NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Louisville and Mississippi State will play in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl and have some quality players going head to head. Some of these players will be making plays on Sundays in no time. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl:

Louisville Cardinals

Lamar Jackson, QB

Jackson has always been a dynamic athlete, but some doubted he could play quarterback at a high level. He has improved his accuracy and worked his way up to being a first round pick. He has thrown for 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% passing.

He is 6’3″ and 211 pounds which is decent for a NFL quarterback. He will need to add some weight if he plans on scrambling as much as he did in college. Not many teams will be able to pass up on his athletic ability.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Geron Christian, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Geron Christian (Photo by

Christian has been a starter since he walked on Louisville’s campus. The junior shows flashes of being a good tackle, but is inconsistent. Christian has been recognized as an All-ACC lineman. He could elect to go back to school to show he can be more consistent, which will raise his stock.

At 6’6″ and 314 pounds, he is good size for an NFL tackle. He is a prime candidate for the middle to late rounds of the draft, who teams will draft and try to work with.

Pojected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jaire Alexander and LB James Hearns have decided to skip the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Hearns’ draft range: 2nd round-4th round. Alexander’s draft range: 1st round-3rd round.

Mississippi State Bulldogs 

Martinas Rankin, OT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl

Martinas Rankin (Photo by

Rankin has been a star for Mississippi State after transferring in from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. He has shown a proficiency for pass blocking for the Bulldogs and has a lot of experience clearing holes for Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams.

He is 6’5″ and 302 pounds, which is decent size for a tackle. His physicality and run blocking ability will be questioned at the NFL level. Rankin will likely go in the first few round of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Johnathan Abram, S

Abram started his career at Georgia, before transferring to Mississippi State. The junior has 62 total tackles, three tackles for loss and three passes defended this season. That is a solid start for his career as a Bulldog, but Abram probably needs another year of development.

He has good size for an NFL safety at 6’0″ and 216 pounds. Abram doesn’t have the best ball skills or production, which is a concern.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

*CB Jamal Peters is missing the bowl game for personal reasons. Peters’ draft range: 4th round-6th round.


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2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

The 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl has the ACC, in Louisville, and the SEC, in Mississippi State, going head to head. This game features two of the best rushing offenses in the country, but the Bulldogs will be without some key pieces. Here is the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview:

Louisville Cardinals (8-4)

2017 TaxSlayer Bowl preview

Lamar Jackson (Photo by

The Cardinals went 8-4 in the regular season for the second straight season. This year, after only losing to bowl eligible teams, the Cardinals beat Purdue, Florida State, Virginia and Kentucky for their solid wins. They were unable to beat any top quality teams, but had a solid season.

Lamar Jackson leads one of the best offenses in college football that averages 39 points per game. The running game is great, averaging 249.9 rushing yards per game. Jackson is their leading rusher with 1,443 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground. Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon are the other primary rushers and both have over 400 yards. When in doubt Jackson is able to pick up key first downs with his legs.

Jackson has really improved his accuracy this season, which has led to a good season as more than a runner. He has 3,489 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions on 60.4% completion. Although he didn’t have the hype this year that he had last season, he is still an elite player in college football. Jackson’s top targets are Jaylen Smith, Dez Fitzpatrick and Seth Dawkins. Smith leads the way with 873 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The defense has been just below average, allowing 27.1 points per game. They rank 53rd against the run and 78th against the pass. Linebacker Jonathan Greenard and defensive back James Hearns have combined to get pressure on the quarterback with seven sacks each.

23 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)

2017 Taxslayer bowl preview

Aeris Williams (Photo by

Mississippi State at times looked like one of the best teams in the country, but were inconsistent. They won eight games, including four games over bowl eligible teams. These big wins included victories over LSU, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky and Texas A&M. Their head coach, Dan Mullen, decided to leave the school for Florida and will not be coaching the bowl game.

The offense scores 32.1 points per game, but is losing its best player in Nick Fitzgerald. He was a key part of the running game that averaged 249.6 rushing yards per game. Running back Aeris Williams is the teams leading rusher, but fed off of having Fitzgerald in the backfield as a running threat. Williams has 1,019 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. Backup quarterback Keytaon Thompson has shown he can run the ball with 299 yards and three touchdowns. More will be expected out of him in this game.

Thompson has had struggles completing passes at just 45.7% completion. With that, he only has 261 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. The passing game will likely not do too much damage in this game. There isn’t a go-to-guy in the receiving core, but five receivers have over 200 yards, but less than 300 on the season, with Keith Mixon having the most.

Their defense allows 20.4 points per game this season and has been good. They rank 23rd against the run and 12th against the pass. Defensive lineman Montez Sweat has been one of the best pass rushers in the country with 9.5 sacks.


This would’ve been a really interesting game if Fitzgerald had been healthy. Without him, Mississippi State’s offense will be lost. While their defense is good, going up against Lamar Jackson will not be easy. Jackson will carry his team to victory.

Louisville Cardinals 33 Mississippi State Bulldogs 18


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College basketball preseason top 25: 20-16

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? This is the second installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 25-21 click here.

