CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 19 Duke

2 Comments

2013 record: 10-4 overall, 6-3 in ACC (1st in Coastal division)
2013 postseason: Chick-fil-A Bowl vs. Texas A&M (52-48 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 23/No. 22
Head coach: David Cutcliffe (75-73 overall; 3144 in 6 years at Duke)
Offensive coordinator: Scottie Montgomery (First season as offensive coordinator)
2013 offensive rankings: 54th rushing offense (178 ypg); 50th passing offense (248.1 ypg); 47th total offense (426.1 ypg); 40th scoring offense (32.8 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 8
Defensive coordinator: Jim Knowles (6th season as defensive coordinator)
2013 defensive rankings: 76th rushing defense (174.14 ypg); 84th passing defense (243.9 ypg); 83rd total defense (418.0 ypg); 64th scoring defense (26.6 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 6
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Stadium: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941; Grass)
Last conference title: 1989 (shared with Virginia)

THE GOOD
Duke returns a good number of starters from last season, including star wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Braxton Deaver. The two should make for a strong 1-2 punch in the passing game with Anthony Boone taking on full-time responsibilities this fall. Boone brings a good amount of experience to the position and should feel comfortable despite a change in offensive coordinator. Dukes defense returns three starters in the secondary, a position that was ready to rise to the occasion in 2013. Duke also plays n a division that sees nobody ready to step up and grab firm control of the division race, something the program benefitted from at least in part last fall. Duke may not have the overall skill that others may have, but the ability to play together may be unrivaled in the ACC Coastal Division and that has to count for something at some point.

THE BAD
Duke’s defensive line was not particularly great in 2013 and now must replace three starters on the line. The line will see Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo move into a more prominent role after leading the Blue Devils in sacks in 013, but Duke needs to find a way to slow down opposing offenses capable of running the football to take the pressure off the secondary. Duke allowed a little more than four yards per play in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State and then allowed Texas A&M to storm back with some big plays in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The holes of the defense have been exposed, giving the Blue Devils something to work on in 2014 before taking whatever the next step is for the program.

THE UNKNOWN
How much of Duke’s success the past couple of seasons has been based on the work being done in Durham and how much has been influenced by the sputtering of the rest fo the ACC Coastal? In 2014, will Duke prove worthy of division champion favorite status or will Duke start to fall back in the wide open division as North Carolina, Miami or Virginia Tech potentially start to work back up the division?

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at Miami
Duke will get an early chance to set themselves apart from the rest of the ACC Coastal Division when they travel to Miami for a late-September contest, the first in ACC play for Duke. When they arrive in Miami Duke could (should) be 4-0 and already sniffing another bowl berth before flipping over to October. The contest against Miami could prove pivotal in the Coastal race so if Duke can slow down Duke Johnson‘s running and force any mistakes by a questionable quarterback situation, Duke could return home with a 5-0 record and feeling very good heading into a light and easy October with a pair of bye weeks to work with.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Wide receiver Jamison Crowder
Without much doubt, Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder is the most outstanding offensive player on the Blue Devils roster. Last season Crowder was second in the ACC in receiving with 1,360 yards (trailing only Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, who was pretty good too). Crowder will continue to be the go-to receiver for Duke and he will pile up the yardage along the way, proving why he was voted a preseason All-ACC receiver.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Miami jumps Clemson, Wisconsin remains No. 5 in latest CFP rankings

Getty Images
1 Comment

The third-to-last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday night, and the only changes in the top 12 came at spot No. 2, where Miami jumped Clemson ahead of the pair’s ACC title clash on Dec. 2.

USC remained the highest-ranked Pac-12 team at No. 11, dimming any hopes the Pac-12 could back-door its way into the top four should chaos reign elsewhere. The Trojans were one spot ahead of TCU and two spots ahead of the Pac-12’s second-highest ranked team in Washington State. Central Florida again led all Group of 5 teams at No. 15.

Virginia Tech re-joined the rankings at No. 25, one spot behind the debut rankings for South Carolina.

The top 25:

1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Clemson
4. Oklahoma
5. Wisconsin
6. Auburn
7. Georgia
8. Notre Dame
9. Ohio State
10. Penn State
11. USC
12. TCU
13. Washington State
14. Mississippi State
15. Central Florida
16. Michigan State
17. Washington
18. LSU
19. Oklahoma State
20. Memphis
21. Stanford
22. Northwestern
23. Boise State
24. South Carolina
25. Virginia Tech

Report: LSU victory would not save Kevin Sumlin’s job

Getty Images
2 Comments

Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday afternoon he expects to be Texas A&M’s head coach in 2018. A report Tuesday night says otherwise.

