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Notre Dame’s Opponents: Rough weekends for Florida State & USC with little relief in sight


Ever want to underestimate the possible effects of turnovers? Check back on Northwestern’s loss to Akron this weekend. Notre Dame has flirted with such disaster once this season, but escaped Ball State unscathed. Despite those three interceptions, the Irish are plus-three in turnover margin this season.

Michigan (2-1): The Wolverines had no trouble with SMU, winning 45-20 and led by an efficient performance from quarterback Shea Patterson (pictured above), completing 14-of-18 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. For comparison, Patterson went 20-of-30 for 227 yards against Notre Dame to open the season.

Michigan now gets a chance to pile on Nebraska’s woes (12 ET; FS1), favored by 18.5 against Scott Frost’s Cornhuskers with a combined point total over/under of 49.5. In other words, the Wolverines should not match last week’s tally, but a 34-15 victory would be a statement unto itself.

Ball St. (1-2): A week after coming within a touchdown of the Irish, the Cardinals fell 38-10 to another in-state foe, Indiana. Junior quarterback Riley Neal completed 12-of-24 passes for 115 yards, a large drop-off in attempts from the Notre Dame game when he threw 50 times. Ball State did average 5.2 yards on 39 rushes, much more effective than the 3.6 yards per rush in South Bend.

The Cardinals may get back to winning ways before conference play commences with a visit from Western Kentucky (3 ET; ESPN3) in which Ball State is favored by three. The over/under of 52.5 hints at a 27-24 conclusion.

Vanderbilt (2-1): The Commodores lost, in case that was missed in these parts. They now welcome South Carolina (4 p.m.; SEC Network) with the Gamecocks favored by 2.5 and an over/under of 51.5. That math equals another 27-24 ending.

Wake Forest (2-1): Junior receiver Greg Dortch did not score in a 41-34 loss to Boston College on Thursday, but he did catch nine passes for 93 yards and return two kickoffs for 57 more. It was the Demon Deacons’ ground game, though, that kept them in the game with 298 yards on 60 carries. Yes, 60. (Context: Vanderbilt ran a total of 70 plays this past weekend.) The Eagles responded with 220 rushing yards of their own, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

The Irish arrive at Wake Forest (12; ABC) as eight-point favorites with an over/under of 57.5, posing a 33-24 possibility. It may be hard to believe Notre Dame could score 30-plus points given its inconsistent offense to date, but the Deacons have held only one of their last eight Power-Five opponents to fewer than 30 points, a streak that includes the 48 the Irish scored against Wake Forest last year. Those eight opponents have averaged 38.6 points.

Stanford (3-0): Senior running back Bryce Love sat out the 30-10 victory against FCS-level UC Davis with an undisclosed injury. Trevor Speights handled the rushing duties in his place, taking 11 caries for 87 yards, but it was once again the KJ-to-JJ connection that set the tone for the Cardinal. Quarterback KJ Costello found receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside for two touchdowns.

Stanford will most likely need Love back at full strength this week for a trip to Oregon (8 ET; ABC). Favored by two points with an over/under of 55.5, the Cardinal may come out ahead by a score as narrow as 28-27, but it is more likely they have an easier time of the Ducks than that.

Virginia Tech (2-0): Hurricane Florence gave the Hokies a bye week, though they did not agree with the timing of East Carolina’s decision to cancel the game. Odd as this may sound, Virginia Tech travels to Old Dominion this weekend (3:30 ET; CBSSN). The Monarchs are in their fourth season at the FBS level. With Virginia Tech favored by 27.5, a 38-11 conclusion seems generous to Old Dominion on both sides of the ledger.

Pittsburgh (2-1): The Panthers bounced back quickly from their 51-6 embarrassment to Penn State, responding with a 24-13 upset of Georgia Tech. At least, it was an upset by the bookmakers’ concerns; Pittsburgh was a field goal underdog.

Now the Panthers are on the precipice of an ACC winning streak, visiting North Carolina (12:20 ET; ACC Network) as 4.5-point favorites with an opportunity to put another hole in Larry Fedora’s sinking ship. Expect Pittsburgh to do much better than a simple 27-23 victory over the Tar Heels.

