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Predictions 101 — Week 10

LSU vs Alabama Football AP

After a perfect Week 9, the fall from grace last week was inevitable.

Last week, we went 5-2 straight, losing the two biggest games (good for Georgia and Notre Dame, bad for us), and 3-4 versus “the number.”

On the bright side, the USOTW is on a roll (good news for Maryland on Saturday).

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thurs., Nov. 1, thru Sat., Nov. 3)

1) No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU
Sat., Nov. 3 — 8 p.m. ET, CBS

No offense to the parties involved, but we’re tickled that another rematch between these two in January appears to be out of the question. We like old school football, but it’s kind of “too much of a good thing,” and also a lack of fireworks issue.

In this one, we’re seriously wondering if the Tigers will get into the end zone. When you’re saying that about a Top 5 team playing at home, that’s really something, but LSU was able to muster only three field goals in its two meetings with Alabama last season. Of course, that was good enough to earn a split with the Crimson Tide, who were able to register just one touchdown in that twin-bill.

Considering the fact that the Tigers have had to play with five different offensive line combinations this season, in front of rocky quarterbacking, it’s hard to figure where the points are going to come from against Alabama’s rock-solid defense.

LSU ranks eighth in the SEC in both scoring and total offense, and is particularly challenged in the pass game (11th in SEC in passing efficiency and 12th in passing offense).

Playing in Death Valley, however, will be a significant plus for Les Miles’ crew, which is also more battle tested than the Tide. This will be the Tigers’ fourth consecutive game against ranked opposition. Prior to last Saturday’s 38-7 victory over Mississippi State, Alabama hadn’t faced a ranked foe since the season opener versus Michigan.

Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron counteracts many of LSU’s advantages through his leadership and decision making under fire. He leads the nation in passing efficiency and has yet to throw an interception this season.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 7

The pick: Alabama 20-6

2) No. 2 Oregon at No. 18 USC
Sat., Nov. 3 — 7 p.m. ET, FOX

The Trojans won’t need any help from themselves to lose to the Ducks. Oregon is more than capable of flying past USC all by its lonesome, unlike Arizona, which needed Troy to participate by burying itself last Saturday.

The deadly mix of five turnovers, 13 penalties and Lane Kiffin’s wretched coaching will get you every time, even in Tucson.

And now the Trojans step way up in class as they host the Ducks, who have no shortage of motivation to add USC to their growing list of victims. The Trojans are the only non-SEC team to beat Oregon since the start of the 2010 season and since that 38-35 defeat last November, the Ducks have won 11 straight, scoring 40 or more points each time.

Oregon currently leads the nation in scoring with 53.4 points per game.

USC leads the nation in getting the least out of their talent.

The once-thought-to-be-mighty Trojans rank fifth in the Pac-12 in total offense and sixth in total defense. The writing is already on the walls in Troy. Mr. Kiffin will shepherd USC through the rest of the probationary period and then be shown the door. (Unless some poor misguided soul decides that Kiffin is the answer and hires him away first. Don’t laugh. It has happened a couple times before.)

It’ll be surreal to see the Trojans melt in their own Coliseum, but we just can see it going down any other way.

The Ducks are incredibly fast starters, outscoring opponents, 290-56, in the first half this season. But, while Oregon won’t be able to turn the game over to backups after the second quarter as it normally does, USC isn’t capable of playing catch up.

The Trojans have scored only 28 points in the third quarter all season. Yes, eight games, 28 points. Yikes. Obviously, making the proper halftime adjustments is a concept that’s completely foreign to the Kiffin brain trust.

Opening point spread: Oregon by 6

The pick: Oregon 49-31

3) Oklahoma State at No. 3 Kansas State
Sat., Nov. 3 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

This one seems very clear on paper. That’s the only thing that makes us nervous.

The Wildcats have already dealt with the likes of Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas Tech, limiting each of them to 24 points or less. Therefore, what reason would there be to not side with a Kansas State team that’s averaging more than 44 points and has scored 55 points in back-to-back games?

Furthermore, the Wildcats rank first in the Big 12 and fifth in the nation in turnover margin (+1.9). Giving extra possessions to quarterback Collin Klein equals “no chance.”

