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  1. 2 Ex-Gamecock quarterback's strike gold with portal moves Oct. 18, 2021 Over in the Big Ten, QB Ryan Hilinski worked his way to becoming Northwestern’s starting quarterback after not playing in the Wildcats’ first two games. The former Gamecock has started Northwestern’s last three matchups and has helped the Wildcats improve to 3-3 after their 1-2 start. QB Jake Bentley has continued to have one of the best seasons of his six-year collegiate career with the Sun Belt Conference’s South Alabama. He’s led the Jaguars to a 4-2 record off a career-best 68.2% completion percentage, totaling a conference-leading 1,505 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. Bentley’s 389-yard performance in South Alabama’s 41-14 win over Georgia Southern last weekend was the third-most productive of any quarterback in the country last week. He completed 24 of his 31 passes and scored three touchdowns. Bentley spent four years at South Carolina from 2016-19. After passing for over 7,500 yards and 55 touchdowns with the Gamecocks, Bentley suffered a season-ending foot injury in USC’s 2019 season opener against North Carolina and elected to transfer to Utah in the PAC-12 conference for 2020. OTHERS: Korey Banks, WR (NC A&T): 17 catches for 173 yards in 6 games Derek Boykins, LB (Charlotte): 7 tackles in 3 games Stephan Davis Jr, LB (NC A&T): 2 tackles in 2 games John Dixon, DB (Penn State): 4 tackles in 5 games Deshaun Fenwick, RB (Oregon State): 50 carries for 318 yards in 6 games Joseph Anderson, DE (Purdue): 4 tackles in 4 games Jammie Robinson, DB (Florida State): 45 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes deflected in 6 games Shilo Sanders, DB (Jackson State): 25 tackles, 2 forced fumbles in 6 games Keir Thomas, DE (Florida State): 16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass deflected in 5 games Keshawn Toney, TE (UT Chattanooga): 4 receptions for 61 yards in 3 games Jamyest Williams, RB (Georgia State): 43 carries for 239 yards in 6 games, made a position change from defensive back.
  2. Great news they the NCAA could make this permanent after this year.. Division I Council approves a one-year waiver of signing and initial counter limits to allow schools to replace up to seven football student-athletes who leave school in the first term.
  3. Heisman Watch, Week 4 from Draftking.com Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest Stock: Up Hartman and the Demon Deacons were going up against Heisman contender Brennan Armstrong of Virginia, but it was the Wake Forest quarterback who emerged from this showdown with better odds. He threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-17 victory over the Cavaliers, moving Wake Forest to 4-0 on the season. The ACC is there for the taking this year and Clemson just got bounced by NC State. This could be Hartman and Wake Forest’s year. Sean Clifford, QB, Penn State Stock: Up Clifford already has a signature win under his belt when the Nittany Lions took down Auburn in Week 3. He added to his impressive stats with 401 yards and four touchdowns in a comfortable win over Villanova. Penn State gets a relatively light contest next week against Indiana before a massive showdown with No. 5 Iowa. Clifford’s resume stacks up well so far and he’ll have a chance to add to it. The quarterback is +4000 to win the honor. Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn Stock: Down Auburn had a huge scare against Georgia State, ultimately winning by 10 points due to a late touchdown and a pick-6. Bigsby was pedestrian in the game, putting up 60 yards on 18 carries. This is the type of opponent Auburn should comfortable handle with its power running game but Bigsby couldn’t take over. Given fellow teammate Jarquez Hunter’s superior performance, it’s tough to see Bigsby (+10000) keep pace in this race. Taulia Tagovailoa, QB, Maryland Stock: Up Tua’s little brother is making noise in College Park. Don’t look now, but the Terrapins are 4-0 heading into a massive conference matchup with Iowa in Week 5. After throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns, Tagovailoa has the Terps looking good early in the season. There’s some marquee games to navigate, but the numbers are there for the gunslinger at Maryland. Tyler Goodson, RB, Iowa Stock: Down A week after entering this watch, Goodson (+10000) turned in a poor performance against Colorado State. The running back only managed 57 yards on 18 carries and failed to find the endzone. It’s hard for a Hawkeye to get Heisman buzz as it is and Goodson’s Week 4 performance doesn’t help his cause. Iowa has a tricky matchup with Maryland before a huge conference clash with Penn State. Those games will determine Goodson’s and Iowa’s fate this season. Malik Cunningham, QB, Louisville Stock: Up Cunningham had a rough start to the season against Ole Miss but has turned things around to have the Cardinals in the conference mix. He had 320 total yards and four total touchdowns in a 31-23 win over Florida State, moving Louisville to 3-1 on the season. The Cardinals get a surging Wake Forest team next week in what becomes another chance for Cunningham (+15000) to make his Heisman case. The schedule is manageable and the talent is there. Blake Corum, RB, Michigan Stock: Down Corum remains Michigan’s primary running back and there’s always an opportunity for him to break out given the team’s style this season, but the 20-13 win over Rutgers left a lot to be desired. Fellow running back Hassan Haskins scored both touchdowns, leaving Corum to put up an ordinary stat line of 68 yards on 21 carries. The running back is currently +5000 to win the award but will need a big game at Wisconsin next week to truly get back into the thick of this race.
  4. NCAA stats this week: Total offense Gamecocks 77th 381 ypg Total defense, Gamecocks 4th 186 ypg Total offense, CCU 13th 535 ypg; Total defense CCU 55th 323 ypg. Total offense Clemson 94th 342 ypg Total defense Clemson 12th 234 ypg
  5. Transfer Portal 2019: Tracking Power Five transfers Dec. 14, 2019 The transfer portal changed college football a season ago, and it’s showing no signs of slowing during the 2019-20 campaign. That change in the rules resulted in thousands of FBS players entering the portal, including high-profile movers like Justin Fields, Tate Martell and Jalen Hurts. It’s completely altered roster construction strategies for some programs, and resulted in a few programs from the Group of Five having their rosters pillaged. The portal drew both heavy criticism and praise from coaches around the country, largely depending on who you asked. (VIEW ARTICLE) FREE 247SPORTS
  6. Muschamp & Ellis Johnson have made the list To funny but true thanks Ray!! Will Muschamp, who everyone thinks is one of the worst football coaches of ALL TIME has one of the largest buyouts in College football. Worst college football coaches list
  7. Ex Gamecock kicker Elliott Fry calls out Dabo Swinney Oct. 13, 2019 Well, not everything was perfect — Clemson kicker B.T. Potter missed a 24-yard field goal, and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney let his kicker know about his mistake. Swinney absolutely chewed him out on the sidelines for the missed chip shot. It was such a bad tongue-lashing, Swinney received criticism for it on Twitter. Former South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry even chimed in: The biggest takeaway from Fry’s tweet might be that he called Florida State a “cupcake” game for Clemson.
  8. AP POLL TOP 20 Due to the Labor Day weekend slate of games (which included Oklahoma playing on Sunday night and Notre Dame playing on Monday), the Week 2 AP Poll was delayed until Tuesday. Since most of the top 10 teams took care of business in convincing fashion, there wasn't much movement at the top of the poll. Top-25 rankings can be found 1 Clemson Tigers 2 Alabama Crimson Tide 3 Georgia Bulldogs 4 Oklahoma Sooners 5 Ohio State Buckeyes 6 LSU Tigers 7 Michigan Wolverines 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish UP 1 9 Texas Longhorns UP 1 10 Auburn Tigers UP 6 11 Florida Gators DOWN 3 12 Texas A&M Aggies 13 Utah Utes UP 1 14 Washington Huskies DOWN 1 15 Penn State Nittany Lions 16 Oregon Ducks DOWN 5 17 Wisconsin Badgers UP 2 18 Central Florida Knights DOWN 1 19 Michigan State Spartans DOWN 1 20 Iowa Hawkeyes 21 Syracuse Orange UP 1 22 Washington State Cougars UP 1 23 Stanford Cardinal UP 2 24 Boise State Broncos 25 Nebraska Cornhuskers DOWN 1 Florida, despite being 1-0, fell out of the top 10 (to No. 11) with a 24-20 Week 0 victory over Miami. Check back next week for the latest AP Poll rankings.
