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Week One Top 25

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

1. Alabama

2. Oklahoma

3. LSU

4. Stanford

5. Boise State

6. Oregon

7. Texas A&M

8. Virginia Tech

9. Oklahoma State

10. Wisconsin

11. Florida State

12. Arkansas

13. Ohio State

14. South Carolina

16. Florida

17. Penn State

18. Nebraska

19. Baylor

20. Mississippi State

21. Houston

22. Michigan State

23. Arizona State

24. Northwestern

25. Central Florida

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2011 NCAA Football Preview Pt. 1: Early Heisman race

It’s been a while. I’m going to try out the Bruce Feldman format this time.

The world hasn’t seen a Heisman winner like Cam Newton ever in my lifetime. Though this year’s winner likely won’t be another first year starter or transfer, there aren’t many standouts early.

The likely top candidate is Stanford QB Andrew Luck. The junior has been heralded as the top QB prospects coming out of college since Peyton Manning in the late 90’s. Structurally, you couldn’t ask for a better QB – 6’5″ and just shy of 240 lbs. He possesses all the tools a pro QB needs and has showcased it at Stanford for the last two years. He’s as tough as they come too, showcase in this Ed Reed-esque hit against USC. With a veteran O-Line and solid receiving corps including Chris Owusu, Luck will be the best player in College Football. He may not put up the video game stats needed to win the award, however.

My actual favorite to win the award (and sits in most peoples’ top three) is Bama junior running back Trent Richardson. Now that poster boy Mark Ingram is gone to the Saints, Richardson will be the Tide’s feature back – in every sense of the word. With a new QB at the helm (whom hasn’t even been chosen yet) Richardson will definitely get the number of carries needed to put up 1500+ yards on the ground. Physically, you won’t find a better looking back that Richardson. He’s a poor man’s Ricky Williams at 5’11”, 220 lbs. He runs in the low-to-middle 4.4’s, and even returns punts – the factor that likely tipped the Heisman scale for 1999 winner Charles Woodson.

The last serious contender at this point who no one seems to be giving any credit to is Oregon’s LaMichael James. James led that nation last year totaling over 1700 yards rushing. The Texas native is absolutely taylor-made for Chip Kelly faced-paced offense, and should realistically be able to equal his performance last season. The biggest issue for James is his size – can he stay as durable as he has at just 5’9″ 185 lbs? The Pac-12 hasn’t play much defense in the last two years, so who knows.

Two players too good to be labeled “darkhorses” are Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery.  Both will be among the top-10 most talented players next season, but the Heisman hasn’t given much love to receivers in recent years. Blackmon, who is  an amazing-catch machine, will be labeled as a “product of the system” playing in Oklahoma State’s spread offense. Jeffery, who is a nightmare of a matchup at 6’4″ 235 lbs, may be a better receiver than Blackmon, but won’t put up the stats that Blackmon will.

Quick hit candidates (In no particular order):

Kellen Moore – QB, BSU: Can he produce without the two best receiving threats he’s ever had in Austin Pettis and Titus young?

Dennard Robinson – QB, MU: Will he run wild or distribute the ball more in Al Borges’ new pro-style offense?

Matt Barkley – QB, USC: Likely won’t have the talent around him to showcase his own.

Brandon Weeden – QB, OKST: Like Blackmon, will receive the “system QB” label.

Taylor Martinez – QB, NU: Is he durable enough to be at full speed for a whole season?

Dan Persa – QB, NW: If he’s 100% coming back from an ACL tear, could be an elite QB.

Ryan Lindley – QB, SDSU: A great pro prosepct, can he get the hype and stats in the Mountain West?

Knile Davis – RB, ARK: With a new QB, Davis should get a big number of carries, topping 1300 yards again.

Ronnie Hillman – RB, SDSU: If he builds on a sensational freshman year, he’ll be in the top-5 fast.

Landry Jones – QB, OU: He’s got experience, talent, weapons around him, and possibly the best team in college football.

