2018 SEC Tournament preview

The SEC arguably boosted its stock the most during the 2017 NCAA Tournament with three teams reaching the Elite Eight. This trend continued in the 2018 season as an Auburn program riddled in scandal claimed a share of the SEC regular season title for the first time since 1999. A Kentucky team that reeled in six five-star recruits only finished fourth in league standings. This shows how deep this conference is and how unforgiving the schedule and competition can be.

Which team will scratch and claw their way to the top? Let’s dive in and find out.

overview

This SEC season was defined by Auburn and Tennessee. The Tigers jumped out to a blazing 10-1 conference record before cooling down substantially. Bryce Brown and his streaky jump shot led the way all season for Auburn. The Vols settled down after a rocky start to conference play and have won four straight entering the SEC Tournament. The SEC preseason media poll projected Tennessee to finish in 13th out of 14 teams.

Florida and Kentucky, the two favorites heading into the season, endured a season maligned by inconsistencies. Florida’s offense appeared unstoppable when its three point shooting was on point, but lost and confused when it was not. Kentucky, a preseason season national title favorite, never seemed to fully come together as so many John Calipari coached teams do down the stretch of the season.

Missouri’s conference championship hopes were dashed when top-three recruit Michael Porter Jr. went down in the first game of the season with a back injury. However, Missouri still battled its way to a fifth place finish. Alabama drew preseason intrigue due to the presence of flashy, confident freshman Collin Sexton. Sexton, along with freshman John Petty, could not vault the Crimson Tide into serious contention at any point during the season.

favorites

Admiral Schofield led Tennessee to a share of the SEC regular season title (Wade Payne/Associated Press).

Auburn dominated the SEC for about three quarters of the season. Coach Bruce Pearl’s blistering and relentless attack often left opponents dazed and confused. Pearl encouraged aggressively pushing the ball on offense, often seeking an early three point shot attempt in transition. Bryce Brown spearheaded the Tigers’s attack, averaging 16.4 points on 41 percent shooting.

Mustapha Heron added 16.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game for the Tigers. Heron’s ability to create plays off the dribble helped create space for Auburn’s shooters on the wings.

Tennessee was led by the two-headed of Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams all season long. Schfield averaged 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds while Williams added 15.6 points and 5.8 rebounds. Tennessee, winners of four straight to end the season, will look to continue to build off of that momentum in the SEC Tournament. Schofield, in particular, has been hot, pouring in 25, 24, and 23 points respectively in each of his last three games.

darkhorse: Arkansas

2018 SEC Tournament Preview

Daryl Macon has Arkansas primed to shock the SEC world (Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports).

Many pundits are clamoring about how the possible return of Michael Porter Jr. will magically vault Missouri into a dangerous darkhorse role both in this tournament and the NCAA Tournament. However, there is not guarentee Porter will play this tournament, and if he does, no one knows how effective he will be. Porter is returning from back surgery and will most likely struggle in his first few games back.

Meanwhile, the Razorbacks are seemingly rounding into shape as the SEC Tournament begins. Arkansas will enter the tournament winners of six of their past eight games. Led by two dynamic scorers in Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon, the Razorbacks are capable of shooting any opponent out of the gym.

Both Macon and Barford each average over 17 points per game and shoot 43.8 and 43.4 percent from three-point range as well. Arkansas, as a team, shoots at a 48.1 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three.

Arkansas can be derailed by poor free throw shooting. As a team, the Razorbacks only shoot 67 percent from the pinstripe. Poor fundamentals such as missing free throws can lead to blown late leads and disappointing exits in single-elimination tournaments.

The Champion: Auburn

2018 SEC Tournament Preview

Bryce Brown is capable of shooting Auburn to an SEC Tournament title (Adam Sparks/Scout.com).

Auburn seemingly found its offensive legs once again in its much-needed 79-70 victory over South Carolina. Down by eight points early in the match, Bryce Brown awoke out of hibernation to score 29 points on 60 percent shooting. Brown’s primary offensive game stems from his ability to hit open three pointers in transition. Brown could not buy a bucket during Auburn’s brutal stretch of losing three of four before defeating South Carolina.

