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2017 BIG 10 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



BIG 10 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 OL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

THE BIG UGLIES!!! One thing that is incredible about learning as much as you can about football is realizing how important the O-Line play is. If your team can’t block then it’s screwed. I think the evolution of talent evaluation and where it ranks in building a team roster is interesting though. As teams become more pass heavy, it’s important to realize how to build a winning team. You always have to build your team up with a QB, but for the longest time the thought was that after QB, your LT was the most important position. I think in recent NFL drafts you have seen that change in that teams will now be more likely to build their teams at QB first, but then start in with edge rushers, corners and interior defensive linemen. In an odd way this legitimizes just how important the offensive lineman are, because if teams are valuing D-Linemen at an all time high, then the O-Linemen needed to block them must be equally as important.

One things seems certain. You might be able to have a bad team with a good offensive line because you haven’t properly surrounded that particular O-Line with the right pieces, but it’s practically impossible to have a good team with a bad O-Line. This should illustrate just how important these positions are.

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 Jonah Williams/6’5/301lbs/SO: Williams immediately stepped into the starting role at right tackle as a true freshman and didn’t disappoint earning 3rd Team All-SEC honors playing opposing Cam Robinson who was himself a 1st Team All-American. According to Alabama statistics, Williams actually graded out as a better O-Lineman than Robinson which is crazy. Earned Alabama’s offensive player of the week 5 different times. Didn’t allow a sack in games against LSU or Texas A&M! Williams looks like a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Frank Ragnow/6’6/319lbs/SR: Ragnow is the best center in college football and should have no problems being a 1st Team All-American. He’s incredibly smart and will be an NFL starter sooner rather than later. In what has to be one of the most amazing stats of current college football players, Ragnow hasn’t allowed a QB sack for two straight seasons! Arkansas should be a lot better on the O-Line this year with 4 starters returning. Devwah Whaley should run well & Austin Allen will be well protected by Ragnow.
Computer Hope Braden Smith/6’6/305lbs/SR: Smith turned down overtures from the NFL last season to return to Auburn for his senior year. A big nasty on the interior of the Tigers O-Line, Smith will kick out to right tackle this year to help protect new QB Jarrett Stidham, the transfer from Baylor. Smith was a 3rd Team All-American as a junior. He was a 2nd Team All-SEC player as a sophomore and made the All-SEC freshman team as a true frosh. He’s made 27 straight starts. He’ll have no trouble moving to RT this year.
Computer Hope Mitch Hyatt/6’5/295lbs/JR: Hyatt stepped in as a freshman in 2015 and started at LT for 15 starts, protecting Deshaun Watson’s blindside as Clemson barely lost to Alabama 45-40 in the national championship game. He did the same as a sophomore except this time Clemson closed the deal and beat the Crimson Tide 35-31. In two seasons as a starter at LT, Clemson is 28-2 during Hyatt’s tenure. Hyatt was a freshman All-American in 2015 and was 1st Team All-ACC in 2016. He’ll be an integral part for Clemson.
Computer Hope Martez Ivey/6’5/305lbs/JR: An outstanding talent, Ivey was considered the best O-Line prospect in the 2015 high school recruiting class by Phil Steele. The Florida native chose the Gators over practically ever other program in the country. Has made 20 starts at LG over his first two seasons but Florida is finally moving him to LT where they had hoped he would eventually wind up. Ivey should handle the transition well. He earned 2nd Team All-SEC honors last season. Florida has yet to not win the SEC East with Ivey.
Computer Hope Will Clapp/6’3/309lbs/rJR: Clapp was an outstanding interior O-Lineman last year for the Tigers helping Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette combine to rush for 2230 yards & 23TD! Those numbers aren’t a typo! Clapp earned 1st Team All-SEC honors last year at LG and will make the switch to C after Ethan Pocic moved on to the Seattle Seahawks. Pocic was a 2nd Team All-American and I’ve read reports where quite a few people felt Clapp outplayed Pocic at times in 2016. If true, Clapp is in for a monster year.
Computer Hope Maea Teuhema/6’5/315lbs/JR: Big and nasty! Teuhema hasn’t gotten a ton of national attention just yet but I think that is about to change as he’s a legitimate All-American candidate who is going to pave the way for Derrius Guice to have a monster year that should put him in the Heisman discussion. Teuhema was a freshman All-American back in 2015 when he started at LG. Last year he kicked out to RT as a starter but should kick back in to RG this year as his run blocking is outstanding. He could be a 1st Rd. pick.
Computer Hope Mason Cole/6’5/305lbs/SR: Mason Cole became the first player in Wolverines history to start a season opening game on the O-Line back in 2014. Cole has bounced around a bit on Michigan’s O-Line being a tackle in 2015 before being move to center in 2016 an earning 1st Team All-Big 10 honors. Cole will bounce back out to LT this season as the most veteran offensive lineman on Michigan’s line. He’s started in every Michigan game since arriving in Ann Arbor. Cole will be extremely important this year for Michigan.
Computer Hope Brian Allen/6’2/305lbs/SR: Allen is somewhat of an undersized interior lineman who has spent most of his career playing guard for the Spartans but will slide into the center’s role in 2017 for a Michigan St. squad that should be pretty young. Allen is very smart and plays with a mean streak which you see oftentimes in the Big 10 with their interior linemen. He’s been a 2nd Team All-Big 10 lineman the last two seasons. The Spartans will need an outstanding leader on the O-Line and Allen should provide that for Michigan St. in ’17.
Computer Hope Greg Little/6’6/332lbs/SO: Little is HUGE at 6’6/332lbs and has the athleticism and quickness to stick at LT despite his weight. Little really started to get attention in Ole Miss’ 29-28 win at Texas A&M when he held Myles Garrett to just one tackle. Little was considered the best O-Lineman in the 2016 high school class according to Phil Steele and eventually became the starting LT for the Rebels over their last 5 games. He’ll have the responsibility of protecting Shea Patterson’s blindside in what will be a trying season for Ole Miss.
Computer Hope Martinas Rankin/6’5/305lbs/rSR: Rankin came from the junior college ranks to Starkville and didn’t waste much time making an impression. He became the Bulldogs’ starting LT after 3 games and did a great job pass protecting for MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald who had a great season. Rankin also did a solid job in a highly effecting MSU rushing attack. He tested the NFL waters after last season but was given a 2nd round grade so Rankin decided to come back to Mississippi St. and try to improve his draft stock.
Computer Hope Mike McGlinchey/6’8/312lbs/rSR: Amazingly enough Mike McGlinchey never played LT until last season and wound up a 3rd team All-American. McGlinchey is a natural left tackle with a mean streak. He has great size at 6’8 and almost 320lbs. Has elite athleticism and arm length combined with heavy hands. He loves to run block and I’ve read reports where some scouts think he’s quite a bit better than his former teammate Ronnie Stanley who was the 6th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He can get even better.
Computer Hope Quenton Nelson/6’5/329lbs/rJR: Big and nasty, Nelson is arguably the best guard in college football. He’s huge at 6’5/330lbs and has done a great job opening up holes on the defense during his tenure with the Irish. Nelson has somewhat of a mean streak and is incredibly smart. He’s good in pass protection as well and has had excellent coaching from Notre Dame OL coach Harry Hiestand. Combined with McGlinchey, the Irish have two potential All-Americans who could be 1st round picks. I think he’ll get better.
Computer Hope Billy Price/6’4/312lbs/rSR: Price isn’t flash but all he’s done since arriving in Columbus is start every game for the Buckeyes during a 3-year period in which Ohio St. posted a record of 37-4 and was the starting LG for the national championship team of 2014. Price is moving to center and Phil Steele makes him a 1st Team All-American in his annual, putting him above Arkansas’s Frank Ragnow. He’s gotten much better in pass protection and is already an outstanding run blocker. Price is extremely valuable.
Computer Hope Orlando Brown/6’8/360lbs/rJR: Not quite as big as Washington St.’s Cody O’Connell but Brown is enormous at 6’8/360lbs. Brown had a banner year last season earning 2nd Team All-American honors and being named the Big 12’s offensive lineman of the year. Brown will be a tricky NFL grade. He’s outstanding for the Sooners protecting Baker Mayfield in their high octane offense but he has trouble being in a 3-point stance and is obviously not very quick at the point of attack. Gotta love his size though.
Computer Hope Connor Williams/6’6/288lbs/JR: Immediately started at LT for the Longhorns as a true freshman and earned Freshman All-American honors. Followed that up last season as a sophomore by become only the 4th player in Texas history to be a 1st Team All-American as a true sophomore! Williams will be immensely important in Texas’s ability to compete in the Big XII because he needs to keep QB Shane Buechele upright. He needs to put on a bit more weight to his frame, but he’s probably NFL ready right now.
Computer Hope Scott Quessenberry/6’4/315lbs/rSR: Quessenberry has racked up 30 career starts for the Bruins and is the most veteran lineman for UCLA’s squad this season. I think Quessenberry is going to be an integral part of UCLA’s season because of the return of Josh Rosen. Rosen needs to have a huge season after his disappointing 2016 campaign and obviously having a great center would be important. Quessenberry is a smart savvy player on the interior and should do a great job quarterbacking the O-Line for UCLA.
Computer Hope Trey Adams/6’8/320lbs/JR: Adams enters the 2017 collegiate football season as arguably the best O-Line prospect in college football. He’s ENORMOUS at 6’8/320lbs with the athletic ability to play LT. Last season Adams was a 1st Team All-Pac 12 lineman and also garnered 2nd Team All-American honors. Adams really got noticed with how well he played against Alabama’s fantastic edge rushers in last year’s playoffs. He has great athleticism for his size & should continue to get better. He’s a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft.
Computer Hope Cody O’Connell/6’8/370lbs/rSR: When your nickname is “THE CONTINENT” you belong on a Terrific 20 list! O’Connell is obviously enormous and it’s interesting that he plays guard in the sense that he’s so tall at 6’8 that most coaches feel that a man of his size would clog up the passing lanes. Oddly enough Luke Falk had no problems passing for almost 4500 yards with almost 40TDs! He’s obviously not athletic enough to play in the NFL at a tackle spot but he was a 1st Team All-American guard last year!
Computer Hope Beau Benzschawel/6’6/316lbs/rJR: A kid from Wisconsin with the name Beau Benzschawel is simply destined to play on the offensive line for the Badgers. Benzschawel started in all of Wisconsin’s 14 games last year at RG and earned 2nd Team All Big 10 honors. Benzschawel is a terrific interior lineman with excellent size at 6’6 and almost 320lbs. He’s got a real chance to be a 1st Team All-American this year & make himself into a 1st Round NFL Draft pick. Wisconsin always turns out solid O-Lineman.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Alex Leatherwood/Alabama/6’6/327lbs: Arguably the best O-Lineman in the 2017 recruiting class, Leatherwood enrolled early at Alabama and is now the projected starting RT for the Crimson Tide going into the season. Leatherwood was a Parade All-American as a HS senior and also an Under Armour All-American. It’s not like Alabama’s depth chart is devoid of talent. There are high school All-Americans everywhere so the fact that Leatherwood immediately steps into the starter’s role means something. It means even more considering Alabama is the odds on favorite to win the national championship. Leatherwood should move to LT when Jonah Williams moves on and I’m guessing that Leatherwood is a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Foster Sarell/Stanford/6’7/320lbs and Walker Little/Stanford/6’7/315lbs: It feels wrong to have a Terrific 20 list of offensive linemen and not see anyone from Stanford or Iowa make the list. Sarell and Little could rectify that problem for the Cardinal as soon as this year. According to Phil Steele, Sarell was the best O-Line recruit in the 2017 class while Little was considered a top-10 O-Lineman. Both immediately become the most talented O-Linemen on the Stanford roster the minute they hit campus and I can’t help but think they won’t get significant playing time early. Both are tall. Both have the requisite bulk to play at the collegiate level so neither should require any redshirting to get their size up enough to play in the Pac 12. David Bright is the projected starting LT this year but Bright is 6’5/299lbs and spent time at left guard last season. The projected RT is AT Hall who is 6’3/287lbs, hardly the right size to play a mauling tackle position on the strong side. Hall started 13 games at tackle last year with 11 of them coming on the left side, but he’s projected to slide right. I wouldn’t be shocked if Sarell and Little take over the tackle spots at some point this season.

