cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/02/2014 12:30 PM

2014 C-USA Preview

July 1, 2014

2014 Conference USA Football Preview

Bowling For Dollars

C-USA matched its record by sending six teams to bowl games in 2013. The league finished 3-3 in bowls, giving the league an 11-5 mark the past three seasons in postseason play.

2013 also marked the first time in C-USA history that eight teams won six or more games in one season.

Globetrotters

Speaking of non-conference play, stepping outside the conference, members will play 17 regular season games against foes from the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the SEC.

In head-to-head games against these three super conferences, the CUSA stands 46-219 SU and 116-142-5 ATS since the inception the conference, including a super-scary 2-123 SU and 41-87-2 ATS in games in which they fail to score 17 points.

Against all other non-conference foes the loop stands 365-350 SU overall.

West Is Best

The C-USA East versus West division results had crisscrossed results every year in conference play from 2005 thru 2009.

That has changed of late as the West Division has dominated the East each of the past three seasons, going 10-5 in 2013, 10-9 in 2012 and 11-8 in 2011.

Turnover Forcing Machines

C-USA produced three of the top five teams in the FBS in forcing turnovers in 2013 with Tulane, North Texas and Middle Tennessee State finishing tied for 2nd, 4th and tied for 5th respectively.

Only the Houston Cougars forced more turnovers than did the Green Wave.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

East Division

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Offense – *6/2 Defense – 6/2)

TEAM THEME: THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY
Charlie Partridge, who spent the last six years as a defensive line assistant for Bret Bielema, takes over as head coach at FAU after following Bielema from Wisconsin to Arkansas for the 2013 season. After Carl Pelini’s career went up in smoke (pun intended) amid illegal drug accusations, OC Bryan Wright assumed the interim HC position and won the last four games of the season. Wright was wisely retained as the OC in hopes of maintaining team camaraderie. QB Jaquez Johnson returns after showing continued improvement throughout the tumultuous season, and with his double-threat athleticism, the Owls can only continue to get better.

Stat You Will Like: The Owls were the nation's 3rd ranked team in pass efficiency defense last season.

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (Offense – *9/5 Defense – 7/2)

TEAM THEME: THOSE WERE THE DAYS
Roll the clock back to 2011. An 8-5 season by the Panthers was capped by a 2nd straight bowl appearance and Mario Cristobal was being hailed as the next Joe Paterno. Life was good. And then it all came apart. Cristobal was canned a year later, the Paterno-Sandusky sex scandal rocked the football world, and subsequently the Panthers were back where they began – in the toilet. The biggest flush occurred when they gained 30 total yards against Louisville. Second-year coach Ron Turner likely relishes a record eight home games in 2014. Hey, behind a 2-0 start (Bethune-Cookman and Wagner), it could be time for another ‘All in The Family’ re-run.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The 2014 roster features 30 players that made a combined 202 starts in 2013 and 229 in their careers.

MARSHALL (Offense – *6/3 Defense – 8/2)

TEAM THEME: HERD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
QB Rakeem Cato returns for his senior season after having been named C-USA Offensive Player of the Year last season and C-USA MVP in 2012. His go-to target, WR Tommy Shuler is one of only eight players in major college football history with two 100-catch seasons (no player has had three). The best news for head coach Doc Holliday, though, was an improvement by 20.2 points in scoring defense, and 88.1 yards per game in total defense, from 2012 to 2013. Expect a dynamite secondary this year as five of the top six DB’s are back. You read it here: A 13-0 season is not out of the realm of possibility this year.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Cato has thrown at least one TD pass in 32 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the nation.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Offense – 5/2 Defense – 8/2)

TEAM THEME: NOT STANDING STILL
Rick Stockstill, a former QB for the FSU Seminoles, enters his 9th season after guiding the Blue Raiders back to a bowl game last season for the 3rd time in the last five years when, after a sluggish 3-4 start, they rallied to a 5-0 finish. With the departure of QB Logan Kilgore, though, Stockstill will choose a signal-caller from a group of three athletic underclassmen, including his son Brent, a freshman this year. He also lost his top two WR’s and four offensive linemen. Through it all, Stockstill recruited eight JUCO transfers to help fill the holes. Always well schooled, the Blue Man Group finished No. 3 in the nation in fumble recoveries in 2013.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The 2012-13 Blue Raiders team became the first MTSU squad in 21 years to win eight games in back-to-back seasons.

OLD DOMINION (Offense – *7/3 Defense – 9/3)

TEAM THEME: NEW DOMINION
Excitement abounds in Norfolk as the Monarchs make the official jump into FBS waters. Much like Larry Coker at UTSA, HC Bobby Wilder has been with the program since its inception, building the team from the ground up. Wilder has led ODU to a 46-14 record in five years while winning the CAA Championship in 2012. QB Taylor Heinicke and his two primary targets, WR's Larry Pinkard and Antonio Vaughan, are legitimate All-American Candidates. The 2014 ODU squad also features four WR's who caught 40 or more passes last season. The C-USA home opener against MTSU is the Monarchs’ first-ever Friday night game and will be nationally televised. Be there.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: QB Heinicke returns as the FBS active career leader in passing yards, passing YPG, TD passes, completion percentage and total offense.

UAB (Offense – 7/3 Defense – 8/2)

TEAM THEME: BLAZING SADDLES
With only three wins the last two seasons versus FBS foes, the Blazers are changing saddles in 2014, bringing Bill Clark in for Garrick McGee. Clark’s Jacksonville State squad enjoyed a record-breaking season last year as they won two games in the FCS playoffs. Clark will rely heavily on SO RB Jordan Howard who rushed for 881 yards on 6.1 YPR last season, the 2nd best mark of all freshmen in the nation. In addition, PK Ty Long finds himself on the Groza Award watch list this season. The stop-unit will need to do a better job, though, as UAB allowed the most red zone TD’s (47) in the nation last season.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Blazers are 2-27 SU and 8-21 ATS in the last 29 games in which they’ve been outgained.

WESTERN KENTUCKY (Offense – *9/4 Defense – 4/3)

TEAM THEME: CARDINAL CONNECTION
With Bobby Petrino going back to Louisville for a second go-round, the Hilltoppers turned their eyes to another ex-Cardinal to replace him. Jeff Brohm quarterbacked Louisville in the early 90’s, then spent time with five different teams in the NFL. He was elevated from the OC position he held last year with WKU, and will look to improve on a solid 8-4 season with the return of QB Brandon Doughty (65.8% completions) and all but two starters on his unit that set a school record for total offense (459.6 YPG). However, the defense is a different story as the entire linebacking corps, and three of the four members of the secondary, will need to be replaced.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Not one of Western Kentucky’s opponents this season is projected to be ranked among the nation’s top 50 teams.

