Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 NFL Draft profile.


The Pittsburgh Steelers were on a roll in 2017. They finished their regular season 13-3 and snagged the AFC North Division title yet again, along with a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 NFL Draft profile

JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo from espn.com)

Overall, the Steelers were a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh finished in the top five in both total offense and defense. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster also broke out in his rookie season on the gridiron.

He finished his debut season with 917 receiving yards and seven touchdown, along with a kickoff returned for a touchdown. His talents came in handy when star weapon, Antonio Brown, went down for the season with a partially torn calf late in the season.

In addition to his skill set, Smith-Schuster’s touchdown celebrations reflected his love for playing, especially his brief hide and seek game with running back Le’Veon Bell.

However, the black and yellow’s season did not go without its own pains and hardships. In Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals, linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal contusion that scared the entire league. Shazier underwent stabilization surgery, ending his season. But he has been making remarkable progress through rehab since and was selected to his second Pro Bowl. He also stated that he wants to get back into the helmet and shoulder pads once again.

Furthermore, the Steelers suffered a heart-wrenching defeat against the New England Patriots in Week 15. Controversially, a touchdown pass was called back late in the game. The ruling of a no-catch was among many similar incidences in seasons past. New England eventually beat Pittsburgh 27-24.

In addition, the Jacksonville Jaguars cut the Steelers’ playoff run short, beating them 45-42.

Picks and Needs

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seven picks to work with the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steel City will have to address positions in need of youth, as well as depth. General manager Kevin Colbert will once again have to bring in the best available to help prolong the Steelers’ winning ways.

First round (1 pick): 28

Second round (1): 60

Third round (1): 92

Fourth round (0):

Fifth round (2): 148, 165

Sixth round (0):

Seventh round: (2): 220, 246

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – Ben Roethlisberger’s days behind center are not infinite. At 36 years old, the six-time Pro Bowl signal caller will need a successor soon. Though Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs have potential to step in, another name added in the unit can keep the position competitive. It can also prove to be helpful if Big Ben gets injured.

Defensive needs:

Middle linebacker – Shazier was the spark plug on Pittsburgh’s front seven. He was always one of the first people in pursuit of the ball carrier and made plays in coverage. With Shazier out for now, the Steelers will need the next man who could fly around to the ball and make stops when needed.

Outside linebacker – Long time Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, was trouble for off-tackle run plays and a tenacious edge rusher. Harrison, Pittsburgh’s all-time sacks leader, has recently announced his retirement at 39 years old. The Steelers will need a new, young linebacker that can create pressure off the edge and shut down one side while T.J. Watt handles the other.

Free safety – Pittsburgh will need a free safety that can negate the long plays down the field. In addition, this safety needs to have a nose for the football and can deceive the opposing quarterback into making bad throws.


These are the names the Pittsburgh Steelers can reasonably pick up the upcoming draft.

First round: 

Pick No. 28: Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State

Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Vander Esch, No. 38, Boise State. (Photo from Idaho Press Tribune)

Leighton Vander Esch may have only one full season as a starter at Boise State, but he was a tackling machine with All-Conference honors in the Mountain West. He can change directions with little to no delay and plays sideline to sideline. Plus, at 6-foot-4, 256 pounds, his frame can play to his advantage when making tackles.

Vander Esch has potential to become an instant starter from Week 1.

Second round:

Pick No. 60: Shaquem Griffin, OLB, Central Florida

Shaquem Griffin never let the fact that he has just one hand stop him. During his last two seasons with the UCF Knights, head coach Scott Frost moved Griffin from defensive back to outside linebacker. It is safe to say that the rest is history. Along with All-AAC (American Athletic Conference) honors, Griffin was a focal point in the Knights’ undefeated season in 2017.

On top of that, Griffin took the league by storm at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and recorded 20 reps on the bench press, using a prosthetic.

Griffin also possesses high game IQ and looks to punish on every hit. With his speed and athleticism, Griffin can become a nightmare off the edge. Plus, he can be a great asset on special teams.

Third round:

Pick No. 92: DeShon Elliott, S, Texas

Elliott brings intelligence to the safety position. In 2017, he was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. The All-American Texas Longhorn embraces the physicality needed to play, and can be a weapon in stopping the run. Furthermore, his frame and arm length will give him an advantage in coverage and in his downhill approach.


