cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/23/2012 05:46 PM

Never Dull ACC Gears Up For 2012 Campaign

Florida State is even-money to win the ACC Championship in 2012.

Hardly uneventful times in the Atlantic Coast Conference, alternately accused of being either too passive or too aggressive in the way it has gone about its business lately.

Whatever the label, the ACC is never dull.

Certainly the league has been right in the middle of the recent tectonic shifts in college athletics. Some informed observers, however, believe the ACC should have been more proactive in the past year.

The ACC's place in the new order of college football is still being defined. At one point, the reluctance of the league and commissioner John Swofford to cast a swing vote alongside the SEC in favor of a mini-playoff (or the plus-one model) over the BCS system was retroactively viewed as a mistake by most gridiron insiders. Subsequently, however, developments suggested that the BCS might be a good friend to the ACC as it at least guaranteed entrance for one rep (or two, as a year ago) into the big-money bowl pool, in turn strengthening the loop's TV bargaining position.

And when the college powers-that-be did finally decide this past spring to do away with the BCS and replace it with a 4-team playoff two years hence, some were suggesting it was a death knell for the ACC as one of the high-profile leagues.

The metrics of the playoff subject continue to shift, however, and as the 2012 season approaches, the ACC in fact seems no better or worse placed in the big-bowl equation than it did before. A recent agreement to send its champion to the Miami Orange Bowl (should the league winner not be involved in the four-team playoff) at least keeps the ACC in the equation for a hefty postseason payday.

At the moment, we see the overall impact of the playoff on the ACC as being very neutral.

Still, the ground shakes beneath the conference. Membership will swell to 14 teams next year with the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, continuing the ACC's near decade-long annexation of the Big East's most-valued gridiron assets. Many sources believe the enlistments of the Panthers and Orange are merely the first steps to the ACC becoming a 16-team super conference, which no one in the mid-Atlantic region seems to deny.

Where the ACC moves next, however, is open to much conjecture. Some well-placed insiders have indicated that the loop is keeping those two places open in hopes of luring Notre Dame and/or Texas; the ACC, it is said, would allow each to keep existing school-specific TV deals, something the Big Ten and Pac-12 would not agree upon. But developments since the beginning of the year suggest these options are becoming less likely, with the Longhorns reaffirming their commitment to the Big 12 and the Irish looking to secure their own big-money bowl deal in the new post-BCS re-alignment of college football.

Now, the ACC might have a different set of concerns, as loop football bellwether Florida State has hinted at dissatisfaction with its current situation, and has been openly critical of the ACC's new (and very back-loaded) TV contracts. By extension, some believe Miami could be tempted to move in tandem with the Seminoles should FSU seriously consider other options, which would likely include the Big 12 but could also be expanded to the Big Ten and even the Pac-12 (what do geographic boundaries matter these days in college sports, anyway?).

Although the schools have temporarily backed off with their complaints (and, in truth, it was FSU, not Miami, making the noise in the first place), sources insist that there indeed is some dissatisfaction within the Florida branches of the conference, and suggest to monitor those situations closely over the next 6-12 months.

So, the ACC might have to contemplate the possibility of losing members in the near future. In the meantime the likes of Rutgers and UConn from the Big East wait for their invitations to the ACC, the same ones received at Virginia Tech, BC, Miami, plus Pitt and Syracuse, in recent years.

Stay tuned, because the off-field developments in the ACC are as intriguing as what is happening off the gridiron.

Speaking of the gridiron, it is also where the ACC has fallen behind some of the other power leagues in the current BCS arrangement, which only has two more years to run. No ACC entry has won the BCS title since 1999 (Florida State); no ACC team has as much competed in the national title game since 2000 (Florida State again, losing to Oklahoma).

The past several years haven't been pretty for the ACC in its BCS adventures, either; last January, West Virginia dropped a 70-point bomb on league champ Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The year before, Virginia Tech was hammered by Stanford in Miami. Prior to that, it was Georgia Tech ambushed by Iowa in the Orange. Even when the league got an extra BCS bid last season, VPI conspired to drop a game in the Sugar Bowl vs. Michigan that the Hokies had no business losing. The league hasn't won any BCS bowl game since the 2008 season, when Frank Beamer's troops from Blacksburg beat Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.

Annually, the league continues to be guilty of its own form of fratricide; Cain and Abel are alive and well in the ACC, as member teams routinely destroy the title hopes of others. In truth, however, the league has not produced a legit national power team since Bobby Bowden's last great Seminole teams almost a decade ago.

Looking forward to this season, we suspect that equation doesn't change, as every contending team again looks to have an identifiable weakness or two (or three) that should prevent any serious runs at national honors.

The upside? A wide-open race in both the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions.

Following are brief team-by-team previews, along with any compelling technical notes, and projections on season win/loss "totals" where applicable. Odds to win the conference title are also included next to each team, which are listed in projected order of finish.

ACC ATLANTIC

Florida State (even money to win ACC): The Seminoles had an Alabama-quality defense last season and should be loaded on the stop end once again, especially since DE Brandon Jenkins decided to skip the NFL Draft to Tallahassee. Along with returning starters on the DL such as DT Everett Dawkins and DE Bjoern Werner, the 'Noles "Sack Patrol" could dominate again this fall. Seven starters, plus several others hungry to make an impression, return from the nation's fourth-ranked defense.

The issue in Tallahassee last year was that while the "D" was Alabama-like, the "O" more resembled Kentucky's. Simply put, Jimbo Fisher needs better work from his offensive line and an infantry that ranked 104th in the country last season. Spring work was hardly encouraging; the OL, with four new starters, barely moved the DL in the spring game, when the Noles gained fewer than two yards per carry. Still, FSU won't be playing against a defense as good as its own this fall, and there is hope of improvement if ballyhooed frosh RB Mario Pender is as good as advertised. Senior QB EJ Manuel, 13-4 as a starter in his career, would figure to benefit the most from an improved ground threat. Sources also say to watch RS frosh WR Kelvin Benjamin; Manuel said it was "like throwing passes to LeBron James" when aiming Benjamin's way in spring.

Technical notes: Jimbo's FSU has been prone to streaks the past two seasons, with four separate four-game streaks, split between wins and losses. The defense minded-theme has also resulted in a 17-8-1 "under" mark the past two years. Various sports books are also quoting FSU's regular-season win total at 10, which might be difficult for the Noles to exceed if the OL can't upgrade. We also aren't sure about the value in that even-money price to win the conference, something FSU hasn't done since 2005.

NC State (16/1): Never underestimate a Tom O'Brien-coached team, especially late in the season. Roaring down the stretch again a year ago, the Wolfpack might have been the ACC's hottest team in November, blowing out eventual league champ Clemson and continuing its late-season uptick with a Belk Bowl win over Louisville.

Along the way, strong-armed QB Mike Glennon tossed 31 TD passes and proved a worthy successor to Russell Wilson, whose departure to Wisconsin for his senior year caused O'Brien lots of grief for a while with the Raleigh fan base. Now, Glennon is on the radar screen of many NFL teams. Like Florida State, however, NC State was imbalanced (its rushing game ranked just 98th in the country in 2011), and star WR T.J. Graham will be catching passes this fall for the Buffalo Bills, but Glennon's presence should compensate.

The defense should retain its big-play bent, especially with all four starters back in the secondary, including the nation's top interceptor, CB David Amerson. The Pack's 27 interceptions last year ranked first in the nation. Mike Archer's "D" also generated a whopping 40 sacks last fall (ranked 8th nationally) despite the DL suffering numerous injury woes. Overall, seven starters return on the stop unit.

Technical notes: O'Brien has been a pointspread force, recording a 35-19 spread mark over his last 54 games on the board. The real time to "buy" on O'Brien Wolfpack has come after game five; since moving to Raleigh from BC in 2007, O'Brien is 26-9 vs. the number down the stretch. Also note O'Brien's postseason prowess, as his teams at BC and NCS have won eight of their last nine bowls outright, covering the spread in each!

NC State's 16/1 price to win the ACC might represent the best value in the loop. The 'Pack, under O'Brien, remains a well-kept secret.

Clemson (9/2): Dabo Swinney was in some hot water in Death Valley when last season began, but quieted most of his critics when the Tigers wound up winning the ACC after a title-game rout of Virginia Tech, the second one-sided romp over the Hokies a year ago.

Notice how we said "most" of the IPTAY crowd was quieted by last season's results; a vocal minority was not pleased when the defense collapsed down the stretch as Clemson lost three of its last four regular season games, then was bombed 70-33 by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Indeed, Swinney stands on less-firm footing with the Tiger backers than many might suspect.

Still, prospects are encouraging for this fall thanks to the return of prolific junior QB Tajh Boyd and electric soph WR/KR Sammie Watkins (though Watkins will be suspended for the first two games of 2012 following a misdemeanor marijuana and controlled-substance charge). The strike force came alive under new offensive coordinator Chad Morris last fall and almost all of the skill weapons return, including now-healthy RB Andre Ellington, but three key starters along the OL must be replaced.

The "D" has a new coordinator (Brent Venables, Bob Stoops' defensive coordinator for several years at Oklahoma), and the back seven returns almost intact. But there are major questions along a DL that must blood three new starters and was routinely pushed around last season.

Technical notes: Dabo's Clemson teams have tended to start fast and finish slow against the number; they're 14-6-1 vs. the line in the first seven games the past three seasons, but just 6-12 vs. points in their last six games. In other words, the polar opposite of O'Brien's pattern at NC State.

The Tigers are also being quoted at 8½ for a season-win total. Given the question marks along both lines, we're not sure Dabo exceeds that mark. Nor do we believe Dabo's 9/2 ACC win price provides much value.

Wake Forest (28/1): The Demon Deacons at least stopped the bleeding last fall when returning to the bowl mix after two subpar seasons. That bowls are now expected in Winston-Salem is a credit to respected head coach Jim Grobe, although Wake appears a few notches beneath its strongest teams of a few years ago (including the surprise 2006 ACC championship side).

Offensive imbalance, a recurring theme at various ACC outposts a year ago, also reared its ugly head with the Deacs last fall when they ranked a very un-Grobe-like 99th in national rush stats. That is partly explained by star RB Josh Harris' hamstring woes that limited his contributions. Harris, however, looked healthy again in spring, and junior southpaw QB Tanner Price is firmly entrenched as the offensive pilot after passing for 3017 yards and 20 TDs last fall. Don't expect Wake to be as pass-happy this fall, although regional scouts insist that RS frosh wideout Sherman Ragland III could emerge as a human highlight reel and soften the loss of star WR Chris Givens, who declared early for the NFL Draft and was selected by the St. Louis Rams.

The Deacons' defensive improvement last season was relative; they shaved 9.0 ppg off of their 2010 allowance, but still conceded 27.4 ppg. Last year's switch to 3-4 alignments by defensive coordinator Brian Knorr proved a boost, but Wake must improve upon the mere 11 sacks it recorded. Defenders to watch are unblockable NG Nikita Whitlock and CB Merrill Noel.

Technical notes: Although Wake covered its only game (vs. Maryland) when laying 7 points or more last season, that sort of chalk role has been mostly poisonous for the Grobe Deac teams, who have covered just five of their last 24 laying a TD or more.

A back-loaded schedule (Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, and improved Vanderbilt in four of the last five games) and the defensive concerns make it unlikely the Deacs challenge for Atlantic honors, although another bowl visit is hardly out of the question.

Boston College (50/1): Although we wouldn't want to be the one to tell intimidating Eagles head coach Frank Spaziani that his services might no longer be required (we'll leave that up to AD Gene DeFilippo), ACC sources confirm that the mustachioed BC mentor is in a must-win situation this fall after last season's collapse to a 4-8 mark and first non-bowl season since 1998.

Spaziani's problem area lately has been on offense, where the Eagles ranked in triple digits nationally in scoring and yardage. So conservative is Spaziani that it is said he could be comfy with Pat Buchanan as offensive coordinator, but instead has opted for ex-Kent State coach Doug Martin to reboot the strike force. Unfortunately, Martin inherits few playmakers, and junior QB Chase Rettig has played in fits and spurs the past two seasons, completing only 53.6 percent of his passes a year ago. Moreover, the school's all-time leading rusher, Montel Harris, hampered by knee woes last year before getting a medical hardship redshirt, was booted from the team in spring and ended up transferring to Temple.

Spaziani's specialty is defense, but last year's Eagle stop unit slipped from the one that led the nation in rush "D" the previous year. And that was with do-everything LB Luke Kuechly (a first-round draft choice of the Carolina Panthers) in the fold. The platoon still looks formidable up the middle, especially with DT Kaleb Ramsey having returned from injury, but there are questions in a secondary that contributed to a lowly 81st ranking in pass defense last fall.

