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2017 BIG 10 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#65 – Chris Ash – Rutgers

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

#64 – David Beaty – Kansas

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

#63 – Barry Odom – Missouri

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

#62 – Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia

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

#61 – Lovie Smith – Illinois

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

#60 – Dino Babers – Syracuse

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

#59 – Justin Wilcox – California

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

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

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

#58 – Tom Allen – Indiana

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

#57 – D.J. Durkin – Maryland

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

#56 – Ed Orgeron – LSU

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

#55 – Matt Campbell – Iowa State

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

#54 – Matt Rhule – Baylor

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

#53 – Will Muschamp – South Carolina

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

#52 – Jeff Brohm – Purdue

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

#51 – Steve Addazio – Boston College

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

#50 – Rich Rodriguez – Arizona

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

May 14, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arizona, Baylor, Big 10, Big XII, Boston College, California, Coaching, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa St., Kansas, LSU, Maryland, Missouri, Pac 12, Purdue, Rankings, Rutgers, SEC, South Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia | 5 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

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

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

2016 PRESEASON ALL-BIG 10 TEAMS

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

2ND TEAM OFFENSE

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

3RD TEAM OFFENSE

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

4TH TEAM OFFENSE

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

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

2ND TEAM DEFENSE

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

3RD TEAM DEFENSE

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

4TH TEAM DEFENSE

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

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

2015 NCAA WEEK 12 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope More separation in store for the Big XII. I think this is the biggest game of the week because I’m still not sold on Oklahoma State. They struggled last week against Iowa St., and maybe TCU isn’t as good as we think. The Cowboys non-conference schedule was terrible so this game will go a long way to proving some legitimacy for them. The Big XII’s best hope for a playoff spot is Oklahoma or Oklahoma St., so the conference is certainly hoping for a Cowboys victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope TCU barely got by Kansas last week 23-17 & Trevone Boykin is beat up. WR Josh Doctson is hurting as well so the Frogs are at a severe disadvantage. Making matters worse is that Oklahoma might be the hottest team in football & is playing better than anyone in the nation not named Alabama. I’m on board with the Sooners & I think nothing could potentially be better than an Alabama/Oklahoma national championship. I think the Sooners roll! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m really excited to see how Michigan St.’s defense attacks Ohio St. & JT Barrett. I love Spartan LB Riley Bullough. LBs Darien Harris & Jon Reschke are going to be responsible for shutting down Ezekiel Elliott & keeping Barrett contained. Michigan St. will pressure with Malik McDowell & Shilique Calhoun off the edges. Elliott & Barrett wore the Spartans out last year in Ohio St.’s 49-37 win in East Lansing. I hope Michigan St. puts up a better fight in 2015. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Penn St. suffers from what Mississippi St. suffers. They look like a solid football team at 7-3. Penn St.’s losses have come on the road against Temple, Ohio St. & Northwestern. It’s all acceptable, but then you look at the wins. Their best win might be San Diego St. or Indiana. Michigan can’t overlook Penn St. though. The Lions can get after it on defense, they are playing at home & Michigan has struggled quite a bit lately against Minnesota & Indiana. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game doesn’t have the national appeal as the above games do, but it’s a tremendous game & I can’t wait to see it. USC has won 4 straight & has a chance to win the Pac 12 South if they win out. They’ve been playing MUCH better now that the coaching drama is behind them. Oregon has won 4 straight games & is looking like the best team in the Pac 12 with a healthy Vernon Adams. If the Ducks win out & Stanford loses to Cal, Oregon wins the Pac 12 North. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is a tough one. Both teams enter the game at 8-2 with their 2 losses being against highly ranked teams. Both lost to Iowa. Northwestern also lost to Michigan while Wisconsin also lost to Alabama. Corey Clement is questionable, but if he plays then I think this game is almost impossible for Northwestern to win. If he doesn’t then the Wildcats could win another ugly game. This game ultimately determines who is the 2nd best team in the Big 10 West. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A win over Mississippi St. this week would give Arkansas their 5th straight win & their 6th win in their last 7 games. Those wins include contests at Tennessee, v. Auburn, at Ole Miss, at LSU and then v. Mississippi State! The one loss? In Tuscaloosa against the Tide! Like last year, Arkansas has needed time to warm up, but if they could start the season on fire, we might be talking playoffs. At this minute Arkansas could be the 3rd best team in the nation! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both teams need this win badly. LSU is coming off 2 straight losses. There is quiet talk the Tigers have been overrated all season long & too much credence given to their 7-point win over Florida. Ole Miss needs the win to keep the possibility of finishing the year with 10 wins. Les Miles might have the most to lose here. Lose this game & it’s a real possibility LSU finishes 8-4 after starting 8-0! I get the bizarre feeling that Miles’ seat could get extremely hot. Computer Hope
Computer Hope On the surface I don’t think North Carolina should be all that worried about Virginia Tech. The Hokies are having a down year and at 5-5, they don’t look so hot. On the other hand, this the final home game for outgoing HC Frank Beamer who has made Virginia Tech football what it is. It’s also an opportunity for the Hokies to get bowl eligible in Beamer’s last season. There will be TREMENDOUS emotion in Lane Stadium & Blacksburg is never an easy place to win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Stanford has won The Big Game for the past 5 seasons. I don’t expect that to change this season, but you never know. The Bears aren’t awful & this is a must win for Stanford if it wants to win the Pac 12 North. Remember a Stanford loss combined with an Oregon win gives the Ducks the keys to the North. The loss to Oregon last week was lethal for the Cardinal, but keep in mind that this team still has the opportunity to finish with a 12-2 record if it wins out. Computer Hope
Computer Hope After starting the season 6-0 with great wins over Michigan & Oregon, the Utes have come back down to earth going 2-2 in their last 4. Amazingly enough, they need help to win the Pac 12 North as they do not own the tiebreaker with USC. The good news is that USC plays Oregon in Eugene this week so if Utah doesn’t let down, they could/should win the South. Like Stanford last week, Utah’s loss destroyed any hope for a playoff appearance but they could still win 12. Computer Hope
