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Preseason Magazines

July 31st

College Football at 150: Ralphie of the game’s most iconic symbols

From CBS Sports … College football is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2019, and it’s time to begin celebrating as the season draws near. Legendary plays, dramatic games and superstars of the sport have littered the college football landscape during its existence. To help celebrate, the CBS Sports college football crew got together to determine the 15 most iconic symbols in college football history.

These noteworthy elements can range from iconic headgear, unmatched traditions and unique mascots to some of the greatest sights and sounds of the game. Narrowing 150 years of symbolism down to 15 representative pieces was nearly impossible. Because of that, there are several honorable mentions at the bottom of each section because making some of these choices felt like splitting hairs …

Ralphie the Buffalo

Prior to each half of Colorado home games, “Ralphie Handlers” run with Ralphie — the program’s giant buffalo mascot — around Folsom Field. The five handlers are athletes on other Colorado programs, and they steer Ralphie while she takes off to a top speed of 25 mph in a horseshoe pattern. The tradition started during the final game of the 1934 season. Students paid $25 to rent a calf to be on the sidelines . Buffaloes appeared from time to time until Oct. 1, 1966, when the original Ralphie became a staple of the sidelines. One of the more interesting aspects of Ralphie is that her care and travel expenses are funded exclusively by Buffaloes fans. Honorable mention goes to other live animal mascots including Texas’ Bevo — a close second — Georgia’s Uga, Tennessee’s Smokey, Texas A&M’s Reveille and LSU’s Mike the Tiger

Read full list here

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July 30th

Sixteen teams with a shot at the national championship (surprise! Four are from the Pac-12)

From CBS Sports … When the 2019 season begins on Saturday, Aug. 24, every team will have the same record, and theoretically, the same chance of winning the College Football Playoff. Except … they won’t. Based on what we’ve seen in the first five years of the CFP, we can draw plenty of conclusions as to the teams that will actually have an opportunity to take home the trophy at year’s end.

First, let’s eliminate Group of Five schools from the jump. That leaves us with the Power Five teams along with Notre Dame, but even then, not all Power Five programs are created equally. Within those 65 teams in any given year, there are never more than 10 real contenders for the national title.

To run down the field and earn a spot in the CFP, you need to have a combination of factors working in your favor. One of the most important being a roster talented enough — and remaining healthy enough — to get through your schedule with as few flaws displayed as possible. Strength of schedule can work both for and against you, depending which games you potentially drop.

So which teams are the real title contenders entering 2019? Below is a list of 16 teams broken down into tiers. To be clear: Just because a team is on this list does not mean I’m predicting that it will be a threat in 2019. I have a few listed who I do not believe will be a factor, but because of their pedigree and talent level, they cannot be ruled out entirely.

Traditional powers

Michigan, LSU, Texas, USC: These are the four schools that have plenty of history but have yet to make a College Football Playoff appearance. We’ll start with the one that made you do a double-take. No, I don’t think USC is going to reach the playoff this year, but it’s still USC, and it’s still a roster loaded with talent. It’s also in the Pac-12 where there isn’t another obvious choice to win the conference, and USC also has the brand appeal. Should the Trojans defy expectations and win the Pac-12, they’ll be a real threat for playoff selection as long as they don’t have more than one loss.

West Coast biased against

Oregon, Utah, Washington: Whether it’s reality or more of a narrative, I’ll let you decide for yourself, but it’s hard to deny that there has been a gap between the Pac-12 and the rest of the Power Five in recent years. The conference just hasn’t earned much respect nationally, and a lot of that is on the league itself. The conference is considering all sorts of ideas to raise its profile, but what would help more than anything is having a dominant team. The Pac-12 doesn’t have one right now.

I listed USC earlier, but the Trojans aren’t a favorite in the conference this year. These three schools are the favorites, but when conference title odds were first released earlier this summer, Washington and Oregon were co-faves with Utah right behind them. And that’s the problem the Pac-12 faces right now. Parity is great for exciting conference title races, and exciting games on Saturday, but it’s not a good thing for playoff consideration or getting through a league with one loss or fewer.

Read full story here

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July 29th

College Football News: CU one of the most valuable Pac-12 bets 

From the College Football News … How many games will all of the Power Five teams win, what are the Vegas win totals, and where’s the value and what’s going to happen? With the win totals coming from Westgate, here’s where to go … if you dabble.

From the Pac-12 … 

Arizona 6.5 Over Even, Under -120

The Play Is: Under. The odds are stronger and the Pac-12 schedule is too nasty. If you like Texas Tech over the Cats on Sept. 14, then love the under.

Arizona State 6.5

The Play Is: Stay Away, but if you have to, under. The Pac-12 is too scary – even with no Washington on the slate, and there’s a trip to Michigan State.

Cal 5.5 Over -130 Under +110

The Play Is: Over. If last year’s team could get to six with no offense, this one can do it, too. However, the Bears had better win at Ole Miss to get there.

Colorado 4 Over Even, Under -120

The Play Is: OVER. The Buffs are going to beat Colorado State and Air Force, and they’re going to be strong enough to get by, say, Arizona at home and maybe even Nebraska. They’ll get to five wins.

Oregon 8.5 Over -130, Under +110

The Play Is: Over. Even though the Ducks are going to lose the season opener to Auburn … they might not. If they win, the over is no problem. This is a potential ten-win team talent-wise.

Oregon State 2.5 Over -160, Under +140

The Play Is: OVER. There’s no value, but the Beavers will beat Cal Poly, they should beat Hawaii, and they’ll pull off at least one Pac-12 win. It’s the worst team in the Pac-12, but it’ll be better than 2018.

Stanford 7 Over Even, Under -120

The Play Is: Over. The value is better, and the Cardinal should be closer to nine wins than six. Don’t get scared by the brutal schedule to start the season – David Shaw isn’t going 7-5.

UCLA 6.5 Over +110, Under -130

The Play Is: Under, buuuuuuuuut, be scared of this. The Bruins might just turn on the offense under Chip Kelly and be this season’s bust-out team, but at Cincinnati, Oklahoma, at Wazzu, at Arizona, at Stanford, at Utah, at USC. That’s a bad place to start.

USC 7 Over -140, Under +120

The Play Is: Over. It had better be over, and easily, or there’s a regime change coming. It’ll be work – this is closer to an eight-win team than 6-6 – but the Trojans will get there.

Utah 9 Over -130, Under +110

The Play Is: Under. But only because of the value. Nine wins is right on it, but 10-2 is just too much to ask for – even if the Utes have a great shot at repeating as South champs.

Washington 9.5 Over -120, Under Even

The Play Is: Under. The value is better, but almost all of the tough games are at home. Nine is the right call – 10-2 is a bit too much of a reach considering it’s at -120.

Washington State 8

The Play Is: Ugh … Under, if you have to. Eight wins is right at the mark, and that probably includes a win over Washington to get there. The Cougars have too many landmines to go with the over.

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July 26th

Laviska Shenault named to Walter Camp Award (best player) Award Watch list 

… Final preaseason tally … Seven Buffs named to 14 Watch lists … 

From CUBuffs.com … Junior WR Laviska Shenault Jr. was named to his fourth watch list and twice in as many days Friday as the Walter Camp Football Foundation published its list of players to watch for its National Player of the Year award.

Shenault, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver from DeSoto, Texas, is one of 40 players on the list and one of five wide receivers on the list.  He has previously been named to the Maxwell Award (nation’s top player), Biletnikoff Award (top receiver) and Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) watch lists.

A consensus first-team mideseason All-American last season as a sophomore, he led the nation in receiving, averaging 9.6 receptions per game.  He missed three games due to injury, but still finished the season with 86 catches for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns and added 17 rushes for 118 yards and five touchdowns.

Of his 103 offensive touches, he was tackled by one player just 24 times and 634 of his receiving yards came after the catch and 346 after contact.

The Buffs now have seven players with 14 watch list nods this month.  On top of Shenault’s four watch list nods, DE Mustafa Johnson (Bednarik Award, Nagurski Trophy), P Alex Kinney (Ray Guy Award) ILB Nate Landman (Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy), C Tim Lynott (Rimington Award), QB Steven Montez (Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award), and OLB Davion Taylor (Butkus Award) have also earned various watch list honors.

Friday marked the final day of the National College Football Awards Association announcements on watch lists, which included a total of 16 awards.  The Buffs had players on 10 of those 16 award watch lists.

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July 25th

Laviska Shenault adds another Watch List – Paul Hornung Award (nation’s most versatile player)

From the Daily Camera … Add another preseason honor for Colorado’s Laviska Shenault.

On Thursday, the Buffaloes’ receiver was named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which honors the most versatile player in college football.

A junior, Shenault lined up at five different positions on offense, including wildcat quarterback, during the 2018 season.

As a sophomore, Shenault played in only nine games because of injury, but he caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing 17 times for 115 yards and five touchdowns. His 9.6 catches per game led the country and he was fourth with 112.3 receiving yards per game.

Shenault’s 86 catches in 2018 rank as the third-best single-season total in CU history, and his 1,011 yards rank ninth.

Shenault has also been named to the watch lists for the Maxwell Award (player of the year) and Biletnikoff Award (top receiver). This week, he was the only unanimous selection for the preseason All-Pac-12 team voted on by the media. Shenault has also been on several preseason All-American lists.

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July 24th

The Athletic: Laviska Shenault the No. 1 draft-eligible wide receiver in the nation

From The Athletic … Few would disagree the 2014 draft class of pass-catchers is the best wide receiver class of the last decade or two (or longer).

But the 2020 crop of wideouts has the potential to rival that historic group, which is saying something considering six of the top-10 highest-paid NFL receivers (current average salary per year) are from that 2014 class: Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry and Davante Adams.

The toughest part of compiling the top-five wide receivers who will potentially be part of the 2020 NFL Draft is leaving a few names on the cutting room floor. In fact, I cheated and added a sixth receiver in the write-up below. Even so, it was tough not including several underclassmen like Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace (5-foot-11, 189 pounds) and Michigan’s Donovan Peoples-Jones (6-2, 211). And from the senior class, Texas’ Collin Johnson (6-6, 221) is a potential top-50 prospect as well.

It will be a fun race to evaluate as this talented receiver group jockeys for draft position leading up to next April.

(Note: heights and weights are what NFL teams have on file for each player and may differ from school rosters)

1. Laviska Shenault Jr., junior, Colorado (6-foot-2, 224 pounds)

Best trait: playmaking skills

Deep, intermediate or short, Shenault is a playmaker at every level of the field. He averaged almost 10 catches per game last season (86 catches in nine games) as Colorado wisely force-fed their best player on offense. He also accounted for 17 carries and five rushing scores, often operating out of a wildcat formation.

Shenault is physically impressive with plus play strength and acceleration. He is highly competitive before, during and after the catch, forcing defensive backs to match his physicality or end up in his rearview mirror. He has powerful, confident hands to extend and snatch the football, regardless of coverage, and shows exactly that on this catch out of the slot. Shenault has enough speed to stack the inside defensive back, track the football and finish with full extension, converting third-and-long.

Must improve: durability

As the Buffaloes’ best player, Shenault saw a heavy workload last season and his body couldn’t keep up. He was the main reason Colorado started 5-0, including wins over Nebraska and Arizona State. However, injuries cut into his playing time and contributed to the team’s seven-game losing streak to finish 2018.

This offseason, Shenault underwent surgeries to repair a torn left labrum and a turf toe issue, sitting out spring practice. His ability to stay healthy and on the field in 2019 will be key to his NFL evaluation.

2019 Season/2020 NFL Draft outlook

“A not-as-fast, but more-physical version of Sammy Watkins”

That was my initial thought after watching Shenault’s film. I ran that comparison past an NFL scout buddy, and this was his response: “Bingo. Best player I saw in person last season.”

Shenault, who was a late bloomer in high school, was the Colorado offense last year and not much should change this season, despite a new coaching staff and offensive play-caller. His blend of athleticism, size and competitive nature are outstanding and the reason why he starts the season as my No. 1 draft-eligible receiver prospect.

Read full story here (subscription required) …

Alex Kinney one of four Pac-12 punters to be named to Ray Guy Award Watch List

From CUBuffs.com … Senior P Alex Kinney was named to the Ray Guy Award Watch List Wednesday, becoming the seventh player to earn a spot on a watch list in the past two weeks.

Given to the nation’s top punter, Kinney was added to the watch list for the second straight season.  Mark Mariscal won the award for the Buffs in 2002, one of the first seasons it was awarded.

Kinney, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound fifth-year senior from Fort Collins, Colo., has played in 43 career games and is currently 11th in CU history with a career average of 41.63.  He has 73 punts inside the 20, second most in CU history. Since 2017, he has 72 punts for an average of 43.6 yard with a net of 41.6 with 35 inside the 20 and just three touchbacks.  He took advantage of the new redshirt rule, as he was injured in the second game of the season against Nebraska and missed eight games before returning for the final two games of the season.  The new rule enabled him to redshirt without applying for a medical hardship waiver.

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July 23rd

Mustafa Johnson and Nate Landman  named to Nagurski Trophy watch list

Full list can be found here (12 players total from the Pac-12) …

From the Daily Camera … Colorado linebacker Nate Landman and defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson continue getting noticed nationally.

On Tuesday, both were named to the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, which honors the most outstanding defensive player in the country.

The Nagurski Trophy, established in 1993, is presented by the Football Writers Association of American and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.

Earlier this month, Landman and Johnson were both named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, the Maxwell Football Club’s defensive player of the year honor. On Monday, Landman was also named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which honors the top linebacker in the country.

Continue reading story here

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July 22nd

Nate Landman and Davion Taylor named to Butkus Award Watch List

RelatedFull list of players named to Butkus Award Watch list … 

From CUBuffs.com …  Colorado linebackers Nate Landman and Davion Taylor have been named to the Butkus Award preseason watch list, adding to the group of Colorado players designated as preseason national awards candidates.

It is the second watch list designation for Landman, who earlier this month was named to the Bednarik Award list. Other Buffs who have been named so far include OL Tim Lynott (Rimington Award), DE Mustafa Johnson (Bednarik Award), QB Steven Montez (Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award) and WR Laviska Shenault Jr. (Biletnikoff Award, Maxwell Award).

