Complete SEC preview for the 2018 season.
After winning its fifth title in nine seasons last year, Alabama is primed for another run at the national championship and SEC title in 2018. The Crimson Tide are the pick in 2018 SEC predictions to edge Auburn and win the West Division and knock off Georgia in the conference title game to claim the league championship. The Bulldogs are also primed for another run into the CFB Playoff. Coach Kirby Smart continues to add elite talent on the recruiting trail, and there’s a strong foundation to build off the 2017 season. Auburn is Alabama’s biggest challenger in the West, followed by Mississippi State and Texas A&M. The race to finish second in the East is wide open. Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky or Missouri are next up, with Tennessee and Vanderbilt projected at the bottom of the division.
Offensive coordinator Dan Mullen embraces the incredible expectations that drove his former boss, Urban Meyer, to retire for a season and cost Will Muschamp and McElwain their jobs at Florida. Mullen’s ability to develop quarterbacks is critical given the long-standing issues under center. He and his staff must prove to be strong recruiters to rebuild Florida’s talent level and depth after four straight classes outside the top 10. The 46-year-old will benefit from a favorable schedule. Doubling last season’s total of four wins is within reach.
Georgia doesn’t have the experience coming back that it did last year, but it may have as much talent. It’s just younger and inexperienced talent, and that does matter, and would be a reason not to expect another CFB Playoff run. Then again, the schedule is far from daunting. Georgia has to go to LSU, and September games at South Carolina and Missouri could be troublesome. Auburn visits Athens.
Georgia should be a heavy favorite to repeat as SEC East champion. Everything else probably depends on how quickly the defense reloads.
If Kentucky can find a competent quarterback, there is enough experienced talent at the other positions to envision the Wildcats breaking through the seven-win plateau for the first time in the coach Mark Stoops era. If not, the Wildcats could be in danger of taking a step back by either falling to a lesser bowl than the last two seasons or missing postseason play altogether.
There’s just enough turnover to give one pause, but most of the reasons for last year’s second-half surge return. That suggests a pretty high floor in a division that features quite a few teams that bottomed out in 2017.
If a Will Muschamp-coached team is ever going to get the offense going, this would seem the year with QB Jake Bentley and WR Deebo Samuel in the fold. The defense has personnel question marks, but Muschamp and 3rd year defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson have earned the benefit of the doubt on that side of the ball.
With Florida and Tennessee in transition thanks to coaching changes, South Carolina can realistically enter the season with its eye on second place in the SEC East, the same spot it claimed a year ago. It’s probably a bit much to expect the Gamecocks to compete with defending conference champion Georgia, but South Carolina gets the Bulldogs in the second game of the season at home, so there’s always hope.
Tennessee doesn’t have much margin for error, particularly with a challenging schedule that opens with offensive juggernaut West Virginia. The Vols plan to be efficient with a low-risk offense, mindful of turnovers while featuring aggressive blitz packages and coverage schemes. New coach Jeremy Pruitt hopes that recipe is good enough to produce (at least) six wins in Year 1.
The overall win total dropped by only one game from 2016 to 2017, but a deeper dive into the numbers reveals that the Commodores took a significant step back in coach Derek Mason’s fourth season. To get his team back into the bowl picture — and to stay off the hot seat — Mason will need to solve the Commodores’ defensive issues. Even if QB Kyle Shurmur and the offense continue to progress — a realistic proposition with an improved offensive line and the addition of Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the backfield — Vanderbilt will struggle to stay out of the SEC East cellar if the defense is allowing 40-plus points in league games.
There was a different feel to Alabama’s most recent national title. For one thing, the Tide had to overcome a bewildering rash of injuries and a November loss to Auburn. There also were the emotional swings of the title game, topped off by the iconic second-and-26 walk-off winner.
The end result was the same, though — a fifth national title in the past nine seasons — and the expectations remain, thanks to many of the players who were involved in the crucial moments of that wild night in Atlanta. Alabama will begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. And there’s a good chance the Tide will end the season in that spot as well.
