Tag Archives: Miami Hurricanes

College Football Midterms

In college football, you either win or lose.  There are no letter grades.  You can try to put degrees on performances, but when it comes down to it, you pass or you fail.  This past weekend marked the halfway point for most teams as they played their sixth game of the season.

Let’s see who passed the test and who still has some studying to do.

Pass

Alabama – We don’t make a big deal about the Tide’s more impressive wins because we’re so used to them by now.   Until proven otherwise, this is still the best team going.  Saban’s big, bad Bama boys showed us why with a three-score road win over a ranked conference opponent.

Ohio State – The Buckeyes also earned a three-score victory over a conference opponent.  Indiana certainly isn’t on Arkansas’ level, but Ohio State doesn’t really need good wins.  At this point, just keep winning and you’ll be where you want to be.  The Buckeyes are.

Clemson – After a huge win like the one over Louisville two weeks ago, you need to avoid that hangover loss we often see from top teams.  The Tigers quickly shutdown any chance of that happening Friday night in Boston.

Michigan – I don’t care who you are.  I don’t care who the other team is.  Scoring 11 touchdowns on a conference opponent in their own barn is commendable.  Oh, and the Wolverines pitched a shutout, too.

Washington – Saturday night was duck season and it got quite ugly for those defenseless “Web Foots.”  In the last two weeks, the Huskies have embarrassed the two teams that have been dominating the Pac-12 North division for years.  Quickly, a team we didn’t know much about has legitimized its claim as a Playoff contender.

Texas A&M – A 21-point fourth quarter from Tennessee forced overtime, but finally the magic ran out.  Kevin Sumlin’s team now has three wins over ranked opponents.  Next is a date at Alabama, with A&M idle this week.

Fail

Houston – It’s tough to play with a target on your back, especially when you’re used to being the hunter, not the hunted.  The Cougars learned that by falling to the Navy Midshipmen, effectively ending their possible run to the Playoff.  Suddenly, Houston is in a position where it needs help just to have a shot at winning its division.

Tennessee – Let’s be honest.  It was a bit of a mini-miracle that the Vols had remained undefeated for as long as they did.  The furious comeback wasn’t quite enough and now the battle for the SEC East gets interesting.

Miami – As far as the most excruciating ways to lose a football game are concerned, this has to rank quite high.  I have been saying Mark Richt needs some time with his Hurricanes before they become real players in the ACC.  This loss proves my point.  They’re just not ready to be that good yet.

Stanford – Yikes.  Getting stomped by Washington on the road is one thing.  Getting rolled by Washington State at home is another entirely.  Clearly, the Cardinal is done-zo.

Failing the midterm exam doesn’t necessarily kill your semester, but it sure does make the latter half less fun.  Passing, on the other hand, allows you to focus on just taking care of your business, letting everything else take care of itself.  Such is now the task for the Tide, Buckeyes, Tigers, Wolverines, Huskies and Aggies.

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

Photo: Wikipedia

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The Sunday Morning Notebook – Tennessee Has Run Out of Magic

Another great week of college football is in the books, with the exception of Georgia-South Carolina and Florida-LSU.

Enjoy a recap of some of the big games and great moments. 

Comeback Number Five, Loss Number One

Tennessee has played five games this season. In four of them, it has trailed at some point by double-digits. Yesterday, Texas A&M became the first team to beat the Volunteers this season. However, the Aggies didn’t hold the lead, which reached 21 points in the third quarter. It even took two overtimes to put an end to Tennessee’s unbelievable streak of luck.

Just like last week, it took some late magic to help Tennessee push the game into overtime.  Perhaps it was less magic and more luck.  Either way, it was a wild evening in College Station, TX.

Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, arguably one of the most electric players in the nation, put the Aggies ahead, 35-21, with 3:22 left in the game on a 62- yard touchdown run. The term generally used to describe a score like that, in that particular situation, is “nail in the coffin”.

Not so fast, my friend

On the ensuing possession, Vols’ quarterback Josh Dobbs led Tennessee down the field and into the end zone in just a minute and 15 seconds to get within a touchdown.

15 seconds had run off the clock before Aggies’ RB Trayveon Williams delivered a play that should have warranted another cliché.  This time “that’s a dagger” comes to mind. Williams sped through the defense and down the field for 72-and-a-half yards, but UT’s Malik Foreman caught him from behind and knocked the ball loose and into the end zone for a touchback.  Vols’ ball, 1:49 left to play.

With that kind of momentum on its side, there was no way Tennessee wasn’t going to tie the game, and it did just that on Alvin Kamara’s third touchdown of the game.

What’s more, the A&M kicker missed a 38-yard game-winning field goal attempt with eight seconds left in the game.

It took two overtimes before Dobbs threw an interception (Tennessee’s seventh turnover of the game) that ended Tennessee’s magical journey through the first six weeks of the season.

Notes:

  • Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara rushed for 127 yards and caught eight passes for 161 more. That was huge for Tennessee as it was missing top rusher Jalen Hurd.
  • Dobbs threw two interceptions this week. He leads the SEC in interceptions this season.
  • Knight rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season.  He’s currently one of the top-10 rushers in the SEC. The last SEC quarterback to finish as a top-10 rusher was Dak Prescott in 2014.

A Shootout, Indeed

Rivalry games are fun. Especially the Red River Shootout, which takes place every year in the midst of the Texas State Fair.

This particular Shootout had massive implications.  Whispers regarding the future of both head coaches, Charlie Strong for Texas and Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, could be heard throughout many circles during the last few weeks.

The result all but guarantees Strong’s departure at the end of the season, as Oklahoma held on for a 45-40 victory at the Cotton Bowl.  However, we can save the coaching discussion for another time.

The story of the game was Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook. Before yesterday, Texas hadn’t given up 100 yards to a single receiver all season, despite giving up the third-most passing yards per game in the Big 12. Westbrook ended the night with 10 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns in one of the best receiving performances in college football this season.

