cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
07/29/2013 09:48 AM

NCAAF Games of the Year: Spread could flip with Boise at Fresno

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming college football season. Covers Experts' Doc's Sports gives you their insight into these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NCAAF Week 4: Boise State Broncos at Fresno State Bulldogs (-2)

Past history: The last time Fresno State won or covered against Boise State was 2005. Since then, the Broncos are 7-0 straight up and ATS.

Early look at the Broncos: This game and a season-opening trip to Washington (the Huskies are favored by 2.5 points) are the toughest games standing between the Broncos and another undefeated season. The season-win total sits at just 9.5, though, so oddsmakers aren’t as optimistic as in the past.

Early look at the Bulldogs: Head coach Tim DeRuyter enters his second year with the program off a surprising nine win campaign last year. Senior QB Derek Carr chose to put the NFL on hold to return, so expectations are high.

Where this line will move: The public knows Boise State and has forgotten about the Bulldogs. If the Broncos can beat Washington for the second straight game and enter this game unbeaten then the Broncos will be favored at kickoff.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
07/29/2013 09:49 AM

Pac-12 Conference college football preview

Note: Team write-ups are excerpts from the 2013 PLAYBOOK Football Preview magazine. Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

North Division

CALIFORNIA (7/6)

Team Theme: PLUGGING A HOLE IN THE DYKE

After witnessing a losing effort for the 2nd time in three seasons, the Berkeley brass was resolute that the end of an 11-year era with Jeff Tedford was at hand. Enter Sonny Dykes, an instant offense-expert, whose three-year tenure with Louisiana Tech witnessed a spike in offense each season. Unfortunately the only ‘D’ in his playbook is the first letter of his last name as his Bulldogs ranked dead-last in team defense last season while allowing an average 455 YPG in his three-year tenure in Ruston – not good news for a Cal team that slipped 91 YPG on defense in 2012. Dykes will be on the spot to earn every penny of the big fat five-year $9.7M contract he inked with the Bears, as he inherits a squad that lost its starting QB, leading RB and top WR. Even worse, the itinerary is filled with 9 winning teams. Get the super-glue ready.

Stat You Will Like: Sonny Dykes is 14-1 SU and 11-3-1 ATS versus sub .500 opponents.

PASS


OREGON (*8/7)

Team Theme: ADDICTED TO QUACK

After watching Chip Kelly’s big green machine rip the Pac-12 to shreds, going 34-3 in conference play with 31 wins by double-digits (and by an average winning margin of 25 PPG), defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was asked how in the world does new head coach Mark Helfrich, Oregon’s offensive coordinator under Kelly, improve on that? “It’s kind of, like, not fair,” replied Aliotti. ESPN’s Ivan Maisel adds, “To raise the bar, Helfrich has to raise the crystal trophy above his head. That would be a tall order for any head coach, much less a guy who has never run a program.” Once again, Helfrich will rely on QB Marcus Mariota, RB De’Anthony Thomas and a cast of 11 wide receivers who saw playing time last season.

Stat You Will Like: The Ducks appeared in a BCS bowl game each of Chip Kelly’s four years with the school, the longest current streak in the nation.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Stanford (11/7)


OREGON STATE (*9/8)

Team Theme: RE-BEAVED

The reward for the largest one-year turnaround in school history? Three new retrofit uniforms from the mad scientists at Nike, and a new Beaver logo. That is about the only new look to the OSU football program as they return loaded in 2013 with 294 combined starts back from the 2012 squad (332 if you count the kickers). Head coach Mike Riley, the winningest coach in the program’s history, was forced to play freshmen in 2011 and it paid off in spades last year. He’ll welcome 60 returning lettermen, including starting QBs Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz, to a team suddenly long on experience. A loss to Washington, following a 6-0 start to last year’s campaign, figures to be the circled game on this year’s schedule. We’ll be there.

Stat You Will Like: DC Mark Banker (11) and OC Danny Langsdorf (10) have by far the longest combined tenure (21) of coordinators in the Pac-12.

PLAY ON: vs. Washington (11/23) - *KEY as dog


STANFORD (*6/9)

Team Theme: RULE OF TREE

To say the Cardinal have advanced this program to an exceptional level would be an understatement. Starting with Jim Harbaugh and moving forward under David Shaw, the Cardinal shook a 7-year losing skid to become one of only five teams to score double-digit wins each of the last four seasons, keeping company with the likes of Alabama, Boise State, LSU, and Oregon. Thankfully, with QB Josh Nunes retiring from a bicep injury that was worse than expected, Kevin Hogan (started final six games last season) will be under center. With the graduation of four-year RB Stepfan Taylor, Hogan is also the team’s leading returning rusher. To top it off, the Tree ruled the FBS in sacks last year and returns five of its top six tacklers.

Stat You Will Like: Stanford recorded its first Rose Bowl win in 40 years last season.

PLAY ON: vs. Notre Dame (11/30)



WASHINGTON (*10/7)

Team Theme: PRICE IS RIGHT

The Huskies entered the 2012 season filled with promise off back-to-back 7-win bowl seasons with a quarterback on the verge of stardom. Keith Price was behind center after being recognized as the 7th-ranked signal caller in pass efficiency. Instead, Price regressed and UDub settled on a 3rd straight 7-6 season. Due to a litany of injuries, they force-fed a bevy of sophomores who this year become experienced juniors. Star RB Bishop Stankey, who rushed for 1,439 yards while also hauling in 33 passes, combines with WR Kasen Williams and TE Austin Sefrian-Jenkins to form a lethal trio of skill players – all of whom will find more touches behind a new no-huddle look in 2013. If Price is right, this team can become the conference surprise.

Stat You Will Like: The Huskies beat two Top 10 ranked teams at home last season.

PLAY ON: vs. Boise State (8/31) - *KEY as a dog


WASHINGTON STATE (*8/8)

Team Theme: SNAPPED WINNING STREAK

A streak of 10 winning seasons – and 10 bowl appearances – in 10 years as a collegiate head coach came to a screeching halt for Mike Leach in his debut with the Cougars last year. A 2-1 start dissolved into a 1-8 finish despite the fact that Wazzu led the Pac-12 in passing, while also finishing 9th nationally. Leach’s ‘Air-Raid’ attack welcomes back QB Connor Halliday and his four starting wide receivers. An offensive line that allowed a nation’s-worst 57 sacks last year must step up in order for the team to improve. Meanwhile, look for the forced experience of 17 freshmen that played last year to pay dividends in 2013. After all, Leach has NEVER suffered back-to-back losing seasons.

Stat You Will Like: Leach is 21-3 SU and 20-2-2 ATS at home in lined games when his team owns a .600 or less win percentage.

PLAY ON: vs. Stanford (9/28)


South Division

ARIZONA (7/10)

Team Theme: UPS AND DOWNS

Like the choice of floors on an elevator, the Wildcats have seen offensive and defensive production go up and down the past few seasons. With Rich Rodriguez on board last year, the Cats totaled 6,840 yards (526 YPG), shattering the former school record by over 1,100 yards in 2012 and making it three straight seasons of increased offensive production. On the other side of the coin, the team has witnessed defensive decline over each of the last four years. Thus, the task of shoring up the ‘D’ becomes priority-one this season. Replacing 20 seniors, nine of who were starters at one point or another last season, means Rich Rod will need to push the right buttons in 2013. Let’s hope it’s not the emergency button.

Stat You Will Like: Rodriguez is 11-15 SU and 7-18 ATS from Game 11 out, including 1-13-1 ATS when off an ATS loss.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Washington State (11/16)


ARIZONA STATE (*6/8)

Team Theme: INSTA GRAHAM

When the Sun Devils ended the season with three straight wins for the first time since 1978, a bevy of ‘firsts’ were suddenly in the books. First-year head coach Todd Graham acquainted 29 players, including 17 true freshmen, with their first action at this level. In addition, Graham became the only coach in FBS history to record 60-plus points in a bowl game multiple (3) times. And to top it off, RB Marion Grice led the nation in TDs per touch (7.5), helping lead ASU to more rushing yards in a season than it has had in the last 25 years. With returning quarterback Taylor Kelly ranked 3rd actively in the nation in pass efficiency, the Devils are the favorites to win the Pac-12 South.

Stat You Will Like: Last season, the Sun Devils led the nation in tackles for a loss, and the P12 in fewest penalties.

PLAY ON: at UCLA (11/23)


COLORADO (*8/9)

Team Theme: YABBA DABBA DOO

If, as they say, you have to hit rock bottom before climbing back up, then Boulder is likely the home of the Slate Rock & Gravel Company these days. No, you won't find Fred or Barney or much of a football team, for that matter. Instead, Mike McIntyre, who went from 1-12 to 10-2 with San Jose State, enters looking to wipe some of the pterodactyl egg off the face of a once-proud program that went winless at home for the first time since 1920, suffering its first shutout home loss in 20 years. Meanwhile, McIntyre inherits 17 returning starters and a team owning the 4th highest returning starts of all FBS squads this season. To which he was last heard muttering, “Don't toy with me, Barn.”

Stat You Will Like: The Buffaloes are 1-6 SU and 0-7 ATS as favorites versus Pac-10/12 foes since 1999.

PLAY ON: at Utah (11/30)


UCLA (*6/5)

Team Theme: PASSING TEAMA IN PASADENA

After being the first bowl team in NCAA history to end a season two games under .500 two years ago, the call went out to Jim Mora Jr. He responded with nine wins, matching the school record for wins by a 1st-year coach (Terry Donahue, 1976). Sophomore QB Brett Hundley leads the charges in 2013. Hundley set numerous school records, including total offense, passing yards and completions. He also became the first UCLA quarterback to toss for 300-plus yards in three straight games. While a tad short on returning starters, the Bruins feature 26 players with starting experience last season. Coupled with a coaching staff returning virtually intact, less is Mora this season as the Bruins look to claim a third-straight PAC-12 South division title.

Stat You Will Like: The Bruins are 0-9 SU the final three games of the season during the last three years.

PLAY ON: at Stanford (10/19)


USC (8/7)

Team Theme: DRIVING DOWN THE WRONG LANE

In three years with the Trojans, head coach Lane Kiffin has lost 13 games. That’s as many as Southern Cal lost the previous eight years combined. And last year’s defense allowed one of the highest totals of yards and points in school history. Not exactly Pete Carroll numbers… if you get our drift. Kiffin’s first call for help was to Clancy Pendergast, his new defensive coordinator. Despite the key losses of Barkley and Woods, plenty of talent returns in 2013, headlined by Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Marqise Lee, the team’s first-ever Biletnikoff Award winner. With 61 players back that saw action last year, including 7 of the top 9 RB’s and 5 of the top 6 tacklers, Kiffin needs to get his troops back on the right track – pronto.

Stat You Will Like: The last time USC lost 6 games in a season (2001) they rebounded by going 10-2 the following year, capturing the league title and winning a BCS bowl game.

