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RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #50 to #65

Let’s get back into action with some college football talk. This marks the beginning of my ranking the 65 Power college football coaches in the nation. I looked all the head coaches from the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Notre Dame. I took the last 5 years and looked at their records, conference records, history, recruiting efforts, bowl records and the overall trends of their team over these past 5 seasons. I’ll go in reverse order starting at the bottom and working my way up by 10 spots. This beginning post will start with the bottom 15. Here we go!

#65 – Chris Ash – Rutgers

Ash didn’t exactly walk into the best situation given the Kyle Flood controversy but in his first year in New Brunswick, the former Ohio St. DC finished 2-10 with a conference record of 0-9. His 2016 recruiting class also ranked #78 according to Rivals meaning talent isn’t pouring into New Jersey either. Most of Rutgers games weren’t even that competitive. In their games against Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St. and Penn St., the Scarlet Knights were outscored 224-0! The Big 10 East isn’t the easiest division to play in, but good grief Rutgers can’t get HAMMERED like that. Ash probably has a little more rope but another 2-10 (0-9) season might spell disaster.

#64 – David Beaty – Kansas

Beatty has gone 2-22 in his first two seasons in Lawrence with a Big 12 record of 1-17. There has been improvement. Beatty went 0-12 his first season at the helm and improved by 2 games last season to 2-10. He also improved his conference record from 0-9 to 1-8. The powers that be at KU thought enough of that improvement to give Beaty a contract extension through 2021! Beaty did lead Kansas to their first win over Texas since 1938 and they came pretty close to beating Iowa St. and TCU! Recruiting it up a bit and Beaty has a chance to improve this ranking quite a bit. Sure Kansas only won 2 games, but in 2015, their average margin of defeat was 30.8 PPG. In 2016 it was 17.0!

#63 – Barry Odom – Missouri

Almost impossible to replace a HC like Gary Pinkel who had tremendous success at Missouri, but if there is anyone that knows Pinkel it’s Odom. Another positive about Odom is that there can’t possibly be a more dyed in the wool Mizzou Tiger than Odom himself. There will never be a lack of passion for Missouri football coming from the head coach! Odom’s first year as HC wasn’t a great one as the Tigers went 4-8 (2-6). That was the worst record the Tigers have had since 2000 when Missouri went 3-8 the year before Gary Pinkel was hired. Pinkel’s worst record in 15 years was 4-7. Odom has his work cut out for him and he needs to recruit better, but Pinkel did more with less so maybe he can too.

#62 – Bronco Mendenhall – Virginia

Mendenhall is a tough one to evaluate. His first year in Charlottesville was a disaster as the Cavaliers went 2-10 with a 1-7 conference record. I don’t think much was expected of Virginia in Mendenhall’s first season, but Virginia should have been at least comparable to their 2015 version which went 4-8. Instead, they regressed. Sometimes seasons can go sideways and that seems to be the case with Virginia. They shouldn’t have lost to FCS Richmond to open the season. They let road games at UConn and Wake Forest get away from them as well. Those 3 games turning to wins would have at least allowed UVA to get to 5-7. There is a lot of room to move up this season for Mendenhall.

#61 – Lovie Smith – Illinois

Before last season, the last time Lovie Smith coached in the college ranks was 1995 when he was DB coach for Ohio State. He was the head coach for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 11 years leading the Bears to a Super Bowl in 2006, so it was quite an odd move that Smith would leave the NFL for collegiate football and all the headaches involved with recruiting 16 and 17 year old boys. Smith got a rude awakening his first season. The Illini finished 3-9 (2-7) with one of their wins coming against Murray State. The games weren’t even that competitive and Smith didn’t exactly tear it up on the recruiting trail. With Jeff Brohm and PJ Fleck joining the Big 10 West, it’s not getting any easier.

#60 – Dino Babers – Syracuse

Babers was an assistant coach for almost 30 years before he finally got his shot at Eastern Illinois and made the most of it. He went 19-7 with EIU winning back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference championships. He parlayed that job into the head coaching gig at Bowling Green and did well there too. Babers posted an 18-9 record with the Falcons, winning the MAC East in both years and the MAC championship in 2015. He traded that job for a Power-5 conference job with Syracuse. Unfortunately for Babers, he didn’t do as well at Syracuse as he did with EIU and BG. A 4-8 (2-6) record wasn’t fantastic and Babers didn’t kill it on the recruiting trail either. He still has plenty of time left.

#59 – Justin Wilcox – California

Wilcox has never been a head coach but for the last 11 years he’s been the defensive coordinator for Boise St., Tennessee, Washington, USC & Wisconsin. In those seasons here is how his defenses ranked in scoring defense:

2006: #20 (Boise St.)
2007: #26 (Boise St.)
2008: #3 (Boise St.)
2009: #13 (Boise St.)
2010: #56 (Tennessee)
2011: #36 (Tennessee)
2012: #39 (Washington)
2013: #29 (Washington)
2014: #46 (USC)
2015: #50 (USC)
2016: #4 (Wisconsin)

Clearly Wilcox has a track record of success which is good for Cal because the Bears haven’t had anything resembling a decent defense these past 5 seasons. Losing QB Davis Webb will be tough, but Wilcox will do a good job if he can keep Cal from giving up 40PPG.

#58 – Tom Allen – Indiana

Allen did a stellar job as a defensive coach at Ole Miss and South Florida before coming onto Kevin Wilson’s staff last season as the defensive coordinator. Allen didn’t disappoint, improving the Hoosiers’ scoring defense by 10PPG! That’s good news for Indiana as their problem has always been on the defensive side of the football. Allen has never been a head coach and his ascension to the throne was somewhat odd in light of the dismissal of former HC Kevin Wilson, but I think Indiana is in a much better place with Allen leading the charge than with Wilson, even if Wilson guided the Hoosiers to back-to-back bowl appearances. It doesn’t get any worse than the Big 10 East, but Allen has started recruiting well which is a good beginning.

#57 – D.J. Durkin – Maryland

Durkin’s first year in Maryland doesn’t look horrible when you consider the Terps were 6-6 during the regular season and getting bowl eligible before losing the bowl game to finish 6-7. A deeper look is a little more rough as Maryland started the season 4-0 against garbage competition and then finished 2-6 in their final 8 with wins over Rutgers & Michigan State, two team who combined for a 1-17 conference record. That’s hardly awe inspiring. Maryland also lost to Ohio St., Michigan and Nebraska by a combined score of 149-13. That’s not Rutgers territory, but it’s not great either. Durkin is recruiting well in College Park and he’s in a fertile recruiting ground which makes it easier. Still a lot of room to make up on Ohio St., Michigan & Penn State.

#56 – Ed Orgeron – LSU

I get the pull of Orgeron being a Louisiana native and who in their right mind isn’t in love with the guy, but I wonder if LSU made the right call in bringing their native son back home to head up the Bayou Bengals? For Orgeron, this is a shot at redemption. There is no question that Orgeron can recruit with the best of them and he’s in a prime spot to bring in a top-5 class annually. There is also no question that Orgeron is a helluva defensive coach as well and the Tigers will most certainly have his fingerprints all over their defensive identity. The question will be whether or not Orgeron can pull it all together. He’ll need a strong staff around him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Orgeron will get it done.

#55 – Matt Campbell – Iowa State

It wasn’t a banner year in Matt Campbell’s first year in Ames has head coach of the Cyclones, but the 3-9 record hid some exciting trends. The Cyclones let a close to Northern Iowa get away from them but they also played Oklahoma, Kansas St., Oklahoma St., and Baylor very close. ISU picked up conference wins over Kansas & Texas Tech, even beating the Red Raiders 66-10 which was Iowa St., most lopsided win since the Cyclones beat Colorado St. 69-0 back in 1980! Campbell is young and energetic. He had tremendous success at Toledo and he has recruiting trending the right direction. There is no reason to believe that Iowa St. can’t be a bowl eligible team on a yearly basis under his watch.

#54 – Matt Rhule – Baylor

Hard to argue with Rhule’s bonafides. His first year at Temple was 2-10. His 3rd year the Owls were 10-4 and AAC East champions. His 4th year they were 10-3 and AAC Champions! The only thing that was tough to argue about Rhule was his taking the Baylor job to begin with. Rhule is a Penn St. graduate and all of his experience is just not east, but east of Ohio! Now he’s smack in the middle of Texas against some HEAVY HITTERS in Texas, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. That’s not easy, and I’m not even mentioning the inroads that places like Notre Dame, Alabama and LSU have made the Lone Star State. Rhule will definitely have the Bears playing outstanding defense early.

#53 – Will Muschamp – South Carolina

I’m probably being a little hard on Muschamp here seeing how in his first season he took the Gamecocks to bowl eligibility when nobody except the most dedicated Gamecocks fans though SC would do anything but finish in the basement of the SEC East. My only caveat is that South Carolina and Muschamp worked the schedule which allowed SC to finish 6-6 and get to a bowl. Their non-conference wins included those against East Carolina, UMass and Western Carolina. Missouri was in the tank last year and Vanderbilt wasn’t great so there is 5 wins there. An upset win, which they got over Tennessee, was all SC needed. Muschamp will recruit well enough. Let’s see how his 2nd stint through the SEC East goes.

