cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:37 PM

Texas Longhorns Eye Return To BCS Stature

Say it ain’t so! Could Mack Brown really be in trouble at Texas?

Yep, could be.

Although some college football insiders suspect that Mack will be safe in Austin as long as AD DeLoss Dodds is his boss, others aren’t so sure. The Longhorns are just 13-12 over the past two seasons, and after an embarrassing 5-7 pratfall in 2010, last year’s team could only make a mild recovery, finishing a modest 7-5 in the regular season before beating a suspect Cal team, from a subpar Pac-12, in the Holiday Bowl.

Coaches have been fired for lesser transgressions in Austin, where normal rules do not apply. The likes of Fred Akers, David McWilliams and John Mackovic, Brown’s predecessors who all got the boot after brief dips in form, can attest.

Sure, Brown had plenty of capital to expend with the zealous Texas support base after the 2005 national title led by Vince Young, and subsequent successes under QB Colt McCoy, but hovering around .500 for any extended period of time is unacceptable performance for the 'Horns. Another 7-5 type season, and it could be sayonara for Brown in Austin.

Brown, however, believes this could be the season in which Texas again becomes a player on the national stage. Fifteen starters are back in the fold from a year ago when Brown began a reboot of the entire operation, importing high-profile new coordinators – Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as co-coordinator along with Major Applewhite for the offense, and Mississippi State’s Manny Diaz for the defense – to lead UT into a new period of prominence.

To get back to the promised land, however, Mack and Harsin have to stop the carousel of QBs who have given it a shot in Austin since the last days of the Colt McCoy era in 2009. The Texas QB situation has been a game of musical chairs the past two years, although the ranks have thinned somewhat now that Garrett Gilbert, who disappointed in his chance as McCoy’s replacement in 2010 and was beaten out by two frosh a year ago, decided to transfer, taking his act to SMU.

Those two frosh from a year ago, David Ash and Colt’s younger brother Case McCoy, are now sophs and hopefully beyond some of those growing pains from a year ago. Case McCoy’s late-season performance pattern was an indicator of the frustration; after beating Texas A&M in late November, McCoy had a meltdown in the regular-season finale vs. Baylor, guilty of five turnovers in a lopsided 48-24 loss.

After Case McCoy’s self-destruct act vs. the Bears, Brown named Ash to start the bowl game vs. Cal. Which the 'Horns won, and makes Ash the likely frontrunner for the starting spot heading into fall, although Mack made a point to not name a starter coming out of spring practice. Remember, Ash threw just four touchdown passes compared to eight picks last fall. The competition for the starting role remains open entering fall camp, and the possibility exists that Brown might again rotate his QBs.

If Mack can get the QB situation straightened out, then the Longhorns might get back into the BCS mix. The rest of the offense is loaded with playmakers, augmented by the arrival of true frosh RB Johnathan Gray (from Aledo, TX), rated by many as the top runner in all of the prep ranks last season. That only further deepens a crackling corps of RBs already featuring the likes of chop-busting soph Malcolm Brown, who rumbled for 742 YR last season against defenses that didn’t have to worry much about any Texas pass threat. Another soph, 230-lb. Joe Bergeron, is a punishing pile-driver who gained better than six yards per carry last fall.

Four starters also return along an offensive line that paved the way for Texas runners to gain better than 200 ypg in 2011, ranking a solid 21st nationally.

The receiving corps is also brimming with difference-makers, with all of the key targets returning from last season led by junior Mike Davis (45 catches in 2011), Jaxon Shipley (44 receptions last year) and deep threat Marquise Goodwin (33 catches LY). Another frosh, Kendall Sanders, is a speed burner who could make similar impact among the receivers as Gray might with the runners.

Now, who is going to get them the ball?

Meanwhile, Manny Diaz’ stop unit should be able to uphold its end of the bargain, with seven starters back from a platoon that ranked an impressive 11th nationally (allowing only 306 ypg) in total defense. Aside from letdowns vs. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor (by far the most-potent attacks the 'Horns faced in 2011), the Texas "D" was almost airtight a year ago.

The strength of the platoon probably lies in a fast-closing, hard-hitting secondary that returns all of its starters from a year ago. The cornerback combo of junior Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs might be the best corner-cover combo in the Big 12, if not the nation. Senior FS Kenny Vaccaro is on the radar screen of all NFL scouts. This unit helped the Longhorns to an impressive 17th ranking in third-down defense a year ago.

The platoon also ranked sixth in rush defense last season, and though two new DTs must be plugged into the starting lineup, returning DEs Jackson Jeffcoat (recovered from the torn pectoral muscle from last season) and Alex Okafor return after combining for 15 sacks a year ago.

If there are concerns within the stop unit, they’re at the LB spots, which took a couple of graduation hits. But another of Mack’s ballyhooed frosh, Dalton Sanders, could be ready to step in immediately at MLB. Junior outside backer Jordan Hicks is a steadying force who promises to assume a leadership role after making 51 tackles as a soph a year ago.

Another potential headache could be with the kicking game that was inconsistent a year ago. Brown might be counting upon a true frosh PK, Nick Jordan, to cure some of those ills this fall.

The schedule is made for a quick break, with Wyoming, Bob Davie’s rebuilding New Mexico and High Freeze’s rebuilding Ole Miss out of the blocks before things get significantly tougher in late September, beginning with a trip to Oklahoma State. Remember, it was at midseason a year ago when things began to unravel, as Texas faded after a quick 4-0 break from the gate.

Spread-wise, rest assured many Texas-exes are aware that Brown has been underachieving against the number the past few years, too. Indeed, Texas has covered only four of 13 at Austin since 2010, another number Mack is going to have to improve upon to get back into the good graces of the Longhorn support base.

Summary: Everything looks in place for a Longhorn renaissance. Well, everything except the QB position, and that’s a big one to be worried about entering the fall. Safe to say that the Texas season depends upon either David Ash or Case McCoy taking the reins at the position and delivering consistency and leadership. The supporting cast is strong enough that the 'Horns don’t need either to be Vince Young to make a serious run in the Big 12.

But if McCoy and Ash aren’t up to the task, and 2012 ends up looking a lot like 2011 (and Texas gets whipped by Oklahoma again), it could be nervous time for Mack Brown.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:42 PM

Independents Preview

July 9, 2012

With college football conference expansion filling much of the airways these days, and talk of a presidential election just around the corner, it's refreshing to find one college FBS affiliation that is not into all the rhetoric… at least for the time being.

That would be the Independents who, like the Libertarian party in the world of politics, love doing their own thing.

After increasing membership a whopping 25% when BYU declared its independence and joined Army, Navy and Notre Dame to form the FBS Independent 'fighting four' in 2011, the same members return in 2012.

Like last year when the Independents had a small say in the title picture, expect the fearsome foursome to have a say on the participants that will be invited to BCS bowl games this year as these Indy's take on a total of 23 opponents that landed bowl bids last season.

Rest assured, without a conference affiliation, this self-governing group holds plenty of veto power when it comes to dashing the dreams of many BCS Championship Game aspirants.

And when handicapping the chances of these four INDEPENDENTS this season, keep this thought in mind: Collectively this contingent has shone in games under their current head coaches when taking points (as underdogs), going 55-32 ATS (Against The Spread) combined, including 24-6 ATS against foes off a straight-up and pointspread loss, and 12-1 ATS as 'dogs against an opponent with a losing record - with 10 wins coming in straight up fashion.

As they like to say in this loop, regardless of how and whom you plan on voting this year it might serve you well to think as 'independently' as possible this fall, if you know what I mean.

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

ARMY - (*6/8)
Team Theme: MEN OF STEEL

As outlined on this page last year, the Cadets were hit heavily with graduation losses in 2010 and were forced to play more freshmen than any team in the country last season. Fortunately, SR QB Trent Steelman is back behind center for the 4th straight season. He looks primed to enjoy one of the more prolific offensive seasons in academy history in 2011 while commanding an attack that returns its top seven rushers from a team that led the country overland last year. To succeed, however, the Black Knights will need to shore things up defensively with a unit that excites head coach Rich Ellerson. "It's a much more physically mature group. That bodes well for us."

Stat You Will Like: The Cadets are 1-17 SU versus service academies since 2003.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Air Force (11/3)

BYU - (*7/7)
Team Theme: THE LIFE OF RILEY

Little did Bronco Mendenhall realize when he was forced to switch QB's from Jake Heaps to backup Riley Nelson in Game Four of the season last year that Riley would finish the season as the nation's No. 16 ranked signal caller in passing efficiency. Riley returns for his senior season with a strong SR and JR class, including a pair of DL with three years of starting experience who are returning from missionary duty. Interestingly, they will open the season at home against former alum Mike Leach and his Washington State Cougars while also looking to avenge their worst series loss since 1922 to state rival Utah last season, a game which Riley watched mostly from the sidelines.

Stat You Will Like: The Cougars are one of only two schools in the nation to have both its football and basketball head coaches in the Top 10 in winning percentage among active coaches.

PLAY ON: at Utah (9/15)

NAVY - (4/8)
Team Theme: FIRST UP

After eight straight bowl seasons, the Academy was primed for another assault on the gridiron when the torpedoes jammed. After opening 2-0, a six-game losing skid kept them home for the holidays. To get back, they'll have to overcome a lot of 'firsts' in 2012: first game of the season in Dublin against the Irish (ND, that is), first meeting with Penn State since 1974 and a first time-ever in the Army series that a team would win 11 straight contests. It's no surprise that the disciplined Middies were the least penalized team in the land in 2011, nor will it be a surprise to see them take advantage of the nation's softest schedule in 2012. However, first things first!

Stat You Will Like: The Midshipmen were 5-0 SU when leading after the first quarter, and 0-7 SU when tied or trailing after the first quarter last year.

PLAY ON: at East Carolina (10/27)

NOTRE DAME - (*8/6)
Team Theme: FEAR NO EVIL

Give the Irish their due. They may still be an Independent refusing to align with a conference but by season's end, in three years under Brian Kelly, they will have squared off against 27 foes that participated in bowl games, including all six home opponents this year. Thus, it's no surprise to find five preseason Top 25 squads on the 2012 slate. If they can keep him out of jail, QB Tommy Rees will lead an experienced, high-powered attack that gained more than 500 yards on five occasions last year (though he figures to be pressed by prize recruit, Gunner Kiel). Now if only Kelly can conjure up some better halftime speeches (1-7 with Irish when trailing at the half)!

Stat You Will Like: The Irish will face opponents that complied an 86-55 ATS ledger last season, the 2nd best in the nation.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Michigan (9/22)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:44 PM

Pac-12 Preview

June 16, 2012


Oregon has won three straight championships in this conference, but the Ducks won’t be favored this season with USC back in the mix after two years of probation. The odds suggest it will be a two-team race, but a few other teams are capable of strong seasons and would be an upset away from making a run. Here is an early look at the Pac-12 North division and the odds for each of the six teams to capture the conference title.

California (+1000): After a pair of 10-win seasons in 2004 and 2006, it has been a disappointing run of mediocrity for the Bears, including three straight seasons with at least four conference losses. Last season, California finished just 4-5 in league play, but keep in mind they did not have a true home game all season with stadium renovation. This year, the Bears return just eleven starters, but there is decent depth on this squad and plenty of experience on in the key positions on offense. The schedule lines up with great difficulty as the two teams they miss will be Arizona and Colorado, likely two of the weaker teams from the South division and they will play on the road against USC, and Utah. They do get the big division games with Stanford, Washington, and Oregon at home and this is a squad capable of winning at least one of those games. The non-conference schedule features games with Nevada and Ohio State, but this Bears squad should be good enough to get back into the bowl picture and even show an improved record.

Oregon (+200): Losing Darron Thomas and LaMichael James from the incredibly productive Ducks attack leaves some question marks for this team, but Chip Kelly is 34-6 in his three years as head coach and he finally delivered a big win a the end of the year, taking out Wisconsin in a memorable Rose Bowl. Losing to LSU early in the season took some steam out of last season’s run after a championship game appearance the previous year and the Ducks did lose to USC in the regular season. Oregon will have to visit USC this season, but the rest of the schedule is incredibly favorable. Oregon will play just four road games all season and they get to host Washington and Stanford in big North division games. Oregon won by double-digits in every other conference game last season and they do not have to play UCLA or Utah, likely two of the better teams from the South division. Getting back to the Rose Bowl or even possibly the BCS championship game will likely require beating USC twice, but the Ducks have enough talent to replace its stars and deliver another excellent season.

Oregon State (+5500): If you are looking for a deep long shot to win the Pac-12 or at least the North division, Oregon State may fit the bill. Mike Riley has a great track record with the program, often exceeding expectations, but just about everything went wrong last year in a 3-9 season. Oregon State has 15 starters back, including QB Sean Mannion who completed nearly 65 percent of his passes as a freshman. The defense had only two returning starters last year and predictably struggled early in the year, but the Beavers should be greatly improved on the defensive side of the ball this season with six of the top seven tacklers from 2011 back. The schedule has some tough games with a non-conference match against Wisconsin but that game along with division games with California and Oregon will be at home in a historically difficult venue. The biggest break is being one of two teams in the conference that won’t have to play possible preseason #1 USC. All five road games for Oregon State will be challenging games, so this is not a team likely to run the table and come out on top of the division, but this is a team that can definitely double its win total from last season.

Stanford (+2000): A big drop is expected for Stanford after a great two-year run, going 23-3 the last two seasons, including 11-2 last year in the first year for coach David Shaw. Stanford draws a difficult conference schedule with road games at Washington, California, Oregon, and UCLA, but they do get to host USC at home early in the year. Stanford also has to play at Notre Dame, so a decrease in wins is very likely given the slate ahead and the transition at several key positions, notably QB. Stanford does have 13 starters back in action and the defense should be a strong point with a lot of experience back in action. The running game that the Cardinal is known for also brings back the top three rushers from 2011 and three starters on the offensive line. A tougher schedule will make Stanford the underdog in this division, but the Cardinal should still be a very competitive team that is only a few upsets away from a great season. While a third straight BCS bowl game may be a reach, another solid winning season should be in order for a team that appears to be slightly overlooked.

Washington (+850): On paper, it looks like Washington may be the team most likely to unseat Oregon in the North. The Huskies played the Ducks as well as just about anyone in the conference last year and this will be a fourth year for Coach Sarkisian with a program that has appeared to gain a bit of momentum each season, though with back-to-back 7-6 seasons the last two years. The lasting memory of 2011 is an ugly 67-56 loss in the Alamo Bowl where the defense allowed 777 yards, so this is a team that still has a lot of work to do. The offense lost Chris Polk, who rushed for over 1,500 yards and while Keith Price had a strong statistical year at QB last season, he was often in favorable situations in high-scoring games. The top two Washington receivers from a year ago are gone and finding a big improvement is tough with this schedule. Washington has to play at LSU in week two and also has a tricky opener with San Diego State. The conference schedule features a brutal opening slate facing Stanford, Oregon, and USC in three consecutive weeks and a possible 2-4 start could leave this team reeling. The schedule improves the rest of the way, but the Huskies have to play five conference road games and they won’t have any true home games this season due to stadium renovation. Washington could fall short of elevated expectations this season and may need a great late season run to even make a bowl game.

Washington State (+4000): Things are looking up in Pullman after a rough stretch. Paul Wulff was let go last season despite an improved 4-8 season and he deserves credit for helping to bring back a program that was a complete mess when he arrived in 2008, even though history won’t be kind with his 9-40 career record. In comes Mike Leach -- the brash ‘mad scientist’ that engineered high-scoring offenses at Texas Tech before the controversial fallout. Leach inherits a veteran team including senior QB Jeff Tuel and several experienced receivers. The defense greatly improved last season after a horrendous few years and Leach has enough to work with to keep the upward trend moving forward and possibly flirt with a bowl appearance in his first season. Washington State played two of its non-conference games on the road, which could be a challenge, but they do miss USC on the Pac-12 schedule. There are no easy games on the schedule in conference play and Washington State will need to win a few road games, something they’ve done three times in the last five years. This is a team that could go either way, as it could be a difficult transition season or things could come together quickly and the Cougars will be a challenging team for the rest of the conference to adjust to. Either way, it should be much more interesting in Pullman than in the past five years.

USC is back in the mix after two years of probation and the Trojans enter the season as clear Pac-12 favorites. The odds suggest it will be a two team race with Oregon, but a few other teams are capable of strong seasons and would be an upset away from making a run. Here is an early look at the Pac-12 South division and the odds for each of the six teams to capture the conference title.

Arizona (+3000): Despite his failure at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez was a desirable hire for Arizona as the Wildcats look to break a long run or mediocrity or worse. Mike Stoops was able to bring minor success to Tucson with three straight bowl seasons, but last year a brutal schedule derailed that run and he was shown the door. The Rodriguez offense could flourish in the Pac-12, however, as most defenses won’t be well prepared for it and there is a lot of talent in the program even with several notable players from last season moving on. Arizona does not have the greatest of schedules with a tough non-conference game with Oklahoma State early in the year and also having to open the conference season at Oregon while also playing at Stanford two weeks later. Arizona does get five home games in league play, but it could be a tough first half of the season for the Wildcats in the transition year. Arizona might be a year or two away from a breakthrough season, but this should be a play-on team late in the year and an improved record is certainly possible.

Arizona State (+4000): After the messy one-year tenure at Pittsburgh, Todd Graham bolted to Tempe, his fourth coaching stop in seven years. This was a team that greatly underachieved last season and throughout the five years for Dennis Erickson, outside of his first season. Only eight starters are back in action this season and the non-conference slate early in the year is fairly difficult with games with Illinois and at Missouri. The conference schedule features Oregon, but the Sun Devils will miss Stanford and Washington, two quality teams for a slight advantage. There will be new schemes on offense and defense and with limited experience back on the team, particularly on defense and among the receiving corps. It looks like a potentially challenging season for Arizona State and while getting back to a bowl game and a having similar .500-type season as the past two years is certainly a possibility, it could also get worse in the transition year. Other than USC, the division as a whole does not look that difficult however so there could be several coin flip games that could make or break the year.

Colorado (+8800): It was pretty clearly going to be a tough opening season for Coach Jon Embree at Colorado as the Buffaloes entered the Pac-12 last year. The schedule was incredibly difficult and there were not a lot of positives to work with from the previous administration. After just three wins last season, Colorado is capable of hitting that mark in the first four games of the season this year but the schedule stiffens, having to play USC, Oregon, and Stanford in consecutive weeks late in the season and featuring a very tough slate of home games in conference play. Colorado does get five home games in league play, but they will likely be dogged in all of them and there are only three returning starters on the offense. This was a team that was badly outscored and outgained last season and while there should be improvement with a slightly lighter schedule there were 28 seniors on last year’s team and that leadership void will be missed. The steep odds look appropriate in this case as Colorado could have another very tough season.