Landman, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior inside linebacker from Danville, Calif., started all 12 games last season for CU and led the Buffs in tackles (13) and interceptions (two), while also recording four sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He recorded seven games with double-digit tackle totals and four games with 13-plus tackles, and earned national defensive player of the week honors once (Nagurski Award) as well as Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week designation once. He was a midseason first-team All-American selection by Pro Football Focus, and a year-end second-team All-Pac-12 pick by the Associated Press and Phil Steele’s College Football.

Taylor, a 6-2, 225-pound outside linebacker from Magnolia, Miss., started 10 games last season and is expected to fill the Buffs’ “star” position this year, a hybrid linebacker-safety spot in head coach Mel Tucker‘s 3-4 alignment. Taylor, whose speed and size make him one of the most versatile players on the field, was third on the team in tackles last year with 75. He also recorded 11 third-down stops and 11 quarterback pressures (both second-best on the team) and had two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown against New Hampshire. A relative newcomer to the game — he did not play high school ball — he steadily improved throughout the season, with 37 of his 75 tackles coming in the last four games of the year.

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July 19th

Tim Lynott Jr. named to Rimington Trophy watch list 

From the Daily Camera … Colorado’s Tim Lynott, Jr., has been named to the preseason watch list for the Dave Rimington Trophy.

Established in 2000, the Rimington Trophy honors the best center in college football.

Lynott, a fifth-year senior and three-year starter, has primarily played right guard during his career with the Buffaloes, but he is projected to start at center this season.

At CU, Lynott has played in 36 games, with 33 starts (29 at right guard, four at center). His four starts at center came in 2017.

During spring practices this year, Lynott moved to center. He comes into this season as the Buffs’ most experienced lineman.

CU has never had a player win the Rimington Trophy, but in 2005, Mark Fenton was one of six finalists.

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July 18th

Laviska Shenault named to Biletnikoff Award watch list

From the Daily Camera … Preseason honors continue rolling in for Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault.

On Thursday, the junior was named to the watch list for the Fred Biletnikoff Award. Established in 1994, the award honors the top receiver in the country.

On Monday, Shenault was also named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the top player in college football. He has also been on several preseason All-American lists.

Last year as a sophomore, Shenault played in only nine games because of injury and caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns, while also rushing 17 times for 115 yards and five touchdowns. His 9.6 catches per game led the country and he was fourth with 112.3 receiving yards per game.

Shenault’s 86 catches in 2018 rank as the third-best single-season total in CU history, and his 1,011 yards rank ninth.

CU has never had a player win the Biletnikoff Award, but Rae Carruth was one of three finalists in 1996 and Nelson Spruce one of 10 semifinalists in 2014.

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July 17th

Top 100 players (20 from Pac-12): Laviska Shenault the top player in the Pac-12

From FanSided … Ranking the Top 100 college football players for the 2019 season, headlines by leading Heisman Trophy contenders, Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence and Jonathan Taylor.

From the Pac-12 (20 players in all. By school:    Oregon: 3; Utah: 3; Colorado: 2; Washington: 2; USC: 2; Cal: 2; Arizona: 2; Stanford: 2; UCLA: 1; Arizona State: 1; Washington State: 0; Oregon State: 0) … 

95. Michael Pittman – WR – USC

91. Jaylinn Hawkins – DB – Cal

85. Trey Adams – OL – Washington

83. Benning Potoa’e – LB – Washington

80. Christian Rector – LB – USC

78. Julian Blackmon – DB – Utah

76. Kahlil Tate – QB – Arizona

74. Darney Holmes – DB – UCLA

72. K.J. Costello – QB – Stanford

68. Thomas Graham, Jr. – DB – Oregon

64. Nate Landman – LB – Colorado … Defensive end Mustafa Johnson (97.47), who ranks second nationally with an average of 1.5 Production Points per game in his young FBS career, barely missed out on our list. However, linebacker Nate Landman, who led the Buffs with 15 PPs last year while racking up 105 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, 24.5 run stuffs, four sacks, two picks and two forced fumbles, did.

60. Troy Dye – LB – Oregon

51. Shane Lemieux – OL – Oregon

38. Jaylon Johnson – DB – Utah

35. Walker Little – OL – Stanford

30. Eno Benjamin – RB – Arizona State

28. Bradlee Anae – DL – Utah

27. Evan Weaver – LB – Cal

23. Colin Schooler – LB – Arizona

19. Laviska Shenault – WR – Colorado … Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault, Jr. led the Pac-12 with 86 receptions and ranked No. 4 in the conference with 1,011 receiving yards despite missing three games with an injury. Shenault burst onto the national scene in Week 1 with 211 receiving yards and a TD on 11 receptions (all more than he had in 12 games as a freshman in 2017) and guided the Buffs to a 5-0 start before he was sidelined. Also utilized as a Wildcat quarterback, Shenault added 115 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 17 carries.

Read full list here

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What would be the makeup of a 16-team playoff in 2019?

From 247 Sports … For those clamoring for an expanded playoff system in college football, you’re in for a treat.

Let’s talk hypothetically for a bit and try to determine how a 16-team Ultimate Playoff could actually happen in the current landscape.

Advocates for the current final four model aren’t nearly as loud as those in favor of seeing others teams receiving an opportunity at winning college football’s prize. There are great debates annually on the teams left out of the Playoff and expanding takes much of the selection committee’s perceived subjectivity during the voting process out of it.

… Using our preseason AP Top 25 projection as a guide, we’ve slotted eight first-round matchups directly from corresponding spots in the ranking. In this hypothetical model, there’s no automatic bids for conference champions, no first-round byes and the Top 16 teams in the CFB Playoff selection committee’s final poll after conference championships are decided make the field.

It is up to the committee’s discretion, behind closed doors, to try and avoid repeat regular-season matchups in the first round of the Playoff. Tinkering with the final Top 16 should solve the issue, but for this exercise, you’re going to see repeat games ala Texas A&M at Alabama in the first round (again, based on seed).

Take the eight first-round games and play them at the higher seed’s home field. The four second-round games can be played at four New Year’s Six sites with the two semifinal contests hosted by the other two NY6 components on a rotational annual basis.

One unavoidable headache with a 16-team Ultimate Playoff? Recruiting becomes a lot tougher in December and January should you survive and advance.

Complete with hypothetical betting lines based on a variety of factors including home-field advantage and 2019 win-loss projections based on where we expect these teams to fall in the polls, here’s a look at the Ultimate Playoff’s eight first-round games:

The matchups

No. 16 UCF at No. 1 Clemson (-20.5)

No. 15 Texas A&M at No. 2 Alabama (-13.5)

No. 14 Auburn at No. 3 Georgia (-7.5)

No. 13 Washington at No. 4 Ohio State (-10.5)

No. 12 Penn State at No. 5 Oklahoma (-14.5)

No. 11 Oregon at No. 6 LSU (-8.5)

No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 7 Texas (-3)

No. 9 Michigan at No. 8 Florida (-3.5)

Most competitive game: Notre Dame at Texas (potentially a 1 or 2-loss Irish team vs. Big 12 runner-up)

Ripe for an upset: Auburn at Georgia (this would be the second time these teams have played this season)

Most lopsided game: UCF at Clemson (the Group of 5’s best team vs. the unbeaten No. 1 overall seed)

Continue reading story here (with matchups all the way to the national championship game) …

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July 16th

William Sherman: One of the best tackles in the Pac-12

Related: “Top 2019 Pac-12 offensive linemen” … from PacificTakes.com (also mentions Sherman)

From TheBootLeg.com … When Stanford’s Walker Little was a younger player, the time had come for him to embrace a role at offensive tackle, something he initially balked at when it was presented. His father Doug calmly told him, “Walker, after quarterbacks, tackles in the NFL get paid the most!” That altered his perspective, and Stanford is certainly glad Little embraced what is clearly the position he was born to play.

Tackle, especially QB blind-side tackle, has indeed risen above every other position at pretty much every other level from high school up in terms of importance. With more offenses focused on doing more and more throwing, the ability to protect quarterbacks not 20-25 times a game, but now upwards of 40-50 times on passing plays, has made the position an absolute necessity. The Pac-12, despite disappointing team results, has not been suffering from a dearth of talent, although are look at who’s returning at tackle this season does point us towards some interesting questions and revelations about both 2018 and the season to come. The invaluable Pro Football Focus provides the grades as we look at the ten highest-graded tackles set to return to the Conference of Champions in 2019.

No. 9 – William Sherman, Colorado

Every fiber of my being wanted Sherman’s middle name to be Tecumseh but alas, Colorado’s team site does not confirm it. The 6’4” 305-pounder from Allen, Texas did a nice job in pass-protecting but graded out very poorly as a run-blocker. Clearly the Buffaloes are hoping to stampede behind Sherman’s marches in 2019, or at least that he’ll be able to cover his assignments on run plays better than in 2018. Sherman does seem to be taking this aspect of his game seriously, as Colorado reports that he during the team’s strength and conditioning testing at the end of the spring semester he power cleaned 315 pounds.

Sherman, like Burton, redshirted his freshman year in Boulder. He’s used to playing with and protecting elite talent, as his sophomore year in high school saw his Allen Eagles win a state championship in which Sherman blocked for quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 316 yards and five touchdowns against Cypress Ranch playing at AT&T Stadium. Sherman is enrolled in Colorado’s College of Arts and Sciences, but is undecided on a major (He carried a 3.3 GPA in high school) and he was born in Raleigh, N.C. on May 27, 1999. A second-team All-District selection as a senior, he was the offensive lineman of the year for Allen High School playing under coach Terry Gambill. Playing on the varsity team from his sophomore year on, he helped the Eagles compile a 44-2 record, which included a 16-0 sophomore season when they won the Class 6A Division I state championship. His next two years his teams went 14-1 and reached the semifinals of the state playoffs each season and he garnered honorable mention all-district honors as a junior.

Read full list here

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July 15th

Westgate Las Vegas Superbook: CU will need an upset to get to last year’s win total 

From 247 Sports … Last season saw Washington meet expectations as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12 Conference and Utah catch fire on the other side as winners on the South side.

Both teams are again considered the favorites in their respective divisions but not by much.

Do USC and UCLA take steps forward after missed bowl games? Is Oregon a legitimate College Football Playoff contender under Mario Cristobal?

It is prediction time for the people in Las Vegas. Heading into training camp, the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook set the over-under bets on every Pac-12 team’s win total for the regular season. Some of the numbers may surprise you.

Colorado: 4 — The hot Colorado start from last year crashed down quickly with seven-straight losses and firing of Mike MacInture. Mel Tucker enters with low expectations but the QB-WR combination for the Buffaloes should be good for some upset bids in conference play.

Read full list here

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July 14th

247 Sports Pac-12 Preview: CU picked in tie for 2nd in the Pac-12 South

CompareJoeBruin.com, which has CU finishing with a 1-11, 0-9 record

From 247 Sports … The Pac-12’s had its share of struggles the last few seasons. From officiating controversies to the lowest Power Five revenue shares to poor on-field play, it’s been a rough run for “The Conference of Champions” from a football perspective.

It’s been two years since the Pac-12 sent a representative to the College Football Playoff. More alarmingly, the league hasn’t been particularly close. The Pac-12’s top contender has largely been eliminated by November each of the last two seasons.

The Pac-12 is a deep league. Eleven of the 12 teams in the conference harbor legitimate bowl expectations. But the search for a national contender is the question that looms over the Pac-12 less than two months removed from the season.

  1. The Bunched-Up Pac-12 South: I give a preseason ranking for each division late in this issue. But you’ll notice something a little different in the South: Behind Utah at No. 1, every other program is tied for second. Why? Things are that indistinguishable this far out. Call it a cop-out if you’d like, but Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA and Colorado all have a legitimate ceiling as a contender in the division. All five of those programs have bowl expectations, and all five come with significant question marks. Remember, this division had three possible winners going into Week 12 of last season. Colorado, which finished last in the league, started 5-0 before a 0-7 swoon. Arizona State lost to the Buffaloes but beat first place Utah by 18. You get the point. USC is the division’s most talented team, Colorado probably has the division’s best player (Laviska Shenault), the Arizona schools are possible division winners depending on how their QB situations shake out and UCLA has the division’s best coach (Chip Kelly). I’d be lying if I said I knew how things in the South will shake out behind Utah. It’s the most open and competitive division in the Power Five – at least from the perspective of evenness of quality across the board. It’s what makes the Pac-12 South one of the most interesting divisions in sports, not just college football. Pac-12 After Dark is a must see this year because anyone can beat anyone from week to week.

Pac-12 South predictions: 

1. Utah
2. Arizona
2. Arizona State
2. Colorado
2. UCLA
2. USC

Read full story here

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July 13th

The Athletic 2019 “Freaks List” includes Laviska Shenault

From The Athletic … Since the early 2000s, I’ve spotlighted the biggest Freaks in college football around this time of year. The premise: Showcase guys who generate buzz inside their programs by displaying the type of rare physical abilities that wow even those folks who are used to observing gifted athletes every day.

Several defensive linemen have earned the No. 1 spot, from SMU’s Margus Hunt to Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney or last year’s top guy, Michigan’s Rashan Gary. There have been running backs (Penn State’s Saquon Barkley), super-sized DBs (USC’s Taylor Mays) and powerhouse fullbacks (West Virginia’s Owen Schmitt).

The Freaks list is compiled with the help of many coaches, players and sports information directors around the nation. This is the complete list for 2019, and we’ll start with No. 1.

27. Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado, wide receiver

About a year ago at this time, then-CU head coach Mike MacIntyre shared a secret about the guy he knew was gonna be the breakout player in the Pac-12 in 2018. He just didn’t want it out until after the season started. Boy, was he right. Shenault caught 11 passes for 211 yards and a TD in a win vs. Colorado State in the opener, and until a midseason foot injury, the big Texan was the most dominant player in the league.

“He’s a total freak,” MacIntyre said of the 6-2, 225-pounder. MacIntyre said Shenault has great hands and was going to play every receiver position for Colorado while also lining up in the backfield, at Wildcat QB, just about everywhere you could imagine. 

“I’ve never had anything like him,” MacIntyre said. “He’s that good. I’m tellin’ ya. He’s ridiculous.”

Even with him hobbled for much of the second half of the season, Shenault still caught 86 passes for 1,011 yards and six TDs and ran for 115 more yards and had five touchdowns on the ground.

