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2017 BIG 10 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

When you think of overall story lines with the Big 10, there aren’t many you can actually come up with that can make it more of a national interest story the way the SEC easily does. The Big 10 is simply going to come down to 3 games for the most part:

Michigan @ Penn St. on October 21st
Penn St. @ Ohio St. on October 28th
Ohio St. @ Michigan on November 25th

For those story lines to break right, Michigan will need to beat Penn St. in State College and then Penn St. will need to lose to Ohio St. in Columbus which potentially sets up Ohio St. @ Michigan with both teams being 11-0 for a shot at the Big 10 East division title and a chance at the college football playoff. Of course if Penn St. beats both Michigan & Ohio State, the story lines becomes all about James Franklin, Trace McSorely and Saquan Barkley. That itself is a redemption story for the program after the horrific Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the program and threatened to decimate Penn State football for good. Penn St. would not only have climbed out of the mire of that situation, but would practically be sitting on top of the college football world again.

But the real story of the Big 10 might not be the incredible talent of Ohio State or the 2 Heisman Trophy candidates at Penn State. It might not be the incredibly talented youth arriving in Ann Arbor. The real story of the Big 10 could unfold on the first Thursday night of the season when Ohio St. begins their road to the playoffs with a road trip to Bloomington, Indiana! The Hoosiers could determine the Big 10 if only marginally. All of this goes for nothing if Indiana loses (which is definitely likely) but what if the Hoosiers catch Ohio St. early and pull off an upset. IU ostensibly loses on the road to Penn State but they get a young Michigan team at home and what if Indiana manages to beat the Wolverines? Their only other road conference games are against Michigan State, Maryland, Illinois & Purdue. All 4 games easily winnable. If Ohio St. beats Penn St. and Penn St. loses another conference game, then Indiana could wind up being the Big 10 East champions! If that sounds insane it is because IT IS!

But if you are looking for story lines outside of the 3 obvious games between Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State then Indiana gives you your best potential story by blowing up the Big 10 East when nobody is expecting it. The Big 10 West could be interesting with Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska all battling it out for the division title. Even Iowa potentially could make some noise and I think Purdue is going to surprise a lot of people this year with David Blough playing for new HC Jeff Brohm, but at the end of the day, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska aren’t elite teams and mostly like are nothing but fodder for whoever comes out of the East in the Big 10 championship game. Would anyone pick the Badgers, Wildcats or Cornhuskers any higher than 4th if they were playing in the Big 10 East?

Don’t get me wrong. A Wolverines, Buckeyes & Nittany Lions blood bath is MORE THAN ENOUGH of a story line to get everyone excited, but an under the radar Hoosiers squad provides just a hint of scandal that could push the Big 10 ahead of the SEC for national intrigue. It’s an exciting thought that would give the Big 10 more than 3 games to get excited about.

# TEAM BIG 10 EAST
1 Computer Hope Ohio State has averaged 12 wins per season since Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus and this year looks to be no different. JT Barrett returns as QB and is probably the best signal caller in the Big 10. The Buckeyes return an O-Line that features 4 starters from last season & RB Mike Weber also returns. They’ll need some receivers to step up, but this is a tough offense to stop. What separates Ohio St. for me is their defense & particularly their pass rushing duo of Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis. Those two are potential All-Americans & are going to be cut loose as Ohio St. will typically have the lead. Too much talent.
2 Computer Hope If you liked Penn St. last year you should love them this year! The Nittany Lions averaged 38PPG and almost everyone returns on offense. Their O-Line should be stellar and they are blocking for arguably the best RB (Saquon Barkley) in the nation. Trace McSorley isn’t crazy accurate but he limited his mistakes. PSU will need to find a replacement for Chris Godwin on the edge. I think Ohio St. is ahead of Penn St. because of the edge rushers. Penn St. returns just 6 starters on defense & lost both their edge rushers from last season. They also draw Ohio St. in Columbus. They definitely have the ability to finish the season 12-0!
3 Computer Hope Indiana throws a wrench into things in the East by finishing ahead of Michigan and for good reason. Last year HC Tom Allen coached the defense and Indiana improved their D by 10.4PPG and almost 130 yards! The Hoosiers return 9 starters on that unit with some legitimate playmakers in Nate Hoff, Greg Gooch, Tegray Scales & Rashard Fant. It was arguably the best defense the Hoosiers have had since 1993 when Bill Mallory led IU to an 8-4 mark. Offensively IU gets WR Simmie Cobbs back & QB Richard Lagow could make big improvements. They draw Michigan at home after a bye week. They could win 10 games.
4 Computer Hope Jim Harbaugh closed the talent gap between Michigan and the rest of the country in no time. Michigan is arguably as talented as any team in the nation but their inexperience is startling. The Wolverines return only 4 starters on offense losing their top-3 receivers, their leading rusher & 3 starters on the O-Line. QB Wilton Speight returns & has some incredible talent to work with but how will they put it together? Michigan also returns just a single starter on defense & lose 7 of their top-8 tacklers. I love Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary & Mike McCray but this team is young. They play at Indiana after hosting Michigan State. So 4th.
5 Computer Hope I thought HC DJ Durkin did a solid job taking a 3-9 team he inherited and getting the Terps back to a bowl game. I like what Maryland could do on offense especially if they feature RB Ty Johnson a lot more who averaged a ridiculous 9.1ypc en route to gaining over 1,000 yards rushing. DJ Moore is a solid piece on the outside and Maryland has quite a bit of talent on the O-Line. They’ll have to figure out the QB situation as Perry Hills graduated. Defensively, Maryland returns 7 starters and have some really interesting pieces like Jesse Aniebonam, Shane Cockerille, Jermaine Carters & JC Jackson. They’ll get back to a bowl.
6 Computer Hope Like their rivals Michigan, the Spartans are in for somewhat of a transition year as they return just 4 starters on both offense & defense. Unlike the Wolverines, Michigan St. is falling behind Ohio St., Michigan & Penn St. in the talent race. It’s instructive to note that Michigan St. & Mark Dantonio were wildly successful during the time that Michigan & Penn St. were faltering. That allowed Sparty to get a lot of kids who otherwise might have headed to those other two schools. Now that Jim Harbaugh & James Franklin have righted their respective ships, Michigan St. is sinking. Dantonio needs to figure out how to keep up.
7 Computer Hope Chris Ash has a tough road to hoe in New Brunswick as the Scarlet Knights finished up 2-10 last season and if they aren’t careful they could wind up 2-10 again this season. Rutgers has a talent problem and they aren’t going to be very successful recruiting if they keep losing double digit games a year. What is a coach to do? Hopefully hit the jackpot with transfers. Ash has done this with QB Kyle Bolin (originally at Louisville), WR Damon Mitchell (Arkansas), TE Jerome Washington (Miami-FL), WR Ahmir Mitchell (Michigan) and DB Ross Douglas (Michigan). It’s not a bad strategy but I don’t think it works in 2017.

