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Ex-TCU wide receiver Isaiah Graham lands at Louisiana Tech

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A month after announcing his decision to transfer out of the TCU football program, wide receiver Isaiah Graham has announced he has found a new place to call home. Graham announced he is transferring to Louisiana Tech for the remainder of his college football career.

“I am so blessed and excited to announce that I will be continuing my education and college football career at LA Tech University,” Graham announced on Twitter.

Graham will have to sit out the upcoming 2018 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he will still have two years of eligibility to use at Louisiana Tech beginning in 2019. Louisiana Tech was one of the many schools to offer the former three-star recruit a scholarship during his recruiting process. Louisiana Tech will give Graham, a Louisiana native, a chance to play closer to home once he does become eligible again.

As a freshman, Graham played in nine games, in which he caught six passes for 68 yards. In the 2017 season, Graham appeared in 10 games and caught two passes for 16 yards.

A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2018 Top 25

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The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2017 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2018 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or were told by our bosses to roll.  Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 USC, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Washington, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Oklahoma. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma, were in our Top 10; the fourth, Georgia, stood at No. 14.  Ohio State (No. 5), USC (No. 8) and Penn State (No. 9) all currently sit inside of the Top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings heading into the postseason, while Washington (No. 11), Stanford (No. 13) and Oklahoma State (No. 19) are all in the Top 25.

The biggest swing and a miss was the one that everyone whiffed on: Florida State.  After beginning the year No. 3 in the country in both major polls as well as our little Top 25 contribution, FSU tied for its worst record (7-6 in 2006, 2007, 2009) since 1976, going 5-6 in the second season under Bobby Bowden.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-too-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.  Not that you need permission to do that, of course.

NO. 1 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  Or he gets bored with winning and abruptly up and quits.  Neither of those are going to happen, of course, but those are about the only things that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — unless the looming quarterback “controversy” gets away from him.

NO. 2 OHIO STATE
WHY? 12, 12, 14, 12, 11, 12.  Those are the win totals for the Buckeyes since Urban Renewal came to Columbus.  With a No. 2 recruiting class (thus far) this year added to Top Five groups each of the past four years that have added running back J.K. Dobbins, defensive end Nick Bosa and many others, OSU, like ‘Bama, is a perennial playoff contender.
WHY NOT? With eighth-year senior J.T. Barrett‘s departure, it leaves OSU inexperienced under center since Barrett’s first season as the starter back in 1986 (or 2014 if you want to get technical).  Some Buckeye fans, though, despite Barrett’s record-setting production, will view the departure as a positive.  Road trips to Michigan State, Penn State and what’s close to a home game against TCU aren’t exactly optimal.

NO. 3 GEORGIA
WHY? Kirby Smart is Nick Saban Jr., and has taken The Process from Tuscaloosa and brought it to Athens.  Jake Fromm was in his first season as a starter and helped lead the Bulldogs to the national championship game as a true freshman.  And that upcoming schedule?  Middle Tennessee State, UMass and an FCS school along with the annual in-state rivalry game with Georgia Tech make up the nonconference slate, while they get Auburn at home as one of the two crossover conference games (travel to LSU as well).
WHY NOT? In Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, they lose running backs who have combined to rush for nearly 8,300 yards and 77 touchdowns the past four seasons, including over 2,400 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.  Losing the best defensive player in the country, linebacker Roquan Smith, to the NFL draft early won’t help either.

NO. 4 MIAMI
WHY? The Hurricanes seemed poised for a breakout 2018 campaign, then returned to the national stage ahead of projections before crashing and burning in losing its last three games.  With 2018 on the horizon, a significant amount of talent returns to a Mark Richt-led squad that played in its first-ever ACC championship game.
WHY NOT? Richt brought with him to South Beach what pushed him out of Athens: a penchant for building good teams, but teams not quite good enough to contend with the best the conference has to offer.  A neutral-field game against LSU in the opener should be a good gauge for where The U stands moving forward.

NO. 5 WISCONSIN
WHY? The Badgers are the absolute class of the Big Ten West, with no one in that division even in UW’s zip code quite yet.  Jonathan Taylor broke Adrian Peterson‘s single-season FBS freshman rushing record, and will obviously return for another run at feeding the beast that is UW’s running game.
WHY NOT? Unless Scott Frost very quickly turns around his alma mater Nebraska — and don’t count that out given his work at UCF — seemingly the only thing that can prevent the Badgers from a third straight Big Ten championship game appearance and fifth in seven years is myriad injuries.  They do, though, have to travel to Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State, so there’s that as well.