Technical notes: Despite last year's downturn, Spaziani's BC continued to excel in an underdog role, one in which it has covered nine of its last 11 chances. Conversely, Alumni Stadium has proven no benefit to Eagle spread fortunes lately, as Spaziani is just 3-10 vs. the number at Chestnut Hill the past two seasons.

Unless Spaziani gets to .500 and back to another bowl (and we're having trouble identifying more than five wins), and the offense emerges from its recent horse-and-buggy mode, BC might be looking for a new coach in December. If so, we're just glad we're not going to be the ones who have to tell Spaziani.

Maryland (80/1): What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? They often go awry, which perfectly described Maryland's meltdown a year ago to a 2-10 disaster in Randy Edsall's forgettable first season in charge at College Park.

Indeed, the Terps deserved it after their tactless treatment of predecessor Ralph Friedgen, who got the boot despite leading Maryland to a 9-4 mark and a bowl win in 2010. Moreover, James Franklin, designated the coach-in-waiting for the Terps during Friedgen's tenure, skipped town for Vanderbilt, where he became an overnight sensation when leading the 'Dores to a rare bowl bid.

Nothing seemed to go right last fall for Edsall, who among other things has run off at least 25 of the players Friedgen left behind and reportedly dealt with a mutinous squad last fall. Recruiting is said to have improved, but we are skeptical about Edsall's new coordinator hires, especially new offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who when last seen was destroying the New Mexico program.

Locksley will be installing an up-tempo, no-huddle, pro-style attack with a spread-option emphasis geared around junior QB C.J. Brown, who performed with some flair on occasion last fall. But among those departures were some possible key contributors at RB, and remember that Brown completed only 49 percent of his passes in 2011. Thus, we're not sure how much ballyhooed frosh WR Stefon Diggs might help. The offensive line was also gutted by transfer, and only one starter returns. We are also unconvinced that Locksley is an upgrade from previous offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.

Defense was even worse than the offense, and new coordinator Brian Stewart (recently at U of Houston; previously with the Dallas Cowboys) is hoping a change to 3-4 alignments will help.

Technical notes: Edsall, whose UConn teams were often formidable vs. the number (indeed, they were 32-18 vs. the line during his last four years at Storrs), suffered badly against the spread as well as straight up a year ago when the Terps covered just two of 12 on the board. By the end of the season, Maryland might have been the premier go-against in the country, dropping its last seven SU and vs. the line.

There are reports from some ACC sources that Edsall could even be in trouble this fall if the Terps flounder once more, citing recent examples at Kansas (Turner Gill) and Akron (Rob Ianello) where coaches were cast adrift after just two seasons. The Terps should improve enough to give Edsall another year to turn things around, but a bowl bid looks very unlikely.

ACC COASTAL

Virginia Tech (3/1): If it seems like Frank Beamer has been around forever at VPI, well, he has; Beamer, entering his 26th season in charge at his alma mater, is now the winningest (251) and longest-tenured head coach in the country following the changes at Penn State.

Don't be dissuaded by the fact that Beamer returns only two starters on this year's Hokie offense; one of those junior QB Logan Thomas, who matured into a force by the end of last season. Moreover, ACC scouts report that true frosh RBs J.C. Coleman (a scatback who provided lots of ooh and ahh moments in spring) and Trey Edmunds, along with RS frosh Michael Holmes, will compensate nicely for departed RB David Wilson, a first-round draft choice of the NY Giants. The receiving corps is similarly filled with promise and a bit more experience than the new-look RBs.

As usual, however, it's on defense where VPI excels, and longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster might have one of his better platoons (and that's saying something) this fall with eight starters back n the fold. Foster's stop unit allowed only 17.6 ppg in 2011 (7th nationally) and returns plenty of playmakers, Foster's entire DL returns, led by gap-plugging DT Luther Maddy, while CB Kyle Fuller is regarded as VPI's best DB since DeAngelo Hall.

What we'll want to see is if Beamer can reinvigorate his trademark special teams that, among other shortcomings last fall, didn't record a kick block vs. a BCS foe for the first time in Frank's 25 years as head coach.

Technical notes: Interestingly, despite last year's 11-3 record, the Hokies recorded their worst-ever spread mark (4-10) under Beamer. That was likely an aberration (VPI was 10-4 vs. the line in 2010), and note that the Hokies have been overachieving vs. the number away from home for almost a decade, as a 34-18 spread mark since 2004 would indicate.

VPI is also being quoted at 9½ for a season-win total, which we believe the Hokies can exceed. The 3/1 win price in the ACC is also worth a look...because we project VPI as the likely winner of the loop.

Georgia Tech (12/1): We've been fans of Paul Johnson since his days at Georgia Southern, prior to his stint as Navy's head coach, so we're not surprised he has been winning consistently since arriving in Atlanta, with bowl visits each of the past four years.

We wonder, however, if Johnson's Yellow Jackets are bumping their head against a ceiling that is unlikely to move up with the ground-oriented option offense that Johnson employs. As has been the case the past few years, the option provides real headaches for most foes, but the better, quicker, lateral-pursuit stop units on the schedule have been able to slow the Johnson option in its tracks.

Expect more of the same this fall with seven starters back on offense, including QB Tevin Washington, a legit big-play threat who can stretch the field with his arm. But the passing game must grow from its 122nd national ranking last season if Tech wants to make a serious run up the rankings and perhaps at the BCS. The option should move again on the ground (the Ramblin' Wreck ranked 2nd in national rush stats last year) with four starters back along the OL and David Sims ready to assume feature-back duties.

The switch to a 3-4 defense under veteran coordinator Al Groh had mixed results last season, but seven starters are back in the fold, and Groh has high hopes for a linebacking crew that features plenty of potential playmakers, led by OLB Jeremiah Attaochu. Three starters also return in the secondary, where junior Lewis Young has emerged as a shutdown corner.

Technical notes: The word has gotten out on Johnson, whose teams at Navy and first two years at Tech were notorious spread overachievers. But with that success came spread premiums, and Johnson's Jackets have recorded losing spread marks (5-7-1 and 5-8) the past two seasons. Tech also lost seven of its last eight vs. the line last year.

The 12/1 ACC win price looks interesting, but note the difficult road trips to Virginia Tech (in the opener) and Clemson.

Virginia (18/1): Cavs coach Mike London has suddenly become very in-demand after last year's 8-5 breakthrough in Charlottesville. Expect London, who said no to Penn State last December, to continue to be pursued by suitors, although the Virginia job is much better than most imagine, especially since the Cavs have been able to slip more special admits through the admissions office since the early days of AL Groh's regime. Not to mention the proximity to the talent-rich Tidelands and metro D.C. areas.

The main questions London must answer in 2012 revolve around his defense, which lost seven starters and requires big-time rebuilding on the DL and secondary. This fall will provide the first real test of London's supposed recruiting inroads, as most of the replacement parts have arrived since London took the job in 2010. Getting DE Billy Schautz back from injury ought to help a pass rush that ranked a poor 90th in sacks, while ACC sources say to keep an eye on touted frosh DE Eli Harold.

The "O" figures to upgrade after junior Michael Rocco established himself as the QB last fall when passing for 2671 yards in his starting debut. The Cavs are loaded at RB, with TB Perry 'Superman" Jones the featured performer after recording 1458 yards worth of offense last fall, although new go-to receivers must emerge after the graduation of last year's top target Kris Burd.

Technical notes: London's teams have played mostly good defense the past two years, partially accounting for a 10-3-1 'under' mark the last 14 games since late in the 2010 campaign, although we suspect that might change this fall with the stop unit in rebuild mode and the offense prepared to engage in shootouts if needed.

The Cavs are not likely to sneak up on anybody this fall and might even slip back from last year's eight wins. Also note the eight straight losses vs. hated VPI.

North Carolina (no ACC win odds due to probation): Larry Fedora arrives from Southern Miss to clean up a Tar Heel program that ran into all sorts of trouble during the Butch Davis years and was hit with stiff NCAA penalties in March, which include a bowl ban this fall. Subsequent transgressions have been uncovered that could further stiffen the penalties, hardly what Fedora or new AD Bubba Cunningham need as they break into their jobs.

Fedora at least isn't inheriting a carcass of a program from last year's interim head coach Everett Withers, who fashioned a 7-6 mark and a bowl bid. Fedora imports his up-tempo spread offense from Hattiesburg and thinks he has a proper offensive pilot in junior QB Bryn Renner, who completed 68 percent of his passes last fall and hit on 23-of-28 tosses when running the new offense in the spring game. Soph RB Gio Bernard was also a revelation in 2011 when he became the Heels' first 1000 yard rusher since 1997, although Fedora enters fall looking for multiples of reliable receiving targets beyond rangy deep threat Erik Highsmith (51 catches LY).

The Heels have also switched their defensive alignment to a 4-2-5 under new coordinator Dan Disch, but have some reloading to do on the front line after DE Quinton Coples (Jets' first-round pick) and DT Tydreke Powell (spending summer in the Minnesota Vikings camp) departed after last year. Tre Boston, however, is one of the ACC's top DBs.

Technical notes: Fedora's Southern Miss teams usually offered good spread value as an underdog (9-5 in role).

Miami (12/1): Al Golden might be wondering what he got himself into with the 'Canes, whose off-field problems regarding the Nevin Shapiro scandal have yet to be resolved. NCAA penalties might be coming later this season; the Hurricanes are hoping their self-imposed bowl band last season might grant them some leniency with the NCAA, but similar self-imposed sanctions by North Carolina didn't seem to help the Heels in their recent issues with the governing body.

Spring football didn't accomplished much for the 'Canes, either, with so many offensive contributors out with injury, including QB Stephen Morris (who should be ready for fall practice), although even when healthy in the past, he's been inconsistent. The offense was also thinned by early defections to the NFL by RB Lamar Miller, WR Tommy Streeter and OL Brandon Washington.

The defense must do some shoring up in the secondary after allowing 66 percent completions last season, although playmakers should abound in an experienced DB crew that features three seniors led by safeties Vaughn Telemaque and Ray-Ray Armstrong. Up front, keeping 300-lb.DT Curtis Porter (who has NFL potential) healthy will be key.

Technical notes: Golden has been mostly "golden" vs. the number in recent years at Temple and even with the Hurricanes last season, when they recorded a decent 7-5 spread mark. Since 2007 with the Owls, Golden is 30-18 vs. the line, including a solid 17-9 mark as an underdog.

But with offensive issues galore and NCAA penalties on the horizon, we are hardly bullish regarding Miami's chances this fall.

Duke (80/1): While expectations are lower in Durham, the Blue Devils don't want to lose forever. Which is why David Cutcliffe is reportedly under the gun this fall to at least get Duke to .500 and into a bowl for the first time since his arrival in 2008, not to mention for the program since 1994.

The Blue Devils don't appear as outmanned as usual this fall, however, with 15 starters back in the fold from a team that wasn't far from a breakthrough last fall despite its 3-9 record (four of those losses were by 7 points or fewer). Still, Cutcliffe's specialty is supposedly on offense, but he doesn't have former pupils Peyton and Eli Manning at his disposal in Durham. Instead, he had Sean Renfree, whose NFL stock could rise if he gets a bit more help from an annually anemic ground game that ranked a lowly 115th in national rush stats last fall. Expect Cutcliffe to also make added use of his other QBs, versatile Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone, with all three QBs likely on the field at times this fall.

Defense, or lack thereof, remains Duke's Achilles heel after ranking 92nd in total "D" and 90th in scoring defense last fall despite a switch to 4-2-5 alignments by defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The platoon returns eight starters but remains short on impact performers. A healthy return of DE Kenny Anunike from a knee injury early last season could goose the pass rush.

Technical notes: Despite the failure to crack .500, Cutcliffe's Duke teams have offered decent value as an underdog, covering 10 of their last 15 getting points. Surprisingly, Cutcliffe has yet to post a losing spread mark in his four years as Duke's coach and is 25-17-3 vs. the line overall in that span.

But Cutcliffe has to post a winning straight-up record sooner or later to continue drawing paychecks from Duke. We're not sure he'll get another mulligan if he falls short again (as expected) this season.

Follow Don Best throughout the preseason as we preview each and every football conference: ACC ...

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cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/25/2012 11:38 PM

Changes Afoot In Big East Football For 2012

The Big East Conference has undergone some major football changes with West Virginia replaced by Temple, and even more changes are coming next season.

The West Virginia loss was a big one as arguably the best team over the past decade, while Temple is projected to finish at the bottom of the conference the next couple of years.

Let’s start our analysis with coaching. Cincinnati’s Butch Jones is the reigning Coach of the Year and there are new head men this season at Rutgers (Kyle Flood) and Pittsburgh (Paul Chryst).

