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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NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Outback Bowl

The 2018 Outback Bowl will be the first played of the new year. Michigan and South Carolina will have a very defensive football game. There are some good players worth watching that can play in the NFL. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Outback Bowl:

Michigan Wolverines

Maurice Hurst, DT

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Outback Bowl

Maurice Hurst (Photo by detroitnews.com)

Hurst has been good the last few seasons for Michigan, but has stepped it up this season. He has 58 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Not only has he shown good run-stopping abilities, but he also gets good pressure on the quarterback from the interior.

Size will be an issue for Hurst, as he is 6’2″ and 280 pounds. This means he will only fit into a 4-3 defense as a defensive tackle, which limits the amount of teams that will draft him. He still should be drafted in the early rounds.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Mason Cole, C

Cole has experience all over the offensive line for Michigan, but will most likely fit in at center in the NFL. Left tackle and center have been his primary positions in college. This season he earned All-Big Ten second team honors and has picked up a lot of recognition during his time as a Wolverine.

He is 6’5″ and 305 pounds which will be good size for a center. Cole has an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, which will give him another chance to showcase his talents.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Mike McCray, LB

McCray has gotten a lot of playing time his last two seasons for the Wolverines. In his career he has 145 total tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He was the lone returning starter on defense for Michigan and has stepped up to be the leader of the unit.

At 6’4″ and 242 pounds, McCray has great size for a linebacker. He will likely get drafted in the later rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 4th round-6th round

Other notable Michigan prospects: OT Grant Newsome (4th round-6th round)

South Carolina Gamecocks

Hayden Hurst, TE

Hurst has produced a lot for the Gamecocks in the last two seasons and is one of the best tight ends in the draft class. He has 1,240 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in his career. That is pretty good production for a college tight end. Hurst is just a junior and could return to school for another season.

He is 6’5″ and 250 pounds, which is good enough for the NFL. Hurst is a good receiver, but needs to prove he can block at the NFL level.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Skai Moore, LB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Outback Bowl

Skai Moore (Photo by thestate.com)

It seems like Moore has been at South Carolina forever, which means he made a big impact. He has 346 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, five sacks and 14 interceptions in his career. Moore did miss a season with a torn ACL, but has, in large part, been on the field for most of his college career.

He is tall enough at 6’2″, but needs to add a little bit of weight to his 218 pound frame. Moore does a little bit of everything well, which will get him drafted in the mid-rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

 

2018 Outback Bowl preview

Familiar foes will meet again in the 2017 Outback Bowl. South Carolina and Michigan played each other at the conclusion of the 2012 season in the same setting. While the players have changed, the passion is still running high. Here is the 2018 Outback Bowl preview:

Michigan Wolverines (8-4)

2017 Outback Bowl preview

Chase Winovich (Photo by michigandaily.com)

Michigan had high hopes for the season, but ended up losing in every big game they played. The Wolverines had plenty of opportunities, but lost to Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. They beat one bowl eligible team this year in Purdue.

Their offense has been anemic and averages 25.8 points per game. They run the ball decently well at 186.3 yards per game. Karan Higdon is the leading rusher with 929 yards and 11 touchdowns. Chris Evans and Ty Isaac have also produced this season with both having over 500 yards rushing.

The passing game hasn’t been as nice. Michigan’s starter was Wilton Speight, but he injured his back. John O’Korn was put in, but wasn’t the answer. Brandon Peters looked solid, but then suffered a concussion. He is probable to play in this game. He has 486 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions this season. Four receivers have over 200 yards for the Wolverines with Grant Perry leading the way at 309 receiving yards.

Michigan’s defense has won them some games and allows 18.3 points per game. They rank 20th against the run and first against the pass. Defensive lineman Chase Winovich and linebacker Khaleke Hudson have combined to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Winovich has eight sacks, while Hudson has seven.

South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4)

2017 Outback Bowl preview

Skai Moore (Photo by thestate.com)

The Gamecocks had a successful, eight win season under Will Muschamp. South Carolina was able to beat three bowl eligible teams, including N.C. State and Missouri. They only lost to bowl eligible teams this season.

