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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
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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 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 – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

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

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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 12 – BIG GAMES

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Computer Hope This is the game of the week by a long shot because of all the implications. In my opinion the game is bigger for West Virginia. This is the game Dane Holgorsen and his staff have been preparing for since arriving in Morgantown. A win doesn’t guarantee a Big XII championship but it gets them VERY close. I think it also puts them into playoff contention if a couple of other conferences have 2-loss champions. A win here obviously is a big step for the Sooners to win the Big XII championship. Computer Hope
Computer Hope If you believe the big players in the Pac 12 this year are Colorado, Utah, USC, Washington & Washington St., then this is the Cougars first real challenge despite them being 8-2. The same can be said for Colorado who did have a test game against USC but lost which is keeping their credibility in check just a bit. It’s hard to pick against either. I’d love to see Mike Leach win out because Wazzou would be amazing in the playoffs, but I’ve been on Colorado’s bandwagon all year. Should be amazing! Computer Hope
Computer Hope If Tennessee doesn’t botch it up against Missouri or Vanderbilt, Florida is essentially playing for their lives here against LSU. The bigger question to me is whether or not Florida actually wants to win the SEC East? If they beat LSU then all that means is they’ll be facing Alabama. That game has 55-0 written all over it which begs the question of whether it’s worth it to win the East just so you can get murdered on national television? I don’t think it’ll matter though as LSU is destroying opponents. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Remember after Houston beat Oklahoma that everyone circled this date on their schedule as the game Houston had to win in order to get to 13-0 and make a push for making the playoffs? Two losses later and now this is a game Louisville needs not only to win but to dominate in order to push themselves higher in the playoff rankings in order for them to sneak in. Louisville needs bigger wins and they need them by bigger margins. This would accomplish both goals, but it shouldn’t be easy. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This might not seem like that big of a game, but the Demon Deacons are 4-1 in Winston-Salem and they’ve given Florida St. & Louisville all they could handle despite losing games. Wake almost pulled off a stunner last week in Louisville. Note also that while Clemson is on a different level, Wake went on the road to beat both Indiana & Duke. What does Clemson losing mean? It opens the door for Louisville as they would take the Atlantic and I can’t imagine them losing to Virginia Tech or North Carolina. Computer Hope
Computer Hope These one off games can be fun. It’s never easy going into Ft. Worth and pounding on the Frogs, but this is really the game that sets up THE GAME for Oklahoma St. assuming the Sooners beat West Virginia. The Cowboys can’t overlook TCU because they are playing for everything. Even if Oklahoma loses to West Virginia, OK-State can win the Big XII if they win out because they gave the Mountaineers their only conference loss. Oh, and by the way, TCU is playing for bowl eligibility! Cant’ wait! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Irish have been taking a lot of heat for being 4-6, but those 6 losses have come by a combined 29 points. That’s about 5PPG. The Irish are one of the few teams with a “best” care scenario record of 10-0 so while the 4-6 looks dreadful and Brian Kelly deserves the heat he’s gotten, remember that two wins & the Irish get to a bowl. Also keep in mind that Virginia Tech is coming off a loss to Georgia Tech, and teams that play teams like GT are very beat up the following week. This one is interesting. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The year hasn’t went anything like UCLA would have wanted, but remember they are in much the same situation as Notre Dame is in. At 4-6, the Bruins can win their last 2 games and get to a bowl which would be a minor victory. Their 6 losses have come by a combined 42 points. I don’t expect USC to have much trouble with the way they’ve been playing. The Trojans could still win the Pac 12 South so I don’t expect a letdown. This is the most beautiful game of the season with the jerseys. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game doesn’t have any national implications but I like the two teams involved. Minnesota has had a nice season. They haven’t beaten anyone of note, but they are 7-3 with their 3 losses coming to Nebraska, Iowa & Penn St. by 17 points. They might lose to Northwestern & Wisconsin to finish the season but if they are closes losses, it’s a helluva season to build on. Northwestern has become a dangerous team. If the team now started at the beginning, I think they finish 10-2 and maybe 11-1. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is a neat rivalry game and it should be a pretty cool contrast in styles. Stanford is going to run the ball behind Christian McCaffrey while the Bears are going to want to air it out behind Davis Webb. If Cal wins out they’ll finish 6-6 and get to a bowl, but I think Stanford has become the forgotten team nationally. They have a great shot at winning out which would mean 9-3. A bowl win gets the Cardinal to 10-3 which is a very good season. They can’t win the North so it seems they are forgotten. Computer Hope

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Big Games, California, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Houston, Louisville, LSU, Minnesota, Must See Games, NCAA, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Stanford, TCU, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington St., Week 12, West Virginia | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 10 – BIG GAMES

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope It doesn’t get much better than this. I don’t expect LSU to keep this within 20 points. The Tigers are having a feel good story by going 3-0 since Les Miles was fired, but they haven’t played anyone. The trouble with playing Alabama is that they are going to take things away from you. Rueben Foster will see to it that Leonard Fournette is locked down meaning LSU is going to have to beat Alabama through the air, but Danny Etling simply isn’t good enough to give Alabama fits. ROLL DAMN TIDE! Computer Hope
Computer Hope So much on the line in this one. The loss in Madison last week stinks for Nebraska, but their season isn’t over quite yet. Beat Ohio State, win out and then beat Michigan in the Big 10 championship and the Cornhuskers are going to the playoffs. For Ohio State, the formula is just as simple. Beat Nebraska. Beat Michigan. Beat Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship and you are headed to the playoffs. The loss to Penn St. hurts but Texas A&M won’t stay in front of them if they win out at 12-1. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Now we know style points matter. The Huskies have to be seething now that the first playoff poll has come out & Washington at 8-0 ranks behind a Texas A&M team that is 7-1. Strength of Schedule I’m sure played a role, but Washington’s 31-24 win over Utah probably didn’t help matters as voters were looking for a reason to believe Washington was an ELITE team. It’ll be interesting to see how UW plays on the road against a bad Cal squad. My guess is the Huskies are going to run it up big. Computer Hope
Computer Hope NC State was reeling after back-to-back losses to both Louisville & Clemson, but Boston College going into Raleigh and defeating the Wolfpack raised more than a few eyebrows. I don’t suspect the Cardinals to have many problems on Chestnut Hill, but Louisville had issues last week against Virginia and rank behind Texas A&M and Ohio St. in the first playoff poll. They can’t control the Aggies & Buckeyes, but they can control their games by winning with tremendous style points. They need it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Northwestern has quickly become that team that nobody really wants to face. Since their first two weeks, Northwestern is 4-2 with their only losses coming to Nebraska & Ohio State, two games the Wildcats can argue they should have won. The Badgers are still looking for a Big 10 West title and despite beating Nebraska, they trail the Huskers in the standings. They need help from Ohio State which they are likely to get, but they cannot afford a let down themselves if they want to win the West. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This might not seem like a big game this week but consider that Kentucky is sitting in 2nd place in the SEC East and Tennessee just lost to South Carolina and Vols RB Jalen Hurd is transferring. Things are in disarray in Knoxville. Why is that important? Because if UK wins out and Florida manages to lose games to Arkansas & LSU (entirely feasible), it would mean Kentucky would finish as SEC East champions! UK will lose to Louisville, but finishing 8-4 as SEC East champions can happen! Computer Hope
Computer Hope You almost saw a bit of a let down last week when Penn St. struggled against Purdue in the first half before blowing the Boilermakers out. It was to be expected after the season defining win over Ohio St. the week prior, but this week the Hawkeyes are coming to town and this has the feel of a legitimate let down where Penn St. is on the verge of having a great season & it gets sidetracked with a loss to an Iowa team they probably should beat. I’m interesting to see how the PSU defense plays. Computer Hope
Computer Hope If Tennessee is real about their rivalry against Florida, then the ultimate revenge is to lay down against Kentucky in a couple of weeks after Florida blows it against Arkansas! This game matters a great deal to Florida because it is one of the two games left on the schedule they need to win to fend off Kentucky. A loss here to an Arkansas team, who will bounce back big after the loss to Auburn, will put tremendous pressure on the Gators to beat LSU. How incredible is the SEC East this season!? Computer Hope
Computer Hope This probably shouldn’t be that much of a game for Colorado especially because the Bruins are playing without QB Josh Rosen, but it’s not like UCLA doesn’t have some talent and that much talent can pull off upsets on any given night. I think this would be a big win for the Buffs. UCLA is 3-5, but their 5 losses have come by a combined 32 points or 6.4PPG. Lady Luck has been more cruel to UCLA than most so a 10+point win for Colorado would be another positive sign of Colorado’s validity. Computer Hope
Computer Hope You wouldn’t think this would be much of a game, but if Virginia Tech is vulnerable, it might be this week. The Hokies are 2-2 away from Blacksburg while Duke is hitting .500 at home in Durham. Duke has beaten both Army & Notre Dame. While those teams aren’t as good as the Hokies, Duke won’t be intimidated either & keep in mind that the Duke defense held Lamar Jackson & Louisville to 24 points. Like Wisconsin in Evanston, this is hardly a game Virginia Tech can overlook and still win. Computer Hope

