2010 NCAA Football: SEC Preview

31 08 2010

For the third year in a row the Florida Gators could battle the Alabama Crimson Tide in the SEC Championship game, however, this time around, the outcome may not give the winner a berth to the BCS National Title game.  No.  2010 will show shades of seasons past, but, by no means are either of these prolific programs superhuman anymore.

In Gainsville, the Gators will be moving on from the Tim Tebow era- an era that saw a BCS National Championship, a Sugar Bowl win, and the Gator nation on top of the world.  Now, the man known as “Superman” is replaced by mild-mannered John Brantley, who has been patiently waiting his turn in line.  Brantley may not possess the grit, mobility or swagger found in Tebow, but, instead, the junior quarterback does boost patience in the pocket, and the ability to drop back and air out balls deeper than Tebow could ever imagine doing.

Alabama might have it in tough this season.  Sure, many have already pegged the ‘Tide as repeat BCS champions this season, but maybe people need to take off their red crimson hats for a second and realize that this squad may not be like the ones brought out over the past couple seasons.  No.  This is an Alabama team that returns two starters on defense.  Yes. Two. The unit ranked second nationally against the rush (78.1), fewest points allowed per game (11.7), and total defense.  Oh, and one of the returners, Dont’a Hightower, yeah, he only started four games in 2009.  So, technically, the Tide return one true starter.  The Crimson Tide may be loaded offensively, but so is the rest of the SEC.  A subpar defense will only spell for disaster.

Arkansas will be a huge threat to Alabama this season.  Ryan Mallet is ready to breakout in 2010, and he’s bringing weapons with him to do so.  We aren’t just talking small arms here.  The receivers are loaded with speed and talent with Jarius Wright and Joe Adams leading the way.  These guys are fast, so opposing defenses should be accustomed to the view of the back of these Razorbacks jerseys.  The defense was lacking in 2009, but could show promise this year based on the return of seven personnel who gained much needed experience against top-tier SEC programs.

Les Miles is definitely on the hot seat in 2010 as his LSU Tigers haven’t provided the “roar” they used to.  The offense that is lead by Jordan Jefferson is not one that can withstand the score-turning stylings of the SEC.  Jefferson is a mediocre pivot at best and must get his interceptions down.  LSU shot themselves in the foot in 2009 with the mismanagement of the clock that cost the Tigers big losses.  The defense returns only four starters and the inexperience could be the downfall for LSU.  Shotty defenses only lose games, and that’s what the Tigers will do.  Les Miles’ team will not be contenders in 2010, and instead, the Tigers will end up scratching and clawing their way to a bowl game.

Elsewhere in the SEC West Division, Ole Miss may bring out a defense that is ready to contend with the best offenses of the SEC, but, the offense won’t.  This is due to new players at almost every position, not to mention a new quarterback, new running back and new receivers who lack big-game experience.  Ole Miss will also not be welcoming former Oregon Duck cast away Jeremiah Masoli, afterall.  Bad move by the Rebels.  With Masoli at centre, they would have owned a discount bin version of  Tim Tebow.

Mississippi State will be better than their 5-7 record from last season.  Chad Bumphis might be one of the brightest and most unappreciated receivers in the SEC.  This could be a breakout year for the sophomore receiver, considering that the rest of the receiving troops are nothing to write home about.  The lack of playmakers at receiver will open doors wide for the tight ends.  Marcus Green, get those hands ready.

With Tebow, Spikes, Cooper and Haden gone from Florida, does this open the door for Georgia or even South Carolina in the East?


Georgia may be a contender this year for the East crown, but, they lack a quarterback.  Aaron Murray or Logan Gray, whoever it is, the plan is simple.  Get the ball to A.J. Green, and let him work his magic.  If either of these two pivots muck around with the plan then chances are the Bulldogs will be settling for a 7-5 season (at best).  Oh, and Georgia better do something about that leaky defense.  Special teams may be the Bulldogs strongest asset.  Drew Butler lead the country in punting average (48.1 yards) and Blair Walsh was ranked in the top three in placekickers nationally.

Elsewhere, Tennessee will begin its rebuilding process after losing key leaders and playmakers to graduation and the NFL draft.  Eric Berry may have left too big of a void for the Volunteers to fill in such a short time.  Also, having to deal with a third coach in as many years does take its toll mentally.

Kentucky and Vanderbilt have the worst defenses in the offensively powerful SEC.  Kentucky finished 11th in the conference in 2009, while Vandy’s inability to stop the run (105th in the nation) could pose a lot of problems, not to mention the Commodores ranked 110th in the country in total offense.

South Carolina could be the dark horse in the East and the best team to go toe-to-toe with the Gators.   Stephen Garcia has gained a lot of valuable experience in his three years at quarterback and it seems like the pivot has finally found his groove.  If only Garcia can learn to get rid of the ball a bit better, he won’t be picking pieces of turf from his helmet.  Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks return 17 starters from 2009, seven of which are on defense.  The Gamecocks have a solid defense built around cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

SEC Predictions


1.  Florida Gators: No Tebow?  No problem.  John Brantley impressed the Gator nation during spring drills and is focused on getting Florida back to the BCS promised land.  Okay, it might not happen in 2010, but Florida will still take the East crown, and spoil ‘Bama’s season.

The Gator defense is stacked with big playmakers in Will Hill, Brandon Hicks and Justin Trattou and will provide great leadership just as those before them did.  Offensively, Jeff Demps may be small, but  he’s a touchdown threat any time he carries the ball.  Demps will get called upon more often now that the Gators don’t have Tebow on third-down and short.

