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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 INTERIOR DL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 QBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

Back with my “Terrific 20”! This time we are looking at quarterbacks. Remember that I’m not ranking the top-20 QBs, but rather listing them in alphabetical order by team. As I outlined in my Terrific 20: RB post, it was simply too difficult to try and distinguish between the top-20, and even if I did, I’m not sure there is any real value added to that discussion.

TEAM COMMENTS
Computer Hope Jalen Hurts/6’2/214lbs/SO: It was fairly remarkable what Hurts was able to do at Alabama as a true freshman. He might have added to Nick Saban’s number of gray hairs at times, but Hurts was nothing if not exciting. There are certainly some things Hurts can work on. He was flat out terrible against Florida, Washington & Clemson in Alabama’s last 3 games. He wasn’t that great in the 4th quarter or in 3rd down. He’ll improve in all those areas and I could see him going for 3000/1000 in 2017.
Computer Hope Deondre Francois/6’2/205lbs/rSO: Francois took a beating all season long and still managed to play in every game and lead Florida St. to a 10-3 record including a bowl win over Michigan in what was considered a “down” year for the Seminoles. He’s essentially the successor to Jameis Winston and I wouldn’t be against Francois leaving FSU with a title the way Winston did. The rFR was outstanding on 3rd down throwing 10 touchdowns to zero picks. That shows that he won’t beat himself.
Computer Hope Lamar Jackson/6’3/200lbs/JR: Jackson was incredible last year on his way to a Heisman Trophy by throwing for 3,543 yards and rushing for 1,571 yards with a combined 51TDs! It was an easy pick although the Cardinals faded considerably down the stretch losing their last 3 games. Jackson has some room to improve. He wasn’t great on 3rd down & struggled against top flight competition. Louisville loses quite a few starters on offense so it might be difficult for Jackson to repeat last year.
Computer Hope Brent Stockstill/6’0/223lbs/rJR: You simply can’t argue with Stockstill’s numbers. In his first two years he’s thrown for 7200+ yards with 61TD to 16INT. Stockstill was lethal in the 4th quarter & on 3rd down last season and even made himself into more of a running threat. The Blue Raiders finished 8-5 but that was more due to a defense that couldn’t stop anyone because Stockstill guided the offense to almost 40PPG. He should become MTSU’s all time leading passer at some point in 2017.
Computer Hope Gus Ragland/6’1/211lbs/rJR: Miami-OH started the 2016 season 0-6 before HC Chuck Martin inserted Gus Ragland into the starting lineup afterwards going 6-0 to become bowl eligible and losing a nail biter to Mississippi St. in the St. Petersburg’s Bowl 17-16. Ragland was outstanding finishing the season with 17TD to just 1INT! Ragland completed 82% of his passes in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down he threw 6TD to 0INT. There wasn’t a single think Ragland wasn’t good at doing last year at QB.
Computer Hope Nick Fitzgerald/6’5/230lbs/rJR: You might not think Fitzgerald is much of a runner with him being 6’5/230lbs, but the MSU QB ran for 1,375 yards & 16TD while averaging 7.1ypc! He’s more of a running threat than Dak Prescott ever was although at this point Prescott was the much better passer. Prescott was able to lead the Bulldogs to the #1 ranking and I could see Prescott being able to follow suit if he can keep improving as a passer. The size/speed combo is scary, but he needs to be accurate.
Computer Hope J.T. Barrett/6’2/220lbs/rSR: You don’t get much more experience than 5th year senior JT Barrett who has to be the single biggest reason why the Buckeyes are big favorites to win the national championship this season. Barrett is a big time two way threat that rarely if ever beats himself. He’s going to throw for 2600-2800 yards. He’s going to rush for 700-900 yards and he’s going to score 35-36 combined TDs. He could be a bit better in the 4th quarter, but the games are usually over by then for him.
Computer Hope Baker Mayfield/6’1/218lbs/rSR: If you are looking for a Heisman favorite that isn’t Lamar Jackson, then Mayfield is probably your best bet. Mayfield almost threw for 4,000 yards last year with 40TD while completing 71% of his passes! He won’t be able to pass Landry Jones for OU’s all time leading passer but he should finish his career just behind him. I think it’ll also be interested to see where Mayfield goes in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’ll have tons of experience with outstanding accuracy which is key.
Computer Hope Mason Rudolph/6’5/230lbs/SR: Rudolph is going down as Oklahoma St.’s all time leading passer and it should take him a couple of games to get there. Almost overlooked a bit because he plays in the same conference as Mayfield, Rudolph has had an outstanding career and has the physical tools to get plenty of NFL looks. I’d like to see him beat Oklahoma his senior season. Rudolph actually beat the Sooners in 2014 when he was a frosh, but has been downright awful the last two seasons.
Computer Hope Justin Herbert/6’6/225lbs/SO: Herbert wasn’t supposed to be the starter last year, but after Dakota Prukop struggled, Herbert took over. He needed a couple of games to warm up but in back to back games against Cal & Wazzou, Herbert threw for 747 yards & 10TD to 1INT! He’s only win a couple of games, but for a true frosh to complete 64% of his passes with a 19:4 TD to INT ratio, you can’t help but be impressed. Herbert has huge size & a big arm. He’s poised to have a monster year for the Ducks.
Computer Hope Trace McSorley/6’0/204lbs/rJR: I’m listing the best 20 QBs this year in college football and I think McSorley is one of them. With that said, his advanced metrics aren’t promising. McSorley completed just 49% of his passes on 3rd down. He only completed 58% in the 4th quarter. It’s hard to argue with the statistical season McSorley put up last season, but he threw up a lot of prayers that were answered. If he gets significantly better with his accuracy, then Penn St. literally walks into the playoffs.
Computer Hope David Blough/6’1/200lbs/rJR: Tough not to think of the Drew Brees comparisons as 6’0 QBs from Texas who play at Purdue. Blough is a BALLER! His game wasn’t pretty at times (5 picks against Cincy) but in a 4-game stretch against Iowa, Nebraska, Penn St. and Minnesota, Blough went 118/200 (59%) for 1439yds & 13TD to 4INT! He needs to cut down on his mistakes but the kid is fearless and if he sticks in West Lafayette for his last two seasons, he has a chance to be Purdue’s historical leader.
Computer Hope Quinton Flowers/6’0/215lbs/SR: Last season Lamar Jackson passed for 3543 yards. Flowers passed for 2812. Last year Lamar Jackson ran for 1571 yards. Flowers ran for 1530. Last season Lamar Jackson combined for 51 passing & rushing TDs. Flowers had 42. Last year Lamar Jackson led Louisville to a 9-4 record. Flowers led USF to an 11-2 mark. If a non-Power 5 guy can win the Heisman, it might be Flowers because he’s going to put up big numbers and USF has a legit shot at finishing 13-0.
Computer Hope Shane Buechele/6’1/205lbs/SO: Buechele was the best passer I saw all of last season. Has a great arm with outstanding touch. Sure his numbers weren’t as good as Sam Darnold’s or Baker Mayfield’s, but as far as tossing the ball around, I thought Buechele showed the most upside. Buechele was in a tough situation to begin with in Austin playing for a coach on his way out, but he still managed to completed 60% of his passes & throw for almost 3000 yards. He’ll get a lot better which is scary.
Computer Hope Logan Woodside/6’2/201lbs/rSR: Like Gus Ragland above, Woodside is another MAC QB who simply didn’t do a thing wrong last year under center. Woodside was outstanding against winning teams. He was outstanding in the 4th quarter. He was outstanding on 3rd down. He dominated conference play. He ended up with 4000+ passing yards & 45TD! The Rockets are going to be MAC East favorites, but given how amazing Woodside was in 2016, it’s hard to imagine posting better stats!
Computer Hope Josh Rosen/6’4/220lbs/JR: Rosen battled a lot of injuries last season and the Bruins simply weren’t very good, but when you look at some of Rosen’s advanced stats, he played extremely well. Rosen played really well in Pac 12 play and was more than good on 3rd down & in the 4th quarter. His accuracy isn’t fantastic although it’s far from bad. I think what’s keeping him back is getting his accuracy in that 65-66% range. It probably doesn’t help that HC Jim Mora is on the hot seat so we’ll have to see.
Computer Hope Sam Darnold/6’4/225lbs/rSO: Right now Darnold is the odds on favorite to be the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft! His redshirt freshman season was nothing short of amazing as Darnold threw for almost 3100 yards & 31TD while completing a staggering 67.2% of his passes! His situational football was outstanding & most important, Darnold was dominant against ranked teams. Darnold elevated his game when the lights were brightest and this year he gives USC a chance at a national championship!
Computer Hope Jake Browning/6’2/205lbs/JR: Browning is a guy with a lot more to prove than most people think and you can be sure that both he and UW HC Chris Petersen are aware. Browning put together a great statistical season, but you can make an argument that USC, Colorado & Alabama were the 3 best team’s Washington faced last season and Browning went a combined 46/98 (47%) for 527 yards with 4TD & 4INT. Washington went 1-2 in those 3 games. Browning needs to play well against elite teams.
Computer Hope Luke Falk/6’4/225lbs/rSR: It’s easy to put Falk on any list of great QBs in college this year because his statistics are incredible and Wazzou is turning into a top-20 team. Falk earns it though. He’s was extremely good last year in conference play, in the 4th quarter and on 3rd down. Falk also flashes at times against elite competition showing he can get it done in a variety of ways. He’ll become Wazzou’s all time leading passer this season and give the Cougars an outside show at the Pac 12 North title.
Computer Hope Mike White/6’4/225lbs/rSR: If you want a good reason to be very high on David Blough, just take a look at the kind of QB White morphed into under HC Jeff Brohm’s watch down in Bowling Green. White was outstanding last season for WKU but what really sticks out to me is White’s ability limit his mistakes. Playing in CUSA, White didn’t really get to tee it up against ELITE competition although he did play against Alabama and wasn’t dreadful. White has a real shot at leading WKU to a 13-0 season.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Hunter Johnson/Clemson/6’4/200lbs: Johnson was the #1 QB in the 2017 class according to Phil Steele and with Deshaun Watson now playing for the Houston Texans, the starting job is up for grabs with the defending national champions. Junior Kelly Bryant looks to be the odds on favorite to win the starting job, but Johnson might get some opportunities and he enrolled in the spring so he’s had more time than most true freshman to learn the offense. Clemson lost a lot of impact skill players but returns an outstanding offensive line that would provide quite a safety net for a freshman QB. At the very least I think Clemson will run some sub-packages for Johnson early and see how he performs.

