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Top five college football teams ready to go bust in 2019

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It may seem like Clemson’s thrashing of Alabama in the national title game was only a few months ago but as fresh in our minds as that contest was, it was last season. Hard as it is to believe but the 2019 campaign is almost here and it’s time to turn our attention from what happened last year to what could happen between the lines this fall.

As part of CFTalk’s 2019 College Football Preview, we’re exploring every nook and cranny of the sport before kickoff in Week 0. After exploring a few candidates to breakout and turn in a surprising run this upcoming season, we’re headed in the opposite direction with a number of candidates who could go belly up despite high expectations.

Without further ado, here are five candidates to go bust in 2019 and see some serious regression from a year ago:

UCF

The Knights want to be taken seriously like a Power Five program so we’ll give them that treatment here while discussing why they will come back to earth in 2019. There’s no doubt the program is still full of talent compared to their AAC peers, the conference has already started to catch up to the Knights on the field and that should continue this season. Their schedule is tougher with non-conference games against Stanford and at Pitt, plus Houston and at Cincinnati among others in league play. There’s some big question marks in the front seven and, chiefly, at quarterback. While there’s plenty of skill position on hand, starter Brandon Wimbush is still to be determined as a passer after his stint at Notre Dame and there’s virtually zero depth behind him until Darriel Mack Jr. returns. This will still be a pretty good team but it’s far from the great one many UCF fans have come to expect.

Washington State

Gardner Minshew was a revelation for the Cougars during their 11 win, top 10 campaign last season. He’s gone and while you can still pencil in whatever quarterback Mike Leach has being somebody who puts up stats, there’s little doubt Wazzu will miss Minshew’s leadership and, uh, moxieMax Borghi is one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secrets but the team will also need to replace fellow tailback James Williams plus fill the void left behind by left tackle Andre Dillard on offense.The defense will be solid but extending winning streaks against Oregon and Stanford — to say nothing of ending the losing streak to rival Washington — will be a tough ask given how much more competitive the division and conference should be in 2019.

Northwestern

There’s a lot of hope that with former five-star/ex-Clemson QB Hunter Johnson under center, the offense has nowhere to go but up. Even if that’s the case in 2019 for the Wildcats, they’ll have to deal with a much improved Big Ten West making every game a fight during conference play and a tough non-conference trip to Stanford to open the year. Ohio State and Michigan State aren’t exactly easy cross over opponents either and the team has to go to Nebraska and Wisconsin this season. Even if the defense remains pretty good, Pat Fitzgerald’s group will have a tough time repeating their trip to Indianapolis.

Florida

The Gators will start the year in the top 10 of most polls but it has been a truly awful offseason for Dan Mullen the past few months. Arrests, transfers, sexual assault allegations… you name it, Florida probably has a name to go with it. To make matters worse, the team is perilously thin at two really key positions on either side of the ball, offensive line and in the secondary. Mullen and company did a terrific job in Year 1 but things figure to slide back a bit in Year 2.

Kentucky

Mark Stoops is bullish on his team and while there’s no doubt the program is on solid ground right now, it’s really hard to see anything but regression from their 10 win campaign a year ago after the departures of their best offensive and defensive players. And not just the best players from last season’s team, but some of the best in school history in LB Josh Allen and RB Benny Snell Jr. Add in a more competitive SEC East, a few pesky MAC teams in the non-conference slate and a return to their 2017 level shouldn’t be too surprising in Lexington.

Other Group of Five teams ready to bust: Buffalo, Temple, Fresno State, Troy, UAB

Top seven remains the same in latest CFP rankings

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The third edition of the 2019 College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, and the top seven teams remained the same from last week’s rankings. This means, as expected, Alabama remained No. 5 following the devastating loss of Tua Tagovailoa.

Minnesota remained in striking distance following their loss to Iowa (now at No. 17) at No. 10, with No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 2 Ohio State (potentially) still on their schedule. Oklahoma and Penn State moved one spot apiece, keeping the Top 10 stagnant.

Auburn fell three spots to No. 15, one spot behind No. 14 Baylor, who will spend the week wondering how high they would’ve climbed if the rankings were taken at halftime on Saturday night.

Memphis swapped spots with Cincinnati as the highest-rated Group of 5 team at No. 18; the Tigers and Bearcats SMU rejoined the rankings after falling out last week. They were joined by Iowa State at No. 22, who replaced then-No. 19 Texas, and USC at No. 23.

The full rankings:

1. LSU
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Georgia
5. Alabama
6. Oregon
7. Utah
8. Penn State
9. Oklahoma
10. Minnesota
11. Florida
12. Wisconsin
13. Michigan
14. Baylor
15. Auburn
16. Notre Dame
17. Iowa
18. Memphis
19. Cincinnati
20. Boise State
21. Oklahoma State
22. Iowa State
23. USC
24. Appalachian State
25. SMU

Georgia photographer hospitalized by Brian Herrian shares final photo before collision

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It’ll be a fun story to share for years to come, and thank God for that. Because at the time it looked so much worse.

Late in the first half of No. 4 Georgia’s 21-14 win over No. 12 Auburn, Georgia running back Brian Herrien ran into a photographer on the sideline. The photographer’s identity was not immediately known, but the game stopped for several minutes as she laid motionless on the Jordan-Hare Stadium sideline before she was eventually carted out of the stadium.

She was later identified as Chamberlain Smith, an intern in the UGA sports information department. Smith was taken to the East Alabama Medical Center in nearby Opelika, where she was diagnosed with a concussion, an eye bruise and a cut above her right eye, presumably from when her camera forcefully collided wither her head.