The upcoming draft will yield opportunities for Pittsburgh to replenish the ranks and bring youth to the roster. With the combination of Kevin Colbert’s eye for talent and head coach Mike Tomlin’s guidance, the new faces can lead the black and gold back into the playoff picture.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Jacksonville Jaguars 2018 NFL Draft profile.


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Cinderella teams to watch for in March Madness

The NCAA Tournament is less than two months away and the excitement around college basketball is starting to build. It won’t be long before the nation starts filling out their brackets. In order to win a bracket challenge, it will likely take knowing what teams can pull off some upsets. Here are the Cinderella teams to watch for in March Madness:

Boise State Broncos

Boise State is the only team on this list that could get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They play in a Mountain West Conference which features Nevada, who are the favorites. If they are unable to win the conference, the Broncos are still off to a great start at 17-4, which has them on the bubble for the big dance.

While they haven’t beaten any teams in the RPI top 50, Boise State has beaten two teams in the top 100: Loyola (Ill) and Oregon. They have no bad losses and are within a few possessions of only having one or two losses. To along with this theme, they have no home losses on the season, only having dropped road and neutral site games.

Their competitive advantage lies in Chandler Hutchison. The 6’7″ wing player has been one of the best players not to be known by too many fans. This season he averages 19.9 points per game and is a matchup nightmare. With 3.4 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game, Hutchison can do it all.

If Boise State makes the NCAA Tournament and Hutchison can get some good support from his teammates, the Broncos can win a few games.

Vermont Catamounts

Cinderella teams in March Madness

Trae Bell-Haynes (Photo by blacktoptv.com)

The Catamounts have made a postseason tournament every year since 2008 and are always competitive in the America East Conference. They look primed for their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Vermont sits at 17-5 on the season and look like they can win the AEC once again.

This season, they too don’t have any wins against the RPI top 50, but have competed well. They lost notable games at Kentucky by four and at Marquette by 10. Their best win this season was over Bradley, who resides in the RPI top 100. They also don’t have a loss at home, losing four on the road and one at a neutral site.

Vermont has been without their best player, Anthony Lamb since the end of December with a foot fracture. The Catamounts are undefeated without him in their last nine games. If he can get back healthy, the team is dangerous. Hopefully with the 6’6″ forward back in the lineup, Vermont can improve on their 323rd ranking in rebounds per game.

With Lamb and Trae Bell-Haynes the Catamounts can compete with most teams in the country.

Buffalo Bulls

Ever since Bobby Hurley arrived on campus the Bulls have been competitive. Even without Hurley anymore Buffalo continues to succeed. They have made the last two NCAA Tournaments, playing tight games with both West Virginia and Miami. This could be the year that the Bulls break through.

Buffalo is 29th in RPI at the moment. While they haven’t beaten any RPI top 50 teams all five of their losses have come to teams in the RPI top 100. Those losses include games to: Cincinnati, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure, Texas A&M and South Dakota State. Their one RPI top 100 win came over Toledo.

They have four guys who can score and average over 13 points per game, which makes them hard to guard. Junior guard C.J. Massinburg averages 18.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He can play with anyone in the country, scoring 29 on Cincinnati and 20 on Texas A&M.

If Massinburg gets hot and gets a little help from his other talented teammates, Buffalo might just surprise people.

Middle Tennesse Blue Raiders

Middle Tennessee is another team that is used to playing in March with two straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. They have gotten past the first round in both years, but can’t get out of the opening weekend of the tournament. This season they have gotten off to a great start at 14-5.

The Blue Raiders also have a very good RPI at 25. They got a big RPI top 50 win over Western Kentucky and a solid RPI top 100 win over Ole Miss. Middle Tennessee has no losses outside the RPI top 100 and all of their losses have come in close games.

Two players have led this team to success. Nick King started his career at Memphis, transferred to Alabama and has finally made his way to Middle Tennessee. He averages 21.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Giddy Potts has been around for the last two NCAA Tournament runs and has 13.4 points per game.

