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  • How’s this for a promotion? Duke will have a Throwback Day on Saturday

    Duke will hold one of the most inventive promotions we’ve seen this side of minor league baseball on Saturday: Throwback Day.

    The Blue Devils will wear helmets harkening back to the Steve Spurrier days:

    Duke throwback helmets

    … and best of all, the Wallace Wade Stadium scoreboard will go back to the 8-bit display of yesteryear.

    Duke throwback

    The Blue Devils host Tulane Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET. A win gives Duke its first 4-0 start in two decades.

    (HT @DukeFBEquipment@DopeStallion)

  • Miami tops the list of the top 13 hometowns of NFL players

    miamiFL

    While the top one is unlikely to surprise most people, NFL / New England Beat writer Ben Volin of the Boston Globe has done some research and uncovered the top 13 hometowns of NFL players and Miami, FL tops the list by a wide margin.

    As we profiled around draft time, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) dominated the draft with 4 selections (more than all but 11 FBS programs), and Volin notes that the prestigious South Florida high school now has 10 players in the NFL, followed by Pahokee HS (FL) and Glenville HS (OH) with 5 players each.

  • Texas Tech makes a change at defensive coordinator

    Texas Tech has made a change at defensive coordinator, as Matt Wallerstedt is out and co-defensive coordinator/outside linebackers coach Mike Smith has been promoted to defensive coordinator. A formal announcement should be made later today.

    The move comes following a 49-28 home loss to Arkansas on Saturday in which the Red Raiders surrendered 438 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 68 carries. The Red Raiders are off to a 2-1 start in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s second season, and rank 96th nationally in total defense, 127th in rushing, 104th in yards per carry allowed, and 109th in scoring. Texas Tech opened the season with a 42-35 win over Central Arkansas and a 30-26 win over UTEP. Texas Tech ranked 99th in rushing defense and 84th in yards per carry allowed in 2013.

    Wallerstedt signed a three-year deal worth $425,000 annually upon joining the staff in 2013. According to Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Wallerstedt’s contract calls for a 90 percent buyout value should he be fired without cause. It is unclear whether that would apply in this case.

    The Red Raiders are off this week, and open Big 12 play a week from Thursday night at Oklahoma State. 

  • Why Auburn-Kansas State is the perfect Thursday night football game

    Bill Snyder

    A year ago, we wrote a list of the 10 best Thursday night games in college football history. Three of them involved an underdog upsetting a Top 5-ranked national title hopeful, and three more involved a top 10 team holding off an irascible challenger. Tonight’s Auburn at Kansas State tilt may not – and most likely will not – repeat the history of its forerunners, but it was built with the same ingredients.

    First, the game that will actually take place on the field later tonight in Mahattan, Kan.

    Auburn is a 7.5-point favorite on the road, and for good reason. The Tigers are the defending SEC champions, a team that came 13 seconds shy of a national title a year ago, ranked fifth in the country and looked every bit the part in beating Arkansas 45-21 and San Jose State 59-13 to open the season.

    Kansas State, on the other hand, is a team whose stock is rising has not yet risen to the heights of the 2012 team that beat Oklahoma on the road, garnered a No. 1 ranking in late November and later won the Big 12. This is a team that allowed Iowa State to score 28 consecutive points, and a roster that contains 58 current or former walk-ons.

    Perhaps Bill Snyder summed it up best: “We don’t have the personnel to work against that emulates the speed and the quickness and the strength and the size that they present,” Snyder said.

    But then there is the type of game that Auburn-Kansas State represents.

    This is just the fourth all-time meeting between the programs. The first two were a home-and-home back in 1978-79; tonight’s game is repayment for Kansas State’s visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium back in 2007 – how often do you see home-and-homes scheduled seven years apart actually get completed? That was one head coach ago for Kansas State, and two for Auburn.  Despite operating in largely separate universes, there are links to the programs that make tonight even juicier. For example, the Auburn coach that Snyder tried to hire, and the Auburn quarterback Snyder tried to sign.

    More importantly, Auburn doesn’t like going on the road in non-conference, and with good reason.

    Just as Auburn doesn’t make a habit of leaving the South, Kansas State doesn’t typically challenge itself outside of Big 12 play. This is the first time a ranked non-conference opponent has come to Manhattan since 2002. They haven’t hosted a Top 5 non-conference opponent since Penn State in 1969, before Snyder’s arrival, back in the pre-historic era of Kansas State football. Kansas State is expecting a record crowd tonight, with the entire campus flattened in a 24-hour football-shaped crater. It’s going to be wild. And then, of course, there is this:

    Tonight’s game does not represent the best Thursday night game of the year. That honor belongs to UCLA at Arizona State next week, or LSU at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving, games with guaranteed conference title implications. But those games happen every year. If history is a guide, these specific programs won’t cross paths again for another four decades. Both programs are well outside their comfort zone, and that’s what makes it so great. Football on Thursday night was invented to be an uncomfortable experience, a deviation from the routine. It’s a link back to when upsets and near upsets happened for no other reason than it was Thursday night.

    Tonight isn’t the best Thursday night game of the year, but it’s a reminder why Thursday night football was invented.

  • The ball boys from Auburn and Florida State get broken down by Sports Science

    Sports Science has a way of making science appealing to everyone, regardless of your interest in science as a subject in school. There is no limit to the lengths they’ll go to analyze any section of the sports we know and love.

    They’ll even break down ball boys, just for the fun of it.

    Here, they look at one of the famous faces of the Florida State sideline, ball boy Red Lightning, as well as the newest face of ball boy fandom, Auburn’s super-fast Blue Lightning.

    It’s good to see the folks at ESPN having some fun with this and giving these guys some love. It certainly had its perks for Red Lightning last year after his 15 minutes of fame.