College Football Playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Another week of college football in the books and another week of the world knowing more about the teams. Now every team in these rankings has at least played a decent team, which is not something we could say last week. Without further adieu lets get to the rankings.

Playoff teams:

1. Clemson Tigers (4-0)

This week, Clemson struggled to pull away from Boston College, but finally did in the fourth quarter. They ended up winning the game 34-7. While it wasn’t pretty for most of the game, getting a win to add to their already impressive case to be number one is all that matters.

The wins over Auburn and Louisville both still look good, as both teams haven’t lost to anyone but Clemson. Add the road win over Boston College and the Tigers earn the number one spot. There will be more tests coming up, but so far their case is the best.

Clemson will be in the marquee matchup of the week against Virginia Tech, with ESPN’s College Gameday traveling to cover the game.

This week: at 12 Virginia Tech Hokies

2. Oklahoma Sooners (4-0)

The Sooners had a scare at Baylor this weekend. The Bears are without a win on the season and almost were able to upset Oklahoma. That would have been a terrible loss for Oklahoma’s resume, but they were able to come out of Waco with the win.

Because they didn’t play well this week in their victory, it hurts them, but their resume is still good. The win on the road over Ohio State will carry their case just like the opposite did for Ohio State last year. They will likely move down in these rankings in the near future, but for now stay in the second spot.

This week the Sooners will be off, which will let them prepare for Iowa State in early October.

This week: Bye

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

College Football Playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Bo Scarbrough (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Alabama sure does look like the best team in the country. This week they demolished Vanderbilt 59-0. The backups were in early and got a lot of run in. This is impressive because Vanderbilt had been one of the best defenses in the country and looked to be a solid team with their win over Kansas State the week before.

The reason why Alabama doesn’t move up is what happened in elsewhere in college football. Their big win of the season so far was over Florida State, but the Seminoles are now 0-2 and look like they might struggle down the stretch without quarterback Deondre Francois. The win over Colorado State is nice, while the win over Fresno State was easy.

Nick Saban’s team will be fine when they continue to win and will probably get to the top spot on these rankings at some point this season. Their focus now is SEC West for the next three weeks.

This week: vs. Ole Miss Rebels

4. Georgia Bulldogs (4-0)

The Bulldogs keep rising up these rankings with their good play. This week they blew out a good Mississippi State team 31-3. Mississippi State had moved their way into the rankings before the loss and afterwards stayed in the rankings, despite the loss.

Georgia also has a key win at Notre Dame, which looks better and better as the Fighting Irish keep winning. They also have a win over Appalachian State that will look better as the season goes on. Add it all up and the Bulldogs are one of the most impressive teams in the country.

More big games are coming for the Bulldogs, so they can move up even further if they continue to perform well.

This week: at Tennessee Volunteers

First four out:

5. TCU Horned Frogs (4-0)

College football playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Kenny Hill (Photo by tigerdroppings.com)

One of the biggest wins of the season happened this weekend when TCU upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The Cowboys were slowly climbing up these rankings, but the Horned Frogs were their first test and now TCU has shot up the rankings as a result of the win.

TCU has a couple of other key wins other than the one over the Cowboys. They beat Arkansas on the road and SMU at home. Arkansas is a team that will likely find a way to squeak out a bowl appearance, while SMU is a solid AAC team. With that resume the Horned Frogs have flown up the rankings.

They get a week off before getting back to Big 12 play.

This week: Bye

6. Michigan Wolverines (4-0)

Michigan has not played up to their potential yet this season and that trend continued this weekend. The Wolverines pulled away from Purdue in the second half to win the game 28-10. It may not look pretty yet, but they were able to win this game without starting quarterback Wilton Speight for the majority of the time.

The win over Florida is still the defining factor of the Wolverines’ case. Florida outlasted Kentucky to go to 2-1 this week, which makes the win still look good. The other wins over Air Force and Cincinnati are nice, but they need to start adding more if they wish to stay this high in the rankings.

This week the Wolverines will have off before they take on in-state rival, Michigan State.

This week: Bye

7. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0)

The Hokies continue to look good against lower talent-level teams. This week they beat Old Dominion 38-0. This won’t do much to help their case, but it is important to not stumble to these teams.

It doesn’t look like Virginia Tech has broken a sweat since their season opening win over West Virginia. The Mountaineers have worked their way back to the top 25, making it a good win for the Hokies. The problem is that they haven’t played anyone else of note.

Virginia Tech will get a big chance to move up the rankings this weekend as they play Clemson at home.

This week: vs. 2 Clemson Tigers

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-0)

The best game of the college football weekend was Penn State at Iowa. It came down to the last second and Trace McSorley threw a touchdown pass as time expired to seal the win. While Iowa wasn’t ranked, it is tough to play them on their home turf and it is a good road win.

Penn State is at number eight right now, because the win over the Hawkeyes is the only good one on the season for the Nittany Lions. Their win over Pitt looked like it could be a decent one, but now the Panthers have fallen to 1-3 after losing to Georgia Tech. The blowouts over Akron and Georgia State are nice, but that’s about it.

The next few weeks will be tough for Penn State, so they need to continue playing their best football.

This week: vs. Indiana Hoosiers

Next four out:

9. USC Trojans (4-0)

USC was able to grind out a win over a surprisingly decent Cal team. The Trojans were without Ronald Jones, but still came away with the win. They still haven’t been able to play as well as they can and Sam Darnold has made some mistakes, but college football is about surviving and advancing nowadays.

With wins over Western Michigan, Stanford and Texas, USC’s case is still murky. There are so many unknowns with the teams they have beaten that is hard to fully assess the Trojans. Texas lost to Maryland, Stanford has two losses already, Western Michigan has two losses and no wins over power five teams, while Cal has exceeded expectations.

The Trojans will get their chances to play some good teams coming up, as their mid-season schedule is tough.

This week: at 16 Washington State Cougars

10. Washington State Cougars (4-0)

The Cougars put a lot of points up on the board again this week and beat Nevada 45-7. The Wolfpack are not a very good team, so Washington State simply took care of business. Luke Falk looks to be back on track after getting injured and benched against Boise State.

Washington State’s win over Boise State looks a lot worse now that Virginia was able to go into Boise and beat the Broncos. It will still likely end up being a solid win, but the rest of their wins also aren’t that impressive. They are able to move up the rankings incrementally because of other teams ahead of them losing, but if that wasn’t the case, they may be outside these top 12 teams.

Falk and the Cougars will get their shot to prove to everyone what they can do when they get their fifth straight home game this weekend.

This week: vs. 5 USC Trojans

11. Washington Huskies (4-0)

College football playoff bracketology 9/24/17

Jake Browning (Photo by si.com)

The Huskies have finally broken through to the rankings after winning a game this week at Colorado. In a rematch of the Pac-12 Championship Game from last season, Washington turned it on in the second half and won 37-10. Colorado likely is a tad worse than last season, but they will still be a solid team.

That was the first solid win of the season for Washington, because they played so many bad teams in the non-conference schedule. They played an FCS team (Montana) to go along with Fresno State and Rutgers. Both of the FBS teams will struggle to get to three wins on the season.

Washington will get another easy game this weekend, but their schedule does get tough at the end.

This week: at Oregon State Beavers

12. Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-1)

There are a few other undefeated teams that could be in this slot, but they don’t have the same wins as the Bulldogs. This week they did get destroyed by Georgia, but that may say more about Georgia than it does Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs still have wins over LSU and Louisiana Tech, which are both solid wins. LSU barely stayed in the top 25 after they barely beat Syracuse. Louisiana Tech took South Carolina to the wire this weekend and should pick up a lot more wins as the season goes on after starting the season 2-2.

Everyone will be able to find out whether Mississippi State deserves this spot during their tough road test this weekend.

