Monday, August 29, 2005

Heisman Contenders

This is in no particular order.

Matt Leinart, QB, Southern Cal- For the second year in a row the Heisman winner will be returning to his team (QB Jason White of Oklahoma last season) and it's rather difficult to imagine Leinart, at the very least, not making it to New York. Leinart has a plethora of weapons at his disposal including another top contender, tailback hybrid Reggie Bush, and slew of other talented skill position players including tailback LenDale White and wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith. The only obstacle standing between Leinart joining Ohio State's Archie Griffin as the only two time Heisman winner is his own teammate, the aforementioned Reggie Bush.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma- Peterson had an absolutely sensational frehsman season rushing for 1800+ yards and scoring 15 touchdowns as he made it to the Heisman presentation in New York and led Oklahoma made a second consecutive appearance in the BCS national championship game. With QB Jason White and WR Mark Clayton both departed, Peterson should carry the brunt of Oklahoma's offensive production in 2005. Peterson has scary potential as Sooners head coach actually eased him into college ball in 2004. It's not unrealistic to think that he could top 2,000 yards and produce 20+ touchdowns.

Vince Young, QB, Texas- Ever since his game-changing performance against Michigan in the Rose Bowl last season, Young has been hyped as the next Michael Vick. It has also helped that his Longhorns are billed as a national title contender heading in 2005. With Cedric Benson gone, Young will need to use his arm and legs to make plays and move the Texas offense. Young is an elusive runner and should put up good stats but to truly be a Heisman contender, he must improve his passing. Young has a 12-11 touchdowns to interceptions ratio last season, not exactly Heisman-caliber. Provided that his passing stats improve, Young may be right up there with Bush and Leinart as the top Heisman canidates.

Reggie Bush, "RB", Southern Cal- Reggie Bush may very well be the most talented player in the country. Bush can simply do it all, hence my loose use of the title running back. Bush is capable of running the ball, catching the ball and returning kicks. He has a chance to make gamebreaking plays whenever the ball is in his hands and he puts up big numbers. Just as with his teammate Leinart, it is hard to imagine Bush not being one of the final five in New York on Heisman night.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Memphis- Williams is one of the best pure tailbacks in the nation this season. After rushing for nearly 1500 yards as a sophomore in 2003, Williams rebounded with a nearly 2000 yard season and doubled his touchdown production from 10 in 2003 to 22 in 2004. Williams is likely destined to be one of the top players in the 2006 NFL Draft and the only thing that may hold him back as a Heisman candidate is playing in Conference USA on an average Memphis team.

Chris Leak, QB, Florida
Omar Jacobs, QB, Bowling Green
Reggie McNeal, QB, Texas A&M
Derek Hagan, WR, Arizona State
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Ohio State

My Sleeper- Sam Keller, QB, Arizona State

Saturday, August 27, 2005

One Week Away

It's always amazing how the college football season always seems to sneak up on me. It will seem like that it is months and months away and then suddenly I sit here writing this seven days (or I suppose less since Central Florida and South Carolina meet on Thursday night) from the true start. I am a huge sports fans in general. I root for the Yankees in baseball, the Packers in football, the Rangers in hockey, the Knicks in basketball (though I don't enjoy today's NBA) and Penn State. Despite that, there is nothing quite like college football. I look forward to the start of every sporting season but college football is the only one I long for once it ends in January. As a Penn State fan, I have had little to celebrate over the past five seasons. Even 2002, the Lions' only winning season out of the past five, was bittersweet. All three regular season losses were the result of four plays. The one that will forever be etched in my mind is Tony Johnson's "non-catch" against Michigan. Johnson clearly caught the ball in bounds but was ruled out of bounds by the referee. The catch could have set up a game winning field goal attempt. The way the season ended didn't help matters as Auburn won a close game in the Citrus Bowl. The past two seasons have been pure hell as a diehard Penn State fan. To think that we would only see seven wins in one season was disgraceful. Suddenly, the team compiled seven wins in two seasons. Now with renewed hope of an offensive resurgence and a stud defense, there is reason to be optomistic in Happy Valley. Perhaps that is why the past months have crawled by for myself. I really want to believe that this is the year we turn things around but as 2003 and 2004 came and went with disappointment after disappointment I have to keep telling myself not to expect too much. It's so sad what Penn State has become. We once ran with the Michigan's, Tennessee's and Miami's of the world. Now we would be satisfied with a winning record and a bowl game. Hopefully the return of the good ol' days isn't far away. I'm not sure I can handle much more of this. I encourage fans of major programs to cherish what you have and never take anything for granted because you never know when all of that success may be taken away. I'm sure Alabama and Oklahoma fans would tell you the same thing.