When King and Potts both start to heat up, the Blue Raiders will be hard to beat.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Cinderella teams in March Madness

Mike Daum (Photo by cbssports.com)

The Jackrabbits are another team that won’t be fazed playing on the big stage due to their two tournament appearances the last two seasons. At 17-6 this year, the Jackrabbits could very well make their third straight NCAA Tournament and win a game.

South Dakota State have two solid wins over Buffalo (RPI top 50) and Ole Miss (RPI top 100). They only have one bad loss, which came at the hands of their rivals South Dakota. Other than that bad loss, they have losses to Kansas, Missouri State, Wyoming, Colorado and Wichita State.

If there is one thing the Jackrabbits can do, it is score. They rank 10th in the country at 86.2 points per game. Against Wichita State they scored 85 points, while against Colorado they dropped 103 points. Junior forward Mike Daum is the team leader with 22.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.

Daum is a big reason the Jackrabbits have made the last two NCAA Tournaments and could be the player that gets them a win or two in this year’s tournament.


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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 2017 Las Vegas Bowl

The Las Vegas Bowl is the first game of the bowl season that features teams that regularly produce NFL talent. From Oregon, players such as Marcus Mariota and Kyle Long have started really impressive careers in the NFL. Boise State despite being in a group of five conference has turned out NFL talent like Jay Ajayi, Doug Martin and Demarcus Lawrence. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects from these teams this year:

Boise State Broncos

Jake Roh, TE

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl

Jake Roh (photoy by tucson.com)

Roh has been getting significant playing time since his freshman season at Boise. The senior has 1,288 career receiving yards, including 410 this year. What separates this season for him is the number of touchdowns he has been able to score. He has nine receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

Other tight end prospects will be bigger than his 6’3” 227 pound frame. The production is good, but he will need to show he is athletic as some of the better tight ends in the class in order to get drafted as early as possible.

Projected draft range: 6th round-undrafted free agent

Oregon Ducks

Royce Freeman, RB

Freeman decided to go back to college this season, which may have been the right call considering the amount of good running backs in last year’s draft class. He has 1,475 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He is one of the most productive running backs in NCAA history, ranking seventh in career rushing yards.

Size won’t be an issue with Freeman, as he stands 6’0” tall and weighs in at around 235 pounds. If he runs a 40 yard dash time that is below 4.6, he should be able to get drafted pretty early in the 2018 NFL Draft.

*Freeman has decided to not play in this game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range 2nd round-4th round

Tyrell Cosby, OT

Cosby has been able to help block for Freeman for years now. Blocking for a running back that good is never taken lightly, as Nico Siragusa was drafted out of San Diego State for doing some good work in front of Donnel Pumphrey. Cosby could play tackle or guard, making his versatility an asset.

At 6’5” 320 pounds, his size is good enough to play tackle, even if it is on the shorter side. If he plays guard he will fit right in. All offensive players that play in Oregon’s system will be criticized because of the system they play in, but Kyle Long has been successful in the pros after playing for the Ducks.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

Tyree Robinson, S

NFL Draft prospects in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl

Tyree Robinson (Photo by youtube.com)

While he won’t blow up the stats sheet for any team, Robinson is a solid player that has a ton of experience. He was on a very bad Oregon defense in 2016, but has helped turn the unit around in 2017. He totaled 44 tackles, four passes defended and an interception this year.

Robinson has great height for the safety position at 6’4”. He will need to add some weight, as he comes in at under 200 pounds. A lot of scouts will see him as a player that can add strength ad be a quality safety at the NFL level if he improves.

Projected draft range: 5th round-7th round

Aiden Schneider, K

Schneider is a kicker that will draw some free agent interest. He hit 85% of his field goals in college and over 98% of his extra points. His problem will be that he did not show he could hit a 50 yard field goal this season.

If Scheider can prove that he has the leg power, he is fully capable of making it to camp with an NFL team.