What we learned in College Football: Week 5

October 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Not having a Husker game to watch or attend gave me a solid twelve hour day to watch football.  It was glorious.  Also, do yourself a favor and go see “The Social Network”

1.  Oregon adjusts better than any team in the country

They showed it last night, not only scoring 28 second quarter points, but holding Stanford to zero second half points.  They didn’t just do it against on of the nation’s top quarterbacks, they held a respectable Arizona State team to just seven second half points after 24 in the first.  Their best adjustments came against Tennessee, when the Ducks pitched a second half shutout while scoring 35 on the Vols.  If anyone is going to beat Oregon, they’re going to have to convince the officials to call it at halftime.

2.  There’s no question who the best team out there is, again

Florida is not the team they once were with Tim Tebow, but they were still absolutely outclassed by the Alabama.  Despite actually having a lower yardage total, Alabama had control of this game from the beginning and never looked back.  They’ve got hands down the best running back tandem in the country, and a seasoned game-manager of a quarterback.  They even showed against Arkansas that they can play from behind-and win.  Something catastrophic would need to happen to keep the Tide out of the championship game again this year.

3.  Contrary to popular belief, Denard Robinson is not in fact human

What can you say about this guy?  What he’s done so far has been absolutely unreal.  He’s leading the nation in rushing yards with 905, nearly 200 more than the next competitor.  He’s third national with a passer rating of 180, and broke the 1000 yard passing mark this week.  He’s on pace to rush for over 2000 yards, and pass for nearly 2500, which would be an absolute earth-shattering record.  To put his numbers into perspective, consider Georgia Tech’s Joshua Nesbitt of last year.  Robinson is about 125 rushing yards from matching Nesbitt’s total rushing yards from last year, and through 5 games, is halfway to the point of matching Nesbitt’s passing numbers-which he compiled in 14 games.  Granted, Michigan has not really played any very goods teams yet, and nothing close to some of the defenses they will face, but you can’t argue with the numbers.

4.  It’s going to take all season to sort out the Big 12

The SEC has Alabama, it looks like the Pac 10 and Big 10 have Oregon and Ohio State respectively, and the Big East has West Virginia.  But the Big 12 is doing a good job of hiding its best team.  Despite the win, Oklahoma looked unimpressive against hapless rebuilding Texas, Nebraska looked less than stellar last week against an FCS opponent, and Oklahoma State looks like they could play a spoiler (or sleeper?) role this year.  The division favorites look like Oklahoma and Nebraska at this point, but they won’t play in the regular season.  After the last two weeks, it certainly doesn’t look like any member will be running the table.

5.  It’s early, but it looks like Boise State will be getting left in the dust again

The pollsters jumped at the chance to put Oregon ahead of Boise State in the AP poll after their impressive win over top 10 Stanford.  It doesn’t look like any of the three teams at the top (Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon) will be going anywhere soon, which doesn’t bode well for Boise State and their woefully weak schedule, even if they do play Nevada.  As if that’s not enough to worry about, they will most certainly be passed up by an undefeated winner of the Utah-TCU match up.

Facts of the week

Through 5 weeks, Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas of Hawaii have the 2 highest receiving yardages in all of college football, both with over 600 yards receiving.  I’d be willing to bet that that’s happened less than 5 times

-Michigan’s Denard Robinson became the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush for 200 yards and pass for 200 yards in twice in one season.  Five games in, mind you.

-Washington has beaten USC in back to back years for the first time since 1996 and 1997

-Oregon State has not turned the ball over yet this season

-Seven Big 10 quarterbacks are ranked in the top 20 of passer ratings.  The Pac 10 has 2

-Monte Kiffin’s USC defense ranks 99th nationally

-The Big East and ACC no longer have any undefeated teams

-Joe Paterno is 3 wins shy of 400 all time wins

-Virginia Tech lost to to FCS James Madison and beat 23rd ranked NC State in a span of less than four weeks

Conference Confidence Part 1

August 8, 2010 Leave a comment

My conference champion picks, going most confident choices to least.

