Tag Archives: college football

Tough Day To Be In The ACC

This is Florida State's and the ACC's day in a nutshell.

The good news for the ACC from yesterday is that Virginia hung in with USC and almost upset them in Los Angeles and the conference the most exciting game from yesterday with a 54-48 shootout between Duke and Wake Forest… yeah that’s right Duke and Wake Forest combined for 102 points and 1000 yards of offense.

The bad news… well… just about everything else. Two high profile nationally televised games, a team coming off of a highly publicized game faced an FCS opponent, and a road test against an inferior BCS conference opponent all went wrong for the so called power conference and went wrong in horrifying ways.

Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, the big 4 in their conference got shelled in each of their games. Miami got careless with the ball versus a hungry Ohio State team, Florida State got run off the field against Oklahoma, Georgia Tech had its secondary exposed by Kansas and Virginia Tech lost a home game against James Madison—of the FCS—a team that went 6-5 in the FCS last year—THE FCS!!!

This season is so not going how we planned it.

The ACC has been talked about in recent years as being the weakest of the power conferences and yesterday’s poor showings did absolutely nothing to curb those feelings. What’s interesting about these games is their poor showings in big matchups in recent years.

The ACC is 1-9 in BCS bowl games including Georgia Tech getting beat-up by Iowa in the Orange Bowl last year. Then look at their games against big game competition. Florida State hasn’t beaten Florida in 5 years; Tech has beaten 8 out of nine times by Georgia. The conferences season kick-off classic versus the SEC has been a joke with Alabama and LSU stomping out Clemson, Virginia Tech and UNC. Then Boise State had a virtual road game with the Hokies and jumped out to a 17-0 lead eventually beating Virginia Tech in the last minute 33-30.

Then there was yesterday. There was no excuse for Miami or Florida State to play as poor as they did on the national stage with all of that talent like they did.

Miami came into Columbus, Ohio talking about revenge over the 2003 National Championship game where a controversial pass interference call cost them their sixth national championship. They left with their so-called swagger slapped right out of them.

The Buckeyes caused four turnovers thanks to Jacory Harris’s poor play and if not for two special teams scores or the stalling of the OSU offense the score would’ve been a lot worse. Miami was pushed around on both sides of the ball and Terrelle Pryor strengthened his Heisman Candidacy with an all-around impressive performance. “Feeling good doesn’t always end up good,” Harris said after the game. No kidding. For all of the hype about the game it all came crashing to a halt when Cameron Heyward picked off a Harris pass on Miami’s opening drive in the third quarter and returned it the OSU red zone. So much for that swagger.

Hey this is better than throwing another interception.

At least Miami hung around. Florida State got a Boomer Sooner smack down. Traveling half-way across the country just to get destroyed defeats the purpose of scheduling such a game, unfortunately the Noles didn’t see it that way. Landry Jones and the Sooners offense got rolling and the Noles could only watch and not be willing participants. The Sooners rebounded from a poor performance against Utah State to easily handle Florida State and put themselves back in the national title talk. The Seminoles have nothing to do but more tweaking. “When you play good football teams and they get hot you have to match them, and you have to match them in all three phases,” said Jimbo Fisher, Florida State’s head coach. ” We matched them one time on offense and then we got pushed back on field position and didn’t execute.” His aforementioned statement is something the whole conference should take heed to.

For Georgia Tech it was a matter of taking a team for granted. After a humiliating 6-3 loss to North Dakota State the Kansas Jayhawks scored their biggest win since a Orange Bowl victory over (you guessed it, an ACC team) Virginia Tech.

