Way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

The college basketball season has just ended, which means it is time to look ahead to next season. Who are the teams that will be looking to cut down the nets in the 2019 NCAA Tournament?

25. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

The Ramblers do lose Ben Richardson, Donte Ingram and Aundre Jackson, but return a lot of key players. This includes their two leading scorers, Clayton Custer and Marques Townes. Custer won MWC Player of the Year and will be a frontrunner to win the award again next season. The Ramblers have also been able to keep their head coach Porter Moser for the time being, who should keep the ball rolling.

24. Clemson Tigers

Clemson outdid expectations this year to earn a five seed in the NCAA Tournament. Mark Donnal, Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham are headed out the door, but they were successful after Grantham went down with an injury. Marcquise Reed, Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas will lead the team next season as seniors. Reed led the team in scoring and looks like he could break out next season.

23. Cincinnati Bearcats

Gary Clark and Kyle Washington are lost to graduation, but to add insult to injury Jacob Evans has declared for the draft and doesn’t plan on returning. The Bearcats still have talent and should be the favorites to win the AAC again. The backcourt play will be great with Jarron Cumberland, Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome returning. Cincinnati will have to find productive frontcourt players to really be a threat to great teams, but they are solid as is.

Way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

Mike Brey (photo by cbssports.com)

22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame seems to lose about two or three key players a year and do fine anyways. This year’s departing class will be a little harder to replace though, as the Fighting Irish lose point guard Matt Farrell and star Bonzie Colson. They do however have T.J. Gibbs, Rex Pflueger and Martinas Geben returning, along with a solid recruiting class, which should help them compete in the ACC.

21. TCU Horned Frogs

The guard play should be good for the Horned Frogs next season as Alex Robinson and Jaylen Fisher return. Their two leading scorers, Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky, are both graduating and other players will need to step up to help make Jaime Dixon’s third year at TCU successful.

20. UCLA Bruins

Thomas Welsh graduates and Aaron Holiday has declared for the NBA draft. They do have a good incoming recruiting class, ranked third in the country by 247 sports, and some returning talent on the roster to work with. Holiday should be the only player who keeps his name in the NBA Draft, meaning Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands will be returning leaders.

19. LSU Tigers

Will Wade did an admirable job in his first season as LSU’s head coach. It was a program that wasn’t in the best shape and they finished with 18 wins. Tremont Waters and Skylar Myers will make the backcourt really good and they have the fourth best recruiting class (247sports). With two five-star big men coming in, they have a chance to compete again in the SEC.

18. Maryland Tigers

Maryland didn’t have their best season in 2017-2018 but have their top five leading scorers returning. This team will be headlined by Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando. Assuming they all return to school, Maryland can make some noise.

17. Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs had a nice run in the NIT and will return all key players from the team. To go with that, they have the ninth-best recruiting class, which should help push them into the NCAA Tournament. Ben Howland has plenty of experience of winning at UCLA and now has the players to do so at Mississippi State.

way too early college basketball rankings 2018-19

Terance Mann (Photo by news-press.org)

16. Florida State Seminoles

Leonard Hamilton led the Seminoles on a dream run to the Elite Eight. They used their length and athleticism well and created havoc. Phil Cofer and Braian Angola are moving on, but their best player, Terance Mann returns. With a lot of key players and length returning, the Seminoles should have a better regular season than this past season.

15. Virginia Tech Hokies

Justin Bibbs is gone, but the rest of the notable Hokies will return. Virginia Tech had a really good offense and should be able to fill the void left by Bibbs. Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. will be senior leaders who will be able to lead the team to a lot of wins after being two of the three top leading scorers from last season.

14. Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State surprised some by making the NCAA Tournament, then surprised everyone by making the Elite Eight. They don’t lose any key players either, which should lead them to compete in the Big 12, although it will be tough to beat out their in-state rival. Dean Wade and Barry Brown will be starring in the conference next season.

13. Oregon Ducks

Troy Brown is reportedly leaving for the NBA Draft. He could still return, but they will lose MiKyle McIntosh to graduation. Other than that the Ducks should return everyone from a 23 win team. They have the second-best recruiting class in the country, which includes a unique talent in Bol Bol, son of Manute Bol. Payton Pritchard took a huge step from year one to year two and should take another step forward in year three.