 

# TEAM BIG 10 WEST
1 Computer Hope Tommy Armstrong was a good QB for Nebraska, but I think a QB like Armstrong hurts you just a bit because he limits your ceiling. He does enough to keep the job but not enough to push you towards championships. I’m buying the hype on Tulane transfer Tanner Lee. At 6’4/230lbs, he’s more of a conventional drop back QB and I think he fits with what HC Mike Riley wants to do on offense. The Huskers have a lot of talent on the O-Line so Lee should stay upright. The defense loses a lot but Freedom Akinmoladun returns & more importantly, Nebraska gets Northwestern & Wisconsin in Lincoln. The win the West.
2 Computer Hope I really like Wisconsin’s O-Line and think it is one of the best in the nation, but I think losing RB Corey Clement is going to be a tough loss and I’m not sure QB Alex Hornibrook is a game changing QB. At least not yet. I like the Hornibrook to TE Troy Fumagalli connection & WR Jazz Peavy has done a good job, but the Badgers are built on running and this questionable. On defense I think losing TJ Watt, Vince Biegel and now Jack Cichy is brutal! TJ Edwards is a beast for sure, but the Badgers have no proven edge rushers. They play at Nebraska the week after they host Northwestern. I think that game costs them the West.
3 Computer Hope I could easily see the Wildcats winning the West. QB Clayton Thorson isn’t the most accurate QB but the junior limits his mistakes on turnovers. RB Justin Jackson is a workhorse back that can grind a defense down and the O-Line has 4 returning starters along with all 5 projected starters being upperclassmen. Defensively the Wildcats bring back 8 starters from a unit that allowed only 22.2PPG a season ago & should be better. Replacing LB Anthony Walker is going to be very tough but NW should be fine. The problem I have with NW is them taking on Wisconsin & Nebraska on the road. However, they won those in 2015!
4 Computer Hope Iowa might be in somewhat of a transition season given that they are replacing their starting QB and breaking in a lot of receivers, but they return a veteran offensive line & RB Akrum Wadley who rushed for almost 1100 yards last year and averaged 6.4ypc! The projected starting QB is Nathan Stanley & if he can limit his mistakes, the Hawkeyes can play some smash mouth football. Defensively Iowa has to replace Desmond King &  Jaleel Johnson which is going to be very tough but they return 8 starters from a defense that allowed 19PPG. They have road games against Nebraska, Wisconsin & Northwestern.
5 Computer Hope I think Purdue surprises a lot of people and not only jumps out of the basement of the Big West, but jumps it by two places. If not for back to back road games against Northwestern & Iowa, I could potentially put the Boilermakers up to 4th. I’m a HUGE believer in QB David Blough & I think he’ll only get better under new HC Jeff Brohm. Purdue is pretty young offensively but RB Markell Jones can run a bit & Blough has a solid TE in Cole Herdman. The defense returns 8 starters on a terrible unit but LB Markus Bailey shows promise and frankly the D can’t get any worse. Getting Minnesota at home off a bye pushes them up.
6 Computer Hope I can’t wait to see how the Gophers “ROW THE BOAT” under new HC PJ Fleck, but this season might get away from the new HC as Minnesota has road games against Purdue, Michigan, Iowa & Northwestern while taking on Wisconsin and Nebraska at home. That could be 6 conference losses before the rowing ever gets started. The good news is that the offense wasn’t awful last season and RB Rodney Smith returns behind a decent O-Line. Minny breaks in a new QB in Demry Croft, but outgoing QB Mitch Leidner wasn’t great. The Gophers bring back just 5 on defense but DT Steven Richardson is a solid player in the middle.
7 Computer Hope Oh Lovie! Illinois is in for some heartache as the Illini bring back 5 starters from an offense that scored 19.7PPG and just 6 starters on a defense that allowed 31.9PPG. Smith had a tough road to hoe when he took over in Urbana-Champaign as Illinois hadn’t been good in almost a decade. The roster was depleted so it needs to be rebuilt. While Smith will hopefully depend on Virginia Tech transfer Dwayne Lawson to take over at QB, Smith is going about things a little bit different than Chris Ash at Rutgers in that he’s relying on recruits to build the roster up. The problem is that he’s not hammering the recruiting trail well.



BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

EAST BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP WEST
Computer Hope Frankly I think this game is going to get ugly. The Cornhuskers actually host the Buckeyes on October 14th so in some ways we should be able to see a preview of this game before it happens. Nebraska hopefully takes copious notes because on paper this looks like a massive pounding just waiting to happen. From an historical perspective I think it’s interesting because you get two historically great programs, but the on field product might be disastrous for Nebraska. Nebraska doesn’t have any chance to stop the Buckeyes in this one. Computer Hope

August 19, 2017 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, NCAA, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

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 | 5 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 2 – BIG GAMES

Week 2 is notoriously bad for college football and 2016 is no exception. Picking out the top-10 games were a bit rough, but these are the ten games I thought were most interesting for this week. To be honest, this is the one Saturday where, barring any major upsets, if you missed I don’t think you’d even notice. With that said, I do think there are some intriguing rivalry games and of course Tennessee & Virginia Tech will will play in an historic game because of an attendance record at “The Battle of Bristol.” Just be warned, this week’s action won’t come close to the tremendous week 1 we had.

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope The Holy War!! This is as great rivalry game as you get the sense these two teams really hate each other. It had taken a couple of years off although last season in the Las Vegas Bowl we got the game due to bowl matchups which Utah won 35-28. The last time we played in Salt Lake City, the Utes won 24-21. Utah is 10-3 over the last 13 meetings & have won 5 straight. These are two solid teams. Remember last year Utah was 10-3 while BYU was 9-4. I’m excited to see what BYU QB Taysom Hill & RB Jamaal Williams can do against the Utah defense. BYU had a solid win over Arizona to start the year so their confidence should be high although their schedule is NASTY! I think college football as a whole is better when BYU is more relevant. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Tennessee had massive issues last week with Appalachian St., so this week should be interesting with the Hokies at QB Jerod Evans coming to town. Evans had an amazing debut last week against Liberty passing for 221yds & 4TD while rushing for 46yds. The Hokies are underrated. They have 15 returning starters from a year ago & this is a team that probably should have beaten Ohio St. last year if Michael Brewer doesn’t get hurt. VT’s “best” case record last year was 11-2 & they avoid both Clemson & Florida State. The Vols of course need to get on track. Needing OT at home to beat App State is ridiculous so they need to come out and prove they are worthy of being in the national title discussion. This game is about the Vols. Computer Hope
Computer Hope An OUTSTANDING rivalry that we haven’t seen since 2000 which is WAY TOO LONG! A lot is going on in this one as I think James Franklin could be feeling tremendous heat if he flubs up early. The Lions weren’t overly dominant over Kent St. last week and they now have 3 straight games against Pittsburgh, Temple & Michigan. If Penn St. emerges 1-3 from their first 4 then I doubt Franklin is around considering he’d still have games against Ohio St., Iowa, Indiana & Michigan St. with a team short on confidence. That could turn into a 5-7 season at best. I think Pittsburgh is a big time sleeper team in the ACC. Pat Narduzzi has 16 starters returning although the schedule isn’t kind to them. Pitt has more than enough to get by Penn St. though. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Last season Washington St. opened up with a 24-17 loss to Portland St. and then went 5-1 in their next 6 and 8-2 in their next 10 climbing to #20 in the nation. After the opening home loss to Portland St., the Cougars went on the road to Rutgers and beat the Scarlet Knights 37-34. This season Wazzou once again goes on the road after a home opening loss to an FCS team, but this time it’s Boise State which is a completely different animal than Rutgers, but the parallels between the situations are striking. Like most Mike Leach teams, Wazzou airs it out with the best of them & that’s about all they do. What makes this interesting is that Boise has a real shot at 12-0 & Washington St. might be the toughest game they have on the schedule. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Baby steps. Last week SMU opened the season with a 34-21 win over North Texas. That seems inconsequential but it was the first season opening win the Mustangs have had since the 2000 season where SMU beat Kansas 31-17. I think the hiring of Chad Morris was a helluva move by the administration at SMU. Morris is a born & raised Texan & has made recruiting the state his priority almost the point of recruiting ONLY the state of Texas. It’s what he should do. Last year SMU was only 2-10 but that was a 1-game improvement from where they were in 2014 & Morris has 16 returning starters. I don’t think they have any shot at beating Baylor in Waco, but I think they’ll play extremely tough & if Baylor beats themselves, SMU wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both teams are coming off uninspiring opening weekends. Arkansas needed everything they had to beat Louisiana Tech 21-20 while TCU had all it could handle from South Dakota St. before pulling away with a 59-41 win. Still, it’s extremely hard to imagine a Gary Patterson led defense giving up 41 points to an FCS squad! The last 5 years have seen TCU’s defense get worse & worse. Through 1 game, that trend doesn’t appear to be changing. QB Kenny Hill did a great job for the Frogs last week and TCU was great at running the football. It’ll be interesting though with Arkansas because the Hogs will play a ball-control type rushing offense which should slow TCU down. If Arkansas can keep TCU out of the endzone early, this one will be interesting. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Tar Heels probably get a win over Georgia last week if they had run the ball a bit more. This would have served a couple of purposes. One, it keeps UNC’s defense off the field & allows them to rest. Two, it keeps Nick Chubb off the field running over your tired defense! On paper this isn’t much of a game. The Tar Heels are a legit national team while Illinois is trying to become average in the Big 10. On the other hand, the game is in Urbana-Champaign and you couldn’t help but feel the tangible excitement about the program last week in HC Lovie Smith’s debut! The Illini trashed Murray St. 52-3 & everyone was drinking the orange Kool-Aid! UNC is a different animal but Illinois could ride emotion at home to making this into a game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The bottom line is that last week USC was embarrassed on national television in primetime by an Alabama squad that showed everyone just how far away the Trojans are from being a serious national title contender. The bottom line also says that USC has as much talent as anyone in the nation. Utah State isn’t a bad program, but this is also the type of team that USC would beat 59-3 in the Pete Carroll era. If the Trojans come back this week in the Coliseum and completely dominate Utah St., then I think we can consider USC a top-20 team again & possibly better hoping that the Alabama game was simply one of those games that everything went wrong. If USC struggles here, then I think the season won’t be what we expected from the Men of Troy. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Battle for the Cyhawk Trophy! Like Colorado/Colorado State, the Iowa/Iowa State intra-state rivalry is one of my favorites. Matt Campbell did a great job at Toledo amassing a 35-15 & a couple of bowl wins. I was surprised that he took the Iowa St. job considering his star was on the rise. The Cyclones are in an almost unwinnable position in the Big 12. It’s impossible to recruit with Oklahoma or Texas, and Iowa is the state program & plays in the Big 10. The 2016 season didn’t start well as the Cyclones opened up with a 25-20 home loss to Northern Iowa. At best ISU can go 2-10/1-11 this season. That’s a tough road to hoe. In rivalry games you can throw out the records, but Iowa is playing extremely well so I think a blowout is coming. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This should be an interesting game for Notre Dame. Brian Kelly & DC Brian VanGorder are taking TREMENDOUS heat over last week’s defensive effort that yielded 50 points to Texas. Granted, the Longhorns might be a lot better on offense that I at first imagined, but the Irish were a potential national title contender & gave up 50 points in the opener. that’s inexcusable. Nevada has 10 returning starters on offense including their top-4 receivers, their QB & RB James Butler who ran for 1,342 yards last season & 10TD. Butler doesn’t have the same build as Texas RB D’Onta Foreman or QB Tyrone Swoopes who ND had enough problems stopping, but he’s effective. Like USC, Notre Dame needs a blowout in rather convincing fashion. Computer Hope

