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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 TE FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Tight Ends!!! BIG SKILL!!! I love the tight end position because these guys are some of the most important positions on the field. When you look back at great QBs in the history of football, one of the reasons they’ve been great is that a lot of these QBs have had fantastic TEs to throw to. They are a fantastic safety net and to be honest, these guys can be almost impossible to cover when in one on one situations against LBs and safeties. The standard right now is Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski who at 6’6/260lbs is a physical freak that is pretty much unstoppable when he’s healthy. His size alone makes him brutally hard to defend because he can high point the football. Throw in his ball skills and you are seeing a Hall of Fame tight end. This is true at the collegiate game as well. Last year you saw Clemson have Jordan Leggett who was highly productive. The year before Alabama had OJ Howard. In 2013 Florida St. relied heavily on Nick O’Leary being a weapon. In 2011, TE Brad Smelley led Alabama in receiving TDs. Believe me when I tell you that these guys are important.

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 Hale Hentges/6’5/251lbs/JR: Like the receivers, Alabama’s TEs don’t get a ton of run time. OJ Howard was the best TE in college football last season and wasn’t Alabama’s primary weapon given their prodigious running attack. Howard still caught 45 balls for 595 yards & 3TD. Hentges barely has any run time, but he was an outstanding TE recruit with a huge frame and good hands. I think QB Jalen Hurts being in his second year will be more comfortable and while Alabama will still keep running, I think Hentges can be effective.
Computer Hope Blake Mack/6’3/245lbs/SR: Mack flashed last year as a junior for the Red Wolves leading Arkansas St. in receiving with 34 catches for 652 yards & 3TD. That’s an amazing 19.2ypc which is incredible for a TE! It was Mack’s first real run time down in Jonesboro and he made the most of it. He even caught 3 balls for 49 yards (16.3ypc) against Auburn early in the years showing he can flash against the big boys. Arkansas St. returns Justice Hansen at QB so I’m interesting to see what he & Mack can do for an encore season. Will be fun.
Computer Hope DeAndre Goolsby/6’4/244lbs/SR: Goolsby showed some promise back in 2015 as a sophomore when he caught 17 balls for 277yds/1TD with a 16.3ypc. He followed that up last year with more volume catching 38 balls for 342yds/3TD but his average was just 9.0. Goolsby is a better athlete than this & Florida should be able to open the game up with him with a lot of focus going toward Jordan Scarlett & Antonio Callaway. The Gators still have some QB issues to work through, but the offense should be better & Goolsby should play well.
Computer Hope Ryan Izzo/6’5/245lbs/rJR: Back in 2014, TE Nick O’Leary caught 48 balls for 618yds/6TD for a 13-1 FSU team. The year before when the ‘Noles won the BCS Championship, O’Leary was an even bigger big play/red zone threat. Florida St. wants to use their TE and Izzo is the heir apparent to O’Leary. In 2015 FSU had Everett Golson at QB & Izzo was just a rFR. Last year FSU had a frosh QB in Deondre Francois. This season Izzo returns as a rJR and Francois has a season now under his belt. I think FSU gets back to using their TE like in 2013 & 2014.
Computer Hope Isaac Nauta/6’4/246lbs/SO: Nauta flashed last year as a true frosh catching 29 balls for 361 yards & 3TD. The 3TD was 2nd on the team behind Isaiah McKenzie’s 7. Nauta also had a true frosh QB throwing to him in Jacob Eason. According to Phil Steele, Eason was the best QB in the 2016 recruiting class. Nauta was the best TE in the same class. With Nick Chubb & Sony Michel coming back, teams are going to have to play a lot of attention to Georgia’s running game which should allow the receivers to have a field day. Nauta will go off.
Computer Hope C.J. Conrad/6’5/245lbs/JR: The Wildcats stole Conrad out of the state of Ohio and are reaping the benefits. Conrad hasn’t been a high volume player but last season he caught 19 balls for 262 yards & 4TD averaging 13.8ypc. He’s a huge target at 6’5/245lbs and has already started 20 games for UK in his first two seasons. He also flashes big play ability as evidenced by his 72-yard TD catch against New Mexico St. last season. Kentucky averaged 30PPG and return a lot of starters on offense. Everyone will be a lot better & I think Conrad benefits here.
Computer Hope Adam Breneman/6’4/250lbs/rSR: How does arguably the best TE prospect in the 2013 draft class end up at UMass? Breneman originally committed to Penn St. and during his true freshman season he eventually became the starter. Injuries derailed his next two seasons but Breneman graduated from Penn St. in 3 years & transferred to UMass for his remaining 2 seasons. Last year he led all TEs in catches (70) and yards (808) and scored 8TD. Breneman is one of the best TEs in the nation & a naturally gifted athlete. He’ll be an NFL draft pick.
Computer Hope Ryan Smith/6’4/278lbs/SR: The first thing that jumps out about Smith is that he’s a TE that is 6’4 which isn’t unusual but the fact that the kid is pushing 280lbs is CRAZY! Even crazier is that Smith is productive. Last year he caught 31 balls for 356yds/5TD averaging 11.5ypc! Even cooler is that Smith had his best game last year against Mississippi St. where he caught 7 balls for 72 yards & a TD! He’s not a big play threat obviously but he can wall defenders off with ease. Miami returns Gus Ragland at QB & I think Smith can catch 40-50 balls.
Computer Hope Tyrone Wheatley/6’6/276lbs/rSO: Wheatley is a GROWN MAN at 6’6/276lbs! You know Jim Harbaugh wants to play smash mouth football out of a 2-TE set and Wheatley is going to be one of those TE who is going to catch the football. Last year Jake Butt caught 46 balls for 546 yards & Wheatley is going to try and match those numbers now that he’s in his 3rd year under Harbaugh. This guy is a matchup nightmare and almost impossible to defend in the red zone given his size. The Wolverines are awfully young on offense the talent is great.
Computer Hope Alize Mack/6’5/251lbs/rSO: Mack will have to battle Durham Smythe a little bit to get on the field, but his big play ability is incredible & that is going to lead Chip Kelly & OC Chip Long to get Mack on the field if nothing else to force the defense to respect his big play ability. Mack ran into academic troubles last year which led to a redshirt season, but those troubles seem to be behind him. ND should have a great running attack & Equanimeous St. Brown is an outstanding WR. Mack should should see a lot of single coverage which = big plays!
Computer Hope Marcus Baugh/6’5/250lbs/rSR: You never really know how much run time a TE might get in Urban Meyer’s offense. Nick Vannett seemed like a guy who could fill it up but never really was showcased a ton. Jeff Heuerman however had a monster 2013 season. Baugh didn’t do much in his first two season but last year flashed a bit catching 24 balls for 269yds/2TD. He’s tOSU’s leading returning receiver and QB JT Barrett could look to him early and often. Baugh is big with a lot of talent & I could see him being featured in this offense.
Computer Hope Mark Andrews/6’5/253lbs/rJR: In his first two years at TE for Oklahoma, Andrews has been a 1st Team All-Big XII selection. He checks every box you’d want for a TE. Big play ability? Check (64-yard long reception). Red zone threat? Check (14TD in his first 2 seasons). Big play ability? Check (averaged 15.8ypc in 2016). Size? Check (Kid is 6’5/253lbs). Andrews enters 2017 as the best TE in college football. Baker Mayfield is still QB at Oklahoma and the Sooners return their entire O-Line. Andrews should be even better & is a 1st Rd. NFL pick.
Computer Hope Mike Gesicki/6’6/253lbs/SR: If there is a TE who will challenge Andrews for title of best TE in college football, it’s Penn St.’s Mike Gesicki. He essentially did everything Andrews did last season catching 48 balls for 679yds/5TD while averaging 14.1ypc. Like Andrews I think Gesicki is in play to be a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick in 2018. He’s huge at 6’6/255lbs and he can obviously make plays with the football. Penn St. brings back both Trace McSorely & Saquon Barkley so opposing defense are going to protect the run leaving Gesicki to make plays!
Computer Hope Cole Herdman/6’4/245lbs/rJR: I listed Purdue QB David Blough in my Terrific 20: QB post, and I think Herdman is going to be a significant factor this year as well. Herdman is Purdue’s leading returning receiver. He was more volume last year catching 35 balls for 344 yards/3TD but he also had a 53-yard catch showing he can get loose on occasion. New HC Jeff Brohm has been wildly successful thus far with QBs & I think Blough is going to improve. We know Blough is going to sling it around and I think Herdman is in line to benefit from that.
Computer Hope Hayden Hurst/6’5/253lbs/JR: Hurst was a big dude who originally was a professional baseball player in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Spent two years with the Pirates and then walked on at South Carolina. No flash his freshman year but last year Hurst broke out catching 48 balls for 616yds/1TD. Hurst obviously has the size and athleticism to play great football. I think what separates him is that the game is not too big for him & I think QB Jake Bentley is going to be special. That means more opportunities for Hurst at TE.
Computer Hope Mitchell Wilcox/6’4/250lbs/rSO: After sitting out a season to bulk up, Wilcox didn’t waste any time becoming USF’s starting TE and garnering 2nd Team All-AAC honors after catching 12 balls for 278yds/2TD with an incredible 23.2ypc average! Wilcox also made a big 52-yard grab during the season showing his big play ability. Quinton Flowers returns at QB or the Bulls along with a lot of the same players save RB Marlon Mack who moved on to the Indianapolis Colts. Given Wilcox big play ability & athleticism, I think he becomes a focal point.
Computer Hope Dalton Schultz/6’6/240lbs/rJR: If you are a TE at Stanford, chances are you are going to be pretty good. Recently the Cardinal has produced Zach Ertz, Coby Fleener, Austin Hooper, and Levine Toilolo. Schultz is next in line and should be ready to have his breakout season. Phil Steele noted Schultz to be the best TE prospect in the 2014 class. He’s got great ball skills and elite level size. Stanford has someone of a QB mess on their hands, but whoever emerges is going to have a great safety valve in Schultz being able to create space & make big plays.
Computer Hope Ethan Wolf/6’6/245lbs/SR: I think Wolf is sometimes the forgotten man when you look at TEs in the SEC and that’s because I think he’s been consistently good for a long time. Wolf already has 35 starts in his career with Tennessee and he’s been steady the entire time. He has great size at 6’6 and almost 250lbs. He doesn’t need to be taken off the field for overt running plays & he does a good job of getting open. There is always a lot of talent at Tennessee but the Vols lost some significant playmakers on offense from 2016 so Wolf could emerge here.
Computer Hope Daniel Imatorbhebhe/6’4/245lbs/rSO: When you have Sam Darnold throwing you the football, you immediately become a factor because you are going to be put into positions to succeed. Imatorbhebhe was just a rFR last year and caught only 17 passes but 4 of them were for TDs and he averaged 14.7ypc. He’s a big time redzone threat for the Trojans and you can imagine the comfort level between he and Darnold has only solidified since last season. With JuJu Smith gone, somebody will have to get some of his balls & Imatorbhebhe gets them.
Computer Hope Troy Fumagalli/6’6/249lbs/rSR: With Gesicki, Wheatley & Baugh getting a lot of love, it’s easy to forget that Fumagalli was 2nd Team All Big 10 last season with 47 catches for 580yds/2TD. Fumagalli is a big target and I think Wisconsin is going to make him a bigger factor in the redzone given his size & skillset. Last year QB Alex Hornibrook had just 9 passing TDs, but Corey Clement has departed for the NFL & Wisconsin might rely a bit more on Hornibrook’s arm in 2017. If that is the case then Fumagalli is going to get a lot more looks to make plays.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Matt Dotson/Michigan State/6’5/234lbs: One of the best TEs in the 2017 high school class, Dotson comes in at 6’5 and almost 240lbs meaning he won’t need a redshirt season to bulk up to play at the collegiate level. He enters a good situation in East Lansing as TEs Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles have moved on creating quite a vacuum at the position. A vacuum that Dotson could immediately step in and fill from the moment he gets to campus. I believe a big part of freshman success is opportunity and there should be a pretty big one for Dotson. The one caveat is that Michigan St. is in the midst of a complete rebuild with the program. Jim Harbaugh has woken a sleeping giant in Ann Arbor and James Franklin has Penn St. WAY AHEAD of schedule as far as bringing that program back to prominence. Ohio State under Urban Meyer is incredible meaning Michigan State has quite a bit of work to do to get the Spartans back on top. Is there enough talent around Dotson that will allow him to flourish as a freshman? That might be the biggest question regarding what impact he can have in 2017.

