Wrapping up the opening weekend ACC action

Leave a comment

No. 20 Florida State 59 Samford 6

Tallahassee Heisman hopeful Christian Ponder did not help his stock to start Saturdayafternoons match with Samford. The Seminoles’ first appearance in the red zone ended with a sixyard interception.

Once reality hit, though, Ponder bounced back. He threw four first half touchdowns–three in thesecond quarter–as the ‘Noles went into half time with a 42-3 lead.

Backup quarterback sophomore EJ Manuel came in for relief of Ponder so as topreserve his health after the break.

The second half featured another field goal from Samford kicker Cameron Yaw and apair of rushing touchdowns from FSU.

• No. 16 Georgia Tech 41 South Carolina State 10

The Yellowjackets under head coach Paul Johnson haven’t made any significantchanges. The Georgia Tech defense played well against SC State, holding the offense to zeropoints despite failing to grab a turnover.

The offense was its usual self, as well. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt characteristicallypassed for eight yards through the first half, and the run game accounted for the other 175 yards.

The Yellowjackets headed into half-time with a 20-3 lead, and never looked back. Nesbitt scoredanother rushing touchdown, and Georgia Tech finished with six total rushing touchdowns, fourmore scores than they had pass completions…for the day.

The Bulldogs’ Malcolm Long added a one-yard rushing touchdown for SC State’s lonetouchdown of the afternoon.

Boston College 38 Weber State 20

Last season, Boston College 26-year-old sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie had arollercoaster of a season. He played well against Wake Forest, Florida State and NC State. Hehad bad games against Notre Dame, Virginia and North Carolina.

Then there was the Virginia Tech game. Shinskie’s passer rating was -22.20. The Hokies caughtmore of Shinskie’s passes than did the Eagles.

In order for BC to turn things around this season, they would need Shinskie to lead the offensesuccessfully. His first pass on Saturday was less than ideal.

Weber State linebacker Taylor Sedillo intercepted Shinskie for seven yards and set upthe Wildcats in the Eagle red zone. They settled for a field goal.

On BC’s next drive, Shinskie completed all three of his passes for 35 yards and a touchdown to

Chris Pantale, wiping away any fear or doubt any Eagle fan could have.

But Shinskie was not yet through scaring Boston College fans. He finished the day a miserable10 of 20 for 187 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions. And this was againstWeber State’s defense, not Virginia Tech or North Carolina.

Eagle running back Montel Harris looked great, finishing with 115 yards and a score,but the Eagles must have Shinskie perform, or it will be another disappointing season for BostonCollege.

Clemson 35 North Texas 10

The big question mark for Clemson heading into their Saturday afternoon battle with NorthTexas was the play of quarterback Kyle Parker. Would he repeat his success from lastyear, or would he crumble under the distraction(s) of becoming a professional baseball player?

Early on, Parker played as well as he could have. He hit two touchdowns through the air toreceiver Brandon Clear and running back Jamie Harper.

The Tigers started their scoring with a 60-yard run in the first quarter by running back AndreEllington.

If the Tiger defense had not got to Mean Green quarterback Nathan Tune four times inthe first half, then Tulane may very well have been tied with Clemson at the break. North Texasalso fumbled, losing yardage, on three separate occasions.

Both running backs Harper and Ellington finished with two scores each, sending all thoughts offormer Tiger CJ Spiller to the wind.

Parker quieted down, finishing with nearly half of his pass attempts being incomplete, one aninterception.

Virginia 34 Richmond 13

Running back Keith Payne was through with football until former Cavalier headcoach Al Groh left and current head coach Mike London stepped in. Boy, isCavalier nation glad he came back.

Payne ran for 108 yards on just fifteen carries for four scores, three of which were in the secondhalf to help UVA pull away from the Spiders.

According to Rivals.com, Payne had three straight carries over 13 yards, each time with defenders on hisback.

Richmond, a perennial FCS powerhouse, had previously beaten Virginia twice in the past fiveyears. The two were within one-point when Virginia led at half-time, 14-13. The last three scoreswere all Payne’s.

NC State 48 Western Carolina 7

NC State quarterback Russell Wilson was in a similar situation as Clemson passerKyle Parker this summer. Wilson was selected in the MLB draft, and missed somepracticing with his Wolfpack teammates because of baseball related events.

