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Kickers, punters boot their way into 2017 kickoff with Lou Groza, Ray Guy watch lists


The 2017 preseason watch list extravaganza rolled forward Wednesday with the release of the Ray Guy and Lou Groza watch lists. With apologies to the importance of both positions, we’re going to dump both watch lists in one post because, well, come on.

The Ray Guy Award carries a clear favorite into 2017 as reigning winner Mitch Wishnowsky returns to Utah after claiming the prize in 2016 after averaging 47.7 yards on his 64 punts. Interestingly, Wishnowsky did not lead the nation in punting last season; that honor belonged to Johnny Townsend of Florida and his 47.89 average on an equal number of boots. Townsend also returns in 2017.

On the kicking side, no returning winer claims favorite status, so we’ll give that to Auburn’s Daniel Carlson (28-of-32 a year ago) and Ole Miss’s Gary Wunderlich (22-of-23).

Lou Groza Watch List
Ricky Aguayo, Florida State
Matt Anderson, California
Stevie Artigue, Louisiana-Lafayette
Michael Badgley, Miami
Jonathan Barnes, Louisiana Tech
John Baron II, San Diego State
Aaron Boumerhi, Temple
Drew Brown, Nebraska
Daniel Carlson, Auburn
Emmit Carpenter, Minnesota
Bryce Crawford, San Jose State
Blanton Creque, Louisville
Tyler Davis, Penn State
Clayton Hatfield, Texas Tech
Greg Huegel, Clemson
Redford Jones, Tulsa
Kody Kroening, Fresno State
Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky
Tommy Openshaw, Vanderbilt
Eddy Pineiro, Florida
Canon Rooker, Middle Tennessee
Jason Sanders, New Mexico
Parker Shaunfield, Southern Miss
Skyler Simcox, Western Kentucky
Joey Slye, Virginia Tech
Luke Strebel, Air Force
Mike Weaver, Wake Forest
Matthew Wright, Central Florida
Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss
Louie Zervos, Ohio

Ray Guy Watch List
Derek Adams, Kent State
Jake Bailey, Stanford,
Matt Bonadies, Middle Tennessee
Bailey Cate, Old Dominion
A.J. Cole III, North Carolina State
Jake Collins, Western Kentucky
Logan Cooke, Mississippi State
Steven Coutts, California
Trevor Daniel, Tennessee
Joseph Davidson, Bowling Green
Michael Dickson, Texas
Colin Downing, Iowa State
Corey Fatony, Missouri
Blake Gillikin, Penn State
Jonathan Hernandez, South Florida
Logan Laurent, Massachusetts
Wade Lees, Maryland
Johnny Linehan, BYU
Adam Nunez, TCU
Nick Porebski, Oregon State
JK Scott, Alabama
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
North Carolina, Tom Sheldon, North Carolina
Zach Sinor, Oklahoma State
Spencer Smith, Memphis
Chris Tilbey, USC
Johnny Townsend, Florida
Shane Tripucka, Texas A&M
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

NCAA approves waiver to allow UCF to schedule Austin Peay as hurricane replacement game

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Hurricane Irma forced a lot of shuffling and cancellations on the college football schedule but perhaps no team was more uniquely affected than Central Florida.

The Knights had two home games cancelled as a result of the storm, last weekend against Georgia Tech and a contest against Maine that was bought out as a way for the team to play their full AAC conference slate. Dropping the games left UCF with only 10 games for the 2017 season and a not ideal five home games as a result.

That has been cleared up somewhat however, as the school announced on Thursday that the NCAA has approved a waiver and that Austin Peay is now scheduled to go to Orlando for a Oct. 28th contest.

“I can’t thank Oliver Luck and the staff at the NCAA enough for their help and understanding of our situation,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate Austin Peay being willing to visit Spectrum Stadium. We’re thrilled for our student-athletes, who deserve every opportunity they can get to go out and compete. I know our fans will be excited about the opportunity to have another Saturday at Spectrum Stadium.”