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Big Games, Boston College, California, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., UCLA, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 10, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2016 PRESEASON ALL-BIG 10 TEAMS

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

2ND TEAM OFFENSE

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

3RD TEAM OFFENSE

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

4TH TEAM OFFENSE

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

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

2ND TEAM DEFENSE

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

3RD TEAM DEFENSE

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

4TH TEAM DEFENSE

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

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

NCAA POWER-25 FINAL RANKINGS 2015

The regular season is finished and after the first 6-7 teams, the rankings get really dicey as you could make an argument for any of a number of teams for each slot. When compiling these rankings I tried to take the entirely of the season into consideration.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Heisman Trophy winner. National Champions! It was a banner year for the Tide as they rolled through the competition en route to Nick Saban’s 5th national championship, his 4th at Alabama. It’s amazing that every recruiting class Saban has brought in to Tuscaloosa has had the opportunity to be a part of a national championship team. You can make a good argument this was the weakest of Saban’s national title teams statistically. That says a lot. Alabama is nothing short of a machine at this point that is virtually unstoppable regardless of personnel.
#2 Computer Hope They came THIS CLOSE to winning a national championship but I think Clemson proved to everyone that they belonged on the field with Alabama and put every doubt to rest that they were the #2 team in the nation in losing to the Tide 45-40. Deshaun Watson played out of his mind, but the incredible onsides kick recovered by Alabama essentially gave momentum to Alabama & Clemson’s defense couldn’t quite stop the Tide. Dabo Swinney proved his among the nation’s elite & Watson should enter 2016 as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
#3 Computer Hope Oh what might have been had the Buckeyes gave the ball to Ezekiel Elliott as many times against Michigan State as they did against Notre Dame. Ohio St. had no issues putting away the Irish as Elliott racked up 149 yards & 4TD. Ohio St. led 28-7 late in the 2nd quarter & were never really challenged in the Fiesta Bowl. Based on the playoff outcomes, it seems as if Alabama & Clemson are clearly the two best teams in the nation but Ohio St. finished 12-1 & have to be in the discussion. It would have been interesting seeing Elliott run on Bama.
#4 Computer Hope It’s worth mentioning that Iowa is a tremendous football team & Stanford curb stomped the Hawkeyes like they were nothing more than a bottom feeding Mountain West school! It was 35-0 before halftime & 38-0 late in the 3rd quarter! Christian McCaffery was outstanding as usual, but that Stanford defense!!?? GOOD GRIEF! Stanford recorded 7 sacks! That was the highest total Stanford had all season & the most they’ve had in a single game since 2013. The opening season loss to Northwestern killed Stanford this year. This was a playoff team.
#5 Computer Hope It wouldn’t have been consistent with the season long theme if Notre Dame didn’t lose yet another superstar player in the bowl game. This time it was All-American LB Jaylon Smith who essentially missed the Fiesta Bowl after hurting his knee! The Irish never quit & made it respectable against Ohio St. although they couldn’t stop Ezekiel Elliott. Notre Dame finished 10-3 but you’ll notice their 3 losses were to Clemson (14-1), Ohio St. (12-1) & Stanford (12-2) & the losses to Clemson & Stanford were by a combined 4 points with both being road games.
#6 Computer Hope TCU beating Oregon, West Virginia beating Arizona St. & Baylor upending North Carolina gave the Big 12 more credence so Oklahoma losing to Clemson 37-17 in the semifinals doesn’t seem all that bad now that we saw with Deshaun Watson did to the Alabama defense. As good as Oklahoma was, they never saw an offense that had runners like Watson & Wayne Gallman. Both shredded the Oklahoma defense for a combined 295 yards & 3TD! Oklahoma also hadn’t seen a defense with guys like Kevin Dodd & Ben Boulware. Still a great season.
#7 Computer Hope I did not see a 38-0 loss to Alabama coming! The Spartans defense seemingly turned a corner against Maryland late in the season & Sparty put up great efforts in wins over Ohio St., Penn St. & Iowa to cap a Big 10 championship! Not a ton of star power on the roster, but Mark Dantonio comes from the Nick Saban tree & many thought Alabama would have a hard time against Michigan State. That didn’t happen & it actually calls into question how competent the Big 10 was as a conference this season. The Spartans are in for quite a rebuild in 2016.
#8 Computer Hope A terrible way to end the season, Iowa started the season 12-0 but lost their last 2 games to Michigan St. & Stanford which muddied an otherwise historic season in Iowa City. It’s tough to gauge how good Iowa was this year given their schedule. At their best I think Iowa is a top-10 team which is why I have them here and it’s hard to penalize them for losing to Michigan St. (Big 10 champions) & Stanford (Pac 12 champions). Would have been cool to see them beat a legit Big 10 East squad, but teams go 12-0 for a reason. Luck & schedule are definite factors.
#9 Computer Hope Forget the loss to UConn. Houston finished the season 13-1 with wins over Louisville, Florida State, Temple, Navy, Cincinnati and Memphis. You can argue Houston could have been the 2nd best team in the ACC behind Clemson & I wouldn’t complain. HC Tom Herman did an outstanding job in his 1st year as HC & Houston was lucky he stayed on as Herman was attached to several high profile jobs this offseason. The offense improved by 10PPG this season & the defense stayed rock solid. Since 2003, Houston has won 104 games. That’s 8 wins/year.
#10 Computer Hope Ole Miss had no problems destroying a 10-2 Oklahoma St. team in the Sugar Bowl 48-20. The Rebels got out to a 34-6 lead at halftime & it didn’t even matter that the defense was playing with All-American DT Robert Nkemdiche or LB Denzel Nkemdiche. QB Chad Kelly picked a part OK State’s pass defense for 300+yds/4TD while the Cowboys secondary had no answers for Laquon Treadwell & Cody Core. Ole Miss owned the best win of the season taking down Alabama in Tuscaloosa, but losses to Memphis, Florida & Arkansas boggle the mind.
#11 Computer Hope HC Gary Patterson did his best job to date as TCU battled injuries & oddities all year and still wound up 11-2 with a bowl win over an extremely hot Oregon team. TCU played out of their minds in the 2nd half of the Alamo Bowl! Down 31-0 at halftime, TCU outscored Oregon 31-0 in the 2nd half & then used 3OT to finally beat the Ducks 47-41! This was the worst defensive team Patterson has had at TCU since 2004 when the Frogs went 5-6. This year they finished 11-2 which is a miracle. The 30-29 loss to Oklahoma probably kept TCU out of the playoffs.
#12 Computer Hope The loss to Ohio St. was bad, but the Buckeyes probably should have been playing for a national championship while Jim Harbaugh was in his first year. Florida wasn’t the Florida we saw earlier in the year when Will Grier was under center, but HAMMERING the Gators 41-7 is impressive no matter the state of the program in Gainesville. Michigan can argue being 12-1. They beat Utah if they played later in the season & the fluke loss to Michigan St. never should have happened. Michigan improved by 5 wins to 10-3 but Harbaugh is just getting started.
