Tag Archives: Utah Utes

Mock College Football Playoff 2016: Week 11

Welcome to the third week of Campus Pressbox’s official mock playoff committee. Every Tuesday I’ll be publishing the top 10 based on a group vote. You can view the previous weeks’ results here.

The committee:

Tim Bach (@Tbach84)
Kristen Botica (@OGKristenB)
Damien Bowman (@damienbowman)
Mitch Gatzke (@GreatGatzke)
Cooper Goetz (@uf_goetz)
John Horlander (@John_Horlander)
Seth Merenbloom (@SethMerenbloom)
Evan Skilliter (@Skilliter)
Ben Belden (@bbelden330), Writer- Slap the Sign
Cole Hankins (@Cole_Hankins), Writer- SB Nation
Thomas Gardner
J.R. Goetz

The rules:

Each week, committee members will submit their top 10 teams and each team will receive points based on their position. The team’s will be ranked 1-10 based on which has the most points. Ties will be broken by which team has the highest votes in a specific position.

Points are assigned as follow: first place – 10, second place – 9, third place – 8, fourth place – 7, fifth place – 6, sixth place – 5, seventh place – 4, eighth place – 3, ninth place – 2, tenth place – 1.

Week 11 Results:

Place Team Points First Place Votes
1 Alabama (1) 120 12
2 Ohio State (6) 102
3 Louisville (5) 89
4 Michigan (2) 88
5 Clemson (3) 76
6 Wisconsin (7) 55
7 Washington (4) 47
8 Oklahoma (9) 37
9 Penn State (10) 23
10 West Virginia 12
Additional Votes: Western Michigan 4
Colorado 2
Oklahoma State 2
USC 2
Utah 1

(#)=last week’s position.

Playoff:

Bowl Teams
Peach No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Michigan
Fiesta No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Louisville

 

New Year’s Six:

Bowl Teams Tie In
Orange No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 9 Penn State ACC vs. Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC
Cotton At Large vs. At Large
Rose No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No 7 Washington Big Ten vs. Pac-12
Sugar No. 8 Oklahoma vs. LSU Big 12 vs. SEC

 

Notes and Observations:

  • In a surprise to no one, Alabama received all of the first place votes for the third consecutive week.
  • Up until this week, Louisville had been in front of Ohio State by a single vote each week. This week, the Buckeyes jumped the Cardinals and have a secure 13 point cushion for the No. 2 spot.
  • In general, there was a lot less certainty following all the losses this past weekend. The standard deviation was definitely much larger this week compared to weeks previous.

 This Saturday’s Marquee Matches

No. 3 Louisville @ Houston Cougars (8 PM)

No. 8 Oklahoma @ No. 10 West Virginia (8 PM)

Washington St. @ Colorado (3:30 PM)

Our Work:

For transparency, here is how each member of the committee voted this week:

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-51-48-pm

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @uf_goetz
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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The Oversaturation Killing the NFL is Good for College Football

All this time, the NFL has seemed so bullet-proof, but we’re seeing vulnerability in the armor. People aren’t watching as much, and they don’t like the way the product is being dispersed.

What plagues the professional game actually seems to aid college football. While we understand Saturday remains the best day to see the best games, we don’t feel like the occasional Thursday or Friday games are scheduled to do us dirty.

You want to play one of these games on the moon at 4 o’clock on a Tuesday, College Football fans will adjust. Just tell them when/where the tailgate is, and they’re cool.

Tell an NFL fan that Sunday Ticket is only offering a game that his antenna won’t in the late spot on Sunday, and they’re livid with London and Thursday Night Football. The presentation of the NFL game is too clean for fans to adapt to these random game-time windows.

College Football fans see Thursday, and now also Tuesday and Wednesday, as an opportunity to showcase a game that might be buried on ESPNU or some dreaded streaming option at noon on Saturday.

Western Michigan is the “Other” Team

Last Tuesday, the nation’s “other” unbeaten team had the undivided attention of the College Football diehards in Muncie. Maybe a 32-point win over Ball State isn’t that sexy on paper, but did you see what Corey Davis did?

Do you feel anything was flukey about Western Michigan’s 9-0 start? Maybe you understand the pecking order, and where the Mid-American Conference gets pecked. Maybe there’s an obligation to qualify the two road wins over the Big Ten by reminding everyone that Illinois was one of those wins. Maybe you wonder if the MAC juggernaut deserves to be on the field with a mid-major darling like Boise State.

Friday night, by the way, a nationwide audience was given a chance to watch the other Broncos bounce back from their first loss of the season, which happened on October 29.