  9. Ranking the 25 best facilities in college football July 30, 2019 Gamecocks come in at number: 6. SOUTH CAROLINA Luxurious state-of-the-art spaces that spare no expense. College football's era of facility upgrades breeds extravagance as programs across the country try and impress recruits with the latest bells and whistles, a necessary arm's race to keep up with the elites. Remember when big screen TVs and a PlayStation were a big deal after practice? Now, you're falling behind if you don't have LED sets inside bathrooms and a barber shop within walking distance of the locker room, complete with uniform-cleansing lockers and futuristic upgrades. How do you get current players to stay and future prospects to sign? You bring everything to them. (VIEW ARTICLE) FREE 247SPORTS
  10. Saban: Tide had 'lining kicked out of our britches' in 2010 Columbia trip July 17, 2019 HOOVER, ALA.—It’s been almost nine years, but Nick Saban still remembers his last game at Williams-Brice. The Alabama coach with eight SEC championships and six national titles remembers taking his Crimson Tide team into Columbia riding a 19-game win streak and left on a losing streak after the Gamecocks upended his Tide 35-21.(VIEW ARTICLE) FREE GAMECOCKCENTRAL
  11. NCAA Football Oversight Committee approves proposal, allowing bowl season to begin Friday Dec. 20, instead of Dec. 21, sources told @Stadium. Earlier start needed this year because of uniqueness of calendar & limited number of weekends in 2019 bowl season compared w/other years.
  12. NCAA Reviewing Football Transfer Rules; Hope for Resolution by 2019 Season February 15, 2019 The NCAA reportedly plans to evaluate its transfer guidelines this offseason and will consider making changes to the system that will impact the immediate eligibility of a player who transferred prior to graduating. "We do believe attention on a small number of high-profile requests can skew perceptions of the scope of staff and committee review," Kaity McKittrick, who will be among those involved in the review, said, per ESPN's Dan Murphy. "Each waiver request is reviewed individually, as they each present a unique fact pattern and almost always confidential information about the student." The committee hopes to have a resolution prior to the start of the 2019-20 academic calendar. As Murphy notes, the NCAA loosened up its transfer guidelines in April 2018. The rule change allows players who transfer to gain immediate eligibility if their decision was "due to documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete's control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete." Since that rule change, college football has seen a number of high-profile transfers in the last 10 months. Among the players to transfer are Shea Patterson (Ole Miss to Michigan), Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) and Tate Martell (Ohio State to Miami). Both Patterson and Fields were granted a waiver to become immediately eligible. A ruling on Martell has yet to be determined. According to Murphy, a total of 29 FBS players have applied for immediate eligibility since the start of the 2018-19 academic year, with 19 players coming out successful in the matter. That success rate has brought up talk of free agency becoming a reality in modern college football. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney went on the record, per ESPN's David M. Hale, in February 2018 to say that the rule change would lead to "free agency and total chaos." Thomas Mars, who helped Patterson and Fields receive waivers, believes the transfer numbers are a reflection of college coaches, not the system. "If people think the percentage of waivers granted is too high, the number of waivers that have been granted might just be a reflection of how the football coaching staffs are treating their players," Mars said, per Murphy. "It doesn't necessarily mean the NCAA is being too lenient." After seeing how the new rules have been applied for nearly a year now, the NCAA has the opportunity to figure out what the best course of action is moving forward.
  13. Top Paid OL Coaches Eric Wolford, South Carolina — $600,000 Is ranked #9 http://footballscoop.com/news/highest-paid-offensive-line-coaches-college-football/
  14. Where do South Carolina coaches stack up salary-wise with other football programs December 05, 2018 With the release of USA Today’s database of college football assistant coaches, the magic number for South Carolina seems to be 15. The Gamecocks rank 15th nationally on the list in staff pay and have the coach listed as the 15th-highest paid in the country. Gamecocks offensive coordinator Travaris Robinson leads the way for USC with a $1.2 million salary. He’s one of 21 assistants to cross the $1 million threshold. He’s listed at No. 15, although that’s tied with the coaches at No. 13 and 14. USC’s assistant total is $5,050,000, which is just behind Oklahoma and ahead of Ole Miss. South Carolina is seventh in the SEC in staff salary behind, Texas A&M, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The top three are Ohio State, Clemson and Texas A&M. That’s a bump of about a million dollars in total assistant salaries and moves USC up from 10th in the conference. Gamecocks offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon is in a tie for 64th in the country at $650,000, and offensive line coach Eric Wolford is tied for 85th at $600,000 Let's take a look below: .ms-elegant-main { border: 2.25pt double black; background-color: white; } .ms-elegant-tl { font-family: small-caps; font-weight: normal; color: black; border-left-style: none; border-right: .75pt solid black; border-top-style: none; border-bottom: .75pt solid black; background-color: white; } .ms-elegant-left { font-weight: normal; color: black; border-left-style: none; border-right: .75pt solid black; border-top-style: none; border-bottom: .75pt solid black; background-color: white; } .ms-elegant-top { font-family: small-caps; font-weight: normal; color: black; border-left-style: none; border-right: .75pt solid black; border-top-style: none; border-bottom: .75pt solid black; background-color: white; } .ms-elegant-even { font-weight: normal; color: black; border-left-style: none; border-right: .75pt solid black; border-top-style: none; border-bottom: .75pt solid black; background-color: white; } .auto-style1 { border-style: solid; border-width: 1px; } Coach Salary T-13th Travaris Robinson (Def. coord.) $1,200,000 T-64th Bryan McClendon (Off. coord.) $650,000 T-85th Eric Wolford (O-line) $600,000 T-134th Lance Thompson (D-line) $550,000 Dan Werner (QBs) $500,000 T-158th Coleman Hutzler (LBs/ST) $475,000 T-218th Bobby Bentley (RBs) $400,000 T-352nd Mike Peterson (LBs) $300,000 T-352nd Pat Washington (TEs) $300,000 T-754th Kyle Krantz $125,000
  15. I am not much of a Notre Dame follower, but I hope they curb stomp Clemson and get ghetto stomped by Bama. SEC is the best conference, we just get beaten up with our schedules sometimes.
