Tag Archives: Kevin Hogan

Ranking the Power 5 Conferences for 2016

The SEC has been running college football for about a decade now. When will it end? 2020? 2030? Never? It certainly doesn’t look to be anytime soon. Though the SEC went on a two-year championship drought, it still felt like it was the best conference overall. With Alabama winning it all in 2015, it stamped another year of SEC supremacy.

Even if no conference challenges the Southeastern Conference for the top spot in 2016, it is important to look at the perceived strength of the remaining conferences since it always gets talked about once the playoff rankings roll around.

2016 could be an interesting year because of the relative strengths of the Power 5 conferences. The past two years it was somewhat easy to have four conference champs in the playoff while leaving the fifth conference champ out. Looking forward to 2016, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the first year in the era of the college football playoff that we see two teams from the same conference make the four-team field. So with that, here is my ranking of the Power 5 conferences heading into 2016.

5. Big 12

The Big 12 is used to being picked on when it comes to conference rankings. Being the only Power 5 conference with just 10 teams and without a conference championship game certainly hasn’t helped matters. This offseason hasn’t exactly seen a lot go right for it either. The conference seemingly can’t decide whether it should expand or not, and in the end will probably have to do what Oklahoma and Texas want it to do anyway.

The conference’s on-field prospects don’t exactly look great heading into this fall either. Oklahoma will be ranked highly to start the year with Heisman hopeful Baker Mayfield returning under center after leading the Sooners to the playoff a year ago. Looming however is Oklahoma’s history of falling apart whenever it starts the year ranked highly. If it happens again this season, the conference may not have another team to fall back on to lead its charge.

Baylor looked to be the other contender for the conference, but with the recent off-field turmoil and dismissal of coach Art Briles it is difficult to expect much from the Bears. I wasn’t sure Baylor would make a run at a playoff spot to begin with and replacing the head coach three months before the season starts has only added to those doubts.

There are nothing but question marks among the rest of the teams. Oklahoma State had a nice season in 2015 on its way to a surprising ten wins but got blasted in its final two games against good competition. TCU has to replace Trevone Boykin at quarterback and WR Josh Doctson, who was picked in the first round. Then there’s Texas, who is in the vast group of former powerhouse programs that have to show something before we buy in again.

Being a top conference is largely based on the contenders at the top. I don’t see the Big 12 having that strength at the top or the depth to make up for it.

4. Pac-12

It certainly looks like the Pac-12’s opportunity has passed it by. A couple years ago the conference had gained enough steam where an argument could be made that it was the nation’s best. The past year and a half has seen a swift fall that culminated in the Pac-12 being left out of the college football playoff in 2015. It’s going to be tough for the conference to claw its way back up the conference rankings, at least in 2016.

There’s a decent chance the Pac-12 will be the only Power 5 conference to not have a team ranked in the pre-season Top 10. Stanford has to replace Kevin Hogan who, while not the most dynamic quarterback, has the most wins in Cardinal history. It is also hard to expect Christian McCaffrey to duplicate his historical 2015 season. They may be the favorite again, but they aren’t nearly in the same class as the Alabama/Michigan/Clemson’s of the world heading into this season.

The Cardinal’s main competition in the Pac-12 recently, the Oregon Ducks, will be trying to bounce back from their first season of under ten wins since 2007. They’ll have to do it with just five starters returning on defense and relying on another FCS transfer at quarterback.

Elsewhere in the conference you have USC which hasn’t been able to get back to national prominence, UCLA who has folded under the weight of pre-season expectations multiple times recently, and a group of average teams that were a disaster on defense a year ago (Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State).

The two teams that battle for the Apple Cup, Washington and Washington State, give the conference some hope in providing quality depth. The Huskies will be a popular sleeper pick to be the conference champion, and the Cougars Mike Leach-led offense will have a field day against Pac-12 defenses after ranking first nationally in passing a year ago.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the Pac-12 and a lot of that comes down to the unknowns behind center. The conference has just six returning starters at quarterback (all other Power 5 conferences have at least nine). The Pac-12 may not have elite level teams, but it still has some quality depth throughout the conference which is why I rank it ahead of the Big 12.

3. Big Ten

There isn’t nearly as much uncertainty in the Big Ten where Ohio State and Michigan may both be ranked in the top 10 to start the year, two teams that didn’t even play for the conference title in 2015. Michigan should challenge for a playoff spot and even with just six starters returning, anything less than double-digit wins would be a disappointment in Columbus.

Then we get to Michigan State and Iowa, the two teams that did play for the Big Ten Championship a year ago. Regardless of who they lost, the Spartans can’t be counted out after what they’ve done under Mark Dantonio. Aside from 2012, Sparty has notched at least 11 wins every year this decade. The Hawkeyes will be doubted again after being treated to much of the same throughout their surprise 2015 campaign, but I don’t think they should be. They should have one of the best defenses in the country led by future first-round cornerback Desmond King. That defense, along with a returning signal-caller and a solid running game, will keep them in each contest.

The difference when it comes to the Big Ten is that I believe the bottom of the conference is more of a disaster than the ACC, which is why I could only put it at three.

2. ACC

The ACC can thank Clemson for getting it out of the conference-rankings basement in recent years. The conference needed a team to step up to challenge Florida State on a yearly basis and the Tigers have done more than that. Clemson has reached SEC-level respect nationwide under Dabo Swinney as they are expected to be a contender every year no matter who they lose to the NFL.

This year they’ll have a tougher path in an Atlantic Coast Conference that may be as good as it has been in recent memory. The Seminoles have the look of a top 5 team with athletes all over the defense and every single starter returning on offense.

A large number of returning starters is a common theme among ACC teams in 2016. Eight of the conference’s 14 teams return at least 15 starters, and 11/14 have their starting quarterback returning (a nation high). While this doesn’t mean all of those teams will necessarily be good, it does mean a lot of those teams should be improved, increasing competition in the middle and bottom off the conference. Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest were at the bottom of the conference a year ago, but with 15+ starters back including the quarterback, should be less of a pushover than they were in 2015.

There’s also hope for the ACC in the tier below Florida State and Clemson. Louisville has eight starters back on a defense that was 18th in the country last year. If they can get consistency from an offense with 10 starters returning, they’ll be a dark horse in the conference.

