Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Alabama had a thrilling comeback to win yet another title. It included putting in a freshman quarterback, who hadn’t played a meaningful snap all season long. The game just goes to show that college football is unique and great. While the 2017 season is now over it is time to look ahead to the 2018 season. Here is the early college football top 25 for the 2018 season:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

While they always lose talent to the NFL, Alabama can replace it. Jalen Hurts or Tua Tagovailoa will lead the offense alongside any of the talented running backs that decide to return to school. Najee Harris found some daylight in the title game and will also be back. The defense will lose a lot more talent to the NFL, but they always step up. A lot of players got experience this season due to injuries.

2. Clemson Tigers

Clemson made a third straight College Football Playoff and will compete for another next season. Kelly Bryant and the talented running backs will be back. Deon Cain and Hunter Renfrow need to make their decisions still, but Clemson can replace them. The defense always reloads and will at the very least have stud defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence to build around.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

J.K. Dobbins (Photo by cleveland.com)

J.T. Barrett may be leaving, but Dwayne Haskins looked good in relief against Michigan. Add him with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber and the majority of the offensive line returning and it has the makings of a good offense. The defense will still have Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones, which will help make up a good defensive line.

4. Washington Huskies

The Huskies had a young team this season that saw them replace a lot of NFL talent on defense. Jake Browning should return to school to lead the team at quarterback. Myles Gaskin and Dante Pettis could both be lost to the NFL, but if Gaskin elects to return to school, the offense will be solid. The majority of the defense will return, but will have to fill holes left by Vita Vea and some very good linebackers.

5. Miami Hurricanes

Is Malik Rosier the answer at quarterback? Only time will tell. The Hurricanes should have him, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards back to make plays. They do lose a lot on the offensive line, but should be able to replace it. Miami should also get most of their defense back, which includes a great back seven of talented linebackers and a good secondary.

6. Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott decided to return to school, giving Michigan State almost all their starters back for next year. After winning ten games this season, they should be expected to compete even more next season. Brian Lewerke is a dual-threat that is expected to improve this offseason. The defense was very young and should also get a lot better next season.

7. Georgia Bulldogs

The Bulldogs just played in the National Championship, but are going to lose a lot of talent, especially on their defense. They could lose up to nine or ten players from the defense, which will not be easy to replace. Georgia has some playmakers on offense returning in Jake Fromm, D’Andre Swift and Riley Ridley. Most of their offensive line also returns.

8. Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin got a huge win when linebacker T.J. Edwards said he was returning for his senior season. He will give the defense some stability, as they lose a lot this offseason. The offense will be expected to pick up the slack, as Jonathan Taylor had a fantastic freshman season and most of his offensive line will return. The question is: How well can Alex Hornibrook play?

9. Oklahoma Sooners

Lincoln Riley did a fantastic job in his first year as head coach, but now has to move on without Baker Mayfield. Kyler Murray was a highly-touted recruit that Riley can mold. Freshman running back Rodney Anderson also returns after having a great season and Rose Bowl. Add those two to wide receiver “Hollywood” Brown and the offense should be set. Defensively, some talent will move on, but the offense is the strength of the team.

10. Virginia Tech Hokies

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Josh Jackson (Photo by cjonline.com)

Josh Jackson had a fantastic freshman season that resulted in nine wins. His progression is what carries this ranking. Travon McMillan and Cam Phillips, his two offensive weapons at running back and wide receiver, are gone. Young receivers will need to step up and they will also need to replace a few offensive linemen. The Hokies will return about six or seven starters on defense, but will need to replace some NFL-level talent.

11. Penn State Nittany Lions 

Saquon Barkley is gone, but Trace McSorley is back again. He will now have to be the focal point of the offense with a new offensive coordinator. Most of the offensive line returns, but a lot of new faces will have to step up on defense, as they had a lot of seniors getting significant playing time.

12. Auburn Tigers

The Tigers had a great season that resulted with them playing in the Cotton Bowl. Auburn gets quarterback Jarrett Stidham back, while Kerryon Johnson is leaving for the NFL. They will lose some quality players on defense, but will get the majority back for 2018.

13. Stanford Cardinal

Bryce Love is likely going to the NFL. The good news for Stanford is they can seemingly plug in a lot of running backs into their system to be productive. K.J. Costello also showed some flashes of being a very good quarterback. They lose more than half of their defense to seniors, but the returning players are solid.

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Both Josh Adams and Equanimeous St. are trying to make it at the next level. Losing Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson deals a significant blow to the offense of Notre Dame. They still have some good offensive linemen, running backs and wide receivers who will step up next season. That only leaves the matter of quarterback. Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush will battle it out in the offseason for the starting role. The seniors leaving the defense will leave a mark, but a lot of players returning have gotten significant playing time due to injuries over the previous few seasons.

15. Boise State Broncos

Boise State has a chance to be in the national spotlight again this year, after fading in the past few seasons. Quarterback Brett Rypien and running back Alexander Mattison return, which should help keep the offense rolling. Losing wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and some offensive linemen will hurt, but they will manage. The defense is young and pretty much all returning next season, meaning they should be dominant.

