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TERRIFIC 20: TOP 20 EDGE RUSHERS FOR 2017 NCAA FOOTBALL

EDGE RUSHERS!!!!! The most exciting position in football in my opinion! This position was tough because there were quite a few edge rushers who probably deserved to be included yet missed the cut since I limited my selections to the top-20. One thing that stood out is that the SEC & ACC have tremendous pass rushers this season. Catching those conference games almost ensures you’ll see a couple of elite pass rushers. What also stuck out is that you could make a decent argument that Ohio St. has 4 of the top-20 edge rushers in the nation! If there is going to be a single reason why the Buckeyes could potentially win a national championship, it’ll be because of the RELENTLESS pass rush their edge rushers can generate! It should be mind boggling.

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 Harold Landry/6’3/250lbs/SR: Landry didn’t play much as a freshman, but flashed quite a bit as a sophomore as he tied with LB Matt Milano for the BC lead in tackles for loss in 2015 with 11. That was a harbinger for things to come as Landry exploded last year racking up 16.5 sacks which led all of college football! While a 4-3DE for Boston College, Landry projects as a 34OLB at the NFL level. Regardless, the Eagles are going to get back to a bowl this year & Landry will have an incredible season.
Computer Hope Clelin Ferrell/6’5/265lbs/rSO: It was easy not to concentrate so much on Ferrell last year during Clemson’s run to a championship because the defense had guys like Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph, Carlos Watkins, Cordrea Tankersley, Dexter Lawrence & Christian Wilkins, but Ferrell was a huge part of the success racking up 6 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and a team leading 9 QB hurries. Oh by the way he was only a rFR! He returns with a ton of supporting players. He’ll go double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Jabari Zuniga/6’3/245lbs/rSO: Like Ferrell, Zuniga was another redshirt freshman having a helluva year. Zuniga finished the season for the Gators with a team leading 5 sacks, which also happened to be the most sacks by a freshman since 1987! Zuniga wasn’t highly thought of coming out of high school, but he proved to be an incredible get. In limited time last season he still managed the 5 sacks and an astonishing 11 QB hurries. If those hurries turn into sacks, Zuniga becomes an All-American.
Computer Hope Brian Burns/6’5/218lbs/SO: Burns has perfect height to be a 4-3 DE at the next level, but he’s a little light at 218lbs so it’ll be something to watch moving forward. While he might not have ideal bulk at the moment, it’s impossible to overlook the numbers the true frosh put up last season. In limited time, Burns recorded 9.5 sacks which was 2nd on the team to DeMarcus Walker’s 16. With Josh Sweat on the opposite end, Burns should be in for another huge year in what should be a playoff run for Florida State.
Computer Hope Josh Sweat/6’5/250lbs/JR:Opposing teams are screwed with FSU’s edge rushers because Burns and Josh Sweat make the list. Sweat is more of a complete package seeing that he’s 250lbs although his ceiling might not be as high as Burns. Sweat really came on down the stretch in FSU’s last 3 games against Syracuse, Florida & Michigan. In those 3 games, Sweat had 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. If Sweat keeps that momentum going in 2017 and improves from his ’16 campaign, then look out!
Computer Hope Davin Bellamy/6’5/240lbs/rSR: Bellamy is almost the ideal size for an NFL 4-3 DE. At 6’5 and almost 250lbs, Bellamy has elite physical size, but one thing that he hasn’t been able to do is transform his QB hurries into sacks. In 2015 Bellamy had 9 QB hurries yet only 3 sacks. Last season he recorded a ridiculous 17 QB hurries but manged only 5 sacks! Those numbers should be reversed! Georgia is a big time threat to win the SEC East and you’d have to think Bellamy could be a deciding factor in the SEC East.
Computer Hope Lorenzo Carter/6’6/242lbs/SR: Everything I wrote above about Bellamy is somewhat true about Carter as well. Despite his IDEAL size for a 4-3 DE, Carter has had trouble converting QB hurries to sacks. In 2015 he had 6 QB hurries but no sacks. Last year he recorded 13 QB hurries but just 5 sacks. Neither Carter or Bellamy show up on first round mock drafts for 2018 so something is up. I’m betting on both of them. The upside is simply too strong there for me to ignore them. I think they both dominate.
Computer Hope Dorance Armstrong/6’4/256lbs/JR: There wasn’t a lot to be excited about regarding Kansas football last year but along with the win over Texas, Dorance Armstrong was a HUGE bright spot for the Jayhawks campaign. Armstrong wasn’t fantastic in 2015, but he exploded last season with 10 sacks and 20 tackles for loss! Armstrong was consistent all season & he put up big numbers against some very tough offensive lines. He could be KU’s 1st first team All-American since CB Aquib Talib back in 2007.
Computer Hope Jaylon Ferguson/6’5/255lbs/rJR: Guys like Ferguson are always interesting because you wonder who exactly they got to where they are. Ferguson is from St. Francisville, LA which is about 30 or so miles north of Baton Rouge. How in the world did this guy NOT grow up an LSU fan, and how in the world did LSU NOT want to recruit the guy? It doesn’t look like LSU even offered the guy so maybe it was never on the table. Ferguson exploded last year with 14.5 sacks! He’s an All-American candidate for 2017.
Computer Hope Arden Key/6’6/255lbs/JR: Speaking of Ferguson to LSU, could you imagine the LSU defensive line if it has Ferguson and Key coming off the edge!? Good grief! How in the world would opposing QBs not get killed!? Key is a MONSTER! HC Ed Orgeron is already saying can be as good if not better than former Texas A&M, and #1 overall NFL draft pick, Myles Garrett! Those are lofty words, but Key is fully formed & is an outstanding pass rusher. Coming off shoulder surgery, let’s hope it doesn’t hinder him.
Computer Hope Joe Jackson/6’5/258lbs/SO: I wavered on throwing Jackson on this list because he’s not even projected to be a starter for THE U at DE. The Canes have seniors looking to start in Chad Thomas & Trent Harris. Both are solid players, but it’s hard to ignore what Jackson did last season as a true freshman. He led Miami in sacks with 8.5 and recorded 11.5 tackles for loss which also led the team. Jackson has incredible size at 6’5/260lbs. I’d be shocked if Jackson doesn’t get a ton of reps & net double digit sacks.
Computer Hope Marquis Haynes/6’3/222lbs/SR: Haynes doesn’t have ideal size as a 4-3 DE, but he fits the position well and has a ton of natural pass rushing ability. It’s hard to ignore his production. As a sophomore Haynes posted 10 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. Last year as a junior Haynes had 7 sacks & 11 tackles for loss but also had 8 QB hurries. It was somewhat of a surprise to see him come back for his senior season, but Haynes has the ability to post numbers that could make him an All-American candidate.
Computer Hope Marcell Frazier/6’5/265lbs/rSR: Incredible size for a DE, Frazier could think about gaining 25lbs and becoming a 3-4 DE who could provide pocket pressure off the edge. He’ll have no problem taking over for the departed Charles Harris who the Miami Dolphins took in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Frazier might be one of the most important players in college football this season because if he provides significant pressure, Missouri has a chance to shock a lot of people given their schedule.
Computer Hope Bradley Chubb/6’4/275lbs/SR: Chubb flashed enormous potential for the Wolfpack as a sophomore netting 5.5 sacks & 12 tackles for loss. Those numbers are gigantic but Chubb ranked 2nd on the team in tackles which is amazing for an edge rusher. Last year Chubb flashed for real, racking up 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss along with 7 QB hurries. Chubb has tremendous bulk at 275lbs, but he’s got a lot of speed for that size. There are a lot of very good edge rushers in the ACC, but Chubb is the best.
Computer Hope Sam Hubbard/6’5/265lbs/rJR: Hubbard didn’t go nuts last year with his stats with only 3.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss, but he’s roundly considered a first round draft pick and if you watch Ohio St. for very long, it’s not hard to see why Hubbard has as much hype surrounding him as anyone. What could prevent Hubbard from having a huge statistical season is Ohio St. having so much depth on the edge. This will be true for Tyquan Lewis as well but Nick Bosa & Jalyn Holmes are going to need reps too!
Computer Hope Tyquan Lewis/6’4/265lbs/rSR: Lewis has always been an elite pass rusher but playing in the shadow of Joey Bosa, it isn’t easy to get noticed for you own play. In his first season without Bosa, Lewis led the Buckeyes in sacks with 8, in tackles for loss with 10.5 and in QB hurries with 5. He didn’t get to come out of the Bosa family shadow for long though as little brother Nick came in and had a fantastic true frosh season. Like Hubbard, Lewis is a 1st round NFL DE, but his reps won’t be as high because of depth.
Computer Hope Breckyn Hager/6’3/227lbs/JR: KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THIS GUY! Hager had an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Longhorns despite only making 5 starts. Hager made the most of his opportunities finishing 2nd on the team in tackles, 1st in sacks and first in tackles for loss. He has a relentless motor and is constantly on the move regardless of play/position. Hager is a little light but Texas is moving to a 3-4 base defense which forces Hager to a 3-4 OLB spot which he’s more suited for. Scary!
Computer Hope Porter Gustin/6’5/260lbs/JR: Gustin didn’t get a ton of run time as a true frosh back in 2015, but he flashed hard last season for the Trojans picking up 5.5 sacks and a team leading 13 tackles for loss. Gustin is an edge rusher with incredible size at 6’5/260lbs, but he’s quick off the line and he does a great job holding the edge and containing the running game. He’s not a one trick pony to be sure. USC is this close to being back to the glory years under Pete Carroll. Gustin is a big part of that as the defense is solid.
Computer Hope Tremaine Edmunds/6’5/236lbs/JR: A 3rd team All-American last season, Edmunds is a scary sight off the edge down in Blacksburg. Giving Bud Foster an ELITE edge rusher is a thing of beauty. The last time VT had an edge rusher the caliber of Edmunds was back when Jason Worilds was playing in 2008-2009, but Worilds isn’t as good as Edmunds, wasn’t as big or have near the upside. Edmunds only had 4.5 sacks last year but 18.5 tackles for loss! He has the potential to reverse those numbers.
Computer Hope Duke Ejiofor/6’4/275lbs/rSR: Ejiofor was a big part of Wake Forest getting to a bowl game last year for the first time since 2011 and winning a bowl game for the first time since 2008. The 2008 season was also the last time Wake had a winning season before the 2016 campaign. Ejiofor got spot duty his first couple of seasons after redshirting but flashed last year when he became the starter. He led the team in sacks with 10.5 and recorded 17 tackles for loss. The ACC has a lot of outstanding edge rushers.

FIVE FRESHMAN WHO COULD MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN 2017

Jaelan Phillips/UCLA/6’6/250lbs: A consensus 5-star defensive end out of Redlands, CA, Phillips is a man-child at 6’6/250lbs which is already IDEAL size as a 4-3 edge rusher. Phillips enrolled early at UCLA and was on campus for spring practice. The Bruins hardly have anything coming back as far as pass rush is concerned so Phillips could get some run time early getting a chance to show the coaching staff that he can be an impact player right away. The only downside to Phillips potentially is his size. The kid is already 6’6/250lbs and UCLA runs a 4-3 defense. If he gains 25-30 pounds then Phillips will be a prototypical 34DE at 6’6/280lbs! There isn’t much by way of production last season in front of Phillips and opportunity is half the battle for these newcomers. I think Phillips gets a chance to shine as a true freshman.

