Jeremy Cash

AP Photo/Tony Avelar

Sporting News All-American Team headlined by Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey

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Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry and runner-up Christan McCaffrey were named First Team All-Americans by Sporting News on Tuesday. The Crimson Tide and Cardinal running backs nudged out Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and LSU’s Leonard Fournette for the first-team honors, while both Cook and Fournette filled the running back slots on the second team. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, landed on the second team from Sporting News, with Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield winning first team honors.

The full Sporting News All-American teams are listed below. The Sporting News All-American team is the fourth All-American team to be revealed that is used to make up the NCAA’s consensus All-American team. The previous three are the Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press and the Football Writers Association of America. Tomorrow, the American Football Coaches Association will release the fifth and final All-American list recognized by the NCAA for its consensus list.

FIRST TEAM

Offense

QB – Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB – Derrick Henry, Alabama; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
WR – Corey Coleman, Baylor; Josh Doctson, TCU
TE – Hunter Henry, Arkansas
OL – Joshua Garnett, Stanford; Spencer Drango Baylor; Ryan Kelly, Alabama; Jack Conklin, Michigan State; Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
K – Roberto Aguayo, Florida State
KR – Evan Berry, Tennessee

Defense

DE – Carl Nassib, Penn State; Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
DT – A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Adolphus Washington, Ohio State
LB – Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Reggie Ragland, Alabama; Eric Striker, Oklahoma
CB – Desmond King, Iowa; Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
S – Jeremy Cash, Duke; Vonn Bell, Ohio State
P – Tom Hackett, Utah
PR – Cam Sutton, Tennessee

SECOND TEAM

Offense

QB – Deshaun Watson, Clemson
RB – Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Leonard Fournette, LSU
WR – Will Fuller, Notre Dame; JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
TE – Jake Butt, Michigan
OL – Vadal Alexander, LSU; Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas; Taylor Decker, Ohio State; Jason Spriggs, Indiana; Roderick Johnson, Florida State
K – Ka’lmi Fairbairn, UCLA
KR – Morgan Burns, Kansas State

Defense

DE – Joey Bosa, Ohio State; Shaq Lawson, Clemson
DT- Jonathan Bullard, Florida; Andrew Billings, Baylor
LB – Kentrell Brothers, Missouri;Tyler Matakevich, Temple; Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
CB – Zack Sanchez, Oklahoma; Jalen Tabor, Florida
S – Jabrill Peppers, Michigan; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
P – Drew Kasar, Texas A&M
PR – Dante Pettis, Washington

Heisman winner Derrick Henry, finalists and more fill Football Writers All-American team

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson,file
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The bulk of the college football award season may be behind us, but the key All-American teams continue to be released in the coming days before the NCAA assembles this year’s list of consensus All-Americans. The Associated Press released its All-American list on Sunday. On Monday it was time for the Football Writers Association of American to release its annual list of All-Americans. Heisman Trophy winning running back from Alabama Derrick Henry was an easy pick for first team honors, as were fellow finalists Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. McCaffrey did not make the cut at running back, but was given first team honors as a kick returner.

Joining Henrey as first team All-American running backs are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette and Henry each earned first-team honors from the AP as well, while Cook made the second team cut.

First Team Offense

  • QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  • RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
  • RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
  • RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
  • WR Corey Coleman, Baylor
  • WR Josh Doctson, TCU
  • OL Spencer Drango, Baylor
  • OL Joshua Garnett, Stanford
  • OL Jason Springs, Indiana
  • OL Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
  • C Ryan Kelly, Alabama

First Team Defense

  • DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  • DL Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  • DL Carl Nassib, Penn State
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  • LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
  • LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  • LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
  • DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • DB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  • DB Desmond King, Iowa
  • DB Shawun Lurry, Northern Illinois

First Team Special Teams

  • K Ka’imi Fairbairn, UCLA
  • P Tom Hackett, Utah
  • KR Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
  • PR William Likely, Maryland

