Tag Archives: Oklahoma State

Pre-Season Offensive Big 12 Team

As the summer approaches it means that fall is right around the corner. Pre-season polls for college football have already started coming out and pre-season predictions for conference teams will quickly follow. Here is a very broad prediction of how I think the All-Big 12 team for the 2016 season will shake out, starting with the offense.

The All- Big 12 team quarterback will be Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is a great ball handler who has made many great plays these past few seasons. Mayfield hasn’t had many interceptions due to the way he scrambles out of the pocket and completes passes or gains yards on the run. Mayfield has a 68.6 percent completion rate. He has 3,389 passing yards with 35 passing touchdowns. Mayfield is predicted to win the Heisman this year, which probably means that he will not even be nominated.

The All-Big 12 team running back will be a hard decision. Samaje Perine and Shock Linwood will more than likely compete for the top running back in the conference. Samaje Perine has ran for 3,062 yards and rushed for 37 touchdowns. Perine also had 215 receiving yards with one touchdown. Perine made the All Big 12 team in 2014 and 2015 so it would be no surprise to anyone if he made the team again. Shock Linwood ran for 3,462 yards with 34 touchdowns. Linwood had 180 receiving yards with a touchdown. He dominated the past two games during the 2015 season for the Bears including the bowl game against North Carolina. He stepped in big when the Bears were without a quarterback late in the season.

The top three receivers for the Big 12 either graduated or went into the draft so there will be three news guys that will be stepping into that role. It is hard to pick just three top receivers for the 2016 season, but I’ll go with James Washington, Shelton Gibson and KD Cannon. James Washington from Oklahoma State would be the first player to fill the slot. Washington gained over 1,087 yards, with 10 touchdowns. As the 2016 season approaches Washington is the only Big 12 wide receiver to top 1,000 yards receiving in 2015. He should be the number one receiver on the preseason All Big 12 team.

The number two receiver will more than likely be Shelton Gibson from West Virginia. Gibson totaled 887 yards and nine touchdowns. Gibson didn’t have a very good 2014 season with only gaining 60 yards. He made a huge impact in 2015, as a sophomore. He should be the second biggest wide receiver in the Big 12 this year. The third biggest receiver in the Big 12 should be KD Cannon from Baylor. Cannon was the second wide receiver for the Bears, but now that Corey Coleman has graduated, Cannon should be the top receiver. Cannon totaled 1,030 yards receiving during his freshman year. But last year Coleman played and Cannon only gained 868 yards. Cannon should explode this season and should be the third best wide receiver in the Big 12.

The offensive linemen that made the 2015 All Big 12 team all graduated. It is hard to determine who exactly will be on this list for this year so if I had to choose a team with the most representatives I would choose the Baylor offensive line. A lot of their line is returning so they should be dominant up front. The only other change on the offensive side of the ball would be the kick and punt returner . Alex Ross transferred to Mizzou so he will not be in the Big 12. This season should be an exciting one with many new faces to represent the Big 12 on the field.

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Big 12 Satellite Camps

The Big 12 has been in the news for one subject the past few months .I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the Big 12 meeting to be over. As we all know there are other subjects in regards to college football but with all Big 12 fans they have been swept under the rug. One of those subjects being satellite camps.

Earlier this year the NCAA banned satellite camps. The Big 12 was not really news about the banned camps because the majority of the schools did not really give their opinion on the matter. The Big Ten was the main conference that spoke up about it. The SEC and ACC banned these years ago. Banning these camps effected the Big 12 more than people think. Satellite amps involved the NCAA football programs and their coaches co-hosting camps with lower division colleges or high schools outside of their home state.

When satellite camps became really popular when coaches found a loophole in the rule the NCAA made. The rule was that the schools were limited to hosting camps within fifty miles of their campus or within their home state. Satellite camps help coaches find players who have yet to be recruited and have some hidden talents that have yet to be discovered.

Many of the Big 12 coaches are glad that the ban was raised. One of the many reasons is that it helps the athletes that don’t necessarily have the means to travel to be seen by coaches at certain schools. Coach Beaty at Kansas stated “If we truly care about kids and what is best for them, and giving them great opportunities, I think (overturning the ban) is something we have to look at. Even though it has been overturned I agree. I really think that satellite camps benefit the kids because it gives them opportunities to show coaches how they play and practice. This is much better than sending them highlight videos, that some of the coaches do not even watch or showing up to camps at the university where there are many other players competing for coaches attention.”