Here are some predictions to ponder and what not as the final week before kick off wastes away. School starts back up for me this week and knowing that on Saturday I'll have college football back is my only solice.

National Champion- Southern Cal
Not a gutsy or sexy pick, it's just hard to imagine picking anyone but the Trojans until they give us a reason why. The key parts from last season's national championship team are back and it's just scary that three potential first round picks reside in USC's backfield and then a plethora of talent everywhere else.

Mid-Major "National Champion"- Boise State
We will have a quasi-Mid-Major national championship game when Bowling Green visits Boise State at the end of Septemeber. Whomever wins that game will likely finish as the highest ranked team in the polls. The only challengers to this will be a less talented Utah team than 2004's version and Fresno State, Boise State's only challenger for the WAC title.

Sleeper Pick- Georgia Tech
A lot of people seem to be overlooking the Yellow Jackets because they play in the same division of the ACC as Miami and Virginia Tech. The Jackets have two tough OOC games against Auburn and Georgia but they return almost the entire defense and have two playmakers on offense in standout sophomore wideout Calvin Johnson and tailback P.J. Daniels. They draw Georgia at home in what is a down year for the Bulldogs. This team needs to make a statement and beat either Miami or Virginia Tech but it wouldn't surprise me to see them win 8 or 9 games and play in the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville.

Worst Team- Florida Atlantic
The Owls had a strong first season as a 1-A school last season- beating Hawaii and North Texas, but they lose their best player in QB Jared Allen. Ex-Miami and Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger will need a couple of years to build this team despite playing in the pitiful Sun Belt.

Deepest Conference- Big Ten
You can make an argument for the SEC here but the Big Ten is extremely deep this season. Michigan and Ohio State, as usual, are favorites to win the conference but Iowa and Purdue are both Top 10-caliber teams. Penn State will be much improved and Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin will all be in the hunt for bowl bids. Expect two teams to make it into the BCS from the Big Ten and for Penn State to be in the hunt for a New Year's Day bowl bid.

Rose Bowl Prediction- USC over LSU

Heisman Trophy Prediction- Matt Leinart, QB, Southern Cal

BlogPoll Roundtable #6

1. What criteria do you use to determine if a team and its players are good?
2. If you could choose one coach to build an offensive system for your school, who would it be? Conversly, who would you choose to devise the defense? Why?
3. Describe your typical college fotoball Saturday.

1. Gameday coaching, ability to win the big game, talent-level and quality of the competition. Every good team has quality, or at least adequate, gameday coaching. I don't need to look any farther than my own team, Penn State to reference why it is so crucial. The playcalling on offense was atrocius last season with Galen Hall and Jay Paterno trying to duke it out on every play and Zack Mills was often coming to the line of scrimmage with a few seconds left and ending up with a delay of game penalty. Not to mention that JoePa didn't let them open up the playbook and the same series of plays were pretty much run over and over again throughout every game. The best teams win the big game. Except for Michigan. You can pencil them in for 9 wins and 3 losses every season. The best teams, regardless of their conferene, can contend with and beat the best teams in the country regardless of their conference affiliation. Look at a team like Utah from last season. They beat Texas A&M and North Carolina out of conference and then demolished Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl. The Utes looked capable of playing with the best in the country despite being a Mountain West school. Louisville has been a more consistent example, having played and beaten some of the country's better squads over the past couple of seasons. Obviously a 10 win team from the Big Ten or SEC is going to be considered a better team than a 10 win team from the MAC or WAC. Obviously quality of competition factors in there.