2.  South Carolina Gamecocks

3.  Georgia Bulldogs

4.  Kentucky Wildcats

5.  Tennessee Volunteers

6.  Vanderbilt Commodores


1.  Alabama Crimson Tide: The Tide have an offense that is loaded with depth and dangerous weapons, however, Nick Saban should have a back up plan for the defending champions in case something were to happen to their prized 2009 Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram.  Trust me on this one.

Greg McElroy is probably the best QB in the SEC with Tebow out of the picture in Florida, and will have both of his receivers returning in Marquis Maze and Julio Jones to haul in the big passes.  Sure the offense is stacked and primed to make a mess of the scoreboards, but the focus right now for the Tide should be on their weak and inexperienced defense.  Seven starters are juniors, and they lack the leadership skills Ronaldo McClain brought to the unit over the past two undefeated seasons.  Expectations are high for the Tide in 2010.  Here’s a few bold and sensible predictions:

Alabama will have a hard time with Arkansas on September 25th, but will edge out a victory.  The following week, the Gators will upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa and end Alabama’s bid at a BCS Championship repeat.  Don’t count on the Tide taking the SEC title, either.

2.  Arkansas Razorbacks

3.  LSU Tigers

4.  Auburn Tigers

5.  Ole Miss Rebels

6.  Mississippi State Bulldogs

SEC Champions: Florida Gators (Floirda Gators over Alabama Crimson Tide)

Top 25 Alert: Florida Gators, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks.

Games to Watch in 2010

September 11-  Georgia at South Carolina

September 18-  Arkansas at Georgia

September 25-  Alabama at Arkansas

September 25-  West Virginia at LSU

October 2-  Florida at Alabama

October 9-  LSU at Florida

October 9-  Arkansas vs. Texas A&M  (at Arlington, TX)

October 30-  Georgia vs. Florida (at Jacksonville, FL)

November 6-  Alabama at LSU

November 13-  South Carolina at Florida

November 27-  Florida at Florida State


2010 NCAA Football: Big 12 Conference Preview

30 08 2010

No time on the clock.  Wait, what?  One second?  A Texas Second.  It’s good.  It’s gone.  The party that wasn’t.

These are all things that Cornhusker fans have been mulling over, and have been eating away at them over the last eight months.


Nebraska will get Texas in their own yard on October 16, 2010.  This is the game of the year in the Big 12, so mark your calendars, people.  This time the Longhorns will be without key personnel that helped them avoid the near-upset in 2009, so it could be expected that the ‘Horns see their BCS Championship dreams shattered in Lincoln.  Okay, well, maybe not.  It will probably happen against the Sooners two weeks before the game against the ‘Huskers.

C’mon.  Texas is lead by Garrett Gilbert.  Yes, the same Gilbert who couldn’t find his helmet and scrambled around the sidelines on national television during what will be the biggest game of his colligate career, and he looked like a spaz.  But, the predecessor to Colt McCoy has shown very impressive improvements.  No longer is the sophomore quarterback just slinging balls wildly around the field, praying they’re caught by a member of his own team, no, young Garrett Gilbert has settled in to his new role during spring drills.  However, the pressure that comes with the territory of suiting up with the Longhorns may eat away at the young pivot.  This may not be the year the ‘Horns want to have, but at least they won’t be clawing their way out of the division basement.

Will we see the return of the Sooners this season?  With Sam Bradford gone, will OU take a backseat to Texas in the North Division?  Not likely.  In 2009, the Sooners may have endured the worst season under Bob Stoops, but OU will be back with a vengeance this season.

They return big playmakers in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles, so the offense will not be lacking when it comes to flipping numbers on the scoreboard.  The defense is all smoke and mirrors.  It appears that the Sooners lack experience and depth, but, Frank Alexander and Jeremy Beal will patrol the ends, and senior linebacker Travis Lewis will prove to be the anchor for this unit.  Speed, quick reads and a defense that possesses the personnel to be difference-makers will challenge Nebraska for top squad in both the conference and nation.

Texas A&M will see quarterback Jerrod Johnson give it all he’s got in hopes of bettering the Aggies 6-7 season from 2009.  The senior quarterback has an arm that is built for the deep pass, but, the receivers lack playmakers and speed to help Johnson’s cause.  Other issues that could hold the Aggies down and out of contention will be their sputtering defense.  Sure, A&M will return linebacker Von Miller, who lead the nation in sacks (17) in 2009, but it also returns eight others who were responsible for ranking the Aggies 105th in total defense.  Special teams will need improvements as well as A&M finished 10th or worse in the conference in punting and kickoff coverage, as well as punt return average.

Texas Tech will be sniffing around the top of the division for a while, but, Tommy Tuberville is not expected to lead the Red Raiders to greatness in his first year.  The ground game was awful in 2009 as the Red Raiders finished 115th nationally.  If Texas Tech want to stay away from the cellar, they need to fine tune the run before the start of this season.  No clear cut quarterback to start the season?  That’s no surprise.  Really, how can you get a gage on a starting pivot if they’re all bouncing on and off the injury list?  Instead, Tech fans, enjoy posting a few upsets over some of the best of the Big 12, and understand that this is a trial and error season.

The Big 12 North Division may be stacked with power, but the same can’t be said for the South.  Nebraska will have a cake walk to another division title, but Mizzou will be there nipping at the ‘Huskers heels.  Next year, the Tigers should enjoy the slim pickings of the South Division with the absence of Nebraska, but until then, they’ll just have to settle.