Klein’s counterpart, Wes Lunt, returned to action last week in a victory over TCU, after missing the three previous games with a knee injury. He completed 18-of-33 for 324 yards and got into a groove as the game went on, leading the Cowboys to 36 unanswered points after falling behind 14-0.

We doubt Lunt will continue with that momentum in Manhattan in what will be only the second start on the road for the redshirt freshman.

Opening point spread: Kansas State by 7

The pick: Kansas State 41-24

4) Pittsburgh at No. 4 Notre Dame
Sat., Nov. 3 — 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC

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

The Panthers roll into South Bend hoping to wreck the Fighting Irish’s perfect season and BCS title dreams. The possibility does exist since we’ve got a double-digit favorite coming home off a massive victory on the road to face a scrappy spoiler with nothing to lose. We’ve seen this sort of upset many times before, even under the watchful eye of Touchdown Jesus.

But with Notre Dame’s return to relevance and so much on the line, including a Heisman Trophy campaign for linebacker Manti Te‘o, we believe focus won’t waver. The Irish are further bolstered by the third-quarter display at Oklahoma last week that featured clock killing 12- and 13-play drives.

Pitt won’t see the ball nearly enough to even think about pulling off a shocker. And when they do, Te‘o will be in the way. He might even get into the end zone for a Heisman moment and match the Panthers’ scoring output.

Opening point spread: Notre Dame by 19

The pick: Notre Dame 41-6

5) No. 16 Texas A&M at No. 17 Mississippi State
Sat., Nov. 3 — noon ET, ESPN

Last week’s divergent results and America’s growing fascination with Johnny Manziel cloud the reality here in our book.

We aren’t saying to discount the fact that the Aggies dropped 63 points on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium or forget about the way the Bulldogs were dominated at Alabama last Saturday. However, when looking at this particular game on its own, it appears to be close to a draw.

Manziel’s ability to make plays is simply amazing, but Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins will be able to counterpunch effectively.

This season ending gauntlet for the Bulldogs is off the charts (Bama, A&M, LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss), but something is telling us that they’ll pickup at least a couple wins and this is one of them.

Opening point spread: Texas A&M by 2 1/2

The pick: Mississippi State 28-27

UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK

Georgia Tech at Maryland
Sat., Nov. 3 — 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network

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

This is an intriguing matchup as Georgia Tech can only move the football on the ground and Maryland boasts one of the nation’s best defenses, which allows less than 78 rushing yards per game.

In the past two weeks, the Terrapins combined to allow just 48 yards rushing, but suffered a pair of heart-breaking ACC setbacks to North Carolina State and Boston College. Maryland has lost by a field goal or less in three of their four defeats.

How will the Terps move the ball? Their 116th ranked offense hasn’t done much of that all year and they are without a healthy scholarship quarterback after seeing all four of them go down with injuries.

Desperate times call for desperate measures and that means true freshman Shawn Petty, who was previously a linebacker, gets the nod. Last year at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, Petty tossed 15 touchdown strikes against four interceptions, and added another nine scores on the ground while running an option offense.

The Yellow Jackets enter below .500 and are still searching for their first road win.

In the battle of options, we’ll go with the home team that has played close games all year and might just get another big special teams play from freshman wideout Stefon Diggs.

Opening point spread: Georgia Tech by 7

The pick: Maryland 16-13

RIVALRY GAME OF THE WEEK

Michigan at Minnesota
Sat., Nov. 3 — noon ET, Big Ten Network

In 1903, legendary Michigan head coach Fielding Yost feared that Minnesota fans might contaminate his water supply, so he instructed student manager Tommy Roberts to get something to hold their own water. Roberts came back from a Minneapolis store with a five-gallon earthenware jug that cost him 30 cents.

Following that first game between the Wolverines and Golden Gophers — a 6-6 tie called with two minutes remaining due to chaos (gotta love it!) — Yost left the jug behind and it became a beloved “trophy” for Minnesota officials, who looked upon the tie as a momentous victory over a Michigan team that was on a 28-game winning streak.

