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TGS NFL 2018 SPECIAL REPORT...PRESEASON QB UPDATES

Following are NFL QB updates as of August 15 with the second full week of preseason action approaching...
  
JACKSONVILLE—Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler (Cle LY), Tanner Lee (6th rd, Nebraska).  

KANSAS CITY—Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne (Jax LY), Matt McGloin (Phil, Hou LY), Chase Litton (rookie FA, Marshall).

L.A. CHARGERS—Philip Rivers, Geno Smith (NYG LY), Cardale Jones, Nic Shimonek (rookie FA, Texas Tech).
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TGS 2018 NFL PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE AFC NORTH

Well, fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't have to go through that again. We’re talking about the touch-and-go situation of last offseason when QB Ben Roethlisberger was slow to commit to 2017. Having shown plenty of wear and tear, Big Ben seemed at best a year-to-year proposition at that point. But that was last year. After losing a Division Round game last January 14 to the Jags, Roethlisberger announced he would not only return for 2018, but probably another “three to five years” even before the Patriots had qualified as the AFC rep for another Super Bowl.
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TGS 2018 NFL PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE NFC EAST

What’s this? Nothing to complain about on 94.1 WIP for the past six months? Well, check it out. The Sixers are well beyond “The Process” from a few years ago and now a dangerous NBA playoff team. The Phillies were leading the NL East into mid-August. Villanova just won its second NCAA basketball title in three seasons. And the Flyers made it into the Stanley Cup playoffs. With not much reason to bellyache on the airwaves of the Delaware Valley, why not center all of the discussion, as usual, on the Philadelphia Eagles? After all, the Birds are off of their first championship in 57 years, since Norm
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TGS 2018 NFL PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE AFC EAST

Quite a case study, these New England Patriots, who have managed to stay at or near the top since 2001. Such extended periods of dominance are not necessarily unique in NFL annals; the initial run of glory years for the Cowboys lasted from 1966 into the early ‘80s, while the 49ers stayed a title contender basically from 1981 into the new millennium. (Dallas, however, won just two of its five Super Bowls in the Tom Landry era.) But maybe the most famous glory era of all, Vince Lombardi’s Packers, lasted only from from 1961-67. The difference between the Pack and others
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...TGS PRESEASON TOP 40!

1-ALABAMA...Sure, we could try to get cute with the top spot and stick our necks out with some team other than Bama. (Hey, it’s only the summer...if some other team emerges once the games begin, we can adjust accordingly.) Right now, however, there appears to be no perceptible differences between this upcoming Nick Saban edition and his various title winners (five of ‘em!) since 2009. We could nitpick and note the eight new starters on defense, but since when has a Bama Saban team not simply
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE PAC-12--PART II

Usually, we’re not too keen on fired coaches who immediately land jobs elsewhere. Those situations often turn predictably sour; recall Ty Willingham’s disastrous run at Washington after he was hired right on the heels of his Notre Dame dismissal, and aside from one good year, Ron Zook’s tenure at Illinois was not much to remember after he was hired almost immediately after walking the plank at Florida. So, we have a few natural reservations about Kevin Sumlin’s hire at Arizona after Texas A&M hit the eject button on him late last November
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE PAC-12--PART I

WASHINGTONIn Year 5 of the Chris Petersen era, the meticulous Washington coach will trot out a confident group that boasts 16 starters from a team that won 10 games. So, won’t hesitate to deem the Huskies as the clear-cut favorite in the North Division. U-Dub won the conference crown in 2016 and advanced to the College Football Playoff. But to solidify their place as a playoff contender again, the hustling Huskies will probably have to defeat SEC power Auburn in the season opener in Atlanta, a daunting task in SEC country.
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE SUN BELT--PART II

Arkansas State...The Red Wolves have the top returning triggerman in the league back and are 21-3 SU in league play over the past three seasons, making HC Blake Anderson’s team a heavy favorite to get to the league’s freshly minted championship playoff game.Sr. QB Justice Hansen has thrown a TD pass in 17 straight games and was named the Sun Belt offensive player of the year last season as a junior after throwing for 3967 yds. and setting eight new ASU records. In 2017 the Red Wolves ranked 10th in the nation in total offense and 5th in
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE SUN BELT--PART I