Notes:

  • Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine had quite a day, racking up 214 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Sooners. 232 yards is the third-highest total of Perine’s career and the most since the famous Kansas game in 2014.
  • It’s not likely that Oklahoma makes the College Football Playoff, but the Sooners should still be the favorite to win the Big 12 championship.  All eyes will be on the Baylor game on November 12.

Hurricane Jimbo

Jimbo Fisher has never lost to Miami as the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles. Last night may have been the closest and lowest scoring game they’ve played against each other in ten years, but thanks to DeMarcus Walker’s blocked extra point with 1:38 left, the Seminoles notched their seventh win in a row over their in-state rival, 20-19.

Notes:

  • Deondre Francois looked terrific. The true freshman passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Francois has been solid all season, passing for nine touchdowns and only two interceptions so far.
  • Heisman hopeful Dalvin Cook moved his consecutive 100-yard game streak to three. Cook rushed for 150 yards but no touchdowns.
  • There are only three weeks until Florida State hosts Clemson.  Florida State is really the only tough matchup left on Clemson’s schedule before the ACC Championship game.

 

Quick Notes:

-Houston will not make the Playoff after losing to Navy 46-40. I’d also be surprised if it beats Louisville.

-Stanford is not a top-25 team.

-As a former offensive lineman, this play makes me happy. Watch how fast that guy is.

-Ohio State is the best team in the country.

-Washington is really, really good.

-In case you missed it, Rutgers only amassed 39 total yards of offense against Michigan.

E-mail Evan at or follow him on Twitter @skilliter.

Photo: StuSeeger, Flickr

College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 5

Welcome back to the 5th hebdomadal publication of the Campus Pressbox 2016 Playoff Rankings. As always, the previous rankings can be found here.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

Week five brought what may have been the least impressive victory thus far for the Crimson Tide. Alabama only managed to beat Kentucky by 28 points…so yeah, that’s its worst win this season. ‘Bama still remains the top team in the country, but with three top 20 teams on the docket (plus LSU) before the end of the month, Paul Finebaum’s analysis may be spot on.

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

Honestly, I wish I could have titled Ohio State’s No. 2 Ranking as No. 1B, as the Buckeyes are not quite at the level of the Crimson Tide, Ohio State’s season up until now has been worthy of more than the No. 2 spot that the Buckeyes continue to hold. This weekend, the Buckeyes host Indiana, who continues to improve, culminating with a home upset of Michigan State last week. Ohio State cannot afford to be caught off-guard, as the Hoosiers will certainly be looking for the upset.

  1. Clemson Tigers (4)

This was the college football world’s reaction to Clemson’s victory over Louisville Saturday night. Though it wasn’t a flawless victory, it was the one the Tigers needed. The team that so many of us had picked to do well finally came back to full form. Clemson may finally be the team we all expected it to be, and I am predicting Clemson to come out and drub Boston College this weekend. The path is now clear for the Tigers to waltz into the College Football Playoffs.

  1. Washington Huskies (10)

The King is dead, long live the King! Washington dethroned Stanford (and especially Christian McCaffrey) on Saturday. The Huskies proved how dominant its defense is when it shut down the single most impressive player in the NCAA. If Washington keeps up its winning ways, and doesn’t lose more than a single game, it would be hard for anyone else to nab the 4th spot in the CFP. That is, of course, if the Huskies can survive staring at these for three hours on Saturday

  1. Michigan Wolverines (6)

And somehow, despite a win over a top 10 Wisconsin Badgers team, Michigan is still on the outside looking in at the rest of the Playoff teams. Most of this has to do with the fact that the Wolverines have been playing second fiddle all season in the Big Ten, as Ohio State has refused to give up the reigns. It’s very safe to say, unless chaos ensues, since Wisconsin, Michigan State and Iowa have all been seemingly eliminated from contention, that the Wolverines and Buckeyes clash the last week of the season will determine which Big Ten school makes it to the Playoff. Terrell, you can handle this one.

  1. Houston Cougars (5)

Ahh, the poor Houston Cougars. The now forgotten child of the Playoff race. After gaining everyone’s attention in week one, monster win after monster win hasn’t been enough to stop everyone from ignoring the sixth-ranked Cougars once again. If Houston wants to side step its way into the Playoff, a lot needs to happen. The Cougars also cannot afford to be fighting one another. For now, Houston continues to be a long shot.

  1. Texas A&M Aggies (8)

The Aggies suffered slightly from “September Sumlin” on the first day of October, as A&M struggled a bit more than it should have against South Carolina. In a crowded SEC West, it is still hard to see anyone other than Alabama winning.  The Aggies also need to do its best to fight off the injury bug that has started to plague the team. However, a strong win against Tennessee this week would certainly improve the morale going into the make or break game for the Aggies, a visit to Tuscaloosa.

  1. Louisville Cardinals (3)

I’m going to be honest. I’m still sitting here yelling at my screen anytime I try to re-watch the final play (courtesy of SB Nation) of the Cardinals loss at Clemson. I don’t necessarily blame James Quick, but come on, really? JUST TAKE ANOTHER STEP, FOR GOODNESS SAKE. …sorry about that. Anyway, Louisville still honestly has a chance at the Playoffs. Just like a lot of teams on this list, the Cardinals do need a good number of breaks, but if Louisville can win in Houston week 11, there may still be a chance for (still) Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson and his Cardinals.

  1. Tennessee Volunteers

So the Volunteers are officially this years version of the 2013 Auburn Tigers, right? If that’s true, and the wacky ending to the Georgia game seems to suggest that’s the case, the Volunteers may have an actual chance of getting out of the Alabama game in two weeks without a loss. Though that certainly would seem a miracle, after the Georgia game, I feel that I’ve lost my right to doubt the Vols.

  1. Miami Hurricanes

The U is back!…pending the next three weeks of football. Many, including myself, certainly want to believe that the Mark Richt lead Hurricanes are finally back to full force, but until its matchups against Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, it is not a sure thing for the ‘Canes. This next stretch is certainly the most important of Mark Richt’s young tenure at the U. Right now, Miami is a growing tropical disturbance, time will tell if this one will become a hurricane.

