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Predictions 101 — Week 9

Cocktail AP

There we were, sitting as pretty as pretty can be. Six games already nestled comfortably in P101’s bag, half of which were upsets.

We really didn’t need to pull off a clean sweep. We’d be as proud of 6-1 as Maria Sharapova. And any “player” worth his salt would have hedged his way into the winner’s circle, turning the Florida State-Miami game into an exercise to see how much gravy could be found.

But there we were, watching the Hurricanes do more than hold their own. The pregame smoke and the first quarter mirrors had them up 10-0 … a good thing in our book. We knew what was coming.

It came … and the Seminole margin was oh so sweet in the fourth quarter. That is until the entire gridiron became four-down territory for Miami, which led to a touchdown being gifted to FSU with 2:45 remaining.

The Seminoles led, 33-13, and we’re dealing with opening lines (+17.5) here at P101, not closing ones (+21). So, we were sunk. The Hurricanes still had a couple minutes to work with, but they weren’t going to kick a field goal and hadn’t mounted a touchdown drive since a meager 22-yarder within the first four minutes of the game.

But Brent & Herbie seemed to share some belief, cheering Miami on down the field. They giggled while mentioning “interested mathematicians” a couple times along the way.

Sure enough, the Hurricanes went 75 yards in eight plays and got the job done.

Yes. Finally. Last week, we went 7-0 straight and 7-0 versus “the number.” Holy Toledo (thank you, Rockets), 14-0!

Oh well … on to this week, where we can only go down from here.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Oct. 25, thru Sat., Oct. 27)

1) No. 3 Florida vs. No. 12 Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.)
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

If South Carolina players were to judge this fight, there’s no question who they’d predict as winners. Two weeks after they hosted and routed Georgia, 35-7, the Gamecocks got roughed up at Florida, 44-11.

Too bad the transitive property doesn’t apply to college football. If it did, we could just call for a 61-point Gator victory and be done with it.

All that aside, Florida does hold a clear edge in this game.

Despite the fact that Georgia had the most fun at the last “Cocktail Party,” winning 24-20, the Gators have dominated this rivalry for more than a couple decades, taking 18 of the last 22. And this one doesn’t seem to match up well for the Bulldogs.

Last week, Georgia allowed Kentucky to rush for 206 yards. Please note that the Wildcats came into that contest ranked 106th in the country in rushing offense. Granted, the poor run defense and less-than-impressive 29-24 victory in Lexington came without the services of outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who was resting a sprained right ankle, and defensive end Abry Jones, who injured his left ankle in the first quarter, but we’re still talking Kentucky here.

It doesn’t look promising for the disappointing Bulldog defense, which is yielding 24 points and 367 total yards per game, as it lines up against the Gators’ powerful run game.

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is one of the more efficient passers in the nation, but in the loss at South Carolina he showed that consistent pressure from a variety of sources can really knock him off-kilter. The Bulldogs can’t afford for that to happen since running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are finally starting to look like freshmen.

Last week, we talked up Florida’s excellent punt unit and it did play a large role in the Gator victory over South Carolina. Here we go again. Georgia ranks dead last in the SEC and 109th in the country in net punting. It might be most apparent on special teams, but the Gators have a significant advantage over the Bulldogs in all three phases of the game.

Opening point spread: Florida by 3 1/2

The pick: Florida 31-20

2) No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
Sat., Oct. 27 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

As they roll into Norman for the first time in 46 years, the Fighting Irish will encounter a Sooner team far different from the one Ara Parseghian’s 1966 squad squashed, 38-0, on its way to a national championship.

The current Oklahoma team, which has scored 156 points in its last three games, won’t be blanked. This will be the Sooners’ third consecutive home game and in the previous two — a 63-21 slaying of Texas, followed by a 52-7 rout over Kansas — the offense scored on 15 of 20 drives, 12 of which were touchdowns.

After this week, we won’t be hearing about how Notre Dame hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all year.

