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2017 ACC PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

The ACC has made some headlines this off season in declaring they are the best conference in college football, taking over the title from the SEC. That seems odd given how dominant the SEC has been over the last 10-15 years, but do the ACC acolytes have a point? Consider last year’s records against the other Power-5 conferences along with Notre Dame and also their bowl record:

SEC: 10-4
BIG 10: 6-2
Notre Dame: 3-2
BIG XII: 1-1
PAC 12: 0-2
TOTAL: 20-11

BOWL GAMES: 9-3

The Big XII & Pac 12 didn’t have much by way of sample size. Miami-FL beat a then #14 ranked West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl 31-14 leaving no doubt that the Canes were by far superior to the Mountaineers. The other Big XII game came early in the 2016 season as Oklahoma St. beat Pittsburgh 45-38. Hardly inspiring considering it was a “close” loss for Pitt who finished 8-5 while Oklahoma St. finished 10-3 and had a chance to win the Big XII had they beating Oklahoma in Bedlam! last season.

The Pac 12 games were also decided in the ACC’s favor despite going 0-2 against them. North Carolina lost 25-23 to a Stanford team that finished in the top-12 with a 10-3 record. Beating UNC by 2 points is hardly dominant especially when Carolina wasn’t one of the 5 best teams in the ACC while Stanford was AT LEAST the 3rd best team in the Pac 12 by season’s end. The other Pac 12 game came early as Oregon beat Virginia 44-26 in Eugene. You can hardly extrapolate from that one as UVA was the ACC’s worst squad.

No conference had a better bowl record than the ACC who finished 9-3 and had a bowl record against the SEC of 4-1! Possibly even more important is that Clemson took down Alabama to win the National Championship. At least for 2016, the ACC’s best was better than the SEC’s best. And is it really THAT much of a jump to think Florida St. was better than Florida last season? No, because FSU actually beat the Gators 31-13! Is it hard to imagine Virginia Tech being better than LSU? Not in the least. Is it difficult to think Miami-FL was better than Auburn? Was Louisville better than Georgia? At the top at least you can certainly make an argument that the ACC truly did take over the moniker of “BEST CONFERENCE” in college football. The ACC has won 2 of the last 4 national championships and they can make an argument they should have won 3 of them.

Heading into this season, the ACC has 2 teams in the preseason top-25 rankings. The SEC has only Alabama. The SEC does get 6 teams in the preseason top-25 but the ACC gets 5 of their own. And what about talent? Here is how many players were drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft by rounds between the SEC and ACC:

1st Round
SEC: 12
ACC: 4

Rounds 1-2
SEC: 21
ACC: 7

Rounds 1-3
SEC: 30
ACC: 11

Rounds 1-4
SEC: 38
ACC: 17

8As you can see, from an NFL talent perspective, it’s not really that close, but doesn’t that make the case for the ACC having better “teams” that much more potent considering how well the ACC did against vastly superior talented SEC squads? What about moving forward with recruited talent? According to Phil Steele, The SEC has 4 teams have top-10 recruiting classes as compared to the ACC’s 2. The SEC had 9 programs rank in the top-25 while the ACC has 4. The SEC has 11 programs finish in the top-30 in 2017 recruiting classes. The ACC has just 5.

As far as NFL talent and recruiting talent is concerned, the ACC falls behind the SEC, but that is why we play the games. As much as it sounds odd to believe the ACC is now the class of college football, the on-field results support this conclusion. The question becomes whether or not the ACC has any staying power over the SEC and whether or not the Big 10 can start getting very consistent play from Michigan St., Nebraska, Wisconsin, Indiana & Iowa which could combine with Ohio State, Penn State & Michigan to potentially throw the Big 10 into the discussion in the near future? The question of whether or not the ACC is better than the SEC is very intriguing and one that is worth watching as the season unfolds.

# TEAM ATLANTIC
1 Computer Hope If Deshaun Watson were returning to Clemson for the 2017 season I think the Tigers would be the easy pick to repeat as national champions. The big question mark regarding Clemson is how new QB Kelly Bryant will handle the team. That’s a good question but to me what separates Clemson is their defense. DTs Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins are 1st Rd. NFL picks. DE Clelin Ferrell is going to take over Carlos Watkins’ role from last season. Kendall Joseph is the best LB on the team & he returns. The secondary is FILTHY! Clemson gets Florida St. at home which decides the Atlantic. I think the defense gives Clemson the edge.
2 Computer Hope If there is an argument to be made for two teams out of the same conference getting to the playoffs, then the ACC can certainly make that case. FSU is the favorite in any other conference outside the SEC. I think what puts FSU a hair behind Clemson is that Dalvin Cook is a HUGE loss. Cook might be a top-5 NFL RB this season if that gives you any indication of how good he was last season. I also think losing DE DeMarcus Walker is tough although Brian Burns & Josh Sweat should be INCREDIBLE edge rushers. S Derwin James is arguably the best player in college football! The road game at Clemson is the big hurdle for the Noles.
3 Computer Hope Defense in the ACC Atlantic continues to be the key as NC State separates themselves with a NASTY D-Line led by All-American Bradley Chubb! At 6’4/280lbs, Chubb is a physical beast off the edge but DT BJ Hill, DT Justin Jones & DE Kentavius Street are also returning starters that are going to be exceptionally difficult to handle. Offensively QB Ryan Finley returns along with his top-4 receivers & 4 O-Linemen. Finley was a bit underrated last year having completed 60% of his passes for 3059yds with 18TD to just 8INT. The junior enters his 2nd year as QB1 & will get better. NC State can make noise getting Clemson & L’Ville at home.
4 Computer Hope How good is the ACC Atlantic? The defending Heisman Trophy winning QB is playing for a team I think will finish 4th in his own division! The Cardinals only return 4 starters on offense but have some very good weapons in RBs Jeremy Smith & Colin Wilson along with WR Jaylen Smith. QB Lamar Jackson is the show of course but he’s got plenty of weapons to help. Defensive Louisville returns 7 starters on a unit that allowed 23.8PPG. The unit loses some big time players though in Keith Kelsey, Devonte Fields, De’Angelo Brown & Josh Harvey-Clemons. Those are 4 big time players. NC State & FSU on the road pushes Louisville to 4th.
5 Computer Hope HC Dino Babers did a solid job in his first year at Syracuse. The Orange’s record didn’t regress from the previous year & Syracuse got wins over Virginia Tech & Boston College which were great for morale. The talent base here isn’t outstanding which is what you’d expect, but Syracuse returns 19 starters from last year’s squad and they all now have a year of playing under Babers systems which is going to help with experience. QB Eric Dungey can play as evidenced by his 65% completion rate last year & 2679yds. The defense returns 10 starters and if it can generate any kind of pass rush they’ll be a tough out. Getting BC & WF at home helps.
6 Computer Hope HC Steve Addazio is on the hot seat and he enters an interesting situation. I think BC is going to have a solid defense headlined by potential All-American DE Harold Landry, but Landry has quite a bit of help. DE Zach Allen is a load while LBs Connor Strachan & Ty Schwab can fill it up. BC also features a secondary made up of entirely upperclassmen with 3 returning starters. The defense has a shot to be good. Offensively BC hasn’t fared too well under Addazio. They are struggling but moving on from QB Patrick Towles might not be awful and BC returns 4 starters on the O-Line. With just 6 obvious losses, BC could get back to a bowl in ’17.
7 Computer Hope HC Dave Clawson did a FANTASTIC job last season in getting Wake Forest to their first bowl game since 2011 and getting their first bowl win since 2008! He also did this with a team that averaged just 20.4PPG & a QB that completed 56% of his passes with 9TD to 10INT! Clawson will need to do another fantastic coaching job should the Demon Deacons get back to a bowl. The offense returns 9 starters but the unit was dreadful last season. They’ll improve but by how much? Defense has been Wake’s calling card & DE Duke Ejiofor returns along with CB Amari Henderson, but Wake loses quite a bit too. The schedule didn’t do them favors!

 

# TEAM COASTAL
1 Computer Hope Miami-FL’s 9-4 record last season in HC Mark Richt’s first foray in Coral Cables was THIS CLOSE to being 12-1 as Miami-FL lost 3 games by a combined 11 points & never won a close game. Richt has done a fantastic job amassing talent in his short time at Miami and it’s already paying dividends. THE U has to break in a new QB with Brad Kaaya leaving for the NFL but the skill positions are STACKED & the O-line returns 4 starters. Defensively, Miami-FL is starting to look like the Miami of old. Shaq Quarterman is a beast. The entire Front-7 returns and the secondary has some salty big hitters. Miami-FL looks really really good!
2 Computer Hope I absolutely LOVE what Justin Fuente is doing in Blacksburg and the Hokies saw absolutely no dropoff after Frank Beamer’s retirement as Fuente took Beamer’s last squad that finished 7-6 and turned them into a 10-4 team that won the ACC Coastal! Replacing Jerod Evans at QB is a big fill although I think VT can handle it a bit due to Fuente’s offensive schemes. Still, a frosh QB in Josh Jackson will have a learning curve. The Hokies defense should be ELECTRIC as DC Bud Foster’s unit returns 8 of their top-10 tacklers including guys like Tremaine Edumunds, Mook Reynolds, & Andrew Motuapuaka. Nov. 4th is going to be nuts!
3 Computer Hope Losing Dedrick Mills earlier this year is a huge blow as GT’s leading rusher last season was dismissed from the team, but the Yellow Jackets are more scheme based than talent based so I don’t think it’ll matter too much. HC Paul Johnson gets the most out of his talent & Georgia Tech returns 16 starters from a team that went 9-4 a year ago. QB Matthew Jordan replaces QB Justin Thomas, but Jordan has been around awhile so I don’t think it’ll be a drop off. Georgia Tech’s defense should be just as good as it was last season. Getting Pittsburgh & North Carolina at home pushes the Ramblin’ Wreck up to 3rd and they should get 7-8 wins.
4 Computer Hope Duke is a tricky team because like Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils under HC David Cutcliffe are almost always going to exceed expectations and get the most out of their talent. Duke returns 7 starters on offense including QB Daniel Jones who as a freshman last season completed 63% of his passes for 2836yds & 16TD to 9INT. This for a Duke squad that finished 4-8. Under Cutcliffe’s guidance, Jones is going to get even better & the Blue Devils have enough help to push the offense forward. Defensively Duke returns 5 starters but the players returning such as LBs Joe Giles-Harris & Ben Humphreys are rock solid. Don’t sleep on Duke.
5 Computer Hope USC transfer QB Max Browne has been named the starter, but I think a lot of people don’t realize how good Nathan Peterman was last season. Peterman threw for almost 3,000 yards along with 27TD to 7INT. Browne is big at 6’5/230lbs and he has talent, but Peterman is going to be difficult to replace as will heart & soul RB James Conner. I really like Quadree Henderson & Qadree Ollison but how does this offense not regress? PITT returns 4 starters from a defense that yielded 35.2PPG! That’s a blessing & a curse. The D returns just 2 starters from their Front-7. Unless Rori Blair goes crazy there isn’t a pass rush. I’m not a believer here.
6 Computer Hope This seems WAY TOO LOW for Carolina under HC Larry Fedora, but wow did the Tar Heels lose a lot to the NFL. On offense they lost the #2 overall pick in QB Mitch Trubisky who passed for almost 4,000yds and 30TD! Brandon Harris is supposedly the new QB, but he couldn’t keep the LSU gig from a Purdue transfer! UNC also loses Elijah Hood, TJ Logan, Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard & Mack Hollins! Good grief! Also remember they lose C Lucas Crowley & RT Jon Heck, both 2-time All ACC performers! On D the Heels bring back 7 starters but lose Nazair Jones & Des Lawrence! Like Pitt, where is the pass rush? Looks like a transition year.
7 Computer Hope Virginia is trying to become respectable and this could be a coming out season for the Cavaliers. I’m very interested to see how the defense does after they gave up 33.8PPG a season ago. This unit should improve immensely given the talent on board. DE Andrew Brown is a monster on the edge if he can stay healthy & is a potential NFL 1st Rd. pick. LB Micah Kiser is an All-American & LB Jordan Mack was outstanding last year as a true frosh & he’ll get even better. S Quin Blanding is fantastic on the hunt & UVA’s corners are all 6’2 or better! The offense is just OK & I think RB Taquan Mizzell is a big loss but QB Kurt Benkert should improve.

ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

ATLANTIC ACC CHAMPIONSHIP COASTAL
Computer Hope This might seem like another win for Clemson on their road to repeating as National Champions, but I like this game because Miami-FL’s real strength resides in their O-Line. I think Clemson is going to win the Atlantic because I don’t think anyone really has an answer for their Front-7 on defense, but Miami-FL has an offensive line that should be good enough to give the Hurricanes some time to utilize their skill position players. I don’t think it’ll be enough this year as Clemson wins their 3rd straight ACC title. Computer Hope
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August 27, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami-FL, NC State, NCAA, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 LB FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 INTERIOR DL FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