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Arkansas, Baylor, Big Games, Boise St., BYU, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa St., Must See Games, NCAA, Nevada, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn St., Pittsburgh, SMU, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Utah, Utah St., Virginia Tech, Washington St., Week 2 | Leave a comment

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 NCAA WEEK 11 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Alabama gets Charleston next week before playing at Auburn, but their 6 games before that will have been against: Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU & Mississippi State! A win this week gives them 6 straight against that schedule! GOOD GRIEF! The plan this week won’t vary too much from what they did against LSU. The Crimson Tide defense will take away Bulldog QB Dak Prescott & force Mississippi St. to beat them a different way. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think this game is even bigger than last week’s game between TCU & Oklahoma State. From the eye test Oklahoma has the best offense in the Big XII now that Baylor is without Seth Russell. I think the Sooners defense also has the most upside which gives me the sneaking suspicion that Bob Stoops’ bunch could be the best in the Big XII. Baylor of course is undefeated & trying to get into that playoff top-4. A win here would go a long way towards that. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not going to say the Ducks have figured it out, but they have been playing better recently, having won 3 straight by a combined score of 131-103. Oregon isn’t very good defensively. We know that, but they can score & they’ve played well on the road. Oregon can still actually win the Pac 12 North. If they win out & Stanford loses to both the Ducks & Cal, Oregon would win the North if Washington St. lose once more. Throw in the rivalry & this is awesome! Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game was on its way to being more epic before Keenan Reynolds & the Middies destroyed Memphis’ dreams of a perfect season! The Tigers have been running over teams with high-powered offense guided by QB Paxton Lynch but unlike Houston, Navy & Temple, Memphis is the one top AAC team that doesn’t play great defense. We saw what happened last week when Memphis ran into a great defense. Will history repeat itself this weekend against the Cougars? Computer Hope
Computer Hope I don’t expect Miami-FL to win this game but “THE U” is 6-3 which isn’t as bad as you would think given the scrutiny surrounding the program. Al Golden is gone so the team should be in disarray but they’ve recent beat Duke in Durham & they’ve had a couple of other good wins against Virginia Tech & Nebraska. Miami-FL also played Florida St. tough in Tallahassee. Carolina should role as Larry Fedora has something special going on, but it could be close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arkansas is the most dangerous team in the nation right now given their ability to spoil seasons. LSU is hanging on to their playoff hopes by a thread! While it seems nearly impossible for the Tigers to get to the playoffs as it stands now, it could potentially make a case if it blows everyone out & gets to 11-1 while Alabama destroys their remaining competition & gets to 12-1 with an SEC championship. I don’t want that pressure facing Arkansas. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Indiana isn’t an easy team to face. Just ask Iowa, Ohio St., Rutgers, & Michigan State. Sure the Hoosiers are 4-5, but they can put up some points & make you nervous with their ability to score quickly. Michigan is still playing for a chance to win the Big 10. Remember, the Wolverines win the East if they win out & Ohio St. beats Michigan State! I love it. I don’t see IU winning this game but they’ve been close to beating a top team all year. Could it happen here? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Notre Dame got a huge boost this week when WR Will Fuller decided to return to South Bend for his senior season. It looks like Fuller wants to go out as the most decorated Irish receiver in history! Not a bad goal to have! The win last week propelled the Irish into the top-4 in the playoff poll, but they can’t rest on their laurels. With Wake Forest & Boston College coming up, Notre Dame needs to accumulate serious style points as the Big XII creeps closer & closer. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Iowa should have no issues here with the Gophers, but that’s precisely why I think a game like this is dangerous. The Gophers have to be mentally exhausted this season. After they lost their HC Jerry Kill, the Gophers played their hearts out in losses against Michigan & Ohio State. I’m not sure how much they have left in the tank, but that is why the Hawkeyes can’t over look them. At #5 in the playoff rankings, Iowa is getting serious love. A national championship is a possibility! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Back in 2011, the Buckeyes went into West Lafayette to play an overmatched Purdue team, but came out with a 26-23 loss to the Boilermakers that completely derailed their season. This Ohio St. team is massively better than the 2011 version but the Buckeyes have been playing off kilter all season & Michigan St. showed us what could happen when you play with fire. JT Barrett returns so tOSU should role, but Illinois could put up quite a fight & that’s dangerous. Computer Hope
Computer Hope At 5-5 Arizona is in a desperate place. They need one more win to get bowl eligible but they have Utah this week at home & next week they play Arizona St. in Tempe. There are also massive rumors about Rich Rodriguez moving on after this season. It’s hard to get a feel when you back a team into a corner & Utah has to be on upset alert for this very reason. If the Utes win out, they’ll have a strong case at 12-1 for making the playoffs, but a loss here kills that dream. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A LOT MORE going on in this game that meets the eye. Wazzou can’t win the North as they lost a nail biter at home to Stanford which knocked them out. UCLA can still win the South if they win out as their last two games come against USC & Utah. At best, the Cougars can play spoiler but don’t think the opportunity to win 10 games is lost on Mike Leach. If Wazzou wins out & wins their bowl, they’ll finish with a 10-3 record. Plus, Josh Rosen v. Luke Falk! Can’t beat it! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Mark Richt never seems to be completely on the hot seat, but the Bulldogs have been disappointing and now all of a sudden they are going on the road to play an Auburn squad that just beat Texas A&M in College Station. Makes you wonder if the Bulldogs can pull this one out. On the other hand, it truly is a spectacle to see. Georgia should win out to get to 9-3 & a bowl win gets them to 10-3. It’s almost like Richt is a magician. He disappoints but still wins 10-11 a year! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure the heat is on Charlie Strong in the way it was before the Okahoma win, but it’s extremely hard to justify beating the Sooners 24-17 in Dallas and then dropping a game to Iowa St. 24-0 in Ames! The Longhorns hadn’t been shutout all season but the Cyclones manage that? I think Dana Holgorsen is coaching for his life at WVU & the Mountaineers can prove a point by finishing the season 8-4. That means Texas might finish 4-8. That’s heat Charlie! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Games like this are interesting because in a way you can get caught up in records. FSU is 7-2 & they seem down because they lost to Clemson & Georgia Tech. One reason you know FSU is back is because 2 losses feels like an utter disaster! NC State is 6-3 & have outscored their opponents by 134 points. Sounds good until you realize they are 2-3 in the ACC & haven’t beaten anyone of note. NC State lost to Clemson by 15 so there is hope here, but we’ll see. Computer Hope
Computer Hope My MAC Special!!!! Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois a couple of weeks ago muddies up the MAC West quite a bit. A dogfight between Toledo, NIU, Central Michigan & Western Michigan is in full force! The Rockets can get back some semblance of control with a win over CMU this week, but CMU can nail down the East with a win here as they’ve already beaten N.Illinois! Toledo still has to play Bowling Green & W.Michigan. This really is the Wild West! Computer Hope