NO. 6 CLEMSON
WHY? If Kirby Smart is Nick Saban Jr., Dabo Swinney is Saban’s twin brother from another mother.  In the makeup and building of Clemson into a veritable college football powerhouse, and especially defensively, Swinney’s teams are eerily reminiscent of what Saban has done in Tuscaloosa — albeit with a different offensive lean.  As long as Swinney is in Death Valley, you can go ahead and consider the Tigers a year-in, year-out Top-10 lock.
WHY NOT? Saban leaves for the NFL and Swinney takes over at his alma mater.  That’s about all that will keep Clemson from being a factor on the national stage yet again.

NO. 7 WASHINGTON
WHY? We’ve had Washington at No. 7 in each of the last two Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings; they ended the 2016 season fourth and are currently ranked 11th.  Chris Petersen has taken a Huskies football program and turned it into one that should be a 10-win team for the foreseeable future.
WHY NOT? Jake Browning‘s mini regression bleeds into another his true senior season.  After throwing for 43 touchdowns and finishing with a 167.5 efficiency rating in 2016, those numbers tumbled to 19 and 152.1 this past season.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN STATE
WHY? The Spartans return a ton of starting talent on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Brian Lewerke, running back LJ Scott — he’s led MSU in rushing each of the past three seasons – and 4/5ths of the offensive line.  MSU also gets Ohio State and Michigan at home, and doesn’t have to face Wisconsin as a crossover divisional opponent.
WHY NOT? 2017’s 10-win season was an aberration after a three-win 2016 season.  Then again, aside from that drop-off-the-cliff record, Mark Dantonio has won 11 or more games in five of six seasons, so 2016 was likely the aberration when it’s all said and done.

NO. 9 STANFORD
WHY? Bryce Love, the 2017 Heisman Trophy runner-up, defies all odds and returns to The Farm for one more year.  After the first month of the season, the Cardinal’s schedule sets up very favorably as well.
WHY NOT? After myriad wooings over the past few years, David Shaw final succumbs and gives in to the NFL’s advances.  Aside from that, Stanford’s September schedule isn’t exactly a walk in pastry park: San Diego State (10-3), USC (11-3), at Oregon (7-6), at Notre Dame (10-3).  In early November, they’ll also have to travel to Washington.

NO. 10 WEST VIRGINIA
WHY? Baker Mayfield gone from Oklahoma and Mason Rudolph out at Oklahoma State leaves Will Grier as the top returning quarterback in the pass-happy Big 12.  Tony Gibson won’t allow a defense that finished second in the conference in total defense in 2016 but slipped to seventh in 2017 to slip again; in fact, they’ll be closer to the season before last than this past one.
WHY NOT? They get what will likely be preseason Big 12 favorite TCU at home, but have tough road tests in Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas.

NO. 11 UCF
NO. 12 OKLAHOMA
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 PENN STATE
NO. 15 VIRGINIA TECH
NO. 16 AUBURN
NO. 17 TCU
NO. 18 USC
NO. 19 BOISE STATE
NO. 20 MICHIGAN
NO. 21 FLORIDA STATE
NO. 22 MEMPHIS
NO. 23 OKLAHOMA STATE
NO. 24 LSU
NO. 25 OREGON

UCF earns four first-place votes, No. 6 finish in final AP poll

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It’s not an official national championship, but it is some level of validation to all of their very public preening.

Following up on its bowl win over Auburn that capped a perfect 13-0 season, UCF made quite the public spectacle in declaring itself national champions, replete with the university paying title bonuses to assistants who left for Nebraska, a parade and the governor of the state of Florida issuing an official proclamation naming the Knights the best team in college football.  Of course, Alabama won the official title on the field Monday night, with the Associated Press rubber-stamping the Crimson Tide as the No. 1 team in the country in its final poll of the 2017 season.

‘Bama wasn’t a unanimous national champion, however, as four of the 61 first-place votes went to, you guessed it, Central Florida.  This marks the first time in the College Football Playoff era, and the first time under any system since 2011 — that was the year Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game — that the No.1 team in the country failed to be a unanimous selection of the AP voters.

The sixth-place finish for UCF is also the highest for a Group of Five team since Boise State ended the 2009 season fourth in the country.

National runner-up Georgia finished No. 2, while the other two playoff participants, Oklahoma and Clemson, finished third and fourth, respectively.  Ohio State was the highest-ranked non-playoff team at No. 5.  The remainder of the Top 10 was rounded out by Wisconsin (No. 7), Penn State (No. 8), TCU (No. 9) and Auburn (No. 10).