Navy (2-1): The Midshipmen ran 62 times for 484 yards, an average of 7.8 yards per carry, in a 51-21 victory against FCS-level Lehigh and now travel to SMU as touchdown favorites (12 ET; ESPN News). The over/under of 65.5 suggests the Mustangs should at least score a few more points than they did against Michigan, albeit in a 36-29 loss.

One of two interceptions from Wildcats senior quarterback Clayton Thorson that Akron returned for touchdowns to upset Northwestern 39-34. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Northwestern (1-2): This bye week probably arrives at an ideal time for the Wildcats. Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns on 33-of-53 passing, but also had two interceptions … returned for touchdowns by Akron in a 39-34 Northwestern loss. The first pick-six cut the Wildcats’ lead to 21-19 after initially leading 21-3. The second gave the Zips a 39-28 lead. Between them, Akron ran a fumble back to take its first lead.

Yes, in a game in which Northwestern was favored to win by three touchdowns, it gifted the opposition three touchdown returns off turnovers.

Florida State (1-2): Something has gone awry in Tallahassee, and it has done so in drastic fashion. To be clear, Syracuse is a good team with an experienced playmaker at quarterback. Losing at the Carrier Dome should not be considered a huge step backward for the Seminoles. Clemson did just that in 2017, after all.

Although the Tigers scored more than the seven points that Florida State managed in a 30-7 loss. The Seminoles took 23 rushes for 62 yards and managed 240 total yards, converting 1-of-14 third downs.

A year ago, Florida State’s porous offensive line was faulted for much of its struggles. That line has continued to regress to the point that now articles are published pondering just why it is so bad all of three weeks into the season. With all that in mind, this is an unfortunate time for the Seminoles to host Northern Illinois (3:30 ET; ESPNU), even if favored by 10 points. The Huskies return their entire defensive line from last season, a unit that led the team to 43 sacks, 14 of which came from junior end Sutton Smith, the reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Forget the spread, take Northern Illinois outright. (Want further reason? The Huskies gave up only 120 rushing yards per game, three yards per carry, last year. Florida State’s running game will not find its way this weekend.)

Syracuse (3-0): The Orange naturally deserve some credit for the Seminoles’ misery this weekend. Even with senior quarterback Eric Dungey sidelined for much of the game with an eye injury, Syracuse did not struggle. Holding Florida State to four yards per play will help that cause.

Dino Babers should have no trouble building that momentum moving forward thanks to a visit from Connecticut’s atrocious defense (4:00 ET; ESPN News). The Huskies gave up 56 points to Central Florida in the opener, understandable considering how long it has been since the Knights lost. Then came 62 points from Boise State, a rather high-powered offense in its own right, so arguably excusable. But 49 points to FCS-leve Rhode Island this past weekend? That makes the spread of 27.5 in the Orange’s favor feel slight, although the over/under of 75 is probably well set, a testament to Syracuse’s defense, despite its lofty nature.

USC (1-2): Publicly, Trojans head coach Clay Helton is feeling the heat after a 37-14 loss at Texas. As bothersome as the loss was, the rushing stats are much more embarrassing. By the box score, USC ran for -5 yards. Stephen Carr led the Trojans in rushing, taking seven carries for 10 yards, somehow including a 23-yard gain.

Freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels did play well, completing 30-of-48 for 322 yards with one interception, again relying on classmate and high school teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown for nine catches and 168 yards.

This may be make or break time for Helton and USC. They host Washington State on Friday (10:30 ET; ESPN) as 3.5-point favorites with an over/under of 53. Can the Trojans get their season back on track with a 28-24 victory? Helton has done it before, bouncing back from a 1-3 start in 2016 to finish 10-3 with a Rose Bowl victory. Technically speaking, USC is only 0-1 in the Pac 12 at this point, so another Rose Bowl berth is still very much in play if a ground game shows up in any regard whatsoever.

