Tuesday, September 29, 2009

College Football Week 4 Analysis

For once I am going to get my analysis out before Friday! All year I have started my college football analysis on Monday to only have it posted Friday. What can I say I have the joy of being smothered by school.

On to Week 4...

16 South Carolina 10 Ole Miss

All summer long message boards were flaring up about Ole Miss being overrated. Personally, I thought No. 4 was high for the Rebels, but we would not see that for a couple weeks. I mean really lose their first big game? Please! I never imagined the Rebels to play so lousy against South Carolina. But as lousy as the Rebels played you have to get a lot of that credit to the Gamecock defense. South Carolina missed countless opportunities to put the game away, but still managed to halt a late Ole Miss charge. Jevan Snead has looked nothing more than average this year. It's one thing to lose on the road 33-30 in a tough game, but to lose 16-10 when your offense played so lousy is just sickening for the people of Oxford. Greg Hardy and Co. showed that the defense will not be able to get Ole Miss out of all their offensive woes.

30 LSU 26 Mississippi State

I really do not know what to think about LSU's game. There's a part of me that is aggravated because for much of the game LSU failed to close the door on the Bulldogs. They failed to capitalize. They missed PATs, field goals, mishandled punts, and blew assignments in the defensive secondary. It was a lackluster performance that had me on the verge of a heart attack.

But then there's another part of me. A part of me that says finally the offense let Jefferson air it out. And heck it might not have been pretty but the Tigers did win. It's far too common of a thing where moronic people go on the Internet and undermine a huge defensive stand for LSU. I, for one, will not. LSU was up 30-24 and failed to move the ball on offense. The Tigers punted it back to Mississippi State with plenty of time. Then it happened a couple passes and more bruising runs right up the middle and poof! the Bulldogs were on the 2 yard line with a 1:29 left and a 1st and Goal. This was it. It was over. I was seeing everything. Bulldogs score and make the PAT and it's 31-30. LSU gets the ball back and Jefferson throws an interception. Starkville newspapers explode at the fact that the Bulldogs beat the Tigers for the first time since 1999. I, foolishly, thought it was over. On 1st and Goal from the 2 Anthony Dixon plowed to the 1 yard line. It was insane how close he was. Must of been the width of a cockroach's antenna. No more. Then, LSU called a timeout in anticipation of the touchdown. On 2nd and Goal Mississippi State again gave it to Dixon, but this time he got nothing. Zero. Zip. Nadda. 3rd and Goal and my pulse is up to 240. The Bulldogs try a trick play, they fake the hand off and go for a pass to a wide open tight end. It went flawless and then Chad Jones swatted the ball down. Pulse is now at 260. Here it was 4th and Goal at the 4 inch line. Quarterback Tyson Lee took the snap and went right up the middle. Nothing. Not a yard.

LSU would get the ball back and purposely get a safety and win 30-26, but it was all so odd. We, the fans, thought it was over. This is what amazed me. Mississippi State cut through LSU's defense all afternoon. The running game was going down our throats, yet at the end of the day the defense thought to themselves, "hey we haven't lost it yet." I do not know how this LSU team will do this year. Each week is a different team, but what I do know this: I will not forget the day LSU stopped Mississippi State from getting 4 inches. The day the defense did not quit. The day LSU thought to themselves it is not over yet.

31 Virginia Tech 7 Miami-Florida

At the end of the day when you add all the numbers up, Lane Stadium is one of the most underrated hostile environments out there. LSU went there in 2002 and got demolished 26-8. It happens countless times a team walks into that stadium thinking not much of it only to get jumped on. In the rain the Hokies jumped on the Hurricanes and beat up on Randy Shannon's crew like no one has done all year. At halftime it was 21-0. After two stellar games, Jacory Harris had an uncharacteristic nightmare of an afternoon against the Hokie D. It is not so much that VTech won it's how they did it. Right out of the gates they jump on visiting opponents and before you can blink an eye it's 14-0. Sure Jacory Harris rallied his troops at Doak Walker Stadium, but this was different. This was Lane Stadium, home of public humiliations and embarrassments since 1965.