A.J. Epenesa/Iowa/6’5/270lbs: I wanted to mention Espnesa because he is the most highly decorated recruit that committed to Iowa that I can remember. Typically the Hawkeyes don’t nail down too many no doubt 5-star studs, especially on the defensive line, but the Illinois native signed with the Iowa and Kirk Ferentz couldn’t be happier. I think opportunity is what is key for freshman contribution and that isn’t easy to see with Epenesa in Iowa City this year. Iowa already has a solid 3-man rotation at edge rusher featuring Parker Hesse, Matt Nelson and Anthony Nelson. What makes it so intriguing however, is that the Hawkeyes could easily make that a 4-man rotation by adding Epenesa  making their D-Line deeper and even more talented. It would also be incredibly BIG! Matt Nelson is 6’8/285lbs. His younger brother Anthony Nelson is 6’7/260lbs. Hesse is 6’3/260lbs and Epenesa is already 6’5/270lbs! Pass rush counts for a lot in football and because of this 4-man rotation, Iowa has a shot at the Big 10 West. I think Epenesa gets a chance to help Iowa.

Jake Lawler/North Carolina/6’3/220lbs: Lawler is a little light for an edge rusher but he’s a true freshman so you’d have to think the weight will come at some point. That being said, Lawler looks like a prime candidate to redshirt, but as I’ve said repeated times, opportunity is a good sign a freshman might have an impact and Lawler might have a shot to get solid reps. The Tar Heels have Malik Carney returning who will be their primary pass rusher, but UNC is a little thin on the opposite side which is where Lawler could come into play. You could make an argument that Lawler is the most talented edge rusher on the squad so that might garner him some opportunities. Admittedly this might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s worth noting because Lawler enrolled early and Carolina needs the help on the edge.

Drew Jordan/Duke/6’2/255lbs: Staying on Tobacco Road, Jordan as a true freshman immediately steps into the starting role for Duke and is easily the most talented edge rusher the Blue Devils have heading into 2017. Typically a team like Duke (or Vanderbilt or Indiana or Northwestern) can sometimes get a solid blue chip recruit along the O-Line or at QB. Even LB, but getting a blue chipper as an edge rusher is a rare thing, yet HC David Cutcliffe managed to pull this off with Jordan, a Georgia native. Jordan has ready make bulk at the collegiate level at 255lbs and to be honest, he’ll need to figure out a way to keep his weight under control unless he shoots up to 6’4-6’5. One thing I like about the impact Jordan could have is that it improves Duke’s pass rush from the edge because the Blue Devils do a pretty good job getting QB pressure from their LBs. Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys get after it a big and a solid edge rusher like Jordan could open up lanes for the LBs to swarm a little bit better. If Jordan gets a lot of reps and his numbers don’t look great, but Giles-Harris & Humphreys get big bumps, it’ll be because Jordan freed them up a bit.

Bryan Jones/Houston/6’5/245lbs: It’s a different coaching staff at Houston with Tom Herman going to Texas, but what sticks out to me about Jones is the presence of Ed Oliver. Jones is a fully formed 43DE at 6’5/245lbs and he was a highly recruited DE. Oliver as a true frosh last season was a 1st team all-american and he’ll be clogging up the middle while Jones is on the edge. Jones is the most talented edge rusher on the Cougars team and it’s not even close. He should get opportunities and Houston’s front-7 is good enough that Jones should see a lot of one-on-one matchups on the edge which could lead to some big plays. Given how well Oliver did as a freshman, I wonder if Jones can come in and have a similar impact especially with Oliver coming back for his sophomore season. Houston lost both of their starting edge rushers from a season ago so competition should be wide open.

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Edge Rushers, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, LSU, Miami-FL, Mississippi, Missouri, NC State, North Carolina, Ohio St, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Terrific 20, Texas, UCLA, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

RANKING POWER-65 COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES – #49 to #40

If you missed the rankings for the coaches ranked #65 to #50, you can find it here or just keep scrolling and it’s the post directly after this one. We left off with Arizona HC Rich Rodriguez at #50 so let’s take a look at the coaches landing in the forties.

#49 – Kliff Kingsbury – Texas Tech

I’m not as down on Kingsbury as some people are. He’s heading into 2017 on the hot seat to be certain, but I don’t think it’s been all bad. Texas Tech isn’t the easiest place to win and so far in his 4 years in Lubbock, Kingsbury is 24-26 overall and 13-23 in conference play. Those aren’t tremendous numbers, but if you look at the league historically, the Red Raiders are following Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma St., TCU, Kansas St. and West Virginia. That makes them 7th in the league and a good coach at Baylor puts Tech 8th. Kingsbury has yet to record a winning record in conference play, but he recruits fairly well and I think he’s good for the university and the program. If trends hold, he should be in for a 7-9 win season in 2017.

#48 – Dave Doeren – North Carolina State

Doeren didn’t walk into a great situation given how NC State AD Debbie Yow dismissed his predecessor Tom O’Brien. Yow essentially cited lack of enthusiasm for the football program as justification for canning O’Brien, but in O’Brien’s last 3 seasons, NC State went 24-14 (13-11). In Doeren’s last 3 seasons as HC, the Wolfpack have went 22-17 (9-15). Yow wanted a football coach who could bring in Top-25 classes. Doeren hasn’t done that either. With that said, Doeren has been consistently 7-6/8-5 in his last 3 years, but he’s also went 3-5 in conference play those same three seasons. I think a coach can win at NC State & Doeren is doing just that, but he needs a breakthrough season with 9-10 wins.

#47 – Todd Graham – Arizona State

A lot of what I wrote about Rich Rodriguez can be written about Todd Graham as well. Graham is better than this but the Sun Devils have been regressing for a couple of year now. In 2013-2014, the Sun Devils posted a 20-7 record. The last two years that total has dropped to 11-14. Graham has been better than Rodriguez in conference play, but only marginally so. ASU went 8-1 in the Pac 12 South in 2013 and won the division. Just 3 years later they finished 2-7 and this is with USC still somewhat regrouping. Graham has recruited top-25 level classes to Tempe and Sun Devil Stadium can be a bear to play in for opposing teams. ASU was pretty young last year and I think 2017 will see a much improve Sun Devils squad.

#46 – Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M

Sumlin’s star could have been any brighter after the 2012 season when he took the Aggies to an 11-2 record and a final ranking in the top-5. A&M would beat a #1 ranked Alabama team that year and then go on to humiliate a solid Oklahoma team in the Cotton Bowl. QB Johnnie Manziel wasn’t quite as spectacular in 2013 and the Aggies dropped to 9-4. Life after Manziel hasn’t been promising either as Sumlin has turned in 3 consecutive 8-5 seasons with a slew of QB transfers that can’t help morale down in College Station. Making matters worse is that Texas A&M is 15-17 in SEC play over the last 4 years & Alabama isn’t going away. Life in the SEC West isn’t easy and Sumlin probably enters 2017 on a seat that is heating up.

#45 – Derek Mason – Vanderbilt

Mason has to deal with some of the difficulties of being a HC at a school like Vanderbilt in much the same way that Northwestern, Duke, Stanford and even possibly Virginia has to deal with. Stanford is somewhat of an exception, but Vanderbilt is the only one of those schools playing the SEC which makes their ceiling quite a bit lower. You can’t help but be impressed with Mason so far in taking over for James Franklin. Mason cut his teeth under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw at Stanford so he knows the drill. His first year in Nashville saw Vandy post a 3-9 (0-8) record. Last year, Mason’s 3rd, Vandy improved to 6-7 (3-5) with a bowl appearance. The rebuild wasn’t as fast as James Franklin coming in, but the Commodores are in good hands.

#44 – Mark Stoops – Kentucky

Like Mason, you can’t help but be impressed by the work Stoops is doing in Lexington. Stoops took over a disaster of a program left behind by Joker Phillips and turned them into a bowl team 4 years later. In Stoops’s first year (2013), UK was terrible going 2-10 (0-8) but last year the Wildcats jumped to 7-6 (4-4) and got a rivalry win over Louisville! Stoops has shown the ability to recruit top-25 level classes to Kentucky which is borderline amazing considering they are surrounded by football blue bloods which is another feather in Stoops’ cap. UK was smart to stick with their HC despite back-to-back 5-7 (2-6) seasons. It paid off in spades last year with UK having their best season since 2009. The talent is there for UK to be even better in 2017.

#43 – Dave Clawson – Wake Forest

Wake Forest hasn’t been relevant since the days of Riley Skinner and Aaron Curry. When Clawson took over in 2014, the Demon Deacons hasn’t had a winning season since 2008 nor had they had a bowl win since 2008. Winning in Winston-Salem isn’t exactly easy which is why it was so amazing what Jim Grobe was able to accomplish with Wake. He couldn’t sustain that and eventually Wake ended up being a sub-.500 team which led to Clawson’s hire. Clawson had to do some rebuilding his first two seasons which saw WF finish with back-to-back 3-9 (1-7) seasons, but the Deacons broke through last year finishing 7-6 (3-5) including a bowl win over a very good Temple squad. That’s solid progress for this program.

#42 – Butch Jones – Tennessee

This is probably too low for Jones. I’m of the opinion that the Vols should have never fired Fulmer, but I’m also not sure Fulmer was going to get Tennessee another national title which should always be the goal in Knoxville. Tennessee made a couple of bad hires in Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley and Jones was hired to clean up the mess. In his first season UT went 5-7. In his 2nd the Vols went 7-6 followed up by back to back 9-4 seasons. That’s progress, but to a degree Jones’s tenure at Tennessee has been marked by disappointment. In and SEC East where Missouri won a couple of division titles, Tennessee has come up empty despite SC not being very good and Florida being in a holding pattern until McElwain showed up. Is that a missed opportunity? It sure seems like it. Throw in the fact that UT is 14-18 in SEC play during Jones’s stay and he doesn’t look so good.

#41 – Jim Mora – UCLA

Like Jones, I think Mora is somewhat disappointing which is why he’s ranked in the 40s instead of the 20s. Last season was depressing with expectations that weren’t close to being met. The Bruins entered the 2016 season as the odds on favorite to win the Pac 12 South. With Washington thought to still be a year away, with USC still in rebuilding mode and with Oregon headed towards disaster, the conference and potential playoff spot was ripe for the taking. Instead, UCLA turned in a 4-8 season that saw star QB Josh Rosen miss half the season and potential 1st round NFL Pick DT Eddie Vanderdoes turn in an underwhelming season. The talent is here & Rosen is great so there is time for Mora to improve his stock in 2017.