1.  The WAC:  Boise State

This is an easy choice.  If I were the guy engraving team names on the conference championship trophies, I’d etch Boise State Broncos in right now to save myself some time in November.  Boise returns all but one starter on last year’s 14-0 squad.  The Broncos have lost (not a joke) one conference game since becoming a member of the WAC, and hold a 39-1 record over the last 3 years.

Next in Line: Nevada.  Upset Odds?  Slim to none

2.  Conference USA:  Houston

Houston returns 9 of 11 starters from last year’s NCAA yards, passing, and scoring leader on offense.  I’ve already got Case Keenum pegged as a Heisman finalist.  The Cougar offense should simply be unstoppable.  The defense however is extremely suspect, giving up 32 points or more on seven occasions.  Having a potentially record setting offense should help eliminate slip ups like losses to UTEP and Central Florida last year.

Next in Line:  Southern Miss and Southern Methodist.  Upset Odds?  Very Unlikely

3.  Sun Belt:  Middle Tennessee

Last year’s Sun Belt runner up  should lead the way with quarterback Dwight Dasher returning to lead the team.  The toughest test will likely come at home against Troy, who just lost Quarterback Levi Brown to the NFL draft, and offensive coordinator Neal Brown to Texas Tech.

Next in Line:  Troy.  Upset Odds?  Unlikely

4. Mountain West:  TCU

The Frogs will be putting up impressive numbers in 2010 on both sides of the ball.  Gary Patterson and TCU have had the top ranked defense for the last two years, and even with losses of defensive end Jerry Hughes and linebacker Daryl Washington in the top 50 picks of the NFL draft should still be among the best yet again.  The offense will be top 5.  But Utah will provide a formidable opponent coming back from somewhat of a rebuilding year in 2009.  Air Force and BYU will be contenders as well.

Next in Line:  Utah.  Upset Odds?  Unlikely

5. The MAC:  Temple

Temple is already among the favorites to be the next BCS buster.  With Central Michigan being stripped of Dan LeFevour and head coach Butch Jones, Temple will be the early conference favorite and get Ohio and the Chippewas at home.  A solid running game and solid defense will keep them a factor in every game.

Next in line:  Ohio.  Upset odds?  Within the realm of possibility

6. The Big East:  Pittsburgh

Pitt returns enough tools on both sides on the ball to win the Big East, most notably running back Dion Lewis, receiver Jonathan Baldwin, and defensive end Greg Romeus.  The schedule is a bit grueling, toughest opponent, West Virginia, will be played at home.

Next in Line:  Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Connecticut.  Upset Odds?  Decent Possibility



The Boise State Situation: Is Chaos Inevitable?

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

The question of Boise State playing for a BCS National Championship brings up a lot of interesting scenarios.  The scenario that has been beaten to death is that of whether or not a team from a non- automatically qualifying conference should or should not get to play for a BCS title, or whether the rankings will permit it.  Frankly, that situation (after months of overanalyzing) is not the one that intrigues me the most.  The thing that interests me the most will be the perception of the conference system, the BCS, and college football as a whole almost no matter what happens with the situation.

Situation 1- Boise State starts the season ranked in the top 5 of the BCS, AP, and Coach’s Polls

-1.A- Boise beats Virginia Tech early in the season and goes on to sweep the WAC in convincing fashion.

——1.A.I- Boise’s weak WAC schedule causes them to get passed up in the BCS during the regular season because the win over Virginia Tech was too early.  Due to a Big 12, SEC, or ACC Championship game occurring weeks after BSU’s final game, they are closed out of the BCS title picture and forced to play in a regular BCS game.  They go on to win convincingly over a BCS conference champion, even more so than Utah over Alabama in 2008.  Boise State fans, players, coaches, etc are outraged, the powers that be begin to seriously question the BCS and its reliability and fairness, now more seriously and proactively than ever.  Chaos ensues, but nothing life-altering.