Drop Outs & Honorable Mentions

Wisconsin and Stanford unsurprisingly and unceremoniously dropped off this weeks list following losses to Michigan and Washington respectively. Miami fought off the aforementioned Badgers, as well as Nebraska and Baylor, in order to grab the No. 10 spot this week. All four teams, including the Hurricanes, are volatile, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a new team in at No. 10 next week.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.
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College Football Playoff Rankings: Week 4

Welcome back to the fourth week of Campus Pressbox’s College Football Playoff rankings. Check out the previous rankings here.

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide (1)

In a result that surprised no one, the Crimson Tide blew out Kent State by the tune of 48-0. There isn’t a whole lot to discuss regarding this win, to be honest, as Alabama did exactly what it was supposed to do against one of the worst teams in College Football right now. Other than a handful of injuries, this game was nothing to write home about. Frankly, last week was pretty much a bye week and with Kentucky this week, Alabama should be safe. Any fluctuations with the play out of Nick Saban’s squad would be a shock. Alabama remains a lock for the College Football Playoff, though Tennessee and Texas A&M continue to gain ground in the SEC.

  1. The Ohio State Buckeyes (2)

The Buckeyes were off last week after winning big against the Oklahoma Sooners two weeks ago. The Buckeyes only have to beat out Rutgers this weekend, a game between the best and worst team (that just lost key players to injury) in the Big Ten. Just like Alabama, seeing anything other than a blowout would be troubling and could hurt the Buckeyes’ CFP hopes. However, it looks like Ohio State is really taking its time with its game prep this week. As things stand now, the Buckeyes are a lock for the Playoff.

  1. Louisville Cardinals (3)

Louisville (unsurprisingly) continued to impress the college football world with a 31-point win over Marshall. Though Lamar Jackson never seems content with his own performances, everyone else is, and Jackson continues to be the Heisman front-runner by a very wide margin. Louisville travels to Clemson this weekend in what is probably the game of the weekend. This is another tough test, but if their demolition of Florida State showed us one thing, it’s that we should never underestimate the Cardinals. If the Cardinals manage a win this weekend, expect changes to the top of next week’s standings.

  1. Clemson Tigers (5)

Clemson is finally starting to look more and more like the team we expected to see at the beginning of the season and, as stated above, that has come just in time. Clemson opens as a slim favorite over the Cardinals, but I think most of the college football world will see Clemson as the underdog for this game. Clemson must win this game in order to fully dispel any and all memories of the Tigers’ struggles in the early season.

  1. Houston Cougars (4)

After becoming a household name following their win over Oklahoma in Week 1, the Cougars have begun to slip, slowly, back into a bit of obscurity. So many Power 5 teams have proved themselves thus far that Houston’s big wins over bad teams are starting to mean less and less. Houston really cannot afford to lose any games this season. With their weak schedule, compared to some Power 5 schools, doing so will most certainly eliminate the Cougars from playoff contention. The biggest concern for Houston right now is LSU’s open head coaching job.

  1. Michigan Wolverines (6)

Well, would you look at that, the Michigan Wolverines finally have a challenging game coming up this weekend. Michigan really hasn’t been tested at all this season, a large part of that due to the fact that it hasn’t left Ann Arbor so far. However, the Wolverines have to beat Wisconsin, which has to be one of the most “proven” teams in college football right now. We will finally be able to see how legit the Wolverines are this weekend and be able to really figure out their playoff odds.

  1. Stanford Cardinal (7)

Stanford continues to sit pretty at No. 7, as the Cardinal has more or less just sat back with a bag of popcorn and watched Christian McCaffrey continue to prove that he is a cut above everyone else in college football, even if his spotlight is getting stolen. If Lamar Jackson were not putting up out-of-this-world numbers right now, there is no doubt that McCaffrey would be leading the Heisman charge. Stanford has a big chance to gain national attention with its visit to Washington this week. While this game is bigger for the Huskies than for Stanford, the Cardinal’s Playoff argument would unquestionably be bolstered with a big win on Saturday.

  1. Texas A&M Aggies (9)

Following an explosive fourth quarter, the Aggies’ win over Arkansas went from decent win to a huge win for A&M. A&M has officially racked up a number of impressive wins versus competitive opponents. Still, Kevin Sumlin needs his team to keep up its pace if it is to have any chance of prying the SEC West away from the grip of Alabama. The next several weeks of difficult matchups will truly show whether or not the Aggies are Playoff contenders.

  1. Wisconsin Badgers (10)

Wisconsin’s string of impressive wins continued on Saturday with a devastation of the Michigan State Spartans. The Badgers have proved themselves a legit contender for the Big Ten championship. Wisconsin’s matchup against Michigan in Ann Arbor this weekend will truly prove whether or not it deserves to be the Big Ten favorite to make the Playoff. The Badgers, much like the Aggies, cannot afford any type of regression now, especially considering the Badgers upcoming schedule.

  1. Washington Huskies (8)

The Huskies, sitting at the bottom of this week’s list, remain the biggest enigma competing for a spot in the Playoff. None of Washington’s victories thus far have proven whether or not it should be seriously considered. However, Washington hosts Stanford this weekend. As big as this game is for the Cardinal, it is exponentially more important for the Huskies. A victory this week would cement Washington as a household name and help begin to build the Huskies’ Playoff resume.

Honorable Mentions

Though none were close to beating out any of the teams that made the list, Tennessee, Baylor, and Miami are the next teams in line, all pretty much waiting for the three Top 10 face-off games to play out this weekend.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

Image courtesy of Andrew Horne – Wikimedia Commons

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Put Everyone on Alert: ACC Football Deserves Some Respect

The title says it all. I think it’s finally time to show ACC football some respect. Listen, I know it’s a bit early in the season to make a statement as bold as this one, but I have my reasons.

