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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 WR FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 INTERIOR DL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

I always think it’s interesting to note that when we talk about the absolute best defensive players in the NFL the last couple of years we also begin and end the conversation with JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. They aren’t corners and they aren’t edge rushers but rather interior defensive linemen! To me this is a position that is sometimes overlooked, but it is the position that drives the defense. Having outstanding players up front that can collapse the pocket from within and control the running game between the tackles is almost indispensable when chasing down a national championship. You’ll note that both of Clemson’s starting DTs from a year ago find their way onto my list of Terrific 20 interior defensive linemen. Alabama ALWAYS has 1st round talent at DE and NT. Washington made the playoffs last season. Their starting DTs? Yep, both made my Terrific 20 list this season.

It’s also interesting to note sexy picks for the 2017 playoffs. Florida State is expected to make a playoff run. They look to have exceptional DTs. Miami-FL is experiencing a resurgence that some might think could propel them into the playoffs as early as this season. They have both starting DTs on my Terrific 20 list. There is a lot of flash on the defensive side of the ball. Who doesn’t like edge rushers who can flat get out after the QB? There isn’t much more exciting to me on defense than a bone crushing safety who lays the wood on suspecting WRs over the middle, but who are also exceptional ball hawkers. A shutdown corner has as much flash as anyone, but as is always the case with the game of football, if you want to win, you have to have the big uglies!

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 David Moa/6’3/270lbs/rJR: Coming out of high school, Moa was a 6’3/235lbs 2-star DE from San Diego that didn’t draw much attention. Having redshirted a year and then continuing to grow, Moa has turned into a 6’3/270lbs DT for the Broncos who had a standout rSO season with 8.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss! Still a little light at 270lbs, Moa has some solid first step quickness & he has room to get bigger. He should be a 1st team All-MWC and he’ll be interesting to watch for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Dexter Lawrence/6’5/340lbs/SO: Lawrence is going to make a solid case for being the #1 overall draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He’s a MONSTER at 6’5/340lbs with uncanny athletic ability. Big enough to be a legit 2-gap daddy as a NT in a 3-4 scheme, Lawrence was a manchild in Clemson’s 4-3 racking up 7 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss & 6 QB hurries all as a true freshman all the while being an important cog in a national championship run! Even more impressive possibly? Kid racked up 78 tackles!
Computer Hope Christian Wilkins/6’4/310lbs/JR: Wilkins was a 3rd team All-American last year as a junior and potentially deserved better. Like Lawrence, Wilkins does everything right as a DT. He gets incredible inside pressure and if you watch Wilkins a lot, he is a natural interior DL who always has his hands up to deflect passes. Last year he broke up 10 passes which is an amazing rate. His 13 tackles for loss was 3rd on the team and he still has upside as some of those tackles for loss could turn into QB sacks.
Computer Hope Derrick Nnadi/6’1/312lbs/SR: I love Derrick Nnadi’s game. He’s not overly huge at 6’1, but at 312lbs he definitely typifies the “dancing bear” stereotype of ultra athletic big men. Nnadi does everything well up front. He generates tremendous inside pressure but is also a space eater in the middle that will make tackles and clog up opponent’s running games. I think Nnadi has some more upside as well as Brian Burns, Josh Sweat & Demarcus Christmas should all be better in 2017 alleviating some pressure.
Computer Hope Trenton Thompson/6’4/295lbs/JR: According to Phil Steele, Thompson was the best defensive lineman in the 2015 recruiting class and last year Thompson finally showed that promise with a standout sophomore campaign that saw the big man record 5 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss and 7 QB hurries! Thompson even won the Liberty Bowl MVP last year after Georgia beat TCU 31-23 to finish 8-5. Thompson has outstanding upside and hasn’t gotten as much run time as he’ll get this year. Expect big things.
Computer Hope Ed Oliver/6’2/290lbs/SO: The numbers are staggering. Last year as a true freshman Oliver recorded 66 tackles, 5 sacks, 23 tackles for loss, 9 passes broken up and 7 QB hurries! He was without question the best interior D-Lineman in the country in 2016. Did I mention he was a true freshman!? Already a 1st Team All-American, what does Oliver do for an encore? Like Dexter Lawrence, Oliver could be the #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Losing Tom Herman is tough, but Oliver keeps Houston relevant.
Computer Hope Daniel Wise/6’3/290lbs/rJR: It is somewhat amazing that Kansas has a player on my Terrific 20 for both edge rushers and interior defensive linemen. Wise had an outstanding rSO year last year racking up 38 tackles along with 10 tackles for loss. The Jayhawks have a pretty solid D-Line and you have to give credit to David Beaty and his staff. Beaty recruited Dorance Armstrong to come to Lawrence and his staff has done a great job developing Wise as a solid DT. KU could win 4-5 games this year.
Computer Hope R.J. McIntosh/6’4/293lbs/JR: You know the ACC is being put on notice with “THE U” starts churning out top flight defensive linemen. McIntosh didn’t do much as a freshman, but came alive in his sophomore campaign with 2.5 sacks & 9.5 tackles for loss. That isn’t too bad for a young guy feeling his way through his first year starting. McIntosh has great size at 6’4 and almost 300lbs. Miami-FL has an outstanding D-Line coming back this year that I think only will make McIntosh that much better. Scary!
Computer Hope Kendrick Norton/6’3/312lbs/JR: Like McIntosh, Norton was also a first time starter last year at DT and put up pretty solid numbers with 2 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I’ve seen some reports of Norton’s weight being as high as 320lbs so he’s a significant space eater in the middle who has quite a bit of upside when it comes to getting to the QB. Both McIntosh and Norton spent a lot of time in opposing backfields and it it’s just a matter of when (not if!) they start getting to the QB before he releases the ball!
Computer Hope Rashan Gary/6’5/293lbs/SO: I almost put Gary on my Terrific 20: Edge Rushers, but at 6’5 and almost 300lbs, he’s more of a 4-3DT or really a 3-4 DE. He didn’t get a ton of run time last year as a true frosh yet still managed 5 tackles for loss & 7 QB hurries. The QB hurries is the stat to watch. Gary didn’t get a ton of time so those 7 QB hurries could be closer to 17-20 if he starts 14 games and doesn’t get taken out. Some people are thinking Michigan might take a step back, but Gary might not let that happen.
Computer Hope Maurice Hurst/6’2/282lbs/rSR: Hurst took a huge step forward last year which his ability to get to the QB and generate interior pressure for the Wolverine defense. Some of that could have been defenses keying on Michigan’s other D-Linemen because they were a formidable bunch led by Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow & Chris Wormley, but I think Hurst’s improvements are for real and he’ll play a significant role this season. I think Hurst will be able to take advantage of Michigan having elite pass rushers.
Computer Hope Steven Richardson/6’0/300lbs/SR: Richardson is a little unheralded because he’s only 6’0 and he plays for Minnesota, but he put up a great year last year with 7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 2 QB hurries for a 9-4 Minnesota team that enjoyed their best season since 2003 when the Gophers finished 10-3. It was also Minnesota’s best defensive effort since 1999 and Richardson was a 3rd Team All-Big 10. With PJ Fleck around, confidence should be at an all-time high & Richardson should be good again.
Computer Hope Freedom Akinmoladun/6’4/270lbs/rJR: The scary thing about Akinmoladun is that the kid is still learning to play defense. Nebraska originally recruited him to play TE, but quickly abandoned the idea given Akinmoladun’s ability to add weight and retain his athleticism. The Cornhuskers are playing him as a 3-4DE, but he had 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss and an incredible 10 QB hurries last season. It would be interesting to see him turned loose as an edge rusher or make him a 3-4 OLB on passing downs. I like him.
Computer Hope Kevin Givens/6’1/285lbs/rSO: Givens probably isn’t on anyone’s radar just yet but MASSIVE amounts of credit needs to go to James Franklin and his staff for getting in on this guy. Givens came out of high school as a 6’1/235lbs LB, but after a redshirt year he’s now bulked up to 290lbs with exceptional first step quickness. He’s not slated to be a starter this year & he didn’t start last year either but he racked up 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in very limited time. Don’t be shocked when he busts out in 2017!
Computer Hope Harrison Phillips/6’4/285lbs/rJR: Phillips road has a been a bit bumpy to his point. He didn’t get a ton of run time in 2014 as a true frosh and then had to redshirt in 2015 due to injury. Finally given the green light in 2016, Phillips didn’t disappoint racking up 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss all from the DT position in Stanford’s 3-4 scheme. He’s a bit miscast as a NT, but he’s highly effective up the middle and should have no issues being an All Pac 12 player. He has double digit sack upside in ’17.
Computer Hope Zaycoven Henderson/6’2/305lbs/SR: Lost in all the Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall hype last season, Zaycover Henderson put together a pretty remarkable season for an interior D-Lineman recording 3 sacks and 10 tackles for loss along with 2 QB hurries. Sort of like Maurice Hurst, you wonder if Henderson will be as good now that offenses will key on him, but he’s got solid size at 6’2 and 305lbs and I think he’ll keep playing well. He should be a 1st Team All-SEC guy meaning he’s one of the best in the nation!
Computer Hope Rasheem Green/6’5/280lbs/JR: One of the most highly touted prospects in the 2015 class, Green is a monster with incredible size at 6’5/280lbs. As a true frosh, Green played in every game for the Trojans which is no easy task given the depth chart & became a full fledged starter as a true sophomore. Green led USC is sacks last year and was also 4th in tackles showing an outstanding ability to limit the run as well as the pass. Green is a big reason why the Trojans could end up being the national champions!
Computer Hope Lowell Lotulelei/6’2/317lbs/SR: Utah seems like a DT assembly line and Lotulelei is the latest edition. You can make a good argument his teammate Filipo Mokofisi deserves to be the on this list but I went with Lotulelei because the guy has been a model of consistency since he arrived in Salt Lake City. Of all the players on this list, if you were looking at bets as to who would reach their ceiling this year, I think Lotulelei would be the safest bet. Not a ton of flash but great size at 6’2/317lbs and he gets the job done.
Computer Hope Andrew Brown/6’4/285lbs/SR: A 5-star recruit out of Chesapeake Virginia, Brown elected to stay close to home and commit to the Wahoos over teams like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, Ohio St., and Georgia. Brown had been hampered by injuries over this first two seasons in Charlottesville, but last year was able to stay on the field & ended the season with 6 sacks and 13 tackles for loss which is amazing considering how bad the defense was for UVA. The talent here is undeniable if healthy!
Computer Hope Greg Gaines/6’2/321lbs/rJR: I really like Gaines’ game. Washington plays sort of an odd ball 3-3-5 base defense or nickle package using a couple of huge DTs which one edge rusher and then hoping to get help via one of their outside LBs. This means that the Huskies need their DTs to generate a lot of inside pressure and Gaines does that. Gaines came to UW at 6’1/290 but has grown and inch and put on almost 30lbs. He had 8 tackles for loss and I think there is a lot more upside to his game going forward.
Computer Hope Vita Vea/6’5/344lbs/JR: Vea is an absolute BEAST physically at 6’5 and almost 350lbs! Vea is even bigger than Dexter Lawrence even if marginally so! Vea is an extremely unique player in that he’s a legit 2-gap daddy as a 3-4 NT, but he also gets tremendous pressure, finishing 2nd on the Huskies last season sacks with 5. He’s the reason UW can play the kind of defense they want because he takes up so much space and commands double & triple teams. He’s an All-American candidate that is also a top-10 NFL pick.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Marlon Tuipulotu/USC/6’3/305lbs: Tuipulotu should get significant playing time and this is one of those instances where talent meets opportunity. The Trojans should have a dominant D-Line with starters Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green and Uchenna Nwosu. That should leave Tuipulotu with plenty of one on one opportunities in the trenches to make an impact. Opposing defenses are most likely going to key on known variables such as the 3 other starting D-Linemen along with other Trojan players like Cameron Smith and Ajene Harris. There is some concern going forward about the overall depth chart of the D-Line, but for the most part I think Tuipulotu gets significant playing time and makes an impact because he’ll be more of an afterthought for opposing offensive coordinators. It’ll be interesting to see how effective the true freshman can be, knowing this and getting quite a bit of playing time.