12. Tennessee Volunteers

The Volunteers had a young team this year and will return everyone. Rick Barnes has done a fantastic job early in his tenure at Tennessee. Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield will lead the team again with their great physical play. They are not expected to add anything special in the recruiting class because they aren’t losing anyone.

11. Michigan State Spartans

A lot has to be figured out with the situation at Michigan State, but as of now, they look like a good team heading into next season. Jaren Jackson and Miles Bridges are going to the NBA. Gavin Schilling and “Tum Tum” Nairn will graduate, but a lot of talent should be returning to East Lansing. Cassius Winston, Matt McQuaid, Nick Ward and Joshua Langford should all be returning to school and will work with the 11th best recruiting class.

way too early 2018-29 college basketball rankings

Caleb and Cody Martin (Photo by twitter.com)

10. Nevada Wolfpack 

Nevada has five of their six key players who could potentially be coming back for next season. Caleb and Cody Martin could leave for the NBA, but the smart decision would be to come back to school. With those two, head coach Eric Musselman and Jordan Caroline returning and teaming up with some new recruits should make the team even better next season.

9. Auburn Tigers

The FBI investigation could have derailed Auburn’s season, but they outdid expectations. They return all key players and should have Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley returning at some point next season. If the FBI investigation doesn’t progress too much further Auburn is a contender to cut down the nets at the end of the season. Mustapha Heron and Bryce Brown will create a great backcourt.

*Heron has since declared for the NBA Draft and hired an agent.

8. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Johnathan Williams and Silas Melson are both graduating. If Killian Tillie returns, Gonzaga is in store for another successful season. Four of their top five leading scorers would return and Mark Few can get another top seed. Making the Final Four isn’t out of the picture again for Gonzaga.

7. North Carolina Tar Heels

Losing Joel Berry and Theo Pinson is going to be tough to deal with early in the season, but UNC has a lot of returning talent. Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams all averaged double figures and will have a chance to be leaders of the team next season. The Tar Heels will also have two five star recruits coming in with Nassir Little and Coby White.

6. Michigan Wolverines

This ranking depends on Moritz Wagner coming back to school. He isn’t projected to be a lottery pick and could go back to school as he loves playing for Coach Beilein. With Wagner, Charles Matthews and Zavier Simpson back, they have the necessary pieces to be good again. Jordan Poole will take on a bigger role and the 16th best recruiting class is coming in.

5. Virginia Cavaliers

The sting of being the first one seed to lose in the first round of the NCAA Tournament will be there for a while, but they only lost three games all season. Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall leaving will hurt, but Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter should be able to lead Virginia to success.

4. Villanova Wildcats

Villanova is now a perennial contender and will be back next year. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges will likely be in the NBA next season, but there is so much talent returning outside of them. Phil Booth, Donte DiVincenzo, Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman will be stars next season. They also have the 12th best-recruiting class in the country including a five-star point guard in Jahvon Quinerly, who should be able to take over point guard duties from Brunson.

3. Kentucky Wildcats

The majority of Kentucky’s team should be back next season after securing a five seed and reaching the Sweet 16. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox should probably go to the NBA but are reportedly torn on what to do. Even if they leave, the Wildcats will have a great team next season. They have the sixth-best recruiting class in the country to pair with the vast returning talent.

way too early 2018-19 college basketball rankings

R.J. Barrett (photo by espn.com)

2. Duke Blue Devils

While most, if not all, their starters leaving, Duke will have a lot to replace. Fortunately, they have the top three recruits in the class coming in. All three were highly coveted and hyped. R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish will have NBA scouts going to Cameron Indoor Stadium often. Five-star Tre Jones was also signed to play point guard. Marques Bolden, Javin DeLaurier and Alex O’Connell are the leading returning players and need to grow up fast.

1. Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas will feel some growing pains while trying to replace Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk. If Malik Newman, Udoka Azabuike and/or Lagerald Vick decide to go pro, Kansas will fall down these rankings a bit. Assuming they all return, Kansas should be one of the best teams in the country. They have those key players returning and the fifth-best recruiting class. To add to it, they have the Lawson twins, who were highly productive at Memphis, transferring in.