The Coastal division should be a three-team race between UNC, Pitt, and Miami. The Tar Heels will be the favorite, but it’s hard to expect them to run away with it again if they repeat a defensive performance that left them 97th in the country in 2015. The Panthers return eight starters on each side of the ball after going 6-2 in conference play a year ago. Then there’s Miami, which could see improvement with new head coach Mark Richt and a quarterback that could be taken very highly in the 2017 NFL Draft.

1. SEC

Was there any doubt? As much as I’d like to see another conference take over the top spot, it’s hard to make that argument for 2016. After last year, it’s time for anyone (myself included) who doubted Alabama to stop expecting less than an SEC championship for the Tide. It’s better to just be surprised if it doesn’t happen.

LSU could be the team to overtake them this year. After a couple of disappointing seasons, the Tigers have the look of a championship contender once again. Everyone will point to the needed improvement at quarterback, which is surely necessary. Really though, it’s the defense that needs to get back to playing the way it used to. The Tigers’ run defense imploded last year during the team’s losses, but should revert to form with nine starters back and new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda on board.

Tennessee was looked at as a bit of a disappointment last year, but still went 9-4. This year they bring 17 starters back from that team, including a dynamic backfield in Josh Dobbs and Jalen Hurd. Along with Tennessee, Ole Miss could help give the SEC four pre-season Top 10 teams. Say what you want about pre-season polls, but they are generally about the most talented teams, and the SEC has more talent than anyone.

The talent discrepancy shows up among the second-tier of the SEC, where teams like Tennessee, Arkansas, and Ole Miss had dominating bowl wins over other Power 5 teams. Other conferences may have a couple teams as good as the SEC’s top teams, but it’s the quality of that middle tier that keeps the SEC on top.

Feature image courtesy Ken Lund

Pre-season Top 10 Teams That Could Disappoint

By the end of every season there are teams that have been huge disappointments. There always seem to be a couple teams that make us question the purpose of pre-season polls, teams that start the year in the top 10 but tumble their way out of it by the end of the year. Many times it’s teams that look to be on the upswing from the previous year, but haven’t actually had a one- or two-loss season to make them deserving of a top 10 ranking. Other times it is a much tougher schedule or unforeseen factors that result in a team not living up to expectations. Based on projected pre-season polls, these are the teams I believe are the most vulnerable that will likely start in the top 10.

Oklahoma Sooners

There are plenty of reasons the Sooners would be ranked high to kick off the 2016 season. They’re coming off an 11-2 season that ended with an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is returning as well as maybe the best backfield in the country with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. But much of this call is based on history. Oklahoma’s M.O. is that it does well when pre-season expectations are low (like 2015), but flames out when it begins a season in the top 10. If you’re looking for on the field reasons, the Sooners have to replace Mayfield’s security blanket with Sterling Shepard off to the NFL and the defense loses its best pass rushers. The Sooners also play arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation this year with games against Houston and Ohio State.

Michigan Wolverines

I don’t doubt that Jim Harbaugh will have the Wolverines competing for championships real soon, but it seems premature to have Michigan in the top 10 before the season even starts this year. Harbaugh is a great coach, but last year showed he just didn’t have the talent level to compete with the upper-echelon teams yet. The Wolverines lost at Utah to begin the 2015 season, were blown out by Ohio State, and their best win was probably..Northwestern? Harbaugh will get the most out of his talent and will have to work his QB magic with a new signal-caller. The Wolverines may win double-digit games, but with a schedule that includes road games against Michigan State, Iowa, and Ohio State, I wouldn’t expect a playoff appearance just yet.

Baylor Bears

Baylor had a fairly remarkable season when you consider the injuries it sustained at quarterback. Now that Seth Russell returns healthy, it could be other factors that derail the Bears season. The Bears lost a lot of key players on defense, including defensive linemen Shawn Oakman and Andrew Billings who could each be picked in the top couple rounds of the NFL Draft. The run defense could be an issue during a three-game stretch where the Bears play at Texas, home versus TCU, and at Oklahoma. It will leave Baylor having to outscore teams which has often the case over the past few years. The Bears will certainly have the skill position talent to do so, but only if there is enough room to work behind an offensive line that returns just one starter from a year ago.

Stanford Cardinal

It’s tough to put the Cardinal on this list, because they’ve been making prognosticators look bad and out-performing expectations for years now. They’ve become one of those teams you just expect to be good no matter what. A few years ago Stanford had to replace Andrew Luck, but was fortunate to have Kevin Hogan in line, who ended up winning 36 games as a Cardinal quarterback. Hogan certainly wasn’t the player Andrew Luck was, but it’s still difficult to assume you can just replace a QB who won that many games. It will help having Christian McCaffrey back, but we can expect at least some regression since it will be nearly impossible to repeat the once in a lifetime season the Cardinal running back had last year. The defense should be good, so the other part of this call is the schedule. It would be one thing if the new quarterback got to ease his way into the season. That won’t be the case. Stanford opens the year with Kansas State, then follows that up with three conference games, home versus USC, away at UCLA and Washington. If that wasn’t brutal enough, the Cardinal also have road games against Notre Dame, Arizona, and Oregon throughout the year. Stanford is unlikely to pull a USC and fall all the way out of the poll, but with that schedule it may be tough to stay in the top 10.

E-mail Jason at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JLindy87.

Featured image courtesy MGoBlog

Pac-12 Early Football Preview: Stanford Cardinal

Coming off of a 2015 season in which people questioned them after the very first game, the Stanford Cardinal turned a loss at Northwestern into motivation to get to the Rose Bowl Game, beating an outstanding Iowa Hawkeye team, and flirting with the idea of getting to College Football Playoff. Stanford has become one of those programs that people pay attention to now. The 2016 season should be an interesting one because there are some definite questions about the team, especially at quarterback. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the Cardinal.

Schedule

Last season the Stanford Cardinal had a schedule that worked out very well for them. They had many big games at home, such as Notre Dame, Oregon (loss), Washington, UCLA, and the Big Game with California. Plus the Pac-12 Championship game was at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, which is a short drive from campus. This season is an even year schedule and will be much different for Stanford and may provide more challenges for them.

