2011 BCS Bowl Game Projections

31 08 2011

Orange Bowl

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The battle between Florida State and Virginia Tech will decide not only who wins the ACC, but, also, who will represent the conference in the Orange Bowl.  Neither the Seminoles nor the Hokies have a record good enough to land themselves in the national title game, so, they will have to take the next best thing.  The edge goes to Virginia Tech to land here.

The Orange Bowl will take at-large Notre Dame to pit against the Hokies. The Fighting Irish will participate in its first ever BCS Bowl game in 2011.

 

Sugar Bowl

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

The SEC champion will not compete in the BCS National Championship game this year, bringing their five year stranglehold on the title game to an end.  Instead, sleepers Arkansas will come out of the SEC to head the Sugar Bowl.

The Houston Cougars could potentially land here with an at-large bid.  A lot is riding on Case Keenum to come through for the Cougars in his final season.  The order may be a large one to fill, and Houston may crumble under pressure, so, Cincinnati looks to be a safer bet here.  The Bearcats are projected to win the Big East, and have a better record than Houston, so, Cincinnati get the nod.

 

Fiesta Bowl

 

Boise State Broncos vs. Oklahoma State

The NCAA should consider renaming the Fiesta Bowl to the Boise Bowl.  Boise State’s schedule may not be strong enough to help them get national championship considerations, so, instead, the Broncos will yet again find a home in the Fiesta Bowl.

No, not Oklahoma, but, Oklahoma State, get slotted here.  The Cowboys will bring their firepower to the Fiesta Bowl to take on the Broncos.  This marquee matchup will pit two of the nations top, high-octane offenses against one another in an old fashioned shoot ’em out.

 

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Stanford Cardinal

Big Ten champions Wisconsin will have their Rose Bowl berth locked up come mid-November.  The Badgers should handle Nebraska with ease in the Big Ten title game and slide right into their rightful bowl game.

A two loss Stanford will have Andrew Luck smelling roses in his final game of his colligate career.  It may not be the ideal situation for the prolific quarterback, but, it’s better than sitting at home in January, that’s for sure.

 

BCS National Championship Game

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oregon Ducks

Chip Kelly will have his Ducks back in the national title game for the second year in a row.  Oregon, lead by Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, will dazzle throughout the season and steamroll over the competition.  The Ducks are poised to make a statement again in 2011, and what better way than doing it on the biggest stage in college sports.

Oklahoma will easily win the Big 12, and complete the season with an undefeated record.  Landry Jones may not win the Heisman, but, a BCS National Championship shot may be more of a tantalizing accomplishment for the junior quarterback.





2011 NCAA Football: PAC-12 Preview

30 08 2011

Extra…Extra…Read all about it!

 

Stanford Have All The Luck They Need

Andrew Luck shocked many after deciding to stick around for his junior year at Stanford.  Sure, this prolific quarterback had the right tools to be a top pick in the NFL, but, for Luck, it seemed like he had unfinished business to take care of.

In 2010, Luck lead the Cardinal to a second place finish in the conference, an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech, and finished as the runner-up to Cam Newton for the Heisman Trophy.

It seems as though this junior quarterback is tired of being the runner-up, and wants what (he thinks) he deserves-a Heisman Trophy and a BCS Championship shot for Stanford.

With the Cardinal retaining Luck this season, there seemed to be an overwhelming conscenus that Stanford would be a pure lock to win the PAC-12, and possibly a BCS title berth.  Realistically, could anyone go against a team who’s offense that ranked in the top three in the PAC-10, is lead by the best player in the nation, and strong running back Stepfan Taylor.  The only way the Cardinal, and Luck don’t make it to the big game in January is if they can’t slow the quack-attack at Oregon.

 

BCS National Title, Or Bust

Look at the trend set up by Chip Kelly at Oregon.  22-4 in two seasons.  Season one, Kelly lead the Ducks to a PAC-10 title, but fell to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  In season two, Kelly’s Ducks used their video game offense to dismantle every opponent in their path, ultimately winning the PAC-10 with ease and earned a berth to the BCS National Championship.  Oregon lost that game to Auburn.

In 2011, Chip Kelly has his Ducks putting the loss to Auburn in the rearview mirror, and focusing on the drive through the conference that will lead them to Louisiana in January.

Returning are Heisman finalist, and breakout running back, LaMichael James , and quarterback Darron Thomas.  This duo were responsible for leading the high-octane, fast paced offense last season that saw the Ducks nationally ranked first in scoring (47.0 points per game), fourth in rushing (286.2 yards per game) and first in total offense (530.7 yards per game).

Pair this highly explosive offense with a defense that is often underrated, and has a knack for being extremely disruptive.  Cliff Harris returns to captain this unit after a stellar 2010 season that saw the speedy corner back take in two interceptions and return them for touchdowns.  The linebacker core may be suspect on paper, but, will prove their worth very quickly.

 

Fear The Fork

Arizona State is a program that have been on the fence between awful and mediocrity for quite some time now, but, it seems like the Sun Devils may have something special in the works for 2011.

It may not be the offense that will be keeping Arizona State in games this season, but, instead, a stout defense.

From top to bottom, this unit has the makings of being a nationally ranked top 10 defense based on the immense talent they stock piled.  Vontaze Burfict could very well be the best defensive player in the country.  Burfict lead the Sun Devils last season in tackles (90) and has matured incredibly in his time in the desert.  2010 PAC-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year, Junior Onyeali, may have had a setback earlier this spring with a shoulder injury, but, should be ready for the opener against UC Davis.  With a healthy Onyeali at defensive end, opposing quarterbacks will be forced quickly from the pocket and scrambling to get away from this speedy Sun Devil.

