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Monday, January 24, 2011

My 2010 Season in Review: ACC Atlantic

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material!

For the past few seasons, Clemson has been at the top of the Atlantic division but this season the Tigers found themselves at the bottom. I’m sure not having All-Everything CJ Spiller in the arsenal anymore certainly made some difference. 

Florida State
I thought Florida State would be good this season, but I thought its tough schedule would prevent FSU from winning 10 games. The Seminoles not only won 10 games this season, but also beat both Miami and Florida. In the world of recruiting, those wins were huge for FSU’s program especially considering that both of those schools bring in new coaches in 2011. The ACC definitely needs Florida State to resurrect its winning ways from the 1990s. Next year might be FSU’s year to return back to a BCS bowl game. 

Boston College
Just like Clemson, BC has been near the top of the conference the past few seasons but this year the Eagles dropped off a bit. Early in the season, Boston College went on a five-game losing streak before snapping it with five-straight wins to become bowl eligible. Next year might be rough for BC as the team says farewell to a lot of key players on defense.

NC State
Tom O’Brien silenced his haters in Raleigh this season thanks in part to QB Russell Wilson. If you look at NC State’s losses you almost wonder what could have been this season. In the Virginia Tech game, NC State was leading that contest but let Va Tech march back in it. The East Carolina game shouldn’t have even been a game, but the Wolfpack came up just a little short in overtime. NC State lost to Clemson by one point and then even though Maryland played extremely well in their season finale match-up, the Pack only lost that game by 7. It appears NC State might finally be ready to turn that corner in the ACC but I believe next season’s success fringes on Russell Wilson’s return. He’s got a future in the MLB but I think he’s got some unfinished business down in Raleigh.

Wake Forest 
Wake Forest definitely missed QB Riley Skinner’s presence this season. After winning the first two games, the Demon Deacons dropped the next nine. Next season this team won’t lose too much on Defense but stud RB Josh Adams will be gone from the offense.

 Here was a squad that finished dead last in the conference last season with only 1 ACC win. This season, the ‘Terps made a huge rebound with a second place finish in the Atlantic. I bet a huge contract extension is in the works for Coach Friedgen now….Oh wait, never mind.

My 2010 Season in Review: ACC Coastal

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material! 

Virginia Tech 
After suffering disappointing back-to-back losses this season to Boise State and no-name James Madison in the beginning of the season, some people wondered if Virginia Tech would struggle this year. Though after the James Madison loss, Frank Beamer got his boys to regroup and they ended up winning the rest of the games on its schedule. Next season, the defense will have more depth but the Hokies lose signal-caller Tyrod Taylor. His experience will definitely be missed.

 The Hurricanes had one tumultuous season. For a team who I thought could go 9-3 at the beginning, ended up going 7-6. The spanking by Florida State and the embarrassing loss to Virginia certainly didn’t help Head Coach Randy Shannon keep his job. The sad thing is that Shannon was turning things around down in Miami and had a greater emphasis on being a good student and a better role model. It’s disappointing when your success is only measured by the amount of games you win. I hope he’s able to find another head coaching job sometime soon. For real, no one wants to be labeled as a Thug--He was just trying to clean up the school’s image. You can’t fault a guy for trying.  

Georgia Tech

This was a disappointing season for Paul Johnson and his Yellow Jackets. GT embarrassed the conference with its loss to Kansas in Week 2. This team has such a potent ground game (#1 in the NCAA in rushing) that it seems as if Johnson doesn’t work on other areas of their game…(119th in Passing). The Yellow Jacket defense had depth but ranked in the middle of the pack, surrendering on average 25 ppg. Johnson’s philosophy might need to change next season if the Yellow Jackets want to have any success.

North Carolina
Many thought UNC’s season was over before it even began when several of the team’s stars were ruled ineligible before the LSU game. However, as the season progressed the Tar Heels were never completely out of the conversation in the ACC race. And even without offensive threat Greg Little, this offense still amassed some solid yards. The Tar Heels ranked 25th in passing yards within the FBS (during the regular season). UNC ended up going 7-5, but it makes you wonder how their season would have gone if they played with a full roster this year.

I was rooting for Duke to improve on its 5-7 record from a season ago however it wasn’t meant to be. Truthfully, next season probably won’t be much better for the Blue Devils either.