We’ll take Oklahoma’s duo of Landry Jones and Blake Bell (leads team with eight rushing touchdowns) over ND’s Everett Golson and Tommy Rees. While Jones and Bell operate efficiently in their clearly defined roles, the feeling here is that the Sooner defense, which has come up with nine takeaways in the last three games, will squeeze game-changing turnovers out of the Irish backfield.

Yes, college football is much better off when the Golden Domers are relevant, but put the hype aside for a moment and take a long look at their schedule and results. You’ll realize that our friends in the desert are seeing this one clearly.

Opening point spread: Oklahoma by 9

The pick: Oklahoma 27-13

3) No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 4 Kansas State
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX

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

The Red Raiders have the talent and coaching to beat the Wildcats, but do they have the answer for “Optimus Klein.”

Led by quarterback Collin Klein, the current Heisman Trophy frontrunner, Kansas State is also talented and well coached. The Wildcats will scratch and claw to defend their conference and national title hopes. Bill Snyder’s balanced team doesn’t make mistakes. Only one squad in the country (Ohio, which also is 7-0) has had fewer turnovers than the Wildcats (just four).

You wouldn’t know it by his throwing motion, but Klein ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency. His counterpart, Seth Doege, isn’t far behind in fifth and directs an aerial assault that averages 362 yards per game.

But it isn’t all about offense at Texas Tech, which is home to a stout defense that’s ranked seventh in total defense and is particularly effective versus the pass.

Something’s got to give, but maybe it’ll require some extra time to happen.

We’ll take a stab and say that Red Raiders get held to a field goal on their first overtime possession, leaving “Optimus” the opportunity for a Heisman moment as he pounds into the end zone for the win.

Opening point spread: Kansas State by 8

The pick: Kansas State 33-30

4) No. 13 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
Sat., Oct. 27 — 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

We can’t remember a game between teams ranked within the top 13 that is so disparate on paper.

Off paper, however, it has the makings of a trap game for the Crimson Tide, who travel to LSU next week. That’s where Nick Saban comes in … and we go back to what we see in black and white.

We’ll be the first to dump loads upon loads of credit at the feet of Dan Mullen for the job he’s done in Starkville. Nine consecutive victories versus anybody, is still nine consecutive victories. No less than 117 FBS teams would love to boast of such a winning streak.

But we have to be honest and point out that the Bulldogs’ sparkling 3-0 record in SEC play comes at the expense of Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. Those three teams not only weren’t able to beat Mississippi State, they haven’t won any conference games so far this season in a total of 14 tries.

Alabama leads the nation in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing efficiency defense, so it ain’t any shock that only one team has lost by less than 27 points to the Tide this season. That tight 33-14 victory over Ole Miss essentially served as their “wake up call.” Saban’s gang isn’t falling into any traps.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 24

The pick: Alabama 41-13

5) Duke at No. 11 Florida State
Sat., Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU

How could we exclude a game between the undisputed leaders of the ACC’s Atlantic and Coastal Divisions? Yup, you read that right.

Hooray for the Blue Devils, who are bowl eligible for the first time in 18 years, but still hungry.

After their big 33-20 victory at Miami last Saturday night, the Seminoles will spend a full week in Tallahassee having their backs slapped.

Duke’s defense is porous, but it does force turnovers. Something’s telling us that the Blue Devils will stay within range.

Opening point spread: Florida State by 26

The pick: Florida State 41-17

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Mississippi at Arkansas
Sat., Oct. 27 — 12:21 p.m. ET, SEC Network

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

Forgive us if we’re not impressed by blowout victories over Auburn and Kentucky, who are a combined 0-10 in SEC play. We don’t see it as a signal that the Razorbacks ship has been righted after four painful defeats earlier in the season, which produced some epic press conference moments for John L. Smith.

With kickoff at just past 11 a.m. local time in Little Rock, the Hog faithful are likely to lack their typical fervor, if there is any left after the last time Arkansas played at War Memorial Stadium and were knocked from their lofty perch in the Top-10 with a 34-31 overtime loss to mighty Louisiana-Monroe (still the only team Auburn’s been able to beat).