 

California Dreaming

Matt Barkley has the tools to be a star quarterback in the country, but, his star power will all depend on whether or not his offensive line can hold together and allow him to get the ball out of his hand.  The concern for USC is that they have the right pieces, but, they lack blocking abilities after the line saw key losses in personnel.  A tough schedule could also pose a bit of a problem for the Trojans this season.

Rick Neuheisel is definitely on the chopping block at UCLA.  The Bruins have had one winning season in the past five years (7-6 in 2009) and are constant underachievers.  The offense ranked 100th or worse in three statistical categories (passing, scoring, and total yards) and ranked 112th in turnover margins.  Neuheisel will more than likely receive his walking papers after the Bruins October 1st meeting with Stanford.

California Golden Bears may not be as bad as people believe, but, they’re still pretty bad.  Cal scored only three offensive touchdowns in its final three games in 2010, and, if this is any indication of what’s to happen in 2011, things are going to get ugly early.  The Golden Bears lack a true leader on offense, the quarterback situation is messy and their running game hasn’t provided any pop since Jahvid Best.  No offensive flare means another fizzled season for the Bears.

 

 

Picking the PAC-12:

 

PAC-12 North Division:

1.  Oregon Ducks:  Darron Thomas has the talent to be a great quarterback, not only in the conference, but, in the nation.  LaMichael James will stake his claim as best running back in the country, all whileChip Kelly leads the Ducks to a conference title, and a BCS Championship berth.  If all goes well, the party will be in Eugene in January.  Oregon have a legit shot at returning to the BCS title game, and coming out on a winning note if they stay focused on the task at hand and not overlook their opponents.

2. Stanford Cardinal

3. Oregon State Beavers

4. Washington Huskies

5. California Golden Bears

6. Washington State Wildcats

 

 

PAC-12 South Division:

1. USC Trojans:  Utah doesn’t possess that big playmaker like they once did with Matt Asiata, and Arizona State may be stellar defensively, but, their offense just isn’t there yet, so, Lane Kiffin’s boys of Berkley will ride Barkley to a divisional title.

2. Utah Utes

3. Arizona State Sun Devils

4. Arizona Wildcats

5. UCLA Bruins

6. Colorado Rams

 

 

PAC-12 Championship Game:

Oregon Ducks over USC Trojans





2011 NCAA Football: SEC Preview

29 08 2011

The SEC should consider renaming themselves from the Southeastern Conference to the Standards of Excellence Conference.

It comes as no surprise that the SEC is the most dominant conference in all of college football, given the amount of success it has had in the BCS-era alone.

The SEC has had a representative in seven of the thirteen BCS Championship games, and is currently 7-0, not to mention, the SEC has also won five titles in a row, and six of the last eight.

So the logical idea here would be to look at the SEC for yet another championship-caliber program for 2011, right?

Well…

Many have begged to differ based solely on the the storylines that have occurred this offseason.

Let’s be honest, the whole Cam “the Scam” Newton saga, and era at Auburn is over, ultimately giving the Tigers a one and done look.  Auburn got what they (may, or may not have) “paid” for.  Was it worth it?  With Auburn out of the picture, who’s next?

Many saw LSU as a national championship contending program going into August.  The Tigers were almost a lock to go to the title game, but, a fight at a local bar left senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson suspended from the team due to his involvement, and may have set the Tigers back this season.

That leaves Alabama.  Well, even though the Crimson Tide look like a shell of their former selves, Nick Saban’s squad could actually string something together.  Now, by no means does this mean a national title berth, but, one can never rule the Tide out.  Wide receivers Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks are explosive playmakers, and Trent Richardson, who’s season was marred with injuries in 2010, could be a breakout running back.

Waiting in the wings are Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks.  Quarterback Stephen Garcia was welcomed back for his senior season, but, to little fanfare.  Garcia has been under scrutiny over the past couple of seasons as many question his leadership and talent.  Running back Marcus Lattimore will lead this South Carolina offense , and if he breaks free, a lot of defenders will be spending their  Saturdays trying to play catch up to the speedy youngster.

What of Florida?  In the first post-Tebow season, John Brantley and the Gators struggled.  Brantley found himself sharing the quarterbacking position with two others in 2010 and managed a mediocre 8-5 record.  To make matters worse, Urban Meyer stepped down as head coach, leaving the Gators with a brand new coaching staff.  Former Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator, Will Muschamp takes over the helm for Florida, and with him comes Charlie Weis to head the offense.  Florida will have a whole new system to learn in 2011, and will also endure one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

Arkansas could be the most intriguing sleeper pick this season.

Sure, Ryan Mallett is gone at Arkansas, but, Tyler Wilson turned many heads when he entered the game in the Razorbacks loss to Auburn.  Back are essentially all of those responsible for Arkansas’ top ten ranked offense, and even though Wilson’s arm is not as explosive as Mallett’s, it still provides a great pop.  The Razorbacks will have no problems putting points on the scoreboard, and, a vertern core on defense that saw the unit rise 53 spots nationally from 2009 to 36th, is enough to keep opposition points off.