In its first game, Auburn will take on either Texas A&M or Alabama. A&M defeated Alabama in its final game to end the season. Even though both of these teams found a way to take down Auburn during the regular season, Auburn’s offense is clicking at the right time and this should be enough to outlast any push from these teams.

Auburn would then take on Kentucky and then Tennessee in the final. If Auburn’s shooting begins to falter, a team like the Vols could take advantage by controlling the pace of play and pounding the rock inside. Look for Brown and Heron to take over in this tournament on the offensive end and lead Auburn to a title.

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2018 MLB Draft Preview

Like every year, The 2018 MLB Draft stands as the next step for promising prospects in making their dreams a reality. Most of us have imagined ourselves walking on the stage, shaking the commissioner’s hand and wearing the cap of the team who drafted us.

Of course for all 30 franchises taking part, many questions appear and need answers. Which position needs the most improvement?  How can these new additions help set the tone for success?  What traits/tools are we looking for that the team fall short on? Additionally, which of these prospects have that “IT” factor with the game on the line?

Some teams will have more work to do than others.

1st Pick of the Draft

This year, the Detroit Tigers will hold the first pick of this year’s MLB draft. Last season, the Tigers finished the regular season tied for the worst record in the lead at 64-98 (shared with San Francisco Giants) and their pitching staff ranked last in the league in ERA (5.36).

In addition, All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera did not have a normal season. In his tenth season with Detroit (15th year in the league) Cabrera posted up a .249 batting average, only 16 home runs and only 60 RBI. In addition, these are his lowest season numbers since his rookie season. On average, “Miggy” composes a .317 batting average, hits 34 home runs, and scores 117 RBI in a season.

MLB Draft

image courtesy of mlb.com/tigers

According to MLB.com The first 10 picks of the Draft are as follows:

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. New York Mets
  7. San Diego Padres
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. Oakland Athletics
  10. Pittsburgh Pirates

The full draft order can be found here.

Notable Draft Pitchers

The pitcher is among the most celebrated positions in baseball, and arguably the most scrutinized. Pitchers can ignite a whole defense, shut out an entire batting roster, and come in clutch when the team needs it most. According to MLB Pipeline.com, seven of the first ten projected picks are pitchers.

Many experts predict that University of Florida right-handed ace, Brady Singer, will be the number 1 overall pick in the next MLB Draft.

MLB Draft

image courtesy of floridagators.com/baseball

As a sophomore in the 2017 season, Singer pitched his way to a 9-5 record in 20 appearances and led the team in innings pitched with 126. He earned All SEC Second-Team Honors, along with a spot on the 2017 College World Series (CWS) All-Tournament team. He also helped lead the Florida Gators team to its first CWS title in program history, beating fellow SEC team, Louisiana State University (LSU), in the finals.

With this new hardware, the University of Florida became only the fourth collegiate athletic program to win a championship title in football, baseball and basketball (joining Ohio State, Michigan and UCLA).

Singer is not the only prospect from the Florida Gators looking to make an impression.

Fellow pitcher, Jackson Kowar, looks to take it to the next level. Last season, as a sophomore, he posted a 12-1 record (.923 percentage), therefore tying the best season record in school history. Furthermore, his 12 wins led the SEC and sat second in the entire country.

During the second game (and last) in last year’s CWS finals against LSU, Kowar came in as a relief pitcher and shut down the Tigers while he was on the mound. This effort would additionally win the Gators their first World Series title.

MLB. Pipeline lists projects Kowar to be drafted 10th overall.

Looking Ahead

Although the MLB Draft does not begin until June, all 30 organizations will have plenty of chances to prepare. They will be able to analyze positions on the team that require more depth and which ones can wait during spring training and the start of the regular season. Who will step up?  Does the starting field look as well or better than last year?

Like the adage goes, one player can make a difference. Like any sport, baseball is no stranger to new faces taking names and being the talk of the league. But for the most part, superstars will take time to mold, to mature and to sharpen their talents so they can help their team get to the next level.

For some organizations, it is going to take more than drafting the right guys to improve a team. Whether a franchise is rebuilding, looking for the right people to step up after losing a prominent starter, or repeating the success of the previous season: Whatever the case may be, everything has to work, and not just on draft day.

On June 4th, baseball fans across the country and the world will tune in and watch who will dawn their favorite team’s colors.