Computer Hope How is this for AAC drama!? This is actually a must win for Temple. The Owls losing to South Florida last week opens up the AAC East as another Temple loss would force them into a tie with USF who holds the tirebreaker over Temple! Temple’s amazing season wouldn’t even result in a division title! Memphis on the other hand is playing spoiler. They can’t win the AAC West, but they can do their part to ensure Temple doesn’t win the East. Very interesting. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Last week’s 28-7 win over Wake Forest was dominant, but the Big XII is moving in fast on the Irish in the college football playoff poll, so now more than ever the Irish need some style points. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be many to be had in Fenway as the Irish probably beat BC but it’ll be close. The Eagles can play defense so the Irish cannot overlook them to next week’s game against Stanford. Notre Dame needs a little help to make the playoffs. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Purdue is 0-4 on the road & 2-8 overall so you might think Iowa doesn’t have too much to worry about this weekend, but I’d be cautious. The Boilermakers can put a scare into you & they can catch lightning in a bottle (ask Nebraska). The Boilermakers have played Wisconsin, Michigan St. & Northwestern tough on the road. Iowa is no different so they’ll need to be ready in case Lady Luck decides to shine on Purdue. Iowa should win but this could be close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope HUGE TRAP game for Houston. The Cougars come into this game at 10-0 & next week they play their season finale at home against Navy which will decide the AAC-West. Last week Houston barely escaped Memphis 35-34 & the week prior they barely escaped Cincinnati 33-30. Oddly enough, UConn might be the best defensive team Houston has played so far & HC Bob Diaco will have the boys fired up. UConn was on bye last week too. Upset alert!!!!!! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Duel in the Desert! I love intrastate rivalry games like this. I think both of these teams are disappointed in their seasons. For the Sun Devils they need one more win to get bowl eligible & this is their last home game. Arizona is bowl eligible at 6-5 but a 7-5/6-6 season has to be disappointing & if Rich Rodriguez bolts for Miami-FL or Virginia Tech, the program will likely be set back a few years. I hope RichRod sticks around. He makes the Pac 12 stronger. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The MAC SPECIAL! Bowling Green at 8-2 cannot lose the MAC East. They are 6-0 in conference. On the other hand, Toledo is fighting for their lives to win the MAC West. A win here gives the Rockets a 6-1 record but the loss to Northern Illinois is killer as they lose the tiebreaker! What’s crazy about Toledo is that the NIU loss is likely to cost them the MAC West, but it also cost them a perfect season. Tough to go 11-1 & have nothing to show for it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I have the Vols ranked #14 in my latest power poll. This week’s game against Missouri should be a good test of that ranking. If my ranking is legit, then UT shouldn’t have any issues rolling over a Mizzou squad that is 1-5 in the SEC. On the other hand, Columbia is an extremely volatile place right now with the racial narrative that is taking place. I think Tennessee is a really good football team. I’d love to see them put in work and finish the season 9-4. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both Maryland & Indiana are 0-6 in the Big 10 this season. This isn’t a game that will get a lot of buzz but I still like it. For Maryland it’s their last chance to get a home win. That’s not great but it’s something to build on. For the Hoosiers, it might be their best chance to get that elusive 6th win to become bowl eligible. If Indiana doesn’t get it this week then they’ll need a road win over rival Purdue which seems unlikely. A loss here definitely warms up Kevin Wilson’s seat. Computer Hope