UCLA (+3800): The Rick Neuheisel era won’t be remembered fondly for UCLA, but the Bruins faced some brutal scheduling and also had to deal with a constant cycle of injuries at the QB position. Former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora, Jr. takes over the program and there will be 16 returning starters to work with including both of the QBs from last season. While the defense did not have good numbers last year, the Bruins will have eight of the top nine tacklers from last season back in action and this will be one of the most experienced team in the conference. UCLA also snags a great schedule within the conference with five home games including some of the toughest games with Utah, USC, and Stanford all visiting the Rose Bowl. From the North draw, UCLA does not have to play Oregon or Washington, a huge advantage over the rest of the division along with Utah who also misses Ducks. Challenging non-conference games at Rice, and at home with Nebraska and Houston could take a hit on the record, especially being early in the year in the transition season. It will be pretty tough to envision USC failing to win this division, but UCLA might have the next best shot with the experience returning and the favorable schedule.

USC (-200): With 16 starters returning from a 10-2 team and one of the Heisman favorites in QB Matt Barkley, USC will open the season as heavy favorites in the Pac-12 and one of the favorites to take home the national title. The Trojans will be tested early; having to play at Stanford in the third week of the season and the draw from the North division is very difficult with a game at Washington as well as home games against California and Oregon. Within the division, USC has to play on the road against the top competitors UCLA and Utah and non-conference games with Hawaii, Syracuse, and Notre Dame will make for a tougher set of games than most major conference teams will face. The talent on this team is undeniable with Barkley coming off a brilliant statistical season and WR Robert Woods catching 111 passes last year. The top three USC receivers return, along with the top RB and four of five on the offensive line, making this an absolutely loaded offense. The defense has talent and experience, but the unit underachieved last season and will remain the question mark if they are forced into shootouts like they were in both losses last season. Coach Lane Kiffin is also a bit unproven with a fairly pedestrian 25-13 record in three college seasons and few big game wins. USC deserves this pricing and while it will be a shock if the Trojans don’t win this division, going undefeated and beating Oregon potentially twice will be a tall order.

Utah (+3000): Utah could have earned the South division championship game spot by beating Colorado at the end of the year, but the Utes laid an absolute egg with a 17-14 loss at home as 22-point favorites, sending 6-6 UCLA to the conference championship game. USC being on probation was obviously the only reason the Utes had a chance, but they could be formidable this season. 8-5 was a step back for the Utah program, but considering the upgrade in competition in moving to the Pac-12, it was not a horrible result and this program has much more stability than most of the teams in the conference as Coach Whittingham enters his eighth season and this will be a veteran team with 16 returning starters. Utah also grabs a great schedule with Oregon and Stanford as the two teams absent. Not having to play the Ducks is a huge edge, although Utah will have to play five conference road games. Utah will get USC at home and off a bye week, so while it will take a big upset, the set-up is as good as could be asked for. The non-conference slate features games at rivals Utah State and at home against BYU and those won’t be easy games. Another similar solid, but not great season is the most likely result for Utah and they will be in the mix for a second place finish in this division and among the next in line if USC would somehow stumble.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:47 PM

C-USA Preview

June 30, 2012

With news of the new four-team playoffs now the talk of college football, it appears the evolution of the proposed 16-team league 'Super Conferences' is more up in the air than ever before.

One thing is certain: the BCS remains in tact through the 2013 season and, like it or not, it's their world and they still rule.

A misnomer commonly associated inside the bizarre-world of the BCS is that only six major conferences carry the handle of being a 'BCS conference'.

Actually there are 11 BCS conferences in all, six who qualify with automatic berths (AQ) into BCS bowl games for their conference champions, and five who do not (non-AQ). The current Conference USA being among the latter.

Despite its non-AQ status, the CUSA has more than held its own of late with 10 different teams from the conference participating in 40 bowl games over the last seven years. And they've held their own in these post-season affairs, going 18-22 SU and 19-20-1 ATS. Interestingly, in that span against .666 or greater bowl opponents the CUSA is 13-8 SU and 15-6 ATS, while just 5-14 SU and 4-14-1 ATS versus sub .666 foes. (Go figure.)

Houston's 13 wins tied LSU for most in FBS last season while the CUSA posted a sterling 4-1 bowl record in the 2011 campaign.

With talk of change looming just around the corner, the CUSA will lose Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF to the Big East next season. Meanwhile they import Charlotte, FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Old Dominion and Texas-San Antonio in 2013 - although its unclear a this point which teams will be football member of the new-look CUSA. Hence, talks of merging with the Mountain West Conference have all but broken off.

If talk like this isn't dizzying enough, the loop welcomes five new head coaches in 2012 while breaking in six new starting quarterbacks as well.

Stepping outside the conference, members will take on 15 foes that finished in the Top 25 last season, including 18 games against foes from the Big10, the Big12 and the SEC. In head-to-head games against these three super conferences, the CUSA stands 45-187 SU and 97-124-5 ATS since they formed the conference, including a super-scary 2-110 SU and 33-77-2 ATS in game in which they fail to score 17 points.

Scarier, perhaps, is the fact many of the teams hanging on in this conference are uncertain which neighborhood league they will be calling home by the time the new NCAA Championship playoff format debuts in 2014.

Talk about sacrificial lambs.

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

EAST CAROLINA - (7/7)
Team Theme: OVER THE TOP

The Pirates witnessed an abundance of players (25) making their first-ever collegiate start last season, one more than the previous year. This forced-maturity, coupled with a roster featuring over 50% upper classmen, makes for exciting times in Greenville. The loss of QB Dominique Davis hurts but the return of WR Justin Hardy, the Pirates leading reception and yardage receiver in 2011, along with four starting offensive linemen, should aid an attack that slipped substantially in 2011. More importantly, a defense that was last in the loop in 2010 improved by 102.5 YPG after switching to a 3-4 formation and returns 70% of its production in 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The Pirates have appeared in seven bowl games since 2000, including five the last six years.

PLAY ON: vs. Marshall (11/23)

MARSHALL - (*8/5)
Team Theme: IN THE HERD

The Herd benefited last year from having played 28 freshmen in 2010 as they made it to - and won - a bowl game in Doc Holliday's second season in Huntington. They did it while facing the nation's 2nd strongest slate of non-BCS opposition, while squaring off against three ranked foes for the first time ever in one season. Unfortunately, they ride a 0-13 SU streak against ranked opposition heading into this season. The good doctor, however, will once again have QB Rakeem Cato as well as a defense that ranked in the Top 20 in tackles for loss, fumble recoveries, fourth-down and red-zone efficiency at his disposal. Hope you 'Herd' that.

Stat You Will Like: Marshall is 8-0 SU at home and 0-8 SU away versus teams hailing from the state of Texas.

PLAY AGAINST: at Rice (9/22)

MEMPHIS - (*9/8)
Team Theme: ALL SHOOK UP

After winning five games the last three years, the Memphis brass decided it was time to turn a Frog into a Tiger. New HC Justin Fuente arrives from TCU where he served as QB coach and co-offensive coordinator. In his three years at Fort Worth, the Frogs set single-season records for TD's, points scored and first downs. "Our players have to become more comfortable with how we do things… because it's going to be different from anything they have done before," contends Fuente. Fortunately, what won't be much different is an offensive line that returns four starters. However, the rest of the unit just may get a Memphis makeover.

Stat You Will Like: No wide receiver caught more than one touchdown for the Tigers last season.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. UAB (11/17)

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI - (6/4)
Team Theme: AND THE BEAT GOES ON

When the Golden Eagles defeated Nevada in last year's Hawaii Bowl, it marked the first time in school history a Southern Miss team had won 12 games in the same season. In fact, the Eagles were a scant 9 points short of perfection. It also marked the end of a terrific four-year run by HC Larry Fedora, who takes his entire staff to Chapel Hill. Fear not, Eagles enthusiasts. New boss Ellis Johnson, the defensive coordinator at South Carolina the past four seasons, hits Hattiesburg with some strong pedigree himself, as former college head coaches Rickey Bustle and Tommy West head the offensive and defensive units, respectively.

Stat You Will Like: The Eagles have enjoyed a winning season each of the last 18 years. Only Florida, Florida State and Virginia Tech have more.

PLAY ON: vs. Marshall (10/20)

UAB - (*7/4)
Team Theme: BLAZING COLD

One of five new head coaches this season in C-USA - and only the fourth in UAB history - former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee looks to halt a seven-year losing skid in Birmingham. QB Jonathan Perry is back after getting the starting nod midway through last season and leading the Blazers to their only three wins in 2011, but he'll have to operate behind an offensive line that loses four starters. A more inspired effort will be needed from a stop-unit that was torched for more than 500 yards on seven different occasions but it probably won't be enough as four of UAB's six road games are against bowlers. We don't see a quick cure for this seven-year itch.

Stat You Will Like: The Blazers' defense ranked dead last in the nation in sacks (8) last season.