PLAY ON: vs. UCLA (11/30)


UTAH (*7/6)

Team Theme: BOOK OF MORMON

Mormons in Utah are oftentimes committed to serving on religious missions. This year’s entire Utes team will be on a football mission – a long-time winning program that suffered a rare losing season in 2012 is looking to return to their winning ways. The first thing head coach Kyle Whittingham did was secure the services of Dennis Erickson, who will serve as offensive coordinator with former Ute QB Brian Johnson. Sophomore QB Travis Wilson (6’6” and 240 lbs) will target WR Dres Anderson and TE Jake Murphy, who led the team in receptions and receiving yards last season. They are the sons of former NFL WR Willie ‘Flipper’ Anderson and MLB star Dale Murphy. Look for it to be ‘mission accomplished’ in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: Whittingham is 6-1 ATS as a dog off a double-digit spread loss.

PLAY ON: vs. Oregon State (9/14)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:14 AM

How the new NCAAF Top 25 matches up with BCS odds

The 2013 NCAA Football Top 25 Coaches Poll debuted this afternoon, and to no surprise the defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide top the list, followed by Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia.

The Top 25 didn’t stray too far from what oddsmakers project as the favorites to win the national title. The top three schools – Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon – are 1-2-3 on the BCS odds board. Bettors may be getting great value with programs like No. 4 Stanford (+2,000), No. 19 Boise State (+15,000) or even No. 22 Northwestern, which offered the longest BCS odds of the Top 25 at +20,000.

Here are the brand new Top 25 rankings and each teams odds to win the 2013-14 BCS Championship.

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (+300)
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (+650)
No. 3 Oregon Ducks (+750)
No. 4 Stanford Cardinal (+2,000)
No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (+1,200)
No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies (+1,200)
No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (+3,000)
No. 8 Clemson Tigers (+2,500)
No. 9 Louisville Cardinals (+2,000)
No. 10 Florida Gators (+2,500)
No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (+6,000)
No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (+1,600)
No. 13 LSU Tigers (+3,000)
No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys (+4,000)
No. 15 Texas Longhorns (+2,000)
No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners (+5,000)
No. 17 Michigan Wolverines (+4,000)
No. 18 Nebraska Cornhuskers (+4,000)
No. 19 Boise State Broncos (+15,000)
No. 20 TCU Horned Frogs (+8,000)
No. 21 UCLA Bruins (+7,500)
No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats (+20,000)
No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers (+15,000)
No. 24 USC Trojans (+4,000)
No. 25 Oregon State Beavers (+12,500)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:16 AM

Armadillo: Friday's six-pack

Six college football teams playing the schedules with the highest combined winning percentage last season..........

6) Akron Zips 97-58, 62.6%

5) Kansas Jayhawks 96-57, 62.7%
T3) Missouri Tigers 96-56, 63.2%
T3) Purdue Boilermakers 96-56, 63.2%

2) Arkansas Razorbacks 99-54, 64.7%

1) Kentucky Wildcats 103-50, 67.3%


*****

Armadillo: Friday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........

13) Houston is the 4th-biggest city in America; they’ve got a beautiful ballpark with a retractable roof and fans who come out to watch, despite a dreadful product. How can they field a team whose highest paid player makes $1.2M a year?

In a couple years, when their replenishing farm system starts spitting out players, will they spend money then? Its an interesting question.

12) Kansas City’s 9-game winning streak this week is their longest in a decade; they haven’t lost since George Brett stepped down as hitting coach.

11) Odd Stat of the Day: I am told the record for a team not scoring despite having bases loaded and no one out is 8 times is one year; the A’s already have six. This is disturbing.

10) Did MLB tell teams before the trade deadline who was getting suspended in the Biogenesis thing? Seems like they should’ve, if they didn’t, so teams could act accordingly.

9) Mets’ dugout reporter Kevin Burkhardt is moving up in the world, hired by FOX as an NFL play-by-play guy this season; only 19 announcers called NFL games on network TV last year, so Burkhardt, who is very good, is in rarified air. He’ll be working with John Lynch this season.

8) CFL's Montreal Alouettes fired former Boise State/Colorado coach Dan Hawkins after only five games, with Als 2-3.

That is awful fast to fire a guy, but Montreal’s offense was sputtering after thriving in recent years under QB guru Marc Trestman, now the coach of the Chicago Bears. There’s probably a back story there; if there is, it’ll come out soon. No one can keep a secret anymore.

7) Denver Broncos signed former Colts’ lineman Ryan Lilja to play center; he is familiar with Peyton Manning from their Indy days, so that helps.

6) It is easy to envision an NFL 5-10 years from now with no kickoffs, to make the game safer. Not better, but less violent collisions.

Not sure how they get around losing the excitement of the onside kick at the end of close games.

5) Nebraska is about to get good in basketball; they’ve got a new practice facility, a new downtown arena opening up and they just signed a 6-4 guard from New Zealand who is eligible and will help right away, probably as the Huskers’ lead ballhandler.

Tim Miles built the program at North Dakota State and did well at Colorado State; he’s about to break through in Lincoln this season.

4) Big kid named Mo Walker played 6.6 mpg for Minnesota last year, but since Richard Pitino took over in April, Walker has lost 50 pounds, as he tries to improve his conditioning so he can work harder on improving his skills. Young Pitino will be an interesting study in the Big Dozen this winter.

3) So this Snowden character who is seeking political asylum spent 37 days in the Moscow airport? Who did his laundry? How did he pay for his food? Is it legal to just stay in an airport for 37 days? Is the Moscow airport a fun place to hang out? So many questions, so little time. Spending a month in an airport does not seem like fun, but that’s just me.

2) Read the espn.com article about Johnny Manziel; I feel bad for the kid, since so much fame came his way so quickly at a time when he has no idea how to handle it, and the adults in his life seem unwilling to buckle down and take control of the situation. His family is wealthy and they seem to resent others (like Coach Sumlin) getting wealthy off their son’s efforts.

After reading the article, its hard to imagine him still being at Texas A&M at this time next year.

1) Buck Showalter is my new hero, after he said MLB is helping the Bronx Bombers get out from ARod's enormous contract.

Whatever the length of Rodriguez's deal, Showalter thinks it is unfair the Yankees will receive salary relief from a suspension.

"They're the ones who signed him to that contract....."

If ARod does a plea bargain and gets benched for the rest of this year and 2014, Bronx Bombers are off the hook for a little over $40M, which is bad news, since they’ll use that money to buy other team’s players, some of whom might play for the Orioles. Or your favorite team. .

They shouldn’t get bailed out of a horrible contract, but MLB seems willing to help them do just that. Terrific.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:20 AM

2013 Outlook - SEC

July 28, 2013


Skinny: 5Dimes has made Alabama the +300 favorite to win its third consecutive BCS Championship. The Crimson Tide is the -155 ‘chalk’ to win the SEC West and the +150 favorite to win the SEC. Nick Saban’s squad has a season win total of 11 (‘under’ -155, ‘over’ +125).

For a second straight season, Alabama has an easier path to Atlanta than its other SEC West rivals. That’s because the Tide don’t have to play the SEC East’s top three programs – Florida, South Carolina and Georgia – during the regular season.

Alabama returns six starters on offense and seven on defense. Senior quarterback A.J. McCarron has a 25-2 record in 27 career starts. The Mobile, Ala., product completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards with an incredible 30/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2012.

McCarron has all of his favorite receiving targets back, including Amari Cooper (59 catches, 1,100 yards & 11 TDs), Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell. The offense loses workhorse running back Eddie Lacy, but this unit has plenty of talent at the RB position. Sophomore T.J. Yeldon will be the starter following a freshman season in which he rushed for 1,108 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Four starters on the offensive line have moved on, but ‘Bama will still have one of the better fronts in the SEC. The Tide averaged 38.7 points per game last year, the highest average scoring output in Saban’s six years in Tuscaloosa. As long as McCarron stays healthy, they’ll score a lot of points again in 2013.

Although I believe the demise of LSU is being exaggerated this summer, I am picking Texas A&M to finish in second place in the SEC West. Like ‘Bama, the Aggies have an easier schedule than LSU.

All the offseason drama surrounding reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel has been overblown. Yes, the expulsion from the Manning Passing Academy was a story worthy of criticism, but – at least to me – the other stuff was simply a product of the 24/7 news cycle and non-stories being made into stories.

Manziel is going to have another outstanding season. Sophomore WR Mike Evans, who had 82 receptions for 1,105 yards and five TDs as a true freshman, could emerge as the nation’s top wideout. Remember, he only played one year of high school football because he was a standout basketball player.

Kevin Sumlin has plenty of options in the backfield, including Oklahoma transfer Brandon Williams. Also, Ben Malena returns after rushing for 808 yards and eight scores while averaging 5.9 YPC. Despite the loss of Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M will have one of the SEC’s top o-lines led by first-team All-American Jake Matthews.

The Aggies returns five starters from a defense that surprisingly held opponents to just 21.8 PPG in 2012.

Sumlin’s squad has a season win total of 9.5 (‘over’ -145, ‘under’ +115). The Aggies have the fourth-shortest odds to win the nationals title (14/1). They have +380 and +850 odds to win the SEC West and the overall league title, respectively.

LSU lost a lot of players early to the NFL and more than half of its defensive starters went in the draft. Nevertheless, there’s still a ton of talent in Baton Rouge and I believe Les Miles covets the fact that most experts think this is going to be a rebuilding year.

LSU has eight starters back on offense and four on defense. Senior QB Zach Mettenberger had his ups and downs in his first season as a starter, but he came of age in the near-upset of Alabama and was a much better player late in the season.

Mettenberger has his top four WRs back, including All-SEC candidates in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckam. RB Jeremy Hill is currently suspended, but the Tigers have veterans Kenny Hilliard (the nephew of LSU and Saints great Dalton Hilliard) and Alfred Blue.

LSU’s daunting schedule includes home games against Florida and Texas A&M, in addition to the season opener vs. TCU at Cowboys Stadium. The road slate includes trips to Athens, Starkville, Oxford and Tuscaloosa.

LSU has a season win total of nine (‘under’ -150, ‘over’ +120). The Tigers have +525 odds to win the SEC West, +1250 odds to win the SEC and 19/1 odds to win the BCS Championship Game.

The Ole Miss brand is rapidly soaring under the leadership of Hugh Freeze, who led the Rebels to a 7-6 straight-up record and a 10-3 against-the-spread mark in his first season at the helm in Oxford. Next, Freeze assembled one of the best recruiting classes in the country, tabbing the consistent No. 1 player in America (DE Robert Nkemdiche), the No. 1 WR (Laquon Treadwell) from out of Chicago and one of the nation’s best OTs (Laremy Tunsil).

Ole Miss returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense. The Rebels have a season win total of eight (‘under’ -145, ‘over’ +115). They have 10/1 odds to win the SEC West and 27/1 odds to win the SEC.

Junior QB Bo Wallace accounted for 30 TDs last season, throwing for 22 scores and rushing for eight. He is a big-time playmaker but will need to cut down on his interceptions (17) if Ole Miss is going to improve in 2013.

Wallace has one of the SEC’s best WRs in Donte Moncrief, who hauled in 66 receptions for 979 yards and 10 TDs. Senior RB Jeff Scott rushed for a team-high 846 yards in 2012. He had six rushing TDs and one TD catch.

The schedule is absolutely brutal through mid-October, but the Rebels don’t have to leave the state of Mississippi after an October 5 trip to The Plains to face Auburn. They have a five-game stretch over six weeks that looks like this: at Texas, open date, at Alabama, at Auburn, vs. Texas A&M and vs. LSU. (Due to the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M into the SEC, there are scheduling quirks like Ole Miss hosting A&M and playing at ‘Bama for a second straight season.)