West Division

LOUISIANA TECH (Offense – *6/1 Defense – 7/1)

TEAM THEME: SKIP BACKWARDS
Three seasons under HC Sonny Dykes and his prolific offense created plenty of excitement in Ruston, but after he abruptly left for Cal before last season, the program was in shambles. The result was a five-game digression to 4-8 in the first season under Skip Holtz, and things won’t be easily turned around anytime soon. Holtz also lost three defensive assistant coaches and replaced them with new DC Manny Diaz and two of Diaz’s former Texas cohorts. Diaz was fired last season after one bad game, and was essentially the scapegoat for Mack Brown, whose fanny was getting torched at the time. Skippy needs to stop the free fall, pronto.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Skip Holtz is 3-17 SU and 5-15 ATS in his last 20 games versus .500 or better teams.

NORTH TEXAS (Offense – 5/4 Defense – 4/0)

TEAM THEME: BACK TO REALITY
It all came together for Dan McCarney’s squad last season. The Mean Green’s 36-14 win over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl gave North Texas a final record of 9-4, its highest total since 2002 and tied for second-most in school history. In addition, they were the 2nd ranked team in the nation in red zone defense and No. 4 in turnovers gained (+34). And for the second year in a row, the offensive line ranked in the Top 10 in the nation for fewest sacks allowed. The good news is four of the starting offensive linemen return. The bad news is only five other starters overall are back. Yes, it was nice while it lasted.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: After going 1-16 the three previous seasons, North Texas is 12-5 at Apogee Stadium under McCarney.

RICE (Offense – 6/3 Defense – 6/2)

TEAM THEME: WE WERE THE CHAMPIONS
The Owls enter off a C-USA Championship in 2013, the first outright league title for the program since 1957. Rice also made back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1960-61, and matched a school record with 10 victories while producing a league-high 10 all-conference players. What do they do for an encore? After winning 15 of their last 19 games – and upon the departure of QB Taylor McHargue – the Owls turn to QB Driphus Jackson who defeated Air Force in the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl. It’s good news that the top two receivers return, and RB Charles Ross is explosive. Still, a treacherous September awaits the former champs.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Owls have not had three winning seasons in a row since 1948-50.

SOUTHERN MISS (Offense – *8/4 Defense – 8/3)

TEAM THEME: HUNKER DOWN, WE WILL PREVAIL
Sloppy play was their Achilles heel as the Eagles led the land in turnovers lost (38) last year. That’s to be expected when a 1st-year coach is forced to play 14 freshmen and sophomores among his 22 starters. Building for the future (read: this year), FR QB Nick Mullens threw a school record-tying five touchdown passes (and ran for another) while tossing for 370 yards in last year’s season finale, a 25-point win at UAB as 15-point underdogs. Along with their top two receivers, the Golden Eagles return two key players on defense who were lost for the season early on last year. Don’t look now but a sense of normalcy may finally be returning to Hattiesburg.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Golden Eagles started eight true freshmen last season.

UTEP (Offense – *8/3 Defense – 7/1)

TEAM THEME: DATA MINING
Sean Kugler’s first year in El Paso was a mixed bag. The defense was awful early on and the offense was late arriving, never a good formula when designing a winning game plan. QB Jameill Showers (a Texas A&M transfer) tossed for 15 TD’s and only 4 INT’s in seven games last season before going down with a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, RB Aaron Jones rushed for 811 yards on 155 caries in nine games as a freshman, and cohort RB Nathan Jeffrey chipped in with 532 rushing yards. After fighting through inexperience, health and depth issues last year, things figure to only get better for the Miners in 2014.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Miners are 4-38 SU and 9-32 ATS in the last 42 games in which they have been outgained in the stats.

UTSA (Offense – 9/5 Defense – 10/4)

TEAM THEME: LARRY THE ABLE GUY
Larry Coker has done a phenomenal job at UTSA since being hired in 2009 to build the Roadrunner program from scratch. His 15-9 record in the program’s two years of FBS play is impressive. What really has fans excited, though, are the 38 seniors who will dot the roster. That, along with 55 returning lettermen – including the entire offensive line plus all five backups – finds this squad firmly entrenched as the team to beat in the C-USA West division. Despite the loss of QB Eric Soza, this team is special, loaded with chemistry and experienced players that will provide leadership and familiarity. In the end, Coker should finally get the recognition he deserves.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Coker is 10-1-1 ATS in his career as a dog versus greater-than .750 opponents.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/07/2014 01:56 PM

Armadillo: Monday's six-pack

Six least experienced offensive lines, heading into 2014 college football......

6) Air Force, (25 returning starts)-- Service academies generally fall near here.

5) Louisiana Tech 24-- Also have new QB, a transfer from Iowa.

4) San Jose State 23-- Over last decade, Spartans are 9-3 as road favorites.

3) Ohio State 21-- Senior QB in Miller; top three RBs are gone.

2) Penn State 20-- Franklin was OC at K-State during Ron Prince era.

1) Tennessee 6-- Senior QB, top five receivers are back.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/07/2014 02:08 PM

2014 Independents Preview

July 7, 2014

2014 Independents Football Preview

It Was Nice Knowing You

After a brief one-year romance as Independents, Idaho and New Mexico State have shaken their Independent status and headed out for the sun… the Sun Belt Conference, that is.

That leaves just four Independent teams for the 2014 campaign – Army, BYU, Navy and Notre Dame. But you had better take a picture - quick - as the ever-changing landscape of college football is forever evolving.

BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall is now making a case for the Cougars' inclusion into the Big 12.

"We would love to be in the Big 12," Mendenhall told an Austin newspaper. "I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense." Mendenhall said if the Big 12 is interested in expanding, BYU would have lots to offer.

"Our attendance is high enough. And our winning percentage is high enough," Mendenhall told the newspaper. "We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the church. There'd be a ton to offer the Big 12 because it's a money-generated world right now. You're talking about an amazing kind of brand."

It makes so much sense it will likely never happen. Out best guess: say hello, PAC 12.

Self-Sufficient Dogs

Keep this thought in mind when handicapping the chances of three of these four INDEPENDENTS this season - Notre Dame, BYU and Navy: Collectively, under their current head coaches, namely the trio of Brian Kelly, Bronco Mendenhall and Ken Niumatalolo, shine in games when taking points with their current affiliations, going 52-31-1 ATS combined.

