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CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 6

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for as we head into Week 6 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 6 STORYLINES

  • For the first time in the 2019 campaign, we have three ranked-on-ranked matchups on the same day: No. 14 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan; No. 7 Auburn at No. 10 Florida; and No. 25 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State.  Another baker’s dozen Associated Press Top 25 teams (Top 26 this week, actually, as Michigan State and Texas A&M are tied for 25th) are in action as well, leaving seven ranked schools idle (No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Clemson, No. 17 Utah, No. 20 Arizona State, No. 22 Wake Forest, No. 23 Virginia, No. 25 Texas A&M).  Not surprisingly, ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow is parked in Gainesville for the Top 10 matchup between the Gators and Tigers this weekend.
  • There were 24 teams that entered Week 5 undefeated; with a half-dozen going down in defeat last weekend, the number has now been pared to 18.  The Big Ten (Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota) and SEC (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU) account for more than half of the unbeatens; conversely, the Pac-12 is the only Power Five conference without at least one as Cal suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of Arizona State Friday night.  Four unbeatens are on a bye this weekend (Alabama, Clemson, Wake Forest, Appalachian State), while, obviously, the number will be reduced by at least one as 5-0 Auburn and 5-0 Florida tangle in The Swamp.  Another four unbeatens face teams with one loss on the season: Ohio State (5-0) hosts Michigan State (4-1); Baylor (4-0) travels to Kansas State (3-1); Iowa (4-0) makes the trek to Michigan (3-1); and LSU (4-0) welcomes Utah State (3-1).  The remaining unbeatens will square off with teams at .500 or below.
  • Some will say, at this point in the season, it’s a two-person race in the chase for the 2019 Heisman Trophy between quarterbacks Jalen Hurts of No. 6 Oklahoma and Tua Tagovailoa of No. 1 Alabama. Most, though, would say it’s at least a four-person fight, adding another pair of quarterbacks — No. 5 LSU’s Joe Burrow, No. 4 Ohio State’s Justin Fields — into the mix, with a handful adding No. 8 Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor to make it a quintet.  Could there be some sort of separation in Week 6?  It’s doubtful, even as three of the prime contenders — Hurts (Kansas), Burrow (Utah State), Taylor (Kent State) — face inferior (vastly in a couple of cases) competition while another, Fields, will face the toughest defense he’s seen yet in No. 25 Michigan State.  Tagovailoa, meanwhile, is on a bye this weekend. It should be noted that, almost exactly a year ago at this time, Tagovailoa was a heavy Heisman favorite with 6/5 odds; the then-sophomore was a “gargantuan” favorite at 1/10 in early November as well.  The player who went on to win the 2018 Heisman, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, was fourth in that late-September set of odds at 8/1 and second at 6/1 a month and a half later.