Yost eventually asked for his jug back, but was told: “If you want it, you’ll have to win it.” Thus began this whole business of rivalry trophies. Yup, “The Little Brown Jug” … neither little, nor brown … but the granddaddy of them all.

The “point-a-minute” Wolverines of Yost’s day wouldn’t even recognize the Michigan team of the previous two weeks, which hasn’t visited the end zone. Four field goals were enough to beat Michigan State, 12-10, on Oct. 20, but three three-pointers didn’t come close to getting the job done at Nebraska in a 23-9 loss last Saturday.

Of course, not having Denard Robinson at quarterback was a huge problem in Lincoln. After Robinson re-aggravated a nerve injury that affects his throwing hand and arm, backup signalcaller Russell Bellomy struggled mightily. Bellomy attempted 16 passes and completed only three to teammates. Worse yet, three of his passes connected with Cornhuskers.

Minnesota broke a three-game losing streak last week, winning its first Big Ten game with a 44-28 decision over Purdue. A balanced Gopher offense finished with 458 total yards, committed zero turnovers and scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions.

If Robinson isn’t right, the Wolverines could lose their grip on Yost’s jug once again.

Opening point spread: Michigan by 12 1/2

The pick: Michigan 24-21

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Reserve GaTech QB transfers to Oregon

Ty Griffin

This offseason has seen Oregon lose two reserve quarterbacks to transfers.  With today’s development, that net loss at the position has been cut in half.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account, Ty Griffin announced that he is officially transferring into the Ducks football program.  Griffin will have to sit out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Griffin serve as a backup to the backup in his lone season at Georgia Tech.  He was a two-star member of the Yellow Jackets’ 2013 class coming out of high school in Georgia.

Griffin also happens to be the older brother of Taj Griffin, a four-star 2015 recruit rated by Rivals.com as the No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country.  Coincidentally or not, the younger Griffin verbally committed to the Ducks in April.

(Photo credit: Georgia Tech athletics)

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Report: ex-Wazzu QB headed to Louisville

Tyler Bruggman

Less than two weeks ago, it was reported that Tyler Bruggman was leaving Washington State. At the time, Bruggman was rumored to have been released from his Wazzu scholarship to Arkansas, Duke, Indiana and Louisville.

As it turns out, it appears the latter ACC school has won out.

According to 247Sports.com, Bruggman has decided to transfer to Louisville to continue his collegiate playing career. The UofL has yet to announce the player’s addition to the roster.

More than likely, Bruggman will be forced to sit out the 2014 season. He would, though, have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2015.

Bruggman was a four-star member of Mike Leach‘s first Wazzu recruiting class in 2013, rated as the No. 18 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Arizona. He took a redshirt as a true freshman last season.

Shortly before national Signing Day in 2013, he flipped to Wazzu from Arizona State. He also held offers from, among others, Arizona, Arkansas, BYU, Duke, Michigan State and Ole Miss.

(Photo credit: Washington State athletics)

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Injured LSU frosh released from hospital

Trey Lealaimatafao

The news regarding an incoming freshman keeps getting better and better.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, LSU defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao was released from a local hospital Wednesday. Two days earlier, Lealaimatafao was rushed to the hospital after reportedly punching a glass window in LSU’s weight room.  The player was reportedly upset following an argument with his girlfriend.

Initial reports that Lealaimatafao was facing an amputation of his arm proved incorrect.

“He’s recovering and the family has asked that no other details be released,” a school spokesperson told the Times-Picayune. “They appreciate all the concern and outpouring of support but have nothing further to say.”

Lealaimatafao, a three-star member of the Tigers’ most recent recruiting class, is expected to miss the entire 2014 season because of the injury.

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James Franklin opens up about daughter’s sickle-cell

James Franklin AP

Since taking over at Penn State, and even dating back to his time at Vanderbilt, James Franklin may have ruffled a feather or two or 50.  The following story, however, might soften some of those rough edges.

Wednesday, the new Nittany Lions head coach and some of his players visited a children’s hospital in Hershey, Pa.  During the course of a meeting with the media, Franklin dropped some 411 on something that, as far as we can ascertain, has never been made public.

“You know, this (hospital visit) is important to us, too, because our youngest daughter has sickle-cell disease, the full-blown disease,” Franklin said according to PennLive.com.