42 Oregon 3 California

When I posted my predictions for the 2009 season I said, "By the end of October the California Bears WILL no longer be in the dark horse National Championship talk." It is not the end of October but a tremendous blow was taken to the Cal National Championship talk. The Bears were manhandled by the Ducks in every facet of the game. The funny thing is Cal actually went up 3-0, but at the end of the day they got out gained 524 yards to 207 yards. Certain teams in this country have class. On any given Saturday they are going to come to play. Sure they might not win, but they will fight till the end. California does not have that yet. You are the 6th ranked team and you lose by 39 on the road to an unranked Oregon Squad? And let's not forget USC plays at Oregon later in the year. Talk about a game to look forward to! Heck, if Oregon plays like that the rest of the season we might be seeing the Ducks in the Rose Bowl.

Tebow injury: Unlike anything we have ever seen in his four years at Florida, quarterback Tim Tebow got his lights absolutely knocked out. There's a lot of talk on whether Tebow will play LSU in two weeks October 10 (aka Judgment Day). Let me answer that question right now. TEBOW WILL BE PLAYING. I would be very, very surprised if he did not start. Tebow wants to play this game bad and LSU wants to play him just as much. Two years ago we beat UF in Tiger Stadium 28-24, but last year the Gators took it to LSU in the Swamp 51-21. Everyone is anticipation of this match up. It is Judgment Day after all.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

College Football Week 3 Analysis

College football will always amaze. No matter the circumstances, no matter how certain I am a team will do, in some way or another college football will amaze me. This week was no different by a long shot.

23 Florida 13 Tennessee:

This game has more people scratching there heads despite the favored team still winning. Florida was supposed to win 60-10. Florida was going to mop up the Vols on Saturday because after all new UT coach Lane Kiffin talked trash about Urban Meyer. This game was about as big a lock as there was. FLORIDA WAS GOING TO DESTROY TENNESSEE. But at the end of the game the mighty Gators had only beaten the Volunteers by a mere ten points. Confusion has sent into the minds of nearly half the college football fan base. I, for one, am still scratching my head.

I have heard the statement, "if Tebow didn't fumble it would of been 30-6." Well I can shoot one back at you, "if Crompton would of scored at the end of the game when UT had the ball at midfield it would of been 23-20." With all excuses aside this is what we learned...

One of three things happened: a) Florida is not as good as we thought they were [doubtful] b) Tennessee is a lot better than we expected or c) Lane Kiffin knows how to put together a game plan.

Honestly, I think the answer is C. Kiffin, from what I have heard, put together a game plan that took away Tebow's options. I do not think anyone expected it to work as well as it did. Here's the thing: Tim Tebow will not be the QB he was last year if he forced to carry the ball 25 times a game. That is too much. Even Superman will get worn down. Remember 2007 when Tebow was really fighting through some pain? You better believe Florida wants to avoid that again.

So if you limit Tebow's options are you saying a team has a chance against Florida? Yes, but again let's keep in mind that you can always say, "well Florida was off Saturday." Maybe that same game plan does not work in the future.

And finally, most likely the Gators will go undefeated and they will win the BCS Championship, but that easy path to the top looks more jagged than we imagined.

16 Washington 13 USC

Each year, despite the loads of talent at Southern Cal, the Trojans trip up against at least one team. One week after beating Ohio State in Columbus the Trojans fell to the Washington Huskies in Husky Stadium 16-13. Couple things: Jake Locker is legit. Against LSU he tore us up and caused hell all night. When he did the same thing to the Trojans, LSU's defensive struggles did not look as disappointing. We learned a lot about Aaron Corp as well. From the looks of the game Saturday he is nothing spectacular. One of the more interesting things about this game is the fact USC scored only 13 points. Sure the Trojans trip up, but it always manages to be a 20+ score. The fact that UW shut down USC to a mere 13 points raises my eyebrows. Okay, so Corp does not have a lot of experience, but you still have Joe McKnight. Maybe Coach Sark has this team farther along than we imagined.