#40 – Pat Narduzzi – Pittsburgh

Narduzzi was a tough one to figure out. On the one hand it seems as if he’s a little underrated. Since coming to Pittsburgh, he’s led the Panthers to a 16-10 overall record with an 11-5 mark in conference play. Last year’s Pitt squad was the best they’ve fielded since Dave Wannstedt took Pitt to a 10-3 final record back in 2009. On the other hand, the team under Narduzzi has also been puzzling. The 16-10 record is nice, but if you have watched Pitt the last two years, it could have been so much more. Last year the Panthers lost 4 games by a total of 18 points! The year before they lost 4 games by a total of 27 points. If Narduzzi can figure out how to win close games, we might be looking at a dominant Panthers team. However, Pittsburgh is also 0-2 in bowl games under Narduzzi’s watch & the defense got worse from 2015 to 2016 despite Narduzzi’s reputation as a defensive wizard. Narduzzi loses a truck load of talent so we’ll see how he responds in 2017.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | ACC, Arizona St., Big XII, Coaching, Kentucky, NC State, Pac 12, Pittsburgh, Rankings, SEC, Tennessee, Texas AM, Texas Tech, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest | 4 Comments

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL – BOWL SEASON PREVIEW!

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

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

2016 NCAA FOOTBALL WEEK 12 – BIG GAMES

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

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

2015 NCAA WEEK 11 – BIG GAMES

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Computer Hope Alabama gets Charleston next week before playing at Auburn, but their 6 games before that will have been against: Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU & Mississippi State! A win this week gives them 6 straight against that schedule! GOOD GRIEF! The plan this week won’t vary too much from what they did against LSU. The Crimson Tide defense will take away Bulldog QB Dak Prescott & force Mississippi St. to beat them a different way. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I think this game is even bigger than last week’s game between TCU & Oklahoma State. From the eye test Oklahoma has the best offense in the Big XII now that Baylor is without Seth Russell. I think the Sooners defense also has the most upside which gives me the sneaking suspicion that Bob Stoops’ bunch could be the best in the Big XII. Baylor of course is undefeated & trying to get into that playoff top-4. A win here would go a long way towards that. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not going to say the Ducks have figured it out, but they have been playing better recently, having won 3 straight by a combined score of 131-103. Oregon isn’t very good defensively. We know that, but they can score & they’ve played well on the road. Oregon can still actually win the Pac 12 North. If they win out & Stanford loses to both the Ducks & Cal, Oregon would win the North if Washington St. lose once more. Throw in the rivalry & this is awesome! Computer Hope
Computer Hope This game was on its way to being more epic before Keenan Reynolds & the Middies destroyed Memphis’ dreams of a perfect season! The Tigers have been running over teams with high-powered offense guided by QB Paxton Lynch but unlike Houston, Navy & Temple, Memphis is the one top AAC team that doesn’t play great defense. We saw what happened last week when Memphis ran into a great defense. Will history repeat itself this weekend against the Cougars? Computer Hope
Computer Hope I don’t expect Miami-FL to win this game but “THE U” is 6-3 which isn’t as bad as you would think given the scrutiny surrounding the program. Al Golden is gone so the team should be in disarray but they’ve recent beat Duke in Durham & they’ve had a couple of other good wins against Virginia Tech & Nebraska. Miami-FL also played Florida St. tough in Tallahassee. Carolina should role as Larry Fedora has something special going on, but it could be close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Arkansas is the most dangerous team in the nation right now given their ability to spoil seasons. LSU is hanging on to their playoff hopes by a thread! While it seems nearly impossible for the Tigers to get to the playoffs as it stands now, it could potentially make a case if it blows everyone out & gets to 11-1 while Alabama destroys their remaining competition & gets to 12-1 with an SEC championship. I don’t want that pressure facing Arkansas. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Indiana isn’t an easy team to face. Just ask Iowa, Ohio St., Rutgers, & Michigan State. Sure the Hoosiers are 4-5, but they can put up some points & make you nervous with their ability to score quickly. Michigan is still playing for a chance to win the Big 10. Remember, the Wolverines win the East if they win out & Ohio St. beats Michigan State! I love it. I don’t see IU winning this game but they’ve been close to beating a top team all year. Could it happen here? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Notre Dame got a huge boost this week when WR Will Fuller decided to return to South Bend for his senior season. It looks like Fuller wants to go out as the most decorated Irish receiver in history! Not a bad goal to have! The win last week propelled the Irish into the top-4 in the playoff poll, but they can’t rest on their laurels. With Wake Forest & Boston College coming up, Notre Dame needs to accumulate serious style points as the Big XII creeps closer & closer. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Iowa should have no issues here with the Gophers, but that’s precisely why I think a game like this is dangerous. The Gophers have to be mentally exhausted this season. After they lost their HC Jerry Kill, the Gophers played their hearts out in losses against Michigan & Ohio State. I’m not sure how much they have left in the tank, but that is why the Hawkeyes can’t over look them. At #5 in the playoff rankings, Iowa is getting serious love. A national championship is a possibility! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Back in 2011, the Buckeyes went into West Lafayette to play an overmatched Purdue team, but came out with a 26-23 loss to the Boilermakers that completely derailed their season. This Ohio St. team is massively better than the 2011 version but the Buckeyes have been playing off kilter all season & Michigan St. showed us what could happen when you play with fire. JT Barrett returns so tOSU should role, but Illinois could put up quite a fight & that’s dangerous. Computer Hope
Computer Hope At 5-5 Arizona is in a desperate place. They need one more win to get bowl eligible but they have Utah this week at home & next week they play Arizona St. in Tempe. There are also massive rumors about Rich Rodriguez moving on after this season. It’s hard to get a feel when you back a team into a corner & Utah has to be on upset alert for this very reason. If the Utes win out, they’ll have a strong case at 12-1 for making the playoffs, but a loss here kills that dream. Computer Hope
Computer Hope A LOT MORE going on in this game that meets the eye. Wazzou can’t win the North as they lost a nail biter at home to Stanford which knocked them out. UCLA can still win the South if they win out as their last two games come against USC & Utah. At best, the Cougars can play spoiler but don’t think the opportunity to win 10 games is lost on Mike Leach. If Wazzou wins out & wins their bowl, they’ll finish with a 10-3 record. Plus, Josh Rosen v. Luke Falk! Can’t beat it! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Mark Richt never seems to be completely on the hot seat, but the Bulldogs have been disappointing and now all of a sudden they are going on the road to play an Auburn squad that just beat Texas A&M in College Station. Makes you wonder if the Bulldogs can pull this one out. On the other hand, it truly is a spectacle to see. Georgia should win out to get to 9-3 & a bowl win gets them to 10-3. It’s almost like Richt is a magician. He disappoints but still wins 10-11 a year! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I’m not sure the heat is on Charlie Strong in the way it was before the Okahoma win, but it’s extremely hard to justify beating the Sooners 24-17 in Dallas and then dropping a game to Iowa St. 24-0 in Ames! The Longhorns hadn’t been shutout all season but the Cyclones manage that? I think Dana Holgorsen is coaching for his life at WVU & the Mountaineers can prove a point by finishing the season 8-4. That means Texas might finish 4-8. That’s heat Charlie! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Games like this are interesting because in a way you can get caught up in records. FSU is 7-2 & they seem down because they lost to Clemson & Georgia Tech. One reason you know FSU is back is because 2 losses feels like an utter disaster! NC State is 6-3 & have outscored their opponents by 134 points. Sounds good until you realize they are 2-3 in the ACC & haven’t beaten anyone of note. NC State lost to Clemson by 15 so there is hope here, but we’ll see. Computer Hope
Computer Hope My MAC Special!!!! Toledo’s loss to Northern Illinois a couple of weeks ago muddies up the MAC West quite a bit. A dogfight between Toledo, NIU, Central Michigan & Western Michigan is in full force! The Rockets can get back some semblance of control with a win over CMU this week, but CMU can nail down the East with a win here as they’ve already beaten N.Illinois! Toledo still has to play Bowling Green & W.Michigan. This really is the Wild West! Computer Hope

November 14, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big Games, Florida St., Georgia, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Memphis, Miami-FL, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi St., Must See Games, NC State, NCAA, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio St, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Toledo, UCLA, Utah, Wake Forest, Washington St., Week 11, West Virginia | Leave a comment

