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'Time to die' t-shirts all the rage on Rocky Top

OK, maybe not all the rage, but they are available if you so desire.

The back story, for those who are unaware: Florida’s Chris Rainey was Time to die.jpgFast-forward two days, and we’re on the brink of a bitter SEC rivalry game between Florida and Tennessee, one played annually the third Saturday of September and always one of those dates circled on the calendar regardless of the records of the two schools.  So, of course, an entrepreneurial Volunteer fan (or fans) has decided to up the ante of the rivalry by making light of a potentially serious domestic issue and producing t-shirts with the message “Time to die” on the front and “Vols b-tch” on the back.

As Clay Travis, a Nashville radio host who posted the pics seen in this piece,  wrote on Twitter, it “had to happen”.  Travis is probably right; such a “statement” plastered on a piece of fabric ahead of a huge rivalry game was probably inevitable.

Still, though, there are certain lines of common sense taste that shouldn’t be crossed, and this is one of them.  Hell, even someone like me recognizes such a boundary, and I’m a dolt.

But, hey, the person or persons responsible for these probably got a laugh and/or a couple of bucks out of a serious situation, so that’s all that matters these days, right?

All Volunteer fans shouldn’t be painted with a broad brush because of this, but the person responsible for it should be slapped upside the head with said brush.  Maybe it’d knock a little decency and class into him/her.

Doubtful, but it’s worth a shot.

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No. 18 Ole Miss pulls away from Boise in ugly game

Boise State v Mississippi

It wasn’t pretty, but No. 18 Ole Miss (1-0) will take it. A fourth quarter interception of Boise State (0-1) quarterback Grant Hedrick was quickly capitalized on when Bo Wallace connected with Quincy Adeboyejo for a 31-yard touchdown play, aided by some missed tackles by Boise State defenders. The score midway through the fourth quarter gave Ole Miss a double-digit lead and Boise state was unable to make a late dent in the deficit. A 76-yard touchdown pass to Cody Core served as the dagger to Boise State’s hopes for a victory in Atlanta. Ole Miss won the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff, 35-13.

Wallace had his ups and downs with four touchdowns and three interceptions, but managed to make some nice throws in the fourth quarter to help lead his team to victory. The go-to target of the night was Laquon Treadwell, who got into some feisty verbal and physical exchanges during the night but ended up letting his play do most of the talking. Treadwell was the go-to receiver, but Core was the big play receiver. Core and Treadwell each put together a 100-yard night.

Bryan Harsin‘s debut as Boise State head coach will see him return to Boise with plenty to work on moving forward. The defense was worn down but performed well for the most part. The Broncos intercepted three passes and put the clamps down on the Ole Miss running game. The offense though, was up against a wall for most of the night. Credit to the Ole Miss defensive line, but Hedrick was intercepted four times and the Broncos were unable to take advantage of opportunities. One interception came in the end zone and Boise State had to settle for a field goal when a drive stalled just yards shy of the end zone. Running back Jay Ajayi never had much room to do much on the ground, accounting for 88 rushing yards and the only touchdown of the night for Boise State.

Ole Miss will play on the road next week in a SEC contest. The Rebels visit Vanderbilt, who saw their Thursday night opener against Temple pushed back late into the night due to severe weather. Ole Miss showed some very good things on defense but obviously needs to find a way to get on track offensively if the Rebels are going to be any legitimate threat in the SEC West, or at least to cause some trouble for programs like Alabama, Auburn or LSU (or Texas A&M).

Boise State likely loses a shot to get out in front of the race for a guaranteed spot in the College Football Playoff bowl line-up. The highest-ranked conference champion from the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt gets a spot in one of the big revenue bowl games. Boise State could have used a win over a top 25 SEC team to crack the top 25 rankings next week and get out in front of the pack.