Better yet, the triplets are 35-11-1 ATS collectively as 'dogs in games in which their clubs own a win percentage of less than .666 on the season – including a jaw-dropping 27-2 ATS from Game Five out.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

ARMY (Offense - *9/3 Defense - 7/4)

TEAM THEME: YOU’E IN THE ARMY NOW
Jeff Monken, a triple-option disciple of Georgia Tech HC Paul Johnson whom he served under at both Tech and Navy before taking over at Georgia Southern, was named the new HC at Army on Christmas Eve. Hopefully, it will be a holiday gift for Army fans, who saw little-to-no progress in five seasons under Rich Ellerson. In his four years at the helm with the Eagles, Monken compiled an impressive 38-16 mark and took GSU to three straight semi-final appearances in the FCS playoffs. He will continue the option attack at Army along with his OC Brent Davis, who accompanies him to West Point, as nine starters return on the offensive side of the football.

Stat You Will Like: The Cadets are 3-23 SU and 6-20 ATS with rest vs. Air Force and Navy.

BYU (Offense - *8/5 Defense - 6/1)

TEAM THEME: WHITE BRONCO ON THE LOOSE
When Bronco Mendenhall took over at BYU in 2005 following three consecutive losing years, much was expected thanks to the strong tradition of the football program. Mendenhall has fulfilled those expectations by averaging 9.1 wins over the past nine years, taking the Cougars to a bowl game every season. He welcomes back exciting QB Taysom Hill, who accounted for 29 TD’s (19 passing and 10 rushing) while throwing for 2,938 yards and rushing for 1,344. The starting offensive line returns intact along with five other backups that saw a great deal of action, including several starts. Yes, Bronco’s on the loose again.

Stat You Will Like: The Cougars' 353 victories the past four decades trails only Nebraska, Oklahoma and Ohio State.

NAVY (Offense - *8/5 Defense - 7/2)

TEAM THEME: FULL SPEED AHEAD
After winning the Commander-in-Chief trophy for the ninth time in 11 years, Coach Ken Niumatalolo welcomes back 15 starters, including star QB Keenan Reynolds (15-6 as a starter). As might be expected from a disciplined military team, Navy led the nation in fewest penalties and penalty YPG (21.7), and finished tied with Louisville for the top spot in fewest turnovers (10). It all goes hand-in-hand with the Middies’ resurgence of late: after going 3-30 from 2000-02, they are 92-49 since – including 21-2 versus fellow military foes. And with it, Navy’s 21 wins versus BCS schools since 2003 are the most in the nation by a non-BCS team.

Stat You Will Like: Only Navy and Michigan have produced a Heisman Trophy winner, a Naismith winner and a President of the United States.

NOTRE DAME (Offense - 5/3 Defense - 5/1)

TEAM THEME: GANG GREEN
A tradition of success is the rule at Notre Dame: the Fighting Irish own the highest winning percentage (.733) in college football history. Brian Kelly will try to improve on that in 2014 with a team stripped of its star power. Kelly had won 10 straight games that were decided by 7 points or less since arriving in South Bend, a streak that was snapped last November by 7-point losses to Pitt and Stanford. The pain of rebuilding is eased somewhat by the return of QB Everett Golston, the 2012 starter who missed all of last season due to academic suspension. The defense lost two of its stars up front, Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt, plus three senior linebackers.

Stat You Will Like: Kelly is 20-5-1 ATS as a dog versus sub .900 opponents.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/16/2014 02:35 AM

Top 20 QB Changes

July 15, 2014

The college football season is right around the corner and if you glance at the future odds to win this year’s College Football Playoff, you’ll see that the majority of contenders have one key factor in common, experience at the quarterback position.

A perfect example of this is Florida State, who is the oddsmakers top betting choice. The Seminoles will have Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston under center for another season. Winston also proves the notion that experience doesn’t matter since he was a newbie to the college game last season.

This fall, I’ve highlighted 20 schools that will be facing key quarterback changes and we very well could see one of the fresh faces win a title.

1) Alabama -- Jacob Coker replaces A.J. McCarron. Coker transferred to 'Bama after sitting behind E.J. Manuel and Jameis Winston at FSU. He has great size and moves well in the pocket, but he's only seen playing time in mop-up duty. Coker didn't arrive in Tuscaloosa until May, so he hasn't had much time to create chemistry with his teammates. But Coker doesn't have to be great. He's got an arsenal of weapons and just needs to limit his mistakes.

2) Georgia - Hutson Mason replaces Aaron Murray. Mason made a pair of starts after Murray tore his ACL late last season. The fifth-year senior sparked the Bulldogs to a comeback win at Ga. Tech after they trailed by 13 points at intermission. Mason looked sharp in the spring and has the confidence of Mark Richt and his staff. He'll get lots of help from a pair of elite RBs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

3) Notre Dame - Everett Golson replaces Tommy Rees. Brian Kelly's team went from the BCS Championship Game to the Pinstripe Bowl in its season without Golson, who was suspended for the 2013 campaign. As a starter in 2012, Golson went 10-1. The Irish will most likely get better QB play this season.

4) Clemson - Cole Stoudt or Deshaun Watson will replace Tajh Boyd. Stoudt, a senior, will probably get pushed by true freshman Watson for the job formerly held by Boyd, who shattered the school's record books with 11,904 career passing yards. OC Chad Morris will find a way to score points, but the Tigers aren't going to average 40-plus points per game like they have the last two years.

5) Arizona - Jesse Scroggins, Jerrard Randall or Connor Brewer will replace BJ Denker. A trio of transfers will compete for the job vacated by Denker, who produced 29 touchdowns last season. Scroggins (USC) appears to be the front-runner following an excellent spring, but he'll get pushed by Randall (juco via LSU) and Brewer (Texas).

6) LSU - Brandon Harris or Anthony Jennings will replace Zach Mettenberger. Harris and Jennings are athletic guys in the Jordan Jefferson mold. Both lack experience, though we should note that Jennings threw a game-winning TD pass at crunch time vs. Arkansas last season. Look for Les Miles to return to a heavy dose of the running game combined with tough defense in 2014. Incoming freshman RB Leonard Fournette should make life easier for the QBs.

7) South Carolina - Dylan Thompson replaces Connor Shaw. Shaw never lost a home game and had an incredible 24/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013. He also ran for countless first downs with his legs. That said, Thompson has been in the fire before, lighting up Clemson for 310 yards and three TD passes without an interception on the road two seasons ago. He also threw the game-winning TD pass to beat Michigan to cap the 2012 campaign. Thompson, a fifth-year senior, finally has the job to himself, but will he be able to perform with the type of consistency that Shaw provided?

8) Texas A&M - Kenny Hill or Kyle Allen will replace Johnny Manziel. Most recruitniks considered Allen the best pro-style passer coming out of high school and the true freshman was in College Station for spring drills. As a true freshman last season, Hill saw limited playing time. Whoever wins the job will get his first career start at South Carolina on Aug. 28.

