Wrapping up the opening weekend ACC action

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No. 20 Florida State 59 Samford 6

Tallahassee Heisman hopeful Christian Ponder did not help his stock to start Saturdayafternoons match with Samford. The Seminoles’ first appearance in the red zone ended with a sixyard interception.

Once reality hit, though, Ponder bounced back. He threw four first half touchdowns–three in thesecond quarter–as the ‘Noles went into half time with a 42-3 lead.

Backup quarterback sophomore EJ Manuel came in for relief of Ponder so as topreserve his health after the break.

The second half featured another field goal from Samford kicker Cameron Yaw and apair of rushing touchdowns from FSU.

• No. 16 Georgia Tech 41 South Carolina State 10

The Yellowjackets under head coach Paul Johnson haven’t made any significantchanges. The Georgia Tech defense played well against SC State, holding the offense to zeropoints despite failing to grab a turnover.

The offense was its usual self, as well. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt characteristicallypassed for eight yards through the first half, and the run game accounted for the other 175 yards.

The Yellowjackets headed into half-time with a 20-3 lead, and never looked back. Nesbitt scoredanother rushing touchdown, and Georgia Tech finished with six total rushing touchdowns, fourmore scores than they had pass completions…for the day.

The Bulldogs’ Malcolm Long added a one-yard rushing touchdown for SC State’s lonetouchdown of the afternoon.

Boston College 38 Weber State 20

Last season, Boston College 26-year-old sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie had arollercoaster of a season. He played well against Wake Forest, Florida State and NC State. Hehad bad games against Notre Dame, Virginia and North Carolina.

Then there was the Virginia Tech game. Shinskie’s passer rating was -22.20. The Hokies caughtmore of Shinskie’s passes than did the Eagles.

In order for BC to turn things around this season, they would need Shinskie to lead the offensesuccessfully. His first pass on Saturday was less than ideal.

Weber State linebacker Taylor Sedillo intercepted Shinskie for seven yards and set upthe Wildcats in the Eagle red zone. They settled for a field goal.

On BC’s next drive, Shinskie completed all three of his passes for 35 yards and a touchdown to

Chris Pantale, wiping away any fear or doubt any Eagle fan could have.

But Shinskie was not yet through scaring Boston College fans. He finished the day a miserable10 of 20 for 187 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions. And this was againstWeber State’s defense, not Virginia Tech or North Carolina.

Eagle running back Montel Harris looked great, finishing with 115 yards and a score,but the Eagles must have Shinskie perform, or it will be another disappointing season for BostonCollege.

Clemson 35 North Texas 10

The big question mark for Clemson heading into their Saturday afternoon battle with NorthTexas was the play of quarterback Kyle Parker. Would he repeat his success from lastyear, or would he crumble under the distraction(s) of becoming a professional baseball player?

Early on, Parker played as well as he could have. He hit two touchdowns through the air toreceiver Brandon Clear and running back Jamie Harper.

The Tigers started their scoring with a 60-yard run in the first quarter by running back AndreEllington.

If the Tiger defense had not got to Mean Green quarterback Nathan Tune four times inthe first half, then Tulane may very well have been tied with Clemson at the break. North Texasalso fumbled, losing yardage, on three separate occasions.

Both running backs Harper and Ellington finished with two scores each, sending all thoughts offormer Tiger CJ Spiller to the wind.

Parker quieted down, finishing with nearly half of his pass attempts being incomplete, one aninterception.

Virginia 34 Richmond 13

Running back Keith Payne was through with football until former Cavalier headcoach Al Groh left and current head coach Mike London stepped in. Boy, isCavalier nation glad he came back.

Payne ran for 108 yards on just fifteen carries for four scores, three of which were in the secondhalf to help UVA pull away from the Spiders.

According to Rivals.com, Payne had three straight carries over 13 yards, each time with defenders on hisback.

Richmond, a perennial FCS powerhouse, had previously beaten Virginia twice in the past fiveyears. The two were within one-point when Virginia led at half-time, 14-13. The last three scoreswere all Payne’s.

NC State 48 Western Carolina 7

NC State quarterback Russell Wilson was in a similar situation as Clemson passerKyle Parker this summer. Wilson was selected in the MLB draft, and missed somepracticing with his Wolfpack teammates because of baseball related events.

But, unlike Parker, Wilson did his part in leading the Wolfpack offense to a ton of points. Hecompleted 21 of 31 passes for 306 yards and four scores, without a blemish.

As for the Wolfpack defense, they did not allow the Western Carolina Catamounts into the redzone. The seven points surrendered by the Wolfpack defense was the fewest amount since NCState’s second game of last season.

Duke 41 Elon 27

In his first career start, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree had a career-day. Renfree passedfor 350 yards and two touchdowns, showing that former Blue Devil quarterback ThaddeusLewis might have been a product of Duke’s offensive system.