#52 – Jeff Brohm – Purdue

Brohm wasted little time building off of what Willie Taggart and Bobby Petrino did before him at Western Kentucky. Brohm finished his time in Bowling Green with a 30-10 record with a 19-5 mark in Conference USA play. In his last two seasons at WKU, Brohm led the Hilltoppers to a 22-5 mark including 2 bowl wins and a CUSA record of 15-1 which led to back-to-back conference championships. Brohm had Western Kentucky’s offense flying and the Hilltoppers actually led all of FBS in scoring offense in 2016. Brohm inherits a mess at Purdue, but he’ll get the offense rolling and if the defense follows suit, the Boilermakers could definitely start making noise in the Big 10 West.

#51 – Steve Addazio – Boston College

Addazio’s a tough one to figure out. I think what you have to wonder is what kind of ceiling does a program like Boston College really have? Addazio has went 7-6 in 3 of his 4 years on Chestnut Hill and is 1-2 in bowl games. That’s isn’t terrible when you consider that BC plays in the same division as Clemson, Florida St., and Louisville. In reality, BC is probably looking at a ceiling like 8-4/9-3 and Addazio is pretty close to having the Eagles at this mark with some aspect of sustainability. I think he could recruit better to be sure. Boston College should be able to get better players than what they have. Matt Ryan & Doug Flutie showed how good BC can be when they get elite level talent on the roster.

#50 – Rich Rodriguez – Arizona

Rodriguez is better than this but his teams certainly aren’t playing like it. Rodriguez had somewhat of a breakthrough in 2014 when the Wildcats went 10-4 and won the Pac 12 North, but it was colored a bit by a 51-13 loss to Oregon in the Pac 12 Championship game followed up by a 38-30 loss to Boise St. in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2015 the Wildcats dropped to 7-6 and last year Arizona completely collapsed finishing 3-9 with a 1-8 mark in conference play! Arizona’s conference record over the past two seasons is 4-14 and Rodriguez’s recruiting classes have been trending downward. USC seems to be stabilizing under Clay Helton. Colorado is emerging. That doesn’t play well for RichRod in the Pac 12 South.

May 14, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arizona, Baylor, Big 10, Big XII, Boston College, California, Coaching, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa St., Kansas, LSU, Maryland, Missouri, Pac 12, Purdue, Rankings, Rutgers, SEC, South Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia | 4 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 13 – BIG GAMES

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

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

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 PRESEASON ALL-BIG 10 TEAMS

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

2ND TEAM OFFENSE

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

3RD TEAM OFFENSE

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

4TH TEAM OFFENSE

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

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

2ND TEAM DEFENSE

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

3RD TEAM DEFENSE

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

4TH TEAM DEFENSE

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

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

2015 NCAA WEEK 13 – BIG GAMES

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

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

2015 NCAA WEEK 12 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope More separation in store for the Big XII. I think this is the biggest game of the week because I’m still not sold on Oklahoma State. They struggled last week against Iowa St., and maybe TCU isn’t as good as we think. The Cowboys non-conference schedule was terrible so this game will go a long way to proving some legitimacy for them. The Big XII’s best hope for a playoff spot is Oklahoma or Oklahoma St., so the conference is certainly hoping for a Cowboys victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope TCU barely got by Kansas last week 23-17 & Trevone Boykin is beat up. WR Josh Doctson is hurting as well so the Frogs are at a severe disadvantage. Making matters worse is that Oklahoma might be the hottest team in football & is playing better than anyone in the nation not named Alabama. I’m on board with the Sooners & I think nothing could potentially be better than an Alabama/Oklahoma national championship. I think the Sooners roll! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m really excited to see how Michigan St.’s defense attacks Ohio St. & JT Barrett. I love Spartan LB Riley Bullough. LBs Darien Harris & Jon Reschke are going to be responsible for shutting down Ezekiel Elliott & keeping Barrett contained. Michigan St. will pressure with Malik McDowell & Shilique Calhoun off the edges. Elliott & Barrett wore the Spartans out last year in Ohio St.’s 49-37 win in East Lansing. I hope Michigan St. puts up a better fight in 2015. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Penn St. suffers from what Mississippi St. suffers. They look like a solid football team at 7-3. Penn St.’s losses have come on the road against Temple, Ohio St. & Northwestern. It’s all acceptable, but then you look at the wins. Their best win might be San Diego St. or Indiana. Michigan can’t overlook Penn St. though. The Lions can get after it on defense, they are playing at home & Michigan has struggled quite a bit lately against Minnesota & Indiana. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game doesn’t have the national appeal as the above games do, but it’s a tremendous game & I can’t wait to see it. USC has won 4 straight & has a chance to win the Pac 12 South if they win out. They’ve been playing MUCH better now that the coaching drama is behind them. Oregon has won 4 straight games & is looking like the best team in the Pac 12 with a healthy Vernon Adams. If the Ducks win out & Stanford loses to Cal, Oregon wins the Pac 12 North. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is a tough one. Both teams enter the game at 8-2 with their 2 losses being against highly ranked teams. Both lost to Iowa. Northwestern also lost to Michigan while Wisconsin also lost to Alabama. Corey Clement is questionable, but if he plays then I think this game is almost impossible for Northwestern to win. If he doesn’t then the Wildcats could win another ugly game. This game ultimately determines who is the 2nd best team in the Big 10 West. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A win over Mississippi St. this week would give Arkansas their 5th straight win & their 6th win in their last 7 games. Those wins include contests at Tennessee, v. Auburn, at Ole Miss, at LSU and then v. Mississippi State! The one loss? In Tuscaloosa against the Tide! Like last year, Arkansas has needed time to warm up, but if they could start the season on fire, we might be talking playoffs. At this minute Arkansas could be the 3rd best team in the nation! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both teams need this win badly. LSU is coming off 2 straight losses. There is quiet talk the Tigers have been overrated all season long & too much credence given to their 7-point win over Florida. Ole Miss needs the win to keep the possibility of finishing the year with 10 wins. Les Miles might have the most to lose here. Lose this game & it’s a real possibility LSU finishes 8-4 after starting 8-0! I get the bizarre feeling that Miles’ seat could get extremely hot. Computer Hope
Computer Hope On the surface I don’t think North Carolina should be all that worried about Virginia Tech. The Hokies are having a down year and at 5-5, they don’t look so hot. On the other hand, this the final home game for outgoing HC Frank Beamer who has made Virginia Tech football what it is. It’s also an opportunity for the Hokies to get bowl eligible in Beamer’s last season. There will be TREMENDOUS emotion in Lane Stadium & Blacksburg is never an easy place to win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Stanford has won The Big Game for the past 5 seasons. I don’t expect that to change this season, but you never know. The Bears aren’t awful & this is a must win for Stanford if it wants to win the Pac 12 North. Remember a Stanford loss combined with an Oregon win gives the Ducks the keys to the North. The loss to Oregon last week was lethal for the Cardinal, but keep in mind that this team still has the opportunity to finish with a 12-2 record if it wins out. Computer Hope
Computer Hope After starting the season 6-0 with great wins over Michigan & Oregon, the Utes have come back down to earth going 2-2 in their last 4. Amazingly enough, they need help to win the Pac 12 North as they do not own the tiebreaker with USC. The good news is that USC plays Oregon in Eugene this week so if Utah doesn’t let down, they could/should win the South. Like Stanford last week, Utah’s loss destroyed any hope for a playoff appearance but they could still win 12. Computer Hope
Computer Hope How is this for AAC drama!? This is actually a must win for Temple. The Owls losing to South Florida last week opens up the AAC East as another Temple loss would force them into a tie with USF who holds the tirebreaker over Temple! Temple’s amazing season wouldn’t even result in a division title! Memphis on the other hand is playing spoiler. They can’t win the AAC West, but they can do their part to ensure Temple doesn’t win the East. Very interesting. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Last week’s 28-7 win over Wake Forest was dominant, but the Big XII is moving in fast on the Irish in the college football playoff poll, so now more than ever the Irish need some style points. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be many to be had in Fenway as the Irish probably beat BC but it’ll be close. The Eagles can play defense so the Irish cannot overlook them to next week’s game against Stanford. Notre Dame needs a little help to make the playoffs. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Purdue is 0-4 on the road & 2-8 overall so you might think Iowa doesn’t have too much to worry about this weekend, but I’d be cautious. The Boilermakers can put a scare into you & they can catch lightning in a bottle (ask Nebraska). The Boilermakers have played Wisconsin, Michigan St. & Northwestern tough on the road. Iowa is no different so they’ll need to be ready in case Lady Luck decides to shine on Purdue. Iowa should win but this could be close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope HUGE TRAP game for Houston. The Cougars come into this game at 10-0 & next week they play their season finale at home against Navy which will decide the AAC-West. Last week Houston barely escaped Memphis 35-34 & the week prior they barely escaped Cincinnati 33-30. Oddly enough, UConn might be the best defensive team Houston has played so far & HC Bob Diaco will have the boys fired up. UConn was on bye last week too. Upset alert!!!!!! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Duel in the Desert! I love intrastate rivalry games like this. I think both of these teams are disappointed in their seasons. For the Sun Devils they need one more win to get bowl eligible & this is their last home game. Arizona is bowl eligible at 6-5 but a 7-5/6-6 season has to be disappointing & if Rich Rodriguez bolts for Miami-FL or Virginia Tech, the program will likely be set back a few years. I hope RichRod sticks around. He makes the Pac 12 stronger. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The MAC SPECIAL! Bowling Green at 8-2 cannot lose the MAC East. They are 6-0 in conference. On the other hand, Toledo is fighting for their lives to win the MAC West. A win here gives the Rockets a 6-1 record but the loss to Northern Illinois is killer as they lose the tiebreaker! What’s crazy about Toledo is that the NIU loss is likely to cost them the MAC West, but it also cost them a perfect season. Tough to go 11-1 & have nothing to show for it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I have the Vols ranked #14 in my latest power poll. This week’s game against Missouri should be a good test of that ranking. If my ranking is legit, then UT shouldn’t have any issues rolling over a Mizzou squad that is 1-5 in the SEC. On the other hand, Columbia is an extremely volatile place right now with the racial narrative that is taking place. I think Tennessee is a really good football team. I’d love to see them put in work and finish the season 9-4. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Both Maryland & Indiana are 0-6 in the Big 10 this season. This isn’t a game that will get a lot of buzz but I still like it. For Maryland it’s their last chance to get a home win. That’s not great but it’s something to build on. For the Hoosiers, it might be their best chance to get that elusive 6th win to become bowl eligible. If Indiana doesn’t get it this week then they’ll need a road win over rival Purdue which seems unlikely. A loss here definitely warms up Kevin Wilson’s seat. Computer Hope

