Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week 4 College Football Recap: Trap Game Saturday

This week brought us some really interesting games that probably shouldn’t have been that interesting. With 3 top 10 matchups next week, it would be easy for teams to peek ahead and lay an egg. Washington and Stanford were guilty of this, but the other squads took care of business early (Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisville, Louisville). Next week has one of the most intriguing slates in years. We are even lucky enough to get one of the top 10 matchups on Friday night. I can’t wait. Here’s my breakdown of week 4 in college football…
Image result for mark dantonio 
Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: Arizona State, Arkansas, Colorado, South Florida
Dropped from the rankings: Oklahoma State (16), Georgia (17), LSU (19), South Florida (20), California (22), Army (24)

25 (NR). West Virginia (3-0) – They survived a test at home by a desperate BYU squad. Their offense is great, but this is not a vintage WV defense.
24 (NR). Tennessee (4-0) – The Vols came storming back at home to beat their rival Florida. It was a terrible football game, but the Vols improved to the most unimpressive 4-0 of any team.
23 (23). North Dakota State (3-0) – IDLE
22 (NR). TCU (3-1) – Their only loss to Arkansas is looking ok, even though they had that game won before choking it away by poor clock management. They are going to be a tough out in the Big 12.
21 (NR). Miami (3-0) – I am not buying in completely, but there are just not enough deserving teams to fill out a top 25.
20 (NR). Mississippi (2-2) – The Rebels showed their merit by annihilating Georgia. The loss to Florida State still stings, but they showed something putting up 40+ points on Alabama.
19 (NR). Western Michigan (4-0) – They have two wins over the Big Ten, and they just took out the best team in the Sun Belt. They are going to sneak up on national rankings as the weeks tick toward December.
18 (9).  Michigan State (2-1) – Their win over Notre Dame looks less impressive, and they got rolled by Wisconsin. They need a new option at QB if they want to compete in the Big Ten East.
Image result for dalvin cook16 (21). Florida State (3-1) – The Noles looked like a different team playing a tricky road game at South Florida. They romped the Bulls almost as bad as they got romped the previous week at Louisville.
15 (18). Nebraska (4-0) – The Huskers won a road game against their budding rival Northwestern in an ugly game filled with mistakes on both sides.
14 (13). San Diego State (3-0) – IDLE
13 (14). Boise State (3-0) – Boise won in Corvallis, which isn’t really a difficult test, but it is their second win over a Pac-12 team this season.
12 (15). Utah (4-0) – The Utes looked shaky against USC, but they have a winning mentality that is going to be tough to shake. They are the best team in the Pac-12 South.
11 (11). Baylor (4-0) – The Bears faced their first good team of the year in Oklahoma State, and the team looks like the best team in the conference after a decisive win.
10 (10). Clemson (4-0) – The definition of a trap game was Clemson heading to GT, where they have struggled over the years. They passed the test by dominating the first half.
9 (7). Stanford (3-0) – Stanford struggled for 3 quarters against an average UCLA before taking over.
8 (6). Washington (4-0) – The first real opponent that the Huskies have played turned into an overtime nail-biter. Arizona typically wins those games, but UW survives to take on Stanford on Friday night under the lights.
7 (8). Texas A&M (4-0) – The Aggies are a scary team right now. Trevor Knight appears to be the best fit for the Sumlin system that he has ever had.
Image result for wilton speight6 (5). Houston (4-0) – The Cougars won by one of the most lopsided scores of the year. It was Texas State, though. Their strength of schedule is going to cause them to keep falling until they play Louisville.
5 (12). Wisconsin (4-0) – The Badgers looked like a different team than the one that struggled with Georgia State a week ago. Hornibrook is definitely a better option at QB than Houston.
4 (3). Alabama (4-0) – Bama beat up on Nick Saban’s alma mater Kent State on Saturday. Impressive? Meh…
3 (2). Ohio State (3-0) – IDLE
2 (4). Michigan (4-0) – Penn State was a trendy pick to give Michigan a fight, the Wolverines ended the game early and look every bit of a national title contender.
1 (1). Louisville (4-0) – The Cardinals did nothing to lose their spot at the top of the rankings after destroying Marshall on the road.