Jordan Scott/Oregon/6’1/340lbs: I’m really excited to see what Scott can do for the Ducks this season. Just a 3-star DT out of Florida, Scott wasn’t highly recruited by the big boys. He did have an offer from Florida State, but not much outside of that. He chose to go all away across country to Oregon where he seems like a more natural fit in the Ducks 3-4 scheme. Scott couldn’t walk into a better situation. He’s a space eater at almost 350lbs and should command double teams. He’s also in a unique position because DE Jalen Jelks is a returning starter and the other DE looks to be Clemson grad transfer Scott Pagano. That’s a lot of experience up front. Oregon also returns both inside LBs in Troy Dye and Kaulana Apelu meaning Scott is either going to take up a lot of space allowing the LBs to hunt or he’s going to get faced with a lot of one on one opportunities where he can shut down any type of interior running game while collapsing the pocket on opposing QBs. We are used to seeing dominant 3-4 DEs out of Oregon such as DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Scott might be a legit 3-4 NT for the Ducks that carries around 350lbs.

Marvin Wilson/Florida State/6’4/330lbs: Just a bit smaller than Dexter Lawrence, Wilson enters the 2017 NCAA football season as the most highly touted DL recruit in the 2017 class. Wilson has massive bulk and does everything well in the trenches. He’s exceptional at getting pressure on the QB while also being able to take up space and shut down running games. He demands double teams so it’ll be interesting to see if collegiate offensives will allow him to go one on one with a guard or center. The only issue I think Wilson will have his first season is finding playing time. Derrick Nnadi is one of the best DTs in college football and FSU also returns Demarcus Christmas as their other DT starter. HC Jimbo Fisher is also bringing in Ja’len Parks and Cory Durden. That is a massive amount of talent up front for the Seminoles. Wilson is going to play and I think he’s going to make an impact but it’ll be interesting to see if he makes the same kind of impact Dexter Lawrence made because of the logjam up front in Tallahassee.

Langston Murray/New Mexico/6’2/335lbs: As I’ve written many times, sometimes a player can make himself a household name because of opportunity and I think Murray steps into an interesting situation with the Lobos. Murray has tremendous size at 6’2/335lbs. New Mexico under HC Bob Davie employs a base 3-4 and there isn’t much returning at NT from last season meaning if Murray can step in and be effective, he’ll earn significant playing time. Murray is also big enough already that he won’t need a redshirt year trying to add bulk to his frame. There isn’t any doubt that New Mexico is a work in progress this season after a mass exodus of players from the defensive side of the ball, but that means opportunity for a guy like Murray. I’m not sure he’ll cash in that opportunity, but a legit 3-4NT who can eat up space makes the 3-4 defense flow and you can be sure that the New Mexico coaching staff understands this. The Lobos are going to run the ball and take up time. That’s for certain so the defense will get plenty of rest. If Murray can eat up space then the other defenders can hunt, making an otherwise rebuilding defense, highly effective. Let’s see if Murray can seize the opportunity.

Quinnen Williams/Alabama/6’4/285lbs: Williams is a rFR, but I wanted to get a guy from Alabama on this list because how can you talk about interior defensive linemen and not mention Alabama!? Regardless of who Alabama loses to the NFL Draft, they always have dominant D-Lines and I think Williams is going to be a star in 2017. Williams had an outstanding spring game for the Tide and he’s projected to be the starter along with NT Da’Ron Payne and DE Da’Shawn Hand. Payne & Hand could easily be All-SEC type of players meaning Williams as a relative unknown should have his way early on. That won’t last because he’ll be dominant, but Williams should be able to capture enough momentum early on to propel himself through the season and make people notice for the 2019 NFL Draft after his redshirt sophomore season. The only downside to Williams is the incredible amount of talent in Tuscaloosa, but if he can get playing time and remain in the starting lineup, I think Williams emerges as an All-SEC type of player.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Boise St., Clemson, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Interior DL, Kansas, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas AM, USC, Utah, Virginia, Washington | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 EDGE RUSHERS FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

EDGE RUSHERS!!!!! The most exciting position in football in my opinion! This position was tough because there were quite a few edge rushers who probably deserved to be included yet missed the cut since I limited my selections to the top-20. One thing that stood out is that the SEC & ACC have tremendous pass rushers this season. Catching those conference games almost ensures you’ll see a couple of elite pass rushers. What also stuck out is that you could make a decent argument that Ohio St. has 4 of the top-20 edge rushers in the nation! If there is going to be a single reason why the Buckeyes could potentially win a national championship, it’ll be because of the RELENTLESS pass rush their edge rushers can generate! It should be mind boggling.

