CFT predicts: Mountain West standings

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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 the 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 the Mountain West:

Ben’s take
The Mountain West thought that it would be inching closer to becoming a newly-minted member of the BCS’s automatic qualifying conferences by adding WAC powerhouse Boise State.

Then TCU announced it is leaving for the Big East after this season, Utah bolted for the Pac-12 and BYU pursued football independence.

Oops.

But regardless of the MWC’s place among college football’s best conferences, the Broncos are expected to make an immediate impact as first-year members. Boise State loses a talented receiving duo in Titus Young and Austin Pettis to the NFL, but at this point I’m convinced Kellen Moore (he’s so dreamy) could make my grandmother a 1,000-yard receiver. Running back Doug Martin returns from a 1,200-yard junior season and should be able to take some of the pressure off Moore. The Broncos also get TCU and Air Force at home this year (they just won’t be able to wear all blue uniforms).

I have Air Force at the No. 2 spot not so much because of what the Falcons have, but what TCU doesn’t. I’ll never underestimate Gary Patterson’s recruiting tactics and ability to plug guys into his system, but the Horned Frogs have some serious hurdles to jump over in 2011. Replacing quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver Jeremy Kerley — both have gone on to the NFL — won’t be easy, and TCU has road games at Boise State, San Diego State and Air Force.

Rocky Long inherits an elevated, senior-laden program in San Diego State from Brady Hoke, so the Aztecs will do pretty well in 2011.

Colorado State, Wyoming, UNLV and New Mexico all have work to do to improve in the win/loss column.

John Taylor’s take
In with the new, out with the old, which will be a wash-rinse-repeat cycle next year at this time as well. Such is the storyline for the Mountain West in 2011. Not so unexpectedly, both the new and the soon-to-be-old schools will likely be the ones staking a claim to conference bragging rights — and another potential BcS bid — at the end of the year.

Even as it will be its first year in the MWC, Boise State will be the prohibitive favorites, based in part on Broncos’ past success in the WAC and in large part to returning 14 starters from last year’s 12-1 squad, including one of the likely Heisman frontrunners in Moore. The Horned Frogs, on the other hand, return just eight offensive/defensive starters, the second-lowest total in the country, just ahead of defending national champion Auburn.

The biggest loss for TCU will be Dalton, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the school’s history whose leadership may be missed even more than his on-field production. Obviously, the Nov. 12 showdown in Boise — originally scheduled as a home game for TCU — will very likely determine the conference champion.

Both Air Force and San Diego State should be improved, but not to the point where either is ready to challenge the conference heavyweights.

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

CFT’s preseason Top 25

Boise State reportedly looking at replacing blue turf in 2019

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Boise State is exploring replacing their famous blue turf… with yet more blue turf.

Perhaps one of college football’s most recognized landmarks thanks to its quirky color, the school is looking at a fresh set of FieldTurf for Albertsons Stadium in a move that may come as soon as the 2018 campaign wraps up.

“We’re talking about it,” Athletic Director Curt Apsey told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “It’s getting to that point to where we’re going to have to make a change. It will remain blue if anyone asks.

“It’s a lifespan more than anything. I’m going to assume that the weather here in Boise does not help the life of it. That’s a guess on my part, but when you start getting into that eight, 10, 12-year range, in the past that’s when we’ve usually made the change.”

The current stadium field was installed back in 2010 and it has gone through various replacements over the years since the very first blue turf was put in place back in 1986. The report from the Press-Tribune and Apsey’s comments certainly make this seem like it’s a done deal but at a reported cost of nearly $1 million for the new surface, it would not be a quick or cheap fix for the school.

Broncos fans can rest easy knowing that the team’s signature color will be sticking around at the very least, even if the actual field itself gets a bit of an upgrade sometime next year.

Report: Ole Miss receives Committee on Infractions’ response to school appeal

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There’s been so much back-and-forth between Ole Miss, Michigan and former quarterback Shea Patterson that you’d be forgiven thinking that the Rebels’ actual NCAA case itself was all over as far as the school was concerned. That certainly isn’t accurate of course and one of the final steps for the program to learn their fate could be set for release in the next few hours or days.

Per Jackson Clarion-Ledger Ole Miss beat writer Antonio Morales, Ole Miss has received a response on their appeal from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and will soon publish a response after lawyers have had a chance to work through it.

The Rebels had appealed to have their 2018 postseason ban overturned and restrictions on official visits lifted, among other things. The school does have 14 days to respond to the decision but appeals in general are rarely successful and the extra bit of arguing tends to be nothing but extra billable hours for lawyers working on the case.

Depending on the outcome, that should just about wrap things up in Oxford after the school was found to have lacked institutional control in the football program after numerous violations under former head coach Hugh Freeze. Ole Miss remains involved in the waiver appeal of former players like Patterson but this could very well be a closing of the books on a rather turbulent few years of back-and-forth with the NCAA.

Oklahoma State adding gigantic new video board to Boone Pickens Stadium

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While most folks are resigned to getting a new flat screen during the holidays or right around the Super Bowl, Oklahoma State is making their purchase this summer and upgrading the Cowboys’ viewing experience significantly at Boone Pickens Stadium as a result.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the school confirmed that the team’s already remodeled home is getting an upgraded Jumbotron that is the eighth-biggest video board at a college football stadium in the country. In addition to packing in the pixels in a full-high definition display, the new board is set to measure in at 56 feet tall by 110 feet wide and will be mounted just above the east end zone on the outside of the OSU Athletics Center that abuts the field.

“This board not only modernizes the game day experience in Boone Pickens Stadium, but it also brings Oklahoma State to the forefront in this area,” said Athletic Director Mike Holder. “We have taken input from fans and I believe that adding a premium board like this is a game-changer for all of us who attend.

Installation will begin in July and should be finalized by well ahead of fall camp with a target of August 1st for completion. Veteran manufacturer Daktronics will build the board while a local Oklahoma City firm will design the supports. The program notes that this screen will be especially bright compared to other installations by several factors in order to account for the glare of the sun hitting the board.

The entire setup will check in at just a tad bit smaller than rival Texas ‘Godzillatron’ at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium but will otherwise be one of the largest in the Big 12. Given how quickly the Cowboys tend to put up points in Mike Gundy’s offense, chances are it will get a nice workout when games start to roll around this fall in Stillwater as well.

Florida’s Cece Jefferson expected back for start of camp

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There’s a sizable sliver of a silver lining involving the health of Florida’s most productive defensive lineman.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Cece Jefferson would be sidelined for four months after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week; such a timeline would’ve had the lineman out until the middle of August, after summer camp had started. Thursday, however, brought word that Jefferson is instead expected to be recovered in time for the start of camp in early August.

It should be noted that, as of yet, the football program has not publicly addressed Jefferson’s status moving forward.

Jefferson was a consensus five-star prospect, rated as the No. 2 strongside defensive end in the Class of 2015; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 7 player overall on 247Sports.com’s composite board.

This past season, Jefferson led the Gators with 13.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. After considering early entry into the 2018 NFL draft, the 6-1, 242-pound lineman opted to return to Gainesville for one more season.