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CFT predicts: Conference USA standings


As we look ahead to the 2011 college football season, we take with us the lessons we learned from seasons past. We calculate, scrutinize, dissect and digest schedules, returning starters, coaching changes, injuries, and yes, even hunches, and spew it back in the form of how we think each of the 11 Division 1 FBS conferences — and independents — will pan out by year’s end.

Of course, these are merely our opinions. Feel free, as we know you will, to disagree. We know that’s why you really come here anyway.

Here are our predictions for Conference USA:

Ben Kercheval’s C-USA champion: Houston
 John Taylor’s C-USA champion: UCF

Ben’s take
If you like offense, hate defense, or are content with a disproportionate amount of the former over the latter, then Conference USA is likely your conference affiliation of choice. And there promises to be plenty of offense this year with Case Keenum returning from an ACL tear for Houston, Kyle Padron starting another year in SMU’s run-and-shoot offense and Austin Davis finishing his career under center for Southern Miss. Indeed, C-USA is truly a conference of great system quarterbacks and even better offensive minds.

In the East, I like Southern Miss over Central Florida. Both teams return practically their entire offense, but the Golden Eagles have a veteran advantage over the Knights on defense. Plus, Southern Miss gets UCF at home.

In the West, Houston should bounce back from a tough, injury-plagued 5-7 2010 campaign. Kennum, who has been granted a sixth year of eligibility, will pick up where he left off on his way to breaking just about every NCAA passing record.

Regardless, the East and West divisions of Conference USA should be anywhere between a two and three-team race. And for a conference that prides itself on great offense, it should be an exciting, high-octane race at that.

John’s take
While it will hardly garner much attention as compared to Big Six BcS battles, the race for the Conference USA title could be the most fascinating and exciting one in the country, even as it will likely happen well under the radar. No less than five schools will have a legitimate shot at winning either the East or West divisional titles.

In the former division, UCF will likely be the preseason favorite according to most prognosticators, although Southern Miss is talented enough to challenge. The game of the year in the East will pit the two schools against each other Nov. 12 — in Hattiesburg, a potentially huge advantage for the Golden Eagles.

In the West, Houston will welcome the return of a healthy Keenum as it attempts to rebound from a disappointing, injury-riddled season. Standing in the Cougars’ way for a return to the conference championship game are a pair of formidable obstacles: SMU and Tulsa tied for the Western division title last season, and it appears both school are ready for another run at an overall conference crown.

We’ll see a repeat from last season, with the Oct. 28 SMU-Tulsa game — my pick is the Mustangs — deciding who will play UCF in the conference championship game.

More predictions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC, Independents

CFT’s preseason Top 25

Emails indicate LSU thought Florida was using hurricane to duck playing Oct. 8 game

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 17:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers prepares to run the ball against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Well, this has the potential to get mildly interesting.

With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the area, the LSU-Florida game originally scheduled for Oct. 8 in Gainesville was initially postponed.  A week later, the SEC announced that the game had been rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge after South Alabama (LSU) and Presbyterian (UF) agreed to be bought out of their respective game contracts for that date.

Some, though, initially thought that UF was looking to duck playing LSU after the latter offered to host the Gators that October weekend; play in Gainesville either Sunday or Monday; or even having the game played at a neutral site.  In that vein, through a public records request, WRBZ-TV in Baton Rouge obtained interoffice emails from LSU which showed the athletic department staff, as well as regent R. Blake Chatelain, was “frustrated with the handling of the postponed football contest against Florida earlier this month.”

In particular, athletic director Joe Alleva intimated that Florida didn’t want to play, period, because it would potentially help the Gators in their divisional race.

From the television station’s report:

Although, in an exchange with Chatelain, Alleva suspected Florida knew avoiding a game with LSU secured their spot in a playoff.

“… If they lose they would lose the east. Their schedule is easier than Tennessee (sic) if they wanted to play we would be playing here or there,” Alleva wrote after Chatelain questioned why Florida would want to avoid a game with the Tigers.

Chatelain wrote, “Florida would want to play as much as us… Would they not?”

Alleva initiated the conversation with Chatelain by writing, “This is a joke” when he forwarded news of the SEC announcing the Georgia-South Carolina contest had been delayed a day for the storm.

“What a joke,” Michael Bonnette, the communications director for LSU Athletics, chimed in.

Around that time, it was thought that Florida could gain an advantage over SEC East rival Tennessee by playing one fewer conference game and potentially claiming the division and a spot in the conference championship game by virtue of a better winning percentage than UT despite losing in the head-to-head matchup.  However, in announcing the rescheduled game, the SEC revealed that both LSU and Florida would have been ineligible to compete for the SEC title this season had the game not been played.

Arizona RB Nick Wilson ‘out for an extended period of time’

TUCSON, AZ - OCTOBER 15: Running back Nick Wilson #28 of the Arizona Wildcats stiff arms defensive back Marvell Tell III #7 of the USC Trojans during the second quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona. USC won 48-14. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
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With four losses in a row, Arizona’s season is quickly taking on water, and this development certainly won’t help.

It’s believed that Nick Wilson sustained some sort of injury to his right knee in the Week 8 loss to USC.  The specific nature of the injury hasn’t been detailed; however, head coach Rich Rodriguez indicated that it’s an injury that will sideline the running back for a significant number of games.

Wilson’s 320 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns are tops among Wildcat backs this season. However, he’s rushed for just 66 yards the last five games — he had been dealing with an ankle issue — and doesn’t have a touchdown in that span.

Wilson’s latest injury continues the depth issues the Wildcats have experienced in the backfield. Late last month, J.J. Taylor, still third on the team in rushing with 261 yards, suffered a broken left ankle and is out for the year.

Given the injuries, Rodriguez is down to using converted wide receivers and walk-ons at the position. From

With recently converted running back Tyrell Johnson also less than 100%, wide out Samajie Grant is listed as a co-starter at running back with Zach Green. Grant had been splitting reps between wide receiver and running back the past few weeks, but all indications are that he has been getting all his reps in the back field.

Walk-on Brandon Leon is listed as the third string running back. He had his first collegiate carries late against USC, carrying 4 times for 18 yards.

Grant is currently tied for second on the team… in receptions with 19.  Green’s 164 yards rushing are fifth on the team.

Syracuse staffer reprimanded for contact with BC player during sideline scuffle

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey (2) is sacked by Boston College linebacker Sharrieff Grice (26) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
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One member of the Syracuse football program has had his wrist publicly slapped in connection to an in-game incident over the weekend.

In the first quarter of the Week 8 win over Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Orange quarterback Eric Dungey threw an interception to the Eagles’ William Harris and ultimately tackled Harris on the visiting team’s sidelines. Or, more specifically, Dungey slammed Harris to the ground and, eventually, pushed another BC player into some equipment.

That was part of a brief brouhaha that was quickly defused, but not before a ‘Cuse staffer appeared to put his hands on Harris as well.

That staffer has subsequently been identified as Brad Wittke, the football program’s director of operations. That staffer has also been publicly reprimanded for his role in the incident.

“I hold all members of our athletics program to highest standard of conduct, and support the Atlantic Coast Conference’s commitment to sportsmanship,” athletic director John Wildhack said in a statement. “I’ve spoken with Brad and he fully understands that his actions were not appropriate.”

“I apologize to William Harris, Coach Addazio and the entire Boston College football team for my actions Saturday,” Wittke said in his statement. “While trying to prevent the situation from becoming worse I made contact with William, causing him to fall to the ground. I take responsibility for that and regret that it happened.”

Whether the public reprimand will be enough to satisfy BC head coach Steve Addazio, who called for the ACC to look into the situation, is unclear.

Ex-Clemson WR Demarre Kitt tweets he’s committed to Colorado State

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 27: Demarre Kitt #8 of the Clemson Tigers is interfered with while trying to make a catch during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
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After a nearly two-year absence, it appears Demarre Kitt is headed back to the FBS level.

On his personal Twitter account, Kitt announced that he has committed to Colorado State and continuing his collegiate playing career with the Rams. Since leaving Clemson in December of 2014, Kitt has played for at least two different junior colleges — Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Ventura (Calif.) Junior College.

In his lone season at Clemson, Kitt had five receptions for 47 yards. A four-star member of Clemson’s 2014 recruiting class, Kitt was rated as the No. 16 receiver in the country and the No. 11 player at any position in the state of Georgia.

As Kitt will be coming in as a JUCO transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.