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RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – THE TOP 10!

THE TOP 10!!! These are the cream of the crop in my opinion and the most elite of the elite. What’s interesting about this group is the history they are all chasing. Of the top-10 coaches, there are 5 who have won national championships. Those 5 are Bob Stoops, Dabo Swinney, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Even though they’ve won national titles, they are chasing history in their own way. For Swinney is the prospect of becoming one of the greatest head coaches of all time. For Fisher it’s to stand side by side with Bobby Bowden in Florida State history. For Stoops it is trying to get back to what he achieve in 2000. For Meyer and Saban, their chase is for the crown of greatest college football head coach of all time. I’m of the opinion that Saban already holds the that crown surpassing Bear Bryant, but if there is a coach who could challenge Saban, it’s Urban Meyer. For the 5 guys on this list that haven’t won a national title, you can be sure they know it’s the last thing they need to accomplish to cement their legacy. The previous rankings can be found in the following links:

#50-#65
#40-#49
#30-#39
#20-#29
#11-#19

#10 – Bobby Petrino – Louisville

While it’s certainly permissible to question his off-field behavior, there is simply no questioning what Bobby Petrino can do on the field. He took Louisville to national championship contender the first go around with the Cardinals. He did the same with Arkansas. Now that he’s back in the ‘Ville, he tied Clemson for the ACC Atlantic division championship and had Louisville not lost to Clemson, then the Cardinals would have been the ones playing for the ACC Championship and the Clemson dream season would never have happened. That was year 3 and he’s already ahead of Florida State! Only Clemson and Florida St. have won more games than the Redbirds the past 3 seasons among ACC teams. Only Clemson & FSU has a better conference record. Recruiting has jumped about 10 spots already from the time Petrino took over until now. His foray into the NFL was a disaster and his questionable conduct at Arkansas was a bit concerning to say the least but Petrino has reinvented himself at Louisville and once again is proving to be one of the very best college football coaches in the nation! With Lamar Jackson returning next year, Louisville should be in the national championship hunt.

#9 – Jim McElwain – Florida

Some might think this is too high for McElwain but in his first two years in Gainesville he’s gone 19-8 with a conference mark of 13-3 winning two SEC East division titles with the Gators finishing the 2016 season ranked 14th! What’s remarkable about Florida in McElwain’s first couple of seasons is that they’ve been winning this much without any QB play. In his first season, McElwain had deal with Will Grier getting injured and then relying upon Treon Harris who should have never been under center. Last season he had to rely on a Purdue transfer who couldn’t find playing time with the Boilermakers! That same Purdue squad who has a record of 8-28 over the last 3 years! McElwain is an offensive guy so my guess is that it’s only a matter of time before Florida starts playing the kind of offense McElwain wants. They’ll always be outstanding defensively because of the athletes the Gators can attract to campus. What McElwain has accomplished with having to build up the program the way he wants it is incredible. Granted, they’ve been dominated in the SEC Championship game and the SEC East hasn’t exactly been fantastic, but I think that is more of a reflection on missed opportunity for teams like Tennessee, Georgia & South Carolina than it is on McElwain taking advantage of a weakened division. McElwain is starting to dominate recruiting too and Gators fans can be rest assured that McElwain won’t leave Gainesville for Ohio.

#8 – David Shaw – Stanford

Frankly this might too low for Shaw. Jim Harbaugh might have laid the foundation for the Cardinal in recent times, but what Shaw has done since taking over the program is nothing short of incredible. In his 6 seasons in Pao Alto, Stanford has won 4 Pac 12 North division titles. They’ve won 3 Pac 12 championships. They are a perfect 3-0 in the Rose Bowl and they’ve been to 4 BCS bowls. Shaw is on a 3-bowl game winning streak and in 5 of this 6 years the Cardinal have never finished below 12th in the final AP Rankings with 3 seasons in the top-10! He’s consistently bringing in top-20 classes which is incredible given the academic restrictions that Stanford is under. Even in his worst season, 2014, Shaw still guided Stanford to an 8-5 season with a bowl victory! Stanford had a little trouble getting started last year but finished the year on a 6-game winning streak to get to 10-3 which was the 5th time in 6 years Shaw had Stanford with double-digit wins. Shaw’s 64 wins in 6-years is Stanford’s greatest run in Cardinal football history! It’s going to be interesting going forward with Stanford and Shaw. The Cardinal lost to both Washington & Washington St. last season and Chris Petersen and Mike Leach aren’t going anywhere. I’m a HUGE fan of Gary Andersen at Oregon St. and the Oregon Ducks bring in a guy in Willie Taggart who at the VERY LEAST will have Oregon as one of the most talented teams in the nation. USC is starting to flex and Mike MacIntyre put the Pac 12 on notice last season. The Pac 12 is changing and it’ll be great to see how Shaw adjusts to the changes.

#7 – Bob Stoops – Oklahoma

Arguably the most underappreciated football coach in America. The last two seasons Bob Stoops has lead the Sooners to a 22-4 mark with a 17-1 conference record. He’s won the Big XII both years. He’s finished #5 in the AP poll both years. Got to the college football playoffs in 2015 and then won the Orange Bowl last year with a convincing 35-19 win over Auburn. All of that winning and Stoops still gets flack for not having Oklahoma where they need to be! What’s hurt Stoops in recent times is his inability to win big time games. It’s unfortunate that Stoops won a national title in Norman in his 2nd year back in 2000 because since then the expectation has been a national championship (as it should be at Oklahoma) but the Sooners have come up empty over the last 16 seasons! That’s a long time to wait when you are an Oklahoma fan. Oklahoma did play for the national title in 2004 and 2008 but the Sooners were hammered in the Orange Bowl in 2004 by USC 55-19, and then in 2008 Tim Tebow got the better of them in Urban Meyer’s 2nd national championship. The other knock on Stoops is that he hasn’t recruited at an extraordinarily high level the past few years (although his 2017 class is a top-10 class) and the Big XII has the perception of being “weak” which hurts Stoops to a degree because he’s the big fish in a relatively small pond. I’m not sure I buy into either excuses, but getting hammered early last year by Ohio State wasn’t a good look and Texas hasn’t given Oklahoma too much competition in the Big XII for quite awhile now. Stoops makes a VERY compelling case to be #3 on this list and #7 does seem a bit low to me, but he ended 2016 on an incredible note and the 2017 recruiting was fantastic. Stoops could very well creep back into top-3 status sooner rather than later.

#6 – Jim Harbaugh – Michigan

The last 3 coaches before Jim Harbaugh had the following first 2-seasons record at Michigan:

Brady Hoke: 19-7
Rich Rodriguez: 8-16
Lloyd Carr: 17-8

Jim Harbaugh in his first two seasons has gone 20-6 with back to back double digit win seasons! The only other Michigan HC in Wolverines football history to begin his career with back to back double digit win seasons was Fielding Yost who posted back to back 11-0 seasons back in 1901-1902! What Harbaugh has done at Michigan is nothing short of spectacular. Rich Rodriguez was a complete mess. Brady Hoke was lost and terrible once he got his own players to Ann Arbor. I’m a big Lloyd Carr fan, but outside of the national championship team Michigan had in 1997 where they went 12-0, Carr never had a team lose less than 2 games. Carr also lost more bowl games than he won and in his last 7 bowl games, Carr’s Wolverines teams were 2-5! Harbaugh has come in to one of the most significant, historically relevant programs in college football history, that hadn’t been relevant in almost 20 years and immediately made them a top-5 team. His last two recruiting classes have both been top-5 classes. Michigan is now competing with Alabama, Ohio St., USC, Florida, Florida St., and Clemson for recruits. Some might think ranking Harbaugh at #6 could be a bit too high too fast, but look at his track record at Stanford. Look what he did at San Francisco? Sure he hasn’t won the Big 10 East yet. He hasn’t beaten Ohio St. yet either, but Harbaugh’s entrance into the Big 10 made the Big 10 East immediately the best division in college football with the best rivalry now being amped up to all time historical levels. He’s a master motivator and is just getting started. If he can post back to back 10-3 seasons without any firm foundation in place, what is Michigan football going to look like when Harbaugh has the program firing on all cylinders?

#5 – Chris Petersen – Washington

I think some people thought Petersen might struggle a bit at Washington after leaving the comfortable confines of Boise. Dan Hawkins couldn’t make it work at Colorado after he left Boise State. Dirk Koetter had a much tougher road at Arizona State after leaving Boise State although Koetter has reinvented himself and is now the HC of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has the Bucs close to playoff contention. The same struggle was thought to follow Petersen to Seattle. Most thought Petersen would turn out well, but that it might take a few years…..yeah it took 3. Petersen’s first two years with the Huskies saw Washington go a combined 15-12 with back-to-back 4-5 conference seasons. In Year 3, Washington would finish the season 12-1 (8-1) with a Pac 12 North division championship, a Pac 12 outright championship and a spot in the college football playoff. The playoff wasn’t spectacular as UW lost to Alabama 24-7, but to be honest, Washington played a pretty tight game against the Crimson Tide despite losing the game. Recruiting is improving under Petersen although it’s always going to be hard to pull kids into dreary Seattle over hot spots like USC, Florida, Florida St., Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Miami-FL, Texas, LSU, UCLA, Tennessee, Arizona State, Arizona and South Carolina. And that isn’t mentioning traditional powerhouse football teams with less than ideal locations such as Penn St., Ohio St., Michigan, and Notre Dame. With that said, Washington should be able to push their recruiting into the top-20 range annually without a problem and that is more than enough talent for Petersen to win and win big with. I think Rick Neuheisel and Don James showed that the Huskies could be relevant on the national stage and Washington is one of those teams that makes college football better when they are winning. The Pac 12 is changing a bit with a lot of incoming young talent as head coaches so Petersen has his work cut out for him, but he’s got Washington ahead of schedule and I don’t think they’ll regress. Washington should be as good or better in 2017 as they were in 2016.

#4 – Jimbo Fisher – Florida State

It’s easy to forget now that Fisher has the Seminoles back at the apex of college football that in Bobby Bowden’s last 5 years as HC, Florida St. posted a combined record of 38-27, finishing outside the final AP-Top 25 in 3 of those 5 seasons and having a losing bowl record of 2-3. Recruiting was way down and some thought that Bobby Bowden was finished and the FSU program along with him. Bowden was finished, but Florida St. wasn’t. Fisher stepped in immediately and led FSU to a 10-4 season, won the ACC Atlantic division title and got a bowl win, giving FSU their first double digit win season in 6 years! Fisher would win the ACC in Year 3. He’d win a national title in Year 4 and play for a another national title in Year 5! Bowden’s last 5 years in Tallahassee saw the ‘Noles go 38-27, but Fisher’s first 5 years in Tallahassee would see FSU post a 58-11 record with a national title and 3 ACC titles! The turnaround was absolutely stunning and put Florida St. back into the ELITE of the ELITE category. Recruiting soared and Fisher has the program humming with no let up in sight. One of the biggest clues that show how good a place FSU is in under Fisher is their last two seasons. Florida St. has had back to back 10-3 seasons finishing #14 in 2015 and #8 in 2016. Those are great if not spectacular seasons, but at this point in Fisher’s tenure, they seem like rebuilding seasons for FSU or disappointing seasons. When you average being a borderline top-10 over a 2-year period and it’s looked at as disappointing, you know you have expectations at an all time high, and Fisher knows he can meet those expectations!

#3 – Dabo Swinney – Clemson

It’s almost impossible to argue Swinney’s success. I’m trying to keep my analysis to the past 5 years and Swinney has enough success those 5 years, but if we stretch Swinney out to his last 6 years, he’s led Clemson to a 70-13 record including a 6-2 bowl record, a national championship, 2 national championship game appearances, 3 ACC championships and 4 ACC Atlantic division titles! It’s a better resume than anyone not named Nick Saban and Swinney can certainly stack up well with Urban Meyer. He has shown he can recruit top-5 classes to Clemson meaning there doesn’t seem to be any weaknesses to Swinney’s arsenal when it comes to head coaching college football. He’s leaped Jimbo Fisher in the ACC Atlantic which is no small feat and he’s keeping Bobby Petrino at bay, which again is no small feat. Swinney was also able to avenge his 2015 championship game loss to Alabama by besting the Tide in 2016 behind QB Deshaun Watson. Swinney has 6 straight 10+ win seasons at Clemson which is a school record. I’d also say that this year Swinney passed Danny Ford as the greatest football coach in Clemson history. The only question now facing Swinney has he moves forward is sustaining that success. The way you become legendary is winning multiple championships the way Nick Saban and Urban Meyer have been able to do. Note that Bob Stoops couldn’t do it. Mack Brown couldn’t do it. Jimbo Fisher hasn’t done it. Jim Tressel couldn’t do it. Steve Spurrier couldn’t do it. Lou Holtz couldn’t do it. It’s not easy. Winning a championship to begin with isn’t easy, but Swinney has about as much momentum going forward as I’ve ever seen and it’ll be interesting going forward to see how much he goes after a historical legacy. He’s a great head football coach. Is he an all-time great?

#2 – Urban Meyer – Ohio State

Speaking of all-time greats……it’s one thing for Dabo Swinney to pass up Danny Ford as Clemson’s best coach of all time. It’s quite another for Urban Meyer to be on pace to make people forget about the legendary Woody Hayes. Meyer has been in Columbus for 5 seasons guiding the Buckeyes after he left a Florida Gators program he won two national championships with. In those 5 seasons, Ohio St. is 61-6 including 3 perfect Big 10 seasons, one perfect season, a national championship, 5 Big 10 division titles and one outright Big 10 championship. In Woody Hayes’s first 5 seasons the Buckeyes were 33-11-2 with one national championship and 2 Big 10 titles. It’s comparable but I’d say Meyer has Woody. It’s hard to knock Meyer’s success. It’s incredible and he’s VERY DESERVING of being #2 on this list. Ohio St. is a machine at this point and there isn’t a team in America that out-recruits Ohio St. other than Alabama, and even then I’d say the Buckeyes Tide have equal talent. The one knock I have on Meyer is that I think he ran from Saban when Saban took over Alabama. I think this is incredible strategy by Meyer, but it also shows to me why you can never put Meyer ahead of Nick Saban unless Meyer just hammers him head-to-head 3-4 times in national championship games. Meyer took over Florida in 2005. Saban’s last year at LSU was 2004 and remember that Saban won a national title in Baton Rouge in 2003. So Meyer came into Florida without Saban at Alabama and the Mad Hatter at LSU. Fullmer goes 5-6 at Tennessee in 2005 and Mark Richt is in Georgia, but he’s not much of a problem for Meyer. Kentucky & Vanderbilt aren’t issues and South Carolina had just hired Steve Spurrier and it’ll take the Ol Ball Coach a little bit of time to get the Gamecocks rolling. Meyer recruits arguably the greatest college football player in history (Tim Tebow) and wins national championships in 2006 and 2008. Saban comes back to Alabama in 2007. Meyer couldn’t have known this. It takes Saban a season to get Alabama rolling but in Year 2, Saban has the Tide at 12-0 and playing for an SEC championship. Tebow is a junior at this time and in the SEC Championship game, Florida beats Alabama 31-20 although Alabama held a 20-17 lead going into the 4th quarter. In 2009, Timmy Tebow is a senior and Florida is expected to win a national championship giving Tebow 3 in 4 years. Florida goes 12-0, but so does Alabama. They meet in the SEC Championship game and instead of Tebow willing Florida to another win, Alabama DESTROYS Florida 32-13 on their way to Saban’s first national title with the Tide. Without Tebow in 2010, Florida slides to 8-5 and takes another beating at the hands of Alabama 31-6 in regular season play. Urban leaves Florida citing health reasons or family reasons or some combination of the two. It’s suspect timing because Alabama would win 2 of the next 3 national championship games with Auburn winning the other. Of course, a year later Urban Meyer takes over the Ohio State team which is conveniently in a conference without Nick Saban.

It’s an interesting story and probably 100% conjecture although it does make some sense. The irony of course is that Meyer comes to the Big 10 East where in 2012, the conference is in turmoil so to speak. Michigan is somewhat of a joke now that they’ve gone through the Rich Rodriguez era and Brady Hoke is screwing up. Penn State is a complete mess due to the Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky scandal that is erupting. Bo Pellini can’t get Nebraska figured out and Ohio St. finds itself in the Big 10 Leaders division with Indiana, Illinois & Purdue! Sure Wisconsin is around, but as good as the Badgers are, Meyer has to know that Wisconsin could NEVER keep up with the influx of talent to Columbus with how Meyer recruits. The problem is that it doesn’t stay that way. Two years later the Big 10 welcomes in Maryland & Rutgers and the divisions change. Michigan & Michigan St. come over to the Big 10 East while Wisconsin changes to the Big 10 West. Penn St. rights the ship quick with Bill O’Brien before turning it over to James Franklin. Mark Dantonio is now in the same division as Meyer and lo and behold, Michigan brings in Jim Harbaugh! The Big 10 Leaders division goes from being a laughing stock division that Ohio St. could have dominated for decades to the Big 10 East which is now arguably the most difficult division to play in with 4 of the best head coaches in all of college football.

This bites Meyer a bit. Ohio St. was ineligible for postseason play in 2012, but in 2013 Ohio St. loses the Big 10 championship to Mark Dantonio and Michigan State. In 2014 Ohio St. does manage to win the national championship in the first ever football playoff scenario beating Alabama 42-35 in the semifinals before beating Oregon, but in 2015 they miss the Big 10 title game because of a tie-breaker loss to Michigan St. and last year they miss the Big 10 title game again due to a tie-breaker loss to Penn State! They get to the playoffs last season, but are humiliated by Clemson 31-0 in the semifinal game. Luckily Ohio St. didn’t draw Alabama because shades of 2008-2009 come to mind if that scenario played out again. Saban would have remembered and the outcome for Ohio St., like it was for Florida, wouldn’t have been pretty. I write all of this not to cast doubt on Meyer’s legitimacy. He’s an all-time great legendary coach. Everyone agrees, but I think an overlooked aspect of Meyer’s career is that he’s been fairly strategic in trying to put himself into the best place possible. You can’t knock him on that. Opportunity doesn’t come often and he’s taken advantage of that opportunity by helping it with putting himself in the right situations. That and winning Tebow from Mike Shula during Tebow’s recruitment has done wonders for Meyer’s status.