November 19, 2015 Posted by | Arizona, Arizona St., Arkansas, Baylor, Big Games, Boston College, Bowling Green, California, Connecticut, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan St., Mississippi, Mississippi St., Missouri, Must See Games, NCAA, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Oregon, Penn St., Purdue, Stanford, TCU, Temple, Tennessee, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Week 12, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 1 BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope Easily the best game of the week. I love the parallels to last year’s game. Virginia Tech should not be overlooked, but it’s entirely possible for the Hokies to lose their home opener & then run the table. A 12-1 Virginia Tech team who won the ACC Championship probably makes the playoffs assuming there are 4 undefeated teams from the other 4 big conferences. This is exactly what happened with Ohio State last season. Of course the same could happen to Ohio St.! Don’t count out Virginia Tech. This game will not be a blow out & I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Hokies win. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I like Corey Clement but replicating Melvin Gordon’s production is impossible & QB Joel Stave completed just 53.4% of his passes a year ago. Alabama might be retooling, but that’s on the offensive side of the ball. Wisconsin is going to have an extremely difficult time moving the ball & if Stave is prone to making mistakes, I can’t think of another defense that can exploit those mistakes to a more fuller extent than Alabama. It really feels like Nick Saban is out to prove something this season which is a scary though, but Alabama hasn’t won a national title in 2 years so everyone’s on edge! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Texas is going to get better & better under Charlie Strong, but I don’t think the improvements are going to be immediate. I think Tyrone Swoopes might be the handcuff that Strong can’t get away from this season. As for the Irish, this is the best team HC Brian Kelly has had since coming to South Bend. The schedule is absolutely brutal, but this should be a good early season test for new starting QB Malik Zaire, and getting off to a good start is paramount for the Irish. This is also an exciting game just because of the jerseys. These 2 teams are historically great & that is always fun to watch. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This should be an amazing game. I have Auburn picked to win the SEC West which is just as good as saying I have Auburn picked to win the SEC & represent the conference in the football playoffs. Getting Louisville on a neutral field will be tricky for War Eagle though. Despite quite a bit of turnover, the Cardinals still have some good pieces & Bobby Petrino is an outstanding football coach. This is also a good matchup from Louisville’s perspective. If they show well even in a loss, it could put the ACC Atlantic on notice. Clemson & Florida St. would rather Louisville be down a bit in 2015. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Definitely an overlooked SEC game because Alabama plays Wisconsin & Auburn battles Louisville, but there might not be a better game this weekend than Texas A&M/Arizona State! These are amazing games as far as implications are concerned. Also the winner gets off to an amazing start with a huge win in their pocket. There is so much to see in this one. How does Bercovici do as the unquestioned starter? How much improvement has Kyle Allen made? How will ASU’s defense deal with A&M’s size at receiver? How will ASU’s O-line deal with Myles Garrett on the edge? Tons to see here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game will be more about Jim Harbaugh’s return to coaching, especially because he’s coming home, but don’t forget about Utah! The Utes led the nation in sacks last season giving rise to the nickname “Sack Lake City”. They lose Nate Orchard but they are still going to get after the QB. Utah has a ton coming back this year especially on offense. With USC, UCLA, Arizona & Arizona St. being in the Pac 12 South, they get overlooked a bit but HC Kyle Whittingham is great. It’s taken a bit to get adjusted to the Pac 12, but Utah arrives this year in my opinion. This game is about Harbaugh but Utah wins it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This is an interesting game to me because I have Stanford winning the Pac 12 North but I think Northwestern will get a lot better after having a couple of down seasons. I’ve mentioned before the concept of sticking with a QB that isn’t that great & I think Northwestern was victim to this with Trevor Siemian. The Wildcats should be a lot better which should be good for Stanford. The Cardinal should rip through this game if they are for real. It’ll be interesting to see if they dominate. A close would be disappointing, but it would show Northwestern is better than people think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Chris Petersen comes back to Boise State! This is a homecoming for Petersen but if you are thinking about this game in terms of national viability then it’s about Boise State. I don’t think the Broncos lose at home, but they need a win here & in Week 2 against BYU to set up their season for a possible undefeated run. The Huskies are going to play tough & they’ll keep it close but UW is probably a year away from really coming into their own under Petersen. This will be bittersweet for Petersen because I think he loses, but moving forward I don’t think he loses to Boise! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Jerry Kill & Gary Patterson actually have a close relationship which makes this game sort of fun. The thing that makes this game intriguing is how good Minnesota is. The Gophers are always going to have trouble because it’s not necessarily a top echelon football school, but if the Gophers can recruit their area & get great coaching, they can be a viable player in the Big 10 West especially if Nebraska, Iowa & Wisconsin are having down years. I don’t think the Gophers win this game, but it’s CLOSE. If I’m a TCU fan I don’t get worked up by the score. Getting a win here is good enough. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Very interesting game on 2 accounts. BYU actually has quite a bit of talent with a lot of players coming back on offense, especially QB Taysom Hill who missed last year with injury. The early season schedule is tough (at Nebraska, Boise St., at UCLA, at Michigan) but the Cougars could easily get through this 3-1. If that happens then BYU probably gets to 11-1 on the season & what do you do with them? As for Nebraska, the Huskers welcome in new HC Mike Riley. I picked Nebraska to win the Big 10 West & this is a GREAT game to see what the Huskers bring to the table. A win is huge here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Virginia is terrible but this game is worth watching because of UCLA’s new starting QB, true frosh Josh Rosen. Widely considered to be the best QB in the Class of 2015, Rosen is the key to UCLA’s success this season. The Bruins essentially have a stacked team & if Rosen comes in & plays to his potential then UCLA goes from a nice top-15 team to arguably the best team in college football! That isn’t hyperbole! This isn’t a huge test for Rosen or UCLA, but it’s a solid game to get his feet wet & work out the kinks. He has 3 games before a road trip to Arizona & Rich Rodriguez! Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game has no national implications and I’m not even sure it’s a big rivalry game, but it is one of those games that will be important for bowl eligibility & seeing just how good each team is. North Carolina has a lot of players back & should be relevant in the ACC Coastal. A win here puts them on the right track & at least has people talking about their division possibilities. For SC, I think it’s just another chance to show SEC’s superiority. It’s not an overally critical game when it comes down to the SEC East but a win here could mean the difference between 7 or 8 wins. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Purdue is going to be a lot better than they’ve been the last couple of years & I think some of the heat under Darrell Hazell’s seat will be cooled. Purdue has some conference home games they can win to be sure & getting 3 wins out of their OOC schedule is almost a requirement. Marshall on the other hand isn’t an easy team to beat especially in Huntington. Remember that Marshall last year was 13-1 & ended the season in the top-25! They lose a lot on defense & QB Rakeem Cato, but this is still a good football team. A win here for Purdue would be bigger than you’d think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope This looks like a throw away game but beware Trojan fans! Remember that the last 3 Arkansas St. HC’s were Hugh Freeze (now at Ole Miss), Gus Malzhan (now at Auburn) & Bryan Harsin (now at Boise St.!). In the last 4 years Ark State is 35-17! They return 15 starters including 9 on offense. The Red Wolves put up good fights against Miami-FL & Tennessee last season so they won’t be wowed by the Coliseum & USC. I don’t think Arkansas St. can escape with the biggest upset of Week 1, but they’ll put up a fight and we’ll get to see how USC responds to that fight. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Iowa St. should be a much improved football team from a season ago when the Cyclones went 2-10 and they should have a decent shot at getting bowl eligible if a few things break their way. Of course, getting a win against Northern Iowa is necessary but remember than NIU came to Ames to open up the season 2013 & Iowa St. suffered a 28-20 loss en route to a 3-9 season. Paul Rhoads is too good of a coach to keep wasting away at Iowa State. It’s a tough place to coach but the Cyclones have a legit shot at starting the season 4-0 & needing just 2 wins in their last 8 to go bowling. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oregon starting QB Vernon Adams spent the last 2 seasons tearing it up at Eastern Washington so this game is somewhat interesting from that perspective. EWU has been a pretty good team during that time, but they aren’t any match for Oregon. Still, if there is a program that knows Adams, it has to be EWU so it’ll be interesting to see what the coaching staff has in store defensively for Oregon. With that being said, this game should still be a blow out & we’ll get a chance to see what Oregon’s offense looks like in the post Marcus Mariota era. I see 50-60 points ahead for the Quack Attack. Computer Hope