“I haven’t had a chance to respond to everyone, but I just wanted to say thank you all so much for the overwhelming outpouring of support in the form of kind comments, messages & prayers!! .. last night was very scary, but I’m so glad to be walking away with nothing more than a concussion & some bruises,” Smith tweeted Sunday. “I will be home resting & recovering for the next several days, but I’m looking forward to being back on the sidelines soon!”

Smith is recovering in her Ringgold, Ga., home recovering, and on Tuesday she tweeted the photo she paid such a price for.

Herrien retweeted the image with a message of support.

Smith, thankfully, will make a full recovery, and now she’ll have a photo to hang on her wall and a heckuva thousand words to go with it.

Mark Dantonio to return in 2020, per Mark Dantonio

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From 2010-15, Michigan State was one of the very best programs in all of college football. Mark Dantonio‘s Spartans won 11 or more games five times in those six years, with Big Ten titles in 2010, ’13 and ’15. They finished in the AP Top 6 from 2013-15, and in ’13 and ’15 they knocked off undefeated teams in the Big Ten Championship — Ohio State in 2013, thereby knocking the Buckeyes out of the final BCS title game, and Iowa in 2015, knocking the Hawkeyes out of the College Football Playoff and lifting themselves in. The 2013 team finished 13-1, beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl and finished No. 3 in both polls, the program’s best season since 1966.

But it’s not 2013 anymore.

After going 65-16 (41-9 Big Ten) from 2010-15, Michigan State has slunk to 24-24 (15-19 Big Ten) from 2016 on, including a 4-6 mark to date this season. The Spartans went just 7-6 in 2018, causing Mark Dantonio to play musical chairs in his offensive staff room in hopes of fixing an offense that finished 126th nationally in scoring. The move hasn’t worked; this year’s team is 110th. Don’t ask him about it, though, because Dantonio doesn’t like talking about that move.

All of this has cumulated in speculation that, rather than hit the reset button heading into Year 14 in East Lansing, Dantonio would call it quits. That thought never reached Dantonio’s mind.

On Tuesday, the 63-year-old told local media he plans to remain the Spartans’ coach in 2020.

Asked bluntly if he plans to lead the team onto the field for their 2020 opener against Northwestern, Dantonio responded bluntly. “Yes,” he said.

“My intentions are to be the head football coach here. I’ve always said I live in the present. I’ve always said that. There’s certain things that you have control of, there’s certain things you don’t have control of. I can’t control anything, but my intentions are there, yeah, absolutely,” he said, via the Detroit Free Press.

“My father always talked to me complete the circle, complete the circle. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

With that question, the conversation now turns to whether his shuffling-of-the-deck-chairs offensive staff can survive another sunk season.

“I don’t make decisions on that until I weigh out everything to the best that I can,” Dantonio told MLive. “Because probably I have the most knowledge in terms of what’s going on within our football team as to who did what in terms of was that a player, structure, coaching, officiating, all the underlying things that go along with that.”

The tipping point of this conversation seems to be Michigan. After going 7-1 against the Wolverines from 2008-15, Dantonio is now 1-3 since, including the 44-10 whipping in Ann Arbor that led many to openly wonder if the game has passed Dantonio by.

At 4-6, Michigan State will need to sweep Rutgers and Maryland (combined Big Ten record: 1-13) to avoid missing a bowl game for just the second time of his 13-year tenure… and the second time in the past four seasons.

City of San Diego entering negotiations for San Diego State to purchase Qualcomm Stadium site

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You are reading the words of a person who cares not one lick about most of the creature comforts we have convinced ourselves are now necessary features of the modern football stadium. You’re there to watch a football game, after all. What more do you need besides a bleacher seat, maybe some popcorn, and a restroom close enough that will let you return to your seat before the second half kickoff? In my mind, the best place in the world to watch a football game is the Cotton Bowl — no, not AT&T Stadium during the Cotton Bowl Classic, the actual Cotton Bowl.

That said, I’m also not someone who believes that the past was always better, just because it was the past.

So, with all that said, Qualcomm Stadium is the worst football venue these eyes have ever seen. The upper decks might as well be in space, and if you’re sitting in the corner of the end zone, game action taking place just yards away is completely obstructed from view.

That’s why it’s a good thing that, according to the Times of San Diego, the San Diego city council on Monday authorized the city’s negotiators to proceed with discussing the sale of Qualcomm Stadium — sorry, SDCCU Stadium — to San Diego State.

The school originally offered to purchase the stadium site for $68.2 million back in 2017, but the city now has an offer for $86.2 million.

“The city currently spends about $11 million a year to maintain and operate the Mission Valley stadium site,” City Councilwoman Barbara Bry told the paper. “That’s over $30,000 a day in taxpayer money every day that we delay this transaction with San Diego State. We can’t afford not to move the project along in a timely manner.”

Negotiations are expected to begin in earnest in January, with closing happening by the end of the year. Once San Diego State takes possession of the site, the school would raze SDCCU Stadium and replace it with a 35,000-seat stadium that will serve as the anchor to what will be known as SDSU Mission Valley, home to a satellite campus, a park and commercial and residential space.

“The project is about the transformation of a community and the revitalization of public land,” San Diego State president Adela de la Torre said. “With your support, this can go down in history as one of the most meaningful San Diego milestones of the 21st century.”

The new SDSU stadium would be expected to open in time for the Aztecs’ 2022 stadium. Not one moment too soon.