  16. Urban Meyer on Paid Leave. Michigan smiling plus celebrating likely an OSU slide
  17. Muschamp will love the rule change just passed by NCAA June 03, 2018 College football coaches are worried about some of the rule changes they think might be coming to their sport, but they got a big win Wednesday when the NCAA announced a change that essentially ends the redshirt season in college football. College football players can now appear in up to four games without using a season of eligibility, the NCAA ruled. “All coaches are for that,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said earlier this month at the SEC’s annual spring meetings. The change means first-year players can now get their feet wet in the sport even if coaches are worried they might not be ready to play a full season. If a coach thinks a freshman might be ready, he can try him out for a game or two and know for sure without risking an entire year of eligibility. If a freshman hasn’t played after the 11th game of the season, he might as well see the field to get some experience. According to the NCAA: "The new exception allows football players to preserve a season of competition if, for example, injuries or other factors result in them competing in a small number of games." Redshirting already had become less common in college football than in the days when Muschamp was a player at the University of Georgia in the early 90s. “I needed two years,” he quipped. “I think that’s changed because of the attrition at the top end of your roster for a lot of reasons, guys transferring, guys graduating early, guys going to the NFL. You’re seeing a lot more opportunity for young players to play so you don’t see as many guys being redshirted. I never make a decision on a redshirt until we get into a season. It may not be Game 1 but he may be better at the position in Game 4 than the guy in front of him. You keep coaching and developing them and see what happens.” Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink= According to the NCAA: "The new exception allows football players to preserve a season of competition if, for example, injuries or other factors result in them competing in a small number of games." Redshirting already had become less common in college football than in the days when Muschamp was a player at the University of Georgia in the early 90s. “I needed two years,” he quipped. “I think that’s changed because of the attrition at the top end of your roster for a lot of reasons, guys transferring, guys graduating early, guys going to the NFL. You’re seeing a lot more opportunity for young players to play so you don’t see as many guys being redshirted. I never make a decision on a redshirt until we get into a season. It may not be Game 1 but he may be better at the position in Game 4 than the guy in front of him. You keep coaching and developing them and see what happens According to the NCAA: "The new exception allows football players to preserve a season of competition if, for example, injuries or other factors result in them competing in a small number of games." Redshirting already had become less common in college football than in the days when Muschamp was a player at the University of Georgia in the early 90s. “I needed two years,” he quipped. “I think that’s changed because of the attrition at the top end of your roster for a lot of reasons, guys transferring, guys graduating early, guys going to the NFL. You’re seeing a lot more opportunity for young players to play so you don’t see as many guys being redshirted. I never make a decision on a redshirt until we get into a season. It may not be Game 1 but he may be better at the position in Game 4 than the guy in front of him. You keep coaching and developing them and see what happens.” Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=cpy .” Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=cpy cpy Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=c The change means first-year players can now get their feet wet in the sport even if coaches are worried they might not be ready to play a full season. If a coach thinks a freshman might be ready, he can try him out for a game or two and know for sure without risking an entire year of eligibility. If a freshman hasn’t played after the 11th game of the season, he might as well see the field to get some experien The change means first-year players can now get their feet wet in the sport even if coaches are worried they might not be ready to play a full season. If a coach thinks a freshman might be ready, he can try him out for a game or two and know for sure without risking an entire year of eligibility. If a freshman hasn’t played after the 11th game of the season, he might as well see the field to get some experience. Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=cpy ce. Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article213100679.html#storylink=cpy py
  18. SEC AD: 'It's one of the biggest challenges we have in college athletics' May 31, 2018 DESTIN, FLA. In 2017, 15 college football assistants made more than $1 million a year and nine of them worked in the SEC. Since last season ended one of them, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, has gone over $2 million annually, and at least one more coach has joined the list thanks to a raise that will pay South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson $1.2 million annually. “I think it’s one of the biggest challenges we have in college athletics is what our coaches are making,” Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin said this week at the SEC’s annual meetings. “They are in a market that allows them to enjoy those kinds of salaries, but I do think the optics of it are not helpful.” The Gamecocks' 10-person assistant coaching staff – Robinson, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon ($650,000), offensive line coach Eric Wolford ($600,000), Lance Thompson ($550,000), quarterbacks coach Dan Werner ($500,000), special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler ($475,000), running backs coach Bobby Bently ($400,000), linebackers and defensive ends coach Mike Peterson ($300,000), tight ends coach Pat Washington ($300,000) and special teams assistant Kyle Krantz ($125,000) – makes a total of $5.1 million. That total would have ranked fifth in the country last year but will not this year because of offseason raises at other schools and the addition of a 10th coach to every staff. “It’s what the market bears,” said Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne, whose assistant coaching staff made almost $6 million total last year. “We want to make sure for all of our sports we attract the best candidates for our jobs. Obviously, salaries are part of that. There’s always going to be debates about what you do as a program.” Stricklin is concerned about how that debate looks, though. Athletic departments have been able to argue that skyrocketing salaries for head coaches were worthwhile because of the exposure successful programs bring to universities, but it’s much harder to make that argument based on assistant coaches. “I’m appreciative of the job our coaches do, but the optics of that is very uncomfortable,” Stricklin said. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said he doesn’t think that assistant coach salaries will continue to rise forever. “Well, where is it? I don’t know,” Sankey said. “It’s going to take campus oversight. There is an end. Where might it be? I’m not going to jump into that prediction.” THE STATE
  19. Why college football coaches can't zing their rivals anymore May 28, 2018 The spring college football speaking tour is winding down, and it’s been another boring year on the one-liners front. If you’re of a certain age and personality bent, that makes you a little nostalgic for college football as it used to be. The (Insert Team Name Here) Club speaking gigs used to be some of the best fun of the college football season. It was at a Gator Club meeting in the offseason of 1994 that Steve Spurrier dubbed Florida State University as Free Shoes University thanks to a scandal involving star wide receiver Peter Warrick. And there’s another reason to get all wistful about college athletics’ past. Remember when someone getting free shoes was the scandal of the day? But anyway… Spurrier called the Seminoles Free Shoes University, and it was funny. Coaches were preaching to their choirs, and they felt free to take a few shots at their rivals when they did it. It was harmless, and it helped give college football the personality that separated it from the professional game. And now it’s gone, the victim of the sport’s media saturation and the increasing desire of its most high-profile coaches to "NFL-ize" the game, polishing off all the rough edges and exerting control over every aspect of what they often refer to as an “organization.” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp finished his Spurs Up Tour on Tuesday night with a speaking engagement in front of the Florence County Gamecock Club. At every meeting, he was met by multiple reporters and did a short media session (excluding a Spartanburg trip that included a travel snafu). And then he took the podium knowing there were media members in the room and anything he might say about, say for instance, Clemson would end up in headlines by the time he was headed home. At the Gaston Country Sports Hall of Fame ceremony in April, Muschamp was speaking about his time as a coach at LSU and said, "We were at the real Death Valley, not the one somewhere else.” That was clearly a (very slight) dig at Clemson, and it ended up on social media and in headlines almost immediately. Is that the fault of a media that now operates as if every word out of football coach’s mouth is news? You’ll be surprised to know that I don’t think so. At least not entirely. We’re all to blame to some degree for a collective loss of sense of humor. A barb can’t be a barb anymore. It’s all got to be bulletin board material. It’s got to be a thing that gets hashed and rehashed as if it’s actually important. Some night, someday down the line, somewhere on one of these speaking tours across the nation, someone is going to slip up. Maybe it’ll be a position coach without enough experience on the circuit to know any better. Maybe it’ll be a head coach who’s a quart low on give-a-darn or a quart heavy on whatever was served at dinner that night. Somebody will mess up and say something interesting.
