Big 12 Preseason Rankings 2020

Article by: Andrew Sheridan (@SidelinesKState), Hunter Martinez-Buehrer (@Sidelines_OU)

We are only two weeks out from the first game of the Big 12 season! It’s been a long and confusing ride the past several months as the status of College Football in the Fall of 2020 has been in constant question. Alas though, we have arrived, so here it is:

The 2020 Preseason Big 12 Rankings

#10) Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks have finished in the bottom two of the Big 12 every year since 2009. Several people have high hopes for the Jayhawks this season, but quite simply, we don’t see it happening. KU returns only 11 players on offense and defense combined, good for 9th in the Big 12. If you know simple math, you will realize this only accounts for 50% of total returning production. The Jayhawks also lose QB Carter Stanley leaving a big question mark at quarterback for 2020. On the bright side, the Jayhawks do return star running-back Pooka Williams, who is looking to have a break-out year in 2020. Can Les Miles find a way to improve the Jayhawks in year 2?

#9) West Virginia Mountaineers

Neal Brown enters year 2 as the head coach of the Mountaineers. The West Virginia offense seemed to find more of their groove as the 2019 season came to a close, but it was much too late to be effective on the season. If the offense can find more of a groove early on, this ranking might be too low, but until proven otherwise, the Mountaineers find themselves at the bottom of the pack. West Virginia returns lots of talent, including a highly experienced D-Line, but as mentioned before, the offense must find their groove early on in order to have a successful season.

#8) Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech returns just over 59% of their 2019 starting production. If Alan Bowman can stay healthy, the Red Raider offense could have a very successful offensive outing in 2020. Alan Bowman will be joined by a highly skilled receiving corp including veteran receivers T.J. Vasher and Seth Collins. However, the pass defense MUST improve vastly if the defense expects to have the same success the offense does. Last season, the Red Raider secondary finished ranked 128th in the country. In a conference like the Big 12, the 128th ranked secondary simply won’t cut it. Can Matt Wells find the answer in his 2nd season as the Texas Tech head coach, and can Alan Bowman stay healthy? Their season might depend upon it.

#7) TCU Horned Frogs

The Horned Frogs of TCU took a bit of a hit in 2019, going 5-7 after going 7-6 in 2018. Although the Horned Frogs don’t return many starters from 2019, the TCU defense should be stronger this year, especially in its backfield with Ar’Darius Washington, also known as the 2019 Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the year, leading it. However, the offense is where the real question lies and is the determining factor on how well Gary Patterson’s crew does this year. Max Duggan was supposed to lead the offense this season as a true sophomore after last year’s transfer party left him to take the starting job but has since been ruled out indefinitely due to a heart condition. This leaves even more question marks for the TCU offense. Many eyes will be on freshman Zachery Evans as well, as his production in the backfield with an offensive line that was very troubling last year. If the offense can click, watch out for TCU to turn some eyes this season.

#6) Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State went a surprising 8-5 in Chris Klieman’s first season as head coach. Klieman and company will look to build upon the success the Wildcats had in 2019 for the 2020 season. The biggest question-mark for the Wildcats coming into 2020 is the offensive line. The Wildcats lost all five offensive-line starters after last season which leaves a whole lot of inexperience up front. Josh Rivas will have to lead the Wildcat O-Line if they expect to have any sort of success. Collectively, the Wildcats only return 8 total starters from 2019, ranking 10/10 in the Big 12. K-State will need to rely heavily on Skylar Thompson’s experience as well as their Special Teams, which returns Preseason All-American Joshua Youngblood as well as kicker Blake Lynch. Can Chris Klieman lead the Wildcats to another successful outing in 2020?

#5) Baylor Bears

Ranking Baylor for the 2020 season was really difficult. In 2019, the Bears went a surprising 11-3 on the season. However, Baylor lost A LOT during the offseason. The Bears return a solid eight starters on offense including quarterback Charlie Brewer but are only returning three on defense. A lack of experience as well as a brand new coaching staff could bring a multitude of issues. Baylor is such an unknown team going into the season. The Bears could finish with 1 loss in conference play or they could only win 1 game in conference play. Honestly, who knows? Our prediction has Baylor finishing right at the middle of the pack because while the Bears do lose a lot on defense, their new coach was the defensive coordinator for the National Championship winning LSU Tigers. Surely, that means only good things for the Bears defense then, right?

#4) Iowa State Cyclones

Brock Purdy. That’s the name you continue to hear for the next 3 months. Iowa State’s success depends solely on Brock Purdy. If Brock Purdy has success, Iowa State will have success. If Brock Purdy has a bad day, well Cyclone fans, you better hope another player such as Breece Hall can have himself a day. Iowa State returns 12/22 starters from 2019, including 7 of those 12 on defense. Iowa State needs to find that ability to close out games in 2020, unlike in 2019 when the Cyclones lost four different games by seven or fewer points. If Matt Campbell and Brock Purdy can find success as well as the rest of the Cyclones can finish games out, Iowa State could potentially have a very successful season in 2020.

#3) Texas Longhorns

“HEY LONGHORN NATION”……okay, can we all agree that this has been played out a little too much? No? Okay. “WE’RE BAAAAAAAAAACK!” In all seriousness though, an 8-5 record and Alamo Bowl victory may not have been what Texas fans were hoping for, and so as you would expect, changes were made to Coach Tom Herman’s staff during the offseason. Chris Ash and Mike Yurcich take over the mantle of Defensive and Offensive coordinator respectfully. Sam Ehlinger, Keaontay Ingram, and Brennan Eagles will be the big names on offense with Tirak Black looking to make his name as a transfer from Michigan. 73% of the 2019 defense returns for the Longhorns this year and while not performing as well as expected last year, they look to improve under new leadership from Chris Ash. Ultimately, How the Longhorns do this season comes down to their performances against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. If they can win both or even one of those games, the Longhorns should stand a very good chance at making the Big 12 Championship Game.