9) Fresno State - Brandon Connette replaces Derek Carr. Connette is a transfer from Duke who is a much different player than Carr, who had 50 TD passes in 2013 and is the Bulldogs' all-time leading passer. Connette has the size of a fullback and rushed for 14 TDs for the Blue Devils last year. He also had a 13/6 TD-INT ratio.

10) Virginia Tech - Michael Brewer replaces Logan Thomas. Brewer, a transfer from Texas Tech, didn't arrive in Blacksburg until May. Nevertheless, he appears to be the guy ahead of Mark Leal and trio of incoming freshmen. Thomas had an up-and-down career, but his play was inconsistent in 2012 and 2013. The Hokies return nine offensive starters so if they can get adequate QB play, they'll probably be fighting for a spot in the ACC title game with North Carolina.

11) Louisville - Will Gardner replaces Teddy Bridgewater. Gardner has huge shoes to fill, but he'll be learning from a fabulous QB tutor in new head coach Bobby Petrino, who had a 41-9 record in his previous four-year tenure at U of L. Gardner also has an elite WR (DaVante Parker) and a pair of excellent RBs (Dominique Brown and Michael Dyer).

12) Washington - Cyler Miles replaces Keith Price. Miles threw a pair of TD passes in relief of Price at UCLA last season. The following week, he helped the Huskies to a 69-27 win at Oregon St. The third-year sophomore has been reinstated by new coach Chris Petersen after serving a suspension during spring practice. Miles could be poised for a breakout campaign on a team that I feel is a true sleeper in the Pac-12.

13) Missouri - Maty Mauk replaces James Franklin. Mauk shined as a redshirt freshman, going 4-1 in five starts after Franklin got injured in a win at Georgia. He had an 11/2 TD-INT ratio, but his 51.1 completion percentage has to improve. Mauk won't have as many weapons at his disposal with three standout receivers no longer on the roster. But Mauk can make plays with his legs and has a pair of outstanding RBs in Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy.

14) Miami - Kevin Olsen or Ryan Williams will replace Stephen Morris. With Williams dealing with an injury that's expected to keep him out until at least early October, the redshirt freshman Olsen will get the first crack at the job. Olsen, one of the nation's top signal callers in the 2013 class, will have to grow up fast with September road games at Louisville and at Nebraska. The presence of star RB Duke Johnson will help his cause.

15) North Carolina State - Jacoby Brissett replaces Pete Thomas and Brandon Mitchell. As a true freshman at Florida in 2011, Brissett took his first career snaps at top-ranked LSU in Death Valley when John Brantley and Jeff Driskel were injured. The results weren't pretty, but Brissett should have never been in that position. He lost the battle for the starting QB job to Driskel in 2012, and then decided to transfer to Raleigh. After sitting out the 2013 campaign, he appears to be the man for Dave Doeren. Brissett has good size and a big arm, but his accuracy and decision-making were major issues in Gainesville. He's had time to work on those problems, so we'll see where he's at in September.

16) Boston College - Tyler Murphy replaces Chase Rettig. Steve Addazio had a nice debut campaign at Boston College, riding workhorse RB Andre Williams to seven wins and BC's first bowl game since 2010. While on Urban Meyer's staff at Florida, Addazio recruited the northeast and was instrumental in the Gators' signing of Murphy. He never touched the field at UF until Driskel went down in Week 3 last year. Murphy led UF to wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas before suffering a shoulder injury in a loss at LSU. He tried to play through the pain in losses to Missouri, Georgia and Vandy, but then the Gators shut him down for the season. With Driskel back in the mix, Murphy transferred to BC for a chance to start in 2014.

17) Pittsburgh - Chad Voytik replaces Tom Savage. The Panthers got excellent QB play from Savage, who had a 21/9 TD-INT ratio last season. Voytik only saw mop-up duty as a freshman, but he had a stellar prep career that drew interest from schools all across the country. He'll have all of his top rushers back and one of the ACC's best WRs in Tyler Boyd.

18) SMU - Neal Burcham replaces Garrett Gilbert. Burcham started a pair of games late last season after Gilbert was injured. His play was shaky, but he should be improved as a true sophomore. June Jones is never hesitant to play young QBs, so Burcham could get pushed by true frosh Darrell Colbert.

19) Cincinnati - Gunner Kiel replaces Brendon Kay. Kiel was the No. 1 ranked QB in the class of 2012 and was committed to LSU, only to change his mind on Signing Day. He eventually landed at Notre Dame, but things didn't work out in South Bend. Now he's poised to be Cincy's starter, but he could get pushed by Munchie Legaux (if he's healthy) and juco transfer Jarred Evans.

20) Central Florida - Justin Holman replaces Blake Bortles. Holman has huge shoes to fill after Bortles led UCF to a 12-1 season. He completed 9-of-14 throws at garbage time last season. Holman will have the Golden Knight's top three wideouts from 2013 to work with.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/18/2014 01:17 PM

Armadillo: Friday's six-pack

Some college football coaches who have the best ATS records at home (numbers are from Marc Lawrence playbook):

-- Bobby Hauck, UNLV 17-6, .739

-- Art Briles, Baylor, 23-10, .697

-- Jerry Kill, Minnesota 12-6, .667

-- Bill Snyder, Kansas State 77-41, .653

-- David Bailiff, Rice .615

-- Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 33-21, .611

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/20/2014 10:31 AM

Armadillo: Sunday's six-pack

Odds to win the college football national championship.......

4-1-- Florida State-- They've still got a pretty good QB.

6-1-- Oregon-Alabama-Oklahoma

7-1-- Ohio State-- Not much competition in their league.

9-1-- Auburn-- QB Marshall better stay off the weed.

10-1-- UCLA- Veteran QB, NFL head coach; my choice to win it all.

15-1-- LSU-- Like most of SEC, have a new QB this year.


**********

Armadillo: Sunday's List of 13: College football trends to ponder......

13) South Carolina covered its last five games with rival Clemson.

12) New Mexico covered its last 11 games with San Diego State.

11) Arizona State covered its last eight games with Washington Huskies.

10) Western Michigan covered its last six weeknight games.

9) Arizona covered seven of its last nine games with USC, but they're 0-5 vs spread in game following a SU upset win.

8) Kentucky covered twice in its last 12 visits to Tennessee.

7) Pitt Panthers covered last six games as a double digit favorite.

6) Boston College is 0-11 vs spread in last 11 games as road favorites of 4+ points.

5) UCLA covered once in its last eight visits to California.

4) Navy covered 10 of its last 13 games with rival Air Force.

3) Wisconsin covered its last eight games with Purdue.

2) UConn covered 18 of its last 22 tries as a home underdog.

1) Michigan State covered its last six games with Michigan, but Ohio State covered its last four visits to East Lansing.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/20/2014 10:33 AM

Sun Belt college football betting preview: Little league holds big value

The Sun Belt looks like a four-team race for the title, but that means there’s big betting value outside of those contenders in college football’s tiniest conference.

UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (2013: 9-4 SU, 5-8 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +110
Season win total: 9

Why bet the Ragin’ Cajuns: UL Lafayette is the best team on paper in the Sun Belt coming into the 2014 season. The Ragin’ Cajuns return 17 starters, including quarterback Terrance Broadway, who put up big numbers last season. The offense will be potent once again after averaging 33.8 points per game in 2013. Their defense improved last season and they will move forward once again.

Why not bet the Ragin’ Cajuns: Despite returning 17 starters, UL Lafayette's best playmaker - Darryl Surgent - graduated. Surgent was a solid receiver and an exceptional return man, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns consistent good field position. Losing one skill guy shouldn’t be an issue, but Surgent was a difference maker and ULL will miss his presence.

Season win total pick: Over 9


South Alabama Jaguars (2013: 6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +320
Season win total: 8

Why bet the Jaguars: South Alabama was much better than its 6-6 record last year. The Jaguars were a competitive bunch with five of their six losses coming by seven points or less. With 15 returning starters, South Alabama should have good fortune and win the close games. The Jaguars improved on both sides of the ball in 2013, so this team is on the upswing.

Why not bet the Jaguars: South Alabama’s schedule is brutal down the stretch as three of its last five games are on the road. Trips to Louisiana and Arkansas State in conference play, and a game at South Carolina will be difficult, especially if the Jaguars are fatigued or beset with injuries.

Season win total pick: Over 8


UL Monroe Warhawks (2013: 6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +450
Season win total: 7

Why bet the Warhawks: UL Monroe plays the quirky 3-3-5 defensive scheme and with nine starters back, the stop unit will be much improved. The Warhawks didn’t get a bowl invite last season despite winning six games, so they will play with a chip on their shoulder, especially since they return 15 starters in 2014.

Why not bet the Warhawks: The loss of quarterback Kolton Browning to graduation leaves UL Monroe with a big hole to fill in 2014. The schedule doesn’t help either as the Warhawks play three road games at SEC opponents and close the season by playing four of their last five games on the road.

Season win total pick: Under 7


Arkansas State Red Wolves (2013: 8-5 SU, 6-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +450
Season win total: 7

Why bet the Red Wolves: Arkansas State has been a consistent team over the last three seasons. It is 28-11 over its last 39 games, so ASU has developed a winning tradition in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves will have a strong defense that should keep them competitive.

Why not bet the Red Wolves: The Red Wolves return just four starters on offense and they will be playing for their fifth new coach in five years. Blake Anderson moves from offensive coordinator to head coach - a position he’s never held before. At some point, the coaching turnover has to catch up to Arkansas State and 2014 might be the year.

Season win total pick: Under 7


Troy Trojans (2013: 6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +1,200
Season win total: 6

Why bet the Trojans: Troy’s offense projects to be explosive this season and as long as it gets consistent play from the quarterback position, the Trojans will be competitive. Their conference schedule is very kind and Troy should be able to take advantage of that, making its a sleeper in the Sun Belt.

Why not bet the Trojans: The Trojans defense has a lot to prove this year after four straight seasons of allowing more than 30 points per game. Troy’s team success hinges on the stop unit. Replacing QB Corey Robinson is also a major hurdle to overcome. He graduated as the Sun Belt’s all-time career leading passer.

Season win total pick: Over 6


Texas State Bobcats (2013: 6-6 SU, 5-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +1,500
Season win total: 6

Why bet the Bobcats: The Bobcats offense has a very strong rushing attack that can eat clock while paying ball control. They return eight starters, including a ton of experience along the offensive line. Sophomore QB Tyler Jones got plenty of experience last season and natural improvement should occur in his second season.

Why not bet the Bobcats: The Texas State defense returns only four starters and the coaching situation has set it back. Coordinator John Thompson has coached at big-name schools, but he was hired just one week before spring practice. He will implement a 4-2-5 scheme but with inexperienced players, the Bobcats will struggle to stop opponents in 2014.

Season win total pick: Under 6


Georgia Southern Eagles (2013: 7-4 SU, 1-0 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +5,500
Season win total: 5

Why bet the Eagles: Georgia Southern has finished the last four years with a winning record. The Eagles won at Florida last season and with 15 returning starters, their transition from FCS to FBS may be a bit easier than normal. Their talent fits in well with Sun Belt opponents.

Why not bet the Eagles: There’s a lot of change going on with Georgia Southern in 2014. Willie Fritz is the new head coach and he’s looking to open up the Eagles’ run-based offense. Depth is also an issue for Georgia Southern as it only has 63 scholarship players (FCS rules) compared to the 85 allowed for FBS teams. The Eagles also play seven of their 12 games on the road this season.

Season win total pick: Under 5


Idaho Vandals (2013: 1-11 SU, 3-9 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +10,000
Season win total: 3

Why bet the Vandals: Idaho is taking a step down in class by joining the Sun Belt. The Vandals can only improve off their one-win season and the return of 17 starters is definitely a plus. The lesser competition will give Idaho a major boost and it will be a much improved team in 2014.

Why not bet the Vandals: The Vandals finished dead last in the FBS in scoring defense last season, giving up 46.8 points per game. Things don’t get easier for Idaho as it is now in a conference known for explosive offenses. The Vandals’ offense also needs to step way up as they averaged just 18.2 points per game last year and only 15.8 ppg in 2012.

Season win total pick: Over 3


New Mexico State Aggies (2013: 2-10 SU, 4-7 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +10,000
Season win total: 3

Why bet the Aggies: New Mexico State will benefit from playing in the Sun Belt conference. Its schedule was brutal in head coach Doug Martin’s first season. But this year, the Aggies have manageable games that are winnable. The offense will surprise teams and the ability to score points will make New Mexico State better in 2014.

Why not bet the Aggies: Statistically, New Mexico State had the worst defense in the country in 2013. It allowed 44.6 points and 550 yards per game. It returns just five starters to that unit and must learn the new schemes under new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer.

Season win total pick: Over 3


Appalachian State Mountaineers (2013: 4-8 SU, 1-0 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +20,000
Season win total: 3

Why bet the Mountaineers: Appalachian State suffered its first losing season since 1993 after going just 4-8 in 2013. Winning programs tend to bounce back strong off a subpar season, so the Mountaineers will be hungry coming into 2014. With 15 returning starters, including nine on offense, Appalachian State will improve this season.

Why not bet the Mountaineers: The team is moving up from FCS to FBS and it is a young and inexperienced team. Head coach Scott Satterfield is in just his second season and he has little experience as well. Facing better competition every week will prove to be too much for the Mountaineers in their first season in FBS.

