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Boise State crushes Northern Illinois in Poinsettia Bowl laugher

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These weren’t the vintage versions of these teams, what with their seven conference championships and three BCS appearances over the past seven years traded for no conference titles and nine regular season losses. Despite that, though, Boise State brought its A-plus game to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday night. Northern Illinois’ effort can be classified somewhere between letters D and Q.

Boise State jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 55-7 victory over the overmatched and uninterested Huskies. The 48-point margin was Boise State’s largest bowl victory and Northern Illinois’ greatest bowl defeat.

The Broncos found pay dirt on each of their first three possessions, marching 75, 67 and 53 yards, to grab a 21-point lead less than 12 minutes in. Jeremy McNichols notched all three of Boise’s touchdowns, coming on a 29-yard dash, a four-yard reception from Brett Rypien and then a one-yard plunge.

The lead swelled to 31-7 by halftime, despite Boise State losing the ball on an interception a fumble and a turnover on downs. Boise State then pushed the lead to 41-7 after three and 55-7 by the 9:52 mark of the fourth quarter before letting the air out of the time remaining.

For the game, McNichols rushed 19 times for 93 yards and two scores while also notching five receptions for a game-high 96 yards and a touchdown. Brett Rypien completed 29-of-40 throws for 377 yards with three scores and an interception; Shane Williams-Rhoades nabbed eight balls for 94 yards, Thomas Sperbeck caught six for 78, Chaz Anderson hauled in four for 46 and a score and Alec Dhaenens snared an 18-yard touchdown catch. On the ground, Ryan Wolpin rushed 15 times for 90 yards, Kelsey Young toted 10 times for 54 yards and a touchdown and Thomas Stuart compiled five rushes for 20 yards and a touchdown.

As for Northern Illinois? Woof. (And not the good kind.) The Huskies’ first drive moved 42 yards in 13 snaps; their remaining 12 traveled no further than six yards, and four of them lost yardage. Jacob Ambrose punted nine times if not for Aregeros Turner‘s 96-yard kickoff return touchdown NIU would have finished the night with as many points as it started.

Overall, Boise State compiled 654 yards (377 passing, 277 rushing) on 97 plays, while Northern Illinois achieved 33 yards in 51 tries. The Broncos held a 35-7 edge in first downs and converted 10-of-16 third downs to NIU’s 1-of-12.

Just how thorough was this beating? Boise State’s fifth-leading rusher would’ve lead Northern Illinois’ entire roster, and six separate Broncos posted more receiving yards than the most productive Huskie.

In the end, Boise State finishes 2015 at 9-4 and pondering what’s to come, while Northern Illinois closes at 8-6, wondering just what in the world happened.

Jim McElwain says Florida is heading to Texas to “beat the heck out of Michigan”

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It goes without saying that coaches will say what coaches say. Suggesting their team is on a mission to score a big win in front of fans clad in the school colors should not be taken for anything more than simply aiming to get a rise out of the fans. Mission accomplished for Florida head coach Jim McElwain, but possible bulletin board material for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Speaking before Florida students over the weekend, McElwain laid it out there by saying his Gators were looking to do one thing against Michigan; win with authority.

“We’re heading to Dallas here in a couple weeks to go beat the heck out of Michigan, and then come back to you guys,” McElwain said, according to SEC Country.

The Gators are opening the college football season next week in Arlington, Texas against the Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten. Florida will be a bit undermanned with the recent suspension of seven players, including star wide receiver Antonio Callaway. Michigan also won the most recent meeting between the two schools, with Harbaugh’s Wolverines dominating McElwain’s Gators in the Citrus Bowl two seasons ago (41-7).

Michigan will be looking to reestablish its identity with a good amount of roster turnover this season, but the depth hit from the recent suspensions in Gainesville may help give Michigan an edge. Either way, we can only look forward to seeing how Harbaugh potentially responds once this claim from McElwain makes its way to Ann Arbor.

Roll Tide! Alabama tops preseason AP Top 25; OSU, FSU, USC receive first-place votes

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For the fourth time under head coach Nick Saban, the Alabama Crimson Tide will begin a college football season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.

The defending SEC champions received 52 first-place votes from the AP voters, easily pulling away from No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Florida State. Both the Buckeyes and Seminoles received first-place votes, as did No. 4 USC. But none of those schools received more than four first-place votes from the voters. Alabama and Florida State meet in Week 1 next week in Atlanta.

Defending national champion Clemson was left without a first-place vote, but still starts the year highly-ranked at No. 5. They are followed by Penn State, fresh off a Big Ten championship from last season. Defending Pac-12 champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington starts the year at No. 8, one spot behind the defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners with a first-year head coach in Lincoln Riley. Oklahoma travels to Columbus, Ohio to play Ohio State in Week 2. Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top 10 in the preseason AP poll.

The lone Group of Five team in the preseason top 25 is USF, with new head coach Charlie Strong taking over the Bulls. Strong’s new team is ranked No. 19, a few spot s ahead of his old program, the No. 23 Texas Longhorns (now coached by Tom Herman).

The SEC leads the country with six teams appearing in the preseason AP Top 25, followed by the ACC and Big 12 with five ranked teams each. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each have four schools represented. No independent teams appear in the preseason top 25.

And here is the full AP Top 25 preseason poll, with first-place votes noted);

  1. Alabama (52 first-place votes)
  2. Ohio State (3)
  3. Florida State (4)
  4. USC (2)
  5. Clemson
  6. Penn State
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Washington
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma State
  11. Michigan
  12. Auburn
  13. LSU
  14. Stanford
  15. Georgia
  16. Louisville
  17. Florida
  18. Miami FL
  19. USF
  20. Kansas State
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. West Virginia
  23. Texas
  24. Washington State
  25. Tennessee

Tennessee WR Josh Smith to miss start of season with broken collarbone

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Tennessee will be without wide receiver Josh Smith at the start of the season, including the season opener in Atlanta against Georgia Tech next week. Smith will be out of action for the next four to eight weeks with a broken collarbone.

This is the latest injury setback for MSith, who has had ankle surgery in the past as well as a groin injury in January. After catching 13 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown last season, MSith was expected to be a larger contributor to the offense this season as a slot receiver. That may eventually to prove true, but just how soon he can get back on the practice field, let alone a game field, remains to be seen.

At the minimum four weeks, Smith would likely not be returning to the field until a Week 3 matchup with UMass in Knoxville or the Week 4 SEC East battle with Georgia, also in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee has a bye week after the Georgia game to allow for an extra week of rest and recovery if needed. If Smith is out for a full eight weeks, his first game back for the Vols could potentially be the October 21 game at Alabama.

Smith also returned six punts last season for a total of 35 yards.

CFT 2017 Preseason Previews: Playoff Predictions

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Fair warning: CFT’s 2017 College Football Playoff predictions are boring

But, sometimes, reality is boring.

Alabama and Ohio State have pulled ahead of the pack in recruiting, return a number of players — or, at least, a large enough number to outflank the competition — and are still coached by Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. As such, our staff is picking (with one outlier) those two to square off for the 2017 national championship, with different views on how the title game goes down.

Kevin
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Florida State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Penn State
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Bryan
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Florida State
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over USC
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Alabama

Zach
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Alabama over Florida State
CFP National Championship: Alabama over Ohio State

John
Rose Bowl: Ohio State over USC
Sugar Bowl: Florida State over Alabama
CFP National Championship: Ohio State over Florida State