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

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

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

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

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 | 5 Comments

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 8 – BIG GAMES

ROAD QUICK THOUGHTS HOME
Computer Hope There aren’t any other games on the schedule that Utah can’t win, but this one looks odd. USC will have had some time to digest the loss of their HC & I still think Clay Helton has a legitimate case for being the permanent head coach. It’s not like the Trojans are getting blown out either. Two of their 3 losses have come by 10 points. The other was a 17-12 loss to Washington amidst the Sarkisian insanity. From a talent perspective USC is better & Cody Kessler is the type of QB that can win a game all by himself. Vegas has USC as 3.5pt favorites for a reason! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Third Saturday in October. What a great name to a rivalry! I was reading an article that was talking about how this rivalry wasn’t what it used to be, but when you look at this rivalry historically it’s nothing but runs. Alabama has won 8 straight but before that Tennessee had won 10 of 12. There is an argument to be made that recently Alabama’s run has been particularly heavy. In the last 8 meetings Alabama has won by an average score of 35-12. I think this one is closer. UT has a “best case” record of 6-0 & the East is still in play for them I think. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A lot of validation for both teams on the line here. The Sooners are so odd. They get beat by Texas in the Red River Rivalry 24-17 & then turn around & beat Kansas St. 55-0! That’s nuts. The Red Raiders are 5-2 with their only losses coming against Baylor & TCU, but haven’t really played anyone outside of Arkansas. A win over Oklahoma clearly makes Texas Tech the 3rd best team in the conference with a legit shot at an 11-2 record. A Sooners wins still allows OU to determine their own fate as they could still get to 11-1 with wins over TCU & Baylor. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Interesting game in that the stud Pac 12 QB of right now (Jared Goff) is going up against the stud Pac 12 QB of the future (Josh Rosen). California is still very much a part of the playoff race at 5-1. Their only loss is a 6pt affair on the road against Utah. The Bears schedule toughens up from this point forward, but I think it’s a great story of Sonny Dykes rebuilding this program and taking it to heights that Jeff Tedford couldn’t quite get to. UCLA seems like a snake bitten team getting ready for a HUGE run in 2016, but the talent is still incredible. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s going to be very interesting to see how Ole Miss plays the rest of the season out. The SEC could easily get squeezed out of the playoff picture should Ole Miss play well. They get Texas A&M & LSU at home & their road games are winnable. Even with the loss to Memphis, if Ole Miss finishes 10-2 & Alabama finishes 11-1, Ole Miss wins the SEC West. An Aggies win here puts those fears to bed & also keeps hope alive with Texas A&M in their quest to be considered the 2nd best team in the SEC West. Let’s see if Ole Miss can follow Bama’s blueprint. Computer Hope
Computer Hope You can’t help but think Texas beat Oklahoma 24-17 and then Oklahoma beat Kansas St. 55-0, so what is Texas going to do to Kansas State? The Wildcats are 3-3 & haven’t really beaten anyone but they came pretty close against TCU & Oklahoma St. before the blowout loss to Oklahoma. I think a lot more is on the line for Texas in this one. This should be a game they can win & it will reinforce the notion that UT is a lot better than people think & losses to California, Notre Dame, Oklahoma St. & TCU aren’t all that bad. A big win here gives UT a boost. Computer Hope
Computer Hope You look around & Florida St. is a top-10 team, but it feels off because despite being 6-0, FSU hasn’t beaten a good team convincingly that would give you the impression that they are a serious playoff threat. Clemson is getting that attention from the ACC at the moment. Then you look at how well Everett Golson is playing. RB Dalvin Cook should be a Heisman favorite. The defense is playing incredibly well. What is there not to like about this team!? GT has been disappointing but I still think they have a game or two in them that could surprise some people. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think this is an interesting SEC inter-divisional game. I think Mississippi St. has done a good job beating teams they should beat which has led them to a 5-2 record & just one win shy of bowl eligibility. Kentucky is a better team than you think. They are 4-2 but their 2 losses have come by a total of 8 points & the Wildcats lost to Florida by a 14-9 final score! Starkville isn’t an easy place to play, but I think Kentucky can make this a close game especially if Patrick Towles is on. The Bulldogs keep grinding though. They could get to 9-10 wins this season. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I don’t think Clemson is going to get this far only to lose to Miami-FL who has a HC that is essentially walking on thin ice every time he comes onto the field. On the other hand, Miami-FL probably isn’t as bad as we think. They have wins over Nebraska & Virginia Tech. Granted, they are wins in 2015 and not 2005 or 1995, but they were solid home wins. They also played Florida St. pretty tough in Tallahassee in a 29-24 loss. Outside of the meltdown in Cincinnati, THE U has been fairly decent & they get Clemson at home. There is upset potential here. Computer Hope
Computer Hope At this rate there is no team falling further than Northwestern. Even Ole Miss can justify a loss to Memphis given how well the Tigers are playing. Northwestern has gone from 5-0 & potentially a top-5 team to 5-2 & everyone wondering how in the world this team managed to beat Stanford & Duke! Northwestern can get back on track with a solid road win over a Nebraska team that is feeling quite jilted this season. The Cornhuskers are 3-4 but their “best case” record is 7-0! If Lady Luck turns around Nebraska could easily give the Wildcats their 3rd loss in as many games. Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Owls got a lot of early season love with wins over Penn St. & Cincinnati to open up the season, but playing in the AAC isn’t difficult & Temple hasn’t played Memphis, Houston or Navy yet. East Carolina is no slouch either. The Pirates are 4-3 but their 3 losses have come to BYU, Navy & Florida with the Florida & BYU losses being close. All 3 losses were also on the road. Teams have done a good job running on ECU & Temple is run heavy. That’s a good thing but the Owls need to stay focused. With Notre Dame next week, they can’t overlook East Carolina. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Old school Big East match up & I love these kinds of games. Pittsburgh has quietly started the season 5-1 with their only loss being a 27-24 loss at Iowa. That’s getting it done. I wasn’t sure how well the Panthers would adjust after losing James Connor but Qadree Ollison has stepped up & QB Nate Peterman is having a fine season. The problem here is Pittsburgh proving themselves. They haven’t played all that difficult of a schedule & you could argue 4 wins have been close. The ACC Coastal is theirs for the taking but Syracuse is a tough team. They’ll show up. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A lot bigger game before the season began, these two teams are 2 of the more disappointing teams in the nation. Auburn comes into this game at 4-2 while Arkansas limps in at 2-4. I think this game could be an interesting jump off point for both teams. Arkansas can play with anyone. A win here could catapult them & a 7-5 season could definitely be in the works. For Auburn, it’s easy to forget their only losses are to LSU & Mississippi St.! This is a very talented team who gets Alabama at home. Would anyone be completely shocked if they finished the year 10-2? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Boston College ranks 4th in the NCAA in scoring defense. They rank #1 in rushing defense. They rank #5 in passing defense. They rank #1 in total defense. By all accounts you can easily make the case that Boston College has the best defense in the nation. Boston College is 3-4. Statistically speaking there isn’t a thing Boston College doesn’t do right. They’ve already played Clemson, Florida St. & Duke. All 3 were losses. If they can beat Louisville then there is 4 wins on the schedule to get them to 7-4 with a game against Notre Dame. It’s one of the more fascinating stories of 2015. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Sort of like Texas, Virginia might be a lot better than you think, but their schedule has been so difficult it’s hard to see it through the losses. UVa has lost to UCLA, Notre Dame, Boise St. & Pittsburgh. That’s 0-4 for a lot of teams. Last week they beat Syracuse 44-38. Nothing great, but Virginia isn’t a bad team. North Carolina under Larry Fedora could potentially be turning a corner this year. The Tar Heels are 5-1 with a fluke loss to South Carolina to open the season. They get Duke at home & don’t draw Clemson or FSU. I think 11-1 is on the table & maybe 12-1? Computer Hope
Computer Hope MAC game of the week! Toledo is beating down everyone in their path & UMass is 1-5 so I don’t expect this game to be much different, but it is a road affair for the Rockets & UMass has shown signs of being decent in the past. They have a couple of close losses so 1-5 could easily be 3-3. They put up 38 on Bowling Green & played with Notre Dame for a half before getting blown out. Toledo’s defense is probably going to be overwhelming. It’s a legit top defense statistically & I don’t think there is a MAC team with their kind of ability. Hopefully they can get to 13-0. Computer Hope

