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Predictions 101 — Week 6

Richt Spurrier Getty Images

The first month of the season is in the books and now it’s time to really get after it. We’ve got Top-10 matchups and season-defining showdowns.

Yep, no more games involving Towson, rookie mistakes, extracurricular activities and bad predictions.

Last week, we went 4-3 straight and 3-4 versus “the number.” We had thoughts about this sort of thing after officials in Stillwater didn’t catch that fumble in the final seconds, but it’ll generally even out.

We’re not conceding this to be a rebuilding year at P101. It’s been rough with the smaller sampling of games, but we’re gonna turn this around right now.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Oct. 4, thru Sat., Oct. 6)

1) No. 5 Georgia at No. 6 South Carolina
Sat., Oct. 6 — 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

There’s a lot to like on each side, much of it nearly identical, making it quite hard to make the call.

When you think of Georgia’s one-two punch of freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, memories of how South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore similarly burst upon the SEC scene two years ago (against the Bulldogs, no less) come to mind.

Yeah, Lattimore is still around. The veteran has been through a bunch of stuff, paid his dues and isn’t one to let these young bulls take center stage in his house … but, of course, that’s not entirely up to him.

Both defenses will have their hands full, but they each also have amazing playmakers. Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute wrecking crew. Meanwhile, Bulldog linebacker Jarvis Jones seems to be everywhere, causing havoc for opposition offenses just the same.

Georgia’s balanced attack (285.6 yards passing, 250.4 rushing), which has scored 41 or more points in all five games this season, is equipped to neutralize some of South Carolina’s pass rush from the edge. Accounting for that hard charging ground game will be the Cocks’ No. 1 priority. Play action will give Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray those extra half-seconds in the pocket to do some damage downfield.

Again, the same can be said when you reverse the roles, but in our opinion, to a lesser degree. We like Mark Richt’s offensive line better.

The way Georgia handled itself on the road at Missouri on Sept. 8, scoring 32 second-half points to post a 41-20 come-from-behind victory, is another factor in this decision.

The Bulldogs, who have dropped the last two in this series that began in 1894 and have never lost three in a row, didn’t need to beat the Gamecocks last year to take the SEC East. This season looks a lot different in the East and it seems to be a requirement.

Opening point spread: South Carolina by 2 1/2

The pick: Georgia 28-27

2) No. 4 LSU at No. 10 Florida
Sat., Oct. 6 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

The battles to control the line of scrimmage in this showdown are going to be fascinating.

Florida’s improved offensive line will test itself against one of the best fronts in the land. On the flipside, LSU’s sledgehammer attack will provide a gauge on how far Will Muschamp’s defense has come in his second year at The Swamp.

Both quarterbacks will find themselves under siege. In Jeff Driskel’s case that’s primarily because the LSU defensive line is all-world. Although the Gator pass rush is a notch below what the Tigers have to offer, Zach Mettenberg’s lack of mobility evens that out.

Scoring opportunities don’t figure to be plentiful, so which ever offense can manage to stay in rhythm for decent stretches of plays will end up with the edge.

We’re giving Florida a long look. Home field advantage and an extra week to prepare are always huge factors. However, there was a huge gap between the teams when LSU showed its dominance in last season’s 41-11 victory in Death Valley. We know both squads are considerably different than last year’s editions, but how much?

Consistency is king, but when your next five opponents are Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Alabama and Mississippi State, and you just got done slugging it out with Auburn, not using your top-gear versus Towson is somewhat understandable.

We expect most people to be scared off by the Tigers’ recent sloppiness — turnovers, penalties, red-zone ineffectiveness — but we’re banking on Les Miles using that to bring focus to his troops. Remember, he still has the horses and they all hear what you’ve been saying about them.

Opening point spread: LSU by 2 1/2

The pick: LSU 17-13

3) No. 8 West Virginia at No. 11 Texas
Sat., Oct. 6 — 7 p.m. ET, FOX

No disrespect to Baylor, but announcing yourselves as a contender in the Big 12 will never be about beating the Bears at home. Going to Austin and taking something away from the Longhorns is an entirely different story. After all, Texas is why the league is still around in the first place … and joinable by West Virginia.

So have at it, Mountaineers. Just understand that giving up 63 points to Baylor does not bode well for your chances.

West Virginia wideouts Stedman Bailey (13 catches, 303 yards and five touchdowns vs. Baylor) and Tavon Austin (only 14 receptions for 215 yards and two scores) will help Geno Smith post a set of nice numbers, Heisman worthy, but nothing approaching the 45-for-51, 656-yard, eight-touchdown day he had versus the Bears.

The Mountaineers will be facing the best defense they’ve faced in nearly a year (since getting roughed up by LSU, 47-21) and they can’t really counter with much in that regard. West Virginia currently ranks 94th in scoring defense, 106th in total defense and 118th in pass defense.

Opening point spread: Texas by 6 1/2

The pick: Texas 41-38

4) No. 21 Nebraska at No. 12 Ohio State
Sat., Oct. 6 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Last year against Ohio State, the Cornhuskers were able to dig themselves out of a 21-point hole at home … not too different from the 27-10 deficit they erased last Saturday in their victory over Wisconsin.

But, when Nebraska falls behind in the Horseshoe, there will be no such rally. The Buckeye defense will turn up the heat and quarterback Braxton Miller, who was sidelined during last season’s Husker comeback, will bleed time of the clock in bunches.

With Taylor Martinez at the controls, the Nebraska offense has the ability to be similarly effective, but the warning signs of turnovers, penalties and mental mistakes in their own stadium last week don’t bode well for a contest in Columbus.

Ohio State has really been impressive at the line of scrimmage … you know … “old man football” stuff. With that to rely on, Urban Meyer bags another big one.

Opening point spread: Ohio State by 4 1/2

The pick: Ohio State 27-20

5) No. 23 Washington at No. 2 Oregon
Sat., Oct. 6 — 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i.

The Huskies stunned then-No. 8 Stanford last Thursday night, holding the powerful Cardinal running game to just 65 yards. Forcing Tree QB Josh Nunes to try and win his first road game with his arm by stacking the box was a good game plan.

The Ducks, however, are a different animal. They ain’t no tree and are nearly impossible to make one-dimensional.

Let’s not get too caught up in Washington’s new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Yes, we saw him beat Oregon in 2009, when he was at Boise State. But we also saw Chip Kelly’s Ducks torch Tennessee’s defense a year later after Wilcox moved to Knoxville.

San Diego State and LSU ran for 199 and 242 yards, respectively, on Washington. Expect more of that at Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks have won 27 of their last 28. And when you add 200-plus yards via Marcus Mariota’s arm and that speedy receiving corps, this game is going to get ugly.

On the other side of the ball, Oregon’s active defensive front seven will keep Husky tailback Bishop Sankey in check and pester quarterback Keith Price all night.

Opening point spread: Oregon by 24

The pick: Oregon 56-21

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

No. 17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech
Sat., Oct. 6 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ABC

Once again, the USOTW prediction comes courtesy of Marc Doche (@MDoche) from the P101 satellite office in Burbank, Calif.

It would appear that the wrong team is the favorite in this Big 12 matchup. After all, it’s Texas Tech that enters with an unblemished record, elite quarterbacking and a top-ranked defense.

Yes, you read that right, the 167.5 yards per game the Red Raiders are allowing is tops in the nation and the 10.8 points they allow ranks fifth. The numbers are admittedly built at the expense of second-rate opposition, but this sort of thing isn’t what we’ve come to expect from this bunch and is worth noting.

What hasn’t changed in Lubbock is a prolific aerial attack led by senior quarterback Seth Doege, who has tossed 15 touchdowns against just three interceptions for the nation’s seventh-ranked passing offense. He should feel comfortable against a Sooner defense that has forced just one turnover all season.

Bob Stoops’ squads have won 18 consecutive regular-season games following a defeat, a position they find themselves in after losing at home to Kansas State two weeks ago. But, the Red Raiders know all about halting Sooner streaks.

Harken back to last year when Texas Tech snapped Oklahoma’s streak of 39 victories at home. Add to that three consecutive Sooner losses in Lubbock and we get the impression Stoops would have preferred Tommy Tuberville’s squad relocated to the SEC.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma by 8

The pick: Texas Tech 34-24

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Miami at No. 9 Notre Dame at Chicago
Sat., Oct. 6 — 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Yeah, it isn’t entirely natural to call this a rivalry game since they haven’t played in the regular season since 1990, but it seems just like yesterday that “Catholics vs. Convicts” t-shirts were top sellers and the Hurricanes and Fighting Irish were busy denying each other national championships.

Prior to the epic showdowns in 1988, 1989 and 1990, the series was best known for merely being Notre Dame’s warm-weather season-ender in years that didn’t call for them to play USC at the L.A. Coliseum during Thanksgiving weekend.

With the Fighting Irish’s new scheduling arrangement with the ACC, this rivalry could be on its way to re-ignition.

The two teams did meet in the 2010 Sun Bowl. The Hurricanes gave that one away, 33-17.

Miami isn’t the best team on the first half of Notre Dame’s schedule, but it could be the one that’s hardest for the Irish to handle. This U isn’t THE U, but it is the fastest squad the Irish will have played to this point.

Stephen Morris won’t throw for 566 yards and five scores like he did in last week’s Hurricane victory over North Carolina State. This Notre Dame defense, which has allowed only 36 points this season, is legit. But it will be interesting until the final moments.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 9 1/2

The pick: Notre Dame 26-20

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Report: UNC receives notice of allegations from NCAA

Tommy Hibbard

The University of North Carolina has received a Notice of Allegations letter from the NCAA offices, but the school will not release the details of the investigation until a later date. When that date will be is not yet known. Inside Carolina reports UNC may make a formal announcement later today regarding the arrival of the NCAA’s notice of allegations.

The NCAA reopened an investigation at Chapel Hill last June to follow-up on some new information shed regarding academic irregularities on the campus involving student-athletes. The basis for reopening the investigation was the belief those who previously did not help with the NCAA’s original investigation in 2011 would be more willing to provide details and information.

In October a new report from former U.S. Justice Department official Kenneth Wainstein suggested the academic scandal at UNC was more widespread than initially thought. His report’s findings said more than 3,1000 students enrolled in classes they did not have to show up for to receive credit over decades. Half of those students were also UNC athletes according to the report.

How much more in-depth the NCAA investigation managed to dig remains to be seen, but it would seem there was reason to suggest it was able to come up with enough new information to sanction UNC once again to some extent. We will just have to wait to find out just what the new penalties may be for the Tar Heels and how it may or may not impact football.

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Ex-Aggie Kenny Hill ready to thrill at TCU

Kenny Hill, Sharrod Golightly

Of all the teams around the country with a quarterback question this offseason, TCU is not one of them. Trevone Boykin is entering his senior season with some Heisman hype and in position to lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title and possibly the College Football Playoff. But once Boykin moves on, TCU could have its next quarterback ready to go. Former Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill is about to get started in classes at TCU, and he still plans to join the Big 12 program.

The Star-Telegram reported Thursday night Hill will begin classes at TCU on June 1. While starting classes is still to come, Hill has already been on campus to observe spring practices so he can get familiar with the offense under head coach Gary Patterson.

Hill captivated the college football world early last season ans carried over the momentum from the Johnny Manziel era at Texas A&M. However, after the hot start, Hill’s success and production fell back to Earth in harsh fashion. He eventually lost the starting job to Kyle Allen following a miserable loss at Alabama and he missed time while serving a two-game suspension. Seeing the writing on the wall, Hill opted to seek a fresh start this spring.