  20. Athlon projects college football's very early top 25 teams for 2018. The start of college football's 2018 season is still several months away, but it's never too early to look ahead and predict how the top 25 could look by next year. While there will be many personnel changes and coaching moves prior to spring practice that will have a major impact on this list, the top of the rankings has a few familiar faces in the mix. Alabama tops the way-too-early rankings, with Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia rounding out the top four. The next group of teams is headlined by Miami and Oklahoma, with Michigan, Auburn, Wisconsin and Michigan State rounding out the top 10. Expect several tweaks to this NCAA football top 25 ranking between January and August or before the 2018 officially starts. Here is Athlon’s very early look at the top 25 teams in college football for 2018, followed by a handful of other teams to watch this offseason: Way-Too-Early College Football Top 25 for 2018 1. Alabama Nick Saban’s team will lose a handful of key contributors from its 2017 team, but this program is still one of the favorites to win it all and tops Athlon's early college football rankings for 2018. The offense will be led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, and an offensive line that’s expected to return four starters. Left tackle Jonah Williams and guard Ross Pierschbacher will be among the SEC’s top returning linemen, but center Bradley Bozeman must be replaced. The skill positions could take a hit in early entrants to the NFL Draft. Receiver Calvin Ridley and running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough are all candidates to make the jump. Alabama’s defense will have a new play-caller after Jeremy Pruitt left to take the top spot at Tennessee. However, don’t expect the standard of performance to change much on the Crimson Tide defense. End Da’Shawn Hand, linebackers Rashaan Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton and defensive backs Tony Brown, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace must be replaced. This unit could lose a couple of players early to the NFL. But as expected in Tuscaloosa, the next wave of stars is ready to step up. Lineman Raekwon Davis and linebackers Mack Wilson and Dylan Moses are the leaders for the defense next fall. Former LSU cornerback and junior college recruit Saivion Smith is expected to play a major role in the secondary. The Crimson Tide also have a favorable crossover schedule in SEC play (no Georgia) and its toughest road date is at LSU on Nov. 3. Auburn has to come to Tuscaloosa next season. One potential wild card storyline: Will Tua Tagovailoa push Hurts for snaps at quarterback this offseason? 2. Clemson The Tigers should be favored to win their fourth consecutive ACC title next year. The offense will return nearly intact for coach Dabo Swinney, starting with quarterback Kelly Bryant and running backs Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne. While Bryant is the returning starter under center, five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence joins the mix this offseason. His progress will be a storyline to watch in offseason workouts, especially after the offense struggled in the Sugar Bowl loss to Alabama. Left tackle Mitch Hyatt anchors a line that must replace three starters on the interior. The receiving corps should be among the best in the nation with the return of Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud and Amari Rodgers. Under the play-calling of coordinator Brent Venables, the Tigers will once again rank among the best on defense in college football. However, Venables has a few voids to fill at each level. The line could lose ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant and tackle Christian Wilkins to the NFL. Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel departs after a standout senior campaign, and cornerback Ryan Carter also expires his eligibility. Tackle Dexter Lawrence, linebacker Kendall Joseph and cornerback Trayvon Mullen will be the leaders for next year’s defense. The schedule isn’t too daunting, but road trips to Texas A&M and Florida State are on tap next fall. 3. Ohio State Urban Meyer has won at least 11 games in each of his six seasons at Ohio State. Despite some key players moving on, the Buckeyes aren’t going to slip too far in the win column. That’s largely due to Meyer and his staff delivering standout recruiting classes, as well as a talented core to build around from the 2017 team. Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell will compete to replace J.T. Barrett at quarterback. The Buckeyes should be able to ease the transition of the new signal-caller due to a strong supporting cast. The receiving corps returns its top six performers from 2017, including Parris Campbell (40 catches) and K.J. Hill (56). J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for 2,201 yards and 19 rushing scores in 2017 and should lead the way for the offense next year. The line loses three starters, including All-Americans Jamarco Jones (left tackle) and Billy Price (center). The Buckeyes will lose at least end Sam Hubbard and cornerback Denzel Ward to the NFL, but Nick Bosa returns to anchor the line, and Tuf Boland is a future star in Columbus at linebacker. Despite the personnel losses at each level, Ohio State has a cast of talented underclassmen on the depth chart ready to step into bigger roles. The schedule features road trips to Purdue, Penn State and Michigan State, along with a neutral-site matchup against TCU. The annual showdown against Michigan takes place in Columbus on Nov. 24. 4. Georgia Expect Georgia to be a fixture in the CFB Playoff picture under Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs showed marked improvement from 2016 to '17 and another strong recruiting class is on the way next fall to add even more talent and depth in Athens. The one-two punch of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel must be replaced at running back, but D’Andre Swift, Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien and freshmen Zamir White and James Cook will be more than enough to keep the ground game firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Jake Fromm should be more comfortable in his second year as the starter, and the Bulldogs return two out of their top three receivers. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn will be missed, but the rest of the line returns intact, which should rank among the best in the nation. Smart and coordinator Mel Tucker have some big names to replace on defense but a significant drop in production isn’t likely. First-team All-American Roquan Smith and All-SEC cornerback Deandre Baker could leave early for the NFL, while cornerback Malkom Parrish, safety Dominick Sanders, defensive back Aaron Davis, nose guard John Atkins and linebackers Lorenzo Carter, Davin Bellamy and Reggie Carter expire their eligibility. Georgia doesn’t have a tough non-conference slate but road trips to South Carolina, Missouri and LSU are on tap. Auburn visits Athens for a SEC showdown on Nov. 10. 5. Miami The Hurricanes are a program on the rise under coach Mark Richt. Miami was perhaps a year ahead of schedule by pushing for a CFB Playoff berth in 2017, but this team will be squarely in the mix for the top four in 2018. The Hurricanes open the year with an intriguing matchup against LSU in Arlington and host Florida State in their annual rivalry showdown. A road trip to Virginia Tech is the toughest away matchup, but the rest of the 2018 slate is manageable. Quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 468 yards and five scores, but the senior will be pushed for the starting job by redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry. With Mark Walton moving onto the NFL, true freshman Lorenzo Lingard and junior Travis Homer are set to anchor the ground game. The receiving corps loses Braxton Berrios and tight end Christopher Herndon, but Ahmmon Richards will return to full strength after a season-ending injury, and the Hurricanes will get bigger contributions from 2017 freshmen Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley. Richt will have a little work to do in the trenches after the departure of left tackle Kc McDermott and guard Trevor Darling. Manny Diaz has built one of the ACC’s top defenses over the last two years, and this unit should be even better than its 2017 version. Ends Chad Thomas and Trent Harris, tackle Anthony Moten and cornerback Dee Delaney are the only seniors departing from the defensive depth chart from the Orange Bowl. The linebacker unit returns all three starters, including Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney. Safety Jaquan Johnson (assuming he doesn’t leave for the NFL) and cornerbacks Michael Jackson, Trajan Bandy and Malek Young round out a strong secondary. 