On this touchdown, Trojans running back Stephen Carr gained 23 yards. On his other six, he lost a total of 13. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

10:30 p.m. ET Friday: USC vs. Washington State on ESPN.
12 p.m. ET Saturday: Michigan vs. Nebraska on FS1; Wake Forest vs. Notre Dame on ABC; Navy at SMU on ESPN News.
12:20 p.m. ET: Pittsburgh at North Carolina on ACC Network.
3 ET: Ball State vs. Western Kentucky on ESPN3.
3:30 ET: Virginia Tech at Old Dominion on CBSSN; Florida State vs. Northern Illinois on ESPNU.
4 ET: Vanderbilt vs. South Carolina on SEC Network; Syracuse vs. Connecticut on ESPN News.
8 ET: Stanford at Oregon on ABC.

Favorites: USC -3.5; Michigan -18.5; Navy -7; Pittsburgh -4.5; Ball State -3; Virginia Tech -27.5; Florida State -10; Syracuse -27.5; Stanford -2.
Underdogs: Wake Forest +8; Vanderbilt +2.5.

Friday at 4: Notre Dame brings back the most important NFL possibilities in Kareem & Okwara

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This is not to diminish the losses of receiver Miles Boykin and consensus first-team All-American cornerback Julian Love. Notre Dame will miss both of them, Love in particular. But looking at the Irish depth chart, there are avenues to survival without both.

Notre Dame will return two starting receivers in rising senior Chase Claypool and fifth-year-to-be Chris Finke (speaking of which, see below). A number of options exist to replace Love, though obviously none will match his shutdown abilities. Either rising sophomore TaRiq Bracy will put on the necessary muscle to compete with receivers at this level or rising senior Donte Vaughn will return reinvigorated with health after recent surgery to repair a torn labrum surgery or rising sophomore Houston Griffith will move from safety to get his talent on the field or fifth-year Shaun Crawford will recover from an ACL tear quicker than expected or … or … or … If one of those pans out, the Irish defense should be comfortable in its coverage, buoyed by the stalwart safety combination of Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott. (Imagine sincerely saying “stalwart safety combination” just six months ago.)

Look again at the depth chart, and such luxuries do not exist at defensive end. If rising seniors Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara had not opted to return, Notre Dame’s 2019 dreams would have hit a lowered ceiling nine months before the season began. By no means were they certain high-round draft picks, but the allure of athletic and talented defensive ends may have easily led to some outsized draft hopes.

Their backups are certainly more than capable — rising seniors Daelin Hayes and Ade Ogundeji — but a talented second-unit is as important at defensive end as dangerous starters are. To replace the latter with the former is to diminish the entire enterprise outright.

The Irish could not have recovered from losing both Kareem and Okwara, at least not to the extent where Playoff talk would be viable again. Lose one and it would have still been dubious, at best.

Take a look at the teams expected to be in the mix for the Playoff. Using current championship odds … Clemson at 2-to-1, Alabama at just less than 3-to-1, Georgia at 6-to-1, Ohio State at 8-to-1, Michigan at 16-to-1 and then Oklahoma also at 16-to-1. Those first five have been known for their defenses more than anything else in recent years. Bookmakers put some faith in their ability to reload on the fly.

Notre Dame has not earned that trust, and its roster does not indicate it should have. As well as Justin Ademilola performed as a freshman in four games, inserting him into a pivotal role in 2019 would likely be a recipe for a mediocre season. He is another year of development away from being ready for that role, barring a Matt Balis-induced excellent offseason.

The Irish will need Kareem and Okwara to survive the losses of defensive tackles Jerry Tillery and Jonathan Bonner, but if they play as they did in 2018, that is a reasonable ask. If they continue to develop, it becomes a probability more than a Notre Dame leap of faith.

The Irish will miss Boykin’s back-shoulder reliability and everything about Love, but Brian Kelly and his coaching staff coaxed back the two most-pivotal pieces from NFL draft consideration.

Speaking of Finke, he confirmed his intent to return for his final year of eligibility Thursday evening. And he did it in a way only befitting a man comfortable in his own skin.

And for the sake of context: Notre Dame is currently listed at 25-to-1 for the 2019-20 national championship, tied with Florida and Washington, just behind Texas at 20-to-1.

Notre Dame’s defensive depth chart, a touch lighter with D.J. Morgan’s intended transfer

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With the Wednesday announcement of current junior linebacker D.J. Morgan’s intention to transfer this summer as a graduate with two years of eligibility remaining, Notre Dame’s roster drops to 87 scholarship players expected this coming fall. Included among them, at least 12, possibly 14 linebackers. Before explaining that …

Morgan finishes his Irish career with two tackles in two 2017 appearances as a safety. He moved to linebacker during 2018’s spring practices, but never came particularly close to playing time. It remained difficult to see him cracking into the rotation moving forward given the quality of recruiting classes at the position in the last two cycles.