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Arkansas St., Auburn, Big Games, Boise St., BYU, Eastern Washington, Iowa St., Louisville, Marshall, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northern Iowa, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oregon, Purdue, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas AM, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington, Week 1, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2015 BIG 10 PREVIEW and PREDICTIONS

RANK B1G EAST COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: Lost in the conversation about Ohio St.’s tremendous QB depth is just how good JT Barrett was last season before missing the final 3 games. Barrett was 11-1 in 12 starts & was a 3rd team All-American passing for 2834yds/34TD, while rushing for 938yds/11TD! Barrett is penciled in as the starter which is a smart move. Amazingly enough RB Ezekiel Elliott was only a 2nd team All-Conference player (thanks to Melvin Gordon & Tevin Coleman) although he’s a Heisman front runner this season. With 4 OL returning, Ohio St. should be able to run the ball at will. Losing WR Devin Smith will be tough to replace, but the Buckeyes have tremendous WR potential. Expect the offense to score 45PPG yet again. DEFENSE: As a 6’6/280lbs DE, Joey Bosa was arguably the most dominant defensive player last year in college football as a true sophomore! The 2nd coming of JJ Watt, Bosa is almost unblockable & could be just as much of a Heisman candidate as Elliott! DT Adolphus Washington is another All-American candidate. It’s not Alabama or Penn St., but Ohio St.’s trio of LBs in Josh Perry, Raekwon McMillan & Darron Lee are the best LB corps in the entire nation! They accounted for 254 tackles last season including 13 sacks! The secondary returns 3 of 4 players headlined by S Vonn Bell. This is by far the best defense Urban Meyer has had in his time in Columbus. SCHEDULE: A road trip to Blacksburg to start the season won’t be easy but the only tough road game in conference comes in Ann Arbor where Michigan will be playing under 1st year HC Jim Harbaugh. Ohio St. avoids Wisconsin, Nebraska, Northwestern & Iowa from the B10 West. This schedule sets up well for a return trip to the playoffs. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 9-3 with losses to Virginia Tech, Michigan St. & Michigan.
#2 OFFENSE: Michigan St. had a banner year offensively in 2014 racking up 43PPG in Mark Dantonio’s best offensive showing since arriving in East Lansing in 2007. Expect a fall back to the 28-31PPG range this year as the Spartans lose quite a bit. Gone is RB Jeremy Langford who ran for 1522yds/22TD, WR Tony Lippett (1198yds/11TD/18.4ypc) & WR Keith Mumphrey (495yds/19.0ypc/3TD). QB Connor Cook comes back & might be a 1st Rd. NFL draft talent but Sparty needs some others to step up to become the big play threats they’ve lost. The O-line is outstanding & brings 4 starters back. A RB should emerge from the LJ Scott, Madre London, Delton Williams trio & TE Josiah Price should be a huge piece to the puzzle. The Spartans will score but not as much. DEFENSE: MSU got terrible news recently when LB Ed Davis was lost for the season due to injury. It’s a tough loss, but MSU is solid defensely. The D-Line headlined by Shilique Calhoun, Malik McDowell, Lawrence Thomas & Joel Heath looks especially strong & is arguably the best front-4 in the nation. Riley Bullough & Darien Harris will be fine at LB although the Davis loss hurts. The secondary has 2 huge losses in CB Trae Waynes & S Kurtis Drummond who were 1st & 3rd team All-Americans respectively! The secondary will be down a notch for sure. As you can see there is some question marks in the back-7. SCHEDULE: Michigan St. has a few land mines in road games against Ohio St., Michigan & Nebraska along with a home data against Oregon! The Spartans definitely have the talent to win games & you can be sure Sparty will have revenge on its mind when it plays Ohio St. & Oregon given that those teams prevented Michigan St. from the playoffs a year ago The season finale against Penn St. could be tricky as well. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 7-5.
#3 OFFENSE: Penn St. isn’t considered a playoff contender, but no team will be watched more closely if only because QB Christian Hackenberg could be the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The 6’4/230lbs QB came under scrutiny last season after playing worse than his freshman campaign, but that was more in line with an O-Line that had 4 first year starters & a WR corps that featured a couple of first year starters & a TE as a first year starter. HC James Franklin wasn’t completely starting over from the Paterno era due to Bill O’Brien, but O’Brien’s system is vastly different than Franklin’s methods. PSU has 8 starters returning including 4 on the O-Line & RB Akeel Lynch. Hackenberg should be in for a big year & the offense should show marked improvement. DEFENSE: Penn St. allowed just 18.6PPG last year & look to be even better this year. The Lions return 5 of their top-6 tacklers & have the best DT combo in the B1G in Austin Johnson & Anthony Zettel. They lost LB Mike Hull (140tkl in ’14) but Nyeem Wartman returns at MLB & they add in Ben Kline & Koa Farmer. S Jordan Lucas anchors the secondary along with CB Trevor Williams. Worth mentioning is DEs Carl Nassib (6’6/270lbs) & Garrett Sickels (6’4/265lbs). First year starters, both guys have outstanding size & should do some damage with Johnson & Zettel up front. They should be very fun to watch. SCHEDULE: Penn St.’s OOC schedule is a joke with Temple, Army, Buffalo & San Diego State. They do get Michigan St. & Ohio St. on the road which is tough but get Michigan at home coming off a bye week. Getting Northwestern & Illinois out of the West isn’t so bad either so the schedule sets up very nice. BEST CASE: 10-2. WORST CASE: 5-7. Losses to tOSU & MSU are a given but Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Northwestern & Michigan could happen.
#4 OFFENSE: Despite the 20-18 record over the last 3 seasons, the cupboards aren’t bare in Ann Arbor for incoming HC Jim Harbaugh. Devin Gardner isn’t a terrible loss at QB & Michigan now has former Iowa QB Jake Rudock who comes in as an immediate improvement. The Wolverines also return 4 starters on the O-Line along with a stable of very talented backs headlined by De’Veon Smith, USC transfer Ty Isaac & Derrick Green. Michigan loses WR Devin Funchess but returners Amara Darboh (6’2) & Jehu Chesson (6’3) are big targets that should step up quickly along with true frosh Brian Cole. Jim Harbaugh is an OUTSTANDING football coach & he knows how to get the most out of his players & this team is talented. Michigan should be able to run at will. Expect a big improvement. DEFENSE: Like the offense, the defense has some very good talent despite some losses & Michigan has some tremendous athletes. The LBs lose Jake Ryan but have both Joe Bolden & Desmond Morgan returning who could be all conference. They lose Frank Clark on the DL but DEs Taco Charlton & Mario Ojemudia are solid options who are also very big. Michigan averages 6’4.25″ & 288lbs along the DL. S Jabril Peppers & Stanford transfer CB Wayne Lyons should anchor a secondary that also has CB Jourdan Lewis & S Jarrod Wilson as returning starters. The defense allowed 22.4PPG in ’14 but is better this year. SCHEDULE: Tricky. Michigan opens on the road against Utah & also draws Oregon St. & BYU as OOC games although both are in Ann Arbor. They get both Michigan St. & Ohio St. at home in big rivalry games that anything could happen but Michigan has some tricky road games against Indiana, Minnesota & Penn St.. Northwestern is also on the slate. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 4-8 which seems impossible with Harbaugh.
#5 OFFENSE: The Hoosiers come into 2015 much the same way they came into 2014. High expectations on offense & the hopes of 6 wins to get bowl eligible. The offense last year took a downturn when QB Nate Sudfeld got hurt. Backup Zander Diamont was definitely not the answer as IU sputtered to 1-6 in their final 7 games. Sudfeld returns this year along with 4 returning O-Linemen, but IU loses an awful lot of skill position players headlined by all-world RB Tevin Coleman (2038yds/15TD in ’14). IU also lost their top receiver in Shane Wynn. All hope isn’t lost in Bloomington however. UAB transfer RB Jordan Howard (1587yds! in ’14) takes over & IU shouldn’t miss a beat. The Hoosiers also have some high upside at WR in Camion Patrick, Simmie Cobbs & Dominque Booth. The offense should be better & IU will score more than the 25.1PPG they posted in 2014. DEFENSE: For as much publicity the offense has gotten in the Kevin Wilson era, it ultimately has come down to defense where Indiana has yet to allow fewer than 32PPG since 2009! The Hoosiers return 5 starters from a defense that allowed 32.8PPG a year ago which doesn’t portend to success. The good news is that Indiana isn’t completely devoid of talent on the defensive side. DT Darius Latham, LB Tegray Scales, LB Nile Sykes, LB TJ Simmons and SS Antonio Allen all have talent. The question is can Indiana finally put some decent defensive numbers together? SCHEDULE: Not brutal but Indiana drew some winnable games on the road in Penn St., Maryland & Purdue. They do get Michigan & Ohio St. in Bloomington but those will be tough battles. An OOC road trip to Wake Forest probably won’t be terribly easy either. They do get Rutgers & Iowa at home. BEST CASE: 9-3; WORST CASE: 1-11 & Kevin Wilson is looking for employment.
#6 OFFENSE: With only 5 starters back from an offense that scored 26.7PPG last year, you might expect the Scarlet Knights to struggle offensively especially with QB Gary Nova (#2 all time passer in Rutgers history) graduating the program. That might not happen. Rutgers has Chris Laviano & Hayden Rettig (LSU transfer) taking over for Nova & they should approximate Nova’s numbers which weren’t stellar (57.2%/22TD/12INT). Paul James & Josh Hicks return at RB while WR Leonte Carroo is a huge weapon at WR (55rec/1086yds/11TD in ’14). Rutgers has just 2 starting O-Linemen returning but there is a lot of size & talent all along the line. I like this offense quite a bit & think it has some tremendous upside especially if the QB situation settles & RB Paul James can remain healthy all season. HC Kyle Flood is doing a great job here. DEFENSE: While the offense has 5 returning starters but has some upside, the defense has 5 returning starters without the feelings of optimism! Rutgers loses 5 of their top-7 tacklers although LBs Steve Longa & Quentin Gause return who were the team’s top-2 tacklers. The LBs corps is the strongest part of the defense with Longa & Gause along with South Carolina transfer Kaiwan Lewis. I’m most excited about DT Darius Hamilton & DE Kemoko Turay who could both be all conference defenders. Rutgers needs their secondary to come together, but I think the front-7 could do some serious damage if they all stay healthy. SCHEDULE: If Kyle Flood wants to make it 4 bowls in 4 years, Rutgers is going to have to take care of their OOC schedule against Norfolk St., Washington St., Kansas & Army. Wazzou could be a tough one although it’s at home. Rutgers draws Wisconsin & Nebraska from the West. They get Indiana & Michigan on the road! BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 3-9. 
#7 OFFENSE: Maryland had the best offensive output they’ve have under HC Randy Edsall, posting 28.5PPG en route to a 7-6 season. The offense might look towards a downturn in 2015 as they return just 6 starters & lose QB CJ Brown who also led the team in rushing a year ago. Maryland should find the going fairly rough offensively this year as Brown is gone, and they also lose their top-2 receivers in Stefon Diggs & Deon Long. Caleb Rowe takes over at QB while RBs Brandon Moss & Wes Brown should give Maryland RBs who actually lead the team in rushing. The rest of the offense is a little thin. The receivers are small although Marcus Leak might be OK. The O-Line returns 3 starters but this is a line that allowed 37 sacks & paved the ray for the Terps to average a measly 3.7ypc on the ground. There isn’t much upside here at all. DEFENSE: Maryland brings back just 4 starters from a below average defense that allowed 30+PPG in 2014. Maryland loses 6 of their top-9 tacklers including #1 tackler LB Cole Ferrand. Maryland will be especially thin up front as they returns just one starter (DE Yannick Ngakoue) to their front-7! Something else to keep in mind is that Maryland is moving to a 4-3 defense meaning they are a little off in their personnel. Ngakoue is just 6’2/250 which profiles more as a 3-4 OLB than  4-3 DE. The secondary returns 3 of 4 starters including CB William Likely who is outstanding & S Sean Davis who is solid. Rutgers needs a lot of guys to step up, but Ngakoue, Likely & Davis are good starting points. SCHEDULE: The OOC is easy outside of a road date against West Virginia. Drawing Wisconsin & Iowa (road) from the West hurts a bit. Maryland gets Indiana at home which is winnable but travels to Rutgers which is a tough blow. They are at Ohio St. & Michigan St.! BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 2-10. Beware of Bowling Green.

 

BIG 10 EAST OVERALL OUTLOOK: The division is Ohio St.’s to lose without question. I think what is most interesting about the Big 10 is the response to Urban Meyer coming to Columbus. In his 3 years at the helm, Ohio St. has gone 36-3 including a 12-0 season in 2012 & a national championship in 2014! That’s amazing. What we’ve seen though is Penn St. go out & grab James Franklin, a coach on the rise that showed you could win at Vanderbilt despite playing in the most brutal conference in college football. Michigan went out and hired Jim Harbaugh who could be arguably the best college coach on the planet. Michigan St. already had Mark Dantonio, a disciple of Nick Saban. I think this division is fascinating. Michigan St., Michigan, Ohio St. & Penn St. are 4 of the most intriguing teams in college football for various reasons. Maryland, Rutgers & Indiana almost seem like forgotten teams in a division so rich in football history regarding the other 4 but the “little brothers” can have successful seasons too. Harbaugh is a HUGE game changer making Michigan must watch football every Saturday!

 

RANK B1G WEST COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: It’s very difficult to get a feel for how Nebraska might perform offensively. The Huskers scored 37+PPG last year primarily as a rushing offense. This year under new HC Mike Riley, Nebraska might try to be more of a passing offense given Riley’s propensities at Oregon St.. We’ve seen this before in Lincoln when Bill Callahan was the HC & it didn’t work out so well. Nebraksa will be dealing with losing RB Ameer Abdullah (1611yds/19TD) along with leading WR Kenny Bell. They also lose the entirety of their interior offensive line. The good news is that QB Tommy Armstrong returns along with WRs Jordan Westerkamp & De’Mornay Pierson-El. Nebraksa also has 4 senior starters across the line & while the RB numbers will dip, Imani Cross & Terrell Newby should be OK. There will be growing pains & I’m not sure how great Armstrong is, but there is still a lot here. DEFENSE: This isn’t your father’s Nebraska defense. Nebraska loses 4 of their top-5 tacklers along with all-world DE Randy Gregory who is a massive loss. It’s Nebraska so there is a lot of talent on hand for Nebraska but can it come together? DTs Maliek Collins & Vincent Valentine should be tough to handle leaving room for DE Greg McMullen to work. S Nathan Gerry also returns & has All-Big 10 ability. SCHEDULE: Nebraska’s schedule is what really separates the Huskers from the rest of the Big 10 West. Nebraska gets Wisconsin, Northwestern & Iowa in Lincoln! They also get Michigan St. at home! Their conference road games come against Rutgers, Minnesota, Purdue & Illinois! Nebraksa doesn’t have the easiest OOC schedule there is with Miami-FL on the road & a season opener at home against BYU, but the conference schedule couldn’t have set up better. BEST CASE: 11-1 (they can’t beat Sparty). WORST CASE: 2-10. Huge range here.
#2 Let’s forget breaking down the offense & defense for a minute when talking about Wisconsin football. From 2009-2014 the Badgers have won 60 games. They’ve been to 3 Rose Bowls. They’ve finished in the top-10 on 2 occasions and have finished in the top-25 in 5 of those 6 seasons. The only team in the Big 10 who has won more games over the same span has been Ohio St., although the Buckeyes have been to just one Rose Bowl during the period that Wisconsin has been to 3. To Ohio St.s credit, they are coming off a National Championship season & they did go 12-0 in 2012 when they were banned from bowl play. What I’m trying to argue is that Wisconsin has been the most consistent & dominant team in the Big 10 outside of Ohio State for over the past 6 years. What’s interesting is that they will no welcome in their 3rd HC in a 4-year span. Bret Bielema went to 3 straight Rose Bowls from 2010-2012 & won 2 straight Big 10 conference championships in 2011-2012, yet picked up for Arkansas in what looked to be a move down. Utah St. HC Gary Andersen came in & went 20-7 in 2 years & bolted this past season for Oregon State in what looked to be another move down. I can sort of see leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas if you wanted to be in the SEC, but why would anyone leave Wisconsin for Oregon St.? Paul Chryst now comes in to Madison. Chryst was born in Madison. Played QB for Wisconsin & was the OC from 2005-2011. By all accounts, you can’t get more Madison than Paul Chryst so the Badger faithful have to happy that they could have incredibly stability at the HC position assuming Chryst turns out to be another HC like Barry Alvarez or Bret Bielema. This story provides a narrative that program fit is extremely important in looking for a HC. BEST CASE: 11-1 (I can’t see a win over Alabama). WORST CASE: 6-6.
#3 OFFENSE: Injuries hammered Northwestern last year before the season started. RB Venric Mark was out for the season along with WR Christian Jones. I had called for Northwestern to win the B1G West but was dubious about their luck before the season began. Luckily, true frosh RB Justin Jackson stepped up & ran for 1187yds/10TD in Mark’s place. WR Kyle Prater also did a decent job becoming the #1 WR. What hurt Northwestern the most on offense in 2014 was their QB play & their offensive line. QB Trevor Siemian was brutal completing 58.2% of his passes with 7TD to 11INT. He also rushed for -123yds in 68 attempts! The O-Line allowed 34 sacks & NW’s rushing attack averaged just 3.4ypc. This year Jackson will only get better while the O-line returns 3 starters with 4 starters being upperclassmen. The QB situation is iffy with Clayton Thorson, Matt Alviti & Zach Oliver but any of them will most likely be better than Siemian. Expect more than 23PPG. DEFENSE: The Wildcats return their entire D-Line & 7 of their top-10 tacklers. They also return 3 of their 4 DBs. DE Dean Lowry has all-conference talent as does CB Nick VanHoose. The goods news is that Northwestern has solid talent across the board defensively with 9 upperclassmen starting. The one weakness could be the LBs corps which will have to deal with the loss of Chi Chi Ariguzo. Still, this is a solid that should be better than they were in 2014. SCHEDULE: Brutal OOC with Stanford & a road game against Duke. Northwestern also has road games against Nebraska, Wisconsin & Michigan! They do get Iowa & Minnesota at home which is a solid break, but I don’t think the home date with Penn St. will be easy. Most of the winnable games are at home so Northwestern should get bowl eligible. BEST CASE: 7-5; WORST CASE: 2-10. The back of the B1G West is stronger.
#4 OFFENSE: It would seem Iowa is in a huge rebuild as they have just 5 starters back including a new QB, but I think there is some potential for the Iowa offense to be much better than people think. There was some controversy at the end of last season between QBs CJ Beathard & Jake Rudock but Rudock transferred to Michigan while Beathead takes over as QB1. You can make an argument than Beathead was better in the 4th quarter than Rudock last season & if Beathead can keep that over a full season, Iowa might have it’s best QB situation since Ricky Stanzi in 2009-2010. I also like RB Jordan Canzeri who will be 2 years removed from ACL surgery. WRs Tevaun Smith & Matt VandeBerg have some big play ability while TE Jake Duzey is a great pass catching TE. One thing we can also count on with Iowa is fantastic O-line play. Iowa was less than expected in ’14 but return their interior O-Line. The 2 tackles also have some big upside. This is certainly a glass half-full analysis but I like the potential here. DEFENSE: Iowa brings back 7 starters from a defense that allowed 26PPG last year. That isn’t Iowa defense, but there is a lot to be excited about this year. DE Drew Ott has all-conference potential as does CB Desmond King & S Jordan Lomax. The problem is the losses which are HUGE! DTs Carl Davis & Louis Trinca-Pasat are both in the NFL. S John Lowdermilk led the team in tackles & LB Quinton Alston was 2nd. It’s a lot to lose but the secondary should be solid as should the DEs. The LB are much more experienced too so overall I’d expect Iowa to be better. SCHEDULE: The anti-Nebraska, Iowa gets the Huskers, Northwestern & Wisconsin on the road! They also draw Indiana on the road which won’t be easy. They do get Illinois, Minnesota & Purdue at home along with Maryland, but draw Iowa St. in Ames. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 4-8.
