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The Citadel collected $400,000 as part of win at Georgia Tech

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It goes without saying that every time there’s an FCS team that upsets an FBS squad, it’s notable in the context of college football. We had one such flip of the script on Saturday in Week 3 as Georgia Tech fell at home to The Citadel 27-24 in overtime.

The result capped off a pretty awful weekend for the ACC in general but was extra bad for the Yellow Jackets considering they had to pony up six figures to the Bulldogs just for the right to come into Bobby Dodd Stadium and beat them:

If you really want to see how the small FCS school, which pulled the same thing at South Carolina a few years ago, twisted the knife into Georgia Tech too, just note that they are a triple option outfit. That of course is the offense the Jackets ran for years under former coach Paul Johnson but abandoned over the offseason with the hire of Geoff Collins.

The rebuild in Atlanta might take a little longer than expected with that kind of offensive transition judging by the results of Week 3, especially in light of the fact that The Citadel never trailed in the contest and had a shot at winning in regulation before the home side forced overtime late.

Georgia Tech is far from the only team to pay a smaller school a hefty sum in a loss but the nature of the contest in general sure had to sting a bit more than it normally does given the added context.

First-year head coaches (barely) finished above .500 in 2019 debuts

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For those FBS schools that made changes at the top of its program last year and on into early 2019, the results, at least for the opening weekends of the college football season, were decidedly mixed.

Entering Weeks 0/1, a total of 26 head coaches were in their first games (two coaching a second first game) with their respective schools. Of those 26, 15 won their opening matchups while *uses fingers to do the math, takes off shoes when fingers run out* 11 dropped their openers.

Seven of the head coaches new to their current schools — Akron (Illinois), East Carolina (NC State), Houston (Oklahoma), Liberty (Syracuse), Texas State (Texas A&M), UMass (Rutgers) and Utah State (Wake Forest) — led off with Power Five opponents; not surprisingly, all seven of those ended up exiting Week 1 with a loss.  Exactly half of the 26 kicked off against FCS schools, and just one, Western Kentucky to Central Arkansas, failed to come away with a win.

At the other end was Louisville and North Carolina leading off with matchups against Power Five foes, Notre Dame for the former and South Carolina the latter.  The Cardinals extended their nation’s-worst losing streak to 10 in a row while the Tar Heels got past the Gamecocks in Mack Brown‘s return to Chapel Hill.

Oh, and there was Hugh Freeze‘s official return to coaching from a hospital bed up in the coaches’ box in Liberty’s loss to Syracuse.

WIN (15)
Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State (beat East Tennessee State, 42-7)
Scot Loeffler, Bowling Green (Morgan State, 46-3)
Jim McElwain, Central Michigan (Albany, 38-21)
Brad Lambert, Charlotte (Gardner-Webb, 49-28)
Mel Tucker, Colorado (Colorado State, 52-31)
Les Miles, Kansas (Indiana State, 24-17)
Chris Klieman, Kansas State (Nicholls, 49-14)
Mike Locksley, Maryland (Howard, 79-0)
Mack Brown, North Carolina (South Carolina, 24-20)
Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois (Illinois State, 24-10)
Ryan Day, Ohio State (FAU, 45-21)
Rod Carey, Temple (Bucknell, 56-12)
Chip Lindsey, Troy (Campbell, 43-14)
Matt Wells, Texas Tech (Montana State, 45-10)
Neal Brown, West Virginia (James Madison, 20-13)

LOSS (11)
Tom Arth, Akron (lost to Illinois, 42-3)
Mike Houston, East Carolina (NC State, 34-6)
Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech (Clemson, 52-14)
Dana Holgorsen, Houston (Oklahoma, 49-31)
Hugh Freeze, Liberty (Syracuse, 24-0)
Scott Satterfield, Louisville (Notre Dame, 35-17)
Manny Diaz, Miami (Florida, 24-20)
Jake Spavital, Texas State (Texas A&M, 41-7)
Walt Bell, UMass (Rutgers 48-21)
Gary Andersen, Utah State (Wake Forest, 38-35)
Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky (Central Arkansas, 35-28)

CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 1

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as college football kicks off its first full weekend of the 2019 season.