Chryst takes over at Pitt after being the successful Wisconsin offensive coordinator. He is the fifth Panthers coach over the last two years if you include interim guys, but Chryst should bring stability as he mimics the successful Badgers program.

Second-year coaches are Connecticut’s Paul Pasqualoni and Temple’s Steve Addazio who did a good job taking over for Al Golden last year. The Owls went 9-4 straight up and against the spread out of the MAC, winning the New Mexico Bowl.

Don Best’s Kenny White thinks the three best coaches are entering their third year. South Florida’s Skip Holtz always overachieves, including going 38-25 ATS while previously at East Carolina. Jones is another third-year coach and he helped Cincy to a 10-win season after just four in 2010.

Louisville’s Charlie Strong has improved the defense by six points per game and has the team’s most returning defensive starters in the last seven years. The Cardinals opened at eight for a win total this year and shaded to the ‘over’, but it’s now up to 9½ in some shops. White likes sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but the strong ‘D’ could lead to a lot of ‘unders’ after going 7-4 in that category last year.

Bridgewater was the Big East Rookie of the Year with a 65 percent completion percentage. Another quarterback is senior B.J. Daniels with over 6,000 career passing yards and 1,600 rushing yards. He could have his best year yet with 33 starts under his belt.

Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib is another senior with a 62 percent completion rate, and 22 TDs versus just nine picks. He also has good size to go along with the experience.

A final senior is Pittsburgh Tino Sunseri, but he needs to improve after 10 TDs and 11 interceptions last year. He will benefit from the more run-based offense of Chryst and two very good running backs in Ray Graham and expected freshman phenom Rushel Shell.

Connecticut’s Lyle McCombs is a running back to watch besides the Pittsburgh duo. He is small at 5-foot-8 and 166 pounds, but he rushed for 1,151 yards as a freshman last year.

Turning our attention to wideout, Syracuse senior Alec Lemon is on the preseason Biletnikoff award list. He had 68 catches last year and is expected to have another big season. Rutgers’ Brandon Coleman is a 6-foot-6 redshirt sophomore and averaged an incredible 32.5 yards per catch on just 17 receptions last season (552 yards).

Defense will again play a big part for the eventual conference champ. Rutgers has a tackling machine in weakside linebacker Khaseem Greene, the co-Defensive Player of the Year. Connecticut has three linebackers who can all help stop the run and defensive end Trevardo Williams can really get after the quarterback with 12.5 sacks last season (19 in his career). UConn’s defense will be solid.

White predicts that this conference will come down to South Florida and Louisville. They meet October 20th at Louisville. Coach Holtz was just 1-6 in the conference last year, but five of those losses came after leading in the second half. South Florida has nine guys back on both offense and defense.

One betting trend to keep an eye on is Syracuse and the ‘over.’ The defense is suspect and the offense will put up points, especially in the perfect conditions of the Carrier Dome.

Below are the odds to win the conference this season, with the numbers showing consensus figures as of Tuesday, July 24:


SCHOOL BIG EAST ODDS
Cincinnati 7/2

Connecticut 30/1

Louisville 5/2

Pittsburgh 6/1

Rutgers 8/1

South Florida 3/1

Syracuse 25/1

Temple 20/1

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/25/2012 11:41 PM

College Football Preview: SEC East

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. Next up is the SEC East. The SEC has produced the past six national champions with SEC West foes Alabama beating LSU in the 2012 BCS Championship Game.

Odds to Win SEC
(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
9-to-2: Georgia
6-to-1: Florida
12-to-1: South Carolina
25-to-1: Tennessee
50-to-1: Missouri
100-to-1: Kentucky
100-to-1: Vanderbilt


GEORGIA BULLDOGS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-4 (7-1 in SEC)
ATS Record: 8-6
Over/Under: 7-7
Points Scored: 32.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 15/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
QB Aaron Murray (3,149 pass yds, 35 TD, 14 INT) is back, along with a wealth of talent at WR. But Georgia’s offensive line is inexperienced, and the dismissal of top-tier RB Isaiah Crowell leaves the running game in flux. The Bulldogs’ defense brings back nine starters and could be the nation’s best unit. Georgia has an easy schedule for an SEC team, and could make another trip to the SEC title game.



FLORIDA GATORS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (3-5 in SEC)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 25.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
As it has since Urban Meyer left, Florida’s offense will struggle. QBs Jacoby Brisset and Jeff Driskel both look decent, but underachievers will surround whoever starts under center. Speed and versatility hasn’t yet translated on on-field production for several top recruits. The Gators’ strength will again be their defense as they return a plethora of NFL talent. Their deep and explosive D-line might be the nation’s best.



SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (6-2 in SEC)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 30.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
This could be the best team Steve Spurrier has had since arriving at South Carolina. QB Connor Shaw proved to be solid last season (65.4% completions, 14 TD, 6 INT; 8 rush TD in final six games) and RB Marcus Lattimore (818 rush yds, 5.0 YPC, 10 TD) should be fully recovered from his knee injury and ready for a Heisman campaign. The team is confident in its group of receivers, and the offensive line should be a lot better than it was last year. If the Gamecocks get consistent play from their secondary, they should be at least as good as they were a year ago. Sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney (8 sacks) has superstar potential and should make this defense among the best in the land.



TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (1-7 in SEC)
ATS Record: 4-7-1
Over/Under: 4-6-1
Points Scored: 20.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 150/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 10
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Tennessee is looking to climb back up the ranks of the SEC. Former NFL and Alabama assistant Sal Sunseri takes over as defensive coordinator and is going to have to bring out some untapped potential in his defensive line and secondary. On offense, the Vols return QB Tyler Bray (283 passing YPG, 17 TD, 6 INT) and stud WR Justin Hunter, who totaled 302 receiving yards in the only two full games he played before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. The running game should improve too, as Tennessee is getting back every offensive lineman it had last year, and there is enough talent at running back to make up for the loss of departed senior RB Tauren Poole. The best of the lot should be sophomore Marlin Lane, who had just 75 carries as a freshman.



MISSOURI TIGERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (5-4 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 32.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The Tigers are lucky to have most of their starters back at skill positions. Dual threat QB James Franklin (2,865 pass yds, 21 TD; 981 rush yds, 15 TD) gets back outstanding targets in WRs T.J Moe (649 rec yds, 4 TD) and Marcus Lucas (414 rec yds, 5 TD). RB Henry Josey (1,168 rush yds, 9 TD) is likely out for the year with a knee injury, but Kendial Lawrence (566 rush yds, 5 TD) is a capable replacement. This offense will be able to put up points in a hurry if the offensive line holds up. On the defensive side, the Tigers bring back an experienced secondary, but their top linemen, DE Brad Madison and DT Sheldon Richardson, both missed the spring with shoulder injuries. They’ll need to get healthy and have big years for Missouri to be competitive in the SEC.



KENTUCKY WILDCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (2-6 in SEC)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 5-6-1
Points Scored: 15.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Last season was definitely one to forget for the Wildcats, whose offense had trouble scoring in the worst of ways (15.8 PPG, 4th-worst in FBS). Things should be a little better in 2012 mainly because the team has finally decided to stick with one quarterback. Maxwell Smith struggled at times as a freshman, but he did show signs of promise with a 283-yard, two-TD game against Ole Miss in November. This team will need guys to step up around him though. Defensively, they couldn’t stop any of the SEC powerhouses, and although they have some starters returning and some promising new recruits, it’s likely going to be another tough year for this defense.



VANDERBILT COMMODORES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (2-6 in SEC)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 26.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 21.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
This has the look of a promising season for the Commodores as their top three offensive players return in QB Jordan Rodgers (1,524 pass yds, 9 TD, 10 INT), RB Zac Stacy (1,193 rush yds, 14 TD) and WR Jordan Matthews (778 rec yds, 5 TD). The success of this team is ultimately going to come down to the defense, which loses several key players from a unit that overachieved by allowing just 323 total YPG (18th in nation) and ranking 29th in FBS in points allowed (21.6 PPG). Yet the Commodores still finished only 2-6 in SEC play, beating only Ole Miss and Kentucky at home for their two conference victories.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/27/2012 11:42 AM

College Football Preview: Big 12


To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. Next up is the Big 12 which will have two new members this season, TCU and West Virginia, who replace Missouri and Texas A&M.

Odds to Win Big 12
Even: Oklahoma
4-to-1: West Virginia
4-to-1: TCU
17-to-4: Texas
8-to-1: Kansas State
16-to-1: Oklahoma State
18-to-1: Baylor
25-to-1: Texas Tech
55-to-1: Iowa State
125-to-1: Kansas


OKLAHOMA SOONERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (6-3 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 39.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 8/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
After starting the 2011 season as the favorites to win the BCS National Championship, the Sooners faltered down the stretch, losing four of their final seven games. A lot of it had to do with injuries to top offensive players WR Ryan Broyles and RB Dominique Whaley, but QB Landry Jones also struggled with 1 TD and 6 INT in his final four games, losing twice. Jones is Oklahoma’s all-time leading passer though, and he has talented weapons to use including junior WR Kenny Stills (849 rec yds, 8 TD). With Whaley (627 rush yds, 5.5 YPC, 9 TD in 6 games) and Roy Finch (605 rush yds, 5.5 YPC) running behind a great offensive line, the Sooners offense will remain explosive. The secondary has a lot of potential, but it’s a unit that struggled last year (241 passing YPG allowed, 79th in FBS). However, the front seven is fierce, returning most of the players that helped the Sooners rank among the nation’s top-12 in both sacks (3.1 per game) and Tackles For Loss (7.5 per game).



WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 9-4
Points Scored: 37.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 26.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 60/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
Another team that finds itself trying to steal the thunder in the Big 12 is the Mountaineers. Geno Smith returns as the quarterback after throwing for 4,385 yards, 31 TD and just 7 INT last season. He capped his season by picking apart Clemson in the Orange Bowl for 407 yards, 6 TD and 0 INT. Smith is getting his two favorite targets back in Stedman Bailey (1,279 rec yds, 12 TD) and Tavon Austin (1,186 rec yds, 8 TD), so this WVU offense is going to remain one of the best in the nation. The problem comes on the defensive side of the ball, where the Mountaineers allowed 31.3 PPG in their final seven games. The Big 12 offenses are much more potent than the Big East and WVU’s best D-lineman in 2011, Bruce Irvin, was a first round pick in the NFL draft.



TCU HORNED FROGS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (7-0 in Mountain West)
ATS Record: 5-7-1
Over/Under: 10-3
Points Scored: 40.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 21.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 100/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
TCU now moves to the Big 12 complete with a $164 million overhaul of its stadium, which will remain a difficult place to win for any opponent. The Horned Frogs are fresh off a 10-2 season with their only blemishes coming at Baylor (50-48) and an overtime loss to SMU. The majority of their starters return, including junior QB Casey Pachall (2,921 pass yds, 25 TD, 7 INT) and senior RB Matthew Tucker (702 rush yds, 12 TD), who were both keys in the team scoring 40.9 PPG last year (9th in FBS). The offensive line has a lot of openings, but they should be good enough by the start of the season to support this explosive backfield that rushed for 209 YPG in 2011. While the Horned Frogs have a dominant defensive line and quality linebackers, their secondary could be a problem against the strong passing offenses in the Big 12.



TEXAS LONGHORNS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 8-5 (4-5 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 28.1 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 15/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
After two straight losing seasons in Big 12 play, Texas is confident it can get back to the top of the conference standings in 2012. To do so, the defense will have to lead them there. Despite playing in an explosive offensive conference, the Longhorns finished 11th in the nation in total defense (306 YPG), holding five of their final seven opponents to 20 points or less. Most of this unit remains intact, highlighted by a stellar secondary. There are still question marks on offense, namely QB with the underwhelming duo of David Ash (4 TD, 8 INT) and Case McCoy (7 TD, 4 INT) returning. Texas will be able to run the football again (203 rush YPG) with a bevy of talented backs, most notably Joe Bergeron (463 rush yds, 6.4 YPC, 5 TD) and Malcolm Brown (742 rush yds, 5 TD).



KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (7-2 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 31.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 150/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Kansas State snuck up on the rest of the Big 12 last year, finishing second only to Oklahoma State in the conference. This year the Wildcats will surprise nobody as they return QB Collin Klein and eight other offensive starters. Klein threw for 1,918 yards and 13 TD, and rushed for 1,141 yards and 27 TD (tied for 2nd in FBS). He is one of the premier dual-threat QBs in the game and rarely makes mistakes (6 INT in 300 career pass attempts). Junior RB John Hubert is also tough to bring down, rushing for 970 yards last season. The Wildcats have a solid secondary and linebacking corps, but if they want to take the next step and win the Big 12, they must do a better job pressuring the quarterback (1.6 sacks per game, 84th in FBS).



OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 12-1 (8-1 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 7-6
Points Scored: 48.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 26.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Reality sets in this year for Cowboys fans as the best QB-WR tandem in college football (Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon) has moved on to the NFL. OSU will replace Weeden with Wes Lunt, a freshman who ran a similar offense in high school and sparkled in spring practice. OSU was able to put up 48.7 PPG last year (2nd in FBS), thanks to the best turnover margin in the nation and 26 total TD from RB Joseph Randle, who finished with 1,216 rushing yards on 5.8 YPC. Senior WR Tracy Moore (672 rec yds, 4 TD) moves up to take Blackmon’s No. 1 receiver spot. The Cowboys defense ranked among the top-40 teams in the nation in both sacks (2.2 per game) and Tackles For Loss (7.0 per game), but allowed a whopping 272 pass YPG in the pass-happy Big 12. But there is talent in the secondary, and most of last year’s defense, which held Texas Tech to six points and Oklahoma to 10, returns for the 2012 season.



BAYLOR BEARS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (6-3 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 11-2
Points Scored: 45.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 37.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Baylor begins life after the Robert Griffin III era, and it’s not looking too hot. The Bears will now rely on senior Nick Florence at the quarterback position. Florence played well in the one game he started against Texas Tech last year (165 total yards, 3 TD), but he has more career picks (nine) than TD passes (eight). One name to look out for is RB Lache Seastrunk, who transferred from Oregon after being connected to the probe into the Ducks’ use of a Texas-based prep scouting service. The offense also loses RB Terrance Ganaway and WR Kendall Wright, who combined for 36 TD in 2011, but senior WR Terrance Williams (957 rec yds, 11 TD) does return. Defensively, the Bears couldn’t stop anybody last year (488 YPG, 5th-most in FBS) and were always involved in high-scoring shootouts, allowing 37.2 PPG (8th-most in nation). Without Griffin III to bail them out, this defensive unit, which returns all but three starters, will need to be much better in 2012.



TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (2-7 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 8-3
Points Scored: 33.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 39.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
After a miserable year on the defensive side of the ball, Tommy Tuberville brought in UNC’s Art Kaufman as defensive coordinator. He’s looking to spice things up for a unit that allowed 39.3 PPG and 486 YPG, which both placed among the seven worst schools in FBS. Kaufman and the nine returning defensive starters have no place to go but up this season. However, the Red Raiders should remain a top-notch offensive squad after gaining 472 YPG with 33.8 PPG last year. Senior QB Seth Doege is returning after a year in which he threw for 4,004 yards, 28 TD and just 10 INT. RB Eric Stephens will also be back after a dislocated knee derailed a season in which he had 565 rushing yards (5.2 YPC) and 8 TD in just five games. Texas Tech was 4-0 when he got hurt and lost seven of its final eight games without him.



IOWA STATE CYCLONES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (3-6 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 22.7 PPG
Points Allowed: 29.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
Iowa State showed flashes last year, upsetting 10-0 Oklahoma State in November, but the Cyclones lacked consistency, losing seven of their final 10 games. Although QB Jared Barnett threw for 376 yards and 3 TD against OSU, he struggled down the stretch and opened up a QB controversy with Steele Jantz that will continue in 2012. The Cyclones are losing two of their better WRs and quality players on their offensive line, but top RB James White (743 rush yds, 8 TD) comes back. On the other side of the ball, the defensive line said goodbye to three starters on a team that generated just 1.3 sacks per game (106th in FBS). The Cyclones do get back LB A.J Klein, who recorded a team-high 116 total tackles last season. It will take a lot of maturing for Iowa State to get back to a bowl game this year, but if there’s one thing that can be said about the Cyclones, it’s that you can never completely count them out.



KANSAS JAYHAWKS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-10 (0-9 in Big 12)
ATS Record: 6-6
Over/Under: 6-5
Points Scored: 22.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 43.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 10
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The Turner Gill experiment with the Jayhawks failed miserably and that ultimately led Kansas to the hiring of Charlie Weis. The head coach made a big move for his new program by getting his former QB Dayne Crist to transfer from Notre Dame. Crist (16 TD, 9 INT, 6.9 YPA in career) has a strong arm and leadership qualities to provide stability at the most important position in football. Junior RB James Sims (727 rush yds, 9 TD) and speedy sophomore Tony Pierson (88-yd TD run in spring game) are the keys to a strong rushing attack. The defense ranked last among all 120 FBS teams in both yards (516 YPG) and scoring (43.8 PPG), and will most likely struggle again as they lost a few starters and didn’t land any big-time transfers or recruits

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/30/2012 04:45 PM

Oklahoma Sooners Top List Of Big 12 Contenders

Casey Pachall and TCU are newcomers to the Big 12 for the 2012 season.

A year ago at this time, we weren’t sure how much longer we were going to be writing about the Big 12. The league had seen four member schools peel away in a 12-month period and barely survived a pair of raids from the Pac-12. There was talk of more defections, including conference glue sides Texas and Oklahoma. The future hardly seemed promising.

Now, however, things are looking much brighter in the midlands. Texas, with its own Longhorn Network spooking several suitors, for the moment seems content in the Big 12. Further defections seem unlikely. A new mega-TV deal for the conference has been signed. And in the new order of college football with a four-team playoff now just two years away, the Big 12 has positioned itself pretty well, locking itself into a new bowl featuring its champ against the SEC champ (providing neither are in the four-team playoff) in what could also become a staple of the mini-tournament.

And while the league won’t have 12 teams for the second consecutive year, it has at least replenished the most-recent defections of Missouri and Texas A&M (off to the SEC this year) by adding West Virginia and TCU. A return to a 12-team loop (or perhaps 14 of 16 team) appears a near certainty in the near future, with several targets from the Big East and ACC (including Florida State) already having been identified. We’re betting that it won’t be a "10-team Big 12" too much longer.

Plenty of intriguing storylines are on deck for the league this fall. Let’s hopscotch around the landscape and seek out the top contenders, top performers, top newcomers and coaches on the hot seat before providing some technical pointspread info and analyses of pricing on the conference title and, where applicable, season wins.

Team To Beat
Oklahoma: Last season ended with a very sour taste in Norman as the Sooners collapsed in November, losing a shootout at Baylor and wiped in the Bedlam matchup at Stillwater vs. hated Okie State. Defensive meltdowns proved costly in those games and an earlier shock loss vs. Texas Tech, but Bob Stoops thinks he might have found an answer to any stop unit woes with brother Mike, recently head coach at Arizona but now on board in Norman as the new defensive coordinator.

More intense than predecessor Brett Venables (now at Clemson), Mike S. altered the scheme in spring, looking to shore up the secondary. But he also inherits a senior pair of defensive tackles (Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee) to control the defensive middle from a line that generated 41 sacks a year ago. One of Stoops’ adjustments in the secondary has moved Tony Jefferson from his former hybrid LB/DB role to being a full-time free safety.

But it’s on offense where OU believes it can really fly, and why not with senior QB Landry Jones (4,463 YP in 2011), a peripheral Heisman Trophy threat. Remember, injuries decimated the OU skill positions last year, but RB Dominique Whaley should be good to go this fall after making a surprise breakthrough before getting hurt last October. The receiving corps should be lethal, too, with former ballyhooed recruit Trey Metoyer finally putting grades and other issues in the rearview mirror. Metoyer, the nation’s top WR recruit a couple of years ago, had a monster spring.

Oh, yes, and what is effectively 17 starters are also back in the Sooner fold. The schedule is also tailor-made for a run at the BCS, especially if OU can get past you-know-who in Dallas on October 13.

Top Contenders
West Virginia: When last seen, the Mountaineers were dropping a 70-point bomb on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Now they enter the Big 12 as one of the new kids on the block (along with TCU). How the adjustment phase for both WVU and league foes evolves makes for a fascinating storyline this fall.

The Mounties’ bread-and-butter remains head coach Dana Holgorsen’s pet spread attack that should be even more lethal after QB Geno Smith's breakthrough 2011 campaign in which he passed for 4,285 yards and 31 TDs. Holgorsen was even more excited after spring work after Smith demonstrated even further competence with the added freedom he is giving to his QB. Wideouts Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey combined for 173 receptions last fall. There are also a slew of capable RBs on hand, as Holgorsen can go quick with whippet-like Dustin Garrison (recovered from a knee injury suffered prior to the Orange Bowl) or big with power back Shawne Alston (12 rush TDs in 2011).

Holgorsen might have some issues on defense, however, as the WVU stop unit lost plenty of key playmakers from a year ago, including DE Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks’ top draft pick, and others who combined for 19½ sacks. Remember, the Mountaineers allowed 27 ppg last fall, so maybe it’s a good thing that co-defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson are dumping WVU’s familiar 3-5 looks for combo 3-4 and 4-3 deployments instead.

West Virginia should get off to a flying start with four straight at Morgantown out of the chute, although the slate becomes considerably tougher once October rolls around, beginning with a trip to Texas on October 6.

Texas Christian: The other new kid on the block, arriving from the Mountain West, rejoins a familiar neighborhood after having been linked with several Big 12 entries from days in the old Southwest Conference. In the 17-year interim, the Frogs have evolved from an also-ran into a national power, a multiple-qualifier for the BCS under head coach Gary Patterson and winner of the Rose Bowl two years ago.

TCU is well-set to trade points in its new league with returning starter junior QB Casey Pachall, who matured into a top-flight leader by the time last season concluded. Pachall, who completed 66 percent of his throws and recorded 25 TD passes last fall, welcomes back three of his top four receivers including big-play target Josh Boyce. On the downside, top RB Ed Wesley had to leave the team due to off-field matters, although Waymon James and Matthew Tucker each exceeded 700 yard rushing in 2011.

Patterson’s pet 4-2-5 defense has been much mimicked, but the Frogs have the built-in advantage of stop unit mastermind Dick Bumpas still coordinating a platoon that has ranked tops in the country five different times in the past 11 seasons. A complete rebuild in the secondary has Frog backers concerned, but three of four starters are back on the DL, led by sackmeister DE Stansly Maponga (9½ sacks in 2011).

Sources say Patterson and staff dealt quickly with off-season distractions involving academics and a campus-wide drug sting that also cost TCU key defenders LBs Tanner Brock and Deryck Gildon along with DT D.J. Yendrey. Still, the residue from those developments can hardly be considered a positive. We’ll see how the Frogs respond.

Oklahoma State: So far have the Cowboys progressed under head coach Mike Gundy that even the losses of a couple of NFL first-round draft choices (WR Justin Blackmon & QB Brandon Weeden) from last year’s 12-1, Fiesta Bowl-winner haven’t dampened enthusiasm in Stillwater. The Cowboys are still loaded.

Interestingly, OSU goes from the oldest QB in college football a year ago (Weeden, then 28) to one of the youngest this fall in 18-year-old true frosh Wes Lunt, who wowed observers in spring. Matching last year’s video football numbers (No 3 in total offense, No. 2 in passing, No. 2 in scoring at 48.7 ppg) might be a neat trick, but Gundy believes Lunt has what it takes to run the Cowboy spread effectively right from the opener vs. Savannah State on September 1. Still, expect OSU to feature more of its ground game in the early going behind RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, who combined for 1,862 yards rushing in 2011. Gundy also expects this year’s receivers, led by senior Tracy Moore, to be highly productive.

Eight starters return from an opportunistic stop unit that forced a nation’s leading 44 turnovers last fall, including 24 interceptions; the Cowboys’ +21 TO margin was the nation’s best. Replicating those numbers won’t be easy, but 3/4 of last year’s heat-seeking secondary returns, led by CBs Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. Touted juco DT Calvin Barnett figures to come in handy up front.

Top Performers
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Figures to be in the Heisman Trophy mix after passing for 29 TDs and better than 4,400 yards a year ago despite injuries to some of his key weapons.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: The perfect triggerman for HC Dona Holgorsen’s spread offense, Smith dazzled in 2011 when tossing 31 TDs. No one in the Big 12 has had to face Smith yet, either, so the surprise factor might play in his favor. A stealth Heisman candidate, perhaps?

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: The Frogs might have to do a bit more leaning on Pachall with top RB Ed Wesley having departed the team. Many believe the turning point for Pachall last fall was leading the late Frog comeback to a wild 36-35 win at Boise, when Pachall converted a daring 2-point conversion for the winning points.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: The rough-hewn Klein quarterbacks as a rodeo cowboy might, fearless and physical. Klein carried the ball as many as 25 times in a game last season (vs. Texas A&M) and is the consummate field general.

