Category Archives: College Football

college football re-cap: bu-bye, big xii…hello, huskies!

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Texas running back D’onta Foreman runs away with Baylor’s hopes of a College Football Playoff berth.

The Separation Sequence hath begun! What is that, you ask? In each and every college football season, there is one weekend when we go from several national championship contenders to a handful of contenders. History shall recognize the final weekend of October 2016 as the weekend of the Separation Sequence.

Who’s (Still) In?
Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington (you heard me). They are, for now, the only undefeated teams from the Power 5 conferences. They are also the best four teams out of their respective conferences (until someone says otherwise on the field).

Who’s Out?
The Big XII. West Virginia and Baylor both lost this weekend to lesser opponents, which isn’t terribly surprising. I’m pretty certain neither are even the best team in their conference.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers also fell to Wisconsin over the weekend, but we should consider them “down, but not out.” They could still win their division and the B1G conference. Would that be enough to power them into the College Football Playoff? All things remaining constant, I say yes. But that’s more than a month away…and the Huskers still have to go to Ohio State.

My Top Ten
1. Alabama (8-0)
Is there any real question? Even during a bye week, the Tide could beat someone.

2. Michigan (8-0)
There were no miracles for Sparty this year in the rivalry game. Also no surprises on the outcome.

3. Clemson (8-0)
Five of Clemson’s eight victories were one-score margins. The Tigers flirt with disaster. And disaster loses.

4. Washington (8-0)
The Huskies have quietly taken advantage of a weaker-than-predicted PAC-12. Still, beating Utah and Stanford is nothing to sneeze at.

5. Texas A&M (7-1)
The ‘Bama loss will haunt this team. HAUNT.

6. Ohio State (7-1)
The Penn State loss seems to have upset Urban Meyer’s apple cart a bit. His Buckeyes did not dominate Northwestern last weekend. We’ll see if there’s still a hangover come Saturday.

7. Florida (6-1)
Don’t look now, but the Gators are quietly creeping up on Alabama. But first, they have to beat Arkansas (they will, because Arkansas is always overrated).

8. Louisville (7-1)
A high-scoring team that will dismantle Boston College this weekend.

9. Nebraska (7-1)
Losing to Wiscy hurts their post-season chances. A road win over Ohio State would reverberate throughout college football.

10. Baylor (6-1)
I flipped a coin between Baylor and West Virginia. Both are good programs; just haven’t played a very strong schedule. Two-loss Okie St. is better than Baylor, if you ask me.

Games of Ultimate Consequence
Buoyed by my 2-0 performance last week, I am confident I will go 3-0 this week. Of course, I screwed up and thought Alabama-LSU was being played last Saturday. Apparently, reading schedules is not my forte. Anyway, I’m going to lead with that game. Here are my predictions:

Western Michigan (8-0) at Ball State (4-4)—This is a weird, Tuesday night game between a pair of vaunted rivals in the Mid-American Conference. Not quite Power 5, but this should be an entertaining game. The Broncos (that’s Western Michigan, kids) average 44 points per game. Head Coach P.J. Fleck and his Flecktones are poised to light it up in Muncie Tuesday night. David Letterman’s alma mater does not stand a chance in this one.

Prediction: Western Michigan

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Alabama (8-0) at LSU (5-2)—I’ve only watched a little bit of Alabama football this season, but they’ve been absolutely dominant. I was most impressed with its defense; the fourth-best in the nation. What frightens me the most about the Tide? Their freshman QB, Jalen Hurts. He’s a versatile kid, running one the most explosive offenses in the country. And he’s only a freshman!

But don’t get caught napping on LSU. Just because they fired Les Miles doesn’t mean this is a bad team; quite the contrary. Leonard Fournette can still run circles around defenses. He may not be a Heisman candidate anymore, but he can be a killer for defenses. Speaking of which, LSU’s defense is just behind Alabama, nationally. Being a road game in a hostile environment, this could be the toughest test of Alabama’s season, but LSU won’t have enough for the upset. Expect a competitive, close game for three quarters.

Prediction: Alabama

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Nebraska (7-1) at Ohio State (7-1)—A HUGE game for both teams. The Huskers are coming off a tough road loss to Wisconsin. The once-dominant—considered to be a national title contender—Ohio State barely got past Northwestern. But both teams are still in the hunt for the conference championship. Give Ohio State the edge, since the game is in Columbus, but I see this as being another close game. Ultimately, Ohio State should come out on top.