From the Pac-12 … 

14. Kyler Gordon, Washington, cornerback

22. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA, defensive end

32. Ashtyn Davis, Cal, safety

36. Otito Ogbonnia, UCLA, defensive end

Read full list here

—–

July 12th

Sports Illustrated Top 100 Player Rankings: Laviska Shenault No. 12 in the nation

Related … Pac-12 lands 17 players on the Top 100 list … from Sports Illustrated

From Sports Illustrated …. Every summer, SI sets out to determine the top 100 players of the college football season ahead, taking a stab at the impossible subjective task of comparing players across positions and competition levels. We kicked off the 2019 edition of our list on Tuesday with Nos. 100–51, then ran through Nos. 50–26 on Wednesday. Now, we turn to the next batch of players that will put us just outside the 10 best in the nation: Nos. 26–11.

A reminder: In constructing our rankings, the most important factor we assess is how significantly each player’s production will impact his team’s success this season—not how good he was last year, where he sat on 2018 statistical leaderboards or what type of NFL draft prospect he is (although those three factors often have a way of lining up). Put another way, this list is forward-looking, but not too forward-looking. If you don’t see your team’s unsung hero or rising star on this list, check out our breakdown of this year’s toughest snubs before you head for our mentions, and keep an eye out all week long as our reveal continues.

12. COLORADO WR LAVISKA SHENAULT JR.

Any time multiple NFL draft analysts compare you to JuJu Smith-Schuster, you’re doing something right. That’s the comp for Shenault, Colorado’s versatile wideout who led the nation in catches per game (9.6) last season as a sophomore. Shenault rolled up 1,011 yards receiving despite missing three games for a toe injury he had surgically repaired this spring. A healthy Shenault is the receiver version of Kyler Murray. He’s a threat at any point to score, an electric, big-play guy who does all the little things right as well. Last year, Buffaloes offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini deployed him in an assortment of ways—as a tight end, a wide receiver, a slot receiver, a tailback, a wing-back, an H-back and quarterback in the Wildcat—and there’s no reason to think new OC Jay Johnson won’t do the same. He’s scored from every which way, powering between the tackles on the goal line, catching deep balls and turning short slant passes into long scores.

Read full list here

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July 10th

Which teams are at a disadvantage for having teams playing them after a bye? 

From FBSchedules … This season marks the first time since 2014 that FBS teams will have two-bye weeks built into their schedules as opposed to the usual one. It’s an exception that also happened in 2013 and prior to that 2008.

The extra week off is a result of how Labor Day and Thanksgiving fall into the calendar – an early Labor Day combined with a late Turkey Day can equal an extra Saturday of college football, expanding the regular season from 13 weeks to 14. Given that teams are still playing a 12-game slate, an extra week on the calendar equals an additional bye week.

While it’s impossible to predict how the extra seven-days off will affect injuries and momentum, we do know when each program will be off and who they play immediately afterwards.

Following are the nine FBS teams that will face the greatest number of opponents coming off a bye week in 2019. If we accept the widely held assumption that teams fare better after a break, the programs listed here will play with a disadvantage vs. their counterparts.

To illustrate, where Georgia will play five programs who are coming off an extra seven days of rest, Missouri – also from the SEC East – will face only one such opponent.

From the Pac-12 …

Teams playing four or more opponents coming off of a bye week … none

Teams playing three opponents coming off of a bye week … includes Colorado. The Buffs play Air Force in Week Three, with the Falcons coming off of a bye week in Week Two. On November 9th, the Buffs host Stanford after the Cardinal have a week off. Two weeks later, on November 23rd, the Buffs face Washington, with the Huskies having a bye week on November 16th.

And the Buffs? Colorado has a bye week on September 28th, giving the Buffs an extra week to prepare for Arizona. CU’s other bye week comes on November 16th, the week before the home finale against Washington (so yes, both Washington and CU have a bye before facing the other on November 23rd).

Several Pac-12 teams only have to face one team all season coming off a bye week: Arizona State (Washington State, Oct. 12), Oregon (Arizona, Nov. 16), USC (at Arizona State, Nov. 9), and Washington (at Colorado, Nov. 23) (Colorado State and Nebraska are two other teams which only have to face one team coming off of a bye week during the 2019 campaign).

Read the full story here

It’s a Trap! Sporting News: Colorado represents Nebraska’s “Trap” Game

From The Sporting News … So, what’s a trap? A trap game could be a sandwich game, an untimely visit to unfriendly confines or a simple spoiler that comes at the worst time. Trap games can be sprung at any time – even if we’re always looking for them.

With that in mind, SN has an eye on some trap games for the 2019 season. These tops 25 should be on the lookout.

25. Nebraska: at Colorado (Sept. 7)

There’s a temptation to put Indiana (Oct. 26) on here given its place among the multiple Big Ten West showdowns, but we went with the road trip to old Big Eight rival Colorado and first-year coach Mel Tucker. The Buffs spoiled Scott Frost’s debut in a 33-28 shootout last season, and expectations for the Huskers are even higher in Year 2. They can’t look ahead to the end-of-the-month showdown with Ohio State.

From the Pac-12 …

20. Stanford: vs. UCLA (Oct. 17)

The first half of the schedule is filled with so many tough games that the Cardinal won’t have much room for error in the second half. Oregon State in late September will be the one to watch, but we think the Cardinal pass that test. After a bye week, however, a Thursday night game against UCLA could be tougher than it looks. Stanford beat the Bruins in a 49-42 shootout last season, and the contrast in styles could lead to another one of those nail-biters.

18. Washington State: vs. Houston (Sept. 13)

Mike Leach will be back in Texas with a new quarterback, and Dana Holgorsen will be on the other sideline with an experienced playmaker in D’Eriq King. This could be the most thrilling game in September, but Houston is in its backyard. First one to 50 – 60, maybe? – wins.

14. Washington: at BYU (Sept. 21)

Washington has big games against USC and Stanford the next two weeks, but not before a trip to Provo to face a Cougars team with up-and-coming star quarterback Zach Wilson. Washington cruised in a 35-7 victory against BYU last season. Wisconsin found out last year how tough the playback game can be in September.

13. Oregon: at USC (Nov. 2)

This could be the Trojans’ all-in game against the Ducks, who play Washington and Washington State in key Pac-12 North contests the two weeks before that. Oregon is 3-3 in their last six visits to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This is a game that should bring out the best in USC no matter where their season stands.

Read full list here

—–

July 9th

Sports Illustrated: NFL Mock Draft 2020 – Laviska Shenault a Top Ten pick

From Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated … It’s time for my second annual Christmas-in-July mock draft, during our second annual NFL draft week. And like I did last year, I’m offering a couple caveats as we dive in … My goal is to put 10 players on here that are likely to go in the Top 10 next year, not all of them will.

• How’d that work out last year? My July 2019 top 10, as we mocked them to teams: Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver, Greg Little, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Jonah Williams, Jarrett Stidham, Christian Wilkins, Greedy Williams, Rashan Gary. So six of the 10 wound up going in the first 13 picks. A seventh (Lawrence) was the 17th pick. And there were two second-rounders (Williams, Little) and a fourth-rounder (Stidham).

• I can make fun of early mock drafts, like you. But I’ll admit it—when I see Todd McShay or Daniel Jeremiah or anyone I respect publishing one at any point, I’m clicking. I love college football, I love pro football and this is the intersection of the two. Hopefully, we can give you a cheat sheet on who to keep an eye on in the college game this season. I’ve always viewed this as part of my job, the same way knowing the minor leagues would be for a baseball reporter.

9. New York Giants: Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado

This may be a little bit of a projection – but this 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has the potential to be a real No. 1 in the NFL. In just nine games last year, he had, 1011 receiving yards and 6 touchdown catches, and 115 yards and five touchdowns on the ground (as a wildcat quarterback). He’ll have to stay healthy (a shoulder problem cost him five games last year) and continue to evolve, but he’s a big, sudden athlete with a very high ceiling. The big on-field question, at this point, is how fast he’ll run in February. With a good time, he could be a worthy successor to Odell Beckham as the Giants’ next No. 1 here.

Read full story here

—–

July 8th

Coaches Hot Seat Rankings – Mel Tucker No. 66 (?)

From Coaches Hot Seat Rankings

From the Pac-12 … 

Hot Seat:

  • No. 1 – Clay Helton, USC
  • No. 20 – Kevin Sumlin – Arizona
  • No. 21 – Chip Kelly – UCLA
  • (No. 29 – Mike Bobo – Colorado State)

Edge of Hot Seat:

  • No. 33 – Jonathan Smith – Oregon State

Safe for Now:

  • No. 46 – Herm Edwards – Arizona State
  • No. 66 – Mel Tucker – Colorado
  • No. 82 – Justin Wilcox – California
  • No. 91 – David Shaw – Stanford
  • No. 107 – Mario Cristobal – Oregon
  • No. 109 – Kyle Whittingham – Utah
  • No. 110 – Chris Petersen – Washington
  • No. 113 – Mike Leach – Washington State

—–

July 7th

College Football News on Mel Tucker: “It was a fantastic hire – this could really, really work”

From College Football News … Who do you want as your head coach for right now, and how good are the all the current Pac-12 coaches?

Record and resumés aren’t necessarily everything, but of course they matter. Where are each of the teams going, which guys have the buzz, and which ones need to prove themselves a bit more?

These aren’t Hot Seat Rankings – those are coming later. These are the rankings based loosely on what the head coaches have done, and mostly about what they’re about to do.

Think of it this way. If you were to hold a head coaching draft …

11. Mel Tucker, Colorado

The only reasons he’s this low is because 1) the league is loaded with relatively new coaches with a world of upside, and 2) it’s his first year as a head coach.

He was overdue for a gig like this, and now he brings his defensive mindset and experience to a program that might not be all that far from becoming a factor again. It was a fantastic hire – this could really, really work.

Last Season Preseason Ranking: Not Ranked

Read full list here

—–

July 6th

Athlon’s review of Pac-12 over/under totals – Another down year for the conference?

From Athlon … Last year, the Pac-12 went 3-4 in the postseason in what was considered to be another underwhelming year for the conference. I know some will disagree, but the Pac-12 really needs USC to become relevant and keeping Clay Helton as head coach may not get the Trojans there. They could have been in good shape when they hired Kliff Kingsbury to be the offensive coordinator, but he jumped to the pros to coach the Arizona Cardinals.

FanDuel Sportsbook out of New Jersey is the first to release the win totals for everyone in college football. For some of the teams in this conference though, you can find their numbers elsewhere and can shop around to find the best deal.

Note: Over/under totals provided by FanDuel Sportsbook.

Colorado … 

Over 4.5 wins -108…Under 4.5 wins -108

Non-Conference Games: Colorado State, Nebraska, Air Force

The Buffaloes made a shrewd hire of Mel Tucker, the former Georgia defensive coordinator who is getting his first shot at being a head coach. The defense has five starters back from a unit that was good against the run. Davion Taylor is an intriguing pro prospect and should be pretty good in 2019. The front line may need some work. On offense, Steven Montez and Laviska Shenault Jr. will be busy. Montez had 19 touchdown passes in 2018 with six of those going to Shenault. The backfield is an uncertainty following the graduation of 1,000-yard rusher Travon McMillian. The two leading returning options had a grand total of 15 carries and that’s because Beau Bisharat moved to tight end.

Verdict: I came up with four wins so a slight lean to the under.

Read other predictions here

—–

July 5th

Athlon’s list of most-underrated players includes CU’s Mustafa Johnson

From Athlon … The start of the 2019 college football season is officially 50 days away. With the start of the upcoming season approaching on Aug. 24 and to mark 50 days until kickoff, Athlon Sports decided to pick 50 players we felt were underrated going into the upcoming season.

From the Pac-12 … 

Myles Bryant, DB, Washington … The Huskies are losing four key members of last year’s standout secondary, but the cupboard isn’t empty for coordinator Jimmy Lake. Bryant has the skill set to play corner or safety and returns to anchor the defensive backfield after recording 61 tackles (4.5 for a loss), 3.5 sacks and six pass breakups in 2018.

Carl Bynum, DB, California … Bynum is a big reason why California should have one of the best defensive backfields in the nation this season. According to Pro Football Focus, Bynum’s passer rating when targeted was just 76.1 last season. Additionally, Bynum recorded 48 tackles (2.5 for a loss), picked off two passes and broke up 10 throws.

Cohl Cabral, C, Arizona State … Cabral started 13 games at left tackle in 2017 but showed off his versatility by sliding to center prior to last season. The California native went on to emerge as one of the Pac-12’s top centers after starting all 13 contests last fall and clearing running lanes for running back Eno Benjamin.

Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State … The Beavers quietly own one of the Pac-12’s top receiving corps for 2019. Hodgins is the No. 1 target for quarterback Jake Luton after grabbing 59 passes for 876 yards and five scores last fall.

Darney Holmes, CB, UCLA … Holmes – a former five-star prospect – has quietly lived up to the hype in his first two years with the Bruins. The California native has 87 tackles (two for a loss), three picks, 20 passes defended and two forced fumbles in that span.

Mustafa Johnson, DE, Colorado … Johnson came to Boulder after spending one season at Modesto Junior College. The California native created plenty of havoc for the Buffaloes, as he collected 57 stops and 8.5 sacks. Johnson’s 15.5 tackles for a loss tied for the most among Pac-12 linemen last fall.

Shane Lemieux, OL, Oregon … The Pac-12’s best offensive line resides in Eugene, with tackles Calvin Throckmorton and Penei Sewell earning a spot on Athlon’s All-America squad. Lemieux graded out as the best run blocker among interior linemen in the Pac-12 according to Pro Football Focus in 2018 and has started all 38 games in his career.

Colin Schooler, LB, Arizona … Despite finishing second in the Pac-12 with 21.5 tackles for a loss last fall, Schooler did not earn a place on the postseason all-conference team. Expect that to change in 2019, as the junior should rank among the Pac-12’s top defenders. Schooler recorded 119 tackles, recorded two picks and broke up four passes last season

Read full list here

—–

July 4th – Happy Fourth of July!

CBS Sports: Laviska Shenault a player who will provide “fireworks” this season

From CBS Sports … Your Independence Day weekend will be filled with many things, including a list of the following (probably): hot dogs/hamburgers/barbecue, beer, above-ground inflatable pools and/or water sports, American flags draped everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and fireworks, both of the professional and amateur variety. It will not (probably) include college football.

Until now!

With the Fourth of July officially here, we thought we’d usher in the holiday weekend with some fireworks of our own — college football style. Expanding upon last year’s idea, here are four players, offenses and nonconference games that should create fireworks in the upcoming 2019 season. Obviously, there are more than four acceptable answers for each category, but, you know, themes and whatnot. Also, regarding the players: you already know players like Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence are going to light it up this fall anyway, so let’s move past the typical names and get to some others you need to keep an eye on.

