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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

College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 ballot includes Steve McNair, Vince Young, Ray Lewis, Troy Polamalu, Carson Palmer and Marvin Harrison

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The ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 was announced Monday morning by the National Football Foundation. A total of 76 players and six coaches from FBS programs and an additional 100 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions have been included on this year’s ballot, with some new faces and some names that have appeared on previous ballots just waiting to get the call to the hall.

Some notable names on this year’s ballot include former Syracuse wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Vince Young of Texas, Heisman Trophy winners Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Rashaan Salaam of Colorado, USC’s Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu, Ray Lewis of Miami, Penn State wide receiver Bobby Engram, Wisconsin offensive lineman Joe Thomas, LSU running back Kevin Faulk, and Alcorn State legend Steve McNair (on the lower-division list).

The next class of hall of fame inductees will be announced on Monday, January 7, 2019 prior to the College Football Playoff national championship game in Santa Clara, California. The class will then be honored and inducted in December 2019.

Class of 2019 Nominees – FBS Players

  • Flozell Adams, Michigan State OT
  • Bernard Berrian, Fresno State WR
  • Michael Bishop, Kansas State QB
  • Lomas Brown, Florida OT
  • Terrell Buckley, Florida State DB
  • Brandon Burlsworth, Arkansas OG
  • Larry Burton, Purdue SE
  • Keith Byars, Ohio State RB
  • Matt Cavanaugh, Pittsburgh QB
  • Dallas Clark, Iowa TE
  • Marco Coleman, Georgia Tech LB
  • Tim Couch, Kentucky QB
  • Eric Crouch, Nebraska QB
  • Eric Dickerson, SMU RB
  • Rickey Dixon, Oklahoma DB
  • Vaughn Dunbar, Indiana RB
  • Jumbo Elliott, Michigan OT
  • Bobby Engram, Penn State WR
  • Kevin Faulk, LSU RB
  • David Fulcher, Arizona State DB
  • Robert Gallery, Iowa OT
  • Moe Gardner, Illinois DT
  • Tony Gonzalez, California TE
  • Jacob Green, Texas A&M DL
  • Dan Hampton, Arkansas DT
  • Jason Hanson, Washington State K
  • Byron Hanspared, Texas Tech RB
  • Kevin Hardy, Illinois LB
  • Marcus Harris, Wyoming WR
  • Marvin Harrison, Syracuse WR
  • Jeff Hartings, Penn State OL
  • E.J. Henderson, Maryland LB
  • Craig Heyward, Pittsburgh RB
  • Torry Holt, NC State WR
  • Ken Huff, North Carolina OG
  • Steve Hutchinson, Michigan OL
  • Raghib Ismail, Notre Dame WR
  • Larry Jacobson, Nebraska DT
  • E.J. Junior, Alabama DE
  • Jess Lewis, Oregon State DB
  • Ray Lewis, Miami LB
  • Bobby Majors, Tennessee DB
  • Tony Mandarich, Michigan State OT
  • Ed McCaffrey, Stanford WR
  • Darren McFadden, Arkansas RB
  • Cade McNown, UCLA QB
  • Corey Moore, Virginia Tech DL
  • Dan Morgan, Miami LB
  • Ken Norton Jr., UCLA LB
  • Phil Olsen, Utah State DE
  • Leslie O’Neal, Oklahoma State DT
  • Jim Otis, Ohio State FB
  • Carson Palmer, USC QB
  • Jake Plummer, Arizona State QB
  • Troy Polamalu, USC DB
  • David Pollack, Georgia DL
  • Antwaan Randle El, Indiana QB
  • Simeon Rice, Illinois LB
  • Ron Rivera, California LB
  • Rashaan Salaam, Colorado RB
  • Lucius Sanford, Georgia Tech LB
  • Larry Seivers, Tennessee WR
  • Kenneth Sims, Texas DT
  • Aaron Taylor, Notre Dame OT
  • Joe Thomas, Wisconsin OL
  • Dennis Thurman, USC DB
  • Troy Vincent, Wisconsin DB
  • Chris Ward, Ohio State OT
  • Michael Westbrook, Colorado WR
  • Lorenzo White, Michigan State RB
  • Zach Wiegert, Nebraska OT
  • Patrick Willis, Mississippi LB
  • Al Wilson, Tennessee LB
  • Steve Wisniewski, Penn State OG
  • Elmo Wright, Houston WR
  • Vince Young, Texas QB

Class of 2019 Nominees – Coaches

  • Larry Blakeney (Troy)
  • Jim Carlen (West Virginia, Texas Tech, South Carolina)
  • Pete Cawthon Sr. (Austin College, Texas Tech)
  • Dennis Erickson (Idaho, Wyoming, Washington State, Miami, Oregon State, Arizona State)
  • Billy Jack Murphy (Memphis)
  • Daryll Rogers (Cal State East Bay, Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State, Arizona State)

You can see the full ballot to see the lower division nominees HERE.