The Missouri Tigers have the speed on defense that should improve the unit from last year, however, leaks may spring and cause problems while defending in the red zone.  On offense, quarterback Blaine Gabbert will lead young receiving troops into battle in the “Shoot ’em up” style that resides in the conference.  Derrick Washington will be called upon to step up the running game- something that the Tigers lacked in 2009.

Iowa State takes on a tough non-conference schedule with games against Northern Illinois, Iowa, and Utah who are all considered to be the cream of the crop in their respective conferences.  Pair that with their road visits in back-to-back weeks to Texas and Oklahoma, and Paul Rhodes Cyclones will be playing to gain experience and not contention.  The receiving core is talented and loaded with speed and great hands with Jake Williams and Darius Darks, so expect big plays and highlight reel catches from these bright stars.

Kansas State broke even last year by splitting their Big 12 record (4-4) and their non-conference games (2-2).  The Wildcats could play spoilers in the North, but, K-State needs to get into the red zone more often if they plan to keep up with the rest of the pack.  A new quarterback and new receivers are going to take some time breaking in,  however, senior quarterback Carson Coffman will take a crack at the leadership role and keeping the troops rallied.  Considering how thin Kansas State is on experience on both sides of the ball, any set back due to injury will be the dagger in their season.

Kansas and Colorado boasted underachieving numbers in 2009, and expect the trend to continue again in 2010. The Buffaloes need to be more patient, and disciplined on the field.  They took too many costly penalties and were averaging -0.50 turnovers per game.  Colorado really needs to work on their offense because 22.3 points a game is not going to cut it int he Big 12, and if the Buffs post another losing season, coach Dan Hawkins can compare pink slips with Rich Rodriguez of Michigan.

Big 12 Conference Predictions


1.  Nebraska Cornhuskers: Defensive tackle Jared Crick will take over Ndamukong Suh’s troops on defense, and what a force to do so.  He worked side by side with Suh, so there should be no problems with Crick as a true leader to this defense.  Zac Lee will lead the offense that was mediocre, but managed to understand that clock control is a bigger offensive threat than lighting up the scoreboards.  The schedule swings into the Cornhuskers favor this year with their only major test against the Longhorns in a Big 12 rematch from the conference championship game in 2009.

2.  Missouri Tigers

3.  Kansas State Wildcats

4.  Kansas Jayhawks

5.  Colorado Buffaloes

6.  Iowa State Cyclones


1.  Oklahoma Sooners: Surprise!  Yes, Bob Stoops will be out for blood this year and so will the Sooners team who want to redeem themselves from last season’s debacle.  The healthier Oklahoma stays, the bigger the possibility of a BCS National Championship berth.  After posting an eight win season, this young OU squad will be poised to run the table- that includes a big victory over Mac Brown’s Longhorns in Dallas on October 2.

Eight returning starters on offense including DeMarco Murray at running back, Ryan Broyles catching balls from quarterback Landry Jones, and a defense that is lead by linebacker Travis Lewis and defensive end Jeremy Beal that will be able to continue Oklahoma’s stingy defensive stylings of the past.

2.  Texas Longhorns

3.  Texas A&M Aggies

4.  Texas Tech Red Raiders

5.  Oklahoma State Cowboys

6.  Baylor Bears

Big 12 Champions: Oklahoma Sooners (Oklahoma Sooners defeat Nebraska Cornhuskers)

Top 25 Alert: Texas Longhorns, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Oklahoma Sooners, Missouri Tigers

2010 NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference Preview

29 08 2010

Everyone who watched the Rose Bowl game last year between the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes witnessed the butterfly that emerged from the cacoon in OSU’s Terrelle Pryor.  If there’s still doubters out there, please, get your hands on a copy of the game, watch it again, and again if you’re still a naysayer, and then come back to join everyone else who believes the junior quarterback is legit.

Pryor achieved the last thing he was missing from his personal arsenal in that game, and that was the ability to be a true leader.  A player that leaves everything on the field.  Bleeds, sweats and reps his school colors proudly with the “never give up” attitude and is willing to put his body on the line, and take a game in his own hands.  Pryor showed his inner “Tebow” on January 1, 2010, and this new attribute should have the rest of the Big Ten and every other program in the nation worried when the Buckeyes appear on their schedule.

Ohio State, armed with Pryor and eight others who return on offense, and seven on defense aren’t looking for another Rose Bowl bid.  No, the Buckeyes want it all in 2010.  This squad comes in as a pre-season favorite to challenge Alabama, half of the SEC, Boise State and Texas as front runners for a BCS National Championship berth.  Who’s going to stop them?

Well, the Big Ten isn’t loaded like it used to be.  This is definitely not your grandfather’s Big Ten conference, nor is it your father’s.  The new era of the Big Ten isn’t what it used to be.

No longer are the OSU-Michigan games a matter of upmost importance considering how the Wolverines are free-falling down the standings under Rich Rodriquez (P.S-  Rich Rodriguez will get canned in 2010.  Enjoy unemployment, bud), Indiana and Minnesota have consistently been dreadful, Michigan State are still looking to get out from Michigan’s shadow, Purdue are still searching for their own swagger under Danny Hope (in his second year with the Boilermakers), Illinois…well…it could be much worse.  Wait.  Let’s be honest.  They’re no Northwestern.  The Wildcats and Iowa both seem to be enjoying the new Big Ten as they’re ascending up the conference ranks and proving that they can hang with the big boys.

Oh, and let’s not forget Penn State.  The Nittany Lions have a new quarterback, lack experience defensively, and have a coach who may be searching a little too hard for one last hurrah.  It’s understandable that the Penn State enjoyed much success over the past couple years, but that was during the Daryll Clark era.  Now that he’s gone, the ‘Lions will spend the next while trying to regain their “roar”.

The only threat to Ohio State (besides themselves) will be the Wisconsin Badgers.   Wisconsin might be the David to the Goliath that is the Buckeyes.  Many have said that in 2010 the road to the BCS National Championship runs through, and will possibly be decided in Madison on October 16.

Big Ten Conference Predictions

1.  Ohio State Buckeyes: In a scenario where Terrelle Pryor plays every game, yes, every game like he did in the Rose Bowl last season then the Buckeyes will cruise to their sixth consecutive Big Ten title.  Seven defensive starters return from the defense that ranked fifth in total defense, points allowed, and turnover margin, not to mention seventh against the run.  If they can hold teams to under 12.5 points per game again they’ll be laughing all the way to the BCS Championship game.

2.  Wisconsin Badgers: Quarterback Scott Tolzien will play his senior year with nine others that he shared the field with in 2009.  10 returning starters from an offense that averaged 417 yards and 32 points per game is enough to push the Badgers into the runner-up spot in the Big Ten.  John Clay is poised to have a breakout year and live up to the marquee tag as one of the best running backs in the conference.  Watch out, Mark Ingram, this Badger back wants to out work you for best in the nation.  Wisconsin will miss tight end Garrett Graham, who hauled in 51 of Tolzien’s balls last year, but this could be where receivers Nick Toon and Lance Kendricks become household names.

3.  Iowa Hawkeyes: Hey Ricky you’re so fine, you’re so fine…but it won’t be your time.  Stanzi and the Hawkeyes will not get to the promised land in 2010.  Try the Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl.  The defense is stellar with eight returning, and lead by end Adrian Clayborn who enjoyed a wonderful 2009 season with 11.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss.  Opposing teams should be watching for safety Tyler Sash because this junior has already set a school-record with 350 yards off interceptions.  It’s such a shame to see the monster Stanzi and coach Kirk Ferentz created come to an end like this.

4.  Michigan State Spartans: Sparty as the dark horse of the Big Ten?  Why not.  Look, the team isn’t that bad.  I mean, really, they’re not like their cross-state rivals.  You want bad, you go check out what’s going on in Ann Arbor.  If you’re looking for a group who want to prove something, you check out what’s going on in East Lansing.  Mark Dantino has his squad on a revenge mission.  The Spartans lost some really tight games in 2009, and are looking for redemption.  Kirk Cousins is the conference’s most accurate passer, the linebacker situation is a force you don’t want any part of if you’re the opposing offense, because Eric Gordon and Greg Jones can, and will bring the pain all Saturday long.

5.  Penn State Nittany Lions: Road stops at Alabama, Iowa, and Ohio State paired with the lack of a true leader and an uncertainty at quarterback will push Joe Pa’s bunch down the ranks and back to normalcy this year.  Evan Royster might be the lone bright spot for the Nittany Lions, but not even he will be able to dig the team out of holes the young defense puts them in.  It’s going to be messy, folks.  Joe Paterno’s farewell will not go smoothly.

6.  Northwestern Wildcats

7.  Michigan Wolverines

8.  Illinois Fighting Illini

9.  Purdue Boilermakers

10.  Minnesota Gophers

11.  Indiana Hoisers

Top 25 Alert: Ohio State Buckeyes, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes

2010 NCAA Football: Pac-10 Preview

23 08 2010

With all the turmoil the Pac-10 produced in the offseason it’s surprising that MTV didn’t sink its teeth into it and come up with a reality program based around the conference’s drama.

Mighty Duck Jeremiah Masoli really robbed himself of a potential NCAA BCS National Championship for this upcoming season after being suspended from the Oregon team due to his involvement in an on-campus burglary.  Three months later, Masoli was cited for drug trafficking and was booted off the team by coach Chip Kelly.  Fret not, Masoli fans.  The former Ducks star has packed his bags and heading to the SEC to join Ole Miss.  Enjoy eating turf, Jeremiah.  The defenses will feast on you all Saturday long.

Then there’s the USC scandal that will see the program ineligible for bowl contention over the next two seasons which also marks the first time in seven years that USC will not participate in a bowl game. Sticking with the Trojans; departed is Pete Carroll and in is Lane Kiffin.  Yes, THAT Lane Kiffin.  Mr. “I’ve held three head coaching jobs with three different programs over the past four years.”  Geez.  This guy changes jobs like he does his underwear.

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the trouble Lane got into in the offseason with his luring of former Tennessee Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola.  It’s not the first time Kiffin has been involved in tampering with an NFL team’s staff.  Do you remember when he made a similar move in 2008 when he hired Oakland Raiders assistant James Cregg?  Kiffin is bad news for the Trojans, and will do what Rich Rodriguez has done at Michigan by destroying the integrity and image of their respective football programs.

Setting aside the drama off the field, the Pac-10 did have it’s fair share of on-field dramatics as well in 2009.  Let’s skip past the punch by LeGarrette Blount and look at the “positive” and entertaining drama that took place last season, such as Washington’s stunner over USC, then the Trojans getting absolutely shut down in Eugene, Oregon by the Ducks, and how about Oregon’s “Conference Championship” victory over Oregon State on December 3 in what was the most stunning, electrifying and intense game of the season; yes it out-did Stanford’s late rally win over Notre Dame (Stanford 45- Notre Dame 38) the week before.