#2) Oklahoma Sooners

Another year, another new quarterback for Lincoln Riley. This time, it’s Spencer Rattler who steps up to lead the offense along with seven returning starters. On the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners are ready to shake away the stigma of “Big 12 has no defense”. The defense returns eight starters from 2019 including Tre Brown, Ronnie Perkins, and Tre Norwood who will lead Alex Grinch’s group. As the Big 12 seems to have a normal league schedule with 1 non-conference game, this may seem like another Conference Championship appearance in-line for the Sooners, as they look to add a sixth championship win in a row. However, mid season roadtrips seem to be the achilles heel for this team. Our eyes this year are on the Iowa State game to see if Oklahoma can overcome the test of Brock Purdy in Ames. If they are able to do so, another Big 12 championship appearance and likely CFP appearance could be imminent. However, while the Big 12 typically runs through Norman, a different team looks to take the championship trophy on a detour route through a town about 90 minutes away.

#1) Oklahoma State Cowboys

What more can we say about the Oklahoma State Cowboys that the rest of the college football world hasn’t been thinking since Spring? They are returning 18 starters on offense and defense combined, as well as 6 specialists. Among them include Heisman Candidate Chubba Hubbard, Quarterback Spencer Sanders, Wide Receiver Tylan Wallace, and that’s just the offense! Although the defense is looking to grow from last year, they are bringing back a bunch of talent for Jim Knowles. Looking at the top 3 teams in our rankings, they have the best non conference test in the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (compared to Missouri State and UTEP), and will be the team that is tested the most, with away games at Oklahoma and Baylor while also having tough home games with Iowa State and Texas. This Cowboy team has a lot to look forward to, and if they play their cards right, should have a strong chance at not only appearing in their first ever Big 12 Championship Game (2011 did not have a championship game), but a chance at the College Football Playoff. To have this happen, the team needs to utilize the running potential of their Heisman Hopeful RB, their 2019 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year QB, their potential Biletnikoff Award winning WR, and a defense that is looking to make a tough stand this year. Bedlam should be the Game of the Year in the Big 12 this season, and if Oklahoma State can go to the Palace on the Prairie and stun the Sooners, the sky’s the limit.

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SidelinesSports.Net Preseason Top 25

This is far from a traditional college football season. Four FBS conferences are confirmed not playing, with potentially more on the way. But, at the very least, we should hopefully get some football. With that being said, the moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived; our Preseason Top 25! Note: We have ranked all teams for the preseason poll because of the uncertainty regarding who will play. Starting Week One, only teams playing games will be ranked.

preseason top 25

1 Clemson 540
2 Alabama 509
3 Ohio State 454
4 Georgia 445
5 Florida 426
6 Oklahoma 397
7 LSU 392
8 Notre Dame 343
9 Oregon 324
10 Penn State 323
11 Auburn 316
12 Texas 257
13 Wisconsin 251
14 Oklahoma State 248
15 Texas A&M 198
16 UCF 192
17 Minnesota 179
18 Michigan 174
19 North Carolina 157
20 Cincinnati 120
21 Memphis 109
22 USC 96
23 Appalachian State 90
24 Virginia Tech 68
25 Utah 60

Others Receiving Votes:

Iowa 57
Arizona State 47
Iowa State 46
Kentucky 45
Tennessee 43
Miami (FL) 35
Louisville 32
Boise State 31
Baylor 27
Kansas State 19
SMU 16
Washington 13
TCU 11
Texas Tech 8
Navy 7
West Virginia 7
Mississippi State 6
Pittsburgh 5
Maryland 4
Indiana 4
Duke 3
Florida State 3
Michigan State 3
BYU 2
Virginia 2
Air Force 2
Army 2
Tulane 1
UAB 1

What do you think? Who’s too high? Who got snubbed? Follow us on Twitter at @Sidelines_SN!

UCLA Football 2020 Preview

UCLA football: Five burning questions for 2020 – Daily News

The 2019 UCLA football campaign was disappointing, to say the least. The Bruins went 4-8 overall, with their only wins coming from conference play. And to make matters worse, the team closed out the year on a 3 game losing streak, with an average loss margin of 24. It was the 2nd year of the “Chip Kelly experiment” down in Pasadena. If history has shown anything, the longest Kelly has held a coaching position was 4 years in 2009-12 with the Oregon Ducks. This 3rd year is vital. Either Kelly needed 3 years to build a culture and program, or the Bruins might once again have to look elsewhere.

Previewing UCLA’s Offense for 2020

In an eyeball test, the offense showed more promise than the defense last season. The Bruins averaged nearly 27 points per game, which was the middle of the pack in the Pac 12.

UCLA's Dorian Thompson-Robinson is ready to take Bruins fans on a ...

The quarterback is the most important position in an offense, and the Bruins have someone that can get the job done; Dorrian Thompson-Robinson. As a Bruin, he has a career 4012 yards, 28 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, with a 130.5 QBR. The junior also made the Maxwell Award watch list, after his record-breaking sophomore campaign. In a single season, a few of his stats made top 10 in program history; 21 touchdowns (10th), 2899 total yards (10th), and 216 completions (9th). Thompson-Robinson also set a school record of 564 yards of offense in a 32 point late-game comeback win at Washington State. Not only can he get it done through the air, but he is mobile enough to stretch drives. Last season, he ran for at least 35 yards in 7 games, which joins Josh Rosen, Cade McMown, and Brett Hundley as the only other Bruin quarterbacks to be that consistent. If Thompson-Robinson can’t handle the added pressure, the Bruins can turn to Colson Yankoff to take center, the transfer from Washington.

Demetric Felton - Football - UCLA

The running back is another high point in the Bruin offense. Demetric Felton is suited up for another year and is the program’s lead rusher. Felton should be a workhorse on the offense and has already he can handle that responsibility. In his sophomore year, he only had a total of 27 rushing yards. Last season however, that number skyrocketed to 331 total rushing yards. Joshua Kelley, another Bruin back, was drafted in the 4th round by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2020 NFL Draft, so prepare for Felton to have even more touches. Felton has proven to be a quality runner but is also more than capable of being an option at receiver. He averaged over 10 yards a reception per game in both his sophomore and junior campaign. Last season, Felton also set a school record for receptions in a season by a back (55). Finally, he is on the preseason Paul Hornung watch list. Similar to the quarterback, the Bruins can switch it up and go with another option, Britain Brown, the transfer from Duke. The only issue is that Brown ended with a season-long shoulder injury, so his reps may be diminished due to that.