Nick Starkel/Texas A&M/6’3/205lbs or Kellen Mond/Texas A&M/6’2/200lbs: Starkel is a rFR while Mond is a true frosh, but this is tricky with senior QB Jake Hubenak coming back to College Station. Hubenak backed up Trevor Knight last year but didn’t do bad in mop up duty and even started 3 games. HC Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat a bit as the Aggies have posted 3 straight seasons of 8-5 ball along with bowl losses the last two seasons. Starkel & Mond are more talented QBs than Hubenak is, but Hubenak brings an air of veteran leadership to a team and coach that needs to win desperately. How Sumlin decides between veteran leadership and big play upside might determine if he’s around in 2018. Remember that A&M plays road games against UCLA, Florida, Ole Miss & LSU. Having a senior going into hostile environments might not be a bad thing.

Feleipe Franks/Florida/6’6/220lbs: Another redshirt freshman, Franks was one of the most highly touted QBs in the 2016 class. He’ll have to beat out Luke Del Rio for the starting job, but my guess is at some point Franks takes the reigns as Florida’s upside potential with Del Rio under center is somewhat limited. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this year sets up exceedingly well for Florida in regards to scheduling. They have 3 true SEC road games against Missouri, South Carolina & Kentucky! They avoid both Alabama & Auburn out of the West. They do have tricky games against Michigan to open the season and Florida St. to end the season, but at worst the Gators are probably 10-2 and SEC East champions this year. Franks is a big story if he guides Florida to the SEC championship game, HC Jim McElwain’s 3rd in as many years.