Can 2010 stack up to the 2009 season?

The USC Trojans may have quarterback Matt Barkley returning, but, he alone cannot save the team.  No.  12 total returning starters from 2009, a new coach, and really, nothing to play for this season.  It should be a fun first season for Lane Kiffin.  Hmm.  I wonder which Pac-10 coach Kiffin will decide to call out?

The Rodgers brothers are looking at one last season of togetherness as James will suit up for his last as a Beaver.  It’s a well known fact that Jacquizz possesses the best feet in the nation.  His small frame (5’7, 188 LBS) allows the speedy running back to shift around and create his own holes against the defense.  This could very well be the season that Jacquizz runs away with a Heisman Trophy.  Oregon State may have the edge in the Pac-10 this season as they enter 2010 drama free, returning 17 starters from last year, and a defense that adapted on the go and got better every game.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if the Beavers Rose Bowl dreams hinder on their December 4th meeting with in-state rivals Oregon Ducks.

The Washington Huskies went from a winless season in 2008, to a respectable five win season in 2009.  Wins last year versus Cal, USC and Arizona really helped pump quarterback Jake Locker up, not to mention the positive turn around Steve Sarkisian has had on the program.  17 starters make their return to help build on their five win season and make a push at a possible Pac-10 title.  The only problem will be found in the Huskies defense.  Inexperience may put the offense into big holes, but holes the offense potentially could get out of.  Jake Locker will light it up like the fourth of July this year, and give the NCAA his final fireworks show.

Stanford looks good going into this season even though they replaced NFL drafted running back Toby Gerhart.  The Cardinal can afford to take the pressure off of the ground game this year and go to the air for more big plays.  Andrew Luck returns at quarterback, and he brings back the majority of his offensive line from 2009 to help protect him.  Stanford must get more out of their receiving corp.  Ryan Whalen has speed issues but great hands, Chris Owusu is quick but can’t haul in the big-play passes.  These two really need to get their acts together if they plan on making a push for a bowl berth because the Pac-10 title could be too much of a pipe dream in 2010.

UCLA and Cal will provide some exciting games in their respective schedules, but, ultimately, these two football programs will see their ships begin to sink.  Cal has the easier schedule of the two, the better quarterback (barely) in senior Kevin Riley, and the better defense, but, UCLA has the better running back in Johnathan Franklin and arguably the best kicking game in the nation with Kai Forbath and Jeff Locke booting footballs down the field and through the uprights.

This year, Washington State could be the 2008 Washington Huskies.  Yes, this team returns 16 starters from their 2009 team that went 1-11.  This team has no bright spots, and if they do win a game, they should hold their heads high and proud.  Defensively unstable, no power surges within their offense, and nationally, the Cougars rank right near the bottom in every category.  If you’re a gambler, give looks towards over the totals in every Cougars game.

Pac-10 Conference Predictions

1.  Oregon Ducks- In the wacky and wild Pac-10, the Ducks will repeat as conference champions.  The underrated defense from last season is back, and so are nine of the eleven starters on offense.  Sure, Jeremiah Masoli will be missed at quarterback, but Nate Costa did flash many signs of greatness in appearances coming off the bench last year.  LaMichael James will improve on his running game and could be an 1,800 yard rusher due to the exit of Masoli’s option offense.  Receiver Jeff Maehl will be called upon more this year than last as he will be expected to be a true leader for the Ducks.  Costa has a great arm, so it will be Maehl’s responsibility to finish.

Head coach Chip Kelly and his Oregon team will likely circle October 30th on their calendar when they head to USC, and of course, their final game of the season at Oregon State on December 4th.  Oh, and Pac-10 quarterbacks should heed this warning:  Kenny Rowe has your number locked like a T-1000 on John Connor.  Rowe is probably looking to smash his Pac-10 leading sack numbers from last season (11.5 sacks).

2.  Oregon State Beavers

3.  USC Trojans

4.  Washington Huskies

5.  Stanford Cardinal

6.  Arizona Wildcats

7.  Cal Golden Bears

8.  UCLA Bruins

9.  Arizona State Sun Devils

10.  Washington State Cougars

Top 25 Alert: Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies

Games to Watch in 2010

September 4-  Oregon State at TCU (at Arlington, TX)

September 25-  Stanford at Notre Dame

September 25-  Oregon State at Boise State

October 2-  Washington at USC

October 2-  Stanford at Oregon

October 9-  USC at Stanford

November 27-  Notre Dame at USC

December 4-  Oregon at Oregon State

2010 NCAA Football: Atlantic Coast Conference

22 08 2010

Unlike the NFL which is dealing with the on and off again retirement saga of Brett Favre, the NCAA and ACC more specifically have ousted their variation of such dramas as the league, conference and Florida State football program all move forward after Bobby Bowden’s retirement last season.  No, the straw hat wearing 80 year-old will not be making any Brett Favre-like comebacks.  Hey, maybe the NFL should take a page out of the ACC’s books and force Favre into retiring.  Okay, that’s a whole different story.  Moving on.

Florida State will finally see what Jimbo Fisher can do on his own.  Many believe the shoes are too big to fill, and Fisher is in way over his head.   No conference title?  Disappointing 2010 season on the horizon?  No bowl berth?  Well, only one is possible, while the other two are too far fetched.