I think Arkansas AD Jeff Long ran a perfect coaching search. He brought big money to the table and went after nothing but elite coaches, including LSU’s Les Miles, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Vandy’s James Franklin.

When you’ve already taken Heisman treatment from at least four coaches and you still end up hiring a man who took his team to the last three Rose Bowls, well, you’ve done an outstanding job. Just when it seemed as if nobody wanted to be the new leader of the Razorbacks, Long went up north and stole one of the best Big Ten head coaches in Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, who won 68 games seven seasons with the Badgers.

Arkansas is in good hands with Bielema moving forward, but he will have to work magic just to get the Hogs to a bowl game. The schedule is incredibly difficult, including road games at Rutgers, at Florida, at Alabama, at Ole Miss and at LSU. The Hogs might be favored in five games.

Auburn should be vastly improved after bringing back former OC Gus Malzahn, who led Arkansas St. to a 10-3 SU record and a 9-4 ATS mark in his first season as a collegiate head coach. Obviously, the Tigers fell apart in their one season without Malzahn, going an atrocious 3-9.

AU got abysmal QB play from three different guys last year who combined for a 7/15 TD-INT ratio. If Malzahn can just get decent QB play, AU can improve its win total by at least three games. Now I have no idea who the signal caller will be (surely not Kiehl Frazier?!), but I trust that Malzahn will put a solid offensive product on the field.

Auburn has a season win total of 6.5 (‘over’ -135, ‘under’ -105).

Mississippi St. started 7-0 in 2012, only to lose five of its next six games. The Bulldogs got thumped 41-24 at Ole Miss and dropped a 34-20 decision to Northwestern at the Gator Bowl.

Dan Mullen’s squad has a season win total of six (‘under’ -145, ‘over’ +115). MSU has seven starters returning on offense and five on defense.

Senior QB Tyler Russell threw for 2,897 yards with a 24/10 TD-INT ratio last year. However, his top four receivers are gone. RB LaDarius Perkins is back, though. He rushed for 1,024 yards and eight TDs while averaging 5.0 YPC last season.

Mississippi St. has one of the SEC’s best young LBs in Benardrick McKinney, who had 102 tackles as a true freshman.

Georgia is the +145 ‘chalk’ to win the SEC East and it has +400 odds to win the conference. The Bulldogs, who have 25/1 odds to win their first national title since Vince Dooley was coach and a dude named Herschel Walker wore No. 34, return nine starters on offense and three on defense. They went 12-2 SU and 8-6 ATS last season, ending the year with a 45-31 win over Wisconsin at the Capital One Bowl.

But the story of UGA’s 2012 campaign will always and forever be the incomprehensible decision-making by both Mark Richt and Aaron Murray at winning time. The fact that Richt has spent the offseason defending the thought process is equally as galling.

(To be clear here, I know Richt is a good man and I like him for the most part, but those sort of clock-management decisions are elementary. Mistakes like that are the difference between winning the SEC East and winning the national title. When coaches who make millions commit such costly blunders, they absolutely deserve to be called out for it.)

UGA is loaded on offense with Murray set to surpass David Greene as the school’s all-time leading passer at some point in October. He has one of the country’s best tight ends (Arthur Lynch), two excellent WRs (Michael Bennett & Malcolm Mitchell) and a great 1-2 punch at RB (Keith Marshall & Todd Gurley).

The defense is the unit to be concerned about if you’re a UGA fan. This group brings back only three starters and the playmaking of Jarvis Jones will be sorely missed.

Georgia might start 4-0 but it could be 1-3 and done by the end of September, too. The Bulldogs open at Clemson and then host South Carolina. They (finally) face LSU in Athens on Sep. 28.

South Carolina has enjoyed the best three-year stretch in school history, winning 31 times, including back-to-back 11-win seasons. The Gamecocks return seven starters on offense and five on defense. They have a season win total of 9.5 (‘under’ -120, ‘over’ -110).

I like Steve Spurrier’s team to provide gamblers with a winner on ‘over’ 9.5 wins. Also, I’m calling for the Gamecocks to win the national championship (30/1 odds!).

USC has the nation’s best player in junior DE Jadeveon Clowney, who had 13 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. Clowney demands double and triple-teams, which will allow DT Kelcy Quarles and DE Chaz Sutton to make plays galore.

Spurrier has two QBs he can win with in Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. Shaw played through pain the entire 2012 season after suffering a lower back injury in the opener against Vandy. He also struggled with foot and shoulder injuries at various points.

Nevertheless, Shaw completed 67.5 percent of his throws with a 17/7 TD-INT ratio. Also, Shaw rushed for 608 yards (before subtracting sack yardage) and three scores. Dylan Thompson got the starting nod in the regular-season finale at Clemson (10-1 at the time) and responded by throwing for 310 yards and three TDs without a turnover in a 27-17 victory.

Thompson also came in out of the bullpen and threw the game-winning TD in a 33-28 win over Michigan at the Outback Bowl. The rising junior signal caller finished the year with a 10/2 TD-INT ratio.

Spurrier hinted at SEC Media Days that we might see Shaw line up at WR in some situations with Thompson under center. Thompson’s presence will also allow Spurrier to call running plays for Shaw without as much fear of an injury.

Marcus Lattimore is gone but the Gameocks won nine of 10 games after Lattimore went down with season-ending injuries in 2011 and 2012. Bruce Ellington is USC’s top WR who hauled in 40 receptions for 600 yards and seven TDs. The ‘Cocks also have an outstanding TE (Rory Anderson) and I’m expecting better production out of WRs Damiere Byrd and Shaq Roland.

Will Muschamp led Florida back into the upper echelon of college football after a pair of disastrous seasons. The Gators would’ve gone to the BCS Championship Game if Southern Cal could’ve beaten Notre Dame at home in the final week of the regular season.

UF had as many big wins as any team, winning at Texas A&M and at FSU, in addition to home victories over LSU and South Carolina. The Gators limited foes to just 14.5 PPG.

UF returns six starters on offense and four on defense, but I believe those numbers are a bit deceiving. That’s because DE Ronald Powell is back after missing 2012 with an ACL tear, and the o-line will be bolstered by a pair of transfers who were starters at Nebraska and Maryland in 2011.

The defense is in good hands with perhaps the best d-line and secondary in the SEC (and Muschamp!). UF also has the country’s best punter in Kyle Christy. Those factors make it nearly a given that the Gators will win at least eight games.

But to get back to double-digit wins, the offense must make big strides. This unit will be all about junior QB Jeff Driskel, who will need help from a WR group that disappointed last season. With the exception of the Georgia game, Driskel did a tremendous job of limiting turnovers (only five interceptions). He also rushed for four TDs and is a big-time weapon when he scrambles.

Even with the loss of Mike Gillislee, who rushed for 1,152 yards, UF is fine at the RB position. I expect sophomore Matt Jones (5.3 YPC) to enjoy a breakout season and watch out for true freshman Kelvin Taylor, the son of Gator Great Fred Taylor.

Florida has a season win total of nine (‘under’ -135, ‘over’ -105). The Gators have +365 odds to win the SEC East and +950 odds to win the conference.

From a scheduling standpoint, UF is clearly at a disadvantage compared to UGA and South Carolina in the East. The Gators play at LSU, while UGA gets LSU at home and USC doesn’t have to face Les Miles’s bunch. None of the three have to face ‘Bama, which gives the Tide an advantage over the rest of the West. In non-conference play, Florida plays at Miami in Week 2 (without starting LB Antonio Morrison due to suspension) and closes the regular season at home vs. FSU.

The incredible coaching job done by James Franklin at Vanderbilt in his first two seasons can’t possibly be overstated. The Commodores closed the 2012 campaign with the SEC’s longest winning streak (seven), beating North Carolina St. by a 38-24 count at the Music City Bowl.

Vandy reached nine wins last season for the first time since 1915. On Franklin’s watch the last two years, the ‘Dores have compiled an 18-8 spread record.

Vandy’s defense is loaded with upperclassmen. If this unit gets through August without any injuries, it will have seven senior starters and three juniors. The Commodores allowed only 18.7 PPG in 2012.

Senior CB Andre Hal was a second-team All-SEC selection last year when he broke up 14 passes and made two interceptions. Senior DE Walker May tallied seven tackles for losses, three sacks and seven QB hurries. In Phil Steele’s position rankings, he has Vandy’s linebackers and secondary both ranked as the fourth best in the SEC.

The question mark for this team is QB where Austyn Carta-Samuels inherits the job from Jordan Rogers. Carta-Samuels got one start last season in a 58-0 win over Presbyterian but barely touched the field otherwise. He had 21 starts at Wyoming as a freshman and sophomore, throwing for 3,655 yards with a 19/13 TD-INT ratio.

Carta-Samuels probably has the SEC’s best 1-2 combo at WR with Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Matthews as the No. 1 WR for the 2014 NFL Draft after he made 94 catches for 1,323 yards and eight TDs in 2012.

Vandy has a season win total of seven (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ -105). The Commodores have 23/1 odds to win the SEC East, 45/1 odds to win in Atlanta.

When you are entering the SEC like Missouri was, the last thing you want to see is three starting offensive linemen go down with season-ending injuries in August. That’s what happened to the Tigers, who also had their QB James Franklin coming off of offseason shoulder surgery.

Factor in the absence of RB Henry Josey (torn ACL late in ’11) and you had the makings of a lost season. Franklin was never 100 percent healthy and completely lost his confidence. The result was a 5-7 record.

When measuring Mizzou up to Texas A&M, you get the sense that Gary Pinkel needs an eight-win season to keep the Tiger faithful happy. I fully expect Franklin to have a bounce-back season and Josey is back in the mix. They need sophomore WR Dorial Green-Beckham to step up his play after a disappointing freshman season.

New head coaches Butch Jones (Tennessee) and Mark Stoops (Kentucky) are absolutely killing it on the recruiting trail right now, but neither program is going bowling in 2013.

Fearless Predictions
SEC Championship Game - South Carolina beats Alabama



2013 Win-Loss Projections

School Record Win Total (5Dimes) Bowl Projection

East Division
South Carolina 12-1 9 ½ BCS Championship Game vs. Oregon
Florida 10-2 9 Outback Bowl vs. Big Ten #3
Georgia 10-2 9 ½ Chick-Fil-A Bowl vs. ACC #2
Vanderbilt 7-5 7 ½ Liberty Bowl vs. C-USA #1
Missouri 6-6 6 Independence Bowl vs. ACC #7
Tennessee 5-7 6 -
Kentucky 4-8 4 ½ -


West Division
Alabama 11-2 11 Sugar Bowl vs. At-Large
Texas A&M 10-2 9 ½ Cotton Bowl vs. Big 12 #2
LSU 9-3 9 Gator Bowl vs. Big Ten #5
Ole Miss 8-4 8 Music City vs. ACC #6
Auburn 6-6 6 ½ BBVA Compass Bowl vs. AAC #5
Mississippi State 5-7 6 -
Arkansas 5-7 5 ½ -



Games to Watch:

1-Alabama at Texas A&M (Sep. 14) – 5Dimes has Alabama listed as an expensive 9.5-point favorite as of July 26. The Tide will have the revenge angle and two weeks to prepare following an open date. However, Texas A&M opens at home against Rice and Sam Houston St., so I’m not sure the open date gives ‘Bama much of an advantage (if any). I like the home underdog.