KJ Costello/Stanford/6’5/216lbs: Keller Chryst is supposed to be the starter, but Chryst tore his ACL in last year’s Sun Bowl win over North Carolina which could open the door for Costello who is a rFR and is actually entering his 2nd year at Stanford. A huge recruit out of the 2016 class, Costello has a lot of size and arm strength. He has the ability to really thrive at Stanford this season given what is coming back. Sure the Cardinal lose Christian McCaffery but Bryce Love will do a solid job while Stanford brings back an excellent O-Line and plenty of receivers. It really should be a coming out party for Chryst because Stanford has a team that could potentially get into the playoffs if things break right, but that could be Costello if Chryst isn’t ready to go.

Joshua Jackson/Virginia Tech/6’1/211lbs: The Hokies QB situation is a little muddy with Jackson coming off a redshirt season and with AJ Bush transferring in from a junior college after initially being a Nebraska recruit. Hendon Hooker is also a true frosh who should be in the mix. Jerod Evans is a pretty big loss, but I think Virginia Tech has some interesting upside. Defensively we should see vintage Hokies football led by DC Bud Foster. I think Justin Fuente’s offensive schemes work perfectly well with this so the Hokies could be in line for a lot of wins if they get significant QB play from Jackson who could benefit in this situation. It’ll be tough to get by Florida St., Clemson or Louisville from the Atlantic, but winning a Coastal division title would be pretty great for the freshman.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Louisville, Miami-OH, Middle Tennessee St., Mississippi St., Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Purdue, Quarterbacks, South Florida, Stanford, Terrific 20, Texas, Texas AM, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Washington St., Western Kentucky | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20 – TOP 20 RBs FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE 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

COLLEGE FOOTBALL HOT SEATS!

With so much talk about coaches potentially being fired, I thought it would be a good idea to go over the coaches that could be/are on the hot seat at this point. The college football season is entering Week 6 while the NFL is at the quarter mark for all teams but two (Philly & Green Bay). I’ll get to the NFL in a later post but for now let’s evaluate what is going on at the collegiate level at the Power 5 conferences and Notre Dame.

Les Miles/Ed Orgeron-LSU

Miles has already been fired and the seat didn’t cool simply because Orgeron took over as the interim head coach. LSU has a Nick Saban problem more than they do a coaching problem. That said, the Tigers are entirely TOO TALENTED to lose the games they’ve been losing. Sure Wisconsin & Auburn are better teams than people expected heading into the season, but LSU still should have been able to win those games. In fact, with the way LSU recruits, it’s hard to believe LSU would lose any games other than road dates to Alabama. That might have not been the historical norm, but Nick Saban showed LSU Nation would could be in Baton Rouge and now that is the standard. LSU could lose 3-4 more games this season but Phil Steele in his 2016 annual noted that LSU was the 3rd most talented team in college football. That shouldn’t equate to a 6-6/5-7 season. In 2015 Steele ranked them 10th and the Tigers finished 9-3. In 2014 Steele ranked them 14th and they finished 8-5. If anything, LSU should expect their head coach to get the most out of their talent. That hasn’t happened and I seriously doubt Orgeron winds up with the HC job after this season.

Gus Malzahn-Auburn

I think the notion of Malzahn being on the hot seat is absurd but he did take Auburn to the BCS Championship game in his first year in 2013 and finished 12-2. He’s declined every year since going 8-5 in 2014 and 7-6 in 2014. I like Auburn this year more than most but like LSU they have a Nick Saban problem and an SEC West problem. Auburn could wind up 8-4 and have an excellent year, just not a national championship year. The fanbase gets a little spoiled an impatient when you take the program to 2 national championship games in a 4-year span and Malzahn is dealing with that fallout. Gene Chizik won a national championship in 2010 and was fired two years later for crying out loud! The heat is on Malzahn to be sure but I think he could probably survive another 7-5 season although at that point 2017 would be make or break for him.

Mark Stoops-Kentucky

Stoops is feeling a little heat after a couple of 5-7 seasons but Kentucky isn’t playing awful. I thought they could be a surprise team in the SEC East this year but when they opened up the season with a loss to Southern Miss, I think it took a lot of air out of their expectations. The Wildcats did get a win over South Carolina and they have their next 2 games at home against Vanderbilt & Mississippi State. Win those games and UK is 4-3 with a game against Austin Peay on the schedule which would give them 5 wins & needing just one more to get to a bowl game. That game might have to come on the road against Missouri or at home against Georgia. If Stoops falls short again then Kentucky might make a change, but Stoops is close to the Rich Brooks formula that worked so well. Maybe another year & he’ll have it down although playing Louisville every season isn’t going to do them any favors considering that is practically an automatic loss as long as Bobby Petrino heads the Cardinals.

James Franklin-Penn State

It might be a bit premature for Franklin to be on the hot seat in just his 3rd year, but I think the problems are mounting. They lost a road game against in-state rival Pittsburgh. They were humiliated on the road against Michigan and they needed OT to get a home win over Minnesota. They needed OT to beat the Golden Gophers in Beaver Stadium! Let that sink in for a second. Penn St. might have more of a Jim Harbaugh/Urban Meyer/Mark Dantonio problem than they do a coaching problem, but if the Nittany Lions as a program want to be mentioned in the same breath as Ohio St. and Michigan, then they need to figure out FAST if Franklin is the guy because if he’s not they might be missing out on pretty big opportunities by being slow and measured. It’s an odd type of situation to be in but it’s closing in on a decade since Penn St. has been nationally relevant and that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon under Franklin.

Darrell Hazell-Purdue

I don’t see a conference win for the Boilermakers this year unless they can get a home win over Northwestern, but the Wildcats just took it to Iowa so that even seems like a stretch. Regardless of outcomes this year, Hazell right now is 8-32 in 40 games as Purdue HC. In Big 10 play he’s 2-23 to this point and coming off a 50-7 road loss to Maryland! Recruiting is taking a big beating for Purdue as well and Phil Steele noted they had the worst recruiting class of any program in the Big 10 in 2016, and it was by a decent margin. Danny Hope wasn’t very good in West Lafayette, but at this point he’s looking like Vince Lombardi compared to Hazell. The Boilermakers are a long way away from the Joe Tiller era and if Purdue turns in another 2-10 season, it’s hard to imagine they won’t make a change.