#13 Computer Hope An unfortunate injury to QB Vernon Adams probably cost Oregon the Alamo Bowl. The 31-0 lead that evaporated in the 2nd half is inexcusable even if you are playing a backup QB, but crazy things sometimes happen in college football & it’s not like you didn’t face one of the best coaches in the game in Gary Patterson. Vernon Adams & injuries went hand in hand with Oregon losses this season. Adams was hurt in 3 of Oregon’s 4 losses. At worst Oregon’s 9-4 season should be 11-2, but Adams’ injury issues probably cost Oregon the Pac 12 title in ’15.
#14 Computer Hope In the same way Stanford hammered Iowa, Tennessee beat a solid 10-2 Northwestern team like they were nothing more than a has been FCS school looking for a payday by playing one of the big boys! Tennessee’s 9-4 record includes 2 losses to playoff teams (Alabama & Oklahoma) by a combined 12 points. They also lost to SEC East champion Florida by 1 point & Arkansas by 4. Tennessee’s “best case” record for 2015 is 13-0! By season’s end you could have made a strong case for them being a top-10 team. Ranking them 14th seems entirely too low.
#15 Computer Hope Another Big 10 team that is hard to figure. I keep viewing Wisconsin in a light that has them playing with RB Corey Clement, but Clement played in just 4 games this season so it seems like Wisconsin is more of a team without him than with him. The bowl win over USC pushed Wisconsin to 10-3 with their losses coming to Alabama (14-1), Iowa (12-2) & Northwestern (10-3). The losses to Iowa & N’Western were by a combined 10 points. You have to think that with Clement suiting up, Wisconsin might have went 13-1 & gotten into the playoff picture.
#16 Computer Hope Baylor put on an INSANE rushing clinic against North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl as the Bears beat the Tar Heels 49-38! Baylor beat the 11-2 Heels without starting QB Seth Russell, without starting RB Shock Linwood & without stud #1 WR Corey Coleman! Instead, Devin Chafin ran for 161 yards & Johnny Jefferson ran for 299 yards & 3TD! That isn’t at typo! Jefferson was one yard shy of rushing for 300 yards! Baylor racked up 645 rushing yards! It has to make you wonder how Baylor would have done if they weren’t hit by injuries to Russell.
#17 Computer Hope Kansas St. was no match for the Razorbacks in the Liberty Bowl as Arkansas cruised to a 45-23 win. Arkansas was BRUTALLY efficient as QB Brandon Allen missed on just 6 passes while RB Alex Collins cruised, rushing for 185 yards & 3TD on 23 attempts. Arkansas racked up 300+ more yards then K-State & had 17 more first downs. Arkansas went 7-2 in their last 9 & like Tennessee, were much better than their final 8-5 record would indicate. By season’s end this was the 2nd best team in the SEC West, but they have a significant rebuild for the 2016 season.
#18 Computer Hope Drawing Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl was a dream come true for Les Miles & LSU. A team that certainly can’t spell defense let alone play it, LSU ran Lenoard Fournette early & often en route to the RB racking up 212 rushing yards & 4TD! Fournette would tack on a 5th TD through the air as LSU beat the Red Raiders 56-27. LSU finished 9-3 & would have been 10-3 if their season opener against McNeese St. didn’t get canceled, but LSU has to get better. I think LSU should have kept Miles & they did, but he’s still arguably the worst coach in the SEC West.
#19 Computer Hope It couldn’t have gone any better for Mississippi St. to end the season. The Bulldogs drew NC State in the Belk Bowl, a game they easily won 51-28. It was also a bowl that allowed senior QB Dak Prescott to shine one more time as the QB threw for 380 yards & 4TD & ran for another 47 yards. Prescott accounted for 39 TD this season & leaves as Mississippi St.’s all time leading passer with 9,376 yards. Adding a cherry on top is HC Dan Mullen sticking around Starkville despite a plethora of head coach openings around the nation! He’s 55-35 at MS State.
#20 Computer Hope Like Iowa, North Carolina had a rough last 2 games falling to Clemson in ACC Championship & then to Baylor in the bowl game. On the other hand, UNC hadn’t won this many games since Mack Brown coached the Tar Heels back in 1997! UNC also improved their scoring defense by 14.5 points & improved by 5 wins! The schedule was a bit soft but winning 11 games is winning 11 games & Carolina won 11 straight. Larry Fedora is building something nice in Chapel Hill & UNC has a window here to crash the playoff party if they can upend Clemson or FSU.
#21 Computer Hope Navy destroyed Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl as QB Keenan Reynolds dominated for one last time, rushing for 144 yards & 3TD against a decent Panthers defense en route to Navy beating Pitt 44-28. Navy finishes with a tremendous 11-2 record with their only losses coming against Notre Dame (10-3) & Houston (13-1). I have the Irish ranked #5 & the Cougars ranked #9 so you could make an argument that the Middies could be a top-10 team. At least top-15! Also exciting was HC Ken Niumatalolo staying at Navy. He’s been outstanding here.
#22 Computer Hope It was an all around ugly year for Northwestern, but you can’t let the horrible performance against Tennessee color the entire season for you. When Northwestern lost, it lost BIG and it lost UGLY, but that covers the fact that Northwestern also won 10 games including wins over Stanford, Duke, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State. Keep in mind that Northwestern had 10 wins combined in 2013 & 2014, and the last time Northwestern won 10 games in the regular season was 1995 when Northwestern won the Big 10! This was an AMAZING year in Evanston.
#23 Computer Hope After starting the year 10-0, Oklahoma St. lost their last 3 games against Oklahoma, Baylor & Ole Miss. It’s hard to bang on the Cowboys for those losses. I have both Oklahoma & Ole Miss in my top-10 & Baylor might well have been a playoff team had Seth Russell not suffered a season ending injury. Mike Gundy did and continues to do a helluva job in Stillwater. I picked Oklahoma St. to be the 6th best team in the Big XII, but they were in a tremendous spot at 10-0 with home games left against Baylor & Oklahoma. They’ll contend again in 2016.
#24 Computer Hope In a decidedly off year for the Seminoles, Florida St. still managed to go 10-3 and finish with a defense that ranked 9th in scoring defense and a RB in Dalvin Cook who rushed for 1691 yards & 19TD while averaging 7.4ypc! Cook had to have been the most overlooked RB in the country. The 10-3 record is a bit misleading really. The Georgia Tech loss was a fluke & losing to Houston seemed like a formality as Florida St. clearly had no interest in the game. FSU is 37-4 in the last 3 years with a national title. It’s safe to say that Florida St. is back.
#25 Computer Hope I was hoping Western Kentucky drew better in their bowl game, but they had South Florida in Miami Beach Bowl & dispatched the Bulls 45-35. It was an incredible year for the Hilltoppers as HC Jeff Brohm guided WKU to a 12-2 record including a CUSA championship & a bowl victory. QB Brandon Doughty passed for over 5,000 yards & leaves Bowling Green, KY as Western’s all time leading passer with almost 13,000 yards! WR Taywan Taylor also became Western’s all time leading receiver! Would have been cool to see them in a bigger bowl.