Top 5 Games for Next Weekend
5. Western Michigan (#19) at Central Michigan, 4:00PM CBSSN – The battle of the two best directional schools will likely be a shootout. Both are good teams, even though CMU had an embarrassing loss to Virginia on Saturday.
PREDICTION: Western Michigan 41-24
4. Kansas State at West Virginia (#25), 12:30PM ESPNU – This is not the sexiest matchup, but Kansas State is a tough team taking on an unbeaten team in the conference. It is an intriguing game nonetheless.
PREDICTION: West Virginia 31-27
3. Wisconsin (#5) at Michigan (#2), 12:30PM TBD – Wisconsin is highly ranked because they do have two top 10 wins, but neither of them are really as impressive anymore. I don’t think they have much of a chance in Ann Arbor, but I’ll be watching.
PREDICTION: Michigan 28-7
Image result for lamar jackson2. Stanford (#9) at Washington (#8), FRI 6:00PM ESPN – This has become a mini rivalry over the years, but this is the most consequential game between them in decades. It will likely be a defensive struggle. I don’t usually like these types of matchups during the week, but I’ll take it.
PREDICTION: Washington 17-9
1. Louisville (#1) at Clemson (#10), 5:00PM ABC – Can Louisville win a big road game? Can DeShaun Watson perform like the preseason Heisman favorite he was supposed to be? I can’t wait for this game.
PREDICTION: Clemson 23-21

Heisman Trophy Watch
5. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor – His stats are going to continue to impress all year long. If healthy, he will be invited to NY.
4. JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State – He is the technician and only veteran on the most surprising offense in the nation.
3. Jabrill Peppers, LB/CB/S, Michigan – He is being groomed to be Charles Woodson, and he is having just as good of a season as the former Heisman winner did.
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford – He isn’t having quite the season as last year just yet, but his numbers are still just as impressive as any player not named…
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – He is the most dynamic player in the nation by a mile. His rise to Heisman frontrunner can only be compared to Geno Smith. That didn’t end well, but I would be lying if I said he wasn’t the best at this point.

College Football Playoff Projections
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Utah over San Diego State
Rose Bowl: Stanford over Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl: Louisville over Baylor
Sugar Bowl: Houston over Texas A&M

College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Orange Bowl): Michigan over Washington
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Cotton Bowl): Alabama over Clemson
National Championship Game: Michigan over Alabama
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What did you think of this weekend? Rankings? Heisman predictions? Let me know below!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 2 College Football Recap: A weak slate still produces compelling games

Week 1 had more marquee matchups than any opening week of college football ever. Week 2 was a joke on paper, but as usual in this sport, the cupcake games showed the true colors of the teams we weren’t really sure about. It also generated some truly amazing individual achievements from players, as well as muddied the water around the College Football Playoff picture. Check out my recap of week 2 below, as well as my bowl projections, Heisman watch, and which games to look forward to next week.
Top 25 Poll
Others receiving votes: Mississippi, Tennessee, UCLA, West Virginia
Dropped from the rankings: Oklahoma State (16), West Virginia (18), BYU (23)

25 (NR). Oregon (2-0) – The scores of their first two games have not been attractive, but the stats have been lopsided. The pieces are there, they just aren’t polished just yet.
24 (NR). Iowa (2-0) – The Hawkeyes did what so many Hawkeye teams haven’t been able to do in the past: put away archrival Iowa State.
23 (25). Nebraska (2-0) – They have had two lopsided wins against typically good Group of 5 schools.
22 (NR). San Diego State (2-0) – The longest win streak in America (other than Bama) continued with a win over California.
21 (22). Notre Dame (1-1) – The Irish have found their answer at quarterback. The loss to Texas stung, but they rebounded and took out Nevada in style.
Image result for nick chubb20 (11). Georgia (2-0) – The Bulldogs narrowly escaped against pathetic FCS Nicholls State a week after winning an overrated game against North Carolina. They need to figure out their QB situation (play Jacob Eason all game) and just take this year as a learning experience. They are not good enough to compete in 2016.
19 (21). South Florida (2-0) – USF is a scary Group of 5 squad. They annihilated traditional MAC power Northern Illinois in Week 2.
18 (24). Utah (2-0) – The Utes took down BYU in the Holy War. It was an incredible game, and even though turnovers might be an issue for the team moving forward, they had one of the most impressive week 2 wins.
17 (20). Pittsburgh (2-0) – The Panthers have their best team in several years. They took down former archrival Penn State in a wild game that no one could have predicted would be a shootout.
16 (15). LSU (1-1) – The Tigers had Jacksonville State head to Death Valley after their ugly loss to Wisconsin, and they looked sluggish offensively once again. They absolutely need to solve that if they want to have a chance to have a successful season in SEC play.
15 (19). Oklahoma (1-1) – The Sooners rebounded well against ULM, a team that has traditionally given trouble to teams overlooking them.
14 (13). Baylor (2-0) – The Bears had a slow start before taking over against in-state foe SMU.
13 (17). Boise State (2-0) – The Broncos beat an incredible road team on the blue turf when they took down Washington State. They look balanced and like a really scary Group of 5 team.
12 (12). Stanford (1-0) – They beat K-State in week 1 before having a bye. They are going to be totally solid as long as they keep feeding the best player in the sport Christian McCaffrey.
11 (8). Clemson (2-0) – All 2-0s are not created equal. Clemson looked lousy against Troy after looking lousy against a terrible Auburn team. They still have the offensive talent to remain cautiously optimistic, but this doesn’t look like a contender right now.
10 (10). Texas A&M (2-0) – The Aggies followed up beating UCLA with a complete joke of a game, winning 67-0 against Prairie View.
9 (9). Texas (2-0) – The Longhorns appear to have found their future at quarterback. I’m hesitant to say that they are back, but they are absolutely the most improved team in the nation.
8 (14). Louisville (2-0) – I was wrong about this team. They are absolutely electric, and after winning huge in a building that has given several ranked teams trouble in the recent past, they are officially a real threat in the ACC.
7 (7). Wisconsin (2-0) – Wisconsin followed up their big win over LSU with an offensive explosion.
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6 (4). Ohio State (2-0) – Their final scores aren’t indicative of how the Buckeyes played. JT Barrett has started incredibly slow in both weeks so far.
5 (5). Washington (2-0) – They have two straight efficient and dominating blowout wins. The defense is good enough to carry the team to the playoffs.
4 (6). Michigan (2-0) – It is difficult to not be completely impressed with Michigan, who have simply hammered and demoralized two straight opponents.
3 (3). Houston (2-0) – It was a difficult day for Houston after playing almost an entire quarter before having a nearly 4 hour weather delay, but that didn’t prevent Houston from holding Lamar to less than 100 yards and 0 points.
2 (2). Florida State (2-0) – Following their big comeback against Ole Miss, FSU wasted no time putting away a great FCS team in Charleston Southern.
1 (1). Alabama (2-0) – The Crimson Tide struggled for all of about 5 minutes against Western Kentucky before completely taking over and cementing their spot as the #1 team through 2 weeks.