 

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Kentucky Wildcats basketball

Lowering expectations for the Kentucky Wildcats

It seems like this happens every season. A Kentucky team filled with young talent normally finds a way to get it together midseason. The No. 2 recruiting class in the country has been struggling as of late.

They struggle to score outside of the paint and outside of second-chance opportunities. What’s even worse is it seems like this team just lacks toughness when the game is on the line. This Kentucky team hasn’t taken a step to being a title contender, and with the SEC being a strong basketball conference this season, who knows if they ever will.

Recent

The last two games, the Kentucky Wildcats have blown a second-half lead. They have lost to both South Carolina and Florida in those games. They blew a 10-point second half lead to South Carolina and let the Gators go on an 11-2 run to lose by two.

The Wildcats struggle to make plays because they have no clear leader. In past years, they have had at least one upperclassman around to lead a young recruiting class. This season, the Cats have 14 players on their roster, eight of them are freshmen and four are sophomores. Wenyen Gabriel is the most experience Wildcat on the team. He played nearly 18 minutes a game last season and now plays significant minutes again. He is used to SEC conference play and has more experience than others on the team who played less minutes last season.

Kentucky is 0-2 against the top 25 and are 2-3 in their last five games. They have lost five games this season to Tennessee, UCLA, Kansas, Florida and South Carolina and struggle in the clutch because they don’t have any defined playmakers.

Losing to South Carolina seemed to be one of the tougher losses for a struggling Kentucky team, especially since South Carolina struggles on the offensive end.

The biggest strengths of Kentucky is their length and their big men. They dominate the glass and the paint. However, Chris Silva had 27 points and eight rebounds in the Gamecocks’ win. He controlled the game and the paint. He especially controlled the paint in the waning minutes of the game, when the Wildcats began to falter.

The offensive struggles

Kentucky Wildcats basketball

Quade Green, Kentucky guard (Photo from USA Today)

In the five games that Kentucky has lost this season, they are 3-for-13, 6-for-21, 7-for-19, 1-for-11 and 4-for-17 from three. In total, that is 21-81, which is 26 percent.

The two most capable offensive weapons on the Kentucky Wildcats are Kevin Knox and P.J. Washington. Washington has been quoted by John Calipari as, “The toughest kid on our team,” and both have shown flashes of being the go-to guy.

With no clear go-to guy, the Wildcats struggle to close games. In years past, they have always had a guy who steps up and takes the shots when the game gets tough. Last season, they had Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. Prior to that, they have had Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Brandon Knight among others.

As of right now, the Wildcats haven’t established that person yet. They are still in search of a leader and someone to take the important shots.

Figuring it out

The talent is there with this team. There is no doubt they are similar to previous Kentucky teams. Any team coached by Calipari has a good chance of getting a clear identity.

The sky shouldn’t be falling yet, but there is cause for concern. Kentucky as of right now isn’t a skilled enough team from the perimeter or in the clutch to run deep into March.

What they can do

Kentucky is now unranked for the first time since 2014. Two out of their next three games are at home against some of the bottom of the SEC. One thing they need to do moving forward is to find an identity before it’s too late for them.

Every season, Kentucky finds a way to take young talent and turn it into National Championship contenders. This season, Calipari is going to take the underdog mentality and have the whole Wildcats team rally behind it.

Don’t write the Cats off yet, but they still have a long way to go before March comes around.

 

Featured image by Chet White of UK Athletics

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College basketball preseason top 25: 15-11

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? This is the third installment in the top 25 rundown. For teams 20-16 click here.

15. Cincinnati Bearcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Gary Clark (Photo by downthedrive.com)

The Bearcats got into the NCAA Tournament yet again, but they can’t stay in the dance too long once they get there. They have only made it to the Sweet 16 twice in this millennium, 2001 and 2012, despite having a good team. With the talent they have on the roster this season, they should be able to get back to the Sweet 16 for the second time under Mick Cronin.

In the frontcourt, Cincinnati will have two really good players eating up most of the minutes. Gary Clark was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season and also poses an offensive threat in the post. He averaged 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2016-2017 and is in store for a big senior season. Kyle Washington is another key post player that had a solid first year at Cincinnati after transferring in from N.C. State. Washington averaged 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and also gave another three point shooting threat, shooting 35.9% from deep. Nysier Brooks, Quadri Moore and Tre Scott will be asked to fill in any minutes that are left over.