November 14, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi St., Must See Games, NC State, NCAA, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Toledo, UCLA, Utah, Wake Forest, Washington St., Week 11, West Virginia | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 6 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope This game has the most potential to impact the rankings in my opinion. Northwestern is ranked #13 in the AP Poll despite my having them as the #2 ranked team in the nation. What really can’t be debated is that a Northwestern win will give the Wildcats wins over Stanford, Michigan & Duke. If Northwestern wins by 10 then it outdoes Utah’s win by 7 in Utah. Utah is ranked #5 in the AP. Wouldn’t NW have to be a top-3 team then? If Michigan wins & Utah stays unbeaten how is Utah not #1 & Michigan not #2 at this point? Great game! Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s amazing that these two are the last 2 unbeaten teams in the Pac 12. There is a lot going on here. California is off to an incredible start, but they haven’t really played anyone & their schedule now gets considerably tougher starting with a trip to Salt Lake City. QB Jared Goff is getting tons of press & now he’ll be able to show what he can do this season against a top flight defense. It’s amazing that Utah hasn’t played since blasting Oregon 62-20. That seems like forever ago. It’ll be nice to see the Utes back in action! Can’t wait! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Irish haven’t lost to Navy since 2010 but the last 2 years, ND’s won tight games. Navy is always a tough game to play for Notre Dame it seems just from the injury report a lone. The Irish hammered Georgia Tech so the triple option Navy runs shouldn’t be an issue & if ND plays to talent this should be a 50-10 game like it was in 2012, but I’m very curious to see how Notre Dame comes back after a crushing loss at Clemson. The Middies are 4-0 coming into this game so I’m certain their mindset is coming into South Bend to upset ND! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The jerseys alone are worth watching this one. Miami-FL might be one of the most difficult places to coach. It takes a certain kind of coach to pull it off. Al Golden doesn’t seem to have it. Randy Shannon didn’t have. Butch Jones did. Jimmy Johnson did. There is enough talent on Miami’s roster to win this game which would certainly shake up the ACC, but after getting housed at Cincinnati, my faith in the Al Golden regime is non-existent. On the other hand, FSU hasn’t played all that well lately against Boston College & Wake Forest. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Like Florida St./Miami-FL, this one is cool because of the jerseys & the fact that it’s the RED RIVER RIVALRY! I guess you can sort of throw the records out with this one. Last year Oklahoma squeaked by with a 31-26 win whereas in 2013, the Longhorns upset OU 36-20! If OU plays right this should be a blow out which puts even more heat on Charlie Strong. Remember that Mack Brown was 9-4 in his 2nd year in Austin & he took over a worse situation than Strong inherited. Should it take that long to win at a program like Texas? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Before the season began, I would have thought this game could very well decide the SEC West. Instead, the Razorbacks have lost 3 games & Alabama is 4-1 with a loss to Ole Miss. It could still very well decide the SEC West should Arkansas win as it would most likely knock Alabama out of contention. If Alabama is on, then I don’t think they can be beat, but Arkansas is still a VERY good football & they’ll try to control the clock against the Tide. I’m not saying it’ll work, but Alabama won this game 14-13 last year. It could be very close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Like Alabama/Arkansas in the West, this was the game I thought would decide the East, but Tennessee has already lost a couple of conference games & UGA was embarrassed by Alabama last week in Athens. Georgia still controls its destiny & it’ll be interesting to see how the Bulldogs rebound from losing to Alabama. Tennessee is no pushover team. You can easily argue they should have beaten Oklahoma, Arkansas & Florida so Georgia won’t be in for an easy game especially in Neyland. Chaos could continue with a Vols victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope With Maty Mauk suspended for violation of team conduct policy, Mizzou QB Drew Lock got the start & had a helluva game going 21/28 for 136yds & 2TD in the 24-10 win over SOuth Carolina. Missouri essentially had no vertical game, but the offense was still effective. Florida is off to an amazing start but I wouldn’t count out HC Gary Pinkel and the Tigers playing upset special. Florida had 3 close wins before & emotional romp over Ole Miss last week in Gainesville. Now they play on the road so how big will the let down be if any? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Beating Wisconsin in Madison simply doesn’t rate anymore. Last week Iowa was ranked #22 in the AP & #23 in the Coaches poll. The Hawkeyes go on the road to Camp-Randall & pick up a 10-6 victory & they don’t move an inch in the polls! Yours truly bumped Iowa 8 spots from #22 to #14. Last week was the first time I got to see Iowa for a full game this season & I really liked what I saw. Canzeri’s a beast & Beathard is better than he showed last week. Iowa is at Northwestern next week so I hope they don’t overlook the Illini here! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I still like Georgia Tech as a team although the offense hasn’t clicked under Justin Thomas like I thought it would. Clemson needs to be on upset alert especially after the emotional win over Notre Dame last weekend. I would say I think GT could pull off the stunner but DeShone Kizer completed 70% of his passes for 242yds/TD. Thomas Sirk completed 68% of his passes & ran for 50+yds. Marquise Williams ran for 148yds/2TD last week. GT has a hard time with good QBs and unfortunately for them, DeShaun Watson is next in line. Computer Hope