Mark Helfrich-Oregon

Oregon went 46-7 from 2009-2012 under Chip Kelly before Kelly left Eugene to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. Mark Helfrich came in and went 11-2 his first season and then led Oregon to a national championship game that ended up a 42-20 loss to Ohio State although Oregon finished the season 13-2. Last year the Ducks went 9-4 and this year they are 2-3 with going through a 3-game losing streak with losses to teams such as Washington St., Colorado and Nebraska. This isn’t your older brother’s Oregon Ducks team and Helfrich is feeling the heat. When you look at the remaining schedule, I think it’s certainly possible that the Ducks miss a bowl game! Helfrich gets judged a little harshly with the 9-4 season a year ago. That was a lot closer to 12-1. The loss to Michigan St. probably should have been a win. It took Wazzou 2OT to beat Oregon and the bowl loss to TCU was a 47-41 affair that went into triple OT! Oregon needs to figure the defense out fast. They’ll score points in spades but a big difference the last years under Helfrich is that the defense is giving up 35+PPG! Brady Hoke is the new DC here & he needs time. Hopefully that time doesn’t cost Helfrich his job.

Clay Helton-USC

I don’t know what to make of this situation. Last year everyone seemed very pleased that Helton got the job and there was a lot of chatter from the players that they were very happy Helton was getting the gig. Fast forward to this season & it looks like Helton has long control of the football team and he & players are coming to physical altercations! Who knows what to think at this point. I don’t think losing to Alabama to open the season or follow up losses to Stanford & Utah on the road are killer although you wouldn’t have seen that under Pete Carroll. With that said, there has to be some rebuilding aspect to this program & the Trojans came out and looked great in beating Arizona St. 41-20. A win this week over Colorado could have the Trojans back on track & it looked like a great move to insert QB Sam Darnold into the starting lineup. The schedule is absolutely NASTY so I could see it going either way but an 8-4 season with a bowl win gets USC to 9-4 and sets them up for a BIG 2017. Helton probably survives if they get to 9-4. If they fall apart and wind up 4-8 or 3-9 then he’s gone.

Charlie Strong-Texas

Strong is feeling heat after dropping 2 straight to California and Oklahoma State, but I still wonder if anything will happen in Austin. Beating Oklahoma would definitely cool his critics but even a loss to the Sooners doesn’t completely end the season. A loss does probably destroy their chances at a Big XII title, but their toughest games remaining would be against TCU & Baylor, two games that will be played in Austin. Lose to Oklahoma but win out and get a bowl win and the Longhorns are looking at a 10-3 season after being 13-14 in Strong’s first two seasons! Do you can the guy after a 10-3 season which is a 5 win improvement!? Seems doubtful. On the other hand, Texas’ defense is downright terrible and the Big XII does nothing but put up points. Let’s assume they can’t beat Baylor & TCU. That’s 2 losses right there, but they have road games against Kansas State & Texas Tech! Can they win a shootout game against the Red Raiders in Lubbock? I think at a minimum Strong has to win 8-9 games. Otherwise where is the program going?

Mike Gundy-Oklahoma St.

It’s ridiculous to list Gundy. The Cowboys are 3-2 at the moment. One loss came on the road against a ranked Baylor team that is still undefeated. It happens. The other loss was on a brutal call by an official that screwed Oklahoma St. out of a win over Central Michigan. You could certainly argue that OK-State should have never been in a close game with Central Michigan and I wouldn’t disagree, but the Cowboys should be 4-1. To be fair, Oklahoma St. should win out until their final 2 games when they play TCU & Oklahoma on the road. That means they’d be 8-2 going into the last 2 weeks of the season. A coach at 8-2 is on the hot seat? T. Boone Pickens might be getting a bit senile. If not for his inane comments about Gundy, I wouldn’t even have dreamed of putting Gundy on any hot seat list. OK State should be happy he hasn’t gone to greener pastures like Jimmy Johnson & Les Miles did.

Brian Kelly-Notre Dame

I’m not sure Kelly is on a hot seat per se but he’s in Year 7 of his tenure in South Bend and he’s losing home games to Duke and has a defense that is utterly atrocious despite recruiting at a high level since the day the man stepped on campus. With the home loss to Duke, the Irish open themselves up to potential losses each week for the rest of the season. Maybe they don’t have to worry too much about beating Army but they still have NC State, Stanford, Miami-FL, Navy, Virginia Tech & USC on the ledger! Since Kelly got lucky in 2012 & led the Irish to the national championship where they got HAMMERED 42-14 by Alabama, the Irish have gone a combined 27-12 over the last 3 seasons and this year they are going to be SUPER LUCKY to get to 8-4. If they were to lose the bowl and finish 7-5 then over the past 4 seasons Kelly would be 34-17. That’s 8.5 wins per season. That’s not going to cut it at Notre Dame.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Auburn, Coaching, Kentucky, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Purdue, Texas, USC | Leave a comment