Second Team All-America Team

Offense: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; RB Royce Freeman, Oregon; WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame; WR Roger Lewis, Bowling Green; WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC; OL Jack Conklin, Michigan State; OL Taylor Decker, Ohio State; OL Tyler Johnstone, Oregon; OL Landon Turner, North Carolina; C Jack Allen, Michigan State. Defense: DL Andrew Billings, Baylor; DL DeForest Buckner, Oregon; DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; DL; Sheldon Day, Notre Dame; LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri; LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma; DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama; DB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan; DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State; DB Darian Thompson, Boise State. Specialists: K Jaden Oberkrom, TCU; P Michael Carrizosa, San José State; KR Evan Berry, Tennessee; PR Cameron Sutton, Tennessee.

Big 12, Pac-12 lead Maxwell Award semifinalists; SEC leads Bednarik semifinalists

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The push for the College Football Playoff is not the only thing heating up in November. Award season is started to come closer and closer. On Monday, the Maxwell Football Club released its list of semifinalists for two of the top individual awards in college football, the Maxwell Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award. Every Power 5 conference is represented on the Maxwell Award semifinalist list with 2 from the ACC, 4 from the Big 12, 2 from the Big Ten, 4 from the Pac-12 and 2 from the SEC. The SEC led the power conferences with seven players named to the Chuck Bednarik Award semifinalists with four.

Last year’s winner for the two Maxwell Football Club awards were Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (Maxwell Award) and Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright (Bednarik Award). A quarterback has won the Maxwell Award 13 times since 2000 and has included players like Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck. Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise gives the Irish a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the list of all-time winners by school. Notre Dame and Penn State each have seven Maxwell Award winners for the most of all-time. Navy, Ohio State and Texas each have four winners.

Penn State also has more Bednarik Award winners than any other school with four. LSU has a chance to come within one with linebacker Kendall Beckwith named a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. Past winners of the Bednarik Award, first awarded in 1995, include Pat Fitzgerald, Charles Woodson, LaVar Arrington, Ndamukong Suh, Tyrann Mathieu, Manti Te’o and Aaron Donald.

The winners of the Maxwell Award and Bednarik Award will be announced on December 10, 2015 during ESPN’s college football awards show. Three finalists will be announced for each award prior to that on November 24. A formal presentation for the awards will be held during the Maxwell Football CLub’s annual awards gala in Atlantic City, New Jersey, currently scheduled for March 11, 2016 at the Tropicana Resort & Casino.

2015 Maxwell Award Semifinalists

2015 Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalists

  • LB Kendall Beckwith, LSU
  • NT Andrew Billings, Baylor
  • DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
  • DE Jonathan Bullard, Florida
  • DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
  • S Jeremy Cash, Duke
  • LB Su’a Cravens, USC
  • DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
  • CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
  • DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
  • CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
  • LB Tyler Matakevich, Temple
  • DE Carl Nassib, Penn State
  • DT Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
  • DE Emmanueal Ogbah, Oklahoma State
  • LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama
  • CB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
  • DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
  • LB Joe Schobert, Wisconsin
  • LB Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame

Duke holds off No. 22 Georgia Tech for early ACC Coastal edge

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The end result may have become a bit tighter than David Cutcliffe would have preferred given the way things started, but he will surely take it. Duke (3-1, 1-0 ACC) scored a nice win in the inclement weather in Durham Saturday afternoon, holding off No. 22 Georgia Tech for a 34-20 victory. Safety Jeremy Cash came through with the big play by breaking through the line of scrimmage and coming from behind Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas to knock the ball loose. Duke recovered the fumble with just over two minutes to play, and Shaquille Powell broke up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown to put the cherry on top of a division win.

Both teams entered this game coming off a loss. Georgia Tech lost last week at Notre Dame, while Duke lost at home against Northwestern. While the weather may not have cooperated early on, the Blue Devils came out on a mission to get back in the win column. Duke scored 19 points in the first quarter to build a good early lead, and the offense had answers for Georgia Tech’s attempts at a rally in the second half.