2015 NCAA WEEK 6 – BIG GAMES

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Computer Hope This game has the most potential to impact the rankings in my opinion. Northwestern is ranked #13 in the AP Poll despite my having them as the #2 ranked team in the nation. What really can’t be debated is that a Northwestern win will give the Wildcats wins over Stanford, Michigan & Duke. If Northwestern wins by 10 then it outdoes Utah’s win by 7 in Utah. Utah is ranked #5 in the AP. Wouldn’t NW have to be a top-3 team then? If Michigan wins & Utah stays unbeaten how is Utah not #1 & Michigan not #2 at this point? Great game! Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s amazing that these two are the last 2 unbeaten teams in the Pac 12. There is a lot going on here. California is off to an incredible start, but they haven’t really played anyone & their schedule now gets considerably tougher starting with a trip to Salt Lake City. QB Jared Goff is getting tons of press & now he’ll be able to show what he can do this season against a top flight defense. It’s amazing that Utah hasn’t played since blasting Oregon 62-20. That seems like forever ago. It’ll be nice to see the Utes back in action! Can’t wait! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The Irish haven’t lost to Navy since 2010 but the last 2 years, ND’s won tight games. Navy is always a tough game to play for Notre Dame it seems just from the injury report a lone. The Irish hammered Georgia Tech so the triple option Navy runs shouldn’t be an issue & if ND plays to talent this should be a 50-10 game like it was in 2012, but I’m very curious to see how Notre Dame comes back after a crushing loss at Clemson. The Middies are 4-0 coming into this game so I’m certain their mindset is coming into South Bend to upset ND! Computer Hope
Computer Hope The jerseys alone are worth watching this one. Miami-FL might be one of the most difficult places to coach. It takes a certain kind of coach to pull it off. Al Golden doesn’t seem to have it. Randy Shannon didn’t have. Butch Jones did. Jimmy Johnson did. There is enough talent on Miami’s roster to win this game which would certainly shake up the ACC, but after getting housed at Cincinnati, my faith in the Al Golden regime is non-existent. On the other hand, FSU hasn’t played all that well lately against Boston College & Wake Forest. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Like Florida St./Miami-FL, this one is cool because of the jerseys & the fact that it’s the RED RIVER RIVALRY! I guess you can sort of throw the records out with this one. Last year Oklahoma squeaked by with a 31-26 win whereas in 2013, the Longhorns upset OU 36-20! If OU plays right this should be a blow out which puts even more heat on Charlie Strong. Remember that Mack Brown was 9-4 in his 2nd year in Austin & he took over a worse situation than Strong inherited. Should it take that long to win at a program like Texas? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Before the season began, I would have thought this game could very well decide the SEC West. Instead, the Razorbacks have lost 3 games & Alabama is 4-1 with a loss to Ole Miss. It could still very well decide the SEC West should Arkansas win as it would most likely knock Alabama out of contention. If Alabama is on, then I don’t think they can be beat, but Arkansas is still a VERY good football & they’ll try to control the clock against the Tide. I’m not saying it’ll work, but Alabama won this game 14-13 last year. It could be very close. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Like Alabama/Arkansas in the West, this was the game I thought would decide the East, but Tennessee has already lost a couple of conference games & UGA was embarrassed by Alabama last week in Athens. Georgia still controls its destiny & it’ll be interesting to see how the Bulldogs rebound from losing to Alabama. Tennessee is no pushover team. You can easily argue they should have beaten Oklahoma, Arkansas & Florida so Georgia won’t be in for an easy game especially in Neyland. Chaos could continue with a Vols victory. Computer Hope
Computer Hope With Maty Mauk suspended for violation of team conduct policy, Mizzou QB Drew Lock got the start & had a helluva game going 21/28 for 136yds & 2TD in the 24-10 win over SOuth Carolina. Missouri essentially had no vertical game, but the offense was still effective. Florida is off to an amazing start but I wouldn’t count out HC Gary Pinkel and the Tigers playing upset special. Florida had 3 close wins before & emotional romp over Ole Miss last week in Gainesville. Now they play on the road so how big will the let down be if any? Computer Hope
Computer Hope Beating Wisconsin in Madison simply doesn’t rate anymore. Last week Iowa was ranked #22 in the AP & #23 in the Coaches poll. The Hawkeyes go on the road to Camp-Randall & pick up a 10-6 victory & they don’t move an inch in the polls! Yours truly bumped Iowa 8 spots from #22 to #14. Last week was the first time I got to see Iowa for a full game this season & I really liked what I saw. Canzeri’s a beast & Beathard is better than he showed last week. Iowa is at Northwestern next week so I hope they don’t overlook the Illini here! Computer Hope
Computer Hope I still like Georgia Tech as a team although the offense hasn’t clicked under Justin Thomas like I thought it would. Clemson needs to be on upset alert especially after the emotional win over Notre Dame last weekend. I would say I think GT could pull off the stunner but DeShone Kizer completed 70% of his passes for 242yds/TD. Thomas Sirk completed 68% of his passes & ran for 50+yds. Marquise Williams ran for 148yds/2TD last week. GT has a hard time with good QBs and unfortunately for them, DeShaun Watson is next in line. Computer Hope
Computer Hope With Iowa & Northwestern playing so well, this game has sort of taken a backseat, but it’s still fairly interesting. Wisconsin didn’t draw Michigan, Ohio St. or Michigan St. out of the East & they play N’Western at home so they could wind up 10-2 (7-1). Nebraska has lost to Illinois & get Michigan St. at home but the Spartans haven’t put fear into anyone so if the Huskers win out they could be 9-3 (7-1). Neither team looks like a player, but both could be & this is a great game to jump start a push towards relevance so it should be pivotal. Computer Hope
Computer Hope Kansas St. is coming off a brutal home loss to Oklahoma St. and now they get the Frogs coming to town. At first glance this seems like a game that might be worth watching. Kansas St. only has the one loss & the game is in Manhattan with TCU not being overly dominant this season. The last time they played here Kansas St. won 33-31! On the other hand, Oklahoma St. just passed for 441 yards on the K-State defense so that doesn’t bode well with Trevone Boykin coming to town. TCU is almost averaging 60PPG in their last 4 games! Computer Hope
Computer Hope You could definitely make an argument that if Nate Sudfeld & Jordan Howard don’t get hurt last week, the Hoosiers could very well be sitting at 5-0 with a win over Ohio State! Instead, Xander Diamont was atrocious from the pocket as usual & Ohio St. escaped. The trick here is seeing if Kevin Wilson has Indiana over the hump. If Indiana plays like they did against Ohio St. for the rest of the season then the Hoosiers should end up at worst 8-4. Is that enough to turn the tide? I’ve been skeptical of Wilson, but maybe he actually gets it. Computer Hope
Computer Hope It’s really tough to get a gauge on how good Oklahoma St. is & this will be a good game to see if they are really deserving of being 5-0 or are they just pretending as WVU is actually a very solid team in my opinion. One thing that absolutely stands out about the Cowboys is their ability to get pressure on the QB. OK State leads the nation in sacks & tackles for loss. This is certainly a deviation of their usual narrative of being an offensive first football team. WVU hasn’t been great at pass protection so Skyler Howard could have a long day! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Oddball game between 2-3 Wake Forest & 3-2 Boston College but I think it could have meaning. You can make a strong case that BC should be 5-0 with wins over Florida St. & Duke. I REALLY like this team. Florida St. struggled with Wake so if BC blows them out it strengthens their case against Florida State. I think it also puts teams on upset alert. I’m not sure I want to be Clemson & Notre Dame getting a Boston College team with confidence and the ability to keep getting better. BC could make it very interesting in the Atlantic very soon! Computer Hope
Computer Hope Depending on how close you follow college football, you might not have noticed Middle Tennessee St., but they have had a pretty good run so far at 2-3. When they’ve won they’ve dominated & they almost beat Illinois & Vanderbilt so that 2-3 could easily be 4-1. rFR QB Brent Stockstill is having a tremendous season & the team has some athletes. WKU has QB Brandon Doughty. HE’S WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION! So far he’s completed 74% of his passes for 2000yds with 15TD/2INT. He’s a Heisman front-runner if not at WKU! Computer Hope
Computer Hope A fairly big MAC West game, both of these teams are chasing Toledo & the Cardinals already were whipped by the Rockets, but this is still the most interesting game in the MAC & I wanted to start including MAC games. I was surprised last week at NIU losing to Central Michigan after the Huskies came THIS CLOSE to beating both Ohio St. & Boston College. Maybe playing their 3rd road game in as many weeks took too much of a toll. Ball St. is a good team & they might be catching NIU as the wrong time, but this should be a good game. Computer Hope
Computer Hope I wanted put in Hawaii this week because their year has been so weird. The Rainbows are 2-3 and in their wins they’ve outscored their opponents 75-47. That’s not that odd but in their losses they’ve been outscored 111-0! Every loss Hawaii has had this year has been a shutout! The other interesting part is that Hawaii is 2-0 at home but 0-3 on the road. They can’t score on the mainland! I think that trend ends with SDSU this week. I still really like the Aztecs. They’ve had a couple of close losses but could still the MW West division. Computer Hope

October 10, 2015 Posted by | Alabama, Arkansas, Ball St., Big Games, Boston College, California, Clemson, Florida, Florida St., Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas St., Miami-FL, Michigan, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri, Must See Games, N. Illinois, Navy, NCAA, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Penn St., San Diego St., TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wake Forest, Week 6, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, 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

ACC OUTLOOK WITH 6 WEEKS LEFT

The ACC has come under intense scrutiny this year with most people believing that they have fallen to “worst” conference of the Big 5 conferences. I’m not entirely sure of this. The ACC has somewhat devoured their own for the most part & having Florida St. not play well certainly doesn’t help the cause, but this is actually one of the more intriguing conferences in all of college football. The Coastal Division isn’t the SEC West, but every team is compelling with quite a bit to play for. The Atlantic is very top heavy with Florida St., Clemson & Louisville but all three are very good teams & let’s not forget Florida State is the defending national champions!

In a big picture sense, the ACC has to hope Florida St. wins out and gets to 13-0 because they’ll get to defend their title in the playoffs. If Florida St. tumbles or loses in the ACC Championship game then I think all bets are off & they are long shots to advance given their schedule & how it doesn’t look very good at all. Even with just the one playoff hope, this conference should be interesting to watch especially with the multitude of scenarios presented by the Coastal Division. It should be a very entertaining 6 weeks in the ACC.

 

ATLANTIC

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
7-0 As defending national champions, Florida St. probably has the easiest road to the playoffs as any other team because an undefeated Florida St. team definitely goes to the playoff to defend their title. That doesn’t mean there aren’t significant doubts. The win over Notre Dame looks solid but FSU should have lost that game. Close calls too against Clemson & NC State don’t help. The Oklahoma St. win looked good for a while until the Cowboys got blown out by TCU. A Thursday night game at Louisville will probably determine if Florida St. can hang on & go unbeaten. The real question is whether or not a 1-loss FSU team who wins the ACC Championship would be good enough to get in? The ACC is terrible. FSU has to hope Notre Dame goes 11-1.
5-2 One of the more interesting teams in the country, Clemson hasn’t been a part of the national conscious thus far because they started the season 1-2. Since that 2nd loss they’ve won 4 straight defeating their opponents by a combined score of 131-65. Clemson’s 2 losses have come on the road to Georgia & Florida St., so the Tigers can at least make an argument of being a top-15 if not top-10 team. They’ve already beaten UNC, Louisville & BC. Their toughest game remaining is a road date to Georgia Tech so 10-2 is on the table. It’s too bad they won’t get a 2nd shot at Florida St. in the ACC title game. They can’t make the playoffs or win the Atlantic, but with a bowl win, Clemson could finish the season 11-2!
6-2 Bobby Petrino is quietly putting together a monster season & the Cardinals are actually one of the more intriguing teams out there. It would be almost impossible for them to win the Atlantic because of the loss to Clemson. L’Ville would have to beat Florida St., hope Florida St. loses again, & hope Clemson loses two more conference games. I think the Cardinals could beat Florida St., and I think Clemson could lose on the road to Georgia Tech, but that’s as far as it goes & L’Ville still finishes in 3rd place in their own division. Louisville could play big spoiler though down the stretch. They have games against Florida St. & Notre Dame plus a season finale against Kentucky. The Cardinals will be a featured team down the stretch.
4-3 With 2 conference losses already, it’s difficult to see the Eagles being a player in the ACC Atlantic especially with road games against Florida St. & Virginia Tech remaining. The Eagles need to think about getting a couple of more wins to get bowl eligible and they have a couple of games they could win. This week they’ll travel to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest in a winnable game. After that game & hopefully a win, they’ll have a 3-game stretch against Virginia Tech, Louisville & Florida State. They might come out of that with 3 losses putting them at 5-6 going into the season finale at home against Syracuse. It all starts with Wake Forest this week though. If they lose this week then bowl eligibility might be lost.
3-4 Syracuse has to be thoroughly disappointed in their season especially with home losses to Maryland (14pts) & Louisville (22pts). In, fact, Syracuse hasn’t beaten any team of note all season long. Their remaining schedule is daunting with road games against Clemson, Pittsburgh & Boston College. The Orange can forget about the Atlantic & it might be difficult to see them even winning 3 more games to get to bowl eligibility. If they can’t win a road game they won’t get bowl eligible but their home games come against NC State & Duke. They might go 1-1 there so it’s entirely possible to see Syracuse at 4-8/5-7. HC Scott Shafer was talking about a goal of winning 8 games before the season started. That isn’t happening.
2-5 Not a great season in Dave Clawson’s first as HC of the Demon Deacons. Wake showed a little bit of promise in their 1st ACC game playing Louisville fairly tough in a 20-10 loss, but in their last 2 games, Wake has been outscored 73-10 by Florida St. & Syracuse. With wins over Gardner-Webb & Army, Wake might be looking at a 2-10 season, ending the season on an 8-game losing streak. Their best bet for a conference win might be against NC State, but he game is in Raleigh, not Winston-Salem. At this point, Wake is just looking for moral victories & trying to gauge progress from the players who will return in 2015. If they can win another game or two then great, but I don’t think anyone is counting on it.
4-4 It’s amazing what you can look like with the right schedule. NC State faced GA. Southern, Old Dominion, USF & Presbyterian in their first 4 games. They won all 4 outscoring their opponents 161-74. In their next 4 games, the Wolfpack played Floridai St., Clemson, Boston College & Louisville. They lost all 4 games & were outscored 73-157. At 0-4 in the ACC, there is no way NC State plays any role in the outcome but they still have an outside shot at bowl eligibility given their 4 non-conference wins. The home game against Wake Forest is entirely winnable but to get that 6th win they’ll have to beat either Syracuse or North Carolina on the road or manage to beat Georgia Tech in Raleigh. They must go 2-2 in their last 4.

 

COASTAL

 

TEAM REC WHAT TO WATCH FOR OVER LAST 6 WEEKS OF 2014
6-1 We live in a crazy college football era when instead of talking about Duke being longshots to get bowl eligible, we are discussing them becoming potential conference champions! What’s amazing here is that the 6-1 Blue Devils have to be in the playoff discussion. If they win out they’ll finish 11-1 with a likely rematch against Florida St. in the ACC title game. If Florida St. is 12-0 & Duke beats them to finish the season at 12-1, would that be enough to put Duke into the 4-man playoff? I think it wouldn’t unless you had a copule of conferences that wind up with 2-loss champions. More likely Duke is simply hoping for a big bowl. If they defend homefield then at worst they’ll go 9-3 & win the Coastal. David Cutcliffe is a ridiculous good HC.
4-3 The Wahoos can’t get into the playoffs with 3 losses & losing at Duke last week was killer. Both Virginia & Duke are 2-1 in conference play, but Virginia has road ACC games against Florida St., Georgia Tech & Virginia Tech. Those are all probably losses which would give Virginia 6 meaning they’d have to beat North Carolina & Miami-FL at home just to get bowl eligible! Mike London has to be up at night playing the “What If?” game. If Virginia wins their close losses against UCLA & Duke they are 6-1 (3-0) right now instead of 4-3 (2-1). They’d effectively be up 3 games on Duke with a schedule that if they finished 11-1 (8-0) could be playoff worthy. Then again, this team isn’t far away from 2-5 if they lost to L’Ville & Pitt.
4-3 Pittsburgh has to be one of the more disappointing teams in college football. I thought they had a real chance at potentially disrupting the nation by playing TOUGH & potentially winning the Coastal. I thought Pitt might have losses on their schedule, but I thought they would beat Iowa & Akron in Pittsburgh. At worst the team should be 6-1 with the road loss to Virginia, but they lost to the Cavaliers by just 5 points. The Panthers aren’t completely out of it. If they win out they’ll finish 9-3 (7-1) and win the Coastal. If they beat Florida St., they would finish 10-3 as ACC Champions with a huge bowl on tap. I hope they play to potential because college football is better when Pittsburgh is relevant. They must win at home.
5-2 At 5-2, the Yellow Jackets should become bowl eligible at worst with a win over NC State in Raleigh on November 8th. If GT wants more than that, then they have their work cut out for them. Their remaining schedule is: at Pitt, Virginia, at NC State, Clemson, bye, at Georgia. Their home games won’t be easy & they can probably forget about beating Georgia. For a second I thought Georgia Tech was going to sneak up on us. They started the season 5-0 with wins over Virginia Tech & Miami-FL! In their last 2 games they’ve lost to Duke & North Carolina. To be fair, GT could still do some damage. At 5-2 (2-2), it’s worth watching this week at Pitt. If they win, then GT could be 8-2 (5-2) hosting Clemson. They can still win the Coastal.
4-3 With 3 losses the Hurricanes aren’t going to the playoffs anytime soon. What will be interesting for Miami-FL is their ability to get bowl eligible. At 4-3, they need to at least 2-3 in their final 5, but their schedule is: at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, bye, Florida St., at Virginia, Pittsburgh. Each one of those teams will have something to play for & getting a couple of wins won’t be easy. I think what could be most interesting down the stretch in Miami-FL is how hot Al Golden’s seat gets. The Canes could easily finish the season with 5 losses, putting their record at 4-8! If that happens then at best you can argue the program has stalled. Could you imagine having job openings at Florida, Michigan & Miami-FL by the end of the season?!
4-3 With 3 losses, the Hokies are not going to the playoffs, but they could have legitimate say in who does. At 4-3 (1-2) the Hokies look disappointing & to a degree they are, but Lady Luck simply hasn’t been kind. Virginia Tech is 0-3 in close games & their 3 losses have come by a combined 15pts. They have a win at Ohio St. & their toughest road game remaining comes against Duke. If Virginia Tech wins out to get to 9-3 (6-2), would they win the Coastal? Yes, but Pittsburgh would have to lose 2 more conference games! The Hokies loss at Pittsburgh this past Thursday has huge tiebreaker implications! It doesn’t look like it now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the VT/Pitt game was the deciding factor in who goes to the ACC title game.
3-4 I though the Tar Heels were a darkhorse contender before the season began to shock the college football world, get to 13-0 & make the playoffs. Instead, here they are sitting at 3-4 (1-2) needing to win 3 of their last 5 just to get bowl eligible! What’s amazing is that UNC still has time to shock a few people. Should they win out, the Tar Heels will finish 8-4 (6-2) but because winning out means they’ll beat Virginia, Miami-FL, PITT, & Duke, the Tar Heels would own all the tiebreakers. The only problem is Virginia Tech. The Hokies beat UNC so Virginia Tech would have to lose another game in order for Carolina to finish first. Every game for the Tar Heels is important not only for bowl eligibility, but also because they are still division contenders.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | ACC, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami-FL, NC State, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Playoffs, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment

2014 ACC PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS

RANK B1G EAST COMMENTS
#1 PROJECTED RECORD: 12-0 (8-0); OFFENSE: Ridiculous. Florida St. averaged 51.4PPG last season en route to a national championship & bring back 7 starters from that unit including reigning Heisman Trophy winner QB Jameis Winston. There are a projected 8 senior starters 4 of which are returning offensive linemen! WR Rashad Greene  & TE Nick O’Leary return which will offset the loss of Kelvin Benjamin with the 6’4/200lbs Isaiah Jones ready to come in & be that big receiver. Florida St. doesn’t have 7 guys on offense that could be all-ACC. They have 7 guys on offense that could very well end up as All-Americans! They have the best QB in the country. They arguably have the best O-Line. RB Devonta Freeman leaves but Karlos WIlliams averaged 8.0ypc! It would be ridiculous for FSU to score more than 50PPG in back-2-back years, but who is going to stop them? DEFENSE: FSU returns 6 starters from a unit that allowed 12.1PPG! The losses on defense are a bit more dramatic than on offense as the Noles lose 5 of their top-6 tacklers. Losing Tim Jernigan, Lamarcus Joyner, & Tevin Smith will be tough as they were all All-Americans! LB Christian Jones was all-ACC as was S Terrance Brooks. The good news is that it’s FSU so the talent is HEAVY! CBs PJ Williams & Ronald Darby might be the best CB duo in the nation. DE Mario Edwards is a beast as is DT Eddie Goldman. Eight players could be all-ACC. This is still one of the best defenses in the nation. SCHEDULE: They avoid UNC & their toughest road game is Syracuse. They have a GREAT chance at back-2-back!
#2 PROJECTED RECORD: 7-5 (5-3); OFFENSE: Clemson had a fantastic year last year going 11-2 & winning a BCS Bowl. The offense was fantastic scoring 40.2PPG behind incredible offensive players in QB Tajh Boyd, WRs Sammy Watkins & Martavis Bryant along with RB Roderick McDowell. The problem is that every one of those players are gone including a couple of O-Linemen! Clemson returns just 5 starters & will have freshman starting at QB & RB. The good news is that frosh RBs Wayne Gallman & Tyshon Dye could be pretty decent & the Tigers get back WR Charone Peake who missed last year with an ACL injury. The bad news is that the O-Line is terrible & there is massive inexperience. It’s still Clemson so the athletes are there, but this offense takes a big step back in ’13. DEFENSE: The Tigers are much better off on the defensive side of the ball where they return 7 starters from a unit that allowed 22.2PPG including 5 of their top-7 tacklers. DE Vic Beasley was a 1st Team All-American last season who led the team with 13sacks & 23TFL! LB Stephone Anthony returns as well & he led the team in tackles with 131 including 13.5TFL! Both are All-American candidates. Joining Beasley is DE Corey Crawford, DT Grady Jarrett & DT DJ Reader. The D-Line is the obvious strength of the defense & is arguably the best in the nation! The secondary should also be very dangerous. This defense could get better. SCHEDULE: Road games against Georgia, Florida St. & Georgia Tech hurt. They also draw UNC & get South Carolina in the finale. If the offense comes around, they’ll get to 9-10 wins.
#3 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (5-3); OFFENSE: The Orange are quietly going about becoming a consistently good football program again. They return 8 starters from an offense that scored 22.7PPG last year, but I think HC Scott Shafer is on to something here. QB Terrel Hunt is a dual threat QB who completed 61.2% of his passes. He did throw 8 picks to 10TD. The TD:INT ratio was worse than that as Hunt padded his stats against Wagner & Tulane but I like the 61.2%. The O-Line returns 4 starters, 6 of the top-7 receivers return and even though leading rusher Jerome Smith is gone, I think new starting RB Prince-Tyson Gulley could be an upgrade. Not a ton of talent here but these guys play hard & there is quite a bit of experience. They’ll be better. DEFENSE: Syracuse returns 7 starters from a defense that allowed 25.4PPG. They have a couple of HUGE losses in DT Jay Bromley & LB Marquis Spruill who were both NFL Draft picks, but the Orange return the other 5 starters of their front-7. Like the offense, the talent here isn’t great but I think a key could be the DEs Robert Welsh & Ron Thompson. They need to replenish the pass rush that Bromley & Spruill provided. I think the defense stays the same as far as production is concerned. SCHEDULE: The schedule sets up really well for Syracuse as they avoid UNC, Virginia Tech & Georgia Tech. They get L’Ville, Duke & NC State at home & the non-conference slate isn’t bad because Maryland comes to the Carrier Dome. BC & Wake Forest are terrible. They won’t beat Clemson or FSU but it’ll be a really nice season in 2014.
#4 PROJECTED RECORD: 9-3 (5-3); OFFENSE: This offense could get very interesting very quickly. The Cardinals only bring back 4 starters from a 12-1 squad that averaged 35.2PPG, but a deeper look gives you some signs that offensive genius Bobby Petrino could hit the ground running in his return to Louisville. True, QB Teddy Bridgewater is gone & that is a HUGE hole to fill, but L’Ville brings back 4 starters along the O-line & the one non-returning starter is a transfer from Florida who started! L’Ville returns 4 of their top-5 receivers & also their top rusher in Dominique Brown! Don’t forget about Auburn transfer Michael Dyer who was a 1st Team All-SEC RB in 2011! In his 1st 4 years at Louisville, Petrino averaged 40+PPG. Given Petrino’s pedigree & what L’Ville returns, if QB Will Gardner can be decent, Louisville is going to score! DEFENSE: Massive losses on this side of the ball as Louisville returns just 4 starters from a unit that allowed 12.2PPG and loses 6 of their top-8 tacklers. DE Marcus Smith, LB Preston Brown & S Calvin Pryor were all NFL Draft picks & will be difficult to replace. Charlie Strong didn’t leave the cupboards bare however. There is talent here on defense & guys like DE Lorenzo Mauldin, LB James Burgess & CB Charles Gaines should be impact players. I’m excited to see OLB James Hearns. He redshirted last season but at 6’3/270lbs has great size. SCHEDULE: Not bad at all. They get Clemson & Syracuse on the road which is tough but avoid UNC, VT, GT & Pitt from the Coastal! They can win every game on the schedule save FSU. Can Petrino go 11-1 in year 1?
#5 PROJECTED RECORD: 5-7 (2-6); OFFENSE: The Wolfpack return 7 starters from an offense that scored just 22.8PPG en route to a 3-9 record, the worst mark NC State has posted since 2006! The best player on offense might actually be RT Tyson Chandler who at 6’7/355lbs is the very definition of a mauler. The main problem with the Wolfpack is that they just need to get better. Projected starting QB Jacoby Brissett was highly touted out of HS and began his career at Florida. Freshmen WR Bo Hines & QB Jalan McClendon, OT Will Richardson & TE Cole Cook are nice pieces. I love how huge the O-line looks & RB Shadrach Thornton comes back. This could be an interesting running team who plays ball control offense. That can win games when other teams get sloppy. DEFENSE: The defense returns 7 starters from a unit that allowed 30.2PPG & they also lose their top-3 tacklers. It’s a mixed bag really. There wasn’t a ton of talent to begin with, but HC Dave Doeren should have the defense in much better shape. The D-Line returns 3 starters with DT Thomas Teal & DE Art Norman potentially being All-ACC players. What might be more interesting is in the influx of solid defensive talent in DE Kentavius Street, S Germaine Pratt, CB Troy Vincent, DT Justin Jones, & LB Ty Linton. The defense will be better this year. Not great but better. SCHEDULE: Tough to have a good record when you draw road games against L’Ville, UNC, Syracuse & Clemson & also draw FSU. That’s 5 losses right there. If they can beat either Georgia Tech at home or USF on the road, they could get to 6 wins.
#6 PROJECTED RECORD: 3-9 (1-7); OFFENSE: By season’s end, HC Dave Clawson may wish he would have stayed on at Bowling Green. The Demon Deacons haven’t had a winning season since 2008 & it doesn’t look good this year. They return 5 starters from an offense that scored just 18.3PPG. The worst part is that they lose their QB, top rushers, 2 top receivers and the left half of their offensive line! The best part of the offense is probably receivers where Jared Crump (6’3/190), Tyree Harris (6’3/180) & Zach Gordon (6’5/250) are all sophomore receivers with great size. They’ll need a QB to throw them the ball & that looks to fall on Tyler Cameron. Clawson needs to upgrade the talent level here. DEFENSE: Wake brings back only 5 starters from a defense that allowed 24.1PPG. In a year in which WF fans saw the Deacons go 4-8, the defense was the lone bright spot. Unfortunately Wake loses their entire defensive line & 5 of their top-9 tacklers. At least there are some decent pieces here. CB Kevin Johnson is one of the best in the league & LB Brandon Chubb & S Ryan Janvion combined for 183 tackles last season! The D-Line is alarmingly small but keep an eye on DE Desmond Floyd who at 6’5/260lbs could be an impact rusher. The defense might be worse but not by much. SCHEDULE: Nasty. They draw VaTech & Duke out of the Coastal. They also play NC State in Raleigh. They even have a game at Utah St.! They get BC at home so I think they can win that & I think they’ll beat Gardner-Webb. Nothing sets up well here. Wake could get to 3-9 but they could get to 1-11!
#7 PROJECTED RECORD: 3-9 (0-8); OFFENSE: Steve Addazio has shown himself to be a pretty good HC but he’s got his work cut out for him in 2014. Boston College returns just 3 starters from an offense that scored 27.7PPG en route to a 7-6 season. They lose some serious contributors in RB Andre Williams (2177yds/18TD/6.1ypc), QB Chase Retig (61.6%/1995yds/17TD/8INT), their top-4 receivers and both offensive tackles! WR Alex Amidon & RB Andre Williams actually left school as BC’s all time leading receiver & rusher respectively! The interior O-Line should be pretty good especially with C Andy Gallik & G Bobby Vardaro but this team is going to struggle to score 20PPG given the insane amount of attrition they’ve suffered! DEFENSE: The losses aren’t as bad on the defensive side of the ball as BC returns 6 starters from a defense that allowed 28.9PPG. The problem though is who they lost. LB Steele Divitto & LB Kevin Pierre-Louis were #1 & #2 in tackles with 112 & 108 respectively. They combined for 16.5TFL & 2INT! Also gone is DE Kasim Edebali who led the team in sacks with 9.5 and TFL with 15! DT Kaleb Ramsey is also gone & like Pierre-Louis was an NFL Draft pick! There are some interesting pieces here though. BC returns their entire secondary & LB Steven Daniels is a solid player. Thre guys are VERY interesting are 6’9/290lbs DE Brian Mihalik, 6’7/290lbs DT Mehdi Abdesmad & 6’7/270lbs Malachi Moore. That’s incredible size! SCHEDULE: Nasty. BC is rebuilding & unfortunately they get Wake on the road. I think 3-9 but could see 4-8 or 2-10. No bowl for BC!

 

ACC ATLANTIC OVERALL OUTLOOK: From a championship perspective there is really no team in the division that can possibly contend with Florida State. The Seminoles are ENTIRELY too good and the historically great teams in the conference such as Virginia Tech & Miami-FL are in the Coastal. Clemson is historically good too but they are going through a rebuilding year so to speak given what they lost on offense so Florida State doesn’t necessarily have to worry about them. The real story to me is what happens with Clemson, Louisville & Syracuse. Clemson could still be a fairly dangerous team if they can get their offense up to speed which could mean a win or two more than I think. Louisville is also interesting. Although they look like they lose quite a few players, there is still a lot of talent especially on offense. If Bobby Petrino can work his magic and QB Will Gardner emerges, the Cardinals could really contend for 10-11 wins. And then there is Syracuse who should be an extremely scrappy team with a schedule that could give them 8-9 wins. It’s an interesting division to a certain extent although the bottom 3 teams aren’t very competitive. Florida St. should roll in this one. There really aren’t any challengers.

 

RANK B1G WEST COMMENTS
#1 PROJECTED RECORD: 11-1 (8-0); OFFENSE: The Tar Heels bring back 8 starters from an offense that scored 32.7PPG including QB Marquise Williams. UNC was like a different team with Williams took over the starting duties from Bryn Renner. Williams didn’t disappoint going 5-1 in his starts, passing for 1698yds/15TD & rushing for 536yds/6TD! The Heels always have talent and Williams has a nice supporting cast around him. TJ Logan returns at RB & even though UNC loses TE Eric Ebron, WR Quinshad Davis (6’4/215lbs) steps in to be that legitimate #1 WR threat. The Heels return 3 on the O-Line. Williams, Logan & Davis should compete for all-ACC honors. Keep an eye on frosh RB Elijah Hood. The 6’0/220lbs speedster could have an impact. I really like this offense. DEFENSE: UNC returns 7 starters from a defense that allowed 24.5PPG. They return 9 of their top-12 tacklers. They have a couple of players in DE Kareem Martin, CB Jabari Price & S Tre Boston who were all NFL Draft picks that will be hard to replace but talent has never been an issue in Chapel Hill. DE Norkeithus Otis will try to replace Martin’s pass rushing ability & the entire LB corps returns. If there is a weakness it’s that UNC will start two frosh along the D-Line & have 2 new corners. There is upside to this defense & at worst they’ll put up similar numbers to 2013. SCHEDULE: UNC gets pretty lucky in that they avoid FSU & get VT, GT & Pittsburgh at home. Road games against Clemson, Notre Dame & Miami-FL could be problematic but I think UNC gets them at the right time. A huge year is in store for UNC!
#2 PROJECTED RECORD: 9-3 (5-3); OFFENSE: I think Paul Chryst is a great fit at Pittsburgh. The Panthers return 8 starters from an offense that averaged 26PPG. Chryst has averaged 26PPG in his first 2 seasons at Pitt but he was the OC at Wisconsin for 7 years when the Badgers were running up 30-40PPG! Losing QB Tom Savage is a blow, but RB James Conner (6’2/230lbs) & RB Isaac Bennett (5’11/205lbs) both return & averaged 5.5 & 4.7ypc respectively. I don’t know if Pittsburgh will employ the 2-man RB tandems Wisconsin destroyed people with but you can see the imprint. Pitt is running a 2-TE set & is stacked at WR with Tyler Boyd & Manasseh Garner. The O-line returns 4 starters & you get the feeling Pittsburgh’s offense is about ready to explode in year 3 even with a new QB a the helm. DEFENSE: Pitt returns 5 starters from a unit that allowed 27.2PPG. A lot is being made of losing DT Aaron Donald & there should be. Donald had 11sacks/28.5TFL & was a 1st Team All-American, but the Panther still allowed almost 30PPG! Like Carolina, the Panthers have some question marks on the DL & in the secondary. LB Anthony Gonzalez should be a lynchpin in the middle as will S Ray Vinopal, but I think it comes together somehow & Pitt allows fewer points in ’14. SCHEDULE: The schedule works well for Pitt as they get home games against Iowa, VT, GT, Duke & Syracuse. They avoid FSU & Clemson from the Atlantic. They get UNC in Chapel Hill but you can’t win them all & road games against UVa & Miami-FL seem winnable. Win at home & win 9-10 games.
#3 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (5-3); OFFENSE: Virginia Tech brings back 9 starters from an offense that scored just 22.5PPG last season but do not return VaTech all time leading passer Logan Thomas! I’m not sure what to make of this. Thomas completed 57% of his passes for 2907yds & 16TD to 13INT. I’m almost of the opinion that Thomas held the Hokies back, but then I see what he’s doing in camp with the Arizona Cardinals & wonder if the talent around him was just terrible? The Hokies haven’t been dominant offensively since 2010 & I’m not sure the trend doesn’t continue. There is a lot of experience here outside of the QB position so maybe VT can get better but I’d expect them to struggle again offensively. DEFENSE: VT returns 9 starters from a unit that allowed 19.3PPG. It’s really an odd makeup. The Hokies return all 4 secondary players & have the best DB unit in the nation but they return just 1 of their front-7 & lose a TREMENDOUS amount of their pass rushing ability. There is obvious talent here but DTs Corey Marshall & Luther Maddy along with LBs Chase Williams & Deon Clarke will have to show an ability stop the run if the Hokies are going to stop opposing offenses from taking their secondary out of the game. CB Kendall Fuller could be an All-American! SCHEDULE: The Hokies avoid FSU & Clemson but get a non-conference road game at Ohio St. & conference road games against UNC, Pitt & Duke. Given the D-line I’m not sure a home game against GT is a win. It’s not horrible really but 3 tough road games mean at leas 3 losses. Bowl win gives them 8-9.
#4 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (5-3); OFFENSE: The names might change but the results stay the same with HC Paul Johnson & the Yellow Jackets. You might think GT could be down as they bring back just 6 starters & lose their starting QB & their 3 leading rushers, but I don’t see it. The O-line has 3 starters back & 4 upperclassmen as projected starters. QB Justin Thomas is a soph but is in his 3rd year in the program. DeAndre Smelter (6’3/225) & Darren Waller (6’5/230lbs) gives GT a couple of huge outside threats to keep defenses honest & all in all it looks like GT will once again average 33-36PPG. It’s so hard to evaluate GT because it’s such a system based offense, but it works. DEFENSE: GT returns 4 starters from a defense that allowed 22.8PPG. That sound daunting but the other time Paul Johnson had just 4 starters returning was his first year in 2008 & it was the best scoring defense he’s had during his tenure at GT! DE Jeremiah Attaochu’s 12.5sacks will be hard to replace. Oddly enough GT loses a few NFL Draft picks in Attaochu, LB Brandon Watts & S Jemea Thomas. Like North Carolina, GT has questions at DL & in the secondary. There are some pretty nice pieces though. DT Adam Gotsis & DE Kenderius Whitehead should anchor the D-line & MLB Quayshawn Nealy could be all-ACC. It looks a little rough but you never know. SCHEDULE: It’s not terrible. They avoid FSU and get Miami-FL, Duke, Virginia & Clemson at home. Those are all winnable games. For the season to be a success, GT has to win their games in Bobby Dodd Stadium. I think they do.
#5 PROJECTED RECORD: 7-5 (3-5); OFFENSE: Duke returns 8 starters including QB Anthony Boone from an offense that scored 32.8PPG last year. There is certainly a lot to like here. Duke returns 3 starters on the O-line. Leading rusher Josh Snead averaged 6.1ypc & he returns. Boone completed 64% of his passes and while his TD:INT ratio was 13:13, you have to like his accuracy & expect his decision making to get better in his senior season. Duke has up to 5 players on offense that could be all-ACC with WR Jamison Crowder & G Laken Tomlinson potentially being 1st team selections. When was the last time you could say that about Duke football? There is no denying David Cutcliffe’s great job here but Duke isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year so the offense might be down a point or two. DEFENSE: Duke returns 6 starters from a unit that allowed 26.6PPG. The Blue Devils return their top-3 tacklers & 5 of their top-6. The only real loss is DE Kenny Anunike but do lose 3 starters along the D-line. They also bring in new corners who are sophomores so they’ll be inexperienced in the secondary. Still, S Jeremy Cash is a BEAST and LBs David Helton & Kelby Brown could combine with Cash to give Duke 3 1st-Team All-ACC defenders. That’s nuts! If the D-Line holds this unit could be a tick better. SCHEDULE: Like I said, Duke isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year & have road games against Miami-FL, GT, Pitt & Syracuse. They also play VT & UNC who will be ready to play. They’ll get bowl eligible but won’t win the Coastal & won’t finish with a 10-4 record.
#6 PROJECTED RECORD: 4-8 (2-6); OFFENSE: The Cavaliers bring back 7 starters from an offense that scored 19.8PPG in ’13. QB David Watford does return but he was so bad in ’13 that I’d expect Greyson Lambert to take over signal caller duties. This is a mixed bag. On the one hand why would you want a collection of moribund players? On the other, the guys were so bad they’d have to get better right? There are some great pieces here. Lambert looks the part at 6’5/230lbs. RB Kevin Parks ran for 1000+yds last season. WRs Kyle Dockins & Keeon Johnson are 6’3/215lbs & got a lot of run as frosh last season. TE Zachary Swanson at 6’6/260lbs is another huge weapon. The O-Line brings back 3 starters. If Lambert can be decent, this offense will really improve. DEFENSE: UVA brings back 9 starters from a defense that allowed 33.3PPG! It’s just like the offense really. Is anyone any good? There is actually quite a bit of talent on hand here. DE Eli Haorld led the team in sacks (8.5) and TFL (15). DE Mike Moore is 6’4/270lbs! S Anthony Harris has a chance to be an All-American & the Cavs bring back their entire back-7 which has TREMENDOUS SIZE! LB Max Valles is 6’5/240. CB Maurice Canady is 6’2/190lbs! I can’t help but think Mike London is a good coach & this defense could be extremely good. SCHEDULE: The schedule is BRUTAL with road games against VT, FSU, GT & Duke. They draw BYU & UCLA in the non-conference which is INSANE! They do get Miami-FL & Pitt at home. The more I look at UVA the more I like them, but the schedule keeps them from bowling.
#7 PROJECTED RECORD: 5-7 (2-6); OFFENSE: I can’t believe I have THE U here, and this is probably my biggest stretch as a prediction. The offense returns 7 starters from a team that averaged 33.8PPG but lose QB Stephen Morris who threw for 3028yds/21TD. Morris left Miami as their #3 all-time leading passer  so he’ll be tough to replace. That a rFR in Kevin Olsen is replacing him makes things doubly difficult although Olsen is in his 2nd year of the program. RB Duke Johnson & WR Stacy Coley can make a claim to being the best RB/WR duo in the ACC. The O-Line returns 3 starters & 6 of the returning 7 starters will compete for all-ACC honors. There is a lot to like here. Morris did complete just 58% of his passes & threw 12INT. If Olsen can match that, Miami’s offense could actually be better especially if Duke Johnson doesn’t miss half the year! DEFENSE: Miami returns 7 starters from an offense that allowed 27PPG. It’s Miami so the talent is there but for some reason the last 2 seasons Miami’s defense hasn’t been that good. LB Denzel Perryman is arguably the best ILB in the entire nation & should be a 1st team All-American. I like DE Anthony Chickillo but the rest of the team really needs to step up. SCHEDULE: So this is why I think Miami regresses this season. They draw Florida St. & Louisville from the Atlantic & both are read games. They get a non-conference road game at Nebraska. They also play GT, VT & UVA on the road & still have to play UNC & Pittsburgh. It’s an incredibly difficult road & Miami will be depending on a freshman QB. I just can’t see it.

 

ACC COASTAL OVERALL OUTLOOK: I think it’s interesting that Florida St. in the Atlantic is projected to go 8-0 in conference as is North Carolina. Like FSU, the 2nd place team in the Coastal (Pittsburgh) is expected to be 3 games behind the Tar Heels meaning the Coastal should end up quite a bit like the Atlantic with UNC having the division wrapped up. I also think the symmetry between the #2-#4 teams is interesting as both the Coastal & Atlantic have 3 teams expected to finish the season with 5-3 conference records. The middle of the Coastal with Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech & Georgia Tech should be just as interesting as the middle of the Atlantic with Pittsburgh, Syracuse & Clemson. All 3 teams are similarly flawed with a lot to replace on offense. I think at times like this you forget how much schedule plays a role in the outcomes of football seasons. Some publications feel this is the best team Al Golden has had at Miami-FL yet I have it projected to be Golden’s worst season since coming to Coral Gables. It’s easy to forget that Miami-FL is 7-2 in close games over the last 2 seasons with a TO margin of +12. Regression is going to come calling at some point & it certainly seems that is likely for the Hurricanes in 2014 given the QB situation and the schedule. While North Carolina should be one of the surprise teams in college football this season with just how many games they are going to win, the story of the ACC Coastal could be Miami-FL and how many games they are going to lose. Granted, going 5-7 isn’t going 2-10 or 1-11, but 5-7 seasons are simply unacceptable season for Miami-FL, and let’s not forget that Miami-FL hasn’t really been nationally relevant since 2003. That is a long time to have a team as historically great as Miami lay dormant.

August 30, 2014 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 ACC: A Look At Predictive Analytics From 2013

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

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

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

Moving on to the ACC,  here are the overall trends for each team. Discussion follows:

TRENDING UP: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia
TRENDING DOWN: Florida St., Louisville, Clemson, Miami-FL, Duke, Notre Dame, Boston College, Pittsburgh
TREADING WATER: Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest, NC State

The ACC is the first conference we come to where the overwhelming favorites for the conference title are teams that are actually trending down given their predictive analytics from a season ago. Florida St. & Clemson are the two most talented teams in the conference and you can really never count out a Bobby Petrino led football program. Even teams like Miami-FL & Notre Dame are tricky because while they might be regressing from a predictive standpoint, the overall ability of the teams in question might actually have increased from a season ago. The team to really keep a look out for is North Carolina. Larry Fedora is in his 3rd year and the Tar Heels are the best they’ve been since he took over in Chapel Hill. The schedule is favorable and UNC avoids Florida St. during the regular season which could set us up for shades of 1997 when UNC & Florida St. hooked up in a HUGE battle for ACC supremacy at Kenan Stadium as the #2 Seminoles beat the #5 Tar Heels 20-3. It was also the last season Mack Brown coached at North Carolina before bolting for the Texas job. This could definitely make for an interesting year in the ACC. Don’t forget about Virginia Tech either. The Hokies are always good but the last 2 years have been a bit tortuous for the fans in Blacksburg. While their predictive measures suggest they are treading water, it’s not a bad spot to be in if Lady Luck comes calling.

