ACC, Big East looking for respect, one baby step at a time

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Pittsburgh at Rutgers (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: Pittsburgh -13

THE PLOT: Pittsburgh’ s win over Syracuse last weekend–a game in which thePanthers were underdogs–had a similar result to Rutgers win over Connecticut a week prior.Both teams won its Big East opener after bad losses and unimpressive starts.

Rutgers’ net margin of victory this year–bar the Scarlet Knights’ opener against Norfolk State–is +4 points. Margin of victory does not necessarily mean anything, unless your competitionincludes Florida International, Tulane and Army. That being said, freshman quarterbackChas Dodd‘ s performance this season filling in for an injured Tom Savage hasbeen great. Rutgers has won two consecutive games, but this week’ s visitation to Pittsburgh willbe the Greg Schiano-led group’ s first away game since going to Miami to take on FIUon September 11th.

The Panthers carry more momentum heading into its second Big East game of the year. Afterdisappointing losses to start the year at Utah and home against Miami (FL), Pittsburgh roundedout its first five games with just two wins home against New Hampshire and home againstaforementioned Florida International. The Panthers’ away game last weekend in Syracusewas a statement game. The Panthers put up 45 points on the Orange. Head coach DaveWannstedt had to be pleased to get a win, and have his team settle down after startingconference play with such a good game.

THE PICK: The only opponent that ties these two teams together is FloridaInternational. On September 11th, Rutgers traveled to Miami and needed a fourth quartertouchdown run by Mohamed Sanu to overcome the Golden Panthers. As for thePanthers of Pittsburgh, FIU gave up 277 rushing yards and three scores to Ray Graham.The Golden Panthers trailed just 16-10 heading into the fourth quarter. This game was played inPittsburgh.

Both teams have looked good–Pittsburgh’ s win over Syracuse, Rutgers’ loss to North Carolinaas well as its win over Connecticut. If you pit these teams together though, I feel Pittsburgh willcome away with a convincing win. Rutgers does not play well on the road under Schiano–19-27record outside of New Brunswick. The Panthers, however, are great at home under Wannstedt–22-11 record.

I think the Panthers move to 2-0 in conference play and get over .500 for the first time this year.

THE SCORE: Pittsburgh 30, Rutgers 16

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Syracuse at No. 20 West Virginia (12:00 ET)

THE LINE: West Virginia -14

THE PLOT: I am in some uncharted water here writing about a ranked Big East team. IfI stray off course, please warn me.

No. 20 West Virginia has really only played LSU so far this year. And to be honest, weare all still waiting to see if the Les Miles-led squad is any good. The Mountaineershave blown out the two teams it was supposed to blow out in Coastal Carolina and UNLV.An interesting Friends of Coal Bowl with Marshall earlier in the year is onlyhurting them. Two 14-point home wins over middle-tier teams in Maryland and SouthFlorida are certainly not helping West Virginia either. How can the Mountaineers trick thecomputers and human pollsters this weekend to remain ranked? They can beat the crap out of avisiting Syracuse team that was embarrassed last weekend by Pittsburgh.

Speaking of Syracuse, the Orange are looking to ” right” its ways after the crushing loss toPittsburgh last weekend on its homecoming. The Orange have won just two Big East roadgames since 2007–a 38-35 win over Louisville in 2007 and a 13-9 victory at South Floridatwo weeks ago. The Orange will need two to three more wins to become bowl eligible; playingWest Virginia this weekend will not help that cause for multiple reasons. The Mountaineers arefavored and playing at home, and if the Orange lose then team chemistry will likely crumblefollowing consecutive defeats. The remaining schedule for Syracuse likely contains maybe onegame in which the Orange will be favored.

THE PICK: When this game is done, the Big East will have a team ranked within theTop 20 for the first time since Pittsburgh began the season at No. 15. Mountaineer quarterbackGeno Smith looked his best all year last Thursday in West Virginia’ s 20-6 win overthe Bulls of South Florida. He will continue that and pick apart a Syracuse defense that gave up266 passing yards and four scores to Panther quarterback Tino Sunseri, his bestgame of the year by far.

THE SCORE: West Virginia 38, Syracuse 6

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North Carolina at Miami (FL) (7:30 ET)

THE LINE: Miami (FL) -6.5

THE PLOT: Off the top of your head, guess who has owned this small rivalry as of late?If you guess Miami, you would be correct dead wrong. The Tar Heels have won thepast three games and four of the past six since 2004.

Looking at the head coaches, it is incredible how similar Randy Shannon andButch Davis have been since arriving at their respective schools in 2007. Straight up,Shannon is 21-17 while Davis is 20-18. Against ACC teams both coaches possess an 11-13record. Both coaches have winning records at home and losing records on the road. Oh, and bothteams are 4-2 this year with a 2-1 conference record.

THE PICK: That being said, I think it’ s safe to say that the winner of this gamewill come about as a result of intangibles; occurrences that cannot be affected by coaching.

The ‘ Canes obviously possess one of the best special teams units in the nation with speedyreturners, but North Carolina will compensate for that with a tough, grind-it-out style of football.The Tar Heels have winning close games down to a science. I would typically give the edge to ateam that can cause seven turnovers in a game, but against Duke? I will take North Carolinahere.

THE SCORE: North Carolina 24, Miami 20

LAST WEEK Straight up: 2-1 Vs. spread: 2-1

OVERALL Straight up: 20-5 Vs. spread: 10-14-1

(I failed to predict scores before Week One, but if you would like to count my predictions onWeek One from an outside source, you can add the following: Straight up 2-1, Vs. spread 0-3.)