It would be unreasonable to believe the Razorbacks could go from 1-7 in conference play to a contender in the SEC West in the course of one offseason. Quarterback play will likely go a long way in determining whether the offense builds up steam in coach Chad Morris’ debut. And the defense — which gave up a staggering 7.1 yards per play in SEC games — needs major help at all three levels. The debut of Morris should provide some splash and dash, but the Razorbacks need a further injection of speed and depth across the board to make a significant move in the brutal SEC West.
Gus Malzahn faces some lofty expectations. The Tigers’ sixth-year head coach just signed a seven-year contract extension for $49 million, with $36.75 million guaranteed, after a 10–4 season in which he won the SEC West and defeated both National Championship Game participants (Alabama and Georgia). Now, though, many fans will define an Auburn season as a success or failure based on whether it defeats those two rivals, and the Tigers must do so on the road in 2018. Good luck, Gus.
LSU’s schedule isn’t conducive to finding a path back into the SEC’s upper echelon. The Tigers will face two teams that played in the College Football Playoff (Alabama and Georgia) and two teams that played in New Year’s Six bowls (Auburn and Miami). Add games at home with Mississippi State and at Texas A&M, and it’s difficult to picture the Tigers being able to challenge for SEC West supremacy. The key for coach Ed Orgeron is not to slip so far that he’s facing a must-win-big scenario in 2019 to keep his job.
When Dan Mullen left Mississippi State after nine seasons to return to Florida, the school elected to go outside of the SEC and hire Joe Moorhead as coach. There’s some risk there (mostly related to recruiting), but the hire was hailed by outside observers, and 2018 could prove why immediately. Mississippi State lost very little of consequence from its 2017 team, and despite a fairly challenging schedule, there’s reason for optimism in Starkville. Eight wins are expected, and some believe that this could be a 10-win team with the right breaks.
Coach Matt Luke led the Rebels to a 6-6 mark in a tumultuous 2017 that included the cloud of the NCAA investigation hovering above. His candidacy for the full-time job was not looking strong until the Rebels won three of their last four games, including a 31-28 upset at No. 16 Mississippi State.
Barring a reprieve, Ole Miss is banned from a bowl game for the second straight season. The Rebels have enough firepower on offense to pose some serious problems, but they will need to show significant improvement on defense — most notably against the run — to reach the six-win mark again.
Weary from four consecutive seasons with eight wins or fewer, A&M pulled off a major coup and lured Coach Jimbo Fisher to College Station. The Aggies have bet $75 million over 10 years that Fisher can duplicate the success he had at Florida State, where he won the 2013 national championship. Fisher inherits 15 returning starters and some top-flight talent. But the Aggies have lacked the physicality and depth to compete for championships in the rugged SEC. If significant strides are made in those areas, A&M could make a run at exceeding the eight-win plateau. Competing immediately for an SEC championship may be asking for too much too soon.
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March Madness Round 64 Preview
St. Bonaventure vs. Florida
Sixth-seeded Florida hopes to find the best version of itself when it begins play in the NCAA Tournament against No. 11 seed St. Bonaventure in the first round of the East Region on Thursday in Dallas. The Gators owns impressive victories over Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Kentucky (two) and Auburn, but dropped five of their last eight games against non-NCAA teams before falling in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals against Arkansas.
“We have competitors, there’s no doubt about that. We see that every day at practice,” Florida senior guard Igor Koulechov told Floridagators.com. “Where we’re lacking sometimes is with our emotion.” As Koulechov said, it’s back to the rollercoaster for the Gators as they try to put strong performances on both sides of the floor together and make a run with a capable group that boasts four players averaging at least 11 points. St. Bonaventure will create quite a challenge after the Bonnies knocked off UCLA 65-58 on Tuesday in the First Four at Dayton, Ohio, for its school-record 26th win and first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970. St. Bonaventure advanced without big nights from its leading scorers – senior guards Jaylen Adams (19.4) and Matt Mobley (18.4), who finished with 22 points combined against the Bruins.
TV: 9:57 p.m. ET, truTV
ABOUT ST. BONAVENTURE (26-17): Mobley recorded 14 points Tuesday, but was 2-for-7 from 3-point range and 4-for-12 overall, while Adams missed 14 of his 16 field goals attempts and all five of his tries from behind the arc. Courtney Stockard (13.3 points) stepped up by scoring 26 and is averaging 23.8 over the last five contests, but the 6-5 junior lauded the team’s defense Tuesday. “We played the same defense all year,” Stockard told reporters. “UCLA is a good offensive team, high-scoring team. But. … we did a good job taking away their knowns, making them take contested shots.”
ABOUT FLORIDA (20-12): The Gators got hammered on the boards against Arkansas 43-28 and shot 41.7 percent from the field after winning the final three regular-season games in impressive fashion. Junior guard Jalen Hudson (15.3 points) scored 22.7 per game during those wins, but went 2-for-9 from the field against Arkansas while Koulechov (13.6 points) missed nine of 11 shots from the floor against the Razorbacks. Junior guard KeVaughn Allen (11.3) is averaging 14.8 points over the last four contests and experienced senior point guard Chris Chiozza (11.2 points, team-high 6.1 assists) runs the show.
1. The Gators have played at least four games each of the last five times they reached the NCAA Tournament.
2. Adams went over 1,900 points (1,901) in his career last time out and is 12 assists shy of 600.
3. Koulechov has shot 20 percent or worse from the field in three of his last five contests.
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NCAA Football 2017-18 Season
SEC East Preview
It’s a tight battle at the top of the SEC East Division between Georgia and Florida. The Bulldogs get the nod over the Gators thanks to 11 returning starters on defense, and the emergence of quarterback Jacob Eason. However, the addition of quarterback Malik Zaire as a graduate transfer should provide a boost under center for Gators coach Jim McElwain. Outside of the top contenders, South Carolina and Kentucky headline some of the dark horse teams to watch in 2017. The new season of fantasy college football kicks off Saturday August 26 at FanPicks.
Tennessee needs to find a competent quarterback and develop playmakers if it’s to compete for an SEC East Division crown. The schedule is unforgiving, with road trips to Florida and Alabama and a November visit from LSU. The Vols defense and special teams are solid, but ultimately Tennessee will only go as far as their new quarterbacks can take them.
Two trips to Atlanta for the SEC title game are an impressive start to head coach Jim McElwain’s regime. The next step will be more difficult. The 55-year-old coach will get a feel for his Gators quickly. Florida opens 2017 against Michigan in AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys. Tennessee visits on Week 3 to begin a stretch of five SEC games, including visits from LSU and Texas A&M.
McElwain is just 3–7 against ranked opponents. That will have to change, or 2017 could be a step back for his program.
If the defense plays up to its potential, and the offense and special teams improve even a little, Georgia has a very good chance to win its first SEC East title in five years. There’s a chance to go even further, depending on how quickly the young talent develops, and how Kirby Smart improves as a head coach. And there’s also a chance to disappoint, which Georgia has tended to do lately.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Will Muschamp and his coaching staff took over a roster so depleted that some of the struggles of the 2016 season — such as an offense that finished last in the SEC in scoring with 20.8 points per game — can hardly be held against them. It’s a different story in Year 2. The Gamecocks should build on the offensive momentum established with QB Jake Bentley at the helm in the last half of 2016, but Muschamp’s defensive acumen will be tested by this year’s thin group.
The schedule starts out with a toss-up game against NC State that could set the tone, and there are another half-dozen games on the schedule that could go either way. How South Carolina fares in those will determine whether the Gamecocks are able to make a move in the SEC East standings.
