Week 3 of the college football season is nearly upon us, and it could be a big week for several teams. In fact, a handful are headed into their games with a whole lot to prove. It could be that they’re off to a surprisingly good start and are aiming to show everyone that they’re legitimately as good as they’ve looked. It may be the opposite, and the team needs a win to get on track and show what they’re capable of. It could even be a team that is about to face their stiffest competition yet and need a win to show that they need to be taken seriously as potential heavyweights as well.
As Week 3 of the college football season looms, here is a look at ten teams that may be feeling that they must make a major statement of their intentions on Saturday.
10) Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have put up two impressive results so far, but the opposition of Missouri State and South Alabama hasn’t really tested them. 17th-ranked Boise State certainly will. Oklahoma State wasn’t expected to be a frontline contender for the Big 12 this season, but a home win over a ranked opponent such as the Broncos on Saturday will lead to a few people to sit up and take notice.
The opening week of the college football season gave us some surprising results. Highly-ranked teams looked like they couldn’t justify the hype. Five Top 25 teams fell during the opening weekend, with one going down to an unranked opponents and several others coming dangerously close. That doesn’t include some unranked teams who had hopes of making noise but were ultimately cast aside quite quickly.
Here are ten teams that had very foreboding starts to the 2018 season that could be a sign of trouble ahead.
Look, nobody in the world was expecting the Jayhawks to be any good this season. The likelihood was always that they’d assume their traditional position of Big 12 doormat and would be fortunate to win two or three games. On the evidence, they’ll be lucky to win one. They lost in overtime to FCS Nicholls State on Saturday at home, and that’s the easiest game on their schedule all season. This isn’t Appalachian State — with all due respect to the Colonels, they went 8-4 last season. They were still good enough to beat Kansas, and that should send a chill down the spine of under-pressure Jayhawks coach David Beaty.
Florida State may have missed out on a touchdown during their game against Virginia Tech on Monday night due to a lack of review.
The Seminoles had a 2nd-and-10 at the Virginia Tech 31 during the second quarter and threw a quick pass to Nyqwan Murray, who took the ball down towards the end zone. The call on the field was that he was down at the one, but replay seemed to show Murray may have actually gotten into the end zone.
Scoring plays are reviewable in college football, so the opportunity to take a look at the play was there. However, FSU went quickly on their next play and didn’t give the officiating crew much time to think about reviewing the play. Willie Taggart also missed the opportunity to challenge the call.
Florida State quickly went backwards with a false start penalty. They ended up settling for a field goal on the drive to make it 10-3 instead of potentially 10-7. Those were key points they missed.
Trezman Marshall is one of the top linebackers and overall defensive players in the country for the 2019 recruiting class, and he has offers from several national powerhouse programs. There are some that Marshall feels are mentally prepared to compete for a championship, and others that aren’t.
Florida State falls under the latter category.
Marshall, who spoke highly of Florida State coach Willie Taggart, said in an interview with Jeff Sentell of Dawg Nation that he can tell from his meetings with FSU that the players are not “focused” enough to contend for a title.
“You can just tell by going up there to talk to the (FSU) players,” Marshall said. “They aren’t focused on winning a championship just yet. They want to play football. Everyone wants to play football. You can say that about everybody, but I’m focused on going to a place with a bunch of players who are focused on winning a championship.”
Marshall also said he feels a connection with Taggart but is not a fan of the overall coaching staff at Florida State.
“I don’t like coaching staff there but I love the head coach. That’s the best head coach that I have been talking to and have met,” he said. “That’s what I have seen so far.”
Marshall has verbally committed to Georgia, and the Bulldogs are just coming off a heartbreaking loss to Alabama in the national championship game. He said he feels a better connection with Taggart than Georgia coach Kirby Smart, and he took to Twitter on Friday to insist he meant no disrespect to FSU’s coaching staff.
If you know me you know how I’m coming I’ll never bash any coaches. Just was a Miscommunication @CoachWoodie you know how we rocking
In fact, Marshall has not ruled out flipping his commitment to Florida State.
“Florida State is coming with full force,” he added. “They are steady coming. They are not letting up. I can tell you they are not letting up at all.”
Marshall might respect some of the interesting motivational tactics Taggart is using with his new players, but it’s hard to imagine him committing to Florida State after some of the things he said. If he did, there would probably be some awkwardness when he first arrived to campus.
College football’s landscape changes virtually every offseason between recruiting and the coaching carousel, and this one was no different. As such, there are a number of programs who haven’t been as successful as they’d have liked who are on the way up now.
Some of these squads put the building blocks in place last season and are looking to take another step forward in 2018. Others have made major coaching changes, and the new hires should propel them forward. Whatever the case, here’s a look at 10 college football teams who will begin the 2018 on the rise.
10) Florida Atlantic
The Owls began their rapid rise in 2017 when they brought Lane Kiffin in as their head coach. He promptly went 11-3 with a bowl win, setting Florida Atlantic up for another potential step forward in 2018. They have a legitimate star in running back Devin Singletary and an early test against Oklahoma. The Owls have real ambitions to at minimum challenge for the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six team.
Florida State is expected to begin the 2018 season without one of its starting offensive lineman, as sophomore left tackle Josh Ball has reportedly been suspended in the wake of allegations that he was violent toward his ex-girlfriend.
According to Warchant.com, an FSU judicial panel decided to suspend Allen after reviewing claims his ex-girlfriend, Florida State student Sandra Sellers, made against him when she filed paperwork last September seeking “protection against dating violence.” Sellers says Allen attacked her on more than one occasion, including an incident in December 2016 in which he allegedly slapped her in the face, a March 2017 incident in which he shoved her to the floor and an altercation in April 2017 where Sellers says she was left with a cut on her knee after Allen grabbed her and shoved her numerous times.