Top 5 Games for Next Weekend
5. USC at Stanford (#12), 5:00PM ABC – This is always one of the most interesting games in Pac-12 play. Stanford had a week off, but they didn’t exactly look like world beaters in week one. USC took out their Bama frustration on Utah State. Stanford’s home field advantage is pedestrian. Upset?
4. Oregon (#25) at Nebraska (#23), 12:30PM ABC – Neither team is at the top of their game, but the matchup is absolutely compelling. Can Oregon win the type of game that they consistently lost a year ago? Can Nebraska actually win a big game in the non-conference?
PREDICTION: Nebraska 38-34
Image result for jalen hurts3. Alabama (#1) at Mississippi, 12:30PM CBS – The only team to beat Alabama in the regular season the last two years gets a home game against maybe the most obvious #1 team in the nation since…last year’s preseason Ohio State. If any team has a reasonable chance to beat Bama in the lousy SEC, it is Ole Miss.
PREDICTION: Alabama 24-9
2. Florida State (#2) at Louisville (#8), 9:00AM ABC – The best matchup in terms of rankings is the game that Gameday will be attending. I am not completely sold on Louisville’s chances to actually beat FSU, but Lamar Jackson against that defense is tasty.
PREDICTION: Florida State 48-27
1. Ohio State (#6) at Oklahoma (#15), 4:30PM FOX – The biggest game of the year was maybe the most anticipated game of the year…until Oklahoma got upended in week one. This is still the most interesting matchup. Can Ohio State withstand another slow start against a really powerful offense? We shall find out.
PREDICTION: Ohio State 42-28

Heisman Trophy Watch
5. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor – He is going to put up monstrous numbers in that offense that doesn’t show any sign of slowing up without Art Briles.
4. Greg Ward Jr, QB, Houston – He may have sat out week two with an “injury”, but the guy is perfect for the Tom Herman offense and will be in the discussion as long as they remain unbeaten.
3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford – He has only one week, but he absolutely looked the part of a Heisman contender in that week. His stats aren’t even as good as he played. He had a long punt return TD called back.
Image result for lamar jackson2. Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State – He has burst onto the scene as quickly as any new player in the nation. He has grasped the offense as well as Jameis Winston, but he also has wheels. He is a terrifying player in the ACC.
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville – His stats are absolutely absurd. I don’t care about preseason favorites. Jackson is the obvious frontrunner after 2 weeks.

College Football Playoff Projections
Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl: Wisconsin over Clemson
Rose Bowl: Washington over Ohio State
Fiesta Bowl: Texas A&M over Texas
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma over LSU

College Football Playoff Semifinal #1 (Orange Bowl): Michigan over Houston
CFB Playoff Semifinal #2 (Cotton Bowl): Alabama over Florida State
National Championship Game: Michigan over Alabama

Who are your top teams after the first couple weeks? Who is your Heisman favorite? What the hell happened to Northwestern?! Comment below.