Jacoby Brissett

Christian Hackenberg not thinking about NFL just yet

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This weekend Penn State will play its final home game of the season against Jim Harbaugh, Jabrill Peppers and the surging Michigan Wolverines. As is typically the case around college football, the last home game of the year will see a proper sendoff to Penn State’s seniors, the first class signed by former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien. Though not a senior, many suspect this could also be the final home game for quarterback Christian Hackenberg. He says that thought has not crossed his mind.

Hackenberg shined as a freshman under O’Brien but has struggled at times in the past two seasons under James Franklin. Some still see potential in Hackenberg as an NFL prospect, but his stock and likelihood of being a potential draft pick has dropped considerably since the start of the season as a lack of progress as a passer has been apparent. Josh Norris of RotoWorld currently ranks Hackenberg as the sixth top quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, assuming Hackenberg passes on his final season in State College. Hackenberg is now behind players like Paxton Lynch of Memphis, Jacoby Brissett of North Carolina State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Other quarterbacks previously in the discussion for top quarterback options along with Hackenberg, Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, are also both ahead of Penn State’s best quarterback prospect since Kerry Collins.

If Hackenberg does not declare early for the NFL Draft, there are those who believe his next best option might be to transfer to another school to play in a system more likely to use his skill set in a more preferable way. For now at least, Hackenberg’s on the record suggesting he has every intention on returning to Penn State for his fourth and final year of eligibility in 2016.

FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list

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Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah

Clemson the media’s pick to claim ACC title

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If Florida State is to make it four straight ACC titles, the team riding a 24-game conference winning streak will have to do so as “underdogs.”

In the preseason polling of 158 media members covering the conference, Clemson was tabbed by 84 of them to win the ACC championship in 2015.  FSU, meanwhile, was next with 41 first-place votes, followed by 2014 Coastal champ Georgia Tech with 20.

Others receiving first-place votes included Virginia Tech (7 votes), North Carolina (3), Miami (2) and North Carolina State (1).

Virginia was the lone Coastal team to not receive any votes to win its division. In the Atlantic, only Clemson (101), FSU (56) and Louisville (one) received votes to win the division.

Clemson also claimed the media’s preseason Player of the Year honors, with quarterback Deshaun Watson (69 first-place votes) outpacing the reigning ACC POTY, Pittsburgh running back James Connor (46). A pair of cornerbacks also caught the media’s attention, with Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey (seven) and Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller (six) receiving nods from the media.

ACC Championship Votes
1. Clemson – 84
2. Florida State – 41
3. Georgia Tech – 20
4. Virginia Tech – 7
5. North Carolina – 3
6. Miami – 2
7. NC State – 1

Atlantic Division
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Clemson (101) – 1,032
2. Florida State (56) – 992
3. Louisville (1) – 746
4. NC State – 673
5. Boston College – 473
6. Syracuse – 291
7. Wake Forest – 217

Coastal Division
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Georgia Tech (96) – 991
2. Virginia Tech (44) – 841
3. Miami (7) – 632
4. Duke (4) – 615
5. North Carolina (4) – 590
6. Pitt (3) -535
7. Virginia -220

ACC Player of the Year
1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson – 69
2. James Conner, RB, Pitt – 46
3. Justin Thomas, QB, Georgia Tech – 13
t-4. Jalen Ramsey, CB Florida State – 7
t-4. Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami -7
t-6. Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina – 6
t-6. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech – 6
8. Tyler Boyd, WR, Pitt – 3
9. Jacoby Brissett, QB, NC State – 1

Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott the betting favorites for national title and Heisman

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As we continue to inch toward the beginning of a new college football season, the odds continue to be updated. With quarterback Everett Golson transferring to Florida State was reason enough to take another look at some of the betting odds for the national championship and Heisman Trophy pictures, but it continues to be Ohio State and Buckeye running back Ezekiel Elliott at the top of the betting lines as the favorites in 2015.

Ohio State still has the best odds to win the national championship with Bovada listing the Buckeyes at 7/2 odds. With the loaded roster returning in 2015 that seems top make sense, however history would suggest it would be wiser to count on making money with another team. There have been just two back-to-back crowned national champions since 1990 and the last time a team from the Big Ten won consecutive national titles was in 1940 and 1941 (Minnesota). Alabama is always a top favorite, and the Crimson Tide are sitting ins second with 7/1 odds, followed by TCU (10/1), Auburn (12/1) and Florida State (12/1).

As for the Heisman Trophy, Elliott’s strong surge en route to a national championship has made him the betting favorite with 6/1 odds. LSU’s Leonard Fournette follows with 15/2 odds. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Georgia running back Nick Chubb and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin each have 8/1 odds according to Bovada. Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones (12/1), Braxton Miller (25/1) and J.T. Barrett (28/1) each have listed Heisman odds as well if you want to place an early bet before knowing which of the three may be starting in the fall.

In honor of David Lettermen, remember this is for entertainment purposes only.