Five-year-old Addy, the coach revealed, was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia shortly after her birth. As the website notes, the disease affects 100,000 people, most of whom are black.

Franklin also acknowledged that the presence of experts in the blood disorder’s field in the state played a role, at least on some level, in him leaving Vanderbilt for Penn State.

“It was a big factor in us coming to Penn State, making sure that we were going to have the right type of support,” said the coach. “We’re fortunate, our daughter’s doing great but I know then when they come, we’re going to come and have a trip down here and sit down and talk to the doctors.

“And then fortunately, the person that used to run the sickle-cell branch here at the (Hershey) hospital now is in State College. So it’s a tremendous blessing.”

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher revealed back in August of 2011 that his young son was battling a rare blood disorder, and subsequently announced a foundation that would raise money to research and combat the illness. Franklin said during his visit to the hospital today that they talked “about possibly getting my wife involved in, and fundraising at the hospital or starting a foundation” to raise money for sickle-cell research.

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January the estimated ETA for ex-Vols QB in Charlotte

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptcyzdfhode2nwjlnwq4nwiynmzknwuwyjzmmjkzntyx AP

Earlier this month it was reported that erstwhile Tennessee quarterback Riley Ferguson would be transferring to Charlotte.

While that still appears to be the case, it won’t happen for a little bit further down the road.

Josh Ward of Knoxville radio station WNML tweeted earlier this evening that Ferguson will enroll at Charlotte in January of next year.  Ward confirmed the development with the player’s father. Ferguson’s brother Zach is a redshirt sophomore on the football team, which likely played a role on some level in his move to the school.

UT head coach Butch Jones confirmed in late May that it was very likely Ferguson would be leaving the Vols.

Because he will sit out the 2014 season, Ferguson will be eligible to play for the 49ers in 2015, when the current FCS program makes its official transition to the FBS as a Conference USA member.

A three-star member of the Vols’ 2013 recruiting class, Ferguson was rated as the No. 23 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in North Carolina. He took a redshirt as a true freshman.

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Dave Wannstedt back in college football — as TV analyst

Dave Wannstedt AP

For those college football fans who’ve yearned for the return of the mustachioed Camaro man, today’s your lucky day.

Since “resigning” — winkwinknudgenudge — as Pittsburgh’s head coach December of 2011, Dave Wannstedt has served as an assistant at the professional level, spending two years with the Buffalo Bills and 2013 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Now, however, he’s back in college football, albeit in a slightly different capacity.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wannstedt revealed that he will serve as a television analyst for the 2014 season.  The long-time coach will be a part of FOX Sports’ college football pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with co-hosting a weekly show on the Big Ten Network.

“I guess I am moving to the dark side, so to speak,” the coach told the Post-Gazette. “I reached out to several media outlets to see if I could get into the TV side of things and Fox offered me this job after several discussions.

“I have always had it in the back of my mind that this is what I wanted to do and now I have the opportunity and it should be really a lot of fun and I think it is something that will be a challenge but that I’m really looking forward to.”

The paper writes that Wannstedt “will be based in Chicago but will fly to Los Angeles for the Fox Shows each weekend.”

The 62-year-old Wannstedt didn’t state either way whether he’d like to continue his coaching career.

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Five-star recruit facing felony ‘denies the charges’

Darnell Salomon

There’s been yet another development in a situation involving a highly-rated member of the Class of 2016.

Earlier today it was reported that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of 17-year-old Darnell Salomon.  The five-star wide receiver has been accused of stealing items — iPhone 5, credit cards, cash — from a dorm room on the Georgia campus while he attended an UGA football camp.

In a statement sent to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, Salomon’s attorney did the expected and proclaimed his client’s innocence.  He also said he is working with authorities in Georgia to have his client, who lives in Florida, turn himself in on the warrant.

“Darnell and his family were informed of the issuance of a warrant for his arrest earlier today. Since that time our office has been in contact with the Athens-Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office. We are currently working in cooperation with these officials to arrange his surrender. Our client denies the charges presented against him. Darnell and his family wish to thank those who have offered words of encouragement and support during this difficult time.”