#5 OFFENSE: After 4 frustrating years with Nathan Scheelhaase at QB, the Illini turned to Oklahoma St. transfer Wes Lunt to QB & was immediately ecstatic with the results. Lunt completed 64% of his passes for 1763yds with 14TD to just 3INT! The numbers would have been better had Lunt not missed 6 starts! Lunt is healthy to start 2015 so the Illini have to be beyond happy at the prospects. I also feel Illinois is on the verge of breaking out. They return 8 starter on offense including their leading rusher in Josh Ferguson & their top-4 receivers! WRs Mailk Turner & Geronimo Allison are 6’3 & 6’4 respectively. JUCO TE Andrew Davis is 6’6 giving Lunt some big targets to throw too. The O-line returns 3 starters & has 4 upperclassmen starting. Illinois also adds in RBs Ke’Shawn Vaughn & Henry Enyenihi. Illinois will threaten to score more than 30PPG for the first time since 2010! DEFENSE: The defense returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed 34PPG but there is reason to be optimistic. The D-line returns 3 starters and the secondary returns 3. They only have 2 big losses in S Zane Petty & LB Earnest Thomas but those losses are fine. LBs TJ Neal & Mason Monheim have all-conference ability. The D-Line averages about 6’4/290lbs which is exciting. DE Jihad Ward & S Taylor Barton should also have huge years. There is a lot to like about this defense & it should be improved. SCHEDULE: I would have had Illinois much higher except the schedule is nasty. Most of their winnable games are on the road while they draw Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Ohio St. at home. They also get road dates against Penn St. & North Carolina which doesn’t bode well for the Illini. Tim Beckman is doing a fine job in Urbana-Champaign & I hope he’s able to stick around. BEST CASE: 11-1 (really!); WORST CASE: 3-9
#6 OFFENSE: It might not have looked like it, but HC Darrell Hazell showed marked improvement in his offense from 2013 to 2014. The Boilermakers went from 14.9PPG to 23.8PPG. They also improved by 62yds of total offense. Purdue also improved by 2 wins. If they show the same improvement curve, Purdue will win 5 games & score 31PPG! That kind of offense could get them to a bowl. There is a lot to like about the offense. WR Danny Anthrop returns as a big play threat & the other projected starting WRs are all 6’2 or better. The entire O-Line returns which is a HUGE deal given the improvement the O-Line showed from year 1 to year 2 in the Hazell era. The huge question mark could be QB where rFR David Blough is expected to start. The 6’1/202lbs signal caller has been said to have quite a bit of Drew Brees & Brett Favre in him! If that’s true then look out because Purdue could contend in the West. DEFENSE: The Purdue defense made good strides in Hazell’s 2nd year as well improving by 6PPG & 44ypg! The Boilermakers return 7 starters on defense including all 3 LBs & both CBs. CB Frankie Williams is the only guy with legit all-conference capabilities but there could be some surprises. Purdue is fairly big up front but they need talent & a pass rush. Purdue hasn’t been able to get much pressure on the opposition since Ryan Kerrigan left. I’d like to see DE Evan Panfil step up. SCHEDULE: Purdue lucks out getting Minnesota, Illinois & Indiana at home. Those are winnable games in the friendly confines of Ross-Ade Stadium. The OOC isn’t bad outside of a home date against Virginia Tech. Purdue gets Wisconsin & Michigan St. on the road, but those were probably losses anyway. If Blough plays well & somebody replaces RB Akeem Hunt, this team will be fun. BEST CASE: 8-4; WORST CASE: 1-11 (Indiana St. should be automatic.)
#7 OFFENSE: The offense has improved by 3-4PPG in each year of Jerry Kill’s tenure in Minneapolis. If the trend continues, the Gophers will average 31-32PPG in 2015, which is something they’ve haven’t done since 2005! Losing RB David Cobb might look horrible, but Cobb averaged just 5.2ypc which is something RB Rodrick Williams has done during his career. Minnesota’s O-Line is going to be very good so it’s easy to suspect Williams might be on the verge of having a big year in this offense that is very run heavy. QB Mitch Leidner also returns & while he wasn’t great in 2014, Leidner is a threat to run & his passing numbers have nowhere to go but up. The O-Line returns 4 starters & I think Minnesota is intriguing at WR with KJ Maye, JJ Jones & Nate Wozniak who is 6’10! The offense will be solid & Cobb’s loss will be minimal. DEFENSE: LB Damien Wilson & S Cedric Thompson were NFL Draft picks & will be hard to replace, but those are the only losses to the back-7 which should actually get better as the unit is more experienced. CBs Eric Murray & Briean Boddy-Calhoun have all-conference talent & should be playing on Sundays eventually.  LB De’Vondre Campbell could have a big year. I’d also keep & eye on DEs Theiren Cockran & Hendrick Ekpe. Cockran at 6’6/260lbs is a load & could be headed to the NFL. Minnesota should be very good off the edge. SCHEDULE: I hate putting Minnesota here because I think HC Jerry Kill is amazing but the schedule sets up tough for the Gophers. They draw Michigan & Ohio St. out of the East & also get Purdue, Northwestern & Iowa on the road. The Big 10 West is interesting because there is certainly a lot of intrigue surrounding teams that haven’t been good for awhile. Minnesota is no different here as Kill keeps improving the on-field product. BEST CASE: 10-2. WORST CASE: 2-10. (won’t happen under Kill!)

 

BIG 10 WEST OVERALL OUTLOOK: Massive parity. While the East is dominated by Ohio St.’s huge odds to win the division, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see any of the 7 teams finish on top an that includes Purdue, Minnesota & Illinois. I think every team has a story line that is compelling and I don’t think these intra-divisional games will feature any blowouts. Wisconsin & Nebraska are interesting because they should be the 2 best teams in the league but are both bringing in new HCs! How crazy is that? Northwestern could have a huge storyline brewing with Pat Fitzgerald. While I don’t see Fitzgerald leaving Evanston anytime soon, he’s a FANTASTIC HC and at some point he’ll draw interest. He’s too young and he’s entering his 10th year at Northwestern! Iowa, Purdue & Illinois have crazy QB stories to watch involving CJ Beathead, David Blough & Wes Lunt respectively. The Gophers have HC Jerry Kill who keeps making the Gophers better. If he keeps up his trend since taking over for Minnesota, the Gophers could be in line for 10 victories in 2015! Everything is up in the air in this division which should make it fun from the beginning.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Predictions, Previews, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

BIG 10 OUTLOOK WITH 6 WEEKS LEFT

The College Football Season is over half finished. With the playoff selection committee ready to reveal their playoff rankings in 2 weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of where each team is in each conference and what to look for as we head down the stretch. Getting in position to make the playoffs or even to get bowl eligible will start to dominate the college football landscape. Starting with the Big 10, let’s take a look at where everyone is and what we should expect to see from each team moving forward.