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Games, Boston College, California, Clemson, East Carolina, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Kansas St., Kentucky, Louisville, Massachusetts, Miami-FL, Mississippi, Mississippi St., Must See Games, NCAA, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas AM, Texas Tech, Toledo, UCLA, USC, Utah, Virginia, Week 8 | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 2 BIG GAMES

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

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

2015 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 ACC PREVIEW and PREDICTIONS

RANK ATLANTIC COMMENTS
#1 OFFENSE: Clemson is close to taking a big leap & it should come this year when the offensive cupboard comes back full. The Tigers are 42-11 the last 4 seasons. It’s time to get to the next level. QB Deshaun Watson returns after being DOMINANT in his first 6 games before suffering an injury. A QB with the ability to run, Watson could emerge as the league’s best QB if he stays healthy. Clemson also returns their top rusher in Wayne Gallman & their top-3 receivers including Mike Williams who had over 1000yds last season with an 18.1ypc average! Gallman ran for 769yds as a true frosh. WR Artavis Scott was a great possession receiver. He, Williams, Watson & Gallman all could be 1st team All-ACC! The one weakness of the offense could be the O-line which loses 3 starters, but the talent coming in is ridiculous & LT Isaiah Battle could be all-conference. Clemson will get back to scoreing 40+PPG this year. DEFENSE: The losses are IMMENSE! Clemson runs mostly out of a nickle package & runs a 4-2-5. The front-6 is gone & 4 of those 6 players were NFL Draft picks, 1 was a 1st team All-American & 3 were 1st team All-ACC! Most notably gone is Vic Beasley, but Grady Jarrett, Stephone Anthony Garry Peters & Tony Steward were also big time losses. The secondary returns 3 of 5 starters & there is some extreme talent in CB Mackensie Alexander & S Jayron Kearse. As with the offense, there is a lot of talent spread out here with the only question being production. The D-line averages 6’4/293lbs!!! DEs Kevin Dodd (6’5/275lbs) & Shaq Lawson (6’3/275lbs) will be fun to watch. The defense won’t be nearly as good, but they don’t have to be. SCHEDULE: Notre Dame & South Carolina in the OOC is tough but both at home. They also get GT & FSU at home! They avoid Virginia Tech. I think Clemson takes the next step. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 5-7
#2 OFFENSE: It’s Florida St. so it’s not like they’ll fall off the map, but there was a special group of players in Tallahassee that was able to win 29 straight games including the 2013 National Championship. Gone from the offense this season is QB Jameis Winston, WR Rashad Greene & 4 starting O-Linemen. Also gone is all-world TE Nick O’Leary who was a tremendous difference maker. The Seminoles have some nice pieces returning including former ND QB Everett Golson but even Winston couldn’t replicate the magic of 2013 last year when FSU dropped from 51.6PPG to 33.7! The skill position players should also be outstanding with RB Dalvin Cook & WRs Travis Rudolph, Ermon Lane, George Campbell & Jesus Wilson. Cook could be a sneaky All-American candidate. Everyone here is talented but it’ll be a matter of how well this unit gels. DEFENSE: FSU brings back 7 starters on defense & 5 of their top-6 tacklers but the losses are enormous. DE Mario Edwards, DT Eddie Goldman, CB PJ Williams & CB Ronald Darby! These weren’t just 4 NFL Draft picks. They were 4 NFL Draft picks in the first 3 rounds! It’s worth noting that even with thse 4 playing last season, FSU still allowed 25.6PPG which was up from 12.1PPG in their championship season. Obviously there is talente everywhere & FSU has a couple of potential All-Americans in CB Jalen Ramsey & LB Terrance Smith. What Florida St. didn’t do a great job of last year is putting pressure on the QB. OLBs Chris Casher & Trey Marshall are going to have to edge rush. The interior D-line is going to have to get pressure too. I like the LBs so FSU just needs to gel. SCHEDULE: FSU avoids VA Tech from the Coastal, but has road games against Georgia Tech & Clemson. Outside of those 2 games, this schedule is ridiculously easy which portends well for a playoff run. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 6-6
#3 OFFENSE: Give a lot of credit to HC Dave Doeren who in his 2nd season improved NC State’s offense by almost 8pts & took the Wolfpack from 3-9 to 8-5 & a bowl win. The offense returns 8 starters from a unit that averaged 30.2PPG & I love how the offense is doing it. NC State is a run first football team that is relying on QB Jacoby Brissett not to make errors. RBs Shadrach Thornton & Matt Dayes combined to rush for 1480yds/17TD while Brissett chipped in 500+ of his own! Brissett also took care of the football throwing just 5 picks to 23TD! The QB compelted just 60% of his passes, but if his accuracty gets better, the Wolfpack just get more dangerous. NC State returns 3 of their top-4 receivers & 4 O-Linemen from a line that blocked for runners who averaged 5.2ypc! That’s amazing. I really like what this team could do. DEFENSE: While the improvement wasn’t as big, NC State improved its defense by 3pts & return 8 starters! I think all 3 levels will be better this year. Six of the back-7 return including the entire secondary! CB Jack Tocho has some skills & could be all-conference as could LB Jerod Fernandez. Overall I like the secondary. Both corners are 6’0 or better & the safeties are 6’2. The D-Line has me excited. Mike Rose is a player at DE & can cause some disruption. That should allow the opposite DE some room and I think Bradley Chubb & Darian Roseboro can take advantage. BJ Hill & Kentavius Street are the DTs. A big key to NC State’s season will be the continued improvement from the defense. I like the players here as NC State keeps getting better & better. SCHEDULE: They do get Clemson at home although it won’t be easy. They also draw a road game against Virginia Tech out of the Coastal but that’s about it. This is an easy schedule with a lot of home games. The Wolfpack could get to 10 wins. BEST CASE: 9-3; WORST CASE: 6-6