It’s almost impossible to see the Seminoles drop the ball this season and not win the Atlantic Division, and even more of a wild idea for the them to miss out on a bowl game.  The Atlantic Division is very top heavy right now, and the competition level is not quite a threat for Florida State’s gunning offense.

Clemson will not continue to ride the same success they did last season as they are without their workhorse C.J. Spiller who practically lead the Tigers to the conference title game against Georgia Tech.  How do you replace a guy who set 31 school records in his college career, and finished second on the NCAA all-time list with 7,588 all-purpose yards.  Oh, pair that with the exit of receiver Jacoby Ford and seven other starters from the 2009 team.  Identity crisis much?

Wake Forest may be way in over their heads this season.  A mediocre head coach with a new quarterback and a very spotty defense that was responsible for early holes in big games that the offense couldn’t climb out of in 2009.  Yikes.  Since winning the ACC in 2006, the Demon Deacons have been steadily descending down the standings.  A Recipe for disaster much?

Maryland will probably see the last of coach Ralph Friedgen this year.  After the dismal 2-10 season the Terrapins had last year, Friedgen is definitely feeling the heat in the Maryland kitchen.  The Terps secondary will be extremely thin this year as they see all new faces there.  This team was, and will continue to be a disaster.  Not even the offense can dig them out.  Why?  Because you’d need an offense to begin with which is something Maryland lacks.

NC State and Boston College will be teams competing for the Atlantic Division runner-up spot.  Boston College will need more consistency out of their sophomore quarterback Dave Shinskie to take the work load off of running back Montel Harris.  For the Wolf Pack, Russell Wilson wants nothing more than to put the 2009 season behind him and make 2010 a memorable one.  NC State have a very potent offense with Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams hauling in Wilson’s tosses, and will have no problem giving the scoreboard a workout.  Suspensions handed out to players on the Wolf Pack team will be costly, but, if they unite in these difficult times they will be the giant killers of the ACC.

In the Coastal Division, Virginia Tech possesses the biggest offensive threat.  Returning are Tyrod Taylor at QB, and his favorite targets, Jarrett Boykin, Danny Coale and Dyrell Roberts.  This trio combined for 92 receptions last season with an average of just under 20 yards per catch.  The Hokies will not only torch opponents in the air, but they will terrorize the defense on the ground as well.  The 1-2 punch of Ryan Williams and Darren Evans ranks right behind Alabama for best in the nation.

Georgia Tech will have no problem repeating their dominance on the ground that ranked second in the nation in rushing yards per game (295.4) and Joshua Nesbitt’s option offense play will also help run up the scoreboard.  Be a little cautious of new defensive coordinator Al Groh’s new schemes.  It may take some time for the line to adjust to the new look, but, it could pay off.  The depth in all the linebackers could be the biggest asset for the Yellow Jackets.  Don’t let the size fool you, there’s a ton of speed in Anthony Barnes and Brad Jefferson.

Virginia and Duke will embark in a “Basement Battle” where the loser will be banished to the division’s cellar and be known as the “Quasimodo” of the ACC.   North Carolina has emerged from the bottom of the division and flexed their muscles proving they aren’t just a basketball school anymore.  The Tar-Heels will do damage this year, and it could start as early as the season opening game with a win against LSU in Atlanta.   T.J. Yates is the Vince Carter of the Tar-Heels football program-  great player who couldn’t win a title.

Atlantic Coast Conference Predictions


1.  Florida State Seminoles- The Seminoles are stacked yet again with talent on both sides of the ball, and there is no way that Florida State’s savvy quarterback Christian Ponder is going to produce back-to-back mediocre seasons.  Like many other programs in the nation, teams do flourish offensively, but, inadequate defenses are where games are lost; especially the meaningful ones.  In 2009, three of the ‘Noles’ four losses to conference opponents were decided by five points or less, and out of the team’s 13 game season, six games were won and lost between that score margin.  If Florida State is going to contend this year, then new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops needs to put his zone blitz and zone coverage scheme into play and perfected early because the team’s schedule is a doozy.

Now, Florida State may not win the conference title, but they will improve on their 7-6 2009 record.  Yeah, an 8-4 season seems pretty realistic.  Hey, maybe they might score a home victory over the Tebow-less Gators this season and end up 9-3.  This team is legit.  Watch out for them.

2.  Boston College Eagles

3.  N.C. State Wolf Pack

4.  Clemson Tigers

5.  Wake Forest Demon Deacons

6.  Maryland Terrapins


1.  Miami Hurricanes- The ‘Canes return eight starters from 2009 on defense and will only build from last year’s collapse.  The speed, agility and fire this unit carried last season will only get more intense in 2010.  Many are comparing the look and play of this defense to that of the 2002 program that brick-walled their opposition in the regular season.  The “U” looks very tough this year, but a tough schedule may take it’s toll on the team.  QB Jacory Harris will provide that big-play power, and how about some love for the special teams now.  Kicker/Punter Matt Bosher has the golden foot and could again be money if the offense can’t punch in the points.  Bosher made all 90 extra-point attempts, 32 of 36 on field goal attempts, and 27 punts for 50 yards or more in 2009.