Bovada’s latest 2015 national championship odds:

Ohio State 7/2
Alabama 7/1
TCU 10/1
Auburn 12/1
Florida State 12/1
USC 18/1
Baylor 20/1
Notre Dame 20/1
Clemson 22/1
Oregon 22/1
Georgia 25/1
Michigan State 25/1
Oklahoma 25/1
LSU 28/1
UCLA 28/1
Stanford 33/1
Arkansas 40/1
Michigan 40/1
Mississippi 40/1
Texas A&M 40/1
Tennessee 50/1
Arizona State 66/1
Florida 66/1
Mississippi State 66/1
Nebraska 66/1
Oklahoma State 66/1
Texas 66/1
Miami 75/1
Wisconsin 75/1
Arizona 100/1
Georgia Tech 100/1
Louisville 100/1
Penn State 100/1
South Carolina 100/1
Utah 100/1
Virginia Tech 100/1
Washington 100/1
Missouri 150/1
Boise State 200/1
BYU 200/1
Kansas State 200/1
Texas Tech 200/1
West Virginia 250/1
North Carolina 300/1
Boston College 500/1
California 500/1
UCF 500/1
Cincinnati 500/1
Duke 500/1
Iowa 500/1
Marshall 500/1
Maryland 500/1
Minnesota 500/1
Northwestern 500/1
Oregon State 500/1
Pittsburgh 500/1
Rutgers 500/1
South Florida 500/1

Bovada’s Latest 2015 Heisman Trophy Odds

Ezekiel Elliott (RB Ohio State) 6/1
Leonard Fournette (RB LSU) 15/2
Trevone Boykin (QB TCU) 8/1
Nick Chubb (RB Georgia) 8/1
Dak Prescott (QB Mississippi State) 8/1
Cardale Jones (QB Ohio State) 12/1
Cody Kessler (QB USC) 12/1
Everett Golson (QB Florida State) 14/1
Derrick Henry (RB Alabama) 16/1
Paul Perkins (RB UCLA) 18/1
Connor Cook (QB Michigan State) 20/1
Jeremy Johnson (QB Auburn) 20/1
Samaje Perine (RB Oklahoma) 20/1
Deshaun Watson (QB Clemson) 20/1
Braxton Miller (QB Ohio State) 25/1
J.T. Barrett (QB Ohio State) 28/1
Corey Clement (RB Wisconsin) 33/1
J Royce Freeman (RB Oregon) 33/1
Seth Russell (QB Baylor) 33/1
Justin Thomas (QB Georgia Tech) 33/1
Dalvin Cook (RB Florida State) 40/1
James Connor (RB Pittsburgh) 40/1
D.J. Foster (RB Arizona State) 40/1
Taysom Hill (QB BYU) 40/1
Brad Kaaya (QB Miami) 40/1
Mason Rudolph (QB Oklahoma State) 40/1
Nick Wilson (RB Arizona) 40/1
Malik Zaire (QB Notre Dame) 40/1
Jared Goff (QB California) 50/1
Jacoby Brissett (QB North Carolina State) 66/1
Jalen Hurd (RB Tennessee) 66/1
Laquon Treadwell (WR Mississippi) 66/1
Marquise Williams (QB North Carolina) 66/1
Scooby Wright (LB Arizona) 66/1

Bowl win confirms NC State going in right direction under Dave Doeren

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A year ago, North Carolina State’s decision to hire Dave Doeren didn’t reflect favorably on the university. A year later and Doeren helped orchestrate the second biggest turnaround in major college football this season.

With the 34-27 victory over the UCF Knights in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, the Wolfpack finished 8-5 overall, which is a five-game improvement in the win column for Doeren.

The improvement came naturally for a young and improving roster. Only six seniors started on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the young players stepped up, particularly during the bowl game.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, a Florida transfer, strung together an outstanding performance against the Knights. The junior was 15-of-26 passing for 262 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback carried the team to a 17-10 halftime lead before the running game took over in the second half.

Both junior Shadrach Thornton and sophomore Matt Dayes finished the opening half with less rushing yards (29) than Brissett. Yet the duo exploded in the second half courtesy of a strong run-blocking effort by North Carolina State’s offensive line.

Wolfpack offensive coordinator Matt Canada repeatedly called inside zone runs to gash UCF’s stout defense. The Knights entered the bowl game with the fifth-ranked rush defense. Thornton and Dayes, however, shredded George O’Leary‘s defense with 174 total yards including a pair of touchdowns from the sophomore.

Despite the loss, UCF continues to prove its one of the best programs among the Group of Five conferences. The Knights finished 9-5 overall. It’s the fourth time in five years that O’Leary led the program to at least nine wins.

But the spotlight will shine on Doeren Friday due to the tremendous job he orchestrated this season with a program that wasn’t expected to compete at a high level.

The coach will now be expected to take the program to yet another level next season, and it’ll be possible to do so with a seasoned Brissett behind center and a talented stable of running backs.