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All taxonomy terms: College Football, syndicated, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/college-fantasy-football-2016-week-1-start-sit

Week 1 of the college football season is finally upon us and it is that time of the week to set your fantasy lineup. Each week here on, we will compile a few players per position that need to be either sure-fire starters or riding the pine.


Note: Obvious choices will not be given such as Deshaun Watson or Leonard Fournette as those players are starters regardless of the matchup.


Also below are the top 10 rankings for each position for the given week.




Start ’Em


Mike White, Western Kentucky vs. Rice
Brandon Doughty is not walking through that door, but this offense could be just as effective with White now under center. The former South Florida transfer won a tightly-contested quarterback battle this offseason and will get the Week 1 start against a Rice defense that finished 102nd a year ago against the pass. White also will have the benefit of a full complementary of receivers including Taywan Taylor, Nacarius Fant and Nicholas Norris, who combined for nearly 2,600 yards in 2015. This Western Kentucky offense has potential to finish in the top 10 in the country for a second straight year.


Kenny Potter, San Jose State vs. Tulsa
Potter closed the 2015 season on a tear with a combined 13 total touchdowns in his final four games, including three straight contests with three TD passes. Potter begins the 2016 campaign against a Tulsa defense that finished 125th in the country against the pass, allowing 297 yards per game,  including an FBS-high 89 plays of at least 20 yards. This matchup is expected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the weekend and Potter’s play will be a big reason why.


Sit’ Em


Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina vs. Georgia
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Trubisky’s upside this year in North Carolina’s potent offense. But this is a tough opening matchup against one of the best secondaries in the SEC in Georgia. Adding to that, Trubisky will be without big-play target Mack Hollins for the first half of Saturday’s matchup due to a helmet-to-helmet hit in last year’s bowl game against Baylor. Teams don’t typically fair well against the SEC in neutral-site openers and I think Trubisky could struggle in his first start.


Notre Dame Quarterbacks
This situation is frustrating on many fronts for college fantasy players as head coach Brian Kelly has yet to decide who will start Week 1 at Texas. Kelly did confirm both DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire will play, which is even more maddening because a clear-cut starter in Notre Dame’s offense would likely be a top-10 play this week. If you drafted either of these quarterbacks, hopefully a pecking order shakes out in the weeks to come, but at least for this week, I wouldn’t suggest having either quarterback in your starting lineup.


Top 10 Quarterbacks for Week 1:

Deshaun Watson, Clemson vs. Auburn
Luke Falk, Washington State vs. Eastern Washington
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State vs. Bowling Green
Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech vs. Stephen F. Austin
Lamar Jackson, Louisville vs. Charlotte
Kenny Potter, San Jose State vs. Tulsa
Brent Stockstill, Middle Tennessee State vs. Alabama A&M
Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma vs. Houston
Seth Russell, Baylor vs. Northwestern State
Matt Davis, SMU vs. North Texas


Running Backs


Start’ Em


Aaron Jones, UTEP vs. New Mexico State
After sitting out all but one game last season due to an ankle injury, Jones is set to return to action Saturday night against New Mexico State. As a sophomore, Jones was one of the best backs in the country with 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns while finishing in the top third in the FBS with 242 carries. The Miners employ a run-heavy offense that should feature Jones often against an Aggies defense that finished 2015 giving up 200-plus yards per game on the ground. Expect a big performance out of Jones in his 2016 debut.


Terence Williams, Baylor vs. Northwestern State
Baylor should jump out to a comfortable lead from the first whistle against Northwestern State, and don’t expect the Bears to put quarterback Seth Russell in harm’s way in a game that will likely result in a blowout victory. That means plenty of carries for the team’s stable of backs, including Williams, who was listed as a co-starter along with Shock Linwood on Baylor’s Week 1 depth chart. With Johnny Jefferson out indefinitely due to injuries suffered in a car accident earlier this month, expect Williams to handle the bulk of the workload this week.


Sit’ Em


Corey Clement, Wisconsin vs. LSU
Now fully healthy, something that couldn’t be said all of last season, Clement is expected to have a bounce-back year for the Badgers. It just won’t show this week against an LSU defense that is projected to be one of the best in the country in 2016. The Tigers return nine starters from a group that finished 17th in total rush defense, including three of the four along the defensive front. Also working against Clement is that LSU’s new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will know exactly how to scheme against Wisconsin’s ground attack after spending the previous three seasons on the Badgers’ staff. Clement will bounce back from a disappointing 2015 campaign; it just won’t be against the Tigers.


Ronald Jones II/Justin Davis, USC vs. Alabama
It’s no secret that the Trojans will run the ball early and often this year with their two-headed monster at running back. However, yards will be hard to come by Week 1 against the vaunted Alabama defense. In 2015, the Tide allowed just 76 yards per game on the ground, and this year’s version is said to be one of the fastest groups Nick Saban has had in some time. Add in that USC will be rolling out a first-year starter at quarterback and you can be assured that Alabama’s primary focus will be on limiting the ground game of the Trojans.


Top 10 Running Backs for Week 1:

Christian McCaffrey, Stanford vs. Kansas State
Jeremy McNichols, Boise State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Leonard Fournette, LSU vs. Wisconsin
Myles Gaskin, Washington vs. Rutgers
Aaron Jones, UTEP vs. New Mexico State
Joel Bouganon, Northern Illinois vs. Wyoming
Kareem Hunt, Toledo vs. Arkansas State
Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State vs. New Hampshire
Saquon Barkley, Penn State vs. Kent State
Royce Freeman, Oregon vs. UC Davis


Wide Receivers


Start ’Em


Steve Ishmael, Syracuse vs. Colgate
This layup of an opener against Colgate should be the perfect opportunity for new head coach Dino Babers to excite the fan base with his fast-paced, up-tempo offense. In each of the past two seasons with Bowling Green, Babers’ offense helped produce consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons for Roger Lewis and I expect that streak to continue this season with Ishmael, the clear-cut No. 1 target for the Orange. Two touchdowns is probably the floor for Ishmael this week unless Syracuse jumps out to such a big lead early on that his services are no longer needed.


Courtland Sutton, SMU vs. North Texas
While the arrow is certainly pointed in the right direction now for North Texas with new head coach Sean Littrell at the helm, the Mean Green will not be very good in 2016. Though North Texas does bring back six defensive starters from a year ago, including all four in the secondary, that is not necessarily a good thing as the unit gave up a school-record 502.6 yards per game (120th in the FBS) in 2015. SMU should rack up the points this week and Sutton, the Mustangs No. 1 target, will be one of the primary beneficiaries.


Sit ‘Em


Corey Davis, Western Michigan vs. Northwestern
Remember what Northwestern did last season in the opener? The Wildcats completely shut down Christian McCaffrey and Stanford, en route to top-15 finish for the year in total defense. Can Northwestern replicate that success in 2016 against arguably the best wide receiver in the country? Expect senior cornerback and potential All-Big Ten performer Matthew Harris to shadow Davis all game long in the hopes of limiting the big play.


Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas
Louisiana Tech announced earlier this week that redshirt freshman J’Mar Smith would get the start at quarterback against Arkansas after an impressive fall camp that saw him rise up the depth chart. That said, Smith likely would be the backup had senior Ryan Higgins not gotten suspended due to a DWI last month. Going on the road with a first-time starter at QB against an SEC defense in Arkansas that brings back plenty of experience in the secondary does not feel like a recipe for success. If possible, I would sit Taylor this week.


Top 10 Wide Receivers for Week 1:

Gabe Marks, Washington State vs. Eastern Washington
Richie James, Middle Tennessee State vs. Alabama A&M
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky vs. Rice
Courtland Sutton, SMU vs. North Texas
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
KD Cannon, Baylor vs. Northwestern State
Kenny Golladay, Northern Illinois vs. Wyoming
Steve Ishmael, Syracuse vs. Colgate
Mike Williams, Clemson vs. Auburn
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M vs. UCLA


— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeBainbridge2.

College Fantasy Football Week 1 Start or Sit
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/5-greatest-notre-dame-vs-texas-college-football-games-all-time

It is hard to believe that Texas is hoping to beat Notre Dame this Sunday for the first time since 1970. The Fighting Irish have a 9-2 lead in what has proven to be a very one-sided series between college football’s two most storied programs. Look no further than last year’s meeting, a 38-3 season-opening rout by Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.


Still, there have been some great games along the way, including two that secured a national championship for each program. Here are the five best.


5. Notre Dame 38, Texas 10

Dallas – Jan. 2, 1978

How’s this for national championship chaos? Top-ranked and undefeated Texas, led by running back Earl Campbell, had battered its competition en route to an undefeated regular season. With No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Alabama and No. 4 Michigan all committed to other bowls, the Longhorns signed to face No. 5 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. There Texas met an Irish defense that swarmed the Longhorns’ rushing attack, holding it 131 yards on the ground. Notre Dame’s offense, led by Joe Montana, had an easy day with six scoring drives of 50 yards or less. The overwhelming win prompted AP voters to move 11-1 Notre Dame ahead of Alabama, the only other team in the top five to win its bowl game, and crown the Irish national champions. Folks in Tuscaloosa are still bitter.


4. Texas 7, Notre Dame 6

South Bend, Ind. – Oct. 6, 1934

The Irish hosted Texas in Elmer Layden’s first game as head coach. In a typical war of attrition akin to 1930s football, Texas scored in the first quarter and Notre Dame responded with its own in the second, but Wayne Millner missed the extra point. Neither team scored in the second half and that missed PAT proved to be the outcome of the game. Texas’ program had been considered a power in the southwest for many years, but this win vaulted it into national prominence.


3. Notre Dame 24, Texas 11

Dallas – Jan. 1, 1971

The Longhorns went into the Cotton Bowl undefeated with a national championship in their grasp. The Irish were out of contention after having their defense shredded by USC a month earlier. With nothing to lose, Notre Dame stacked nine men on the line of scrimmage and dared Texas to abandon its wishbone attack and throw. The gamble worked and the Irish took a commanding 24-11 halftime lead and held it for the remainder of the game to clinch the upset.


2. Notre Dame 27, Texas 24

Austin, Texas – Sept. 21, 1996

Both teams were undefeated and ranked in the top 10 when they met early in the season. The Longhorns led 24-17 in the fourth quarter, but a ricocheted pass snagged by Irish linebacker Lyron Cobbins on the Texas 34-yard line gave Notre Dame new life. Facing fourth-and-goal, Irish running back Autry Denson sprinted five yards in the end zone with 2:54 left and the game now tied. A weak Texas punt gave Notre Dame the ball on its own 44-yard line with 59 seconds left and a 21-yard run by Denson and 13-yard pass from quarterback Ron Powlus to Malcom Johnson put the Irish on Texas’ 22-yard line. Jim Sanson sealed the game with a 39-yard field goal as time expired.


1. Texas 21, Notre Dame 17

Dallas – Jan. 1, 1970

The Irish decided to lift its “no bowl game policy” and the 1970 Cotton Bowl marked its first postseason appearance since 1925. Their return would be in one of the best bowl games of all-time. The two teams were evenly matched with Texas sporting a wishbone attack that amassed 331 yards on the ground and the Irish responding with a passing attack led by quarterback Joe Theismann. With 6:52 left in the fourth quarter, Theismann hit end Jim Yoder with a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Irish a 17-14 lead. Texas got the ball back on its own 24-yard line and put together a 76-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes and included two fourth-down conversions. Running back Billy Dale made it into the end zone with 1:08 left to give Texas the 21-17 lead and the national title. That is the last time Texas has beaten Notre Dame.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)
5 Greatest Notre Dame vs. Texas College Football Games of All-Time
Post date: Thursday, September 1, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, syndicated, Utah Utes, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/southern-utah-thunderbirds-utah-utes-preview-and-prediction-2016

Some things never change at Utah. The Utes enter a new season with a tough and experienced defense and an offense filled with question marks. Utah is optimistic those question marks turn into favorable answers in this week's season opener against Southern Utah.


The Utes are breaking in a new starting quarterback in Troy Williams and several new receivers. Williams comes to the team as a highly touted junior college transfer and offers hope that Utah's passing game can become a genuine threat for the first time in ages.


Related: Talented Newcomers Leading Utah's Offense in 2016


Southern Utah has the potential to test Utah more than a typical FCS opponent. The Thunderbirds won the 2015 Big Sky championship behind a defense that allowed just 20.8 points per game. SUU is 10-30 overall against current FBS teams — with recent wins over UNLV (41-16) in 2011 and South Alabama (22-21) in '13.


Southern Utah at Utah


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept 1. at 8 p.m. ET (6 p.m. MT)

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Spread: N/A


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Utah's passing game evolve this season?

Beating teams through the air has rarely been a strength for Utah since joining the Pac-12. Erratic quarterback play and a flurry of dropped passes by receivers has undermined the Utes in recent seasons. This all has potential to finally change.


Williams earned the starting nod at quarterback after beating out Tyler Huntley and Brandon Cox in camp. The junior showed what he was capable of at Santa Monica (Calif.) College last season, throwing for 2,750 yards and 31 touchdowns with just four interceptions on 180-of-265 passing. Utah also hired Guy Holliday as a receivers coach during the offseason and Holliday has brought renewed intensity and improved execution in practices.

What will it mean for a passing game that generated just 180 yards per game last season, ranking 11th in the Pac-12 and 106th in the FBS? Utah expects a night and day difference in the team's ability to move the chains through the air.


Williams, who played at Washington as a freshman, is excited for a second chance to show what he can do as a Pac-12 quarterback.


“I'm just going to go out there and take every play and every second as if it was my last,” Williams said. “Just going through that whole process makes you a lot more hungry and appreciative of everything.”