At the end of last season, I could’ve argued the same thing. If it weren’t for Florida State’s bowl loss to the Houston Cougars, I probably would’ve argued the same thing actually. About eight months later I’m finally ready to convince people that the ACC may be more than just a basketball conference now.

Let’s start with its overall record during the opening weekend of this college football season, 11-3. That looks really impressive at first glance, but we do still have to keep in mind that the opposition they faced was nothing worth celebrating.

ACC teams played Charlotte, Tulane, William & Mary, Colgate, Liberty, Villanova, Richmond, Georgia, NC Central, Florida A&M, Auburn, and Ole Miss. They lost two of these games and there was also one conference matchup. Surprisingly, the two games lost were not both against SEC teams. While North Carolina did lose to Georgia in Atlanta, Virginia managed to lose to Richmond in Charlottesville.

The ACC went 2-1 against the SEC in Week 1. Yes, Clemson was favored over Auburn and FSU was favored over Ole Miss, but both of those still count as big wins for ACC football in my book. So how did they fare so well in the first weekend?

Well, I know they say that defense wins championships, but the ACC has something else that also proves to be instrumental in winning football games. The ACC easily has the best quarterbacks in college football right now. The Clemson Tigers have Deshaun Watson; the Florida State Seminoles have Deondre Francois. The Louisville Cardinals have Lamar Jackson; the Miami Hurricanes have Brad Kaaya. I rest my case.

Okay, I don’t rest my case. Some people probably don’t get just how good these quarterbacks I listed really are. Let me give you a crash course in the nation’s best quarterbacks.

On Thursday night, Lamar Jackson led the Louisville Cardinals to a 70-14 victory over Charlotte. In that game, Jackson accounted for eight touchdowns and 405 yards of offense. He was unstoppable. Now we have to wait and see if he will be just as unstoppable against more formidable opponents.

On Saturday night, Brad Kaaya led the Miami Hurricanes as they demolished the Florida A&M Rattlers 70-3. Kaaya didn’t have the same stat lines as Jackson, but he did have four touchdowns and did complete two-thirds of his passes. Miami won’t really be tested until October. We already know from last season that Kaaya is a solid quarterback.

Also on Saturday night, Deshaun Watson led his team to victory over the Tigers at Auburn, 19-13. Auburn’s defense did a good job containing Watson, but he still completed over half his passes, threw for 248 yards, and had a touchdown pass. That may not sound particularly impressive, but we already know what a great dual-threat quarterback Watson is.

On Monday night, Deondre Francois helped the Florida State Seminoles dig out of a 22-point hole to beat the Ole Miss Rebels, 45-34. Francois completed 33 of 52 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 59 yards on the ground. And unlike Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, he didn’t throw any costly interceptions. That’s not bad for his first start in this offense against a swarming Ole Miss defense.

There are plenty of other bright spots around ACC football if you’re willing to look for them. At this point, most of us aren’t willing to look for them because the ACC has been mostly irrelevant to college football over the past decade. I’m not going to jump to crazy conclusions after one week and say this is their year…but this might be the ACC’s year.

Clemson is still Clemson, even if they did struggle against Auburn. Florida State is still Florida State, even if they did have to overcome a huge deficit to beat Ole Miss. And as for the rest of the teams, many are on their way up. Louisville moved up in the Top 25 after a strong showing against Charlotte. Miami made it into the AP Top 25 this week, as expectations soar for Mark Richt and Brad Kaaya. And even though North Carolina dropped in the polls, they put up a good fight against Georgia. Not to mention this is a Georgia team that might have the eventual Heisman trophy winner in running back Nick Chubb.

I know it’s early, but it isn’t too early to put everyone on alert. ACC football is not to be taken lightly this season. Its quarterbacks are some of the best in the country and its programs are on the rise. I admittedly haven’t always been the biggest ACC football fan, but it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

Email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Perthsider.

5 Teams I’m Glad I’m not a Fan of

While editing Damien Bowman’s I Hate All of Your Team’s Except for These 6 last night, I was inspired.  I started to think about which teams I will not be supporting this fall.

It didn’t take long for me to come up with these five:

That Baptist School in Waco, Texas

This school shouldn’t even be allowed to field a football team this season.  I’m serious.  Let all the players transfer out without having to sit for a year, if they’d like.  Put a pause on the entire program for a season.

Come back next spring with brand new everybody, top to down.  Then you’ll get football back.  Unfortunately, the time for this punishment to be imposed has passed and this school will likely remain relatively unpunished.

It’s often a joke that the state of Texas treats its football as a religion.  So, how ironic is it that a Baptist institution of higher learning knowingly prioritized the well-being of 58 percent of its student body underneath its desire to watch the boys play ball?

This is a systemic issue.  Forget chopping the head off of the snake.  Throw it into a wood chipper and see what emerges.  The gooey byproduct would probably resemble this school’s color scheme.

Georgia Bulldogs

I don’t get the hype at all.  This is a program that routinely underachieves.  A new head coach comes in and the Dawgs are supposed to be off the chain?  I don’t buy it.

Kirby Smart has never been a head coach before.  Of course, he was an outstanding defensive coordinator the last eight years at Alabama.  Life gets much more difficult when you’re no longer a part of Nick Saban’s rolling Tide.

Smart will be forced into wisening up if he can somehow get his team to the SEC championship.  That’ll be real tough to do with three conference losses.

Miami Hurricanes

Truthfully, I would love to see the U stage a real comeback.  I think Mark Richt might actually be the coach to put dream that within reach.  I just know it won’t happen this season.

Also, that monstrosity they play in is now going by Hard Rock Stadium.  I cannot support that.

Richt’s experience earns him more trust than I can afford Smart.  That won’t be enough, though.  I’ve still got that 58-0 ass whoopin’ the Canes took from Clemson vividly replaying in my mind.

It’ll take more than the U has to give us this season for me to erase it.

Kansas Jayhawks

There’s something about this perpetually putrid program that intrigues me.  I find myself rooting for the Jayhawks to lose, and I think it’s only because their ineptitude is so epic.