Virginia finished 4-8 this year, but what the record doesn’t reveal is that some of those losses were within seven points or fewer.  It might not take head coach Mike London that long to turn Virginia in the right direction. UVA quite possible could be a sleeper team in the ACC in 2011.

My 2010 Season in Review: Big 10

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material! 

With Pat Fitzgerald at the helm, the Wildcats will always be a solid squad. Northwestern was red-hot through the first five weeks going undefeated before suffering a disappointing loss at home to Purdue.  It looked as if NU was on track to be one of the Big 10’s top dog’s this season but QB Dan Persa’s season-ending Achilles injury in the Iowa game dashed any hopes the program might of had. In the Wrigleyville Classic, Illinois embarrassed NU as RB Mikel Leshoure rushed for 330 yards in a 48-27 rout. And Wisconsin ended up spanking the ‘Cats 70-23 in the season finale. It almost seemed as if Northwestern fell apart right around when Dan Persa became injured. He’s definitely the glue that holds this team together and luckily he’s on track to suit back up for the Wildcats at the start of next season.

Rich Rod just couldn’t get the job done in Michigan and now Brady Hoke enters next season in hopes to immediately get the program in the right direction. Denard Robinson was a freak of nature this season, but the problem Rodriguez ran into was that he asked his star to do too much. If Hoke can get some other players to step up next season he might be able to have an immediate impact down in Ann Arbor.

The injuries this squad faced on offense really hurt Purdue down the stretch this season as the Boilermakers lost its last six games. I’m already calling it, Purdue will be a surprise team out of the Big Ten next year.

  1. Illinois
Illinois shocked me this season, as I’m sure it did to most of its fans. The team went 3-9 in 2009 and only returned 5 starters on offense. I definitely didn’t have the Illini beating Penn State in Happy Valley or becoming bowl eligible this year. Ron Zook really ‘Zoinked’ me this time. QB Nathan Scheelhasse is a much better quarterback than Juice Williams and I believe he’s the right guy to take Illinois to the promised lands.

What do you want me to say here? Indiana should stick to playing basketball but unfortunately they haven’t been too good in that sport recently, either.

The Golden Gophers poor season had to have been expected. I mean when your defense only returns 2 starters what did you think was going to happen; that they’d be playing for the BCS National Championship? Tim Brewster got the AXE as a result of the team going 3-9. Former NIU Coach Jerry Kill will now have the duty of turning Minnesota into a winner but it won’t be easy. While the Defense will be more experienced next season, the offense loses a lot of key players, such as QB Adam Weber.

Notre Dame 
 How you start the race isn’t as important as how you finish. Just ask Notre Dame; the Irish went 3-3 in the beginning before finishing up 4-2. ND also finally earned a legitimate bowl win this season (For the first time in recent history). Seriously, torching Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl back in 2008 doesn’t count. A lot more will be expected from Brian Kelly in year 2 though, so we’ll see if he’ll be able to get the job done in South Bend.

My 2010 Season in Review: Big 10

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material! 

The Hawkeyes underachieved this season, which is partly to blame on poor coaching and the team’s inability to finish games. If you take a look at Iowa’s conference losses you’ll notice that the Hawkeyes had the lead in the fourth quarter. In three of those losses, Iowa surrendered the lead within the last two-minutes of the game. And if anything else can be noted, it's that Kirk Ferentz's Iowa program is turning into the new Miami U of the midwest with all the Hawkeye players getting in trouble with the law... 

Ohio State
Next season the Buckeyes will start the 2011 season off with 5 of its players sidelined for the first five games. QB Terrelle Pryor is amongst the players in trouble with the NCAA and his absence from the team will hurt OSU the most. The Buckeyes will have to travel to Miami in Week 2 and then face MSU in Week 4 before the players can return in time for the Nebraska showdown. If OSU expects to return to another BCS game next year it certainly won’t be easy.

The Badgers have been good for the past few seasons but lacked consistency. The skeptics have been critical of Brett Bielema ever since he took over for Coach Alvarez, but this season Bielema finally proved he IS the right man for the job. The Badgers’ offense was explosive in 2010, averaging around 43 ppg. In fact, the Badgers scored 70 points or more three times this season. IMPRESSIVE. However, I expect the Badgers to take a dip in 2011 as its offense loses a lot of key players including QB Scot Tolzien and RB John Clay.

