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Can't miss college football games of 2017

LOOK: Tennessee trolls Lane Kiffin with one-word tweet to Daniel Tosh

http://www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/look-tennessee-trolls-lane-kiffin-with-one-word-tweet-to-daniel-tosh/

Pick 6: Rhule, Herman among new coaches facing scrutiny

http://collegefootball.ap.org/article/pick-6-rhule-herman-among-new-coaches-facing-scrutiny

The Honey Bun surprise: How JaTarvious Whitlow signed with Auburn

http://www.espn.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/127324/the-honey-bun-surprise-how-jatarvious-whitlow-signed-with-auburn

Michigan State police submits requests for arrest warrants in sexual assault investigation

http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/18696990/michigan-state-university-police-submits-requests-arrest-warrants-sexual-assault-investigation

Ace recruiter Dameyune Craig seeking OC title, not expected to join Oregon’s staff

http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2017/2/16/14544948/dameyune-craig-oregon-coach-willie-taggart

Blake Barnett upset Nick Saban gave him a ‘negative reputation’ at Alabama

http://www.sportingnews.com/ncaa-football/news/blake-barnett-nick-saban-alabama-football-arizona-state/803wk1k1ryf1lwzrb2p3rto3

Louisiana HSFB Coach Bans Alabama from Campus, Says School is Not Ethical

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2693160-louisiana-hsfb-coach-bans-alabama-from-campus-says-school-is-not-ethical

Disney CEO: ESPN and ABC will look at limiting the number of commercial breaks

http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2017/2/15/14632626/espn-abc-less-commercials-college-football

How first-year head coaches fared on National Signing Day

http://www.si.com/college-football/2017/02/02/national-signing-day-new-coaches-recruiting-rankings

Ex-Baylor associate AD won’t be indicted for alleged postgame assault of reporter

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/grand-jury-wont-indict-baylor-associate-ad-heath-nielsen-for-alleged-assault-of-reporter-230508547.html

Let’s Go Bowling

In this week’s issue of The Kickoff, we list all of the major bowls scheduled between now and the VCFP National Championship Game on January 11. We’ve also listed the 2015 College Football Award Winners.

After the end of the regular season, our Top 25 is topped by Clemson, still undefeated at 13-0 and set to play our #3 Oklahoma in the Capitol One Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal at 4 pm on New Year’s Eve. Alabama in second place is set to play our #4 pick, Michigan State, in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at 8 pm on New Year’s Eve. The winners of those games will meet up on January 11 at 8:30 pm in Glendale, AZ.

At this stage, our Power Ratings give Clemson the edge over Oklahoma and Alabama over Michigan State. It will be interesting to see which two teams survive elimination. Those who do not like one conference dominating the country should like seeing teams from the ACC, SEC, Big 12, and Big 10 all found in the Playoff finals. The SEC still leads the nation with 14 teams winning 102 games or a winning percentage of 0.604. The PAC-12 follows with 12 teams with 84 wins.

This year is perhaps most notable because of the sheer volume of teams playing beyond the regular season. We’ll see nine teams from the ACC, eight from the AAC, six from Mid-American, six from MT West, 10 from the Big 10, 10 from the SEC, nine from the PAC12, seven from the Big 12, five from Conference USA, and four from the Sun Belt in post-season play.

“This number of teams in bowls should make a lot of fans happy and really pleases the coaches because it means many more practice days for teams going to bowls,” said Bert Caldwell, one of the owners of The Kickoff. “Like a mini-spring practice.”

Some have questioned whether teams with losing records should make bowl appearances. Minnesota, for example, has a record of 5-7, yet it will play the 7-5 Central Michigan Chippewas in the Dec. 28 Quick Lane Bowl. Two teams from the same conference, Nevada (6-6) and Colorado State (7-5), are playing each other in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29. Auburn, which began the season picked by many to be in the College Football Playoff finals right now, finished their season 6-6 and will play a 9-3 Memphis team that is favored in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 30.

In the latest issue of The Kickoff, we include our Pre-Bowl Kickoff Power Ratings, as well as the 2015 Kickoff All American Team and a listing of bowl game payouts by event.

It’s been a huge year for Alabama’s Derrick Henry, who was named recipient of the Heisman, Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Doak Walker awards. We list all of the major college football award winners in the latest issue of The Kickoff. Henry was deemed by Vegas to have a 16/1 chance of winning the Heisman (compared to 10/1 for Jeremy Johnson who didn’t even play every game as a starter). Trevone Boykin, the presumed frontrunner back in July, did not win any of the major awards. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney won the Home Depot Coach of the Year award for taking his team to 13-0.

Speaking of coaches, last week we looked at the coaching carousel. Bowling Green, Brigham Young, East Carolina, La-Monroe, and Tulane are all searching for new coaches while other teams must replace coordinators who’ve moved up the ladder. Alabama has hired Jeremy Pruitt away from Georgia after Mark Richt’s move to Miami and Kirby Smart coming in as the Bulldogs’ new coach. We’ll see the ripple effects from the changes being made well into spring practice and beyond.

If you subscribe to The Kickoff, you have a powerful resource at your fingertips for making your weekly picks. To order our new Basketball newsletter, The Tipoff, call us at (423) 267-0953.

If football is still more your bag, you can get the jump on 2016 with The Kickoff’s Earlybird Special for the holidays. For that relative who can’t get enough of the game, you can buy him (or her) an annual email/PDF subscription, which includes six pre-season issues and 17 weekly issues next fall – and you’ll get an email/PDF version for yourself or someone else at no additional charge! The cost is just $28 for 23 printed issues in the Email/PDF version.

As one of the most accurate prognosticators since 1951, The Kickoff is the perfect gift for someone who loves college football as much as you do! Visit http://thekickoffstore.com/product/buy-one-get-one-free/ to get the Holiday Special.

“The 65th anniversary for The Kickoff has been the most successful in our tenure so far,” said editor Tommy Duff. “It means so much to be able to share each college football season with each and every one of our readers. We strive to make the best improvements each year to enhance their Saturdays in the fall and look forward to spending 2016 with them.”

Don’t forget to sign up for our Ultimate Tailgater Giveaway of a YETI Cooler (valued at $299.99): http://thekickoffstore.com/ultimate-tailgater-giveaway/ – We’ve upgraded the prize! Hurry, time is running out to enter.

Week 4 Top 25 Reflects Teams on the Move

2016 college football

olemissAs we enter week 4 of the college football season, we’re seeing major disruption in The Kickoff Top 25.

After being upset last week by Ole Miss, who we had ranked at No. 15, Alabama slipped from No. 3 on the Kickoff Top 25 all the way to No. 12 (The AP poll now has Ole Miss ranked third behind Ohio State and Michigan State, while the Crimson Tide is also ranked No. 12 there).

Last week’s No. 13 team, Auburn, dropped out of our Top 25 altogether after losing so badly to LSU, 46-21, that Coach Gus Malzahn benched his quarterback (a pre-season Heisman candidate) this week in favor of a freshman who has never played a game at the college level but will have to rise to the challenge as the team that LSU beat by 2 points in week 2, Mississippi State, comes calling. Auburn dropped out of the AP Top 25 completely but hung on to No. 25 in the Coaches’ Poll. A mighty fall for a team that many predicted in the pre-season would earn a spot in the playoffs.

The win in Baton Rouge shot LSU from No. 11 to No. 4. AP has the Tigers ranked at No. 8. They play Syracuse on Saturday. RB Leonard Fournette was one of our superlatives this week, as he had 19 carries for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns versus Auburn, fueling LSU as the hottest team in the SEC.

While Auburn and Alabama fans are in shock, at least they did not fall as hard as USC, which has vanished from the Top 25 after losing 41-31 to then-unranked Stanford (USC was our No. 6 last week; Stanford is No. 21 on AP’s poll, No. 25 on ours). Other shocking upsets last week: UCF lost to Furman, Arkansas fell to Texas Tech, Iowa State lost to Toledo, and Colorado bested Colorado State.

Power ratings aside, Georgia has replaced Alabama and Auburn as the SEC teams most likely to be Top 4 Seeds from the Playoff committee, along with Ohio State, TCU and Notre Dame. Our pick of the first 4 out? Probably UCLA, Michigan State, FSU and LSU.

In terms of conferences, the Big 12 leads with the highest percentage of wins, followed by the Pac-12. The SEC comes in third, then the ACC, Big 10, American, Independent, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt, and MWC.

TCU and Ohio State swapped places on our Top 25 this week as the Horned Frogs edge the Buckeyes on our Power Ratings. Georgia Tech fell from No. 9 to No. 19 in our Top 25, while Oregon, Oklahoma, FSU, Arizona, Utah, and Wisconsin are all on the upswing.

Our No. 14 team, Oregon, plays our No. 18 team, Utah, is one of our Kickoff Games of the Week. Oregon leads the series 20-8, including last year’s 51-27 rout. We’re picking them to repeat again on Saturday. Our other game of the week features two teams that have struggled in recent years but are rebuilding, Tennessee at Florida. We’re picking the 3-0 Gators to win in what might be a close one. They lead the series 25-19 over the Vols and narrowly edge them in our Power Ratings, so it should be a pretty good game with both teams about even.

In our most recent edition of The Kickoff, published Sept. 21st, we have news and notes, a listing of the 78 most highly paid coaches in college football, complete FBS and select FCS schedules and results thus far in the season, our Kickoff Top 25, information on those games of the week, our Kickoff Playoff Seeds, information about the “targeting” rule (which we’ve seen applied in some games this year), and, of course, our Kickoff Power Ratings with the teams playing this week, along with our picks to win, comparative ratings, and last year’s score so you have the data you need at a glance to make your selections in your office pool.

To subscribe, visit http://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/ . You’ll get all of our issues so far in the season and a new newsletter each Monday (email/PDF subscribers only, during the week for first-class mail subscribers to our printed edition). For a limited time, when you subscribe to our email/PDF version for just $20, you can sign up a friend to receive The Kickoff in his or her email inbox for FREE. What a great buddy that would make you!

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Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown questions. We’ll see whether we can stump you (no cheating).

Talk to us this weekend while we watch the games. Which upsets are you expecting? How is your team doing so far this year? Sound off! Use the hashtag #thekickoff on Facebook and Twitter so we can follow your conversations.

Enjoy this weekend’s games. We’ll be watching alongside you.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Week 3 Preview: An Infamous Rivalry Revived and an SEC Showdown

alabama-vs-ole-miss-its-black-bear-season-L-kGkseMIt’s already Week 3 of the College Football season with some great games ahead this weekend. The Kickoff Games of the Week are Georgia Tech at Notre Dame and Ole Miss at Alabama.

The Yellow Jackets enter the game ranked at No. 9 on the Kickoff Top 25 this week, jumping two spots from last week. The Fighting Irish, right behind them on our rankings, lead the series 27-6-1, including a 15-3 record when hosting. The teams are meeting as part of a deal with the Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference. This has been a heated rivalry over the years with Tech fans pelting visiting fans with fish during the sixties and seventies, as portrayed in the movie Rudy. Their last meeting was in 2007. It will be fun watching them battle it out again.

After beating Wisconsin and MTSU, the Crimson Tide (ranked No. 3) continues to look strong as they enter Conference play against the Rebels, who won their last two games 76-3 and 73-21 versus Tennessee Martin and Fresno State, earning a No. 15 rating on our Top 25. Without about 3.2 points difference on our Power Ratings, we expect Alabama to win this one. The Tide has history on their side, leading the series 24-1 when hosting Ole Miss and 48-8-2 overall since 1907. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelley was one of our superlatives for his performance last week as he went 19-24 for 360 yards and four touchdowns.

Bama’s bitter rival, Auburn, tumbled 10 spots in our Top 25 after struggling to beat FCS opponent Jacksonville State in overtime at home last weekend. We were as guilty as anyone for buying into the pre-season hype about the Tigers and Quarterback Jeremy Johnson as Playoff and Heisman contenders. Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge was supposed to be one of the better games all year, but we expect LSU (now ahead of Auburn on our Top 25 at No. 11) to have vengeance on their minds after seeing Auburn’s struggles so far and remembering the 41-7 loss last year in Jordan-Hare. Whether it’s a close game depends on if Auburn took last week’s humiliating near-loss as a wakeup call. Will Muschamp will have to figure out how to stop Leonard Fournette, who had 28 carries last week for 159 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 1 Ohio State should have no problem putting away Northern Illinois. Same with our No. 2, TCU, as they host SMU. Michigan State jumped 3 spots in our Top 25 to No. 4 after upsetting Oregon, which fell from No. 6 to No. 16 (the Spartans play Air Force while the Ducks will take out their frustration on Georgia State). Baylor remains at No. 5, followed by USC, Georgia, and Clemson (who play Rice, Stanford, South Carolina, and Louisville respectively). Louisville, by the way, is 0-2 for the first time since 1998 after being upset by Houston 34-31 last week.

Tennessee dropped out of the Kickoff Top 25 while Oklahoma jumped from No. 21 to No. 17; the Sooners showed a lot of determination last week in a hostile environment, beating the Vols 31-24. Last week’s No. 16, Boise State, also leaves the Top 25 after losing to No. 18 BYU 35-24. The same can be said for last week’s No. 22 Arkansas, now 1-1; the Razorbacks were expected to be much better than Toledo. Texas A&M joins the Top 25 at No. 21 after defeating Ball State 56-23 while Arizona State enters at No. 25 after beating Cal Poly 35-21.

In this week’s issue, we shared the Conference Breakdown through week three, ranking on home attendance last season, the largest attendance increases from 2013-14, the Football Bowl Subdivision Standings, the Football Championship Series standings, our Kickoff Playoff Seeds (including the first four projected out), our Power Ratings for this week’s games, and the schedules and results for every FBS team (and select Division I FCS schools).

When you subscribe to The Kickoff newsletter, you get all of this information delivered to your email inbox on Monday mornings or a printed version delivered to a physical inbox during the week.  To learn more about what you get, visit http://thekickoffstore.com/the-newsletter/ and to subscribe, visit http://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/

For a limited time, we’ve extended our special so that when you buy one First Class or PDF subscription to The Kickoff, you can get one FREE PDF subscription to give a friend. If you are a business owner looking for a great way to keep yourself in front of your customers, check out our business subscriptions at http://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/business/

Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown questions. We’ll see whether we can stump you (using Google to look up the answer is like under-inflating a ball to win a playoff game, but we don’t have access to your search history – thank goodness for that!)

Talk to us this weekend while we watch the games. Which upsets are you expecting? How is your team doing so far this year? Sound off! Use the hashtag #thekickoff on Facebook and Twitter so we can follow your conversations.

Written by Steven Stiefel

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