Kansas hasn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009 when it started 5-0 and finished 5-7.  The Jayhawks have won 12 games since then.

Occasionally, I’ll happen upon that repulsive Big 12 matchup they try to hide on your local Fox Sports channel.  Texas Tech is in Lawrence and there I am, making sure Ryan Gosling’s Red Raiders get the job done so Kansas can continue to be awesomely awful.  In a way, it’s like I’m rooting for them.

Anything more than a second consecutive 0-12 campaign would be a disappointment.  Although, I would love to watch the Jayhawks rock chalk that Baptist school in Waco, Texas.

Oh*o State Chocolate and Peanut Butter Candies

I have to.  It’s figuratively in my DNA.  I will always hate on theee Oh*o State University.  It’s just too much fun because the whole damn state roots for this team and they all get so worked up about it.

Your colors are ugly.  Your stadium is missing some pieces and about 5,000 seats.  Your band isn’t the best in any land I know of.  Oh, and your state isn’t nearly as far south of the Mason-Dixon Line as you like to pretend it is.  Before I get personal…

I am proud of you all for one thing, though.  After all the repetition, I think everyone’s finally learned how to spell Oh*o.

We’ll see ya November 26.  Go Blue.

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Predicted: New Year’s Six and the College Football Playoff National Championship

This is the third and final part of my 2016 College Football Preview. The picks in this article directly reflect my first and second article, so check those out before reading this one.

Orange Bowl (ACC vs. Big Ten/SEC/ND) 12/31/16

Miami (9-4) vs. LSU (10-2)

The Matchup: Miami will get the automatic ACC bid, as the Hurricanes are the best ACC team not in the CFP. LSU squeezes its way into the New Year’s Six over the likes of Notre Dame, the second team in line who just misses the New Year’s Six due to their indecisiveness at the QB position early in the season, which cost a few games. Other teams who are in the hunt for the Tigers’ Orange Bowl spot are Michigan State, Ole Miss and Arkansas, but none of them finish over 9-3.

The Game: This is Leonard Fournette’s final game in an LSU jersey. He will eat up the Miami defense, which will have to deal with a bit of Les Miles madness. LSU will come out passing early and often, as the Miami defense gets weaker the further away from the line of scrimmage you go. Once the Tigers expose Miami’s pass defense, LSU will catch the Hurricanes on their heels by simply letting Fournette run over the competition. Fournette’s early season injury may keep him out of the Heisman Race, but he will sure look like a Heisman winner after this game is all said and done. LSU will simply put up too many points for the Hurricanes to keep up with.

Final Score: LSU Tigers 38 – Miami Hurricanes 20

Cotton Bowl (At-Large vs. At-Large) 1/2/17

Michigan (11-1) vs. UH (12-1)

The Matchup: Michigan is not happy to be here. The Wolverines believe that it belongs in the CFP. However, it ends up playing in Dallas facing off against a Houston Cougars squad whose excitement to be in this spotlight inversely mirrors the Wolverines.

The Game: The team’s respective enthusiasm for this particular game reflects into the matchup’s first half to a large degree. Michigan comes out uninterested and sluggish, which a Greg Ward, AAC player of the Year, powered Cougar offense heavily exploits. The First Half ends with the Cougars up 14-10. The Wolverines swing back in the second half, and take a three-point lead over UH with just over a minute left in the game. Greg Ward leads a final charge down the field into the red zone with time winding down. However, after two incomplete passes, Jabrill Peppers fools Ward, after Peppers fakes a blitz before dropping back into coverage. The strong Wolverine defensive line forces Ward to rush a decision, and he overlooks Peppers before throwing a pass which Peppers intercepts.

Final Score: Michigan Wolverines 41 – Houston Cougars 38

Rose Bowl (Big Ten vs. Pac-12) 1/2/17

Iowa (9-4) vs. Stanford (11-2)

The Matchup: Iowa, who lost the Big Ten championship to Ohio State, gets the automatic Rose Bowl bid. Stanford, meanwhile, wins the Pac-12 and because no Pac-12 team gets into the CFP, are the other automatic bid, which makes the 2017 Rose Bowl an identical matchup to the 2016 game.

The Game:  This game will have a similar outcome as the matchup the previous year. Stanford will let Christian McCaffrey run free, and he will single-handedly slaughter Iowa. Iowa, in all honesty, does not belong in the Rose Bowl, and once again, the game’s result shows that. This one is not even close.

Final Score: Stanford Cardinal 31 – Iowa Hawkeyes 6

Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC) 1/2/17

TCU (10-2) vs. Tennessee (10-3)

The Matchup: I’m going to be honest. Even though I picked them to be here, I would be surprised if Tennessee can win the SEC East and get the automatic bowl berth. The Volunteers’ inconsistency over the last several years makes I hard to believe that it can string together a solid season and take the East over Georgia and Florida. But, that’s what my mind believed when I wrote last week’s prediction article, so here we are. If the Volunteers manage to make it to the Sugar Bowl, it will face off against TCU, winners of the lackluster Big 12.

The Game: Despite the fact that I don’t think it will make it to this game, I think the SEC will prove too much for TCU. Tennessee, behind powerhouse running back Jalen Hurd and a Joshua Dobbs who develops into a great passer throughout the season, are able to out muster the Horned Frogs offensively. Tennessee’ defense, which nine starters, will shut down the Horned Frogs’ offense. This will be a defensive battle between these two teams, but the Volunteers prevail.

Final Score: Tennessee Volunteers 24 – TCU Horned Frogs 17

Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)  12/31/16

#1 Ohio State (13-0) vs. #4 FSU (11-1)

The Matchup: Ohio State, still riding off “The Game of the Century” Part 2, in which the Buckeyes beat #2 ranked Michigan, gets the #1 overall seed for the third annual College Football Playoff. FSU, meanwhile, campaigns hard for its spot, which the Seminoles fight Michigan, Stanford, TCU and Houston for. However, dominating wins late in the season after a close defeat to Clemson allow FSU to squeeze into its second College Football Playoff appearance.

