the next year, 64% got worse:


    +22 Georgia Southern, +16 Kansas, +14: UCF, Utah State, +13: Syracuse, Ohio U.


    1) Over the last seven seasons, 53 teams were +14 or better in turnovers; 45 of those 53 teams did worse the following season.


    Kansas went 3-9 with a +16 turnover ratio, which isn’t easy; they fired the coach and brought in Les Miles, so the Jayhawks will be a fascinating study for the next couple years. Miles will improve their talent base.
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  18. #43  
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    Steele is a garbage man,..he writes one thing then in the same paragraph at the end he writes the opposite,...he gives some teams a better rating cause he knows the head coach real good
    Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got.
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  19. #44  
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    Monday’s 6-pack


    College football recruiting budgets: (from 24/7 Sports)


    1) Georgia $2,626,622


    2) Texas $1,823,307


    3) Clemson $1,790,976


    4) Texas A&M $1,710,101


    5) Florida State $1,581,347


    6) Michigan $1,397,784
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  20. #45  
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    2019 Mountain West Preview
    August 4, 2019
    VegasInsider.com
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    MWC 2019 MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE PREVIEW


    Can You Spell Defense?


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


    The strength of the Mountain West Conference each of the last two years has been its defense. That’s’ confirmed by the fact that no less than three teams finished both the 2017 and 2018 football seasons ranked in the Top 25 in overall defense: #11 San Diego State (314.5), #22 Boise State (332.6) and #23 Wyoming (335.2) in 2018; and #17 Fresno State (321.6), #19 Wyoming (326.2), and #21 San Diego State (334.6) in 2019.


    20 for 20


    As the Mountain West Conference begins its 21st football season this year it’s worth noting that have more than held their own in games outside the conference. And a stellar 62-48-1 ATS mark as dogs of 20-plus points since its inception, including 17-7 ATS in season-opening games sets the table for the MWC this season.


    Bowling For Dollars


    Speaking of non-conference clashes, the MWC has more than held its own in bowl games, going 52-43 SU all-time.


    More importantly, they stand 12-3 ATS all-time as bowl dogs of 6 or more points. Remember that.


    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.


    MOUNTAIN DIVISION


    AIR FORCE (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 7/2 RPR: 75/72/74)


    TEAM THEME: BABY STEPS


    Coming off consecutive 5-7 seasons, AFA head coach Troy Calhoun is like a calf in a rodeo... fit to be tied. While calf roping is a cruel sport, so are losing seasons in Colorado Springs. In fact, you need to go back to 1981 to find the last time the Flyboys posted three straight losing seasons. Remember, Calhoun has averaged 7.25 wins per season with Air Force while suffering consecutive losing seasons only ONCE (until the last two years), when he bounced back to go 10-3 in 2014. Meanwhile, it should be pointed out that the Falcons suffered five losses by 8 or fewer points last season. Look for a reversal of fortune in 2019.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons are 8-1 ATS as dogs of 20 or more points since 1996.


    PLAY ON: vs. Army (11/2)


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


    BOISE STATE (Offense - 6/5, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 88/120/22)


    TEAM THEME: GO FISH


    There is something to be said about being the biggest fish in a small pond. It’s the status Boise State has attained. The last time a Broncos football team failed to win 8 games in a season was 1998. The most consistent Group of Five team in the nation has knocked off six of their last ten Power Five foes. Helping matters this year, Boise featured 20 underclassmen that made starts last season. Sans QB Brett Rypien in 2019, BSU will take on only 4 foes that had winning records last season, practically guaranteeing them another double-digit win campaign in 2019. As we said, it’s better to swim in a lake with fishes than in an ocean with sharks.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Broncos are 75-2 SU in games vs. .500 or fewer foes with Bryan Harsin on the sidelines (as OC 2006-2010 and since 2014).


