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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

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.

QB Sean Clifford says he received death threats after Penn State loss to Minnesota

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When it comes to the national perception, the image of the Penn State fan base has taken a beating of late.

In early October, Penn State defensive tackle Antonio Shelton posted a letter on social media from a Penn State fan addressed to safety Jonathan Sutherland that reeked of not-so-thinly-veiled racism. Nittany Lions football players supported their teammate by wearing t-shirts prior to the following week’s game, support that was shut down over potential compliance issues.

After that storm had calmed, Penn State went on to continue its eight-game winning streak to start the season before having the utter audacity to lose to then-unbeaten Minnesota in Week 11. The loss didn’t sit well with a certain segment of the PSU fan base, as it turns out, with starting quarterback Sean Clifford revealing Tuesday that he was forced off of social media because of death threats he alleged to have received.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

I completely deleted [social media] after the Minnesota game. It’s kind of sad to say how some fans get. It gets a little crazy. I was kind of sick and tired of getting death threats and some pretty explicit and pretty tough-to-read messages.

“But you learn how to deal with certain things and how certain people are going to react because it’s a very passionate game with a lot of passionate people. Our fans are definitely some of, if not the most, passionate fans in the country. So I just try to stay away from it.

“I appreciate all the positive people that are around, but there’s also people that try to tear you down. So I think it’s always been better to keep your head away from that kind of stuff.

The threats didn’t sit well with head coach James Franklin.

Penn State, ranked No. 9 heading into the release tonight of the updated College Football Playoff rankings, will travel to Columbus this Saturday to face second-ranked Ohio State in a matchup that will go a long way in deciding the Big Ten East and, eventually, the playoff hopes the conference entertain.

Ohio State remains wagering title favorite as Clemson inches closer

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With three weeks left in the regular season, including championship weekend, the true contenders for the 2019 national championship are coming into focus.

Ahead of Week 12’s action, Ohio State was one offshore sportsbook’s wagering favorite to win this year’s College Football Playoff championship at 2/1.  Heading into Week 13, the Buckeyes remain at that same 2/1.

Sitting at 3/1 the week before, Clemson saw its title odds shorten a bit to 5/2, the same as LSU’s.  The Tigers had sat at that same 5/2 heading into last Saturday’s win over Ole Miss.  Both of those teams are just ahead of Georgia at 7/1, which is shorter than the Bulldogs’ 9/1 they were getting at this time last week.

At the other end of the wagering spectrum is Alabama, which lost starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a win and, not surprisingly, saw its odds tumble from 10/1 to 14/1.  Two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide was at 11/4 to win the title.

At 16/1, Oklahoma and Oregon were next up, followed by Utah and Penn State at 40/1 and 50/1, respectively.  After suffering their first losses of the season in Week 12, Minnesota is now at 150/1 (50/1 a week ago) and Baylor at 250/1 (66/1).

Semi-finalists for Ray Guy Award announced, but missing last year’s winner

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Who is the best punter in the land? According to the Ray Guy Award, there are now 10 players left in the running for that title in the 2019 season.

This year’s semi-finalists for the Ray Guy Award are Oscar Bradburn (Virginia Tech), Joseph Charlton (South Carolina), Max Duffy (Kentucky), Tyson Dyer (New Mexico), Sterling Hofrichter (Syracuse), Adam Korsak (Rutgers), Dane Roy (Houston), Tommy Townsend (Florida), Michael Turk (Arizona State), Owen White (Navy).

Somehow, last year’s winner, Texas A&M’s Braden Mann, didn’t make the cut. Mann is third in the nation in punting average (48.21 yards per punt). Not exactly sure how that happened, but there will be a new Ray Guy Award winner this season as a result of this slip form the award’s committee.