#4 OFFENSE: It’s pretty amazing that HC Bobby Petrino can come in and lose a QB who compelted 70% of his passes & was close to QBing an NFL team to the playoffs and yet still get the offense to come in just 4pts short on average of what the team did the year prior under a different HC! Petrino might make some questionable decisions in his personal life, but the man can coach a football team! The Cardinals bring back just 5 starters but included in those 5 are QB Will Gardner, RB Brandon Radcliff & WR James Quick. That might be enough! There are defenitly some losses as WR DeVante Parker is a big loss, but Quick & Ja’Quay Savage & Jamari staples & Keith Towbridge are going to make a tremendous receiving corps! Gardner already makes good decision. The O-Line took on losses but I’m not sure it matters. This offense will be potent. Petrino guarantees it! DEFENSE: The D suffers some losses as only 4 starters return but 3 of those 4 starters were 3 of the top-4 tacklers from a season ago. The front-7 will have to figure out a way to get pressure in their 3-4 scheme. Losing OLBs Lorenzo Mauldin & Deiontrez Mount has to be overcome by Ketih Brown & Devonte Fields. DE Sheldon Rankins is an all-conference DE that can get pressure on the QB so he should provide some help there. LBs Keith Kelsey & James Burgess should clean up the messes. L’Ville loses their entire secondary & it’s troubling. Gerod Hollimon is a HUGE loss. CB Charles Gaines is a HUGE loss. There is a lot talent back there including UGA transfers Josh Harvey-Clemons & Shaq Wiggins. I’m bullish on the defense as I think it’ll come together. SCHEDULE: They draw NC State on the road & Petrino hasn’t put enough talent together yet for Florida St./Clemson. Auburn/Kentucky OOC won’t be easy but this schedule isn’t too bad really. This feels low. BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 6-6
#5 OFFENSE: HC Steve Addazio loves running the football & Boston College has used this strategy to some degree of success in his first 2 seasons as BC has posted a couple of 7-5 records although they are 0-2 in bowls. This year the Eagles return 4 starters, losing their starting QB, starting RB, leading receivers & their entire O-Line! That might spell disaster but remember last year that BC returned just 2 starters & lost All-American RB Andre Williams. That didn’t seem to matter as BC actually rushed for more yards per game than they did with Williams! Despite these losses, I think Addazio is so good with the offense that it might not matter. A couple of things need to happen though. Last year QB Tyler Murphy made too many mistakes. New QB Darius Wade needs to cut those down. Also RB Jon Hilliman needs to run better. Those things happen & BC will be fine. DEFENSE: Under Addazio the Eagles have been A LOT better at getting pressure on the QB. This year BC brings back their entire D-line & I’d expect DEs Kevin Kavalec & Mike Strizak to get even more pressure than they did last season. DTs Truman Gutapfel & Connor Wujciak are 6’3/300lbs DTs who get pressure as well giving BC arguably the best D-Line in the ACC. MLB Steven Daniels returns as well. BC loses their entire secondary except for S Justin Simmons who led the team in tackles a year ago. Josh Johnson & Isaac Yiadom will have to hold the edges down but with such a good D-line they shouldn’t feel a ton of pressure. I like the makeup of this defense a lot. SCHEDULE: You can win a lot of games by having a good running attack paired with a great pass rush! BC avoids the big boys out of the Coastal although they do get VA Tech. An OOC against Notre Dame won’t be easy either. They’d be a lot higher if they weren’t so inexperienced. BEST CASE: 8-4; WORST CASE: 3-9
#6 OFFENSE: I think what is unfortunate sometimes about teams is that they get locked into tough QB situations and really don’t know how to get out of them. This isn’t as pronounced in college football as it can be in the NFL due to contracts and what not, but you sort of find Syracuse in this predicatment with Terrell Hunt. Hunt is a pretty nice talent at at 6’3/234lbs definitely looks the part of a QB, but he’s never really been that good and Syracuse has never really had anyone better behind him to come & take his place. Last year Hunt went down & clearly Syracuse’s offense was dreadful as AJ Long & Austin Wilson tried to pick up the pieces, but neither QB was inspiring. The Orange averaged 17.1PPG last year & Hunt returns with 4 starting O-Linemen but he loses a bunch of skill players. Overall this just doesn’t look good for HC Scott Shafer. DEFENSE: Syracuse had been decent defensively the last few years, but this year the Orange return just 3 starters from a unit that allowed 24PPG & lose their top-5 tacklers and 7 of their top-8 top tacklers! DE Ron Thompson has some talent off the edge, but like the offense this is another work in progress for Shafer & his staff. The problem I’m seeing mostly with Syracuse is that physically they don’t match up well. The DEs seem a bit small, even Thompson. One of the DTs is 6’0 & they have a LB at 5’11 & a safety at 5’8. That’s all well and good if your LB is Chris Borland and your S is Bob Sanders, but that isn’t the case with Syracuse. It looks like this might be a tough year. SCHEDULE: Syracuse is tough because I think having them good at football is a positive, but it’s a positive when they are coming out of the Big East. It’s not as necessary if them being good prevents an historically good ACC team from being competitive. Syracuse is finding the road a bit tough in their conference: BEST CASE: 4-8; WORST CASE: 1-11
#7 OFFENSE: Most of the time you are beholden to your QB if you want to have success in football. Just look at the QBs who were in last year’s first ever college football playoffs? There were 2 Heisman winners! Last year QB John Wolford was the first QB in about 40 years to start his first game at Wake Forest. The results were predictable as Wolford completed 58% of his passes for 2037yds with 12TD to 14INT. The Demon Deacons’ offense was split 50/50 between rush & pass so HC Dave Clawson wasn’t exactly throwing Wolford to the wolves, but the young QB did have to make some plays. Wake averaged just 14.8PPG en route to a 3-9 record headlined by an incredible 6-3 OT victory over Virginia Tech! Wolford has some weapons returning this year & a year of experience. They aren’t going back to the Riley Skinner days just yet, but should score more than 14 per game! DEFENSE: Wake Forest has been pretty decent defensively the last couple of seasons & that should continue this year. Wake returns 6 of it’s front-7 including their top-3 tacklers. S Ryan Janvion, LB Brandon Chubb & LB Marquel Lee all posted 100+ tackles a season ago. Chubb, Lee & LB Hunter Williams could be all-conference giving Wake a dynamite LB corps. The Deacons also return 3 starters on the line including NT Tyler Harris who could be All-ACC. DEs Duke Ejiofor & Wendell Dunn have great size and while Wake loses both corners from a season ago, the front-7 should be able to take some pressure off the new starters. This is a solid defense so the offense needs to catch up. SCHEDULE: Tough break getting both Syracuse & Boston College on the road or else I probably would have had Wake at #5. OOC against Army, Indiana & Notre Dame is tough. Atlantic is top heavy & they draw UNC from the Coastal. BEST CASE: 6-6; WORST CASE: 1-11