The fresh start could be a good call. After sitting out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Hill will have a chance to once again win a starting job. Perhaps the life lessons learned from his first time starting at Texas A&M and being a couple of years older will allow for Hill to handle the situation better. In the meantime, Hill will have a chance to learn while watching Boykin do his thing in Fort Worth, and that’s not a bad mentor to have.

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Ex-Sooner RB Keith Ford says he’s going to Aggieland

Keith Ford, Le'Vander Liggins

Just days after saying he was leaning toward transferring to Texas A&M, former Oklahoma running back Keith Ford is now reportedly an Aggie. Ford said earlier this week Texas A&M was on the top of his list of options but said some details had to be squared away before he could officially join Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies. That appears to be taken care of now.

I’m going to Aggieland,” Ford said to 247Sports Thursday night. “What really helped me come to my decision was when I sat down with Coach (Kevin) Sumlin. It didn’t sound like it was rehearsed or anything. He was just talking to me man-to-man and laid out his expectations for me. He also wanted me to believe in him. After I heard all of that I was like, ‘Yea, I’m coming here.’ I can’t wait to get up there.”

Ford will have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but when he is eligible once again in 2016 the Aggies will be adding quite a talented running back. Ford, a four-star running back in Oklahoma’s Class of 2013 according to Rivals, appeared in eight games as a freshman for Oklahoma last season, rushing for 392 yards and five touchdowns. Ford’s season came to an end when he broke his leg against Tennessee in September. He was suspended indefinitely by Bob Stoops in the spring for a violation of team rules.

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Tulane adds future dates with Oklahoma, Ole Miss

Devon Walker

In a busy day on the scheduling front, Tulane secured a serious boost to its future schedules by announcing future games with Oklahoma and Ole Miss.

Tulane and Oklahoma will play a three-game series spread out over seven years; the Green Wave will come to Norman in 2017 and 2024, with the Sooners visiting New Orleans in 2021. The series will mark the first-ever meetings between the schools.

“We are excited to begin the series with the University of Oklahoma. There were a lot of moving pieces required to put this together and I thank my good friend Joe Castiglione for working with us to ensure Oklahoma would come back to Yulman Stadium as soon as scheduling would allow,” Tulane Rick Dickson said in a statement.

Elsewhere, Tulane has pushed back a visit to Ole Miss from 2017 to 2025 and added a home date against the Rebels for the 2023 season. The two schools have met 71 times previously in a series dating back to 1893. Ole Miss holds a 43-28 edge over the Green Wave.

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Five off-the-field Harbaugh lieutenants to earn $100K-plus in 2015

Jim Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh‘s off-the-field staff will be significantly better paid than his predecessor’s. According to an open records request filed by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press, two non-coaching assistants will earn $250,000 in 2015 and five will top the six-figure mark, up from the salaries Michigan paid for the same positions on Brady Hoke‘s staff.

Leading the way is Jim Minick, a longtime military man and lifelong friend of Harbaugh’s who was suspended last week after a DUI arrest. He’ll earn $250,000 as the Wolverines’ assistant athletics director for football, up from the $143,000 that Bob Lopez made in the same job last year.

Minick’s salary will be matched by the $250,000 earned by strength coach Kevin Tolbert, a $9,000 bump from the salary garnered by predecessor Aaron Wellman.

Elsewhere in the department, director of operations Rick Finotti will earn $120,000, recruiting coordinator Matthew Doherty will earn $107,000 and director of player development Gwendolyn Bush – also known as the mother of Wolverines graduate transfer Wayne Lyons – will earn $106,000 in 2015.

The five assistants raking in six figures-plus is up from three on Hoke’s staff.

Assistant strength coach Nathan Barry and recruiting operations assistant Chris Partridge will also earn $80,000, while recruiting assistant Anthony Binker sits as the low man on the totem pole at $41,000.

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Haskell Indian Nations U suspends football program for 2015 season

The empty seat of football stadium

Haskell Indians Nation University, a tribal university located in Lawrence, Kan., and competing in NAIA, announced Thursday it will suspend its football program for the 2015 season, citing the rising costs of college athletics.