16. LSU Tigers

The Tigers will have to replace a lot of their offense, but they have some talented recruits waiting to take the team to the next level. Myles Brennan looks to take over at quarterback after seeing action in six games this season. He was a highly-touted recruit that should be able to make plays with another year under his belt. A lot of good players from LSU’s defense will be missing as well, so they’re recruits will need to step up.

17. Michigan Wolverines

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Shea Patterson (Photo by freep.com)

Michigan won the Shea Patterson sweepstakes and the quarterback transfer from Ole Miss. Brandon Peters also showed potential at the position this season. They’ll need skill position players to step up next season. Donovan Peoples-Jones is in store for a big year at wide receiver if the quarterback play is good enough. The defense returns most of its key players. A player to watch is linebacker Devin Bush, who is one of the best in the country.

18. USC Trojans

Sam Darnold helped lead USC back to prominence, but now he is gone. Gone too are running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Deontay Burnett. Two offensive linemen also graduate, so they will have some big shoes to fill in Los Angeles. A lot of their players on the defensive side of the ball will be testing the NFL Draft waters, so sophomore corner Jack Jones will have to step up and be a leader.

19. West Virginia Mountaineers

Will Grier had a great season for West Virginia and has decided to return to school. With most of his weapons back, Grier should have the Mountaineers in good position to have one of the best offenses in the country once again. While the defense isn’t the strength of the team, a lot of returning players will be good to work with.

20. Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic hit a home run when they hired Lane Kiffin. He took a team that was supposed to be very bad and made them a conference championship team. Running back Devin Singletary was one of the most productive running backs in the country this season and will be back for his junior year. A young defense should also improve as a lot more people hop on the “Lane Train”.

21. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season. They won nine games in 2016 and eight games this season with young teams. Now, with a bunch of veterans, the Wildcats are looking to compete more in the Big 12. Wide receiver Byron Pringle will be asked to do a lot for this team, but they will mainly try to run the football. If D.J. Reed decides to return at corner, it should be another solid year for the Wildcats.

22. Northwestern Wildcats

They won ten games this season and will be back for more next season. While their career leading rusher, Justin Jackson, is graduating, they seem to believe freshman Jeremy Larkin can be a workhorse back in his sophomore year. Quarterback Clayton Thorson is also back for next season, but is recovering from a torn ACL in the Music City Bowl. Freshman linebacker Paddy Fisher looks like he will be on of their all-time greats.

23. Florida State Seminoles

Early college football top 25 for the 2018 season

Deondre Francois (photo by gridironnow.com)

Willie Taggart did a good job of turning around Oregon in his one season in Eugene. He is a solid coach who will get some talent returning. With Deondre Francois back at quarterback, Cam Akers at running back and a lot of good receivers, they should be solid on offense. The offensive line has struggled in the last few years, they are young and shold improve. A lot might need to be replaced on defense, but they have recruited well.

24. Mississippi State Bulldogs

If Nick Fitzgerald can recover from a gruesome leg injury, the Bulldogs have the makings of a good team. They get most of their team back, which is encouraging, but Dan Mullen left for Florida. Joe Moorehead will try to make Mississippi State’s offense a lot better, just like he did at Penn State.

25. Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher is a great haul for Texas A&M. He will have to work with quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel, but they can be successful. Trayveon Willliams returns at running back, along with a lot of the offensive line, but they will have to replace Christian Kirk. A lot of their best defensive players will be playing on Sundays next year, so Fisher has a little bit of work cut out for him on that side of the ball.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology 1/8/18

Conference play is now in session, which means a lot is known about college basketball teams already. There is still more to be known throughout conference play, as a lot of teams have already been upset in the first few weeks. The NCAA Tournament is just over two months away. Here is the latest NCAA Tournament bracketology. Click to zoom.

 

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NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

The 2017 Holiday Bowl will feature the Michigan State Spartans and the Washington State Cougars. Both coaches have created quality programs that have attracted some good talent. With that, some of these players will be playing in the NFL soon. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl:

Washington State Cougars

Luke Falk, QB

Falk has cemented himself as one of the best statistical quarterbacks in Pac-12 history. The senior has 14,481 passing yards, 119 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in his career. He also has 68.3% of his passes in his career. This season he has 3,580 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has been pulled from games for slow starts by Mike Leach, but he is still a good prospect.

He will have to add weight to his 223 pound frame, but is big enough to see over offensive lines at 6’4″ tall. Falk will have to answer questions about why he was pulled from some games and if he can make it in the NFL coming out of Washington State’s system.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Andre Dillard, OT

Dillard is a redshirt junior who may elect to leave school early. He has started the last two seasons at left tackle for the Cougars. While he has a lot of experience pass blocking in Washington State’s system, run blocking is not something he has been given the opportunity to show that he can do on a consistent basis.

At 6’5″ and 295 pounds, Dillard will need to add some strength before getting to the next level. The run blocking and physicality of Dillard will be a concern.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Hercules Mata’afa, DE

Mata’afa has produced since the second he stepped on Washington State’s campus. In his career, t

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

Hercules Mata’afa (Photo by cougarcenter.com)

he junior has 44.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. This season Mata’afa has 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.

Mata’afa doesn’t have the prototypical size for a defensive end in he NFL at 6’2″ and 252 pounds. He makes up for his lack of size with strength and explosiveness. If he produces, no one will care about his size.