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State host a lot of satellite camps in Texas so when they heard the news about banning them they were one of the most upset schools in the Big 12. Another school that would have been highly upset if the ban stayed was Texas. Texas, the past two years, did not hold camps in Texas. The Longhorns held camps in Florida in 2015 and Louisiana last year. Going to these states helped Strong gain many great recruits for Texas. Strong thinks that gaining strong recruits from different states will help Texas look solid for recruits in the state of Texas. Which is why this year the Longhorns decided to stay in Texas, which could mean major competition for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Texas is trying its hardest to get back on top of the recruiting ladder in their home state, especially since Texas A&M is struggling in many aspects. Strong is really hoping that recruits in Texas will want to stay close to home and go to the more dominant school and not go to the schools who host satellite camps in Texas.

I am very pleased that the NCAA lifted the ban for satellite camps. Nothing will really change since the ban did not last long enough for any effects to really take place. It is good for the student athletes who will not have the opportunity to go to the college football camps that are offered at the Universities. Hopefully schools do not take advantage of these and they will last for a long time.

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Nike and its Influence on the Pac-12 Conference

Nike is the giant of the sports apparel business and to say otherwise would be a gross understatement. The Swoosh is synonymous with college sports in this country and it has a brand name that creates instant recognition. For many people Nike is the only thing they wear when it comes to athletic apparel. The influence is there in our sports culture. In the Pac-12 Conference the influence is just as immense, but in the last few years there have been teams in the Pac-12 that have dropped Nike as the school’s athletic apparel supplier. It begs the question, is Nike losing its grip on the Pac-12 Conference?

By now we all know, or should know, that Nike was homegrown in the state of Oregon on January 25, 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. The original name was not Nike, but Blue Ribbon Sports. The name changed to Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, in 1971 and Phil Knight has not looked back since.

When one thinks of Nike and college football there is one school that comes to mind and that is the University of Oregon. Why? Pretty simple. Phil Knight is a Duck. Around the state of Oregon he’s known as “Uncle Phil” because of the money he spends on his beloved school in Eugene, Oregon.

The idea of making the Oregon Ducks ground zero for a new type of branding in college athletics began once the Ducks earned the right to play in The Rose Bowl game in 1995. It was the first invite for the Ducks in a millennia and Phil Knight saw an opportunity to shake up college football at Oregon and possibly beyond.

Even though the Ducks lost that Rose Bowl game, Knight was determined to keep the program relevant. It has been reported that Uncle Phil went to the powers that be at Oregon and said it needed to make improvements in its athletic programs, namely football, to keep the Ducks relevant in some capacity in the Pac-12 Conference.

What did Phil Knight do?

He opened up his wallet and decided he was going to give back to the school he loves by turning the athletic program into his own personal proving grounds on university branding.

Over the course of the next few years the amount of money Knight gave to Oregon was really unprecedented in modern athletics. The only other booster of a school that comes to mind in terms of money given to their school is Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State.

When Oregon needed money for an indoor practice facility, an addition to the football stadium, an athletic building for any athlete to use, a completely new basketball arena, improvements to the track and field stadium, new uniforms and helmets, and the Marcus Mariota Center, Phil Knight was there with an open checkbook.

What was this creating?

Simply put, this was Knight’s plan to put the Oregon athletic program on the map of relevancy in college athletics.

Slowly, but surely, as these buildings and improvements were finished the haters came out of the woodwork. Many people thought that this was an unfair advantage for the university. Unfair? I scoffed at that notion.

There are plenty of loaded boosters in this country throwing all sorts of dollars at their universities to try and give them an advantage over the other schools, so it’s nothing different than what goes on at many universities and colleges. To me, it’s just jealousy on the fans’ part and it is just luck that a school has an alum that is the CEO of a world-wide sports apparel company. If I had a company that was world-wide and worth billions you can guarantee that I would be giving my Oregon State Beavers all the things they would need to be competitive in the business of college sports.

The influence of Nike at the University of Oregon is unparalleled in modern day sports. The swoosh is on almost everything at the school. Even the garbage cans around campus have the Nike emblem on them. Yes, the garbage cans.

What about the influence of Nike in the entire Pac-12 Conference?

When you take a look at the landscape of the Pac-12 it shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that Nike outfits over half the conference. Inside the conference, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Washington, and Washington State are all outfitted by Nike, so the influence is there.

The amount of cash that Nike hands out to these schools and the amount of product it gives the athletic programs varies from school to school. For example, Oregon which has Knight’s hand prints all over it, does not get the most money and product in its deal with Nike. They receive approximately $250k-$600k in cash from the apparel giant and around $1.4 million-$2 million in product. The Washington Huskies, however, receive $400k-$850k in cash and around $2.4 million-$2.8 million in product. The school that receives no cash from Nike is Oregon State. The cynic in me says Uncle Phil can’t give any liquid cash to the in-state rival out of loyalty to Oregon. I know it’s probably not the case, but I did find that number interesting due to the fact that every other Nike school in the conference receives some cash from Nike.