2-South Carolina at Georgia (Sep. 7) – Steve Spurrier still owns Georgia. He compiled an 11-1 record against the Dawgs during his 12-year tenure at Florida, and he’s now led the Gamecocks to three straight wins over UGA. Clowney has made life miserable for Aaron Murray in the last two meetings. 5Dimes has UGA as a four-point favorite.

3-Florida vs. Georgia (Nov. 2 in Jacksonville) – For the first time since the 1980s, Georgia has won back-to-back games against Florida. Muschamp is now 0-6 in the series after losing to UF four times as a player at UGA. He wants the win as bad as any on the schedule this season. The winner will have a great chance to get to Atlanta, while the loser will be in trouble. 5Dimes has UGA as a three-point ‘chalk’ (-120) with a total of 45.5.

4-LSU at Alabama (Nov. 9) – 5Dimes has ‘Bama as an 11.5-point home favorite with a total of 39.5. LSU has dropped back-to-back games in this rivalry, but the Tigers won a 9-6 decision in overtime in their last trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium. Both teams have two to prepare for this showdown.

5-Texas A&M at Ole Miss (Oct. 12) – If the Aggies beat Alabama, they will essentially own a two-game lead over the Crimson Tide in the SEC West standings. Therefore, ‘Bama will need A&M to lose twice. The best chance for the Aggies to go down will be at LSU on Nov. 23 and this is probably the second-toughest test. In its favor, Texas A&M has an open date before going to Oxford. Ole Miss will be returning home after back-to-back road assignments at Alabama and at Auburn (and LSU will be on deck). 5Dimes has the Aggies favored by four.

Week 1 Best Bet: Take South Carolina -11 vs. North Carolina – I love UNC head coach Larry Fedora’s ability to call offensive plays and he has an excellent QB in Bryn Renner, who had a 28/7 TD-INT ratio last season. But the Tar Heels are going to have their hands full in protecting Renner. I think the Gamecocks pull away in the second half to win a 31-16 decision.

Players to Watch:

1-A.J. McCarron (Alabama QB) – He has never missed a start, staying healthy for 27 consecutive games. If this streak were to come to an end, Nick Saban would have to turn to a QB with next-to-no experience. And the value of McCarron, in addition to his place in the annals of Alabama football history, would become even clearer. If McCaron misses an extended period of time, any hopes of a three-peat will disappear.

2-Jeff Driskel (Florida QB) – As stated above, we know UF’s defense is going to be enough for this to be an 8-4/9-3 type of team. If Driskel becomes an elite QB, the Gators are capable of getting to Atlanta and Pasadena.

3-Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina DE) – More than any player in America, Clowney is capable of dominating a football game all by himself. With one play, he can make a sack, force a fumble and send an opposing QB to the sidelines for the rest of a game. He has the best chance of any defensive player to win the Heisman since Michigan’s Charles Woodson.

4-Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri WR) – He was the nation’s No. 1 player in the 2012 prep recruiting class, but Green-Beckham only made 28 catches for 395 yards and five TDs. With James Franklin 100-percent healthy, Missouri needs Green-Beckham to have more than 1,000 receiving yards and about 10 TD grabs.

5-Kenny Hilliard (LSU RB) – With Jeremy Hill’s status unknown (currently suspended indefinitely), Hilliard finally looks like he’ll get the bulk of the touches. As a freshman, Hilliard led the way to a blowout win over Georgia at the SEC Championship Game. He averaged 5.4 YPC and garnered All-SEC Freshman honors. In 2012, he took a backseat to Hill but still managed to rush for six TDs and average 5.7 YPC.

6-Brandon Williams (Texas A&M RB) – With the threat of Johnny Manziel’s scrambling and passing, Texas A&M running backs are going to have chances galore to be effective. This transfer from Oklahoma was a top-five RB coming out of high school in 2011 and rushed for 4.8 YPC as a freshman with the Sooners. Williams is expected to have a huge impact on this potent offense.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Only two SEC West teams have never made it to Atlanta – Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Obviously, the Aggies have only had one chance while the Rebels haven’t won the division since it formed in 1992. As for the SEC East, three schools (Vandy, Kentucky & Missouri) have failed to make it to the Ga. Dome.

--During Steve Spurrier’s tenure at South Carolina, the Gamecocks have compiled a 52-42-5 spread record.

--Mississippi St. is 10-5 ATS as a home favorite on Dan Mullen’s watch.

--LSU has limped to a 19-30-1 spread record as a home favorite under Les Miles.

--Alabama owns a 16-8 spread record as a road favorite during Saban’s six years in Tuscaloosa.

--UF’s Driskel has 60/1 odd to win the Heisman.

--Top Ten QBs:
1-Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
2-A.J. McCarron (Alabama)
3-Aaron Murray (Georgia)
4-Connor Shaw (South Carolina)
5-Jeff Driskel (Florida)
6-Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
7-Dylan Thompson (South Carolina)
8-James Franklin (Missouri)
9-Bo Wallace (Ole Miss)
10-Tyler Russell (Mississippi St.)


--Ranking the Head Coaches:
1-Nick Saban
2-Steve Spurrier
3-Kevin Sumlin
4-Will Muschamp
5-Les Miles
6-James Franklin
7-Hugh Freeze
8-Mark Richt
9-Bret Bielema
10-Gus Malzahn
11-Dan Mullen
12-Gary Pinkel
13-Butch Jones
14-Mark Stoops

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:22 AM

2013 Mountain West Preview

July 21, 2013


2013 Mountain West Conference Football Preview By Marc Lawrence In the dizzying world of college athletics expansion, the MWC welcomes two new houseguests this season, San Jose State and Utah State. Meaning it’s out with the old and in with the new… well sort of… in the Mountain West Conference in 2013.

After losing its first-and-only three-time champ TCU to the Big 12 last season, the MWC bounced back and lured three replacement members for 2012, namely Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada.

By our scorecard three major powerhouse programs have bailed out of the conference the past three seasons (BYU, Utah and aforementioned TCU) with the Bulldogs, Rainbow Warriors and Wolf Pack taking their place last year – and now the aforementioned Spartans and Aggies entering this season.

Pure and simple, if it were a baseball trade, it would be safe to say the MWC pretty much-mirrored Jeffrey Loria and the Miami Marlins when they sent triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. To put it bluntly, they got hosed.

Granted, the decision of Boise State and San Diego State to back out of a commitment to join the Big East and remain in the Mountain West adds a bit more legitimacy to the conference. However, under its new agreement with the Mountain West, Boise State home football games will not be part of the current or future Mountain West television rights contracts. The school's home games will be sold separately by the conference and the university and revenue will be distributed among league members. But Boise State can make extra money by being on national television more often than its conference mates.

In addition, the conference also agreed not to impose uniform restrictions on Boise State. So the Broncos can go back to wearing blue while playing on its blue-turf home field. The Mountain West had prohibited those uniforms because opposing coaches complained that it gave the Broncos an unfair advantage. It’s called the cost of doing business.

For the sixth consecutive year, the Mountain West sent five teams into postseason bowl games in 2012. The MWC has earned 56 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 32-24 (.571) all-time record in those contests. However, the Mountain West finished with a 1-4 mark in postseason play in 2012, marking the second year in a row the league did not post a winning bowl record (2-3 in 2011).

Boise State (11-2), Fresno State (9-4), San Diego State (9-4), Nevada (7-6) and Air Force (6-7) all reached bowl eligibility, marking the eighth year in a row, and ninth overall, the MWC has boasted five bowl-eligible teams. In fact, its .610 win percentage (25-16) in bowl games since 2004 is second only to the SEC’s .653 glossy (47-25) mark.

Three new coaches come calling in the Mountain West this season, all taking charge of a program for the first time in their coaching careers. In fact, the MWC has seen 20 first-year coaches the past 14 seasons, eight of which played in a bowl game in their debut year.

From Air Force to Wyoming, the new Mountain West Conference does more than just blanket the alphabetical world of college football. Ranging from sea level (Hawaii 18 feet and San Diego State 46 feet) to over 7,000 feet above (Air Force and Wyoming), a mountainous challenge awaits the twelve teams calling the MWC home this season.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

Mountain Division

AIR FORCE (3/5)
Team Theme: MISSION POSSIBLE

On paper the Cadets look mighty thin with only 3 starters back on offense and a defense that’s gone backward each of the last three years. But rebuilding and reloading is never an issue with a military team as prospects waiting in the wings are always ready to be the next man up. That experience this season comes in part from 24 first-time starters last year, the most in the nation. And remember this: only five times since the AFA joined the Commander-in-Chief competition in 1972 have they been swept in the same season, as was the case last year. With skipper Troy Calhoun off his first losing season with the Academy, expect a u-turn in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: Three of the last four games with Navy have gone to overtime.

PLAY ON: at Navy (10/5)

BOISE STATE (*5/4)
Team Theme: BOWL ME OVER

For the second straight year, head coach Chris Petersen finds the cupboard bare with just nine returning starters back for the Broncos. This year, however, his troops will take on six 2012 bowl teams in the first eight games of the season, with bowlers dotting the agenda in five of six road games. A puzzling home loss to San Diego State helped snap the Broncos’ skein of four straight 12-win seasons, the only team to accomplish that feat since 1920! In addition, the schedule finds three Friday games and two bye-weeks (make it 3 if they advance to the MWC title game on 12/14). Other than that, it should be no problem for the nation’s winningest team since 1997 (a stellar 168-35) to retain a season-ending spot in the Top 15 for the 16th straight season.

Stat You Will Like: The Broncos are 18-4 SU and 16-6 ATS on Fridays, including 6-0 ATS as single-digit favorites.

PLAY ON: at San Diego State (11/23) - *KEY

COLORADO STATE (*9/6)
Team Theme: “RAM U”

Beware: 2nd-year head coach Jim McElwain’s comprehensive off-season program called “Ram U” was derived from its all-around approach to physical and mental conditioning… and it’s working. The proof is in the pudding as CSU’s 2nd half turnaround last season, despite being gutted with injuries, was remarkable. Behind a rushing attack that improved 70 YPG the final five games of the season, the Rams won three of their final five games. Nine returning starters on offense (plus OG Brandon Hayes, who started 7 games in 2012) and the entire RB corps, along with 8 of the top 9 WR’s, meld with six starters on defense (plus an influx of JUCO linemen) to give them sleeper status in 2013. Make sure you don’t snooze on this team.

Stat You Will Like: The Rams finished 17th in the nation and 2nd in the MWC in red-zone efficiency (21/24 scores) last season.

PLAY ON: at Wyoming (10/19)

NEW MEXICO (5/3)
Team Theme: LET’S STAY PHYSICAL

If you wonder how much a coach means to a program, witness Bob Davie at New Mexico. He pulled the Lobos out of three years of misery and changed the culture and psyche of the team in one season. ”There is only one way to play this game and that’s to be physical. A year ago we were trying to be competitive… now we are thinking about how we can win games. It’s a major, major change,” says Davie. He will be up against it in 2013, though, as 50 first and second-year players (as opposed to 28 third, fourth and fifth year players) comprise the majority of the roster. A pistol offense that improved 188 RYPG last season returns its top three rushers.