    PLAY AGAINST: at BYU (10/19)


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


    COLORADO STATE (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 6/3 RPR: 125/126/96)


    TEAM THEME: RAISON D’ETRE


    Mike Bobo’s neuropathy problems were nothing compared to what the Rams suffered through when they were forced to replace the 2nd most overall total starters (15) in the nation, including seniors that had made a whopping 69.6% of all starts. If Joe Jackson were their head coach, we’d have called them the Shoeless Rams. Last year’s results spoke for themselves as a 3-win season snapped a 6-year bowl skein, thus making them a bonafide “mission team” in 2019. This season you can expect them to benefit from a 2017 recruiting class that included 23 members, 19 of whom saw playing time last year – including six true freshmen that combined to make 30 starts.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    The Rams are 0-23 SU all-time versus ranked opponents.


    PLAY ON: at Utah State (9/28)


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


    NEW MEXICO (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 2/2, RPR: 115/80/117)


    TEAM THEME: EARLY BIRDS GET THE WORM


    We’re as shocked as anyone that Bob Davie is still roaming the sidelines in Albuquerque these days. Coming off a pair of 3-9 seasons, and suspended 30 days over sexual allegations last season, we’re guessing this will be his make-or-break year with the Lobos. Last year Davie hit the JUCO circuit hard to replenish a delicately young roster and it failed to materialize. With it, even more JUCO transfers and two new coordinators are in place in this last gasp salvage attempt. To do so, he’ll need to capitalize on a soft early schedule. We do know that Davie is 45-25 against losing foes but only 17-45 against winning opponents in his career. And therein lies his future.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Lobos are 1-13 SU and 3-11 ATS in Game Eleven of the season since 2005.


    PLAY ON: vs. Liberty (9/28)


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


    UTAH STATE (Offense - *2/1, Defense - 7/3, RPR: 104/110/68)


    TEAM THEME: TAPIOCA


    Rest assured, the Aggies will miss Matt Wells, now calling the shots at Texas Tech. The proof is in the pudding: Utah State was 32-16 SU in conference games under Wells. They were 24-42 SU the previous nine seasons. Returning to take over the reins is former USU head coach Gary Andersen, named WAC Coach of the year in his final season in Logan in 2012. He was also the first head coach at Utah State to notch a winning record since Phil Krueger (1973-75). While the offense was pillaged by graduation losses, QB Nathan Love returns after setting five school records in 2018, including 32 TD passes and 3,567 yards. Andersen will have his work cut out for him.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aggies were tied with New Mexico State with most Special Teams touchdowns last season.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Wyoming (11/16)


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


    WYOMING (Offense - *5/3, Defense - 6/1, RPR: 120/102/113)


    TEAM THEME: BOHL BOUND


    Last year we maintained that head coach Craig Bohl’s force-feeding of youngsters three seasons ago would pay dividends. It did not pan out as expected in 2018, but we remain firm in our conviction that the Cowboys are closer to the 8-win seasons they enjoyed in 2016 and 2017 than the 6 wins they posted last year. For openers, last year’s unit closed out the season on a 4-game stampede. The chip they carry on their shoulder this season is that they were a 6-win bowl-eligible team that was bypassed by bowl committees, snapping a two-year bowl run under Bohl. Remember, they lost their top two RBs, best WR and starting guard to injuries before the season last year.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Wyoming is 6-1 ATS as a bowl dog against sub .800 opponents.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Air Force (11/30)


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


    WEST DIVISION


    FRESNO STATE (Offense - 3/1, Defense - 6/4, RPR: 129/127/121)


    TEAM THEME: WHAT GOES UP...


    Since joining the MWC in 2012, the Bulldogs have won three league championships and four division titles. It goes without saying that head coach Jeff Tedford has been instrumental in the program’s success as they finished last season nationally ranked for the first time since 2004. Now, however, the bar rises to a completely new level in 2019. Only three starters are back on offense and none of them is QB Marcus McMaryion, who was 21-4 as a starter. On top of it all, OC Kalen DeBoer left the program for Indiana. With the worst RPR in the FBS, fortunately, they will face losing teams in six of their first seven games. Beware.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Fresno State is the first team in FBS history to secure back-to-back double-digit winning seasons following a double-digit loss season.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Nevada (11/23)


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


    HAWAII (Offense - *9/5, Defense - 9/3, RPR: 9/34/9)


