Big 12 dress rehearses, Pac-10 opens up for week four

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I’m going to go ahead and get my one Stephen A. Smith-ism for the season out of the way right now: this weekend, the Big 12 and Pac-10 are not the SEC. 

Now that I’ve blatantly stated what everyone already knows, let’s look forward to this weekend. The Big 12 has a relatively low-key Saturday as the big kahuna — which will take the forms of corny dogs and pure, unadulterated hate — between Texas and OU will be next week in Dallas. For tomorrow, The Longhorns and the Sooners take the field against interesting, but beatable, opponents.

Pac-10 conference play gets into full swing for week four, but two of the most interesting games still come out of conference as Oregon State travels to Boise State and Stanford heads to the midwest to take on Notre Dame.

As JT mentioned in his preview, we will be posting our records at the bottom of each preview. So, crack your knuckles and prepare to have written proof that I have no earthly idea what I’m talking about when it comes to college football.

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State (8:00 ET)

THE LINE: Boise State -18

THE PLOT: This was supposed to be round two of two for Boise’s marquee games this season. As it turns out, though, Virginia Tech hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations and Oregon State doesn’t appear to be a front runner in the Pac-10. Nevertheless, Boise has to win this game and win big if they’re going to even be in the discussion for the national title. Luckily for the Broncos, they don’t lose at home. Since 1999, Boise State is 64-2 on the Smurf Turf.

THE PICK: Despite the struggles of Tech, I still think Boise State is a really good football team who is extremely well-coached. Boise always seems to take care of business when they have to and this game is no exception

THE SCORE: Boise State 48, Oregon State 17

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No. 16 Stanford at Notre Dame (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Stanford -4.5

THE PLOT: Stanford comes in to this game averaging 51.7 points per game and has completely dominated in every aspect of the game. Notre Dame is breaking in a new coach in Brian Kelly, but has been competitive through their first three games. Right now, the Irish seem to play to the level of their competition, so if that’s any indication, this game could be closer than some people expect it to be … but not too close … don’t get excited.

THE PICK: Andrew Luck is simply the best (I’m officially jumping off the Jake Locker bandwagon) in the Pac-10 and maybe in the country. In week four, he shows why again.

THE SCORE:  Stanford 30, Notre Dame 21

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UCLA at No. 7 Texas (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: Texas -16

THE PLOT: Supposedly, this is a “dress rehearsal” for Texas as the Red River Rivalry against OU is next weekend, but I wouldn’t count out the Bruins just yet. Texas coach Mack Brown has been answering questions all week about his o-line and offensive production as a whole. There’s no doubt the defense has been good (allowing roughly 44 rush yards/game) but Rice, Wyoming and Texas Tech aren’t exactly known for running the ball, either. A little misleading are the Longhorns.

THE PICK: Last time UCLA rolled in to Austin, they rolled right back out with a 66-3 victory. This time, it’ll be a little different. Texas wins — but barely.

THE SCORE: Texas 24, UCLA 20

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

THE LINE: Oklahoma -16

THE PLOT: To quote British comedy giants Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” With Oklahoma, you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get week in and week out. Cincinnati was expected to contend for another conference title this year. Now, they’re struggling to survive in a very down Big East (maybe the understatement of the year). 

THE PICK: Cincinnati is desperate enough to come out swinging in this game against the Sooners. This one is interesting for a half, then Oklahoma’s talent takes over as Bob Stoops‘ team pulls away late.

THE SCORE:  Oklahoma 34, Cincinnati 17

Last Week:

Straight up: 1-2

Vs. spread: 0-3

Overall:

Straight up: 4-3

Vs. spread: 2-5

(Week one I didn’t predict scores or display spreads)

Missouri hires former Texas coach Brick Haley as new defensive line coach

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 24:  Defensive end Charles Harris #91 and defensive lineman Jordan Harold #55 of the Missouri Tigers celebrate after sacking quarterback Daniel Epperson #11 of the Delaware State Hornets during the game at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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It took a few weeks, but Missouri head coach Barry Odom has a new defensive line coach.

The school announced the hiring of Brick Haley on Friday afternoon, a longtime veteran SEC coach who heads to Columbia after previously serving on Charlie Strong’s staff at Texas.

