Early CFP Odds Have Clemson, Michigan State as Underdogs

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After winning their first ACC crown since 2011 and claiming the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, the Clemson Tigers will start preparing for their Orange Bowl semifinal matchup with the Oklahoma Sooners as 4-point betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Clemson’s victory over North Carolina in the ACC title game extended their current straight-up winning streak to 16 games, including a 40-6 victory over the Sooners in last season’s Russell Athletic Bowl.

However, they have struggled at the sportsbooks all year, going 1-4 against the spread in their past five games, and enter the Sooners vs. Tigers Orange Bowl matchup at Sun Life Stadium with a middling 6-7 ATS overall record.

Since a 24-17 upset loss to Texas in Week 5 threatened to derail their season, Oklahoma has come to life, winning seven straight SU and going 6-1 ATS.

The Sooners have been an offensive force, averaging a whopping 51.3 points per game during their current winning streak, which features a pair of lopsided victories over nationally ranked squads including a crushing 58-23 win over rival Oklahoma State to claim the Big 12 title as 7.5-point chalk.

Not surprisingly, Oklahoma’s vaunted offense has consistently pushed the point total OVER this season, going 8-2 in their last 10, three times eclipsing totals of 70 or more. The Sooners have also enjoyed plenty of postseason success in recent years, winning four of their last six overall, and four of their past five when favored.

In the other College Football Playoff semifinal, No. 2 Alabama takes on No. 3 Michigan State as a 9.5-point betting favorite in this year’s Cotton Bowl.

The Crimson Tide have won 10 straight SU since an early-season 43-37 upset loss to Mississippi, surrendering more than 16 points on just one occasion and just 11.7 points per game during that stretch.

The Spartans defied expectations this season, marching to a 12-1 SU record with huge upset victories over Michigan and Ohio State, and are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven.

However, Michigan State came up well short in their only previous meeting with the Crimson Tide, suffering a 49-7 loss as an 8-point underdog in the 2011 Capital One Bowl.

In other early bowl game betting lines, the Buckeyes will battle Notre Dame as 6.5-point chalk in the Fiesta Bowl, while the Wolverines are favored by 4 over Florida in the Citrus Bowl, and Ole Miss takes on the Cowboys as 7-point chalk in the Sugar Bowl.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”