I should also point out that I received some bad information earlier today — the charge Salomon is facing is a felony, not a misdemeanor as I had previously been told.

It’s unclear how this incident and the charge will impact the recruitment of Salomon, who holds more than a dozen offers from high-profile schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Tennessee and USC.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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Bearcats, Hoosiers make future home-and-home official

Football vs. Bowling Green State University, 09/14/13_Mike Dickbernd

A short time after it was first reported, the two football parties made it official.

In twin press releases, Cincinnati and Indiana confirmed that the two football programs will square off in a future home-and-home series. The Hoosiers will host the Bearcats on Sept. 18, 2021, with UC returning the hosting favor Sept. 24, 2022.

The Bearcats have future games scheduled against Ohio State (2014, 2019), Miami (Fla.) (2015), Michigan (2017) and Boise State (2019, 2020) while the Hoosiers have, well, nothing even remotely resembling that level of non-conference competition.

“Facing Cincinnati reinforces our commitment to adding strong non-conference programs to our future schedules,” IU athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “It is a great opportunity for our large alumni base in the Greater Cincinnati Area to come out and watch the Hoosiers. Along with the addition of UConn (2019, 2020), we are set up to reach our goal of playing seven home games every season and are consistent with the Big Ten’s policy that each school play at least one major conference opponent in the non-conference each year.”

The two teams have met on a football field 14 times, with Indiana holding a 9-3-2 advantage that includes wins in the last five games played. The last time they squared off was in 1998.

(Photo credit: Indiana athletics)

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Future Stanford-SJSU games might be at 49ers’ new home

Levi's Stadium

Earlier this offseason, the Pac-12 announced that Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, would host its conference championship game for the next three years.

Depending how things shake out in the coming months, the NFL stadium could be seeing some regular season college football action as well.

San Jose State head coach Ron Caragher confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News Wednesday that talks have been initiated between his school and Stanford about renewing their series.  If that series returns, the coach also confirmed, it would likely take place at a neutral site, Levi’s Stadium.

There’s some fringe talk about it,” Caragher said about playing a neutral site game/games with the Cardinal. “Has anything been finalized? Not necessarily. But I think it’d be great.”

SJSU and Stanford have met on a football field 67 times since the first game was played in 1900.  However, last year’s game — a 34-13 Cardinal win in Stanford Stadium in the season opener — was the final game between the two programs until a new contract is signed.

Stanford comfortably leads the in-state series 52-14-1, with San Jose State’s last win coming in 2006.

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Larry Scott’s the anti-Bowlsby, optimistic on future of college sports

Alfred E. Neuman

In leading off the Big 12 media Days Monday, commissioner Bob Bowlsby painted a bleak picture of the future of athletics at the collegiate level, stating that, because of the O’Bannon lawsuit and the like, both men’s and women’s Olympic sports could be eliminated.

His Pac-12 counterpart, on the other hand, has taken the Alfred E. Neuman approach to the sports horizon on the college front.

Speaking as he kicked off his conference’s media days Wednesday, Larry Scott (pictured) acknowledged the gloom and doom some have espoused as of late.    For his part, however, the future’s so bright he might as well wear shades.

“While we’ve heard some doomsday and some threats over the last week, I am very confident and optimistic about where college sports is going,” the commissioner said during his address to the media. “We know there are some significant challenges out there, and we know it’s time to make significant changes. Today requires that we do more for student-athletes who work so hard to find balance for their passions for their sport while still wanting to get an education.”

It wasn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows from Scott as the commissioner warned that going to the professional model — i.e. paying athletes as employees of the universities — for football and perhaps basketball could make Bowlsby’s comments very prescient.

“We need to make necessary reforms, and we will,” he said. “But radically changing the model into a professional model or trying to reinvent the construct where student-athletes are treated as employees would threaten the existence of many women’s sports (and) Olympic sports.”

Our best guess? The future of college sports will fall somewhere closer to Scott’s optimism than Bowlsby’s dire pessimism. There’s too much money at stake, and too many smart individuals like Scott involved, for it to not work itself out in the end. Certainly collegiate athletics will have a different look even just a decade down the road, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Change is necessary, whether it’s forced through the courts or voluntarily with the universities and the NCAA coming to their collective senses and realizing the current system is broke and in dire need of a major renovation.