Players … 

3. Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.: He tore through defenses in the first six games of last season before being sidelined with a toe injury. He came back after a three-game absence against Washington State but sustained a torn labrum the following week against Utah. Though he clearly wasn’t the same, he still caught seven passes for 65 yards in the season-ending game vs. Cal. In all, he tallied 86 grabs for 1,011 yards and 11 total touchdowns in nine games, eclipsing 10 grabs and 100 yards receiving five times. And he was only healthy for six games. The dude is a warrior.

Nonconference games

1. Auburn vs. Oregon (Aug. 31): At least in recent years, Auburn hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard in these major early-season nonconference games. I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes against Oregon in JerryWorld. The indoor, fast track against Herbert and Co. might even dictate it. This is actually a tremendous matchup in the trenches between Oregon’s O-line and Auburn’s D-Line, but if Tigers coach Gus Malzahn finds his quarterback and throws in a few wrinkles, this game’s entertainment value has a high ceiling.

3. Washington State at Houston (Sept. 13): Oh, hell yes. Give me Mike Leach vs. Dana Holgorsen every day of the week. There will be a palpable buzz between Houston and Oklahoma in Week 1, but this one presents a better opportunity for a Houston win. There is no way this game doesn’t last at least four-and-a-half hours, and the over/under will reach 80. King will be the big name coming into this game, but don’t underestimate what Leach will have drawn up with his team.

4. Texas Tech at Arizona (Sept. 14): If the Khalil Tate experience is back and indeed fully realized, this will be college football acid. Texas Tech should be much better off if quarterback Alan Bowman is his old self again, and a shootout certainly seems likely. I am 100 percent here for an average touchdown drive of four plays over 69 yards (nice).

—–

July 3rd

Phil Steele’s projections CU fans worst nightmare (Buffs down – Cornhuskers; Utes; Trojans on the rise)

From Phil Steele …

No. 8 Utah … Last year I had my No. 1 surprise team Notre Dame in this No. 8 spot and they made the playoff after an unbeaten year. Why not put my No. 1 surprise team in the same spot this year? Utah figures to barely make the AP Top 20 despite losing quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss with five games to go last year and still getting to the Pac-12 title game. The Utes schedule was a killer last year and is easier this year (as CU trades Oregon State and Cal for Oregon and Stanford, the Utes drop Oregon and Stanford and pick up Oregon State and Cal). While the Utes lose their punter and kicker, they always have an elite special team unit. Utah also has my No. 5 rated defense led by the No. 1 defensive line in the country.

No. 12 Oregon … Mario Cristobal has this team on the rise and added a great recruiting class to an already talented team. They have my No. 1 rated offensive line and perhaps the No. 1 quarterback taken in next year’s draft in Justin Herbert. The Ducks also have a Top 25 defense. The biggest question is facing Auburn, Stanford, Washington, USC and Arizona State all away from Autzen Stadium.

No. 16 Washington … Washington only has nine returning starters but does a great job replacing talent and has the Pac-12 North’s best schedule with only one conference road game v. a team with a winning record in 2018.

No. 17 Texas A&M … (why noted? CU plays in College Station on September 19, 2020. So take a look at what Phil Steele has to say about the Aggies) … When I talked to Jimbo Fisher I told him I would put the Aggies on my national cover (playoff teams) … next year. this year they are just No. 97 on my experience chart, and, despite being talented, play four Top 10 teams.

No. 19 Nebraska … Nebraska opened 0-6 under Scott Frost, but the new offense went from 23.3 points per game the first six games to 36.6 points per game the last six. Nebraska is my No. 1 Most Improved Team in the country, and are capable of a big turnaround.

Also …

No. 22 Stanford … 

No. 32 USC … Clay Helton hung on to his job despite a losing season. While USC faces one of the toughest in the country, the new “Air Raid” offense has an elite set of wide receivers with a pro-style No. 9 quarterback. USC makes my Most Improved List.

No. 33 Washington State … 

No. 48 Air Force … 

No. 60 Arizona State … 

—–

July 2nd

College Football News – Mustafa Johnson the No. 15 defensive end in the nation

From College Football News … Who are the best defensive ends coming into the 2019 college football season? Based on projections for this year – and not necessarily based on pro talent and potential ….

Honorable Mention All-American Defensive Ends

From the Pac-12 … 

30. Luc Bequette, Sr. Cal

29. Kayvon Thibodeaux, Fr. Oregon

15. Mustafa Johnson, Jr. Colorado – A short tackle-sized defender who works on the end, the 6-2, 290-pound Johnson came in from the JUCO ranks and took over as one of the Pac-12’s best defenders, coming up with 57 tackles with 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Now he’s one of the centerpieces of new coach Mel Tucker’s D.

13. Christian Rector, Sr. USC

7. Bradlee Anae, Sr. Utah

Read full list here

CBS Sports – Take the over on CU’s 4.5 wins: “This number is way too low”

From CBS Sports … Win totals are starting to trickle out from the oddsmakers this week, and our series of analysis via the win totals at FanDuel continues with a look at the Pac-12. The way-too-early rankings and many offseason prediction pieces have noted that the league is without one true frontrunner, but these totals take it a step further with every number falling below double digits at the time of this publishing.

Washington has the highest win total at 9.5, but even that total is juiced to the under (-130) on the price. Utah is next in line at 9 and both Oregon and Washington State have win totals of 8.5. The rest of the league is currently carrying a win total of 8 or less, according to FanDuel.

So unless one of these teams exceeds its win total and finishes the regular season with 11 or 12 wins, the Pac-12 will miss the College Football Playoff for the third straight year.

For those uninitiated on “prices,” minus-odds of -120 mean you’d have to wager $120 to win $100, while plus-odds (+120) means wagering $100 would win you $120. An “EVEN” price would result in a $100 payout for a $100 wager.

4.5 wins: Year 1 for Mel Tucker doesn’t seem to be loaded with high expectations, but this number is way too low. The Buffs don’t have dozens of blue chippers like the rosters Tucker worked with at Alabama and Georgia, but wide receiver Laviska Shenault is one of the most electrifying game-breakers in college football and Steven Montez is a three-year starter who can make the offense hum. Nonconference games against Colorado State and Air Force are probably what swings this total — I’m counting the highly-anticipated Nebraska game as a loss, for now — and will count on Tucker to get the defense in shape to win at least three conference games. Over -108, Under -108

Read full Pac-12 list here

—–

July 1st

Consensus Preseason Top 25 – Five CU opponents make the list

From stassen.com …  Top 25 listings taken from, in order, Athlon, Street and Smith’s, Lindy’s and Phil Steele …

 

1Alabama1191121
2Clemson1172212
3Georgia1113334
4Oklahoma1056445
5tMichigan10141153
5tOhio State1015576
7Louisiana State967687
8Florida9288610
9Notre Dame909799
10Texas821191111
11Oregon7715101012
12Texas A&M7110131317
13Utah701321128
14Washington6712121716
15Auburn5720141518
16Michigan State5616192013
17Nebraska4317242119
18Penn State39142020
19tCentral Florida38221518
19tIowa38181423
19tIowa State3824182321
22Miami-Florida281915
23tStanford27222222
23tWisconsin271916
25Mississippi State221624

—–

June 30th

College Football News: Laviska Shenault a first team All-American

Related … Laviska Shenault No. 6 in The Sporting News list of wide receivers: The only reason Shenault didn’t crack our top five is because he only played nine games last season because of injury. Even so, he finished with 86 receptions for 1,011 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns to earn his spot as the top wide receiver in the Pac-12. Whether it’s underneath, over the top or from the Wildcat – he rushed for five touchdowns, tops among receivers – there’s no place Shenault can’t hurt you.

From the College Football News … Who are the best receivers coming into the 2019 college football season? Based on projections for this year – and not necessarily based on pro talent and potential ….

From the Pac-12 … 

Honorable mention

30. Juwan Johnson, Sr. Oregon

26. Theo Howard, Sr. UCLA

19. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Soph. USC

16. Michael Pittman, Sr. USC

CFN First Team All-America Receivers

2. Laviska Shenault, Jr. Colorado

He would’ve been a lock for the Biletnikoff – and in the hunt for the Heisman – had he been able to stay healthy. Even though he missed three games and was banged up in a few others, he still finished fourth in the nation in yards per game – averaging 112 per outing – making 86 grabs for 1,011 yards and six scores. He ran for five touchdowns, too. The 6-2, 225-pounder should blow up again with QB Steven Montez back getting him the ball.

1. Jerry Jeudy, Jr. Alabama

Just imagine what his statistics would’ve been if he wasn’t in the same receiving corps with a slew of other NFL receiving talents. The 6-1, 192-pounder won the Biletnikoff as the nation’s top receiver, averaging over 19 yards per catch with 68 grabs for 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns. Devastating however he gets the ball in his hands, he can come up with big yards after the catch, make the deep play, and do everything in between.

College Football Talk: Pac-12 only has three coaches at risk – South Division has all three

From NBC SportsCFTalk has been taking a detailed look at hot seats across college football this offseason and one early theme in examining the ACCBig 12 and Big Ten coaches so far is there are, well, not a ton of hot seats out there.

A lot of this has to do with schools already making moves and replacing coaches in the past two seasons and others playing their way out of trouble with some big wins. When one heads out West to the Pac-12 however, well, the league might just be home to perhaps the hottest seat in the nation.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the various stages of heat for Pac-12 coaches near and far:

White hot heat

Clay Helton (USC)

To put Helton’s hot seat in perspective, some of the school’s big name alumni are already talking about his replacement being Urban Meyer in 2020. It was surprising that he was brought back in the first place after failing to make a bowl game in 2018 but a reportedly hefty buyout appeared to be a contributing factor in his return. Helton did lead the Trojans to a Rose Bowl win and another New Year’s Six bowl game during his tenure but  faces a ton of pressure to return the program to prominence immediately in 2019. This is a demanding job to be sure but Helton hasn’t met expectations recently and knows what is on the line this season as a result.

The new guy

Mel Tucker (Colorado)

Lukewarm 

Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)

Sumlin’s debut with the Wildcats couldn’t have gone much worse, with expectations of contending in the Pac-12 South and Khalil Tate making a run for the Heisman all but over by the end of September. The school won’t hit eject on his tenure this early but 2019 could be narrative-defining for Sumlin in Tucson.

Herm Edwards (Arizona State)

Edwards was a bizarre hire at the time and remains so today even if he’s made the Sun Devils fascinating to follow with a fun quote seemingly every day. He was brought in to improve on what Todd Graham accomplished though and 7-6 (5-4) isn’t exactly doing that in a weak division. It’s shaping up to be a big Year 2 in Tempe that could shape the direction of the rest of Edwards’ tenure.

Read full story here

—–

June 28th

Colorado/Nebraska among the top non-conference games this fall

From Athlon Sports … Between conference realignment and the perceived importance of strong schedules in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee, the number of intriguing non-conference matchups seems to grow larger each year. Many programs are beginning to figure out that if they want to get a leg up in the race to college football’s final four, they need to start taking risks in the non-conference portion of their schedules.

Notre Dame’s barnstorming philosophy of scheduling and the recent return to relevance of Army make those two independent programs major players and key factors when it comes to the non-conference slate of 2019.

Other non-conference games have more situational or historical intrigue as opposed to postseason implications.

Any way you cut it, it’s tough to shine a light on the best 25 non-conference matchups in any one season. Here is our best effort at doing just that.

2. Oregon vs. Auburn, Aug. 31 (Arlington, Texas)

The Ducks seem to be on a path back to the top of the Pac-12. First, they’ll need to prove themselves in AT&T Stadium against an Auburn program that lost plenty of talent and leadership, but repeatedly establishes itself as a contender early on.

8. Oklahoma at UCLA, Sept. 14

Jalen Hurts steps in at quarterback in Norman, and those are some big shoes to fill considering that last two players to hold that job won the Heisman Trophy. He’ll be charged with keeping pace on the scoreboard with what should be a vastly improved Chip Kelly offense.

10. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 12

On the field, the pressure will all be on the Irish, as this is a game Notre Dame should win handily. On the sidelines, Clay Helton needs a win over a major rival to prove his worth in the eyes of the USC administration.

11. Arizona State at Michigan State, Sept. 14

Both of these teams are dark horses to sneak up and win their respective conferences. The outcome of this game could be what keeps them in or out of the playoff conversation as the season progresses.

12. Washington State at Houston, Sept. 13

You should feel sorry for the scoreboard operator in this one — he’ll be busy. Mike Leach’s Air-Raid offense will square off with new head coach Dana Holgorson and a roster of Cougars who are no strangers to hanging points themselves.

14. Nebraska at Colorado, Sept. 7

Perhaps no team has more hype and expectations of improvement heading into the season than the Huskers. Nebraska outplayed Colorado in Lincoln last season, but miscues and an injury to quarterback Adrian Martinez let the game get away from them late. An early-season win over a Power 5 opponent would be huge for either team.

16. Stanford at UCF, Sept. 14

Here is another shot for UCF to make a statement against a high-profile opponent. Stanford can gain a lot of confidence heading into conference play with a sound win.

19. Notre Dame at Stanford, Nov. 30

Stanford has a real chance to be a College Football Playoff contender heading into the last week of the season. The Cardinal will welcome a Notre Dame team that is probably more talented at most positions — regardless of what the Irish record is at this point.

21. Northwestern at Stanford, Aug. 31

Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats are always ready for a fight. They’ll bring it against a Stanford team with high hopes for the 2019 campaign.

—–

June 27th

Athlon: Bet the “under” on CU’s 4.5 win total

From Athlon Sports … The start of the 2019 college football season is just under two months away, and FanDuel is out with its over/under win total future bets for the upcoming year. As expected, there were plenty of interesting projections when the company released its totals in late June. While a lot can change over the next few weeks until kickoff, these 15 picks caught our attention. Which teams are worth a look to bet big on this season? We examine 15 over/under picks that are worth a look in FanDuel’s over/under win total bets.

Colorado (under 4.5)

The good news for new coach Mel Tucker: Quarterback Steven Montez and receiver Laviska Shenault form a promising connection on offense. The bad news: Question marks remain up front on the line and at running back, while each level of the defense has holes to fill. The schedule also doesn’t do Tucker any favors. Colorado gets the projected top four teams from the North – Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Washington State – plays Nebraska in non-conference play and gets swing games versus Arizona State and UCLA on the road.