Projected draft range: 4th round-7th round

Cole Madison, OT

Madison plays right tackle for the Cougars. He too has gotten playing time since his freshman season and started since his sophomore year. With the same questions about run blocking as Dillard, Madison will likely be picked even later than Madison.

At 6’5″ and 315 pounds, Madison has decent enough size to play on the offensive line in the NFL. He will likely be a late round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Michigan State Spartans

L.J. Scott, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Holiday Bowl

L.J. Scott (Photo by todaysu.com)

Scott is a big, powerful back for the Spartans. The junior has 785 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the season. He has some issues with protecting the football, but has shown an increased role in the passing game this season with 120 receiving yards and a score.

At 6’1″ and 230 pounds, Scott can run with some ferocity, but will need to show he is fast enough to be an NFL running back. If he runs a decent 40 time, he could be selected on day two of the draft.

Projected draft range: 2nd round-4th round

Brian Allen, OG/C

Allen has four years of production at Michigan State and is now one of the best centers in the country. He hasn’t blocked for an explosive offense, but has plenty of reps for NFL scouts to go over.

His limitation is his size at 6’2″ and 305 pounds. Being a center, that won’t be a huge issue, but it extremely limits the amount of teams that will take a chance on him.

Projected draft range: 7th round-undrafted free agent

 

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2017 San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl preview

Two nine win teams will play each other in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. Washington State and Michigan State are two totally different teams, but are both successful teams, which should make for a good matchup. Here is the 2017 San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl preview:

18 Washington State Cougars (9-3)

2017 San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl preview

Luke Falk (Seattletimes.com)

Mike Leach has led Washington State to another successful season. They beat five bowl eligible teams on their way to a nine win season. Their notable wins include: Boise State, USC, Oregon and Stanford.

Offense is the name of the game for the Cougars, but they fell short of their own expectations this year by scoring 31.4 points per game. The running game isn’t the strong point of the offense and ranks 129th in the country. Jamal Morrow and James Williams split carries, but they don’t get many chances. Morrow has 522 rushing yards and four touchdowns, while Williams has 381 rushing yards and one score.

The passing game is what the offense is built around. Luke Falk has had a solid senior season, but has drawn the ire out of Leach at times. He has 3,593 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. The senior has broken many Pac-12 records and although he has struggled, can be trusted. Tavares Martin is the leading receiver with 831 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, Washington State is playing better than most years, allowing 24.4 points per game. They rank 44th against the run and eighth against the pass. Hercules Mata’afa is a game-changer who has 9.5 total sacks this season.

16 Michigan State Spartans (9-3)

2017 San Diego Credit Union Holiday Bowl preview

Kenny Willekes (Photo by freep.com)

Mark Dantonio has done a great job of turning around Michigan State in a short period of time. They went from three wins last season to nine wins this year. While they lost to Northwestern, Ohio State and Notre Dame, the Spartans were able to beat Penn State and Michigan.

Offense is tough to come by for Michigan State, as they score just 23.1 points per game. They run the ball better than they pass the ball with 162.9 rushing yards per game. L.J. Scott is the team’s leading rusher with 788 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Quarterback Brian Lewerke is second on the team in rushing with 486 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Lewerke is a good dual-threat and has made the offense better. He has 2,580 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Felton Davis III is the go-to-guy for the Spartans with 658 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Darrell Stewart Jr. and Cody White also contribute with over 400 yards receiving.

The defense for Michigan State is what makes the team good. They allow just 20.3 points per game, which is good enough for 23rd in the country. The Spartans are fifth against the run and 31st against the pass. Sophomore defensive lineman Kenny Willekes has seven sacks on the season and will be tasked with getting after Falk.

Prediction

Washington State does have some deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, but Michigan State won’t be able to take advantage of that. Falk will have a big day to end his career and could even lead Washington State on a game-winning drive.

Washington State Cougars 36 Michigan State 28

 

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NBA prospects to watch in the 2017 Champions Classic

The Champions Classic is loaded with NBA talent every year because of the level of teams in the event. Every year Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State get together to play in an early season event to signify to everyone that basketball is back. Here are the top NBA prospects to watch in the 2017 Champions Classic:

Duke Prospects

Marvin Bagley, PF, Fr.

NBA prospects in the champions Classic

Marvin Bagley (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

Bagley is a generational talent that will likely be in the running to be the number one overall pick. He can do a little bit of everything and is leading Duke in scoring. He is averaging 24.5 points and 10 rebounds per game on the young season. One thing he can work on is his passing, as he continually will not find the open man and will rather put up heavily contested shots. The good thing for him is that he is good enough to make most of his shots, 65.7%, even when being double teamed.

Projected draft range: Top three pick

Wendell Carter Jr., PF/C, Fr.

Carter is only averaging 10 points and 6.5 rebounds, but there is so much talent on the Duke roster that stats aren’t the deciding factor for being a great prospect. He has been the rim protector for the Blue Devils so far with six blocks in two games. Carter was the fifth ranked prospect in the 2017 class according to ESPN.

Projected draft range: Top 10 pick

Trevon Duval, PG, Fr.

The number one point guard in the recruiting class was Trevon Duval. He is averaging a double-double in the first two games with points and assists. He averages 11.5 points and 10 assists per game. Duval has shown the ability to drive and score or dish the ball out, but needs to show he can knock down outside shots in order to keep defenses honest.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Gary Trent, SG, Fr.