Stat You Will Like: The Lobos were the most improved team in scoring margin in 2012 (+25.2 PPG).

PLAY ON: vs. Air Force (11/8)

UTAH STATE (*8/8)
Team Theme: CLIMBING TO NEW HEIGHTS

The Aggies usher in a new coach, Matt Wells, to lead them into a new conference off a record-setting performance in 2012. The question begs: what can they do for an encore? Wells, last year’s offensive coordinator and a former starting QB at Utah State, assumes the reins from Gary Andersen who was lured to Wisconsin after leading USU to its first conference title since 1936. He welcomes a cast of 16 returning starters, 10 of whom won all-WAC honors, including record-setting QB Chuckie Keeton who was 275-of-407 for 3,373 yards, 27 TD’s and 9 INT’s in the air, in addition to picking up 619 yards and 8 TDs on the ground last season. Coming off the school’s second-ever bowl victory, there is no question that the deck is stacked. Let’s just hope the well doesn’t dry up.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies were the only team in the nation not to allow a 1st-quarter touchdown last season and have not allowed a 1st-quarter TD in the last 16 games.

PLAY ON: vs. BYU (10/4)

WYOMING (*7/7)
Team Theme: BRETT MAVERICK

Meet Brett Smith, the star performer in the cast of Cowboys this campaign. Not only does this star-studded quarterback lead all active MWC QBs in passing efficiency (157.7), he was also the nation’s 5th-ranked signal caller in points responsible for last season at 20.2 PPG. However, the offense is not the concern, the defense is: it’s regressed every year under Dave Christensen and must rely on an infusion of JUCO transfers to change direction. It’s imperative the Boys get out of the gate in strong fashion against losing foes in six of their first seven games as they close out the campaign against bowlers in four of their final five contests. Look for Smith to break out this year.

Stat You Will Like: From College Football News.com: The Cowboys scored 116 points in the 2Q – and 37 points in the 3Q last season.

PLAY ON: at Air Force (9/21)

West Division

FRESNO STATE (*7/8)
Team Theme: BABY, YOU CAN DRIVE MY CARR

Former Texas A&M DC Tim DeRuyter made an impact in his first season on the sidelines in Fresno when his Bulldogs improved their numbers substantially on both sides of the ball last year en route to 9-win, five game improvement. It tied for 6th-best increase among all FBS teams last season. Leading the charge was all-MWC QB Derek Carr, a 5th-year senior who enters the season with a .652 completion percentage to go along with 63 TD’s and only 16 INT’s in his career. His prime target, WR Davante Adams, reeled in 102 passes as a freshman in 2012, while catching TDs in each of his last 8 games of the season. A 13th bowl game in the last 15 years appears in the offing.

Stat You Will Like: FSU ranked dead-last with 9 takeaways in 2011, and 5th with 35 takeaways last season. It was the largest improvement by a FBS program since the turn of the century.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Boise State (9/20)

HAWAII (*10/8)
Team Theme: ODIOUS OFFENSE

Little did the Warriors realize when they hired novice native Norm Chow as their head coach last season that the lifelong college assistant offensive guru would direct the worst offense in the FBS. Perhaps it’s what happens when you are forced to play 32 first-time players – the most in the nation. The problem, though, may not be just the youth issues, but Chow himself. Consider: Bill Connelly of SB Nation.com reports his 2008-10 Tennessee offenses ranked 114th, 88th and 90th in his three years with the Vols. Then in 2011 his Utah offense ranked 95th. Hawaii did, however, improve down the stretch, slashing its losing margin from -42.25 PPG the first five games to -22.2 PPG the final seven games of the season. The clothespins are standing by.

Stat You Will Like: The Warriors will take on teams that appeared in bowl games in each of their first five games of the season in 2013.

PLAY ON: vs. Colorado State (10/26) - *KEY if CSU off a loss

NEVADA (*7/5)
Team Theme: RELOADING THE CHAMBER

The Godfather of the Pistol, Chris Ault, has retired for the third time in his illustrious career at Nevada. In doing so, he leaves a legacy as an offensive innovator, so innovative that when he attended the NFL combine he was flocked upon like a rock star by NFL brass looking to pick his mind. Filling his shoes is 38-year old Brian Polian, son of former NFL GM Bill Pollian and never higher than a RB coach. Polian will rely on offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, OC for the Wolf Pack last season and at Hawaii the previous nine years. He’ll hand the gun to QB Cody Fajardo who passed for 2,780 yards and 20 TDs last season while rushing for 1,121 yards and 12 TDs.

Stat You Will Like: During his three-term tenure with Nevada, the Wolf Pack went 49-65 in the 10 years without Ault.

PLAY ON: at San Diego State (10/4)

SAN DIEGO STATE (*7/9)
Team Theme: TAKING THINGS TO A NEW LEVEL

It’s safe to call San Diego State the Troy State of the west coast. After all, they are both resident red-headed step-children in their respective states and, as a result, they get the 2nd-level players. But 2nd-level is not a bad thing when you reside in the state of California, and the fact that the Aztecs have been to three straight bowl games confirms that notion. Not bad for a team that had been to just 3 bowl games in the previous four decades. Sixteen returning starters, including DB Nat Berhe and LB Jake Fely – who ranked among the top 4 players in the nation in tackles per game in 2012 – look to climb up another rung.

Stat You Will Like: San Diego State’s win over Boise State last year was its first victory over a ranked team since 1996.

PLAY ON: at San Jose State (11/9)

SAN JOSE STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: DON’T FALE ME NOW

When Mike McIntyre headed to Colorado after leading the Spartans to their highest-ever season-ending ranking (21st in the nation) last year, not only did he plant the seeds for new head coach Ron Caragher – former UCLA assistant and University of San Diego coach (44-22), and Troy Aikman’s backup with the Bruins – he also left him a wealth of experienced talent. From a squad that went from 1-12 in 2010 to 11-2 last season, San Jose State welcomes the 4th highest number of returning starts overall (317) this 2013 season. The keys to this vastly improved racecar are in the hands of QB David Fales, who had 4,193 yards and 33 TDs on 73 percent completions last year. Failure is not an option.

Stat You Will Like: The last time the Spartans enjoyed back-to-back winning seasons was 1991-92.

PLAY AGAINST: at Minnesota (9/21)

UNLV (*9/9)
Team Theme: GIMME FIVE

If you like patterns, this should be an interesting year for the Rebels. The previous coach, Mike Sanford, won two games in each of his first three seasons before capturing five victories in each of his final two years with UNLV. Similarly, Bobby Hauck has delivered two wins in each of his first three seasons with the Rebels. Could a 5-win campaign – or more – be in the offing with a deep and experienced squad in 2013? Logic says yes, considering eighteen returning starters including QB Nick Sherry, RB Tim Cornett and last year’s top two wide receivers are back from the group that lost five games by 8 or less points last year. Should they shore up an Achilles’ heel (a porous rush defense), the prototype for success could be reached in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: Leading WR Devante Davis and RB Tim Cornett, as well as TE Jacobie Russell and receivers coach Cedric Cormier, all hail from Galena Park (TX) North Shore high school.

PLAY AGAINST: at Air Force (11/21)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:23 AM

AAC Schedule Outlook

July 22, 2013

With big changes in the off-season and more on the way in the coming years, the former Big East has added several teams from Conference USA this season to fill a 10-team league, now branded the American Athletic Conference. With Louisville winning the Sugar Bowl last season, there is some credibility in the group, although this will certainly be viewed as the weakest of the six BCS automatic-qualifier conferences and a conference that has a shaky future ahead. Here is a look at the 10 teams and a glance at the key games on the schedule.

Central Florida Knights: Central Florida will be a threat in the AAC despite making the leap from Conference USA. The Knights catch a scheduling break as they do not play Cincinnati, but the defense may not hold up quite as well in a tougher overall conference and after great defensive numbers in 2010 and 2011, the unit did regress last season despite a 10-win campaign. Having to play two major conference foes in non-conference action could take a toll on the overall record, but a fourth bowl trip in the last five years seems likely.

Conference Miss: Cincinnati

Toughest Back-to-Back: While UCF gets a bye week to prepare for the biggest game of its conference season, playing a Friday night primetime game at Louisville will be a stiff challenge. Whatever the result of that big game is, the follow-up game hosting Connecticut could be a problematic flat spot.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: The Knights will play at Penn State in the third week of the season in a big early test. Last season, UCF played commendably at Ohio State in a 31-16 loss and they will be up for the opportunity.

Cincinnati Bearcats: Tommy Tuberville made a surprise jump to Cincinnati in the offseason and he inherits two experienced QBs and a veteran offensive line from a team that has gone 10-3 each of the last two years while also winning bowl games. The schedule is favorable for the Bearcats in league play, so another 10-win season is possible for a program that has flown under the radar despite double-digit wins in five of the last six seasons. Louisville will get the most attention in the AAC, but Cincinnati is certainly capable of running the table and they host the Cardinals in the finale.

Conference Miss: Central Florida

Toughest Back-to-Back: While there are a couple of tough stretches in conference play, the opportunity for Cincinnati to make a bit of noise nationally we be there to start off the season. Cincinnati hosts Purdue in the first week and then will play at Illinois in Week 2. While the Bearcats will likely be favored in both of those games, beating two Big Ten teams to start the season would help to maintain the status of this often overlooked program and provide a big early boost for Tuberville being that he is the fourth coach in 10 years at Cincinnati.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: The opener with Purdue will be huge for Cincinnati to set the tone for the season. Purdue is going through a coaching transition as well and while the Bearcats have more to lose with a loss than they have to gain with a win, it will be a big statement opportunity to set the course for the season and could spark a great season with this schedule.

Connecticut Huskies: After a pretty successful run for Randy Edsall at Connecticut, the Huskies have been kept out of the bowl picture the past two seasons under Paul Pasqualoni. Going 5-7 each of the last two seasons has meant that the Huskies have not been far off from the postseason and this is a team that has been involved with a great deal of close games the last two seasons. The defense had excellent numbers last year, but the offense has struggled since the coaching change and this will be a big season in Storrs as some positive progress should be expected.

Conference Miss: Houston

Toughest Back-to-Back: While the Huskies have a tough non-conference set with home games against Maryland and Michigan in consecutive weeks, the most important stretch will likely come in October with three big conference games in consecutive weeks. A homecoming date with South Florida follows up a bye week and opens the conference season and then big road games at Cincinnati and at Central Florida will dictate the path of the season.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: While Michigan would certainly be the biggest non-conference game on the schedule for most teams, the previous week's game with Maryland might be a bigger deal for the players as many were recruited by Maryland's coach. Connecticut beat Maryland, 24-21 last season in College Park, but it was an ugly offensive display with only 223 yards of offense.

Houston Cougars: After nearly producing a perfect season in 2011, Houston fell to 5-7 last season, including a couple of ugly embarrassing losses in the first season as a head coach for Tony Levine. After starting 0-3, Houston did show some signs of progress but ultimately had too much trouble on defense, allowing 483 yards per game. Ten starters return on offense and the Cougars could fit in well in the AAC despite coming from Conference USA. Houston has some difficult road games ahead but with a light non-conference schedule a bowl trip looks likely.

