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CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 3

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 3 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 3 STORYLINES

  • When ESPN‘s College GameDay traveling roadshow sets up camp in Ames for a game that decides the winner of the aptly-named Cy-Hawk Trophy, you know you’re in for, at least on paper, a light weekend of football schedule-wise. Thanks to Syracuse tripping over itself in Week 2 and Iowa State nearly getting knocked off by an FCS opponent in the opener, it’s Blutarsky’s GPA when it comes to Top 25 vs. Top 25 matchups in Week 3.  The last time there were no ranked teams facing each other?  Oct. 14, 2017 — and No. 2 Clemson was knocked off by unranked Syracuse on the road that weekend.  This weekend, No. 1 Clemson faces… unranked Syracuse… on the road.
  • It’s only Week 3, but Jeremy Pruitt and Chip Kelly are in more dire need of a win than any white man in history.  Pruitt has Tennessee off to its worst start to a season since 1988; under Kelly, UCLA has started a season 0-2 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since World War II.  Fortunately for UT, FCS Chattanooga is on tap and the Viols are 28-point favorites (then again, they were 26-point favorites over Georgia State and we all know how that turned out).  Unfortunately for UCLA — but fortunately for those looking to score free tickets — No. 5 Oklahoma is up next. If/when the Bruins suffer what seems like an inevitable loss, it will mark the first time since 1920-21 that they have gone 0-3 in back-to-back seasons.
  • In the first two games of the 2019 season, Florida State’s defense has allowed a combined 54 second-half points in a 1-1 start that includes the season-opening collapse against Boise State.  Enter Jim Leavitt, who Willie Taggart added this week in a defensive analyst role.  Leavitt served as Taggart’s defensive coordinator during the latter’s one-and-done season as Oregon’s head coach.  During his two seasons in Eugene, the Ducks finished tied for 63rd nationally in scoring defense in 2018 (27 points per game) and 77th in 2017 (28.3 ppg); the year prior to Leavitt’s arrival, they were 126th (out of 128 FBS teams at the time) at 41.4 ppg.  FSU travels to Charlottesville Saturday to face No. 25 Virginia.
  • With a Week 2 win over Western Michigan, Mark Dantonio tied Duffy Daugherty‘s Michigan State record for most career wins at 109.  If, unlike last year, No. 18 MSU can handle Arizona State this weekend, Dantonio, in the midst of his 13th season with the Spartans, will surpass the College Football Hall of Famer and stand alone in school lore with 110 wins.
  • No. 21 Maryland will take on Temple this weekend.  Maryland is leading the nation in scoring at 71 points per game (Penn State is next at 62); Temple is tied for 18th in the country in scoring defense at 12 ppg.
  • So, as you see, these notes signal very loudly that Week 3 is light in the britches and short in the wallet, as my grandfather used to say to describe one of his not-so-favorite sons-in-law.  Which, of course, means that utter and absolute chaos will very likely ensue…

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 6 Ohio State (-16½) at Indiana — Each of the past three seasons, a ranked OSU team lost to an unranked Big Ten opponent on the road in a game in which they were favored.  Are the Hoosiers the Buckeyes’ trap-game Waterloo this season?
  • No. 19 Iowa (-2) at Iowa State — As referenced earlier, this would’ve been a Top 25 matchup if then-No. 21 Iowa State hadn’t barely escaped Northern Iowa in triple overtime and dropped out of the rankings as a result.  The Hawkeyes have won the last four games in the rivalry; the Cyclones last home win in the series came in 2011.
  • No. 20 Washington State (-9) vs. Houston — This Friday-night, neutral-site affair is mentor vs. protégé as Wazzu’s Mike Leach had Houston’s Dana Holgorsen on his Texas Tech coaching staff from 2000-09.  Not only will this be the first time Leach and Holgorsen have been on opposing sidelines as head coaches, it’ll also be the first time since 1988 — and just the fourth time ever — the two schools have squared off in football.
  • No. 2 Alabama (-25½) at South Carolina — Alabama will be playing its first true road game of the 2019 season.  The last time these two teams met at Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks upset the top-ranked Crimson Tide in 2010. Unless I’m mistaken, though, neither Stephen Garcia nor Marcus Lattimore nor Alshon Jeffery will be suiting up this weekend.
  • Stanford at No. 17 UCF (-7½) — UCF will have two regular-season chances to prove its worth to national pundits against Power Five foes — this one at home, in Week 4 vs. Pitt.  Stanford is coming off a 25-point drubbing at the hands of USC that dropped them out of the Top 25, while UCF has beaten FAMU and FAU by a combined score of 110-14.
  • No. 9 Florida (-8) at Kentucky — If there’s a revenge game in Week 3 and despite the public pronouncements, it’s this one.  Week 2 last year, Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since Nov. 15, 1986, ending the Wildcats’ streak of 31 straight losses to the Gators.  That game was in Gainesville; this one is in Lexington.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 3

  • BEST: No. 1 Clemson at Syracuse (+28).  Clemson is, obviously, the better team, but on this weekend they won’t be four touchdowns better than Syracuse at home — the Orange’s spitting the bed against Maryland in Week 2 notwithstanding.
  • WORST: No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLA (+22½). Take the Bruins and the points at your own peril as the Sooners are primed to deal out a historic beatdown on Chip Kelly‘s woebegone squad.
  • COVER SPECIAL: Hawaii (+21) at No. 23 Washington.  Hawaii has beaten two Pac-12 opponents (Arizona, Oregon State) to start the 2019 season. Run, don’t walk, to your cyber betting window and lay that money on the Rainbow Warriors to cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 1) — Three touchdowns and 259 yards passing in a half’s worth of Week 2 work vs. an FCS foe would’ve been more than enough to maintain the top slot; working out like a boss immediately after the win and prior to the postgame press conference solidified it.
  2. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (No. 8) — Nine touchdown passes in two games this season for Burrow, giving him 25 in 15 appearances since transferring from Ohio State to LSU; in the two years prior to his arrival, Tiger quarterbacks accounted for 29 in 25 games.
  3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — In just over a half of play vs. New Mexico State, the junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.  He also scored another on the ground.
  4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 5) — In his first two career starts, the Georgia transfer has been responsible for nine total touchdowns (six passing, three rushing).
  5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 4) — Taylor has three receiving touchdowns in two games after never catching one his first two seasons.  Oh, and he also has five touchdowns on the ground for good measure.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Even in a loss to Burrow’s Tigers, Ehlinger shined statistically as he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
  7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 7) — The sophomore has been fair to middlin’ the first two games, throwing more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two).
  8. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 9) — Five touchdowns, 310 yards passing in a blowout win over Nevada in Week 2.
  9. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (No. 3) — After 205 yards and three touchdowns in the opener, he put up 53 and zero in Week 2.
  10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (No. 10) — As the token non-QB/RB, Jeudy is making a case to be taken out of the No. 10 slot as this past weekend he tied a school single-game record with three receiving touchdowns. The junior’s statline this season is 18-240-4.

(DROPPED OUT: None)

WEEK 3 BRAZEN PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Given the slate of lackluster matchups (editor’s note: that’s being way too kind), I think we’re in for some chaos this weekend. I’ll go with four ranked teams getting upset on Saturday, with at least two getting upended at home.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-3. See the thing people don’t understand about Chattanooga is… okay, no. Mack Brown springs his third straight upset, moving the Mack Attack to 3-0. UNC is a three-point underdog for Friday’s non-conference game at Wake Forest; I would take them as three-point favorites. Sam Howell continues making the plays that need to be made and one of the best stories of this young season continues.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): Maryland has been scoring plenty of points to start the season and takes their high-flying, rejuvenated offense on the road this week. They are due for a letdown, and Temple is the team to give them their first tough battle of the year. The Owls get defensive at home in The Linc and the Terrapins go home with their first loss of the season, dropping them out of the top 25 as quickly as they entered. The AAC has a solid week as UCF sends Stanford home with a loss too.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: Not only will No. 17 UCF win and cover, but the Group of Five school will hand Stanford its worst loss since Washington waxed them 44-6 in September of 2016.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
This week, our pals over at Rotoworld take an in-depth look at matchups in games such as Clemson-Syracuse and Oklahoma USC.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

Tennessee offers scholarship to boy bullied over homemade UT shirt

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This is simply spectacular.

Earlier this week, we posted about a boy at a Florida elementary school who was bullied because he wore a homemade University of Tennessee shirt for “College Colors Day.” The university caught wind of the young man’s situation and not only sent him a care package full of UT gear but also created a t-shirt utilizing his design to sell in its online store, with all of the proceeds earmarked for a national anti-bullying group.

Thus far, more than 50,000 of the shirts have been sold.

Thursday, though, the school went above and beyond the call of duty as UT announced that, “[i]n recognition of the fourth-grader’s Volunteer spirit, the university has extended an offer of honorary admission for him to join the Class of 2032.” Additionally, and most importantly, the school wrote, “he has been awarded a four-year scholarship covering his tuition and fees beginning fall 2028 should he decide to attend UT and meet admission requirements.”

“University officials have spoken several times with the boy’s mother, who has expressed gratitude to the university and said the family has been deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world,” the school added in its press release.

As we wrote in the initial post, when they want to be, human beings are amazingly compassionate creatures.

Every member of Vols Nation should be very proud to be associated with such a university.

Bryce Thompson returns to practice after being reinstated by Tennessee

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Tennessee defensive back Bryce Thompson was back on the practice field on Wednesday after being reinstated by the program. Thompson missed each of Tennessee’s first two games of the season as a result of his suspension, but it remains unknown just how soon Thompson may be rejoining his teammates in a game.

Head coach Jeremy Pruitt released a statement confirming Thompson is being allowed to practice but did not announce when Thompson will be used in a game again.

“As university processes have progressed relating to Bryce Thompson, we’ve all taken this situation very seriously,” Pruitt said in a released statement. “I believe Bryce can grow by following the plan the university has put in place for him. As a result, I am allowing him to return to practice.”

Tennessee suspended Thompson indefinitely on Aug. 26 following an arrest for alleged domestic assault. Thompson was charged with misdemeanor domestic assault following an incident in which Thompson allegedly threatened a woman and made a verbal threat to “shoot up the school.” Thompson denied making any such threats. He is currently scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 23, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Thompson earned Freshman All-American honors last season after recording 34 tackles and three interceptions for the Vols. He also forced one fumble and recorded four tackles for a loss with one sack. His return to the defense comes as the Vols are looking to get a win under their belts. Tennessee lost each of their first two home games against Georgia State (HERE) and BYU (HERE), with the defense being just one of the concerns in each loss.

Tennessee hosts Chatanooga this weekend.

Bullied boy’s homemade UT t-shirt being sold by Tennessee

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Tennessee may be a trainwreck — or, more appropriately, a self-described shipwreck — on the field at the moment, but, in one instance, they went beyond classy off of it.

A Florida elementary school teacher, Laura Snyder, posted a sad and infuriating story on Facebook earlier this month about one of her students, a young boy, being bullied by a group of girls (guarantee at least one of them was named Karen) during lunchtime. The reason behind the bullying was the unidentified young man wearing a homemade University of Tennessee t-shirt for “College Colors Day” at the school that apparently didn’t meet the Mean Girls standards.

From Snyder’s post, which I highly recommend clicking HERE to read it in its entirety:

Some girls at the lunch table next to his (who didn’t even participate in college colors day) had made fun of his sign that he had attached to his shirt. He was DEVASTATED. I know kids can be cruel, I am aware that it’s not the fanciest sign, BUT this kid used the resources he had available to him to participate in a spirit day.

Snyder stated later in the post that she would be buying the devastated young man his own UT shirt while also “wondering if anyone has any connections to the University of Tennessee” as she wants “to make it a little extra special for him.” First, the university responded by sending the boy a care package that included, among other swag, a jersey, hats, bracelets, water bottles, pens and cooling towels.

Then, the boy’s design was turned into a t-shirt that is now on sale at the official UT online store, with all of the proceeds earmarked for a national anti-bullying group.

“When I told him that his design was being made into a real shirt and people wanted to wear it, his jaw dropped,” Snyder wrote in her updated Facebook post. “He had a big smile on his face, walked taller, and I could tell his confidence grew today! Thank you to the UT Nation for that!!”

When they want to be, human beings are amazingly compassionate creatures. Well done, UT and Vols Nation.

(In-post photo credit: Laura Snyder Facebook)

Jeremy Pruitt references ‘Titanic’ in discussing Tennessee football

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Welp, that’s one way for a head football coach to paint his program.

Tennessee began its second season under Jeremy Pruitt (after a 5-7 first campaign) with one of the worst losses in the history of college football, a loss that left the underdog vanquishers tossing shade into the next week. UT followed up that loss with a double-overtime loss to BYU in Week 2 at Neyland Stadium that left the Vols 0-2 for the first time since 1988. In between those two losses, a pair of Volunteers football players decided to leave the football program.

During a Knoxville Quarterback Club appearance Monday, Pruitt went with a very head-scratching point of reference in alluding to the twin departures — James Cameron‘s 1997 disaster epic “Titanic.”

From 247Sports.com:

I think ‘Titanic’ came out maybe when I was in college,” Pruitt said. “When the boat starts going down, remember all the mice running to the top, right? We have had a few that left our program, but you will figure out who wants to be a Tennessee Vol and who don’t.

The head coach intimated that he saw the movie, but the question is: did he watch it all of the way through to the end? Because, you know, it’s an ending I don’t know that I would want associated with my struggling and flailing football program.

Just spitballing here, but I’m guessing Pruitt’s never heard of the Hindenburg because that may have been a more apt reference if he was looking for a historical tragedy. Or some type of catastrophic dumpster fire during the Great Depression, perhaps.

But that’s just me. His mileage obviously varies.