DROPPING OUT

FLORIDA GATORS (previously #19): Opened 10-1 but lost their last 3 games to Alabama, Florida St. & Michigan. Florida’s other loss was a road loss to LSU which makes me think I was a bit hard on the Gators. On the other hand this was a different team without Will Grier & if I have FSU at #24, then it’s hard to see how the Gators crack the top-25. I wouldn’t worry too much about Florida. Jim McElwain is going to win a championship in Gainesville. I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen.

USC TROJANS (previously #24): A crazy season for USC, the Trojans would have liked to have beaten Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl, but despite the insanity surrounding the program with the Steve Sarkisian mess, USC still managed to win the Pac 12 South. USC loses QB Cody Kessler which will be hard to overcome but the talent is far from short.

January 18, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Final Rankings, Florida, Florida St., Houston, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., Navy, NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Power 25, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA BOWL GAMES PREVIEW

TEAM QUICK THOUGHTS TEAM
Computer Hope Las Vegas Bowl: The people in Vegas couldn’t have gotten a better bowl game than the HOLY WAR! After the 2013 season, this game was supposed to be on hiatus until 2016 due to Utah joining the Pac 12 & BYU going independent, but it’s awesome we get this rivalry back! Given how each team started, I think both are probably a bit disappointed to be here. I’d expect Utah to win. They are better & BYU is dealing with the loss of their HC, Bronco Mendenhall. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Camellia Bowl: This is a cool matchup between two extremely run heavy offenses. App St.’s Marcus Cox has had a tremendous year rushing for over 1200 yards while Jalin Moore has also chipped in over 600 as his backup! AJ Ouellette & Daz’Mond Patterson aren’t quite as dominant for the Bobcats, but Ohio is a run first squad behind that duo. Expect lots of running & I’d expect a Mountaineer win which would take Appalachian St. to 11-2! A great year! Computer Hope
Computer Hope New Orleans Bowl: Sun Belt champion Arkansas St. draws CUSA-West division runner up Louisiana Tech. The Red Wolves actually come into this bowl on an 8-game winning streak having gone perfect through conference play, but this is a bad draw. While both sport prolific offenses, Arkansas St.’s defense leaves much to be desired & LA Tech can hammer you in a myriad of ways. Tune in to watch former Florida QB Jeff Driskel light it up for the Bulldogs. Computer Hope
Computer Hope New Mexico Bowl: One of the more interesting teams this season, the Lobos of New Mexico have some convincing wins over the likes of Air Force, Boise St., & Utah State but a couple of close losses to the likes of Colorado St. & San Jose St. potentially kep the Lobos from a MWC championship. New Mexico is VERY run heavy which could cause some problems, but now that the questions surrounding Rich Rodriguez have halted, I think Arizona pulls it out. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cure Bowl: Does anyone really care about this game at all? San Jose St. is 5-7 while Georgia St. is 6-6. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to have a postseason bowl featuring 2 teams that are a combined 11-13! A couple of interesting points though. This is Georgia St.’s first ever bowl game & San Jose St.’s 10th so this is history for GA State, but did you know SJSU is 6-3 in their previous bowls? I wouldn’t have thought that. Will anyone bother to show up? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Miami Beach Bowl: Solid matchup here. It took a while for the Bulls to get going, but South Florida turned it on and went 7-1 down the stretch & finished the season as arguably the 2nd best team in the AAC behind Houston. The Hilltoppers are 11-2 & coming in as CUSA champions. WKU has a helluva program & QB Brandon Doughty has been EXCEPTIONAL this season as has WR Taywan Taylor. USF’s defense has been stingy & watch Bulls RB Marlon Mack! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Idaho Potato Bowl: Interesting matchup between the MWC & the MAC. Akron is coming on a 4-game winning streak while Utah St. has struggled to end the season going 2-4 in their last 6. Neither of these teams does anything particularly well obviously as Akron is 7-5 & Utah St. is 6-6. It will be the last game that Utah St. QB Chuckie Keeton will play in. The 41-year old 17th-year senior will finally lace them up with 3 of his grandchildren in the stands. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boca Raton Bowl: This is only the Boca Raton’s 2nd year as a bowl, but this bowl so far has been excellent. Last year in its inaugural season, the bowl featured MAC Champion N.Illinois going up against CUSA Champion Marshall! Both teams were 11-1 & Marshall prevailed 52-23. This year Temple (10-3) plays Toledo (9-2) which is an OUTSTANDING game between two teams some thought could have been in a Big Six bowl by year’s end. Home run pairing. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Poinsettia Bowl: Bad memories for the Broncos here! The only other time Boise St. has played in the Poinsettia Bowl was back in 2008 when they came in 12-0 to play an Andy Dalton led TCU squad. Boise St. would take a 13-0 lead over the 10-2 Horned Frogs but would lose 17-16! This one won’t be as exciting as both teams come in with 8 wins, but still cool when you consider that both of these teams are 2 of the most winningest teams over the past 5 seasons. Computer Hope
Computer Hope GoDaddy Bowl: GA Southern has arguably the most prolific RB in college football. Matt Breida has ran for 1540yds/16TD this year while averaging 8.2ypc! Even more amazing is backup RB LA Ramsby ran for 700+/12TD! The MAC Champions have quite a bit of offense as well. QB Matt Johnson threw for 4700yds/43TD while WR Roger Lewis (1476yds/15TD) & RB Travis Greene (1220yds/14TD) are as explosive as they come. Lots of points here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Bahamas Bowl: Last year C.Michigan came back from a 49-14 deficit after 3 quarters to pull to within 1 but came up short 49-48 to W.Kentucky! Nothing fancy here as both teams come in at 7-5 with balanced offenses and suspect defenses. I think WMU HC PJ Fleck is an interesting case. Western Michigan went to great lengths to keep him in Kalamazoo & his star is definitely on the rise. His 1st year the Broncos were 1-11 & now he’s got them to B2B bowls. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Hawaii Bowl: Wow! Going to Hawaii is nice and all but the Mountain West champion deserves better than the AAC’s 6th best team! Cincinnati’s rush defense is terrible while SD State’s rushing attack is ridiculously lethal behind Donnel Pumphrey & Chase Price. Throw in a top-10 defense by the 10-3 Aztecs & you have the makings of a blowout. It took SD State a bit to get warmed up, but they come in on a 9-game winning streak & should improve to 11-3. Computer Hope
Computer Hope St. Petersburg Bowl: Bob Diaco has done a great job turning around the UConn program. Last year the Huskies were 2-10 in his first year & Diaco now has them bowl bound at 6-6 including a huge win over Houston which ended the Cougars perfect season. It’s not surprising that the Huskies like to pound the ball & play nasty defense as Diaco is a defense guy. Marshall is a good matchup for UConn as they’ll have trouble scoring & stopping the run. UConn wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sun Bowl: Our first Big 5 conference matchup pits the ACC against the Pac 12. This looks like ACC #5 v. Pac 12 #5. This one could get ugly. Miami-FL is going through a coaching transition as it is with Mark Richt set to take over for Al Golden but the bigger issues is Wazzou QB Luke Falk being cleared to play. The two closest offenses to Wazzou that the Canes have faced are Clemson & UNC & Miami gave up 58 & 59 to those teams respectively. The Pirate wins! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Heart of Dallas Bowl: Southern Miss had a nice season but Washington had the best defense in the Pac 12 & I think towards the end of the season the Huskies really started figuring things out. UW was 3-2 in their last 5 games & all 3 wins were HUGE blowouts. If Chris Petersen has the Huskies focused then this bowl is going to get out of hand. Southern Miss won’t have an answer for dynamic freshman duo Myles Gaskin or Jake Browning. Tune in for those two! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Pinstripe Bowl: ACC #7 v. Big 10 #9. Neither team is amazing as IU comes in at 6-6 while Duke is 7-5, but to me this game is more about Indiana’s imposition of will via their offense. Indiana can argue they almost beat Michigan, Ohio St., Michigan St. & Iowa! Those are 4 AMAZING teams. Duke shouldn’t be difficult at all by comparison which puts pressure on the Hoosiers to win this game, but Duke is solid in their own right. A sneaky good football game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Indepedence Bowl: Frank Beamer’s last stand! Both teams are 6-6 but Tulsa gives up almost 40 points a game so I think the Hokies should be able to send Frank Beamer out a winner. It has been interesting to watch the Hokies since Michael Brewer has come back as QB. He started the last 5 games of the season & Tech went 3-2 but those 2 losses were by a combined 5 points to Duke & UNC. If Brewer is healthy you almost wonder if Tech would have gone 11-1. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Foster Farms Bowl: In case you were wondering this used to be the Fight Hunger Bowl which used to be the Emerald Bowl which used to be the San Francisco Bowl. This is one of those bowl games that is better off dead than living. Nebraska doesn’t even have a winning record & these two teams met in 2013. I guess it’s a chance to watch Josh Rosen, but at the same time, UCLA is in a no win situation. They are playing a 5-7 team. A very unexciting bowl. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Military Bowl: This is the 8th installment of the Military Bowl & only twice before has one of the service academies been in the game & both times they lost! If the Notre Dame commonality means anything this should be a FANTASTIC bowl game. I think the Panthers have been underrated all season & this will also be Navy QB Keenan Reynolds’ last game. I’d love to see the Middies win & finish the season 11-2. What an amazing season for Navy. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Quick Lane Bowl: I think this is one of 3 games played in baseball stadiums. The Pinstripe Bowl is played in Yankee Stadium & the Alamo Bowl is played on Chase Field home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This another bowl featuring a sub-.500 team in the Gophers who are 5-7 taking on Central Michigan at 7-5. Sort of a no win for the Big 10. If they win they should, but if they lose it’s embarrassing. The Gophers are a tough crew so I think they’ll pull this one out. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Armed Forces Bowl: This used to be the Ft. Worth Bowl! This an interesting game to watch as far as contrast in styles is concerned. Air Force is a run heavy team with their spread option attack & they should see some success as Cal’s defense is very porous. QB Jared Goff, on the other hand, should have no trouble moving Cal’s offense up & down the field. This might be one of those games where defenses don’t really matter & whoever has the ball last wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Russell Athletic Bowl: The first big game of the bowl season pits 9-3 Baylor up against 11-2 North Carolina. I’d be a lot more excited about this game if I knew that Seth Russell & Corey Coleman were suiting up for the Bears, but they aren’t. Even Jarrett Stidham is on the sidelines so we are only seeing a shadow of what Baylor really is. That said, Baylor still should move the ball but I think the Tar Heels prevail in this one & get to 12-2 & an incredible finish. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arizona Bowl: The first non-championship bowl game to feature teams from the same conference since the 1979 Orange Bowl which featured Oklahoma & Nebraska. This is the worst bowl of them all this year. Two teams from the Mountain West? Even worse is that neither team is any good. Theoretically this game should be MW v. CUSA or MW v. Sun Belt, but neither conference could come up with a team so we get MW v. MW. What in the world went wrong? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas Bowl: How lucky is the Mad Hatter? Les Miles goes from essentially being fired to beating Texas A&M & then getting a bowl game against a team that Lenoard Fournette might actually rush for 300 yards against! Texas Tech throws the ball entirely too much for a defense like LSU! The Tigers are likely to come up with 2-3 interceptions to go along with Fournette’s dominance while spells blowout city for LSU. As always, Texas Tech really needs a defense. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Birmingham Bowl: Memphis let down at the end of the season. The Tigers started 8-0 but went 1-3 in their last 4 to finish 9-3 & 3rd in the AAC  West. For that they were rewarded with a bowl game against the SEC West last place team! Auburn is a big name of course, but it feels like Memphis deserved better than a 6-6 team if only to see how Paxton Lynch performs against at top shelf defense from one of the Big 5 conferences. Conversely, Auburn could win! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Belk Bowl: This is sort of an interesting game as both teams have decent records but you could certainly argue that both teams beat up on the dregs of their conference along with some non-conference cupcakes to get where they are. I love Mississippi St. & like where NC State is going, but both teams need to take that next step. The Wolfpack don’t have much to stop Dak Prescott who will be making his last start as a MS State QB. He’s had an amazing career! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Music City Bowl: Obviously the storyline here is Kevin Sumlin & his fate with Texas A&M. Kyle Allen & Kyler Murray are transferring. Last year Kenny Hill transferred meaning Sumlin has lost 3 ELITE QBs to transfer in the last 2 seasons. Sumlin needs the win here to take a little bit of the heat off, but I don’t see them getting it. Louisville is a solid football team & Bobby Petrino has time to prepare against a 3rd string QB. The SEC West is no joke my friends! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Holiday Bowl: I’ve read rumors that a lot of big money donors at USC did not want Clay Helton to be the next HC & that a lot of boosters preferred USC to make a splash & go hard after a candidate like Nick Saban! That seems crazy but it also points to the heat being on Helton to produce quick or face a fast exit. A win over Wisconsin would definitely buy some time but the Badgers could use this game to prove they are among the nation’s elite football teams. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Peach Bowl: A brutal draw for Florida State. Some big 5 conference team was going to draw Houston & it’s a no-win situation. Beat Houston & who cares? It’s Houston. Lose to Houston & catch flack for losing to a non-Big 5 conference opponent. Houston is a good squad but they haven’t seen ANYTHING close to Dalvin Cook! No team has average more than 4ypc on Houston’s D this year but Cook averages 7.9ypc & ran for 7+ypc on a nasty Florida D-line. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Orange Bowl: ACC champ versus Big XII champ! Clemson comes in at 13-0 while the Sooners have won 7 straight games. I have the sneaking suspicion that Oklahoma is going to roll Clemson pretty hard in this game. The Sooners have played the like the best team in football for the past 7 weeks & I don’t see that offense being stopped. The scary part is how good the Sooners defense has been as well. I think OU wins big & the ACC is exposed as very inferior. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cotton Bowl: SEC champ versus Big 10 champ. It’s worth noting that Tide QB Jake Coker is averaging 191 yards per game. That might not mean much, but this game is going to come down to how well Michigan St. can defend Derrick Henry in the Alabama running game. If they can limit Henry then it forces Coker to try & win the game & that is something he hasn’t had to do. I think Alabama wins, but if the Spartans defense of the last 4 weeks shows up…… Computer Hope
Computer Hope Outback Bowl: Touch matchup for Northwestern & this is a bowl I’m really looking forward to. At 10-2, you’d think the Wildcats would have an advantage over the 8-4 Vols, but I think by year’s end Tennessee was playing like the SEC’s second best squad so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see UT’s superior talent & athleticism overwhelm Northwestern. Then again, Northwestern has been ugly all season & figures out ways to still get wins. Should be a great game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Citrus Bowl: The Gators got some horrible news this past week when it learned of Will Grier’s intent to transfer! That’s awful news but somehow I don’t think it’ll mess up what Jim McElwain is going to do down in Gainesville. Florida didn’t draw well anyway & I think the Gators are in for a curb stomping at the hands of Jim Harbaugh & the Wolverines who definitely want to get that 10th victory. Although they’ll lose, Florida ends with an impressive 10 wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Fiesta Bowl: A playoff game that isn’t, Ohio St. at 11-1 & Notre Dame at 10-2 are likely the first two teams taken if the playoffs were to expand from 4 to 8. Ohio St. is the best team in the nation if it plays like it did against Michigan & I don’t see the Irish beating them. Then again, the Buckeyes sometimes don’t show up. They will against the Irish so I think ND needs to keep it close & see what happens. The worst case scenario for ND is shades of 2012 v. Alabama. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Rose Bowl: Like ND/Ohio St., it’s hard not to see this game as an extension of the playoffs as these 2 would have certainly been the other 2 if the field had expanded to 8. I’m in the tank for Iowa so I’m rooting hard for the Hawkeyes to win & finish 13-1! Iowa will also have their eyes on Michigan State. If the Spartans end up winning the national championship then Iowa has a legit claim to be the #2 team in the nation & probably should be so. Go Hawks! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sugar Bowl: Unfortunately we won’t get to see DT/DE Robert Nkemdiche. The 6’4/295lbs potential #1 overall draft pick is suspended. I love this game in that it’s a good test of overall conference strength. OK State is probably the 4th best team in the Big XII while Ole Miss is likely the 2nd/3rd best in the SEC. Should be a layup for the Rebels & that is what I’d expect. The closest defense OK State has seen to Ole Miss is Oklahoma’s and that was ugly! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Taxslayer Bowl: This is an exciting matchup when you look at the jerseys only as both programs are historically great, but right now neither is very good. These teams are a combined 0-7 against AP Top-25 teams which is an amazing stat considering. The Dawgs are probably the 7th-8th best team in the SEC while Penn St. is probably the 7th best team in the Big 10. It’s a good test to determine the overall depth of the conferences, but it won’t live up to the names. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Liberty Bowl: Brutal draw for Kansas St. as they don’t defend the run all that well & Arkansas is an ELITE rushing offense. Arkansas really turned their play on at the end of the season & if they didn’t struggle early on they probably would have been the 2nd place team in the West. I think Bret Bielema also wants to build which means the 7-5 Razorbacks need a win to get to 8-5 which is a game better than last year’s 7-6 team. K-State isn’t very good. Hogs roll. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Alamo Bowl: OUTSTANDING BOWL MATCH-UP! There were more than a few people before the season began that entertained thoughts that this game would be for the national championship. The good news is that TCU QB Trevone Boykin will play & maybe even WR Josh Doctson could get in on the action. The bad news is Oregon right now is a top-5 team & TCU’s defense is still atrocious. Both teams score but Oregon might score 60! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Cactus Bowl: This is an important game for the Big XII. Arizona St. might be the 9th best team in the Pac 12 this year & I think the Big XII has a shot to lose quite a few bowl games. A win by the Mountaineers could at least add some credence to the depth of the conference. A loss here though could mean a clean sweep of the Big XII outside of Oklahoma, but given the state of college football right now, it seems like the ACC & Big XII are severely lacking. Computer Hope

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Air Force, Akron, Alabama, Appalachian St., Arizona, Arizona St., Arkansas, Arkansas St., Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Boise St., Bowl Season, Bowling Green, BYU, California, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado St., Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia St., Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Marshall, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Middle Tennessee St., Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Must See Games, N. Illinois, Navy, NC State, NCAA, NCAA Playoffs, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Pittsburgh, Playoffs, San Diego St., San Jose St., South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Tennessee, Texas AM, Texas Tech, Toledo, Tulsa, UCLA, USC, Utah, Utah St., Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

NCAA POWER-25 WEEK 14 2015

The regular season is finished and after the first 6-7 teams, the rankings get really dicey as you could make an argument for any of a number of teams for each slot. When compiling these rankings I tried to take the entirely of the season into consideration.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope With the regular season complete & a full body of work to analyze, Michigan St. comes out as the obvious #1 team in the nation. Michigan St. went on the road to beat both Michigan & Ohio State. They beat Oregon at home. Took down a 12-0 Iowa team in the Big 10 title game. Those 4 teams are a combined 41-8 and all 4 rank in my top-12! Over their last 4 games, the Spartans have allowed 12.5PPG which has made all the difference. If there is a team designed to beat Alabama, it’s Michigan St. & they play in the semis!
#2 Computer Hope No Big XII championship game, but that doesn’t change things for me with the Sooners. Oklahoma heads into the playoff as arguably the hottest team in college football. They’ve won 7 straight games saving their best for the likes of Oklahoma St., TCU & Baylor. The win over Tennessee looks great now. The loss to Texas galvanized this football team. After that defeat, Oklahoma has destroyed all comers. There was a scare against TCU, but Oklahoma bounced back after that with a road win over OK State by 35 points! Nuts!
#3 Computer Hope Clemson did it! They are 13-0 & the last undefeated team standing, but don’t be shocked if Oklahoma rolls them in the semifinals. While Michigan St.’s ugliness has been on display, Clemson’s is oftentimes overlooked because they are 13-0 but let’s not forget they should have lost to Notre Dame. They barely go by Louisville the week before. Syracuse played them tough. South Carolina almost pulled off a stunning win over the Tigers. They gave up 41 against NC State & struggled against UNC & FSU. Good team? Yes. Great team?
#4 Computer Hope Going by resume, I have to slide Alabama to 4th. It doesn’t matter because they are still in the playoffs and they are still facing off against Michigan St. which is what actually is happening, but the #4 ranking is merited because the Tide hasn’t won any elite games. Their toughest opponent this year has been Ole Miss & Alabama lost that one. I’d bet on them to win the national championship though. Your offense isn’t going to handle Alabama’s defense & your defense can’t contain Derrick Henry for all 4 quarters. Very hard to beat.
#5 Computer Hope Now that Michigan St. beat Iowa in the Big 10 championship game, it makes you wonder even more what in the world was going on with Ohio St.’s play calling in their game against the Spartans. It’s a complete shame that Ezekiel Elliott isn’t a Heisman finalist. Elliott was actually better than Derrick Henry on a per rush basis. Even not adjusting, Elliott ran for 1672yds & 19TD. Not a bad season. You could also make a case that Ohio St. should be in the playoffs over Alabama or Oklahoma, but winning your conference holds weight.
#6 Computer Hope Knowing what we know now, it might have been too much to drop Vernon Adams into East Lansing in his 2nd ever start for the Ducks, but even then Oregon lost by 3 to my #1 ranked team. The losses to Utah & Washington St. are odd but Adams was hurt. Oregon would have made a very interesting team with a healthy Adams. If they had gone 12-1 (which is likely) then I don’t think you could have kept Oregon out which means Oklahoma would have likely been a casualty. Oregon now gets tough TCU as a consolation prize.
#7 Computer Hope Hard to argue with an 11- 2 season which includes a Pac 12 championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon beats TCU then the loss to the Ducks is negligible, but what kills Stanford is their Week 1 loss to Northwestern. What would have been really interesting is how the playoff committee would have decided between Michigan St., Oklahoma & Stanford if all 3 teams had one loss yet Michigan St. lost to Nebraska, Stanford lost to Oregon & Oklahoma lost to Texas. Impossible to think Stanford would be left out.
#8 Computer Hope 50+ yard field goals and hurricanes prevented the Irish from a perfect 12-0 season and given the injury battles Notre Dame has faced, it’s a small miracle that the team finished 10-2. When healthy I’m not sure I saw a more complete team than the Irish. It took Brian Kelly a little longer than most people expected, but I think this year, year 6, is where everything came together. The big question facing Notre Dame now is how they’ll fare against Ohio State. Nobody wants a repeat of 2012 where ND was exposed in a big bowl.
#9 Computer Hope I have Michigan St. ranked #1 in the nation so the Hawkeyes could easily make a case they should be #2. They did nothing against Michigan St. to make me think they don’t deserve to be 12-1. A couple of thoughts on the Big 10 championship game. When Jordan Canzeri went down I thought Iowa was in trouble. Leshun Daniels & Akrum Wadley have done a good job but Canzeri is the man. Iowa needed him. LT Boone Myers GOT WORKED by Shilique Calhoun. Iowa lost that matchup big time & it probably cost them the game.
#10 Computer Hope It’s very bizarre how this team can go on the road and beat Alabama by 6, but then two weeks later go on the road & lose to Florida by 28 points! The win over Alabama is the best win in the nation this season so it’s hard to ignore. It’s impossible to figure out how Ole Miss loses to Arkansas, Florida & Memphis, but when the Rebels are playing well, they are not turning the ball over & QB Chad Kelly is slinging the ball around to a dominant WR corps that opens up the game for RB Jaylen Walton. I hope they show up for their bowl.
#11 Computer Hope The Tar Heels played Clemson tougher than I expected but I wouldn’t get too caught up in the 45-37 final score. Clemson had a 35-16 lead late in the 3rd quarter & Carolina never really could catch up. Carolina is going to get knocked for scheduling weak teams. The 11-2 record is a bit soft to be sure, but the ACC Coastal is going through some changes & Larry Fedora has the Heels ready to rock. There is a window here where UNC could potentially get into the playoffs if they can avoid let down games & win the ACC title game.
