'Noles, 'Cuse (???) look to continue rolling in ACC, Big East play

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Boston College at No. 16 Florida State (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: Florida State -22

THE PLOT: Boston College is facing more quarterback concerns than arguably anyother BCS school. Freshman Chase Rettig is paced to make another start, his first sincerecovering from a minor injury and benching. The Eagles have lostthree consecutive games, marking it the longest losing streak since 1998, when it lost six in arow.

The Seminoles have their own streak going as well. Florida State has won four consecutivegames since losing 47-17 to No. 10 Oklahoma. During that streak, FSU has outscored opponentsby an average margin of 25.8 points. Quarterback Christian Ponder and running backJermaine Thomas have led the Seminoles by performing above expectations over thecourse of the win streak.

THE PICK: The Eagles possess the league’s worst passing defense, but have been No. 1in stopping the rushing attack. Having the best rush preventing defense is great, but Florida Statecan both pass and run.

Thomas has led a Seminoles backfield that has averaged nearly 260 rushing yards per game thepast four bouts. Boston College is giving up just 80 rushing yards per game, so this match canreally go either way. If the runs aren’t there, then Ponder can reach his receivers.

The Seminole quarterback has thrown for six scores and a lone interception during the winningstreak.

Hailing from Massachusetts, I am all too familiar with the Boston College program. I thinkthe Eagles are one of the most efficient and refined teams in the nation, but this is trulyan ugly stretch. Not having a consistent quarterback can kill a team, and calling up a freshmanscout team player to fill a depth chart void is not promising.

THE SCORE: Florida State 38, Boston College 13

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Pittsburgh at Syracuse (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: Syracuse -1

THE PLOT: It isn’t every week that you see the Orange lined as a favorite to win agame, especially against a Football Bowl Subdivision team. So for the Orange to be favored in agame against Pittsburgh boggles my mind.

The last time Syracuse was favored against a Football Bowl Subdivision team not fromthe Mid-American Conference, you would have to look back to 2006 when the Orange were aone-point favorite over Connecticut.

I know that Syracuse has played some great football–the 4-1 start is the best since an 8-2 startin 2001–but reality has to hit the Panthers at some point. Dave Wannstedt has beencriticized more as a head football coach than most any other professionals within their respectiveline of work. The Panthers have started out just 2-3, but are nine points shy of being 4-1 with itslone loss a 31-3 beat down from then-No. 19 Miami (FL).

THE PICK: Pittsburgh finds solidarity in a convincing Big East-opening win. What?You thought Pittsburgh’s season was over?

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh 28, Syracuse 17

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Army at Rutgers (East Rutherford, 2:00 ET)

THE LINE: Rutgers -7

THE PLOT: Neither team is having the season it imagined.

Rutgers was supposed to ride sophomore quarterback Tom Savage to the top of the BigEast in a down-year for the league. The Scarlet Knights barely won two games, one at FloridaInternational and another in New Brunswick. Then there’s the Tulane game, a 17-14 inexplicableloss; a game that saw Savage go down with an injury.

As for the Black Knights of West Point, wins have come often and easily. Army wonunconvincingly at Eastern Michigan, then dropped a three-point game to a tough, high-scoringHawaii team at home. Then the Knights shut-out North Texas and won notably at Duke. Aone-score loss at home to a tough MAC team in Temple was the lone skirmish before Armydestroyed Tulane 41-23 in New Orleans.

The four wins for the Black Knights is one shy of last year’s total of five, and Army actually stillhas a chance to reach ten wins for the first time since 1996.

THE PICK: This battle of Knights is going to come down to turnovers and fieldposition. The game will be played at the New Meadowlands Stadium, home to the NFL’s NewYork Jets and New York Giants. With the game being played on such a grand stage, home fieldadvantage may not necessarily be a factor.

These two schools have played each of the past three seasons, with Rutgers winning each game.This Saturday’s outcome will be different though.

THE SCORE: Army 21, Rutgers 17

LAST WEEK (ACC, Big East) Straight up: 4-2 Vs. spread: 2-3-1

OVERALL Straight up: 18-4 Vs. spread: 8-13-1

(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.)

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.