College Football Arriving Soon!

 

College Football Arriving Soon!

by Amy Lignor

 

Ask any college football fan and they will tell you that it seems like an eternity waiting for the season to begin. But, have no fear, the kick-off to the college season is almost here, with Colorado State and Oregon State hitting the field on Saturday, August 26th at 2:30 p.m. ET. On the same day, fans of Oregon State and Colorado State will see an active match-up, and Portland State vs. BYU will also be a huge viewer draw. Add in the 6:00 p.m. game of Hawaii at UMass and the 7:30 p.m. game of South Florida vs. San Jose State – and you are most definitely looking at a full, much-needed, long-awaited day of the colleges you love getting back to gridiron business.

kick-off, college football, Colorado, Oregon, Portland State vs. BYU, Hawaii at UMass, August 26, Deondre Francois, Michigan, Crimson Tide, Wilton Speight, Penn State,

So…already have all the answers? Will there be a repeat? Will teams like Penn State come out still riding high on what was most definitely their late-season momentum that fans loved? Many already have answers to these (or, at least, they have their hopes and dreams where these answers are concerned). But it remains that it is far too early to say “this will happen.” It is not too early, however, to take a look at the teams that many experts say are the top contenders this season.

 

Let us start with the Crimson Tide. Alabama has many positive things going for them. With a phenomenal young QB, a RB that is truly a “hit” on the field, and an elite defense, Alabama is in more than just “good” shape this time out.

 

When it comes to Oklahoma, the latest news is that Chris Robison (QB) has been dismissed from the team following a violation of team rules. A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April for public intoxication the night after Oklahoma’s spring game. Will it matter? Not at all, actually. Sooners’ fans were already rejoicing that QB Baker Mayfield chose to return to Norman for this, his senior year. Mayfield just needs a new target to throw to, seeing as Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook said so long to Norman on graduation day. Running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are also gone this time around. But even with those departures, Oklahoma was on a proverbial hot streak down the stretch last season, with ten straight wins. Anything can happen.

 

When it comes to Florida State, all eyes are on that freshman QB star Deondre Francois. Ending with a win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl, the Florida State Seminoles’ QB is surrounded by a talented offensive line. Even though losing all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook will be hard to overcome, they will. And it also helps that the majority of starters on defense will be back.

 

Penn State is truly back to “Happy Valley” status after a remarkable 2016 season that almost ended in a Rose Bowl title. A second-straight Big Ten title is most definitely on their radar, especially with the incredible duo of McSorley and Barkley within a now experienced offense.

Yes, the defense will have to step it up, and the offense has to put a halt to those slow starts that cause them trouble.

 

You can’t write a college football article without mentioning the name Harbaugh in it – fans have proved that to be a fact, so we must mention Michigan. QB Wilton Speight was “good enough” under center for Michigan, before getting hurt, of course, late in the season. But just for fans to wear smiles on their faces once again, which hadn’t happened in a long time until Coach Jim Harbaugh arrived two years ago, is a great thing to see. But Harbaugh will not have an easy time of it. He has some hurdles to jump, seeing as that 10 out of 11 starters on Michigan’s defense are on the departure list, including their weapon, Jabrill Peppers. But it’s not out of the ballpark to say that Michigan could literally do their roster overhaul extremely well and make it to the CFP semifinals. Speight will be back under center, and if they can just best those Buckeyes and get over that rivalry hurdle, Michigan will have a shot at its first conference title in more than a decade.

 

When it comes to a repeat, Clemson is definitely a bet people are already making. Ferrell returns, even though the loss of Deshaun Watson is a big hit. Clemson’s offense shouldn’t fall too far behind, but it is really the gleam of that uber-experienced defense that makes Clemson a prime contender.

 

But whatever happens, all that’s frustrating fans right now is how far away August 26th feels.

 

Source:  Baret News

 

 

CFP Championship Game Pits Upstart Coach Against Wily Veteran

 

CFP Championship Game Pits Upstart Coach Against Wily Veteran

By Burt Carey

Clemson Tigers head football coach Dabo Swinney cut his teeth on the collegiate game in Alabama, playing wide receiver for the Crimson Tide during its 1992 national championship season.

He even coached at Alabama as an assistant.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers,College Football, Playoff championship game, Alabama, Crimson Tide, Nick SabanNow Swinney faces not only his alma mater but a wily head coach in Nick Saban, who’s led three Crimson Tide teams to national titles since 2007.

The College Football Playoff championship game will be held Jan. 11 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. It will air beginning at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) on ESPN. Clemson carries an unblemished 14-0 mark into the game, while Alabama is 13-1.

