(videos courtesy John Clay Kentucky.com)
(videos courtesy John Clay Kentucky.com)
Teams 15-11 all had good seasons last year but they would all like to follow it up with a breakout season this time around. Only one of these schools made it to a BCS Bowl last season and while they won on the field, they would later lose off the field.. In all, these five clubs have a good chance of making a BCS Bowl but one will probably be stymied with probation before season’s end. The other problem is a couple of them are in the same conference and somebody has to lose. With that being said, here is a look at my team’s ranked #15 – #11.
15. Ohio St. Buckeyes – Gone are former head coach, Jim Tressel and former QB Terrelle Pryor; still remaining is the cloud of bad feelings and distrust amongst the alumni and the university as to what has crumbled one of college football’s most feared programs over the last 8 years. The Buckeyes have got to find a way to put all of this behind them to compete on the field; no team in the nation will be more ready to hit the field on 9/3 than the Buckeyes as that will be their sanctuary for an off-season filled with turmoil. They will also be without several other players for the first four games including RB “Boom” Herron, WR Devier Posey and starting LT, Mike Adams. The Buckeyes have handed over the keys to the “car” (no pun intended) to former player, Luke Fickell; at least temporarily. His first task will be trying to fill the QB role; his choices are Sr. Joe Bauserman and true Fr. Braxton Miller. The final decision as to who will start may not be made until the week leading up to game 1 but a safe bet is that both will play throughout this season. The offense will be severely limited until Herron and Posey comeback so don’t expect much from that unit. It will be the defense that will have to carry the Buckeyes for much of the season. Within the first 4 games of the season, the Buckeyes will visit South Beach to play the Miami Hurricanes (another program the NCAA is fixin’ to dismantle) and they will host Colorado. Neither of those games are “locks” and both should be interesting. Then things really pick up as the “Buckos” will host Michigan St. (10/1) before heading to Lincoln to play Nebraska on 10/8. On 10/15, they will travel to play Illinois and then come back to Columbus to host Wisconsin. They will finish the season at Ann Harbor to play Michigan, a game that all of a sudden may be more evenly matched than people would have thought. While they still have good athletes and are a viable team, the thought that this team can do any better than 8-4 is nearly unimaginable.
14. Mississippi St. Bulldogs – The Bulldogs (9-4) came of age last season were they were one of the tougher teams to beat in the SEC. They finished the season off with a pounding of the Michigan Wolverines in the Gator Bowl 52-14(Michigan’s worst bowl loss in their history). Dan Mullen is hoping that this will be the season where the close losses and near misses go against the other team rather than his. The one problem for the bulldogs is that they are playing in the tougher of the two divisions of the SEC and that means a lot of tough conference games. The good news is that QB Chris Relf (dual-threat QB) and RB Vick Ballard are back and that is bad news for the rest of the league. However, their two best offensive linemen from last season are gone so the line may need some time to gel. On the other side of the ball, Mullins must wonder if new D-Coordinator, Chris Wilson will have the same effect that last season’s coordinator, Manny Diaz had. The Bulldogs were a physical defense that attacked and were relentless. State will get an early test when they visit Auburn on 9/10. Then on 9/15, LSU will visit Starkville for a game that promises to be a low-scoring, grind it out affair. The Bulldogs will also get home games with South Carolina (10/15) and Alabama (11/12); they will have tough road games at Georgia (10/1), at Kentucky (10/29) and at Arkansas on 11/19. I see the Bulldogs continuing to make strides and another 4 loss season is still pretty good.
13. Nebraska Cornhuskers – Bo Pelini’s Huskers will now make the jump from the Big 12 to the Big 10 and will enter as a possible co-favorite to win the Big 10 Title in just its 1st year in the league. The Huskers have implemented a new, up-tempo offense (similar to the one used by Oregon) and that could cause other Big ten foes some problems. It helps to have experience when doing so and Pelini has that as he returns starters at every offensive skilled position and three on the offensive line as well. The Huskers will go back to the traditional 3 LB look on defense as they will not see as much of the spread offenses in the Big Ten as compared to the Big 12. DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard are all pre-season All-Americans and they will be the anchors for the dreaded “Black-Shirt” Defense. The key for the success of this team will be whether the offense can score points against some stout defenses in the Big 10. The schedule is lukewarm at best with non-conference home games against Fresno St. and Washington but an Oct. 1 trip to Madison to play Wisconsin will be an eye-opener. The following week, Ohio St. will visit Lincoln to test the Huskers. Then on 10/29, Michigan St. will invade Lincoln for a showdown with Nebraska. However, road games in November in consecutive weeks against Penn St. (11/12) and Michigan (11/19) could ultimately decide how the Huskers finish this season. I foresee them doing rather well in their 1st season in the Big Ten, so lets say a record of 10-2 for Pelini’s club.
