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Clemson moves to No. 2 in latest AP poll, Mississippi State joins at No. 17

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Mississippi State has leapt from the ranks of the unranked all the way to No. 17 in the latest AP poll, released Sunday afternoon.

The Bulldogs walloped then-No. 12 LSU 37-7 in Starkville on Saturday evening, the club’s largest margin of victory in the 111-game history of the series. Additionally, Mississippi State’s road blowout victory over Louisiana Tech became even more impressive when the red-and-blue Bulldogs went on the road and beat defending Conference USA champion Western Kentucky.

Elsewhere, San Diego State, Utah and Oregon made their 2017 debuts in the AP poll, replacing Kansas State, Stanford, Tennessee and UCLA. Clemson’s 47-21 drubbing of Louisville allowed the Tigers to nudge past Oklahoma for the No. 2 spot in the poll and pull within 60 points of the No. 1 ranking.

The full poll:

  1. Alabama — 1,504 total points (45 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson — 1,446 (15)
  3. Oklahoma — 1,432 (1)
  4. Penn State — 1,306
  5. USC — 1,241
  6. Oklahoma State — 1,154
  7. Washington — 1,141
  8. Michigan — 1,081
  9. Wisconsin — 1,031
  10. Ohio State — 1,015
  11. Georgia — 940
  12. Florida State — 922
  13. Virginia Tech — 730
  14. Miami — 606
  15. Auburn — 596
  16. TCU — 553
  17. Mississippi State — 532
  18. Washington State — 419
  19. Louisville — 356
  20. Florida — 308
  21. South Florida — 272
  22. San Diego State — 201
  23. Utah — 194
  24. Oregon — 158
  25. LSU — 153

Alabama remains No. 1 in latest Coaches’ Poll

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The lesser of the two exhibition polls was released early Sunday afternoon, and Alabama held off Clemson for the No. 1 spot. There was some thought the Tigers could pass the Tide after their second consecutive impressive victory, but Alabama generated 59 first-place votes to Clemson’s six.

Elsewhere, Mississippi State was this week’s highest climber, jumping into the poll at No. 19. Their victim, LSU, plummeted from No. 12 to No. 23.

Additionally, Stanford, Kansas State and UCLA dropped out after their respective losses Saturday, and Oregon and San Diego State joined the Bulldogs as 2017 newcomers to the poll.

The full poll:

  1. Alabama — 1,618 total points (59 first-place votes)
  2. Clemson — 1,535 (6)
  3. Oklahoma — 1,505
  4. Penn State — 1,364
  5. USC — 1,348
  6. Washington — 1,277
  7. Oklahoma State — 1,219
  8. Michigan — 1,171
  9. Ohio State — 1,052
  10. Wisconsin — 1,032
  11. Florida State — 985
  12. Georgia — 978
  13. Virginia Tech — 775
  14. Miami — 659
  15. TCU — 602
  16. Auburn — 555
  17. South Florida — 446
  18. Washington State — 441
  19. Mississippi State — 412
  20. Louisville — 382
  21. Utah — 324
  22. Florida — 312
  23. LSU — 243
  24. Oregon — 208
  25. San Diego State — 141

San Diego State tops No. 19 Stanford despite stadium lights going out

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Head coaches always love to say they played lights out after a tough Saturday of college football. In the case of No. 19 Stanford and San Diego State they mean it quite literally.

With just under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the banks of lighting at decrepit old Qualcomm Stadium simply went out in a close, tense four point game. The inexplicable timeout was reminiscent of Super Bowl XLVII’s outage — only with slightly less on the line for either side. That brief moment of darkness turned out to be a moment of clarity for the Aztecs however, and allowed them to game plan an 11 play, 75 yard go-ahead scoring drive that sealed a 20-17 victory and made the team an immediate Group of Five bid contender.

The outage overshadowed the much anticipated duel between star tailbacks Bryce Love and Rashaad Pennywho both lived up to the hype as they carried their respective teams offensively deep into the night. Given the conservative nature of both head coaches, there was little issue with running the ball often and playing stout defense between two good teams but it certainly made for a rather unexciting contest when all was said and done.

Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst was largely ineffective and had his worst outing as a starter, finishing with just eight completions for an unremarkable 56 yards and the game-sealing interception with 48 seconds left. If not for Love running behind that bruising offensive line (184 yards and two scores), things could have been even worse for the one-time title dark horse.

As good as Love was though, his counterpart for the Aztecs was just as good in a second consecutive Pac-12 win. Penny wound up with 206 all-purpose yards and one touchdown, the bulk coming on 175 ground-churning rushing yards. Quarterback Christian Chapman was efficient to bring balance to the offense — 187 yards and the game-winning touchdown toss — and put SDSU firmly in the mix for the Group of Five bid at the end of the year with a pair of major victories.

Big weekend for the AAC and Mountain West Conference

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For a conference trying to sell itself as the nation’s sixth power conference, Week 3 looks to be a pretty big one to do its best to prove it. The American Athletic Conference, which is going all in on its belief it is the sixth power conference and not one of the Group of Five conferences, will play games against the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12 this weekend. And that includes games against four ranked opponents, two of which will be played in an AAC stadium.

It all gets started tonight with preseason favorite South Florida hosting Illinois from the Big Ten. The Bulls are a prohibitive favorite, which comes as no surprise. Quarterback Quinton Flowers could go off against the Illini, who have a record of 2-0 thanks to wins against Ball State and Western Kentucky. With Charlie Strong as head coach, the Bulls have not looked quite as automatic through the first two weeks as many predicted, but this could be their opportunity to put it all together on a national stage.

On Saturday, Memphis will look to score a significant upset at home against No. 25 UCLA. The Bruins are off to a 2-0 start but cross-country trip for a noon eastern kickoff has been known to give a west coast team trouble in the past. If the Tigers can catch the Bruins off to a slumbering start, Memphis may have to hope Josh Rosen and company don’t wake up in the fourth quarter the way they did against Texas A&M. A Memphis win would be key to the AAC as a whole too, as a win against a ranked opponent from a power conference gives the AAC a strength of schedule argument to boost itself up in the long run.

The AAC will have a few other cracks at ranked opponents. The team with the best chance, most likely, to score a win against a ranked team may be SMU. The Mustangs visit rival TCU, ranked 20th in the AP poll and coming off a win on the road against Arkansas. East Carolina hosts No. 16 Virginia Tech, and Tulane visits No. 2 Oklahoma. Either AAC team picking up a win in those games would be a shocker.

One other game against an ACC school was scratched due to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. UCF, who looked really good in their opener, was to host Georgia Tech. Instead, the Knights will get a week off before returning to action next week on the road against Maryland.

The one game that should probably be the most interesting to watch, however, may take place in Ohio. MAC favorite Toledo is hosting Tulsa in a key Group of 5 vs. Group of 5 matchup. The Rockets have looked good and are a solid favorite, but Tulsa is a team to keep an eye on in the AAC. A year after an undefeated MAC champion grabbed the New Years Six spot in the bowl lineup, the AAC delivering a blow to the preseason MAC favorites could knock the MAC out of contention entirely before even getting to October.

AAC vs. Power 5 In Week 3

  • No. 22 USF vs. Illinois (FRI)
  • Memphis vs. No. 25 UCLA
  • Virginia vs. UConn
  • East Carolina vs. No. 16 Virginia Tech
  • No. 20 TCU vs. SMU
  • No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Tulane

Not to be outdone, the Mountain West Conference has a healthy diet of games against power conference competition this weekend as well. Air Force travels to No. 7 Michigan, Utah State visits Wake Forest, Colorado State is in Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama, Wyoming is hosting Oregon, Fresno State visits No. 6 Washington, San Jose State visits Utah, and San Diego State hosts No. 19 Stanford. That is seven games against power conference teams, including games against three top 10 teams. Most of those matchups do not appear to give the MWC many favors, although San Diego State hosting Stanford could be interesting.

Before conference play begins in these conferences, this will be the last major opportunities for the AAC and MWC to showcase their stuff in non-conference play. These games could make or break the conference’s chances of getting in the lucrative New Years Six lineup at the end of the year, so neither conference will want to squander their opportunities this weekend.

Ex-Rutgers QB Chris Laviano leaving San Diego State for lacrosse

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In late May, Chris Laviano enrolled at San Diego State after transferring from Rutgers.  Three months later?  He gone.

By way of the San Diego Union-Tribune, SDSU head coach Rocky Long confirmed that the graduate transfer Laviano has decided to transfer from the Aztecs.  According to the coach, the quarterback who’s a native of New York is leaving to pursue a collegiate lacrosse closer to home.

From the Union-Tribune‘s report:

He came to me and said he wanted his release so he could transfer someplace to play lacrosse,” Long said. “I guess he was a good lacrosse player in high school. His lacrosse coach told him he can get him a full ride Division II scholarship tomorrow from five or six places close to home. He might even be able to get him a Division I scholarship.

“He’s kind of an expert on transferring. He told me his first class wasn’t until 7 o’clock tonight and as long as he didn’t go to class, he could transfer and be eligible. I don’t know that. I would guess he’s right because I’m sure he checked.”

Long was surprised by Laviano’s request, finding out just minutes before Monday afternoon’s practice began.

“I used to get upset with players when they would quit or decide to leave,” Long said. “I don’t anymore. It’s really common now. A lot more common than it was 20 years ago. I must be getting old because the reasons they give you are ridiculous.

In late November of last year, Laviano opted to transfer from Rutgers.  Prior to that, Laviano had started 18 consecutive games for the Scarlet Knights until he was benched in October of last year.

In 2015, Laviano completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The completion percentage was the best for an RU player since 2008, while the yardage was good for eighth in school history.

Overall, he tossed 21 touchdowns and 15 picks during his time in Piscataway.

At SDSU, Laviano had been expected to compete with the incumbent Christian Chapman for the starting job.  Chapman, who missed spring practice this year as he recovered surgery on his thumb he underwent this offseason, will remain the starter, with sophomore Ryan Agnew serving as the backup.