Duke crashes coaches’ poll for first time since 1994

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Thanks to just one upset of a ranked team this weekend, there was very little change throughout most of the USA Today Top 25.  There was though, one rather remarkable addition to the coaches’ poll.

Duke, which unbelievably controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal with just two games remaining in the regular season, entered the Top 25 after Week 12 at No. 24.  It’s the first time the 8-2 Blue Devils have been ranked by the coaches since the final release of the 1994 season, which was also the last time Duke won eight games in a year.

With just one win in any of what will be at least three more games (regular season/ACC championship/bowl), the Blue Devils would reach a win total not seen by the football program since 1938.  The Blue Devils have never finished a season with double-digit wins, another feat that’s well within the realm of possibility.

With all of the Top Four teams winning, those positions remain unchanged: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor.  The Tide lost two first-place votes to the Seminoles, with the former now standing with 58 and the latter with four.

While there was no positional changes amongst that group, there was some movement.  The Buckeyes are now 18 points ahead of the Bears in a poll that actually matters when it comes to the BCS, down from 25 points ahead of BU a week ago.

Stanford, the lone ranked upset of the weekend, fell from No. 5 all the way down to No. 12.  Oregon, which lost to Stanford two Thursdays ago, and Auburn climbed two spots each to No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.  The Ducks leapfrogged No. 6 Clemson while the Tigers jumped over Missouri, both of whom kept the same ranking from a week earlier.

Oklahoma State (No. 9), Texas A&M (No. 10) and South Carolina (No. 11) all edged up one thanks to the Cardinal’s loss.

Much to the delight of Ohio State and its BCS chances, Michigan State continued a rather meteoric rise, relatively speaking, up the poll.  The Spartans, the Buckeyes’ likely opposition in the Big Ten championship game if neither has an unexpected hiccup, were at No. 24 in the coaches’ poll three weeks ago; No. 19 in the first November poll; and No. 16 last week.  After Week 12, MSU has climbed three more spots and are now at No. 13.

Along with Duke, USC, at No. 25 after upending Stanford, is the only new entry this week.  No. 23 Miami and No. 24 Texas tumbled out of the Top 25.

Coaches' Poll Week 12

Iowa loses RB James Butler ‘at least through the bye’

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Iowa sat Akrum Wadley for much of Saturday’s 31-14 win over North Texas after he was flagged for a (frankly ridiculous) excessive celebration penalty for high-stepping his way to the Kinnick Stadium end zone. (The score was wiped off the board, but Iowa completed the drive with a touchdown anyway.) The Hawkeyes will have no choice but to give him carries now.

Running back James Butler (20) has injured an elbow that will keep him out for the next few weeks.

“I think James will be out through the bye week,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said, via Hawkeye Report. “It will be a couple of weeks before we get him back.”

A Nevada transfer with two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, Butler was a graduate transfer addition to the Hawkeyes, announcing his transfer on July 4. He ranks second on the club with 36 carries for 158 yards thus far in 2017, carrying a season-high 16 times for 74 yards before the injury.

Butler’s carries figure to go to fellow senior Wadley and freshmen Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Wadley leads the club with 60 carries for 258 yards and a touchdown, and Young and Kelly-Martin have combined to rush 30 times for 152 yards and two scores. Young made his debut in Wadley’s absence in the second half Saturday, rushing 19 times for 78 yards.

The 3-0 Hawkeyes host No. 4 Penn State on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), then visit undefeated Michigan State the week after (4 p.m. ET, FOX). Iowa will host Illinois before its Oct. 14 bye week.

Lincoln Riley to earn $3.1 million a year as OU head coach

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Lincoln Riley won’t be paid nearly as much as Bob Stoops was as Oklahoma’s head coach, but he’ll earn significantly more than he did as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.

Oklahoma approved and released Riley’s new deal on Tuesday, a 5-year contract that pays him $3.1 million annually and rises $200,000 a year. Stoops made $5.5 million in his last season, according to USA Today, while Riley earned $900,000 as offensive coordinator.

Perks include 25 hours of private airplane use, not one but two private golf club membership, and bonuses ranging from $25,000 for winning Big 12 coach of the year honors to $250,000 for a national championship.

Riley is 3-0 in his young tenure, already proving himself to be a tremendous bargain for the Sooners.

SEC releases 2018 schedule

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The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.

But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.

  • Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
  • Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
  • LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
  • Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
  • Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
  • Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
  • Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
  • Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13

Consult the full schedule here. 

Louisville-Ole Miss 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff opener made official

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After reports had signaled it, it’s a done deal.

The “it” in this case is Louisville opening the 2021 season against Ole Miss, with the two programs confirming Tuesday that they will square off in one of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games that year.  The game will be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, although a date and kickoff time are still to be determined.

The 2021 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the football teams.  Each has made one previous appearance in the Kickoff Game, Louisville in 2015 (31-24 loss to Auburn) and Ole Miss in 2014 (35-13 win over Boise State).

“To have the opportunity to play in this game again for the second time is a huge win for our program,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “We are honored to be welcomed back by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is a tremendous testament to our loyal fan base, who helped pack the stadium in 2015. Our fans have a great history of traveling, and to have the opportunity to play a great program like Ole Miss in this brand-new facility will certainly be a hot ticket for the fans. Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl group do a tremendous job with this game and we appreciate them selecting Louisville for what has become the premier game to kick off the season.”

“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. We always set the goal to end the regular season in Atlanta, so it’s only fitting that’s where we begin it,” Jurich’s Ole Miss counterpart, Ross Bjork, said in his. “With our strong alumni base in Georgia, Rebel Nation will arrive in full force to experience this premier matchup in the nation’s finest new stadium. In addition, the Atlanta market is a key recruiting area for our staff, and this trip offers a tremendous opportunity to compete in front of those prospects.”

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Alabama and Miami would square off in the other Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game the opening weekend of the 2021 season.