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CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 3

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 3 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 3 STORYLINES

  • When ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow sets up camp in Ames for a game that decides the winner of the aptly-named Cy-Hawk Trophy, you know you’re in for, at least on paper, a light weekend of football schedule-wise. Thanks to Syracuse tripping over itself in Week 2 and Iowa State nearly getting knocked off by an FCS opponent in the opener, it’s Blutarsky’s GPA when it comes to Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchups in Week 3.  The last time there were no ranked teams facing each other?  Oct. 14, 2017 — and No. 2 Clemson was knocked off by unranked Syracuse on the road that weekend.  This weekend, No. 1 Clemson faces… unranked Syracuse… on the road.
  • It’s only Week 3, but Jeremy Pruitt and Chip Kelly are in more dire need of a win than any white man in history.  Pruitt has Tennessee off to its worst start to a season since 1988; under Kelly, UCLA has started a season 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since World War II.  Fortunately for UT, FCS Chattanooga is on tap and the Viols are 28-point favorites (then again, they were 26-point favorites over Georgia State and we all know how that turned out).  Unfortunately for UCLA — but fortunately for those looking to score free tickets — No. 5 Oklahoma is up next. If/when the Bruins suffer what seems like an inevitable loss, it will mark the first time since 1920-21 that they have gone 0-3 in back-to-back seasons.
  • In the first two games of the 2019 season, Florida State’s defense has allowed a combined 54 second-half points in a 1-1 start that includes the season-opening collapse against Boise State.  Enter Jim Leavitt, who Willie Taggart added this week in a defensive analyst role.  Leavitt served as Taggart’s defensive coordinator during the latter’s one-and-done season as Oregon’s head coach.  During his two seasons in Eugene, the Ducks finished tied for 63rd nationally in scoring defense in 2018 (27 points per game) and 77th in 2017 (28.3 ppg); the year prior to Leavitt’s arrival, they were 126th (out of 128 FBS teams at the time) at 41.4 ppg.  FSU travels to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 25 Virginia.
  • With a Week 2 win over Western Michigan, Mark Dantonio tied Duffy Daugherty‘s Michigan State record for most career wins at 109.  If, unlike last year, No. 18 MSU can handle Arizona State this weekend, Dantonio, in the midst of his 13th season with the Spartans, will surpass the College Football Hall of Famer and stand alone in school lore with 110 wins.
  • No. 21 Maryland will take on Temple this weekend.  Maryland is leading the nation in scoring at 71 points per game (Penn State is next at 62); Temple is tied for 18th in the country in scoring defense at 12 ppg.
  • So, as you see, these notes signal very loudly that Week 3 is light in the britches and short in the wallet, as my grandfather used to say to describe one of his not-so-favorite sons-in-law.  Which, of course, means that utter and absolute chaos will very likely ensue…

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 6 Ohio State (-16½) at Indiana — Each of the past three seasons, a ranked OSU team lost to an unranked Big Ten opponent on the road in a game in which they were favored.  Are the Hoosiers the Buckeyes’ trap-game Waterloo this season?
  • No. 19 Iowa (-2) at Iowa State — As referenced earlier, this would’ve been a Top 25 matchup if then-No. 21 Iowa State hadn’t barely escaped Northern Iowa in triple overtime and dropped out of the rankings as a result.  The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the rivalry; the Cyclones last home win in the series came in 2011.
  • No. 20 Washington State (-9) vs. Houston — This Friday-night, neutral-site affair is mentor vs. protégé as Wazzu’s Mike Leach had Houston’s Dana Holgorsen on his Texas Tech coaching staff from 2000-09.  Not only will this be the first time Leach and Holgorsen have been on opposing sidelines as head coaches, it’ll also be the first time since 1988 — and just the fourth time ever — the two schools have squared off in football.
  • No. 2 Alabama (-25½) at South Carolina — Alabama will be playing its first true road game of the 2019 season.  The last time these two teams met at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2010. Unless I’m mistaken, though, neither Stephen Garcia nor Marcus Lattimore nor Alshon Jeffery will be suiting up this weekend.
  • Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7½) — UCF will have two regular-season chances to prove its worth to national pundits against Power Five foes — this one at home, in Week 4 vs. Pitt.  Stanford is coming off a 25-point drubbing at the hands of USC that dropped them out of the Top 25, while UCF has beaten FAMU and FAU by a combined score of 110-14.
  • No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky — If there’s a revenge game in Week 3 and despite the public pronouncements, it’s this one.  Week 2 last year, Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, ending the Wildcats’ streak of 31 straight losses to the Gators.  That game was in Gainesville; this one is in Lexington.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 3

  • BEST: No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse (+28).  Clemson is, obviously, the better team, but on this weekend they won’t be four touchdowns better than Syracuse at home — the Orange’s spitting the bed against Maryland in Week 2 notwithstanding.
  • WORST: No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (+22½). Take the Bruins and the points at your own peril as the Sooners are primed to deal out a historic beatdown on Chip Kelly‘s woebegone squad.
  • COVER SPECIAL: Hawaii (+21) at No. 23 Washington.  Hawaii has beaten two Pac-12 opponents (Arizona, Oregon State) to start the 2019 season. Run, don’t walk, to your cyber betting window and lay that money on the Rainbow Warriors to cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Three touchdowns and 259 yards passing in a half’s worth of Week 2 work vs. an FCS foe would’ve been more than enough to maintain the top slot; working out like a boss immediately after the win and prior to the postgame press conference solidified it.
  2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 8) — Nine touchdown passes in two games this season for Burrow, giving him 25 in 15 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
  3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — In just over a half of play vs. New Mexico State, the junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.  He also scored another on the ground.
  4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 5) — In his first two career starts, the Georgia transfer has been responsible for nine total touchdowns (six passing, three rushing).
  5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 4) — Taylor has three receiving touchdowns in two games after never catching one his first two seasons.  Oh, and he also has five touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Even in a loss to Burrow’s Tigers, Ehlinger shined statistically as he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
  7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The sophomore has been fair to middlin’ the first two games, throwing more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two).
  8. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 9) — Five touchdowns, 310 yards passing in a blowout win over Nevada in Week 2.
  9. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (No. 3) — After 205 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, he put up 53 and zero in Week 2.
  10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (No. 10) — As the token non-QB/RB, Jeudy is making a case to be taken out of the No. 10 slot as this past weekend he tied a school single-game record with three receiving touchdowns. The junior’s statline this season is 18-240-4.

(DROPPED OUT: None)

WEEK 3 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Given the slate of lackluster matchups (editor’s note: that’s being way too kind), I think we’re in for some chaos this weekend. I’ll go with four ranked teams getting upset on Saturday, with at least two getting upended at home.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-3. See the thing people don’t understand about Chattanooga is… okay, no. Mack Brown springs his third straight upset, moving the Mack Attack to 3-0. UNC is a three-point underdog for Friday’s non-conference game at Wake Forest; I would take them as three-point favorites. Sam Howell continues making the plays that need to be made and one of the best stories of this young season continues.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): Maryland has been scoring plenty of points to start the season and takes their high-flying, rejuvenated offense on the road this week. They are due for a letdown, and Temple is the team to give them their first tough battle of the year. The Owls get defensive at home in The Linc and the Terrapins go home with their first loss of the season, dropping them out of the top 25 as quickly as they entered. The AAC has a solid week as UCF sends Stanford home with a loss too.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: Not only will No. 17 UCF win and cover, but the Group of Five school will hand Stanford its worst loss since Washington waxed them 44-6 in September of 2016.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld take an in-depth look at matchups in games such as Clemson-Syracuse and Oklahoma USC.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

Nebraska, Illinois to open 2021 season in Ireland

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Nebraska and Illinois will open their 2021 seasons in Dublin, Ireland, the programs jointly announced Monday.

“The University of Illinois, our football program, our alumni and fans, and the entire Fighting Illini family are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the Emerald Isle,” Illini AD Josh Whitman said. “When first approached about this game almost two years ago, we had immediate interest. This game will provide an incredible educational opportunity for our football student-athletes who, because of their schedule, generally do not receive the same international experiences as many of our other student-athletes. For our fans, I hope they will journey with us across the Atlantic for a wonderful trip and a major football game, all set against the beauty of Ireland.”

The game will take place Aug. 28, 2021 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, the same site that hosted Notre Dame vs. Navy in 2012 and will host the Irish and Midshipmen again in 2020. College GameDay will broadcast from the Notre Dame-Navy game in 2020. Penn State and UCF played in Ireland in 2014, and Georgia Tech and Boston College did the same in 2016.

“It is a privilege to be here at the University of Illinois for the announcement of the teams for the 2021 Aer Lingus College Football Classic,” Dublin mayor Paul McAuliffe said. “I welcome the news that both the University of Illinois and University of Nebraska teams and fans will travel to Dublin in 2021 and I look forward to seeing the colour and energy that they will bring to the city of Dublin. Dublin and Ireland are ready to welcome you! This fixture is an important date in our calendar and showcases Dublin as a destination for hosting major international sporting events.”

The game was originally scheduled to be played Nov. 13, 2021 in Champaign, and likely will not be the last in Ireland, as the nation works to make Dublin the European capital of American college football.

Clemson moving forward with $70 million renovation for Death Valley

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Clemson’s building spree around campus for the football program isn’t slowing down anytime soon thanks to the Tigers winning two of the last three national titles.

The school’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved a massive $68.7 million renovation of Frank Howard Field at Clemson Memorial Stadium — better known as Death Valley — and a further $7 million devoted to expanding the already impressive football operations building.

“We haven’t had a major redo of the west end since 2006 so it’s time to pay some attention to that side [after] we redid the suites on the north side and created the south club on the south side,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told WNCT.

The stadium renovations are pretty typical of schools nowadays as it will add premium seating (i.e. suites), a new video board and upgraded LED lighting that peers like Georgia and Alabama have used to rave reviews in recent years.

New locker rooms at the stadium are also set to be the first thing accomplished in the project, which officials hope will be completely wrapped up prior to the 2021 season.

Given everything the school is doing for the program lately, ‘If you win it, they will build it’ might just be the unofficial motto at Clemson nowadays. Sure seems more accurate in 2019 than ‘BYOG.’

Thanks to alcohol sales, UNC made over $1 million from concessions in just three home games

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The state of North Carolina opening up beer and alcohol sales at sporting events has had a big impact on the flagship university’s bottom line so far this year.

According to WTVD ABC 11, UNC sold over 43,000 “units” of alcohol (beer/wine/hard seltzers) in the Tar Heels’ first three home games of the year. The end result to all those purchases? The team took in over $1 million in concessions in games against Miami, Appalachian State and Clemson, with all three contests selling more alcohol than soda (and nearly as much booze as water).

The school confirmed a number of figures, including roughly $325,000 in concession sales for the home opener against the Hurricanes and $393,000 against the in-state rival Mountaineers. The defending national champions’ visit on Sept. 28 was the high point however, with $416,000 worth of goods sold and some 15,737 units of alcohol bought.

WRAL reports that all three games exceeded the previous record amount UNC took in from concessions, set back in November 2016 against local rival N.C. State.

Kenan Stadium will host three more home games in 2019 against Duke, Virginia and FCS Mercer. Safe to say all three can already get counted as wins for the bottom line regardless of the result on the field for Mack Brown’s team.

Baylor LB Clay Johnston to miss rest of the season with knee injury

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If No. 18 Baylor is going to continue their remarkable pursuit of a Big 12 title in 2019, they’re going to have to do it without their best defensive player.

A school official confirmed to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday that senior linebacker Clay Johnston will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in the Bears’ double overtime victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.

The news is a huge blow to Matt Rhule’s defense, which was tops in the Big 12 in a number of statistical categories and the No. 17 scoring defense nationally. Johnston was all over the field against the Red Raiders, racking up 10 tackles (1.5 TFL) and an interception to help edge their conference rivals and remain undefeated.

For the season, which will sadly be Johnston’s last as a senior, he had 58 tackles, 2.5 sacks and that lone pick from Saturday. Freshman Matt Jones is listed as the next man up on the depth chart though given his youth and inexperience, it’s possible the Bears coaching staff will shift over a more veteran option to man the middle of the defense going forward.

Baylor doesn’t ease into the second half of the schedule either as they’ll hit the road to face a dangerous Oklahoma State offense in their first game without Johnston on Saturday.