“They came out mad,” said Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua Nesbitt. “You could tell that they came out mad from losing their last game and they came out hungry.” Unfortunately for Georgia Tech they couldn’t match the intensity and couldn’t overcome a late 11 point deficit. The relatively young Jackets defense struggled in some instances to stop Kansas even though they only allowed 320 yards of offense. They routinely missed tackles and it showed on Daymond Patterson’s game clinching 32 yard touchdown reception to put the Jayhawks up 28-17 in the fourth quarter. The defense gave Kansas QB Joe Webb too much time to throw the ball and make plays and he burned them.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball the Jackets normal running game was superb as they ran for 291 yards out of Paul Johnson’s triple option offense. However, when they needed to get back in the game throwing the ball Josh Nesbitt once again showed why he is a one-trick pony. Nesbitt was 5-15 for 115 yards and a touchdown, however he is not accurate at all and the offense if ever in a hole will suffer time and time again. Johnson has to figure out a way to get something out of the passing game going down the road or else the Jackets will see this same result over and over again.

Maybe we should start throwing the ball.

Lastly there’s Virginia Tech… yikes. Coming off of a huge showcase game versus Boise State, you go out onto your actual home field and get pushed around by James Madison? An FCS school?

You couldn’t score more than 16 points against a team that allowed 38 to Maryland last year? Three turnovers all in the red zone versus a 6-5 team… FROM THE FCS!!?? REALLY?!?! Dude I know Mississippi and Minnesota just lost to FCS opponents, but at least they dropped 49 and 38 points respectively.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” tailback Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back said. “I really don’t.” I’ll give you a hint… TURNOVERS AND MISCUES ARE KILLING YOU!

If it wasn’t the special teams miscues from Monday’s thriller it was the Darren Evans fumble on the Dukes 19 yard line that sealed their fate. The offensive line couldn’t create holes for Ryan Williams who finished with 91 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor looked nothing like the monster that he was versus the Broncos as he threw a costly interception and under threw Jarrett Boykin on a 4th down play that could’ve put the Hokies up early in the fourth quarter.

For a team that was seriously considered as a national title contender, this lost may put them in the back of the ACC title race.

Not that the ACC title would be anything to brag about. This Saturday put the ACC in the afterthought of the minds of college football when talking about the big names in the game. An ACC team will not play for the national championship, hell they won’t even be favored in the Orange Bowl against whoever they play. Right now the ACC is an inferior conference that needs to improve on its regular season results against bigger competition before we start talking about revivals in Tallahassee and Coral Gables, and national titles in Blacksburg and Atlanta.

For now let’s see if they can handle Pittsburgh, Rutgers, East Carolina and BYU in the next two weeks. If it’s anything like this past weekend’s results, it won’t be pretty.

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The Haters College Football Preview

So here’s an interesting scenario for college football this year, there actually is only one team to beat this year, Alabama. They’re back, reloaded and just as good as last year. Mark Ingram returns for a possible second Heisman, John Parker Wilson comes back at the helm at QB, plus the defense is anchored by Marcel Daerus who is gaining lots of attention for the NFL draft.

Mark Ingram is back to add to his collection

They do play in the SEC, you know the best conference in college football (yawn) and looking at the SEC they should go undefeated due to Florida having to replace key pieces on offense and defense and teams such as Georgia, LSU and Auburn who all have little kinks to work out before they become contenders again.

So there you have it, it’s a shoe-in, Bama repeats as national champions with ease—if any of you know me, you know damn well I’m not this stupid.

Honestly I could see Alabama winning it all because when you look at the preseason top ten there isn’t one team I actually could see myself picking to win it all, however this includes Bama.

Yeah yeah yeah, they play in the SEC, Ingram’s back blah blah blah… they lost Rolando McClain, Javier Arenas and Terrance Cody on defense, that’s key ingredients in three areas that were all important on that defense. You don’t just replace three all-SEC players and expect to just run through a conference no matter how down of a year it might have—

Yup you read that correctly, DOWN YEAR and SEC in the same sentence. I know that as far as talent on the field goes no one is better than them and it’s showed, they’ve won the last four national titles and have done it convincingly. However, when you look around the league you really can’t see any of the guys factoring into the title chase.

