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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.

Ex-Auburn, Miami RB Asa Martin lands at Memphis

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After going from AU to the ACC, tailback Asa Martin is now ticketed for the AAC.

Got that?

Per 247Sports, Martin has apparently enrolled at Memphis for the 2019 season. Per transfer rules he’s sitting out the year either way unless there’s some sort of NCAA waiver involved but it’s still the sophomore’s third school in nine months.

Martin was originally a four-star recruit in the class of 2018 and saw action in five games for the SEC Tigers as a true freshman, rushing for 57 yards all told while catching two passes for 36 yards. He entered the transfer portal in late December though, just after Auburn’s season had concluded.

Eventually Martin found a home at Miami and enrolled in time for spring practice. Perhaps he was not thrilled at the situation because come mid-June the tailback was back in the transfer portal looking for a new program to play with.

We’ll see if this latest move to Memphis sticks because we’ve certainly seen that Martin is no stranger to moving around.

Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens gets the nod as Mississippi State’s starting QB

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Tommy Stevens’ reunion with Joe Moorhead has proven to be a fruitful one.

The Penn State transfer was named the starting quarterback on Thursday by the Mississippi State head coach, ending a camp battle with Keytaon Thompson and others in the bid to replace Nick Fitzgerald under center for the Bulldogs.

Stevens made his way to Starkville rather surprisingly this offseason after spring practice for the Nittany Lions wrapped up. While he was expected to be the heir apparent to Trace McSorley in State College for the 2019 campaign, it seems that a competitive battle with fellow Penn State QB Sean Clifford pushed him to enter the NCAA transfer portal instead.

While some may have questioned the move initially given that Thompson has starting experience at MSU and in Moorhead’s system, things apparently worked out in the end as Stevens takes over for Fitzgerald instead.

A noted dual-threat with the ball in his hands at PSU, Stevens rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns last year while also passing for 110 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Mississippi State opens the season against Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans on Aug. 31 before their home opener against Southern Miss on Sept. 7.

Arkansas inks 2-for-1 series with old rival Tulsa, Golden Hurricane also add LaTech to non-conference slate

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The non-conference scheduling wheel in college continues to roll.

It has been a particularly busy month for Arkansas in terms of lining up future opponents. Hot on the heels of confirming another home-and-home series with Oklahoma State deep into the future, the Razorbacks announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a 2-for-1 series with old, old rival Tulsa over the next decade.

The Razorbacks will host the Golden Hurricane in Fayetteville on Nov. 21, 2026 and Sept. 1, 2029. The return trip to Tulsa is set for Sept. 4, 2027.

The regional rivals were old foes back in the day and have met 73 times over the years. Arkansas won 23-0 last season in their most recent meeting and will make their first trip to Northwest Oklahoma since 1952 when that 2027 date rolls around.

The Golden Hurricane also had some additional scheduling news from earlier in the week when they announced a home-and-home with ex-CUSA foe Louisiana Tech. The old conference rivals will meet in Ruston on Sept. 21, 2024 and then play a return game the following year on Sept. 27, 2025 at Tulsa’s H.A. Chapman Stadium.

Virginia Tech confirms Ryan Willis will start vs. Boston College

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Justin Fuente is sticking with what works.

On Thursday, the Virginia Tech head coach confirmed to reporters at a press conference that senior Ryan Willis has kept the starting job and will be QB1 for the team when they open against Boston College in Week 1.

Willis took over early last season when previous starter Josh Jackson suffered a broken leg against Old Dominion. The latter wound up transferring to Maryland while Willis, a transfer himself from Kansas, threw for 2,716 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2018. Though he did keep the Hokies’ bowl streak alive — barely — thanks to a win over rival Virginia in the final week of the regular season, Willis was just 4-6 as a starter overall.

Fuente and company will certainly hope for better play out of the position with another year in the system and can get off to a good start in 2019 with three straight home games against ODU, Furman and Duke following their trip to Chestnut Hill on Aug. 31.