    TEAM THEME: KULIA I KA NU’U


    Meet one of the most experienced squads in college football this season. With 9 starters back on each side of the ball, the Warriors also hold down a No. 9 overall RPR ranking. Led by gunslinger QB Cole McDonald – ranked 1st in passing yards in the MWC and 8th overall in the nation – and a front wall that brings back all five starters from 2018, the grass skirts represent the best talent Nick Rolovich has had in his three years in Honolulu. Our concern, though, is a defense that surrendered season-high yardage in half of their games last season, coughing up 24 or more points in 10 of its 11 FBS games. Fasten your seat belts as is could be a bumpy ride for Rolo’s boys this year.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Hawaii is 0-9-1 ATS as a favorite under Nick Rolovich


    PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. San Jose State (11/9)


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


    NEVADA (Offense - 6/2 , Defense - 4/2, RPR: 66/40/98


    TEAM THEME: UP IN THE AIR


    Jay Norvell’s offense has gone from Air Raid to Air Pistol, but no one in Reno is complaining after an 8-win season last year, the Wolf Packs best tally since 2010. While it’s nowhere near the Chris Ault and Colin Kaepernick attack from 10 years ago, Nevada’s offense has improved in each of Norvell’s two seasons in Nevada. But with OC Matt Mumme and QB coach Timmy Chang calling the shots, it still falls far short of expectations. Three-year starting QB Ty Gangi is gone, leaving a large hole, but Norvell hit the recruiting trail hard and managed to land a star-studded class of defensive recruits. Our guess is they’re bowl bound again this year.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Nevada is 0-8 SUATS away off a win in which the Pack were not an underdog under Norvell.


    PLAY AGAINST: at San Diego State (11/9)


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


    SAN DIEGO STATE (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 6/0, RPR: 42/57/51)


    TEAM THEME: ROCK AND ROLL


    Rocky Long’s secret to success is no secret at all: he loves to pound the ball down your throat and backs it up with a tough-as-nails defense. It’s resulted in 8 bowl trips in eight seasons (after SDSU had been bowling just three times in 23 previous years). However, after three consecutive double-digit win seasons, the Aztecs somehow slipped to 7 wins last season when they dropped their final four games of the campaign. Fear not, though, as an experienced offensive line, a healthy Juwan Washington, and a deep supporting cast of running backs, insure another powerful ground attack. Meanwhile, the Aztecs’ defensive back-eight looks to be the best in the conference. Don’t knock the Rock this year.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After previously going 41-10 SU and 32-15-2 ATS from Game 6 out with Long, the Aztecs went 1-7 ATS from Game 6 out last season.


    PLAY ON: at Hawaii (11/23)


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


    SAN JOSE STATE (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 6/1, RPR: 71/68/72)


    TEAM THEME: ROAD TO RECOVERY


    There are misleading stats and then there are misleading stats. In San Jose State’s case, a pair of 1-7 efforts in conference play the past two seasons under Brent Brennan would look, on the surface, to be a telling tale. Yet the Spartans were 6-2 ATS in MWC play last year after covering only 3 of 8 conference games in 2017. Could that be a buy sign? Improvement in the passing attack, as well as the rush defense, lends promise for continued growth this year. And if that improvement comes, it will likely happen over the course of their first five games of the campaign, as the Spartans will tackle 6 bowlers over their final seven games of the season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The ‘In The Stats’ winner in Spartans games is 53-9 SU the last five seasons.


    PLAY ON: at UNLV (11/23)


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


    UNLV (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 39/17/87)


    TEAM THEME: BOWL OR BUST


    Hometown hero head coach Tony Sanchez enters the final year of his contract with the Rebels riding on the hot seat. And it’s also a good bet that the flames will be lowered by season’s end. Finally playing with a full deck of scholarship players, this UNLV team has something they haven't had on the defensive side of the ball in a very long time... depth. In addition, the Rebels will be returning almost every key member on offense, led by a healthy Armani Rogers behind center. He’ll operate behind an offensive line that goes three-deep across the board with an electrifying cast of wide receivers. This is, hands down, the best team that Sanchez has had with UNLV.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Rebels have enjoyed just one winning season over the last 18 years.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Nevada (11/30)
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  21. #46  
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    Friday’s 6-pack


    College football spreads for Labor Day weekend:


    — UCLA @ Cincinnati (-3)


    — Utah (-5.5) @ BYU


    — Colorado State vs Colorado (-11)


    — Purdue (-9) @ Nevada


    — Ole Miss @ Memphis (-6.5)


    — South Carolina (-7) @ North Carolina
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    Herbert wants to see continued growth
    August 8, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    EUGENE, Ore. (AP) When Justin Herbert looks at the arc of his career at Oregon, he sees it through the lens of the team as a whole.