12. South Carolina Gamecocks – Some say this appears to be the best team that Steve Spurrier has fielded since he has been in Columbia and that has Gamecock fans smiling. If nothing else, the offense is primed to put up even better numbers than it did last season. You have sophomore RB Marcus Lattimore who burst on the scene last season running over an around defenders; there is Alshon Jeffery, the best WR in the SEC and arguably the best WR in the conference last season. Then there is the QB Stephen Garcia who has a wealth of talent but at times exhibits poor decision making, both on and off the field. The offensive line is big and physical so the offense has all of the necessary components to be the best in the SEC. Even the Defensive unit appears solid, but the one question mark may be in the secondary; this unit has been revamped and reworked with the hope of improving on a below average 2010 campaign. This team is the odds-on-favorite to win the SEC east and with good reason. The schedule is also very beneficial to Spurrier and his troops. A Sept. 10th trip to Athens to play Georgia would be a key road victory if they can get it. They get Auburn (11/1) and Kentucky (11/8) in Columbia back-to-back weeks. The real key will be how the Gamecocks navigate 3 consecutive road games when they play Miss. St. 10/15, Tennessee 10/29 and then play Arkansas 11/5. I see the early season game with Georgia as the key to the Gamecocks going 10-2 or 9-3.
11.. Michigan St. Spartans – QB Kirk Cousins may be one of the most undervalued and underappreciated QBs in the nation but he just wins. Unfortunately for the Spartans the last time we saw them, they were getting steam-rolled by Alabama (49-7) in the Capital One Bowl. But this is a new season and this appears to be Mark Dantonio’s best team, at least on paper. RB Edwin Baker leads a loaded Spartans backfield, maybe the deepest in the Big Ten (although Wisconsin may beg to differ) and he is primed to bust out into a full blown star this season. The team did lose some stars to graduation like LBs Greg Jones and Eric Gordon but overall, Dantonio feels good about what he has returning and the class he brought in as well. But the Key is Cousins and his calm, cool demeanor; he doesn’t make many mistakes and he is not going to typically beat himself by trying to do things he is not capable of. In fact, Cousins may be the best at play-action passing in the nation. There is plenty of talent on both lines for Sparty and they are always a pretty physical team but the defensive line is going to be outstanding this season. Sparty’s schedule this season is challenging to say the least; a trip to South Bend (9/17) to play a much improved Notre Dame squad will be the first test. The Spartans will then take a trip to Columbus to play Ohio St. on 10/1 before they host Michigan and then Wisconsin on consecutive weekends. After the battle with the Badgers, the Spartans will then head to Lincoln to play Nebraska and then there is a Nov. 12 meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa. For Michigan St., a 9-3 record is not out of the question at all.
The Cardinal Hill Junior Board is a group of young professionals dedicated to the support and promotion of the innovative services at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.
The primary goal of the Junior Board is to raise money for a new therapeutic pool.
I stumbled upon the below video this morning and thought it was a must post. University of Oregon football players Darron Thomas and Cliff Harris get pulled over driving 118 MPH while smoking some dope. The officers lets these gentlemen drive off with no citation and even asked to see his PAC 10 Championship ring.
We all know athletes get special treatment but damn!
Keith Taylor of the Winchester Sun has a great read on Clark County’s own and WKYT big man Wayne Martin. Mr. Martin had a chance of a lifetime last night as he was a guest coach for some former Kentucky greats. I’ve had the pleasure to know Mr. Martin for some time and I can honestly say that this was something well deserved.
Read the full article here.
Teams 19-16 in my poll all will be playing this season minus their respective starting QBs from last season. This will make it very difficult for any of them to duplicate anything they accomplished last season, especially early in the season; all four teams were BCS bowl teams last season and all four would like to be there again. So with that being said, here is my teams from #19-16.