Trent can be an x-factor for this Duke team this season. He is a good wing player, that with his outside shooting, can take some pressure off of Bagley. In the first two games he has already made seven threes on 13 attempts. His length can make him a good defender, but he will be tested by Michigan State on the defensive end.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Grayson Allen, SG, Sr.

Yes, Allen is still considered to be drafted in the NBA Draft. He gets a lot of criticism due to his attitude problems, but he is a solid player that has learned how to best play in his role every year at Duke. He is the second leading scorer so far, averaging 20 points a game. He has been the Blue Devils’ best shooter so far this season and, like Trent, can take pressure off of other players by knocking down shots. He has made 10 three pointers in 15 attempts.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round pick

Michigan State Prospects

Miles Bridges, SF, So.

Nba draft prospects in the champions classic

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Bridges surprised a lot of people by deciding to return to school after a great freshman season. He does everything for Michigan State from scoring to rebounding. His athleticism is crazy, and it can be seen in some of his highlight reel dunks. If he can knock down outside shots and limit turnovers, he is a complete player. Bridges will be one of the best college players this season and will get consideration for Player of the Year to go along with being considered a top prospect.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Fr.

The Spartans have a lot of good inside players this season, but Jackson got the starting nod in Michigan State’s season opener. He had 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots against North Florida and he looks poised for bigger things. Jackson was also able to knock down nine of 10 free throws, which is a nice skill to have, being that he will be fouled a lot this year.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Cassius Winston, PG, So.

Winston is one of the best passers in college basketball. He makes plays and shows off his high basketball IQ in the process. Not only can he drive to the basket, he can also knock down outside shots. Winston is not the most sought after prospect right now, but with continued good play, NBA executives will start to fall in love with him.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Kansas Prospects

Billy Preston, PF, Fr.

NBA draft prospects in the champions Classic

Billy Preston (Photo by kuhoops.com)

Unfortunately, the world has yet to see Preston on the college level yet, as he was suspended from the season opener for missing curfew and class. That is a little concerning, but overall not a big deal. He was the 18th ranked recruit by ESPN and will be asked to be one of the few legitimate inside players for the Jayhawks.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round

Legarald Vick, SG, Jr.

Vick has crazy athleticism from the wing. He has been getting significant minutes the last few years at Kansas, despite a crowded backcourt. If Vick can add some muscle and have a good season as one of the lead guys on the Jayhawks’ roster he can get drafted.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Devonte’ Graham, PG, Sr.

Now that Frank Mason is gone, Graham is tasked with running the offense. He is a little undersized for the NBA, but has a lot of desirable qualities. Graham is a great defender and has the ability to play on ball and off of it. He has shown that he can create for his teammates so far this season with 12 assists in one game. Graham can also shoot from deep, with a career percentage of 41% on three point shots.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, SG/SF, Sr.

Svi has gotten an increased role every year at Kansas. He is intriguing to NBA people because of his length and shooting ability. Svi is a 38% three point shooter and at his size, he is a tough matchup. This season he can really prove he is worth an NBA draft pick with his added minutes.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Udoka Azubuike, C, So.

Azubuike’s year ended early last season due to a wrist injury, but now he is back and healthy. He has great length at seven feet tall and is strictly an inside player. With a changing NBA game, where good inside players are devalued, Azubuike has to expand his game. He is still worthy of a draft pick if he plays well.

Projected draft range: Second round pick-undrafted free agent

Kentucky prospects

Kevin Knox, PF/SF, Fr.

NBA draft prospects in the champions classic

Kevin Knox (Photo by seccountry.com)

NBA executives will love Knox because of his athleticism and face up game. He can dribble, shoot and rebound. Knox does need to shoot more efficiently, as in two games he has below a 30% field goal percentage. He will get good experience playing on the perimeter at Kentucky, but needs to start knocking down outside shots to make him the ultra-versatile player that will be drafted really early.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Fr.

Diallo is one of the most athletic players in the draft class. He has been the best player for Kentucky so far. While he can get to the basket almost at will, he does have some areas of his game he needs to improve. These areas include outside shooting, shot selection and on-ball defending. The athleticism is good enough to get him drafted highly, but if he can improve in other areas, he can move up draft boards.

Projected draft range: Lottery pick-late first round pick

Nick Richards, C, Fr.

Richards is a former volleyball player, whose skills in that sport should help him at Kentucky. He had three blocks against Utah Valley in the opener. Richards can rebound and defend, which is nice, but he will have to show a vastly improved offensive game if he wants to be selected early on in the draft.

Projected draft range: First round pick

P.J. Washington, SF/PF, Fr.

In his first game Washington did not look good, but was great in the second game of the season. He has an inside-out game, that will pique the interest of NBA teams. Knocking down outside shots will drastically improve his draft status.

Projected draft range: Late first round pick-early second round pick

*Jarred Vanderbilt will not play in the event due to a foot injury, but is likely going to be drafted as well.