There is a new face in the back court. Cane Broom sat out last season after transferring from Sacred Heart. At Sacred Heart he averaged 23.1 points per game in the 2015-2016 season. He will add a scoring punch from the guard position that the Bearcats haven’t had in a long time. Flanking him will be Jacob Evans and Jarron Cumberland, who can both light it up as well. Evans averaged 13.5 points per game, while Cumberland set his mark at 8.3. Both can stretch the floor well and will open up space for the post players and Broom.  Justin Jenifer will likely keep his role as a backup, but has valuable experience. Freshman will have to help provide more depth to cope with injuries and foul trouble.

The key to the Bearcats team is defense and they will be strong in that department again. They have enough talent to get to a Sweet 16 so the only question is: Do they have the coaching?

14. Miami Hurricanes

College basketball preseason top 25

Bruce Brown (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Jim Larranaga has rebuilt the program again after losing a lot of the team after their great 2012-2013 season. Two seasons ago they made the Sweet 16, while last year they got knocked out in the first round. This season they have some NBA-level talent on their roster that can make it back to the Sweet 16.

Dewan Huell had a decent freshman season from his forward position, but is expected to take a huge jump up from his average of 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. Ebuka Izundu will play at the center position after playing 13 minutes per game last season. He is still raw, but with time could become a solid player. On the wing, Anthony Lawrence Jr. will be asked to do more. He scored 6.8 points per game last season. Rodney Miller, Chris Stowell and Deng Gak will compete for minutes and provide depth.

The guard position is loaded for Miami. Bruce Brown is back after averaging 11.9 points per game. He is good enough to play in the NBA. Ja’Quon Newton also returns to run the point. Newton can get his own shot and create for others, something that will be easier for him to do this season with so much talent around him. Chris Lykes and Lonnie Walker are two good freshman that should help make the production keep coming for the Hurricanes. Walker could get drafted in the 2018 NBA Draft as well and is really athletic.

There is enough talent to do damage in March, but can Larranaga get the job done?

13. Xavier Musketeers

College basketball preseason top 25

Chris Mack (Photo by wcpo.com)

Xavier made a surprise run in March to make the Elite Eight, but ended up losing to Gonzaga. They were a bubble team that mad the most of their opportunity, much like they do most years. With a lot of the key players back again, the Musketeers will be expected to do a lot.

Sean O’Mara is back for his senior season on the inside. He didn’t perform well all the time, but stepped up in the NCAA Tournament and can score and rebound from the post. Tyrique Jones is another interior player that stepped up late in the season. He can finish on the inside and play solid defense. Graduate transfer Karem Kanter can step out and hit mid range jumpers and rebound. Kaiser Gates is a stretch four who got better as the season went on and can provide a spark off the bench or start for the Musketeers and get buckets.

The big news for the Musketeers this offseason was the decision for Trevon Bluiett to return to school. He averaged 18.1 points per game last year and is moving up the all time ranks of Xavier scorers. He will get a chance to play in the NBA after the season concludes. J.P. Macura is also back for his senior season and adds a good scorer and defender. His energy can lift the level of the teams’ play up. Point guard Edmond Sumner is gone, but Quentin Goodin filled in nicely when Sumner was injured last season. Paul Scruggs and Naji Marshall are dynamic recruits who will be playmakers on the second unit. Scruggs is the most talented recruit that Xavier has ever had.

With so many key players returning for Xavier, including one of college basketball’s best in Bluiett, Xavier’s expectation should be another Sweet 16 appearance at the very least.

12. Florida Gators

College football preseason top 25

KeVaughn Allen (Photo by draftexpress.com)

The Gators made an elite eight last season, as Mike White has the program heading in the right direction. They have a few key players returning and a lot of good recruits to fill out the rest of the roster. If their stars can step up, they will be in contention in the SEC and can win some games in March.