This week: at 12 Auburn Tigers

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Five things we learned in week 4 of college football

There were a lot of good games this week in college football, which makes it look like this season is going to be crazy for its entirety. Some of the top teams survived, some dominated and some got upset. At some point all teams will be tested and have their challenges, so if teams struggle and get the win, it still goes a long way. With all that said, here are the things we learned from this weekend:

1. Saquon Barkley is in the thick of the Heisman race

Barkley didn’t get himself into the Heisman talk last season because he didn’t have huge games against solid opponents. This year, however, he stepped up big time in Penn State’s first prime time game of the season. The Nittany Lions played Iowa and Barkley had over 300 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

In addition to the stats he put up, Barkley had some highlight spin moves, jump cuts and broken tackles, along with some key plays in key moments. With the bright lights on, Barkley made his case to move in the front of the Heisman talk with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

It will be hard to catch Mayfield with his impressive start to the season, but Barkley will have a few more chances to prove what he is worth. The Nittany Lions still have to play Michigan and Ohio State, with the possibility of a Big Ten Championship at the end of the game.

2. Alabama is going to be hard to stop in the sec

Five things we learned college football week 4

Damien Harris (Photo by timesnewpress.com)

Alabama played a team with a tough defense in Vanderbilt, but they made it look like Vanderbilt was an FCS team, winning 59-0. They look like the clear dominant team, in the SEC West with their offense and defense both clicking. Without many legitimate challengers at the moment, Alabama needs to make sure they don’t beat themselves.

Part of this equation is how the rest of the SEC has looked. Auburn and LSU both have had their disappointments as possible contenders to Alabama. Mississippi State looked like a team that could challenge in the SEC West, but they stumbled pretty badly at Georgia.

At this point of the season it looks like Georgia could be the biggest threat to Alabama and they won’t even meet unless both teams make the SEC Championship. If you have some money to lay down, put it on Alabama to make the CFP.

3. Florida State isn’t the same without Francois

Five things we learned week 4 of college football

James Blackman (Photo by tomahawknation.com)

When Deondre Francois went down for the season against Alabama, most knew Florida State was at risk of not making the College Football Playoff or winning the ACC. Unfortunately for the Seminoles it looks like it might get worse than that. This weekend they lost at home to NC State.

The Wolfpack are a solid team, but Florida State has more talent. Now the Seminoles are 0-2 and go into  a tough stretch of play. They have games at Wake and Duke and home contests with Miami and Louisville in their four weeks. It is unlikely that they will win them all, leaving them with a tough mountain to climb to get to another 9-3 season.

In order to salvage the season (by Florida State’s standards) they need to get James Blackman to progress at the quarterback position quickly.

4. Oklahoma State needs a defense

Five things we learned week 4 of college football

Gary Patterson (Photo by sportsrants.com)

Oklahoma State had a chance to keep themselves in the top ten, but lost to TCU 44-31. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs were ready to play and showed a nice balance of good offense and defense, which was the difference in the game. Now the Cowboys are going to slide out of the top ten and TCU will likely slide in.

The Cowboys may be able to outscore most teams, but when they come up against another competitive team, the defense needs to step up. Their toughest opponent for the remainder of their schedule will be Oklahoma. If they lose that game they are in real danger of missing the Big 12 Championship Game.

Maybe the lesson here is to never doubt Patterson and TCU, but if the Cowboys want to do something serious this year, their defense needs to step up.

5. It’s going to get crazy

With the exception of Alabama, every team has shown visible flaws and had some close calls. Clemson (until the 4th quarter), Oklahoma, Penn State, USC, Michigan, Florida, San Diego State and LSU are all top 25 teams that had a hard time pulling away from unranked competition. With Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Florida State and Oregon all losing, the top 25 will be more of a revolving door than in years past.

There a lot more big games to come that will shake things up. Some of these games are coming up this week. Here are the ones worth noting: 2 Clemson at 12 Virginia Tech, Duke at 14 Miami, 5 USC at 16 Washington State, Northwestern at 10 Wisconsin, Vanderbilt at 21 Florida, 7 Georgia at Tennessee and 24 Mississippi State at 13 Auburn.

Get locked in and ready, because the good games are still coming.

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Five things to watch in week 4 of college football

There have already been a lot of good games in college football with more coming. This week features the start of a lot of conference schedules for teams, which leads to a lot of competitive games and familiarity. Here are the five things to watch for this week:

1. Jalen Hurts vs. Vanderbilt’s defense

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Charles Wright (Photo by vucommodores.com)

As crazy as it sounds, Vanderbilt deserves to be in the top 25 right now. Preseason rankings are keeping some teams in that shouldn’t be, while the Commodores got snubbed. The reason that Vanderbilt has been so good this season is their defense. They have given up only 13 points on the season to some decent competition in Middle Tennessee and Kansas State.

Not only do the Commodores have the number one scoring defense in the country, they also have the ability to get after the quarterback. Charles Wright is tied for the lead in the country with 6.5 sacks. They also were able to limit Jesse Ertz’s effectiveness when they played Kansas State. Both he and Jalen Hurts are running threats, albeit different types of running threats.

Hurts can run with a little more speed than any quarterback Vanderbilt has played this season. He will have to be sure to not turn the ball over in this game and have to make a few plays with his arm. He was unable to do much with his arm against Florida State in the opener and this will be his second test against a solid defense. He will need to get the ball to Calvin Ridley as fast and often as possible, because he is a match-up nightmare.

While Hurts may win this matchup, it might be closer than a lot of people think.

2. Oklahoma State and TCU will light up the scoreboard

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Kenny Hill (Photo by wholehogsports.com)

In one of the best games of the weekend Oklahoma State and TCU will play in their first Big 12 game of their seasons. This has huge Big 12 Championship implications as the winner is in the front seat to lead one of the two championship spots.

Oklahoma State has rolled through its early season competition, putting up 54 points per game. Mason Rudolph looks like one of the few Heisman contenders who are living up to the hype. Their dynamic passing attack will be tough to slow down, especially with Rudolph throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Kenny Hill and the TCU offense may not be as good as Oklahoma State, but they are still averaging 49 points per game. Their attack is a little more balanced, which could create some problems for the Cowboy defense. Can Kenny Hill thrive against good competition? He’ll have a chance to outscore a great offense in this one and get TCU on the right path.

The over/under on this game is 71, but it could end up going way over if both offenses remain efficient.

3. Mississippi State’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s Front

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Martinas Rankin (Photo by twitter.com)

Another one of the big games of the weekend is Mississippi State vs. Georgia. A lot of questions about both teams will be answered like: Is Georgia really the best team in the SEC East? Can Mississippi State contend in the SEC West?

Martinas Rankin has had a wonderful season that includes a 99.9 pass block efficiency (according to CFB film room). The line is a solid unit overall, but the right side of the line has had some struggles. They will need to keep Nick Fitzgerald upright to allow him to scramble or find a receiver downfield.

Georgia’s defense is loaded with talent and looks like they can take over games. Lorenzo Carter is a great pass rusher, who has already accrued 14 quarterback pressures on the season. The task of slowing down Fitzgerald will be tougher than any other they have experienced this year, but they have a veteran defense that should be up for the challenge.

Although the skill position players may be more exciting to watch, the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.

4. Can a 31 year streak be broken?

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

The Kentucky Wildcats have not beaten Florida in 31 years. While it’s apparent that Kentucky is more of a basketball school, they have built a solid team under Mark Stoops. Last year they got blown out, but the two previous years they were right in the game until the end. With Florida having a lot of things going on (suspensions, felonies, hurricanes, new quarterback, etc.), this may be the year that Kentucky ends the streak and contends for the SEC East.

In their first two games the Wildcats looked sluggish. They beat Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky (FCS) by a combined 18 points. Kentucky did look much better on the road against South Carolina, winning by ten and controlling most of the game. There theme has been winning the turnover battle, something they will need to continue in order to get the win Saturday night.

Florida has had two tough games to start the season, with one being cancelled in between due to a hurricane. They lost to Michigan and beat Tennessee on a last second bomb of a touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland. While they are 1-1 they have shown they have flaws (mainly on offense) that can be exploited.

