Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Rivals says: Iowa
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
On offense the Gators will be led by first year starter QB John Brantley. Brantley was the top recruited QB in the country back in 2007, and should have no problem being productive right away, but productive is not the same as Tebow. Tim Tebow will be impossible to replace and no first year starter in the country will be uder more scrutiny than Brantley. The offensive line returns only one true superstar, Maurice Pouncey, and he has to deal with the distraction that is the ongoing investigation to his brother who was drafted to the NFL this year. There is no shortage of talent everywhere on the field, but little experience, and the whole team will have to get used to playing a Tebowless offense, which means a complete conceptual change to a pro-style offense.
The defense got hit harder by the draft than the offense. 6 defenders were drafted by NFL teams, including stars Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden. The story is the same here as on offense, tons of talent, no experience. The Gators finished 4th in the nation in total defense last year, and they return enough talent to finish in at least the top 20 again.
The schedule is the same as usual for the Gators: no challenges out of conference and a brutal SEC schedule. The Gators will play Alabama in the regular season for the first time since both became powerhouses in what will likely be a matchup of top five teams and the regular season game of the year. That game as well as Florida State will be on the road, aside from that, the Gators won't be challenged outside of Gainesville. There is a rare appearance on the schedule by a team from an AQ conference outside the SEC, but South Florida is no match for the Gators. South Carolina and LSU both come to Gainesville as well and Arkansas and Auburn are off the schedule this year. The Georgia will be played on a neutral field as usual.
The pieces are in place for a BCS run again but I don't think there is enough to realistically be in the national title conversation. This team will likely drop one it shouldn't and lose the game at Alabama.
Prediction: SEC champion, Sugar Bowl.
Rivals says: Virginia Tech
QB Landry Jones played much, much more than any Sooner hoped last year, but that will help the Sonners immensely this season. Jones was baptized in fire last season, stepping in for an injured Heisman winnner, with the worst OU line in a decade in front of him, and it showed as he led the Big 12 South in interceptions. Jones is godd though, and with a a full year of starting experience as well as a training camp preparing him for it, he could be an all conference player. The line is still not up to OU standards, but will certainly be better than a season ago. The skill players are phenomonal, the RB's will be underused as usual. Wr Ryan Broyles is one of the three best at his position in the country, Landry will have no shortage of playmakers around him.
The defense is very balanced but not very deep. Starters have departed at every position but there some back everywhere as well, the toughest loss is all-american DT Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in th NFL draft this year. The linebackers are great and the secondary, while not the countries best by any means, is better than most in the BIG 12 which usually sees pssing games dominate.
The schedule is right up there with the countries hardest, which is par for the course for the Sooners. Oklahoma starts light with Utah State, then get Air Force, Florida State, and Cincinnati before starting conference play. That stretch is immediately followed by the annual Texas game. If the Soooners survive that, the season could be special, Nebraska is not on the schedule and Missouri and Texas A&M are likely the only threats after that. A down year in the Big 12 makes the schedule a bit easier than usual.
Prediction: Winner Big 12 South.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Pitt: The best team that no one, and I mean NO ONE, cares about. This is the annual pitfall of the favorite in the Big East, were the winner gets a BCS bowl, and laughs about the idea of their champion actually playing for a national title. It took undefeated Cincinnati half the season to pass Boise State in the rankings, and didn't pass TCU until the final week of the season. The Big East is a BCS laughing ground and with BSU and TCU in the national title picture this year, it's official, busters now get more respect than Big East teams. Pittsburgh is looking to change that perception this season, on paper they look very capable of double digit wins, and with some luck an undefeated season.
The offense is the tale of two players. RB Dion Lewis ran for almost 1800 yards last season in his first year and will be legitimate Heisman contender. There are deep concerns at QB however, first year starter Tito Sunseri has little to no hype, and even lower expectations. Sunseri should be asked to do very little, as Pitt runs the ball about 70% of the time, if Sunseri is good for 30% the Panthers could be looking at a trip to Glendale. The line is hard to predict, with an all-american at left tackle, but also new starters at both guard spots and center.
The defense is probably the most solid unit in the conference. There are two new starting cornerbacks, but there is a lot of returning talent everywhere else. The defenseive front is the best in the Big East and the linebackers are pretty good too. DE Greg Romeus has been a all-conference selection two years running and will be back for his senior year, when he could easily be playing sundays this year.