November 19, 2015 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Big Games, Boston College, Bowling Green, California, Connecticut, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., Missouri, Must See Games, NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Purdue, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Tennessee, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Week 12, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 5 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope HUGE GAME!!!! The last time Alabama was completely out of the national championship picture was 2010 when they were 7-2 after 9 games. The Tide could be 3-2 after 5 this year if they lose to the Bulldogs! How amazing is that? I think the key to this game will be UGA QB Greyson Lambert. Georgia leans heavily on RB Nick Chubb (rightfully so) & it’ll be interesting to see if Lambert can carry the team with Alabama & Nick Saban take away part of the offense & force the Bulldogs to go through the air. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is such an important game for both squads. The Georgia Tech win looks a lot worse now that they’ve lost to Duke and this is really the only tough road game the Irish will have until the season finale at Stanford. The schedule is even more dire for Clemson who really doesn’t have a tough contest outside of ND & Florida St., both home games. Both teams are respected to be sure. The Irish are #6 while Clemson is #12, but as the season wears on, SOS plays a role which means this game is vital to both squads. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’ve been saying it for the past couple of weeks, Texas Tech is for real. They should have won last week against TCU & now they get an opportunity to salve those wounds with a road win over Baylor! I’d expect this game to be a lot like Texas Tech/TCU so get ready for some fireworks! I think a huge part of this game will be pressure because of Baylor’s defensive line. The Bears rank 32nd in the nation in sacks while Texas Tech ranks 3rd in the nation in sacks allowed. If those rankings hold then look out. The Big XII is nuts! Computer Hope
Computer Hope With so much talk about Northwestern, Michigan St., Michigan & Ohio St., these 2 teams are flying somewhat under the radar but Wisconsin is 3-0 since losing to Alabama having outscored their opponents 114-3! Iowa has quietly put together a 4-0 start with 2 impressive wins over Iowa St. & Pittsburgh. These teams are practically mirror images statistically. A couple of things to watch is the QB battle between Joel Stave & CJ Beathard & the DE/OLB battle between Joe Schobert & Nate Meier. Those are key. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Big XII has to be really careful here because last season they ended up missing the playoffs because you could argue the conference was too good with a couple of teams at the top that deserved to be there. West Virginia has been playing like their polar opposite with an amazing defense! There isn’t a weak team in the Big XII at this point outside of Kansas, but the key here is that whoever wins needs to keep carrying that momentum. Baker Mayfield is key in this game. If he has a bad game, OU is done. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I thought Jim McElwain would make an impact in Gainesville, but the coach has already exceeded expectations with two key divisional wins on the road at Kentucky & then at home against Tennessee. Ole Miss should come away with an easy win here despite historical trends, but a couple of interesting things to watch. Ole Miss didn’t handle being the hunted all that well last season & that Vandy win was uninspiring. Florida so far is 3-0 in close games. Regression is coming possibly but good teams get lucky. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Great matchup between an incredible D-Line in Texas A&M going up against a veteran SEC starter in Dak Prescott! Prescott is a Heisman candidate that can pad his resume with a big road win against the Aggies. A&M on the other hand rank #2 in the nation in sacks & #4 in the nation in tackles for loss. Last year Mississippi St. came away with a 48-31 win, but in Starkville. This is a tremendous game being overshadowed a bit by UGA/Bama, but the winner here probably moves into the top-10 nationally. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Gophers have gone 3-0 since losing the opener to TCU. On one hand that is great because Minnesota lost that opener by 7 & most people have TCU in the top-5 so how good is Minnesota? On the other hand, those 3 wins have come by a combined 9 points against Colorado St., Ohio & Kent St.! How good is Minnesota?! Regardless, this will be a tough game for Northwestern as Jerry Kill is an OUTSTANDING HC & will have the Gophers ready. I think Northwestern rebounds big after the tough Ball St. victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure Butch Jones deserves to be on the hot seat, but the storm clouds are aligning in such a manner that Arkansas looks primed to get a victory in Neyland on Saturday. UT is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Florida while Arkansas came THIS CLOSE to beating Texas A&M. The Razorbacks are nowhere near a 1-3 team in my opinion. I think they were a dark horse pick to win the SEC before the season began so that is the talent you are looking at, but UT starting 2-3 with UGA up next? UT needs this one bad! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Maryland sucks so maybe this isn’t an ideal game to be looking at, but it’s far more intriguing for a couple of reasons than at first glance. The first is that Michigan isn’t sneaking up on anyone now. The 7pt loss to Utah looks amazing & the Wolverines just pasted a BYU team 31-0 that UCLA beat by just a single point. The 2nd reason is watching how Michigan handles being the hunted. With the way the season is playing out, Michigan could be 10-1 when Ohio St. comes to town. Can you imagine Harbaugh in that game!? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arizona got waxed by UCLA last week, but this game could be instructive if we wind up with a UCLA/Stanford Pac 12 championship game which seems likely at the moment. Stanford has really turned it on after losing to Northwestern, but their defense has shown the ability to give up some points which could work in Arizona’s favor. Also worth noting is the play of Stanford’s offense. If they show up like they did in Evanston, then this is a game Arizona could easily come away with a win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope So far Texas stinks. They are 1-3 with their only win coming against Rice. They’ve even lost back-to-back home games against Oklahoma St. & California! However, this game could get interesting. Texas still has more talent than any team in the Big XII. At some point that talent has to show up. Texas BARELY lost to Cal & OK State so if you believe in those teams then maybe the Horns aren’t that bad. Note also that TCU’s defense has been putrid this season & maybe, just maybe Texas could find some magic here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boston College is a helluva team & HC Steve Addazio is fantastic! I’m not sure why Addazio isn’t at a bigger school but he’s going to make waves on Chestnut Hill. I think BC’s 14-0 loss to Florida St. was a warning shot. This team can play. They are gritty. They run the ball & they play outstanding defense. Duke has played extremely well but if BC can get a win here, their toughest game remaining is at Clemson. I think BC could be a player in the Atlantic & they potentially have the team to make a run at 10-2/9-3. Computer Hope
Computer Hope These games haven’t been blow outs. In 2011, Ohio St. won 34-20. In 2012 it was 52-49. Two years ago it was 42-14 & last year it was 42-27. Granted, Indiana hasn’t beaten Ohio St. since 1988, but the Hoosiers are better this year than they’ve been in a very long time. Nate Sudfeld is healthy & Jordan Howard is running the ball like Tevin Coleman never left. The Buckeyes have been less than inspiring this season & the game is in Bloomington. It would be foolish to call for an IU victory but this one could be close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope So far the season has been somewhat disappointing for Arizona State, but you can argue for ASU the same as you can argue for Tennessee. The Sun Devils have lost to Texas A&M & USC & if you believe those teams could potentially be top-10 programs, then how bad can ASU be? The problem with Arizona St. to this point is giving up big passing plays on defense. They are getting after it defensively. If they can force Josh Rosen into a bad game & Mike Bercovici plays well, then ASU could easily get a win here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Pittsburgh was a sleeper team for me at the beginning of the season so them losing at Iowa a couple of weeks ago hurt although that loss looks pretty darn good if the Hawkeyes win in Madison this weekend! The James Connor loss hurts but Qadree Ollison has been outstanding. This is still the same PITT team at the beginning of the year & the ACC Coastal is wide open. Brenden Motley has been great for the Hokie since Ohio St., but the Panthers can get after the QB. This is HUGE game in the ACC Coastal. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The problem with the ACC is that the Coastal teams simply don’t play up to expectation. There is no reason why North Carolina, Miami-FL, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech & Virginia Tech shouldn’t be top-25 schools, but instead we are stuck with Duke for crying out loud! It makes no sense. UNC/GT is a legitimate game but GT is on a 2-game losing streak & North Carolina lost to a putrid South Carolina squad on opening weekend. Given their schedule UNC is a huge threat to win the Coastal, but can they beat the Jackets? Computer Hope
Computer Hope If you were to ask me which two teams I follow the least among the Big 5, I’d definitely say Kansas St. would be one of them and potentially Oklahoma St. would be up there. The Wildcats are 3-0 & the Cowboys are 4-0 so this game is probably a bigger deal than I’m giving it credit for here, but to be honest, I still think Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor & West Virginia are ahead of them. This just goes to show you the depth of the Big XII. Everyone is talking SEC & Pac 12 as the best conference, but maybe not. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think it’s cool when the service academies get together & play! Air Force is coming into the game 2-1 coming off a loss at Michigan St. that was closer than expected in my opinion. Navy is 3-0 with Keenan Reynolds & Chris Swain running out of their minds. This should be an amazing game if you like option/running football. Air Force ranks #2 in the nation in rushing offense while Navy ranks #3! If anything, tune in for Keenan Reynolds. The guy is a special talent & if you haven’t seen him, it’s worth the 3 hours. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m going to try to start adding a MAC game per week because the MAC is AWESOME! This week it’s Toledo/Ball State! Toledo simply doesn’t give a rip! Arkansas? Check! Iowa St.? Check! I think the Rockets are applying to join the Big 10 this week! Ball St. took Northwestern to the brink last week & has a road game against Texas A&M under their belt! They’ve faced some stiff competition. I’d expect the Rockets to win here but if Ball St. RB Darian Green gets going, he might be impossible to stop! Computer Hope