Florida is replacing #15 behind center (you know I never use Jesus’ name in vain) Aaron Hernandez, Riley Cooper and Maurkice Pouncey on offence and Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden on defense. Auburn is throwing another quarterback under center in Cam Newton. LSU with Jordan Jefferson has underachieved mightily since its title win three years ago and Les Miles is starting to feel the heat (luckily for him Rich Rodriguez will be fired in three months so can slide right into his alma mater without a hitch). Then there’s the Betty Ford clinic in Ole Miss with Jeremiah Masoli, the school for convicts in Tennessee and Georgia (no jokes, no shaking of the head just Georgia. When will this school put Mark Richt on the burner for a. never winning an SEC title, b. always coming up short in big games, c. not factoring into national title picture at all and d. ALWAYS ALWAYS UNDERACHIEVING?!?!) You’re probably saying hey Arkansas is a dark horse—they are but I still hope Bobby Petrino gets run over by a Greyhound bus and Arthur Blank drives by to laugh at him with Matt Ryan in the passenger seat, so I am a little biased towards them.

So here is where you probably think I’m going to persuade you into thinking that the Ohio State Buckeyes, my alma mater as of June 2010 thank you, will overtake an over confident Alabama team and win the national title—eh not quite.

I like the Buckeyes I really do but (warning: beating a dead horse) I don’t really trust Terrelle Pryor. For all of the hype that Pryor has received, and is still receiving as he is the favorite for the Heisman, the only really good game that he has put together since coming to Columbus was that Rose Bowl win against Oregon.

I’ve watched Pryor, dissected him, criticized him, prayed that Jim Tressel put him at wide out and I still can’t trust that for a full season based on that Rose Bowl that he will put it together running and throwing the ball. Is that wrong? Maybe but that’s what I’m rolling with (plus Ohio State has to figure out their running game. Is it Brandon Saine? Jordan Hall? Jamaal Berry? Carlos Hyde? Maurice Clarett? Who’s running the ball consistently for them?).

I want to trust the both of you, but I know I can't.

So who do I like then for the national title? No one really. I’m a hater this year. I can’t find reasons to like these teams enough to pick them to win the national championship including Boise State who I’ve been touting since they embarrassed Bob Stoops at the Fiesta Bowl years ago.

The top 5 is really a top 3. Florida and Texas? I have no clue how teams that lose that much talent the year before, can start the year in the national championship race. Garrett Gilbert at QB for Texas can grow into something special in Austin especially after his gutsy debut at the Rose Bowl versus Bama last year. However, number 4 in the country? No, not yet.

As much as I don’t like any of these teams there has to be a way to find a viable national title pick among them so let’s try to find one. (Note: these are my personal rankings, like it matters anyway because rankings this early in this season are foolish)

ALABAMA (no.1, defending champions, SEC, key player: Mark Ingram)

What I don’t like: losing Arenas, Cody and McClain will hurt them at some point. The defense is still one of the toughest in the nation nut I feel it’s going to struggle. They play a soft non-conference schedule with Penn State coming to Tuscaloosa in September then they get a wake-up call from Arkansas and Ryan Mallet in Fayetteville on the 25th, it might not seem like such a big deal right now but I can see a loss to an upstart like the hogs and all those weapons they have on offense.

However, I do like: one, they’re the defending champs; they got the hunger to go back and continue the SEC dominance. Two, it’s a week SEC this year, sure they go to LSU but I don’t see LSU as a challenge for the Tide. It could make for an easy road back to the BCS championship game.

OHIO STATE (no. 2, Big Ten Champions, Winners of the Rose Bowl, Key player: Terrelle Pryor)

Hate: Pryor. He has to put together a full season to gain my trust and the trust of the Buckeye faithful out there. I’m anxious to see if his throwing motion has improved or if he can spread the ball around to receivers other than Dane Sanzenbacher and Devier Posey. Also, I hope Jim Tressel tells Tresselball to kick rocks. He has to open it up and air it out, Tresselball has been the reason for the Buckeyes deficiencies in recent years on offense and Tressel has done nothing about it. He has to either adapt or watch another title dream go down the drain.