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 6 – 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 How much longer can Tennessee flirt with disaster before it finally catches up to them? College Station isn’t going to be an easy place to play & Tennessee hasn’t seen anything like the combination of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall coming off the edges. The Aggies rank 16th in the nation in sacks. Tennessee ranks 65th in sacks allowed. That’s a problem. Another problem is that A&M’s offense is too good for UT to spot them a big lead & then try to come back & win on a miracle. Computer Hope
Computer Hope What makes Alabama so tough is that you really can’t run a ball-control offense on their defense. Their LBs are typically too good and with a guy like Rueben Foster laying wood, it’s almost impossible for an opposing RB to get loose. The Tide can also load the box up pretty well considering they put their corners on islands a lot of the time which is how you beat them. Austin Allen has been fantastic this year but I’m not sure he can shoulder the load & get a win over the Crimson Tide. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon’s defense has been porous to say the least and they have yet to see a team as fast on offense as the Huskies. Washington’s defense on the other hand just gave up 6 points to Stanford & held made Christian McCaffrey a non-factor. This seems like a blowout win for the Huskies, but Washington hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2003 and hasn’t won in Eugene since 2002. Washington is the new force in the North but it feels like they need to beat the man to be the man! Whoooooooo! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Charlie Strong got the dreaded vote of confidence for the rest of the season which means he’s pretty much a dead man walking. Beating Oklahoma could give the Texas administration pause, but I think ultimately unless the Longhorns win the Big XII, Strong will be looking for new employment. The funny thing for both of these teams is that they could still win the Big XII if they win out. This would seem easiest for Oklahoma and I think the Sooners are flying a bit under the radar. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It will really be interesting to see what type of energy the Tar Heels bring to the game considering the wild emotional win they had last week over Florida St. in Tallahassee. Virginia Tech hasn’t played anyone of note except Tennessee & they beat the Vols for a half. This could be the win they are looking for to get them back atop the ACC Coastal. The Tar Heels are a sleeper playoff team. They need this game & they need to beat Miami-FL but the ACC title game should be within their grasp. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Nobody is quite taking Colorado seriously just yet, but a road win over the Trojans is going to open up some eyes. The road win over Oregon would have done so if the Ducks weren’t completely in the tank, but road wins over USC & Oregon combined with how well they played Michigan should get a lot of eyes on the Buffaloes. The Buffs are 4-1 with a point differential of +113. The last time they were as good this early was 1995 when they started 5-0 at +145. Colorado finished 10-2 that year. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s great that the Hurricanes are 4-0 and it certainly brings back memories of their dominance in years past but to this point they haven’t played anyone. That’s about to change as a wounded & humiliated Seminoles team comes to town to try and get their season back on track. Miami has done a good job this year of running the football well & playing great defense. FSU’s defense has been putrid so as long as Dalvin Cook doesn’t get silly, Miami-FL should be able to win this one. Computer Hope
Computer Hope THE BATTLE OF THE PURDUE QUARTERBACKS!!! Danny Etling & Austin Appleby weren’t particularly good at Purdue so it’s amazing that both of these guys are squaring up against one another as starters for LSU & Florida respectively. The LSU story is so layered. From a talent perspective they could certainly win the SEC and let’s not forget that if LSU wins out they are SEC West champions. If Ed Orgeron leads LSU to an SEC West title, is there any way that LSU doesn’t give him the job? Computer Hope
Computer Hope This actually might be the most interesting game of the week. Houston’s defense has been playing extremely well especially Steven Taylor & Ed Oliver, but the Navy triple option attack is an unusual formation that can beat you up. Last year the Cougars took Navy down 52-31 so this might not seem like a game Houston could lose, but when you look at their schedule, this one makes sense to be a tough out. The one issue for Navy is that they have nothing on defense that can stop Greg Ward. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Great barometer game for the Tigers. Mississippi St. generally plays extremely well at home, but this year Auburn should come out with a convincing win. Sean White is gaining more and more confidence as the season goes a long and I think the offense will only benefit. When War Eagle is running well they are very tough to handle & I’d expect them to get rolling in Starkville. They might not beat Ole Miss & Alabama on the road this year but enough with the Gus Malzahn firing rumors! Computer Hope

October 3, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Colorado, Florida, Florida St., Houston, LSU, Miami-FL, Mississippi St., Must See Games, Navy, NCAA, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 6 | 2 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 4 – BIG GAMES

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

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

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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 3 – BIG GAMES

I’m trying my best to stick to 10 games a week during the college season but I’m already breaking that rule for Week 3. I extended the important games out to 12 because I felt the storylines for the 12 games were enough to merit inclusion. Maybe a better rule will be a minimum of 10 games?