Jack Anderson/Texas Tech/6’5/315lbs: A Texas Tech legacy, Anderson was a high school All-American who turned down offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami-FL, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA for a chance to play for the Red Raiders. He was the crown jewel for Kliff Kingsbury’s 2017 recruiting class and is projected to start right away fro the Red Raiders at guard. Anderson is an incredibly smart and intense O-Lineman that likes to maul. Guard suits him well and that is probably where he will wind up in the NFL, but at Texas Tech I could see him eventually move to RT. I think it’s a big year for Texas Tech. They break in a new starter at QB after Pat Mahomes left for the Kansas City Chiefs, but if Anderson works out then the O-Line should be really good with 3 starters returning at WR. Kingsbury & Texas Tech need to get to a bowl. Anderson could be a big part of that up front on the interior line.

Tommy Kraemer/Notre Dame/6’6/313lbs: Kraemer is arguably the most talented O-Lineman in the 2016 recruiting class but actually redshirted last season because the Irish O-Line depth was so deep. Mike McGlinchey & Alex Bars were the starting tackles. Quenton Nelson & Collin McGovern were the guards while Sam Mustipher held down the center position. Bars is moving to RG because ND can’t keep Kraemer down any longer and he’s projected to be the right tackle. The Irish are in a unique situation because in reality they could have as many as 4 potential All-Americans on the O-Line in McGlinchey, Nelson, Bars & Mustipher. ND also has a TREMENDOUS amount of weapons on offense with guys like Josh Adams, Alize Mack, Durham Smythe and Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin, CJ Sanders, Chase Claypool and Dexter Williams. What will be interesting is the play of QB Brandon Wimbush who is coming off a redshirt year watching Deshone Kizer. The left side of the O-Line has McGlinchey & Nelson. Those guys are going to hold up, but that leaves Kraemer on the right side. If he can hold up his end then Wimbush should have all day to do whatever he wants with the weapons around him.

Obinna Eze/Memphis/6’8/283lbs: Eze is a name probably a bit off the beaten path but I thought this situation was intriguing. Memphis returns practically their entire team except the LT spot which is open. Eze seems like an ideal candidate to red shirt seeing that he’s 6’8/283lbs which is HUGE but light for sure. He could stand to gain 40lbs and he’d still be fairly thin for a guy 6’8. Even so, he’s the most talented O-Lineman on the Memphis roster and right now the projected LT is Harneet Gil who is pretty light himself at 6’7/277lbs. Gil is also coming off a redshirt so he has as much playing time at Memphis in 2016 as Eze does. Memphis is going to score and they are going to score a ton with guys like Riley Ferguson, Dorland Dorceus, Tony Pollard and Anthony Miller. Whoever plays LT for the Tigers will be responsible for Ferguson’s blindside which is going to be very important. If Eze becomes that guy, he’ll have a significant impact on how good Memphis can be in 2017.