Troy...Trojan HC Neal Brown is 14-3 SU in his last 17 SBC games and 21-5 SU in the last two seasons overall, and has 10 returnees who were on the all-Sun Belt team last season, including three of his four returning starters in the offensive line. Jr. backup RB Jamarius Henderson gained 7.9 ypc last season, which makes you wonder if he didn’t deserve more than the 45 carries he received in 2017. Brown lost his bet on juco RB Kevin Perkins, a 230-lb. bruiser who washed out academically. Troy filled in the defensive depth chart with other jucos, and went the transfer route to pluck ex-Louisville WR Traveon 
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT C-USA--PART II

At the outset, we didn’t see what was coming with Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic last fall, but by early October had jumped on board what would become a nice gravy train with the Owls that continued thru a C-USA title game romp past North Texas and a 50-3 blowout of poor, overmatched Akron on FAU’s home field in the Boca Raton Bowl. Along the way the snarky coach revved up his offense to one of the most potent in the land (40.8 ppg ranked eighth) and rehabbed his professional rep that took its latest hit when running afoul of none other than Nick
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT C-USA--PART I

Looking for the most misleading record in the country last season? Try Louisiana Tech,  which needed to scramble in late November to even get bowl-eligible for the fourth straight year. Along the way last fall, Bulldog HC Skip Holtz probably needed daily pep talks from papa Lou after his team lost three times by one point each, including a beyond-bitter 17-16 loss at South Carolina on September 23, when the Gamecocks hit a deep 41-yard pass from Jake Bentley to Bryant Edwards to set up a game-winning FG with 4 seconds
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE INDEPENDENTS

Notre Dame...In 2017, Notre Dame bounced back from a horrible 4-8 SU mark in 2016 to go 10-3 and score a January bowl win for the first time in a quarter century. The 2016 season was not only HC Brian Kelly’s first losing year in South Bend, it was also the only time in his eight seasons with the Irish that the team won fewer than eight games. Therefore, with 15 returning starters and some impact transfers coming onboard, the Irish have a chance to build on the 2017 recovery and step into the CFP Championship discussion again. Kelly has a 69-34
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE AMERICAN--PART II

MEMPHIS...Though record- eaking QB Riley Ferguson is gone, we still pick Memphis to repeat as the West Division champ. We have faith that offensive guru Mike Norvell, who has posted an 18-8 record in his first two years, will keep the Tigers on top. Yes, UM?s upward trend continues in 2018, though we expect a tight race in the dangerous West Division. Norvell returns 16 starters and the schedule is conducive to eaking in a new QB, with three sure wins in September (Mercer, Georgia State, South Alabama) sandwiched around a trip to Annapolis. The Tigers also get
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE AMERICAN--PART I

CENTRAL FLORIDA—It’s understandable why new HC Josh Heupel (Missouri o.c. previous 2 years) believes UCF is a great starting point for a first-year head coach. “Everyone in the country understands the success this place has had over the last decade.” Heupel says. “Six 10-win seasons over the past 10 years, five conference titles, two New Year’s Six bowl wins in the last five years. We’re right in the middle of a state that has as much talent as anywhere in the country. I’m excited about it.” The Knights, odds-on favorite to repeat as conference
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TGS MAC RETROSPECTIVE...TRY TO BEAT THIS GUY'S RECORD!

We are not sure how many present-day MAC experts who populate the Las Vegas sports books or pen previews for a variety of non-TGS preseason publications have any clue that the most-successful player in conference history is also the winningest player in college football history. ?Winningest, that is, by percentage...and it?s hard to beat 100%. ?Further, this fellow?s teams were undefeated in his high school career, too. And, for good measure, won a pro football championship in his rookie year.
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE MAC--PART II

Northern Illinois dominated the MAC from 2010 through 2015, appearing in six straight MAC title games while winning three conference titles. QB injuries have thrown some cold water on Rod Carey’s program the last two seasons, but the team uncovered a gem in soph QB Marcus Childers last season, when he was named MAC Frosh of the Year after starting the last seven games and throwing for 1674 yds. with a 16-5 TD-int. ratio while also rushing for 473 yds. and five scores. The entire offensive line returns, including LT Max Scharping, who is a
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE MAC--PART I

Ohio  is the early favorite to take the MAC East and gain a berth in the conference final. The return of preseason all-conference QB Nathan Rourke and A.J. Ouellette along with six other sr. offensive starters makes the Bobcats appear to be the team to beat in the MAC East. On paper, Ohio has the best offensive line in the league, not surprising considering HC Frank Solich’s penchant for the run game. Sr. G Joe Anderson and T Joe Lowery were both second-team all MAC last year. The
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TGS SEC RETROSPECTIVE...A BIG DOSE OF THE IRON BOWL!