PLAY AGAINST: at Southern Mississippi (11/3)

UCF - (6/8)
Team Theme: STORM'S A BREWING

Last year we lauded the talents of QB Jeffrey Godfrey and he promptly proceeded to lay an egg on our face (and his) when the pressure to perform on the field and in the classroom proved too much for the talented signal-caller to handle. After threatening to transfer, Godfrey agreed to rejoin the team as a receiver and part-time QB in UCF's version of a Wildcat package. Bigger news is the addition of Miami (Fla.) transfer Storm Johnson, a RB who made a huge impression in spring camp. QB Blake Borties is back after beating out Godfrey and topping C-USA in passing efficiency. Don't be (O)Leary - the Knights have enough weapons to return to the roundtable.
Stat You Will Like: The Knights tied Miami Florida for most losses (6) by eight or less points last season.

PLAY ON: vs. UAB (11/24)

West Division

HOUSTON - (5/6)
Team Theme: CASE CLOSED

After the final dust settled in last year's bowl games, C-USA finished with the best percentage of all conferences, posting a 4-1 mark. New HC Tony Levine did his part as he guided the Cougars to a win over Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl when Kevin Sumlin jumped ship knowing NCAA career passing yards leader Case Keenum's eligibility was about to run out. Sumlin did lead the Coogs to an unbeaten regular season but that was due to an incredibly soft schedule that featured only one foe with a winning record from the previous year. It looks like Levine may go 'ground' in 2012 as All C-USA RB Charles Sims (1,396 combined yards, 7.5 YPR) returns for his junior year.

Stat You Will Like: The Cougars are 1-19 SU and 3-17 ATS as dogs off back-to-back conference losses.

PLAY AGAINST: at UCLA (9/15)

RICE - (*5/5)
Team Theme: NO SNAP, CRACKLE OR POP

It seems like eons ago, but it has actually been only four years since the Owls recorded a 10-win season. They've gone 10-26 since, with one glaring common denominator over that span: a rotten defense. Sixth-year boss David Bailiff realizes his fanny is getting warm so he'll need to improve on the Owls' 467.5 YPG annual-yield since he's been on the Rice sidelines. Bailiff will count heavily on CB Bryce Callahan, whose six interceptions is tops among C-USA returnees. The keys to the offense will be given to QB Taylor McHargue but things won't change until the Owls wake up on the road and improve on a 1-17 SU and 5-13 ATS mark since 2009.

Stat You Will Like: Under Bailiff, the Owls are 2-15 ATS versus opponents off back-to-back wins, including 0-11 ATS away

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. SMU (11/17) - *KEY off win

SMU (3/7)
Team Theme: TOUGH TO FACE

On the heels of seven-plus wins over the last three years for the first time since 1982-1984, the Mustangs made their biggest score when HC June Jones stayed put in Dallas rather than jump ship for Arizona State. QB J.J. McDermott has graduated and Kyle Padron has transferred, opening the door for former Texas starter Garrett Gilbert. RB Zach Line returns off a pair of 1,000-yard rushing efforts, as does star WR Darius Johnson - the MVP in each of the Ponies' last two bowl games. However, if an offensive line is truly the 'face of the team', then SMU is faceless as the trenches must be rebuilt. One ray of light is a defense that has improved each and every year under Jones.

Stat You Will Like: June Jones is 5-0 ATS as a dog of less than 20 points versus undefeated opposition.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Texas A&M (9/15) - *KEY if A&M is undefeated

TULANE - (*7/7)
Team Theme: C.J. TO THE RESCUE

After nine straight losing seasons, including the last five in a row under Bob Toledo, the Green Wave placed a 911 call to New Orleans native Curtis 'C.J.' Johnson and he responded. Johnson brings 25 years of coaching experience, along with some pretty nice hardware: a Super Bowl trophy during his stint with the Saints and a national championship ring as an assistant at Miami Florida. And though a glossy resume won't win games, it's a good start towards recovery. So, too, is the return of senior QB Ryan Griffin, who has started 30 games the last three seasons, and RB Orleans Darkwa, who has rushed for 1,849 yards in 17 career starts.

Stat You Will Like: Five of the Green Wave's final six games are versus foes that finished the 2011 season with a losing record.

PLAY ON: at Memphis (11/10)

TULSA - (6/7)
Team Theme: CATEGORY 8

The eight wins registered by Bill Blankenship in his first year at the Tulsa helm was really no surprise considering the Hurricane has logged eight or more wins in six of the last seven seasons since exiting the WAC in 2005. Blankenship's biggest challenge in 2012 will be replacing all-conference QB G.J. Kinne and the entire left side of an OL that has started 83 games over the past four seasons. 6'4", 245-lb. Nebraska transfer Cody Green won the starting QB job in spring camp and he'll be joined by a pair of backs who each rushed for more than 800 yards in 2011 and a set of receivers who each reeled in more than 850 yards. With an easier slate, is eight enough in 2012?

Stat You Will Like: Tulsa faced the toughest strength of schedule of all non-BCS teams last year.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Iowa State (9/1)

UTEP - (*7/4)
Team Theme: THE PRICE IS NOT RIGHT

Six in a row… and counting. That's how many consecutive losing seasons the Miners have encountered under Mike Price after he was inked to a contract extension in 2005 following back-to-back bowl appearances. What seems like eons ago actually is if you apply a dose of daily math to the numbers - meaning it's been 2,190 days since UTEP last struck bowl gold. The good news is the top three tacklers are back from last year's defense. The bad news: all three starting LB's depart meaning the secondary will be busier than usual. With Price's contract up at the end of the year, can you say, "Come on down… you're the next coach in the unemployment line."

Stat You Will Like: Price is 43-83 SU and 41-82 ATS from Game Seven out in his career.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. Tulane (10/20)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:48 PM

MAC Preview

July 16, 2012

In the battlefield of conference shuffling and expansion gone wild, Temple is old news and Massachusetts is new in the 2012 MID AMERICAN CONFERENCE.

And while the Minutemen will not be eligible to play in the MAC title game or a bowl contest this season, UMass is thrilled to be transitioning into the FBS wars this campaign.

Entering its 66th year of gridiron competition, the MID AMERICAN CONFERENCE will once again play a balanced schedule, meaning each team will play eight conference games in 2012.

Here's hoping the ledger is more balanced than its been the last three years when only five teams in the MAC West Division managed to finish the season with a winning record. This on the heels of the 2008 campaign when only Buffalo was on the plus side of the ledger inside the East Division.

Sixteen players from the MAC dotted Super Bowl rosters last year, 15 the year before. That was more than the Pac 12 and the Big East, with only the SEC, the Big 10 and the ACC accounting for players in the big game than the MAC. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had the most success using the MAC as a fertile breeding ground. Two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (Miami, OH) and league defensive MVP James Harrison (Kent State) each hail from the MAC.

This is definitely a league that is wide open and one that likes to mix things up. Nine different teams have appeared in the last seven MAC Championship games while 12 different MAC schools have appeared in a bowl game in the last eight seasons.

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 went 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS as bowlers last season.

Amazingly, when traveling as favorites on the non-conference road the lightweight MAC is a staunch 17-8-1 ATS laying points, including 11-1 SU and 9-2-1 ATS versus foes without a win on the season.

All of which reminds us that when it comes to backing teams with the dichotic tendencies of those that reside in the MAC, it should be served with one of our favorite warning notices: caveat emptor… let the buyer beware!

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

East Division

AKRON - (*7/6)
Team Theme: T-BOWING

After suffering 1-11 blowout seasons the last two years, the Rubbermakers changed tires, replacing Ron Ianello with Terry Bowden - from the same dadgum Bowden coaching clan we've learned to love in the past. The first order of work for coach T-Bow, who led Northern Alabama to three consecutive Division II appearances the last three seasons, will be to improve a rush offense that has averaged less than 120 RYPG each of the last three seasons. Good news is the Zips will host only one foe that had a winning season last year. That's a good thing considering they are 1-17 SU and 3-14-1 ATS away versus greater than .400 MAC foes of late. That and the fact there are only 65 scholarship players dotting this year's roster.

Stat You Will Like: Bowden is 15-2 SU and 11-6 ATS in lined games versus losing teams.

PLAY ON: at Tennessee (9/22)

BOWLING GREEN - (*8/10)
Team Theme: WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES

Last year the Falcons featured 81 players that were either sophomores or younger (including 33 of 53 players on the two-deep roster) and were coming off a 2-win campaign in 2010. This year they return 18 starters from unit that improved by 3 wins while gaining 90 YPG on offense, 23 YPG on defense, 6 PPG on scoring offense and 5 PPG on scoring defense. Further examination finds 9 of the top 10 linemen, the top 4 linebackers and all 5 secondary starters back from a 4-2-5 defense. For head coach Dave Clawson, it's that magical combination where youth turns to experience in one fell swoop. Behind veteran QB Matt Schilz, the Falcons look to soar in 2012.

Stat You Will Like: The Falcons are 7-3 SU and ATS away during the regular season from Game Nine out the last five years.

PLAY ON: vs. Kent State (11/17) - *KEY off BB losses

BUFFALO - (8/8)
Team Theme: THIS IS OUR TIME

While most teams would be fear-stricken looking to find a replacement for a graduated quarterback who immeasurably improved a marshmallow offense last season, coach Jeff Quinn instead remains the antithesis of panic. "I think this is our most talented group of QB's since I've been in Buffalo," says Quinn. "We have players who we all feel can help us win football games, each with their own unique talents." It certainly doesn't hurt knowing that QB Jerry Davis, who started 8 games in 2010, is among that group. After averaging more than 30 PPG at home last year, the Bulls will assuredly rely on new DC Lou Tepper, who won over 100 games as a head coach at Illinois.

Stat You Will Like: The Bulls are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games as conference home favorites.