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 7 Auburn (-3) at No. 10 Florida — While both teams come into this game unbeaten, they’ve reached this point making the trek down decidedly different paths.  The Tigers have beaten three Power Five teams, including a pair of ranked squads, along with two Group of Five teams.  The Gators have also beaten three Power Five teams, although all three are at .500 or below.  UF’s other two wins came against members of the FCS. … Auburn has won the last three games versus Florida, although the most recent meeting came in 2006.  From 1945-2002, the two SEC schools met every year. … Freshman quarterback Bo Nix set career-highs in passing yards (335) and rushing yards (56) in AU’s Week 5 win over Mississippi State.  Nix has not thrown an interception in the last four games after throwing two in the opener.
  • No. 25 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State (-20) — Ohio State is third in the country in scoring (52.4 ppg) while Michigan State is 14th in keeping teams off the scoreboard (15 ppg). The biggest difference between the two teams? OSU’s 8.6 ppg allowed is fourth among FBS schools and MSU’s offense is a middling 60th in scoring (31.4 ppg). … Matchup to watch: OSU’s seventh-ranked rushing attack (281.6 ypg) vs. MSU’s fourth-ranked run defense (57 ypg). … In six of their last seven meetings, both of the programs have been ranked.  The Buckeyes have won five of those matchups, with the Spartans’ two wins coming in 2015 (in Columbus) and 2013 (in the Big Ten title game) when MSU was the lower-ranked team.
  • No. 14 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan (-3½) — Michigan looked wobbly its first three games of the season before woodshedding a woefully inept Rutgers team that saw its head coach fired the next day. Is it a win that turns U-M’s season around, or is it merely a one-game reprieve before the talk of the temperature under Jim Harbaugh‘s seat heats back up? … U-M’s offense has been shaky for most of the season, and this week they’ll go up against an Iowa defense that allows just 8.5 points per game, the third-best figure at this level of football. … Dating back to 2009, the Wolverines have lost five of six in the series.  Those five losses to the Hawkeyes, though, came by a combined 24 points. … In the last four games played vs. UI in the Big House, U-M is 3-1.
  • Baylor at Kansas State (-2) — Baylor is one of four undefeated teams currently unranked, with the others being Memphis, Appalachian State and Minnesota. Outside of Florida (which plays a higher-ranked school), they also have the honor of being the only unbeaten school that is an underdog in Week 6. The biggest reason why they are unranked? Their four wins came against an FCS school and three FBS teams with a combined record of 3-10. … Kansas State was ranked for the first time this season following a Week 3 road win over Mississippi State before they dropped out of the Top 25 after a Week 5 loss at Oklahoma State. … The Wildcats have lost five of the last seven games they’ve played against the Bears.
  • No. 18 UCF (-4) at Cincinnati — If you were to tell me this game should be a couple spots higher on this list, you wouldn’t get much of an argument from me, at all, as it’s that huge when it comes to the Group of Five’s chase for its lone New Year’s Six berth.  Obviously, it would also give the winner a leg up in the American Athletic Conference East race, although this game will serve as Cincinnati’s conference opener (UCF beat woebegone UConn by 35 points a week ago). … One notable tidbit: Cincinnati has lost 12 straight games against ranked teams, with their last such win coming against No. 14 Pitt in early December of 2009.  That upset was at Pitt; its last win over a Top 25 at Nippert Stadium? Against No. 24 South Florida in October of 2008. … The Knights have won the last three meetings in what’s been a four-game series, with the Bearcats’ lone win coming in the first-ever meeting between the two schools during UCF’s winless 2015 campaign.
  • No. 11 Texas (-11) at West Virginia — Projected to finish somewhere near the bottom of the 10-team Big 12, West Virginia has surprised many by jumping out to a 3-1 record in Neal Brown’s first season in Morgantown, including back-to-back wins over Power Five schools (OK, one was Kansas, but still). … With its lone loss through four games coming against No. 5 LSU, meanwhile, Texas is exactly who we thought they were: a high-powered offense (41.8 ppg, 13th nationally) and, due to experienced personnel losses, a middle-of-the-road defense (25.5 ppg, tied for 62nd with… West Virginia). … The Mountaineers have won five of the eight games the two schools have played, although the Longhorns own a 2-1 record in Morgantown’s Milan Puskar Stadium, including a 28-14 win in 2017.
  • Liberty (-6) at New Mexico State — Consider this one a last-call bonus brew.  These two football independents played twice last season, marking the first time since 1998 (UMass-UConn) that two Division I schools faced each other twice in the same season.  They square off again in Week 6 this year… and then again in the 2019 regular-season finale, marking the first time since World War II that two D-I teams have faced each other twice in back-to-back regular seasons.  The Flames and Aggies split last year’s extended doubleheader, with the home team winning each contest.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 6