31 LSU 3 Louisiana-Lafayette

After Saturday's victory LSU is 23-0 against ULL. 16 of those games have been shutouts. The Ragin' Cajuns really thought they had a chance tonight and for a great majority of the game they did indeed hang with the Tigers. LSU still displayed an inability to make things happen on offense. The defense, for the second straight game, was stellar, but how good is one's defense if your offense is not doing much? Jordan Jefferson is still very much a work in progress, but I have to ask why oh why do they not at least open up the playbook? Another tailback dive on first down? It's far too predictable and frankly boring. I have confidence LSU will get things going on offense in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

College Football: Concerns, Issues After Week 2

Two weeks into the season and we already have back to back weeks were a top 5 team have fallen. I can only imagine what the rest of the season holds. Here's what I learned from week 2.

Florida 56 Troy 6: The Gators' D has given up a total of 9 points in two games, but we have yet to see them go against a quality opponent. Florida's second warm up game gave us nothing new about the Gators. UF will take on Tennessee who is not what I would call "a quality opponent" yet.

Houston 45 Oklahoma State 35: One week after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs, Oklahoma State gets beaten at home by the Houston Cougars. This upset is not all that incredible. Houston likes to throw the ball a lot with quarterback Casey Keenum, the 2008 Conference USA offensive player of the year. I am sure Oklahoma State has a better defense than last year, but at the end of the day this game shows us that their pass defense is still lacking. What happens when Oklahoma State goes up against other Big 12 gunslingers like Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Taylor Potts? The remarkable thing is Oklahoma State went down 24-7 rallied to take the lead 28-24 then again at 35-31.

Michigan 38 Notre Dame 34: This was a game that has been marked for months. The losing team was sure to have a head coach who's job security would be damaged. Coming into this game I did not look at Michigan with the same underdog status as most of the country labeled them as. (Mainly because RichRod's offense came into being against Western Michigan in week 1.) Did I honestly think UM would win? No. Overall, very good game and even though ND lost they still have no reason to think this season is over. In the fourth quarter UM held a 31-20 lead that was quickly turned into a 34-31 ND lead with 5:13 left. NOW HERE IS WHERE THINGS GOT INTERESTING. Michigan can not get the ball moving and punts the ball to Notre Dame. The ball is downed with 3:25 left in the game. On first down ND runs for 13 yards for a first down. Now it's first down and ND runs a another play up the middle and is stopped for one yard. UM then uses it's first time out. There are 2:29 left in the game and it is 2nd and 9. On the next two plays ND throws the ball and both are incomplete. UM gets the ball back on a punt on there 43 yard line with 2:19 left and 2 timeouts. And it is right here where you have to ask Coach Weis what was he thinking. If you are going to make that gamble where you throw it instead of opting to run the ball and burn there timeouts you better execute the play otherwise you are going to get ripped apart. Here's the thing, let's say Weis runs the ball on 2nd and 3rd down and both times UM calls a timeout. Well at least when they would get the ball back Michigan would have no timeouts. Weis gambled and lost and now he must pay.

And by the way I was very impressed with Tate Forcier. In his first start he threw for 240 and ran for 70. 310 total yards in one start? Not bad at all.

USC 18 Ohio State 15:
This was the game of the week. USC was supposed to run over OSU, but for much of the game OSU was in control. Even after Terrelle Pryor's first play interception, OSU was still able to take control of the game. OSU had the largest crowd in The Shoe's history, they neutralized Joe McKnight, they made Matt Barkley look average, and they had a 5 point lead, 15-10, with 7 minutes to go in the fourth. Yet in the end Ohio State lost a heartbreaker. Behind Matt Barkley, USC had a 6:10 minute drive that was oh so similar to Juice Williams of Illinois's 8 minute drive back in 2007. Even though USC broke OSU's back with that 6:10 drive, the Bucks still had a shot with 1:05 left. After a return to the OSU 36 yard line the offense sputtered and OSU fell again. I can only help but think when is Pryor going to have his moment? Sure it was a difficult situation, down by 3 with 1 minute left, but these are things Pryor is supposed to do. He was brought in as the next Vince Young. This was a situation in which he was supposed to excel. A guy like Pryor is supposed to fall in this sort of sentence. "The game was lost and any normal quarterback would of lost, but we had Pryor so we won." Bottom line when is Pryor going to have his moment?