PLAY AGAINST: at Northern Illinois (10/13)

KENT STATE - (*9/9)
Team Theme: BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE

The Golden Flashes finished 5-7 in Darrell Hazell's first year as head coach, the third straight season they finished with that record. Kent hasn't finished above .500 since 2001 but Hazell believes his team made progress in 2011. After starting the season 1-6 and 0-3 in MAC play, the Flashes won four straight and had a chance to become bowl eligible before a season-ending loss at Temple. The first priority in 2012 is to play disciplined (76 penalties) and that should be the case as 18 starters, led by three-year starting QB Spencer Keith (6,041 passing yards/33 TD's) return to Dix Field. 'Flash' Back to 2001: The Golden Ones return to the winner's circle.

Stat You Will Like: The Flashes are 3-35 SU and 8-28-2 ATS in games against opponents off a win of more than 20 points.

PLAY ON: at Miami Ohio (11/10)

MIAMI OH - (*8/7)
Team Theme: A CHANGE OF FORTUNE

Things looked promising, on paper at least, for first-year HC and Miami grad Don Treadwell when he signed on last season. He inherited a 10-win team with 17 returning starters that witnessed the largest turnaround in FBS history from the previous year. With four losses by 7 points or less, Treadwell quickly found out how the law of averages works. With a wealth of experience in the trenches, a two-headed QB attack, a slew of skill-position returnees and one of the best mid-major 'D' lines in the country, things could once again turn around in a hurry in Oxford. With Temple gone, look for the 'Hawks to feast on the East in 2012.

Stat You Will Like: Last year the RedHawks had 13 total seniors. This year's team may have as many as 13 senior starters.

PLAY ON: at Ohio State (9/1)

OHIO UNIVERSITY - (*6/8)
Team Theme: BOBBING FOR MORE APPLES

How important was having all five offensive linemen back for OU last season? A 3-0 start for the first time since 1976, a 10-win season for the first time since 1968 and a first-ever bowl victory says it all. Through it all, QB Tyler Tettleton developed into arguably the top performer in the league. He's back along with all three of those aforementioned interior linemen, making the defending MAC East champs, once again, the team to beat. Squaring off at home against five FBS foes that failed to post a winning record last year helps, too. After being the MAC apple last season, let's just hope there is enough ATS value to nibble on this year.

Stat You Will Like: The Bobcats are 20-4 SU and 18-6 ATS versus .250 or less opponent under Solich.

PASS

UMASS (*6/9)
Team Theme: JUST A MINUTE

It didn't even take UMass a minute to say yes to a step up in class when the MAC came calling. Unfortunately, new HC Charley Molnar and new DC Phil Elmassian will need a lot more than a minute to repair a rush defense that was manhandled by FCS opposition last year, including a whopping 386 yards allowed on the ground to James Madison in a season-ending 34-17 loss. Molnar realizes his team will be outclassed early on. "We are playing a 1-A schedule with 1-AA players," said the former Notre Dame offensive coordinator. They will be also playing all of their home games at Gillette Stadium this year and next. No 'minute to win it' at Amherst this season.

Stat You Will Like: The Minutemen will not be eligible for the MAC championship and bowl participation until 2013.

PASS

West Division

BALL STATE - (*8/5)
Team Theme: LEMBO IN LIMBO

Despite a defense that went backwards 112 yards a game, Pete Lembo led the Cardinals to 6 wins in his first season on the sidelines in Muncie. It's a defense that has declined each of the last three years in a row, allowing season-high yards in four of its final five games. "We are very young and inexperienced at safety. The defensive line is another position where we graduated some seniors. So, again, we will be young and inexperienced. We need to improve across the board." On the flip side, JR QB Keith Wenning, who has started 22 games, directs a no-huddle offense that went 185 passes with no picks until the Oklahoma game last season.

Stat You Will Like: The Cardinals allowed only 11 sacks last season, which tied for 12th best in the nation.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Eastern Michigan (8/30)

CENTRAL MICHIGAN - (*9/8)
Team Theme: GREEN ENVY

For the second year in a row the Chips went green, with 24 players making their first career start, including 10 true freshmen. Add that to the 19 who made their college debut the previous season and suddenly third-year HC Dan Enos has a 'Pleasant' nucleus forming in 2012. SR QB Ryan Radcliffe, who has started 24 straight games and ranked in the Top 20 in the nation in passing yards each of the past three seasons, leads the attack and will be protected by an offensive line that returns six players with starting experience. We love 17-returning starter squads who were 1-10 ATS the previous year. Remember - what goes down can come up!

Stat You Will Like: The Chippewas will play seven home games this season for only the 3rd time in modern history.

PLAY ON: vs. Ball State (10/20)

EASTERN MICHIGAN - (*9/5)
Team Theme: ENGLISH MAJOR

The MAC daddy's of Michigan (beat CMU and WMU) haven't hit the alleys since 1987 but dual-threat QB Alex Gillett (3,100 yds passing, 1,500 yds rushing) had them knocking on the door last season. And with nine returning starters back on offense, 2012 just may find them 'scoring' high marks with bowl officials. Thanks to a 'D' that improved by an inconceivable 20 points and 105 YPG, Ron English garnered MAC Coach of the Year honors as his Eagles won six games - one more than the previous three seasons combined. To top it off, 21 players who made their collegiate debut in 2011 should make the Eagles 'Major' MAC players again.

Stat You Will Like: The Eagles have rushed for more than 2,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Central Michigan (11/10)

NORTHERN ILLINOIS - (4/11)
Team Theme: LEAD DOGS

After guiding NIU to its first MAC title in 28 years, it appeared coach Dave Doeren was headed to Kansas. Then Charlie Weis came along and Doeren returns to the sidelines in DeKalb for a second straight season. That's a good thing for the defending MAC champs who will be looking to rebuild an offense that was decimated by graduation, including conference player of the year, QB Chandler Harnisch. The good news is new DC Mike Dunbar inherits a stop-unit that remains intact, including a pair of former starting LB's who missed all of last season. And with only three winning teams on the docket, the Huskies may, once again, be best in show.

Stat You Will Like: The Huskies are 5-2 SU and 6-0-1 ATS as conference home dogs since 2001.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Ball State (10/6)

TOLEDO - (*4/5)
Team Theme: MMM, MMM, GOOD

After a three-year stay at Toledo in which the Rockets improved their win total every year - concluding in bowl appearances the last two - head coach Tim Beckman will be playing with the Big boys in the Big Ten (Illinois) this season. Enter Matt Campbell, offensive coordinator under Beckman the past three seasons. Campbell engineered an exciting 42-41 victory over Air Force in last year's Military Bowl and inherits a squad that appears short on returning starters. However, Campbell insists, "One thing we have been able to do here is play a lot of kids, whether as starters or in critical situations. We have a wealth of experience." Alright, we'll go to the 'Matt' with him.

Stat You Will Like: 32-year old Campbell is the youngest FBS coach by more than three years.

PLAY ON: at Northern Illinois (11/14)

WESTERN MICHIGAN - (*7/8)
Team Theme: CUBIT'S REVENGE

We're guessing word out of the MAC this spring was either super secretive, or delivered by Pony Express, as the conference was slow releasing their spring prospectuses. One thing we know for sure is that 15 starters are back in Kalamazoo from last year's bowl squad, led by QB Alex Carder (tossed for 3,873 yards in 2011, including five 400-yard efforts). The question remains, though, will HC Bill Cubit be able to repair a defense that ranked 12th in the MAC last year and was ripped for 804 yards in a loss to Toledo? With only three teams that owned a winning record last year dotting this season's schedule, we say 'yes' as Cubit improves on his healthy 34-21 conference mark.

Stat You Will Like: The Broncos are 2-12-1 ATS versus an opponent off an ATS win of 15 or more points under Cubit, including 0-7-1 ATS if the foe is .500 or greater.

PLAY ON: vs. Toledo (9/29)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:51 PM

Ranking the Head Coaches

July 17, 2012


1-Nick Saban (Alabama) – His run at Alabama reminds me of Rick Pitino’s basketball stay at Kentucky. Saban has brought the glory days back in Tuscaloosa. He has three career national titles, two at Alabama and he’s not slowing down anytime soon. Along with Urban Meyer and Les Miles, he’s one of the nation’s best recruiters and motivators these days. And I’ll take Saban’s weekly game plans over anyone’s not named Steve Spurrier.

2-Steve Spurrier (South Carolina) – His 7-for-12 mark in winning SEC’s from 1990-2001 at a school (Florida) that had never won the conference title before his arrival is nothing short of sensational. He’s also the only head coach in modern days (1989 to be exact) to lead Duke to an ACC title. And now he’s getting it done at South Carolina, guiding the program to its first 11-win season in 2011 despite losing his best player (Marcus Lattimore) in October. Where Lou Holz and countless others couldn’t get it done, Spurrier is now thriving with the Gamecocks, who have a legit shot at winning their first SEC Championship in 2012. And, oh yeah, Spur Dog has a touch of personality and he’s a must-listen with a microphone in front of him.

3-Chris Petersen (Boise State) – What he’s doing at Boise St. is absolutely incredible. Since replacing Dan Hawkins, Petersen has led the Broncos to a 73-6 record and four of those losses were decided by three points or less. Three would’ve been BSU victories if not for missed field goals at crunch time. Petersen has upgraded BSU’s schedule and compiled a 7-1 record against BCS foes, including wins against Oklahoma (Fiesta Bowl), at Oregon, at Va. Tech (Washington D.C.) and at Georgia (Ga. Dome).