The Bruins can go many different options with their choices at wide receiver. Kyle Phillips set a school record for catches in a season by a freshman (60). Jaylen Erwin is a nice second option and was a standout at Hutchinson CC, where Erwin was named to the All KJCCC All-Conference team in both 2017 and 2018. Or the Bruins can turn to the freshmen coming in, like Logan Loya. The 4 star from Garden Grove, CA had offers from Nebraska, Oregon, and USC. ESPN ranks Loya as a top 40 wideout in the nation. In his final year at St John Bosco, he had 72 receptions for 1109 yards and 9 touchdowns. To make things more promising, St John Bosco, was the number 1 ranked HS team in the nation.

UCLA Football: Offensive line position preview

Finally, the offensive line as a whole has shown to hold their own against defensive lines of all varieties. Jake Burton and Sean Rhyan are a great pair at tackle. Per PFF, Burton was the highest-graded player for the Bruins at 79.3 (43rd in the nation). When Burton and Rhyan are lined up together, they have the 40th best run-blocking unit in the country. Duke Clemins has shown to be versatile enough to be either the Bruins’ center or guard.

Previewing UCLA’s Defense for 2020

Football Adds Norwood to Coaching Staff - UCLA

While the Bruins’ offense showed signs of potential, the defense leaves with questions. The unit was last in the conference in interceptions (5). For comparison, Oregon was first in the conference with 20. Because of the comparison outcry, the Bruins decided to part ways and get a new DB coach in Brian Norwood. Back in 2017, Kansas State was last in the Big 12 in yards allowed. In 2018 in Norwood’s debut, the Wildcats jumped to 4th in conference for yards allowed. It’s clear that the Bruins saw what Norwood did and want a similar result. The Bruins also addressed the secondary with incoming talent like the transfer from Stanford, Obi Eboh, or incoming freshmen John Humphrey and Jake Newman. Will the secondary improve with the new coaching hire and incoming fresh talent?

The defensive unit was 3rd in the conference in fumbles (17), and middle of the pack in sacks (27). Pretty solid numbers overall, that could have an upside. Osa Odighiziwa is going to be the linebacker, anchoring the line. The problem is after Odighiziwa, who is the Bruin’s second option? They lost a lot of starters in the linebacker unit who graduated. Will Carl Jones make a promising sophomore jump after doing quality work? Another question; how can incoming JUCO linebacker Caleb Johnson best be utilized at the Pac 12 level? Johnson, a high 3 star, is ranked the 2nd best inside linebacker in the nation. Or, will the Bruins look to youth and gravitate towards their recruiting class. Damien Sellers is seen as the 14th best outside linebacker in the country, who had offers from Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Michigan, and Texas. One thing is for certain, the Bruins gave up 35 points per game, so whomever the Bruins decide to roll with, has to make that number go down.

As a whole, due to COVID-19 making college football conference-only, the Bruins have the potential for 4 or 5 wins. They have games like Arizona and Oregon State that look to be headed towards the win column. Inversely, games like Cal and Utah present more problems than solutions. The rest are toss ups and hard to predict until the Bruins get some games under them. They had a huge comeback win vs Washington State – will that repeat? If the offense and defense are vastly improved, a win vs Colorado or Stanford is possible; but if the team performs how they did last year, not as likely anymore.

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College Football Realignment: A 12 Conference Model for the Future

By Andrew Sheridan, @SidelinesKState

new conf

Not too long ago, Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde released his version of how he would like to see College Football be realigned. Naturally, as every CFB nerd has done, this inspired me to create an overhaul realignment of College Football. So without further ado, here it is – College Football Realignment: A 12 Conference Model for the Future.

Realignment is more relevant than ever right now as schools deal with the issues thrown at them by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some conferences have cancelled the Fall football season while others have moved to Conference-Only schedules. Of course, this leads to questions such as, “Why can Iowa travel to Rutgers but not play Iowa State?” In reality, that answer has nothing to do with travel and everything to do with conference regulation, but that’s a story for another time. Even though the reason for moving to Conference-Only schedules isn’t 100% about distance traveled, regional conferences would be the perfect fit for College Football right now.

As conferences move to Conference-Only schedules, there will almost certainly not be as many games on the schedule. A very harsh reality is that we will likely see a shortened season this academic year, if at all. To keep things fair and equal, every team should have to play every team. This way, there can’t be one Big 10 team who has to play Ohio State, Penn State, and Minnesota while another gets to play Rutgers, Northwestern, and Purdue. In this instance, 10-team conferences would be ideal, as it would provide at minimum a 9-game schedule while still seeing every conference foe.

So, let’s get into it!

What’s wrong with the system we have right now?

To be blunt, there are several issues with the system in place as of now. Include the long-standing issues with new things such as COVID-19 financial issues, and we have even more problems. Let’s take a look.

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee

Through the past several seasons, everybody has had their gripes with the CFP Committee. Since the CFP started, the Committee has been far too inconsistent with how they base their rankings of teams. Here are some examples:

  • 2014: 1-loss teams Baylor and TCU both missed out on the inaugural playoff due to weak non-conference schedules and not being named an outright Conference Champion.

New Precedent: Conference Champion with better than average Non-Conference Schedule.

  • 2016: Big Ten Champion Penn State (2 losses) would miss out on the Playoff in place of 1-loss Ohio State. In this case, Ohio State was given the argument of a strong non-conference schedule after defeating Oklahoma, who finished #5 in the AP Poll that season.

Precedent Broken: Conference Champions

New Precedent: Have a strong Non-Conference Schedule and 1 loss or less.

  • 2017: The University of Central Florida finished the season with a record of 13-0, AAC Champions, and as Peach Bowl Champions. Despite their unblemished record, UCF still missed out on the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Alabama would finish (before postseason) with a record of 11-1 and no conference, or even division, championship title. On top of this, Alabama’s non-conference schedule was also very weak. Alabama was selected as the 4th team in that year’s Playoff.