To get here, top-ranked Clemson pounded No. 4 Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve the same night No. 2 Alabama shut out No. 3 Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl.

The last time these two teams met was in 2008, when Swinney was an assistant under Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. It was Saban’s second season with the Tide, and they were ranked No. 24 compared to Clemson’s No. 9. Alabama rolled that day, 34-10, and then finished the year 12-2. Bowden resigned midway through the season, and Swinney stepped up first as interim head coach, finishing the year 7-6. He’s been Clemson’s head coach ever since.

The last time Clemson finished a season undefeated was 1981, when the Tigers posted a 12-0 record en route to a national title.

Alabama has won 11 straight games. Its lone loss this season was to Ole Miss back in September. This is the fifth time in the past eight years Saban has led the Tide to the national championship game. He won titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

Clemson’s high-powered offense is anchored by two sophomores, quarterback Deshaun Watson and running back Wayne Gallman. The 6’2” Watson has thrown 31 touchdowns, completed 68.2 percent of his passes and run for another 12 touchdowns in his inaugural season at the Tigers signal caller. Gallman became Clemson’s single-season rushing leader with 1,482 yards on 269 carries. He averages 5.5 yards per carry.

The NCAA ranks Alabama’s defense second in the country, giving up a stingy 256.8 yards and less than two touchdowns per game. Its offensive firepower relies on the legs of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The junior running back gained 2,061 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in 2015. He averages 5.7 yards per carry.

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

10 College Football Players to Watch in 2015

 

10 College Football Players to Watch in 2015

~By Burt Carey

 

Fan fervor reaches high pitch with the arrival of football season each fall as devotees root on their alma maters and favorite teams.

With opening day kickoffs set to begin in just a couple of weeks, it’s time to take a pre-season look at the players who are expected to make the biggest contributions to their teams this year. Here are 10 you’ll want to watch this year.

college football, pre-season, top ten,  Braxton Miller , Buckeyes, Georgia Tech, Ohio State

Braxton Miller vs. Michigan Nov. 2013

If you’re look for the name Braxton Miller to show up at the top of the list, Ohio State has a surprise for you: Thanks to a wealth of talented signal callers, the Buckeyes have moved the two-time Big 10 player of the year from QB to wide receiver. Something tells us this is likely to open up a few wildcat opportunities for head coach Urban Meyer and his offense.

That moves Texas Christian’s Trevone Boykin to the top of the list of QBs for the 2015 campaign. The Horned Frogs finished the 2014 season with just two losses, and with 10 returning starters TCU is securely ranked at No. 2 in pre-season polls behind Ohio State.

Second on our list of players to watch in 2015 is Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas. No one in the ACC, or in the country for that matter, will be surprised to see coach Paul Johnson’s squad running the triple option. Thomas runs the option almost to perfection.

Thomas’ inaugural season as a starter led the ACC in scoring offense and total offense, setting school records for both. Their option offense led the ACC in yards per play and ranked fourth nationally. While arm strength isn’t Thomas’ forte, Georgia Tech led the nation in third-down conversions last year. Coming off a 49-34 Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State that was decided before halftime, the Yellow Jackets are looking for great things to come from Thomas, a redshirt junior.

Clemson is another ACC team with a blue-chip starter at quarterback. Deshaun Watson proved himself as a true freshman by overcoming a torn ACL to lead the Tigers past South Carolina, its in-state rival. Head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t the only one high on this rising star, as some have tabbed Watson the pre-season favorite to win ACC player of the year.

Most of the SEC’s perennial heavyweight football teams are still looking for starting quarterbacks. Yes, even this close to opening day. The Auburn Tigers are blessed to have the strong-armed Jeremy Johnson returning under center. His playmaking abilities are sure to make their share of ESPN Top 10 moments this fall.

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa is a highlight reel all to himself. Of players returning this year, he lost the sacks race to Arizona’s Scooby Wright, 13.5 to 14, but play in and play out, he’s one of the most consistent linemen in the game today. Big 10 offensive coaches expect to see No. 97 in their backfields all season long this year, forcing fumbles and causing hurried passes.

Wright, the Wildcats’ linebacker, won the Nagurski, Lombardi and Bednarik awards following the 2014 season by recording 163 tackles, 29 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, six forced fumbles and the aforementioned 14 sacks. If his freelance tactics make it as difficult for offenses to block him again this year, he’ll have another great season.