#1 – Nick Saban – Alabama

G.O.A.T! He’ll eventually tie or pass Bear Bryant’s record of 6 national championships. Saban already has 5 and to be honest he’s probably the greatest coach in Alabama and LSU history. Hell he might be the greatest coach in Michigan State history as well! Saban has been at Alabama now for 10 seasons. In those 10 seasons he’s gone 119-19! The man has averaged 12 wins per season for a decade! He’s won 4 national championships, 6 SEC Championships, 8 SEC West championships and has finished ranked in the AP top-10 for the last 9 consecutive seasons! This doesn’t even account for the national championship he won at LSU, the SEC championship he won at LSU or the 3 SEC West titles he won at LSU. Saban has also won 8 bowl games in this 10 years in Tuscaloosa. Nobody can out-recruit the Tide & Saban. He deals with a lot of coordinator turnover because everyone wants his coordinators to take over their teams! Jim McElwain was his OC. Now he’s the HC at Florida! Kirby Smart was his DC. Now he’s the HC at Georgia! Lane Kiffin was a former HC for USC, Tennessee and the Oakland Raiders and spent the last few seasons as Saban’s OC! Mark Dantonio was on Saban’s staff for 5 years at Michigan St. and he’s now the HC at Michigan State! Jimbo Fisher was on Saban’s staff at LSU. He’s the HC now at Florida State! The one constant is Nick Saban himself. We could go on and on about his accolades but they’ll all point to the same conclusion. Nick Saban is the best football coach in college football right now. He’s also the greatest college football coach to ever live.

May 27, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Big 10, Big XII, Clemson, Coaching, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Michigan, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, Stanford, Washington | Leave a comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #19 to #11

Now we are inside the top-20! What’s interesting about these guys to me is that all of them could make moves that would land them inside the top-10 if they had a championship caliber season, which for most of them is the last hurdle they need to overcome to get into that very elite category. As I wrote previously picking from #19 to #11 is probably based more on preference, but if you keep reading, there are some very interesting story lines with these guys that could affect their rankings going forward. Every coach/team mentioned here definitely has a story line that will be scrutinized in 2017. If you need to catch up, here are the links the previous articles in this series:

#50-#65
#49-#40
#39-#30
#29-#20

#19 – Bill Snyder – Kansas State

Coach Snyder is a tough one to rank because on the one hand you can argue he’s one of the all time great coaches in college football history. He’s unique in that he got the Kansas State job and kept it for as long as he wanted. He even came back after leaving at the conclusion of the 2005 season. In today’s football world, a coach at a school like Kansas St. would have bolted for another opportunity if they had had the success that Snyder has had at KSU. From 1995-2000, Snyder posted a 63-12 record with a 39-8 mark in Big XII play which included 3 Big XII North titles. Any other coach would have bolted for Georgia or Clemson or Auburn or Miami-FL. What keeps Snyder a bit lower is that he hasn’t won a ton at Kansas St. nationally. He’s never won a national championship. He’s only won the Big XII twice in 25 years of coaching. He’s 8-10 in bowl games. That mostly speaks to the ceiling of Kansas St. football. Snyder came back to Manhattan because Ron Prince lowered the standards. Snyder raised them again, but he can’t quite get KSU to national prominence. His hope was that Prince could do it. His hope when he retires is that the Wildcats get it right the 2nd time.

#18 – Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

Gundy might be underrated by a long shot. Remember that Gundy has to go up against Oklahoma within his own state and Texas in his own region. Those are two college football Goliaths that are almost impossible to beat on the recruiting trail yet Gundy over the last 7 seasons has failed to win at least 10 games only twice. Gundy is coming off back to back 10-3 seasons and has posted 10-3 seasons in 3 of the past 4 years. Gundy almost won a national championship in 2011. If the Cowboys don’t completely blow it late in the year against Iowa St., then they would have played LSU in the national championship game that year instead of Alabama. The Tide beat LSU 21-0 in a revenge game after LSU beat the Tide earlier 9-6 in Tuscaloosa, but you’d have to think Oklahoma St. would have had a good shot at upending the Bayou Bengals. Oklahoma St. finished #3 in the rankings, but you have to wonder where the program could have been catapulted to had they brought home a national championship. What sticks out about Gundy to me as well is that he almost accomplished what Jimmy Johnson thought was impossible with Oklahoma State, namely winning a title. Gundy is about as Oklahoma St. as you can possibly get. He’ll be there forever if he wants and I can’t see him leaving which makes him quite a bit like Bill Snyder. Because of 2011, I’m not sure there is a ceiling to OK State football, so it’ll be interesting to see if Gundy can get over the hump and win a title.

#17 – Gus Malzahn – Auburn

It’s easy to forget that Malzahn led War Eagle to a national championship game his first season as head coach of the Tigers. That was a tall order beating a Jameis Winston led Florida St. squad so you can’t exactly blame him for losing. Malzahn has caught quite a bit of heat the past couple of seasons because he hasn’t replicated the success of that 12-2 squad from 2013. Malzahn is an offensive savant, but people forget just how good Auburn’s defense was in 2013. They didn’t create a lot of turnovers but they got after the ball quite a bit with quite a few sacks and tackles for loss. The O-line was dominant giving Tre Mason & Nick Marshall plenty of room to run. The defense & O-Line took a step back in 2014 and in 2015 Malzahn really didn’t have a QB as Jeremy Johnson wasn’t the answer. He entered 2016 with the same problems and Auburn struggled early, but when Auburn finally settled on Sean White, they reeled off 6 straight wins and won 6 of 7 after starting 1-2. The season didn’t end well with losses to Alabama & Oklahoma, but losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa is hardly cause for concern and by season’s end Oklahoma was a top-5 team. Malzahn recruits extremely well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auburn really take off. Malzahn has his system in place and there is loads of talent here. Sean White is the unquestioned starter now and I”m willing to bet that Auburn gets back to double digit wins. In the SEC West, that is an incredible coaching job.

#16 – Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern

What Fitzgerald has done at Northwestern is nothing short of amazing. Over this last 9 seasons, he’s lead the Wildcats to 7 bowl games. In the 114 seasons before Fitzgerald got to Evanston, Northwestern played in a total of 6 bowl games! It’s almost impossible for Northwestern to recruit on any major level unless some kids simply want to wind up in Evanston or have ties to Northwestern. While the Wildcats might not necessarily have it as bad as Vanderbilt because the Commodores play in the SEC, that might change given how good the coaching in the Big 10 is getting. I guess it could be worse and Northwestern could be in the Big 10 East, but Nebraska, Wisconsin & Iowa are pretty darn good. Lovie Smith is recruiting better to Illinois and Purdue & Minnesota just hired solid young coaches. It’ll be interesting to see how Fitzgerald adjusts to an influx of talent in the coaching ranks. He’s never gotten Northwestern to the Rose Bowl the way Gary Barnett was able to but he’s won 10 games in 2 of the past 5 years. Regardless of what happens around him, I have a feeling that Fitzgerald is going to keep winnings games. One thing I do want to mention about Fitzgerald and Northwestern is that if I had to pick any place for my son to go to college and play football, Northwestern would be in the discussion along with Michigan and Stanford. There really isn’t a better compliment to pay a head coach.

#15 – James Franklin – Penn State

From semi-mess to Rose Bowl in 3-years!? Franklin has more than earned ranking this high even if hadn’t took the Nittany Lions to a Big 10 championship in year 3. Franklin didn’t necessarily inherit the mess that descended upon Happy Valley in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but Bill O’Brien was never going to be a long term solution and bolted for the NFL the first chance he got. Franklin didn’t shy away from the task of making Penn St. nationally relevant again and in just 3 years he had the Lions playing the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2008 and ranked inside the top-10 in the final AP poll for the first time since 2009! Franklin recruited at a high level immediately when taking the job, but he’s been able to sustain that success despite having a couple of 7-6 seasons to start his tenure. That success would only seem to increase the more Franklin wins because as a football purist, there isn’t many places more special to play than at Penn State! The only wild thing about Frankin’s success will be his ability to keep it going. He’s ranked #15 on this list which is fantastic, but he’s just 4th among coaches in the Big 10 East. That division is without a doubt the most feared and difficult division in all off football with Penn St. emerging as a national threat. Michigan St. isn’t always going to have off years and it’ll be intriguing to see what Franklin can do once Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State are firing on all cylinders. I think Franklin can handle the difficulty.

#14 – Kyle Whittingham – Utah

Did you know that Whittingham is 10-1 in bowl games since taking for Urban Meyer as HC of Utah!? That’s downright amazing and if I’m not mistaken that is the best record of any FBS coach in bowl games that have coached at least 6 of them. All Whittingham does is win football games, but what is most impressive about him is the transition Utah made into the Pac 12. In their last 3 years in the Mountain West, Whittingham guided the Utes to a 33-6 record including their perfect 13-0 year in 2008 which saw Utah finished ranked #2 in the nation! The transition to the Pac 12 was never going to be easy and Utah took some lumps early going 9-18 in conference play in their first 3 seasons. Their next 3 seasons have seen a complete turnaround as Utah has posted a 28-11 record from 2014-2016 with a conference mark of 16-11, winning a share of the Pac 12 South in 2015. A by product of playing in a better conference and winning is that recruiting has massively improved for the Utes since 2014 and the program has a lot more talent on hand to compete with other Pac 12 schools. Last season Utah almost broke through expoentially. The Utes finished 9-4 with a bowl win over Indiana, but their 4 losses came by a total of 19 points! The year before (2015) Utah finished 10-3 with 2 of their losses coming by a combined 15 points. Utah & Whitingham win their fair share of close games as well, but winning a lot more of those games than you lose is a clear indicated of a great coach, which is exactly what Whittingham is.

#13 – Mark Richt – Miami-FL

Richt is another tricky coach because of perception versus reality. There is a lot of sentiment that Richt was somewhat of a disappointment at Georgia despite coaching in Athens for 15 years and averaging 10 wins a season while also averaging a 6-2 conference record during those 15 seasons! Did I mention Georgia plays in the SEC? That’s outstanding but at Georgia that’s only close. During those 15 seasons, Richt won just 2 outright SEC titles and hadn’t one one since 2005 when Georgia parted ways with him after the 2015 season. Richt is a tremendous coach and a tremendous recruiter. There can be no doubt about that, but what’s interesting about Richt’s time in college football is that he got to Georgia in 2001. Urban Meyer got to Florida in 2005. Richt won 2 SEC titles from 2001-2005 and 3 SEC East divisions. It’s also worth noting that Nick Saban was at LSU from 2000-2004 and then at Alabama from 2007 to present. Richt is fantastic. Everyone would agree, but Meyer & Saban and absolute Hall of Fame locks. Saban is arguably the greatest college football coach of all time and Meyer is easily in the top-5 if not #2 behind Saban. Richt’s only real crime is being born at the wrong time, between Saban (9-years later) and Meyer (4-years prior). Richt will do an outstanding job at Miami-FL. Recruiting will be fantastic. He already went 9-4 in his first season and came pretty close to winning the ACC Coastal. He’s not in the Atlantic with FSU & Clemson so the real story here is can Richt take Miami-FL a step further than he took Georgia? Do that and he leaps into the top-10 of these rankings. Stay 10-3 every year and Richt is a top-15 coach for sure, but not quite elite of the elite.

#12 – Gary Patterson – Texas Christian

It took Patterson a couple of years to figure out the Big XII, but once he did, the Horned Frogs started dominating in much the same fashion that destroyed the competition in the Mountain West. From 2014-2015, TCU posted a 23-3 record with a couple of top-10 finishes and a share of the Big XII title in 2014. The 2014 season stung a bit as TCU dropped a 3 points game in Waco to Baylor which nailed their coffin for a shot at the college football playoffs. Florida St. was going to be in as they were 13-0 and defending champions. Alabama was 12-1 and SEC Champs. They weren’t being left out regardless. Ohio St. is Ohio State. At 12-1 they weren’t going to be left out. They had won 11 straight games and was coming off a 59-0 beating of Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship. The one team TCU could have argued against is Oregon, but Baylor might have had a better argument as Baylor beat TCU, but the Bears also lost to West Virginia. The thought was that if TCU can’t win the Big XII outright, should they be in the playoffs? I don’t know who they bump out and I don’t know how TCU would have fared, but that was a tremendous team and Patterson showed that he could take TCU from the Big XII and make them legitimate national title contenders. Last year was a bump in the road for Patterson and the Frogs and you could sense some let down after the Trevone Boykin/Aaron Green/Josh Doctson era ended on offense. TCU has a lot coming back in 2017 and my guess is Patterson jumps back into the top-10 of these rankings.

#11 – Mark Dantonio – Michigan State

I think we can all agree that Dantonio is a helluva football coach and is deserving of this ranking and maybe #11 is too low, but I do think there is a trend here that needs to be looked at because it involved Dantonio going forward. Dantonio really started to up his value as a HC starting in 2010 when he led the Spartans to an 11-2 record with a share of the Big 10 title. From 2010 to 2015, Michigan St. went 65-16 (39-9) with 3 Big 10 titles and 3 Big 10 division titles. Sparty won the Rose Bowl in 2013 and finished ranked in the top-14 in five of the 6 seasons and in the top-6 from 2013 to 2015! The 2010 to 2014 era is significant because of what was going on at Michigan during this time. From 2010-2014, the Wolverines were 38-26 (21-19). Michigan wasn’t Michigan in those 5 seasons and historically speaking, Michigan St. took on the role of Michigan while Michigan took on the role of Michigan State. What happened in 2015? Jim Harbaugh showed up in Ann Arbor! You could argue that the 2015 season showed that Dantonio could handle both Ohio State and Michigan, but that is tough because Michigan St. won a road game over Michigan when the Wolverines game it away. They also beat Ohio St. in Columbus in a game they shouldn’t have and then beat Iowa in the Big 10 championship in a game Iowa should have won. The playoffs exposed Michigan St. a bit when Alabama beat them 38-0, but maybe the Tide would have beat Ohio St. and Michigan by 40 points too! The proof might have come in 2016 when Michigan St. fell off considerably and finished 3-9 with a 1-8 mark in Big 10 play which included losses to Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland and Illinois. Winning those games would have pushed MSU to 7-5 potentially which would have gotten them bowl eligible at least with a shot at 8-5.  Maybe Connor Cook was that important!? Recruiting was down in 2017 for the Spartans while Michigan dominated. The trick with Dantonio is staying relevant while Michigan starts to dominate under Harbaugh. I think geography plays a role here. Auburn and Alabama can coexist as superpowers because they are in Alabama and the southeast. Florida and Florida St. can exist because they reside in Florida. The state of Michigan can’t resemble that type if relationship between it’s two football powers. Is Dantonio an outstanding head coach who can weather a bad year and get right back to the top of the Big 10 East or is he merely a solid head coach who took advantage of Michigan being down?

May 20, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Kansas St., Miami-FL, Michigan St., Northwestern, Oklahoma St., Pac 12, Penn St., Rankings, SEC, TCU, Utah | Leave a comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #29 to #20

We are now over half way done with the rankings with 36 college coaches in the books. You can probably say this with some certainty about any particular range of coaches ranked thus far, but I especially thought at this point that putting a coach here or there was especially difficult because it probably comes down to preference. I thought this was interesting in terms of recruiting because at this point in the rankings from #16 or #17 to #29 or #30, it probably comes down to a recruit’s willingness to buy into the system and his potential relationship with the coaching staff. At this point we aren’t talking about a recruit choosing between Alabama & Rutgers. It’s more choosing between Iowa and Mississippi State. There probably isn’t a wrong answer. To get you caught up, here are the links from the coaches ranked lower than #29:

#65-#50
#49-#40
#39-#30

Now let’s kick off with #29!

#29 – Kirby Smart – Georgia

Some might think this is a little too high for Smart given that he just came off his first year as a HC in Athens where the Georgia Bulldogs finished a pedestrian 8-5 with a 4-4 SEC record in an SEC East that was far from stellar, but I’d take the opposite approach and say Smart accomplished a tremendous amount in Year 1. Georgia did drop 3 home games it shouldn’t have (Tennessee, Vanderbilt & Georgia Tech), but those 3 losses turn to wins and UGA is 11-2 and not 8-5. That’s a rough argument because it cuts both ways, but I don’t think Georgia is going to have problems winning home games moving forward. The team played extremely well on the road even with Smart instituting his new defensive schemes with an offense that never really had a settled QB position. Throw in Nick Chubb coming back from injury and 8-5 doesn’t look too bad for a first year guy heading up one of college football’s elite blue bloods.

#28 – Clay Helton – USC

Helton may not have been the obvious pick to take the reigns in Troy, but he’s the right pick. It’s difficult to get a feel for Helton, but how can you argue with the results thus far? USC by year’s end was arguably one of the three best teams in football along with Alabama & Clemson. The Trojans ended the year on a 9-game winning streak that saw them finish the season with a 52-49 win over Penn St. in the Rose Bowl. Washington was fortunate that USC lost out on the Pac 12 South because I thought USC would have beat them in the Pac 12 championship game. All Helton has done over the last 2 seasons is go 15-7 with a conference record of 12-3! USC is also back to full scholarship strength for the most part and Helton is making no bones about cashing in. He’s recruiting at an exceptionally high level. High level recruiting. High level coaching. We are about ready to see some incredible wars between USC & Washington. The Pac 12 is bananas and Helton will climb this list by leaps and bounds after 2017.

#27 – Paul Johnson – Georgia Tech

I feel like this is too low for Johnson because he’s an incredible coach but he has a couple of things working against him. He’s a system guy because he runs that triple option on offense and that is going to have a tendency to play poorly when a new crop of players come in. This is essentially what happened in 2015 when GT finished 3-9. QB Justin Thomas returned, but their two leading RBs were freshman. That changed in 2016 when Marcus Marshall & Clinton Lynch returned, but RB Dedrick Mills turned out to be outstanding which gave Johnson quite a bit to work with. That improved the team and GT went 9-4 with a 6-1 record in their last 7 games including road wins over Virginia Tech & Georgia. Johnson doesn’t recruit the kinds of players that a lot of other schools are able to. He’s still won two ACC Coastal division championships in the last 5 years and the Yellow Jackets are a team nobody wants to face.

#26 – Kirk Ferentz – Iowa

Ferentz is probably underrated here, but you can’t help but be a little disappointed in Iowa every time they look like they are going to turn a corner. In 2015, Iowa had a tremendous year finishing with a perfect regular season but lost the Big 10 championship game to Michigan St. and the Rose Bowl to Stanford to put a black mark on an otherwise outstanding season. They followed that up last year with an 8-5 campaign that should have been 10-3. But we’ve seen this before from Ferentz. Iowa was 31-7 from 2002-2004 but followed those 3-years with a 3-year record of 19-18 from 2005-2007! The Hawkeyes finished 11-2 in 2009 but followed that up with an 8-5 season. Iowa has spurts of greatness but they are never sustained. Given the talent disparity between an Iowa and say a Michigan/Ohio State, what Ferentz has done in Iowa City is spectacular, but for some reason it always seems a bit disappointing. Iowa should win 10 games a year.