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Kenny Hill given Heisman odds, Texas A&M title odds updated

Kenny Hill

It took just one masterful performance in the season opener for Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill to be recognized as a Heisman Trophy contender. Not only was Jesse Palmer quick to draw comparisons to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston‘s debut lasts season at Pittsburgh, but one sports book (Sportsbook.com, actually) has already put Hill on the board, and with very respectable odds.

We live in a reactionary world when it comes to sports, so it should come as no surprise Hill was added to the Heisman odds. But there was more to the Vegas lines as well, with Texas A&M moving from 100/1 odds to 40/1 (this despite lacking much on defense).

Hill etched his name in the Texas A&M history books in leading the Aggies to a season-opening road win at South Carolina Thursday night. Hill passed or 511 yards and three touchdowns, and completed 44 of 60 pass attempts in his debut as the new starting quarterback.

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Halftime: Ole Miss, Boise State combine for six interceptions

Bo Wallace

Boise State is showing to be a program that will not be intimidated by a rising program in the SEC, but the Broncos are trailing Ole Miss at the half in Atlanta in the first game in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. Ole Miss is leading a defensive (and at times ugly) showdown, 7-3.

The Rebels have forced a trio of turnovers by intercepting three passes from Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick, and the defense has been pressuring the Boise State signal-caller for much of the half. This is to be expected with the talent Ole Miss has on the defensive line. The Broncos have also been managing to run the football against Ole Miss but cannot break many big plays. Fortunately for Boise State, the Broncos have a defense that is holding Ole Miss down and not allowing the game to get away from them.

Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has also been intercepted twice in the first half and the Rebels have failed to convert a third down attempt (they did convert one fourth down attempt). Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Wallace to Cody Core. The Broncos had a chance to tie things up but the Ole Miss defense stuffed Boise running back Jay Ajayi a couple of yards from the end zone on the corner. The Broncos settled for a field goal.

There were a number of bad penalties by both sides in the first half, but Ole Miss really racked up the penalty yardage. Both teams took some bad penalties in the first half, including Serderius Bryant of Old Miss for his hit on Hedrick. The targeting ejection was upheld following the mandatory video review, giving us the second targeting ejection of the season. The Rebels have also jumped to a false start more times than any team probably should.

This should be a good defensive battle in the second half as well. If Ole Miss cannot start flexing some muscle on offense, then Boise State will continue to hang around, and that would not be advisable for the Rebels.

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Texas A&M snaps South Carolina’s 18-game home winning streak

Kenny Hill

No. 21 Texas A&M (1-0, 1-0 SEC) has a motto saying they run the state of Texas. On Thursday night, Texas A&M ran the state of South Carolina.

The Aggies went to Columbia, South Carolina confident in what they could do, and it showed. Texas A&M snapped No. 9 South Carolina’s (0-1, 0-1 SEC) 18-game home winning streak in dominating fashion, running away from the Gamecocks 52-28.

The star of the night was without a doubt Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, who dazzled in his debut as the Aggies starter looking to fill the shoes left by Johnny Manziel. All he did was throw for a school record 511 yards and three touchdowns. He did so by spreading the football around very well form start to finish. In all, Texas A&M got the football into the hands of 11 different receivers and four different runners. The pace and ability to spread the ball around proved too much for South Carolina to handle as the Gamecocks were left catching their breath on the field and on the sideline early and often.

Texas A&M and South Carolina played a close first quarter, but the Aggies started to pull away in the second quarter and never looked back. Texas A&M took a 31-14 lead into the half and continued the onslaught with an answer any time South Carolina looked to grab the momentum.

The Gamecocks were mostly without their top offensive player, running back Mike Davis. Davis did not start the game and was given an early rest with a rib bruise as the game was well in hand. Davis carried the football six times for just 15 yards before being given a rest. But that was not the reason South Carolina lost this one.

South Carolina will host a dangerous East Carolina team next weekend, before hosting SEC East rival Georgia in what has become one of the top game sin the division the last few years. The Gamecocks clearly have more hole son defense than many may have been counting on this season, but there may not be another team with quite as potent an offense the rest of the season than the one South Carolina faced Wednesday night.