August 16, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., NCAA, Notre Dame, Offensive Linemen, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA, Washington, Washington St., Wisconsin | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 TE FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20 – TOP 20 RBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Let the previews for the 2017 NCAA Football season begin! I’m going to try and tack a little different this year. I’ll preview the conferences too, but I thought I would change things up with my “Terrific 20” series which will chronicle the best 20 players at a given position. I’m going to start with running backs and go from position to position in whatever order strikes my fancy. One thing to keep in mind is that I’m listing the top-20 in alphabetical order by team name. I thought about trying to rank the top-20 players at a position from #1 to #20, but found it too difficult and in some circumstances I was simply splitting hairs.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Damien Harris/5’11/216lbs/JR: Harris is an elite RB which is what we’ve come to expect out of Alabama, but he almost is overlooked at times because of the presence of Bo Scarbrough. It comes down to a couple of reasons. Scarbrough is a lot bigger than Harris & in some ways is a better NFL prospect. Scarbrough also scores more TDs. Don’t let it fool you. Harris averaged 7.3ypc in SEC play last year and 7.1ypc against winning teams. Both marks mind you were better than what Scarbrough posted.
Computer Hope Bo Scarbrough/6’2/232lbs/rJR: What separates Scarbrough for me is his ability to turn it on when the lights are brightest. Last season against Auburn (Iron Bowl), Florida (SEC title), Washington (Playoff) and Clemson (National title), Scarbrough ran for 454yds & 6TD on 63 carries for a 7.2ypc average. Scarbrough has breakaway speed as well for being a big man. His longest run was an 84-yard TD run against Tennessee last season. Scarbrough should break through the 1,000 yard barrier this season.
Computer Hope Kamryn Pettway/6’0/237lbs/rJR: After redshirting his first season and getting no run time his freshman year, Pettway made the most of his rSO season running for 1,224 yards & 7TD in what was War Eagle’s lone bright spot offensively in 2016. His efforts garnered him a 1st Team All-SEC nod. Pettway is a methodical runner using his massive size to bowl over defenses. Pettway missed 4 games in 2016 & had a 4-game stretch where he ran for 770yds including a 236-yard explosion against Mississippi!
Computer Hope Nick Chubb/5’10/228lbs/SR: If not for the injury in 2015, Chubb probably would have been the first RB taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. If he had returned for his senior season, Chubb would be without a doubt the best RB coming back to college football. The injury in 2015 has dampened the enthusiasm towards the Georgia native, but Chubb ran reasonably well last season and now he’s even more removed from the 2015 knee injury. The real question is whether or not Chubb can find the form he had as a frosh?
Computer Hope Sony Michel/5’11/222lbs/SR: It’s easy to forget that Michel was actually more highly touted coming out of high school than Chubb. That changed after Chubb’s breakout freshman season but Michel filled in admirably when Chubb went down in 2015. Oddly enough when you look at Michel’s rate stats, he struggled in 2016 as well and I wonder if it had something to do with him having to go back to splitting carries with his running buddy. Love Michel’s game & would love to see him run wild on a top defense.
Computer Hope Akrum Wadley/5’11/195lbs/SR: Wadley keeps getting better and better every year. Not a huge back at 5’11/195lbs but still an NFL prospect who has increased his rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing TDs in each year he’s been in Iowa City. Another interesting note about Wadley is that he’s increased his longest run in each year as well while averaging 6+ypc in Big 10 play. Iowa will depend on Wadley more than ever this season & I think he’s poised for a huge year. He’ll run behind a solid O-Line so expect big numbers.
Computer Hope Derrius Guice/5’11/212lbs/JR: In my opinion the hands down best RB in college football this season. Guice simply runs angry and he’s liable to break off a 90-yard TD run at any moment. Guice took advantage of a Leonard Fournette injury last year and turned it into a sophomore campaign that saw Guice rush for 1387yds & 13TD while averaging 7.6ypc! He’s going to be running behind an OUTSTANDING O-Line with an experienced QB. There really isn’t anything Guice is capable of doing on a football field. Heisman favorite!
Computer Hope LJ Scott/6’1/231lbs/JR: There hasn’t been a lot of bright spots for Michigan St. football this past offseason but Scott should be able to turn that around this year. The Spartans are in for a huge rebuilding effort with only 8 starters returning, but Scott is a big powerful back who can carry a team if he can stay healthy. Last year against Michigan, Scott ran for 139yds & a TD on just 22 carries. Against Ohio St. he ran for 160yds & a TD on 19 carries. If he can run like he did in those two games over a full season, he’ll open up some eyes!
Computer Hope Damorea Crockett/5’11/225lbs/SO: Crockett was an original commit to Boise St,. but switched to Mizzou late and then flashed incredible potential  when he ran for 145 yards on just 14 carries against Florida. The following week he went for 156 against Middle Tennessee arresting the starting spot from Ish Witter & establishing himself as THE Tigers RB. He ended the season with 154 against Vandy & 225 against Tennessee! Was suspended the final game against Arkansas, but all in all had an impressive frosh season. Big time talent.
Computer Hope Tyrone Owens/5’9/187lbs/rJR: Hard not to be impressed with Owens production last season. Despite splitting carries with Teriyon Gipson, Owens still managed to rush for 1,097 yards & 7TD while averaging a fantastic 8.0ypc! He even missed a game! Owens put up some big numbers against tough defenses in Air Force & Boise State. He also went over 100 yards in 5 different games. Owens is likely going to split carries with Richard McQuarley in the Lobos run heavy offense, but he could go for 1500 & 15TD if the season breaks right.
Computer Hope Justin Jackson/5’11/193lbs/SR: Jackson is poised to become Northwestern’s all-time leading rusher in 2017. He has 4,129 career rushing yards & the record is 4,485 held by Damien Anderson. It should take Jackson 3 games to get there. Jackson is also 9 rushing TDs away from becoming the all-time leading rushing TD leader in Wildcats history. Jackson isn’t a huge big play threat but he can grind out for 5.0ypc which keeps the chains moving. He can also catch passes out of the backfield. What can you say? The guy is a football player!
Computer Hope Josh Adams/6’2/220lbs/JR: I think Adams is flying under the radar because of Notre Dame’s disaster of a 4-8 season in 2016, but he flashes big time skill. Adams torched Virginia Tech, USC & Miami-FL last season, schools with an immense amount of talent, so Adams can run over elite talent. He also has the ability to break off big runs. Most importantly, Notre Dame brings back 4 O-Linemen with 3 of them being potential All-Americans! Dexter Williams, Tony Jones & Brandon Wimbush are going to run, but Adams is a dark horse Heisman contender.
Computer Hope Mike Weber/5’10/214lbs/SO: Weber’s biggest problem this season might be getting enough touches. He split time with JT Barrett last season & still rolled up 1,096 yards & 9TD! Weber had a great game against Oklahoma last season and then it was a mixed bag at times. I’d love to see him get 18-20 carries a game because I think he could handle it, but that seems unlikely with Barrett returning and the Ohio St. depth chart at tailback. Still, Weber is a big guy with speed & hands. Those aren’t exactly a dime a dozen so I hope he’s used more.
Computer Hope Royce Freeman/5’11/231lbs/SR: Freeman dealt with injuries quite a bit last year but still managed to lead the Ducks in rushing with 945 yards & 9TD! Freeman got healthy towards the end of the season & finished the year with 3 straight 100+ yard games against Stanford, Utah and Oregon State. If healthy, Freeman is a threat to rush for 1500+ yards & 20TD. He’s going to become Oregon’s all time leading rusher at some point this season & being 5’11/231lbs, he’s definitely got NFL size. Willie Taggart is lucky to have Freeman in his first season.
Computer Hope Saquon Barkley/5’11/228lbs/JR: Barkley really jump started his hype train in the Rose Bowl when he torched USC for 194 yards & 2TD on just 19 carries in Penn St.’s 52-49 dramatic loss. It was a good thing too because Barkley’s previous 4 games were very lackluster. Another feather in Barkley’s cap is that he supposedly ran a 4.33 40-yard dash this offseason which is unheard for a RB that takes the rock as much as Barkley does. Barkley had an incredible season and it could be even better in 2017 as Penn St. is very much a national title contender.
Computer Hope Chris Warren/6’2/252lbs/JR: That isn’t a typo. Warren really is a 6’2/252lbs running back with wheels! Warren was poised for a huge year last season before going down with injury after playing in only 4 games. In his last 2 games against Oklahoma St. & California, Warren ran for a combined 225 yards & 2TD while averaging 8.0 ypc! His injury opened the door for D’Onta Foreman to have an incredible season, but I’d expect Warren to pick up where he left off & Texas will be infinitely better under Tom Herman where Warren should excel.
Computer Hope Trayveon Williams/5’9/200lbs/SO: Outside of Derrius Guice, Williams was the most electric RB I watched in 2016. Williams has incredible agility combined with break away speed. As a true frosh he averaged 7.3ypc against the SEC! He averaged 8.2ypc against winning teams! Williams torched Auburn, Arkansas & Tennessee and even had to split time with Keith Ford & Trevor Knight. Williams is likely to split time with Ford once again this season, but he’s big enough to handle the full load. I’m not sure Sumlin can afford not to feed him.
Computer Hope Ronald Jones/6’1/195lbs/JR: Jones is a play maker with fantastic speed so I can see why a lot of people are hyping him up, but a deeper look is troubling. Jones ran for over 1,000 yards with 12TD last season but he ran it up against some terrible rush defenses. When he went head to head with Saquon Barkley in the Rose Bowl, Barkley badly outran him. I’m buying the hype to be sure, but I can’t wait this season for Jones to show how effective he can be against solid rush defenses. He’ll get his chances & I think he’ll come through.
Computer Hope Myles Gaskin/5’10/191lbs/JR: Gaskin reminds me a bit of Justin Jackson in that he doesn’t have that explosive level of running the way Derrius Guice or Saquon Barkley has, but he’ll grind down a defense in a way that it doesn’t look that amazing but you look up and it’s in the 3rd quarter and you he’s ran for 120 yards! Like Jackson, Gaskin is likely going down as UW’s all time leading rusher & could possibly even do it this year if he has a huge season. The Huskies bring back a solid O-Line & Jake Browning so Gaskin should be impressive.
Computer Hope Justin Crawford/6’0/202lbs/SR: I can’t figure out why nobody is talking about this guy! A JUCO transfer in to West Virginia last season, Crawford took advantages to injuries to Rushel Shell and turned it into 1184 yards & 4TD! Most impressive to me is that Crawford averaged 8.2ypc in Big XII play which included a 331 yard game against Oklahoma where Crawford averaged 13.8ypc!! Crawford averaged 8.4ypc against winning teams and shouldn’t be splitting time with Shell this season. This year Crawford will start impressing NFL decision makers.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Cameron Akers/Florida State/5’11/213lbs: Akers got to FSU early this spring so he could definitely see a ton of run time in the Seminoles offense. Dalvin Cook is off the NFL but Cook showed just how productive an elite running back can be in the Florida St. offense. Jacques Patrick returns, but he hasn’t gotten a ton of run time playing behind Dalvin Cook so Akers could come in and steal away carries and potentially take the job as lead back. Akers also has ready made size for the collegiate game at 5’11/213lbs. For freshman it is a lot about opportunity and Akers should have that in Tallahassee.