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle rushed for 1,216 yards and caught 43 passes a year ago, but might be asked to do even more as the Cowboys break in a new QB.

David Ash & Case McCoy, QBs, Texas: If the Longhorns are to rally this fall they will need to get it right at QB, where there have been nothing but problems since Colt McCoy’s graduation. Now that Garrett Gilbert has transferred to SMU, one from among sophs, Ash or Case McCoy, has to emerge.

Top Newcomers To Watch
Johnathon Gray, RB, Texas: Perhaps the most-ballyhooed newcomer in the conference and regarded by many as the nation’s top prep RB last season. Will compete for carries with holdovers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in what should be an upgraded Longhorn infantry.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State: This 18-year-old frosh has pretty big shoes to fill, as predecessor Brandon Weeden is likely to be starting for the Cleveland Browns this fall. The new trigger-man for what was one of the nation’s most-potent offenses a year ago has the full backing of head coach Mike Gundy.

Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas: The Notre Dame transfer is reunited with his former head coach Charlie Weis in Lawrence. We hope the Jayhawks fans realize that Crist left something to be desired in his efforts at South Bend.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma: The highest-touted WR recruit in the country two years ago, Metoyer finally gets on the field this fall and will be expected to be Landry Jones’ top target after the graduation of Ryan Broyles.

Coaches On The Hot Seat
Mack Brown, Texas: Although many in the region believe Brown will be safe as long as AD DeLoss Dodds is in the fold, others aren’t so sure. Mack is only 13-12 the past two seasons, and it doesn’t require a gridiron history major to recall what happened to past Texas coaches such as Fred Akers, David McWilliams and John Mackovic when their Longhorn teams started to list.

Besides, at 73 years of age and having successfully launched the Longhorn Network, Dodds might not be far from retirement, when Mack could be losing his safety blanket. Sources tell us the Texas-exes will not accept another 7-8 win season.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Tuberville politicked hard to get this job two years ago, but so far his Red Raiders have not quickened pulses in Lubbock as did predecessor Mike Leach’s teams. Injuries wrecked Tech a year ago, but Tuberville is best advised not to tempt fate and miss a bowl game for a second year running.

Charlie Weis, Kansas: This was perhaps the most-curious coaching hire of the offseason, one that apparently only the new Kansas AD, Sheahon Zenger, thought was a good idea. Weis also inherits a mess in Lawrence, and he didn’t do all that well with all of the advantages in the world at previous head coaching stop Notre Dame. The Bill Belichick disciples (Weis, Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel) have not exactly lit the world on fire as head coaches, either.

Conference Win Odds
Oklahoma 5/6
Texas 7/2
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 11/1
Oklahoma State 14/1
Texas Tech 28/1
Baylor 33/1
Iowa State 66/1
Kansas 100/1

Best value? West Virginia, which could catch new league foes a bit flat-footed. Worst value? How about Texas, which will be hard-pressed to exceed last year’s eight wins (which included a bowl victory over Cal) if Mack Brown can’t find a QB.

Season Wins
Oklahoma 10: If the Sooners avoid the injury mess they did a year ago, 'over' looks a decent risk.

Texas 9: Unless Mack Brown settles his QB issues, the 'Horns not only fail to get beyond nine wins, but Mack might be out of his job.

TCU 8½: Tough call in Fort Worth, as despite all of the success in the Mountain West, it will be a much-tougher slog in the Big 12, and offseason distractions make us think 'under' might not be a bad idea at Amon Carter Stadium.

West Virginia 8½: The dynamic QB Geno Smith and the high-powered Mountaineers offense might catch the rest of the Big 12 off guard. A fairly easy non-conference slate (three games at home) should get WVU off and flying in September and help the 'over' prospects in Morgantown.

Pointspread Notes
Baylor: Let’s see how the Bears react post-RG III; with him on the field and Art Briles’ team involved in shootout after shootout, Baylor was the premier 'over' play (21-3) in the country the past two seasons.

Kansas: The Jayhawks were the beneficiary of some huge pointspreads during Turner Gill’s ill-fated two-year run, but still covered just four of 11 away from Lawrence the past two seasons. Note new head coach Charlie Weis’ many pointspread failures from his five seasons at Notre Dame, where the Irish didn’t cover often at home (only 7-14 vs. the line as host and 4-10 as home chalk).

Kansas State: As he did in his first stint at K-State, Bill Snyder continues to overachieve as an underdog, now 14-7 in that role since returning to Manhattan in 2009. Snyder was also 9-4 overall vs. the line a year ago and is 20-11 vs. the number his last 31 on the board. Oh yes, he makes sure to beat rival Kansas, winning and covering the last three vs. the Jayhawks And dropping 59 points each of the past two years on KU) after similarly dominating the Lawrence bunch in his earlier regime.

Iowa State: Underrated HC Paul Rhodes covered seven of 11 tries as an underdog last season. Note that the Cyclones had also covered six straight trips to rival Iowa before a 28-0 loss in 2010; ISU is at Iowa City on September 8.

Oklahoma: The Sooners have been a 50-50 proposition in most spread categories for the past couple of years. Bob Stoops has, however, won and covered his last two vs. blood rival Texas (and it was big, by a 55-17 count last year) after failing to cover the previous five vs. Mack Brown. OU had also won and covered six straight vs. Ok State prior to being ambushed at Stillwater last December.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were 18-7 vs. the number the past two seasons under Gundy, and OSU had covered 10 straight as a true visitor prior to the late-season loss last November at Iowa State. The Cowboys are also 19-9 laying double digits since 2005.

Texas: Here’s another reason why Mack Brown is in some hot water in Austin; the Longhorns are just 4-9 vs. the number as a host the past two seasons.

TCU: Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are 26-12 vs. the number at Fort Worth since the 2005 season, although they covered just two of six at Amon Carter Stadium during its remodeling phase last fall. In what have been rare underdog roles, Patterson’s Frogs are 8-3 since 2005.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are only 2-5 vs. the line in conference games at Lubbock since Tuberville arrived in 2010.

West Virginia: Note that Holgorsen covered all three chances as an underdog last season, which continues a Mountaineer trend that dates to the Rich Rodriguez and late Bill Stewart regimes (WVU is 10-2 as an underdog since 2005).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/30/2012 04:45 PM

Oklahoma Sooners Top List Of Big 12 Contenders

Casey Pachall and TCU are newcomers to the Big 12 for the 2012 season.

A year ago at this time, we weren’t sure how much longer we were going to be writing about the Big 12. The league had seen four member schools peel away in a 12-month period and barely survived a pair of raids from the Pac-12. There was talk of more defections, including conference glue sides Texas and Oklahoma. The future hardly seemed promising.

Now, however, things are looking much brighter in the midlands. Texas, with its own Longhorn Network spooking several suitors, for the moment seems content in the Big 12. Further defections seem unlikely. A new mega-TV deal for the conference has been signed. And in the new order of college football with a four-team playoff now just two years away, the Big 12 has positioned itself pretty well, locking itself into a new bowl featuring its champ against the SEC champ (providing neither are in the four-team playoff) in what could also become a staple of the mini-tournament.

And while the league won’t have 12 teams for the second consecutive year, it has at least replenished the most-recent defections of Missouri and Texas A&M (off to the SEC this year) by adding West Virginia and TCU. A return to a 12-team loop (or perhaps 14 of 16 team) appears a near certainty in the near future, with several targets from the Big East and ACC (including Florida State) already having been identified. We’re betting that it won’t be a "10-team Big 12" too much longer.

Plenty of intriguing storylines are on deck for the league this fall. Let’s hopscotch around the landscape and seek out the top contenders, top performers, top newcomers and coaches on the hot seat before providing some technical pointspread info and analyses of pricing on the conference title and, where applicable, season wins.

Team To Beat
Oklahoma: Last season ended with a very sour taste in Norman as the Sooners collapsed in November, losing a shootout at Baylor and wiped in the Bedlam matchup at Stillwater vs. hated Okie State. Defensive meltdowns proved costly in those games and an earlier shock loss vs. Texas Tech, but Bob Stoops thinks he might have found an answer to any stop unit woes with brother Mike, recently head coach at Arizona but now on board in Norman as the new defensive coordinator.

More intense than predecessor Brett Venables (now at Clemson), Mike S. altered the scheme in spring, looking to shore up the secondary. But he also inherits a senior pair of defensive tackles (Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee) to control the defensive middle from a line that generated 41 sacks a year ago. One of Stoops’ adjustments in the secondary has moved Tony Jefferson from his former hybrid LB/DB role to being a full-time free safety.

But it’s on offense where OU believes it can really fly, and why not with senior QB Landry Jones (4,463 YP in 2011), a peripheral Heisman Trophy threat. Remember, injuries decimated the OU skill positions last year, but RB Dominique Whaley should be good to go this fall after making a surprise breakthrough before getting hurt last October. The receiving corps should be lethal, too, with former ballyhooed recruit Trey Metoyer finally putting grades and other issues in the rearview mirror. Metoyer, the nation’s top WR recruit a couple of years ago, had a monster spring.

Oh, yes, and what is effectively 17 starters are also back in the Sooner fold. The schedule is also tailor-made for a run at the BCS, especially if OU can get past you-know-who in Dallas on October 13.

Top Contenders
West Virginia: When last seen, the Mountaineers were dropping a 70-point bomb on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Now they enter the Big 12 as one of the new kids on the block (along with TCU). How the adjustment phase for both WVU and league foes evolves makes for a fascinating storyline this fall.

The Mounties’ bread-and-butter remains head coach Dana Holgorsen’s pet spread attack that should be even more lethal after QB Geno Smith's breakthrough 2011 campaign in which he passed for 4,285 yards and 31 TDs. Holgorsen was even more excited after spring work after Smith demonstrated even further competence with the added freedom he is giving to his QB. Wideouts Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey combined for 173 receptions last fall. There are also a slew of capable RBs on hand, as Holgorsen can go quick with whippet-like Dustin Garrison (recovered from a knee injury suffered prior to the Orange Bowl) or big with power back Shawne Alston (12 rush TDs in 2011).

Holgorsen might have some issues on defense, however, as the WVU stop unit lost plenty of key playmakers from a year ago, including DE Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks’ top draft pick, and others who combined for 19½ sacks. Remember, the Mountaineers allowed 27 ppg last fall, so maybe it’s a good thing that co-defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson are dumping WVU’s familiar 3-5 looks for combo 3-4 and 4-3 deployments instead.

West Virginia should get off to a flying start with four straight at Morgantown out of the chute, although the slate becomes considerably tougher once October rolls around, beginning with a trip to Texas on October 6.

Texas Christian: The other new kid on the block, arriving from the Mountain West, rejoins a familiar neighborhood after having been linked with several Big 12 entries from days in the old Southwest Conference. In the 17-year interim, the Frogs have evolved from an also-ran into a national power, a multiple-qualifier for the BCS under head coach Gary Patterson and winner of the Rose Bowl two years ago.

TCU is well-set to trade points in its new league with returning starter junior QB Casey Pachall, who matured into a top-flight leader by the time last season concluded. Pachall, who completed 66 percent of his throws and recorded 25 TD passes last fall, welcomes back three of his top four receivers including big-play target Josh Boyce. On the downside, top RB Ed Wesley had to leave the team due to off-field matters, although Waymon James and Matthew Tucker each exceeded 700 yard rushing in 2011.

Patterson’s pet 4-2-5 defense has been much mimicked, but the Frogs have the built-in advantage of stop unit mastermind Dick Bumpas still coordinating a platoon that has ranked tops in the country five different times in the past 11 seasons. A complete rebuild in the secondary has Frog backers concerned, but three of four starters are back on the DL, led by sackmeister DE Stansly Maponga (9½ sacks in 2011).

Sources say Patterson and staff dealt quickly with off-season distractions involving academics and a campus-wide drug sting that also cost TCU key defenders LBs Tanner Brock and Deryck Gildon along with DT D.J. Yendrey. Still, the residue from those developments can hardly be considered a positive. We’ll see how the Frogs respond.

Oklahoma State: So far have the Cowboys progressed under head coach Mike Gundy that even the losses of a couple of NFL first-round draft choices (WR Justin Blackmon & QB Brandon Weeden) from last year’s 12-1, Fiesta Bowl-winner haven’t dampened enthusiasm in Stillwater. The Cowboys are still loaded.

Interestingly, OSU goes from the oldest QB in college football a year ago (Weeden, then 28) to one of the youngest this fall in 18-year-old true frosh Wes Lunt, who wowed observers in spring. Matching last year’s video football numbers (No 3 in total offense, No. 2 in passing, No. 2 in scoring at 48.7 ppg) might be a neat trick, but Gundy believes Lunt has what it takes to run the Cowboy spread effectively right from the opener vs. Savannah State on September 1. Still, expect OSU to feature more of its ground game in the early going behind RBs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, who combined for 1,862 yards rushing in 2011. Gundy also expects this year’s receivers, led by senior Tracy Moore, to be highly productive.