Season win total pick: Under 3


Georgia State Panthers (2013: 0-12 SU, 8-4 ATS)

Odds to win conference: +25,000
Season win total: 2

Why bet the Panthers: After going 0-12 in 2013, there’s nowhere to go but up for Georgia State. Despite going winless, the Panthers lost five games by 10 points or less so they were somewhat competitive and it showed in their ATS record.

Why not bet the Panthers: Georgia State hopes its second year in FBS play will be better. But with only nine returning starters, expectations are extremely low. The Panthers have a weak offense and a terrible defense and anything more than two wins would be considered a successful season in Atlanta.

Season win total pick: Under 2

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/22/2014 12:48 PM

Four dark-horse NCAAF bets to make the BCS Final Four

College football will undergo an exciting change this year with the first ever four-team playoff to crown its national champion.

Everybody has their opinion on which four teams will be left standing after the season is over. We all know the favorites, so let's take a look at some of the dark-horse teams that could find their way into college football's final four:

Stanford Cardinal (+400 to make BCS playoff)

Oregon and UCLA have gotten a lot of love this preseason which leaves the Cardinal as the odd men out in the Pac-12. Under head coach David Shaw, the Cardinal have won double-digit games and have gone to a BCS bowl game all three years.

They lost three games in 2013 but only by an average of 4.3 points. One play in each game could have been the difference between a win and a loss. It's also important to note that Stanford is 5-0 in the last two years against the two favorites in the Pac-12, Oregon and UCLA.


Wisconsin Badgers (+3,300 to win national title)

Like Stanford, Wisconsin has two other teams favored ahead of it in its conference, Ohio State and Michigan State. In head coach Gary Anderson's debut season, the Badgers lost three regular season games, but the loss to Arizona State can be discarded due to the fluke referee mishap and the other two were close 7-point losses.

What you get from teams like Wisconsin and Stanford are solid play on both sides of the football and more than often they don't make mistakes, which keeps them in every single game. The Badgers do have a tough opener against LSU but they also don't play Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State or Ohio State.


South Carolina Gamecocks (+2,500 to win national title)

Most books have odds for four different SEC teams to make the national semifinal (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and LSU) but Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks are nowhere to be found. Yes, they have to replace the best player on their offense - and arguably the heart and soul of their team - in Connor Shaw, and the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in Jadeveon Clowney. But they still have one of the most experienced teams in the SEC.

South Carolina still has one of the best running backs in the nation, Mike Davis, and a consistently good and underrated defense. The Gamecocks get Georgia in Columbia, which is big, and despite drawing a tough cross-divisional slate with Auburn and Texas A&M, their strength of schedule could be enough to get them to the playoff - even with a blemish - if they win big down the stretch.


Marshall Thundering Herd (+10,000 to win national title *field)

Ah, the wild card. This team has the talent and the schedule to run the table, priced as a huge -600 favorite to win the C-USA title. But, they will need some help in order to get to the playoff.

Marshall needs to take care of business in conference play - in a decisive manner with no sexy non-conference opponents - and hope that the landscape looks similar to 2007 when the regular season ended with a multitude of two-loss teams near the top of the polls.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/22/2014 01:04 PM

Pressing Mississippi State

July 22, 2014

For nearly a decade, LSU and Alabama have clearly been the superior programs in the SEC West. Now obviously, the previous statement didn't apply to Auburn last season and in 2010 with Cam Newton. But other than those years, the rest of the division has been looking up at 'Bama and LSU.

In 2014, however, I think the West is wide open. In fact, with the exception of Arkansas, there are six schools that have the potential to get to Atlanta.

I mainly say this because 'Bama and LSU don't know what they are going to get out of the quarterback position. I doubt there are many that would argue that the Crimson Tide has the most talent in the nation on offense at 10 positions.

But if a defensive coordinator can make things murky for that 11th and most vital player under center, an offense can only accomplish so much. Jacob Coker appears to be the likely starter at QB for 'Bama, even though Nick Saban wouldn't go that far at SEC Media Days last week.

Coker has excellent size and skills, and there's no shame in riding the pine behind E.J. Manuel and Jameis Winston. There are lots of reasons to think he'll be a quality SEC quarterback, but Coker hasn't jumped in the fire against live bullets yet. His only playing time at FSU came in mop-up duty.

Coker also missed spring practice and didn't arrive in Tuscaloosa until the first week of May. Has he had enough time to gel with his teammates and learn the offense? Only time will tell.

Anthony Jennings helped LSU pull out a win over Arkansas in last year's regular-season finale. With Zach Mettenberger injured, Jennings made his first career start in a 21-14 win over Iowa at the Outback Bowl. He'll battle with Brandon Harris for the starting job in Baton Rouge.

Jennings and Harris are both athletic guys in the mold of Jordan Jefferson, meaning you can expect Les Miles to get back to living and dying with a ground attack and a stout defense. In other words, last year was an aberration in terms of LSU's style of play.

Auburn certainly feels as if it is as talented as its in-state rival, but Gus Malzahn's team has to play in Tuscaloosa and has a much tougher schedule than the Crimson Tide. As for Texas A&M, it has to vastly improve on defense and, like LSU and 'Bama, the QB position is a question mark.

Where I'm going with all of this is that if there's a year for Ole Miss or Mississippi State to break through, this could be it. There's a lot to like about both squads that hail from the Magnolia State.

I'll hit on the Rebels at some point in the next week or two, but I want to spend the rest of this column talking about Dan Mullen's team. That's because I'm extremely bullish on backing Mississippi St. to go 'over' 7.5 wins (at even money via LVH SuperBook).

When breaking down a season win total (that's based on the 12 regular-season games only), the schedule is the most important part of the handicap. Unlike last year when Mississippi St. lost a tough non-conference game to Oklahoma St. 21-3 in Houston, the Bulldogs have four lay-ups in non-con play. We can mark down four wins vs. So. Miss, vs. UAB, at South Alabama and vs. UT-Martin.

Mullen couldn't ask for a better draw in terms of the two games against SEC East foes. Mississippi St. hosts Vanderbilt and plays at Kentucky off an open date. Those aren't two given victories, but the Bulldogs will almost certainly be favored in both matchups.

Another 'chalk' spot for MSU will come in the form of a Nov. 1 home game vs. Arkansas. My thinking is that I've already mentioned seven wins, leaving us to find just one more in five remaining games. The best spot to get that 'W' will be at home vs. Texas A&M on Oct. 4.

When the Bulldogs went to College Station last season, they produced 556 yards of total offense but couldn't stop Johnny Pigskin in a 51-41 loss. When the Aggies come to Starkville this year, they will be playing their sixth game in six weeks and their third in a row away from College Station (A&M plays at SMU and vs. Arkansas in Arlington the two previous weeks). On the flip side, MSU will have two weeks to prepare for the Aggies thanks to an open date.

