'Canes-'Noles duel for league supremacy headlines ACC slate

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This weekend’s slate of ACC games should be great. Though the conference lacks ranked teams,and will be overshadowed by the Big Ten and SEC once again, there is no shortage of nicematchups.

Clemson heads up to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels, Boston College and North CarolinaState will battle for their respective identities, and Navy takes on Wake Forest for the one-thousandth time in just the past few years.

All those games lead up to what should be a dandy. No. 23 Florida State is heading to Miami totake on the No. 13 Hurricanes in what will likely decide ACC supremacy. I feel like I have saidthat before…

If you have not already, you can check out the Big East preview HERE.

Clemson at North Carolina (3:30 ET)

THE LINE: North Carolina -2.5

THE PLOT: Two teams that were thought to be conference-title contenders are nowsitting in the middle of the pack. There’s only one way either of the two will break out, and itstarts with a win today.

This matchup pits two of the league’s best quarterbacks together, Clemson’s Kyle Parker and the Tar Heels’ T.J. Yates. It would not be out of the question to see the betterperformer of the two come out the victor.

THE PICK: Despite the success of each team’s offensive stars, the two schools mayvery well be known for their defenses. The Tar Heels have been hit hard with injuries, yet havestill played solid football.

The Tigers secondary may be one of the best in the conference, maybe the nation, and is led bysafety DeAndre McDaniel.

In the end though, I have to give the edge to the Tigers. North Carolina has not yet fullyovercome the penalty it was faced with the ineligibility of half its starters.

THE SCORE: Clemson 20, North Carolina 17

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Navy at Wake Forest (6:30 ET)

THE LINE: Navy -5.5

THE PLOT: Neither team has a great offense. The Midshipmen have a stellar rungame, but will face troubles if pressured late in the game. The Demon Deacons have showedglimpses of success in the passing game, but that was before it faced quarterback issues.

Navy has played tough football, and nearly beat an Atlantic Coast Conference team in Marylandto start the season.

Wake Forest has seen success, but was also undressed earlier in the year by Stanford.

THE PICK: While the two teams have a nice little history as of late, I think this gamesets the tone for future bouts. I think the Midshipmen will stymie the Demon Deacons and kill allmomentum. Navy is better coached and can play better on the road than most teams can at home.

Be prepared to see some sort of rushing record broke tomorrow night.

THE SCORE: Navy 31, Wake Forest 20

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No. 23 Florida State at No. 13 Miami (FL) (8:00 ET)

THE LINE: Miami (FL) -6.5

THE PLOT: This game will arguably be one of today’s top five games. It is not oftenthat the ACC boasts two ranked teams in a conference game–well, not lately.

The Seminoles’ only mistake was a bruising handed out by the Sooners. Miami similarly onlymade a single gaff this year, a big loss against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

If either teams wants to break away from the ACC-mold of embarrassment, they will need aconvincing win tonight during primetime.

THE PICK: Both teams sport impressive quarterbacks. The lone difference is thatChristian Ponder of Florida State has looked more consistent than Jacory Harrisof the ‘Canes.

If Ponder can get back to the Heisman-type ways he possessed late last season and early thisyear, FSU will have no problem shaking Miami’s speed.

THE SCORE: Florida State 27, Miami 26

LAST WEEKStraight up: 3-1Vs. spread: 1-3

OVERALLStraight up: 14-2Vs. spread: 6-10

(I failed to predict scores before Week One, but if you would like to count my predictions onWeek One from an outside source, you can add the following: Straight up 2-1, Vs. spread 0-3.)

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

Purdue QB David Blough cleared for spring practice

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In a stark change from most offseason news in the sport, Purdue has something positive personnel-wise to hang its hat on moving forward.

By way of the Indianapolis Star, head coach Jeff Brohm revealed Friday that David Blough is “way ahead of schedule” and has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which kicks off this coming Monday, for the Boilermakers.  Just how much of a participant the quarterback will be remains to be seen, though.

