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  #126  
Old 08-16-2017, 01:53 AM
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August 15, 2017

Wolfpack looks poised for a breakthrough


North Carolina State has been mostly flying under the radar going into the season, but there are reasons to tab the Wolfpack as having Top 25 potential.

Those reasons mostly come because of a well-tested defense, led by defensive end Bradley Chubb and a defensive front that is bound to receive accolades.

The offense is seasoned, as well, with key playmakers such as Ryan Finley, who is in his second season as the starting quarterback after transferring from Boise State.

"I feel the sky is the limit on everything we do," Chubb said.

So it's a matter of keeping things in perspective for N.C. State, which competes in the stout Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Almost all preseason predictions place the Wolfpack behind Florida State, Clemson and Louisville.

"We don't worry about the outside," junior running back Reggie Gillaspy said. "Put our heads down and work hard."

The Wolfpack is coming off a 7-6 season, winning three of its final four games. Earlier, narrow losses to Clemson (24-17 in overtime) and Florida State (24-20) showed the team's potential.

N.C. State will have a chance to make some early waves, opening the season against South Carolina in a neutral-site game Sept. 2 in Charlotte, N.C.

Finley, a redshirt junior, proved to be efficient in directing the offense in his first season. He has tools to use, most notably H-back Jaylen Samuels and speedy running back Nyheim Hines, who had played at receiver and also is a key returner on special teams.

"We're worried about getting better every day," Finley said, noting that going against an experienced defense in practice should help the offense's growth. "Our whole team is closer than ever."

On defense, Chubb is bound to receive extra attention, so that could benefit the teammates around him on the front. Plus, senior linebackers Airius Moore and Jerod Fernandez each have 30 career starts.

With so many players having already established themselves, the Wolfpack hasn't had a lot of competition at some positions.

"There are still some places that we've talked about that are in competition and that could go for a while," fifth-year coach Dave Doeren said. "Last year, there were so many open positions. We don't have a lot of competitions we're dealing with right now. Just trying to develop some depth."

Doeren's record with N.C. State is 25-26 in four seasons, so this figures to be a crucial year, particularly with the amount of returning players.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: H-back Jaylen Samuels -- Yes, defensive end Bradley Chubb is the team's headliner, but the offense really needs Samuels. He can line up in a variety of roles, often making it difficult for defenses to keep track of his whereabouts. He's coming off an MVP performance in the Independence Bowl, when he caught three touchdown passes against Vanderbilt. He enters the season with 126 career receptions (including a streak of at least one catch in 28 consecutive games), already ranking seventh in school history in receptions. He also has racked up 700 career rushing yards.

BREAKOUT STAR: S Shawn Boone -- He goes into his senior season as the most experienced of the defensive backs, and he is embracing his new leadership role in the secondary. He'll be shifting among the safety spots depending on the defensive packages, and there's no doubt he wants to take advantage of opportunities that might come for defensive backs because of the expected pressure applied by the defensive front.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: K Carson Wise -- He arrived from Division II Carson-Newman as a graduate transfer with two seasons remaining. Given the Wolfpack's kicking woes the past two seasons, Wise could be a critical upgrade at the position. He has range up to 55 yards, but consistency will be something that could be most important. "He has definitely started with the 1s (first team), and hasn't given it back," coach Dave Doeren said during preseason camp.

--RB Reggie Gallaspy, a candidate to be the starting tailback after two seasons as the backup, has shed some weight in an effort to be sleeker. He's checking in at about 223 pounds and figures to be shiftier with the ball.

--C Garrett Bradbury, a redshirt junior who started every 2016 game as a guard, is moving to center.

--WR JuMichael Ramos has made plays during the preseason as he attempts to come back after missing the 2016 season with a knee injury. "We don't want to rush him," coach Dave Doeren said.

--K Kyle Bambard, who was the starting kicker as a freshman in 2015 and for more than half of the games last year, is pegged to continue to handle kickoffs.

--TE Dylan Parham, a redshirt freshman, has switched from quarterback to tight end. The tight end position has been identified as an area of need by the coaching staff.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:54 AM
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August 15, 2017

Heels have holes to fill on offense


North Carolina has won 19 games over the last two seasons and pushed then-No. 1 and undefeated Clemson to the max in the 2015 ACC Championship game, but coach Larry Fedora faces a major rebuilding project on offense as he heads into his sixth year in Chapel Hill.

The Tar Heels lose quarterback Mitch Trubisky, running backs Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan, receivers Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard, and Mack Hollins, and three starters on the offensive line, but Fedora is bullish on the offense's potential.

"My expectation will not change for the offense because of personnel," Fedora said after camp opened. "It's going to be the same as what it has been. They'll either meet it, surpass it, or they won't."

The spot that gets the most attention is quarterback.

Though Brandon Harris, a graduate transfer from LSU, is the expected starter, Fedora said he is "excited about all four guys" in the competition. In addition to Harris, who had a disappointing three years with the Tigers, sophomore Nathan Elliott and redshirt freshmen Chazz Surratt and Logan Byrd are competing for the job.

Elliott backed up Trubisky last year but got in only four games, going 8 of 9 for 55 yards. Harris played in four games for the Tigers with two starts. He was 13 of 25 for 139 yards and a touchdown, but had two intercepted.

Despite the unimpressive numbers, Fedora is confident in the newcomer.

"He can make every throw there is," Fedora said. "And I've really been impressed with his accuracy. It's easy to tell when he's not going to be accurate because his feet are messed up. When his feet are messed up, he's usually not accurate.

"So it's not about arm strength. He's got plenty of arm strength. He can be accurate when he knows where he is going with the ball, and he can run. So he's got all the tools."

The decision on the starter will come "as soon as possible" or, Fedora said, joking, at least by Sept. 2 -- the date of the opener against California.

Auburn transfer running back Stanton Truitt should make the loss of Hood and Logan easier to take. But early in camp, Fedora could name only a handful of others as potential starters on offense.

Those would be returning starter Austin Proehl at wide receiver, Bentley Spain at left tackle, Florida transfer Cam Dillard at center, and Brandon Fritts and Carl Tucker at tight end.

"I think that's about it offensively," Fedora said.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: WR Austin Proehl -- Proehl is the only proven weapon North Carolina has returning at the skill positions, which counts wide receivers Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins among the losses from last season. Proehl was third on the team in receiving yards (597) and had three touchdown receptions. He has 70 receptions in his career after recording 43 last year and looks to be the No. 1 offensive threat going into the season.

BREAKOUT STAR: LB Cole Holcomb -- A former walk-on who played mostly on special teams in 2015, Holcomb stepped up to become North Carolina's leading tackler last season with 115 stops, an average of 8.5 per game that ranked fifth in the ACC. Among those numbers were five tackles for loss (one sack), and he also broke up five passes. He also came up big in big games, recording 13 tackles in the win over Florida State. With his former coach, linebackers coach John Pauchis, moving up to defensive coordinator, Holcomb could play an even bigger role in the pass rush this fall and add sacks to his totals.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: RB Stanton Truitt -- Truitt comes from Auburn as a graduate transfer with two seasons of eligibility left. He rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns and had seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown last year after seeing limited playing time the previous two years because of injuries. With RB Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan both gone, Truitt likely will become North Carolina's primary ball carrier.

--C Cameron Dillard figures to start for North Carolina after playing three seasons for Florida. He started eight games for the Gators in 2016 before requiring season-ending knee surgery.

--OL Khaliel Rodgers surprisingly announced after camp had opened that he was "retiring" from football. A graduate transfer from Southern California, Rodgers had nine starts on the offensive line in 2014 and '15 -- six at center and three at guard -- but was moved to the defensive line in 2016. "We hated to see him go," coach Larry Fedora said.

--DT Marlon Dunlap is transferring to Florida after playing in seven games as a true freshman for North Carolina last year. He will sit out the 2017 season.

--Freshman LB Kayne Roberts has moved to running back. He played both positions in high school, but the Tar Heels have a greater need at running back right now.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:55 AM
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August 15, 2017

Louisville, Jackson look for more magic in 2017


Louisville went 9-4 last season with a win over Florida State, and quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy. And yet it didn't quite seem like enough.

The Cardinals ended up wishing for more because of the way last season finished -- three consecutive losses, including disappointing performances against rival Kentucky and the bowl stinker vs. LSU.

The good news? Jackson is back for his junior season, and a good number of talented players join him on both sides of the ball. Louisville figures to be an ACC contender again this season.

"We have high expectations for this team," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.

"I know our coaching staff does. I know our players do. Certainly our fans and our administration have high expectations for us, and this is a really tough conference. It's going to be very competitive. Every team that we play has really good players. Every team that we play is very, very well-coached, so we're going to have to do a great job of being in great condition, developing our depth, and being able to perform in the fourth quarter when the pressure is on.

"I think that's what you're going to see, a lot of fourth-quarter wins or fourth-quarter losses this year throughout the conference."

As noted, the "fourth quarter" of Louisville's 2016 season didn't go well. After the bowl, Petrino made some changes -- bringing in new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon to simplify the scheme, offensive line coach Mike Summers from Florida and defensive backs coach Lorenzo Ward from South Carolina to help the Cardinals eliminate the big plays that plagued them in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Petrino and Co. will have to be ready quickly this season, with the first three weeks including Purdue then a road trip to North Carolina before a home-opening showdown with defending national champion Clemson.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: QB Lamar Jackson -- With Jackson in the pocket for Year 3, Louisville figures to have the most-dangerous offense in the ACC and perhaps the nation. He finished 2016 with 3,542 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, also rushing for 1,571 yards and 21 scores. Jackson broke Michael Vick's ACC records last season while he was still figuring out Bobby Petrino's full offense. How good could he be this season? That will depend on how new offensive line coach Mike Summers reforms an offensive line that gave up 47 sacks last season.

BREAKOUT STAR: WR Jaylen Smith -- Louisville lost its top three receivers from 2016 -- wideouts James Quick and Jamari Staples and tight end Cole Hikutini. Stepping into the spotlight will be Smith, who has all the physical tools to be an elite wide receiver. He caught 27 passes for 599 yards and six touchdowns last season. Those numbers could double in 2017.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: OL Mekhi Becton -- With offensive line being Louisville's biggest question mark after the 2016 season, Petrino signed the Cardinals' highest-ranked recruiting class ever on the lines, including this massive freshman. Becton is nearly 6-foot-8 and easily carries 345 pounds. "He reminds me of Jonathan Ogden, who I coached against in the NFL," coach Bobby Petrino said. "He's a massive individual and he doesn't have a lot of bad weight. He can really move with that frame." Becton could start Game 1 at tackle for Louisville.

--RB Reggie Bonnafon, a senior who has also played wide receiver and quarterback for Louisville, is expected to be a key weapon in Lamar Jackson's backfield. Bonnafon is a physical freak with a 4.40 40-yard dash and a 43-inch vertical.

--DE Trevon Young, an All-ACC talent at outside linebacker in 2015, is back from a gruesome hip injury that happened in the first half of Louisville's 2015 Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M. Young and fellow pass-rusher James Hearns figure to be a strong duo for the Cardinals.

--DB Jaire Alexander is a preseason selection for All-ACC and he might be the best cornerback in a Louisville uniform since Sam Madison. Alexander had five interceptions and 39 tackles last season.

--DL Drew Bailey will try to step into the shoes left behind by Saints first-round pick Sheldon Rankins and Tennessee Titans rookie DeAngelo Brown as Louisville's next star defensive lineman. Bailey says he wears 14 because he's "Channel 14 -- must-see TV."

--WR Seth Dawkins averaged 17.4 yards per catch in 2016 and Bobby Petrino say he wants to work him into the lineup more this season. The 6-4 wideout reminds insiders of former first-round pick DeVante Parker, who is now with the Miami Dolphins.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:56 AM
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August 15, 2017

QB only missing piece for Yellow Jackets


Georgia Tech, with 18 players returning who started games a year ago, could be ready to return to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2014.