Prediction: Ohio State

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college football re-cap: the tide rolls, the buckeyes get cracked.

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Weekly national rankings don’t really matter all that much since the advent of the College Football Playoff. If you’ve spoken to be about college football for five minutes, you’ll quickly learn I’ve always felt the rankings were pointless until conference schedules are underway. Since we’re several weeks into things, I thought I’d weigh in.

I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of all the undefeated, one-loss and two-loss teams in the Power 5 conferences; although I’m not sure why I care about two-loss teams since none of them will ever sniff the CFP. I also included a handful of non-Power 5 teams to watch; teams like Navy, Western Michigan and Boise St. No, they won’t make the CFP, but I do feel they’re worthy of Top 25 status over most two-loss teams. If you have three losses, you’re out. Period. That means no more three-loss SEC teams get unfair consideration.

Anyway, I’ve been keeping track. As of the conclusion of Week 8, there are a total of 33 teams on this list. My Top Ten probably won’t look much differently than what you see from the AP or the Coaches Poll.

Here’s my Top 10:
1. Alabama (8-0)
After last night, there’s no doubt in my mind they’re the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, until someone else says otherwise.

2. Michigan (7-0)
As impressive as the offense is, Michigan’s defense is even more impressive. Thus far, they’ve lived up to expectation. From this point forward, the season only gets tougher with three important road games (Michigan State, Iowa, Ohio State).

3. Clemson (7-0)
The Tigers have been flirting with disaster all season long, yet continue to find ways to win. Florida State this weekend will be their biggest test since Louisville.

4. Washington (7-0)
The Huskies are quietly putting themselves into CFP contention, thanks to high-powered offense and solid defense. The’ve got a tough road game at Utah this weekend, which could end up being a Pac-12 championship game preview.

5. Texas A&M (6-1)
As strong as the Aggies are, they are a distant second in the SEC right now. Unless something happens to ‘Bama, the Aggies are playing for the Sugar Bowl or something.

6. Nebraska (7-0)
This year’s Iowa. The Cornhuskers have had a similar ride as Michigan, thus far. Road games at Wiscy and Columbus over the next two weeks will be the ultimate tests for Nebraska.

7. Louisville (6-1)
That loss to Clemson means the Cardinals are relying on help from Clemson’s upcoming opponents the rest of the way. Even if they win out, Louisville needs Clemson to lose twice to have a chance at the ACC championship.

8. Ohio State (6-1)
No one—and I mean NO ONE!—anticipated Ohio State losing at Penn State. I still don’t know how it happened. But it hurt. The Buckeyes’ season is hardly over, though. They control their own destiny. Of course, The Game is going to decide the B1G championship.

9. Baylor (6-0)
This is not a great year for the Big XII. But Baylor has established itself as the top of this weak, weak heap. West Virginia might move its way past Baylor soon, but for now…who cares. Neither team has really distinguished itself this season yet, if you ask me.

10. Utah (7-1)
Don’t fall asleep on the Utes. This is a rising program amidst a tumultuous period for the Pac-12. UCLA, USC, Oregon and Stanford or vulnerable these days and Utah has moved to supplant them. No, they haven’t really played anyone yet, but they are undefeated. In my book, that does count for something (but don’t be surprised if they’re not here next week).

Games of Ultimate Consequence
Clemson (7-0) at Florida State (5-2)—The Seminoles are playing for pride. The Tigers are playing for a second consecutive ACC championship. I expect this to be a close game with the Clemson defense dictating the outcome.
Prediction: Clemson

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Alabama (8-0) at LSU (5-2)—Since firing its head coach, LSU has been rejuvenated, winning three straight games in convincing fashion. But they won’t have enough to take out Alabama.
Prediction: Alabama

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Michigan (7-0) at Michigan State (2-5)—I’ll admit, this is a sentimental pick for me. On the surface, it looks like a gimme for the Wolverines, who have only had a couple serious challenges all season long. But who could forget last year’s finish between the two in Ann Arbor? Sure, Sparty has fallen hard and fast this season, but it’s a rivalry game. Anything can happen in rivalry games. Mark Dantonio will have his team fired up to play the role of spoiler once again in a series that’s become insanely personal for him. On that same turn, Jim Harbaugh has kept his Wolverines hungry, intense and prepared for every challenge. I doubt he’ll let his team look past a rival.
Prediction: Michigan

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That’s my two cents. You may think I’m a complete idiot, but that’s okay. Disagree? Leave it in the comments.