Conference Miss: Connecticut

Toughest Back-to-Back: Houston will face long travel in the AAC schedule and they have arguably the two toughest games of the season back-to-back on the road late in the year, playing at UCF and then at Louisville. The Cougars might be capable of an upset this season, but they are likely to fade in the second half of the season with a much more difficult schedule as it would not be a shock to see this team start 5-0.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: While hosting BYU will be a big game in October, the biggest game of the non-conference season will come against former conference foe Rice in a rivalry game between the Houston area schools. Playing at Reliant Stadium is a big draw for the players and Houston will have two weeks to prepare with a bye week prior to the game.

Louisville Cardinals: The Cardinals will be highly ranked and considered a candidate to go undefeated with a very light non-conference slate. This team won six games by seven points or less last season and while Teddy Bridgewater will post big numbers, running the table seems unlikely as this team has lost at home to an unranked team eight times in three years under Coach Strong. The Louisville defense has also regressed the last two seasons and there are some challenging road games ahead.

Conference Miss: SMU

Toughest Back-to-Back: As many have suggested, Louisville has a very weak schedule which has allowed many to project an undefeated season. The toughest stretch might come in late October as they host Central Florida on a Friday night primetime game and then will face a trip to Tampa to play South Florida the next week. While the Bulls are not expected to be a contender, that could be a tricky spot on the schedule after back-to-back national TV weekday games.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Playing at Kentucky will be a tough spot on the schedule due to the rivalry between the schools and the energy behind a rejuvenated Wildcats program with a chance to take out a highly ranked team. Louisville won, 32-14 last season, but the prior three meetings were all decided by seven points or less. Winning in a SEC venue won't be easy, even if it is just Kentucky.

Memphis Tigers: Memphis has one of the more experienced teams in the conference and there will be opportunities for wins this season, but the defense will need to improve after allowing over 30 points per game last season. The Tigers play a relatively weak non-conference schedule, which could provide an opportunity for a win or two and the best opportunities for wins in conference play do come at home.

Conference Miss: Rutgers

Toughest Back-to-Back: In November, Memphis will play road games at South Florida and then at Louisville in consecutive weeks. Hosting Tennessee-Martin should provide a win in early November, but those next two road games will take a toll and the Tigers will need to stay focused with winnable games in the final two contests.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Memphis does not play the opening weekend and then will host Duke in a prominent home game. At Duke last season, Memphis lost badly, outgained 500-152, so the Tigers will be looking for a much better performance and the Blue Devils could get caught looking past Memphis.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Rutgers has quietly produced back-to-back nine-win seasons, but significant player turnover could lead to a rocky 2013 season. The schedule features five tough road games and some long trips with the new make-up of the conference. Coach Kyle Flood proved himself last season with a 9-4 mark to exceed expectations and that record included three-point losses to both Virginia Tech and Louisville, so this team should not be overlooked but the Knights appear to have one of the toughest schedules in the conference.

Conference Miss: Memphis

Toughest Back-to-Back: The most difficult stretch for Rutgers could come late in the year with a back-to-back road game set starting on a Thursday night at Central Florida, just five days after a big home game with Cincinnati. To make matters worse, Rutgers will be on the road in potentially chilly weather the following week at Connecticut.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: The opener at Fresno State will certainly be a game that gets some attention, but hosting Arkansas in late September will be a huge game as well. Rutgers won at Arkansas last season as a solid underdog, incredibly posting 525 yards of offense. Even at home this time around, the Knights figure to be solid underdogs, but the opportunity to host a SEC team will be a big deal in New Brunswick.

SMU Mustangs: SMU has been a bowl team in four straight seasons, but the Mustangs have lost at least five games in each of those years, failing to break through with a great campaign. They did close last season with a stunning Hawaii Bowl win beating Fresno State, 43-10 as a double-digit underdog to take some momentum into 2013. With a brutally tough non-conference slate, an improvement in record seems unlikely, especially with the move to a tougher conference as well, even with the favorable pass on Louisville this year.

Conference Miss: Louisville

Toughest Back-to-Back: A tough back-to-back on any team's schedule would be the brutal gauntlet of facing Texas A&M and TCU in back-to-back weeks on the road and that is the task for the Mustangs in late September. Both of those teams could be highly ranked national players and it could spell a rough start to the season for SMU.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Hosting Texas Tech in the opening week of the season will be a big opportunity for SMU. The Mustangs played competitively with the Red Raiders to open the season in 2010 and with Texas Tech in a coaching transition, this is a realistic upset opportunity for the Mustangs even though this is not an overly experienced group.

South Florida Bulls: With expectations at a low point, South Florida might surprise this season, but there are a lot of key pieces to replace. After going 3-9, the Bulls should improve and Willie Taggart was a turnaround artist at Western Kentucky. The schedule does feature two very tough non-conference games and overall the home slate is very challenging.

Conference Miss: Temple

Toughest Back-to-Back: The Bulls have been a disappointing late-season team in several recent seasons and another late slide is possible. The final two games of the season will be difficult road games, playing at UCF in a Friday night primetime game and then taking a long trip north to play at Rutgers in December temperatures that should make the South Florida kids uncomfortable.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Hosting Miami in late September will be a marquee game for South Florida. Last season, USF lost, 40-9 in the matchup, but in 2011 it was just 6-3 and the Bulls beat the Hurricanes at Miami in 2010. The game falls in a spot where Miami could get caught overlooking the Bulls.

Temple Owls: Temple fell to just 4-7 last season after a couple of successful seasons in a row and another coaching change occurred with Steve Addazio leaving for Boston College. Moving from the MAC to the AAC will be a huge jump in competition for Temple and a difficult season could lie ahead even though there is some experience on the team and three of the four non-conference games look promising for wins.

Conference Miss: South Florida

Toughest Back-to-Back: Temple will play SMU and Rutgers on the road in back-to-back weeks and while those are not the toughest teams on the schedule overall it will be a tough place for a long road trip. Homecoming is the previous game for the Owls and difficult taxing games with Louisville and Cincinnati will precede that as the road game at Rutgers will be in the sixth consecutive week with a game.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: An opening game at Notre Dame will be a huge deal for the Temple players and while the Owls should be overmatched, the Irish played plenty of close games with lesser teams last season. Temple has competed well with several major conference teams in recent years and the Owls will be excited for the opportunity

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:25 AM

ACC Atlantic Schedule Outlook

July 25, 2013


Coastal Outlook

The college football season is just around the corner, the schedule is set and there are some great disparities within each conference that will impact the conference races. The ACC looks to step back into the national spotlight this season and it appears there are a few teams capable of making a great run. Here is a look at the key games ahead for each team in the ACC Atlantic division.

Boston College Eagles: After going 2-10 last season, there is nowhere to go but up, but with a new coaching staff and a difficult schedule, it will not be an easy climb for Boston College, a program that has been absent from the bowl picture in back-to-back seasons. While Boston College does play at USC, the other three non-conference games are winnable, but the Eagles have one of the toughest draws from the Coastal division and several difficult home games ahead.

Coastal Draw: North Carolina and Virginia Tech

Toughest Back-to-Back: The toughest consecutive games will be the two crossover games from the Coastal division. Boston College plays at Clemson in mid-October and then has a bye week before another long trip south to play in Chapel Hill. A home game with Virginia Tech is up next as the Eagles have a brutal mid-season schedule, playing USC, Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech in a six-game span.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: In the third week of the season, Boston College will play at USC for a game on a big national stage. The game follows up a key conference opener with Wake Forest for the Eagles, but it also follows up a conference opener for the Trojans. Boston College was 0-5 ATS as a road underdog last season, but the longer term historical track record is strong for the Eagles when getting points.

Clemson Tigers: Following up an 11-2 season won't be easy, but Clemson was 10-4 in 2011 and this is a program that looks ready to stay at an elite level at least for another year led by quarterback Tajh Boyd. With two SEC powers on the schedule, it will not be easy for the Tigers to stay in the national title hunt, but getting to host Florida State should put Clemson in a good position to get to the ACC title game and possibly end up in another BCS bowl with hopes of redeeming the embarrassing Orange Bowl showing two years ago. Clemson beat LSU in bowl action last season, so this is a team that can compete with anyone and the conference schedule is favorable.

Coastal Draw: Virginia and Georgia Tech

Toughest Back-to-Back: The mid-October game with Florida State will be the biggest of the season in the ACC, as it was last season with an entertaining 49-37 win for the Seminoles. This year, Clemson hosts the game and regardless of the result, a tricky follow-up game on the road at Maryland could be a great challenge with an up-and-coming Terrapins team that will be ready to redeem a 45-10 loss from last season.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: While the finale at South Carolina will be huge as that rivalry continues with a four-game losing streak for the Tigers, the opener with Georgia at home will set the tone for the season and determine whether or not Clemson is a player in the national picture. It is rare to see a prominent SEC team in a true road game in non-conference play and the opener will be a big statement opportunity not just for Clemson, but for the entire ACC.

Florida State Seminoles: While it was among the most successful seasons in Florida State history, last year's 12-2 record with an ACC title and an Orange Bowl championship was a bit unfulfilling. The team certainly had the talent to run the table and lost in a fluky finish at NC State to spoil things in October and then lost again against Florida late in the season in a game that was not overly meaningful in the big picture. While many prominent players have departed to the NFL, this is a Florida State squad that certainly has a shot at a perfect season with very few challenging games ahead and the toughest games in relatively favorable spots.

Coastal Draw: Pittsburgh and Miami, FL

Toughest Back-to-Back: Florida State has fairly favorable spacing between its big games, but with the emphasis on the Clemson game in mid-October, a game that Florida State has a bye week prior to, the follow up at home with NC State could be a tricky spot on the schedule. While it will be a revenge game for the Seminoles, the Wolfpack looks like a rebuilding team that could be taken lightly, especially knowing another rivalry game with Miami is up next.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Florida State plays a weak non-conference slate until the finale, playing in Gainesville against Florida. Oddly the series has been decided by double-digits in six straight seasons, but a lot could be on the line for both teams depending on how the rest of the season has shaken out. Either team would love to spoil an undefeated season or ruin a crack at a BCS bowl bid for the other.

Maryland Terrapins: While the top two teams in the Coastal division look pretty clear cut, the battle for third place could be a tight race with Maryland a strong contender despite being just 4-8 last season and winning only two conference games. Maryland does have to play Virginia Tech, potentially the top Coastal team, and the road schedule in conference play is difficult. The schedule does have many favorable home games and climbing back into the bowl picture seems attainable for this team with this slate.

Coastal Draw: Virginia and Virginia Tech

Toughest Back-to-Back: It will not be easy for Maryland to beat either Florida State or Clemson considering lopsided losses last season, but those will be big games on the schedule. The most critical back-to-back may be the two games in between those marquee games, hosting Virginia and then playing at Wake Forest. For Maryland to take a solid step forward this season to the postseason, those are games they have to win and that mid-October stretch will be the most critical part of the schedule for Coach Edsall to keep his team focused even if they fail to compete with the division contenders.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: The biggest game for Coach Edsall may be a trip back to Storrs to face his former program in Week 3. Last season, Connecticut won at Maryland, but this year, the Terrapins visit the Huskies and what could be a chilly reception for the long-time coach who left suddenly two years ago. A big game the next week with West Virginia playing at the Ravens stadium may be a bigger deal for the Maryland players, however.

