ACC, Big East looking to salvage some respect… again

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Last night’s match-up between Miami and Pittsburgh was clearly the most anticipatedACC vs. Big East game of the week, but it may turn out to be the most revolting. As Ben so eloquently put it, the game was mustn’t see television.

But let’s not give up on the two conferences! A team does not need a two digit numberless than 26 next to its name in order to provide good football. Hell, in 2007 Boston Collegestarted 2-0 unranked and was one point No. 2 in the nation. Anything can happen this week,folks.

But if you are into “sexy” football, we do have a game for you. No. 22 West Virginia is headingover to No. 15 LSU tomorrow night in a game many people believe will make-or-breakMountaineer Noel Devine‘s Heisman campaign.

Virginia Tech at Boston College (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: Virginia Tech -4

THE PLOT: When was the last time neither team was ranked in this rivalry? I could notlocate the answer to that question, despite roaming through records dating back to 1992. (If youcan find it, share the information!)

This ACC matchup between former conference forerunners will play a huge role in determiningthe outcome of both teams for the remainder of the year. Virginia Tech has to answer to criticsafter a few real bad games. The Hokies also need to win out, or get to and win a bowl game inorder to continue their 10-win season streak alive; they currently sit at six seasons, which issecond behind Texas’ nine.

Boston College is 2-0 on the young season, but both wins have been unimpressive and overlower tier teams, Weber State and Kent State. The quarterback play of Dave Shinskiefor the Eagles will be just as important as BC’s defensive play. The only thing the Eagles trulyhave going for them is that this game is in Chestnut Hill.

THE PICK: In 2007 and 2008, Boston College and Virginia Tech met four total times;once during the year and again during the ACC title game. The same scenario played out bothtimes with the Eagles winning the regular season matchup and the Hokies taking the moreimportant game to reach a BCS bowl. At the rate both teams are playing now, neither team willreach the conference title game, so they better play hard this game, because it will likely be theonly meeting between the two until next season.

Virginia Tech has a more balanced team. I know the Hokies lost to James Madison, but theweather was crummy, the players were still reeling from the gigantic Boise State loss and it’s notimpossible to believe that the Hokies expected to walk over the Dukes.

I think the Hokies take this game in Massachusetts to set the tone for the rest of their ACC slate.The play of Ryan Williams? Nah, they won’t need it.

THE SCORE: Virginia Tech 24, Boston College 10

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North Carolina at Rutgers (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: North Carolina -2

THE PLOT: The Tar Heels have played four games with Rutgers, losing three. Theywon the most recent though, in 2008 in New Brunswick, a 44-12 victory.

North Carolina has played two games this season, both six-point losses to goodteams. They did this despite missing twelve players. The Tar Heels will not have any of those ineligible players back for this matchup (other thanShaun Draughn), which leaves them susceptible to being taken advantage of late in thegame due to a lack of depth.

Rutgers enters the game with a 2-0 record, with wins over Norfolk State andFlorida International. Quarterback Tom Savage played amiserable game two weeks ago in a 19-14 win down in Miami, but he vowed himself to getbetter from that point.

North Carolina’s Butch Davis is 8-9 coming off a loss, and Rutgers’ GregSchiano isn’t much better coming off a bye week with a 13-10 record.

THE PICK: I know Rutgers has played rather tough within the Big East this decade,but their defense is not the same as it was in 2006, coincidentally the same year that Rutgers lastbeat UNC. The Scarlet Knights’ offense has also declined in yards per game each of the past twoseasons–once Ray Rice left.

As for the Tar Heels, they have still played great football without their best playmakers.Quarterback TJ Yates has really improved his draft stock with his tough–andproductive–play against two good defenses in LSU and Georgia Tech.

I expect UNC to play lights out defense and Yates to lead the Tar Heels on several scoring drivesin a low-scoring battle.

THE SCORE: North Carolina 17, Rutgers 9

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No. 8 Oklahoma at Cincinnati (6:00 ET)

THE LINE: Oklahoma -13.5

THE PLOT: The Sooners have played really good football so far this year. They got thejitterbugs out early against Utah State and a mobile quarterback in Diondre Borel. Theyembarrassed and dismantled Christian Ponder and then-No. 17 Florida State. And lastweek, they squared off against the nation’s leading rushing team in Air Force. What can we pickup from these results? That Oklahoma’s rush defense hasn’t been that great this year.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, hasn’t been great this year at…well, anything. The Big East teamhas lost twice as many games through three bouts this year as they did all of last season. Thepreseason favorite to run the Big East conference has only one impressive offensive performanceso far, and that was against Indiana State.

THE PICK: This matchup is a home game for Cincinnati, seeing as it is being played15 minutes from the Bearcats’ campus at Paul Brown Stadium.