2.  Virginia Tech Hokies

3.  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

4.  North Carolina Tar-Heels

5.  Duke Blue Devils

6.  Virginia Cavaliers

ACC Champions: Miami Hurricanes (Miami Hurricanes defeat Florida State Seminoles)

Top 25 Alert: Miami Hurricanes, Florida State Seminoles, Virginia Tech Hokies, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Games to Watch in 2010

September 6-  Boise State at Virginia Tech (at Landover, MD)

September 11-  Miami at Ohio State

October 9-  Florida State at Miami

November 4-  Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech

November 13-  Miami at Georgia Tech

November 13-  Virginia Tech at North Carolina

November 20-  Virginia Tech at Miami

November 27-  Florida at Florida State

November 27-  North Carolina at Duke

2010 NCAA Football: Big East Conference Preview

17 08 2010

Noel Devine, “Backyard Brawl”, Thursday and Friday night headliner games, and a coaching carousel that seems to have stopped… for now.  Yep.  We’re in Big East territory now, folks.  Wait, Noel Devine is STILL around?  Well played, Mr. Devine, well played.

Last year, the Big East had six of their eight schools finish with records of 8-5 or better.  Sorry, Syracuse, but you’re probably going to be the Big East’s weakest link again, and Louisville’s fall from grace will continue in 2010.

What else can you be certain about in 2010?

Well, Cincinnati will not threepeat with QB Zach Collaros at centre and Butch Jones calling the shots.  The “Backyard Brawl” on November 26th will crown the Big East champion, South Florida will be on a major decline for the next two seasons as Skip Holtz rebuilds the Bulls, Connecticut will be the spoilers of the conference, and finally, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights sixth straight bowl appearance are in the cards considering they have the only QB with the most experience… and he’s only played 11 games.

Now, don’t go betting your mother’s finest china and dinnerware on anything just yet.

Here’s a few more notes to keep in mind for the 2010 season.

The Bearcats were one of the top teams in the nation offensively, but, that was during the Brian Kelly and Tony Pike era.  This is the Jones and Collaros era now, so don’t expect the same numbers as 2009 from Cincinnati’s offense.  They may come close, but, not good enough to land Cincinnati another Big East or even a share of the conference title.  Expect a few more loses than 2008 and 2009- looks like a possible 9-3 or even 8-4 record in ’10.

South Florida may have a little zip in their offense, but their defense will be a major issue in 2010.  The Bulls return only four starters which is the fewest in the Big East.  Yikes.  Talk about building from the ground up.  In order to compete in the Big East, your defense must be top-notch, and the inexperience will only send South Florida tumbling down the conference.

Rutgers has the most experienced quarterback in the Big East.  Yep.  Tom Savage not only was an All-American last year, but, he started 11 games… the most by any QB currently starting in the Big East.  Looking at the Scarlet Knights defense you have to admit it’s pretty adequate to sustain the threshold of the Big East’s gunslinging, point-mashing style of play.  Remember, the Knights return six starters of their defense that ranked 18th in the nation in 2009.  The only thing keeping the Knights away from a Big East title is their lack of moving the ball.  If Savage and running back Joe Martinek get into the swing of things early, then the Knights will easily compete for the crown.

Connecticut is a solid play for a dark horse.  Quarterback Zach Frazer had a stellar end to the season with eight TD passes in five games, and helped lead his team to a win against Notre Dame at South Bend, and then a solid performance to take the PapaJohns.com Bowl game against South Carolina.  Remember, the Huskies went through a devastating time when cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed to death on October 18th.  This year, UConn will put last year behind them and build towards achieving a Big East championship.  An interesting matchup on September 4th against Michigan will play a big role as to which direction the Huskies season will go.  An upset here will put the wheels in motion and get Connecticut on the right track.  The Huskies return 16 starters from 2009; eight on defense, eight on offense.  The chemistry and experience will only push the Huskies up mountain of the Big East.

Big East Conference Predictions

1.  Pittsburgh Panthers- Over the past two seasons, the Panthers could have wrapped up a Big East title, but instead fell to the Bearcats in the final weeks and saw their dreams shattered.  Well, like it was mentioned earlier- no Brian Kelly, no Tony Pike, no Bearcats Big East title.  Coach Dave Wannstedt will lead his Panthers into Salt Lake City, Utah on September 2nd to take on the Utah Utes.  A loss here would ultimately end Pittsburgh’s chances at a BCS Championship berth, and even put their Big East title dreams on hold until the “Backyard Brawl” game.  The difference maker for the Panthers is going to be running back Dion Lewis.  Yes, he will go over 1,800 yards this season (if he’s healthy) and could potentially be in the Heisman talks early on in the season.  A suspect quarterback situation could hold Pittsburgh down, though.

2.   West Virginia Mountaineers- Noel Devine is just one of the nine starters returning on offense, but not even this bunch will secure a Mountaineers Big East title.  Taking on LSU in Death Valley on September 25th will be the initial demise of the West Virginia title push.  Come “Backyard Brawl” time, the Pittsburgh Panthers might already have the conference all wrapped and ready to go.  Expect the defense to bail the Mountaineers out, and keep the team afloat.  West Virginia ranked 36th in the nation in total defense, and 37th against the run; a great stat to have considering the threat that Dion Lewis of the Panthers possesses.  Hey, Gino Smith really doesn’t need to be on the field all that much.  Yeah, the Mountaineers quarterback situation is going be very, very interesting to say the least.