Projected draft range: undrafted free agent


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2017 Las Vegas Bowl Preview

The 2017 Las Vegas Bowl will be the first game during bowl season to feature a top 25 team. It is a fun pairing of teams between Oregon and Boise State. The matchup will feature a lot of offense and is the headliner of the first Saturday slate of bowl games. Here are how the teams look:

25. Boise State Broncos (10-3)

2017 Las Vegas Bowl Preview

Brett Rypien (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Boise State beat Fresno State to become Mountain West champions. They only lost to bowl eligible teams this season in Virginia, Washington State and Fresno State, before the Mountain West Championship Game. As for good wins, Boise State won the game against Fresno State in the MWC Championship Game and also beat Troy and San Diego State.

Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart both got significant time at quarterback for the Broncos. Rypien has been the starter since his freshman year, he is now a junior, but they brought in Cozart as a change of pace. Between the two of them, they have thrown for over 3,200 yards, rushed for over 300 yards, thrown 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. The Broncos’ have one star receiver they try to get the ball to in Cedrick Wilson who has 73 catches for 1,290 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Alexander Mattison is the leading running back on the team with 1,074 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Boise State ranks higher in the country at passing yards per game than rushing yards per game, but overall operate a pretty balanced offense.

The defense has really helped the Broncos be so successful this season, as they allow just 22.6 points per game. They rank 20th in rushing yards allowed and 44th against the pass. Freshman Curtis Weaver has been a great player for Boise State with nine sacks. Jabril Frazier also added six to help make Boise State a good pass rushing team.

Oregon Ducks (7-5)

2017 Las Vegas Bowl Preview

Royce Freeman (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Oregon lost Willie Taggart to Florida State and has hired former offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to take over. He will give the Ducks some stability, which is not common for a team that has a coaching change during bowl season. They were able to go 7-5 this season, with their losses only coming to teams that qualified for bowl games.

The impressive thing about Oregon this season is that their quarterback, Justin Herbert, was injured for five games and they still managed to get bowl eligible. Herbert is very talented and could be picked very early in the NFL Draft when he is eligible. In the seven games he did play, he had 1,750 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions. He did all this while completing 66.5% of his passes. He doesn’t lock in on one target, as Oregon has five receivers that have over 200 receiving yards, but not one has over 400. Charles Nelson leads the way with 392 receiving yards.

Royce Freeman is an Oregon legend for his continued success. He has 5,621 career rushing yards, including 1,475 coming this season. He was able to find the end zone 16 times during his final season for the Ducks. Oregon is the eighth best rushing attack in the country and with Herbert back at quarterback, the offense should be balanced and potent.

The Ducks sport an average scoring defense that allows 28.3 points per game. They are really good at stopping the run, ranking 26th in the country in rush defense. Linebacker Troy Dye is a leader for the Ducks who has 103 total tackles this season.


With Herbert healthy, the Ducks should be able to win the game. They have a great rushing attack that always shows up and when Herbert played this season, Oregon lost just once. Their defense has improved enough this season to slow down Boise State’s offense. Mario Cristobal will get a win in his first game as head coach of the Ducks and carry that momentum into next season.


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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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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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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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Week two college football recap

Week two of college football brought a fun filled slate of games. The College Football Playoff got a glimpse of teams that may be playing for it all in the winter. Without further ado, here are five things that stood out about this week in college football:

1. Clemson’s defensive line can carry the team

College football week two recap

Photo by sbnation.com

Clemson had their big time matchup with Auburn and came out with a win 14-6. When the game started, it looked as if Auburn wouldn’t have too much trouble moving the football against Clemson, but they ended up settling for field goals. That’s all they did on offense all night.

The defensive line of Clemson totaled 11 sacks and demonstrated not only how talented they are, but how deep they are. Auburn’s offense was supposed to have a break through season, but last night puts a big hole in their plans. They may still have a good season, Clemson’s defensive line might just be that good.

This also helped out the ACC, who struggled in week one in their nonconference games. Clemson can carry the torch for them, but has to avoid getting beat up in ACC play.

Last season Deshaun Watson and the offense got most of the love, but this season if Clemson succeeds the defense should get most of the credit.

2. It’s ok being a great college quarterback

college football week two recap

Lamar Jackson (Photo by 1src.com)

Everyone going into the season was talking about the quarterbacks with pro potential and leaving out guys like Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Anyone who has paid attention to college football the past twenty seasons knows that sometimes the best college quarterbacks don’t work out in the NFL. Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow, Trow Smith, Jason White and more have produced in college and not been too successful in the pros.

