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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 CB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Almost finished! I cover cornerbacks today and all I have left with are safeties. Corners are really interesting to watch considering how important these players have become given how pass happy most offenses have become both at the NFL and NCAA levels. I think to a certain degree with the advent of 7-on-7 camps and practices, the skill position players on offense have gotten so good that only ELITE level athletes can do a good job with the corner position meaning the players need size AND speed AND coverage ability AND run support ability AND being able to be a sure tackler! You get a guy like that and he’s in consideration for the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Go ask Jalen Rasmey about this. For these reasons I think corners become a fascinating position given all the responsibilities they have.

This position also is interesting from a roster construction perspective. I’ve written before about roster construction and where corners play into the equation. In my estimation, corners fall behind quarterbacks and edge rushers, but a team wanting to build their squad around ELITE level defensive backs isn’t going about it in a wrong way. For all their faults, the New York Jets made some interesting moves by taking Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye with their first two picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, both safeties that should be able to anchor their secondary for years to come. Whether or not this turns into victories will yet to be determined but if the Jets can get one of the best college QBs in the 2018 draft, you can hardly fault them for going with a talent like Adams followed by a QB the following year. Granted we are talking about safeties instead of cornerbacks, but the gist is the same in that drafting coverage ability isn’t foolhardy even if you don’t have a QB in place.

I think my Terrific 20: Cornerbacks has a lot of potential 1st round NFL talent. I even had to leave quite a few corners that deserve to be recognized. This is a talented group we’ll get to watch this season.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Anthony Averett/6’0/185lbs/rSR: Alabama is a CB factory and Averett is next in line. Averett didn’t have a great start to 2016 but righted the ship pretty fast and ended up as an excellent coverage CB with 8 passes defended. Teams don’t pass against the Tide for obvious reasons so Averett didn’t see a ton of balls. He’s a little bit shaky in run defense although to be fair he doesn’t mind mixing it up with opposing runners. With Minkah Fitzpatrick sliding over to safety, Averett is Bama’s #1CB so he makes the list.
Computer Hope Tony Brown/6’0/198lbs/SR: Brown ran primarily as Alabama’s nickle CB last season. Like with Averett, it’s always difficult to tell how good the Alabama corners are considering last year the Tide’s starters were Marlon Humphrey (1st Rd. pick in 2017) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (will be a 1st Rd. pick in 2018). Brown checks all the boxes to be sure and is a tremendous instinctive DB that can do a variety of things. He’s fast and at 6’0/200lbs is really just now coming into his own as a CB with Fitzpatrick moving to safety.
Computer Hope Carlton Davis/6’1/202lbs/JR: With so much talent in the secondary among SEC squads, it’s easy to overlook Carlton Davis who wasn’t that highly touted coming out of high school. He has ELITE size for a corner &  all he’s done since stepping foot on campus is produce. He became a starter his freshman season and has started 19 games in his first two seasons & has recorded 21 passes defended! He hasn’t had an interception yet, but he can develop his ball skills then Davis will be a FORCE to be reckoned with.
Computer Hope Trayvon Mullen/6’2/185lbs/SO: Mullen wasn’t overly productive last season, but he was just a true frosh playing on a national championship team that also featured CB Cordrea Tankersley. Mullen is an ELITE athlete with ELITE size at 6’2 and 185lbs. He’s a bit lean at this point but it explosive and I think he’ll be a key cog in Clemson’s defense this season preparing him for potentially being a 1st Rd. pick in 2019. The thing to watch for is whether or not Mullen eventually winds up at safety due to his size.
Computer Hope Isaiah Oliver/6’1/190lbs/JR: Oliver played behind Chidobe Awuzie & Ahkello Witherspoon last year and both of those guys were NFL draft picks so Oliver didn’t get as much run time as he could have. In that limited time however, Oliver was fantastic with 7 pass defended & a pick. He’s got solid size to go up against #1 wideouts. He’s got great balls kills and coverage skills. Oliver is an incredible athlete as he also is a competes in the decathlon for Colorado’s track team! I think he’ll be in for a huge year with Colorado!
Computer Hope Chauncey Gardner/5’11/204lbs/SO: I could have went Duke Dawson here if I wanted a Florida CB, but I went with Gardner because last year the true frosh was freakish recording 32 tackles with 3 passes defended & 3 interceptions. Gardner should be a 1st Rd. pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and now that he’s going to get significant run time in 2017, I’d expect him to put up crazy numbers & shut opposing receivers down. I love his ball skills so it’ll be interesting to see if other QBs try to test him on deep balls.
Computer Hope Tarvarus McFadden/6’2/198lbs/JR: McFadden has TREMENDOUS ball skills as evidenced  by his 8 interceptions which lead the nation. He’s a big time press man corner that NFL teams will drool over making him an almost guaranteed 1st Rd. pick. He plays reckless at times though as well. The 8 picks are sometimes due to how much teams testing him & McFadden isn’t the best tackler despite his size. A 1st Team All-American last season, McFadden can get A LOT better which is nuts given how good he already is.
Computer Hope Rashard Fant/5’10/175lbs/rSR: Along with LB Tegray Scales, Fant was a big reason the Hoosiers saw such a dramatic improvement in their defensive numbers going from allowing 37.6PPG In 2015 to 27.2PPG in 2016 & also allowing 509YPG in 2015 to allowing 380YPG! Fant was the very definition of a shut down corner recording 17 passes defended along with 3 picks. Not a huge guy, Fant needs to tackle better because offensive skill players can get away from him at times, if they can get the ball!
Computer Hope D.J. Reed/5’9/188lbs/JR: The smallest guy on the list, Reed spent his freshman year at a junior college after hardly generating any interested as a high school player. He then transferred to Kansas St. and EXPLODED on the scene with 16 passes defended & 3 picks in his first year garnering 1st Team All-Big XII honors. Reed also was 2nd on the team with 75 tackles showing his ability to wrap up despite being smaller in size. Reed is a legitimate All-American candidate that projects as a nickle CB in the NFL.
Computer Hope Jaire Alexander/5’11/192lbs/JR: Alexander is almost an exact replica of Tarvarus McFadden of Florida State. Alexander was outstanding in coverage last season & he has exceptional ball skills. Alexander had 9 passes defended with 5 interceptions although he wasn’t targeted as much as McFadden so his big play ability on deep passes might be even better than anticipated. Like McFadden, Alexander could get a lot better with his tackling, but he’s a legitimate All-American candidate that can take over games.
Computer Hope Kevin Toliver/6’2/193lbs/JR: Toliver is a beast at 6’2/193lbs. One of the most touted DBs in his high school class, Toliver hasn’t seen as much of the field as you’d like to see. He made 8 starts as a freshman back in 2015, but last year was plagued with injuries that limited him to 5 starts. Off the hoof, Toliver is everything you’d expect from an ELITE corner playing for LSU. He has that elite size/speed combination that has scouts envisioning him being a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick. LSU needs him healthy this season.
Computer Hope Denzel Ward/5’11/191lbs/JR: It’s crazy to think this since Ohio St. just sent Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker & Gareon Conley to the NFL, but Ward might be a better DB than any of those 3. The Buckeyes have ENORMOUS talent on defense so Ward gets overlooked a bit, but he has ELITE SPEED and exceptional coverage & ball skills. Ward had  9 pass defended yet no picks last season. That will change fast in 2017. Don’t be surprised if he’s a first team All-American & a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2018.
Computer Hope Jordan Thomas/6’0/186lbs/SR: Like his conference mate DJ Reed up at Kansas St., Jordan Thomas had a fantastic year for the Sooners despite playing in the pass happy Big XII. Thomas recorded 17 passed defended along with 2 interceptions & 49 tackles. Thomas has made 28 starts at Oklahoma & was a 1st Team All-Big XII CB last season after being a 2nd teamer the year before. Thomas has a chance at being a 1st Team All-American on an Sooners defense that should be their best in quite some time.
Computer Hope Jordan Wyatt/6’0/192lbs/rJR: Wyatt is a thinner CB but he’s unique in that he likes to mix it up and get in on tackles. He’s solid in run support and also possesses solid coverage skills. Wyatt also hardly allows any yards after the catch so if a receiver does manage to make the grab, he’s not making a big play out of it. Wyatt recorded 7 passes defended last year along with 4 picks showing his solid ball skills. Wyatt could maybe add a couple of pounds but this is a complete corner in all phases of the game.
Computer Hope Jamarcus King/6’1/186lbs/SR: Horribly overlooked, King had an outstanding junior season for the Gamecocks after coming out of the junior college ranks. King has great size and speed at 6’1/186lbs and showed off his solid coverage & ball skills with 9 passes broken up along with 3 picks. King is big enough to help support the rush defense as well as evidenced by his 56 tackles which was 6th on the team last year. The SEC has a lot of cornerback talent to be sure, but King is one of my favorites & can be All-SEC.
Computer Hope Quenton Meeks/6’2/204lbs/JR: I could have went with Alijah Holder here too and maybe I should have put both Stanford CBs here. I went with Meeks because teams avoided him like the plague last year & Holder dealt with injuries. Meeks doesn’t have a lot of counting stats (6PBU, 2INT) but that’s because he completely shut down his side of the field. He has ELITE size at 6’2/204lbs and is very twitched up. He could become a better force against the running game so he still has a chance to get much better. Scary!
Computer Hope Nick Harvey/5’10/185lbs/SR: Another overlooked SEC corner, Harvey finally got a chance to start last season for the Aggies and cashed in recording 66 tackles, 10 passes defended & 1 interception. Harvey even had a couple tackles for loss. Not overly huge, Harvey has great athleticism and can man up on another team’s #1 WR. Texas A&M loses a lot up front on the D-Line which I think is going to put a bit of pressure on the corners to hold their coverage longer. I think Harvey will be able to hold it down.
Computer Hope Parry Nickerson/5’11/180lbs/rSR: Not a household name by any stretch and Tulane won’t be outstanding this season but Parry Nickerson might be the best CB you haven’t heard of….yet! All the Louisiana product has done since arriving on campus is produce. Last season he had 9 passes defended with 4 picks. He’s a coverage nightmare & a pretty good tackler as well. He has 34 career starts & leads a veteran Tulane defense this year although the Green Wave’s schedule isn’t the easiest. He’s a big time CB.
Computer Hope Iman Marshall/6’1/200lbs/JR: Phil Steele rated Marshall as the #1 DB in the 2015 high school class and with Adoree Jackson moving on to the NFL, he becomes the man in the secondary for the Trojans. He won’t have problems. Marshall has great size/speed and has done nothing but produce becoming a starter as a true frosh. Over his first two seasons Marshall has 17 passes defended & 6 interceptions. Marshall also doesn’t getting dirty. He has 118 tackles over his first 2 seasons & likes to hit.
Computer Hope Brandon Facyson/6’2/197lbs/rSR: Facyson has big size on the edge for the Hokies and that is part of his game for sure. He likes to get nasty and wrap up running backs which certainly helps Virginia Tech defensively. He uses his size to man up receivers but does get  prone to giving up big plays. If he can keep receivers from taking the top off, he’s a shutdown corner. Facyson along with teammate Adonis Alexander are listed as corners, but you almost wonder if they aren’t safeties at the next level given their skill set.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Darnay Holmes/UCLA/5’11/190lbs: HC Jim Mora did a good job with this recruiting class especially on defense as he brings in arguably the best pure pass rusher in the class in Jaelan Phillips but also arguably the best corner in the class in Darnay Holmes. Holmes is expected to start immediately for the Bruins and there is no doubt that both he and Phillips could have a significant impact on the fortunes of the UCLA defense. UCLA has an interesting opening week game against Texas A&M and it would be interesting to see Holmes go up against an incredible receiving talent like Christian Kirk. The true freshman would probably get schooled, but you can be sure he’d take those lessons and get better. A freakishly athletic DB, Holmes will get a lot of opportunities to shine this season & that is as much as you could ask for with a freshman.