 

BIG 10 EAST

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 All Michigan St. needs to do now is win. The Spartans get good games against Ohio St., Michigan & Maryland & if they win will be 11-1 & will be favored for the B1G Championship. For the Spartans to make the playoffs they’ll need some help. The loss to Oregon in Week 2 isn’t killer but the Ducks are getting better. If Oregon winds up 12-1 then they obviously get a spot ahead of Michigan State. You know the SEC champion is going to get a spot as is Florida St. if the Noles go 13-0 which seems likely. An 11-1 TCU team would be hard to keep out as would a 2nd SEC team. Vegas thinks that if Michigan St. gets into the playoffs they are most likely to win. They have to get there first.
5-1 After losing to Virginia Tech, Ohio St. has gone 4-0 outscoring their opponents 224-69! The loss to Virginia Tech is brutal seeing how the Hokies are 4-3 (1-2) in the ACC! There is simply no way to spin the loss in a positive light unless VA Tech goes crazy, finishes the season 9-3 (6-2) & wins the ACC title which doesn’t seem likely. The Buckeyes do have games against Michigan St., Minnesota & Michigan left so they can look a lot better. Should they win out & win the B1G they’ll be 12-1, but they’ll need a ton of help. Any 1-loss team from a Power 5 conference will look better than Ohio St. as would Notre Dame. They need a lot of 2-loss teams & their name to help them.
5-2 The Terps could win the Big 10 I suppose. If they win out they’d be 10-2 (7-1) but they would need Ohio St. to lose twice as one loss wouldn’t cut it as Ohio St. destroyed Maryland just a couple of weeks ago. Eve if Maryland winds up 11-2, it’s unlikely they get into the playoffs having losses to Ohio St. & West Virginia. A more likely prospect for Maryland is just concentrating on getting bowl eligible. They only need one more win bt their remaining schedule has road games against Penn St., Wisconsin & Michigan with home dates against Michigan St. & Rutgers. I think there are 3 winnable games left meaning Maryland could get to 8-4 (5-3) which would be huge in year 1 of the B1G.
5-2 I didn’t think Rutgers would win 3 games when the season began so the fact that they are 5-2 through 7 games should have ever Knights fan celebrating a successful season. Rutgers playoffs hopes are abysmal. Their remaining schedule is nasty & even if they were to get to 10-2 they’d need a ton of help because of their loss to Penn State. As with Maryland, the focus should be on getting that 6th win, but Rutgers has: at Nebraska, Wisconsin, bye, Indiana, at Michigan St. & at Maryland left on the schedule. The home game against the Hoosiers looks like their best bet. Going 6-6 would be a huge success for Rutgers in their first season. A much better than expected year.
3-4 At this point I don’t think there is anything that could save Brady Hoke’s job. There is no way Michigan can get into the playoffs and with road games against Michigan St. & Ohio St. left on the slate, the best the Wolverines can hope for this season is a bowl eligible 6-6. That would require getting 2 wins from Indiana (home), Northwestern (road) & Maryland (home). All 3 of those teams will be playing for their own bowl eligibility so they won’t be easy wins for Big Blue. This isn’t a bad situation to step into. Michigan could potentially have 18 returning starters for 2015. There is talent here & it’s still Michigan. They bailed on Rich Rodriguez too early. A good hire is needed.
4-2 Penn St. still has half of its season left so there is a lot of football to be played. Penn St. could theoretically still win the B1G. They have Michigan St. & Ohio St. left on the schedule. Those teams play each other so Penn St. beating one of them would give that team 2 losses with PSU owning the tiebreaker. They would need the winner of OSU/MSU to lose again, but I guess it’s possible. With losses to Northwestern & Michigan, an 11-2 Penn St. team still wouldn’t make the playoffs. Penn St. could win 4 of their final 6 and that should be the focus. Not many people expected too much from James Franklin in his first season but if the Lions finish 8-4 (4-4), it would be an incredible year.
3-4 If Nate Sudfeld is lost for the season, Indiana’s 2014 campaign is completely over as Xander Diamont isn’t ready and the Indiana defense is just terrible. Indiana could get to 5 wins if they take care of Penn St. & Purdue at home which is certainly feasible if Tevin Coleman carries the offense & the defense can hold opponents to less than 30pts. What hurts Indiana is they have 3 games left on the road against Michigan, Rutgers & Ohio State. Rutgers & Michigan are going to be playing for bowl eligibility themselves so Indiana won’t have easy road dates there. A 5-7 year would be a hold year for IU as they were 5-7 last season. The Bowling Green & Maryland losses were deathly.

 

BIG 10 WEST

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 Can you believe Minnesota can make the playoffs? The Gophers are 6-1 (3-0) right now. The scare from Purdue doesn’t help their cause from a cosmetic perspective but Minny gets Ohio St. & Iowa at home. What hurts the Gophers is their final 2 games which are road dates against Nebraska & Wisconsin. Let’s assume Minnesota gets to 11-1 & wins the B1G to get to 12-1! Their lone loss comes from TCU so the Gophers have to hope TCU keeps winning. At this point if TCU wins out they’ll most likely win the Big XII if Oklahoma beats Baylor. I think Minnesota would also need the Pac 12 to have a 2-loss champion & only 1 SEC team in the Final 4. If all that happens, they are in!
6-1 Nebraska is in a good spot going forward. They just hammered a Northwestern team that beat Wisconsin. They do have to travel to Madison but that is the toughest game remaining & the Huskers get Minnesota in Lincoln. It’s hard to argue with Nebraska’s 27-22 loss to Michigan St. in East Lansing. It certainly would benefit Nebraska for Michigan St. to get to 11-1 so they could get a rematch against Sparty in the championship game. If Nebraska winds up 12-1 with their only blemish being a 5-pt loss at Michigan St., then it’ll be hard to keep them out of the playoffs. College football is better when Nebraska is dominating & college football has been waiting a long time.
5-2 The loss this week to Maryland virtually kills Iowa, dropping the Hawkeyes to 5-2. Oddly enough Iowa could still win the B1G West because they still have games against Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota & Northwestern. If Iowa wins out they could be 10-2, but even an 11-2 season with a B1G championship wouldn’t help with losses to Iowa St. & Maryland. I think Iowa actually needs to focus on getting bowl eligible. They need 1 more win but their remaining schedule is: Northwestern, at Minnesota, at Illinois, Wisconsin & Nebraska. The Illinois game should give them at least 6 wins but Iowa has to be the most frustrating team in college football. They should be 7-0 right now.
3-4 Injuries have just ravaged Northwestern all season long. I really thought the Wisconsin game would determine the B1G West & Northwestern won that game. Unfortunately the Cats lost their first 2 and then was hammered last week against Nebraska. They’ve also lost to Minnesota so not only is Northwestern not going to the playoffs, but it’s almost impossible for them to win the West. I don’t think they can win at Notre Dame so at best Northwestern gets to 7-5, but it might be time for them to worry about bowl eligibility. They have road games against the Irish & Iowa. That means they’d need to win all 3 against Michigan, Purdue & Illinois. I wonder if Pat Fitzgerald would ever leave?
4-2 Losing at Northwestern is BRUTAL for Wisconsin, but not all is lost for the Badgers who actually have a pretty good team & a helluva coach in Gary Andersen. I don’t think the Badgers can make the playoffs even if they win out & win the B1G, finishing at 11-2. Losses to LSU & Northwestern would be too much, but Wisconsin does get Nebraska & Minnesota in Madison so there is a real possibility the Badgers could indeed finish 10-2 (7-1). The Badgers & Ohio St. are in the same boat to me. They are teams nobody is really talking about but who could end the season with great records. Can either team win a championship? No, but Wisconsin could finish 12-2 if they win out.
3-5 Purdue has a rough road ahead of them, but over their last 3 games, the Boilermakers have averaged 36PPG, played Michigan St. really tough, beat Illinois & almost upset Minnesota! The road doesn’t get any easier for the Boilermakers as their next 2 games come against Nebraska & Wisconsin, but their last 2 games (Northwestern at home & Indiana on the road) look very winnable meaning Purdue could be a 5-win team needing a miracle win against either the Huskers or Badgers to get bowl eligible. It’s worth noting that Purdue was 1-11 last season. Earlier this year Purdue looked terrible, but with 8 games down, Purdue is in the bowl discussion which is amazing.
3-4 The home loss to Purdue really put a damper on the season because I think nobody thought the Illini would beat Washington, Nebraska or Wisconsin. A win over the Boilermakers & Illinois would be sitting at 4-3 needing a couple of wins to get bowl eligible with Penn St., Northwestern & Minnesota left on the schedule. Instead, the Gophers are playing extremely well & Illinois gets them & Ohio St. in their next 2 games. Bowl eligibility is still on the table for Illinois, but their defense has been awful & that probably won’t change. When you look at the schedule, Illinois hasn’t beaten anyone and it wouldn’t surprise me if Illinois finished 3-9. A step backwards for HC Tim Beckman.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Big 10, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio St, Penn St., Playoffs, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

2014 NCAA WEEK 3 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

Typically your weeks between opening weekend & conference play are hit or miss when it comes to big games, but this week is pretty interesting from the perspective of the Big 12. The conference has a chance to make a big statement this weekend. Take a look at these games:

Oklahoma plays Tennessee
Texas plays UCLA
Texas Tech plays Arkansas
Texas Tech plays Minnesota
West Virginia plays Maryland
Iowa St. plays Iowa
TCU plays Minnesota
Kansas plays Duke

The conference has a chance to really shine heading into conference play & there are some pretty big names on the list. Five of those 8 games made it onto my list below so it’s definitely a week that all eyes should be on the Big 12 as a whole. Very interesting.