But the Yellow Jackets' success mostly could ride on finding a quarterback to replace three-year starter Justin Thomas, who wound up being the quintessential leader for coach Paul Johnson's option offense.

There is a four-man battle for the position in camp, although Johnson said the job belongs to Matthew Jordan, until someone comes and takes it away.

"I feel good about that position," Johnson said. "You know, it's Matthew's job to lose, but I think we've got four guys at that position that I could call a game for right now."

Jordan missed spring practice with a foot injury but remained the No. 1 quarterback because of his experience. Jordan took over for an injured Thomas a year ago and led the Yellow Jackets to a crucial win at Virginia Tech. That accomplishment alone means a lot when it comes to establishing starting credentials.

"Matthew Jordan had to go up to Blacksburg, which is a really tough place to play, and start the game, and we were fortunate that he won the game there," Johnson said. "I think that gave him come confidence and gave our guys some confidence in him."

With Jordan out this spring, three backups soaked up most of the minutes. TaQuon Marshall, Jay Jones and Lucas Johnson all played well during the spring game. The trio brings quickness and game-breaking skills.

Jones and Johnson are redshirt freshman who, according to Johnson, "may actually be the most talented kids we've had at Georgia Tech since I've been there at quarterback."

Replacing a three-year starter like Thomas won't be easy, but the transition should be made smoother by the number of established starters at the other positions. Four starting offensive linemen return, as well as the top two receivers and top running backs.

"He's going to be surrounded, whoever it is, by a group of guys that have played a lot," Johnson said.

"It's very similar to three years ago when Justin was first starting and he was surrounded by a bunch of guys that had experience and had played a lot of football. That season worked out pretty good. We ended up in the Orange Bowl and beating Mississippi State. Hopefully we'll have another year like that."

The Yellow Jackets were 9-4 in 2016 and won their final five games. They defeated Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville.

Georgia Tech will be tested immediately in the season opener, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic against Tennessee at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. In addition to ending the season against rival Georgia, the Yellow Jackets have a crossover ACC game against defending national champion Clemson.

The Yellow Jackets were picked to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division behind Miami and Virginia Tech at the ACC Kickoff event in July.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: FB Dedrick Mills -- A year ago the bruising runner was one of six true freshmen to play for the Yellow Jackets. Mills emerged as a star and gave the team its best B-back - the team's equivalent of a fullback -- in five years. Mills led the team in rushing (771 yards) and scored 13 touchdowns, despite missing four games. He was the MVP of the TaxSlayer Bowl. Mills must stay healthy and remain effective to help the new quarterback get his footing.

BREAKOUT STAR: S A.J. Gray -- The junior played in 10 games as a freshman and started all 13 games last season. He will be a key piece of the experienced secondary. At 6-1, 218 pounds, Gray is a hard hitter who doesn't shy away from contact. He's also a smart player who is getting better in pass coverage. He could be an all-conference-caliber player before he's finished. Gray had 72 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and forced a fumble in 2016.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: PK Brenton King -- The true freshman was a two-time Georgia all-state selection from Mill Creek High School. He has a big leg and is expected to replace Harrison Butker, a four-year starter who graduated as the program's all-time leading scorer. King's range extends to 50 yards and he's capable of burying kickoffs in the end zone, which was a hallmark of the Butker years.

--LG Parker Braun (6-3, 280) started the last eight games of the 2016 season as a true freshman and was good enough to be named to the ESPN True Freshman All-America team. Braun is big and strong and has a nasty streak. In his eight starts, the Yellow Jackets averaged 277.6 rushing yards and 31.1 points.

--DE KeShun Freeman (6-2, 250) is a fourth-year starter who is expected to ramp up the pass rush, something the Yellow Jackets have lacked in the past two years. Freeman has seven sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss in three seasons.

--WR Ricky Jeune is overlooked because he's a receiver in a running offense. Jeune is trying to follow in the footsteps of great receivers like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, who produced great numbers at Tech. Jeune is tall (6-3, 210) and athletic and typically comes down with anything thrown his way. Last year he averaged 17.1 yards on 25 catches, with one touchdown.

--RB Clinton Lynch (6-1, 190) is a dual threat. He led the team in receiving yards (490) and was fourth in rushing (415). Last season averaged 17.1 yards per touch and scored eight touchdowns, six of them covering 40 or more yards.

--DB Corey Griffin (6-2, 200) is one of the team's most vocal leaders. He started all 13 games last season at strong safety and led the team with 82 total tackles. Griffin had two interceptions, one of them against Virginia Tech to set up the winning touchdown.

--LB Brant Mitchell (6-2, 235) always seems to be around the ball. Last year he had three takeaways (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and had at least three tackles in every game. He had 42 tackles over the final five games, including 10 in the key win at Virginia Tech.

--DT Brandon Adams (6-2, 330) dropped about 30 pounds in the offseason and should be able to expand his role. Adams was almost limited to one-play appearances in run-stuffing situations, normally on the goal line. He should get more playing time now that his endurance has improved.
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Old 08-16-2017, 01:58 AM
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August 15, 2017

Renewed focus might spark Blue Devils


Duke slipped to a 4-8 mark last season after reaching a bowl game in four consecutive seasons, which had represented the best stretch for the Blue Devils in a generation.

"I wish it was a blip on the radar," coach David Cutcliffe said. "I don't want anyone around here to forget (what that felt like)."

The reminders are constant as Duke heads toward a season in which it is tagged as a major underdog following five losses in its last six outings a year ago.

That might have been the jolt needed to draw the Blue Devils back in line in some ways. From what fifth-year senior center Austin Davis has seen, the focus has returned.

"I think a lot has changed because our attitude has changed," Davis said. "It was painful to watch all those (bowl) games. We don't plan on sitting home in December ever again."

Despite what might be described as growing pains last year, there was value in the process. The payoff could come this season.

"The familiarity," said Cutcliffe, who enters his 10th season with a 52-61 record at the school. "We have a very young team, but at the same time we have enough veterans."

Much attention will be on redshirt sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones, who was rushed into duty last year when an August preseason injury to incumbent Thomas Sirk left the reins in his hands. Sirk has since transferred to East Carolina.

Cutcliffe regularly praised Jones for being savvy enough to figure things out along the way last season. He might have seemed overmatched in some situations, but Jones also showed toughness and a calm demeanor that helps set the tone for him going into another season.

"I need to be more assertive," Jones said. "Naturally, I'm not the most vocal guy, but I'm willing to do that."

Now, his improvements are evident in many ways.

"His strength, his speed," Cutcliffe said. "He had an incredible touch on the ball (in a recent practice), which is something we're still working on. ... If he continues to be all in to do every little thing better, he is going to be better than a year ago I can promise you that."

Among the other skill positions on offense, running back Shaun Wilson, receiver T.J. Rahming and tight end Daniel Helm seemed to solidify positions.

"They've certainly had, to this point, outstanding camps," Cutcliffe said.

Throughout the roster, Cutcliffe has noted the potential impact from freshmen. They might simply be needed to plug holes, but their arrivals also serve notice to upperclassmen that the status quo isn't acceptable following the 2016 season.

The schedule is top-heavy with home games as the Blue Devils play four September games in Durham and six of their first eight overall at Wallace Wade Stadium.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: QB Daniel Jones -- He was thrust into a starting role last season as a redshirt freshman; he should be more equipped to handle all that comes at him after a season of experience. His durability last year was commendable on several levels, and now he looks physically stronger, listed at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. He completed 270 of 430 passes last season for 2,836 yards, with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also ran for 486 yards in what became a pass-oriented offense as the Blue Devils often were playing catch-up.

BREAKOUT STAR: LB Joe Giles-Harris -- He's a redshirt sophomore coming off a season when he led the team with 107 tackles, one more than Ben Humphreys (who's generally viewed as the leader of the defense). Giles-Harris has a knack for making key plays and could step into a more visible role, though his 9.5 tackles for losses last year was a pretty good start. That also helped him to some freshman All-American accolades.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: WR Scott Bracey -- He's a redshirt freshman with a reputation as a big-play receiver. He likely would have suited up for games last year if not for a preseason injury; by the time he recovered it wasn't worth using a season of eligibility. He checks in at 6-foot-2 with a nice stride. If Bracey is as good as advertised, he'll solve some of the questions regarding the team's receiving corps.

--S Jeremy McDuffie figures to play the strike role in the secondary. He converted from cornerback during spring drills.

--CB Bryon Fields was nicked up after a week of practice, which limited some of his work. His experience makes some missed repetitions not a huge concern.

--DE Ben Frye, a freshman, made an early impression and could work his way into playing time.

--OG Rakavius Chambers might be in line for an immediate role. If nothing else, the freshman has added to the competition along the offensive front.

--P/K Austin Parker, the returning starting punter, emerged as the early favorite to be the main kicker after a rough freshman season for PK AJ. Reed.

--DT Quaven Ferguson (leg injury) has missed time during the preseason.
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August 15, 2017

Defense will be Clemson's strong suit


Clemson will embark on the 2017 season with a hard-earned but potentially burdensome tag -- defending national champion -- and coach Dabo Swinney doesn't particularly care for the description.

"We're not defending a national championship," Swinney said. "We're just chasing another one."

Defending, chasing, contending -- whatever the case, there's no question that the Tigers have joined the exclusive club of college football elites.

Under Swinney's guidance, Clemson has won 70 games in the past six years, including a 35-31 victory against Alabama in the national title game in January for the program's first championship in 35 years.

The Tigers' next challenge is maintaining that lofty status.

"I'm excited about it," said Swinney, whose team finished 14-1 last season. "It means new opportunities for a lot of people. Our goal is to be the best that we can be."

Despite the loss of much of last season's offensive firepower, including quarterback Deshaun Watson, wide receiver Mike Williams, tight end Jordan Leggett and running back Wayne Gallman, Swinney's team has the potential to be a playoff player for a third consecutive year.

Much of Clemson success in 2017 will depend on who replaces Watson and Gallman.

Kelly Bryant, a junior who has great running skills but has completed only 13 passes in two seasons, is the most experienced quarterback and the odds-on favorite to start in the season opener against Kent State on Sept. 2, but he's being pushed in fall camp by freshman Hunter Johnson and sophomore Zerrick Cooper.

A three-way battle at running back is expected to continue through fall camp as well, with C.J. Fuller, Tavien Feaster and Adam Choice the candidates. The Tigers lost Williams and all-time leading receiver Artavis Scott, but the return of Deon Cain and championship game hero Hunter Renfrow bodes well for a receiving corps that has received an influx of rookie talent as well.

While the offense plays catch-up, Clemson's strength, at least early in the season, will be built around a defense that returns seven starters. Defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are All-America candidates, and defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant are potential stars as well.

This much is certain: It won't take long for the Tigers to see what their shortcomings might be. After the opener, Clemson faces Auburn at home and then Louisville and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson on the road in Week 3.

"The natural thing is to focus on who's gone," Swinney said. "But we'll focus on who's here. We've got a lot of talented young men, a lot of experienced people. We have most everybody back in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and that's always kind of where it all starts.

"For us, we want to try to win this league. To do that, you've got to win your division, so that's all we're focused on. Just put our best foot forward and be the best version of this team that we can be and we'll see where we get down the road.

"I think it's going to be fun. It's exciting when you've got some new pieces that are going to have to emerge."