Eight starters return from an opportunistic stop unit that forced a nation’s leading 44 turnovers last fall, including 24 interceptions; the Cowboys’ +21 TO margin was the nation’s best. Replicating those numbers won’t be easy, but 3/4 of last year’s heat-seeking secondary returns, led by CBs Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. Touted juco DT Calvin Barnett figures to come in handy up front.

Top Performers
Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Figures to be in the Heisman Trophy mix after passing for 29 TDs and better than 4,400 yards a year ago despite injuries to some of his key weapons.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: The perfect triggerman for HC Dona Holgorsen’s spread offense, Smith dazzled in 2011 when tossing 31 TDs. No one in the Big 12 has had to face Smith yet, either, so the surprise factor might play in his favor. A stealth Heisman candidate, perhaps?

Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: The Frogs might have to do a bit more leaning on Pachall with top RB Ed Wesley having departed the team. Many believe the turning point for Pachall last fall was leading the late Frog comeback to a wild 36-35 win at Boise, when Pachall converted a daring 2-point conversion for the winning points.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: The rough-hewn Klein quarterbacks as a rodeo cowboy might, fearless and physical. Klein carried the ball as many as 25 times in a game last season (vs. Texas A&M) and is the consummate field general.

Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State: Randle rushed for 1,216 yards and caught 43 passes a year ago, but might be asked to do even more as the Cowboys break in a new QB.

David Ash & Case McCoy, QBs, Texas: If the Longhorns are to rally this fall they will need to get it right at QB, where there have been nothing but problems since Colt McCoy’s graduation. Now that Garrett Gilbert has transferred to SMU, one from among sophs, Ash or Case McCoy, has to emerge.

Top Newcomers To Watch
Johnathon Gray, RB, Texas: Perhaps the most-ballyhooed newcomer in the conference and regarded by many as the nation’s top prep RB last season. Will compete for carries with holdovers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in what should be an upgraded Longhorn infantry.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State: This 18-year-old frosh has pretty big shoes to fill, as predecessor Brandon Weeden is likely to be starting for the Cleveland Browns this fall. The new trigger-man for what was one of the nation’s most-potent offenses a year ago has the full backing of head coach Mike Gundy.

Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas: The Notre Dame transfer is reunited with his former head coach Charlie Weis in Lawrence. We hope the Jayhawks fans realize that Crist left something to be desired in his efforts at South Bend.

Trey Metoyer, WR, Oklahoma: The highest-touted WR recruit in the country two years ago, Metoyer finally gets on the field this fall and will be expected to be Landry Jones’ top target after the graduation of Ryan Broyles.

Coaches On The Hot Seat
Mack Brown, Texas: Although many in the region believe Brown will be safe as long as AD DeLoss Dodds is in the fold, others aren’t so sure. Mack is only 13-12 the past two seasons, and it doesn’t require a gridiron history major to recall what happened to past Texas coaches such as Fred Akers, David McWilliams and John Mackovic when their Longhorn teams started to list.

Besides, at 73 years of age and having successfully launched the Longhorn Network, Dodds might not be far from retirement, when Mack could be losing his safety blanket. Sources tell us the Texas-exes will not accept another 7-8 win season.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Tuberville politicked hard to get this job two years ago, but so far his Red Raiders have not quickened pulses in Lubbock as did predecessor Mike Leach’s teams. Injuries wrecked Tech a year ago, but Tuberville is best advised not to tempt fate and miss a bowl game for a second year running.

Charlie Weis, Kansas: This was perhaps the most-curious coaching hire of the offseason, one that apparently only the new Kansas AD, Sheahon Zenger, thought was a good idea. Weis also inherits a mess in Lawrence, and he didn’t do all that well with all of the advantages in the world at previous head coaching stop Notre Dame. The Bill Belichick disciples (Weis, Josh McDaniels, Romeo Crennel) have not exactly lit the world on fire as head coaches, either.

Conference Win Odds
Oklahoma 5/6
Texas 7/2
TCU 11/2
West Virginia 11/2
Kansas State 11/1
Oklahoma State 14/1
Texas Tech 28/1
Baylor 33/1
Iowa State 66/1
Kansas 100/1

Best value? West Virginia, which could catch new league foes a bit flat-footed. Worst value? How about Texas, which will be hard-pressed to exceed last year’s eight wins (which included a bowl victory over Cal) if Mack Brown can’t find a QB.

Season Wins
Oklahoma 10: If the Sooners avoid the injury mess they did a year ago, 'over' looks a decent risk.

Texas 9: Unless Mack Brown settles his QB issues, the 'Horns not only fail to get beyond nine wins, but Mack might be out of his job.

TCU 8½: Tough call in Fort Worth, as despite all of the success in the Mountain West, it will be a much-tougher slog in the Big 12, and offseason distractions make us think 'under' might not be a bad idea at Amon Carter Stadium.

West Virginia 8½: The dynamic QB Geno Smith and the high-powered Mountaineers offense might catch the rest of the Big 12 off guard. A fairly easy non-conference slate (three games at home) should get WVU off and flying in September and help the 'over' prospects in Morgantown.

Pointspread Notes
Baylor: Let’s see how the Bears react post-RG III; with him on the field and Art Briles’ team involved in shootout after shootout, Baylor was the premier 'over' play (21-3) in the country the past two seasons.

Kansas: The Jayhawks were the beneficiary of some huge pointspreads during Turner Gill’s ill-fated two-year run, but still covered just four of 11 away from Lawrence the past two seasons. Note new head coach Charlie Weis’ many pointspread failures from his five seasons at Notre Dame, where the Irish didn’t cover often at home (only 7-14 vs. the line as host and 4-10 as home chalk).

Kansas State: As he did in his first stint at K-State, Bill Snyder continues to overachieve as an underdog, now 14-7 in that role since returning to Manhattan in 2009. Snyder was also 9-4 overall vs. the line a year ago and is 20-11 vs. the number his last 31 on the board. Oh yes, he makes sure to beat rival Kansas, winning and covering the last three vs. the Jayhawks And dropping 59 points each of the past two years on KU) after similarly dominating the Lawrence bunch in his earlier regime.

Iowa State: Underrated HC Paul Rhodes covered seven of 11 tries as an underdog last season. Note that the Cyclones had also covered six straight trips to rival Iowa before a 28-0 loss in 2010; ISU is at Iowa City on September 8.

Oklahoma: The Sooners have been a 50-50 proposition in most spread categories for the past couple of years. Bob Stoops has, however, won and covered his last two vs. blood rival Texas (and it was big, by a 55-17 count last year) after failing to cover the previous five vs. Mack Brown. OU had also won and covered six straight vs. Ok State prior to being ambushed at Stillwater last December.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were 18-7 vs. the number the past two seasons under Gundy, and OSU had covered 10 straight as a true visitor prior to the late-season loss last November at Iowa State. The Cowboys are also 19-9 laying double digits since 2005.

Texas: Here’s another reason why Mack Brown is in some hot water in Austin; the Longhorns are just 4-9 vs. the number as a host the past two seasons.

TCU: Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are 26-12 vs. the number at Fort Worth since the 2005 season, although they covered just two of six at Amon Carter Stadium during its remodeling phase last fall. In what have been rare underdog roles, Patterson’s Frogs are 8-3 since 2005.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are only 2-5 vs. the line in conference games at Lubbock since Tuberville arrived in 2010.

West Virginia: Note that Holgorsen covered all three chances as an underdog last season, which continues a Mountaineer trend that dates to the Rich Rodriguez and late Bill Stewart regimes (WVU is 10-2 as an underdog since 2005).

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/30/2012 04:50 PM

College Football Preview: Big Ten Legends

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. Next up is the Big Ten Legends division whose top three teams combined for 31 wins last season.

Odds to Win Big Ten
(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.com)
3-to-1: Michigan
7-to-2: Nebraska
9-to-2: Michigan State
20-to-1: Iowa
60-to-1: Northwestern
100-to-1: Minnesota


MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (6-2 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 8-4-1
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 33.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 17.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
This could be the season for the Wolverines to return to the Rose Bowl. The offensive line is losing two starters, but luckily Michigan will not have to replace the untied shoes of senior QB Denard Robinson (2,173 pass yds, 20 TD; 1,176 rush yds, 16 TD). Not only is the Heisman Trophy candidate back, but so is his top running back, senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (1,041 rush yds, 9 TD). Toussaint was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested for DUI in mid-July. If a wide receiver can emerge and be at least almost as productive as Junior Hemingway was last year, the Wolverines offense could be one of the most explosive in the country. Defensively, three starters in the secondary return along with what should be one of the best defensive lines in the Big Ten. A Labor Day Weekend upset over Alabama (in Texas) would put Michigan in the national title conversation for sure, but road games at Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State also linger.



NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (5-3 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 4-8-1
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 29.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The switch to the Big Ten didn’t go as well as Nebraska had hoped, as the Huskers finished 5-3 in conference play, which included a stunning home loss to Northwestern. This year, the Cornhuskers have another legitimate chance to win the Big Ten. QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead return to the option offense where they rushed for 874 yards and 1,357 yards, respectively. The lack of wide receivers on this team is an issue, but there’s no doubt Nebraska’s offense will still be powerful with those two in the backfield. The defense should be sufficient as well, as the Huskers return seven starters. But it won’t be a typical dominant Blackshirts defense, as they lack proven playmakers on that side of the ball. Nebraska at least gets to host Wisconsin and Michigan this year after losing to both teams on the road last season.



MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-3 (7-1 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 10-4
Over/Under: 7-7
Points Scored: 31.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 50/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
After a season that almost ended in a trip to the Rose Bowl, the Spartans are looking to take the next step. Offensively, they are losing almost all of their skill players, but QB Andrew Maxwell (18-for-26, 171 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT) and RB Le’Veon Bell (948 rush yds, 13 TD) seem as though they are ready to make an impact. MSU will have one of the best offensive lines in college football in 2012 as the Spartans return four of last year’s starters. Defensively, they lost Jerel Worthy, but both William Gholston (five sacks) and Marcus Rush (4 sacks) are still around to pressure the quarterback. The Spartans should have a dominant pass rush as they have the size and depth to cause nightmares for opposing offenses. The Spartans will need to recover from their lost talent in a hurry, as they’ll host Boise State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State within their first five games.



IOWA HAWKEYES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (4-4 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 27.5 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
It’s hard to rule out the Hawkeyes with Kirk Ferentz and the rest of his brilliant coaching staff, but this team has plenty of reasons for concern entering 2012. Iowa lost its star running back, Marcus Coker, and receiver, Marvin McNutt. QB James Vandenberg made great strides last year (3,022 pass yds, 25 TD, 7 INT), but he doesn’t have a lot of proven receivers to rely on. Iowa is going to struggle running the ball behind an inexperienced offensive line, and the team could falter defensively as well. The Hawkeyes return their leading tackler James Morris (52 solo tackles, 58 assists), but they lose their two best players in the secondary. Iowa has a plethora of young recruits at skill positions, but ultimately this team is too inexperienced to compete for a conference title.



NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (3-5 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 5-8
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 28.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 27.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
The Wildcats were second in the Big Ten last year with 470 total YPG, and they should be near the front of the pack again this year in terms of offensive firepower. Dual-threat QB Kain Colter was decent in his time starting last year (6 pass TD, 1 INT; 654 rush yds, 9 TD) and his running skills will team with sophomore RB Treyvon Green’s (362 yds, 4 TD) to tire out opposing defensive lines. Northwestern also should have solid play from its wide receivers this year. Defensively, the team is stacked with talent at linebacker, but has little depth at the other positions. It was a long 2011 season on the defensive side of the ball last year (408 YPG allowed), and if nobody is able to provide stability on the defensive line or in the secondary, it could be more of the same in 2012.



MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (2-6 in Big Ten)
ATS Record: 7-5
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 18.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 31.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
The Golden Gophers had a difficult first year under head coach Jerry Kill, but things should go a lot smoother this time around. QB MarQueis Gray has all the tools to be an effective player in an offense that desperately needs him. Gray is a dual threat who will likely lead Minnesota in both passing and rushing in this coming season. The team lacks talent at both the RB and WR positions. Defensively, leading tackler Mike Rallis (83 tackles) returns, but outside of him, there isn’t much to get excited about. This team had a lot of trouble stopping opponents last year (31.7 PPG allowed), so it’s hard to be optimistic about the fact that the Gophers return the majority of their defensive starters.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
07/30/2012 04:52 PM

Pac 12 preview

July 28, 2012

It’s strange the path college football follows.