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Five things we learned from college football week 11

Week 11 provided a lot more good college football and even late in the season there is a lot to be learned. Here are five things we learned from week 11 action:

1. Miami is for real

Leading in to this week there was a lot of talk about whether Miami was for real or not. They were undefeated, but had only beaten one solid team in Virginia Tech. Miami needed a big game to prove to everyone that they were legit and they were provided with a top 10 matchup and rivalry game with Notre Dame.

Miami didn’t just win the game, they dominated it. They won 41-8 and Notre Dame didn’t have much of a chance after the first half. The Hurricanes have now clinched a spot in the ACC Championship and can make the College Football Playoff, which is not something many thought at the start of the season.

2. Oklahoma is going to make the CFP

Oklahoma showed they were the dominating team in the Big 12. They beat TCU by 18 points and are now in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 to make the Championship Game.

Baker Mayield has the offense rolling and no Big 12 defense can stop them. They have to get through Kansas and West Virginia then they get the Big 12 Championship Game. No matter who the opponent is, Oklahoma is playing too well to lose. Slot them into the CFP now and watch other contenders fall by the wayside.

3. Ohio State is inconsistent at best

Ohio State was looking bad after getting killed by Iowa. They had two losses and it looked like the players could give up on the season with a very slim chance of making the College Football Playoff. That was not the case and the Buckeyes proved it this week.

The Buckeyes pounded Michigan State 48-3. They put themselves in good position to win the Big Ten East now, which was up in the air after last week. Now, Ohio State has lost to Oklahoma and been blown out by Iowa, but the Buckeyes have beaten Penn State and now Michigan State. It is hard to get a read on how the rest of the season will go for Ohio State.

4. The Iron Bowl is going to have CFP implications for both teams

Auburn was able to defeat Georgia this week, which will have them move up in the CFP rankings. They have two losses, but just beat the number one team in the country and control their own destiny. If they beat Alabama and win the SEC Championship against Georgia they are going to be in the CFP.

Alabama is still undefeated, but now gets a tough game with Auburn to end the year. If they lose that game, and the chance to play for the SEC Championship, they cold still make the CFP, but they will need help. That game, which is two weeks away, is going to be another classic Iron Bowl that could decide who gets a chance to play for the National Championship.

5. More Jobs are opening up

Butch Jones has been fired as the head coach of Tennessee after losing 50-17 to Missouri. He had a winning record in his time at Tennessee, but at a program like Tennessee that can’t be the biggest achievement. Jones was going to be fired after the year anyways, but the Missouri loss was too much.

Tennessee, Oregon State, Florida and Ole Miss are all power five jobs that are already open. Kansas, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Illinois, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M all could be available at the end of the season. Get ready for the rumor mill to start up in the next few weeks.

 

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Five to watch for in college football week 11

Ten weeks of the college football season are in the books and the good games keep on coming. More top teams match up this week, which should create another good weekend of football. Here are five things to watch for the week:

1. “Catholics vs. Convicts”

Miami and Notre Dame play each other this weekend in the best version of the rivalry in a long time. An ESPN documentary recently came out and reignited some harsh feelings between the two teams. Add to that fact that this has major implications for the College Football Playoff, and this game is one that needs to be seen.

The Hurricanes are undefeated on the season and have given their fans some hope after defeating Virginia Tech in a big game. Miami has a tendency to play up and down to their competition, so this should be an interesting game. They have a ton of talent and just need Malik Rosier to be efficient and the defense to stop the run to win this game. The latter is easier said than done.

Notre Dame has just one loss on the season and is the third ranked team by the College Football Playoff committee. They can’t afford to lose if they want to make the CFP. They have a much improved and opportunistic defense that has helped them get to this point. The best part of this team though, is the offensive line. If these guys can push back Miami and open up holes for Josh Adams they will win.

It’s going to be heated in this game, so get the popcorn ready.

2. Oklahoma and TCU

The Sooners and Horned Frogs sit atop the Big 12 standings at the moment and are both contenders for the CFP. The winner of this game sets themselves up nicely for postseason play, while the loser will have to continue to fight to make the Big 12 Championship Game.

Oklahoma has two of the best wins in college football after beating Ohio State and Oklahoma State. Their offense can score on anyone, while their defense needs to step up more against better offenses. TCU has a more balanced team in terms of offense and defense, but the defense will need to step it up against the Sooners.

If TCU’s defense can slow down Baker Mayfield they have a chance. These two teams could meet again in a couple weeks, so tune in now.

3. Deep South’s oldest rivalry

Another big game this weekend is the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the annual game between Auburn and Georgia. Both teams still have a chance to make the CFP and in a rivalry game, it makes the game have that much more drama. The SEC schedule is just starting to heat up.

Georgia is still undefeated and is playing really good physical, defensive football. They have this tough game left before the SEC Championship Game, where they will likely play Alabama. Auburn has a good defense and can run the football too, so it’s going to be an absolute battle. They have two losses, one coming to Clemson and the other to LSU. If they win out, they will have to win three games against top 25 teams and more likely those teams will all be in the top 10.

The difference in the game is going to be which quarterback can play better. Jake Fromm and Jarrett Stidham haven’t been superstars, but need to complete passes to help move the chains.

4. Big Ten East Championship

The Big Ten East will probably be left out of the CFP, but the division still has a big role to play for the end of the season. The winner will play Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and will help determine if the Badgers are worthy of CFP consideration. This week Ohio State and Michigan State will play and the game will likely determine the winner of the division.