The most important part of their schedule is right out the gate for the Cardinal. They begin with Kansas State, a Power 5 school who probably won’t be a pushover even though it’s a home game. Stanford gets their “bye” week after the Kansas State game. After the bye week, the Pac-12 gauntlet is right in front of them with games against USC (home), UCLA (away), Washington (away), Washington State (home), and they finally end this stretch with a game against non-conference opponent Notre Dame (away). All five of these games will set up Stanford for the rest of the year. To win the Pac-12 North division they need to beat the Washington schools for sure, but if they have designs on getting to the college football playoff, they need to beat all these schools in this stretch. Once they get past this gauntlet of teams, the schedule smooths out a little bit with the only reasonably tough game being against the Oregon Ducks in Eugene. Stanford certainly has its work cut out for it with the schedule. We will know how good they really are after that tough stretch in September-October.

Additions/Losses

Stanford, like many other Pac-12 schools will be dealing with plenty of player changes. The biggest one is obviously losing Kevin Hogan, quarterback for the last three years who won three conference championships. The experience that he brought to the team is immeasurable and hard to replace, so watching what the Cardinal do under center will be interesting. The heir apparent to Hogan is sophomore Keller Chryst, but that is only on paper right now. Things can definitely change through the spring and summer practices, so people will watching this closely as the season approaches.

The other changes that will be happening is on the offensive line. The Cardinals will have to replace their center, guard, and tackle. Fortunately for Stanford, this is where they excel in their recruiting practices, so finding talent to put on the offensive line should be fairly easy for them. The experience that Kyle Murphy, Josh Garnett, and Graham Shuler had is the part that will be tough to replace. Having a new quarterback, plus new offensive linemen could cause the team some early season issues until they become a cohesive unit.

Defensively, Stanford has a few spots to replace, but those names had some big names attached to them. Stanford has nine returning starters on defense, but the loss of Blake Martinez, Ronnie Harris, Brennan Scarlett, and Aziz Shittu will definitely be felt. Losing their defensive ends will be something to look at early in the year. Can they get edge pressure on the opposing quarterback in 2016? Watch and see.

Coaching

Being the coach at Stanford used to be looked at as a stop on the train to somewhere else for up-and-coming coaches. Not for Head Coach David Shaw who is a Stanford man to his core and has taken the reigns from Jim Harbaugh a few years back and ran with them. It’s one of the reasons why Stanford does have much turnover in its coaching staff year after year. 2016 is no different for Stanford. No changes on the coaching staff and that creates continuity throughout the program.

According to some experts David Shaw is a top 5 coach in both the college and professional ranks.

“Who could argue that he’s not one of the top five in all of football, including the NFL?” Pac-12 Network analyst Yogi Roth said. “He’s the most wanted man in college football.”

With the steadiness in the coaching staff, the culture for Stanford is strong and the credit for that starts with David Shaw. If the low coaching turnover continues for the Cardinal then the continued success for the football program will continue for years to come.

Final Analysis

Stanford will be in the mix for another Pac-12 Championship in 2016, however, with questions on the offensive and defensive lines, and at quarterback the outlook may be a bit more clouded than it has been in recent years. They do have nine returning defensive starters, seven returning offensive starters, and Heisman Trophy favorite Christian McCaffrey to help erase any doubt. I don’t know if they are a playoff team, but they are good enough to challenge for the conference title. If they get can get past the brutal part of their schedule things will possibly end up like they did in 2015. Let’s hope for that result if you are on The Farm.

Stanford Wins, But Will Come Up Short For the Playoff

Coming into the Pac-12 Championship Game Stanford had to make a statement to get some attention from the playoff committee. Did they do that on Saturday night? Maybe. It’s going to take some people in that playoff committee room that believe that a two-loss Stanford team is significantly better team than a one-loss Michigan State or Oklahoma.

My line of thinking on Stanford is that they do deserve some serious discussion in the playoff room. When you take a look at their resume it does stack up nicely against anybody who is ahead of them in the college football playoff rankings. The opening week loss against Northwestern and their mid-season loss to Oregon will look good on paper, but a loss is a loss is a loss. When you lose it never looks good to anybody and right now that Northwestern loss is sticking in the craw of the Stanford Cardinal team because if those two teams were to play right now, Stanford would destroy them, and it wouldn’t even be close.

Stanford became the team that we all thought they would be as the season went along after they had their self-respect handed to them by Northwestern. They took their frustrations out on Central Florida the next week and then went to Los Angeles to beat USC on the road. At the time, the Trojans were ranked number six in the country and were on a ton of lists about getting to the college football playoff. What did they do? They took the Trojans behind the woodshed and showed that talent and discipline trumps youth and athleticism.

That got the attention of a lot of people. However, I was not one of them. It disappointed me when they lost in week one, but it was only week one. I have trust in what David Shaw is doing with his Stanford program and over the course of the next six weeks the Cardinal was showing the nation who they were. Nobody really looks at Stanford as a team to be feared, but during this time, I’m sure many minds were changed on that line of thinking.

Oregon. The Ducks. This is one of those games that would determine if the Cardinal would continue on towards the college football playoff. The defense didn’t show up for Stanford and they lost a tough game by two points at home. From that moment on, getting to the playoff would be a tough proposition because they would need teams ranked higher than them to lose.

They took care of Notre Dame which helped their cause, but nobody else was losing. Coming into this weekend’s series of championship games, Stanford would have to have chaos ensue with an Alabama or Clemson losing their title games or maybe, just maybe Iowa losing or Michigan State struggling to win the Big10 title.

Would Stanford be a better playoff team than a Michigan State, even though Sparty has one loss? In my honest opinion, I think so. Michigan State needed a muffed punt by Michigan to escape and they had to hit a last second field goal to beat Ohio State. There wasn’t anybody of note that they just took and beat up on. Their big wins are more like escapes, not straight up wins where they dominated an equal opponent.

Now for a dose of reality because I don’t see the playoff committee putting a one-loss conference champion behind a two-loss conference champion. It just won’t happen no matter how much we Pac-12 fans would want to see it.

At the end of the day, Stanford did what they needed to do. They beat the Trojans fairly convincingly on Saturday night, but the help they needed didn’t materialize for them. What could the Stanford Cardinal do differently? We know the answer to that because it comes down to not losing games they should have won. What’s the most likely destination for the Cardinal? More than likely, they will end up in The Rose Bowl. It’s not a bad consolation prize for them, but it’s not what they want. This will provide plenty of incentive for Stanford going into 2016 and with Christian McCaffrey coming back, the possibilities are endless.