The Gators will likely extend the streak for another year at least, but this might be the best opportunity Kentucky has had.

5. The ending of Michigan State and Notre Dame

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

Photo by isportsweb.com

It might still be too early to tell how good these teams are this season after both struggled last year. Both teams should be better this season. This game one that seemingly always goes down to the wire. Since 2005, six of the ten games have been decided by one possession. Those games include two overtime games, a fake field goal for a win and much more.

Notre Dame was close to beating Georgia at home, but came up just short. That was the theme of last season for the Irish: losing games by one possession. This year they have half the amount of wins they had last year, by beating Boston College and Temple. The rushing part of the offense is working, while the passing game needs some work. The defense is much improved over last year, but that isn’t saying much.

The Spartans are 2-0 and beat a decent Western Michigan team that put up a good fight against USC. The offense hasn’t played a quality defense yet, but has put up over 30 points per game. They need to find some playmakers for this game. Defensively they have allowed more points than they would’ve liked so far, but still give up just 12 points per game.

This will be a big early season win for either school and it might just be one that fans want to flip on when it’s nearing its end.

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College Football Playoff bracketology 9/18/17

Fair warning: These rankings reflect only what teams have accomplished and do not take into account how teams were rated in the preseason. This has created some pretty crazy College Football Playoff rankings as teams who have lost haven’t had a chance to build up much of a resume and one win can take a team a long way up the list. Here are how the teams would and should rank through the eyes of the CFP committee:

In the CFP:

1. Clemson Tigers

College football bracketology

Dabo Swinney (Photo by coachingsearch.com)

Clemson got a big road win over Louisville on Saturday. Not only did they show their defensive dominance by slowing down Lamar Jackson, but they also showed the capacity for great offense. It is one of the best wins of the young season and moves the Tigers up to the top spot, for now.

The Tigers pair that big win, with their victory over Auburn. While Auburn struggled against Mercer, they are still a top 25 team for the time being. Those two wins get them the top spot after week three, as their win over Kent State doesn’t really bolster their case.

In the upcoming weeks they have to play Virginia Tech and Florida State, so they will be tested again.

This week: vs. Boston College Eagles

2. Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners started off slowly against Tulane, but finished strong, with Baker Mayfield turning in another good performance. Tulane is not a very good team, so it was important that Oklahoma look good against the Green Wave and they did.

With their win in Columbus over Ohio State still being the best win of the season, Oklahoma only slides one spot as a result of Clemson playing two good teams and winning. The two wins against very bad Tulane and UTEP teams is what hurts their case to be number one.

Mayfield and the Sooners won’t face much of a challenge in the next few weeks with games against Iowa State and Baylor.

This week: at Baylor Bears

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

This week Alabama won relatively easily over Colorado State, 41-23. The Rams are now 2-2, but are a solid group of five team that already has a win over Oregon State. It might be a little boring, but Alabama is doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

Like Oklahoma, the Crimson Tide are benefiting heavily from one win. The win over Florida State is another one of the best wins of the college football season. Alabama’s win over Colorado State is solid, while Fresno State looks bad this season, making that win a non-factor.

Nick Saban’s troops will take on the SEC schedule now, with some interesting games. They will be favored in all games for the next several weeks.

This week: at Vanderbilt Commodores

4. USC Trojans

USC was on the brink of defeat, but Sam Darnold led them back for a thrilling overtime victory over Texas. Texas is not a very good football team, but their defense showed up in this one. The Trojans look to be still finding out who they are, but got the win to stay in the top four of the rankings.

Their win over Stanford looks worse now that the Cardinal lost to San Diego State, but the Cardinal will likely bounce back. USC also beat a solid Western Michigan team in addition to their win over Texas this week. It may be a few more weeks before the Trojans find themselves, but they have a decent start to the season.

The Trojans go back to Pac-12 football in the coming weeks, which should feature some challenges down the road.

This week: at California Golden Bears

First four out:

5. Mississippi State Bulldogs

College football playoff bracketology

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by gridironnow.com)

Mississippi State looks like a threat in the SEC West after three weeks. This week they had no issues derailing LSU, winning 37-7. If you are undefeated and throttle a team as good as LSU, you deserve to be in these rankings.

This is a big jump for an unranked team (in the polls), but a win like that has to be rewarded. They also have beaten Louisiana Tech, who is a good C-USA team, so their case to be in these rankings isn’t totally based on one game. That game was also on the road, which makes their case more appealing.

They play a mammoth of a game this week against Georgia. Win that game and the Bulldogs can really move up these rankings.

This week: at 11 Georgia Bulldogs

6. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines haven’t looked good offensively, but got another win against Air Force this week. Air Force is a solid team that poses a different type of threat with the triple option offense. They need to find some offense for when the schedule gets tougher, but are in a great spot for now.

Michigan’s resume got bolstered when Florida edged out Tennessee. The Gators will likely move into the top 20 teams in the country. Their win over Cincinnati won’t be in the equation too much, as they struggled to beat Austin Peay (FCS) and Miami (OH).

Big Ten play will be tougher for Michigan, but they get a chance to ease into their schedule, playing some of the worst teams in the conference from last year to start.

This week: at Purdue Boilermakers

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia used this week to get more reps for freshman quarterback Jake Fromm, who was efficient. They beat Samford (FCS) easliy, but that won’t really do a lot to help their case to be in the CFP.

The Bulldogs benefit from every Notre Dame win after beating them in South Bend. The Fighting Irish beat Boston College, to keep it as a solid win for Georgia. Appalachian State has won both of their games since losing to Georgia. With two solid wins and a win over an FCS team, Georgia needs to capitalize in the coming weeks.

They start off SEC play this week and have a couple of tougher games in a row in Mississippi State and Tennessee.

This week: vs. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs

8. Vanderbilt Commodores

Yes, the Vanderbilt Commodores made the top 12 and deserve to be here. They just knocked off a very good Kansas State team to add to their cause. Their defense really preformed well, helping Vandy win 14-7.

With their good win this week, Vanderbilt also has a very good road win on the season. They went to Middle Tennessee and picked up a 28-6 win. Middle Tennessee is 1-2 on the season, but picked up a win at Syracuse and will do a lot of damage in the C-USA.

The problem for the Commodores? The upcoming schedule features: Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

This week: vs. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

 

Next four out:

9. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies flexed their muscle against East Carolina in week three. They crushed the Pirates 64-17 and are starting to look like a good challenge in the ACC for Clemson. Their young quarterback, Josh Jackson is living up to the hype so far and needs to continue to do so.

Virginia Tech wins over ECU and Delaware (FCS) won’t do anything to impress the committee and were games that were more about avoiding a loss. Their season opening win over West Virginia is still a good one, as the Mountaineers have continued to win, albeit against subpar competition.

There is one more non-conference game for the Hokies against Old Dominion before they jump into ACC play with a bang against Clemson.

This week: vs. Old Dominion Monarchs

 

10. Oklahoma State Cowboys

What moves Oklahoma State up over Penn State? They looked better against a common opponent, Pitt, and had to play them on the road, while Penn State had them at home. The Cowboys had Pitt beat at halftime with another great performance from Mason Rudolph.

The jury is still out on the Pitt win, but they should bounce back to make a bowl game. They also beat Tulsa, who had ten wins last season, and South Alabama on the road, a team who went to a bowl game last season. None of these wins are top tier wins, which is why the Cowboys are eighth.

Big 12 play starts this week for Oklahoma State, which should be tougher than the non-conference schedule.

This week: vs. 16 TCU Horned Frogs

11. Penn State Nittany Lions

College football playoff bracketology

Saquon Barkley (Photo by wikipedia.com)

Penn State had no problems with Georgia State and won easily. Georgia State is not a good football team this year, so this is another non-factor win for a top program. The good news is that Penn State looks very good against whoever they are playing in the first few weeks.