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: WR Deon Cain -- Cain is poised to replace Mike Williams, who was drafted No. 7 overall by the Chargers last April, as Clemson's primary deep-ball threat. Despite being a back-up, the junior already has had his share of big moments as well as showing a knack for finding the end zone. With 14 touchdowns on only 72 receptions in his first two seasons, Cain is averaging a touchdown roughly every five catches, and his 18.1 yards per catch ranks fourth in school history. "This is one of the best receivers in the country," coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's been there, done that. In my mind, he's a proven player."

BREAKOUT STAR: DE Clelin Ferrell -- Ferrell broke out in many ways in 2016, but he appears to be set for an even more productive year in 2017. The redshirt sophomore, who had 50 tackles, including 12.5 for loss and six sacks last season, will benefit from having potential all-star Austin Bryant returning at the other end spot and All-America candidates Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence ready to collapse the middle of opposing lines. Given the talent, size and ability of Clemson's defensive front, Ferrell could be in line to post a double-digit sack total and continue Clemson's tradition of outstanding defensive ends.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: WR Tee Higgins -- At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Higgins looks like the next Mike Williams, both in stature and ability. The freshman receiver has wowed with his "ability to go get it," coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's got great body control, he's physical and I'm very encouraged by his toughness. He hasn't backed down a bit. He has zero fear." It's not surprising that Higgins may emerge as an early contributor; he was the top-rated player in Clemson's 2017 recruiting class after 68 receptions for 1,044 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at Oak Ridge (Tenn.) High.

--WR Ray-Ray McCloud, a junior with 78 career receptions, has split practice time between receiver and cornerback in fall camp. "He was originally recruited as a defensive back," Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. McCloud also will returns punts this season.

--LB Dorian O'Daniel, C Justin Falcinelli and OG Tyrone Crowder received their diplomas on Aug. 11, earning a day off from practice. Coach Dabo Swinney has had 157 of 162 senior lettermen earn their degrees over his nine seasons.

--DE Richard Yeargin will miss the season after suffering a neck injury in an auto accident in June. A junior from Fort Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., Yeargin was listed as a second-team defensive end. He had 29 tackles in his first two seasons, including 14 stops and four tackles for loss in 12 games in 2016.

--LB Logan Rudolph, the younger brother of Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, has moved to defensive end. The freshman might miss the season; coach Dabo Swinney said Rudolph might be able to play through pain this season but will need shoulder surgery at some point.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:00 AM
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August 15, 2017

QB battle highlights BC's fall camp


Darius Wade or Anthony Brown?

The hope is one of them will emerge to run what should be a high-paced offense as the Eagles come off a 7-6 season that ended with three straight wins, including a 36-30 victory over Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl.

After the team's second preseason scrimmage, it appeared the quarterbacks were even as the team progressed toward its Sept. 1 opener at Northern Illinois.

"I like our tempo offense because it's an advantage," Wade said.

"It's a lot of fun because you can run around, make calls at the line and just play football. That's something we did during my junior and senior years in high school. It fits my game because it gives me freedom to make my own checks and own calls of that nature."

Said Brown, a redshirt freshman: "We've been working at this for a good amount of time. Catching onto the speed of the game is getting easier and easier as we get going. ... It feels great (to make big plays), but we just have to keep doing it."

Wade has the experience edge, having started three games in 2015 before being injured and missing the rest of the season. He attempted 19 passes last season.

Coach Steve Addazio will continue to look for a healthy competition at quarterback in camp. He said he liked the way the team was progressing, even though the Eagles were picked to finish last in the ACC's Atlantic Division.

"I've got a great football team full of guys that love football, that work really hard at football," Addazio said.

"They love being at BC. Their degree and their education is extremely important to them, so I walk into work every day, and every day I'm just like smiling, having an opportunity to work with these guys. I think the talent level is the best we've had, and I think that will parlay into a great season for us this year."

And, make no mistake, there are stars.

Harold Landry, a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, is one of the best players in the country. On offense, versatile receiver Jeff Smith is always a threat on the outside, while Tim Sweeney is the Eagles' best tight end in years.

"I think we can have an amazing season this year on defense," said Landry, the 2016 national sack leader who passed up the NFL Draft for a shot at a senior year.

"The chemistry our defense has, specifically with like my senior class, leading the defense this year, we have so much chemistry. We all have one common goal, which is go out and dominate. We want to go three-and-out as much as we can to give the offense as many chances, so they can get the rhythm going so they can start clicking in every game."

Notre Dame visits for the second game of the season and, after Central Michigan comes to Chestnut Hill, the Eagles host open ACC play at home against Wake Forest.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: DE Harold Landry -- He led the nation in sacks, with 16.5, and also led the ACC with 22 tackles for loss. He's back for a senior season, with his eye on earning a first-round grade. He is rated the 39th-best player by NFLDraftScout.com. Landry is a hybrid who can play inside or out and is one of those guys who covers a lot of ground. Lindy's magazine rated him as the country's second-best defensive end in its 2017 preseason rankings.

BREAKOUT STAR: TE Tommy Sweeney -- He caught 26 passes for 353 total yards and three touchdowns last season as a sophomore. The junior is likely to get a lot of work in an offense that knows how to work the tight end and is expected to play at a faster tempo this season.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: RB A.J. Dillon -- It didn't take long for this true freshman, a hometown product who de-committed from Michigan, to force his way into the crowded -- and talented -- running game. He was already listed on preseason depth charts. Coach Steve Addazio calls this the strongest backfield he's had in his five seasons with the school, with Dillon expected to fill out the rotation with junior John Hilliman and sophomore Davon Jones.

--DE Harold Landry was named preseason All-ACC and was on the watch lists for the Walter Camp (player of the year) and Nagurski (top defensive player) awards.

--WR Jeff Smith is on the watch list for the Hornung Award for the most versatile player.

--RB Jon Hilliman is on the Doak Walker watch list for the nation's top runner.

--LB Connor Strachan was working at both outside and inside linebacker and was all over the field in the scrimmages.

--K Max Schulze-Geisthovel, a senior soccer player at the school, has forced his way into the kicking battle, which had been between Mike Knoll and Colton Lichtenberg.

--OL Elijah Johnson was working his way back from a spring injury and didn't play in the second scrimmage.

--DE Wyatt Ray was opening eyes in camp and should be part of a defensive charge that makes things difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

--OL Marcell Lazard, a graduate transfer from West Virginia, is likely to start at right tackle.
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August 15, 2017

No. 1 quarterback still undetermined for Hurricanes


Miami came out of the spring with no established No. 1 quarterback. After two weeks of fall camp, only one thing has changed.

Instead of three candidates for the job, there are now four with true freshman N'Kosi Perry joining junior Malik Rosier, sophomore Evan Shirreffs and true freshman Cade Weldon, who enrolled early to take part in spring practice.

Coming out of the team's first major scrimmage, coach Mark Richt rated all four about even. Rosier, who was a backup last year and had one start in place of an injured Brad Kaaya in 2015, and Shirreffs have a slight advantage because of their maturity and familiarity with the program, but that is about it.

Each has gotten a similar number of reps in practice and each had his moments in the initial scrimmage, which was closed to the public and media. Rosier was 8 of 14 passing for 181 yards; Shirreffs 10 of 14 for 132; Perry 6 of 15 for 68; Weldon was 2 of 10 for 40 yards.

"The good news is that all four guys competing can really play," Richt said.

Senior Braxton Berrios gave his rundown on the four candidates from his prospective as a wide receiver, starting with the most experienced, Rosier.

"He has a start under his belt and has more experience than any of the other ones," Berrios said. "Which is a plus. He's a veteran as well. He's been here as long as I have. Obviously, he hasn't started as many games, but he's a veteran as well so he knows how this offense works."

Shirreffs didn't get on the field last year but had a good spring.

"He's an athletic guy," Berrios said. "He can sling the ball. It's just making the right decisions all the time. He's actually a really good quarterback. Very smart. He knows everything. He knows what to do. He knows where he's going with the ball. Very decisive, and again he can run as well. He's athletic as well."

Perry got the most attention of any of the signees in a highly rated class.

"He probably has the strongest arm, just pure arm," Berrios said. "He can get that ball to hum. He's a young guy. All the little things he has to get right, but he's a smart guy and very athletic, as you can tell."

Weldon, the son of former Florida State quarterback Casey Weldon, also has a strong arm.

"Just a young guy," Berrios said. "He has all the potential in the world. It's just a matter of him getting up to speed with the other guys."

The hope is that one will begin to emerge after the second scrimmage. The Hurricanes open the season Sept. 2 against Bethune-Cookman.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: RB Mark Walton -- With Miami looking to get its passing game going with a new quarterback, Walton looks to be a steadying influence in the running game. He rushed for 1,117 yards in earning a starting role in coach Mark Richt's first season. He is a tough inside runner as well as a solid receiver out of the backfield with 49 receptions for 533 yards in his two seasons. Walton returned kickoffs as a freshman in 2015 but gave up that role when he became the primary ball carrier in the offense.

BREAKOUT STAR: WR Ahmmon Richards -- Richards got his collegiate career off to an outstanding start, earning third-team All-ACC recognition after catching 49 passes for a Miami freshman record 934 yards. His 19.1 average yards per catch led NCAA freshmen. But he no longer is an unknown commodity as he goes into his sophomore season. "I told him all offseason, 'Hey, the honeymoon is over.' He's not the unknown guy anymore," receivers coach Ron Dugan said. "Now you've got a target on your back."

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: OT George Brown -- After sitting out last season following his transfer from LSU, Brown looks ready to contribute this fall. The O-line looks to be a solid position for the Hurricanes, but depth took a hit with a couple of transfers opening up an opportunity for Brown. Brown also redshirted at LSU in his freshman year, so he will be getting his first playing time since 2014. He was a three- or four-star prospect, depending on the recruiting service, coming out of high school in Cincinnati.

--C Nick Linder announced he was leaving Miami and will sit out this season before transferring to another school. He had 25 starts in three seasons for the Hurricanes.

--OT Sunny Odogwu, who left Miami earlier in the summer, will play at UCLA as a graduate transfer. Odogwu played in only four games in 2016 before sustaining a season-ending ankle injury.

--DT Gerald Willis is taking a leave of absence from the team and won't play in 2017, but coach Mark Richt apparently has left the door open for the junior to return. Willis transferred to Miami from Florida in 2014. He played in nine games last season despite injuring his knee in the loss to Florida State; he recorded 19 tackles (1.5 sacks).

--CB Terrance Henley, who mostly played on special teams last year, left the team in July to seek more playing time elsewhere.

--TE Jovani Haskins, a redshirt freshman, has transferred to West Virginia, where he joins former Miami quarterback Jack Allison, who left the Hurricanes after spring practice.

--DB Ryan Mayes, a junior who recorded little playing time in his first two seasons, has left the Miami program.

--LB Michael Pinckey, who had an outstanding season in starting as a freshman in 2016, has been limited by a hamstring issue. His absence has given junior LB Darrion Owens more opportunities.

--TE Michael Irvin Jr. was dealing with hydration issues and missed some early time in camp
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August 15, 2017

Stacked Seminoles ready for epic opener


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It doesn't get better than Florida State vs. Alabama to start the season.

The Crimson Tide opened at No. 1 in the coaches' poll, with the Seminoles at No. 3. By the rankings, that would be the biggest season opener in college football history.

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't much care for the historical relevance.

"Hype goes away. Fundamentals win," Fisher said during Florida State's Media Day in early August. "We have respect for them, but they have to play us too."

The last time two teams this highly ranked in the preseason faced off in an opener was 1986 when No. 1 Oklahoma played No. 4 UCLA.

"I think (this game) is one of those things ... you can test yourself. And (Alabama is) going to test themselves with us. You find out where you're team is at," Fisher said.

He is entering his eighth season as the Seminoles' head coach after spending seven years at LSU working under then-head coach Nick Saban, now the head coach at Alabama.

This matchup will be the first between the two titans of college football coaching.