The Game: Lead by recently crowned Heisman Trophy winner, J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes get off to a quick start, scoring quickly on a pass over the middle against the weakest part of the Seminole defense. However, the Buckeyes’ inexperienced defense will struggle to do anything to stop the Dalvin Cook Seminole offense, and FSU goes up by 10 heading into halftime. Coming out of the half, Dontre Wilson brings the kickoff all the way back for a touchdown, making the Buckeyes deficit only three. Both defenses then hunker down, with the likes of Raekwon McMillan and DeMarcus Walker dominating for the Buckeyes and Seminoles respectively. Late in the 4th, J.T. Barrett leads Ohio State down the field, but Urban Meyer has to settle for a field goal. However, with two minutes to work with, Dalvin Cook is able to take his time and rush the Seminoles into Field Goal position with only a few ticks left. Ricky Aguayo gets a perfect hold ad knocks home a 52-yard field goal as time expires to allow the Seminoles to win.

Final Score: Florida State Seminoles 23 – Ohio State Buckeyes 20

Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal) 12/31/16

#2 Clemson (13-0) vs. #3 Alabama (12-1)

The Matchup: Winners of the ACC and SEC respectively, Clemson and Alabama both come off monster season to qualify as the middle seeds for the College Football Playoff. Heisman runner-up Deshaun Watson, Clemson finished undefeated, while Alabama’s only loss came to Ole Miss early in the season.

The Game: This game will ultimately come down to Clemson’s offense vs. Alabama’s defense. The Alabama offense will struggle with Cooper Bateman at the helm, but Clemson’s defense will not be nearly as dominant as years past, allowing the Crimson Tide to find holes to score both on the ground and in the air. However, the issue for Alabama is that Clemson’s offense simply has too many pieces, as if the passing game to wide outs Mike Williams and Artavis Scott struggles, Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman, both of whom were 1000 yard rushers in 2015, can simply push Alabama back behind the Tigers’ O-Line. Though Alabama remains in the game in the first half, Clemson comes out firing in the second and breaks the game wide open. Alabama, though talented, won’t have an answer for Clemson, and the Tigers win the game by a fairly wide margin. The Crimson Tide’s shot at returning to the College Football National Championship is cut one game short.

Final Score: Clemson Tigers 45 – Alabama Crimson Tide 24

 College Football Playoff National Championship 1/9/16 (Tampa, FL)

#2 Clemson Tigers (14-0) vs. #4 Florida State Seminoles (12-1)

The Game: This game is going to be a rematch of possibly the best offensive matchup of the 2016 season. Earlier, Clemson beat out FSU in Tallahassee, and that is why the Tigers remained undefeated the entire year. The National Championship, featuring two teams less located less than 600 miles from the game’s location, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, will be an offensive bout the likes of which we haven’t seen in man years. While both teams have competent defenses, Clemson and FSU will look to win the National Championship with offensive firepower. This game will actually not be as much of a nail-biter as their first matchup, as Deshaun Watson, in his second straight title game, will come out firing on all cylinders. FSU will stay in the game, but the Clemson offense will prove to be too much, and keep a constant lead over the Seminoles the entire game. The Clemson Tigers will have its first National Title since 1981.

Final Score: Clemson Tigers 48 – Florida State 35

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

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Predicted: 2016 Power 5 Conference Champions

This week’s piece is the second of three pieces i will be writing previewing the college football season. Last week was a focus on predicting the champions of the group of 5 conferences, and if you want to read that first, you can find it here. Next week will be the finale of the preview series, with a look at the NY6 Bowl Games and the College Football Playoff.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Clemson Tigers (12-0) vs. Miami Hurricanes (9-3)

Both sides of the ACC are going to be races between the top 2-3 teams. In the Atlantic decision, those teams are Clemson, FSU, and a sleeper Louisville, while in the Coastal those teams are Miami, UNC and VT. I expect the Clemson Tigers to ride Deshaun Watson to another undefeated regular season, with its biggest challenge obviously being down at FSU. None the less, I expect Clemson to be matured by its title game run last season, and I see the Tigers edging out FSU in a tightly contested match.

In the Coastal Division, while VT could pose a threat, I think this division title is really between Miami and UNC. And that being said, UNC’s out of conference schedule is much more difficult, with a game vs. Georgia at the Georgia Dome to kick off the season. Miami, on the other hand, starts off its season with three super tough opponents…Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic and Appalachian State. Given that start to the season, I think Miami advances to the ACC Championship by a game over the Heels. It is important to note that FSU, with only a single loss to Clemson, would still be a huge contender for the CFP.

Conference Champion: Clemson Tigers

Big 12

Conference Contenders: Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State and Baylor

While 2017 may be the return of a championship game for the Big 12, the lack of one this year will make the conference title race an interesting one to say the least. While OSU and Baylor will factor in, this race should and will come down to Oklahoma and TCU. And looking at its respective schedules, it’s hard to not see a difference between the two. TCU starts off with South Dakota State, Arkansas, Iowa State (who, for the record, always has an upset up its sleeve) and SMU. I would be surprised if going into its week 5 matchup with Oklahoma, TCU was not undefeated. Now, Oklahoma’s road to that matchup is extremely different. Going into the TCU matchup, Oklahoma has to battle through Houston and Ohio State, and to a much, much lesser degree the ULM Warhawks. Personally, I think the Sooners drop both the UH and Buckeye games. But, even if Oklahoma makes it out of those games without a loss, it will be exhausted from the extreme competition it has faced already. Even with two weeks to prepare for the TCU matchup, I believe the Sooners will be at a disadvantage, and lose to the Horned Frogs. After that matchup, I think the Big 12 conference matchups will give both TCU and Oklahoma some trouble, and I see both dropping a total of 2 in conference matchups.