The only numbers that were not available were Stanford and USC because they are private institutions and are not required to release those numbers. For people to think that this is where the influence stops would be short-sighted.

Here’s the question I have about Nike’s influence within the Pac-12: Is it losing that influence?

Like I said earlier, eight of the 12 teams in the Pac-12 are outfitted by Nike, but in the last few years some of the teams that were wearing Nike have left for greener pastures with other sports outfitters. Even the Pac-12 Conference is officially outfitted by Adidas.

Utah is one of two teams in the conference that is suiting up with Under Armour. However, that contract is up after the 2016 season, so it’ll be interesting to see if Nike can bring an offer to Utah that brings the Utes onto the Nike team. What will Nike have to do to get the Utes? Certainly put the cash value and apparel value towards the top of the conference and probably offer internships or jobs for Utah graduates. They will need to make an offer that makes it worth the change for Utah.

When I mention what Nike needs to do with Utah it’s due to the fact that the California Golden Bears just inked a lucrative deal with Under Armour. The growing sports apparel giant made California its thirty-fourth Division I all-school partnership. The deal is for 10 years and approximately $86 million in cash and product. Nike paid California $150,000 in cash per year and with Under Armour, California will receive $3.5 million in cash. That’s a total no-brainer for the school. Under Armour will also give students internships and graduates will have the opportunity to get jobs in the company. The deal also includes setting up nutrition and fitness challenges for students, alumni, and staff. California is being put on the front page with Under Armour and that’s what these teams want.

Case in point: Arizona State.

Two teams from the Pac-12 have gone with Adidas as their apparel outfitter. Arizona State and UCLA have inked deals with Adidas and it has given them greater exposure and money. For Arizona State,when you are one of approximately 12 teams under the Adidas banner, the chance to get a better money deal was too good to pass up. The Sun Devils doubled the amount of annual cash they’ll receive by switching from Nike to Adidas. They went from $2.1 million annually to $4.2 million annually. The totality of the contract is for eight years and worth $33.8 million.

When you don’t have to share as much of the money with other schools, the intake for you is going to be substantially more significant, and in the long term that is going to help Arizona State. One of the reasons for the change was to become a priority with its apparel partner. Nike has 45 power conference football clients and ASU was not a priority for it. With Adidas ASU got the reassurance of being a top-five priority.

Here’s the issue that Nike is starting to face with some teams from the Pac-12 moving on from them. Nike outfits so many teams in this country that the share of the money is limited. It’s the small fish in a large pond type of situation for many teams when dealing with Nike. The universities and colleges, like Arizona State and California, feel like they are just a number to Nike and that they are not a focus for the powers that be at Nike.

As much as people tend to think that there is an infinite supply of money when it comes to this sports apparel business. There isn’t. Nike has to give an offer that is good for the school and good for itself. Do they need to change what they do? That’s a tough question there.

We all know Nike is the strongest brand in sports apparel and its influence on the Pac-12 is still dominant. Still, teams are leaving “the swoosh” for better monetary deals that give them better exposure and provide more for the university students, staff, and alumni. This will be an aspect that Nike will want to take a look at when re-signing with any of the Pac-12 schools.

I understand the dilemma that universities have when they consider going with some brand other than Nike. The money that they may gain is weighed against leaving the Nike brand. For some, it’s a no-brainer. You take the money and run. For others Nike does more than any of these other companies can.
I don’t see anything changing dramatically inside the Pac-12 with Nike. Universities will do what’s best for them, but in the end, the brand of Nike is hard to walk away from. I, for one, would have a difficult time going with somebody else to outfit my team. I’m a Nike guy through and through and feel the influence of Nike will continue to be felt in the Pac-12 Conference for years to come.

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Expansion or No Expansion…That is the Question

Maybe it’s because I am a K-State fan, but this article made me laugh out loud. Does it really surprise anyone that no Kansas football players were drafted? De’Andre Mann, Taylor Cox and Larry Mazyck have been picked up in free agency. Mann signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Cox has been invited to Cowboys camp and Mazyck will be attending free agent tryout camp with the Houston Texans. It will be interesting to see if more KU players can make in impact in the NFL like Harris and Talib did this year. I just don’t really see players from these past few years making it very far considering what their record has been.