Two years ago, with NCAA sanctions looming, Pete Carroll bailed out on USC for the NFL. Candles were lit with many thinking the Trojans glory days were suddenly in the rear view mirror. Yet somehow, with four-and-five-star prospects dotting the roster and experience forging its hand, USC is widely considered one of the favorites to win the BCS National Championship in 2012.

Today the PAC 12, the self-proclaimed ‘Conference of Champions’, has won more NCAA National Team Championships (400) than any other conference in history. In fact, the top three schools with the most NCAA team championships all reside in this conference, namely UCLA, Stanford and USC in that order.

Oregon and Oregon State joined in 1964 to form the PAC 8. In 1978, the conference added Arizona and Arizona State, and last year Colorado and Utah’s inclusion increased league membership to an even dozen.

Remaining true to its roots, the PAC 12 is home to notable football rivalries such as The Civil War (Oregon and Oregon State), The Duel in the Desert (Arizona and Arizona State), The Big Game (California and Stanford), the Apple Cup (Washington and Washington State) and The Battle of LA (UCLA and USC). As such, these traditional rivalries continue throughout its alignment of two divisions, the North and the South.

Last year, because of the aforementioned ongoing NCAA suspensions, USC was ineligible to participate in the PAC 12 championship game, thus paving the way for UCLA to win the South Division and become the first team in NCAA history to participate in a bowl game and end the season with seven losses. With the sanctions lifted, USC appears the team to beat this season while Oregon figures to be breathing right down the Trojans’ neck. And surprisingly, despite being limited to just 15 recruits a year (10 less than the NCAA normally would allow), the Trojans continue to recruit blue-chip classes.

Who says the University of Spoiled Children doesn’t know its way around a football field and a rulebook?

Designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

North Division

CALIFORNIA – (*6/6)
Team Theme: LAY OFF THE AMBIEN
Had Jeff Tedford’s 7-6 Bears not fallen into fourth-quarter hibernation last season where they were outscored 79-41 (after outscoring the opposition 321-232 through the first three stanzas), they could have easily proved to be more than ‘average’ in 2011. While Tedford is best known as a quarterback guru, having developed six NFL 1st-round QB’s, but lets not forget that he has also produced a 1,000-yard rusher in nine of his 10 seasons on the Cal sidelines. Another balanced offensive attack, along with a third straight Top 25 recruiting class, figures to prevent any more fourth-quarter hi-jinks from the Berkeley bunch.

Stat You Will Like: All seven Bears’ home opponents were either winners or appeared in bowl games last season.

PLAY ON: vs. Washington (11/2)

OREGON – (5/7)
Team Theme: DUCK SEASON
Three straight Pac-12 titles and a downy-soft schedule that features only one true road game through the first two months of the season would have most teams drooling with anticipation. However, it’s not as easy as it appears for Chip Kelly. His ‘blur’ offense suffered serious losses, including star RB LaMichael James and its main operative, QB Darron Thomas. Thomas, 22-3 as a starter, received a heavy dose of bad advice when he was bypassed in the NFL draft and will now be replaced by electrifying freshman Marcus Mariota, the Hawaiian hurler who had a jaw-dropping spring game. Don’t despair – that click you heard was the Ducks reloading.

Stat You Will Like: The Ducks were last in the nation in time of possession in 2011.

PLAY ON: as a dog at USC (11/3)

OREGON STATE – (*7/8)
Team Theme: YOUNG BEAVERS
When injuries caused projected starters to miss 59 games, Mike Riley’s crew was forced to play a bevy of freshmen and sophomores who accounted for 74 starts. At last count, twenty-three players made their first start while a school-record 10 true freshmen played. The good news is 27 players who started at least one game in 2011 return, including QB Sean Mannion, who tossed for over 3,300 yards while landing a spot on the all-freshmen 1st team. While we like OSU’s chances of improving, we suggest you gnaw at this: with a 2-8 SU and ATS mark in its final four games of the season the last two years (coupled with the Stat below), you may want to jump on this team sooner than later.

Stat You Will Like: The Beavers’ final seven opponents in 2012 all appeared in a bowl game last season.

PLAY ON: at UCLA (9/22) - *KEY off BB SU losses

STANFORD – (6/7)
Team Theme: OUT OF LUCK
When a team wins 11 games and the season was considered a downer, one can assume the expectation bar was probably set a bit too high. That was the case down on ‘The Farm’ last year when Andrew Luck’s decision to forego the NFL fell just an Oregon loss short of a desired BCS title game appearance. What didn’t come up short was the cash register as Luck hit the lottery as the No.1 pick in this year’s draft while Cardinal backers went 10-2-1 ATS. David Shaw, the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, will now put his 77% ATS career mark on the line with RB Stefan Taylor (looking for his third straight 1,000-yard season) as his spotlight player.

Stat You Will Like: The Cardinal are 24-2 ‘In The Stats’ the last two seasons, including stat wins in their last 20 games in a row.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Oregon (11/17)

WASHINGTON – (*6/7)
Team Theme: DOG DAYS ARE OVER
A pair of seven-win bowl seasons the last two years makes it official: the Huskies are back. Not that it needed confirming, but U-Dub has won more games in three years under Steve Sarkisian, than they did the previous six seasons combined before his arrival. The loss of star RB Chris Polk, who opted to leave early for the NFL, is offset by the development of QB Keith Price, who enjoyed a seven-touchdown performance against Baylor in last year’s Alamo Bowl. The main cause for concern in Seattle these days is fixing a defense that slipped 7 points and 70 yards per game in 2011 and made former defensive coordinator Nick Holt the latest member of Monster.com.

Stat You Will Like: The Huskies open the 2012 season against six straight opponents that all owned winning records last year.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at Arizona (10/20)

WASHINGTON STATE – (6/7)
Team Theme: UP THE WAZZU
What happens when the nation’s 9th-ranked passing offense crosses paths with an offensive guru like Mike Leach? We’re about to find out as Leach lands in Pullman after getting run out of Lubbock by the James Gang in 2009. Leach is as smart as he is savvy (graduated third in his class with a law degree from Pepperdine) and his 10 winning seasons AND 10 bowl appearances in 10 years at Tech has the Cougar faithful clamoring. He also inherits a defense that returns its entire line and secondary. With that being said, we say call the scoreboard police as there’ll be plenty of offense in 2012 with these contentious cats prowling the Palouse.

Stat You Will Like: Leach is 20-0 SU and 17-1-2 ATS at home in lined games when his team owns a .600 or less win percentage.

PLAY ON: at BYU (8/30)

South Division

ARIZONA – (6/8)
Team Theme: TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN’
After a one-year hiatus, Rich Rodriguez has turned up in Tucson where he’ll need to overcome long odds if he wishes to avoid yet another nightmarish November (4-10-2 ATS in his career during turkey month). That’s because the Wildcats open the Rodriguez era against winning foes in seven of their first eight games, while taking on no less than nine bowlers overall. Toss in a blasé 17-14 SU and 10-19-2 ATS career mark at home against winning teams and Rodriguez’s first priority should be fixing a failing defense that slipped 120 YPG last season. Meanwhile the offense loses stud QB Nick Foles and star WR Juron Criner to the NFL. We’re guessing Rich Rod will be up all night.

Stat You Will Like: Rodriguez is 9-14 SU and 6-16 ATS from Game 11 out, including 0-11-1 ATS when off an ATS loss.

PLAY ON: PASS

ARIZONA STATE – (4/7)
Team Theme: TAILIGHTS
Last year’s new uniforms and logo headed the Sun Devils in a new direction – south. Despite a roster filled with 30 seniors, six-time Coach of the Year Dennis Erickson was pink-slipped after a 0-5 finish to a promising 6-2 start. Enter Todd Graham, fast becoming the king of one-year stands. After his initial season at Rice, Graham was awarded a significant pay raise and contract extension, only to leave for Tulsa a few days after. And then after inking a lucrative contract with Pittsburgh last year, in which Graham said, “I spent my whole life working to get this job,” he skipped town again and mercenarily signed on with ASU. It’s no wonder Paul Daugherty of SI.com said, “This guy would make a weasel call another weasel a weasel.”

Stat You Will Like: Graham is 6-0 ATS as a dog with rest.

PLAY AGAINST: at Missouri (9/15)

COLORADO – (4/6)
Team Theme: THE PERFECT DIVIDE
Whew! After playing 13 games in 13 weeks in 2011 – including five of the first seven away from the range –second-year Buffalo boss Jon Embree had to be elated when perusing this year’s itinerary. Not only do his Boulder boys get a respite in early October, their first six opponents check in with a losing record. They’d best do some damage early on as five of their final six foes ended last season above .500, including three that boast Top 15 Preseason billing in 2012. While it’s worth noting that Colorado’s foes were a collective 54-72 ATS in 2011, keep in mind that of the 22 starting positions, only three saw the same player start all 13 games last season.

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

PLAY AGAINST: at Arizona (11/10)

UCLA – (*7/7)
Team Theme: THAT’S A MORA
The Bruins stunned the college football world when they hired former NFL head coach Jim Mora Jr. this off-season. Mora is the beneficiary of some strong recruiting classes by former UCLA boss Rick Neuheisel, who ended his four-year tenure in Los Angeles with a 21-30 mark. As expected, both of Mora’s new coordinators have NFL experience while six other members of the staff are former NFL players. Thirty of the Bruins’ 54 returning lettermen own starting experience, but the featured performer will be RB Johnathan Franklin, who has rushed for 2,689 career yards and 18 TD’s. Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut are once more fighting for the starting QB spot.

Stat You Will Like: The Bruins were the first bowl team in NCAA history to end the season two games under .500 last season.

PLAY ON: vs. Utah (10/13)

USC – (*9/8)
Team Theme: TROJAN MAN
When Heisman-hopeful QB Matt Barkley announced he was returning to USC for his senior season, head coach Lane Kiffin was ecstatic, bellowing “This is a special story. He’s the perfect Trojan. He’s Matty Trojan.” Along with WR’s Robert Woods and Marquise Lee, a pair of 1,000-yard Biletnikoff award-winning and All-American candidates, the three-time Davey O’Brien semi-finalist Barkley quickly added, “The 2012 team has some unfinished business to do.” Before betting the ranch, though, you may want to hold your horses. The Men of Troy face nine bowlers, and a result of recent NCAA sanctions, quality depth is still a bit thin.

Stat You Will Like: The Trojans own the best win percentage (50-10, .833) away from home the last nine years.

PLAY ON: as a dog at Stanford (9/15)

UTAH – (*8/6)
Team Theme: BOUND TO WYNN
Two shoulder surgeries (left and right) in two years have not deterred junior QB Jordan Wynn. He bulked up this off-season and the results in spring camp were apparent. “He has arms instead of No. 2 pencils hanging from his shoulders,” joked Utes’ HC Kyle Whittingham. “I haven’t felt this good in a long time,” added Wynn. That’s good news for former Utah QB Brian Johnson, who takes over as the youngest offensive coordinator in the nation. Furthermore, a cushy conference schedule finds no Oregon or Stanford, and all five Pac-12 road games are indeed winnable. This has Whittingham, Wynn and us (see below) pointing to an October 4th home date with USC.

Stat You Will Like: The Utes outscored opponents, 102-65, in the fourth quarter last season.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. USC (10/4)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
08/03/2012 06:40 PM

College Football Preview: Big East

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is the Big East, which replaced departed West Virginia (now in Big 12) with Temple, formerly of the MAC.

Odds to Win Big East
9-to-4: Louisville
3-to-1: Cincinnati
7-to-2: South Florida
13-to-2: Pittsburgh
13-to-2: Rutgers
20-to-1: Syracuse
20-to-1: Temple
25-to-1: Connecticut


LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 4-7-1
Points Scored: 21.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 10
The Cardinals are a young team, but they could be successful in the Big East this coming season. QB Teddy Bridgewater had a promising freshman year in which he threw for 2,129 yards and 14 TD. Despite his 12 picks, he’s still thought of as the most talented signal-caller in the conference. He gets back his No. 1 WR as well in sophomore Michaelee Harris (team-best 455 rec yds). Louisville’s ability to control the clock with the run will be important, but its top running back, junior Dominique Brown, averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last year. On the defensive end, Charlie Strong is very excited about the group of corners he has, as well as his linebackers. He’s certainly not worried about a defensive line that was integral in stopping the run (101 rush YPG allowed, 10th in nation) and generating 33 sacks.