#25 – Paul Chryst – Wisconsin

The jury is still out on Chryst at this point, but the early returns are nothing short of incredible. Chyrst took over for Gary Andersen once Andersen bolted for Oregon State and the Badgers haven’t missed a beat. In his two seasons in Madison, Chryst is 21-6 with a Big 10 record of 13-4 with a Big 10 West division title in 2016. Chryst hasn’t had the most stable offensive game plan the last couple of seasons. In 2015 he had to deal with the loss of RB Corey Clement. Last he had to break in a new starting QB when Joel Stave graduated. What has been constant for Chryst is having a TREMENDOUS defense led by great coordinators. Dave Aranda was DC for Chryst in 2015 before bolting for LSU in 2016. In 2016, Chyrst hired Justin Wilcox to be DC, but Wilcox is now the HC for Cal. This year, former Badger Jim Leonard, takes over after having studied under both Aranda & Wilcox. If Chryst turns in another 11-win season, he’ll shoot up these rankings.

#24 – Dana Holgorsen – West Virginia

I’m a big fan of Holgorsen and he has the Mountaineers trending in the right direction. In 2014 WVU went 7-6. They improved to 8-5 a year later before having somewhat of a coming out party last season when they finished 10-3 (7-2) which was the best record West Virginia has had in the Big XII under Holgorsen. The interesting thing to see with Holgorsen is if he can continue the trend. Recruiting has dropped just a bit the last couple of years and it won’t be easy with the Mountaineers losing their starting QB along with a couple of their best defenders. It’s always going to be hard to compete with Oklahoma & Texas in conference play, but Holgorsen should have WVU set up enough that if one of the powers slip up, West Virginia should be right there to take advantage. That’s the key at this point. When does WVU get home games against Oklahoma & Texas in the same year and can they be primed to beat both of them?

#23 – David Cutcliffe – Duke

Last year’s 4-8 (1-7) team was disappointing but the 4-years prior to 2016 saw Duke finish 33-20, win the ACC Coastal once and get to 4-straight bowl games culminating in 2015 with their first bowl win since 1960! Before Cutcliffe came along the Blue Devils had never made it to a bowl game in back-to-back years. Cutcliffe did in back-to-back-to-back-to-back! He’s also been able to sell the football program as Duke has climbed out of the 50s and 60s recruiting rankings into the 30s and 40s. Duke is never going to out-talent anybody and the football team will always play second fiddle to the basketball team, but you can’t dismiss Cutcliffe’s coaching chops at all. Putting this guy at a place like Oregon or Florida would be scary given the resources he’d have to run the program. The ACC is getting tougher, but keep in mind Duke was a bit young last year. Cutcliffe is going to have more experience in 2017 and he’ll get the most out of it.

#22 – Mike Leach – Washington State

The Cougars were a completely mess under Bill Doba and Paul Wulff before the PIRATE took over. All Leach has done is get Wazzou back to a bowl game in his 2nd year and then come within a win over Washington of winning the Pac 12 North in year 5 last season. We shouldn’t be surprised. Leach spent 10 years in Lubbock at Texas Tech where he never posted a losing season and won 8-9 games per season. It took him 3 years to get Washington St. headed in the right direction, but over the last two seasons the team is 17-9 with a conference record of 13-5! Imagine if Leach wasn’t giving away games each season to FCS opponents!? Leach is still having trouble selling Pullman to potential recruits, but he never recruited exceptionally at Texas Tech either and it didn’t seem to matter. You can make a legitimate argument Leach should be much higher. Are there really 21 other coaches you’d rather have than the PIRATE himself?

#21 – Dan Mullen – Mississippi State

I’m only looking at the last 5 years of data for each coach, but it’s impossible ignore what Mullen has done over his team at Mississippi State. His only losing regular season was his first and he’s guided the Bulldogs to 7 straight bowl games. It was amazing how good Dak Prescott ended up for the Cowboys this past season, but what might have been even more impressive is Mullen getting the MSU to a bowl game in the year after Prescott left! Those were enormous shoes to fill and Mullen was still able to get MSU to 6 wins. While he’s never really had Hail State close to competing for a national championship, there have been glimpses. The Bulldogs started the 2012 season off 7-0 and reached #13 before faltering. In 2014, Mississippi St. started the season 9-0 and was ranked #1 before losing at Alabama 25-20. He’s never outrecruited anyone in the SEC West, but MS State keeps winning. There is a reason his name ALWAYS comes up when there is a big time coaching vacancy.

#2o – Brian Kelly – Notre Dame

One thing that stands out about Kelly against his recent predecessors in South Bend was his ability to avoid the bad season. Charlie Weis went 3-9 in 2007. Ty Willingham went 5-7 in 2003. Bob Davie 5-6 in 2001, his last season. But then it happened. Kelly turned in a 4-8 performance last year with HORRIFIC losses to Texas, Duke, NC State, Navy and Virginia Tech. All games the Irish should have won which would have made that 4-8 season a 9-3 season with the potential to get a solid bowl win to finish 10-3. Kelly has to be feeling tremendous heat as HC of the Irish. He’s recruited well, but the on-field results haven’t been good. Notre Dame really hasn’t beaten anyone of note and the championship game they played in against Alabama was a complete and total embarrassment! If Kelly can defend Notre Dame Stadium this fall, the Irish have a real shot at 11-1. Kelly needs it or else ND could be looking elsewhere for a head coach.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Mississippi St., Notre Dame, Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, USC, Washington St., West Virginia, Wisconsin | 1 Comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE COACHES – #39 to #30

Here are the links for the first two installments:

#50 – #65
#49-#40

if you need to catch up. Today we hit the thirties and I think the rankings start to become quite a bit more interesting as we start to hit some pretty big names in the coaching world. Let’s get to it.

#39 – P.J. Fleck – Minnesota

Yeah I’m rowing the boat! It’s difficult to argue Fleck’s track record as a first time head coach at Western Michigan. In his first year he led the Broncos to an 1-11 season. By his 4th year, WMU finished with a perfect 13-0 season before losing to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl 24-16. Western finished 29-11 (20-4) in Fleck’s last 3 years as HC. Fleck brings an excitement to Minnesota that Gophers fans haven’t experienced since Murray Warmath led Minnesota to back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1960-1961! You probably don’t even remember those teams unless you were born in the 1940s or early 1950s! It’s hard to argue with his success, but Fleck faces a completely different animal in the Big 10. Iowa, Nebraska & Wisconsin aren’t Ball St., Kent St. and Bowling Green. It’ll be interesting to see if Fleck can raise the ceiling for Gopher football.

#38 – Tom Herman – Texas

The hottest coaching prospect last season who happened to have deep roots in Texas wound up as the new HC for the Longhorns after the university had had enough of Charlie Strong’s leadership. As with Fleck, it’s almost impossible to deny Herman’s track record. He was Urban Meyer’s OC at Ohio State before jumping to the head coaching job at Houston where in his first season, Herman led the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a final ranking inside the top-10! I think Herman is a better fit within the Texas culture than Strong was and he’ll do well. He’s a good solid coach that connects with players and it won’t be long before he’s tearing it up on the recruiting trail once he gets the foundation of the program built. As with Fleck, the road will be a bit tougher. Playing in the American isn’t the Big XII and instead of Tulane, East Carolina and Memphis, Herman will go up against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., TCU, Baylor and Kansas State.

#37 – Willie Taggart – Oregon

Taggart was an interesting hire for Oregon, but once it was known that Chip Kelly wasn’t coming back to college football, the Ducks had to move on and all Taggart has done as his time as a college football coach is build winners. Taggart played prep ball in Florida and then played his college ball at Western Kentucky where he was an assistant for 8 years before taking the RB coaching job at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh. From there he came back to his alma mater to be HC. He inherited a WKU team that went 0-12 the year before Taggart arrived, but in Taggart’s 2nd year, he had WKU at 7-5. In his 3rd and final year he had WKU bowling. Taggart left WKU to return to his home state of Florida and coach USF where he took over a Bulls team that went 3-9 before he arrived. By year 4 the Bulls were 11-2. Now he is going to attempt to bring Oregon back to the heights reached by Chip Kelly. Unlike Herman & Fleck above, Taggart has hit the recruiting trail hard and it is paying off early. It’ll be interesting to see how Taggart does at an elite program with massive resources. His track record speaks for itself.

#36 – Bret Bielema – Arkansas

The decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas was an interesting one for Bielema a few years ago and after the Hogs 2016 campaign, the shine is off of Arkansas’s head coach. Bielema took over a program that was in pretty bad shape after a year of John Smith as HC coming off the Bobby Petrino scandal. Bielema’s first year wasn’t pretty as Arkansas went 3-9 without a win in conference play, but by year 3 (2015), Arkansas 8-5 (5-3) and poised to potentially step into the role of challenger to Alabama in the SEC West. It wasn’t meant to be as Arkansas regressed last season to 7-6 (3-5) with a bowl loss. The 7-6 isn’t completely awful, but the losses were terrible. Arkansas was blown out in all of their losses except a close loss to Missouri which itself was inexcusable. I’m not completely sold on Bielema’s style of offense working in the SEC West, and truth be told, the worst thing for Bielema is having to live up the incredible expectations Bobby Petrino set when he was in Fayetteville. LSU has been dealing with a similar situation after Nick Saban took the Tigers to top-5 status.

#35 – Gary Andersen – Oregon State

Andersen is one of my favorite head coaches in college football and Oregon St. is one of my favorite teams. The two coming together was great for me as I think college football is better when Oregon State is relevant. That’s probably just me, but so what! It’s interesting that I ended up with Bielema and Andersen together as both left Wisconsin for other jobs. Andersen is a helluva head coach. He turned Utah State into an 11-win team with a WAC championship in 4 season. He took Wisconsin to a Big 10 West title in his 2nd year. When Mike Riley left Oregon St. for Nebraska, their was quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Beavers program. Andersen came in and struggled his first year going 2-10 (0-9) but in his 2nd season last year, the Beavers improved to 4-8 (3-6) with conference wins over California, Arizona and hated rival Oregon! The scoring defense and scoring offense were also improved by 7 points each. The Pac 12 North is getting scary good with Chris Petersen doing work at Washington, Mike Leach winning at Washington St. and Willie Taggart taking over at Oregon, but something tells me Andersen is going to make life hard for those guys.

#34 – Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech

Absolutely love what Fuente did with the Hokies last season. Fuente had a lot of success at Memphis before taking the Virginia Tech job, but he’s been nothing but spades since landing in Blacksburg. Keeping Bud Foster on staff as DC was a genius move and speaks volumes as to the kind of man Foster is. Fuente also brought a run heavy attack to Virginia Tech which I think works in their favor. The Hokies have always been known under Bud Foster for having a very intimidating, turnover causing, very fast defense that hits exceptionally hard. Keeping those guys fresh and healthy by dominating time of possession is outstanding strategy that Fuente used last year to win the ACC Coastal in his first season where VT finished the year 10-4 and ranked #16 in the AP. Fuente is making deep strides in recruiting already and once the talent is assembled, Virginia Tech is going to be extremely difficult to handle.

#33 – Hugh Freeze – Mississippi

Like Bielema, the shine has dulled a bit on Freeze’s tenure in Oxford. After improving by a win each year for 3 straight years after a 7-6 campaign in 2012, Freeze and the Rebels took a tremendous step back last season finishing 5-7 (2-6). The overall records can also be a bit misleading as Freeze’s 5-year record in SEC play is not even .500 at 19-21. The bigger problem is the controversy surrounding the Ole Miss program and the NCAA violations. Ole Miss has taken a hit in recruiting already and if recruiting dries up for the Rebels then that spells disaster in arguably the most competitive division in all of college football. There is no question that Freeze can make Ole Miss great. He proved that in 2015, but how he deals with a potential fall out from these mistakes will be telling. The best news for Freeze at this point is that he’s still head coach and that QB Shea Patterson decided to stick around. With no bowl eligibility this season, Ole Miss should be playing like a teach with a chip on their shoulder.

#32 – Mike MacInytre – Colorado

You knew it was only a matter of time before Coach Mac had Colorado on the cusp of greatness. When MacIntyre got his first job as a HC at San Jose State, he finished 1-12 (0-8) in his first season as the Spartans leader. In year 3, San Jose St. went 10-2 (5-1) and beat Bowling Green in the Military Bowl! MacIntyre used that success to grab the Colorado job and what he did in Year 4 in Boulder almost defies reality. The Colorado rebuild wasn’t going to be easy. Not by a long shot. MacIntyre’s first 3 years as HC witnessed Colorado post a combined record of 10-27 with a conference record of 2-25!!!! Those were 3 straight last place finishes in the Pac 12 South! Last season, MacIntyre broke though HUGE as Colorado went 10-4 (8-1), won the Pac 12 South and drew Oklahoma St. in the Alamo Bowl. The Buffs posted wins over Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, Utah, and Washington State! It was a BANNER year that was dampened a bit by losing 41-10 to Washington in the Pac 12 championship and 38-8 to Oklahoma St. in the Alamo Bowl. Was the breakthrough real, or did Coach Mac take advantage of an unusually weak Pac 12? Oregon was way down. UCLA was down. Arizona St. & Arizona were down. They beat Stanford 10-5 in an ugly contest and drew Utah & Washington St. in Boulder. I’m betting on MacIntyre. I think Colorado is good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buffaloes regressed just a bit in 2017.

#31 – Larry Fedora – North Carolina

This feels low considering it was just two years ago that Fedora led the Tar Heels to an 11-3 (8-0) record that saw the UNC win the ACC Coastal relatively easy. A deeper look though and you come away disappointed just a bit. That 2015 season was smoke and mirrors as UNC finished the regular season 11-1 but didn’t play a ranked opponent all season. They lost to Clemson in the ACC Championship game and then lost to Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Last season, the Coastal was again ripe for the taking but UNC gags at home to NC State in the season finale 28-21 and loses to Duke in Durham two weeks before 28-27! That seems ridiculous when you consider just how much offensive firepower the Heels had last season. Fedora has had some good seasons in Chapel Hill but no great ones and that task is going to get tougher and tougher now that Virginia Tech is in seemingly good hands with Justin Fuente and Miami-FL now has one of the best coaches in all of college football in Mark Richt. I really like Fedora and believe he can climb the rankings, but at this point it seems as if UNC has missed a couple of opportunities.

#30 – Mike Riley – Nebraska

The problem with Nebraska is that haven’t found anyone that can take the program to the heights that Tom Osborne did. Frank Solich wasn’t horrible actually and had a few top-10 squads in Lincoln, but not enough big time wins against bit time teams. The hiring of Bill Callahan was a disaster and Bo Pelini couldn’t quite get Nebraska past the 9-4/10-4 mark. Now Mike Riley gets his chance. Riley did wonderful things at Oregon St., and I was a bit surprised that he took the Cornhuskers job, but Oregon St. isn’t Nebraska and Riley now has every resource available to him. In his first season Nebraska wasn’t great at 6-7 (3-5) but last year Riley improved to 9-4 (6-3) with a perfect 7-0 record at home. Nebraska was even ranked #7 in the nation at one point after starting 7-0! It wouldn’t last as Nebraska would go on to lose games to Iowa, Ohio St., Wisconsin & Tennessee, but the season was a win. Riley is making big strides in recruiting and I think he’s putting an emphasis on the Black Shirts which is getting back to Nebraska football.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arkansas, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, Texas, Virginia Tech | 2 Comments

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #50 to #65

Let’s get back into action with some college football talk. This marks the beginning of my ranking the 65 Power college football coaches in the nation. I looked all the head coaches from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Notre Dame. I took the last 5 years and looked at their records, conference records, history, recruiting efforts, bowl records and the overall trends of their team over these past 5 seasons. I’ll go in reverse order starting at the bottom and working my way up by 10 spots. This beginning post will start with the bottom 15. Here we go!

#65 – Chris Ash – Rutgers

Ash didn’t exactly walk into the best situation given the Kyle Flood controversy but in his first year in New Brunswick, the former Ohio St. DC finished 2-10 with a conference record of 0-9. His 2016 recruiting class also ranked #78 according to Rivals meaning talent isn’t pouring into New Jersey either. Most of Rutgers games weren’t even that competitive. In their games against Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St., the Scarlet Knights were outscored 224-0! The Big 10 East isn’t the easiest division to play in, but good grief Rutgers can’t get HAMMERED like that. Ash probably has a little more rope but another 2-10 (0-9) season might spell disaster.

#64 – David Beaty – Kansas

Beatty has gone 2-22 in his first two seasons in Lawrence with a Big 12 record of 1-17. There has been improvement. Beatty went 0-12 his first season at the helm and improved by 2 games last season to 2-10. He also improved his conference record from 0-9 to 1-8. The powers that be at KU thought enough of that improvement to give Beaty a contract extension through 2021! Beaty did lead Kansas to their first win over Texas since 1938 and they came pretty close to beating Iowa St. and TCU! Recruiting it up a bit and Beaty has a chance to improve this ranking quite a bit. Sure Kansas only won 2 games, but in 2015, their average margin of defeat was 30.8 PPG. In 2016 it was 17.0!

#63 – Barry Odom – Missouri

Almost impossible to replace a HC like Gary Pinkel who had tremendous success at Missouri, but if there is anyone that knows Pinkel it’s Odom. Another positive about Odom is that there can’t possibly be a more dyed in the wool Mizzou Tiger than Odom himself. There will never be a lack of passion for Missouri football coming from the head coach! Odom’s first year as HC wasn’t a great one as the Tigers went 4-8 (2-6). That was the worst record the Tigers have had since 2000 when Missouri went 3-8 the year before Gary Pinkel was hired. Pinkel’s worst record in 15 years was 4-7. Odom has his work cut out for him and he needs to recruit better, but Pinkel did more with less so maybe he can too.

#62 – Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia

Mendenhall is a tough one to evaluate. His first year in Charlottesville was a disaster as the Cavaliers went 2-10 with a 1-7 conference record. I don’t think much was expected of Virginia in Mendenhall’s first season, but Virginia should have been at least comparable to their 2015 version which went 4-8. Instead, they regressed. Sometimes seasons can go sideways and that seems to be the case with Virginia. They shouldn’t have lost to FCS Richmond to open the season. They let road games at UConn and Wake Forest get away from them as well. Those 3 games turning to wins would have at least allowed UVA to get to 5-7. There is a lot of room to move up this season for Mendenhall.