20. St. Mary’s Gaels

College basketball preseason top 25

Jock Landale (Photo by

St. Mary’s made the big dance for the first time since 2013 last season. There run ended in the round of 32, but it was a big step just to get back to the dance. With most of their scoring returning, the Gaels should make it to the second consecutive NCAA Tournament.

Leading scorer Jock Landale returns after averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. He will receive serious consideration for WCC Player of the Year. Calvin Hermanson is the second leading returning scorer and plays on the wing. He lights up the scoreboard, which is a theme for this team.Evan Fitzner is another returning starter in the frontcourt, who will start at power forward, even though he only played 15 minutes a game. He can stretch the floor as a three point shooter. Kyle Clark and Tanner Krebs will provide experience and depth.

Emmett Naar will be the sole point guard this season and brings back a good all around game. Starting at the two guard will be Cullen Neal who is a senior transfer from Ole Miss.This is his third college team as he played for three seasons at New Mexico before becoming a Rebel He has over 1,000 career points already and brings a lot of experience. They aren’t very deep at the guard spots so Jordan Ford, Tommy Kuhse and Kristers Zoriks will need to step up.

The Gaels have a good enough team to beat Gonzaga in the WCC and also do some damage in March.

19. Minnesota Golden Gophers

College basketball preseason top 25

Nate Mason (Photo by

Last season Minnesota was one of the biggest surprises in all of college basketball. They had eight wins two seasons ago and last year improved to 24 wins. They did end up losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but with a lot of players returning the Golden Gophers’ future looks bright.

Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch are two great inside players for Richard Pitino. Murphy is more of an inside scorer and rebounder, while Lynch is a great defender who blocks a lot of shots. Lynch was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. Eric Curry played 19.9 minutes per game as a freshman and will have to eat up a lot of minutes again and be effective. Davonte Fitzgerald had a torn ACL last year, but is figuring to make impact this season.

The backcourt returns a lot of experience. The best player on the team is point guard Nate Mason. He averaged 15.2 points and five assists per game and is a great floor general. Amir Coffey is a lengthy wing who started all 33 games as a freshman and should improve in his second season. Dupree McBrayer is the best three point shooter on the team at 41.6% and played 27.8 minutes per game in his sophomore campaign last year. Not too many other guards play a lot of minutes so those three will need to stay out of foul trouble or the Golden Gophers will have to rely on freshmen.

While they likely won’t beat out Michigan State in the Big Ten, Minnesota will be a really solid team that will make another NCAA Tournament.

18. Louisville Cardinals

College basketball preseason top 25

David Padgett (Photo by

Louisville got knocked out in the round of 32 last season, but a lot has happened since. Rick Pitino is out and they lost incoming star prospect Brian Bowen because of the Adidas scandal. The Cardinals still have a lot of good players returning, but David Padgett has a lot of work ahead of him coaching this team.

The Cardinals’ best player is Deng Adel, who is a good wing athlete. He does a little bit of everything for Louisville and will need to be the go to guy this season. Adel needs to improve his three point shooting and if he can, he will be one of the best players in the ACC. Anas Mahmoud and Raymond Spalding are the only returning interior player, who provide some experience, but they won’t wow anyone. They will be asked to defend, make open interior shots and rebound. For depth, their talented freshmen will need to step up. Malik Williams, Jordan Nwora and Lance Thomas need to provide an impact down low, while transfer Dwayne Sutton has to provide depth on the wing.

Quentin Snyder has been at Louisville for what seems like forever. He is the floor general that needs to be the leader of the team as they go through this difficult time. He averaged 12.4 points and 4.1 assists per game, which will need to improve this year. V.J. King was a great recruit who saw some minutes as a freshman, but will need to be a star for the Cardinals for the team to be successful. Depth will be a question as recruits need to step up and make a difference.

The Cardinals may not be eligible for the NCAA Tournament when the FBI investigation is all said and done, but Louisville has a talented roster that is deserving of being ranked.

17. Northwestern Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Bryant McIntosh (photo by

Northwestern finally made the NCAA Tournament in 2017. They also got their first ever win and now are looking for more. The Wildcats return four players who averaged over 30 minutes per game last season and have good veteran leadership to rely on.

Dererk Pardon returns on the inside for Northwestern and with improvement can average a double double, even though he is a little undersized. Barret Benson will see an increased role this season after averaging eight minutes last season. Vic Law is a talented wing that can get to the basket and knock down threes. He also is the teams second leading rebounder. His defense is a game-changer. Gavin Skelly is a senior that will get minutes an help out more on the inside.

Senior point guard Bryant McIntosh can score and set up his teammates with 14.8 points and 5.2 assists per game. He will be flanked by shooting guard Scottie Lindsey. Lindsey will get to the basket and is the second leading returning scorer behind McIntosh. Isiah Brown will be asked to do more as a sophomore as the lone returning depth piece at the guard spot. Anthony Gaines is a freshman that will need to fill in some minutes for the Wildcats.

Back to back NCAA Tournaments is a probability for a team that took so long to get one appearance in the big dance.

16. Purdue Boilermakers

College basketball preseason top 25

Isaac Haas (Photo by

Purdue broke through to the Sweet 16 last season. They lost their double-double machine in Caleb Swanigan, but have a lot returning to help them be successful once again. The Boilermakers are coming off a big offseason of representing USA in the World University Games and came away with a silver medal.