Penn State
When you look at PSU’s schedule from 2010, its wins and losses make sense all except for the Illinois loss at home. The Illini offense posted over 400 yards of total offense. Another staggering statistic is that Illinois rushed for 282 yards! This team will see the departure of RB Evan Royster but I believe the Nittany Lions will be just fine in 2011.

Michigan State
What an unbelievable season MSU had this year. The Spartans went 11-2 and lost only one conference game this to Iowa. I don’t believe the Spartans will have the same success next season but QB Kirk Cousins returns, so anything is possible.

My 2010 Season in Review: Big 12 North

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material!

In its farewell tour of the Big 12, Nebraska was hoping to win the conference. However, in the title game the Cornhuskers came up short again, this time by 3 points to Oklahoma. Now Nebraska heads to the Big 10 conference where I think its presence will be felt immediately. I believe this new addition will add some legitimacy to Big 10 Conference. I see Ohio State’s reign of terror against the rest of the league coming to an end now.

I was very impressed with how Head Coach Gary Pinkel was able to keep his team focused at the start of the season amidst some of his players’ legal troubles. It looked as if this team would implode but the Tigers stayed on course and won 8 straight! Mizzou even beat a then #1 ranked Oklahoma team at home! Next season will be tough for Missouri as a lot of playmakers will be gone, including signal-caller Blaine Gabbert.

With a new head coach at the helm you have to expect a little bit of a drop off from the season before. However, with the amount of talent on the roster I thought the Jayhawks would actually improve on its 5-7 record from 2009. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Kansas did steal a very surprising win against Georgia Tech in Week Two, but its only win in conference came against a lowly Colorado squad. Kansas fans won’t accept another 3-9 season, especially after all the success Mark Mangino had there.

Earlier in the preseason I thought Colorado would go 5-7 and the team proved me right. Dan Hawkins is a good coach, but he just wasn’t a right fit in Boulder. The team now not only has to adjust to a new head coach and a new system, but also joins a new conference next season as it bounces off to the Pac-10. I don’t envision the Buffs being successful out in the West Coast.

 Iowa State 
ISU was able to post a 7-6 record from a season ago playing teams like Army, Kent St, and North Dakota State. This season, Paul Rhoads’ Cyclones would have a tougher schedule and I didn’t see his team doing better than .500. Iowa State ended up going 5-7  but did get a very notable win at home against Texas. ISU had never beaten the Longhorns, ever!

 Kansas State
At the beginning of the season I thought Kansas State would go winless in conference. The Wildcats wound up winning just 3 games, but would finish the season with a 7-6 record. Though, KState might be best remembered by that poor excessive celebration call in its bowl game against Syracuse, which ended up costing the Wildcats a chance at the game.

My 2010 Season in Review: Big 12 South

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material! 

Here was a team that I thought could run the tables and go undefeated this season. However, I started having doubts after witnessing the Sooners’ weak 31-24 season opening victory against Utah State.  Needless to say, there were only a few games where Oklahoma dominated its opponents. Despite the less than convincing approach the Sooners still wound up winning the Big 12 and beat an inferior Big East team in the Fiesta Bowl. The victory against UCONN snapped Coach Stoops’ 5-game BCS losing streak. With the players coming back to Norman next season, I believe 2011 could be a much more successful year for Bob Stoops and his Sooners.

Texas A&M
Despite having a losing record in 2009 I thought the amount of depth the Aggies returned this season would pay huge dividends for Texas A&M this season, and I was right. The Aggies beat both Big 12 North and South champions, Nebraska and Oklahoma this season but their two conference losses to Missouri and Oklahoma State kept the Aggies out of the Big 12 title game.  Next season Texas A&M should be one of the more experienced squads in the conference so the Aggies might get their chance to play for the championship.

 Coming off of a 13-win season and finishing runner-up in the BCS National Championship Game from a season ago, to a 5-7 record and finishing dead last in the Big 12 South this season. Earlier this preseason I predicted Texas to take a slight dip suffering three losses (and even then, people thought I was out of my mind). But did anyone see the Longhorns losing 7 games this season?