The schedule is difficult but managable. There are no games that the Panthers aren't good enough to win, the hardest game will be against Miami on September 23, but that will be at home, and the Panthers are almost as good as the Canes. Notre Dame and Utah won't be rollovers either, but if this team is legitimate as a top 15 squad, it should be able to win two out of three here. In conference play, Pitt gets West Virginia abd UConn at home, and closes out the season at Cincinnati.
Prediction: 2nd Big East. Sorry Pitt fans, but I watched Dave Wanstedt ruin better teams than this in Miami, I'll believe he can win the big one when I see it.
Rivals says: USC
12. Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes 2009 season was much better than expected. A team that started unranked, beat three ranks teams in their first four games, spent a week in the top ten, and had a 9 win season. So why are the Canes so down after this season, probably because the ended the season losing 3 out of seven games, including a Champs Sports Bowl beatdown at the hands of Wisconsin. There is reason to be excited this year though, there is no real strong conference favorite, and Randy Shannon's recruiting classes should start being dominant.
On offense, this team will go as far as Jacory Harris improves, and no further. Harris was brilliant at the start of last season and even weaseled his way into some Heisman chatter, but he ended the season poorly, and some bad turnovers on his part can be blamed almost solely for the cold finish. There is plenty of talent at the skill positions but the line is a big question mark. There are two players on the o-line that are among the best in the conference, the rest of them are pretty bad, if some new starters can step up big though, this could be a dominating unit.
The defense is as agressive as any team in the conference, and has talent everywhere, there is no one dominating unit like UNC's line or V Techs linebackers, but for depth they have no match in the conference. Ninie starters will return overall, and there should be at least one all-conference players at each level.
The schedule is an absolute nightmare, if the Canes run the table, there is no doubt that they'll be in Glendale for the national championship game. The schedule features 8 teams with at least eight wins from a year ago. After the opener against Florida A&M, the Canes will face Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Clemson, and Florida State in successive games. They get a few gimmees against the conference floormats in Maryland, Duke, and Virginia, but they also have North Carolina, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech as well. If they survive all that, they get South Florida out of conference to close the season.
Prediction: 2nd, ACC Coastal Division
Rivals says: Wisconsin
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I completely agrre with them, and when I do that, I refer to let you read superior writing about there.
Rivals says: Miami
16. Oregon State Beavers
Did you know that the lowest ranked team to ever play in a BCS bowl was Stanford. The Cardinal ranked 22nd in the nation while winning the PAC-10 and advancing to the Rose Bowl that season. I expect the Beavers could give that number a run. The Beavers are good, easily good enough to contend for the PAC-10 title, but the schedule is a nightmare, and there are plenty of teams in the conference that can make similar claims. Oregon State has lost out on their chance to play in the Rose Bowl in the Civil War in two straight years, this year could be more of the same or the year they finally break out and win it.
The offense is very similar to what one expects in Corvallis, one or two stars, a lot of medicore but overacheiving players, and an undersized offensive line. This year should feature more of the same. Jaquizz and James Rodgers, the standout siblings at WR and RB, should provide one of the best skill tandems in the nation. After that, things get a little murky. Star QB Sean Canfield will have to be replaced and that worries a lot of people, I am not one of them. I don't know who will get the job, but I don't suspect it matters much. Canfield was good but in all likelihood was at best the conferences 5th best QB, something that his replacement certainly will find an acheivable goal, and the Beavers run first anyway. James Rodgers is one of the countries best WR's, which will also help with the transition behind center. The line is better than most but it won't wow anyone, but the Beavers have always overacheived with little talent, and this years crop of players is better than they are used to seeing.
The defense finished 57th in the country in scoring defense last year, that would be cause for concern if it wasn't for the fact that Arizona, Oregon, Stanford, and Washington, perhaps the top competitors for the Rose Bowl this year, all finished at 52nd or below as well. USC and UCLA have the conferences best defenses, but the Trojans can't go to a bowl, and Bruin ofense is awful, meaning that impresive or not, the Beavers probably have the best defense among contending teams this year. The secondary is very, very physical and in a conference where everyone seems to love throwing the ball, the Beavers have a big advantage on defense. They aren't the most talented but there is a lot of depth there, the defensive line is very strong up the middle, which should make running the ball difficult as well. The pass rush will have to improve though, lasts squad finished near the bottom in sacks and tackles for loss.