Remember the 80s?

Just for kicks, you could have watched games involving Oklahoma and Colorado last Thursday. Maybe something like that would have excited you more 25-30 years ago, but those games affect the outcome of the Big 12 and Pac-12, because the present is weird.

You love it, and it takes nothing away from Saturday afternoon or evening.

Election Threads and Football on the Diamond

This coming Tuesday, Eastern Michigan will continue a semi-annual MAC tradition of paying homage to democracy with Election Day uniforms, back in Muncie–for #MACtion. Speaking of everyone’s favorite non-defense-playing conference, you’ll be sure to see Cubs fans from DeKalb to Northern Ohio trolling Guaranteed Rate Field on Chicago’s south side this Wednesday.

It’s football at a baseball stadium. Yeah, Northwestern and Illinois got Wrigley on a Saturday, and GameDay went to Wrigleyville. This next chapter in the great Toledo-Northern Illinois saga might get Roy Philbott, Rocky Boiman, and an ESPN2 production crew to urban Illinois on a school night.

Does Anyone Get Pac-12 Network?

Thursday, we get Utah in the Valley of the Sun, for the FS1 weekend preview. It’s up to the Utes to prove that anyone other than Washington is worth a damn in that conference. This game isn’t being stolen from ABC at 3:30, but more likely from a channel you don’t get, even if you live in Phoenix or Salt Lake City.

NBC is Glad It’s You, Not Them

CBS gave you three games on Saturday, just as they would when they have London and the 1 PM/4 PM doubleheader on Sunday. They got Notre Dame because they have Navy rights. Notre Dame lost again; great moment for Navy. Is College Football worse off for the Irish’s 3-6 campaign?

I doubt CBS or Navy care. They’re going to care about records a lot more in December when they’re selling some lousy SEC East team’s upset potential against Alabama in Atlanta.

Hurts Donut?

Speaking of the Tide, Jalen Hurts may have provided the only offensive spark for Alabama in a 10-0 win in Death Valley at night. There’s a joke to be told including Alabama’s quarterback’s last name and a breakfast food that looks like a zero, but I’m striking out.

The networks are hitting it out of the park though and in doing so, they’ve won us over with quantity over quality. More may mean too much on Sunday, but we love it on Saturday, Thursday, and sometimes Tuesday.

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The Sunday Morning Notebook: Afternoon Edition

Please pardon my tardiness and please enjoy this week’s notebook.

 

Clemson Escapes Tallahassee

Deandre Francois did exactly what a quarterback can’t do on a fourth down with the game on the line – he took a sack.  That turnover on downs secured a 37-34 victory for Clemson to help the Tigers stay undefeated on the season.

Week-by-week, Deshaun Watson’s Heisman hopes continue to waiver.  His performances have been excellent, but his solid and consistent numbers are not staggering enough to earn him consideration for the award.

Last week, Watson’s performance was only average by Heisman standards (378 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, 35 rushing yards and a touchdown).  Yesterday, Watson completed 27 of 43 passes for 378 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.  He also rushed for 52 yards.

Watson still doesn’t stack up to Lamar Jackson. Jackson has thrown for more yards and a higher passer rating. They’ve also thrown the same amount of touchdowns.
We can officially count Watson out for the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Notes:

  • Florida State’s final drive was possibly the worst final, comeback-attempt drive a top 25 team has ever had.
    • The drive started on FSU 21-yard line.
    • The first two plays each resulted in a first down.  A third-down holding penalty on the fifth play of the drive created a third and 23 from FSU’s 40 yard-line, but Francois completed a 26-yard pass to Travis Rudolph for the first down on the Clemson 34, which should have set up a game-tying field goal.
    • However, two different FSU linemen moved early on consecutive plays, pushing the Seminoles back ten yards and out of field goal range.  Francois threw consecutive incompletions, then took a sack on 3rd and 20.  After an FSU timeout, Francois took another sack on 4th and 32.
    • To recap: Florida State committed three penalties for -20 yards and gave up two sacks for -33 yards, including one on fourth down that ended their attempt to tie or win the game.
  • Dalvin Cook has been outstanding.  Cook rushed 19 times for 169 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, including this 70 yard TD run.  After three sub-100 yard games to start the season, Cook has averaged 168.2 rushing yards and nearly two rushing touchdowns per game. He’s 5th in the nation in rushing yards and 10th in touchdowns.
  • Clemson should cruise through the rest of its regular season schedule with matchups against Syracuse, Pitt, Wake Forest and South Carolina remaining.