19. Virginia Tech Hokies – Frank Beamer’s Hokies may not have the look they have had over the last two seasons but they are probably still the 2nd best team in a watered down ACC. Gone is the steady and dynamic Tyrod Taylor; the new QB will be Logan Thomas. David Wilson will be the primary RB and he will run behind a veteran offensive line. On defense the front 4 is relatively inexperienced but the talent is there. The strength of the defense is at LB (excellent depth) and in the secondary where Jayron Hosley had 9 INTs last season. Beamer’s squads typically pin their hopes on tough, physical defenses and excellent special team’s play; the QB will only be asked to make the plays that are there and to not turn the ball over. This season should be no exception as Thomas attempts to grow into the starting role and the D-line tries to accelerate the learning curve. The Hokies typically have at least one opponent from another BCS conference on their September slate but this season is different. In the month of September they will play Appalachian State and Arkansas State in Blacksburg and they will visit E. Carolina and Marshall for their other two non-conference games. If you think that is favorable then you have to see the Hokies’ conference slate. They get Miami, Clemson and Boston College at home; consequently their toughest conference road opponent appears to be a trip to Atlanta to play Ga. Tech on 11/10. Note…..they will not play Florida State unless they meet in the ACC Championship Game. This may be the year for the Hokies to get that elusive National Championship because only the Yellowjackets have a realistic shot at knocking them off before the ACC championship.
18. Auburn Tigers – Well the defending National Champions will have to begin their quest to repeat without last year’s two biggest stars, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley; both have moved on to the NFL. So now the SEC and the rest of the nation will get to see if Coach Gene Chizik just had a “dream team” last season or if his system and his style of coaching just breed winning. The first thing Chizik must do is replace Newton; Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter are competing for that honor. The offensive line will be all new as they graduated all 6 six starters from last season. With that being said, sophomore RB Michael Dyer’s success (1,093 and 5 TDs last season) will depend on how fast the offensive line matures. The defensive unit which at times lived by the “bend and don’t break model” will also have to rebuild itself, particularly along the front line. The secondary will need to be vastly improved as there were games last year where they were just dreadful. The Tiger’s schedule should be very interesting as they will get a visit from Mississippi St. (9/10) and then travel on 9/17 to play Clemson. Back-to-back road games on Oct.1 (at South Carolina) and Oct. 8(at Arkansas) will be a huge test for the young Tigers. They will also visit Baton Rogue on 10/22 to play LSU as well a trip to Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs on 11/12. Of course they will finish the season with the “Iron Bowl” when they play arch-rival Alabama. The schedule leads me to believe Auburn will finish at 8-4 this season; a modest drop-off from last years undefeated season.
17. TCU Horned Frogs – TCU will begin this season missing its leader for the last four seasons, QB Andy Dalton. Dalton has taken his talents on to the NFL and so now Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs must move on. Sophomore Casey Pachall will now be up under center and Patterson seems to have confidence in his abilities. Rumor has it that Pachall may have more physical talents than Dalton but it will be hard to replace the leadership Dalton provided. There is plenty of talent at the skilled positions on offense so Pachall may be able to ease into the position from that standpoint; he will not have to carry the load. The defensive unit is solid despite the fact they will be replacing the entire secondary from last season. LB Tank Carder is a beast and the leader of the defense; he has been voted pre-season MWC Defensive Player of the year. If not for conference new-comer Boise St., TCU would still be the favorites to win the MWC. The chances of TCU going undefeated as they did last season are slim to none but there also shouldn’t be too many losses. They start the season off on the road in Waco to take on the Baylor Bears; however, that may not be the ideal place for a new QB to start his tenure. The following week (9/10) the Horned Frogs will travel to play Air Force in what could be a very intriguing game. The only other games that merit a look are a 10/28 showdown with BYU (home game) and then 11/12 match-up on Boise with Boise St. While going undefeated may be doubtful, a 10-2 mark is not too bad at all.
16. Arkansas Razorbacks – The Razorbacks will not rely on the strong-armed Ryan Mallet this season as he has taken his “cannon” on to the NFL. Junior Tyler Wilson did get a chance to play last year when Mallet was dinged up in some SEC games and he played pretty good. Wilson will have an abundance of help at the wide-out position with Joe Adams, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and Cobi Hamilton; this may be the deepest and most talented WR group in the SEC. But don’t sleep on the backfield because when Wilson opts to hand the ball off, he will have Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo, Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green to give it to. The offensive line may be a bit shaky as they break in some new OT but otherwise, I don’t foresee this offense having much of a drop-off from last season. The defense returns seven starters from last season including senior DE Jake Bequette and LB Jerry Franklin. The Razorbacks were one of the worse defenses in the SEC two seasons ago but last season they jumped up to fifth in defense. PK Zach Hocker and P Dylan Breeding will give the Razorbacks a huge advantage in the special teams department. However, the schedule makers have not been kind to Bobby Petrino’s team this season. Back-to-back road games on 9/24 (Alabama) and 10/1 (Texas A&M) could be an early season disaster. On October 8th, they will host the Auburn Tigers in what could be a wild game. On Nov. 19th, they will host Mississippi St. and then finish the regular season on 11/25 down in Baton Rouge against LSU. The Razorbacks are not likely to end up back in a BCS Bowl but they have a chance to make some noise; I would say to the tune of an 8-4 record.