Ohio State lost big at Iowa last week and is very inconsistent. J.T. Barrett needs to be productive and not turn the ball over. He has shown he can do it before, with his excellent fourth quarter performance against Penn State. If he does that the Buckeyes usually win.

The Spartans have lost to Northwestern and to Notre Dame this season, but are doing much better than expected. They beat Penn State last week and now get their chance to play for a division championship. Michigan State has beaten three top 25 teams and needs to be taken seriously. The defense is back to form this season and if they can create problems for Barrett, they can win.

5. Alabama vs. Mississippi State

The weekend has so many good games that this one will probably get buried, unless Alabama starts losing. Mississippi State, when playing at their best can at least stay in the game with Alabama, so this is a game worth tuning into if that is the case. Viewers should be able to tell by the end of the first quarter whether this is going to be a good game or not.

Alabama got a win over LSU last week and their schedule just gets tougher. They haven’t shown too many flaws, but if a team can make Jalen Hurts beat them with his arm, they have a chance. The Crimson Tide will pound the football and play good defense, making them tough to beat.

Nick Fitzgerald has to be productive in order to give Mississippi State a chance. When the Bulldogs lose, it’s usually because Fitzgerald is shut down. Mississippi State is out of the CFP picture, but can still make a New Year’s Six Bowl with a good finish to the season.

 

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Five things we learned in college football week 10

Week 10 of college football offered a great day of games that required multiple screens or a quick hand on the remote. Through it all, a lot was gleaned about the teams and players. Here is what we learned this week in college football:

1. Iowa City is a great Place For football

Iowa has been in the spotlight on multiple occasions this season for some of the big games they have hosted. First, they almost were able to beat Penn State, but ended up losing a close one. This week though, they didn’t just beat Ohio State, they throttled them. The fans fed off the performance and stormed the field after the victory.

That isn’t the only thing going on in Iowa. Yes, the atmosphere was electric and the Hawkeyes got a big win, but the biggest story comes from their newest tradition. This has been getting headlines all season, but it continued this weekend. All the fans and players waved to the children’s hospital overlooking the stadium after the first quarter. Even opposing fans and players have started waving. Anything people can do to make sick kids feel better is amazing.

It’s not just the win, not just the atmosphere and not just the tradition that makes Iowa City great, but the combination of the three.

2. Michigan State can still win the Big Ten East

College football week 10

Matt Coghlin (Photo by centurylink.net)

Michigan State was coming off of an overtime loss to Northwestern last week and got rewarded with a home game against Penn State. The game was delayed for a few hours due to lightning, but was competitive and entertaining the whole way through. The Spartans were able to upset Penn State with a last second field goal.

The loss for Penn State really puts them behind the eight ball for a Big Ten Championship appearance. Michigan State however, is now tied with Ohio State for the lead in the Big Ten East after Ohio State’s loss this weekend. The teams will battle it out this weekend, with the winner more than likely going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game.

Through these two results, the Big Ten faces an uphill battle to make it to the CFP. They are relying on Wisconsin now.

3. Heisman race is clearer now

Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley are the two top dogs vying for the Heisman after this weekend. Mayfield won a big game and broke the school record for passing yards. Barkley struggled, but has his fair share of highlights on the season.

Other key players fell off the trail for the Heisman this week. Josh Adams had to leave Notre Dame’s game against Wake Forest with an injury. Mason Rudolph lost to Mayfield in a head to head matchup, which will be hard to overcome. J.T. Barrett threw four interceptions against Iowa. Now Rudolph and Adams will be fighting to make it to the ceremony in December.

Two names that may receive an invite, or win it if Mayfield and Barkley fall off more, are Jonathan Taylor and Khalil Tate. Taylor is a freshman running back for Wisconsin, who already has 1,368 yards on the season. It helps that his team is undefeated too. Tate has started in just four games as the quarterback of Arizona and already has over 1,000 rushing yards. His team may have three losses already, but if he keeps going at the pace he is on, he is going to break a lot of records without even starting the whole season.

4. Miami is back

Miami is a team that had been ranked low by the CFP committee in the first week of the rankings, and rightfully so. Their best win to date was over an 8-1 Toledo team. Toledo is a god team, but they are from the MAC. The Hurricanes needed to play well against good competition to prove themselves.

This week Miami was able to beat Virginia Tech to take a lead in the ACC Coastal, which sets them up nicely for a chance at the ACC Championship Game. This was their first big test, but they passed and are now going to be ranked somewhere in the top eight.

More tests are ahead for Miami, but they have a very good football team and created an atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium that hasn’t been there since the Hurricanes played at the Orange Bowl. Even if they lose to Notre Dame this week and lose the ACC Championship Game, this has been the best Miami football season in a long time.

5. Auburn can really shake things up

College football week 10

Kerryon Johnson (Photo by al.com)

Auburn only has two losses on the season and are moving up the CFP rankings. They actually have a chance to make the CFP, even with two losses. That is a tall order given their remaining schedule, so the best possible way to look at them is to see them as a team that can create chaos.

The remaining schedule features games against Georgia and Alabama, the committee’s top two teams. If they win those, they will likely get a rematch with Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. With most fans wanting to see as much parity as possible, the best thing to do is watch and root on Auburn in the last few weeks.