Texas Tech
I thought Texas Tech would win 8 games this season and they ended up proving me correct. Tommy Tuberville isn’t as crazy insane in the head as Mike Leach is but he is a very solid coach in his own right. The one questionable loss from this season though, was against Iowa State. Statistically, Texas Tech dominated the Cyclones offensively however the 3 turnovers TT gave up proved to be the difference maker.

I couldn’t have been more correct when I picked Baylor to go 7-5, 4-4 earlier in the preseason. Though what this record doesn’t reveal is how Baylor got to that 7-5 record. In the beginning of the season the Bears went 4-2 it looked as if they would exceed my expectations. However this team would end up losing the last four games of the season, which tells me Baylor isn’t quite there yet. Head Coach Art Briles has done some great things to turn the program in the right direction but it will take more work to transform the Bears into a legitimate Big 12 contender.

Oklahoma State
For a squad that only returned 8 total starters this season I didn’t think Oklahoma State would be successful in the Big 12.  I couldn’t have been more wrong with that prediction. The Cowboys were 2nd in the NCAA in total passing and 3rd in points. Oklahoma State ended up finishing second in the South behind the Sooners this season. Oklahoma State will be one of the more veteran squads in the Big 12 in 2011, so I expect them to be a serious contender again next season.

My 2010 Season in Review: SEC East

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material!

I had high hopes for the DAWGS this season and even though Georgia finished 3rd in the East, they could have done much better. Yes, I know not having superstar A.J. Green for the first four games hurt the maturation process for young signal-caller Aaron Murray, but this team was deep in other positions. Georgia played tough against South Carolina, Arkansas, and Auburn despite losing in all three of those contests. However, you have to raise an eyebrow at the Bulldogs’ losses to Colorado and Mississippi State.

 At the start of the season, many people wondered how the Gators would fair without all-everything, golden boy: Tim Tebow under center. Well, despite winning their 21st consecutive season-opener, the Gators’ offense was sluggish against Miami (OH). The poor start certainly had people questioning whether or not Florida would continue it’s reign of dominance. After the first four wins against cupcake squads, UF would lose the next 3 games and eventually drop out of the top 25. An 8-5 record would be good for most schools, but Florida expects more. This was Urban Meyer’s worst season while at Florida and I’m sure it wasn’t the way he intended on leaving the program.

South Carolina
 Who would have thought South Carolina would reign supreme in the SEC East this season? Especially when it seemed Spurrier wasn’t sold on his junior QB Stephen Garcia at the beginning of the season. He did eventually hand the keys over to Garcia and he certainly didn’t disappoint. He led South Carolina to an exciting victory against Alabama, and then took the Gamecocks to the SEC Championships for the first time, ever! And truthfully, next season I think South Carolina has a good chance as any to repeat out in the East. 

I thought Tennessee would finish the season off with a losing record but I never envisioned HC Dooley taking the Volunteers to a bowl in his first season. Lane Kiffin left the program in somewhat of disarray and amidst all the chaos, Derek Dooley was hired to try and put it back together. I remember looking at his losing record while at La Tech and being like, WTF…They actually hired this loser?  But then I heard his speech when he first arrived at UT, and I was hooked: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dSa9Gpu-v4) (Dooley has a good lesson about life at 4:49).  I think under the circumstances of going through 3 Head Coaches in three seasons, the Volunteers were successful this season. Sure they had a losing season, but Dooley is symbol of hope. I truly believe he is the guy to take the Volunteers back to national prominence.

I thought Kentucky would finish off the season at 4-8, but they did a little bit better at 6-7. The stunning win against #10 South Carolina was the Wildcats’ first win against a ranked opponent since 2007 (#1 LSU). The win put Kentucky at 4-3 and had the ‘Cats believing that ‘Impossible is Nothing’ as they headed into the second half of their season…However, they’d end up losing 3 of the next 5 and then get embarrassed by a coach-less Pittsburgh squad in its bowl game. Maybe next season, right?

 I hit this one right on the head when I predicted in the preseason that Vandy would only win 1 game this season. What else is there to say, though? 

