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.

Rutgers hires search firm to help find new football coach

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Rutgers has officially been in the market for a new head football coach for over a week, and now the school is going to get some help from a search firm.

Rutgers announced a new partnership with Ventura Partners on Monday. The firm will help Rutgers in searching for a new head football coach and may assist in helping to hire other new leaders in the future as Rutgers looks to revitalize their entire athletics department.

“We are excited to be working with Ventura Partners,” Rutgers Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs said in a released statement on Monday. “They provide a unique range of services, including talent acquisition and development. We will begin working together immediately to ensure excellent leadership for our football program. They will also be working with us throughout the engagement on strengthening our human resources and providing market data and intelligence.”

Rutgers fired Chris Ash as head coach on Sept. 29, which is a costly move thanks to a previous contract extension. The Scarlet Knights have since been dealing with a handful of players redshirting the remainder of the season and an abysmal performance on the road against Indiana in which the team gained just 75 yards of offense while giving up over 500 yards to the Hoosiers.

Mike Aresco expects to hear update on AAC championship game waiver “in the next month”

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With the upcoming departure of UConn from the American Athletic Conference, the staus of the AAC Championship Game is officially in question. Without 12 football-playing members, the AAC does not satisfy the NCAA requirement to play an official conference championship game without a waiver. Not wanting to give up the title game just a few short years after implementing it (and accepting the extra revenue generated in the TV contract), AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is hoping to get some positive word on a waiver request sometime soon.

How soon?

It looks like we may have an update on this situation within the month. The sooner, the better.

UConn is leaving the AAC after this current football season, and Aresco has made it clear the conference still wants to continue playing its conference title game. The current plan is for the AAC to scrap the two-division format entirely and pit the two best teams in a conference championship game at the end of the regular season (an idea that would work well in almost every conference, by the way). The AAC reportedly field a formal waiver to allow for the championship game to live on back in August.

The Big 12 currently only has 10 members and has been granted permission to field a conference championship game on top of the round-robin schedule played during the season. If the Big 12 can have a conference title game without 12 members, then the AAC should be getting confirmation their conference championship game will continue too. But waiting for the official word is needed before the conference can start making plans for 2020 and beyond.

At this point, there remains no sign the conference is looking to add a 12th member for football, which would negate the need for a waiver. But if the waiver is denied, for some reason, then expect the AAC expansion rumors to start flying once again.

Michigan Class of 2018 four-star TE Mustapha Muhammad enters NCAA transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.

Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.

Oregon DB Kahlef Halassie steps into transfer portal

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Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.

Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.