College football picks, predictions against the spread for every Week 13 top 25 game - Sporting News

The 2020 college football season hits the home stretch heading into Week 13.   Is it really the final week of November? Is it really time for the Iron Bowl?   No. 22 Auburn travels to No. 1 Alabama at 3:30 p.m. in the latest installment of that national rivalry, and it's the highlight of this week's schedule.   Black Friday offers two more games involving ranked teams. No. 8 Notre Dame travels to No. 25 North Carolina, and No. 15 Iowa State has a road date at No. 20 Texas. The first set of College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled Tuesday, and that is sure to add to the excitement. SN picks every Top 25 game against the spread each week and is coming off a winning week:   Last week: 13-2 S/U, 9-5 ATS  Overall: 129-36 S/U, 86-70 ATS    Top 25: 119-31 S/U, 81-66 ATS    Now, a look at our picks against the spread for Week 13:   MORE: Week 13 bowl projections Week 13 picks against the spread   Friday, Nov. 27   No. 15 Iowa State at No. 20 Texas (-2)   The

USM, WCU move summer classes online and waive some entry rules -

USM, WCU move summer classes online and waive some entry rules -

USM, WCU move summer classes online and waive some entry rules -

Posted: 08 Apr 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Universities in the Pine Belt continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University have moved their summer classes to online formats. Spring classes are already meeting in these formats.

The universities have also canceled some entrance requirements for graduate programs, including entrance exams such as the GRE and GMAT.

Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School at Southern Miss, said the "university remains sensitive to the challenges people from across the globe face due to the coronavirus."

Among those challenges are closures of many test centers that typically administer standardized exams in the United States and abroad, according to Coats.

"At the Graduate School, we want to ensure that those who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree are not hindered by the inability to sit for the GRE and GMAT due to test center closures," she said.

The iTEP exam, used to test English proficiency, has also added an at-home testing option, and the university will accept this exam with a score of 4.0 to meet the Graduate School's English proficiency requirement, said Coats.

Southern Miss officials have also tentatively rescheduled commencement ceremonies on the Hattiesburg campus to Aug. 20 for graduate students and Aug. 21 for undergraduate students.

"These plans are subject to change pending future public health guidance as COVID-19 circumstances continue to evolve," said a statement from the university.

Southern Miss is currently operating on an "orange" COVID-19 response status, meaning the university has converted institutional functions to remote formats wherever possible and limited operations and access at all locations.

Public access to the university remains suspended, and vehicular and pedestrian traffic on university property is strongly discouraged.

Potential students may visit for updates and more information.

According to an April 3 update from William Carey, the university offers a fully online Master of Business Administration degree, and the GMAT entrance exam requirement has been suspended until further notice. Students may enter the program in the summer, fall, winter or spring sessions of the university, and the program consists of 30 credit hours or up to 39 credit hours for those without undergraduate business coursework.

William Carey also offers an educational leadership online doctoral program, and the GRE entrance exam requirement is currently halted. The program begins again in the winter term, and completed applications are due Aug. 1.

Also, the William Carey School of Education is offering an accelerated program to help people who wish to become classroom teachers. According to Dr. Ben Burnett, dean of the School of Education, the Mississippi State Board of Education recently voted to suspend the requirement for licensure exams as an entry point into teacher education for the undergraduate level and for the alternate route program.

The alternate route program is now fully online, said Burnett, and consists of two classes for students with an undergraduate degree. Those classes can be taken over the summer, and students can then receive a teaching license.

According to Burnett, the state board suspension applies through December 2021.

Burnett said the university is also offering an assistant teacher scholarship, which consists of a 50 percent discount to help assistant teachers complete their undergraduate degree.

The update added that May 1 is the application deadline for the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the William Carey Tradition campus in Biloxi. Students are encouraged to apply now to avoid any delays caused by the pandemic.

William Carey is also offering an online master's degree in criminal justice, and the GRE suspension applies to this program as well. The program can be completed in about 14 months.

The university's Winters School of Music has also made it possible for prospective students to audition online, according to the update. All students who audition will receive a scholarship, and vocalists are asked to present one prepared piece. Instrumentalists should present two major scales and one prepared piece. Auditions are due by April 15.

