'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.)

Jim Harbaugh is looking forward to seeing Chief Osceola and Renegade at the Orange Bowl

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 15:  Chief Osceola, mascot of the Florida State Seminoles plants a spear at midfield prior to a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher got together for a joint press conference in Miami today as the two coaches prepare to face one another in the Orange Bowl on December 30. Harbaugh said he is looking forward to the matchup but seemed to be much more interested in getting a chance to witness one of the pregame traditions of Florida State; Chief Osceola riding on Renegade and planting a spear in the turf.

“I’ve never been to a game at Florida State,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve always wanted to go there and see what that atmosphere was like in person. This will be as close as I’ve ever been to that. I’m excited for that. I know I’m going to get some chills when that Appaloosa comes riding out there.”

Of course, this isn’t exactly a home game for the Seminoles, so sometimes pregame traditions are put on ice for the bowl season. Knowing this, Harbaugh made his case and made sure everyone listening knows just how cool he thinks it is.

“I want to see that. That’s one of the cool things,” Harbaugh said. “We have cool things and other teams have cool things, but that is right up there as one of the coolest things.”

Fortunately for Harbaugh, he will indeed get a chance to witness this pregame routine in person. Florida State Associate Athletics Director Jason Dennard said on Twitter Chief Osceola and Renegade will make the trip to Miami from Tallahassee.

Houston reportedly closing in on a head coach; Kiffin and Miles still being considered

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 18:  Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches action prior to the University of Alabama A Day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 18, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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The Houston Cougars are reportedly hoping to have a new head coach named as soon as this coming weekend. As expected, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and former LSU head coach Les Miles are among the final candidates being considered for the job.

One candidate no longer to be in the mix, according to a report from Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle, is Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. That should be good news for Oklahoma, as it likely means Riley will be back in Norman for at least one more season to run the offense (and with Baker Mayfield coming back for 2017, the Sooners offense should continue to rack up some big numbers).

As noted by Duarte, five total candidates were vetted by Houston for the head coaching job. Kiffin, Miles and interim Houston coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite along with Riley all were checked by the university as a decision is approaching.

KD Cannon promised Matt Rhule Baylor will beat Boise State in Cactus Bowl

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  KD Cannon #9 of the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Baylor introduced new head coach Matt Rhule in a press conference setting today, and it would seem Rhule has already gotten some opportunities to speak to his new players in Waco. One player in particular delivered a promise to the new Bears head coach. Baylor wide receiver KD Cannon reportedly made a bowl game guarantee to Rhule.

Baylor started the season with a 6-0 record but dropped their last six games to enter the bowl season at just 6-6. The Broncos of Boise State finished the season with a 10-2 record and second in the Mountain Division behind Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference. Boise State has won six bowl game sin the last seven seasons between head coaches Chris Petersen (now at Washington) and Bryan Harsin.

Personally, I’m still trying to figure out how many people thought pairing Boise State and Baylor in a bowl game would be a good idea, considering the unfortunate story surrounding former Boise State and Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu. We can focus plenty on the non-controversial stuff leading up to the Cactus Bowl, but that is one story that cannot be totally overlooked either, especially given the current state of the Baylor football program.

Baylor and Boise State have never faced each other in football. The two will play in the Cactus Bowl in Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

Mark Emmert thought “Penn State’s season was spectacular”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 23:  NCAA president Mark Emmert speaks during a press conference at the NCAA's headquarters to announce sanctions against Penn State University's football program on July 23, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The sanctions are a result of a report that the university concealed allegations of child sexual abuse made against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
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There was a certain irony in seeing Penn State win and celebrate a Big Ten championship in Indianapolis on Saturday night. Penn State, five years after the horrifying revelations of the Jerry Sandusky scandal ripped through the program, university, and community, was slammed hard by the NCAA, whose offices are located in Indianapolis with sanction terms that were thought to be crippling for the program at the time in the summer of 2012.

So, with Penn State clinching the Big Ten title in the home city of the NCAA headquarters, what did NCAA President Mark Emmert have to say about it?

I thought Penn State’s season was spectacular,” Emmert said while taking questions at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York on Wednesday: “What coach [James] Franklin has done there, I think, is very, very impressive.”

Emmert has been criticized by many who have taken issue with the NCAA getting involved with any decisions regarding Penn State’s football program in the aftermath of the Sandusky fallout following the release of the Freeh Report, which the NCAA used in place of its own in-depth investigation.

“It’s great to see it bounce back and do well,” Emmert said of Penn State’s 11-2 season. “While people will occasionally say those sanctions were meant to cripple the university, that’s not true at all. I’ve always said and always believed Penn state is a wonderful university, because it is, and secondly it’s got great sports traditions.”

Emmert may say the sanctions dropped on Penn State were never meant to cripple the university, but that is exactly what a four-year postseason ban and a massive reduction of available scholarships (reduced to 15 per year as opposed to the typical 25) is intended to do. Regardless, Emmert had nothing but praise for Penn State’s 2016 season.

“How can you not be pleased that they’re playing good football again? That’s very good stuff.”