Computer Hope With Iowa & Northwestern playing so well, this game has sort of taken a backseat, but it’s still fairly interesting. Wisconsin didn’t draw Michigan, Ohio St. or Michigan St. out of the East & they play N’Western at home so they could wind up 10-2 (7-1). Nebraska has lost to Illinois & get Michigan St. at home but the Spartans haven’t put fear into anyone so if the Huskers win out they could be 9-3 (7-1). Neither team looks like a player, but both could be & this is a great game to jump start a push towards relevance so it should be pivotal. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Kansas St. is coming off a brutal home loss to Oklahoma St. and now they get the Frogs coming to town. At first glance this seems like a game that might be worth watching. Kansas St. only has the one loss & the game is in Manhattan with TCU not being overly dominant this season. The last time they played here Kansas St. won 33-31! On the other hand, Oklahoma St. just passed for 441 yards on the K-State defense so that doesn’t bode well with Trevone Boykin coming to town. TCU is almost averaging 60PPG in their last 4 games! Computer Hope
Computer Hope You could definitely make an argument that if Nate Sudfeld & Jordan Howard don’t get hurt last week, the Hoosiers could very well be sitting at 5-0 with a win over Ohio State! Instead, Xander Diamont was atrocious from the pocket as usual & Ohio St. escaped. The trick here is seeing if Kevin Wilson has Indiana over the hump. If Indiana plays like they did against Ohio St. for the rest of the season then the Hoosiers should end up at worst 8-4. Is that enough to turn the tide? I’ve been skeptical of Wilson, but maybe he actually gets it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s really tough to get a gauge on how good Oklahoma St. is & this will be a good game to see if they are really deserving of being 5-0 or are they just pretending as WVU is actually a very solid team in my opinion. One thing that absolutely stands out about the Cowboys is their ability to get pressure on the QB. OK State leads the nation in sacks & tackles for loss. This is certainly a deviation of their usual narrative of being an offensive first football team. WVU hasn’t been great at pass protection so Skyler Howard could have a long day! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oddball game between 2-3 Wake Forest & 3-2 Boston College but I think it could have meaning. You can make a strong case that BC should be 5-0 with wins over Florida St. & Duke. I REALLY like this team. Florida St. struggled with Wake so if BC blows them out it strengthens their case against Florida State. I think it also puts teams on upset alert. I’m not sure I want to be Clemson & Notre Dame getting a Boston College team with confidence and the ability to keep getting better. BC could make it very interesting in the Atlantic very soon! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Depending on how close you follow college football, you might not have noticed Middle Tennessee St., but they have had a pretty good run so far at 2-3. When they’ve won they’ve dominated & they almost beat Illinois & Vanderbilt so that 2-3 could easily be 4-1. rFR QB Brent Stockstill is having a tremendous season & the team has some athletes. WKU has QB Brandon Doughty. HE’S WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION! So far he’s completed 74% of his passes for 2000yds with 15TD/2INT. He’s a Heisman front-runner if not at WKU! Computer Hope
Computer Hope A fairly big MAC West game, both of these teams are chasing Toledo & the Cardinals already were whipped by the Rockets, but this is still the most interesting game in the MAC & I wanted to start including MAC games. I was surprised last week at NIU losing to Central Michigan after the Huskies came THIS CLOSE to beating both Ohio St. & Boston College. Maybe playing their 3rd road game in as many weeks took too much of a toll. Ball St. is a good team & they might be catching NIU as the wrong time, but this should be a good game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I wanted put in Hawaii this week because their year has been so weird. The Rainbows are 2-3 and in their wins they’ve outscored their opponents 75-47. That’s not that odd but in their losses they’ve been outscored 111-0! Every loss Hawaii has had this year has been a shutout! The other interesting part is that Hawaii is 2-0 at home but 0-3 on the road. They can’t score on the mainland! I think that trend ends with SDSU this week. I still really like the Aztecs. They’ve had a couple of close losses but could still the MW West division. Computer Hope