Jamyest Williams/South Carolina/5’9/174lbs: Williams was an Under Amrour All-American last year as a HS senior and I think he could have a significant on South Carolina’s defense. This size makes him an obvious nickle CB in the slot and that actually makes sense with the Gamecocks because they have two senior CBs returning in  Jamarcus King & Chris Lammons. They also have JUCO transfer Kaleb Chalmers who was originally a Clemson commit in the fold. That is a lot of high level experience for Williams to learn from. There is something about this South Carolina team and I think a lot of people are sleeping on them. They’ll get a HUGE test in Week 1 when they play NC State but I think they can win that one. Offenses will surely be paying massive amount of attention to King, Lammons and safety DJ Smith meaning Williams could be in for some big plays. That is until offenses catch on that he’s something to worry about.

Byron Murphy/Washington/5’11/177lbs: Murphy is actually a rFR so this and is Murphy’s 2nd year with the Huskies, but his role couldn’t be bigger as he’s penciled into start. Washington loses a TRUCKLOAD of talent from their secondary from a year ago as CB Kevin King, CB Sidney Jones and S Budda Baker are now playing in the NFL. Washington definitely has national championship aspirations now that they’ve reached the playoffs and have a lot returning. If you were pointing to a weakness of the team however, it would have to be cornerback especially considering the passing attacks Washington will see from teams like Arizona St., UCLA, Washington St., Oregon and potentially USC in the Pac 12 championship game. This means Murphy’s play is going to be immensely important meaning he could make a significant impact on Washington’s hopes and dreams in 2017.

Thomas Graham/Oregon/5’11/188lbs: Graham could make an impact in much the same way Murphy can, but it might be even more pronounced in Graham’s case. He’s coming to Eugene as a true freshman and he’s going to see even more prolific passing offenses than even Murphy & Washington. Graham gets Nebraska & Wyoming in non-conference play meaning he’s going up against QBs Tanner Lee & Josh Allen. Allen is already being talked about as a potential #1 pick in the NFL Draft and don’t be surprised if Lee sneaks his way into the first round as well. Beyond those two teams, Graham will have to face Luke Falk (Washington St.), Manny Wilkins (Arizona St.), Keller Chryst (Stanford), Josh Rosen (UCLA), and Jake Browning (Washington). GOOD GRIEF! If you think Oregon can win the Pac 12 North then you can also potentially add Sam Darnold (USC) to the mix! Oregon has a tremendous amount of talent coming back this season and new HC Willie Taggart has won wherever he’s been. Their schedule isn’t the easiest with road trips to UCLA, Stanford, Washington & Arizona State, but Oregon is going to be a difficult team to beat given their roster and Thomas Graham could be a HUGE part of their success if he can have a big year in coverage. Huge opportunity for the true freshman.

Lamont Wade/Penn State/5’9/193lbs: Wade is interesting in my opinion because of his size. At 5’9 he’s a bit smallish at CB but he is exceptionally talented and enrolled early for the Nittany Lions meaning his familiar enough with the schemes to make a difference. What’s interesting about his size is that Penn St. returns one starting CB, Grant Haley. Haley himself is 5’9/183lbs. If Wade finds himself as the corner opposite Haley or even as the nickle in sub-packages, it gives Penn St. some corners that are very short. Contrast this with Michigan’s and Ohio St.’s receivers who are very tall. Those are matchup problems and it’ll be interesting to see how Penn St. plays given their size limitations. Maybe it won’t matter and Penn St. has MORE than enough offense to keep pace with anyone, but the Lions gave up over 25PPG last season and there does seem to be a hole there for other teams to exploit. It’ll be interesting to see if Wade plays bigger than  his size and can help PSU neutralize some very good receivers who are very tall.

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September 2, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Cornerbacks, Florida, Florida St., Indiana, Kansas St., Louisville, LSU, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn St., SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas AM, Tulane, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington | Leave a comment

2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL – WEEK 1 BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope If you are going to play a game like this then both teams are wise to do it early as an early season loss won’t hurt as bad as a late season one. If you love potential NFL picks then this is the game for you. What will be interesting to me is seeing how well Florida St. handles the old school ways of Alabama’s offense that we’ll surely see. When Alabama just keeps pounding the rock with Bo Scarbrough, can FSU handle the physical pounding? Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game got a lot easier for the Wolverines when Florida announced that star WR Antonio Callaway was suspended. With the Gators still undecided about their QB situation, it’ll be interesting to see how Michigan’s front-5 guys get after the eventual Gators QB. Michigan is exceptionally young on the back end but it might not matter. This game has a lot of meaning for both teams as both have questions that will look better with a victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure I’d trust Danny Etling all that much as my starting QB so it’ll be interesting to see if Ed Orgeron can avoid the pitfalls that Les Miles fell into by passing the football when LSU should ground & pound and rely on their defense. Derrius Guice is practically unstoppable so playing keep away & keep the defense fresh is optimal strategy. BYU has some upside & returns all 3 starting LBs so it’ll be interesting to see Guice test them. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think both of these teams are going to be very good this year & it’s almost unbelievable that we get a game like this. South Carolina QB Jake Bentley is poised to become a household name & NC State is going to bring tremendous pressure with the studs they have along the D-Line. South Carolina returns 4 starters on the O-Line meaning this game should be won in the trenches. NC State QB Ryan Finley could decide the outcome. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Maryland is an interesting team and this could be a much tougher game than Texas expects. The Terps are having to replace starting QB Perry Hills, but Caleb Henderson is a solid option & Maryland has some very good weapons on offense like Ty Johnson & DJ Moore. Maryland also returns 7 starters on defense with all their good players returning meaning they’ll be rocks. Huge test for Texas that could give them a lot of confidence. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think Indiana AD Fred Glass made a masterful strategic move by moving aside Kevin Wilson and giving Tom Allen the HC job. We’ll see how it turns out but I think it was the right move. What’s interesting here is that the Buckeyes lost Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore & Gareon Conley from a wicked secondary while Indiana’s strength should be their passing attack. It’ll be almost impossible but Indiana is a lot better than you think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Technically not a home game, Georgia Tech is playing this one in Atlanta so I think it’s a home game for the Yellow Jackets. I think the heat gets even hotter for Butch Jones if the Vols open with a loss, but Georgia Tech is an under the radar contender in the ACC Coastal after a transition year last season and Tennessee is dealing with a massive exodus of players to the NFL. Win & UT starts thinking SEC East. A loss? The wheels come off. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Trick game for those Hairy Dawgs! Appalachian St. is going to be one of those teams we hear about all season long as potential New Year’s Day bowls if they can get through their schedule. They have a lot of experience coming back from a team that went 10-3 last season & 11-2 in 2015. Georgia might still be working through QB issues and while I think Georgia’s defense could carry them, App State almost knocked off Tennessee last year. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not overly thrilled with this matchup because I think neither team is a title contender but both coaches are on the hot seat and a loss definitely turns up the heat! It will be interesting to see UCLA QB Josh Rosen coming back from injury & see how his command of the offense improves over his freshman numbers. It’ll also be interesting to see how Trayveon Williams & Christian Kirk perform against UCLA’s defense. Both need wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think West Virginia will be one of the weaker teams in the Big XII and I’m excited to see whether or not the Hokies can dominate a game like this. Virginia Tech’s back-7 on defense is NASTY and they should completely shut down the WVU offense which will be significant given Dana Holgorsen’s reputation as an offensive guy. I’m also curious to see how VT’s QB plays. Jerod Evans left huge shoes to fill so getting production from the QB is key. Computer Hope

August 27, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Alabama, Appalachian St., Big 10, Big Games, Big XII, BYU, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Must See Games, NC State, NCAA, Ohio St, Pac 12, SEC, South Carolina, Sun Belt, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Week 1, West Virginia | Leave a comment

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Linebackers are up next! This might have been the most difficult position yet for me to select down to 20 players. There is seemingly a lot of talent across the nation at the LB spot which is a great thing for defenses and for us fans!  I do want to point out that my definition of “linebacker” is the traditional sense of the word that doesn’t include the edge rushers. This mean I’m looking primarily at 4-3 LBs (the SAM, WIL and MIKE LBs) and 3-4 ILBs. I think it’s worth noting that the in today’s version of football, the LB position is evolving quite a bit. A lot of teams are in some ways going away from those big thick inside thumpers, and instead are looking for more athletic guys who can drop into coverage and defend the middle of the field against the pass.