John Egbunu is back to hold down the fort at the center position. He tore his ACL last season, so he will not be able to play until midseason, but he provides an athletic big who can defend and rebound. He will need to score more when he returns, but Florida will welcome the defense and rebounding. Kevarrius Hayes helped fill in when Egbunu went down last season. He averaged 6.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and will need to step it up again until Egbunu returns. Keith Stone and Gorjok Gak both got playing time last year and will need to progress. Chase Johnson, DeAundree Ballard and Isaiah Stokes are all freshman that will fight for minutes.

KeVaughn Allen is the leading returning scorer for Florida. Allen averaged 14 points per game last year with a good mixture of shooting and driving in his game. Chris Chiozza will take over starting point guard duties now that Casey Hill has graduated. Chiozza is quick and thrives in Mike White’s offensive system. Egor Koulachev and Jalen Hudson are transfers that can help score in bunches. Koulachev can hit a lot of shots from deep and help stretch the floor.

If Florida’s players can see an increase in production and weather the storm without Egbunu, they will be a very tough team to beat.

11. Villanova Wildcats

College basketball preseason top 25

Jalen Brunson (Photo by draftexpress.com)

Villanova had an early exit from March Madness last season when they lost in the second round. They do have some key losses, but have five players returning who averaged over 20 minutes per game. The Wildcats are the class of the Big East and should expect another big year.

Mikal Bridges is a little undersized, but does a lot of things to help Villanova in the frontcourt. He is a great wing who can get to the basket and shoot the three. He averaged 9.8 points per game, but has the capability to score more this season. Eric Paschall also returns to help out on the inside after a solid season. Omari Spellman was redshirted last season after having problems with the NCAA, but he was a highly touted recruit, who will be the Wildcats’ best post player. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree is a four star recruit that will see minutes early in his career to relieve Spellman and others. Jermaine Samuels is an intriguing freshman wing player that will have to work his way into the mix.

Jalen Brunson, one of the best players in college basketball, is back to play point guard for Villanova. He averaged 14.7 points and 2.1 assists per game. He will need to do a better job of feeding the post and setting up teammates this season, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the star. Phil Booth didn’t play much last season due to knee tendinitis, but should be good to go this season. He is a good shooter that will likely be a starter this season. Donte DiVincenzo is a good defender that can get to the basket.

Villanova is a title contender if they can put it all together and stay healthy, but Brunson needs to get others involved to make it happen.

 

For teams 10-6, click here.

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Five things to watch in week 4 of college football

There have already been a lot of good games in college football with more coming. This week features the start of a lot of conference schedules for teams, which leads to a lot of competitive games and familiarity. Here are the five things to watch for this week:

1. Jalen Hurts vs. Vanderbilt’s defense

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Charles Wright (Photo by vucommodores.com)

As crazy as it sounds, Vanderbilt deserves to be in the top 25 right now. Preseason rankings are keeping some teams in that shouldn’t be, while the Commodores got snubbed. The reason that Vanderbilt has been so good this season is their defense. They have given up only 13 points on the season to some decent competition in Middle Tennessee and Kansas State.

Not only do the Commodores have the number one scoring defense in the country, they also have the ability to get after the quarterback. Charles Wright is tied for the lead in the country with 6.5 sacks. They also were able to limit Jesse Ertz’s effectiveness when they played Kansas State. Both he and Jalen Hurts are running threats, albeit different types of running threats.

Hurts can run with a little more speed than any quarterback Vanderbilt has played this season. He will have to be sure to not turn the ball over in this game and have to make a few plays with his arm. He was unable to do much with his arm against Florida State in the opener and this will be his second test against a solid defense. He will need to get the ball to Calvin Ridley as fast and often as possible, because he is a match-up nightmare.

While Hurts may win this matchup, it might be closer than a lot of people think.

2. Oklahoma State and TCU will light up the scoreboard

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Kenny Hill (Photo by wholehogsports.com)

In one of the best games of the weekend Oklahoma State and TCU will play in their first Big 12 game of their seasons. This has huge Big 12 Championship implications as the winner is in the front seat to lead one of the two championship spots.

Oklahoma State has rolled through its early season competition, putting up 54 points per game. Mason Rudolph looks like one of the few Heisman contenders who are living up to the hype. Their dynamic passing attack will be tough to slow down, especially with Rudolph throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh.