“Conference changes, the cost of maintaining ten athletic programs, the lack of coaching staff to recruit and develop players and programs, and the dependency of Intercollegiate Athletics on university funding,” led university president Venida Chenault to halt the program for the upcoming season. In a university release (via the Lawrence Journal-World), the school said plans to scale back its athletics programs from 10 to six.

Haskell players may use the fall as “a developmental year for academic and physical conditioning,” but the university noted it is granting releases for players that have arranged them. Still, there is no guarantee the program will return, as the announcement says this fall will be used to determine the “viability” of the program long-term.

Naturally, Haskell’s players did not take the news kindly.

 

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Kansas State to induct four players to Football Ring of Honor

Oklahoma Sooners v Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State announced Thursday that former Wildcats Michael BishopJordy NelsonClarence Scott and Darren Sproles will enter the program’s Ring of Honor this fall. This immediately brings to mind one question, “Wait, how could Kansas State have a Ring of Honor and Michael Bishop and Darren Sproles weren’t a part of it until now?”

Anyway, the above four represent K-State’s third Ring of Honor class, bringing the group’s total to 14. The four players will be enshrined to the interior facade of Bill Snyder Family Stadium during a halftime presentation of the season opener against South Dakota on Sept. 5.

“Like previous Ring of Honor classes these are not only skilled athletes and All-Americans at the positions they played at Kansas State but quality gentlemen who genuinely care about their university and their football program,” Snyder said. “They join the previous 10 Consensus All-Americans having represented their university with class and dignity.  I am so very proud of this and previous classes having coached nine of the 14 of them.”

Bishop went 22-3 (15-1 Big 12) as the Wildcats’ quarterback from 1997-98, leading the club to its first-ever No. 1 ranking while earning All-Big 12 honors both seasons and winning the 1998 Davey O’Brien Award. Nelson worked his way from walk-on to defensive back to one of the best wide receivers in school history, posting school record marks 111 catches and 1,606 yards while earning All-America honors in 2007.

Scott earned First Team All-America honors as a defensive back in 1970 and is already a member of K-State’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Sproles helped the Wildcats win their first Big 12 title in 2003 while setting a school record with 2,735 all-purpose yards. His 4,979 rushing yards remain a school record.

The group will join the likes of Lynn DickeyMartin GramaticaMark Simoneau and Terence Newman in the Wildcats’ Ring of Honor.

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Kick times set for a number of bowl games

We’re only 100 days away from the official start of the 2015 season, which means we’re only 100 days plus 17 weeks from everyone’s favorite time of year: bowl season.

  • Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (MW vs. MAC): Dec. 22, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Boca Raton Bowl (MAC vs. American): Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (American vs. Mountain West/BYU): Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Hyundai Sun Bowl (ACC vs. Pac-12): Dec. 26, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
  • AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC): Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

So pleas, everyone, clear your schedules ahead of time and make room for the Boca Bowl. No you have no excuse for missing such a momentous post-season extravaganza.

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Report: UAB could announce decision to not reinstate football Friday night

University of Alabama Board of Trustees

There is no official statement saying anything other than there is no decision made yet on the future of UAB football. However, one report suggests an announcement could be made at the absolute textbook news dump hour; Friday night.

In a report by Kevin Scarbinsky of Al.com, Alabama State Representative Jack Williams says he has received “strong indications” UAB will not reinstate football. The state representative also told Al.com he believes UAB president Ray Watts could make that announcement Friday night.

If that proves to be the reality of the situation as UAB reassessed the fate of the football program it shut down last November, then it is following the public relations textbook in releasing negative news as late on a Friday as possible. Except the news cycle is more around-the-clock as it has ever been, so UAB and Watts would not be escaping much turmoil if an announcement is made Friday night. After all of the negativity surrounding the way this UAB situation has unfolded, it would be nice to see the school just come right out and announce the decision, for better or worse, as early as possible instead of trying to hide in the darkness of the night.

But let’s see how this plays out. The odds of UAB overturning its previous decision to shut the program down were slim from the beginning, but at least there was a glimmer of hope for the fans. It would be nice to see UAB be straight with the fans and community, whatever the final decision may be. They deserve that.

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Syracuse, UConn set dates to renew old Big East rivalry

Florida State v Syracuse

About a month ago we caught wind of the possible revival of an old Big East rivalry being put together. Now Syracuse and Connecticut have put the finishing touches on the home-and-home scheduling agreement.

Announced today, UConn will host Syracuse on September 24, 2016 at Rentschler Field. Syracuse will host the Huskies two years later on September 29, 2018 in the Carrier Dome. Syracsue will be the first of two ACC opponents on UConn’s 2016 schedule. UConn hosts Virginia the previous week. UConn also visits Boise State in 2018. So far the only other non-conference game on Syracuse’s 2018 schedule is a road trip to Notre Dame as part of the ACC’s rotating schedule. Syracuse’s power conference scheduling requirement in the ACC is already satisfied in 2016 and 2018 with the Fighting Irish appearing on the schedule.

While the two schools have a much more storied basketball history, it will be good to see two northeastern programs compete against each other. UConn leads the all-time series with the Orange, 6-3.

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Penn State dismisses CB following drug and alcohol incident

Penn State cornerback Da’Quan Davis was arrested earlier this month for drug and underage drinking charges. That incident has led to Davis no longer being a part of the football program under the watch of James Franklin.

“Da’Quan Davis is no longer a member of the Penn State football team due to a violation of team rules,” Franklin said during his spring caravan stop in New York yesterday. “We appreciate Da’Quan’s contributions to the program and wish him success in the future.”

As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Joe Juliano, Centre County Court documents filed earlier this week show Davis was arrested on May 9. Police charged Davis with possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. Both of these offenses are considered misdemeanors. However, court documents also show Davis was cited for purchasing alcoholic beverages as a minor. This is considered a summary offense.

Davis is still enrolled at Penn State for his senior year. Davis appeared in half of Penn State’s games last season and likely would have been a reserve defensive back this season. While Penn State continues to claw its way back to a full 85-scholarship roster, incidents like this do nothing to help stabilize the program’s scholarship situation.

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Alabama vs. Wisconsin in AT&T Stadium goes primetime

AT&T Stadium

In a scheduling announcement that should have been expected from the start, Alabama and Wisconsin’s season-opening clash in AT&T Stadium in Arlington on September 5 will be played in primetime. ABC will televise the game starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern.

The Alabama vs. Wisconsin game was long expected to be placed in primetime, with ABC the likely network to get the game through ESPN’s coverage plan. Other games appearing in the same time slot, or closely overlapping with it, include Notre Dame vs. Texas on NBC (7:30 p.m. eastern), Texas A&M vs. Arizona State in Houston on an ESPN network to be determined (8:00 p.m.). Florida State will be playing on ESPN against Texas State (8:00 p.m.).

Wisconsin’s appearance on the first Saturday night game on ABC of the new season will be the first of three primetime games on the ESPN family featuring a Big Ten team in the first two weeks of the season. Michigan State’s home game against Oregon in week two will also air on ABC. Ohio State’s season-opener on Labor Day on the road at Virginia Tech will be televised by ESPN at 8:00 p.m.

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If student-athletes must be recognized as employees, Notre Dame prepared for drastic changes

Jack Swarbrick

Big changes could be on the horizon for college sports, and that has some concerned about the future. With the National Labor Relations Board still going through a review focused on Northwestern players’ union movement and various court cases taking the NCAA to task regarding how student-athletes are allegedly exploited, Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick says Notre Dame is prepared to abandon ship entirely if it has to begin recognizing student-athletes as employees.

“Notre Dame’s just not prepared to participate in any model where the athlete isn’t a student first and foremost — that’s the hallmark for us,” Swarbrick said in a story by USA Today. “If the entire model were to move toward athletes as employees, we’d head in a different direction. Our president has been clear about that. I’m not articulating a unique position.”