Offensively, South Carolina has struggled this season and only scores 24.1 points per game. The running game averages 127.3 rushing yards per game. A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams split carries for the Gamecocks. Turner has 517 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Williams has 460 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Jake Bentley has been leading the Gamecocks’ offense this year, but it hasn’t been pretty. He has 2,555 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 62.4% completion. His top two targets are Bryan Edwards and Hayden Hurst. Edwards has 705 receiving yards and four touchdowns, with Hurst chipping in 518 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

The defense has been the key to South Carolina’s success this season, allowing 20.9 points per game. They rank 44th against the run and 69th against the pass. Linebacker Skai Moore is the leader of the team. He has 88 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions.

Prediction

With both offenses being bad, it should be a low scoring game. Skai Moore will make a big play for South Carolina’s defense and will help hold Michigan. Jake Bentley will do just enough to get the win.

South Carolina Gamecocks 19 Michigan Wolverines 14

 

 

Five things we learned in college football week 13

For most teams, the college football regular season has wrapped up and conference championships are coming. It may be late in the season, but something can be learned from every game of college football. Here are five things we learned from week 13’s action:

1. Alabama still doesn’t have any great wins

Alabama lost their rivalry game with Auburn and will be in misery for about a year. The Crimson Tide are out of the SEC Championship Game and don’t control their own destiny for the College Football Playoff. Losing to Auburn also makes them very vulnerable to the committee, because they don’t have many great wins this season.

Saban’s squad was able to beat Florida State in a highly anticipated season opener, but the Seminoles ended up struggling this season. Alabama beat LSU and Mississippi State, both of which are solid wins, but not great. The Crimson Tide had their chance against Auburn, but were unable to get the job done. Now they are at the mercy of the CFP committee.

2. J.T. Barrett is a legend and will have a story to tell

College football week 13

J.T. Barrett (Photo by sportingnews.com)

J.T. Barrett started his fourth straight game for Ohio State against Michigan. Although he has had to leave two of these games due to injury, Barrett has been able to go 4-0 as a starting quarterback in one of the biggest rivalries in sports. He may get criticized a lot, but going 4-0 as a starting quarterback has never happened in this rivalry. Barrett also has plenty of records and memories to keep his legacy in tact, even if there are a lot of haters.

Interestingly enough, Barrett had to leave the game against Michigan due to a re-aggravated knee injury. While most fans thought Barrett was hurt during the game, he actually disturbed his injury when warming up. Reportedly, a cameraman ran into Barrett right before kickoff. Barrett was tough enough to gut it out for over two quarters, but was unable to complete the game. Luckily, Ohio State has Dwayne Haskins as a backup, who made some key throws down the stretch to win the game for the Buckeyes.

3. Coaching Changes already in motion

This is the point of the season that always has coaching changes, so that new coaches can come in and start recruiting. Some coaches have already been fired and need to be replaced with one such opening already being resolved.

Jim Mora was fired and recently replaced by Chip Kelly at UCLA. Arkansas didn’t even let Bret Bielema leave the field before firing him. Mike Riley had one of the worst seasons in Nebraska history and won’t be returning. With Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Oregon State searching for coaches, there should be an active coaching carousel. Kevin Sumlin, as usual, is also rumored to be fired which opens up yet another power five job.

4. Baker Mayfield can pencil in his name for the Heisman

college football week 13

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Baker Mayfield sat out the first drive, which lasted all of two plays, due to suspension against West Virginia. He made obscene gestures and had some choice words for the Kansas Jayhawks after they refused to shake his hand before the game. While some people have said they won’t choose him as their Heisman winner, he has had the best season in college football and deserves it.

In the game against West Virginia, Mayfield went 14-17 for 281 yards and three touchdowns to add to his impressive season. With over 4,000 passing yards, some key wins and a likely CFP appearance, Mayfield is clearly the guy that should be voted as this year’s Heisman.

5. Clemson has the best CFP resume

Clemson was able to win comfortably over South Carolina to finish the regular season at 11-1. While some people will complain about their loss to a bad Syracuse team, they still have the best case to be the number one team in the CFP rankings.

The Tigers beat four different eight win teams on the road: Louisville, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and N.C. State. On top of these good wins, Clemson also beat Auburn, who now is going to be in the CFP top four. With wins over Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida State, Clemson has literally had a schedule littered with bowl eligible teams.