Five You Must See: Week 11

#2 Alababma (8-1) at #17 Mississippi State (7-2) Saturday 3:30pm on CBS

Alabama made a loud statement last week by shutting down LSU completely.  Mississippi State, who’s lost to those Tigers and the Aggies of A&M, has since rattled off four straight wins during the midseason lull in their schedule.  Winning here would give them, Ole Miss and LSU new life in the crowded SEC West race.

This game features two of my favorite offensive players in the country.  Alabama running back Derrick Henry, fresh off a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance, is finally getting some Heisman hype of his own.  Most everyone was focused on Leo Fournette this time last week, but by out-rushing the former frontrunner by 179 yards, Henry has shifted the attention to him.  It’s time for him to follow it up with another stellar game on the ground to let everyone know he’s for real.

On the other side, watch out for (who else) quarterback Dak Prescott.  He’s really the only hope the Bulldogs have in this game.  The senior leads his team in passing and rushing yards, and I’m sure he would lead in receiving too if they had someone who could throw it to him consistently.  He’s also been responsible for 25 touchdowns this season.  For his team to have a chance in this one, Prescott has to go off.

This is the best chance all you Alabama haters have to see the Tide slip up again.  Tune in to hear Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson on the call.

#21 Memphis (8-1) at #24 Houston (9-0) Saturday 7:00pm on ESPN 2

Memphis ruined any shot they had at the playoff by losing to Navy last week.  Meanwhile, Houston’s 20-point win over SMU was much closer than the score suggests.  This matchup will likely be a battle of two great junior quarterbacks.

Memphis’ Paxton Lynch is getting some mention as a top QB in this year’s draft class if he decides to declare.  It’s hard to argue that based on his body of work.  He’s one of eight guys in the country who’ve thrown for more than 3000 yards.  He’s ninth in completion percentage at 68.9.  And with 19 touchdowns on just two interceptions he takes care of the ball too.  A signature game in front of a national audience would validate his high draft stock.

Greg Ward Jr. is just as prolific, though his game is much different.  Ward is that dual-threat that we’ve seen open up the NFL to new possibilities.  At 70.4 percent, he ranks second in completion rate.  He’s the top rushing quarterback in the nation outside of Navy’s Keenan Reynolds who has an unfair advantage, running the triple option.  To average 92 yards per game on the ground as a QB is just sick.  The Tiger defense is going to have to keep a spy on Ward all night if they hope to hold him in check.

All of a sudden Memphis finds itself third in the division, needing a win here and a Navy loss to have a shot at the AAC West crown.  Houston, on the other hand, still has dreams of an undefeated season and a playoff spot.  This is easily the biggest game in the AAC’s brief history.

Oregon (6-3) at #7 Stanford (8-1) Saturday 7:30pm on Fox

Oregon is finally playing well.  They’ve won three in a row, but a fourth will be difficult.  Stanford is really good.

The Cardinal calling card has always been a stout defense.  Now that they’ve added offensive firepower to their arsenal they’re an absolute nightmare of an opponent.  They can, and will, pound you between the tackles with Christian McCaffrey who averages 134 yards per game.  That’s made life so much easier for Kevin Hogan who’s completing 66 percent of his passes now that most of them come off a play action fake.

The Ducks are finally getting the production they need from Vernon Adams, which is good news because they’re going to have to outscore the Cardinal to win this one.  In the last three games he’s thrown 10 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.  Like McCaffrey does for Hogan, Royce Freeman opens up opposing defenses for Adams.  The sophomore standout has rushed for at least 100 yards in seven of nine games this fall, with a pair of touchdowns in four of those seven.

It’s been a disappointing season for the Ducks but they’ve still got a chance to spoil Stanford’s playoff party plans.  There should be a fair amount of bad blood in Palo Alto.

#12 Oklahoma (8-1) at #6 Baylor (8-0) Saturday 8:00pm on ABC

The Baylor Bears have been waiting to prove themselves all season, but the Sooners have needed to prove themselves since taking a terrible loss to Texas.

This is the first of three gauntlet games that round out Oklahoma’s schedule.   They’ve got TCU coming to town next week and they’re headed to Stillwater for Bedlam against Oklahoma State in two weeks.  All three are huge obviously, but a loss here would significantly detract from the next two.  A quick note on quarterback Baker Mayfield: he’s completing 70 percent of his passes and averaging 10 yards per attempt.  That combination is astounding and needless to say, no one else is even close to that sort of production.

Baylor’s offensive machine is now operating with a backup quarterback.  Freshman Jarrett Stidham has the keys now after Seth Russell was injured two weeks ago.  He exceeded expectations last week against a formidable Kansas State defense.  He’ll need to be even better against hands down the best defense the Bears have seen all season.

Baylor also has a bumpy road ahead with trips to Oklahoma State and TCU, and a game against Texas on conference championship weekend that looks like the perfect opportunity to trip them up if they’re somehow still standing.  The odds are stacked against them, but that’s pretty much what they asked for.  Let’s see how they handle it.

Washington State (6-3) at #19 UCLA (7-2) Saturday 10:45pm on ESPN

Don’t pass out early.  The nightcap should be fun too.

Washington State has been entertaining this year.  At an astronomical 56.9 attempts and 417.3 yards a game, nobody throws it around the lot like the Cougars.  What else would you expect from a Mike Leach offense?  Luke Falk is another one of those guys completing passes at a 70 percent clip, but when you air it out 56 times a game it brings a whole new meaning to the stat.  UCLA’s defense has been banged up all season.  Falk and company will be aiming to take advantage.

UCLA is still alive despite back-to-back losses to Arizona State and Stanford.  They still control their own destiny with games at Utah and at USC after Wazoo.  Sure it’s tough to ask them to go out and win those last two, but that’s what championship teams do.

Josh Rosen has become a must-watch player for me.  He can make all the throws.  It’s clear he’s got the talent.  Now it’s a matter of him progressing as a quarterback, not just a thrower.  He has to learn how to diagnose defensive schemes and figure out how to consistently move his team down the field in order to take that next step.  I’m excited to see if he can do it.

Do the Bruins come out flat and fall on their faces again, or have they gotten their act together?  Stay up late to find out.