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

RANK TEAM COMMENTS
#1 It’s almost impossible to run the table at 14-0 & win a national championship without a little luck. Florida St. was no different as the Seminoles benefited from a +17 in TO margin, a 1-0 record in close games and a Pythagorean of .948 which suggests they were 0.73 wins worse than the 14 wins they eventually ended up with. All this points to regression but Florida St. is so good it might not matter. They get Clemson, Notre Dame & Florida at home. Granted they Miami-FL & Louisville on the road & they have a non-conference game against Oklahoma St. but really FSU didn’t have much luck when it came to close games or Pythagorean. While they lost a lot, they return a lot & the talent at FSU is arguably the best in the nation. Even with a regression to the mean with TO margin, Florida St. has a real chance to go undefeated in the regular season for a second year!
#2 Charlie Strong went out with a bang at Louisville & had a little help from Lady Luck as the Cardinals finished 3-1 in close games with a +17 TO margin! Louisville’s Pythagorean of .893 suggested they were .39 wins worse than their final 12-1 record would show. All of this points towards regression & L’Ville might be in for a rough year. They lose QB Teddy Bridgewater & the defense loses 7 starters & 7 of their top-9 tacklers from a unit that allowed 12.2PPG which ranked #2 nationally! The ACC isn’t the AAC and that’s reflected in the schedule. Louisville has road games against Clemson & Notre Dame. They have a non-conference game against Kentucky & also draw Miami-FL from the Coastal. There is still a lot of talent here & Bobby Petrino can coach some serious football, but taken together as a whole, it’s hard to see Louisville not taking a step back from 12-1 a year ago.
#3 After having back-to-back 11-2 seasons & a 32-8 record over the last 3, it’s about time for Clemson to step up & challenge for a national title. Unfortunately Lady Luck could be swinging the other way. Clemson benefited from a +6 TO margin & a 2-0 record in close games. Their Pythagorean of .767 showed they were 1.03 win worse than their 11-2 record, the 4th luckiest mark in the ACC! This points towards a step back in 2014 & the schedule suggests this too. It doesn’t help that Clemson plays Georgia & South Carolina as non-conference games! That’s ridiculous. They get Florida St. & Georgia Tech on the road. They drew North Carolina from the Coastal. They return only 12 starters & will likely have true frosh Deshaun Watson playing QB. This is still Clemson so talent is abundant, but if Luck goes the other way this could easily be a 6-8 win team by year’s end.
#4 It’s amazing to think Georgia Tech had the 4th best Pythagorean in the ACC & somehow managed to finish 7-6. Lady Luck hated the Yellow Jackets last year as GT suffered through a -4 in TO margin along with an 0-2 record in close games. Their .702 Pythagorean suggests GT was 2.13 wins BETTER than their actual record which was by far the unluckiest mark in the conference. All of this points towards serious regression towards winning for the Ramblin’ Wreck! Paul Johnson runs the triple option system which is extremely difficult to defend & doesn’t depend on so much continuity to succeed so GT returning 6 starters on offense isn’t crushing. It doesn’t help they return 4 on defense though. They avoid FSU & L’Ville out of the Atlantic but get VT, UNC, Pitt, & Georgia on the road. They also draw Clemson. Luck should be on GT’s side & they can win big if they win at home.
#5 The Tar Heels are another team trending upwards for 2014. The +2 in TO margin isn’t that significant, but UNC went 1-2 in close games & their Pythagorean of .641 suggests they were 1.33 wins better than their final record of 7-6. Larry Fedora runs a high octane offense & Carolina hasn’t disappointed here averaging 41PPG in 2012 & 33PPG in 2013. This season should be UNC’s best yet offensively as they return 8 starters on offense including QB Marquise Williams who won’t be a new starter. The defense should be better too with 7 starters returning along with 9 of their top-12 tacklers. UNC avoids FSU & L’Ville from the Atlantic & get VT, GT & Pitt at home. Road dates at Notre Dame, Clemson & Miami-FL are daunting but could be wins for the Tar Heels. With no Florida St. and Lady Luck looking to turn towards UNC, it’s not out of the question for UNC to run the table!
#6 I love what Al Golden is doing in Coral Gables but this could be a tough season for the Hurricanes. Miami was 3-0 in close games last year & had a +5 TO margin which actually bumps up to +12 if you look at the past 2 seasons. Their .615 Pythagorean suggests Miami was a 1.00 games worse than their 9-4 record shows. This all points towards Miami-FL regressing a bit in 2014, but what makes Miami-FL interesting is that Golden has improved his win total every season since his first & this is the best team he’s had, but the schedule isn’t kind. They draw L’Ville & Florida St. from the Atlantic & have to play Georgia Tech & Virginia Tech on the road. They even have a non-conference road game against Nebraska & another with Cincinnati. Looking at the schedule combined with how Lady Luck is likely to shy away from “THE U” this year, a down year is more than likely.
#7 Duke is another interesting team out of the ACC. They are coming off arguably the greatest season in school history, going 10-4 & winning the ACC Atlantic division! They couldn’t finish well losing to Florida St. in the ACC title game & then dropping a close one to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but Duke going 10-4!? It’s unheard of. They did get lucky benefiting from a 4-2 close games record & being +1 in TO margin. The TO margin doesn’t mean much but Duke’s Pythagorean of .602 shows they were 1.57 wins worse than their final record which was the luckiest mark in the ACC! What’s interesting is that Duke actually returns quite a bit & the schedule isn’t brutal as they avoid FSU, L’Ville & Clemson from the Coastal! They get VT & UNC at home & Duke beat both of them on the road last season. They’ll regress with respect to luck, but Duke could still win some games.
#8 The Irish aren’t in the ACC but I’m placing them here because ND is an ACC team in every respect except football & they’ll start playing an ACC-centric schedule. The Irish don’t show any luck when it comes to their TO margin which was ZERO but Notre Dame did enjoy a 5-2 record in close games & their Pythagorean of .597 shows they were 1.24 wins worse than their 9-4 record indicates. All of this points towards regression & let’s not forget just how much talent the Irish lost to the 2014 NFL Draft. The schedule doesn’t do ND any favors as they have road games against Florida St. & USC not to mention home dates against Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Northwestern & Louisville! HC Brian Kelly has a massive amount of talent in South Bend & Everett Golson returns as QB so this is probably a better team than last year’s but regression & schedule kill Notre Dame.
#9 Virginia Tech is the first team we come to that is essentially treading water. The Hokies were +7 in TO margin last year but 2-3 in close games. Their Pythagorean of .577 shows they were 0.50 games worse than their final 8-5 record would show. Things haven’t been easy in Blacksburg of late as the Hokies are an uncharacteristic 13-11 over the last 2 seasons finishing outside the top-25 in both years. This year luck could run either way but the schedule is favorable for a good run. They avoid FSU, Clemson & L’Ville from the Atlantic & get GT & Miami-FL at home. They do play at UNC & have a road game against Ohio St., but if luck swings their way & VT takes care of business in Lane Stadium, there is no reason to think Virginia Tech couldn’t get back to double-digit wins. It sounds crazy, but I think Logan Thomas graduating actually helps their prospects quite a bit.
#10 Pittsburgh is another team somewhat treading water. They were -1 in TO margin although they were 4-2 in close games. Their Pythagorean of .484 suggests they were 0.78 wins worse than their 7-6 final record would indicate. You could argue the Panthers are in line for regression & that wouldn’t be too far off considering they are +20 in TO margin over the past 5 seasons! Pitt actually draws a pretty decent schedule managing to avoid FSU, Clemson & L’Ville out of the Atlantic & getting GT & VT at home. They return 8 starters on offense although they do lose QB Tom Savage. A bigger loss is DT Aaron Donald but the defense might actually be better considering Pitt gave up 27.2PPG last season! They have a very favorable schedule & if Pittsburgh can win home games & not get killed by regression, they could be one of the more surprising teams during the ’14 season.
#11 Boston College could be in for a rough season in Steve Addazio’s 2nd year at the helm. The Eagles benefited from a +3 TO margin along with a 2-1 record in close games. Their Pythagorean of .478 suggests they were 0.78 wins WORSE than their final 7-6 record. This is likely to mean regression for BC, but what compounds the issue is how inexperienced this team is going to be. They lose RB Andre Williams (2177yds!) & QB Chase Rettig along with both OTs and their top-4 receivers. They only have 3 starters returning on offense. Just 6 come back from a defense that allowed 29PPG! The Atlantic is no easy division at the top & BC has a road game against VT. USC is a brutal non-conference game but Colorado St. won’t be easy. Given the schedule, regression & the youth of this team, Boston College could suck, but Adazio will get the most out of this group.
#12 Syracuse is another ACC team treading water. They were +2 in TO margin in 2013 but were -2 in 2012 making it mostly a wash and they haven’t seen much variation in TO margin over the last few seasons. They were also 2-2 in close games. What is interesting about the Orange is that their Pythagorean of .444 suggests they were 1.23 wins WORSE than their final 7-6 record. That shows some potential for regression for Syracuse which isn’t good news as it was the 3rd luckiest mark in the conference! Given the TO margin & the record in close games I’d say Syracuse is treading water, but the schedule could conspire against the Cuse. They get Wake Forest, Pittsburgh & Boston College, all winnable games normally, on the road which will make them tougher. They do avoid UNC, VT & Miami out of the Coastal, but Syracuse will need Lady Luck to shine to get back to a bowl.
#13 Wake Forest is another team that is basically treading water. While the 0-4 record in close games would suggest a big turnaround, Wake Forest was -2 in TO margin in ’13 after being +17 in TO margin from 2011-2012! Their Pythagorean of .367 suggests they were 0.40 wins better than their final 4-8 record which doesn’t indicate much of anything. Like Duke, Indiana & Kansas, Wake Forest just has a hard time winning football games given their situation. New HC Dave Clawson takes over for Jim Grobe who was a helluva head coach. Clawson did great things at Bowling Green & he’ll have his work cut out for him. Wake brings back just 5 starters on offense & defense. For the most part Wake Forest didn’t do too bad on their schedule avoiding UNC & Miami-FL from the Coastal, but did draw Virginia Tech. Maybe if Lady Luck shines BRIGHT they can win a few games.
#14 NC State enters the 2014 season basically treading water when it comes to predictive measures. They were ZERO in TO margin last year & 1-0 in close games. Their Pythagorean of .367 suggests they were 1.37 wins better than their final record of 3-9 in HC Dave Doeren’s first season Raleigh. What you have to look at is the environment NC State will play in this season to see if they can capitalize on Lady Luck. The team as a whole should get better as 7 starters return on both offense & defense. The Atlantic is a tough division but the Wolfpack have 4 winnable non-conference games. They avoid VT & Miami-FL out of the Coastal & get teams like Boston College & Wake Forest at home. Those 6 games right there get NC State bowl eligible at 6-6. If Lady Luck swings their way with close wins & a positive TO margin then there is no reason NC State can’t get to a bowl in ’14.
#15 There is a lot to like about Virginia coming into 2014. Their predictive measures show UVA to be regression towards the winning side of the ledge as they were -5 in TO margin & 1-1 in close games while their Pythagorean of .261 suggests they are 1.13 games BETTER than their 2-10 final record would show. It’s also worth mentioning that Mike London’s Cavaliers squads are -33 in TO margin in the 4-years he’s been head coach in Charlottesville. At some point the ball has to bounce Virginia’s way. Virginia brings back 17 starters so things look good. The problem is the schedule! Virginia draw both Louisville & Florida St. out of the Atlantic & have non-conference games against UCLA & BYU! Potential wins against Duke & GT are on the road while UNC & Miami-FL comes to Scott Stadium. Even a huge boost from Lady Luck might not help London keep his job for 2015.

PYTHAGOREAN WINNING PERCENTAGE

Florida St.: .948
Louisville: .893
Clemson: .767
Georgia Tech: .702
North Carolina: .641
Miami-FL: .615
Duke: .602
Notre Dame: .597
Virginia Tech: .577
Pittsburgh: .484
Boston College: .478
Syracuse: .444
Wake Forest: .367
NC State: .364
Virginia: .261

LUCK

Duke: +1.57
Notre Dame: +1.24
Syracuse: +1.23
Clemson: +1.03
Miami-FL: +1.00
Boston College: +0.78
Florida St.: +0.73
Pittsburgh: +0.71
Virginia Tech: +0.50
Louisville: +0.39
Wake Forest: -0.40
Virginia: -1.13
North Carolina: -1.33
NC State: -1.37
Georgia Tech: -2.13

TURNOVER MARGIN

Florida St.: +17
Louisville: +17
Virginia Tech: +7
Clemson: +6
Miami-FL: +5
Boston College: +3
North Carolina: +2
Syracuse: +2
Duke: +1
NC State: 0
Notre Dame: 0
Pittsburgh: -1
Wake Forest: -2
Georgia Tech: -4
Virginia: -5

RECORD IN GAMES DECIDED BY 7 POINTS OR FEWER

Miami-FL: 3-0
Clemson: 2-0
Florida St.: 1-0
NC State: 1-0
Louisville: 3-1
Notre Dame: 5-2
Duke: 4-2
Pittsburgh: 4-2
Boston College: 2-1
Syracuse: 2-2
Virginia: 1-1
Virginia Tech: 2-3
North Carolina: 1-2
Georgia Tech: 0-2
Wake Forest: 0-4

July 13, 2014 Posted by | ACC, Analytics, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida St., Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami-FL, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Predictions, Previews, Rankings, Statistics, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest | Leave a comment