 

ACC ATLANTIC OVERALL OUTLOOK: This is probably the most top heavy division in college football. You have Clemson & Florida St. who dominate this division in recruiting & then there are the other 5 teams. This division essentially comes down to the Noles & Tigers, but something to watch for this year if you want to go a little deeper into the conference is how the other teams are trying to adapt without having the superstar talent that Clemson & Florida State do. With Lousville you obviously have a superior coach that loves to run that spread offense. With NC State & Boston College, you definitely have a couple of teams that like to ground & pound while controlling the clock. I think Syracuse & Wake Forest are still finding an identity, but it is intersting to see how the other 5 will combat the dominance of the other 2. I think Louisville will join them shortly. Petrino is too good and he’s already shown he can take a program to the top. Remember what he was doing at Arkansas before he was let go. That is him getting it done in the SEC West for crying out loud! I also think NC State & Boston College are good programs with some history behind them. It’ll be Clemson & Florida State once again this year, but the others are coming.

 

RANK COASAL COMMENTS
#1 I want to look at Georgia Tech holistically rather than breaking them down. Before last season there was some talk of HC Paul Johnson being the hot seat and that maybe the best solution was for him to take his triple option offense & move on. Then stemmed primarily from what happened to GT from 2010 to 2013. That was a 4-year period where GT had records of 6-7, 8-5, 7-7 & 7-6. Not great. But in that 4 year span Georgia Tech was 7-15 in close games. Obviously this cuts both ways, but if GT wins their close games in those 4 seasons, their records would have been 10-3, 10-3, 10-4, and 10-3. That isn’t national title worthy but if you add those records to GT’s 11-3 in 2014 then you’d have 51 wins in 5 years. The only other BCS teams to do that are: Alabama, LSU, Ohio St., Michigan St., Stanford, Oregon, Oklahoma & Florida State! That’s ELITE company! Don’t forget either that GT won the Coastal in 2012 & 2014 and lost both ACC Championship games to FLorida St. by a combined 8 points despite being a combined 18-point dog! Of course you can’t look at it that way, but I think GT gave us a glimpse of what happens when you have an ELITE QB like Justin Thomas running the triple option & the Yellow Jackets catch a couple of breaks. What’s scary this year is Thomas returns & the GT O-Line returns 4 starters! Even better is that the defense returns 8 starters including 8 of their top-10 tacklers & 15 of their top-18! LB Quayshawn Nealy is a big loss but I think GT can overcome that. The bad news for the ACC is that Thomas is just a junior. The schedule is brutal for GT in that they have Georgia & Notre Dame OOC and also draw Florida St. & Clemson from the Atlantic! They do host Virginia Tech but play at Miami-FL. I’m not sure it matters. This is the kind of team you simply DO NOT want to face in a playoff game! BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 6-6
#2 OFFENSE: Virginia Tech hasn’t had an offense this good since Tyrod Taylor’s final year in 2011 when the Hokies won the ACC & finished with an 11-3 record. Tech returns 8 starters from a unit that averaged 24.1PPG, but I’d expect those numbers to rise significantly in 2015. QB Michael Brewer comes into his 2nd season as a starter after throwing for almost 2700yds & 18TD. He’s got to get better with his accuracy (59%) & his decision making (18TD/15INT), but he’d got quite a bit of help. RBs Marshawn Williams & JC Coleman give the Hokies some “thunder & lightning” flavor. Isaiah Ford, Cam Phillips. Buckye Hodges & Ryan Malleck all return to form a solid & big recieving corps. The O-Line returns 3 starters with LT Jonthan McLaughlin having All-ACC potential. They need to get better in pass protection, but I think they will. This is a good offense with upside. DEFENSE: The D returns 8 starters from a unit that allowed 20.2PPG including the entire D-Line which has to be a scary thought given that DC Bud Foster is arguably the best DC in the nation! DEs Dadi Nicolas & Ken Ekanem are monsters. DTs Corey Marshall & Luther Maddy can collapse a pocket & get pressure from the inside. This is the best D-line in the ACC & arguably the best D-Line in the nation! The Hokies were #4 in the nation in sacks with 48! Expect more of the same. The secondary is SCARY. Kendall Fuller is an All-American at CB. Brandon Facyson was a 1st Team Frosh All-American last year & is a 6’2 CB! S Chuck Clark was beast! Arguably the best secondary in the nation & this might be the best defense in the nation. Look out! SCHEDULE: At GT makes me put VT in 2nd. They draw Ohio St. OOC which will be tough but avoid Florida St. & Clemson. Only other difficult road game is in Coral Gables. This team is excellent! BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 9-3 (they are that good!)
#3 Like Georgia Tech, I’m not going to break down the Panthers according to script. In fact I think publications would be ranking them a lot higher if not for new HC Pat Narduzzi getting his first taste of leading a program & even then it might not matter. I would not sleep on this team. RB James Conner is an All-American RB & rushed for 1765yds/29TD last season! WR Tyler Boyd racked up 1261yds/8TD as the go to receiver & QB Chad Voytik will not be a veteran starter instead of a 1st timer. The O-line returns 3 starters & averages 6’5/318lbs! Boyd & Conner could be 1st Team All-Americans! Defensively the Panthers return 7 starters. I think they’ll improve at every level outside of LB where they lose Anthony Gonzalez & Todd Thomas who were their 2 leading tacklers. There are no obvious standout players but I’d watch CB Avonte Maddox & S Patric Amara. DT Tyrique Jarrett & LB Mat Galambos could also make qutie a bit of noise. It’s easy to forget that Pittsburgh is a traditional power in college football. I think the move to the ACC was an interesting one & I think their situation is somewhat comparable to Syracuse in that I love it when Pittsburgh is good & I think PITT being good is good for college football but there are only so many spots at the big table & when you get these giant conferences, some schools get edged out. I think this is inherently what happened with the Big East. The Big East was an amazing conference and I hate that it isn’t around any longer. For the season I wouldn’t sleep on the Panthers. I don’t think they’ll be quite as good as either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech, but they can make noise especially getting UNC & Miami-FL at home. The OOC is rough with Iowa & Notre Dame and they also draw Louisville from the Atlantic, but their toughest road games are VaTech & GaTech. This should be a good year. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 5-7
