Five things to watch for in college football week 8

Week seven was crazy and has college football fans ready for some more exciting times. There are only eight undefeated teams left in the FBS and there is sure to be more upsets and shake ups. Here are five things to watch in college football this week:

1. the battle for the jeweled shillelagh

College football week 8

Sam Darnold (Photo by nfl.com)

Notre Dame and USC play in the best game of the weekend in South Bend. The winner will put themselves in the talk for the College Football Playoff. The Fighting Irish lead the all time series 44-36-5, but have only won six of these matchups since 2000. There is so much history to this great rivalry and this looks like another game that will be one to remember.

The Trojans come in to this game after a close win over Utah. USC only has one loss on the season, which came to Washington State. Their offense will be led by Sam Darnold, who has not lived up to the hype so far this season. If he can protect the football while making plays, much like he did last year, USC can win. They have a good passing offense and an average defense, so it all hinges on Darnold.

Brian Kelly’s crew has worked their way all the way to number 13 in the rankings and have only lost to Georgia by one point. They have one of the best rushing offenses in the country and their defense is vastly improved over last season. The running game, led by Josh Adams, will be slowed, so Brandon Wimbush needs to complete passes down the field  to stretch the defense out.

2. Saquon Barkley vs. Michigan’s defense

Barkley has been electrifying this season and now is the leader to win the Heisman. He also will likely be drafted very highly in the 2018 NFL Draft. He is a dynamic player, but needs to prove that he can produce against great defenses, something he struggled with last season. Barkley can change the games in so many ways that Penn State can use him in the return game as well.

In one of the biggest games of the weekend, Barkley and the Nittany Lions will take on Michigan. The Wolverines have been struggling as of late, as they needed overtime to beat Indiana. One thing that hasn’t changed is Michigan’s defense. It is still tough and is the eighth best scoring defense in the country. Devin Bush is a linebacker that is all over the field and is a great player in his own right. He will need to lead the charge in slowing down Barkley.

Penn State will likely win the game, but it will be interesting to see how Barkley performs against this tough defense.

3. Can Texas finally pull off an upset?

College Football week 8

Tom Herman (photo by nvue.com)

Texas has come so close to getting a big win for Tom Herman, but have come up short. First they lost a close game in overtime to USC, who was heavily favored to win. Last week they were leading Oklahoma in the fourth quarter, before Baker Mayfield was able to lead the Sooners to victory. Herman has a knack for getting his teams ready to go for big games. Is this the week they finally get the job done?

Oklahoma State is traveling to Austin to play the Longhorns. They have a high powered offense that is number one in passing yards per game and tied for first in points per game. Their disappointing loss to TCU looks better now that the Horned Frogs are still undefeated. The defense is vulnerable, but Texas may not be able to win a shootout against them.

The game will feature Malik Jefferson and Poona Ford on the Texas defense going against the NFL level talent, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, on Oklahoma State’s offense. How many times can Texas come close?

4. Butch Jones’ Hot seat boiling

Tennessee lost a close game with South Carolina last week 15-9. Jones, while doing his damage control, mentioned that the team did everything to win the game besides score touchdowns. He must’ve forgotten that scoring touchdowns is the main job of any offense. He has covered up a fight between teammates and is in full on survival mode.

The Volunteers are 3-3, which is worse than the high expectations that Tennessee fans had going into the season. This week Tennessee gets to visit Alabama for what should be a pretty big beating. The Crimson Tide are favored by 36 points and if they put their foot down on the gas they should be able to win by even more.

At this rate the question is not if Butch Jones gets fired, it’s when.

5. Josh Allen vs. Boise State

College football week 8

Josh Allen (Photo by usatoday.com)

Josh Allen was thought of as a high first round draft pick before the season started, but has not played well against good competition. He struggled against both Oregon and Iowa. He has athletic ability and size that has been compared to Cam Newton, but hasn’t made good decisions. It is not totally his fault as his team, Wyoming, doesn’t have the most talent to help him out.

This week Allen is going up against a solid Boise State defense. Last week the Broncos shut down Rashaad Penny of San Diego State, who was in the running for the Heisman. The challenge this week is a bit different, so it remains to be seen if Boise State can step up. This game also has a big impact on the Mountain West. Both teams are currently undefeated in the Moutain West Mountain Division.