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college football week 12 recap: another sad pizza day for urban meyer.

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This photo is from ESPN.com. Please don’t sue me.

Plenty of drama in Week 12. But do you think any of that drama produced a clearer playoff picture? Ha! You fool! If anything, the waters are muddier today than they were before Saturday. With two remaining undefeated teams and 12 one-loss teams left this season, no tickets have been punched. Only four will make the playoff. I wouldn’t place bets on any of them yet…although we can probably count out Toledo, Houston and Navy.

The Big Story: OSU (both of them) Down
There are two, really, but Oklahoma State losing at home to Baylor was a much bigger deal to me than Ohio State losing at home to Michigan State. I never expected Baylor to have so much fire power with backup QB Jarrett Stidham filling the big shoes of injured Seth Russell. And then HE went down! Baylor had to rely on a third-string QB, Chris Johnson, to carry the load. I seriously thought this was Okie State’s year. I really did. I was wrong. Leave it to the Cowboys to blow it in spectacular fashion. They were never in it. Baylor had OSU chasing all night long.

On the surface, I was never surprised that Michigan State would beat Ohio State. It didn’t matter to me that it was a home game for the Buckeyes. To me, this was the first true test for Ohio State and, much like last year’s defending champs, they were vulnerable and ripe for a loss. Now, had I known the best QB in the B1G, Connor Cook, would be sitting it out, I might’ve felt differently.

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Another sad pizza day for Urban Meyer. At least his players lost with class…oh, wait.

Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was Sparty’s defense, perhaps it was backup QBs Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry doing just enough to manage the offense, perhaps it was Michigan State’s experience in winning ugly and winning late.

Michigan State v Michigan

A clearly overjoyed Mark Dantonio flashes his familiar smile after his Spartans defeated Ohio State…and then he ripped out the heart of a deer with his bare hands and devoured it in the postgame presser.

No matter how you cut it, State was the better team in an otherwise dismal game where neither team looked exceptionally great. But who knew the loss would send Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott into the postgame presser, announcing his intention to go to the NFL…and throwing his coaches under the bus on his way to draft day.

The usually unflappable Ohio State suddenly looked and sounded frustrated. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond next weekend. I do not expect a hangover of any sort, heading into The Game.

cupcake-secCupcakes – 1; SEC – 0
I said last week to ignore the SEC entirely this week, thanks to their tradition of Cupcake Week. But we have to pause and give praise to The Citadel for knocking off South Carolina 23-22. On top of that, a down-and-out Florida Atlantic nearly took out championship contender Florida to OT. Did NOT see that coming! If that’s not enough, Georgia also needed overtime to secure a win over that powerhouse Georgia Southern.

It’s time for the SEC to keep the cupcakes early in the season, like everyone else.

Orange Pants

Big Boy Pants! The Volunteers are putting ’em on, thanks to head coach Butch Jones.

Big Boy Pants!
The Tennessee Volunteers are currently 7-4, heading into their final game of the season vs. Vanderbilt. That’s an impressive record; especially considering it clinches the Vols’ first winning season heading into the bowl season since 2009.

Thanks to third-year head coach Butch Jones, the Vols are putting on their Big Boy Pants! This season is even more impressive when you consider only 17 points separate Tennessee from an 11-0 season.

Volunteers junior QB Joshua Dobbs has a total QBR of 74.1, good for No. 22 in the nation. Sophomore running back Jalen Hurd is 113 yards shy of a 1,000-yard rushing season. Don’t be surprised if Tennessee moves its way back into the upper level of the SEC East division next season.

Current Rankings…According to Me
Fact: none of this matters until the regular season and championship games have been played. But in the meantime, I took a look at the remaining undefeated and one-loss teams and ranked them according to my super-duper scientific method.

You may agree or disagree. I’m not even sure I agree with myself right now. Truth is, it’s likely to change after Thanksgiving weekend and once again after Championship weekend. But, for now, here’s where I see things.

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CorsoStrictly Personal: The Old Oaken Bucket
Indiana (5–6 / 1–6) at Purdue (2–9 / 1–6)
No one will pay any attention to this game. There is nothing really on the line (but for bowl eligibility for one team)…and a bucket. A win for IU means a 6–6 season; just good enough to get an invitation to a bowl game. For Purdue, it means…who cares?! I’m an IU grad and carved out 5+ years of my professional career with IU. I’m cream and crimson, through and through!

While Purdue owns the overall series at 72-39-6, the Hoosiers have won the past two Bucket games. IU has the better offense by a county mile. IU was within a touchdown in games against the top teams in the conference: Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan.
Prediction: Purdue? Pur-DON’T! Win it for Coach Corso! Win it for Hep! Win it because…Christ, we need SOMETHING to cheer about this season with IU football! HAIL TO OLD IU!!

The Final Weekend
I’m already sad we’ve reached the end of the line for the 2015 season. But the playoff drama will not be decided until the conference championship games the following weekend. In the meantime, there are several rivalry games that have more than pride on the line.

Oklahoma (10–1 / 7–1) at Oklahoma State (10–1 / 7–1)
Bedlam. This game will undoubtedly live up to the hype. In a conference without a championship game, this rivalry matchup will likely serve as the de facto championship. It also represents that last, best hope for the Big XII to have a representative in the College Football Playoff.
Prediction: Boomer Sooner.oklahomaauthenticriddell

Florida State (9–2 / 6–2) at Florida (10–1 / 7–1)
This out-of-conference matchup could prove devastating for the Gators. They’re already set to take on Alabama in the SEC championship game. A loss to the Seminoles would take Florida out of the national championship picture. Florida hasn’t had an impressive win since taking out Ole Miss back in October. For Florida State, it’s all about pride. Sure, FSU is going to a bowl game, but their schedule boasts very few quality wins. A win in Gainesville would go a long way in this bitter rivalry.
Prediction: Gators chomp the Seminoles.Florida Gators

Notre Dame (10–1) at Stanford (9–2 / 8–1)
Saving the best for last. The Irish still have a great shot at making the playoff, but need to get past the best team in the Pac-12. Were it not for a two-point loss vs. Oregon last week, The Cardinal might be in CFP contention as well. Instead, this game is all about bragging rights. And The Legends Trophy. While national media will likely be paying attention elsewhere, this game is one to watch.
Prediction: Irish prevail. ND

Ohio State (10–1 / 6–1) at Michigan (9–2 / 6–1)
It’s been a long time since The Game has had meaning for both schools. This year, the stakes are much higher for Ohio State. A win in Ann Arbor keeps OSU’s conference (and national) championship hopes alive. For the Wolverines, a win (coupled with a Michigan State loss) would put them in the conference championship game and serve as an exclamation point in the beginning of the Jim Harbaugh era.
Prediction: Too close to call, but…MichiganReplica

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college football week 11 recap: the haves & the have-nots.

RIP-Pac-12The 2015 college football season is getting down to the haves and have-nots. Let’s dispense with the usual proceedings and dive right into it:

The Haves
These are the teams that still have a legitimate shot at contending for a slot in the College Football Playoff:

ACC: Clemson (10-0) & North Carolina (9-1)
The Tigers might be the best team in the nation. By virtue of winning the Coastal Division, Carolina still has a shot at both spoiling Clemson’s season and making its own case to be in the CFP.

Big XII: Oklahoma State (10-0) and Oklahoma (9-1)
The conference without a true conference championship game will likely come down to the final game of the regular season between these two teams. The winner (probably) takes all and, unlike last season, punches a ticket to the playoff.

B1G: Ohio State (10-0), Iowa (10-0) and Michigan State (9-1)
Admittedly, Sparty’s position on this list is more precarious than others. They require a few things happening over the next two weeks; namely, beat Ohio State and watch Michigan beat Ohio State. For Iowa and Ohio State, the directive is simple: win every game left to play.

SEC: Alabama (9-1) and Florida (9-1)
Unlike every other Power 5 conference, the SEC still has the worst tradition in college football: scheduling cupcakes for the penultimate game of the regular season. Both ‘Bama and Florida have who-cares opponents at home this weekend for their annual in-season scrimmage before taking on their rivals in two weeks. Your best bet is to completely ignore the SEC this Saturday and come back to them on the 28th.

The Have-Nots

Pac-12
You had a good run, Utah, and I really thought you had a shot at a national championship this year. But losing to Arizona all but killed you. Same goes for Stanford’s loss to Oregon. Now, both schools are playing for the Rose Bowl. Stanford does have a shot at playing spoiler in two weekend when they travel to Notre Dame, but that’s as close to the CFP as it gets for this conference.