Both teams enter with a pair of conference losses to the same schools, but Ole Miss was much more competitive while falling a field goal short against Texas A&M and losing by just 19 at Alabama. Conversely, Arkansas was taken to the woodshed by a combined score of 110-10 against those same foes.

Each offensive unit can move the ball through the air, but a Rebel defense that allows just 210 yards passing per game is much more likely to slow the opposition down than a Razorback unit that ranks near the bottom of the FBS, allowing 304 yards through the air.

Opening point spread: Arkansas by 4 1/2

The pick: Mississippi 31-27

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Cincinnati at No. 16 Louisville
Fri., Oct. 26 — 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

If the “Keg of Nails” were actually a keg filled with nails, it would be the best rivalry trophy in the land. But even though it’s merely a painted empty keg, it’s still in the conversation. It just sounds so awesome! No wonder the Bearcats and Cardinals annually lay it all on the line for the “Keg of Nails.”

The original “Keg of Nails” (yes, this one is actually “Son of Keg of Nails”) was first awarded in 1929, signifying that the players on the winning team were as “tough as nails.” Ah … college football …

As a side note: We don’t believe the tale about the original “Keg of Nails” being misplaced and lost during some office construction at Louisville. C’mon, who would lose track of a keg of nails, trophy or not? Seriously now, the Cardinals should be docked three points in each game until they come up with it.

Last week, we gave you Toledo over Cincinnati. This week, we’re tempted to give you the Bearcats. Cincinnati has been in control of the series as of late, winning the past four, and should have the emotional edge as they drive along Interstate 71.

But, when your problems are turning over the football and giving up big plays, the corrections aren’t easy to find.

The Cardinals, led by sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (21-of-25 for 256 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s over South Florida), are much more reliable at this point.

Opening point spread: Louisville by 6

The pick: Louisville 27-26

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Buckeyes get verbal from Sparty commit who had MSU offer pulled

Gavin Cupp

In a weird way, it appears the Gavin Cupp storyline has somewhat come full circle.  Or got to the place the high schooler wanted it to get to all along.  One of the two.

If you recall, quite the ruckus was kicked up last month when it was reported that Michigan State had pulled the scholarship offer made to Cupp, one of its 2016 commits, because the player attended a football camp hosted by rival Ohio State.  As it turns out, it wasn’t Cupp’s attendance that was the issue; rather, it was the fact that Cupp didn’t let MSU know of his intentions and the perceived lack of “loyalty” that led to the yanking of the offer.

Shortly thereafter, OSU offered Cupp, but the Ohio offensive lineman hadn’t pulled the trigger on a second verbal commitment.  Until now.

All of this “drama” has centered around a three-star 2016 recruit who is rated as the No. 31 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 16 player at any position in the state of Ohio.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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After leaving Cal football for Cal rugby, Sione Sina moves on to Utah

Sione Sina

Sione Sina left the Cal football team prior to spring practice earlier this year and joined the Cal rugby team, taking part as a starter in the national championship game of that sport this past May.  Three months later, it appears Sina has come back to football, albeit at a different Pac-12 institution.

Multiple media outlets have reported that Siena has transferred into the Utah football program and will play for the Utes.  Because he has already graduated from Cal, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

Well, technically he’s eligible to play, although his recent past suggests it’s up in the air whether he’ll actually be healthy enough to take the field.

A three-star JUCO signee in the Class of 2013 and mid-year enrollee, Sina neither participated in spring practice nor played that season due to unspecified injuries.  Injuries, again unspecified, kept him out of spring practice, specifically the contact portion, the following year as well.

He played in the second game of the 2014 season against Sacramento State, but did not play again because, well, you know.

(Photo credit: Cal athletics)

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Charlotte OL coach Phil Ratliff hospitalized after ‘cardiac event’

Phil Ratliff

As Charlotte gets set to embark on its first season at the FBS level, one member of head coach Brad Lambert‘s coaching staff suffered a health event that could impact at least his short-term availability for the 49ers.