Kenny Hill and the TCU offense may not be as good as Oklahoma State, but they are still averaging 49 points per game. Their attack is a little more balanced, which could create some problems for the Cowboy defense. Can Kenny Hill thrive against good competition? He’ll have a chance to outscore a great offense in this one and get TCU on the right path.

The over/under on this game is 71, but it could end up going way over if both offenses remain efficient.

3. Mississippi State’s offensive line vs. Georgia’s Front

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Martinas Rankin (Photo by twitter.com)

Another one of the big games of the weekend is Mississippi State vs. Georgia. A lot of questions about both teams will be answered like: Is Georgia really the best team in the SEC East? Can Mississippi State contend in the SEC West?

Martinas Rankin has had a wonderful season that includes a 99.9 pass block efficiency (according to CFB film room). The line is a solid unit overall, but the right side of the line has had some struggles. They will need to keep Nick Fitzgerald upright to allow him to scramble or find a receiver downfield.

Georgia’s defense is loaded with talent and looks like they can take over games. Lorenzo Carter is a great pass rusher, who has already accrued 14 quarterback pressures on the season. The task of slowing down Fitzgerald will be tougher than any other they have experienced this year, but they have a veteran defense that should be up for the challenge.

Although the skill position players may be more exciting to watch, the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.

4. Can a 31 year streak be broken?

Five things to watch in college football week 4

Feleipe Franks (Photo by alligatorarmy.com)

The Kentucky Wildcats have not beaten Florida in 31 years. While it’s apparent that Kentucky is more of a basketball school, they have built a solid team under Mark Stoops. Last year they got blown out, but the two previous years they were right in the game until the end. With Florida having a lot of things going on (suspensions, felonies, hurricanes, new quarterback, etc.), this may be the year that Kentucky ends the streak and contends for the SEC East.

In their first two games the Wildcats looked sluggish. They beat Southern Miss and Eastern Kentucky (FCS) by a combined 18 points. Kentucky did look much better on the road against South Carolina, winning by ten and controlling most of the game. There theme has been winning the turnover battle, something they will need to continue in order to get the win Saturday night.

Florida has had two tough games to start the season, with one being cancelled in between due to a hurricane. They lost to Michigan and beat Tennessee on a last second bomb of a touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland. While they are 1-1 they have shown they have flaws (mainly on offense) that can be exploited.

The Gators will likely extend the streak for another year at least, but this might be the best opportunity Kentucky has had.

5. The ending of Michigan State and Notre Dame

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame

Photo by isportsweb.com

It might still be too early to tell how good these teams are this season after both struggled last year. Both teams should be better this season. This game one that seemingly always goes down to the wire. Since 2005, six of the ten games have been decided by one possession. Those games include two overtime games, a fake field goal for a win and much more.

Notre Dame was close to beating Georgia at home, but came up just short. That was the theme of last season for the Irish: losing games by one possession. This year they have half the amount of wins they had last year, by beating Boston College and Temple. The rushing part of the offense is working, while the passing game needs some work. The defense is much improved over last year, but that isn’t saying much.

The Spartans are 2-0 and beat a decent Western Michigan team that put up a good fight against USC. The offense hasn’t played a quality defense yet, but has put up over 30 points per game. They need to find some playmakers for this game. Defensively they have allowed more points than they would’ve liked so far, but still give up just 12 points per game.

This will be a big early season win for either school and it might just be one that fans want to flip on when it’s nearing its end.

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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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College football week 3 picks

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

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

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Five things to watch in college football week 3

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

1. Clemson’s Defensive Front vs. Lamar Jackson

Five things to watch in college football week 3

Lamar Jackson (Photo by 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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College football week one picks

The college football season is about to have it’s big kickoff weekend. Like last season Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger of the DiTullio and Doerger College Sports Show will be making their picks for every FBS college football game this season. Records will be kept track of to see who picks better by the end of the season. Let’s take a look at the picks:

