Category Archives: College Quickie

The College Quickie: Five Fraudulent Contenders

As I sit here on Monday night, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon (that’s right), I find myself thrown back to my college days.  Those were the days we here at Campus Pressbox featured a, more or less, weekly College Quickie.

This PBR is making me realize just how much I miss my college days and the College Quickie.  It only felt right to work in a Tuesday quickie for old time’s sake.

So, in 500 words, or less, here are the first five bluebloods to be eliminated from 2016 College Football Playoff contention:

Ole Miss

If college football games were 30 minutes long, Ole Miss would be the undisputed top-ranked team in the country right now.  Going into the locker room, the Rebels have been up 28-13 on Florida State, 24-3 on Wofford, and 24-17 on Alabama.  That would give them wins over #4 in week one and #1 in week three.

The second half, closing time is what’s been tripping up the Rebels.  They’re being outscored by a combined 40-10, in the third quarter.  Generally, the best teams play their best right out of halftime and it’s hard to overcome that if you don’t do the same.

As we saw last weekend, Ole Miss is Hotty Toddy toast.

Oklahoma

Well, well, well, if it ain’t No Game Bob Stoops and his rag-tag band of Sooner or Laters.  There’s no team that’s fallen further, or harder, from grace than the Big 12’s only hope.

With the conference championship game not returning until next season, the Big 12 big wigs better hope the Sooners don’t run the table.

If they do, Oklahoma and the Big 12 will be locked out of the Playoff.

USC

Never has there been, and never will there be, a program more perennially overrated than the USC Trojans.  As our Damien Bowman once said, “The Trojans are the poster boys for blowing your load early.”

That ironic analogy has come to emasculating fruition yet again in 2016.  Truthfully, this could’ve been said after the steamrolling USC took from Alabama in week one.

Florida State

Getting drummed by Louisville to the tune of 63-20 disqualifies Florida State from making a Playoff appearance this season.

Maybe, if there were a pending rematch in the ACC Championship Game, I would say there’s still a chance for the Seminoles.

There’s not, and that cooks the Noles, no matter what they do for the rest of the season.

Notre Dame

Say hello to the biggest fraud of them all.  Boy, does it give me great pleasure to say that.

Not only did the Domers lose to a Texas team that’s still no good, they came back two weeks later and got dominated by a Michigan State team that’s supposedly in a down year.

As Seth Merenbloom so aptly described yesterday, Notre Dame’s Playoff chances are non-existent.

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke

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The College Quickie: Predictions – Sometimes You’re Right, Sometimes You’re Wrong

Here’s the thing about predictions, you’ll get some right and you’ll get some wrong. I am no exception to that rule. If you listened to the Campus Pressbox podcast “2015 College Football Season Preview”, you heard my predictions on how I thought the season would transpire. Give it another listen and then swing back to The Quickie to see how things are shaking out around the country.

THE SEC

If there is one thing the East has taught us in the past, it is to not count our chickens before they hatch. Georgia appears to be cruising, but let’s face it, we’ve seen this before with the Dawgs. There is only one thing I’m confident in and that is if Georgia stumbles again Missouri will not be the beneficiary of the East crown.

Then there is the wild, wild, West. I don’t know who Kiffin is or isn’t sleeping with but what I do know is that Alabama does not appear to be invincible this year. After Ole Miss took it to the Crimson Tide, everyone assumed that they were the best team in the country by default. The Rebels may have some competition for the top spot in the West given how LSU and Texas A&M have performed.

THE ACC

Going into the season, I was all in with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets currently sit at 2-2 with a loss to Duke. In terms of that second tier of the ACC, the Yellowjackets will have some competition with Louisville. Louisville is 1-3 but only one of those losses came within the conference and perhaps the non-conference schedule has prepared them for the ACC haul…or maybe it hasn’t. One thing appears certain and that is that Florida St. just keeps on trucking. Maybe it’s because they are just that good or maybe it’s because the ACC is just a diluted conference.

THE BIG 12

I’ll be honest, it’s just so easy to pick on this conference. Just take your pick. There is the dumpster fire in Lawrence, the soap opera in Texas, and the bickering of Gary Patterson, Art Briles and Bob Stoops.

However, where it really matters appears to be a repeat of last season and that means that TCU and Baylor are sitting on top of the conference. Yes, it is true that TCU squeaked by Texas Tech, but a win is a win. Oklahoma St. may be a real contender, but until they play either TCU or Baylor, I’ll reserve my judgment on the Cowboys.

