Miami-FSU game making point-spread history

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Thanks to a combination of the rankings of the two teams involved and a really poor slate of Week 10 games, this weekend’s edition of the Miami-Florida State in-state rivalry game is drawing a vast majority of the attention.

Not only does it involve a pair of former national powers seeing a resurgence, it’s two teams that are both undefeated and ranked inside the Top 10.  The matchup will have implications when it comes to the ACC as well as the BCS title chase.  On paper, it’s a huge Sunshine State showdown dripping with conference and national implications.

Sin City, however, sees a yawner on the horizon.

According to Las Vegas insider/ESPN radio host RJ Bell, the Seminoles opened as a 21-point favorite over the Hurricanes for the game that will be played in Tallahassee Saturday.  The line has subsequently gone up to plus-22 for The U.

Bell stated that is far and away the “[b]iggest spread in history between undefeated Top 10 teams this late in season.”  The only other two such games, going back to 1980, with a double-digit spread?  Bell has that 411 as well:

  • Texas minus-12 hosting Oklahoma State (10/25/2008)
  • Miami minus-11 vs. Ohio State (2002 BCS Title Game)

Texas won its game, but didn’t cover (28-24).  The Buckeyes-Hurricanes game?  I think we all know how that one played out.

While the Seminoles’ dominance — Top 10 in scoring offense/defense and total offense/defense — over the vast majority of the 2013 season is certainly playing a significant role in the lopsided spread in — and thus perception of — the game, the Hurricanes have certainly done their share of late to add to the blowout talk.

In each of the last three games, UM has been forced to overcome double-digit deficits.  In two of those games, they scored the winning touchdown with under a minute remaining in regulation.

Those three wins came against ACC teams — Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest — that have a combined record of 9-12 against FBS programs this season.

As for FSU’s last three conference games?  They’ve outscored Maryland, Clemson and North Carolina State — the former two are/were ranked in the Top 25 — by a combined score of 163-31.

Hopefully, the game on the field will be better than what most off it are predicting it to be.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.