Jimmy Jaggers/UCLA/6’4/245lbs: Jaggers comes into a good situation at UCLA seeing how last year’s TE Nate Iese has graduated and there is pretty much a wide open race for the starting TE spot with Jaggers being the most talented TE on the roster. It also helps that Jaggers is the biggest TE! I think UCLA QB Josh Rosen has a lot to prove this year after having missed significant time last season and not really building upon his solid freshman season back in 2015. Jagger is also unique in that he gives Rosen his first real threat at TE. UCLA didn’t really employ a TE when Rosen was a freshman and last season the Bruins had both Iese and Austin Roberts as their primary weapons at the position. The problem is that Iese was a converted LB and Roberts is more of a WR at 6’2/230lbs. Jaggers enrolled early so his chemistry with Rosen should be better than it would if Rosen had waited to step on campus in the fall. I think he’ll get opportunities to showcase as a freshman and I think the opportunities are what matters in situations like these. I think Jaggers could be a key piece for UCLA if they hope to challenge USC for Pac 12 South supremacy.

Chase Allen/Iowa State/6’6/235lbs: Allen was a huge get for new Iowa St. head coach Matt Campbell. The Missouri native picked Iowa St. over Nebraska and Michigan to start his collegiate career but the fun was only just beginning. Right before the start of last season Allen was hit by a car that resulted in injuries that caused Allen to have over 100 stitches placed in his body. He then contracted the mumps during his true frosh season and things never looked more bleak. Allen has to redshirt last season which means technically he’s still a freshman so I’m listing him here. Allen is a DYNAMIC athlete having been a 3-sport star in high school and comes from a football family where his dad had been a college head coach for at least 15 years! The Cyclones bring back QB Jacob Park and since this is year 2 of Allen being in Ames, I think he’ll have a good connection with his QB. Matt Campbell has the program headed in the right direction which means more wins which means more points which means more opportunities to shine for Chase Allen.

Parker Eichenberger/Houston/6’3/230lbs: A little bit off the radar but Eichenberger steps into a situation in Houston where the TE spot is up for grabs. Tyler McCloskey was the leading TE last year and he graduated. Last season McCloskey caught 23 balls for 233 yards & 4TD showing that while the TE spot wasn’t necessarily a high volume target for former QB Greg Ward, McCloskey was looked at in the red zone quite a bit. This year Ward is going and in comes Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen who should be more of a pocket type passer than Ward. With Duke Catalon returning at RB and Linell Bonner commanding a lot of attention at WR, the new Houston TE should be able to create some space and take advantage of opportunities. Allen was with Houston last year as a redshirt because of transferring but new HC Major Applewhite was also the OC the last couple of seasons so Allen and he should be on the same page. Eichenberger is probably a touch small at 6’3/230lbs, but he’s playable enough and with the wide open position, I think he has the possibility to emerge and play a key role in Houston trying to win the AAC.

Hunter Bryant/Washington/6’2/241lbs: Jake Browning is going to get his opportunities to throw the football even with Myles Gaskin returning after a 1,373 yards season in 2016. Bryant might be the most highly recruited TE in Washington history or at the very least his the most talented TE recruit UW has had in my recent memory. Drew Sample started 11 games at TE last year but made just 9 catches so he clearly wasn’t a high priority in UW’s offense, but Bryant could change that. He’s a little bit short at 6’2, but already at 241lbs, he doesn’t need any time to bulk up. David Ajamu is on the depth chart but he played in 14 games last year and made one catch. Michael Neal hasn’t gotten any run time. Neither has Jacob Kizer. Bryant is the most talented TE on the roster and clearly UW doesn’t think their current stable of tight ends are the best of playmakers. There are certainly a lot of mouths to feed given who the Huskies have returning even with John Ross now suiting up for the Cincinnati Bengals. Keep in mind also the Darnell Daniels was a TE for UW that is now gone and he caught 17 balls for 307yds/3TD. I think Washington wants to use their TE more and Bryant might give them that opportunity.

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas St., Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa St., Kentucky, Massachusetts, Miami-OH, Michigan, Michigan St., Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Tennessee, Terrific 20, Tight End, UCLA, USC, 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 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.

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 2 – BIG GAMES

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

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

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

2015 NCAA WEEK 2 BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope A rematch of last year’s game that saw the Ducks take down Michigan St. in Eugene 46-27! The score last year is misleading as Michigan St. led 27-18 late into the 3rd quarter before completely falling apart & giving up 28 unanswered points! The first week was odd for both of these teams. Michigan St. couldn’t quite do away with W.Michigan while Oregon gave up 42pts & 550yds to a D2 school! The matchup here is Michigan St.’s rush defense against Oregon’s rushing attack. Those units looked outstanding in the first week. The winner of this game will emerge with the year’s biggest win to date. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I really like Tennessee this year but last week the Vols got TORCHED through the air against Bowling Green. It might go a bit unnoticed because UT still ended up beating the Falcons 59-20, but Oklahoma’s defense is going to be a little stiffer and their offense is going to be vastly superior to what Tennessee saw in Week 1. You put those together & it looks tragic for Tennessee. Tennessee is good we know that. A blow out win by Oklahoma on the road could reestablish the Sooners as one of the nation’s elite. I hope Tennessee puts up a fight but looking at the first week doesn’t bode well for the Vols. Computer Hope
Computer Hope LSU caught a really tough break having their opening game canceled against McNeese State. There is a lot of coaches who believe teams make the biggest jumps in improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 because you can see what you do well & what still needs work. LSU didn’t get this opportunity & now they travel to Mississippi St. to take on a Bulldogs team who has a Heisman candidate at QB in Dak Prescott. MS State beat LSU last year 34-29 in Baton Rouge so LSU is looking for revenge, but the Bulldogs looked pretty good on the road last week beating Souther Miss 34-16. Huge SEC West game! Computer Hope
Computer Hope UL-Lafayette is a pretty good Sun Belt team, but I was expected more from Kentucky than winning 40-33! That’s too many to give up. South Carolina on the other hands surprised me by taking on North Carolina in Charlotte & coming away with a hard fought victory. I really like this game but I like it a lot more from Kentucky’s angle. A win here is huge for the Wildcats because it’ll be an SEC road win over an East Power. It’s unlikely, and if SC ends up winning it’ll look like business as usual, but a 2-0 start by the Gamecocks with wins over UNC & UK is impressive leading up to SC traveling to Athens! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure this game ends up being as big as it is if Boise St. doesn’t beat Washington and BYU doesn’t pull off the Hail Mary in Lincoln to upset Nebraska. Now all of a sudden things get really interesting for both teams. With the football playoffs, I think it impossible for either team to crach the party but a win by Boise St. really opens up the possibility of the Broncos running the table & finishing 13-0. BYU’s road is a lot tougher as they travel to UCLA next week & Michigan the following, but a win here could mean 11-1/10-2! It’s too bad QB Taysum Hill will miss it which is why Boise should win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Virginia stinks but this game has implications in my opinon for a couple of reasons. The first is that last week Virginia went on the road to UCLA and lost 34-16. With Josh Rosen looking as good as he did & with UCLA being as stacked as they are, the 34-16 win is a benchmark for the Irish. If ND plays like they did last week against Texas, then the Irish should leave Charlottesville with a 55-10 or 52-3 win. This would elevate them higher than UCLA based on the comparison game. It’s important for ND in light of 2012. No matter what happens, nobody is going to believe Notre Dame can win it until they do. Computer Hope
Computer Hope One of the best intra-state rivalry games in the nation. Last week Iowa beat Illinois St. 31-14 while Iowa St. dispatehed Northern Iowa 31-7. I thought the Iowa St. win was impressive given how Northern Iowa is always a tough out for both the Hawkeyes & Cyclones. I think Iowa St. has a QB in Sam Richardson that can lead them to some victories & it’s fortuitious that Iowa St. draws the Hawkeye in Ames because they need all the breaks they can get to get to an elusive bowl. Iowa ran well against Illinois St. & Iowa St. didn’t look amazing against the run. It’s something to wach that will be key to the outcome. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sure it was Weber St. but true frosh QB Sth Collins looked OUTSTANDING for the Beavers passing for 92yds/2TD while rushing for 152yds on 17 carries. I don’t think Oregon St. can live that way & be successful but Michigan will have their hands full. Oregon St. HC Gary Andersen is familiar with the Big 10 having just left Wisconsin so he won’t be overly intimidated walking into Ann Arbor. Oregon St. will be well-coached & up for the game. Michigan probably should win given how they played against Utah, but this game should be interesting to watch because it would be crazy for the Harbaugh era to start 0-2! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Battle of the Brothers! The big rivalry everyone knows with Utah is The Holy War between the Utes & BYU, but Utah St. & Utah played every year from 1944-2009! They took 2 years off in 2010-2011 before Utah St. won in 2012 & Utah won in 2013. Last year they didn’t play & this year’s game between the 2 schools is the only one scheduled. With Utah St. really emerging as a football school, this is becoming a GREAT game. Utah is one of those teams with a couple of awesome rivalries in Utah St. & BYU but with 3 non-conference games, it really limits their OOC schedule & subsequent exposure. Computer Hope
Computer Hope UC-Davis did a pretty good job passing the ball on Nevada last week which could mean trouble for the Wolfpack against an Arizona team led by QB Anu Solomon who passed for 229yds/4TD last week against UT-San Antonio. On the other hand, this should be a pretty good matchup for Arizona because the Wildcats struggled defensively against UT-San Antonio & Nevada ran the ball extremely well with Don Jackson last week. Nevada has a good team & Brian Polian is doing a good job in Reno. I think Arizona should win this game going away, but it’ll be a solid road win for Arizona. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sure it was Grambling St., but California racked up 73 points in the week 1 opener! They produced almost 700 total yards & almost 500 total passing yards! California is another under the radar team in my opinion & QB Jared Goff could be a Heisman candidate by the time the year is through. With Oregon’s defense looking awful & Stanford completely tanking against Northwestern, it’s not unreasonable to think California can’t win the Pac 12 North. Enter San Diego St.! Rocky Long is a helluva coach & the Aztecs have a solid defense. This will be a solid test for the Bears & a win here is bigger than at first glance. GREAT GAME! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Nick Stevens WORKED Savannah St. in a 66-13 win over Savannah State. The sophomore QB passed for 289yds & 5TD as Colorado St. took their season opener. This is an interesting game because the Rams aren’t bad & TCU is coming off a tight loss at home to TCU. Jerry Kill is so good its ridiculous so I think Minnesota can go on the road & get a victory. I’m rooting for the Gophers because I like Kill so much. Given how Nebraska & Wisconsin played, why can’t Minnesota sneak up & win the Big 10 West? This one will be interesting to see how Minnesota bounces back as CSU isn’t a pushover. Computer Hope

