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Clemson starting Kelly Bryant; FSU goes with Deondre Francois

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Perhaps the two most notable quarterback decisions to be made in the ACC have now been made. At Clemson, Kelly Bryant will be the starting quarterback when the defending ACC champions begin the new season this weekend at home against Furman. At Florida State, Deondre Francois will make his return as the starting quarterback for the Seminoles on Sunday night in Tallahassee against Virginia Tech in an ACC clash.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had been keeping his distance from naming a starter for the upcoming season all summer. Bryant was battling to keep the starting job from freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence. While the future of Clemson football may look incredibly bright with Lawrence in the fold, relying on experience with Bryant may have been one of the deciding factors. Clemson’s 2017 season ended with a thud against eventual national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff, but Clemson had accumulated a 12-1 record with Bryant playing all 14 games for the Tigers last season. The only loss on the year prior to meeting Alabama was on the road at Syracuse, when Bryant was knocked out of the game with an injury.

Bryant completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Obviously, he had big shoes to fill in following Deshaun Watson as the starting quarterback, but the pressure to keep Clemson in the title hunt never really seemed to get to him.

Francois never really got a chance to get his 2017 started after being knocked out of Florida State’s season opener against Alabama last fall. Francois, a sophomore in 2017, completed 19 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and a touchdown against Alabama before having his season prematurely ended with a knee injury. Francois had come off an impressive freshman season in 2016, in which he passed for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions and rushed for five additional touchdowns.

Francois has had an eventful offseason, of course. In April, Francois was suspected of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The quarterback later agreed to enroll in a pre-arrest diversion program as a result. In January, Francois was cleared in a domestic violence investigation involving his girlfriend due to conflicting statements and a lack of independent witnesses led to an inability to press charges. With no legal liabilities standing in the way and with Francois appearing to be the most ideal fit to run the offensive style Willie Taggart wants to bring to Tallahassee, it was likely just a matter of how healthy Francois was before a starter was named.

With Clemson and Florida State now settled on starting quarterbacks, the ACC Atlantic Division race is now set to begin, with the Tigers likely still the team to beat and Florida State hoping to bounce back from a rough 2017 season to make some noise in the ACC championship hunt.

Fourth & fifth Auburn players leave Tigers since 2018 season started

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In what’s quickly becoming a trend, Auburn has lost yet another couple of players to in-season moves.

Citing an unnamed source, Rivals.com was the first to report that Nate Craig-Myers is leaving the Tigers and will transfer out of Gus Malzahn’s football program. No specific reason for the abrupt departure of the wide receiver was given.

Despite starting all three games for the Tigers this season, Craig-Meyers had just two receptions for 39 yards. He’ll apparently finish the AU portion of his playing career with 394 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns on his 22 catches.

Craig-Meyers was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 receiver in the country; the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 45 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated signee on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers that recruiting cycle.

Additionally, 247Sports.com reported that Craig-Meyers’ half-brother, Jayvaughn Myers, did not attend Thursday’s practice and is leaving the team as well. The defensive back was a 2016 signee who played sparingly during his two-plus seasons on The Plains.

Head coach Gus Malzahn subsequently confirmed both of the departures.

Including Craig-Meyers and Meyers, a total of five Tigers have left the program since the start of the 2018 season. Just this week, tight end Jalen Harris took to Twitter to announce his decision to transfer. Additionally, cornerback John Broussard Jr. and punter Aidan Marshall parted ways with the team earlier this month as well.

Most, if not all of those players are taking advantage of a new NCAA rule implemented this offseason that allows them to play in up to four games in a season and still be able to take a redshirt and preserve a year of eligibility.

Miami to be without its leading tackler for FIU game

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As it closes out the non-conference portion of its 2018 schedule, Miami will (again, in one case) be at less than 100 percent at a couple of key positions.

Mark Richt confirmed Thursday that Jaquan Johnson will be sidelined for The U’s Week 4 matchup with Florida International. The safety suffered a hamstring injury in the Week 3 road win over Toledo and did not practice at all this week.

Johnson has started 17 straight games for the Hurricanes — three this season, all 13 in 2017 and the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia. In 2018, the fourth-year senior leads the ‘Canes in tackles with 22. He also has one of UM’s two blocked kicks on the season.

In addition to Johnson, wide receiver Ahmmon Richards will miss his third straight game because of a knee injury suffered in the season-opening loss to LSU. Like his teammate, Richards did not practice at all this week.

The knee issue continues a string of injuries that Richards has had to battle through the past two seasons.

Richards missed the first two games in 2017 because of a hamstring issue, then suffered a season-ending meniscus injury in late November. At the time of that latter injury, Richards was third on the Hurricanes in receptions (24) receiving yards (439) and receiving touchdowns (three). The year before as a true freshman, he led the team with 934 receiving yards.

Prior to being injured in the opener this season, Richards had one catch for nine yards.

Miami will open ACC play next Thursday against North Carolina, with that short week likely playing at least a small role in erring on the side of caution with the players, Johnson in particular.

Scott Frost: This could get worse before it gets better

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Nebraska’s hiring of Scott Frost to take over as the head coach of the Cornhuskers came with a red wave of high optimism, but this was always going to be a bit of a rebuilding process in Lincoln. After an 0-2 start to the season, Frost is already bracing Nebraska fans about what could come next for the Huskers, because it may not be all that happy.

This could get worse before it gets better,” Frost said this week, as quoted in a Sports Illustrated story by Andy Staples. Frost is fair with his assessment.

This week, Nebraska opens Big Ten play with a road game in Ann Arbor against Michigan. The Wolverines are hoping the offense is on track after a tough season opener and playing at home could be a nice advantage against a Nebraska team with a young quarterback and a team still trying to come together under Frost. After that, Nebraska will get a home game against Purdue before back-to-back road games at Wisconsin and Northwestern.

Nebraska also has games later this season at Ohio State, home against Michigan State, and at Iowa to close out the season. The schedule was not a kind one to Nebraska this particular season, but the Huskers should improve over time under Frost.

Making a bowl game in Frost’s first season was always going to be a nice accomplishment if Nebraska could pull it off this season. After a tough 0-2 start with home losses to Colorado and Troy, Nebraska’s bowl hopes already look razor thin, but this is still a team that should continue to grow as the year moves along.

Rutgers completes 2021 schedule with addition of FCS school

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The final piece of the scheduling puzzle for Rutgers has been found for the 2021 season. Rutgers announced the addition of a home game against Delaware, an FCS program, to the 2021 schedule to give the Scarlet Knights a full schedule.

Rutgers will host Delaware on September 18, 2021. Other non-conference games lined up for Rutgers includes a season opener against Temple at home and a road trip to Syracuse for a pair of games against former Big East foes.

Rutgers has not faced the Blue Hens of Delaware since 1973. Rutgers leads the all-time series, 15-13-3. Delaware was also recently added to the future schedule of Penn State, with road trips to Penn State slated for 2023 and 2027.

In a fun little uniform twist, Rutgers will play teams with the signature winged helmet with shades of blue and yellow in back-to-back weeks. A week after hosting Delaware, Rutgers is scheduled to play a Big Ten contest at Michigan. Delaware and Michigan wear similar uniforms highlighted by a similar winged helmet design.