The contract from Brad Underwood has been approved. Underwood will make a total of 6.3 million the next five years with a starting salary of $1 million for next season. This doesn’t include the incentives he will be receiving from the Big 12 and Oklahoma State if he wins. As I said in my article earlier this year, Underwood is a great coach and deserves a large contract. I am very happy he is in the Big 12 again, I just wish it was with a different team.

Memphis President M. David Rudd released a promotional publication on his twitter account. He is really pushing for his school to join the Big 12. I think this would be a very interesting move by the Big 12. I wouldn’t be opposed at all. Memphis is progressively getting better in football and, of course, is very good in basketball. It is also somewhat close to other schools so people would travel, which is always important. I am not sure how much people who actually make these decisions pay to twitter and make their decisions off of promotional videos.

Bob Bowlsby finally spoke up about when decisions are going to be made in regards to expansion. He said “we need to move ahead and make decisions. I just think we need to move ahead expediently.” At this point I am somewhat indifferent about what happens. I am just ready for them to make a decision and hope it is the bet one for the conference. It sounds like they will have a decision made in the next ten days.

The Big 12 needs votes from eight schools to expand. I have heard they currently only have votes from seven schools. I have never liked Texas, nor will I ever like Texas. I feel like Texas is a very selfish school. Texas wants to keep the Longhorn Network so the Longhorns are pressuring TCU and Texas Tech not to vote for expansion. So, instead of thinking about what is best for the Big 12, the Longhorns are just thinking about themselves and what their TV contract will do for them. The Longhorn Network has lost money the past few years. So in the long run Texas is losing money for something they are so adamant on keeping.

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TCU: Next Man In

The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs’ flawless season has come to a screeching halt and met its’ biggest challenges: replacing a Heisman caliber quarterback and the teams’ star receiver.

Quarterback Treyvone Boykin missed much of the season last year when he was plagued with injury after finally earning space in the Heisman conversation, and it’s safe to say we’re all feeling a little Deja Vu. Two weeks ago, in week ten of the college football season, TCU lost their first game of 2015 to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who has blindsided football fans for being the biggest spectacle in the Big 12, and possibly their only prayer for a chance in the playoffs.

Boykin had a memorable exit, and not in the way that Horned Frog fans are used to. The polished quarterback threw four interceptions, and got closed out by the Cowboys 42-29. Before being benched with the injury, Boykin was on track to finish the season with the 3rd-biggest total offense in FBS history.

Also sitting on the sidelines when TCU’s offense takes the field is Treyvone Boykin’s favorite target, Josh Doctson. Last year, the wide receiver had 65 receptions for a school record 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns. Doctson is confirmed to be out for the rest of the season as a result of injuring his wrist against the Kansas Jayhawks last week, after only making one catch for twelve yards.

Treyvon Boykin and Josh Doctson are redshirt seniors, who have proven their draft stock time and again. The wide receiver class at TCU has also proven pretty effective with admirable performances by athletes like Kolby Listenbee, who is averaging 20.6 yards per catch this season and ranks 4th for the Big 12 in that category.

With Boykin likely on his way to the draft for 2016, it is paradoxical that TCU fans can now catch a glimpse into the heir to starting quarterback job for next season.

Red shirt freshman Foster Sawyer is a 6’5, 220lb, pro-style quarterback from Fort Worth, Texas. His run skills do not match the dual-threat stylings of Boykin, but his exhibited decisiveness in the pocket make the Horned Frogs passing game as relevant as ever, whether he must carry out the starting jobs’ responsibilities for the rest of the season, or continue to take reps behind Boykin until the Spring.

Sawyer received offers from schools like

Coach Meachem was recruiting me pretty hard at Oklahoma State before he left.

Sawyer received offers from the Ole Miss Rebels, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Alabama Crimson Tide, and UCLA Bruins. Committing to TCU was an easy decision, however, when he learned that Doug Meachem, who had been recruiting Sawyer diligently during his time as a Tight End/Wide Receiver coach at Oklahoma State, would be signing on as the co-offensive coordinator at TCU.

Sawyer has always expressed excitement in the fun-for-the-quarterback, hurry-up, spread system that was newly being integrated into the Horned Frogs offense when he started his eligibility clock. He’s hung up on delivering the wins for his team, and is still wide-eyed enough to not get comfortable. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn’t scrap for second chances and pass completion, and amaze fans from week to week with his Andy Dalton style perseverance.

Although Sawyer only completed one of seven passes, the single completion was the game winning, 42-yard touchdown. Bram Kohlhausen, who had originally been ahead of Sawyer on the depth chart, did not get any points on the board and was benched after throwing an interception in the fourth quarter.

You can watch Foster Sawyer take on the Oklahoma Sooners this Saturday at 8pm EST on ESPN.

Shattered Dreams and Iowa

The phrase “we need Iowa to go undefeated” is one that probably was not uttered by anyone other than Iowa alumni.  Coming into the season, there was a legitimate possibility that Kirk Ferentz was going to get the axe, but his contract, more specifically his buyout clause, was stopping that from happening.  Now, Iowa is undefeated, has a guaranteed spot in the Big Ten championship game, and looks to be the Big Ten’s best chance at being in the College Football Playoff as an undefeated team and eliminating the counter argument of “they just got in because they play in the Big Ten.”

The beauty of the college football playoff is how much scheduling plays a part.  Luckily for Iowa, very few thought that they would be legitimate contenders and did not schedule them into any true primetime, late season matchups. The Hawkeyes finish the season at Nebraska, the team that has managed to lose a surprising number of close games throughout the season and had a season-defining win in which they managed to ruin Michigan States’ title chances by handing them a late season loss.  While Nebraska will view the game against Iowa as their “championship” game, Iowa should be able to win and go into the Big Ten championship undefeated.

In comparison, the other teams around Iowa in the rankings have far tougher matchups.  Notre Dame finishes its year at Stanford without two of its best players, C.J. Prosise and KeiVarae Russel, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State play one another in what should be a high scoring rivalry game that will determine who will be the Big 12’s playoff candidate.  Florida, the 8th ranked team in the Week 12 rankings, ends its year at Florida State.

My bound-to-be-wrong prediction for Iowa

Iowa wins at Nebraska convincingly, but not overwhelmingly with a 31-14 win.  In the Big Ten championship game, they play Michigan State.  The Spartans, coming off a huge win at Ohio State and a win over Penn State win a close, low scoring and what most of the country considers to be an “ugly” game.  In the process, the Big Ten manages to have three 1-loss teams.  Considering the huge media hype that constantly surrounds Notre Dame and the possibility of an undefeated Oklahoma State team, Iowa misses the playoffs and no Big Ten team gets to compete for the championship.

While having no team in the championship would be somewhat embarrassing for the Big Ten, it will not be as horrible as people make it out to be.  Clemson and Alabama are clearly the top teams this year and Iowa does not have the weapons or the personnel to keep pace with teams of that caliber.  Iowa getting into the playoff would probably look at lot like a bowl game featuring an automatic qualifier; it will be obvious from the start which team had a “miracle” year that is coming to an end and which team is entrenched as a top contender year after year.  As fun as it would be to have a team from the Big Ten in the playoff, it will probably be better to not have to endure a 60-minute beatdown at the hands of Clemson or Alabama that loses its suspense after the first quarter when Iowa is down by 21.

Where Does Ohio State Belong?

They say that previous success should have no bearing on the current standing. One would think that this would be especially true in today’s “What have you done for me lately?” world.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that way.

Ohio State continues to sit safely in the top four of the College Football Playoff Committee’s rankings.

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This might be an unpopular opinion, but they don’t deserve to be in that spot.

Yes, the Buckeyes are unblemished this year, coming out on top every time they’ve walked on the field, but as Oklahoma State and Iowa have shown us, that simply isn’t enough.

Why is it that Ohio State’s run through cupcakes and unranked teams is good enough for number three, but Iowa’s two Top 25 wins or Oklahoma State’s Top 25 win isn’t as good a resume as Ohio State’s zero?

The argument is there that Iowa is very overrated due to the eye test, and I could buy that. Iowa might actually be the most overrated team in the top 10 at the moment. That being said, at least they have a few solid wins.

Yes, Oklahoma State’s non-conference schedule is as bad as, if not worse than Ohio State’s, but they still have more wins over ranked teams than the Buckeyes do.

Ohio State will have the time to prove it belongs in the next two weeks with their matchups against Michigan State and at Michigan, but until those happen, what have they really done, other than winning it all last year?

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Looking at their resumes all together, they are very similar. That being the case why does Ohio State get all the love?

Taking out a mediocre Virginia Tech on the road was a solid win, granted Lane Stadium is a tough place to play, especially at night, but is that good enough to be a top four team’s marquee win? If it isn’t that game it surely must’ve been sneaking past Mid-American Conference powerhouse Northern Illinois by seven, inside of the almighty Horseshoe. That one really must’ve impressed the committee.

Ohio State has beaten three bowl eligible teams at this point, and two of them are from the MAC in Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.

After looking at Ohio State’s body of work, I simply cannot find a reason to have them placed inside the top four at the moment.

