College Football Top 10 Preview 2012

27 08 2012

 

#1 USC – The Trojans seem to be picking up where they left off a couple of years ago before the NCAA hit them with sanctions. QB Matt Barkley is a major Heisman contender (if not the very early front-runner), and head Coach Lane Kiffin seems to be quickly bringing this team back into elite status. With a relatively weak PAC-12 Conference, the biggest obstacle in their path right now is a trip to Eugene on November 3rd to play the Ducks. Can this team handle the pressure that comes along with being #1?

#2 Alabama – The reigning national champion lost a lot of players to the NFL. The offense and defense are going to have a lot of new faces, but Coach Nick Saban is one of the best out there, and he won’t expect any less than the best even from his younger players. The Crimson Tide have an early test this Saturday as they travel to Arlington, TX to meet Michigan in a key non-conference matchup.

#3 LSU – The Tigers have a lot of talent returning this year, and every one of those players is being motivated by their 21-0 embarrassment in last year’s national championship game. LSU will have a dominant defense, but the question is whether or not their offense can generate anything against the solid defenses of the SEC. As good as they were last year, the Tigers were only able to score a total of 9 points against Alabama in the two times they matched up against their divisional rival. November 3rd is lurking.

#4 Oklahoma – With Robert Griffin III, Justin Blackmon, and Brandon Weedon all off to the NFL, the Big XII is up for the taking, and Bob Stoops should be in a prime position to seize this opportunity. QB Landry Jones has decided to play one more year for the Sooners, and Mike Stoops has rejoined his brother as defensive coordinator. Even with all the great teams that have come through Oklahoma over the past decade, the fans in Norman are still looking for their first title since 2000.

#5 Oregon – The Ducks are returning 14 starters from last year’s Rose Bowl winning team. LaMichael James has moved on, but there is still more than enough firepower on that team to give any opposing defensive coordinator nightmares. Even if no one will want to admit it, every coach and player on that team is looking ahead to November 3rd when the Trojans come to town.

#6 Georgia – Last year’s SEC East champions look ready to continue the momentum they began last season. With neither LSU nor Alabama on their schedule this year, the Bulldogs look to be in a wonderful position to make a legitimate run this year. A trip to South Carolina on October 6th currently appears to be their biggest challenge, so if they can pass that test, expect those Dogs to bark up some noise.

#7 Florida St. – Year after year, Bobby Bowden consistently made FSU one the elite football programs in the country. Even after he left, those expectations still remained, and Jimbo Fisher has done his best to get his team to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, over the past two seasons, the Seminoles haven’t been able to prove themselves when it matters. This year’s squad is full of talent, but we’ll have to see if they are finally ready to make that big step.

#8 Michigan – This season will be all about QB Denard Robinson who is one of the most dynamic players in college football – he could easily become this year’s RG3. The Wolverines might have one of the best teams in the Big 10, but they also have one of the toughest schedules with road games at Nebraska and Ohio St. along with opening the season this Saturday against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. They will provide excitement, but a successful season in terms of a preseason top 10 ranking is looking to be doubtful.

#9 South Carolina – When Steve Spurrier was brought in as head coach in 2005, he was expected to turn a perennially mediocre program into a contender. (This is no small feat in the SEC.) While the Gamecocks made strides early on, they always seemed to be “almost there.” Then, last year, they hit two major milestones setting a school record with 11 wins and finishing in the season in the AP Top 10 for the first time in school history. If this team can use this momentum, they could have a very respectable season.

#10 Arkansas – Over just a few seasons, Bobby Petrino had instilled a confidence in his team that was lacking and had begun convincing fans that he would be able to bring the Hogs back to their former glory. With Petrino now gone, it will be up to the new head coach along with the players to focus on continuing the direction their program is headed. This is crucial if they want to have a chance at competing in a division which houses rivals Alabama and LSU.

 

Here are some match-ups to keep an eye out for this season:

September 1: Michigan @ Alabama

September 5: Alabama @ Arkansas

September 22: Florida St @ Clemson

October 6: Georgia @ South Carolina

November 3: USC @Oregon and Alabama @ LSU

November 23: LSU @ Arkansas

 

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99 Yards of Return on the Board

5 01 2012

In a game in which West Virginia broke the all-time record for points in a bowl game (70), check out the play that completely shifted the momentum in this year’s Orange Bowl.

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Follow Up Upset

23 11 2011

These are the type of moments that make you appreciate college basketball and the passion that is evident in every single game.

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College Catch-Up

20 11 2011

 

This week was filled with analysts arguing who belonged in the title game. Beginning Friday night with OSU losing on the road in Ames, 4 of the top 10 teams in the country lost, and an all SEC BCS Championship game is looking more and more likely with LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas the probable top 3 when the polls come out today.