Stanford: The Story So Far

When the college football season first kicked off, it seemed that the Stanford Cardinal couldn’t break their routine of falling below the high expectations of the pre-season projections. The 16-6 loss at Northwestern would be responsible for the terrible “and 1” that burdens Stanford’s otherwise spotless record.

That loss started to become easier to cope with as Cardinal fans watched the Northwestern Wildcats shutout the Eastern Illinois Panthers 41-0 the following week, and did the same damage to Minnesota in week 5 as they claimed a 27-0 victory. However, the Wildcats got a taste of their own medicine when they were shut out by an ever-improving Michigan team, and enduring on-field embarrassment by the undefeated dark horse, Iowa Hawkeyes.

Stanford quarterback, Kevin Hogan, is in his fourth year as the starter for Cardinal. His physical composition (6’4, 218 lbs) is reminiscent of a freshman tight end, and football is in his blood. Hogan’s recently deceased father, Jerry, played football at Navy, and his uncles played at Stanford rival, Notre Dame.

Fans of the Cardinal have been hopeful for a championship since Hogan’s first chance to truly sink his cleats in the ground as the quarterback midway through the 2012 season in a game against the Colorado Buffaloes. That night, he completed 18 of 23 passes, including two touchdowns and threw not a single interception. His greatest victory of the night may have been his claiming of the starting quarterback position from Josh Nunes, who inherited the job from current Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck.

Going into the 2015 season, Hogan has been viewed as one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the FBS, only next to Connor Cook at Michigan State. However, this may very well be the first year of Hogan’s college career where his team is still in the conversation for the championship midway through the season.

Hogan’s failure to sweep college football fans off their feet could be attributed to many different things, not excluding personal issues last season. However, Stanford’s sophisticated offense is not only confusing for opposing defenses; it’s plausible that Hogan was well read but simply not poised in the kitchen-sink playbook. Nevertheless, while he was deemed a 3-star, pro-style quarterback recruit, Hogan adds a nice power read element to the mix. Despite the influx of some aggressive, Pac-12 defenses, head coach David Shaw knows that the leader of his offense is anything but fragile, additonally, coach seemingly holds no issue with Hogan reading an unblocked defender while he locks into his receiver.

Sep 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The takeaway from the 2015 season thus far is sizing up Hogan’s arm, which is not nearly as consistent as the quarterbacks he goes against in the Pac 12. Luckily, defenses seem to get so caught up in McCaffrey, that it’s easy for Hogan to find an opportunity run or shoot and get some first downs. The proof is in the pudding: Stanford leads their combined opponents 177-144 in first down conversions, and has out-rushed those same teams 1774(yds)-1029(yds). However, Stanford’s 2015 passing record, 1721 yards, is just shy of the 1788 yards that their opponents have completed against them.

Kevin Hogan’s best hope at success in the NFL will likely be most useful in a system that utilizes a running quarterback. Incidently, Sports Illustrated named former Stanford quarterback, Andrew Luck, as the NFL’s best running quarterback in 2014. Stanford quarterbacks coach, Tavita Pritchard, who also played the position at Stanford, is in his second season with that job description. Pep Hamilton, who held the position from 2011-2012, turned out Andrew Luck the year he elected for the NFL draft and joined Luck in Indianapolis as the offensive coordinator the following year.

The win versus Washington State this past weekend is the first game that the team has won by less than 10 points. The most comical spectacle was going into halftime with only scores by way of field goal on the board, as Washington State led with four of them, 12-3.

Stanford scored the game winning field goal late in the game, but Cardinal fans still have plenty of confidence in their polished, ever confusing offense. Stanford fans were outraged at the lack of utilization of Christian McCaffrey in 2014, who is now deeply routed in the Heisman conversation, in a year where he is one of five running backs with a shot at receiving the coveted trophy.

The other running back candidates are Dalvin Cook of Florida State, Derrick Henry of Alabama, Ezekiel Elliot of Ohio State and Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State, who has landed covers of both Sports Illustrated and ESPN magazine in the last month.

Never the less, McCaffrey is right on schedule in possibly breaking the NCAA single-season all-purpose yards record, currently held by Barry Sanders with 3,250 yards. He could very well hold the record by the time Stanford plays Notre Dame in their final regular game of the season, especially with the probability of him making plays against teams like the Colorado Buffaloes and the Oregon Ducks. The record was named by NFL.com as one of “Ten Unbreakable NCAA Records” this past summer.

The hopes of a Pac-12 team in the playoff most likely is in the hands of this team, and wins against Colorado, Oregon and California are easily in the cards. However, Cardinal must end the regular season in a face-off with Notre Dame, whose only loss is to Clemson.

E-mail Alexandra at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @AliLoffUC.

Five You Must See: Week Nine

North Carolina (6-1) at #23 Pittsburgh (6-1) Thursday 7:00 PM on ESPN

First place in the ACC Coastal division is on the line on Thursday night.  The biggest difference between these two teams is found in the time of possession.  Pittsburgh ranks fifteenth in the nation, holding the ball for 32 minutes and 49 seconds per game.  North Carolina, on the other hand, possesses the ball for a tick shy of 25 minutes per game.  Only Mississippi State and Hawaii rank lower.  What does that mean?  Well, clearly the Panthers like hanging onto the ball for the majority of the game, and apparently that doesn’t bother the Tarheels.

My x-factor for this close game is North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams.  If he plays well I like his team’s chances.  If not, I’m not sure they have enough around him to overcome such a formidable opponent.

USC (4-3) at Cal (5-2) Saturday 3:00 PM on Fox

College football is full of up’s and down’s.  You don’t need to tell these two teams.  The Trojans have had a puzzling season that’s been tough to predict from week to week.  They saved it last week with a big win over Utah.  The Bears’ last two times out have resulted in disappointing losses that have them in a similar position to USC last week.

UCLA exposed the Cal offensive line last Thursday.  With little time to sit in the pocket, Jared Goff was quieted relatively easily.  Look for the Trojans to blitz throughout the game in an attempt to keep Goff unsettled.  If the Cal offense isn’t scoring, they’re in trouble.  The Bear defense isn’t terrible, but I imagine they’ll have a hard time containing a USC offense that can put up points in bunches.