#4 OFFENSE: The Tar Heels have to be feeling FANTASTIC this season returning 10 starters on offense! Their only loss was TE Jack Tabb who wasn’t much of a factor. QB Marquise WIliams after having a solid season last year completing 63% of his passes for 3068yds & 21TD. He also led the team in rushing but the combo of Elijah Hood & TJ Logan  should really give the Heels multiple options to carry the ball. UNC returns their top-4 receivers including Ryan Switzer who led the team in passing but also Mack Hollins (6’4) & Quinshad Davis (6’4)! Switzer is the ultimate slot receiver between those two giants. The O-line returns intact & had 3 potential 1st Team All-ACC players with G Landon Turner being an All-American candidate. The O-Line should be amazing this season & one of the best in the ACC. UNC averaged 33.2PPG last year. That should get close to 40 in 2015. DEFENSE: The HUGE problem! Carolina returns 7 starters from a unit that allowed 39PPG last season! EEK! DT Ethan Farmer could be a decent sized loss but for the most part this was just a terrible defense. Carolina can recruit football so there is talent here. Jalen Dalton is a 6’6/260lbs DE who could make an immediate impact. I think Dajaun Drennon (6’4/250lbs) would be good at the other DE now that he isn’t a frosh. CB Brian Walker as skills & the entire secondar returns intact. DT Nazair Jones & LB Jeff Schoettmer could be all-ACC players. Carolina is interesting because everything seems to work. The D-Line is big in the right places. The LBs are big & talented. The secondary is experienced. There should be a marked improvement. SCHEDULE: They draw Wake & NC State from the Atlantic & get Miami-FL at home. They do have to travel to GT & VT which is a huge disadvantage, but if not this year then when? Ten wins is definitely possible. BEST CASE: 10-2; WORST CASE: 5-7
#5 OFFENSE: Miami returns 5 starters from an offense that averaged 29.2PPG. There are some significant injuries here with RB Duke Johnson, WR Phillip Dorsett, TE Clive Walford, C Shanke McDermott & LT Ereck Flowers. Four of the 5 players were All-ACC a year ago so their loss will be felt. On the other hand, Miami gets QB Brad Kaaya back  for his sophomore season. Kaaya did OK for a frosh throwing for 3200yds/26TD. Like a lot of young guys in college he can improve his decision making & accuracy but he’s light years of where he was last season. Joe Yearby takes over for Johnson & Yearby is solid. Stacy Coley, Herb Waters, Malcolm Lewis & Braxton Berrios return at WR. The O-Line has just 2 starters returning but they are all big & talented. The O-Line is a big question mark but “THE U” has plenty at the skill positions. I think they’ll be fine. DEFENSE: What makes the Hurricanes “THE U” is the defense. Sure the offense has produced some amazing football players, but when I think Hurricanes football I think big time defense. The Canes bring back 6 to a unit tht allowed 24.3PPG which isn’t horrible but not exactly Miami standards either. The losses of Anthony Chickillo, Denzel Perryman & Ledarius Gunter are going to be felt but there is some talent returning. The LBs are strong with Raphael Kirby, Jermaine Grace & Tyriq McCord. That should be the strongest level of the defense, but I wouldn’t count out the D-Line either. DEs Chad Thomas & Al-Quadin Muhammad could be exceptional. The secondary returns both safeties with Deon Bush being possible All-ACC. There is immense talent here to be sure & now we just need to see how it gels. SCHEDULE: They draw Clemson & FSU out of the Coastal! They also play at UNC & Pitt. GT & VaTech come to Coral Gables. OOC against Nebraska & Cincinnati. It’s tough! BEST CASE: 12-0; WORST CASE: 3-9
#6 OFFENSE: Duke hasn’t scored less than 30PPG since 2011! The Blue Devils bring back 6 starters on offense & lose their QB & top-2 WRs but I’m not sure it’ll be that big of a deal. Duke returns RBs duo Shaquille Powell & Shaun Wilson who combed to rush for over 1200yds & 7TD last year. They run a little lightning & thunder act that is effective if not spectacular. Duke also returns 3 O-Linemen but 4 of the 5 starters are upper-classmen who I think will work out fine. They do lose QB Anthony Boone but I’m not so sure that isn’t a bad thing. Boone completed just 56% of his passes with 19TD to 8INT. Thomas Sirk steps in to take his place. Sirk is a kid who can run but has a big arm that get the ball down the field. The 3 returning starters on offense could be all-ACC type players so Sirk should be protected. David Cutcliffe’s resume speaks for itself. Duke will find a way to score. DEFENSE: Duke returned 5 starters in 2014 & allowed a spectacular 21.4PPG! This year they return 7 starters including 7 of their top-10 tacklers. LB David Helton is a HUGE loss at MLB but Kelby Brown was a 1st Team ALL ACC player in 2013 before missing all of last season with an injury & he’ll replace Helton so the loss might not be as bad. LB DeVon Edwards racked up 133 tackles himself so the LB unit is outstanding! Another important factor in Duke’s defense is that their entire secondary is back! Ohio St. transfer Jeremy Cash wa an all-ACC player lasst year leading this veteran unit. The D-Line might not be as good as the back-7 but are are some upside guys here although they aren’t overly. Duke is 19-8 over the last 2 seasons! WOW. SCHEDULE: OOC is a joke outside of Northwestern. They draw Wake & BC out of the Atlantic whic is a HUGE bonus & get Pitt & Miami-FL at home. It’s really a schedule that Duke can take advantage of & go bowling. BEST CASE: 8-4; WORST CASE: 3-9
#7 OFFENSE: The Cavaliers return 5 starters from an offense that scored 25.8PPG last season. It’s sort of a mixed bag really. The good news is that UVA didn’t lose anyone in particular that could be considered a big loss. The bad news is that Virginia didn’t have anyone that really performed all that great to being with. Matt Johns looks to be the starting QB but if last year is any indication, Johns needs to improve his decision making & accuracy. The skill players do have some talent. RB Taquan Mizzell looks decent and the Wahoos have some decent receivers in UNC transfer TJ Thorpe, Canaan Severin & Keeon Johnson. The O-Line had 5 returning starters & if they remain healthy should probably be the best unit on offense. I think we’ve been waiting awhile for things to click under HC Mike London but he’s so far been unsuccessful with his offense. DEFENSE: Virginia’s defense was solid last year giving up 24.1PPG but the problem is that they lose 5 of their top-6 tacklers & 7 of their top-11. DE Eli Harold is a big loss as is LBs Henry Coley, Daquan Romero & Max Valles who combined for 217 tackles! S Anthony Harris is also gone & he had 108 tackles! UVA also lost both corners. The good news is that the D-Line could be decent. DT Andrew Brown has some talent while Kwontie Moore & Mike Moore have great size at the DE. S Quin Blanding was a freshman All-American as a true frosh last year & led the team in tackles with 123! Blanding, Brown, DT David Dean & S Maruice Canady could all be all-ACC type players so there is some legit potential here. The corners & LBs will need to come through though and both are talented albeit youthful. SCHEDULE: It’s not or never for Mike London who might be coaching for his job. It’s the wrong time though as the top-5 in the Coastal are peaking & Notre Dame, UCLA & Boise St. are OOC! BEST CASE: 3-9; WORST CASE: 1-11