October 10, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Ball St., Big Games, Boston College, California, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Miami-FL, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri, Must See Games, N. Illinois, Navy, NCAA, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Penn St., San Diego St., TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wake Forest, Week 6, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, 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

2014 NCAA WEEK 13 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
Huge game for both squads! I really hope we get USC wearing their red jerseys while UCLA wears their blue jerseys! I don’t think there is a prettier scene in college football than when those 2 face off in their colored jerseys! Both the Trojans & Bruins are still in the hunt for the P12 South division. The road is clearer for UCLA. If they win out they win the South. For USC, they’ll need a little help. This is their last conference game, but a win here puts the Trojans at 7-2. The only way they wouldn’t be able to win their division is if Arizona St. won out as well. The Sun Devils beat the Trojans earlier this season so if both teams finish 7-2 in conference play, the tiebreaker would go to Arizona St.
The next stop on the Melvin Gordon Heisman tour is Iowa City where the Badgers will strap it on to take on an Iowa team that is always playing somewhat of a Jekyl & Hyde role. Iowa is a really tough football team to beat at home so Wisconsin could have their hands full. The Badgers aren’t completely out of the woods just yet. Their final 2 games won’t be easy against Iowa & Minnesota, but the B1G West is theirs if they can win both games. That would set them up at 10-2 to face Ohio State. Can an 11-2 Wisconsin team make the playoffs? Iowa has plenty to play for. If they win out & Minnesota loses just one of their final 2 games, the Hawkeyes would win the B1G West.
The SEC slate takes a beather in Week 13, but it goes to show the quality of the conference when I can say this is an off week for the SEC & we still get a game like Ole Miss/Arkansas. Huge game here for the Rebels. Arkansas got a taste of what it was like winning in the SEC with last week’s 17-0 win over LSU. Remember that LSU beat Ole Miss & this game is in Arkansas so the Hogs could have a really good shot at picking up their 2nd win in SEC play in as many weeks! For Ole Miss, they can still win the West. They needed Alabama to beat Mississippi St. which happened, but now they need to beat Arkansas & Mississippi St. & hope Auburn plays out of its mind in 2 weeks in Tuscaloosa.
After losing a home game to Indiana, I didn’t think Missouri would win at South Carolina. They did. After getting shutout by Georgia, I didn’t think Missouri would go on the road & beat Florida. They did. After Texas A&M beat Auburn at Auburn, I didn’t think Missouri would go into College Station & beat the Aggies. They did. Missouri is primed to win the SEC East but their final 2 games could be their toughest. A road game in Knoxville won’t be easy & their season finale at home comes against a very dangerous Arkansas squad. Even so, the odds are VERY GOOD Missouri wins out, finishes 10-2 (7-1) & wins their 2nd consecutive SEC East title! If Mizzou wins the SEC, do they get in?
At 5-5, the Wolverines need to win one of their last 2 to get bowl eligible. Next week they play Ohio St. in Columbus which is a most certain slaughter so that means this week is MUST WIN if Michigan wants to get bowl eligible. Maryland won’t be the easiest of foes although they are coming off a blowout loss to Michigan State. There hasn’t been a ton of talk coming out of Ann Arbor about the potential firing of Brady Hoke. We know now that Will Muschamp will not be back with the Gators next season & if that is the case then I can’t see Hoke surviving. If Maryland wins Michigan ends the season 5-7 which is brutal. Two HUGE jobs are opening up with Michigan & Flordia!
Speaking of job openings…..after losing at home 43-40 in OT to a terrible Northwestern team, the heat under Brian Kelly’s seat in South Bend has to be warming up just a bit. The Irish started the season 6-0 but have lost 3 of their last 4! Finishing up the season against Louisville & USC could mean the Irish finish the year 7-5, losing 4 straight & 5 of their last 6 games. That would give ND bowl eligibility but almost ZERO momentum going into the offseason. The Irish have big problems. The defense is terrible & Everett Golson can’t stop turning the ball over. The worst part is that you can argue ND should have lost to North Carolina, Stanford, and maybe Navy. Is this really a 4-7 team masquerading?