Kentucky ended its six-year bowl drought last season with a bid to the TaxSlayer Bowl, and with the bulk of its offense and defense returning the Wildcats seem poised for a special season by the program’s middling historic standards. If quarterback Stephen Johnson can build on the momentum of his outstanding performance in the upset of Louisville in the 2016 regular-season finale, there’s plenty of talent around him for the offense to make up for some of the defense’s deficiencies. If the defense improves as well, the Wildcats could be a dark horse candidate in the SEC East race.
Perhaps no program changed its trajectory in the final two weeks of the 2016 regular season more than Vanderbilt. Double-digit wins over Ole Miss and Tennessee sent the Commodores to a bowl game for the first time under Derek Mason tenure as head coach. Vanderbilt showed tangible signs that the program was headed in the right direction. Sustaining success has always been difficult for them, but Mason has a veteran team — 20 of the projected 22 starters are in at least their third year in the program — that should remain competitive. If the offense continues to progress, Vanderbilt is likely to make another trip to the postseason.
Missouri games were more high-scoring in 2016, and that was only partially good. The Tigers were better statistically but won one fewer game. Finishing the season with two conference wins in three tries gave the fan base a jolt of optimism, but while a seasoned offense seems to have a high ceiling, the defense has far more questions to answer than it did 12 months ago.
Sweet Sixteen Day Two
Friday CBB Rundown
Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Friday College Basketball matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!
No 4 Butler Bulldogs (25-8) vs No 1 North Carolina Tar Heel (29-7)
The Bulldogs have been crisp on offense in the tournament, shooting 50 percent overall and 47 percent from 3-point range, with Memphis transfer Avery Woodson (8.9 points) going 8-of-14 from behind the arc. The Tar Heels nearly met their match with Arkansas’ frenetic style of play, but their up-tempo game should match up better against the Bulldogs.
No 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (24-10) vs No 3 Baylor Bears (27-7)
This marks the fourth time in 14 seasons under Scott Drew that the Bears made it to the Sweet 16 and they’ve advanced to the Elite Eight twice with wins over Saint Mary’s in 2010 and Xavier in 2012 while losing to No. 2 seed Wisconsin in 2014. Seventh-seeded South Carolina takes part in the school’s first Sweet 16 under the current NCAA Tournament format. SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell was somewhat under the radar nationally until Sunday’s upset of Duke when the 6-5 senior guard filled up the stat sheet with 24 points, six rebounds and a team-high five assists as the Gamecocks exploded for 65 second-half points.
No 2 UCLA Bruins (31-4) vs No 3 Kentucky Wildcats (31-5)
Bruins freshman point guard Lonzo Ball had one of his most impressive performances of the season in the second round and should be motivated to play well against the freshman backcourt of Kentucky. Isaiah Briscoe is the third starting guard for the Wildcats and also has good size at 6-3, and is the best rebounder in the backcourt, posting four double-doubles this season and ranking second on the team at 5.4 rebounds. The Bruins need to decide who to put on Briscoe, and that could be Ball, who has the length at 6-6 to keep him off the glass.
No 8 Wisconsin Badgers (27-9) vs No 4 Florida Gators (26-8)
The Badgers have two key seniors with multiple Final Four experience in Koenig, who has drained 11 3-pointers en route to 45 points through two games of this event, and Nigel Hayes, who is averaging 17.5 points and nine boards through two NCAA contests. The Gators are 8-1 all-time in the Sweet 16 and have an excellent shot at improving that mark if Devin Robinson continues to shine.
SEC (24-8, 14-4)
by Joel Welser
Coach Michael White has used the experience on his roster to put Florida back in the NCAA Tournament. After winning a couple games in the NIT last season, the Gators are ready to try and make a run in the NCAAs and this team has the potential to do just that.
Big Wins: 12/29 at Arkansas (81-72), 2/4 Kentucky (88-66), 2/21 South Carolina (81-66)
Bad Losses: 12/6 vs Duke (74-84), 1/18 at South Carolina (53-57), 1/21 Vanderbilt (66-68)
Coach: Michael White
Why They Can Surprise:
Florida has toughness, experience and plenty of depth. KeVaughn Allen, Canyon Berry and Devin Robinson do much of the scoring. Allen leads the way with 13.9 points per game and is the team’s most prolific three-point shooter. Berry, a 6-6 wing, is a very effective all-around scorer off the bench. He can spark this offense and that is very important for a team that can struggle to consistently score points. Robinson is a big 6-8, 200 pound small forward who can shoot over smaller defenders and dribble around bigger opponents. With Kasey Hill getting the scorers the ball, the Gators have plenty of weapons.
Why They Can Disappoint:
However, those weapons are not always consistent when it comes to scoring, especially with the injury to center John Egbunu. This is a team that can have some very long scoring droughts and they must remember to continue to attack the basket instead of settling for tough outside shots. Coach White can deal with the inconsistent offense as long as the defensive intensity stays high. The strong defense allows the Gators to stay in the game even when the offense goes a few minutes without scoring. More importantly, Florida almost always gets an opportunity to shoot the ball. Thanks to Hill, the Gators rarely turn the ball over and that too makes a few missed shots much easier to swallow.
Kasey Hill, Senior, Guard, 9.8 ppg, 4.6 apg, 1.7 spg
KeVaughn Allen, Sophomore, Guard, 13.9 ppg, 1.4 apg
Devin Robinson, Junior, Forward, 10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg
Justin Leon, Senior, Forward, 7.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Kevarrius Hayes, Sophomore, Center, 6.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Key Role Players:
Canyon Barry, Senior, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Chris Chiozza, Junior, Guard, 6.9 ppg, 3.7 apg
Keith Stone, Freshman, Forward, 3.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.8 (57th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.4 (48, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.3 (127, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (35, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (133, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.6 (108, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.7 (97, 6)
Rebound Margin: 2.0 (116, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.8 (228, 10)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (67, 2)
Recent Postseason Appearances:
2016 NIT First Round win over North Florida
2016 NIT Second Round win over Ohio State
2016 NIT Quarterfinal loss to George Washington
2014 NCAA Round of 64 win over Albany
2014 NCAA Round of 32 win over Pittsburgh
2014 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over UCLA
2014 NCAA Regional Final win over Dayton
2014 NCAA National Semifinal loss to Connecticut
2013 NCAA Round of 64 win over Northwestern State
2013 NCAA Round of 32 win over Minnesota
2013 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Florida Gulf Coast
2013 NCAA Regional Final loss to Michigan
2012 NCAA Round of 64 win over Virginia
2012 NCAA Round of 32 win over Norfolk State
2012 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Marquette
2012 NCAA Regional Final loss to Louisville
2011 NCAA Round of 64 win over UC-Santa Barbara
2011 NCAA Round of 32 win over UCLA
2011 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over BYU
2011 NCAA Regional Final loss to Butler
2010 NCAA Round of 64 loss to BYU
2009 NIT First Round win over Jacksonville
2009 NIT Second Round win over Miami
2009 NIT Quarterfinal loss to Penn State
2008 NIT First Round win over San Diego State
2008 NIT Second Round win over Creighton
2008 NIT Quarterfinal win over Arizona State
2008 NIT Semifinal loss to Massachusetts
2007 NCAA Round of 64 win over Jackson State
2007 NCAA Round of 32 win over Purdue
2007 NCAA Regional Semifinal win over Butler
2007 NCAA National Semifinal win over UCLA
2007 NCAA National Final win over Ohio State
2007 NCAA Regional Final win over Oregon
*all team stats through 3/5
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SEC Championship Preview
Alabama Crimson Tide vs Florida Gators
Top-ranked Alabama has such a cushion in the College Football Playoff rankings that it will qualify for the four-team national championship competition even if it should lose to No. 16 Florida in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game at Atlanta (Enter Contest). Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban grows irate at such a suggestion and is fully focused on guiding the squad to its third consecutive conference crown.
Alabama, which has won 24 consecutive games, is the only undefeated team from a major conference and is considered a shoo-in to be part of the playoff. But it would still be huge upset if the Gators were to win the game. Coach Jim McElwain was a former Alabama offensive coordinator and a win against them would definitely taste good for him. This is the ninth time Alabama and Florida square off in the SEC title game. Both teams won four of the previous matchups.
ABOUT ALABAMA (12-0, 8-0 SEC)
Senior defensive end Jonathan Allen (seven sacks, two fumble return touchdowns) is the only defensive player among the five Walter Camp Player of the Year finalists and he is leader of a defense that ranks first nationally in scoring defense (11.4 points per game), total defense (246.8 yards per game) and rushing defense (68.7). Sophomore Marlon Humphrey (leg) is ailing but Saban feels he will recover in time to play, and the cornerback is a standout in a secondary that is receiving superb play from sophomore strong safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (team-high four interceptions). Senior outside linebacker’s Ryan Anderson (team-best 16 1/2) and Tim Williams (15) have combined for 31 1/2 tackles for losses. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts paces the offense by accounting for 32 total touchdowns (20 passing, 12 rushing) while passing for 2,425 yards and rushing for 840.
ABOUT FLORIDA (8-3, 6-2 SEC)
The Gators rank fifth in scoring defense (14.6) and sixth in total defense (291.9) but will be without six starters, including standouts such as senior linebacker Jarrad Davis (ankle), junior linebacker Alex Anzalone (arm), junior defensive end Jordan Sherit (knee) and senior safety Marcus Maye (arm). Sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio (shoulder) will be available only in an emergency so senior Austin Appleby (964 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions) will again be under center for an offense averaging just 16.3 points in his last three starts. Sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett has rushed for 778 yards and six touchdowns, while junior cornerback Teez Tabor has a team-best four interceptions. Wideout Antonio Callaway leads the squad with 43 receptions and 603 yards, but the second of his two receiving scores came on September 10th.
NCAA Preview 2016
NCAA Conference USA
The NCAA football season is near. Get ready to play CFB at FanPicks (click to play). With the impending kickoff in Sydney on August 26th, FanPicks will cover every NCAA conferences and their teams for the 2016 season. If you’ve missed the Big Ten West CFB preview, click here. Now let’s get to the NCAA Conference USA.
Western Kentucky enters the season as defending Conference USA champions as they defeated Southern Miss in the previous year’s championship game. The Hilltoppers would then go on to defeat South Florida in the Miami Beach Bowl 45–35. This season, Middle Tennessee is the early favorite to finish first in the East divison standings. While in the West, Southern Miss have taken the media prediction to repeat atop the standings for a second year in a row.
There will be a quarterback battle at Charlotte. Lee McNeill tossed one TD and 10 INTs, then was pulled for Brooks Barden (four TDs, five picks) last year. They’ll be pushed by transfers Hasaan Klugh (NC A&T), Cody Keith (ECU) and former four-star recruit Kevin Olsen (Miami).
FIU begins its 15th season of football when the Panthers start fall camp Wednesday morning. Coming off a 5-7 season, FIU features an experienced offense this season that looks to build on 2015.
FAU has experienced wide receivers, none of whom has emerged as a star. They all possess varied and often impressive skills sets. The biggest question the Owls hope to answer in the coming weeks is whether new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offense exploits the explosiveness of this unit while also helping it develop consistency.
Wide receiver Trent Taylor hauled in 99 passes for 1,282 yards last season, the league’s fourth most. He caught 75.6 percent of all targets. He should be one to watch again this year.
The Herd’s offensive production declined in 2015, small surprise considering record-breaking QB Rakeem Cato was supplanted by a true freshman, Chase Litton. But now that Litton is a year older, and maturing, Marshall expects to rise back to the top of the Conference USA scoring charts.
Coach Rick Stockstill’s son, QB Brent Stockstill, was the only freshman in the country to throw for 4,000 yards, and his 77.7 QBR was the nation’s 19th best. He threw 30 TDs to 9 INTs and had 66 completions for 20 or more yards.
Alabama former backup quarterback Alec Morris has transferred to North Texas, where he will be eligible to play immediately for new coach Seth Littrell. Morris was the third-string quarterback and appeared in seven games the past two seasons for the Crimson Tide, who won the national championship earlier this month. As a graduate student, he can play next season as a senior at North Texas.
Shuler Bentley started at quarterback as a freshman only to be replaced by ex-WR David Washington, who then tore his ACL in November. Washington should be at full strength by August, so like the fast-paced offense, the position is wide open.
Last season, Rice University went 5-7 overall under tenth year head coach David Bailiff. Running back Darik Dillard should provide big numbers this year. When healthy, he can be an effective back for the Owls offense.
Last season, only five NCAA players threw more yards than quarterback Nick Mullen’s 4,476, while just three topped his 38 TDs. Should I say more?
The UTEP offense is always going to be conservative and run-oriented under coach Sean Kugler, but after a season of struggles at the quarterback position and a general lack of production overall, Kugler brought in a new coordinator in Brent Pease to liven things up.
Running Back Jarveon Williams was the most prominent piece in the offense last year, gaining 1,042 rushing yards without a fumble. Only three Conference USA backs averaged more than his 6.0 yards per carry.
Wide receiver Taywan Taylor caught 86 passes for 1,467 yards last year, which topped the Conference USA and stood third in the FBS. His 17 TD catches was second nationally.
CFB 2016 Other Previews
PGA TOUR Honda Classic Trust Open
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf preview
The PGA Tour will begin its Florida swing this week at the Honda Classic, hosted at the PGA National. This PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf preview is brought you by Fanpicks. Come play some Daily Fantasy Golf and Win great prizes on Fanpicks.com.
This star studded event will be headlined by the likes of Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and many more.
Defending champion Padraig Harrington and his sudden-death playoff rival Daniel Berger will be there also.
With the conclusion of the Northern Trust Open, and the Masters approaching in early April, we can expect some exceptional golfing from the players this weekend.
This special venue was redesigned a little over a decade ago by Jack Nicklaus and is home to the infamous Bear Trap, the trio of holes # 15, 16 and 17. They’re known to be fairly tough holes usually decimating competitors’ scorecards. The holes in questions are full of water hazards and sharp edges, always certainly leaving a handful of players shaking their heads and disappointed. It appears that sicne 2007, the mean stretch accounts for 40 % of all the triple bogeys and 33 % of the double bogeys.
The top 2 ranked players on the TOUR, Jordan Spieth and Jason day will be absent.
2012 champion and former # 1 golfer Rory McIlroy is expected to have a great tournament despite his fallout in the last round at the Northern Trust Open, ironically, exactly what happened last year at the PGA National when his wire to wire victory slept away from him after 3 rounds. Fantasy Golf owners should expect his value to lower making him a great pick. He’s on a 3 straight top 6 finish run and will be hoping to close the deal this time.
Surprisingly, Patrick Reed’s accuracy off the tee and experience on this course may help him have an edge on his peers this weekend.
Finally, Rickie Fowler will also be a DFS favourite to watch, with already 3 top 5 finishes this season.
Penguins vs Panthers Fantasy Hockey Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins (28-19-7) at Florida Panthers (32-18-6) (7:30 pm EST)
An exciting matchup is on tap for all you fantasy hockey fans out there.
While Jaromir Jagr turns 44 years old today, the rest of his Panthers teammates are barely legal. Franchise defenseman Aaron Ekblad was born on the same day Jagr scored his 200th NHL goal. Yes, you read that correctly. Ekblad just turned 20 on Super Bowl Sunday, while his legendary teammate will be facing off against a team he spent half a decade breaking records for.
The Panthers and Penguins will battle for precious points as the Eastern Conference playoff races start to heat up.
Pittsburgh needs the points worse than they’d like to admit, while Florida are sitting pretty near the top of the standings, but home-ice advantage in the playoffs is huge. Especially for such an inexperienced team like the Panthers.