With all of the highly thought of quarterback prospects playing poorly, Allen has an opportunity to get hot and get back on track.

 

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College Football week 8 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their college football picks for week eight including all games that include FBS teams.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Louisiana Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Ark St Ark St
#25 Memphis Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Memphis Memphis
Western Kentucky Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA WKU WKU
Marshall Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN Marshall Marshall
Air Force Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Air Force AF
Colorado State New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM Col St Col St
Maryland #5 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
#10 Oklahoma State Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX OK State Ok St
Tulsa Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Tulsa Tulsa
Akron Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Iowa Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL Iowa NW
Purdue Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Purdue Purdue
Louisville Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL Fla St FSU
Idaho Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Mizzou
Iowa State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX TTU TTU
Temple Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Pittsburgh Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
Boston College Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Uva UVA
Troy Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Troy Troy
Kent State Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Northern Illinois Bowling Green Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH NIU NIU
Western Michigan Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU WMU
Buffalo Miami (OH) Yager Stadium, Oxford, OH Buffalo Miami
Central Michigan Ball State Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN CMU CMU
Tennessee #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
Syracuse #8 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Miami
North Carolina #14 Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT VT
Indiana #18 Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Mich St MSU
#20 UCF Navy Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD UCF UCF
Coastal Carolina Appalachian State Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone, NC App St App St
Georgia Southern UMass Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst, MA Umass Umass
Arizona State Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Arizona St ASU
Illinois Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
#9 Oklahoma Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS Oklahoma Oklahoma
Kentucky Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss St Miss St
Oregon UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA UCLA UCLA
SMU Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH SMU SMU
Louisiana Monroe South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
North Texas Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL N. Texas N Texas
Utah State UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV Utah St Utah St
UAB Charlotte McColl-Richardson Field, Charlotte, NC UAB UAB
#16 South Florida Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA USF USF
Southern Mississippi Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA USM USM
Rice UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
BYU East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC BYU BYU
#24 LSU Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS LSU LSU
#19 Michigan #2 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
#11 USC #13 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND USC
#21 Auburn Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Auburn Auburn
Wake Forest Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA GT GT
Kansas #4 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
Margin of Victory 30 34
#23 West Virginia Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX WVU WVU
Arizona California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Arizona Arizona
Wyoming Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Fresno State San Diego State SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
Colorado #15 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
Gameday Guest Picker (University Park) Ty Burrell Lisa Salters

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Five things we learned from college football week 7

It was a great weekend of college football that really changed the College Football Playoff picture. It may not have looked like a great weekend going into it, but whenever that is the case, crazy things happen. Here are five things we learned from the wild weekend.

1. Never underestimate an opponent

College football week 7

Manny Wilkins (Photo by azcentral.com)

This was the first weekend this season of no matchups between ranked opponents. It looked like a lot of the teams were going to win big time, but that turned into a lot of big upsets. On Friday Clemson lost on the road to Syracuse, despite being over 20 point favorites. Washington State got absolutely decimated by Cal 37-34.

The craziness continued on Saturday. West Virginia beat a newly ranked Texas Tech team, while Memphis upset Navy. Weeks after questioning Ed Oregeron’s capabilities at LSU, he led the Tigers to an upset win over Auburn. San Diego State suffered their first loss of the season to Boise State. To cap things off, Arizona State upset the number five team in the country, Washington.

All in all, seven ranked teams lost, which included four teams that were ranked in the top 10. The chaos is just getting started.

2. Alabama is the best team in the country

While this isn’t too much of a surprise, this was a debate last week. With Clemson losing, Alabama stands alone as the best team in the country, without any team that is being touted as a great challenger.

The Crimson Tide struggled to get past Texas A&M last week, but this week was able to roll past Arkansas. The defense has been elite, while the running game has been dominant. On top of that Jalen Hurts has been protecting the football, which is all he needs to do to get Alabama wins. Hurts threw his first interception of the season against the Razorbacks, so if he can keep up his ability to not turn the ball over, the Crimson Tide will have a huge advantage in any game.

With the rest of the SEC West beating up on each other, it doesn’t look like Alabama will be tested too much in the regular season.

3. Baker Mayfield is tough and clutch

College football week 7

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

The Red River Rivalry was one of the best games of the weekend. Texas put up a good fight and had a fourth quarter lead behind a gutty performance from Sam Ehlinger at quarterback. Unfortunately for them it wasn’t enough as Baker Mayfield was able to lead the Sooners back to victory.

