FINALISTS - Gale Sayers Award

In the highlight reel age, we figured we should have an award for the most elusive skill player. Ironically it is named for a player who made his living quite some time before the highlight reel age. The award goes to the most elusive skill player in America - a guy that defenders just can't seem to wrap up. Obviously, having a strong highlight package will play into the voting.
2008 Winner - Jahvid Best (RB, California)

Last year's winner was dropped from consideration when he added one of the most gruesome injuries I have ever seen to his highlight reel. Best is a great player, but now I can't think about him without remembering that awful concussion he suffered after leaping into the end zone against Oregon State.

I have whittled the list of finalists down to the final five. Here is the pertinent info for each of them, in alphabetical order.

2009 Finalists:

A relative unknown on this list, Briscoe has been one of the best go-to receivers in the nation for the past couple seasons. He can make the big catch AND has the speed to take it the distance.
2009 Stats:
84 receptions for 1,337 yards (15.4 avg) and 9 touchdowns;
1 kickoff return touchdown;
1 rushing touchdown

MARDY GILYARD (Sr. WR, Cincinnati)
Gilyard has the knack for making his biggest plays when the team needs it most. See the 99-yard kickoff return for touchdown late in the first half when trailing by 21 against Pittsburgh on the last day of the regular season for evidence.
2009 Stats:
80 receptions for 1,150 yards (14.4 avg) and 11 touchdowns;
34 kickoff returns for 1,074 yards (31.6 avg) and 2 touchdowns;
16 punt returns for 202 yards (12.6 avg) and 1 touchdown

Sure, Kerley might not get nearly as many touches as the other guys on this list, but that only means he has a higher percentage of highlights per touch. The chances of Kerley winning the Sayers isn't high, but his punt return for touchdown against Colorado State this year is enough by itself to make him a finalist.
2009 Stats:
38 receptions for 467 yards (12.3 avg) and 2 touchdowns;
34 punt returns for 487 yards (14.3 avg) and 2 touchdowns;
17 kickoff returns for 457 yards (26.9 avg);
50 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns

JACQUIZZ RODGERS (Soph. RB, Oregon State)
You should probably get used to seeing Rodgers' name on the list of Finalists for the Sayers Award. Only a sophomore, Rodgers is already putting together quite a string of impressive plays and drawing comparisons to the one and only Barry Sanders.
2009 Stats:
255 carries for 1,377 yards (5.4 avg) and 20 touchdowns;
74 receptions for 509 yards (6.9 avg) and 1 touchdown;
1 passing touchdown

C.J. SPILLER (Sr. RB, Clemson)
I'm not the biggest Spiller fan in the world, but there is no way you can ignore his sheer athleticism. He practically defines what this award is about. When Spiller gets his hands on the ball in the open field, there isn't a defender alive (other than maybe Fred Smoot) who thinks he has a good chance at taking him down.
2009 Stats:
201 carries for 1,145 yards (5.7 avg) and 11 touchdowns;
21 kickoff returns for 708 yards (33.7 avg) and 4 touchdowns;
33 receptions for 445 yards (13.5 avg) and 4 touchdowns;
8 punt returns for 210 yards (26.3 avg) and 1 touchdown;
1 passing touchdown


Awards Season

It's awards season again. As you may or may not know, we here at Pikes Picks choose not to pay much attention to the real awards, and instead give out our own set of awards. There are eight major awards (so far) which we will explain below.

Without further ado (because you all know what the frick awards are), here are the finalists for our eight major individual awards.

Our Heisman Trophy without the lies. We don't pretend to include defensive players for this award because we created a defensive Heisman Trophy as well (see below). The Bo Jackson Trophy is awarded to the best offensive player in the nation.
2008 Winner - Colt McCoy (QB, Texas)

2009 Finalists:
*Toby Gerhart (RB, Stan)
*Mardy Gilyard (WR, Cincy)
*Mark Ingram (RB, Bama)
*Jeremiah Masoli (QB, Ore)
*Josh Nesbitt (QB, GT)
*Jordan Shipley (WR, Tex)
*Golden Tate (WR, ND)

HERZLICH TROPHY (formerly the Arrington Trophy)
Our defensive Heisman Trophy goes to the best defensive player in the nation. It was known as the Arrington Trophy in its inaugural year, but was renamed after its first winner, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich, was diagnosed with cancer.
2008 Winner - Mark Herzlich (LB, Boston College)

2009 Finalists:
*Eric Berry (S, Tenn)
*Terrance Cody (NT, Bama)
*Brandon Graham (DE, Mich)
*Lamarr Houston (DT, Tex)
*Greg Jones (LB, MSU)
*Rolando McClain (LB, Bama)
*Gerald McCoy (DT, Okl)
*Derrick Morgan (DE, GT)
*Eric Norwood (LB, SoCar)
*Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, USF)
*Brian Price (DT, UCLA)
*Brandon Spikes (LB, Fla)
*Ndamukong Suh (DT, Neb)
*Earl Thomas (S, Tex)
*Sean Weatherspoon (LB, Miz)

We didn't want to leave out all the great players from non-BCS conferences, so we gave them their own Heisman Trophy too. Yes, the Faulk Trophy goes to the best player playing for a school not in a BCS Conference.
2008 Winner - Brian Johnson (QB, Utah)

2009 Finalists:
*Freddie Barnes (WR, BGSU)
*Nick Bellore (LB, CMU)
*Antonio Brown (WR/KR, CMU)
*Donald Buckram (RB, UTEP)
*Van Eskridge (DB, ECU)
*Dwayne Harris (AP, ECU)
*Jerry Hughes (DE, TCU)
*Mike Iupati (OG, Ida)
*Colin Kaepernick (QB, Nev)
*Case Keenum (QB, Hou)
*Noah Keller (LB, Ohio)
*Dan LeFevour (QB, CMU)
*Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno)
*Josh McNary (DE, Army)
*Bruce Miller (DL, UCF)
*Kellen Moore (QB, Boise)
*Daryl Washington (LB, TCU)
*Joe Webb (QB, UAB)

The Sproles/Sauerbrun Award goes to the best special teams player in the land. That could be a kicker, a punter, or a return specialists. If you know of any great gunners that I am leaving off the list I would love to know that as well. But for now we're sticking with players you've heard of.
2008 Winner - Brandon James (KR/PR, Florida)

2009 Finalists:
*Javier Arenas (RET, Bama)
*Brandon Banks (RET, KSt)
*Drew Butler (P, UGA)
*Kai Forbath (K, UCLA)
*Mardy Gilyard (RET, Cincy)
*Jeremy Kerley (RET, TCU)
*Zoltan Mesko (P, