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Issue One with The Kickoff’s Preseason Picks to Publish August 27th

The Kickoff college football newsletter is putting the final touches on our first issue of the 2018 season. We’ll be emailing Issue 1 to PDF subscribers this coming Monday, August 27th ahead of the Week One games.

The issue includes our Preseason Top 50, which differs from the first AP Top 25 Poll released on August 20th. We agree that Alabama, Clemson and Georgia appear well positioned for continued success this season.

Ohio State’s position on the Kickoff Preseason Poll was unsettled amidst the controversy over Coach Urban Meyer’s future with the Buckeyes following a domestic abuse scandal with one of his staff coaches. The school suspended Meyer for the first three games of the season about to begin. AP’s initial poll had them ranked #5. Kickoff Editor Tommy Duff said the rankings beyond the top 3 could still change beyond the initial picks before Issue 1 goes out to readers on August 27th if the situation develops further.

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The Kickoff College Football Bowl Preview

2016 college football

It’s time for teams to go bowling. We’re already in the thick of the bowl schedule as it all builds to the New Year’s Day matchups. The Kickoff will publish our wrap up issue on January 10th, but Editor Tommy Duff shared some thoughts ahead of that.

“The most interesting matchup that is not in the College Football Playoff is USC vs. Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29th,” Duff said. “OSU feels like they deserved to be in the playoff, but USC has just as strong of an argument, also going 11-2 during the regular season, and they lost against a stronger team than Iowa.”

Boise State, Troy, Georgia State, Marshall, and Middle Tennessee have all won their bowls so far and are looking ahead to next season. The Kickoff listed the complete bowl schedule (with our Kickoff Power Rankings) in Issue 16, out Dec. 11th.

Duff said the post-season is generally more difficult to predict this year.

“The Orange Bowl Winner will be whoever has any motivation left between Miami and Wisconsin. (They are) two teams in playoff contention all year that fell apart in the final week,” Duff said. “I think Auburn should win against UCF, which is losing their head coach. I expect LSU to win against Notre Dame, which is overmatched.”

“Regarding the College Football Playoffs, can a Big XII offense take care of business against a defense as talented as Georgia’s? I think they can, but UGA has the potential to give Baker Mayfield problems,” Duff said. “Of course, the marquee matchup is the third playoff meeting between Bama and Clemson. Clemson was playing better towards the end of the year, but Bama should be much healthier and is still the team to beat.”

If Georgia prevails in the Rose Bowl and Alabama beats Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, producing an All-SEC national championship game, Duff said experience points to Alabama winning. “If Oklahoma beats Georgia, then I think they will beat Bama,” he said.

In addition to winning the Heisman, Baker Mayfield led several of the stats this season, including percentage of completed passes, efficiency rating, total yards per play, and being responsible for touchdowns at 46. He was also named to the 2017 Kickoff All American team, along with Sooners Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, and Obgonnia Okoronkwo. These ingredients combine for a potent threat to Clemson defending its national title if the two teams should go head-to-head.

“As we close our 67th season in publication, we would like to thank all of our corporate and individual subscribers for continuing to support The Kickoff,” Duff said. “It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to share your excitement for the sport of college football every fall. College football is not only a game; it’s a cultural pastime shared throughout the United States, and we are truly blessed to spend Saturdays with you. We look forward to seeing you in 2018. We wish you a safe and happy holidays!”

To celebrate the holidays, The Kickoff is offering a special where readers can get 29 issues for the price of 23!

Take advantage of this special limited-time offer and you can begin receiving Email/PDF issues of our college football newsletter in February 2018 – then receive the 6 monthly issues we publish between February and July (covering recruiting, the NFL draft, spring practice, etc.), 17 weekly issues during the actual season and bowl games, PLUS an additional six issues – all for the price of a 23 issue regular subscription ($39.00) that normally only covers 12 months!

You can be all set with no need to renew your subscription until fall of 2019! This is a great deal, especially if you subscribed to the 17 weekly issues for 2017 and wish you could keep following the action.

That’s just slightly more than $2 a month to receive the kind of insight you’ve come to trust from The Kickoff for the next 18 months! You won’t find a better deal than this. It’s our way of saying Thank You and Merry Christmas.

This offer is available ONLY for our PDF/Email edition. Get it today for yourself or Gift it to a friend or family member this Christmas! This offer ends Dec. 31st.

UAB fans celebrate program’s return in spring scrimmage

UAB fans celebrate program’s return in spring scrimmage
Michigan St holds spring game under cloud of investigation
Oklahoma, Tennessee agree to matchups in 2020, 2024
The biggest workout warrior on every Way-Too-Early Top 25 football team
Can Las Vegas become a new destination in college football?
The ACC’s most versatile man, Derwin James, is back
How Michigan is working to replace Jabrill Peppers
Big Ten Backs Off Plan for Friday Football Games for Northwestern
QB Emory Jones ‘110 percent’ committed to Ohio State but visiting Southern powers
New Tennessee AD John Currie says Butch Jones ‘on the right trajectory’
Why 4-star Tyneil Hopper calls Auburn ‘a great fit’
4-star defensive line recruit Alfred Thomas has Georgia on top
2017 NFL mock draft: Big changes in the top 5
Six players with plenty to prove in spring practice

Hey, did you know The Kickoff has a Buy One Get One FREE Early Bird Special? This deal ENDS TODAY so Subscribe Now!

Photo by Steven Stiefel

Coaches’ Seats Getting Warmer in Texas, Oregon

Texas Longhorn footballThe coaching carousel is accelerating in college football.

LSU fired Les Miles in week four after starting the season 2-2, including a loss to an Auburn team that began the year 1-2 but has since prospered. Interim coach Ed Orgeron has helped the Tigers regain their confidence with wins, including a 38-21 win against Ole Miss, but the real test is Nov. 5th against Nick Saban and Alabama.

Tommy Duff, Editor of THE KICKOFF, said, “To be honest, I have no idea what will happen at LSU. They should hire Orgeron, but I don’t think the administration wants to. If they beat Florida, Arkansas, and A&M, I don’t see how they don’t hire him. They won’t beat Alabama. The school administration wants more of a marquee name for recruiting purposes. However, LSU recruits itself because of the large amount of in-state talent, so I personally don’t think it matters.”

The SEC West picture has gotten more interesting with the wins by LSU and Auburn, signaling to Bama that it will have to actually earn the West after putting away Texas A&M last week. Auburn thrashed Arkansas 56-3, yet Duff doesn’t think Gus Malzahn’s job is safe just yet despite the dramatic turnaround.  “It’s Auburn. He’ll never be completely off the hot seat there,” Duff said. “They better stick to a coach for a while. But they have roared back to life and into SEC West contention.”

Texas Coach Charlie Strong is all but gone after the Longhorns are struggling for a third straight season. “Strong’s gone. They’ll get (Tom) Herman from Houston,” Duff predicted. Texas lost to Kansas State last week while Houston lost to SMU. “All Strong can do is just keep working hard to try and salvage the season. Houston was the toast of the football world after week one, now they are a playoff afterthought.”

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick expressed “complete confidence” in Brian Kelly despite the Fighting Irish being 2-5 as they go into Saturday’s game against Miami. The Oregon Ducks are also floundering at 2-5 after a double overtime loss at California, but will Mark Helfrich have had enough recent success to avoid the hot seat after losing five in a row this season? Duff doesn’t think so if they continue to lose.

“Oregon will fire Helfrich,” he said. “Notre Dame won’t fire Kelly.”

In addition to Miles at LSU, Florida International fired Ron Turner after an 0-4 start and Darrell Hazell got canned at Purdue. Fresno State fired Tim DeRuyter after a 1-7 start to the season and a six-game losing streak. Going forward, besides Strong and Helfrich, Steve Addazio at Boston College (3-4), Georgia Tech’s (4-3) Paul Johnson and UCLA’s (3-5) Jim Morrow may all want to dust off their resumes. Duff said the injury to UCLA QB Josh Rosen has put the Bruins on the back foot.

No one is questioning the security of Urban Meyer’s job at Ohio State despite the Buckeyes falling to Penn State and tumbling from #2 to #6 in the AP Top 25 and #8 in the Coaches Poll. They fell from #2 to #9 on the Kickoff Top 25.

On the other side of football fortunes, Duff said #10 West Virginia and unranked Syracuse are trending up on the Kickoff Thermostat. “The Orange have their first back-to-back wins of the season (against then #17 Virginia Tech and Boston College), with one major upset while the undefeated Mountaineers look like a Big 12 Title contender.” Syracuse faces Clemson on Nov. 5th while West Virginia plays Oklahoma State this weekend.

Like everyone else, Duff’s eyes will be on these games and the huge contests ahead this week. The Kickoff’s Games of the Week are #3 Clemson at #12 Florida State, #14 Florida vs Georgia, and #7 Nebraska at #11 Wisconsin.

As we make our way through the second half of the season, The Kickoff continues to accept entries for the FANtastic Football Sweepstakes. On December 2nd, we’ll draw a random entry to win a 48-inch HDTV (retail value: $349.99). Weekly winners are also winning annual subscriptions to THE KICKOFF as well as Polar Bear Coolers. Make sure your name is in the hat: https://thekickoffstore.com/the-kickoffs-fantastic-football-sweepstakes/

First class printed editions of our newsletter are currently being prorated in price to reflect what’s left of the 2016 season so new subscribers can catch the action without having to pay for issues in past weeks so far. Learn more about options at https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/

Copyright: philipus / 123RF Stock Photo

Looking Beyond Spring Games in College Football

Longer days and rising temps mean it’s time for spring football. This is when we shake off the dust from the wreckage of last fall and renew our hopes that the forthcoming version of our school’s team is destined to become a great one.

In our March issue of the The Kickoff, we listed the schedule for spring games, as well as giving Editor Tommy Duff’s insight into the recruiting wars. As we approach the later half of April, most teams have already had those spring games with thousands of alumni and fans converging on campuses for a look at things to come.

All eyes will be on the Alabama Crimson Tide to see if Nick Saban’s crew can reload and take home yet another trophy. They recently signed four 5-star players, including 3 ranked in the Kickoff Top 30 and eight ranked in the top 10 at their respective position out of 24 total signees. The Tide returns 11 starters this fall and are given 19/4 odds of defending their national championship, according to Sportsbook.

“Really, you can close your eyes and put your finger on the page, and you will undoubtedly choose a potential headliner for this recruiting class,” Duff said. “Most impressive, however, was the number of highly touted LBs Saban signed, led by 5-star Ben Davis.”

Duff also had praise for the recruiting efforts of Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, Ole Miss, Georgia, Southern Cal, and Auburn. Rounding out our Top 20 were Texas, Tennessee, UCLA, Florida, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Texas A&M, and Baylor.

Duff said Clemson, which came within five points of a national championship earlier this year, looks to be fierce again with Deshaun Watson returning and new talent added. “Dabo and Co. signed 2 players ranked in our Top 30 and 8 players ranked in the top 10 at their position, including the #2 overall prospect DT Dexter Lawrence and the #1 overall RB Tavien Feaster. Lawrence was the #2 overall prospect and will provide immediate help on the Tigers’ DL. Feaster is an electric playmaker who could’ve gone anywhere in the country and competed for playing time.”

Sportsbook gave Clemson 15/2 odds of winning the CFP this coming season. They start the campaign Sept. 2nd on the road against Auburn, which endured a massively disappointing season in 2016 but should perform better with Coach Gus Malzahn on the hot seat, signing two players rated in the Kickoff’s Top 30.

“Auburn was one of the big Signing Day winners, having multiple players commit on live television, and none may have been bigger than 5 star DT Derrick Brown,” Duff said. “The #1 rated player from the state of Georgia, he picked the Tigers over UGA and Tennessee. Juco DT QB John Franklin is expected to step in and compete for the starting job. Franklin played for the Seminoles for a season before transferring and is considered an excellent run/pass option at the QB position.”

LSU also looks to win the SEC West. Duff said the Tigers would have finished even higher than #3 in its recruiting class if Les Miles had not been surprisingly forced to deal with questions about his job security last season. “Regardless, LSU signed two 5 stars in our top 30 and 10 players rated in the top 10 at their position. The biggest news for LSU’s class has got to be the DB haul Coach Miles signed,” Duff said.

This time last year, everyone expected Ohio State to compete for the CFP. Coach Urban Meyer has added several players expected to be solid contributors in the years ahead.

Look for Michigan to make waves with Jim Harbaugh’s first full signing class, which included the #1 ranked recruit DT Rashan Gary, RB Kareem Walker and WR Eddie McDoom.

The Ole Miss Rebels have to replace WR Laquan Treadwell and Laremy Tunsil, but they finished with the 7th rated class, with two players ranked in our Top 30, including the #3 overall prospect in OL Gregory Little.

Kirby Smart left Alabama to be head coach at Georgia, which pulled in 3 players in the Kickoff Top 30 and 5 players ranked at their position, including 4 wide receivers. Mark Richt, who left for Miami (FL), was undoubtedly disappointed when the Hurricanes lost two highly coveted prospects to Tennessee early on signing day.

A coaching change didn’t seem to hurt Southern Cal much either after the removal of Steve Sarkisian due to off-field issues and the promotion of interim Head Coach Clay Helton. The Trojans reeled in the #1 WR prospect in the nation, Tyler Vaughns.

These are just some of the new names you’ll probably be hearing this fall as college football teams look ahead to a blank slate and the championship hunt begins anew.

How did your team do on national signing day? Did anyone impress you during the spring game? Can anyone stop Alabama from running away with a fifth national championship since 2009? Talk to us on our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn  pages.

Test your knowledge of college football every Thursday on Facebook as we present a trivia question. Answer correctly and you could be in the drawing for a free 2016 PDF/email subscription to The Kickoff.

To subscribe to The Kickoff, receiving 6 pre-season issues (Feb-July) and 17 weekly issues this fall, visit https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/ – Look for the April issue out next week!

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