The middle of the floor is anchored by Isaac Haas. He hasn’t been the prime time player yet in his Purdue career due to Swanigan and A.J. Hammons getting more minutes in years past. He will have to use his 7’2″ frame to score over shorter defenders and grab all the rebounds lost by the departure of Swanigan. At the four spot Vince Edwards is a very versatile player that can shoot the three and get to the basket. He is the perfect power forward for college basketball and averaged 12.6 points per game last season. Jacquil Taylor was redshirted last year due to injury and will need to provide depth.Matt Haarms is bigger than Haas and will back him up at center, while Eden Ewing and Aaron Wheeler will be asked to step in and provide depth.

Perimeter play is not something Purdue will be lacking. Carson Edwards, P.J. Thompson, Dakota Mathias and Ryan Cline all return. Carson Edwards is a great defender that had a good freshman season. Thompson, Mathias and Cline all knock down shots from deep. Mathias adds senior leadership and a good perimeter defender to the team. With these four players, the Boilermakers are in great hands.

The sky is the limit for this Purdue team even without Swanigan. Matt Painter will have this team ready for another run in March.

For teams 15-11: Click here.

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Five things to watch for in college football week 6

This week may not feature the greatest matchups, but there is still going to be a lot of good football played. Here are five things to watch this weekend:

1. Lamar Jackson vs. NC State’s Defense

College football week 6

Bradley Chubb (Photo by

Lamar Jackson has had another great start to the season and leads a Louisville team that still has just one loss. They travel to Raleigh to take on the NC State Wolfpack on a tricky Thursday night game.

Jackson has 1,636 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He has also been completing passes at a higher rate this season with a mark of 64%. While he got knocked off the Heisman race a little bit with his early loss to Clemson and other players stepping up, he is still an electric player. If Jackson is on, he is hard to stop.

NC State’s defensive line boasts one of the best players in the country Bradley Chubb. Chubb already has 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season. He will be a lot to deal with for the Cardinals’ front. The Wolfpack have only given up 428 yards on the ground and with there good pass rush, should create a pretty good challenge for Jackson.

A lot is on the line for both teams, as Louisville still only has one loss and NC State just jumped into the AP rankings this week.

2. Big 12 Shootout

College football week 6

Will Grier (photo by

Two of the most high powered offenses will be facing off against each other this weekend. TCU and West Virginia are both trying to make the Big 12 Championship Game this season and this game could have a lot to say about it.

The Horned Frogs have Kenny Hill at quarterback who has had a bit of a resurgence this season. He is the main reason that TCU is averaging 47.8 points per game. He has dual-threat abilities and a completion percentage of 76.2%. They bring a solid balance of running and throwing the ball that can make any defense struggle.

West Virginia does most of its damage through the air. They are seventh in the country in passing yards per game and second in points per game. Quarterback Will Grier is deserves some thanks for that. Grier already has 1,374 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He spreads the ball around well, making the offense difficult to stop.

With two offenses like this going at it, look for turnovers to be the key factor in the game. Be careful when changing the channel on Saturday, because if you hop off of this game, you may miss a couple scores.

3. Rivalry Games

College football week 6

Jim Harbaugh (Photo by

While rivalry week is still a long ways off, there are a few rivalries that are going on this weekend. The extra emotion that comes with these games can make the games closer than they should be. Never underestimate any result when it comes to rivalries.

Florida State versus Miami was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma and will now take place this weekend. Miami is on a roll, having just come off a big win over Duke. Florida State got their first win of the season over Wake Forest. The Seminoles have owned Miami in recent years, but this year it could change. Florida State hasn’t looked particularly well since losing starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the season. With all that being said, this could be Miami’s year to do some damage.

This weekend also features the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry that has produced some crazy finishes in the past. Michigan State still looks like a team that needs some work, but are already doing better than last year. Michigan looks shaky on offense, but the defense has some real playmakers. John O’Korn will get the start at quarterback, while Wilton Speight is injured. This game might end up being low scoring, but the intensity will be there as always.

4. Can Bryce Love keep it up?

College football week 6

Bryce Love (Photo by

Bryce Love has had a fantastic start to the season and could win the Heisman if he keeps it up. He is averaging 11.1 yards per carry on the season and is a force to be reckoned with. No one has been able to contain him thus far.

This week Stanford has a tough road game at Utah. If the Cardinal want to make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game, they likely need to win out. The Utes have a good defense that allows just 17.8 points per game and 87 rushing yards per game.

Love will have to bring his “A” game for Stanford to win because the quarterback play hasn’t been great. If he keeps up at this pace, he could break a lot of records.

5. Washington State in their first road game

College football week 6 preview

Luke Falk (Photo by

The Cougars are 5-0 and up to 11 in the AP rankings. With a weird schedule this season, Washington State hasn’t had to play a road game yet. A lot is known about the Cougars, but they can’t be true competitors for the CFP until they prove they can win on the road.

On Saturday they travel to Eugene, Oregon to take on the Ducks. Oregon was looking like a much improved team, but then starting quarterback Justin Herbert got injured. He is out four to six weeks with a broken collarbone. This game might not be as good as a result, but with the Cougars not having proven anything on the road yet, it could still be close.

