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RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE COACHES – #39 to #30

Here are the links for the first two installments:

#50 – #65
#49-#40

if you need to catch up. Today we hit the thirties and I think the rankings start to become quite a bit more interesting as we start to hit some pretty big names in the coaching world. Let’s get to it.

#39 – P.J. Fleck – Minnesota

Yeah I’m rowing the boat! It’s difficult to argue Fleck’s track record as a first time head coach at Western Michigan. In his first year he led the Broncos to an 1-11 season. By his 4th year, WMU finished with a perfect 13-0 season before losing to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl 24-16. Western finished 29-11 (20-4) in Fleck’s last 3 years as HC. Fleck brings an excitement to Minnesota that Gophers fans haven’t experienced since Murray Warmath led Minnesota to back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1960-1961! You probably don’t even remember those teams unless you were born in the 1940s or early 1950s! It’s hard to argue with his success, but Fleck faces a completely different animal in the Big 10. Iowa, Nebraska & Wisconsin aren’t Ball St., Kent St. and Bowling Green. It’ll be interesting to see if Fleck can raise the ceiling for Gopher football.

#38 – Tom Herman – Texas

The hottest coaching prospect last season who happened to have deep roots in Texas wound up as the new HC for the Longhorns after the university had had enough of Charlie Strong’s leadership. As with Fleck, it’s almost impossible to deny Herman’s track record. He was Urban Meyer’s OC at Ohio State before jumping to the head coaching job at Houston where in his first season, Herman led the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a final ranking inside the top-10! I think Herman is a better fit within the Texas culture than Strong was and he’ll do well. He’s a good solid coach that connects with players and it won’t be long before he’s tearing it up on the recruiting trail once he gets the foundation of the program built. As with Fleck, the road will be a bit tougher. Playing in the American isn’t the Big XII and instead of Tulane, East Carolina and Memphis, Herman will go up against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., TCU, Baylor and Kansas State.

#37 – Willie Taggart – Oregon

Taggart was an interesting hire for Oregon, but once it was known that Chip Kelly wasn’t coming back to college football, the Ducks had to move on and all Taggart has done as his time as a college football coach is build winners. Taggart played prep ball in Florida and then played his college ball at Western Kentucky where he was an assistant for 8 years before taking the RB coaching job at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh. From there he came back to his alma mater to be HC. He inherited a WKU team that went 0-12 the year before Taggart arrived, but in Taggart’s 2nd year, he had WKU at 7-5. In his 3rd and final year he had WKU bowling. Taggart left WKU to return to his home state of Florida and coach USF where he took over a Bulls team that went 3-9 before he arrived. By year 4 the Bulls were 11-2. Now he is going to attempt to bring Oregon back to the heights reached by Chip Kelly. Unlike Herman & Fleck above, Taggart has hit the recruiting trail hard and it is paying off early. It’ll be interesting to see how Taggart does at an elite program with massive resources. His track record speaks for itself.

#36 – Bret Bielema – Arkansas

The decision to leave Wisconsin for Arkansas was an interesting one for Bielema a few years ago and after the Hogs 2016 campaign, the shine is off of Arkansas’s head coach. Bielema took over a program that was in pretty bad shape after a year of John Smith as HC coming off the Bobby Petrino scandal. Bielema’s first year wasn’t pretty as Arkansas went 3-9 without a win in conference play, but by year 3 (2015), Arkansas 8-5 (5-3) and poised to potentially step into the role of challenger to Alabama in the SEC West. It wasn’t meant to be as Arkansas regressed last season to 7-6 (3-5) with a bowl loss. The 7-6 isn’t completely awful, but the losses were terrible. Arkansas was blown out in all of their losses except a close loss to Missouri which itself was inexcusable. I’m not completely sold on Bielema’s style of offense working in the SEC West, and truth be told, the worst thing for Bielema is having to live up the incredible expectations Bobby Petrino set when he was in Fayetteville. LSU has been dealing with a similar situation after Nick Saban took the Tigers to top-5 status.

#35 – Gary Andersen – Oregon State

Andersen is one of my favorite head coaches in college football and Oregon St. is one of my favorite teams. The two coming together was great for me as I think college football is better when Oregon State is relevant. That’s probably just me, but so what! It’s interesting that I ended up with Bielema and Andersen together as both left Wisconsin for other jobs. Andersen is a helluva head coach. He turned Utah State into an 11-win team with a WAC championship in 4 season. He took Wisconsin to a Big 10 West title in his 2nd year. When Mike Riley left Oregon St. for Nebraska, their was quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Beavers program. Andersen came in and struggled his first year going 2-10 (0-9) but in his 2nd season last year, the Beavers improved to 4-8 (3-6) with conference wins over California, Arizona and hated rival Oregon! The scoring defense and scoring offense were also improved by 7 points each. The Pac 12 North is getting scary good with Chris Petersen doing work at Washington, Mike Leach winning at Washington St. and Willie Taggart taking over at Oregon, but something tells me Andersen is going to make life hard for those guys.

#34 – Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech

Absolutely love what Fuente did with the Hokies last season. Fuente had a lot of success at Memphis before taking the Virginia Tech job, but he’s been nothing but spades since landing in Blacksburg. Keeping Bud Foster on staff as DC was a genius move and speaks volumes as to the kind of man Foster is. Fuente also brought a run heavy attack to Virginia Tech which I think works in their favor. The Hokies have always been known under Bud Foster for having a very intimidating, turnover causing, very fast defense that hits exceptionally hard. Keeping those guys fresh and healthy by dominating time of possession is outstanding strategy that Fuente used last year to win the ACC Coastal in his first season where VT finished the year 10-4 and ranked #16 in the AP. Fuente is making deep strides in recruiting already and once the talent is assembled, Virginia Tech is going to be extremely difficult to handle.

#33 – Hugh Freeze – Mississippi

Like Bielema, the shine has dulled a bit on Freeze’s tenure in Oxford. After improving by a win each year for 3 straight years after a 7-6 campaign in 2012, Freeze and the Rebels took a tremendous step back last season finishing 5-7 (2-6). The overall records can also be a bit misleading as Freeze’s 5-year record in SEC play is not even .500 at 19-21. The bigger problem is the controversy surrounding the Ole Miss program and the NCAA violations. Ole Miss has taken a hit in recruiting already and if recruiting dries up for the Rebels then that spells disaster in arguably the most competitive division in all of college football. There is no question that Freeze can make Ole Miss great. He proved that in 2015, but how he deals with a potential fall out from these mistakes will be telling. The best news for Freeze at this point is that he’s still head coach and that QB Shea Patterson decided to stick around. With no bowl eligibility this season, Ole Miss should be playing like a teach with a chip on their shoulder.

#32 – Mike MacInytre – Colorado

You knew it was only a matter of time before Coach Mac had Colorado on the cusp of greatness. When MacIntyre got his first job as a HC at San Jose State, he finished 1-12 (0-8) in his first season as the Spartans leader. In year 3, San Jose St. went 10-2 (5-1) and beat Bowling Green in the Military Bowl! MacIntyre used that success to grab the Colorado job and what he did in Year 4 in Boulder almost defies reality. The Colorado rebuild wasn’t going to be easy. Not by a long shot. MacIntyre’s first 3 years as HC witnessed Colorado post a combined record of 10-27 with a conference record of 2-25!!!! Those were 3 straight last place finishes in the Pac 12 South! Last season, MacIntyre broke though HUGE as Colorado went 10-4 (8-1), won the Pac 12 South and drew Oklahoma St. in the Alamo Bowl. The Buffs posted wins over Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, Utah, and Washington State! It was a BANNER year that was dampened a bit by losing 41-10 to Washington in the Pac 12 championship and 38-8 to Oklahoma St. in the Alamo Bowl. Was the breakthrough real, or did Coach Mac take advantage of an unusually weak Pac 12? Oregon was way down. UCLA was down. Arizona St. & Arizona were down. They beat Stanford 10-5 in an ugly contest and drew Utah & Washington St. in Boulder. I’m betting on MacIntyre. I think Colorado is good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Buffaloes regressed just a bit in 2017.

#31 – Larry Fedora – North Carolina

This feels low considering it was just two years ago that Fedora led the Tar Heels to an 11-3 (8-0) record that saw the UNC win the ACC Coastal relatively easy. A deeper look though and you come away disappointed just a bit. That 2015 season was smoke and mirrors as UNC finished the regular season 11-1 but didn’t play a ranked opponent all season. They lost to Clemson in the ACC Championship game and then lost to Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Last season, the Coastal was again ripe for the taking but UNC gags at home to NC State in the season finale 28-21 and loses to Duke in Durham two weeks before 28-27! That seems ridiculous when you consider just how much offensive firepower the Heels had last season. Fedora has had some good seasons in Chapel Hill but no great ones and that task is going to get tougher and tougher now that Virginia Tech is in seemingly good hands with Justin Fuente and Miami-FL now has one of the best coaches in all of college football in Mark Richt. I really like Fedora and believe he can climb the rankings, but at this point it seems as if UNC has missed a couple of opportunities.

#30 – Mike Riley – Nebraska

The problem with Nebraska is that haven’t found anyone that can take the program to the heights that Tom Osborne did. Frank Solich wasn’t horrible actually and had a few top-10 squads in Lincoln, but not enough big time wins against bit time teams. The hiring of Bill Callahan was a disaster and Bo Pelini couldn’t quite get Nebraska past the 9-4/10-4 mark. Now Mike Riley gets his chance. Riley did wonderful things at Oregon St., and I was a bit surprised that he took the Cornhuskers job, but Oregon St. isn’t Nebraska and Riley now has every resource available to him. In his first season Nebraska wasn’t great at 6-7 (3-5) but last year Riley improved to 9-4 (6-3) with a perfect 7-0 record at home. Nebraska was even ranked #7 in the nation at one point after starting 7-0! It wouldn’t last as Nebraska would go on to lose games to Iowa, Ohio St., Wisconsin & Tennessee, but the season was a win. Riley is making big strides in recruiting and I think he’s putting an emphasis on the Black Shirts which is getting back to Nebraska football.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arkansas, Big 10, Big XII, Coaching, Colorado, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, Texas, Virginia Tech | 3 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 7 – BIG GAMES

Week 5 already!! This is crazy! I hate how fast the college football goes by. After this week there will be some teams that are one win away from bowl eligibility. That sounds crazy but it’s true. Let’s get to this week best 10 games.

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Wisconsin did an outstanding job locking Michigan’s running attack down a couple of weeks ago in a 14-7 loss. The Wolverines ran for 130 yards but it took them 44 tries to get to that number. Ohio St. averages 51 rushing attempts per game so while Ohio St. & Michigan are run first teams, they are a little different in how they get there. This is a monster game at Camp-Randall & I don’t think it’ll be much different than the Michigan/Wisconsin game. Can the Badgers score enough? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Forget losing. Tennessee needs to show up and not completely embarrass themselves in this one. The Vols have played with fire all season long and finally their magic ran out against Texas A&M last week, but things could get ugly in Knoxville and here is why. The Tennessee rush defense is pitiful. Alabama is a PUNISHING running football team. Tennessee is the 4th worst team in turnovers committed. Alabama is 13th in turnovers gained. Put that together & Bama might win by 40! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sort of an under the radar SEC West game because both Alabama & Texas A&M are undefeated, but there are pretty cool implications here. Both teams have 2 losses so the loser here can’t win 10 regular season games which I think is a pretty big deal for both clubs. Arkansas wants to take the next step while Ole Miss needs 11 wins on the season to keep their 1-win per year improvement streak going. Another incentive for Ole Miss is that they can still finish 2nd in the SEC West. Solid game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Colorado suffered a heart breaking loss to USC last week in SoCal 21-17 but this week come back against Arizona St. with a chance to right the ship & stay atop the Pac 12 South standings. Arizona St. lost to USC 41-20 so maybe that is a harbinger of things to come for the Buffs. It’ll be an interesting game for Colorado because they’ve had a bit of a problem with teams who like to grind out games on the ground. ASU wants to run first so Colorado better come ready with their rush D. Computer Hope
Computer Hope If either of these teams want to win the ACC Coastal then the most important aspect of this game might be the remaining schedule for Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels have to win out and hope the Hokies lose two conference games. That isn’t going to happen so at best UNC can play spoiler to Miami-FL. The Hurricanes lost a brutal 20-19 gut check game in a Hurricane to Florida State! It’s not a season ender, but Miami-FL has to win this game & they have to beat VT just five days later! Wow! Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s interesting that the Cougars couldn’t beat E. Washington & Boise St., but can beat Oregon & Stanford in back to back weeks by the combined score of 93-49! While that might not be as impressive as Washington’s combined 114-27 over those 2 teams, there is no question that Wazzou could easily be 9-2 when they host the Huskies for the Apple Cup on November 25th! UCLA isn’t a bad team so this will be tough for Wazzou but it’s another opportunity for WSU to make a statement. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It can’t feel good for Houston to have to suit up for Tulsa after having lost to Navy. Tulsa runs the ball like they don’t know how to do anything else. The attack is different than Navy’s but Houston is in for another smash mouth football game. The Golden Hurricane defense isn’t the best, but their only loss has come to Ohio State & they’ve been racking up the points against everyone else. Houston can get right back on the horse with a win here, but I think this could be a very close game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The last time Indiana hosted a ranked team in Bloomington was……HEY it was two weeks ago!!! The Hoosiers took down a ranked Michigan St. team 24-21. This week Indiana welcomes Nebraska into Memorial Stadium in the hopes of beating 2 ranked teams in a 3-week span! For all intents & purposes, this looks like a Husker walk, but everyone thought that about Sparty too. If Indiana wins this game they are capable of getting to 9-3. A  bowl win and Indiana could finish 10-3! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon St. finally caught somebody sleeping last week and beat Cal 47-44. The Bears play practically no defense so Oregon St. was able to gouge them for almost 500 rushing yards! The Beavers are going to face a MUCH tougher defense in Utah, but the game is in Corvallis and Gary Andersen is a helluva coach so he’ll have Oregon St. ready for the Utes. This is certainly a trap game for Utah who needs a win here before traveling to UCLA. They can’t over look Oregon St. or they’ll lose. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game could have some massive implications because I think Iowa St. HC Matt Campbell is throwing down the gauntlet in the Big XII. The Cyclones probably should have beaten both Baylor & Oklahoma St. these past two weeks which would have put them in the hunt for a Big XII title at this point! The Longhorns are reeling & you get the feeling ISU is going to catch somebody slipping. Charlie Strong is hanging by a thread but could he survive a home loss to Iowa St. & a 2-4 record? Computer Hope

October 10, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas, Big Games, Colorado, Houston, Indiana, Iowa St., Miami-FL, Mississippi, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio St, Oregon St., Tennessee, Texas, Tulsa, UCLA, Utah, Washington St., Week 7, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 13 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope This is a great rivalry game but is growing into an incredible rivalry. Over the last 4 seasons both teams have been ranked in the top-25 while one of the teams have been ranked in the top-10. To me this is the game of the week because of the rivalry but what also could happen. It’s a must win for the Irish who are outside of the playoff top-4 & need a signature win with some style points. Stanford ranks #9 in the playoff poll but could get to #5 if they win out! Computer Hope
Computer Hope BEDLAM! The last time these two met with this much on the line was 2011 when Oklahoma was 9-2 & Oklahoma St. was 10-1. The 3rd ranked Cowboys would blow out the 13th ranked Sooners in that game 44-10! Don’t expect a repeat. The playoff committee has been very impressed with Oklahoma the last 2 weeks with wins over Baylor & TCU which have OU #3 in the poll! Win & the Big XII is theirs. OK State has to hope for a win & a Baylor loss. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Before the season began we thought we were going to get an insane matchup between Trevone Boykin & Seth Russell. Instead we get Bram Kohlhausen v. Jarrett Stidham! Baylor isn’t out of the woods yet. A win here puts the Bears at 10-1 with a home game against Texas left. The tricky part here is if Baylor won & Oklahoma lost, would an 11-1 Baylor team be good enough to jump an 11-1 Notre Dame team if the Irish win? Oklahoma did so why not Baylor too? Computer Hope
Computer Hope The good news is that it looks like Conner Cook is going to be ready to play Penn St. this weekend. The bad news is that gnawing feeling I have about Michigan St. that has been there all season with their propensity to play with fire. They didn’t exactly hammer Ohio St., and let’s not forget that Sparty has loved playing close games. Penn St. should lose but if Christian Hackenberg goes off then it gets interesting. A win & Sparty wins the Big 10 East. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Don’t count out the Huskers in this one. At 5-6, Nebraska needs this win to get bowl eligible and they are coming off a bye week which gave them an extra week to prepare for Iowa while the Hawkeyes had to take of Purdue last week. Iowa moved into the top-4 of the college playoff poll this week so if they win out they are going to be playing for a championship. I hope the good times keep rolling for Iowa, but they have to be careful to let down at the end. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Amazingly enough these teams are meeting to decide who represents the Pac 12 South in the Pac 12 Championship game against Stanford. It’s an interesting game for a lot of reasons least of which is that both teams could beat Stanford & go to the Rose Bowl. I think what will be sharp contrast is USC having a 5th year senior QB Cody Kessler under center while UCLA throws out true frosh Josh Rosen. UCLA has won 3 straight so you know USC wants revenge. Computer Hope
Computer Hope From a personality standpoint this is the best game of the week and I’m probably ranking it too low although the outcomes doesn’t determine much if Michigan St. beats Penn State. Urban Meyer & Jim Harbaugh could combine to give us the 2nd coming of Woody Hayes/Bo Schembechler. This game means everything if Michigan St. loses, but even if they don’t, this is a HUGE game across the college football landscape! I can’t wait to watch this! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure you can completely throw out the records when these two teams meet in the Iron Bowl. The last two times Auburn & Alabama have faced off with Auburn not being ranked was in 2011 and 2012. Alabama won both games by the combined score of 91-14. Another problem for Auburn is that this will be a very motivated Alabama team. They have to win this game to win the West and move into the SEC Championship game. Roll Tide! Computer Hope
Computer Hope If the last 4 years hold true, then this year is Mississippi St.’s turn to win the Egg Bowl. There is quite a bit to play for here. For Ole Miss they can still win the SEC West if Alabama somehow loses. Both teams a win here keeps a 10-win season in play. For Mississippi St., the game could be bittersweet. It’s the last home game for QB Dak Prescott but it could also be the last home game for HC Dan Mullen as the Bulldogs HC if he decides to take another job for ’16. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Despite the loss last week to UConn, the Cougars can still win the AAC-West with a win over Navy this weekend. That would push Houston to 11-1 & potentially a 12-1 season if they win the AAC which would put them in a Big 6 Bowl. The same holds true for Navy. A win here puts them at 10-1 & likely 11-1 with a win over Army. They’d have to win the AAC title game but a 12-1 Navy squad is playing on New Year’s. I’m pulling hard for the Middies to win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope When was the last time Florida St. & Florida met when their combined record was at least 19-3? It’s not as far back as you think. Both squads were 10-1 in 2012 which resulted in a 37-26 win for the Gators. I’m not sure that will happen this year with as bad as Florida has been playing of late. How amazing is it that Florida St. could be 10-2 with a win here & 11-2 with a bowl yet most people view them as an afterthought? I think FSU gets the win & 10 wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Wolfpack have actually won 6 of the last 8 meetings between the two. NC State is the perfect example of manipulating an easy schedule to get bowl eligible. UNC has sort of done the same thing but Carolina is the superior team & I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tar Heels blow the barn doors off this on in Raleigh. I hope UNC doesn’t let up because a 12-0 Clemson taking on an 11-1 North Carolina squad could be interesting in the ACC title game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope UConn played spoiler last week to Houston and could do the same thing this week to Temple if they were to manage a victory over the Owls. At 6-1 in the AAC, a Temple win ensures the Owls the AAC-East division which will put them in the title game against the Houston/Navy winner. A loss here combined with USF beating UCF puts South Florida in the title game. I’m pulling for Temple & Navy as I think those are the best teams in the AAC. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I don’t often discuss CUSA, but Marshall & WKU play each other to decide the CUSA-East division. This one should be fun as it’ll be contrasting styles. WKU’s offense is dominant & they want to get out & move the ball quick with QB Brandon Doughty who is having an INCREDIBLE year. Marshall on the other hand wants to play hard nosed defense with their top-10 ranked unit & manipulate time of possession. Both teams are 9-2 so a win equals 10! Computer Hope
Computer Hope While Marshall & WKU determine the CUSA East, Southern Miss & Louisiana Tech will determine the CUSA West! It’s a big weekend for Conference USA! Both teams are going to try to beat you with offense & when you look at them in a vacuum you wonder why either team didn’t garner more attention, but when each squad played big time teams they lost. The QB matchup between Jeff Driskel & Nick Mullens should be fun as they light up the scoreboard. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s amazing to this game is virtually meaningless, but right now these might be the two worst teams in the SEC West which seems ridiculous. The game is significant however because it could be Les Miles’ last game as LSU head coach. How amazing is it that this offseason we are going to have both the LSU job and the USC job open for hire!? Miami-FL, Virginia Tech & South Carolina are also looking for a head coach. Those are big time programs! Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game would be a lot more interesting if we knew if Wazzou QB Luke Falk was playing. Falk’s status right now is up in the air but I hope he plays & is effective because Washington’s defense is the best in the Pac 12 & it would be a great matchup between Falk & HC Mike Leach going up against the UW defense. The Huskies have a lot of incentive to play. They need a win to get to 6-6 & bowl eligibility. I like UW but it’s impossible to root against the Pirate! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The battle for the Oaken Bucket! Kevin Wilson & Tom Crean pretty much run the same team strategy of big time offense combined with little to no defense. To be honest, IU should destroy Purdue. They are better & the Hoosiers’ “best case” record is 9-2. On the other hand, you can never know what to expect from Indiana & a loss here could mean Kevin Wilson loses his job. Either Indiana earns a bowl berth here or they need to make a change. Incredible. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Frank Beamer’s final home game in Blacksburg didn’t go as well as he would have liked as the Hokies missed an opportunity to finish Beamer’s career with a home victory that would have also provided bowl eligibility, but Virginia Tech gets a 2nd chance at the elusive bowl with the season finale in Charlottesville against in-state rival Virginia. I almost feel like it would be fitting for Beamer to lose because it would allow his final game to be in Virginia. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A cool rivalry game Kentucky needs to win to get bowl eligible. I think both of these teams feel like they’ve had disappointing seasons. Both teams took on quite a few close losses which would have completely changed their seasons if they had been just a little luckier. What’s great is that these two teams are led by excellent football coaches and the teams are relatively youthful. This game should keep getting bigger & bigger with the stakes getting higher. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Gary Andersen’s first year in Corvallis hasn’t went well & it’s not going to get any better playing the Ducks in Eugene for the 119th edition of the Civil War! The teams couldn’t be coming into this one on more opposites sides of the spectrum. In their last 5, the Beavers are o-5 & have been outscored 38-11 on average. The Ducks are 5-0 in their last 5 & have outscored their opponents 43-33. I love the Civil War but this one is going to be very lopsided for Oregon. Computer Hope
Computer Hope How can you not love a rivalry game that is called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate!? It’s the best rivalry nickname in college sports! I’m interested in the fallout of this game if Tech loses. They’ll finish the year 3-9 & if you remember, the seat was getting pretty hot with Paul Johnson before GT’s run last year to the ACC title game. That heat could come back which would be interesting if Georgia Tech was another program looking for a head coach for 2016. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The only MAC game that is intriguing, there is a lot going on here for Toledo. The Rockets had a perfect season until Northern Illinois upset the apple cart with a 5-point win over the Rockets. It was a tough loss because despite NIU’s 3 losses, none of them were in MAC play & this effectively knocked Toledo from the MAC West. If Ohio beats NIU this week Toledo could win the West with a win here. A win in the MAC title game puts them at 12-1. Enough for New Year’s? Computer Hope

November 26, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Connecticut, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Marshall, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., Must See Games, Navy, NC State, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Oregon St., Penn St., Purdue, Southern Miss, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Texas AM, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Week 13, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 2 BIG GAMES

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

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

2015 PAC 12 PREVIEWS and PREDICTIONS

RANK PAC 12 NORTH COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: The offense had a down year last season averaging 27.2PPG, the fewest the Cardinal has scored since 2008, but Stanford returns 9 starters on offense including QB Kevin Hogan along with a couple of sophomore skill players who could be very exciting. RB Christian McCaffrey didn’t get a ton of run time as a true frosh but averaged 7.1ypc! TE Austin Hooper made & immediate impact as a true frosh as a 2nd team All-Pac 12 selection. WRs Devon Cajuste & Michael Rector are big targets with some electric play making ability. The O-Line returns 4 starters with LG Josh Garnett being a potential All-American & C Graham Shuler & LT Kyle Murphy being potential 1st Team All-Pac 12. Hogan is elite at 6’4/230lbs & the O-Line is going to give him & McCaffrey plenty of room to operate. I don’t know if Stanford goes back to the Andrew Luck days but they’ll be at 30+PPG. DEFENSE: LB Blake Martinez returns & he led the team in tackles in ’14, but the losses here are severe as Stanford returns just 4 starters & loses 7 of their top-10 tacklers. Martinez has enormous upside & LB Kevin Anderson returns but the entire D-Line is gone & 5 of the front-7 is missing. DE Henry Anderson, NT David Parry & DE Blake Lueders will be extremely hard to replace. LB AJ Tarpley is another tough loss as is CB Alex Carter & S Jordan Richards & S Kyle Olugbode. Four of last year’s starters were NFL Draft picks! There is a lot of talent here but I’d be very wary of the D-Line. Stanford plays a 3-4, but the team doesn’t really have a legit 3-4NT. Could hurt them this season. SCHEDULE: OOC against Notre Dame & Northwestern is nasty. Plays at USC but draws Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, Washington & Cal at home! Getting USC & UCLA out of the South is tough but avoid Arizona State. Very difficult schedule although it’s home turf heavy. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 5-7
#2 OFFENSE: It’s difficult to think the Ducks offense won’t be down a bit losing a Heisman Trophy winner & 1st Team All-American at QB, but it seems like Oregon just picks up the pieces wherever they fall and score 45PPG! This year Oregon brings back their top-5 receivers and RB Royce Freeman who rushed for 1365yds/18TD! The receivers are the best in the nation! Byron Marshall at over 1000yds last year. Dwayne Stanford is a huge target at 6’5. Darren Carrington averaged 19.0ypc last year as a frosh & keep an eye on true frosh Alex Ofodile who is 6’3. The O-Line returns 4 starters & LT Tyler Johnstone is a potential All-American! The big question is the QB who should be Vernon Adams. All Adams did the last 2 seasons is pass for over 8,000yds & throw 90TD at E.Washington! Given the scheme & personnel, it seems ridiculous to think Oregon won’t put up 40PPG again. DEFENSE: Oregon’s front-7 is going to be fine. DE DeForest Buckner can be an All-American & LBs Rodney Hardrick & Joe Walker are special players. Newcomer DE canton Kaumatule is also going to be really exciting. The problem for the Ducks is their secondary where the losses were MASSIVE! Gone are CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (1st Team All-American), CB Troy Hill (2nd Team Pac 12) & S Erick Dargan (2nd Team Pac 12)! Oregon’s secondary was extremely difficult to pass against so this unit definitely looks to be problematic. Another thing to consider is that LB Tony Washington was Oregon’s most effective pass rusher & he doesn’t return either putting more pressure on the secondary. SCHEDULE: OOC at Michigan St. is tough & they do play on the road against Stanford, but USC, Cal, Utah & Washington St. come to Eugene. The Ducks do avoid UCLA & Arizona out of the South. As always, Oregon is going to be a fantastic team. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 7-5
#3 OFFENSE: The improvements HC Sonny Dykes made on offense in his 2nd season were incredible. California increased their PPG from 23 to 38.3! They went from 1-11 to 5-7 and this year they return 8 starters including QB Jared Goff who completed 62% of his passes last year with 35TD to 7INT! RB Daniel Lasco also returns after running for 1115yds/12TD last season while WRs Kenny Lawler & Stephen Anderson are a couple of 6’3 targets that are extremely difficult matchups! The O-Line returns 3 starters and all are upperclassmen with talent. Goff, Lasco, Lawler, Anderson, WR Bryce Treggs & LG Chris Borrayo all could be 1st team All-Pac 12 making this one of the best offense in the nation! I’d expect Cal to average more than 40PPG & for Goff to get into the All-American conversation! This should be a bowl bound team with a great offense. DEFENSE: Cal’s defense is a huge weak spot. While Dykes did improve the unit in his 2nd year, the improvement wasn’t as dramatic & the Bears went from 46PPG allowed to 40! This year Cal brings back 9 starters on defense & 12 of their top-13 tacklers. The only loss is S Mike Lowe. There is actually quite a bit of talent on the defensive side of the football. LB Michael Barton should be an all-conference player as should CB Darius White & S Stevan McClure. Every projected starter is an upperclassman including 6 seniors. Keep an eye on the D-line. JUCO DeVante Wilson should be effective off the edge while DT Mustafa Jalil & DE Todd Barr have the talent to be really good, but need to live up to their athleticism. SCHEDULE: Dykes improved by 4 wins last year. Repeating that trend would put Cal at 9-3! That probably won’t happen as the schedule is MURDER. Road games against Texas, Utah, UCLA, Oregon & Stanford! They also draw USC & Arizona State! Good grief! BEST CASE: 8-4; WORST CASE: 3-9
#4 OFFENSE: QB Luke Falk was the backup QB last year as a freshman but still passed for alost 2000yds with 13TD! You would think there might be some let down from QB Connor Halliday, but this is Mike Leach’s Air Raid scheme so expect there to be plenty of fireworks offensively! Also gone are WRs Vince Mayle & Isiah Myers who combined for 184rec/2455yds/21TD. That would seem like a ton but River Cracraft & Dom Williams also return & they combined for 109rec/1427yds/17TD! RB Jamal Morrow returns as well. Wazzou isn’t going to run a ton but Morrow did average 4.0ypc & make 60 catches! What is most interesting for me is that the entire O-Line returns & it’ll be the best O-Line since Leach came to Pullman. If Falk improves his decision making & the O-line plays to their ability then Washington St. is going to have a tremendous offense. What else would you expect!? DEFENSE: While not exactly a priority on Leach coached teams, Wazzou has interesting pieces returning in DE Kache Palacio, DE Ivan McLennan & LB Jeremiah Allison. Those guys can pressure the QB. The secondary is also interesting with CBs Treshon Broughton coming in from the juco ranks joining CB Charleston White & S Taylor Taliulu. The one areas where Washington St. could hurt is the interior D-Line. They lost Xavier Cooper who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Browns and their 2 projected starting DTs average 6’2/270lbs! The Cougars also want to go to more 3-4 looks but they simply don’t have the size to pull that off. There is some potential in the back-8 of the 3-4 look. We’ll see. SCHEDULE: Wazzou is all about bowl eligiblity & that is a possibility. The OOC games are easy with the hardest being at Rutgers. They also get Colorado & Oregon St. at home. They need to get another win for 6 but Washington is down so maybe. BEST CASE: 6-6; WORST CASE: 2-10
#5 OFFENSE: This could be a rough season for 2nd year HC Chris Petersen who can’t be used to losing after having spent 8 seasons at Boise St.! The offense returns just 5 starters from a team that averaged 30.2PPG. They have massive uncertaintly at QB with the seeming starter being junior Jeff Lindquist, but that is sitll up in the air. The O-line had massive losses from a year ago & brings back just 1 starter. I also think the loss of WR/KR John Ross this spring will be a huge loss. The Huskies do have quite a bit returning at their skill positions though. WR Jaydon Mickens caught 60 balls last season & RB Dwayne Washington runa for 697yds/9TD. The good news is that Petersen is recruiting well & the talent level is increasing for the Huskies. They might not be great in 2015, but this is definitely a season that will be a building block. DEFENSE: HUGE LOSSES! NT Danny Shelton & DE Hau’oli Kikaha were 1st Team All-Americans! DT Evan Hudson & DE Andrew Hudson are both gone too leaving UW with on returning D-Line! OLB Shaq Thompson is also gone which was UW’s 3rd 1st Team All-American! LB John Timu was 3rd Team All-Pac 12! He’s gone too! Washington returns just 4 starters, 3 of which are in the secondary! Luckily for the defense, UW does have a stud safety in Budda Baker who could potentially be an All-American despite just being a true sophomore. Ezekiel Turner is a juco transfer joining him at safety. CBs Kevin King & Sidney Jones are 6’3 & 6’0 respectively so UW has great size in the secondary. The losses are so huge it’s hard not think there will be some growing pains: SCHEDULE: Nasty. Road dates agaisnt Boise St., USC, Stanford, and Arizona St.! They also pick up Utah & Arizona fromt he South but avoid UCLA. They get Oregon/Cal at home & also Washington St. for the Apple Cup! BEST CASE: 6-6; WORST CASE: 1-11!
#6 OFFENSE: Despite losing HC Mike Reilly & QB Sean Mannion, I think Oregon St.’s offense will actually improve under new HC Gary Andersen. Andersen is an OUTSTANDING HC and the Beavers return 8 starters on offense including 4 of 5 O-Linemen, their leading rusher & their top-2 leading receivers. TE Caleb Smith also returns. The one question is at QB where it looks to be a battle between true frosh Seth Collins and rFR Marcus McMaryion. I think Oregon St. wins either way as the eventual starting QB will have plenty of weapons to lean on. RB Storm Woods & WR Victor Bolden could be all-Pac 12 along with 3 of the O-Linemen. Andersen is going to recruit well & if the QB situation works out, the Beavers offense should be fine. DEFENSE: This is where things get crazy with Oregon State. The Beavers return just 2 starters & lose their top-6 tacklers and 9 of their top-11! CB Larry Scott & DE Jaswha James are the only returners. The D-Line will get some help from a healthy Jalen Grimble at DT & incoming frosh Elu Aydon is 6’3/335lbs! DT Lavanote Barnett led the team in sacks a year ago & he’s back. The LB corps is a mess with no returning starters & not much talent. True frosh Christian Folau is 6’1/240lbs and is worth keeping an eye on. Scott & Barnett are solid players but the defense needs to get a massive upgrade in talent across the board. SCHEDULE: OOC includes road game against Michigan! OSU avoids Arizona St. & USC from the South which is a huge break but get home games against UCLA & Stanford which are practically unwinnable. It’s amazing that Gary Andersen would leave Wisconsin for Oregon St., but I’ve always believed that college football is a lot better when Oregon St. is good. Andersen is going to do better than just good. This season could be bumpy but Oregon St. is on the rise. BEST CASE: 4-8; WORST CASE: 1-11

 

PAC 12 NORTH OVERALL OUTLOOK: All of a sudden the Pac 12 North looks like a monster division. The coaching changes have been tremendous as Washington was somehow able to lure Chris Petersen away from Boise State. Oregon State hit the lottery when Gary Andersen decided to leave Wisconsin for the Beavers. Sonny Dykes is doing an amazing job rebuilding the Cal program & Mike Leach is doing the same with Washington State. All the while Stanford & Oregon keep plugging away as Top-10 programs! What’s interesting here to me is that the division is still Oregon’s & Stanford’s, but the shift in power will start to happen this season. It will probably be subtle, but it will be there nonetheless with potentially 5 of the 6 teams getting bowl eligible. While not quite the SEC West in stature, the Pac 12 North is ascending to that level. The coaching is simply too good & the stars have aligned to make this the 2nd best division in college football. It’s comparative to the Big 10 East with guys like James Franklin, Randy Edsall, Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh joining Mark Dantonio. The difference is that the Big 10 East is going to be dragged down by Indiana & Rutgers although even those programs have seen flashes under Kevin Wilson & Kyle Flood. I don’t expect Cal, Wazzou, Washington or Oregon St. to win a division title, but I think there won’t be any easy games on the schedule. Even though Washington & Oregon St. seem to be a rebuild, I don’t think they’ll be rolled over by anyone. This division is fantastic.

 

RANK PAC 12 SOUTH COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: USC just might be back to being the USC of the Pete Carroll years. Offensively the Trojans averaged 36PPG under HC Steve Sarkisian in his 1st season & that number is likely to go up this season. QB Cody Kessler returns after a season in which he completed 70% of his passes for 3826yds/39TD to 5INT! He’s arguably the best QB in the nation & if USC is 12-0 at season’s end, he’ll take home a Heisman. The entire O-Line returns. C Max Turek is an All-American & 4 of the 5 guys are potential 1st team All-Pac 12 players! The big losses are WR Nelson Agholor & RB Buck Allen, but the Trojans have IMMENSE talent so those losses might not be huge. WR JuJu Smith is outstanding while RB Justin Davis will be 2 years removed from an Achilles issue he had in 2013. Also keep an eye on WR De’Quan Hampton, a 6’4/220lbs juco transfer. USC can argue for having the best QB & the best O-Line. That’s a dangerous combination. DEFENSE: The big loss is DT Leonard Williams and DE JR Tavai is a loss too but USC has 2 all-american candidates in LB Su’a Cravens & CB Adoree Jackson! Five other players could be All-Conference so 7/11 starters are great here. I’m excited to see DE Claude Pelon who is unusual at 6’4/300lbs playing a 4-3DE spot. USC also gets quite a bit of reinforcements on the line with DE Greg Townsend, DT Kenny Bigelow & DE Jabari Ruffin coming off of injury. With Cravens moving to LB to join Anthony Sarao & Lamar Dawson, this is a tremendous LB unit that could be the best in the nation. The defense should be nasty! SCHEDULE: OOC at Notre Dame is tough. USC also has road games against Arizona St., Cal & Oregon. USC also draws Stanford out of the North and they still have to play Arizona, UCLA & Utah! It’s a tough schedule to be sure, but USC is arguably the best team in the nation. BEST CASE 12-0. WORST CASE 6-6
#2 OFFENSE: UCLA returns 10 starters on offense which is insane, but the one loss is 3-year starting QB Brett Hundley who leaves UCLA as the Bruins #2 all time passer. In his 3 years as starter, UCLA went 29-11 including 2 bowl wins & a Pac 12 South division title. Losing that type of production is almost impossible to replace, but HC Jim Mora has made UCLA a destination place so the talent is in abundance. RB Paul Perkins is a potential All-American as is WR Jordan Payton. Perkins ran for almost 1600yds last year while Payton had 7TD & almost 1000yds! WRs Devin Fuller, Eldridge Massington & Kenneth Walker return along with TE Thomas Duarte who had 19.3ypc last season! The QB comes down to all-world recruit Josh Rosen or junior Jerry Neuheisel. This is the one determining factor of why I picked USC ahead of UCLA. Regardless, the QB has a plethora of weapons & the entire O-Line returning! They’ll score. DEFENSE: The Bruins return 8 starters but lose a couple of big time players in LB Eric Kendricks & DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, but otherwise the Bruins are stacked! The D-Line returns NT Kenny Clark & DE Eddie Vanderdoes & both potential All-Americans.  Deon Hollins led the team in sacks last year & he returns. LB Myles Jack could find himself in All-American contention. The entire secondary returns as well! CBs Fabian Moreau & Priest Willis have great size. S Randall Goforth is healthy & S Jaleel Wadood has a year of experience. This is the best defense of the Jim Mora era with ELITE playmakers at all 3 levels. Keep an eye on Vanderdoes. He’s special. SCHEDULE: OOC not bad. Toughest road games are against Stanford, Arizona & Utah. The Bruins manage to avoid Oregon and get Cal, Arizona St. & BYU at home. It’s not the easiest schedule to navigate & the road slate is heavy, but this is also a talented squad. BEST CASE 12-0; WORST CASE: 6-6
#3 OFFENSE: Since taking over in Tempe, HC Todd Graham has had ASU averaging about 38PPG which is fantastic. This year the Sun Devils return 7 starters on offense but will have to deal with the loss of QB Taylor Kelly. The one good thing about this is that Kelly did struggle a bit with injury last year which gave returning QB Mike Bercovici some playing time & he acquitted himself well, completing 62% of his passes with a 12:4 TD to INT ratio. ASU is also doing some interesting things offensively. RB DJ Foster is moving to WR full time & RB Demario Richard is going to be the starter. Richard averaged 5.7ypc last year so he’s solid & Foster caught 62 passes! The other big loss is WR Jalen Strong. Foster will try to mitigate that loss along with WR Cameron Smith & WR Gary Chambers but it’s a tough loss to deal with. The O-Line returns 3 starters but 4 seniors are projected to start. 3 of them have All Pac 12 potential. DEFENSE: ASU returns 9 starters & 14 of their top-16 tacklers! This is the best defense of the Todd Graham era so expect ASU to give up around 20PPG instead of around 27! Seven of the projected starters will get all conference consideration. S Damarious Randall & DE Marcus Hardison are pretty big losses & both were NFL Draft picks, but ASU has talented players everywhere. NT Mo Latu is 6’2/397lbs while DE Edmond Boateng is 6’3/260lbs! S Jordan Simone picked up 100 tackles last year while LB Antonio Longino had 94 himself. DT Deonte Reynolds logs in at 325lbs giving ASU some incredible size in their interior defensive line. I can’t wait to see it. SCHEDULE: OOC against Texas A&M, but the Sun Devils only have 4 true road games in conference! They also avoid Stanford from the North & get USC, Oregon & Arizona at home! UCLA & Cal on the road won’t be easy but this schedule is very manageable. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 4-8
#4 OFFENSE: It’s almost criminal to put Arizona here given how good HC Rich Rodriguez is. Arizona returns a truckload offensively from a unit that averaged 35PPG! QB Anu Solomon threw for 3800yds/28TD as a freshman last season! He completed just 58% of his passes, but threw just 9 picks. He’ll get better which is a scary thought in RichRod’s offense. RB Nick Wilson ran for 1375yds/16TD as a freshman! If Solomon & Wilson keep these paces they’ll leave Arizona as the school’s all time leaders in passing & rushing! WRs Cayleb Jones & Samajie Grant combined for 118rec/1737yds/15TD! They both return. The UA O-Line returns 2 starters but 4 upperclassmen & LT Freddie Tagaloa was a starter for Cal before he transferred. There is an awful lot to like about this offense. I’d keep a special eye on Jones. He’s got a chance to be really special & should approach All-American status. DEFENSE: It would look like the Wildcats took a step back defensively, but if you compare it to RichRod’s 1st season, UA is still improving defensively. LB Scooby Wright was a 1st team All-American last year racking up 163 tackles & 14 sacks! Rodriguez sort of plays a 3-3-5 defense & 4 of his front-6 return. DB Will Parks & LB Cody Ippolito did a decent job of getting pressure on opposing QBs & they both return. DE Reggie Gilbert should have a big year. You need to be big up front to run this sort of defense as it mimics a 3-4 front to a certain degree. Rodriguez obviously knows this so it’ll be interesting to see how it works. It could be Rodriguez’s best defense yet at Arizona. SCHEDULE: Odddly enough Arizona doesn’t have a bye week & play 12 straight. OOC isn’t bad, but do have 5 road games against Stanford, Colorado. Washington, USC & Arizona St.! That’s tough considering they get Oregon St. & Utah at home. Games they could have won on the road. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 3-9
#5 OFFENSE: Utah will have one of the more interesting offenses in the Pac 12 for what they’ll try to do. RB Devontae Booker is a fireplug at 5’11/215lbs. He’s a potential All-American candidate who rushed for 1512yds/10TD last year with a 5.2ypc. That’s not superstar status but it’ll grind football games down to a halt & put Utah in position to dominate time of possession. The rest of the Pac 12 is more high-flying. They want to have fast possessions but Utah doesn’t work that way. They want to run the ball 40-50x per game & see what happens. It’s not surprise that a lot of their wins last year were relatively low scoring affairs. Utah returns 4 starters to the O-Line which is a big help, but they also return WR Kenneth Scott who could take some pressure off the run game. There is somewhat of a QB debate between Travis Wilson & Kendal Thompson, but Utah is going to run & they can win this way. DEFENSE: DE Nate Orchard is a huge loss as he led the team with 18.5 sacks & was a 2nd round draft pick but the Utes return 7 starters on the defense & look strong. DE Hunter Dimick is a beast & new DE Kylie Fitts is 6’4/270lbs & a transfer from UCLA! The DTs are big up front. LB Jared Norris racked up 116 tackles last season & should be an all-conference player this season. LB Jason Whittingham returns from injury to strengthen a good LB corps. The secondary took a big hit losing CB Eric Rowe who is playing for the Eagles now, but there is some talent still there with ability. Keep an eye on DT Lowell Lotulelei. The big man could have a big year. SCHEDULE: It won’t be easy. OOC against Michigan, Utah St. & Fresno St. is very difficult. They also get road games against Oregon, USC & Arizona! They also draw California out of the North. The 9-4 record last year was a breakthrough last year & the Utes are looking to take another step. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 3-9
#6 Colorado is the one team from the Pac 12 that I wanted to forget about breaking down and talk in a more macro way of viewing the program. It’s very odd to think of this team as a national champion but this is precisely what the Buffaloes were in 1990 when Bill McCartney led Colorado to a 10-9 win over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.  I’ve mentioned this before, but Colorado had somewhat of a golden era between 1989-1996 and some think this is because Colorado was a de facto school of choice for recruits during a period where Texas & USC weren’t that great. It’s not a bad thought. During this 8-year period, Colorado was 78-15-4 with 5 Top-10 finishes & a Top-20 finish in all 8 seasons. Texas was 57-35-3 with 2 Top-20 finishes. USC was 57-35-5 with 4 Top-20 finishes & 1 Top-10 finish. Clearly Colorado was a superior program at the time. Soon after this period, Pete Carroll would arrive in USC & Mack Brown would come to Texas. You probably know the end result. There is some validity to this line of thinking, but it must also be mentioned that Bill McCartney left the UC program after the 1994 season. It took McCartney 6 seasons to build Colorado into a power. Could he have sustained it despite Carroll & Brown becoming factors? What it does show to a degree is that Colorado can be a power with the right coach/salesman at the helm. Gary Barnett, Dan Hawkins & Jon Embree tried & failed. Mike MacIntyre is trying, he’s going to have to figure out a way to attract more talent to Boulder. A defensive coach. He had to get better in year #3. BEST CASE: 6-7; WORST CASE: 2-11

 

PAC 12 SOUTH OVERALL OUTLOOK: This division really looks like it will come down to a November 28th meeting between USC & UCLA! The two LA based schools look poised to make legitimate runs to the playoffs & if UCLA can get good QB play from their potential starters then the rest of the division should be looking up at both squads. That isn’t to say there won’t be some difficulty. Arizona St. is going to be A LOT better than people think with QB Mike Bercovici and you simply cannot count Arizona out with Rich Rodriguez at the helm with that program running on all cylinders. As much as I love the Pac 12 North, you can easily make an argument that the South is even better. The first 5 teams are legitimate double digit win squads who should all be bowl eligible. Colorado has a better team than you think coming back & I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pull off 5-7 wins despite playing a brutal schedule with zero byes in 13 consecutive weeks! I think at this point you can point to the Pac 12 and put it on par with the SEC. You simply can’t go wrong with any SEC West game you tune into this upcoming season, but I think the same can be said of the Pac 12 South. There is simply too much talent & too much parity to take a week off. A fantastic division that I believe USC manages to take down.

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Predictions, Previews, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St. | Leave a comment

2014 NCAA WEEK 14 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
Iron Bowl. We all know the story last season. A short FG led to a 100-yard return by the Tigers which propelled Auburn into the SEC Championship which turned into a national championship that Auburn came THIS CLOSE to winning! The stakes are a little different this year. You know Nick Saban is preparing for a little revenge & Auburn is somewhat limping into the season finale with not much on the line via championships. Alabama is playing like the #1 team in the nation at this point & I’d be shocked if they failed to get a win at home. With that said, it’s not like Auburn isn’t a solid team. They are 8-3 & their 3 losses are legitimate. This is the best rivalry in college football right now.
Egg Bowl. This game was a lot more interesting before Ole Miss was hammered 30-0 in Fayetteville last week at the hands of Arkansas. If Ole Miss had won that game then a win here combined with an Alabama loss would have given Ole Miss the SEC West title! Now Mississippi St. has everything to lose & Ole Miss has nothing to gain. Ole Miss is limping in worse than Auburn. They’ve lost their last 3 game to FBS opponents & the defense has allowed 75pts in those 3 games! Even with their recent struggles, Ole Miss still boasts the #1 scoring defense in the country & if Bo Wallace has a great game, the Rebels could ruin MSU’s dream season. For the Bulldogs, a win here practically guarantees the playoffs.
Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Absolutely love that the B1G West is coming down to these two teams. You won’t find better coaches than Minnesota’s Jerry Kill & Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen! How amazing of a job as Kill done during his time in Minneapolis. The Gophers were 3-9 in his first season. Now in his 4th, they are 8-3 with a chance to get to the B1G Championship! Andersen took over a Wisconsin team that had been to 3 straight Rose Bowls. He didn’t miss a beat going 9-4 last season & getting the Badgers to 9-2 this year with a chance to get back to the B1G Championship! Both teams are incredibly run heavy & since Wisconsin has Melvin Gordon you’d have to think the Badgers hold the advantage.
This obviously isn’t a rivalry game, but I think you can make an argument that this could be the most intriguing game of the weekend. Missouri was left for dead after starting the season 4-2 with a home loss to Indiana & a 34-0 spanking at the hands of Georgia. Since then they’ve won 5 straight to get to 9-2 needing a win here to win the SEC East in back-to-back seasons. Arkansas comes in at 6-5 after having destroyed both LSU & Ole Miss by the combined score of 47-0! Arkansas spoiled Ole Miss’ chances at an SEC West title last week & now they have an opportunity to spoil Missouri’s chances to win the SEC East! Arkansas is an outstanding story. They might win out & get to 8-5. How high are they ranked to begin 2015?
Tough game for Stanford as they seem to be facing UCLA at exactly the wrong time as the Bruins are hitting their stride & destroying teams. Lots on the line here for the Bruins as a win ensures they win the Pac 12 South & finish the year 10-2. They’ll face Oregon where they will be looking for revenge from an earlier loss to the Ducks. UCLA has had an interesting season. They struggled early but still won. They then dropped a couple of games to Utah & Oregon. Now they’ve won 5 straight & are definitely in the playoff mix should they beat Stanford & then Oregon. The Bruins still have a chance to make good on a lot of people predicting they’d be in the playoffs at the beginning of the season.
Duel In The Desert. This game is a lot like Wisconsin/Minnesota in that both teams have A LOT on the line that they are playing for. Each team enters the game 9-2 & the winner still has a chance to win the Pac 12 South assuming UCLA drops their game to Stanford. The winner also gets to 10 wins which would be a first in the Rich Rodriguez era in Tucson. These teams are very similar. Arizona averages 36PPG & gives up 25PPG. The Sun Devils average 37PPG & give up 26PPG. Even the offenses are fairly close. The Rich Rodriguez/Todd Graham dynamic is one of the most interesting ones playing out. Great coaches in the same state. If they both stick around this is a HUGE budding rivalry.
Civil War. These two teams could not be going in more opposite directions. Oregon has won 6 straight games & at 10-1 is in prime position to grab one of the 4 coveted playoff spots. Oregon St. on the other hand has lost 5 of their last 6 and 6 of their last 8. At 5-6, the Beavers need this win just to get bowl eligible which is a tall order considering the roll that Oregon has been on of late. Last year Oregon St. went into Eugene & almost pulled off a stunner ultimately losing to Oregon 35-34. With this game in Corvallis, it’s possible the Beavers could get lucky but I wouldn’t count on it. Oregon controls its own destiny & I’d be surprised if they let this one slip through their fingers to a 5-6 team.
The Game. A whole lot of things are going against Michigan in this one. Like Oregon St., Michigan needs a win in the season finale to attain bowl eligibility. Also like Oregon St., they have almost zero chance at beating a team playing for a potential playoff bid. At least Oregon St. is at home. Michigan has no such luck. A couple of other things stand out as well. Ohio St. needs style points being behind Mississippi St. & TCU in the current playoff poll. Urban Meyer knows this & if the Buckeyes can capitalize on this they will. The other problem for Michigan is that this is likely Brady Hoke’s last game as HC. I’m sure the players & staff might simply be tired & all too willing to get the season finished. Tough way to go out.
Shillelagh Trophy. Amazingly enough, both teams are coming off humiliating losses. For the Irish it was a home loss to Louisville. For USC it was an 18-point beating from rival UCLA that eliminated the Trojans from Pac 12 South contention. ND needs the win to get to 8-4 with a shot to at least match last year’s 9-win season. I’m not sure it is quite as important to USC other than the Trojans would love to win this heated rivalry. I don’t think it’s a huge deal USC finishes 7-5 in Sarkisian’s first year at the helm. One thing is for sure, if ND loses, there will be some heat on Brian Kelly. After starting 6-0, the Irish have lost 3 straight & 4 of their last 5 coming into this game. Finishing the year 1-5 is a disaster.
Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Is that not the best slogan for a rivalry game ever!? This is one of the biggest games I’m looking forward to. Both teams enter the game at 9-2 & there is actually quite a bit on the line. For Georgia they can still get into the playoffs. If they win here, Missouri loses, & win the SEC Championship, I think an 11-2 Georgia team lands a spot in the playoffs. For Georgia Tech it’s a bit harder. They’ve already won the ACC Coastal, but a win here puts them at 10-2. A win over Florida St. puts them at 11-2 & ACC Champs. A 2-loss ACC Champ doesn’t have as much swag as a 2-loss SEC team, but it’s something. UGA has dominated this series winning 19 of the last 23 meetings! Good grief!
A pretty cool game out of the Mountain West. Utah St. comes into the game 9-3 (6-1) while Boise St. is 9-2 (6-1). The winner obviously gets to 10 wins which is a big deal, but more importantly these two teams are tied with Colorado St. for 1st place Mountain West Mountain division. The loser here is obviously out but the 3rd team is Colorado St. who plays at Air Force. I love tiebreakers so if Colorado St. loses then the winner of this game wins the Mountain division. If CSU wins then it’s a different story. If CSU wins & Boise wins then Boise wins the division. If CSU wins & Utah St. wins then CSU wins the Mountain. The only way for Utah St. to win the division is for them to win & Colorado St. to lose. So a lot is in play here.
It’s wild that this rivalry doesn’t have a name attached to it! I couldn’t find one at all which was surprising. This could be one of the most captivating games this weekend although it could also turn into a snooze fest depending on which Florida team shows up. Florida does have the ability to turn it on. They did beat Georgia & probably should have beaten LSU. If the ACC is that much weaker than the SEC then this could be a game especially if the Gators want to fight for HC Will Muschamp in his last game at Florida. If that happens then FSU could easily fall as the Seminoles have been flirting with disaster all season long. At some point you feel like it’s going to catch up with them. I don’t see it happening here but it could.
Battle Of The Palmetto State. Come on SC/Clemson! I expected better than this slogan for a rivalry that has been extremely intense since the 1880s! Neither team is in any sort of contention for a big bowl game. The Gamecocks got bowl eligible last week with a 37-12 win over South Alabama. Clemson is 8-3 but not a factor in the ACC Atlantic & likely won’t be able to get a New Year’s Bowl game with the 3 losses. They definitely won’t get one if they lose to SC. I think any type of game where Steve Spurrier can rub salt into the wounds of another program is gold! South Carolina has won the last 5 games & they haven’t even been that close. I’d watch out for SC. Sure they are 6-5, but they can argue being 10-1 with so many close losses.