Georgia (5-2) at #11 Florida (6-1) Saturday 3:30 PM on CBS

As usual, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will go a long way in deciding who will represent the East division in the SEC championship game.  Florida holds that top spot now, but a loss here would see Georgia take it over.

I want to know if these teams are for real, especially Florida who played much better at LSU than I anticipated.  After this tilt both teams have two winnable conference games, a joke of a non-conference game, and a rivalry game against an ACC foe.  This is likely our last chance to see what the Gators and Bulldogs are really about.

Both have had a bye week to prepare.  Both have lost an important playmaker.  Florida quarterback Will Grier is suspended.  Unfortunately, Georgia running back Nick Chubb has become just another in a long list of future first-round draft picks to suffer a tragic injury.  Of the last eight matchups, each team has won four.  Tune in to find out who will control their own destiny going forward.

#9 Notre Dame (6-1) at #21 Temple (7-0) Saturday 8:00 PM on ABC

This is easily the biggest game in Temple football history.  It’s funny how at the beginning of the season we looked at this game as an easy win for the Irish, and now it’s turned into one of their tougher tests.

How have the Owls ascended to #21 in the nation so inconspicuously?  They play stout defense and haven’t come across a ranked team yet.  They give up 14.6 points per game, good for eighth in the country, sandwiched between Clemson and Ohio State.  They’re one of eleven teams that allow fewer than 100 rushing yards per game.  And they rush the passer well.  Their 23 sacks tie them for eleventh in that category.

That means it’s on DeShone Kizer to keep the Owls honest.  Kizer needs to be an accurate passer and scramble effectively when no one is open.  If he can consistently move the chains the Irish should triumph.  This atmosphere will be nuts and you’ll want to say you saw this game.

#8 Stanford (6-1) at Washington State (5-2) Saturday 10:30 PM on ESPN

You probably had to do a double take to make sure you read this matchup correctly.  Yes, with a win here Wazoo will take control of the Pac-12 North.  Surely, no one saw this coming when the Cougars opened the season by losing to Portland State.

Speaking of turning it around after a week one loss, how about Stanford?  The Cardinal lost to Northwestern in a game that seems like it was ages ago.  Since then they’ve been arguably the best team in college football, scoring 31 points or more every time out.  In that time, quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Christian McCaffrey have been a deadly combo that no team has been able to stop.

Washington State probably won’t either.  That’s not their game.  In true Mike Leach fashion, the Cougars will air it out in an attempt to roll up enough points that it won’t matter.  Luke Falk holds the keys to the nation’s second best passing attack that averages 415 yards through the air.  Falk’s numbers are mind-blowing.  He throws 55 passes per game, far more than anyone else.  That makes his FBS-leading 72.9 completion percentage that much more impressive.

The Cougars score 36.4 points per game.  The Cardinal put up 37.4.  Assuming the offenses are a wash, look for the Stanford defense to make the difference on Saturday night.

The Game of the Weak

Texas San Antonio (1-6) at North Texas (0-7) Saturday 7:00 PM

It’s the Roadrunners against the Mean Green in the battle for last place in C-USA.  This is the single greatest matchup of nicknames we’ve ever seen.  It gets no better than this.  Football wise, I’m not sure it gets worse.  Math is not my strong suit, but I believe I’m correct when saying these two have been collectively outscored 577-261 this season.  I’d go into more detail, but I think that tells you everything you need to know.  Sparingly, it doesn’t look like this game will be broadcast anywhere.

Five You Must See: Week Eight

#20 Cal (5-1) at UCLA (4-2) Thursday 9:00 PM on ESPN

To start off your weekend, flip over to this west coast battle between teams trying to bounce back.  Cal suffered a minor setback two weeks ago, turning the ball over six times and losing by six points at Utah.  You can bet Sonny Dykes used the Bears’ bye week to draw up some new schemes to throw at the Bruins.

After looking like the team to beat in September, UCLA is in danger of dropping their third straight if they’re not careful.  Injuries on defense are catching up to them quicker than they’d hoped.  The Bruins have lost a key member to each level of their defense, most notably linebacker Myles Jack who is no longer with the team because he has declared for the NFL draft.

Speaking of the draft, you’ll want to take advantage of a rare opportunity to see Cal quarterback Jared Goff.  Many are touting him as possibly the first QB taken this April.  Jim Mora had better find a way to get more out of his defense or Goff will take advantage.

UCLA needs a fast start to win this game.  Josh “chosen” Rosen has proven to be capable of a lot of things you wouldn’t expect from a true freshman quarterback.  Leading a comeback against a conference opponent is not one of those things.  If Cal scores the first two touchdowns they’ll probably run away with it.

Tennessee (3-3) at #8 Alabama (6-1) Saturday 3:30 PM on CBS

As I’ve said before, there aren’t many weekends where I’m not interested in the SEC on CBS game of the week.  Few things say fall quite like hearing Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson go back and forth, drooling over how impressive this guy and that guy are.  I watch because even the bad matchups are made entertaining by those two in the booth.  Unfortunately, we’ll have to rely on Verne and Gary this week as well.

(Photo: USA Today Sports)
(Photo: USA Today Sports)

Frankly, I’m not giving Tennessee much of a chance in this one.  Alabama is just too strong.  The Tide offensive line has been commanding the line of scrimmage since slipping up in the loss to Ole Miss.  Running back Derrick Henry has been the main beneficiary.  The workhorse is up over 900 yards on the season with 12 rushing touchdowns.  He averages over 20 carries per game, and at nearly six yards a pop that makes for a long day if you’re lined up on the other side.

We can’t discount the Vols’ resiliency though.  They’ve lost three games to Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas by a combined 12 points.  Last time out they were down 24-3 in the first half against Georgia, only to come storming back to win 38-31.  Quarterback Josh Dobbs leads his team by example.  The kid plays every down with a toughness that’s rarely seen in quarterbacks.  It’s refreshing to see, and he’s going to need it with the Bama defense chasing him around all afternoon.

Alabama needs a win to set up that epic showdown with LSU in two weeks.  First, let’s see how they handle a team with nothing to lose at this point.

#15 Texas A&M (5-1) at #24 Ole Miss (5-2) Saturday 7:00 PM on ESPN

Here we have another matchup of two teams coming off losses.  A&M was put in their place by Alabama in a game that was never really close.  Meanwhile, Ole Miss was beaten convincingly by a Memphis team that everyone had not taken seriously enough.