Sumlin will be fired in the day or days following Saturday’s game with No. 20 LSU, win or lose, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle. The Aggies are 0-5 against LSU under Sumlin and double-digit underdogs for Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge. The Chronicle‘s report is not the first to proclaim Sumlin’s future firing, but it is the most definitive.

Sumlin is 7-4 (4-3 SEC) this season and 51-25 overall, a mark that ranks in the top-third of the SEC since joining the league in 2012 — but Sumlin is not paid to deliver top-third results. His program failed to live up to the standard set in that debut campaign, with an 11-2 mark, a win in Tuscaloosa, a Cotton Bowl blowout of Oklahoma and a Heisman Trophy for Johnny Manziel.

The Chronicle reported that Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will be A&M’s top target to replace Sumlin.

Nebraska AD Bill Moos wants to keep Huskers-Hawkeyes on Black Friday

Getty Images
1 Comment

It was the 21-17 loss to Northern Illinois that pushed Shawn Eichorst out the door, but I wonder if it wasn’t a news item on the Tuesday before that game that convinced Nebraska stakeholders to replace their athletics director. The Big Ten released its 2020-21 football schedules on Sept. 12, four days ahead of Nebraska-NIU, and they featured Nebraska concluding each season against Minnesota — on a Saturday.

For a program that shed all of its traditions in leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten, losing the Black Friday finale was the final cut of the string that connected the current program to any vestige of its past. Eichorst didn’t get Nebraska, and allowing the Black Friday game to be lost proved it. Or so it seemed.

Bill Moos is Nebraska’s AD now, and he’d like to see things remain as they are: with the Black Friday finale, and against Iowa.

“I’m going to really push to establish Iowa as being our rival,” Moos said the Husker Sports Nightly radio show, via the Lincoln Journal-Star. “We came into the Big Ten and we need a rivalry game, and I’ve already been to the Big Ten and talked to them about that so hopefully we can keep that Black Friday game and have that be Iowa each year.”

Nebraska still has two more games against Iowa scheduled after this season, and the Huskers and Hawkeyes have met in each of Nebraska’s six previous Big Ten seasons. The series is deadlocked at 3-3 over that span. (Nebraska led 26-12-3 before joining the Big Ten.)

Though the Nebraska-Minnesota games are on the schedule as of now, there’s really no reason the Big Ten can’t change its schedules for 2020 and ’21 to preserve this tradition. And it should.

Big 12 issues public reprimands to Baker Mayfield, Kansas captains

Associated Press
4 Comments

The Crotch Grab Seen ‘Round the World has found a way to remain in the news cycle, now 72 hours after it happened.

Oklahoma announced Monday that Baker Mayfield will not serve as a team captain and will now start for the No. 4 Sooners against West Virginia on Saturday, and earlier Tuesday Kansas announced that the players who refused to shake Mayfield’s hand will not serve as captains for its own finale against No. 13 Oklahoma State.

But if those mostly-empty gestures weren’t enough to get the players’ attention, surely this will do it: a public reprimand from the conference office.

The Big 12 issued this reprimand to Mayfield for violating the conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct rules. Said commissioner Bob Bowlsby:

“Mr. Mayfield’s actions are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. I am grateful for the efficient management of this matter by the coaches and administration of the University of Oklahoma.  Baker Mayfield is a truly outstanding competitor and I generally appreciate his style of play and the manner in which he competes. However, the behavior he exhibited on the sideline during the Oklahoma-Kansas game was inappropriate and contrary to our sportsmanship policies.”

And here’s Bowlsby’s slap on the wrist to Kansas captains Joe Dineen, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Jeremiah Booker, and Daniel Wise:

“The refusal of these student-athletes to shake an opponent’s hand during the pre-game ceremony is contrary to tradition and inconsistent with common courtesy. The pre-game handshake among team captains is symbolic of good sportsmanship.  This breach of protocol is not in keeping with the standards of the Big 12 Conference.  I am grateful for the work of the Kansas administration and coaches to resolve this matter.”

The Big 12 noted that this was actually the fifth sportsmanship reprimand it has issued in its history. So there’s that.

Perhaps we can all move on now.