Mayfield was driven into the ground and hurt his throwing shoulder during the game. He had it worked on by the trainers and was able to play through the pain. It came to the point were Mayfield had to throw, as the Sooners were behind in the fourth quarter. He let a pass rip to Mark Andrews down the sideline, which turned into a game-winning score.

While Mayfield isn’t the leader for the Heisman right now, he certainly has had a lot of memorable moments.

4. Butch Jones is getting fired

Tennessee lost a close game at home to South Carolina. They failed to get the offense going, with offense being head coach Butch Jones’ specialty. The Volunteers were only able to manage to score nine points and they only needed 16 to win the game.

Butch Jones was already on the hot seat, but after another loss, he may be getting fired earlier than expected despite a huge buyout clause in his contract. Tennessee is now 3-3 as they head into a game with Alabama. Their back half of the schedule also has big games against LSU, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, so it will not be easy to get to bowl eligibility.

Watch the bottom ticker on your screens the next couple of weeks as Jones could be getting the ax at any moment from here on out.

5. UAB can get to a bowl

College football week 7

Bill Clark (Photo by cbssports.com)

In probably the craziest story of the year, UAB is having a very successful season in their first year back as a college football program. They program was cancelled after the 2014 season and after a few seasons off, have made it back to the highest level of college football.

The Blazers beat Middle Tennessee this weekend, as they were able to take advantage of a banged up Blue Raiders team. Now UAB sits at 4-2 with a couple easy games left on the schedule. If they can get two more wins, they will make their second bowl game in their history.

This season has already seen a lot of wacky results, but it would be such a wild story if a newly reinstated team was able to make a bowl game.

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College football week 7 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger continue their season long picks of every FBS college football game for week 7. Here are the picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Texas State Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
#2 Clemson Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Clemson Clemson
#8 Washington State California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Wash St Washington State
#6 TCU Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS TCU TCU
#17 Michigan Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Michigan Michigan
#20 NC State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA NC State NC State
#24 Texas Tech West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV Texas Tech West Virginia
Florida State Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC FSU FSU
Rutgers Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Illini Illinois
Eastern Michigan Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
BYU Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss St Miss State
South Carolina Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN Tennessee South Carolina
Kansas Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Iowa St Iowa State
Connecticut Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple Temple
Boston College Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
UNLV Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
Old Dominion Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Marshall Marshall
Purdue #7 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
#10 Auburn LSU Tiger Stadium , Baton Rouge, LA Auburn Auburn
Georgia Tech #11 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Georgia Tech
#12 Oklahoma Texas Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX Oklahoma Oklahoma
Baylor #14 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK St Ok St
Virginia North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC Uva UVA
Northwestern Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Maryland Northwestern
Vanderbilt Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Vandy Vandy
Akron Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Miami (OH) Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, OH Miami (OH) Miami
Northern Illinois Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY NIU NIU
Ohio Bowling Green Doyt Perry Stadium, Bowling Green, OH Ohio Ohio
Toledo Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI Toledo Toledo
#25 Navy Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Houston Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Houston Houston
Colorado Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR Colorado Colorado
Charlotte Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Wyoming Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Utah St Utah St
Georgia State Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA ULM ULM
Appalachian State Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID App St App St
New Mexico State Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA NMSU NMSU
Middle Tennessee UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL MTSU MTSU
East Carolina #22 UCF Spectrum Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Margin of victory 36 25
UT San Antonio North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX UNT UTSA
UTEP Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS USM USM
Tulane Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL Tulane Tulane
Texas A&M Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Florida TAMU
Coastal Carolina Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Ark St Ark State
Arkansas #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Bama Bama
Missouri #4 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia UGA
#9 Ohio State Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE OSU OSU
Cincinnati #18 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Utah #13 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
#21 Michigan State Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Mich St Mich ST
UCLA Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Arizona
New Mexico Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno Fresno
Nevada Colorado State CSU Stadium, Fort Collins, CO Col St Col St
Boise State #19 San Diego State SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
#5 Washington Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Washington Washington
Oregon #23 Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Stanford
San José State Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawaii Hawaii
Villanova James Madison James Madison James Madison
Gameday Guest Picker (Harrisonburg, VA) Lindsey Czarniak Phil Vassar

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Five things to watch for in college football week 7

College football is in week seven and here are some things to watch:

1. Can Big 12 teams break the scoreboard?

College football week 7

Nick Shimonek (Photo by zimbio.com)

This weekend Texas Tech takes on West Virginia in Morgantown. Both teams score a lot of points and aren’t great at playing defense. While these teams likely won’t do too much in terms of the national landscape, this will be a fun game to watch with a lot of passing and points scored.