 

Washington Remains Unbeaten

Washington may be the most balanced team in the country.  Jake Browning is a solid passer/decision maker and Myles Gaskin is electric (he averages 6.5 yards per carry).  At the same time, the Huskies’ defense has been stout, helping the team win games by an average of 30.4 points per game.

Browning passed for 186 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, and Gaskin rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Utah’s effort should not go unnoticed, however.  Quarterback Troy Williams threw for 163 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.  Joe Williams carried the ball 35 times for 17 yards and a touchdown.  24 points are the second most points any team has scored on Washington all season.

Utah’s defense also held the Huskies’ offense to its fewest point total of the season.

Notes:

  • It’s very likely that the Utes and Huskies meet each other again in the Pac-12 championship game.  Utah is currently second, behind Colorado, in the Pac-12 South.  The two will meet in the last week of the season, which will likely decide the South champion.
  • Washington is tied with Washington State for first place in the North.  Washington will play Cal, USC, and Arizona State before a match-up with Washington State during the last week of the season, which could very well decide the North champion.

 

Cornhuskers Can’t Complete Comeback 

Many would consider Nebraska and Wisconsin to be the Big Ten’s third and fourth best teams. They surely played like it yesterday, as Wisconsin staved off a Nebraska comeback to beat the ‘Huskers 23-17 in overtime.

This was a defensive battle as neither team was able to get much going on the offensive end.  The only impressive offensive performance of the day came from Wisconsin’s Dare Ogunbowale.  Ogunbowale rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (10.9 YPC).

Notes:

  • Nebraska still controls its own destiny in the Big Ten west.  It is currently ahead of Wisconsin with a 4-1 mark in the conference, but the Cornhuskers still have Ohio State to get through.  Wisconsin has a much more favorable remaining schedule (Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota).

 

Other Notes:

-Jimbo Fisher wasn’t happy with the referees.

-Les Miles really wants a new job.

-Boise State lost to the only team that can pull off a brown and yellow uniform combo.

Evan Berry is very fast

-Texas probably has no idea what to do with Charlie Strong. Just when it seems Strong will be axed, he wins a game like yesterday’s upset of Baylor.

-Notre Dame upset Miami but somehow still looked bad.

 

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

Photo: Flickr, Phil Roeder

The Sunday Morning Notebook- Meyer, Tide, Utes, and More

Meyer Makes a Mistake

Urban Meyer proved he is a human last night.  His delayed decision to rush his kicking team onto the field late in the game turned a makeable field goal try into six points for Penn State.  Taking three points on a long field goal attempt was uncharacteristic for Meyer in the first place, and the hesitation only made the attempt more difficult.

Those six points gave the Nittany Lions a 24-21 lead with 4:27 left in the game, and the Buckeyes couldn’t answer.

It’s not common for Meyer to make coaching mistakes. That’s an obvious statement if you know anything about his career.  He’s 56-5 as Ohio State’s head coach, and 160-28 all time. When it’s all said and done, this will be an insignificant event in a hall of fame coach’s illustrious career.

For now, though, this loss could be significant.

There are just five weeks left before the Buckeyes host Michigan on November 26, and those five weeks include a meeting with undefeated Nebraska.  A one loss Ohio State squad will likely get into the playoff with a win over Michigan and a Big Ten Championship in the last two weeks of the season.  A two-loss Ohio State team may still get into the playoff with the same resume.

But what if Ohio State beats Michigan and loses in the Big Ten Championship. What if they beat Michigan by a small margin and lose in the Big Ten Championship? Does one loss, conference championship-less Michigan get in over the Bucks?

The “what-ifs” are endless, but if the Buckeyes would have taken care of business last night we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Notes:

  • J.T. Barrett’s Heisman stock took a slight hit.  His numbers were still impressive, but not nearly impressive enough for a player trying to keep pace with Lamar Jackson.  Barrett completed 24 of 43 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown.  His 26 rushing yards were the fewest he’s registered in a game all season, and last night marks just the third time in 2016 that Barrett hasn’t recorded a rushing touchdown.
  • There was absolutely a missed pass interference call on Penn State with a little over a minute left, but there is plenty more for fans to be angry about.  They can start with Ohio State’s offensive line, which gave up six sacks.
  • Penn State Head Coach James Franklin has been on the hot seat all season, but this win likely buys him another year.
  • ESPN’s Mark May never picks Ohio State. If you haven’t heard, he’s been pretty biased against the Buckeyes his whole television career.  However, he picked Ohio State to win last night. Must have been a reverse psychology trick.