#61 – Lovie Smith – Illinois

Before last season, the last time Lovie Smith coached in the college ranks was 1995 when he was DB coach for Ohio State. He was the head coach for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 11 years leading the Bears to a Super Bowl in 2006, so it was quite an odd move that Smith would leave the NFL for collegiate football and all the headaches involved with recruiting 16 and 17 year old boys. Smith got a rude awakening his first season. The Illini finished 3-9 (2-7) with one of their wins coming against Murray State. The games weren’t even that competitive and Smith didn’t exactly tear it up on the recruiting trail. With Jeff Brohm and PJ Fleck joining the Big 10 West, it’s not getting any easier.

#60 – Dino Babers – Syracuse

Babers was an assistant coach for almost 30 years before he finally got his shot at Eastern Illinois and made the most of it. He went 19-7 with EIU winning back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships. He parlayed that job into the head coaching gig at Bowling Green and did well there too. Babers posted an 18-9 record with the Falcons, winning the MAC East in both years and the MAC championship in 2015. He traded that job for a Power-5 conference job with Syracuse. Unfortunately for Babers, he didn’t do as well at Syracuse as he did with EIU and BG. A 4-8 (2-6) record wasn’t fantastic and Babers didn’t kill it on the recruiting trail either. He still has plenty of time left.

#59 – Justin Wilcox – California

Wilcox has never been a head coach but for the last 11 years he’s been the defensive coordinator for Boise St., Tennessee, Washington, USC & Wisconsin. In those seasons here is how his defenses ranked in scoring defense:

2006: #20 (Boise St.)
2007: #26 (Boise St.)
2008: #3 (Boise St.)
2009: #13 (Boise St.)
2010: #56 (Tennessee)
2011: #36 (Tennessee)
2012: #39 (Washington)
2013: #29 (Washington)
2014: #46 (USC)
2015: #50 (USC)
2016: #4 (Wisconsin)

Clearly Wilcox has a track record of success which is good for Cal because the Bears haven’t had anything resembling a decent defense these past 5 seasons. Losing QB Davis Webb will be tough, but Wilcox will do a good job if he can keep Cal from giving up 40PPG.

#58 – Tom Allen – Indiana

Allen did a stellar job as a defensive coach at Ole Miss and South Florida before coming onto Kevin Wilson’s staff last season as the defensive coordinator. Allen didn’t disappoint, improving the Hoosiers’ scoring defense by 10PPG! That’s good news for Indiana as their problem has always been on the defensive side of the football. Allen has never been a head coach and his ascension to the throne was somewhat odd in light of the dismissal of former HC Kevin Wilson, but I think Indiana is in a much better place with Allen leading the charge than with Wilson, even if Wilson guided the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl appearances. It doesn’t get any worse than the Big 10 East, but Allen has started recruiting well which is a good beginning.

#57 – D.J. Durkin – Maryland

Durkin’s first year in Maryland doesn’t look horrible when you consider the Terps were 6-6 during the regular season and getting bowl eligible before losing the bowl game to finish 6-7. A deeper look is a little more rough as Maryland started the season 4-0 against garbage competition and then finished 2-6 in their final 8 with wins over Rutgers & Michigan State, two team who combined for a 1-17 conference record. That’s hardly awe inspiring. Maryland also lost to Ohio St., Michigan and Nebraska by a combined score of 149-13. That’s not Rutgers territory, but it’s not great either. Durkin is recruiting well in College Park and he’s in a fertile recruiting ground which makes it easier. Still a lot of room to make up on Ohio St., Michigan & Penn State.

#56 – Ed Orgeron – LSU

I get the pull of Orgeron being a Louisiana native and who in their right mind isn’t in love with the guy, but I wonder if LSU made the right call in bringing their native son back home to head up the Bayou Bengals? For Orgeron, this is a shot at redemption. There is no question that Orgeron can recruit with the best of them and he’s in a prime spot to bring in a top-5 class annually. There is also no question that Orgeron is a helluva defensive coach as well and the Tigers will most certainly have his fingerprints all over their defensive identity. The question will be whether or not Orgeron can pull it all together. He’ll need a strong staff around him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Orgeron will get it done.

#55 – Matt Campbell – Iowa State

It wasn’t a banner year in Matt Campbell’s first year in Ames has head coach of the Cyclones, but the 3-9 record hid some exciting trends. The Cyclones let a close to Northern Iowa get away from them but they also played Oklahoma, Kansas St., Oklahoma St., and Baylor very close. ISU picked up conference wins over Kansas & Texas Tech, even beating the Red Raiders 66-10 which was Iowa St., most lopsided win since the Cyclones beat Colorado St. 69-0 back in 1980! Campbell is young and energetic. He had tremendous success at Toledo and he has recruiting trending the right direction. There is no reason to believe that Iowa St. can’t be a bowl eligible team on a yearly basis under his watch.

#54 – Matt Rhule – Baylor

Hard to argue with Rhule’s bonafides. His first year at Temple was 2-10. His 3rd year the Owls were 10-4 and AAC East champions. His 4th year they were 10-3 and AAC Champions! The only thing that was tough to argue about Rhule was his taking the Baylor job to begin with. Rhule is a Penn St. graduate and all of his experience is just not east, but east of Ohio! Now he’s smack in the middle of Texas against some HEAVY HITTERS in Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. That’s not easy, and I’m not even mentioning the inroads that places like Notre Dame, Alabama and LSU have made the Lone Star State. Rhule will definitely have the Bears playing outstanding defense early.

#53 – Will Muschamp – South Carolina

I’m probably being a little hard on Muschamp here seeing how in his first season he took the Gamecocks to bowl eligibility when nobody except the most dedicated Gamecocks fans though SC would do anything but finish in the basement of the SEC East. My only caveat is that South Carolina and Muschamp worked the schedule which allowed SC to finish 6-6 and get to a bowl. Their non-conference wins included those against East Carolina, UMass and Western Carolina. Missouri was in the tank last year and Vanderbilt wasn’t great so there is 5 wins there. An upset win, which they got over Tennessee, was all SC needed. Muschamp will recruit well enough. Let’s see how his 2nd stint through the SEC East goes.

#52 – Jeff Brohm – Purdue

Brohm wasted little time building off of what Willie Taggart and Bobby Petrino did before him at Western Kentucky. Brohm finished his time in Bowling Green with a 30-10 record with a 19-5 mark in Conference USA play. In his last two seasons at WKU, Brohm led the Hilltoppers to a 22-5 mark including 2 bowl wins and a CUSA record of 15-1 which led to back-to-back conference championships. Brohm had Western Kentucky’s offense flying and the Hilltoppers actually led all of FBS in scoring offense in 2016. Brohm inherits a mess at Purdue, but he’ll get the offense rolling and if the defense follows suit, the Boilermakers could definitely start making noise in the Big 10 West.

#51 – Steve Addazio – Boston College

Addazio’s a tough one to figure out. I think what you have to wonder is what kind of ceiling does a program like Boston College really have? Addazio has went 7-6 in 3 of his 4 years on Chestnut Hill and is 1-2 in bowl games. That’s isn’t terrible when you consider that BC plays in the same division as Clemson, Florida St., and Louisville. In reality, BC is probably looking at a ceiling like 8-4/9-3 and Addazio is pretty close to having the Eagles at this mark with some aspect of sustainability. I think he could recruit better to be sure. Boston College should be able to get better players than what they have. Matt Ryan & Doug Flutie showed how good BC can be when they get elite level talent on the roster.

#50 – Rich Rodriguez – Arizona

Rodriguez is better than this but his teams certainly aren’t playing like it. Rodriguez had somewhat of a breakthrough in 2014 when the Wildcats went 10-4 and won the Pac 12 North, but it was colored a bit by a 51-13 loss to Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game followed up by a 38-30 loss to Boise St. in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2015 the Wildcats dropped to 7-6 and last year Arizona completely collapsed finishing 3-9 with a 1-8 mark in conference play! Arizona’s conference record over the past two seasons is 4-14 and Rodriguez’s recruiting classes have been trending downward. USC seems to be stabilizing under Clay Helton. Colorado is emerging. That doesn’t play well for RichRod in the Pac 12 South.

May 14, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arizona, Baylor, Big 10, Big XII, Boston College, California, Coaching, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa St., Kansas, LSU, Maryland, Missouri, Pac 12, Purdue, Rankings, Rutgers, SEC, South Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia | 4 Comments

2016 PRESEASON ALL-BIG 10 TEAMS

POS TEAM FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB Computer Hope John O’Korn: The obvious choice here is JT Barrett, but I think Korn is going to be 1st Team All-Big 10 at QB because he’s going to put up gigantic numbers due to the skill athletes he can utilize. O’Korn originally played at Houston where he was a freshman starter & threw for 3000+ yards with 28TD. He was around the program last season so he’s now familiar with all the concepts of the Harbaugh system. While Harbaugh typically runs a pro-style offense, I think O’Korn is going to chuck it because of Jehu Chesson, Amara Darboh, Jake Butt, DeVeon Smith, Ty Isaac, & Grant Perry. Michigan returns 4 starters on the O-Line and a fantastic recruiting class full of skill players. O’Korn will impress!
RB Computer Hope Saquon Barkley: Last season, Barkley didn’t figure to be in the RB rotation early on as the Nittany Lions had Akeel Lynch returning, but Barkley got in the 2nd week against Buffalo & made the most of it rushing for 115yds/1TD on 12 carries. He followed that up with a 195yds/2TD performance against Rutgers & never looked back en route to rushing for 1,076 yards & 7TD in his true freshman season! Barkley is made to play at RB at 5’11/225lbs. A shifty threat with speed, Barkley is also a threat out of the backfield totaling 20 catches for 161yds. Barkley missed 2 complete games & parts of 2 others which means he probably left 300-400 yards out there due to injury. He should have a monster season in ’16.
RB Computer Hope Corey Clement: Clement returns for his senior season at Wisconsin which I think is a solid move given his injury struggles last season with the Badgers. Clement only ran the ball 48 times last year but was never really healthy. He was relatively healthy against Rutgers last year & blasted them for 115yds/3TD on only 11 carries. He played well against USC in the Holiday Bowl helping the Badgers grind out a 23-21 victory that ensured 10-win season in HC Paul Chryst’s first year in Madison. It’s easy to forget that as a sophomore Clement averaged 6.5ypc with almost 1,000 yards backing up Melvin Gordon. Wisconsin has 4 starters back on the O-Line & their run game is always amazing so health is key for Clement.
WR Computer Hope Jehu Chesson: Chesson made a pretty big splash as a freshman in 2013 catching 15 balls for 221yds & a TD. His role was thought to expand in 2014 but with the emergence of Jake Butt & Amara Darboh he fell behind. Last season Chesson really broke out as Michigan’s #1 WR catching 50 balls for 764 yards & 9TD as Jake Ruddock came to Ann Arbor and found a favorite receiver. The end result was Chesson being a 1st Team All-Big 10 receiver. The fireworks could get even bigger with John O’Korn taking over as QB. Chesson could be in for a monster year and at 6’3/200lbs, he’s definitely in the running to be a first team All-American. Michigan’s offense is going to be powerful. Chesson will be a big reason why.
WR Computer Hope Simmie Cobbs: An unheralded recruit out of Illinois, Cobbs exploded on the scene last year in Bloomington catching 60 balls for 1,035 yards which averages to 17.2ypc. Cobbs is huge at 6’4/220lbs with IDEAL size as a #1 WR. He also has the ability to take it to the house with the ball in his hands. The only thing Cobbs didn’t do well last year was get into the endzone with regularity. The Hoosier wideout found the paint just 4 times despite QB Nate Sudfeld throwing 27TDs. Sudfeld’s in the NFL now, but Kevin Wilson has this offense rolling. I could see Cobbs improving again on his numbers and finding the endzone even more. Cobbs has a chance to be historically great for the Hoosiers if he can stick around for 4-years.
WR Computer Hope Chris Godwin: Godwin broke out last season becoming Christian Hackenberg’s go-to receiver piling up 1,101 yards & 5TD on 69 receptions. A big time recruit out of high school, Godwin got onto the field regularly in 2015 & proved the hype was real. Penn St. is loaded at receiver this year with DaeSean Hamilton & Saeed Blacknall joining Godwin at WR while Mike Gesicki’s role should increase as well. Penn St. has to figure out who is going to be throwing the ball however. Will it be rSO Trace McSorley who saw very limited action last year or will it be rFR Tommy Stevens who at 6’5/225lbs is turning into a physical specimen that looks every bit the part of an NFL QB? Godwin can match last year’s numbers.
TE Computer Hope Jake Butt: If OJ Howard would have turned pro last year, Butt would be the far and away pick for 1st Team All-American TE this year. Even with Howard back at Alabama, Butt is going to make things extremely interesting as Michigan’s offense looks to be incredible & Butt should see an insane amount of mismatches that will allow him to take advantage of the defense. At 6’6/250lbs, the Wolverine is already a load to deal with & last year he finally lived up to his potential catching 51 passes for 654 yards & 3TD. He’s a redzone nightmare & I believe with John O’Korn coming in to play QB, Michigan is going to throw the ball early & often. I could easily see Butt going over 1,000 yards receiving with 10TD.
OC Computer Hope Pat Elflein: Taylor Decker got a lot of well deserved hype last season about being one of the best left tackles in college football, but Pat Elflein was no slouch himself becoming an All-American last year at right guard for the Buckeyes & playing a important role in how good Ezekiel Elliott and the Buckeyes ground game turned out to be in 2015. Urban Meyer hit the lottery when Elflein decided to return to Columbus for his rSR year. Elflein is a 2-year starter with 29 career starts. Ohio St. is moving the 6’3/300lbs interior lineman to center this year to replace the departed Jacoby Boren. Elflein enters the season as arguably the best interior lineman in the country and will do a great job moving from RG to C.
OL Computer Hope Dan Feeney: It sounds amazing to say this but Dan Feeney has the opportunity to give the Indiana Hoosiers a player on the All-American team for the 3rd straight year! In 2014, RB Tevin Coleman was a 1st team selection while last year both Feeney & LT Jason Spriggs  were 3rd Team All-Americans. Like Elflein, Feeney is a rSR with loads of experience. He’s been anchoring the Hoosier O-Line since he set foot on campus & has made 37 career starts. Feeney has been a key blocker the last two years as he’s led the way for one 2,000 yards rusher (Tevin Coleman) & then last year helped both Jordan Howard & Devine Redding to 1,000 yard seasons. Feeney enters the season as arguably the best guard in the nation.
OL Computer Hope Erik Magnuson: If you look at a picture of Erik Magnuson, you definitely come away with the thought that this guy plays tackle at Michigan. At 6’6/310lbs, Magnuson looks & plays the part of a big time tackles at the collegiate level. He garnered 2nd team All-Big 10 honors a year ago at RT and will return to the position in 2016 to protect one side of the line for new QB John O’Korn. The senior has 24 career starts & don’t be surprised to see his role expand. The Wolverines lost C Graham Glasnow last year to the NFL draft & they are moving LT Mason Cole to center as Grant Newsome takes over at LT. Magnuson will anchor what should be an outstanding O-Line in Ann Arbor. He’s an all-conference player for ’16.
OL Computer Hope Billy Price: How amazing is the talent in Columbus? Both Elflein and Billy Price are legitimate All-American candidates this year & they are being moved off their positions to make room for young talented players the Buckeyes have coming in! Price  started at LG as a freshman and sophomore. He has 28 career starts despite being only a junior this year, but like Elflein he is switching positions moving from LG to RG. At 6’4/315lbs, Price has ideal size to play in the interior and he’s tough as nails. Price was a 2nd Team All-Big 10 player last season & has been a integral part of Ohio St.’s running during the Ezekiel Elliott era. He gives Ohio St. the chance to put two interior lineman on the All-American team.
OL Computer Hope Dan Voltz: The Big 10 is FILTHY rich when it comes to interior lineman. Voltz joins Elflein, Freeney & Price as Big 10 guys who have very good chances at being a 1st Team All-American by the time the 2016 season concludes. Voltz dealt with some injuries last season which kept him to 7 starts, but in 2014 he started 14 games for the Badgers and garnered 2nd Team All-Big 10 honors. Voltz has 28 career starts all at center, but this year the Badgers are moving him to LG to give way to Michael Deiter who played center in Voltz’s absence last season. With Elflein at center, Voltz combines with Feeney to arguably give the Big 10 the 2 best guards in the nation. I think Voltz stays healthy & is big this season.

2ND TEAM OFFENSE

QB-JT Barrett/Ohio St.: Everyone else’s pick to be 1st Team Big 10, Barrett is the no doubt QB1 for the Buckeyes and I think he’s going to put up video game numbers.
RB-Justin Jackson/Northwestern: A workhorse back last year rushing for 1,418yds/5TD but averaging just 4.5ypc. At 5’11/190lbs, he could stand to get a little bigger.
RB-LJ Scott/Michigan St.: The 6’0/240lbs BEAST was a true frosh last year & ran for 699yds/11TD! Can’t wait for the encore but he’ll be splitting time for carries.
WR-Jordan Westerkamp/Nebraska: Westerkamp has the chance to become Nebraska’s all time leading receiver this year if he can go for 742 yards. He’ll get it done.
WR-DaeSean Hamilton/Penn St.: The 6’1/206lbs junior could just have easily been a 1st team selection. Penn St. receivers should light up the scoreboard this year.
WR-Amara Darboh/Michigan: Excellent size at 6’2/215lbs. A lot of eyes will be on Chesson this season, but Darboh is an NFL talent in his own right & he’ll be big.
TE-George Kittle/Iowa: Great receiving skills at 6’4/246lbs. Kittle is CJ Beathard’s safety valve. He led the team in TD receptions last year with 6. He’ll top that number.
OC-Brian Allen/Michigan St.: Like Elflein, moving to center from the guard position. Like Elflein, will be outstanding at the new position with All-American talent.
OL-Kyle Kalis/Michigan: Three year starter with 30 career starts under his belt. One of 3 seniors returning for Big Blue & one of 4 returning starters on the O-Line.
OL-Chris Muller/Rutgers: Huge for a guard at 6’6/320, Muller is a 3-year starter with 37 career starts. Muller is the best of a Rutgers O-Line that I think is underrated.
OL-Michael Dunn/Maryland: 37 career starts for the 6’5/312lbs senior from Bethesda MD. The 37 career starts were consecutive but missed season finale last year.
OL-Brendon Mahon/Penn St.: Very talented interior lineman with tremendous size at 6’4/320lbs. The junior has 20 career starts & should anchor PSU’s interior line.

