10 things we learned from the college football season

The college football season is officially over. But that won’t stop some of us from watching Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney’s post-national championship press conference on repeat while listening to “Sweet Home Alabama” and gorging ourselves on South Carolina BBQ.

It was a wild ride with an ending that absolutely no one expected, and you are kidding yourself if you didn’t love every moment of it.  From the upsets, to the underwhelming performances, to the GIF’s for the ages — the 2018 college football season will forever be trapped in a glass case of emotion.

Here are 10 things we learned from it all:

1) You will never love anything as much as Swinney loves football. And his faith. The newly minted national champion Clemson head coach isn’t afraid to let people know that the Tigers final victory was due in large part to God working through them. “Only God could do this,” exclaimed Swinney in the postgame press conference. “A Hollywood movie Steve Spielberg or whoever one of them producer people are, they couldn’t write this script. They really couldn’t. Only God can do this.” Surely a higher power is at work, as the Tigers are the first 15-0 champion in 121 years.

2) Texas is back. I know. We have said this a few times over the course of this tumultuous season, but this time it’s for real. The Longhorns capped their first double-digit winning season this decade with a 28-21 Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who ran for three touchdowns and threw for 169 yards, had a message for Longhorn Nation after the game:

 

3) But Jim Harbaugh isn’t. I mean physically he is; he vehemently denied rumors yet again that he would be leaving for the NFL. Fans were less than thrilled this time around with the news that Harbaugh intended to stay. Might it be because that 11th win continues to elude the Wolverines? Or was it the 41-15 smackdown they received at the hands of Florida in this year’s Peach Bowl? One thing is for sure: That 62-39 loss to Ohio State is harder to explain now. Harbaugh is struggling to change Michigan’s ability to perform well on a big stage. Luckily, there’s always next year.

4) The Playoff format is fine. Dabo said it, so therefore it’s undeniably true. But I agree with him, mostly because as it turned out we didn’t need a bigger field — all the best teams were exactly where they were supposed to be. Swinney spoke out about how expanding the Playoff could diminish the value of non-Playoff bowl games. He also said that expanding the Playoff would put less meaning on the regular season, and to some degree he’s right. There are those who would argue that because he is on the inside looking out, his words don’t carry as much weight — or that Playoff expansion is really about the fans. But this year was proof that the fans got exactly what they deserved.

5) The Pac-12 wheel of death will never stop turning over. The Conference of Champions went a dismal 3-4 in this year’s bowl season, which is a far cry from last year’s 1-8 record but is still not impressive enough to win anybody over. Oregon defeated Michigan State with ONE fourth-quarter touchdown, Stanford beat Pittsburgh with an end-zone fumble and Washington State put down Iowa State in the Alamo Bowl with three touchdowns and nearly 300 yards from quarterback Gardner Minshew. The conference is a mess, top to bottom. From the Larry Scott issues to the cannibalistic tendencies of the teams, it is clear that some major changes need to be made:

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6.) People just need to stop trying to make Notre Dame happen. It’s not going to happen. Not in the capacity that everyone thinks, at least. Yes the Fighting Irish made the College Football Playoff field, but after one quarter against Clemson it was clear that Brian Kelly’s squad left a lot to be desired. In fact, the Tigers went 27-0 in the remaining three quarters against Notre Dame. Quarterback Ian Book was off rhythm, and the Clemson pass rush proved too much. So next time you want to say Notre Dame is ready for a national title, just don’t.

7.) Mascot Fights are the new Twitter feuds. And yes, I’m talking about Bevo charging Uga prior to the Texas vs. Georgia Sugar Bowl. The 1,600-pound longhorn bull went after Uga X during what was supposed to be a friendly photo opp. This exchange sparked PETA to revive its argument against universities using live mascots. But at the end of the day, live mascots are part of the rich tradition woven into the college football tapestry and the animals are well taken care of. Uga has his own air-conditioned doghouse at Sanford Stadium for goodness sake:

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By Emily Van Buskirk

 

9 things we learned about college football this weekend

Texas G Courtney Ramey will provide ball handling and toughness for the Horns

The St. Louis product brings an array of skills into his freshman campaign.