Alabama Wins, Then Loses

The most anticipated game of the weekend was a battle of undefeated teams as sixth-ranked Texas A&M traveled to Tuscaloosa to take on number one Alabama.  After falling behind 14-13 early in the second half, Alabama outscored A&M 20-0 in the last 27:54 in the game en route to a 33-14 victory.

A&M went into Saturday’s matchup averaging over 530 yards of total offense per game (1st in SEC), but Alabama, statistically the conference’s second-best defense, held the Aggies to just 278 offensive yards.

‘Bama quarterback Jalen Hurts continued his stellar freshman season by turning in 93 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He added two more touchdowns and 164 yards through the air.

Alabama did receive some bad news, however, after senior defensive back Eddie Jackson was diagnosed with a broken leg. He is not expected to return this season.  Jackson averages three tackles per game, but plays a big part in the defensive backfield and on special teams. He has one interception returned for a touchdown this season, and he averages 25.8 yards per punt return with two touchdowns.

Notes:

  • Alabama sacked Trevor Knight five times.  The Tide average 3.86 sacks per game, which is good for third in the nation.
  • This fumble recovery for a touchdown marked Alabama’s 10th game in a row in which they’ve scored a non-offensive touchdown.
  • For weeks I’ve been calling Ohio State the best team in the country. After this weekend’s events, I have to eat my words. I’m not sure Ohio State wasn’t more impressive than the Tide for the first part of the season, but Alabama has earned that title.

 

Utah’s Williams Runs Wild in a Classic Pac-12 Shootout

Just over a month ago, Utah’s Joe Williams decided to quit the football team because he wasn’t passionate about the game anymore.

Yesterday, that same Joe Williams rushed for 332 yards and four touchdowns as the Utes outlasted UCLA 52-45.

That’s right, a guy that quit the team and decided to come back a month later turned in college football’s best rushing performance of the season.

You can read about his story elsewhere.

While we’re on the topic of staggering stats, UCLA backup quarterback Mike Fafaul, who was filling in for the injured Josh Rosen, attempted 70 passes, only 19 shy of Connor Halliday’s NCAA record of 89 attempts in 2013.  Fafaul completed 40 of those attempts for 464 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions.

Notes:

  • Utah is 7-1 this season, with a 4-1 mark against Pac-12 opponents.  The Utes are in first place in the Pac-12 South.  Next week they will host the undefeated Washington Huskies, who are ranked number five in the nation.  Don’t miss it.
  • In a preseason media poll, UCLA was picked to finished first in the Pac-12 South Division.  The Bruins are currently 3-5 overall and are fifth out of six teams in the Pac-12 South.

 

Other Notes:

-11th Ranked Houston lost 38-16 to SMU. That’s the Cougars’ second loss of the season. If Tom Herman’s Cougars keep struggling, Herman’s price tag could drop significantly.

-Lamar Jackson was excellent once again. Jackson accounted for 359 yards and four touchdowns in Louisville’s win over North Carolina State — in the first half.  After easing up on the gas in the second half, Jackson finished with 355 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and another 76 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  He is still the clear favorite to win the Heisman trophy.

-Leonard Fournette returned from injury and broke LSU’s single game rushing record after just eight carries.  Fournette finished the night with video game numbers, amassing 284 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. That’s an average of 17.8 yards per carry.

-Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook has been on an absolute tear during the last four weeks. After his receiving performance of 202 yards and two touchdowns last night against Texas Tech, Westbrook is averaging 194 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game over his last four games.

-I’d mention the rest of Oklahoma’s unbelievable offensive performances from last night, but playing against Big 12 defenses isn’t nearly as impressive as it used to be.

-BYU made the gutsiest fake punt call of the season, and perhaps ever.  It didn’t work.

-However, this Virginia fake-ish field goal did work, and it was awesome.

 

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

Photo: Wikipedia

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At .500, Cal is at a Crossroad

After four games last year, the California Golden Bears were sitting pretty at 4-0. Hopes were high. The necessary talent was there with an elite quarterback, swift, sticky-handed receivers, and four diverse, yet effective, running backs. Cal had all the offensive firepower to make some noise in the Pac-12.

Of course, their Achilles heel, a much-improved, yet not-quite-there defense, was exposed too often to make Cal a legitimate contender in the Pac-12. However, Cal was good enough to post its first winning record since 2011’s 7-6 mark. To boot, Cal reached and won a bowl game (a 55-36 win over Air Force Academy in the Armed Forces Bowl).

I mentioned all of that to say this: Cal is not undefeated after four games this year. It doesn’t have world-beaters on the offensive side of the ball as in years past. Yet, it has the rarest of opportunities to mask those two blemishes in the loss column this Saturday.