Fifth member of Jim McElwain’s first recruiting class at Florida to transfer

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Florida’s secondary continues to face some depth concerns ahead of the 2017 season. The depth chart lost Chris Williamson, multiple reports confirmed today, who is opting to transfer to a new school.

The former four-star defensive back was recently guided through a position change to pad the depth at the safety position this spring. Williamson has spent the past two seasons in Gainesville and has appeared in 14 games with one start. He came to Florida as part of the first recruiting class signed by Gators head coach Jim McElwain in 2015, and he is now the fifth player from that class to transfer, according to Inside the Gators.

From Inside the Gators;

Williamson is the fifth player from Jim McElwain’s inaugural recruiting class at Florida in 2015 to transfer from the program, joining running back Jordan Cronkrite (USF), offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC) and tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Georgia State).

The news of Williamson’s intent to transfer comes on the same day Florida revealed it will be without safety Marcell Harris for the 2017 season. Harris suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will force the fifth-year senior to miss the entire 2017 season.

Williamson will have to sit out the 2017 college football season if he transfers to another FBS program, according to NCAA transfer rules. He will be eligible to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a program at the FCS level or below.

San Jose State takes inaugural Cure Bowl over Georgia State

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San Jose State claimed the inaugural AutoNation Cure Bowl in a 27-16 decision over Georgia State Saturday night at a mostly-empty Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando.

The Spartans (6-7), who came in at 5-7 and earned their right to play in the postseason thanks to an impressive APR score, led nearly the entire way. After a scoreless opening frame, San Jose State got on the board on a 19-yard Austin Lopez chip shot with 11:05 to play in the first half. After forcing a three-and-out, star running back Tyler Ervin took the ensuing punt 85 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 10-0.

Georgia State (6-7) immediately responded with a five-play, 87-yard touchdown march punctuated by a 38-yard scoring strike from Nick Arbuckle to Donovan Harden.

Another Lopez field goal nudged the Spartans’ lead to 13-7 in the third quarter, but Georgia State briefly grabbed the lead thanks to a safety at the 12:44 mark of the fourth quarter and, after a 24-yard kickoff return following the safety, a four-play, 36-yard touchdown march, ended on a 19-yard pass from Arbuckle to Todd Boyd, giving the Panthers a 16-13 edge with 10:46 to play.

San Jose State immediately struck back with a three-play touchdown drive of their own, capped by a 42-yard keeper by quarterback Kenny Potter.

A 29-yard kickoff return gave Georgia State the ball at the 40, but 1st-and-10 at the 40 quickly became 4th-and-1 at the 49. After taking a timeout to think it over, head coach Trent Miles elected to throw it deep, and Arbuckle overshot an open Penny Hart streaking toward the end zone.

San Jose State methodically strolled 49 yards in 11 plays and more than five minutes, with the capper coming on a one-yard toss from Potter to tight end Josh Oliver with 2:40 to play.

Potter completed 10-of-19 throws for 89 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Ervin carried the day with 30 rushes for 132 yards in addition to his punt return score. Ervin’s 132 yards were enough to put him at 1,601 on the season, breaking San Jose State’s single-season rushing record.

The game proved to be a perfect swan song for San Jose State’s outgoing defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who announced Friday that today’s game would be the last in a 41-year coaching career. His defense held Arbuckle, the nation’s sixth-leading passer at nearly 347 yards per game, to just 208 yards on 14-of-29 passing with two scores and one end-of-game interception. San Jose State also held six Panthers rushers to 23 yards on 20 carries.

The win gives Ron Caragher his first bowl victory in three seasons as San Jose State’s head coach and just the seventh in program history.

Georgia State was denied its first bowl win in program history — unlike Sun Belt bunkmate Appalachian State — but 2015 will still be viewed as a success for a program that came into the fall looking for its first FBS win of any kind.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 19 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 19 bowl menu, which on “opening weekend” features five bowl games as the 2015 postseason officially kicks off.  Included in that quintet of contests is one bowl making its debut, another in just its second year as well as the holiest of Beehive State wars.