4-Les Miles (LSU) – Sure, Miles is abysmal when it comes to making clock-management decisions. However, when you create a team that’s so nasty like last year’s outfit, you don’t have to concern yourself with those situations because you’re beating teams by 3-4 touchdowns every week. And when it comes to making tough decisions, most notably ones that work, Miles is the best. He’ll break out a fake punt or field goal at anytime and they always seem to hit for big plays. Most importantly, his teams play hard and fast and love to play for him. In other words, his pros far outweigh his comical cons.

5-Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) – The knock on Stoops-ey (as Spurrier calls ‘em) is his teams have regularly come up short in the biggest games of his career (besides the 13-2 win over FSU to win the nat’l title), but there’s something to be said for almost always being in the mix. The Sooners are going to be a top-10 team again this year and that’s basically a given on Stoops’s watch. Finally, there’s plenty to be said for loyalty and Stoops has turned down more than a dozen jobs (college and pro) while at OU over the last decade and change.

6-Chip Kelly (Oregon) – There’s a reason Kelly turned down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even when his best players (RB LaMichael James and QB Darron Thomas) had just turned pro. That’s because Kelly has the Ducks on a roll and they’re reloading rather than rebuilding in 2012. His offense is dynamic and he’s recruiting extremely well. In three years, Kelly has turned Oregon into a borderline perennial top-five program.

7-Urban Meyer (Ohio State) – Does Oscar deserve better? Probably. But when you get eaten up and spit out by the grind of the SEC, you’re going to take some hits. And whatever happened to all those volleyball games Urby was going to go to in ‘retirement?’ Anyway, there’s no doubt he can recruit and motivate with the best of ‘em. He has a pair of national titles that prove that to be fact. However, I’m not a fan of his offensive philosophy (it says here that Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin would’ve thrived in any offense at the collegiate level), not enamored with the manner in which he left Florida and certainly not fond of the shape he left the program in. All that said, he’ll probably have the Buckeyes dominating the Big Ten by 2014.

8-Gary Patterson (TCU) – He’s won five conference titles in 11 years. He’s stayed the course at TCU when other job offers have come his way. He’s racked up victories galore and now has a chance to make his mark in the Big 12. There’s nothing not to like about Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs, who will immediately compete for Big 12 supremacy.

9-Brett Bielema (Wisconsin) – The Badgers haven’t missed a step since Bielema replaced Barry Alvarez. He’s won 60 games and a pair of Big Ten titles in six years. Madison is a great college town but due to the frigid weather, let’s not act as if it’s the easiest place to recruit the country’s top-tier talent. The Badgers are fortunate to have Bielema.

10-Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech) – The Hokies are the only ACC program that’s perennially been in the nation’s Top 15 over the last decade. You can always count on Va. Tech to play excellent defense (Bud Foster should get plenty of that credit), great special teams and almost always win in Blacksburg. Beamer is Va. Tech and that’s been a good thing for the Hokies for a long time.

Just missed the cut…

Bill Snyder (Kansas State) – He’s been remarkable at KSU for 20 years and he might have done his best work to date in 2011.

Lane Kiffin (USC) – The Lame Chafin’ Days are over. Kiffin has matured and admitted he behaved like an ‘idiot’ while at Tennessee. Now he’s become an excellent play-caller, a bulldog recruiter and has one of the top jobs in America. He might win his first national championship in 2012.

Mike Gundy (Oklahoma St.) – He’s no longer remembered for the infamous ‘I’m a man, I’m 40!’ rant. Those days are long gone. Gundy is now known for being one of the country’s best offensive minds. His Cowboys were the nation’s third-best team in 2011.

Mike Leach (Washington St.) – Tough job, but it won’t take this genius long to work his magic. (This seems like the appropriate spot to give a shout-out to Craig James, one of the biggest d-bags to ever walk the planet!)

Brady Hoke (Michigan) – He led Ball St. to an unbeaten season (before jumping for San Diego St. prior to the bowl game) and then gave the Aztecs program a huge jolt in a quick, two-year stay. Then in 2011, he led the Wolverines to 11 wins following three years of complete mediocrity under Rich Rodriguez.

Paul Johnson (Ga. Tech) – Love his moxy. Johnson is a great fit at Ga. Tech because his offense can thrive with 3-star recruits.

On the rise…

James Franklin (Vanderbilt) – Instantly took a 2-10 team to just its second bowl appearance since the early 1980s. Then Franklin brought a quartet of four-star recruits to a program that had bagged just a pair of 4-star prep players in the last decade. (Neither of those made it to campus, by the way, as Marcus Dixon was wrongly convicted of a crime and a RB out of Tampa was murdered in Ybor City). Simply put, Franklin has done miraculous work in his first 18 months on the job.

Jimbo Fisher (FSU) – Nothing spectacular but solid work so far, especially on the recruiting trail. He could make a big jump this year if E.J. Manuel becomes a big-time QB. (I have my doubts, though.)

Will Muschamp (Florida) – That’s right, I’m a believer. There’s no need to rewind the 2011 campaign. The reality is the Gators had ‘no shot’ when senior John Brantley got injured and true freshmen had to play QB in losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and FSU. It says here that UF is poised for a big jump under Muschamp’s leadership in 2012 and 2013.

Larry Fedora (North Carolina) – The Tar Heels found a good one in the former So. Miss head coach who has been directing high-octane offenses for nearly a decade.

Charlie Strong (Louisville) – I’m thinking the Cardinals will return to the success they had under Bobby Petrino (41-9 in four-year stretch) in the next 2-3 years.

Underrated:

Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Jim Grobe (Wake Forest) Phillip Fulmer (unemployed), Bronco Mendenhall (BYU), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech), Ellis Johnson (So. Miss)

Overrated:

Gene Chizik (Auburn), Dan Mullen (Mississippi St.), Charlie Weis (Kansas), Rich Rodriguez (Arizona), Dennis Franchione (Texas St.)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:53 PM

Week 1 Upset Alerts

July 15, 2012


**Ohio at Penn State**

This is more about how Ohio is going to have a solid team this year than the demise of Penn State. Tyler Tettleton is another outstanding quarterback that the MAC has produced over the last decade. The junior signal caller enjoyed a banner sophomore campaign, completing 64.3 percent of his passes for 3,302 yards with a 28/10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Tettleton also rushed for 916 yards and 10 TDs while leading Frank Solich’s squad to a 10-3 record. The Bobcats return eight starters on defense and 10 of their top 12 tacklers from last season.

As for PSU, it has obviously been a mess since November. Bill O’Brien has a Herculean task in front of him, needing to improve a pedestrian offense that scored just 19.3 points per game in 2011. This unit returns only five starters but one of them is junior running back Silas Redd, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry while rushing for 1,241 yards and seven TDs last year. The defense was dynamite in 2011 but has only four starters returning.

With the darkest of clouds hovering over Beaver Stadium, Penn St. looks ripe for an upset in Week 1 vs. Ohio.

**Louisiana Tech vs. Texas A&M** (Shreveport)

Again, this is more about the fact that the underdog is going to have plenty of bite in 2012. La. Tech went 8-5 last year and covered the number in a 31-24 loss to TCU as a 10-point ‘dog in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Bulldogs return eight starters from an offense that produced 30.1 PPG. After throwing 13 TD passes compared to only three interceptions, senior QB Colby Cameron is back along with his favorite target, senior WR Quinton Patton, who garnered first-team All-WAC honors with 79 receptions for 1,202 yards and 11 TDs in 2011. RB Hunter Lee appears poised for a breakout campaign after rushing for 650 yards and five TDs while averaging 4.8 YPC as a true freshman.

I don’t believe in calling season openers look-ahead spots, but we’ll nonetheless mention the Aggies’ SEC debut against Florida the following week since it is quite the unique circumstance. Perhaps most importantly, Texas A&M is on the road in Week 1 with a new coach and a new QB in an unfamiliar environment.

Texas A&M struggled mightily in close games last year, losing five times by seven or less with two of those defeats coming in overtime(s). Tight games like this are often decided by special teams and La. Tech has the advantage in that department. Phil Steele ranks La. Tech punter Ryan Allen as the nation’s best at his position, while place-kicker Matt Nelson is rated 17th.

Finally, we should note that the last time La. Tech hosted a BCS school it beat Mississippi St. 22-14 in its 2008 season opener. Also, let’s mention that the Bulldogs won 27-7 at Ole Miss last year and lost an overtime decision at Mississippi St.

**Western Michigan at Illinois**

Western Michigan nearly won in Champaign-Urbana last year, dropping a 23-20 decision as a 14-point road underdog. The Broncos have a veteran QB in Alex Carder, who has a 61/26 career TD-INT ratio. This team won outright at UConn last year and only lost to Purdue by five in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. The Broncos, who finished 7-6 in 2011, have seven starters back on both sides of the ball.

Illinois wasn’t exactly dominant at home last year, losing three times and winning by just a field goal on three other occasions. Tim Beckman inherits a decent situation from the departed Ron Zook, but the Illini better come to play in Week 1.

**Nevada at California**

This is a revenge game for the Bears, who got throttled by a 52-31 count in Reno two seasons ago. In his 11th season in Berkeley, Jeff Tedford is on the hot seat with a mediocre 20-18 record since 2009. The Bears lost their top four tacklers from last year and QB Zach Maynard is extremely inconsistent.