The university announced Tuesday that offensive line coach Phil Ratliff was hospitalized Monday evening after suffering what was described as a cardiac event. “The Ratliff family and the 49ers football program are thankful for the many prayers and well-wishes being sent their way by friends, family and fans,” the school wrote in its release.

“Complete details are not available at this time and we urge individuals to avoid speculation out of respect for the family,” the release added.

The 44-year-old Ratliff has been an assistant at Charlotte since 2012, one year prior to the program’s first season at the FCS level. Prior to Charlotte, he had served as a tight ends coach at Marshall, his alma mater where he was a two-time All-American lineman in his playing days.

(Photo credit: Charlotte athletics)

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Irish’s second-leading ’14 rusher declared academically ineligible

Purdue v Notre Dame

Academics has once again claimed a key member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

The father of Greg Bryant confirmed to IrishIllustrated.com that his son has been declared academically ineligible and will not play for the Irish in 2015.  Greg Bryant Sr. added that his running back son will not be reporting with the team for summer camp, although he will return to campus as a student later this month.

What his football future holds beyond that is unclear, whether he sits a season and returns next year like Everett Golson or if he transfers out as others before him have done.

Back in June, it was reported that Bryant would be suspended for the first four games of the year, with the speculation on that punitive matter centering on academics.   At least according to the father, Bryant was thiiis close to making the grade.

Regardless of how close he was, Bryant’s absence will serve as somewhat of a blow to the Irish ground attack.

Last season, Bryant’s 289 yards rushing were good for second on the team.  As our own JJ Stankevitz explained at the time of the initial report, though, the loss Bryant does not necessarily serve as a death knell for that facet of the offense, although that was in the context of a four-game suspension and not a season-long loss.

While the optics of suspending a former big-time recruit aren’t good, there’s reason to think Notre Dame can absorb his absence with the backfield combination of [quarterback Malik] Zaire, Tarean Folston and C.J. Prosise. In a 31-28 Music City Bowl win over LSU, those three players handled 46 of Notre Dame’s 51 carries and totaled 244 of its 263 yards.

UPDATED 4:44 p.m. ET: In a statement, head coach Brian Kelly confirmed that Bryant will not play for Notre Dame in 2015.

“There are certain expectations within our program that must be met on a daily basis,” Kelly said, adding, “quite simply, Greg did not meet those expectations.”

The school added that Bryant will remain on scholarship and can practice with the Irish, but he will not occupy a spot on the 105-man roster.

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Travel stipends extended to CFP semifinals, too

College Football Playoff National Championship - Media Day Getty Images

Last year, amidst a mini uproar, the College Football Playoff announced that it would be helping families defray the costs of traveling to the inaugural championship game.  Ahead of the start of the second season with a playoff system in place, that defraying has been extended.

The CFP announced in a press release “that it will expand its program to offset expenses for student-athletes’ parents or guardians to travel to the Playoff Semifinals this season.” A $2,500 stipend per student-athlete will be doled out to up to 100 families from each of the four semifinalists to help with expenses for hotel accommodations, travel and meals.

The $2,500 stipend per student-athlete family for the CFP championship game will remain in place as well.

“We were pleased to implement this expense-reimbursement program for the first College Football Playoff National Championship and we received warm and sincere positive feedback from the family members,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP, in a statement. “Extending support to the Playoff Semifinals will be another terrific benefit for folks who will be thrilled to be present to celebrate the accomplishments and experiences of their student-athletes.”

This year’s semifinals will be the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. The 2015 title game will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

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Wake officially adds Wisconsin grad transfer Devin Gaulden

Devin Gaulden, Brandon Reilly

Earlier today Wake Forest announced that defensive back Thomas Brown has been suspended for the 2015 opener.  A short time later, they announced the addition of a player who could potentially take his place.

Following up on speculation from the last couple of days, Wake confirmed in a press release that it has officially added Devin Gaulden to its football roster.  Gaulden, a defensive back, decided late last month to transfer from Wisconsin.