Texas A&M should continue to put up some big offensive numbers the next couple of weeks. The Aggies will host FCS Lamar in the home opener in Kyle Field next week, followed by a home game against Rice. The next SEC game for Texas A&M will come on September 27 in AT&T Stadium in Arlington against Arkansas in SEC West play. Moving forward, Texas A&M will have to be given more respect as a threat in the wide-open SEC. This Aggies team is not going to sneak up any one in conference play, especially Alabama, LSU and Auburn.

Watch out SEC. Texas A&M is going to put up some points once again.

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Halftime: South Carolina has no answers for Texas A&M offense

Texas A&M v South Carolina

If you thought Texas A&M was going to struggle to replace Johnny Manziel under center, Kenny Hill is making you reconsider that feeling tonight in Columbia, South Carolina. Hill has been confident and calm under center and has been accurate in leading Texas A&M to a halftime lead against South Carolina. Texas A&M holds a 31-14 lead at the break.

Hill has completed 27 of 33 pass attempts for 299 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Texas A&M has done exceptionally well spreading the football around. The Aggies have had nine different players catch a pass and four players carry the football.

South Carolina’s defense has had no answers for Kevin Sumlin‘s Aggies. It does not help that South Carolina’s secondary has been depleted trying to keep up, but whoever has been on the field for the Gamecocks has simply been struggling to keep up with A&M’s receivers. To further complicate things, South Carolina is quickly learning that life without Jadeveon Clowney is difficult, because the Gamecocks have really struggled to bring any pressure on Hill in the Texas A&M backfield.

South Carolina’s star running back Mike Davis did not start the game and has been limited in the first half. At the half, Davis has just six carries for 15 yards.

South Carolina will get the football to start the second half. It is not time to panic, but starting the second half off with a solid drive and a score would sure calm some nerves in Columbia.

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Notre Dame adds one more suspension to opener

Oklahoma v Notre Dame

As Notre Dame continues to investigate an academic irregularity connected to members of the football program, the Fighting Irish have made a decision to suspend safety Eilar Hardy from team activities and games. That bring the suspension total up to five for this weekend in South Bend as a result of the ongoing investigation into academic dishonesty.

Hardy is a reserve player on the Notre Dame roster, but obvious depth concerns are mounting for the Irish defense in light of this potential academic scandal. Earlier this month Notre Dame suspended wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive end Ishaq Williams. All five players will miss the season opener this weekend against Rice.

As noted by JJ Stankevitz on CSN Chicago, the Irish are still relatively deep at the safety position even with this latest suspension news. The Irish have Austin Collinsworth, Max Redfield, Elijah Shumate and Matthias Farley as well as Nicky Baratti available at the safety position.

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Mike Davis not starting for South Carolina

Mike Davis

The first game of the SEC season is about to get started, but one of the top running backs in the conference will not be making the start. South Carolina running back Mike Davis will not start tonight’s season opener against Texas A&M.

Davis rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. His absence from the game tonight is not much of a surprise after sitting out a week of practice due to a rib injury. Head coach Steve Spurrier may still try to get Davis involved when he feels the moment is right, but it will be something to keep an eye on. Spurrier has said Davis is ready to go, so expect to see him play a role in the South Carolina offense anyway.

Brandon Wilds was announced as the starting running back for tonight’s game. Last season he rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns in a reserve role.

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Iowa professor to protest pink visiting locker rooms

VISITORS LOCKER ROOM

The Iowa Hawkeyes have had a long-standing tradition of having the visiting locker room painted pink. It was a brain game move by former head coach Hayden Fry in 1979 and has remained a part of attempting to give Iowa a home field advantage. A professor at Iowa is planning a formal protest against the pink locker room at the same time the school plans to honor Fry on Friday.