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Arizona, Big Games, Boise St., BYU, California, Colorado St., Iowa, Iowa St., Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Mississippi St., Nevada, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon St., San Diego St., South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Utah St., Virginia, Week 2 | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 1 BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Easily the best game of the week. I love the parallels to last year’s game. Virginia Tech should not be overlooked, but it’s entirely possible for the Hokies to lose their home opener & then run the table. A 12-1 Virginia Tech team who won the ACC Championship probably makes the playoffs assuming there are 4 undefeated teams from the other 4 big conferences. This is exactly what happened with Ohio State last season. Of course the same could happen to Ohio St.! Don’t count out Virginia Tech. This game will not be a blow out & I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hokies win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I like Corey Clement but replicating Melvin Gordon’s production is impossible & QB Joel Stave completed just 53.4% of his passes a year ago. Alabama might be retooling, but that’s on the offensive side of the ball. Wisconsin is going to have an extremely difficult time moving the ball & if Stave is prone to making mistakes, I can’t think of another defense that can exploit those mistakes to a more fuller extent than Alabama. It really feels like Nick Saban is out to prove something this season which is a scary though, but Alabama hasn’t won a national title in 2 years so everyone’s on edge! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas is going to get better & better under Charlie Strong, but I don’t think the improvements are going to be immediate. I think Tyrone Swoopes might be the handcuff that Strong can’t get away from this season. As for the Irish, this is the best team HC Brian Kelly has had since coming to South Bend. The schedule is absolutely brutal, but this should be a good early season test for new starting QB Malik Zaire, and getting off to a good start is paramount for the Irish. This is also an exciting game just because of the jerseys. These 2 teams are historically great & that is always fun to watch. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This should be an amazing game. I have Auburn picked to win the SEC West which is just as good as saying I have Auburn picked to win the SEC & represent the conference in the football playoffs. Getting Louisville on a neutral field will be tricky for War Eagle though. Despite quite a bit of turnover, the Cardinals still have some good pieces & Bobby Petrino is an outstanding football coach. This is also a good matchup from Louisville’s perspective. If they show well even in a loss, it could put the ACC Atlantic on notice. Clemson & Florida St. would rather Louisville be down a bit in 2015. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Definitely an overlooked SEC game because Alabama plays Wisconsin & Auburn battles Louisville, but there might not be a better game this weekend than Texas A&M/Arizona State! These are amazing games as far as implications are concerned. Also the winner gets off to an amazing start with a huge win in their pocket. There is so much to see in this one. How does Bercovici do as the unquestioned starter? How much improvement has Kyle Allen made? How will ASU’s defense deal with A&M’s size at receiver? How will ASU’s O-line deal with Myles Garrett on the edge? Tons to see here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game will be more about Jim Harbaugh’s return to coaching, especially because he’s coming home, but don’t forget about Utah! The Utes led the nation in sacks last season giving rise to the nickname “Sack Lake City”. They lose Nate Orchard but they are still going to get after the QB. Utah has a ton coming back this year especially on offense. With USC, UCLA, Arizona & Arizona St. being in the Pac 12 South, they get overlooked a bit but HC Kyle Whittingham is great. It’s taken a bit to get adjusted to the Pac 12, but Utah arrives this year in my opinion. This game is about Harbaugh but Utah wins it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is an interesting game to me because I have Stanford winning the Pac 12 North but I think Northwestern will get a lot better after having a couple of down seasons. I’ve mentioned before the concept of sticking with a QB that isn’t that great & I think Northwestern was victim to this with Trevor Siemian. The Wildcats should be a lot better which should be good for Stanford. The Cardinal should rip through this game if they are for real. It’ll be interesting to see if they dominate. A close would be disappointing, but it would show Northwestern is better than people think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Chris Petersen comes back to Boise State! This is a homecoming for Petersen but if you are thinking about this game in terms of national viability then it’s about Boise State. I don’t think the Broncos lose at home, but they need a win here & in Week 2 against BYU to set up their season for a possible undefeated run. The Huskies are going to play tough & they’ll keep it close but UW is probably a year away from really coming into their own under Petersen. This will be bittersweet for Petersen because I think he loses, but moving forward I don’t think he loses to Boise! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Jerry Kill & Gary Patterson actually have a close relationship which makes this game sort of fun. The thing that makes this game intriguing is how good Minnesota is. The Gophers are always going to have trouble because it’s not necessarily a top echelon football school, but if the Gophers can recruit their area & get great coaching, they can be a viable player in the Big 10 West especially if Nebraska, Iowa & Wisconsin are having down years. I don’t think the Gophers win this game, but it’s CLOSE. If I’m a TCU fan I don’t get worked up by the score. Getting a win here is good enough. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Very interesting game on 2 accounts. BYU actually has quite a bit of talent with a lot of players coming back on offense, especially QB Taysom Hill who missed last year with injury. The early season schedule is tough (at Nebraska, Boise St., at UCLA, at Michigan) but the Cougars could easily get through this 3-1. If that happens then BYU probably gets to 11-1 on the season & what do you do with them? As for Nebraska, the Huskers welcome in new HC Mike Riley. I picked Nebraska to win the Big 10 West & this is a GREAT game to see what the Huskers bring to the table. A win is huge here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Virginia is terrible but this game is worth watching because of UCLA’s new starting QB, true frosh Josh Rosen. Widely considered to be the best QB in the Class of 2015, Rosen is the key to UCLA’s success this season. The Bruins essentially have a stacked team & if Rosen comes in & plays to his potential then UCLA goes from a nice top-15 team to arguably the best team in college football! That isn’t hyperbole! This isn’t a huge test for Rosen or UCLA, but it’s a solid game to get his feet wet & work out the kinks. He has 3 games before a road trip to Arizona & Rich Rodriguez! Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game has no national implications and I’m not even sure it’s a big rivalry game, but it is one of those games that will be important for bowl eligibility & seeing just how good each team is. North Carolina has a lot of players back & should be relevant in the ACC Coastal. A win here puts them on the right track & at least has people talking about their division possibilities. For SC, I think it’s just another chance to show SEC’s superiority. It’s not an overally critical game when it comes down to the SEC East but a win here could mean the difference between 7 or 8 wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Purdue is going to be a lot better than they’ve been the last couple of years & I think some of the heat under Darrell Hazell’s seat will be cooled. Purdue has some conference home games they can win to be sure & getting 3 wins out of their OOC schedule is almost a requirement. Marshall on the other hand isn’t an easy team to beat especially in Huntington. Remember that Marshall last year was 13-1 & ended the season in the top-25! They lose a lot on defense & QB Rakeem Cato, but this is still a good football team. A win here for Purdue would be bigger than you’d think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This looks like a throw away game but beware Trojan fans! Remember that the last 3 Arkansas St. HC’s were Hugh Freeze (now at Ole Miss), Gus Malzhan (now at Auburn) & Bryan Harsin (now at Boise St.!). In the last 4 years Ark State is 35-17! They return 15 starters including 9 on offense. The Red Wolves put up good fights against Miami-FL & Tennessee last season so they won’t be wowed by the Coliseum & USC. I don’t think Arkansas St. can escape with the biggest upset of Week 1, but they’ll put up a fight and we’ll get to see how USC responds to that fight. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Iowa St. should be a much improved football team from a season ago when the Cyclones went 2-10 and they should have a decent shot at getting bowl eligible if a few things break their way. Of course, getting a win against Northern Iowa is necessary but remember than NIU came to Ames to open up the season 2013 & Iowa St. suffered a 28-20 loss en route to a 3-9 season. Paul Rhoads is too good of a coach to keep wasting away at Iowa State. It’s a tough place to coach but the Cyclones have a legit shot at starting the season 4-0 & needing just 2 wins in their last 8 to go bowling. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon starting QB Vernon Adams spent the last 2 seasons tearing it up at Eastern Washington so this game is somewhat interesting from that perspective. EWU has been a pretty good team during that time, but they aren’t any match for Oregon. Still, if there is a program that knows Adams, it has to be EWU so it’ll be interesting to see what the coaching staff has in store defensively for Oregon. With that being said, this game should still be a blow out & we’ll get a chance to see what Oregon’s offense looks like in the post Marcus Mariota era. I see 50-60 points ahead for the Quack Attack. Computer Hope

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas St., Auburn, Big Games, Boise St., BYU, Eastern Washington, Iowa St., Louisville, Marshall, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 1, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 BIG XII PREVIEWS and PREDICTIONS