6. Oklahoma What’s in store for Lincoln Riley in 2018 after an impressive debut as Oklahoma’s head coach? For starters, the Sooners are likely to begin next season as the favorite to win the Big 12. There’s no doubt the offense will miss quarterback Baker Mayfield, but Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray should keep the unit performing at a high level. Additionally, Murray’s transition to the lineup should be eased by running backs Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon, along with receivers Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb. Tight end Mark Andrews and left tackle Orlando Brown could jump early to the NFL. Even if Brown leaves, the Sooners will return three starters from one of the nation’s top offensive lines in 2017. Riley will once again enter a season with question marks on defense. Oklahoma must replace Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, linebacker Emmanuel Beal, safety Steven Parker and end D.J. Ward. Can this unit take a step forward next fall? Linebackers Caleb Kelly and Kenneth Murray, along with cornerbacks Parnell Motley, Tre Norwood and Tre Brown provide a young foundation in the back seven, with Amani Bledsoe, Marquise Overton, Du’Vonta Lampkin and Kenneth Mann return to anchor the trenches. An interesting schedule note: Oklahoma opens with Lane Kiffin and FAU in 2018. 7. Michigan After a rebuilding year in 2017, the Wolverines are poised for a rebound back into the top 10 in 2018. In order for Jim Harbaugh’s team to win the conference title, the offense needs to find stability under center. Brandon Peters struggled in the bowl loss to South Carolina, and he will be pushed by Dylan McCaffrey after a redshirt year and Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson (if granted immediate eligibility). The running back corps should be strong with the return of Karan Higdon, Chris Evans and Kareem Walker. And the receiving unit is in better shape than the 2017 version thanks to the return of Tarik Black from a season-ending injury. Black joins Grant Perry, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Kekoa Crawford and tight end Sean McKeon as key contributors in the passing game. Outside of the quarterback spot, the offensive line is Harbaugh’s top concern, as left tackle Mason Cole and center Patrick Kugler expire their eligibility. Will this group take a step forward? Don Brown’s defense should rank among the best in the nation once again. This unit is slated to return nearly intact, but tackle Maurice Hurst and linebacker Mike McCray depart to the NFL. Linebacker Devin Bush and end Rashan Gary should push for All-American honors, with Khaleke Hudson (LB) and cornerback Lavert Hill returning as key contributors. Michigan’s schedule is challenging. Road games await at Notre Dame, Northwestern, Michigan State and Ohio State. Additionally, the Wolverines catch Wisconsin in crossover play. 8. Wisconsin The Badgers were on the doorstep of making the CFB Playoff in 2017 and will be heavy favorites to win the Big Ten West Division once again. Coach Paul Chryst’s offense can lean on running back Jonathan Taylor after a standout freshman campaign, and quarterback Alex Hornibrook is poised to take another step forward as a junior. Hornibrook loses favorite target Troy Fumagalli, but Quintez Cephus, A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis and Kendric Pryor form one of the Big Ten’s top receiving corps. And as usual, Wisconsin should be strong in the trenches. Second-year coordinator Jim Leonhard has to retool a defense that led the Big Ten in scoring defense at 13.9 points a game allowed. Ends Alec James and Conor Sheehy, linebackers Garret Dooley and Leon Jacobs and defensive backs Derrick Tindal and Natrell Jamerson expire their eligibility. Additionally, cornerback Nick Nelson declared for the NFL Draft, but the good news is that standout linebacker T.J. Edwards has already announced he is returning for his senior season. Wisconsin’s 2018 schedule features road trips to Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue. 9. Auburn Auburn ended Alabama’s three-year run at the top of the SEC West in 2017. Can coach Gus Malzahn’s team make it two in a row? This team has enough to knock off the Crimson Tide once again, but trips to Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama form a challenging road slate. Additionally, the opener against Washington won’t be easy. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham returns after an impressive debut, and the passing game should thrive with the return of the top five pass catchers from 2017, including Ryan Davis (76 catches) and Darius Slayton (23.9 ypc). Running back Kerryon Johnson earned SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors by Athlon Sports but decided to leave early for the NFL. With Johnson off to the next level, Kam Martin, Malik Miller, Devan Barrett and incoming freshman Asa Martin will compete for carries. Malzahn’s biggest concern rests up front. The Tigers lose All-America guard Braden Smith, while center Casey Dunn and tackles Austin Golson and Darius James expire their eligibility. Assuming edge rusher Jeff Holland and cornerback Carlton Davis return for their senior year, Auburn should have one of the SEC’s top defenses once again. Look for juniors Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown to emerge as one of the SEC’s best defensive linemen next fall. 10. Michigan State The Spartans were one of college football’s most improved teams in 2017, increasing their win total by seven games from 2016. Can coach Mark Dantonio’s team challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten East Division title in 2018? The hopes of a trip to Indianapolis start with quarterback Brian Lewerke. As a sophomore in 2017, he threw for 20 touchdowns and 2,793 yards and added 559 yards and five scores on the ground. Running back LJ Scott already announced his intentions to return in 2018, and the senior-to-be will anchor a backfield that also features Madre London (304 yards). Lewerke will lose starting center Brian Allen, but four other starters return up front. The receiving corps is also a bright spot, as Felton Davis (55 catches), Darrell Stewart (50) and Cody White (35) all return in 2018. The defense only gave up 20 points a game in 2017 and returns nearly intact. End Demetrius Cooper and linebacker Chris Frey are the lone seniors set to depart this group, with linebacker Joe Bachie, end Kenny Willekes, safety David Dowell and cornerback Josiah Scott forming a strong foundation. The Spartans also have a favorable schedule. Dantonio’s team misses Wisconsin in crossover play and catches Michigan and Ohio State in East Lansing. 11. Penn State After winning 14 games in his first two seasons at Penn State, coach James Franklin has guided the Nittany Lions to 22 victories and back-to-back trips to New Year’s Six Bowls. In order for Penn State to reach that level once again in 2018, Franklin’s team will have to fill a couple of voids, none bigger than at running back in replacing Saquon Barkley. Former five-star recruit Miles Sanders should be a standout performer at running back, but Barkley’s all-around big-play ability will be missed. With Barkley off to the NFL, the offense will lean a little more on quarterback Trace McSorley. As a junior in 2017, he completed 3,570 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 491 yards and 11 scores. McSorley’s receivers will look a little different, as DaeSean Hamilton (53 catches) and standout tight end Mike Gesicki have finished their eligibility. In addition to the personnel turnover, this unit will be under the direction of a new play-caller in Ricky Rahne after Joe Moorhead left to be the head coach at Mississippi State. The defense only gave up 4.77 yards a play in 2017, but coordinator Brent Pry will have some key players to replace. Linebacker Jason Cabinda, safety Marcus Allen and cornerback Grant Haley each expire their eligibility. The Nittany Lions should have a strong front with the return of Shareef Miller, Shaka Toney and Kevin Givens in the trenches. Additionally, cornerback John Reid is back after missing all of 2017 due to an injury suffered in the spring. Penn State has a road trip at Michigan but games against Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin take place in Happy Valley. 12. Washington The Huskies are coming off back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 1990-91. In order to reach that level in 2017, coach Chris Petersen will have to fill a couple of key voids on both sides of the ball. The offense will have a new play-caller (Bush Hamdan) after Jonathan Smith left to be the head coach at Oregon State. Hamdan has a solid core to build around on offense with the return of quarterback Jake Browning, tackle Trey Adams and tight end Hunter Bryant. Running back Myles Gaskin has posted three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and is contemplating a jump to the NFL. Even if Gaskin returns, Salvon Ahmed should see a bigger role in the offense after rushing for 388 yards and three scores on 61 carries in 2017. The Huskies need to develop more playmakers for Browning on the outside after Dante Pettis (63 receptions) expired his eligibility after the Fiesta Bowl. A healthy Chico McClatcher and the addition of freshman Marquis Spiker will alleviate some of the concern at receiver. Washington has led the Pac-12 in scoring defense in each of Petersen’s three years in Seattle. This group must replace standout lineman Vita Vea, linebacker Keishawn Bierria and safety Ezekiel Turner. However, coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski returns plenty of talent to build around, including linebacker Ryan Bowman, cornerback Byron Murphy and safety Taylor Rapp. Don’t expect a drastic drop in production on defense. Most importantly for Washington: Stanford visits Seattle next fall. 13. USC Depending on what transpires with quarterback Sam Darnold’s status and the NFL Draft, the Trojans could move up a couple of spots on this list. If Darnold returns to campus, USC should be in the mix to be a top-10 team in 2018. However, if Darnold leaves for the NFL, the gap between the Trojans and the rest of the Pac-12 South should close a bit. Coach Clay Helton’s team is also awaiting draft decisions from running back Ronald Jones II and receiver Deontay Burnett. Regardless of what transpires with those two players in 2018, the Trojans have a pair of promising freshmen poised to take on a larger role next season in receiver Tyler Vaughns and running back Stephen Carr. The offensive line had its share of ups and downs in 2017 but all five starters are slated to return next fall. Assuming they don’t jump to the NFL, linebacker Cameron Smith and lineman Rasheem Greene will be the leaders for Helton’s defense in 2018. However, this unit will miss linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and must tighten up in the secondary after giving up 13 pass plays of 40 or more yards (tied for 10th most in the Pac-12). 