Anthony McFarland/Maryland/5’8/185lbs: The Maryland situation at tailback is a little tricky given how dominant Ty Johnson was on the surface. Looking at Johnson’s raw stats (1,004 rushing yards & 9.1ypc!!!) makes you wonder why in the world HC DJ Durkin wasn’t feeding him the rock 20-25 times a game. I’ve read reports saying Johnson is OK with the distribution of carries. McFarland is a smallish back but he has ELITE speed with home run ability. If the Terps share the ball quite a bit then McFarland has a chance to get his fair share of carries with the potential to earn even more should he be successful. A close look at Johnson’s splits in 2016 show that he might have been racking up numbers against inferior opponents. If that trend holds true, then McFarland will get his opportunities.

Cordarrian Richardson/Central Florida/6’0/240lbs: An incredible get for HC Scott Frost, Richardson is a man-child at 240lbs as a true freshman! Jawon Hamilton was the starter last year as a freshman himself but underwhelmed in 8 starts rushing for 495yds/4TD/3.6ypc. Hamilton is also a bit smaller at 5’9/190lbs meaning UCF is going to have more of a runner that can overpower defenses with his physicality if they go with Richardson. Richardson also walks into a very nice situation. The Knights return their starting QB McKenzie Milton, they return 4 starters on the O-Line with 4 of the 5 projected starters being upperclassmen. They also return 8 of their top-9 receivers so Richardson won’t have to worry about defenses isolating him because UCF should be balanced on offense.

Trey Sermon/Oklahoma/6’0/220lbs: With Joe Mixon & Samaje Perine headed off to the NFL, Oklahoma has a gaping hole at tailback that new coach Lincoln Riley is going to need to fill. It’s Oklahoma so there is quite a bit on the depth chart, but Sermon brings an interesting mix to the table. He’s likely the most talented back on the roster and at 6’0/220lbs, he’s got quite a bit of size to take on defenders and keep going. Rodney Anderson is a big boy too at 6’2/223lbs, but Anderson has essentially missed the last two seasons with injuries so his health is a bit of a question mark. Sermon arrived early in Norman this past spring so he’s had quite a bit of time to learn the offense. I think he’ll get some opportunities early and if he makes the most of them, I think it’ll be hard for Oklahoma to not give him the ball. He’ll be running behind an incredible offensive line with a Heisman favorite at QB. It’s an ideal situation.

Michael Carter/North Carolina/5’9/185lbs: Opportunity is important for freshman and Carter might have a chance to shine in Chapel Hill now that Elijah Hood has moved on from the Tar Heels. Hood was incredibly successful in Larry Fedora’s system and with the Tar Heels not having a running QB in projected starter Brandon Harris (Transfer from LSU), the running back should be the primary ball carrying threat. Jordon Brown looks like he is going to get some carries but he didn’t impress last season when he got a few opportunities so Carter could potentially snag the starters role if things break right. One thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes runners are red shirted because they aren’t big enough. Carter is 5’9/185lbs which isn’t the biggest guy on the block. If UNC think he’s got a couple of more inches to grow and another 25lbs to put on, they could wait until he’s 5’11/210lbs which would make for a more powerful running back.

June 28, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Michigan St., Missouri, New Mexico, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Running Backs, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Washington, West Virginia | 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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 13 – BIG GAMES

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

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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 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