In late April, the Texas Longhorns added the final piece to head coach Shaka Smart’s recruiting class — point guard Courtney Ramey, a top-50 player nationally and the highest-rated commit of the cycle.

With the sanctions at the University of Louisville involving formerly known head coach Rick Pitino and consistent pursuit on the recruiting trail, the Longhorns ended up snatching Courtney Ramey late in the recruiting process to complete a top-10 class. The 6’3 170-pound guard from St. Louis (Miss.) was a vital addition for this program.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Courtney Ramey to our basketball program,” Smart said when Ramey signed. “He’s a terrific player with high competitive character that makes people around him better. We value the fact that Courtney is about relationships and winning. His playmaking ability and leadership tie together an already talented class.”

Smart and the rest of the Longhorns staff won Ramey over Louisville and Oklahoma State by maintaining a strong long-standing relationship with him.

“Coach Smart of the University of Texas and his staff has recruited me the longest and has always made me a top priority,” Ramey said in his announcement.

Ramey was the final piece to the puzzle from Texas’ 2018 recruiting class. He joined Gerald Liddell, Brock Cunningham, Jaxson Hayes, and Kamaka Hepa after announcing his decision in late April. Ramey was the highest-ranked signee from the class — ranking No. 43 nationally according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

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Texas Upsets #10 Notre Dame


Written by Andy Staples at SI.com

On a sweaty night in Austin, Texas coach Charlie Strong’s seat got a lot cooler. Here are three takeaways from the Longhorns’ 50–47 double overtime win against No. 10 Notre Dame.

1. Texas has a new starting quarterback (plus an intriguing situational guy), a new offense and new hope

After going 11–14 in his first two seasons in Austin, Strong overhauled his offense. He hired a thirtysomething offensive coordinator who hadn’t previously held playcalling duties. That coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, was brought in to install the offense made popular by a Big 12 rival (Baylor). On Sunday, Strong turned over the reins of that offense to a true freshman quarterback. If Sunday’s performance was any indication, the result may be more wins and some job security for Strong.

To keep his job, Strong needed the Longhorns to show improvement. They definitely did that. An offense that hasn’t clicked for seven years finally looked competent.

Texas also needed to win a tight game. Using freshman Shane Buechele as the starting, most-of-the-time quarterback and oft-maligned former starter Tyrone Swoopes to provide blunt-force trauma in short-yardage situations, the Longhorns finally overcame Notre Dame when Swoopes dove over the goal line in the second overtime.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, found its QB1 in DeShone Kizer. Unfortunately for coach Brian Kelly, he’ll have to explain why there was even a question as to whether Kizer or Malik Zaire would lead the offense.

2. Repeat, Texas has a starting quarterback who looks comfortable for the first time since Colt McCoy. And the short-yardage guy? He’s a load to tackle

In the Longhorns’ spring game, Buechele looked like he came out of the womb running coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s offense. But that was a spring game, where the coaches can set the circumstances to make a quarterback look good. This was real, and Buechele looked just as comfortable. The freshman completed 16 of 26 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and added 33 yards on the ground.

In his first series, Buechele led the Longhorns on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that lasted 182 seconds and ended with a brilliant catch by Armanti Foreman in the back of the end zone on a 19-yard fade. As the night wore on, it became clear Texas got exactly what it paid for when it hired away Gilbert and offensive line coach Matt Mattox from Tulsa. Gilbert and Mattox worked for former Art Briles assistant Philip Montgomery at Tulsa, and this absolutely is the offense Briles ran at Houston and Baylor.

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College Football Picks For Week 1

Written by Steve Silverman at Bleacher Reports.com

Football fans can finally start to breathe again.

NFL teams have been playing preseason games throughout August, but exhibition games mean little to most football fans.

The NFL is still more than a week away from getting started, but college football is here. The first full weekend of the season is upon us, and there are a slew of exciting matchups that should get the season off to a memorable start.

