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Predictions 101 — Week 7

Spurrier Miles

Last week on “Shakeup Saturday,” we went 3-4 straight up and versus “the number.” That was typical of our mediocre season so far. It’s amazing to think that John L. Smith had a better weekend than us.

Let’s see if we can at least get into a 4-3 alignment or better this week, which features an intriguing slate of games.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Oct. 11, thru Sat., Oct. 13)

1) No. 3 South Carolina at No. 9 LSU
Sat., Oct. 13 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Gamecocks certainly looked like BCS material last Saturday as they dismantled Georgia, 35-7. Impressive in every phase of the game, this “USC” is the one that could make a run at the crystal football.

What remains to be seen is South Carolina’s ability to display that same sort of assertiveness and efficiency in Death Valley. If it can, will it be enough to get past LSU?

The Tigers had a far different experience last Saturday, losing their first regular-season game since Nov. 27, 2010. But let’s not jump to too many conclusions based on Florida’s 14-6 victory. LSU’s offensive limitations can be a sticking point, but its defensive prowess makes up for that.

If not for the crucial Gator drive in which Tiger linebackers Kevin Minter (leg cramps) and Kwon Alexander (broken ankle) were both sidelined, LSU very well could still be undefeated. Holding the Gators to 237 total yards — 85 of which came during the third-quarter drive mentioned above — is typically going to get it done.

No disrespect to South Carolina’s offense, but it will experience far more three-and-outs than usual in Baton Rouge. This will be tailback Marcus Lattimore’s first game against LSU and we don’t expect him to move the chains with his normal regularity.

That’ll put quarterback Connor Shaw in more obvious passing situations and the Tiger defense has the discipline to keep him in the pocket and force tough throws under duress. Not leaving lanes for Shaw to leak out into and run for the sticks is crucial.

The Gamecock defense is stout, as well, but in its only two road games this year both Vanderbilt and Kentucky held third-quarter leads over South Carolina, scoring a total of 30 points.

Opening point spread: LSU by 4

The pick: LSU 21-20

2) No. 17 Stanford at No. 7 Notre Dame
Sat., Oct. 13 — 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai‘i. He’s been the star of our team so far.

The last time they left “The Farm,” running back Stepfan Taylor had only 75 yards on 21 attempts, inexperienced quarterback Josh Nunes misfired all day and the Cardinal did not score an offensive touchdown. Washington’s defense dominated and took away the Stanford running game in that 17-13 victory.

Let’s not forget that Husky defense is the same one that Oregon lit up for 52 points and 497 yards, 299 of which came on the ground. Since the Cardinal could not get things going in Seattle, expect a nightmare in South Bend.

Led by All-America linebacker Manti Te‘o, the Fighting Irish defense ranks second in points allowed, 10th in passing efficiency defense, 13th in total defense and 17th in rushing defense. To top it all off, Notre Dame is also seventh best in the country in turnover margin.

That kind of buzz saw is made to dissect trees.

The Irish offense took a little while to get things rolling earlier in the season, putting up just enough points to beat three Big Ten teams. Of course, that defense which has held opponents to less than a touchdown over the last three games takes a lot of the pressure off.

Last Saturday at Soldier Field, following a bye week, the Notre Dame offense blossomed and dropped 41 points on Miami (Fla.). With that attack catching up to the dominant defense, Stanford won’t get close, as the Irish continue to build their case for not just the BCS, but the whole enchilada.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 7

The pick: Notre Dame 37-13

3) No. 15 Texas vs. No. 13 Oklahoma (at Dallas)
Sat., Oct. 13 — noon ET, ABC

Longhorn quarterback David Ash doesn’t remotely resemble the nervous wreck that alternated with Case McCoy in last year’s mistake-filled nightmare in the Red River Rivalry.

Ash was machinelike last Saturday, completing 22-of-29 for 269 yards and a touchdown in a 48-45 loss to West Virginia. If his counterpart was anyone but Geno Smith, Ash would have been on the winning side.

As is always the case, taking care of the football is paramount. Oklahoma has won the last two in the series by taking advantage of seven takeaways.