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 Harold Landry/6’3/250lbs/SR: Landry didn’t play much as a freshman, but flashed quite a bit as a sophomore as he tied with LB Matt Milano for the BC lead in tackles for loss in 2015 with 11. That was a harbinger for things to come as Landry exploded last year racking up 16.5 sacks which led all of college football! While a 4-3DE for Boston College, Landry projects as a 34OLB at the NFL level. Regardless, the Eagles are going to get back to a bowl this year & Landry will have an incredible season.
Computer Hope Clelin Ferrell/6’5/265lbs/rSO: It was easy not to concentrate so much on Ferrell last year during Clemson’s run to a championship because the defense had guys like Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph, Carlos Watkins, Cordrea Tankersley, Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins, but Ferrell was a huge part of the success racking up 6 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and a team leading 9 QB hurries. Oh by the way he was only a rFR! He returns with a ton of supporting players. He’ll go double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Jabari Zuniga/6’3/245lbs/rSO: Like Ferrell, Zuniga was another redshirt freshman having a helluva year. Zuniga finished the season for the Gators with a team leading 5 sacks, which also happened to be the most sacks by a freshman since 1987! Zuniga wasn’t highly thought of coming out of high school, but he proved to be an incredible get. In limited time last season he still managed the 5 sacks and an astonishing 11 QB hurries. If those hurries turn into sacks, Zuniga becomes an All-American.
Computer Hope Brian Burns/6’5/218lbs/SO: Burns has perfect height to be a 4-3 DE at the next level, but he’s a little light at 218lbs so it’ll be something to watch moving forward. While he might not have ideal bulk at the moment, it’s impossible to overlook the numbers the true frosh put up last season. In limited time, Burns recorded 9.5 sacks which was 2nd on the team to DeMarcus Walker’s 16. With Josh Sweat on the opposite end, Burns should be in for another huge year in what should be a playoff run for Florida State.
Computer Hope Josh Sweat/6’5/250lbs/JR:Opposing teams are screwed with FSU’s edge rushers because Burns and Josh Sweat make the list. Sweat is more of a complete package seeing that he’s 250lbs although his ceiling might not be as high as Burns. Sweat really came on down the stretch in FSU’s last 3 games against Syracuse, Florida & Michigan. In those 3 games, Sweat had 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. If Sweat keeps that momentum going in 2017 and improves from his ’16 campaign, then look out!
Computer Hope Davin Bellamy/6’5/240lbs/rSR: Bellamy is almost the ideal size for an NFL 4-3 DE. At 6’5 and almost 250lbs, Bellamy has elite physical size, but one thing that he hasn’t been able to do is transform his QB hurries into sacks. In 2015 Bellamy had 9 QB hurries yet only 3 sacks. Last season he recorded a ridiculous 17 QB hurries but manged only 5 sacks! Those numbers should be reversed! Georgia is a big time threat to win the SEC East and you’d have to think Bellamy could be a deciding factor in the SEC East.
Computer Hope Lorenzo Carter/6’6/242lbs/SR: Everything I wrote above about Bellamy is somewhat true about Carter as well. Despite his IDEAL size for a 4-3 DE, Carter has had trouble converting QB hurries to sacks. In 2015 he had 6 QB hurries but no sacks. Last year he recorded 13 QB hurries but just 5 sacks. Neither Carter or Bellamy show up on first round mock drafts for 2018 so something is up. I’m betting on both of them. The upside is simply too strong there for me to ignore them. I think they both dominate.
Computer Hope Dorance Armstrong/6’4/256lbs/JR: There wasn’t a lot to be excited about regarding Kansas football last year but along with the win over Texas, Dorance Armstrong was a HUGE bright spot for the Jayhawks campaign. Armstrong wasn’t fantastic in 2015, but he exploded last season with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss! Armstrong was consistent all season & he put up big numbers against some very tough offensive lines. He could be KU’s 1st first team All-American since CB Aquib Talib back in 2007.
Computer Hope Jaylon Ferguson/6’5/255lbs/rJR: Guys like Ferguson are always interesting because you wonder who exactly they got to where they are. Ferguson is from St. Francisville, LA which is about 30 or so miles north of Baton Rouge. How in the world did this guy NOT grow up an LSU fan, and how in the world did LSU NOT want to recruit the guy? It doesn’t look like LSU even offered the guy so maybe it was never on the table. Ferguson exploded last year with 14.5 sacks! He’s an All-American candidate for 2017.
Computer Hope Arden Key/6’6/255lbs/JR: Speaking of Ferguson to LSU, could you imagine the LSU defensive line if it has Ferguson and Key coming off the edge!? Good grief! How in the world would opposing QBs not get killed!? Key is a MONSTER! HC Ed Orgeron is already saying can be as good if not better than former Texas A&M, and #1 overall NFL draft pick, Myles Garrett! Those are lofty words, but Key is fully formed & is an outstanding pass rusher. Coming off shoulder surgery, let’s hope it doesn’t hinder him.
Computer Hope Joe Jackson/6’5/258lbs/SO: I wavered on throwing Jackson on this list because he’s not even projected to be a starter for THE U at DE. The Canes have seniors looking to start in Chad Thomas & Trent Harris. Both are solid players, but it’s hard to ignore what Jackson did last season as a true freshman. He led Miami in sacks with 8.5 and recorded 11.5 tackles for loss which also led the team. Jackson has incredible size at 6’5/260lbs. I’d be shocked if Jackson doesn’t get a ton of reps & net double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Marquis Haynes/6’3/222lbs/SR: Haynes doesn’t have ideal size as a 4-3 DE, but he fits the position well and has a ton of natural pass rushing ability. It’s hard to ignore his production. As a sophomore Haynes posted 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Last year as a junior Haynes had 7 sacks & 11 tackles for loss but also had 8 QB hurries. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him come back for his senior season, but Haynes has the ability to post numbers that could make him an All-American candidate.
Computer Hope Marcell Frazier/6’5/265lbs/rSR: Incredible size for a DE, Frazier could think about gaining 25lbs and becoming a 3-4 DE who could provide pocket pressure off the edge. He’ll have no problem taking over for the departed Charles Harris who the Miami Dolphins took in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Frazier might be one of the most important players in college football this season because if he provides significant pressure, Missouri has a chance to shock a lot of people given their schedule.
Computer Hope Bradley Chubb/6’4/275lbs/SR: Chubb flashed enormous potential for the Wolfpack as a sophomore netting 5.5 sacks & 12 tackles for loss. Those numbers are gigantic but Chubb ranked 2nd on the team in tackles which is amazing for an edge rusher. Last year Chubb flashed for real, racking up 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss along with 7 QB hurries. Chubb has tremendous bulk at 275lbs, but he’s got a lot of speed for that size. There are a lot of very good edge rushers in the ACC, but Chubb is the best.
Computer Hope Sam Hubbard/6’5/265lbs/rJR: Hubbard didn’t go nuts last year with his stats with only 3.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, but he’s roundly considered a first round draft pick and if you watch Ohio St. for very long, it’s not hard to see why Hubbard has as much hype surrounding him as anyone. What could prevent Hubbard from having a huge statistical season is Ohio St. having so much depth on the edge. This will be true for Tyquan Lewis as well but Nick Bosa & Jalyn Holmes are going to need reps too!
Computer Hope Tyquan Lewis/6’4/265lbs/rSR: Lewis has always been an elite pass rusher but playing in the shadow of Joey Bosa, it isn’t easy to get noticed for you own play. In his first season without Bosa, Lewis led the Buckeyes in sacks with 8, in tackles for loss with 10.5 and in QB hurries with 5. He didn’t get to come out of the Bosa family shadow for long though as little brother Nick came in and had a fantastic true frosh season. Like Hubbard, Lewis is a 1st round NFL DE, but his reps won’t be as high because of depth.
Computer Hope Breckyn Hager/6’3/227lbs/JR: KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS GUY! Hager had an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Longhorns despite only making 5 starts. Hager made the most of his opportunities finishing 2nd on the team in tackles, 1st in sacks and first in tackles for loss. He has a relentless motor and is constantly on the move regardless of play/position. Hager is a little light but Texas is moving to a 3-4 base defense which forces Hager to a 3-4 OLB spot which he’s more suited for. Scary!
Computer Hope Porter Gustin/6’5/260lbs/JR: Gustin didn’t get a ton of run time as a true frosh back in 2015, but he flashed hard last season for the Trojans picking up 5.5 sacks and a team leading 13 tackles for loss. Gustin is an edge rusher with incredible size at 6’5/260lbs, but he’s quick off the line and he does a great job holding the edge and containing the running game. He’s not a one trick pony to be sure. USC is this close to being back to the glory years under Pete Carroll. Gustin is a big part of that as the defense is solid.
Computer Hope Tremaine Edmunds/6’5/236lbs/JR: A 3rd team All-American last season, Edmunds is a scary sight off the edge down in Blacksburg. Giving Bud Foster an ELITE edge rusher is a thing of beauty. The last time VT had an edge rusher the caliber of Edmunds was back when Jason Worilds was playing in 2008-2009, but Worilds isn’t as good as Edmunds, wasn’t as big or have near the upside. Edmunds only had 4.5 sacks last year but 18.5 tackles for loss! He has the potential to reverse those numbers.
Computer Hope Duke Ejiofor/6’4/275lbs/rSR: Ejiofor was a big part of Wake Forest getting to a bowl game last year for the first time since 2011 and winning a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The 2008 season was also the last time Wake had a winning season before the 2016 campaign. Ejiofor got spot duty his first couple of seasons after redshirting but flashed last year when he became the starter. He led the team in sacks with 10.5 and recorded 17 tackles for loss. The ACC has a lot of outstanding edge rushers.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jaelan Phillips/UCLA/6’6/250lbs: A consensus 5-star defensive end out of Redlands, CA, Phillips is a man-child at 6’6/250lbs which is already IDEAL size as a 4-3 edge rusher. Phillips enrolled early at UCLA and was on campus for spring practice. The Bruins hardly have anything coming back as far as pass rush is concerned so Phillips could get some run time early getting a chance to show the coaching staff that he can be an impact player right away. The only downside to Phillips potentially is his size. The kid is already 6’6/250lbs and UCLA runs a 4-3 defense. If he gains 25-30 pounds then Phillips will be a prototypical 34DE at 6’6/280lbs! There isn’t much by way of production last season in front of Phillips and opportunity is half the battle for these newcomers. I think Phillips gets a chance to shine as a true freshman.