“He’s doing a great job and he will be out there at spring practice and will be participating,” Brohm said according to the Star. ‘Whether it will be fully that remains to be seen. He will be out there Day 1 and doing some portions of practice.

“We’ve got to make sure we protect him, especially in 11-on-11 settings. We’ll see how the first week goes if we can progress on that.”

Blough suffered a dislocated ankle in a November win over Illinois and missed the remainder of the 2017 season.  At the time of the injury, it was thought that it and the subsequent recovery process would keep the junior out of spring practice.

Blough had started the two games leading up to his season-ending injury, with Brohm confirming that the rising senior will be the starter as this offseason kicks off in earnest.  Elijah Sindelar, who reclaimed the starting job after Blough’s injury, will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL on which he played for the last month of the regular season plus the Boilermakers’ bowl game.

Illinois adds longtime NFL assistant; DC Hardy Nickerson given beefed-up title

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There was some movement on the coaching staff front for Lovie Smith Friday.

Illinois announced earlier today that Gill Byrd has been hired by Smith as the Fighting Illini’s safeties coach.  Byrd will also hold the title of passing-game coordinator.

“I’m very pleased to have Gill Byrd join the Illini coaching staff,” said Smith in a statement. “We’ve spent several seasons together in the NFL and I envision Gill bringing a great combination of knowledge and enthusiasm to our program. He will be a terrific influence on the young men he coaches, and, as good a coach as he is, he is probably an even better person.”

Byrd, who played his college football at San Jose State, has spent the past 19 seasons at the NFL level, coaching defensive backs during stops with the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, most recently, with the Buffalo Bills last season.  This will mark Byrd’s first-ever job at any level of college football.

In addition to the hiring of Byrd, the football program also confirmed that Hardy Nickerson has been given the additional title of assistant head coach.  Nickerson has served as the Illini’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for each of the past two seasons.

Texas to give Todd Orlando raise to $1.7 million per year

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Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the raises.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the University of Texas System Board of Regents are set to approve several athletics-related contracts next week, headlined by athletic director Chris Del Conte’s multi-million dollar six-year deal and a hefty raise for Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

Orlando, who joined Tom Herman when he came over from Houston prior to last season, was already one of 15 assistants who were making over $1 million in 2017. He was courted by several programs this offseason however and the cost to retain him on the 40 Acres didn’t come cheap as his amended contract is set to pay him a reported $1.7 million as part of a new four-year deal.

Also on tap for the board? The Statesman notes that new offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Herb Hand has a three-year contract awaiting approval worth nearly $640,000 annually.

While all those new contracts do add up for the Longhorns, it’s not like the burnt orange can’t afford it all as one of a handful of programs who topped $200 million in revenue last year.

Texas A&M athletic director: ‘Resource issues in ACC vs. SEC’

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CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd recently stopped in College Station to do a deep dive on one of college football’s biggest storylinesJimbo Fisher’s $75 million move from Florida State to Texas A&M.

While the money — some $90 million for the Aggies when all is said and done — is one of the more eye-catching parts of the story that are broken down, the comments from some at the school probably won’t go unnoticed by those in Fisher’s former conference.

“I’m not going to put words in Jimbo’s mouth, but there are resource issues in the ACC versus the SEC,” Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward told CBS Sports, answering part of the question as to why the national title-winning head coach made the move from one of the sport’s blue-bloods to one of the oft-labeled “sleeping giants.”

We’re guessing those in ACC territory will not take kindly to those comments and note that some schools in the league have no problem raising cash, such as Clemson when it comes to their new football facility that has everything from mini-golf to sleep specialists. They also would probably point out that the conference has just as many national titles in the past five years as the SEC does too.

Still, when you look at the larger picture, there’s little question that the SEC is ahead of the ACC when it comes to revenues as a whole and the slow pace of facilities upgrades in Tallahassee was one of the many public grumbles that Fisher made known about before leaving FSU.

Something says all those ACC-SEC football games in 2018 will see Woodward’s comments brought up again — especially when Clemson heads to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2.