November 26, 2014 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona, Arizona St., Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Boise St., Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Missouri, Must See Games, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon, Oregon St., South Carolina, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah St., Week 14, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

PAC 12 OUTLOOK WITH 6 WEEKS LEFT

The Pac 12 has somewhat dropped out of the national conscious for a few reasons. The first is that Oregon & UCLA lost games. In UCLA’s case they’ve lost 2 and haven’t looked anything like the top-5 or top-10 team a lot of us thought they would be coming into the season. A second reason is that the conference is somewhat cannibalizing itself. Arizona beats Oregon who beats UCLA who beast Arizona State. Washington has lost a couple of games. Stanford has 3 losses at the moment. It’s pretty tough for the conference when Arizona & Utah are the most compelling stories to come out of the conference to date. Another reason is that USC hasn’t quite ascended back to their dominant perch although if things go their way they could easily wind up 11-2 and Pac 12 champions. I don’t think it would be enough for the Trojans to crash the playoff picture unless most of the Big 5 conference champions had a couple of losses, but it would put things back to a bit more normal in the Pac 12.

Even with all that said, I still believe this is the 2nd best conference in the nation behind the SEC. With so much that can still happen & with so many teams with viable chances at winning the conference, the Pac 12 is putting out must watch football for the rest of the 2014 season!

 

NORTH

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 Isn’t it unusual that Oregon always seems to have a boneheaded loss somewhere that somewhat ruins their national championship hopes? In 2011 it was a home loss to USC. In 2012 it was a home loss to Stanford. In 2013 it was a road loss to Stanford. This year it’s a home loss to Arizona. With Stanford really struggling, the North is Oregon’s for the taking & even with the Arizona loss, Oregon has already beaten UCLA & Washington & gets Stanford at home. There really is no reason for Oregon not to finish 11-1, but the real kicker here is that Arizona has to continue to play well. Arizona’s 2pt loss to USC isn’t horrible & if they can win out and face Oregon in a rematch in the Pac 12 title game, it could mean the winner goes to the playoffs. That really helps Oregon. With their O-Line getting healthy, all sights should be on 12-1 & Pac 12 champions.
4-3 Stanford isn’t completely out of it. The Cardinal have 3 losses but one of those loses came against Notre Dame so assuming Stanford wins out, they could finish 9-3 & win the Pac 12 North which of course gives them the opportunity to repeat as Pac 12 champions! Stanford simply cannot force their way into the playoff picture with 3 losses, but they could potentially ruin it for the Pac 12 conference assuming either Arizona or Oregon otherwise would finish the season at 12-1. This is going to sound really odd but Stanford should be a lot more concerned with becoming bowl eligible. They need 2 more wins & only get 2 more home games. They play Oregon & UCLA on the road. Assuming those are losses they need 2 out of 3 against: California (road; Cal isn’t horrible), Oregon St. (home), Utah (home; the Utes are surprisingly good!). Six wins is no guarantee.
4-3 Cal Nation has to be absolutely ECSTATIC about California’s performance thus far. Remember that this team was 1-11 last year, being outscored by 22.9PPG! That’s insane considering some of the history of the Cal Bears football program under former HC Jeff Tedford. The Bears are actually outscoring opponents by 3.2PPG which is a 26.1PPG difference in just one season! With 3 losses there is no way Cal either wins the Pac 12 or gets into the playoffs, but bowl eligibility is on the table at this point. In their final 5 games, Cal plays a difficult schedule. They get Stanford & BYU at home which might be their best bet. They are getting a hot Oregon team on a neutral site & have road games against USC & Oregon State. They can beat the Beavers & BYU. If Cal gets to 6-6 it would be a miraculous turnaround after an 1-11 disastrous 2013 campaign.
5-2 Washington’s Pac 12 title chances took a big dip last week when they were beaten 45-20 in Eugene. That gave the Huskies 2 conference losses to Stanford & Oregon. Stanford has 2 conference losses so all Washington needs is for the Cardinal to drop one more which would push Washington over them. The tougher battle is Oregon dropping a couple of conference games while Washington runs the table. A bigger question might be bowl eligiblity. Washington plays 13 games so they need to finish 6-7 to get bowl eligible. That means they can go 1-5 in their final 6, but Washington actually has a pretty decent schedule. Colorado & Washington St. are left as well as home games against Arizona St., UCLA & Oregon State. A road game at Arizona is probably their toughest test. Nine wins will give UW their first back-to-back seasons with at least 9 wins since 1991-1992!
4-2 Like Oregon, Oregon St. has conference losses from only teams in the Pac 12 South! If the Beavers were able to run the table, then they’d wind up Pac 12 North champions at 10-2. This is actually fun to think about because Oregon St. is one of the more underrated college programs & it’s one of those teams I think carries somewhat of a national interest. It would be next to impossible for them to run the table to 11-2 & still get into the playoffs unless Utah & USC ended up the season with 10-2 records, but if the other conferences collapse then maybe. If OSU hasn’t lost to any North teams then it’s a scary proposition to think the Beavers still have Oregon, Stanford, Washington & Arizona St. still left on the schedule. A better question might be concerning bowl eligibility. Home games against Washington St. & California are almost MUST WIN.
2-5 Mike Leach can’t be happy with Wazzu’s 2-5 record but there are some things that might be in his favor. The Cougars aren’t all that far away from being a 6-1 team. They lost to Oregon, Cal & Rutgers by a combined 11 points. Nevada shouldn’t have beaten them either. There is no way they can win the North or get to the playoffs, but can Washington St. go 4-1 in their last 5 games to get bowl eligible? It’s not necessarily impossible. Three of the games are home dates against Arizona, USC & Washington. If they can keep Oregon within 7pts at home they can beat those 3 squads. The two road games are against Oregon St. & Arizona State. Not completely easy games but not unattainable either. There simply isn’t any room for error. It would be cool though to have Washington St. welcoming in Washington needing a final win to get bowl eligible.

 

SOUTH

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
5-2 I think it would be impossible for USC to get to the playoffs even if they did win out, win the Pac 12 title game & finish the season at 11-2. The loss to Boston College is killer & unfortunately the loss to Arizona St. might hurt them if they keep winning because for them to win the Pac 12 South, the Sun Devils would have to start losing. With that said, USC could make an extremely good case to get to the playoffs should all Big 5 conference leaders start taking on a couple of losses. It doesn’t seem likely with Florida St., but if the SEC, Big XII & Big 10 have 2-loss champions & USC is sitting there at 11-2 with Cody Kessler getting Heisman hype, don’t they have to make the playoffs? USC’s schedule sets up really well. They get Utah, Washington St., UCLA & Cal as their remaining Pac 12 teams. If they can be consistent on the road & ASU loses, the Trojans would win the South!
5-1 There was talk last night during the Miami-FL/Virginia Tech game that Ohio St.’s loss to Virginia Tech is so detrimental because of how bad the Hokies are, that it could result in Ohio St. not making the playoffs even if they win out and finish the season as 12-1 Big 10 champions. It’s a good conversation & has meaning for Arizona State. If the Sun Devils run the table, would their 62-27 HUMILIATION at the hands of UCLA be enough to keep them out of the playoffs simply because the score differential is so high? I think it does, but Arizona St. can at least make things extremely interesting by winning out & getting to 11-1. The in over USC is really nice & like the Trojans, ASU doesn’t have Oregon down the stretch. They’ve already beaten Stanford so they are primed & ready to potentially win the South.
5-1 Very tough to go on the road to beat Oregon only to come back to your home stadium & lose to USC. The loss doesn’t necessarily hurt teh Wildcats and like Arizona St., Oregon & Utah, Arizona is still in position to run the table which would give them serious playoff consideration seeing that their only loss was to USC who very well could end up 10-2/9-3 which is great for Arizona. The schedule really does set up well for Arizona as well. They get home games against Washington & Arizona St., while road dates with UCLA & Utah look to be their most challenging victories left, but if Arizona can win in Eugene, they can certainly win those games. I think somewhat of a tricky trap game could be this week at Washington State. If Arizona can start the 2nd half of their season with a win, I think great things could happen.
5-1 Utah is the real surprise team in the Pac 12 sitting at 5-1 at the midway point. I want to take Utah for granted, but it’s difficult to do so. The win over Michigan looked like a harbinger of things to come but the Wolverines aren’t so good. What sticks out to me is Utah’s road wins over UCLA & Oregon State. They won those 2 games by a combined 8pts, but wins are wins. The next 5 weeks are B-R-U-T-A-L for the Utes. They play: USC, at Arizona St., Oregon, at Stanford, and Arizona. Remember that each one of those 5 teams have their eyes set on a Pac 12 championship if not the playoffs themselves so the Utes won’t face any teams mailing it in at the end of the season. Utah is interesting because if they win out & get to 12-1, the teams they’ve beaten are so impressive that it might not matter that they have a 1pt loss to Washington St., although the discussion will be valid.
5-2 UCLA could actually be one of the more interesting teams down the stretch. On talent alone they can hang with anyone in the nation so there isn’t a game on the schedule they can’t win. Their 2 losses have come against Oregon & Utah, but Oregon is in the North and I have a hard time believing Utah won’t lose 2-3 more games with their schedule. This means UCLA could actually still win the Pac 12 South & potentially the P12 title game! The only team that could be a thorn to them is Arizona St. who has one conference loss which was to UCLA so the Bruins only need ASU to lose another conference game. UCLA has to protect home field though. They have home games against Arizona, Stanford & USC remaining with road games against Washington & Colorado. It’s a schedule they can go 10-2 with, but they need to play to talent level. Should be VERY interesting if they keep winning.
2-5 I think Coach MacIntyre is the right man for the job but Colorado just hasn’t had much luck go their way this season. Losing to Colorado St. to open up the season was tough & the Buffs also have close losses to Oregon St. & California. If those 3 games are different then CU is 5-2 instead of 2-5 & we are talking about the potential for postseason play. At this point Colorado has to hope for another win or two because right now they certainly look like they are going to take their current 2-5 record & finish 2-10. The schedule is DAUNTING. Colorado is a young team. They could potentially have 9-10 starters back on offense & 13 of their top-16 tacklers back on defense. If you can’t watch wins then I think progression is something definitely to watch. QB Sefo Liufau is just a soph. and is having a terrific year despite the record.

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Playoffs, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St. | Leave a comment

2014 NCAA WEEK 5 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

A very interesting week on tap with the collegiate athletes. When I first went over the schedule, I had a hard time getting to 13 games that I thought mattered enough to write about, but the more I looked at the matchups & thought about what I wanted to see in each of them, the more I realized there were some very intriguing games on tap. Never a dull moment on any given Saturday.

 