 

Conference Champion: TCU (10-2)

Big Ten

Prediction: Ohio State (12-0) vs. Iowa (9-3)

Oh boy, here we go again. We finally have a Big Ten that is properly returned to form. And with that return to form, I have a bold prediction. On November 26th, ten years and 8 days after the historic matchup, we will see “The Game of the Century” Part 2 in Columbus, Ohio. Going into, what I believe, is the biggest rivalry in college, and maybe all of, sports, other than Ohio State’s challenge in Oklahoma, and both of their needs to beat Michigan State, we could easily see both the Buckeyes and the Wolverines be undefeated going into the matchup. Now, for me personally, this idea sends shivers down my spine, as, having grown up in the great state of Ohio, I both hate Michigan and also attended the 1 vs 2 game back in 2006. Now because of J.T. Barrett, Heisman finalist (and for my sanity as an Ohioan), I see the Horseshoe being stormed with Buckeye fans after a thrilling victory over the team up north. …oh, sorry, Big Ten West, I (and everyone else in the country) almost forgot about you. Iowa should be able to take the Big Ten west crown, and I see them doing so at a pace of 9-3.

Conference Champion: The Ohio State Buckeyes

Southeastern Conference

Prediction: Alabama (11-1) vs. Tennessee (10-2)

The SEC division titles seem to be two sets of three team races. Tennessee, Georgia and Florida will fight for the East, whilst ‘Bama, LSU and Ole Miss will fight for the West. I would be shocked, given the strength of the conference as a whole, to see any team come out of the SEC undefeated. That being said, however, Alabama is an easy pick for a division champ, as the Crimson Tide are of course, the reigning national campions. And nothing has shown me anything to doubt ‘Bama coming into 2016. LSU, behind Fournette, a Heisman candidate, will give Alabama a run for its money, but I think ‘Bama will prove to be the superior team.

Now in the East Division, things are more of a crapshoot. While Tennessee may be the most likely division champ, the Volunteer’s inconsistent play over the last several years is what the Bulldogs and Gators are counting on. If Tennessee falters, even slightly, one of those two will look to poach the division. However, I think Florida’s current QB situation makes it a less likely champion than UGA or Tennessee. Expect Tennessee to, despite some struggles, grind out the East.

Conference Champion: Alabama Crimson Tide

Pac-12

Prediction: Stanford (10-2) vs. UCLA (9-3)

The Pac-12 is a mess. It currently lacks a single team to help bring the conference back into prominence. Oregon will be good this year but not great, as the Ducks will get between 7-9 wins in the North. Oregon needs to watch out for its out of conference games against Virginia and Nebraska, as both teams could send the Ducks into a tail spin (pun intended) early in the season. I think Washington State, though the current favorite for conference champion, will struggle with its early conference matchups, as they play a large number of difficult conference opponents to start the Cougars conference play. I think the consistently decent Stanford Cardinal will be able to once again claim the North.

The South is in no better shape, as UCLA, USC, Utah, ASU, and Arizona are all decent teams, but not one of them stands out from the field. I think UCLA, being the program at the highest level of the current South Contenders, will be able to take the South in fairly mild fashion. The Bruins biggest challenge is facing BYU and Stanford in back to back weeks, but UCLA needs to make sure that they can recover in the possibility that it loses both games. If UCLA does start to falter, the South could still be very much up for grabs.

Conference Champion: Stanford Cardinal

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

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The Sun Belt’s Best Football Games of 2016

The Sun Belt is quite the oddball conference. Not only does it not have a conference championship game (one of only two conferences with that dubious distinction, shout-out to the Big 12), but it has an odd number of teams, 11. Oh and the Idaho Vandals are in the conference. I don’t know about you but when I think of sun, I think of Idaho.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the conference in 2016. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern just joined the Football Bowl Sub-Division in the past couple years, and Georgia State didn’t even have a football team until 2010. Yet, all three of those teams finished in the top four of the conference last year and will compete to top Arkansas State, who won the conference with an 8-0 record in 2015. The Sun Belt may be the most interesting non-Power 5 conference this year, and here are its most intriguing games:

10. Georgia State @ Troy (Saturday, October 15)

Troy struggled to just three conference wins in 2015 but was competitive in its game at Georgia State. With 15 starters back the hopes at Troy are for improvement and to maybe challenge for the conference crown. It will take a while before we know if that’s a possibility because the Trojans toughest conference opponents come at the end of the schedule. This will be their first chance to show if they are legit or not.

9. Georgia Southern @ Western Michigan (Saturday, September 24)

Georgia Southern gave the Sun Belt some respect by dominating the MAC champion in its bowl game in 2015. They’ll look to set a similar tone this year when playing one of the MAC’s better teams in the Western Michigan Broncos. Many of the offensive stars return between these two teams for what should be an entertaining game of contrasting offensive styles.

8. Appalachian State @ Troy (Saturday, November 12)

Appalachian State rolled through most of its seven conference wins in 2015, but Troy was the one team that kept it close. The Trojans lost by just a field goal in a triple-overtime thriller on the road. They’re one of the few teams that will be as experienced as the Mountaineers and will look to return the favor this year on their own home turf.

7. Arkansas State @ Georgia State (Saturday, November 4)

After rolling through the conference undefeated last year, Arkansas State will be starting a new quarterback and returns just the eighth-most starters in the conference. Assuming they take a step back, they could at least upset Georgia State’s chances for the conference title in this late season showdown.

6. Appalachian State @ Tennessee (Saturday, September 3)

Before playing the Miami game, the Mountaineers will have a chance to make their first statement in the season opener at Neyland Stadium (7:30 pm est on SEC Network). The Volunteers have failed to live up to the hype the past couple years and Appalachian State is obviously no stranger to upsetting Power 5 teams.

5. Appalachian State vs. Miami (FL) (Saturday, September 17)

Appalachian State’s quarterback Taylor Lamb upped his touchdown total by 14 last year while not increasing his interception total at all. Lamb will lead an experienced Mountaineers team that went 11-2 last year in a home game against a perpetually disappointing Hurricanes squad. If the Canes play the type of undisciplined football they did last year, it wouldn’t be shocking to see App State pull off the win (ESPN/ESPN2 at Noon est).