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 WEEK 5

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope There is nothing Alabama has done to hurt their ability to be the #1 team. In fact, you can make a case for the Tide, Ohio St. or Clemson & it would be hard to think any of them aren’t deserving. One thing that Alabama isn’t doing over the last two weeks is putting the hammer down on their opponents. Over the last two weeks Alabama has beaten Kent St. 48-0 and Kentucky 34-6. Those are beatings to be sure, but I think we are all waiting for Alabama to beat those teams 63-0. A bit more style from Alabama please!
#2 Computer Hope Clemson needed a late 4th quarter TD drive to beat Louisville 42-36, but the Tigers got a HUGE win over a Louisville team that can certainly make a case for being the best team in the nation. QB Deshaun Watson had an incredible game but to me the story of the game was Clemson’s D-Line. The Tigers sacked Louisville QB Lamar Jackson 5 times, picked him off once, had 10 tackles for loss and 9 QB hurries! If Clemson’s D-Line continues to play like that for the rest of the season, they have the ability to win a championship!
#3 Computer Hope Right now it’s hard to argue Ohio St. isn’t the hottest team in the country. They aren’t simply beating teams. They are destroying teams. There was a lot of talk this weekend about how much difference Ohio St. is this year than last because of how bad they are beating teams. Last year Ohio St. won their first 4 and were +89 in point differential. This year through their first 4 games the Buckeyes are +191 so there is some validity for that argument. At the same time, the schedule has been about as soft as Charmin.
#4 Computer Hope Going on the road to Clemson and losing 42-36 is hardly anything the hang your head over. I think Louisville came out a little flat in the first half & gave up a few too many big plays. It took Lamar Jackson a couple of series to really get warmed up and the defense gave up a couple of big plays. It happens. Louisville didn’t do anything to diminish their playoff resume in my opinion. The Cardinals need Clemson to go 13-0, to hammer Houston, &  hope there aren’t 4 undefeated teams from Power-5 conferences.
#5 Computer Hope If Michigan doesn’t miss 3 field goals then they beat the Badgers 23-7 instead of 14-7. I really liked Michigan’s dedication to the run despite not being terribly successful with it. Wisconsin’s defense is no joke & the Wolverines were able to make big plays at times. A lot of credit goes to Michigan’s defense. They all but shut down Wisconsin’s running game and picked off QB Alex Hornibrook three times. Michigan St. losing to Indiana throws the Big 10 into a bit of turmoil. It’s not entirely clear how good team are.
#6 Computer Hope Michigan looks like a playoff caliber team and Wisconsin went into the Big House with a rookie QB and almost pulled off a stunning victory. It’s almost IMPOSSIBLE for a team to beat 3 top-10 teams in the same season especially with those 3 games away from home. The fact that Wisconsin was able to pull off wins over LSU & Michigan St. speaks volumes for the team. Like Louisville, Wisconsin didn’t do anything to damage their playoff chances. They get a bye week before Ohio State. Win that one & everything changes.
#7 Computer Hope The 44-6 win over Stanford was the type of win Washington needed to establish the program as a national power once again. It’s debatable as to how good  Stanford is, but after watching this game I feel as if Washington might be the most complete team in the nation. Jake Browning is a QB that isn’t going to make mistakes. Myles Gaskin is a tremendous RB but Lavon Coleman stole the show for me. The D-Line is relentless & the receivers are blazing fast especially John Ross. The have to win at Oregon.
#8 Computer Hope Beating South Carolina 24-13 was a little too close for my liking but the Aggies were without DE Myles Garrett, WR Ricky Seals-Jones and WR Speedy Noil. WRs Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds were still around but obviously A&M wasn’t at full strength. Trevor Knight continues to do a tremendous job running & throwing the football. Along with Trayveon Williams, A&M’s rushing attack is as lethal as any in the nation. Their next two games come against Alabama  & Tennessee. That should tell us quite a bit.
#9 Computer Hope Houston is entirely too good for the American Athletic Conference. This week the Cougars hammered UConn 42-14 as Greg Ward passed for 389 yards & 3TD while also running for 65 yards & 2TD. Houston’s rush defense was also tremendous. The Oklahoma win is going to look better & better especially if the Sooners wind up winning the Big XII, but what  Houston needs to focus on is getting to Louisville. If Houston can get a win over the Cardinals & win the AAC, then the playoffs are in play.
#10 Computer Hope Don’t be shocked if Memphis is 10-1 when they host Houston on November 25th. It’ll be for the AAC-West title with the Tigers likely having a chance to derail Houston’s dream season assuming the Cougars defeat Louisville. With that said, Ole Miss ripped through Memphis like it was nothing en route to a 48-28 win in Oxford. Chad Kelly threw for almost 400 yards and the Ole Miss running attack almost went for 300! The defense could have been a bit tighter but did force 4 turnovers. This was a solid win.
#11 Computer Hope GOOD GRIEF THEY DID IT AGAIN!!! Tennessee is sort of becoming reminiscent of Auburn when the Tigers won the national championship in 2010 or Clemson last year when they got to the title game. The Vols looked like they were in for their first loss between the hedges when Josh Dobbs hit the Hail Mary to Jauan Jennings for a 43-yard game winning TD. Never mind the fact that Jacob Eason hit Riley Ridley for a 47-yard TD with 10 seconds left to give Georgia a 31-28 lead. UT just keeps winning.
#12 Computer Hope Auburn played Auburn football Saturday & blitzed UL-Monroe 58-7 behind 410 rushing yards & 5 rushing TDs! Gus Malzahn probably didn’t handle the QB situation that great in Week 1 against Clemson, but Sean White has been the starter ever since & in his 4 starts he’s gone 68/93 (73%) for 843 yards & 5TD without throwing an interception. In those 4 games the Tigers are averaging 5.5ypc. War Eagle isn’t getting a lot of love but they’ve only lost to A&M and Clemson and both were close losses. This team is dangerous.
#13 Computer Hope As I said last week when Clemson faced Georgia Tech, road wins over the Yellow Jackets aren’t easy. Miami-FL’s defense wasn’t as disciplined as Clemson and had a hard time stopping the GT running attack, but Miami did enough on offense and forced GT into 3 turnovers which was enough for Miami-FL to get a 35-21 win. I love that Miami-FL is playing well because I think they are good it’s good for college football but THE U gets FSU, UNC, VT, Notre Dame & Pittsburgh in their next 5 games! Good grief!
#14 Computer Hope I knew something was different about Colorado when they hammered Colorado St. to open the season 44-7. Since then they’ve done nothing to dispel that notion. This week’s 47-6 win over Oregon St. is exactly the kind of performance you’d expect from a contending team. Freshman QB Steven Montez was a bit sharper & UC’s running attack is nothing if not punishing. The Buffs led 37-6 at halftime! Colorado’s only loss is a road loss to Michigan. They get USC next week. They’ll move up with a win there.
#15 Computer Hope Georgia is a tough team to rank right now because they’ve lost two straight games, but the losses have come against Tennessee & Ole Miss so how bad can the Dawgs be? The opening week win over North Carolina looks amazing now that the Tar Heels beat Florida St. this past weekend. Georgia can make a strong argument they should have beaten Tennessee, but you have to remember that Georgia got pretty lucky taking the lead with 10 seconds left. If UGA can beat Florida, they could finish 10-2.
#16 Computer Hope That was a huge win for North Carolina and even though the final was 37-35, it’s worth remembering that the Tar Heels took a 28-14 lead into the 4th quarter. It’s even more amazing that UNC got a win with Dalvin Cook rushing for 140 yards & 3TD and totaling 106 receiving yards! The Heels lost their first game to South Carolina last year before winning 11 straight & winning the ACC Coastal. With no Clemson or Louisville on the schedule, the same could happen again this year which is an amazing run for the Heels.
#17 Computer Hope Not ready to give up on Florida St. just yet but the defense is a serious problem. Against FBS teams, FSU is allowing 42.3 points per game. That would rank as the 6th worst defense among FBS teams thus far. With the sort of talent Florida St. has on that side of the ball, giving up 40+PPG is criminal. We saw what happened at Notre Dame when the defense was garbage. I don’t know if DC Charles Kelly is in danger, but he’s got to get the defense turned around. They can’t score 35 points and lose games.
#18 Computer Hope Oklahoma had a solid attack in a 52-46 road win over TCU. It’s the Big XII so we can sort of expect that defense is optional at this point, but QB Baker Mayfield was very efficient and the rushing attack behind Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine ran extremely well. To be fair to Oklahoma, their only losses are to Ohio State and Houston, two undefeated teams. It’s entirely possible those teams finish 13-0. If the Sooners win out they are 10-2. They are probably out of playoff contention but can win the Big XII & a bowl.
#19 Computer Hope Arkansas got busy Saturday against Alcorn St. in a 52-10 win that saw the Razorbacks rush for 353 yards & 3TD while averaging 9.3ypc! Arkansas is a solid team, but like the days under Bobby Petrino, they need to start making a splash in the SEC West. Being 4-1 is nice but they can make big gains over the next two weeks as Alabama & Ole Miss come to Fayetteville. The remaining schedule is about as nasty as you can imagine so it’ll be interesting to see if Arkansas can stay in some low scoring affairs.
#20 Computer Hope Beating Vanderbilt 13-6? Color me unimpressed. The Gators couldn’t get loose on the ground and Austin Appleby couldn’t find the endzone. If Vanderbilt doesn’t turn the ball over 3 times the Gators might have been up against their 2nd straight loss to a team from the Volunteer state. At some point Florida is going to have to score some points which is odd to say considering Jim McElwain is an offensive guy. At this point Florida’s defense is carrying the team, but they’ll face much tougher teams than Vandy!
#21 Computer Hope Eeek. It took Nebraska 3 quarters to wake up against Illinois but managed to score 21 points in the 4th quarter to defeat the Illini 31-16 and get to 5-0! The Oregon win doesn’t look nearly as good now that the Ducks are completely in the tank and have lost to both Colorado and Washington State. I love how the Huskers are playing ball. Tommy Armstrong has never looked better while Terrell Newby & Devine Ozigbo keep running wild. Indiana & Purdue should be wins but Ohio St. & Wisconsin come calling.
#22 Computer Hope On the one hand you can argue that Baylor didn’t really deserve to win that game. On the other hand, you can argue that Iowa St. should have never really bee in the game given that the Bears rushed for 469 yards & 5TD while averaging 7.6ypc! Baylor is going to keep winning but the Big XII is so damaged that even if they go 12-0, could you argue the Bears should be a playoff team over an 11-1 Louisville squad? I guess they need to keep winning games, but the Big XII is a disaster. They need to fix the conference.
#23 Computer Hope The Hokies are coming off a bye week and although they haven’t really beaten anyone yet, the loss to Tennessee keeps looking pretty good especially when you consider that Virginia Tech beat Tennessee for a half. Their schedule isn’t exactly easy but the Hokies do avoid Clemson, Florida State and Louisville. A win in Chapel Hill could catapult Virginia Tech into the national discussion. I don’t think they can win the ACC but finishing 11-2 with a Coastal title is nothing to cry about. It’s a huge step for this program.
#24 Computer Hope Missouri isn’t a very good team, but LSU played the kind of football it can play & still win out. They might need some luck to beat Alabama, but they get the Tide in Death Valley so who knows. Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams are outstanding and if Leonard Fournette comes back, the Tigers have a RB capable of taking it to the house on every single down with almost no chance of anyone getting tired. If Danny Etling can manage games & the defense gets loose, why can’t LSU finish 10-2 or 9-3?
#25 Computer Hope Let’s just say Stanford caught Washington at a really bad time combined with the Cardinal having a really bad game. On the bright side Stanford still has wins over UCLA & USC which look pretty good and should continue to look better as those two squads are actually good football teams albeit not ELITE ones. Stanford can right the ship over the next three weeks with win over Washington St., Colorado & Notre Dame. That would make them 6-1 and an 11-1 season isn’t out of the qustion for the Cardinal.