I judge players based on their numbers, the quality of competition they face and how the coaching staff utilizes a player. Obviously numbers factor into the equation whenever evaluating players. The quality of the competition plays a big factor as well. A 1500 yard rusher in the Big Ten will be considered a better player than 1500 or even 2000 yard back in the MAC because of the disparity in the talent level from one conference to another. How a coach utilizes a player is an often overlooked factor. Look at a player like Scott Frost. He was a QB at Nebraska and ran the option smoothly but he ended up as a safety in the NFL. Current Penn State QB Michael Robinson is a terrific athlete and dispite playing QB, he projects as a WR or safety in the NFL. A player's best position may not be the one he plays, he may just be filling a need.

2. Bobby and Paul Petrino at Louisville on offense and Pete Carroll at Southern Cal on defense. The Petrinos have had consistently good offenses at Louisville and they seem to be able to score points on anyone (see: 2004 vs Miami). Stefan LeFors was a serviceable QB who got the job done. Now it will be interesting to really see how well this offense can perform with a stud QB in Brian Brohm. Mike Leach's Spread Offense at Texas Tech is nice for beating the bottom tier teams in the Big 12, but the Red Raiders haven't beaten the same caliber teams that Louisville and Utah (among others) have. I'm curious to see how well Urban Meyer is able to implement the Spread Option at Florida and then execute it in the SEC. Pete Carroll's USC defenses have proved capable of shutting down the pass-happy Pac-10 teams and then doing it to the rest of the nation (see: 2004 vs Michigan and 2005 vs Oklahoma). Having a tremendous offense allows them to play looser, but regardless of the production of the offense, Carroll has churned out excellent defensive units in college and in the NFL.

3. I watch ESPN GameDay, flip between some noon games (unless I'm watching Penn State) and listen to the PSU game, flip between 3:30 games and then watch the best night game. The only time this should be disrupted is when I drive down to State College (I live in Connecticut) for hte 10/8 game against Ohio State.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Ready to Send Joe to the Grave? Think Again (Part 2- Defense and Special Teams)

Last year's "team motto" was "One Hungry Pride". Well, to say the least, it was accurate. The Penn State defense was hungry, while the offense starved. The stellar performance of the defense was what kept Penn State in several games last season and gives us all hope for this season. It is simply amazing how good the defense was last season. They spent more time on the field than any of the other top defensive units in the country. Penn State was the only team in the country to give up 21 points or less in every game last season. I would like to meet the man who coined the phrase "Defense wins championships". Apparantly you need some semblance of an offense since a terrific defense couldn't even get Penn State a winning season.

The Lions return just about everyone on defense. The only notable losses are FS Andrew Guman and reserve DT Ed Johnson. However, his replacement, Chris Harrell, may be even more talented after playing regularly 2001-2003 before a neck injury forced him to redshirt last season. Johnson was kicked out of school but there is a possiblity that he may return in 2006, when his presence would really be missed. Penn State rotates three defensive ends into the game- Tamba Hali, Matthew Rice and Lavon Chisley. Jay Alford, who will be the only returning starter on the DL next season, and Scott Paxson will be back as the starters at DT.

Penn State's depth at linebacker is absolutely incredible. Freshman All-American Dan Connor, junior Paul Posluszny will start on the outside and Tim Shaw will be at MLB once again. Connor and Poz are both potential All-American candidates and anchor one of the nation's best, and most underrated, linebacking corps in the nation. Tyrell Sales, Dontey Brown and freshman Jerome Hayes along with a handful of others give Penn State a plethora of options to mix in with the three regulars. Sales, a converted DE, is expected to challenge Tim Shaw for his starting spot. I look for this group to anchor the defense and the resurgence of Penn State as "Linebacker U."