CINCINNATI BEARCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 33.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The Bearcats QB position is a question mark, but it seems as though either Munchie Legaux (5 TD, 4 INT) will win the job outright, or Cincinnati will employ a two-QB system with senior Brendan Kay (8 career pass attempts). Legaux will need to improve his 47% completion rate if he’s going to be successful. Junior WR Anthony McClung returns after a team-high 683 receiving yards and 6 TD in 2011. The task of replacing Isaiah Pead falls to senior RB George Winn, who had just 40 carries last year but scored on a 69-yard TD run in the Liberty Bowl. The Bearcats defensive line helped lead the nation in Tackles For Loss (8.6 per game) and finish second in sacks (3.5 per game). The linebackers are solid too, but the secondary could cause Butch Jones fits, as for years now, the team has struggled against the pass, allowing 261 passing YPG in 2011.



SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (1-6 in Big East)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 29.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Despite last season’s 5-7 record, South Florida is a team that could surprise some people and win the Big East championship this year. B.J Daniels is back at QB after throwing for 2,604 yards and 13 TD, while rushing for 601 yards and six scores as a junior. He’ll benefit from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the conference, and he has his top four receivers back from last year, led by junior Sterling Griffin (team-high 530 rec yds in eight games, 3 TD). One question mark on this South Florida team is a secondary that lacks experience at both the cornerback and safety positions. The defensive line and linebacker groups are both excellent, as the Bulls ranked second in the nation in Tackles For Loss (8.3 per game) and fourth in sacks (3.3 per game), but they’ll need the secondary to defend against the pass (244 YPG allowed, 83rd in FBS) to have a real shot at winning this conference.



PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (4-3 in Big East)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
New head coach Paul Chryst has a lot to do to get this Panthers team to perform at a high level again, but this team does have talent to build on. On offense, senior QB Tino Sunseri will have to improve his decision-making and accuracy after a season in which he threw more interceptions (11) than he did touchdowns (10). He does return his top three targets in WRs Devin Street (754 rec yds) and Mike Shanahan (493 rec yds), and TE Hubie Graham (325 rec yds). The running game is also an issue as their main back, Ray Graham (958 rush yds, 9 TD), is trying to recover from a torn ACL suffered in late October. On the defensive end, the Panthers got help from two Michigan transfers who are ready to play immediately in Ray Vinopal and Cullen Christian. They also get DL Aaron Donald back after an 11-sack season.



RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (4-3 in Big East)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 26.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
New head coach Kyle Flood still needs to choose a starting quarterback, but Chas Dodd (10 TD, 7 INT) probably has a slight edge over Gary Nova (11 TD, 9 INT). The Scarlet Knights are getting back their leading rusher in Jawan Jamison (897 rush yds, 9 TD), and although they said goodbye to star WR Mohamed Sanu and his 1,206 yards, Brandon Coleman (552 rec yds, 6 TD) is capable of filling the No. 1 wideout role. The offensive line could struggle this year as they are dealing with injuries already, forcing players to switch positions. The defense held nine teams to 20 points or less last year, ranking eighth in the nation in scoring (18.3 PPG) and ninth in pass defense (172 YPG). With eight starters returning, this unit should be fearsome again.



SYRACUSE ORANGE

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (1-6 in Big East)
ATS Record: 3-9
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
Syracuse should be a good passing team in 2012 with Ryan Nassib (2,685 pass yds, 22 TD, 9 INT) returning under center. He’ll get back his two best targets in leading receiver Alec Lemon (834 rec yds, 6 TD) and WR Marcus Sales, who missed all of 2011 after being arrested on drug-related charges, which have since been dropped. The rushing attack is an issue as there isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 back between Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Ashton Broyld. The offensive line is also suspect (90th in FBS in sacks allowed). On the defensive side, there is skepticism about the Orange’s front four after losing their top pass rusher, Chandler Jones to the NFL. The secondary could also be an issue again (258 pass YPG allowed, 98th in nation), as Syracuse lacks talent at the defensive back positions.



TEMPLE OWLS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (5-3 in MAC)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 30.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 13.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The inexperienced Owls could be in for a rude awakening when they rejoin the Big East in 2012. However, they are finally strong at the quarterback position with junior Chris Coyer (30-for-50, 463 yds, 6 TD, 0 INT), who emerged as the leader of their football team. The offensive line is losing four starters, but head coach Steve Addazio is confident that the new linemen can step in and contribute immediately. The running game loses Bernard Pierce and his 1,481 rushing yards and 27 TD, but gains Boston College’s all-time leading rusher Montel Harris. On defense, Temple allowed a mere 13.9 PPG (3rd in nation), holding five teams to single digits. But the Owls return only five players and will be facing more talented offenses in the Big East than they did in the MAC.



CONNECTICUT HUSKIES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (3-4 in Big East)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 7-4
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
UConn is heading into the 2012 season with another quarterback controversy. Transfer QB Chandler Whitmer had a strong showing in the spring game, but senior Johnny McEntee (2,110 pass yds, 12 TD, 8 INT) has the most experience after starting last year. The offensive line could be a problem as the Huskies lost two starters from what already wasn’t a successful unit last year (4th-most sacks allowed in nation). This could significantly hurt the development of RB Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards (2nd in Big East) and 7 TD as a freshman last season. The defensive line will once again be a strength for UConn (2.8 sacks per game, 13th in nation). DT Ryan Wirth didn’t play a lot last year, but he dominated the spring game with 4.5 sacks. The secondary needs work (281 passing YPG allowed, 113th in FBS), but the Huskies have a chance to improve with several players who saw the field last year.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:25009 Followers:33
08/03/2012 06:40 PM

College Football Preview: Big East

To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2012 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is the Big East, which replaced departed West Virginia (now in Big 12) with Temple, formerly of the MAC.

Odds to Win Big East
9-to-4: Louisville
3-to-1: Cincinnati
7-to-2: South Florida
13-to-2: Pittsburgh
13-to-2: Rutgers
20-to-1: Syracuse
20-to-1: Temple
25-to-1: Connecticut


LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 4-7-1
Points Scored: 21.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.1 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 10
The Cardinals are a young team, but they could be successful in the Big East this coming season. QB Teddy Bridgewater had a promising freshman year in which he threw for 2,129 yards and 14 TD. Despite his 12 picks, he’s still thought of as the most talented signal-caller in the conference. He gets back his No. 1 WR as well in sophomore Michaelee Harris (team-best 455 rec yds). Louisville’s ability to control the clock with the run will be important, but its top running back, junior Dominique Brown, averaged only 3.8 yards per carry last year. On the defensive end, Charlie Strong is very excited about the group of corners he has, as well as his linebackers. He’s certainly not worried about a defensive line that was integral in stopping the run (101 rush YPG allowed, 10th in nation) and generating 33 sacks.



CINCINNATI BEARCATS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 10-3 (5-2 in Big East)
ATS Record: 8-5
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 33.3 PPG
Points Allowed: 20.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The Bearcats QB position is a question mark, but it seems as though either Munchie Legaux (5 TD, 4 INT) will win the job outright, or Cincinnati will employ a two-QB system with senior Brendan Kay (8 career pass attempts). Legaux will need to improve his 47% completion rate if he’s going to be successful. Junior WR Anthony McClung returns after a team-high 683 receiving yards and 6 TD in 2011. The task of replacing Isaiah Pead falls to senior RB George Winn, who had just 40 carries last year but scored on a 69-yard TD run in the Liberty Bowl. The Bearcats defensive line helped lead the nation in Tackles For Loss (8.6 per game) and finish second in sacks (3.5 per game). The linebackers are solid too, but the secondary could cause Butch Jones fits, as for years now, the team has struggled against the pass, allowing 261 passing YPG in 2011.



SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (1-6 in Big East)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 29.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 200/1
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
Despite last season’s 5-7 record, South Florida is a team that could surprise some people and win the Big East championship this year. B.J Daniels is back at QB after throwing for 2,604 yards and 13 TD, while rushing for 601 yards and six scores as a junior. He’ll benefit from playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the conference, and he has his top four receivers back from last year, led by junior Sterling Griffin (team-high 530 rec yds in eight games, 3 TD). One question mark on this South Florida team is a secondary that lacks experience at both the cornerback and safety positions. The defensive line and linebacker groups are both excellent, as the Bulls ranked second in the nation in Tackles For Loss (8.3 per game) and fourth in sacks (3.3 per game), but they’ll need the secondary to defend against the pass (244 YPG allowed, 83rd in FBS) to have a real shot at winning this conference.



PITTSBURGH PANTHERS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (4-3 in Big East)
ATS Record: 7-6
Over/Under: 5-8
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 22.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
New head coach Paul Chryst has a lot to do to get this Panthers team to perform at a high level again, but this team does have talent to build on. On offense, senior QB Tino Sunseri will have to improve his decision-making and accuracy after a season in which he threw more interceptions (11) than he did touchdowns (10). He does return his top three targets in WRs Devin Street (754 rec yds) and Mike Shanahan (493 rec yds), and TE Hubie Graham (325 rec yds). The running game is also an issue as their main back, Ray Graham (958 rush yds, 9 TD), is trying to recover from a torn ACL suffered in late October. On the defensive end, the Panthers got help from two Michigan transfers who are ready to play immediately in Ray Vinopal and Cullen Christian. They also get DL Aaron Donald back after an 11-sack season.



RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (4-3 in Big East)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 26.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 18.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 6
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
New head coach Kyle Flood still needs to choose a starting quarterback, but Chas Dodd (10 TD, 7 INT) probably has a slight edge over Gary Nova (11 TD, 9 INT). The Scarlet Knights are getting back their leading rusher in Jawan Jamison (897 rush yds, 9 TD), and although they said goodbye to star WR Mohamed Sanu and his 1,206 yards, Brandon Coleman (552 rec yds, 6 TD) is capable of filling the No. 1 wideout role. The offensive line could struggle this year as they are dealing with injuries already, forcing players to switch positions. The defense held nine teams to 20 points or less last year, ranking eighth in the nation in scoring (18.3 PPG) and ninth in pass defense (172 YPG). With eight starters returning, this unit should be fearsome again.



SYRACUSE ORANGE

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (1-6 in Big East)
ATS Record: 3-9
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 28.5 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
Syracuse should be a good passing team in 2012 with Ryan Nassib (2,685 pass yds, 22 TD, 9 INT) returning under center. He’ll get back his two best targets in leading receiver Alec Lemon (834 rec yds, 6 TD) and WR Marcus Sales, who missed all of 2011 after being arrested on drug-related charges, which have since been dropped. The rushing attack is an issue as there isn’t a clear-cut No. 1 back between Jerome Smith, Prince-Tyson Gulley and Ashton Broyld. The offensive line is also suspect (90th in FBS in sacks allowed). On the defensive side, there is skepticism about the Orange’s front four after losing their top pass rusher, Chandler Jones to the NFL. The secondary could also be an issue again (258 pass YPG allowed, 98th in nation), as Syracuse lacks talent at the defensive back positions.



TEMPLE OWLS

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (5-3 in MAC)
ATS Record: 9-4
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 30.6 PPG
Points Allowed: 13.9 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 4
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The inexperienced Owls could be in for a rude awakening when they rejoin the Big East in 2012. However, they are finally strong at the quarterback position with junior Chris Coyer (30-for-50, 463 yds, 6 TD, 0 INT), who emerged as the leader of their football team. The offensive line is losing four starters, but head coach Steve Addazio is confident that the new linemen can step in and contribute immediately. The running game loses Bernard Pierce and his 1,481 rushing yards and 27 TD, but gains Boston College’s all-time leading rusher Montel Harris. On defense, Temple allowed a mere 13.9 PPG (3rd in nation), holding five teams to single digits. But the Owls return only five players and will be facing more talented offenses in the Big East than they did in the MAC.



CONNECTICUT HUSKIES

2011 Statistics:
SU Record: 5-7 (3-4 in Big East)
ATS Record: 4-8
Over/Under: 7-4
Points Scored: 24.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2013 BCS National Championship: 30/1 (Field)
2012 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
UConn is heading into the 2012 season with another quarterback controversy. Transfer QB Chandler Whitmer had a strong showing in the spring game, but senior Johnny McEntee (2,110 pass yds, 12 TD, 8 INT) has the most experience after starting last year. The offensive line could be a problem as the Huskies lost two starters from what already wasn’t a successful unit last year (4th-most sacks allowed in nation). This could significantly hurt the development of RB Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards (2nd in Big East) and 7 TD as a freshman last season. The defensive line will once again be a strength for UConn (2.8 sacks per game, 13th in nation). DT Ryan Wirth didn’t play a lot last year, but he dominated the spring game with 4.5 sacks. The secondary needs work (281 passing YPG allowed, 113th in FBS), but the Huskies have a chance to improve with several players who saw the field last year.


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