#12 Computer Hope After Ohio St. lost to Michigan St., some Michigan fans were talking about impressed they were with the Buckeyes that they’d throw their season just to ruin Michigan’s chances at a Big 10 championship. Turns out the opposite was true. Michigan’s loss to Michigan St. effectively ended Ohio St.’s opportunity  to win the Big 10 East which likely would have pushed the Buckeyes to 12-1 (sorry Iowa fans) & given them the chance to defend their national championship. GOOD JOB BLUE! Michigan shouldn’t have problems with Florida.
#13 Computer Hope I’m not penalizing Stanford for losing to Northwestern anymore, but consider how high the Wildcats could go if they win their bowl game. If Iowa & Michigan both win their bowls, NW could be an 11-2 squad with losses to Iowa (13-1) & Michigan (10-3). Speaking of a NW bowl win, the Wildcats draw Tennessee is what is easily one of the best bowl games of the year. Right now I’d rank Tennessee the 2nd best team in the SEC behind Alabama. If Northwestern can get a bowl win over the Vols then this might be a top 6-8 squad.
#14 Computer Hope Let’s go back to equalizing seasons to Derrick Henry’s workload. This time we’ll go with Dalvin Cook of Florida State. As previously mentioned, Henry is going to NYC as a Heisman finalist, but if Cook had the same workload as Henry, he would have rushed for 2,664 yards & 29TD! Cook averaged 7.9ypc & the only player to average more with at least 100 carries on the season was Georgia Southern’s Matt Breida who averaged 8.2ypc. It’s sort of amazing how much attention Cook doesn’t get given how good he has been.
#15 Computer Hope The good news for TCU is that they should be healthier by the time their bowl comes around. The bad news is that TCU has to play Oregon with at defense that isn’t exactly the finest that Gary Patterson has put out there. I feel like the Frogs should be higher, but once again I think it comes back to Big XII scheduling. With only 3 out of conference games, the impetus on Big XII teams to schedule difficult opponents is extremely high. Unfortunately for most of the Big XII teams, that wasn’t taken too seriously & thus they are penalized.
#16 Computer Hope The Cowboys’s bowl assignment is a very difficult one in Ole Miss, especially when you consider that the Rebels & Hugh Freeze are likely coveting a 10 win season. But it’s also an opportunity for the Big XII to prove they were a very powerful conference. An Oklahoma St. win over the Rebels would definitely make a statement showing that the Big XII can hammer elite competition even when it doesn’t schedule elite teams in their non-conference slate. OK State should have been 6-6 this year. Going 10-2 is a tremendous win.
#17 Computer Hope If you are going by resume, then placing Wisconsin this high is tenuous even though Wisconsin finished the year a very respectable 9-3. The problem is that all 9 wins came against losing teams. Wisconsin faced 3 teams all season with a winning record. They were 0-3. The flip side is Wisconsin lost to Iowa & Northwestern by a combined 10 points & they lost their opener to Alabama of all teams. I love the draw of USC in the bowl game. Beat the Trojans & Wisconsin is looking at a season of what might have been.
#18 Computer Hope Arkansas had no issues hammering Missouri 28-3 in the season finale to finish the season 7-5 & in a tie for 3rd in the SEC West. Alex Collins & Kody Walker rank wild over an overmatched Mizzou team. The Tigers were playing for a bowl, but it hardly mattered. In Arkansas’s last 8 games of 2015 & their last last 6 games of 2014, the Hogs are 10-4. That means they are 4-7 in their early games which shows that if the Razorbacks can avoid their early season swoons, they’d be a bigger factor in the SEC West & SEC itself.
#19 Computer Hope Florida was exposed once again this past week in their 29-15 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game. In their last 2 weeks the Gators have been outscored 56-17 by Florida St. & Alabama. It happens. The basic narrative is that Florida took advantage of a very down SEC East to win the division in Jim McElwain’s first year, but this team was different when Will Grier got suspended. That’s a tough break. I love McElwain & believe he’s going to win multiple championships in Gainesville if he sticks around.
#20 Computer Hope Northwestern is a great draw for Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. You can do all sorts of contortions with schedule & opponents, but if Tennessee beats Northwestern & Northwestern beat Stanford then the Vols are in an interesting position in that they would finish the season 9-4 with losses to Alabama, Florida, Arkansas & Oklahoma by a combined 17 points. Northwestern beat Iowa & Michigan but if the Hawkeyes & Wolverines win their bowl games, a win for Tennessee should move them up considerably in the polls.
#21 Computer Hope Baylor beat Texas Tech & West Virginia by a combined 52 points. Oklahoma beat them by a combined 56 points & TCU beat them by a combined 33 points. Baylor played both of those games with Seth Russell as their starting QB. Russell missed Baylor’s last 5 games in which the Bears went 2-3. The losses to TCU, Oklahoma & Texas were by a combined 23 points. Does anyone seriously think Russell doesn’t make up the difference in those games? You can’t ignore the 1-3 finish but Baylor is much different without Russell.
#22 Computer Hope HC Les Miles & LSU sort of get screwed because the season opening game against McNeese St. was canceled due to weather. That is a certain win for the Tigers meaning LSU would be playing for a 10 win season in their bowl game rather than a 9 win season. I think it makes a difference. Texas Tech is a great draw for the Tigers. Leonard Fournette could rush for 300 yards against a brutal Red Raiders defense, and Texas Tech passes so much that LSU will probably come up with 2-3 picks. That will quiet the doubters for a second.
#23 Computer Hope I’m a little surprised that Dan Mullen is still the head coach in Starkville. I suppose BYU is still open but I’ve heard that Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo might be taking that job. That’s a huge win for Mississippi St. as they keep a premiere coach on the sidelines. NC State is a good bowl game for the Bulldogs as it should result in a win & a 9-4 record for MSU. That’s a tremendous season as most expected the Bulldogs to be down. It’ll be interesting to see if Mullen can take MSU to an annual 10-3/11-2 years with a possible 12-1.
#24 Computer Hope It would have been cool to see USC close out Stanford in the Pac 12 title game instead of losing 41-22, but the Trojans had absolutely no answer for Christian McCaffery & USC was punished with TOP as the Cardinal held the ball for almost 36 minutes. Given the Sarkisian mess mid-way through the season, you have to look at USC as a big success story given that they started the year 3-3 (1-2) and still managed to win the Pac 12 South! Drawing Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl is interesting. A win would be huge going into ’16.
#25 Computer Hope You have to give credit to the Cougars. The other 3 best teams in the AAC this year were Memphis, Navy & Temple & Houston beat all 3 in the last 4 weeks of the season. The only team  Houston didn’t beat that could have been interesting in conference play is South Florida that is nitpicking. The biggest news though is Houston keeping Tom Herman as their HC. The first year HC went 12-1 & drew plenty of interest. Instead he’s sticking. Houston gets Florida St. in the Peach Bowl. Let’s see how they deal with Dalvin Cook.