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
The best game of the week hands down! If you are a fan of defense then this probably isn’t the game for you! Consider that A&M enters the game averaging 53PPG while Arkansas averages 49PPG! They rank 2nd & 3rd respectively in the nation! Arkansas ranks 8th in rush offense with 325yds/G! The Aggies rank 4th in passing offense with 405yds/G! After losing to Auburn to open up the season Arkansas has beaten their last 3 opponents by an average score of 58-16! It hasn’t come against great competition but Arkansas is showing quite a bit. We all know A&M & the Kenny Hill story. A neutral site game will be a real test and obviously it’ll be interesting to see if Arkansas’ offense can keep A&M’s offense off the field which will be key. This is a huge game for both teams in a rugged SEC West where every win counts as more than just one W or L.
This game would be a lot more exciting if Arizona St. standout QB Taylor Kelly were playing, but the Sun Devils have to play the hand they are dealt which means they are going to face a very strong UCLA team without a key player in a game that could very well determine the outcome of the Pac 12 South. With so much attrition from last year’s team, ASU has sort of played under the radar to this point starting out 3-0. They are coming off back-to-back road wins while UCLA’s struggles are well known. The Bruins have some solid wins on the resume with a road win over Virginia & a neutral site win over Texas, but UCLA hasn’t dominated like many (including me) thought they would. A win here would definitely put UCLA on the right track & give the Bruins 3 early wins against 3 decent teams. It’s ugly but you can’t ignore victories either.
I don’t think it was possible for the Vols to go into Norman and beat Oklahoma, but Tennessee has the kind of team that should be bowl eligible by year’s end with the capability of winning a game or two that they probably shouldn’t win. The defense is good enough to keep them in games if a superior team doesn’t come to play & I think the play of RBs Marlin Lane & Jalen Hurd is going to keep improving. Georgia is a huge test for Tennessee especially with the rushing attack. The talk is all about Todd Gurley but Sony Michel & Nick Chubb average 10ypc combined! QB Hutson Mason is playing extremely well as the senior is making the most of his only year as a starter. A lot has to go right for UT to win this game especially on the road, but as with Arkansas against A&M, the Vols have to find a way to keep UGA’s offense off the field.
Chris Petersen is doing one of the better jobs in college football without a lot of fanfare. It was interesting to see him finally leave Boise St. for Washington, but so far the Huskies are 4-0 & after a couple of rough first games, UW has settled in. I don’t think enough was made of the Huskies losing QB Keith Price & RB Bishop Sankey. Sankey is now a starting RB in the NFL but current QB Cyler Miles & RB Lavon Coleman are doing decent jobs as replacements. With Stanford we really don’t know what we have yet. The Cardinal was beaten at home by a USC team that subsequently lost to Boston College. Stanford’s only wins have come against UC-Davis & Army. This is their first true road game. If Washington wins they should be able to get 6-0 before traveling to Eugene on October 18th. Note that Oregon plays at UCLA the week prior!
I hate games like this because Oregon St. is one of my favorite teams in college football & I really like Mike Riley as a HC. The problem is that this sets up as a good game for Oregon State. USC probably isn’t that good yet under Sarkisian & the Beavers have a lot of returning starters including QB Sean Mannion. Oregon St. has started off 3-0 & if they were to win this game you can see a scenario in which OSU can get to 10-0/9-1 before their final 2 games at Washington & then at home against Oregon! But this is also the kind of game Oregon St. seems to lose which dashes their hopes pretty quick & they wind up 8-4. USC is sort of in the same boat. They’ve had a bye week to get over BC but a win over Oregon St. could set them up nice for a 10-2 season which would be remarkable in Sarkisian’s first year. A lot on the line in this one.
Missouri is coming off a brutal home loss to perennial Big 10 doormats Indiana by the score of 31-27. It’s a tough pill to swallow given how well the Tigers had played to that point so I think this game will be interesting to see how Gary Pinkel and the Tigers bounce back against a South Carolina team that is all of a sudden playing like South Carolina. Kenny Hill came into Columbia and lit the Gamecocks defense up in the season opener & SC hasn’t seen a QB like Hill until this weekend when Maty Mauk comes to town. Mauk already has 14TD passes so the Tigers offense can air it out. SC’s defense is giving up 36PPG so there will be opportunity to score. The game might come down to Mizzou’s defense & their ability to contain Dylan Thompson. A&M beat him up quite a bit so if Missouri can do the same, SC might lose their 2nd home game.
A friend asked me what I thought he should know about Syracuse & the first thing I told him was that they were a team I wouldn’t want the Irish to overlook. On one hand you have the fact that the Orange beat Villanova by 1 point & was beat up by Maryland. On the other you have a Syracuse squad who destroyed Central Michigan. A C.Michigan team that beat Purdue more easily than the Irish disposed of the Boilermakers. Syracuse is a power rushing team under HC Scott Shafer & they’ve run the ball well although against inferior opponents. ND will be a hard to team to run the ball against & if Maryland put up 34 on the Orange defense, then the Irish could potentially flirt with 40-50 points. It’s a game Notre Dame shouldn’t be concerned with, but those are the kinds of games of late that have come back to haunt Notre Dame.
After losing to Virginia Tech, Ohio st. came back the next week & destroyed Kent St. 66-0! Granted it was Kent St., but at least the Buckeyes got back on their horse. The Virginia Tech loss looks bad with the Hokies dropping a home game to East Carolina, but Ohio St. still has a shot to get to 10-2 assuming they lose to Michigan St. in East Lansing. That’s not a bad season by any means. I’m interesting to see what Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel can do against the Buckeyes defense. Kiel has had an interesting career despite being just a sophomore. Originally committed to Indiana, he dropped the Hoosiers for LSU. He then dropped LSU for Notre Dame where he redshirted. With the emergence of Everett Golson, Kiel transferred to UC where this year he’s averaging 350 passing yds/G & 5TD! Just a sophomore, he’ll get a chance at a real defense.
Iowa St. is coming off an improbably win over in-state rival Iowa which could have very well dashed the Hawkeyes hopes of playing in the playoffs. Those were long shot odds for the Hawkeyes but they at least had a shot which evaporated with the home loss to the Cyclones. ISU is an interesting team. They barely lost to Kansas St. & dropped a heart breaker to North Dakota St. to open the season. They are an experienced team which gives them that vibe of having the ability to knock off a team they probably shouldn’t. The Bears are outscoring opponents 59-9 in their 3 wins but they haven’t played ANYBODY! Interestingly enough, the last 2 times Baylor has come to Ames, Iowa St. has defended home turf. Beating ranked teams also isn’t uncommon for Iowa State. They beat 4 ranked opponents from 2010-2012. This is tricky for Baylor.
After inexplicably dropping a road game to an inferior Bowling Green squad, Indiana went on the road to the defending SEC East champions and took care of business beating Missouri 31-27! Now Indiana returns to Bloomington to host Maryland in the Terps first ever B1G conference game. This game actually sets up well for the Hoosiers. Maryland likes to run the ball but IU has become a fairly decent run defense. If Indiana has a weakness it’s pass defense but Terps QB CJ Brown hasn’t played particularly well so far. In case you have heard, this is worth watching if only for Indiana RB Tevin Coleman. He’s not getting any Heisman publicity but Coleman is on pace to rush for 2466yds & 26TD averaging 8.6ypc! At 6’1/210lbs, Coleman is a load to carry and I’m not sure Maryland has the goods to stop Coleman or outscore the Hoosiers.
A very intriguing matchup that meant a lot more before the Tar Heels dropped a game to East Carolina. Now it’s almost a game in which you are curious to see if the train wreck is going to manifest itself. The Tigers have started out 1-2 although their two losses have come against Georgia & Florida State. Dabo Swinney & the entire Clemson team have to be kicking themselves for letting the FSU game go with Jameis Winston not playing for the Seminoles. The 23-17 OT loss to FSU could have put their season on a completely different trajectory if they had pulled off the upset. As for UNC, they need to fix the defense in the WORST way. The Heels are scoring 43PPG which is what we expected, but they are giving up 42PPG & gave up 70 to ECU! It doesn’t look great here & a loss could completely demolish a once promising season in Chapel Hill.
First it was a 31-0 humiliation at the hands of one of their biggest rivals. Last week it was a 26-10 home loss to Utah, a team that finished 5-7 a year ago which was good enough for 5th place in the Pac 12 South! Things in Michigan are going horribly awry and it’s not out of the question to compare the Michigan situation with the departure of Lloyd Carr with the Tennessee situation with the departure of Phillip Fulmer. Both teams are suffering through extreme QB droughts & there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The Wolverines are running the football well behind Derrick Green & the defense is playing well. The QB play has been abysmal with Devin Gardner & Shane Morris. Can Minnesota beat Michigan? I don’t think so because I don’t think the Gophers have enough of a passing attack, but Brady Hoke is done as HC of Michigan.
Speaking of Utah, the Utes come off of that big road win to welcome in Washington State who is coming off a helluva game against Oregon that saw the Cougars almost pull off a stunner! I love the contrasts in this game with both teams. For Utah, the Utes are trying to regain relevance after not playing so well after their admittance into the Pac 12. Life in the Mountain West was much easier, but after last week, Utah could at least get to 4 wins before the schedule gets crazy. As for Washington St., they didn’t get off to a good start with oddball losses to Nevada & Rutgers to start the season. They beat Portland St. in Week 3 & then gave Oregon a scare last week. I thought Washington St. could really contend in the P12 North this season & there is definitely time to turn their season around with some sound conference wins. Must win for both teams.

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Big Games, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa St., Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Must See Games, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon St., South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St., Week 5 | Leave a comment

2014 PAC 12 PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS

RANK PAC 12 SOUTH COMMENTS
#1 PROJECTED RECORD: 12-0 (9-0); OFFENSE: UCLA returns 9 starters from a unit that averaged 36.9PPG including QB & Heisman front runner Brett Hundley. Last year as a rSO Hundly completed 67% of his passes for 3071yds & 24TD! He should compete for All-America honors & if UCLA ends up with the record I predict, he’ll be a Heisman favorite. UCLA returns 5 starting O-linemen and get RB Jordan James back healthy. The receiving corps lose leading WR Shaquelle Evans but return 5 of their top-6 receivers. Seven starters from UCLA’s offense are projected to compete for P12 honors & there isn’t a single weakness on the team. The most exciting player might be RB/LB Myles Jack! Jack averaged 7.0ypc & scored 7TD but also made 75 tackles as a LB all as a true frosh! DEFENSE: The Bruins return 8 starters from a defense that allowed 23.3PPG. Losing Anthony Barr is a blow to be sure but the defense is going to get significantly better. Jack & DT Eddie Vanderdoes were freshman All-Americans! DT Kenny Clark & LB Isaako Savaiinaea were both true freshman last year & got significant playing time. LB Eric Kendricks led the team in tackles last year with 106 and he returns. S Anthony Jefferson is an all-P12 performer. Losing Barr, DE Cassius Marsh & LB Jordan Zumwalt (all NFL draft picks) is tough but there is enough talent to improve. SCHEDULE: It’s not easy but UCLA draws Oregon, Arizona, USC & Stanford at home & get a neutral game against Texas. Their toughest road games are against Arizona St. & Washington. Brutal but UCLA should be favored in all.
#2 PROJECTED RECORD: 9-3 (6-3); OFFENSE: USC might be in for a transition year under new HC Steve Sarkisian, but Sarkisian was a staple of Pete Carroll’s former USC staff & was probably the best hire the Trojans could have made when they took Lane Kiffin. Now Sark has had his feet wet by coaching Washington so he’s ready. USC brings back 7 starters from an offense that scored 30PPG last season & includes QB Cody Kessler who completed 65% of his passes for 2968yds/20TD! Kessler brings USC back as his stats are a lot like Barkley’s, Leinart’s & Palmer’s. USC also brings back RB Javorius Allen (5.8ypc/14TD), WR Nelson Agholor (918yds/6TD) along with 3 returning O-Linemen. It’s USC so the talent is ridiculous even if not as deep due to recent sanctions. Keep an eye on USC’s tackles. Zach Banner (6’9/345lbs) & Chad Wheeler (6’7/300lbs) are GIGANTIC! DEFENSE: USC is getting back to their defensive ways bringing back 7 from a unit that allowed 21.2PPG  in ’13. DE Leonard Williams, LB Hayes Pullard & S Su’a Craven could all be All-Americans by year’s end. I’m excited to see OLB JR Tavai & OLB Jabari Ruffin. The Trojan defense stands out because it’s so large. The D-Line is about 6’3/300lbs. The LBs are about 6’2/240lbs and the DBs are about 6’1/200lbs. The recruiting class could also have some impact players like DL Claude Pelon! SCHEDULE: Avoided Oregon but drew UCLA & Stanford on the road. Road games against Washington St. & Arizona won’t be easy & USC close with Notre Dame. I’ll call for 9 wins but 10 is a distinct possibility for USC.
#3 PROJECTED RECORD: 7-5 (4-5); OFFENSE: In his first 2 seasons in the desert, Rich Rodriguez has led Arizona’s offense to 35PPG. Last season the Wildcats scored 33.5PPG & bring back 7 starters. Unfortunately Arizona loses a couple of huge pieces in RB Ka’Deem Carey (1885yds/19TD/5.4ypc) & QB BJ Denker (61%/2516yds/16TD). Denker was also a running threat accumulating 949yds rushing & 13TD. The good news is that Arizona returns 4 starting O-Linemen & 3 of their top-4 receivers. The projected starting QB is former USC recruit Jesse Scroggins, but Arizona also has former LSU QB Jerrard Randall & former Texas QB Connor Brewer. There is a lot of potential here if Arizona can figure out a way to run the ball & utilize WRs Cayleb Jones (6’3) & Austin Hill (6’3). Probably a step back but not a huge one. DEFENSE: Arizona returns just 6 starters from a unit that allowed 24.2PPG. Arizona’s defense was fairly strong last year & the only huge loss is LB Maquis Flowers who led the team with 11TFL & was drafted by the Bengals. Arizona returns 5 of their top-8 tacklers. LB Scooby Wright is a star in the making, but Arizona is relying heavily on JUCO players & transfers. It’s definitely not the way I’d want to win long term, but Rodriguez needs time to recruit. The defense won’t be as good. SCHEDULE: Drawing Oregon & Washington St. on the road from the North hurts. They also have a road game against UCLA. Arizona has a chance to go 9-3 if they play tough and potentially 8-4. Either way, Rodriguez will at least win 8 games in each of his 1st 3 seasons in Tuscon. Good start.
#4 PROJECTED RECORD: 6-6 (3-6); OFFENSE: Arizona St. scored 39.7PPG last season & with 6 returning starters it might seem odd to think they can be better than that, but ASU returns the right kinds of players. QB Taylor Kelly returns for his senior season. Last year he completed 62.4% of his passes for 3635yds & 28TD. His 2 favorite receivers come back in WR Jaelen Strong & RB DJ Foster. Losing RB Marion Grice seems like a blow but Foster averaged 5.4ypc to Grice’s 5.2 & Foster is a much better pass catching back. At 6’4/215, Strong has a chance to be an All-American & a 1st Rd. NFL Draft pick. The O-Line returns 3 starters & all 5 projected starters are upperclassmen. The O-Line will be better & if Kelly improves, ASU should average more than 40PPG! DEFENSE: The unit could be problematic as the Sun Devils return just 2 starters from a unit that allowed 26.6PPG! HC Todd Graham has S Damarious Randall & LB Salamo Fiso back but he’s relying on a lot of JUCO talent to come through & hold the defense together in ’14. It’s an interesting gamble. DT Dalvon Stuckey could be a handful & I like the size of ASU’s DEs in 6’5/300lbs Marcus Hardison & 6’6/240lbs Darrius Caldwell. CB Kweishi Brown could come in & have an impact but there is a lot of questions here. This might be an awful defense. SCHEDULE: The road schedule isn’t pleasant with USC, Washington, Oregon St. & Arizona on tap. They also get home games against UCLA, Stanford, Washington St. & Notre Dame. Graham’s a helluva coach so I think ASU gets bowl eligible but they are in for a difficult year in ’14.
#5 PROJECTED RECORD: 5-7 (2-7); OFFENSE: In his first season HC Mike MacIntyre took Colorado from 1-11 to 4-8 & improved the offense from 17.8PPG to 25.4PPG! This year the Buffs have 8 starters returning from that unit including QB Sefo Liufau who as a true frosh completed 59.4% for 1779, 12TD to 8INT. There is a lot to like. Liufau should be better and at 6’4/230lbs looks the part of a big time QB. Colorado returns their top-6 leading rushers. They return 3 starting O-Linemen. The one negative is that they lose WR Paul Richardson (83rec/1343yds/10TD) so Liufau will need another go to receiver. Nelson Spruce could be that guy in ’14 & should compete for all-P12 honors. The offense improves yet again under MacIntyre. DEFENSE: Colorado had massive issues on defense in 2013 allowing 38.3PPG, but they do return 8 starters. It’s sort of a mixed bag really but Colorado’s projected defense has 10 upperclassmen and the best defender they have might be sophomore LB Addison Gillam. CB Greg Henderson is also a nice corner who along with Gillam should compete for all-P12 honors. The talent is brutally thin on defense but CU has to give MacIntyre to improve that. They can’t go anywhere but up in 2014 seeing as how bad 2013 was, but this should still be a fairly bad defense. SCHEDULE: Colorado has to take wins where they can get them & they are lucky that they get a home game against Utah & California stinks. There is a lot of experience here & if Colorado can pull off a shocker at home (ASU? UW?) then Colorado could be bowling in Mac’s 2nd year.
#6 PROJECTED RECORD: 3-9 (1-8); OFFENSE: I really have no idea what to think about Utah. They return 6 starters from an offense that scored 29.2PPG in 2013 en route to a 5-7 record. They have some pieces back, but it doesn’t seem to fit. QB Travis Wilson returns but last season he completed just 56% of his passes & threw as many picks as he did TDs. RB Bubba Poole returns but he averaged just 4.1ypc which is pedestrian. Utah also loses 3 of their top-4 receivers & 2 starting O-Linemen. WR Dres Anderson is a weapon & I could see RB Devontae Booker coming in and making an impact so it’s possible the offense is marginally better. The key is how much improvement will we see from Wilson? DEFENSE: The Utes return 6 starters from a defense that allowed 28PPG. I like the makeup of this defense better than I do the offense. Losing Trevor Reilly & Tenny Palepoi from the D-Line, but I like DE Nate Orchard & the potential of DE Hunter Dimick. Utah has some good LBs and their secondary should be pretty good. I think Utah’s pass defense could be pretty good so there is definitely hope here. At worst the Utes should be where they were last season, but they could improve. SCHEDULE: Utah doesn’t get a break in the non-conference scheduling a road game at Michigan. The problem for the most part is they don’t get California & play Colroado on the road. Utah seems down but the problem is that the Pac 12 is getting better & better & I’m not sure Utah can recruit at this level and the rest of the Pac 12 is getting better faster than Utah can keep up with.