MSU's four other games include three road assignments (at LSU, at Alabama and at Ole Miss) and a home game against Auburn. Those are most likely four underdog situations, but the game in Oxford and the home game against AU are certainly winnable contests.

Remember, Mississippi St. had a 20-17 advantage at Auburn last year in the final two minutes. The Tigers had to mount a drive of 80-plus yards and get a last-second touchdown pass to pull out the win.

Now let's talk personnel. Mississippi St. brings back eight starters on each side of the ball from a team that went 7-6 straight up and 8-5 against the spread. We noted the narrow loss at Auburn and the Bulldogs had more yards in defeats at Texas A&M and at South Carolina.

And we haven't even hit on the injuries and off-the-field turmoil quarterback Dak Prescott was dealing with. Prescott spent the entire season concerned about the failing health of his mother, who finally succumbed to a long battle with cancer on Nov. 4. If Prescott hadn't been injured in a 20-7 home loss to Alabama, who knows how that game goes?

In the setback against the Tide, MSU could only muster 199 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs' defense was tenacious on that night, setting up the offense with several short fields they couldn't capitalize on.

Prescott returns for his junior campaign brimming with confidence. He's healthy and ready to build upon an impressive sophomore season. Prescott rushed for 917 yards and 13 TDs, while also throwing for 1,940 yards and 10 scores. Six of his top seven pass catchers are back, including one of the SEC's best wideouts in Jameon Lewish, who had 64 receptions for 923 yards and five TDs in 2013.

The defense is led by rising junior linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, who has made 173 tackles in two seasons. In Mel Kiper's most recent 2015 mock draft, McKinney is listed as a first-round pick. The Bulldogs also have a rising superstar in sophomore defensive tackle Chris Jones, who had three sacks and 10 QB hurries while playing as a reserve last year.

Despite giving up 59 points to LSU and 51 to Texas A&M, Mississippi St. only allowed 23.0 points per game last year. With Mettenberger and Manziel gone, I see MSU playing better defense in 2014. And with Prescott poised for a breakout season, I have no doubt that the Bulldogs are going to be more prolific offensively. They'll average more than last year's 27.7 PPG output and will also put up at least eight wins. Jump on this 'over' right now.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:24352 Followers:32
07/22/2014 01:06 PM

2014 MWC Preview

July 21, 2014

2014 Mountain West Football Preview

We’re Back, Again

For the sixth consecutive year, the Mountain West sent at least five teams into postseason bowl games in 2013. The MWC has earned 62 bowl bids since 1999 and holds a 35-27 (.565) all-time record in those contests. However, the Mountain West finished with a 3-3 mark in postseason play in 2013, marking the third year in a row the league failed to post a winning bowl record (6-10 last three seasons).

Fresno State (11-2), Utah State (9-5), Boise State (8-5), San Diego State (8-5), Colorado State (8-6), UNLV (7-6) and San Jose State (6-6) all reached bowl eligibility, marking the ninth year in a row, and tenth overall, the MWC has boasted at least five bowl-eligible teams.

In fact, its .596 win percentage (28-19) in bowl games since 2004 is second only to the SEC’s .659 glossy (54-28) mark.

Newbies

The Mountain West has welcomed 22 new head coaches over the last 15 seasons, nine of which played in a bowl game in their rookie year.

Former BYU head coach Gary Crowton posted the most wins and highest win-percentage among the group with 12 victories and an .860 win percentage in his inaugural year in 2001. Utah State’s Matt Wells became the first to conclude his inaugural season by leading his team to the Mountain West Championship Game and a bowl appearance.

Two new head coaches debut this season: Bryan Harsin with Boise State and Craig Bohl with Wyoming.

We Won’t Back Down

The 2014 non-conference slate features 25 games against teams that earned bowl berths last season.

Six non-conference opponents finished ranked in last year’s final USA Today/Coaches’ and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback.

Mountain Division

AIR FORCE (Offense - *7/2 Defense - 9/2)

TEAM THEME: A MAJOR FLYOVER
Talk about a difficult job. After winning 34 games in his first four seasons, and taking the program to six straight bowl games, Troy Calhoun is suddenly up against it. Between no redshirts, a successful Navy program siphoning off considerable talent, and government budget cuts, Calhoun has witnessed three years of regression. Ravaged by injuries, the Flyboys were forced to play a slew of backups last season, including four different QB’s. As a result, Air Force lost 10 games for the first time in the program’s history. Ron Vanderlinden, former Maryland head coach and LB coach at Penn State the last 13 years, arrives to shore up 2013’s dreadful defense.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Falcons were the worst team in the nation in Turnovers Gained (9) last season.

BOISE STATE (Offense - 5/2 Defense - 8/1)

TEAM THEME: A COMFORTABLE PAIR OF SHOES
An 8-5 record is perfectly acceptable at most schools, but not at Boise State. The school won 112 games during the double-oughts (2000-09), an unprecedented mark for any school since 1900. Now for the first time in eight years, the Broncos will head onto the blue turf led by someone other than Chris Petersen, who went 84-8 as HC from 2006-12. Fortunately, it's a familiar face, that of Bryan Harsin – who played his entire college career and then coached on the Bronco staff from 2001-10 (Boise went 61-5 during his tenure as OC from 2006-10). His staff is young with all sorts of ties to BSU. Petersen left some big shoes to fill. Harsin breaks in a new pair this year.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The last 5-loss season for the Broncos was in 1998. They have averaged an 11-2 season since.

COLORADO STATE (Offense - *5/1 Defense - 6/1)

TEAM THEME: ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH
Jim McElwain, a Nick Saban disciple, welcomes back the top returning passer in the Mountain West, Garrett Grayson, who threw for 3,696 yards and 23 TD’s last season. Three of Grayson’s top four receivers are back as well, but someone will need to fill the shoes of Kapri Bibbs, who left early for the NFL draft, and the loss of four senior OL. Fortunately, the Rams will be playing two-thirds of their games in the state of Colorado. McIlwain will try to build on last year’s successful campaign that concluded with an incredible 48-45 win over Washington State, a game in which they were down by 15 points with 3 minutes to play in the New Mexico Bowl.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: CSU was the only team in the nation to end the 2013 season with a 3,000 yard passer (Grayson) and a 1,500 yard rusher (Bibbs).

NEW MEXICO (Offense - *6/3 Defense - 6/1)

TEAM THEME: THE NEXT STEP
The Lobos enter the 3rd year of a rebuilding plan masterminded by HC Bob Davie. Progress has been slow but the improvement is evident. “It’s time for us to take the next step and start to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” says Davie. The footprint on the team is its overland game, one that ranked No. 4 (308.8) overall last year. QB Cole Gautsche, who rushed for 872 yards last season, keys the offense. The problem is the Lobos owned the worst Passing Efficiency Defense in the nation in 2013. After enduring sanctions, New Mexico has a full 85-man roster for the first time since 2008, albeit only two 5th-year seniors on the squad.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Lobos have been outscored 7.1 PPG under Davie. They had been outscored 26.0 PPG the prior three seasons.