2. NFL factory

Utah has not completely cornered the market on NFL defensive talent in the Beehive State. Southern Utah is quietly churning out some pro talent of its own on that side of the ball. The T-Birds had safety Miles Killebrew and cornerback LeShaun Sims both taken in the 2016 NFL Draft and defensive end James Cowser signed a free agent deal with the Oakland Raiders.


A few talented defensive standouts on this year's SUU team could also make a push for the next level. First-team All-Big Sky linebacker Mike Needham returns to anchor the defense and is joined by Taylor Nelson. They tallied 94 tackles apiece last season and combined for 15.5 tackles for a loss — ranking in the top five on the team in both categories.


3. Avoiding the upset bug

Big Sky teams have played the role of spoiler in recent seasons. Twice in the last three years, a Big Sky team has knocked off a Pac-12 team in the opening week. Eastern Washington beat then-No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 in 2013 and Portland State took down Washington State 24-17 a year ago.


It certainly has caught Utah's attention. The Utes have not lost to an FCS opponent since falling to Idaho 28-17 in 1993. Since that time, Utah has beaten seven consecutive FCS teams by an average margin of 40.5 points per game.


The Utes are determined to not let an FCS team sneak up on them this time around.


“It happens every year and our goal is to not be one of those teams,” Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said.


Final Analysis


History is on Utah's side against Southern Utah. The Utes are 37-0 all-time against current Big Sky opponents and are 7-1 against in-state opponents since joining the Pac-12. SUU gave Utah State a scare in the season opener a year ago, but facing a Utah team talented enough to contend for a Pac-12 South title is a whole different animal. Utah has too much speed, depth and talent for the T-birds to keep it close for longer than a quarter.


Prediction: Utah 49, SUU 7


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Southern Utah Thunderbirds vs. Utah Utes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 15:00
Path: /college-football/charlotte-49ers-vs-louisville-cardinals-preview-and-prediction-2016

Playing in the same division with a pair of top-5 teams, Louisville has managed to fly a bit under the radar this offseason, but enters the year ranked as high as 19th in the human polls. Louisville is seen by many as a sleeper in the ACC ‘s Atlantic division after winning six of its last seven in 2015 and returning 18 starters.


Led by head coach Bobby Petrino, who is in the third season of his second stint with the Cardinals, Louisville will open the year on Thursday night against Charlotte at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. With head coach Brad Lambert at the helm, the 49ers are entering their second season as an FBS school.


Charlotte lost its final 10 games a season ago to finish 2-10 while Louisville capped an 8-5 season with a 27-21 Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M. The Cardinals dropped their season-opener last year against Auburn in the Georgia Dome. The 49ers’ 2015 campaign also opened in the Georgia Dome, a 23-20 win over Georgia State.


Charlotte at Louisville


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN3

Spread: Louisville -40


Three Things to Watch


1. Quarterback Play

His athletic ability was noticeable from the start, but down the stretch of last season, Lamar Jackson matured as a passer. Over his final seven starts as a freshman in 2015, Jackson accounted for 15 total touchdowns and just four interceptions. Jackson could stand to improve his completion percentage (54.7) and yards per attempt (7.45), but should be able to do so with 15 of the 16 Louisville receivers who caught a pass last season returning.


Charlotte quarterback Kevin Olsen was expected to make his FBS debut against Louisville two years to Thursday’s date when he was at Miami, but a DUI ultimately led to his dismissal. Once a four-star prospect out of high school in New Jersey, Olsen finds himself as part of a young FBS program. Olsen made five starts at Riverside City (Calif.) College last season, and at 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds with a big arm, maybe he can bring some hope to a program that won just two games a season ago.


2. Kalif Phillips vs. the Louisville Front Seven

Charlotte had few bright spots during the 2015 season, but now senior running back Kalif Phillips was among them. Phillips rushed for 961 yards and five touchdowns last season – both team highs – but will be facing one of the nation’s best defensive fronts.


As talented as Florida State and Clemson are, Louisville may have the best corps of linebackers in the ACC. Seniors Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields are all-conference-caliber performers while nose tackle DeAngelo Brown is virtually unblockable. If Charlotte has any hopes of keeping this one close for more than a half, it will need to move the chains and the clock and that means using its 205-pound back.


3. James Quick

Louisville’s leading returning receiver, has a chance to assert himself as one of the better pass catchers in the ACC. At 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, Quick has long been established as a deep threat, averaging 16 yards per catch a season ago and leading the team with five touchdown grabs.


Where Quick can improve is becoming more consistent. Last season, he finished with 130 yards receiving and three touchdowns against one of the nation’s best defenses in Florida State while being held without a catch against the likes of Virginia. He’ll be facing a Charlotte defense that ranked just 88th nationally in yards allowed per game a season ago and just 110th in points.


Final Analysis


Thursday’s contest in Louisville will bring excitement that football is back for the two teams, but don’t expect too much drama in this one. Louisville has an overwhelming edge in speed and talent while Charlotte is still settling in as a FBS program. Bringing in Olsen and bringing back Phillips should give Charlotte some hope that things can improve from 2-10, but don’t expect the 49ers to contend for a Conference USA title or for a victory against the Cardinals.


Prediction: Louisville 55, Charlotte 13


— Written by Mike Ferguson, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and the editor of The Daily Nole. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook and follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson.

Charlotte 49ers vs. Louisville Cardinals Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 14:30
Path: /college-football/oregon-state-beavers-minnesota-golden-gophers-preview-and-prediction-2016

Oregon State hit rock bottom in head coach Gary Andersen's debut season. The Beavers ranked 11th or 12th in the Pac-12 in several offensive and defensive categories and struggled to keep games close. They finished without a single win over a conference opponent and have now lost 21 of their last 23 Pac-12 games dating back to the 2013 season.


Will things improve in 2016? Oregon State faces a steep climb to become competitive in the Pac-12 North again. Andersen revived a moribund Utah State program in his first FBS head coaching stop. It might take similar magic to get things back on track in Corvallis.


Minnesota provides a critical test right out of the gate. With a veteran quarterback in Mitch Leidner and a deep stable of running backs, the Golden Gophers appear poised to take a big step forward on offense this season.


This is the fourth all-time meeting between Oregon State and Minnesota and the first since 1981. The Golden Gophers lead the series 2-1.


Oregon State at Minnesota


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept 1. at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT)

TV: Big Ten Network

Spread: Minnesota -13


Three Things to Watch


1. Can Oregon State throw the ball?
Few teams struggled as much to move the ball through the air as Oregon State did last season. The Beavers ranked last among Pac-12 teams in passing offense (159.1 yards per game), total offense (336.4 ypg) and scoring offense (19.0 ppg).


Facing Minnesota is not welcome news in that area. The Golden Gophers boasted the 11th-ranked pass defense (179.5 ypg) among FBS teams last season. Minnesota shouldn't skip a beat this fall. The Golden Gophers have excellent speed at linebacker with Jack Lynn and Cody Poock headlining that group. It should take pressure off a secondary breaking in a pair of new cornerbacks to replace Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.


Junior quarterback Darell Garretson offers some hope Oregon State can do better in the passing game. The Utah State transfer threw for 2,586 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while playing in 13 games over two seasons for the Aggies.


2. Will Minnesota's offense be more potent?
The Golden Gophers are traditionally a team that likes to pound the ball down an opposing team's throat with tons of running. Minnesota will need to improve on that aspect this season. Freshmen backs Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith return after combining for 1,379 total rushing yards in 2015. Still, the Gophers ranked 12th in their league in rushing offense (144.1 ypg).


Turning long drives into points is a concern. Minnesota ranked 13th in the Big Ten in scoring offense (22.5 ppg) in 2015. If the Gophers can get the running game to catch up to the passing game, it might be a different story in 2016.


Leidner made major progress last season. He ended up throwing for 2,701 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions a year ago while completing 59.5 percent of his passes. Minnesota will need even more from him to progress offensively this season.


3. Big Ten vs Pac-12
Neither Minnesota nor Oregon State has had much recent success in Big Ten vs Pac 12 inter-sectional games. The Gophers have lost four straight to Pac-12 opponents since earning a 31-30 victory over Oregon back in the 2003 Sun Bowl. The Beavers are 2-3 in their last five games against current Big Ten teams, beating Maryland 21-14 in the 2007 Emerald Bowl and edging Wisconsin 10-7 in ‘12.


This game is the first of four contests this season pitting a Pac-12 team and a Big Ten team against each other. Washington hosts Rutgers this weekend. Oregon plays Nebraska and Colorado faces Michigan in two weeks.


Final Analysis


Rebuilding a contender isn't going to be a quick process at Oregon State. Andersen had a dearth of talent in his first season and still has tons of ground to cover for the Beavers to escape the Pac-12 North cellar. Minnesota, on the other hand, is expected to return to a bowl again this season and could be a spoiler in the Big Ten West. The Gophers should have no trouble breaking their recent losing streak to Pac-12 teams.


Prediction: Minnesota 30, Oregon State 21


— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.

Oregon State Beavers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/vanderbilt-commodores-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction-2016

The Thursday night matchup between Vanderbilt and South Carolina isn’t likely to register as one of the best games for Week 1, but there’s plenty at stake for these two teams. Tennessee, Georgia and Florida are widely considered to be the top three teams in the East, with a significant gap to the next four programs – Kentucky, Missouri, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. The Gamecocks and Commodores aren’t going to unseat any of the top three teams in the final pecking order, but Thursday night’s game could play a huge role in determining which program finishes fourth in the East and challenges for a bowl game.


After a disastrous 2015 season (3-9 final record), South Carolina is hitting the reset button under new coach Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks return only six starters and enter the 2016 campaign with major question marks surround both sides of the ball. Muschamp hired a standout staff and is known for his ability to attract talent and build a strong defense. However, his last stint (Florida) in the SEC ended with his firing. Is Muschamp a changed coach for his second stint in this league?


One year ago, Vanderbilt was in a similar position to South Carolina. The Commodores went 3-9 in 2014 and finished winless in SEC play. However, coach Derek Mason made a few tweaks to the program after a disappointing debut, leading to marked improvement last fall. Vanderbilt finished 4-8 (2-6 in league play) in 2015, with three of those losses coming by nine points or less. Mason has this program moving in the right direction and a bowl bid is a reasonable expectation for 2016.


South Carolina owns a 21-4 series edge over Vanderbilt. After losing back-to-back matchups to the Commodores from 2007-08, the Gamecocks have won seven in a row in this annual SEC East battle.


South Carolina at Vanderbilt


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: Vanderbilt -4.5


Three Things to Watch


1. The Quarterbacks

Points are expected to be a premium on Thursday night. Vanderbilt averaged only 15.2 points a game last year, while South Carolina was only slightly better, recording 21.9 per contest. Neither team is likely to show dramatic improvement on this side of the ball in 2016, but there are reasons to be optimistic. Sophomore Kyle Shurmur is a promising quarterback for coach Derek Mason and finished 2015 by throwing for a career best 209 yards and three scores against Tennessee. Shurmur should have a better command for the offense after his first full offseason with an opportunity to work as the No. 1 quarterback and could produce a breakout year. South Carolina has three passers vying for snaps this fall, as true freshmen Jake Bentley and Brandon McIlwain look to edge senior Perry Orth for the top spot on the depth chart. While Bentley could play at some point this season, McIlwain and Orth are expected to open 2016 as the team’s top options under center. Orth was placed into a difficult situation last year and threw 1,929 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first extended action. McIlwain ranked as a four-star recruit in the 2016 signing class and graduated in time to compete in spring practice. He brings more mobility to the offense than Orth and his ability to make plays with his legs could be a valuable asset for a unit lacking proven playmakers. There’s promise on both sides of the ball, but which quarterback steps up on Thursday night?


Related: Ranking All 128 College Football QBs for 2016


2. South Carolina’s Run Defense

Even if quarterback Kyle Shurmur takes a step forward in his development, the success of Vanderbilt’s offense is still going to depend heavily on the production of running back Ralph Webb. As a sophomore last fall, Webb ranked seventh among SEC rushers with 1,152 yards and finished 2015 by recording 100 or more yards in three out of Vanderbilt’s last four games. Stopping Webb has to be South Carolina’s top priority, which is easier said than done for a unit that surrendered 217.4 rushing yards a game last season. The Gamecocks return only two starters in the front seven and lost standout linebacker Skai Moore to injury for the entire 2016 campaign. There’s talent here for coach Will Muschamp to build around and develop after a disappointing 2015 season. For South Carolina to win on Thursday night, it has to stop Webb on early downs and force Shurmur into third-and-long situations.


3. Turnover Battle

With a tight game expected, a turnover or two could swing the momentum and final outcome of this matchup. Vanderbilt was minus-eight in turnover margin last season, including a minus-three mark in a 19-10 loss at South Carolina. The Gamecocks posted a plus-five mark overall but slipped to minus-one in SEC-only matchups. Will either of the young quarterbacks (Shurmur or McIlwain) make a critical mistake on Thursday night? Or can one of the defenses come up with a timely turnover?


Final Analysis


Thursday night is just the first game for both teams, but there’s a lot at stake. The winner of this game has a good shot to go to a bowl game, while the loser faces an uphill battle to avoid the cellar in the East. A fresh start under Muschamp should help South Carolina, but there are new faces and question marks littering the depth chart on both sides of the ball. Vanderbilt enters its third season under Mason with some positive momentum, one of the SEC’s best defenses and an offense poised to improve with five returning starters. This one isn’t going to produce much in the way of offensive fireworks, but the Commodores get just enough from Shurmur and Webb to team with a solid performance by the defense to edge the Gamecocks.


Prediction: Vanderbilt 24, South Carolina 20
Vanderbilt Commodores vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction 2016
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 13:45
Path: /college-football/appalachian-state-mountaineers-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction-2016

All of the media hype and fanfare that has accompanied the Tennessee Volunteers' preseason top-10 ranking will finally be put to the test on Thursday night as the Vols play host to former FCS power Appalachian State in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Tennessee head coach Butch Jones will look to improve on the Volunteers' 9-4 record from last year, which was highlighted by six straight wins to close out the season including a lop-sided Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern. Tennessee returns a wealth of talent, includng 17 starters from last season's squad.


Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield led the Mountaineers to an impressive 11-win season in 2015, culminating in a 31-29 bowl victory over Ohio in just their second season at the FBS level. Thanks in large part to a talented roster that also returns the majority of its key starters, the Mountaineers enter 2016 as the clear favorite to win the Sun Belt.


Appalachian State, which stunned a top-five Michigan team in 2007, will be looking for history to repeat itself by upsetting the Vols in Knoxville. Tennessee will be looking to avoid that fate and validate the preseason hype with an emphatic victory.


Appalachian State vs. Tennessee


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Tennessee -20.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Tennessee’s Passing Attack

There is little doubt that the Volunteers' potent rushing attack will be on full display on Thursday night, but it is the passing game that Tennessee fans are most anxious to see. Improvement is not only expected, it is paramount to the Volunteers’ title hopes in 2016. It all starts with senior quarterback Joshua Dobbs. Dobbs has been solid in the short and intermediate passing games, but following a season in which he completed just three passes in excess of 40 yards, improved accuracy with the deep ball is a must. Tennessee has a host of capable receiving options returning, but it is the Volunteers’ stable of talented underclassmen — most notably Preston Williams, Tyler Byrd and Marquez Callaway — that could steal the show and provide the big-play spark that Tennessee has been missing. The Vols certainly have the potential for a much-improved season through the air in 2016. Now they must prove it on the field with Appalachian State providing the first test.


2. The Bob Shoop Effect

Volunteer fans have had plenty to be excited about this offseason, but the hiring of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop probably tops the list. Shoop has an exceptional track record of turning mediocre defenses into top-ranked ones in short order, so it should be interesting to see what he can do with a talented Tennessee defense that returns almost all of its key players from 2015. Shoop isn’t likely to show all of his cards in game one, but the Tennessee faithful should come away with a very good idea of what he has in store for the rest of the season, especially in terms of his signature aggressive style and unique personnel packages. A very capable Mountaineer offense could prove challenging.


3. Appalachian State's Offense

The Mountaineers return seven starters from an offense that averaged 467 yards per game last season and ranked in the top 25 nationally in practically every statistical category. All-Sun Belt senior running back, Marcus Cox, is the nation’s second-leading active rusher, accumulating more than 4,000 yards and 43 touchdowns in his first three seasons. The Mountaineers' ground game is aided by four returning starters on the offensive line that graded out among the nation’s best last season. All-conference quarterback, Taylor Lamb, is no slouch either, having thrown for 2,387 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, while adding 436 yards and five scores on the ground. The Mountaineers' impressive stat sheet may lose a little bit of its luster when you consider that they compete primarily against Sun Belt competition. However, this is a veteran offense with enough talent to provide the Tennessee defense with a challenge.


Final Analysis


There are obvious parallels that can be drawn between this game and Appalachian State’s colossal 34-32 upset of Michigan in 2007, including the fact that two of Tennessee’s top assistant coaches were assistant coaches for that Wolverines team. But those expecting to see a repeat of 2007 will most likely be disappointed. Despite all of Appalachian State’s achievements, they have not beaten a single Power Five opponent since pulling off college football’s biggest upset in 2007. In fact, they have not even been close to beating a Power Five team, losing by an average margin of 49-11. Appalachian State has more than enough talent and experience to rule the Sun Belt this season, but will be hard-pressed to knock off a far superior Tennessee team on its home turf. And if you think the Vols are going to look past the Mountaineers like the Wolverines did in ’07, think again.


Prediction: Tennessee 38, Appalachian State 14


— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McVey is a diehard Tennessee Volunteers' fan who loves singing "Rocky Top" every opportunity he gets. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.

Appalachian State Mountaineers vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/indiana-hoosiers-vs-fiu-panthers-preview-and-prediction-2016

Kevin Wilson gets his sixth year as Indiana’s head coach underway Thursday night on the road against FIU. The Hoosiers will once again get a chance to show how talented their offense may be, while Wilson will kindly ask you not to pay much attention to his defense. That’s been the signature of Indiana under Wilson, with an exciting offense that can hang with the likes of Ohio State but a defense that leaves much to be desired.


That should once again be the case Thursday night as the Hoosiers look to start the 2016 season with a win against an FIU squad looking to score a victory over an FBS program for the first time since upsetting Louisville (of the old Big East) in ‘11.


Indiana at FIU


Kickoff: Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET


Spread: Indiana -9


Three Things to Watch


1. Indiana’s offense will overpower FIU on the road
Even though the Hoosiers have to replace quarterback Nate Sudfeld and running back Jordan Howard, you can count on Kevin Wilson’s offense to be firing on all cylinders out of the gates. Redshirt junior Richard Lagow gets the call at quarterback with junior Devine Redding leading the running game. With experienced wide receivers and an offensive line anchored by four upperclassmen, Indiana’s offense should be good to go in Week 1, especially against an FIU defense that ranked 76th in total defense and 85th in scoring defense a year ago.


2.  Experienced FIU offense should make plays against Indiana defense
We could have a nice little season-opening back-and-forth affair in store for us in Miami. Indiana is known for its offense and lack of defense, and that is good news for FIU. The Panthers will have an experienced offense led by third-year starting quarterback Alex McGough and 1,200-yard rusher Alex Gardner (also the team’s leading returning receiver). FIU will likely struggle to stop Indiana’s offense, but the Panthers should be able to make some plays against the Hoosiers defense to hang around.


3. Indiana and FIU each have solid season-opening trends
In the past 13 seasons, Indiana has won 12 season openers. That’s a pretty solid track record, even for a program that has been in the middle of the pack at best in the Big Ten. While with a much smaller sample size, FIU boasts a 2-0 record in Thursday night season openers at home. FIU also is 4-1 all-time in season openers played on a Thursday. Something will have to give.


Final Analysis


Indiana should manage to get off to a decent start this season before hitting Big Ten play, even if that means taking to the road in Miami in Week 1. The defense will be a significant concern as the season rolls along, but the Hoosiers should manage to get by with it on Thursday night against FIU. Look for the road team to take charge early and pull away in the fourth quarter with the edge on offense. It may not be pretty, but the Hoosiers will take a win any way they can get it.


Prediction: Indiana 37, FIU 29


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.

Indiana Hoosiers vs. FIU Panthers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, syndicated, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/predicting-which-team-will-win-every-game-week-1-college-football-2016

The first full weekend of the 2016 college football season starts on Thursday night with a handful of games and continues into Labor Day with a huge showdown between Florida State and Ole Miss in Orlando. Thursday night’s action is headlined by a SEC matchup between Vanderbilt and South Carolina, as well as non-conference affairs between Appalachian State-Tennessee and Oregon State-Minnesota. The action continues on Friday night with Stanford-Kansas State and Colorado-Colorado State. There’s a heavy slate of marquee matchups on Saturday, including Houston-Oklahoma, Georgia-North Carolina, Alabama-USC and Texas A&M-USC. 


Which teams will come out on top in every FBS game for Week 1? Bryan Fischer and Jim Weber join Athlon Sports' Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and David Fox to provide weekly predictions for every contest:


College Football Week 1 Predictions

Predicting Which Team Will Win Every Game Week 1 in College Football 2016
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: syndicated, NFL
Path: /nfl/examining-overunder-2016-win-totals-nfc-north

Green Bay and Minnesota figured to be the two top contenders to win the NFC North, but that may not be the case now thanks to a significant injury. Chicago and Detroit are pretty far behind in terms of talent although the Lions appear to be closer than the Bears, which have a long way to go.


Related: NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About NFC North Teams


Much like I did with the college football win totals, I will break down the schedules in terms of home and road opponents outside the division. In most situations, I'll give a split to each team in divisional play with them winning at home and losing on the road. Vegas is much more on the ball in the NFL compared to college football so the numbers are a lot sharper.


Note: Over/under odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook


NFC North


Chicago Bears

(Over 7 wins -134, Under 7 wins +104)


Record Last Year: 6-10


Offense: I don't know what else there is that can be said about Jay Cutler. He doesn't have Matt Forte to help him out of the backfield. What he does have is 2015 first-round pick Kevin White, who is finally healthy after missing last season. White and Alshon Jeffery form a nice duo, especially because of their size. Jeremy Langford is going to lead the way at running back although others will be involved in the backfield.


Defense: The Bears continue to dip into free agency to try to fix what ails them defensively. Jerrell Freeman comes over from Indianapolis while Danny Trevathan has been reunited with his former head coach when both were in Denver. The secondary is an issue though as top cornerback Kyle Fuller has struggled with injuries and poor play while veteran Tracy Porter is dealing with a concussion.


Schedule: Chicago alternates road and home games for the first eight weeks of the season before its Week 9 bye. The Bears have a friendly stretch of four games at home in five weeks near the end of the regular season (Nov. 27-Dec. 24). The first two of those matchups are against the Titans and 49ers, which are winnable.


Prediction: The under is the play here. Chicago's rebuilding and in this division you can't afford to do so and contend. Any time you can get a plus price for the under with the Bears, you jump on that.


Detroit Lions

(Over 7 wins -125, Under 7 wins +105)


Record Last Year: 7-9


Offense: I think this offense has a chance to be sneaky good despite losing Calvin Johnson. Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin are a good group to go with Eric Ebron, who should be fine after a training camp scare. The big question is if the Lions can get any semblance of a run game to take some pressure off of Matthew Stafford.


Defense: Ziggy Ansah is the leader here as he and Haloti Ngata try to wreak havoc up front. I really like Darius Slay as a corner and feel like he's underrated. I'm not a huge fan of the rest of the secondary, which will get tested in this division.


Schedule: For the second straight year, Detroit has a three-game homestand with the Eagles, Rams and Redskins paying visits to the Motor City in October. The Lions also have three back-to-back sets of road games, including a tough one late at Dallas and New York before hosting the Packers to close out the season.


Prediction: I think the over is very attainable especially with a friendly home slate. As I said above, I think the Lions’ offense could be real fun to watch despite the loss of Megatron. The defense just has to do enough to get that O back on the field.



Green Bay Packers

(Over 11 wins +106, Under 11 wins -136)


Record Last Year: 10-6


Offense: What else can I say about this group other than the fact that Jordy Nelson is getting healthier and Jared Cook is a nice addition. With Nelson back, Randall Cobb doesn't have to be the No. 1 receiver and his production will be better. The extra pieces become a whole lot better too if Davante Adams, Ty Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis can figure it out.


Defense: This is a veteran group with some youth sprinkled in as well. Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews will still terrorize the quarterback while Sam Shields and Damarious Randall man the corners.


Schedule: The Packers have the easiest schedule of anyone in the league. The only issue might be the early Week 4 bye. They are home for four straight games over five weeks beginning on Sept. 25. The toughest stretch might be the three straight on the road in Weeks 10-12 – at Tennessee, Washington and Philadelphia.


Prediction: I think 11 is a good number for the Packers. The biggest enemy of the Packers will be their health. There's no doubt this is a good team and they should be in the mix for the NFC North title.



Minnesota Vikings

(Over 10 wins -138, Under 10 wins +108)


Record Last Year: 11-5


Offense: The Vikings’ outlook changed dramatically when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a non-contact injury on Tuesday and was diagnosed with a dislocated knee and torn ACL. His absence leaves the quarterback position (for now) to veteran Shaun Hill and undrafted free agent Joel Stave, who played last season for Wisconsin. Even with the uncertainty at quarterback, Adrian Peterson will get his yards as he has done throughout his career. Charles Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and Stefon Diggs isn't a bad group of WRs. Kyle Rudolph is a solid and reliable tight end.


Defense: I really like this defense especially the young linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Chad Greenway. The secondary has some depth issues, but is filled with veterans. Lineman Linval Joseph has been a nice piece ever since coming over from the Giants.


Schedule: The question is whether or not this team is ready for a first-place schedule, especially given the injury to Bridgewater. The toughest non-divisional road game is at Carolina in Week 3. Other than that, the Vikings’ toughest games are in brand-new U.S. Bank Stadium.


Prediction: This is off the board in quite a few places as Bridgewater's injury changes the outlook. Some people have moved the win total to eight which may be about right. The young defense has the chance to win a game or two, but it could be an uphill battle. 


— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.

Examining the Over/Under 2016 Win Totals for the NFC North
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 12:30
Path: /college-football/5-greatest-alabama-vs-usc-college-football-games-all-time

Alabama and USC seem to be inextricably linked in the college football world. The most arguably hated head coach in USC history is currently Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin. The Trojans and Crimson Tide shared the national title in 1978. And, of course, Alabama and USC’s 1970 game led to the full integration of college football.


With this rich history, it is surprising that Saturday’s matchup will only be the eighth between the two schools. Alabama leads the series 5-2 with the last meeting taking place in the 1985 Aloha Bowl, a 24-3 Crimson Tide win. Nevertheless, there have been some great matchups in those five games. Here are five of them.


5. Alabama 19, USC 7

Los Angeles – Sept. 24, 1938

Kicking off the season with a matchup between two schools on opposite sides of the country rarely happened in the 1930s. The Alabama football team took the train to L.A., and made a two-day stop in Tucson, Ariz., to practice at the University of Arizona before continuing on to California. The layover apparently paid off. A pair of touchdown passes and an interception returned for a touchdown gave the Crimson Tide a 19-0 lead in the fourth quarter and clinched the game. Approximately 6,000 Alabama fans greeted the team when it returned to Tuscaloosa.