Penn State's defensive secondary is much like the linebackers in that they were a productive and underrated group last season. Penn State was one of the top teams in the country at defending the pass last season. Alan Zemaitis is Penn State's best cornerback in years. Unfortunately he still gets little respect from the media but the way offensive coordinators and quarterbacks avoid throwing his way speak for itself. He is a projected first round pick. Penn State's other starting corner is Anwar Phillips. A lot of PSU fans knocked on him prior to last season but Phillips stepped up and had a terrific junior season, replacing NFL draft pick Rich Gardner. A lot of scouts seem to be high on Phillips, some think he has a better NFL upside than Zemaitis. Calvin Lowery returns at Hero. He's a decent player but is probably the weakest of the starters in the defensive backfield. He gets beaten on a few too many plays and hopefully will not be returning punts with some of the speedy freshmen expected not to redshirt. Chris "Hitman" Harrell hits hard and will force wide receivers and running backs to fear going across the middle. I see him as an improvement over Andrew Guman. Justin King will be the nickelback in addition to seeing time as the slot receiver.

Penn State's special teams should be in for an improvement this season. With all of the speed added with the latest class, expect to hear the names Derrick Williams, Justin King, Knowledge Timmons and Lydell Sargeant on punt and kick returns. Kicker Robbie Gould struggled miserably last season after starting off his career well. His misses cost the Lions several games last season. Gould is being replaced by true freshman Kevin Kelly. Kelly is supposed to have a very good leg and accuracy and earned the rare honor for a kicker at Penn State of coming in on scholarship. He will battle freshman walk-on Matt Walderon and also Patrick Humes. Jeremy Kapinos is one of the country's most underrated punters. He bailed Penn State's anemic offense out of several difficult situations last season.

I expect Penn State to finish either 8-3 or 9-2. The first three against South Florida, Cincinnati and Central Michigan are easy victories. The game at Northwestern and the next week against Minnesota will decide how the season goes. Two wins and Penn State should be a lock for a New Year's Day (January 2nd this year). One loss still leaves the possibility for a "good season" and two losses could make reaching a bowl a difficult task. If the Lions are 5-0 going into the night game, national TV game against Ohio State (I will be in attendance), the team will be absolutely jacked and a victory could do big things for recruiting and the season. Michigan is the only game I feel PSU has little chance of winning. The Ilinois game is an easy victory. Purdue is the last real challenge on the schedule and then the Lions finish with a home game against Wisconsin and then after a week off, they travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State. For now, I'll say losses to Michigan and Purdue and a win against the Buckeyes. And it will feel darn good to see the Lions take the field in Florida again on January 2nd.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ready to Send Joe to the Grave? Think Again (Part 1- Offense)

As a Penn State fan, the past five years have been frustrating and disappointing. From 1966-1999, Penn State was one of the nation's premier programs, none of us ever believed that in the span of five years, the world would come crashing down on the Nittany Lion football program. Legendary head coach Joe Paterno has obviously shouldered the blame. However, things are beginning to change in Happy Valley. Two solid recruiting classes have helped to re-stock Penn State's roster with Big Ten talent, Joe has admitted that he slacked off in recruiting efforts and the Lions' two freshmen playmakers- Derrick Williams and Justin King- have been allowed to talk to the media. A priviledge absolutely unheard of under Paterno. Now all that needs to change is the team's on the field performance.

The Penn State offense was simply abysmal last season. After a tremendous showing against Akron in the season opener, Joe dumbed down the offense and made it almost impossible for the offense to score. The receiving corps was made up of mostly seniors who had been riding the bench for 3-4 years with little to no game experience. The only receivers who were playing well were either in Joe's doghouse (Terrell Golden) or didn't get a chance to start until it was too late (Mark Rubin). The offensive line didn't live up to its potential and opposing defenses put eight (sometimes more) men in the box to counter the running game. Tony Hunt really isn't a bad tailback, he just played in an offense that couldn't open up holes for him. If the line improves even marginally and the new found speed at wideout opens up the offense, I think Hunt can easily top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He managed about 800 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. Highly touted freshman Derrick Williams, Terrell Golden and Mark Rubin are expected to see the most playing time at wide receiver. Another highly touted freshman, cornerback Justin King, is expected to play as the slot receiver occasionally. Tony Hunt will start at tailback but the Lions have a plethora of other options including a trim Austin Scott, speedy Rodney Kinlaw, Matt Hahn and freshman Lydell Sargeant. I expect terrific production from the stable of tailbacks and an improved wideout corps. Williams is a very polished freshman and both Rubin and Golden have some experience.