3RD TEAM OFFENSE

QB-CJ Beathard/Iowa: Threw for 2800+ yards last year with only 5INT to go with 61.6% completion rate. Beathard puts up numbers despite Iowa being run heavy.
RB-Shannon Brooks/Minnesota: The true frosh split time with Rodney Smith last year but at 6’0/210lbs, he can be an every down back the Gophers need on offense.
RB-Markell Jones/Purdue: 3rd Team All-Big 10 as a frosh last year with 875 rushing yards to go along with 10TD. He’s a weapon out of the backfield too. Big upside!
WR-Malik Turner/Illinois: QB Wes Lunt is going to want to throw the ball early & often & Turner should be the main beneficiary as he’s likely Lun’t go to receiver.
WR-Brandon Reilly/Nebraska: The 6’2/200lbs senior has big play ability & averaged 18.9ypc last season. With Westerkamp around he should see single coverage a lot.
WR-Mitchell Paige/Indiana: For all the Hoosiers get wrong, they get right on offense. Paige is the perfect slot receiver for them at 5’7/175lbs. He’ll get plenty of balls.
TE-Josiah Price/Michigan St.: The 6’4/260lbs senior could make a case for being on the first team. Should easily settle into the role of Tyler O’Connor’s safety valve.
OC-Mason Cole/Michigan: 25 starts & only a junior, Cole anchored Michigan’s OL at LT in a season where the Wolverines QB was sacked just 18 times. Moves to center.
OL-Andrew Nelson/Penn St.: Ideal length at 6’6/310lbs, Nelson is a 2-year starter and will be given the job of protecting the blindside of either McSorley or Stevens.
OL-Dimitric Camiel/Indiana: Jason Spriggs’ counterpart on the right side last season, Camiel is HUGE at 6’7/310lbs. He can run block & pass protect. He’ll open eyes.
OL-Nick Gates/Nebraska: Gates is a rSO who started 10G last year at RT. This year he moves to LT to protect Tommy Armstrong & anchor a line returning just 2 starters.
OL-Ben Braden/Michigan: Huge interior lineman at 6’6/322lbs. Braden is the 4th Michigan O-Lineman on my first three All-Big 10 teams. Yeah, this line is exceptional.

4TH TEAM OFFENSE

QB-David Blough/Purdue: Compared to Drew Brees because he’s short, plays for Purdue & is from Texas. He’s MUCH better than you know. I wouldn’t sleep on him!
RB-Mike Weber/Ohio St.: Weber is a tremendous talent that is playing for a tremendous team behind a tremendous O-Line. He’s just a rFR but he’ll put up big numbers.
RB-Devin Redding/Indiana: Had more carries than Jordan Howard last year & eclipsed the 1,000yds mark with 9TD. More of a workhorse back but it’ll play up for IU.
WR-DeAngelo Yancey/Purdue: Led Purdue last year with 700yds/5TD on 48 receptions. Has a connection with Blough & I think these two connect early and often.
WR-RJ Shelton/Michigan St.: Will be an excellent slot receiver for Michigan St. as they break in a new QB and two new outside wideouts. Will be a safe play with Price.
WR-Ricky Jones/Indiana: So much offense at Indiana. Jones put up a 54/906/5 line last year & I think he could be even better this season. Indiana should score a ton.
TE-Cethan Carter/Nebraska: Good size at 6’4/240lbs. Senior QBs know how important TEs are & with Westerkamp & Reilly around, Carter is going to have opportunities.
OC-Brian Gaia/Penn St.: Penn St. is set to have the best offense they’ve had since 2008. The QB position is the wild card and having a solid center is going to be important.
OL-Damian Prince/Maryland: IMMENSE talent for the Terps, Prince is still only a rSO but at 6’3/330lbs, has the ability & physical power to be a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick.
OL-Eric Olson/Northwestern: Solid size at 6’6/300lbs, Olson enters his senior season as a 2-year starter for the Wildcats & will have a good final year manning RT.
OL-Kodi Kieler/Michigan St.: A 6’6/310lbs RT with 19 career starts. Kieler is only one of two returning starters for the Spartans this year & should have a solid final year.
OL-Jonah Pirsig/Minnesota: ENORMOUS at 6’9/320lbs, Pirsig anchors the Gophers O-Line at RT. Minny’s O-Line averages 6’5/321lbs. That’s tops in the conference.

POS TEAM FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Computer Hope Sam Hubbard: Hubbard was 6’5/225lbs coming out of high school so he redshirted a season in Columbus in 2014 during which time he gained 40lbs! He came into the season behind Joey Bosa & Tyquan Lewis but established himself quickly with 6.5 sacks which was 2nd to Lewis’ 8 to lead the team & 1.5 more than the eventual #3 overall pick Joey Bosa! Hubbard is a physical specimen at 6’5/265lbs. Not quite as big as Bosa but more agile & athletic, Hubbard could easily find himself pushing for All-American honors by season’s end. With Lewis on the opposite side, opponents are going to have a tremendous time deciding who to double team. I love this guy’s upside & could see 12-13 sacks in 2016.
DL Computer Hope Chris Wormley: Wormley was outstanding last year leading a Michigan defense that was smothering in both sacks with 6.5 and tackles for loss with 14.5. Don’t be confused with Wormley’s 6’5/305lbs size. It screams 4-3DT but Michigan is trying to transition to a 3-4 defense & has some oddball alignments. Wormely is listed as DE to Taco Charlton’s “Buck” position but both are essentially oversized DTs with Charlton having the size of a 3-4DE. What makes Wormley stunning is his ability to get the QB despite his size. A 2nd Team All-Big 10 last year, Wormley could be an All-American this year & his draft status will be a thing to watch as the NFL really values interior QB pressure from their DTs.
DL Computer Hope Malik McDowell: A 2nd Team All-Big 10 selection last year, McDowell is arguably the best DT prospect in college football. McDowell has amazing size at 6’6/280lbs and as you can guess, most NFL front offices are salivating over the idea of putting 50lbs on that frame and making McDowell a legitimate 2-gap daddy at NT at 6’6/330lbs! McDowell has outstanding quickness for a man his size. He was 2nd on the team last year in both sacks with 4.5 and tackles for loss with 13. Michigan St. employs a 4-3 base defense so we don’t get to really see McDowell clogging up the entire interior O-Line, but he’s not just a space eater. At worst his downside is a 6’6/290lbs 43DT that terrorizes the QB from the inside.
DL Computer Hope Tyquan Lewis: While everyone was worrying about Joey Bosa, everyone was also forgetting about Tyquan Lewis as Lewis became the dominant force on the D-line for Ohio St. last year amassing 54 tackles, 8 sacks & 14 tackles for loss. Lewis might become the focal point of the defense due to Sam Hubbard only being a sophomore. He’s the only returning starter on the D-Line and at 6’4/260lbs, has more than enough size to hold the position down. Like Hubbard, the scary part about Lewis is that he could get even better because last year was just his first season as a starter. I think Lewis will see more double teams early on because of Hubbard’s youth but eventually it’ll be pick your poison.
LB Computer Hope Raekwon McMillan: A freshman All-American as a true frosh in 2014, McMillan followed that up with being a 1st All-Big 10 player as a sophomore last year! McMillan had a banner year for Ohio St. racking up 119 tackles. McMillan also flashed the ability to drop into coverage with 4 passes broken up. He’s fast enough to get to the QB on designed blitzes and at 6’2/240lbs he’s got more than enough size to set up in the middle & thump running backs who miraculously get through the Buckeye D-Line. McMillan is likely to add 1st Team All-American to his resume after this season with 1st Rd. NFL draft pick a few months later. He comes into this season as arguably the best LB in the college football.
LB Computer Hope Anthony Walker: If you think McMillan is the best LB in college football then how do you reconcile that with Anthony Walker? The 6’1/235lbs sophomore last season destroyed opponents en route to amassing 122 tackles, 4 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, 4 passes broken up, 1 pick & 2 QB hurries. I watched a few Northwestern games last year & Walker EXPLODED off the screen in each game I watched. His production easily made him a 1st Team All-Big 10 player & he also was a 3rd team All-American. I don’t know what he does for an encore. Walker was 5th in the nation in tackles for loss & the only sophomore with 20+TFL on the season. The sophomore who ranked 2nd? Myles Garrett with 19.5!
LB Computer Hope Jabril Peppers: Peppers excelled last year as a rFR garnering 1st Team All-Big 10 honors. Peppers is used more like the emerging hybrid LB/S position that is becoming popular for WIL LBs in the NFL. Think of Deone Bucannon in Arizona or Mark Barron in Los Angeles as possible comparisons to Peppers. Peppers is 6’1/210lbs which is severely undersized for an NFL LB, but Peppers made 45 tackles last year and had 10 broken up passes to go along with 5.5 tackles for loss. That’s a helluva player to have on the field and it also adds flexibility to run different defensive subpackages. Peppers is the best player of this “type” so he could easily be a 1st Team All-American & a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2017.
LB Computer Hope Vince Biegel: The Big 10 doesn’t run many 3-4 schemes but Wisconsin does & Vince Biegel is an ideal fit as a 34OLB. The 6’4/245lbs senior is a 2-time 2nd Team All-Big 10 defender and I believe he is going to be in for his most dominant year yet. Last season Biegel racked up 66 tackles, 8 sacks, 14 tackles for loss & 9 QB hurries. He’ll step into Joe Schobert’s role from last season as the one Wisconsin defender who offenses will key on, but I think he’ll respond. Biegel’s importance only compounds when you look at Wisconsin’s schedule which is MUCH more difficult than recent versions. With games against LSU, Michigan, Michigan St, Ohio St, and Iowa, pressuring the QB is going to be priority #1.
DB Computer Hope Desmond King: Kirk Ferentz must have thought it was his birthday when 1st Team All-American CB Desmond King decided to wait a year before entering the NFL draft and come back to Iowa City for his senior season with the Hawkeyes. King was a LOCK DOWN corner last year with 8 picks and 13 passes broken up. You have to wonder why he got that many opportunities as QBs would have been better served to avoid him entirely. King is a surefire 1st-round NFL Pick and he’ll look to become the first ever defensive back to win the Jim Thorpe award twice! At 5’11/203lbs, he’s got great size & tremendous ball hawking skills to match. King is arguably the best CB in college football this season.
DB Computer Hope Jourdan Lewis: Even worse than King, Lewis was targeted early and often with offenses having almost nothing to show for throwing the ball his way. Lewis is a smallish CB listed at 5’10/175lbs which makes me wonder if he isn’t more like 5’8 or 5’9 given that he had a ridiculous 20 passes broken up yet only 2 picks which gives thought to maybe him having an inability to high point the ball. Regardless, Lewis was a 2nd Team All-American last year and will take half of the field away from opposing offenses. Like King, I think Big 10 offenses will learn not to throw his way so his numbers might decrease this season, but he’s almost a lock to go in the 1st round of next year’s NFL Draft. He’s fun to watch.
DB Computer Hope Demetrius Cox: Outstanding free safety at 6’1/198lbs who does everything well, Cox racked up 79 tackles to go along with 7 passes broken up and 3 picks en route to a 3rd Team All-Big 10 performance. Cox does everything you’d like to see your free safety do. He’s got great size to cover and does it well yet he’s not afraid to drop into the box and do some hitting in the trenches. Cox sat behind Kurtis Drummond for a couple of years in East Lansing but took the starting role like a fish to water & Michigan St. didn’t see hardly any dropoff at the free safety position. A lot will be expected of Cox this season as he’s the best secondary player the Spartans have & MSU looks to be in somewhat of a rebuild for ’16.
DB Computer Hope Nathan Gerry: Seems weird to have an all conference defense that Nebraska takes part in and yet just one Cornhusker resides on the 1st Team list. Nathan Gerry is a big physical playmaker for the Huskers at free safety. Last season the 6’2/210lbs senior to be led Nebraska in tackles with 79. He also led them in interceptions and passes broken up. Gerry is only one of 2 senior returning starters along with LB Josh Banderas. He’s going to be expected to anchor the secondary and the defense as a whole with his ability to cover and also his ability to inhibit the running game. I think Gerry is in for a big year in Lincoln and will at least be reminiscent of the type of player the Blackshirts were known for.

2ND TEAM DEFENSE

DL-Jake Replogle/Purdue: Huge at 6’5/300lbs, the Purdue product has 12 tackles for loss last year. If he converts those to sacks, he’ll be in the All-American conversation.
DL-Darius Hamilton/Rutgers: Redshirted last season but is one of the best DTs in the conference. From 2013-2014, Hamilton racked up 23 tackles for loss & 10.5 sacks.
DL-Dawuane Smoot/Illinois: Smoot led Illinois last year in sacks (8) and tackles for loss (15). Great size at 6’3/265lbs playing for an Illini D-Line that might be underrated.
DL-Jaleel Johnson/Iowa: Johnson can make a great case he should be a first team DT. Solid quicks for a guy his size at 6’4/310lbs. Can provide interior pressure for Iowa.
LB-Josey Jewll/Iowa: Another Hawkeye who has a great case for being a 1st team defender, Jewell racked up 126 tackles last season along with 4 picks and 6 passes broken up.
LB-Riley Bullough/Michigan St.: A more fluid athlete than his brother Max, Riley did a little bit of everything last year & will have to do more with Darien Harris moving on.
LB-Marcus Oliver/Indiana: The Hoosiers finally have a defender worth mentioning. Oliver is a solid WIL at 6’1/236lbs. Led Indiana last year with 112 tackles. Also had 2 picks.
LB-Jon Reschke/Michigan St.: Don’t be surprised if this guy is a 1st team All-Big 10 LB by season’s end. Last year he 2 sacks & 5.5 tackles for loss, but also had 8 QB hurries.
DB-Matthew Harris/Northwestern: A 3rd Team selection last year the 5’11/180lbs senior to be had 4 interceptions to go along with 13 passes broken up. An excellent corner.
DB-Rashard Fant/Indiana: Like Jourdan Lewis, Fant is “listed” at 5’10/174lbs meaning more like 5’8-5’9. Still, he had 22 passes broken up which is insane, but just 1 pick.
DB-Montae Nicholson/Michigan St.: Cox’s counterpart, Nicholson is a 6’2/225lbs thumper at SS with ball skills to match. Nicholson had 83 tackles last year but also 3 picks.
DB-Marcus Allen/Penn St.: Rangy free safety at 6’2/205lbs. Allen will be a true junior yet already has 19 starts under his belt. I think he’ll be a big emerging talent this year.

3RD TEAM DEFENSE

DL-Taco Charlton/Michigan: A physical freak at 6’6/285lbs, Charlton has been dogged by inconsistency his entire tenure in Ann Arbor. The upside potential is immense.
DL-Jarrod Clements/Illinois: “Chunky” busted out last year as a starter for Illinois with 11.5 tackles for loss & 6 QB hurries from the inside. Lovie Smitih will help this guy.
DL-Parker Hesse/Iowa: Like Sam Hubbard, Hesse was a recruited LB at 6’3/200lbs. He redshirted a season & last year became a 6’3/250lbs DE freshman! He’s going to be good!
DL-Chickwe Obasigh/Wisconsin: Not ideal size at 6’3/270lbs to play 3-4DE but this is Wisconsin and not New England. Solid veteran player with 20 career starts to his name.
LB-Brandon Bell/Penn St.: Blue collar thumper on the strong side at 6’1/231lbs. What separates Bell is ability to get to the QB which resulted in 5.5 sacks & 12 tackles for loss.
LB-Hardy Nickerson/Illinois: Grad transfer from California, Nickerson led the Golden Bears last season with 112 tackles. Doesn’t do much else but is a tackling machine.
LB-Jack Lynn/Minnesota: Lynn turned in a great junior season last year ranking 4th on the Gophers in tackles with 76 and first on the team in tackles for loss with 11 total.
LB-Jermaine Carter/Maryland: Carter led Maryland in tackles last year with 103 but was spectacular with 14 tackles for loss and even threw in 3 passes broken up. Solid.
DB-Isaiah Wharton/Rutgers: Outstanding size at CB at 6’1/204lbs, Wharton was just a freshman last year but had 10 passes broken up & a pick. He’s going to get better.
DB-Grant Haley/Penn St.: Not huge at 5’9/185lbs, but Haley was a starter last year as a sophomore & did well with 9 passes defended. He’ll be a key part of PSU’s defense.
DB-Leroy Clark, Purdue: Clark finally became a starter last year & made the most of it leading Purdue with 88 tackles. A 5’10 thumper at SS, Clark also has solid cover skills.
DB-Anthony Cioffi/Rutgers: Cioffi led the Scarlet Knights in interceptions last year despite being the starting strong safety. Rutgers returns their entire secondary for 2016.

4TH TEAM DEFENSE

DL-Garrett Sickles/Penn St.: Sickles will be expected to pick up the enormous slack in pressuring the QB given that Penn St. has to replace Austin Johnson and Carl Nassib.
DL-Gelen Robinson/Purdue: Played very well once inserted into the starting lineup for the last 7 games. Sort of looks like Dwight Freeney at 6’1/270lbs. I think he’ll be a force.
DL-Quanzell Lambert/Rutgers: Another shorter DE at 6’1/260lbs, Lambert has the talent that if he puts his game together he could wind up with double digit sack numbers.
DL-Steven Richardson/Minnesota: A bit small for a DT at 6’0/290lbs, but Richardson provides interior pressure & short isn’t always bad as evidenced by Sheldon Rankins.
LB-TJ Edwards/Wisconsin: Edwards led the team in tackles last year with 84 and should be able to hunt once again as Wisconsin should be solid at D-Line and with their OLBs.
LB-Jason Cabinda/Penn St.: Cabinda led the team in tackles last year as a sophomore with 100. He’s big for a WIL at 6’1/245lbs, but showed he could drop back into coverage.
LB-Nate Hall/Northwestern: Big 6’2/230lbs SAM, Hall recorded 56 tackles in his freshman season to go along with 2 passes broken up and 4 QB hurries. Started last 4 games.
LB-Dedrick Young/Nebraska: A converted RB, Young switched positions and still started for Nebraska last year as a true freshman! What happens when he learns to play LB?
DB-Greg Mabin/Iowa: Overshadowed by Desmond King, but Mabin is a big physical corner at 6’2/200lbs who successfully defended 10 passes last year and had 2 interceptions.
DB-Josh Kalu/Nebraska: Kalu was a starter last year as a sophomore and had 7 passes broken up & 3 interceptions. Doesn’t shy away from contact evidenced by his 75 tackles.
DB-Jonathan Crawford/Indiana: Started immediately for the Hoosiers as a true frosh & was 2nd on the team in tackles with 76. Also led the team in interceptions with 4.
DB-Dymonte Thomas/Michigan: Had 7 passes broken up in limited action last year, Thomas is a great athlete & Michigan’s D looks so formidable I think he gets to hunt a lot.