Texas Tech has Nic Shimonek at quarterback who has already thrown for over 1,800 yards and looks like the next good Red Raider to put up a lot of stats. He has helped Texas Tech score 46.8 points per game. Kliff Kingsbury likes to throw it all around the field, having Shimonek average 39 passes per game.

The Mountaineers average 43.9 points per game and have scored at least 24 points in every single game. Will Grier has brought life to the team and has a few talented receivers to throw to in David Sills and Ka’Raughn White. They will be slinging the ball around trying to keep up with the Red Raiders.

2. How does Michigan bounce back?

Michigan lost to Michigan State this week for their first loss of the season. Despite that being their only loss, the Wolverines haven’t looked all that good in other games this season. They certainly don’t look like contenders for the Big Ten.

This week the Wolverines are taking on Indiana on the road. The Hoosiers are 3-2 and look like a decent team that will make a bowl game. John O’Korn will be starting for Michigan again and has to help the offense limit turnovers. The Wolverine defense is good enough to keep them in the game, the offense just has to score a few times.

While they don’t look good, Michigan should be able to beat Indiana. This game’s final score will be low, but Michigan’s defense is full of playmakers.

3. Red River Rivalry

College Football week 7

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

Oklahoma and Texas play in their annual game in Dallas and this year it looks like it could be a good one for a variety of different reasons.

The Sooners are coming off of a loss to Iowa State. They will be mad and now have no margin for error. Baker Mayfield has 15 touchdowns and no interceptions this season and will be looking for blood. His Heisman campaign took a hit last week, but he can get it back on track this week.

Texas is a team that played well in their only big matchup this season, the game at USC. Tom Herman has a weird way of getting his team hyped up for big games. They have some talented NFL level talent on their defense, including Malik Jefferson and Poona Ford. At the very least watching these players go up against the Sooner offense will be entertaining.

4. San Diego State get a home test

Boise State travels to San Diego State for a Mountain West clash. The Aztecs are favored by seven and it should be a very entertaining game.

The Broncos may have lost to Virginia, but they are still a very solid Mountain West team and program. They are 3-2 and look like they should be able to still compete in the Mountain West.

San Diego State has been on a tear this season. They are already 6-0 with key wins over Stanford and Arizona State. If they keep this up, there is no doubt they will be playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. They also have a Heisman contender in Rashaad Penny. He is a long shot to win the award, but is still worth watching every game he plays.

5. Battle of the SEC West Tigers

College football week 7

Kerryon Johnson (Photo by al.com)

The Tigers of the SEC West are facing off this weekend and both teams are in very different places right now. Last year these teams played the losing coach, Les Miles, got fired because of it. If Gus Malzahn would have lost the game, he would’ve been fired, but things have changed now.

Ed Orgeron has gotten a lot of criticism for losing to Troy, but rebounded nicely with the road win over Florida. He still has some heat coming his way, but a win in this game would do a lot to ease that. LSU’s offense still isn’t great, but they have a lot of talent on the team.

Auburn looks like they have a good football team, but they lost their only big game this season to Clemson. Traveling to Death Valley is never easy though. The offense has the running game going behind a healthy Kerryon Johnson. The defense has been a dominant unit this season and has Auburn looking like the second best team in the SEC West.