Currently, the Golden Bears are 2-2, with a notable win over previously 11th ranked Texas.

Not bad.

In their two losses, both coming in the waning moments of each contest, Cal had the opportunity to change its fate. Against #19 San Diego State, Cal quarterback Davis Webb had the Bears knocking on the door for what would have been the go-ahead score and win. Unfortunately, Webb threw a costly interception that sealed the deal.

Last week at Arizona State, costly turnovers and a returned onside kick foiled what should have been a decisive victory. In retrospect, any time you give up 31 points in a quarter, you deserve to lose, hands down! Great game, Sun Devils.

Now at .500, facing what will no-doubt be a very difficult stretch to close out the season, Cal is at the inevitable crossroads all .500 teams encounter.

Which way will it go?

Currently on a two-game skid with #18 Utah coming to Strawberry Canyon, Cal is in quite the predicament. Utah (4-0, 1-0) is a talented bunch with an impressive defense and an effective run game, all the tools necessary to slow down that Bear Raid offense and make this one a real grinder.

If there was ever a statement game of the season, this one against #18 Utah would be it. This could be the monumental upswing that they have been looking for. If the Bears can knock off another ranked opponent, they will clearly show that they can hang with the “big boys” and be in prime position to make a run at the Pac-12 title.

If Cal can pull off the upset this weekend, I believe the preseason consideration it received will be reinstated. Cal would have to be recognized as a quality program worthy of a national ranking.

All (and I do mean all) the teams in the Pac-12 are in a down year. There are no clear favorites and every game is ripe for the taking. It just depends on which team is willing to reach for it. I know some may argue #10 Washington is very much worthy of the ranking and void of criticism. After Friday’s game against # 7 Stanford, we’ll have a bit more meat to chew on in that regard.

As far as Stanford is concerned, it goes as Christian McCaffrey goes.

Until then, I stand by my words. Every team in the Pac-12 is ripe for the taking. And it just so happens that both teams are on Cal’s upcoming schedule. Foreshadowing much?

Of course, if Cal lays an egg this Saturday, all won’t be lost per se.  They would have to gather themselves and march on to the next opponent. A third consecutive loss definitely affects the psyche. It very well could lead to a spiraling and eventual bottoming out. The season will go up in flames.

It’s sad, because there was optimism in this year’s Golden Bears. In the end, it’s up to Coach Sonny Dykes to rally the troops regardless of this weekend’s outcome. If Cal takes another loss this Saturday, you can kiss all hopes of a Pac-12 title away. However, consecutive trips to a bowl game are not entirely out of the picture. But we’re trying to aim high here! Bowl games are secondary to a conference title. Hell, you can make a bowl game and get the brakes beat off you. Where’s the fun in that? If you capture a conference championship, that accomplishment can never be taken away. That’s forever. As Michael ‘Squints’ Palledorous from “The Sandlot” put it, it’s “foooooreevvvvvvvvver”

Looking at the entire college football landscape, there are improbable wins and losses every week. It really has come down to which team shows up on Friday or Saturday. For Cal, it showed up to each and every game thus far. Admittedly, they checked out a bit early on a couple games. Nonetheless, Bears have demonstrated that they are a competitive and resilient bunch.

It’s time Coach Dykes makes good on the extension he received this offseason and gave a little return on investment to his employers. If he’s able to pull off the improbable, they will sing his praises for seasons to come. If not, well, cue the familiar song of ineptitude that has been playing in the background for quite some time.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @VirgosAssasin

Featured image courtesy of Eric Chan/ Flickr

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USC Is A Waste Of Space

Look, I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way: I hate the University of Southern California.

I’ve hated USC for years. Even before he was Khaki Jesus, I cheered when Jim Harbaugh ran up the score and went for two. It made my day when Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman. It made me even happier when USC had to vacate a National Championship.

Really, I think it all goes back to when I was first exposed to Pete Carroll. That guy was so arrogant and I guess when you assemble teams like he did, you can be. But they were never “clean” teams. There was so much money flowing through that place it should have been insured by the FDIC. 

Carroll fled to the NFL once he got wind of all the sanctions that were coming. USC brings in Lane Kiffin, who had never accomplished anything. His entire claim to fame is that he’s Monte Kiffin’s kid and I guess now that he’s Alabama’s offensive coordinator he has something to boast about. Quite frankly, once Pete Carroll bolted, that’s the last time USC was not only relevant, but good.

Kiffin brought in some highly-touted recruits but did nothing with them. All his teams were ranked highly but ended up flaming out, which lead to him being pulled off the team bus and being fired. I mean, that’s brutal and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like Lane Kiffin.