    The Ducks went 4-8 under Mark Helfrich in Herbert's freshman year. Then there was Willie Taggart's lone season at the helm before Mario Cristobal led a more united Oregon to a 9-4 record last year.


    That growth is one of the reasons Herbert returned for his senior season.


    ''I came here and we weren't a great football team. We were kind of a group of individuals that year,'' he said. ''I think the past couple of years we've done a really good job of coming together and becoming a team.''


    While Herbert has grown more comfortable taking on a leadership role and speaking to the media, he has always shied away from discussing individual accomplishments - preferring instead to keep it about the team.


    But those accomplishments are considerable, and he's among the reasons Oregon was picked to finish atop the Pac-12 North in the league's preseason media poll. The Ducks edged Washington by a point.


    Herbert, mentioned as a Heisman candidate heading into last season, threw for 3,153 yards with 29 touchdowns. He has thrown at least one touchdown in 28 straight games, the longest current streak in the nation.


    Over his 28 career starts, the Ducks have averaged 38.3 points a game. A local kid from Eugene's Sheldon High School, Herbert has thrown for 7,070 yards and 63 touchdowns in his three years so far.


    While there was speculation he might bolt for the NFL after his junior season, Herbert announced shortly before Oregon's 7-6 victory over Michigan State in the RedBox Bowl that he would stay for his senior year. Barring disaster, he should be among the top quarterback prospects in next year's NFL draft.


    ''I think it's a really special group of guys - all the guys sitting over there, they're great to be around, they're great teammates,'' Herbert said at Oregon's media day at the start of fall camp. ''The coaching staff and all the staff, it's really special. It's really something I wanted to be around for another year.''


    And there's something else: Herbert will be joined this season at Oregon by his brother, tight end Patrick Herbert, a four-star recruit who was among nearly a dozen early enrollees for the Ducks.


    The younger Herbert is already grabbing attention from Cristobal, who said he worked with the tight ends and tackles on the first day of practice.


    ''My first chance to really kind of get in there with him and he responded great and that's his DNA. The family DNA. We all know his family,'' Cristobal said. ''Expecting big things from Patrick and we really think he's in the mix to play this year.''


    The elder Herbert will be looking for a new primary target this season. Dillon Mitchell, who topped the league last season with 75 catches for 1,184 yards and 10 touchdowns, left Oregon early and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. The team also took a hit this week when senior receiver Brenden Schooler underwent a foot procedure. He is projected to miss six to eight weeks.


    A newcomer in the mix is Juwan Johnson, a graduate transfer from Penn State who had 81 catches for 1,123 yards and two touchdowns over three seasons with the Nittany Lions.


    ''I feel the chemistry is there. All the hard work that we've put in in the spring and the summer is definitely going to pay off,'' Johnson said. ''I'm giving him feedback, he's giving me feedback on what he likes to see. Obviously, I'm new to the system, so he's teaching me things and I'm picking up new things.''


    Cristobal said Herbert's task this season is to control the offense.


    ''There's going to be some times this year where a guy like that is going to have to take over a football game. We've all seen it and he's already done it a number of times. It's the next natural part of his growth just like he has done as a leader,'' Cristobal said. ''He's done a great job as leader: Great job being able to communicate with the football team, get in front of them, lead by example but also be able to voice his reasons, his concerns or what he feels is important. When your quarterback does that I think it gives you a tremendous advantage.''


    Herbert is managing the expectations on him, as well as on the Ducks as a whole, in much in the same way he did last season. He's ignoring the outside noise.


    ''I would say not to let it distract you too much, just focus on you, focus on our guys, our team,'' he said when asked if he'd learned anything from the attention he got last year. ''Listen to the people that really matter to you, and not let it distract you too much, I'd say.''
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    Veteran quarterbacks abound in SEC
    August 8, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) It is the year of the veteran quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.