The PAC-12

Don’t let my affiliation with the SEC fool you, the PAC-12 is my boy. At least that’s what I suggested on the preview podcast. The conference has taken some heat for their collective on field performance but I do still think they are the best conference in the country.

Utah is just plain taking care of business and USC is still impressive to me even though they lost to Stanford. In this day and age of parity, a loss here and there doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to.

The PAC-12 also seems to be offering up this year’s Cinderella story. The California Bears are 4-0 behind the arm of Jared Goff. While I love the conference as a whole, I’m just not sold on the Bears yet. Yes, they are 4-0 but they have played nobody that has a legitimate pulse. They get to feast on Washington St. this weekend and then take on Utah. Check back with me after the Bears travel to Rice-Eccles Stadium. A win would make me a believer but so would a close loss.

THE BIG TEN

Hey, did you hear? Ohio St. has like 15 quarterbacks! Well, it’s not quite to that extreme, but the Buckeyes seem to have an on again, off again quarterback controversy. Urban Meyer is sticking with Cardale Jones but J.T. Barrett seems to be lurking in the background. Props to Meyer for having made a decision and sticking with it. But come on, with the talent tOSU has across the board, it doesn’t really matter who the quarterback is between the two options.

Michigan St. was my pick to win the conference and I suppose I’m sticking with that choice. However, like so many other teams around the country, they have had their ups and downs. Even with their shaky play at times, they do remain undefeated at 4-0.

Then there is the khaki wearing prince of Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh got off to an impressive start against Utah. True, the Wolverines lost that game, but only by seven points. Since that game one loss, Michigan has won their last three games by an average score of 31-5. The cherry on top of their three game win streak was a 31-0 shutout of BYU. As for that other division in The Big Ten, they might as well be the SEC East only more watered down.

The College Quickie: Strap on Your Seat-belt, It’s About to Get Wild

It’s about to get wild. What’s about to get wild, you ask? Everything about this college football season. We’re only a month in and the season has brought plenty of surprises. USC has lost, (ok not the most surprising thing) Oregon looks like an average football team, and Auburn fans would kill for their team to look average.

This whole thought was spawned by my recent viewing of the latest college football polls. Michigan State is number 2? How? Florida State is #11? Based on what? The fact that they won the title two years ago and went undefeated against a watered-down ACC in last year’s regular season? And then there was the real kicker of LSU. What has LSU done to deserve a Top 10 ranking? They’ve beaten Syracuse, the dumpster fire that is Auburn, and Mississippi State, who was picked by many to finish last in the SEC West and whose best win is by 8 points over said Auburn dumpster fire. I think that ranking has everything to do with Leonard Fournette more so than people actually thinking LSU is a really good football TEAM.

But bashing the pollsters is not what this is about, because then I looked at the entirety of the Top 25 and thought to myself, “I really can’t blame anyone for putting LSU in the Top 10.” The rest of the teams after that are uninspiring. Florida State and Clemson haven’t beaten anybody yet, Alabama lost at home and hasn’t looked great, A&M’s wins over Arizona State and Arkansas aren’t nearly as good as one would’ve imagined before the year started, USC already lost, and Northwestern? No thanks.

Even the teams in the Top 10 you find more questions than anything. Ohio State is as shaky a Number 1 as we’ve seen in a while. Michigan State’s best win is by 3 points over a team that just lost by 42 at home, and TCU is two weeks away from taking people from the stands to put out there on defense.

I can’t remember a time that there was this much uncertainty this early in the season. Every year for almost the last decade there has been a dominant number one team at this juncture (Alabama in ’10, ’12, ’13. LSU in ’11. Florida in ’09. USC in ’08) or really good teams almost everyone thought would make the playoff (Alabama and Oregon last year). You have to go back to 2007 to find this year’s level of uncertainty. At this same time that year, West Virginia, California, Rutgers, and Boston College were all ranked in the Top 12. 2007 finished as the year of complete insanity, with the #2 team changing every week near the end of the season and the likes of Missouri, Kansas, and West Virginia all controlling their own destiny at some point for a BCS spot.