Oklahoma has not been on the road yet this year, so there is certainly the possibility of an upsethere. In fact, for those who care, Bob Stoops is 2-4 in non-conference regular seasonaway games against BCS foes.

I think if Cincinnati can score early, they might look cute for a little bit, but it will not take longfor Oklahoma to suffocate them. FSU’s Christian Ponder was picked apart on a big stage,so playing the Bearcats’ Zach Collaros should not present too much of a problem.

THE SCORE: Oklahoma 30, Cincinnati 16

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No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU (9:00 ET)

THE LINE: LSU -10

THE PLOT: This is the biggest non-conference game for the Mountaineers since 2005when West Virginia hosted No. 3 Virginia Tech. That game didn’t end well for the team fromMorgantown, but it was their only loss as WVU went on to win the Sugar Bowl against No. 8Georgia.

This year is completely different. The Mountaineers do not have Pat White, but possess ayoung and inexperienced quarterback in Geno Smith. To be fair, Smith has played aswell as anyone could ask, scoring seven touchdowns and limiting himself to one turnover. TheMountaineers have not seen a consistent passing quarterback in nearly a decade, but Smith istaking on that role.

Speaking of a passing quarterback, that is about the last thing Louisiana State would like to seetomorrow night. The Tigers surrendered 412 yards to North Carolina’s Yates during week one.Yates is the only passing quarterback that LSU has faced all year, so this week’s opponent inWest Virginia may by problematic.

THE PICK: Bill Stewart has a winning record against Top 25 teams, as wellas against BCS teams, but is 4-6 away from Morgantown. His three road games against non-conference BCS opponents have all culminated in
losses.

LSU possesses
the talent advantage, the coaching advantage, and home field advantage. WestVirginia will need as much out of Noel Devine and Geno Smith as they possibly can get.

THE SCORE: Louisiana State 33, West Virginia 21

(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)

Auburn adds FCS starting lineman as graduate transfer

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Peyton Barber #25 of the Auburn Tigers dives for the end zone during overtime in their game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on September 12, 2015 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 27-20. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
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Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.

Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster.  The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.

He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception.  Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.

The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American.  While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.

Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.

Longtime Wake Forest assistant completes Charlotte’s coaching staff

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach David Bailiff of the Rice Owls and head coach Brad Lambert of the Charlotte 49ers meet to shake hands following Rice's victory over Charlotte at McColl-Richardson Field at Jerry Richardson Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, Brad Lambert added a longtime Power Five assistant to his Charlotte coaching staff.  Not long after, he has added another.

The 49ers announced in a release that Keith Henry has been hired by Lambert as his running backs coach.  The 49ers’ coach at that position last season, Damien Gary, will shift to wide receivers.

Henry and Lambert (pictured, left) were on the same staff at Wake Forest, so they have a previous working relationship.

“Keith brings a lot of experience to our program,” said Lambert in a statement. “Having coached on both sides of the ball, he brings an added dimension of a defensive perspective to our offense. We’re really glad he’s coming on board with us. He’s a North Carolina native who’s played in North Carolina and has recruited for many, many years in North and South Carolina. That will be a huge benefit to our program with the relationships he’s built over the years.

“He’s been very successful and been a part of winning football at Ohio, Wake Forest and Catawba.”

Henry spent 11 seasons with the Demon Deacons (2001-11). He coached on the defensive side of the ball for the first 10 years before spending his final season with the ACC school as special teams coordinator.  His last job on the offensive side of the ball came as wide receivers coach at Ohio in 1996.

ECU won’t be hiring ex-Purdue interim HC charged with drunk driving

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 19: Interim coach Gerad Parker of the Purdue Boilermakers looks on against the Wisconsin Badgers in the second quarter of the game at Ross-Ade Stadium on November 19, 2016 in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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An off-field incident involving alcohol has unofficially cost an assistant coach a job.

It had been reported that Gerad Parker, who served as Purdue’s interim head coach last season, decided to leave his new job at Cincinnati to take another at East Carolina. That reported move was complicated after reports surfaced that, following a going-away party in West Lafayette early Tuesday morning, the coach was pulled over and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

Parker had been expected to take over the wide receivers coach job at ECU; Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that the Pirates are moving on from the coach in light of the recent development.

In a tweet that has since been deleted from his Twitter account, Parker apologized. “I’m sorry to all my friends and family,” the coach wrote. “Thanks to all that have reached out and shown support.”

Parker would’ve replaced Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills. ECU’s search for a replacement will continue.

Kentucky OC Eddie Gran gets contract extension and raise

LEXINGTON, KY - AUGUST 30:  The Kentucky Wildcats take the field before the game against the Tennessee- Martin Skyhawks at Commonwealth Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.

According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.

Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).

Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.

Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.