    Tua Tagovailoa and Jake Fromm are the headliners, but the league is loaded with experienced passers with double-digit starts under their belts at their current school or elsewhere.


    The SEC has eight returning starters at quarterback and could have as many as five graduate transfers leading offenses. The teams are hoping that's a recipe for success in a league that hasn't produced a first-round pick at quarterback since Johnny Manziel in 2014.


    ''I think it's unique that you would have five graduate transfer quarterbacks possibly starting in our conference, and it's also a really good year for the quarterback in the SEC,'' said Kirby Smart, Fromm's coach at Georgia. ''It seems in my experience having been in the SEC for a lot of years, whether as a coach or a player, I don't know that there's been a year where there's been so many quarterbacks that have the experience they have.


    ''Some of them may not have the experience at that university, but they have experience. That's usually not a good sign for defensive coordinators in our conference. ... It makes it really tough because that position determines a lot of the outcomes of games. That's your leader and the guy that touches the ball every play.''


    There's little true star power beyond Fromm and Alabama's Tagovailoa , the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season. Either or both could snap that first-round QB drought for a league that routinely sends a bounty of talent into the NFL at other positions. Both are also surrounded by talented playmakers and blockers.


    Florida's Feleipe Franks, LSU's Joe Burrow and Kentucky's Terry Wilson all are also back after helping lead their teams to 10-win seasons.


    South Carolina's Jake Bentley has started 32 games over the past three seasons. Texas A&M's Kellen Mond (20 starts) and Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano (18) have started in multiple seasons as well.


    ''I think it's great for the league,'' Fromm said. ''You get great competition week in and week out, and that's what everybody wants. That's what everybody wants to see. We're excited about it.''


    Even most of the teams with new starters have seasoned vets, though Auburn and Mississippi will be starting freshmen.


    The biggest name among the new guys is Missouri's Kelly Bryant , who led Clemson to the national championship game two seasons ago. Bryant started 18 games but left after losing the starting job to talented freshman Trevor Lawrence.


    His presence greatly eases the worries about replacing four-year starter Drew Lock. Even South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, who faced Bryant at Clemson, predicts ''a very smooth transition.'' Muschamp praised Bryant's accuracy and mobility.


    ''But I probably think his best attributes as a player is his intangible qualities,'' the Gamecocks coach said. ''The guy is an outstanding leader. He positively affects people around him. He gets guys going and believing in what you need to do to be successful.''


    At Arkansas, graduate transfer Ben Hicks was a three-year starter at SMU while Nick Starkel is a former Texas A&M starter.


    Vanderbilt has Riley Neal, who passed for 7,393 yards and 46 touchdowns over three seasons at Ball State.


    Mississippi State grad transfer Tommy Stevens spent two seasons under coach Joe Moorhead at Penn State. He's battling Keytaon Thompson for the starting job.


    LSU's Burrow started last year as a grad transfer from Ohio State. He finished a solid debut season with 394 passing yards and four touchdowns in a Fiesta Bowl win over Central Florida.


    He's the first LSU quarterback to pass for 2,500-plus yards and rush for at least 350 in the same season. LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects to free him up for more runs this season.


    ''He reminds me of Bobby Hebert, a quarterback that I played with who was a tremendous football player that had all of the intangibles of a leader,'' Orgeron said. ''Joe's very tough. Joe's going to lead by example. His team believes in him. We expect him to have a great year.''
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    Clemson football flagged for 8 violations
    August 7, 2019
    By The Associated Press



    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Clemson's national championship football program was flagged for eight secondary NCAA violations during a yearlong period from July 2018 through this past June.


    The school's athletic department released a summary of the infractions Wednesday.


    None of the violations were considered major and all issues about the penalties have been resolved, according to the school. In all, Clemson self-reported 14 violations in the year ending on June 30.


    Names of athletes, coaches or staffers involved in the infractions were not in the summary provided to The Associated Press by Clemson. The month and day when the violation occurred was blacked out in the report.


    The football violations reported by the school included a homeowner paying a player above the going rate for work around the home on three separate occasions. Two violations involved players on social media in a promotional capacity.


