Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina's Effect on College Football

Katrina might be the worst natural disaster ever in the history of the United States. Hurricanes have rescheduled college football games in the past, but Katrina has put 80% of New Orleans under water, and has destroyed the gulf coast of Mississippi.

Besides not hosting North Texas, LSU might have to travel to Tempe, Arizona for it's home opener. Tulane University has shut down, and moved football operations to Dallas. The Green Wave's game against Southern Mississippi has also been postponed, and the Eagles have moved football operations, too. Utah State's game against Nicholls State(La) has been cancelled. With the state of Alabama effected, as well, gasoline prices to reach over four dollars per gallon, should college football games in the South be played this weekend?

For more up to date info involving Katrina and college football, please visit the College Football Resource.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The National Picks

The start of the season is only a couple of days away, time to break out the crystal ball. Let's look at the eight teams that I think will make the BCS. These are not the eight best teams in the country right now, or do I think they will be the top eight at the end of the season. The one thing these teams have in common, is luck. Luck is preparation meets opportunity. Here is snapshot on each of the eight teams.

Iowa- The Hawkeyes are finally getting the respect they deserve. After three straight ten win seasons and top ten finishes, many college football gurus are predicting a Big Ten title, some even a Rose Bowl berth. I am not going to be that bold. If everything swings right for the Hawkeyes they will win a share of their third Big Ten title in four years, but no Rose Bowl.
Key games- at Iowa State, at Ohio State, at Purdue, Michigan, at Wisconsin, Minnesota
Landmine game- Northern Illinois

Louisville- The Cardinals are a near unanimous pick to win the Big East in their first year. Some preseason publications even call for Louisville to go undefeated. Although not impossible to accomplish, last years' Cardinals were unable to finish unblemished against a weaker schedule. There is no juggernaunt on the schedule this year like Miami last year, but top to bottom, Louisville will be challenged more this year. Louisville will benefit from a weak Big East to earn a spot in their first ever BCS bowl game.
Key games- Oregon State, at West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
Landmine game- at Kentucky

LSU- Les Miles takes over for the departed Nick Saban. The talent in Baton Rouge is immense, and there is no excuse if the Tigers do not win at least nine games. Quarterback issues is the only thing keeping LSU from being the best team in the country, right now. All the top teams come to "Death Valley", except Alabama. With all this talent, and a favorable schedule, I expect LSU to be right in the thick of the SEC and national title race. Even a loss in the SEC title game should not keep the Tigers from a BCS bowl game.
Key games- Arizona State, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, at Alabama
Landmine game- Arkansas

Michigan- As many as five different Big Ten teams can end up in the BCS, but at least two will earn a bid. Michigan travels well and besides Notre Dame, is there any other school with a bigger national following? The Wolverines are aiming for Roses, and if their defense improves, very few will stop them. With or without a Big Ten title, Michigan will receive their third straight BCS bowl, maybe even their third straight Rose.
Key games- Notre Dame, at Michigan State, Penn State, at Iowa, Ohio State
Landmine game- at Wisconsin

Southern California- The Men of Troy should get an honorary pass to the national title game, but their road to Pasadena is not as easy as many might think. The Trojans must rebuild their defense, but with the best offense in the country, teams will have to outscore USC to win. Even with one loss, it is hard to think USC will be playing anywhere else this postseason except Pasadena.
Key games- at Oregon, at Arizona State, at Notre Dame, at California, Fresno State
Landmine game- Arkansas

Tennesseee- All the offseason problems in the world will not be able to keep the Volunteers out of the SEC title race. Tennessee is loaded, a tough schedule might keep them away from a Rose Bowl berth, but a big win in the SEC title game could change everything.
Key games- at Florida, at LSU, Georgia, at Alabama, at Notre Dame
Landmine game- UAB

Texas A&M- Dennis Franchione is in his third year, let the magic begin. The Aggies must survive some tough road tests, but by October this should be one of the top five teams in the country. The "Wrecking Crew" defense looks to return this year to compliment an already explosive offense. Facing a weak Big 12 North participant in the conference championship makes the finale against Texas for all the marbles.
Key games- at Clemson, at Colorado, at Texas Tech, at Oklahoma, Texas
Landmine game- at Kansas State