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Preseason, Previews, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 BIG 10 PREVIEW and PREDICTIONS

RANK B1G EAST COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: Lost in the conversation about Ohio St.’s tremendous QB depth is just how good JT Barrett was last season before missing the final 3 games. Barrett was 11-1 in 12 starts & was a 3rd team All-American passing for 2834yds/34TD, while rushing for 938yds/11TD! Barrett is penciled in as the starter which is a smart move. Amazingly enough RB Ezekiel Elliott was only a 2nd team All-Conference player (thanks to Melvin Gordon & Tevin Coleman) although he’s a Heisman front runner this season. With 4 OL returning, Ohio St. should be able to run the ball at will. Losing WR Devin Smith will be tough to replace, but the Buckeyes have tremendous WR potential. Expect the offense to score 45PPG yet again. DEFENSE: As a 6’6/280lbs DE, Joey Bosa was arguably the most dominant defensive player last year in college football as a true sophomore! The 2nd coming of JJ Watt, Bosa is almost unblockable & could be just as much of a Heisman candidate as Elliott! DT Adolphus Washington is another All-American candidate. It’s not Alabama or Penn St., but Ohio St.’s trio of LBs in Josh Perry, Raekwon McMillan & Darron Lee are the best LB corps in the entire nation! They accounted for 254 tackles last season including 13 sacks! The secondary returns 3 of 4 players headlined by S Vonn Bell. This is by far the best defense Urban Meyer has had in his time in Columbus. SCHEDULE: A road trip to Blacksburg to start the season won’t be easy but the only tough road game in conference comes in Ann Arbor where Michigan will be playing under 1st year HC Jim Harbaugh. Ohio St. avoids Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern & Iowa from the B10 West. This schedule sets up well for a return trip to the playoffs. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 9-3 with losses to Virginia Tech, Michigan St. & Michigan.
#2 OFFENSE: Michigan St. had a banner year offensively in 2014 racking up 43PPG in Mark Dantonio’s best offensive showing since arriving in East Lansing in 2007. Expect a fall back to the 28-31PPG range this year as the Spartans lose quite a bit. Gone is RB Jeremy Langford who ran for 1522yds/22TD, WR Tony Lippett (1198yds/11TD/18.4ypc) & WR Keith Mumphrey (495yds/19.0ypc/3TD). QB Connor Cook comes back & might be a 1st Rd. NFL draft talent but Sparty needs some others to step up to become the big play threats they’ve lost. The O-line is outstanding & brings 4 starters back. A RB should emerge from the LJ Scott, Madre London, Delton Williams trio & TE Josiah Price should be a huge piece to the puzzle. The Spartans will score but not as much. DEFENSE: MSU got terrible news recently when LB Ed Davis was lost for the season due to injury. It’s a tough loss, but MSU is solid defensely. The D-Line headlined by Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell, Lawrence Thomas & Joel Heath looks especially strong & is arguably the best front-4 in the nation. Riley Bullough & Darien Harris will be fine at LB although the Davis loss hurts. The secondary has 2 huge losses in CB Trae Waynes & S Kurtis Drummond who were 1st & 3rd team All-Americans respectively! The secondary will be down a notch for sure. As you can see there is some question marks in the back-7. SCHEDULE: Michigan St. has a few land mines in road games against Ohio St., Michigan & Nebraska along with a home data against Oregon! The Spartans definitely have the talent to win games & you can be sure Sparty will have revenge on its mind when it plays Ohio St. & Oregon given that those teams prevented Michigan St. from the playoffs a year ago The season finale against Penn St. could be tricky as well. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 7-5.
#3 OFFENSE: Penn St. isn’t considered a playoff contender, but no team will be watched more closely if only because QB Christian Hackenberg could be the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’4/230lbs QB came under scrutiny last season after playing worse than his freshman campaign, but that was more in line with an O-Line that had 4 first year starters & a WR corps that featured a couple of first year starters & a TE as a first year starter. HC James Franklin wasn’t completely starting over from the Paterno era due to Bill O’Brien, but O’Brien’s system is vastly different than Franklin’s methods. PSU has 8 starters returning including 4 on the O-Line & RB Akeel Lynch. Hackenberg should be in for a big year & the offense should show marked improvement. DEFENSE: Penn St. allowed just 18.6PPG last year & look to be even better this year. The Lions return 5 of their top-6 tacklers & have the best DT combo in the B1G in Austin Johnson & Anthony Zettel. They lost LB Mike Hull (140tkl in ’14) but Nyeem Wartman returns at MLB & they add in Ben Kline & Koa Farmer. S Jordan Lucas anchors the secondary along with CB Trevor Williams. Worth mentioning is DEs Carl Nassib (6’6/270lbs) & Garrett Sickels (6’4/265lbs). First year starters, both guys have outstanding size & should do some damage with Johnson & Zettel up front. They should be very fun to watch. SCHEDULE: Penn St.’s OOC schedule is a joke with Temple, Army, Buffalo & San Diego State. They do get Michigan St. & Ohio St. on the road which is tough but get Michigan at home coming off a bye week. Getting Northwestern & Illinois out of the West isn’t so bad either so the schedule sets up very nice. BEST CASE: 10-2. WORST CASE: 5-7. Losses to tOSU & MSU are a given but Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Northwestern & Michigan could happen.
#4 OFFENSE: Despite the 20-18 record over the last 3 seasons, the cupboards aren’t bare in Ann Arbor for incoming HC Jim Harbaugh. Devin Gardner isn’t a terrible loss at QB & Michigan now has former Iowa QB Jake Rudock who comes in as an immediate improvement. The Wolverines also return 4 starters on the O-Line along with a stable of very talented backs headlined by De’Veon Smith, USC transfer Ty Isaac & Derrick Green. Michigan loses WR Devin Funchess but returners Amara Darboh (6’2) & Jehu Chesson (6’3) are big targets that should step up quickly along with true frosh Brian Cole. Jim Harbaugh is an OUTSTANDING football coach & he knows how to get the most out of his players & this team is talented. Michigan should be able to run at will. Expect a big improvement. DEFENSE: Like the offense, the defense has some very good talent despite some losses & Michigan has some tremendous athletes. The LBs lose Jake Ryan but have both Joe Bolden & Desmond Morgan returning who could be all conference. They lose Frank Clark on the DL but DEs Taco Charlton & Mario Ojemudia are solid options who are also very big. Michigan averages 6’4.25″ & 288lbs along the DL. S Jabril Peppers & Stanford transfer CB Wayne Lyons should anchor a secondary that also has CB Jourdan Lewis & S Jarrod Wilson as returning starters. The defense allowed 22.4PPG in ’14 but is better this year. SCHEDULE: Tricky. Michigan opens on the road against Utah & also draws Oregon St. & BYU as OOC games although both are in Ann Arbor. They get both Michigan St. & Ohio St. at home in big rivalry games that anything could happen but Michigan has some tricky road games against Indiana, Minnesota & Penn St.. Northwestern is also on the slate. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 4-8 which seems impossible with Harbaugh.
#5 OFFENSE: The Hoosiers come into 2015 much the same way they came into 2014. High expectations on offense & the hopes of 6 wins to get bowl eligible. The offense last year took a downturn when QB Nate Sudfeld got hurt. Backup Zander Diamont was definitely not the answer as IU sputtered to 1-6 in their final 7 games. Sudfeld returns this year along with 4 returning O-Linemen, but IU loses an awful lot of skill position players headlined by all-world RB Tevin Coleman (2038yds/15TD in ’14). IU also lost their top receiver in Shane Wynn. All hope isn’t lost in Bloomington however. UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard (1587yds! in ’14) takes over & IU shouldn’t miss a beat. The Hoosiers also have some high upside at WR in Camion Patrick, Simmie Cobbs & Dominque Booth. The offense should be better & IU will score more than the 25.1PPG they posted in 2014. DEFENSE: For as much publicity the offense has gotten in the Kevin Wilson era, it ultimately has come down to defense where Indiana has yet to allow fewer than 32PPG since 2009! The Hoosiers return 5 starters from a defense that allowed 32.8PPG a year ago which doesn’t portend to success. The good news is that Indiana isn’t completely devoid of talent on the defensive side. DT Darius Latham, LB Tegray Scales, LB Nile Sykes, LB TJ Simmons and SS Antonio Allen all have talent. The question is can Indiana finally put some decent defensive numbers together? SCHEDULE: Not brutal but Indiana drew some winnable games on the road in Penn St., Maryland & Purdue. They do get Michigan & Ohio St. in Bloomington but those will be tough battles. An OOC road trip to Wake Forest probably won’t be terribly easy either. They do get Rutgers & Iowa at home. BEST CASE: 9-3; WORST CASE: 1-11 & Kevin Wilson is looking for employment.
#6 OFFENSE: With only 5 starters back from an offense that scored 26.7PPG last year, you might expect the Scarlet Knights to struggle offensively especially with QB Gary Nova (#2 all time passer in Rutgers history) graduating the program. That might not happen. Rutgers has Chris Laviano & Hayden Rettig (LSU transfer) taking over for Nova & they should approximate Nova’s numbers which weren’t stellar (57.2%/22TD/12INT). Paul James & Josh Hicks return at RB while WR Leonte Carroo is a huge weapon at WR (55rec/1086yds/11TD in ’14). Rutgers has just 2 starting O-Linemen returning but there is a lot of size & talent all along the line. I like this offense quite a bit & think it has some tremendous upside especially if the QB situation settles & RB Paul James can remain healthy all season. HC Kyle Flood is doing a great job here. DEFENSE: While the offense has 5 returning starters but has some upside, the defense has 5 returning starters without the feelings of optimism! Rutgers loses 5 of their top-7 tacklers although LBs Steve Longa & Quentin Gause return who were the team’s top-2 tacklers. The LBs corps is the strongest part of the defense with Longa & Gause along with South Carolina transfer Kaiwan Lewis. I’m most excited about DT Darius Hamilton & DE Kemoko Turay who could both be all conference defenders. Rutgers needs their secondary to come together, but I think the front-7 could do some serious damage if they all stay healthy. SCHEDULE: If Kyle Flood wants to make it 4 bowls in 4 years, Rutgers is going to have to take care of their OOC schedule against Norfolk St., Washington St., Kansas & Army. Wazzou could be a tough one although it’s at home. Rutgers draws Wisconsin & Nebraska from the West. They get Indiana & Michigan on the road! BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 3-9. 
#7 OFFENSE: Maryland had the best offensive output they’ve have under HC Randy Edsall, posting 28.5PPG en route to a 7-6 season. The offense might look towards a downturn in 2015 as they return just 6 starters & lose QB CJ Brown who also led the team in rushing a year ago. Maryland should find the going fairly rough offensively this year as Brown is gone, and they also lose their top-2 receivers in Stefon Diggs & Deon Long. Caleb Rowe takes over at QB while RBs Brandon Moss & Wes Brown should give Maryland RBs who actually lead the team in rushing. The rest of the offense is a little thin. The receivers are small although Marcus Leak might be OK. The O-Line returns 3 starters but this is a line that allowed 37 sacks & paved the ray for the Terps to average a measly 3.7ypc on the ground. There isn’t much upside here at all. DEFENSE: Maryland brings back just 4 starters from a below average defense that allowed 30+PPG in 2014. Maryland loses 6 of their top-9 tacklers including #1 tackler LB Cole Ferrand. Maryland will be especially thin up front as they returns just one starter (DE Yannick Ngakoue) to their front-7! Something else to keep in mind is that Maryland is moving to a 4-3 defense meaning they are a little off in their personnel. Ngakoue is just 6’2/250 which profiles more as a 3-4 OLB than  4-3 DE. The secondary returns 3 of 4 starters including CB William Likely who is outstanding & S Sean Davis who is solid. Rutgers needs a lot of guys to step up, but Ngakoue, Likely & Davis are good starting points. SCHEDULE: The OOC is easy outside of a road date against West Virginia. Drawing Wisconsin & Iowa (road) from the West hurts a bit. Maryland gets Indiana at home which is winnable but travels to Rutgers which is a tough blow. They are at Ohio St. & Michigan St.! BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 2-10. Beware of Bowling Green.

 

BIG 10 EAST OVERALL OUTLOOK: The division is Ohio St.’s to lose without question. I think what is most interesting about the Big 10 is the response to Urban Meyer coming to Columbus. In his 3 years at the helm, Ohio St. has gone 36-3 including a 12-0 season in 2012 & a national championship in 2014! That’s amazing. What we’ve seen though is Penn St. go out & grab James Franklin, a coach on the rise that showed you could win at Vanderbilt despite playing in the most brutal conference in college football. Michigan went out and hired Jim Harbaugh who could be arguably the best college coach on the planet. Michigan St. already had Mark Dantonio, a disciple of Nick Saban. I think this division is fascinating. Michigan St., Michigan, Ohio St. & Penn St. are 4 of the most intriguing teams in college football for various reasons. Maryland, Rutgers & Indiana almost seem like forgotten teams in a division so rich in football history regarding the other 4 but the “little brothers” can have successful seasons too. Harbaugh is a HUGE game changer making Michigan must watch football every Saturday!

 