4. Georgia State at Wisconsin (Saturday, September 17)

Georgia State gets a chance to make a real statement here. As previously stated, they have 17 starters returning to a team that made a bowl game last year. Wisconsin hasn’t been the same power it was a few years ago, and it’ll be coming off games against LSU and Akron to start the year. They’re in for a long day if they overlook the Panthers.

3. Georgia Southern @ Georgia State (Saturday, November 19)

These two football up-starts battle in what looks to be a budding rivalry. The schools were already considered rivals but since Georgia State has only had a football team for a few years, the real rivalry is just beginning. Helping breed a better rivalry is the fact that this game could have conference title implications.

2. Georgia State at Appalachian State (Saturday, October 10)

Last year was just Georgia State’s third in the FBS and yet it finished fourth in the conference and made a bowl game. This year they’ll try to build off that success and make a run at a conference championship with 17 starters returning. Last year was Appalachian State’s second year in the FBS after dominating the FCS ranks the previous few years, and it went 11-2.

1. Appalachian State at Georgia Southern (Thursday, October 27)

App State and Georgia Southern were two of the best teams in the conference last year, and with at least seven defensive starters back and the starting quarterback returning for each squad, 2016 should be no different. With Arkansas State taking a step back after their 2015 conference championship, this game could decide the champ this season.

E-mail Jason at or follow him on Twitter @JLindy87

Featured image courtesy of Jamie Williams

The Dark-Horse Candidates for the 2016 College Football Playoffs

Conference media days are heating up as we venture into the heat of August. That also means that we are not only closer to summer college football camp but we are also closer to the games actually kicking off. I do not know about you, but I am ready to do this 2016 season!

As I day dream about what 2016 will bring, I find myself thinking about the College Football Playoff and who may be some of the surprise, dark-horse teams that could be in contention for one of the four coveted spots.

Here are the teams from each of the Power 5 conferences that I believe could be dark-horse contenders for the playoff.

SEC

Bret Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks are my dark-horse pick from the SEC. Bielema has been in Fayetteville long enough that his system should be considered established. That means that he has “his” players in place to go along with his system.

His roster is littered with established players on both sides of the ball. This includes a knowledgeable and capable quarterback in Austin Allen, a beast of an offensive lineman in Dan Skipper, a stud of a running back in Kody Walker and a top tier wide receiver in Keon Hatcher.

The defensive side of the ball may not be quite on par with Bielema’s offensive depth chart but there are known commodities on the defensive line with Taiwan Johnson and Bijhon Jackson.

And let us not forget that they have an advantageous schedule. At least it is as advantageous as an SEC West team could hope for. They have a great resume building opportunity with a non-conference road game against TCU and then get Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU and Florida all in Fayetteville.

The ingredients are there for a surprise playoff run.

Pac-12

The Pac-12 could be the year of the pirate. That is right, Washington State with head coach Mike Leach is my pick for the Pac-12’s dark-horse playoff team.

Wazzu is my pick for no other reason than quarterback Luke Falk. Falk can sling the ball around in a wide open offense as he guides a Cougar offense that should outwork scoreboards across the conference. They are not one of the best teams in the conference, but with Falk and Leach, they will put enough pressure on opposing teams that they should be a threat to the conference.

The Cougars play Oregon, UCLA, Arizona, California, and Washington all in Pullman. Their toughest road game will be at Arizona State and they do not have to deal with USC.

If Leach’s Cougars play even a little defense, this team will be a handful week in and week out.

Big 12

Most of my fellow writers at Campus Pressbox are probably expecting me to select Texas as my dark-horse playoff contender from the Big 12, but, not so fast, my pick here is Oklahoma State

Mike Gundy will not only have a talented roster that is led by quarterback Mason Rudolph, but he will also have a schedule that is beyond favorable. All three of the Cowboys’ non-conference games will be played in Stillwater. If this were not enough, the Cowboys also welcome Texas, West Virginia, and Texas Tech all to Stillwater. All three of those opponents could be considered dark-horse candidates and Oklahoma State gets them all in Stillwater.

ACC

It would be easy to choose Louisville simply because they play a beast of a non-conference opponent when the go on the road to play Marshall. My omission of Louisville as my ACC dark-horse playoff candidate should not be taken as a show of disrespect to the Thundering Herd.

My ACC dark-horse is Miami. Everyone seemed to pick Georgia each year to with the SEC East with Mark Richt, so it is only fitting to go with Miami here. Surely Richt will not bring his system of bitter disappointment to the ACC, will he?

Richt will have talent in Miami, because, well, it is Miami and talent was never the problem for the Hurricanes. As a first year Miami head coach, Richt should have the players and fans energized and the team will play enough of its high profile games at home as they host Florida State, North Carolina, and Duke.

It will not be easy for Miami, but it will not be easy for any team who is considered a dark-horse candidate for the playoffs.

Big Ten

As someone who gets labeled as “another SEC homer,” it pains me to say this, but the Big Ten is going to be Murderer’s Row this year. Each time that I wanted to make a particular team my choice as the Big Ten dark-horse, I looked at their schedule. Brutal.

So with that said, I am considering any team not named Michigan or Ohio State to be in consideration as my Big Ten dark-horse. And Michigan State is my pick.

From a personnel perspective, the Spartans may have the most questions of the teams I have chosen in this article. However, they do have LJ Scott at running back, are still coached by Mark Dantonio and have as favorable a schedule as you are likely to find in the Big Ten.

They do play both Michigan and Ohio State, but both games are in East Lansing. And if that were not enough good fortune, the Spartans also host Northwestern and Wisconsin.

It will not be easy this year in the Big Ten, but if there is a team that could turn the conference upside down, it is Sparty with Dantonio.

Oh, and do not forget, they will also face a fierce test in the second game of the season as they travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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