CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 24 Boise State

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2013 record: 8-5 overall, 6-2 in Mountain West (2nd in Mountain division/tied 3rd in conference)
2013 postseason: Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl vs. Oregon State Beavers  (38-23 loss)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: Not ranked
Head coach: Bryan Harsin (7-5 overall; first season at Boise State)
Offensive coordinator: Mike Sanford (first season)
2013 offensive rankings: 33rd rushing offense (198.3 ypg); 27th passing offense (277.7 ypg); 20th total offense (476 ypg); 19th scoring offense (37.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Marcel Yates (first season)
2013 defensive rankings: 64th rushing defense (164.2 ypg); 88th passing defense (249.2 ypg);  75th total defense (413.4 ypg); 50th scoring defense (24.8 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: eight
Location: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Albertsons Stadium (36,387; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2012

THE GOOD
The Broncos’ skill positions are talented and athletic. Quarterback Grant Hedrick returns at the team’s starting quarterback. Hedrick played in all 13 games last year and threw 16 touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Hedrick is rejoined in the backfield by running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi finished second in the Mountain West Conference last year with 1,425 rushing yards. And the team’s top two receivers from last season, Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes, are also back. Miller finished last year strong with 540 receiving yards in the final four games, including a 206-yard effort against the Oregon State Beavers in the Hawai’i Bowl. The Broncos had to reshuffle their offensive line in the off season, but if they can keep Hendrick upright the Broncos will be able to score plenty of points.

THE BAD
During Chris Petersen’s eight-year tenure as head coach, last season’s defense was by far the worst unit statistically. On top of that, the unit lost a dynamic pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence to the NFL. And key pieces such as Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe, Kharyee Marshall and Tyler Gray left after exhausting their eligibility. Last year’s group had to grow after returning four starters from the 2012 campaign. The silver lining to last year’s defensive struggles is this year’s unit is far more experienced entering the season. New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates has eight returning starters. Yates returns to Boise State after a two-year stint as Texas A&M’s co-defensive coordinator. The Aggies finished 109th in total defense last season.

THE UNKNOWN
Boise State has a new football coach for the first time since 2006. Now that Petersen finally accepted one of the rumored jobs he was so often linked to — in this case, the Unversity of Washington — the school turned toward one of its prodigal sons, Bryan Harsin. Harsin, a graduate of Boise State, served on the Broncos’ staff from 2001-10 before leaving to become the offensive coordinator at the University Texas. Harsin used Texas as a stepping stone to get his first head coaching gig at Arkansas State. Harsin spent one year leading the Red Wolves, and the team finished 7-5. Harsin is a young coach that hasn’t had much time to establish himself or an identity, and Boise State took a chance in hiring him. If Harsin blossoms like Petersen did when given the opportunity, the Broncos will continue to be successful. Otherwise, a step back will take the program out of the national spotlight.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Ole Miss, Aug. 28
The Broncos built their reputation over the past decade by stepping up big in spotlight games. For most teams, the first game of the season usually isn’t considered a “must win” contest. Most teams aren’t in the Broncos’ situation. For the Broncos to return to national prominence, they’ll need to prove they can beat a talented SEC squad during a national televised game to start the season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: running back Jay Ajayi
It’s been five years since a running back won the Heisman Trophy, and only two workhorses have been handed the hardware since the turn of the century. In a sport that is consistently more about spreading defenses and throwing the football, elite running backs tend to get overlooked. Ajayi, however, is a dark horse candidate to win the award due to a nose for the end zone and punishing running style. The 216-pound back is the nation’s fifth-leading returning rusher with 1,425 yards in 2013. Ajayi is also tied for first among returning backs with 18 rushing touchdowns. Boise State has multiple games slotted in prime time. If Ajayi shines in the spotlight and the Broncos make another run toward a major bowl appearance, Ajayi could work his way into legitimate Heisman contention.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Georgia, Oregon to open 2022 season in Atlanta

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The 2018 season will open with a rare intersectional matchup were a Pacific Northwest team travels across the country to meet an SEC team in its backyard. And now the 2022 season will as well.

With No. 6 Washington and No. 9 Auburn just 11 days away from their meeting in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in Atlanta, Oregon and Georgia are officially set to do the same four years from now.

“Both coaches wanted to do it, and we got with the athletic directors and were able to put a deal together,” Peach Bowl, Inc., CEO Gary Stokan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are ecstatic about having Georgia and Oregon.”

The Ducks and Dogs have met once previously, a 27-16 Georgia win on Sept. 10, 1977 in Athens.

The 2022 game, set for Sept. 3, will be Georgia’s fourth appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at its home away from home. The Bulldogs lost to Boise State to open the 2011 season, beat North Carolina in 2016 — Kirby Smart‘s first game as head coach — and will face Virginia to open 2020.

It will be Oregon’s first Chick-fil-A Kickoff appearance, though the Ducks did open 2011 with a loss to LSU in the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium. Oregon will return to Dallas to open next season against Auburn.

“It’s a great honor for our program to open the 2022 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game and to play a great program, like Georgia,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said in a statement. “As we continue to grow this program we want to challenge ourselves against the best competition. I’m also extremely excited for our fans to make the trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium and put their passion for the Ducks on full display.”

Oregon’s 2022 non-conference slate is now complete; the Ducks will host Eastern Washington and BYU in the weeks immediately following their Georgia opener. Georgia still has one opening for 2022. In addition to Oregon, the Bulldogs host Kent State on Sept. 24 and Georgia Tech on Nov. 26.

Future Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game schedule:

2018: Auburn vs. Washington
2019: Alabama vs. Duke
2020: Florida State vs. West Virginia (Saturday), Georgia vs. Virginia (Monday)
2021: Alabama vs. Miami, Louisville vs. Ole Miss
2022: Georgia vs. Oregon

 

JUCO transfer Will Jackson abruptly leaves Nebraska after two months

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That certainly didn’t last long.  At all.

In June of this year, Will Jackson joined the Nebraska football program as a junior college transfer.  Less than two months later, an NU official has confirmed that the defensive back has departed Scott Frost‘s team.

Jackson’s standing on the Cornhuskers’ depth chart is believed to be behind the decision to leave.

“We appreciate the competition Will helped incorporate into the room and we wish him the best,” a very brief statement from the team read.

The move, the Lincoln Journal Star noted, came just a day after secondary coach Travis Fisher said Jackson had been slower than some of the other defensive backs to learn the playbook.

The 6-3, 200-pound Jackson was originally a two-star 2015 signee at Kentucky, but was dismissed by the Wildcats in February of 2016 for unspecified violations of team rules.  The cornerback originally moved on the Iowa Western before abruptly leaving that team for Mesa (Ariz.) Community College.

Jackson is the 11th player to leave Frost’s program this offseason.  The other 10 are offensive lineman Bryan Brokop, wide receiver Zack Darlington (HERE) offensive lineman Michael Decker (HERE), tight end David Engelhaupt (HERE), linebacker Willie Hampton (HERE), fullback Ben Miles (HERE), quarterback Patrick O’Brien (HERE), tight end Matt Snyder (HERE) inside linebacker Andrew Ward (HERE) and wide receiver Keyan Williams (HERE).  Eight of those 10 transferred, while one of the remaining two, Decker, retired from football and the other, Darlington, joined the Army.

Arrest on sexual assault charges triggered LSU starting right guard Ed Ingram’s suspension

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After a relatively quiet summer, LSU has seen more than its fair share of negative headlines of late.

The latest involves Ed Ingram, the starting right guard who was indefinitely suspended at the start of camp earlier this month.  While the official reason for the suspension was the standard unspecified violations of team rules, the Baton Rouge Advocate is reporting that Ingram was arrested in Texas the day before the start of camp on two counts of aggravated sexual assault.

The alleged victim of the assaults was a minor, the DeSoto (Tex.) Police Department confirmed to the Advocate.  From the newspaper’s report:

The sheriff’s department arrested Ingram, 19, a native of DeSoto, Texas, on a warrant made by the DeSoto Police Department. The police department told The Advocate it had received a report of the incident from Child Protective Services on Aug. 22, 2017.

CPS said Tuesday it could not confirm the existence of the case because of state confidentiality laws.

The alleged assaults occurred prior to Ingram’s arrival at LSU as a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class.  As part of the $40,000 bond posted for him, Ingram is permitted to leave the state of Texas but is barred from having any contact with the alleged victim as well as any other minor child.

Ingram started 12 games at right guard as a true freshman last season.  The suspension Ingram is currently serving is expected to extend on into the regular season.

Including Ingram, three Tiger football players have been arrested this month — linebacker Tyler Taylor on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime, party to a crime and theft by receiving stolen property, wide receiver Drake Davis for second-degree battery.

Michigan’s Deron Irving-Bey transfers to Central Michigan

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Central Michigan at Boston College
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The rumors of a Big Ten addition to a MAC team has officially come to fruition.

Reports began to surface a day or two ago that Deron Irving-Bey would be transferring into the Central Michigan football program.  Monday night, CMU head coach John Bonamego confirmed that defensive lineman has indeed been added to his football roster.

Because of NCAA transfer rules, Irving-Bey will have to sit out the 2018 season.  Beginning with the 2019 season, he’ll have three years of eligibility at his disposal.

A four-star member of the Wolverines’ 2017 recruiting class, Irving-Bay was rated as the No. 9 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Michigan. Only one other end was rated higher than Irving-Bay in U-M’s class that year.

The Flint product took a redshirt his true freshman season.