Precedent Broken: Conference Champions; Better than Average Non-Conference Schedule; Undefeated Record

New Precedent: Group of 5 teams stand NO chance at making the CFP.

  • 2018: Once again, UCF would finish the regular season with an undefeated record. Again, they were left out of the Playoff. At least a previously set precedent was finally followed.

Dominant Divisions

Oftentimes, we see individual divisions within a conference that are simply dominant. This can be found when multiple teams from one division would win the other division in the conference. Here are some examples:

  • Big Ten East: Time and time again, the Big Ten East has proved its dominance over the B1G West. There have only been a handful of years when the West was even relatively close to the level of play the Big Ten East played at. Looking back all the way back to 2014 when the CFP was introduced, the East has won the B1G Championship every time.
  • SEC West: Along with the Big Ten East, the SEC West has also been dominant over the SEC East. With the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and the Mississippi schools (sorry, A&M), this division was always bound to be light years ahead of the SEC East. Since 2014, the SEC East has only won the SEC Championship one time. However, that very same year, the SEC Champion, Georgia, lost in the National Championship to SEC West team Alabama. In fact, the SEC East has only won the SEC Championship ONE time since 2009!
  • ACC Atlantic: While not as commonly thought of, the ACC Atlantic has largely dominated the ACC for the past several years. Largely in part due to Clemson and Florida State, the ACC Atlantic has won every ACC Championship since 2011. Only once out of those 11 games was the ACC Coastal team ranked higher.
  • PAC-12 North: Though you may not think this one too likely given the teams in the South, the PAC-12 North has won eight of the nine PAC-12 Championship games played. The lone loss was when #11 USC bested #14 Stanford in 2017.

Recruiting

Due to the difference in prestige between the Power 5 and Group of 5, recruiting faces major discrepancies. The majority of the time, P5 schools bring in the better recruits for a number of reasons:

  • Better Coaches
  • Chance for National Championship
  • Better Chance at NFL
  • Better Facilities
  • Get Paid More (yes, it happens; don’t deny it)

Realignment would not immediately solve all of these problems, but it would help to begin progress toward solving these issues in the long-run.

Travel Costs

Travel can be very costly to athletic departments, conferences, and the NCAA as a whole. Conferences aligned geographically would help to cut thousands of dollars spent on travel every season.

So, What is the Proposal?

This version of realignment organizes schools based on their geographic regions while still attempting to maintain Primary Rivalries.

The Layout

Instead of the 10 conferences made up of various numbers of teams that we see today, College Football would be made up of 12 different conferences made up of 10 teams each. This would help to balance out the conferences across the board. The FBS currently consists of 130 different schools across the country. The new layout would only see 120 teams in the FBS. This new alignment would see 13 teams relegated to the FCS while 3 teams will be promoted to the FBS.

So, to summarize:

  • 120 Total Teams
  • 12 Conferences
  • 10 Teams per Conference
  • 13 Teams Relegated to FCS
  • 3 Teams Promoted to FBS

Every team would play a Round-Robin style set of conference games resulting in 9 conference games. Each team would then play 3 non-conference games with the option to play 1 FCS team available (I know this is not liked, but the payouts for the FCS schools are needed to help keep their athletic departments alive).

The Top 2 finishers in each conference would advance to the First Round of the College Football Playoff where the winner would advance to the Round of 12. Yes, that’s right; the Playoff will be expanded to a 24-team Playoff.

All other teams with at least 6 wins would play in normal bowl games, as is done currently.

Here is how the new College Football Playoff will look:

  • 24 Teams
    • All Auto-Bids
  • Top 2 per Conference Advance
  • Round 1 (Round of 24):
    • “Conference Championships”
    • Neutral Site or Higher Seed is Host; Dependent on Conference
  • Round 2 (Top 12):
    • 4 Highest Remaining Seeds on BYE
    • Seeds 5-12 in Traditional 8-Team Format Tournament
    • Higher Seed is Host
  • Round 3 (National Quarterfinals):
    • Seeds 1-8 in Traditional 8-Team Format Tournament
    • Neutral Site
  • Round 4 (National Semifinals):
    • 4 Remaining Teams in Traditional 4-Team Tournament Format
    • Neutral Site
  • Round 5 (National Championship):
    • 2 Remaining Teams in Traditional 2-Team Tournament Format
    • Neutral Site

CFP

The Rankings

The current system in place to determine how a team is ranked in College Football is via the College Football Playoff Committee, a group of 13 people. While the idea of having humans selecting the rankings may seem appealing at first, the appeal quickly dies away. Of course, this is simply because we as humans have opinions, and that’s okay, but opinions shouldn’t be choosing how the teams are ranked, or at least choosing alone. The new ranking system will be made up of 7 different ranking systems averaged together. We bring old and new together as we have 4 computer rankings and 3 human rankings combine. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • 7 Polls Averaged
  • 4 Computer Polls
    • MaxDiff
    • BCS
    • ESPN FPI
    • Heck-Miles
  • 3 Human Polls
    • CFP Committee
    • AP
    • Coaches