 

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College football week 13 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their picks for every single FBS college football game for week 13. With it being rivalry week, and the last week of the regular season for most conferences, they have some fun with the coaching carousel too. Here are the picks for week 13 in college football:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Ole Miss #14 Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss State Miss St
Western Michigan Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
#2 Miami Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Miami Miami
Baylor #12 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
Northern Illinois Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI NIU CMU
Navy Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Navy Houston
Ohio Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Ohio Ohio
Missouri Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Mizzou Missouri
South Florida #15 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
New Mexico San Diego State SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
Texas State Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Iowa Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Iowa Iowa
Western Kentucky Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU FIU
#25 Virginia Tech Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA VT VT
Texas Tech Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Texas Texas
California UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA UCLA UCLA
#7 Georgia Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia Georgia
#9 Ohio State Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI OSU OSU
Kansas #19 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK State Ok State
East Carolina #20 Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Florida State Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL FSU FSU
Louisville Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky Louisville
Indiana Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Purdue Indiana
Connecticut Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy UC
Tulane SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
Boston College Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY BC BC
Duke Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake
North Texas Rice Rice Stadium, Houston, TX UNT UNT
UTEP UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL UAB UAB
Appalachian State Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA App St App St
Florida Atlantic Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC FAU FAU
Southern Mississippi Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV So Miss USM
Old Dominion Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU MTSU
Arkansas State Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA Ark St Ark St
UNLV Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV UNLV UNLV
#1 Alabama #6 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Alabama
#5 Wisconsin Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Wisconsin Wisconsin
#10 Penn State Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Penn St PSU
#23 Boise State Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Boise Boise
North Carolina NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Iowa State Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS Kansas St Iowa State
West Virginia #4 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
#16 Michigan State Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Mich St MSU
#22 Northwestern Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL NW NW
Vanderbilt Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN Vandy Vandy
Temple Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Temple Temple
Idaho New Mexico State Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM Idaho Idaho
Arizona Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona Zona
Georgia Southern Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
Wyoming San Jose State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA Wyoming Wyoming
Oregon State Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Ducks Oregon
#3 Clemson #24 South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC Clemson Clemson
Texas A&M #18 LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA LSU LSU
UT San Antonio Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA La Tech LA Tech
#8 Notre Dame #21 Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Notre Dame
#13 Washington St #17 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Wash St Wazzu
BYU Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawai’i Hawaii
Colorado Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
Utah State Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, AFA AFA
Gameday Guest Picker (Auburn) Charles Barkley Charles Barkley
# of coaches fired/resigning  by midnight Sunday 7 6

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Five things to watch for in college football week 13

Rivalry week is now upon us, which means good football games are back. While not everyone is playing a rival, week 13 is going to be crazy for all college football fans. Here are five things to watch for in college football week 13:

1. The Iron Bowl

Alabama and Auburn is a great rivalry that has gotten even better over the last ten years. A lot of times at least one team has national title aspirations by the time the game comes around and some times both teams are in that position. This year both teams control their own destiny in terms of making the College Football Playoff.

The Crimson Tide are undefeated and haven’t even really been challenged too many times. This will definitely be a test for Alabama. Nick Saban has tried to get his team away from “rat poison” this season, but the Crimson Tide average the seventh most points per game and allow the least. They are ridiculously good.

Auburn has two losses, one to Clemson and one to LSU. Their season has been so great because of their defense and running game. They have a top ten defense and average 244 yards per game. The Tigers are tough to beat and have really come on the last few weeks.

The winner of this game will come as a result of better quarterback play. Jalen Hurts and Jarrett Stidham will need to make throws in key situations in order to get the win. The running games will be slowed due to the good defenses, so keeping the defense honest will win the game.

2. The Game

College football week 13 preview

Curtis Samuel in 2016 (photo by usatoday.com)

Ohio State and Michigan meet up for their annual game this weekend. The Buckeyes still have a feint hope of making the College Football Playoff and need to win. For Michigan, they don’t have too much to play for, but in this game, they don’t need much.

J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes have been one of the most inconsistent teams in college football, yet they still only have two losses. When the offense is clicking, the team is one of the best in the country. If Barrett and the offense can limit turnovers they will be in a good position to win the game.

Michigan’s strength is its defense. They allow the 11th fewest points per game in the country and are especially tough against the run. They slowed down Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor for most of the game before wearing down in the second half. If Ohio State’s offense shows up, Michigan’s defense will need to have its best game of the season.

3. Running backs in Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has decided that one of Notre Dame’s biggest rivals is Stanford. He decided wrong, but it is still a good game. The Fighting Irish still have a very slim chance to make the College Football Playoff, but should be thinking more about a New Year’s Six bowl game.

A week after beating Navy, Notre Dame gets a chance to finish the season with 10 wins. They have a good ground game and are great at causing turnovers. Their running back, Josh Adams, has had a great season behind a great offensive line. He will highlight a matchup of elite college running games.

Bryce Love is the other quality running back in this game. Love actually still has a chance to win the Heisman with his great statistical season. The offense runs through Love and if the Cardinal have any chance of winning, he will need to have a great game.

4. The Apple Cup

College football week 13 preview

(Photo by mercurynews.com)

One of the better emerging rivalries is the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State. This year the Pac-12 Championship Game is on the line for the Cougars and both teams are ranked to make it a very appealing game.

Mike Leach has turned Washington State’s program completely around. This season they only have two losses and are knocking on the door for the Pac-12 Championship Game. That is something a lot of people would have never expected. A thing most people expect is how much Washington State throws the ball, as they have one of the best passing attacks in the country.

Washington had College Football Playoff hopes entering the season after making it last season. They are out of that picture now due to having two losses and a weak non-conference schedule. The Huskies are still a talented team that could sneak into a New Year’s Six bowl game with a win and some help.

The big matchup to watch is the Cougars’ passing attack against the Washington pass defense. If the Huskies can shut down the passing attack they can win.

5. UCF vs. USF

A couple weeks ago the thought was that this could be a matchup of undefeated teams. Unfortunately USF lost to Houston to ruin that. The Florida teams in the AAC still have a lot to play for. The winner of this game will get to play in the AAC Championship Game and could make a New Year’s Six bowl game.

UCF has had a tremendous turnaround under Scott Frost. The year before he got there, they were 0-12. Last season, Frost’s first year, UCF went 6-6. Now they have a chance to turn it all the way around and finish with a 12-0 regular season record. The Golden Knights will make an exciting game out of this one way or another, as they have the highest scoring offense in the country.

The Bulls were the team that were thought to be undefeated at this point in the season. They had an easy schedule and a lot of players returning from a successful team last year. While they do have a loss, they can still reach a great bowl game, something that was likely their ceiling this year anyways. With Quinton Flowers at quarterback and a good defense, they can spoil UCF’s perfect season.

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Five things we learned from college football week 12

College football week 12 didn’t offer much, but more can still be learned. Here are five things we learned from the games in week 12:

1. USC the much better team, Rosen the better quarterback

college football week 12

Sam Darnold (Photo by nydailynews.com)

USC beat UCLA 28-23 to finish off a 10-2 regular season. The Trojans are in the Pac-12 Championship and are likely at least going to be in a New Year’s Six bowl game. There is no doubt that USC is the better football team, but this game was marketed as a duel between top quarterback prospects, and probably rightfully so.

Josh Rosen had a great game that saw him throw for 421 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He literally had to carry his team to keep them close, something he is very used to. He showed in this game that he is the much more polished quarterback.

Sam Darnold threw for 264 yards and an interception. The most impressive thing he showed off was his scrambling and athletic ability. He may have a higher ceiling than Rosen, but he showed that he has a lot of developing to do before he gets to that point.

2. Jonathan Taylor can produce against good competition

Taylor had a tall task this week going up against the Michigan defense. He started off slowly, but ended up thriving. The freshman finished with 132 rushing yards. He did have a 56 yard run, but in the second half he started running more consistently.

For Wisconsin to have any shot to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game, Taylor has to produce. Taylor should be able to get near 2,000 yards on the season and is a serious Heisman contender, but he had yet to prove it on the big stage. Now, Wisconsin knows they can lean on him in tough games.

3. UCF will a chance to prove themselves

College football week 12

McKenzie Milton (Photo by hawaiiprepworld.com)

The UCF Golden Knights have been snubbed by the College Football Playoff committee with their rankings so far. They are undefeated and actually, up through last week, had a better strength of record than Wisconsin. While they will not make the CFP, they should be getting more serious attention.

For UCF, it all comes down to the last two games of their season. First they get to play their rival USF, who has just one loss on the season. If they win that game, they get to play what will likely be a one loss Memphis team in the AAC Championship Game. Memphis is ranked currently and moving up. This gives UCF two great opportunities to show the world what they’ve got. If they win both, they are going to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

4. Bill Snyder is going bowling again

Kansas State got a big upset win over Oklahoma State this week. Oklahoma State will likely not be in the Big 12 Championship Game because of the loss. Just when everyone starts to doubt Snyder, he gets his team ready to go and they pull off the upset win.