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Michigan State basketball 2017-18: same team, more experience

The preseason rankings have Michigan State sitting firmly at number two. A second place rank is tied for the highest rank they have received in school history. The common theme for the 2017-18 Michigan State Spartans is experience.

The Spartans two top scorers returning this season for their sophomore seasons. Miles Bridges and Nick Ward combined to average 30.8 points per game last season and are looking to take the next step for their sophomore seasons.

The Spartans add a few highly touted recruits and return nearly their entire rotation from the 2016-17 season. Experience tends to win come March, and the Michigan State Spartans are loaded with talent and experience across the board.

The sophomore class

Michigan State basketball 2017-18

Michigan States Sophomores, (MLlive.com).

One of the best freshman classes we have seen in a while has stayed together for their sophomore seasons.

Joshua Langford, Cassius Winston, Nick Ward and Miles Bridges were four of the top five scorers for the Spartans in 2016-17. The four added 44.6 points a game which was good for 62 percent of the Spartans’ scoring last season.

Miles Bridges is one of the best returning players in college basketball this season and if he can take the next step forward he will lead a group of sophomores that could take over college basketball.

The freshmen

Lots of freshmen in big time conferences are looking to start and make an immediate impact. Although there is no doubt that Michigan States freshmen could do that, there are lots of other players that can protect the freshmen until they are ready to produce for the Spartans.

Jaren Jackson Jr. is the number nine recruit in this year’s class (via ESPN) and joins a starting lineup that is already loaded. The new freshman guards will learn from Tum Tum Nairn who is a senior.

Xavier Tillman (SF, 6-foot-8) is ranked as the 74th prospect on ESPN’s top 100 and is an excellent post player with tremendous passing skills and a high basketball IQ.

Brock Washington (SG, 6-foot-3) adds a shooting stroke from the guard position. He can help Matt Mcquaid open up a defense for guys like Ward, Bridges and Jackson inside. Washington made 148 threes in his high school career and looks to knock the top off of defenses.

Tom Izzo

This is a very impressive team that Tom Izzo has put together in just two years. He will have a chance to coach a lot of the same guys from last season and gets to work with the talented Miles Bridges again.

The three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year has been coaching Michigan State for 22 years and has had a lot of good teams. I don’t think he has had a team that has been this similar to a year prior however.

Izzo is currently studying tape just like players are, learning the tendencies of his young big men and experienced guards and looking to put them in the best position to succeed. One of the best things to have as a coach is three guys that can go out and get you buckets consistently.

With the addition of Jackson, Michigan State could have struck that this season. With Ward, Bridges and possibly Jackson, the Michigan State Spartans are loaded.

Season prediction

Due to the tremendous freshman class in college basketball there are lots of very good teams this season. Michigan State has experience to balance with great young talent. I think come March the Spartans find a way to be a one seed.

I think they win the Big 10 and end up cutting down the nets come April. Tom Izzo and Miles Bridges will be two key reasons to this Michigan State Spartans team winning the 2018 NCAA National Title. Izzo will finally get himself another National Title.

 

Featured Image from MSUtoday.com.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

College basketball preseason top 25: 5-1

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 final installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 10-6, click here.

5. Kentucky Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Hamidou Diallo (Photo by bostonherald.com)

The Wildcats lost a heart-breaker to UNC in the Elite Eight last season. Like most years they have to replace most of their team. They don’t return much at all and will be led by freshman, but they have a very talented freshmen class yet again that should be able to be successful.

Versatility is going to be the name of the game for the Kentucky bigs. Kevin Knox, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt are all capable of playing on the perimeter and in the paint. How they fit in together is a big question. Vanderbilt is currently dealing with injuries and will not be ready for the start of the season. Nick Richards is the tallest on the team and will fight for minutes. The returnees Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Kileya-Jones and Tai Wynyard will fight for minutes. Gabriel started 23 games last season and can be valuable if he knocks down outside shots. Wynyard is a very physical player who can step in if the other players aren’t rebounding. While there are a lot of talented players, Calipari will play the most talented.

Quade Green ad Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both highly touted recruits who will handle the point guard duties. Whoever does not start will be able to play off of the ball. Hamidou Diallo got to campus last year in the midseason and John Calipari decided to redshirt him. His half-season with Kentucky last year will pay dividends, as well as his summer trip representing Team USA in the U19 World Cup. Diallo is an athletic freak, who needs to shoot the ball better to be a dynamic player. Jemarl Baker was supposed to provide some outside shooting for this team, but Baker had his knee scoped and will likely be out for three months.

As always if the young talent can mesh together, the sky is the limit for Kentucky. They may start off slow, but come March, Kentucky will be a factor once again.

4. Kansas Jayhawks

College basketball preseason top 25

Devonte’ Graham (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Kansas made their second straight Elite 8 last season and can do so again this season. They will have to deal with the losses of Carlton Bragg, Josh Jackson, Landen Lucas and, most importantly, Frank Mason. That is a lot to replace, but there is some significant talent returning.

