Florida Gators: Clemson Tigers
CL: Andrea, you know I love you, but the ACC sweeping the SEC? In football? There's a better chance of soccer supplanting football as the sport of choice in the SEC. Let me start, though, by saying Florida State is legit, perhaps the most talented roster I've seen from top to bottom this season in college football. So you'll get no argument from me about the Seminoles. But since you asked about Clemson and South Carolina, that's a tough one to call. The Gamecocks have been tough to figure this season. Here they are with nine wins and a chance to win 10 in the regular season for a third straight year, and it's true they have some quality wins. But they've also sort of played just well enough to win at times. That's not going to cut it against Clemson. The Gamecocks should be healthy, including Clowney and Mike Davis. Backup running back Brandon Wilds also looks like he's ready to go, which will give even more punch to South Carolina's running game. At the end of the day, I'm not sure Clemson will be able to block South Carolina's front or stop the Gamecocks' running game. And there's just something about the Head Ball Coach in these kind of rivalry games. Gotta see it to believe it before I pick Clemson again in this game. I've learned my lesson after picking the Tigers the last few years.
CL: More than anything, there's a profound sadness around that Georgia program that Murray won't be able to finish his senior season. He has meant so much to the Bulldogs both on and off the field and has been a rock this season through all the adversity. It just doesn't seem fair. You're right, though. Murray is one of those players you can't just all of a sudden replace. But the good news for Georgia is that Todd Gurley appears to be healthier, and I think the whole team will be eager to go out and get this done for Murray. A bigger question for me is how Georgia will fare defensively against Georgia Tech's option offense, although the Bulldogs have been better against the run than the pass this season. They're third in the SEC in rushing defense.
AA: Another great point. As for the actual picks in the game, our colleague, Heather Dinich, predicted an ACC sweep. I did not go that far, but I did pick two close games in the Clemson-South Carolina and Georgia-Georgia Tech games. So did you. If the games are indeed as close as anticipated, well, anything can happen.
Georgia is down. Florida is out. And South Carolina is beatable.
Every season, pressure is on the ACC -- and every other BCS conference -- to close the gap with the SEC. The difference between the ACC and the rest of the college football world, though, is that the SEC’s shadow overlaps with ACC country like no other, and nobody lines up against the nation’s best conference more than the ACC. The comparisons are inevitable not only because of the close proximity and the shared recruiting turf, but also because of the built-in rivalries that highlight every November.
The difference this year is that not only can the ACC win these games, but it should be expected to.
Georgia, which dropped out of the rankings in Week 9, has lost starting quarterback Aaron Murray for the rest of the season with a torn ACL -- a devastating blow to a team already riddled with injuries. The senior injured his left knee in Saturday’s 59-17 win against Kentucky. For the first time since 2009, the Bulldogs will line up with a different quarterback under center. Hutson Mason, who redshirted last year, will face a much-improved Georgia Tech defense. The Jackets have won four of their past five games, the lone loss coming to Clemson. The bigger issue in Atlanta, though, has been the lopsided results in the series. Last season's 42-10 drubbing in Athens was the 11th time in 12 years that Georgia had won. The exception was in 2008, Paul Johnson’s first season, when Georgia Tech pulled off a stunning 45-42 upset of No. 11-ranked Georgia.
This season, it wouldn’t be so stunning. And it wouldn’t exactly be an upset. In fact, of the ranked teams playing this week, the ACC has the upper hand.
For both No. 6 Clemson and No. 2 Florida State, BCS bowls are at stake, though many would agree that Clemson could actually afford to lose to South Carolina and still be a top pick for the Discover Orange Bowl. Those within the program, though, would obviously prefer not to lose to the Gamecocks for a fifth straight time. That losing streak, coupled with the fact that it is senior quarterback Tajh Boyd’s final shot at beating his rival, are distinct motivating factors. For the Seminoles, a win against the Gators would get them one step closer to playing for the national title.
Florida, though, is a mere formality.
The Gators were just embarrassed royally at home in a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern, Florida’s first loss to an FCS program. It was the worst loss in school history, and a new low for coach Will Muschamp, whose job security is hanging by a thread. Florida, which is in the midst of its first losing season since 1979, will face a Florida State team that has outscored its past three opponents 198-20.
The tables have turned for those rivals.
They could turn for the entire ACC this weekend, too.
“I just want to say thank you to everybody who came out today,” McMillan said. “Thank you to my mom, my parents, my coaching staff, the staff at this school, every one of my classmates, everyone at Liberty County high school for supporting me; and I would also like to thank God.”
Liberty County coach Kirk Warner says his star linebacker is a great player and a great person.