14. Stanford It’s a toss up between Washington and Stanford for the early No. 1 spot in the Pac-12 North. The biggest factor in picking the favorite in the North Division could rest on whether or not running back Bryce Love decides to play for the Cardinal next year or leave for the NFL. Quarterback K.J. Costello returns after a solid debut for coach David Shaw, as he threw for 1,573 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 appearances. Costello has a stocked group of options to throw to next fall, including JJ Arcega-Whiteside (nine touchdown catches), Trenton Irwin (43) and tight end Kaden Smith. The Cardinal should have one of the nation’s top offensive lines next fall, as guard/tackle David Bright is the lone departure from a group that allowed only 17 sacks in 2017. Additionally, former top recruit Walker Little returns to anchor one of the tackle spots after missing a chunk of time due to injury. Stanford’s defense allowed 5.98 yards per play in 2017, which was its highest mark over the last 10 seasons. Coordinator Lance Anderson will have some work to do this offseason to get the defense back to the top of the Pac-12. That task won’t be easy if cornerback Quenton Meeks, safety Justin Reid and tackle Harrison Phillips depart for the NFL. Linebacker Bobby Okereke (96 tackles) should rank among the Pac-12’s top returning defenders for 2018. 15. Notre Dame After a disappointing 2016 season, the Fighting Irish rebounded with a 10-win campaign in 2017. Can Notre Dame take another step forward and compete for a CFB Playoff berth next fall? Coach Brian Kelly’s team will find out right away where it stacks up with an opener against Michigan, along with a date against Stanford on Sept. 29. The schedule also features matchups at Virginia Tech and USC, along with a home game against Florida State in mid-November. After Ian Book guided the Fighting Irish to a bowl win over LSU, the sophomore-to-be will compete with Brandon Wimbush for the starting quarterback job. Running back Josh Adams and receiver Equanimeous St. Brown could leave early for the NFL, which would add to the question marks on offense. Standout left tackle Mike McGlinchey finished his eligibility after the Citrus Bowl, and All-America guard Quenton Nelson is leaving South Bend early for the NFL. The arrival of coordinator Mike Elko provided a boost for the defense in 2017, and this unit limited opponents to 21.5 points a game. Another step forward is within reach next fall for the Fighting Irish. Linebacker Te’von Coney and lineman Jerry Tillery could bolt early to the NFL, but Drue Tranquill, Julian Love and Nick Coleman return to anchor the secondary. Additionally, Navy transfer Alohi Gilman should be an impact addition at safety. 16. Virginia Tech With quarterback Josh Jackson expected to take a step forward in his development this offseason, the Hokies should be poised to make another run at the Coastal Division title. Jackson threw for 2,991 yards and 20 scores and rushed for 324 yards and six touchdowns in a standout freshman campaign in 2017. Restocking the offensive line and developing a few playmakers will be the top priorities this offseason for coach Justin Fuente. Deshawn McClease and Steven Peoples are a promising duo at running back, while Sean Savoy, Eric Kumah, Phil Patterson and Caleb Farley will be asked to step up at receiver to replace Cam Phillips. Additionally, Ball State transfer Damon Hazelton could be an impact player after catching 51 passes for the Cardinals in 2016. Guard Wyatt Teller is the biggest loss on a line that must replace three starters. The defense will be anchored by the standout tackle duo of Ricky Walker and Tim Settle, but the unit is set to lose standout cornerback Greg Stroman and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is considering an early jump to the NFL. Even with a few departures, Virginia Tech’s defense isn’t likely to suffer too much on the stat sheet with Bud Foster calling the plays. 17. Florida State It's is a new start for Florida State football with Willie Taggart at the controls. Taggart is a strong hire for the Seminoles, and the program is due to rebound after a 7-6 record in Jimbo Fisher’s last year in 2017. Taggart’s first priority this spring is to sort out the quarterback battle between Deondre Francois and James Blackman. Francois suffered a season-ending leg injury against Alabama in Week 1, while Blackman started the next 12 contests as a true freshman and threw for 2,230 yards and 19 scores. Regardless of which quarterback starts, there will be changes to the overall scheme and tempo under Taggart’s watch. Cam Akers (1,025 yards in 2017) returns after a strong freshman season, and he’s joined by Jacques Patrick (735 yards) to form a potent duo in the backfield. Assuming tight end Ryan Izzo is the only early departure to the NFL, Florida State could return three out of its top four pass catchers from 2017. The offensive line returns nearly intact, but this group needs to take a step forward after giving up 32 sacks last season. End Josh Sweat and safety Derwin James have already declared for the NFL Draft, and the defense is set to lose linebackers Matthew Thomas and Ro’Derrick Hoskins and tackle Derrick Nnadi. However, the cupboard isn’t bare. End Brian Burns, tackle Demarcus Christmas and cornerback Levonta Taylor provide a foundation to build around for Florida State’s new defensive coordinator in 2018. Clemson visits Tallahassee next year, but Taggart’s debut features road trips to Notre Dame, Louisville, NC State and Miami. 18. Texas After Oklahoma, the Big 12 appears to be wide open in the middle of the league. Will the Longhorns emerge as the biggest threat to the Sooners? Or is this team another year away? Coach Tom Herman reeled in a standout class on the early signing period, so help is on the way for a team losing five key players to the NFL Draft. Linebacker Malik Jefferson, punter Michael Dickson, safety DeShon Elliott, cornerback Holton Hill and tackle Connor Williams leave big shoes to fill next fall. While the Longhorns averaged only 5.2 yards a play in 2017, the offense should improve next fall. Herman’s team returns two quarterbacks with starting experience (Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger), running back Daniel Young and the team’s top three receiving targets. Finding a replacement for Williams at left tackle and generating overall better play from the line that gave up 34 sacks has to be a priority this offseason. Coordinator Todd Orlando is one of the best defensive minds in college football and should keep the defense playing at a high level despite some key players moving onto the NFL. The schedule also is manageable for Herman’s team. The Longhorns open the year with a neutral-site game against Maryland and have road trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma State on tap. However, USC, TCU, West Virginia and Iowa State all visit Austin next year. 19. LSU Ed Orgeron completed his first full season at the helm in Baton Rouge with a 9-4 mark. LSU had its share of ups and downs in 2017, which included a home loss to Troy, a bowl defeat to Notre Dame but also resulted in a 27-23 win over Auburn and a 6-2 mark in league play. But Orgeron and this team enter 2018 with some significant question marks to address. Most importantly, who will be the offensive coordinator? And regardless of who calls the plays, this offense will have a new starting quarterback after Danny Etling expired his eligibility, and running back Derrius Guice could leave early for the NFL. The receiving corps is a question mark after DJ Chark (35 catches) expired his eligibility but should get a boost with Texas Tech transfer Jonathan Giles. Assuming center Will Clapp and tackle Toby Weathersby return, the line will become a strength for the offense next fall. While the offense is unsettled, LSU will be among the best in the SEC on defense. Cornerback Greedy Williams is a rising star in the secondary, and linebacker Devin White should challenge for All-America honors. The Tigers are losing a couple of key seniors in the trenches, but Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko will provide immediate help. LSU’s schedule is tough, starting with a neutral site game against Miami in Week 1, followed by road dates against Auburn and Florida before November. The Tigers also host Georgia and Alabama next fall. 20. Boise State The Broncos should open 2018 as the preseason favorite to claim the Group of 5 bowl spot in the New Year’s Six. Boise State got off to a slow start in 2017 but improved throughout the season, eventually finishing 11-3 with a win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Coach Bryan Harsin’s team will miss receiver Cedrick Wilson, tight end Jake Roh and center Mason Hampton from an offense that averaged 32.5 points a game. Quarterback Brett Rypien (2,877 yards, 16 TDs) is back to lead the way on offense, and running back Alexander Mattison also returns after rushing for 1,086 yards and 12 touchdowns. Standout linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is departing early for the NFL, but the rest of the defensive core returns intact. Boise State limited opponents to 22.9 points a game in 2017 and could lower that total next fall. Road trips to Troy and Oklahoma State dot the non-conference slate, but Colorado State, Fresno State and San Diego State each visit the blue turf in the regular season. 21. Mississippi State New coach Joe Moorhead is stepping into a favorable roster situation for his first year in Starkville. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald returns after accumulating 230.5 total yards a game in 2017 and should be healed from a season-ending leg injury suffered against Ole Miss by fall workouts. Even if Fitzgerald is slowed in his recovery, backup Keytaon Thompson impressed as a true freshman in his absence by beating Louisville in the TaxSlayer Bowl. After developing one of the nation’s top offenses at Penn State, Moorhead should have no trouble utilizing the returning skill talent, including running backs Aeris Williams (1,107 yards) and Kylin Hill (393) and receivers Jesse Jackson, Keith Mixon and Malik Dear. Standout left tackle Martinas Rankin departs, but the Bulldogs return four other starters in the trenches. New coordinator Bob Shoop is a veteran of the SEC after stints at Vanderbilt and Tennessee. He inherits a group that limited opponents to just 20.9 points a game and featured only two seniors among its top 10 tacklers in 2017. Lineman Jeffery Simmons, linebackers Leo Lewis and Gerri Green and rush end Montez Sweat (if he doesn’t leave for the NFL) will lead the way for Shoop’s defense in 2018. 22. West Virginia With a healthy Will Grier under center, the Mountaineers should easily rebound from their 7-6 record in 2017. Grier should be in the mix for preseason All-America honors after throwing for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns in 11 contests in his debut in Morgantown. Grier returns two out of his top three receivers from 2017, including Gary Jennings (97 catches) and David Sills (18 TD receptions). Leading rusher Justin Crawford (1,061 yards) expired his eligibility, but Kennedy McKoy (596 yards), Martell Pettaway and Tevin Bush should be a capable trio in the backfield. The offensive line loses guard Kyle Bosch, but the rest of the line returns intact, including left tackle Yodny Cajuste. After finishing second in the Big 12 in scoring defense in 2016, West Virginia slipped to seventh in '17. The 2018 unit has the pieces in place to improve, especially with David Long returning at linebacker and four out of the top seven tacklers coming back to Morgantown. The Mountaineers will miss safety Kyzir White and linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton from a defense that gave up 204.2 rushing yards a game in 2017. Coach Dana Holgorsen’s team won’t have many breaks on its 2018 slate, as a neutral site matchup against Tennessee takes place in Week 1, followed by a road trip to NC State on Sept. 15. The Mountaineers also play at Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma State. 23. Oregon The Mario Cristobal era officially begins in Eugene in 2018. While Cristobal worked as the Oregon head coach for the Las Vegas Bowl, this offseason is his first opportunity to put his stamp on the program. Cristobal isn’t taking over a major rebuilding project either, as this team has enough talent to push for eight or nine wins next fall. Running back Royce Freeman expired his eligibility after the 2017 season, but the offense should continue to thrive behind quarterback Justin Herbert. With Freeman moving on, Tony Brooks-James and Darrian Felix are the top options at running back, while the receiving corps is set to lose Charles Nelson (32 catches in 2017). The Ducks are set to return four starters up front, with left tackle Tyrell Crosby the lone departure from the starting group in the Las Vegas Bowl. Coordinator Jim Leavitt helped Oregon cut its scoring defense average from 41.4 points per game in 2016 to 29 in 2017. Keeping Leavitt in Eugene was a priority, and the former USF head coach is back for 2018. Leavitt’s work with the defense should continue next fall, as the Ducks return standouts in linebacker Troy Dye and linebacker Jalen Jelks, along with cornerback Thomas Graham after a promising freshman campaign. A key scheduling note for Oregon in 2018: Stanford and Washington both visit Eugene. 24. Kansas State The biggest question mark for Kansas State was resolved on Jan. 2, as coach Bill Snyder decided to return for another year. Snyder’s return ensures the Wildcats will push for a spot in the preseason NCAA football top 25. The bad news for Snyder? Cornerback D.J. Reed and receiver Byron Pringle decided to leave early for the NFL Draft. The overall formula for Kansas State won’t change in 2018. This offense is going to lean on its ground game, which features two talented quarterbacks vying for the starting job in Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson, along with running back Alex Barnes (819 yards). The offensive line should be one of the best in the Big 12 with all five starters returning, including standout right tackle Dalton Risner. In addition to Reed’s departure, the defense loses All-Big 12 tackle Will Geary and two starting linebackers (Jayd Kirby and Trent Tanking). 25. Florida Dan Mullen’s arrival in Gainesville should provide some immediate help for an offense that has ranked 11th or worse in scoring in the SEC over the last three years. Mullen’s first priority is to find a quarterback, and the answer could come in the form of true freshman Emory Jones. Regardless of who starts under center, the Gators will have a better scheme and direction than previous seasons. Additionally, Lamical Perine (562 yards) returns to lead the ground game, and receiver Tyrie Cleveland (18.6 ypc) is back to anchor the receiving corps. The offensive line has plenty of room for improvement after giving up 37 sacks last fall. The defense gave up 27.3 points a game in 2017, but new coordinator Todd Grantham could quickly get this group back on track. Standout cornerback Duke Dawson has finished his career in Gainesville, and the defensive line lost Taven Bryan to the NFL a year early. The Gators could lose another player or two to the draft but are expected to regain the services of safety Marcell Harris after he missed all of 2017 due to an Achilles tear. The schedule works in Mullen’s advantage for a quick turnaround. Florida plays its first three games at home and won’t leave the state of Florida for its final five games. Also, the crossover game against LSU takes place in Gainesville. An 8-4 debut is certainly within reach for Mullen. Other Teams to Watch Arizona Rich Rodriguez is out, but the Wildcats return a ton of young talent, including quarterback Khalil Tate. FAU The Owls enter 2018 riding a 10-game winning streak and are slated to meet Oklahoma in an intriguing Sept. 1 matchup in Norman. Running back Devin Singletary returns to make another run at All-America honors, and FAU’s defense doesn’t feature a senior among its top 10 tacklers from 2017. The biggest concern for Lane Kiffin’s team is replacing three interior starters from the offensive line. Fresno State Under Jeff Tedford’s direction, Fresno State improved its win total by nine games compared to 2016. The Bulldogs lose a few pieces in the trenches, but quarterback Marcus McMaryion and standout linebacker Jeffrey Allison return. Fresno State should have an edge over San Diego State in the Mountain West’s West Division again next fall. Iowa State The Cyclones showed marked improvement in coach Matt Campbell’s second year by finishing 8-5 and earning a victory over Memphis in the Liberty Bowl. Another step forward in 2018 is within reach, especially with running back David Montgomery leading the way on offense. Louisville Quarterback Lamar Jackson is expected to enter the NFL Draft. However, if Jackson returns for one more year, the Cardinals should be in the college football top 25. Missouri The Tigers finished 2016 by winning their last six regular season contests before falling to Texas in their bowl game. The big question surrounding this team for 2018 is whether or not quarterback Drew Lock comes back for his senior year or leaves for the NFL. If Lock returns, Missouri could begin the year in the top 25. Also, coach Barry Odom has to hire a new play-caller after Josh Heupel took over the head coaching job at UCF. NC State The Wolfpack are coming off their best season (9-4) since winning nine