What we love about the annual "Iron Bowl" is its place on the schedule each college campaign. Thanksgiving week is the closest link to the old late-November "rivalry weeks" that used to end every college football regular season with a bang. Until the conference shuffling that began in the 90s, many of the traditional rivalry games took place the weekend before Thanksgiving, with a handful held on the weekend immediately after Turkey Day. Often featured were annual showdowns such as Nebraska vs. Oklahoma from the old Big 8, and Texas vs. Texas A&M from the
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE SEC--PART II

ALABAMAThough Bama finally dropped from No. 1 as the nation’s top recruiting class since 2010, we must stick with the defending champs (five titles over the last 9 years!) as the team to beat once again the loaded SEC West Division. Heck, last year, the Tide had to overcome a rash of injuries and a November loss to Iron Bowl rival Auburn. Sure, Bama will begin the season ranked No. 1 in the nation. And there’s a good chance the Tide will end the season in that spot as well. The offense (37.2 ppg; 250.6 ypg rushing) is simply loaded once again.  Saban has one of his best-ever stable of RBs
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE SEC--PART I

GEORGIA—HC Kirby Smart isn’t sure if he will ever be able to get past the pain of losing to Alabama in last season’s National Title game on a stunning deep pass in overtime. The good news is that no matter how tough the aftermath has been on Smart and his staff, it seem as if the Bulldog players have been far more capable of embracing 2018 than their elders have. “Kids get past things much quicker than coaches,“ Smart says. “We have used it as a teaching moment.” We expect super-loaded Georgia, which brings in the nation’s No.1 recruiting class, will take the East
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TGS BIG 12 RETROSPECTIVE...THE "ACID BATH" FOR TEXAS

Rest assured they haven’t forgotten about the days of the “Wishbone T” at Texas. Among the glorious eras of Longhorn football, the span from the late ‘60s into the early 70s when the Darrell Royal “Wishbone” ran wild remain among the all-time favorites for the countless “Texas Ex-es” and college football historians. The high-water mark, we have always believed, of that great Wishbone era might continue to be mostly overlooked by college sports historians and the modern-day media. In fact, looking back
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE BIG 12

Maybe we saw something in Texas (2017 SUR 7–6; PSR 8-4-1; O/U 3-10) last season that few in the sports media bothered to see. While the majority of those sorts on ESPN and elsewhere seemed to be going out of their way not to put new HC Tom Herman in a more-positive light than the deposed Charlie Strong (who landed at South Florida), from our vantage point it looked like the Longhorns were much upgraded and very close to a breakthrough. After underwhelming (that‘s putting it mildly) in an opening loss to Maryland, Texas was a different team
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TGS ACC RETROSPECTIVE... THE NOLES CATCH THE GATORS

One of the highlights of our TGS “Retrospective” series is to dive a bit deeper into college football history and either uncover, or re-live, some tales that might otherwise be forgotten. This story fits into the former camp, and a look back into the time machine at Florida State. It might surprise those of the ESPN generation and many patrons of sports books in Nevada whose sense of history goes back to the previous week that the Seminoles lived colorfully long before the Bobby Bowden era and have a background pretty unique to modern-day college sports. In fact
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE ACC--PART II

It has become the college football equivalent to the Warriors and Cavaliers meeting in the NBA Finals; will Clemson (2017 SUR 12-2; PSR 8-5-1; O/U 5-8-1) run into Alabama for the fourth straight year in the 2018 FBS playoffs? (We can safely assume that the Cavs-Warriors thing finally ended this June, but we digress.) Las Vegas sports books think it is a distinct possibility; several outlets have been posting a prop with a heavy minus price on the national title coming from one between the Tigers, Crimson Tide, Ohio State, Oklahoma, or Washington. The IPTAY crowd at Clemson, however, is feeling a bit less
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE ACC--PART I

Looking for a “super sleeper” this fall? Try Georgia Tech (2017 SUR 5-6, PSR 7-3-1, O/U 4-6-1). Maybe the Yellow Jackets are a bit of a hard sell as a title contender, but this is exactly the sort of situation in which shrewd HC Paul Johnson has succeeded before. Rewind to 2014, when Tech was off of a lackluster 7-6 campaign; Johnson, with a similar team to what he will have this fall, surged to 11 wins and an Orange Bowl romp past Dak Prescott and Mississippi State. After things went pear-shaped in 2015, and Tech lost almost
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TGS BIG TEN RETROSPECTIVE... N'WESTERN (AND ARA) AT NO. 1!