Interestingly, this will be the Aggies’ first true road game this season.  In retrospect, it’s easy to see that we all probably gave them a bit too much credit for their “neutral-site” win over Arizona State in the season opener.  That alone was enough to catapult them from unranked to #16.  Since then Kevin Sumlin’s squad hasn’t done anything more than we would have expected them to.  This is their opportunity to show everyone they’re for real this year.  I’m not sure they are.

The Rebels’ standout defensive end Robert Nkemdiche suffered a concussion while carrying the ball on offense last week.  Suddenly, people don’t seem to think it’s such a great idea for Hugh Freeze to be using one of his best players on both sides.  Nkemdiche’s availability this weekend is still in question.  Not having him in the lineup would be a huge blow to the Rebel defense.

These two seem pretty evenly matched so the game will come down to who can limit their own mistakes and capitalize on their opponents’.  We should be looking at a full sixty minutes here.

#3 Utah (6-0) at USC (3-3) Saturday 7:30 PM on Fox

USC has a lot going on right now.  Head coach Steve Sarkisian is long gone.  Athletic Director Pat Haden collapsed on the sideline before last Saturday’s game at Notre Dame.  Not to mention, the Trojans are staring their fourth loss right in the face with the powerful Utes coming to the Coliseum.

Utah might be the best overall team in the nation right now.  They’ve got an expert possession-style gameplan courtesy of head coach Kyle Whittingham.  And if you do happen to knock them off their game somehow, the Utes can handle it because there aren’t many things they don’t do well.

I’m looking forward to watching Cody Kessler, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson challenge Utah’s defense.  If those three can take advantage of the Utes’ one perceived weakness, their secondary, then this game will become much more interesting.

If not, we could see Utah make another big statement by blowing out a conference opponent on the road for the second time this fall.

Washington (3-3) at #10 Stanford (5-1) Saturday 10:30 PM on ESPN

The night cap should be a decent enough watch this week.  Even if it’s not, you’ll want to see this revitalized Stanford team.  Since losing to Northwestern to open the season, the Cardinal have scored 31, 41, 42, 55, and 56 points in their last five games, winning by an average of 22 points.  That’s wonderfully uncharacteristic for a team that’s used to handling opponents but only winning by two touchdowns.

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports)
(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports)

Quarterback Kevin Hogan is doing exactly what he needs to, completing easy passes (65.9% completion rate) and taking care of the ball (12-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio).  The rest is as simple as turning around and handing the ball off because running back Christian McCaffrey has been feasting on Pac-12 defenses.  In four conference games McCaffrey has yet to fail to reach 100 yards, rushing for 200+ twice.  Last Thursday against UCLA he racked up four touchdowns on the ground, averaging nearly 10 yards while carrying the ball 25 times.  I’ll be shocked if the Cardinal don’t keep feeding him.

Washington may look like a pushover, but like Tennessee, they make for entertaining games by keeping themselves within striking distance.  The Huskies have lost to Boise State, Cal and Oregon by a combined 15 points.  They don’t stop the run or the pass exceptionally well.  They just keep their opponents out of the endzone.  U-Dub comes into this one ranked sixteenth in scoring defense, allowing just 16.8 points per game.

Washington might be the only Pac-12 team left on Stanford’s schedule that can stop this sudden offensive explosion.  I never thought I’d say this, but the higher the score is the more I like Stanford here.

Game of the Weak

Troy (1-5) at New Mexico State (0-6)

Big shoutout to Aaron Creguer for suggesting that I feature this atrocious matchup in a new “Game of the Weak” segment that will highlight the worst game on the schedule each week.

These two abominable programs have accounted for just a single win this fall.  That one came when Troy beat up on Charleston Southern of the FCS.  The Trojans have played in some tough road games, travelling to NC State, Wisconsin and Mississippi State.  But, it doesn’t seem to have done them much good since they’ve dropped games to South Alabama and Idaho as well.

New Mexico State, for my money, is the worst team in the FBS.  The Aggies have collected two SEC paychecks for getting embarrassed by Florida and Ole Miss.  They’ve lost to Georgia State and Georgia Southern, a feat that I can’t imagine any FBS team has ever accomplished.  And they’ve already chalked up an L next to their biggest game against rival New Mexico.

If for some reason you’re interested in watching this futility you can stream the game on the Watch ESPN app Saturday night at 8:00pm.

Campus Pressbox 29: Notre Dame Mid-Season Update

Ben Belden (@BBeldenCLE) joins Damien Bowman (@damienbowman) to talk about Notre Dame. Ben questions some of Brian Kelly’s decision-making, but backs him on his decision to go for two against Clemson a few weeks ago. He speculate on how soon Urban Meyer can move to South Bend. Stanford, Kevin Hogan and Everett Golson also appear. Michigan Wolverines cameo included.

Topics:

  • Brian Kelly
  • Urban Meyer
  • Notre Dame vs. Clemson
  • Notre Dame 2015 Expectations
  • Notre Dame, TCU and Bayor – easiest path to the playoff?
  • Notre Dame vs. Stanford
  • Kevin Hogan
  • Everett Golson/Florida State
  • Notre Dame/Michigan Rivalry

Links:

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Five You Must See: Week 7

#18 UCLA (4-1) at #15 Stanford (4-1) Thursday at 10:30 PM on ESPN

It’s rare to have a game featuring two teams coming off their bye week, but that’s exactly what we’ve got here.  UCLA badly needed that week off to get healthy and regroup after taking their first loss of the season two weeks ago against Arizona State.  Last time we saw Stanford they were pounding Arizona back into their place and looking more like the team we expect them to be.

I’ll be interested to see how the Bruins plan to stop a Cardinal offense that is unlike any other in the conference.  Being able to run the ball consistently with Christian McCaffrey and Barry Sanders (not THE, but his son) has made life much easier for Kevin Hogan whose completion rate is north of 67 percent.

The Bruins have a whole fleet of backs led by Paul Perkins, whose reliability has been a stabilizer for freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.  The kid came out guns blazing, looking like he was ready to set the world on fire, but has since reminded us that he is less than a year removed from playing high school football.

Tune in to find out which Pac-12 contender will be the first to take its second loss this season.  It’s something to watch late Thursday night, and Fridays seem to take care of themselves anyway.