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Five things we learned in college football week 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

College football week 3

Baker Mayfield (Photo by usatoday.com)

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

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

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

3. The SEC West is murky behind Alabama

Week 3 college football

Nick Fitzgerald (Photo by al.com)

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

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

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

4. Don’t kick to Dante Pettis

Week 3 college football

Dante Pettis (Photo by seattletimes.com)

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

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

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

5. It’s going to be a wacky season

College football week 3

Chase McGrath (Photo by nbclosangeles.com)

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

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

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

 

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Five things to watch in college football week 3

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

1. Clemson’s Defensive Front vs. Lamar Jackson

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Lamar Jackson (Photo by si.com)

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

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

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

2. Two great quarterback prospects dueling

Five things to watch for in college football week 3

Justin Herbert (Photo by kgw.com)

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

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

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

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

3. Rematch of a National Championship

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Vince Young (Photo by si.com)

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

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

4. SEC East matchups

Five things to watch in week 3 college football

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

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

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

5. Upset alerts in the early games

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Riley Ferguson (Photo by zimbio.com)

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

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

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

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

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Ten best non-conference games for college football in 2017

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

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

Best Non-conference games

(Photo by manhattanhokies.com)

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

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

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

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

9. Notre Dame at 14 Stanford, nov. 25

Best Non-conference games

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

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

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

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

8. 15 Georgia at Notre Dame, Sep. 9

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

7. 4 USC at Notre Dame, oct. 21

best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

6. 23 Texas at 4 USC, Sep. 16

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

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

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

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

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

3. 12 Auburn at 5 Clemson, Sep. 9

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best non-conference games

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 20-16

The anticipation is growing for football. It starts this month and fans are excited to see what happens this season after a thrilling finish to the 2016 season. College football preseason polls have no impact on what happens during the season, but it is fun to speculate as to which teams will be doing well in the upcoming season.

This is the second edition of the preseason rankings. The first installment is here.

20. Texas Longhorns

College Football top 25

Shane Buechele (Photo by hookem.com)

Charlie Strong is out and Tom Herman is in. Herman will try to restore the Longhorns to glory after raising Houston’s program to new heights the last two seasons. Last season Texas won five games and returns 17 starters on offense and defense. With Herman and the players coming back, the Longhorns are supposed to take a step forward this season.

Shane Buechele showed flashes as a freshman of being the next great Texas quarterback, and will also be expected to step his game up this season. Eight of his 10 top receivers from last year return with the 6’6″ Collin Johnson being a dynamic player. He will burst onto the college football scene in 2017.

The offensive line returns a lot of returning experience. Connor Williams is a junior left tackle that has been starting since he was a freshman. He will likely be a first round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The powerful Chris Warren III will take over full time as running back after averaging 6.3 yards per carry in his first two years as a Longhorn. The offense will be high-powered once again, especially with Herman’s blueprint.

Defensively, Texas has been disappointing in the Charlie Strong era. They do return a lot of talent, especially at the linebacker position, where three starters return. They are led by Malik Jefferson, who is extremely talented and one of the best linebackers in the country. In front of Jefferson, three defensive linemen return, with tackle Poona Ford being the most notable.

The secondary hasn’t been producing the NFL talent that they used to and it will likely be a problem for them again. They have four returning starters, but they allowed 258.5 yards per game, so improvements need to be made.

Texas has a decently tough schedule that features non-conference games against Maryland and USC. Games in conference against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and West Virginia could also give them trouble. They will lose to USC and drop two to three other games in the tough conference stretch. The Longhorns are staring a 8-4 record if they win the games they are capable of.

19. Miami Hurricanes

College football top 25

Mark Walton (Photo by: miamiherald.com)

If Brad Kaaya had come back for one more season, Hurricane fans would be off the wall with excitement. They still have a solid team heading into Mark Richt’s second year. Miami was able to finish 9-4 in 2016 capped off with a win in the Russell Athletic Bowl against West Virginia. They have 14 returning starters that should help them compete for an ACC Coastal Division title.

Malik Rosier will likely take over the offense this season after having limited experience the last two seasons. He is a dual-threat quarterback. If he struggles freshman N’Kosi Perry is the only other viable option to play. If they can find a quarterback, this team can be successful. Ahmmon Richards is the best returning play-maker at wide receiver and should break out this season, as the rest of the receivers are unproven.

At running back Mark Walton ran for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, but will likely get more touches this season. He will need to take pressure off of the new quarterback. The offensive line returns four starters and should be able to protect the quarterbacks and clear holes for Walton.

The front seven of this team is going to be really good and they are going to need to be for the Hurricanes to be successful. They return all starters on last year’s front seven. Sophomores Joe Jackson and Shaquille Quarterman are players to watch, as Jackson has the most sacks of a returning player, while Quarterman has the most tackles returning.