This evolution has been going on for awhile now and see this especially in the NFL with examples such as Mark Barron and Deone Bucannon. What gets tricky with these types of hybrid players is their physical size. Bucannon is 6’1/211lbs which is essentially the size of a safety, the position Bucannon played in college for Washington State. Barron is similar at 6’1/213lbs and again he played safety in college for Alabama although he’s been moved to LB in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. I’m thumper heavy for the most part in my top-20 because the guys that are 6’1/210lbs I’d consider a safety. Bucannon and Barron are interesting examples and I wonder if this evolution will actually revert back to the old mentality of thumping ILBs given how many collegiate running backs have enormous size for the position.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Rashaan Evans/6’3/234lbs/SR: Evans is a BEAST of a player but when you are playing behind Reggie Ragland and Rueben Foster, it’s going to be hard to find time to get on the field. That is a testament to how amazing the depth chart is at LB with the Tide. This will be Evans’s first years as a full time starter and he’s already a potential All-American candidate that will be the key to the Alabama defense that should once again be one of the best in the nation. Evans is a freaky athlete that should have no issues topping 100 tackles.
Computer Hope Kendall Joseph/6’0/230lbs/rJR: Joseph exploded last year for the Tigers en route to leading Clemson to their first national championship since 1981! Joseph recorded 124 tackles last season included 13.5 tackles for loss and 5 QB hurries. Ben Boulware got a lot of publicity and rightly so, but Joseph was a 3rd Team All-ACC linebacker and should easily be one of the best LBs in the ACC again this season. I think Clemson has a real chance at a repeat national championship and I think Joseph will have a lot to do with that very real possibility.
Computer Hope Tegray Scales/6’0/230lbs/SR: From a production standpoint, there wasn’t a better inside LB than Tegray Scales last year. Scales racked up 126 tackles, 7 sacks and an incredible 23.5 tackles for loss for the Hoosiers as Indiana went to their 2nd straight bowl game. Is it possible for him to still be underrated because he plays for Indiana? Scales has the ability to be a 1st Team All American this season and I’m interested to see what happens with him in the NFL. He’s an inside thumper but if he can improve in coverage, he’s got a big time chance.
Computer Hope Josey Jewell/6’2/236lbs/rSR: Jewell is an interesting guy because he racks it up when you talk about production. He tested the NFL waters this past season but was told to return to school to improve on his pass coverage ability, but he broke up 9 passes last season so it’s not like he doesn’t drop back into coverage at times. Jewell is certainly a thumper at 6’2 and almost 240lbs. An unheralded recruit out of Decorah, IA, Jewell has maximized every bit of his talent. He’s a front runner to be a 1st team All-American and he’ll be playing in the NFL.
Computer Hope Jordan Jones/6’2/221lbs/JR: Kentucky’s defense last year was dreadful in giving up 31.3PPG but that was hardly Jones’s fault who had an incredible year leading the Wildcats in tackles with 109, tackles for loss with 15.5 and QB hurries with 9. That was good enough to merit a 2nd Team All-SEC selection and keep in mind that Jones did this as a true sophomore with hardly any experience. UK’s defense should be a lot better in 2017 an Jones has a unique role in that he plays that hybrid S/WIL spot that is becoming in vogue. He plays it well.
Computer Hope Jermaine Carter/6’0/235lbs/rSR: Carter doesn’t get a lot of publicity but he’s been filling it up for the last two season at Maryland. Last year Carter racked up 110 tackles which led the team and also led the team in 2015 with 103 tackles. He’s obviously a thumper and plays the MIKE spot but he’s able to drop into coverage at times. He’s best asset is his ability to read and attack. Carter recorded 14 tackles for loss in 2015 and followed that up 9 last season. Carter is a little limited physically & he’s not getting a ton of attention, but he’s very solid.
Computer Hope Shaq Quarterman/6’1/240lbs/SO: MONSTER. If you want to like a young linebacker, then look no further than Quarterman. You can tell “THE U” is ready to return to their swag days when guys like Quarterman hit campus and then dominate. The true frosh racked up 84 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 8 QB hurries and 3.5 sacks in a banner year for the Miami-FL freshman. Quarterman is a man already at 6’1/240lbs. He’s a legit All-American candidate as a sophomore and if he keeps building off of 2016, he’ll be a 1st Rd. pick in 2019.
Computer Hope Mike McCray/6’4/248lbs/rSR: I mentioned this briefly in my write up on Maurice Hurst when looking at defensive lineman, but it applies to McCray as well in that he took advantage of Michigan’s outstanding talent on their D-Line in 2016 to hunt down opponents and turn in a huge year. McCray was an all-around beast totaling 76 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss 7 passes broken up, 2 picks and 5 QB hurries. Expect a lot of the same in 2017 as I think McCray will have just as many opportunities to hunt from the weak side as Michigan’s D-Line is going to be good.
Computer Hope Nyles Morgan/6’1/238lbs/SR: Morgan is a helluva player but I think some inaccurately compared him to former Irish stand out Jaylen Smith which is an inaccurate comparison as Smith is more of a WIL backer while Morgan is a MIKE. There weren’t a ton of bright spots on defense for Notre Dame last year but Morgan racked up 94 tackles & 4 sacks which is even more impressive when you consider opposing offenses knew to stay away from him an the ND D-Line didn’t give him tons of room to diagnose and attack. I think he’ll be in for a big season in South Bend.
Computer Hope Jerome Baker/6’1/225lbs/JR: Baker is an interesting guy because hiss athleticism is off the charts and that is giving rise to some speculation that he’s even better than he’s shown. That’s amazing considering last season as a sophomore Baker had 83 tackles with 9.5 tackles for loss. He even picked off a couple of passes although most evaluators think he could get better against both the run and in pass coverage. One thing is for sure is that it’s impossible to keep him off a list like this because his athleticism is off the charts. He’s that perfect hybrid WIL.
Computer Hope Ogbonnia Okoronkwo/6’1/242lbs/rSR: Okoronkwo is an interesting guy because he broke out last year for the Sooners, but he also led the team in sacks with 9 so there is some speculation he’s going to project more as a 3-4 OLB. His size though speaks more to an inside thumper and he did record 71 tackles which shows he’s all around the field. Smaller guys on the edge have worked though. Dwight Freeney is one of the best pass rushers in NFL history and he was around that 6’1/270lbs range, but Freeney was freakish athletically. I like Okoronkwo a lot.
Computer Hope Troy Dye/6’4/225lbs/SO: Like Shaq Quarterman, Troy Dye is a true sophomore that makes the list. Dye came into Eugene and had an incredible true freshman season leading the Ducks in tackles with 91 but also recording 13 tackles for loss along with 6.5 sacks. He was a Freshman All-American as a result. Dye was nothing short of outstanding on a defense that was downright terrible. I think Dye is going to improve dramatically which could be scary now that Jim Leavitt takes over as DC for Oregon. Dye can hunt and I like him being that hybrid WIL type LB.
Computer Hope Skai Moore/6’2/221lbs/rSR: Moore was an All-American candidate going into the 2016 season with some projection systems suggesting he could be a 1st round NFL draft pick. Moore was set up to have a banner year as a senior but that came crashing down when he injured himself and was lost for the season. He returns to Columbia motivated to make a comeback and I’m for one am betting on his ability. At this best, Moore is a tackling machine with the ability to hunt and drop back into coverage. I think South Carolina can be sneaky good in 2017.
Computer Hope Malik Jefferson/6’3/238lbs/JR: As a freshman in 2015, Jefferson didn’t disappoint coming in and being an immediate starter racking up 61 tackles & 7 tackles for loss. Last year as a sophomore Jefferson for the most part replicated his freshman season and the Longhorns once again gave up 30+PPG. It’s hard to miss Jefferson on the field and a lot like Jerome Baker from Ohio St., you get the feeling you haven’t seen even the surface of Jefferson’s immense talents. He’s a 6’3/240lbs WIL that can get to the QB & drop into coverage. Rare.
Computer Hope Cameron Smith/6’2/245lbs/JR: Smith has started since he set foot in Troy and hasn’t disappointed yet putting in back to back 2nd Team All Pac 12 campaigns from the middle spot. Smith is an absolute thumper in the middle at 6’2 and almost 250lbs. He led USC last season tackles with 83 but also posted 7 tackles for loss and 4 passes broken up. Smith has a chance to be an All American this year and work his way into the 1st round of the NFL Draft. With as much talk as we hear about the hybrid WIL position, having a legit leader in the middle is invaluable.
Computer Hope Micah Kiser/6’2/240lbs/rSR: From a tackling standpoint there hasn’t been a more productive LB in the country over the last two seasons than Kiser who has posted 251 tackles over the last 2 years. Last year’s 134 tackle campaign earned Kiser a 2nd Team All-American nod. It’s easy to blur the lines between collegiate and NFL football sometimes when looking at players. Kiser is limited physically, but the guy can fill it up in the middle which is very valuable. He’s a diagnose & attack player that has a hard time dropping into coverage, but the kid is a playmaker.
Computer Hope Andrew Motuapuaka/6’0/233lbs/rSR: Motuapuaka has been a productive player for awhile but really came alive in 2016 after being somewhat of a whipping boy for Hokie Nation during the 2015 season. Motuapuaka racked up 114 tackles including 3 interceptions in earning 2nd team All ACC honors a year ago. Like Jermaine Carter listed above from Maryland, the New Zealand native doesn’t have exceptional size but he’s got a knack for being around the ball and making plays. Doesn’t have great top end speed, but that hasn’t mattered much in Blacksburg.
Computer Hope Azeem Victor/6’3/225lbs/rSR: Victor missed for games last year for the Huskies and still racked up 67 tackles which was 4 fewer than team leader Budda Baker. In 2015, a fully healthy Victor led UW in tackles with 95 while also recording 6 tackles for loss along with 4 passes broken up. I like Victor a lot for Washington. He’ll be a HUGE piece of their defensive puzzle and a key contributor in getting the Huskies past USC and getting back to the college football playoffs. He’s a potential All-American and a 1st Rd. NFL prospect. I’d like to see him play the WIL more.
Computer Hope Jack Cichy/6’2/235lbs/rSR: Like Victor, Cichy missed time last year but instead of 4 games, Cichy missed half the season and still amassed 60 tackles which was 4th on the Badgers! A no-nothing prospect out of Minnesota, Cichy walked on to the Badgers squad and then earned a scholarship before the 2015 season. He earned it because in 2015 Cichy logged 60 tackles, 8 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. You can’t miss Cichy on the field. He’s everywhere and if you only watched Wisconsin, you might think Cichy is the best football player to ever play. One of my favorites!
Computer Hope T.J. Edwards/6’1/246lbs/rJR: Cichy and Edwards are the kinds of guys that make Wisconsin look so smart and the rest of college football look so dumb. Cichy was a walk-on and Edwards had other offers from Toledo, W.Michigan and Wyoming! Now both guys are potential All-Americans who could easily wind up being Pro Bowl type players in the NFL! Edwards does everything. Last year as a sophomore he led Wisconsin in tackles but also had 3 picks and 8 tackles for loss. He and Cichy are why the Badgers could win the Big 10 title game!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Avery Roberts/Nebraska/6’1/230lbs: Roberts had an impressive offer sheet including invitations from Clemson, Louisville, Miami-FL, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn St., Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, but he committed to the Cornhuskers and Mike Riley fairly early in the process. The Delaware native is actually the first player committed to Nebraska from the Blue Hen State since 1974! I think Roberts is going to get an opportunity in Lincoln. Nebraska is going to run a 3-4 and Dedrick Young is going to start at one of the ILB, but the other is fairly open. Roberts enrolled early and has been with the Huskers since January so he should be familiar enough with the defensive calls to succeed. At 6’1/230lbs, Roberts is big enough to step in and play immediately without needing a year to bulk up. Bob Diaco is the new DC and he was wildly successful as the DC at Notre Dame. The Nebraska faithful would love nothing more than a return to the days of the BLACK SHIRTS!!!!