Let’s start with Alabama, the defending national champion and the No. 1 team in the country, according to the Associated Press’ preseason poll. The Crimson Tide are opening with a game against 20th-ranked USC at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The home of the Dallas Cowboys is supposed to be a neutral site, but the Southern venue is likely to draw a vast contingent of Tide fans.

Here’s a look at a complete schedule of this weekend’s action for teams in the AP Top 25 along with the latest odds from Odds Shark. We will also take a detailed look at three of the more interestingmatchups involving Top 25 teams.

USC at Alabama, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN3

Alabama certainly knows how to perform in Week 1. The Tide have won 14 straight season openers, including a big win over Wisconsin last year that set the tone for a remarkable season.

The Tide have a lot of work to do to get back to national championship form, and that includes re-establishing their running game. Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the NFL draft this April, and it will be up to sophomore rusher BoScarbrough to take his place.

Expect Scarbrough to get off to a good start here, and look for wide receiver CalvinRidley to complement his play by showing off his talent. On the other side of the ball, Alabama’s defense will assert itself as well.

The Trojans have also been dominant in Week 1 matchups. USC has won 18 straight season openers, although it rarely starts against big-time opponents. The only team from a power conference the Trojans have played in an opener since 2008 was Minnesota in 2011.

USC has given the ball to quarterback Max Browne, a talented passer with a bright future. However, he is likely to be under immense pressure from Alabama’s swarming defense.

The Trojans appear to have a solid defense that should be able to hold up throughout the majority of the game. However, Alabama will eventually wear this unit down and come up with a closer-than-expected win.

Prediction: Alabama 28, USC 21

Notre Dame at Texas, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN3

Notre Dame finds itself in a dangerous situation, as it will head to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas, to take on the Longhorns.

Texas is likely turning over its offense to true freshman ShaneBuechele, and if head coach Charlie Strong finalizes that decision, he will be the first true freshman to start for Texas since Bobby Layne did it in 1944.

Buechele has been competing for the starting job against senior Tyrone Swoopes, who has struggled in recent seasons. As a result, the public is behind the youngster.

Strong is not worried about public sentiment.

“The fans, they’ll be fine,” Strong told the Sports Xchange. “Both of those guys are competing. It’s been a great matchup. Our team’s going to know who the starting quarterback is.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is dividing the Irish’s signal-calling duties between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire. Kelly likes what both quarterbacks bring to the offense.

“They have both have been outstanding, they both make plays,” Kelly said. “They both are playmakers. We would just continue to practice and continue to see both of these guys make plays. So we’re going to play both of them at Texas.”

Notre Dame is the deeper, more talented team, but the Longhorns should be fired up at home in the opener. Look for a tight game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Texas 28

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Big 12 Open To Expansion


Written by Dennis Dodd at CBSSports.com

Almost lost in Tuesday’s shocking announcement of the Big 12’s expansion exploration was that Texas has apparently changed its mind and jumped on board.

At least for now.

Previously, it was the only school we knew for sure had an opinion on the subject. Oklahoma president David Boren has flip-flopped more than, well, David Boren.

Meanwhile, athletic director Mike Perrin stated in early June that Texas was not in favor of expansion. “The prudent thing [for the Big 12] to do is stay where we are,” Perrin told reporters.

What changed? When the presidents voted Tuesday to formally explore expansion, it was unanimous.

It seems that Texas has flipped. On Tuesday afternoon, the entire room full of Big 12 presidents followed with their own acrobatics.

So, what happened?

Texas can probably continue to control the process — right down to who gets in.What’s new, right?

“I’m open to expansion if the proposal is a strong one,” Texas president Greg Fenves said in a Wednesday statement. “The conference is actively evaluating the possibilities.”

That should be viewed as a positive. Read between the lines: Texas (and Oklahoma) are most comfortable in a conference it can win with like-minded universities in roughly the same geographic region.

Can Oklahoma win the SEC? Sure, but it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder. And a Bob Stoops probably isn’t winning nine titles in 17 years in the SEC. Can Texas win the Pac-12? Sure, but not without taking four-hour plane flights for some road games.

Suddenly, a Big 12 fortified with two or four more teams looks comfortable going forward for Texas and Oklahoma.

It’s will be less likely for the Big 12 to gain or lose members in the future. One source said that with the ACC’s grant of rights now extending out through 2036, it will be harder for the Big 12 to pluck or be plucked.

That includes Florida State and Clemson, which were rumored to be Big 12 targets if the ACC didn’t get its network, and Pac-12 targets that have been rumored like Arizona and Arizona State.

With that ACC Network, that takes 15 teams — including Notre Dame — out of the next great round of conference realignment. Because of that, there may not be a next great round of conference realignment.

NCAA West Region Preview


Written by Ken Bikoff at CampusInsiders.com

Oregon was somewhat surprising as a No. 1 seed, but the Ducks obviously impressed the selection committee enough to pull it down. Now the challenge becomes living up to the label.

The Pac-12 got a lot of love on Selection Sunday, and for the Ducks to win the regular-season league title and the Pac-12 Tournament title in such convincing fashion was something to behold. Their 31-point demolition of Utah in the championship game certainly showed what the Ducks are capable of.

The fact that there has been so much surprise over their landing a top seed could help Oregon. This has been an under-the-radar team all year, and with the clamor that they aren’t deserving of the honor, the Ducks could pull together and make a run.

Toughest call

The bracket is filled with intriguing games, from No. 8 Saint Joseph’s taking on No. 9 Cincinnati to No. 7 Oregon State battling No. 10 VCU. But for our money, we’re fascinated by the No. 6 Texas Longhorns taking on No. 11 Northern Iowa.

The Panthers have experience after playing in the NCAA Tournament last season, and they beat then-No. 1 North Carolina back in November. They also knocked off then-No. 5 Iowa State and beat Wichita State twice this season. UNI suffered a hiccup during conference play and were inconsistent for a stretch, but they closed the year on a 12-1 run and feature good balance.

Texas, meanwhile, has been through the wringer in the Big 12 and might take the Panthers a bit lightly. The Longhorns also have looked fatigued down the stretch, which could make them ripe for the picking.

Best possible second-round matchup

If No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Baylor both get through their first-round games, they’ll have a fantastic battle in Providence. Duke has been vulnerable this season, and although Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram have been great, they have been bothered by teams with good length. That’s exactly what Baylor brings to the floor, and the Bears are battle hardened after the tough Big 12 race. BU has been on the losing end of some games of late, but their competition has been top notch, and Baylor could be looking at pulling an upset.

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The Future of Charlie Strong at Texas

Written by Mike Abelson at Bloguin

Charlie Strong has been fighting an uphill battle since the moment he was hired as head coach at Texas. Boosters and the press questioned his ability to coach the Longhorns, despite going a combined 23-3 in his last two years at Louisville.

What did the Texas fans think would happen?

Strong has been left to suffocate under a mountain of obstacles that aren’t his creation, and it certainly doesn’t help that the athletic director who hired him is no longer there. Strong is stuck.

Everything came to a head Saturday in Fort Worth when TCU ran roughshod over the Horns for 60 minutes. Reports of players tweeting during halftime, including retweeting a tweet about transferring to Texas A&M, were the main talking points after the loss.

A decisive loss this weekend against Oklahoma might be enough to get Strong fired, despite having millions of dollars left on his contract. That’s not a guarantee or even a likelihood, but a 35-point bloodbath could create enough “noise in the system,” as the saying goes, to lead to a rash decision. All the doubters at Texas will be happy and they’ll work to find someone who “fits the Texas model.”

But who?

If Texas fires Strong after this season, or before this season ends, what’s the motivation for anyone to come and take the job? Texas seems delusional with its expectations. There is certainly ample talent available, but if no one is allowed to put his coaching stamp on the program, it won’t matter. Mike Krzyzewski didn’t win 20 games until his fourth year at Duke. Tom Landry didn’t have a winning season with the Dallas Cowboys until year seven. Coaches need time. Strong isn’t getting it.

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