The Georgia State and Akron wins won’t do much for the Nittany Lions. Penn State will be rooting for Pitt to turn their season around and reel off some wins to make the resume look better. Ultimately it is a lackluster case to get into the CFP, despite being undefeated.

This week Penn State starts their gruesome Big Ten schedule, that will only get tougher in a few weeks.

This week: at Iowa Hawkeyes

12. Washington State Cougars

The Cougars avoided a loss to Oregon State and in fact put up a lot of points. They won 52-23 and Luke Falk, their quarterback, got back on track with his six touchdown performance. Mike Leach has the offense rolling and ready for more challenges ahead.

It is nice to have a win over Oregon State, although they are pretty bad. The win over Montana State also won’t move the meter for committee members. Washington State’s win over Boise State is what is carrying them right now, so they need the Broncos to keep winning.

The Cougars should be able to beat Nevada pretty easily before jumping back into Pac-12 league play.

This week: vs. Nevada Wolfpack

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 3

The third week of college football has reminded fans why we love the sport. It is crazy, dramatic and unpredictable. In all of the football played, here are five things we learned:

1. Kelly Bryant is capable of leading Clemson to the ACC Championship

Clemson’s defensive line has gotten a lot of the press in the opening weeks and they continued their dominance with four sacks of Lamar Jackson. Really the whole team has played well, but there were some questions on whether quarterback Kelly Bryant could step up against good competition. On Saturday night he proved that he can.

Bryant threw for 316 yards and a touchdown, while running for two more scores. The most impressive thing about his performance was how he completed a lot of throws down the field. He utilized his offensive weapons, which he has a lot of. If he can continue his progression Clemson will be even tougher to beat.

The remaining schedule has a few tough games left, including matchups with Virginia Tech and Florida State. Even if the Tigers drop one or two of their games, they should still be able to make the ACC Championship Game and possibly the College Football Playoff.

2. Baker Mayfield has a huge lead in the Heisman race

College football week 3

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Mayfield has the most signature moment of the season with his flag-plant at Ohio Stadium. He also has led his team to the best win of the season thus far. With 715 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions he is on the right track to make himself this year’s Heisman winner.

Against Tulane Mayfield threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns to continue his great pace. The Big 12 struggles with defense, so he will likely put up some ridiculous numbers in the next few weeks. He will have a chance to have more big moments against Oklahoma State later in the season.

Part of the reason why Mayfield is so far out ahead is because of Lamar Jackson’s loss to Clemson. There is still a lot of football to play and Jackson, along with others, have time to play catch up with Mayfield.

3. The SEC West is murky behind Alabama

Week 3 college football

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by al.com)

Alabama is off to a great start to the season with a big win over Florida State. They also took care of business against Fresno State and Colorado State. There were some contenders for the SEC West, but they have all already lost. This doesn’t mean teams can’t improve and compete, but right now Alabama looks like a runaway favorite in the SEC West.

Last week, Auburn lost to Clemson and this week they struggled to pull away from Mercer. LSU was thought to be another one of Alabama’s contenders, but they got destroyed at Mississippi State this week. Arkansas lost to a good TCU team, but looked very bad doing so. Texas A&M lost to UCLA and had a horrendous first half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. The new trendy contender is Mississippi State, but only time will tell if they can hold up.

While many people predicted Alabama to win the SEC West and more, it is looking like it might be easier than expected. It is unlikely an SEC East team will be able to knock them off in the SEC Championship game either.

4. Don’t kick to Dante Pettis

Week 3 college football

Dante Pettis (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Dante Pettis is a dangerous wide receiver for the Washington Huskies, but is also a star in the return game. He returned a punt 77 yards against Fresno State for a touchdown and reminded everyone that they are better off kicking the ball out of bounds.

The punt return touchdown against Fresno State was the eighth of his career, which ties an NCAA record. Seeing how much success he has had, it would not be a surprise to see him break the record soon. While Washington hasn’t played anyone of note yet this season, his punt return ability could prove to be an x-factor in a much bigger game down the road.

Hopefully teams don’t learn and continue to kick to Pettis so that football fans get to see more highlight reel plays from the dynamic playmaker.

5. It’s going to be a wacky season

College football week 3

Chase McGrath (Photo by nbclosangeles.com)

Texas was supposed to lose by a lot, they took USC to overtime. Memphis beat UCLA in a thrilling game. Kansas State traveled to Nashville and lost to Vanderbilt. Stanford went to San Diego and lost to the Aztecs. Mississippi State upset LSU. Florida beat Tennessee on a last second bomb. Northern Illinois upset Nebraska in Lincoln. Are you not entertained?

This was seen as a rather mundane weekend going into it after two good weeks of football, but it turned out to have a lot of good games. More of this will go on as the season progresses. The main lesson is to be very careful of road games and who you schedule on the road.

With how crazy the football season has already been, watch out for a lot of surprises still to come.

 

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College Football Playoff Bracketology 9/12/17

There was a few games that had College Football Playoff implications this weekend. The standings are all getting shaken up. Some teams have moved out in front, but even teams with a loss will have a chance to redeem themselves and make the College Football Playoff. Here are how the teams would and should rank through the committee’s eyes:

Playoff Teams:

1. Oklahoma Sooners

This may shock some people, but the committee really values big wins on the road. Last year Ohio State got in the CFP for beating Oklahoma in Norman. Now Oklahoma gets the same type of win in Columbus to bolster their resume.

While there first win against UTEP won’t do much, beating Ohio State on the road is the most impressive win this season. They may not be able to hold this spot for long. The Sooners are depending on Ohio State stepping up their game and winning some big games to make this win look really good for them.

The start to the season has been good for the Sooners and the schedule gets easier from here on out. Big games will come down the road against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, so for now they can’t lose any trap games.

This week: vs. Tulane Green Waves

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama moves down a spot as a result of Oklahoma’s big win, but is still in a great spot. This week they demolished a sub-par Fresno State team. That won’t do much to impress the committee, but are still carried by their win in week one.

The Crimson Tide had a very good win against Florida State in week one, but it was a neutral site game as opposed to a true road game. If they had won the game at Florida State they may have been able to stick in the top spot. Alabama will get their chance to move back up to the top spot.

It shouldn’t be too challenging for the Crimson Tide the next few weeks, as their schedule is back loaded.

This week: vs. Colorado State Rams

3. USC Trojans

College Football Bracketology 9/12/17

Sam Darnold (Photo by si.com)

In a weekend of big games, USC stepped up to beat Stanford, who was ranked number 14 at the time. Sam Darnold made some great throws and now the Trojans look like the favorite to win the Pac-12.

USC started off sluggishly against Western Michigan in week one, but the Broncos are still an ok team. The win over Stanford gives their case for the College Football Playoff the burst it needed. Not only did they beat Stanford, but they controlled the game and made it look relatively easy, which will impress the committee.

They don’t play any really good teams for a few weeks, but the Trojans need to play like they did against Stanford and not like they did against Western Michigan.

This week: vs. Texas

4. Clemson Tigers

No Deshaun Watson, no problem. The Tigers played Auburn, who had a lot of hype coming into this game. Clemson’s defense took over and won the game, while the offense really struggled. That will need to get better in the future, but for now Clemson has put them in the best position out of the entire ACC to make the College Football Playoff.

Clemson beat Kent State in week one and doesn’t do much for their resume. The win over Auburn is another one of the more impressive wins of this weekend that helped propel Clemson up the rankings. Even with an offense that didn’t play particularly well, Clemson looks like one of the best teams in the country.

How is Clemson rewarded for beating Auburn? They get to take on Louisville.

This week: at 14 Louisville

First four out:

5. Georgia Bulldogs

College Football Playoff Bracketology 9/12/17

Jake Fromm (Photo by onlineathens.com)

The Bulldogs have played two quality teams in the first two weeks of the season, which is more than just about anyone else. Georgia had an impressive showing in South Bend, escaping with a one point victory. They are one of the few teams that also have a big victory on the road this far in the season.