 

Picking the SEC:

 

SEC West Division:

 

1.  Arkansas Razorbacks:  The Crimson Tide lack a playmaker at quarterback, Auburn are about to free-fall in the SEC after key losses in personnel, and, the trouble at LSU regarding their off-field problems are enough to have the ‘Backs creep up to the top spot in the West.  Remember, last season’s media poll had Auburn ranked third in the division, and look what they did. This year, Arkansas was given that slot, so history may repeat itself.  With all that aside, the Razorbacks are loaded with offensive talent, a stellar quarterback in Tyler Wilson-who will have a big year under centre, and will emerge as the conference’s top pivot.  The defense, lead by strong and gritty linebackers Jerico Nelson and Jerry Franklin , is stout.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

3. LSU Tigers

4. Mississippi State Bulldogs

5. Auburn Tigers

6. Ole Miss. Rebels

 

SEC East Division:

 

1. South Carolina Gamecocks:  Many believe senior pivot Stephen Garcia couldn’t lead a dog on a leash, let alone a football program to a divisional win, but, the scrutiny alone is enough to fuel the fire in this quarterback.  Garcia spent a chunk of his offseason working on bettering himself on and off the field after a string of suspensions, and has made great strides in doing so.  Coach Steve Spurrier said his quarterback has been playing smart football this spring, and learned to be less forceful with his passing, and has used his mobility and speed to get him out of jams.  With Marcus Lattimore behind Garcia, the Gamecocks offense will be very dangerous.

2. Florida Gators

3. Georgia Bulldogs

4. Tennessee Volunteers

5. Kentucky Wildcats

6. Vanderbilt Commodores 

 

SEC Championship Game:

Arkansas Razorbacks over South Carolina Gamecocks

 

Top 25 Alert:

The SEC will be well represented in the BCS this season.  LSU will struggle without Jefferson, but, Les Miles always has his Tigers clawing out wins.  Alabama may miss the SEC title game, but they will still reach 10 wins, and finish in the top 15. Florida may not be as bad as projected, and could round out the bottom half of the top 25.  Even though Arkansas has a good shot at winning the SEC this year, it is not good enough to head to the BCS National Championship.  Instead, the SEC’s streak of five straight national titles will end, and the Razorbacks will head to the Sugar Bowl.  South Carolina may lose the SEC title game, but, will finish in the top 20.





2011 NCAA Football: Big 12 Conference Preview

29 08 2011

What could be done with $300 million?

Help fund the health care system? Maybe aid and relieve some of the the national debt.  What about using it to fund the school systems in the country?  Here’s one, help create jobs to lower unemployment rates.

No?

Okay, how about create a portal that gives an already overly exposed football program a means of even more exposure on a big…well…bigger stage to be embarrassed  nationally on a weekly basis?

Done deal.

Well, Mack Brown, there you go.  The Texas Longhorns now have a television deal with ESPN that will allow for this program to be under the microscope week in and week out, which ultimately creates a high-pressure situation for the Longhorns.  Well, higher than ever before.  This provides the underachieving football program a platform to to showcase their diminishing talents for the whole country to see.

After a disappointing, and disastrous 2010 season that saw losses to UCLA and Iowa State (two programs that finished with losing records) and the first losing season for Mack Brown (5-7, 2-7 in conference play) since 1989, much is expected of the 14-year head coach to right the ship, and turn this program around and back into Big 12 contenders.  Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.  Garrett Gilbert has come a long way from throwing up on the sidelines during the Longhorns’ 2009 BCS National Championship game loss to Alabama, but, in no ways is he a legit threat at quarterback. With the lack of a deep passing ability, and, a proper playmaker, the best Texas will achieve is a 7-5 2011 season.

After this season, maybe ESPN can use all of this to showcase the rise, and fall of the Texas Longhorns football program.

 

Around the Big 12:

Kansas State should focus on their rushing defense.  The Wildcats ranked 119th nationally against the run and if this issue is not fixed, K-State could get burned.  The Wildcats may not be anywhere close to contending, but they will be good enough to stay afloat with a winning record and bowl game in 2011.

Iowa State proved it could hang with the big boys of the Big 12 last season with wins at Texas, and Texas Tech, and, a near upset of Nebraska (30-31 OT loss), so the Cyclones have been making positive progress.  The offense is not there yet to make them a power player in the conference, but, maybe in a couple years.  The defense isn’t spectacular, but, is enough to keep the Cyclones competitive.

Even though Oklahoma lost several key playmakers to the NFL, The Sooners reloaded with significant talent, enough to keep the wheels rolling in Norman.  Landry Jones returns with his incredible receiver core in Ryan Broyles and the speedy standout Kenny Still whom had a monstrous 2010 season.  The defense could use a little work, but, it’s sufficient enough to get the Sooners by.  Games at Florida State and at Oklahoma State prove to be the only roadblocks in the their favorable schedule, but, they should come out with wins in both.

Mike Gundy has a lot of pressure in 2011 as like most programs in the Big 12 do.  The expectations of following up a stellar 2010 season with a bigger 2011 season are at a high.  Gundy lead the Oklahoma State Cowboys to 11 wins last year which was the most in school history.  The offense, which ranked third in scoring (44.2 points per game), second in passing (345.9 yards per game) and third in total offense (520.2 yards per game) nationally, return almost everyone responsible for these big numbers…everyone except offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen.  The loss of Holgorsen, who left to take the head coaching job at West Virginia, is huge for the Pokes.  Sure, there is a void left behind, but, wide reciever Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weedon soaked in a lot from this offensive guru, and will again put on quite the spectacle weekly.

The Aggies of Texas A&M could be a perennial dark horse in the Big 12. A returning Jeff Fuller at wide receiver boosted the Aggies incredibly for 2011. Pair that with the cannon-armed quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and Texas A&M could make a mess of the conference.  The defense returns nine starters to a group that finished 2009 114th nationally in total defense, but made substantial changes and great strides that finished 55th in 2010.  With such a big jump, the defense looks like they’re going to frustrate opposing offenses and hold down the fort for the Aggies.