Just because these athletes may not work in the NFL, doesn’t mean they can’t be the best college quarterbacks. Mayfield had an incredible second half performance in Columbus against Ohio State and helped the Sooners come away with a victory. He threw for 386 yards and three touchdowns and has placed his name in the Heisman talk yet again.

Lamar Jackson on the other hand, looks to be carrying his team completely by himself. He is starting off hot, just like last season when he won the Heisman. Jackson had over 500 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in Louisville’s victory over North Carolina.

While these players may not get the love of pro scouts, they still might be able to define this college football season more than the better quarterback prospects. The only question there is to ask is: Does planting a flag at midfield of Ohio Stadium after a big road win count as a Heisman moment?

3. Sam Darnold is for real

week two college football recap

Sam Darnold (Photo by ocregister.com)

Sam Darnold still has a lot of things left to prove, especially after struggling against Western Michigan in week one, but he proved against Stanford that he can live up to the hype. He has the potential to not only be a great prospect, but a great college football player if he can keep USC in College Football Playoff contention.

In the game Darnold made plenty of NFL level throws and showed improvement over last season. Keeping that progression going is key for Darnold now.One area of his game he needs to cut down on is interceptions. If he doesn’t stop throwing them, he is making life harder on himself and his team. He still has mechanics to fix, but also has a lot of games to make his case to be the number one overall pick, but he is way ahead in the race in terms of quarterbacks, despite his interception problems.

If Darnold continues to play like this, the Trojans may get a chance to play a few extra games this season and bring home a championship to Los Angeles.

4. Georgia fans travel

Week 2 college football recap

Photo by onefootdown.com

In one of the biggest and unique games in South Bend, Indiana in recent memory, it had a lot more fans in red than anyone was expecting. No one doubts that Georgia fans can travel, but this was an amazing display of fandom that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Notre Dame fans took the money and ran, as the average ticket cost for this game was over $1,000.

Being in the SEC, Georgia plays a lot of big games in big time venues,, but the game at Notre Dame offered a once in a lifetime opportunity for fans of the Bulldogs. They were playing one of the most historic programs of all time, the game was on national TV and Georgia rarely plays football in the north. This is the first time Georgia has played a game north of the Mason Dixon line since 1965.

Props to both schools for scheduling such a good game. The Georgia fans were rewarded for their travels and escaped Notre Dame Stadium with a 20-19 thrilling win.

5. Never Give Up

Week two college football recap

Jamal Morrow (Photo by seattletimes.com)

Most fans probably turned off their televisions to go out or go to bed when the games that started from 7-8:30 were over. That was a mistake, because there was a gem of a game taking place on ESPN. The lesson here is never give up on college football because it will never give up on you.

Washington State and Boise State were playing a game that was a rematch of last season. The home fans for Washington State showed their support and a lot stayed throughout the game. Both starting quarterbacks were knocked out of the game with injury, but this was just the start of the craziness.

With just under 11 minutes left to go in the game, Boise State scored to take their led to 21 points. Then Washington State went off. Tyler Hilinski, the back up quarterback, came to life and threw two touchdowns in the last eight minutes. Linebacker Peyton Pelleur also had an interception returned for a touchdown on Washington State’s 21 point run. In the third overtime, Boise State got held to a field goal, while James Morrow had a nice catch and run to win it for the Cougars.

So if your team lost or you thought about phoning it in and missing some of the wonderful games, get back on track. It’s still early in the season and there is a lot of football to be played.

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Five things to watch in week two of college football

We finally have a full week of college football in the books and are ready for week two, which features some big games. Four top 25 matchups will really show everyone who is pretend and who is for real. It is one of many separation Saturdays this fall. Here are five things to watch from the big weekend:

1. Stanford’s rushing attack vs. USC’s defense

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Bryce Love (Photo by zimbio.com)

This game will say a lot about both teams, but will highlight their differences. Sam Darnold will get a lot of attention after not playing his best against Western Michigan in the opener. The thing that may decide this game though is the physicality of Stanford and their ability to run the football.