  • BEST: No. 6 Oklahoma (-31½) at Kansas.  Oklahoma has beaten Kansas 14 straight times.  Of the last eight losses for the Jayhawks in that streak, six have come by 32 or more points.  And then there’s this: The Sooners are tied for fourth in the nation in rushing offense at 293.5 yards per game, the Jayhawks are tied for 113th in rushing defense at 211.4 ypg.  Give up the points on the road and take Lincoln Riley’s squad.
  • WORST: No. 25 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State (-20).  Suffice to say, OSU is the better team and should win relatively handily.  I just can’t see them winning by three or more touchdowns against that MSU defense.  Just once in the last 13 meetings in Columbus have the Buckeyes beaten the Spartans by 20-plus points in The Horseshoe… and that was OSU’s 48-3 waxing of MSU last season.  I will have to say this, though: It won’t surprise me if this is a 17-14 OSU win… or a 52-20 OSU win, which makes me wonder why the hell I actually chose this game.
  • COVER SPECIAL: Georgia (-25) at Tennessee.  Forget the fact that UGA is a run-heavy team, they are right now at least four touchdowns better at Neyland Stadium against a UT team whose only win came against an in-state FCS program — and who also suffered one of the worst upset losses in college football history as well as an embarrassing shellacking at the hands of Florida two weeks ago.  The last time the Bulldogs traveled to Knoxville, they beat the Volunteers 41-0.

HEISMAN TROPHY INDEX

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Hurts has thrown for exactly three touchdown passes in each of the Sooners’ first four games, although he did throw his first pick of the season in the Week 5 win over Texas TechThe grad transfer from Alabama still leads the nation in pass efficiency rating at 249.9 and is second in total offense at 434.5 yards per game.
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — Tagovailoa has 23 touchdown passes on the season, including a school-record six in a Week 5 win over Ole Miss.  Of that FBS-best total, 16 have come in the past three games.
  3. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 3) — LSU was idle in Week 5, so we’ll let this tidbit from last week’s Cheat Sheet stand: With 17 touchdown passes in four games this season — he had a school-record six in the Week 4 blowout of Vanderbilt — Burrow now has 33 in 17 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
  4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 4) — The first-year starter’s 23 touchdowns responsible for (16 passing, seven rushing) are second-most at the FBS level behind Tagovailoa’s 25.  The rushing scores are tied for the most among quarterbacks with Navy’s Malcolm Perry.
  5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 5) — In the closer-than-expected win over Northwestern, Taylor failed to score at least two rushing touchdowns for the first time this season.  His eight scores on the ground are fifth in the country, while his 559 yards rushing are tied for seventh.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — As was the case with Burrow’s team, Texas was on a bye in Week 5, so this one’s updated from a week ago: Ehlinger leads all Big 12 quarterbacks with 15 touchdown passes — he’s thrown four TDs in three different games — although he tossed his first interception of the season in Week 4.
  7. Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (No. 9) — Hubbard’s 938 yards rushing are not only tops in the country, but they are nearly 300 yards more than the No. 2 rusher (Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins‘ 654). He’s tied with SMU’s Xavier Jones with 10 rushing touchdowns, and his 200.2 all-purpose yards per game lead the nation as well.
  8. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The preseason Heisman favorite has put up back-to-back pick-less games after throwing five in the season’s first three games (he had four in 15 games as a true freshman last season). His 143.7 pass efficiency rating is 57th nationally.  If he doesn’t crank his game back up post-haste, he’ll find his way off this list — and one could make a compelling case that he should be off already.
  9. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia (unranked) — Fromm’s Heisman candidacy is hurt on a pair of intertwined fronts: One, he’s boringly efficient (completes nearly 76 percent of his passes and hasn’t thrown a pick in four games, but has just six touchdown passes) and, two, he plays in a run-heavy offense (he’s attempted just 82 passes this season). On the plus side, he plays quarterback for the third-ranked team in the country and will get plenty of national exposure going down the stretch.
  10. Chase Young, DE, Ohio State (unranked) — For the first time this year, the token non-QB/RB holding down the No. 10 spot is a defensive player, although, if the junior keeps piling up the numbers the way he has the first quarter-plus of the season, he’ll make his way higher up the list on his own accord.  In five games, Young’s eight sacks lead the country, while his 1.7 tackles for loss per game are tied for eighth. And after Mark Dantonio‘s epic quote about Young this week — “I would say I really haven’t thought of him in the human context” — how could you not include him?