Though this year may involve more “traditional powers” exchanging spots than that 2007 season did, my guess is we can expect similar chaos as the year goes on. And while all of this parity should make us appreciate having the four team playoff instead of a two-spot BCS Championship Game, you already know it will only fuel the fire for the many college football fans who long for a more numerous playoff structure.

The College Quickie: Judgment Calls

There are rules in football that are black and white – like grabbing a receiver to prevent him from catching a ball – and there are rules that officials should be able to use their best judgement. The ending of the Colorado and Hawaii game proved the latter. By rule, the clock only stops on first downs so officials can place the ball, then it starts immediately thereafter. I like this rule. A lot. What happened on Thursday between the two mentioned teams was unacceptable, and I don’t blame the officials or the two teams playing. I don’t blame the rules or even the rules committee.

It was clear to anyone who watched the end of the game live that the officials were doing their best to set the ball so Colorado could attempt a game-tying touchdown in the closing seconds of the game. It was also clear that a Hawaii player trying to get into position unintentionally hit the ball preventing the placement of the ball and Colorado’s final play.

“After a thorough review via the standard procedures of the Mountain West/CFO West infrastructure, it has been determined the MW officiating crew employed the appropriate mechanics on the final play of the Colorado at Hawaii game and were in no way deficient in the proper execution of their responsibilities,” the Mountain West said in a statement provided to ESPN. “There is also no evidence the Hawaii player intentionally interfered with the placement of the ball and thus no action by rule was warranted.”

Full stop.

This is where the common sense comes in. Keep reading, if you’re smart you know where I’m going with this.

The officials should be able to stop the clock properly to set the ball and immediately start the clock. No, we don’t need the help of replay and no neither team should be able to substitute. This is grey area and potentially highly unpopular.

Until this scenario plays out with your team on offense.

Or in December or January.

Imagine a scenario in the national championship game that’s similar to the one above. Imagine Ohio State is on offense and Alabama is on defense. Worse, imagine if a player does intentionally get in the way of the ball and by rule the officials can’t do anything about it?

The rule book is written in such a way that teams are supposed to be treated equally, but the book isn’t written to take all into account every scenario possible. In limited situations, officials should be given the ability to make judgments based on fairness and advantage/disadvantage. This grey area is exercised in almost every other football play.

Football officials are very good at determining if holding plays have an actual impact on the play because they’re allowed to exercise their judgement. They should be given the ability to exercise the same judgement in the above mentioned scenario as well.

Colorado and Hawaii aren’t nationally popular teams, but as I mentioned before, if this scenario had played out on national television, the reaction to the play would have been totally different.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damiEnbowman.

UCLA’s True Freshman Josh Rosen has an Impressive Beginning

With all the hype over the opening of college football this weekend, one thing I was impressed with was Josh Rosen, freshman quarterback for the UCLA Bruins. Rosen is the so-called “chosen one” by fans, coaches, and media, but he had not taken a snap behind center in college.

If Saturday was any indication, Rosen is heading towards a superstar career in Westwood. Now, it’s only one game, a small sample size, but what he showed the fans at The Rose Bowl stadium was nothing short of amazing for a freshman quarterback. It’s a long season, but nonetheless, the jaws dropping during yesterday’s game with Virginia were real.

While watching Rosen play one thing was impressive for the young QB. His presence and poise in the pocket. He showed a calmness about him that you just don’t see in a college football from a freshman player. I found myself feeling like I was watching a junior or senior quarterback at the Division 1 level. He stood tall in the pocket, and used every part of his 6’4 frame to throw over defenders, around defenders, and every once in a while he would burn a throw right through a defender.

Rosen has the fundamentals that a coach would kill for out of senior quarterback. His feet move smooth and are active in the pocket, his vision downfield was spectacular, his release was quick, and he showed incredible touch when he needed to. There wasn’t anything he could not do yesterday to leave a bad impression with fans, media, and coaches. Bruin Head Coach Jim Mora tried to temper thoughts after the game yesterday.

“Let’s do this, ok?” Mora stated as he pushed down, down, down on the air. “Ok?”

Mora is going to try and calm people down and not let everybody get absolutely nuts with their expectations for Rosen, especially after one game. Good luck with that coach.

Rosen was telling teammates that the game was slower than he thought, he was slapping high fives with teammates, slapping them on their back, and enjoying every moment of his high flying performance. His teammates are already impressed with the young quarterback.

Devin Fuller, who caught a bullet pass from Rosen for the quarterback’s first career passing touchdown said, “A couple of those throws, they were some ‘Wow’ throws.”