The update also said that Carey Dinner Theatre, expected to celebrate its 45th anniversary this summer, has canceled its 2020 season.

William Carey has also canceled its upcoming commencement ceremonies and its annual Homecoming celebration.

For more information on William Carey programs, visit

A rapping professor. A cat in class. Pornography on Zoom. How online classes work at colleges during coronavirus - USA TODAY

Posted: 30 Mar 2020 03:03 AM PDT


College teachers and students discuss some of the challenges they face as their classes move online for the foreseeable future. USA TODAY

Mark Naison, 73, had just days to move online his decades-old class, a history of music from rock 'n' roll to hip-hop. He wasn't sure how to preserve the raucous spirit of the course, but he had an answer that had worked for him in the past. 

"I can make a fool of myself," he said. 

The technology, mainly the video-streaming software Zoom, was unfamiliar to him. Without a physical presence in the classroom, the professor at Fordham University wondered how he would keep his students' attention. He wasn't sure how to use the music videos he had played live in class. He knew it was important to keep students' spirits up as they struggled to adjust from in-person courses on a campus of friends to the isolation of distance learning. 

So he filmed himself rapping. His material included odes to social distancing, hand-washing and self-quarantining.

He is not the fastest rapper, but his rhymes mostly work. And his students seem to appreciate the lengths he is willing to get a laugh. 

Imani Del Valle, a senior at the university in the Bronx in New York City, said Naison was one of few among her professors who acknowledged the anxiety students face.

As for the rapping videos, "they actually make you laugh, and I think that's what we kind of all need right now with everything going on," she said.

That "everything" for students such as Del Valle includes transitioning to a new class format they hadn't anticipated at the semester's beginning, as well as dealing with the general distress caused by the spread of the coronavirus. She lives in New York City, one of the areas hit hardest by the outbreak. 

The USA counted more than 144,000 cases of coronavirus by Monday afternoon, the world's highest total, and there were more than 2,500 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard.

In early March, colleges across the country canceled in-person classes en masse, mostly switching to digital courses.  

For many of those colleges, the first week was anything but smooth. Along with the transition to digital classes, universities told students to clear the dorms. Many scrapped traditional grades in favor of some form of pass-fail. Graduation ceremonies are canceled or postponed. 

Instructors may deal with new technologies and ways of teaching that leave them uncomfortable. Their students are very likely spread across multiple time zones, which can make scheduling a challenge. Some students lack decent internet connections or up-to-date technology.

The result is not necessarily the best example of online learning – distance courses, like in-person classes, take months to plan effectively. Perfect or not, it's the reality of pursuing a college degree for millions of students. 

The future of college: Colleges scrambled to react to the pandemic. Now, their very existence is in jeopardy

In one online class, a yellow cat

Friday morning, five College of William and Mary students – some of them in focus, others a bit blurry – followed along via Zoom as Professor David Feldman drew economic models on a whiteboard. He asked periodically if the class could see the board. They nodded yes as he continued drawing. 

Watching Feldman alone was like being in any college classroom in America. Then, on one of the students' screens, a door slowly swung open. A furry yellow cat popped into the student's lap. 

Hardly anyone noticed, and the rest of Feldman's lecture went off without a hitch. Students were even able to break off into digital groups to talk about local and national economies. 

Zoom has an option to ping the instructor, a digital raising of the hand. Most of the students opted instead to raise their hands in real life. Feldman could spot them easily.

After an hour, their cameras snapped off. For Feldman, digital lectures allow him to provide almost all the information he would have been able to share in person. That's not representative of higher education as a whole, he acknowledged.A dance or auto mechanic class, for example, wouldn't translate in the same way. 

Some have suggested, he said, this may be a time to determine how effective higher education is at teaching students online, but that would be a mistake. The circumstances are extreme, and most professors have had only days or a couple of weeks to prepare for the change. What's more, any suggestion that switching to online classes will save universities money is incorrect.

For one, they still have to pay tenured professors such as Feldman toteach the classes. It also costs universities money to afford the infrastructure to roll out the classes. 