A.J. Epenesa/Iowa/6’5/270lbs: I wanted to mention Espnesa because he is the most highly decorated recruit that committed to Iowa that I can remember. Typically the Hawkeyes don’t nail down too many no doubt 5-star studs, especially on the defensive line, but the Illinois native signed with the Iowa and Kirk Ferentz couldn’t be happier. I think opportunity is what is key for freshman contribution and that isn’t easy to see with Epenesa in Iowa City this year. Iowa already has a solid 3-man rotation at edge rusher featuring Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson and Anthony Nelson. What makes it so intriguing however, is that the Hawkeyes could easily make that a 4-man rotation by adding Epenesa  making their D-Line deeper and even more talented. It would also be incredibly BIG! Matt Nelson is 6’8/285lbs. His younger brother Anthony Nelson is 6’7/260lbs. Hesse is 6’3/260lbs and Epenesa is already 6’5/270lbs! Pass rush counts for a lot in football and because of this 4-man rotation, Iowa has a shot at the Big 10 West. I think Epenesa gets a chance to help Iowa.

Jake Lawler/North Carolina/6’3/220lbs: Lawler is a little light for an edge rusher but he’s a true freshman so you’d have to think the weight will come at some point. That being said, Lawler looks like a prime candidate to redshirt, but as I’ve said repeated times, opportunity is a good sign a freshman might have an impact and Lawler might have a shot to get solid reps. The Tar Heels have Malik Carney returning who will be their primary pass rusher, but UNC is a little thin on the opposite side which is where Lawler could come into play. You could make an argument that Lawler is the most talented edge rusher on the squad so that might garner him some opportunities. Admittedly this might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s worth noting because Lawler enrolled early and Carolina needs the help on the edge.

Drew Jordan/Duke/6’2/255lbs: Staying on Tobacco Road, Jordan as a true freshman immediately steps into the starting role for Duke and is easily the most talented edge rusher the Blue Devils have heading into 2017. Typically a team like Duke (or Vanderbilt or Indiana or Northwestern) can sometimes get a solid blue chip recruit along the O-Line or at QB. Even LB, but getting a blue chipper as an edge rusher is a rare thing, yet HC David Cutcliffe managed to pull this off with Jordan, a Georgia native. Jordan has ready make bulk at the collegiate level at 255lbs and to be honest, he’ll need to figure out a way to keep his weight under control unless he shoots up to 6’4-6’5. One thing I like about the impact Jordan could have is that it improves Duke’s pass rush from the edge because the Blue Devils do a pretty good job getting QB pressure from their LBs. Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys get after it a big and a solid edge rusher like Jordan could open up lanes for the LBs to swarm a little bit better. If Jordan gets a lot of reps and his numbers don’t look great, but Giles-Harris & Humphreys get big bumps, it’ll be because Jordan freed them up a bit.

Bryan Jones/Houston/6’5/245lbs: It’s a different coaching staff at Houston with Tom Herman going to Texas, but what sticks out to me about Jones is the presence of Ed Oliver. Jones is a fully formed 43DE at 6’5/245lbs and he was a highly recruited DE. Oliver as a true frosh last season was a 1st team all-american and he’ll be clogging up the middle while Jones is on the edge. Jones is the most talented edge rusher on the Cougars team and it’s not even close. He should get opportunities and Houston’s front-7 is good enough that Jones should see a lot of one-on-one matchups on the edge which could lead to some big plays. Given how well Oliver did as a freshman, I wonder if Jones can come in and have a similar impact especially with Oliver coming back for his sophomore season. Houston lost both of their starting edge rushers from a season ago so competition should be wide open.

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Edge Rushers, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Miami-FL, Mississippi, Missouri, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio St, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Terrific 20, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

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

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

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

#19 – Bill Snyder – Kansas State

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

#18 – Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

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

#17 – Gus Malzahn – Auburn

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

#16 – Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern

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

#15 – James Franklin – Penn State

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

#14 – Kyle Whittingham – Utah

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

#13 – Mark Richt – Miami-FL

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

#12 – Gary Patterson – Texas Christian

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

#11 – Mark Dantonio – Michigan State

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

May 20, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Auburn, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Kansas St., Miami-FL, Michigan St., Northwestern, Oklahoma St., Pac 12, Penn St., Rankings, SEC, TCU, Utah | 1 Comment