The Knights are currently 1-0 heading into their trip to play Maryland on Saturday. With the addition of an 11th game to their 2017 slate, UCF needs to go at least 6-5 in order to become bowl eligible as a result.

Clemson kicker Greg Huegel injured during practice, out for the season after ACL tear

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If Clemson is to defend their national title this season, they will do so without the services of their reliable kicker.

The school confirmed various reports on Thursday evening that redshirt junior Greg Huegel was injured during the Tigers’ practice on Wednesday night — on the final kick, no less — and tore his ACL. He will have surgery and will not play again in 2017.

While he didn’t get the press of Deshuan Watson or others, Huegel was a key part of the Clemson run the past few seasons after taking over as the starter in 2015. The former walk-on was a Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year and had hit two of his four field goals to start off this season, one of which was a career-long 49 yard kick just last week.

Backup kicker Alex Spence is likely to take over for the Tigers in Huegel’s absence. The redshirt junior has never attempted a field goal in a game but has kicked off and made an extra point for Clemson this season.

Reserve tight end Cole Renfrow, the younger brother of title game star Hunter Renfrow, also tore his ACL in practice and is out the rest of the season as well.

Given the thin margins that College Football Playoff teams have nowadays, the loss of Huegel figures to be a big one for Dabo Swinney and company going forward. Clemson hosts Boston College this week but will face a stiff test on the road at Virginia Tech in an ACC title game rematch to end the month.

Notre Dame, Western Michigan agree to 2020 game in South Bend

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More #MACtion is heading to South Bend.

Western Michigan and Notre Dame announced on Thursday that the two schools have agreed to a single game series that will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. It will mark the fourth time the two teams have met in their long histories, but a decade since they last faced off in a 44-20 Irish win back in 2010.

The Broncos will receive a $1.175 million payout from Notre Dame for the game according to a release.

While playing a MAC team is a bit of a regular occurrence for Notre Dame now, their meeting with WMU back in 2010 was actually the first time they ever played a team from the conference. The Irish play at least one opponent from the MAC from now until at least 2021 with Western Michigan added to their slate of future games.

The Irish have been busy filling out the 2020 schedule and have just one opening remaining with this contract being signed. The Broncos join home games against Arkansas and Stanford, a trip to Charlotte to play Wake Forest, Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, the annual USC game in Los Angeles and the opener at MetLife Stadium outside New York City against Navy. Additional games against Clemson, Duke, Louisville (at home) and a road trip to Pittsburgh are also on tap as part of the ACC scheduling agreement.


Billion dollar club: Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma named most valuable CFB programs

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Alabama is No. 1 in just about every college football poll… except one.

That would be the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of college football programs. While you might think that the paper gives Clemson the edge instead, you have to know that they are not examining teams’ performance on the field in 2017, but rather their overall evaluation. Much like Forbes does in ranking NFL franchise values, WSJ attempted to find out how much college football programs were worth and came to the conclusion that Ohio State reigns supreme in the sport with a nearly $1.5 billion sticker price.

The Buckeyes’ value shot up nearly 60% in just a year so you can thank a College Football Playoff appearance and that huge new Big Ten television package for boosting their bottom line. The WSJ came to the conclusion by citing a study performed by Ryan Brewer, an associate professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

Not far behind Ohio State and still in the billion dollar club were Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma. The Longhorns were an annual mainstay atop estimates like this for years but the team’s recent malaise on the field seems to have held them back lately. While the SEC did not have a team crack the 10 figure mark (shockingly), the league did make up half of the top 10. All said, the most valuable conference in college football averaged nearly $523 million per team overall.

Here’s the overall top 10 teams and how much they’re worth per the report:

  1. Ohio State – $1,510,482,000
  2. Texas – $1,243,124,000
  3. Oklahoma – $1,001,967,00
  4. Alabama $930,001,000
  5. Louisiana State – $910,927,000
  6. Michigan – $892,951,000
  7. Notre Dame – $856,938,000
  8. Georgia – $822,310,000
  9. Tennessee – $745,640,00
  10. Auburn – $724,191,000