Read full list here

Athlon Pac-12 “Wild Card” Players for 2019

From Athlon Sports … The annual unpredictability of the Pac-12 football race promises that every year, usually around Halloween, someone will do their best Charlie Day impression screaming, wild card!

The participants in the 2018 Pac-12 Championship Game offer some examples of what constitutes a wild card. Utah rallied after a slew of injuries to win the South for the first time, thanks in part to the play of quarterback Jason Shelley and running back Armand Shyne. Washington, meanwhile, reintegrated a previously injured Hunter Bryant into the lineup at tight end for the stretch run. It paid off big time.

Wild cards can come in the form of players coming off injury, promising reserves, transfers, freshmen — really, what makes them wild is their unpredictability. That, and their significance to a team’s success.

Offense: Alex Fontenot, RB

Phillip Lindsay left Colorado one of the most decorated and celebrated Buffaloes ever to suit up. The addition of Virginia Tech grad transfer Travon McMillian — combined with the efforts of dual-threat quarterback Steven Montez and jack-of-all-trades Laviska Shenault — kept Colorado’s ground game moving.

Fontenot worked his way into a multifaceted running rotation as a freshman last season. He’ll take on a bigger role in 2019. With Montez returning as starting quarterback, and Shenault returning from injury, the talented youngster won’t be expected to shoulder an overwhelming responsibility. But with the Buffs returning a strong corps of receivers, he’ll have to improve upon his 3.9 yards per carry to keep defenses honest.

Defense: Jalen Sami, DT

Sami goes 6-foot-5 and 330 pounds. That’s a lot for opposing offensive lines to try to block, and a seamless replacement in the middle for Javier Edwards.

The Edwards comparison should be one that gives Colorado faithful optimism about the 2019 defense. For any issues Colorado faced a season ago, that presence in the interior keyed a defense that held opponents below four yards per carry. Sami’s a similar sized and skilled tackle who should flourish under Mel Tucker’s new-look approach.

Read full Pac-12 list here

—–

June 23rd

Phil Steele Forecast

From Phil Steele 2019 College Football Preview … 

— Offense … The Buffs averaged 31.1 points in their Pac-12 North title year of 2016, but slipped to 26.4 ppg. despite nine starters back in 2017. Last year, with just four starters back, my computer called for 26.9 ppg. with the Buffs finishing at 27.1. This year, they lose their 1,000-yard rusher but quarterback Steven Montez, and more importantly wide receiver Laviska Shenault, are back with a more veteran offensive line so this should easily be their best offense in three years.

– Defense … The Buffs to go the Pac-12 title game in 2016 on the strength of the defense which allowed just 343 yards per game and 21.7 points per game. In 2017, with just three starters back, my computer called for a big drop off to 425.5 yards per game and 30.4 points per game. The defense did indeed slip to 451 yards per game and 28.2 points per game. Last year they had six starters back and did better than expected. Colorado was 5th in the Pac-12 on defense (fourth in yards per play, 5.24) but the offense allowed four interceptions returned for touchdowns so while they improved to 380 yards per game, the points per game remained similar at 27.3. This year they lose four of the top seven tacklers but still appear to be well stocked with defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson and linebacker Nate Landman returning. Mel Tucker knows a thing or two about defense.

— 2019 … Mike MacIntyre inherited a train wreck in 2013 as CU may have been the weakest and thinnest Power-Five team (1-11 record and -186 yards per game in 2012). He built the team right away and it was a slow process the first three years (10-27) before a Pac-12 South title in 2016. They had a lot of big name losses in 2017 and took a step back to 5-7. Last year expectations were low with our #109 experience chart team. CU started 3-0 in back-to-back years for the first time since 1994-95. MacIntyre was one of 17 names on the Dodd Trophy list at 5-0 with Colorado ranked No. 19. Wide receiver Laviska Shenault was then injured and CU would begin to take a much tougher schedule with USC the first of seven straight defeats to close out the year (including a blown 31-3 lead at home to Oregon State!). They were just the second team since 1997 (Kansas, ’09) to go from 5-0 to 5-7. Colorado has had ten shots the last two years at becoming bowl eligible and lost all ten. Fortunately for new head coach and fellow Clevelander Mel Tucker. MacIntyre left the team in a much better shape than when he took over. CU does go from facing the No. 73 schedule to the 5th toughest, so they are near the top of the Going Down box. They have five Pac-12 road games and face the top four teams out of the North. I like the potential here, with quarterback Steven Montez and wide receiver Laviska Shenault plus Tucker’ s defense, but they may have a tough time topping last year’s five win total.

—–

June 22nd

Phil Steele – CU in the bottom five nationally in two categories

From Phil Steele … 2019 Projections (top 15 and bottom five listed): 

— Projected rush offenses … 2. Air Force … 9. Nebraska … 126. Colorado … 130. Washington State

— Projected pass offenses … 1. Washington State … 4. USC … 12. Oregon … 13. Colorado State … 126. Air Force

— Projected scoring offenses … 12. Oregon … 14. Washington State … 129. California

— Projected total offenses … 6. Oregon …

— Projected rush defenses … 2. Utah … 9. Air Force … 10. Oregon … 126. Oregon State

— Projected pass defenses … 127. Colorado … 128. Stanford

— Projected scoring defenses … 128. Oregon State

— Projected total defenses … 11. Utah … 129. Oregon State

Street and Smith’s 2019 Toughest schedules

From the Pac-12 … 

  • 3. USC
  • 5. Colorado
  • 8. UCLA
  • 12. Stanford
  • 16. Oregon State
  • 25. California
  • 36. Washington
  • 45. Oregon
  • 50. Arizona
  • 55. Utah
  • 59. Nebraska
  • 60. Arizona State
  • 61. Washington State
  • 81. Air Force
  • 82. Colorado State

—–

June 20th

Darrin Chiaverini: “You don’t get many Laviska Shenaults every year. He’s a once every 10 or 15 years”

From Sir and Sport: “Baller: Laviska Shenault, Jr. is Ready to Make Football History with the Colorado Buffaloes”

“The 6’2”, 225-pound junior exhibits such an unstoppable repertoire of size, speed, physicality and intelligence, that college football pundits are considering him as a serious contender in Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and first round NFL draft projections.

No one is more attuned to Laviska’s football gifts than the man who recruited him for two-and-a-half years before getting him to Boulder and the Flatirons. ‘He’s a special talent. You don’t get many Laviska Shenaults every year. He’s a once every 10 or 15 years’, said his wide receivers coach, Darrin Chiaverini. 

… When asked about Coach Tucker and the new regime, Shenault flashes that million-dollar smile before switching to a stern tone. ‘It’s strictly business,’ he begins. And then to ensure that nothing gets lost in the translation, ‘Business. Business. Business’. Message received. ‘I feel like we’re going to take it and run with it, and we’re going to do big things. They’re big on discipline and doing the little things right. I can definitely tell you that they are a special group of coaches that just came in”. 

Continue reading story here

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June 19th

Bill Connelly: Utah to be favored in 11 of 12 games this fall

From SB Nation … Utah preview …

2018 record and S&P+ ranking: 9-5 (17th)

Projected 2019 record and S&P+ ranking: 9-3 (17th)

Five key points:

  1. After winning their first South division title, the Utes return more of their production than any South rival. Their odds of repeating are strong.
  2. You could forgive Ute fans for dreaming even bigger, though. Utah might never have better odds of winning the Pac-12 and making the Rose Bowl.
  3. New OC Andy Ludwig inherits a veteran QB (Tyler Huntley), a deep receiving corps, and an outright bruiser in RB Zack Moss.
  4. The defense has a couple of key LBs to replace, but the line is enormous and might be the Pac-12’s best. That’s a nice starting point.
  5. Utah is a projected favorite in 11 of 12 games. Win at USC on September 20, and the division race might be over by about mid-October.

… Not only are the Utes projected favorites in 11 games, but only one of those wins has a projected margin under seven points (2.1 points at USC). Granted, if they do lose at USC, their most likely division challenger, that erases a good percentage of said margin for error. But they head into 2019 with far more of it than anyone else in the South.

Seriously, what an opportunity here. Utah might never have a better chance of winning the Pac-12 and reaching the Rose Bowl (or better!). There are a couple of big-time pieces to replace on defense, and any time you change offensive coordinators there could be some growing pains. But Utah’s window of opportunity is open, and it’s up to the Utes to take advantage of it.

Read full story here

CU makes Athlon’s list of Top 25 most difficult schedules

From Athlon Sports … Strength of schedule is a contentious point among college football commentators. I know, I know — imagine a largely subjective topic causing disagreement among the college football community!

Shocking, yes, but unavoidable all the same. Projecting a team’s strength of schedule is especially difficult, given the emergence of unexpected teams like last year’s 10-win Syracuse bunch, and the regression of others (Hello, Miami).

Nevertheless, some of the slates laid out for the 2019 season are undoubtedly challenging. A few share common themes, such as loaded divisions and ambitious non-conference scheduling.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 2 – Stanford
  • No. 3 – USC
  • No. 8 – UCLA

No. 24 – Colorado … Colorado has the unique privilege of opening its season with two rivalry games: Week 1 in Denver against Colorado State, and Week 2 hosting Nebraska. The Cornhuskers’ merit as a breakout Big Ten contender will be more clear after the trip to Boulder. Week 3 presents an upset alert with Air Force in town; the Falcons’ option-oriented offense is difficult to prepare to face in just one week, particularly after what should be a physical game the week prior.

Colorado’s Pac-12 slate doesn’t do many favors either with the majority of games on the road this year, including a brutal back-to-back against cross-division foes Oregon and Washington State. As for the home games, two are against Stanford and Washington out of the North.

Read full list here

USA Today: Laviska Shenault the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation

From USA Today … USA TODAY Sports is getting ready for the 2019 college football season by breaking down the best players at each position in the Bowl Subdivision. Up next: the wide receivers and tight ends.

There’s enough talent at Alabama and Clemson alone to populate a majority of the list of the top receiving talent — the two powers have at least five contenders for a spot among the nation’s best. Joining names from the Tide and Tigers are standouts from Oklahoma State, Colorado, Purdue and others.

2. Laviska Shenault, Colorado (Jr.)

Shenault was among the impact players in college football across the first month-plus of last season before injuries slowed his stride in October. Even still, he manged five games of 100-plus yards and five games with double-digit receptions across his nine appearances. If he’s healthy, Shenault may very well be the best of the bunch.

Read full list here

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June 18th

CBS Sports: USC could have an interim coach by the time the Trojans get to Boulder on October 25th

From CBS Sports … It still feels slightly odd opining about Clay Helton’s future at USC since, for a minute, it appeared as though he might not have one. A 5-7 record in 2018, low-lighted by a 34-27 loss to UCLA, was certainly enough to fire Helton if the university desired. It was, after all, its worst season since 2000 when Paul Hackett was let go, ushering in the Pete Carroll era.

But, with no permanent university president appointed and the promise of a major staff overhaul, athletic director Lynn Swann opted to give Helton another chance. That decision soon turned into an even worse look as Helton’s big offseason get — offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury — left after a month (despite Swann’s best efforts to block interviews) to coach the NFL’s Cardinals. Throw in an uncharacteristically low recruiting class, at least by USC’s top-10 standards, and 2019 hasn’t exactly gotten off to the best of starts for the embattled Helton.

Still, this is USC, and as recently as 2017 the Trojans were Pac-12 champs. In 2016, they were Rose Bowl champs. One can certainly debate Helton’s ceiling, but the program wasn’t that far off. The question is whether Helton can get it back in just a year. Of course, “back” could mean a couple of things. Conference titles and/or playoff appearances is the general bar but some may not be willing to settle for even that. And in a macro sense, USC might have a difficult decision if Helton is good enough, often enough, not to fire. His two New Year’s Six bowls in three years certainly fits that bill. Furthermore, only one west coast program — Oregon — has been a legit national title contender in the past decade.

While the mileage of what “good enough” means vary, though, we can more specifically point to what isn’t good enough at USC as Helton was fortunate to keep his job after last season’s debacle. Here’s what needs to change for Helton to continue moving forward in Los Angeles, which also coincides with turning the program around …

… If Helton is coaching for his job, which he is, then the first half of the season will say a lot as to whether he’ll keep it. And, boy, the Trojans don’t really catch any breaks. Our own Tom Fornelli ranked USC No. 1 in strength of schedule in the Pac-12 with Fresno State, Stanford, BYU, Utah and Washington right out of the gate before the first open week. That’s followed immediately by a road game at rival Notre Dame.

A schedule like that might be a badge of honor in the playoff conversation, but not when you’re trying to 1) coach for your life while 2) breaking in a bunch of new assistants with 3) plenty of young players. The Trojans are projected to be in some tight games, too. Bet Online’s way-too-early lines had USC as a four-point favorite over Stanford, and a six-point favorite over UCLA in Week 12. Those one-possession games can really alter the landscape of a season. Helton would be on much steadier ground if he went into the open week at 5-0 or 4-1, but this team could just as easily be 2-3. If that’s the case, Helton may not even make it until the end of the season.

Read full story here

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June 16th

Bill Connelly – USC could finish anywhere from 4-8 to 11-1

From SB Nation … In last year’s USC preview, I wrote about how a coach’s third year in charge of the Trojans tends to tell the tale. Clay Helton better hope that does not hold true.

Helton saw success even more quickly than coaches like Tollner and Smith did. After a slow start to his first season (2016), his Trojans caught fire behind redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold. They won 13 games in a row into 2017, and after a rickety 2-2 stretch, they finished 5-1 that season, too. Two years in, they were 21-6, with a conference title, two major bowl appearances, and a classic Rose Bowl victory. Not bad, right?

Not great, either. USC won 11 games in 2017 due in part to both happy bounces (the Trojans were 4-1 in one-possession games) and a sketchy schedule (their S&P+ SOS ranking fell from eighth to 59th that year).

In 2018, the schedule got tougher (44th), and the breaks went away (2-4 in one-score games). USC got worse, too. The offense was up-and-down under freshman quarterback JT Daniels, and the defense slid for the second straight year.

The result was something unfathomable: a losing season.