(Odds courtesy of SportsBook.com by way of our friends at NBCSports.com.)

Highest-rated signee in Texas A&M Class of 2018, Leon O’Neal, enters transfer portal

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For nearly the dozenth time this cycle, a Texas A&M football player is looking to leave College Station.  And this one was a huge 2018 get.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday evening, Leon O’Neal announced that he has decided to leave the Aggies and continue his playing career elsewhere.  No reason for his decision to enter the NCAA transfer database was given.

“I want to thank Texas A&M for everything,” the defensive back wrote. “Every game was one I’ll never forget. Win, lose or draw The 12th Man never lost [their] spirit. I want to thank my brothers for the love and support. Our bond will last forever.”

A four-star member of the Texas A&M football Class of 2018, O’Neal was the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Texas.  He was also the No. 8 safety in the country.  Most notably, O’Neal was the highest-rated member of the Aggies’ class that year.

O’Neal was part of Jimbo Fisher‘s first recruiting class after taking over as the A&M football head coach in December of 2017.

As a true freshman, O’Neal appeared in all 13 games for Texas A&M football.  Most of that action came on special teams.  This past season, the safety started eight of the 12 games in which he played.

Boise State DB DeAndre Pierce opts to enter transfer portal

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The playing career of one injury-plagued Boise State football player has come to an end.  At least, in Idaho it has.

According to 247Sports.com, DeAndre Pierce has made the decision to move on from the Boise State football program.  A BSU football official subsequently confirmed overnight that the defensive back’s name is listed in the NCAA transfer database.

No specific reason for the parting of ways was given.

If Pierce follows through and transfers away from Boise State football, he would do so as a graduate transfer.  That would allow him to play at another FBS school immediately in 2020.  If that’s the tack he chooses, of course.

Pierce was a three-star member of the Broncos’ Class of 2016.  The California native took a redshirt as a true freshman.  In 2017, Pierce started 11 of the 14 games in which he played.  He earned honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference honors for that season.

Then, the injuries hit.

The safety started four of the first five games in 2018 before a lacerated spleen sidelined him for the rest of the season.  In 2019, Pierce started five games… but missed the other nine because of various injuries.

When healthy, Pierce was credited with 144 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six passed defensed, one sack and one interception.

Even with legal case (mostly) settled, WR Joshua Moore’s status at Texas won’t be determined until closer to start of 2020 season

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Even as the off-field aspect was cleared up for one member of the Texas Longhorns football program, there’s still no clarity as it relates to him getting back onto the field.  And likely won’t be clarified for a few months.

In August, Joshua Moore was arrested on a charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon. Thursday, the wide receiver pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge. Moore avoided jail time with the plea, with the Austin American-Statesman writing that “[t]he deferred adjudication agreement states [Judge Nancy] Hohengarten will not enter a guilty finding if Moore stays out of further legal trouble over the next year, completes 60 hours of community service and fulfills any counseling conditions the probation department recommends.”

Because of the off-field situation, Moore was not permitted to play in games for Texas Longhorns football last season. He was, though, allowed to practice with the rest of his UT teammates.

A Texas Longhorns football official stated after the player’s plea that a decision on whether Moore will be permitted to play in games in 2020 won’t be determined until closer to the season kicking off.

A four-star 2018 signee, Moore played in the first six games as a true freshman before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. In that half-season of work, the 6-1, 180-pound receiver totaled 53 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

If he’s cleared to play in games — the odds are very much in his favor, provided he doesn’t violate the terms of his plea agreement — Moore is expected to take on a bigger role in the Texas Longhorns football passing game in 2020.

New Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell retains four of Mel Tucker’s assistants

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Karl Dorrell‘s first Colorado football coaching staff will have a decidedly Mel Tucker feel to it.

Feb. 12, Tucker left Colorado football to take over as the head coach at Michigan State.  Eleven days later, Dorrell was the surprise hire as Tucker’s replacement.  Dorrell’s first hirings four days his official hiring will actually be retentions as the program announced that four of Tucker’s former assistants will remain as part of the new coaching staff.

Those four are:

  • Darrin Chiaverini (wide receivers coach/assistant head coach under Tucker)
  • Darian Hagan (running backs coach)
  • Brian Michalowski (outside linebackers)
  • Tyson Summers (defensive coordinator/safeties)

According to the release from Colorado football, the holdovers’ “exact responsibilities will be determined once the remaining six assistant positions are filled, which Dorrell hopes to conclude sometime early next week.” It’s believed that Chiaverini will serve as Dorrell’s offensive coordinator, although, obviously, that hasn’t yet been confirmed.

“It’s always important if you can maintain some continuity during a coaching change,” the new Colorado football head coach said in a statement. “I’ve been around enough college and professional teams where doing so offers some stability. I had great conversations with all four and while I haven’t determined their exact roles as of yet, I am excited that we share the same goals and vision for the program. I am excited about all four and am looking forward to working with them.”

Both Chiaverini and Hagans have been a part of the Colorado football program for the past four seasons.  Both Summers and Michalowski were in their first years in Boulder.

Prior to his departure for East Lansing, Tucker had just completed his first season in Boulder, going 5-7.  Since a 10-4 2016 season, the Buffaloes have gone 5-7 each of the past three seasons.  That 2016 season is the program’s only winning record since 2005.