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Bovada continues to tap Alabama as 2017 title favorite

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When last we left Bovada.lv‘s odds for the 2017 national champion, 2016 runners-up Alabama sat atop the initial wagering odds.  On the cusp of a new season?  Same old, same old.  Pretty much.

Along with its updated Heisman Trophy odds, Bovada also revealed its updated odds to win the next edition of the College Football Playoff championship, with the Crimson Tide sitting as a comfortable favorite at 12/5.  In January, those odds were a little longer at 4/1.

The next two teams, USC and Ohio State, saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 9/1 to 6/1 and the latter from 15/2 to 13/2.  Florida State and Michigan, at 7/1 and 9/1, respectively, seven months ago, have lengthened a bit to 15/2 for the Seminoles and 16/1 for the Wolverines.

Prior to Bob Stoops’ retirement, Oklahoma had been at 9/1; after his abrupt departure, those odds have tumbled to 16/1.

Below are the complete set of updated 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Ex-USC lineman who transferred to North Carolina retires

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That Power Five line addition North Carolina thought it was getting?  Never mind.

On social media Saturday morning, Khaliel Rodgers announced that he has decided to retire from football. “The goals I’ve set for myself are bigger than football,” Rodgers said of his decision to leave the sport.

The offensive lineman had announced in March his decision to transfer into the Tar Heels football program.

“The game of football has been a blessing to me & my family,” Rodgers began in his Facebook post. “Football provided a half a million dollar education for free & connections with people from all over the country that will last a lifetime.  It has brought me to places I never dreamed about going and memories I will always cherish.”

After deciding to leave USC, Rodgers initially committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Iowa State before flipping to UNC. As a graduate transfer, Rodgers also held offers from, among others, Baylor, Georgia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh.

With the Trojans, Rodgers started a total of nine games — six at center, three at guard. All of those starts came in 2014 and 2015 as he was moved to the defensive line in 2016.

At UNC, Rodgers was expected to battle for playing time and even a starting job along the offensive line, more than likely at the guard position.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

Big 12’s new slogan is “guaranteed” to settle its one true champion issue

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The Big 12 is bringing back the conference championship game this season for the first time since being reduced in size to 10 members. Once the NCAA decided it was OK for conferences with fewer than 12 members to hold a championship game, it was only a matter of time before the Big 12 brought the money-making game 13th data point back to the table for its top playoff and conference championship contenders.

Of course, with the return of the championship game and the start of a new season brings a brand new slogan for the Big 12. As College Football Talk contributor Zach Barnett shows us, the new slogan is a neat little play on words, and may take a jab at its predecessor in the process.

The Big 12 has abandoned the “One True Champion” fiasco, which was doomed from the start, and replaced it with a bonafide guarantee that the Big 12 will once and for all be able to declare an unquestionable conference champion. The top two teams in the Big 12 will square off for the Big 12 championship this season, with the hope that the conference title game will help give a playoff contender one final push to get into the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 has been left out of the playoff mix two out of the first three years of the new national championship model. The Big 12 was ultimately passed over by the College Football Playoff selection committee, and this indecisiveness was believed to have hurt the Big 12’s chances (even though Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State had more than fair reasons for being included in the playoff that first year).

In 2015, Baylor and TCU tied for the conference championship. Despite Baylor winning the head-to-head matchup with the Horned Frogs, the Big 12 chose to award a split Big 12 title, thus making a mockery of the conference’s slogan of “One True Champion,” which was built on the emphasis that the Big 12 was the only power conference to play a full conference schedule where every team plays through the entire conference.

Last year, the Big 12 had Oklahoma go 9-0 in conference play to end the season as one of the hottest teams in the country, but two non-conference losses made it a tough uphill battle for the eventual Big 12 champions to get in (especially since one loss came against a playoff participant, one-loss Ohio State).

So here we are in 2017. The Big 12 held off on expanding the conference but is bringing the conference championship game back into the schedule. We will indeed get a guaranteed undisputed champion in the Big 12, but the Big 12 is guaranteed to be setup for a setback if a viable playoff contender is upset in a rematch in the Big 12 championship game.

Matt Campbell pleased with Joel Lanning’s QB-to-LB transition

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It’s going to be one of your favorite story lines of the 2017 season, even if you’d forgotten it was happening before reading this post. Joel Lanning, Iowa State quarterback, is now Joel Lanning, Iowa State linebacker.

Lanning made the transition in March with the understanding he would start at middle linebacker while retaining his role on offense in a limited capacity. “Coach (Matt) Campbell told me, ‘If everything works, you’re probably going to be throwing up after all the games because you’re going to be playing so much,” Lanning told the Des Moines Register during the spring.

At Big 12 Media Days on Monday, Campbell said he was impressed to the point of excited about Lanning’s feel for his new position.

“I was probably taken back a little bit about just as much growth as he was able to make from practice one through 15,” Campbell said. “I do think, playing where he played, he really has an understanding about playing at that depth of where he played on the offensive side, but now it’s just a different mindset and a different mentality.

“But Joel always played with a linebacker’s mentality at quarterback, but transitioning to now tackling and playing in space and doing those things, I think that’s been probably his biggest transition, but it’s really been fun to watch. I thought by practice 13, 14, 15, boy, he really looked like he belonged for sure.”

Lanning completed 99-of-169 passes for 1,290 yards with nine touchdowns against three interceptions while rushing 121 times for 559 yards and three scores in splitting time at quarterback with Jacob Park last season. The hunch here is he’ll rack up as many tackles in 2017 as he had completed passes in ’16.