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Warrant issued for five-star WR implicated in UGA dorm theft

iPhone theft

A couple of days later, we now have a name to go with the accusation.

Monday it was reported that an unidentified 2016 football recruit was the prime suspect in the burglary of a Georgia dorm. The player, who was staying with a pair of Bulldog football players during a camp, allegedly stole a wallet with cash and a pair of credit cards in it as well as an iPhone 5 out of the room of two female Bulldog athletes.

It was initially reported that the player likely wasn’t facing an arrest or extradition because he was a juvenile from out of state. That turned out to not be the case as multiple media outlets Wednesday reported that Darnell Salomon, the recruit in question, has a warrant out for his arrest in connection to the incident.

It’s believed the charge will be of the misdemeanor variety.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

It’s unclear at this point whether Salomon plans to turn himself in to fight the charges. According to the police report, UGA Police Sgt. Dale Parrish of the notified Salomon’s mother that a warrant had been taken and the procedure for turning himself into the Athens-Clarke County Sherriff’s Office.

The 17-year-old Salomon’s high school football coach proclaimed his player’s innocence.

“When the facts in the case come out we’re all sure Darnell Salomon will be cleared of all charges,” Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic Mike Tunsil told 247Sports.com in a statement.

That same recruiting website lists Salomon as a five-star prospect and the No. 3 wide receiver in the Class of 2016. The same holds true for Scout.com.

The 6-2, 186-pound high schooler holds scholarship offers from a veritable who’s who of the college football elite: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina Tennessee and USC just to name a few.

Salomon has yet to verbally commit to any school, although he still has two seasons worth of high school football to get through. Well, that and this legal hiccup.

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Aggravated assault arrest leads to Georgia dismissing DT Taylor

Georgia Bulldogs logo

Following an arrest for aggravated assault earlier this week, Georgia has dismissed defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor. As reported yesterday, Taylor was arrested for the second time this offseason, this time being charged for aggravated assault on a female.

According to The Telegraph, Taylor was released from jail after 28 hours. Soon after his release from jail, the University of Georgia athletics department released a brief statement confirming his dismissal from the football program. Taylor is now the third player on Georgia’s defense to be given the boot this offseason.

Taylor was arrested in March following theft by deception charges against he and three other Georgia players. To avoid a suspension by the team at that time, Taylor entered a pre-trial intervention program. Unfortunately, it appears Taylor was unable to stay out of trouble and will now have bigger problems to worry about. Any arrest or citation is considered a violation of the program.

As far as football is concerned, which really is trivial at best when discussing a player accused of strangling a woman, Georgia should be able to survive the depth concern on the defensive line. The Bulldogs return five players with experience and have recruited well at the position, but now the focus on recruiting for the future will have to shift a bit more on the defensive front than initially expected.

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West Virginia, NC State announce 2018-2019 series

Dana Holgorsen

West Virginia has not been shy on scheduling news this week. In addition to plans to play Tennessee in Charlotte to open the 2018 season and head coach Dana Holgorsen suggesting a revival of The Backyard Brawl with Pittsburgh, the Mountaineers rolled out plans for a home-and-home series with a different ACC opponent, North Carolina State. West Virginia and North Carolina State will square off in 2018 and 2019, according to a West Virginia statement.

West Virginia will host NC State on September 15, 2018. North Carolina State will host the second game the following season on September 14, 2019. This scheduling agreement will satisfy NC State’s non-conference scheduling requirement in the ACC, which requires each member to schedule a power conference opponent each season in non-conference play. NC State now has the non-conference scheduling requirement fulfilled from 2017 through 2021 (at Notre Dame in 2017, WVU in 2018 and 2019, Mississippi State home-and-home in 2020 and 2021).

As noted above, West Virginia is scheduled to open the 2018 season in Charlotte against Tennessee, giving the Mountaineers two non-conference games against power conference opponents in 2018 with one game to fill. As it stands now, there is no scheduling requirement in the Big 12 to schedule non-conference opponents from other power conferences (although it is certainly encouraged by Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops).