Bryce Love is averaging a whopping 13.8 yards per carry after his first game against Rice. He looks ready to carry the load for the Cardinal offense and be the next star of the backfield. Love will be running against an experienced offensive line that helped gain Christian McCaffrey fame.

So why does this particular matchup mean so much? USC could not stop Western Michigan on the ground in their season opener. The Broncos rushed for 263 yards against the Trojans and are a shell of the rushing attack Stanford has. The Trojans lost the majority of their defensive front from last season and will need to slow Love and Stanford down in order to win the game.

If USC can stop the run they will win, but if they can’t they will have to win a shootout.

2. Baker Mayfield vs. Ohio State’s secondary

Five things to watch for in week two of college football

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Ohio State playing Oklahoma is drawing a lot of interest this week, because both teams are College Football Playoff contenders. Lincoln Reilly will also be tested in his first big game as head coach of the Sooners. His offense, which is led by Baker Mayfield will be going up against an Ohio State unit that struggled in their opener.

The Buckeyes lost three of four starters in the secondary to the NFL and it showed in their season opening win against Indiana. Ohio State allowed over 400 yards passing to the Hoosiers. Indiana is a good offensive team, but the Buckeyes need to improve if they have National Championship hopes.

Mayfield has two straight appearances as a Heisman Finalist, but has not won. He wants to avenge a loss to the Buckeyes from last year in Norman. He has over 10,000 career passing yards with a completion percentage of 95% in his first game this season. His efficiency is going to be key against Ohio State.

The secondary of Ohio State won’t be able to completely shut down Mayfield, or even play as well as last year, but need to get key stops in order to win.

3. Jake Fromm vs. Notre Dame’s defense

five things to watch for in week two of college football

Jake Fromm (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

The Fighting Irish will host Georgia for the first time in history. In a game involving teams with so much history, anything can happen. Both teams looked good in week one, but Georgia’s starting quarterback Jacob Eason got injured and had to be replaced by Jake Fromm. Now Fromm is getting thrown into a very tough road game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Fromm went 10 of 15 for 143 yards and a touchdown after relieving Eason in the Bulldogs opening game. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the running game will have to take some pressure off Fromm, but he will need to make some key throws. Fromm is no slouch and is a former four star recruit by most websites and has the capability, he just needs to show composure.

Notre Dame’s defense was anemic last season. They allowed over 27 points per game and only return four starters. They looked much better against Temple in their first game, but Temple is a program that is likely rebuilding after the loss of head coach Matt Ruhle to Baylor.

With a bad defense and an inexperienced quarterback, something is going to give on Saturday night in South Bend.

4. Quarterback play in the battle of the Tigers

Five Things to watch in college football week two

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by reddit.com)

Both Clemson and Auburn had good defenses last season and should continue to have good ones this season. Where they need players to step up is at the quarterback position. This game will likely be decided by which quarterback plays better between the two teams.

Kelly Bryant got sporadic playing time throughout his first two years at Clemson, but now is the lead man. Against Kent State last week he threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He added 77 yards rushing on seven carries as well. His challenge will be tough, as Auburn had the seventh best scoring defense in the country last year.

Leading Auburn’s offense will be Jarrett Stidham, the Baylor transfer. Stidham played a little bit for Baylor two years ago, before deciding to transfer. He looked a little sloppy in his first game for Auburn, but has experience and production in his past. If he is efficient, Auburn has a chance to upset Clemson.

5. Boise State at 20 Washington State

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Luke Falk (Photo by usatoday.com)

One game that is not getting a lot of recognition features the Broncos and Cougars. Last season the two teams played and Boise State came out on top. This season, Washington State is looking for revenge and possibly to compete in the Pac-12 North.

Boise State may not be the same program that they were ten years ago, but they are still a very solid program. They won 10 games last year and have their quarterback Brett Rypien back for another season. The Broncos outlasted a good Troy team in week one and look like they will be solid again.

Mike Leach and the Cougars dodged their yearly loss to an FCS team in week one by beating Montana State. Luke Falk has already racked up 311 passing yards and thee touchdowns this season and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. His ability to chuck the ball all over the field will give Washington State a chance to be a very successful team.

This game should be a close one, especially since Boise State loves the role of the underdog.

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