NCAA football is just a couple of weeks away, and college programs around the country are preparing for their first game days. With that in mind, here is a look of some early matchups to keep an eye on and other news from around the country.
Miami Makes Surprise Move At QB
One of the first games on the docket this year features the Miami Hurricanes traveling to take on the No. 7-ranked Florida Gators. In a battle for state bragging rights, Florida is considered a seven-point favorite in this matchup.
While the matchup is intriguing, Miami has recently made the news for a decision it made at the quarterback position. If you would have asked most anyone over the summer, the natural assumption was that Miami would be turning to Ohio State transfer Tate Martell to take over the quarterback duties.
Instead, coach Manny Diaz announced earlier this week that redshirt freshman Jarren Williams will get the start for Miami’s season opener. After only playing in one game, where he threw just three passes, Williams was considered redshirted for last season. Fast forward to now, and he is the Hurricanes’ starting quarterback.
It isn’t completely decided who his primary backup will be, but you would have to assume that Martell is the likely choice. If not, it could be N’Kosi Perry, who started 11 games last season, although he didn’t exactly dazzle in his tenure.
For Florida, the Gators have their own issues going on. The Gators have dismissed John Huggins, a defensive back, from the team. Huggins has had some off-the-field issues, including physically assaulting a tutor as well as some marijuana possession issues, which led to his dismissal.
Last season, Huggins had three total tackles and an interception, but it was expected that he would be playing a much larger role in the defense this season. With only a couple weeks to go, the Gators coaching staff will need to figure out how their defense will shake out now.
Alabama Suffers Big Loss Before Opener
For the Alabama Crimson Tide, there isn’t a whole lot to worry about with their season opener on Aug. 31 against the Duke Blue Devils. For the season, though, Crimson Tide fans might start to have a little panic in their eyes.
It was reported over the weekend that Alabama’s five-star freshman running back, Trey Sanders, will likely be out for the entire season after suffering a foot injury. While the backfield will likely be controlled by Najee Harris, it was certainly expected that Sanders would be pushing to cut into some of his carries. Instead, it will likely be junior Brian Robinson who takes on the No. 2 running back responsibilities.
Last season, Harris rushed 117 times for 783 yards and four touchdowns. For Robinson, he carried the ball 63 times last season for 272 yards and two touchdowns. While the No. 2-ranked Alabama football squad will be immensely deep, like always, this is certainly not the type of loss you want for a program, particularly just a couple weeks away from opening kickoff.
No. 1 Clemson Opens Season At Home
All eyes will be on Trevor Lawrence on Aug. 29 as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets travel to take on the Clemson Tigers. Clemson is trying to repeat its national championship season and will look to Lawrence to lead them there again this season. Last season for the Tigers, Lawrence went 259 for 397 with 3,280 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
He will look to continue his progress as he plays a full season for Clemson under center this year and is already projected to be the top-ranked quarterback in the nation. While Tua Tagovailoa might have something to say about that, Lawrence and the Tigers certainly look like a good bet to not only win their conference but to make it back the national title game again this year.
THE Ohio State University Might Be The Only THE Around
While most eyes are on the football field as programs around the nation prepare for opening week, Ohio State also appears ready to take a fight to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Apparently, Ohio State is trying to trademark the use of THE when referring to the university. While it is questionable as to whether the Buckeyes will have success in obtaining the trademark, it certainly goes to show how valuable even the little things can be when it comes to branding.
Could Smith Be Feeling The Warmth Of A Hot Seat?
For most people within Illinois, Lovie Smith is a beloved figure due to his impact and success with the Chicago Bears. For that reason, it only seemed right a few years ago when he agreed to come down to the college ranks to take on the University of Illinois head coaching job.
Unfortunately, like many coaches that hang around too long, his legacy is starting to become tainted as the Fighting Illini have done nothing but struggle during his tenure. In fact, he is 4-23 in the Big Ten since taking over, and improvements have not seemed consistent.
Throw on top of that the fact that a buyout of Smith significantly reduces (not that it is cheap, still roughly $4 million) what the Illini would owe him. Still, for a university, program and athletic director (Josh Whitman) who desperately need to see success on the field, it may end up that Smith was not the best answer after all.