“I’m very pleased and really excited to be joining Coach Odom’s program,” said Haley in a release.  “We haven’t worked together, but I’m very aware of him and the reputation he has in the coaching profession.  I look at this as an unbelievable opportunity to work with someone who has such an impressive passion and work ethic.  It didn’t take me long in our conversations to know that Coach Odom is the right guy and someone you want to work with.  I believe that Mizzou is a place where the sky is the limit, and I’m looking forward to being part of the program.”

Haley has a strong reputation as a recruiter, which is helpful considering that the Tigers are in a bit of a rebuilding job right now. In addition his recent stop at Texas, he also coached at LSU, the Chicago Bears, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and others.

Missouri does have a strong tradition of producing first-round picks along the defensive line and it appears that, after a one year speed bump with Jackie Shipp, the program has found the next coach to help carry on that tradition.

Fourth Georgia Tech player to transfer since end of season

DUBLIN, IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 03: Christian Philpott of Georgia Tech celebrates victory over Boston College in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Ireland 2016 at Aviva Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images)
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Late last month, leading rusher Marcus Marshall become one of a trio of Georgia Tech football players who have announced their decisions to transfer since the end of the regular season.  Thursday, that trio became a quartet.

On his personal Twitter account last night, Christian Philpott (pictured, No. 82) announced that he will be transferring from the Yellow Jackets in January.  The wide receiver said he came to the decision after talks with family and friends, although he didn’t detail precisely why he was leaving the football program.

If Philpott decides another FBS program will be his next collegiate stop, he’d have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws. Beginning in 2018, he’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

A three-star 2015 signee, Philpott took a redshirt as a true freshman because of an injury. This season, Philpott caught one pass for nine yards in three games this season.

UNC’s Nazair Jones leaving Tar Heels early for NFL

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 14:  Nazair Jones #90 and Dominquie Green #26 of the North Carolina Tar Heels tackle Mark Walton #1 of the Miami Hurricanes during their game at Kenan Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Another day, another college player giving up the college football life for a professional payday.

North Carolina announced Friday that Nazair Jones has elected to forego his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.  The defensive tackle will play in UNC’s Sun Bowl matchup with Stanford Dec. 30 before shifting his focus to preparing for the draft.

“I’m so thankful for this amazing university,” statement from Jones began. “The University of North Carolina has changed me so much since the first day I stepped on campus. Throughout my career, I have been with a family of brothers and found people that have become my closest friends. I want to thank our amazing coaching staff, support staff and an incredible fan base. I know Tar Heel nation will always have my back!”

“It’s been a pleasure coaching Naz throughout his career at UNC and watching him grow as a person both on and off the field,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “He has overcome great physical adversity and improved tremendously since he came into the program in 2013. This season he was the leader of our defensive line and someone everyone on the team respected. I believe he has a bright future in professional football if he continues to work hard and focus on being the best he can be.”

Jones has started 21 of the 34 games in which he’s played.  The past two seasons, he was named third-team All-ACC.

Urban Meyer could lose two OSU assistants to FBS head-coaching jobs

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 15:  Head coach Luke Fickell of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches as his team takes on the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on October 15, 2011 in Champaign, Illinois. Ohio State defeated Illinois 17-7.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Thanks to a flurry of activity the past couple of days, there are just five head coach openings at the FBS level remaining.  Depending on how things play out the next 24-48 hours, it may be a couple of Ohio State assistants who fill two of those openings.

The speculation with the most traction appears to involve Luke Fickell, with the OSU co-defensive coordinator reportedly the frontrunner for the Cincinnati job.  According to one report, negotiations between Fickell and UC officials is currently underway; another says there have been talks but no negotiations.

The only certainty in this situation, it seems, is that an announcement on a new Bearcats coach won’t come today.  It could, though, come this weekend.

Losing Fickell could actually cost Urban Meyer two assistants at once to an in-state school as, the speculation goes, cornerbacks coach/special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs would potentially follow the coach to UC as defensive coordinator.

In addition to those two assistants, Buckeyes’ co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner is in play for the head-coaching vacancy at Western Kentucky.

In addition to UC and WKU, the remaining FBS openings include Florida Atlantic, Temple South Florida. Charlie Strong is the overwhelming favorite for the USF job and an announcement of his hiring could come as early as today.