This game gives Washington State a chance to be 2-0 in Pac-12 play and get on a roll before they have to face the likes of Stanford and Washington.

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Five coaching candidates Louisville should try to hire

Rick Pitino is now on administrative leave, which leaves the University of Louisville in a bind. Practices start soon, so the Cardinals need to find someone to take over as the head man. Here are five options Louisville should explore for their head coaching vacancy, whether they take the job is another issue.

1. Tom Crean

Five coaches Louisville should try to hire

Tom Crean (Photo by

Crean may be one of the most likely big time coaches to consider the Louisville job. He is unemployed after being fired by Indiana. With Louisville still being a big time job and having a lot of money, Crean could be enticed to take the job.

With his two stops at Marquette and Indiana, Crean has posted a 356-231 record. He also has made a Final Four and has some tournament success, despite falling off at Indiana. At Indiana, Crean had to come in after Kelvin Sampson was let go for recruiting violations. This will be the same type of thing he has to deal with at Louisville. He fits the mold of what Louisville wants in a coach.

Crean’s options to coach for the coming years will likely be at lower level programs than this. He may see Louisville being down as a great opportunity to get back in the game at a big conference school.

2. Mick Cronin

Five coaches Louisville should try to hire

Mick Cronin (Photo by

It is a bit interesting, but according to Vegas, Cronin is the odds on favorite to take the job. Cronin has ties to Pitino, but wasn’t involved with the Louisville program when any of NCAA violations or FBI investigations happened. Would he take the job after they got rid of one of his mentors? That is the big question.

Cronin is another coach that fits the mold of what Louisville wants. He’s never had any major NCAA violations, which has to be the biggest thing that the Cardinals are looking at right now. When Cronin started at Cincinnati he had to reboot the program. Bob Huggins was fired, Andy Kennedy was interim coach for a year, but Cincinnati decided to hire Cronin. The program was depleted of talent and Cronin has led them back to being a solid program.

With experience working with a program that is at its lows, Cronin would be a good hire. Unfortunately, Louisville would have to try and pry him from his hometown city and his alma mater.

3. Chris Mack

Five coaches Louisville should try to hire

Chris Mack (Photo by

Chris Mack is at a perennial Big East power in Xavier, that has been getting to the NCAA Tournament and winning in it for years. Louisville will have to prove they still have what it takes to compete in the years to come if they want to land Mack.

Mack has turned down a lot of big time jobs at power conferences to stay at Xavier. The Louisville job might be a little different for him. His wife is from Louisville. Louisville can likely pay him more than Xavier. He also knows the recruiting landscape of the Midwest, something that is needed to thrive at Louisville. Getting Mack would be a best case scenario for Louisville.

The problem with Mack as a candidate is that he too, is going to need to be pried from his hometown and alma mater that he has had success at.

4. Buzz Williams

Five coaches Louisville should try to hire

Buzz Williams (Photo by

Buzz Williams is a rather unique name that has shown up in the coaching rumors. The question has to be: Why would Williams leave one ACC school for another? It has to be the money that Louisville will be willing to pay him, because he certainly has a better chance at postseason play at Virginia Tech.

He did a good job at Marquette before jumping ship to Virginia Tech. He has helped build a solid program at Virginia Tech, which isn’t easy to do. With his no non-sense attitude it could be a good fit. He also doesn’t have any ties to Pitino which will be seen as a plus.

In the end it will be really hard to convince Williams to leave Virginia Tech, but that’s what people said when he was the head coach at Marquette.

5. Scott Davenport

Five coaches Louisville should try to hire

Scott Davenport (Photo by

Davenport is the least known person on this list, but might be the most likely to take the job. He is currently the head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville and has had a lot of success at the NCAA Division II level.

With only a short time until the season starts, Louisville needs to act fast. Hiring someone already in the city would take away a lot of the logistics of hiring a new coach. Davenport has proven he can win at a lower level, but may want to scratch that itch to prove he can win at the highest level. It makes it even nicer that he wouldn’t have to uproot his life to move to another city.

This may be the best opportunity Davenport gets to get to the next level. Will he take it or stay at Bellarmine?

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A look at Rick Pitino’s time at Louisville

Rick Pitino has been placed on administrative leave on Wednesday as a result of an FBI investigation on corruption, which found that a player accepted $100,000 to attend the University of Louisville. Reportedly an Adidas executive was behind the payment to the player in order to get the prospect to attend a university that wore their company’s apparel. The player involved is thought to be Brian Bowen based on the time frame of the alleged scheme.

The Rick Pitino era at Louisville is over, and Louisville will assuredly be scrambling to get their team ready for the season. However, he did have a significant history at Louisville that is worth looking through for one reason or another.

Return to college basketball

After coaching Kentucky to a second straight National Championship game in 1997 (they won in 1996, lost in 1997), Pitino left for the NBA. It was a move that surprised most, as he had a talented team returning to Kentucky, who just happened to end up winning the National Championship.

Pitino had complete power of the Boston Celtics from 1997 to 2001, but was unable to build a winning team, amassing a 102-146 record. He resigned in January of 2001. This was his second stint in the NBA after leaving the New York Knicks to coach at Kentucky despite being successful with the Knicks.