#17 Iowa (6-0) at #20 Northwestern (5-1) Saturday at 12:00 PM on ABC / ESPN2

(Photo: Leon Halip / Getty Images)
(Photo: Leon Halip / Getty Images)

You’re going to turn this game on for three main reasons.  First of all, like me, you probably haven’t seen Iowa play yet.  And why would we have?  Kirk Ferentz never has what you’d consider an exciting team.  But every few years his Hawkeyes rattle off a bunch of wins and end up factoring into the Big Ten discussion.  This is starting to look like one of those seasons and a second win over a ranked conference opponent would obviously boost their resume.

Secondly, you’ll want to see how Northwestern rebounds from getting shutout by Michigan last week.  The Wildcats’ hopes were high just a week ago, but the 38-0 drubbing sent them crashing back down to earth even faster than you’d expect.  This game is crucial for their morale going forward.

Lastly, as is often the case, there is no better option in the noon timeslot.  I mean, sure, you could watch Baylor roll up another 50-spot, or witness Florida State’s weekly routine of squeaking by an inferior ACC opponent, but those games aren’t real football.  What you need is a hearty helping of Big Ten football, and lucky for you we’ve got that on tap.

#10 Alabama (5-1) at #9 Texas A&M (5-0) Saturday at 3:30 PM on CBS

This game, like so many others, will be won, or lost, in the trenches.  The offensive lines will have to lead the way and here’s why:

Alabama needs to run the ball in order to move down the field consistently.  Derrick Henry is a tank of a running back with a nose for the goal line, having rushed for at least one touchdown in each of the Tide’s six games.  However, most of his big runs come on plays where his offensive line opens up a canyon for him to rumble through.  If that doesn’t happen enough and Alabama has to rely on Jake Coker to convert third and longs, it could be a long day.

(Photo: AP Photo / Bob Levey)
(Photo: AP Photo / Bob Levey)

That’s because one of the nation’s top pass rushes will be lined up on the other side.  Can’t-miss NFL prospect Myles Garrett already has 7.5 sacks on the young season.  He’s the type of player you have to gameplan around or you’ll pay for it.

On the other side, A&M needs to figure out how to occupy the Alabama front seven which has allowed fewer than 78 yards rushing per game, good for fourth in the country.  My guess is that quarterback Kyle Allen, whose shown flashes of being a capable runner, will have an increased role in the rushing attack for the Aggies.

Settle in.  This is going to be quite the clash of SEC titans.

#7 Michigan State (6-0) at #12 Michigan (5-1) Saturday at 3:30 PM on ESPN

You like defense?  Good, cause that’s what we’ve got in the great state of Michigan.  The Wolverines are led by their corners.  Jeremy Clark has three interceptions already.  And Jourdan Lewis, who’s near the top of the leaderboard in passes defended, has a couple picks of his own.  These two have been Michigan’s best players.  They’ve kept opposing receivers on complete lockdown which has allowed the safeties and linebackers to step up and fill the holes to stop the run.  This, more than anything else, has been the key to the Wolverines’ success.

Interestingly, Jim Harbaugh seems to be testing out the same formula the Spartans have been working on perfecting for years now.  Nobody was better at single man coverage with no help over the top than State was the past several years.  Now, whether it’s related to Pat Narduzzi’s departure or not, I don’t know.  But the Spartans are struggling a bit with continuing that tradition.  When they get beat, it’s the corners who’ve failed.  It’s not exactly fair because they’re asked to do the bulk of the work, but that’s the system they play.

Shilique Calhoun has five sacks and is another pass rusher you’ll see playing on Sundays soon enough.  There are only a handful of guys in the country who have racked up more tackles than junior linebacker Riley Bullough so far this fall.  The rest of the defense is still just as ferocious as it’s always been under Mark Dantonio.

So, what’s going to break this game open?  Quarterback play.  Connor Cook and Jake Rudock are going to have to challenge those corners when they see the defense setting up in single man coverage.  Whichever one is more successful doing so will provide his team with a distinct advantage.  You do not want to miss this sibling rivalry.

#8 Florida (6-0) at #6 LSU (5-0) Saturday at 7:00 PM on ESPN

All of a sudden Florida’s promising season is up in the air.  This week the Gators found out they will be without their quarterback Will Grier for a calendar year due to a failed drug test that found some kind of NCAA-banned substance.  There are still questions about whether or not Grier knowingly took this PED, but frankly it doesn’t matter we’re here to talk about the game.

Thankfully, the Gator defense is still intact.  They’ll need to step up and carry an even bigger load now.  Charged with the task of slowing Heisman front-runner Leonard Fournette, that’s the last thing the Gator defense needed to hear.  At 14.3 points per game, Florida ranks eleventh in the nation in scoring defense.  Staying true to that mark will be essential to winning this game.

(Photo: Getty Images Sport)
(Photo: Getty Images Sport)

You really can’t say enough about what Fournette has done in five games.  He’s tied for the FBS-lead in rushing scores with 12.  The sophomore (that’s right he’s got one more year before hitting the NFL) has run for almost 150 more yards than anyone else in the country despite playing one less game.  Fournette is averaging 204 yards on the ground per game.  I’ll repeat that.  He is averaging 204 yards per game.  That’s superhuman.  The dude has been incredibly fun to watch and I can’t wait to see how he does against the best defense the Tigers have come across this fall.

LSU loves playing at home in primetime.  For some reason the team gets a major boost when the lights are on.  Florida certainly has their work cut out for them here, but I would not count them out.

Basically, this is as good as it gets in college football.  We’ve got two top ten teams set to beat the tar out of each other until one of them breaks.  As Mike Wilson would say, “Get your popcorn ready.”

The “Better as a Basketball Game” of the Week

Purdue (1-5) at Wisconsin (4-2) Saturday at 12:00 PM on Big Ten Network

You don’t want to watch this game do you?  I didn’t think so.  Wisconsin isn’t a bad team, but they’re not as good as they have been in recent years.  At this point, I think the Badgers are better hoopers than they are footballers.  Purdue, on the other hand, is miserable on the gridiron so their basketball team has no choice but to be better.  Don’t worry Boilermaker fans; it’s almost time to tip-off your favorite season.  Until then, enjoy getting bowled over on a weekly basis.