Call me a hater, call me whatever you want because I’ve heard it all. Facts are facts and right now the Buckeyes don’t have the credentials of a top four team.

Truthfully speaking there are a number of teams with better resumes than Ohio State, even including teams that don’t have perfect seasons.

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Ohio State has an extremely talented team; there is no doubting that. Braxton Miller has made the transition from QB to WR look very smooth, Joey Bosa will play at a high level on Sunday’s for a long time, and Ezekiel Elliott is a special talent.

All of those cannot be denied.

A few other things that cannot be denied this year include the inconsistent quarterback play, the lack of a true deep threat offensively, an offensive line that has struggled, and a team captain pulling the “Do you know who I am?” while being arrested for OVI.

Keep in mind before you throw me to the Twitter wolves, that the Buckeyes still have plenty of time to prove themselves.

It just so happens that their season starts 11 weeks after the rest of the college football world.

Who Should Irish Fans Root For?

UPDATED 11/11

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s that time of year again.

Tuesday night the College Football Playoff Committee released their second Top 25 poll of the season. Now before you read any further, let me remind you that all of this is extremely fluid and is subject to change from week to week. For instance, Ohio State, last year’s eventual national champion was slotted at 16th in the opening poll of the season. Much can change between now and December 31st when the semi-final games are slated to be played.

With all of that said, Irish fans have to be extremely happy with the results that were revealed on November 10.

Notre Dame came in at fourth, the final spot of the playoff.

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The high ranking does hold some weight however. Common thought would be that if Notre Dame is able to win their remaining four games they will not be held out of the Final Four. This is due to the fact that Notre Dame has a resume building win remaining on the schedule at Stanford, and some of the other teams may take care of themselves.

Left in the season are a few elimination games, or at least games that have the potential to strongly affect the Final Four.

Among these are  many of the remaining Big 12 games, a possible matchup between an undefeated #3 Ohio State and an undefeated #5 Iowa in the B1G Championship Game, and Notre Dame’s late season trip to Palo Alto.

Last weekend, LSU was stomped in Tuscaloosa by the Crimson Tide. This caused LSU to fall out of the playoff picture for the time being, and Alabama sliding into the #2 spot that the Tigers briefly held. This, along with another Ole Miss loss, allows Alabama to control their own destiny on the way to an SEC Title Game.

 

Irish fans should root for:

Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeAndrew White (2) catches a touchdown over LSU Tigers safety Jalen Mills (28) during the overtime of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 20-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

 

With Alabama controlling their own destiny, and appearing to have a firm grip on a spot in the playoff, the best chance for a Crimson Tide loss would be this weekend in Starkville against Mississippi State, or in an eventual SEC Championship Game against the Florida Gators. Irish fans should be pulling for the Bulldogs and possibly the Gators as well. Although if Florida runs the table and wins the SEC, I would expect to see them garner a spot in the Final Four. As I said earlier I would be surprised if a two loss team would make the Final Four, but if it does happen, my money would be on it being Alabama.

The Big 12 is currently on the outside looking in as well. Baylor and Oklahoma State are both currently unbeaten, but find themselves sitting at six and eight, respectively. These two programs have played relatively weak schedules thus far, and also don’t play defense really well, if at all. The Cowboys do play much better defense than Baylor, but it is still nothing to write home about. That is just the way of life in the Big 12, and I think that the committee takes offense to that in their rankings. These two teams will square off on November 21st. It is very possible that Baylor could fall this week against the Oklahoma Sooners, a team that already has a loss. The Sooners lone hiccup is to Texas in the Red River Rivalry.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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Oklahoma to win out. This would leave Oklahoma as the one loss Big 12 champion. It just so happens that the Sooners loss would come to a team that Notre Dame beat by 35 points. If there would be an undefeated team left out, my money would be on it coming out of the Big 12.

The Big Ten, or B1G as the cool kids call it these days, has two teams in the top ten in Ohio State (3) and  Iowa (5). Yes, neither of them have been beaten thus far, but both have failed to notch an impressive win thus far.  The Buckeyes have looked extremely average in a few of their games, but they have looked like a top team in a few others. Iowa has played well, however their best win is due to a last second, 57-yard field goal over currently unranked Pitt. A good win, but not a marquee one per se.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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This scenario became a little clearer this past weekend with the loss of Michigan State to Nebraska. The hope is still for Michigan to win the conference, but now that is a little more likely to happen. If Ohio State can manage to defeat Illinois and Michigan State, and Michigan beats Indiana and Penn State, then that would set up a de facto B1G East Title Game on November 28 at the Big House between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines. Irish fans would be pulling for Michigan to upset the Buckeyes and later defeat Iowa to win the B1G. I would be very surprised to see a two loss B1G team sneak into the Final Four.