The Conferences

  • AAC – American Athletic Conference
      • Headquarters in Louisville, KY or Indianapolis, IN or Richmond, VA
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, IN
        • M&T Bank Stadium; Baltimore, MD
        • FedEx Field; Washington D.C.
  • ACC – Atlantic Coastal Conference
      • Headquarters in Charlotte, NC or Columbia, SC
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Bank of America Stadium; Charlotte, NC
        • Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia, PA
  • B1G – Big Ten Conference
      • Headquarters in Columbus, OH or Detroit, MI or Indianapolis, IN
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Ford Field; Detroit, MI
        • Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, IN
        • Paul Brown Stadium; Cincinnati, OH
  • CPC – Central Plains Conference
      • Headquarters in Minneapolis, MN or Chicago, IL
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Soldier Field; Chicago, IL
        • U.S. Bank Stadium; Minneapolis, MN
  • GCC – Gulf Coast Conference
      • Headquarters in Houston, TX or New Orleans, LA
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Mercedes-Benz Superdome; New Orleans, LA
        • NRG Stadium; Houston, TX
  • GPC – Great Plains Conference
      • Headquarters in Kansas City, KS/MO or Denver, CO
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, MO
        • Empower Field at Mile High; Denver, CO
  • MWC – Mountain West Conference
      • Headquarters in Seattle, WA or Salt Lake City, UT
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Century-Link Field; Seattle, WA
        • Allegiant Field; Las Vegas, NV
  • NEC – Northeastern Conference
      • Headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA or New York City, NY or Trenton, NJ
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Metlife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ
        • Heinz Field; Pittsburg, PA
        • Gillette Stadium; Foxborough, MA
  • PAC – Pacific Athletic Conference
      • Headquarters in Los Angeles, CA or San Francisco, CA
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA
        • SoFi Stadium; Inglewood, CA
        • State Farm Stadium; Phoenix, AZ
  • SAC – Southern America Conference
      • Headquarters in Dallas, TX or Oklahoma City, OK
      • Possible Conference Championship Location:
        • AT&T Stadium; Arlington, TX
        • Alamodome; San Antonio, TX
  • SBC – Sun Belt Conference
      • Headquarters in Memphis, TN or Nashville, TN or Mobile, AL
        • Nissan Stadium; Nashville, TN
        • Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium; Memphis, TN
  • SEC – Southeastern Conference
    • Headquarters in Atlanta, GA or Orlando, FL or Tampa, FL
    • Possible Conference Championship Location:
      • Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Atlanta, GA
      • Camping World Stadium; Orlando, FL
      • Hard Rock Stadium; Miami, FL
      • Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, FL
      • TIAA Bank Field; Jacksonville, FL

Realignment

Finally, the moment you all clicked this article for! Where does your team end up?

The following 13 teams said goodbye to the FBS:

  • Akron
  • Bowling Green State
  • Central Michigan
  • East Carolina
  • Kent State
  • Liberty
  • Middle Tennessee State
  • New Mexico State
  • Rice
  • Texas State
  • UConn
  • UMass
  • UTEP

Meanwhile, we had 3 teams say hello to the FBS:

  • James Madison
  • North Dakota State
  • Northern Iowa

And alas, here they are: the Realignment!

  • AAC – American Athletic Conference

AAC

  • ACC – Atlantic Coastal Conference

ACC

  • B1G – Big Ten Conference

big

  • CPC – Central Plains Conference

cpc

  • GCC – Gulf Coast Conference

gcc

  • GPC – Great Plains Conference

gpc

  • MWC – Mountain West Conference

mwc

  • NEC – Northeastern Conference

nec

  • PAC – Pacific Athletic Conference

pac

  • SAC – Southern America Conference

sac

  • SBC – Sun Belt Conference

sbc

  • SEC – Southeastern Conference

sec

new conf

Do you like where your team landed at? Could you see the FBS moving to a model similar to this in the future or do you think conferences will grow into Super Conferences in the future?

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Worth the Risk? A Penn State Fan’s Perspective on COVID Football

Following a crushing loss, James Franklin explains the difference ...

Let us start by saying that I am not an epidemiologist, although my fiancée does have that specific degree and she has been helping me with this whole situation daily. COVID-19 has affected every single one of us, some more than others, and it is not going away anytime soon. Instead of harping on the actual virus itself, of which I know very little, I want to talk about the effect it has and will have on the college football season.

To get this out of the way early, I want college football back, I think a countless amount of people want it back both personally and economically. But, my one question is, should we have it back? College football is not just a sport, it is a culture, it is a feeling, it is a way of life. It is what we look back on fondly in yesteryear, it is what makes us who we are, and it is what makes us passionate to this very day.

Penn State Bowl Scenarios: An Updated Nittany Lion Fan Rooting ...

The question I pose is, SHOULD we have this season? Currently COVID is running rough shot throughout different corners of the USA, it has affected countless lives and families, it will change the way we look at the world, and it is here until we find a vaccine. Again, I am not an expert, but I do not believe the vaccine will be here for first kick, or even in 2020.

I have had countless thoughts on what this season will look like, but as my dad has always said “if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans.” COVID-19 will change the landscape of what our reality is and will be for the immediate and possibly lasting future. We do not have a handle on it, we don’t know what caused it, we don’t know if we can re-infected, we don’t know the lasting impacts on the human body, BUT we are totally okay with bringing countless members from every walk of life and corner of the country and beyond into these locations.

Each player has a story, each coach has a story, and there will be countless records of these individuals making sacrifices that are necessary to wade this storm out. To make this about Penn State I will point to Noah Cain, having 4 members of his family test positive for COVID, and those tough conversations he must have had to get him back to Happy Valley to play football. In addition, Penn State’s coach James Franklin will be alone for the entirety of this football season. James’s youngest child has Sickle Cell Disease, and it was a family decision that he should not expose her to COVID, and potentially endangering her life.

This is probably just one of countless instances of sacrifice, potential loss, and so much more that not only our Penn State family is enduring, but countless others. We are asking 85 players to come to the middle of Pennsylvania, get tested constantly, make sure they social distance, and they don’t leave this bubble in Nittany Apartments so that the team will be safe(r) from this disease.

There are countless questions to be answered throughout this process, and I do not think there are any concrete answers. What if too many members of the team test positive and cannot play? What do we do with a potential player hospitalization? What if on game day the coach tests positive, or what if multiple coaches do? What is the risk of long-term damage to a player’s or coach’s immune system?

I do not write this article trying to be negative, more realistic. We are dealing with people’s lives and health, and I hope we put that in front of the economy. And I know how much these remote towns rely on these home games, spring games, and graduation, but these are crazy times, and I do not have that answer.

I think as a College Football collective we have mainly thought of “how many yards Chuba Hubbard will rack up”, “if Trevor Lawrence will win another ring”, or “if your team will make that run for championship?”. Not, “will this season even happen?” And if so, what will that look like for these towns that survive on this amazing sport we all love?

Micah Parsons - Football - Penn State University Athletics

My last thought goes out to the elite of the elite, do you even play? Is the juice worth the squeeze? I personally want Micah Parsons to attack each opponent with his patented ruthlessness as much as the next guy, but I worry about the overall safety of these student athletes. Millions of dollars await the best of the best, and I do not know if there is such a thing as COVID insurance, but I would probably get it.

I want college football to be played, I want to see Penn State make an historic run into the playoffs, and I want to hear Herby & Fowler call those amazing Saturday Night games. But I also want these student athletes, coaching staff, media, etc. to be safe and to do it in a way that we all agree upon (wishful thinking I know). We are in unprecedented times, and I wanted to voice my opinion here, regardless of your opinion. I know we all eagerly await what Labor Day brings. I will be here and continue to cover the sport I love with my whole heart; I hope you read this and continue to support myself and my amazing Sidelines Staff.

-@Sidelines_PSU

What’s Wrong With UTEP Football?

UTEP football is the butt of many jokes. If you asked a CFB fan to name the worst FBS program, a substantial amount would probably say UTEP. Many might say Rutgers, but that’s just because Rutgers happens to be a dumpster fire that was let into one of the two most prestigious conferences, for some reason.

Three Quick Takeaways from the 2020 UTEP Football Schedule

So, how did UTEP get to this point? For starters, UTEP was never incredible. Their most wins came in 1956 when a Mike Brumbelow coached team went 9-2 with a loss in the Sun Bowl. They had a solid two year stretch where they went 8-4 in 2004 and 2005 under head coach Mike Price. These were Mike Price’s first two seasons. He would coach for seven more, with only one bowl appearance and never going over .500.

The late 1940’s to early 1950’s were the best time to be a UTEP fan, or actually a Texas Western University fan, as the school wasn’t given its current name until 1967. But one could argue they’ve never truly been relevant. This sounds extremely harsh, but when your highest highs are Sun Bowl appearances before the modern era, and you haven’t won a bowl game since the school was renamed, it’s tough to argue otherwise. But what’s so uniquely bad about UTEP?

Sun Bowl celebrates 50th birthday – The Prospector

For starters, there’s recruitment. One might think being in Texas would provide an advantage with all the talent at high school’s there, but it’s hard to build a pipeline when you’re competing with 11 other FBS teams in the state (all of which, quite frankly, are more appealing). Than there’s El Paso itself; it’s hard to convince a recruit to come down to that corner of the desert. UTEP’s 2020 recruiting class is ranked 131 overall, three spots behind FCS Eastern Washington. That doesn’t bode well for on field performance.

Well, what about coaching? Dana Dimel will be returning for his third year as head coach in 2020. The last two seasons he has gone 1-11. Many football fans might be wondering why he hasn’t been fired at this point, but there’s a couple complicated factors involved. First of all, UTEP is in a tough situation budget wise. They’re not one of those schools that can just throw money at a promising coach, and they can’t really afford a buy out. In fact, UTEP’s financial ability to actually run an FBS football program has come into question the last few years, but hopefully they’ll make it through. A second factor is that 1-11, sadly, is an improvement. In 2017 Sean Kugler, then Mike Price after Kugler resigned, led the Miners to a winless season.

Coach Dana Dimel brings UTEP to UNLV | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Dana Dimel didn’t have a bad resume coming into UTEP. He wasn’t a coveted hire, but he was a running backs coach under Bill Snyder’s illustrious system at K-State. He had an impressive stint as Wyoming’s head coach, going 22-13, but also led Houston to their worst record in school history. Will Dimel’s record improve in another year at UTEP? Hopefully. But things don’t look great. Again, the recruiting classes coming in leave a lot to be desired. No institutional changes have been made, mostly because UTEP can’t afford to.

So, what does UTEP’s future look like? Many suggest a drop to FCS, but this ignores the vast financial benefits that come from being an FBS program (although there are some steep costs to keep FBS eligibility). The best possible path to winning is to sit on Dimel’s salary, save up, and then get an energizing new head coach who will bring in-state recruits to El Paso and organize them into a system that can win. CUSA is not a tough conference – only a few stars need to align for UTEP to return to a bowl game for the first time since 2014, and maybe even have a shot at contending for the division. But due to UTEP’s difficult situation, Miners fans will probably have to grind their teeth for another few seasons at the bottom of the barrel.

College Football’s 10 Best Traditions

The pageantry and tradition of college football is why so many people prefer it to the NFL. While the quality of play may be less, the long standing rivalries and unique school cultures that evolve from college play are absolutely unbeatable. While everyone’s favorite college football tradition is going to be the one from their school, we’ve tried to make a neutral list of the best traditions the sport has to offer. Agree with our picks? Disagree? Let us know on our Twitter @Sidelines_SN.

10. Dotting the i – Ohio State

Happy Birthday to 'Script Ohio,' first performed by the OSU ...

Script Ohio was first put on the field in 1936. But, it wasn’t until the game against Michigan that year that the band director asked a sousaphone player to take the spot of glory. Since then, it’s always been a senior or fifth year sousaphone player (with the exception of some special guests, like Woody Hayes and John Glenn) tasked with the big moment. After they dot the i, they high five the drum major and bow to both ends of the stadium. The Ohio State Band is arguably the best college marching band in the country (or The Best Damn Band In The Land, as they’re referred to) and this tradition is undeniably one of the best.

9. Jump Around – Wisconsin

File:Jump Around Wisconsin Badgers Sept 6 2014.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Jump Around is so ingrained in Wisconsin Badger culture, it’s surprising that it’s one of the younger traditions on this list. Jump Around actually started in a game against a Drew Brees led Purdue. October 10, 1998, as Purdue was trying to drive the ball into the end zone in an extremely close game, the entire Wisconsin student section erupted when House of Pain’s hit blared on the speakers. This energetic tradition has shaken the stadium at the start of the 4th quarter ever since.

8. Enter Sandman – Virginia Tech

The Hokie Experience - Game Day at Virginia Tech - College ...

When Virginia Tech installed their new scoreboard in 2000, they wanted a new, hype entrance song to go along with the reveal. “Enter Sandman” was chosen over “Welcome to the Jungle” and Sirius, and the electric entrance theme never went away. Many label it the best entrance in college sports – but other strong contenders make this list.

7. Ralphie’s Run – Colorado

Ralphie Running | Alumni Association | University of Colorado Boulder

Hype entrance? Check. Involving a cool animal? Check. Life threatening? Check.

Ralphie’s Run is chaotic and beautiful, just like college football. Watching Ralphie pound down the field as his handlers hold on for dear life is absolutely incredible. There’s really nothing like the uncontainable force of a buffalo, and that’s what puts this tradition so high on our list.

6. Yell Practice – Texas A&M

Aggie Yell Leaders- First Midnight Yell Practice. 50,000+ attend ...

Texas A&M was obviously going to make this list in some way, with the longstanding traditions they have. But Yell Practice is truly unique, with Kyle Field filling up at midnight the night before games. If you’ve been there, you know there’s nothing like it. It’s simultaneously reverend yet bursting with energy. And practice truly makes perfect – the 12th man is one of the loudest game day crowds.

5. Howard’s Rock – Clemson

Howard's Rock – Clemson Tigers Official Athletics Site

Nothing quite like an entire football team sprinting down a steep hill to get the crowd going. But, rubbing the rock before the run is definitely the coolest part of this tradition. The rock was sourced from Death Valley, California (the name-sake for the stadium, or at least what it’s affectionately referred to as). Coach Howard used it as a doorstop then told booster Gene Willimon to “get rid of it”. He got rid of it by putting it on a pedestal in the east end zone, where it stands today and is rubbed by every player as they run onto the field.

4. Toomer’s Corner – Auburn

Auburn Tradition: The History of Toomer's Corner – Garden & Gun

Toomer’s Corner is the gateway to Auburn University, but it’s known for its large oaks that get draped in toilet paper after any big Tigers win. It’s debated when this tradition truly began, but most believe it was in 1972 after a win over rival Alabama. The trees were actually poisoned by an Alabama fan in 2010 in one of the most notorious sports-related crimes ever, but have since been replaced. The corner still gets “rolled” after big wins – especially against the Crimson Tide.

3. Country Roads – West Virginia

WVU Football: Country Roads - YouTube

Arguably the most beautiful of college football traditions, Mountaineer fans sing John Denver’s hit after every home victory. The sound of a stadium full of fans singing the sweet country ballad fills the heart, and has made it one of the most beloved traditions in the sport. Fun Fact: John Denver himself performed the song on field in 1980 to commemorate the new stadium’s opening.

2. Chief Osceola – Florida State

Florida State Mascot Chief Osceola

While many schools have shifted away from Native American mascots due to our nation’s difficult past and how they were treated, Florida State instead worked with the Seminole nation to ensure they could use the branding as a way to promote the tribe’s incredible history and preserve their way of life. Chief Osceola is perhaps the best symbol for this; him and his horse Renegade run onto the field before every game and plant the spear in the ground. The mascot pair debuted in 1978 and has been claiming ground for the Seminoles – both Florida State fans and the Native American nation – ever since.

1. Marching In – Army / Navy

Army-Navy “Prisoner Exchange” is the Best Tradition You Don't Know ...

At its core, college football is American. It’s something born in this country that hasn’t been replicated anywhere else. With that, Marching In at the Army-Navy game is the epitome of college football traditions and the sport itself. The entire student bodies of both West Point and the Naval Academy march in strict order onto the field. This not only demonstrates the discipline of these cadets, but the longstanding history behind the most American rivalry in sports.

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How Will Your School’s Athletic Department Be Affected By COVID-19?

These are pretty scary times, and emotionally devastating times if you are a sports fan. The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many to quarantine within their homes, and most businesses have shut down in some capacity. Sports businesses haven’t been excluded – the NBA and NHL have postponed, March Madness has been cancelled and the NCAA has cancelled all spring athletics.

While having no sports is an absolute tragedy, one of the lingering effects of these cancellations is the economic impact. In this article we’ll detail how the COVID-19 cancellations might affect your athletic department’s budget.

NCAA Disbursements

Image result for ncaa money

The NCAA provides financial disbursements from March Madness that help schools cover their costs of operation. These payments are typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but are often millions of dollars for larger programs. The NCAA has said they will attempt to provide some form of compensatory payment to programs, but obviously this won’t be the full payment since all of the income from the tournament itself has been lost. So, will schools be left hanging out to dry?

The good news is, probably not. For a majority of schools, their main breadwinner is football. There haven’t been any announcements about postponing college football, so for these programs, they don’t have much to worry about. Budgets will certainly have to be adjusted to make up for the loss, but schools should end up fine. Even for schools that make most of their money from basketball, most of that money has already come in through ticket sales and merchandising throughout the regular season. If college football is postponed, then the majority of programs will have reason to seriously worry.

What About Spring Sports?

Image result for clemson softball

Spring brings some of the most fun sports for schools. Baseball, softball and lacrosse are some of the most watched non-revenue events in the NCAA. But therein lies the point; these sports are generally non-revenue, and at best do a little more than break even. The NCAA model is to make the bulk of money off of football and basketball (and believe it or not, wrestling has become a revenue generating sport) and use that money to support the others. So, while we’ll be devastated to not watch baseball teams duke it out in Omaha this summer, the actual bottom line of athletic departments won’t be hurt. In fact, it might even be helped since the schools won’t be on the hook for athlete’s travel.

Going Forward

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While the novel coronavirus pandemic has had widespread effects and will certainly change how we view the sporting world forever, I don’t expect any major changes to happen to how athletic departments structure their budgets. The only thing I could see happening is schools doing more to prepare for the event in which they can’t run a football season, but surely a widespread bailout would be needed for all football schools. Thus, that would be a larger institutional change rather than on individual athletic departments.

Show some love to an athlete that lost their season, continue to support your school, but your athletic department should ultimately be fine. Thankfully, we have much more sports to look forward to – the important thing to do right now is to be safe.

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The 7 Most Electric Running Backs of the Last Decade

The QB is the playmaker of the team, and almost always the highest drafted by the NFL – but Running Backs are almost definitely the most entertaining to watch. The jukes, stiff arms and hurdles make them some of the most dynamic, powerful and entertaining athletes in any sport. With that, here’s our 7 most exciting RB’s of the last decade that we love to binge watch highlights of.

7. Derrick Henry

Henry couldn’t go unnoticed. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner (the only non-QB to win it in the last decade) was Alabama’s workhorse in their national championship run. While he doesn’t boast the insane production of some of the others on this list, Derrick Henry could explode whenever you needed him, and that brought the Crimson Tide the title. Plus, you’d be hard pressed to find someone with a nastier stiff arm.

6. Montee Ball

The above video is one of the best highlights ever. Montee Ball was a monster, and any defender trying to stop him was simply at his whim. Just look how he spins players off and then pushes them away to charge into the end zone. Wisconsin is known to produce beastly running backs (with a few others on this list), but Ball was truly something special. He could always manage a touchdown, as shown above; in fact, he had 33 rushing TD’s his senior year, the single season record for the decade.

5. Christian McCaffrey

Anyone that watched McCaffrey in his 2016 season should know why he’s on this list. The man was an absolute tractor, pushing aside anyone in his way. McCaffrey is another person on this list that doesn’t boast insane total yardage, but he was the very definition of electric. Anytime the ball ended up in McCaffrey’s hands, there’s a chance it was going for a touchdown. And anyway – 3,922 career yards ain’t shabby.

4. Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon was the human highlight reel. He could hurdle anybody, and leapt over plenty of desperate defenders on his way to the end zone. He had a whopping 4,915 yards in his college career, with over 2,500 of those in his record breaking junior year. He also boasted a whopping 45 rushing touchdowns. In the above game vs. Nebraska, Melvin Gordon broke LaDainian Tomlinson’s single-game rushing record with 408 yards. He had 16.3 yards per carry – scary!

3. Saquon Barkley

“HE IS SO ELECTRIC!” – you got that right. If Gordon is the human highlight reel, Saquon is the human cheat code. No matter what situation you put him in he could break out for a big gain. The man was monstrous, with some of the biggest quads the game has ever seen. He’s continuing to dominate in the NFL with the New York Giants, proving he’s a generational talent at his position. Saquon’s college career brought 3,843 rushing yards, 1,195 receiving yards, and 51 total TD’s.

2. Donnel Pumphrey

6,405 rushing yards. Need we say more? Donnel Pumphrey was the king of speed, repeatedly torching opponents defenses and making them look like kids. Game after game Pumphrey embarrassed anyone that tried to tackle him and broke record after record while doing so. While our #1 came close to knocking him off, Pumphrey retains the FBS record for career rushing yards. Simply electric.

1. Johnathan Taylor

Johnathan Taylor was something else. You can claim recency bias, but the numbers and film don’t lie. Taylor had two seasons with over 2,000 rushing yards and was only 25 yards away from having a third his freshmen year. Opposing teams always put everyone they could on him, and yet he still managed a career 6.7 yards per carry. He wasn’t facing easy opponents either; these were stacked Big 10 defenses built to stop the run, and Johnathan Taylor just shredded them. He was a generational talent, a Badger legend, and any NFL fan is eagerly waiting to see what he’ll do there.

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Tennessee is Poised for a Leap to the Top

Everyone has an opinion on the Volunteers. Many hate them, in fact, most probably hate them. They have arguably the largest online presence of any fan base, and that doesn’t help. But they have consistently had some of the best teams in CFB history and when they’re down, they’re not down for long. And while last season had one of the worst starts in Vol history, it appears a massive rebound is exactly what’s coming next. Here’s why we’re making that prediction:

Defense

Image result for shawn shamburger

For starters, the Volunteers return their entire Defensive Line. The team will miss Darrell Taylor, but have signees Tyler Baron and Morven Joseph coming in. Pruitt’s defense has been consistently getting more cohesive and effective, and 2020 may be their greatest improvement yet with the amount of returning talent. Cornerbacks Bryce Thompson, Alontae Taylor and Shawn Shamburger will surely be feasting downfield. It became clear how vital Thompson was when the defense got significantly better following his return from suspension. Shamburger should also provide leadership to the ‘backs group in his senior year. Tennessee is adding promising recruits to an extremely experienced defense; they should have one of the Top 25 defenses in the country barring any major injuries.

QB Potential

Image result for jarrett guantanamo

Jarrett Guarantano didn’t have the best 2019 season. There were some shining moments of potential, but the terrible start to the season as well as glaring inconsistency made him out to be one of the worst QBs in the SEC. However, with the 2020 season comes a new opportunity, and Guarantano is up for it. He announced he had “unfinished business,” and a second year under experienced OC Jim Chaney should help Guarantano iron out the wrinkles. As an added bonus, touted recruit Harrison Bailey is waiting in the wings. He can watch and learn from Guarantano, and if things don’t pan out well, be ready to replace him. Either way, the QB will be protected because…

O Line Improvement

Image result for tennessee o line 2020

Pruitt and Chaney have worked year round to improve the Vol O Line over the last two years, and it’s paid off. Furthermore, *all five* starting O Linemen are returning. This should do wonders for chemistry and consistency, especially since last year’s squad already saw great improvement by the end of the season. Trey Smith, who made the All-SEC first team last season, will lead this group. Guarantano will have a comfortable pocket.

Coaching

Image result for jeremy pruitt

Any Vol that’s been paying close attention should be thrilled with what Pruitt’s built so far. Sure, a 13-12 record doesn’t look stellar on paper, but the improvement over the last two years has been notable. Last season certainly had a rocky start, but the Vols comeback, six game winning streak and Gator Bowl win over a strong Indiana team perhaps show Pruitt’s coaching strength more than anything. The Volunteers really figured things out in the second half of the season, and you have to give Coach Pruitt credit. He’s clearly built a culture down there, and something tells me we’re just starting to see the benefits of this. We’ll see if Pruitt can be the first of Saban’s former assistants to take him down.

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