Because Gaulden has already received his degree from UW, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015 as a grad transfer.

A three-star member of the Badgers’ 2011 recruiting class, Gaulden played in six games as a true freshman.  He missed all but the first four games of the 2012 season and the entire 2013 season because of knee issues.

Returning to play in all 14 games in 2014, he started five of those contests.

Because of the injury issues, there’s a distinct possibility Gaulden could receive a medical hardship waiver that would give him a sixth season of eligibility that would be used in 2016.  Wake has yet to address whether a waiver will be pursued.

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UGA, South Carolina open camp with QB question marks

Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier

For the past few years, both Georgia and South Carolina had a firm grasp on just who would be their starting quarterback entering summer camp.  This time around, though, both are entering somewhat unfamiliar territory.

The Bulldogs and Gamecocks opened Summer Camp 2015 Tuesday, with the former commencing a three-man quarterback competition and the latter a four-man.  Mark Richt might have a bit of an advantage on his counterpart in Columbia, though, as the UGA head coach at least has a quarterback who has started a game at this level of football.

Greyson Lambert transferred to UGA earlier this offseason from Virginia, where he started nine of 12 games in 2014.  While Lambert may have an edge in experience, his play was spotty at best for the Cavaliers — 11 interceptions, 10 touchdowns — leading some (most?) observers to tap Brice Ramsey as the front-runner, with the graduate transfer with two years of eligibility potentially battling Faton Bauta for the backup spot.

For now, though, all three of the potential starters are starting dead-even in the eyes of the coaching staff — and that’s expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future, at least until one grabs the job and runs away with it.

“We’re going to rotate the top three guys, the three scholarship quarterbacks,” Richt said in quotes distributed by the school. “We’re going to rotate them one guy with the first unit, one guy with the second unit, one guy with the third unit, rotating it around on a day‑to‑day basis until we think it should stop.

“[The competition] could go all the way to the first game. At some point we may drop it to a two‑man race. It’s just hard to say how it’s going to go. But that’s our starting point.”

As for Steve Spurrier, he’s in the early stages of sifting through his four-horse race, a field that includes Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nunez, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia.  That foursome has combined to attempt nine collegiate passes, with Mitch responsible for six of them as Dylan Thompson‘s primary backup last season and Orth the other three.

Quarterback, though, is just one position of interest to the Ol’ Ball Coach.

“The quarterback battle is going on,” said Spurrier. “Like I told them, we’re charting everything. A lot of jobs are up for grabs. We had two huddles – two offenses and two defenses going rapid fire. Hopefully we’ll be doing that all week. We had more guys getting snaps. We didn’t have a lot of “watchers” here today.”

Both Richt and Spurrier would like a decision sooner rather than later to give the starter extended time working with the first-team offense ahead of their respective openers, but neither will rush a decision just for the sake of making one. At least as far as Richt is concerned, though, decision-making will play a key role in who emerges as the starter when the trigger on a decision is pulled.

“We’re obviously talking to them about the things that are important, about quarterback play. We’re not necessarily saying, this is what you have to do to win the job, per se, but this is what you have to do to become the best quarterback you can be,” Richt explained. “That’s the goal for everybody: to be the best quarterback, linebacker, safety, running back, whatever it is. We’re all trying to perfect our trade, so to speak. We talk about in terms of perfecting your trade.

“The more you know about your position, the more you are prepared, the faster you can play, and you’ll make better decisions as a quarterback if you get in a good habit of how you think, how you progress through your reads. Even your fundamentals, the balance that you have when you throw the football, all those things together help you become the best you can be. That’s what we’re hoping for for everybody.”

USC will open the season Thursday, Sept, 3, against North Carolina in Charlotte, while UGA opens two days later at home against Louisiana-Monroe.  Two weeks later, the Bulldogs will host the Gamecocks in Athens in a key SEC East clash.