My 2010 Season in Review: SEC West

The College Football Season might be over and done with, but I had a few notes regarding how these teams preformed in 2010. I hope you enjoy the reading material!

Coming into this season, Ryan Mallett was one of the more talented and consistent quarterbacks in the country. It was with him under center that I thought Arkansas had a legitimate chance of running the SEC. However, the Razorbacks lived and died with him this season as evident in the devastating 4-point loss to Alabama where Mallett gave up 3 INTS. In the Auburn loss, Mallett ended up leaving the game in the first half after suffering a concussion. Though, the Razorbacks kept pace with the eventual National Champions up until the fourth quarter. And I’m not one to say, “What if,” but I wonder how the game would have ended up if Arkansas’ best player had remained in the game? Even in their bowl game against OSU, Mallett gave up the game-sealing INT to the Buckeyes. It just seemed like for all the great things Mallett could do, his rare mistakes would end up costing his team some victories.

Unlike a lot of other analysts, I didn’t think Alabama would go an entire season undefeated and repeat as National Champions. That feat is simply too tough to do, especially in the SEC. Their 3 losses weren’t blowouts but the thing that didn’t help Alabama coming down the stretch was that their last 6 SEC opponents had a BYE prior to playing them. The former National Champions certainly didn’t get any love on that one…

The Tigers were able to block out all of the distractions off the field to deliver a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP on the field. And even though Cam Newton’s name was cleared in any wrongdoing his father might have done, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this. Cam might have been smart to ditch school early and enter into the NFL.

LSU exceeded my expectations this season. Les Miles has earned his name as the Mad Hatter. Remember that fake field goal attempt in the Florida game when LSU holder Derek Helton threw a no-look pitch over his head to placekicker Josh Jasper? The ball bounced perfectly off the grass for Jasper to retrieve and scurry for the first down. The play kept the drive alive and allowed the Tigers to score a few downs later for the win.  A few weeks later in the Alabama game, Miles decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 with a reverse play which ended up netting 23-yards. The Tigers eventually scored during that drive and sealed up the victory for LSU. Les Miles is full of surprises and fortunately for the Tiger faithful he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Mississippi’s season was a wrap after its very first game against Jacksonville State. I thought the Red Rebels would make the postseason but how does losing to a D-1AA squad help you, mentally? I would imagine it being hard for you to believe in yourself, your team, and what’s being preached to you. The Rebels ended up only winning four games this season, which is sad considering this squad only lost four games from a year before.

Mississippi State 
Coach Mullen had much better success in his second year at Mississippi State. His Bulldogs strung together a 9-4 record and went bowling for the first time since 2007. It’ll be interesting to see how Mullen does next season, during his third year at the helm. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year, Big 10?

A new year brings with it brand new challenges. Just look at the Big 10 for example, the conference went 0-5 today in its bowl games. Michigan was embarrassed 52-14 by an overpowering Mississippi State team. Now, while Rich Rodriguez WAS successful in taking the Wolverines to a bowl game, this loss won’t sit well with the Michigan fan base. This is the worst bowl game loss in Michigan history. This loss certainly doesn’t help Rich Rod’s case to keep his job up in Ann Arbor.  He might be looking for employment in 2011... 

Northwestern fought hard in the second half of its matchup against Texas Tech, however Taylor Potts would prove to be too much to handle for the Wildcats. The Red Raider QB accounted for 5 total touchdowns in a 45-38 victory. Penn State looked as if it would send Florida ball coach Urban Meyer home to retirement with a loss, however the Lions relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter. Nittany Lions QB Matthew McGloin threw 5 interceptions to the Florida defense. You usually don’t win games too often when throwing to the other team. The ugliest loss of the day was Michigan State’s, against Alabama. I mean 49-7 is pretty pathetic for a team that was one of the conference’s top dogs this season. 

Alabama made Michigan State look like a punk...

 The Crimson Tide outrushed the Spartans 275 to Michigan State’s -48 yards. It’s hard to get any sort of rhythm offensively when you’re unable to run the ball. This was a bad loss not only for Michigan State but also for the conference as a whole. And the Wisconsin loss against TCU might have been the result of some questionable coaching decisions late in the fourth quarter. This too, did not help the Big 10 much in its argument as one of the best football conferences.