(DROPPED OUT: Washington State QB Anthony Gordon (No. 8), Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy (No. 10))

WEEK 6 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Utah State’s Jordan Love goes into Baton Rouge and throws for five touchdowns (but also two picks) in a close loss to LSU, while Auburn runs Florida out of The Swamp in a convincing win. Also, keep an eye on Western Michigan-Toledo, which might be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. #MACtion indeed.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Michigan beats Iowa by two scores. The thing about narratives is they often run in conflict with reality. Though many in college football would love nothing more than to throw dirt on the Jim Harbaugh era of Michigan football, I don’t believe the maize and blue have completely forgotten how to play football. While I still believe there is trouble down the tracks for Michigan, I don’t believe they’ll run into it on Saturday. Wolverines 28, Hawkeyes 17.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: The top four quarterbacks in our Heisman Index that aren’t idle this weekend — Hurts, Burrow, Fields, Ehlinger — have combined for 60 touchdown passes in 17 total games in 2019, an average of 3.5 touchdowns per player per game.  This weekend, those four quarterbacks will combine for at least 20 touchdown passes in their four Week 6 games.  Fields going up against Michigan State’s defense (six passing TDs in five games) makes me nervous, but that’s why they’re brazen predictions, right?

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld focus most of their Week 6 attention on matchups in the trenches.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 2

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 2 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 1 STORYLINES

  • Let’s face it: Week 1 was, by and large, a scheduling dud, with just one ranked-on-ranked game — and zero Top 10 matchups — on the opening weekend docket.  This week, though, college football fans will feast on the likes of No. 12 Texas A&M-No. 1 Clemson and the first Top 10 tilt of the season in No. 6 LSU-No. 9 Texas.  Toss in Army and its 10-game winning streak traveling to the Big House to face No. 7 Michigan; a Cincinnati squad that took care of UCLA in the opener heading up I-71 to No. 5 Ohio State; and No. 25 Stanford vs. USC in what is now the Backup Bowl, and Week 2 is setting up to be a much more palatable Saturday of football.  Oh, and there is also…
  • No. 25 Nebraska making its way to Colorado to take on the Buffaloes.  The Men of Corn vs. Ralphie.  The former Big 8/12 rivals have played 69 times previously, but just once (2018) since NU bolted to the Big Ten ahead of the 2011 season.  The Cornhuskers will be making their first trek to Boulder since the 2009 season, with what some would call memories of dirty pool still fresh in the Blackshirts’ minds.
  • What can Jalen Hurts do for an encore?  In making his Oklahoma debut, all the former Alabama quarterback did was set career-highs with 332 passing yards (previous best was 248), 176 rushing yards (154), and three rushing touchdowns (two). The three passing touchdowns tied his previous career-best set against FCS Mercer in November of 2017.  With FCS South Dakota on tap, don’t expect to see Hurts on the field for more than a half of action — but do expect some additional video game-like numbers.
  • Can the Mountain West Conference even remotely come close to matching its Week 1 success?  Four teams from the MWC scored wins over Power Five schools last weekend — Nevada over Purdue, Boise State over Florida State, Wyoming over Missouri, Hawaii over Arizona.  In Week 2, four more MWC schools will square off with Power Five teams — Hawaii-Oregon State, Nevada-Oregon, San Diego State-UCLA, Fresno State-Minnesota.  According to the Westgate sportsbook, three more upsets are certainly within the realm of possibility as the Bulldogs, Rainbow Warriors and Aztecs are 3-, 6½- and 7½-point underdogs, respectively.  The Wolf Pack upending the Ducks, on the other hand, would be a significant upset as the latter is set as a 24-point favorite.
  • In two-plus seasons, Jonathan Taylor has averaged 156 yards rushing per game.  A year ago, Central Michigan was 104th nationally in giving up 204.7 yards per game on the ground. No. 17 Wisconsin will play host to CMU Saturday as Taylor continues his climb toward becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (Taylor has 4,306, record-holder Donnell Pumphrey had 6,405) in just three seasons.
  • Owners of the second-longest Power Five losing streak in conference play — Rutgers is first at 12 straight — Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since beating Ole Miss in late October of 2017, a string of 11 losses in a row.  Saturday, the Razorbacks go on the road to face… the Rebels in Oxford.  Just throwing that out there.