The post-Carroll USC program is like an older quarterback in fantasy football. Deep down, you know that this particular quarterback isn’t actually any good anymore (see, 2015 Peyton Manning) but you draft him in the early rounds anyway. That’s what USC is. They’re still getting ranked because Pete Carroll made them into a household name despite not having won more than a divisional title since Carroll’s last year in 2009. They play in a watered down Pac-12 that helps inflate their records. If they were in the SEC or the Big Ten, they wouldn’t have more than seven or eight wins a year. Oh wait, they’ve only done that twice anyway.

You know what? I’m going to take this one further.

USC is going to be the new Notre Dame.

Notre Dame won a couple titles decades ago and has been leaning on them ever since. It has been essentially irrelevant in the world of college football, well, pretty much since I was a kid. That was a while ago, in case you were wondering. Leaning on those past titles is exactly what USC is going to do.

Look no further than this season for proof.

After inexplicably trying to piss off Alabama, the 20th ranked Trojans got absolutely decimated. Like, beat so bad that it wasn’t even funny after a while. They couldn’t even muster 200 yards of offense. Then, after a bounce-back cupcake game against Utah State, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey basically beat them on his own. Against a school with actual talent, the Trojans fold quickly.

Just like Notre Dame did. Oh, excuse me. Just like Notre Dame did twice. Well, I guess we’ll find out which one folds better in the last week of the season.

I look forward to watching USC getting picked by everyone to beat Utah this weekend and then crapping the bed. USC just benched its quarterback and that always ends well. Utah can score and doesn’t give up a lot of points. It will be considered an upset even though it’s really not when the Utes deliver the Trojans their third loss.

If it was any other program, USC would be forgotten in a few years. But when it comes to college football, the media has strangely long memories. We’re due to watch USC be overrated for at least four or five more years before it finally fades into oblivion.

 

E-mail Tim at [email protected].

Image Courtesy Flickr

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China is a Bad Match for the Pac-12

The recent business pulled from North Carolina due to a transgender law on the books brought up a question about the Pac-12. If the social justice warriors are so upset about the law in North Carolina, what about the Pac-12 doing business with China?

People get behind things that fit their own personal narrative about what is right and wrong. However, when it comes to China people see business and money, not social justice.

If you follow world politics, you know that China is one of the biggest human rights violators. China is a communist country for those of you that conveniently forget that. They also provide a ton of business for the United States. Thus, the crux of the question with China.

The Pac-12 is no different from any other entity, it is looking to expand its brand in this new global economy. While I am all for the Pac-12 expanding its brand and making money,  doing it in China is a bad idea.

I have many questions about this expansion of brand.

What is the end game of these dealings in China? How much is the league spending on this Asian adventure? Do the human rights violations mean anything to anybody?

It is something that does confuse me.

Larry Scott calls this branding expansion a Global Initiative.

“It’s about international brand building, engagement and relationship development. Asia is globally significant to us,” Scott said.

Last year, when the Washington Huskies and the Texas Longhorns had a basketball game in China, the importance of China was clearly shown by university presidents.

David Pershing, the University of Utah President went with the Pac-12 contingent to China for that basketball game. His team wasn’t even involved in the game.

Why would Pershing come along? University presidents see a population that could possibly attend and spend money at their school. Once again, the bottom line is what they see.  They don’t see what the Chinese government does to its citizens.

I understand the attraction of China. It’s a market with a billion people, but it is a market that is suppressed by the government.

Doing business in China means doing business with the Chinese government. The same government that squashed a pro-democracy movement at Tiananmen Square in 1989. People stood in front of tanks, sacrificed their lives, and the lives of their families by taking a stand against their government.

One of the things that the Pac-12 prides itself on is being transparent in its business dealings. Well, excuse me if I don’t buy the transparency part when you crawl into bed with the Chinese.

The conference spent approximately $726,000 on these Global Initiatives in China. Shouldn’t this amount of money be put towards fighting human rights violations in China?

If you want a true Global Initiative, that would be a good one to start for the Pac-12.

I think the conference presidents would benefit more from that with their students, instead of spending that money on athletics.

The Pac-12 Conference should be about what is good for the whole, not just itself. By telling China thanks, but no thanks, you tell other businesses that human rights are more important. Money takes a back seat to what benefits society.

While we throw our monetary condemnation on North Carolina for having a ridiculous law, we need to have the same reaction when we go over to China to do business. If Chinese officials want the business of the Pac-12, they need to show that they are serious about being fair to their own citizens.

