CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 21 Boise State

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2011 record: 12-1 overall, 6-1 in MWC (2nd)

2011 postseason: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (56-24 win over Arizona State)

2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 8/No. 6

Head coach: Chris Petersen (73-6 in six seasons at Boise State)

Offensive coordinator: Robert Prince (fourth season at Boise State, first as OC)

2011 offensive rankings: 40th rushing offense (171.9 ypg); 11th passing offense (309.4 ypg); 9th total offense (481.3 ypg); 5th scoring offense (44.2 ppg)

Returning offensive starters: three

Defensive coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (seventh season at Boise State, third as DC)

2011 defensive rankings: 17th rushing defense (110 ypg); 43rd passing defense (210.8 ypg); 16th total defense (320.8 ypg); 12th scoring defense (18.7 ppg)

Returning defensive starters: two

Location: Boise, Idaho

Stadium: Bronco Stadium (37,000; FieldTurf)

Last league title: 2010 (WAC co-champs with Hawaii and Nevada)

Schedule: [view]

Roster: [view]

2011 statistics: [view]

The Good
With TCU’s departure for the Big 12, the Broncos are the undisputed kings of the Mountain West ahead of its 2013 move to the Big East. Additionally, the program was able to stave off yet another offseason of multiple attempts by other schools to pry Petersen out of Boise. And those are indeed good things, because …

The Bad
The Broncos return five starters total — three on offense, two on defense. Included in those 17 lost starters are the greatest quarterback in the school’s storied history (Kellen Moore); its leading rusher (Doug Martin); leading receiver in yards and touchdowns (Tyler Shoemaker) along with another starter at the position; three starting offensive linemen; the top four tacklers from 2012; and the entire starting defensive line. To say the Broncos will be a bit wet behind the ears this season would serve as a massive understatement.

The Unknown
Just how the Broncos will replace the on-field production and, perhaps more importantly, the off-field leadership Moore brought to the table will likely be the most significant factor in determining if Boise State can win 10-plus games for the seventh consecutive season under Petersen.  Joe Southwick is expected to emerge from the four-man competition and grab hold of the unenviable task of stepping into Moore’s immense shoes.  Certainly having some experience returning at receiver and along the line and will help ease the transition for Southwick — or whomever earns the starting job.  Unfortunately for the Broncos, there will be a very steep learning curve for the signal caller.

Make-or-break game: at Michigan State, Aug. 31
Yep, with all of the greenness at nearly every position, Boise will open the season against hands-down the most talented team they will see all year long during the regular season– and on the road, no less.  The rest of the non-conference schedule (Miami of Ohio, BYU and Southern Miss) will be manageable, while the conference slate is a multi-layered cupcake.  The game against the Spartans, however, will show whether the Broncos are ready to maintain its presence on the national stage — or if they’ll take a one-year hiatus as they gain some much-needed experience.

Heisman hopeful: None
With Moore and Martin out of the picture, there’s no one on the Broncos’ roster, at least at this point in time, who would merit even a leaping, stretching inclusion.

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Mountain West preview, vote

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.

USC the media’s choice to win 2017 Pac-12 title

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Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season.  Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.

At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season.  Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.

Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively.  Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.

Also of note from the opening of media days:

  • The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well.  The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games.  New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
  • Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15.  In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
  • The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.

USC confirms K Matt Boermeester won’t return to Trojans

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What was rumored a few months ago has been confirmed.

In early February, USC announced that an unspecified code of conduct issue had led the football program to indefinitely suspend Matt Boermeester.  At the time, reports had an incident involving the placekicker’s ex-girlfriend as the trigger for the suspension, although no details surrounding that situation were released.

Fast-forward to late July, and the school officially confirmed that Boermeester is no longer a Trojan.

“Boermeester… won’t return because of a student code of conduct issue,” the football program wrote in its preseason notes package.

In his first season as USC’s starting kicker last year, Boermeester connected on 75 percent of his 25 field goal attempts and all but one of his 54 point afters.  His 46-yard field goal with no time left on the clock pushed USC past Penn State in an epic comeback win in the Rose Bowl.

The 18 field goals on which Boermeester connected in 2016 were one shy of tying the school’s single-season record.

Michael Brown is the only other kicker currently listed on USC’s online roster.  Brown has yet to attempt a kick at the collegiate level.

Report: Ole Miss wants NCAA to require two Miss. St. players to attend hearing

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Thanks to off-field events, the Egg Bowl rivalry has ratcheted up a notch or 12 in the last week or so — after ratcheting up several levels the previous months.

Monday, ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach reported that it was a lifelong Mississippi State fan who discovered the infamous call to a number connected to an escort service and led to Hugh Freeze being forcefully ousted at Ole Miss.  Two days later, Schlabach is reporting that attorneys representing the university and former coaches accused of wrongdoing are asking the NCAA that it require two Mississippi State football players, Leo Lewis and Kobe Jones, to appear at their hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions later this year.

At this point in time, it’s unclear whether either player has received a notice to appear.

Jones, a four-star 2016 signee, has alleged that an Ole Miss booster paid him upwards of $15,000 as an inducement to go to the Rebels before he signed with the rival Bulldogs. “Lewis also accused Rebels boosters and former coaches of arranging for him to receive free transportation, lodging, food and meals and memorabilia and clothing from Rebel Rags, a retail store in Oxford,” Schlabach wrote Wednesday.

The Oxford retailer filed a lawsuit last month against, among others, Jones and Lewis alleging “defamation, slander, conspiracy and commercial disparagement stemming from false statements made to the NCAA.” On at least three occasions, the Bulldog duo spoke to the NCAA and its investigators regarding their allegations made against the rival program.

From Schlabach’s latest report:

The NCAA previously denied Ole Miss lawyers’ requests to interview Jones and Lewis about allegations they made during the NCAA’s investigation of the Rebels. In fact, Lewis’ attorneys stopped the second of three interviews with NCAA investigators after Ole Miss’ lawyers attempted to cross-examine him. Ole Miss wasn’t allowed to have an attorney at his third interview.

Jones and Lewis were provided partial immunity by NCAA investigators before they were interviewed.

The NCAA has accused the Ole Miss football program of 21 violations, 15 of which are the most serious under The Association’s penalty structure.  Ole Miss self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2017 season as well as stripped itself of seven scholarships.  Additionally, they will forfeit all postseason revenues for the upcoming season, a number in excess of $7 million.  It’s expected the NCAA will add to those self-imposed sanctions.

The university received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA back in February, releasing its response to the NOA early last month.

Former Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt and his attorney filed a lawsuit earlier this month as well, alleging that Freeze and other Ole Miss officials engaged in a clandestine smear campaign to pin the NCAA investigation into the Rebels’ football program in large part on Nutt. The lawsuit levied some rather serious allegations, including Freeze allegedly conducting off-the-record conversations with prominent journalists and recruits to falsely spread the narrative that the lion’s share of NCAA recruiting violations occurred under Nutt’s watch.