Virginia Tech- There is not a better coached team in America than the Hokies. Frank Beamer got these players to play beyond their years in a magical ACC championship season last year. Some key components need replacement, but this well, oiled machine is poised to make a national title run.
Key games- at North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Boston College, Miami, at Virginia
Landmine game- at Maryland


ROSE BOWL- USC 11-1 vs Texas A&M 11-1
Texas A&M is this year's 2000 Oklahoma, 2002 Ohio State, and 2003 LSU, a five loss team a year ago that will play for the national title. USC will try to be the first team ever to win three national titles in row. I am going out on a limb here, since A&M may lose their first game at Clemson, and I think USC will be upset at Oregon. In my opinion last year's five undefeated teams was an anomaly, as there should be no teams with an unblemished record this year.
My pick- In the biggest upset since Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, Franchione wins his first national title.

FIESTA BOWL- Michigan 9-2 vs Louisville 9-2
Louisville last played in the Fiesta Bowl in 1991 against a mediocre Alabama team. This time around they get one of the best teams in the country in Michigan. A Michigan win over Ohio State in the season finale will allow the Wolverines to get at-large berth. I predict Louisville to tie West Virginia for the Big East title, but the Cardinals should be ranked higher in the BCS rankings earning the conference's automatic berth.

SUGAR BOWL- Iowa 9-2 vs Tennessee 10-2
Tennessee will navigate a tough schedule to get to Atlanta and play for the SEC title. A huge win will propel them to the Sugar Bowl. Iowa will win a complicated Big Ten tiebreaker to earn an automatic berth to the BCS game.

ORANGE BOWL- Virginia Tech 10-2 vs LSU 10-2
Two teams that will be among the best in the country, and would equally have a great shot at a national title if there was a playoff system. If Virginia Tech can some how avoid two losses, or if LSU can win the SEC title game, substitute either one for Texas A&M in Pasadena.

The National Preview

All-American Team
Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Fullbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Linemen
Linemen, Linebackers, Defensive Backs
Kickers, Punters, Return Men


Official BlogPoll Preseason Top 25
Top Non-Conference Games
Heisman Contenders
Top Non-BCS Teams
Preseason Top 40(July)
2005's Surprise Teams

Other Bowl Predictions

New Orleans, GMAC, Las Vegas, Poinsettia, Fort Worth, Hawaii, Motor City, Insight, Champs Sports, MPC Computers, Alamo, Emerald, Holiday, Music City, Sun, Independence, Peach, Meineke Car Care, Liberty, Houston, Outback, Gator, Capital One, Cotton

Other Conference Previews

ACC Preview/ACC Awards

Big Ten Preview/Big Ten Awards

Pacific Ten Preview/Pac Ten Awards

WAC Preview/WAC Awards

CFB's Best Specialists

The country's best kickers, punters and return specialists.

1. Mason Crosby, Colorado
2. Conner Hughes, Virginia
3. Andrew Wellock, Eastern Michigan
4. Todd Pegram, Texas A&M
5. Justin Medlock, UCLA

1. Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor
2. Tom Malone, USC
3. Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest
4. Brandon Fields, Michigan State
5. Kyle Stringer, Boise State

Return Men
1. Ted Ginn, Jr., Ohio State
2. Devin Hester, Miami
3. Reggie Bush, USC
4. Ashlan Davis, Tulsa
5. Will Blackmon, Virginia Tech
6. Skyler Green, LSU
7. Ryne Robinson, Miami (Ohio)
8. Steve Breaston, Michigan
9. Michaell Bumpus, Washington State
10. Kevin Robinson, Utah State

Bowl Predictions

Auburn 8-3 vs Texas 8-3
The Cotton Bowl was originally one of the big four bowls, prior to the BCS. The Fiesta Bowl got the nod over the Cotton Bowl as the fourth and final BCS bowl in 1998. This past spring when discussions arose over the possibility of a fifth BCS game, the Cotton was never mentioned. Instead, one of the existing BCS games will host an additional national title game one week later. The Dallas bowl game lives on with the second place team from the Big 12 facing off against the fifth place team from the SEC, usually the second place finisher in the SEC West. Texas is everybody's national title favorite ,other than USC, but will fall short of expectations. Auburn missed out on the national title last year, but won't come close this year.