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Parking karma comes back and bites Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer AP

The parking space gods can be a ruthless and vindictive group, even if you happen to be the head football coach of the defending national champions.

Back in mid-June, kicker Jack Willoughby, who transferred to Ohio State from Duke a couple of months earlier, had the audacity to park in a spot reserved for Urban Meyer.  As most would do when put into this situation, Meyer decided to teach the young man a lesson that you don’t mess with a football coach’s perks.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and Meyer decided, for whatever reason, to park in Jacoby Boren‘s parking spot.  The Buckeye offensive lineman then decided to give his coach a tough-love taste of his own parking medicine.

Karma: just as vindictive and ruthless as the parking space gods.

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Wake suspends one starter for five games, another for opener

Duke v Wake Forest Getty Images

Just a couple of days before summer camp opens, Wake Forest has meted out punishment that will impact both its offensive line and defensive secondary once the 2015 season kicks off.

The football program announced in a press release that Ryan Anderson has been suspended for the first five games of the 2015 season for violating unspecified team rules.  The redshirt freshman offensive lineman will miss games against Elon, Syracuse, Army Indiana and Florida State before being eligible to return for the Oct. 10 road trip to Boston College.

Prior to his suspension, Anderson was viewed as the likely starter at center for the Demon Deacons.

In addition to Anderson, Wake also announced that Thomas Brown will be suspended for the opener against Elon for, you guessed it, violating unspecified team rules.  The junior was slated to be one of Wake’s starting safeties.

The past two seasons, Brown has played in 23 games as a backup defensive back.  As a true freshman in 2013, he returned a fumble 59 yards against Duke to give Wake a 7-0 lead in an eventual 28-21 loss.

Both Brown and Anderson will be permitted to practice with the team during their respective suspensions.

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All-American: Cincinnati overwhelming AAC media favorite

Tommy Tuberville

As far as the media is concerned, there’s no doubt Cincinnati will be hoisting a new trophy to go along with its new duds.

In a poll of 30 beat writers covering the league, the Bearcats, one of three co-champions in 2014, were tapped by 22 of them to claim the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game.  The only others receiving votes were Memphis (five), Houston (two) and UCF (one).  Memphis and UCF were co-champions along with Cincinnati last season.

Not surprisingly, UC is the overwhelming favorite to win the East Division as well, garnering 29 of the 30 first-place votes.  The only other team to earn a nod in that division was UCF.

The West Division was much closer, with Memphis (13), Houston (10) and Navy (seven) all receiving first-place votes.  The Midshipmen will be entering its first season ever as a member of a conference after 134 years as a football independent.

Below are the complete media preseason voting results.

AAC Preseason Poll

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Frank Solich adds new assistant to Ohio coaching staff

Anthony Perkins

With summer camp right around the corner, Frank Solich has made an addition to his Ohio University football staff.

The Bobcats announced in a press release Monday that Anthony Perkins has been added as Solich’s cornerbacks coach.  Perkins will replace James Ward, who coached the same position the past two seasons before departing the program in late June.

No official reason for Ward’s departure has been given.

“We are excited to have Anthony join our staff,” Solich said in a statement. “He is an up-and-coming young coach and we are excited to have him get to work with our core of cornerbacks.”

Perkins spent the past two seasons at FCS Indiana State. He played his college football at Colorado in a career that ended in 2011, capping his time as a Buffalo as one of four senior captains.

(Photo credit: Indiana State athletics)

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4-star-signee-turned-MLBer-turned-walk-on appears done at Miss. St.

Rashun Dixon

It seems as if Rashun Dixon‘s long, lengthy journey from touted football prospect to drafted baseball prospect to football hopeful yet again in Starkville has come to an unofficial end.

Mississippi State players reported for summer camp over the weekend and commenced practice in earnest for the 2015 season Monday.  One of those not present was the sophomore tight end Dixon, whose name is not a part of MSU’s online roster.

On his Twitter account late last month, Dixon indicated that he was back on the Left Coast.

Dixon played in two games last season, but it’s his back story — and his status as a legacy player — that makes his apparent departure noteworthy.