——Final Possibility——1.A.I.x-If they lose, the situation quiets down until Boise State builds another great team down the road

——1.A.II- Boise State stays high in the polls due to record setting offensive and defensively dominant performances in their still weak WAC schedule.  After they beat a very good Nevada team convincingly and all the previously unbeatens in football eventually lose, Boise State Jumps to number 1 in the BCS.

——Final Possibility 1——1.A.II.x-Boise State wins the BCS title game.  The powers that be begin to question the fairness of the BCS.  Was this year a onetime deal?  How often is the best team in college football not in a BCS conference? Will a playoff be the best way to determine the best team? Is the BCS the best way to determine a national champion?  Chaos ensues, but perhaps for the better?

——Final Possibility 2——1.A.II.xx- Boise State loses the BCS title game convincingly.  2010 is known as “The Lost Year” of college football due to a sham national championship win over lowly WAC member Boise State.  That year’s champion will forever go down as a controversial title (Because after that, a non-AQ school will certainly never return to the title game as long as the BCS is around).  Questions about the ability of the BCS to get the two truly best teams in college football begin to pick up serious speed.  Is a playoff truly the best way?  After twelve games, how could the BCS not figure out that Boise wasn’t the second best team?  How far would Boise have gotten in a playoff?  Chaos ensues, but the after effects are felt almost entirely by that year’s champion and the non-AQ schools.

-1.B- Boise State loses to Virginia Tech early in the season and goes on to a 11-1 record.

—-1.B.I- It does not matter, because one loss is enough for the pollsters and BCS to keep Boise out of the title game.  Even though at the end of the year when 2 one loss teams are playing for the title and Boise may very well be the best team, it won’t matter because it will always come back to Boise State’s strength of schedule.  We’ll have to wait until Boise builds another WAC juggernaut.  No chaos ensues…yet.

Situation 2- Boise State begins the season ranked outside of the top 5 in the BCS, AP, and Coach’s polls

-2.A- Boise beats Virginia Tech early in the season and dominates the WAC as expected.

——2.A.I- Boise never reaches the top 2 in the BCS.  See scenario 1.A.I.  The powers that be begin to wonder if preseason rankings have too much weight in the big picture.  Movements to remove the Coach’s and AP polls for the first 6 weeks of the season (a la the BCS poll) pick up speed, spearheaded by the higher-ups at non-AQ conferences and schools.  The Mountain West begins the movement for an automatic BCS bid.  Chaos ensues, which will lead to more chaos down the road.

——2.A.II- Through absolutely drubbing their WAC schedule, Boise climbs to number 2 in the BCS by season’s end.  They play for a title

——Final Possibility 3——2.A.II.x- See final possibility 1

——Final Possibility 4——2.A.II.xx- See final possibility 2

-2.B- Boise States is beat by Virginia Tech early in the season.

——2.B.I- The situation is a wash.  Boise State started too low in the polls and dropped too far after the loss to the Hokies.  People begin to question if Boise State has been overrated all along-not just this year.  Was the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma a fluke?  They beat another non-AQ team (TCU) in their other BCS bowl win, that must have been a fluke too, right?  As the non-AQ schools’ figurehead and flagship team, the non-automatic qualifying conference reputation takes a serious blow.  The sheer disappointment and letdown of the “Boise State Situation” cause the greater college football community to cool it on the BCS for a while.  The Mountain West’s hopes for an automatic bid are set back by at least a full season.  Chaos ensues…negatively for Boise and the non-AQ schools.

So now you can see why I think that college football chaos might be in our near future.  The effects of how Boise State’s season goes (potentially teetering on something as small as pre-season rank!) could have ramifications that could alter college football as we know it.  Will it’s effects have such grandeur?  Likely not.  But who knows.