Baylor (8-1) and TCU (8-1)
Sorry, kids. It’s over. You just need to accept it now.

sgEQ0fqiTSChqGJJlhWR_JIMMichigan (8-2)
There are (delusional) people out there making the (preposterous) claim that Michigan could get to the playoff if a few (thousand) dominoes fall in their favor. In a word: no. Never. Not going to happen. There will be no two-loss teams vying for the championship.

Nor will there be two teams from one conference in the playoff, so let’s everyone take a deep breath and exhale out all the crazy talk. Michigan’s had a spirited season filled with cardiac moments, but that Michigan State loss crushed any crazy dreams that were out there. And that’s all right. Michigan got very good in a hurry, but they are not quite ready for primetime.

Every two-loss team in college football
You’re out. Period.

On the Bubble

Notre Dame (9-1)
With Utah and Stanford losing last weekend, the first set of dominoes fell in ND’s favor. But they still need one more Power 5 conference leader to stumble and fall before we can truly say they’re in.

Yeah, yeah. I know. The Week 11 CFP poll had Notre Dame at No. 4. it doesn’t matter. There are two more weekends of regular season games, plus conference championship games. A lot can happen. Notre Dame needs to win out and wait. If they’re 11-1, that guarantees them nothing. The Irish still need one of the Power 5 conferences that isn’t the Pac-12 to have a bit of a shakeup at the top.

If Ohio State loses this week and next week? If there are no undefeated teams in the B1G or Big-XII? That opens the door for Notre Dame. Until then, the Irish have to worry about their final two games first.

Navy (9-1)
The Midshipmen have one, glaring loss on their schedule that looms larger and larger every day. Their loss to ND is a deep hole for Navy. Not only do the Middies need to win out (including a tough road game vs. undefeated Houston) and a rivalry game vs. Army, they need Notre Dame to lose another game, plus all the dominoes ND needs to fall. In other words, not likely. But the upside is Navy is heading toward a major bowl game. That’s kinda awesome.

THE Games to Watch This Weekend
cupcake-secYou can guarantee there isn’t an SEC game this weekend worth watching—not one—unless you enjoy late-season, rest-the-starters, tuneup garbage games. Who cares if Alabama beats Charleston Southern by 10 or 100? It’s a BS tradition and I wish there was a way to punish the SEC for it.

That being said, here are three games this weekend that actually matter!

Michigan State (9-1 / 5-1) at Ohio State (10-0 / 6-0)—By far, the most anticipated game of the weekend. Before Michigan’s resurgence, this matchup of the B1G’s top two teams was circled in red by everyone. Now, given all the playoff implications, all eyes are on Columbus this weekend. My guess: Ohio State will be favored. But don’t be surprised if this one goes down to the wire.

Baylor (8-1 / 5-1) at Oklahoma State (10-0 / 7-0)
Even without its starting quarterback, Baylor proved last week it’s still a dangerous team. But it won’t be enough against the Cowboys. My guess: Cowboys win in a high-scoring affair.

TCU (9-1 / 6-1) at Oklahoma (9-1 / 6-1)
This could be the ultimate trap game for the Sooners. No, they’re not going to take a strong TCU team lightly, but this matchup is sandwiched between its road win at Baylor and season finale vs. in-state rival Okie State. TCU is still clinging to hopes of a CFP berth. A win in Norman would give them some cred with the committee. My guess: Not gonna happen. Oklahoma wins.

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college football week 6 recap: the georgia pyrites strike again!

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Now that everyone’s settled into their conference schedules, the separation between good teams and great teams is well underway. Sort of.

Most Impressive Win
Lots of choices for this category. Could be Texas over Oklahoma. Could be Washington State over USC. Could even be Utah over Cal. Nope. It’s Michigan over Northwestern. The Wildcats got everyone’s attention by holding Stanford to six points in their first game of the season. Since then, Stanford’s been a scoring machine, averaging more than 40 points in their next four games. Not only did Michigan hang 38 points on Northwestern, they also pitched their third consecutive shutout of the season.

The Fightin’ Harbaughs are putting everyone on notice: do not look past the Wolverines. Of course, it gets no easier for Michigan. They host instate rival Michigan State next Saturday in what will be their biggest test of the season (until the next one).