Well the 2011 College Football season is about a month away and the argument and debate about who is #1 is underway. But to understand who is #1 you must first understand who is #25 through #2; that is why I am here to give you a preview of my Top 25 starting with #25 and working my way to #1. There will even be debate as to why some teams do not make the Top 25 but let’s face it, there are only 25 spots and around 120 Division 1 teams so every team can’t make it. So with that being said, here is my teams from #25 – 20.
25. North Carolina State Wolfpack – Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack is coming off a 9-4 campaign capped by a bowl victory over West Virginia and now they are looking to improve on that record. The QB duties will belong to red-shirt junior, Mike Glennon after the messy departure of last season’s QB, Russell Wilson. Glennon will have 6 returning starters on the offense with him. The problem is that outside of TE George Bryan, Glennon will have to hope other players step-up at some other skilled positions. On the defensive side, the Wolfpack will return 8 starters but there are already concerns about the secondary (no seniors among their 2-deep) but they play well as a unit; but they must avoid the injury bug. N.C. State’s schedule is not overly impressive but they have 3 games to circle on the calendar: at Cincinnati on 9/22, at Florida St. on 10/29 and then the rivalry game with North Carolina on 11/5. If they can find a way to win 2 of these 3 then the road may be paved for the Wolfpack to finish at least 10-2 (they still play at Boston College and they finish the year at home with Maryland). But there is a reality and you just wonder if the lack of overall star-power maybe has them dropping at least one or two more games.
24. Penn State Nittany Lions – Joe Paterno gears up for his 46th season on the sidelines in Happy Valley and this is one that will be somewhat of a mystery. There is good if not great talent on both sides of the ball but there isn’t a lot of depth on either of the lines. The skilled positions on offense are well stocked with the likes of RBs Silas Redd and Stephon Green as well as WRs Derek Moye and Justin Brown but the bigger questions is who will be taking the snaps. Sophomore Rob Bolden began last season as the starter but by the end of the year, it was red-shirt Junior Matt McGloin taking the snaps. Both have good qualities but the problem is neither are complete QBs; Bolden is the athletic one and McGloin is the competitor, leave it all on the field type of player. The Nittany Lions should be strong on the defensive side but both of their Des are coming off injuries from last season. The LB unit led my Michael Mauti and red-shirt freshman, Mike Hull could be one of the best in the Big Ten by season’s end. The secondary is very athletic and has experience and they will be tested by a tough schedule. Penn State’s schedule is no “gimme” and will be challenging. They will host Alabama on 9/10 and Nebraska on 11/12; the will play at Ohio St. on 11/19 and finish the season at Wisconsin on 11/26. If Joe Pa and the boys can somehow earn a split out of those 4 games, that will be a victory in itself. Realistically, Nittany Lions could finish 8-4, but if they lose 3 or perhaps all 4 of those targeted games, then a 6-6 season is more likely.
23. Georgia Bulldogs – For Mark Richt’s sake, last seasons 6-7 mark (including a loss to UCF in a bowl game) better have just been a “blip” on the screen because if it becomes the norm, he will not be pacing the sidelines much longer in Athens. Richt went out and got a great recruiting class only to see return RBs Washaun Ealey and Caleb King be dismissed from school. Add to that RB Carlton Thomas being suspended for the season opener and the backfield behind Murray has some big question marks. So now sophomore QB Aaron Murray (24 TDs and 8 INTs last season) may have to shoulder more of the load until another RB emerges. Richard Samuels RB – LB –RB has been moved back to offense to help bring along freshmen RBs Isaiah Crowell and Ken Malcome. The offensive line has also been hit with the injury bug already but they do have some depth there. The defense should be better this season as a lot of players picked up valuable experience last season. The problem for the ‘dawgs’ may be the schedule as it is unmerciful. They start the season with 2 home game but the opponents are Boise St. (9/3) and South Carolina (9/10). They also get Mississippi St. in Athens on 10/1, Florida visits on 10/29 and then Auburn comes in on 11/12; the opponents are big time but they are all home games so Richt’s team appears to have one of the most favorable schedules in the nation in terms of you play at home versus who you play on the road (just 4 road games). Reality says Georgia can rebound and finish at least 8-4 but because of the number of home games, the fans would probably want to see at least 9-3 to maybe cool Richt’s “hot seat”.