The Texas defense needs to do a much better job of stopping the run. Smith’s passing was impressive as usual, but the Mountaineers’ 192 yards on the ground is what really hurt.

Longhorn fans are happy their team doesn’t have to deal with the sort of spread offense that Oklahoma State and West Virginia used to engineer 36- and 48-point outbursts.

But let’s not forget that the Sooners dropped 55 on the Longhorns last year, despite having the ball for only 22 of the 60 minutes. So proceed with caution.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma by 2 1/2

The pick: Texas 28-27

4) No. 10 Oregon State at Brigham Young
Sat., Oct. 13 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Could we possibly see a shutout here? Sure the Cougars roughed up Hawai‘i, 47-0, on Sept. 28, but what does that really mean these days? It’s more illuminating that in games on either side of that blowout BYU scored just six points in each contest.

The six-point output wasn’t enough in a 7-6 loss at Boise State on Sept. 20, but it did allow the Cougars to get past Utah State, 6-3, last Friday.

That limited amount of firepower, directed by rusty quarterback Riley Nelson (sat out last two weeks with a back injury and now his fill-in is out for the season), could get completely doused by a Beaver defense that kept Washington State out of the end zone last Saturday in a 19-6 win in Corvallis. And don’t forget about the stonewall that Oregon State put up in its 10-7 victory over Wisconsin on Sept. 8.

The chance of BYU’s defense finding success increases with backup quarterback Cody Vaz doing the pitching instead of injured starter Sean Mannion (knee). But the aerial assault will be a shock to the Cougars’ system nonetheless. This is likely to be the first time this season that BYU will be faced with 30 or more pass attempts.

Even with the change behind center, the Beavers will improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1939. But this is more “under” than Oregon State.

Opening point spread: BYU by 5

The pick: Oregon State 20-6

5) No. 5 West Virginia at Texas Tech
Sat., Oct. 13 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN

Aside from all the highlights and astounding statistics, you’ve got to wonder about how long the Mountaineers can survive on the tightrope they’ve been teetering on.

Giving up a total of 108 in its last two games put West Virginia on the brink each time. The Mountaineers beat Baylor and Texas by just seven and three points, respectively. Before that, they only defeated Maryland by 10 in Morgantown.

Geno Smith and Co. will likely do what they do once again, but something tells us that this trip to Lubbock will be tricky. The Red Raiders will certainly be ornery after their face-plant last week against Oklahoma.

We can’t really pull the trigger on the upset here (the Burbank office used its veto power), but we’d be very happy to take some free points.

Opening point spread: West Virginia by 4

The pick: West Virginia 37-34

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

California at Washington State
Sat., Oct. 13 — 10:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks

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

The corporate squabbles involving the Pac-12 Networks have reached the halfway mark of the season. That means many households continue to be blacked out from some exciting Pac-12 action, but we doubt many fans will be making angry calls late into the night to watch these two cellar dwellers.

That is, unless they’re on board with us cheering for the Washington State upset on the heels of a trio of conference losses, the last two coming in better-than-looked efforts against the ranked Oregon schools.

We expected Mike Leach to do good things on the Palouse, and while that hasn’t brought much winning in his first year, the Cougars do feature a potent aerial attack that ranks 14th in the nation, averaging 312 yards per game. That unit will have to find success against a Cal defense that allows more than 250 passing yards per game, if the men in maroon are to defeat the Golden Bears for the first time in eight years.

We always like to remind everyone that Cal is Cal. Therefore, after an impressive first conference win in Berkeley at the expense of UCLA, a misstep on the road is in order.

Quarterback Zach Maynard was allowed to stand upright and pick apart the Bruin defense last week, but he will feel the pressure of the Cougars’ new 3-4 alignment, which has generated the ninth most sacks in the country with 19.

Opening point spread: California by 4 1/2

The pick: Washington State 28-20

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Nevada at UNLV
Sat., Oct. 13 — 3 p.m. ET

This fight decides if the Silver State is a red state or a blue state.

The winner gets to paint the Fremont Cannon in its school color and for the past seven years, it’s been bathed in the blue of the Wolf Pack.