Look farther to the West and you’ll find Southern Cal linebacker Su’a Cravens terrorizing Pac 12 offenses from his outside position. While they refer to the 6-1, 225-pounder as a linebacker, Cravens is more of a safety, shifting and filling holes to stop spread offenses whether they run or pass the ball. His 17 tackles behind the line of scrimmage led the Trojans’ defense in 2014, and he’s an excellent blitz option, which led to five sacks last year. Add that to seven career interceptions and 10 passes broken up, and Cravens appears to be holding the complete package.

Back among the ball handlers, running back D.J. Foster is a double threat for the Arizona State Sun Devils. While he’s rushed for more than 2,000 yards and racked up 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons on the ground, he’s also caught 163 passes for 1,874 yards and 11 touchdowns. This year the Sun Devils list Foster as a slot back, which will not only prepare him for that position in the NFL but provides their offense some creative ways to get the ball into his hands multiple times per game.

It’s true the Georgia Bulldogs are one of the SEC teams looking for a signal caller this year. At running back, however, Nick Chubb expects to see a lot of work. In fact, many of the Bulldog faithful expect the sophomore back to eclipse Herschel Walker’s school rushing record of 1,891 yards.

And finally, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott could be the class of running backs among the Big 10 this year. All he did at the end of the 2014 season was rush for 696 yards against the likes of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, making him one of the pre-season favorites for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

Ohio State Tops Pre-season Coaches Poll

 

Ohio State Tops Pre-season Coaches Poll

By Burt Carey

 

We’ve turned the calendar to August, and college football fans couldn’t be happier. With the first games of the 2015 season just a month away, the USA Today Coaches Poll has tossed out some red meat for pigskin fanatics to chew on.

There’s no question that Ohio State would show well in the pre-season poll. Coming off a 14-1 national championship season loaded college football, USA Today Coaches Poll, Ohio State,  Oregon Ducks, Top Tenwith returning players, coach Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes garnered 62 of the 64 first-place votes. Both No. 2 Texas Christian and No. 3 Alabama split the two remaining votes.

So rich in talent is Ohio State that Braxton Miller, its quarterback of the past two seasons and two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year, is now a receiver. This is the third time since 1991 the Buckeyes have been rated No. 1 in the pre-season poll. No team has started and finished the season at No. 1 since the 2004 USC Trojans.

TCU finished the 2014 season with just two losses, making it an easy pick for No. 2. Joining the Horned Frogs in the Top 5 is Baylor at No. 4, giving the Big 12 Conference a strong showing. The rest of the Big 12 didn’t impress the coaches, however, as just one other team, Oklahoma at No. 19, made the Top 25 list.

Rounding out the Top 10 were No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Michigan State, No. 7 Auburn, No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Southern California.

The rest of the Top 25 looks like this: No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 12 Clemson, No. 13 LSU, No. 14 UCLA, No. 15 Ole Miss, No. 16 Arizona State, No. 17 Georgia Tech, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Oklahoma, No. 20 Arkansas, No. 21 Stanford, No. 22 Arizona, No. 23 Missouri, No. 24 Boise State, and No. 25 Tennessee.

The Oregon Ducks are the top-rated Pac 12 team, but the conference overall nabbed six spots in the coaches poll. It’s a conference loaded with quarterback talent. Southern Cal’s Cody Kessler, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and Cal’s Jared Goff will not only make headlines but are excellent prospects for NFL scouts. Oregon, which no longer has Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, hopes to turn to Eastern Washington grad transfer Vernon Adams. But if he doesn’t qualify in time the Ducks will look to veteran junior Jeff Lockie.

Highly touted Josh Rosen will call signals for the Bruins of UCLA, and Arizona’s Anu Solomon is just as dynamic running the ball as he is at throwing it.

The Southeastern Conference could only wish to be so flush with quarterbacks.

The first action of the 2015 season for the Top 10 comes Sept. 3, with TCU traveling to Minnesota. The rest of the openers for the Top 10 look like this: Top-ranked Ohio State opens at Virginia Tech Sept. 7; No. 3 Alabama takes on No. 18 Wisconsin Sept. 5 in Tuscaloosa; No. 4 Baylor starts the season in an away game Sept. 4 at SMU; No. 5 Oregon hosts Eastern Washington Sept. 5; No. 6 Michigan State plays at Western Michigan Sept. 4; No. 7 Auburn begins the 2015 campaign at home against Louisville on Sept. 5; No. 8 Florida State takes on Texas State Sept. 5; No. 9 Georgia will open at home against Louisiana-Monroe Sept. 5; and No. 10 Southern Cal plays host to Arkansas State Sept. 5.

 

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle