CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 19 Duke

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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)

Report: QB Shea Patterson will be eligible for Michigan this fall

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The Michigan Wolverines may have their new starting quarterback. Shea Patterson, after a drawn-out battle for eligibility this season, will be eligible to play for the Wolverines this fall. According to a report from The Detroit News, Patterson has been granted a transfer waiver from the NCAA after the NCAA, Michigan and Ole Miss came to terms on an agreement to allow for Patterson to become eligible.

From The Detroit News report;

An agreement has been reached among the NCAA, Michigan and Ole Miss, according to the source, and with the completion of some paperwork, Patterson will be eligible to play this fall.

The source requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made, but that announcement is expected soon.

A Michigan official said Thursday night the athletic department has “no new information on a final decision from the NCAA.”

Ole Miss had been holding up the transfer process for Patterson because the school did not accept Patterson’s reason for wanting to transfer from the Rebels to Michigan. Frustrated with the process, Patterson ripped Ole Miss and former head coach Hugh Freeze. With Ole Miss blocking the transfer for Patterson, the former Ole Miss quarterback had been hanging in limbo with Michigan with no idea if he would be cleared to play this fall for the Wolverines or if he would have to sit out a season due to typical NCAA transfer rules.

Because Ole Miss was placed on probation amid scandal, Patterson sought a transfer after feeling he had been misled and lied to by Freeze and Ole Miss. Now at Michigan, Patterson can immediately begin focusing on competing for the starting job at quarterback for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. Given how much Michigan could stand to improve at the position, Patterson could give the Wolverines a much-needed boost this fall.

A formal announcement on Patterson’s status at Michigan is expected to be made once the legal paperwork is completed between the NCAA, Michigan, and Ole Miss.

LB Jon Reschke may be allowed back at Michigan State, if Spartan players allow it

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A year ago, Michigan State linebacker Jon Reschke was on the move out of East Lansing. However, perhaps time has healed enough wounds to see Reschke return to the Spartans. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is leaving the door open for that possibility, but Reschke’s fate with the program may be left in the hands of his former teammates.

Reschke never found another program to transfer to for the 2017 season and has since undergone ACL surgery. He would need to get a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA to continue playing college football, but if he does, then Dantonio says he may welcome Reschke back if his current players decide to welcome him back.

“I’ve talked to our football team about it,” Dantonio said, according to MLive.com. “That’s our football team’s decision on that one. I think there’s certain things that you go through relative to your football team so that decision will get made as we go forward. I think it’s more important to talk to our players about that, if and when that happens.”

Football coaches allowing team members to determine the fate of a player that has fallen out of the good graces of the program is nothing new, and considering the circumstances surrounding Reschke’s departure from the program, this seems like a logical decision. Dantonio is allowing the players to determine whether or not they want to give someone who lost control a second chance rather than bring a guy who was perceived to be a bad egg back into the program without testing the waters within the locker room.

Purdue gives Jeff Brohm two-year contract extension

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It took just one season for Jeff Brohm to convince Purdue he was the right man for the job (well, since the school hired him, at least). Now, Brohm has two more years coaching the Boilermakers lined up after the school tacked on a two-year contract extension. The extended contract now runs through the 2024 season, providing some nice job security for the coach that has already helped to reshape the Purdue football program.

“This extension is a reflection of how pleased we are with Jeff’s leadership of our football program,” Purdue athletics director Mike Bobinski said in a released statement. “He has brought renewed energy to our campus, revived our fan base and alumni, and made Purdue relevant once again in the college football landscape. With the success of last season as a foundation, we have tremendous optimism about the future of Purdue football.”

Purdue went 7-6 in Brohm’s first year as the head coach of the Boilermakers to mark the first winning season in West Lafayette, Indiana since 2011. Purdue won a total of nine games in the previous four seasons under Brohm’s predecessor, Darrell Hazell. The 2017 season ended with Purdue’s first bowl victory since the 2011 season.

As the season went along, Purdue saw an increase in fan support on game day with an average of 13,433 more fans per home game (it’s worth noting the Purdue home schedule included games against Michigan, Nebraska, and in-state rival Indiana; Purdue also played a season opener in Indianapolis against Lamar Jackson and Louisville). It may still take some time to get Purdue in a position where it can be any sort of threat in the Big Ten, but the renewed energy around the program was noticeable last fall.

Notre Dame CB Nick Watkins announces intent to transfer

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Notre Dame cornerback Nick Watkins will be playing somewhere else this fall. Watkins announced, via Twitter, he will be leaving the Irish behind in search of a new program to complete his college football career.

As a graduate transfer, Watkins will be eligible to play with any new program this fall.

“When I decided to attend Notre Dame, my primary goal was to earn a degree from this prestigious university, and I’m proud to say that I’ll achieve that goal,” Watkins said in his statement. “With that being said, I’ll search for a new school to attend for my last year of college football.”

Last season Watkins appeared in 12 games for the Irish and recorded 21 solo tackles and seven assisted tackles. He also broke up eight passes and recorded an interception. Watkins played as a backup for Notre Dame and likely would have played a similar role this fall if he stayed in South Bend, but the former four-star recruit has potential to land a starting job in the right situation.