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Who would win the Sweet 16 matchups in football? Duke becomes Cinderella

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OK, so now we know which power conferences reign supreme in the Sweet 16 this season, but what would happen if this field were to be decided on the college football gridiron? Oregon and Oklahoma suddenly become the top threats in the field, while basketball strong Villanova takes a back seat and Gonzaga fails to show up.

BEST SWEET 16 FOOTBALL MATCHUP

No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas A&M (West)

Truth be told, many of the matchups in the sweet 16 would lead to some ugly games and blowouts if they were to be played in football. Not so with this West regional matchup between former conference foes Oklahoma and Texas A&M. The two schools have some history as former Big 12 opponents, but more recently faced off in a Cotton Bowl when Johnny Manziel was running the Aggies offense and confusing Oklahoma’s defense. Texas A&M has fallen back to earth in recent years and would struggle defensively to slow down the Sooners, which makes Oklahoma among the strongest threats in the football version of the Sweet 16.

A strong alternative in this category might be Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin in the East Region. The Irish and Badgers may not be at the top of their respective games right now, but it would clearly make for one of the more attractive matchups on the schedule were it to be played in football.

WORST SWEET 16 FOOTBALL MATCHUP

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Maryland (South)

There is no way to dress this one up too nicely, not with the current state of each program. Kansas is at the bottom of the barrel not just in the Big 12, but FBS overall, and Maryland is not particularly strong either. This matchup gets the nod for worst Sweet 16 football matchup over Iowa State-Virginia because Kansas is that bad. The only reason Syracuse-Gonzaga didn’t get this mention is because Gonzaga doesn’t even play football, thus eliminating the game from consideration.

POTENTIONAL CINDERELLA

Duke

The Blue Devils would have a rough time stopping Oregon in the West Region, but considering how anemic Oregon’s defense was last year, it is possible Duke could put some points on the scoreboard as well. It is weird considering Duke a Cinderella in basketball, but David Cutcliffe’s program has come a long way toward earning respect among its ACC peers lately. Could they beat Oregon? Probably not, but hey, anything can happen in the tournament.

A win against Oregon would set Duke up against either Oklahoma or Texas A&M, another tough draw for the Blue Devils, but after that would be a likely matchup against Miami and, well, what could possibly go wrong there?

SWEET 16 FOOTBALL WINNERS

South: Maryland over Kansas, Miami over FCS Villanova

West: Oregon over Duke, Oklahoma over Texas A&M

East: North Carolina over Indiana, Notre Dame over Wisconsin

Midwest: Virginia over Iowa State, Syracuse over Gonzaga

Likely Final Four: Miami, Oregon, Notre Dame, Syracuse

Be sure to stay on top of all of the tournament madness with our friends over on College Basketball Talk.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.