 

(#5) Oklahoma 38,  (#25) Baylor 45

After 20 unsuccessful tries, the Baylor Bears finally got their first win over the Sooners, and it could not have come in a more dramatic fashion. With about a minute left, Oklahoma ran the ball into the end zone and tied up the game. When Baylor got the ball back, they ran the ball up the middle signaling that they were willing to take the game to overtime. However, Bob Stoops called a time out thinking that maybe they would have a little bit of time left to do something if they got the ball back. The Bears changed their strategy, Robert Griffin – who now needs to be seriously considered for the Heisman with his 479 passing yards and 4 touchdowns – drove his team down the field and threw a beautiful touchdown pass on a scramble, and OU’s chances at a title have all but disappeared.

 

(#2) Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 37 (2OT)

The Cowboys’ dream season took a big hit with this loss, although an outside chance at the title game is still possible with all the other losses on Saturday.  Both teams were pass-heavy, but OSU only amassed 60 total rushing yards. Heisman-hopeful Brandon Weedon threw for 476 yards and 3 touchdowns but also had 3 uncharacteristic interceptions. The December 3rd game against Oklahoma doesn’t have quite the impact anymore, but these two teams will be playing for the Big XII title (which OSU has never won).

 

(#7) Clemson 13, North Carolina State 37

A couple of weeks ago, the Tigers had national championship aspirations. Now, it looks like they’re going to have to beat a very good Virginia Tech team in the ACC title game in order to get into a BCS bowl game. Saturday’s game looked like an example of a good team not showing up to play. At halftime, the usually dominant Tigers had only racked up 86 yards of offense against a team that wasn’t even bowl-eligible yet. Next week, Clemson closes their season against cross-state rival South Carolina.

 

(#18) USC 38, (#4) Oregon 35

This is the third time this year that the longest home winning streak has been snapped. First, Texas Tech won at Oklahoma. Then TCU took down Boise State on their blue field.  Now the Ducks have fallen to the Trojans.  The star of the night was Matt Barkley who threw for 323 yards and 4 touchdowns. Unfortunately, due to NCAA sanctions, the Trojans aren’t allowed to play in the Pac-12 title game or a post-season bowl-game. So, right now, it’s all for pride. After the Cowboys went down, many analysts were arguing with each other over whether Alabama or Oregon should get a rematch against LSU in the title game. Well, this game put that argument to rest.

 

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College Catch-Up

30 10 2011

 

(#5) Clemson 17, Georgia Tech 31

Georgia Tech’s running game was unstoppable as the Yellow Jackets tallied up 383 total rushing yards and handed the hot Clemson team their first loss of the season. Georgia Tech was able to skunk the Tigers in the 2nd quarter 17-0, which allowed some breathing room for the rest of the game. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has brought his team back from large deficits in multiple games this season, but the 24-3 hole was just too much for Boyd. Unfortunately, this probably dashes any hope the Tigers had of competing in the national championship.

 

(#9) Oklahoma 58, (#8) Kansas State 17 and Baylor 24, (#3) Oklahoma State 59

Oklahoma quickly bounced back from their loss to Texas Tech with a pounding of Kansas State. Landry Jones became the first Oklahoma quarterback to throw for over 500 yards and also became the school record holder for most career passing touchdowns (90). Kansas State’s running game kept them in the game up until half time, when they were only trailing 23-17. However, Collin Klein just couldn’t get anything going in the second half, finishing 8-16 for 58 passing yards as Oklahoma blitzed past the Wildcats in the 2nd half, outscoring them 35-0. Baylor’s final deficit was similar to Kansas State’s except the way in which they lost was completely different. Oklahoma State jumped on the Bears early and did not let up. The scoreboard read 49-3 after the 3rd quarter, and the points scored the rest of the way were just garbage time points. Turnovers are what sealed the deal for Baylor as they committed five compared to the Cowboys’ one. What both of these games show is that Baylor and Kansas State are just not ready to make the leap as an elite Big XII football program while both Oklahoma teams showed they are legitimate contenders and will inevitably provide a great ESPN College GameDay match-up on December 3rd.

 

(#6) Stanford 56, USC 48 (3OT)

In a game that will probably go down as one of the best games of the year, Andrew Luck carried his team to three successful offensive trips in overtime and kept his team’s National Championship aspirations alive. Watching this game makes it clear why there has been so much discussion about the bottom of the barrel NFL teams fighting for this college prospect. This battle was the epitome of back-and-forth drama, having 7 lead changes and three arduous overtimes. Oddly enough, even though this game had both teams giving it all they had, it ended on an anti-climactic note with a Curtis McNeal fumble in the end zone.

 

(#15) Wisconsin 29, Ohio State 33

Wisconsin lost a devastating game to Michigan State last week on a last second Hail Mary; unfortunately, this week wasn’t much better. Russell Wilson was consistent the entire game, throwing for 253 yards on 20-32 passing along with three touchdowns. The Badgers even scored 15 straight points in the fourth quarter to take a 29-26 lead, but yet again, another heave by the opposing team towards the end of the game resulted in Wisconsin losing a second game in a row. Interestingly, Ohio State won this game relying almost solely on their running game because if Devin Smith’s last 40 yard pass is taken away, he was 6-11 for only 49 passing yards and no touchdowns for the game.