 

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New York Giants 2018 Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

Summary

The New York Giants rode into 2017 hoping to repeat playoff runs. New York finished the 2016 season 11-5 with a Wild Card appearance.

Many Giants fans were shocked at the 0-4 start to the 2017 campaign. This was the second and final season under head coach Ben McAdoo. What finalized this was McAdoo’s decision to name backup quarterback, Geno Smith, as the starter during Week 13.

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Photo from bigblueview.com

This snapped Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts. This move inevitably drew league-wide ire to say the least, especially when one considers Manning’s laundry list of contributions to the organization. The Giants ended their 2017 campaign 3-13.

On offense, the Big Blue averaged only 15.4 points per game and 314.2 yards of total offense per game. On top of that, their running game left no silver linings in this black cloud, averaging just 96.8 yards per game.

Those numbers did not get any better in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams. Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., suffered a fractured left ankle. Furthermore, this injury landed No. 13 on the injured reserve for the rest of the season.

The emergence of rookie tight end, Evan Engram, was a bright spot for the Big Blue. Engram tallied 722 yards on 64 catches, along with six touchdowns.

Defensively, the G-men gave up 24.6 points per game and gave up 373.2 yards per game. Additionally, they ranked in the bottom 10 for rushing and passing yards allowed per game. The only standout from the defensive front was strong safety, Landon Collins. After racking up 104 total tackles and two interceptions, Collins was the lone Giant on last year’s Pro Bowl roster. It was his second Pro Bowl in just three years in the league.

Picks and Needs

The New York Giants have five picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York should be able to claim impact players early, along with potential dark horses in later picks.

First round (1 pick): 2

Second round (1): 34

Third round (1): 66, 69

Fourth round (1): 108

Fifth round (1): 139

Sixth round (0)

Seventh round (0)

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – Eli Manning’s days as a quarterback are not infinite. Despite having loads of franchise records to his name, along with two Super Bowl titles, the Big Blue will need to find a dependable successor to their 37-year-old field general.

Running back – The Giants have yet to find a workhorse in the backfield in recent seasons. The recent addition of Jonathan Stewart from the Carolina will improve the picture. But there might not be a lot left in the 31-year-old former Panther.

Offensive line – Although the o-line last year was not terrible, they were not great either. Adding former New England Patriot tackle, Nate Solder, can help bring leadership to this young crew. But in a division full of linemen that are more than formidable, the G-men will need more.

Defensive needs:

Defensive line – The Giants’ defense racked up 27 sacks last season, which was just 29th in the league. In addition, they have allowed almost 2,000 yards on the ground (1,933, sixth most in the league). This, along with Jason-Pierre Paul now being a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, means the defensive line will need more sparks and fury in the lineup.

Targets

These names are the ones the Giants can realistically bring in come draft time.

First round:

Pick No. 2: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Quenton Nelson (Photo from CBS Sports)

The New York Giants should not go with running back Saquon Barkley if the Browns pass him up. Why? Because someone like Barkley won’t big noise with an offensive line that forced only 1,549 yards on the ground all season is unlikely. Though they are better at pass blocking, they need to grow and mature as a unit.

Even with the addition of Solder, this is a very young offensive line. They still need time to establish their footing. The best interior lineman in the draft, Quenton Nelson, can bring much needed enforcement both in run and pass protection. His frame, strength and technique will be much-needed utility in increasing offensive production. His leadership showcased at Notre Dame can rally up the troops and bring the pain like never before.

Second round:

Pick No. 34: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Rashaad Penny can be the next big workhorse for the Big Blue, similar to Tiki Barber. With a balance of size and speed, Penny brings a high motor on the ground game. Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns last season at San Diego State. Along with being a hard and patient runner, he could also be a surprise weapon on special teams.

Third round:

Pick No. 66: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis

Though projected as a fifth or sixth-round pick, Riley Ferguson can bring much-needed depth to the thin quarterback roster in New York. He has thrown 70 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions as a Tiger, in just two seasons. He also completed over 63 percent of his passes in both seasons. Ferguson certainly has potential to be a steal in this draft. In addition, his ability to throw on the run is not something to overlook.

Pick No. 69: Derrick Nnadi DT, Florida State

Derrick Nnadi can be a much needed accent for the Giants’ front seven. While a Seminole, he racked 165 total tackles, including 24.5 tackles for loss. He was also on the squad when Florida State won the Orange Bowl in 2016. The NFL has had quite a history of nose tackles at 6-foot-1 doing great under the lights. Given the right coaching and enough progress in off-season training, Nnadi can turn into a force to be reckoned with in the trenches.

Conclusion

The New York Giants will need to put their foot down in the 2018 NFL Draft, furthermore with free agency. With a new head coach and a young crew on board, the G-men will have much work to do for 2018 to avoid repeating the 3-13 result from last season.

Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Profile.

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology: Selection Sunday

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. It is now Selection Sunday! The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometimes multiple times a day, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology: Selection Sunday. Click to zoom.

 

Last four byes: Virginia Tech, St. Bonaventure, USC, UCLA

Last four in: St. Mary’s, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State

First four out: Notre Dame, Louisville, Arizona State, Baylor

Next four out: Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee, Syracuse, Marquette

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 9

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. There are still a lot of games to be played before Selection Sunday, but it’s always good to take stock of where the teams are standing. The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometime multiple times a day before Selection Sunday, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 9. Click to zoom.

Last four byes: Florida State, USC, Texas, Oklahoma

Last four in: Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Louisville

First four out: Oklahoma State, Middle Tennessee State, Syracuse, Arizona State

Next four out: Baylor, Marquette, Penn State, Oregon

 

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2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 8

It’s March and the madness has already begun with conference tournaments. There are still a lot of games to be played before Selection Sunday, but it’s always good to take stock of where the teams are standing. The Game Haus will be updating a new bracketology every day and sometime multiple times a day before Selection Sunday, so please check back! Here is the 2018 NCAA Tournament bracketology March 8. Click to zoom.

Last four byes: Kansas State, USC, Texas, Oklahoma

Last four in: UCLA, Alabama, Notre Dame, Arizona State

First four out: Baylor, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Syracuse

Next four out: Marquette, Boise State, Utah, Penn State

 

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2018 ACC Tournament preview

The ACC Tournament has so many teams that are fighting for different things, whether that’s a number one seed or just a spot in the tournament. As always, it will be competitive and fun. Here is a preview of what will take place in Brooklyn this week.

Overview

Virginia won the ACC this season by four games this season, a feat that not many saw coming. They only have two losses on the season, to Virginia Tech and West Virginia. If they win this tournament, they will get the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Behind them Duke will be looking for a number one seed as well. Five of their six losses came in conference, but their defense has gotten better in recent weeks. They have also gotten healthier, as Marvin Bagley III has returned from his sprained knee.

North Carolina has a slight shot at a number one seed, but is likely looking at a two or three seed this season. With one of the best point guards in the country, Joel Berry, and a good inside-out player in Luke Maye, the Tar Heels can make a run and win this tournament.

Clemson, Miami, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Florida State are all likely in the NCAA Tournamnet, barring disaster scenarios. Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse are both on the bubble and need to do some damage in the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the big dance. Boston College, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh finished at the bottom of the conference and are playing for pride unless they can make a run to win the whole ACC Tournament to get an automatic bid.

All-Tournament Team and MVP

The All-Tournament team is very dependent on who goes deep in a tournament. Who will be the best players in the ACC Tournament?

Joel Berry, G, UNC

Kyle Guy, G, Virginia

Gary Trent Jr., G, Duke

Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke

Omer Yurtseven, F, N.C. State

MVP: Kyle Guy

Darkhorse: N.C. State Wolfpack

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Coach Kevin Keatts (Photo by sportingnews.com)

N.C. State will play Boston College, after the Eagles beat Georgia Tech in the first round. That shouldn’t be too tough of a game, as the Wolfpack already beat them this season, 82-66. After that they get Clemson, who is without one of their best players, Donte Grantham, who is injured. They split the season series with Clemson, but they had Grantham in both of those games. The Tigers have lost four of their last six games of the season and are clearly reeling without Grantham.

Picking up those two wins would give them some momentum. If the bracket holds to form, they would have to play Virginia and then Duke to win it all. While Virginia did beat the Wolfpack easily, N.C. State was able to beat Duke. That tournament run would be tough, but they should be able to get out of their first two games without too many problems.