Georgia Bulldogs = Fool’s Gold
I have never, ever, ever, EVER been a believer in the Georgia Bulldogs. Invariably, some hack on ESPN lays it out there early in the season that “this is UGA’s year!” Yeah, easy to say after they beat up on an FCS school in Week 1. After last week’s loss to Alabama, I felt slightly vindicated. Watching Tennessee come back from a 28-3 deficit to win the game. From hereon, the Georgia Bulldogs shall be known as the Georgia Pyrites. Why? Because they’re FOOL’S GOLD!

The Contenders & the Pretenders
I’ll put together my own Top Ten, but let’s look at it this way first: who’s a contender? Who’s a pretender? Let’s get into it:

The Contenders
Clemson (5–0 / 2–0)—They already beat a quality (albeit banged up) Notre Dame. The rest of their schedule comes down to two tough games: at Miami and at home vs. Florida State. Don’t be surprised if the Tigers run the table.

TCU (6–0 / 3–0)—The best team in the nation, if you ask me. Trevone Boykin is a Heisman contender and leads a high-powered offense that has a tendency to hang 50 points on opponents. Try and keep up with them. They dare you.

Notre Dame (5–1)—Against all odds and against all injuries, I’m still leaving the door open for the Irish. I’ve been impressed with ND’s ability to shake off adversity and keep coming back. The Clemson loss was a bitter, bitter pill. Next weekend’s rivalry game against USC will tell us a lot about Notre Dame. I still see ND as having an outside shot to make a playoff.

Ohio State (6–0 / 2–0)—The Buckeyes found their groove again this week against lowly Maryland. Until someone knocks them off, OSU is the top team in the B1G. They’ve got Penn State at home this week. Some are hyping it as a big game. I see OSU rolling over the Nittany Lions. Ohio State’s entire season will boil down to the last two Saturdays of their season. Period.

Utah (5–0 / 1–0)—What’s a Ute? The only undefeated team in what I consider the most competitive of the Power 5 conferences. With every passing week, their opening season victory over Michigan looks more and more impressive. And it would appear Utah flat-out broke the Oregon Ducks! How are they doing it? Well, they’re not flashy. They’re just playing solid, consistent football.

Texas A&M (5–0 / 2–0)—With the exception of Arkansas, A&M is beating everyone handily. In my mind, they’re the best team in the SEC, but that could change this weekend when they host Alabama. Beat ‘Bama, you remain a Contender. Lose? Bu-bye, 12th Man.

The Pretenders
Florida State (5–0 / 3–0)—After Ohio State, Florida State has a pretty weak schedule. All that’s left for them is Clemson and a resurrected Florida. Everett Golson has fit in nicely with the Seminoles. We’ll see if that remains the case, or if he’ll start throwing the ball to DBs, like he did so often in South Bend (when he wasn’t cheating on his exams). But I don’t see FSU getting past Clemson.

Michigan State (6–0 / 2–0)—Sparty could very well prove me wrong. But six weeks into the season and MSU hasn’t really been all that impressive. They win ugly, which certainly counts. But their two conference wins were eeked out over lower-level B1G programs. Like I said, they could prove me wrong. This week at The Big House will be their first big game since beating Oregon in Week 2.

LSU (5–0 / 3–0)—Well, they’re playing like the big boys of the SEC. Right now. They haven’t really beaten any team of great consequence. Sure, everyone’s showering RB Leonard Fournette with well-deserved accolade, but let’s hold off on crowning LSU until we see how they fare against unbeaten Florida this weekend.

Dark Horses
Stanford (4–1 / 3–0)—One constant remains in college football: if you lose early, you can recover. Stanford laid an egg in Week 1, but have been rolling ever since. Their Thursday night game against UCLA this week will be a turning point for both teams.

Iowa (6–0 / 2–0)—Yes, the Hawkeyes are undefeated, but it’s way too early to book your trip to Indy for the B1G championship. They go on the road to Northwestern this week in their biggest test since beating Wiscy a few weeks ago. Iowa plays in the weak division of the conference, so, perhaps you can book a trip to Indy, but let’s hold off on CFB talk.

Florida (6–0 / 3–0)—Don’t look now, but the Gators are quietly climbing the board. After beating Ole Miss and Mizzou, Florida has a couple tough games ahead: LSU and Georgia (I think they’re good, not great). If the Gators are undefeated after the next four games, they could become a contender.

My Top Ten
1. TCU
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Utah
5. Baylor
6. Michigan State
7. Texas A&M
8. LSU
9. Florida State
10. Florida

The Big Three
These are the three games this weekend with major postseason implications. You should watch each of these games.