Bowl Predictions

Penn State 9-2 vs Alabama 9-2
Even I will admit that this may be far fetched. I do believe Alabama and Penn State will have good years and both will make a bowl game, but a renewal of their great rivalry in Orlando will be tough. The former Florida Citrus Bowl has second choice from the two best conferences in America this year. Matching Alabama against Penn State would be a great match up, even at the expense of passing teams such as: Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Purdue, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, or LSU.

Bowl Predictions


West Virginia 8-3 vs Miami 9-2
The Gator Bowl spent a good deal of the off season shopping for another bowl opponent for the 2nd place team from the ACC. The continued imbalance of the Big East compared to the ACC did not warrant a great match up in their eyes. The Gator Bowl tried unsuccessfully to lure the SEC, but did reach a partial agreement with the Big 12. The new match up will alternate between a 4th place Big 12 team or a 2nd place Big East team against the ACC's 2nd place team. The last year of the current agreement will see two former Big East rivals square off. West Virginia will have an outside shot at an automatic BCS bowl berth, but will make a third straight appearance in Jacksonville. Miami will make their third ever trip to the Gator Bowl.

Bowl Predications

Ohio State 9-2 vs Florida 7-4
Very few games match up with the late morning New Year's Classic in Tampa. In a loaded Big Ten, it is an almost guarantee a conference title contender will end up in the Outback Bowl. I predict the loser of the Ohio State- Michigan contest will play here, while the winner will go on to bigger and better things. There is so much pressure on Urban Meyer to get Florida another national title. A trip to Tampa might not make the folks in Gainesville to happy.

Bowl Predictions

Maryland 7-4 vs Kansas State 6-5
Changes for the Houston Bowl next year are eminent, but it is not known who will participate in this game next year. The Big 12 may renew its contract, but it will have to be the 8th place team, not the 5th, 6th or 7th. The SEC will probably not be back next year. They have yet to send 8th place participant to Houston. Conference USA is one likely replacement since the addition of three more Texas schools. The Big 12 will fill its spot here, but the SEC, for the third straight year, will not. I expect another ACC school will pick the slack. The Terps missed out on a bowl game last year, as did the Kansas State Wildcats.

Georgia Tech 8-3 vs UTEP 10-2
The Liberty Bowl still has not finalized an opponent to face Conference USA's champion. The Mountain West still may send its champion, but at this time it looks to be at large selection. Last year the Liberty Bowl had a great match up with 10-1 Louisville beating 11-0 Boise State. Liberty officials might be able to pull off the same type of match up. UTEP is more than capable of finishing the season unbeaten. The Miners schedule is not as tough as in year's past. If Boise State or Fresno State from the WAC finish with one loss, or maybe a one loss Bowling Green team could sneak in and give the Liberty Bowl another high profile non-BCS game. With the ACC having so many good teams and very few bowl spots, it is hard to believe Liberty officials will pass up a ranked ACC team.

Bowl Predictions


Pittsburgh 7-4 vs North Carolina State 8-3

The Queen City....wait.... the Continental, the Meineke Car Care Bowl is the new name for the four year old bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina. This name gives the Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl a run for its money. Regardless, the folks in Charlotte have put on a great bowl game. North Carolina State fans looks to pack the house, while Pitt fans will be disappointed after last year's great run to the Fiesta Bowl.

Bowl Predictions


Florida State 8-4 vs Georgia 8-3

Talk about a high power match up. The Peach Bowl is benefiting from the expanded ACC. Last year Miami(Florida) battled in state rival Florida, this year the pickings look to be just as good. Florida State was one of the most dominant teams in college football in the 80's and 90's. This year, Florida State hopes to continue that tradition, after four sub par years. The last time Florida State played in bowl that was not on New Year's Day was in 1990, the Blockbuster Bowl against Penn State. Georgia could easily win the SEC East and make it to a BCS game, but the Peach will get a great contest no matter what happens.