Coach Kevin Keatts has done a fantastic job of putting a good team on the floor and getting the most out of them in his first year. They’ve got a good combination of inside players and guards. Omer Yutseven is a legitimate NBA prospect at center, who is tough to match up with. Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Malik Abu are good role players at forward, who have experience.

Markell Johnson runs the point well with 7.4 assists per game. Allerik Freeman, Torin Dorn and Braxton Beverley all give a good scoring punch to this team from the guard position, averaging over 10 points per game each. With so many different scoring options, the Wolfpack will be hard to stop this week.

Champion: Virginia Cavaliers

2018 ACC Tournament preview

Kyle Guy (Photo by accsports.com)

Virginia will have to play Louisville or Florida State in their first game, then likely have to go through N.C. State/Clemson and Duke to win the tournament. With just two losses on the season, they have beaten all of these teams. Florida State and Louisville created good games against the Cavaliers, but couldn’t come up with key plays at the end, giving Virginia victories. They are 3-0 against teams they’d meet in their first game.

For their likely second opponent of the tournament, they beat both N.C. State and Clemson without any problems. They held Clemson to 36 points, when Clemson still had Grantham. If they make the championship against Duke, they were able to beat them at Cameron Indoor Stadium, 65-63.

They are clearly the class of the ACC, with only one loss in conference. Their defense is what sets them apart, as they allow just 52.8 points per game. That would be hard to do in any conference, but they managed to do that in one of the toughest, if not the toughest, conferences in the country. The Cavaliers hold opponents to just 37.5% from the field and play the game at their pace.

Virginia’s best player is Kyle Guy, who averages just 13.9 points per game, but that’s because they run good offensive sets and milk the shot clock. He scores 17.5 points per game, which is probably what he would score if Virginia played at most teams’ paces. Devon Hall and Ty Jerome are also both solid guards who average over 10 points per game and defend well.

Outside of the three scorers, the Cavaliers have role players that don’t care about numbers and just focus on doing their jobs to secure victories. De’Andre Hunter, Isaiah Wilkins, Jack Salt, Mamadi Diakite and Nigel Johnson all fill significant roles and are capable of stepping up their games when called upon.

Tony Bennett will have his team ready to play in the ACC Tournament and is hoping that they can make the third Final Four in school history.

 

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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 2018 Citrus Bowl

LSU and Notre Dame always produce a lot of NFL talent and will play in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. There are going to be a lot of NFL players on the field during this game. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Mike McGlinchey, OT

McGlinchey would’ve been one of the first tackles taken in last year’s draft, but elected to go back to Notre Dame. He has retained his status as one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. The two-time Notre Dame captain has been recognized as an All-American during his time in college. He has experience at both tackle spots, which is a good thing.

At 6’8″ and 315 pounds he has great size for an NFL offensive tackle. He has been good for Notre Dame at left and right tackle. McGlinchey is a good run blocker and decent pass blocker, but has shown increased athletic ability this season.

Projected draft range: Top 15 pick

Quenton Nelson, OG

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl

Quenton Nelson (Photo by rivals.com)

Guards don’t usually get much attention in the draft, but Nelson is one of the best guard prospects in a long time. He is also a team captain and has received a lot of honors during his time at Notre Dame. Nelson has a unique blend of quickness and strength, which allows him to do anything that is asked of a guard.

He is 6’5″ and 330 pounds which will make him look at home in the NFL. While guards usually don’t get drafted early in the draft, it would be hard to pass up on his talent.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Equanimeous St. Brown, WR

St. Brown doesn’t have the best production, but hasn’t had the best quarterbacks or play calling to work with. He has made a lot of highlight plays and shown flashes of being a great receiver. Unfortunately it has only amounted to 1,437 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 203 pounds, he creates a matchup problem for defenses. He will need to add some strength to his slight frame, but when he does, he can reach his full potential.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Other notable Notre Dame prospects: RB Josh Adams (3rd round-5th round), DT Jerry Tillery (3rd round-5th round), TE Durham Smythe (4th round-6th round), LB Te’Von Coney (4th round-6th round), C Sam Mustipher (4th round-6th round), S/LB Drue Tranquill (5th round-7th round), LB Nyles Morgan (6th round-undrafted free agent), DE Andrew Trumbetti (undrafted free agent)

LSU Tigers

 

Derrius Guice, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl

Derrius Guice (Photo by withthefirstpick.com)

Guice is probable for this bowl game with an unspecified injury. He has battled injuries this season, but has still been productive. He has 2,976 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in his LSU career. That is impressive due to the fact that he was Leonard Fournette’s backup until this season and is just a junior.

He has good size for an NFL running back at 5’11” and 218 pounds. If he leaves early to go in this draft, he will go within the first few rounds.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Donte Jackson, CB

Donte Jackson is the next good corner to come out of LSU. The junior has gotten playing time for three seasons now and has turned himself into a shut-down corner. He has 107 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions and 19 passes defended in his career.

At 5’11” and 175 pounds, he has decent enough height, but will need to add weight to not get beaten off the line of scrimmage. He is a player that will likely go on day two of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Will Clapp, G/C

Clapp has been hearing draft buzz for a while now. He can play both guard and center, which will make him more valuable to NFL teams. He has earned All-SEC recognition and has done just about everything an interior offensive lineman can do at the college level.

He is 6’5″ and 314 pounds, which is great for an interior lineman in the NFL. Clapp will be selected in the middle rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

*Arden Key will not play in this bowl game with a finger injury, but will be a top 15 pick.

Other notable LSU prospects: CB Kevin Toliver II (3rd round-5th round), WR D.J. Chark (3rd round-5th round), OT Toby Weathersby (5th round-7th round), S Ed Paris (7th round-undrafted free agnet)

 

 

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

The Citrus Bowl pits the LSU Tigers against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. These two teams played each other at the conclusion of the 2014 season in the Music City Bowl. Both teams had solid seasons again and were just a few wins away from reaching their goals. Here is the 2018 Citrus Bowl preview:

14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

Josh Adams (Photo by indystar.com)

Notre Dame was a playoff contender going into the last three weeks of the season, but lost two of their last three games. They lost to Georgia, Miami and Stanford, which were all losses to good teams. They were able to beat some solid teams in USC, N.C. State and Michigan State.

The Fighting Irish score 35.3 points per game and run the ball well. They average 279.1 yards on the ground per game. Josh Adams has been their star running back this season with 1,386 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The second leading rusher on the team is quarterback Brandon Wimbush with 765 yards and 14 touchdowns. They have two very good offensive linemen who clear holes for the running game in Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.

Wimbush has had his struggles throwing the ball this season. He completes less than 50% of his passes at 49.8%. On the season he has 1,818 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Wimbush has the potential to make good throws, but is inconsistent. Equanimeous St. Brown is the leading receiver with 468 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Their defense is one of the most improved units in the entire country and allow 21.8 points per game. They rank 49th against the run and 51st against the pass. Nyles Morgan is the leader of the defense with 82 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

17 LSU Tigers (9-3)

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

Derrius Guice (Photo by gridironnow.com)

It looked as if the sky was falling when LSU lost to Troy, but LSU got to nine wins on the season. Their record is a bit inflated, as they only beat two bowl eligible teams in Texas A&M and Auburn. This was still a decent start for Ed Orgeron in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers.

The offense has still been an issue, but they score over 28 points per game. They also have a good running game that is the strong point of their offense. Two running backs have done a lot of damage for LSU. Derrius Guice has battled injuries to rush for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. Darrel Williams has been a great backup with 776 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Danny Etling is a senior who has started a lot of games in the past two years for the Tigers. He won’t make the most plays, but protects the football and manages the game well. He has thrown for 2,234 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver D.J. Chark is a supreme talent who leads the team with 811 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The defense, like usual, carries the team and allows 18.8 points per game. They rank 21st against the run and 20th against the pass. Pass rusher Arden Key will be out for this game after having surgery on his pinky finger. Freshman defensive back Andraez Williams has five interceptions this season.

Prediction

Both of these teams are solid, but LSU has the advantage. If they can stop the run and make Wimbush beat them, they will be able to win. The LSU running game can control the clock, which will make it hard for Notre Dame to catch up.

LSU Tigers 29 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21

 

 

College football week 13 picks

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

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

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