However, that won’t happen. Money is what college athletics is about and that will not change anytime soon.

The Chinese will continue to do what they do and the Pac-12 will continue to turn a blind eye to human rights in China.

 

E-mail Mike Wilson at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

Image: Creative Commons

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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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Image courtesy of James Santelli, Neon Tommy – Flickr

The Cartel and the Mid-Majors, Why Scheduling Matters

Imagine pulling for a team that can’t possibly win a championship, and not just because they aren’t good enough.  In College Football, it might literally be impossible to even qualify for a championship based on the company we keep.  Because of that, and that alone, it falls on the schedule-makers at Nobody U to make said program outside the Cartel relevant to the national conversation.

That’s not to say any of the participants from “non-qualifying” conferences ever really diluted the product, quite the opposite, in fact.

Boise State was the nation’s only unbeaten team from the 2006 season. The Broncos had to ‘settle’ for that historic Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.   Meanwhile, one-loss Florida took down Ohio State in the bigger game on that same field in Arizona a week later.  After Boise State’s 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma, their quarterback was asked if they deserved a title shot, and he said he thought so.  He wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t quite all-the-way right either.

That perfect Boise State squad scheduled Division I-AA Sacramento State, a 10-win Oregon State team, Wyoming, and Utah in a down year, out of conference. None of their Western Athletic Conference rivals were ranked at the time of their game against the Broncos or the end of the season, so it was very difficult to argue their body of work against that of Ohio State’s or Florida’s for a spot in the two-team playoff.  Being undefeated basically became the standard for the Broncos, but even non-league wins over Oregon, Virginia Tech, and Georgia were not enough for National Championship consideration.  Playing other mid-majors in 8 or 9 contests per year, it impresses no one.

What are the contenders in the American, Conference-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt doing to chase down more than just small conference glory? What type of 2016 schedule might qualify these nobodies for the very exclusive tournament that College Football uses to crown its champion?

American Athletic Conference

The geography of this league lends itself to some really good non-conference games, as SMU gets backyard games with TCU and Baylor, but the team with a schedule worthy of national consideration is Houston.  Sure, they’re playing Lamar, and I will not support any playing of FCS opponents by teams that want to be the best of the FBS, but I’ll let it go for Oklahoma and Louisville.  The Sooners and Cardinals will both play Houston in Houston, which should be good enough if they survive the AAC.

Conference USA

Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) is going to attract the big boys to the Alamo Dome, but they will usually have to reciprocate with a road game. This year, they host Arizona State in September and take a trip to College Station, where Texas A&M will host them in November.  Don’t expect competitive games.  I might like Marshall’s gauntlet of ACC adversaries, if they weren’t coming immediately after an opening slate of Morgan State and Akron. Like Marshall, Western Kentucky will be taking on Louisville, but we’re focused on their Week 2 matchup. They’ll tussle with Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, so should there be a running of the table, the Hilltoppers may get to dance.

Mid-American Conference

There might be a case to be made for Northern Illinois, but Bowling Green accompanies their visit to Columbus to play Ohio State with solid mid-major matchups against Middle Tennessee State and Memphis. They’ll see both NIU and Toledo in conference play, games they need to win for anyone to take them seriously, especially if Ohio State doesn’t boat-race them in the opener.

Mountain West

Boise State will make headlines in some markets with their Pac-12 opponents, at home against Washington State and in Corvallis versus the Oregon State Beavers, but BYU may give them their biggest challenge. However, it is the much traveled Hawaii Rainbow Warriors that play Cal, Michigan, and Arizona.  Those are all long-ish to long road trips against 2016 teams that are much better than their 2015 counterparts.

Sun Belt

If I skipped this section or listed FCS schools in this paragraph, would you even notice?

On a serious note, Troy plays Clemson, which is cool, but it’s off-set it is by playing the dregs of the FBS in Idaho. Austin Peay and Southern Miss don’t move the needle for me either, looking at the Trojans schedule. However, our eye is on Appalachian State.  The team best known for upsetting Michigan in 2007 is going FCS-free in ‘16, visiting the best Tennessee Volunteers team anyone has seen in years, and they convinced The U to come to Boone, North Carolina. The Mountaineers have already won, if you ask me.

At the end of the day, if we’re talking about those four lines and those two semi-final games, to open our game’s championship up to the anyone outside of the Cartel, it’s probably Houston.

E-mail Jeff at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ByJeffRich.

(featured photo via Sporting News.com)

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Pac-12 Football Media Days

A media day can be an interesting thing to attend or it can digress into a couple days of coach and player speak. Coaches know what they want the media to know and the players have been told what to focus on in their interviews. This was certainly the case here in Hollywood, California for the Pac-12 Football Media Days.