In week one the Bulldogs beat Appalachian State, who is one of the best group of five teams in the country. The circumstances around their week two victory means a lot too. Winning a game at Notre Dame with a quarterback in his first start is incredible. When the team gets Jacob Eason back from injury, they should really have things rolling.

They will have to wait a few weeks to really challenge themselves again, but the Bulldogs look like a runaway favorite in the SEC East.

This week: vs. Samford Bulldogs

6. Michigan Wolverines

Michigan did not play well this weekend against a below average Cincinnati team, but pulled away in the fourth quarter. While there is some cause for concern in the future, Michigan has taken care of business so far. If they keep winning they can stay in contention for the CFP.

The win over the Bearcats doesn’t help the Wolverines too much. Only time will tell how big their win over Florida will be. The Gators look sloppy so far, but if they can rebound, Michigan’s stock will go up. The Wolverines will need to clean up their turnovers or they will be in trouble in the future, but as of now their resume is solid.

The Wolverines will play a solid Air Force team this weekend and better bring their best. Their schedule is manageable for the next few weeks before they play Michigan State.

This week: vs. Air Force Falcons

7. Virginia Tech Hokies

The Hokies didn’t improve their resume this weekend by beating Delaware, but they got the win nonetheless. Finding Justin Jackson at quarterback has been huge for Virginia Tech. If he can continue his development, the Hokies can crash the CFP party.

Justin Fuente’s team is still being carried by their week one win over West Virginia, but will have more opportunities to play good teams down the road. They will have an easy time the next two weeks before their big game against Clemson, which they are fortunate enough to have at home.

This week: at East Carolina Pirates

8. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State was able to win comfortably against Pitt this weekend. While we don’t know how good Pitt will be with a lot of turnover on their team, it was still a good win in a rivalry game. The offense is rolling with over 40 points per game and will be hard for most defenses to stop.

The Pitt got the Lions to 2-0 after they beat Akron in week one. That game doesn’t matter too much because Akron will struggle this season. Penn State has one more nonconference game before heading into the Big Ten schedule, which will be tough.

This week: vs. Georgia State Panthers

Next four out:

9. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys have beat two FBS teams this season, which is more than some can say. Both these teams went to bowl games last season, making them ok wins. This week they beat South Alabama on the road, thrashing the Jaguars for 44 points.

The South Alabama win was good, but they also beat a ten win Tulsa team in week one. Tulsa had a ten win season last year and figure to be competitive again this season. The schedule is tougher in the next few weeks and the Oklahoma State defense will be challenged.

This week: at Pittsburgh Panters

10. Tennessee Volunteers

Another team on this list carried by one win over the other is Tennessee. This week they blew out Indiana State, who isn’t even a very good FCS team. This game did allow the Volunteers to get some more valuable experience for their young players who are stepping into new roles.

Tennessee’s in over Georgia Tech was a thriller and still a very good win. They will be tested more in the coming weeks including their big rivalry game with Florida, but their win in week one helps them get to this spot in the rankings.

This week: at 24 Florida Gators

11. LSU Tigers

LSU manhandled Chattanooga this weekend to improve their record to 2-0. The offense seems to be getting off on the right foot, but the Tigers haven’t been adequately challenged yet. The defense looks as good as ever with only ten points given up in the first two weeks.

While they are 2-0, with a good win over BYU, the win is looking less and less impressive. The Cougars are now 1-2 and will likely be 1-3 after this week. LSU will need to pick up some impressive wins to move up a lot on this list.

This week: at Mississippi State Bulldogs

12. Washington State Cougars

College Football Playoff Bracketology 9/12/17

Jamal Morrow (Photo by spokesman.com)

In the most thrilling game of week two, Washington State outlasted Boise State in an exciting three overtime game. Impressively Washington State had to come back from 21 points down with a backup quarterback. They are setting themselves up to be in the thick of the Pac-12 North race.

The first week of the season had the Cougars avoiding an FCS upset against Montana State. They start their Pac-12 schedule this week and with Stanford’s loss to USC, have a chance to get an early lead over contenders in the division.

This week: vs. Oregon State Beavers

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College Football Bracketology 9/6/17

The first week of the college football season is in the books and some teams made big impressions already. While there is still a lot of football left to be played, it is never to early to start looking at what teams are looking like contenders. These rankings will be heavily weighted on who the teams played and beat already, which takes precedence over preseason rankings or future schedule. Here are the rankings:

Playoff Teams:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

College football playoff bracketology september 6

Calvin Ridley (Photo by usatoday.com)

The Crimson Tide challenged themselves in week one and came away with a victory beating Florida State 24-7. While they didn’t necessarily blow out the Seminoles, Alabama controlled the game. They look like the team to beat in college football, but still have their fair share of things to clean up.

The offense had trouble in the game, albeit against a very good Florida State defense. Jalen Hurts threw for under 100 yards and the running game totaled 173 yards. In the future getting Hurts throwing the ball better will be imperative to the success of the offense.

Alabama’s defense performed really well with a lot of new faces on the field. In addition to that Calvin Ridley had a solid start against a very good secondary. Keeping him involved in the offense is going to make Alabama’s offense dynamic.

This Week: vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State played a trap game at Indiana on a Thursday night in one of the biggest games in Hoosier football history. They started slow, but finished strong. People who think that Indiana is the team of five years ago, won’t think the win is impressive, but they are a solid Big Ten team now that has made two straight bowl games.

The offense had a good ground game with J.K Dobbins rushing for 181 yards in his debut game. J.T. Barrett showed flashes of his former self, but ultimately his receivers let him down and there were some throws he should have made. Defensively, the run defense was great and the pass rush was unrelenting. The problem is their coverage, as they gave up over 400 yards through the air.

This Week: vs. 5 Oklahoma Sooners

3. Michigan Wolverines

And here is where your typical rankings differ from looking at teams from a College Football Playoff perspective. These rankings will fluctuate. Michigan scheduled tough in week one by playing Florida. Florida is still a solid team, even though they had a lot of players unavailable for this game.

Jim Harbaugh’s defense stepped up and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown, as Florida’s defense was the only unit to find the end zone for the Gators. Wilton Speight was pretty rusty, but doesn’t need to do much if the defense keeps performing and the running game stays potent. They rushed for 215 yards and will need to continue doing so.

This Week: vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

4. Virginia Tech Hokies

As everyone can see, the theme of these rankings is: who’s resume is better? Virginia Tech took center stage on Sunday night with a big win over West Virginia, who started off the year as a top 25 team and will likely end up back in the rankings at some point this season.

Josh Jackson had a great debut as quarterback of the Hokies with 336 total yards and two touchdowns. If he can continue producing it can be a great season for Virginia Tech. Cam Phillips looks like he is ready to be a playmaker with his 138 yards and touchdown in the first game of the season. The defense gave up a lot of yards, but took the bend and not break approach, as they allowed just 24 points.

This Week: vs. Delaware Blue Hens

First Four Out:

5. LSU Tigers

LSU was another team that was without a lot of their players due to suspension, but they still had a dominant performance against BYU in a “neutral site” game that was played in New Orleans. BYU is always a tough team, but did struggle against Portland State in their first game last week.

The Tiger defense looks to be elite as they allowed 97 total yards in the game, headlined by the fact that BYU had negative yards on the ground. Danny Etling looked sharp completing 14 of his 17 passes, but the running game took a lot of pressure off of him. Time will tell if the offense is really more dynamic than in years past.

This week: vs. Chattanooga Mocs

 

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

College football playoff bracketology september 6

Mason Rudolph (Photo by charlotteobserver.com)

The Cowboys got their offense rolling in their 59-24 victory over Tulsa. Tulsa isn’t a big name program, but has had two straight bowl appearances. They will likely be going bowling again and may approach nine wins on the season if they play up to their potential, making it a solid win for Oklahoma State.