The schedule is the reason why they can contend for that lowest ranking BCS record, not the talent. The Beavers have a reputation for starting slow and really improving once conference play starts. This season will be no different, the start the year by playing the two best non-BCS squads, maybe ever, in two of the first three games. Both are virtually raod games, one in Boise against the Broncos, and the other is a "neutral-field" game against TCU in Arlington, Texas. The game between them is against Louisville, a bad team, but still a Big East team. There are no lay-ups on the non-conferene schedule. The good news is that Oregon and USC, the two best teams in the PAC-10, both come to Corvallis. Most of the other key games, Washington, Stanford, Arizona, are on the road, but the Beavers should be better than all of those teams. The season ends harshly though, with USC, Stanford, and Oregon in consecutive weeks.
This team has all the talent to do big things, but with the schedule they play, and their history of slow starts, I can't see this team losing any less than three games. That being said, two of those will be out of conference, making a conference title a very realistic goal.
Prediction: Rose Bowl, PAC-10 champs.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Amid all the hype that non-BCS programs such as TCU and Boise State are recieving, it is easy to forget that one of the armed force academies is slowly turning into the most successful independent team in the nation. Navy has posted eight or more wins in eight consecutive seasons and has not lost to either of their rival schools, Air Force and Army, during that time. The Middies have also beat Notre Dame the last two times they have played them, so for now, they are the independent team to beat. Not the Irish.
The offense finished 119th in the country in throwing the ball a year ago. Why is that not a concern? Because they attempted fewer than 100 passes in the entire season. Navy employs the triple option offense, and QB Ricky Dobbs is a master at it, rushing for 27 touchdowns a year ago, a single season record for a QB. I know that Navy's schedule is a far cry from the SEC, but even Tebow never did that. The Middies finsished fourth in rushing and all the key players are back to do it again.
The defense is better than advertised as well, giving up only 19.4 points per game last season, good for the 18th best scoring defense in the country. Navy returners starters almost everywhere expect for a few new guys at linebacker, the secondary should be great, and the line is nothing to scoff at either. Navy should finish at least at 18 again this season.
The schedule has to have the Middies excited. Only four teams will line up against them that played in a bowl last year. Of those four, Central Michigan and East Carolina lost their head coaches this offseason, and both will be rebuilding on offense. Neither of those teams is likely to see bowl action again this year. From BCS conferences, the schedule includes ACC lightweights Maryland, Duke, and Wake Forest. On paper, Notre Dame and Air Force are the only games that should even be a challenge. There are also only four true road games. The Middies can very realistically go unbeaten, but even then, the BCS is likely to snub them. The schedule makes Boise State look like an SEC program.
Prediction: 11-1 and whatever bowl falls to them.
19. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech cannot realistically expect a repeat of last season, with the exception of maybe getting it's ass handed to it by a Big 10 team in their bowl game, but their is more than enough talent to have a good season in a very weak ACC. The Jackets return a lot of experience, but lost three of the teams four biggest playmakers in Derick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer, and DeMaryius Thomas to the NFL.
The offense will be good again this year, even without Thomas and Dwyer. The fact is that no one else in the ACC runs anything resembling the triple option, giving the Jackets a huge advantage in every game, because defenses get only one week each season to prepare for them with no previous experience. QB Josh Nesbitt is back, but many question whether he can be effective throwing the ball without Thomas lining up at reciever. Thomas was the target of over half of Nesbitts passes in 2009, and he completed fewer than half anyways. Nesbitt will have to be more accurate if the Jackets want to do big things. All the best players on the line return, but without Dwyer and Thomas, there may not be enough playmakers to be as potent as last year.
The defense is very, very fast but they are not very tough, ranking only 56th in scoring defense last year. The pass defense is especially poor and losing their top pass rusher in Morgan will not help matters.
The schedule is pretty mild, skipping Florida State and Boston College in conference play is a huge plus. However, of the teams five really tough games (Georgia, North Carolina, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Clemson) only Miami is at home and all of those teams are just as good if not better than the Jackets anyways.
Prediction: 4th, ACC Atlantic.
18. Penn. State Nittany Lions
I can't lie, this team does, and always has bored me to no end. I just can't make myself write about them. I think they'll finish 4th in the Big Ten and you can read Rivals preview for them here.