“I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for everything they have done for me,” Morgan wrote on Twitter. “When I decided to come here, my main goal was to get my degree from this prestigious University, and I am proud to see that I will be completing that goal this summer!

“During this time I will be searching for a new school to attend as a graduate transfer to finish off my last 2 years of eligibility.”


Before facing Louisville on Labor Day, the Irish will need to be down to 85 scholarship players. At 87 now, that does not include incoming freshman J.D. Bertrand, who had a recruitment handled in a deliberate fashion so as to make him eligible for an academic scholarship. Notre Dame also continues to chase two defenders — consensus four-star linebacker Asa Turner and consensus four-star defensive end Isaiah Foskey — who could balloon the roster count further.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame’s offensive depth chart entering the 2019 offseason

Keep that necessary attrition in mind as realizing how many players are at certain positions.

Julian Okwara — Senior in 2019-2020 — 1 year of eligibility remaining.
Khalid Kareem — Senior — 1
Daelin Hayes — Senior — 1
Ade Ogundeji — Senior — 2
Justin Ademilola — Sophomore — 4
Jamir Jones — Senior — 1
Kofi Wardlow — Junior — 3
NaNa Osafo-Mensah — Early-enrolled freshman — 4
Howard Cross — Incoming freshman — 4

If not for Ademilola’s impressive 2018, it would be easy to presume a four-man rotation next season, but appearing in the Cotton Bowl all-but guarantees Ademilola will be in the mix.

Kurt Hinish — Junior in 2019-2020 — 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa — Junior in 2019-2020 — 3
Jayson Ademilola — Sophomore — 3
Ja’Mion Franklin — Sophomore — 4
Jacob Lacey — Early-enrolled freshman — 4
Hunter Spears — Early-enrolled freshman — 4

Lacey will need to be ready for at least four games next season, especially with three of these six returning from injury: Tagovailoa-Amosa with a broken foot, though he did at least take some snaps against Clemson; Franklin from a torn quad that will limit him through the spring; and Spears from a torn ACL that could conceivably cost him 2019.

Asmar Bilal — Fifth-year in 2019-2020 — 1 year of eligibility remaining.
Jordan Genmark-Heath — Junior — 2
Jonathan Jones — Senior — 2
Bo Bauer — Sophomore — 3
Jack Lamb — Sophomore — 4
Drew White — Junior — 3
Jack Kiser — Early-enrolled freshman — 4
J.D. Bertrand — Incoming freshman — 4

It was always going to be a long-shot for Morgan as soon as Bauer and Lamb arrived.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — Junior in 2019-2020 — 3 years of eligibility remaining.
Shayne Simon — Sophomore — 3
Ovie Oghoufo — Sophomore — 3
Marist Liufau — Incoming freshman — 4
Osito Ekwonu — Incoming freshman — 4

Owusu-Koramoah lost 2018 to injury, making this something of a toss-up between him and Simon for a spring competition chasing the starting role, presuming Bilal does indeed move inside as expected.

Alohi Gilman’s 18 tackles in the Cotton Bowl loss should set him up for an offseason of further development and possible captaincy. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alohi Gilman — Senior in 2019-2020 — 2 years of eligibility remaining.
Jalen Elliott — Senior — 1
Devin Studstill — Senior — 1
Houston Griffith — Sophomore — 3
Derrik Allen — Sophomore — 4
Paul Moala — Sophomore — 3
Kyle Hamilton — Incoming freshman — 4
Litchfield Ajavon — Incoming freshman — 4

Troy Pride — Senior in 2019-2020 — 1 year of eligibility remaining.
Donte Vaughn — Senior — 1
TaRiq Bracy — Sophomore — 3
Shaun Crawford — Fifth-year — 1, with possibly another after that if the NCAA grants a medical waiver.
D.J. Brown — Sophomore — 4
Noah Boykin — Sophomore — 4
Isaiah Rutherford — Incoming freshman — 4
K.J. Wallace — Incoming freshman — 4

Someone needs to be Notre Dame’s second cornerback, be that Vaughn, Bracy or a healthy Crawford. Someone also needs to be the Irish nickel back, perhaps Bracy, Crawford or a converted safety.

