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.)

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.

Edgerrin James’ nephew to transfer from Miami

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Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players  suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia.  Nearly four months later, he’s gone.

In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.

“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class.  247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.

The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.

Georgia ‘parts ways’ with four-star 2017 signee accused of assaulting mother of his child

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Not surprisingly, D’Antne Demery‘s time Between the Hedges was a brief one.

Earlier Sunday, reports surfaced that the 2017 Georgia signee had been arrested Saturday night in downtown Athens on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and simple battery.  The alleged victim, the mother of Demery’s one-year-old child, accused the recruit of assaulting her twice, the first time, after a verbal argument, by “grabbing her on the back of her neck… pushing her against the wall, and also grabbing her by the hair” and the second after allegedly throwing her.

Not surprisingly, UGA subsequently announced in a press release that Demery has been released from his signed National Letter of Intent. In other words, he has been summarily dismissed from Kirby Smart‘s football program.

Demery was a four-star 2017 recruit, rated as the No. 20 offensive tackle in the country; the No. 22 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 204 on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Th 6-5, 319-pound lineman was one of 18 four-star players in Smart’s second recruiting class at the school.

After signing in February, Demery had been scheduled to report with the rest of the incoming freshmen in June.

Tom Herman pulls California QB recruit Cameron Rising away from Oklahoma

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Tom Herman has made his share of news since his late November arrival in Austin, but Saturday evening was probably the first time his Big 12 and national rivals perked up and took notice of the new Texas head coach for something that will happen on the field of play.

The Longhorns landed a commitment from Newbury Park, Calif., quarterback Cameron Rising, which would be news in and of itself. The 6-foot-3 signal caller is rated the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and No. 52 player nationally by Rivals for the class of 2018, making him the highest-rated player in Texas’s 4-man class.

But Rising’s pledge is especially notable for where he was already committed: Oklahoma. Rising had been committed to Oklahoma since August and publicly firmed up his pledge as recently as January. “I’m extremely happy (with the decision),” Rising said at the time. “The program is so good, they’re moving in the right direction. They had a slow start but then they picked it up and it was like a warm nice through butter.”

Herman’s tweet brings up an interesting point: the quarterback Oklahoma is most likely to target to replace Rising is the other Texas quarterback pledge.

Casey Thompson, hailing from Moore, Okla., became the first Texas quarterback commitment just nine days before Rising. Beyond just living in the Sooner State, Thompson is also the son of a former Sooner and the brother of another.

In fact, Oklahoma waisted no time in reaching out to Thompson. “OU hit me up already,” Thompson told Burnt Orange Nation, but Thompson indicated Herman and company told him ahead of time Texas would sign two quarterbacks.

And in a note the Texas coaches have likely reminded Thompson of in the past 24 hours, they offered Thompson before Rising. “Me and the [Texas] coaches have a very good relationship. I knew they planned to take 2 from the jump. Their current QB room is thin!”

Oklahoma may very well retaliate to Herman’s plunder with a steal of their own. But the point is Herman has arrived in the Red River Recruiting Wars, and he’s playing to win.