WHO: Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5)
WHAT: The 10th Gildan New Mexico Bowl
WHERE: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: The uncertainty over the availability of Arizona starting quarterback Anu Solomon (concussion) has some sportsbooks, including the one we use for lines, Bovada.lv, taking the game off the board.  If Solomon is healthy, the Wildcats would likely be double-digit favorites; without him, one could make a very good case for the Lobos.  In fact, the Wildcats went 0-3 in games that Solomon either didn’t start or didn’t finish because of injury.  Even with Solomon on the field for most of the last five games, though, UA still lost four of those.  UNM, meanwhile, comes into its first bowl berth since 2007 on a high, finishing out the season with wins over bowl-bound Utah State (6-6), Boise State (8-4) and Mountain Division champion Air Force (8-5).  The combination of how both teams finished the season, the uncertainty over Solomon and ‘Zona likely feeling underwhelmed with its postseason lot has a very motivated Lobos squad primed for an upset.
THE LINE: Off the board
THE PREDICTION: New Mexico 33, Arizona 27

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WHO: BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3)
WHAT: The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
WHERE: Sam Boyd Stadium, Whitney, Nevada
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
THE SKINNY: This promises to be one of the best “non-marquee” bowl games of the 2015-16 cycle because not only are both teams coming into it with nine wins but because of the whole “Holy War” aspect, and in Sin City no less.  The two football programs have been on a sabbatical the last two seasons in a rivalry that’s seen 89 previous matchups, but will resume in the regular season beginning next season and running through 2020.  The Utes have won four straight in the series and nine of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2002.  The Cougars’ situation is somewhat muddled as their long-time head coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has accepted the same job at Virginia but will coach his “former” team in the bowl game.  After beginning the season 6-0 and with playoff talk dancing in their heads, the Utes muddled through the remainder of the schedule at 3-3.  Here’s to guessing the Cougars, winners of seven of their last eight, add to their rival’s late-season misery and send their old coach with off with his first bowl win since 2012 — especially if words can be used as motivation.
THE LINE: BYU, +3
THE PREDICTION: BYU 27, Utah 23

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WHO: Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (10-2)
WHAT: The 2nd Raycom Media Camelia Bowl
WHERE: Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: There were 21 teams that won 10 or more games during the 2015 regular/championship season; I’d bet you could make some pretty decent coin regarding Appalachian State’s inclusion in that select group.  And ASU’s two losses this year came against top-ranked Clemson in Death Valley and 2015 Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State.  Ohio University, not to be confused with Brady Hoke‘s derisive “Ohio” directed at Ohio State, had a near-perfect start to the season at 5-1, with the only loss coming by three at Minnesota… before they lost three in a row (two by a combined 66 points)… before they regrouped to win their last three by a combined 49 points.  The Bobcats are looking for their first bowl win since 2012, while the Mountaineers are playing in their first bowl game as an FBS program.  ASU is a touchdown favorite… and even that might be a little on the short side.
THE LINE: Ohio, +7½
THE PREDICTION: Appalachian State 45, Ohio 24

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WHO: San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6)
WHAT: The 1st Cure Bowl
WHERE: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
WHEN: 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
THE SKINNY: If you like underdog stories, tune into this one.  Georgia State went 3-29 from the beginning of the 2013 (first FBS season) through the eighth game of the 2015 season.  The Panthers then ripped off four straight wins — by double digits in each, no less — to close out the year and reach a level 6-6 to become bowl-eligible.  GSU’s Nick Arbuckle, one of the most prolific quarterbacks you’ve probably never heard of, is currently sixth in the country in passing yards with 4,160.  Its head coach, Trent Miles (pictured), will very likely be one of the hot names on the 2016 spinning of the coaching carousel.  As for San Jose State?  I have zero desire to discuss a sub-.500 team that doesn’t deserve a bowl bid.  And this isn’t to pick on the Spartans; rather, this will be a running theme throughout these types of posts when it comes to 5-7 teams getting an unwarranted and undeserved invitation to the postseason. [/steps off soapbox]
THE LINE: Georgia State, +3
THE PREDICTION: Georgia State 31, San Jose State 21

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WHO: Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
WHAT: The 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: Arkansas State lost its first two games of the 2015 season (USC, Missouri) then won nine of its last 10 to become the first team in Sun Belt history to go unblemished in conference play.  Louisiana Tech features the potent one-two punch of former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (14th nationally in passing yards with 3,575, 26th in pass efficiency) and touchdown machine Kenneth Dixon (83 career scores, tied for second all-time among FBS players).  One thing to keep in mind if you’re the wagering type when it comes to Driskel’s success through the air this season: the Red Wolves are currently 95th nationally against the pass, giving up an average of 251.9 yards per game; Driskel was held under that number just twice in 2015.  ASU did intercept 26 passes this season (No. 1 in the country), and Driskel tossed three in a season-ending loss to Southern Miss, so there is that if you’re on the Red Wolves side.
THE LINE: Arkansas State, +2
THE PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 48, Arkansas State 45