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 6 LSU (-6) at No. 9 Texas — Who would’ve thought that an LSU game would feature a two-sided battle of the quarterbacks?  That will be the case this week as the Tigers’ Joe Burrow tossed five touchdowns in a half’s work of work, while the Longhorns’ Sam Ehlinger was very efficient in throwing four touchdowns of his own in their opener.
  • No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson (-17) — As evidenced by one pregame guarantee, this will be a revenge game for A&M as an Aggies failed two-point conversion late in the fourth — which was preceded by a critical fourth-quarter fumble and two missed first-half field goal attempts — allowed the Tigers to escape College Station with a 28-26 win en route to the 2018 national championship.
  • Army at No. 7 Michigan (-22) — ‘Merica’s Team is riding a 10-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country.  Conversely, the Black Knights are on a staggering 45-game losing streak against ranked teams, with Army’s last win coming against then-No. 19 Air Force in November of 1972.  Michigan’s last loss to a service academy? October of 1967 to Navy.
  • No. 25 Stanford at USC (-1) — The Trojans knew early on that they would be without their starting quarterback as J.T. Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the season opener.  The Cardinal, after a week’s worth of theirs dealing with a head injury that had him officially listed as questionable, will officially be without their starter, K.J. Costello, as well.  As a result, both schools will have first-time starters under center (redshirt sophomore Davis Mills for the Cardinal, true freshman Kedon Slovis for the Trojans).
  • Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State (-16) — Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell returns to The Horseshoe to face the Buckeyes, where the Columbus native once served as a player (1993-96), assistant coach (1999; 2002-10; 2012-16) and interim head coach (2011).  OSU has played 41 games versus in-state schools; they have won each one, including all five against UC.
  • Miami (-4) at North Carolina — There’s a bit of a past between the two head coaches in this matchup as Miami’s Manny Diaz served as North Carolina’s Mack Brown‘s defensive coordinator at Texas before Brown fired him in September of 2013 after giving up 550 yards rushing in a Week 2 loss to BYU. More importantly, The U will be looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1978.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 2

  • BEST: Cal (+14) at Washington.  I’m taking Cal’s defense and running with the points as Washington’s offense is still a work in progress after losing the school’s all-time leading passer, rusher.
  • WORST: Nebraska (-3½) at Colorado.  Nebraska barely escaped against South Alabama in the opener, and actually opened as an eight-point favorite over Colorado before the (smart) money started flowing in on the home team.
  • COVER SPECIAL:  Nevada (+24) at Oregon.  The MWC school won’t beat Oregon outright, but the team that knocked off Purdue in Week 1 will cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 3) — Six touchdowns and 500-plus yards of offense in the opener earns you the top spot.
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — The junior had almost as many touchdowns (four) as incompletions (five) vs. Duke.
  3. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (unranked) — Etienne had 205 yards and three touchdowns on just a dozen carries.
  4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 5) — After zero receiving touchdowns his first two seasons, Taylor had two in the opener (plus two on the ground).
  5. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 4) — Five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in first career start.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Four passing touchdowns, 169.4 pass efficiency rating.
  7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 1) — Lawrence had four interceptions as a true freshman; he had two in the opener.
  8. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (unranked) — Burrow’s five first-half touchdown tosses set the school’s single-game record.
  9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 8) — Performed reasonably well (242 yards,1 TD, 0 picks) against one of the best defenses he’ll face in 2019.
  10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (unranked) — I’ve decided to put a non-QB/RB in the 10th spot moving forward, and the Tide junior (10-137-1) is a good start.

(DROPPED OUT: Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez (No. 7), Georgia QB Jake Fromm (No. 9), Ohio State RB JK Dobbins (No. 10))