Like: Miami comes to the Shoe in three weeks which provides a good early season challenge for the Buckeyes. Also the Big Ten is looking pretty good this year, Iowa and Wisconsin are dark horse national title candidates and will provide the Bucks with their first real Big Ten challenge in years.

BOISE STATE (no.3, WAC champions, Winners of the Fiesta Bowl, Key Player: Kellen Moore)

Hate: I don’t want to hate the Broncos, but they play in the WAC and traditional voters will do everything in their power to use that against them in their contention for the national championship. Also they start off the season in a neutral site game against Virginia Tech in Washington D.C.—Blacksburg is a good two and a half hour drive from the capital— neutral? Yeah, sure.

Like: They are faster, tougher and deeper than you want to believe. Austin Pettis, Jeremy Avery and others provide a punch on an offense that will score lots of points with Heisman Contender Kellen Moore at the helm and Ryan WInterswyk leads a tough defense that shut down Oregon and TCU last year. I’m really pulling for these guys but I don’t see it happening.

TCU (NO. 4, MWC champions, 12-1, Key Player: Andy Dalton)

Hate: They totally choked up in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The mental toughness should be a concern as the Mountain West gets more attention this year than ever with their recent success. Also losing Jerry Hughes in defense hurts more than they’ll know.

Like: They are the best team in Texas. On offense Andy Dalton will get a long look for the Heisman and he’ll have plenty of help in looking good from Jeremy Kerley and Joseph Turner. The defense is still stout without Hughes as Coach Gary Patterson will rely on defensive tackles Kelly Griffin and Cory Grant to lead one of the nation’s top ranked and toughest defensive lines.

VIRGINIA TECH (No.5, ACC, 10-3, Key Player: Ryan Williams)

So I could win the Heisman, we could go 12-0, again and still wont play for the National Title again?

Hate: They play in the ACC, the worst conference in all of football. They have to go to Miami and Chapel Hill against the best the conference has to offer. Also they shrink against the big competition. They lost to Georgia Tech, UNC, and Alabama last year while barely beating Nebraska in a game that they were not impressive in. suddenly that home field advantage versus Boise State doesn’t look like a big deal.

Like: The progression of Tyrod Taylor. He is the undisputed man at Va. Tech and has finally found a way to make them score regularly. Having Ryan Williams in the backfield doesn’t hurt. He should match his 1600 season last year with the cupcakes coming up on the schedule.

IOWA (no. 6, Orange Bowl Champions, 11-2, Key Players: Defensive Line)

Hate: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. They plagued them in losses and in games that shouldn’t have been close last year. Ricky Stanzi has a flash for brilliance at QB but his iffy arm puts the Hawkeyes in trouble A LOT! Also that week three matchup against Arizona will be tougher than most think.

Love: That defense. Ask the Big Ten about it. Led by Adrian Clairborn and Karl Krug they can rush the QB at will with just the front four. The front line won six of their games last year and can do it again this year. Also Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State have to come to Kinnick Stadium this year. Talk about a lucky break.

FLORIDA (No. 7, Sugar Bowl Champions, 13-1, SEC, Key Player: John Brantley)

Hate: They’re young, with unproven receivers, no real threat in the backfield and a defense that lost four key starters. They face South Florida September 11th which could be a tough test for them. This might be the year that Florida State restores the balance of the rivalry in their favor.

Like: Mechanically and from the eye test John Brantley is a better quarterback than Tim Tebow (BLASPHEMY!!). With the spread offense in play they should still put up lots of points especially with Vandy, Appalachian State and Miami (Oh) on the schedule.

TEXAS (No. 8, National runner-up, 13-1, Big 12, Key Player: Malcolm Williams)

Hate: The fact that they are ranked third in the nation without their returning top QB, WR, tackler and defensive back. If Malcolm Williams cant step up and be Garrett Gilbert’s main target then that offense will have problems scoring, even in the pass happy Big 12.