With two NBA jobs that Pitino had grown frustrated with, he needed to find a new place to coach. Louisville had a legendary coach, Denny Crum, who retired after the 2000-2001 season and had a void. Pitino took the job and drew the ire of many Kentucky fans.

Successes at Louisville

Rick Pitino

Louisville’s 2013 National Championship team (Photo by

It took a while to get the ball rolling at Louisville. The team didn’t make the NCAA Tournament until 2003 and couldn’t get past the second round of the tournament for the first two years they were able to make it under Pitino.

That all changed in 2005. Pitino had a stacked roster that was looking to do a lot of damage in the NCAA Tournament. The team was led by Francisco Garcia, Larry O’Bannon and Taquan Dean. They won Conference USA and were given a four seed by the selection committee. They ended up losing to Illinois in the Final Four, but getting Louisville to the Final Four for the first time since their 1986 championship was a huge step for the program.

The Cardinals struggled again in the next season, but that was due to inexperience. By 2008 and 2009, the team had reloaded with more rounds of recruits. Both of these teams were able to make the Elite Eight before losing to powerhouses North Carolina and Michigan State respectively. Both of these teams were led by Earl Clark and Terrence Williams, who both wound up getting shots in the NBA.

After two more down years of being knocked out in the first two rounds, Louisville was once again able to rebound. In 2012, they made the Final Four behind the play of Kyle Kuric, Russ Smith, Chris Smith, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and others. Most of the team returned with a mission for the 2012-13 season.

The team added Luke Hancock and Montrezl Harrell to the mix of returning talent, but lost Kuric and Chris Smith. Russ Smith and Siva both elevated their levels of play and created havoc on defenses. The Cardinals beat Michigan in the National Championship to win the school’s third title.

With a Sweet 16 and an Elite Eight appearance the next two years, Louisville didn’t quite have the talent to make it back to the Final Four, but the teams did feature good players like Harrell, Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear and Chris Jones.

Not much good had happened for Louisville since then. During this time frame, Pitino was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. He is the only coach to take three different Universities to Final Fours and has two National Championships.

Failures at Louisville

Rick Pitino

Katina Powell (Photo by

One of the biggest on-court failures (and there weren’t many), for Pitino was his success against the Wildcats. He played Kentucky 18 times as the head coach of Louisville and won only six games, none of which were in the NCAA Tournament. Both of the times they met in the NCAA Tournament Kentucky advanced, once on their way to a National Championship and once to an appearance in the NCAA Championship Game.

The record against Kentucky isn’t that bad, considering what the two programs are/were in the Pitino era, but even Pitino would’ve liked to do better against his old school. Unfortunately this is probably the lowest of importance in terms of the Pitino failures at Louisville.

The more personal problem that happened to Pitino during his Louisville tenure was an extortion case. It started when he had an affair with a woman, who turned out to be Louisville’s equipment manager’s wife. She didn’t have health insurance and needed an abortion so Pitino paid her $3,000 to have the abortion. She later tried to extort him, which is when Pitino reported the extortion.

While this was more of a personal issue, Louisville could have fired him for “acts of moral depravity or misconduct that damages the university’s reputation,”, which was allowed in his contract.

More recently, Louisville has had some other issues. In a book by Katina Powell, she alleged to have helped set up parties where incoming recruits could interact with strippers at a campus dorm. The goal was to entice recruits to come to campus. Powell even admitted to organizing “side deals” for sex between the strippers and recruits.

Louisville banned themselves from postseason play for 2016 because of these findings. Pitino was suspended for the first five games of ACC play this season, although that now looks like it won’t be happening. The Cardinals will have to go through recruiting limitations and fewer scholarships as well due to this specific scandal.

Louisville and Pitino Now

Rick Pitino

Quentin Snyder (photo by

Now that the corruption case is being thrown on top of the stripper scandal, the NCAA may come down even harder on Louisville. This is pretty unprecedented, but severe penalties will likely be in store for the Cardinals. Fielding a competitive team will be hard for years to come.

Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich are both now on administrative leave and will likely be fired before too long. Louisville needs a new AD and head coach, but who wants these jobs? Especially for the basketball coach, it will be hard to win games with the sanctions, and they may be banned from postseason play for years. The program is now in shambles.

Not only is the program now in shambles, the 2013 National Championship may be vacated, along with all other results from Pitino’s tenure, depending on how far back the findings go for both these cases.

Now 65 years old, Pitino is likely done coaching. There can’t be too many programs that take him on with all the violations he has racked up during his tenure at Louisville. The NCAA could also ban him from coaching, much like they did Jim Tressel after Ohio State’s football program got in trouble.

His legacy has certainly taken a huge hit due to all of the scandals. Now he has still stated he didn’t know about the stripper scandal or the corruption case, but at the very least he failed to control his program that had multiple problems under his tenure.

While Pitino will always be remembered for his full court presses, his successes at Kentucky and Louisville and his inability to stick in the NBA, he will also be thought of as the man who was responsible for the basketball program when all of this went down.

The FBI investigation is ongoing, so watch for more big names to be implicated. Four other assistant coaches have been caught and there will assuredly be more to come.