NC State Wolfpack: A new coaching staff takes over in Raleigh despite three straight bowl seasons for NC State and player turnover seemingly takes a big hit with a fairly inexperienced roster this season. The schedule will provide the opportunity for NC State to stay in the bowl mix with four winnable non-conference games all at home and a relatively favorable draw from the Coastal division. This could be a surprise team that could conceivably get off to a 5-1 start with a fairly light early season schedule.

Coastal Draw: North Carolina and Duke

Toughest Back-to-Back: The toughest back-to-back set will be playing at Florida State and then hosting North Carolina for homecoming in the last two weeks of October. Those will be huge games for the players and fans. A more important set might follow that however with consecutive road games at Duke and at Boston College to open November, both are games NC State might need for a winning season, but they will need to avoid a homecoming hangover.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: There is not an overly exciting game on the non-conference map for Wolfpack fans, but the opener against a Louisiana Tech program that has been pretty successful in recent years will be a big benchmark step for the program as the first game for the coaching staff. Louisiana Tech is also going through a major transition so the opportunity for a strong showing should be there for NC State.

Syracuse Orange: Switching conferences will be a challenge for Syracuse, especially with the departure of its head coach and star quarterback. Add in a very tough first two games on the non-conference slate and a downward step after winning eight games last season seems likely. The ACC schedule also opens with three of the toughest conference games of the season in consecutive weeks and it may be a rude welcome to the ACC for the football team.

Coastal Draw: Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh

Toughest Back-to-Back: Hosting Clemson for homecoming will be a big game and the Orange will have a bye week prior to that game. The next two weeks could present the toughest stretch, however, with tricky follow-up games and long travel playing at NC State and then at Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks in mid-October. Playing at Maryland and then at Florida State in consecutive weeks in November will be a big challenge as well.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Syracuse will open the season with a marquee game with Penn State, playing at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. It will be a big game to kick off the season and a great experience for the players to play in the stadium that will host the Super Bowl this winter.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Jim Grobe is by far the longest-tenured coach in this division and while there have been several down years recently, this season may present a great opportunity for a rise in the standings. The division looks relatively weak after the top two and getting to play Duke at home in the Coastal draw is a favorable break compared with many of the alternatives. Wake Forest also will play a fairly weak non-conference schedule, although games with Louisiana-Monroe and Vanderbilt will be tougher than they might have been a few years ago.

Coastal Draw: Miami, FL and Duke

Toughest Back-to-Back: Following up homecoming, the Demon Decons will play at Miami and then at Syracuse in consecutive weeks, taking on taxing travel and two important games. Getting a split in those two games will be important for any bowl hopes and with Florida State on the schedule next, it will be critical to avoid a long losing streak that could take the emotional edge off the team late in the season.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: While playing at Army will be a big game for the team and a unique experience for the players, the finale at Vanderbilt could be a critical game for both teams. Both squads project to be on the edge of bowl eligibility this season and it may be a critical game to get that sixth win for the Demon Deacons. After losing 41-7 and 55-21 the past two years, there also should be a desire for a better showing this season vs. the SEC squad.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:27 AM

2013 Independents Preview

July 7, 2013

With conference expansion maddeningly filling the college football airways these days, you might be surprised to learn the one loop that has grown the most the past three years is none other than the Independents.

When BYU declared its independence and joined Army, Navy and Notre Dame to form the FBS Independent ‘fighting four’ in 2011, the contingent is now up to a ‘skirmishing six’ with the additions of Idaho and New Mexico State this season.

By our math, that’s a 50% increase of members in two years.

And like last year when a member of the ‘fighting four’ had a say in college football’s title picture (the Irish fell to Alabama in the championship game), expect more of the same this year when these six Indy’s take a total of 40 opponents that landed bowl bids last season, with Notre Dame leading the charge against a whopping 11 bowlers.

Keep this thought in mind when handicapping the chances of these six INDEPENDENTS this season: Collectively, under their current head coaches, this contingent shines in games when taking points, going 56-44-1 ATS combined, including 19-8 ATS against foes off a SU and ATS loss, and 9-3 ATS as underdogs against an opponent with a losing record (8 wins straight up).

Then again, on the opposite side of the ladder, this sextet combined to go just 4-14 ATS as home chalk last season.

Regardless of how you approach handicapping this contingent this season, don’t be influenced by stories and promises from other parties. Stand your ground and remain Independent, if you know what I mean…

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

ARMY (7/8)
Team Theme: HIGH ON A FEELING

Loaded with 60 returning lettermen from a team that improved its offensive numbers nearly 40 YPG last season, head coach Rich Ellerson is high on his Black Knights. After assessing his team in spring camp, Ellerson gushed, “I’m really pleased with the progress we made. It was very combative… We made some tremendous gains physically.” The top rushing team in the land the last two years, Army returns leading RB Raymond Maples, the 3rd running back in school history to run for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons last year, and FB Larry Dixon who pounded the ground for 839 yards in 2012. Now if they can just improve on a 2-18 SU mark against fellow service academies since 2003, morale will be sky-high at West Point.

Stat You Will Like: Army has won 6 Commander-In-Chief trophies, the last in 1996.

PLAY ON: vs. Navy (12/14)

BYU (8/6)
Team Theme: BRONCO RESTORATION

Hired on after the Cougars suffered through three consecutive losing seasons back in 2005, Bronco Mendenhall not only put the program back on a winning track but has also elevated it to all-time high levels (see ‘Stat You Will Like’ below). As a result of winning an average 9.25 games per season, Mendenhall fields one of only four teams in the land to win four bowl games the last four years. Not satisfied, he brings in five new offensive coaches this season, including former OC Robert Anae. Should the offensive unit improve like the defense did last season (No. 3 in the nation), the 20 seniors on this squad figure to go out winners again as the restoration process at the ‘Y’ continues.

Stat You Will Like: Bronco Mendenhall owns the highest win percentage (.718) of any football coach in BYU history.

PLAY ON: vs. Utah (9/21)

IDAHO (7/4)
Team Theme: COMING HOME

When Idaho hired Paul Petrino, it appeared to be an odd fit. Why would a high-profile coach who’s been the master architect (offensive coordinator) of major powerhouses at Arkansas, Illinois and Louisville move to Moscow to make his head-coaching debut? It turns out that Petrino was an assistant with Idaho from 1992-94 and loves the area. Born and raised in Butte, Montana, he’s at home in Vandal country. Unfortunately, he inherits the nation’s worst offense, a team that averaged just 15.8 PPG in 2012. That doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm, however. “We want to score a whole bunch of points, be explosive on offense and hit that quarterback on defense. We want to win a whole bunch of games and go to bowls.” However, with little talent on hand, Petrino will likely have to ‘want on’ in his first season.

Stat You Will Like: The Vandals are 3-13 ATS as home favorites, including 1-11 ATS off a loss.

PLAY AGAINST: at New Mexico State (11/30)

NAVY (*6/7)
Team Theme: IN THE NAVY, NOW

Long the laughingstock of the military academies, the Middies have made a u-turn of dramatic proportions since going 3-30 from 2000-02. That’s confirmed by an 83-45 mark the last 10 years – and their 19-2 record in games against other military schools over the same period has turned the laughs into wows. Last year, QB Keenan Reynolds became the first freshman to start behind center for the Middies since 1991. With Reynolds at the controls, the Swabbies’ 5 losses in 2012 came at the hands of foes that were 44-19 on the season. For a team that was ranked No. 2 last year and No. 1 in 2011 in fewest penalties per game, Navy has suddenly become a now-team.

Stat You Will Like: Navy’s 19 wins versus BCS schools since 2003 is the most in the nation by a non-BCS team.

PLAY ON: at Duke (10/12)

NEW MEXICO STATE (7/7)
Team Theme: MY FAVORITE MARTIN

Thank goodness for Georgia State. Were it not for the Panthers making their FBS debut this season, the Aggies would be, hands-down, the dregs of college football. And with the announcement that redshirt junior QB Andrew Manley has been granted a release to transfer, they still might be. While he may not own up to it, Manley started all 12 games last season, throwing for 2,764 yards and 18 TDs. The good news is the entire starting cast of OL returns. The bad news is that the entire starting cast of OL returns. New head coach Doug Martin, a former 7-year head coach at Kent State, was the OC at Boston College last year and OC here with New Mexico State in 2011. Note: those two teams finished 47th and 26th in passing offense under his lead.

Stat You Will Like: The Aggies are 0-9-1 ATS as home favorites of less than 9 points.

PASS

NOTRE DAME (5/8)
Team Theme: 4-LEAF CLOBBER

Brian Kelly was in select company last season when he became the 5th coach in Irish history with a chance to win the national championship in his third-year at the school. Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz each accomplished the feat. Kelly did not. The luck of the Irish – half of the Dame’s 12 wins were by single-digit margins – ran out when they were battered from pillar-to-post in a 42-14 annihilation at the hands of Alabama in the BCS title game. A brutal schedule in 2013 finds them taking on 11 teams that went to bowl games last season. Complicating matters is the suspension of starting QB Everett Golson for academic reasons. Senior QB Tommy Rees with 18 career starts under his belt looks to fill Golson's shoes provided, of course, the school assigns him a designated driver.

Stat You Will Like: The last 10 teams to lose a BCS title game have not returned to win it since that loss.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Michigan (9/7)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24827 Followers:33
08/02/2013 10:30 AM

2013 MAC Preview

July 14, 2013

It's been said the MAC has enjoyed balanced divisions for the same amount of time the cast of Jersey Shore has been sober...about 2 months.

With Temple making like an In-and-Out burger, opting out of the MAC for the Big East/American Athletic Conference after being admitted in back in 2007, the conference remains in flux. (At least a $6 million buyout fee paid by the Owls softened the blow.)

Unfortunately, UMass' admission last year now leaves the loop an unbalanced, unlucky 13-team league. Thus, in the battlefield of conference shuffling and expansion gone wild, Temple is old news, and Massachusetts a breathe of fresh air, in the 2013 Mid American Conference.

Entering its 67th year of gridiron competition, the MAC this season at least feels better composed knowing that four teams from the West Division finished the 2012 season with a winning record. That after only five teams managed to accomplish the same the previous three years.

And while it can be said that only three players from the MAC were selected in this year's NFL draft, you've got bragging rights for at least a year when you lay claim to the No. 1 overall pick (Central Michigan's Eric Fisher) calling the Mid American Conference home.

As we reported last year in this conference review, this is definitely a league that is wide open and one that likes to mix things up. Ten different teams have appeared in the last eight MAC Championship games, while 19 different MAC schools (seven last season) have gone bowling the last ten years.

And speaking of bowls, keep this note handy once the bowl games roll around: after going 3-13 SU and 2-13-1 ATS in bowl games from since the 2008 calendar year, the MAC has rebounded going 6-6 SU and 5-7 ATS as bowlers the last two seasons.

Amazingly, when traveling as favorites on the non-conference road the lightweight MAC is a staunch 16-2 SU and 12-5-1 ATS laying points, including 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS when coming off a conference game.