Projected 2019 record and S&P+ ranking: 7-5 (29th)

Five key points:

  1. History suggests a head coach’s third year at USC is a harbinger of things to come. Helton’s third year produced USC’s worst season since 2000.
  2. Both offense and defense have regressed in each of Helton’s years, but he did his best to liven up the offense, (eventually) bringing in OC Graham Harrell.
  3. Harrell’s is a variety-heavy attack, and USC has a deep skill corps. If QB JT Daniels can steer the ship, improvement is forthcoming.
  4. The defense has to replace most of its secondary and maybe its best two LBs. The defensive front should be solid, but it’s youth galore elsewhere.
  5. The schedule … my goodness. USC is projected to play in nine one-score games, including each of the first four. So many different outcomes on the table.

Continue reading story here

—–

June 14th

CBS Sports ranks Pac-12 coaches (“Nothing personal”) 

From CBS Sports … Last month, the CBS Sports college football braintrust submitted ballots that were compiled to create our annual ranking of the Power Five coaches. For the Pac-12, that meant a lot of shuffling due to several first-year or relatively new coaches.

The top of the conference’s coaching ranks is clear-cut: Washington’s Chris Petersen and Stanford’s David Shaw have proven to be the conference’s best over an extended period of time. Even Utah’s Kyle Whittingham has brought a level of consistency enjoyed by so few programs across the sport. However, there are so many new coaches in the conference that the rest of the rankings end up jumbled.  And then there’s USC’s Clay Helton, who enters the season on one of the hottest seats anywhere. Can Helton save his job and move back up the rankings? Only time will tell.

A clear-eyed look at the entire conference heading into the 2019 season reveals very little separation between most of these coaches, and plenty of room for debate at every spot except No. 1. Complete Power 5 rankings: 1-25 | 26-65.

No. 12 – Colorado … Mel Tucker: Nothing personal, but dead last is typically where you end up if you’ve never been a college head coach before. Tucker did lead the Jacksonville Jaguars on an interim basis for five games in 2011, going 2-3 in that stretch. There’s just not much to base his ranking off of yet.

Read full list here

—–

June 13th

Sporting News ranks Pac-12 coaches (Mel Tucker placed where you’d expect)

From The Sporting News … Four Pac-12 coaches in the Top 25 nationally

RankNameSchoolWLPCT.OVR
1Chris PetersenWashington13933.8086
2David ShawStanford8226.75911
3Mike LeachWashington State13383.61617
4Kyle WhittinghamUtah12061.66321
5Chip KellyUCLA4916.75429
6Clay HeltonUSC3217.65331
7Mario CristobalOregon3652.40943
8Herm EdwardsArizona State76.53844
9Kevin SumlinArizona9150.64560
10Justin WilcoxCal1213.48064
11Jonathan SmithOregon State210.16772
12Mel TuckerColorado00.00078

Mustafa Johnson named the No. 3 best edge rusher in the nation

From Stay Alive in the Power Five … Quarterbacks beware. These playmakers are relentless along the edge and will make life hard for opposing offensive linemen this upcoming season. They must be identified and located on every play before the snap. Each individual possesses different skill sets that range from great vision, non-stop motors, all the way down to brute strength. All it takes is one quick burst from these defenders and in seconds they’ll have running backs and signal-callers eating grass. These pass-rushing, run-stuffing maniacs do all the blue-collar work in the trenches and don’t give Offensive Coordinators much sleep during the week trying to gameplan on how to block them. Soon they’ll be coming to a backfield near you!

3. Mustafa Johnson, Colorado: His name alone gives you chills, but Johnson’s play on the field is just as terrorizing for whoever has the ball on the opposing offense. The California native was recruited as a defensive tackle and arrived to Boulder as a three-star junior college transfer. However, the six-foot-two, 290-pounder quickly became a household name to fans around the Pac-12. Last season was Johnson’s first with the Buffaloes and he delivered with 73 tackles, including 15.5 for loss, which tied for third in the league. His 8.5 sacks was the best in the conference and he earned Honorable Mention All Pac-12. Johnson is a special talent and can play on the edge or on the interior. He had two sacks apiece against Colorado State, Nebraska, Oregon State and California. He had double-digit tackles against two Power Five teams and seven stops apiece against USC, New Hampshire and California.

Also from the Pac-126. Bradlee Anae, Utah: The Hawaii native has a great motor, with quick feet and can move from sideline to sideline. The former three-star recruit had 51 tackles, including 15.5 for loss, which was third-best in the Pac-12. Anae’s eight sacks ranked second in the league and he earned first team All-Conference honors. The six-foot-three, 254-pounder has 17 career sacks to go along with 27.5 tackles for loss. The Utes have a senior-laden defensive line this fall and Anae has the experience, production and leadership to produce a monster year.

Read full list here

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June 12th

Sports Illustrated list of Heisman trophy candidates includes two Buffs

From Sports Illustrated … We’re in the dead part of the football schedule, smack in the middle of that awkward time in between the major offseason developments and the actual preseason. The content keeps rolling, though, usually in the form of comprehensive team previews, and every small morsel of news gets over-analyzed and stretched out to feed our insatiable desire to read about football. That’s the negative—the no football part. But what you also get this time of year is more free time, which gives football writers more flexibility to turn outside-the-box ideas into interesting stories. I came across one of those ideas recently when ESPN’s Bill Barnwell laid out the 233 players who could win NFL MVP in 2019 using the award’s history. I thought it could be interesting to do a similar exercise for the Heisman Trophy and, after going through past winners and pouring over NCAA leaderboards and rosters, I’ve determined there are 117 players who have a chance to win the Heisman Trophy this season …

From the Pac-12 … 

Group I: The Elite Quarterbacks on Elite Teams

Group II: Very Good Quarterbacks on Good Teams

Justin Herbert (Oregon)

Group III: Good Quarterbacks on Good or Pretty Good Teams

K.J. Costello (Stanford),Tyler Huntley (Utah), Khalil Tate (Arizona), Steven Montez (Colorado), JT Daniels (USC)

Group IV: The Non-Power 5 Stars

Group V: First-Year Starters Who Could Pop

Gage Gubrud (Washington State), Jacob Eason (Washington)

Group VI: All Other Power 5 Starting Quarterbacks

Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA)Dillon Sterling-Cole (Arizona State)Chase Garbers (Cal)Jake Luton (Oregon State)

Group VII: Workhorse Running Backs

Eno Benjamin (Arizona State), J.J. Taylor (Arizona), Jermar Jefferson (Oregon State), CJ Verdell (Oregon), Joshua Kelley (UCLA), Zack Moss (Utah)

Group VIII: The Adrian Peterson Category

Group IX: The Generational Wide Receivers

Laviska Shenault (Colorado)

Group X: Defensive Playmakers

Troy Dye (Oregon)

—–

June 10th

Athlon posts 2019 CU preview: “The expectation, internally, is to get to the postseason this year”

From Athlon Sports …Just two years ago, Colorado was the defending Pac-12 South champion with reigning National Coach of the Year Mike MacIntyre leading the way into a title defense. Those days seem like ancient history after back-to-back 5–7 seasons, the firing of MacIntyre and the hiring of former Georgia and Alabama defensive coordinator Mel Tucker in the offseason.

This is Tucker’s first full-time head coaching job (he was interim coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars for five games in 2011), and he wasted very little time laying the foundation. He’s got a “no excuses” attitude and spent the offseason instilling intensity and physicality.

At CU, Tucker doesn’t have the talent he had to work with at Georgia and Alabama, but “the cupboards are not bare here,” he says. Now, it’s Tucker’s task to take that talent and get the Buffaloes back on track.

Previewing Colorado’s Offense for 2019

Under coordinator Jay Johnson, CU will have a different look, using pro-style sets and prioritizing the run game. Several familiar faces return, however.

Senior QB Steven Montez has had his ups and downs and is 12–15 as a starter, but he’s improved each year and made a positive impression on his new coaches in the spring. Physically, he’s got all the tools to be a star, but he will need to take another step above the neck to be elite.

Continue reading story here

—–

June 7th

Pac-12 championship odds – Oregon and Washington the betting favorites

From CBS Sports … Our deep dive into conference title odds rolls on this week to the Pac-12, a league known for wide-open races in recent years. Keeping in that spirit, the 2019 Pac-12 championship odds have plenty of interesting options on which to place your bets. FanDuel released the early odds for this year’s championship and two favorites — Oregon and Washington — are tied at the top. Another four teams have 10-1 odds or better. So, yeah, the Pac-12 race could once again be anyone’s game.

Let’s take a look at the full slate of odds before we move on to the picks.

TEAMODDS
Oregon+260
Washington+260
Utah+500
Arizona+1000
USC+1000
Washington State+1000
Arizona State+2300
Cal+3000
Stanford+3000
UCLA+3000
Colorado+12000
Oregon State+21000

—–

June 5th

Is Oregon the most overrated team in the nation?

From Pacific Takes

Colorado – Properly Rated – I think the Buffs are regarded very similar to Arizona. I think most people think they win 4-5 games and maybe make a bowl if a few things go right and their multi-year starter at quarterback progresses a little more. The wild card for the Buffs is Laviska Shenault, who has the ability to be the best player in the nation at any position, but I think most people are fairly not sure how that will alter their win/loss record.

Oregon – Overrated – Many Pac-12 fans (especially Washington and Utah fans) are calling Oregon one of the most-overrated teams in college football history. There’s a lot of truth to that. The Ducks breakout year should have been 2018 with the amount of returning experience and the incredibly-friendly schedule the conference handed them. They didn’t. There’s a lot to like about the Ducks, but they’re going to have to prove they’re a championship-caliber team on the field.

USC – Overrated – I can’t believe I’ve seen USC in preseason Top 25s. The Trojans have been a disaster under Clay Helton for the last year and they lost most of their best talent and experience to graduation last year. I could see them being decent their talented receivers and Air Raid system, but I would be very surprised if they are a Top 25 team in November.

Read full Pac-12 list here

—–

June 4th

247 Sports first-weekend predictions for Pac-12 games

From 247 Sports … Has anyone else already set the DVR to record during college football’s opening weekend this season?

Par for the course, there’s an appetizing slate of games in various time slots to leave your thirst quenched during the Labor Day break including several spotlighted matchups featuring teams expected to compete for championships in their respective leagues.

Combing through contests involving Power 5 teams, we’ve picked out the 10 we’re anticipating the most and given an early prediction for each. Coming out of fall practice, these picks are subject to change based on depth chart finalization and potential injuries to take into consideration.

But it’s June, which is always the perfect summer month to meet at the water cooler and talk ball while college football’s countdown to kickoff begins.

Northwestern at Stanford … This one’s a long trip for Northwestern and may mean more for Stanford than it does for the Wildcats. Northwestern started its 2018 campaign 1-3 before reeling off seven wins over its next eight games to reach the Big Ten Championship. Meanwhile, the Cardinal lost their momentum after an unbeaten start through four weeks, falling out of the Top 25 to finish 8-4 — below program standards reached during David Shaw’s tenure. One of the more intriguing storylines in this game features the quarterback battle pitting K.J. Costello against Hunter Johnson, a Clemson transfer. Johnson was a heralded recruit for the Tigers who got lost on the depth chart behind Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence.

Prediction: Stanford 28, Northwestern 24

Fresno State at USC … Two fringe Top 25 teams, Fresno State and USC could be one of those sleeper great games in Week 1. The Bulldogs are coming off a 12-win season and get the big national television spotlight on ESPN to open, but there are concerns going into a showdown against the Trojans. Fresno State has just three starters back offensively taking on a USC team with its collective backs against the wall after a disappointing 5-7 campaign. If that happens again, Clay Helton will be gone and one of college football’s top jobs will be open in Los Angeles. USC can’t lose this one and the J.T. Daniels-Graham Harrell dynamic on offense will be interesting to watch.

Prediction: USC 27, Fresno State 20

Auburn v. Oregon (Arlington) … A pivotal contest for both teams in terms of poll placement and possible College Football Playoff scenarios down the stretch, the only game pitting two Top 10s in Week 1 features Auburn’s veteran talent on defense going up against Justin Herbert and the Ducks high-powered passing attack. Outside of Nebraska, Oregon may have the most offseason momentum in college football after landing the nation’s seventh-best signing class and getting its quarterback to return for his senior season. The Ducks are a Playoff darkhorse along with Auburn, a team approaching a crossroads under Gus Malzahn. Fans are are anxious to see how this year’s offense will perform with Malzahn calling the plays and a first-year starter under center.

Prediction: Auburn 31, Oregon 27

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June 2nd

Athlon lists CU’s primary strengths and weaknesses

From Athlon …

CU’s Players to watch … QB Steven Montez; WR Laviska Shenault; WR K.D. Nixon; DE Mustafa Johnson; LB Nate Landman; LB Davion Taylor

Primary Strengths … Shenault may be the most electrifying player in the Pac-12, and Montez has shown flashes of brilliance in his previous three seasons. A veteran offensive line should help both players.

Potential Problems … The offense fell apart last season after Shenault went down, and that was with running back Travon McMillian in the backfield. Uncertainty at running back this season places an even higher premium on the receiver corps remaining at full strength. Defensively, the lack of experience and depth on the line is glaring for a side that already struggled to generate turnovers a season ago.

Top Newcomer … Nose tackle Jalen Sami … The departure of stalwart interior lineman Javier Edwards, the unexpected graduation of Lyle Tuiloma and the transfer of Israel Antwine created a need upfront that Jalen Sami will be vital in addressing. The former grayshirt sustained an injury that kept him out of last season.

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June 1st

Lindy’s picks the Pac-12 

From Lindy’s …

Pac-12 North:

  1. Oregon … Mario Cristobal’s hard-nosed approach will produce big results in 2019
  2. Washington … If new starters on D get up to speed – and Jacob Eason delivers – the Huskies repeat, right?
  3. Stanford … David Shaw-coached teams thrive as overachievers; 2019 could be another such case?
  4. Washington State … Washington State has exceeded expectations four straight; 2019 might make it five
  5. Cal … Justin Wilcox has another bowl team, but contention in the loaded North is a tall order
  6. Oregon State … Facing five quality opponents just in divisional play leaves little room for upward mobility

Pac-12 South:

  1. Utah … Utah is a clear favorite to repeat atop an otherwise unpredictable South
  2. USC … 2019 is critical for Clay Helton; will a brutal schedule seal his fate
  3. Arizona State … Herm Edwards’ squad exceeded expectations in Year 1 … and could again in Year 2
  4. Arizona … Arizona could be a surprise contender if it avoids major injuries
  5. UCLA … Another gauntlet of a schedule will make reaching a bowl game a challenge
  6. Colorado … Colorado could surprise as a result of its experience but may lack the defense to do so

More on CU from Lindy’s Overview: Colorado’s 5-0 start last season warranted comparisons to the Buffs’ surprise run to the 2016 Pac-12 championship game. The 0-7 slide that followed more closely resembled Colorado’s struggles upon first entering the conference, when it won just five Pac-12 games in five seasons from 2011 through 2015. It cost Mike MacIntyre his job before the regular season finale.

Tucker arrives in his first head coaching role, but not without considerable power-conference success. Tucker coordinated a Georgia defense that fell just shy of winning a national championship in 2017. He inherits a roster in considerably better shape than when MacIntyre took over, and the Buffs could have some surprise success this season, given the uncertainty of the Pac-12 South.

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May 30th 

Ranking Pac-12 schedules (CU No. 6)

From the San Jose Mercury News … Pac-12 schedules for the 2019 football season range from soft-and-manageable to what-are-you-thinking difficult, which is to be expected.

The issue, as we see it, is the deployment:

Ideally, teams with the best rosters would face schedules stout enough to impress the College Football Playoff committee.

That’s not entirely the case in the Pac-12, however.

Of the five teams that seem most likely to compete for the CFP based on returning talent and recent success …

* Three lack marquee non-conference duels and will be vulnerable to committee downgrades when their resumes are compared to other contenders:

Utah, Washington and Washington State.

* One has seemingly scheduled itself out of contention:

Stanford.

* Only one has it just right, with a showcase non-conference opportunity and tough, but not daunting, path through the league:

Oregon.

More below (and much more, including game-by-game predictions, as the season draws closer).

Ranking the schedules …

6. Colorado
Non-conference: vs. Colorado State (Denver), vs. Nebraska, vs. Air Force
Cross-division misses: Oregon State and Cal
Bye placement: Weeks 5 and 12
Comment: The Buffs have a fan-friendly home schedule with Nebraska, USC, Stanford and Washington. But there are no FCS cupcakes to be found, and the cross-division misses are sub-optimal. (Mel Tucker gets an up-close look at the North powers.) In fact, once CU hits the middle of October, it’s difficult to identify any likely victories: Oregon, WSU, USC, UCLA, Stanford, UW and Utah.

Read full story here

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May 29th

SportsPac-12: USC and UCLA aren’t back (yet)

From SportsPac12 … The L.A. schools are arguably the lifeblood of the South, though Utah made a strong argument for that distinction last season. In any case, most agree the Conference is perceived stronger nationally when the Trojans and Bruins perform well.

Should both programs fall short of their perennial expectations again this season, the consequences could be as damaging as they would be embarrassing. USC and UCLA need to step it up.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.


⬇ Trending Down: USC and UCLA


Falling Short of Expectations in 2019: USC Trojans


– 2018 Overall and Conference Record: 5-7 (4-5)
– 2019 Projected Regular Season Record: 7-5 (5-4)

Losing seasons simply do not happen at USC. Or so it would seem.

How rare are they? The last time the Trojans lost more games than they won was in 2000. Since 1968, the year the Conference became the Pac-8, they have produced just four losing seasons total.

Season in and season out, USC is loaded with talent at every position. And only a few Pac-12 teams are capable of keeping pace in recruiting, giving the Trojans a psychological advantage before they take the field.

But that Trojan mystique seemed to vanish last season, with USC winning just five games. The magic figures to be elusive this year as well, with a new offensive system, the departure of three starting offensive linemen, the loss of team’s leading rusher, leading tackler, and several other key players on defense.

All of which could leave South Division challengers chasing USC like sharks in bloodied water—and the Trojans chasing a replacement for beleaguered head coach Clay Helton.

Of course, there’s always the chance USC plays up to its potential and menaces the Conference once again.


Bottom Line: USC remains beatable by all but a few.


Not Living up to Expectations in 2019: UCLA Bruins

– 2018 Overall and Conference Record: 3-9 (3-6)
– 2019 Projected Regular Season Record: 5-7 (4-5)

With 12 Rose Bowl appearances and nine 10-win seasons to their credit, the Bruins have historically generated lofty expectations. But while UCLA’s recent drop-off has been unsettling, many prognosticators are projecting a dramatic turnaround this season.

And yes, it has been done in Westwood before.

As recently as 2013 and 2014, former coach Jim Mora seemed to have the Bruins on track, putting together back-to-back 10-win seasons for only the third time in school history. But since winning the Alamo Bowl in 2014, UCLA has been in sharp decline, compiling a disappointing 19-29 record.

Last year’s 3-9 season was the worst since 1989, when the Bruins went 3-7-1. While Mora didn’t exactly leave the cupboard empty, it could take a few more recruiting classes for second-year Coach Chip Kelly to assemble the players he needs to run his system.

UCLA should be improved enough to upset a team or two this fall, but not enough to make a bowl.


Bottom Line: UCLA isn’t back just yet.

Read full story here

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May 27th

S&P+ projections have CU as the No. 68 team in the nation

From SB Nation … The preseason S&P+ projections are a simple mix of three factors: recent history, returning production, and recruiting. To come up with 130-team projections for all of FBS, I create projected ratings based on each factor. Here’s how the process works:

  • For recruiting, I create a rating based on these weighted four-year recruiting rankings. The weighting (67 percent this year’s class, 15 percent last year’s, 15 percent the year before that, three percent the year before that) is based on what makes the ratings most predictive.
  • For returning production, I take each team’s returning offensive and defensive production(which are on different scales) and apply projected changes to last year’s ratings. The ranking you see below is not where they rank in returning production but where they would rank after the projected changes are applied to last year’s S&P+ averages. This piece makes up a vast majority of the overall S&P+ projections.
  • For recent history, I’ve found that getting a little weird predicts pretty well. This number isn’t a strict five-year average — last year’s ratings already carry heavy weight from the returning production piece. Instead, what you see below is a projection based solely off of seasons two to five years ago. Recent history doesn’t carry much weight in the projections, but it serves as a reflection of overall program health. We overreact to one year’s performance sometimes.

The Pac-12 … 

RkTeamConferenceRecruiting impactReturning productionWeighted 5-yearProj. S&P+
15WashingtonPac-1218161717.7
17UtahPac-1240152715.4
20OregonPac-1213262513.8
29USCPac-1216381010.7
32StanfordPac-1221391310.0
36Washington StatePac-126129518.9
49Arizona StatePac-123153545.9
52ArizonaPac-125545605.4
60CaliforniaPac-124660643.4
63UCLAPac-123468283.1
68ColoradoPac-124371721.7
105Oregon StatePac-126610596-9.4

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May 26th

Laviska Shenault named to third-team All-American team

From Athlon Sports … All-American teams

From Pac-12 … 

First-team All-Americans

  • Offensive lineman – Walker Little, Jr. – Stanford
  • Offensive lineman – Calvin Throckmorton, Sr. – Oregon
  • Linebacker – Evan Weaver, Sr. – California
  • Cornerback – Paulson Adebo, So. – Stanford

Second-team All-Americans

  • Tight end – Hunter Bryant, Jr. – Washington
  • Offensive lineman – Trey Adams, Sr. – Washington
  • Defensive lineman – Bradlee Anae, Sr. – Utah
  • Linebacker – Troy Dye, Sr. – Oregon

Third-team All-Americans

  • Running back – Eno Benjamin, Sr. – Arizona State
  • All-purpose – J.J. Taylor, Jr. – Arizona
  • Wide receiver – Laviska Shenault, Jr. – Colorado
  • Offensive lineman – Nick Harris, Sr. – Washington

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May 25th

Athlon predicts ten Pac-12 teams will be bowl-eligible in 2019

From Athlon Sports …

Pac-12 North predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Washington … 11-2, 7-2 … Rose Bowl v. Ohio State
  2. Oregon … 9-3, 7-2 … Alamo Bowl v. Texas
  3. Washington State … 8-4, 5-4 … Redbox Bowl v. Minnesota
  4. Stanford … 7-5-5-4 … Las Vegas Bowl v. Boise State
  5. California … 6-6, 3-6 … no bowl bid
  6. Oregon State … 2-10, 1-8 … not eligible

Pac-12 South predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Utah … 10-3, 7-2 … Holiday Bowl v. Iowa
  2. UCLA … 7-5, 6-3 … Sun Bowl v. Florida State
  3. USC … 6-6, 4-5 … Cheez-It Bowl v. Baylor
  4. Arizona State … 6-6, 4-5 … no bowl bid
  5. Arizona … 6-6, 3-6 … no bowl bid
  6. Colorado … 4-8, 2-7 … not eligible

And …

  • Colorado State … 4-8, 3-5 … not eligible
  • Nebraska … 9-4, 6-3 … Citrus Bowl v. Texas A&M
  • Air Force … 7-5, 4-5 … Armed Forces Bowl v. Purdue

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May 22nd

Sporting News projects bowl teams (CU not in the mix)

From the Sporting News … The 2019 college postseason schedule features 40 bowl games between FBS teams, with the finale at the College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This year’s semifinal games will be on Dec. 28 at the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.

The big question is whether anybody other than Clemson or Alabama make their way to the Big Easy for the championship game. Georgia, Ohio State, Texas and Oklahoma are among the teams we believe could be in the hunt for the other two Playoff spots as the sixth College Football Playoff chase begins.

Sporting News has projections for all 40 bowl games here, and they will be updated throughout the season as dates for bowls outside the New Year’s Day Six are revealed.

The Pac-12 … 

Jan. 1Rose BowlMichigan vs. Oregon
Valero Alamo BowlUtah vs. Iowa State
San Diego County Credit Union HolidayWashington vs. Iowa
Redbox BowlStanford vs. Minnesota
Hyundai Sun BowlWashington State vs. Miami
Las Vegas BowlFresno State vs. UCLA
Cheez-It BowlUSC vs. Baylor
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces BowlArizona State* vs. Boston College*

Read full list of bowl projections here

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May 21st

Athlon All-Pac-12 teams includes seven Buffs

From Athlon Sports … Utah, Oregon, Washington and Washington State are the early favorites to win the Pac-12 this fall, so it’s no surprise those four teams headline a chunk of the selections for the 2019 All-Pac-12 team. The Ducks lead the way with 13 selections on Athlon’s all-conference picks, followed by Washington State, Arizona State and Utah with 11. The Huskies check in with 10 picks, including three on the first-team offense.

Athlon Sports has released its top 25 for 2019Now, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor the top players in the league with a release of first, second, third and fourth all-conference teams for 2019.

An important note on the all-conference teams: These are based on how players will perform in 2019. Career statistics and awards matter in the evaluation, but choosing players for the 2019 all-conference team is largely based on predicting and projecting the best for the upcoming year.

Colorado players listed … 

1st team offense … WR Laviska Shenault

1st team offense … DL Mustafa Johnson

2nd team defense … LB Nate Landman

3rd team special teams … PR Ronnie Blackmon

4th team offense … OL Tim Lynott

4th team defense … LB Davion Taylor

4th team special teams … P Alex Kinney

Random Thoughts … Disappointing that three-year starters Steven Montez and Alex Kinney haven’t made more of an impression on preseason list-makers … A lack of any receivers from CU other than Laviska Shenault is a sign of laziness on Athlon’s part. CU has perhaps the deepest wide receiver roster in the conference. Daniel Arias, K.D. Nixon and/or Dimitri Stanley will make names for themselves this fall … Nice recognition for Mustafa Johnson, who will need to be a monster this season … Nate Landman should have been first team this summer – he will be need summer …

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May 20th

Athlon releases its preseason Top 25 – Four CU opponents make the list

From Athlon Sports … The 2019 college football season officially begins on Saturday, Aug. 24, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what might transpire this fall. Each FBS season brings plenty of surprises, disappointments and unexpected teams emerging in the national title picture. However, two teams – Clemson and Alabama – are a step ahead of the rest of the college football world and are poised for a rematch in the national championship game.

Alabama is Athlon’s projected national champion, with Clemson at No. 2, followed by Georgia and Michigan in the top four. Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU headline the next trio of teams, with Florida, Notre Dame and Texas A&M rounding out the projected top 10. The 2019 season concludes with the national championship on Jan. 13 in New Orleans, La., in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

CU opponents in 2019 … 

No. 17 Nebraska … Scott Frost has Nebraska trending up entering the 2019 season. The Cornhuskers finished 2018 by winning four out of their last six games. The two losses – Ohio State and Iowa – came by a combined eight points. Quarterback Adrian Martinez averaged 295.1 total yards a game as a freshman last year and will only get better with another offseason to work with Frost. Martinez’s development is a big reason why the Cornhuskers are the pick to win the Big Ten West Division. The offensive line returns two starters, and JD Spielman (66 catches in 2018) will move into the No. 1 role after the departure of Stanley Morgan Jr. The status of running back Maurice Washington is uncertain due to legal issues, but junior college recruit Dedrick Mills should help in the backfield right away. True freshman and all-purpose threat Wan’Dale Robinson is a name to remember and a potential breakout candidate this fall. There’s room for improvement on a Nebraska defense that allowed 5.8 yards per play and 31.3 points a game last fall. The good news for Frost: A good foundation is in place up front, and the line was bolstered by the addition of Oklahoma State transfer Darrion Daniels at tackle. Mohamed Barry (linebacker) and Dicaprio Bootle (cornerback) are two of the best in the Big Ten at their position. In addition to the projected improvement by Martinez and the offense, along with some gains on defense, Nebraska’s schedule sets up favorably for a run at the West Division title. The Cornhuskers play Ohio State in crossover play but catch Indiana and Maryland in their other two games against the East. Additionally, Nebraska hosts Iowa, Wisconsin and Northwestern in Lincoln this fall.

No. 15 Oregon … Oregon returns all of the necessary pieces to win its first Pac-12 title since 2014. Quarterback Justin Herbert passed on the NFL for one more year in Eugene, and the senior ranks among the best in college football for 2019. Herbert started every game in 2018, throwing for 3,151 yards and 29 touchdowns to just eight picks. His supporting cast features one of the nation’s top offensive lines and a solid one-two punch at running back in CJ Verdell and Travis Dye. The receiving corps is Oregon’s biggest question mark. Dillon Mitchell left early for the NFL, leaving Jaylon Redd (11.4 ypc on 38 catches) and tight end Jacob Breeland (24 receptions) as the top statistical options for 2019. However, coach Mario Cristobal tapped into the transfer portal, landing Juwan Johnson from Penn State. Oregon’s standout recruiting class could provide some solutions to the receiving corps. Freshman Mykael Wright is a name to watch this fall. New coordinator Andy Avalos inherits a defense that allowed only 25.4 points a game in 2018 and features a promising core of talent at every level. Freshman Kayvon Thibodeaux is an impact addition in the trenches, and linebacker Troy Dye – an All-America candidate – is likely to lead the team in tackles for the fourth year in a row. The Ducks ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency defense last season and should own one of the league’s top defensive backfields once again. Cornerbacks Thomas Graham and Deommodore Lenoir combined for 27 pass breakups last fall and are joined by Jevon Holland and Nick Pickett at safety. The biggest obstacle to Oregon’s Pac-12 North title hopes could be the schedule. The Ducks play at Washington and Stanford this season. Additionally, the opener versus Auburn is one of the top non-conference showdowns of 2019.