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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

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

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

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

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 week 3 picks

The first two weeks of college football have had some surprises and big games to go along with a hurricane causing games to be cancelled. Rob Doerger and Joe DiTullio continue their picks for every single FBS college football game. Here are the week three picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
New Mexico Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Illinois #22 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL Illinois USF
UMass Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple Temple
Arizona UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX Arizona Zona
Air Force #7 Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
#9 Oklahoma State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA OK State Ok State
#25 UCLA Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis UCLA
Northern Illinois Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Louisiana Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Texas A&M TAMU
Kansas Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Delaware State West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
Iowa State Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Iowa St ISU
Connecticut Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Uva UVA
Furman NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Baylor Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
Coastal Carolina UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL Coastal Coastal
Northern Colorado Colorado Folsom Field, Boulder, CO Colorado Colorado
Utah State Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake
Tennessee Tech Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Ball St Ball St
#10 Wisconsin BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT Wisconsin Wisconsin
#16 Virginia Tech East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC VT Va Tech
SMU #20 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
#23 Tennessee #24 Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Tennessee Florida
Central Michigan Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY C. Mich Syracuse
North Carolina Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom UNC
Notre Dame Boston College Alumni Stadium , Chestnut Hill, MA ND ND
Morgan State Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Rutgers Rutgers
Middle Tennessee Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
Florida Intl Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana IU
North Texas Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Mercer #15 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
Purdue Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Missouri
Army #8 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St OSU
Oregon State #21 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
Tulane #2 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
North Carolina A&T Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC Charlotte Charlotte
Colgate Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Bethune-Cookman Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
Kent State Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Colorado State #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
#12 LSU Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS LSU LSU
Southern Mississippi Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA USM USM
Southern UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
Louisiana Tech Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Oregon Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Ducks Oregon
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Arkansas St Ark St
Idaho Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Alabama A&M South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Tulsa Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Appalachian State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX App St App ST
Idaho State Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Georgia State #5 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
Margin of Victory 54 42
Samford #13 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
#18 Kansas State Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Kansas St Kansas State
Kentucky South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC South Carolina SC
Bowling Green Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
#3 Clemson #14 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Clemson Clemson
Rice Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Troy New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Troy Troy
Cincinnati Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Miami (OH) Cincy
Arizona State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX Texas Tech TTU
Texas #4 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
Fresno State #6 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
San José State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#19 Stanford San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA Stanford Stanford
Ole Miss California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Ole Miss Ole Miss
Gameday Guest Picker (Louisville) Tom Jackson Jennifer Lawrence
Total Points this season 133 138

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Five things to watch in college football week 3

After a great slate of games in the first two weeks, week three doesn’t have the same amount of marquee matchups. There are still some interesting games to look out for and upsets are always possible. Here are five things to watch this weekend in college football:

1. Clemson’s Defensive Front vs. Lamar Jackson

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Lamar Jackson (Photo by

The biggest game of the weekend is by far Clemson at Louisville. This is a game that can really help to figure out the ACC in terms of the College Football Playoff race. Both teams have won both their games, but there are some visible causes for concern. In this game though the battle to watch is the Clemson defensive line against Lamar Jackson.

Clemson’s defensive line was relentless against Auburn and totaled 11 sacks. They are one of the most talented units in the country and will need to be at their best Saturday. Lamar Jackson won the Heisman last year due to his dynamic dual-threat abilities and has gotten this season off on the right foot. Avoiding the Clemson defense will be a good challenge for him.

This game last year was one of the most thrilling games of the college football season and Louisville will be looking for revenge after falling to Clemson. The winner of this game is in a good position to win the ACC Atlantic Division and may be in line for a CFP spot.

2. Two great quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch for in college football week 3

Justin Herbert (Photo by

When Oregon and Wyoming play on Saturday night, two future NFL quarterbacks will be playing against each other. That is not a statement that would have been thinkable too many times, but both teams have recruited very good signal callers to lead their teams.

Wyoming has Josh Allen, who could end up being the number one overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is a big, athletic, strong-armed quarterback who has drawn some comparisons to Cam Newton. He did struggle in the Cowboys’ season opener against Iowa, but he still has plenty of football left to prove he is worthy of being the first player selected.

Justin Herbert is only a sophomore, but has shown he can be a great quarterback in the future. He also is big and has a strong arm. Herbert makes throws down the field and has shown the ability to make NFL-level throws. In the Ducks’ game against Nebraska he threw for for 365 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

There will be a lot of scouts in Laramie, Wyoming for this game and a lot of fans should check out what could be future NFL quarterbacks as well.

3. Rematch of a National Championship

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Vince Young (Photo by

Texas and USC are playing each other in a rematch of one of the best National Championship Games in history. The game concluded with Vince Young running in a game winning touchdown in Pasadena on January 4, 2006. This game still rubs USC supporters the wrong way, as they are now calling it a “vacated loss” as a result of the Reggie Bush scandal. Unfortunately they can’t erase the memory of Vince Young running into the end zone to win it for the Longhorns.

This game may not be very competitive, but is at least a matchup of two historic programs. Texas lost to Maryland in week one, but beat San Jose State in week two. USC has two impressive wins over Western Michigan and Stanford. USC should win this game pretty easily, but they will show plenty of highlights of the 2006 Rose Bowl to keep viewers interested. Plus any chance to see Sam Darnold in action has to be taken.