AWAY QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Wow! This is definitely the game of the week. Louisville gets its first real test in the Seminoles, but with the way the Cardinals have played thus far, don’t think they aren’t believing they can compete for national championships. It’s amazing that Bobby Petrino is year 3 and if L’ville wins this game, they probably jump to top-3 in the polls. The football landscape definitely gets shaken with a Cardinal win & it can happen. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Clearly losing to Ole Miss doesn’t hamper Alabama’s championship aspirations. Last year Ole Miss beat Alabama 43-37 in Tuscaloosa & the Tide still won a national championship. In 2014, Ole Miss beat them 23-17 & the Tide still got to the playoffs. With that being said, I’m sure Nick Saban is not too happy with those losses and given how disappointed he was after beating WKU, he’s looking to take out frustrations. Computer Hope
Computer Hope There is a lot riding on this game for Oklahoma. If the Sooners lose to Ohio St., then they’ll fall to 1-2. They can argue they’ve lost to two of the top-3 teams in the country, but a 2-loss team isn’t getting into the playoffs. Their season will effectively be over outside of playing for a Big XII title. For the Buckeyes this is a statement game. They’ve played well to this point but a win here shows how effective Ohio St. can reload the roster. Computer Hope
Computer Hope These two teams haven’t played since 2013 & currently the Irish are on a 3-game winning streak. This will be a good barometer game for both squads. A Michigan St. win certainly gives Spartan Nation some hope at a 13-0 season considering they get both Michigan & Ohio St. at home. For the Irish, a playoff spot is still up for grabs as it would be hard to pass up an 11-1 Notre Dame as one of the final four playoff teams. Computer Hope
Computer Hope There is a lot going on here for both teams. I love how Auburn turned to Sean White as QB & ran the ball EXTREMELY well last week. Their defense is going to shine so if the offense works out then they are formidable. For Texas A&M, a win over Auburn puts them at 3-0 with wins over UCLA & on the road against Auburn. It’s entirely possible that when Texas A&M heads to Tuscaloosa, they could be playing for the SEC west. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Big opportunity here for USC to get back into the national picture with a win over a highly ranked Stanford squad. The Trojans might have been left for dead after the Alabama debacle in Dallas, but I still think USC is a supremely talented team that can play with the Cardinal. Stanford needs a solid win to keep up appearances. The opening week win over Kansas St. wasn’t inspiring and they were on their bye last week. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s fun to see Nebraska being relevant in a national game. The Huskers are an experienced team that has had little trouble hammering Fresno St. & Wyoming early on. Oregon will be a completely different animal for them, but a win puts Nebraska in the top-25. As for Oregon, QB Dakota Prukop looks incredibly good so a win over Nebraska in Lincoln gets us talking about the Ducks once again among the nation’s elite programs. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Greg Ward was cleared to play in this game and that’s great news for Houston fans as I think the Bearcats pose a tricky proposition for the Cougars. QB Hayden Moore has done a great job as Cincy QB & can get the Bearcats moving. The one issue I see here for Cincy is that last week Purdue put up 401 passing yards against their defense. Even with a hurt shoulder, the Houston receivers are so good, Greg Ward will find a way. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is going to be one helluva test for Michigan. A lot of people are overlooking Colorado but Mike MacIntyre has done a great job rebuilding this program. They are THIS close to coming through. Last year UC was 4-8 but 2-5 in close games but 7-5-1 against the spread. They have 18 returning starters back & are 2-0 with a point differential of +84. It’s Michigan in Ann Arbor so I don’t expect them to win, but they’ll play tough. Computer Hope
Computer Hope North Dakota St. has won 5 straight FCS championships and have won their last 5 games against FBS opponents! The Bison are actually on an incredible run these past 5 years posting a record of 71-5! Iowa is unlike any FBS team they’ve seen during that time period and I wouldn’t expect the Hawkeyes to let down, but I also don’t think North Dakota St. is going to get run over. This game might be tighter than we anticipate. Computer Hope
Computer Hope There is quite a bit on the line for Miami-FL in this game. As you could see in Week 1 when Appalachian St. nearly knocked off Tennessee in Knoxville, the Mountaineers are going to come to play & they are going to hit hard. On the other hand, if the Hurricanes can get a blow out win in Kidd Brewer Stadium, what does that say about Miami-FL as they relate to Tennessee? If App State wins, they don’t lose again and go 11-1. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Lots of talk in the ACC about Louisville, Florida St., Clemson and Miami-FL but not so much about Pitt. The Panthers are coming off a solid rivalry win over Penn State. They are an experienced team & Pat Narduzzi is a solid coach. They haven’t gotten much national attention but a win in Stillwater can change that. The Cowboys should be very charged up after the disaster last week that saw them fall to C. Michigan on a bad call. Computer Hope

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Appalachian St., Auburn, Big Games, Cincinnati, Colorado, Florida St., Houston, Iowa, Louisville, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, North Dakota St, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Texas AM, USC, Week 3 | Leave a comment