    The other five infractions were committed by football staffers and included reimbursing an athlete for ground transportation expenses above the school's mileage rate.


    Others involved the school publicizing the signing of a football recruit before he had signed with the program. Another was for the football staff impermissibly mailing out a printed questionnaire to 221 prospects about life-skills programming before Sept. 1 of their junior years in high school.


    Perhaps the strangest violation came when staffers wrongly used confetti as part of a photo shoot that took place on a student-athlete's official visit, the school said.


    Clemson began fall camp last week and opens the season at home against Georgia Tech on Aug. 29.


    Two of the remaining violations occurred in the men's basketball program, one for a player using his name to promote a company's sale of apparel via social media, according to the summary. The other was for the basketball staff providing images and likenesses of two players to an event company who used the images in a ''commercial promotion,'' the school said.


    The final four secondary violations were reported by volleyball, men's soccer and men's and women's tennis.
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    2019 Pac-12 Preview
    August 11, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence



    It Was So Bad That...


    On the heels of a disastrous 2018 campaign, the PAC-12 is in need of a makeover, the likes of which no plastic surgeon can immediately change the look of this plummeting Power-5 Conference.


    It was so bad that UCLA and USC each suffered a losing season in the same year for the first time since 1958. It was so bad that the PAC-12 has gone 7-15 SU and 3-19 ATS in bowl games the last three years ... with only ONE WIN by more than 3 points. It was so bad that since the College Football Playoff was introduced, the Pac-12 has made two appearances — going 1-2 — and failed to appear in three of the five seasons, missing out each of the last two years. Sheesh.


    Newbie


    Unlike five new head coaches that entered the league last season, the highest number of new coaches on the sidelines in one season for the Pac-12, the loop welcomes just one newbie in 2019 – Colorado’s Mel Tucker.


    Ralphie has been running in the wrong direction for far too long. During the past 13 years, the Buffs have produced one winning season and fired three coaches. Competing in the PAC-12’s soft South division, Tucker looks to reverse the Buffaloes path this season.


    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.


    NORTH DIVISION

    CALIFORNIA (Offense - *4/3, Defense - 7/1, RPR: 52/104/21)



    TEAM THEME: UNBEARABLE THOROUGHFARE


    Thanks to a Top 10 nationally-ranked defense that led the Pac-12 in Yards Per Play (4.59) and improved 113 yards per game, head coach Justin Wilcox guided the Bears to the Cheez-It Bowl in his second campaign with Cal. The good news is the defense returns 13 players – including leading PAC-12 Defensive Player Of The Year candidate LB Evan Wheeler - that started a combined total of 135 starts last season while losing only 5 that made 45 starts a year ago. Signature wins last year included surprises over Pac-12 champion Washington and at USC. The challenge this year will be to improve on last year’s accomplishments. To do so they will need to navigate a salty conference road slate with visits at Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, and Washington. Gulp.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Cal finished last season ranked No. 129 (last) in both red zone offense (.718) and most turnovers lost (31).


    PLAY ON: at Stanford (11/23)




    OREGON (Offense - *10/5, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 32/37/46)


    TEAM THEME: JUSTIN TIME


    With the bloodletting the Pac-12’s reputation has suffered the past two seasons, including nary a playoff team, they desperately need a team to emerge and raise the conference’s stock. With 6’ 6” QB Justin Herbert – 4.06 GPA with 7,070 passing yards with 63 TDs and 17 INTs – shirking the NFL Draft in favor of returning for his senior season, the Ducks just maybe the placebo the loop needs. But the fact of the matter is head coach Mario Cristobal has yet to prove himself at this level. With no consecutive road games, and behind a 2019 signing class that ranks among the best in OU history, there should be no excuses in 2019.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Oregon averages 39.4 PPG in Herbert’s 27 starts for the Ducks.