 

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
College football is infinitely better when Tennessee is good & the Volunteers are starting to look that way again after what seems like a decade in the wilderness. I don’t have any illusions to think Tennessee might win the game, but there is some evidence for the Vols to scare the Sooners just a bit. Tennessee has had a tougher slate to date & has made it look easy in beating Utah St. & Arkansas State. Oklahoma has beaten LA Tech & Tulsa. Tennessee’s receivers look AMAZING but the Vols can’t run the ball worth a lick. Oklahoma’s offense is scoring 50PPG but looked a little out of sync against LA Tech to open the season. Both teams are playing great defense to date. UT QB Justin Worley is going to shoulder a ton of responsibility in this game & if he plays extremely well then Tennessee has a shot at hanging around in this game.
There has been a lot of talk about this game being a must win for South Carolina because a loss eliminates them from the playoffs. I disagree. They are already eliminated. The loss to Texas A&M is killer because now Texas A&M has to run the table & so does SC. That probably isn’t going to happen! The big question in this game is how in the world is South Carolina going to stop the Georgia running game behind ALL-WORLD RB Todd Gurley? Texas A&M ran for 169yds/4TD/4.3ypc against the Gamecocks & I can assure you that Gurley is MUCH better than what the Aggies through at SC’s front-7. Georgia is coming off a bye week & I almost think that’s a bad thing because it killed momentum after the Clemson win. This should be a great game especially if Mike Davis & Dylan Thompson go to work, but Gurley looks unstoppable!
Where to begin? UCLA hasn’t played at all like most people thought they would opening up with close wins over Virginia & Memphis! Those teams were a combined 5-19 a year ago! Against Virginia the offense looked terrible. Against Memphis the defense looked terrible. If UCLA is able to put together a game on both sides of the ball things might look a little better, but they have to hurry because Pac 12 season is starting soon. For Texas it’s just going to be a season HC Charlie Strong would rather soon forget. He’s suspending players, players are hurt, and the players he does have aren’t playing very well. Both teams are playing poorly but it’s not like Texas doesn’t have some talent. If UCLA plays terrible then Texas can win & keep an eye on UT QB Tryone Swoopes who is a dual threat QB at 6’4/241lbs! He could do damage.
I love this game because it gives you two angles to watch in particular. The first is the overall strength of the Big XII against the SEC. Texas Tech isn’t going to challenge for a Big XII title but they were an 8-5 team last year that won a bowl. Arkansas is a team on the come in the SEC under HC Bret Bielema. Arkansas hung around for an entire half against Auburn before wearing out, but they came back & beat Nicholls St. 73-7! the following week where the Hogs ran for 495yds/6TD/12.4ypc!!! The game is at Texas Tech so the Red Raiders have that going for them but this will be an interesting game from the standpoint that Arkansas is going to run the football which means they are going to control the clock. Texas Tech is obviously going to bomb away through the air. It’s two contrasting styles that will be very interesting to watch. SEC v. B12!
This is an interesting game for me because I want to see what TCU does. They got off to a good start in their opener beating Samford 48-14, but then they went on bye. The bad part about this game against Minnesota is that TCU has yet another bye week before traveling to SMU. The following week they host Oklahoma. That’s just 3 games before the Sooners come to town. Oklahoma will have only played 4 and they have a bye week before heading to Ft. Worth. Minnesota isn’t a great team but HC Jerry Kill gets the most out of his players. This will be a good test for TCU because the Gophers have struggled defensively to open up the season & they’ve only played E.Illinois & M.Tennessee State! TCU should dominate both sides of the football. They are somewhat of a forgotten team at the moment, but I’m expecting a pretty big year.
Despite Bowling Green’s showing against Western Kentucky, I still think this is going to be a pretty good test for the Hoosiers. If Bowling Green gave up 59 points to Western Kentucky, then it’s going to be downright scary what Indiana is going to put up on the Falcons. Bowling Green got burned through the air against the Hilltoppers which isn’t a good sign because IU is an excellent passing team. What could be even more dangerous is IU RB Tevin Coleman who is arguably the best football player you haven’t heard of! The game is so interesting because it could set up a game that could be a real program changer at Indiana. If IU beats Bowling Green then it sets up IU at 3-0 going to Missouri. If the Hoosiers can beat a ranked Missouri team on the road & get to 4-0, then all of a sudden Indiana potentially becomes a ranked team! Wow!
The 2nd Bobby Petrino era has gone about as well as anyone could hope for. Louisville took on their first ACC opponent as an ACC member and all they did was embarrass “THE U” 31-13! They followed that up with a 66-21 drubbing of Murray State. Now the Cardinals get their 1st ACC road opponent in Virginia, but the Cavaliers might not be an easy out. The Wahoos almost beat UCLA in their opener & if not for a few turnovers probably would have. Virginia followed that with a 45-13 win over Richmond. The one problem Virginia has had in their first couple of of games is getting good stops against the pass on defense. Their rush defense has been playing well, but they can’t seem to guard well against the pass which could be problematic against a Bobby Petrino led team. Still, Virginia might not be a bowl team, but they are a very tough out.
Looking good against UT-Martin & Ohio at home is one thing. Going on the road to The Swamp and playing as well as you have is completely another. The Wildcats have looked really good in their first couple of games especially on defense. Mark Stoops is doing good things in Lexington & he’s even proving that you can recruit high level talent to play football at Kentucky. After getting their first game suspended due to lightning, Florida came out last week & handed E.Michigan a 65-0 loss. You can’t really draw any conclusions from Florida’s win but I don’t think Kentucky is as horrible as they’ve shown sometimes in the past. It’s a different Kentucky team with actual talent on the roster so while I’d expect Florida to win, this is a better barometer game than it has been in year’s past because Florida might actually face some nice competition.
Rutgers gets its first taste of Big 10 football by welcoming the Penn St. Nittany Lions to New Jersey! It’s sort of weird because I almost feel this is sort of a homecoming for Penn State. I’m a Big 10 guy and I like Penn State being in the conference, but before the Lions came to the Big 10, I always associated them as a northeast team and the Lions have had a big recruiting presence in the NY/NJ area. This is a game between 2 surprising teams that could start the season 3-0. I didn’t think Rutgers would beat Washington St. & I didn’t think Penn St. would be UCF, but here they are. For James Franklin, the year couldn’t started better & Penn St. is playing Penn St. defense. Rutgers on the other hand has exploded somewhat offensively. This will be an interesting contrast in styles & of course Christian Hackenberg is playing so tune in!
This is an interesting trap game for the Trojans. They are coming off a huge road win over Stanford that catapulted the Trojans into a top-10 team, but deep down the Stanford win was iffy because the Cardinal essentially gave them that game & USC’s offense wasn’t exactly moving the ball efficiently. Boston College is also a tricky team. Their opening UMass was more impressive than I thought it would be & the Eagles played Pitt really well in a 30-20 loss. Boston College is a run HEAVY team and Steve Addazio proves over & over again that he’s a helluva coach. The Eagles didn’t have much coming back but Florida transfer QB Tyler Murphy is proving hard to handle so it’ll be interesting to see how USC does going cross country in a game after Stanford but before Oregon State. I like USC but I think BC keeps it close on Chestnut Hill.
This should be blowout city but I’m a NOTRE DAME HOMER so all the Irish games are going to be part of MUST WATCH games! The Irish are coming off a resolute 31-0 beating of rival Michigan which has elevated the Irish to almost top-10 status. I’m not sure my boys are that good, but if they can beat Michigan 31-0, what are they going to do to a Purdue team that is coming off a loss to Central Michigan 38-17!? Notre Dame might get back-to-back shutouts which would be amazing for an Irish D that many were questioning. After this game the Irish play a better than you’d think Syracuse team, but ND has a real chance at 4-0 before welcoming Stanford & North Carolina to South Bend. If ND can take care of homefield advantage & keep getting better each week, the Irish could be looking at a 10-2/11-1 season. One game at a time.
Forget the rebuilding process at Missouri. Whether Gary Pinkel is showing us how great of a coach he is, or if Missouri has more talent, or if the team just gets better by playing in a better conference with tougher competition, Missouri is a legitimate top-25 program that should be taken seriously. They had NOTHING coming back from last season but when on the road to Toledo & hammered the Rockets. 49-24. Toledo isn’t a bad team! It’s possible the Tigers are actually better with Maty Mauk playing QB this season. Like I wrote above, I think this game is interesting for what it sets up which could be a 3-0 Missouri team taking on a 2-0 Indiana team in Columbia. UCF will be a tough test, but the Knights miss Blake Bortles an awful lot even though they had a lot of players returning. UCF had a bye week to prepare so let’s see what happens.
I’m a huge fan of Paul Rhoads, but at this point what more can the guy do? They lost their opener to North Dakota St. and then gave up a lead at home last week in a loss to Kansas State. It’s a rough way to start and the only thing I can think of is that Rhoads hired former Kansas HC Mark Mangino to run the offense so maybe there are going to be some hiccups along the way. This is probably my favorite in-state rivalry game for reason I haven’t a clue. Iowa comes in 2-0 and it’s an interesting game for the Hawkeyes. Teams in the B1G West are not playing well & Iowa avoids Michigan St. from the East so there is a legitimate chance Iowa can run the table. Iowa St. is always a problem though & Iowa hasn’t been world beaters this year. The last time they played in Iowa City, the Cyclones beat the Hawkeyes 9-6. I feel asleep on that one!

September 13, 2014 Posted by | Arkansas, Big Games, Boston College, Bowling Green, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa St., Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Missouri, Must See Games, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn St., Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, UCF, UCLA, USC, Virginia, Week 3 | Leave a comment