“I just can’t say enough about what it’s meant to me to coach this young man. Whoever gets him on that dotted line is going to not only get a great football player, but a great person.”
On Jan. 2, McMillan says he will be living out a dream he has had since junior high.
“Ever since I was a freshman, even in middle school, I’ve dreamed about playing in the Under Armour All-America Game. I was offered by both [major all-star games], but it was hands down that I was going to take the Under Armour All-America Game. I am looking forward to competing against some of the best guys in the nation that I've been going to camps with over the last three or four years, and being coached by some of the best coaches in America. It's a great honor to be invited to the Under Armour All-America Game. Some of the best football players in the nation played in the Under Armour All-America Game, and it's just a blessing and an honor to be able to play in it, too."
The 6-foot-2, 242-pound McMillan is the No. 12 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 1 inside linebacker in the class. He is considering Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Florida.
With a mid-December decision a strong possibility, the Under Armour All-American sat down to talk about his recruitment from start to finish.
20. Is there a coach or school you aren’t considering that really impressed you during the process?
You know, Auburn. Coach [Gus] Malzahn and Coach Ellis Johnson, Auburn has a great staff. I visited them one time with some of my teammates, but it wasn’t the school for me. They are an awesome staff. When my teammates went with me for the visit, they showed my teammates as much love as me, and I liked that.
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@LisaHorne: If UGA loses again this week, will it affect their recruiting?
Derek Tyson: If history is any indication, then no, it should not make much of a difference in recruiting. Remember, Georgia started off 0-2 in the 2011 yet finished with the No. 5-ranked recruiting class including stud running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Head coach Mark Richt has recruited at a very high level and has Georgia in a place to compete for conference and national championships just about every year. His job is not in jeopardy and recruits believe in what he and his staff are trying to accomplish. Starting the season off with two top-10 opponents is no easy task for any team, and I would be shocked if Georgia isn't in the hunt for the SEC East title come November. Georgia will be just fine in recruiting.
@Time2Strive: No LSU in Gerald Willis III & Speedy Noil top 3. Is UF the team to beat?
DT: I'll admit, I was just as shocked as everyone else to see LSU not in the top three for New Orleans Edna Karr teammates Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis III. Though I wouldn't completely count out the Tigers, it looks as if Florida, Texas A&M and USC are the teams to beat. Florida will have the first crack to impress the two Under Armour All-Americans, as they are both set to officially visit the Gators when UF hosts Tennessee on Sept. 21. At this point, I believe this will be a Florida-Texas A&M battle. Rarely do "package deals" work out, but in this case, the two seem set on playing together in college.
@kylelambsports: How much do Alabama's chances increase for Leonard Fournette and Hootie Jones with the commitment from Cameron Robinson?
Gerry Hamilton: I’m not sure Robinson picking Alabama helps with Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine). Their decisions will be separate, and Fournette has a long way to go in the process with his recruitment having even more importance now for LSU after Robinson picked the Crimson Tide. When looking at Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High), he’s on I-20, where Alabama has made its run in the Pelican State in this class. Obviously, Jones knows Robinson and Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita High), but he’s not as close as Robinson and Sims. It certainly doesn’t hurt Alabama’s chances with Jones, but I don’t believe it will sway his decision one way or another. Both players will very likely come down to LSU and Alabama, as has been expected.
@AshevilleLaw: What effect does Clemson's win have on recruits balancing CU-GA decision?
GH: I believe the Clemson win and showcasing of an electric atmosphere will resonate more with the 2015 class than 2014. When looking at the 2015 class, and especially in the Atlanta area, the Clemson staff being able to walk into high schools having beaten LSU and Georgia is suddenly a different and stronger message than a year ago. It will also be even easier to get top prospects to make unofficial visits -- not that the Tigers have struggled in that area. That’s not to take away from the positive reviews by David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High), but the win will almost certainly have a lasting impact on 2015 if the Tigers go on to have a BCS bowl game-type of season. Beating SEC powers changes the message of the staff on the trail, and that is very key when battling SEC programs in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida for top prospects.
Wake Forest (1-0) at Boston College (1-0), 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. The Eagles opened as an early favorite, which is somewhat surprising considering the Deacons have the better team. Both squads had some ups and downs in their openers against FCS competition last week, but from my seat, the Wake defense looked much better than BC's. The Deacs produced six turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown. That is why I give Wake the advantage in this game.