A pretty cool game. Kansas St. is still in the Big XII race believe it or not. They would need to win out & have TCU lose to either Texas or Iowa St., but if those things happened, then Kansas St. could win the Big XII & finish 10-2. I can’t see any way they’d make the playoffs, but a conference title is worth a lot. I still think West Virginia should be in the conversation as best team in the Big XII. They beat Baylor & TCU needed a last second FG to beat the Mountaineers. I would lose to see West Virginia beat up K-State in Morgantown & at least make an argument they are the 3rd best team in the Big XII. If you had season tickets in Morgantown this year you’ve been able to watch some amazing football.
Both teams have a tremendous amount to play for. Minnesota gets Nebraska & Wisconsin to finish the season & even with the Ohio St. loss last week, if the Gophers win out they’ll win the B1G West. The Cornhuskers are coming off a humiliating defeat to the Badgers, but they can win the division too. If Wisconsin can lose a game while Nebraska wins out, then Nebraska would be B1G West champions and get a date with Ohio State. A subplot to this game is Ameer Abdullah running against David Cobb. It’s not Abdullah/Gordon but Cobb has been a beast for Minnesota this year & if Nebraska’s rush defense last week is any indication, Cobb could be in for a huge day with a Minny victory!
Amazingly enough, the Utes still have a shot to win the P12 South. If they can win out while Arizona St. loses their last 2 games then the opportunity is there provided USC loses to UCLA & UCLA loses to Stanford. There are so many moving parts in the P12 South that anything could happen, but major kudos to Kyle Whittingham & his staff for making Utah relevant in the Pac 12. It took him a couple of years to get to this point, but moving forward Utah should pick up more momentum which isn’t great news for the rest of the Pac 12. Of course Arizona is in the thick of things as well & while the P12 South isn’t the SEC West just yet, it’s not hard to envision them being there in a year or 2.
While this isn’t the hardwood, there is always some type of rivalry between Duke & North Carolina. It’s even made more abundant now that the Blue Devils are actually pretty good at football behind HC David Cutcliffe. Duke actually has quite a bit to play for. Georgia Tech’s conference season is over with the Yellow Jackets finishing 6-2. Duke is currently 4-2 with UNC & Wake Forest coming to Durham. If Duke loses one of those games then GT wins the Coastal & will face Florida State. If not then we get back-to-back years where Florida St. & Duke play for the ACC Championship. I’m pulling for the Tar Heels in this one because I think Georgia Tech’s gimmicky offense could be tricky for FSU.
This would seem like a blowout game for the Seminoles, but Boston College has actually been pretty good this year. If the Eagles can get RBs Tyler Murphy, Jon Hilliman & Myles Willis going, they could dominate time of possession & make it difficult for Jameis Winston to beat them because he’ll never be on the field. Note too that BC has some significant wins. Beating USC shouldn’t be overlooked & what is interesting about BC is that they actually play better on the road. They are 4-0 on the road this year yet just 2-4 at home which is another mark in their favor. I say all this only to see Florida St. beat BC 55-10, but at least there are some decent trends to show this might be a good game. Maybe the Noles luck runs out.
Both teams come into this game 5-5, but I’m rooting for Sonny Dykes & the Bears. Dykes has California exceeding expectations this year & if 2014 is any sign of what is to come out of Berkeley then the P12 North might be getting just as strong as the South with Oregon, Cal, Stanford & Washington. This game actually has bowl implications as well. Both teams need another win to get bowl eligible. After this game Stanford is on the road to UCLA while Cal hosts BYU. It would seem that this might be Stanford’s last chance to get bowl eligible. With Cal play so well they should be able to upend BYU, but that isn’t a guaranteed game so a lot is on the line & this is a huge rivalry. Underrated game.
Another one of those interesting type of games with teams on the bowl bubble. The Nittany Lions are already bowl eligible at 6-4, but if they want to avoid a 6-6 season then they need to beat Illinois as their season finale comes against Michigan State. Illinois is sitting at 4-6 with their last two games being this one at home & then a road game at Northwestern which in some ways is like a home game for the Illinois contingent. From a big picture standpoint it would be great to see Tim Beckman get a win here & get the Illini a step closer to a bowl game. He’s in his 3rd year & if he can get to 6-6 it would show some steady improvement & buy him more time with the program. It would be cool to see Illinois good again.

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Arizona, Arkansas, Big Games, Boston College, California, Duke, Florida St., Illinois, Iowa, Kansas St., Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Must See Games, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn St., Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, Week 13, West Virginia, 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