RANK BIG 12 COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: Devastating. TCU averaged 47PPG last season and return 10 starters including Heisman candidate QB Trevone Boykin. The only loss offensively was LT Tayo Fabuluje, but Halapoulvaati Vaitai steps in after being an All-Big XII performer at RT last season. Nine of the projected 11 starters could be all-conference making this offense absolutely ridiculous. Boykin & WR Josh Doctson could be 1st Team All-Americans! RB Aaron Greene also returns after averaging 7.1ypc & rushing for 922yds/9TD in 2014. There simply isn’t a weakness to the offense that I can see. You can make an argument for both Baylor & Ohio St, but in my opinion this will be the most explosive offense in the nation. You knew HC Gary Patterson wasn’t going to come into the Big XII and not win. TCU has arrived & they’ll play with a huge chip after not making the playoffs in 2014. DEFENSE: The Frogs bring back just 5 starters but don’t let that fool you. The D-Line should be outstanding with DEs James McFarland & Terrell Lathan along with DT Davion Pierson. Lathan is a matchup nightmare at 6’5/280lbs while Pierson is a rare DT who can get great pressure on the QB. The LBs take a HUGE hit with losing Paul Dawson & Marcus Mallet. Dawson was a 1st Team All-American & racked up 136 tackles! The secondary also takes on some huge hits with losing S Sam Carter, CB Kevin White & S Chris Hackett! Overall TCU loses 6 of their top-7 tacklers! LB Mike Freeze, S Derrick Kindred & CB Ranthony Texada have some awesome potential & will need to play to it to overcome the defensive losses. It’s Gary Patterson though so you know the defense is going to play well. SCHEDULE: Tougher than it appears. Road games against Minnesota, Texas Tech, Kansas St., Oklahoma St. & Oklahoma! Baylor does have to come to Ft. Worth though. This is a team on a mission. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 9-3
#2 OFFENSE: The offense is INSANE. Baylor returns 9 starters from an offense that scored 48PPG last season! RB Shock Linwood ran for 1252yds/12TD! Backup Johnny Jefferson ran for over 500! WRs Corey Coleman & KD Cannon combined for 122rec/2149yds/19TD! Both return & both averaged more than 17ypc! WR Jay Lee also returns giving Baylor a big guy at 6’3! More devastating? The entire O-line returns intact including 4 senior starters! Coleman & LT Spencer Drango are potential All-Americans. Drango was a 1st Team All-American last season! Amazingly, 10 of Baylor’s projected 11 starters on offense could be 1st Team All-Big XII! The one question on offense is QB. Bryce Petty is with the Jets now so Seth Russell takes over. Russell can play & in Art Briles system, he’ll put up huge numbers. It’s crazy to think Baylor could score 50PPG but they did it in 2013! If Russell catches on fast then look out. DEFENSE: Better than you think. The last 2 seasons Baylor has allowed 24PPG & this is their best defense yet with 9 returning starters! Baylor has 6 players who should be considered for All-Big 12 honors while DT Andrew Billings & DE Shawn Oakman could be All-Americans. At 6’9/290lbs, Oakman could be the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft! DT Beau Blakshear & DE Jamal Palmer also return giving the Bears arguably the best D-Line in college football. The secondary returns all 4 starters as well. S Orion Stewart & CB Xavien Howard are the stars here & Howard is huge for a CB at 6’2. LB Taylor Young racked up 92 tackles last year but Baylor does lose LB Bryce Hager who led the team in tackles. This defense is the best Briles has had. SCHEDULE: OOC is a joke. Baylor gets Texas, Oklahoma & West Virginia at home! They do go on the road to TCU which should be a battle for the conference title. This team is fantastic. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 9-3
#3 OFFENSE: As explosive as TCU’s & Baylor’s offenses might be, Oklahoma’s offense might be the most interesting. New OC Lincoln Riley is a proponent of the “Air Raid” offense that Mike Leach ran at Texas Tech. Riley coached with Leach for quite a while in Lubbock so expect the fireworks to be aplenty. New QB Baker Mayfield went to Texas Tech in 2013 & played under Leach disciple Kliff Kingsbury before transferring into Oklahoma. With confidence to burn, Mayfield is already controlling the offense to an incredibly high level. Now throw in the fact that Oklahoma returns RB Samaje Perine (1713yds/21TD in ’14) & their top-4 receivers including Sterling Shepard (19.0ypc/5TD) & you can begin to see just how crazy the Sooners offense might be in 2015! The Sooners do lose 3 outstanding O-Linemen, but the projected starters have 4 seniors & a junior. Seven guys could be all conference with Shepard & Perine being potential All-Americans! DEFENSE: The unit returns 6 starters after allowing an uncharacteristic 26PPG last year. The Sooners return their top-4 tacklers & 5 of their top-7. There is some incredible talent coming back. CB Zach Sanchez could be an All-American. LBs Dominque Alexander & Eric Striker are as good as they come. LB Jordan Evans & S Ahmad Thomas should also play key roles. Keep an eye on the D-Line. OU suffered some losses & will need NT Jordan Wade & DE DJ Ward to step into holes left by departing players. Seven guys are legit all-Big XII players & OU runs a 3-4. Only West Virginia runs a 3-4 so it’s unusual to see. SCHEDULE: Oklahoma is tricky being #3 here because they have the most talent in the conference. OOC at Tennessee is brutal. They also have road games against Baylor & Oklahoma St.! They get TCU at home but a 10-0 start is very possible with TCU/Baylor to end the season! BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 5-7
#4 OFFENSE: West Virginia brings back 6 starters from an offense that scored 34PPG in 2014. This is somewhat of a mixed bag but I really Dana Holgorsen as a HC & believe in what he’s doing in Morgantown. Gone is QB Clint Trickett, but Trickett’s decision making could be questionable at times. Skyler Howard is the new starter & the smaller stature QB gives the Mountaineers a more cerebral QB who can also be a running threat. WVU also brings back Rushel Shell & Wendell Smallwood as RBs. They do have to replace WRs Kevin White & Mario Alford. Those 2 are huge losses but WVU runs 4 wide & Jordan Thompson & Daikiel Shorts looks good. The O-Line returns 3 starters, but new LT Sylvester Townes could be dynamic. I think Holgorsen is still finding his way, but Rich Rodriguez showed WVU could be a national player & I expect Holgorsen to do the same. DEFENSE: WVU brings back 9 starters including 9 of their top-10 tacklers. DT Shaquille Riddick & LB Wes Tonkery are fairly big losses, but I think OLBs Nick Kwiatkoski & KJ Dillon are primed for big years. WVU’s secondary returns intact. S Karl Joseph is arguably the best safety in football & gives WVU a legit All-American candidate. Dravon Henry is a solid safety as well, while CB Daryl Worley is 6’2! The one question for WVU will be the D-line. They run a 3-4 so the big guys up front will have to pick it up. JUCO transfer Larry Jefferson could be an interesting 3-4DE who can get to the QB. WVU allowed 28PPG last year but should be better which will go along way if they knock that number down to 22-23! SCHEDULE: OOC is weak & they get winnable games at home against OK State, Texas Tech, Texas & Maryland. So what they get TCU, Baylor & Oklahoma on the road!? I think they can win the other Big XII games & finish 4th! I think the defense comes through. BEST CASE: 9-3; WORST CASE: 4-8
#5 OFFENSE: The Red Raiders return 9 starters from an offense that averaged 31PPG last season. This group is probably the most talented & experienced HC Kliff Kingsbury has had to date. QB Patrick Mahomes was solid last year as a true frosh passing for 1500+yds with 16TD to 4INT. His accuracy needs to improve but there is a lot to like. RB DeAndre Jordan also returns. He ran for 1100+yds last season & is also a threat in the passing game. Tech also returns 6 of their top-7 receivers including WRs Jakeem Grant & Devin Lauderdale. Lauderdale averaged 19.0ypc last year! The O-Line returns 4 starters with 3 seniors who could be all-conference & LT Le’Raven Clark could be an All-American. Watch out for frosh JF Thomas who gives Mahomes a huge target at 6’4. I think Texas Tech gets back to scoring massive amount of points & should be closer to 40PPG than 30PPG. DEFENSE: Remember that the defense was solid in 2008-2009 when Tech was 20-6! Those 2 teams averaged 24PPG allowed so in this type of offensive system, the defense doesn’t necessarily have to be like Alabama’s. Tech returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed 41PPG but there is some talent here. DE Pete Robertson is an all-conference player as is CB Justis Nelson. LB Mike Mitchell is a uber-prospect that transferred in from Ohio St. & is 6’3/230lbs at MLB! DE Braden Jackson is also a solid body up front at 6’4/270lbs! True frosh DT Breiden Fehoko was one of the top DL recruits in the nation. The defense is getting better and the move to a 4-3 defense fits their personnel much much better. Expect big improvement. SCHEDULE: OOC at Arkansas is brutal. The Big XII is tough so no easy games. They draw Kansas on the road which is solid, but they also get Oklahoma St. & Kansas St. at home which I think are must win games for them. I love Kingsbury here. BEST CASE: 8-4, WORST CASE 3-9
#6 OFFENSE: QB Mason Rudolph was impressive in his 3 starts last year beating Oklahoma & then beating Washington in the bowl game. The Cowboys bring back 8 starters from a disappointing offense that averaged a VERY uncharacteristic 27.6PPG a season ago, but Rudolph starting the year under center could be the tonic that turns it around. OSU returns their top-3 receivers as well along with 4 O-Linemen. The problem with OSU last season very much stemmed from inept QB play. JW Walsh was injured & Daxx Garman just wasn’t that good. The RB situation wasn’t great either as Desmond Roladn rushed for 3.8ypc! James Washington & Brandon Sheperd are big time receivers. I think new RB Chris Carson will be a huge upgrade & the O-Line is improved. Rudolph is the big player here, but if plays like he did against Oklahoma & Washington last year, OSU will be flying high. DEFENSE: OSU returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed 31+PPG but I think they’ll show big time improvement this season. DE Emmanuel Ogbah returns along with his team-leading 11 sacks a year ago. The entire secondary returns including leading tackler S Jordan Sterns. LBs Seth Jacobs & Ryan Simmons also return. The D-Line should be solid this year. I like Ogbah but DTs Motekiai Maile & Vincent Taylor are big bodies to clog up the middle & DE Jimmy Bean is a load at 6’5/250lbs. Seven of the projected 11 could be all-conference players while Ogbah will get All-American consideration! Expect a huge improvement from a year ago. SCHEDULE: The OOC is a joke & I feel bad ranking Oklahoma St. 6th but they have road games against both West Virginia & Texas Tech so I have them here which is too low. On the other hand the upside here is INCREDIBLE as they draw TCU, Baylor & Oklahoma all in Stillwater. This is a dark horse playoff team! BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 5-7
#7 OFFENSE: Texas brings back 7 starters from an offense that was terrible, averaging 21.4PPG, but I think there is reason to be excited. QB Tyrone Swoopes returns after spending his sophomore season as a starter. Swoopes wasn’t great completing 58% of his passes for 2409yds along with a 13:11 TD to INT ration but the 6’4/250lbs behemoth looks the part & I think will get better. Texas also returns their entire O-Line. RB Jonathan Gray steps in as the starting RB & I think the rushing game will be a bit stronger. UT does lose their top 2 receivers but this is Texas. There is talent everywhere. Have Swoopes improve will go a long way for Texas this season. They’ll be better. DEFENSE: Texas suffers massive losses as the Longhorns lose 6 of their top-7 tacklers. LBs Jordan Hicks & Steve Edmond are HUGE losses. They also lose DT Malcolm Brown who was a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick & DE Cedric Reed. CB Quandre Diggs is also a big loss. It’s a lot but on the other hand there are a lot of positives. Charlie Strong is a helluva defensive coach & Texas has quite a bit back along the D-Line & the secondary. Dylan Haines & Dylan Thomas are solid DBs while Hassan Ridgeway, Nassan Hughes & Shiro Davis will be solid up front. Strong’s top-5 recruits were all on the defensive side of the ball including #1 LB Malik Jefferson who should start immediately. I think the defense will ultimately come together. SCHEDULE: Strong did an outstanding job at Louisville & I’d expect the same in Austin. There is a lot of talent here. Strong made a HUGE jump at L’Ville in year 3. This is just Year 2, but the road isn’t getting any easier for him. The OOC is brutal with Cal & Notre Dame. UT also has road games against TCU, Baylor & West Virginia. Texas also has Oklahoma in Dallas. I think Strong will improve but Year 2 will be rough & still rebuilding. BEST CASE: 8-4. WORST CASE: 2-10!
#8 OFFENSE: A transition year for the Wildcats offensively. Last year KSU averaged 36PPG en route to a 9-4 season & a top-20 finish but QB Jake Waters (3501yds/66%/22TD) is gone along with WRs Tyler Lockett & Curry Sexton who combined to catch 185 balls for 2574yds & 16TD! TE Zach Trujilo who averaged 20.5ypc is also gone. That’s a lot of talent at the skill position to overcome & RB Charles Jones wasn’t a dominant force on the ground although he did score 13TD. QB Jesse Ertz looks to be the starter & he hasn’t attempted a pass at this level. Jones does return at RB & the Wildcats do return 4 starting O-Linemen. If Ertz can acclimate fast & Jones step up his game, the Wildcats can be decent. FB Glenn Gronkowski (of the Gronkowskis!) is fun to watch. He’s a bulldozer back there. KSU hasn’t averaged fewer than 30PPG since 2009. They might do that this year. DEFENSE: Like the offense, the defense returns 6 starters but loses 5 of their top-8 tacklers from last season including LB Jonathan Truman who led the team with 128 tackles. Other big losses are DE Ryan Mueller & NB Randall Evans. Given their positional importance, those are some big losses but there are also some key pieces returning. KSU returns both corners & Danzel McDaniel is an all-conference cover guy & big at 6’1. I think KSU can get pressure too with DEs Jordan Willis & Marquel Bryant along with LB Elijah Lee. S Dante Barnett was 2nd on the team in tackles last season & DT Travis Britz is an interior linemen who can get pressure. KSU runs the nickle package primarily which is almost required in the pass happy Big XII & despite some losses, I like what they are going here. SCHEDULE: Bill Snyder is an OUSTANDING HC so this feels low but the Big XII is stacked & KSU is in transition. A few winnable games are on the road so this year looks tough. BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 4-8
#9 OFFENSE: The Cyclones bring back 8 starters from an offense that scored just 23PPG in 2014. ISU hasn’t had a winning record since 2009, but Paul Rhoads is a helluva coach in my opinion and I think the offense is trending up. Sam Richardson returns at QB & I like what’s he’s doing. He needs to improve his accuracy but Richardson passed for almost 2700yds last season with 18TD. He’s got 4 returning O-Linemen in front of him & some HUGE receivers in 6’6 D’Vario Montgomery, 6’5 Allen Lazard & 6’2 Quenton Bundrage. TE Ben Boesen is 6’5 so teams trying to cover ISU’s passing attack are going to find themselves in trouble especially if Montgomery hits his stride. RB Tyler Brown should be an upgrad too. Lazard has insane amounts of talent & should be a top NFL Draft pick when he comes out in 2017 or 2018. I’d expect some fireworks especially in OC Mark Mangino’s 2nd year. DEFENSE: The D has lost it’s way after having a pretty good run  from 2009-2012. The Cyclones return 6 starters including 4 of their top-6 tacklers to a defense that allowed 39PPG! DE Chris Morrissey is a big loss as is S TJ Mutcherson, but this should be a defense that is improved at every level. ISU’s secondary should be really strong with CBs Sam Richardson, Nigel Tribune & S Kamari Cotton-Moya could be all-conference players. LB Luke Knott was 3rd on the team in tackles & he returns. I’m also excited about the D-Line. DTs Bobby Leath & Demond Tucker are both juco transfers & DE Trent Taylor returns & is a solid talent. This is a lot more like the ISU teams of 2009-2012 where Iowa St. went to 3 bowls in 4 years. SCHEDULE: It’s a tough schedule. They always get Iowa OOC but they also have road games against TX Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, K-State & WVU! They get Kansas & Texas at home which could be wins, but could surprise. BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 2-10
#10 I’ve been keeping up the trend of looking at a team holistically rather than just breaking it down, and with the Big XII, I want to tackle Kansas, the worst program in the conference. What’s interesting about Kansas is what Mark Mangino was able to accomplish in Lawrence. Mangino was 2-10 in his first year at Kansas but had the Jayhawks in a bowl game in year 2 and had Kansas at 12-1 with an Orange Bowl win in Year 6! It’s possible a lot of that had to do with QB Todd Reesing as KU dropped to 13-12 (5-11) after that high water mark of 2007, but it is at least indicative (as in Colorado’s case as well) that Kansas can play competitive football. The Jayhawks might not be able to sustain a top-10 caliber team, but having a program that went to 4 bowls in 6 years is something I think Kansas fans could be happy with. When Mangino had his issues that ultimately got him fired, Kansas was left with a void they haven’t been able to fill. Turner Gil couldn’t figure it out. Neither could Charlie Weis. Now David Beaty is going to give it a shot, but has a HUGE uphill climb as Kansas returns just 7 starters total & the Big XII is as stacked as it’s ever been. What’s interesting here is how immediate anyone can expect a Kansas turnaround. Gil got 2 years which seems ridiculous in retrospect given the state of the program when he took it over. Weis got 3 years although he didn’t fare any better. The big question will be how long Beaty gets as the HC? If it’s 1-2 years then he’s not going to make it because Kansas is looking at a 2-10/3-9 year AT BEST this season and I’m not sure the team takes a big leap in Year 2 or even Year 3. You simply can’t give a coach a 10-year contract and hope for the best (I’m looking at you Indiana), but there needs to be some legitimate signs of improvement. Beaty must recruit like a demon to get this program back on track. BEST CASE: 3-9; WORST CASE: 1-11

 

BIG 12 OVERALL OUTLOOK: This truly is an amazing conference. I think the top-8 teams here really have something to play for & Iowa St. could be a lot better than most people think. Really this is a 3-team race between TCU, Baylor & Oklahoma. I can’t see Oklahoma winning although Kirk Herbstreit has the Sooners winning the Big XII & getting the playoffs! That would be incredible, but to be honest, from a talent standpoint it wouldn’t be all that surprising. That in and of itself is what makes this conference so nuts. Texas & Oklahoma are the two teams that seem head & shoulders above everyone when it comes to talent, but neither team has won an outright Big XII championship since 2010! I think that shows just how good the conference can be. Adding TCU was amazing & you can see how fast Gary Patterson was able to get the Horned Frogs to the top of the conference. What will probably be the most interesting aspect to watch for in the Big XII is what happens with the playoff picture. TCU & Baylor were left out last year and you at least can make an AMAZING argument that TCU was more qualified to get in than Ohio St. who eventually won the championship! This year if a Big XII team finishes 11-1 and gets left out, you can be sure that conference expansion will be a huge discussion as the Big XII will surely have been put on notice that they are being penalized for not having a conference championship game. The big question then will be who joins the conference? There just aren’t that many big time programs that are available. BYU comes to mind, but I’m not sure Boise State is the other option although there isn’t any other choices really when you look at it unless you go UCF or South Florida. Either way, the Big XII is going to have a million storylines this year. It’ll be really interesting to see how the results on the field trigger discussions about the conference off the field. In any case, the conference is going to be incredible to watch in 2015!

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Baylor, Big XII, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Predictions, Previews, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia | Leave a comment

2014 NCAA WEEK 15 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
Alabama isn’t Arkansas, but after watching Missouri a few times this season & especially after watching the Tigers play Arkansas, I’m really interested to see Mizzou DEs Shane Ray & Markus Golden put pressure on Blake Sims. Clearly the Tide has a lot more offensive talent than Arkansas, but it’ll be interesting to see if Missouri’s pass rush can make Alabama a little bit nervous. That is the one matchup that I’m very interested to see although Missouri’s defense is extremely underrated & is actually one of the better units in the nation. The bigger picture I suppose is what happens if Missouri wins? Can an SEC champion who lost to Indiana & was beaten by Georgia 34-0 get in? Can a 2-loss non-SEC Champion Alabam a team?
What’s really interesting to me is just how unfamiliar these teams are with one another. Jimbo Fisher took over the FSU program in 2010 & the Seminoles resurgence probably didn’t take place fully until 2012 when FSU went 12-2, won the ACC & beat N.Illinois in the Orange Bowl. Oddly enough, FSU beat Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game 21-15. A close game. Paul Johnson’s 1st year at GT was 2008. In 2008 GT beat FSU 31-28. In 2009 GT beat FSU 49-44 in Tallahassee. In 2010 & 2011 the two teams didn’t meet but FSU did win the 2012 ACC Championship game. For the last 2 seasons (2013-2014) they haven’t played each other. So Johnson & Fisher have only met once. Anything could happen here.
It’s really amazing when you think about what has happened at Ohio St. this season. Braxton Miller was a leading Heisman candidate before the season began. He was injured before the Buckeyes took the field against Navy. JT Barrett then became a Heisman candidate in leading Ohio St. to an 11-1 record & the B1G East championship. He went down last week against Michigan. Now Cardale Jones has to step in against an excellent Wisconsin team that hasn’t lost since October 4th. Ohio St. has a real chance to get into the playoffs should they beat Wisconsin. They rank 5th in the playoff rankings, but I wouldn’t bet against Melvin Gordon & the Badgers. They could force their way into the discussion.
It’s amazing to think how much emphasis the selection committee is putting on games against Minnesota & Kansas State. There is nothing Baylor can do about the Minnesota game, but the committee can no longer place TCU ahead of Baylor based on the Kansas St. win if the Bears take care of business this weekend & handle the Wildcats. TCU’s non-conference slate was Samford, SMU & Minnesota. Baylor’s non-conference slate was SMU, Northwestern St. & Buffalo. At this point the committee thinks a win over Minnesota is more important than a win over Buffalo AND the fact that Baylor HAS ALREADY BEATEN TCU! I’m not a fan of either team, but doesn’t the committee lose credibility with this logic?
It’s tough being Arizona in this one. I think it’s entirely too difficult to beat a great team twice in one season. Arizona has already gone into Eugene & beaten Oregon so I think the chances of them beating the Ducks twice is slim to none. You could argue that Arizona should have lost that game, but if they lose that game they probably don’t win the Pac 12 South. The first time around Arizona’s rush defense played out of their minds which limited Oregon’s offensive ability. I’m not sure that is going to happen a second time around because it wasn’t like Arizona had an incredible rush defense the entire year. I’d expect Oregon to run better this time around which probably means Oregon should have no trouble winning.
Boise St. has been an amazing story. The Broncos have a solid football tradition but it really did seem like HC Chris Petersen was the HC to really elevate Boise St. to national prominence. Everyone sort of though Boise St. would struggle when Dan Hawkins left to take over the job in Colorado. Boise actually got better. This past year was an end to an era as Petersen left to take the Washington gig. Bryan Harsin returned to his alma mater & in his first season has the Broncos 10-2 & playing for a MWC Championship. Boise has won 7 straight games & has already beaten Fresno St. 37-27 earlier. The Bulldogs are 6-6 but those 6 losses were tough. I’d expect a really tough game but how can you not look at the sidelines & wish to see Chris Petersen going up against Pat Hill?
I don’t see how this will be much of a game but there is some precedent for Iowa St. winning big games at odd times. Back in 2011 Oklahoma St. all but was gearing up for a legitimate shot at playing for a national championship until they rolled into Ames on November 18th & lost 37-31 which completely destroyed the Cowboys season. In 2009 Iowa St. went into Lincoln & beat a ranked Nebraska team 9-7. Obviously this hasn’t happened in recent season & Iowa St. is 2-9 on the year so it seems unlikely but you never really know I guess. An Iowa St. win would certainly make the playoff race a lot more interesting especially if Baylor & Ohio St. lost. With everything to play for I’d expect TCU to roll big in this one.
The MAC Championship! It feels like a broken record at this point but Northern Illinois flat out runs the MAC West division. Another year, another season where the Huskies go 10-2 & are favored to win yet another MAC championship. You would think replacing a player like QB Jordan Lynch would be difficult but 6’1/215lbs sophomore Drew Hare did a helluva job impersonating Lynch. Hare threw for 1879yds/15TD to only 1 pick while rushing for 790yds/7TD! Bowling Green will certainly have their hands full. The Falcons finished the year 7-5 including 3 conference losses. They backed their way into the MAC East title & have actually lost 2 straight games heading into this one. You have to like NIU in this one.
The CUSA championship game. This game took on a little bit less luster with Marshall losing to Western Kentucky last week. The Herd winds up 11-1 instead of a perfect 12-0! Marshall has actually been really fun to watch this season. QB Rakeem Cato gets a lot of attention but RBs Devon Johnson & Steward Butler were OUTSTANDING this season & led Marshall to having one of the best rushing attacks in the country. Louisiana Tech is an interesting opponent because they too were an offensive juggernaut this season although in a more balanced way. The Cajuns are a couple of close calls away from being 10-2 so they aren’t a pushover. This will be a fun game between two teams that light up the scoreboard.
BEDLAM! The game doesn’t have the same urgency as it has in past seasons with Oklahoma & Oklahoma St. taking a backseat to TCU, Baylor, Kansas St. & to a certain extent West Virginia this season in the Big XII! How crazy is that to write!? Still, Oklahoma St. enters the game 5-6 needing a victory in their last game against 8-3 Oklahoma to become bowl eligible. I think the win here is important for the Sooners as well because it would give them an opportunity to get to 10 wins should they win their bowl game. Going 10-3 is a lot better than 9-4. Oklahoma has won 10 of the last 11 meetings & that probably won’t change this year. The last time Oklahoma St. missed a bowl was 2005, Mike Gundy’s first season.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona, Baylor, Big Games, Boise St., Bowling Green, Florida St., Fresno St., Georgia Tech, Iowa St., Kansas St., Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Missouri, Must See Games, N. Illinois, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, TCU, Week 15, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

BIG 12 OUTLOOK WITH 7 WEEKS LEFT

The Big 12 got a lot more interesting last week when West Virginia got the better of Baylor in Morgantown & Kansas St. pulled off a stunner by beating Oklahoma in front of the Sooner faithful. What it ensured is that the Big XII can’t count on an unbeaten team forcing their way into the college football player. What might be even a bit scarier is that Big XII can’t rely on the power of the Oklahoma brand commanding respect even with a loss. Now that the Sooners have 2 losses, the Big XII might be completely shut out of the playoffs unless Baylor, Kansas St. or TCU can run the table and get to 11-1 with significant style points. I’m really pulling for West Virginia to come out of the Big 12. What’s amazing here is that if WVU does a great job and gets to 10-2 & wins the Big XII, they probably won’t make the playoffs, but there is a significant chance that coaching openings at Florida, Michigan & Miami-FL could open up. If that happens, could Holgorsen (assuming WVU does in fact finish 10-2 or even 11-2) potentially leave? If WVU sucks then this is probably not a question, but it’s worth contemplating if some universities think Holgorsen’s star is on the rise, which it is.