“I am excited about this series, because it gives our football program and our fans an outstanding home-and-home series with a team from the ACC,” West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck said in the released statement. “WVU has a lot of alumni living in North Carolina, especially in the triangle region, so it gives our fans a game that is close. We have had a competitive games over the years with NC State, and this is a chance to restart the series.”

In all, the two schools have faced each other 10 times on the football field, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. Each school has won five games in the series that dates back to 1914.

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Did Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops criticize Texas A&M’s scheduling? YESSIR!

Bob Stoops

Bob Stoops has been making the rounds through the ESPN Car Wash today and he has been throwing out a couple nuggets worth digesting. Aside from his latest jab at Alabama head coach Nick Saban‘s thoughts on the Sugar Bowl, Stoops took aim at non-conference scheduling by a former Big 12 foe, Texas A&M.

Texas A&M opens the regular season on the road in SEC play against South Carolina, the favorite to come out of the SEC East this fall, but after that the Aggies have home games against Lamar (and FCS school) and Rice. After that is a road game at SMU. On November 1 Texas A&M will host UL Monroe in College Station the week before a road game at Auburn. Looking at the non-conference schedule for the Aggies leaves Stoops unimpressed.

Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule is anything but a murderer’s row, that much is for sure. Lamar is coming off a 5-6 season at the FCS level last season. Rice made a surprise run to a Conference USA West Division championship and ended the season with a record of 10-4, but the Owls are hardly considered among the elite of the Group of Five at this point. SMU filed to meet eligibility for postseason play with a 5-7 record and ULM broke even at 6-6 but was not invited to a bowl game.

To be fair, Oklahoma has rarely gone out and put together one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country on an annual basis, but the Sooners have lined up some marquee non-conference opponents for home-and-home opportunities. Recent seasons have seen Oklahoma play Notre Dame and Florida State while future seasons will see Ohio State, UCLA and historic rival Nebraska. But the Sooners have a share of games against programs like Tulsa and UTEP littered throughout as well. Texas A&M will have future games against Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon coming up as well.

The other part of the argument is how difficult Texas A&M’s conference schedule will be compared to that of Oklahoma over the course of time as well. The Sooners may have to battle a resurgent Texas in due time, and Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor have their moments, but the Aggies are pit in the same division as Alabama, Auburn and LSU.

Is Stoops fair to criticize the difficulty of Texas A&M’s schedule?

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Win The Pac-12: Oregon Ducks picked as preseason media favorite

Marcus Mariota

Stanford has ruled supreme in the Pac-12 each of the past two seasons, but Oregon is picked to return to the top of the Pac-12 mountain in 2014. Oregon has been picked to finish first in the Pac-12 North Division, receiving 37 first-place votes in a media poll, and to win the Pac-12, receiving 24 out of a possible 39 votes.

Oregon ran away with first-place votes in the division voting. Two-time defending Pac-12 champion Stanford received just two first-place votes in the north. Washington, Oregon State, Washington State and California followed in the Pac-12 North Division predictions, respectively. UCLA ended up running away with the Pac-12 South Division votes as well. The Bruins, among the more trendy College Football Playoff contenders this offseason, received 37 of 39 first-place votes in the South. USC and defending division champion Arizona State each received one. The Trojans are predicted to finish in second place in the south, followed by Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and Colorado.

In a rematch of the first Pac-12 Championship Game in conference history, Oregon is predicted to once again top UCLA, receiving 24 votes to UCLA’s 13. Stanford and USC each received one Pac-12 championship vote from the media at Pac-12 media day. Oregon is also widely considered one of the top contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Here are the Pac-12 predictions, as released by the Pac-12 Wednesday.

NORTH DIVISION

1. Oregon (37) 232

2. Stanford (2) 192

3. Washington 142

4. Oregon State 125

5. Washington State 87

6. California 41

SOUTH DIVISION

1. UCLA (37) 231

2. USC (1) 181

3. Arizona State (1) 163

4. Arizona 119

5. Utah 82

6. Colorado 43

PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: Oregon (24 votes)

Others receiving votes:  UCLA (13), Stanford (1), USC (1)

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