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Air Force, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona St., Arkansas, Ball St., Baylor, Big Games, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Must See Games, Navy, NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, Texas Tech, Toledo, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Week 5, West Virginia, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 BIG 10 PREVIEW and PREDICTIONS

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

2014 NCAA WEEK 13 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

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

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

2014 NCAA WEEK 12 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
This is the biggest game of the year thus far & the SEC West championship is basically on the line. A win by Mississippi St. shuts the door on everyone else in the conference. Even if the Bulldogs lose at home to Ole Miss in the final week of the season, they’ll still win the West. A win by the Tide opens up all sorts of possibilities. An Alabama wins opens up the possibility of a 4-way tie for 1st in the West if Alabama loses at home to Auburn. If you assume the Tide win at home after beating Mississippi St., then a win here locks up the division for Alabama. This is a big game for Dak Prescott too. A loss here means he’d lose the Heisman to Marcus Mariota. A win here & he’s still in the race.
This is Florida’s St.’s last real test if you believe they’ll win out in Tallahassee against Boston College & Florida in the final 2 weeks of the season. Miami-FL isn’t a bad football team. They are 6-3 but their 3 losses have come on the road to Nebraska, Louisville & Georgia Tech. That trio has a combined record of 23-6. The Canes are 5-0 at home & on a 3-game winning streak. I’m trying to figure out ways for Miami to deal the upset & really they’ll need to play extreme ball controlled offense behind RB Duke Johnson. If Miami can avoid the turnovers & Johnson has a huge day then Miami should be able to stay close where anything could happen. Then again, lots of teams this year have played FSU close. They’ve all lost.
The battle for the B1G West! Minnesota could still play a role but their last 3 games come against Ohio St., Wisconsin & Nebraska so let’s assume the Gophers are out. This is actually a really cool game highlighted by two RBs who should be Heisman candidates. Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin has 1501yds/7.6ypc/19TD in his 9 games while Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah has racked up 1250yds/6.7ypc/17TD in his 9 games. Both teams have really good rush defenses as well so it will be tough sledding for both squads. What I like most about this game is that I think either team could potentially upset Ohio St. in the B1G Championship game although I’m not sure if Wisconsin or Nebraska could get into the playoffs.
This game is overshadowed a bit by MS State/Alabama, but there is a lot on the line here. Auburn has to keep winning to hold out any hope for an SEC West championship. Georgia is in an entirely different conundrum. If they can beat Auburn they’ll wind up 6-2 in the East which means any Missouri loss gives the Dawgs the East title. On the other hand, a loss by Georgia means that they’ll need Missouri to lose 2 of their last 3 just to get both teams to 5-3. UGA beat Mizzou 34-0 so they own the tiebreaker. Florida is also still in the mix & Georgia lost to them. It’s not a MUST win for Georgia theoretically but they need to treat as such. I’m rooting for massive chaos so here’s hoping Auburn wins.
I still love any game that Arkansas is playing because I still think the Razorbacks have a big time upset in them. Amazingly enough, Arkansas has yet to win an SEC game during Bret Bielema’s tenure as HC. Last year the Hogs were 3-9 but lost all 8 SEC games. This year Arkansas is 4-5 & still has a shot to become bowl eligible but they are 0-5 in the SEC giving Bielema an 0-13 record in the SEC to start his career! LSU’s loss to Alabama last week ended their dim hopes of an SEC West title so it’ll be interesting to see how the Tigers bounce back against an Arkansas team that will be amped up to play. Will LSU be able to win a road game against a good team that doesn’t bring them any closer to the playoffs?
The last game of any significance for Ohio St., unless the Buckeyes were to lose in STUNNING fashion at home against either Indiana or Michigan. Give a lot of credit to Urban Meyer for understanding style points. Ohio St. doesn’t have the schedule to garner a 2nd glance & their one loss is a head scratcher that brings them down. With that said, the Buckeyes have averaged 51.3PPG in their last 7 games (all wins) & just put 49pts on Michigan St. in East Lansing. In those 7 wins, QB JT Barrett has completed 68.3% of his passes for 1711yds/23TD/3INTs & ran for 462yds/7TD. He could generate some Heisman buzz if he keeps winning games. Another blowout for the Buckeyes would really help them.