All of which bodes well for an ever-changing league that's simply looking to balance the books. Because once you go MAC, you never go back.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

East Division

AKRON (7/7)
Team Theme: CHEMO THERAPY

When the Zips hired Terry Bowden as their new savior last season, they realized he was a program-builder and that in his previous three stops as a collegiate head coach his teams had posted records of 9-1, 11-0 and 11-2 in his first year on the job at Samford, Auburn and Northern Alabama, respectively. Thus, last season's 1-11 debut was as well-received as a preliminary diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. And to make matters worse, a quick glance at this year's schedule (10 winning opponents, first 7 games versus bowl teams, all 6 home games versus the same) is practically a death knell. The loss of QB Dalton Williams (started all 12 games last year, passing for 3,387 yards and 25 TDs) and his top WR, Marquelo Suel, cements it.

Stat You Will Like: Bowden is 1-11 SU and 2-10 ATS as a home dog.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Ball State (10/26)

BOWLING GREEN (*9/9)
Team Theme: HERE WE COME AGAIN

Thanks to yet another underclassmen-led infusion, for the second-straight year the Falcons return 18 starters to a squad picked by many as the team to beat in the MAC this season. This year's crew features 9 senior starters back - five on the offense and four on the defense - including no less than 7 all MAC performers. High profile QB Matt Schilz (35 starts, 7,832 passing yards and 50 TDs) leads the attack, along with all three of last year's starting wide receivers and his tight end. Most impressive, though, are the 9 starters back from a defense that improved 109 YPG in 2012. All this for a team that closed out the regular season last year with wins in seven of its final eight games.

Stat You Will Like: The last time the Falcons won a conference championship was 1992.

PLAY ON: at Kent State (9/7)

BUFFALO (*9/8)
Team Theme: COME ALL WITHOUT, COME ALL WITHIN

Year Four of the mighty Quinn project finds Buffalo taking positive baby steps under HC Jeff Quinn. The hope this season is the return of 17 starters, including a two-headed quarterback (Joe Licata and Alex Zordich) and its leading wide receiver and running back, will carry Buffalo on through to its first winning campaign since Turner Gill roamed the sidelines in 2008. The addition of former Illinois head coach Lou Tepper as defensive coordinator paid immediate dividends last season, especially the 2nd half of the season when the Bulls surrendered just 326 YPG. A tough schedule finds them taking on seven winning teams in 2013. That could prove difficult, as our stat below indicates.

Stat You Will Like: The Bulls are 2-17 SU versus .500 or greater foes under Jeff Quinn.

PLAY ON: vs. Ohio U (11/5)

KENT STATE (6/6)
Team Theme: HAZELL NUTS

Darrell Hazell's two-year stint with Kent went by in a flash (pun intended). After a pair of 5-7 seasons, Hazell was recruited from the Ohio State staff and, after another 5-7 season in his first year as a FBS head coach, he led the Golden gang to its first-ever MAC title game and a winning season for the first time 2001, coming this-close to landing a rarified BCS bowl bid. The result was a six-win improvement, tied with Middle Tennessee and Ohio State as the most improved teams in the nation in 2012. As expected, Hazell was lured to a prime-time job (Purdue), leaving KSU after just its 2nd winning season since 1987. Former Arkansas DC Paul Haynes enters looking to pick up the pieces. Good luck.

Stat You Will Like: The Flashes were the first MAC East team to go 8-0 since Ben Roethlisberger's Miami Ohio team in 2003.

PLAY AGAINST: at Ball State (10/12) - *KEY if off win

MIAMI OHIO (8/6)
Team Theme: TREADING WATER

Consistency seems to be the operative word in Oxford these days where the RedHawks have parsed together a pair of 4-8 efforts under 3rd-year head coach Don Treadwell. The promising news is the offense has improved each season under his tenure. Unfortunately, the defense has not, going backward both seasons - including a whopping 104 YPG decline in 2012. The biggest loss of 2013, though, is the departure of star QB Zac Dysert who broke Ben Roethlisberger's record for passing yards, completions and TDs. In his stead is QB Austin Boucher who led Miami to four straight wins, including the MAC title game and a GoDaddy.com bowl victory in 2010. Sophomore RB Jamire Westbrook, the team's leading rusher as a freshman last year, keeps them afloat.

Stat You Will Like: The RedHawks are 1-10 SU versus .500 or greater opponents under Treadwell.

PLAY AGAINST: at Ohio U (10/26)

OHIO UNIVERSITY (*7/5)
Team Theme: WAR OF ATTRITION

Talk about being on a roll. Frank Solich's squad was sitting pretty - off to a 7-0 start with wins in thirteen of its last fourteen games - when the injury bug laid a deadly bite on the Bobcats. So severe, in fact, it claimed 15 players from the two-deep roster, resulting in a disappointing 2-4 finish to what had 'best-season-ever' written all over it. They healed up enough to lay a whipping on La-Monroe in the Independence Bowl, picking up their spirits in the offseason. As a result, the coaching staff held out 29 players from the spring game either because of injuries or simply to avoid an injury, including record-setting QB Tyler Tettleton (2,844 yards and 18 TDs). If the bug bypasses them at all this year, they become the team to beat in the MAC.

Stat You Will Like: Solich is 5-0 ATS at home off a SU underdog win in his college football head-coaching career.

PASS

UMASS (*4/7)
Team Theme: WAIT A MINUTE

"I don't look at UMass as being Massachusetts' football team," head coach Charley Molnar said at his introductory news conference in December 2011. "I look at UMass as being New England's football team. There's no reason why we can't be the No. 1 team in New England." Excuse us, Charlie… enthusiasm over a new job is one thing - veracity is another. The Minutemen were 1-11 in Molnar's UMass debut last year, while being outyarded 183 YPG against a sea of relative lightweights, so there is obviously room for growth. Rest assured, this 1st-year FBS program, with only one loss by single-digits and a 0-4 mark in non-conference games by a combined 194-26, is a long way from being top gun in the state of Massachusetts - let alone New England.

Stat You Will Like: UMass is 1-22 SU against FBS teams since 1988 with seven of the losses versus MAC teams last season.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Akron (11/16) - *KEY if favored

West Division

BALL STATE (*7/6)
Team Theme: ANYTHING, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

The slogan above appears atop the 2013 Ball State spring prospectus and it represents the infectious style of play the Cardinals have assumed under head coach Pete Lembo. The nine wins they recorded last season tied for the third-most in single season school history. Most importantly, Lembo loves the progress in senior QB Keith Wenning, who has added durability in the weight room while improving his quickness and core strength considerably the last two years. Wenning is only the second quarterback to throw for more than 7,000 yards in school history, and his team was sixth in the nation in first downs (27.9 per game) in 2012. The Cardinals' four losses last year came at the hands of teams that finished the season 43-9.

Stat You Will Like: Lembo has suffered only one losing season (5-6) in his 12 years as a collegiate head coach.

PLAY ON: at Northern Illinois (11/13)

CENTRAL MICHIGAN (8/7)
Team Theme: CHIPPIN' AWAY

Once again the Chippewas proved that teams that play youngsters two years in a row are on the way up. After 19 players in 2010 and 24 more in 2011 made their starting debuts, CMU's seven wins last year more than doubled head coach Dan Enos' total victories from his first two years combined. While that attack loses QB Ryan Radcliffe and Eric Fisher (the first pick in this year's draft), RB Zurlon Tipton (1,531 yards and 19 TDs) and a strong receiver corps, led by WR Titus Davis, return. "Titus Davis is a very special football player… he will have an opportunity to play on Sundays. He is as good as they come," said wide receivers coach Mose Rison.

Stat You Will Like: The Chippewas are 0-6 ATS as conference dogs of less than 7 points under Dan Enos.

PASS

EASTERN MICHIGAN (*7/5)
Team Theme: IN PLAIN ENGLISH

With just 10 wins in his four seasons in Ypsilanti, Ron English fully realizes his Eagles need to take flight soon in order to save his job. Granted, a two-victory effort last year came against a salty schedule as nine foes went on to bowl games. Nine more winning foes dot this year's roster as well, providing English with a greater sense of urgency. As a result, he will assume defensive coordinator duties in 2013, joining seven other FBS head coaches that will share coordinator roles this season, including two of whom - Rocky Long, San Diego State and Bronco Mendenhall, BYU - that will be barking out defensive plays. New OC Stan Parrish takes over the offense. Here's hoping seven road games, including five winning foes, do signal the end of this English class.

Stat You Will Like: 16 of EMU's 48 games under English have been decided by 7 or less points (Eagles 6-10 in those games).

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Western Michigan (11/9)

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (*8/5)
Team Theme: TOP DOGS AT THE WIRE

Meet the winningest program in Illinois and in the MAC over the last decade. As a result, the Huskies became the first-ever MAC team to secure a bid in a BCS bowl game last season. In fact, 34 wins over the last three seasons is only two shy of Oregon's best of 36. Because of all the success, head coach Dave Doeren was lured away to NC State. Assuming the reins as head Husky is Rod Carey, last year's offensive coordinator. He welcomes back Heisman-candidate QB Jordan Lynch and his entire cast of offensive linemen. And if excitement is your thing, you have to love the fact that NIU won the last two MAC championships on the last play of the game. Whew!

Stat You Will Like: The Huskies own the nation's longest conference win streak (17 games) entering the 2013 season.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Iowa (8/31)

TOLEDO (*9/3)
Team Theme: PREPARING FOR LIFTOFF

When the senior class took the field three years ago, they did so on the heels of three straight losing seasons at Toledo. They enter the 2013 campaign 26-13, including 20-4 in the MAC, with three straight bowl seasons. But they're not finished according to head coach Matt Campbell. "We want to win the MAC West Division, win the MAC Championship Game, and go to a bowl game," insists Campbell. And behind an offense loaded with FIVE all-MAC performers, including the nation's leading rusher David Fluellen (1,498 yards and 12 TDs) and senior QB Terrance Owens (17 career starts with 2,707 yards last season), who split duties the last three years with Austin Dantin, it appears all systems are go this year.

Stat You Will Like: The Rockets' defense features six players with 30 or more tackles last season.

PLAY ON: at Ball State (9/28)

WESTERN MICHIGAN (*5/7)
Team Theme: GOLD FLECKS ON THE SURFACE

New 32-year old Broncos head coach P.J. Fleck is the youngest FBS head coach in the nation and another of the MAC's youth-tree of coaches, joining five others in this loop that are 44 years old or younger. Fleck, a former wide receiver at Northern Illinois and an assistant with the Tampa Bay Bucs last year, was recently named "Best New Hire of 2013" by Sports Illustrated. He has coached under Jim Tressel, Jerry Kill and Greg Schiano and brings in OC Kirk Ciarroca and DC Ed Pinkham (friends and former coordinators at Rutgers) to smooth out the transition. They will rely heavily on QB Tyler Van Tubbergen, who started the last six games of 2012 and threw for 5 TD's twice. In addition, diminutive RB Dareyon Chance returns after rushing for 947 yards last season.

Stat You Will Like: QB Van Tubbergen completed 19 of 21 passes for 252 yards and 6 TDs in his first start against Akron in 2011.

PLAY AGAINST: at UMass (10/27)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: