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Biletnikoff Award semifinalists are heavy on Big 12 receivers

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College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.

The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.

UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.

The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.

Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).

This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.

College football odds for Week 9: Notre Dame, Oklahoma among heavy favorites

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Notre Dame has some history of playing down to the level of heavy underdogs under Brian Kelly, but it is catching a struggling Navy squad in a neutral-site game this weekend.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who made a quarterback switch to Ian Book earlier this month, are 23.5-point favorites on this week’s college football odds against the Navy Midshipmen with a 54.5-point total for Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The matchup takes place at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. During the nine-season Kelly era, the Fighting Irish are 15-1 straight-up and 6-9-1 against the spread as a favorite of 20.0 or more points. Notre Dame (7-0)  is also 1-4 ATS in its last five games against Navy (2-5) and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games against American Athletic Conference foes. However, Navy comes in saddled with a losing record on the season and a 0-5 ATS record in its last five games. The total has gone OVER in six of the last eight Notre Dame-Navy matchups.

Elsewhere in Week 9 (all times ET):

West Virginia (5-1) at Baylor (4-3), Thursday, 7 p.m.
The West Virginia Mountaineers are 14-point favorites against the Baylor Bears with a 67-point total in a Thursday matchup. West Virginia is 0-4 ATS in its last four games in October. The total has gone UNDER in six of West Virginia’s last eight conference games. Baylor is 0-9 SU in its last nine road games against teams with winning records.

Miami (5-2) at Boston College (5-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Miami Hurricanes are 3.5-point road favorites against the Boston College Eagles with a 49.5-point total in a Friday matchup. Miami is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against Boston College. The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Boston College’s last 20 games in October.

Florida (6-1) at Georgia (6-1), Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
The Georgia Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites against the Florida Gators with a 52-point total in a matchup at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Florida is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games in October, according to the OddsShark College Football Database. The total has gone OVER in four of Georgia’s last five games in October.

Clemson (7-0) at Florida State (4-3), Noon
The Clemson Tigers are 16.5-point road favorites against the Florida State Seminoles with a 51-point total. The total has gone OVER in seven of Clemson’s last nine road games against teams with winning records. Florida State is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 conference games.

Texas A&M (5-2) at Mississippi State (4-3), 7 p.m.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are 2.5-point favorites against the Texas A&M Aggies with a 45-point total. Texas A&M is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against Mississippi State. Mississippi State is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games at home in October, but is also 1-5 ATS in its last six conference games.

Iowa (6-1) at Penn State (5-2), 3:30 p.m.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are 6.5-point favorites against the Iowa Hawkeyes with a 51.5-point total. Iowa is 8-1 SU and ATS in its last nine games. The total has gone UNDER in four of Iowa’s last five road games against Penn State. Penn State is 15-6 ATS in its last 21 conference games.

Wisconsin (5-2) at Northwestern (4-3), Noon
The Wisconsin Badgers are 7-point road favorites against the Northwestern Wildcats with a 51-point total. Wisconsin is 12-2 ATS in its last 14 road games. The total has gone OVER in seven of Wisconsin’s last nine road games, with an average combined score of 50.11. Northwestern is 6-14 ATS in its last 20 games at home against teams with winning records.

Kansas State (3-4) at Oklahoma (6-1), 3:30 p.m.
The Oklahoma Sooners are heavy 24.5-point betting favorites against the Kansas State Wildcats with a 64-point total. Kansas State is 21-5 ATS in its last 26 road games against teams with winning records. Oklahoma is 11-3 ATS in its last 14 games at home.

Texas (6-1) at Oklahoma State (4-3), 8 p.m.
The Texas Longhorns are 3.5-point favorites against the Oklahoma State Cowboys with a 59.5-point total. Texas is 4-1 ATS in its last five road games against Oklahoma State. The total has gone OVER in seven of Oklahoma State’s last nine conference games.

Washington State (6-1) at Stanford (5-2), 7 p.m.
The Stanford Cardinal are 3-point favorites against the Washington State Cougars with a 53-point total. The total has gone OVER in Washington State’s last six road games, with an average combined score of 72.67. Stanford is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 games. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Stanford’s last eight games in October.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Biletnikoff Award watch list highlighted by 2017 finalist David Sills

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You know how I know we’re getting closer to the start of a new season?  Yet another watch list.

The latest to release theirs is the Biletnikoff Award, with the honor going to the nation’s top receiver issuing a list consisting of 50 players from all nine FBS conferences as well as one independent (UMass).  Headlining this year’s preseason list is West Virginia’s David Sills, who was a finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Oklahoma State’s James Washington.  One other 2017 semifinalist is included as well, Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown.

A total of seven teams placed two receivers each on the watch list: Cal (Kanawai Noa, Vic Wharton III), Louisville (Dez Fitzpatrick, Jaylen Smith), Nebraska (Stanley Morgan Jr., JD Spielman), North Texas (Jalen Guyton, Michael Lawrence), Oklahoma (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), Toledo (Diontae Johnson, Cody Thompson) and West Virginia (Gary Jennings Jr., Sills).