No. 13 Utah … Utah crossed an important hurdle in its program history by claiming the first Pac-12 South crown. The next step for coach Kyle Whittingham’s team is clear: Win the Pac-12 title and play in a New Year’s Six bowl. Both goals are attainable for 2019. As expected from a Whittingham-coached team, Utah’s defense ranks among the best in college football. The line is one of the best in the nation, with Bradlee Anae and tackles Leki Fotu and John Penisini poised to challenge for All-America honors. Transfers Manny Bowen (Penn State) and Francis Bernard (BYU) are likely to fill the void left behind by Chase Hansen and Cody Barton at linebacker. Some retooling is needed in the secondary following the departures of safeties Marquise Blair and Corrion Ballard. While the starting unit will look a little different, the level of performance shouldn’t change. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson, safety Julian Blackmon and defensive back Javelin Guidry lead a group that held Pac-12 teams to just 58.6 percent passing last fall. Injuries to quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss hindered Utah’s offense in 2018. The Utes ended the year by averaging 5.7 yards a play and 28.1 points a game, but there’s room for improvement. Coordinator Andy Ludwig’s return to Salt Lake City is one of the offseason’s top coordinator hires, and he’s tasked with helping Huntley take the next step in his development. Assisting Huntley is a solid group of receivers, including all-around playmaker Britain Covey and tight ends Cole Fotheringham and Brant Kuithe. The Utes have to replace two starters up front but usually do a good job of rebuilding in the trenches. Special teams are often overlooked, but Utah will miss standout kicker Matt Gay and punter Mitch Wishnowsky. The Utes left spring with concerns at kicker and tapped into the transfer portal for help with the addition of UCLA graduate Andrew Strauch. Utah is clearly the class of the Pac-12 South and the Nov. 2 date at Washington could be an early preview of the conference title game.

No. 12 Washington … It’s a close call between Washington and Oregon for the top spot in the Pac-12 North. With the Huskies hosting the Ducks this season, and a belief in Chris Petersen and his staff, Washington is Athlon’s pick to win the division once again in 2019. The Huskies held teams to 16.4 points a game and 4.67 yards a play last fall. The defense may not match those totals with just two returning starters but a significant drop-off isn’t likely. Coordinator Jimmy Lake should have this unit performing at a high level in short order, especially with plenty of talent returning in the secondary and Benning Potoa’e and Levi Onwuzurike back to anchor the trenches. Washington’s offense did just enough to win the Pac-12 last season, but Petersen and coordinator Bush Hamdan need more out of this group. Georgia transfer Jacob Eason is slated to replace Jake Browning under center, and the Huskies have a breakout star in Salvon Ahmed ready to move into the No. 1 running back role. Eason brings more arm strength and downfield passing ability to the offense, which will open up more opportunities for Ty Jones and Aaron Fuller. The return of tight end Hunter Bryant to full strength should provide a boost to the passing game. The line is among the best in the nation, with left tackle Trey Adams back to 100 percent after missing most of 2018 due to injury. The schedule sets up in Washington’s favor. The Huskies catch USC, Oregon, Utah and Washington State all in Seattle this fall.

Read full rankings list here

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May 15th

Athlon rates the Pac-12 quarterbacks 

… Steven Montez is a senior and a three-year starter. One would have hoped Montez would have been higher rated by now … 

From Athlon Sports … High-scoring offenses and standout quarterback play are usually an annual staple for the Pac-12. That’s again the case in 2019, as the conference returns an All-America candidate in Oregon’s Justin Herbert, followed by Stanford’s K.J. Costello and two dual-threat quarterbacks in Utah’s Tyler Huntley and Arizona’s Khalil Tate. The development of USC’s JT Daniels, UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Washington’s Jacob Eason will only add to the depth of this conference.

Ranking the quarterbacks by conference or nationally is no easy task. To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2019. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors – pure talent, supporting cast, having a clear hold on the No. 1 position, previous production, 2019 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) – were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 for 2019.

7. Colorado – Steven Montez

Montez returning for his senior year was a big boost for new coach Mel Tucker. After an impressive stint as a part-time starter and backup to Sefo Liufau in 2016, Montez threw for 2,975 yards and 18 touchdowns in ’17 during his first full year as the No. 1 quarterback. The Texas native continued his development with a solid junior campaign last fall. Montez started all 12 games for the Buffaloes, throwing for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns to nine picks. He’s also added 576 yards and seven scores on the ground over the last two years. Montez should finish his career in Boulder on a high note, especially with All-America receiver Laviska Shenault back in 2019.

Read full story here

Pacific Takes lists top units for each Pac-12 teams

From Pacific Takes … Each Pac-12 team has one unit that stands out above others:

Colorado – Wide Receiver – Laviska Shenault Jr. alone makes this a strength for Colorado. He’s going to be impossible to account for. Throw in an excellent number two with KD Nixon and you have a unit that’s going to be very tough to stop in 2019.

Read full list here

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May 6th 

College Football News see a bowl game in CU’s future …

From the College Football News

– The offense has more than enough good parts to find its groove again. It was rocking and rolling early on, and then came the power outage in Pac-12 play, scoring 21 points or fewer in five the last seven games. In comes new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson after spending the last few years on the Georgia staff. The offense will be balanced, but the passing game should be too good not to rely on early and often.

– Steven Montez has the talent to grow into a good pro prospect. He has to be more consistent, he has to maintain and even keel, and he has to be the veteran leader with several big-time receiving weapons to be far, far more explosive.

It’s no coincidence that the O slowed once Laviska Shenault went down with an injury. If he can stay in one piece, he’s the best receiver in college football – but he’s not alone. KD Nixon and Tony Brown are dangers deep threats, too …

– Head coach Mel Tucker is a defensive coach by nature, and his coordinator Tyson Summers is going to bring the fire, too. There are just enough personnel losses to hurt, but get ready for the pressure to come from a group that wasn’t all that bad at getting into the backfield and finished fifth in the Pac-12 in total D.

Biggest Key for Defense … Come up with takeaways. With a defensive-minded head man in Mel Tucker, and with a good defensive coordinator in Tyson Summers, the Buff defense should be far more active and far more productive. That starts with figuring out how to start taking the ball away.

The 2016 team that got to the Pac-12 title game generated 26 takeaways. The following year, the turnovers stopped with just 14, and none in the last three games. Last season, the defense once again failed to come up with a takeaway over the final three games – the Buffs went -11 in turnover margin during the stretch. The D recovered just three fumbles over the last nine games, and only generated multiple interceptions once all year.

Key Gameat Arizona State, Sept. 21 … If Colorado is going to have a good season, the opener against Colorado State has to be a given, and the date with Air Force has to be a layup. To have a really good year, the Buffs have to show they’re the real deal by taking care of Nebraska for the second straight season. But with what’s coming in Pac-12 play, starting out with a win at Arizona State – it was the final Buff win of last year before the slide – would mean the world.

There’s a week off before facing Arizona, but the back half of the slate is an absolute bear – there’s no Oregon State on the schedule this time around. Lose to ASU, and it might be a scramble to go bowling.

Season Prediction … The Buffs need to get their mojo back.

The brutally ugly seven-game losing streak after starting 5-0 was all about confidence. The schedule wasn’t that brutal, and the team didn’t play all that bad in parts. But the offense fell off the map over the final few weeks, and the defense followed closely behind.

Every new coaching staff says it wants to create a culture change, but that’s really what was needed after last year.

Mel Tucker and his staff will change up the energy, but the defensive parts aren’t quite there with just enough holes to be annoying. As long as the D can start taking the ball away and hold serve, the O should be able to do the rest.

The offensive line will be just a wee bit better, and that should be enough for the skill stars to blow up in a much, much stronger season.

Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 6

Continue reading story here

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31 Replies to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. Yo Stu,

    So do get like a free VIP pass to all those sites because of your Stature.

    Asking for AZ and others.

    Up the Buffalo

    1. Nope. I pay for all pay sites, and appreciate the time and effort they put into getting us the information they do.

    2. I only pay for subscriptions to healthy eating and cooking magazines now. I did subscribe to SI back when it first started. Wish I still had my copies of those first few years, then I could afford to take VK to Pebble Beach and Stuart to a warm place in the winter.

  2. I am going to take some of Westgate’s money. Maybe we can get enough other Buff fans to chip in and bankrupt them.

  3. Hard to believe there are 26 other players in the college ranks superior to Viska in physical ability and talent diversity than him.
    Of course its hard to believe much of anything from these preseason munchkins.

  4. the pundidiot parade continues. Colorado a trap game for Nebraska? Evidently the Sporting News writer is 22 years old and has no idea of the history. Sure some corn field fans like to pooh pooh the “so called” rivalry being their way to deny the Buffs any credit. At the end of the day they cant help themselves. The latest example being the Moos call of incitement that must have also flown by the Sporting news rookie’s head.
    The fact that the Buffs gave all those farmers heartburn and diarrhea in their own crumbling stadium last year makes it a lock the cobs wont even be looking ahead to their next plate of gravy and potatoes

  5. Laviska Shoulder injury?
    I remember severe turf toe keeping him out for 5 games. These so called experts are idiots, do some research before printing false info.

    1. Maybe he confused the “shoulder injury” with McKinley Wright’s injury, I mean he’d only be wrong by both the player and the sport… but they are both star athletes at CU. Maybe next time they’ll get one of them confused with Dani Jones, another star athlete at CU. ;0

  6. Mel; I think I speak for many in the Buff nation, when I say that “we are ready for you to shock the nation “

  7. Athlon….pfft. What an empty weak arse summary of the Buffs.
    And what I really really hate (some will disagree? damn right) are these faux gurus saying ….”the PAC 12 really needs USC…..”
    What the PAC 12 needs, along with every other conference is all the teams beating each other up on a regular basis….aka….parity to make things vastly more intense and interesting. But these maroon pundits would rather see USC back to dominate just like Alabama in their conference, Oklahoma in their conference, Clemson is their conference, Ohio State etc.
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    Go Buffs
    kick the living hell out of USC.

  8. What a stupid assessment by NBC of Mel Tucker as one of the PAC 12 coaches possibly on the hot seat this year as “Luke Warm.” I can see why so many universities are doing away with their Journalism Schools. Why spend all kinds of money for an education that it seems as just about any slug can participate in when you read the crapola and what is spewed by these so called guys getting paid to write this stuff. My advice, don’t spend any money on these so called national publications as the quality is about equal to a sophisticated electronic product that some 6 year old kid might make.

    1. I read that as Mel Tucker being the “New Guy” with Sumlin and Edwards being the “Luke Warm” guys.

    2. I agree. If at-risk means potentially being fired, it seems that only Helton falls into this category. None of those other coaches will be fired. There is a lot of lazy analysis going on.

  9. So Sporting News rates Mel 12th in conference and 78th overall. Before we relegate the publication to fire starter for the charcoal grill lets review last seasons vaunted conf./overall rankings. Herm was 12th and 87th, Jonathan Smith 11th and 86th, Cristobal 10th and 72nd, Wilcox 9th and 68th, Mike Mac 8th and 49th, Sumlin 7th and 38th, Leach 6th and 29th, Whittingham 5th and 25th, Chip K at 4th and 19th, Helton 3rd and 18th, Shaw 2nd and 10th, and Peterson 1st and 7th overall. You can thank me or curse me later…

  10. Well #78 is alright for a coach that has never coached a college game in his life. Heck I would have been ok if he was tied for last. We shall see on game days his true worth. Shoulder to Shoulder
    GO BUFFS!

  11. “Colorado is a long way from reaching that level, but talent hasn’t been the Buffs’ issue the last few years, and Tucker doesn’t view this as a rebuild.” From Athlon.

    Well there ya go.

    Buffs

  12. at least the nitwit from SB admits he is living in the past….which means of course, he aint even trying to look into the future.
    That 20/20 hindsight is such a gift….n’est pas?

  13. As much as I despise their worthless product I have to admire these preseason athletic site prognosticator’s sense of entrepreneurship. In the age of the internet all you have to do is create a website that appoints yourself as an expert and then make yourself a millionaire by exploiting the irrationality of and advertising to millions of fans.
    I’m thinking of doing my own site, calling it “Bullon” and start ranking players by heretofore ignored categories such as….who will get the best shoe deals…..who is most likely to get dismissed for breaking team rules, etc etc. Heck I might even get schools with coaches like Miller to pay me to keep quiet

  14. Yeah, well…..NOBODY SAW THE 2016 TEAM GOING TO A BOWL GAME, LET ALONE THE ALAMO BOWL!!! CBS Sports called it but people thought they were nuts. Pass the Kool Aid Ccornhuckers!!

  15. Maybe Hebert and Costello but the rest of em aint as good as Montez. Once again the pander magazines are ranking the schools instead of the QB’s by their past reps and in many cases not even their results. What has the periodical princess Huntley done better? Even with a superior O line. Tate? flameout. Daniels? has yet to come anywhere close to the hype. Eason? unproven. Thompson-Rob? puhleeez.
    Once again preseason sewer slurry

  16. As per the article and the poll there will certainly be a host of important games facing Tucker’s first CU team. In my mind the most important game will come where the Buffs are able to bounce back after a loss. A feat that hasn’t occurred since 10/28/17 when the team defeated Cal after falling to Washington State the previous week.

  17. Wow preseason mags.

    4 months to game time

    Okay golf season. That is all

    Buffs

    Note: Kornkob kommunity kollege. Dang nab it whip em. They are gonna come in here cocky, ranked, looking for payback, with a good QB andwith the worse fans in the kountry,,,,,,,,,,”Them red-arsed (for a reason) kornholer klutz-nowledge from stinkn linkn” contaminating the best college town in the country.

    ………………………………..BUILD THE WALL

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