Sellers believes Allen is a danger to himself and others and stated that she witnessed incidents in which he became violent with other people. She shared a screenshot on social media Monday that claimed to show the FSU ruling against Ball.
“This long journey has finally come to an end! After two long days of testifying and two agonizing weeks of waiting for this letter, it’s finally here,” Sellers wrote in her post. “Thank you FSU for making campus a better place.”
Ball was never charged by Tallahassee Police or the state attorney’s office after Sellers filed the complaint.
It’s unclear how long Sellers has been suspended for, but new Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart may have to look at other options for a starting left tackle.
Deondre Francois has found himself in some legal trouble after police investigated a tip they received that the Florida State quarterback was selling marijuana out of his apartment in Tallahassee.
According to a search warrant obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Tallahassee police received a tip from an anonymous male who said he was inside Francois’s apartment in February and saw a large bag full of marijuana, which was estimated by police to be about two pounds. Investigators got a warrant to search through Francois’s garbage on four separate occasions, and they believed the evidence supported the claim that Francois was involved with criminal activity.
Among the contents TPD found in Francois’ garbage and during their Thursday apartment search: multiple plastic bags with cannabis residue, innards of blunt cigars, a Bob Marley grinder, an instant drug test cup, three vials of pain medication, two iPads with broken screens, three iPhones and an FSU student ID card for running back Zaquandre White.A Leon County judge approved the eight-page search warrant on April 6.
Police conducted a search of Francois’s apartment last Thursday and found 17 grams of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia near his bed. The 21-year-old claimed the drugs belonged to his girlfriend Diamond Lindsey, who was in the apartment at the time, and told police he “can’t smoke right now.” He claimed the last time he used marijuana was in December.
Francois was not arrested and instead was offered the chance to participate in a pre-trial diversion program, which involves community service and probation for anywhere from three months to a year. He could also be asked to participate in a substance abuse program. Florida State head coach Willie Taggart said Francois is “still with our football team” and that he hopes the QB can make better choices going forward.
“He’s got to be smart about who he’s around and what he’s around, and make good decisions,” Taggart said. “I advise him to just make sure he’s around his teammates all the time.”
Willie Taggart has wasted no time embracing the culture and history at Florida State since taking the head coaching job for the Seminoles.
Taggart left Oregon after one season to take the FSU job following Jimbo Fisher’s departure to Texas A&M. He’s already had legendary coach Bobby Bowden at a team practice, and now he turned Saturday’s spring game into a reunion.
“It was just good to see them all,” Taggart said, via the Sentinel’s Deen. “You’ve seen guys from the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s and the 2000s. This place is so special. We have so much tradition and so many great players.
“This is their program, and we always want them back. We want them involved.”
Deen says the alumni in attendance seemed pleased to be invited back and welcomed. A photo shows that Deion Sanders was among those in attendance. As for why Taggart held his reunion now instead of during the fall season, he said it was so they could really mix things up without having to worry about the pressure of a regular season game at the same time. That makes plenty of sense.
Some of college football’s traditional powers have really fallen by the wayside. Sometimes they fall victim to unrealistic expectations, and other times they simply don’t recruit or play well enough to match the talent on display. One season of poor play isn’t the end of the world, but if struggles continue, it can be very bad news for a program.
Here are ten programs that underwhelmed last year and could really use a quick turnaround.
A tumultuous season that began with off-field disciplinary issues ultimately led to the firing of coach Jim McElwain. The tumult meant the Gators fell from two consecutive SEC title game appearances to a 4-7 record. Bringing in new coach Dan Mullen should help, and the Gators have turned things around quickly before, but this was not a year to remember for them, nor is it a year the fanbase will tolerate much more of.
Butch Jones wasn’t exactly beloved in Knoxville even after back-to-back nine win seasons, so a four-win 2017 was the end of him. It’s been over a decade — 2007, to be exact — since the Vols finished atop their SEC division (they won a head-to-head tie with Georgia). That’s too long for this fanbase. Jeremy Pruitt is the new coach after a rather embarrassing search, which cost the former athletic director his job. Pruitt’s first job will be to get fan support behind them and have the Vols bowl-eligible again. Then they can go from there.
Bobby Bowden visited Florida State’s practice as a guest of new head coach Willie Taggart.
The Seminoles are making preparations for the upcoming season under Taggart. On Wednesday, the team welcomed the man who guided the program for over three decades.
Bowden had a standing invitation from Taggart to stop by and visit a football practice, which was extended when Taggart met with the coach. Bowden decided to take Taggart up on the offer this week. While his status at the university is legendary, Bowden made sure to emphasize he’s not looking over Taggart’s shoulder.
“I don’t want to be looking over Willie. I don’t want people to think I’m looking over his shoulder,” Bowden told The Orlando Sentinel. “I’m behind him all the way. He’s our man.”
Bowden made a point to not go to practices when Jimbo Fisher was Florida State’s head coach for the reason he stated. However, this is a different time for the Seminoles and there is not a dynamic between Bowden and Taggart like there was with Bowden and Fisher, who served as Bowden’s offensive coordinator.
Bowden spent 34 seasons as the Seminoles head coach. He led them to 417 wins and two national championships. It goes without saying that his presence will always be appreciated and welcomed around campus. It was a nice gesture by Taggart to open the doors of the practice facility to one of the game’s great coaches.