RANK B1G WEST COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: It’s very difficult to get a feel for how Nebraska might perform offensively. The Huskers scored 37+PPG last year primarily as a rushing offense. This year under new HC Mike Riley, Nebraska might try to be more of a passing offense given Riley’s propensities at Oregon St.. We’ve seen this before in Lincoln when Bill Callahan was the HC & it didn’t work out so well. Nebraksa will be dealing with losing RB Ameer Abdullah (1611yds/19TD) along with leading WR Kenny Bell. They also lose the entirety of their interior offensive line. The good news is that QB Tommy Armstrong returns along with WRs Jordan Westerkamp & De’Mornay Pierson-El. Nebraksa also has 4 senior starters across the line & while the RB numbers will dip, Imani Cross & Terrell Newby should be OK. There will be growing pains & I’m not sure how great Armstrong is, but there is still a lot here. DEFENSE: This isn’t your father’s Nebraska defense. Nebraska loses 4 of their top-5 tacklers along with all-world DE Randy Gregory who is a massive loss. It’s Nebraska so there is a lot of talent on hand for Nebraska but can it come together? DTs Maliek Collins & Vincent Valentine should be tough to handle leaving room for DE Greg McMullen to work. S Nathan Gerry also returns & has All-Big 10 ability. SCHEDULE: Nebraska’s schedule is what really separates the Huskers from the rest of the Big 10 West. Nebraska gets Wisconsin, Northwestern & Iowa in Lincoln! They also get Michigan St. at home! Their conference road games come against Rutgers, Minnesota, Purdue & Illinois! Nebraksa doesn’t have the easiest OOC schedule there is with Miami-FL on the road & a season opener at home against BYU, but the conference schedule couldn’t have set up better. BEST CASE: 11-1 (they can’t beat Sparty). WORST CASE: 2-10. Huge range here.
#2 Let’s forget breaking down the offense & defense for a minute when talking about Wisconsin football. From 2009-2014 the Badgers have won 60 games. They’ve been to 3 Rose Bowls. They’ve finished in the top-10 on 2 occasions and have finished in the top-25 in 5 of those 6 seasons. The only team in the Big 10 who has won more games over the same span has been Ohio St., although the Buckeyes have been to just one Rose Bowl during the period that Wisconsin has been to 3. To Ohio St.s credit, they are coming off a National Championship season & they did go 12-0 in 2012 when they were banned from bowl play. What I’m trying to argue is that Wisconsin has been the most consistent & dominant team in the Big 10 outside of Ohio State for over the past 6 years. What’s interesting is that they will no welcome in their 3rd HC in a 4-year span. Bret Bielema went to 3 straight Rose Bowls from 2010-2012 & won 2 straight Big 10 conference championships in 2011-2012, yet picked up for Arkansas in what looked to be a move down. Utah St. HC Gary Andersen came in & went 20-7 in 2 years & bolted this past season for Oregon State in what looked to be another move down. I can sort of see leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas if you wanted to be in the SEC, but why would anyone leave Wisconsin for Oregon St.? Paul Chryst now comes in to Madison. Chryst was born in Madison. Played QB for Wisconsin & was the OC from 2005-2011. By all accounts, you can’t get more Madison than Paul Chryst so the Badger faithful have to happy that they could have incredibly stability at the HC position assuming Chryst turns out to be another HC like Barry Alvarez or Bret Bielema. This story provides a narrative that program fit is extremely important in looking for a HC. BEST CASE: 11-1 (I can’t see a win over Alabama). WORST CASE: 6-6.
#3 OFFENSE: Injuries hammered Northwestern last year before the season started. RB Venric Mark was out for the season along with WR Christian Jones. I had called for Northwestern to win the B1G West but was dubious about their luck before the season began. Luckily, true frosh RB Justin Jackson stepped up & ran for 1187yds/10TD in Mark’s place. WR Kyle Prater also did a decent job becoming the #1 WR. What hurt Northwestern the most on offense in 2014 was their QB play & their offensive line. QB Trevor Siemian was brutal completing 58.2% of his passes with 7TD to 11INT. He also rushed for -123yds in 68 attempts! The O-Line allowed 34 sacks & NW’s rushing attack averaged just 3.4ypc. This year Jackson will only get better while the O-line returns 3 starters with 4 starters being upperclassmen. The QB situation is iffy with Clayton Thorson, Matt Alviti & Zach Oliver but any of them will most likely be better than Siemian. Expect more than 23PPG. DEFENSE: The Wildcats return their entire D-Line & 7 of their top-10 tacklers. They also return 3 of their 4 DBs. DE Dean Lowry has all-conference talent as does CB Nick VanHoose. The goods news is that Northwestern has solid talent across the board defensively with 9 upperclassmen starting. The one weakness could be the LBs corps which will have to deal with the loss of Chi Chi Ariguzo. Still, this is a solid that should be better than they were in 2014. SCHEDULE: Brutal OOC with Stanford & a road game against Duke. Northwestern also has road games against Nebraska, Wisconsin & Michigan! They do get Iowa & Minnesota at home which is a solid break, but I don’t think the home date with Penn St. will be easy. Most of the winnable games are at home so Northwestern should get bowl eligible. BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 2-10. The back of the B1G West is stronger.
#4 OFFENSE: It would seem Iowa is in a huge rebuild as they have just 5 starters back including a new QB, but I think there is some potential for the Iowa offense to be much better than people think. There was some controversy at the end of last season between QBs CJ Beathard & Jake Rudock but Rudock transferred to Michigan while Beathead takes over as QB1. You can make an argument than Beathead was better in the 4th quarter than Rudock last season & if Beathead can keep that over a full season, Iowa might have it’s best QB situation since Ricky Stanzi in 2009-2010. I also like RB Jordan Canzeri who will be 2 years removed from ACL surgery. WRs Tevaun Smith & Matt VandeBerg have some big play ability while TE Jake Duzey is a great pass catching TE. One thing we can also count on with Iowa is fantastic O-line play. Iowa was less than expected in ’14 but return their interior O-Line. The 2 tackles also have some big upside. This is certainly a glass half-full analysis but I like the potential here. DEFENSE: Iowa brings back 7 starters from a defense that allowed 26PPG last year. That isn’t Iowa defense, but there is a lot to be excited about this year. DE Drew Ott has all-conference potential as does CB Desmond King & S Jordan Lomax. The problem is the losses which are HUGE! DTs Carl Davis & Louis Trinca-Pasat are both in the NFL. S John Lowdermilk led the team in tackles & LB Quinton Alston was 2nd. It’s a lot to lose but the secondary should be solid as should the DEs. The LB are much more experienced too so overall I’d expect Iowa to be better. SCHEDULE: The anti-Nebraska, Iowa gets the Huskers, Northwestern & Wisconsin on the road! They also draw Indiana on the road which won’t be easy. They do get Illinois, Minnesota & Purdue at home along with Maryland, but draw Iowa St. in Ames. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 4-8.
#5 OFFENSE: After 4 frustrating years with Nathan Scheelhaase at QB, the Illini turned to Oklahoma St. transfer Wes Lunt to QB & was immediately ecstatic with the results. Lunt completed 64% of his passes for 1763yds with 14TD to just 3INT! The numbers would have been better had Lunt not missed 6 starts! Lunt is healthy to start 2015 so the Illini have to be beyond happy at the prospects. I also feel Illinois is on the verge of breaking out. They return 8 starter on offense including their leading rusher in Josh Ferguson & their top-4 receivers! WRs Mailk Turner & Geronimo Allison are 6’3 & 6’4 respectively. JUCO TE Andrew Davis is 6’6 giving Lunt some big targets to throw too. The O-line returns 3 starters & has 4 upperclassmen starting. Illinois also adds in RBs Ke’Shawn Vaughn & Henry Enyenihi. Illinois will threaten to score more than 30PPG for the first time since 2010! DEFENSE: The defense returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed 34PPG but there is reason to be optimistic. The D-line returns 3 starters and the secondary returns 3. They only have 2 big losses in S Zane Petty & LB Earnest Thomas but those losses are fine. LBs TJ Neal & Mason Monheim have all-conference ability. The D-Line averages about 6’4/290lbs which is exciting. DE Jihad Ward & S Taylor Barton should also have huge years. There is a lot to like about this defense & it should be improved. SCHEDULE: I would have had Illinois much higher except the schedule is nasty. Most of their winnable games are on the road while they draw Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Ohio St. at home. They also get road dates against Penn St. & North Carolina which doesn’t bode well for the Illini. Tim Beckman is doing a fine job in Urbana-Champaign & I hope he’s able to stick around. BEST CASE: 11-1 (really!); WORST CASE: 3-9
#6 OFFENSE: It might not have looked like it, but HC Darrell Hazell showed marked improvement in his offense from 2013 to 2014. The Boilermakers went from 14.9PPG to 23.8PPG. They also improved by 62yds of total offense. Purdue also improved by 2 wins. If they show the same improvement curve, Purdue will win 5 games & score 31PPG! That kind of offense could get them to a bowl. There is a lot to like about the offense. WR Danny Anthrop returns as a big play threat & the other projected starting WRs are all 6’2 or better. The entire O-Line returns which is a HUGE deal given the improvement the O-Line showed from year 1 to year 2 in the Hazell era. The huge question mark could be QB where rFR David Blough is expected to start. The 6’1/202lbs signal caller has been said to have quite a bit of Drew Brees & Brett Favre in him! If that’s true then look out because Purdue could contend in the West. DEFENSE: The Purdue defense made good strides in Hazell’s 2nd year as well improving by 6PPG & 44ypg! The Boilermakers return 7 starters on defense including all 3 LBs & both CBs. CB Frankie Williams is the only guy with legit all-conference capabilities but there could be some surprises. Purdue is fairly big up front but they need talent & a pass rush. Purdue hasn’t been able to get much pressure on the opposition since Ryan Kerrigan left. I’d like to see DE Evan Panfil step up. SCHEDULE: Purdue lucks out getting Minnesota, Illinois & Indiana at home. Those are winnable games in the friendly confines of Ross-Ade Stadium. The OOC isn’t bad outside of a home date against Virginia Tech. Purdue gets Wisconsin & Michigan St. on the road, but those were probably losses anyway. If Blough plays well & somebody replaces RB Akeem Hunt, this team will be fun. BEST CASE: 8-4; WORST CASE: 1-11 (Indiana St. should be automatic.)
#7 OFFENSE: The offense has improved by 3-4PPG in each year of Jerry Kill’s tenure in Minneapolis. If the trend continues, the Gophers will average 31-32PPG in 2015, which is something they’ve haven’t done since 2005! Losing RB David Cobb might look horrible, but Cobb averaged just 5.2ypc which is something RB Rodrick Williams has done during his career. Minnesota’s O-Line is going to be very good so it’s easy to suspect Williams might be on the verge of having a big year in this offense that is very run heavy. QB Mitch Leidner also returns & while he wasn’t great in 2014, Leidner is a threat to run & his passing numbers have nowhere to go but up. The O-Line returns 4 starters & I think Minnesota is intriguing at WR with KJ Maye, JJ Jones & Nate Wozniak who is 6’10! The offense will be solid & Cobb’s loss will be minimal. DEFENSE: LB Damien Wilson & S Cedric Thompson were NFL Draft picks & will be hard to replace, but those are the only losses to the back-7 which should actually get better as the unit is more experienced. CBs Eric Murray & Briean Boddy-Calhoun have all-conference talent & should be playing on Sundays eventually.  LB De’Vondre Campbell could have a big year. I’d also keep & eye on DEs Theiren Cockran & Hendrick Ekpe. Cockran at 6’6/260lbs is a load & could be headed to the NFL. Minnesota should be very good off the edge. SCHEDULE: I hate putting Minnesota here because I think HC Jerry Kill is amazing but the schedule sets up tough for the Gophers. They draw Michigan & Ohio St. out of the East & also get Purdue, Northwestern & Iowa on the road. The Big 10 West is interesting because there is certainly a lot of intrigue surrounding teams that haven’t been good for awhile. Minnesota is no different here as Kill keeps improving the on-field product. BEST CASE: 10-2. WORST CASE: 2-10. (won’t happen under Kill!)

 

BIG 10 WEST OVERALL OUTLOOK: Massive parity. While the East is dominated by Ohio St.’s huge odds to win the division, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see any of the 7 teams finish on top an that includes Purdue, Minnesota & Illinois. I think every team has a story line that is compelling and I don’t think these intra-divisional games will feature any blowouts. Wisconsin & Nebraska are interesting because they should be the 2 best teams in the league but are both bringing in new HCs! How crazy is that? Northwestern could have a huge storyline brewing with Pat Fitzgerald. While I don’t see Fitzgerald leaving Evanston anytime soon, he’s a FANTASTIC HC and at some point he’ll draw interest. He’s too young and he’s entering his 10th year at Northwestern! Iowa, Purdue & Illinois have crazy QB stories to watch involving CJ Beathead, David Blough & Wes Lunt respectively. The Gophers have HC Jerry Kill who keeps making the Gophers better. If he keeps up his trend since taking over for Minnesota, the Gophers could be in line for 10 victories in 2015! Everything is up in the air in this division which should make it fun from the beginning.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Predictions, Previews, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

4 DOWNS – RUNNING BACKS RUNNING WILD!

FIRST DOWN!

NICK CHUBB – GEORGIA. Before the season began nobody in Athens thought Nick Chubb would be a feature back given that incumbent RB Todd Gurley was though to be a Heisman trophy hopeful. With all the injuries that Gurley has suffered through, the highly touted Chubb has had an opportunity to shine in his true freshman year for a Bulldogs team that could still find its way into the playoffs if things break right in the SEC. Through 11 games this season Chubb has rushed for 1,152 yards & 11TD averaging 7.2ypc. He didn’t see much run time with Gurley in action but his last 6 games, Chubb has rushed for 928yds & 9TD while averaging 7.1ycp! Chubb has a shot at a record setting season. If Missouri loses to Arkansas then Georgia will get 3 more games. Chubb has averaged 155yds/G over his last 6, but let’s assume he gets 130yds/G in his final 3 games. That would give him a season ending total of 1,542yds. That would rank 5th all time in Georgia history behind Herschel Walker’s 3 seasons & Garrison Hearst’s junior season although he’d be just 5 short of Hearst so it’s possible he winds up 4th on the list. Chubb is on pace to break the record for yards per carry in a season with his 7.18ypc average. What’s interesting to me is whether or not Chubb has a chance to break Walker’s career rushing record while at Georgia. If he ends the season with 1500yds and replicates that over the next 3 seasons, staying all 4 years in Athens, then Chubb would finish his career with 6000yds or more. Walker’s Georgia record (and SEC record!) is 5,289yds! Walker did it in 3 seasons which is an average of 1763yds/season so Chubb will probably fall short of that incredible pace, but he does have a shot at becoming the SEC’s all-time leading rusher given his production thus far at Georgia. It has been an amazing run for the true freshman who has been the best offensive freshman in the entire country & a big reason why Georgia’s been able to go 9-2 despite the loss of their most lethal offensive weapon for the majority of the season.

SECOND DOWN!

TEVIN COLEMAN – INDIANA. Player A has has the following stats: 11G/241att/1906yds/15TD/7.91ypc. Player B has the following stats: 11G/254att/2109yds/25TD/8.30ypc. Player A is Tevin Coleman of Indiana. Player B is Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin. Not all that different except Gordon plays for a 9-2 Wisconsin squad that wins the B1G West if it upends Minnesota on Saturday while Coleman hones his craft for a Hoosiers squad that has limped its way into a 3-8 season going into their rivalry game with Purdue. Gordon & Coleman are #1 & #2 respectively in rushing yards this season & rushing yards per game. If both aren’t 1st team All-Americans then something is wrong with the voting process. I would expect Gordon to get the nod. He’s been nothing short of spectacular, but Coleman would be a Heisman finalist if he were playing for a winning team & in some ways what Coleman has done is more impressive given how bad the Indiana team has been this season. Coleman has already broken Vaughn Dunbar’s single season rushing record of 1,805yds set back in 1991, but he’s got a chance to add even more distance. If Coleman posts his game average against the Boilermakers, Coleman will end his junior season with 2,079yds! He’s also on pace to score 16-17 TDs which will fall quite a bit short of Anthony Thompson’s 26TD in 1988! What is really interesting with Coleman is whether or not he’ll enter the NFL Draft after this season. The tricky part for Coleman is that it doesn’t look like he’s a top-3 round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. With RBs not as coveted as they have been historically, you wonder if Coleman might not return for his senior season. To be fair, the Hoosiers were somewhat handcuffed this season by losing starting QB Nate Sudfeld. Sure they lost early to Bowling Green but maybe HC Kevin Wilson can have a big breakout year in 2015 with Indiana winning 7-8 games. If Coleman can come back & improve on his 2014 numbers, he’s likely to not only push himself into Heisman contention but also potentially make himself the #1 RB off the board in the 2016 NFL Draft. He would have a shot at breaking Thompson’s all time rushing record of 5,299yds & also Thompson’s TD record of 26. Coleman might also get Indiana their first NYC invite since Thompson back in 1989. Thompson turned that into the #31 overall draft pick in 1990 by the Phoenix Cardinals. That would be the equivalent of a 1st round pick with today’s 32 teams so there is incentive for Coleman to return to Bloomington. With that said, Coleman has had a MONSTER season and if he chooses to take his talents to the NFL then you can hardly blame him. The 6’1/215lbs RB has the ability to succeed in the NFL.

THIRD DOWN!

MELVIN GORDON – WISCONSIN. You knew things might get silly with Melvin Gordon when he averaged 10.1ypc his redshirt freshman season back in 2012 with a total of 621yds. Last year was even crazier as Gordon led the Badgers in rushing with 1609yds/12TD/7.8ypc despite getting even less carries than James White who finished with 1484yds/13TD/6.5ypc! Gordon is easily going to destroy Wisconsin’s record for yards in a season & he’ll actually destroy the Big 10’s all time record for yards in a season, a record he is currently tied with another Badger great, Ron Dayne. Gordon though has potentially 3 more games left. He’s averaging 192yds per game meaning he could finish the season with 2,685 yards & 32TD! The record for most years in a season is 2,628 which was set by Barry Sanders back in 1988! It’ll be tough for Gordon to get there I think because it cuts so close, but AT WORST Gordon will just miss which is nothing to feel bad about. What Gordon probably won’t do is break Sanders’ record for TD in a season which he also set in 1988 with 37. Unless Gordon goes insane in his last 3 games, he’ll probably come up a bit short in that endeavor. If Gordon does wind up with 2,685yds this season, he’ll have amassed a career rushing total of 4,915yds which amazingly would put him at only 3rd in Wisconsin history! Ron Dayne’s record is 7,125! Montee Ball is 2nd with 5,140! If Gordon were to return for his senior season and ran for 2,000 yards, he’d still be about 200 short of Dayne’s school record! Gordon also broke the single game rushing record this season with 408yds against Nebraska although Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine broke that record a couple of weeks later! Gordon has ran for at least 200yds in a game 5 times this season. Amazingly enough he failed to eclipse the 100yds mark on just one occasion which was Wisconsin’s 2nd game this season against Western Illinois! They were able to hold Gordon to just 37 rushing yards on 17 carries and were the only squad this year to hold Gordon to no rushing TDs! The big question now is whether or not Gordon can replicate what Dayne did back in 1999 & give Wisconsin another Heisman Trophy winner. I’m not sure how you couldn’t give it to Gordon. He’ll have around 2500 rushing yards & 30TD by the time the vote goes down & really there aren’t any other viable candidates outside of Marcus Mariota & possibly JT Barrett. I don’t think Dak Prescott is a factor any longer & I’m not sure Amari Cooper can steal it away. It might come down to whether or not Wisconsin can win out. If they lose to Minnesota then I think it gets more difficult for Gordon. If they beat Minnesota & lose to Ohio St. then I think the voters will give pause. If Wisconsin beats Minnesota & Wisconsin & wins the B1G Championship, then I don’t see a scenario in which Gordon doesn’t win the Heisman. I’d give it to him no matter what & either way I think he heads off the NFL after this season.

FOURTH DOWN!

JARVION FRANKLIN – WESTERN MICHIGAN. Meet the best RB in the nation you haven’t heard. I live in the middle of MAC country so Franklin isn’t an unfamiliar name even if you don’t really pay too much attention to MAC football. Franklin is a true freshman RB out of Illinois that wasn’t that highly regarded coming out of high school by the big time schools despite being 6’0/220lbs! That’s incredible size for a RB and makes him equal if not slightly bigger than guys already mentioned here like Tevin Coleman & Melvin Gordon. Western Michigan has COMPLETELY turned around their program this year! Last season the Broncos went 1-11 which set a record for most losses in a season! This year WMU is 8-3 and 6-1 in MAC play. They have a chance to win the MAC West if they can end the season with a win over Northern Illinois & Toledo gets a win over Eastern Michigan. That isn’t going to happen so at best WMU ends the season 9-3 (7-1) and finishes 2nd. Still, they’ll get to a bowl game with a chance to get to double digit wins! Franklin announced his presence with authority in W. Michigan’s opener against Purdue, rushing for 163yds/3TD in the Broncos 34-43 loss. He came up a bit short in Western Michigan’s big game against Toledo but the kid should come close to rushing for 1700yds/25TD by the time his 2014 season ends! The Broncos haven’t been to a bowl since 2011 & that should end this season. So where could Franklin wind up in WMU history? If he keeps his current pace he’ll finish the season with 1,690 rushing yards. Let’s adjust that down to 1600 because Franklin’s pace has dropped a bit. His 1600 yards would fall just short of WMU’s single season rushing record set by Shawn Faulkner in 1983 with 1,668yds. Franklin’s 23 rushing TDs is already a WMU record. If Franklin keeps this current pace  he’ll have no problems eclipsing Robert Sanford’s career rushing record of 4,219yds. Franklin will have that during his junior season. Sanford also holds WMU’s career rushing TD record with 43. That’s another record Franklin should hold sometime by his junior season. As you can see, Franklin has a shot to go down as the greatest RB in Western Michigan. Maybe more importantly WMU, behind Frankin, should be a force in the MAC as long as Franklin is running the ball which means the Broncos could go 4 bowls in 4 years. That’s never been done in WMU history! Keep an eye on Kalamzoo for the next few seasons. Franklin is worth the price of admission.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Big 10, Georgia, Indiana, Jarvion Franklin, MAC, Melvin Gordon, Nick Chubb, Running Backs, SEC, Statistics, Tevin Coleman, Western Michigan, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

BIG 10 OUTLOOK WITH 6 WEEKS LEFT

The College Football Season is over half finished. With the playoff selection committee ready to reveal their playoff rankings in 2 weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of where each team is in each conference and what to look for as we head down the stretch. Getting in position to make the playoffs or even to get bowl eligible will start to dominate the college football landscape. Starting with the Big 10, let’s take a look at where everyone is and what we should expect to see from each team moving forward.