A lot of people have doubts about Michael Robinson at quarterback. Robinson very athetlic, having seen playing time at QB, RB and WR during his first three seasons. At times during the 2003 season, he showed signs of brilliance but would then fall back to earth the following week. Last season he struggled in all of his starts. However, there is one big difference between the past three seasons an 2005- Robinson is finally spending all of his time focued on being a quarterback. In the past, he would have perhaps a week, at best, to prepare to step in against some of the best defenses in the nation. Now with a spring and summer soon to be under his belt, Robinson is very confident that he can prove his skeptics wrong and go out on a good note. Robinson will also have an advantage that Zack Mills didn't have in his senior season- a group of wideouts with speed and some experience. I fully expect Robinson to step up and play well enough for the offense to improve. The piece of the Penn State offense's puzzle will be improvement along the offensive line. It is made up of mostly seniors (assuming Lance Antolick starts at center) who will be looking to get a shot in the NFL after thus far failing to live up to their hype coming out of high school. The line got pushed around a lot last season and didn't open enough holes for the running backs and Tyler Reed seemed to be on the ground an awful lot last season. Improvement among the offensive line is a must for Penn State's offense to succeed. The speed at wideout should help by making defenses respect the passing game but the line will have to improve within itself. The good news? 2006's offensive line should be better with only tackle Levi Brown returning and some tremendous athletes such as Gerald Cadogen filling the vacated positions.

Check back tomorrow for my preview of the defense and special teams.

Monday, August 08, 2005

BlogPoll Round Table #5- Rankings

Why They Should Be Ranked:

Penn State- The Nittany Lions return 10 of 11 starters on a defense that was the only unit in the country to allow 21 points or less in every game last season. Unfortunately, the offense was about as inept as it gets. However, the Lions pulled in a strong recruiting class and addressed one of the program’s biggest needs over the past decade- speed. The biggest additions are the #1 rated player in the nation, WR Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Maryland) and the #1 rated cornerback in the nation Justin King (Monroeville, Pennsylvania), who will also see time as the slot receiver. The offense should be much improved if only one thing happens- improvement along the offensive line. The offensive line is made up of four seniors and a junior and all but one of them is a returning starter (center Lance Antolick). Guard Tyler Reed is renowned a terrific athlete on the offensive line but just as the rest of the line was in 2004, they were overpowered by the defense putting eight in the box. With the addition of some speedy wide-outs and the athletic Michael Robinson at QB, the offensive line should help to open up the run game and improve a paltry passing game. Penn State should win at least eight games so look smart now and add the Nittany Lions at the bottom of the Top 25.

Why They Shouldn’t be Ranked:

Florida State- The Seminoles appear to be in dire straights after losing QB Wyatt Sexton and CB Antonio Cromartie for the season. The Seminoles also lost standout DT Travis Johnson to the NFL. The offense will now be breaking in new starters at QB, WR, both LT and RT as well as LG. The defense should still be strong with Ernie Sims, Buster Davis and A.J. Nicholson all returning at linebacker. However, with all of the new starters on offense and the terrific defenses of N.C. State and Boston College I just see Florida State as being a notch below those two teams. I think Florida State is capable of winning seven games, perhaps eight, and in the weaker of the two ACC divisions, that may be enough to win it. However, I wouldn’t bet on them and don’t see them as one of the nation’s Top 25 teams as of right now.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

2005 Town and Gown Penn State Predictions: Way off Base

I picked up a copy of the 2005 Town and Gown Penn State Football Annual yesterday on my way back from a family reunion in Pennsylvania. I flipped through the predictions and found some of them absolutely incredulous. The minds that know Penn State football best are supposed to write for this annual magazine. A casual observer could have made predictions closer to the truth.