LSU 23 Vanderbilt 9: There's a lot to be said about the LSU game. There's good and bad news. First the bad, or I should say UNSATISFYING news. LSU's offense is not at the place we all thought they would be. Many times on Saturday LSU went three and out. This was frustrating by all means because our playcalling seemed to be so bland. All summer there was talk about how Gary Crowton was going to really pump up the LSU offense. I, as well as all LSU fans, was excited to see The Wizard (Crowton) do his magic, but we have not seen that yet. I understand QB Jordan Jefferson is young, what I do not understand is why we ran the same old running back dive up the middle on three or four consecutive possessions. Each time LSU was getting no yardage whatsoever. What needed to take place for it to be realized that a running back dive on first down was not working? Also, LSU had 5 wide receivers many times, but very rarely threw the ball deep.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are one of the people upset by LSU leading Vandy by the mere score of 16-9 in the fourth quarter. Imagine if one of LSU's three field goals resulted in a touchdown. Instead of 16-9, we are looking at 20-9 and a final score of 27-9. The main thing is the offense is still a work in progress but at the same time if they could just punch it in the endzone a little more than LSU would not be in the situation they were Saturday - up by only 7 in the fourth.

Now for the good news. In week 1 LSU's defense gave up an appalling 471 yards of offense to the Washington Huskies. A lot of skepticism came out as to whether or not new defensive coordinator John Chavis was the man for the job. The performance against UW was nothing to be proud of, but I was convinced Chavis would get it under control. After all he is not a first year coach, he has been doing this for years, and he's been good at it.

That all changed this past Saturday against Vanderbilt. The LSU defense gave up a mere 210 yards. Period. Vandy had one scoring drive that would of ended had LB Kelvin Sheppard not dropped an interception that would of surely been six points. Chad Jones, as well as the rest of the team, was tackling a lot better. Also, the defensive line started to really get into it. How about the play by Drake Nevis and Al Woods? And what about cornerback Patrick Peterson? He literally shuts down his side of the field. I am excited to see this unit continue to grow throughout the season.

As of now LSU can compete with Alabama, Ole Miss, and Georgia mainly because of our defense's play Saturday. Again I might be jumping the gun on that at this moment.

Florida? Lots of improvement needs to be shown on offense if we want the sky to fall October 10th, but never say never.

Things I was WRONG about...

Unless UCLA has one heck of a defense, UT's offense is not that good. I guess in the end it was just the fact they were playing Western Kentucky. In there home stadium the Vols lost 19-15 to a young, inexperienced UCLA team. Vol QB Jonathon Crompton's performance was dreadful to say the least. He was 13 of 26 for 93 yards and 3 interceptions. Touchdowns? Zero. And oh yeah he lost a fumble as well.

Auburn. I was kept thinking dark times where upon the War Eagles. They did a lousy job of hiring a coach and the SEC West was far too loaded for them to make any noise. I know it's only been 2 games, but rest assured a 49-24 over Mississippi State is something to raise your eyebrow on. Look I know it's early on, but I am ust saying do not be surprised if Auburn starts making some noise.

Friday, September 11, 2009

College Football: Issues, Concerns After Week 1

You really have to question my intelligence when I decide that I would like to put my thoughts on the first week of college football the day before the second week begins. I will do my best to avoid this happening again.

Anyway here's what I picked up from week 1...

Florida: The Gators romped Charleston Southern 62-3. We did not learn anything about the UF because a) they went against Charleston Southern and b) look at A. Saturday they play, gasp, Troy. But come September 19th the Gators will have there first challenge when they play Tennessee (an unknown team) in the Swamp.

Alabama: Saban's defense is definitely legit and a formidable opponent, but at the end of the day are they are good as they came across against Virginia Tech? Yes, they did beat a top 5 opponent 34-24, but that VTech offensive play calling is so horrid! It has to be frustrating being a VTech fan watching that offense. Also, Greg McElroy did get into a groove in the second half, but he was shaky for sure in the first. Still the young quarterback helped put up 34 points against a top 5 defense and that can not go unnoticed.