After Georgia Tech kicked a field goal in the third quarter, DeVon Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets would keep chipping away in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Justin Thomas ran in for a 12-yard touchdown to cut the Duke lead to 26-20 after the PAT. Georgia Tech got the ball once more with a little over three minutes to play, but Cash’s forced fumble was the set-up to the knockout blow by Powell’s touchdown run.

The big question now becomes whether or not either of these two has what it takes to be the team to beat in what could be a wide-open ACC Coastal Division? Judging by the way each played on Saturday in Durham, there is room for improvement on both teams. The two teams combined for five turnovers and neither offense had a great showing. Georgia Tech got 326 yards of offense, while Duke picked up 279 yards of offense.

Duke gets a chance to go 2-0 in ACC play next week when they host Boston College. Key game sin division play will come later in October with road games against Virginia Tech and UNC wrapped around a home game against Miami. Georgia Tech will host North Carolina next week, and a win would put them right back in the running. Going 0-2 in the division is not something that will be easy to rally from, even in this division.

CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: ACC Predictions

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The ACC is starting to gain some confidence as a conference based on success in recent seasons. Florida State won a BCS title and Clemson defeated Ohio State in the Orange Bowl two postseasons ago. Last year the Seminoles were invited to the College Football Playoff and Georgia Tech topped the SEC’s Cinderella team from Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, and Clemson smacked Oklahoma up and down the field in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The ACC will work the numbers to their liking to prove they are among the elite power conferences right now, but the numbers can just as easily tell a different story as well. Regardless, things look to be lining up for a fun season in the ACC with Clemson a preseason favorite of many, Florida State likely to remain in the hunt and Louisville proving to be a tough out. And then there is the ACC Coastal Division, where mediocrity across the division makes for another wide-open division race this fall.

Let’s put my money where my mouth is and go on the record with some predictions for the ACC this season. Feel free to hold me accountable at the end of the season when these surely go wrong.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

1. Florida State (Last year: 13-1, lost to Oregon in College Football Playoff semifinal)
Florida State has entered the stage of program development where it is appropriate to suggest the program is reloading, rather than rebuilding. The Florida State offense returns just three starters from last year’s squad, but it does add Notre Dame transfer quarterback Everett Golson. With Dalvin Cook recently being found not guilty of battery charges, he should remain a featured asset in Florida State’s offense . Getting at Louisville in Tallahassee will be key, but the road game at Clemson could prove difficult. I have Florida State, Clemson and Louisville all ending the season with identical division records and splitting game sin the three-way head-to-head. This one comes down to the 27th ACC division tiebreaker, which may end up in Florida State’s favor when all is said and done.

2. Clemson (Last year: 10-3, beat Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl)
The Clemson Tigers are returning perhaps the top quarterback in the conference with Deshaun Watson. Many are already pegging him as a strong Heisman Trophy contender, and having one of the top wide receiving units in the ACC will certainly help his case. The offensive line returns just two starters from last season though, and the entire offense has just four returning starters. The defense is in even more of a shaky ground with a pair of starters back in 2015. But place some trust in Brent Venables to have the defense up to speed enough to work things out along the way. An early Thursday night game at Louisville could be tricky, and the final game of the regular season at South Carolina is rarely easy. But Clemson gets Florida State at home in Week 10, by which most of Clemson’s concerns could very well have been put to rest.

3. Louisville (Last year: 9-4, lost to Georgia in Belk Bowl)
Another team that has a bunch of starters to replace, Louisville returns just seven starters from last season’s team. And things could very well get off to a bumpy start with Auburn in the season opener and Clemson just a couple of weeks later. But I think they manage to split those games, winning the important ACC Atlantic Division match-up on Thursday night in Week 3. The addition of defensive end Devonte Fields should be a really good addition to the defensive line. Louisville’s defense should be very good, and perhaps one of the best in the ACC, but the secondary will have to step up and make some plays if Louisville is going to make the kind of noise I expect from them this season.