9/3 vs South Florida- W 34-6
This seems like a fair prediction. I would guess that Penn State will have a first half similar to the one against Akron last season before Joe calls of the dogs in the third quarter. My prediction- W 45-10.

9/10 vs Cincinnati- W 38-0
Again, another fair prediction. I don't see a shutout coming in any of the first three games since the first teamers are unlikely to play much after half time. My prediction- W 42-7.

9/17 vs Central Michigan- W 31-7
Penn State will score more than 31 poins against the Chippewas, heck Penn State might score double that. My prediction- W 52-10.

9/24 at Northwestern- W 21-13
The Wildcats have given Penn State trouble the past two seasons but I don't see the game being this close. Northwestern is headed for a down season after two good seasons (by Northwestern standards) the past two years. The PSU offense might not be stellar but Northwestern isn't brimming with talent on the defensive side of the ball outside of Loren Howard. My prediction- W 28-14

10/1 vs Minnesota- W 24-23
This game will really determine what type of season Penn State will have. A win could mean a shot at winning the Big Ten , a loss could be another season without a bowl game. I think Laurence Maroney is a good back but Minnesota won't have the luxury of another talented back, with the departure of Marian Barber III, to grind away at a solid front seven of Penn State. My prediction- W 24-14

10/8 vs Ohio State- L 35-13
This was the first outrageous prediction. The Buckeyes scored ONE TOUCHDOWN against the Penn State defense in Columbus last season. Ohio State's other two scores came on an interception return and a kick return. This year's defense is just as good or better, I honestly can't imagine any team this season, even the mighty Men of Troy, scoring 35 points on this defense, especially in Happy Valley. Penn State will likely struggle to score but the defense and ecstatic home crowd (I'll be in the house, something I found out this morning) should push Penn State over the top. My prediction- W 13-10

10/15 at Michigan- L 37-24
Here my predictions of wins comes to an end. However, I don't see the Wolverines racking up 37 points. If Penn State scores 24 points in any game this season, you can chalk it up as a Penn State victory. It won't matter if it's against South Floirda, Michigan or USC. My prediction- L 21-10

10/22 at Illinois- W 42-17
Not ridiculously outrageous but I think they're giving both team's offenses too much credit. Penn State will win this one handily but they will not break 40. My prediction- W 31-10

10/29 vs Purdue- L 42-21
I too see Penn State losing this one (Purdue is my pick to win the Big Ten) but they will not give up 42 points. If Purdue's offense couldn't score 42 last season, they certainly won't do it this year. My prediction- L 21-13

11/5 vs Wisconsin- W 27-17
Wisconsin didn't score much against Penn State last season in Madison and a win here would make the Nittany Lions a shoe-in for a New Year's Day bowl game. Barry Alvarez and future Badger head coach Bret Bielema always have a solid defense. My prediction- W 17-13

11/19 at Michigan State- W 31-10
I see the Spartans as a tad bit overrated head into 2005 but they always give Penn State trouble in East Lansing. Too much credit to both the Penn State offense and defense here. My prediction- W 21-14

9-2 season for Penn State. Now I can easily see 8-3 with a loss to either Ohio State or Michigan State but the bottom line is that Penn State should be headed to Florida for a bowl this season.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Wild, Not So Wild WAC

And then there were two. The WAC has never been a particularly strong conference but with the departure of rising power UTEP, Tulsa, Rice and SMU, the WAC is suddenly hurting to fill in holes in the conference. Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State were all added to fill three of the spots vacated. To say the least, the WAC has done a very poor patch job, bringing in three downtrodden football programs. Of the three, only New Mexico State appears to be ready to ascend after hiring ex-Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme. Of the remaining members (Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and San Jose State), there in lie the two powers- Boise State and Fresno State. They are the only two bright spots in a poor conference, ranking only above the pitiful Sun Belt, from where the WAC pillaged there three replacements.

Boise State and Fresno State are both Top 25 team heading into the season and perhaps the only WAC schools capable of qualifying for a bowl game. It's quite possible that both Boise State and Fresno State may finish with 9+ wins. It may also be possible that the rest of the league finishes below .500. The only other team with even a remote chance of making a bowl outside of Boise State and Fresno State is Hawaii. However, after losing the NCAA's all time leading passer in Timmy Chang and WR Chad Owens, espect the Warriors to take a step back.