Snyder is now going to his 19th bowl game as the head coach of the Kansas State Wildcats. This is an impressive feat, given that Kansas State was atrocious before he got there and he is in his second stint as head coach for the university at age 78. This year will help him into 12th place all by himself for bowl game appearances by a coach.

5. Late season cupcake games need to end

Yes, playing FCS teams funds their athletic department, but the games are not fun to watch.  College football is in the heat of a great playoff race and it is all interrupted to play FCS teams. The drama that has built up for weeks, just took a pause in week 12 and is expected to pick back up for rivalry week. There should be a way around this, whether it’s hosting the games at another time (early in the season), or just as an exhibition.

All teams in the top ten won this weekend and it has nothing to do with the quality of the teams, it has to do with the quality of the competition. If college football wants to really draw in the most viewers, it can do so by not having its best teams schedule cupcake games in November, a time when fans are supposed to be getting ready for bowl and playoff season. While it likely won’t be fixed for a while, if at all, it made week 12 very mundane and should be corrected for the future.

 

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Five things to watch for in college football week 12

After a few good weeks of quality football games, week 12 in college football looks pretty mundane. That doesn’t mean that good games won’t happen, it just means that it will be a surprise. Here are five things to watch for in week 12 of college football:

1. Jonathan Taylor against Michigan’s run defense

College football week 12

Jonathan Taylor (Photo by dailycardinal.com)

Jonathan Taylor has had a great freshman season for Wisconsin. He, like the rest of the Badgers, haven’t really been tested yet, but will be this week when they play Michigan. The Wolverines aren’t a great football team, they don’t have a win over a team above .500, but they will still challenge Wisconsin. As bad as it may sound, this might be the toughest challenge of Wisconsin’s regular season.

Taylor has 1,525 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns already this season. With a strong finish, he can eclipse the 2,000 yard mark on the season. Not only can he be one of the best players in Wisconsin’s history, he is currently on pace to be the college football’s all-time leading rusher. Taylor will be getting a lot more Heisman recognition if the Badgers are able to win out, but he has already surpassed all expectations this season.

Michigan may not be the best team this season, but that is mostly because of their offense. Their defense ranks ninth in the country in points allowed per game. The Wolverines also have allowed the ninth fewest rushing yards in the country this season, making it a difficult matchup for Taylor. Can Taylor continue to produce against a solid defense.

2. Josh Rosen vs. Sam Darnold

UCLA and USC meet in their annual game, although it likely won’t be too competitive. USC is playing good football again, while UCLA is struggling to make a bowl game. The best thing to watch in this game is the quarterback play.

Josh Rosen has had a solid season that has helped him stay in the running to be one of the top draft picks this year. He has thrown for 3,094 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His team isn’t very good, but the competitive juices will be flowing for Rosen and the Bruins.

USC is playing good football, even though Sam Darnold is having a rough season. He has turned the ball over a lot with plenty of fumbles and 11 interceptions thrown. Darnold has actually played his way out of being the first quarterback selected in the 2018 draft, but will want to prove new doubters wrong against another top level prospect.

3. Bret Bielema’s last game (or two)

Arkansas is 4-6 this season and another loss takes them out of bowl eligibility. Bret Bielema has not been great as the head man of the Razorbacks, with a terrible SEC record and a losing record overall. With a loss this weekend, Bielema is likely going to have to find a new job.

Mississippi State comes to town to take on the Razorbacks. The Bulldogs have a lot to play for still, as they can still make a New Year’s Six bowl game. Arknasas, on the other hand, almost lost to FBS bottom feeders, Coastal Carolina at home, so it should be a relatively easy win for Mississippi State.

Without a win, resulting in no bowl game, Arkansas will likely move on from Bielema after the game, or at season’s end. The Arkansas administration has already gotten rid of athletic director Jeff Long, so the next athletic director will likely want their own people. The only question is: How many SEC jobs are going to be open by the end of the season?

4. Mike Riley’s last few games at Nebraska

College football week 12

Mike Riley (Photo by mlive.com)

Nebraska’s athletic director has had to answer question about Mike Riley’s status as coach, which isn’t a good sign. What is worse is that all he can say is that Riley deserves to finish the season. That means he is likely gone after the season and Nebraska is yet another big program that will be looking for a new head coach.

