'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.)

Iowa linebacker announces transfer

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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been known to have a program that could play some solid defense more often than not, but the depth at linebacker just got a bit more shallow this Memorial Day weekend. Redshirt sophomore Anthony Garbutt has announced he is leaving the program.

“After prayer, consulting with my family and Coach Ferentz, I have made the decision to leave the University of Iowa,” Garbutt announced in a statement on Twitter. “I am thankful for my years as a Hawkeye and will continue to support the franchise.”

Garbutt went on to announce he will make a decision after going through a recruiting process. No timeline for his decision was announced.

Garbutt still has three more years of eligibility remaining, although he has already burned one redshirt year after joining the Class of 2015 at Iowa. If he transfers to another FBS program, he will have to sit out the upcoming 2017 season and lose a year of eligibility in the process. He would be available to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a lower division football program.

Report: Navy’s football stadium will host NHL outdoor game between Caps and Leafs

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The NHL has enjoyed the success of their growing number of outdoor games. What started out as an attempt to steal the New Years Day spotlight from the college football bowl season has grown to include additional outdoor games around the country in February and March as part of the league’s Stadium Series. With an abundance of outdoor games, finding new venues to host the outdoor games offers new opportunities to showcase a wide range of stadiums. Navy is now set to get in on the NHL outdoor fun.

The Associated Press reports Navy’s Navy-Marine Corp Memorial Stadium will be used for one game in the NHL’s Stadium Series on March 3, 2018. The Washington Capitals will “host” the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 34,000-seat venue in Annapolis, Maryland. A formal announcement is expected to be made on Monday, Memorial Day. It’s also the same day the NHL kicks off the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators and commissioner Gary Bettman gives his annual state of the league address.

The New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres were previously slated to play in the NHL Winter Classic in Citi Field, home of baseball’s New York Mets.

Heinz Field, the home of the Pitt Panthers, was used to host the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, becoming the first college football stadium to host an outdoor NHL game. Of course, Heinz Field is also home to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, so this college stadium host came with an asterisk. Heinz Field hosted a Stadium Series game this past February between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Michigan’s Michigan Stadium hosted the Winter Classic in 2014 between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. TCF Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, hosted a game in the NHL’s Stadium Series in 2016 between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks.

There are still a good handful of stadiums worth considering for future NHL outdoor games, especially in the Big Ten. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium has long been suspected of being a potential target for an outdoor game, but any plans involving Beaver Stadium may have to wait until after the stadium’s facilities are upgraded as part of the school’s upcoming athletics department renovation. Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium could also be an attractive candidate for an outdoor game in the future as well.

A couple other venues for possible Stadium Series game sin the future should include the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Rose Bowl. The NHL has already played an outdoor game in Dodger Stadium, back in 2014, so the league is not afraid to play outside in LA (and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara hosted a game in 2015). If they return, playing in either historic stadium would seem to make sense, although it is possible the NHL would prefer to wait until the new home of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Chargers is completed before making a trip to LA again.

Alabama DB Tony Brown has chance to prove he’s fastest NCAA athlete in nation

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Forget the 40-yard dash. Alabama defensive back Tony Brown is setting his focus on the 100-meter dash.

Brown, a track star in addition to being a fixture on the Alabama defense, qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the 100-meter dash after finishing in the top 10 at the NCAA East Regional at Kentucky. Brown is a two-time All-American on the track.

Let this serve as another example of the caliber of athletes Nick Saban is bringing in to his program. Recruiting analysts have been noting for years the importance of recruiting athletes with skills in more than one sport, and Alabama has that with Brown. Brown was one of the nation’s top hurdlers in high school, and that success on the track has continued in Tuscaloosa.

Brown brings the pain on the football field too, of course. Just ask former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams what kind of damage Brown can bring.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey still not a fan of early signing period

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The SEC will gather in Destin, Florida this week for the annual spring meetings. This will be the first time the conference has come together since the adoption of an early signing period in college football, which is something that has not been well-received by some in the SEC. Among the dissenters in the early signing period conversation has been SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who says he is still no fan of the new recruiting calendar.

I still don’t think that’s best,” Sankey said in an interview with the Associated Press last week.

“I think the early signing date has an impact on high school football,” Sankey said. “I think moving the recruiting calendar has an impact on high school football. I think we all have to be concerned about football and its strength and health at every level. Whether it’s a minority voice or a singular voice, I think those are important issues to consider.”

The stance by some around the SEC against the idea of the early signing period is notably different compared to just a few years ago. At the spring meetings in 2014, the SEC football coaches voted unanimously in favor of an early signing period starting on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Former SEC commissioner Mike Slive, however, expressed his preference to keep the only signing day in February.

As far as the voice coming from the commissioner’s office in the SEC is concerned, the narrative has not changed following the changing of the guard.