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)

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

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.