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 FINAL RANKINGS

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Deshaun Watson might not have won the Heisman but he proved he was the best player in college football by taking down the Tide 35-31 in dramatic fashion and handing Clemson their first national title since 1981! The Tigers did the ultimate by beating both Urban Meyer and Nick Saban in the playoffs which makes the championship all the sweeter. Watson was huge. The defensive effort was fantastic. And Dabo was well…Dabo! Swinney is now 70-13 the past six seasons. He’s proven ELITE.
#2 Computer Hope What if Bo Scarbrough doesn’t get hurt in the 3rd quarter? The Tide were up 17-7 when Scarbrough went down & then were outscored 28-14. Why didn’t Alabama hold on the last play of the game forcing Clemson to kick a FG to send the game into OT? Lots of question surrounding this loss for the Tide, but you can’t deny that Jalen Hurts was terrible, the offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the defense couldn’t find a way to get off the field against Watson’s passing attack. The best team won.
#3 Computer Hope If you don’t believe full games out of Jake Butt and Jabril Peppers is worth at last 2 points for the Wolverines then I have no idea what to tell you. If you watched them all season, it was easy to see that Michigan was right behind Alabama & Clemson. They were possibly with them assuming full health. The Wolverines dominated the Buckeyes in Columbus yet lost. They dealt with injuries against Florida St. & lost by one point. This ranking is based on “What if?”, but I think Michigan deserves it.
#4 Computer Hope What an unbelievable way to win the Rose Bowl!? The Trojans go up 20-7 on Penn St. only to see the Nittany Lions roar back to take a 49-35 lead into the 4th quarter by outscoring USC 28-8 in the 3rd quarter. Not to be outdone, the Trojans outscore PSU 17-0 in the 4th capped off by a last second FG that gave USC a 52-49 win! USC won 9 straight to end the season including wins over Penn St., Colorado, Washington, UCLA & Notre Dame. USC definitely proved they were the class of the Pac 12.
#5 Computer Hope The season ended on a disappointing note with the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, but how amazing has the transformation of Penn St. been under James Franklin? Franklin in his 3rd year led the Lions to an 11-3 record which included wins over Ohio St., Iowa, Michigan St. & Wisconsin en route to a Big 10 championship, their first since 2008. The best part is that it can only get better. QB Trace McSorley & RB Saquon Barkley return next year & Penn St. is recruiting well. The Lions are B-A-C-K!
#6 Computer Hope I’ve been making FSU pay all season for the disastrous loss to Louisville back on September 17th, but if you simply consider it a loss, FSU lost to Louisville, North Carolina by 2 and Clemson by 3. Dalvin Cook was arguably the best RB in the nation. FSU ended the season 10-3 on a 5-game winning streak including a stunning 33-32 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Defensively, the Noles were A LOT better than their stats would indicate. If their TO margin was great, FSU could be the champs.
#7 Computer Hope In much the same way the Seminoles paid for their loss to Louisville, the Buckeyes lived off their early season demolition of Oklahoma. The Buckeyes were definitely exposed in a 31-0 embarrassment at the hands of Clemson, but Ohio St. didn’t look so good for a lot of the season. They lost to Penn St., but barely escaped games against Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan St. & Northwestern. The playoff committee backed themselves into a corner with Ohio St. & they shouldn’t have played Clemson.
#8 Computer Hope The Badgers took care of business in the Cotton Bowl beating a feisty Western Michigan squad to end the year 11-3. It’s hard to rank Wisconsin any lower than this. They beat LSU to start the season & their only 3 losses came against Ohio St., Michigan & Penn St., all by 7 points. Paul Chryst seems like the heir apparent to Barry Alavarez & he should be in Madison for a very long time. In his first two years with Wisconsin, Chryst is 21-6 with a Big 10 West title & 2 bowl wins. I think they only get better.
#9 Computer Hope Like Michigan, this is more of a ranking based on top end talent. When LSU was healthy, they combined an efficient passing attack with Danny Etling behind a DEVASTATING rushing combination of Leonard Fournette and Derius Guice. The defense was arguably the best in the nation which really begs the question of how it was possible for LSU to lose games behind an ELITE rushing attack and an ELITE defense? That is the riddle Ed Orgeron needs to solve because LSU is too good for 8-4.
#10 Computer Hope Losing to Alabama 24-7 in the national semifinal dulled an amazing season for the Huskies who finished 12-2 as Pac 12 champions in Chris Petersen’s 3rd season in Seattle. The loss to Alabama should be instructive going forward & the Huskies are poised to dominate the Pac 12 North for years to come. The one knock is that UW has to beat quality teams. They lost to USC & Alabama with their big wins coming against Stanford, Utah & Washington State. I think it’s a problem they’ll rectify.
#11 Computer Hope The Sooners paid dearly for early season losses to Houston & Ohio St., but roared back winning 10 straight games, going undefeated in Big XII play and then routing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to finish 11-2. Given their competition, the Sooners possibly saved the best for last. The defense held a solid Auburn running attack in check while the offense rolled behind Baker Mayfield, Joe Mixon, Dede Westbrook and Samarje Perine. Given Ohio St.’s & Washington’s performance in the playoffs, Oklahoma makes a case with a great year.
#12 Computer Hope Even if Colorado was completely unmotivated to play in the Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma St,’s dismantling of the Buffs 38-8 was impressive no matter how you slice it. The Cowboys were up 31-0 going into the 4th quarter in dominant fashion surpassed only by Clemson’s demolition of Ohio State. If you believe the refs robbed the Cowboys in the C.Michigan loss then OK-State’s only real losses were on the road to Baylor & Oklahoma. The 10-3 reads more like 11-2. The Cowboys will be in the national title chase in 2017. You’ve been warned!
#13 Computer Hope Down 24-0 at halftime to Arkansas in the Belk Bowl, the Hokies stormed back outscoring the Hogs 35-0 in the 2nd half to end their season 10-4 with an ACC Coastal title. Take out oddball losses to Georgia Tech & Syracuse & the Hokies could have been 12-2 with a much better bowl slot. First year HC Justin Fuente was a huge success in Blacksburg in his first season. JUCO QB Jerod Evans was a revelation & the Hokies rushing attack gave VT a new offensive identity. That attack with a Bud Foster defense is a dangerous combo.
#14 Computer Hope Losing to Oklahoma 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl isn’t that bad considering Oklahoma probably had their best game of the year and if the Sooners played like that against Ohio St. & Houston, they would have been 12-0 & in the playoffs. War Eagle got off to a rough 1-2 start but their eventual 8-5 record includes losses to Clemson, Alabama & Oklahoma! Those 3 teams finished a combined 39-4! They also lost to Texas A&M early when the Aggies looked like a playoff team & Georgia when Kamryn Pettway was hurt. Very good team. Tough schedule without solid QB.
#15 Computer Hope Let’s just assume Colorado simply wasn’t interested in the Alamo Bowl, and frankly who could blame them considering they were angling for the Rose Bowl and missed out to a team they finished ahead of in the Pac 12 South. The Buffaloes had a banner year finishing 10-4 with a Pac 12 South title when most pundits predicted them to finish dead last before the season began. The real question is whether or not the Buffaloes can build on this breakthrough season. QB Sefo Liufau & a ton of defensive players won’t be returning in 2017.
#16 Computer Hope The Cardinal held off a pretty good North Carolina rally in the Sun Bowl to preserve a 25-23 win & finish the year 10-3. Stanford suffered a bit with 3 losses in 4 games in the early/mid season to start the year 4-3. With Washington & Washington St. playing so well in the North, Stanford was out before they really started. The losses weren’t so bad though. UW on the North. Colorado won the South & Wazzou finished 2nd in the North. Those 3 combined to finish 30-11. Tough way to finish for Christian McCaffery’s career,  but 10-3 isn’t awful.
#17 Computer Hope Early season losses for teams like Oklahoma & LSU took those squads out of the national spotlight. For the Redbirds it was almost the opposite. Louisville lived off a 63-20 hammering of Florida St. to a 9-1 start with their only loss coming at Clemson by 6 points. At that point they were still in the mix for a playoff spot. Then they lost to Houston and then to Kentucky and then to LSU in the Citrus Bowl where Lamar Jackson was exposed against an excellent defense. This is a top-20 team but the 9-4 certainly feels disappointing. They should have been 12-1.
#18 Computer Hope The Broncos proved they belonged by outscoring Wisconsin 16-10 over three quarters of the Cotton Bowl. Unfortunately, Wisconsin outscored them 14-0 in the 1st quarter giving the Badgers a 24-16 win and ended WMU’s perfect season. The loss was tough. Even worse was losing HC PJ Fleck after the season to Minnesota. It’s an odd move to be sure considering WMU could have potentially went 13-1/14-0 next season & Fleck would have been in even more demand. Then again, it’s the Big 10 West and not the Big 10 East. Fleck might be on to something.
#19 Computer Hope Utah probably got more than they bargained for from Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl. If Richard Lagow was any kind of QB, Utah probably falls to the Hoosiers & doesn’t rank in the top-25. Fortunately, Joe Williams put on a show & ran for 222 yards against an overwhelmed IU defense. Utah had a solid year going 9-4 although the loss to Colorado had to hurt because it cost them the South. They lived off their USC win but it’s worth nothing that the Utes’ 4 losses came by a combined 19 points. Like Colorado, it’ll be interesting to see how Utah reloads with USC back.
#20 Computer Hope Florida isn’t back to where they want to be, but I think the program scored a big win with Jim McElwain staying in Gainesville when rumors were swirling he could have taken off for Oregon. In his 2 seasons at Florida, the Gators have won SEC East titles. Sure they have lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game both years & they have lost to Florida St. each year but progress takes a bit of time. Last year they were blown out by Michigan in their bowl game. This year they blow out Iowa. They aren’t back to being a top-10 program but they aren’t far.
#21 Computer Hope It was SO REFRESHING to see that Hurricane swagger on display in the Russell Athletic Bowl. THE U came to play & destroyed a solid West Virginia team 31-14. QB Brad Kaaya put on a clinic while the Miami defense held a Dana Holgorsen offense to just 14 points & 11 first downs! It was a tale of 3 season for Miami. They started off by winning 4 straight. Then they lost 4 straight before ending with 5 straight wins. Three of the 4 losses were close & those 4 losses came to Florida St., Notre Dame, Virginia Tech & North Carolina. Pretty good for Mark Richt’s first year.
#22 Computer Hope It took the Bulls overtime to defeat South Carolina, but USF pulled it out 46-39 to finish 11-2 which is the best record in the history of the program that started back in 1997! QB Quinton Flowers and RB Marlon Mack had outstanding years leading a dominating running attack that ranked 5th in the nation at a tick above 285 rushing yards per game. An untimely loss to Temple kept the Bulls from potentially winning the AAC championship but what a season. Taggart bolted USF for Oregon, but the Bulls landed Charlie Strong! I think USF will be fine in the transition.
#23 Computer Hope On the one hand you have a San Diego St. team the destroyed Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl 34-10 with a massive defensive effort that all but destroyed the Cougars rushing attack and picked off Houston QB Greg Ward four times. That Aztec team finished as MW Champs with an 11-3 record. RB Donnel Pumphrey ends his career as the all time leader in rushing yards in D1 history. On the other you have a SD Stat team that lost to S.Alabama, Colorado St. & Wyoming. Weird. HC Rocky Long has put together back to back 11-3 seasons. He’s got the program humming.
#24 Computer Hope I would have liked the Mountaineers coming out a little motivated to play than they showed against Miami-FL in the bowl, but it’s hard to argue a 10-3 season in which your only losses came against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Miami-FL. Nobody picked WVU to finish 3rd in the Big XII so the season was a rousing success. HC Dana Holgorsen has now improved WVU in each season since 2004. His guys are in place & the program is definitely his. I think he has WVU at a point where they need to start competing with Oklahoma for conference titles. That’s the next step.
#25 Computer Hope BYU flew under the radar for most of the season because of their 1-3 start, but the Cougars finished 8-1 in their last 9 games including a 24-21 bowl win over Wyoming that was a lot more impressive than it looks. You can argue BYU didn’t beat anyone of note although they did post wins over Michigan St., Mississippi St., Cincinnati & Arizona, but their 4 losses came by a combined 8 points! Those losses were to UCLA, Boise St., West Virginia & Utah. If BYU finishes 12-0 they were playing in a New Year’s 6, but could they have had an argument for a playoff berth?