USC: The Trojans behind playboy Matt Barkley beat San Jose State 56-3. This week they go into Columbus and the general thought is Ohio State struggled against Navy so USC will win, right? In the words of Lee Corso, "not so fast my friends!" I originally said USC would lose to Ohio State and I can not change my opinion because week 1 did not go as flawless as I had hoped for Ohio State. Ohio State needs this game more than USC. USC does not run the triple option so Ohio State will have a better chance preparing for their opponent. Overall I just do not see a 19 year old freshman quarterback going into the Shoe in front of 100,000+ fans and pulling out a victory.

Oklahoma: Andre Ware was the only guy who said the offensive line for Oklahoma would cause huge problems for Sam Bradford. He said OU would lose 3 to 4 games this year because of it. He was laughed at, but after week 1 his proclamation holds true. BYU was causing havoc for Bradford all day before he left the game injured. Keep in mind OU was only up 13-7 when he went out! Major kudos to BYU for right out of the gates setting the tone for a season that could be nothing short of spectacular.

Oklahoma State: All I keep hearing is, "well I guess Georgia is not as good as we thought they were." Wait! What if it's just the fact that Oklahoma State is finally for real? In a game of epic proportions (highest preseason ranking ever for OSU) the Cowboys beat the Bulldogs in Stillwater 24-10. Despite the stingy UGA defense, Dez Bryant was still able to have his touchdown that would break open the game. Main thing is do not blow off Georgia for the rest of the season because after all, this could be a very special Cowboy squad.

Boise State: I am telling you in 10 years the Boise State Broncos are going to have a national championship. That school is not only winning against bigger schools they are doing it with the athletes. High school athletes are going there because the offense is fun and you get to get on the field right away. Why wait 2 years on the bench to play when you can start right from the get-go at Boise State? In the season opener the Broncos dismantled a Oregon team in the oddest final score I have ever seen, 19-8. I was very surprised to see Oregon not have any fight in them. Lackluster effort for a team in trouble.

Notre Dame: No lie, I was pretty impressed by the 35-0 win by ND against Nevada. First a shutout is a shutout. Second, Nevada has one the nation's best quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. College footbal guru, Phil Steele, named Kaepernick the 7th best quarterback in college football! And this guy could not muster any points? I honestly think that this Notre Dame has a chance to be a very special team. National championship caliber? No not quite, but BCS bowl bound for sure.

LSU: The first half was not what the LSU faithful where hoping for. The defense looked out of sync and Jake Locker was having his way. But in the second half things changed. Let's put it this way: if LSU were to have stopped Washington from that last scoring drive than Washington would of had only 150 yards in the second half! But as we know Washington drove down the field and scored with no time left to lose 31-23. The general negativity surrounding LSU already from LSU fans is sickening to even comprehend. I can understand questioning a defensive coordinator who is young and inexperienced, but John Chavis is neither of those. Chavis has experience and he has been successful many times in the past. Will LSU be holding opponents to 14 points a game? No, but I do know they will improve as the season goes on. I am hopeful the defense will come around.

Cincinnati: Maybe we were all wrong to think Cincy's 2008 season was an anomaly. Sure it was only one game, but it's hard to look back the lashing the Bearcats put on Rutgers this past Saturday. On Rutgers's home turf Cincinnati rolled to a 47-15 win! Rutgers, by many, seemed like the logical choice to be the team that represents the Big East in a BCS Bowl.

California: The jury is still out for this Golden Bears squad that I am convinced will falter midseason. Winning 52-13 is always reason to smile, but lets not get past the fact it is Maryland. We need more weeks to see California play before we make a better call on this team.

Miami-Florida: What a game. How Miami managed to stop Florida State that many times inside their four yard line is beyond me. Jacory Harris definitely showed he has the potential to be the next great Miami quarterback. Though one has to wonder is Harris that good, or just a product of a lousy Seminole defense? On the other side I have to say I was impressed with Christian Ponder of Florida State. No reason the Seminoles (or Hurricanes, whom I predicted would have 5 losses a week ago) can not go 9-3.

Penn State: Joe Pa's crew has got a defense. Period. So what if it's Akron the fact that a college team only got 8 yards in one half of football is amazing. The game was over at halftime. If Daryll Clark can stay hot than look for the Penn State game against Ohio State to decide whether or not Joe Pa returns to the national championship.

