Clemson, Auburn benefit from Top-Five losses in coaches’ poll

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Baylor and Oregon’s on-field losses turned into Clemson and Auburn’s poll gain.

Clemson and Auburn each moved up two spots and into the Top Five of the USA Today coaches’ poll, the former to No. 4 and the latter to No. 5.  The ACC Tigers are back in the Top Five for the first time since their Week 8 loss to Florida State, while the SEC Tigers are back in that group for the first time since winning the BCS title following the 2010 season.

Those two teams were on a bye (Auburn) and beat an FCS team (Citadel) and moved up a pair of spots apiece.  Oklahoma State beat the No. 3 team in the country by 32 points and moved up the same two spots, from No. 9 to No. 7.  For a reason why such a win didn’t carry more weight than a weekend off and a glorified scrimmage, you’d have to ask the football support staff sports information department coaches.

The slotting of the Cowboys is particularly curious when you consider the team they blew out, Baylor, dropped just five and into the No. 8 spot right behind OSU.  Oregon, though, took a serious hit for the egg they laid against Arizona, exiting Week 13 at No. 12 after entering it No. 5.

The first three teams remain unchanged from a week ago: No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State.  The first-place votes remained the same from last week as well, with the Tide claiming 56 and the Seminoles the other six.  The Buckeyes actually gained ground on the ‘Noles, closing the gap between second and third from 83 points after Week 12 to 60 after Week 13.  Barring an FSU loss, however, it’s inconceivable OSU would leapfrog them into the No. 2 hole prior to the release of the final BCS standings early next month.

The remainder of the Top 10 consists of No. 6 Missouri, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Stanford, all up two positions from their standing a week ago.

Fresno State received a boost to its BCS-busting hopes, climbing deeper into the Top 16 to No. 13 (from No. 16) and on the verge of a Top-12 spot that, if it’s mirrored by the final BCS rankings, would guarantee the Bulldogs a BCS bowl.  Fellow BCS buster hopeful Northern Illinois inched up a spot to No. 20.  Along with the top three teams in the coaches’ poll, those two teams are the only remaining unbeatens at the FBS level.

UCF is No. 19, the lowest-ranked of the projected winners of the six automatic-qualifying conferences.  If UCF remains outside the Top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ school inside that number would receive a BCS berth without having to worry about a Top-12 placement.

LSU and Arizona State are the biggest upward movers of the week, with each climbing four positions.  The Tigers are now at No. 15 and the Sun Devils at No. 18.

LSU is also the highest-ranked three-loss team, while South Carolina is the highest-ranked two-loss squad.

An SEC team, though, also took the biggest hit of the week.  Texas A&M, No. 10 a week ago, took a precipitous drop to No. 21.  UCLA was another big rankings loser, going from No. 14 to No. 22.

Cincinnati is the only new addition to the coaches’ Top 25, coming in at No. 25.  Minnesota, which debuted last week at No. 23, dropped out.

Coaches' Poll Week 13

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.