DROPPING OUT

#21 MICHIGAN STATE: Losing to Wisconsin is one thing. Losing to Indiana? That’s unacceptable. The win over Notre Dame is garbage now given that the Irish lost a home game to Duke. I don’t know what Michigan St. does from here. They still get Ohio St. & Michigan which means 8-4 is the best they can hope for. Just a brutal 24-21OT loss to the Hoosiers that effectively kills their season.

#23 SAN DIEGO STATE: A loss to South Alabama? That went south fast for the Aztecs.

#24 UTAH: The loss at California isn’t that big of a deal I suppose but the Pac 12 gets quirky. Utah loses to Cal but Cal lost to Arizona St. who just got blown out by USC. Either the Pac 12 has a lot of teams that should be ranked or it has a lot of teams that are just OK with one really potentially great team in Washington. Who knows? Utah still has a shot to win the South, but every week seems to be confusion for most of the Pac 12.

#25 ARIZONA STATE: Losing to USC isn’t the end of the world, but what a mess the Pac 12 South is. It’s crazy to think the Sun Devils defense is this bad.

October 2, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Power 25, San Diego St., Stanford, Tennessee, Texas AM, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 5, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 WEEK 4

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope The 59-28 win over Marshall was much more lopsided than it looked. Louisville was up 35-7 at halftime and 52-7 after 3 quarters. Marshall scored 3 garbage time TDs in the 4th quarter to pull within…..31!!! Marshall isn’t completely awful and the Cardinals put them away with relative ease. Lamar Jackson accounted for 7 TDs in this game (5 passing, 2 rushing), but let Brandon Radcliff to the heavy lifting through the run game. The Cards defense was brilliant again with a dominant performance.
#2 Computer Hope Nick Saban turned in a 48-0 nothing game against his alma mater which is about what you’d expect. The Crimson Tide led 41-0 at halftime & just clock managed in the 2nd half. The only negative was seeing Damien Harris get hurt but Alabama has plenty of depth at RB. They’ll survive. The pass defense got a nice game after Chad Kelly torched them the week prior. It happens. Kentucky’s up next before Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU & Texas A&M come calling in consecutive weeks. Only gets harder now.
#3 Computer Hope The Buckeyes had a bye week this past week, but we had better get used to them hanging around the top of the standings. Ohio State gets a couple of tune up games at home against Rutgers & Indiana before traveling to Wisconsin on October 15th. The Badgers will be coming off a bye week so they should be rested & prepared. It might be a preview of the eventual Big 10 championship game & could get an incredible matchup of Wisconsin’s defense going up against the best offense in the Big 10.
#4 Computer Hope The Wolverines wasted no time getting off on Penn St. taking a 28-0 lead to the locker room at halftime & improving that to 35-3 after 3 quarters. Penn St. looked completely outmatched at times which has to be hard for the pround program to swallow. A lot is being made over Michigan’s running attack which is relentless but defensively Michigan looks incredible led by LB Jabril Peppers. Peppers is on pace to have over 30 tackles for loss, 110 tackles & close to 10 sacks. Possible Heisman winner?
#5 Computer Hope I thought Trevor Knight would have a good season with the Aggies, but he’s making huge difference in outcomes with his feet. Arkansas had no answers for Knight when he would take off rushing for 157yards/2TD on only 10 carries. Throw in Trayveon Williams’ 153yards along with mixing in some Keith Ford & it’s difficult to stop this running attack. The wild thing is that the receivers are the strength of the team. With wins over UCLA, Auburn & Arkansas, Texas A&M can easily make a case for #1.
#6 Computer Hope Wisconsin put on a defensive masterclass against Michigan St. in East Lansing on Saturday. The Badgers punished Spartans QB Tyler O’Connor all game long picking him off 3 times, sacking him 4 times, forcing 7 QB hurries and allowing him to complete just 47% of his passes on 38 attempts. The Badgers did a good job of bottling up LJ Scott while the Michigan St. receivers could not get loose. LB TJ Watt is on pace for 16 sacks and 20 tackles for loss! A road game at Michigan next week is crazy!
#7 Computer Hope The 26-7 win over Georgia Tech was IMPRESSIVE even if it doesn’t get the national recognition it probably deserves. Even more spectacular is Clemson taking a 23-0 lead into the half. The Yellow Jackets are a dangerous option team & Clemson could not have played more disciplined defense holding Tech to 95 yards rushing & 1TD on 38 carries! The last time GT had that many carries and didn’t get to 100 yards was last year when Clemson held them to 71 yards on 42 carries. Great win for Clemson.
#8 Computer Hope It has to be a little disconcerting that FSU’s defense is getting mauled. This is Florida State. Not Indiana. If you look at their games against FBS opponents this year then Florida St. is giving up 44 points per game! Notre Dame is giving up 33.5PPG and just fired their defensive coordinator! I get that Chad Kelly & Lamar Jackson are going to put up some points on you but South Florida? That’s a tough one & FSU still has Clemson on the schedule. The defense has to get better fast with their schedule.
#9 Computer Hope Georgia might not be very good but Ole Miss put the hammer down in the 1st half going up on the Bulldogs 31-0 and finishing them off 45-14 without the 2nd half let downs we saw when the Rebels took on Alabama & Florida State. Chad Kelly was outstanding yet again in what is turning into a fantastic senior campaign. The Rebels defense finally got loose making Jacob Eason look terrible under center & knocking Nick Chubb out of the game. When they’re on, Ole Miss can hang with anyone.
#10 Computer Hope Yes it was Texas State, but the Cougars got back to looking like they did when they destroyed Oklahoma in the season opener. QB Greg Ward was brutally efficient and the team didn’t commit a single turnover, but the story for me is the Houston defense. They held Texas St. to 8 first downs, 2 of 15 on 3rd down & 142 total yards while dominating time of possession 36 minutes to 24. Steve Taylor & Ed Oliver are having All-American type seasons to this point. This again looks like a 13-0 playoff team.
#11 Computer Hope The game was sloppy and Washington might have dodged a huge bullet by getting out of Tucson with a 35-28 OT win over Arizona, but it’s possible that Washington was overlooking the Huskies given that Stanford was coming to Seattle the next week. What you have to like is Jake Browning being efficient with the football and the Huskies running game churning out 352 yards rushing and dominating time of possession. The rush defense needs to tighten up a lot with McCaffrey coming.