WEEK 1 STORYLINES

  • On Nov. 6, 1869, with a young Bill Snyder in attendance, Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in what is considered the first “modern” game of college football.  A century and a half later, the sport is one of the most popular in the country and this 150th anniversary will be celebrated throughout the 2019 season.  The sesquicentennial of a sport that generated quotes such as “this college is a failure; the trouble is we’re neglecting football for education” and “I would like to build a university of which the football team could be proud” will be feted over the next few months, with ESPN, of course, leading the way with myriad specials highlighting the colorful, ofttimes controversial but never, ever boring history of college football.
  • Several new rules will be in effect for the 2019 season, from targeting (replay officials required to either confirm or deny all targeting fouls; any targeting foul that cannot be confirmed by video review will now be overturned) to blindside blocks called as personal fouls to two-man wedge formations on all kickoffs.  Another aspect of the targeting rule that’s been changed could have a sizable impact as well, with a player who is penalized for targeting three times in a season being suspended for one full game after the first offense, and an additional game for every offense thereafter.  Additionally, new overtime rules are in play thanks to last year’s LSU-Texas A&M marathon. If a game reaches four overtimes and remains tied, the outcome will be decided by alternating two-point conversions that are snapped from the three-yard line.
  • Because of injuries, Alabama will very likely open the 2019 season with a pair of true freshmen starting in its linebacking corps.  Starting weakside linebacker Josh McMillon suffered a knee injury two weeks ago that will sideline him indefinitely, perhaps even the entire season; he’ll be replaced by four-star 2019 signee Christian Harris.  Preseason All-American Dylan Moses sustained a torn ACL this week and is expected to miss all of 2019; four-star 2019 signee Shane Lee will take his place at middle linebacker not only position-wise but calling the defensive signals as well.  Add in three other starters suspended for the first half of the opener, and Alabama’s matchup with Duke — the Crimson Tide are around a five-touchdown favorite for the neutral-site matchup — at least becomes mildly interesting.  Or it’ll prove yet again that, Nick Saban‘s protestations notwithstanding, ‘Bama can indeed s**t another player and everything will be perfect.
  • There are 26 head coaches who are entering their first seasons at their new schools, with two of them (Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech and Manny Diaz at Miami) already losing their debuts.  This Saturday, more than half of the 24 remaining first-year coaches (13) will lift the lid on the 2019 season against FCS opponents; at the opposite end of the spectrum is seven Group of Seven Group of Five coaches lead off with a Power Five school — Akron (Illinois), East Carolina (NC State), Houston (Oklahoma), Liberty (Syracuse), Texas State (Texas A&M), UMass (Rutgers) and Utah State (Wake Forest). Colorado and Ohio State will kick the campaign off against Group of Five schools Colorado State and Florida Atlantic, respectively, with Louisville opening against Notre Dame and North Carolina tangling with South Carolina in P5 vs. P5 matchups.

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 16 Auburn in Arlington, Tex. — No offense to either school, but you know the Week 1 slate is on the lighter side if this is the first of the must-see matchups.  This game, coincidentally enough, is also the only one this weekend pitting ranked teams against each other.  As of this writing, the Ducks are a 3½-point favorite in a neutral-field affair that will see the Tigers start a true freshman, Bo Nix, under center for the first time in more than 70 years.  Oregon, meanwhile, has seen its receiving corps hit hard by injury.  This game will, though, feature one of the best positional matchups of the first full weekend of football, with the Ducks’ stout offensive line going up against the Tigers’ talented defensive line.
  • Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma — If you like offense, you should love this non-conference matchup.  Prior to going down with a knee injury in the Cougars’ 11th game of the season, a now-healthy D’Eriq King had put up 50 total touchdowns (36 passing, 14 rushing) and nearly 3,700 yards of offense as he passed for 2,982 and ran for another 674.  The Sooners, of course, have produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners and will see their offense triggered this season by Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts.
  • Boise State vs. Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. — This game was originally scheduled to be played on a “neutral field” in Jacksonville, but the looming threat of Hurricane Dorian forced the contest to be moved about 170 miles west to Doak Campbell Stadium.  This will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs, with the Seminoles coming off a year in which its bowl streak was snapped at 36 straight thanks to a 5-7 record and the Broncos coming off a season in which its bowl game was ruled a no-contest because of, oddly enough, weather.
  • North Carolina vs. South Carolina in Charlotte, NC Mack Brown is back for his second stint at North Carolina.  South Carolina’s head coach, Will Muschamp, served as Brown’s defensive coordinator at Texas from 2008-10. And thus ends the most intriguing aspect of this matchup as the Tar Heels won two games for the first time since 2003 and the Gamecocks were a pedestrian 7-6 in the third season under Muschamp.  This is also the third of three neutral-site games on this list, so it’s got that going for it.  Which is nice.
  • No. 9 Notre Dame at Louisville — This game is the only one being played Labor Day night, so by definition it’s a must-see affair for any avid fan of the sport.  Those expecting must-see action on the field will likely be disappointed, though, as Notre Dame is anywhere from an 18- to 19-point road favorite. The Fighting Irish were one of the four playoff teams a year ago, with the Cardinals stumbling and/or bumbling through a two-win season (their worst since 1997) that saw Bobby Petrino fired and Scott Satterfield hired.
  • Ole Miss at Memphis — Fun fact for the wagering degenerates in the audience: Memphis is 8-0 in the regular season under Mike Norvell in games that kick off at noon ET, including a pair of wins over Power Five schools (then-No. 25 UCLA in 2017, laugh-if-you-want-but-they’re-still-technically-a-P5-team Kansas in 2016).  Both of those wins, incidentally, came at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.  Right now, the Tigers are roughly a 5½-point favorite.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 1