DROPPING OUT

#16 WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS: Love the Cougs but they ended the season on a 3-game losing streak to finish 8-5. They were better than this. They also lost their bowl game to Minnesota which is hard to justify considering the mess that Minnesota football during this time. If Wazzou can quit losing early games to FCS teams they can turn into a consistent 10-win team which would put some pressure on Chris Petersen and Washington. Luke Falk coming back next season is going to be interesting.

#17 PITTSBURGH PANTHERS: Really an odd year. Pitt finished 8-5 with 4 close losses but also posted wins over Penn St. & Clemson. I kept them out of the top-25 due to the 5 losses and the bowl loss to Northwestern which didn’t make a lot of sense although Northwestern did become “that” team that nobody in the Big 10 wanted to play. No team in college football had two better wins than Pittsburgh, but the five losses?

#20 IOWA HAWKEYES: It was somewhat of a disappointing season for Iowa given that they went undefeated last year during the regular season, but the Hawkeyes had a chance to salvage a disappointing season by beating Michigan & Nebraska down the stretch. The problem was losing 30-3 to a Florida team looking to crash for the 2nd season in a row. This lead to an 8-5 finish for Iowa which isn’t awful all things considered, but still left something to be desired. The losses to Northwestern and North Dakota State probably should have been wins which could have meant a 10-3 finish which would have looked better as a follow up to 2015’s 11-2 season. I’d love to see Iowa breakthrough and get to the playoffs and even win a national championship. I think it would amazing for college football, but I’m not sure Kirk Ferentz is the guy to get that done.

#21 ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS: Completely collapsed in the 2nd half against Virginia Tech in the bowl game to finish 7-6. When Arkansas was playing at full tilt they were one of the most difficult teams to handle let alone defeat, but the team couldn’t find any real consistency from week to week. There isn’t a bad loss on the schedule outside of Missouri, but that also describes the perils of living in the SEC West. If you play anyone of note out of conference, you could easily be a top-20 squad with 4-5 losses on the year.

#22 TEMPLE OWLS: Top-25 teams shouldn’t be losing bowl games to Wake Forest. Temple was without HC Matt Rhule who bolted for Baylor, but the Owls were still able to win the AAC and get to 10 wins. It’s more interesting that Rhule would jump ship at Temple for Baylor. Art Briles showed you could potentially compete for championships in Waco and I suppose Rhule thinks he can get the Bears over the hump. That’s tough. I wonder why he wouldn’t potentially wait for other jobs to open up given the state Baylor’s program is in currently.

 

January 14, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, BYU, Clemson, Colorado, Final Rankings, Florida, Florida St., Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, NCAA, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Penn St., Pittsburgh, Power 25, San Diego St., South Florida, Stanford, Temple, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

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

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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 9 – BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope This might be our first legitimate game that will determine a playoff team. If Clemson can get by Florida St. this weekend then the Tigers have an easy road ahead which should portend to a 12-0 season & I don’t expect them to have trouble in the ACC Championship. A loss for the Seminoles has consequences too. It would mean a possible 9-4 season is a possibility meaning FSU’s last 4 seasons could be: 14-0, 13-1, 10-3 and now 9-4. I don’t think that’s a trend Jimbo Fisher wants to keep seeing. Computer Hope
Computer Hope To be honest I don’t think Utah has ANY IDEA what is in store for them this weekend when the Huskies come to town. If recent trends are any indication then the Utes might lose by 30+. Last week Washington beat Oregon St. 41-17. Two weeks ago Utah beat Oregon St. 19-14. Last week Utah gave up over 500 total yards & 45 points to UCLA. Washington’s offense can run circles around what the Bruins can do. Utah certainly needs the respect a win here would give them, but I think the task is too tough. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This should be a great Big 10 West game with a lot on the line for Nebraska. The once proud & storied program has definitely not seen the heights it achieved in the 1990s which is 20 years ago. A win in Madison could not only drive the Cornhuskers to 8-0, but it would certainly legitimize the team especially if they beat the Badgers by more than 7 which is by how many points both Michigan and Ohio St. beat Wisconsin. It would also set up a tremendous game between Nebraska & Ohio St. next week! Computer Hope
Computer Hope West Virginia has been proving how good they are the last couple of weeks with a dominant defensive win in Lubbock over Texas Tech & then last week’s romp of TCU, but there is still something impressive about going into Stillwater & getting a win. Keep this in mind if you are hoping WVU can get into the playoffs. Earlier in the year Central Michigan went into Stillwater and beat the Cowboys. If West Virginia is for real, this game shouldn’t be anything other than a minor speed bump to 12-0. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s not Alabama and it’s not even in Athens, but finally Florida plays AND finally they play someone of merit! The Gators are really hoping Luke Del Rio plays better in his 2nd game back from injury because last week against Missouri he was awful. Florida’s defense is outstanding & the running game did a great job against Mizzou last week, but Del Rio can’t throw 3 picks and expect to beat LSU. Florida can probably get by UGA, but they need avoid that 2nd SEC loss if they want to win the SEC East. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Ole Miss’ season is turning into a dumpster fire although you can hardly blame them given the schedule they’ve played, but this is a huge opportunity for the Rebels to get a win over a quality opponent. Unfortunately I’m not sure it is going to happen. Auburn is playing as well as anyone in the country! If you had to rank the SEC teams on how they are playing right now, I’d have War Eagle at #2 behind Alabama. Speaking of which, the Iron Bowl is going to be amazing if Auburn keeps winning! Computer Hope
Computer Hope You can certainly make an argument that you can throw out the records when it comes to a rivalry game, but in this case you can certainly keep them in! Michigan St. is having a terrible season while Michigan is making a good case for being the best team in the nation. Throw in the revenge factor for the Wolverines after losing in Ann Arbor last season & you have a recipe for a 59-3 blowout for the Maize and Blue. A bigger question might be what in the world has happened to Michigan St.!? Computer Hope
Computer Hope I really like this game. On the one hand I think it’s a good opportunity for Texas to get a solid road win & the Longhorns have been playing better in Austin than on the road. It probably doesn’t matter at this point but Charlie Strong needs all the help he can get. On the other hand this is a good opportunity for Baylor to bolster its resume a bit. No, Texas isn’t a top-20 team, but they do play physical football and it’ll be a good test for Baylor and a chance to get a valuable conference road win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Virginia Tech can lose this game and still win the ACC Coastal by virtue of having beaten North Carolina, but the even better question might be is whether or not Pittsburgh can win the Coastal if they manage to upset the Hokies!? The answer to that question is probably not because Virginia Tech and North Carolina have easy ACC schedules from this point forward while Pittsburgh has road games against Miami-FL and Clemson after they play VA Tech. Pittsburgh is better than their record. Tough year. Computer Hope
Computer Hope CATHOLICS v. CONVICTS…..well….not really. This is hardly the 1980s when this matchup would have been bananas! Notre Dame is coming into this one 2-5 without a meaningful win to speak of and really no football identity. Miami-FL has lost 3 straight including last week’s 37-16 humiliation in Blacksburg! Jimmy Johnson would have allowed for that when he was in Coral Gables! That said, this is still a cool rivalry game that is fun to watch if only because you are cheering the jerseys! Both need wins badly! Computer Hope