The Fremont Cannon holds the distinction of being the largest and most expensive trophy in collegiate sports. It’s a massive 545-pound replica of the mountain howitzer that accompanied Captain John C. Fremont on his expedition through Oregon, Nevada and California in 1843-44. It cost $10,000 to create in 1970.

Speaking of impressive weaponry, Nevada’s pistol offense is one of just two units in the nation averaging more than 275 yards through the air and on the ground. (Oklahoma State is the other.)

However, with the status of Wolf Pack starting quarterback Cody Fajardo in question, those numbers might not be attained versus the Rebels. Fajardo aggravated a nagging back injury last week against Wyoming. Nevada led 21-7 when he was sidelined in the second quarter. Backup Devin Combs struggled initially, allowing the Cowboys to take a 28-35 lead. But the sophomore rallied to lead the Wolf Pack to victory in overtime.

If Combs has to make his first start on the road in this rivalry game, don’t expect the pistol to fire smoothly. But whatever Nevada is able to muster should be enough.

UNLV’s only advantage is playing at home in Sam Boyd Stadium, but that’s where they lost to Northern Arizona last month, so what’s that worth?

It won’t be as gruesome as last year’s 37-0 blanking, in which the Rebels were held to just 110 total yards, but the Wolf Pack should have fun in Vegas.

Opening point spread: Nevada by 9 1/2

The pick: Nevada 32-24

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Big Ten close to clinching top three spring attendance crowds in 2015

Ohio State Spring Game

Coming off a successful postseason, the Big Ten now has something else to be proud of. When the spring football attendance numbers are finalized in the coming weeks, the odds are pretty good the top three spring attendance crowds will all come from the Big Ten.

Ohio State set the bar as high as possible by setting a spring game record with 99,391 Buckeye fans packing Ohio Stadium for the annual spring game on Saturday. That is not just an Ohio State record either. That is the national spring game record. That number surpassed the previous high this spring by Nebraska (76,881 fans). Before the day was done Penn State reported an estimated crowd of 68,000 in Beaver Stadium for the Blue White Game. Those numbers are good for the three highest spring crowds this year, and it might be enough to hold up for one more week..

The biggest threat to cracking the top three before the month is over might be Tennessee. The Vols had 68,500 fans at the spring game in 2014, which would be good enough to pass Penn State for third overall this year. Given the excitement surrounding the upward trend in Knoxville, there might be enough orange in Neyland Stadium to do just that.

Other schools still to play spring games from power conferences include Arkansas, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, UCLA, Utah Washington and Washington State, but the odds are none of those programs will manage to pull a crowd quite large enough. Wisconsin is also still on the schedule for next week, but the Badgers had just over 8,000 fans come to the final spring practice last spring.

Alabama (65,175) and Auburn (62,143) each had huge crowds but threats of inclement weather may have kept a few fans away from each respective spring game. Either way, the two Iron Bowl rivals round out the current top five in spring attendance. Michigan (60,000) follows for another Big Ten attendance mark.

No other school has reported a crowd over 49,000 this spring.

Here is the current numbers…

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Muschamp already has Auburn’s defense leading the way

Will Muschamp

Ask anyone who watched Auburn the biggest need of improvement from 214, and the answer might be the defense. Auburn’s defense is on the right track in a hurry with Will Muschamp taking over as defensive coordinator. The spring game was the latest example of that defense turning a corner.

Since Gus Malzahn has been named head coach at Auburn a couple of years ago, this was the lowest scoring spring game for the Tigers. Credit that to Muschamp getting to work early with the Tigers defense and making some changes. He also brings some energy to the defense, something he has been noted for throughout his coaching career.

“They’re flying around,” Malzahn said. “They’re playing hard.”

Everybody loves Coach Muschamp,” defensive tackle Montravius Adams said after the game, per Al.com. “He’s bringing that energy and changing the question to the whole defense, so we’re going to be a top contender.”

It was just a spring game, but Auburn is feeling more comfortable on defense. They have a defensive coordinator who can cook up some good schemes and have his players buy in. It’s working, and that could be huge if Auburn is going to make some things happen in 2015.