NCAA FOOTBALL POWER 25 – 2016 WEEK 2

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 Computer Hope Alabama cruised to a 38-10 home opening win over Western Kentucky, but what stood out to me in this game is the attitude of Nick Saban. The Tide were CRUSHING Western & at the end of the game Saban is still screaming at Lane Kiffin. In the presser after the game Saban said he couldn’t have been more disappointed after a win. This is a guy with 5 national titles & 4 in the last 7 years. I don’t think there is a coach in college football or in sports period that wants to win as much as Saban does. Alabama could go out tomorrow and beat Florida St. 74-0 and Saban would say they had work to do! The guy is amazing.
#2 Computer Hope The Greg Ward injury is a bit disconcerting given how early it is in the season & shoulder injuries are never pleasant, but at this point Houston has to be this high. The win over Oklahoma looks amazing especially so considering that the game wasn’t as close as the final. Despite the Ward injury & a lot of weather delays, Houston still came out and hammered Lamar 42-0 with 3 players going over the century mark in rushing yards. That was quite a different blue print for winning than what the Cougars showed Oklahoma, but it shows me that Houston has quite a few tricks up their sleeves when they need it.
#3 Computer Hope Florida St. got off to a much better start against Charleston Southern than they did Ole Miss last week, leading the Bucs 28-0 after the 1st quarter and 35-6 at the half. FSU DE Demarcus Walker was held relatively in check yesterday after having an incredible game against Ole Miss the week prior. Walker had 4.5 sacks in Week 1 but not much in Week 2. He still leads the NCAA in sacks right now & FSU has 9 sacks as a team. Over 14 games, Florida St. is on pace to record 126 sacks! There is a lot of talk about Dalvin Cook & Deondre Francois, but if FSU finishes the 126 sacks this year, that’s the story to talk about.
#4 Computer Hope UTEP isn’t Notre Dame but you can’t help but be impressed by Texas true freshman QB Shane Buechele. I think he has the best arm in college football right now & he improved upon his tremendous game against the Irish by going 22/27 for 244 yards & 4TD against the Miners in a 41-7 blowout. Former QB Jerrod Heard got in on the action with 2TD, his first 2 as a WR in his career in Austin. Dont’a Foreman didn’t even play & WR John Burt wasn’t targeted all that much. The Notre Dame win will look better & better. Outside of Alabama, I’m not sure there is a defense right now that can stop the Longhorn offense.
#5 Computer Hope There was no let down for Wisconsin after their big upset of LSU. The Badgers took Akron to the woodshed in a 54-10 stomping of the Zips in Camp-Randall. QB Bart Houston came back off a bad game against the Tigers to shred the Zips defense. Wisconsin also ran the ball exceedingly well which is what you’d expect from this team year after year. Corey Clement is staying healthy & the defense is salty. The Badgers get another home tune-up against Georgia St. before taking on a 5-game stretch that is nothing short of brutal. The LSU win keeps them this high but they will definitely earn it in the coming weeks.
#6 Computer Hope The wins are coming although they aren’t pretty. Clemson & Arkansas are playing a little bit alike in that the are winning ugly. People forget that Clemson had some off games last year too but those games were against Louisville, Notre Dame, Florida State & South Carolina. I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to have problems with Troy even if they had to trot out their 2nd string teams. The close win against Auburn in Auburn looks good & I think it’ll continue to look good as Auburn starts playing to their talent level, but the Troy game is worrisome. Clemson can’t afford to have a game like that against FSU.
#7 Computer Hope There was a weather delay, it rained all game, and Ohio St. needed a quarter to warm up, but after battling Tulsa to a 3-3 standoff in the 1st quarter, the Buckeyes outscored the Golden Hurricane 45-0 the rest of the way en route to a 48-3 win. I know it’s only Bowling Green & Tulsa and both games were in Columbus, but Ohio St. has outscored their opponents 125-13 to start the season! Everyone talks of JT Barrett being a Heisman candidate but don’t sleep on Curtis Samuel! The guy is on pace for 2800+ all purpose yards and 21TD. Ohio St. has one a tremendous job replacing Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
#8 Computer Hope DOMINANT. So far this season Michigan is beating their opponents by an average score of 57-9! Michigan went a lot more pass heavy against UCF this week and QB Wilton Speight responded going 25/37 for 312 yards & 4TD to 0INT! Hats off to Jim Harbaugh for making Speight the starter over John O’Korn. O’Korn came in with a lot more experience but I think strategically this set up well for the Wolverines because O’Korn is a senior while Speight is a junior. If Speight plays well then Michigan has a returning starter next season which is a huge bonus. That’s long term strategical thinking.
#9 Computer Hope If Lamar Jackson keeps up this pace for 13 games he’ll finish the season with 4531 passing yards with 45TD to 7INT. He’ll also rush for 2,067 yards & 39TD. That would be 84TD responsible for. The record is 63! The most Tim Tebow ever had in a season was 53 his sophomore year when he won the Heisman. I know the Cardinals have only beaten up on Charlotte & Clemson, but they are averaging 66PPG so far & I don’t see the offense slowing down. Jackson is a monster & I can’t wait for this weekend when the Cardinals host Florida State. Win that game and Louisville can start talking national championship.
#10 Computer Hope Maybe it took Tennessee 5 quarters of football to finally warm up? After going down to Virginia Tech 14-0 at the “Battle of Bristol”, the Vols turned it on & outscored the Hokies 45-10 en route to a convincing 45-24 win at the largest attended college football game in history! A crowd of 156,990 saw Josh Dobbs & Jalen Hurd turn it on after the first quarter while the Tennessee defense clamped down on VT QB Jerod Evans. I came away thinking Virginia Tech was a lot better than people think after watching the game. The win is a good one but I think it’ll be on that keeps getting better & better for Tennessee.
#11 Computer Hope Sure it was Prairie View but a 67-0 win is a 67-0 win. When you look at Texas A&M, it’s almost ridiculous how much talent the team has. That’s one of the reasons why the last couple of seasons have been so disappointing in College Station. There was some heat on Kevin Sumlin’s seat coming into the season & that heat has definitely lessened with a solid OT home win over a ranked UCLA team, but a 67-0 blowout at home also adds quite a bit of confidence to a team that could be very dangerous if it plays up to its talent level. Next up is a road trip to Auburn. Win that one & we can start to get really excited.
#12 Computer Hope Rutgers & Idaho aren’t great football teams, but Washington is getting a little lost in all the hype that has surrounded college football over the first two weeks. All they’ve done is be completely dominant in outscoring their opponents 107-27. The Huskies have outscored their opponents 69-3 in the first half showing they come to play early! QB Jake Browning is dicing up defenses. Against Idaho this past week he went 23/28 for 294yds & 5TD! Browning is on pace to pass for 52TD! Expect more of the same as Washington welcomes in Portland St. next week before Arizona.
#13 Computer Hope It took the Irish a quarter to warm up but it poured it on Nevada from the 2nd quarter on going up on the Wolfpack 32-0 late in the 3rd before Notre Dame started subbing heavily. Brian Kelly decided the Deshone Kizer is the man going forward & Kizer responded going 15/18 for 156 yards & 2TD while also rushing for 35 yards & a TD. The Irish ran the ball extremely well going for 259yds/3TD. Tarean Folston is the lead back but Josh Adams & Dexter Williams are outstanding. Equanimeous St. Brown is turning into a legit #1 WR & the defense tackled much better than against Texas. Big improvement.
#14 Computer Hope Forget the Houston loss. Oklahoma went back to Norman & throttled UL-Monroe 59-17. Baker Mayfield got his swag back and Joe Mixon looks like a 1st round NFL draft pick. Defensively the Sooners could tighten things up a bit. They actually gave up more yards per play to ULM than they did to Houston. If Houston keeps winning then the loss will keep looking better and better. If the Sooners can take care of business at home this week against Ohio State then all returns to normal and Oklahoma will be a top-5/top-1o team again with an early season loss to a top-ranked team. Lose to Ohio St. though?