games in 2010. However, the defensive line must be restocked, and quarterback Ryan Finley has yet to declare his intentions for next year. Oklahoma State The Cowboys have won at least 10 games in four out of the last five years. Hitting the double-digit victory total again in 2018 is a tough assignment for coach Mike Gundy, as the dynamic duo of quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington have finished their eligibility. Gundy’s team still returns a good chunk of talent, including running back Justice Hill and receiver Dillon Stoner. Purdue The Boilermakers suffer a few losses on defense, but it's safe to assume coach Jeff Brohm will find some of the right answers this offseason. Both quarterbacks that played in 2017 - David Blough and Elijah Sindelar - are recovering from significant leg injuries suffered during the regular season. South Carolina The Gamecocks quietly won nine games in 2017. In order for this team to take the next step, coach Will Muschamp has to find an offensive coordinator to help develop quarterback Jake Bentley and improve an attack that averaged 24.2 points a game. Receiver Deebo Samuel returns to the team after missing most of 2017 due to injury. Each level of the defense has talent to replace, while the offense loses two starters up front and tight end Hayden Hurst. TCU A year after finishing 6-7, the Horned Frogs rebounded to a second-place finish in the Big 12 with an 11-3 record. Maintaining the 11-win mark could be tough in 2018, especially with an offense set to lose four starters up front, quarterback Kenny Hill and running back Kyle Hicks. Shawn Robinson made one start as a true freshman in 2017 and opens spring ball as the favorite to take the first snap over four-star recruit Justin Rogers, who is recovering from an injury suffered as a high school senior. Darius Anderson (768 yards) and Sewo Olonilua (637) form a solid one-two punch in the backfield for 2018. And at receiver, Jalen Reagor (33 grabs) is a future star in Fort Worth. Just like the offense, TCU’s defense has some significant voids to fill this offseason. Cornerback Ranthony Texada, safety Nick Orr, linebacker Travin Howard and end Mat Boesen top the list of personnel departures. Defensive end Ben Banogu, tackle Ross Blacklock and safety Niko Small will headline the effort on defense next fall. Texas A&M New coach Jimbo Fisher inherits a young roster with room to improve, but the Aggies lost receiver Christian Kirk to the NFL and face a tough September slate in 2018. UCF The Knights were the only FBS team to finish the 2017 season unbeaten and capped the year with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Scott Frost left for Nebraska, but new coach Josh Heupel inherits a strong core to build around, including quarterback McKenzie Milton. However, the front seven on defense loses a couple of key cogs, including linebacker Shaquem Griffin. UCLA Chip Kelly’s arrival adds intrigue to UCLA, but the Bruins have to transition to a new scheme and are expected to lose quarterback Josh Rosen to the NFL. New quarterback Devon Modster showed flashes of promise in limited action in 2017. Utah The Utes must replace a couple of key defenders and receiver Darren Carrington, but quarterback Tyler Huntley is back after averaging 294.8 total yards a game in his first season as the starter.
  21. Here’s the Cure: Shawn Elliott vs. Steve Spurrier Jr. in bowl showdown of ex-USC coaches December 13, 2017 On Nov. 25, after winning six of its previous seven games, Shawn Elliott’s Georgia State football team lost 31-10 to Appalachian State. Shortly, thereafter, Elliott got some hate mail. “Some” being the key word. Really, it was “a couple tweets,” but it was comforting in a way for the former South Carolina assistant coach and interim head coach. “I said ‘Hey guys, we must be doing something right. They are starting to care. There are people who are starting to take notice and they are starting to vent. We want that because we want people to have that much passion for our football program,’ ” Elliott said. Elliott, a Camden native, spent seven seasons at South Carolina before taking over the Georgia State program this year. He was Steve Spurrier’s offensive line coach for five-and-a-half seasons, then served as the Gamecocks interim head coach after Spurrier’s resignation, and then spent one year as offensive line coach under current South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp before leaving to go to Georgia State. He inherited a program in its eighth year of existence that had a 10-39 record since joining FBS football in 2013, and now he’s taking the Panthers to their second bowl game in history. “I didn’t set any goals or have any expectations,” Elliott said. “What we did was try to take it day by day and change the culture and learn how to fight and kind of will ourselves to victories. We were not blessed with a bunch of very talented players but we have some players who will work and they learned to fight through the course of the year.” The Panthers (6-5) will play Western Kentucky (6-6) in the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday. The Hilltoppers offense is coordinated by Steve Spurrier Jr., who was on South Carolina’s staff as wide receivers coach for the duration of Elliott’s career with the Gamecocks. “We exchanged texts and talked about what we were going to do when we saw each other down there,” Elliott said. “It’s interesting seeing him on the other sideline.” The stakes will be different from the last time the two shared a field, though. “When you play in the SEC, all eyes are on you. Everything you do, whatever you say, you get critiqued every single minute, whether it’s a spring scrimmage or a fall scrimmage and of course game day,” Elliott said. “We just go out there and really enjoy the game of football. These players don’t have to worry about all that outside influence stuff and they can really focus on the game itself. Sometimes you can get caught up in that social media hoopla and all that stuff and it takes your mind off things. I am telling you, it’s just ball here. That’s what’s really good about it.” The Panthers, who had an early season game against Memphis canceled, are guaranteed their first non-losing season in school history and could notch the program’s first bowl win this year. They finished 3-9 a year ago. “You probably think I’m lying, but I haven’t had a moment where something has come up and surprised me or shocked me,” Elliott said. “When you do this for so long and you have been preparing for a long time, you have kind of been preparing for every scenario. I haven’t had that moment where I am speechless or shell-shocked. It has been a real smooth transition.” Despite moving to Atlanta, Elliott has retained a presence in South Carolina, at least on the recruiting trail. Four of Georgia State’s 17 commitments for the Class of 2018 are from the Palmetto State. “We have really stressed the state of South Carolina because I have seen so many players who are not recruited as heavily as you might expect,” Elliott said, “and I see a lot of great players either somehow, someway go to the FCS level and they are fantastic guys.” THE STATE
  22. Rice ready to name next head coach and it is not Gamecock co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper December 05, 2017 According to Yahoo’s Pete Thamel, Rice has made a decision on its next head coach, and it’s not the South Carolina football team’s offensive play-caller. Gamecock co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper, a Rice graduate, was recently linked to his alma mater as a candidate for the vacancy at head coach. On Tuesday morning, Thamel tweeted that Mike Bloomgren, Stanford’s offensive coordinator, was expected to receive the job. Roper, who’s spent the last two seasons calling plays for South Carolina’s offense, has also made coaching stops at Tennessee, Ole Miss, Duke and Florida. He spent one season as an offensive assistant for the Cleveland Browns, before Will Muschamp hired him to co-coordinate the Gamecocks offense with wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon. On Sunday, Muschamp would “not get into speculation” about Roper’s future at South Carolina. Muschamp said “sure,” when asked if he expected Roper to still be on staff for the Outback Bowl against Michigan. This season, South Carolina has averaged 24.1 points per game, which is tied for 98th in the country with Maryland. The Gamecocks 212.9 passing yard average is 79th. On the ground, rushed for 125.25 yards per game, which is 108th. “We need to be more productive, offensively,” Muschamp said. “There’s no doubt about that and I think that’d be the first thing [Roper would] tell you as well.”
  23. Texas A&M coaching change means Jimbo Fisher at Williams-Brice in 2018 December 01, 2017 South Carolina’s next chance to break through with a win over Texas A&M will come in 2018 against a new head coach for the Aggies. Jimbo Fisher has resigned as Florida State’s head coach and will be named to the same position at Texas A&M, according to multiple reports Friday. Fisher was 83-23 in eight seasons at Florida State. He led the Seminoles to the national championship in 2013, three ACC titles and four ACC Atlantic Division crowns. Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin after six winning seasons.
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