Alabama (5–1 / 2–1) at Texas A&M (5–0 / 2–0)—LSU has to play both of these teams. Whomever wins this game is going to challenge LSU for the division title.

USC (3–2 / 1–2) at Notre Dame (5–1)—The Irish should be a heavy favorite in this one, but it’s a rivalry game. We already know USC’s season is effectively over. For ND, a win means they are still in the hunt. The Irish have no room for error.

Michigan State (6–0 / 2–0) at Michigan (5–1 / 2–0)

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, calmly discussing a matter with an official.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, calmly discussing a matter with an official.

The importance of this game has grown with every week Michigan wins. This will be a bloodbath. Sparty needs a signature win to prove they belong in the CFB conversation. This will be Michigan’s biggest test of the season…until the final weekend.

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college football championship: the mother of all breakdowns.

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And then there were two. Ohio State vs. Oregon for all the marbles on Monday, Jan. 12 in Dallas. Here’s how I’d break down the general match-ups:

Rushing
Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott is a LOAD, averaging 6.5 YPG this season. He’s one of the biggest reasons Ohio State beat Alabama, posting his best rushing game of the season. Oregon’s Royce Freeman is no slouch, averaging 5.6 YPG. But Oregon’s offense is not devoted to the run.
ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE

Receiving
Ohio State’s Devin Smith is a legitimate deep-ball threat. He doesn’t catch many passes per game, but when he does, it’s usually for big chunks of real estate. But he’s not their bread-and-butter receiver like Michael Thomas, who helps the Buckeyes move the chains.

Oregon’s receiving corps is anchored around Byron Marshall and Devon Allen. They average 13.3 and 16.7 YPG, respectively. Problem for Oregon is Allen went down with a knee in the Rose Bowl Game and is expected to miss the National Championship Game. Normally, that might be a problem, but not for the Ducks. They’ve got plenty of options on offense and a quarterback who knows how to spread the ball around. Allen’s absence will be missed, but it won’t be a liability.
ADVANTAGE: OREGON

Offensive Line
Clearly, Ohio State’s front five is doing something right if Elliott is posting such gaudy rushing stats. They clearly controlled the line of scrimmage against Alabama. Given that Ohio State’s gameplan relies heavily on the run, the Buckeyes offensive line has to play superior football. They’ve been improving with every game.

Oregon’s O-line has been battered and bruised all season long, but they’ve found their groove at the right time, helping Oregon put up 639 total yards against Florida State, including more than 301 yards on the ground as well as yielding zero sacks. The Ducks offensive line does what it needs to do in this high-powered offense. But it’s been proven they can win even if the line has a bad game. I’m not so sure Ohio State has that same luxury.
ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE

Quarterback
It’s impressive to see Urban Meyer achieve such success with his M*A*S*H unit of quarterbacks. Cardale Jones has definitely risen to the occasion and his improvements are happening in-game, rather than week-to-week. His performance in the B1G championship game and the Sugar Bowl are truly career-defining moments. Jones has been great. But he is nowhere near the level of Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. Not even close. Oregon’s offense is built around and lives and dies with Mariota. He can pass. He can run. He keeps this uptempo machine of an offense humming like an IndyCar.
ADVANTAGE: OREGON

Offense
Both teams have high-powered scoring attacks. Ohio State relies more on the ground game while Oregon brings a balance of rushing and passing. While the Buckeyes offense has improved vastly from where it was early in the season, Oregon’s offensive assault is a thing of beauty; a work of art. Their speed, precision and balance have proven to be too much for all their opponents.
ADVANTAGE: OREGON

Defense
On paper, the Ducks and Buckeyes are pretty evenly matched. Oregon gives up 22.3 points per game while Ohio State gives up 22.1 with the Buckeyes yielding less rushing yards (139.8 ypg) than the Ducks (154.2 ypg). Total defense? Not even close. Ohio State is ranked No. 14 nationally while Oregon is No. 81, just ahead of Purdue. But total yards don’t paint the whole picture. In terms of red zone defense, it’s a virtual tie. Where Ohio State has the edge is in tackles for loss and turnovers gained. The Buckeyes are simply more active on defense.
ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE

Special Teams
Ohio State is a bit more aggressive on kickoffs and punts than Oregon. Bear in mind, Oregon puts all its eggs in its offensive basket, so they rely less on special teams than most programs. I wouldn’t say the Buckeyes are much better, though. Oregon’s kicking game is more reliable.
ADVANTAGE: TIE (who cares?)