Like: They only play Nebraska, and Oklahoma. There schedule screams 10-2 or 11-1 even without the clarity on offense.

OKLAHOMA (No. 9, 7-5, Big 12, Key Player: Landry Jones)

Hate: Normally I’d rage against a coach for scheduling Utah State as its first game of the year… until you see Oklahoma facing Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati in their non-conference.  Nice job Coach Stoops scheduling your team coming off of a wretched year against a rejuvenated Seminole squad a tough Air Force team and the Big East champs on the road. Oh yeah followed by a matchup versus Texas.

Like: Landry Jones was a revelation last year. With Sam Bradford being injured Jones got his reps early and knows what to expect this year. He’s got weapons by the boatload and will put up lots of points. Oh and the top ten defense returns all of its starters too, that helps.

NEBRASKA (No. 10, 10-4, Big 12, Key Player: Jared Crick)

Hate: Replacing Ndamukong Suh is not going to be easy for Jared Crick. While he won’t be expected to put up the same numbers as Suh they will expect the same presence and motor that Suh brought every Saturday.

Like: Bo Pelini’s defensive schemes gave the big dogs nightmares last year, ask Texas; also no one is throwing on Prince Amakamura (great name). QB Zac Lee looks to rebound from an up and down year but won’t be asked to do much with this great defense in front of him.

Hey Tressel! Here's your preview of what's to come!

Ideally I would love a TCU vs. Boise State BCS title game however that will never happen in a million years. So I’ll instead settle for Nebraska vs. Ohio State in Glendale. Why? Why not.

Look, of all of these teams these are the two I feel safest in picking. The Buckeyes because they get Miami at home early and should handle two tough tests at Iowa and Wisconsin, The Huskers because they get Texas at home and in a conference that’s offensive minded they will have the upper hand with their suffocating defense. Also do you really see Oklahoma beating them in the Big 12 title game with the Prince all over Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones’s only real threat down field? Nope.

So that means the national champion will be… NEBRASKA!!! The Buckeye faithful hate me right now. I like Nebraska a lot. They have an NFL mentality, defense wins championships and Zac Lee will play Trent Dilfer easing the ship on its course. Plus we know how Jim Tressel fails versus the SEC over and over, so coaching against Pelini and his SEC ties to LSU will be a nightmare for him. Also wouldn’t that be interesting? Nebraska beating Ohio State then starting Big Ten conference play the next year as the clear favorites? Hmmm…

So as it turns out, I do like one team. Even without Ndamukong Suh the Huskers are still a force to reckon with and won’t fall a second short like they did last year versus Texas. Also its sort of a win for the SEC as one of their old coaches gets another ring. So everyone’s happy, well except the folks in Columbus. Another failed title game appearance and to lose to the new guy coming in next year? Ugh. There’s something to hate.

ACC Winner- Florida State (Dark Horse- Georgia Tech)

Big East- Pittsburgh (Cincinnati)

Big Ten- Ohio State (Wisconsin)

Big 12- Nebraska (Oklahoma)

Pac 10- Oregon (Arizona)

SEC- Alabama (LSU)

BCS Busters- Boise and TCU

Orange Bowl- Florida State vs. TCU

Sugar Bowl- Alabama vs. Pittsburgh

Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma vs. Boise State

Rose Bowl- Oregon vs. Wisconsin

BCS Title Game- Nebraska vs. Ohio State

Heisman Winner- Kellen Moore, Boise State


Texas Stops The Realignment Process, For Now

Thanks to Texas, college footballs armaggeddon is on hold.

Texas saved college football as we know it… for now anyway.

Late Monday night the Longhorns decided that it would be in their best interest to stay in a possible ten team big 12 than join a possible mega Pac 16 conference. The deal came to fruition after the AD’s from Texas, Oklahoma and the remaining Big 12 schools conversed over the weekend if it was better for the conference to stay together with fewer teams or to eliminate the conference entirely. Their decision to keep the remaining Big 12 intact shows that at least in this case less is more.