That’s all speculation of course. The real stories will be played out in the next 7 weeks, and this conference has a story to tell!

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
5-1 The win over Oklahoma changes everything but now Kansas St. has to hope that the loss to Auburn (in Manhattan by the way) has to be far enough removed for them to make a splash nationally. I think talking about the Big XII title or playoff potential is premature for Kansas State. Let’s remember that they still have road games against Baylor, TCU & West Virginia. Those are all likely losses which means the best K-State can do is finish 8-4 (6-3), but if they can beat Oklahoma in Norman, who is to say they can’t keep winning on the road? If Kansas St. beats Texas & Oklahoma St. at home they’ll move to 7-1 before heading to Ft. Worth with a date with TCU. I think we can start to take K-State seriously if they can upend the Horned Frogs.
5-2 Can West Virginia win the Big XII? It’s not completely out of the question. If the Mountaineers can beat Baylor in Morgantown, then they are a pretty good bet to beat any other conference team at Mountaineer Field. Texas & Iowa St. simply aren’t that good meaning that this weekends game against Oklahoma St. in Stillwater could make all the difference. Unlike Kansas St. who has road games against Baylor, TCU & West Virginia, the Mountaineers play TCU & Kansas St. at home. Where it gets interesting for WVU is if they win out. If that happens they are 10-2 & Big XII champions. They’d need a lot of help getting into the playoffs but the Big XII is right there with the Pac 12 behind the ACC. If SEC West can cannibalize itself & the Big 10 gets a 2-loss team, West Virginia could be in the Final 4!
6-1 The loss to West Virginia hurts but let’s face it, if you were to pick a team most likely to lose a couple of conference games, it probably would be WVU so the loss might not hurt Baylor as bad as it may sound. The best team in the Big XII might very well be TCU & the Bears hold the tiebreaker over the Frogs! Baylor still has just one loss so winning out puts them at 11-1 & in the playoff picture & most likely in the playoffs. That road is a bit tricky because of a road date against Oklahoma, but if Baylor can survive Norman then the loss to WVU might not matter too much. It’s definitely important for Baylor to be West Virginia fans at this point. They need WVU to be good but not too good. WVU losing to TCU would be good. If West Virginia finishes 9-3 to Baylor’s 11-3, it would do Baylor good.
5-2 To be fair to Oklahoma St., they can argue they are a pretty darn good football team at 5-2 with their only losses coming against 7-0 Florida St. & 5-1 TCU. On the other hand, TCU might have exposed the Cowboys for what they are which is a very inexperienced football team. Remember that OSU went 10-3 in 2013 & only had 4 returning starters! They should have been some period of reloading in Stillwater. Even though the Cowboys have just one conference loss, they need to be thinking about bowl eligibility. Oklahoma St.’s remaining schedule is: West Virginia, at Kansas St., bye, Texas, at Baylor, bye, at Oklahoma. Let’s assume road trips to Austin, Waco & Norman are losses. That makes them 5-5 with 2 home games against West Virginia & Texas. Getting to 6-6 is no guarantee for Mike Gundy & his troops.
5-1 The loss to Baylor HURTS but the Frogs got a huge lift from West Virginia when the Mountaineers knocked off the Bears. If TCU wins out & Baylor loses at Oklahoma, TCU will be 11-1 and Big XII champions! Their only loss will have come on a wild 61-58 loss to a team that will likely finish the season out 10-2. The only roadblock for TCU is back-to-back games against West Virginia & Kansas St. on October 25th & November 1st respectively. The game against WVU is in Morgantown which Baylor just learned isn’t an easy place to play. With Kansas & Iowa St. on the schedule, the bowl game isn’t a problem, but one of the most remarkable stories of the year will be if TCU wins out & gets to the playoffs. This is a team that was 4-8 last season & just 2-7 in Big XII play. That’s a helluva turnaround.
5-2 The loss to Kansas St. in Norman basically destroyed any hope Oklahoma had of making the playoffs. With losses to both Kansas St. & TCU, Oklahoma needs massive help to win the Big XII & even with a conference championship, I’m not sure a 10-2 Oklahoma squad would get into the playoffs over an 11-1 Ole Miss or 11-1 Alabama squad if Mississippi St. finished 13-0. The interesting part is that Oklahoma’s tough schedule is finished. They do have Baylor remaining but the Sooners get them in Norman. If OU can hold serve at home they should finish 10-2. They would need TCU & K-State to lose 3 conference games which seems impossible but who knows? Would anyone really be surprised if OU didn’t wind up 11-2 with a bowl victory? They’d be ranked in the top 6-7 but somehow I think Sooner Nation would be disappointed.
3-4 A lost season for Charlie Strong in his first year in Austin. The Longhorns are floundering at 3-4 and at best they can hope for a potential bowl appearance. The problem with that is finding 3 wins in their last 5 games. Texas still has road games against Kansas St., Texas Tech & Oklahoma State. Assuming 2 of those games are losses that would give Texas 6 losses meaning they’d have to win their remaining home games against West Virginia & TCU to get to 6-6 & into the postseason. The best aspect to Texas at this point is watching the progression of the players who will return in 2015 & watching how effectively Strong can recruit at Texas. This isn’t the same Texas program that Mack Brown took over. TCU is in the Big XII now. Baylor has Art Briles & Texas A&M is now in the SEC. It’s still Texas, but life is a bit harder.
3-4 Last season Texas Tech started off 7-0. It’s amazing what a soft schedule will do for you! Texas Tech was able to leverage that easy slate last year to a bowl game they won over Arizona St. to finish 8-5 in HC Kliff Kingsbury’s first year in Lubbock. He might not be so lucky this year. The Red Raiders need 3 more wins to get bowl eligible they have TCU, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa St. & Baylor left on the schedule! Iowa St. is in Ames so that might not be an easy game. Assuming Texas Tech gets wins over Texas & Iowa St., they’d still need to beat one of the TCU, Oklahoma & Baylor. I don’t see it happening. This team is at best 5-7 and at worst 3-9. I think a major aspect to look for the last few games is the continued progression of QB Davis Webb & I’d keep an eye on the running game which has been very good. Maybe Texas Tech can play spoiler?
2-5 This is a really difficult time for Iowa State. I think Paul Rhoads is a good coach but if Iowa St. can’t get wins against Kansas (in Lawrence) & Texas Tech (in Ames) then it’s possible the Cyclones finish the season 2-10 which is a significant step back in the Paul Rhoads era. There was some thought that Rhoads might have bought himself some time by hiring former Kansas HC Mark Mangino as the new OC and while Iowa St.’s offense does have improved numbers, the defense has been abysmal which has resulted in losses. The remainder of the season isn’t easy at best this team finishes 4-8. Iowa St. isn’t quite in the same category as Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky & Duke in regards to being basketball schools trying to win at football (Duke is actually doing it!) but this has to be a brutally tough coaching gig.
2-5 Speaking of difficult coaching jobs, Kansas has already fired Charlie Weis! Kansas’ remaining schedule isn’t favorable. They have road games against Baylor, Oklahoma & Kansas State! Those are 3 losses right there moving them to 2-8. They get TCU at home which makes them 2-9 meaning all that separates them from a double-digit loss season is a home date against Iowa State! If you are wondering what to watch for from the Jayhawks going forward then I’d just look to see if they can get that Iowa State win which would at least match last year’s win total. The last time Kansas has had more than 3 wins in a season was back in 2009 which was Mark Mangino’s last season as HC! Maybe getting rid of Mangino wasn’t such a good idea in the first place!?

October 22, 2014 Posted by | Baylor, Big XII, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Playoffs, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia | Leave a comment