"The quality is going to go down, and the cost is going to go up," he said. 

Pornography on a class screen

If Feldman's class is the best-case example, then the worst might be student Ian Castle's experience during an online class from the State University of New York at Albany.

He was unsure of what to expect for his course, "Information in the 21st Century," but it quickly became clear putting the course online would be a problem. 

Within Zoom, he said, someone had posted pornography on a shared screen. Racial slurs followed shortly after. The person responsible remained disruptive, Castle said, by swearing and harassing students in the chat channel. Eventually, the professor gave up. About 15 minutes in, she apologized and canceled the class. 

"I'm really frustrated because it kind of seemed like we're back in middle school," Castle  said. "It was just frustrating that one to two students, or however many were doing it, were ruining it for a whole class." 

Experiences such as Castle's have been reported at universities nationally. Zoom published a guide to stave off bad behavior. Castle's class meets only once a week. He said his mother taught him to view every class as a portion of the tuition paid, so he feels cheated out of both instructional time and money. (The professor later sent out a recording of the lecture.)

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist, a spokesman for the university, said it was aware of a class disrupted by racial slurs, and its IT department was working to identify the person responsible. The university changed the default settings on Zoom sessions and instructed faculty to make sure only students have access to the classes. 

"For context, we have about 1,000 scheduled classes on Tuesdays this semester, Carleo-Evangelist said. "Given the short turnaround, we are incredibly proud of how well our faculty have risen to the unprecedented challenge of so quickly converting their classes to remote instruction." 

Castle, like many students, said he learns more from in-person instruction. He misses being with his friends and taking advantage of campus amenities. He and his girlfriend had just started attending the gym regularly, and now they're trying workarounds at home such as pushups. For weights, he turns to his textbooks. 

Though he is frustrated, Castle said he realizes his situation may be one of the easier ones to handle.

"I imagine there's a lot of students who, although they can afford going to college, cannot afford things such as WiFi, a laptop, a nice pair of headphones, or who don't even have access to a quiet place to study," he said.

Juggling child care, missing graduations

Beyond technical challenges are the disruptions to a person's life caused by the coronavirus.

Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, an English professor at Arizona State University, said many of the institution's students work in the service industry and are out of work as a result of the virus.

One of her students said her child was suddenly trying to learn at home. The student joked she didn't know who would pass their classes, her or her 6-year-old. 

Part of making things more bearable for students is altering the expectations for what they need to do. Fonseca-Chávez was teaching a graduate-level course this semester that met only once a week for three hours. She knew that was not going to work online. 

"That seems awful to put it very bluntly," she said. "Both for the students and for myself." 

She shifted some of their discussions of literary texts to online message boards. Presentations that were meant to be in front of the class have been shortened significantly. 

For the most part, the students seem to grasp the tweaks to the class, she said. One emailed her to ask if she was using the course's message boards correctly. 

"I said, 'Really, I'm just looking for the best that you can give right now.' We can't have the same expectations of them," Fonseca-Chávez said. "You know, our world is a little bit turned upside down right now." 

Del Valle, the Fordham senior, is also adjusting. She lives with her father, mother and three siblings, which can be hectic. Her mother is also in college, and she hasn't handled the transition to digital classes as well. 

"I'm like a tech expert for her," Del Valle said. 

She assumed the transition to digital classes would be simple for her and her peers, since they grew up familiar with video chat technology. The challenge, she said, is relying on the programs to work or finding a decent internet connection. 

This is Del Valle's last year of undergraduate studies, and it's unclear whether the university will host its commencement ceremony.

Normally, Del Valle, 21, would be on campus enjoying the last few weeks of the semester. Instead, she is at home. Amid stay-at-home orders and a tanking economy, her plans for the future, possibly graduate school and moving to Virginia with her fiance, are on hold. She lamented that she can't attend events such as job fairs on campus that might have offered her a sense of what she could do next. 

"You can't relive your last semester of your senior year," she said. "I've just been sitting here in my room thinking of all the times I took for granted." 

Will small colleges make it? They were already on the brink. Now, they're threatened by coronavirus

Education coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation does not provide editorial input.

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