The questions at cornerback have multiple talented answers, if unproven or uncertain. They should prove to be the most pivotal to Notre Dame’s 2019 success or failure.


Leftovers & Links: Brandon Wimbush heads to Central Florida for his final season

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Former Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush will continue his career at Central Florida. Wimbush announced his graduate transfer destination Tuesday morning.

“The journey continues on …,” Wimbush wrote on Instagram. “A sincere thank you to Notre Dame for giving me endless opportunities on and off the field. Words truly can not (sic) describe what this incredible University and the PEOPLE mean to me and always will mean to me. I’m truly thankful. Cannot say it enough.

“With that being said, I am excited to announce that UCF has granted me an awesome opportunity to play my last year of collegiate football for their great University.”

Wimbush will enter into a starting opportunity, although an unfortunate one and a competitive one. The late November horrendous knee injury to three-year starter McKenzie Milton will almost-assuredly sideline him through the 2019 season. If not for the injury, Milton would either be starting 2019 for the Knights or headed to the NFL.

In his first year of any action, sophomore Darriel Mack played in 10 games for Central Florida, completing 51 of his 100 pass attempts for 619 yards and three touchdowns, including going 35-of-71 for 526 yards and three scores in the two-plus games Milton missed.

In other words, Mack put up Wimbush-esque numbers, despite Heupel’s high-scoring offense.

Wimbush finishes his Irish career with a 13-3 record as a starter, including four wins during 2018’s unbeaten regular season. After the Notre Dame offense failed to break 24 points in the first three games of the season, offensive coordinator Chip Long turned to Ian Book for a spark, one Book provided and then some.

Wimbush’s role became non-existent after that, aside from a Senior Day start in place of an injured Book, throwing for 130 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 68 yards.

RELATED READING: The quarterback Notre Dame needed, Brandon Wimbush

In the lead-up to the Cotton Bowl, word broke Wimbush would seek a graduate transfer, confirming what had long been obvious. It had been so clear, it did not faze anyone within the Irish locker room.

Mustipher and Co. will now have reason to keep an eye on the Knights in 2019. After going 25-1 in the last two seasons, Central Florida will want to keep the momentum rolling, particularly with Stanford arriving in Orlando on Sept. 14, a week before the Knights head to Pittsburgh. The Knights genuinely entering the College Football Playoff conversation remains unlikely, but topping those two before rolling through the American Athletic Conference would at least start the discussion, especially if a former Irish quarterback headlines the way.

A consensus three-star prospect out of Virginia, Mack held offers from eastern schools in the Big Ten (Maryland), Big 12 (West Virginia) and ACC (Virginia, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh).

Named 2018’s Next Man In, Wimbush finishes his Irish career with 2,606 yards on 193-of-382 passing with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions along with 1,155 rushing yards and 16 additional touchdowns.

Early Heisman odds came from an online sportsbook Tuesday, Irish rising senior Ian Book was given 16-to-1 odds, tied for ninth on the listing. Given the names ahead of him, Book’s realistic chances of winning the Heisman Trophy are slim. Only Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa have odds lower than 12-to-1, at 7-to-2 and 4-to-1, respectively.

Then come two Notre Dame opponents — Georgia running back D’Andre Swift and quarterback Jake Fromm, both at 12-to-1. Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson checks in at 25-to-1, just ahead of Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello at 33-to-1.

If nothing else, Book can count on some early-season hype if the Irish top Swift and Fromm on Sept. 21.