Nevada’s upset hopes hinge on the play of sophomore QB Cody Fajardo, who was the WAC’s Freshman of the Year as a freshman replacing Colin Kaepernick. Fajardo rushed for 786 yards and 11 TDs. His passing was shaky (6/6 TD-INT) but that should improve in 2012. The Wolf Pack need a huge performance from Fajardo and probably need to win the turnover battle by two.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Another upset alert in Week 1 is Boise St. at Michigan St. The Broncos are seven-point underdogs at most books as of mid-July. However, I refuse to imply that a victory by a Boise St. team falls in the ‘upset’ category even though it technically would be based on the point spread. That’s because the Broncos are 73-6 under Chris Petersen and since 2008, they’ve lost only three times by five combined points. Yes, they no longer have QB Kellen Moore, RB Doug Martin and most of a defense that was dominant in 2011 and saw several players drafted this past spring. But Petersen reloads at BSU these days and the Spartans are going to get all they want in East Lansing.

--Georgia head coach Mark Richt is still on the hot seat. Forget the contract extension he inked after leading the Dawgs to the SEC Championship Game in 2011. Another off-season of arrests and suspensions has UGA looking like a program in turmoil. The 2012 slate is the easiest of all SEC teams as the Dawgs don’t have to face Alabama, LSU or Arkansas. With this built-in advantage over division rivals South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee, Richt could be a goner if he doesn’t get UGA back to the Georgia Dome in December.

--I like ‘over’ 8.5 (minus-135 price per 5Dimes) wins for South Carolina.

--Also at 5Dimes, La. Tech is the plus-115 ‘chalk’ to win the WAC.

--Check out my updated Top 40 Power Rankings here if you wish.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/21/2012 04:56 PM

LVH releases Win Totals

July 15, 2012

2012 COLLEGE FOOTBALL REGULAR SEASON WINS from LVH SuperBook
School Wins Money

ALABAMA 10.5 OVER +110 UNDER -130

USC 10.5 OVER +105 UNDER -125

OKLAHOMA 10.5 OVER +130 UNDER -150

OREGON 10.5 OVER -120 UNDER EVEN

LSU 10.0 OVER +110 UNDER -130

FLORIDA ST 10.0 OVER +105 UNDER -125

TEXAS 9.0 OVER -120 UNDER EVEN

GEORGIA 9.5 OVER -140 UNDER +120

NOTRE DAME 8.5 OVER +120 UNDER -140

ARKANSAS 8.5 OVER -130 UNDER +110

FLORIDA 8.0 OVER EVEN UNDER -120

WISCONSIN 9.0 OVER -140 UNDER +120

OKLAHOMA ST 8.5 OVER -130 UNDER +110

MICHIGAN 8.5 OVER +120 UNDER -140

OHIO ST 8.5 OVER -180 UNDER +160

STANFORD 8.0 OVER -110 UNDER -110

SOUTH CAROLINA 8.5 OVER +130 UNDER -150

VIRGINIA TECH 9.0 OVER -120 UNDER EVEN

NEBRASKA 8.5 OVER +105 UNDER -125

MICHIGAN ST 8.5 OVER EVEN UNDER -120

WEST VIRGINIA 8.5 OVER +115 UNDER -135

BOISE ST 9.5 OVER -155 UNDER +135

TCU 7.5 OVER -140 UNDER +120

CLEMSON 8.5 OVER +105 UNDER -125

TENNESSEE 7.5 OVER EVEN UNDER -120

TEXAS A&M 7.0 OVER -130 UNDER +110

BYU 8.5 OVER -135 UNDER +115

UTAH 8.0 OVER -110 UNDER -110

MISSOURI 6.5 OVER -130 UNDER +110

KANSAS ST 7.0 OVER +120 UNDER -140

MISSISSIPPI ST 7.0 OVER -150 UNDER +130

LOUISVILLE 8.0 OVER -135 UNDER +115

UCLA 6.0 OVER -125 UNDER +105

NEVADA 8.5 OVER EVEN UNDER -120

UNLV**** 3.0 OVER -135 UNDER +115




Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/23/2012 05:35 PM

2012 College Football Preview: SEC West


To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we begin our run of all FBS conference previews over the next two months. This week we take a look at the SEC and Big 12. The SEC has produced the past six national champions with Alabama beating LSU in the 2012 BCS Championship Game.

Odds to Win SEC
(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
3-to-2: Alabama
2-to-1: LSU
8-to-1: Arkansas
50-to-1: Auburn
50-to-1: Mississippi State
75-to-1: Texas A&M
100-to-1: Ole Miss


ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-1 (7-1 in SEC)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 34.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 8.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 9/2
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The Crimson Tide should be fine without Trent Richardson, as Eddie Lacy will step after posting an eye-popping 7.5 yards per carry as the No. 2 RB last season. QB A.J. McCarron has developed into one of the nation’s best passers, and how quickly he builds a rapport with a young WR corps will be key. Last year’s incredible defense loses more than half of its starters, and a young team will be tested early with September games against Michigan’s Denard Robinson and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson. But if anyone can rebuild a national-title caliber defense in a hurry, it’s the brilliant defensive minds of Nick Saban and coordinator Kirby Smart.



LSU TIGERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 13-1 (8-0 in SEC)
ATS Record: 10-4
Over/Under: 7-6-1
Points Scored: 35.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 11.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 6/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
This year’s LSU team has a chance to be as good as last year’s BCS runner-up. The Tigers bring back their bruising and dynamic RB foursome (Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard). Zach Mettenberger’s ascension to starting QB should open up the offense after Jordan Jefferson’s abysmal BCS Championship Game performance last winter. LSU’s defense is still stacked with elite talent in tackle Anthony Johnson (a.k.a. “The Freak”) and dominant cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. With a soft non-conference schedule (North Texas, Washington, Idaho and Towson) and home games against SEC contenders Alabama and South Carolina (Georgia is not on the schedule at all), LSU may just run the table in the regular season once again.



ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (6-2 in SEC)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 36.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 40/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
The Razorbacks are looking to put the Bobby Petrino debacle behind them, and they have the offense to do it. QB Tyler Wilson threw for 3,638 yards and 24 TD last season. The team also has a very good running game that sees a number of RBs get touches, though All-America candidate Knile Davis will lead the way if he’s fully recovered from a knee injury that kept him out in 2011. An issue for Arkansas this year may be its offensive line, as the team lost a few starters and must do a good job protecting Wilson to keep this offense flowing. Defensively, the Razorbacks have trouble getting to the quarterback and stopping the run, but a good recruiting class and more experience for their young players should make for an improved defense.



AUBURN TIGERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (4-4 in SEC)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 25.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 100/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
After a year of rebuilding, the Tigers return 16 starters in 2012 and should regain their position near the top of the SEC. All of their success, however, will depend on the performance of the winner of the QB battle between Clint Moseley and Barrett Trotter. Star RB Michael Dyer followed offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to Arkansas State, leaving undersized Onterio McCalebb as Auburn’s only proven runner. The Tigers will need to pass the ball better this season to keep defenses honest. However, Auburn should have one of the better defenses in the SEC with nearly all of its players returning on that side of the ball. Given the experience they gained last season, this unit could end up being among the SEC’s elite.



MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (2-6 in SEC)
ATS Record: 6-7
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 25.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 19.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Although the Bulldogs have made improvements over the past couple of years, they have failed to break through in the SEC. This season Tyler Russell will take over as QB after a year of splitting time. He should be able to handle the job as long as his offensive line holds up. RB LaDarius Perkins has shown a lot of promise, averaging just over five yards per carry over two seasons. On defense, Mississippi State won’t be as good as last season when it allowed 19.7 PPG (16th in nation). The Bulldogs have lost their anchor, DT Fletcher Cox, and their secondary is very inconsistent, finishing 11th in the SEC in passing defense (197 YPG).



TEXAS A&M AGGIES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (4-5 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 4-9
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 39.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
After losing QB Ryan Tannehill, new head coach Kevin Sumlin’s toughest job is going to be finding a quarterback to run his high-octane offense. Sophomore Jameill Showers, who attempted just five passes as a freshman, will likely win the starting job. Senior WR Ryan Swope remains the top target in the passing game (89 rec, 1,207 yds, 11 TD), but the health of RB Christine Michael will be very important if this team is going to move the ball consistently. DE Damontre Moore (8.5 sacks) is going to be a crucial part of the defense. Unfortunately, this team is going to have a lot of trouble covering wideouts. The Aggies are losing three of their most important players in a secondary that allowed 276 passing YPG last year (109th in FBS).



OLE MISS REBELS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-10 (0-8 in SEC)
ATS Record: 3-9
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 16.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
Ole Miss had a lot of trouble on both sides of the ball last year, and that could be the case again in 2012. The Rebels scored just 16.1 PPG (5th-least in FBS) and allowed 32.1 PPG (96th in nation). New head coach Hugh Freeze hopes to change all that, but his team doesn’t have a clear choice at quarterback, and in the SEC that’s a problem. The running game will struggle due to an inexperienced offensive line even though Jeff Scott (529 rush yds, 6 TD) is a capable running back. On defense, the team is looking to improve on a year in which it finished last in the SEC in sacks and Tackles For Loss. This secondary is strong, but the front seven struggles stopping the run (224 rush YPG allowed) and pressuring the quarterback.