DROPPING OUT

WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS (previously #25): The loss to Kansas St. kills West Virginia. I think you look at this team a lot differently if they are 8-4 with losses to Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma & Oklahoma State. Those 4 teams are a combined 40-8! Finishing 7-5 with a loss to K-State changes things for me & I had to drop them out of the top-25. To me this is one of the most interesting storylines in college football. Remember that when Dana Holgorsen took over the Mountaineers in 2011, it was West Virginia’s last season in the Big East. Holgorsen won the Big East & then won the Orange Bowl in his first season. It hasn’t been easy sledding in the Big XII, but things are trending in the right directions. Let’s look at WVU’s rankings in scoring offense & scoring defense within the conference the 4 years since WVU’s been in the Big XII

2012: Offense = 39.5PPG; Defense = 38.1PPG; Overall Difference = +1.4
2013: Offense = 26.3PPG; Defense = 33.3PPG; Overall Difference = -7.0
2014: Offense = 33.5PPG; Defense = 27.6PPG; Overall Difference = +5.9
2015: Offense = 33.3PPG; Defense = 23.2PPG; Overall Difference = +10.1

The Mountaineers are getting it defensively. The offense had a little blip in 2013 and that is an easy explanation in that Clint Trickett wasn’t healthy that year & WVU had to expect a little decline after having Geno Smith in 2012. Still, the Trickett injuries probably kept WVU from getting back to 30+PPG.

What will be VERY INTERESTING is seeing if WVU’s administration sees how good a job Holgorsen is doing in Morgantown. The one point loss to Kansas St. was extremely disappointing but if WVU can go out & beat Arizona St. in teh bowl game, they’ll be 8-5 & on the upswing in 2016. The offense should be as good as it was in 2012 & potentially better as WVU might be able to score 40PPG. What is going to be interesting is seeing what West Virginia does defensively as they lose an awful lot of production from that side of the football.

Holgorsen might find himself on the hot seat, but he shouldn’t. Not by a long shot.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Dana Holgorsen, Florida, Florida St., Houston, Iowa, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Power 25, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Week 14, West Virginia, Wisconsin | Leave a comment