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Florida Intl UCF Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Presbyterian College Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake Forest
Austin Peay Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy UC
Buffalo Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minn
Tennessee State Georgia State Georgia State Stadium, Atlanta, GA Georgia St Ga State
Elon Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Rhode Island Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI C. Michigan CMU
Tulsa #10 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK St Ok St
Holy Cross Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Uconn Uconn
North Dakota Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#2 Ohio State Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Ohio St OSU
Florida A&M Arkansas War Memorial Stadium , Little Rock, AR Arkansas Arkansas
Louisiana Monroe Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Sacramento State Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID Idaho Idaho
New Mexico State Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona St ASU
Fordham Army Michie Stadium, West Point, NY Army Army
Charlotte Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU EMU
Central Connecticut Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Syracuse Cuse
#8 Washington Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Washington Washington
Navy Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL Navy Navy
Colorado State Colorado Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO Colorado St CSU
Utah State #9 Wisconsin Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI Wisconsin Wisconsin
Boston College Northern Illinois Huskie Stadium, DeKalb, IL NIU BC
Kent State #5 Clemson Memorial Stadium , Clemson, SC Clemson Clemson
Akron #6 Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Penn St Penn St
Maryland #23 Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Texas Texas
Ball State Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Illini Illinois
Wyoming Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Bowling Green Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Mich St MSU
Missouri State Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Mizzou
California North Carolina Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC UNC-CH UNC
Bethune-Cookman #18 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Miami
Youngstown State Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Portland State Oregon State Reser Stadium, Corvallis, OR OSU Oregon St
VMI Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
NC State South Carolina Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC NC State NC State
UTEP #7 Oklahoma Memorial Stadium , Norman, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Margin of victory 37 46
#11 Michigan #17 Florida AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Michigan Michigan
Temple Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
Nevada Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
William & Mary Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA UVA Virginia
Alabama A&M UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL UAB UAB
Troy Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Stony Brook #19 South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
Eastern Washington Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX TTU TTU
Kentucky Southern Mississippi M. M. Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg, MS Southern Miss UK
Charleston Southern Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss St Miss State
Western Michigan #4 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA USC USC
NC Central Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
James Madison East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECTC ECTC
Albany Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
Appalachian State #15 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia Georgia
Miami (OH) Marshall Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Huntington, WV Miami (OH) Miami
Lamar North Texas Apogee Stadium, Denton, TX N Texas N Texas
Houston UT San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA Houston
Eastern Kentucky Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU WKU
Northwestern State Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA La Tech La Tech
Stephen F. Austin SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX SMU SMU
UMass Coastal Carolina Brooks Stadium, Conway, SC Coastal Coastal
Liberty Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Baylor Baylor
SE Missouri State Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Kansas Kansas
Hampton Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
SE Louisiana Louisiana Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA ULL ULL
Houston Baptist Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX Texas St Texas State
Central Arkansas #20 Kansas State Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS K State K State
Georgia Southern #12 Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Auburn Auburn
#16 Louisville Purdue Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN Louisville Louisville
South Alabama Ole Miss Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, MS Ole Miss Ole Miss
Cal Poly San José State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA SJSU San Jose
#3 Florida State #1 Alabama Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA Alabama Alabama
Abilene Christian New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM New Mex NM
Arkansas State Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Jackson State TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
Northern Iowa Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Iowa St Iowa St
Vanderbilt Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU Vanderbilt
Grambling Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Tulane Tulane
Southern Utah Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Ducks Oregon
UC Davis San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
Howard UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV UNLV
BYU #13 LSU Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA LSU LSU
Incarnate Word Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno Fresno
Montana State #24 Washington St Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St WAZZU
Northern Arizona Arizona Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ Arizona Arizona
Western Carolina Hawai’i Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI Hawai’i Hawaii
#22 West Virginia #21 Virginia Tech FedExField, Landover, MD VT VT
Texas A&M UCLA Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA A&M TAMU
#25 Tennessee Georgia Tech Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GT GT
Gameday Guest Picker (Atlanta) Matt Ryan Julio Jones

 

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Five things to watch for in the first week of college football

The college football season is officially under way. Five games are in the book from the opening weekend, but now comes the official first weekend of college football. As we look to a great Labor Day weekend of football, here are five things to watch:

1. Derwin James’ return

Five things to watch in the first week of college football

Derwin James (Photo by zimbio.com)

The biggest matchup of the weekend is Florida State and Alabama in Atlanta. College Football Playoff implications are already on the line in this game.

James missed most of last season with injury, but might be the best player in all of college football, if healthy.Not only will he have to play big for Florida State, but he will have to be at 100%. He could be the X-factor in this monumental event.