Out west, teams in the Pac 12 have not done themselves many favors this season. Stanford is the highest ranked team in the conference at seven, up four spots from last week. They are followed by Utah at ten. Every team in the conference has at least one loss at this point in the season. The best chance for a Pac 12 representative in the Final Four would be Stanford winning out.

Irish fans should root for:

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Stanford to win the Pac 12 title, with a loss to Notre Dame along the way. Sounds simple enough, right? It also would not hurt if USC won out, coupled with a Utah loss to set up a Pac-12 title game between two teams that Notre Dame would have defeated, assuring a win over a Power 5 Champion.

In the ACC things are far less complicated for Notre Dame fans. Obviously, the lone Irish loss of the season came in Death Valley to the Clemson Tigers. The hope would be that Clemson is able to finish an undefeated regular season and win the ACC crown. This would ensure that the Tigers reach the Final Four, and likely give Notre Dame the best loss that anyone in the country has. I hate the term best loss, but it would be true in this case. Clemson has a key game against Florida State this weekend. It also wouldn’t hurt Notre Dame if Pitt wins the remainder of their games after their clash with Notre Dame.

 

Irish fans should root for:

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Clemson to win every game, and look good doing it, until a rematch in the semi-finals against the Irish.

Elsewhere, Notre Dame fans should also be rooting strongly for Navy and Temple to continue their winning ways and meet up in the AAC Title Game. Navy has SMU, Tulsa, and Houston left in AAC play, and then the traditional Army-Navy game would be played after a potential AAC Title Game. The Temple Owls have USF, Memphis, and UCONN left on their schedule. Each team should be ranked in each of their remaining games.

Ultimately, none of this matters if Notre Dame is not able to win their next three games. The remaining slate for Notre Dame is Wake Forest at home, Boston College at Fenway Park, and finally a trip to Palo Alto for a showdown with Stanford. If the Irish take care of business, they’ll be playing on New Year’s Eve.

Big 12 Football Week 1

This week marks the start of college football. This is one of the biggest seasons for the Big 12 so far. They have a lot to prove after last year. Oklahoma State open up games for the Big 12 with Central Michigan on Thursday September 3rd. TCU also plays on Thursday against Minnesota at 8. On Friday SMU faces Baylor at 6. On Saturday Kansas plays South Dakota State at 11, Texas Tech plays Sam Houston State at 2:30, Oklahoma plays Akron at 6, Kansas State plays South Dakota at 6, Notre Dame plays Texas at 6:30, West Virginia plays Georgia Southern at 6:30 and Iowa State plays Northern Iowa at 7.

Oklahoma State vs. Central Michigan

There are still a lot of questions up in the air about Central Michigan because they have a new coach, but they are returning their QB who has proven to be good in the past so we shall see what that brings. Oklahoma State has a strong defense with a lot of starters returning. One of the things the Cowboys lack is a running back. Even though the Cowboys are on the road I still think they will win 28-7.

TCU vs. Minnesota

Minnesota has some big question marks on offense as they enter the 2015 season. Minnesota has to replace their lead rusher and leading receiver. Mitch Leidner is a dual threat QB so that will help ease Minnesota’s worries for the season.  Last year when the Gophers and Horned frogs faced each other Trevone Boykin made a name for himself. The TCU defense did too by causing much needed turnovers at the right time. I think Minnesota will be more prepared this season, but TCU will win 28-14.

SMU vs. Baylor

This game will mark the beginning of the Chad Morris coaching era at SMU. Hopefully it won’t be as embarrassing as it was last year for SMU. Baylor has a monster defense so in order to keep it a game the SMU offensive line has to have a huge game. Baylor will win 42-21.

Texas Tech vs. Sam Houston St.

The last time these two schools met Texas Tech own 80-21. Sam Houston State has greatly improved since then, Texas Tech, not so much. With Sam Houston state having a duel threat quarterback and a lot of starters returning they will be a threat to the Red Raiders. Tech has a history of struggling against dual threat quarterbacks and will be implementing a new defense I think Sam Houston State will pull out an upset and beat Tech 28-21.

Akron vs. Oklahoma

Akron quarterback Kyle Pohl is returning this season after completing over half of his passes last year. Akron is also returning key wide receivers and running backs. Their defense is also experienced but it won’t be enough to stop Trevor Knight, Coach Bob Stoops and wide receivers Sterling Shepard and and Durron Neal. OU will win the game 45-21.