 

Picking the Big 12:


1. Oklahoma Sooners: Bob Stoops knows that expectations are high after he lead the Sooners to a 12-2 record in 2010.  Oklahoma have all the right pieces in place for a national title run this season.  Landry Jones made such big strides last season in solidifying his status as one of the country’s elite quarterbacks, and should continue to make an impact in 2011.  The only way the Sooners don’t make the BCS National Championship game, and win it, is if Jones or Broyles go down due to injury.

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys

3. Texas A&M Aggies

4. Texas Longhorns

5. Missouri Tigers

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders

7. Baylor Bears

8. Kansas State Wildcats

9. Iowa State Cyclones

10. Kansas Jayhawks

 

 

Top 25 Alert:

The Oklahoma Sooners are a lock to finish in the top five, and will more than likely, barring that they stay healthy (knock on wood) end up in the BCS National Championship game.  Oklahoma State will finish in the middle of the Top 25 pack, and, the Aggies of Texas A&M should manage to sneak into the mix as well.  Sorry, Longhorns, a projected dismal season will again keep you standing in line to get back into the club that is the Top 25.





2011 NCAA Football: Atlantic Coast Conference Preview

26 08 2011

As the Atlantic Coast prepares itself for Hurricane Irene and the disaster she may cause, Miami has just begun cleaning up the damage Hurricane Shapiro left behind.

The University of Miami found themselves in a hurricane of trouble after it was revealed that booster Nevin Shapiro provided impermissible benefits to at least 13 players.  Shapiro gave an estimated $2 million in illegal benefits to over 72 players and coaches at the University of Miami from 2002-2010.

After the NCAA investigated the allegations, eight players were then deemed ineligible for their season opener vs. Maryland, including quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence.  What does this mean for the Al Golden’s Hurricanes in 2011?

The loss of Spence is huge for the defense.  The 2008 ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year is the anchor for the Hurricanes defense, and his lack of presence will rock the unit.  The biggest loss for Miami is that of Jacory Harris at quarterback.  Without Harris under centre, the Hurricanes offense will struggle severely.  There’s also the chance (a good one, too) that more players will be named in this scandal and will have to sit.  Sorry, Miami fans.  Take the year off, because it looks like a sub .500 record is in the cards.

Who benefits from how the cards are dealt?

Virginia Tech looks to be greatly affected by the hard times Miami have fallen on.  The Hokies main competition for the Coastal division crown were the Hurricanes, but, now that they’re no longer a threat, Frank Beamer can use his cupcake schedule to his advantage which would ultimately place Virginia Tech in the ACC title game.  Unless…

The last time expectations were low at Georgia Tech was in 2009 where the Yellow Jackets won the ACC.  Last season, Paul Johnson saw his program finish 6-7- only the second losing season in his 14-year career as a head coach.  With the expectations lowered in 2011, are the Jackets ready to sneak up the Coastal chain?
What is a sure bet is that Duke’s defense, which ranked in the bottom 100 in three categories nationally, scoring (109th), rushing (113th) and total defense (108th) returns six players and will be just bad.

Wake Forest will yet again be a basement dweller in the ACC.  Their offense returns seven players to a unit that was atrocious in 2010.  The Demon Deacons ranked 10th or lower in almost every category in the ACC, both offensively and defensively, and lost five games by 31 points or more.  At least Virginia won’t be as bad as Wake this season.

NC State were just about ready to seriously compete for the ACC title in 2011, but, Rusell Wilsom decided to transfer to Wisconsin.  Now, the Wolfpack, sans Wilson will take a step back.  Okay, maybe 10 steps back.

Florida State will solidify their claim as the best football program in the Sunshine State.  EJ Manuel takes over for Christian Ponder at quarterback this season, which has its ups and downs.  Manuel already has his feet wet as the junior is sporting a 4-2 record as a starter and helped lead the Seminoles to a Chick-fil-A Bowl win last year.  The only problem with EJ Manuel is that he has a tendency to force passes into coverage which lead to four interceptions in his 93 pass attempts.  If Manuel is more effective at reading the defense, this young quarterback is going to have one monster season.

 

Picking the ACC:

 

Coastal Division:

1. Virginia Tech Hokies:  Virigina Tech skip Florida State this season, and have a schedule that will allow the Hokies to run the table and be a viable BCS National Championship contender.  Logan Thomas is by no means anywhere close to Tyrod Taylor in talent, and won’t be as mobile as Taylor, but, the taller Thomas will have a better view of his receiver corps which could create explosive plays when the Hokies need them most.

2. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

3. North Carolina Tar Heels

4. Miami Hurricanes

5. Virginia Cavaliers 

6. Duke Blue Devils

 

Atlantic Division:

1. Florida State Seminoles: Jimbo Fisher is doing all the right things at Florida State.  In just his first season at the helm, Fisher has taken a mediocre, underachieving program and turned them into a perennial national title contender.  The Seminoles schedule is intriguing with games vs. Oklahoma and at Clemson a week later to face the Tigers in Death Valley, a place the Seminoles haven’t won in since 2007.  If they drop both games, Florida State could slip back into mediocrity, but, will still contend for the ACC title.  Barely.  Win both, Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles will be BCS bowl bound for the first time since 2005.

2. Maryland Terrapins

3. Boston College Eagles

4. Clemson Tigers

5. N.C. State Wolfpack

6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

 

ACC Championship Game:

Virginia Tech Hokies over Florida State Seminoles

 

Top 25 Alert:

Virginia Tech will be a top 10 power as they probably will easily cruise to an undefeated season.  A BCS title berth is not out of the question, but, given the talented programs with tougher schedules, the Hokies will more than likely find themselves in the Orange Bowl.  Florida State may lose the ACC title game, but will still be in a top tier bowl come December.  The Seminoles will also land in the middle of the BCS Top 25 pack at the end of the season.





2011 NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference Preview

25 08 2011

Jim Tressell’s Ohio State Buckeyes, lead by senior quarterback Terrelle Pryor would have easily came out of the Leaders division and probably slipped by Nebraska in the Big Ten’s first championship game, ruining the Cornhuskers coming out party.  The Buckeyes would have then been in the driver’s seat for a BCS National Championship berth.  All would have been right in Columbus and for Big Ten football.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  Gone are Tressel and Pryor after a nasty controversy at Ohio State, and now, the mess that is Buckeyes football are left searching for a new identity.

Hey, Terrelle, were all those free tattoos worth your pariah status?

This turn of events will now create a domino effect within the Big Ten and turn the conference upside down.

No longer will Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State be found battling for the right to be called Big Ten champions, or, co-champions, but, instead, be programs struggling to hang with the new class.

New kids on the block, Nebraska, will be looking to make a big statement in their inaugural season in the Big Ten.  Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and linebacker Lavonte David provide a structurally sound base for this Cornhuskers defense that finished 11th overall in the league in 2010.  Defensive tackle Jared Crick filled Ndamukong Suh’s shoes quite well last season as he proved to be one of the leagues most disruptive players on the field.

Mighigan State came out of nowhere last season to shock the Big Ten as the Spartans earned conference co-champion honors. Kirk Cousins could very well put together a repeat of his magical 2010 campaign that ranked him first in program history in passing efficiency (146.7 rating) and completion percentage (64.3 percent).  His marksmanship combined with the return of wide outs B.J Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nicol will give the Spartans a highly competitive and extremely explosive offense.

Dan Persa’s face is all over the Chicago area.  No, he’s not a wanted felon, but, instead, Northwestern have erected billboards campaigning Persa’s case as a Heisman candidate.  The Wildcats managed to collapse after Persa ruptured his Achilles in Northwestern’s win against Iowa. If Persa stays healthy, he may not win a Heisman trophy, but, the Wildcats could be a potential threat in the Legends division.

Tweet Sheet:

If you don’t like Denard Robinson, you don’t like college football. Brady Hoke comes in on a white horse to clean up Michigan football mess.

Five offensive coordinators in six seasons is all the reason to understand all that is wrong with the Golden Gophers dismal offense.

Montee Ball and James White running the ball, stellar QB talent with Rusell Wilson and a top tier defense make Wisconsin championship ready.

No one questions JoePa’s heart. Nittany Lions schedule looks tough, but, have a hard nosed squad eager to compete. Penn State still need work.

 

Picking the Big Ten:

 

Leaders Division:

1. Wisconsin Badgers:   When word got out that Ohio State were under investigation, Wisconsin football’s stock went on the rise.  When word got out that Terrelle Pryor was suspended for selling memorabillia in exchange for money and tattoos, Badgers stock rose again.  When Jim Tressel stepped down as coach of the Buckeyes, well, let’s just say the Wisconsin Badgers were basically given the keys to the kingdom.

2. Penn State Nittany Lions

3. Ohio State Buckeyes

4. Purdue Boilermakers

5. Illinois Fighting Illini

6.  Indiana Hoosiers

 

Legends Division:

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers:  Nebraska suffered offensively late in 2010 when quarterback Taylor Martinez was bothered with an ankle injury.  It didn’t help when coach Bo Pelini questioned the integrity, heart and leadership, however, it seems like all is forgotten and the two have a healthy relationship.  Great.  Maybe now Martinez can work on his passing, a category Nebraska finished 113th in.  The Cornhuskers defense was stellar in 2010, and will see six return to this unit that ranked in the top 20 in total defense.  A cupcake schedule will be all that is needed to put Nebraska in the first ever Big Ten championship game.

2. Michigan State Spartans

3. Michigan Wolverines

4. Northwestern Wildcats

5. Iowa Hawkeyes

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers

 

Big Ten Championship Game:

Wisconsin Badgers over Nebraska Cornhuskers





2011 NCAA Football: Conference USA Preview

23 08 2011

Y’all thought last year was exciting, well, welcome back to another scoreboard assaulting, record breaking and setting, air raiding seasons lead by a slew of prolific and highly explosive quarterbacks who play by the motto “anything you can do, I can do better”.

 

Bring Out the Measuring Sticks

The Conference USA possess five of the top 25 ranked passing attacks in then nation from 2010.

UCF has the league’s 2010 Freshmen of the Year Jeff Godfrey, who threw for 2,159 yards, and rushed for 566.

SMU returns Kyle Pardon who tossed for 3,828 yards and lead the Mustangs to their first C-USA divisional title.

Tulsa’s G.J. Kinne put up close to 3,700 yards in the air, and lead the Golde Hurricane in rush yards (561),

East Carolina’s Domenique Davis set single-season school records in 2010 for completions (393), attempts (609), touchdown passes (37) and passing yards (3,967), so, expect another stellar output from the Pirates pivot in 2011.

Autin Davis surpassed Brett Favre’s touchdown record at Southern Miss last season with 53 career tosses, and was one of four quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards in the conference.

And lastly, who could forget Case Keenum at Houston.  This sixth year quarterback is set to explode in 2011 after being sidelined last September by a torn ACL in the Cougars loss to UCLA.  Keenum is a mere 3,487 yards shy of setting the NCAA’s all-time passing record.