Bowl Predictions

Iowa State 7-4 vs Arkansas 7-4
Shreveport, Louisiana is not the first choice for many bowl goers, but somehow this game has been able to stay in existence for over twenty-five years. Regional match ups make sense in a bowl not played in a major hub. Arkansas is just up the road, and the Hogs are ready to go bowling after missing out last year. Iowa State looks like they will make a return trip to the Independence, but look to face someone other than a MAC opponent this year.

Bowl Predictions

Michigan State 8-3 vs California 8-3
The Sun Bowl is the only non-BCS bowl game, not on New Year's Day, with national network television(CBS) audience. One of the oldest bowl games still in existence, the Sun Bowl will make changes in 2006. Gone is the Big Ten, and in is the Big 12 and Big East. The Pac 10 will still send their 3rd place team to face either the 2nd team from the Big East or the 4th from the Big 12. The Big Ten was an odd fit in El Paso, the Big 12 makes more sense, but the Big East is even odder. Michigan State in any other year might be playing on New Year's Day, but the Big Ten is loaded this year. California is a darkhorse national title contender, but will come up short in an underrated Pac 10.

Bowl Predictions

South Carolina 7-4 vs Wisconsin 7-5
The Big Ten and the SEC play each other in three different bowls. The one in Nashville is usually the lest appealing of the three. This year I predict a very interesting match up. South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier should get the Gamecocks back on the winning side. While, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez is coaching his last year and a bowl win over the Ol' Ball Coach would be great way to end his career.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blog Roundtable (6)?

What criteria do you use to determine if a team and its players are good? I use a combination of four factors to determine how good a team is or may be(preseason). The four factors are talent, coaching, experience, and intangibles. Talent as a factor is a no brainer. In head to head match ups who has more talent and depth. Team speed, height, and size mismatches are big factors. Coaching is very important. All the talent in the world is useless, unless there is good coaching to guide it. Is the the coach a good gameday coach or just a good practice coach and game preparer? Does he make adjustments during games? If a team has good junior or senior leadership, in theory, they will make very few mistakes. Experience players make better game decisions and are more poised. Intangibles are a huge key for me. Football is more mental than physical. Some teams just have intangibles that make them a better "team". If I could explain them than they wouldn't be intangibles.

If you could choose one coach to build an offensive system for your school, who would it be? conversely, who would you choose to devise the defense? Why? Jeff Tedford is the best offensive mind in college football. He has turned three different programs into offensive juggernauts, all leading with the run. His quarterbacks get majority of the credit, but Tedford's innovative pro-style offense is nothing without a great running game. Fresno State, Oregon, and Cal have all set various school records under his guidance. Conversely, on defense it is Bob Stoops. I loved his defense at Kansas State in the early 90's and Florida did not win a national title until Spurrier hired Stoops away from K State. His Oklahoma defenses have been suspect against the pass recently, but there has been no better defensive mind in college football in the last 15 years.

Describe your typical college football Saturday. I am a homebody, unless I am going to a game. Regardless, I start my Saturday the same. Since Fresno State plays a lot of weekday games, or 10pm ET kickoffs, I get to watch a lot football during throughout the day. I'm up at 7am PT, me and my seven year old son makes some pancakes and watch ESPN Gameday. Flip through the 9am games, and prepare for the rest of the day. If I am making the couch my home for the day, I' ll start the home tailgate. Get the grill started and have all four TV's going, kitchen, patio, and two in the living room, not to mention the laptop. Usually, 12:30pt game is the one of the better games, I will follow that up with the ESPN prime time game, and finish with the late night FSN or TBS game. I will fill in the Fresno State game if its a weekend road game, wherever. If I going to the game, I am out the door soon after the 9am is over. I head over to the sports bar, grab some lunch and catch the the 12:30pt game. I head over to the stadium soon after to tailgate. After the game, I'll catch the Hawaii game on the tube, plus all the highlights.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Remembering a Fallen Bulldog

Fresno State will honor former player and Pentagon employee Otis Tolbert in the season opener September 10. Tolbert died in the terrorists attack at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. He lettered for the Bulldogs as a defensive end during the 1980-83 seasons.