 

PAC 12 SOUTH OVERALL OUTLOOK: This might be one of the easier divisions to predict given how dominant UCLA should be. It’s hard to overshadow an historically great USC program, but Jim Mora has come to Westwood and done just that. The storyline in the South will be whether or not UCLA can navigate their schedule to a 12-0 record & potentially win the Pac 12 championship and possibly be the team that has the best chance at dethroning Florida State from winning back-to-back national championships. The resurgence of USC will also be worth watching as a 10-3/11-2 year would be fantastic for the Trojans showing the rest of the nation they are back to being a top-10 or top-15 program with even greater heights to be achieved. The bottom 4 teams are sort of in quasi-rebuilding mode. Arizona is trying to get over the 8-win hump but lost a lot offensively. ASU is completely retooling while Colorado & Utah are just taking one step at a time. For Arizona, Arizona St., Utah, & Colorado, just getting bowl eligible will be quite an accomplishment and of course all 4 teams could spoil USC’s or UCLA’s season on any given night should the Trojans/Bruins decide to not even show up for those games. You know the Pac 12 is starting to climb the ladder to SEC status when you can point to 8-win teams like Arizona & 10-win teams like Arizona State and say they aren’t that good relative to the other power teams in the Pac 12!

 

RANK B1G WEST COMMENTS
#1 PROJECTED RECORD: 11-1 (8-1); OFFENSE: What can you say about Oregon’s offense? The Ducks haven’t averaged less than 40PPG since 2009 which was also their worst year in the past 5. They only went 10-3! This year the Ducks bring back 8 starters including QB Marcus Mariota from an offense that scored 45.5PPG! Mariota is the Heisman front runner assuming it’s impossible for a guy to win the award twice. The only signiificant loss is WR Josh Huff, but sophomore Dwayne Stanford (6’5/200lbs) is ready to step into that role. The Ducks return 4 starting O-Linemen as well as their top-3 rushers. RB Byron Marshall ran for 1038yds/14TD while Thomas Tyner chipped in 711yds/9TD! Mariota combined for almost 4400yds passing/rushing with a combined 40TD! OC Hroniss Grasu & OT Tyler Johnstone could both be All-Americans along with Mariota. It’s possible this offense scores 50PPG! DEFENSE: More losses defensively for Oregon returning just 5 starters from a unit that allowed 20.5PPG, but the returning starters are solid. Oregon should have one of the more underrated D-Lines in the nation. DE Tony Washington is a beast & let’s not forget DE DeForest Buckner (6’7/290lbs), DT Arik Armstead (6’8/300lbs) or DT Alex Balducci (6’4/300lbs). These guys are huge. CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is an All-American & might be the best CB in the nation. The LB unit returns Derrick Malone & Rodney Hardrick. Both could be all-conference. SCHEDULE: It doesn’t matter. The only problem game is a road date with UCLA which should determine which one of those 2 teams goes undefeated.
#2 PROJECTED RECORD: 10-2 (7-2); OFFENSE: Stanford returns 5 starters from an offense that scored 32.3PPG in ’13. You might think Stanford needs to retool a bit but QB Kevin Hogan returns and should only get better while his weaponry returns almost 100% intact as the Cardinal return their top-5 receivers. The big loss is RB Tyler Gaffney who rushed for 1709yds/21TD. That’s a tough loss but his replacement is some kid named Barry Sanders. Maybe you’ve heard of his father? As a rFR Sanders averaged 8.4ypc last year. The O-Line returns just 2 starters but the talent is ridiculous with LT Andrus Peat being an All-American. This offense should look a lot more like when it did under Andrew Luck. Those Stanford teams scored 40PPG. I think this Stanford team does too. DEFENSE: Stanford returns 7 starters from a defense that allowed 19.0PPG in ’13! That sounds great but 2 players are going to be HARD to replace in LB Shayne Skov (team leader in tackles) and LB Trent Murphy (23.5TFL/15sacks), both of whom were All-Americans. Luckily the Cardinal have 2 more All-American candidates in LB AJ Tarpley & S Jordan Richards! The big issue facing Stanford is them getting a pass rush from somewhere. Players like James Vaughters, Kevin Anderson & Blake Leuders need to step up their game. The defense will be great but Skov & Murphy are too hard to replace. SCHEDULE: Road games against Oregon & UCLA screw Stanford, but they get WSU, Oregon St. & USC at home. A road date with Notre Dame could be dangerous but they should get to 10-2.
#3 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (5-4); OFFENSE: If you are looking for a serious sleeper team that could shock some people then look no further than Corvallis. The best part of Oregon St. returning 7 starters from an offense that scored 34.8PPG is QB Sean Mannion. He’s not getting a ton of hype because Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley & Kevin Hogan play QB in the Pac 12, but Mannion has a rocket arm with great size at 6’5/225lbs. He completed 66.3% of his passes last year for 4662yds & 37TD. He’ll become OSU’s all-time leading passer this season and returns 4 of this top-5 receivers. Losing WR Brandin Cooks (128rec/1730yds/16TD) is impossible to replace, but OSU’s receiving corps is huge in their 2TE set & they also return their top-2 rushers. The O-Line could be the weak link but C Isaac Seumalo could be an All-American. Losing Cooks is HUGE but OSU will put up lots of points. DEFENSE: Like the offense, the defense has one huge loss in DE Scott Crichton who led the team with 19TFL & was a 3rd Rd. NFL Draft pick. On the other hand, OSU returns 7 starters & their top-6 tacklers from a defense that allowed 31.4PPG. The D-Line is going to have to figure out a way to stop the run & get a pass rush but OSU returns 6 of their back-7 & should have an outstanding secondary. Teams will have difficulties passing against them, but they’ll need to stop the run. SCHEDULE: They draw USC, Stanford & Washington on the road which is tough. They do get Oregon at home but the Ducks are just so good. Ten wins is possible with an upset & a bowl win. This is a good team.
#4 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (5-4); OFFENSE: When you talk Mike Leach guided offense you talk insane passing attacks and incredible offensive production. Leach didn’t disappoint. His first year was tough getting his players into his system with WSU averaging 20.4PPG but last year that improved to 31.0PPG & the Cougars have 8 starters returning including QB Connor Halliday. Halliday completed 63% of his passes for 4597yds & 34TD! He did throw 22 picks but his decision making should get better this season as a senior. All the skill position players return with the only losses coming on the O-Line. Even with those losses, WSU is huge up front. The O-line got much better protecting the QB last year. I’m not sure Leach will improve the offense by another 10PPG in ’14 but they’ll post around 35PPG. DEFENSE: Clearly Washington St. isn’t about punishing defense & for WSU to win games they are going to have to outscore some people but the defense might be OK as they return 6 starters from a unit that allowed 32.5PPG & brings back 7 of their top-9 tacklers. The D-Line has some interesting players in Xavier Cooper & Kalafitoni Pole, but the glaring weakness is the Cougars secondary. There is virtually no talent here so Leach has to do something to get some players in here. SCHEDULE: It think the Cougars will be a VERY difficult game at home & they draw Arizona & Washington to Pullman which really works out. They also avoid UCLA from the South & get a pretty weak Utah team on the road. I’m bullish on the Cougars & I think 7-8 wins is entirely possible.
#5 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-5 (4-5); OFFENSE: I could be underestimating the Huskies offense a bit because the do return 7 starters from a unit that averaged 37.9PPG en route to 9 wins, but the losses are significant. Chris Petersen finally left Boise St. to coach at UW. A curious move but I think Petersen has success. The problem early on might be the losses at the skill positions. Washington loses their QB, top rusher & top receiver from a year ago. Keith Price was extremely good at QB completing 66.2% of his passes for 2966yds/21TD. RB Bishop Sankey ran for 1870yds/20TD and WR Kevin Smith had 765yds receiving. The O-Line returns intact & is one of the best lines in all of college football but QB Cyler Miles & RB Dwayne Washington are only sophomores & WR Kasen Williams has to step up and be the #1 WR. They won’t score 37.9PPG a game & could actually struggle if the youngsters struggle. DEFENSE: UW returns 7 starters from a team that allowed 22.8PPG. They return 7 of their top-9 tacklers & should be very good. LB Shaq Thompson is an All-American candidate & UW returns 6 of their front-7! DE Hau’oli Kikaha led the team with 13 sacks. DTs Danny Shelton & Evan Hudson should be very good on the inside. UW could definitely be weak in the secondary & 3 underclassmen are projected to start. If they come along quickly, this defense will be great. SCHEDULE: I think this team is vulnerable on the road with youth & they get WSU, Oregon & Arizona on the road. I’ll say 8 wins but if they can win some toss up road games, UW could get to 10-3 with some luck.
#6 PROJECTED RECORD: 1-11 (0-9); OFFENSE: In a vacuum I think you have to really like what Cal could bring to the table offensively this season. They return 9 starters from a team that averaged 23PPG, but QB Jared Goff & RB Khalfani Muhammad were true frosh while LT Steven Moore was a rFR starter at RT last season. The O-Line returns 4 starters and for the most part all the skill position players return but the problem I think is that the Pac 12 North is loaded with a ton of offensive minded teams which means Cal could greatly improve but still not look so hot. Goff is a stud & Muhammad averaged 6.0ypc last season. The receivers look good with Chris Harper & Bryce Treggs but both guys are under 6’0. The Bears will improve but how much relative to the rest of the Pac 12 remains to be seen. DEFENSE: Cal returns 6 starters from a defense that allowed a ridiculously bad 45.9PPG! The Bears do return 6 of their top-7 tacklers from a year ago and the defense was brutalized by injuries last season so there is hope for legitimate improvement. A lot of JUCO talent coming in so who knows how it will play out. DE Brennan Scarlett & LB Jalen Jefferson are pretty good pieces but the Pac 12 scores in bunches. SCHEDULE: Cal reminds me a little bit of Utah in that while they might seem to be improvement, it’s at a much slower pace than the rest of the Pac 12. In fact, the Pac 12 is getting so good they rival the SEC in some ways & Cal is getting left behind. They need to win homes games but I”m not sure they beat Colorado at home. Another year at 1-11.

 

PAC 12 NORTH OVERALL OUTLOOK: The Pac 12 North isn’t as clear cut as the Pac 12 South but Stanford & Oregon should once again reign supreme atop the division. I think the fact that Oregon gets Stanford at home means the difference in who wins the division and plays in the Pac 12 championship game. California is going to be terrible but Oregon St., Washington St., and Washington make for an interesting middle of the division. All have just enough weaknesses to avoid contending for the division crown, but all have enough strengths that could make things very interesting when playing home games. I’m especially excited to see what happens with Oregon St. & Washington as both teams could be 10-win teams if the chips fall just the right way for them. Mike Leach in his 3rd season in Pullman makes things even more interesting given how explosive their offense might actually be. What is amazing about the Pac 12 North is that in some ways it is the closest thing another conference has to the SEC West. It’s not as strong as that division, but when you are talking about the best divisions in college football you always start with the SEC West, but you might actually have to go Pac 12 North as the 2nd best. That’s incredible compliment & I think this division will be worth following all season long!