Illinois: I almost forgot to talk about this game. Missouri came into this game as a team the nation was expecting to have a major drop off. After being blessed with Brad Smith and Chase Daniel, Mizzo came into this year with no real quarterback threat. Yet somehow the Tigers managed to completely manhandle the Fightin' Illini 37-9? Hate to be bold, but Ron Zook's job is in trouble if he can not turn this around. Losing by 4 touchdowns to Mizzo when you have a senior quarterback in Juice Williams does not bode well at all. Should you be nervous about this season if you root for Zook's crew? Yes, gulp, oh yes.

Tennessee: I know it's only Western Kentucky. I know that WKU is about as bad as Division 1 football team as there can be, but still you have to acknowledge that Jonathon Crompton going 21 of 28 for 5 touchdowns is signs of improvement. Yes, I know Lane Kiffin left Crompton in the game well into the fourth quarter, yet I still can not help but think to myself that maybe Tennessee is a lot farther along offensively than we expected. And did I mention in his first game as a college back Bryce Brown went over the century mark? Yes it was Western Kentucky...but still.

Michigan: Western Michigan is no power house, but the school is a respectable MAC power team. When I take that into account and then I see that UM won 31-7 I have to say I think RichRod's offense is more in sync than we all thought. This weekend against Notre Dame will go a long way to tell us how good this UM offense is. ND will be favored, but to blow off Michigan would be silly.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

2009 College Football Bold Predictions

This is it. After what has seemed like 10,000 days of waiting college football is back. Thursday night meaningful games will finally kick off, but before that day comes let me lay out my predictions for the season.

Florida WILL go undefeated and they WILL win the National Championship.
(I keep looking and when I really evaluate this team I do not see them tripping up once.)

By the end of October the California Bears WILL no longer be in the dark horse National Championship talk.
(I have been hearing all summer how this Cal team is going to make some noise. I do not see this year being any different from the other years we, the fans, were lead to believe this.)

Ohio State WILL beat USC on September 12th.
(Matt Barkley is 18 years old. He turns 19 on September 8th. He has never started a college game. I do not think in his second game of the year he will be able to pull out a victory in front of 100,000+ screaming fans. I do not care how good he was in high school and I'm sure he will have a fine college career. But at the end of the day I do not think with such little experience he will be able to beat the Buckeyes.)

Baylor behind the nation's best kept secret, quarterback Robert Griffin, will pull off a big upset this year, but Baylor will not going bowling this year.

Miami Florida's head coach Randy Shannon will be fired at the end of the year as his team will again under perform. The Hurricanes will finish with 5 losses.

Michigan will not lose more than 4 games.

Once again Texas will just sneak by Oklahoma State. Much like the Fiesta Bowl, Colt McCoy will lead Texas for a late score at the end of the game to beat the Cowboys.

Oklahoma beats Texas. Oklahoma loses two games. Texas goes to the Big 12 Championship and then the National Championship.

Notre Dame will be getting a BCS bowl after they finish the season with only 2 losses. And yes they will lose to USC again.

Alabama will lose at the most 2 games during the regular season. Ole Miss will lose only one when the Bengals come into town. Ole Miss will go to the SEC Championship Game.

LSU will have their swagger back this year, but a very hard schedule will keep them out of the SEC Championship Game.

Rutgers will not win the Big East. Pittsburgh will take the conference and the coveted BCS bowl bid.

West Virginia will have 5 losses this year. Speculation will begin about whether Bill Stewart is the right guy for the job.

Alabama will beat Virginia Tech 31-14. Tech has a defense, but the offense will not be able to do anything against Alabama's defense.

Texas A&M has another losing season and surprisingly gives Mike Sherman one more year.

Dan LeFevour. He's what some would call the "poor man's Tim Tebow." He will lead Central Michigan to the MAC Title and to go along with that Houston will win the Conference-USA.

Sorry Archie Griffin, but you no longer have the record by yourself. Tim Tebow will win the Heisman trophy.

Oregon looked pretty impressive in their bowl victory against Oklahoma State so I will have to take the Ducks. Look for Oregon to end Boise State's 49-game regular-season home winning streak. It will be decided by one score.

Well that's all I have. In all honesty I'm the "Jeff George" of making predictions. Average, but nothing more.

Geaux Tigers!

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