October 28, 2016 Posted by | Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Pittsburgh, Texas, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 9, West Virginia, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 8 – BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Settle in because up to this point this is the most important game of the season. The Aggies got a week of rest while the Tide were in Knoxville destroying Tennessee 49-10. The task here is to try and figure out a way for Texas A&M to win on the road. I think more than anything QB Trevor Knight cannot turn the ball over and DEs Myles Garrett & Daeshon Hall have to have big games getting pressure on Tide QB Jalen Hurts. This is essentially the de facto SEC Championship game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It was interesting to watch the Wolfpack defense defend Deshaun Watson last week in a game NC State should have won & gotten themselves on the national map. They’ll get another chance this weekend in Louisville which shouldn’t be as difficult a place to play. Watson couldn’t get loose against NC State’s defense & I think his draft stock went down a bit because of it. I’m curious to see how Lamar Jackson plays against the Wolfpack & if he can keep his Heisman campaign going. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A white out in Beaver Stadium is  a beautiful sight to behold so there will definitely be pressure on Ohio St. to get it done in yet another road game on the heels of their OT win over Wisconsin in Madison. I don’t think the atmosphere will be insane as it was in Camp Randall, but it might not matter because JT Barrett seems impervious to pressure! Keep in mind though that this is a huge game for James Franklin & the Lions. They need to start proving they belong with Ohio St. and Michigan. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This could turn into the most interesting game of the weekend. Wisconsin is in the middle of brutal stretch of their schedule but they are coming off a home game against Ohio St. and next week they are at home against Nebraska. In the middle is a road game against Iowa against a Hawkeyes team who is starting to play a lot better. Wisconsin’s win over LSU seems like a lifetime ago so they need to start building up some wins. A win here is one step closer to the Big 10 title game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both teams come in with 2 losses but while Arkansas had a rough game at home against Ole Miss, the Tigers of Auburn had the week off. I think this is a really cool game because either team has the chops to finish 10-2 which would be a huge win for both programs and huge confidence boosters for the teams & coaches. Auburn is likely to lose to Alabama to end the season so a win here allows the possibility for a 10 win season. Same goes for Arkansas with a win. Both teams need it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Lost in all the uproar over the Les Miles firing is that the Tigers still control their own destiny despite the losses to Wisconsin & Arkansas. If LSU wins out, they win the SEC West. Win the SEC championship game & make it to the playoffs! It sounds odd, but this is still a very talented & experienced team. Danny Etling gives them a better chance to win over Brandon Harris & Derrius Guice has proven to be a monster. A big win over Ole Miss will start to get people discussing their chances. Computer Hope
Computer Hope While Charlie Strong might not get fired after this game, coaches are now starting to drop. Les Miles was first and now Darrell Hazell from Purdue was let go. Kansas St. isn’t a bad team and a loss here could definitely be the difference between a bowl for Texas. At 3-3, the Longhorns aren’t in any danger of winning the Big XII, but the job is a huge one & everything Strong does is going to be under the microscope which almost makes every week a must watch affair. Another must win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The loss to North Carolina last week all but killed Miami-FL’s chances at winning the ACC Coastal, but Virginia Tech still controls their own destiny even after the road loss at Syracuse this past week. The Coastal is a complete mess at this point and it’s hard to see if anyone is really good considering their out of conference opponents haven’t been so hot. VT lost to Tennessee. UNC lost to Georgia. If Virginia Tech wants to win the Coastal, they need to win this game & beat Pitt next week. Computer Hope
Computer Hope TCU’s defense hasn’t been what it has been known for under Gary Patterson so West Virginia should be able to score some points, but this will be the biggest win to date for WVU if they can get the W in Morgantown. TCU is 4-2 & flying a bit under the radar but both losses were close ones against Oklahoma & Arkansas which is more than understandable. Holding Texas Tech to 17 points in Lubbock was a statement for the Mountaineers. Beating TCU & getting to 6-0 will be another. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Last week against UCLA, Wazzou QB Luke Falk was held without a passing TD for the first time in his career & the Cougars were held without a passing TD for the first time since 2013! Don’t expect a repeat against a Sun Devils defense that currently ranks as the worst pass defense in college football! This is one of those tricky games because ASU can score points too & they’re 5-2. Washington St. is coming off 3 GREAT wins over Oregon, Stanford & UCLA. I hope they don’t let down here. Computer Hope

October 17, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Iowa, Kansas St., Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Mississippi, Must See Games, NC State, NCAA, Ohio St, Penn St., TCU, Texas, Texas AM, Virginia Tech, Washington St., Week 8, West Virginia, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 WEEK 7

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Tennessee is a good football team and Alabama went into Knoxville and proved the Vols to be nothing more than a  high school football team by comparison. The Tide ran for 400+ yards and had more than 600 yards of offense en route to a 49-10 route of UT. It’s worth pointing out that Alabama has wins over USC, Tennessee, Arkansas & Ole  Miss & none of those 4 quality victories came in Tuscaloosa. The gap between the Tide & the rest of college football is considerable. This might be Saban’s best ever Alabama team.
#2 Computer Hope Michigan had the week off but good things happened because their 14-7 win over Wisconsin looks pretty darn good now that Ohio St. needed OT to put the Badgers away. The one difference is that Ohio St. won in  Madison while the Wolverines got it done in Ann Arbor. That actually sort of gives the Buckeyes the advantage but at some point you start rewarding the team with the best player on the field and there isn’t a better player on the field than Jabrill Peppers. He’s the difference maker that can win close games.
#3 Computer Hope Wisconsin is no joke and going into Camp Randall and in that type of environment is a difficult proposition for any squad. That game could have went either way, but the Buckeyes found a way to win and that’s huge. In fact, the win over the Badgers in Madison might be the most impressive win of the season. Ohio St. has two road victories over Oklahoma & Wisconsin which is about as impressive as you can get. This is a young team that has grown up exceptionally fast. Now it all comes down to beating Michigan.
#4 Computer Hope With all due respect to Michigan and Ohio State, the national championship game that I’m rooting for is Alabama taking on Washington. The Huskies are a team that doesn’t beat itself and I’m not sure there is a QB playing better right now than QB Jake Browning. Given that Alabama prides itself on forcing other teams to make mistakes, it’ll be interesting to see them play a team that refuses to beat themselves. The Huskies rush defense would need to get better in the meantime. They couldn’t allow Alabama to run at will.
#5 Computer Hope Another team on bye! I’m sure the Aggies would have loved to have seen Tennessee put up a bigger fight against the Crimson Tide knowing they travel to Tuscaloosa next week. At least Texas A&M gets an extra week of rest in the meantime. Next week’s game should be interesting from a strategy perspective. The problem with playing Alabama is that they can load the box because the corners are so good. A&M has great receivers but they’ve been a running team this year. They’ll need to do both & I’m not sure they can.
#6 Computer Hope If Kyle Bambard has a decent day kicking the ball, Clemson is sitting at 6-1 hoping against hope they win out and 12-1 is enough to get back into the playoffs. Instead, the Clemson D came up big in OT with a Ryan Finley pick to preserve a 24-17 victory and keep them unbeaten at 7-0. The more I watch Clemson the more I think their defense is the reason they are 7-0. Wayne Gallman was knocked out of the game early & Clemson couldn’t find anyone to pick up the slack running the football. Offensively it wasn’t pretty.
#7 Computer Hope More methodical than impressive, Louisville has earned the right to go through the motions every now and then. The 24-14 win over Duke doesn’t look so hot, but it didn’t change anything. Lamar Jackson didn’t have a great day but still ran for 144yds/1TD and passed for 181yds/1TD. One interesting thing about this game is that Louisville ran one more play than the Blue Devils but Duke had the ball for 15 minutes more than the Cardinals. If time of possession was reversed, Louisville wins this game 39-9. Interesting.
#8 Computer Hope You can do a lot worse than go into Ann Arbor and lose by 7 points to Michigan and then host Ohio St. and lose by 7 points in an overtime game. Remember too that Wisconsin is doing all this with a freshman QB making it only more impressive. This is what’s impressive to me about Wisconsin: against both Michigan & Ohio St., the Badgers on average gave up 158 rushing yards on 45 carries (3.5ypc). Against their other opponents, Michigan & Ohio St. average 6.3ypc! The Badgers will win out & get a chance for revenge.
#9 Computer Hope Now THAT was Arkansas football! The Razorbacks had to hold on tight there at the end to get the 34-30 win over Ole Miss, but when you look at the blueprint, it was a masterful job by the Hogs. Austin Allen was good enough throwing for 229 yards & 3TD while the rushing attack carried the day running for 200 yards on 51 carries! Rawleigh Williams had 180yds on 27 carries! Arkansas had the ball for almost 41 minutes and that’s great because Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly was making plays. 10-2 is a real possibility now.
#10 Computer Hope Losing to Alabama 49-10 isn’t the prettiest thing especially when you are in Knoxville and Peyton Manning is in the house, but Alabama is Alabama so it isn’t completely surprising the Vols finally get blown out after living dangerously all season long. Tennessee’s final 5 games are a joke so finishing the season 10-2 should be an afterthought. More importantly is Florida losing another game to give the Vols the SEC East crown. Like Wisconsin, Tennessee should have a chance at the ultimate revenge by the end.
#11 Computer Hope If you love Arkansas then you love Auburn even more. War Eagle goes about their offensive system a little different than the Hogs do but with similar results. Auburn’s 2 losses came in the first 3 weeks against Clemson and Texas A&M, two teams with a combined record of 13-0! Since the loss to A&M, Auburn has won 3 straight by the combined score of 114-34! Sean White has been the answer at QB & the Tigers defense is solid. They host Arkansas this week which should determine who is the 3rd best in the SEC West.
#12 Computer Hope I love West Virginia football but have been hesitant to rank them thus far because I’m superstitious and didn’t want to jinx them! They’ve also had a 2 byes already and after a couple of close wins over BYU & Kansas St., I got the feeling that maybe they were more bark than bite, but not anymore. Beating Texas Tech isn’t amazing, but going into Lubbock and holding the Red Raiders to 17 points & less than 400 total yards!? The Big XII might finally have a team capable of playing defense! This team is for real.
#13 Computer Hope This isn’t the same USC team that started the season 1-3. While I don’t believe the outcome of the Alabama game would be any different, if the Trojans faced  Utah & Stanford again, I think USC comes out ahead by a considerable margin. Sam Darnold has been a revelation. In his last 3 starts, Darnold is completing 67% of his passes for 315yds/G with 11TD to 1INT! This has opened up the rushing attack and consequently the defense is playing even better. Talent has never been an issue, but now said talent is playing!
#14 Computer Hope QB Sefo Liufau was back in the starting lineup after having missed 3 games and didn’t disappoint completing 74% of his passes for 265 yards! He didn’t have to do too much as RB Phillip Lindsay got loose for 219yds/3TD in Colorado’s 40-16 win over Arizona State! It’s amazing to see the difference between the Buffs this year & last. Last year Colorado lost to ASU 48-23! That’s a 49-point swing! Colorado controls their own destiny now. If they win out, they are Pac 12 South champions regardless of what USC does.
#15 Computer Hope Close losses are the worst! Ole Miss can’t hang their heads too much after losing 34-30 to Arkansas in Fayetteville. In my opinion Arkansas is a top-10 team so no shame in losing but Ole Miss is going to have to start winning some of those big close games. This year their 3 losses are to Alabama, Florida St. and Arkansas. They lead by good margins against both the Noles & Tide. They let this one slip away. A telling stat is this: Ole Miss: 1.55pts/min; Arkansas: 0.84pts/min. If TOP is reversed, Ole Miss wins 63-16! Crazy!
#16 Computer Hope The 19-14 win over Oregon St. is a lot better than you think. We all know Gary Andersen can coach and after having got by California the week prior, the Beavers had to be brimming with confidence as they welcomed the Utes into Corvallis. Utah did what Utah does which is run the ball heavy & play good defense. The gameplan didn’t go exactly as planned because Oregon St. did a masterful job controlling the clock themselves with their running attack, but Utah was able to hold off a 2nd half comeback to win it.
#17 Computer Hope The Gators had to feel pretty happy after their 40-14 win over Missouri to see Tennessee get rolled up by Alabama. Now Florida controls their own destiny in the East although that road had away games against Arkansas & LSU that should prove to be more than a bit difficult. QB Luke Del Rio returned to action & looked rusty at best. The Gators did a great job running the ball behind Lamical Perine, Jordan Scarlett & Mark Thompson which took pressure off Del Rio. Florida needs to keep running the ball effectively.
#18 Computer Hope Nebraska has to feel pretty good escaping Bloomington with a 27-22 win over the Hoosiers as Indiana is fast becoming the Big 10 team nobody wants to face for fear of showing up a bit off and having Indiana take advantage en route to an upset victory. The Hoosiers had a disastrous first quarter which gave Nebraska a 17-0 lead, but from that point forward IU beat Nebraska 22-10! The Huskers get a week off before hosting Purdue and then it’s back-to-back road games against Wisconsin & Ohio State. Good luck!
#19 Computer Hope It took the Tigers a half to warm up, but LSU blew the barn doors off Southern Miss in the 2nd half outscoring the Eagles 35-0 in the final 2 quarters in route to a 45-10 win. Once again no Leonard Fournette proved to be a non-issue for LSU as Derrius Guice took the game over rushing for 162yds/2TD on just 10 carries! QB Danny Etling threw 3TD passes & Malachi Dupre & DJ Chark made big plays. The LSU defense also racked up 10 tackles for loss, a season high. It’ll be interesting if the Tigers start playing to their talent.
#20 Computer Hope Boise St. improved to 6-0 with their 28-23 win over Colorado State. I feel about Boise State much the same way I do about Utah. They don’t do anything that is going to make your jaw drop, but they play efficient football with solid defensive effort and that combination leads to victories. The Broncos hear this every season but they can only beat who is on the schedule. The Washington St. win is going to continue to get better and at this point Boise St. going 13-0 is pretty much a foregone conclusion & a major bowl bid.
#21 Computer Hope Beating Tulsa 38-31 doesn’t look like much but Houston did a lot of things right against the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa is a big ground and pound team yet Houston wasn’t affected as they held Tulsa to 94 yards & 35 rushing attempts. Tulsa racked up most of their yardage through the air but it took them 51 passing attempts to get to 365 yards. Houston won time of possession, but shot themselves in the foot with regards to turnovers & penalties. Greg Ward was just OK but Houston ran the ball well enough to get a close win.
#22 Computer Hope The 38-17 win was finally a convincing win for the Sooners after having close calls against TCU & Texas. Oklahoma is now 4-2 but more importantly 3-0 in the Big XII. They get an easy next 3 games which should allow them to run their record to 7-2 before hosting Baylor on November 12th. I wish I could get more excited about Oklahoma, but the Houston loss looks worse & worse now that the Cougars aren’t playing fantastic & the Sooners still don’t play much defense. It’s a dark time for the Big XII and that’s sad.
#23 Computer Hope How about Wazzou’s 27-21 win over UCLA! Talk about Jekyll & Hyde! Washington St. couldn’t get anything going on offense & Luke Falk didn’t have a passing TD for the first time in his career! It was also the first time Wazzou didn’t have a passing TD since Week 2 of 2013 when they beat USC 10-7! The Cougars couldn’t run the ball either so instead they played great defense & forced the Bruins into turnovers. The Cougars are undefeated in conference play & control their own destiny although the Huskies await!
#24 Computer Hope If you want to build up quite a bit hype by the middle of the season, make sure you schedule tremendous cupcakes early in the season to get 3-4 blow out wins. Then get lucky & play the weakest teams in your conference first so it looks like you are blowing everyone out. This is the 2016 Baylor recipe. Sure the Bears are 6-0 and they are winning by an average score of 44-17, but their best win so far is a road win over an Iowa St. team that should have beaten them! The schedule is considerably tougher from this point.
#25 Computer Hope The Wolfpack should have beaten Clemson yesterday & if that happened, how high does NC State climb? The week 2 33-30 road loss to East Carolina seems like a huge outlier at this point and if NC State could get that game back I’m sure they win it by 20-30 points. What was most impressive watching the game yesterday is how much more physical NC State was than Clemson. They beat the Tigers up & bruised them despite losing in OT. If they beat Louisville next week, we are looking at the 2nd best team in the ACC.

DROPPING OUT

#9 VIRGINIA TECH: Beat North Carolina in Chapel Hill 34-3 the week prior. This week lose to Syracuse? The ACC is a mess at this point. From what I can tell Louisville, Clemson & NC State are for real, but the rest of them? The Hokies only real win is against North Carolina. Their next best game might be the loss they took to Tennessee.

#14 GEORGIA: Lose at home to Vanderbilt!? GOOD GRIEF! Georgia can win out & still not deserve to be ranked!

#15 NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels have two losses on the season. The first to Georgia who just lost at home to Vanderbilt. The 2nd to Virginia Tech who just lost to Syracuse! Carolina has some decent wins over Florida St., Miami-FL & Pittsburgh, but FSU is 3-2 in their last 5 and 2 of those 3 wins (against Miami-FL & Wake Forest) are iffy at best. If there is a 4th team after Louiville, Clemson & NC State, it’s probably the Tar Heels but they need to put in some work.

#16 FLORIDA STATE: They were only able to beat Wake Forest 17-6? At home!? In 2013, FSU beat Wake 59-3. In 2014 they beat them 43-3! A win next week over Clemson would be redemptive but I don’t see it happening.

#19 MIAMI-FL: Bad luck is dooming the Hurricanes. They’ve dropped their last 2 games by a total of 8 points. Granted, it was to Florida St. & North Carolina so that’s a couple of losses for most team, but Miami has to be kicking themselves for missed opportunities.

#25 ARIZONA STATE:  They were barely hanging on anyway so the loss to Coloardo simply pushed them out of the top-25.

October 16, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise St., Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Mississippi, NC State, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Power 25, Tennessee, Texas AM, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Week 7, West Virginia, Wisconsin | Leave a comment