They have one fan who agrees with the decision to keep it together. As the Big Ten was set on purging a few teams from the conference (ending up with Nebraska) and the rumors came out of a mega Pac 10, I was beginning to wonder just where college football was headed.

The creation of all of these mega conferences would dilute the regular season and render it worthless; it would create money based rivalries with no real emotion behind while destroying the old-school rivalries that we love watching every Saturday.  It would’ve killed the intrigue that makes college football so much fun. Everyone thinks the Big East is garbage as a conference yet last year we were enthralled with Cincinnati’s undefeated run and wondered if they could hang with a team like Florida. Granted they couldn’t but it was fun to think about and let play out.

The same goes for the ACC. If Miami and Florida State joined the conference I think Florida-Florida State wouldn’t be relevant anymore because the stakes of state supremacy and in the recruiting battle would take a backseat to a inter divisional game that wouldn’t decide much. The rivalry would just turn into another game in the grand landscape.

Both the Mountain West and Boise State benefit from their move.

Now I’m not opposed to all conference realignment. I love Boise State going to the Mountain West because Boise has proven that they are a national player in College Football by winning two Fiesta Bowls and winning the most games in the last decade. It strengthens the Mountain West’s claim for a BCS automatic berth because now they a have a conference that’s won more BCS games in the last ten years than automatic bid conferences like the ACC and the Big East (even more impressive is they have Utah who beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl a year before their National Championship which says a lot about the level of talent in the conference to be able to compete with an SEC powerhouse).

With that said realignment should take a little more time to come to fruition especially when it comes to the main power conferences. There is something out of place about 4 huge 16 team conferences taking up all of the space in the national landscape. It works in college basketball with the Big East because of the girth that is college basketball and its 328 teams. However, in football there are only 119 teams. So just imagine a scenario with the bowl system still in place with 35 games (70 teams), 64 teams reside in 4 conferences, there would only be about 8-10 spots open for small conferences because of bowl tie-ins, which means that up to 60 spots would be open for those conferences with those teams and Notre Dame of course. Which reminds me… WHY THE HELL IS NOTRE DAME NOT IN A CONFERENCE?!

Of all of the realignment going on why does Notre Dame still refuse to join a conference? The big guns at the top of the Golden Dome insist that they don’t feel the need to join a conference because of their TV contract so the Irish still get all of the perks that the big conferences get, where’s the fairness in that?

Notre Dame hasn’t been a real player in the college game since the early 90’s. The Irish have averaged 7-8 wins in the last decade and their last 3 ten win seasons have ended in BCS bowl beat downs by Ohio State, Oregon State and LSU. Notre Dame is nothing more than a glorified mid-major at this point that couldn’t beat 6 of the ten teams in the Mountain West conference yet are still allowed to live off of an aura that died after Lou Holtz left the school for South Carolina.

The point of this realignment is money and not the quality of the sport. The Pac 10 wants a TV deal like that of the Big Ten, the Big Ten wants a big money conference title game like that of the SEC, ACC and Big 12, the Big 12 teams will get a new TV deal now that they are smaller in numbers and the money is easier to dole out. None of this has anything to do with the game on the field. All of it still masks the fact that the sport still has problems deciding a national champ unless two teams are undefeated. Last year the season ended with Boise State and Alabama undefeated after each team beat 12-0 teams themselves. The realignment would do nothing but cause more problems as there would be a ton of one-loss and two-loss teams that think that they should play for the national title but not even the BCS would be able to sort it out with whatever formulas they would tweak out.

Which is why I can’t thank Texas and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M for deciding to stay in a smaller Big 12 and work on a TV deal for their conference. It saves us another few months of watching Joe Schad speculate if Iowa State would end up in the MAC conference or just how Louisville, Cincinnati and Virginia make sense in Conference USA. The decision to stay put for now saves everyone involved a fair amount of headaches from conference play, to scheduling to the postseason play and national championship. We were looking at the apocalypse of college football dead in the face and Texas helped avoid it. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen at some point, ready or not.