Fresno State is absolutely stacked at tailback. Wendell Mathis, Bryson Sumlin and Dwayne Wright are all expect to see touches out of the backfield. Paul Pinegar returns at QB and with another solid season should continue the Fresno State trend of sending their signal callers onto the NFL (Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek and David Carr). I expect a solid season from Fresno State, perhaps undefeated, but as usual, Pat Hill and the Bulldogs face a difficult OOC schedule with road trips to USC and Oregon. 9-2 seems attainable as they draw Boise State at home and have a decent shot at beating the Ducks. USC is the only sure loss on the schedule.

Much like the Bulldogs, the Broncos face a very tough OOC schedule. Boise State starts the season with trips to Georgia and Oregon State before Bowling Green comes to Boise. I can't imagine the Broncos winning in Athens but the other two seem like possible wins. I think overall that Boise State is a superior team to Fresno State and with that additional difficult OOC game against Bowling Green, the Broncos will be the more battle tested team heading into the Boise State-Fresno State game that will most liklely decide the WAC champion. QB Jared Zabransky fits well into Dan Hawkins system and Jon Helmandollar is one of the nation's best fullbacks. I look for the Broncos to finish with anywhere from 8 to 10 regular season wins. I rank Boise State ahead of Fresno State in my Top 25 but the Broncos' record may not show it at the end of the season.

The rest of the WAC isn't even worth mentioning. Lousiana Tech may have had a shot at a bowl game if not for star tailback Ryan Moats leaving early for the NFL Draft. As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii is the only other team in the conference with a shot at a bowl game.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Time to Cut the Number of Bowl Games

Lets face it, when a team like Troy gets into a bowl game without winning the Sun Belt Conference, something is wrong. Obviously the self-imposed bowl bans by Clemson and South Carolina following an in-game field during the school's annual rivalry game aided in opening opportunities to mid-major teams. However, four of the six BCS conferences failed to fill all of their bowl tie-ins. Here is my list of bowl games and match ups that should be kept or created and a list bowls that should be kept. In this re-designed formart, every conference would still receive a bowl bid.

Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ)
Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)

The Keepers:
Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
BlueBonnet Bowl (Houston, TX)- Renamed Houston Bowl
Citrus Bowl (Orlando, FL)- Renamed Capital One Bowl
Carolina Bowl (Charlotte, NC)- Renamed Meinke Car Care Bowl
Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX)
Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)
Independence Bowl (New Orleans, LA)- Moved to New Orleans
Desert Bowl (Tempe, AZ)- Renamed Insight Bowl
Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV)
Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Motor City Bowl (Detroit, MI)
Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN)
Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL)
Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)

Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, FL)
Emerald Bowl (San Francisco, CA)
Fort Worth Bowl (Fort Worth, TX)
GMAC Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu, HI)
MPC Computers Bowl (Boise, ID)
New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego, CA)

Other than the BCS bowls, that would still be decided by the BCS rankings, the rest of bowl match ups would be left up to the eligible schools and bowl committees to decide. With eight less bowls, 16 less teams, teams would now have to win seven games to be bowl eligible. The only stipulations for piecing together bowl match ups would be that each conference's champion receives a bid, the team has seven or more wins and a team must have at least eight wins to participate in a New Year's Day bowl game. This would be somewhat similar to the old system.

Five Things That Won't Happen in 2005

1. Georgia will not win the SEC East

2. Oklahoma will not beat Texas

3. Gary Pinkel will not be fired

4. Iowa will not win the Big Ten

5. The BCS will not work out perfectly

Monday, August 01, 2005

Five Things That Will Happen in 2005

1. Purdue will finish in the Top 10

2. Penn State will win eight or more games

3. Alabama, Nebraska and Penn State will all go to bowl games for the first time since 1999

4. Boise State will lose to Georgia- and not lose a game the rest of the season

5. Florida State will win no more than seven regular season games