Sidney Crosby has cooled off from his ridiculous recent pace, Kris Letang as well, while Evgeni Malkin is close- but not quite there yet as he works to return from injury.
Sid the (former) Kid will need to bring his A-game to defeat the youthful Miami kids tonight, which shouldn’t be as tough with All-Star Roberto Luongo sitting this one out while Al Montoya takes to the blue paint.
The incumbent Marc-Andre Fleury starts for Pittsburgh, and he will need to make some big saves on these skills cats in order to keep his Penguins afloat.
The Panthers have done some line juggling due to the injury of star center Alex Barkov. Jagr will not play with regular Jonathan Huberdeau, instead he will play next to Vincent Trocheck and either Brandon Pirri (if he plays – injury) or Reilly Smith…both pure snipers.
It will be a good one in Sunrise, Fla tonight as the puck drops at 7:30pm EST.
Fanpicks.com College Football Bowl Game Preview
BUFFALO WILD WINGS CITRUS BOWL
Michigan vs. Florida
Fanpicks.com is proud to bring you the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl game preview featuring Michigan against Florida. Talk about excitement, these two teams will certainly play their hearts out in a very close game which will be won by Michigan 21-20 over Florida. Play the best fantasy college football contests at Fanpicks.com.
Florida coach Jim McElwain and Michigan counterpart Jim Harbaugh resurrected dormant programs in their first year on the sidelines and look to cap off encouraging campaigns with a victory when the Gators and Wolverines meet in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1. McElwain led Florida to the SEC Eastern Division title before losing 29-15 to College Football Playoff participant Alabama in the SEC championship game, while Harbaugh had Michigan in contention for the Big Ten East Division crown heading into the final week of the regular season. Defense has been the catalyst for the dramatic turnaround for both teams as the Gators rank eighth nationally in scoring defense (16.4 points per game) while the Wolverines are fourth in total defense (281.3 yards).
Florida’s offense has sputtered without suspended quarterback Will Grier as the Gators were held to 17 points in their last two games, and couldn’t manage an offensive score in the 27-2 setback to Florida State on Nov. 28. Michigan’s Jake Rudock suffered a shoulder injury in the 42-13 loss to Ohio State, and it was initially feared that he would miss the bowl game, but the senior quarterback will make his final collegiate start on New Year’s Day. Rudock struggled with the command of a new offense after transferring from Iowa before ending the season on a tear by throwing for 1,296 yards and 11 touchdowns in his last four games.
The Wolverines and Gators have meet twice previously in the postseason with Michigan emerging 38-30 victors in the 2003 Outback Bowl before downing Florida 41-35 in Lloyd Carr’s final game as coach in the 2008 Capital One Bowl. The Gators last met a Big Ten team in 2012 when they beat Ohio State in the Gator Bowl and McElwain, who is one of six finalists for the Dodd Trophy – awarded to the top coach in the country – is keen to lead Florida to its third straight win over a Big Ten opponent. “We’re here to win a ballgame,” McElwain told reporters. “We aren’t here just to go on rides.”
MICHIGAN Season Overview (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten): Jake Butt and Jourdan Lewis announced they will return for the senior seasons after the junior tight end caught 48 passes for 620 yards and three touchdowns, while the junior cornerback was ranked third nationally with 19 pass breakups. Safety Jabrill Peppers (two rushing touchdowns, eight receptions), who won the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award after making an impact as a three-way player, could miss the bowl game after suffering a suspected hand injury. “He’s working through something,” Harbaugh told reporters. “We’ll see.”
FLORIDA Season Overview (10-3, 7-1 SEC): Starting quarterback Treon Harris has struggled to move the ball through the air and has failed to throw for 200 yards in each of his last three games. Vernon Hargreaves III, who is the Gators’ first unanimous All-America pick since 2009, will likely play his last game as the junior cornerback is considered a surefire first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Defensive end Alex McCalister has been sidelined with a foot injury since Nov. 15 and will likely miss the game while wide receiver Brandon Powell is questionable because of a foot problem.