As you may have noticed, no Pac-12 teams were ranked in the Top 10.  The highest-ranked team from that Power Five conference was USC, which came in at No. 12.

No. 15 TCU mounts another Alamo Bowl rally in the second half to beat No. 13 Stanford

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TCU sure doesn’t like the first half of the Alamo Bowl… but they most certainly enjoy what happens when the second half kicks off.

Two years after completing an improbable 31 point comeback in the same setting, the Horned Frogs capped off another in San Antonio by rallying from down a dozen to beat No. 13 Stanford 39-37 on Thursday night.

Gary Patterson’s 15th-ranked squad didn’t hold back in the postseason appearance either. TCU faked a punt on their first drive of the game, broke out the old man-lying-down-in-the-end-zone trick kick return (both failed) and had gadget plays galore in search of a spark offensively. After an uneven start to the game, quarterback Kenny Hill settled down as the game unfolded and managed to score a touchdown via rush, pass and reception for the second time this season. He did throw two interceptions (one on a Hail Mary) but finished with 314 yards through the air and another 6o on the ground as he closed out his college career in as crazy a fashion as it began.

That included a 93 yard pass to Jalen Reagor down the stretch, with most of the work being done by the young wideout as he ran a time down the sidelines that might have placed him on the medal stand of the Texas Relays. It would have been the easy pick for the biggest play of the fourth quarter had it not been for Desmon White’s 76 yard punt return for a touchdown that game the Horned Frogs the lead for the first time in the game.

The Cardinal would not go quietly into the Texas night though and briefly re-took the lead after JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught a go-ahead touchdown — his third of the game — on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone that is becoming rather routine for the lengthy wideout who is as good as they come boxing out a defensive back. He was unquestionably the favorite quarterback K.J. Costello, who had an otherwise nice night against Patterson’s defense with 212 yards and the trio of touchdowns but his interception in the final minutes sealed the loss.

That spoiled yet another incredible outing by Heisman runner-up Bryce Love — who looked healthy for the first time in months after the long postseason layoff. He totaled 145 yards and two scores on the ground, including a 69-yarder that set a new FBS record with his 13th run of 50+yards this season and was the longest allowed by TCU’s defense all season. However he injured his thumb late in the game and was bleeding to the point that he had to go to the team’s medical tent on the sidelines and missed the final two drives as Stanford ends 2017 with back-to-back losses.

While he would have certainly made a difference down the stretch, not even the incredible running ability of the nation’s best running back could have spoiled the comeback mojo that TCU seems to have in this bowl game. Though the 11 point halftime deficit they overcame was barely a third of the 31 points they came back from against Oregon in this game two years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a team who remembers the Alamo quite like the Horned Frogs do.

Stanford offense rolls to lead over TCU as Alamo Bowl hitting halftime

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Not long ago in the Alamo Bowl, TCU needed a second half comeback of epic proportions to beat a Pac-12 foe. The hole isn’t quite as big for the 15th-ranked Horned Frogs this time around than it was against Oregon (31 points) two seasons ago but Gary Patterson’s team still has their work cut out for them as they trail No. 13 Stanford 21-10 at halftime in San Antonio.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying by TCU either, as they seemed to reach into their bag of tricks with not a ton to play for in the grand scheme of things. That included a fake punt on the team’s first drive (which failed) and a trick kick return in the first quarter that had a man lying in the end zone before receiving a pass (it was called back on a flag). Quarterback Kenny Hill wasn’t super sharp early on, tossing a truly dreadful interception that later set up a Cardinal touchdown and finishing with only 71 yards passing. He did seem to get things going right before the break though and ran in the team’s only touchdown of the half as time was winding down.

The Horned Frogs rushing attack was also kept in check and had just 47 yards going into the locker room. Perhaps most surprisingly, one of the Big 12’s best defenses looked pretty mortal against an offense that has struggled at times to move the ball and are breaking in a new offensive coordinator in the game.

A healthy ankle makes all the difference in the world though as Bryce Love looked in midseason form after nearly a month of rest. The Heisman runner-up powered into the end zone for a score with a pair of defenders on his back and finished with 57 yards on the ground. His mere presence seemed to loosen up the defense as signal-caller K.J. Costello looked very sharp in throwing for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns — both not surprisingly to his favorite target in mammoth wideout JJ Arcega-Whiteside

We’ve had some fun Alamo Bowl finishes over the years and given how good both sides are (and their head coaches are at making adjustments) we could be in store for another classic the way things have trended so far.