Coaching
Oregon’s Mike Helfrich is in his second year as head coach and has already posted a 24-3 total record. Impressive. He is a Chip Kelly disciple who, more importantly, was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator before becoming the head man. In many ways he is the architect of this creative, high-flying offensive machine.

Urban Meyer seems to get more invincible with every game. Before coming to Ohio State, Meyer won two national championships at Florida. He’s won 84 percent of the games he’s coached, including a 37-3 record at Ohio State. Widely regarded as one of the smartest coaches in college football, there’s no denying Meyers’ acumen. Opponents may beat Meyer’s teams by outplaying them, but I don’t think anyone in the game right now can out-coach him.
ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE

Overall
I’ve watched quite a bit of both of these teams play this year. Both boast powerful offenses, creative game plans and intelligent players and coaches. But at the end of the day, Oregon’s offense has proven to be too much for everyone they’ve played this year. Ohio State will be able to hang with them, but not for four quarters. Oregon’s ability to score fast will press Ohio State’s Jones to try and match Mariota, which he won’t be able to do. Oregon controls the tempo of the game and will win by at least 10 points when all is said and done.
ADVANTAGE: OREGON

If Ohio State Wants to Win…
They have one of three choices to beat Oregon:

1) Control the tempo.
Slow it down and grind out possessions. If the Buckeyes try and make it a slugfest, they’ll go down like Tommy Hearns stepping into a Marvelous Marvin Hagler uppercut.

2) Outgun them.
If Braxton Miller or JT Barrett were playing, I’d say Ohio State truly has a fighting chance. But they don’t. And even then, Oregon’s offense is too fast and too potent. Cardale Jones has been impressive, but he won’t be able to keep up with Mariota.

3) Out-physical them.
Ohio State’s defense might be the best one Oregon faces all year. If they can get to Mariota and rough him up, it might slow down his out-of-pocket creativity. Ohio State has to push around Oregon’s much-maligned O-line and hammer away at Mariotta, his receivers and his running backs. The problem will be sustaining that intensity for four quarters. But if they can do that, they have a puncher’s chance of winning.

My advice to Ohio State, focus on Nos. 1 and 3. Forget about keeping up in this arms race. Hold Oregon to under 40 points and you have a chance to win.

But it won’t happen.

If I Were A Betting Man
The early line, Oregon -7. The over/under is anywhere from 70.5 – 74.0. Ohio State will be able to put points on the board and hang with the Ducks for at least the first half, but I see Oregon pulling away in the third quarter. Their uptempo offense is too much to handle. Ohio State’s defense is better than Florida State’s, but that means they might hold Oregon to about 50.
MY WAGER: TAKE OREGON AND THE OVER

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happy new year…and all that bullshit.

16-reasons-new-year-s-eve-is-overrated-and-we-d-rather-stay-555442_w1000
Happy new year, readers. All two of you. I took a little bit of a sabbatical from my regular writing. I’m going to pick it back up in 2k15. Not sure if I’ll resume my college sports beat or not. Maybe. We’ll see.

What else may we (mais oui?) expect from this blog in 2k15? More frequent updates. I will be blogging the upcoming season of Survivor and, perhaps, a few other pop culture nuggets. Some friends have told me they enjoyed my past Survivor blogs, so I shall not deprive them any longer. I used to blog American Idol, but I find the show so, utterly insufferable and formulaic anymore that I just can’t do it. Yeah, yeah. I know. Survivor’s formula ain’t exactly breaking new ground anymore, but so what? I enjoy the drama.

So, Survivor and possibly college hoops. I’ll most certainly pick up the college football blogging next fall. I quit earlier this year once I realized the rest of the sports world basically caught up to my perspective on things. I feel slightly vindicated that Oregon is still in it. The Ducks are my pick to win the National Championship this year. As a Michigan fan, I’m hopeful for the future of the Wolverines, but next season is going to be up and down. Okay, enough talk about college football.

In the meantime, I’m just hoping I stay awake long enough to see the fireworks out here in Vegas at midnight…unless the wind and snow put a damper on the events. No, I will not be going to The Strip this New Year’s Eve. It would be one thing if I were staying the night down there. I’m not. Driving to and from is going to be a zoo. I’ll just stay home and watch Kathy Griffin make Anderson Cooper uncomfortable.

Anyway, here’s to a new year, a new you, a new beginning…and all that other bullshit.

Cheers.
-mgt.

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