 

ACC COASTAL OVERALL OUTLOOK: From 1-6 this is a fantastic division. It’s not on par with the SEC West, Pac 12 North or Pac 12 South, but it’s not bad either with 6 of these teams probably going to be bowl eligible. I think the main focus in this division will be playing to the highest level. I think any of my first 5 teams could win the division so parity is through the roof. The coaches might be the most intriguing of this bunch. What separates the the SEC or Pac 12 division from this one is the coach. Narduzzi is new at Pittsburgh. You have to think Fedora (UNC), Goldon (Miami-FL) & London (Virginia) are on short leashes. Also Johnson (GT), Cutcliffe (Duke) & Beamer (VT) are all sort of getting up there in age and they are probably at their destination jobs although I could see Johnson coach if GT had decided to make a change. How well the old guard does is also interesting. The other thing to look for here is upside. We know GT & VT are going to be great, but it’ll be intersting to see if Pitt, UNC or Miami-FL can make a leap this year & join the top-2. One things is for certain, you can’t really go wrong with this division. I really like it, but I’m still saying Georgia Tech takes down the crown!

September 2, 2015 Posted by | ACC, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami-FL, NC State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Predictions, Previews, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

2014 NCAA WEEK 11 – GAMES OF THE WEEK

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Big 10 naysayers won’t particularly get that this is the biggest game of the week, but this is most likely the de facto Big 10 championship game with the winner likely moving on to a 12-1 record & a Big 10 title. The conference has a lot riding on Michigan St. in my opinion. If Ohio St. manages to win the game then the Big 10 probably doesn’t get its champion into the football playoff. Getting the Spartans there is a long shot but given Ohio St.’s strength of schedule & a brutal loss to Virginia Tech in Columbus, the Buckeyes have no chance should they win the Big 10. One great thing that could come out of a Big 10 team not making the playoffs is that it will force Big 10 teams to schedule more difficult teams.
If I could only watch one game I’d pick Alabama/LSU over Michigan St./Ohio St., and it should live up to its billing. Everything is on the line for Alabama from this point forward. The Tide get LSU, Auburn, and Mississippi St. in 3 of their last 4 games. I love the strategy inherent in the game. LSU has to run the football & they’ve been most successful when they are running effectively. Of course, running on Alabama’s defense is suicide. On the other side of the ball, LSU seems weakest in their rush defense. LSU has grown up a lot this season, but this is a tall task. If LSU comes out ahead can we just have a 5 team playoff between Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi St. & LSU?
Things start to get really tough for Kansas State at this point. The loss to Auburn looks better & better as War Eagle keeps winning, but the Wildcats now finally get into the meat of their schedule. Arguably the 3 best teams in the conference make up 3 of their last 4 games. Sure they did get a win over Oklahoma in Norman so you can’t count K-State out. They should be confident, but I still hold some sort of skepticism about their chances. This of course is TCU’s biggest game left. What’s amazing is that if TCU wins this game they sill need to hope that Baylor loses just one more time. If that doesn’t happen, Baylor is B12 champs.
The Irish are taking a flogging regarding their schedule of late, but this weekend gives them an opportunity to go on the road & get a sizable win. With as much talk as Alabama receives about their current #5 ranking in the playoff picture, the Irish garner almost as much attention from their #10 ranking! The Irish shouldn’t be overly worried. If Kansas St. & Michigan St. lose this weekend, then a win by the Irish could propel ND to #7. If Baylor wins out the committee can’t put TCU over the Irish which puts them at #6. The same is true for Arizona State. If they win & Sparty & K-State lose they’ll jump to #7. They won’t need as much help but a 12-1 ASU team has a legit claim.
Oklahoma is pretty much done as far as playoffs are concerned with their 2 losses, but the Sooners still have a shot at finishing 10-2 & possibly 11-2 if they win a bowl game. That’s an incredible season by any metric. With West Virginia dropping a game to TCU last week Baylor’s loss to the Mountaineers doesn’t look as horrible now that the Bears have a win over TCU & haven’t played Kansas St. yet. They need to get by Oklahoma, but KSU proved you could win in Norman. Baylor is #12 in the playoff so they have a ton of work to do, but if they win out they’ll get wins over Oklahoma and Kansas St. down the stretch. That should catapult them at least a little.
Not any playoff implications here but both teams are 6-2 overall & 3-1 in conference play. It seems like we say this every year about Iowa, but there isn’t any excuse for the Hawkeyes not to be 8-0 right now. Losing at home to a terrible Iowa St. team looks dismal as does a 3pt road loss to Maryland. Iowa has the schedule to wind up 10-2 & Big 10 West champions. That could mean bad news for either Ohio St. or Michigan State. The same could be said of Minnesota who had no business losing to Illinois. Minnesota has to be careful here. A loss here probably dooms them to a 6-6 season given their backend schedule. A win could propel them to an upset or two.
I really like this Washington team for some reason but when I look at their schedule they simply haven’t beaten anyone of note. Against the 3 toughest teams they’ve played this season, Washington has lost all 3 games! That’s good news for UCLA who still can win the South. UCLA gave Arizona St. their one loss & hasn’t played USC yet. If they can win both of those games then the Bruins have a shot at winning the South. To this point I feel as if UCLA has been disappointing, but if they win out & finish 11-2, they could make it interesting. At #18 right now they seem like long shots. The loss to Utah really hurts them. If they avenged their loss to Oregon in the P12 championship, it would be easy.
The loss last week to TCU buried WVU’s chances at a Big XII championship but there is still quite a bit to play for. West Virginia hosts Kansas St. next week in Morgantown so the Mountaineers still have quite a bit of say as to who will win the conference even if it isn’t them. They also have quite a bit to play for in regards to getting to 10 wins. At 6-3, WVU needs to win out & win a bowl game & those are very doable. Going into Austin won’t necessarily be easy but WVU should win the game. I think it’ll be really interesting to see how West Virginia deals with the loss. After their 2 previous losses, WVU is 2-0 having outscored their opponents 87-14. That’s not good news for the Longhorns.
With Ole Miss losing, the Ducks now find themselves in the 4-team playoff although their landmines haven’t completely ended. Oregon played for the national championship back in 2010, but it always seems like they have the ability to shoot themselves in the foot. With the 4-team playoff the Arizona loss hasn’t been disaster, but to me this game against Utah has the same feel as maybe last year’s game at Arizona or even the 2009 game against Stanford. That isn’t to say Utah isn’t good. The Utes are incredible & could make a GREAT argument at being 8-0 right now & in the playoff mix. They’ve already beaten USC & UCLA so don’t expect them to be intimidated.
While the heat might have died down just for a bit following Michigan’s 34-10 win over Indiana, the Brady Hoke storyline is still something I think terribly interesting. What I find pretty interesting is that I think Michigan pulled the trigger on Rich Rodriguez way too early, but they might be making the same mistake. While Michigan is an unacceptable 4-5, they are -13 in TO margin with essentially no QB. Michigan’s defense has actually played well & there are the makings of a decent offense. This week’s game against Northwestern will be interesting because the Wildcats do have a home win over Wisconsin. Assuming Michigan loses to Ohio St. to end the season, this is a MUST WIN for bowl eligibility.
I’m not saying Kentucky is going to win this game, but I don’t think Georgia should in any way overlook the Wildcats. Remember that Kentucky put up 31 on Mississippi St., beat South Carolina (something Georgia couldn’t do) and should have beaten Florida (something else Georgia couldn’t do). Kentucky is 5-1 in Lexington with their only loss coming to the #1 ranked team in the nation. This game has huge meaning for Kentucky as well. They can’t win the SEC East but they are 5-4 with 3 left to play. This is their last home game before finishing up their season with back-to-back road games against Tennessee & Louisville. This might be their last chance for bowl eligibility & it could be an initial nail in Mark Richt’s coffin.
I don’t give Virginia hardly any chance to win this game, but the Cavaliers can make an argument they should have wins over UCLA, BYU, Duke & North Carolina. They do have wins over Pittsburgh & Louisville. I think Virginia could play Florida St. fairly tough and given how well Boston College has played lately & Florida’s win over Georgia, FSU might have a serious run at the end of the season beginning with this game. Florida St. has faced more & more adversity as the season has progressed but they almost get better when the going gets even tougher. That’s a dangerous game because you expect to always turn it on when you have to. Can UVA get out to a big lead when FSU has to turn the light on only to find it burnt out?
I’m really interesting to see how Louisville bounced back after suffering a heart wrenching defeat at home to Florida State. Boston College QB Tyler Murphy is having an incredible year & his star has made Boston College much better than I anticipated. At 6-3 with 2 home games left, BC could finish the season 8-4. They get a road game against Florida St. in a couple of weeks which could be extremely interesting especially in light of how well this game turns out against L’Ville. if Boston College handles the Cardinals then the game against FSU takes on added meaning. Steve Addazio is proving himself to be a helluva coach which begs the question of how much longer he’s at BC….or how long before BC is ACC champs?

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona St., Baylor, Big Games, Boston College, Florida St., Georgia, Iowa, Kansas St., Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Michigan St., Minnesota, Must See Games, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, TCU, Texas, UCLA, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Week 11, West Virginia | Leave a comment