4. SEC East matchups

Five things to watch in week 3 college football

Feleipe Franks (Photo by

There are two SEC East games that could mean a lot in a pretty murky division. First Tennessee plays Florida in the afternoon. Tennessee has two wins, but there are a lot of questions still for them. Florida looked really sloppy against Michigan. Their offense was awful and they will need to find some solutions. Their defense should keep this game close. The winner should be able to challenge Georgia for the SEC East title.

Kentucky will travel to take on South Carolina in an under the radar game. With Georgia playing a freshman quarterback, while Jacob Eason is injured and Tennessee and Florida not looking to good thus far, there is a window of opportunity. South Carolina will be relying on Jake Bentley getting the ball to Deebo Samuel. The Wildcats on the other hand will try to run the ball with running back Benny Snell. Whoever is more successful at carrying out their offensive game plan will win the game.

5. Upset alerts in the early games

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Riley Ferguson (Photo by

The early games on Saturday have a lot of games that could be closer than the experts think. One such game will take place in Memphis with UCLA coming to town. The Tigers have been a solid program, have a good quarterback in Riley Ferguson and have the benefit of being at home. UCLA will have to travel across the country for a very early start. The game will be close and UCLA is favored by just three points.

Oklahoma State will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in the noon EST time slot as well. The Cowboys should win the game, but Pittsburgh should play them tough after keeping the game close with Penn State in Happy Valley last week.

If Michigan plays like they did against Cincinnati, they may lose to Air Force. The Falcons beat VMI 62-0 in their one game so far and are ready for the Big House. If Jim Harbaugh can get Michigan to play up to their potential, this game could be a blowout, but Michigan has yet to get to that point this season.

It may end up that none of these games result in an upset, but at least a couple of the noon games will be interesting to watch.

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 15-11

We are down to only a couple weeks before college football starts again. For teams in the top 15 their goal is to make it to the College Football Playoff. This installment features teams that want to get back to their winning ways and have not made it to the College Football Playoff since its inception.

For the last installment of the top 25, click here.

15. Florida Gators

College football top 25

Martez Ivey (photo by

Jim McElwain is entering year three as the head man in Gainesville and would rather focus on football than the viral picture of his doppelganger naked with a shark. Last season Florida went 9-4 with losses on the road and in the SEC Championship Game with Alabama. They capped off the season with a win in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. The Gators have 13 returning starters and will be looking to make yet another SEC Championship Game.

The offensive line is the strength of the offense and returns four starters, including the very talented left tackle Martez Ivey. Unfortunately the offense has lacked the playmakers in the past and will need players to step up this season. Jordan Scarlett is the leading returning rusher and averaged 5 yards per carry, but the team ranked 113th in rushing yards last season.

Feliepe Franks will likely take over at quarterback after a solid spring. The redshirt freshman is big and has a strong arm, but still has a lot to prove. The best receiver on the team is Antonio Callaway, who is capable of doing great things, but has some off the field issues going on right now. If he is on the field he is a difference maker and one of the few the Gators have.

Defensively, Florida loses a lot, but they are stocked with talent. The defensive backfield does have depth issues, but their starters are solid. Corner Duke Dawson will be relied upon to have a great season and safeties Marcell Harris and Nick Washington will as well.

There is a lot of inexperience at linebacker, but David Reese was a Freshman All-American playing in place of the injured Jarrad Davis last season. The front four features one returning starter, but a lot of the players have gotten a significant amount of playing time in years past. Cece Jefferson has to step up and get after the quarterback, while Jabari Zuniga needs to add to his sack total of five in 2016. The defense will take a small step back and need the offense to get a little better.

Florida starts their season with a game against Michigan before taking on Northern Colorado, UAB and Florida State in the rest of the non-conference. Challenges in conference will be games against Tennessee, LSU and Georgia. The Gators will bottom out at 7-5, but will likely end up at 8-4 with their challenging schedule.

14. Louisville Cardinals

College football top 25

Lamar Jackson (Photo by

Louisville got off to a hot start before losing their last three games to finish 9-4. They lost to LSU in the Citrus Bowl. Bobby Petrino will have his team in the thick of the ACC Atlantic race this season. They have 11 returning starters, but a lot of them provide a lot of value.

The Heisman Trophy winner from last season, Lamar Jackson, returns to lead the offense. He is a very good runner, but needs to prove he can pass better. Even so, he led the Cardinals to the sixth best scoring offense in the country. Jackson led the team in rushing, but will have help this season from Jeremy Smith, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry in 2016.

Former quarterback Reggie Bonnafon and wide receivers Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick will need to make plays in the passing game for Louisville. Fitzpatrick and Smith have tremendous talent and will get a chance to make a huge impact this year. Geron Christian and Lukayus McNeil are the only returning starters on the offensive line, that will be expected to protect Lamar Jackson.

Seven starters return on defense, including three of four starters in the secondary. Corner Jaire Alexander had the most interceptions last year out of the returnees with five and will be asked to cover well similarly in 2017. James Hearns returns at linebacker after recording 8 sacks in 2016. Drew Bailey has experience at defensive end and recorded two sacks last season in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme.