Even the ‘way-too-early’ 2019 polls already respect Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s offensive depth chart entering the 2019 offseason
Claypool’s return welcome news for Notre Dame
Program-record 10 early enrollees mark the beginning of Notre Dame’s 2019
Autry Denson leaves Notre Dame to take over at Charleston Southern
Notre Dame’s Opponents: Early NFL departures hit Georgia, Michigan and Stanford hardest

Brandon Wimbush and UCF are a promising match for a pivotal 2019
The three biggest questions in college football for the 2019 season
2019 NFL draft underclassmen tracker: Who has declared?
Stanford’s Bryce Love ‘on the path to recovery’ from torn ACL
College football’s 100 best games 2018-19

Notre Dame’s Opponents: Early NFL departures hit Georgia, Michigan and Stanford hardest

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A sign of a strong program is one that loses players to the NFL before they exhaust eligibility. In that vein, Notre Dame lost a consensus first-team All-American cornerback, its leading receiver and a long-time tease of a tight end. The last of those (Alizé Mack) was never expected back for a fifth season; replacing Miles Boykin’s production is certainly within reason; and a consensus first-team All-American should be expected to take the route junior Julian Love has.

Even with that expectation, losing Love — and to a lesser extent, Boykin — alters the natural roster cycle, the inherent design intended during recruiting. Reloading is always the hope, the next intention, but very rarely is the young backup comparable to the near professional, even by the end of the coming season.

Nonetheless, the Irish got off easy this cycle compared to four of their 2019 opponents …

GEORGIA: Junior running back Elijah Holyfield, the Bulldogs’ second-leading rusher, departs after gaining 1,018 rushing yards with seven touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry this season. Frankly, that is the least of Georgia’s losses. Three of quarterback Jake Fromm’s four favorite targets will leave eligibility on the figurative table:

— Junior receiver Riley Ridley: 44 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018.
— Junior receiver Mecole Hardman: 34 catches for 532 yards and seven touchdowns.
— Junior tight end Isaac Nauta: 30 catches for 430 yards and three touchdowns.

Without running back Karan Higdon, Michigan will presumably rely on its passing game more in 2019, quarterback Shea Patterson’s second season as a Wolverine. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines got good news when quarterback Shea Patterson opted to return for 2019, but losing leading-rusher Karan Higdon (1,178 yards, 10 touchdowns, 5.3 average) will be an issue head coach Jim Harbaugh undoubtedly hoped to avoid. Junior tight end Zach Gentry, Patterson’s third-most prolific target with 32 catches for 514 yards and two scores, will also head to the next level.

On the flip side, Harbaugh could have hoped linebacker Devin Bush (team-leading 80 tackles with 9.5 for loss including five sacks), defensive end Rashan Gary (44 tackles with seven for loss including 3.5 sacks) or linebacker David Long (17 tackles with one interception) might return, but no such luck for Michigan.

Duke junior quarterback Daniel Jones will head to the NFL after his third season as a starter, immediately lowering the Blue Devils’ 2019 expectations. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

DUKE: Junior linebacker Joe Giles-Harris paced the Blue Devils with 81 tackles, including seven for loss with one sack, doing so in only nine games. But losing Giles-Harris is hardly the concern for Duke. The decision to turn pro from quarterback Daniel Jones is.

In his third year as a starter, the junior fought through a broken collarbone to still play in 11 games in 2018, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 2,674 yards and 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He added 319 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Jones’ decision may come as a surprise, but it is one that should work out well for both him and Notre Dame. Some mock drafts project him as a top-10 pick. In a draft light on quarterbacks — partly because Oregon’s Justin Herbert returned for another season, yet already somewhat counteracted by the Monday draft entry from Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray — Jones could end up being the third or fourth passer picked.

BOSTON COLLEGE: The Eagles will say farewell to junior cornerback Hemp Cheevers after he notched seven interceptions this season, returning one for a touchdown, to go along with 39 tackles.

STANFORD: This will seem like the Cardinal lost a lot to the NFL draft, but it could have been worse: As the departures mounted, so did speculation junior quarterback K.J. Costello might follow them. He opted not to.

Stanford will be without running back Bryce Love after his prodigious two seasons as the starter. Consider that a loss akin to the Irish Love, the inevitable price of enjoying the success in the first place.

Junior receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will capitalize on his breakout season of 1,059 yards and 14 touchdowns, depriving Costello of his favorite jump-ball threat.

Junior tight end Kaden Smith will also head to the next level, in large part thanks to his 47 catches for 635 yards and two touchdowns this past season.

Louisville, New Mexico, Virginia, Bowling Green, USC, Virginia Tech and Navy all did not lose anyone early or pseudo-early to the NFL draft.