UTAH STATE (Offense - *4/1 Defense - 5/1)

TEAM THEME: CHUCKIE’S BACK
En route to winning back-to back-bowl games for the first time in school history last year, 1st-year HC Matt Wells was named MWC Coach of the Year. The Aggie defense did not appear to fall off much when Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin last year. After earning the top spot in the land in red zone defense in 2012, USU finished No. 6 last season. The big news this year, though, is the anticipated return of star QB Chuckie Keeton, a 3-year starter who missed the final seven games with a broken leg and knee injury last year. His backup, Darell Garretson, went 6-1 as a true freshman last year, including five straight wins to start his career.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aggies are 25-8 in their last 33 games, with the eight losses coming by a combined 48 points.

WYOMING (Offense - 7/2 Defense - 9/3)

TEAM THEME: A COWBOY COUP D’ETAT
To quote Bill Connelly of SB Nation, “Wyoming pulled off a coup by landing Craig Bohl as its new head coach.” The former HC at North Dakota State led his team to three consecutive FCS championships the last three years, going 42-3 in the process – including a season-opening shocker at Kansas State last year. A former DC at Nebraska (his alma mater), Bohl needs to desperately remold a defense that surrendered nearly 50 PPG in its final six games last season. Losing QB Brett Smith in an early out to the NFL hurts but returning the Cowboys’ leading rusher and wide receiver is certainly a huge plus. September road trips to Michigan State and Oregon are not.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Cowboys were the worst-ranked team in the nation in Time Of Possession last season.

West Division

FRESNO STATE (Offense - 5/3 Defense - 8/1)

TEAM THEME: CARR TROUBLES
With the Derek Carr era now in the rear-view mirror, 2014 could be a very tough year for Tim DeRuyter in Fresno. The Bulldogs open with an ambitious schedule before the meat of the Mountain West slate kicks in. The defense remains nearly intact but the loss of Carr’s gaudy passing numbers (over 5,000 yards and 50 TD’s), and the three graduated receivers who combined for 33 TD catches, cannot be easily replaced. After a 10-0 start last season, Fresno saw a BCS bowl slip through its fingers, then suffered a throttling by USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. All things considered, the Bulldogs will be hard pressed to win a third straight MWC title.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Six of the eight returning starters on defense played in all 13 contests last season.

HAWAII (Offense - 7/4 Defense - 6/2)

TEAM THEME: YAP-A-LAKALAKA
Norm Chow heads into his third season as HC on the island of Oahu coming off a dismal 1-11 record. But the Rainbow Warriors weren't as bad as their record might indicate. In fact, we might even say they were the best 1-11 squad to come down the pike in a long time. You just couldn’t tell it in the win column. Consider: In Norm Chow’s first year at the helm with Hawaii in 2013, their 9 losses were by 31.1 PPG. Last year’s 11 defeats were by 13.0 PPG. With RB’s Joey Iosefa, Diocemy Saint Juste, and bruiser Steven Lakalaka – plus star DL Beau Yap – leading the charges, this team is certainly not lacking in name power.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Chow is 0-15 SU vs. greater-than .333 opponents, but 6-1 ATS vs. non-conferences foes.

NEVADA (Offense - *7/3 Defense - 10/4)

TEAM THEME: AULT HEIMER’S DISEASE
It’s not surprising that the Wolfpack regressed big time following the second retirement of Chris Ault. The inventor of the pistol offense reached a zenith in 2010 (Colin Kaepernick’s senior year) when Nevada went 13-1. But in their first season under Brian Polian last year, the Pack went 0-8 against teams with a winning record. Polian’s team got ‘rappykacked’ by UCLA and Florida State early in the year on the road, and finished with an 0-6 road mark. They’ll once again turn to SR QB Cody Fajardo, who threw for 2,633 yards and rushed for 762 more last year. His .678 career completion percentage ranks third nationally and is tops in Nevada school history.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Wolf Pack was the only one of 42 FBS teams last season to finish with a positive TO margin and a losing record.

SAN DIEGO STATE (Offense - *6/3 Defense - 4/2)

TEAM THEME: SUNNY IN SAN DIEGO
For a football team that won 35 games between 2001-09, 34 wins over the last four years is especially notable. And after appearing in four bowls from 1969-2009, the Aztecs’ four bowls the past four seasons is downright inspiring. More impressively, they kept their bowl streak alive despite ranking dead last nationally in red zone defense – and fielding the 118th-ranked red zone offense. HC Rocky Long’s reliance on former head coach Bob Toledo (OC) and ex-NFL QB Brian Sipe (QB coach) speaks for itself. Quarterback Quinn Kaehler completed 232 of 389 passes for 19 TD's and 3,007 yards in 2013 and looks to have a breakout season this year.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Aztecs were the only team in the nation to participate in four overtime games last season.

SAN JOSE STATE (Offense - 5/2 Defense - 8/4)

TEAM THEME: WITHOUT FALE(S)
After taking the program from 1-12 to 11-2 in three years, Mike McIntyre left San Jose and handed the keys to Rod Caragher, who slipped to 5-7 last season. Safe to say the injury bug bit the Spartans hard in 2013 when their leading rusher, wide receiver and linebacker played in a combined three games all year! Caragher faces a stiffer test in 2014 – namely life without star QB David Fales. The good news is Tyler Winston, the MWC Freshman of the Year, is back after snaring 58 receptions for 858 yards last season. In addition, RB Jarrod Lawson was the team’s leading rusher (788 yards) as a freshman in 2013. A deep front seven will anchor the defense.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Former Syracuse head coach and Michigan and Texas Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson takes over as DC for the Spartans in 2014.

UNLV (Offense - 7/4 Defense - 6/2)

TEAM THEME: NOT MAKING THE GRADE
With the team’s average APR score (925) falling 5 points short of minimum NCAA requirements, the Rebs were given sanctions: no postseason competition, replace four hours of practice time with four hours of academics weekly and have five days of football-related activities a week instead of six. Not what the program needed after finally crawling out from under a 6-32 rock by reaching the Heart Of Dallas Bowl last season. Biggest losses on the field this year include QB Caleb Herring (2,718 yards with 24 TD’s and 5 INT’s), and RB Tim Cornett (1,284 rushing yards with 15 TD’s). HC Bobby Hauck’s mission will be to somehow keep this squad glued together.

STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The offensive line returns 136 career starts among six players with starting experience.

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