 

BIG 10 EAST

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 All Michigan St. needs to do now is win. The Spartans get good games against Ohio St., Michigan & Maryland & if they win will be 11-1 & will be favored for the B1G Championship. For the Spartans to make the playoffs they’ll need some help. The loss to Oregon in Week 2 isn’t killer but the Ducks are getting better. If Oregon winds up 12-1 then they obviously get a spot ahead of Michigan State. You know the SEC champion is going to get a spot as is Florida St. if the Noles go 13-0 which seems likely. An 11-1 TCU team would be hard to keep out as would a 2nd SEC team. Vegas thinks that if Michigan St. gets into the playoffs they are most likely to win. They have to get there first.
5-1 After losing to Virginia Tech, Ohio St. has gone 4-0 outscoring their opponents 224-69! The loss to Virginia Tech is brutal seeing how the Hokies are 4-3 (1-2) in the ACC! There is simply no way to spin the loss in a positive light unless VA Tech goes crazy, finishes the season 9-3 (6-2) & wins the ACC title which doesn’t seem likely. The Buckeyes do have games against Michigan St., Minnesota & Michigan left so they can look a lot better. Should they win out & win the B1G they’ll be 12-1, but they’ll need a ton of help. Any 1-loss team from a Power 5 conference will look better than Ohio St. as would Notre Dame. They need a lot of 2-loss teams & their name to help them.
5-2 The Terps could win the Big 10 I suppose. If they win out they’d be 10-2 (7-1) but they would need Ohio St. to lose twice as one loss wouldn’t cut it as Ohio St. destroyed Maryland just a couple of weeks ago. Eve if Maryland winds up 11-2, it’s unlikely they get into the playoffs having losses to Ohio St. & West Virginia. A more likely prospect for Maryland is just concentrating on getting bowl eligible. They only need one more win bt their remaining schedule has road games against Penn St., Wisconsin & Michigan with home dates against Michigan St. & Rutgers. I think there are 3 winnable games left meaning Maryland could get to 8-4 (5-3) which would be huge in year 1 of the B1G.
5-2 I didn’t think Rutgers would win 3 games when the season began so the fact that they are 5-2 through 7 games should have ever Knights fan celebrating a successful season. Rutgers playoffs hopes are abysmal. Their remaining schedule is nasty & even if they were to get to 10-2 they’d need a ton of help because of their loss to Penn State. As with Maryland, the focus should be on getting that 6th win, but Rutgers has: at Nebraska, Wisconsin, bye, Indiana, at Michigan St. & at Maryland left on the schedule. The home game against the Hoosiers looks like their best bet. Going 6-6 would be a huge success for Rutgers in their first season. A much better than expected year.
3-4 At this point I don’t think there is anything that could save Brady Hoke’s job. There is no way Michigan can get into the playoffs and with road games against Michigan St. & Ohio St. left on the slate, the best the Wolverines can hope for this season is a bowl eligible 6-6. That would require getting 2 wins from Indiana (home), Northwestern (road) & Maryland (home). All 3 of those teams will be playing for their own bowl eligibility so they won’t be easy wins for Big Blue. This isn’t a bad situation to step into. Michigan could potentially have 18 returning starters for 2015. There is talent here & it’s still Michigan. They bailed on Rich Rodriguez too early. A good hire is needed.
4-2 Penn St. still has half of its season left so there is a lot of football to be played. Penn St. could theoretically still win the B1G. They have Michigan St. & Ohio St. left on the schedule. Those teams play each other so Penn St. beating one of them would give that team 2 losses with PSU owning the tiebreaker. They would need the winner of OSU/MSU to lose again, but I guess it’s possible. With losses to Northwestern & Michigan, an 11-2 Penn St. team still wouldn’t make the playoffs. Penn St. could win 4 of their final 6 and that should be the focus. Not many people expected too much from James Franklin in his first season but if the Lions finish 8-4 (4-4), it would be an incredible year.
3-4 If Nate Sudfeld is lost for the season, Indiana’s 2014 campaign is completely over as Xander Diamont isn’t ready and the Indiana defense is just terrible. Indiana could get to 5 wins if they take care of Penn St. & Purdue at home which is certainly feasible if Tevin Coleman carries the offense & the defense can hold opponents to less than 30pts. What hurts Indiana is they have 3 games left on the road against Michigan, Rutgers & Ohio State. Rutgers & Michigan are going to be playing for bowl eligibility themselves so Indiana won’t have easy road dates there. A 5-7 year would be a hold year for IU as they were 5-7 last season. The Bowling Green & Maryland losses were deathly.

 

BIG 10 WEST

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 Can you believe Minnesota can make the playoffs? The Gophers are 6-1 (3-0) right now. The scare from Purdue doesn’t help their cause from a cosmetic perspective but Minny gets Ohio St. & Iowa at home. What hurts the Gophers is their final 2 games which are road dates against Nebraska & Wisconsin. Let’s assume Minnesota gets to 11-1 & wins the B1G to get to 12-1! Their lone loss comes from TCU so the Gophers have to hope TCU keeps winning. At this point if TCU wins out they’ll most likely win the Big XII if Oklahoma beats Baylor. I think Minnesota would also need the Pac 12 to have a 2-loss champion & only 1 SEC team in the Final 4. If all that happens, they are in!
6-1 Nebraska is in a good spot going forward. They just hammered a Northwestern team that beat Wisconsin. They do have to travel to Madison but that is the toughest game remaining & the Huskers get Minnesota in Lincoln. It’s hard to argue with Nebraska’s 27-22 loss to Michigan St. in East Lansing. It certainly would benefit Nebraska for Michigan St. to get to 11-1 so they could get a rematch against Sparty in the championship game. If Nebraska winds up 12-1 with their only blemish being a 5-pt loss at Michigan St., then it’ll be hard to keep them out of the playoffs. College football is better when Nebraska is dominating & college football has been waiting a long time.
5-2 The loss this week to Maryland virtually kills Iowa, dropping the Hawkeyes to 5-2. Oddly enough Iowa could still win the B1G West because they still have games against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota & Northwestern. If Iowa wins out they could be 10-2, but even an 11-2 season with a B1G championship wouldn’t help with losses to Iowa St. & Maryland. I think Iowa actually needs to focus on getting bowl eligible. They need 1 more win but their remaining schedule is: Northwestern, at Minnesota, at Illinois, Wisconsin & Nebraska. The Illinois game should give them at least 6 wins but Iowa has to be the most frustrating team in college football. They should be 7-0 right now.
3-4 Injuries have just ravaged Northwestern all season long. I really thought the Wisconsin game would determine the B1G West & Northwestern won that game. Unfortunately the Cats lost their first 2 and then was hammered last week against Nebraska. They’ve also lost to Minnesota so not only is Northwestern not going to the playoffs, but it’s almost impossible for them to win the West. I don’t think they can win at Notre Dame so at best Northwestern gets to 7-5, but it might be time for them to worry about bowl eligibility. They have road games against the Irish & Iowa. That means they’d need to win all 3 against Michigan, Purdue & Illinois. I wonder if Pat Fitzgerald would ever leave?
4-2 Losing at Northwestern is BRUTAL for Wisconsin, but not all is lost for the Badgers who actually have a pretty good team & a helluva coach in Gary Andersen. I don’t think the Badgers can make the playoffs even if they win out & win the B1G, finishing at 11-2. Losses to LSU & Northwestern would be too much, but Wisconsin does get Nebraska & Minnesota in Madison so there is a real possibility the Badgers could indeed finish 10-2 (7-1). The Badgers & Ohio St. are in the same boat to me. They are teams nobody is really talking about but who could end the season with great records. Can either team win a championship? No, but Wisconsin could finish 12-2 if they win out.
3-5 Purdue has a rough road ahead of them, but over their last 3 games, the Boilermakers have averaged 36PPG, played Michigan St. really tough, beat Illinois & almost upset Minnesota! The road doesn’t get any easier for the Boilermakers as their next 2 games come against Nebraska & Wisconsin, but their last 2 games (Northwestern at home & Indiana on the road) look very winnable meaning Purdue could be a 5-win team needing a miracle win against either the Huskers or Badgers to get bowl eligible. It’s worth noting that Purdue was 1-11 last season. Earlier this year Purdue looked terrible, but with 8 games down, Purdue is in the bowl discussion which is amazing.
3-4 The home loss to Purdue really put a damper on the season because I think nobody thought the Illini would beat Washington, Nebraska or Wisconsin. A win over the Boilermakers & Illinois would be sitting at 4-3 needing a couple of wins to get bowl eligible with Penn St., Northwestern & Minnesota left on the schedule. Instead, the Gophers are playing extremely well & Illinois gets them & Ohio St. in their next 2 games. Bowl eligibility is still on the table for Illinois, but their defense has been awful & that probably won’t change. When you look at the schedule, Illinois hasn’t beaten anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me if Illinois finished 3-9. A step backwards for HC Tim Beckman.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Playoffs, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

BIG 10 – WHAT DID WE LEARN IN WEEK 1?

In general you never really wanted to overreact to games from the first week of the season but the Big 10 had a couple of games that I think brought about seismic shifts in the way the Big 10 could play out. The first game was Northwestern’s loss at home to California. That was a real stunner as I had the Wildcats winning the B1G West! The showed me that Northwestern could be dealing with significant issues with their QB & right now are easily behind Iowa, Nebraska & Wisconsin in the West. That could change but a loss like this to open the season could signify the wheels coming off before Northwestern even gets started!

I think Rutgers win over Washington St. is crucial too. The Scarlet Knights were able to move the football at will. Granted, it’s Washington State but QB Gary Nova did a pretty nice job and the Rutgers receivers played well. Rutgers had the chance to trot out a pretty good offense this season & it looks like they are doing just that. They’ll face much tougher defenses in the Big 10, but if Paul James keeps running like he did against the Cougars, Rutgers is going to be better than people imagine.

The final game I thought signified a big shift in the Big 10 is Wisconsin’s 28-24 loss to LSU. I can’t be too hard on Wisconsin because a 4-point loss to LSU in their backyard is hardly cause for concern, but the Badgers have QB issues and that could hurt them down the road. With how Iowa, Northwestern & Wisconsin played this first week, Nebraska has to be feeling pretty good about themselves and even Iowa has to be pleasantly surprised as they get Nebraska, Wisconsin & Northwestern in Iowa City!

 

ROAD PTS WHAT WE LEARNED PTS HOME
EIU 20 No surprises here really as Minnesota relied heavily on the running game to beat Eastern Illinois by almost 4TD! The Gophers rushed the ball behind David Cobb & Berkley Edwards 40 times while the QBs attempted just 18 passes. Keep an eye on Edwards. He had a 42yd TD run & should get more time, splitting carries with Cobb. QB Mitch Leidner was OK going 9/17 for 144yds & 1TD but he didn’t make any mistakes. It took awhile for Minny to hit stride, leading only 14-0 at the half but they were up 35-0 early in the 4th before EIU scored some garbage TDs. LB Damian Wilson led the team with 10 tackles. 42
41 I didn’t expect Rutgers to come out & play this well on the road. I thought a lot of Rutgers offensive performance would rely on QB Gary Nova getting better. He went 16/27 (59.3%) for 281yds & 2TD/1INT. That’s much better than last season. The real story though is that WSU had no answer for RB Paul James who rushed for 173yds/3TD/6.0ypc! That’s great to see with Justin Goodwin switching positions. WR Leonte Carroo had 6rec/151yds/1TD including a 78yd TD score on the 1st play of the game. The Knights obviously had issues stopping Wazzou’s passing attack but who cares. 41 points & a win! Great start for 2014! 38
JSU 7 It was only Jacksonville St., but on a weekend where so many top-10 teams struggled, the Spartans put the hammer down. Michigan St. led 38-0 at halftime before putting in the JV team. QB Connor Cook had a ridiculous day going 12/13 for 285yds/3TD! The Spartans had the ball for almost 40 minutes & had 200+yds rushing while holding JSU to 22 rushing yards on 25 carries. MSU racked up 5 sacks & 3 interceptions. Didn’t commit a turnover & had 2 penalties. WR Tony Lippett had 4rec/167yds/2TD while RBs Jeremy Langford & Nick Hill rushed for 99yds. Michigan St. did what they were supposed to do which does matter. 45
26 A very sloppy game that included virtually no rushing attack from either team combined with 4 turnovers & 17 penalties for 137yds! I thought QB Christian Hackenberg would miss Allen Robinson, but Geno Lewis, DaeSean Hamilton & Jesse James combined for 26rec/398yds/1TD! This could be a bad sign for the B1G because UCF’s secondary is supposed to be one of the best in the nation & Hackenberg carved them up for 68%/454yds/1TD! Hackenberg did throw 2 picks so maybe PSU could have won this game earlier. PSU outgained UCF 511-246! Great defense by PSU; LB Mike Hull with 11 tackles, DT Anthony Zettel w/5TFL! 24
YSU 17 Illinois got the win but there are certainly concerns. I thought Illinois would be a ball-controlled offense considering what they had returning, but Youngstown St. dominated the line of scrimmage rushing for over 200yds & having the ball for 40+ minutes! After 3 quarters, YSU actually led 9-7! QB Wes Lunt took the game over in the 4th as Illinois outscored the Penguins 21-8, but Illinois couldn’t run the ball worth a darn. Lunt was great going 24/38 (63%) for 285yds & 4TD/0INT. It’s good that Lunt played well, but there has to be some worry about a defense that couldn’t get off the field & an offense that couldn’t run on YSU! 28
ISU 10 If you just look at the final score you might be a little disappointed in the Hoosiers’ 28-point performance because they averaged nearly 40PPG in ’13 & this is Indiana State! However, Indiana outgained the Sycamores 566-170, was 11/17 on 3rd down & rushed the ball for 455yds/4TD/6.6ypc! Tevin Coleman was a beast with 247yds/2TD/10.1ypc but D’Angelo Roberts 129yds/1TD/5.4ypc! Indiana’s O-Line was outstanding & don’t forget that defense had a great day. ISU was 2/14 on 3rd down & had just 30 rushing yards. Indiana completely DOMINATED this game from start to finish & HC Kevin Wilson has to be happy. 28
NIU 23 I don’t know what it is about Northern Iowa, but Iowa always seems to struggle with them a bit. QB Jake Ruddock was solid at 31/41 (76%) for 250yds/2TD/0INT, but Iowa had problems with their running game. Mark Weisman & Jordan Canzeri didn’t play all that well which was surprising. A lot of dinking & dunking with the passing game too although Derrick Willies had a 46yd reception. Defensively Iowa did a great job against the run but gave up quite a few passing yards. On the other hand NIU completed just 46% of their passes & threw 2 picks. Nothing to get excited about here but I would have liked to see more big plays. 31
14 Michigan wasn’t going to let a repeat of 2007 happen this season. The Wolverines left no doubt going up 42-0 early in the 3Q & racking up 560 total yards! The Michigan offense put on a clinic as QB Devin Gardner was 13/14 for 174yds/3TD. RBs Derrick Green & De’Veon Smith both have over a 100yds rushing & combined for 285yds/3TD/12.4YPC!!! WR Devin Funchess at 6’5/230lbs went 7rec/95yds/3TD & will be a redzone nightmare for opposing defenses. Defense was solid holding App St. to 4.1 yards per play & allowing a 51.5% completion mark. A really good day for an unproven O-Line. That’s very good news. 52
34 After seeing Ohio St. & Notre Dame play yesterday it does look like those teams will be losses for Navy, but I’m not discounting the Buckeyes struggling because that would make Navy a 10-2 team by year’s end. Navy actually led 7-6 at halftime & 14-13 late in the 3Q, but it did look like the Buckeyes finally wore the Middies down & outscored Navy 21-3 from that point forward. QB JT Barrett looked awfully good for never having any college experience & WR Dontre Wilson should get the ball every down! He’s ELECTRIC! Tyvis Powell led the defense with 13 tackles. This was a very good win that will look better over time. 17
34 The good news is that Purdue scored 43pts after averaging 14.9PPG in 2013! That’s a huge step forward. QB Danny Etling was OK but he threw 2TD & had no picks. The Purdue rushing game looked good with Raheem Mostert going for 146yds/2TD/6.6ypc & Akeem Hunt chipping in 78yds/1TD/5.2ypc. The O-Line paved the way for 226yds rushing & Etling was sacked only once. The bad news is that W.Michigan is SERIOUSLY awful & they still rolled up 34pts on Purdue & kept Etling pretty much a non-factor. WMU actually had more yards & Purdue & ran for over 200! These are VERY OMINOUS signs for the PU defense. 43
7 A ridiculous display of offensive firepower. The Cornhuskers racked up 784 total yards en route to 55 points! It took them a bit to warm up, but when they did GOOD GRIEF! Most impressive was NU’s running game. Ameer Abdullah ran for 232yds/1TD/11.0ypc while Terrell Newby added 107yds/2TD/6.7ypc! WRs Kenny Bell & Jordan Westerkamp really stepped up too combining for 11rec/241yds/1TD! Westerkamp even made a behind the back catch! QB Tommy Armstrong was solid. Defense was GREAT but star DE Randy Gregory hurt his knee & is day-to-day. That could be an issue if the injury lingers. Great 1st game. 55
31 This was the most shocking game of the day in my opinion. Before the season began I had Northwestern winning the B1G West & finishing the season 11-1! I had Cal having another bad year & finishing 1-11! Instead, the Bears walk into Evanston & go up 31-7 mid-way through the 3rd quarter! Cal QB Jared Goff had a great day & NW had no answer. The troubling part was NW QB Trevor Siemian. The senior QB completed just 52% of his passes & threw 2 picks. Over the last 5-years NW was 17-3 as home favorites & Cal was 2-14 as road underdogs. Sometimes games just don’t make sense. This is one of them. 24
JMU 7 Sure it was only James Madison, but Maryland had an excellent day & was up 45-0 after 3 quarters. I thought the Maryland pass defense had a great day holding JMU QB Vlad Lee to a 43% completion rate & picking him off twice. Offensively I would have liked to have seen a little more from QB CJ Brown, but the Terps running game was solid rushing for 285yds/5TD/5.7ypc. What’s interesting going forward is that Maryland’s defense was dominant against the run & they’ll face MUCH TOUGHER rushing attacks in the B1G which could foreshadow the problems Maryland could have keeping opponents offenses off the field. 52
24 A brutal loss for Wisconsin who led the game 24-7 midway through the 3Q. I couldn’t figure this game out while watching it. Wisconsin seemed to tire at the end which is why I think LSU outscored them 21-0 down the stretch but the Wisconsin offense looked awful & they only gave the ball to Melvin Gordon 16 times! Gordon in those 16 carries rushed for 140yds & a TD & even if you take away his 63yd run he still averaged 5.1ypc! Why not ride that train to a victory? I thought Wisconsin played great D although RB Kenny Hilliard got hot. Wisconsin needs to figure out their QB situation because Tanner McEvoy is terrible. 28

August 31, 2014 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Purdue, Rutgers, Week 1, Wisconsin | Leave a comment