If Riley has any thoughts about saving his job, he needs to win the last two games of the season. The problem is that those two games are going to be tough. This week they play at Penn State, while next week they get to take on Iowa at home. Both of these will likely be losses for the Cornhuskers.

It was a short tenure at Nebraska for Riley, but since they fired Bo Pelini after continually getting eight wins, firing Riley is the right call.

5. Blowouts

This week is filled with games designed to be blowouts with rivalry week coming up. While blowouts usually aren’t great to watch, some of the games could result in a broken scoreboard due to how many points are scored. Can anyone break 70 this week?

Oklahoma plays Kansas in a game that is pretty self-explanatory. Baker Mayfield will get a chance to pad his Heisman campaign with some explosive plays. Ohio State plays one of the worst power 5 teams, Illinois. It should be a good way to get the offense clicking before the game against Michigan.

Throw in a lot of teams playing FCS competition and the week will have plenty of blowouts. Try to tune into the limited amount of good games this weekend and prepare for rivalry week.

 

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College football week 12 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make college football picks for week 12, which includes all games involving FBS teams. There have been plenty of touchdowns, sacks and big plays with more to come. Here are the picks for the week:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Central Michigan Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, OH C. Mich CMU
Ohio Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Ohio Ohio
Eastern Michigan Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Miami (OH) Miami
Western Michigan Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU NIU
Toledo Bowling Green Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH Toledo Toledo
Buffalo Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN Ball St Ball St
Tulsa South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Middle Tennessee Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
UNLV New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM New Mex NM
Mercer #2 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Bama Bama
#6 TCU Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX TCU TCU
Virginia #7 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Miami
Michigan #8 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
Louisiana Monroe #10 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
#16 Mississippi State Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Miss State Miss State
#18 UCF Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA UCF UCF
SMU #22 Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Minnesota #25 Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
Cincinnati East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECTC UC
Texas West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
Rutgers Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Indiana IU
Delaware State Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL FSU FSU
The Citadel #4 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
Pittsburgh #17 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT VT
Rice Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
Fresno State Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Wyoming Wyoming
#21 Iowa State Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Iowa St ISU
Arizona State Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Arizona St ASU
Charlotte Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS So Miss USM
Louisiana Tech UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX La Tech La Tech
Western Carolina North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC UNC-CH UNC
Hawai’i Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Utah St Utah St.
UMass BYU LaVell Edwards Stadium, Provo, UT BYU BYU
Texas State Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Ark St Ark State
South Alabama Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA USA USA
Kentucky #1 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
Navy #3 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
#5 Oklahoma Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Oklahoma Oklahoma
Illinois #13 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH OSU OSU
Margin of victory 52 43
Kansas State #15 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK State Ok State
Purdue #20 Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
San Jose State Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Col St Col St
Syracuse Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Georgia Tech Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC GT GT
Maryland #12 Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Mich St MSU
Nebraska #14 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St PSU
Wofford South Carolina Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC SC SC
UAB Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL UAB UF
Houston Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Houston Houston
Coastal Carolina Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID Idaho Idaho
New Mexico State Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
Army North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX Army Army
#24 LSU Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN LSU LSU
Arizona Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Arizona Arizona
Texas A&M Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss TAMU
Boston College Connecticut Fenway Park, Boston, MA BC BC
Marshall UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX Marshall Marshall
Florida Intl Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU FAU
#23 NC State Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake NC State
Missouri Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Mizzou Mizzou
UCLA #11 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
California Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Stanford
Air Force Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Utah #9 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
Nevada San Diego State SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
Gameday Guest Picker (Madison, WI) Ron Dayne Ron Dayne

Five things we learned in college football week 8

Every team is now half way through their season, which has given fans an idea of how good teams are. While there are still a lot of more good games in the next few weeks, a lot has been learned. Here is what we learned in week 8:

1. Notre Dame and Josh Adams are for real

Notre Dame didn’t just beat USC, they blew them out. Their running game was going and Brandon Wimbush showed that he can make good throws down the field. USC may not have been as good as expected, but the Fighting Irish still dominated a solid team that has a possible number one overall draft pick on its roster.

Josh Adams has inserted himself into the Heisman Trophy race. He has the most average yards after contact and has broken several big runs on the season. In seven games on the season he has 967 rushing yards on 9.2 yards per carry with eight total touchdowns. Not only does he need to get more love in the talk about the Heisman, but also needs to get more love in terms of the NFL Draft.