The secondary is very inexperienced and will need to find guys who can make a difference. Miami had the 18th best scoring defense in 2016, but it will be hard to live up to that with such an inexperienced defensive backfield.

Games in the non-conference schedule aren’t too hard, but they do have a rematch with Notre Dame. Their tougher games in conference are: at Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and at Pittsburgh. Richt should be able to guide this team to at least an 8-4 record with good quarterback play.

18. South Florida Bulls

college football top 25

Quinton Flowers (Photo by orlandosentinel.com)

Charlie Strong goes to a team that will win more games than Texas, but in a worse conference. USF only lost two games last season and ended up beating South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. With 16 returning starters, the Bulls are looking to play in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

Quinton Flowers helped lead USF  to the fourth highest scoring offense in the country with his dual-threat abilities. He accounted for over 4,000 yards of offense and is the leading returning passer and rusher. His partner in crime in the backfield, Marlon Mack, has moved on to the NFL, but D’Ernest Johnson brings some experience at running back and is a pass catching threat out of the backfield.

Johnson is the leading returning receiver, but Marquez Valdez-Scantling will be asked to do a lot more this season. He is a big target at 6’5″ and will need to use his height to create separation. The Bulls return three starters on the offensive line and should have a good unit that allows the offense to thrive once again.

The Bulls return their leading tackler from last year, Auggie Sanchez, who has made 37 career starts already. He will man the middle of the defense at the linebacker position. All of the defensive lineman are returning starters and should help free up Sanchez to get to the ball.

Deatrick Nichols leads an experienced secondary and may have a chance to play in the NFL. The problem is that they give up way too many yards through the air and will need Strong to fix it. He couldn’t fix the defense at Texas, but he does have a lot of returning players to work with at USF.

USF is actually favored in all of their games. They will have tough games against Temple and Houston, but should be able to manage wins. The Bulls will at the very least go 10-2 and win the AAC East, but will likely do better than that. Don’t hold your breath for a College Football Playoff Berth if they go undefeated, because their schedule is really bad. They will be able to get the “Group of Five” bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game.

17. Stanford Cardinal

College football top 25

Harrison Phillips (Photo by scout.com)

Two first round picks are gone in Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey, but the Cardinal will be good once again. In 2016 Stanford went 10-3 and beat North Carolina in the Sun Bowl in dramatic fashion. David Shaw has 14 returning starters who are ready to get back to the top of the Pac-12 North.

The quarterback situation is the first thing that needs to be figured out. Keller Chryst was successful last year, but hurt his knee in the bowl game. If he is healthy he should be the starter. If not the job goes to Ryan Burns, who started the 2016 season as the signal-caller for Stanford, or K.J. Costello, a talented newcomer.

Bryce Love will fill the shoes of McCaffrey and be explosive. He is back after averaging a whopping 7.2 yards per rush in his first two seasons. Trenton Irwin and Dalton Schultz are the most experienced pass-catchers returning, but they don’t have the greatest production yet. With four returning starters on the offensive line and a good running back, the Cardinal will look to pound the rock once again in 2017.

Two out of three defensive linemen are returning starters and Harrison Phillips will have to raise his level of productivity from his tackle position. The Cardinal have a lot of experience back at linebacker which should help the scoring defense that ranked 18th last year be very good again.

In the secondary two starters are back. Quenton Meeks is a talented corner and Justin Reid is the leading tackler on the team from his safety position.

The non-conference slate includes games against Rice, San Diego State and Notre Dame, all of which they should be favored in. Their tough games in conference include games with USC, Utath, Oregon, Washington State and Washington. With the amount of talent coming back Stanford bottoms out with an 8-4 record, but could win as many as 10 games.

16. Michigan Wolverines

college football top 25

Mason Cole (Photo by mwolverine.com)

Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting will be put to the test this season as the team returns five starters in total. Their talented team last season finished 10-3 with a loss in the Orange Bowl to Florida State to finish off the season. There might be some growing pains with this Wolverine team, but they do have talent.

Wilton Speight returns at quarterback, but hasn’t played particularly well. Last season he threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns, but with only four other returning starters he will be expected to do more. His targets won’t have a lot of experience, but Eddie McDoom returns some experience running sweeps. Donovan Peoples-Jones is an extremely talented freshman, who will likely have to play a lot early in his career.