Duke had a comfortable lead throughout the entire first half, heading into the break up 27-13.

The third quarter was scoreless, while the fourth featured two scores by each team.

No. 21 LSU 30 No. 18 North Carolina 24

In what many thought would be a blow out, North Carolina held its own and nearly toppled LSU.The Tar Heels rallied from a 30-10 halftime deficit to come within six.

With a successful onside kick, UNC looked like they had all the momentum in the world…untilTar Heel quarterback TJ Yates fumbled, allowing the Tigers to attempt to run out theclock.

If it were only that simple.

North Carolina managed to knock the ball loose with their depleted defense, and recovered thefumble. With 2:17 remaining in the game and on his own 27 yard line, Yates led the Tar Heelsdown the field to mount a comeback.

Yates completed his first five passes of the drive, but with 0:10 left in the game, he threw twoincomplete passes, attempted for tight end Zack Pianalto. Yates finished the gamecompleting 62.2% of his passes for 410 yards and three scores.

LSU turned the ball over four times, yet still escaped with the victory.

It’s only natural to imagine what the end result would have been had North Carolina played their entire team. The Tar Heels were without eight starters, severely limiting their potential as a unit.

Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is going on safari in South Africa next spring

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.

“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”

This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.

Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.

In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.

Clemson QB Hunter Johnson set to transfer; Purdue and Northwestern in the mix

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Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.

Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.

Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.

Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.

Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.

Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.

Kansas fires AD Sheahon Zenger, but David Beaty’s job is safe for now

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The Kansas Jayhawks made a change in leadership Monday morning with the firing of athletics director Sheahon Zenger. While a change in AD may be an ominous sign for a head coach of a struggling football program, Kansas football coach David Beaty appears to be safe from any further changes.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod said in a released statement. “But Athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

“[Earlier] today I spoke with Coach Beaty and shared my expectation that he will continue recruiting hard and getting his team ready for the season,” Girod made a point to say in his released statement about the firing of Zenger.

Deputy athletics director Sean Lester will fill the gap at the AD position on an interim basis while Kansas conducts a search for a new athletics director.

Zenger was named AD at Kansas in 2011, after a previous stint at Illinois State. Prior to his job at Illinois State, Zenger was an assistant AD at Kansas State. Zenger has made two coaching hires for Kansas football. The more recent hiring of Beaty was made in after the 2014 season and has yielded a football record of just 3-33 in that span. Prior to Beaty, Zenger was responsible for hiring former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis to a massive contract that took a toll on Kansas athletics years after the Weis experiment had imploded. Of course, Zenger should take the brunt of the attack for the Weis hire, but there is plenty of blame to be spread around with others having a chance to say “no” to the sizable contract that was being offered to Weis at the time.

With a new AD coming in, it may not be unfair to suggest the 2018 season must be one that sees obvious improvement in the football program on the field. Beaty’s hot seat will certainly be warming if Kansas continues to struggle and a new AD is put in place to decide his fate as the head coach moving forward.

Charles Woodson: Michigan isn’t putting emphasis on Ohio State game like they should

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Since retiring from the NFL, Charles Woodson has become increasingly vocal about his alma mater. Not only has the Michigan alum shouted out his love for the Wolverines, he’s also not shy in calling out the team after a few years of sub-par results — particularly when it comes to the game against their heated rival Ohio State.

You can add another chapter for Woodson in that matter over the weekend as the Heisman Trophy winner did not mince words in calling out how ‘The Game’ is being treated by some in Ann Arbor.

“You know what, to be quite honest, I really feel like in recent years there hasn’t been the emphasis I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson told the Detroit Free Press on Saturday. “Every game has been put on the same level as that game. That’s not the way we were brought up. Not the way we were raised around here.

“We had no shame in saying (we were going to beat Ohio State). And every time I watch our teams in recent years, it’s ‘oh, it’s another game.’ It’s not.”

Woodson has already guaranteed a victory over the Buckeyes this spring at a commencement speech he gave to UM graduates and has been vocal about the program getting back to the position he had it in back in the late 1990’s when they were winning titles and — most importantly — beating Ohio State. The Wolverines have never beaten Urban Meyer since he arrived in Columbus and have just two wins in the series in the past 15 tries. Jim Harbaugh, who is certainly familiar with beating OSU as a player, is 0-3 against the Buckeyes as head coach.

It goes without saying that the team is very much aware of the current six-game losing streak they have against their chief rival and, given everything that has gone on this offseason, could be in their best position in years to get a win when the two meet in Columbus this November. However, Woodson might be getting a text message or phone call from Harbaugh to tone down the rhetoric just a tad given that he’s writing a check the players will have to cash.

Certainly everybody in Ann Arbor knows how big ‘The Game’ is to the school and will be emphasizing a win this year more than ever even without the extra push from one of the all-time greats in maize and blue.