Kembrew McLeod is organizing a “million robot march” to protest what he believes demonstrates the university allowing the football program to taunt an opponent by pushing homophobia and sexism. It has been suggested the pink finish in the locker room is designed to break down the visiting team’s mental toughness. Whether it works or not is probably uncertain for sure, but there must be something to having the pink finish all these years. This is hardly the first time a concern about the pink locker rooms has surfaced at Iowa though. the gimmick has been criticized by a number of feminists, lawyers, gay rights activists and more over the years, and there will likely be more to come in the future as long as the locker room remains pink.

McLeod tells the Associated Press he and his fellow protesters will dress as robots and shout “Binary code yes! Gender binaries no!” as they address their concerns on Friday.

Iowa has no plans to redo the visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium.

“To tear that apart and spend the money right now to redo that just seems like a very low priority to me,” University of Iowa president Sally Mason said. “Would a pink locker room have been my first choice? Probably not. But that predates me by quite a little bit.”

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VIDEO: Brian Kelly stumps for eight-team playoff

Notre Dame v Michigan

As you may have heard, a new system for determining an FBS champion will be implemented after the 2014 season, with four teams fighting for the right to be called the first-ever champion of the College Football Playoff.

While we’ve yet to even make it to the first year of the CFP, many people, myself included, feel it’s a matter of when, not if, the field is expanded to at least eight teams.  The reasoning is simple: already astronomical, the money an expanded field would bring in would be too much to overlook as football programs, Power Five and Non-Power Five members alike, look to unearth any and all revenue streams in a sport that will see costs rise in the very near future.

In that vein, there are also five power conferences, which means that at least one of those leagues, and perhaps two, will be on the outside of the playoff looking in any given year.  It won’t take long for a conference or two to get snubbed X amount of times over a period of years before the league or leagues start stumping for an expanded playoffs.

And then there’s the obvious: much like arguing over which teams are Nos. 4/5 is progress over which teams are Nos. 2/3, arguing over which teams are Nos. 8/9 — or even Nos. 16/17 — represents progress over Nos. 4/5.

During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly discussed numerous topics, including the playoffs.  Kelly, who began his coaching career at Grand Valley State — a school in Div. II, which utilizes a playoff system to determine a champion — used some of his time with Patrick to push for an eight-team playoff, saying “four’s a great start but I don’t think it’s enough.”  Along with the eight teams, Kelly is in favor of, if there is an expanded playoff, first-round games being held on the campus of the higher seed.

Of course, all of that is at least a few years down the road, but it’s still worth a listen.

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SEC commish Mike Slive undergoes back surgery

Mike Slive AP

One of the most powerful men in all of sports is recovering from what appears to be a minor medical procedure.

Via Twitter, the SEC announced Thursday afternoon that commissioner Mike Slive “underwent successful surgery Tuesday to relieve pain he had experienced in his back for several weeks.” In another tweet, the conference wrote that “Commissioner Slive is receiving great care from his doctors and will be watching SEC games from home this weekend.”

Slive is expected to be released from the hospital in short order.

Under Slive’s stewardship the past 12-plus years, the SEC has seen unprecedented growth in sports in general and football specifically. And specifically as it relates to the amount of money going into membership coffers.

The SEC Network, Slive’s sports pride and joy and a future source of significant revenue for memebrs, will televise its first live football game tonight as Texas A&M travels to Columbia to take on South Carolina.

Slive turned 74 last month, and there’s been talk that he could step down at some point in the near future. In an excellent profile that appeared in USA Today this morning, Slive addressed the retirement question head on when he was asked about a specific timetable for a departure.

“I’ll be done when I’m done. When they don’t want me anymore or when I don’t want to be there,” the commish said.

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Penn State-UCF game a pot of gold for Irish economy

Penn State arrives in Dublin, August 27, 2014

It appears that Icelandic volcano will allow the Penn State-Central Florida game to be played Saturday in Dublin, and that’s a very good thing for the Irish economy.