AA picks: Wake Forest 20, Boston College 17
HD picks: Wake Forest 24, Boston College 20
No. 12 Florida (1-0) at Miami (1-0), noon, ESPN. The Hurricanes have an excellent opportunity to make a statement against their former archrivals in the final scheduled regular-season meeting between the programs. Miami has the best offensive player on the field in Duke Johnson, but he will be playing against a formidable defense -- perhaps the best he will see all season. I do not think Miami can physically match up on the offensive and defensive lines and will get worn down as the game goes on. Florida might not have as many explosive players on offense, but its defense will rise to the occasion.
AA picks: Florida 23, Miami 17
HD picks: Florida 31, Miami 24
Middle Tennessee (1-0) at North Carolina (0-1), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Tar Heels had a disappointing performance in a loss to South Carolina, especially from their defense. UNC's defensive front got no pressure on the quarterback and could not stop the run. The secondary got beat on several long passes downfield. Middle Tennessee upset Georgia Tech last season, but I don't see a similar outcome in this one. North Carolina will get a much better game out of Bryn Renner and its defense.
AA picks: North Carolina 44, Middle Tennessee 20
HD picks: North Carolina 42, Middle Tennessee 21
South Carolina State (0-1) at No. 4 Clemson (1-0), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Tigers have to guard against the letdown factor after such an emotional win over Georgia last week. They now have their highest ranking since 1988, and the nation will be expecting a blowout against an FCS team. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris wants the offense to play faster, so that is one key to watch.
AA picks: Clemson 63, South Carolina State 7
HD picks: Clemson 55, South Carolina State 0
Western Carolina (0-1) at Virginia Tech (0-1), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Hokies have all sorts of issues to work out on offense and special teams. Coach Frank Beamer promises changes to correct the mistakes that allowed Alabama to score twice on kick returns last week. Receivers have got to do more to help out Logan Thomas. One injury note: Virginia Tech hopes to have running back J.C. Coleman available. This is a team the Hokies should dominate. Now, they have to do it.
AA picks: Virginia Tech 41, Western Carolina 3
HD picks: Virginia Tech 35, Western Carolina 3
No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0), 3:30 p.m., ABC. Oregon makes its first trip to ACC country on Saturday, becoming just the third top-three nonconference team to play in Charlottesville. The UVa defense looked strong in its Week 1 win over BYU, but the Ducks present quite a different challenge given the pace and production they get out of their offense. Oregon rolled up 772 yards last week in a win over Nicholls State. Gulp. Simply put, the Hoos just do not have the personnel on offense and defense to keep up.
AA picks: Oregon 45, Virginia 17
HD picks: Oregon 45, Virginia 17
Old Dominion (0-1) at Maryland (1-0), 4 p.m., ESPNews. The Terps hope to build off an impressive performance in Week 1. C.J. Brown was terrific in his return to the field, and we all saw what this offense is capable of with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Taking a peek ahead, the schedule sets up for Maryland to go 4-0 in nonconference play.
AA picks: Maryland 48, Old Dominion 10
HD picks: Maryland 42, Old Dominion 7
Duke (1-0) at Memphis (0-0), 4:30 p.m., ESPN3. This is not going to be a walk-over for the Blue Devils. Memphis is a much improved team than it was several seasons ago. And much improved over the team Duke beat at the start of last season. The Tigers have a new quarterback but return a majority of their starters, including two standouts on the defensive line in Johnnie Farms and Martin Ifedi. This will be a good early road test for the Blue Devils.
AA picks: Duke 35, Memphis 20
HD picks: Duke 38, Memphis 24
Syracuse (0-1) at No. 19 Northwestern (1-0), 6 p.m., Big Ten Network. The Orange dropped a heartbreaker to Northwestern to open last season. Now they hit the road to face them again after a disappointing loss to Penn State. Syracuse has some problems to fix on offense, and it needs a better effort out of quarterback Drew Allen in this game. The Orange also have to do a better job of establishing the run if they are going to have any chance to win.
AA picks: Northwestern 28, Syracuse 21
HD picks: Northwestern 35, Syracuse 17
Richmond (1-0) at NC State (1-0), 6 p.m. ESPN3. The Spiders are one of the best teams in FCS and have notched wins over Duke in the past, so this is not a team that should be taken lightly -- especially after the FCS upsets in Week 1. Quarterback Pete Thomas gets his shot to start, but keep an eye on the running back rotation now that Shadrach Thornton returns to the lineup. Freshman Matt Dayes had a big game last week against Louisiana Tech, so coach Dave Doeren says he will use a three-man rotation with Tony Creecy, Thornton and Dayes.
AA picks: NC State 38, Richmond 13
HD picks: NC State 41, Richmond 10
Headlined by Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche and Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, RecruitingNation takes a look at the Class of 2013 members who can make the biggest impact as freshmen.
To take a look at the team, click here .