Three conferences totaled seven players apiece, the ACC, Big 12 and MAC.  That trio is followed by five each from Conference USA and four apiece for the AAC, Pac-12 and Sun Belt.  The Big Ten and Mountain West each placed three.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch listers:

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford
Tyre Brady, Marshall
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Trevon Brown, East Carolina
Ryan Davis, Auburn
Greg Dortch, Wake Forest
Terren Encalade, Tulane
Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville
James Gardner, Miami-Ohio
Jonathan Giles, LSU
Marcus Green, ULM
Jalen Guyton, North Texas
Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Justin Hall, Ball State
Kelvin Harmon, North Carolina State
N’Keal Harry, Arizona State
Penny Hart, Georgia State
Justin Hobbs, Tulsa
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts
Gary Jennings Jr., West Virginia
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo
Collin Johnson, Texas
Diontae Johnson, Toledo
KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State
CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
Michael Lawrence, North Texas
Ty Lee Middle, Tennessee
McLane Mannix, Nevada
Scott Miller, Bowling Green
Denzel Mims, Baylor
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska
Kanawai Noa, California
James Proche, SMU
T.J. Rahming, Duke
Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
David Sills V, West Virginia
Steven Sims Jr., Kansas
Jaylen Smith, Louisville
Kwadarrius Smith, Akron
JD Spielman, Nebraska
Cody Thompson, Toledo
John Ursua, Hawaii
Teddy Veal, Louisiana Tech
Jamarius Way, South Alabama
Nick Westbrook, Indiana
Vic Wharton III, California
Malcolm Williams, Coastal Carolina
Olamide Zaccheaus, Virginia

Baylor’s Matt Rhule on Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd: ‘He will be an elite wide receiver’

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Baylor’s secret weapon for the upcoming season may very well be somebody who Tennessee fans are intimately familiar with: former Vols tailback Jalen Hurd.

In a lengthy article on Bleacher Report on Hurd’s decision to change positions and enroll in Waco, Bears head coach Matt Rhule did not seem to downplay expectations for one of his likely starters this fall and lobbed some pretty high praise on the former five-star recruit who had a rather controversial exit from Knoxville two years ago.

“He’s going to play a long time in the NFL—as a wide receiver,” said Rhule. “He will be an elite wide receiver.”

Hurd announced he was transferring in the middle of the 2017 season and eventually settled on a rather surprising move to Baylor. He racked up 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns in three years as a Vol runner but has apparently slimmed down by 20 pounds and shown off surprising agility in the passing game during his time sitting out a season in Waco.

The entire piece is well worth a read on the why Hurd wound up playing where he is and why the big change to catching passes instead of running the ball between the tackles. NFL scouts don’t seem entirely convinced until he’s actually impressed on the field this season but Rhule, while no doubt wanting to talk up his player, does have pro coaching experience to lean on when evaluating players.

Either way, Hurd figures to be one of the more interesting players in the Big 12 given his very unique career path up to this point.

WVU QB Grier, TCU DE Banogu headline Preseason All-Big 12 team

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The puffs of white smoke continue to fly out the chimney, and we got a big one on Wednesday with the first unveiling of a conference’s Preseason All-Big 12 team. It’s just a preseason team, yes, but it’s actual football talk about the actual season that’s actually about to happen…. in seven more weeks.

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier earned Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors and TCU defensive end Ben Banogu garnered Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Grier is easily the pass-happy conference’s leading returning passer; his 3,490 yards from 2017 place him more than 1,500 yards ahead of the pass-happy conference’s second-leading returning passer in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger (1,915 yards). Banogu leads all returning pass rushers with 8.5 sacks in 2017.

Oklahoma defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles, a freshman from Inglewood, Calif., by way of IMG Academy, earned Newcomer of the Year honors. Radley-Hiles was the 38th-rated player in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2018 class; for what it’s worth, three Big 12 signees ranked higher in Texas safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster and Oklahoma offensive tackle Brey Walker.

The 3-time defending Big 12 champion Sooners placed five players on the Preseason All-Big 12 offense and none on the defensive side. Texas Tech did not have a single player placed on the offense but put three players on defense.

Here’s how the full teams break out.

OFFENSE
QB Will Grier, West Virginia
RB David Montgomery, Iowa State
RB Rodney Anderson, Oklahoma
RB Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
WR Denzel Mims, Baylor
WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
WR David Sills V, West Virginia
TE Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma
OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
OL Bobby Evans, Oklahoma
OL Ben Powers, Oklahoma
OL Marcus Keyes, Oklahoma State
OL Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia

DEFENSE
DL JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State
DL Daniel Wise, Kansas
DL Jordan Brailford, Oklahoma State
DL Ben Banogu, TCU
DL Breckyn Hager, Texas
LB Joe Dineen, Jr., Kansas
LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech
LB David Long, Jr., West Virginia
DB Brian Peavy, Iowa State
DB Kendall Adams, Kansas State
DB Kris Boyd, Texas
DB Jah’Shawn Johnson, Texas Tech
DB Justus Parker, Texas Tech

SPECIALISTS
P Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
PK Austin Siebert, Oklahoma
PR/KR KaVontae Turpin, TCU