Anthony Hines/Texas A&M/6’3/220lbs: The Aggies like to play somewhat of a 4-2-5 nickle package. With Otaro Alaka returning but Shaan Washington moving on, the Aggies have a hole at one of their ILB spots that Hines could fill. Arguably the best LB in the 2017 high school class, Hines enrolled early at Texas A&M so has been with the team since January. He very well could be behind Tyrel Dodson who is only a sophomore himself but Hines can make an argument that he is the most talented linebacker in College Station so he could easily find his way onto the football field. With Alaka sort of playing the WIL LB spot, Hines would move more into the MIKE, but he’s got high end top speed for a LB so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do when dropping into coverage at the collegiate level along with his ability to take and give out punishment on the inside. I think he’ll have an opportunity which is what freshman need.

Dylan Moses/Alabama/6’3/240lbs: Amazingly enough Moses might have to wait awhile before getting on the field but I wanted to mention him anyway because the guy is FULLY FORMED at 18 and enrolled early meaning he’s had quite a bit of time with the Tide already. What’s amazing about Alabama is just how many INCREDIBLE LBs they already have. Rueben Foster could play because he was behind Reggie Ragland. Rashaan Evans had to backup because he played behind Foster. Moses can’t play right away because he is behind Evans, but Moses also has Mack Wilson ahead of him. A consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranks as the best LB in the 2017 class, Moses only EQUALS Wilson’s credentials as Wilson too was a consensus 5-star player who Phil Steele ranked as the best LB in the 2016 class!!!! I don’t know how much run time Moses will get if any this year, but if you are looking for a 1st Rd. Alabama LB in the 2020 or 2021 draft, you will probably find Dylan Moses!

Baron Browning/Ohio State/6’4/230lbs: The Buckeyes return 6 of their front-7 from last year’s 11-2 squad that made it to the college football playoffs. The one position that doesn’t return is the SAM LB after Raekwon McMillan was a 2nd round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins earlier this year. That leaves a hole that could potentially be filled by Browning. The Buckeyes are also looking at Dante Booker and Keandre Jones, but neither player has done anything to stand out so Browning could walk into a situation that is very advantageous. Browning is big enough to play on the strong side and opposing offenses are going to have difficulty with Ohio St.’s front 7 because the talent is INCREDIBLE. I can’t imagine Browning not being in one on one situations for most of the year and keep in mind that tOSU’s D-Line is going to be MORE than good enough to occupy the O-Line which leaves Browning room to hunt or get to the QB because running backs are the ones likely to pick up him. Backs on Backs leads to Sacks. Browning could be walking into an incredible situation.

Bruce Jordan-Swilling/Georgia Tech/6’1/209lbs: Jordan-Swilling comes to Atlanta to play for the Ramblin Wreck and immediately becomes the most decorated defensive recruit on the team. The New Orleans native must LOVE engineering because he had offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida St., Miami-FL, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC but still picked the Yellow Jackets! In fact, Jordan-Swinning has huge family connections to GT with his father and brother playing football for the Jackets. I don’t know how Jordan-Swilling will fit in with GT this season. He didn’t enroll early and he’s got the build of one of those hybrid/WIL type of LBs so there might not be a redshirt in his future. Right now Terrell Lewis has that role for GT, but he’s not a returning starter so it’s still possible that Jordan-Swilling could step in right away and play. Georgia Tech also plays a lot of 4-2-5 so throwing in another WIL/S hybrid probably wouldn’t be bad. The more I look at the roster the more I think Jordan-Swilling could have a significant impact on GT’s season.

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Linebackers, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, South Carolina, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 WR FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Up next in my Terrific 20 series are the wide receivers! The more I looked at the receivers this year the more excited I got. There are some definite big names like Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, James Washington and Dante Pettis, but there were quite a few smaller school guys along with some younger kids too. It’s a solid mix that I think will provide plenty of excitement on Saturday’s this season.

A quick reminder, the 20 players are listed alphabetically by their team. As I’ve said before, I don’t try to actually rank the top-20 because I’m not entirely sure how much value added I’d receive by doing so. The margins are fairly thin between some of the players.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Calvin Ridley/6’1/190lbs/JR: Ridley has been dominant in Tuscaloosa in his first two seasons. In that span, Ridley has caught 161 passes for 1,814 yards including 14TD. Ridley’s numbers as a sophomore were down compared to his freshman totals, but you have to keep in mind that Alabama employs a run heavy offense and Ridley had to get used to a freshman QB last season. Despite that he still was a 2nd Team All SEC player. He should be a 1st Team All-American this year and eventually a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Cedrick Wilson/6’3/188lbs/SR: After spending two years at the junior college level, the lanky Wilson got his shot with Boise St. and didn’t disappoint in his first go around grabbing 56 balls for 1129 yards & 11TD! Having Brett Rypien throwing the pigskin probably made Wilson even better and it’ll be interesting to see what Wilson does now that he’ll be the undisputed #1 receiver as Thomas Sperbeck moves on. Wilson averaged a ridiculous 20.2ypc last season! He could be a bit heavier, but he’ll play big.
Computer Hope Deon Cain/6’1/210lbs/JR: The defending national champions lost a lot at WR with Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett and Artavis Scott moving on from the collegiate ranks, but don’t be surprised when Clemson doesn’t miss a beat at receiver because of Deon Cain. Cain is a big play MONSTER and led the Tigers in yards per catch last season at 19.1! He’s managed 14TD over his first two seasons even with being at best the 3rd option! Cain could very well elevate his game so much that he’ll be a 1st Rd. draft pick.
Computer Hope Antonio Callaway/5’11/197lbs/JR: From a naturally gifted standpoint, there might not be a more natural WR than Callaway, but his first two seasons in Gainesville have been interested. As a freshman he was a 3rd team All-American punt returner showing what a dangerous play maker he is. He was suspended from the team until the opener his sophomore season but still managed to turn in a good year last year with 54 catches, 721 yards & 3TD. Has all the tools to be the best wide receiver in all of football.
Computer Hope Simmie Cobbs/6’5/223lbs/rJR: Cobbs missed all of last season with an ankle injury, but the Hoosier wideout had a breakout 2015 season in which he averaged 17.3ypc on 60 receptions which resulted in 1,035 yards along with 3TD. Cobbs is healthy & should be in for another great season especially after fellow WR Nick Westbrook had a banner year himself. Opposing defenses shouldn’t be able to lock in on Cobbs leaving the match-up nightmare in one on one situations he should be able to take easy advantage of.
Computer Hope Allen Lazard/6’5/223lbs/SR: One of the most highly touted wideouts in the 2014 class, Lazard was a huge get for Paul Rhoads and his staff. Lazard is huge at 6’5/223lbs but he’s more of a possession type of #1 receiver. Lazard didn’t come in an dominate his freshman season, but he’s gotten progressively better in his 3 years in Ames. Last season he caught 69 balls for 1018 yards & 7TD. If he keeps improving, this season he could go for 85 balls, 1400 yards & 13TD. That’s a huge season that get Lazard drafted.
Computer Hope Jaylen Smith/6’4/220lbs/JR: Smith flew somewhat under the radar as a high school receiver. At 6’1/200lbs, Smith didn’t garner a ton of interest although he did get an offer from his home state school Ole Miss and Nebraska showed some interest. He spurned both to join forces with Bobby Petrino and he’s blossomed into a 6’4/220lbs nightmare who averaged 22.2 yards per catch last season with 6TD! He should be the Cardinals #1 receiving option this season & he does have a Heisman winner as his QB!
Computer Hope Anthony Miller/5’11/190lbs/rSR: Almost completely ignored out of high school, Miller chose to stay in his hometown and be a member of the Tigers. His career at Memphis didn’t get off to a great start having to redshirt his first year and then missing his rFR season with an injury, but Miller made up for lost time last year catching 95 balls for 1434 yards & 14TD! Miller is an exceptional athlete with huge big play making ability. The Tigers return 9 starters on offense including their QB! Miller should encore!!
Computer Hope Ahmmon Richards/6’1/190lbs/SO: Richards freshman season couldn’t have gone any better as the Florida native led the Canes with 934 receiving yards and averaged a ridiculous 19.1ypc! He broke Michael Irvin’s freshman receiving record when he went for 117 yards against NC State. Richard wound up a freshman All-American and a 2nd Team All-ACC player. Richards has solid size and elite play making ability with break away speed. He is the unquestioned #1 receiving target for Miami-FL this year. Incredible.
Computer Hope Richie James/5’9/178lbs/rJR: Arguably the best WR in college football you don’t know about, James already ranks 2nd on MTSU’s all time receiving list and will take over as their most storied receiver after their first game against Vanderbilt on Sep. 2nd. James was a 1st Team All-CUSA his rFR season and then a 3rd team All-American his rSO year! He’s got a chance to be a first team All-American if he can improve on his numbers from last year (105/1625/12)! James also ran for 339 yards & 4TD last year!
Computer Hope J’Mon Moore/6’3/205lbs/rSR: Missouri hasn’t been very good the last two seasons so it might be easy to gloss over how good J’Mon Moore has been for the Tigers. He’s led Mizzou in receiving yards the past 2 seasons but last year Moore really broke out with 62 catches for 1,012 yards & 8TD including a 82 yard TD catch. Moore has a solid connection with QB Drew Lock who should be better this season as Missouri returns 10 starters on offense. With excellent size at 6’3/205lbs, Moore should have a great year.
Computer Hope Equanimeous St. Brown/6’5/204lbs/JR: St. Brown didn’t get much run time his freshman season with the Irish because of a shoulder injury, but the 6’5 wideout bounced back to lead Notre Dame in receiving last season with 961 yards & 9TD while averaging 16.6ypc! The talent here is without question and St. Brown has ELITE size at 6’5. He could stand to gain another 20lbs, but as it stands, he’s one of the most physically gifted receivers in college football. He’s an All-American if Notre Dame gets him the ball.
Computer Hope James Washington/6’0/205lbs/SR: I’d really like to see Washington push for Oklahoma St.’s all time receiving yards mark. Currently Washington has 2,923 career receiving yards which is 1,491 yards short of Rashaun Woods’ career mark of 4,414. A huge year and Washington could get there. The Cowboys return RB Justice Hill, QB Mason Rudolph and WR Jalen McCleskey so defenses won’t be able to key in only Washington which should free him up. This situation gives Washington a chance at 1491!
Computer Hope Jester Weah/6’3/210lbs/rSR: Weah had an incredible season in 2016 nabbing 36 balls for 870 yards & 10TD! That’s some amazing efficiency considering Weah averaged 24.2 yards per catch and scored a TD on every 3.6 receptions! Pittsburgh didn’t really utilize their passing attack much, but with RB James Conner off to the NFL and the Panthers bringing in grad transfer Max Browne to play QB, you have to figure they might throw the ball more. It’ll be interesting to see how productive Weah can be if used.
Computer Hope Courtland Sutton/6’4/220lbs/rJR: Sutton put the country on notice in 2015 when the fully formed 6’4/220lbs receiver caught 49 balls for 862 yards & 9TD averaging 17.6ypc. Proving that was no fluke, Sutton followed it up last season with 76 catches for 1246 yards & 10TD averaging 16.4ypc. The Mustangs return 9 starters on offense including QB Ben Hicks. HC Chad Morris is in his 3rd season which means his philosophies are entrenched. Sutton could very well have his best season & be a 1st Rd. NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Taj Williams/6’4/193lbs/SR: I think more people should be talking about Williams as a potential All-American this season. He’s got a similar build to former TCU WR Josh Doctson who ended up being a 1st Rd. Draft pick of the Washington Redskins. A junior college player, Williams led the Frogs in receiving last season with 702 yards averaging 18.0ypc! From that you could argue Williams has a bit more big play ability than Doctson. Given all that TCU returns on offense, Williams should have a field day in 2017!
Computer Hope Devin Duvernay/5’11/205lbs/SO: Duvernay didn’t quite have the true freshman season that Ahmmon Richards had in Coral Gables, but the Longhorns wideout did well in his own right catching 20 balls for 412 yards & 3TD. He averaged 20.6ypc and had an 80 yard TD reception. Compact at 5’11/205lbs, Duvernay has track star speed and elite play making ability. He’ll be a bigger focal point of the Longhorns attack under new HC Tom Herman & with Shane Buechele throwing the ball, expect big things to happen!
Computer Hope Christian Kirk/5’11/200lbs/JR: Kirk in College Station has been every bit as good as Calvin Ridley at Alabama over this first two years with the Aggies. In those 2 seasons, Kirk has caught 163 passes for 1,937 yards & 16TD! Kirk has also been a solid punt returner which led him to being a 1st Team All-American last season. Texas A&M has a lot of new faces on offense this season but Kirk should be a leading voice and the Aggies will need to get him the ball as often as possible in the hopes he makes something.
Computer Hope Cody Thompson/6’2/200lbs/SR: Thompson came into his own last season for Toledo by catching 64 passes for 1269 yards & 11TD while averaging 19.8ypc! Thompson isn’t your typical possession type of receiver out of a MAC school. He’s got solid size at 6’2/200lbs with some serious big play ability. The Rockets return QB Logan Woodside so you can imagine what Thompson and he can do in an encore season! With TE Michael Roberts moving on, Thompson should be an even bigger redzone threat for TDs.
Computer Hope Dante Pettis/6’1/192lbs/SR: Jake Browning is a legitimate 1st Team All-American threat with a real shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. His top target will be Pettis who came into his own in a major way last season catching 53 balls for 822 yards & 15TD! Pettis was mostly UW’s second option behind John Ross so it will be interesting to see how Pettis will do now that he’s the #1 option for Browning. If you believe Browning is going to throw for 4000 yards & 50TD, a lot of that is going to Pettis’s way!