Watching Conference USA games is like watching an expert playing NCAA ’12 for the XBox 360 on easy mode.

Sure, the conference boasts some of the most potent offenses in the nation, but, it also has some of the nation’s worst defenses, too.

ECU ranked dead last in total defense allowing an average of 478.8 yards per game, second last in scoring by allowing an average of 44 points per game (who could forget when Navy hung 76 points on the Pirates last November) and 117th against the run (226.7 yards per-game). It became evident that the 4-3 defense was a system not suited for ECU, so, Ruffin McNeil switched to a 3-4 look in hopes to fix this dismal unit that returns seven from last year.

Tulsa’s defense was very Jekyll and Hyde.  The Golden Hurricane gave up too many points, ranked last in pass defense by allowing an average of 319 yards per game, and ranked 111th nationally in total defense.  However, this defense that was so awful in 2010 managed to rank 2nd overall in turnover margin at +17 on the year.  There is a great deal of talent on Tulsa with defensive backs Marco Nelson and Dexter McCoil who were both ranked top 10 nationally in interceptions.

 

Tweet Sheet

SMU must limit turnovers to challenge Southern Miss for division. Pardon can’t do it all, so, more is needed from Zach Line on the rush.

Sophomore slumps are for chumps.  Godfrey is a dual-threat quarterback fit for the Knights system. Defense could use work, but is sufficient.

When was the last time UTEP won more games than they lost? Five years ago? Looks like Mike Price will get axed if the Miners can’t deliver.

Memphis went 1-11, and lost 10 games by two touchdowns or more in 2010.  It doesn’t look like 2011 will be any different.

QB Bryan Ellis quietly racked up impressive numbers in 2010; he’ll be much louder in 2011.  Pat Shed will run UAB into a bowl game in 2011.

Marshall will upset the Mountaineers week one to set the tone for the rest of the season.  Doc Holliday has Herd bowl ready in 2011.

 

Picking the Conference USA:

 

C-USA East:

1. Southern Miss Golden Eagles: Dan Disch 4-2-5 formation could counter the conference’s spread offensive systems that have been so efficient over the past couple of years.  The Golden Eagles schedule is fairly fluffy, but, could allow them to gain momentum going in to their matchup at home against UCF.

2. UCF Knights

3. East Carolina Pirates

4. UAB Blazers

5. Marshall Thundering Herd

6. Memphis Tigers

 

 

C-USA West:

1. Houston Cougars:  Not only will Case Keenum have a monster year all over the board, surpass Timmy Chang as the NCAA all-time passing leader, and be a top contender for the the Heisman, but, he will lead the Cougars to a C-USA title, land in the BCS top 25, and, help Houston crash into BCS bowl game.  Not too shabby for a sixth year senior.

2. Southern Methodist  Mustangs

3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

4. Rice Owls

5. Tulane Green Wave

6. UTEP Miners





2011 NCAA Football: Western Athletic Conference Preview

22 08 2011

Hello, Western Athletic Conference, we’re here to deliver the conference title, but, it seems as though the Boise State Broncos are no longer residing at this address, so, is there anyone available to sign for this package?

Boise State (or, the LeBron James’ of the college football world) decided to pack their bags and take their talents to the Mountain West Confernce in search of a better chance at scoring a BCS National Championship berth (hate to break it to them, but, it may be tougher than they think) Now, the rest of the WAC will compete in one wacky derby to crown a new champion.

Will it be the inexperienced Hawaii Warriors who answer the call; a program who returns only two starters on offense from 2010, or, will the Fresno State Bulldogs return to their glory days of 1999? Nevada has always  been around in the mix for years, but, with the loss of Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua, the Wolfpack’s Pistol system may be shooting blanks on offense.

Regardless of who it is, the WAC will take a former “pretender” and give it a one-time only championship in 2011 before the conference sends Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC next season.  Consider this the “Thanks for coming out” or, the “Thanks for taking all those beatings by Boise State, have one on us” championship.

 

WAC-ky Notes

 

San Jose State returns 19 starters from 2010, which is tops in the WAC, but, the bad news is, this is the same Spartans squad that finished dead last in the conference at 1-12 (0-8 in WAC play) and were near the bottom in the nation in both offensive and defensive categories.

The Idaho Vandals gave up 45 sacks in 2010.  This alone is enough to raise red flags on an Idaho team that clearly lacks experience and it only returns three starters to its offensive line.  The upside for the Vandals this season is their not-so challenging non-conference schedule (games vs. Bowling Green, North Dakota, Virginia). This program has the ability to get over the hump and turn 2011 into a winning season.

Fresno State could be a potentially dangerous and deep threat for the WAC title in 2011.  In eight WAC championships Boise State has won or shared, the Bulldogs have finished in the top three five times. Pat Hill has a consistent bunch, but, any team looking to drive a Carr to a championship should be overlooked.

Derek Carr lacks experience, so this will prove to be a major setback.  Just like his brother, David, Derek will be nothing more than a quick flash in the pants for the Fresno Faithful and his mediocrity will eventually come out and shine.  On the other side of ball, the Bulldogs need to fine tune a defense that allowed an average of 46 points per game in its five loses in 2010.  It’s tough to back a Bulldog who’s bite is nothing more than a puppy gnaw.

Recipe for disaster?  Take one part of an offense that has lost two key playmakers, mix in a daunting road schedule with games at Boise State, Oregon and Texas Tech, and hit it with a dash of a quarterback group who have thrown a total of 23 combined passes (senior Tyler Lantrip has thrown all 23), shake it up and you have the makings of turning a 13-1 program from 2010 into a subpar 7-5 squad for 2011.

News Flash: The New Mexico State Aggies are still really bad.  They may win one game this season, but, at least it’s something to cheer about.  The upside to 2011 for Aggies football- no 59-0 drubbings at the hands of Boise State.

The defensive line lacks size to compete against most WAC programs.  The linebacker core are often overmatched, and it seems like Dante Savage and Pierre Fils were complete underachievers last year.  Boyblue Aoelua was constantly slow in pass coverage, and was clearly out of his element in most games; constantly being turned inside out by opposing offenses.  This defense needs to wake up, or stay in the dorms.

 

Picking the WAC

 

1. Hawaii Warriors- Bryant Moniz is back under centre for the Warriors, and even though the personel have changed around him, Moniz has the ability to adapt to his new surroundings and use their strengths to his advantage.  Their video game-esque offense will definitely give scoreboards a workout and help chalk up a ton of wins that will give Hawaii one last WAC title before they shuffle over to the Mountain West Conference.

 

2. Fresno State Bulldogs

3. Nevada Wolfpack 

4. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

5. Utah State Aggies

6. Idaho Vandals

7. San Jose State Spartans

8. New Mexico State Aggies





2011 NCAA Football: Mountain West Conference Preview

22 08 2011

Welcome, Boise State, to the Mountain West Conference Hotel.  Our housekeeping team are just cleaning out the room The BYU Cougars once occupied before they left for the Independent circuit, but it should be ready in a few moments.

Please, bear with us.  Our second floor is currently under construction as we are expanding our facility to accommodate more guests for next season.  We see your friends at Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State will be checking in next year.

We will be glad to upgrade you to the penthouse suite that TCU will vacate at the end of this season.

Let’s explore what the Mountain West Conference Hotel can offer you.

Here your defensive unit that ranked second in the nation in total defense will enjoy fine dining on offenses that lack pizzazz and pop.

We understand your offense that was nationally ranked second in scoring (45.1 points per game), sixth in passing (321.1 yards per game) and second in total offense (521.3 yards per game) in 2010 will be looking to workout, so, please, feel free to explore our workout facilities.  Here you will find a light schedule (TCU seems to be the only “real” threat, but even the Horned Frogs won’t be that tough) and defenses that will allow Kellen Moore to thoroughly work out his throwing arm, and clear paths for tailback Doug Martin to run through.  This experience may be a little more refreshing than those you may have have had in the WAC.

Also, we insist you take a look at our rewards program.  Collect stamps after completing each workout and redeem them for a chance at our grand prize-a BCS National Championship berth.  If you miss a stamp, fret not, Broncos, you may be eligible for our runner-up pize- bowl berths to the Fiesta, or, Rose Bowl.

From all of us at the Mountain West Conference Hotel, please, enjoy your stay.

 

Around the MWC

 

Air Force returns a veteran squad on defense that did very well against the pass in 2010 (second in the nation allowing 147.8 yards per game).  With another big year on tap, senior tailback Asher Clark could break school rushing records, and will be a key component for the Air Force offense.  If Troy Calhoun wants to take Air Force to a fifth straight bowl appearance, he will need his team to escape a tough back-to-back road series at Navy and Notre Dame, and find a way to beat TCU.  If not, the Falcons will finish 7-5 at best and no bowl game.

San Diego State could be an overlooked program this season.  The Aztecs may be  lost in the mix with all this Boise State and TCU talk, but, Rocky Long’s program may be the MWC stunners in 2011.  The defense is rich in talent with Mountain West sack leader Miles Burris, who constantly finds himself in the oppositions backfield, and, Leon McFadden who is a ball hawk.  McFadden picked off two passes last season, and has a knack for pestering opposing offenses.

TCU may have lead the nation in scoring defense, passing defense, and total defense, but, that was with a unit that is now long gone.  In 2011, a new squad takes over and will need time to come together.  Gone also is star quarterback Andy Dalton, so the Horned Frogs reload on offense as well.  The lack of experience will set TCU back a year, but, should be ready to go again when the Frogs join the Big East next season.

New Mexico is definitely in a whirlwind of trouble as they have only managed two victories in its past two seasons.  It seems like the Lobos have forgotten how to play football.  Ranked 100th or less in 18 different statistical categories last season including last in scoring defense, last in rushing defense and second last in total defense, coach Mike Locksley’s days in Albuquerque may be numbered.

Colorado State will be on the rise thanks to a somewhat easier schedule than other bottom-half MWC programs.  UNLV are statistically challenged on both sides of the ball, and have a tough non-conference schedule with battles against Hawaii and Wisconsin.  This should keep the Rebels at the bottom of the pack.

 

Picking the MWC:

 

1. Boise State Broncos:  No surprise here.  The Broncos will make a wonderful and lasting first impression in the MWC.  Kellen Moore will shine against weak opposing defenses, and may very well land himself in the Heisman talks early in the year.  Boise State will need to impress against Georgia as they did in previous opening games vs. Oregon in 2009, and Virginia Tech last season.  An undefeated, impressive season could catapult the Broncos into its first ever BCS National Championship game if others above them fall off the wagon, however, a more realistic scenario will put Boise State back in the Boise Bowl…err…Fiesta Bowl.