 

Case Keenum broke the FBS all-time record for career touchdown passes with 139, as his Houston Cougars continued to win (8-0) in their hammering of the Rice Owls, 73-34. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that he also threw nine touchdowns, which is only two away from the all-time record held by a fellow Houston quarterback

 

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College Catch-Up

2 10 2011

(#8) Nebraska 17, (#7) Wisconsin 48

This was a huge statement game for the Badgers, and it looks like they are real title contenders this year. Nebraska’s QB, Taylor Martinez, threw no touchdowns and three interceptions while Wisconsin’s QB, Russell Wilson, threw two touchdowns and no picks. Furthermore, throwing 13 touchdowns along with only 1 interception and having a passer rating of 216.9 (second only to Robert Griffin) proves to me this man should be in the consideration for the Heisman. An interesting test awaits Wisconsin, though, because starting October 22, Wisconsin will play 4 of 5 games on the road.

 

(#14) Texas A&M 38, (#18) Arkansas 42

In a game which played out eerily similar to last week’s A&M/OSU game, the Aggies outscored the Razorbacks 35-17 in the first half, but were outscored 3-25 in the second half. The A&M staff is going to have to try and figure out why their team isn’t able to hold leads in big games after halftime. In a year in which they were supposed to take a jump into the elite field of the Big XII has actually turned into a last place ranking – currently – in the Big XII. On the other hand, this is a big win for Arkansas to add to their resume as they prepare to begin their treacherous SEC schedule. Something else to keep in mind: the Aggies are going to have to face Arkansas every year when they join the SEC.

 

(#15) Baylor 35, Kansas State 36

Robert Griffin is having an award-winning year, but his first interception of the season ending up leading to Baylor’s first loss of the season. Griffin ended up with 346 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, but that one pick ended up determining the game’s outcome. If Griffin wants a chance at winning the Heisman, he will need to push his team to rack up more wins because without that wins, he won’t get any recognition. Now, the Wildcats are an improbable 4-0, but they will really be tested at the end of the season when they play OU, OSU, A&M, and Texas on consecutive weekends.

 

(#13) Clemson 23, (#11) Virginia Tech 3

In a match where defense was put on display, Clemson came out on top and prevented Virginia Tech from scoring a touchdown in a home game for the first time in 16 years. Leading the team to first place in the ACC Atlantic and effectively controlling the offense, Tajh Boyd has definitely showed his play-making ability and his command of the field. The Tigers have now beaten ranked opponents three weeks in a row and, they should be favored in most of their upcoming games, but a matchup at undefeated Georgia Tech looms at the end of October.

 

Other notable scores:

(#16) South Florida 17,  Pittsburgh 44

Auburn 16,  (#10) South Carolina 13

SMU 40,  (#20) TCU 33

(#3) Alabama 38,  (#12) Florida 10

 

SEC Note:  With South Carolina and Florida both losing, Georgia all of the sudden has life again in the SEC West even after their terrible 0-2 start. On top of that, Arkansas, LSU, and Alabama are not on the Bulldogs schedule this year.

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College Catch-Up

25 09 2011

 

(#7) Oklahoma State 30,  (#8) Texas A&M 29

At halftime the Aggies had built a 20-3 lead and were dominating all aspects of the game. Many viewers probably had this one written off at this point. However, the Cowboys came out strong in the second half scoring 27 unanswered points and holding A&M to just one first down in the third quarter. This was an incredible performance that puts Oklahoma State in the national championship race while dealing a huge blow to the Aggies who just can’t wait to leave the Big XII.

(#2) LSU 47,  (#16) West Virginia 21

Geno Smith, the West Virginia quarterback, had a monster day setting school records for completions, attempts, and passing yards (463), but the LSU defense was able to, once again, capitalize on mistakes. West Virginia was probably over-ranked, but it still was a very impressive win by LSU who now has beaten 3 ranked opponents on the road. On November 5th, the Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama, and that game might turn out to be the game of the year. I expect the winner of that game to be a favorite in the national championship.

(#11) Florida State 30,  (#21) Clemson 35

Amazingly, Florida State was starting a freshman quarterback because their starter was hurt last week against Oklahoma, and he actually held up really well. He had 336 passing yards and 3 touchdowns keeping his team in the tight contest. Rodney Smith and Rashad Greene also carried a lot of the load, collecting 216 receiving yards combined. Clemson’s quarterback, Tajh Boyd was just as good though, passing for 344 yards, throwing 3 touchdowns, and running in another. The Tigers were able to hold on in the end, and Clemson is now 4-0 for the first time in 5 years, and they look like they will be a dominant force in the ACC this year.

(#14) Arkansas 14,  (#3) Alabama 38

Arkansas needed this game to show that they are contenders. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, all we saw was how dominant Bama’s defense is right now holding them to just 17 yards rushing. Alabama’s allowing just 8.0 points against a game, which is 2nd in the entire FBS behind Temple. Most of the Crimson Tide’s offense came from Trent Richardson who ran for 120 yards and also caught a 61 yard touchdown. Next week, Nick Saban takes his team to Gainesville to take on Will Muschamps’ Gators (4-0) which should be an interesting matchup.

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