 

Kansas State vs. South Dakota

South Dakota had major problems last year. They couldn’t pass the ball and their defense couldn’t stop anyone. These are two major components to win football games. Their defense has changed completely so we will see if that helps them at all this game. Kansas State will look a lot different on the offensive side this year. Bill Snyder has yet to name a starting quarterback, but will most likely be Jesse Ertz. The Wildcats also have an unproven group of receivers to replace Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. The Wildcats should win the game 35-14.

Notre Dame vs. Texas

Notre Dame will be returning seventeen starters this year and will also bring back a lot of guys that were injured. Malik Zaire is taking over at quarterback and he did a really good job against LSU in the bowl game. Tyrone Swoops needs to be more consistent playing quarterback for Texas. The O line also needs to be more consistent to help Swoops. This will be the biggest game for the Big 12 this week, but Texas won’t win. Notre Dame will pull out the victory 21-10.

West Virginia vs. Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern proved they were a good football team last year by winning the Sunbelt Championship. They are only returning some key players and their secondary isn’t supposed to be as good as it was last year. West Virginia looks to have a solid start to the season after having seven or less wins their last three seasons. Skyler Howard is West Virginias starting quarterback and their receivers, running back and key defensive starters all return. West Virginia should win this game, but it could be battle in the first half. West Virginia will win 42-28.

Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa won at Jack Trice Stadium two years ago, but Iowa State is going to make sure that doesn’t happen again. The Panthers were not sure at the beginning of camp with was going to start for them at quarterback, so quarterback Sam Richardson will be the most experienced quarterback on the field which could come in handy. Iowa State will win 28-7.

Kansas vs. South Dakota State

South Dakota State is coming off of another nine win season. South Dakota State is bringing some experience into this season and could have another nine win season again this year.  The Jayhawks have a new coach and will have to replace a lot of players they lost on the defensive side. This game will really prove what the Jayhawks need to bring to the table the rest of the season. I think KU will win 35-21.

Big 12 Football is Back

A week from Saturday college football will be back on your TV. The wait is almost over and I am very excited about it. This year the Big 12 has two schools that are in the top 5 in the preseason coaches poll. TCU (#2) and Baylor (#4) the two teams that competed last year for the Big 12 title and the two teams that barely missed the college football playoffs. We will see what happens this year but if the Big 12 misses out on another playoff series I hope they make it so there is a Championship game next year. The Big 12 has to make a few other changes in order to compete with other conferences again.

Teams in the Big 12 need to win the important non con games. Last year teams in the Big 12 did not impress anyone with who they played. They need to schedule non con games tougher so they can prove just how good they really are. Some Big 12 teams did play decent teams but they did not have an impressive record against them. This year the biggest non con Big 12 games to watch are: TCU at Minnesota on September 3rd, Oklahoma at Tennessee on September 12th, Texas Tech at Arkansas on September 19th and West Virginia vs. Maryland on September 26th.

The Big 12 preseason power rankings shouldn’t really surprise anyone. TCU is #1, they are supposed to have the best offense in the country, but their defense has some questions. They have to replace 5 all-conference performers from last season but have some solid returners in safety Derrick Kindred and defensive tackle Davion Pierson. Baylor is #2 and is bringing back a lot of starters on their excellent offense and defensive line. Oklahoma State is #3 their season will depend on how well their sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph does.  Oklahoma State also has questions about their running back and defensive end. Oklahoma is #4 and made a whole bunch of changes to their coaching staff to try to compete this year for the first time since 2008. They have two quarterbacks competing for the position but have a great running back in Salmaje Perine and a great receiver in Sterling Shepard to help whatever quarterback they decide to choose. West Virginia is #5 and Dana Holgorsen has great confidence in his team and says that this is the best defense he has even been associated with. So if their offense can score and not turn the ball over they may finish ahead of the preseason poll.

Texas is #6 and is still trying to find an adequate QB. Tyrone Swoops is still the favorite to win the job, but Jerrod Heard has come on strong in the spring and may beat out Swoops this fall. Kansas State is #7 and has a long battle of rebuilding this year. There is a four way battle to replace QB Jake Waters and not a lot of receivers to replace the ones the Wildcats lost. Texas Tech is #8 and may continue to still struggle if it can’t deal with the turnovers and penalties this season. Iowa State is #9 and has the second most experienced quarterback in the league. They will have a good passing attack, but if they get off to a slow start like they have in the past that will not get them anywhere. Kansas is #10 and with a new coach they will more than likely not finish last. David Beaty has brought some energy and excitement to Jayhawks Football and doesn’t look like quitting anytime soon. This season should be interesting for the Big 12 and hopefully they can catch a break come playoff season.