Thomas Duarte stated that “Sometimes we’re looking at each other like ok, how did he do that?” Duarte caught a 30 yard touchdown from Rosen during the game.

Offensive Coordinator, Noel Mazzone, was asked about what he learned about Rosen during the game. His answer was pure gold. “Yeah, make sure he’s in the huddle when we play.” If the head coach won’t say it, his offensive coordinator will speak for him and the other coaches with that statement.

Unbelievably, Mazzone ordered that the first pass AND first play of his Bruin career be a deep pass. What happened you ask? Oh, he just threw a perfect 55 yard strike over the shoulder to Kenneth Walker III, but he dropped it. Mazzone was sending a message to his quarterback and his receivers. I think the message was received by both.

“I thought I would get it out of the way…This is your first play in The Rose Bowl, I don’t think it ought to be handing off to somebody.” Noel Mazzone quipped after the game.

I did not see a player who looked like someone who is going to get rattled that much. At all. I heard some media member mention the “H” word. They talked about a Heisman Trophy for a kid who has only played one game. That is a possibility for him, but the bottom line for something like that is that UCLA has to win to be in the conversation.

Rosen himself was a bit put back by everything. “It was surreal. Really surreal.” Rosen said after the game.

Nicknamed “Chosen Rosen” by media and fans, he did give the fans hope for the future by completing 28-35 passes for 351 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Is this something that can be continued? Absolutely. Can it all go south on Rosen? Of course. I don’t see it going south on him. He appears to be that type of player that isn’t going to allow that to happen. One thing for sure is that his coaches won’t let it happen to him.

We shall see with week one’s star player. He’s certainly off to a phenomenal beginning, but like I said, it’s only week one. This season goes into December and January and that’s a long way off from the beginning of September. The Rosen ride will be exciting to watch, just be patient fans, he’s still only a freshman.

The College Quickie: Start Them Young

It is finally here. As I write this College Quickie, the 2015 college football season has finally kicked off. North Carolina vs. South Carolina is under way while TCU vs Minnesota and Michigan vs Utah are on deck.

The Campus Pressbox podcast provided an informative and entertaining preview podcast and The SEC 411 primed you for a great tailgate. Knowing who should be great and what to eat are just two components of a great season. It is also important to be surrounded by the right company.

Throughout my years of watching college football, I have been in the company of many people. I was a Marching Mizzou member for 3 infamous years. I attended numerous seasons worth of games with my best friend, have been accompanied to games with my wife (both ex and current) and have shared many game day experiences with the Campus Pressbox social media network.

I have many cherished memories going to games with all of those people, but my most memorable game mate was with my then five-year-old daughter. The common assumption is that a father shares his love of sports with his son. Well, I don’t have a son, but I do have two Mizzou loving daughters. Each of my daughters show their black and gold colors in their own unique ways.

My oldest daughter is someone who embraced the Missouri Tigers instantly. She could hold her own in a MIZ-ZOU cheer and she even trash talked her preschool teacher who was an Oklahoma fan…not that I would ever condone such a thing.

She quickly became my go-to person to watch the game on television with.  I would stretch out on the floor and she would sit on my back, pompoms in hand. So at the age of 5, I decided it was time to take her to her first game.

It was the first game of the year, in the blazing early September sun against Arkansas St…yes, Damien, the rivalry between Mizzou and Arkansas St. does indeed go back that far. We arrived at the stadium with our Tiger tail attached to our car and Tiger ears firmly planted on top of our heads. We sat in what I consider to be the best seats in the house, the south endzone.

This was a game where the temperature was over 100 degrees. All of the water in the world couldn’t have made it any more bearable and we only lasted 1 quarter. We made the trek back to our car and decided it was time for some lunch.

Aiming to provide her the full game day experience, we went to my favorite college hangout, the Old Heidelberg. Cheeseburgers, fries and lemonade were on the menu and we finished with some ice cream from Sparky’s.

That blazing sun that chased us from the stadium turned into a torrential down pour on our two-hour drive home. It became so bad that after hydro-plaining, we pulled off at the Oak Grove truck stop as she clutched her sparkly pink pillow.

It may not have been a full game and I can only assume that the Tigers won…I mean, it was Arkansas St. But you know what? This is one of the most memorable games that I have ever been to and it is still something that my daughter talks about to this day.

So as you kick this weekend off and fire up the grill, pay attention to the people you’re spending your time with. It may be more memorable than you could ever imagine.

Leave a comment below, follow Seth on Twitter @SMerenbloom or e-mail him at [email protected].

The College Quickie: College Football is Only Two Weeks Away

We’re two weeks from kicking off the 2015 college football season. Each conference’s media days are over, practices are coming to an end and the two-deeps are being tightened up around the country. It’s finally time to kick this thing off.

There are a handful of games on the opening weekend of this season that I will have my eye on. I’m not here to tell you who I think will win, rather I am here to tell you what interests me about these games.

Villonava at Connecticut; Thursday, September 3

Jay Wright going head-to-head with Kevin Ollie is a great way to start the year off. Oh, this isn’t an early heavy weight tilt in basketball? Because if it were, I’d be all in.

Connecticut had a decent program. From 1999-2010, Randy Edsall went 74-70 at UConn. Coach Edsall guided the Huskies to five bowl games including a 2010 appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall is now at Maryland where he’s becoming the Butch Jones of the Big Ten…you know, high profile recruits with low level win totals. As for this year’s UConn head coach, Bob Diaco went 2-10 last season and that 2010 Fiesta Bowl was the last post season action the Huskies have sniffed.

Coach Diaco will need this win because his next two games are against Army and Missouri.

TCU at Minnesota; Thursday, September 3

Both of these teams have the opportunity to prove something in this opening game between the Big 12 and Big Ten.

First of all, congratulations are in order for each of these teams. In this day and age of cream puff non-conference schedules and neutral site games, these teams rose above the fray. TCU plays Minnesota in Minnesota. Second, each of these teams has the chance to make statements and set the tone for 2015.

TCU probably feels a bit slighted for being left out of the playoff last year. If so, this is their opportunity to run over a quality team from a quality conference. Nothing would set the tone better for the Horned Frogs and their 2015 season.

As for Minnesota, they can lose and still set the tone for their season. The Gophers replace some key members of last year’s team. Coach Jerry Kill is as respected a coach as there is in the country and he has the opportunity to prove not only his coaching prowess but his recruiting prowess as well. If he has recruited well, replacing last season’s players should not be an issue.

If the Gophers win, the Big Ten as a whole just became much more interesting. And if they lose in competitive fashion then Wisconsin and Nebraska will have been put on alert in regards to the Big Ten West.

Texas at Notre Dame; Saturday, September 5

This is like Grandpa Simpson taking on Izzy Mandelbaum. Two well respected grandpas whose better days are arguably behind them yet they still think they can kick everyone’s ass.

Texas and Notre Dame have individually had some great seasons recently, but do you remember the last season that both Texas and Notre Dame were kings in the same season? You have to go all the way back to 1995. That was the year John Mackovic led the Longhorns to the Sugar Bowl and Lou Holtz led the Fighting Irish to the Orange Bowl.

This season, Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame team is considered to be a contender for the playoff. After all, they did finish 8-5 last year. As for Charlie Strong’s Texas team, they finished 6-7 last season, but expectations are still high in Austin. But then again, lots of things are high in Austin.

And to both Texas and Notre Dame, I have this to say: In the immortal words of Izzy Mandelbaum; It’s go time, butterbean.

Leave a comment below, follow Seth on Twitter @SMerenbloom or e-mail him at [email protected].

The College Quickie; Everett Golson, John Papuchis, Vernon Adams and the Minnesota Gophers

We all have our pet peeves. One of my pet peeves is top 10 lists that passively tell the reader what they are supposed to think about a particular topic. Without naming names, we’re all aware of who those sports sites are that are most guilty with publishing top 10 lists on what seems like a daily basis.

And with those proverbial cards laid out on the proverbial table, I have a list of my own to offer to you. What makes my list different is that its purpose is purely voyeuristic. This is an opportunity for you to learn what I will be paying attention to during the 2015 college football season. If your list is different, and I do hope that it is different, please post yours on my Twitter feed.

EVERETT GOLSON

Everett passed through South Bend, IN last season as he helped lead Notre Dame to a lack luster record of 8-5. While his statistics weren’t awful, he did leave fans with the perception of being a walking, breathing turnover machine. His performance against Arizona St fueled this perception as he threw 4 interceptions.

Golson decided to transfer for the 2015 season. After what seemed to be a 5 year decision process, Golson will play for Florida St this season. Yes, there is some irony to this when considering how the Notre Dame/FSU game ended in 2014.

At this point there is no guarantee that Golson will be named the starter for FSU, however, it is something that I will be keeping my eye on in 2015.

VERNON ADAMS

We’ve been glued to Adams’ transcript all summer waiting to see if he passed that final math assessment. See? They really ARE student athletes! Well, the young man passed his test and is the legitimate heir to Mariota’s thrown in Eugene, OR this fall.

Oregon is the king of aesthetic beauty (both in fashion sense and offensive style) while not really having won anything of substance. Adams will look runway ready in his Nike uniforms, but what about his ability to lead the Duck’s offense? Will the Ducks take a step back, maintain their current position or finally take that elusive step to a championship? Only time will tell and it is something that could hinge on the math wiz’s football skills.

THE JOHN PAPUCHIS EFFECT

Papuchis is the new linebacker coach at North Carolina after having spent the past 6 years with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. From 2012-2014, Papuchis served as the Husker’s Defensive Coordinator.

In 2014, the Husker’s defense ranked 53rd overall, 75th against the run and 32nd against the pass. His defense’s appeared to hold their own in the first half of games, but if you watched enough of their games, you knew that the opposition would run all over the Black shirts in the second half.
What I will be focused on this season is two-fold. The first being how will the Husker’s defense look without Papuchis and the second being how with North Carolina’s defense look with his influence?

MINNESOTA

Jerry Kill has led the Gophers since 2011 and is 25-26 overall. In that time period, he has guided the team to 3 bowl games. He certainly has the Gophers going in the right direction but it is time for the program to take that next step.

Minnesota plays in the Western Division so they do not have to deal with Ohio St or Michigan St for their divisional crown. In addition to this, both Wisconsin and Nebraska are breaking in new coaching staffs. The time is now for Jerry Kill to win his division and to play for the conference crown.

The Gophers are basically Tennessee, except they do not have the glare of the media’s spotlight. They may not have this luxury of anonymity if they played in one of the other Power 5 conferences. Their time is now.

Leave a comment below, follow Seth on Twitter @SMerenbloom or e-mail him at [email protected].

The College Quickie: Can Coaches Just Leave Notre Dame Alone?

The last few weeks brought us college football media days, also known as the time of year coaches say things they shouldn’t say. This year’s winners were Gary Pinkel and Dabo Swinney, with an honorable mention to San Diego State’s Rocky Long. Pinkel and Swinney chose to bemoan the fact that Notre Dame isn’t in a conference and plays only 12 games, implying that it’s easier for the Irish to make the playoff. If you want Notre Dame to be in a conference that’s fine, but at least come up with a good reason. Schedule difficulty is not one these two head coaches should be bringing up. To me Swinney and Pinkel seem to be complaining only because Notre Dame is a playoff contender this year and thus a threat to Clemson’s, and to a lesser extent Missouri’s, playoff chances.

The best part about these complaints is not just the what, but the specific schools the complaints are coming from. Swinney and Pinkel coach two of the teams with the easiest Power 5 schedules in the country. Notre Dame’s schedule is so strong that Mizzou and Clemson’s 2nd or 3rd toughest game would only be Notre Dame’s 5th toughest. If anything, Brian Kelly should’ve said Clemson has an easier path to the playoff by being in the ACC.

This all comes down to scheduling and how it affects college football playoff positioning. Many coaches argue that having an extra conference game, whether playing 9 in the regular season or 8 plus the conference championship game, is a disadvantage compared to schools who are independent or don’t have a conference championship (like the Big 12). In these cases I think the Pac-12 is the only conference that has a leg to stand on considering their schools have to play 9 regular season conference games in arguably the deepest conference in the country, topped off by the conference championship game.

While it would be nice if the Big 12 had a championship game, it really only hurts themselves as last year showed. Big 12 teams play just as many conference games as the Big 10, SEC, and ACC; who cares at what point of the season those games occur? If anything having that extra game gives you more of an advantage as an extra opportunity to prove yourself. It is just as likely to help put you over the top of a similarly ranked team as it is to hurt you.

Oh, but that’s right. Most schools aren’t into challenging themselves. They wanted a playoff so a champion could be proven on the field, but only proven once getting to the playoff. Don’t want to have to prove it through the first quarter of their season. It has gotten better with many marquee matchups being scheduled in the next decade, but there are still far too many cases of power programs playing FCS and bottom-of-the-barrel FBS teams for multiple non-conference games (See Georgia, Missouri, TCU, Baylor). I can understand coaches wanting one or two of these games to prepare their teams for conference play, but having that ability only opens the door for teams to schedule their way to 4-0 starts and unwarranted Top 25 rankings.

[Bowman: Constructing the Perfect Notre Dame Schedule]

My solution is to start having a pre-season game or two. It’s not exactly an uncommon opinion, but I can’t believe there hasn’t been more progress towards it. Also eliminate the ability to play FCS programs unless it is a pre-season game. The Sun Belt conference is terrible. It also has 11 teams but only plays 8 conference games. Why? Make them play 10 conference games, giving them a true round-robin to determine a champion and eliminating half the non-conference games that Power 5 teams can use as a warm-up against them. These two things would greatly diminish the number of opportunities for Power 5 schools to play garbage programs as easy non-conference wins.

These overall changes would help the college football landscape because it would increase the competitiveness of non-conference schedules and diminish the need for coaches to bash other school’s scheduling as being too easy. Maybe teams can take a page out of the scheduling playbook of Notre Dame, whose schedule includes only two teams from the bottom third of the 128 FBS teams in this year’s pre-season rankings (Massachusetts and Wake Forest). If Notre Dame can do it, why can’t everyone else? Oh I know why, with all of two bottom feeder games scheduled they have an unfair advantage. Just ask Gary Pinkel and Dabo Swinney.

Leave a comment below, follow Jason on Twitter @JLindy87 or e-mail him at [email protected].

The College Quickie: SEC West Sleeper

I’d be lying if I said I were an Arkansas Razorbacks fan, but as an objective observer of college football it’s easy to see the Razorbacks are the SEC West’s most interesting team in 2015. Their several near misses in 2014 and a lopsided 31-7 victory over Texas in the Texas Bowl give them the momentum they’ll need in arguably the toughest division in college football.

It’s easy to remember that I used to make fun of head coach Bret Bielema, but I had my mea culpa moment last season after they beat LSU on November 15. Well, the secret is out about the Razorbacks and faith is restored in a team that once had John L. Smith as their head coach.

What’s the 2015 outlook for the team? Positive. Vegas has them winning about 8.5 games, and if you’re an average dude like me, you know that you can’t win .5 games, so I’ll say eight and keep it moving.

Their schedule is not easy by any means, but the toughest stretch for the Razorbacks are the four games between September 26 and October 24. Home versus Texas A&M, away for Tennessee and Alabama, and finally home after a bye week versus Auburn. I’m not discounting their final four against Ole Miss, LSU, Mississippi State or Missouri, but if the earlier stretch is a disaster then the latter stretch is almost meaningless.

[Podcast: Campus Pressbox #12: Allegiance Therapy with Botica, Wilson and Bowman]

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Yes, I know three of the final four are versus division opponents. Win early and carry momentum and swagger to the last part of the season.

The key to Arkansas this season is quarterback Brandon Allen who will be starting his third season. I’m not the X’s and O’s guy, but this kid can pass, and as long as he’s passing to his team, he should be able to manage most games.

The ability of Arkansas’ defense to stop the run will be significantly important as well. Nearly every opponent on the 2015 Razorback schedule can run the ball really well, and despite the off-season defensive losses, the Razorback defense has to be good. Every play.

All this said, what’s the reality of Arkansas playing the true spoiler in the West and advancing to Atlanta?

Slim, but not none. So yes, there is hope.

I think the biggest hurdle is it’s defense. Replacing three solid starters won’t be easy at all. I won’t use the cheap out of blaming injuries, but they’re real and not to be ignored. Auburn and Ole Miss are also projected to win 8.5 games, and the Crimson Tide is projected to win the conference with an over/under of 9.5 games.

I’m not in agreement with Bleacher Reports Barrett Sallee that Arkansas will mirror the 2014 Ole Miss team that started hot and finished less than stellar. I do think Arkansas survives the September and October stretch I mentioned before by going 3-1 losing only to Alabama (sorry Bird).

Ultimately, I see Arkansas losing to Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU (Death Valley at night; don’t be stupid) and Missouri. Coin flip for the fifth loss between Tennessee and Mississippi State.