Mason Rudolph, James Washington and Justice Hill all did their parts and the offense is going to be explosive all year. The defense, as always, is going to be the Achilles’s heel of Oklahoma State, as they allowed over 400 yards of offense. If the defense can get some key stops this season, the Cowboys may find themselves in the College Football Playoff.

This Week: at South Alabama Jaguars

7. Georgia Bulldogs

Some experts said to watch out for the Appalachian State Mountaineers to beat the Georgia Bulldogs in week one, but Georgia handled them. The problem is that they lost quarterback Jacob Eason to injury and he won’t be able to play for a while. They still played a good team and won and deserve this spot in the rankings.

Jake Fromm came in to replace Eason and played decently, but there is an obvious talent gap between the two. Both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel had nice starts to their seasons on the ground. The defense gave up fewer than 300 total yards and showed flashes of being dominant later on in the season.

This Week: at 24 Notre Dame

8. Maryland Terrapins

The question you have to ask is: How good is Texas? They have a lot of high expectations and good players to go with their new head coach Tom Herman, but they were a 5-7 team last season. It was still impressive that the Terrapins were able to beat the Longhorns in Austin.

Maryland may not be on many other rankings, but they have a big win on their one data point for the committee to look at so far. Tyrone Pigrome was solid in his first start, although he is now likely to miss the rest of the season,  and Maryland was able to get the running game going. The defense almost gave up 500 yards and will need some work, especially at stopping the pass.

This Week: vs. Towson Tigers

Next Four Out:

 

9. USC Trojans

It was sloppy at times, but USC came out with a win over Western Michigan. P.J. Fleck is gone, but there are still some talented players left in Kalamazoo for the Broncos. USC will need to step up their level of play, but they got the win, which is most important.

Sam Darnold and the passing game wasn’t good, while Ronald Jones was good in the running game. Jones had three touchdowns to lead the Trojans’ offense. Defensively, USC needs to stop the run better, as they allowed 263 rushing yards to Western Michigan and will be tested in that regard in the coming weeks.

This Week: vs. 14 Stanford Cardinal

10. Tennessee Volunteers

In one of the many thrilling games of the big weekend in college football, Tennessee’s comeback in their opener really finished the weekend out with bang. Beating Georgia Tech in Atlanta is no small feat, but now the Volunteers must keep this up in order to save this spot in the rankings.

While the Yellow Jackets are a good rushing team, Tennessee has some real holes to fill. They allowed 535 yards rushing to the Georgia Tech and over 650 total yards, not to mention 41 points. Offensively John Kelley and Quinten Dormady both did well in their first major action of their careers. If they can keep this going, it could help them compete for the SEC East.

This Week: vs. Indiana State

11. South Carolina Gamecocks

College Football Playoff Bracketology September 6

Deebo Samuel (Photo by charlotteobserver.com)

No this team isn’t even in the AP poll this week, but South Carolina had a good win over NC State in the opener and that is what this list is about: resume. Will South Carolina be moved off of this spot at this time next week? They most likely will, but as of now they have one of the best wins in college football.

While the offense or defense wasn’t dynamic one way or another, the Gamecocks made the most of their opportunity and came out with a victory. Deebo Samuel deserves a lot of credit with his three touchdowns, including one return touchdown. The running game was not viable in this matchup. The defense was much the same, good against the run, but needs a lot of work against the pass.

This Week: at Missouri

12. UCLA Bruins

What a comeback for the UCLA Bruins. Down by 34 points, the Bruins had to get something cooking and that is when Josh Rosen started heating up. It was a tale of two halves for UCLA, but they got a very impressive win over Texas A&M to open up their 2017 season.

Josh Rosen started off looking like something was wrong with him and then went off. He threw for 491 yards and four touchdowns. He needed to do every last bit of that to get the win because the running game wasn’t working for them. On defense UCLA couldn’t stop the run, but were fortunate that Aggie quarterback Nick Starkel got hurt, because Kellen Mond was terrible. He completed three of 17 passes. All the credit to UCLA for making the plays to come back though.

This Week: vs. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors.

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College football week one picks

The college football season is about to have it’s big kickoff weekend. Like last season Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger of the DiTullio and Doerger College Sports Show will be making their picks for every FBS college football game this season. Records will be kept track of to see who picks better by the end of the season. Let’s take a look at the picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Florida Intl UCF Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Presbyterian College Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake Forest
Austin Peay Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy UC
Buffalo Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minn
Tennessee State Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St Ga State
Elon Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Rhode Island Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI C. Michigan CMU
Tulsa #10 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK St Ok St
Holy Cross Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Uconn Uconn
North Dakota Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#2 Ohio State Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Ohio St OSU
Florida A&M Arkansas War Memorial Stadium , Little Rock, AR Arkansas Arkansas
Louisiana Monroe Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Sacramento State Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID Idaho Idaho
New Mexico State Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona St ASU
Fordham Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Charlotte Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU EMU
Central Connecticut Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Syracuse Cuse
#8 Washington Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Washington Washington
Navy Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL Navy Navy
Colorado State Colorado Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO Colorado St CSU
Utah State #9 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
Boston College Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU BC
Kent State #5 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
Akron #6 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
Maryland #23 Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Texas Texas
Ball State Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Illini Illinois
Wyoming Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Bowling Green Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Mich St MSU
Missouri State Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Mizzou
California North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC UNC-CH UNC
Bethune-Cookman #18 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Miami
Youngstown State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Portland State Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR OSU Oregon St
VMI Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
NC State South Carolina Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC NC State NC State
UTEP #7 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Margin of victory 37 46
#11 Michigan #17 Florida AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Michigan Michigan
Temple Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
Nevada Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
William & Mary Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA UVA Virginia
Alabama A&M UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL UAB UAB
Troy Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Stony Brook #19 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Eastern Washington Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX TTU TTU
Kentucky Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS Southern Miss UK
Charleston Southern Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss St Miss State
Western Michigan #4 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
NC Central Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
James Madison East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECTC ECTC
Albany Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
Appalachian State #15 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
Miami (OH) Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Miami (OH) Miami
Lamar North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX N Texas N Texas
Houston UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA Houston
Eastern Kentucky Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Northwestern State Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA La Tech La Tech
Stephen F. Austin SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
UMass Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Coastal Coastal
Liberty Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Baylor Baylor
SE Missouri State Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Kansas Kansas
Hampton Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
SE Louisiana Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
Houston Baptist Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX Texas St Texas State
Central Arkansas #20 Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS K State K State
Georgia Southern #12 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
#16 Louisville Purdue Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN Louisville Louisville
South Alabama Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss Ole Miss
Cal Poly San José State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA SJSU San Jose
#3 Florida State #1 Alabama Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA Alabama Alabama
Abilene Christian New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM New Mex NM
Arkansas State Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Jackson State TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
Northern Iowa Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Iowa St Iowa St
Vanderbilt Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU Vanderbilt
Grambling Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Tulane Tulane
Southern Utah Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Ducks Oregon
UC Davis San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
Howard UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV UNLV
BYU #13 LSU Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA LSU LSU
Incarnate Word Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno Fresno
Montana State #24 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St WAZZU
Northern Arizona Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Arizona
Western Carolina Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawai’i Hawaii
#22 West Virginia #21 Virginia Tech FedExField, Landover, MD VT VT
Texas A&M UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA A&M TAMU
#25 Tennessee Georgia Tech Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GT GT
Gameday Guest Picker (Atlanta) Matt Ryan Julio Jones

 

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Five things to watch for in the first week of college football

The college football season is officially under way. Five games are in the book from the opening weekend, but now comes the official first weekend of college football. As we look to a great Labor Day weekend of football, here are five things to watch:

1. Derwin James’ return

Five things to watch in the first week of college football

Derwin James (Photo by zimbio.com)

The biggest matchup of the weekend is Florida State and Alabama in Atlanta. College Football Playoff implications are already on the line in this game.

James missed most of last season with injury, but might be the best player in all of college football, if healthy.Not only will he have to play big for Florida State, but he will have to be at 100%. He could be the X-factor in this monumental event.