4. USC 42, Alabama 21

Birmingham, Ala. – Sept. 12, 1970

This game is famous because USC’s walloping of the Crimson Tide helped head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant convince Alabama’s racist powers-that-be to integrate the football team. All the drama took place off the field since the game itself was a good, old-fashioned beatdown with USC taking a commanding 32-7 lead in the third quarter. USC fullback Sam Cunningham gained 135 yards on 12 carries and Bryant would later say, “Cunningham did more for integration in Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”


3. USC 24, Alabama 14

Birmingham, Ala. – Sept. 23, 1978

The Trojans shredded top-ranked Alabama’s defense with 417 yards, 199 of which were amassed by future Heisman Trophy winner Charles White. The USC defense did its job as well, forcing six turnovers. Amazingly, the Trojans only led 10-7 in the third quarter, but they sealed the deal with two touchdowns by wide receiver Kevin Williams in the fourth quarter. USC lost to Arizona State three weeks later, allowing Alabama to move back into national championship contention. The two schools would ultimately share the national title with Alabama winning the AP Poll and USC winning the UPI Coaches’ Poll.


2. Alabama 17, USC 10

Los Angeles – Sept. 10, 1971

The legend of Bear Bryant was forged by many awe-inspiring moments. The 1971 game against USC is one of those. Convinced that his team needed to run the Wishbone offense to compete in the 1970s, Bryant installed it between the ‘70 and ‘71 seasons under secrecy. The practices were closed to the public and when Bryant did allow the media to attend, he had his team run a pro-style offense until reporters left. Alabama shocked the Trojans with the triple option in the season opener, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and holding on to win. It remains one of the greatest cloak-and-dagger efforts in college football history.


1. Alabama 21, USC 20

Los Angeles – Oct. 8, 1977

Some nasty play by the Crimson Tide defense gave Alabama a 21-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but USC came off the ropes with a furious comeback. Trojan quarterback Rob Hertel led his team on a 91-yard drive that was punctuated with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Sweeney. Hertel then hit fullback Mosi Tatupu for the two-point conversion. Then on the final drive, USC went 79 yards and fullback Lynn Cain ran into the end zone on a sweep with 35 seconds left on the clock to make it a one-point game. USC head coach John Robinson opted to go for two and the win. Hertel took the snap and dropped back for a pass, but Alabama defensive end Wayne Hamilton forced him to rush the throw and linebacker Barry Krauss intercepted the pass, securing the narrow victory.

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
5 Greatest Alabama vs. USC College Football Games of All-Time
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/top-5-college-football-kickoff-games-all-time-2016

There are only four games between ranked teams in the opening week of the 2016 college football season; and the argument could be made that the most significant of those matchups is defending national champion and No. 1 Alabama against No. 20 USC at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in the Advocare Classic (formerly the Cowboys Classic). This is just one of many efforts over the past four decades to bring a “bowl game” feel to the beginning of the college football season. 


Related: Ranking All 86 Games in the First Week of 2016 College Football Season


The first and longest-running of these efforts was the Kickoff Classic, which launched in 1983 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, when defending national champion Penn State faced No. 1 Nebraska and was trounced 44-6. This occurred during the era of 11-game seasons, but the NCAA allowed teams to play a 12th game if they played in a Kickoff Classic-type game, whose legion would grow to include the Pigskin Classic, the Eddie Robinson Classic and the John Thompson Foundation Classic.


In 2002, the NCAA outlawed 12th games, thus bringing these traditions to an end. Ironically, the NCAA added a 12th game to the college football season in 2005 and since then a new breed of “Kickoff” games have emerged.


Make no mistake; these games are akin to bowl games. Some, like the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and the Advocare Classic, are annual and others, like the Allstate Kickoff in the Capitol, are one-off deals. The benefits are a potentially large payout to participating schools and national exposure albeit good or bad. The sacrifice is a home game. And like bowl games, these contests rarely live up to their hype. Here are five that did.


5. Brigham Young 14, Oklahoma 13

Sept. 5, 2009 in Arlington, Texas (Cowboys Classic)

Returning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford began his junior year facing a formidable pass rush from BYU behind an experienced offensive line. In the second quarter, Bradford had just broken Jason White’s school career passing yards record and was leading OU down the field to break a 7-7 tie when Coleby Clawson nailed him with a clean shot, spraining the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. The Sooners held a 13-7 lead in the fourth quarter when BYU quarterback Max Hall hit McKay Jacobson to give the Cougars a 14-13 lead. A failed 54-yard field goal attempt by OU solidified the win and the 2009 season began with a major upset.


4. Miami 20, Auburn 18

Aug. 27, 1984 in East Rutherford, N.J (Kickoff Classic)

In Jimmy Johnson’s first game as Miami head coach, the defending national champion Hurricanes faced #1 Auburn. The game may not have been close if Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar had not thrown an interception and the ‘Canes failed on a pair of fourth downs both within the Tigers’ 15-yard.  Nevertheless, Auburn led 15-14 in the third quarter, but Miami kicker Greg Cox nailed two field goals in the fourth to put the Hurricanes ahead. The win was sealed when Auburn halfback Brent Fullwood fumbled a pitch that was recovered by Julio Cortes.


3. LSU 28, Wisconsin 24

Aug. 30, 2014 in Houston, Texas (Texas Kickoff)

The Badgers held LSU to six first downs in the first half of the game and led 24-7 in the third quarter. Then the Tigers came to life with a pair of field goals at the end of the third quarter. Early in the fourth, LSU quarterback hit John Diarse with a 36-yard touchdown pass and then completed another to Trey Quinn for the two-point conversion. With 11 minutes left, Jalen Mills intercepted Wisconsin quarterback Tanner McEvoy’s pass at the LSU 47. Kenny Hilliard capped the comeback with a 28-yard touchdown run.


2. Colorado 31, Tennessee 31

Aug. 26, 1990 in Anaheim, Calif (Pigskin Classic)

The first Pigskin Classic started off sloppy but Colorado overcame three turnovers to lead the Vols 24-10 early in the fourth quarter. However, Tennessee quarterback Andy Kelly responded in the fourth quarter with touchdown passes to Alvin Harper and Carl Pickens. Colorado answered but Tennessee tailback Chuck Webb ran into the end zone with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter to make the score 31-30. The Vols head coach Johnny Majors chose to tie it up and opted for the extra point.  Tennessee got the ball back late and surprised the Buffaloes with a ground attack, but the Vols ran out of time on Colorado’s 16-yard line. The contest ended with the only tie in kickoff game history.


1. Boise State 33, Virginia Tech 30

Sept. 6, 2010 in Landover, Md. (Allstate Kickoff in the Capitol)

Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium is less than 300 miles from Landover’s FedEx Field, thus making this a virtual home game for the Hokies. The Broncos quickly silenced the crowd jumping ahead to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.  Then Virginia Tech roared back, taking a 21-20 lead with a touchdown run by tailback Ryan Williams midway into the third quarter. Boise State quickly responded with a 71-yard touchdown run by D.J. Harper and had Virginia Tech facing fourth down and four yards to go at the Broncos' 28-yard line. Hokie quarterback Tyrod Taylor hit receiver Jarrett Boykin, who dodged a tackle and ran into the end zone, putting Virginia Tech ahead 27-26. The Hokies extended their lead with a field goal, but were unable to kill the clock late in the fourth and gave Boise State the ball back with 1:47 to go. Quarterback Kellen Moore drove the ball down the field and capitalized on a late hit penalty before securing the win with a 13-yard pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 left. The few thousand Broncos fans in the crowd could be heard throughout the stadium.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
Top 5 College Football Kickoff Games of All-Time
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-12-best-position-battles-watch-week-1-2016

The first week of the 2016 college football season is finally here and it certainly delivers when it comes to some incredible matchups to open the year. With a non-conference slate that might be the best of all-time when you factor in some of the brand names and Top 25 teams facing off against each other, it’s pretty easy to understand why there’s so much hype for Week 1 around the country beyond the usual "football is back" talk.


Related: Ranking All 86 Games in the First Week of the 2016 College Football Season


As good as the on-field action might be this week though, the games within the game are just as good — if not better. It’s pretty incredible that for all the big time matchups taking place across the country, some of the one-on-one battles between players are truly must-see television for every college football fan, coach and NFL scout this week.


With that in mind, here are the 12 best position battles between offensive stars and their defensive counterparts on the other side:


1. Florida State S Derwin James vs. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly

The best gets saved for last it seems as these two all-conference-caliber players are set to square off in the final game of the week on Labor Day. Kelly threw for more than 4,000 yards last season and is one of the top returning quarterbacks in the country. He’ll need a big game for an Ole Miss offense that will be tasked with carrying the team given how many new starters on defense there are. The problem is that Florida State is loaded on defense and may just have the most talented player on that side of the ball roving all around the field in James. This is a season-defining game for both teams and it will likely come down to which of these two players winds up making the most plays.


2. Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey/Minkah Fitzpatrick vs. USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Not a lot of people are giving USC much of a chance against the defending national champions but make no mistake, the Trojans have some incredible athletes capable of changing the game in a hurry. The team’s most dangerous weapon is probably Smith-Schuster, who managed to rack up 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns last season despite playing the second half of the year with a broken hand. He has the size, speed and skill set to be trouble for anybody and that includes the Crimson Tide. Luckily Alabama has a pair of veteran corners who can be in lockstep with Smith-Schuster in Humphrey and Fitzpatrick. All three players have a chance to eventually become first-round NFL Draft picks and you can bet scouts are anxious to see them face off at AT&T Stadium.


3. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett vs. UCLA OT Conor McDermott

Josh Rosen gets most of the attention for UCLA heading into the opener at Texas A&M but it’s his left tackle who might have the biggest say as to whether the Bruins can snag a big road win this week. That’s because the fleet-footed McDermott is tasked with trying to stop the man many are saying is the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft. Garrett’s speed and power pose problems for anybody so it will be a tall order when McDermott is trying to handle him one-on-one but if he doesn’t at least slow him down, Rosen might not have any time to operate under center.


4. Alabama DE Jonathan Allen vs. USC OT Zach Banner

You never know when it comes to height and weight measurements provided by schools but you could easily make the argument that Banner is college football’s biggest player at 6-foot-9 and 360 pounds. After some early years of disappointment in LA, he’s rebounded nicely and become one of the Trojans’ most important and best players out at left tackle after a breakout 2015 season. He’ll have his biggest challenge in the opener however as Allen is one of the best defensive players in the country. A technician when it comes to attacking opposing offenses, Allen is a load to handle whether the opponent is running the ball or trying to drop back and pass. The Crimson Tide have a host of options when it comes to getting after quarterback Max Browne and the Trojans’ offense but none are as versatile as Allen and the battle between him and Banner is going to be exciting for everybody to watch.


5. USC CB Adoree’ Jackson vs. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley

There are a lot of fantastic athletes in college football but only a handful would have an argument against Jackson being at the top of the list. A world-class track athlete and impressive all-around player in all three phases of the game for the Trojans, he’ll primarily contribute at cornerback when USC opens against Alabama and he’ll need every bit of that athleticism to help slow down Ridley. The Tide wideout burst onto the scene as a true freshman to set a number of school records and he should be even better with another year of experience under his belt. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will no doubt look to feed his top playmaker regardless who is at quarterback for Alabama so Jackson should expect plenty of camera time when the two square off against each other on the field.


6. Tennessee LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin vs. Appalachian State RB Marcus Cox

Cox might be one of the nation’s most underrated running backs and has rushed for at least 1,200 yards all three years in an Appalachian State uniform. He’s had some big-time performances against big-time teams in the past and will hope to have another in the opener as the Mountaineers look to slay another top-10 team. Yards will be hard to come by against Tennessee’s defense, led by the do-everything playmaker at linebacker in Reeves-Maybin. While he has been a tackling machine in just about every game he’s played in, it will be interesting to see if he can slow down Cox after perhaps not being 100 percent following surgery to repair a torn labrum earlier this year.


7. Texas LB Malik Jefferson vs. Notre Dame QBs DeShone Kizer/Malik Zaire

It’s an uneasy time on the 40 Acres with Charlie Strong being on the hot seat but thankfully for Texas, they do have one young bona fide star on defense in Jefferson. He’ll be moving around all over the field hoping to slow down Notre Dame and give his team a shot at a big home win but his task will certainly be a tall one. Brian Kelly has said that both quarterbacks will play for the Irish in the opener and each will be faced with the pressure of not only beating Jefferson to the end zone but beating out each other in the race to get more snaps. Both players can beat you with their arm or their legs so Jefferson will need to be in top form to slow them down at all.


8. Georgia S Dominick Sanders vs. North Carolina WR Ryan Switzer

The transition from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart at Georgia has been a relatively smooth one as far as those things go and it certainly helps the new head coach out that there are some talented pieces on defense returning to Athens this year to play around with. With Georgia’s secondary mostly intact from last year plus a few nice additions, the group has the chance to be a strength of the team behind a veteran safety like Sanders. Things won’t start out all that easy though, as the pass-happy Tar Heels are sure to test the back four early and often when the two meet at the Georgia Dome. It will likely come down to Sanders trying to prevent Switzer from running behind everybody on pass routes or blowing by the secondary in the open field on his way to the end zone. Both players figure to be moved around quite a bit in different formations but make no mistake, Sanders will be tasked with limiting the damage that such a shifty wideout like Switzer can do.


9. Notre Dame LB James Onwualu vs. Texas RBs D’onta Foreman/Chris Warren

There’s been an awful lot of talk around Austin about the quarterback position and it appears Charlie Strong is rolling the dice in a new scheme with a rotation of both Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Shane Buechele behind center. While Onwualu will be tasked with slowing down both signal-callers whether they drop a pass off over the middle or start to take off and run, his primary task is likely to involve slowing down the Longhorns’ formidable rushing attack of Foreman and Warren. Both bring a little something different because of their size/speed combination but both have a chance to take it to the house if they’re not stopped quickly. Luckily Onwualu has shown himself to be a master of being all over the field to make plays but he’ll need something extra in the opener if the Irish run defense is to be a little stiffer than it was last season.


