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SEC releases 2018 schedule

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The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.

But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.

  • Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
  • Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
  • LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
  • Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
  • Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
  • Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
  • Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
  • Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13

Consult the full schedule here. 

Louisville-Ole Miss 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff opener made official

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After reports had signaled it, it’s a done deal.

The “it” in this case is Louisville opening the 2021 season against Ole Miss, with the two programs confirming Tuesday that they will square off in one of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games that year.  The game will be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, although a date and kickoff time are still to be determined.

The 2021 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the football teams.  Each has made one previous appearance in the Kickoff Game, Louisville in 2015 (31-24 loss to Auburn) and Ole Miss in 2014 (35-13 win over Boise State).

“To have the opportunity to play in this game again for the second time is a huge win for our program,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “We are honored to be welcomed back by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is a tremendous testament to our loyal fan base, who helped pack the stadium in 2015. Our fans have a great history of traveling, and to have the opportunity to play a great program like Ole Miss in this brand-new facility will certainly be a hot ticket for the fans. Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl group do a tremendous job with this game and we appreciate them selecting Louisville for what has become the premier game to kick off the season.”

“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. We always set the goal to end the regular season in Atlanta, so it’s only fitting that’s where we begin it,” Jurich’s Ole Miss counterpart, Ross Bjork, said in his. “With our strong alumni base in Georgia, Rebel Nation will arrive in full force to experience this premier matchup in the nation’s finest new stadium. In addition, the Atlanta market is a key recruiting area for our staff, and this trip offers a tremendous opportunity to compete in front of those prospects.”

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Alabama and Miami would square off in the other Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game the opening weekend of the 2021 season.

Vegas remains very high on Ohio State’s national title hopes

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Ohio State may no longer be viable national title contenders in the eyes of some fans, that’s not how one Las Vegas book sees it.

Despite an embarrassing home loss to Oklahoma Saturday night, OSU is currently an 8/1 favorite to claim the 2017 College Football Playoff championship according to Bovada.lv. That’s down just slightly from the 6/1 they were at after Week 1 and behind just two other teams — Alabama at 7/4 (13/5 on Sept. 5) and USC at 6/1.

And the team that convincingly dropped the Buckeyes? The Sooners are at 8/1 after being at 14/1 a week ago.

Of course, there is precedence for OSU bouncing back from such an early-season loss, which is surely in the back of Vegas’ oddsmaking minds. Three years ago, OSU stumbled in a double-digit Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech before going undefeated the remainder of the year and claiming the 2014 national championship in the first season of the CFP.

Getting back to the here and now, the 2016 national champions, Clemson (20/1), are at 14/1 in Bovada‘s latest title odds, as are Michigan and Penn State. Both of those Big Ten teams hold steady from their odds a week ago.

Houston, at 100/1, is the only Group of Five team still on the board.

Below is the latest set of 2017 national championship odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Ole Miss long snapper leaves team on eve of season opener

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It’s looking like this is going to be a rough year for Ole Miss football. A program coming off an offseason that saw its head coach removed amid controversy while a dark cloud continues to hover above it with an NCAA investigation process ongoing is now ready to try and turn the page to a new football season. And on the eve of the new season for the Rebels, one player is leaving the program.

Long snapper Chadwick Lamar has announced, via Twitter, he is leaving the program.

The reasons for Lamar’s sudden departure are unknown at this time, but it does leave Ole Miss with an overlooked position of need to address right away. The long snapper may not be one of the most important positions on the field, but it suddenly becomes one when you lose the most experienced long snapper you have and need a clear punt from your special teams unit. You never know how much you need a long snapper until a snap sails by your punter and the attempt to flip the field position goes horribly wrong.

That’s not to say that will be the case for the Rebels, but it is suddenly a mild question mark for the team added on top of a heap of questions facing the program this season.

Ole Miss opens the season at home on Saturday against South Alabama.

UTSA announces new five-year contract for head coach Frank Wilson

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Look at any of the ‘hot name coaches’ lists about those who could be candidates to take some big Power Five jobs after this season and chances are that you’ll find Frank Wilson somewhere on the page.

The UTSA head coach had a very nice turnaround campaign in his first year on the job that included the young school’s first-ever bowl game appearance. While Wilson has already been mentioned for openings, such as the one at Ole Miss, the program is stepping up their game in hopes of keeping him around San Antonio longer than expected with a new contract.

While a few details leaked ahead of time, the school confirmed on Thursday that system regents had approved a new five-year deal for Wilson, starting on Sept. 1st, that will run through the 2021 season.

“We are very excited about the leadership that Coach Wilson has brought to our football program and athletic department as a whole,” UTSA athletic director Lynn Hickey said in a release. “Our objective is to be a dominant player in Conference USA, and making a commitment to Coach Wilson is an intentional step in ensuring that we become a program of excellence. A strong commitment to our football program will build the foundation that is needed to strengthen and grow resources for our all of our sports. We are fortunate and grateful for our donors who share in our vision and have enabled us to make this commitment.”

The new deal guarantees Wilson $900,000 for the upcoming season, followed by $50,000 and $25,000 increases the next two years. That results in a total of $4.775 million over the lifetime of the deal, which replaces the previous one agreed upon between the two parties and makes Wilson the highest paid coach in Conference USA when all is said and done.

Wilson is just 43 and has already developed a strong reputation for his ability to recruit after stops at LSU and Tennessee among others. Given how quickly he turned around things at UTSA it makes sense for the program to reward him with a new deal, not only as a way of saying thanks but also in hopes of having him stick around to keep things pointed in the right direction before Power Five programs come calling.