 

2. San Diego State Aztecs

3. TCU Horned Frogs

4. Air Force Falcons

5. Wyoming Cowboys

6. Colorado State Rams

7. UNLV Rebels

8. New Mexico Lobos

 

Top 25 Alert:

After the Max Hall-era at BYU came to a close in 2009, the Cougars went from MWC powerhouse to a program that struggled to stay afloat in 2010.   This same occurrence will happen at TCU in 2011 with the loss of many on defense, and, of course, Andy Dalton at quarterback.  Many have penciled in TCU as a potential Top 25 candidate, however, the lack of playmakers and experience will keep the Frogs out.  Boise State will see themselves slotted in the top five at the end of the season.





2011 NCAA Football: Big East Conference Preview

15 08 2011

Milk cartons across American will soon read:

Missing: Competitive BCS conference

It’s been almost four seasons now where the Big East has yet to deliver as a BCS power, and, as many have realized, the conference has been under scrutiny for their lackluster output, and late season collapses.

Have no fear…TCU is here…err…well, on their way at least.

The Landscape of the Big East will shift next season as the conference welcomes TCU into the mix of their crazy, roller coaster-esque world.

The only concern here is that the Horned Frogs may not fit in with the mould this conference has worked so hard to build and maintain year in and year out.  You know, that mould of coaching and quarterback carousels, inconsistent outputs, and, of course, who could forget the biggest aspect of the Big East-the inability to win bowl games.

Seriously, each representative from the Big East has lost the past three BCS bowl games in which it appeared in.  If that wasn’t bad enough,  the Big East has yet to send any current program to a BCS National Championship game, and, have had their inclusion in the BCS questioned.

For now, we’ll just have to endure this train-wreck of a conference for what it is.  The upside is that we may not be able to take our eyes off of this mess of a season the Big East will serve up.

 

Big East by the Numbers:

6- coaches with one full season or less at their respective programs.

9- games in which West Virginia have won in each of it’s past six seasons.

1- Cincinnati was ranked first in the Big East in scoring (27.1 points per game), passing (260.7 yards per game), and total offense (417.3 yards per game) and the Bearcats have quarterback Zachary Collaros to thank for that.

 

Shaping the Big East:

Now that the coaching controversy is over in Morgantown, the West Virginia Mountaineers can focus on football, and not the media circus surrounding The Bill Stewart/Dana Holgorsen saga.  The idea of having a coach in waiting taking orders from a coach ready to step down was one of the most ridiculous ideas anyone could come up with.

Now, with that aside, Holgorsen can focus on fixing the problems with West Virginia football-the offense.  He brings over an offensive sceme that helped lead Oklahoma State to top five ranking nationally in offense in 2010.  Understandably, Mountaineers football has never been offensively heavy, as they’ve gotten by with a stout defense over the last decade. However, the flip side is the lack of offense is the main reason why the program hasn’t excelled and been a BCS National Championship contender.

The Cincinnati Bearcats could very well be this season’s sleeper team. Although they were underachievers in 2010, the Bearcats look to rebound in Butch Jones’ second year in charge.  In 2009, Zach Collaros showed his potential when Tony Pike went down, and last season he managed to put forth a valiant effort at centre.  This year, Collaros is expected to take his game to the next level if he wants this program to succeed.

Rutgers hit gold when they signed running back Savon Huggins in the winter.  Huggins turned down Auburn, Notre Dame, Michigan and others to stay in New Jersey to play ball.  If the Scarlet Knights want to return to their 2006 glories, then they must protect their quarterback and allow him to throw the ball.  The Knights allowed an NCAA record 61 sacks last season.  Maybe it was the offensive line that was to blame, or, the failed Wildcat system, either way, the offense has to be able to read the defense.

Charlie Strong has always been a defensively sound coach, so expect the defense to bail Louisville out as they return seven talented members from last season.  With strong safety Hakeem Smith, end B.J Butler and Dexter Heyman patrolling the field, opposing teams may need to keep the ice packs chilling on the sidelines.

Syracuse may still be on the mend and in a rebuilding stage, but, quarterback Ryan Nassib Can take the training wheels off this year and showcase his talents.  Nick Provo will get one hell of a workout hauling in balls.  The Orange defense may have work to do (5 returnees), but can learn as they go.

South Florida lacks wide receiver talent, and a proper quarterback.  B.J Daniels may have a starting job at the moment, but it’s his to lose, and sophomore Bobby Eveld’s to steal.  The loss of many key players will eventually hurt this Bulls program in 2011.

 

Picking the Big East:

 

 

1.  Cincinnati Bearcats:  Surprise!  This could be one of many shockers of 2011, but, it’s a likely scenario.  With West Virginia in a whirlwind of change at head coach, having to learn a whole new offensive system, a quarterback who has had two foot surgeries, and the lack of a big playmaker running back, the Mountaineers will no longer be contenders for the Big East.  Instead, the Bearcats will keep the throne warm until TCU strolls in and takes over.

Cincinnati have a favorable non-conference schedule with games against Akron, Austin Peay and NC State. The Bearcats could gain momentum going into Big East play and would make them a very hard team to bring down.

If DJ Woods can hold on to the balls Zach Collaros launches, then the offense will have no problem hanging up points.  Collaros just needs to stop forcing the ball and learn to be patient in the pocket.  His 14 interceptions in 2010 won’t be acceptable this season if he wants the Bearcats to be legit contenders.

2. West Virginia Mountaineers

3. South Florida Bulls

4. Pittsburgh Panthers

5. Syracuse Orange

6. Connecticut Huskies

7. Louisville Cardinals

8. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

 

BCS Top 25 Alert:

Cincinnati will lose a few games, but squeeze by to edge West Virginia for the Big East conference title.  The Bearcats are good enough to land in the BCS Top 25 around the 15-19 spot.  West Virginia will also join the BCS Top 25 party somewhere near Cincinnati (we’re looking at 20th)