In 2008, Dixon was a four-star member of MSU’s recruiting class, the last of Sylvester Croom‘s tenure.  Dixon never suited up for the Bulldogs, however, as he was drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland Athletics and embarked on a career in professional baseball.  He batted in the neighborhood of .250 during his time with the organization and was ultimately released.

Six years after his initial flirtation with football, the 23-year-old Dixon decided to return to the Bulldogs as a walk-on player.  He played in two games during the 2014 season.

Dixon is the younger brother of Anthony Dixon, who led MSU in rushing every year from 2007-09.  He’s also the brother of Deshun Dixon, a Bulldog walk-on who was arrested in late April and charged with driving under the influence.  He’s not currently listed on MSU’s online roster.

(Photo credit: Mississippi State athletics)

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After sitting out 2014, Temple WR Anderson ruled eligible for 2015

Robby Anderson

Temple’s offense should be getting back a key contributor this fall, and he should be well rested. Robby Anderson, who was not with the Owls in 2014, has been ruled eligible to play again this fall.

Temple head coach Matt Rhule learned of the eligibility update from the NCAA Monday evening as he and other Temple representatives were gathering in Rhode Island for the start of American Athletic Conference media day festivities.

“I am elated,” Rhule said (per Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com). “I love the kid and just on a personal level, even when it looked like he wasn’t coming back, I maintained a relationship.”

Anderson was not enrolled at Temple last season, so he worked on improving his academic standing with junior college classes. After completing junior college requirements, Anderson enrolled back at Temple for summer classes. The NCAA approved of his academic improvement and ruled him eligible as a result.

Anderson led the Owls in receiving in 2013 with 791 yards and nine touchdowns. If he can mimic that level of success, he should once again be the top target for Temple quarterback P.J. Walker this season. Temple has a chance to have a successful season this year with a respected defense and growing and maturing Walker under center leading the offense. If Anderson steps right in to be the go-to receiver after sitting out the 2014 season, Temple’s potential could be worth monitoring in the American Athletic Conference.

Temple will open the season at home on September 5 against Penn State.

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SMU adds former Gamecock to defensive line

Pharoh Cooper, Cody Gibson, Deon Green, Rory Anderson

SMU enters the 2015 season with a new head coach in Chad Morris and plenty of room for improvement across the roster. The defensive line may have just gotten a little better on Monday, thanks to the summer arrival of a former South Carolina Gamecock.

Deon Green has formally been added to the roster at SMU, as evidenced by his inclusion on the team’s official roster Monday. Green missed out on playing in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons due to a knee injury that required surgery and a good amount of rehab work. He appeared in just two games in 2013 and recorded just four tackles for the Gamecocks last fall. He made the decision to transfer in January and was one of many South Carolina players to do so.

Green was a three-star recruit out of high school. The Orlando native will finally have a chance to compete and play a key role on his new team. SMU’s defense was 113th in the nation in total sacks, 117th against the run and 124th in tackles for loss last season. For reference, there were 128 FBS programs last season.

Helmet sticker to The Dallas Morning News.

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Assault charges filed against Ex-Utah CB Dominique Hatfield

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The latest development in the off-field saga surrounding former Utah Ute defensive back Dominique Hatfield comes in the form of formal police charges. Hatfield has been charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from his involvement in a fight during a party in July. A police investigation is still ongoing.

A probable cause statement accuses Hatfield of refusing to stop rolling marijuana after being asked to stop. As the exchange escalated, Hatfield and others allegedly grabbed the victim and striking him in the face and other parts of the body, per a report from KSL.com. The victim had cuts on his face and nose as well as some bruising around the eyes, shoulder and back.

Utah recently dismissed Hatfield from the program amid the initial allegations and connection to the fight. The dismissal followed an initial suspension from the team, and was based on information gathered related to the incident. Despite being dismissed, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham seemingly left the door open for a possible return to the program for Hatfield. How this latest information changes that outlook is probably not very promising.

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