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jeff Thomas/Miami-FL/5’10/175lbs: Thomas didn’t enroll early so he’s a bit behind, but the 5’10/175lbs speed burner steps into a situation that is pretty amazing. Miami-FL’s projected starting 3 wide receivers are Ahmmon Richards (6’1/190), Darrell Langham (6’4/220) and Lawrence Cager (6’5/220). All 3 are big boys which leaves the slot open for a smaller, speedier receiver like Thomas. The Hurricanes bring back a ton of experience on the O-Line, and they also return their starting RB Mark Walton who rushed for over 1100 yards last season. Given the experience on the O-Line and the size Miami-FL brings to their outside wideouts, Thomas should find himself with tremendous space underneath to exploit out of the slot. Note also that the Hurricanes lost their QB Brad Kaaya to the NFL this past spring and will bring in Malik Rozier to play QB. New QBs love having those little dump off routes to TEs and slot receivers. Opportunity plays such a big role for freshman to dominate, and Thomas walks into a situation where he should have an outstanding year should he get the opportunity and take advantage of it.

Jerry Jeudy/Alabama/6’1/184lbs: Alabama has a recent history of freshman receivers putting up big numbers. In 2015, Calvin Ridley led the Crimson Tide in receiving with 89 catches for 1,045 yards & 7TD. In 2012, Amari Cooper led Alabama in receiving with 58 catches for 999 yards & 11TD. In 2008, Julio Jones led the Tide in receiving with 58 catches for 924 yards & 4TD. Jeudy was one of the most sought after wideout recruits in the 2017 class and he enrolled early meaning he’s had time to learn the play book and develop a relationship with QB Jalen Hurts. Alabama is run heavy for sure and there is no question that Hurts is going to look to get the ball to Calvin Ridley at every opportunity, but Jeudy has big play ability with speed to burn. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to make plays especially with defenses keying in on Ridley. This is Alabama so everyone is good and the Tide have no shortage of receivers on the depth chart, but I think Jeudy could be the next in line of big time Alabama receivers.

Donovan Peoples-Jones/Michigan/6’2/190lbs: A consensus 5-star recruit and the best WR in the entire 2017 class, Peoples-Jones stayed close to home and will suit up for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines. An absolute burner with tremendous ball skills, Peoples-Jones should start immediately for the Wolervines and is already the most talented player on the depth chart. Michigan lost their top-3 receivers last year (Amara Darboh, Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson) so Harbaugh and returning starting QB Wilton Speight will look for someone to fill the void. Peoples-Jones enrolled early and went through spring practice with the Wolverines so he should be ready to go from the very first down played. It’s interesting to look at Jim Harbaugh and the offense he employs. He’ll run a lot of 2-TE sets which is obviously run heavy. If you go back to his days at Stanford, Harbaugh didn’t really have ELITE wideouts, but he also wasn’t able to recruit guys like Peoples-Jones or fellow freshman WRs Nico Collins and Tarik Black. The trio of Peoples-Jones, Collins and Black was the best WR class in some time for a program and you have to wonder if Harbaugh and his staff have a lot of plans to open up the offense. I think Peoples-Jones starts that transition this year by having a monster season as true frosh.

Joseph Lewis/USC/6’2/205lbs: The Trojans depth chart is starting to look more and more like an NFL draft room dry erase board! Lewis was one of the most highly sought after wideouts in the 2017 class and he comes on the heels of last year’s two huge recruits, Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns. Lewis should be able to outproduce what those guys did in their first year. Lewis is projected to start for the Trojans right away and because he is a freshman opposing defensive coordinators won’t key on him right away. Also helping Lewis is having arguably the best passing QB in college football, Sam Darnold, tossing him TD passes! RB Ronald Jones also returns giving USC a complete and balanced attack offensively. If Lewis gets an opportunity (he enrolled early and has been with the team since January) I think he’ll take it and run with it. As I’ve said countless times when discussing freshman, a lot depends upon opportunity and given Lewis’s early enrollment along with the Trojans losing their top 2 receivers, Lewis could easily slide into that #1 receiver role and start producing right away.

Tyjon Lindsay/Nebraska/5’9/160lbs: Originally an Ohio State commit out of California, Lindsay changed his mind and opted to join the Huskers and take his talents to Lincoln! He joins Keyshawn Johnson & Jaevon McQuitty as other top flight WR commits Mike Riley and his staff convinced to come to Nebraska and it was an impressive haul indeed. Lindsay is LIGHTNING fast with big play ability written all over him. He’s obviously a smaller WR so he’ll be more of a slot/#3 WR sort of player, but I think this plays to his strengths and will give Nebraska a lethal weapon as the Cornhuskers should be completely entrenched in Riley’s pro style offense he likes to run. QB Tanner Lee is an NFL prospect with solid size at 6’4/220lbs. Lee transferred to Nebraska last season from Tulane and say out last year although this will be his 2nd year in Riley’s system. Lindsay was a huge get for Coach Riley. I think he’ll be used early and often and he’ll provide a spark to the Nebraska offense we haven’t seen in some time.

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida, Indiana, Iowa St., Louisville, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, SMU, TCU, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, USC, Washington, Wide Receivers | 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 – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl seems fitting. You really can’t say enough about what a tremendous job Bob Davie has done for the Lobos. New Mexico was a combined 3-33 in the 3-years before Davie took over. How he has them at potentially a 9-4 season with back-to-back bowl games in his 5th year. As for the game, New Mexico has the nation’s best rush offense so UTSA will need to figure out a way to stop it if they’re to win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Las Vegas Bowl: Talk about a consolation bowl for early watching! The 9-3 Cougars take on the 10-3 Aztecs! Both of these teams were thought to win their respective conferences. Houston didn’t but SD State did get their revenge win over Wyoming to take the Mountain West. Tune in for Houston QB Gary Ward & DT Ed Oliver. Both guys have been outstanding this season. The Cougs won’t have Tom Herman but this is a fantastic early game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Camellia Bowl: Jason Candle did an outstanding job in his first year as HC of Toledo. The Rockets went 9-3 and won the MAC East. Their 3 losses came against W.Michigan, Ohio & BYU. Not bad at all. Appalachian St. has an outstanding defense. At 9-3 they have 2 losses to Tennessee and Miami-FL! It’ll be interesting to see if the Mountaineers can put a stop to Toledo’s Cody Thompson, Logan Woodside & Kareem Hunt. This game will be very compelling. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cure Bowl: Somewhat of a ho-hum bowl game as 6-6 UCF takes on 7-5 Arkansas State. UCF has a couple of tremendous corners in Shaquill Griffin and DJ Killings. They’ve been a terror to QBs all season long & that shouldn’t change. Helping them is OLB Shaquem Griffin who has totaled 11 sacks and 19 TFL on the season. Ark State is mostly a running team although they don’t do it particularly well. I’d tune in for the Knights defensive playmakers. Computer Hope
Computer Hope New Orleans Bowl: A couple of 6-6 teams going at it from CUSA and the Sun Belt conference. Obviously this is going to be one of those games that nobody is paying particular attention to but both teams feature a pretty good running back. Southern Miss’ Ito Smith ran for 1300+ yards & 15TD averaging 5.5ypc, while ULL’s Elijah McGuire ran for 1,028 yards & 7TD. This is HC Mark Hudspeth’s 5th bowl in 6 years as HC for the Ragin’ Cajuns. He’s done well. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Miami Beach Bowl: This game is played in Marlins Park which is the home of the Miami Marlins which is pretty cool. This is a bad matchup for C.Michigan. After a nice 3-0 start which saw them beat Oklahoma St., CMU went just 3-5 in MAC play & 3-6 in their final 9. Tulsa’s offense is prolific! They have a couple of thousand yard rushers, a thousand yard receiver & a three thousand yard passer. I think Tulsa scores 50+ in this game & dominates. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boca Raton Bowl: Every time I hear the words Boca Raton I always think of Episode 9 of Season 1 of The Sopranos entitled Boca about Junior Soprano going down to Boca with one of his girlfriends, Bobbi Sanfillipo. The entire episode revolves around Junior’s amazing cunnilingus skills that eventually gets out. The part I always liked best is the end when Junior shoves Bobbi’s head in pie. Oh the game! Lots of scoring here with two good offenses. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Poinsettia Bowl: This is one of the underrated bowls I’m interested in. Wyoming HC Craig Bohl did a helluva job this year with the Cowboys. Nobody picked them to be this good, but Wyoming pulled off a coup to win the MW Mountain division & posted wins over Boise St. and San Diego State! BYU is tough. They went 8-4 but their 4 losses came by a total of 8 points! The Cougars are THIS CLOSE to being 12-0! Kalani Sitake did a GREAT job at BYU! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Idaho Potato Bowl: What a job Paul Petrino has done in Moscow! The Vandals were 3-21 the two years before Petrino took over and in his first two seasons they were even worse at 2-21. Last year they improved to 4-8 & in Petrino’s 4th season the Vandals are bowl bound at 7-5! They also went 6-1 in their last 7 games! They’ll have it tough with Colorado State. The Rams can score with a very balanced offense. Tough game for Idaho but great year. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Bahamas Bowl: If Old Dominion doesn’t lose on the road to W.Kentucky, the Monarchs finish 10-2 and undefeated in CUSA. The probably win the conference title and get to 11-2. HC Bobby Wilder has this program humming & I wouldn’t doubt if they become THE premier team in CUSA. A win here makes them 10-3 on the season & I expect them to take care of E.Michigan. EMU HC Chris Creighton was 3-21 his 1st 2 seasons. This year EMU went 7-5!! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Armed Forces Bowl: How is this for disappointing! If Navy blows out Temple in the AAC Championship game, they had an outside shot at jumping W.Michigan & getting to the Cotton Bowl to play Wisconsin. Instead the Middies are playing Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Bulldogs had a solid year but their defense is suspect & if Navy comes to play they should have no issues forcing the issue on offense. Win & Navy finishes at 10-4. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Dollar General Bowl: Frank Solich has done an outstanding job with the Bobcats. Western Michigan got all the publicity this season, and rightly so, but Ohio’s 8-5 record is a bit misleading. The Bobcats never lost a game by more than 9 points and 4 of those 5 losses were by 7 points or less. That 8-5 record is close to 12-1! Troy is exactly the same. The Trojans had a great 9-3 season but 2 losses were close so 9-3 could be 11-1. This should be a very good bowl. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Hawaii Bowl: And this is where we make the case for too many bowl games as the 6-7 Rainbows get in via exemption to play Middle Tennessee State. A lot of credit has to go to Hawaii 1st year HC Nick Rolovich for getting Hawaii into a bowl given that over the past 4 seasons the Rainbows have an 11-39 record. Hawaii’s last bowl game was in 2010 & their last bowl win was in 2006. Tune in for MTSU QB Brent Stockstill & RB I’Tavius Murray. They’re big! Computer Hope
Computer Hope St. Petersburg Bowl: LOVE THIS GAME! Talk about a wild season for Miami-OH! They lose their first 6 games, but win their final 6 to get bowl eligible! Some of that was schedule, but the switch to QB Gus Ragland made a HUGE difference. Ragland is 6-0 as a starter this season with 15TD to ZERO picks! Nobody picked Miami-OH to get to 6-6 & now they get an SEC team in a bowl! Outside of WMU/Wisconsin, this is the MAC bowl game to watch! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Quick Lane Bowl: Potentially a snoozer, Maryland and Boston College are a couple of high major squads coming off 6-6 regular seasons. These are a couple of teams still finding their way. Steve Addazio at BC is still figuring out his rushing attack without Andre Williams and Tyler Murphy. DJ Durkin obviously has a defensive reputation & the Terps improved defensively but still have a ways to go. The bowl is nice here but both teams actually need the reps. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Independence Bowl: The funny thing about Vanderbilt is that their 6-6 record could easily be 10-2. The Commodores have some excellent wins on the resume. They beat MTSU, WKU, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Georgia. Four of their 6 losses were close! Derek Mason has done an outstanding job! They’ll be competitive. I want to see which NC State shows up. The NC State against Clemons & Florida St? Or the NC State against Louisville? I hope the former. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Heart of Dallas Bowl: The Black Knights get to their first bowl since 2010! If you feel like you are having deja vu, don’t worry. These two teams actually played each other on October 22 when North Texas upended Army 35-18! Making matters worse? North Texas got to a bowl game by exemption given their 5-7 record. That’s too bad. Army deserves better. How amazing is it that the Knights have wins over both Temple & Navy? What are the odds? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Military Bowl: Temple wins the AAC so they get Wake Forest in the Military Bowl? No wonder Matt Rhule left out in a hurry for Baylor!! This feels like a huge slap in the face to the Owls. Temple is on a 7-game winning streak. They are 10-3 & a conference champion. Wake Forest is 6-6 & 2-6 in their last 8 games. They finished 5th in the ACC Atlantic with a 3-5 conference record. I get the conference tie ins but this is a huge opportunity lost for college football. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Holiday Bowl: This should be a pretty cool game regarding contrasts in styles. Minnesota wants to control the clock with their running game while Wazzou obviously wants to light up the scoreboard with their passing attack. What’s interesting here is the Gophers have a very good run D but a suspect pass D. I wonder if they’ll try to rush 3-4 and drop 7-8 and dare the Cougars to run the football? Teams have tried this and the Cougs have made them pay! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cactus Bowl: A couple of close road losses to Wyoming & Air Force prevented the Broncos from a 12-0 & potentially 13-0 season which would have robbed Western Michigan of the Cotton Bowl. WMU is a better story so I’m glad it worked out, but Boise has to be fairly happy it was able to keep Bryan Harsin. There was some rumor about a move to Oregon which would have been tough. A win here make Harsin 32-8 in his first 3 years on the blue turf. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Pinstripe Bowl: This is a pretty neat bowl game that will be played in Yankee Stadium. I thought the Panthers had a good shot at winning the Coastal this year but 3 close losses took them from 11-1 to 8-4. The same could be said for Northwestern. I thought the Wildcats became the team nobody wanted to face in the Big 10. A couple of odd losses early & a loss to Minnesota took a potential 9-3 & made it 6-6. Both teams are going to try & run the ball. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Russell Athletic Bowl: OLD SCHOOL BIG EAST!!! I love this game. Couple of interesting subplots here. Miami-FL isn’t great but the Mountaineers are still looking for some validation of their 10-2 record. A win here to get to 11-2 at least shows they can win outside the Big XII. For the Canes, they were 0-3 in close games so that 8-4 is VERY close to 11-1. They’ve won 4-straight & really want to go out on a high note. Brad Kaaya can improve his stock here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Foster Farms Bowl: Getting better by subtraction? Former Indiana HC Kevin Wilson led the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in 25 seasons yet resigned over philosophical differences and DC Tom Allen takes over. I don’t think Hoosier Nation could be any happier with Allen as HC and some think it was a preemptive move to keep Allen from taking a different HC job. What a wild ride in Bloomington! GO HOOSIERS! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas Bowl: This is an intriguing game on paper given that both teams are 8-4, but this has the feel to me of a K-State blowout win potentially because I’m not sure a lot of the A&M players will feel like this one is worth playing. Guys like Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall have nothing really to gain here. On the other hand, would Texas A&M dare to make a move away from Kevin Sumlin should the Aggies get blown out and turn in another 8-5 season? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Birmingham Bowl: Outstanding season for the Bulls and former HC Willie Taggart. Unfortunately Taggart has taken his talents to Eugene Oregon as the next HC of the Ducks so a new era in USF football starts with Charlie Strong! I love the move for South Florida because I think Strong is an OUTSTANDING recruiter and putting him in Florida should put a lot of teams on notice. It would be pretty cool to see USF finish the season 11-2. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Belk Bowl: This should be a really fun game. In his first season at Virginia Tech, HC Justin Fuente has really done some solid things with the Hokies offense making more of a run-centric unit and that will pay massive dividends down the road given Bud Foster’s defensive prowess. It’s not unlike what Arkansas does under Bret Bielema. VT will utilize their pass a bit more, but you get the gist. I really hope VT gets that 10th win but Arkansas needs a W too. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Alamo Bowl: This is the first game you can really start looking at conference strengths. By all accounts, Oklahoma St. was the 2nd best team in the Big XII. I’d say the Buffaloes were the 3rd best team in the Pac 12 behind Washington & USC. Does a #3 Pac 12 team beat the #2 Big XII team? The big matchup here will be the UC secondary against Mason Rudolph. I don’t think the Cowboys are going to able to air it out & Coach Mac gets the Buffs to 11-3! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Liberty Bowl: I think some people are a bit disappointed in Kirby Smart’s first season as HC of the Bulldogs but Georgia’s 7-5 record includes 3 games that were lost by a total of 4 points. The ball bounces the other way & UGA is 10-2 & SEC East champs. They beat UNC & Auburn. I don’t think Nick Chubb was 100% all season & Jacob Eason was a true frosh QB. Leonard Floyd & Jordan Jenkins were huge losses. Win or lose here, Georgia did well. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sun Bowl: Not saying this was a wasted season because the Tar Heels could still get a bowl win & finish 9-4, but when you look at back at their season, the Tar Heels should be 11-1. That would have won the Coastal & given UNC a good shot at New Year’s 6 bowl even if they lost to Clemson. Don’t dismiss Stanford in this one. I think the Cardinal is looking for respect & getting to 10-3 could potentially put them in the final AP Top-15. Love this game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Music City Bowl: Games like this are sort of neat because both are historically great programs and if you look at the jerseys alone it’s cool to see them, but this isn’t the mid-1990s. Nebraska is Big 10 #6 going up against The Vols are are SEC #6/7. What could make this game interesting is a blowout win for the Huskers. Butch Jones is on thin ice as it is. Could a blowout win for Nebraska combined with the 49ers firing Chip Kelly lead Kelly to Tennessee? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arizona Bowl: It’s pretty cool for South Alabama to get to a bowl game even if it is with a 6-6 record, but this is a massive mismatch that the Falcons should take advantage of. Air Force is 8-4 and on a roll having won 5 straight including wins over Colorado St. and Boise State. They have one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the nation & South Alabama is going to be overwhelmed when they see it. This opened with AF -15. They cover. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Orange Bowl: I’d expect Michigan to come out and dominate this game. Florida St. is better than their 9-3 record, and as talented as Dalvin Cook is at tailback, I have a hard time believing he’s going to get away with running against Michigan when Ohio State couldn’t. If Deondre Francois tries to air it out, it’s turnover season & the Wolverines really start blowing it out. This might be the sexiest game outside of the playoffs, but Michigan kills it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Citrus Bowl: Love the storylines here. For LSU this is a chance for Ed Orgeron to really put this program at 100% going forward. It’s also a chance for Lenoard Fournette to boost his draft status & for Derrius Guice to start a Heisman campaign in 2017. For Louisville it’s a chance to end the season on a high note & a chance for Lamar Jackson to prove what a great player he is by taking on and beating by far the best defense he’s seen all season. Can’t wait. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Taxslayer Bowl: Great bounce back season for Paul Johnson and the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech was 3-9 last year & has a shot at 9-4 this year with a win over Kentucky. It was also a solid year for the Wildcats who got to a bowl game for the first time under HC Mark Stoops and beat Louisville to finish the regular season. I think this is a big jump off game for the 2017 season as both teams return a lot of players & should be even better in 2017. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Peach Bowl: Chris Petersen is an exceptionally creative coach so the thing to watch here is how well the Huskies can play in the 1st quarter while Alabama could potentially be taken off guard. At some point in time talent is going to settle in and the Tide have a GIGANTIC advantage here, but if UW gets out to a 14 point lead, can they hold on for dear life? This is best case for Washington. Worst case is that they’ve never seen anything like Bama’s front-7 and lose by 30. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Fiesta Bowl: I’m not a fan of this game. I understand the reasoning behind putting Ohio St. in the playoffs but Penn St. beat them and won the Big 10 championship. I think the Nittany Lions got a raw deal which taints the playoff regardless. A lot of talk here about how this game is Deshaun Watson against JT Barrett, but I think Clemson’s defense is going to be tough & the Tigers have so many weapons on offense against a fairly young defense. Still should be a great game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Outback Bowl: This is a great game for Iowa to end the season on a high note. The Hawkeyes have won 3 straight games which includes wins over Michigan and Nebraska. Their 8-4 record is a lot closer to 11-1 given their close losses than people imagine & it’s easy to forget that some thought Iowa had the schedule this year to set up another 12-0 run. Finishing 9-4 is great albeit somewhat disappointing. As for the Gators, they really need to avoid another late season collapse. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cotton Bowl: ROW THE BOAT!!! The Western Michigan story is a fantastic one, but this is a situation for Wisconsin that is almost unwinnable. Lose and you lost to a MAC school. Win and all you did was beat a MAC school. It’s interesting to note that WMU is 2-0 against Big 10 schools this year having beat Illinois and Northwestern by a combined 25 points. The Badgers beat both by a combined 59 points. It would be so cool to see PJ Fleck pull of a 14-0 season! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Rose Bowl: Two teams couldn’t be any hotter coming into this one. Penn St. has won 9 straight games including wins over Ohio St. & Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game. USC has won 8 straight games including wins over Colorado, Washington, Notre Dame & UCLA. I really think these teams are out to prove they should have been in the playoffs. USC beat both UW & Colorado. Penn St. beat Ohio State. This might be the best bowl outside of the national championship. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sugar Bowl: Love this game. If the season started tomorrow and the Tigers were healthy, knowing what we know now, I think they’d go 11-1. War Eagle has a top-5 defense that is massively underrated in my opinion. Their running game is also exceptional so Auburn can put a lot of pressure on Oklahoma. I think OU is playing for respect. A win over Auburn legitimizes them as a team that maybe should have been in the playoffs. A loss here hurts the Big XII quite a bit. Computer Hope