    PLAY ON: at Stanford (9/21) - *KEY



    OREGON STATE (Offense - *7/2, Defense - 9/2, RPR: 23/73/3)



    TEAM THEME: WAKE UP CALL


    Jonathan Smith’s debut in Corvallis put Beaver backers to sleep last season. The team was 1-10 against FBS foes and ranked dead last in the Pac-12 in Yards Per Play allowed – by nearly a yard-and-a-half. In addition, Oregon State finished the year last in sacks allowed (4.0 per game) and second-last in overall scoring defense (45.7 PPG). Compounding matters, OSU has dropped 34 of its last 38 Pac-12 performances. When asked about re-building the culture in Year Two, Smith intoned, “We feel good on the direction we’re headed.” To that, we say it can only be up. It starts with an experienced squad of returning starters and overall production with 6th-year senior Jake Luton at the helm.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Beavers have been outyarded in 24 of their last 25 away games.


    PASS




    STANFORD (Offense - *4/2, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 108/112/70)


    TEAM THEME: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?


    Questions abound on The Farm these days. The running game slumped to 11th in the Pac-12 last season behind an injured Bryce Love, but having to replace WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside (last year’s leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns) might prove more critical than losing Love to the NFL. Nonetheless, QB K.J. Costello (17-7 as a starter) will carry the burden. The bigger concern is a defense that has slipped badly in the last two years. The 410 yards allowed last year is the most ever allowed under Shaw, breaking 2017’s yield of 405 YPG. Still, while Shaw is no Vince Lombardi, he remains highly respected among his peers. Look for him to deliver answers this season.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The team that won the stats in Cardinal conference games last season went 3-6 SU and 3-5-1 ATS.


    PLAY ON: vs. Washington (10/5)




    WASHINGTON (Offense - 7/4, Defense - 2/1, RPR: 118/53/130)


    TEAM THEME: YOUNG PUPS


    Coming off three-straight double-digit win seasons, including three consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games, it’s safe to say head coach Chris Petersen is going to miss both 3-year starting QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin this season. With it, Petersen must replace the winningest class in school history. The rebuild begins with five-star Georgia transfer QB 6’ 6” Jacob Eason, who comes in to take over for Browning. Eason promises to be the PAC-12 Newcomer of the Year. On the defensive front, the Huskies must replace all but two starters – including the entire defensive line – as well as LB Ben Burr Kirven, whose 176 tackles were nearly 100 more than any other Washington player last season. A favorable schedule finds them at home in four of their first five games. Unfortunately, it may not be enough.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Chris Petersen is 1-11 ATS in his career in games when coming off a SU favorite loss.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Utah (11/2) - *KEY




    WASHINGTON STATE (Offense - 7/4, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 77/84/65)


    TEAM THEME: TRANSFER U


    QB Gage Gubrud transfers in from Eastern Washington where he tossed for nearly 10,000 yards to fill Gardner ‘Ginsu’ Minshew’s shoes. And big shoes they are as Minshew passed for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns while leading Wazzu to its first 11-win season last year after transferring in from East Carolina. The bad news is standout LT Andre Dillard departs. The good news is the rest of the OL is back. The better news is Gubrud will have all four of last year’s top targets back in 2019, which means the mad scientist (read: head coach Mike Leach) should be up to the task of replicating the 9 wins a season he’s averaged the last four years.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cougars are 11-1 ATS as conference road dogs under Mike Leach vs. winning foes coming off a SUATS win.


    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Stanford (11/16)




    SOUTH DIVISION


    ARIZONA (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 8/1, RPR: 33/76/11)


    TEAM THEME: FATE BY TATE


    Kevin Sumlin came up short – real short – in his first year with the Wildcats last season. A majority of the disappointment can be attributed to the wobbly condition of star QB Khalil Tate. An early-season ankle injury saw Tate’s rushing yardage drop from 1,411 yards to 224 last year. This was after Tate dominated the conference in 2017, earning an unprecedented four-straight Pac-12 Player of the Week awards. The upside to the injury is that Tate’s passing game improved leaps and bounds as he threw for 26 TDs (as opposed to 14 in 2017). Healthy this season, Tate figures to become a dual-threat for a team loaded with returning experience.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Arizona is 5-1 SU and 5-0-1 ATS in Last Home Games.