#12 Computer Hope Maybe it really does take Tennessee a half to warm up. The Vols have been outscored 61-43 in the first half of their 4 games, but have outscored their opponents 88-23 in the 2nd half! Tennessee has done a good job taking punches from Virginia Tech & Florida and being able to absorb them & punch back with a vengeance. I think they are easily a 10-2 team, but I’m not sure they can give up a half to Texas A&M and Alabama who they play in the next two weeks. They’ll need all 4 quarters with them.
#13 Computer Hope I don’t care they are 2-2. I don’t care if people don’t think the LSU win means anything. Auburn played Clemson and Texas A&M very tough. They beat LSU. The War Eagle defense is allowing just 18.8PPG and Malzahn is not going away from his rushing attack. The Tigers aren’t a perfect team but they get ULM and a game at Mississippi St. in their next two. If they get to 4-2 with some of the offensive kinks worked out, they’ll be formidable. A lot of teams would have lost to Clemson and Texas A&M.
#14 Computer Hope I don’t get all the Stanford love yet. Sure they have wins over UCLA, USC & Kansas State, but those aren’t incredible wins and the Cardinal didn’t look overly dominant in any of them. The QB situation is just OK. Christian McCaffrey is playing well but he’s not playing like Superman. The receivers aren’t explosive. Defensive Stanford looks solid but they haven’t played any really tough offensive teams. They travel to Washington this week where a win would go a long way to cement their top-10 status.
#15 Computer Hope The Hurricanes are coming off a bye week and they’ll need it as play time is over. Their next 6 games come against Georgia Tech, Florida St., North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame & Pittsburgh! They should be able to get by Georgia Tech as the Jackets had all kinds of problems with Clemson last week. Miami should be able to stay disciplined defensively to slow down GT’s running game. Most importantly, the Canes need to stick with their run game. Ground & pound and they should be fine.
#16 Computer Hope Let’s remember that Colorado the week before last led Michigan 28-24 in the Big House early in the 3rd quarter. The follow that up with a road game against Oregon & finish the job defeating the Ducks 41-38 in Autzen Stadium! Even more amazing is that Colorado did this with their backup QB Steven Montez who passed for 333yds & 3TD in his first ever start. The Buffs beat Oregon. They were close with Michigan. The defense is playing well & they run the ball well. This team could win the Pac 12 South.
#17 Computer Hope A solid 35-24 win over Oklahoma State finally gets the Bears into my Power-25. QB Seth Russell had a field day with Oklahoma St.’s secondary passing for 387 yards & 4TD. The Cowboys DBs gave up some huge plays downfield that really burned them & Baylor never really let up. The Bears get a game at Iowa St. before going on bye. They then get Kansas before another bye so 6-0 should be no problem. After their 2nd by they get Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, K-State, TX Tech & WVU in consecutive weeks.
#18 Computer Hope At the end of the day the Gators took a backup QB that really couldn’t make it at Purdue, threw him into Knoxville in a HEATED rivalry and they were almost able to pull out a win & extend their streak over the Vols to 12 straight wins. Things should get really interesting for Florida if they can keep focus. Tennessee plays games against Texas A&M and Alabama. If the Vols lose those 2 games & the Gators win out in conference, Florida will end up SEC East champions. This defense can be outstanding.
#19 Computer Hope At the end of the day Oklahoma hasn’t played well and QB Baker Mayfield might not be an NFL QB, but he can dominate the Big XII conference & Oklahoma has yet to play a conference game. The Sooners on talent should win the conference if they regroup and focus. They still get Baylor at home which is a huge plus. They are coming off a bye week and are playing at TCU this weekend. A win here sort of rights the ship going forward, but a loss puts pressure on Stoops & his seat could get a bit warm.
#20 Computer Hope Beating Northwestern 24-13 doesn’t look super impressive but I’m willing to give the Huskers a bit of a pass since they had to go on the road after an emotional home win over Oregon the week prior. The win over Oregon loses a bit of lustre due to the Colorado beating the Ducks, but it’s still a solid win & Nebraska dominated Northwestern in their follow up. The Cornhuskers defense allowed NW QB Clayton Thorson to play a little too well, but the Huskers ran for 310yards and totaled 556 yards.
#21 Computer Hope It’s not often you see Michigan St. get boat raced, but that’s exactly what happened as Wisconsin came into East Lansing and took Sparty to the woodshed in a 30-6 pounding! The last time Michigan St. lost by at least 24 in the regular season was back in 2010 when Iowa beat them 37-6 in Iowa City. Michigan St. had a lot of turnovers and some brutal gaffes in the game, but Wisconsin’s defense played a big part in that. With Notre Dame losing to Duke it’s fair to ask if Michigan St. really is a good team?
#22 Computer Hope Disappointing loss for Arkansas, but a lot of teams are going to lose to Texas A&M this year so I can’t knock the Hogs too much. Arkansas couldn’t figure out a way to stop the Texas A&M running game. For the most part the Hogs played a great game. They ran the ball 40 times. They dominated time of possession 40 minutes to 20, but they couldn’t quite figure out how to stop the Aggie offense. Arkansas is going to win A LOT of games keeping the ball for 40 minutes & rushing the ball 40 times.
#23 Computer Hope San Diego’s St. hold on a top-25 spot took a hit when California lost to Arizona State. That win doesn’t look so hot although Cal still has that win over Texas, but even that has turned disappointing because Texas’ signature win was beating Notre Dame who just lost a home game to Duke! Strength of Schedule is going to be murder on SD State at this point. N.Illinois is 0-4. If Cal doesn’t go bowling they might play one bowl team in the regular season which is Utah State! They need to win BIG!
#24 Computer Hope USC might completely suck but the Utes got the job done and are now sitting at 4-0 with wins over BYU and USC. It could be worse. Utah’s done a good job replacing stars on offense like Devontae Booker & Travis Wilson, but the defense has really stood out. It’s an interesting time for Utah because we see USC & UCLA not as good as advertised. There could be a window where Utah can grab the Pac 12 South title, but what might kill them is road games against Arizona St. and Colorado late in the year.
#25 Computer Hope The Sun Devils got a nice 51-41 win over Cal who beat Texas who beat Notre Dame. The Irish might suck & Texas could turn into a 7-5 team really fast so maybe that line of logic isn’t the greatest, but the Sun Devils are sitting at 4-0 with wins over Cal & Texas Tech. The trouble with UT-San Antonio a couple of weeks ago doesn’t make much sense but it could have been an aberration. The ASU defense has gotten progressively worse under HC Todd Graham. Maybe they don’t need to play much defense?