Udoka Azubuike returns after getting injured last season. He will be asked to play way more than his 12.9 minutes per game that he averaged last season. In those minutes though, he showed flashes of being a great player. His per 40 minutes stats are great, as he would’ve averaged 15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds. Billy Preston, no relation to Bill S. Preston Esquire, is a great incoming freshman that is going to be thrust into any minutes Azubuike can’t be on the floor. He is very athletic, but needs to work on his inside game. The only other big on the roster is Mitch Lightfoot, who will see an increased role as the third big. There is not much depth in the frontcourt, so the Jayhawks will have to stay healthy and out of foul trouble.

The backcourt is loaded with talent. Devonte’ Graham returns and will take over at point after the loss of Frank Mason. He is a great defender that showed he could score too last season. He will need to set up teammates and find his own shot this season. Lagerald Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk return on the wing. Both can knock down the three point shot, while Vick has more athletic ability. Mykhailiuk may need to step more inside to cover up for the lack of bigs on the roster, seeing as he is 6’8″. Two transfers will have to step up for Kansas as well. Malik Newman was a big recruit going into Mississippi State and is hoping his career has new life at Kansas. Sam Cunliffe is an Arizona State transfer who will be eligible in December.

The guards and wings will be hard to match up with, but if Kansas’ frontcourt doesn’t step up it will be hard to reach a third consecutive Elite 8. Luckily they have talent so the sky is the limit.

3. Arizona Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Allonzo Trier (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Wildcats got upset by Xavier in the Sweet 16 last season, but have a lot of returning talent and incoming recruits to help them get to a Final Four. They lose Kadeem Allen, Chance Comanche, Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons, but this team is actually better. Can Sean Miller reach his first Final Four of his career?

The frontcourt is going to be led by superstar recruit DeAndre Ayton. He can protect the rim and stretch the floor, making him unique. Dustan Ristic started 34 games last season and can play alongside Ayton or back him up. Rustic has a refined inside game that can compliment Ayton. Keanu Pinder is a good role player who will rebound and defend. Behind these three there isn’t much, but the guards on the roster should be able to play big if they need to.

Allonzo Trier is back after leading the team in scoring last season with 17.2 points per game. He could’ve gone pro, but elected to come back for another season. He can do a little bit of everything offensively, as a solid shooter and driver. Rawle Alkins also choose to come back to Tucson after considering the NBA. Alkins will improve in his second season with the Wildcats. Parker Jackson-Cartwright is back at point guard and will likely start every game. Backing these three up will be frehsmen and transfers, but they are talented. Emmanuel Akot, Brandon Randolph, Dylan Smith and Alex Barcello will all be expected to fight for minutes.

Sean Miller needs to get to a Final Four and this season offers his best chance to do so. If Ayton is as good as advertised, the Final Four should be an expectation for Arizona.

2. Michigan State Spartans

College basketball preseason top 25

Miles Bridges (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Tom Izzo gets a chance to make his first Final Four since 2015 with this squad. He has a lot of talent and depth, which is something he didn’t have last season due to injuries. If the Spartans can stay healthy, the team is going to be tough to beat.

Miles Bridges returns on the wing. He is going to be the best player in all of college basketball this season. As a freshman he averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He didn’t have a lot of help last season, but will this year. Nick Ward was thrust into playing a lot last year as a freshman and was a physical force on the inside. Jaren Jackson is a very good recruit who will be hard to keep off the floor. Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter and Kenny Goins return to give them some of the best frontcourt depth in the country. They can ride the hot hand this season.

Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairns Jr. is a senior leader now who is a great defender and can set up his teammates. He needs to hit more perimeter shots to be more effective in the offense. Cassius Winston has turned heads with his passing and playmaking ability and will provide Michigan State with a chance to have two point guards on the floor at once. He can also shoot the ball and spread the floor. Mike McQuaid will add a three point specialist to the backcourt. Joshua Langford will also play a bit and is a good wing that can drive and shoot.

With so much talent and perhaps the best player in college basketball, this team can win the National Championship.

1. Duke Blue Devils

College basketball preseason top 25

Marvin Bagley (Photo by accsports.com)

Coach K has had one and dones before, but Coach K has fully embraced recruiting one and dones. He has a roster chalk full of them. A few key players return from a team that lost in the second round, but the freshman are what make this Blue Devils’ squad the best in the country.

Marques Bolden returns at center after a disappointing freshman season. He only played 6.5 minutes a game and needs to improve. He is the only returning player that will see significant minutes. Marvin Bagley Jr. is a dynamic player that is in contention to be the number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He reclassified to play at Duke this season and added to their great recruiting class. Wendell Carter is another freshman who can add to the depth on the inside. He is more of a stretch four and should get a lot of minutes, even if he is overshadowed by Bagley.

Grayson Allen is back for his senior season. Love him or hate him, he is a good scorer that has a lot of experience, which is something this team desperately needed. He saw his scoring decline last season as Luke Kennard stepped up, but may be asked to score a lot until the freshmen get into their groove. Trevon Duval is one of the best point guards of the class and will be the best point guard that Duke has had since their National Championship in 2015. If for some reason he fails, or gets injured, Allen can play point guard once again and run the offense decently well. Gary Trent Jr. is a great wing that will play on the wing with Allen, giving Duke a very talented starting lineup. Depth could be a problem, so role players will need to step up.

The only thing that can derail Duke this season is Grayson Allen’s attitude or a lack of depth. If Coach K can get the most out of this team, he may be cutting down the nets in April.

 

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