Not surprisingly, the back-to-back BCS champions are again preseason favorites and top ESPN's power rankings. But a number of elite programs are ready for their chance to dethrone the king.
Top 15 breakdown
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Stanford
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 (tie) Georgia
No. (tie) South Carolina
No. 8 Louisville
No. 9 Clemson
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Notre Dame
No. 14 (tie) Michigan
No. 14 (tie) Texas
Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) has a confirmed top crop of Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and Ole Miss in no order.
Some schools he’ll see more than once, some he won’t get a chance to see at all.
What does it all mean?
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Sure, we’ll give this a try with QB’s in the current 2014 class with the categories below…
Arm strength: Georgia commit Jacob Park (Stratford/Goose Creek, S.C.). This was close, could have put Alabama commit David Cornwell (Norman North/Norman, Okla.) here as well. The ball jumps out of Park's arm with velocity, power and RPMs to drive the ball vertically and into tight spots.
Accuracy: Stanford commit Keller Chryst (Palo Alto/Palo Alto, Calif.). Chryst shows terrific ball placement and timing with the ability to change ball speeds and drop the ball in over coverage to small windows. His ability to anticipate allows him to throw to a spot before the receiver breaks.
Delivery: Purdue commit David Blough. Is is an uncoachable trait, in my opinion, and one that is highly coveted. Blough pops the ball out of his hand with a lightning quick stroke. It is tight, compact and smooth.
Running ability: Florida commit Will Grier. He is a true dual-threat only when needed. If asked to be an integral part of the running game, Grier can really hurt you with his legs and is not a guy you want to let out of the pocket.
Mental toughness: Chryst. This is where his aptitude and upbringing (his uncle is Pitt coach Paul Chryst) come into play. Chryst is mature and capable of handling the ups and downs of the position having grown up around the game in ways few prospects have.
Competitiveness: LSU commit Brandon Harris. This was close; Texas A&M pledge Kyle Allen also fits the bill. Harris wants to be great and is willing to do what it takes to make it happen. He had received limited exposure and offers in the spring, but proved himself on the camp and combine circuit.
Poise: Clemson commit Deshaun Watson. Calm, cool and collected. Watson has a quiet swagger and calming pocket presence that exudes confidence and control. He weathers the peaks and valleys of the game with an even keel.
Instincts: Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen. Hansen and Grier could swap categories here. Hansen is just one of those guys that knows when to pull the trigger and is at his best when improvising and on the move. He has a sixth sense about where pressure is coming from, can evade defenders and keep plays alive instinctively.
As difficult as it might be, the 6-foot-8, 288-pound Sharpe said he would at least like to attempt to play both when he gets to college.
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Junior-to-be George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) already has created a buzz in the recruiting world. The talented 6-foot-4, 185-pound athlete debuted in the 2015 ESPN 300 as the No. 1 athlete and No. 3-ranked player overall.
His sophomore stats, though solid, aren't earth-shattering. Campbell accumulated 766 receiving yards on 30 receptions and nine total touchdowns. But after an impressive performance at the IMG 7v7 National Championships in Bradenton (Fla.) in June and winning the fastest man competition at The Opening in Beaverton (Ore.), Campbell has seen his stock soar.
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- There's a reason QB Deshaun Watson has been walking around this week at the Elite 11 and The Opening with a smile on his face. It's because the Clemson commit knew he was gaining a new weapon for the Tigers' offense.
Artavis Scott, a four-star receiver from Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake High School, has committed to Clemson, picking the Tigers over Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and others.
Scott ranks as the No. 89 player in the ESPN 300 and the No. 10 receiver in the nation, helping bolster an impressive offensive class for Clemson that already includes Watson, who is the nation’s No. 1 quarterback.
Early in the process, it seemed that Michigan would be the destination for Scott, but a recent unofficial visit to Clemson -- and a continued recruiting push from Watson -- helped lure him to the Tigers’ side.
"I liked it a lot when I visited,” Scott said earlier this week before making his decision. “I have fun every time I go there. I just like the atmosphere that they bring. Just knowing all the guys that have been there and what they've done and their history, just makes it even better. It's a great opportunity based on what they have produced over the years."
Watson admitted that he’s been talking to Scott a lot about playing together at Clemson.
“I take pride in trying to get the best players to be part of our class,” Watson said. “I’ve been talking a lot to Artavis, and I think we have a special opportunity to do some big things at Clemson.”
Scott, who is 5-foot-11 and 177 pounds, should help bolster Clemson’s class, which was ranked No. 11 in the RecruitingNation class rankings before his pledge. He is Clemson’s 13th known commitment for the class of 2014.
Scott talked about each of his favorite schools.
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