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Air Force, Alabama, Appalachian St., Arkansas, Arkansas St., Army, Auburn, Baylor, Boise St., Boston College, Bowl Season, BYU, Central Michigan, Clemson, Colorado, Colorado St., Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Kentucky, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Miami-FL, Miami-OH, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Minnesota, Mississippi St., Navy, NC State, NCAA, NCAA Playoffs, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Texas, Northwestern, Ohio, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Old Dominion, Penn St., Pittsburgh, San Diego St., South Alabama, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Tennessee, Texas AM, Toledo, Troy, Tulsa, UCF, USC, Utah, UTSA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington St., West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 13 – BIG GAMES

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Computer Hope THE GAME. There are so many implications here, but what is most interesting to me about this game is that it might be more about who ISN’T playing than the two 10-1 teams that are. If Ohio St. wins then it’s really a HUGE win for Penn State. If Michigan wins without Wilton Speight, can the Wolverines beat Wisconsin in a rematch without their starting QB in the Big 10 Championship game!? This game should come down to trench warfare. I’ll go Ohio St.. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game had SO MUCH potential before Auburn let down against Georgia. It’s still the Iron Bowl so who knows what can happen especially with how well Auburn is playing and the fact that Kamryn Pettway might be able to play in the game. Alabama has the best rush defense in the nation. Auburn has the 5th best rushing offense. I think a big key for Auburn is getting Sean White healthy. It won’t be enough though. Alabama ROLLS to 12-0! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Pac 12 North Championship Game. Or the Apple Cup formally! Before I watched Wazzou play Colorado this past week I wouldn’t have given them a chance to beat the Huskies, but the Cougars are pretty fast, physical football team that I think can give Washington a bit of trouble. I think Washington wins because their D-Line is going to create quite a bit of pressure on Luke Falk, but Washington St. could hang around a lot longer than you think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Colorado showed a lot of fortitude last week in beating Washington St., and they’ll need more of that and more against a Utah team that would like nothing better than to spoil Colorado’s dream season. In some odd way I’m hoping for Colorado to win this game only to lose the Pac 12 Championship game. Also for Wisconsin to lose but Nebraska to lose the Big 10 title game. Colorado/Nebraska Rose Bowl anyone!? I’ll take the Buffs here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sounds weird but Western Michigan could lose the MAC-West if they lose this game. The two best teams in the MAC outside of the Broncos are Toledo & Ohio. WMU gets Toledo this week and if Ohio can beat Akron then WMU gets the Bobcats in the MAC championship game. It certainly seems like 13-0 is a legitimate possibility for PJ Fleck and his crew. I’m rooting hard for it. Beating Ohio & Toledo is very important and it’ll result in a New York’s 6 bowl. Computer Hope
Computer Hope 1-8 in their last 9 games, the nightmare year for the Spartans continues. This is a dangerous game for Penn State. Ohio St. is favored to beat Michigan so if Penn St. takes care of business it can win the Big 10 East. A Big 10 title and they are in the playoffs! How’s that for insanity. The Spartans aren’t your typical 3-8 team. They’ve played Michigan & Ohio St. very tough lately so they won’t lay down. They’d love to play spoiler. I think Penn St. gets it done. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Does anyone realize that Minnesota is 8-3? The Gophers haven’t beaten anyone of note which is why they aren’t getting respect, but last week’s 29-12 win over Northwestern was impressive. The Gophers 3 losses have been close ones against Iowa, Penn St. and Nebraska so they are looking to break through with a signature win. They won’t get it. There is TOO much on the line for Wisconsin & they are playing in Madison. Wisconsin is thinking playoffs! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Huskers aren’t completely out of it yet. A win here combined with a Wisconsin loss thrusts Nebraska into the Big 10 championship game. If the Huskers face a Penn St. or depleted Michigan squad, there is a decent chance Nebraska wins the Big 10 championship and wind up in the playoffs! In this situation, Iowa is about the worst opponent you can think of. They are a perfect spoiler team. Go ask Michigan about Iowa potentially ruining seasons! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Playing for the Old Oaken Bucket! Not necessarily a huge game with national implications, but there are some broader implications with Indiana. A Hoosier victory would put Indiana in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1990-1991! That’s a quarter century ago! A bowl win could be IU’s first since 1991! If IU beats Purdue & win their bowl, I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens with HC Kevin Wilson. Does a higher profile team grab him? Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Irish are having a terrible year but this rivalry is OUTSTANDING so it’s hard not to include it as a big game. A couple of thoughts here. First, if the Irish get blown out and finish 4-8, does Brian Kelly survive? The other thought is a USC win puts the Trojans at 9-3 with 8 straight wins. A Colorado loss puts them in the Pac 12 Championship game. Does a 10-3 Pac 12 champion USC team with 9 straight wins crash the playoff party? Rose Bowl at worst. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The LSU win was big for Florida because their 8-2 is almost as soft as Minnesota’s 8-3. I think this game is important because I don’t think Florida wants a repeat of last season. Last year the Gators got to this game at 10-1 & then promptly dropped 3 straight. As SEC East champs that is a REAL possibility again. They get FSU on the road and then Alabama in the SEC Championship. The 8-2 could turn into 8-4 really fast. UF can’t repeat 2015. Computer Hope