22. Missouri Tigers – Gone is last year’s starting QB Blaine Gabbert as well his little brother, Tyler (transferred to Louisville) who decided to give up on competing for the QB spot in Columbia with James Franklin. So now Franklin has been handed the keys to one of the most prolific offenses over the last 6 seasons or so. Franklin is a dual-threat QB who put up huge numbers in high school. Franklin will have as many as 4 RBs in the backfield with him at any given time this season (the four combined for over 1,500 last season). WR T.J. Moe and TE Michael Egnew will quickly become two of Franklin’s top targets but the Tigers have a group of young but talented receivers that need to come along at a fast rate to give Franklin more options. The defense will be solid and reliable but they will give up their share of points against better offenses. The main problem is injuries / departures at the DE position. The schedule for Missouri is interesting to say the least as they will visit Arizona St. on 9/10 and then visit Norman, OK to play the Sooners on 9/24. They get Oklahoma St. to visit Columbia on 10/22 but then they will have to travel College Station to play Texas A&M on 10/29. Missouri is a viable threat to beat anyone in the Big 12 on a given day but you just wonder whether a QB with limited snaps but a wealth of talent can deliver when a game is on the line….I see Missouri finishing 8-4 at best but 6-6 is not out of the question.
21. Notre Dame Fightin Irish – Notre Dame may not be the Notre Dame of old but they are starting to improve and they garnish a spot in the Top 25 based largely on how they finished last season (beating USC and throttling Miami in a bowl game.) Last season was largely chaotic but thru it all, Brian Kelly’s team persevered and finished 8-5 overall. One question is who will be the starting QB this fall; Dayne Crist started last season off as the QB but when he was felled by a serious knee injury, in stepped Tommy Rees who guided the team to those two big wins against the Trojans and the ‘Canes. Playmaking WR Michael Floyd has been reinstated since his DUI back in the spring so the Irish faithful can breathe a little easier. RB Cierre Wood will look to improve on the over 600 yds he gained on the ground last season but the Irish must find other playmakers aside from him and Floyd. The defense was horrific in the first 9 games of the last season given up yards by the truckload; but over the final 4 games, they were stingy in only allowing about 291 yds per. That unit should be even better this season but will get some early tests. The schedule for the Irish is not bad at all but it will have some spots that will test them. They visit Ann Arbor on 9/10 to play the first ever night game against the rivalry Michigan Wolverines. Then on 9/17 they will host Michigan St. in what is surely a payback game after ‘Sparty’ knocked off the Irish on a TD pass off of a FG. On 9/24, the Irish will travel to play the Pitt Panthers and that promises to be a shoot-out as well. Notre Dame will get home games with USC (10/22), Navy (10/29) and Boston College (11/19). But outside of the Wolverines and Spartans, the one team Notre Dame will need to beat to solidify their place back in the Top 25 is Stanford, who they will visit on 11/26. History and gut-feeling say the Irish look the part of a 9-3 team but only time will tell if that is a role they are fit for.
20. Arizona State Sun Devils – Coach Dennis Erickson has a pretty good squad out in Tempe this season and yet they are not projected to win the Pac-10 South Division (USC is). But with the Trojans on probation, if the Sun Devils can finish 2nd in the South, then that will be good enough to guarantee them a spot in the Pac-10’s first ever Conference Championship Game and that is all that matters. The best player on the team very well may be LB Vontaze Burfict who is a ball-hawk and hits anything carrying the pigskin. The rest of the defense is coming along and they play with a chip on their shoulder which can be good at times. They are very physical and quick to the ball so look for a lot of big hits from this unit. As for the offense, QB Brock Osweiler (6’8’’) will be under center to start the season and a lot is expected of him. But at the same time, he will not be asked to do a lot against good teams other than manage the game and avoid mistakes; the thought will be let the defense win those games. He will be turned loose a little more against teams that are not so good (i.e. he lit up a porous UCLA defense last season). But the Devils will try to take advantage of being placed in the worse of the two conference divisions and that is alright with Erickson. The schedule is not bad at all as they will host Missouri on 9/10. On 9/17, the Sun Devils will visit Champagne, IL to play the Fighting Illini. October 8th (Utah) and October 15th (Oregon) will be 2 tough road games for them. But the sun Devils finish the season with home games against rival Arizona (11/19) and California (11/25). Arizona St. looks like a solid pick to represent the South Division in the first conference championship game and they will probably do so sporting an overall record of 8-4.