DROPPING OUT

#17 LSU: I wrote about Les Miles earlier and that explains what I believe happened to Les Miles and why he was let go by the university. As far as the team goes for this season, LSU might be finished. It’s possible the team could rally but LSU still has road games against Florida, Texas A&M, and Arkansas with home dates against Alabama & Ole Miss. Their current 2-2 record could easily wind up 5-7 by year’s end. Whoever takes over for LSU will have a tough job, but it’s LSU. Who doesn’t want to coach there? Something to keep in mind is that LSU still only has one conference loss despite the 2-2 record. Win out & the Tigers are likely SEC West champions. They have the talent, but can they execute?

#23 CALIFORNIA: The Bears failed to cash in on the opportunity afforded them by beating Texas as they traveled to Arizona State and lost 51-41. The Bears need to stay in their lane with Davis Webb at QB. Webb is on pace to complete 62% of his passes for 5,970 yards with 59TD passes! That’s nuts. He passed a lot less and was in control a bit more in Cal’s win over Texas. He got a little ragged against San Diego St. & Arizona State. Another problem is that the Cal defense can’t give up 31 points in the 4th quarter. That’s egregious and a big reason why you can’t take Cal seriously as a team. The defense is putrid.

#24 TEXAS: The win over Notre Dame is practically meaningless now. Not only did the Irish lose at home to Duke for crying out loud, but Wisconsin went into East Lansing and hammered a Michigan St. team who hammered the Irish in South Bend. Throw in Cal losing to Arizona State and Texas is right back where they started at the beginning of the year. Charlie Strong’s seat could get CRAZY hot very soon. Playing in Stillwater won’t be easy next week & Oklahoma will be ready knowing they can still win the Big XII. And does anyone really think Texas is going to beat Baylor or TCU? That’s 5 losses not counting West Virginia and a road date against Kansas State! The ND win doesn’t carry water any longer.

#25 NOTRE DAME: The team is nothing short of a disaster. The 134 points allowed over the first 4 games is the worst start for an Irish defense IN HISTORY!!!! I bet ol’ DC Brian VanGorder doesn’t like that on the ol’ resume! The Irish need to be careful that the season doesn’t completely get away from them. I don’t think it is far fetched to believe they might not get to a bowl game. That’s how bad they are playing and the schedule isn’t kind despite it not being brutal. VanGorder has to be fired soon doesn’t he? And Brian Kelly? I really like him, but I don’t see it. If the Irish are going to win a national championship, it won’t be under him. He’s in his 7th season and the Irish are losing home games to Duke. What else is there to say?

September 27, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, California, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Houston, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, NCAA, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Power 25, San Diego St., Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, Utah, Washington, Week 4, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 4 – BIG GAMES

Week 4 will probably not be as good as Week 1 or Week 3, but it’s definitely a week where there should be quite a bit of separation. A lot of teams have the opportunity to consolidate and it’ll be interesting to see if they take advantage because it could catapult them towards a special season. It’s weird to think about, but we are a fourth of the way through the season for most teams. After this week a lot of teams will be a third of the way finished with their season. We just started!!!!

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope It’s nice to have the Big 10 back in the spotlight this week with the marquee game. Based on last week’s games, these two teams look far apart as the Badgers struggled with Georgia St. while the Spartans handled their business against Notre Dame on the road. The winner of this game gets a huge conference but will also have 2 great wins on the schedule. Wisconsin needs to figure out their QB situation quickly because Malik McDowell is coming!! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think this game is really interesting when looked at through the prism of open windows. Tennessee has had an open window for the SEC East when Will Muschamp was the HC at Florida because he wasn’t able to take Florida to the heights that Spurrier & Meyer did. I think Jim McElwain can get to those heights, but he’ll need a year or two. That’s an open window for the Vols specifically this year with their experience. Tennessee has to take advantage. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I love the contrasting styles of this game. Texas A&M’s front 7 is fairly dominant but that has a lot to do with their ability to get to the QB via Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. Arkansas wants to run the football so if Garrett & Hall are getting up the field while Arkansas & Rawleigh Williams are running inside, it’s a big help for the Razorbacks. They control the clock and move the ball all while keeping the A&M offense & their receivers off the field. Great strategy game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think Auburn is getting a raw deal with Gus Malzahn being under the gun after losing to Clemson & Texas A&M to start the season. Auburn isn’t doing much different than what they’ve done in the past. Last year QB play was bad & the RBs didn’t really dominate. In 2014 they were 8-5 but not far from 10-3. In 2013 they were playing for a national championship. I think War Eagle gets somebody this year & that might be LSU this week which would be a big win for them. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Georgia has to be thrilled to be 3-0 when they could just as easily be 0-3 and completely demoralized! Navigating the SEC with a true freshman at QB isn’t going to be easy no matter how good Jacob Eason is and Ole Miss should be a HUGE test. For the Rebels, they’ve lost to Alabama & Florida St., but at times looked like the best team in the nation. If that is true then Ole Miss should handle UGA relatively easy. It would be nice to see Ole Miss put two halves together. Computer Hope
Computer Hope So far UCLA has a been a big disappointment. Losing to Texas A&M might not look bad as the weeks go by & the Aggies keep winning, but UCLA also struggled with BYU. They haven’t been able to run the ball well & Josh Rosen has looked terrible in his 2nd season under center. The Bruins can right a lot of wrongs with a big win over Stanford this weekend and reestablish themselves as the front runners for the Pac 12 South. Christian McCaffrey has other ideas. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Big XII is a complete mess at this point with Texas losing to Cal and Oklahoma already having two losses, but Baylor is still undefeated at 3-0 and a win at home over Oklahoma St. could give them a little more credit than they’ve had so far with a cupcake filled schedule. I’m interested to see how Oklahoma St. comes back after 2 emotional games. The bizarre ending to C.Michigan and the incredible win over Pittsburgh. They have something to prove. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not saying Colorado is going to win anything this season, but you knew something was different about the Buffs when they blitzed Colorado St. 44-7 to open the season. Colorado blitzed Michigan last week in the first quarter & stunned the Wolverines before Michigan recovered for a win, but in years past Colorado wouldn’t have gotten off a punch. You can be sure they won’t be intimidated going into Oregon after going into Ann Arbor. This game will not be a blowout. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s worth remembering that Georgia Tech was 11-3 in 2014 & THIS CLOSE from turning in a perfect 14-0 record. That was an experienced squad under HC Paul Johnson. Last year the Yellow Jackets took a step back as they regrouped but now they are a lot more experienced. I don’t know if that predicts a win over Clemson, but it’ll be an EXTREMELY tough game for the Tigers regardless and remember that Clemson has Louisville the very next week. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Like Ole Miss, USC has gotten a tough schedule early & suffered losses to Stanford & Alabama. Like Ole Miss the Trojans get a good but not great team in Week 4 to show they really do belong as contenders for their conference. Utah has played well so far this season getting big plays from their receivers with a solid ground attack. Utah has done a good job replacing Travis Wilson & Devontae Booker from last season. Getting a win here would be huge moving forward. Computer Hope

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Michigan St., Mississippi, Must See Games, NCAA, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Utah, Week 4, Wisconsin | Leave a comment