3.  Connecticut Huskies

4.  Cincinnati Bearcats

5.  Rutgers Scarlet Knights

6.  South Florida Bulls

7.  Louisville Cardinals

8.  Syracuse Orange

Top 25 Alert: Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers

Games to Watch in 2010

September 2-  Pittsburgh at Utah

September 11-  South Florida at Florida

October 29-  West Virginia at Connecticut

November 13-  West Virginia at Cinncinati

November 20-  Rutgers at Cincinnati

November 26-  West Virginia at Pittsburgh

Previous 2010 NCAA Football Previews:  C-USA / MAC / WAC / MWC

2010 NCAA Football: Mountain West Conference Preview

16 08 2010

This conference is just a powerhouse.  Over the last five years, the MWC has a 51.0 (26-25) winning percentage against BCS conference programs which ranks third in the category behind the SEC (39-27) and the Pac-10 (28-24)

The Mountain West Conference may be the youngest out of all the conferences in the FBS, but, let’s all face the facts, the MWC is hands down one of the most exciting and explosive conferences in the game right now.  It’s no longer considered an “upset” when a BCS conference school loses to a program within the MWC (yeah, in 2009 Oklahoma and Oregon State fell to BYU, California and Louisville dropped their games to Utah, and Clemson couldn’t pull the trigger on TCU) and you can expect this trend to continue in 2010.

Air Force and Wyoming are definitely programs that are on their way up.  The Falcons could put on a good show on September 18th against Oklahoma, and maybe, just, maybe, the Wyoming Cowboys will stick around and make a game out of it against the Longhorns of Texas on September 11th.  Even if they don’t, there’s always the chance of these two dark horses playing the role of spoilers and ultimately make a mess within the conference.  Come on, who wouldn’t want to see Wyoming ruin Utah’s going away party?

TCU returns 18 starters from last year and are set to take the MWC title again and block Utah from a “farewell title”.  Hey, Utah, the biggest mistake you will ever make is packing up and heading to the Pac-10.  USC, Oregon and Oregon State are programs that will be sitting atop of the Pac-10 mountain for many years to come, and the Utes should be prepared to keep the conference basement warm during their stay.  So long, Utah, your 2010 season will be marred with disappointment, no final MWC crown, and a mediocre record at best.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Okay, let’s talk the rest of the conference…

BYU may have lost QB Max Hall, but, Jake Heaps could be just as big as his predessor.  Sure he’s just a freshman, but, Heaps will provide the same electricity and power that Hall did during his career at BYU.   The Cougars may not be ready for another conference title yet, but, give it a couple years.  It wouldn’t be a shock to anyone if BYU finishes third or even fourth in the conference considering they have a lot of work ahead of them.

San Diego State may have one of the most underrated QB’s in the conference in Ryan Lindley.   Lindley had a pretty stellar 2009 season finishing second statistically in the MWC, and will only get better considering the great chemistry he has with his receiving core.  The passing game can’t do all the work for the offense, so, this year the Aztecs need more out of their backfield.  Walter Kazee and Brandon Sullivan can’t use the same tactics as last season that saw the SDSU ground game finishing dead last in the rushing department in the conference.

All was well for Wyoming in 2009 after a new coach and a new QB helped lead the Cowboys to a 4-4 MWC record, and 7-6 overall, not to mention their 35-28 victory over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl (which was one Hell of a game by the way).  This Wyoming team is likely to be the spoilers of the conference and could creep up the standings, however, the fact that their two leading rushers, John Fletcher and Mitch Urein are gone, the run game could be a little suspect and hold the Cowboys down.

Sorry, Lobos fans, but New Mexico will yet again occupy the cellar of the Mountain West.  The schedule will not be Lobos-friendly in 2010 as their non conference games include a visit to Eugene, Oregon to start the season against the Ducks, then they host Texas Tech, and also take on a conference title hungry UTEP team.  Oh, not to mention New Mexico finishes the season with games against BYU and TCU.  Hang in there, Lobos fans, the bright side is that New Mexico will only build from last year’s 1-11 finish.  Yep, they could very well finish with two or even three wins, at best.   Like I said, it’s not going to be a fun season out in Albuquerque.

Mountain West Conference Predictions

1.  TCU Horned Frogs- The Horned Frogs return QB Andy Dalton who could potentially battle with Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Case Keenum of Houston and the gun-slinger out of Boise State- Kellen Moore for the Heisman Trophy.   Dalton could land himself some going away hardware if he uses his leadership and big play skills to another perfect season and a BCS Championship berth.  Oh, yes.  If the stars align properly, we could see the first ever non BCS conference BCS Championship game, and rematch of last season’s Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and the Frogs.  The schedule seems like it plays into TCU’s favor, and the experience returning (18; 9 offense, 7 defense, kicker and punter) will be the ultimate advantage for the Horned Frogs to capture their second consecutive MWC title.  Yes, TCU fans, the prediction is in, and how do you go against a second consecutive undefeated schedule?  You just can’t.  Expect the Frogs to be knocking on the BCS title door come January.  The only thing keeping TCU from the championship game… a stupid computer.

2.  Utah Utes- The Utes opener against Pittsburgh will be the deal breaker early on; a loss here will send Utah tumbling down the top 25 and lost in the mix for the rest of the season, however, a win could be the initial spark that will get things rolling, and based on their schedule, their next “big” showdown comes against TCU on November 6th which will ultimately be the unofficial conference championship game.

3.  BYU Cougars

4.  Air Force Falcons

5.  Wyoming Cowboys

6.  Colorado State Rams

7.  San Diego State Aztecs

8.  UNLV

9.  New Mexico Lobos

Top 25 Alert:  TCU Horned Frogs, Utah Utes (barely…)

Games to Watch in 2010

September 2-  Pittsburgh at Utah

September 4-  TCU at Oregon State

September 11-  Wyoming at Texas

September 18-  Air Force at Oklahoma

October 16-  BYU at TCU

November 6-  TCU at Utah

Previous 2010 NCAA Football Previews:  C-USA / MAC / WAC / Big East