Say “Northwestern” to modern-day college football fans of the ESPN generation and the reaction is likely to be positive. Though not considered alongside Ohio State in the current Big Ten hierarchy, the Wildcats have been more than holding their own for almost a generation, with the past decade of the “Pat Fitzgerald era” featuring numerous contenders and bowl qualifiers. Indeed, for the first time in its history, Northwestern has won bowl games in back-to-back years. Those who recall the mid ‘90s also remember Gary Barnett’s “Miracle Cats” of 1995 who stunned
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE BIG TEN--PART II

Wisconsin made its third trip in the past four seasons to the Big Ten Championship game last November. While the Badgers are heavy favorites to return as Big Ten West champs, Paul Chryst must retool his defense if Bucky Badger is to challenge the heavyweights from the East. Wiscy’s “D” allowed just 14 ppg last season, fewest in the Big Ten by a margin, and good enough to rank 3rd in the nation. That unit was 2nd against the run and yielded just 2.3 ypc at home and 93 ypg rushing in conference play last year. Unfortunately for second-year Wiscy d.c. Jim Leonhard, he must replace 7 starters from that unit, 4 of whom
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE BIG TEN--PART I

Ohio State lost eight starters, including four NFL draftees on defense and A-A C Billy Price and OT Jamarco Jones left for the pros as well. Oh, and head coach Urban Meyer also has to replace his three-time all-Big Ten first-team QB J.T. Barrett, who’s now with the New Orleans Saints. Don’t shed any tears. Meyer collected the second-rated recruiting class in the country, and has three capable candidates to take Barrett’s place.  At most schools such losses would trigger a rebuilding project, with the coach lowering expectations. Not in Columbus. While there are holes
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TGS 2018 COLELGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE MTN WEST--PART II

Back where it should be on top of the Mountain West in 2017, Boise State (2017 SUR 11-3, PSR 8-5-1, O/U 6-8) is once again aiming higher this fall, with legit designs on a return to the New Year’s Six bowl mix as the rep of the “Group of Six” conferences. It wouldn’t be the first time for the Broncos, who turned a similar trick in 2014 in what was the first season  for HC Bryan Harsin, topping Arizona 38-30 in a wild Fiesta Bowl. After subsequently kicking away the Mountain half of the MW in the next two seasons  to Air Force
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...A LOOK AT THE MTN WEST--PART I

In English soccer, think Roy Hodgson, Sam Allardyce, or Tony Pulis, managers whose specialty seems to be pulling teams out of trouble and avoiding the dreaded drop. Their equivalent in college football could be Jeff Tedford, who took over at Fresno State (2017 SUR 10-4; PSR 102-2; O/U 4-10) just as the Bulldogs looked ready for relegation to the Big Sky when they collapsed to 1-11 in the preceding final season for the regime of Tim DeRuyter, who was humanely relieved before the 2016 campaign concluded. In the process last fall FSU won the
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW... EARLY "HOT SEAT" UPDATE

Lovie Smith, Illinois...This looks like bad idea from the start for the Illini administrators, who thought that Lovie could connect with recruits in Chicagoland. No evidence yet of that, and Lovie sure isn’t proving much of an upgrade on the field, with a 5-19 the past two years and working on 10 straight defeats. Illinois, who was rarely even within earshot in Big Ten action last season, saw a mass exodus of players transfer out after the season, while Lovie has made the obligatory staff changes, throwing several assistants (including o.c. Garrick McGee)
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TGS 2018 COLLEGE FB PREVIEW...NEW COACHES UPDATE

ARIZONA: OUT-Rich Rodriguez; IN-Kevin Sumlin (most recently Texas A&M)...It sure looked like the Cats were searching for a reason to get rid of Rodriguez, who became ensnared in the dreaded harassment trap well after last season concluded.  That paved the way for Sumlin, who arrives with a bit more promise than other deposed mentors in recent memory, such as Ty Willingham and Ron Zook, who immediately got another chance after being dismissed; at least in Sumlin's case, the bottom never dropped out at A&M
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