State of the Conference

The Pac-12 Media Days in Hollywood began with a “state of the conference” speech from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Will Scott get hammered on the conference’s television contract, Directv, or nine-game schedule?

Not really.

Larry Scott discussed, with pride, the amount of athletes going to the Rio Olympics from the conference. He also was boastful about the new venture with Twitter which will expand their streaming capabilities and give fans of the Pac-12 something new to use when looking for highlights of their favorite Pac-12 team. There will also be more technology streaming with Facebook Live and putting all 12 conference teams on a conference YouTube channel. It’s obvious that they are taking to technology advances and trying to use it to their advantage to bring in more Pac-12 fans.

With Silicon Valley being physically in the lay of the conference, the Pac-12 should be doing what it is doing with technology. It’s an absolute no-brainer for the conference and for their fans.

Once Larry Scott was finished it was onto the run of coaches for this first day of Pac-12 Football Media Days.

Arizona Wildcats

Rich Rodriguez was in the leadoff position and was still in vacation mode when he took the microphone.

“I’d rather still be on vacation for another week than be here. Let’s get this rolling,” Rodriguez quipped.

One of the focuses for Arizona is to keep quarterback Anu Solomon healthy and to get more consistency from him. When asked, Rich Rodriguez agreed.

“Anu is getting better but we need more consistency from him and we are also going to put more responsibility on him this season,” Rodriquez stated.

California Golden Bears

Next up was California head coach Sonny Dykes.

Dykes seemed most pleased with his players raising their grades on the APR of the team than anything. Which, in and of itself, is a great thing to hear from a major college football coach these days.

Dykes mentioned that they have to overcome losing the talented Jared Goff. He mentioned that quarterback position is still open and will continue to be through the first week or two of camp. His staff will make a decision on the position around then.

It might have been kind of tough for Sonny Dykes to follow a gregarious guy in Rich Rodriguez and be the guy before Clayton Helton of USC.

USC Trojans

Clay Helton took to the microphone and it seemed like all of the media was upon him. It was like sharks circling their prey.

One thing you get real quick about Helton is that when you listen to him speak, you get a sense that he wants to be on the field playing. I certainly would want to be a young player at USC playing for him.

Being a part of USC means you have to come to work every day because of the amount of talent that is seeping from the program.

“You come to USC to compete. We play in a playoff system world. You’re building your resume when you come to USC.” Helton said.

When asked about the pressures of being at USC, he simply said he will gladly take it.

“If you don’t want the pressure, don’t take the job,” Helton told the hordes of reporters surrounding him.

Like many other conference schools, he is dealing with a quarterback issue between Max Browne and Sam Darnold. According to Helton, it’s a very open competition right now and won’t be decided until the last couple weeks of fall camp.

Oregon Ducks

“Win the day” is the saying at Oregon, but can they win the conference? Can they win their division? Many people believe its Stanford’s conference this year, yet head coach Mark Helfrich doesn’t seem to care.

“We have to worry about watching enough film to have a good practice and game. We don’t worry about rankings. It’s not our focus,” Helfrich explained.

The Ducks have a quarterback battle going on as well. Helfrich still calls it an open competition, however, I still think it’ll be Dakota Prukop winning the starting position.

Washington State Cougars

Mike Leach is probably the most entertaining coach of this day. Usually the coach has some opening remarks for the assembled media, but not Leach.

“If you know me at all, you know I don’t do opening remarks. Let’s get this thing rolling,” Leach said.

He is just a guy who speaks his mind, whether or not the media or fans like it. He doesn’t care.

Leach has quarterback Luke Falk coming back and when asked about what he needs to see out of Falk this year, the answer was simple.

“Consistency. He’s not a guy that has a glaring weakness anywhere, but consistency is needed,” Leach said.

The Cougars will be challenging everybody this year and could even be considered a dark horse in the division. With a talented quarterback and guys at the skill positions who are threats, Leach could lead this team to something special.

Utah Utes

Kyle Whittingham of Utah was the last to appear on the media stage. He lost Travis Wilson and Devontae Booker to graduation and the NFL, so those positions are a concern.

“We got to get the quarterback position question resolved. It’ll be an open competition entering fall camp,” Whittingham explained.

Whittingham likes how his team has gradually got better every year they have been in the Pac-12 and he doesn’t expect that to change.

I don’t expect that to change either. If ever there was guy to weather a big change in his football program, it is certainly Kyle Whittingham.

Image: Google