There are only a few tough games for the Cardinals. They have a game at home against Clemson, on the road at Florida State and a rivalry game at Kentucky to end the season, a team they lost to last season. Due to their easy schedule and the brilliance of Jackson, Louisville will at least finish 9-3, but likely finish 10-2 with a shot at a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

13. LSU Tigers

College football top 25

Derrius Guice (photo by

Ed Orgeron is now the main man for the Tigers and helped lead them to an 8-4 finish last season. They lost only twice after he took over, to Alabama and Florida. He now gets 12 returning starters to help him out in his first year.

The problem for LSU over the years has been the offense and quarterback play. Danny Etling played better as last season went on and will need to be a steady hand in Matt Canada’s offense. Helping him in the backfield is the leading rusher in the SEC from last season Derrius Guice. With Leonard Fournette injured he amassed 1,387 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

A lot of talent left the receiving core this offseason, but D.J. Chark has the chance to blossom if the quarterback play is decent. The offensive line took a hit when Maea Teuema was granted his realease from the program. They still return two starters, including center Will Clapp.

LSU returns one of the best players in the country in Arden Key. The pass rushing star finished last season with 12 sacks. Christian LaCouture will need to transition to a 3-4 defensive end, but will likely do well. At linebacker the team will be as thin as they have been in years and will need players to step up.

The Tiger secondary has been a strength of the team fro years and this year should be no different. Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson are both good corners and John Battle also returns at safety. They helped LSU finish fifth as a scoring defense in the country and should help them be very good once again.

There are a number of difficult games in the LSU schedule in 2017. They have tough games against: BYU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee. If the defense plays up to par, LSU should be able to finish 9-3 in a very difficult SEC West.

12. Wisconsin badgers

college football top 25

Jack Cichy (photo by

The Badgers had a tough schedule and did well in 2016, only losing to the top teams in the Big Ten East and winning the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan. Paul Chryst has only lost six games in his first two seasons as head coach and will be able to keep the losses minimal this year. There are 15 returning starters that will make this team successful in 2017.

Alex Hornibrook shared quarterback duties with Bart Houston last season, but now brings some experience in his sophomore season. His numbers will need to improve, but he showed flashes of being a good college quarterback. The running back duties will be split between Pittsburgh transfer Chris James and sophomore Bradrick Shaw. Both of them haven’t proven much in their young careers, but have potential.

The wide receiving core is anchored by Jazz Peavy and one of the best tight ends in the country Troy Fumagalli. Fumagalli will be an early draft pick and really exploded in the Badgers’ win over Western Michigan with some great catches. The offensive line will be a strength of the team, as they return a lot of experience with four starters.

Wisconsin had the fourth best scoring defense in the country last season and return six starters. Their rush defense will be good once again with Chikwe Obasih and Conor Sheehy returning on the defensive line. Jack Cichy was lost for the season with a torn ACL, but the other linebackers returning are talented. T.J. Edwards had 89 tackles last year, which is the most out of anyone on the team coming back for this year.

The secondary didn’t perform as well as the front seven, but that was hard to do. They were still good enough to rank 30th against the pass last season. D’Cota Dixon and Derrick Tindal bring back a ton of experience. Dixon recorded four interceptions for the Badgers last season and will need to help them get turnovers again this year. In 2016 they had a turnover margin of +16.

The schedule sets up very favorably for the Badgers this season. They only play one of the three Big Ten East powers in Michigan and their next toughest games are against Northwestern, BYU and Iowa. There is a possibility they run the table, but they will likely end the season with a loss or two before heading to the Big Ten Championship Game.

11. Auburn Tigers

college football top 25

Jarrett Stidham (photo by

New life has been found for the Auburn Tigers after finishing last season 8-5. They lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, but return 16 starters from that team. Gus Malzahn was on the hot seat, but made it through the season and now has a chance to make some noise with this year’s squad.

Jarrett Stidham will likely be taking the vast majority of the snaps at quarterback for the Tigers after finding some success at Baylor. He will be asked to have a high completion percentage like he did when he was in Waco. Auburn found a running back last year in Kamryn Pettway. Pettway is a bruising running back that showed his power with 1,224 yards and nine touchdowns in 2016.

The offensive line returns three starters and should help make the rushing attack dynamic like they were last year when they ranked sixth in the country. While they don’t have a good go-to-guy at receiver, they have a lot of young talent that is capable of stepping up with Stidham at quarterback this season.

The defense ranked seventh in the country in scoring last year and returns eight starters. Carlton Davis leads the secondary from his corner position. Behind him are two senior safeties in Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts that have a lot of experience and will make for a good unit.

Rushing the passer has to be an emphasis this season, as their returning leader is Andrew Williams who had three. There are plenty of good pass rushers on the team who will need to step up, including former highly-touted prospect Byron Cowart. The linebackers have experience as well as speed to make them a great unit.

The schedule is pretty difficult to manage, but that hasn’t hampered the high expectations for this team. They have tough matchups with Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama, along with some other tricky games along the way. Auburn has enough talent to win 10 games, but may fall to 8-4 with the very tough schedule they face.

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