    PLAY ON: at Arizona State (11/30)




    ARIZONA STATE (Offense - 8/4, Defense - 7/1, RPR: 44/103/14)


    TEAM THEME: SOPHOMORE BLUES


    Herm Edwards’ first year on the job started strong but ended a bit flat when the Sun Devils’ 7-6 record mirrored that of the 2017 squad. Nonetheless, they were picked to finish last in the Pac-12 South but finished second instead. The largest degree of improvement came on the defensive side of the ball where ASU improved by 8 points and 45 yards per game thanks to the extraordinary play of freshmen linebackers Darien Butler and Merlin Roberson. The offense loses two key components this season, though, in QB Manny Wilkins and star WR N’Keal Harry. The good news is workhorse RB Eno Benjamin returns along with most of the offensive line. Still, Year Two could have Herm singing the blues.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Sun Devils are 13-2-1 ATS as conference home dogs of more than 5 points.


    PLAY AGAINST: at Michigan State (9/14)




    COLORADO (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 6/1, RPR: 43/44/63)


    TEAM THEME: TUCK RULES


    New head coach Mel Tucker is a defensive guru who has never been a head coach in college football. However, Tucker served as interim head coach with Jacksonville in the NFL. His most recent stops were as a defensive coordinator at Georgia and an assistant head coach at Alabama. Meanwhile, Colorado will debut a new up-tempo offense in 2019 that will alternate pistol and play-action formations that will change on a dime behind dual-threat SR QB Steven Montez. It will be interesting to see if this new offense - led by future NFL WR Laviska Shenault - combined with an always reliable Tucker defense can carry the Buffaloes to only their 2nd winning season in the past 14 years.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After a 5-0 start to the season last year, Colorado closed out the campaign going 0-7.


    PASS




    UCLA (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 10/3, RPR: 34/75/16)


    TEAM THEME: BETTER INGREDIENTS, BETTER RESULTS


    A 3-9 season under first-year coach Chip Kelly was disappointing, but the Bruins showed signs of life from mid-October out when they averaged nearly 30 PPG over that span. UCLA also eclipsed its 2017 rushing totals by more than 400 yards last season. And therein lies the key to success: Kelly’s non-stop offense evolving into a more balanced attack to keep opposing defenses back on their heels. Big Chip’s mission this season is to reclaim a passing attack that compliments the ground game and this season, Kelly’s recruits fit his system (last year he inherited Jim Mora’s kids). With a year under his belt and a boatload of experience returning, look for Chip to fulfill that mission.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Kelly was 28-1 SU against sub .800 college football opponents until last season (3-5).


    PLAY ON: at Stanford (10/17)




    USC (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 79/21/118)


    TEAM THEME: CAUTIOUS CLAY


    Graham Harrell, the ex-Texas Tech quarterback who put up big numbers the last three seasons as the OC at North Texas, should prove to be a good hire for the Trojans this season. “I’m very excited for the 2019 season,” said a concerned Clay Helton, who has seen more than a third (10) of his overall coaching victories come over AP Top 25 teams, including 3 Top 5 wins. Things went terribly sideways for USC last season after witnessing a 19-game win streak at the Coliseum under Helton go down the tubes with three consecutive losses in their final three home games. It’s time for SO QB JT Daniels to deliver.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: 1965: the last time both USC and Florida State each failed to go bowling in the same season.

    PLAY ON: at California (11/16)





    UTAH (Offense - *7/2, Defense - 7/4, RPR: 21/3/81)


    TEAM THEME: BOWL ME OVER


    When starting QB Tyler Huntley was forced to miss last year’s Holiday Bowl with a broken collarbone, and leading rusher Zack Moss was kept out with a knee injury, it dropped head coach Kyle Whittingham’s record to 11-2 SU all-time in bowl games. Fortunately, with Huntley and Moss back, the Utes return a bevy of experience on offense. The bad news is the top four tacklers on defense have departed. The Utes can thank their lucky stars to have DE Bradlee Anae, a PAC-12 Defensive Player Of The Year candidate, back in 2019. The biggest holes this season, though, will be replacing two national-award winners in PK Matt Gay and P Mitch Wishnowsky. A favorable schedule finds no consecutive away games, thus paving the way to another bowl season for Whittingham and the Utes. Utah should prove to be the team to beat in 2019.


    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Kyle Whittingham is 17-5 SU against the other four Power Five conferences.


    PLAY ON: vs. Arizona State (10/19)
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