Peter McKenna, director of Croke Park Stadium, where the Nittany Lions and Knights will meet Saturday, told PennLive.com that the game should bring 20,000 visitors and roughly 30 million euros which, Google’s handy dollar-euro convertor tells me equates to roughly $39.5 million.

McKenna’s estimation is based on an average stay of three to five days, and each tourist spending anywhere from $395 (300 euros) to $527 (400 euros) per day. “I think the real figure will be far higher than that,” McKenna told the paper. “The city is going to get really wound up.”

The 2012 game between Notre Dame and Navy, played in Aviva Stadium before 48,820 fans, generated a reported $131 million for the Irish economy. Former Ireland minister for transport tourism and sport Leo Varadkar told PennLive.com that the Penn State-UCF game (8:30 a.m. ET, ESPN2) is “every bit as important” to the Irish economy as the Notre Dame-Navy game two years ago.

McKenna says his group is using the same as a marketing informercial to a captive American audience. “It’s going to be on early in the morning, no other games are going to be on, and Dublin is going to be showcased to millions of Americans,” he said. “They’ll say ‘Wow, what a great place. Let’s put that on my bucket list.'”

Joyce Polan, manager of Dublin’s Woolshed Pub, sums up the Irish attitude toward their American visitors with a perfect quote. “We love Americans here,” Polan said. “They eat tons of chicken wings.”

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USC RB Anthony Brown ‘couldn’t play for a racist,’ quits team

Syracuse v USC Getty Images

This has not been a very good last 7-10 days for the USC football program.

Late last week athletic director Pat Haden was hospitalized twice for undisclosed medical reasons.  Then, senior captain Josh Shaw turned from hero to fabricator in less than 48 hours, with his future on the team in limbo.  Now?  Some ugly and startling accusations are hurtling out of the Land of Troy.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed to the local writers covering the team that Anthony Brown has decided to quit the football team.  Prior to that, the senior running back — he had recently been moved from cornerback in a switch he requested — went on Instagram and, well, went here:

Instagram Racist

That social media post appeared to be the impetus for Sarkisian’s announcement.  From Scout.com:

Sark said he was “shocked” at these allegations, called them “ridiculous” and welcomed us to talk to anyone in or around the program and they would tell us that it simply wasn’t true.

Sark said they tried to accommodate Brown, moving him to running back. He was unfortunately hurt but Sark said they still tried to get him to stay on the team. Sark felt he could help the team. Brown refused, quit the team then posted the following on Facebook:

“Couldn’t play for a racist man!!!!!!!!!!!
#FightOn”

Sarkisian is getting set to enter his first season as USC’s head coach and hasn’t even coached a game, yet he’s already seen two messy situations that need cleaning.

Already, though, his players are jumping to their head coach’s defense via Twitter.

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Michigan Stadium rakes in $2.55 million from soccer clash

Already home to the largest crowd to ever witness a college football game, Michigan Stadium added a few more titles to its prodigious in 2014: highest-attended hockey game in U.S. history, and highest-attended soccer game in U.S. history.

It got paid quite well to do so.

According to a report from the Detroit News, Michigan was paid $2 million by promoted Relevant Sports to lease the Big House for the Aug. 2 match between European soccer superpowers Manchester United and Real Madrid. The Wolverines were also paid $550,000 for making the stadium available for practice the day prior to the match.

Manchester United won the game 3-1, thereby clinching a spot in the International Cup Final, before a crowd of 109,318.

Michigan was also received a $5 million check for hosting the NHL’s Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, where 105,491 showed up to see the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings. The college football attendance record was set when 115,109 spectators watched Michigan topple Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013.

Athletics director Dave Brandon told the Detroit News he’d be interested in renting out the Big House – provided the right event comes along. “It would be good to have a big event once a year or every other year and stage a big event in the stadium, as long as it’s a big event,” Brandon told the paper. “I view these things as a wonderful opportunity to bring new people to the stadium.”

