'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.)

Army on cusp of rare back-to-back bowl seasons for first time since 1984-85

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Army is taking on Temple on Saturday afternoon with a chance to punch the first postseason bowl ticket of the 2017 season. Other teams may already be bowl eligible, but Army will be the first team to have a chance to accept an invitation to a bowl game on Saturday if they can manage to get by the Temple Owls.

Army has a spot waiting for them in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth as long as they are bowl-eligible this season. At 5-2, the Black Knights can start making their bowl plans as soon as they win one more game. If they do clinch their bowl eligibility on Saturday, it will be the first time Army will go to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1984 and 1985 seasons. Army played in and won the short-lived Cherry Bowl in the 1984 season and the Peach Bowl in the 1985 season. After going to the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season for their first bowl trip since the 2010 season, Jeff Monken and his program are looking to make going to a bowl game a regular thing.

Army defeated Temple in the season opener a year ago, and Monken is aware that can be a motivating factor for Temple despite these Owls being a much different team from the AAC champions of last season.

”This is a tough football team that won their conference last year,” Monken said. ”They’ll have a ton of confidence and they feel as though they have to come in and win this game. We had the chance to come out with a win at their place, and I’m sure they’d love to return the favor.”

Monken took over the Army football program in 2014 after a successful run as head coach of Georgia Southern, then a powerhouse FCS program. His run at Army took a couple of years to get going, but Army has shed their losing ways under his watch, and that was highlighted by a long-awaited victory over Navy in last season’s Army-Navy Game. Picking up a win against Temple will continue to prove Army is continuing to improve as a program, and that also means Monken will potentially be finding himself on the radar in the coaching rumor mill. The Nebraska job has had some people mentioning Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, but perhaps Monken would be a name to keep an eye on as well. As long as that means Army is winning games, so be it.

Keep in mind this would not be the first time Army would have back-to-back bowl eligible seasons since the mid-1980s. The Knights have had winning seasons on multiple occasions since last going to back-to-back bowl games, but the bowl game picture was quite different in the 1980s than it is today. With an oversaturation of bowl games available to schools today, Army stands a much better chance of going to a bowl game this season even with just six or seven wins than they would have 30 years ago.

Ohio State unveils alternate helmet for Penn State game

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Contrary to previous internet uniform rumors, Ohio State’s alternate helmet for their big division showdown with Penn State next week is far closer to home to the traditional Ohio State look than some of the outside-the-box helmet designs that had been floating around in various rumor mills in Ohio State circles lately.

Ohio State is rolling out with an alternate gray uniform, for some reason (recruiting!), next week when the Buckeyes host Penn State. And to keep the look from head to toe, Ohio State will wear a gray helmet with a slightly abstract pattern seemingly mimicking camouflage.

Two years ago when Ohio State hosted Penn State, the Buckeyes took the field in an all-black uniform. The Buckeyes have also worn all-white uniforms (excluding the helmet) for road games against Michigan and Penn State in recent seasons.

Penn State, barring any unforeseen announcements, will stick with their traditional all-white look for the road game. Although, Penn State did wear a specially designed uniform this season a few weeks ago. It’s a new era, so never say never.

Ohio State is off this week. Penn State hosts Michigan Saturday night. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions meet in Columbus next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Big Ten lines up Thursday and Friday night football for 2018

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The Big Ten is planning ahead to buckle down and try to make Thursday night and Friday night football a thing in the conference. After breaking the ice on Thursday and Friday night football in the 2017 season, the conference has officially moved five games on the 2018 conference schedule to Thursday and Friday nights.

Purdue will host Northwestern in the Big Ten season opener on Thursday, August 30, marking the second straight season the Big Ten will kick off the college football season with a Thursday night football game. Indiana hosted Ohio State in a Thursday night season opener this season. The opening week of the season will continue the following night with Michigan State hosting Utah State and Wisconsin hosting Western Kentucky on Friday, August 21, 2018. This will mark the second straight season Wisconsin will open the season at home on a Friday night in Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers hosted Utah State on Friday, September 1 this season.

The three games on Thursday and Friday night in the opening week of the 2018 season keeps the Big Ten on the primetime lineup on various TV partners between ESPN, FOX Sports, and the Big Ten Network, although the programming specifics will come later on. But the idea of adding games to Thursday and Friday nights has been designed to add programming to TV partners and add content across all partner networks as part of the latest contracts with ESPN and FOX, along with the Big Ten Network.

The Big Ten has moved two additional games Friday nights next season as well. Illinois will host Penn State on Friday, September 21, 2018. Minnesota will host Indiana on Friday, October 26, 2018.

In statement, Mark Dantonio says LJ Scott’s ‘status will be affected for Saturday’s game, but he will play’

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At least on the field, LJ Scott‘s latest boneheaded misstep won’t prove too costly.

Thursday, it was reported that Scott was arrested Wednesday for the seventh time in the last year and a half for driving on a suspended license or similar offense.  There was some question as to whether this latest off-field incident will cost the running back playing time for Michigan State’s game this weekend against Indiana.

In a statement, head coach Mark Dantonio said it would. Kinda.  Sorta.

In what has been a lengthy process, LJ Scott now has a valid driver’s license, free of any restrictions. He has resolved the matter completely, and has paid a price, both financially and publicly. His status will be affected for Saturday’s game, but he will play.

Scott currently leads the Spartans with 408 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with three rushing touchdowns.  He’s coming off a career-high 194 yards in last Saturday’s win over Minnesota.