Ranking the new college football match-ups of 2014

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According to the fine folks at FBSchedules.com, there will be six brand new college football match-ups debuting on the gridiron this fall. One of those will be a conference match-up and another will come as part of a conference scheduling agreement, while the other four are good, old-fashioned cross-regional games making for an attractive non-conference tilt. So, if you had to give them a power ranking, which would be the crème de la crème?

Here is my personal take, but feel free to rank these match-ups yourself in the comments below.

1. Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech (September 6)

Virginia Tech may not be quite the ACC power they once were, but the Hokies should be capable of giving Ohio State more than a good early test in non-conference play. The Buckeyes should be one of the favorites in the Big Ten and the boost from playing a solid Virginia Tech team could be a nice little boost in strength of schedule in the eyes of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

2. Alabama vs. West Virginia (August 30, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Alabama returns to Atlanta, a city it has become very familiar with over the last few years. The Crimson Tide look to reload and establish a powerful presence against a West Virginia team looking to get the offense firing on all cylinders once again. Nick Saban vs. Dana Holgorsen is quite the contrast in coaching styles, and Saban’s Tide are looking to avoid losing a third straight game for the first time in a long time.

3. Notre Dame vs. Louisville (November 22)

Part of the ACC scheduling agreement with Notre Dame happens to land first-year member Louisville in South Bend in November. The Cardinals are a team that could get better as the season plays out in a year of transition, while Notre Dame could be looking to finish the season on a strong upswing. This one may not carry much influence in the playoff picture, but rankings could be at stake.

4. South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (August 28)

The lone conference match-up in this list will help kick off the entire college football season with a Thursday night game at South Carolina. It is a shame this game will not feature Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney, but Steve Spurrier‘s Gamecocks could get off to a strong start against a rebuilding Texas A&M team and take an early lead in the SEC East as a result.

5. Ole Miss vs. Boise State (August 28, Chick-fil-A Kickoff)

Boise State returns to Atlanta looking for another victory over an SEC team in the season opener. A couple of years ago it was Georgia, but now it is an Ole Miss team that appears to be moving upward in the world of college football. If the Rebels are going to be a legitimate force, a strong showing against a Boise State team under new leadership is certainly not a bad way to go.

6. Virginia vs. UCLA (August 30)

Last year Virginia was embarrassed at home by Oregon. This year another Pac-12 and potential playoff contender visits Charlottesville with UCLA coming across country to start the new season. This could quickly turn into a showcase for Brett Hundley and Myles Jack if Virginia does not come up with anything worth showing.

Dabo Swinney, Hunter Johnson address QB’s transfer

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Clemson has officially bid adieu to a highly-touted member of its 2017 recruiting class.

Earlier in the day Monday, reports surfaced that Hunter Johnson had decided to transfer from the Tigers, with a couple of Big Ten schools already listed as potential landing spots. Not long after that news made the rounds, Dabo Swinney acknowledged the reports, calling the quarterback “one of the best young men I’ve ever coached” in sending his former player his well-wishes.

“While it is always disappointing to lose a great person and a great player, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Hunter and watch him grow and develop over the last year and a half,” the full statement attributed to the head coach began. “Hunter is one of the best young men I have ever coached and has a very bright future ahead of him.

“I wish him all the best as he decides on his destination.”

Johnson himself issued his own statement through the school’s sports information department addressing the development.

“I want to thank Coach Swinney and the Clemson family for giving me the opportunity to be a part of something special,” said Johnson. “I’ve met some amazing people who I will forever call family. I am a better man and a better football player because of my time spent at Clemson. Go Tigers!”

The composite board on 247Sports.com had Johnson rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 30 player at any position for the Class of 2017. As a true freshman, Johnson completed 21 of his 27 passes for 234 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in seven appearances.

It’s believed that Johnson, who will have to sit out the 2018 season but would then have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019, is eyeing Northwestern or Purdue as potential transfer destinations.

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair loses defamation lawsuit vs. NCAA

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By a vote of 9-3, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair has lost his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA. Following six days of deliberation, the verdict brings to a close the Reggie Bush scandal that began more than a decade ago, a scandal that saw the Trojans lose their 2004 BCS national championship and Bush be stripped of his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

McNair sued the NCAA after it found him guilty of unethical conduct while Bush received impermissible benefits. He was given a 1-year show-cause penalty, and has not worked since his contract expired in the summer of 2010.

McNair sought $27 million in damages from the NCAA.

McNair’s attorney Bruce Broilett told ESPN his team was “very disappointed … disappointed in the result. Assessing the situation and considering our next steps.”

David Beaty releases statement on firing of KU AD Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas fired athletics director Sheahon Zenger earlier today. If the move was immediately greeted as a vote of no-confidence in Zenger’s ability to find and hire the next Jayhawks football coach — and, thus, a vote of no-confidence in the David Beaty era — that’s because it pretty much is.

“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,” KU chancellor Douglas Girod said in his statement announcing Zenger’s firing.

The playbook is well documented by now: to replace the head coach, you must first replace the AD who hired the head coach, and the replacement will then hire the new head coach. We’ve seen it play out at a number of places, most recently Nebraska, where Bill Moos was brought in to replace Shawn Eichorst, and Moos promptly fired Mike Riley and hired Scott Frost.

Beaty is a well-liked coach, but college football is a results business and a 3-33 record speaks for itself. Beaty surely knows that score better than anyone.

Hours after the news went public, Beaty released a statement of his own on Monday afternoon.

As if the 3-33 mark wasn’t obvious enough, the beginning of the end of the Beaty era likely came on Monday.

Alabama (still) a massive favorite over Louisville, other Week 1 lines

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It’s been about four months since we checked in on the Week 1 betting lines in college football, highlighted by Alabama’s installation as a massive favorite for its date with Louisville in Orlando.

And in the four months since, the public has clearly lost faith in the Nick Saban Football Machine.

After starting as a 29.5-point favorite, Alabama has been downgraded… to a 28.5-point favorite, according to lines released by Bet Online.

Other lines of note:

  • UCF (-20.5) at Connecticut
  • Northwestern (+4.5) at Purdue
  • Colorado (-6) vs. Colorado State (at Denver)
  • San Diego State (+14.5) at Stanford
  • Florida Atlantic (+23) at Oklahoma
  • Oregon State (+38) at Ohio State
  • Texas (-10.5) at Maryland
  • Boise State (-10.5) at Troy
  • Arizona (-14) vs. BYU (at Phoenix)
  • Auburn (-3.5) vs. Washington (at Atlanta)
  • Ole Miss (-1.5) vs. Texas Tech (at Houston)
  • West Virginia (-7) vs. Tennessee (at Charlotte)
  • North Carolina (+6) at California
  • Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame
  • Alabama (-28.5) vs. Louisville (at Orlando)
  • Miami (-3) vs. LSU (at Dallas)
  • Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Florida State

Check out the entire list of lines here.