4. Boston College (Last year: 7-6, lost to Penn State in Pinstripe Bowl)
Boston College is going to be one of those teams that gives opponents a tough game, but ultimately will not have enough offense to make the Eagles any serious threat in the ACC. The defense can hold its own, but Steve Addazio has just three returning starters this season. None of them are on the offensive line. I suspect Boston College will try trusting the running game with Jon Hilliman capable of going for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. Things may very well improve at Boston College as the season progresses, but there is a brutal stretch that includes back-to-back road games at Clemson and Louisville and that is followed by a home game against Virginia Tech. Playing Notre Dame in Fenway Park late in the year should be interesting as well. Boston College should have what it takes to go bowling, and a return trip to the Pinstripe Bowl may not be unlikely.

5. North Carolina State (Last year: 8-5, beat UCF in St. Petersburg Bowl)
North Carolina State is a team many people think is capable of making some noise in the ACC this season, and they very well could. The reason is the Wolfpack return seven starters on offense and seven more on defense. If experience is the key, no team in the ACC Atlantic Division has more of it heading into the 2015 season. There is not one thing NC State does exceptionally well, but they are pretty well-rounded in all areas of the game. Jacoby Brisset is back to start at quarterback, after helping the team improve dramatically last season. Now we will see if he is capable of taking NC State to the next step forward. The Wolfpack should get off to a good start with a favorable schedule, but I’m seeing some bumps in the road once they get into ACC play. NC State gets Louisville and Clemson at home, which is good and easily a recipe for potential upset alerts. I still will go with the favorites for now.

6. Syracuse (Last year: 3-9)
It looks to be a long season at Syracuse. The move to the ACC has not shown much improvement in the recruiting game under Scott Shafer, who could very well be coaching for his job this season. Syracuse could get off to a quick 3-0 start this season, but even that might be difficult. Then LSU comes to the dome in Week 4. Syracuse will get a bye after the big game with the LSU Tigers, and a road trip to USF comes after that, but then ACC play resumes and Syracuse’s next win may not come until 2016 at that point.

7. Wake Forest (Last year: 3-9)
If you thought Syracuse had it rough, take a look at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons will be a young team in 2015, giving head coach Dave Clawson some more expected growing pains this fall. Wake Forest could get off to a 2-1 start with wins over Elon and Army (losing to Syracuse), but it will be a long stretch of demoralization after that. If Wake Forest manages to get to four wins to improve on last season’s win total, that should be considered a solid victory for Clawson and company.

COASTAL DIVISION

1. Virginia Tech (Last year: 7-6, beat Cincinnati in Military Bowl – they also beat Ohio State, in case you forgot)
Virginia Tech has the best defense in the ACC this season, and that should be enough to push the Hokies ahead fo the rest of the seemingly always up-for-grabs Coastal Division. The biggest question for Virginia Tech is whether or not the offense can avoid giving it away. Having Marshawn Williams back and healthy at running back should help. I look for the Hokies to give Ohio State a respectable fight in the Labor Day season opener, bu the Buckeyes leave with revenge after last season’s meeting in Columbus. From there, things look good for Virginia Tech with no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the schedule. Pittsburgh and UNC are both at home too. The schedule and defense should come in handy this season in Blacksburg.

2. North Carolina (Last year: 6-7, lost to Rutgers in Quick Lane Bowl)
No offense in the ACC returns as many starters this season than the North Carolina Tar Heels. A total of 10 starters are back for UNC, including a healthy Marquise Williams at quarterback, but how much will he have to carry the offense this season? In addition to being the leading passer, Williams is also UNC’s leading returning rusher from a year ago (788 yards, 13 touchdowns). I’d like to see others take some of the pressure off Williams to do everything if UNC is going to make a serious run to the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Looking at the schedule, I see real potential for a possible 7-0 start, but I also see the possibility of a rough finish to the season. That would seem to be the opposite of what happened last season after UNC closed on a hot streak to overcome a dismal start to the season.

3. Pittsburgh (Last year: 6-7, lost to Houston in Armed Forces Bowl)
I seem to have said this the past couple of years and I will do so once more; Why not Pitt? Pat Narduzzi takes over the Pittsburgh program and that should help lock things down on defense, with seven returning starters. The former Michigan State defensive coordinator also inherits some of the top offensive players in the ACC with wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back James Conner, but it will be up to quarterback Chad Voytik to keep things moving consistently for the Panthers. If the Panthers can get off to better than a 2-2 start (as I predict), they could make a run in the wide open division.

4. Miami (Last year: 6-7, lost to South Carolina in Independence Bowl)
Another year, another season of wondering if this could possibly be the year Miami finally plays in the ACC Championship Game. They have yet to do so since leaving the Big East to provide the ACC with more football balance, and it looks as though this could be another season that sees early promise and hype ultimately fizzle out in an up-and-down second half of the season. They have the quarterback in Brad Kaaya, but do they have the ability to pull it together everywhere else? I have Miami getting out to a nice little 4-0 start before visiting Florida State in Week 6. From there it should be on-off-on-off for the Hurricanes. That could put head coach Al Golden on as hot a seat as possible at the end of the season.

5. Georgia Tech (Last year: 11-3, beat Mississippi State in Orange Bowl)
The formula for Georgia Tech’s success never seems to change, although the effectiveness of it seems to have mixed results. Paul Johnson‘s offensive style picked up 11 wins last season and gave Florida State one of many close calls last season in the ACC Championship Game. Playing in this wide open division, you can easily make a case for Georgia Tech to make a return trip to Charlotte at the end of the season, and a steady defense helps support that argument. I just think there are some tough battles ahead this season with a road trip to Notre Dame followed by ACC contests against Duke, North Carolina, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Florida State all in a row. That can be a tough stretch for the Yellow Jackets, as could the final two games of the season, at Miami and home against Georgia. Georgia Tech will still be a decent team, but they may skate on thin ice en route to the postseason.

6. Virginia (Last year: 5-7)
Virginia has had a rough stretch under Mike London, and this might be the final straw for the head coach if things do not show potential moving forward. Unfortunately for London, there may not be much progress shown with a three-win season. Yet, I have them somehow managing to avoid last place and staying ahead of Duke? Strange, I admit, but I think Virginia manages to win a pair of home games in ACC play, against Syracuse and Duke, and that is good enough to sneak just ahead of the Blue Devils in the standings. It may not, however, be enough to assure London a job in Charlottesville next season. Early games against UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State (and William & Mary) might be rough to watch at times.

7. Duke (Last year: 9-4, lost to Arizona State in Sun Bowl)
Do not be fooled by a last-place finish in the ACC Coastal. As you no doubt have learned by now, I view this division as a wide-open race, and I still predict Duke will be bowl-eligible this year. That will be because Duke has a very favorable schedule this season with likely wins in non-conference play and no Clemson, Florida State or Louisville on the conference schedule. Yet I still see Duke struggling to find much consistency in conference play. David Cutcliffe has done a remarkable job in Durham, but this year’s team may be lacking in enough playmakers outside of safety Jeremy Cash to find enough wins to make a run at the division.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Florida State over Virginia Tech
After coming out on top of a clouded three-team tie in the ACC Atlantic Division, Florida State once again manages to win the ACC championship game for a fourth straight season. As will be the story all season, the Hokies defense keeps them in the game but the offense simply will not have enough firepower to get by a team with as much talent as Florida State. But will this Florida State team have done enough to convince the College Football Playoff selection committee it deserves a second straight invite to the postseason party?