Nick Saban has said he regrets not letting Jalen Hurts air it out more last season and feels like that may have cost them the National Championship. That means Saban will try to get the ball rolling early with Hurts. Hurts isn’t the greatest thrower, so James needs to step in and make plays when passes go awry. He will also have to show up in run support, as Alabama will likely control the line of scrimmage.

If Florida State has any chance to beat Alabama, James has to prove he is the best player in the country. Even if he does it may not be enough. No matter the result, both teams could be destined to meet again in the College Football Playoff.

2. Danny Etling against BYU

Five things to watch in week one of college football

Danny Etling (Photo by tigerrag.com)

LSU has a big game against BYU this weekend. It may not be as big as many thought after the Cougars struggled to show their supremacy against Portland State. Even so, they are a decent test for an LSU team that needs to find out if their offense is improved from the past few years.

Coach Orgeron named Danny Etling the starting quarterback after finding a little success with him last year. Etling is not a game changing player, but did help LSU finish the season out strong.

With playmakers Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural and Leonard Fournette gone, Etling will need to step up this season to make the LSU offense good. He will have help from running back Derrius Guice and wide receiver D.J. Chark.

While he hasn’t been the best quarterback in the past, Etling is getting his first chance at a full season as a starter. Ultimately this game can give everyone a clue on how well Etling and the Tigers will play this season and if they can compete for a playoff spot. If Etling does not show proficiency at the quarterback position, LSU will top out at eight wins for the season.

3. How will Florida deal with suspensions?

Five things to watch for in college football week 1

Antonio Callaway (Photo by seccountry.com)

Michigan and Florida open the season against one another in Arlington. Both teams have a lot of players to break into their line ups the game should show us how talented (or not) these teams are.

Ten players have been suspended for Florida for this game. This includes top-notch offensive players in wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett. The Gators are really going to be relying on one of their quarterbacks to step up in this game. Florida will also be without a lot of their depth in this game, meaning that the players need to stay fresh and uninjured.

This game has shifted from one that was supposed to be a toss up, to now being in Michigan’s favor, even though they return just five starters from last year. Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting will be tested, but not as much as if Florida players had stayed out of trouble.

4. Can Virginia Tech find a quarterback?

Five things to watch in college football week 1

Josh Jackson and Justin Fuente (Photo by virginiatech.sportswar.com)

The Hokies play against West Virginia on Sunday this weekend and have a lot of returning talent. They expected to have more coming back, but Jerod Evans decided to go pro early. He went undrafted and probably should still be leading the Hokies.

If Virginia Tech wants to be successful this season they need to find a quarterback. They have a quality team that is capable of making the ACC Championship Game, but need that one void in their roster filled in order to do so. There has been a three man quarterback race between Josh Jackson, Hendon Hooker and A.J. Bush.

Freshman Josh Jackson looks to be the front-runner to take over the job, but A.J. Bush, the Nebraska transfer, also could be the guy. Both players have the potential to be dynamic playmakers and both will get their shots to take the reins.

Justin Fuente did a good job of getting Evans ready to play last season, so if he can do the same with these quarterbacks, the sky is the limit for the Hokies.

5. Butch Jones on the hot seat

Five things to watch in college football week 1

Butch Jones (Photo by rockytopinsider.com)

It’s no secret that Jones will be fired if Tennessee has a sub-par season. Last year they were hyped up to have a great team, but ended up disappointing with a 9-4 record. If quarterback Josh Dobbs was’t there to bail the Volunteers out of a few games, they could have been eerily close to .500.

Now the Volunteers must move on without Dobbs. The offense also lost Alvin Kamara, Jalen Hurd and Josh Malone. Defensively Derek Barnett is gone along with a few other key players from last year’s team.

While Jones won’t be fired after the first week of the college football season, this could be the start of the season that results in his termination. Tennessee plays Georgia Tech on Monday and better be ready for a fight in Atlanta. The Vols will be without Darrin Kirkland Jr. most likely who suffered a knee injury in practice last week.

Georgia Tech have kicked Dedrick Mills off the team. He was the leading returning rusher this season. This will have some impact on the game, but overall the triple option attack of the Yellow Jackets will still be strong.

If Jones can’t find a way to win this game, it could be a long season in the SEC for the Volunteer fans.

 

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Ten best non-conference games for college football in 2017

The college football season is just about to start and most teams will start with non-conference games to start their seasons. There are some great non-conference games this season that not only feature matchups of teams with a lot of history, but also games that will impact the College Football Playoff. Here are the ten best non-conference games for the 2017 college football season:

10. 22 West Virginia vs. 21 Virginia Tech (Landover,MD), Sep. 3

Best Non-conference games

(Photo by manhattanhokies.com)

This is on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend to help kick off the college football season. There will be no NFL games to compete against, so this game will have a lot of viewers.

Both teams came out in the AP Top 25 poll that was recently released. This game may be a little overshadowed by some other big games in the opening weekend, but it will have a huge impact on the college football season.

West Virginia finished last season with a 10-3 record and get new life at the quarterback position in Will Grier. In the first year of the new Big 12 Championship Game, the Mountaineers could beat out Oklahoma or Oklahoma State for a spot. With a win in the non-conference against a good team like Virginia Tech, the Mountaineers can catapult their way to the College Football Playoff if a lot of things go their way.

Virginia Tech won the ACC Coastal Division last season and will likely do so again this season. They have a great back seven of the defense, which will be challenged by Grier. The offense will give us the first view of Josh Jackson who will be a good dual-threat quarterback for the Hokies.

9. Notre Dame at 14 Stanford, nov. 25

Best Non-conference games

One of many close games in the Stanford-ND rivalry happened two season ago. (Photo by youtube.com)

Notre Dame may have missed out on the AP Poll for the Preseason, but have a lot of intriguing games considering their history and talent. They still received 65 votes, which means if they win in week one they will be in the top 25. This rivalry game happens on the last weekend of the regular season, so Notre Dame will have to win some games to help earn this spot on the list.

It is a make it or break it year for Brian Kelly. If the season is going poorly this could be his last game at Notre Dame. If the Fighting Irish can play up to their potential and only have two or so losses heading into this game, a win in this game could get them into a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. For Stanford they could be in a position where they have won the Pac-12 North and this game comes before the Pac-12 Championship game, or they could be trying to make their resume look better because they lost the Pac-12 North.

This game features a good offensive line at Notre Dame against a very good Stanford defense, that ranked 18th in the country in scoring last season. If all goes as planned for both schools, some of the bigger names on the team could be fighting for draft position or for postseason awards. Mike McGlinchey can cement his status as a top tackle in the NFL Draft, while Bryce Love of Stanford can rack up more rushing yards.

8. 15 Georgia at Notre Dame, Sep. 9

Best non-conference games

Notre Dame Stadium will be packed for the Georgia game. (Photo by und.com)

SEC teams don’t often play Notre Dame, but two staffers met at a seminar and now we have two historic teams playing once this year and once in 2019 in Athens. If both teams win in week one, this will be a game between ranked opponents, making it even bigger.

Georgia is on a quest to win the SEC East and doing so is very possible. If they get to the SEC Championship with only a loss or two they could be in a “win and you are in” situation for the College Football Playoff. That is easier said than done, but a win at Notre Dame would be a nice feather in their caps. Jacob Eason, Nick Chubb and the Georgia offense will have a chance to light up a Notre Dame defense that struggled last season. The defense can help set the tone on what could be a great season.

The Fighting Irish will likely be in the AP poll in the second week and be tested with a very good Georgia team. Brandon Wimbush will be thrown into the fire against a Bulldog defense that returns 10 starters. The matchups to watch in this game are endless for a variety of different reasons: How many yards can the Georgia offense get? How will Wimbush fair against a good Georgia defense? How will the NFL talent on the Notre Dame offensive line do against the NFL talent in the Georgia front seven?