10. Auburn S Tray Matthews vs. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson

Watson very likely enters the 2016 season as the Heisman Trophy favorite and you probably would get few arguments to putting him in pole position for the award after seeing what he did against Alabama in the national title game. Whether it’s moving around the pocket with his legs or launching lasers with his arm down the field, there’s not really anything he can’t do with the football in his hands. Now the task of keeping him out of the end zone will fall to Matthews, among others, as Auburn looks to shock everybody with a huge upset. The safety made the rounds around the Internet last season after a failed tackle attempt against Leonard Fournette so he probably doesn’t want to repeat of that when he finds himself one-on-one with Watson in the open field or when he is trying to break up a pass.


11. Oklahoma S Ahmad Thomas vs. Houston QB Greg Ward Jr.

Of all the opening week games, Houston against Oklahoma might be the most intriguing given what a win would do for both teams in the race to make the College Football Playoff. Both sides have some incredibly talented players and several top-notch coaches but the one battle that might be the most fun to see is how Ward is able to run or pass his way past the Sooners’ versatile safety. Ward is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and has a chance to score on just about every play given his speed and strong arm. Thomas is hoping he can get in the way of the end zone more often than not and he’ll be needed to play center field at times during passing downs and also come up and use his physicality to slow down Ward when he takes off running.


12. Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy vs. LSU RB Leonard Fournette

You may remember Cichy from his performance in the Holiday Bowl when he sacked USC quarterback Cody Kessler on three straight plays. He had a solid season before that game, however, and really came on down the stretch for the Badgers. Run defense has always been a strong point of the team but players like Cichy will need to step things up a bit given the opponent in the opener. Only two teams figured out a way to slow down the Fournette train last season and if Cichy and his fellow linebackers don’t play like they did in the Holiday Bowl (or better), it could be a rough opener out at Lambeau Field.


Best of the rest:
Auburn DE Carl Lawson vs. Clemson OT Jake Fruhmorgen
Houston LB Steven Taylor vs. Oklahoma RBs Samaje Perine/Joe Mixon
Missouri DE Charles Harris vs. West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste
BYU S Kai Nacua vs. Arizona QB Anu Solomon
Southern Miss LB Elijah Parker vs. Kentucky RB JoJo Kemp
Missouri DT Josh Augusta vs. West Virginia OL Tyler Orlosky
Kentucky CB Chris Westry vs. Southern Miss QB Nick Mullens


— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

College Football's 12 Best Position Battles to Watch in Week 1
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, USC Trojans, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/usc-trojans-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

The USC Trojans have had a rough go of it the past couple of years and last year was no different, going through yet another change at head coach. A loss to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl has USC motivated to get things back on track.


Related: USC Trojans 2016 Spring Football Preview


But the Trojans won’t have it easy in the slightest. And come Sept. 3, USC will open the season with a game between two of the sport’s most storied programs.


College Football: Conference Champs, National Title Contenders

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2016 USC Trojans Schedule


Bye: Week 8


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3



Arlington, TX

Season-Opening Heavyweight Showdown Opening with the defending national champion is going to be a strong test for new, permanent head coach Clay Helton. If USC should win this game, it’s all downhill from here.


Sept. 10



Los Angeles, CA

Matt Wells and the Aggies return to the Coliseum. The last time these two met, USC surrendered five sacks to the Aggies in an extremely close 17-14 win.


Sept. 17



Stanford, CA

Pac-12 Opener Stanford running back and Heiman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey introduced himself to the world largely on the back of the USC Trojans. McCaffrey had a total of 464 yards from scrimmage against the Trojans in just two games last season.


Sept. 23



Salt Lake City, UT

A Friday night game, the Utes are a relatively straightforward opponent for the Trojans. This game always comes down to creating turnovers and winning at the line of scrimmage.

5. Oct. 1 Los Angeles, CA

Arizona State is a very dangerous team for USC. Todd Graham’s scheme has caused fits for the Trojans and these two have created some memorable moments over the years. Expect the Sun Devils to come to Los Angeles with an upset on the agenda.

6. Oct. 8 Los Angeles, CA

Potential Trap Game? Colorado is a maturing team and while the Buffaloes’ overall 2015 record may not be that impressive, it discounts the number of single-possession games they lost. This is a capable team and it’s only a matter of time before someone takes them too lightly.

7. Oct. 15 Tucson, AZ

Expect Arizona to be much improved in 2015. The addition of new defensive coordinator Donte Williams from San Jose State will pay dividends in recruiting and on that side of the ball. Williams’ scheme and mindset are perfectly suited for the Wildcats and he will definitely make them more formidable on defense.


Oct. 27

10:30 PM ET


Los Angeles, CA

This game has the potential to be a thrilling shootout. Newly minted Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital will bring with him tons of creativity and points on offense. Being physical might not be enough for USC in this matchup, the Trojans also will need to bring their track shoes.

10. Nov. 5 Los Angeles, CA

The Oregon machine keeps rolling and will bring its up-tempo, explosive and entertaining act to the Coliseum. The Ducks put on a show on the Trojans’ home turf a couple years ago, running them out of their own house and breaking several records along the way. Expect this game to be a war or over very, very quickly. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground with these two teams.

11. Nov. 12 Seattle, WA

It’s a Trap! Part Deux Seattle has been hit or miss for the Trojans in recent years. In addition to their vaunted defense, the Huskies have quarterback Jake Browning entering this season with high expectations as a result of his productive freshman campaign. This game has trap written all over since the Trojans will be coming off the Oregon game and possibly looking ahead to the following week against UCLA.

12. Nov. 19 Pasadena, CA

The Battle for the Victory Bell ratchets up a notch now that quarterback Josh Rosen will be a year older and more familiar with the Bruins’ offense. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year showed exactly why he was the most sought-after quarterback in his recruiting class. A lot is expected of Rosen and beating USC will help him get his legacy off on the right foot. 

13. Nov. 26 Los Angeles, CA

The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh has been restored to its former glory under Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Notre Dame has won four of the last six contests, including two at the Coliseum. If USC is still in competition for the College Football Playoff, the Irish would be all too happy to crush those hopes.


— Written by Josh Webb, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Webb is a recruiting analyst for BarkBoard, Scout’s Fresno State affiliate. A contributor to, Scout’s USC affiliate. He is also a regular guest and contributor for CFBHuddle. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.

USC Trojans 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: BYU Cougars, College Football, Independents
Path: /college-football/byu-cougars-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

New BYU head coach Kalani Sitake inherits a Cougar program that is not broken. The Cougars have won at least eight games or more in nine of the last 10 seasons, but Sitake comes into the program where the schedule might be the toughest the school has ever faced.


Related: BYU Cougars 2016 Spring Football Preview


With Tanner Mangum and Taysom Hill both returning, BYU has arguably the best quarterback unit in the country. That’s a good problem to have for a first-year head coach in Sitake, who has generated a lot of buzz and excitement around the fan base, the likes of which the program has not seen in a long time. But will that buzz continue with some wins against Power 5 opposition? The Cougars face six P5’s in 2016, the most since becoming an independent in ‘11.


College Football: Conference Champs, National Title Contenders

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2016 BYU Cougars Schedule


Bye: Week 9


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

10:30 PM ET


Glendale, AZ

The Kalani Sitake era begins where the college football season ended last year, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. This will be the first of a five-game series between these old WAC rivals. BYU has made national headlines the past two seasons by jumping out to fast starts, a win in Glendale over a quality Pac-12 team can give BYU a lot of national buzz.


Sept. 10

7:30 PM ET


Salt Lake City, UT

The Holy War renews in the regular season for the first time since 2013. We had a surprise matchup between these two rivals last year in the Vegas Bowl, which saw Utah come away with a 35-28 victory. It was the Utes’ fifth straight and seventh win in the last 10 meetings. BYU fans want this game badly. If Sitake and company pull out a victory in this one, Cougar fans will be at a fever pitch.


Sept. 17

10:15 PM ET


Provo, UT

BYU’s home opener is against a talented UCLA team led by sophomore sensation quarterback Josh Rosen. BYU nearly pulled off the upset last year in the Rose Bowl against a top-10 UCLA team until a Myles Jack interception on a pass from Mangum sealed the Cougars’ fate. This is the Bruins’ first time travelling to Provo since a historic 59-0 loss in 2008.

4. Sept. 24 Landover, MD

For the second time in the first four weeks of the season, BYU will play a neutral site game in an NFL stadium. This time the setting is FedEx Field (Washington Redskins’ home) against West Virginia, which is from the league BYU wishes it could be in, the Big 12. Expect a lot of offensive fireworks in this game as both teams will put up some big numbers.


Sept. 30

10:15 PM ET


Provo, UT

This is where you would think the schedule starts to lighten up for the Cougars, but don’t sleep on the Rockets. Toledo went 10-2 last season and had wins against Arkansas and Iowa State. BYU hasn’t faced a MAC team since the 1999 Motor City Bowl when Marshall was a member of the league.

6. Oct. 8 East Lansing, MI

BYU travels to the banks of the red cedar for a chance to pull an upset over Michigan State, the defending Big Ten champion, a College Football Playoff participant last season and one of the country’s best programs over the last five years. This game will be a tall order for the Cougars, but it will serve as a measuring stick game and give Sitake a clear picture of where his team is at the midpoint of the season.


Oct. 14

10:15 PM ET


Provo, UT

It’s not every day BYU gets a team from the SEC to play in Provo. In fact, it’s the first time since 2000 that this has happened, and again it comes against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have some ties to the state of Utah with head coach Dan Mullen, who was once a coordinator under Urban Meyer at Utah, and QB coach Brian Johnson, who was the Utes’ quarterback in 2008 and then moved on to serve as co-offensive coordinator for the school after his playing days.


Oct. 20

10:15 PM ET


Boise, ID

BYU and Boise State are entering year five of a 12-year series between the two regional powers. Through the first four games, the home team in each contest has held serve and won on its home turf. BYU will be looking for its first win in program history in Boise on a national Thursday night broadcast on ESPN. This series has been a healthy one for both programs and has created some exciting games.

10. Nov. 5 Cincinnati, OH

The battle to get into the Big 12, perhaps? Both Cincinnati and BYU covet the idea of Big 12 membership, but for now the programs will battle it out as an independent and an AAC member. Last year, BYU scored 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter to take down the Bearcats in Provo. This will mark BYU’s first game ever played in the state of Ohio.


Nov. 12

3:00 PM ET


Provo, UT

BYU’s new associate head coach, Ed Lamb, was the head coach at Southern Utah last season before returning to his alma mater. The Thunderbirds were in the FCS playoffs last season, but they will have to replace three players who might get selected in this year’s NFL Draft. This is the first meeting between the in-state schools.

12. Nov. 19 Provo, UT

Scheduling quality home games in the month of November continues to be a challenge for BYU. The Cougars scheduled a home-and-home with UMass to gain November inventory and to also help out a fellow Independent program. The Minutemen are in their first year of independence after leaving the MAC.

13. Nov. 26 Provo, UT

The Battle for the Old Wagon Wheel takes place on Thanksgiving weekend for the second straight year. The last time BYU and Utah State squared off in Provo was in 2014 when the Cougars were nationally ranked and undefeated. The Aggies pulled off an upset victory and notched their first win in Provo in 36 years. That game also was the last time Hill has played in front of the home fans in Provo, as he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the loss.


— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is publisher of Rivals' BYU site,, and also is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.

BYU Cougars 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: AAC, ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, syndicated, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2016-season

We're now only days away from the kickoff of the 2016 college football season. The polls have been released and most predictions have been made.


Well — most predictions.


Over the last couple of weeks, I brought you my Outrageous Predictions for the ACC, Big 12Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. You read them. You shared them. In some cases you had a laugh at their expense. But truth be told, those predictions aren't any more outlandish than most of the others you'll see by the time this season is over. That's what so great about college football. With so many possible outcomes, there's really no such thing as an accurate, expert prediction. 


Now, all that's left is to make the outrageous predictions for how this wide-open 2016 college football season is going to unfold.


Outrageous College Football Predictions for the 2016 Season


No team from last season's College Football Playoff will make the final four this season

I made this exact prediction last year and missed it thanks to one team — Alabama. This year, I won't need to worry about the Crimson Tide, as they'll finish September with two losses. Michigan State will finish third in its own division. Clemson will be the runner-up in theirs and Oklahoma's Playoff dreams will be crushed after a loss to Oklahoma State to end the season. Another season, another crop of new contenders.


Boise State will run the table and miss the Playoff

As it stands — thanks largely to preseason polls and its unspoken clout in the minds of the College Football Playoff committee — Houston is the only Group of Five team that stands a chance of crashing the Playoff party. Boise State is starting off too low in most polls and play what is perceived to be too weak of a schedule to make a case nationally (a notion I've always disagreed with). The Broncos will roll through every game on their schedule on the strength of the best quarterback-running back combo in the nation and will receive a second-hand, New Year's Six bowl berth for their efforts.


Two Power Five conferences will be shut out of the Playoff

The ACC and Big Ten champions will both have at least two losses due to having more parity than the rest of the Power Five. They'll both be left out in favor of an unbeaten Pac-12 champion, a one-loss Big 12 champion, a one-loss SEC champion and a one-loss Notre Dame team.


Iowa's Desmond King will win the Heisman Trophy

He'll ride the hype of being the only returning major award winner from 2015 (Thorpe Award) and clearly establish himself as the nation's best cornerback. Normally, teams simply wouldn't throw his way, but they won't have a choice against the Hawkeye defense in 2016. Opposing offenses will have to take any shot they get, leaving King with more opportunities to pile up more picks. With so many solid running games in the Big Ten, King also will have ample opportunity to put his tackling skills on display. He'll seal the deal with a couple of kick returns for touchdowns, capitalizing on a year when the current favorites for the award get knocked around early and often while Iowa rolls through its schedule.

Related: Outrageous Predictions for the 2016 Heisman Trophy Ceremony


USC wins the national championship

There may not be a more talented starting-22 in the land, and the Trojans will have the chance to prove it during their opening weekend tilt against Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This veteran Trojan team will take advantage of a largely distraction-free offseason and use the momentum from the win over the defending national champions to run through their schedule unblemished. USC will face Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinals — a rematch of their regular-season finale. After dispensing of the Fighting Irish for a second time, it'll be on to the national championship game to face an Ole Miss team coming off its own Playoff win against Oklahoma State. JuJu Smith-Schuster shines when it matters most, as the Trojans pull away in the fourth quarter and bring college football's ultimate prize back to the City of Angels.


— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Outrageous College Football Predictions for the 2016 Season
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

The Michigan Wolverines enter 2016 with as much hype and expectations as any team in the country after posting a 10-3 record last season, including a blowout victory of Florida in the Citrus Bowl.


Related: Michigan Wolverines 2016 Spring Football Preview


The schedule sets up very nicely for the Wolverines with five straight homes games to start the year, and eight games in all at the Big House. Of course, the outcome for most of Michigan’s seasons come down to how they perform in two games – against Michigan State and Ohio State.


Survive those games and the Wolverines could be looking at their first-ever trip to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indy. 


2016 Michgian Wolverines Schedule


Bye: Week 7


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

12 PM ET


Ann Arbor, MI

Hawaii marks the first of five consecutive homes games for the Wolverines to open the 2016 season, and should give Jim Harbaugh’s charges little trouble to start the year. This will be the first-ever matchup between the two teams in the Big House.


Sept. 10

12 PM ET


Ann Arbor, MI

UCF should be much improved after finishing 2015 winless for the second time in 11 years, primarily due to new head coach and former Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost bringing his up-tempo offense to Orlando. The Knights better hope they get a win in Week 1 to end that winless streak, though, because it is not coming against the Wolverines.


Sept. 17

3:30 PM ET


Ann Arbor, MI

If former Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb was the starting quarterback, the Buffaloes may have had a shot in this one. But he is looking elsewhere to play next season, leaving major question marks at quarterback for Colorado. The Wolverines are 3-1 all-time against the Buffs.

4. Sept. 24 Ann Arbor, MI

The Wolverines’ defense dominated Penn State in their meeting last year, holding the Nittany Lions to just 207 yards of total offense. Will the same occur in 2016? Limiting stud sophomore running back Saquon Barkley will be the key to duplicating last season’s dominant defensive effort.

5. Oct. 1 Ann Arbor, MI

The Badgers and Wolverines have played against each other a total of 63 times during their long history of being conference rivals, but have not faced off since 2010. Michigan leads the all-time series by a wide margin (49-14), but Wisconsin has won the last two. 

6. Oct. 8 Piscataway, NJ

After losing to Rutgers in the team’s first-ever meeting back in 2014, the Wolverines put a beatdown on the Knights last season, piling up 487 yards in the 49-16 blowout victory. This encounter should be no different with Rutgers installing a new head coach and new systems on both sides of the ball.


Oct. 22

3:30 PM ET

Ann Arbor, MI

Will the Wolverines be looking ahead to the following week’s crucial matchup against the Spartans? Doubtful, especially with this being Michigan’s Homecoming game. Other than rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, the Illini have been one of Michigan’s most frequent opponents, meeting a total of 94 times with the Wolverines winning 69 of those games.

9. Oct. 29 East Lansing, MI

The in-state rivalry has been fairly one-sided the past eight years with Sparty winning seven of those contests. The tide seems to be turning as far as recruiting goes, but will that translate to the field? Michigan State figures to have its quarterback situation settled at this point in the season, and being at home will be a major advantage.

10. Nov. 5 Ann Arbor, MI

Albeit in nasty, rainy weather, the Michigan defense held the Terps to just 105 yards of total offense in the 28-0 victory last season in College Park. Both teams should know each other well in this year’s meeting, with former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin now the head man for Maryland.


Nov. 12



Iowa City, IA

The Wolverines and Hawkeyes last played back in 2013 and Iowa has won four out of the last five matchups. Both teams are expected to be in the thick of the conference race at this point in the season, so it wouldn’t surprise to see this one under the lights in prime time.

12. Nov. 19 Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan has completely dominated the all-time series with the Hoosiers with a .859 win percentage in their 64 total meetings (55-9), including last year’s 48-41 thrilling overtime victory. The Wolverines have won the last 20 games against the Hoosiers and 2016 should be no different with Indiana breaking in a new starting quarterback and running back.

13. Nov. 26 Columbus, OH

Last year’s version of “The Game” did not go as expected for Harbaugh and the Wolverines as the Buckeyes ran the ball up and down the field en route to a 42-13 trouncing in Ann Arbor. The Buckeyes lost a ton of talent to the NFL on both sides of the ball, but Ohio State recruits as well as anyone in the country and will be fully-stocked once again. This matchup could very well decide who heads to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game.


— Written by Mike Bainbridge, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Bainbridge is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and current writer for . Make sure to follow him on Twitter

Michigan Wolverines 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/twitter-accounts-every-college-football-fan-should-follow-2016-edition

The 2016 college football season starts on Thursday, Sept. 1 and concludes in early January with the national championship in Tampa, Fla. With kickoff right around the corner, it’s time to fill up your Twitter timelines with information on all of the teams, players, coaches and latest news.


To help you prepare for the 2016 season, Athlon Sports has compiled the best Twitter guide on the web. Here’s 700 (and plenty more) Twitter accounts you need to follow to get the best information this year. We hope we covered it all here, but if we missed anyone that needs to be on this list, let us know via Twitter: @AthlonSteven


Twitter Accounts Every CFB Should Follow in 2016


National Media
Affiliation Writers Account

Athlon Sports




Mitch Light

Steven Lassan

Jasmine Watkins

David Fox

Rich McVey

Mark Ross

John Gworek

Braden Gall









Athlon Contributors




Brett McMurphy

Heather Dinich

Adam Rittenberg

Paul Finebaum

Kirk Herbstreit

Chris Fowler

Rece Davis

Ivan Maisel

Travis Haney

Mark Schlabach

Gene Wojciechowski

Brad Edwards

Danny Kanell

Chris Low

Mitch Sherman

Bomani Jones

Todd Blackledge

Darren Rovell

Chris Fallica

Ryan McGee

Holly Rowe

Tom Luginbill

Anthony Becht

Sam Ponder

Desmond Howard


























Yahoo Sports

Dr. Saturday Blog

Graham Watson

Nick Bromberg

Sam Cooper

Dan Wetzel

Pat Forde

Charles Robinson








Sports Illustrated


Campus Rush

Pete Thamel

Andy Staples

Lindsay Schnell

Brian Hamilton

Chris Johnson

Gabriel Baumgaertner

Colin Becht

Richard Deitsch

Joan Niesen











SB Nation


Bill Connelly

Steven Godfrey

Jason Kirk

Spencer Hall

Dan Rubenstein


Ryan Nanni

Brian Floyd

Ian Boyd










USA Today

Dan Wolken

Nicole Auerbach

George Schroeder

Paul Myerberg





Sports On Earth Matt Brown @MattBrownCFB

Fox Sports


Bruce Feldman

Stewart Mandel

Clay Travis

Teddy Mitrosilis

Robert Smith

Joel Klatt

Tim Brando








CBS Sports


Dennis Dodd

Jon Solomon

Tom Fornelli

Chip Patterson

Ben Kercheval

Robby Kalland

Jerry Palm








NBC Sports

College Football Talk

Kevin McGuire

Keith Arnold




Bleacher Report


Barrett Sallee

Michael Felder

Adam Kramer

Matt Hayes

Ben Axelrod






CFB Playoff   @CFBPlayoff

Associated Press


Ralph D. Russo @RalphDRussoAP
CFB Matrix Dave Bartoo @CFBMatrix
Coaching News

Football Scoop

Coaching Search

Coaches Almanac

Chris Vannini





Orlando Sentinel Matt Murschel @OSMattMurschel


Chase Goodbread

Gil Brandt

Lance Zierlein

Daniel Jeremiah





Sporting News



Bill Bender




CFB Huddle

Kyle Kensing



CFB News


Rich Cirminiello

Russ Mitchell

Pete Fiutak




Uproxx Martin Rickman @MartinRickman
Today's U


Matt Zemek



Reddit   @RedditCFB
CFB Stats

Sport Source Analytics

ESPN Stats

College FB Reference




CFB Schedules @FBSchedules

ESPN - Jeremy Crabtree

ESPN - Tom Luginbill

ESPN - Tom VanHaaren

SB Nation Recruiting

247Sports - Keith Niebuhr

247Sports - Barton Simmons

247Sports - JC Shurburtt

Rivals - Mike Farrell

Scout - Brandon Huffman

Ryan Wright











Uniform Info  



Pro Football Focus


Steve Palazzolo @PFF_Steve
College Fantasy

Joe DiSalvo

Mike Bainbridge






Craig Haley

Brian McLaughlin



National Follows

Bryan Fischer 

Emory Hunt

Chris B. Brown

Matt Hinton

Jim Weber

John Walters

Zach Barnett

Doug Samuels

Tyler Garret Smith

Campus Insiders

Brian Fremeau

Pick Six Previews

Todd Fuhrman

The Student Section

The Comeback

Chris Dufresne

Mark Blaudschun

Herb Gould

Andrew Doughty

The Big Lead

CFB Film Room

Elika Sadeghi

Patrick Stevens

Fake Bo Pelini

J.P. Scott

Chris Huston




























Sirius XM College Sports

Chris Childers

IMG Audio

Bill King





Senior Bowl

Phil Savage

Patrick Woo





ACC: @theACCfootball

Affiliation Writers Account



Andrea Adelson

David Hale

Jared Shanker

Matt Fortuna





ACC Sports Journal  



Daily Press

David Teel

Norm Wood





ACC Football News   @ACCFootballNews
News and Record Brant Wilkerson-New @BrantGNR

Joe Ovies

Lauren Brownlow




Team Official Account Media Follows

Boston College























Florida State












Georgia Tech




























North Carolina





NC State




























Virginia Tech






Wake Forest






Big 12: @Big12Conference

Affiliation Writers Account

ESPN Big 12 Blog


Jake Trotter

Max Olson

Brandon Chatmon




Sports on Earth/

Freelance Writer

David Ubben @davidubben
Dallas Morning News Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN
The Oklahoman Berry Tramel



San Antonio Express-News Tim Griffin @TimGriffinBig12
LandGrant Gauntlet   @the_LGG
Team Official Account Media Follows










Iowa State



















Kansas State




















Oklahoma State



























Texas Tech








West Virginia













Big Ten: (@B1GFootball)

Affiliation Writers Account

ESPN Big Ten Blog


Brian Bennett

Austin Ward

Josh Moyer

Dan Murphy

Jesse Temple






Big Ten Network


Brent Yarina

Tom Dienhart

Gerry DiNardo

Sean Merriman

Dave Revsine

Howard Griffith

Mike Hall








Chicago Tribune Teddy Greenstein @TeddyGreenstein
Chicago Sun-Times Steve Greenberg @SLGreenberg
Saturday Tradition   @Tradition
Land of 10



Team Official Account Media Follows



















































Michigan State































Ohio State

















Penn State


































Pac-12: (@Pac12)

Affiliation Writers Account

ESPN Pac-12 Blog


Kevin Gemmell

Ted Miller

Chantel Jennings

Kyle Bonagura

David Lombardi






Pac-12 Network


Yogi Roth

Michael Yam

Ashley Adamson

Matt Leinart





San Jose Mercury News Jon Wilner @WilnerHotline
Los Angeles Times Lindsey Thiry @LindseyThiry

Pacific Takes


Avinash Kunnath

Jack Follman



Team Official Account Media Follows








Arizona State































Oregon State








































Washington State









Affiliation   Account
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey @GregSankey
SEC Communications Director Chuck Dunlap @SEC_Chuck



Alex Scarborough

Edward Aschoff

David Ching

Greg Ostendorf

Sam Khan






SEC Network


Tony Barnhart

Dari Nowkhah

Cole Cubelic

Peter Burns






SEC Logo   @SEC_Logo

SEC Country


Christopher Smith

Alex Martin Smith

Ken Bradley

Shehan Jeyarajah





SB Nation Brandon Larrabee @TeamSpeedKills
  David Wunderlich @Year2



Brad Crawford @BCrawford247

Saturday Down South


Jon Cooper

Tyler Waddell

Michael Bratton

John Crist

Chris Wright






Matt Scalici

Kevin Scarbinsky



Southern Pigskin Matt Smith @MattSmithCFB
Sports Radio WNML Josh Ward @Josh_Ward
Gridiron Now


Chad Neipling

Mike Huguenin

Jimmy Hyams

Frank Frangie

Chadd Scott

Rachel Baribeau

T.J. Moe









Team Official Account Media Follows























































































Mississippi State







Ole Miss








South Carolina



















Texas A&M


















Independents/Group of 5 Follows

Team Official Account Media Follows
Notre Dame @NDFootball








BYU @BYUfootball






Group of 5 








Boise State @BroncoSportsFB




Houston @UHCougarFB @Joseph_Duarte
Group of 5  




Mountain West 





Hustle Belt   @HustleBelt


Twitter Accounts Every College Football Fan Should Follow (2016 Edition)
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

Last season. the West Virginia Mountaineers posted their best record since joining the Big 12 Conference, going 8-5.


As optimism grows surrounding what may be the most potent offense head coach Dana Holgorsen has had in Morgantown the schedule also is much friendlier than it was in 2015.


Related: West Virginia Mountaineers 2016 Spring Football Preview


While the Mountaineers’ out-of-conference schedule is significantly tougher than last season, their Big 12 slate is a little more manageable with marquee opponents spread throughout the season rather than all in one month.


2016 West Virginia Mountaineers Schedule


Byes: Weeks 3, 6


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

12 PM ET


Morgantown, WV

This will be the Mountaineers’ first SEC opponent since facing Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl in 2014. Dana Holgorsen is 0-2 against SEC opponents since taking over at WVU.


Sept. 10


Morgantown, WV

The Penguins will be the Mountaineers’ easiest opponent in 2016. This will be only the second meeting between the two schools, the first being in 1938.

4. Sept. 24 Landover, MD

The Mountaineers finish their out-of-conference schedule at a neutral field against a first-time opponent in the Cougars. 

5. Oct. 1 Morgantown, WV

West Virginia has yet to beat the Wildcats as a member of the Big 12 Conference (0-4). Last season’s 24-23 loss was one of the most heartbreaking to Mountaineer fans. WVU will look to finally get its first win against Bill Snyder at home in its conference opener.

7. Oct. 15 Lubbock, TX

The Mountaineers have had the Red Raiders’ number over the last two seasons, winning both games. However, those victories have been by a combined eight points. This is always a close game. Last time the Mountaineers were in Lubbock it took a late drive and last-second field goal to win.

8. Oct. 22 Morgantown, WV

Joining the Big 12 at the same time it is no secret the Horned Frogs have experienced more success than the Mountaineers. However, with the exception of last season’s 40-10 blowout this matchup has been fun to watch. WVU is 1-3 against TCU since joining the Big 12 including two overtime games and a one-point loss in 2014.

9. Oct. 29 Stillwater, OK

The Cowboys came to Morgantown last season at the start of a brutal four-game stretch for the Mountaineers. Despite being favored, the Mountaineers lost 33-26 on Homecoming. No doubt WVU has this game circled on the calendar.

10. Nov. 5 Morgantown, WV

Like most seasons this should not be a contest. However, this matchup is a little different in 2016. The Jayhawks will be accompanied by former WVU assistant coach Joe DeForest, who left the Mountaineers after the 2015 season. DeForest is now the special teams coordinator and defensive assistant for David Beaty at Kansas.

11. Nov. 12 Austin, TX

This is one of those games Mountaineer fans hate to lose. The Mountaineers handled the Longhorns in Morgantown last season. But this game is never a guaranteed win for either school.

12. Nov. 19 Morgantown, WV

With the exception of 2013 (16-7 final score) this is usually a high-scoring game with the Sooners always coming out on top. With the Mountaineers’ potent offense this looks to be no different in terms of scoring. This will be the latest meeting between the two since 2012.

13. Nov. 26 Ames, IA

Despite always being favored the Mountaineers have never truly handled the Cyclones. With the exception of last season (30-6 victory) this game is usually closer than predicted including a 52-44 victory for Iowa State in 2013.

14. Dec. 3 Morgantown, WV

This may be the highest scoring game in the Big 12 this coming season. Baylor is known for racking up the points, especially against West Virginia. The Mountaineers have split with the Bears since joining the conference. West Virginia will look to seek revenge revenge for the 63-38 beating in Waco last season.


— Written by Jeremy Simon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and editor-in-chief of, a must visit for any and all West Virginia Mountaineer fans. Follow on Twitter @Blue_GoldSports.

West Virginia Mountaineers 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/penn-state-nittany-lions-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

Much of the offseason discussion about James Franklin seems to suggest the 2017 season will be an important one for him as he enters his third season as Penn State’s head coach. After two straight seven-win seasons since taking over the program while also working to rebuild the depth across the board with a renewed recruiting strategy, fans are itching to see Penn State take a noticeable step forward this fall.


Related: Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Spring Football Preview


Penn State continues to rebuild an offensive line that has been embarrassed far more often than not the last two seasons, and a new starting quarterback steps in to run things on the field with a rising sophomore running back in Saquon Barkley continuing to amaze. A new offensive coordinator brings new optimism as well, but how quickly can everything come together? The schedule throws some good obstacles in the way in the first month of the season with a road trip to Pittsburgh and another to Michigan with a home game against a feisty Temple in the middle.


The season has yet to start, and already the pressure is on for Franklin and his Nittany Lions.


2016 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule


Bye: Week 7


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

3:30 PM ET


University Park, PA

Penn State opens the new season at home against Kent State. The Nittany Lions own a 4-0 record against the Golden Flashes and have pitched two straight shutouts in the series. This should be a favorable matchup for Penn State with Kent State coming off a three-win season.


Sept. 10

12 PM ET


Pittsburgh, PA

The in-state rivalry with Pitt will be renewed for the first time since 2000, although it feels a lot longer than that. The first in a four-game series opens on the road and should be a showdown of two bright running backs in Saquon Barkley and Pitt’s James Conner (hopefully).


Sept. 17

12 PM ET


University Park, PA

Believe it or not, this is a revenge game for Penn State. The Owls ambushed a weak offensive line last year and sacked Christian Hackenberg 10 times, but this Temple defense has lost some key players and Penn State may not crumble quite as easily this time. Temple has never won at Penn State.

4. Sept, 24 Ann Arbor, MI

Big Ten begins in The Big House. The last trip to Ann Arbor resulted in a bitter loss for Penn State, and the Wolverines have been surging under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh. It feels like a tough spot for Penn State as the Wolverines play their fourth straight home game to open the season.


Oct. 1

University Park, PA

After a road trip to Michigan, Penn State returns home to play for the Governor’s Bell trophy against Minnesota. Offense could be lacking though, as both teams ranked in the bottom three of the Big Ten in offense in 2015.


Oct. 8

12 PM ET

University Park, PA

Before getting to the bye week Penn State must defend its home field against its newest division rival to the south, Maryland. The Terrapins created some drama before kickoff last time and got to celebrate on their way out of town. Penn State won’t want a repeat of that.


Oct. 22



University Park, PA

It’s the game of the year on the Penn State home schedule as the Buckeyes come to town. Ohio State got the benefit of some controversial calls the last time it paid a visit, and Penn State took the eventual national champions to overtime. Can Penn State snap a four-game losing streak to Ohio State?

9. Oct. 29 West Lafayette, IN

A week after hosting the Buckeyes, Penn State hits the road for what should be a relatively much easier game against Purdue. The Boilermakers should not be too much of a threat regardless of the state of the Nittany Lions.


Nov. 5

7:30 PM ET


University Park, PA

Iowa has a history of giving Penn State some frustrating moments over the years. If the Hawkeyes’ defense plays the way it did in 2015 that could continue this November in Beaver Stadium.

11. Nov. 12 Bloomington, IN

Penn State has won two games against the Hoosiers since being tripped up in blowout fashion in 2013 in Bloomington. Penn State’s defense has clamped down on the Hoosiers each of the past two seasons, limiting Indiana to just seven points each time.


Nov. 19



Piscataway, NJ

Rutgers has developed a little bit of a knack for playing some Big Ten teams tougher at home compared to on the road. Penn State knows that well given its last trip to Rutgers two years ago. Expect another lively crowd, but what will each team be looking like in mid-November?

13. Nov. 26 University Park, PA

Michigan State will be coming off a home game against Ohio State. Could the Big Ten East be on the line once again for the Spartans? Perhaps the bigger question is how much will what should be a physical game against the Buckeyes take out of Sparty, if anything?


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for, and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/auburn-tigers-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

Auburn was arguably the most disappointing team in college football in 2015. The Tigers were predicted to win the SEC championship during SEC Media Days and considered by many to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.


Instead, Auburn finished last in the SEC West with a 7-6 (2-6 SEC) overall record. The Tigers ranked next to last (13th) among SEC teams in total defense in Will Muschamp's only season as defensive coordinator. Quarterback Jeremy Johnson also failed to live up to expectations as a preseason Heisman hopeful.


Related: Auburn Tigers 2016 Spring Football Preview


But Auburn could see a turnaround this season with an improved roster, despite facing a tough SEC West schedule. Here's a look at the Tigers' entire 2016 schedule.


2016 Auburn Tigers Schedule

Bye: Week 7


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3



Auburn, AL

Battle of the Tigers Auburn's season kicks off with a matchup against ACC Champion Clemson, which fell five points short of a national championship in January. Obviously, this will be a tough test for Auburn coming off a last-place finish in the SEC West and Clemson will be a heavy favorite.


Sept. 10

7:30 PM ET


Auburn, AL

Gus Malzahn coached at Arkansas State before taking over at Auburn in 2013. Beyond that, this should be an easy matchup for the Tigers. However, last season's game against Jacksonville State proved that no opponent should be taken lightly, especially a winning program like the Red Wolves, which are coming off a 9-4 (8-0 Sun Belt) finish in 2015. Still, the Tigers should be a heavy favorite leading up to kickoff.


Sept. 17



Auburn, AL

Malzahn and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin both enter 2016 on the hot seat, which would seem strange when they were two of the SEC's fastest rising coaches early in their tenures. This matchup will be crucial for both their job security and the SEC West standings.

4. Sept. 24 Auburn, AL

Auburn was decimated by Leonard Fournette during a historic 228-yard, three-touchdown performance in Death Valley last year. Fournette should be even better as a junior and Auburn's defense will have a tough time stopping him once again in 2016.

5. Oct. 1 Auburn, AL

ULM finished with a 2-11 overall record and was 1-7 against Sun Belt teams. This should be an easy win for Auburn.

6. Oct. 8 Starkville, MS

Mississippi State has the misfortune of having to replace Dak Prescott, the best player in program history. In total, the Bulldogs will lose seven players to the NFL Draft. Although this matchup could be competitive, Auburn should have the upper hand.

8. Oct. 22 Auburn, AL

Arkansas is a tough team to predict. Many expected the Razorbacks to be a contender in the SEC West last preseason. They answered by dropping three consecutive games in September before winning seven of their last nine, including a 54-46 overtime win over Auburn on Oct. 24. This should remain a competitive matchup with both teams vying for contention in a tough SEC West.

9. Oct. 29 Oxford, MS

Ole Miss has improved during each of Hugh Freeze's first four seasons. Many expect the Rebels to continue their success despite losing Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell, three of the top prospects from their program-changing 2013 recruiting class. But Ole Miss still has Chad Kelly, the SEC's 2015 passing leader, and return plenty of talent on defense. The Rebels may not be as good as they were in 2015, but should remain a tough matchup.

10. Nov. 5 Auburn, AL

Vanderbilt's defense made drastic improvements in Derek Mason's second season as head coach. However, its offense -- aside from standout running back Ralph Webb -- has failed to follow suit. If the Commodores can find stability in their passing attack they may be a surprise team. Either way, Vandy's defense should provide a surprisingly tough matchup.

11. Nov. 12 Athens, GA

Georgia fired Mark Richt, the second-winningest coach in school history, last season despite an eventual 10-win season. That's how high expectations are based on the current roster's level of talent. If Kirby Smart lives up to the lofty expectations set by being one of the nation's top assistants, the Bulldogs should be a legitimate contender in the SEC.

12. Nov. 19 Auburn, AL

Auburn should win this game fairly easily and by a rather large margin.

13. Nov. 26 Tuscaloosa, AL

Iron Bowl Regardless of the records, this remains Alabama and Auburn's biggest game of the year. Even if the Crimson Tide weren’t coming off a national championship this game would still be one of the biggest in college football. That additional factor makes it even more prestigious. Auburn managed to challenge the Tide for most of last year's matchup, despite falling 29-13 late. If the Tigers show improvement in 2016, this year's Iron Bowl should be even more entertaining.


— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.

Auburn Tigers 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

Following a snake-bitten 6-7 season, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley’s looking to take the momentum enjoyed in the Cornhuskers’ current recruiting cycle and turn it into a season that can be called “solid” at the very least.


Related: Nebraska Cornhuskers 2016 Spring Football Preview


The Huskers have one of the most potent offenses in the Big Ten and they’re going to need it as, thanks to some departures and major question marks, the quality of 2016’s Blackshirts is a huge unknown at this time.


2016 Nebraska Cornhuskers Schedule


Bye: Week 6


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3



Lincoln, NE

The Cornhuskers take their Top 25-quality offense for a drive against the Bulldogs for a third time. They’ll also get answers as to whether or not they can hold off a rushing attack after four defensive tackles with eligibility departed by the end of spring practice.


Sept. 10

12 PM ET


Lincoln, NE

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Craig Bohl leads the Cowboys back into Lincoln, but it’s unlikely the Cowboys can offer up a scare like the 37-34 opening game from 2013. A 2–10 squad in 2015, Wyoming should offer the Big Red another tune up.


Sept. 17

3:30 PM ET


Lincoln, NE

Even a change in conferences can’t help the Quack Attack evade Riley, but this time he’ll be wearing Scarlet and Cream. Nebraska’s defense will be taken to the limit and this contest may end up being a shootout.


Sept. 24

7:30 PM ET


Evantston, IL

Depending on how gassed the Ducks leave the Huskers, Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats may be able to take advantage of a winded Big Red team. This also will be Northwestern’s fourth straight home game, but the talent gap between Nebraska’s offense and the Cats’ defense is a wide one.


Oct. 1

3:30 PM ET

Lincoln, NE

Wes Lunt gets one more crack at the Huskers’ secondary and by this point in the season, we’ll have a good idea just how much it’s improved from last year, if at all. Wide receiver Mike Dudek’s absence from new Illini head coach Lovie Smith’s initial receiving corps won’t do the offense any favors, though.


Oct. 15

3:30 PM ET

Bloomington, IN

The first time these two teams meet on the gridiron since Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Hoosiers have far more questions than the Huskers do heading into the fall. Their secondary’s going to be tested by the Huskers’ offense, but who’ll be leading the charge for Indiana’s is still up in the air.