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Big Games, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Penn St., Purdue, Toledo, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St., Week 13, Western Michigan, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 11 – BIG GAMES

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Computer Hope This is a huge game for the Huskies as it’ll give them more credibility as one of the ELITE playoff teams. I’m a huge fan of Washington’s team so I definitely have them in, but when you think about their resume, I guess you could argue it’s lacking. Their best non-conference win is over Rutgers & the Pac 12 is down. USC has played like a top-10 team since QB Sam Darnold took over so expect the Trojans to put up a fight. I think Washington will ultimately be too tough to handle. They are for real. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Ed Orgeron’s first road game as LSU’s head coach. This game doesn’t necessarily have any implications nationally, but both teams are incredibly good and a win by either is important for the programs. For Arkansas a win means a 10-win season in on the table which is a program milestone under Bret Bielema. It also would mean Arkansas is likely a top-15 team. For LSU it adds to their legitimacy. The Tigers proved last week they might be the #2 team in the nation right now. A win here helps. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Here is a weird stat for you, this is Georgia’s 10th game of the season yet it will only be their 4th in Athens! War Eagle had some trouble with Vanderbilt last week until QB Sean White came in and dominated the 2nd half. Georgia is 2-4 in their last 6 & had issues with Kentucky last week. The Bulldogs haven’t faced ANYONE like Auburn this season and I think it’ll show. I think this is another opportunity for Auburn to solidify itself on their road to the true SEC Championship game at Alabama! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Don’t blink in this one! Wazzou QB Luke Falk currently ranks 3rd in the NCAA in passing yards with 3,237. He completes 74.1% of his passes and has 28TD to 5INT. Cal QB Davis Webb currently ranks 4th in the NCAA in passing yards with 3,176. He completes 61.0% of his passes and has 30TD to 11INT. Both teams are top-5 in passing offense! The O/U is 82.5! Strategically it’s a great win for WSU. Cal isn’t a great team but they’ve beat a couple of good teams so it’ll look good for the Cougs. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Gophers are 7-2 and I don’t think anyone in the nation has noticed. That’s partly due to the Gophers’ biggest win coming against….Illinois? Regardless, Minnesota is in play to win the Big 10 West believe it or not! If they win out, they go to the Big 10 championship game! Their two losses have come against Iowa & Penn St. by a combined 10 points. Nebraska is coming off 2 losses to Wisconsin & Ohio St. so opportunity could be there. I think it’s a long shot, but this one has implications. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I cannot wait to watch this one. Penn St. is showing out and while you can get all hot and bothered over Saquon Barkley & Trace McSorley, the real protagonist of the Penn St. football team is the defense. The Hoosiers haven’t been as prolific offensively as they’ve been in recent years but IU can score & they are looking for bowl eligibility at 5-4. Penn St. is rolling SO WELL right now that I keep waiting for the let down, but who knows? I want to see the Penn St. defense dominate Indiana today. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas RB D’Onta Freeman is on pace to finish the season with 2,169 rushing yards & 20TD while averaging 7+ypc! I know it’s going to be impossible for him to jump Lamar Jackson or Jake Browning in the Heisman race, but he needs to be invited to NYC for the ceremony. He’s been the most physically dominant RB I’ve seen all season. WVU’s Big 12 chances are still there but Texas & Charlie Strong NEED this win. They could win out & get to 9-4 & that’s huge improvement in Year 3 for Strong. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is OK-State’s last home game before finishing up with back-to-back road games against TCU and Oklahoma. If they can beat Texas Tech & TCU then playing Oklahoma would be a defacto Big XII championship game assuming the Sooners take care of their own business. This should be a good game because Texas Tech plays pretty hard & forces teams into shootouts where anything can happen. Tech HC Kliff Kingsbury needs to figure out a way to recruit elite defensive players to Lubbock. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Iowa isn’t THAT much different than last season except for a couple of things. In 2015 the Hawkeyes got a few more turnovers and the breaks seemingly went their way in close games which led to a 12-2 mark and a top-10 ranking. The hurricane known as Michigan is coming to Iowa City & I don’t expect it to be close AT ALL, but Iowa has pride so they’ll play fairly hard. Iowa is always going to skate a fine line. Sometimes it results in 2009 or 2015 seasons. Sometimes it results in 2011 & 2016. Computer Hope
Computer Hope After starting the season 5-1 with wins over Texas Tech, Cal & UCLA, the Sun Devils have lost 4 straight games & are now fighting for bowl eligibility. This is an interesting game to me because ASU plays well at home and Utah’s resume is a little bit suspect. The Utes are coming off a loss to Washington & really are fighting for respect as they are living off an early season win over USC. ASU’s defense is SO BAD I’d expect Utah to handle them easily, but if ASU could make it interesting if they play well. Computer Hope

November 12, 2016 Posted by | Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, California, Georgia, Indiana, LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, Oklahoma St., Penn St., Texas, Texas Tech, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St., Week 11, West Virginia | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 7 – BIG GAMES

Week 5 already!! This is crazy! I hate how fast the college football goes by. After this week there will be some teams that are one win away from bowl eligibility. That sounds crazy but it’s true. Let’s get to this week best 10 games.

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Computer Hope Wisconsin did an outstanding job locking Michigan’s running attack down a couple of weeks ago in a 14-7 loss. The Wolverines ran for 130 yards but it took them 44 tries to get to that number. Ohio St. averages 51 rushing attempts per game so while Ohio St. & Michigan are run first teams, they are a little different in how they get there. This is a monster game at Camp-Randall & I don’t think it’ll be much different than the Michigan/Wisconsin game. Can the Badgers score enough? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Forget losing. Tennessee needs to show up and not completely embarrass themselves in this one. The Vols have played with fire all season long and finally their magic ran out against Texas A&M last week, but things could get ugly in Knoxville and here is why. The Tennessee rush defense is pitiful. Alabama is a PUNISHING running football team. Tennessee is the 4th worst team in turnovers committed. Alabama is 13th in turnovers gained. Put that together & Bama might win by 40! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sort of an under the radar SEC West game because both Alabama & Texas A&M are undefeated, but there are pretty cool implications here. Both teams have 2 losses so the loser here can’t win 10 regular season games which I think is a pretty big deal for both clubs. Arkansas wants to take the next step while Ole Miss needs 11 wins on the season to keep their 1-win per year improvement streak going. Another incentive for Ole Miss is that they can still finish 2nd in the SEC West. Solid game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Colorado suffered a heart breaking loss to USC last week in SoCal 21-17 but this week come back against Arizona St. with a chance to right the ship & stay atop the Pac 12 South standings. Arizona St. lost to USC 41-20 so maybe that is a harbinger of things to come for the Buffs. It’ll be an interesting game for Colorado because they’ve had a bit of a problem with teams who like to grind out games on the ground. ASU wants to run first so Colorado better come ready with their rush D. Computer Hope
Computer Hope If either of these teams want to win the ACC Coastal then the most important aspect of this game might be the remaining schedule for Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels have to win out and hope the Hokies lose two conference games. That isn’t going to happen so at best UNC can play spoiler to Miami-FL. The Hurricanes lost a brutal 20-19 gut check game in a Hurricane to Florida State! It’s not a season ender, but Miami-FL has to win this game & they have to beat VT just five days later! Wow! Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s interesting that the Cougars couldn’t beat E. Washington & Boise St., but can beat Oregon & Stanford in back to back weeks by the combined score of 93-49! While that might not be as impressive as Washington’s combined 114-27 over those 2 teams, there is no question that Wazzou could easily be 9-2 when they host the Huskies for the Apple Cup on November 25th! UCLA isn’t a bad team so this will be tough for Wazzou but it’s another opportunity for WSU to make a statement. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It can’t feel good for Houston to have to suit up for Tulsa after having lost to Navy. Tulsa runs the ball like they don’t know how to do anything else. The attack is different than Navy’s but Houston is in for another smash mouth football game. The Golden Hurricane defense isn’t the best, but their only loss has come to Ohio State & they’ve been racking up the points against everyone else. Houston can get right back on the horse with a win here, but I think this could be a very close game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The last time Indiana hosted a ranked team in Bloomington was……HEY it was two weeks ago!!! The Hoosiers took down a ranked Michigan St. team 24-21. This week Indiana welcomes Nebraska into Memorial Stadium in the hopes of beating 2 ranked teams in a 3-week span! For all intents & purposes, this looks like a Husker walk, but everyone thought that about Sparty too. If Indiana wins this game they are capable of getting to 9-3. A  bowl win and Indiana could finish 10-3! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon St. finally caught somebody sleeping last week and beat Cal 47-44. The Bears play practically no defense so Oregon St. was able to gouge them for almost 500 rushing yards! The Beavers are going to face a MUCH tougher defense in Utah, but the game is in Corvallis and Gary Andersen is a helluva coach so he’ll have Oregon St. ready for the Utes. This is certainly a trap game for Utah who needs a win here before traveling to UCLA. They can’t over look Oregon St. or they’ll lose. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game could have some massive implications because I think Iowa St. HC Matt Campbell is throwing down the gauntlet in the Big XII. The Cyclones probably should have beaten both Baylor & Oklahoma St. these past two weeks which would have put them in the hunt for a Big XII title at this point! The Longhorns are reeling & you get the feeling ISU is going to catch somebody slipping. Charlie Strong is hanging by a thread but could he survive a home loss to Iowa St. & a 2-4 record? Computer Hope

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Big Games, Colorado, Houston, Indiana, Iowa St., Miami-FL, Mississippi, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio St, Oregon St., Tennessee, Texas, Tulsa, UCLA, Utah, Washington St., Week 7, Wisconsin | Leave a comment