August 27, 2014 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Predictions, Previews, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St. | Leave a comment

2014 Pac 12: A Look At Predictive Analytics From 2013

It’s always fun to look at the big picture when evaluating college football teams to get an idea of where their season might be headed. There are some advanced metrics that can give us some insight into some of the “luck” that teams will have in the coming season based on these particular stats regression to the mean in most cases. For the discussion below, I use the following:

CLOSE GAMES: Games decided by 7 points or fewer
TURNOVER MARGIN (TO Margin)
PYTHAGOREAN: A theoretical winning percentage based on points scored & allowed; (PS*PS)/((PS*PS)+(PA*PA))
LUCK: The difference between Pythagorean & a team’s actual record

This doesn’t always mean that teams will trend opposite of what they did the previous year. You have to look at context and previous years to get a sense of where a team might be headed in the upcoming season. It also doesn’t mean that regression to the mean will be reflected in the overall record. A team could be 0-7 in close games with a TO margin of -25 and a Pythagorean suggesting they were 2.62 wins better than their win total from the previous season, but if the team is short on talent and has an extremely difficult schedule ahead without many opportunities for home wins, regressing might not mean that much in the win column.

Moving on to the Pac 12 here are the overall trends for each team. Discussion follows:

TRENDING UP: Arizona, Utah, Washington St., Colorado, California
TRENDING DOWN: UCLA, Arizona St.
TREADING WATER: Oregon, Stanford, Washington, USC, Oregon St.

While the Pac 12 isn’t the best conference in college football, they are making a serious play to rival the SEC when it comes to football dominance. What really sticks out to me is that teams like Utah, Colorado & California should be greatly improved, but their schedules are SO TOUGH that we might not even see that much improvement even though the teams should be better. From the top down though, this is a brutal conference. Washington, Stanford & Oregon are all top-20 teams with Oregon & Stanford being top-5 to top-10 squads. UCLA, USC, & Arizona look really really good and you can bet Arizona St. is going to be really good. What happened with the Pac 12 to a degree is how good the coaching is. David Shaw took over Jim Harbaugh at Stanford and never missed a beat. In some crazy business, Washington ended up being the school who lured Chris Petersen away from Boise State! Steve Sarkisian left Washington to go to USC. Rich Rodriguez winds up at Arizona. Todd Graham leaves Pittsburgh after a year to take over at Arizona State. Jim Mora is doing amazing things at UCLA. Mike MacIntyre did a great job at San Jose St. and is now at Colorado. Sonny Dykes has a good resume & took over for Jeff Tedford at California. In some crazy twist of history, the pirate himself Mike Leach wound up at Washington State! There simply aren’t any easy games in the Pac 12, and there might not be for a long while with these coaches looking like they are in place for the long haul!

The Pac 12 might be the most interesting conference in 2014.

Teams are listed in descending order of their Pythagorean winning percentage. Following the chart are the raw numbers in each category.

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 The Ducks definitely look to be in line for serious regression with their +11 in TO margin, but their other indicators aren’t as strong. Oregon was just 1-1 in close games & their Pythagorean of .832 suggests they were 0.19 games worse than their actual record. Bigger trends are even more crazy. Over the last 7 years Oregon is +70 in TO margin! They are 7-4 in close games over the past 5 seasons as well. There were some signs of regression last year. Note that Oregon was +21 in TO margin in 2012 compared to the +11 they were last season. That could come down again, but it must be said that Oregon plays a style of football conducive to them having a great TO margin, thus they win….A LOT! I think Oregon is just treading water & they return 8 starters on offense that averaged 46PPG last season! Stanford comes to Eugene which means 13-0 is on the table.
#2 It’s somewhat amazing to think Stanford was who they were last year given that the Cardinal wound up 11-3 with a Pac 12 championship. Their predictive metrics show no reliance upon luck! They had a ZERO TO margin and their Pythagorean of .743 suggests they were only 0.60 wins worse than their record. Stanford was 3-3 in close games meaning they were this close to being 14-0. Stanford is essentially treading water which means they could be in for a huge year in 2014 if Lady Luck shines on them. The converse could be true as well, but Stanford brings back an interesting mix of talent. Only 5 return on offense but the OL should be great & they replace their RB with Barry Sanders’ kid! They lose Shane Skov & Trent Murphy on defense but bring back 7! Their road schedule is absolute murder (Wash, ND, ASU, Oregon, UCLA) but if they get lucky, they should win big!
#3 The Huskies are the first mixed bag team we have in the Pac 12. They were +7 in TO margin but 0-1 in close games & their Pythagorean of .734 suggests they were 0.54 wins better than their 9-4 record shows. It’s hard to note which way the wind is blowing for the Huskies & for the most part looking back over the data doesn’t show us much either as Washington has been fairly stable. What’s interesting is that UW loses a couple of heavy hitters in QB Keith Price & RB Bishop Sankey. I actually think UW will be OK with Cyler Miles & Dwayne Washington replacing them. They also bring back 7 on defense. Washington’s schedule is conducive. They get Stanford, Arizona St., & UCLA at home. A road game to Oregon hurts but the other 11 games are winnable & they’ll have former Boise St. HC Chris Petersen at the helm & he knows a little bit about winning football games.
#4 The Bruins are one of the more intriguing teams in college football this year. Their predictive metrics are definitely pointing towards regression. UCLA was +10 in TO margin, 2-1 in close games & their Pythagorean of .718 suggests they were 0.67 wins worse than their final 10-3 record would indicate. That all points towards regression, but UCLA is in a unique spot. They return 9 starters on offense including QB Brett Hundley who should be a top Heisman candidate. They also return 8 starters on defense & will be in HC Jim Mora’s system for the 3rd straight year. They got screwed drawing both Oregon & Stanford out of the Pac 12 North but they get both at home with their toughest contest being on the road at Washington. The metrics point to them regressing, but I almost feel as if they’ll have a huge year in LUCK before the big regression comes in 2015 & 2016.
#5 Incredible year for Todd Graham & Arizona State. The 10-4 Sun Devils won the Pac 12 South & finished with the best record they’ve had since 2007 when ASU went 10-3 in Dennis Erickson’s first season. This success came with some serious luck! Arizona St. was +15 in TO margin & were 3-1 in close games. Their .690 Pythagorean showed they were 0.35 wins worse than their record. With just 6 starters returning on offense & 2 on defense, it’s safe to say this could be a difficult year in Tempe as Arizona St. has a somewhat rebuilding year in store. The defense could be scary bad as they lost 10 of their top-12 tacklers from a unit that allowed 27PPG! They draw Stanford & Washington out of the North & play USC, Oregon St., & Arizona on the road. Throw in a non-conference game against Notre Dame! Regression could knock this team down to a 5 win team with that schedule.
#6 USC metrics are basically treading water. They were +5 in TO margin last year but that isn’t a huge mark  and they were -3 in the 2-years prior. The Trojans were 3-2 in close games which is meaningless too & their Pythagorean of .662 showed they were 0.73 wins worse than their 10-4 record. They aren’t regressing towards winning, but they aren’t in line for regression towards losing either & with Steve Sarkisian coming on board & USC doing a lot better with scholarships, the Men of Troy could be in line for a lot of Lady Luck. USC returns 7 on both offense & defense including QB Cody Kessler. They drew Stanford out of the North which isn’t great luck & they do play UCLA & Arizona on the road along with non-conference games against Boston College & Notre Dame. They are capable of 10 wins without any of luck’s involvement. If luck comes into play they could be great.
#7 Arizona is in a tough spot because their predictive metrics are actually pretty good. They were +4 in TO margin which doesn’t say much and they could actually trend better in that respect seeing how they were -11 from 2009-2012. The Wildcats were 1-3 in close games & their Pythagorean of .656 suggests they were 0.53 wins better than their final 8-5 record shows. The problem here is that the Pac 12 is extremely top heavy. UCLA, USC, Washington, Oregon & Stanford aren’t just expected to be good teams, they could be great teams with Oregon, Stanford & UCLA being legitimate national title contenders! Arizona has a lot coming back but lose all-world RB Ka’Deem Carey & QB BJ Denker. They also lose their two top-tacklers on defense. They should regress with better stats but with the schedule, they could easily wind up 8-4/7-5 despite getting a lot more lucky.
#8 Oregon St. is a team that played pretty much to their 7-6 record last season. The Beavers were +3 in TO margin & 2-2 in close games while their Pythagorean of .551 showed they were 0.16 games better than their final record. Oregon St. is basically treading water but Mike Riley is a tremendous HC and the Beavers have quite a bit coming back including QB Sean Mannion who will become OSU’s all time leading passer if he remains healthy. Oregon St. also gets a little lucky with schedule with drawing both Utah & Colorado from the P12 South! What’s interesting here is that Oregon St. is an 8-4 team, but if Lady Luck shines on them the 4 projected losses (at USC, at Stanford, at Washington, Oregon) could open up, especially USC & Washington. Anything can happen in the Civil War although Oregon St. hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2007! Very interesting here.
#9 Since joining the Pac 10, Utah has lost one fewer game in each season since their first. In their 3 years, the Utes have a 9-18 conference record after having a 21-3 conference record in the Mountain West in the 3-years prior to joining their new conference. Utah didn’t have a great year last season at 5-7 & their predictive measures show they were a bit unlucky. Although they barely came out ahead at 4-3 in close games, Utah was -9 in TO margin & their Pythagorean of .520 suggests they were a whopping 1.21 games BETTER than their record indicates! Utah played really well against the tough Pac 12 opponents last year & even beat Stanford! The defense should be a lot better & QB Travis Wilson returns. The schedule isn’t kind & they draw Oregon & Stanford form the North, but if they can play well at home, Luck should turn their way & Utah can get back to a bowl.
#10 How great is Mike Leach? WSU was 9-40 in the 4 years before Leach came to Pullman. In his 2nd year he had the Cougars back to a bowl! Things could go even better for Washington St. with their predictive metrics showing regression towards winning. Last season Wazzou was -5 in TO margin (-53 over the past 7 seasons!) & 2-2 in close games. Their .467 Pythagorean mark suggests they were 0.19 wins better than their eventual 6-7 record. These are small increments but Lady Luck has been ignoring WSU so much over that last few years that the Cougars could have a big year regarding luck. Wazzou returns 8 starters on offense including QB Connor Halliday & will be in Year 3 of Leach’s AIR RAID system. The schedule is nasty but Leach is just a helluva coach so you’d have to expect Washington St. to win some games they shouldn’t. Luck should be on their side in 2014.
#11 The Buffs weren’t exactly tearing it up in the Big XII but they’ve been abysmal in the Pac 12 (4-23 in conference)! You never want to say you are what you are when you are a 4-8 squad but Colorado fit the bill. They were -3 in TO margin & just 0-1 in close games. Their Pythagorean of .306 says they were actually 0.32 games worse than their final record! All of this adds up to Colorado essentially treading water, but what is interesting is if you look at the last 2 seasons together. Over the last 2 seasons Colorado is -22 in TO margin & 1-4 in close games! Their 2-year Pythagorean is brutal at .209 but it says Colorado was 0.01 wins better than their 2-year record of 5-19. Mike MacIntyre took a 1-12 San Jose St. team in his 1st year to 11-2 in his 3rd. This is his 2nd year in Boulder & he has 16 returning starters back. Luck should regress towards winning for Colorado.
#12 The 2013 season couldn’t have gone worse for new HC Sonny Dykes whose Bears finished 1-11! They were -15 in TO margin but just 1-1 in close games. Their Pythagorean of .201 was terrible but it showed they were 1.41 wins better than their final record would indicate. Cal was the unluckiest team in the Pac 12 according to point differential! All signs point up for California who is also -22 in TO margin over the last 2 seasons. Cal returns 9 starters on offense including QB Jared Goff. Dykes spent a lot of time on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech so expect Cal to be a lot better on offense in Dykes’ 2nd year. The problem for Cal is schedule. They’ll be better but they drew USC, UCLA & Arizona out of the South & have non-conference games against Northwestern & BYU! I see 2 wins on the schedule so improvement & luck shining on them could push them to 3-4 wins. Maybe.

PYTHAGOREAN WINNING PERCENTAGE

Oregon: .832
Stanford: .743
Washington: .734
UCLA: .718
Arizona St.: .690
USC: .662
Arizona: .656
Oregon St.: .551
Utah: .520
Washington St.: .476
Colorado: .306
California: .201

LUCK

USC: +0.73
UCLA: +0.67
Stanford: +0.60
Arizona St.: +0.35
Colorado: +0.32
Oregon: +0.19
Oregon St.: -0.16
Washington St.: -0.19
Arizona: -0.53
Washington: -0.54
Utah: -1.24
Washington: -1.41

TURNOVER MARGIN

Arizona St.: +15
Oregon: +11
UCLA: +10
Washington: +7
USC: +5
Arizona: +4
Oregon St.: +3
Stanford: 0
Colorado: -3
Washington St.: -5
Utah: -9
California: -15

RECORD IN GAMES DECIDED BY 7 POINTS OR FEWER

Arizona St.: 3-1
UCLA: 2-1
USC: 3-2
Utah: 4-3
Stanford: 3-3
Oregon St.: 2-2
Washington St.: 2-2
California: 1-1
Oregon: 1-1
Arizona: 1-3
Colorado: 0-1
Washington: 0-1

July 13, 2014 Posted by | Analytics, Arizona, Arizona St., California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon St., Pac 12, Predictions, Previews, Stanford, Statistics, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St. | Leave a comment