But, unlike Parker, Wilson did his part in leading the Wolfpack offense to a ton of points. Hecompleted 21 of 31 passes for 306 yards and four scores, without a blemish.

As for the Wolfpack defense, they did not allow the Western Carolina Catamounts into the redzone. The seven points surrendered by the Wolfpack defense was the fewest amount since NCState’s second game of last season.

Duke 41 Elon 27

In his first career start, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree had a career-day. Renfree passedfor 350 yards and two touchdowns, showing that former Blue Devil quarterback ThaddeusLewis might have been a product of Duke’s offensive system.

Duke had a comfortable lead throughout the entire first half, heading into the break up 27-13.

The third quarter was scoreless, while the fourth featured two scores by each team.

No. 21 LSU 30 No. 18 North Carolina 24

In what many thought would be a blow out, North Carolina held its own and nearly toppled LSU.The Tar Heels rallied from a 30-10 halftime deficit to come within six.

With a successful onside kick, UNC looked like they had all the momentum in the world…untilTar Heel quarterback TJ Yates fumbled, allowing the Tigers to attempt to run out theclock.

If it were only that simple.

North Carolina managed to knock the ball loose with their depleted defense, and recovered thefumble. With 2:17 remaining in the game and on his own 27 yard line, Yates led the Tar Heelsdown the field to mount a comeback.

Yates completed his first five passes of the drive, but with 0:10 left in the game, he threw twoincomplete passes, attempted for tight end Zack Pianalto. Yates finished the gamecompleting 62.2% of his passes for 410 yards and three scores.

LSU turned the ball over four times, yet still escaped with the victory.

It’s only natural to imagine what the end result would have been had North Carolina played their entire team. The Tar Heels were without eight starters, severely limiting their potential as a unit.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

AP Photo
2 Comments

The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
2 Comments

After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.

Texas A&M removes WR Kirk Merritt from roster

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After being charged for allegedly exposing himself to tutors at Texas A&M, wide receiver Kirk Merritt is no longer an Aggie. Merritt has been removed from the Texas A&M football program, according to a report from The Eagle. Though there has been no official statement confirming such news, Merritt’s name has been wiped off the team’s online roster.

Merritt pleaded not guilty to a pair of indecent exposure charges against him stemming from an incident last October. Merritt allegedly exposed himself to female academic tutors. Merritt was suspended by Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin a few days after the alleged incidents. The suspension was expanded to indefinite status following Merritt’s arrest on November 8. The suspension has since been lifted after the university’s conduct process wrapped up in January.

It has been a bit of a bumpy year for Merritt. Merritt left Oregon for Texas A&M last summer due to family reasons. He participated in Texas A&M’s spring practices but did not play in the spring game.

Big 12 revenue eclipses $300 million mark

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File
1 Comment

When it comes to revenues, the SEC and Big Ten continue to set the pace and leave the rest of the competition in the dust. That said, the Big 12 saw a second straight sizable revenue bump, according to recent tax returns.

As reported by USA Today, the Big 12 recorded a revenue of $313 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 on its tax return. The figure is up roughly $40 million from last year’s revenue, and the conference has now doubled its revenue since the 2012 fiscal year amid conference realignment changes. As for the revenue shares for each Big 12 program, the numbers ranged from $28 million to West Virginia to $28.9 million for Oklahoma. This marked the first time West Virginia and TCU were eligible to receive their full conference revenue shares as Big 12 members.

The biggest reason for the big jump in revenue came from increased bowl revenue. The Big 12 pulled in $114.5 million in bowl revenue in 2016, which was just $74.5 million in 2015. The 2015 season, which was included in the fiscal year outlined by this tax return, saw Oklahoma advance to the College Football Playoff and Oklahoma State be selected to play in a New Years Six bowl game (Sugar Bowl), which led to a larger bowl game distribution for the Big 12. The previous year saw no Big 12 team in the College Football Playoff (TCU, Baylor).

The Big 12 still lags well behind the SEC. Most will, of course. The SEC announced a revenue of $584.2 million for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, with each SEC member receiving a revenue share of $40.4 million. The SEC and Big 12 are the only conference revenue numbers currently on record for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, but expect the Big Ten to be a solid second in the pecking order, with the ACC likely to come in front of the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to be toward the bottom of the pack.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a pay increase as well. Bowlsby reportedly earned a little more than $2.6 million in 2015, earning more than $70,000 than the previous year.