Adams and Notre Dame still have some tough games to end the season, but they are in a good position to reach their goals.

2. Penn State is really good, Michigan is not

College Football week 8

James Franklin (Photo by: philly.com)

The Nittany Lions got their payback on Michigan for last season and won big. Saquon Barkley enhanced his Heisman campaign and helped the Penn State offense make Michigan’s defense look bad. Coming into the game Michigan’s defense was one of the best in the country, but it now looks like their numbers may have been inflated due to the level of competition they have played.

Michigan failed to stop Barkley this year, but a lot of teams have failed with that. The defense had a bad game, but it’s the offense that has real problems. They can’t move the ball and have few playmakers on offense. With two losses in the Big Ten already, it looks like Michigan is headed to a fourth place finish in their own division, the Big Ten East. It is still one of the best divisions in football, but Michigan expected better things this year.

We’ll find out even more about the Big Ten East when Penn State travels to Ohio State in week nine.

3. Khalil Tate is must see T.V.

Khalil Tate didn’t start the season as Arizona’s starting quarterback, but has come on and dominated the last few weeks of the college football season. He has generated over 1,000 yards of offense in the last three games alone. The dual-threat quarterback has also totaled 11 touchdowns in that stretch too. He is the quintessential stat sheet stuffer.

Not only has Tate come in and put up some stats, he has made Arizona a much better football team. In the past three weeks Tate has helped the Wildcats rack up wins on the road against Colorado and Cal, while they have also beaten UCLA on their home turf. They still have to outscore every team they play, because their defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Wildcats have to feel good with Tate at the helm.

It is still conceivable that Arizona could win the PAC-12 South. They are 3-1 in conference and play both USC and Arizona State still, their biggest competition for the spot in the Pac-12 Championship. The next two weeks will be tough with games against Washington State and USC, so Tate will have to prove himself once again.

4. The American Athletic Conference will be in a New Year’s Six Bowl

College Football Week 8

Quinton Flowers (Photo by: tampabay.com)

With San Diego State losing last week, it has made it a lot easier for an AAC team to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The only question is: Which one? There were three ranked AAC teams in action this weekend and all three came out with wins. If they can avoid beating up on each other, one of them will be in a major bowl game.

On Friday Memphis beat Houston on the road. The Tigers are 6-1 and should be able to win the AAC West. Their only loss is to UCF, who is another one of the ranked AAC teams. They only have one more tough game in the regular season, against SMU. They should be able to win out and get into a New Year’s Six play-in game in the AAC Championship.

USF was able to hold on against a very inconsistent and streaky Tulane team. They are still undefeated at 7-0, but haven’t played an FBS team that has a record above .500. They will be tested this week against Houston. If the Bulls can get by this week with a win, they likely set up a top 15 matchup with UCF at the end of the season before the AAC Championship.

The Golden Knights of UCF have are also undefeated at 6-0. They have blown out Maryland and Memphis to show that they aren’t messing around. Their game against Georgia Tech got cancelled due to a hurricane, which would have been another opportunity for a big win. This week the Golden Knights were able to beat a previously ranked Navy team 31-21.

In a few weeks there could be three top 15 AAC teams vying for a New Year’s Six Bowl Game if they don’t slip up beforehand.

5. Bret Bielema is another SEC coach on the hot seat

Everyone knows about Butch Jones being on the hot seat, but Bielema has done an even worse job this season and if he doesn’t turn it around fast he will be gone. The Razorbacks lost 52-20 to Auburn this weekend in their fifth loss of the season already. They have been blown out in all of their losses except their game against Texas A&M. The only wins on the season for Arkansas so far are against Florida A&M (FCS) and New Mexico State.

This season is on pace to be Arkansas’ worst season since Bielema’s first season when the Razorbacks finished 3-9. Bielema hasn’t been successful in his four and a half years as the head coach. They have an overall record of 27-31 and an abysmal SEC record of 10-26. While their shouldn’t be the highest expectations for Arkansas football, that isn’t good enough. If he doesn’t finish strong it is time for a change.

Arkansas still has games against Ole Miss, Coastal Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri on their schedule. While they should beat Coastal Carolina, they will have to grind out wins in their other games. They need to win four of their last five to make a bowl game and perhaps save Bielema’s job.

 

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