You could think a game would have this much importance considering Texas is 5-5 (4-3) & Oklahoma St. is 5-4 (3-3)! Neither team is going to play any role in the Big XII race, BUT this game has huge significance because the winning will attain bowl eligibility status. After this game Texas only has a home data against TCU remaining. Oklahoma St plays their final 2 games on the road against Baylor & Oklahoma so really this the last winnable game for either team. Unless they pull off a MAJOR upset in the next couple of weeks, this game will decide which of these 2 teams gets to the postseason. I think getting bowl eligible in his first year in Austin would be pretty special for Charlie Strong.
Both of these teams are bowl eligible & with Michigan St. losing to Ohio St. last week, you would think the Spartans are completely out of it. A couple of things make this game interesting though. Michigan St. could be right back to winning the B1G East if Minnesota or Michigan can somehow pull off upsets over Ohio State. On the other hand, Maryland has a chance to finish 2nd in the conference should they beat Michigan St. in College Park. Oddly enough I think this could potentially damage Ohio St. should the Terps win. At best Michigan St. would be a 9-3 team should they lose. While that is great, it doesn’t sound as good as 10-2 with losses to Ohio St. & Oregon. I want to see Sparty bounce back.
This could be a HUGE game if Texas A&M has a letdown performance after going into Auburn and getting a HUGE road upset over War Eagle 41-38 last week! Should Missouri win this game, they’ll have a road game against Tennessee & a home date with Arkansas that could turn Mizzou into a 10-2 squad that wins the SEC East! On the other hand, Missouri could easily lose all 3 games & if Georgia loses to Auburn, then the Florida Gators will be SEC Champions! I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see A&M win this game. Remember that the Aggies have quite a bit to play for. They are 7-3 & if they win out & win their bowl, they’ll end the year with 10 wins at 10-3. That is amazing consider they lost Manziel.
The Ol’ Ball Coach against his alma mater! How bad are things in South Carolina? The Gamecocks have lost their last 4 SEC games and are 1-4 in their last 5! The only win came against Furman! I though Spurrier was going to stick it to Tennessee last week, but SC lost 45-42 in Columbia! Now SC needs to win 2 of their last 3 to get bowl eligible meaning they need to win a road game against either Florida or Clemson! Who knows if that will happen! As to the Gators, they still have the East to play for! It’s very possible for Georgia & Missouri to lose this week. If the Gators win they’ll be 5-3 in the SEC! Can Florida actually fire Will Muschamp if he wins the East? What if he wins the SEC Championship?
A big game for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have to be kicking themselves at the moment. They are sitting at 8-2 with their two losses coming against Duke & North Carolina by a combined 11 points. The loss to Duke was in Atlanta & has the Jackets collectively 2 games behind the Blue Devils for the ACC Coastal. If if GT was 10-0 the road wouldn’t easy. They’d still have Clemson & Georgia to end the season but you never know. They could still win the Coastal if Duke drops 2 more games which is possible I suppose against UNC & Virginia Tech. Oddly enough Clemson is still in the race in the Atlantic. If Florida St. loses to Miami-FL & Boston College then Clemson wins the Atlantic!
I’m an Irish homer so obviously this game has meaning to me specifically. Northwestern has dropped 4 straight games & haven’t won a road game since Week 5 of the season! I don’t expect that to change anytime soon so I would think ND should pick up their 8th win to get to 8-2, but at the same time you never know with the Wildcats. They did manage to upset Wisconsin, beat Penn St., & they can argue they should have beaten Minnesota. They’ll play tough which should tell us a little about Notre Dame. Hopefully the Irish can bounce back after a tough loss to Arizona State, but what I’d like to see more than anything is a turnover free day by Everett Golson. ND has 19 TO this year & Golson is responsible for 53 of them!
With the Vols win over South Carolina last week, Tennessee improved to 4-5 which means they don’t have to win out to get bowl eligible which is what I initially suspected would happen at the beginning of the year. With the season finale against Vanderbilt, it seems as if Tennessee should see a bowl game this year! With Kentucky they need just 1 more win out of their 2 remaining to get the bowl eligibility. At 5-5, the Wildcats can almost taste the postseason but their final 2 games are on the road against Tennessee & Louisville. UT’s other game is against Missouri so this game is akin to Oklahoma St./Texas in that the winner here probably gets a bowl bid while the loser doesn’t.

November 14, 2014 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Miami-FL, Michigan St., Minnesota, Mississippi St., Missouri, Must See Games, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma St., South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, Week 12, Wisconsin | Leave a comment