Brandon also reported the soccer game generated $25 million for the Ann Arbor economy and, assuming that figure is anywhere close to accurate, there is no reason not to do so, especially considering the Big House sits empty approximately 358 days per year.

Michigan plays seven home games in 2014, beginning with Appalachian State on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

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Ethan Farmer cleared by NCAA, can play for Tar Heels

Miami v North Carolina Getty Images

Finally, some good news on the personnel front for North Carolina.

Initially via Twitter, UNC announced that starting defensive tackle Ethan Farmer has been cleared to play for the Tar Heels this season by the NCAA.  An undisclosed eligibility issue has been hanging over Farmer’s head throughout summer camp, even as he’s continued to practice with the team.

As late as Tuesday after practice, head coach Larry Fedora was intimating that he didn’t expect a ruling on Farmer’s availability prior to the opener against Liberty Saturday.

“We are thankful to have Ethan cleared to play and I know he’s excited to have this behind him,” said Fedora in a statement that was released after the team broke the news on Twitter. “Ethan is our only experienced player on the defensive line and we’ll be counting on him for senior leadership in that group. He has practiced hard during the preseason and has not let this situation affect his preparation for the season.”

Farmer started all 13 games for the Tar Heels in 2013, and is expected to be the starter in 2014 as well.  Thanks to departures since the end of last year, including two this summer, Farmer is the only returning starter on the defensive line.

UNC had previously announced that four defensive players have been suspended for the opener for violating unspecified team rules.  Those suspensions came on the heels of a hazing report earlier in the week.

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CFT 2014 Preseason Top 25: ‘Noles look to go back-to-back

Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston AP

Over seven months ago, Florida State staked its claim to the last-ever Bowl Championship Series Trophy. The question now is, can the Seminoles win the first-ever College Football Playoff trophy?

At least as far as the CFT writers are concerned, the answer was a resounding “hell yes!!!” as all three of us — Brent Sobleski, Kevin McGuire and I — placed FSU at No. 1 in our preseason Top 25 rankings.

In somewhat of a surprise, Oregon was next up at No. 2, followed by Alabama, No. 2 in the Associated Press and coaches’ poll, at No. 3, Ohio State at No. 4 and Oklahoma at No. 5. Were the poll to be conducted today, there’s a very good chance the Buckeyes would slip to the bottom of the Top 10 — or even out of it — on the strength of Braxton Miller‘s season-ending injury.

As for the remainder of the Top 10, UCLA checks in at No. 6, followed by, in order from Nos. 7-10, South Carolina, Auburn, Baylor and Stanford.

The only Non-Power Five conference team to make the preseason cut was the Mountain West’s Boise State at No. 24.

Conference-wise, the SEC leads all leagues with six in the Top 25, the lowest of which is Ole Miss at No. 17. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have five teams each, with the ACC (four) and Big 12 (three) bringing up the Power-Five rear.

For comparison, the AP poll had eight SEC teams in the Top 25 and six from the Pac-12. The coaches’ poll also had six from the Pac-12, while only seven from the SEC.

Below are the complete set of CFT preseason top 25 rankings. And, for a repository on all of our 2014 preseason previews, click HERE.

No. 1 Florida State
No. 2 Oregon
No. 3 Alabama
No. 4 Ohio State
No. 5 Oklahoma
No. 6 UCLA
No. 7 South Carolina
No. 8 Auburn
No. 9 Baylor
No. 10 Stanford
No. 11 Michigan State
No. 12 Georgia
No. 13 LSU
No. 14 USC
No. 15 Notre Dame
No. 16 Clemson
No. 17 Ole Miss
No. 18 Wisconsin
No. 19 Duke
No. 20 Texas
No. 21 Nebraska
No. 22 Arizona State
No. 23 North Carolina
No. 24 Boise State
No. 25 Iowa

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