Nick Saban has said he regrets not letting Jalen Hurts air it out more last season and feels like that may have cost them the National Championship. That means Saban will try to get the ball rolling early with Hurts. Hurts isn’t the greatest thrower, so James needs to step in and make plays when passes go awry. He will also have to show up in run support, as Alabama will likely control the line of scrimmage.

If Florida State has any chance to beat Alabama, James has to prove he is the best player in the country. Even if he does it may not be enough. No matter the result, both teams could be destined to meet again in the College Football Playoff.

2. Danny Etling against BYU

Five things to watch in week one of college football

Danny Etling (Photo by tigerrag.com)

LSU has a big game against BYU this weekend. It may not be as big as many thought after the Cougars struggled to show their supremacy against Portland State. Even so, they are a decent test for an LSU team that needs to find out if their offense is improved from the past few years.

Coach Orgeron named Danny Etling the starting quarterback after finding a little success with him last year. Etling is not a game changing player, but did help LSU finish the season out strong.

With playmakers Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural and Leonard Fournette gone, Etling will need to step up this season to make the LSU offense good. He will have help from running back Derrius Guice and wide receiver D.J. Chark.

While he hasn’t been the best quarterback in the past, Etling is getting his first chance at a full season as a starter. Ultimately this game can give everyone a clue on how well Etling and the Tigers will play this season and if they can compete for a playoff spot. If Etling does not show proficiency at the quarterback position, LSU will top out at eight wins for the season.

3. How will Florida deal with suspensions?

Five things to watch for in college football week 1

Antonio Callaway (Photo by seccountry.com)

Michigan and Florida open the season against one another in Arlington. Both teams have a lot of players to break into their line ups the game should show us how talented (or not) these teams are.

Ten players have been suspended for Florida for this game. This includes top-notch offensive players in wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett. The Gators are really going to be relying on one of their quarterbacks to step up in this game. Florida will also be without a lot of their depth in this game, meaning that the players need to stay fresh and uninjured.

This game has shifted from one that was supposed to be a toss up, to now being in Michigan’s favor, even though they return just five starters from last year. Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting will be tested, but not as much as if Florida players had stayed out of trouble.

4. Can Virginia Tech find a quarterback?

Five things to watch in college football week 1

Josh Jackson and Justin Fuente (Photo by virginiatech.sportswar.com)

The Hokies play against West Virginia on Sunday this weekend and have a lot of returning talent. They expected to have more coming back, but Jerod Evans decided to go pro early. He went undrafted and probably should still be leading the Hokies.

If Virginia Tech wants to be successful this season they need to find a quarterback. They have a quality team that is capable of making the ACC Championship Game, but need that one void in their roster filled in order to do so. There has been a three man quarterback race between Josh Jackson, Hendon Hooker and A.J. Bush.

Freshman Josh Jackson looks to be the front-runner to take over the job, but A.J. Bush, the Nebraska transfer, also could be the guy. Both players have the potential to be dynamic playmakers and both will get their shots to take the reins.

Justin Fuente did a good job of getting Evans ready to play last season, so if he can do the same with these quarterbacks, the sky is the limit for the Hokies.

5. Butch Jones on the hot seat

Five things to watch in college football week 1

Butch Jones (Photo by rockytopinsider.com)

It’s no secret that Jones will be fired if Tennessee has a sub-par season. Last year they were hyped up to have a great team, but ended up disappointing with a 9-4 record. If quarterback Josh Dobbs was’t there to bail the Volunteers out of a few games, they could have been eerily close to .500.

Now the Volunteers must move on without Dobbs. The offense also lost Alvin Kamara, Jalen Hurd and Josh Malone. Defensively Derek Barnett is gone along with a few other key players from last year’s team.

While Jones won’t be fired after the first week of the college football season, this could be the start of the season that results in his termination. Tennessee plays Georgia Tech on Monday and better be ready for a fight in Atlanta. The Vols will be without Darrin Kirkland Jr. most likely who suffered a knee injury in practice last week.

Georgia Tech have kicked Dedrick Mills off the team. He was the leading returning rusher this season. This will have some impact on the game, but overall the triple option attack of the Yellow Jackets will still be strong.

If Jones can’t find a way to win this game, it could be a long season in the SEC for the Volunteer fans.

 

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