#15 Computer Hope Ole Miss was very efficient in beating Wofford 38-13 in Oxford. Chad Kelly was pulled early after throwing for 219yds/3TD and the Rebels rushed for 174yds as a team. Mississippi is THIS close to being the #2 team in the nation after dominating Florida State in the 1st half of last week’s game which is arguably the best half of football played this year by any team. They couldn’t sustain that over a full game which resulted in a loss to the Seminoles, but the Rebels proved they can play with anyone. Like Oklahoma, if Ole Miss wins this week they’ll shoot up the poles. They’ve beaten Alabama the past 2 years.
#16 Computer Hope Auburn displayed what Auburn football can look like under Gus Malzahn this past weekend when the Tigers put the hammer down on Arkansas St. 51-14! Malzahn quit screwing around with the QB situation & went with Sean White which was a great move as White went 17/23 for 244yds/3TD! It doesn’t get much better than that. Auburn ran for 462 yards/3TD as Kamryn Pettway & Kerryon Johnson each went over the 100 yard mark. Auburn’s defense can be exceptionally good & if the running game keeps this up, they’ll be extremely difficult to handle. The Clemson loss isn’t a bad one.
#17 Computer Hope Josh Rosen didn’t look so hot against UNLV in a 42-21 win. The Bruins had a great 2nd quarter which put them far ahead of UNLV but the Rebels got close at 28-21 late in the 3rd quarter before UCLA pulled away. I could be overrated the Bruins at this point, but they still are probably the class of the Pac 12 South and the loss over Texas A&M is going to keep looking better. The next two weeks are important for UCLA. They have a couple of games against BYU & Stanford while Texas A&M plays Auburn & Arkansas. If the Bruins & Aggies escape with wins in both weeks, then UCLA’s ranking will be justified.
#18 Computer Hope They haven’t been pretty wins, but they’ve been wins. Arkansas took TCU to double OT and beat the Horned Frogs 41-38. The Hogs are 2-0 & have beaten TCU & Louisiana Tech by a combined score of 62-58! You could argue Arkansas should be 0-2 but this is different than the last couple of season. Last year Arkansas had early close losses to Toledo & Texas A&M. The year before they got bit by Auburn, Texas A&M and Alabama. This year Arkansas won some early season close games which is important. Austin Allen is playing solid football & this is a pretty darn good football team with a lot of home games. Watch out.
#19 Computer Hope Leonard Fournette didn’t play. Brandon Harris was benched after two possessions. LSU came away with a 34-13 win over Jacksonville St., but this team is a critical loss away from implosion & Les Miles has to feel like one foot is already out the door. I like the Tigers moving forward at QB with Danny Etling, but Etling’s 2nd half was abysmal underscoring just how big the problems are in Baton Rouge with the QB position. RB Derrius Grice was more than ready to pick up for Fournette, rushing for 155yds/1TD on 19 carries. The defense is outstanding so maybe there is still a slight chance of playoffs hope.
#20 Computer Hope Georgia had problems with Nicholls which I thought was surprising but it was surprising in that Nick Chubb was only able to muster 80 yards on 20 carries after having gone for 222 yards on 32 carries against a North Carolina squad you’d assume would have a little more ability to stop the Georgia rusher. This underscores how good Jacob Eason has to be. Teams are going to key on Chubb and there are going to be games where he can’t get it going. At these times, Eason is going to have to keep teams honest by beating them with his arm. If Chubb is on, this team is hard to beat, but if he’s stopped, UGA is vulnerable.
#21 Computer Hope Stanford falls quite a bit due to inactivity. A lot of teams are showing fairly well while Stanford beat Kansas St. by 13 and then had a bye week. They’ll need it as the Cardinal’s next 5 games come against USC, at UCLA, at Washington, Washington St., and finally at Notre Dame. That’s a nasty 5-game stretch & it’ll be interesting to see how Stanford comes out. If they end that stretch with a 6-0 record, I think we can easily start talking about a possible Stanford/Alabama national championship game and Christian McCaffrey will have gone a long way towards cementing his place among Heisman front runners.
#22 Computer Hope Iowa St. didn’t put up much of a fight against their in-state rival as the Hawkeyes blasted the poor Cyclones 42-3! The 39-pt win for Iowa was the most lopsided game since Iowa beat ISU 63-20 back in 1997! It was the biggest margin of victory in the Kirk Ferentz era. This could be the best offensive team Ferentz has had at Iowa. CJ Beathard, Leshun Daniels, Akrum Wadley & Matt VandeBerg all had fantastic games and at times looked virtually unstoppable. Iowa could have scored 60-70 points if they wanted to. North Dakota St. presents an interesting challenge to Iowa next week and I think we’ll learn a lot.
#23 Computer Hope Granted they’ve both been home games and the opponents (Florida A&M and FAU) have hardly been awe inspiring, but the Hurricanes have taken care of business outscoring their opponents 108-13! The last time Miami-FL started the year 2-0 with a point differential of around +95 was back in 2001 when THE U opened up with wins over Penn St. & Rutgers by the combined score of 94-7 (+87). All the Canes did in 2001 was go 12-0 & win a national championship. Miami is doing an exceptional job running the football, but the defensive front is getting massive pressure! They are on pace for 130 sacks!
#24 Computer Hope Like Stanford, Michigan St. is coming off a bye. Their first week they put in a ho-hum effort against Furman and walked away with a 28-13 victory. That’s Michigan St. kind of football, but it doesn’t light up scoreboards & it certainly doesn’t convey style points to the Spartans. Also, like Stanford, the Spartans don’t have to wait around any longer to prove their credentials. This week they travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame before going back home to host Wisconsin. Come out of those games with a 3-0 record and I’m sure the Spartans will be right back in the top-10 along with rivals Michigan & Ohio St.
#25 Computer Hope The Alabama loss looks bad but USC did what they were supposed to do by regrouping and destroying a pretty good Utah St. 45-7. The defense looked a lot better this time around I continue to be impressed with Max Browne at QB. The game is certainly not too big for him and he had a good day completing 70+% of his passes with a couple of TDs. I think he’ll continue to get better as the season goes along. Like LSU, the Trojans are entirely too talented not to remain competitive & I think USC might be the best team in the Pac 12 South. Losing in week 1 to a team likely to go 14-0 should hardly be a concern.

DROPPING OUT

#20 BAYLOR: Baylor didn’t do anything to drop out and my guess is that they’ll be in the top-25 soon enough. They put up a solid 40-13 win over an SMU team that had a lot to play for in this game. The Bears should go fairly untested to get to 6-0 before traveling to Austin to take on the Longhorns on October 29th.

#24 FLORIDA: The Gators blasted Kentucky 45-7. Again, Florida didn’t do necessarily anything to drop out of the top-25. In fact, I think Florida will keep getting better and better. The defense is solid and so far Luke Del Rio has been great at QB. It’ll be interesting to see what Florida does in Knoxville, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they won. Jim McElwain is the real deal and I think Florida is the team to watch in the SEC East.

#25 OREGON: On the one hand you score 44 points on Virginia. On the other hand, it’s Virginia and you only beat the Cavaliers by 18 points. QB Dakota Prukop has been phenomenal in his first two games. Oregon needs to tighten up the defense a bit though if they are going to  go toe-to-toe with Washington and Stanford. We’ll learn a bit from them this week when they had to Lincoln to take on Nebraska.

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Miami-FL, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, NCAA, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Power 25, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Washington, Week 2, Wisconsin | Leave a comment