WAC's New Commercial "Play Up"

The WAC is using a new commercial to advertise it's new "Play Up" campaign. It will air this upcoming Friday, August 26 during ESPN's college football preview show. The WAC needs to take advantage of the fact that it is the only non-BCS conference to have a team ranked in the Coaches or AP poll. Boise State and Fresno State are ranked in the preseason polls for the first time in their respective school's history. Boise State is ranked 18th by the AP and 19th by the Coaches, while Fresno State is ranked 24th by the AP and received the highest amount of others receiving votes in the Coaches poll. Both schools have high profile games this year, and have hopes of earning a BCS bowl. Utah proved last year that a preseason ranking and an unblemished record are just enough for a non-BCS school to achieve the coveted automatic BCS bid.

Boise State must get by road trips to nationally ranked Georgia and Pac 10 squad Oregon State, only to return home to face All-American quarterback Omar Jacobs and MAC favorite Bowling Green in the first three games of season. Fresno State has a trip to Oregon and host MAC champion Toledo within ten days of each other in September, and travel to two time defending national champion USC on November 19. The two nationally ranked WAC powers meet on November 10 in Fresno in what looks like to be the unofficial WAC championship game. No doubt, if either Fresno State or Boise State run the table, they will have earned the right to play in a BCS bowl.

The WAC is hoping it's new found national presence, and new western configuration is a sign of new things come. Since the initial split of the sixteen team conference in 1999, the WAC has gotten very little respect nationally, while the Mountain West is widely considered the best non-BCS conference. Fresno State and Boise State carry the flag for the WAC, in a year when no other non-BCS school is on the national radar.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

ACC Awards


WR-Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech
WR- Tremain Hall, N.C. State
TE- Jeff King, Virginia Tech
T- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Virginia
T- Jeremy Trueblood, Boston College
C- Pat Ross, Boston College
G- Matt Meinrod, Florida State
G- Tyler McMeans, Miami
QB- Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson
RB- Leon Washington, Florida State
RB- P.J. Daniels, Georgia Tech
FB- Quadtrine Hill, Miami
AP- Will Blackmon, Boston College

DE- Mathias Kiwanuka, Boston College
DT- Jonathan Lewis, Virginia Tech
DT- Orien Harris, Miami
DE- Mario Williams, N.C. State
LB- Ahmad Brooks, Virginia
LB- D'Qwell Jackson, Maryland
LB- Xavier Adibi, Virginia Tech
LB- Rocky McIntosh, Miami
CB- Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech
CB- Kelly Jennings, Miami
SS- Greg Threat, Miami
FS- Dawan Landry, Georgia Tech
PR- Devin Hester, Miami

K- Conner Hughes, Virginia
P- Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest
KR- Devin Hester, Miami

Individual Awards

Offensive POY- Leon Washington, Florida State

Defensive POY- Jimmy Williams, Virginia Tech

Freshman of the Year- Xavier Lee, Florida State

Coach of the Year- Chuck Amato, N.C. State

Game of the Year- Miami at Virginia Tech

Upset of the Year- Georgia Tech over Miami

Most Overrated- Wali Lundy, Virginia

Most Underrated- Chris Barclay, Wake Forest

Top Units

Best Quarterbacks-Clemson
Best Running Backs- Florida State
Best Wide Receivers- N.C. State
Best Offensive Line- Boston College
Best Defensive Line- N.C. State
Best Linebackers- Virginia
Best Defensive Backs- Miami
Best Special Teams- Miami
Best Coaching- Virginia Tech
Best Intangibles- Miami

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spach's the Man

Former Fresno State tight end/H-back Stephen Spach is making a name for himself with the Philadelphia Eagles. Spach, a former walk on from Clovis, only caught 38 passes in his 39 career games. Although, he was a minimal role player with Fresno State, his name will live on in Bulldog lore. Like Vince Wesson in California Bowl II, Stephen Spach made one of the most memorable touchdown catches ever in Fresno State history against Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl.

Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid likes to use two tight ends in his West Coast offense, so there is a good chance Spach will be an Eagle this year. Hats off to Pat Hill, once again, molding a local talent from walk on to NFL player. If local stars have not taken notice, yet, Hill's program has produced 10 of the 14 valley players drafted since 1997.