The other side of the Auburn conversation is who replaces Nick Marshall at quarterback? After the spring game it looks as though the answer is more and more likely to be Jeremy Johnson. In fact, let’s put him atop the depth chart for the summer now. Johnson completed 14-of-22 passes for 252 yards with a pair of long touchdowns to Duke Williams and Myron Burton.

“I thought Jeremy did some good things,” Malzahn said. “He has really good command of our offense. He probably held the ball a little too long a couple of throws, but, overall, I thought he did a good job.”

Auburn opens the 2015 season in Atlanta against Louisville in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on September 5.

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Alabama’s offense doesn’t pass Saban’s mid-term exam

Alabama Spring Game Getty Images

This spring Alabama’s offense, more specifically the quarterbacks, have been focusing on avoiding turnovers. If the spring game is to serve as a litmus test for the progress being made, Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin have some work to do if the Crimson Tide are going to be SEC and College Football Playoff contenders in 2015.

Alabama’s offense had six turnovers in the spring game Saturday in Tuscaloosa. Jake Coker, who some pumped up as Alabama’s likely starter a season ago, went just 14 for 28 with one touchdown (a long pass to ArDarius Stewart) and an interception. Redshirt freshman David Cornwell was not all tat much better, going 12 for 24 with 110 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. So it looks as though Alabama is heading into the summer with a quarterback situation to sort through. This is not totally unexpected, although it would have been nice if either Coker or Cornwell could have elevated themselves and created some separation in the spring game.

It was not all bad of course. Receivers Stewart (6 receptions, 125 yards, 1 TD) and Robert Foster (8 receptions, 118 yards, 2 TDs) had solid outings even if the quarterbacks were not particularly sharp. Alabama’s defense seemed to be in good form, and more than capable of taking advantage of an unsteady quarterback situation on the other side of the ball. Reuben Foster was playing nickel, which Saban has said he’s been doing all spring. Foster also played with some more maturity, according to Saban. Five different players in Alabama’s secondary recorded an interception.

Fortunately, the season does not start tomorrow, or next week. Saban referred to the spring game as a mid-term exam, which leaves plenty of time for the Alabama offense to bring its grade up before opening the new season of what will surely be high with expectations after a second straight season ending in a postseason loss.

Alabama saw a crowd of 65,175 fans come to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Weather may have kept some away from the game. Regardless, the Crimson Tide will likely lock in with the fourth-highest spring attendance this year. Ohio State smashed the competition with a new spring game record, Nebraska is holding firm with the second highest crowd and Penn State edged Alabama’s crowd on Saturday.

Alabama opens the 2015 season against Wisconsin in the Cowboy Classic in Arlington, Texas on September 5.

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Charlie Strong says Swoopes is No. 1 QB at Texas

Tyrone Swoopes

If there is one thing Texas head coach Charlie Strong needs at Texas, it is probably Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately for Strong, that is not an option. Strong is looking to find the next best thing at Texas. Whether or not that turns out to be Tyrone Swoopes remains to be seen, but he is currently the number one quarterback for Strong heading out of the spring.

Ty is still the No. 1 guy at this moment,” Strong said after the Texas spring game Saturday afternoon in Austin. Swoopes is in a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. If Strong’s comments carry weight, the thought of opening the season on the road at Notre Dame for a primetime game with Heard is not something that will allow him to feel comfortable.

“I hope I don’t have to go into that game starting a redshirt freshman,” Strong said. So there you have it. This is where the Texas quarterback situation stands as spring comes to a close.

Swoopes was the top passer for Texas last season, but the consistency was always a bit of a concern. While passing for 2,409 yards and 13 touchdowns, Swoopes did so while completing just 58.3 percent of his passes and being picked off 11 times. Heard could eventually take over the offense if things start slowly for Swoopes and Texas in the fall, but it sure seems as though Strong is not ready to hand the offense over to him at this point in time.

At one point during the spring game Saturday afternoon Swoopes got a little too much air under a pass that went out of play. The football hit a kid, which led Strong to send Swoopes over to apologize. It should also be noted that Strong does feel Heard has started to give Swoopes a run for the job.

“It’s going to be fun going into the summer with those two guys battling it out.”

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Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott ends spring on a high note

Dak Prescott

You could not have asked for much more from Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott in the spring game in Starkville Saturday afternoon. The potential Heisman Trophy contender capped the spring with 231 passing yards, three touchdowns while completing 20 of 29 pass attempts before being given a break by head coach Dan Mullen.

A handful of schools going through spring games on Saturday have quarterback competitions and debates brewing, but that is far from the case at Mississippi State. There it is clearly Prescott’s job and nobody is aiming to take it away. Prescott emerged as a top player in the SEC while leading Mississippi State to a number one ranking at one point en route to an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The season may not have ended the way Prescott and Mississippi State would have liked, but he brings plenty of promise for the Bulldogs in the fall, and his spring performance should boost the confidence just a bit more.

As good as Prescott was Saturday afternoon for the Maroon team, it was not enough to lead the squad to victory over the White team. With Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback, the White scored the only touchdown of the second half to take a 28-24 victory. Fitzgerald will be Prescott’s backup in the fall, and his performance was not too bad. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air and he rushed for 31 yards and another score, but he was picked off twice. The highlight of the afternoon from Fitzgerald came in the second quarter with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon.  Dontavian Lee led all players with 53 rushing yards and a touchdown for the White team.

Mississippi State opens the 2015 season on the road on September 5 against Southern Mississippi.

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Nobody will have a higher spring attendance than Ohio State

Cardale Jones

Close it down now. Nobody will have a higher spring game attendance than Ohio State this year. The Buckeyes, fresh off a national championship in January, welcomed 99,391 fans to Ohio Stadium to watch the annual spring game in Columbus.

That easily puts Ohio State on top of the spring game attendance numbers this year, and nobody will have a chance to catch them.

Nebraska entered the weekend as the leader in spring game attendance with 76,881 fans attending last weekend’s spring game in Lincoln. Until the numbers from some other games come in today, the Big Ten is currently holding the top three spots in the spring game attendance numbers. Michigan’s 60,000 was second most in the nation coming into the weekend.

The Big Ten could have another top five spring game attendance figure coming in later today with Penn State’s spring game getting started later this afternoon.

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Notre Dame QB battle just getting started; ND-USC set for primetime

Everett Golson

Spring has come and gone, and Brian Kelly still has a quarterback decision to make before the start of the fall. Notre Dame’s spring game was not likely to solve the equation under center on Saturday, and it certainly left the variable in play. Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will continue to battle for the starting job heading into the summer and leading up to the start of the new season in the fall.

Playing on a practice field while Notre Dame Stadium undergoes renovation, both Golson and Zaire showed some improvement and confidence for much of the afternoon. Golson seemed to have an edge with execution at times, but Zaire also had some respectable moments as well.

Zaire may have had the highlight of the day as well. His 68-yard pass to Will Fuller for a touchdown was one of the top plays on the afternoon in South Bend, showing off Zaire’s arm strength.

The other came on a pass from Golson to end the first half, although for a different reason. Golson’s final pass of the first half was a 12-yard pass to offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley, who had been begging for a pass all spring. He made it count and lowered a shoulder into Cole Luke at the end of the play.

From here, the quarterback competition is pretty even. There was no runaway winner in the race on Saturday, and one likely was not expected. Now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the summer. Kelly has confidence in his options, and there is no timetable for when a final decision might be announced.

Notre Dame opens the 2015 season at home on September 5 against Texas. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. eastern. Notre Dame also announced a home game against USC on October 17 will also kick off at 7:30 p.m. Both games will air on NBC.

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Russell Wilson says Tom O’Brien “kinda kicked me out of NC State”

South Carolina v North Carolina State Getty Images

The drama between Russell Wilson and former NC State head coach Tom O’Brien is pretty much ancient history at this point, but that did not prevent Wilson from dropping the suggestion he was forced out at NC State.

“You know, he was my head coach, you know, NC State,” Wilson said when asked about his time at NC State for an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. “Kinda kicked me out of NC State a little bit.”

Wilson has typically taken the high road any time this topic of conversation has come up over the years, which is why it is a bit surprising to hear him explain the situation with these words.

We pretty much know the story at this point with the parting between O’Brien and Wilson. Wilson wanted to continue being able to play minor league baseball in the Colorado Rockies’ farm system, but O’Brien wanted the quarterback to stay committed to football. As we know by now, Wilson moved on to Wisconsin, led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship and later went on to lead the Seattle Seahawks to one Super Bowl victory and return trip coming up just short of a second. Football has worked out well for Wilson, but the desire to continue playing baseball has not evaporated.

The significance of this quote and its relevance can be better explained now by our pals over at Pro Football Talk, as Wilson is reaching a point where he is ready to get a new contract in Seattle. The last thing Seattle probably wants to do is pull the same power play O’Brien did with Wilson in college.

Wilson will be featured in an interview with next week’s airing of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be featured as well.

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Ohio State’s Cardale Jones feels sorry for Notre Dame

Cardale Jones

No school has quite the intriguing quarterback situation this spring and heading into the fall as Ohio State. Take your pick of Ohio State quarterbacks — Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones —  and odds are your offense will be in good hands. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said earlier this week he would take his quarterbacks any day over Ohio State’s, which did not fall on idle ears in Columbus.

Leading up to Ohio State’s spring game, ESPN ran an interview with Barrett and Jones conducted by Tom Rinaldi that did not require anyone to shed a tear. It actually yielded a laugh. With the quarterback question in mind, Rinaldi referenced the old cliche about having two quarterbacks meaning you don’t have one. The response from Jones?

“I feel sorry for Notre Dame,” Jones replied before quickly laughing it off and saying he was joking.

😂😂😂😂

A video posted by Land-Grant Holy Land (@landgrantholyland) on Apr 18, 2015 at 9:29am PDT

Going back to Kelly’s comments, what else is he supposed to say? He is a coach pumping up his own players, as any coach would do. His comments may have raised some eyebrows and been shrugged aside as a ridiculous comment — how many coaches this spring would commit NCAA violations for the quarterback situation Urban Meyer has on his hands this year — but he was just a coach saying things a coach would say and nothing more.

Notre Dame’s spring game opened up with Everett Golson leading the offense down the field for a touchdown, with the veteran quarterback running in for a short touchdown run after a decent opening drive. Malik Zaire is also being given a chance to win the starting job in South Bend after showing some promise at the end of last season.

But was Jones really just joking? Probably not too much.

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Louisville backfield shows promise in Friday spring game

The reviews are coming in from Louisville’s Friday night spring scrimmage, and it seems to paint a familiar picture. The offense has players to make some good things happen. The defense should be pretty solid. The offensive line seems to be a bit of a question mark Bobby Petrino will have to either hope comes together or sees some development in the summer before the season kicks off.

Quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed 15 of 19 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown and rushed 10 times for 37 yards and another touchdown while playing the entire first half. While reading too much into spring games can be unwise, this seemed to be a strong suggestion which direction the quarterback position is heading at Louisville. It will be Bonnafon’s job to lose according to the experts following the Cardinals.

The running game should be in for a good season as well, and Brandon Radcliff will once again be leading the charge on the ground. On Friday night the leading Louisville rusher carried the football seven times for 57 yards and three TDs. No worries in the Louisville backfield. It is the offensive line that seems to be the most questionable spot for the Cardinals.

Quarterbacks were sacked nine times in the spring scrimmage, with 23,187 fans in attendance. It should be noted only nine offensive linemen dressed for the spring scrimmage, but reinforcements are on the way through Louisville’s Class of 2015 and some junior college transfers. There will be more bodies to plug in, but how quickly Louisville finds some cohesiveness up front will ultimately determine what kind of season the Cardinals could have in the fall.

There are far fewer reasons for concern on the defensive side of the football. Louisville played very well on defense last season, and it looks as though it should be a strength of the team once again in Petrino’s second season back with the program.

“I really think we’ll have a dominant defense,” Petrino said. “That defensive front and linebacking corps is very physical and very strong. They made it real hard on our second offense.”

Louisville’s season will kick off on September 5 against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta.

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Paul Johnson happy Georgia Tech survived its spring game

Capital One Orange Bowl - Mississippi State v Georgia Tech Getty Images

Nobody got hurt. Well, nobody got hurt Friday night. That is exactly what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson wanted from the spring game in Atlanta Friday night. Rain held the attendance to just about 4,000 fans (most of them looking for cover from the elements), but Johnson will take it with no additional players having injury concerns as spring draws to a close.

“You know, it was a typical spring game — at least we got it in and the weather cooperated,” Johnson said. “Nobody got hurt that I know of — or at least seriously — which is what you hope for.”

Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets took some hits leading up to the game. C.J. Leggett, believed to be a potential starter for Georgia Tech’s B-back position, may lose the entire 2015 season due to a torn knee ligament revealed by an MRI this week.

”He’d been working hard,” Johnson said. ”I feel bad for him, but you’ve got to go with the next-man-up mentality.”

Leggett’s injury comes after another possible B-back option, Quaide Weimerskirch, has undergone foot surgery. The good news is Georgia Tech saw Marcus Allen have a good outing, running 14 times for 77 yards.

“I was proud of Marcus Allen,” Johnson said after the game. “I thought he played hard, did some good things, and made some plays. So (it was a) good (night) for Marcus.”

Justin Thomas will  be Georgia Tech’s quarterback in the fall, so Johnson took drastic measures to ensure he left the spring scrimmage in one piece. He played in just three series Friday night, and he attempted and completed one pass for 21 yards. He was also off limits from contact, just as he has been all spring.

Georgia Tech, the defending ACC Coastal Division champions, opens the 2015 season at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium on Thursday, September 3 against Alcorn State.

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Clemson and Duke baseball teams played football during rain delay

Clemson v Duke baseball (football)

Clemson and Duke football teams have wrapped up their respective spring practice schedules already, but on Friday the school’s baseball teams served up some spring football action of their own.

With a rain delay forcing the baseball field at Clemson to be covered by a tarp for an extended period of time, players from Clemson’s and Duke’s baseball teams decided to kill the idle time by playing some football. After all, rain does not stop football from being played.

There were even a couple of nice plays to witness too!

Clemson and Duke do not meet on the football field this fall, unless the two match-up against each other in the ACC Football Championship Game.

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Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame (& so many more) spring football on tap for Saturday

Ardarius Stewart, Nick Perry

Get ready for a jam-packed day of spring football from coast to coast. If you have nothing better to do than sit inside and get a college football fix — and who would blame you — then you have plenty of options working for you on Saturday.

Defending national champion Ohio State will be among many big names in action on Saturday. Others include Alabama, Notre Dame (on NBC Sports Network), Auburn, LSU Penn State, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi State. And that’s just a fraction of the total teams wrapping up spring practices on Saturday.

Those with the services available will be able to watch college football, in a somewhat scaled down fashion, from noon through the whole afternoon and into the night with the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 having network coverage. Same goes for Texas and Notre Dame. Some of you might even get to see North Texas, if you are really hardcore about your spring football fix.

If you are looking to see how to plan your day, here are the TV listings for spring games on April 18, as well as a list of schools playing spring football games without listed TV coverage.

ON TV

Games carried by SEC Network will be carried on alternate channels where available. Games appearing on Big Ten Network will also be available on the mobile network, BTN2Go. Pac-12 Network coverage will also be available through Pac-12.com.

Mississippi Sate, 12 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Notre Dame, 12:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network

Ohio State, 1:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

Auburn, 2 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

California, 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network

LSU 2 p.m., SEC Network+

Texas, 2 p.m., Longhorn Network

Alabama, 3 p.m. SEC Network (Alternate)

North Texas, 3 p.m., CS Live

Oregon State, 4 p.m., Pac-12 Network

Penn State, 4 p.m., Big Ten Network

Missouri, 5 p.m., SEC Network (Alternate)

Illinois, 6 p.m., Big Ten Network

YOU HAVE TO BE THERE TO SEE IT

Southern Miss, 2 p.m.

Tulane, 10:00 a.m.

Army, 11 a.m.

Akron, 1 p.m.

Colorado State, 1 p.m.

Georgia Southern, 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Purdue, 1 p.m.

Western Michigan, 1 p.m.

Buffalo, 2 p.m.

Indiana, 2 p.m.

Louisiana Tech, 2 p.m.

Middle Tennessee, 2 p.m.

Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.

SMU, 2 p.m.

Tulsa, 2 p.m.

UCF, 2 p.m.

UTSA, 2 p.m.

Western Kentucky, 2 p.m.

Ball State, 3 p.m.

Houston, 3 p.m.

East Carolina, 2:30 p.m.

UNLV, 3 p.m.

Virginia, 6 p.m.

On a related note, keep in mind Nebraska and Michigan are leading the way in spring game attendance so far. The top 10 should change given some of the powerhouse names in action this weekend.

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DA drops assault charges against starting Colorado DL Josh Tupou

The University of Colorado football team takes on the Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors at Folsom Field in Boulder on Sept. 20, 2014.

A month ago Colorado defensive lineman Josh Tupou was charged for assault following a house party turning ugly. Those charges have now been dropped by the Boulder County District Attorney’s office.

Tupou was charged for suspicion of second-degree assault, two counts of third-degree assault, criminal mischief, trespassing and reckless endangerment last month after a brawl unfolded at a house that also had $300 to $700 in damages. Tupou turned himself into Boulder police after a warrant for his arrest had been issued. So what was it that led to all of the charges being dropped off?

Mistaken identity.

At a hearing earlier this month a lawyer representing Tupou claimed his client was charged as a result of a mistaken identity. How many 6′-3″ 325-pound guys are there that could be mistaken for Tupou anyway? Whatever the case, the defense stood tall in court and the district attorney agreed to drop the charges against the starting defensive linemen.

With no charges against him anymore, Tupou’s status remains unchanged at Colorado, which should allow him to continue starting on the line for the Buffs when the season gets started.

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Mendenhall sees BYU playing way into power conference within three years

Bronco Mendenhall

Good old Charlie Brown has a history of standing by the mailbox waiting for a Christmas card, a Valentine’s Day card, an invite to a New Years party invitation or pretty much anything by his mailbox. Nothing ever comes his way. It’s getting to the point where of all the coaches in college football, BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall may the Charlie Browniest because he may be waiting for an invite to a power conference that may never find its way to a mailbox at BYU.

Mendenhall met with some members of the media Friday and once again addressed questions regarding BYU’s future as a football program. Judging by the quotes offered by the head coach of the Cougars, the sight is still set on inclusion in a power conference at some point down the line.

“I hate to be pinned down, but if someone were to force me, I’d say three years. It has to happen within three,” Mendenhall said to Greg Wrubell, who does BYU football play-by-play. “Could it go longer than (three years)? Yes, it could. Is it desirable to me, to go longer than that? The answer is no.”

Mendenhall explained he still feels there are more realignment changes to come that could benefit BYU in some way. Those realignment changes may be a bit more difficult to see now with power conferences gaining more power through autonomy and possible deregulation of conference championship games a possibility. BYU’s best hope seems to be possible expansion in the Big 12 to return to 12 members, but as we have discussed time and time and time again, this does not seem to be a top priority for the conference. And if the Big 12 did expand, it is more likely the conference would have a desire to move east.

BYU’s plan for independence was one that seemed to have some support at the time of leaving the Mountain West Conference, a decision Mendenhall still stands by without hesitation. But since choosing to go independent in football a lot has changed around the college sports world. More realignment changes happened and power conferences were given more power, which BYU may not have seen coming at the extent it has.

“I absolutely think it was worth it,” Mendenhall said. “I think it was the right move at that time. Independence is more difficult than the MWC was.” But even Mendenhall knows what BYU needs to do in order to make any serious pitch to the Big 12 or Pac-12 (or any other power conference).

“At some point, (P5) inclusion has to happen…best way I know to do it is play our way in, and that’s what I have chosen to do,” Mendenhall says.

If nothing else, these are comments you want to hear from BYU’s coach. What else is he suppose to say? BYU would benefit more from being a part f a power conference like the Big 12 than being an independent at a time when power conferences are soaking up more and more revenue compared to other conferences (and independents). Did BYU make a mistake leaving the Mountain Wets Conference? That is debatable, and we know where Mendenhall stands.

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