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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. 

Muschamp: Deebo Samuel will be out for extended period of time

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South Carolina running back Deebo Samuel may have played his last game for the Gamecocks this season, but the door is not completely shut on the possibility fo a return later this season.

South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said it is unknown exactly when Samuel could be able to return to the team but said his surgery for a fractured left fibula went well on Sunday.

“We are not certain when he’s coming back. I don’t want to comment much on the status part of it,” Muschamp said, according to The State. “You never know. The surgery went extremely well. [Team orthopedic surgeon Jeff Guy] was extremely pleased with how everything went. We will see what happens. He will be out for an extended period of time.”

That seems mildly more optimistic than Muschamp’s prognosis following Saturday’s loss to Kentucky. Muschamp suggested Samuel’s season was over immediately after the game at the time on Saturday. Regardless of the timeline and outlook, Muschamp expressed disappointment for Samuel.

Who was to blame for South Carolina-Kentucky handshake incident? Depends who you ask

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Prior to Saturday’s game between South Carolina and Kentucky, Gamecock team captains chose not to shake hands with their Kentucky counterparts at the pregame coin flip. A day after Kentucky topped the Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp issued an apology to Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops.

“That just fired us up even more,” Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson said, according to The State. “Gave us even more motivation, which was pretty stupid on their part, but they just didn’t want to shake our hands.”

In addition to extending the apology to Stoops, Muschamp told reporters his team captains will shake hands with their counterparts moving forward. It is unknown if the SEC will weigh in with any discipline for the lack of sportsmanship. But was South Carolina solely responsible for the handshake incident? Not according to South Carolina radio reporter Langston Moore, who seemed to pit some of the blame on Johnson.

Stoops had commented after the game about South Carolina’s captains not shaking hands with his captains, but at least one voice says there was blame to spread around. Two sides to every story, of course.

The bottom line is this is a good teaching moment if you believe in good sportsmanship. Shake hands. It’s not that hard.

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.

South Carolina uses goal-line stand to survive NC State

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South Carolina returned a kickoff for a touchdown and turned two fumbles into touchdowns and still needed a deflection inside its own end zone to survive NC State, holding on for a 35-28 win in Charlotte.

Deebo Samuel started the year for the Gamecocks as well as he possibly could, taking the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The game turned into a shootout for there.

NC State answered Samuel’s touchdown with a 14-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 6-yard Ryan Finley scoring run. South Carolina answered that answer when Jake Bentley found Rico Dowdle for a 34-yard score at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter.

And NC State again responded, this time on a 2-yard Nyheim Hines run to close the first quarter in a 14-14 tie.

South Carolina’s Chris Lammons forced a fumble by NC State receiver Stephon Lewis inside NC State territory, and South Carolina capitalized on a 6-yard toss from Bentley to Samuel at the 10:02 mark of the second quarter.

NC State tied the game again with its third lengthy drive of the half — 79 yards in 10 plays — closing on a 4-yard strike from Finely to Jakobi Meyers.

South Carolina opened the second half with two straight scores. The first came on a 39-yard strike from Bentley (17-of-29 for 215 yards and three touchdowns with one interception)

to Samuel on the ‘Cocks opening touch of the second half, and the third came two plays after another Wolfpack fumble inside its own territory; Dowdle staked South Carolina to a 35-21 lead on a 7-yard dash at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter.

That would be the last output from South Carolina’s offense, while its defense had to survive an onslaught of plays from NC State. The Wolfpack ran 99 plays, 64 of them passes from Finley.

A 4th-and-goal completion from Finely to Jaylen Samuels (15 catches for 85 yards) pulled NC State within seven at the 12:21 mark of the fourth quarter, but the pair could not hook up again after NC State moved to a 1st-and-goal from the South Carolina 8-yard line with 24 seconds remaining. Finley (45-of-64 for 415 yards for two touchdowns with no interceptions) fired three incomplete passes surrounded by one sack, allowing South Carolina to escape with the win.

The victory pushed South Carolina to 1-0 for the 17th time in 18 tries since the turn of the century and 3-0 in Charlotte openers. The Gamecocks also beat East Carolina at Bank of America Stadium to open the 2011 season and toppled North Carolina to begin the ’15 campaign. NC State (0-1) fell to 26-28-4 against South Carolina all-time and 0-3 since the turn of the century.