Other College Football Previews:
SEC West
SEC East - July 25
Big 12 - July 27
Big Ten Legends - July 30
Big Ten Leaders - August 1
Big East - August 3
Pac-12 South - August 6
Pac-12 North - August 8
Mountain West - August 10
ACC Atlantic - August 13
ACC Coastal - August 15
Sun Belt - August 17
Conference USA - August 20
MAC - August 22
WAC - August 24
Independents - August 27

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25161 Followers:33
07/23/2012 05:42 PM

Mountain West Preview

July 22, 2012

Like a new year's resolution, it's out with the old and in with the new… well sort of… in the Mountain West Conference in 2012.

After breaking off talks with the Conference USA about a proposed super merger, the MWC lost it's first-and-only three time champ, TCU, to the Big 12 this season, before bouncing back and luring three replacement members for 2012 - namely Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada.

By our scorecard three major powerhouse programs have bailed out the past two seasons (BYU, Utah and aforementioned TCU) with the aforementioned Bulldogs, Rainbow Warriors and Wolf Pack taking their place. Pure and simple, if it were a trade the MWC would have been hosed.

Granted, last year's addition the of Boise State (albeit temporarily) added luster but, in this wacky world of conference carpetbagging, the Mountain suddenly appears to be crumbling.

From Air Force to Wyoming, the new Mountain West Conference does more than just blanket the alphabetical world of college football. Through all changes the MWC owns the best percentage in bowl games of all conferences in games the last eight years, going 24-12 (.667). It has also produced four 8-win teams the last five years in a row, all who went bowling.

In addition to the revolving door, four new coaches come calling in the Mountain West this season, three of whom that will be taking charge of a program for the first time in their coaching careers. In fact, the MWC has seen 16 first-year coaches the past 13 seasons, seven of which played in a bowl game in their debut year.

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 ten 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. Designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

AIR FORCE - (3/2) Team Theme: WHAT, ME WORRY?

When you've guided your team to a bowl game each and every year you've roamed its sideline, and then in one fell swoop lose 17 starters - including your four-year starting signal caller from an offense that put up its best ever numbers during your tenure - it may be time to reach for the Right Guard. Silver lining comes from the fact that five of the Flyboys' six home games are against teams that ended the 2011 season with losing records. That and the fact the Falcons are 19-1 SU and 9-5 ATS hosting non-winning foes under Troy Calhoun. Hey, no sweat… if you're Alfred E. Neuman.

Stat You Will Like: Falcons are 20-10 SU in the final six games of the season with Calhoun. They were 12-24 before his arrival.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Navy (10/6)

BOISE STATE - (5/3) Team Theme: TOP OF THE CLASS

Wouldn't you know it? TCU dipped its toes into the Mountain West waters for just one year, but it was long enough to ruin another perfect season by the Broncos. The stunning 36-35 setback snapped Boise's 65-game regular season, 47-game conference and 35-game home win streaks. The win skeins also contributed to an astonishing 50-3 record compiled by QB Kellen Moore, with all three losses coming by a total of FIVE POINTS! Like the Horned Frogs, Moore is now gone, leaving Chris Petersen - one of the most innovative offensive minds in college football - with 10 straight senior classes to win 40-plus games. Its no wonder Petersen's horses own the nation's longest active win streak in the BCS standings (37 straight).

Stat You Will Like: Boise State is the first program since 1920 to win 12 or more games in four consecutive seasons.

PASS

COLORADO STATE - (7/7) Team Theme: UNSETTLING IN

A 3-1 start had Ram backers forgetting back-to-back 3-9 seasons but then - just like that - a season-ending eight-game losing skid made it a three-peat and terminated the four-year reign of Steve Fairchild. Enter Alabama OC Jim McElwain who must think Fort Collins resembles Fort Apache as starting LB Michael Orakpo and DE Nardly Capi were expelled as a result of an off-campus brawl, and two-year starting QB Pete Thomas transferred to NC State following the firing of Fairchild. Garrett Grayson, who filled in for Thomas when he suffered a knee injury last season, inherits the starting job but, like Apache, may find a dilapidated attack early on.

Stat You Will Like: The Rams are 1-11 ATS as road favorites since 2003.

PLAY ON: vs. UNLV (11/10)

FRESNO STATE (*8/7) Team Theme: OVER THE HILL

The leash simply wasn't long enough for Pat Hill to survive just his third losing season in 15 years at the Bulldogs' helm. Enter Tim DeRuyter, who arrives with nine new assistants, as the Fresno makeover begins. The former Texas A&M DC has the luxury of 15 returning starters - the most in the MWC this season - including a backfield that features QB Derek Carr, the younger brother of former No. 1 pick David Carr, and all-MWC RB Robbie Rouse. It's time to let these 'Dogs out as Carr threw for 3,544 yards in 2011 - the second highest among sophomore QB's - while the diminutive Rouse has tallied over 2,600 rushing yards the past two seasons.

Stat You Will Like: The Bulldogs are 19-5-1 ATS as single-digit non-conference dogs.

PASS

HAWAII (7/4) Team Theme: CHOW TIME

When Honolulu native Norm Chow was hired as the new Hawaii head coach, he became the first Asian American coach of a major college football program. The credentials are certainly there: 39 years of collegiate and NFL experience, three National Assistant Coach of the Year awards, three Heisman Trophy winners and six first-round NFL QB's. Though the WR corps remains intact, the offensive guru will be put to the test early as he loses All-WAC performer QB Bryant Moniz to graduation. After 33 years, the Warriors will be also calling a new conference home as they say mahalo WAC and aloha MWC.

Stat You Will Like: The Warriors will travel 23,604 round trip miles in their four MWC games this season.

PLAY ON: at Fresno State (11/3)

NEVADA (*6/7) Team Theme: NEW LEADER IN THE CLUBHOUSE

Looking for a free cold one this football season? Simply saunter into any sports bar and ask anyone to name the FBS college football coach with the most active career wins with one team. If they answer Chris Ault (226 wins with Nevada), they're either from Reno or they have more time on their hands than Bobby Petrino. Ault hesitantly bids adieu to the WAC as he enters the MWC this season with a 17-1 SU log in his last 18 home games. The good news for the Nevada faithful is the fact that the Pack takes on a schedule laced with opponents that went a combined 46-67 ATS in 2011. Dual-threat QB Cody Fajardo will once again be in charge of triggering the 'Pistol.'

Stat You Will Like: Chris Ault is 24-8-1 ATS as a home favorite, including 8-0 ATS versus non-conference foes.

PLAY ON: vs. Boise State (12/1)

NEW MEXICO (*8/6) Team Theme: LET'S GET PHYSICAL

College football television analyst Bob Davie is back on the sidelines after 10 years away from the locker room. Here's Urban Meyer on Davie: "X's and O's and understanding the game of football, he's one of the best minds that I've ever been around." However, Davie will bring a physical approach to Albuquerque. "We'll hit. I'm not going to tippy-toe into it. There is only way to play the game and that's to be physical," says the former Notre Dame head coach. Davie does return eight starters on offense but that's like hiring the staff of the Titanic to captain a ship as the Lobos ranked 120th in the land in scoring (12 PPG). Yep, physical sounds like the right way to go.

Stat You Will Like: Bob Davie is 12-0 SU and 8-4 ATS at home versus sub .400 opponents

PLAY ON: vs. Texas State (10/6)

SAN DIEGO STATE - (7/6) Team Theme: PACKING UP

One year away from moving into the Big East Conference - yes, the Big East - the Aztecs are hoping to stay above water in 2012 after suffering major losses from last year's bowl squad. Gone are QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman. Spring camp saw former Oregon State QB Ryan Katz the frontrunner for Lindley's job while the stop-unit was still looking for replacements after losing virtually its entire front seven. In truth, the Aztecs actually scrimmaged more than practiced this spring in hopes of finding those replacements. A very favorable seven-game home slate should help somewhat, but taking on foes that were 59-44 ATS last year will not.

Stat You Will Like: Rocky Long is 1-9 ATS at home in conference games when playing off a double-digit win.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Army (9/8)

UNLV (*8/5) Team Theme: WHAT THE F*** ARE YOU DOING?

Likeable Bobby Hauck knows that unless he improves on a pair of two-win seasons and seriously addresses a defense that ranked No. 117 in the nation, he'll likely end up like most other 'good fellas' in Vegas - last seen in the desert talking to a Joe Pesci look-alike. "We are a better looking team in our uniforms but the depth charts shows the youth," admits Hauck. He's right: of the 47 returning lettermen, just two red-shirt seniors and 11 scholarship seniors answer the roll call. Hopefully, opening the season with four straight home games for the first time since 1973 will stave off that little road trip to the desert. After all, Hauck is 0-14 SU and 1-13 ATS away from home.

Stat You Will Like: The Rebels have been outgained in 21 of their 25 games under Hauck.

PLAY AGAINST: at Hawaii (11/24)

WYOMING (*5/8) Team Theme: WE TRY HARDER

The Cowboys' offense took a quantum leap forward last year behind new offensive coordinator Greg Brandon's spread attack. The former Bowling Green head coach nurtured freshman QB Brett Smith to a record-shattering performance when Smith's 3,232 total yards eclipsed Andy Dalton's freshman record. Fortunately, Brandon has elected to stay with the Cowboys after the new staff at Illinois failed to lure him away. HC Dave Christensen has tabbed Chris Tormey as his new defensive coordinator and if his work is anything close to Brandon's, the Cowboys could end up being the second best team in the MWC this season… and maybe even give Boise a poke.

Stat You Will Like: The Cowboys' 20 losses under Christensen have been by an average of 24.15 points per game.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at UNLV (11/17)

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