WEEK 2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Arkansas (+6½) upsets Ole Miss for their first SEC win in 679 days. The Razorbacks were uninspiring — to say the least — in their opener against Portland State, but they move to 2-0 with a last-minute win at the Rebels as Chad Morris breaks through and Matt Luke‘s hot seat turns to lava.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-2. The Vols didn’t lose to Georgia State because they were dehydrated, a la Florida State. They lost because Georgia State was a better football team. BYU is, too.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): There is a lot of speculation that Army and Cincinnati will give Michigan and Ohio State, respectively, some good battles. I don’t see it happening. After some slow starts in the first quarter, both the Buckeyes and Wolverines romp at home this week.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: Joe Burrow set a school record with five touchdown passes in the season opener a week ago; that benchmark will last exactly seven days as Burrow will break his own record by tossing six in LSU’s win over Texas in what will be an unexpectedly high-scoring affair.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
Wide receiver vs. cornerback battles in games such as Texas-LSU, Stanford-USC, Nebraska-Colorado and Texas A&M-Clemson are the flavors of the week as our buddies over at Rotoworld place their weekly spotlight on next-level players.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

No. 2 Alabama extends streak of perfect neutral site openers by throttling Duke in Atlanta

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A year ago Alabama used a blitzkrieg attack to knock opponents out before the game even started. The Crimson Tide averaged an FBS-best 15.5 points in the first quarter, scoring at least one opening frame touchdown in all 15 games.

So far in 2019, they’re 0-for-1.

Alabama’s first three possessions ended in a three-and-out, a fumble and a missed field goal, but the end result was the same. The No. 2 Crimson Tide steamrolled a completely overmatched Duke team, 42-3 in Atlanta.

Tua Tagovailoa was his predictably brilliant self, hitting 26-of-31 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns before he was pulled in the third quarter. Biletnikoff award winner Jerry Jeudy made a great opening case to join Michael Crabtree and Justin Blackmon as the award’s only two-time winners by catching 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, while Jaylen Waddle added five grabs for 90 yards.

The Tide’s defense, retooled due to early entrants and key injuries, dominated Duke’s offense. Blue Devils quarterback Quentin Harris was 12-of-22 for 97 yards with two interceptions, and Duke rushed for just 107 yards on 3.3 yards a carry,.

If there was a weak spot for Alabama, it was its own running game. The Crimson Tide managed only 3.5 yards per carry on 42 rushes.

Alabama more or less invented the modern day neutral site opener; their 34-10 steamrolling of No. 9 Clemson in the inaugural Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game back in 2008 served as the unofficial beginning of the ongoing Nick Saban dynasty. Alabama has returned to Atlanta five times since, they’ve played in Dallas three times, trekked to Orlando once. Alabama is also scheduled to play USC in Dallas again in 2020, and they’ll return to Atlanta to play Miami in 2021, but after that they’re done. Starting with a trip to Texas in 2022, Alabama will return to playing home-and-homes with major non-conference opponents, and for good reason. These games stopped being interesting years ago.

Alabama moved to a perfect 10-0 in neutral site openers. Judging by the $20 tickets that could be had up until kickoff, the Alabama fan base has had its fill of Atlanta and Dallas in September and they’re ready for a new challenge.

The rest of us are, too.

Trevor Lawrence headlines Preseason AP All-American team

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Everyone and their blog now has an All-American team; so many are out there, in fact, that if we wrote about all of them we’d never write about anything else.

But there’s something different about being a Preseason AP All-American, and as such we’d be remiss if we didn’t add to our historical record here at CFT.

Most notably, Trevor Lawrence nudged out Tua Tagovailoa for the First Team quarterback job, where he’s joined by running back Travis Etienne and linebacker Isaiah Simmons on the First Team. Alabama also had three First Teamers — wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and linebacker Dylan Moses.

The SEC led all conferences with eight First Team selections, followed by the Big Ten’s seven.

Without further ado, behold the 2019 Preseason AP All-America First Team:

OFFENSE
QB: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama; Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
C: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
OG: Ben Bredeson, Michigan; Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OT: Walker Little, Stanford; Andrew Thomas, Georgia
AP: Rondale Moore, Purdue
K: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse

DEFENSE
LB: Joe Bachie, Michigan State; Dylan Moses, Alabama; Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
S: Andre Cisco, Syracuse; Grant Delpit, LSU
CB: Paulson Abedo, Stanford; Bryce Hall, Virginia
DE: AJ Epenesa, Iowa; Chase Young, Ohio State
DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn; Raekwon Davis, Alabama
P: Braden Mann, Texas A&M

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

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Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)