Yeah. OK. Suuuuuure.

We know that Notre Dame tends to operate in a bit of a different way than a god number of institutions. Notre Dame takes tremendous pride in its history, tradition and identity. This is not to be seen as a criticism. Despite an ever changing shift in college sports, things have worked out well for Notre Dame as the university has somehow strong-armed its way into remaining among the powerful and elite college sports programs and even managed to get a deal worked out with the ACC to receive the benefits of conference membership in a power conference without having to give up its coveted football independence. Notre Dame has its own TV deal (with NBC) and gets the benefits of playing in the ACC in sports like basketball. It’s a pretty sweet deal Notre Dame has.

If you think the school is just going to pack it all up and leave if asked to treat student-athletes as employees, think again. Sure, there will be some added costs to the university, as would be the case at every university, but the school would still more than likely be throwing away a tremendous amount of revenue if it were shut down its athletics programs in search of another option more focused on education. As scary as some leaders want you to think this can be, I’ll take Swarbrick’s bluff if he thinks Notre Dame is going to drop down to Division 2 or Divison 3.

Notre Dame and other schools can focus as much on academics as they wish, as they should. But let’s be real. Athletics brings in a tremendous amount of money, and giving that up is going to be received well.

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NIU offers fans chance to choose new field design

niuhelmet Getty Images

Northern Illinois will have a brand new playing field in Huskie Stadium this fall, and thankfully (or mercifully) the program will not be installing a non-traditional field the way programs such as Boise State and Eastern Michigan have. Surely somebody might have been tempted to toss the idea fo an all-black playing field around the NIU offices, even if in jest. Instead, NIU is serving up six options and giving fans a chance to decide which field design should be used for the MAC power moving forward.

The first two designs, shown in the Instagram image below, should be out of the running from the start. The first has no color in the end zones and what appears to be the shadowy image of corn. NIU broke out corn uniforms last season, if you recall. With no offense intended to the great corn community, let’s hope NIU fans are quick to dismiss this field design. The second option adds a black background to the end zones and adds a larger outline of the state of Illinois at midfield underneath the “NIU” logo. It’s OK, but let’s move on.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.27.28 PM

Moving to the second two options, we see the husky logo make an appearance at midfield, with “NIU” plastered across the end zones on a black background. So far, this is the leading candidate, and we don’t even have to waste much time on the next option, which puts the “NIU” logo back at midfield and writes “HUSKIES” in the end zones. The outline of the state of Illinois is also huge. We get it. You are in Illinois.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.29.51 PM

Now let’s move on to the final two options for fans to consider. Personally, the option with the gigantic husky logo shadowed into the field is the best of the six options on the ballot.  The sixth option with the red end zones is not terrible, but c’mon. What other school is going to have a logo practically take up the entire field?

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 2.30.44 PM

NIU will eliminate one option each day until the final design is made official. Which one is your favorite?

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Syracuse clarifies controversial plans for retired No. 44 jersey

Jim Brown - Syracuse

So it turns out the hoopla surrounding Syracuse and the uniform No. 44 got a little out of hand. After Donovan McNabb came out swinging at the idea of unretiring the inspirational uniform number after 10 years of retirement, Syracuse has cleared up the intention of bringing the number back into the mix.

“[Tuesday’s] announcement was simply a reiteration of that commitment and another opportunity to celebrate the great accomplishments of those who have worn the number with Syracuse pride and honor,” Syracuse Vice President for Public Affairs Kevin Quinn said in a statement shared with Syracuse.com. “The retired #44 jersey will continue in its place of honor at Dome — as a symbol of past glories and future successes.”

The uniform No. 44 will remain retired, but will be given consideration to be used under special circumstances. What those circumstances would entail will likely be left to the jurisdiction of the small committee to be organized as originally announced.

Now that we have all that cleared up, perhaps there will now be peace in the Syracuse community.

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