  • BEST: It’s gotta be Memphis -5½ over Ole Miss, right?  Given that unbeaten noon trend under Norvell, you have to roll with what’s been a mortal lock the past three seasons.
  • WORST: Alabama at -33½ over Duke. The line had gotten all the way to 36 points at one point until Dylan Mosesseason-ending injury.  The Crimson Tide should still win very comfortably, but not nearly five touchdowns comfortable — although Nick Saban‘s PG-13 radio diatribe has me second-guessing this selection.
  • COVER SPECIAL:  Houston’s getting three touchdowns and a field goal, and I’m taking it.  The AAC school (likely) won’t beat Oklahoma outright, but they’ll cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1.  Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson — The “It” player in college football ended the 2018 season with a national championship as a true freshman, and begins the 2019 season as the Heisman frontrunner until proven otherwise.
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama — There is one overwhelming question when it comes to the 2018 Heisman runner-up: can he stay upright and healthy for a full season?
  3. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma — Back-to-back transfer quarterbacks from Oklahoma have won the Heisman, so this transfer quarterback from Alabama is going to start this season a little higher than he probably should.
  4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State — The second straight transfer on the list, the true sophomore is entering his first season as the starter at the collegiate level after coming to OSU from Georgia.
  5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin — The positive: Taylor is just 2,235 yards away from becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher in just three seasons. The negative: A running back has claimed the Heisman just twice in 13 years.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas — Speaking of droughts, a player from the University of Texas hasn’t won the Heisman since Ricky Williams in 1998.
  7. Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska — When it’s all said and done, and if he stays injury-free, I truly believe this electrifying quarterback who can beat you with his arm and/or legs will end the season a lot higher on this list.
  8. Justin Hebert, QB, Oregon — Arguably the top player on the West Coast, Hebert eschewed the opportunity to enter the 2019 NFL Draft as a likely Top-10 selection and return to Oregon for one more season.
  9. Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia — The seventh-year junior (OK, it just seems like he’s been in Athens forever), has quietly put up nearly 5,400 yards and 54 touchdowns in two seasons; a huge performance in the high-profile matchup with Notre Dame in Week 4 would boost his stiff-armed chances.
  10. JK Dobbins, RB, Ohio State — With Fields in his first season as a starter, Dobbins should see his carry rate rise (he averaged just under 12 a game his first two seasons)  especially early on as the new starter gets further acclimated to the offense.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that Oregon’s offensive line going up against Auburn’s defensive line will be one of the best positional matchups of Week 1.  As fortune would have it, our buddies over at Rotoworld have Auburn DT Derrick Brown vs Oregon OL Shane Lemieux and Jake Hanson leading off its “NFL Draft Prospect Showdown” feature for the first week of the college football season.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

No. 1 Clemson starts title defense with blowout of Georgia Tech

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Clemson picked up right where it left off: punishing anyone who dare started across from them. The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the preseason for the first time in school history, began their prowl for the first back-to-back national championships in school history with an easy 52-14 win over Georgia Tech on Thursday night.

Travis Etienne led the way for the Tigers, accounting for 205 yards and three touchdowns on just 12 carries, while Trevor Lawrence pitched in two scores.

And to think, the night actually started well for Georgia Tech.

Clemson (1-0, 1-0 ACC) accepted the ball to start the game and Georgia Tech immediately forced a three-and-out… and then gave the ball immediately back to the Tigers when Juanyeah Thomas muffed the punt and Brannon Spector hopped on it at Georgia Tech’s 16-yard line. Lawrence cashed in five plays later with a 6-yard zone read keeper to give Clemson its first of many early leads this season.

Georgia Tech (0-1, 0-1 ACC), displaying its brand new (to them) spread offense, picked up two first downs on its first series but saw a promising series end in flames when a backfield miscommunication on a 1st-and-10 at midfield result in an 11-yard loss and a punt.

Travis Etienne put the game in comfort territory for Clemson on the next possession when he raced 90 yards for a touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-0 lead at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter.

Leading 21-0 midway through the second quarter, Lawrence appeared to serve Georgia Tech’s first points on a platter when he tossed a pass straight to Georgia Tech’s Tre Swilling, who raced the ball 41 yards until he was knocked out by Lawrence himself at the 2.

Put in its first disadvantageous situation of this young season, Brent Venables‘ retooled defense shined, surrendering yards of one, zero and zero yards to force a 4th-and-goal from their own 1. Georgia Tech called for Oliver to toss a roll out pass, which was tipped and intercepted by Clemson’s Denzel Johnson.

Clemson then went 94 yards on five plays, the last 62 coming on a catch-and-dash from Lawrence to Tee Higgins to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.

Etienne capped his night a 48-yard touchdown run at the 12:42 mark of the third quarter, and Clemson added scores from Lyn-J Dixon and Frank Ladson, Jr. (via Chase Brice) over the course of the second half.

Georgia Tech got on the board with a 7-yard Jordan Mason run at the 11:40 mark of the third quarter, a score that was set up with — get this — a 54-yard pass from Tobias Oliver to Jerry Howard, Jr. The Yellow Jackets then added a 28-yard touchdown pass from James Graham to Ahmarean Brown with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Breaking in a a spread offense under new head coach Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech experienced mixed success, as would be expected in an opening game that happens to come inside the home of the defending national champions. Oliver started the game and posted a Paul Johnson-era line of 3-of-9 for 65 yards and two interceptions while rushing 20 times for 56 yards. Graham experienced more success through the air, completing 4-of-7 attempts for 72 yards and a score. Mason led GT with 72 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

Lawrence was a modest 13-of-23 for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions (the second came on a heave as time expired in the first half) while carrying three times for 24 yards and a touchdown. As a team, Clemson rushed 47 times for an even 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Smooth sailing for Clemson so far vs. Georgia Tech

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It’s so far, so good for defending national champion No. 1 Clemson, as the Tigers hold a 28-0 lead over Georgia Tech at the break in Death Valley East.

Clemson accepted the ball to start the game and Georgia Tech immediately forced a three-and-out… and then gave the ball immediately back to the Tigers when Juanyeah Thomas muffed the punt and Brannon Spector hopped on it at Georgia Tech’s 16-yard line. Lawrence cashed in five plays later with a 6-yard zone read keeper to give Clemson its first of many early leads this season.

Georgia Tech, displaying its brand new (to them) spread offense, picked up two first downs on its first series but saw a promising series end in flames when a backfield miscommunication on a 1st-and-10 at midfield result in an 11-yard loss and a punt.

Travis Etienne put the game in comfort territory for Clemson on the next possession when he raced 90 yards for a touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-0 lead at the 5:39 mark of the first quarter.

Leading 21-0 midway through the second quarter, Lawrence appeared to serve Georgia Tech’s first points on a platter when he tossed a pass straight to Georgia Tech’s Tre Swilling, who raced the ball 41 yards until he was knocked out by Lawrence himself at the 2.

Put in its first disadvantageous situation of this young season, Brent Venables‘ retooled defense shined, surrendering yards of one, zero and zero yards to force a 4th-and-goal from their own 1. Georgia Tech called for Oliver to toss a roll out pass, which was tipped and intercepted by Clemson’s Denzel Johnson.

Clemson then went 94 yards on five plays, the last 62 coming on a catch-and-dash from Lawrence to Tee Higgins.

In a stat line that seems quite similar to other Georgia Tech games, Oliver finished the first half 2-of-7 for 11 yards and an interception while leading the Yellow Jackets with 16 carries for 61 yards. Jordan Mason rushed nine times for 42 yards.

Lawrence completed 12-of-22 tosses for 148 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions (the second of which came on a heave as time expired in the half) while adding three carries for 24 yards and a score, and Etienne compiled 145 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Georgia Tech will receive to open the second half.