Even if this game becomes a blowout for one side or another, it will give fans a good idea of where each program is headed this season.

7. 4 USC at Notre Dame, oct. 21

best non-conference games

No matter what side you root for, everyone remembers the “Bush Push”. (photo by insidesocal.com)

USC will take a break from their Pac-12 schedule to play this rivalry game with Notre Dame. Yes, Notre Dame is in a third straight game on this list, but they do play a great non-conference schedule with their 12 games to fill.

The Trojans want to make the College Football Playoff this season, that is for sure. Sam Darnold could be the next in a long line of Heisman Trophy winners out of USC. He has a chance to light up the scoreboard at Notre Dame Stadium and do it in front of a national audience.

After the Georgia game, the Fighting Irish have a chance to go on a win streak. They play Boston College, Michigan State, Miami (OH) and North Carolina before their two weeks to prepare for USC. Optimally they would be 6-0 at that point, but they have more talent than everyone, but Georgia. If they are 5-1 with a loss to Georgia this game would have huge implications. If their record is anything less than 4-2 at this point of the season, Kelly is likely looking at a new job.

One interesting battle to watch from this game is Iman Marshall and Jack Jones covering Equanimeous St. Brown of Notre Dame. All will be playing on Sundays in a few years and will like the challenge of playing against one another.

6. 23 Texas at 4 USC, Sep. 16

USC certainly didn’t take it easy in the non-conference schedule. They get a rematch of the BCS National Championship Game, arguably the greatest one of all time, when Vince Young ran in the game-winning touchdown and unofficially ended the USC dynasty under Pete Carroll.

The Trojans are a little bit ahead of the Longhorns right now in terms of getting back to a National Championship, but this game will be big nonetheless. With their aspirations to make it to the College Football Playoff, USC needs to take care of business out of conference. A key to this game is that they play Texas a week after Stanford and will likely be banged up from a physical game.

Texas has hired Tom Herman to get them back to their winning ways. They have the talent on the roster, but needed a man in charge to get them where they want to go. Shane Buechele will get a chance to show his improvement against a USC defense that should be pretty solid. Malik Jefferson is a star at linebacker for the Longhorns and will want to play well against a good offensive unit like USC to improve his NFL Draft stock.

5. 17 Florida vs. 11 Michigan (Arlington, Texas), Sep. 2

Best non-conference games

Jim Harbaugh and Jim McElwain will square off in week one. (photo by youtube.com)

The second best game of the opening weekend features two teams that finished with nine wins last season and two teams that struggled on offense. Both will try to have their defenses lead them to victory again in 2017.

Florida made the SEC Championship Game last year and have the capability to do it this year as well. They have talented players on their defense, but only four returning starters, so new stars will get their chance in a big game. The offensive line returns four starters, but the thing that they have lacked is a quarterback as Feleipe Franks tries to give them one. They will have to deal with seven players being suspended for the misuse of financial aid, including star wide receiver Antonio Callaway.

The Wolverines have problems of their own to worry about. They only have one returning starter on defense and four on offense, which struggled against good competition last year anyways. Their hope is that Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting pans out. Wilton Speight needs to take a step forward on offense, while the defense needs star recruits like Rashan Gary to step up.

This game will provide the chance to get to know a lot of the new faces on both of these teams and also allow fans to see if these teams have what it takes to win their divisions.

4. 3 Florida State at 17 Florida, Nov. 25

Best non-conference games

Florida State celebrating after a victory over Florida (Photo by cbssports.com)

At this point in the season, Florida State may be trying to stay in contention for the College Football Playoff, while Florida may be getting ready as the SEC East representative in the SEC Championship Game. Whether this rivalry game has as much riding on it as we expect is unknown, but it will be a good way to cap off the regular season for both teams.

The Seminoles may have one or two losses at this point in the season, but could still make the College Football Playoff. Deondre Francois will have already been tested by the defenses of Alabama, Clemson and Louisville, so this will provide him with another opportunity to see what he can do.

Florida lost to Florida State last year in this game and then had to prepare for the SEC Championship the next week. They will have a good defense again, but will need Franks to step up in this game especially. The Gators will need him to have a career day against the likes of Tarvarus McFadden and Derwin James.

This game will likely have a lot riding on it, as it did last season and will also feature a lot of talented players going up against each other once again.

3. 12 Auburn at 5 Clemson, Sep. 9

Best non-conference games

Gus Malzahn and Dabo Swinney will square off again. (Photo by seccountry.com)

Clemson’s first big test as reigning champs is taking on Auburn, a team that has a lot of high expectations themselves. Auburn is looking to get back in the National Championship picture and can use this game to show people that they are for real.

The Clemson defense will likely be very good again with seven returning starters and a lot of good recruits waiting to fill in. Offensively Deshaun Watson will be replaced by Kelly Bryant (or Hunter Johnson), an this will be the first time to shine for a new quarterback. It won’t be an easy task for the new quarterback because Auburn was seventh best scoring defense in the country in 2016 and returns eight starters.

Auburn looks to Jarrett Stidham to get them back to their high-scoring ways on offense. He was successful at Baylor before transferring. With six starters on offense back, he should have a lot of the tools he needs to make things happen. The defense will be good again and will be trying to force an inexperience quarterback into turnovers.

The fun part of this game to watch is Stidham and the Auburn offense against the talented Clemson defense. If Stidham can live up to the hype, it could be a great game.

2. 7 Oklahoma at 2 Ohio State, Sep. 9

Best non-conference games

Baker Mayfield and J.T. Barrett will go head to head a second time. (Photo by thefootballbraniacs.com)

This game last year featured a lot of trash talk leading up to it, but Ohio State escaped Norman victorious, 45-24. With both teams having legitimate College Football Playoff aspirations, it makes it easy to call it one of the top two non-conference games of 2017. This will give fans a chance to see how Lincoln Reilly does in his first big game as head coach of the Sooners.

Ohio State lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but returns 15 starters and a lot of talent. J.T. Barrett will try to get back on track with new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. He had a great game against the Sooners last year and will likely do so again in 2017. The defense has an inexperienced secondary that will be tested by Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield should put up points, but needs new weapons to step it up after losing a lot of key players to the NFL and graduation. His offensive line returns to protect him, which is a huge factor in this game. Defensively, Oklahoma isn’t great and needs that to improve for this game in particular. They have talented players, but because they can’t stop that many teams, they need to force turnovers.

The players to watch in this game are the ones in the trenches. Oklahoma features a good offensive line, including Orlando Brown. Ohio State has a good defensive line with Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Nick Bosa. A lot of NFL talent will be going at it in this game.

While this game doesn’t rule a team out of College Football Playoff contention, Ohio State’s margin for error would be less and Oklahoma would have a lot of help needed with a loss.

1. 3. Florida State vs. 1 Alabama (Atlanta,GA), Sep. 2

Best non-conference games

Deondre Francois and Jalen Hurts. (photo by sbnation.com)

This is a game that we could be seeing again in the College Football Playoff. Both teams are that good. It is the perfect way to kick-off the season and both teams will be trying to make a statement.

Alabama is coming off of a loss to an ACC team in the National Championship Game. Nick Saban is going to try to make the ACC pay in this one. Jalen Hurts is back, but won’t be able to run as much on this very athletic Florida State defense. He will have to use his arm, which was average at best last year. He will have help from Calvin Ridley on the outside. The defense will continue to plug in players like they do every season and will once again be elite.

Florida State has a lot of tough games this season, so winning this one would be a huge relief and give them a chance to make a mistake later on in the season. The offensive line will be tested by the good Alabama defense. They have to protect Deondre Francois long enough for him to make good throws. On defense the Seminoles will try to make Hurts beat them with his arm, which will be tough with McFadden and James in the secondary.

Watching Calvin Ridley and the Alabama receivers try to get separation from the Florida State secondary will be fun to watch in this game.

Thank the football gods for this game. It is a great game in week one and should get everyone hyped for a great season.

 

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