"Who knew we were going to be two of the top two teams or three teams -- or whatever the heck it is," Fisher said.

"We didn't know that at the time (we made the matchup). But we knew they'd have a great program, and I think they think the same thing here. And if you can play those games early at certain times, I think it's good."

There is once again a lot of good for the Seminoles, who are coming off a 10-3 season and a thrilling Orange Bowl win against Michigan. They return 15 starters -- nine on defense and six on offense, including sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois, who was selected ACC Rookie of the Year after he passed for 3,320 yards, threw 20 touchdowns and rushed for five more in 2016.

The offense's biggest question marks come on the offensive line -- which allowed 36 sacks last year -- and also at running back.

Florida State career leading rusher Dalvin Cook left for the NFL after his junior year and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round, leaving big shoes that will likely be filled by junior running back Jacques Patrick and freshman phenom Cam Akers, the U.S. Army High School Player of the Year who was the Seminoles' top five-star prospect of their 2017 signing class.

Florida State's defense, meanwhile, appears to be in great shape heading into Atlanta.

Star defensive back Derwin James was injured in Week 2 last year with a lateral meniscus tear in his knee, but after a medical redshirt, he's expected to wreak havoc on opposing offenses all season. He was chosen as the top-rated player in college football by ESPN.

"It put a bigger target on my back," James said of the No. 1 billing. "But I don't just want to be No. 1 in preseason, I want to be No. 1 at the end of the season, too."

The Seminoles get to host typically tough games against Miami, Louisville and N.C. State in the early part of the season and don't face a tough road test until the final month: Nov. 11 at defending national champ Clemson and Nov. 25 at Florida.

At least one Florida State player likes what he sees when he looks at the Seminoles' 2017 roadmap to a national title.

"If we don't get a national championship, we will feel like we failed," junior cornerback Tavarus McFadden said. "I feel like the only people who are going to stop us are ourselves."

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: DB Derwin James --- Florida State needs James more than any other player -- and it needs him for all 12 games. When James, a redshirt sophomore, went down in Week 2 last year, the Seminoles' defense was shell-shocked, giving up 135 points in its next three games -- two of them losses -- following their leader's season-ending exit. James used the down-time to rehab and learn every position on defense, so expect to also see him line up at linebacker and defensive end this year. He was the best freshman defensive player in the country two years ago, recording 91 tackles, including 9.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks.

BREAKOUT STAR: WR Keith Gavin -- Hard to call Gavin, a sophomore, a potential "breakout star" when he became a household name after the Seminoles' Orange Bowl win against Michigan last year. In the final two minutes, and with Florida State trailing 32-27, Gavin fielded the Wolverines' kickoff deep in the end zone and -- to the shock of many -- still ran it out. Rather than the decision ending in disaster, Gavin galloped 66 yards to set up the game-winning score. It was Gavin's breakout moment after seeing limited action as a freshman, appearing in just eight games and recording zero catches. But at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Gavin possesses a rare combination of size and burning speed, and Seminoles receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey compared him to both Terrell Owens and Dwayne Bowe during the Seminoles' Media Day. "I expect Keith to have an enormous season for us. He's ready," Dawsey said.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH: RB Cam Akers -- Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher anointed junior running back Jacques Patrick the starter on the opening day of practice, but Fisher will no doubt make sure Akers, a heralded five-star freshman, sees playing time. Akers, the U.S. Army High School Player of the Year last season, led Clinton (Miss.) High School to the state title his senior season as a dual-threat quarterback. The early enrollee finished his prep career with 8,140 yards passing and 78 touchdowns, while rushing for 5,103 yards and 71 scores.

--WR De'Vante Phillips, a junior who was competing for a starting role this year, was suspended indefinitely on Aug. 4 after being charged with four counts of felony fraud for allegedly trying to deposit altered checks. Phillips only had four catches last season, but receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey expected big things from Phillips and said in the offseason, "This is his time. We need him."

--OL Brady Scott, a freshman offensive lineman, was the only player listed on the injury report when Florida State opened fall camp. Scott was hit by a car while on his scooter on campus and suffered a broken foot, which was expected to keep him out for eight weeks. Scott, a 6-6, 285-pound offensive tackle wasn't expected to vie for much playing time in his first year.

--LB Matthew Thomas, a redshirt senior linebacker and leading tackler from last season (77 solos), missed six straight practices and the Seminoles' first preseason scrimmage. Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Thomas was held out of practice due to illness, but he expected him back soon.
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Pac-12 Report - Week 1
August 22, 2017


2016 PAC-12 STANDINGS

Team SU Conference ATS Over/Under

Arizona 3-9 1-8 2-10 7-5

Arizona State 5-7 2-7 6-5 7-5

California 5-7 3-6 5-7 8-4

Colorado 10-4 8-2 10-4 5-9

Oregon 4-8 2-7 2-9-1 7-5

Oregon State 4-8 3-6 9-3 5-7

Southern California 10-3 7-2 8-5 4-9

Stanford 10-3 6-3 7-6 5-8

UCLA 4-8 2-7 4-8 4-7-1

Utah 9-4 5-4 7-6 6-7

Washington 12-2 9-1 7-7 8-5-1

Washington State 8-5 7-2 6-7 7-5-1

Oregon State at Colorado State (Sat., Aug. 26 - CBS Sports Network, 2:30 p.m. ET)
The Beavers hit the road for Fort Collins to clash with the Rams in the first game on the 2017 College Football regular season schedule, and first game at CSU's brand spanking new facility. Oregon State didn't have the greatest of seasons last year, but they did finish with seven covers across their final eight outings while winning their final two games straight up. However, they were blanked in five tries on the road in 2016, going 3-2 ATS, and they're 0-13 SU/4-9 ATS across their past 13 trips since their last road win in Colorado on Oct. 4, 2014. Colorado State made a bowl appearance last season, losing 61-50 in a shootout. That was par for the course, as they scored 37 or more points in each of their final six games while covering the last seven games of the regular season, and 10 of 11. Oregon State will turn to QB Jake Luton, a JUCO transfer, to try and turn around one of the worst passing offenses among Power 5 Conference members.

Stanford at Rice from Sydney, Australia (Sat., Aug. 26 - ESPN, 10:00 p.m. ET)

Stanford and Rice will do battle down under, and Aussies might be treated to a beatdown. The Cardinal are favored by 31 points. It was a strange season for the Cardina. They still ended up with 10 wins, but it was disappointing by their standards. That shows how high the bar has been set in Palo Alto. They were humbled 44-6 in Washington Sept. 30, 2016, and belted 42-16 by Washington State at home. On Oct. 22, they were 4-3 SU/ATS through seven games and people wondered aloud if mediocrity was back in the Bay Area. But the Cardinal ripped off six wins, including their bowl game, to get to 10 wins. They lost Christian McCaffrey to the NFL, but they should be just fine going into 2017. Stanford is just 2-3 ATS over their past five regular season openers, and they lost straight-up at Northwestern the last time they opened somewhere outside of Palo Alto. They topped the Owls 41-17 to close the regular season last year, and the Cardinal are replacing key personnel. Will it be enough for the Owls to stay within the number?
New Mexico State at Arizona State (Thurs., Aug. 31 - Pac-12 Network, 10:30 p.m. ET)
The Sun Devils open with the Aggies, who are barely an FBS team. The Aggies have posted three or fewer wins in five consecutive seasons, and they haven't had a winning campaign since the 2002 season. Arizona State isn't used to losing seasons, but that's what they experienced last year when they lost to rival Arizona in the finale to miss a bowl bid. Arizona State is favored to win by more than three touchdowns in their opener, and they're 8-1 ATS over the past nine outings. Conversely, NMSU is 9-19 ATS over the past 28 road battles. A high-scoring game could be on tap, as the 'over' is 21-5-1 in the past 27 road outings for the Aggies, and the Sun Devils hit the over in four of their past five home contests.

Colorado State at Colorado from Denver, Colo. (Fri., Sept. 1 - Pac-12 Network, 8:00 p.m. ET)
The Rams will already have a game under its belt when they invade Sports Authority Field in Denver for their rivalry game with the Buffaloes. Colorado had a great season in 2016, rising back to prominence after many awful and trying seasons since joining the Pac-12. The Rams enter the season 14-4-1 ATS over their past 19 non-conference games, but they're 0-4-1 in their past five neutral-site battles. The Buffaloes are 1-3-1 ATS in their past five on a neutral-site field. Total bettors might be especially interested in this rivalry game, as the 'under' has hit in eight of the past nine games. The underdog is also 3-1-1 ATS in the past five meetings in this series.

Washington at Rutgers (Fri., Sept. 1 - FOX Sports 1, 8:00 p.m. ET)
The Huskies made the four-team playoff last season, but they were bounced by a much more superior Alabama team. Washington looks to climb the mountain again, hoping to take that next step forward. They can start climbing that mountain with a convincing win against Rutgers in a cross-country trip to open the season. The Huskies waffled the Scarlet Knights by a 48-13 count to open the 2016 season, covering a 25-point number. Washington's roster is littered with stars again, and they return 13 starters. QB Jake Browning and RB Myles Gaskin are back, as is LB Azeem Victor along with the league's best front seven. That's bad news for a Rutgers team that is barely competitive against bottom-tier FBS teams.

California at North Carolina (ACC Network, 12:20 p.m. ET)
The Tar Heels open as 12 1/2-point favorite against the visiting Bears. California hasn't had a lot of luck, failing to cover over their past four road games. However, Cal has had some luck in their past non-conference tilts, covering five of the past seven. The Golden Bears have to replace QB Davis Webb, and that will be their biggest question mark. Will either Ross Bowers or Chase Forrest be ready, especially after a cross-country flight, playing on the road in hostile territory in their first-ever start? New O.C. Beau Baldwin, formerly head coach of high-flying FCS program Eastern Washington, will make this offense fun, but it might take time. UNC also must replace QB Mitch Trubisky, a big hole, as well as stud TBs Elijah Hood, T.J. Logan, WRs Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer, as well as three offensive linemen. The defense will be fine with six starters back, but there are a ton of question marks on offense.

Western Michigan at Southern California (Sat., Sept. 2 - Pac-12 Network, 5:15 p.m. ET)
The Trojans look for a quick start, and they have one of the most dangerous weapons in the country in QB Sam Darnold. It's a tough opener against a Western Michigan team which posted 13 regular-season victories before playing Wisconsin tough in the Cotton Bowl, covering in a 24-16 loss. With success of a mid-level program, losses are harder to overcome. Head coach P.J. Fleck left for Minnesota and WR Corey Davis is now playing his football for the Tennessee Titans. However, they still have a strong pass rush to give Darnold a much bigger test than some other top QBs who will be opening with cupcakes. USC opened as a 24-point favorite, and bettors are now expecting them to win by nearly four touchdowns. While USC is expected to be a playoff contender, Western Michigan is coming off a New Year's Day bowl and will not be a pushover.

Texas A&M at UCLA (Sun., Sept. 3 - FOX, 7:30 p.m. ET)

In one of the final games of the opening weekend, Texas A&M invades the Rose Bowl to battle UCLA. While a lot of the national media focuses on cross-town rival USC's QB, the Bruins have a good one of their own in Josh Rosen. He is making his way back from a shoulder injury which derailed his season early on. He is healthy, and if the team's offensive line play is better he has a chance to lead this team to big things. The Aggies have promise at QB, but it's uncertain if we'll see Jake Hubenek, Kellen Mond or Nick Starkel - or all three - in the opener. Both teams have struggled in non-conference games lately, with A&M 2-6 ATS in their past eight and UCLA 0-5 ATS in their past five outside of the conferences.

Other Games
North Dakota at Utah (Thu., Aug. 31 - Pac-12 Network, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Portland State at Oregon State (Sat., Sept. 2 - Pac-12 Network, 2:00 p.m. ET)
Southern Utah at Oregon (Sat., Sept. 2 - Pac-12 Network, 8:15 p.m. ET)
Montana State at Washington State (Sat., Sept. 2, FOX Sports 1, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Northern Arizona at Arizona (Sat., Sept. 2, Pac-12 Network, 11:00 p.m. ET)
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Big 12 Report - Week 1
August 22, 2017


2016 BIG 12 STANDINGS

Team SU Conference ATS Over/Under


Baylor 7-6 3-6 4-9 4-9

Iowa State 3-9 2-7 7-5 8-4

Kansas 2-10 1-8 6-6 5-7

Kansas State 9-4 6-3 6-7 7-6

Oklahoma 11-2 9-0 7-6 6-7

Oklahoma State 10-3 7-2 8-5 7-6

Texas 5-7 3-6 6-6 4-8

Texas Christian 6-7 4-5 3-10 6-7

Texas Tech 5-7 3-6 8-4 7-5

West Virginia 10-3 7-2 5-8 5-8

Tulsa at Oklahoma State (Thurs. - FOX Sports 1, 7:30 p.m. ET)
Originally set for Saturday, this contest will now kick off on Thursday night in Stillwater. These Sooner State universities have met frequently on the gridiron, with Oklahoma State holding a 39-28-5 all-time series lead. This will be the third-ever meeting to open a new season, however. The offense has been prolific in Tulsa for most of Philip Montgomery's tenure, but the Golden Hurricane must replace some big guns. QB Dane Evans expired his eligibility and top WRs Keevan Lucas and Josh Atkinson are gone. QBs Chad President and Luke Skipper look to fill the void under center. For the first time in a while, the running backs spot appears to be the strength of Tulsa. For OK State, they need no reinforcements on offense, as QB Mason Rudolph is back with his cadre of high-flying receivers, led by James Washington. The difference in this game from the outset will be OK State's defensive line pressure againt an untested QB.

Maryland at Texas (FOX Sports 1, 12:00 p.m.)
If not for Rutgers, Maryland would be battling Indiana to avoid the cellar in the East Division in the Big Ten Conference. For Texas, it's a brand new day with Tom Herman taking the reins after Charlie Strong was relieved of his duties. Big things are expected of the Longhorns in 2017, but when isn't that the case in football-crazy Texas? In recent season the Terrapins of UMD have struggled, wrapping up their 2016 campaign 1-5 ATS over their final six games while going a dismal 0-6 ATS over the past six on the road. They're also 1-4 ATS in their past five outings outside of the conference. For Texas, they've been a tough out in Austin, at least against the number lately, going 7-3 ATS over their past 10 outings. However, they've covered just one of their past five showings against the Big Ten. In terms of non-conference games and the total, the 'under' is 4-1-1 in the past six for the Terps, while the 'over' is 4-1 across the past six the the burnt orange.

Texas-El Paso at Oklahoma (FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET)

This game isn't terribly attractive if you want to see a good game, as Oklahoma opened as a 48-point favorite. It has been bet down into the 44-45 point range, but it is still expected to be a blood bath. Still, plenty of eyes will be on Norman as Lincoln Riley coaches his first game for Boomer Sooner. Oklahoma failed to cover last season against Louisiana-Monroe as a 46-point favorite in a cupcake matchup in mid-September, and they're 4-1 SU/2-3 ATS over their past five season openers, too, including a straight-up loss to Houston last season. The Miners showed some improvement down the stretch, winning three of their final six games. But they have a long way to go before they're remotely close to Oklahoma in terms of talent. Still, they might give the Sooners a better game than the likes of Kansas.

Eastern Washington at Texas Tech (No national TV, 4:00 p.m. ET)

If you like offense, this could be the game for you. Eastern Washington might be an FCS team, but they're the national champs of that level from 2010, and they have been a giant killer -- or at least a giant scarer -- in recent seasons. They won at Washington State, 45-42, to open their season in 2016, and put up 42 against a good Oregon squad in a loss back in 2015. They also gave Washington a run for its money, 59-52, back in 2014, while knocking off No. 25 Oregon State to open the 2013 campaign in Corvallis. So don't expect the Eagles to be intimidated, or outscored by much. A win over Texas Tech could turn up the temperature on the hot seat of head coach Kliff Kingsbury to intense heat. Offense is never a problem in Lubbock, and QB Nic Shimonek is the next great, taking over for the departed Patrick Mahomes. But defense needs to improve quickly after allowing 43.5 points per game, or it's going to be another disappointing season.

West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech from Landover, MD (Sun. - ABC, 7:30 p.m.)
Unless you're alumni, or from the Appalachia region, this game doesn't have as much meaning. But, ahh, you'll watch because it's football, and, well, it's football. The Mountaineers of the Big 12 head to suburban D.C. looking to shine their star a bit. They haven't fared well against the number in big games in recent times, going 6-15 ATS in their past 21 against ACC foes, 1-4 ATS in their past five non-conference battles and 0-4 ATS in their past four on a neutral field. On the flip side, Virginia Tech is tabbed to contend for the Coastal Division in the ACC, and another 10-win season could easily be within reach. The 'over' has hit in four of the past five for West Virginia on a neutral field, whilegoing 5-1-1 in Virginia Tech's past seven in such situations. Therefore an offensive feast might be on tap. Virginia Tech has hit the over in 13 of their past 16 outside of the ACC, too.

Other Games
Liberty at Baylor (Kickoff time still TBD)
Southeast Missouri State at Kansas (No national TV, 7:00 p.m.)
Central Arkansas at Kansas State (No national TV, 7:10 p.m.)
Northern Iowa at Iowa State (No national TV, 8:00 p.m.)
Jackson State at Texas Christian (FOX, 8:00 p.m.)
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ACC Report - Week 1
August 22, 2017


2016 ACC STANDINGS

Team SU Conference ATS Over/Under


Boston College 7-6 2-6 6-6-1 5-8

Clemson 14-1 7-1 8-7 8-7

Duke 4-8 1-7 7-5 4-8

Florida State 10-3 5-3 8-4 6-6

Georgia Tech 9-4 4-4 7-4-1 6-5-1

Louisville 9-4 7-1 5-7-1 8-5

Miami (Fla.) 9-4 5-3 9-4 6-7

North Carolina 8-5 5-3 8-5 4-9

North Carolina State 7-6 4-5 9-4 5-7-1

Pittsburgh 8-5 5-3 5-8 11-2

Syracuse 4-8 2-6 5-7 3-9

Virginia 2-10 1-7 4-7-1 4-7-1

Virginia Tech 10-4 6-3 8-6 8-6

Wake Forest 7-6 3-5 8-5 6-7

Boston College at Northern Illinois (Fri. - CBS Sports Network, 9:30 p.m. ET)

The Eagles hit the road for DeKalb, Ill. to meet the Huskies of NIU, a team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 5-7 record. It was the first losing season for Northern Illinois, normally a powerhouse in the MAC, since 2007. They also had their streak of eight streak seasons in a bowl game snapped, so they'll be champing at the bit looking to fire out of the gate against a Power 5 representative. Boston College looks to pick up where they left off last season, as they rebounded nicely in 2016 with two wins down the stretch to go bowling, eventually beating former ACC member Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl. redshirt freshman Anthony Brown might be the answer at quarterback, as the Eagles look for excitement. Jon Hilliman and Davon Jones will tote the mail more often than not, with true freshman A.J. Dillon a potential star-in-the-making. B.C. already has one win under its belt, as they beat out Michigan for Dillon's services just before National Signing Day. DE Harold Landry, and his nation-leading 16 1/2 sacks, will be back to terrorize the NIU backfield.

Kent State at Clemson (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)

The defending national champion Tigers welcome Kent State to the upstate, and this could be ugly early out of the gates. Many have the Golden Flashes predicted to finish last in the MAC East, as head coach Paul Haynes' seat is getting awfully toasty. Clemson opened as 40-point favorites, bet down slightly. That number should fluctuate even more before the opening kick. The Tigers were 3-4 ATS last season as a 20-plus-point favorite last season, although they did cover a 53 1/2-point number against South Carolina State. However, their first home game (second overall) was a sluggish 30-24 win against Troy, so might be see another stumble out of the gate before

California at North Carolina (ACC Network, 12:20 p.m. ET)
The Tar Heels open as 12 1/2-point favorite against the visiting Bears. California hasn't had a lot of luck, failing to cover over their past four road games. However, Cal has had some luck in their past non-conference tilts, covering five of the past seven. The Golden Bears have to replace QB Davis Webb, and that will be their biggest question mark. Will either Ross Bowers or Chase Forrest be ready, especially after a cross-country flight, playing on the road in hostile territory in their first-ever start? New O.C. Beau Baldwin, formerly head coach of high-flying FCS program Eastern Washington, will make this offense fun, but it might take time. UNC also must replace QB Mitch Trubisky, a big hole, as well as stud TBs Elijah Hood, T.J. Logan, WRs Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer, as well as three offensive linemen. The defense will be fine with six starters back, but there are a ton of question marks on offense.


North Carolina State vs. South Carolina from Charlotte, NC (ESPN, 3:00 p.m.)

The Wolfpack and Gamecocks will do battle at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. BOA was a nice place to start in 2015, as the 'Cocks topped UNC 17-13 before their season unraveled. With a short jaunt up Interstate 77 from Columbia, you can expect a pro-South Carolina crowd despite the game being played behind enemy lines. South Carolina has covered four straight neutral-site games, while N.C. State is equally impressive with a 7-3-1 ATS mark over their past 11 such situations. And the Wolfpack has posted a glamorous 11-2 ATS mark over their past 13 non-conference tilts, although this is a step up from the Old Dominions, Presbyterians and South Alabamas of the world. Ryan Finley is back to lead the offense, and the dynamic Jaylen Samuels has the chance to be one of the best players in the league.

Louisville vs. Purdue from Indianapolis, IN (FOX, 7:30 p.m.)

The Cardinals return Heisman Trophy QB Lamar Jackson, and that already makes them a team to watch. However, they'll have their hands full trying to supplant Clemson, and perhaps even Florida State, at the top of the ACC, although the Cards certainly handled the 'Noles easily last season. The Cardinals ripped off 42.5 points per game (PPG) last season, but they'll be missing key cogs with RB Brandon Radcliff, WRs James Quick and Jamari Staples, as well as TE Cole Hikutini, all having moved on. Jaylen Smith could be the player ready to step up and be the next offensive star, and a quick start against a Purdue squad picked to finish at or near the bottom of the West Division in the Big Ten. Louisville opened as 24 1/2-point favorites and that number has been on the rise. Purdue doesn't really seem to have the guns to get into a track meet at Lucas Oil Stadium with what should be a much speedier Cardinals offense, even with some new parts.

Florida State vs. Alabama from Atlanta, GA (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)

The Crimson Tide and Seminoles will be the gem of the opening weekend, doing battle in the brand spanking news Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Tide are favored by a touchdown to roll on the Seminoles, who are looking to bounce back from a subpar season by their standards, if you can call 10 wins subpar. FSU finished strong, winning five straight and covering four in a row, but they were a dismal 5-3 SU through eight games with a blowout loss in Louisville (63-20), as well as setbacks on their home turf to Clemson and UNC. The 'Noles would like a signature win against a high-profile Tide team, boosting their stock immediately. However, FSU will need to find a workhorse to replace Dalvin Cook, and that will not be easy. QB Jalen Hurts is back for the Tide, and he should be even better after a big season, although he occasionally would look like a freshman, too. The mistakes should be even fewer, and that's not good for the rest of the nation. The 'over' might be the way to go, as it is 20-6-1 in Alabama's past 27 neutral-site games and 4-0-1 in their past five vs. ACC foes. The over has hit in six straight neutral-site battles for FSU, while going4-1 in their past five non-conference affairs.

West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech from Landover, MD (Sun. - ABC, 7:30 p.m.)

Unless you're alumni, or from the Appalachia region, this game doesn't have as much meaning. But, ahh, you'll watch because it's football, and, well, it's football. The Mountaineers of the Big 12 head to suburban D.C. looking to shine their star a bit. They haven't fared well against the number in big games in recent times, going 6-15 ATS in their past 21 against ACC foes, 1-4 ATS in their past five non-conference battles and 0-4 ATS in their past four on a neutral field. On the flip side, Virginia Tech is tabbed to contend for the Coastal Division in the ACC, and another 10-win season could easily be within reach. The 'over' has hit in four of the past five for West Virginia on a neutral field, whilegoing 5-1-1 in Virginia Tech's past seven in such situations. Therefore an offensive feast might be on tap. Virginia Tech has hit the over in 13 of their past 16 outside of the ACC, too.

Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech from Atlanta, GA (Mon. - ESPN, 8:00 p.m.)

The Volunteers will head down Interstate 75 and into enemy territory to face the Yellow Jackets. While technically not a home game, the game is in Atlanta and will be a pro-Ramblin' Wreck crowd, although plenty of burnt orange will be on hand, too. The Vols are favored, even so slightly, in a game with a line bouncing between 3 1/2 and 6. The Vols have been great in their recent neutral-site contests, going a perfect 6-0 ATS in the past six tries. Ga. Tech has been very good, too, going 3-0-1 ATS in their past four on a neutral field, while hitting a perfect 4-for-4 in their past four outside of the conference. Tennessee will be christening a new quarterback, and Quinten Dormady and Jarrett Guarantano should both see some snaps. They will find a rather inexperienced, yet potential explosive wideout corps facing down against a decent Yellow Jackets secondary. With inexperience on the offensive side of the ball, and a strong Georgia Tech run game and questionable QB play on their end, too, a low-scoring game might be in the offing.

Other Games
Presbyterian at Wake Forest (Thu. - 6:30 p.m., ACC Network)
Central Conn. at Syracuse (Fri. - 7:00 p.m., ACC Network)
Bethune-Cook. at Miami, FL (ACC Network, 12:30 p.m.)
Youngstown St. at Pittsburgh (ACC Network, 1:00 p.m.)
William & Mary at Virginia (ACC Network, 3:30 p.m.)
North Carolina Central at Duke (ACC Network, 6:00 p.m.)
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Old 08-23-2017, 02:06 AM
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GOY Best Bets Update
August 16, 2017


We’ve hit on Games of the Year throughout the summer, whether it was ones released at the South Point, The Golden Nugget or the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas or various other offshore shops. One of those books, 5dimes.eu, has recently released additional GOY that I haven’t seen posted at any other books.

Let’s hit on a bunch of those, including a pair of Friday night games in Week 2. South Alabama will host a Power Five team for only the third time in school history when Oklahoma State comes to Mobile on Sept. 8. 5dimes has installed the Cowboys as 27-point road favorites.

USA lost at home to N.C. State by a 63-13 count two years ago and dropped a 35-3 decision to Dak Prescott and Mississippi State in 2014. However, the Jaguars won outright at Mississippi State in last year’s opener and also blew out then-unbeaten and 19th-ranked San Diego State 42-24 as 19-point home underdogs in ’16.

OSU will bring an explosive passing game to Ladd-Peebles Stadium featuring QB Mason Rudolph and WRs James Washington and Jalen McCleskey. This trio won’t have to face South Alabama’s premier cover corner Jalen Thompson, who has been ruled academically ineligible for the 2017 campaign. Thompson finished ’16 with 31 tackles, a team-high four interceptions, six passes broken up, one-half sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

The other game that night is Ohio at Purdue. The Boilermakers are one-point home ‘chalk’ at 5dimes. They’ll open the Jeff Brohm Era the previous week in Indianapolis where his alma mater (Louisville) will serve as Purdue’s opponent. Ohio opens at home against Hampton.

Frank Solich’s team finished 8-6 straight up and 7-7 against the spread last season. Ohio returns seven starters on offense and six on defense. The Bobcats have covered in their last three games on the road against Power Five schools. They took the cash in a 2015 loss at Minnesota (27-24) as 10-point underdogs, and then won outright at Kansas (37-21) last year and covered easily in a 28-19 loss at Tennessee. Solich’s club is 5-1 ATS in six games as a road ‘dog over the last two seasons.

Other Week 2 numbers include Northwestern -2 at Duke, Louisville -6 at North Carolina, Michigan -28 vs. Cincinnati, Boston College pick ‘em vs. Wake Forest, Alabama -42.5 vs. Fresno State, Virginia pick ‘em vs. Indiana, Missouri -1 vs. South Carolina, FSU -41.5 vs. ULM and Mississippi State -4.5 at La. Tech.

When Mississippi State last visited Ruston in the final season of Sylvester Croom’s tenure (’08), it lost outright by a 22-14 score. Northwestern won 19-10 at Duke two seasons ago and prevailed 24-13 in Evanston last year. We should note that Alabama has limped to a 3-13 spread record in its last 16 spots as a favorite of 35 points or more.

Since UCLA’s Week 3
game at Memphis was slotted for a noon Eastern kick several weeks ago, I’ve been talking on radio shows and my Games Galore podcast about how advantageous this game is for the Tigers from a situational standpoint. Obviously, flying East for the Bruins won’t be easy and the early kick will have their body clocks all messed up. In addition, the heat at the Liberty Bowl in mid-September during an early-afternoon game will be brutal compared to the more moderate temperatures UCLA players are accustomed to in Southern California.

I’ve been saying I like Memphis to win this game for weeks and will like the ‘over’ if the total is 75 points or fewer. 5Dimes has the Bruins favored by 2.5 points, so sign me up for the Tigers, who will have a dynamic offense led by QB Riley Ferguson and WR Anthony Miller.

One week after venturing to Mobile, Oklahoma State is on the road again to take on Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. 5Dimes has the Cowboys favored by six points. We should note that the star of Pitt’s defense, junior safety Jordan Whitehead, won’t be in uniform due to a three-game suspension that will end after this game. Remember, the Pokies won a 45-38 decision over the Panthers in Stillwater last September.

Whitehead, who Phil Steele has listed as the third-best strong safety that’s draft eligible for the NFL in 2018, recorded 65 tackles and one interception in nine games last season. Also, Pitt has dismissed senior starting DE Rori Blair from the program. Blair had 22 tackles, 3.5 sacks and five QB hurries in ’16. Therefore, Oklahoma State’s Rudolph will have some good fortune in these back-to-back road contests due to the absences of USA’s Thompson and Pitt’s Whitehead in the secondary. (And hey, we liked OSU to go ‘over’ 9 wins, win the Big 12 and get to the College Football Playoff before learning about Thompson, Whitehead and Blair.)

Other Week 3 lines are Notre Dame -7 at Boston College, South Carolina -2.5 vs. Kentucky, Missouri -11.5 vs. Purdue, Baylor -3 at Duke, Virginia Tech -21.5 at East Carolina, Washington State -11 vs. Oregon State, Alabama -28.5 vs. Colorado State, Kansas State -6 at Vanderbilt, Ohio State -30 vs. Army, Ole Miss -3.5 at California, Georgia Tech -6.5 at UCF and Texas Tech -2.5 vs. Arizona State.

If there’s one game that stands out to me among those in the above paragraph, I’m all about South Carolina -2.5 vs. UK at Williams-Brice Stadium. I’ll also mention that I would lean to Vandy as a home ‘dog vs. K-State. The Commodores are 7-1 ATS in their last eight such spots.

On a Friday game (9/22) in Week 4, Virginia is listed as a nine-point ‘dog at 5Dimes for its trip to the smurf turf to take on Boise State. UVA not only has to fly West, but it must do so on a short week. This obviously gives BSU a major advantage.

(Quick Note: These “new” games have double juice both ways (-120 to bet either side). On the flip side, the games that have had numbers on them (like Texas A&M vs Arkansas in Week 4 at Jerry World) have -110 odds either way.)

Other Week 4 lines include Clemson -25.5 vs. BC, UNC -8 vs. Duke, West Virginia -13 at Kansas, Ohio State -36 vs. UNLV, Maryland -4.5 vs. UCF, Miami -15 vs. Toledo, FSU -19.5 vs. N.C. State, Georgia Tech -2 vs. Pitt, Oregon -3 at Arizona State, Florida -5.5 at Kentucky, Alabama -23 at Vandy, Washington -9 at Colorado, South Carolina -11 vs. La. Tech, LSU -20.5 vs. Syracuse, Georgia -10.5 vs. Mississippi State, Auburn -13 at Missouri, Michigan -22 at Purdue and Appalachian State -3 vs. Wake Forest.

Keep an eye on Toledo in its trip to South Fla. If the Rockets have their druthers, they certainly want this game to be played at night to alleviate some of the intense heat in Miami. Toledo catches the Hurricanes one week after they play a rivalry game at FSU and before they go on the road to play Duke in a nationally-televised Friday night game. The Rockets have Logan Woodside, who completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 4,129 passing yards with a 45/9 touchdown-to-interception ratio last year. Since 2011, Toledo is 14-5 ATS as a road ‘dog.

Florida has won 30 in a row over Kentucky, which is college football’s longest current winning streak in a head-to-head rivalry. Colorado will be looking to avenge the 41-10 beatdown it took from Washington in last year’s Pac-12 Championship Game. If I had to throw out a few leans in these Week 4 tilts, I’d look at Missouri as a double-digit home ‘dog to vs. AU and N.C. State (my ACC sleeper) catching the big number in Tallahassee. I want to add Appalachian State as well, but I want to see how it fares in its opener between the hedges before showing too much confidence in the Mountaineers (although they’re my pick to win the Sun Belt ahead of Troy).

Moving on to Week 5, Texas is a nine-point ‘chalk’ at Iowa State on Thursday night. There are four games on Friday, including three “new lines:” Miami -11 at Duke, BYU -10.5 at Utah State and Nebraska -10.5 at Illinois. The fourth Friday game is Washington State +10 vs. Southern Cal, and I like the Cougars. They’ll be playing their fifth consecutive home game in Pullman, while the Trojans will be on a short week and on the road again after facing Cal in Berkeley the previous Saturday.

Other Week 5 lines are N.C. State -10 vs. the ‘Cuse, FSU -19.5 at Wake Forest, Oklahoma State -10 at Texas Tech, PSU -21 vs. IU, Michigan State pick ‘em vs. Iowa, Minnesota -10.5 vs. Maryland, Wisconsin -13.5 vs. Northwestern, Washington -14 at Oregon State, Auburn -14 vs. Mississippi State, Alabama -25 vs. Ole Miss, Texas A&M -6.5 vs. South Carolina, LSU -23 vs. Troy, Florida -14 vs. Vandy and Notre Dame -19.5 vs. Miami (OH.).

I like Miami (OH.) catching the big number in South Bend. The RedHawks started ’16 by losing their first six games (three one-possession L’s) mainly because QB Gus Ragland wasn’t fully healthy yet. Ragland returned to the starting lineup and promptly led his team on a six-game winning streak to earn a postseason bid.

In the St. Petersburg Bowl, Miami (OH.) had a potential game-winning field goal blocked on the final play of a 17-16 loss to Mississippi State. Nevertheless, Ragland finished the year with 17 TD passes compared to only one interception. He has a 20/1 career TD-INT ratio and gets back both of his top WRs and the three leading rushers. The RedHawks return nine starters on offense and eight on defense. They also have their five leading tacklers back. Don’t be shocked if Ragland has Miami (OH.) in this game against the Fighting Irish for four quarters.

Another team to keep an eye on in a non-conference clash is Troy for its trip to Baton Rouge. LSU will have a huge revenge game on deck at Florida, meaning it will fall into a vintage look-ahead scenario. The Trojans finished last season 10-3, losing by only six on the road in the other Death Valley against the eventual national champs (Clemson obviously).

Neal Brown's Troy team returns eight starters on offense and six on defense. QB Brandon Silvers has a 54/22 career TD-INT ratio and was the first-team All Sun Belt QB in '16. Silvers has all of his skill players of note returning, including RB Jordan Chunn (1,288 rushing yards & 16 TDs), WR Emanuel Thompson (80 catches, 820 yards & 6 TDs) and WR Deondre Douglas (60/740 & 6 TDs).

Furthermore, Troy has covered the number in five consecutive games as a double-digit underdog. The Trojans are 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 as double-digit 'dogs, and they're 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 outings as road puppies.

In Week 6, we have new numbers for these contests: Notre Dame -2 at UNC, Clemson -21.5 vs. Wake Forest, Duke -1 at UVA, Texas Tech -7 at KU, Washington -23 vs. Cal, Oregon -2.5 vs. Washington State, Stanford -4 at Utah, South Carolina -1.5 vs. Arkansas, UGA -7.5 at Vandy, UK -5.5 vs. Missouri, Auburn -14 vs. Ole Miss, PSU -7 at Northwestern and Ohio State -28.5 vs. Maryland.

None of those Week 6 games are screaming at me, but I'll mention slight leans to Missouri +5.5 and Auburn -14.

5Dimes has Miami as a 7.5-point home favorite vs. Georgia Tech in a Thursday game during Week 7. On Friday, Clemson is favored by 17 points for its game at the Carrier Dome against the ‘Cuse. Other Week 7 lines include FSU -18.5 at Duke, U of L -17.5 vs. BC, UNC -13 vs. UVA, Pitt -3 vs. N.C. State, Iowa State -12 vs. KU, Oklahoma State -8.5 vs. Baylor, WVU -7 vs. Texas Tech, Minnesota -4 vs. Sparty, UCLA -4.5 at Arizona, Colorado -1.5 at Oregon State, Washington -14 at Arizona State, Mississippi State -3 vs. BYU, UGA -14.5 vs. Missouri, Tennessee -10.5 vs. South Carolina, Ole Miss -6 vs. Vandy and Michigan -13.5 at IU.

I have several matchups I like in Week 7 such as South Carolina +10.5, West Virginia -7, Oklahoma State -8.5 and Mississippi State -3.

New Week 8 spreads include a pivotal AAC game that falls on a Thursday in Houston, where the Cougars are favored by four vs. Memphis. Other lines for Oct. 21 are Pitt -3 at Duke, Georgia Tech -7 vs. Wake Forest, Miami -17 vs. Syracuse, UVA -2 vs. BC, Virginia Tech -7.5 vs. UNC, Texas Tech -4.5 vs. Iowa State, TCU -20 vs. KU, Northwestern -3 vs. Iowa, Cal -3 vs. Arizona, Utah -6.5 vs. ASU, Mississippi State -3 vs. UK, LSU -10 at Ole Miss and Sparty -4 vs. IU.

My Week 8 likes are Mississippi State -3, Houston -4 and Northwestern -3.

On Thursday in Week 9, 5Dimes has Stanford installed as a 9.5-point favorite for its Thursday trip to Corvallis to face Oregon State Then on Friday, FSU will probably have a cold-weather game at BC as a 22-point road ‘chalk.’

The spreads on Oct. 28 look like this: Miami -5 at UNC, Pitt -12 vs. UVA, Virginia Tech -14 vs. Duke, U of L -8 at Wake Forest, TCU -6.5 at Iowa State, K-State -17 at KU, Oklahoma -23 vs. Texas Tech, Iowa -4.5 vs. Minnesota, Nebraska -11.5 at Purdue, Washington State -6 at Arizona, USC -15 at ASU, Colorado -10.5 vs. Cal, Ole Miss -3 vs. Arkansas, Texas A&M -6.5 vs. Mississippi State, Tennessee -3 at Kentucky, South Carolina -4 vs. Vandy, Northwestern -7.5 vs. Sparty and Notre Dame -4.5 vs. N.C. State.

The Week 9 leans for me are Arkansas +3 and Florida +2 vs. Georgia.

In Week 10, we have new lines for games like FSU -25.5 vs. Syracuse, Georgia Tech -6.5 at UVA, K-State -6 at Texas Tech, Baylor -12 at KU, WVU -15.5 vs. Iowa State, Maryland -3 at Rutgers (Yankee Stadium), Michigan -14.5 vs. Minnesota, Nebraska -3 vs. Northwestern, Wisconsin -15.5 at IU, Cal pick ‘em vs. Oregon State, ASU -1 vs. CU, Auburn -7 at Texas A&M, Florida -9.5 at Missouri, Mississippi State -22.5 vs. UMass, UK -2 vs. Ole Miss and Tennessee -21 vs. Southern Miss.

I’ll be on Mark Stoops’s Kentucky squad if its laying three or fewer against the Rebels. The line on my Gators at 9.5 looks a tad rich for their trip to Missouri. I say that because I think QB Drew Lock and WR J’Mon Moore are poised for huge seasons. Also, UF be facing the Tigers one week after a crucial game vs. UGA, leaving the Gators in potential letdown mode.

As for Weeks 11, 12 and 13
, 5Dimes has a lot of new games listed on its board, but the offshore shop hasn’t lined those games as of yet.
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Old 08-23-2017, 02:10 AM
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Saturday's Early Tips
August 22, 2017

Finally, the 2017 college football season has arrived! The year gets started Saturday with five lined games, so let’s take a look at a pair of those contests now.

**Oregon State at Colorado State**

-- Gary Andersen is entering his third season of a rebuild job in Corvallis after he left Wisconsin to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State. The Beavers went 2-10 straight up and 3-9 against the spread in his first year, improving to 4-8 SU and 8-4 versus the number last season. They finished 2016 on a tear for our purposes, compiling a 7-1 spread record in their last eight games, winning outright in their last two outings at home vs. Arizona (42-17) and Oregon (34-24).

-- Andersen named juco transfer Jake Luton his starting quarterback in mid-August, prompting Marcus McMaryion to leave the program for Fresno State as a grad transfer. McMaryion started the last six games for the Beavers in 2016. For the season, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 1,286 yards with a 10/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

-- Oregon State returns seven starters on offense and eight on defense. OSU is loaded in the backfield with running back Ryan Nall returning. Nall rushed for 951 yards and 13 TDs while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. RB Artavis Pierce had a solid true freshman season in ’16, rushing for 523 yards and four TDs with a 5.3 YPC average. Andersen landed a pair of grad transfers for depth, including Trevorris Johnson from TCU and Oregon’s Thomas Tyner, who is a former 5-star recruit but hasn’t played since 2014 due to injuries. Nall also had 22 catches for 214 yards and two TDs last year, while Pierce had 21 receptions for 132 yards and one TD.

-- Oregon State junior WR Seth Collins is ‘out’ against the Rams due to a finger injury that could keep him sidelined into September. Collins, who started seven games at QB in 2015 before logging nine starts at WR last season, had 36 receptions for 418 yards and one TD in 2016.

-- As of Aug. 18, most betting shops had Colorado State installed as a 3.5-point favorite. One offshore book opened the total at 62 on Aug. 13, but it moved down to 61 a day later and remained there on Aug. 18. By Tuesday of this week (8/22), the total was at 58.5 or 59 at most spots, while the Rams remained 3.5-point home ‘chalk’ (with a couple of shops at four). Gamblers can take the Beavers on the money line for a +155 return (risk $100 to win $155).

-- Oregon State owns a 5-6 spread record as a road underdog during Anderson’s brief tenure. The Beavers are winless in those 11 road assignments, but we’ll point out that they did take the cash in last year’s season-opening loss at Minnesota by a 30-23 count as 13-point ‘dogs.

-- Colorado State has finished 7-6 in both of its first two seasons under Mike Bobo, the former QB and long-time offensive coordinator at Georgia before getting his first head-coaching gig at CSU. The Rams were an impressive 9-4 ATS last year, going 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS at home. They have compiled a 5-2 spread record in seven games as home favorites on Bobo’s watch.

-- CSU brings back six starters on offense and eight on defense. Bobo’s team returns its top four rushers, two excellent QBs and three of its top four WRs. Nick Stevens completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards with a 19/5 TD-INT ratio in ’16. He also ran for a pair of scores. Stevens has a 41/17 career TD-INT ratio in 21 career starts, but he was intercepted only three times in his last seven starts of last season. He was a second-team All-MWC selection in ’15.

-- As a true freshman in ’16, CSU’s Collin Hill was named the starting QB in Week 3. He would go 2-2 in four starts before going down with a season-ending injury in a 31-24 home win over Utah State Before the injury, Hill connected on 58.1 percent of his throws for 1,096 yards with an 8/2 TD-INT ratio. Stevens has been named the starter, but Hill is healthy and ready to go.

-- Stevens has one of the best wideouts in the Mountain West Conference in senior Michael Gallup, who earned first-team All-MWC honors after catching 76 balls for 1,272 yards and 14 TDs in ’16. Olabisi Johnson had 28 receptions for 613 yards and four TDs last season, averaging 21.9 yards per catch.

-- Colorado State’s offensive line is anchored by center Jake Bennett, a second-team All-MWC selection last year who has 29 career starts to his credit. The only other o-line starter that’s back is senior OT Zack Golditch, who has made 25 career starts. This unit will look to pave holes for Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews, Marvin Kinsey and Detrich Clark, who combined to rush for nearly 2,300 yards and 27 rushing TDs last year.

-- Kinsey rushed for a team-best 919 yards and four TDs with a 5.7 YPC average last season. Matthews rushed for 734 yards and a team-high 13 TDs while averaging 4.8 YPC. Kinsey, who is listed as ‘questionable’ vs. OSU with a knee injury, rushed for 546 yards and seven TDs with a 5.9 YPC average. Clark has moved to WR after rushing for 247 yards and three TDs on 36 attempts (6.9 YPC).

-- CSU junior DB Braylin Scott is out indefinitely due to legal issues. Scott recorded 39 tackles and three interceptions last year. Senior LB Deonte Clyburn, a likely starter if he can get back to 100-percent health remained out indefinitely due to blood clots. Clyburn redshirted last season for a similar issue, but he registered 74 tackles and seven tackles for loss in ’15.

-- These schools have met twice before, splitting a pair of meetings, but they haven’t faced each other since 1975. This is OSU’s first trip to Ft. Collins and it is only the fourth time a Power Five opponent has come here since 2004. Andersen went 1-1 against the Rams when he was the head coach at Utah State prior to leaving for Wisconsin.

-- Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports College Network.

**Hawaii at Massachusetts**


-- As of Aug. 18, this game was a pick ‘em at many spots, while others had either team favored by one point. One offshore shop opened the total at 64, but it went up to 64.5 the next day and that’s where it remained as of Aug. 18. By Tuesday of this week (8/22), most books had UMass favored by 1.5 or two with the total down to 62.5 points.

-- Hawaii went 7-7 SU and 5-8-1 ATS last season, going to its first bowl game since 2010 in its first year under head coach Nick Rolovich. The Warriors thumped Middle Tennessee by a 52-35 count as seven-point home underdog in the Hawaii Bowl. However, we should note that the Blue Raiders were without their star QB Brent Stockstill.

-- During Norm Chow’s dismal tenure at Hawaii from 2012-2015, the Warriors lost 23 of 24 road games. However, they went 3-3 on the road last year under Rolovich, winning outright at San Jose State, at Air Force (in double overtime as 16.5-point ‘dogs) and at Fresno State

-- Hawaii returns eight starters on offense and six on defense. The offense is led by sophomore QB Dru Brown, who took over as the starter after the Warriors lost three of their first four games last season. Brown completed 62.4 percent of his throws for 2,488 yards with a 19/7 TD-INT ratio. He loses his favorite target Marcus Kemp, but the team has plenty of depth and experience at the WR position. As a redshirt freshman in ’16, John Ursua hauled in 53 receptions for 652 yards and three TDs. Dylan Collie added 33 catches for 322 yards and four TDs.

-- Hawaii RB Diocemy Saint Juste rushed for a team-high 1,006 yards and three TDs last year, averaging 6.1 YPC in the process. He also had eight catches for 56 yards and one TD.

-- Hawaii’s defense is led by All-American candidate Jahlani Tavai, a junior LB who garnered first-team All-MWC honors after tallying 129 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four QB hurries, two forced fumbles, two passes broken up, one fumble recovery and one interception in ’16. Senior safety Trayvon Henderson is another standout, recording 90 tackles, 8.5 TFL’s, two sacks, seven PBU, one QB hurry, one blocked kick and three interceptions, including one pick-six. This unit gave up 37.3 points per game in ’16 and has a new coordinator in Legi Suiaunoa, who has been a d-line coach at Montana (’11-’15) and Hawaii since 2011.

-- UMass finished ’16 with a 2-10 SU record and a 7-5 ATS mark. Although the Minutemen are an abysmal 8-28 SU since HC Mark Whipple took over for his second stint here in ’14, they have been decent for our purposes with a 19-17 ATS record.

-- UMass lost three one-possession games last season and picked up its wins at home vs. FIU (21-13) and vs. Wagner (34-10). The Minutemen faced three SEC opponents, going 3-0 ATS in losses at Florida (24-7), vs. Mississippi State (47-35) and at South Carolina (34-28). They bring back six starters on offense and nine on defense.

-- Junior QB Andrew Ford started nine of 12 games last year, throwing for 2,665 yards with a 26/14 TD-INT ratio. He also ran for a pair of scores. Ford has one of the nation’s best tight ends, former five-star recruit Adam Breneman who signed with Penn State out of high school and was prep teammates with Ford. In his first season with UMass, Breneman made 70 catches for 808 yards and eight TDs. Junior WR Andy Isabella is off an excellent sophomore year when he brought down 62 balls for 801 yards and seven TDs. UMass also returns leading rusher Marquis Young, who had 898 rushing yards and four TDs with a 4.6 YPC average in ’16.

-- When these teams met in the regular-season finale last season at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii captured a 46-40 win but the Minutemen took the money as a 7.5-point road underdog. The 86 combined points soared ‘over’ the 57-point total. Trailing 40-26 with less than seven minutes remaining, UMass scored a pair of TDs in less than 90 seconds to pull even. However, Brown would find Kellan Ewaliko on a 56-yard scoring strike with 3:52 left to provide the winning points. For bettors who might’ve bought the hook to seven from 7.5 with a Hawaii wager, they were left furious (& push-less) when the extra-point kick was missed.

-- This is a non-televised game that will kick at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- BYU will square off with FCS opponent Portland State in Provo on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. This game did not have a spread as of Tuesday, but some books will probably throw up a number by later Friday afternoon. Most games between FBS and FCS teams eventually get a line, but the books usually don’t release it until late Friday or early Saturday.

-- Georgia Tech took a big loss late last week when sophomore RB Dedrick Mills was kicked off the team for undisclosed reasons. Mills led the Yellow Jackets in rushing as a true freshman, gaining 771 yards and scoring 12 TDs with a 5.1 YPC average. They open at the new Mercedes Dome in Atlanta against Tennessee in Week 1.

-- Mark Richt named junior Malik Rosier as Miami’s starting QB on Aug. 22. Rosier threw for 272 yards in his only career start in ’15 when the Hurricanes won at Duke on the wild and controversial finish with laterals galore on the kick return as time expired.

-- Kentucky senior WR Dorian Baker is out for an indefinite period of time with an ankle injury, and there’s speculation he could done for the entire season. Baker has started 23 career games, producing 88 receptions for 1,015 yards and six TDs. He had a team-best 55 catches in ’15.

-- Rutgers has named ex-Louisville QB Kyle Bolin as its starter for the opener vs. Washington.

-- Florida landed a transfer on Monday when Texas offensive lineman Jean Delance decided to become a Gator. Delance was a four-star recruit for the Longhorns in the ’16 class. He’ll sit out this year per transfer rules and then have three years of eligibility for UF.
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College football notebook: Darnold, Barkley head preseason All-American list
August 22, 2017

USC quarterback Sam Darnold and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley highlight the first preseason All-America team in the history of The Associated Press.

The two gave college football fans a thrill at the Rose Bowl last season, with Darnold passing for 453 yards and five touchdowns in the Trojans' 52-49 victory over the Nittany Lions. Barkley rushed for 194 and had three scores in the contest.

Darnold was voted to the first team by a panel of 51 voters. He slipped past Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville, who is the second-team quarterback on the teams released Tuesday.

LSU's Derrius Guice joins Darnold and Barkley in the backfield on the first team. Washington State guard Cody O'Connell and Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky were selected to the first team after being All-Americans last year.

The first-team defense is led by two players who were postseason All-Americans in 2016 in Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. Florida State's secondary was well represented with cornerback Tarvarus McFadden and safety Derwin James, who missed most of last year with a knee injury.

--Miami
, needing to replace departed junior Brad Kaaya, will go with redshirt junior Malik Rosier as the starting quarterback when the Hurricanes face Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2, the school announced.

Rosier, who has one career start in a 2015 win over Duke, beat out redshirt sophomore Evan Shirreffs and two true freshmen. Rosier has 370 career passing yards.

--North Carolina State dismissed two football players and suspended three others after an investigation into an on-campus party last month.

Freshmen Antoine Thompson and Kevince Brown were booted off the squad, while freshmen Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas were suspended for violation of football rules in addition to the school's student-athlete code of conduct.

The investigation began after a sexual assault charge was reported on July 22, one day following the party. The school said Tuesday's penalties were related to alcohol and marijuana being present at the party and were not associated with the sexual assault.

Three different sexual assaults were reported in the days following the party.
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NC State dismisses 2 players, suspends 3
August 22, 2017


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren has dismissed two players from the team and suspended three others for violating athletics department and team rules pertaining to marijuana and alcohol.

The team announced the dismissals and suspensions Tuesday. The school issued a separate release saying the violations were discovered amid an ongoing investigation by university police into allegations of sexual assault during a campus party last month.

Athletic director Debbie Yow said the disciplinary actions taken against the five players were ''not regarding allegations of sexual assault.''

Freshmen Kevince Brown and Antoine Thompson were dismissed from the team, and Yow says they were no longer enrolled in school.

Three other freshmen - Erin Collins, Xavier Lyas and Isaiah Moore - were suspended, and Yow said they also faced ''other discipline.''

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, university police chief Jack Moorman declined to talk about specifics in the ongoing criminal investigation. He did say the party took place at the residence of a football player, though he didn't specify which football player.

Moorman said ''under a dozen'' people attended what the school's release described as a ''gathering'' on July 21.

''There were five football players, there were our three sexual-assault complainants and then there were some other people who came in and out throughout the course of the day,'' Moorman said. ''But at this point, we have no evidence that any of the other individuals were involved in the drug and alcohol component.''

The school said the police investigation is ''nearly concluded'' and that university police have provided evidence to the Wake County district attorney's office. It also states the school is conducting a Title IX investigation into whether anyone violated the code of student conduct.

In a statement, Doeren said the five players were disciplined for ''poor decisions that don't align with the values of our program.''

''Although I've disciplined these players for violations of the Student Athlete Code of Conduct, I want to make it clear that I respect due process in the university and legal proceedings,'' Doeren said. ''Our players understand that I'm going be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline.''
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Thursday’s six-pack

— In last 30 years, Nevada sportsbooks haven’t had a losing September in college football.

— New England Patriots are favored in every game from Week 1-Week 16; spreads for Week 17 games are not posted in the summer.

— Nick Saban is 31-2 in SEC games against the current 13 coaches at other SEC schools.

— A’s traded Rajai Davis to Boston, for an 18-year old OF prospect who is playing in the Dominican Summer League.

— Raiders’ LT Donald Penn ended his holdout. practiced on Wednesday.

— Mitchell Robinson, a 5-star prospect and top-10 recruit this past spring, is not expected to play college basketball after he left Western Kentucky in July. Good luck there; hopefully the kid goes overseas for a year and at least plays SOMEWHERE.

***************************

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) Long time ago, the Dallas Cowboys had a very fast WR named Bob Hayes; this is in the 60’s, when the Cowboys first got really good. Bullet Bob Hayes was a sprinter— Dallas picked him in the 7th round of the 1964 Draft, with the 88th pick. Great pick— Hayes caught 371 passes in the NFL— 71 of them were touchdowns.

Detroit had the 89th pick that year; they took a lineman from Wichita State that you may have heard of, even though he didn’t play in the NFL.

Guy named Bill Parcells, whose 76th birthday was this week.

12) Baseball is terrific because odd things can happen at any time; LA’s Rich Hill had a perfect game thru 8 innings last night in Pittsburgh, but his 3B made an error in the 9th inning- the game remained scoreless thru nine innings. Hill stayed in the game, even though his blister issues usually mean he comes out before he gets to 100 pitches.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Josh Harrison got the Pirates’ first hit, a walk-off homer that ended a great pitching duel. He hit Hill’s 99th pitch over the fence, ending a great game.

11) Doug Fister allowed a leadoff homer Tuesday night, then didn’t allow another hit in a 9-1 Red Sox win in Cleveland. It was Fister’s first complete game since 2014.

10) According to ESPN.com, underdogs covered 52.5% of college football games last year, the best year for underdogs in the last 12.

9) Anthony Rizzo played some 3B Tuesday night, the first lefty to do so in a major league game in 20 years.

8) Atlanta Falcons will leave a day earlier than usual on their five non-divisional road trips this season; they feel it helps with team bonding.

7) Louisville QB Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy LY; he tried hard to gain weight in the offseason, and is seven pounds heavier than last year, 30 pounds heavier than when he was a freshman.

6) Good news for NBA’s TV partners, with Cavaliers-Celtics playing on Opening Night. Kyrie Irving t-shirts were 75% off at the Cavaliers’ team store Wednesday.

5) Indians put Salazar/Miller on the DL Tuesday; they put Jason Kipnis on the DL yesterday. If you’re involved in fantasy baseball, you realize this: baseball players get hurt a lot.

Red Sox put Jackie Bradley Jr (thumb) on the DL.

4) Scott Blumstein won the World Series of Poker this summer; before the event, four of his friends gave him $60 each towards the $10,000 entry fee— those four friends will each come away with $40,750 before taxes, after Blumstein won the $8.15M first prize.

3) Since 1994, the Philadelphia Eagles have had 119 pass plays of 50+ yards, most in the NFL, two more than the Packers, three more than New Orleans.

Defensively, Atlanta has allowed 127 pass plays of 50+ yards, 20 more than any other team.

2) Since 2012, Temple (39-24) is the best team in the country against the spread, but Matt Rhule is the coach at Baylor now— we’ll see if Temple can keep up with their successful ways.

Over the last five years, UConn (18-40) is the worst team in America against the spread.

1) On August 15, a guy in Las Vegas bet $500 on BYU to win the national title, at 300-1, which would net him $150,000 if the Cougars won the national championship. There was another $200 bet on BYU back in June, at 500-1. Someone like BYU this season.
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