Two starters return on the offensive line, which includes Mason Cole, who uniquely can play either center or left tackle. They ranked 33rd in the country in rushing last season, but De’Veon Smith has graduated and now Chris Evans and Ty Isaac will both get shots to carry the football for Michigan.

The defense is what takes a huge hit, as they return just one starter. Mike McCray plays linebacker and has the only starting experience worth noting. The defensive line has talent, including former number one overall recruit Rashan Gary.

The secondary was great last season, which helped the Wolverines be the best defense against the pass, but now new players will be called upon. David Long is a talented corner and likely the best of the bunch. Defensive coordinator Dom Brown, a.k.a Dr. Blitz, has his work cut out for him.

Michigan has eight games that they should win this season. Their matchups with Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State will be tough challenges. With a floor of eight wins and the possibility to win one or two of their tougher games, Michigan will be among the top 25 teams in the country again in 2017.

 

Featured image by finebaumfan.com

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Mohamed Bamba

You’ll want to remember this name: Mohamed Bamba

This year’s recruiting class has been very interesting to watch. Players are finalizing their decisions, committing and signing with schools and looking ahead to their college careers.

One player has stood out though: Mohamed Bamba.

He is the No. 3 prospect in the nation, and he recently chose Texas over Kentucky, Duke and Michigan. The Longhorns’ 2017 class is ranked fifth in the nation according to ESPN’s most recent rankings.

Why he chose texas

If there was one word to describe the Harlem native, it would be unconventional. Bamba is a high-profile recruit who could turn the college scene upside down next year. The 7-footer could be a big contributor to Texas’ high strung press. If he can use his length on defense around the rim, he’ll be hard to stop.

Mohamed Bamba

Mohamed Bamba, No. 3 recruit in the nation (Photo by Getty Images)

The Longhorns were 4-14 in conference play last season and 11-22 overall. They don’t have the best track record in the postseason either. They didn’t make it to the tournament this past season, and they lost to Northern Iowa in the first round of the 2016 tournament. In 2015, they lost to Butler in the second round.

Needless to say, they have a lot of room for improvement.  Texas also has a very competitive conference with West Virginia, Baylor and Kansas. However, why would one of the top prospects choose a team that did so poorly over some of the top teams in the nation?

That’s just who he is. He does things people wouldn’t expect. He’ll be in the spotlight a lot more than he would be at Kentucky or Duke. He would stand out regardless of the school he chose, but he’ll really stand out at Texas. Some people are predicting him to be a top-five draft pick for 2018, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What sets him apart

Mohamed Bamba is distinct for many reasons. The 7-footer has a wingspan of 7-foot-9 and a standing reach of 9-foot-6, which is incredible. As a senior he averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks per game at Westtown High School. He also brought home two state titles for the school his junior and senior years, the first state titles the school has ever had, in any sport.

“It’s his arms, man … his arms,” said Ayton, who’s taking his No. 1 ranking to Arizona next year. “He will contest every shot. And trust me, he’s going to block you. When I say he dominates the defensive end, it’s crazy. Like, for me to not even go in the post and be out shooting jumpers? It’s like — that’s what coaches want. He takes you out of your game. He’s dominant.”

-DeAndre Ayton, University of Arizona commit

Bamba will be dominant because he takes players out of their comfort zone. He forces them to shoot shots they wouldn’t normally take. He’s also agile, lengthy, athletic as all get out and quick. No doubt he will be a strong force in the conference, and for the Longhorns in general.

other freshman talent

Mohamed Bamba will be joined by signees Matt Coleman, Jericho Sims, Royce Hamm and Jase Febres. Like mentioned before, they are the fifth-ranked class in the nation.

The Longhorns have been out of the spotlight for the past couple years, but this class could be the one to put them back into college basketball conversation.

Coleman especially will have a big impact at the point guard position. That’s been part of the problem for the Longhorns. They haven’t had leadership from the point guard. Coleman should be able to change that.

The freshmen will also have some upperclassmen talent to round out the team. Andrew Jones will be back for his sophomore season. Kerwin Roach Jr. and Eric Davis Jr. will also be returning as guards. Most importantly, the team has Mohamed Bamba. Trust me, you’ll be hearing his name a lot this year.

 

Featured image by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

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