8. Oct. 22 Lincoln, NE

Losing to the Boilermakers was easily the low point of Nebraska’s 2015 campaign. Fortunately, the Big Red should have qualified backups this time around if (heaven forbid) Tommy Armstrong isn’t available. If he is, this should be nothing than a field day for the Husker offense.


Oct. 29



Madison, WI

Can the Big Red finally claim a win over the Badgers after coming so close last season? All signs point to yes if the Huskers’ offense can out-hustle a Wisconsin defense that will be breaking in plenty of new faces. This is another opportunity for the Nebraska receiving corps to shine.


Nov. 5



Columbus, OH

Nobody expects the Huskers to walk into The Shoe and leave with a victory, especially if the run defense is so-so at best. If Nebraska’s going to topple what will likely be a top 10 (if not top 5) team, it’ll need to force turnovers and put massive offensive numbers of its own on the board.


Nov. 12

7:30 PM ET


Linclon, NE

The Battle for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair trophy is another game that may come down to how well the Big Red can stop the run. Minnesota’s Shannon Brook, Rodney Smith, Jonathan Femi-Cole and James Johannesson are all quality choices.

12. Nov. 19 Lincoln, NE

These two teams have never met, but the second straight home game for the Huskers is a likely win for the home team. Last year’s cellar-dweller in the Big Ten East has a new head man in D. J. Durkin, but he’s not going to be able to turn his crew around fast enough for them to outpace the Big Red.

13. Nov. 25 Iowa City, IA

A game that could determine whether or not Nebraska represents the Big Ten West, but running back Jordan Canzeri, center Austin Blythe and guard Jordan Walsh all depart. The scoreboard may be busy for this game as well.


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to like his Facebook page follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and on Periscope (eightlaces).

Nebraska Cornhuskers 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/north-carolina-tar-heels-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

After last year’s march to the ACC title game, head coach Larry Fedora has put North Carolina in a place where the Tar Heels should start thinking about the possibility of conference championships and major bowl games every season. Part of the equation in achieving those goals is to have the right type of schedule.


Despite ripping off 11 straight wins to end the regular season, many analysts criticized UNC’s 2015 opponents. One of the main knocks on the schedule was that the Tar Heels played two FCS teams. That will remain an issue in 2016, but Carolina plays a bigger SEC brand in its opener and they face a national power in an ACC crossover game.

Related: North Carolina Tar Heels 2016 Spring Football Preview


2016 North Carolina Tar Heels Schedule


Bye: Week 9


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

5:30 PM ET


Atlanta, GA

Much like last year, the Tar Heels start their season with a neutral site game against an SEC foe. However, it is unlikely that Georgia finishes the year at 3-9 like South Carolina did last fall and playing the Bulldogs in Atlanta is totally different than going against the Gamecocks in Charlotte.


Sept. 10

7:30 PM ET


Champaign, IL

After facing Illinois in Chapel Hill in the second game of 2015, the Tar Heels head to Champaign to face the new-look Illini in week two. New Illinois coach Lovie Smith will be there to guide Wes Lunt during the quarterback’s final go-round and hopes to see running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn blossom during his sophomore season.


Sept. 17

3:30 PM ET


Chapel Hill, NC

The first of what will again be two games against FCS teams comes in week three against James Madison. The Harrisonburg, Va., school fields a solid FCS program that took down No. 13 Virginia Tech in 2010. But the Dukes have not been competitive against three Power Five programs since that win and lost to North Carolina 42-10 in 2011.

4. Sept. 24 Chapel Hill, NC

Last October, Pitt hosted North Carolina in a game that featured two teams that were undefeated in ACC play at the time. The Panthers will look to exact some revenge after UNC beat Pittsburgh 26-19 and assumed control of the ACC Coastal Division.

5. Oct. 1 Tallahassee, FL

One of North Carolina’s games against the Atlantic Division is always versus nearby rival NC State. Last year, the other was at home against Wake Forest. This year, the Heels greatly raise the competition level by going to Tallahassee to face a Florida State squad that will be in everyone’s top 10.

6. Oct. 8 Chapel Hill, NC

New head coach Justin Fuente should give the Hokies a spark on offense. But Virginia Tech loses a lot off of its defense and even great defensive coordinator Bud Foster will have his hands full trying to slow down North Carolina’s potent offense.

7. Oct. 15 Miami Gardens, FL

North Carolina not only faces Georgia, it also will square off against the Bulldogs’ old coach when the Heels head to Miami to face Mark Richt and his Hurricanes. North Carolina’s pass defense was solid in 2015 and much of the secondary returns. But Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya will test the skills of any defensive unit.

8. Oct. 22 Charlottesville, VA

For the fifth time in the first eight games, North Carolina will face a team with a new head coach. Bronco Mendenhall comes from BYU to Virginia and will attempt to install the same rugged, hard-nosed style of play that was synonymous with his Cougar teams.

10. Nov. 5 Chapel Hill, NC

Georgia Tech is coming off a disastrous 2015 season, one that ended with just three victories. The Jackets should come out this year with a renewed sense of purpose and a North Carolina defense that was pummeled by good running games last year could be threatened by Tech’s triple option attack.


Nov. 10

7:30 PM ET


Durham, NC

It is a road game on a short week, but the drive over to Durham should not be too grueling for the Tar Heels. Duke will have to replace team leaders in safety Jeremy Cash and center Matt Skura while finding a solution at quarterback after Thomas Sirk tore his Achilles tendon.

12. Nov. 19 Chapel Hill, NC

The Military College of South Carolina made the FCS playoffs and advanced to the second round before losing to crosstown rival Charleston Southern last season. Quarterback Dominique Allen returns to run Citadel’s option system, something Heels defensive coordinator Gene Chizik should be able to corral after playing Georgia Tech two weeks earlier.


Nov. 26

Chapel Hill, NC

North Carolina won a high-scoring affair in Raleigh last year and there could be fireworks again this year. Both the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack must replace outstanding quarterbacks. But while the Heels know that Mitch Trubisky is next in line, Jalan McClendon and Jakobi Meyers will compete for the starting job at NC State.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

North Carolina Tar Heels 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Clemson Tigers, College Football
Path: /college-football/clemson-tigers-2016-football-schedule-and-analysis

The Clemson Tigers tasted a lot of success in 2015. An ACC title. An Orange Bowl victory. A spot in the national championship game.


But there is one major goal that was left unclaimed. And on Sept. 3, the Tigers will begin their quest for the national title that escaped them this past January.

Related: Clemson Tigers 2016 Spring Football Preview


2016 Clemson Tigers Schedule


Bye: Week 8


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3



Auburn, AL

Season-Opening Tiger Fight Opening with an SEC West opponent on the road is not exactly easing into the schedule. If Auburn finds an answer to its quarterback question, this could be a nasty battle of Tigers.


Sept. 10

12:30 PM ET


Clemson, SC

Quarterback Brandon Silvers returns from the Trojans’ 45th-ranked passing offense. But they lose hybrid linebacker Tyler Roberts, their biggest playmaker on defense, so stopping the Tigers’ potent offense will be a problem.


Sept. 17

12 PM ET


Clemson, SC

The warm-up game that often comes in week one occurs in week three as the Tigers match up against the FCS team from Orangeburg. This will be a good respite before ACC action commences the following Thursday.


Sept. 22

7:30 PM ET


Atlanta, GA

ACC Opener = Trap Game? A short week is never good in preparing for the Jackets’ option attack. But with South Carolina State as the previous opponent, Clemson should have no problem getting ready for Paul Johnson, Justin Thomas and the Georgia Tech ground game.

5. Oct. 1 Clemson, SC

A dangerous game against a dangerous team. Louisville returns just about all of its offensive production, headlined by rising sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson, and most of the defense as well. It helps Clemson that the Tigers have a few extra days to prepare and the game is at Death Valley.


Oct. 7

7:30 PM ET


Chestnut Hill, MA

Boston College had a miserable 2015 season, going winless in ACC play. Head coach Steve Addazio will have his team motivated to play and the defense will again be strong despite losing a few key components. But the Eagles will again be challenged offensively and Clemson can score on anyone.

7. Oct. 15 Clemson, SC

The Wolfpack are always a pesky foe for any top team. Clemson knows that from last year as NC State gave the Tigers some difficulties on Halloween. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett needs to be replaced but running back Matt Dayes and the bulk of a strong defense returns.

9. Oct. 29 Tallahassee, FL

ACC Game of the Year? Once again, this will probably be the game of the year in the ACC and will have ramifications for College Football Playoff positioning. The Tigers will have a week off before visiting Dalvin Cook and the Seminoles.

10. Nov. 5 Clemson, SC

Syracuse enters 2016 with a new head coach and a new offensive style. And though they bring just about everyone back on defense, the nation’s No. 99 team in total defense will find it difficult to slow down the Tigers.

11. Nov. 12 Clemson, SC

This ACC crossover game marks just the second time the Panthers and Tigers have met. In 1977, Pittsburgh closed its season by beating Clemson 34-3 in the Gator Bowl.

12. Nov. 19 Winston-Salem, NC

The Demon Deacons relied heavily on freshmen and sophomores in 2015 and that experience should pay off next fall. Paying off in a way that they are able to knock off the Tigers is another story, however.

13. Nov. 26 Clemson, SC

This year’s Palmetto State battle will be held in the upstate. After losing five in a row to the boys from Columbia, Clemson will be looking to win its third straight in the bitter rivalry.


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

Clemson Tigers 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/fcs-football-best-games-predictions-week-1-2016

Head coaching debuts and matchups versus FBS opponents highlight the a full slate of Week 1 action in the FCS.


North Dakota State and Charleston Southern got the season rolling in the FCS Kickoff last weekend. Every team ranked in the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll except five-time national champ NDSU is in action over the extended Labor Day Weekend.


Here are the games of the week:


Note: All times ET


Thursday, Sept. 1


No. 19 Western Illinois (0-0) at Eastern Illinois (0-0), 7 p.m.

Former Richmond offensive coordinator Charlie Fisher makes his debut as WIU’s head coach, while EIU third-year head coach Kim Dameron remarkably seeks his first non-conference win (0-8). Teams left short of an FCS at-large playoff bid last year complained the most about the WIU and EIU bids. WIU won a playoff game, while EIU was blown out by Northern Iowa.
Pick: Western Illinois


No. 10 The Citadel (0-0, 0-0 Southern) at Mercer (0-0, 0-0), 7 p.m.

After winning a share of the Southern Conference title last year, The Citadel turns to redshirt freshman Jordan Black at quarterback because starter Dominique Allen is suspended for Brent Thompson’s head coaching debut. Mercer is a dark horse in the SoCon, having beaten co-champ Chattanooga at home last season.
Pick: The Citadel


Montana State (0-0) at Idaho (0-0), 9 p.m.

Clearly, it’s an important night of debuts for new FCS head coaches and Jeff Choate tries to begin revitalize Montana State following its first losing season since 2001. Two years from now, this will be a Big Sky Conference game after Idaho drops from the FBS to its old stomping ground.
Pick: Idaho


Friday, Sept. 2


No. 23 Colgate (0-0) at Syracuse (0-0), 7 p.m.

Defending Patriot League champ Colgate is playing only a 10-game schedule — with road trips to Yale and Richmond up next — so the Raiders may want to leave at least a good impression on the Orange. Still, head coach Dan Hunt’s veteran team must be thinking upset after the Raiders won twice on the road in last year’s playoffs.
Pick: Syracuse


Saturday, Sept. 3


Fordham (0-0) at Navy (0-0), noon

The Rams opened last season with a win at Army West Point. OK, Navy is a higher level of FBS opponent, but the Rams bring 18 returning starters, including record-setting running back Chase Edmonds, into head coach Andrew Breiner’s first game. The seniors also remember a win at Temple in 2013.
Pick: Navy


No. 20 Villanova (0-0) at Pittsburgh, 1:30 p.m.

Head coach Andy Talley begins his 32nd and final season leading ‘Nova. He’s won 221 games with the Wildcats and his next victory will be his 250th overall. NFL scouts will monitor the play of defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon – tawn-o pass-N-yo for those pronouncing at home.
Pick: Pittsburgh


No. 4 Richmond (0-0) at Virginia (0-0), 3:30 p.m.

The Spiders, deep on both sides of the ball with 16 returning starters, will try to spoil the debut of new Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Richmond features both CAA Football preseason players of the year — quarterback Kyle Lauletta and safety David Jones.
Pick: Richmond


No. 3 Northern Iowa (0-0) at Iowa State (0-0), 8 p.m.

Call this the rubber match for the senior classes because UNI won in Ames in 2013 and fell 31-7 last year. With 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Aaron Bailey and running back Tyvis Smith as well as a veteran offensive line, UNI has the ground game to control the clock.
Pick: Iowa State


No. 12 Eastern Washington (0-0) at Washington State (0-0), 8 p.m.

In three career games against Pac-12 teams, EWU wide receiver Cooper Kupp has caught 28 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. Despite the return of a 3,000-yard passer in Jordan West, the Eagles have switched quarterbacks to Gabe Gubrud, a redshirt sophomore.
Pick: Washington State


Sunday, Sept. 4


Alcorn State (0-0) at Bethune-Cookman (0-0), 1 p.m.

The MEAC-SWAC Challenge moves to campus sites, beginning this season. The MEAC has dominated the series between the two historically black FCS conferences, winning five straight and nine of the 11 games. Alcorn, the two-time defending SWAC champ now led by first-year head coach Fred McNair, is playing in the Challenge for the first time, while Bethune won its prior appearances in 2011 and ’12.
Pick: Alcorn State


— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.


(Top photo by University of Richmond Athletics)

FCS Football: Best Games and Predictions for Week 1
Post date: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 09:30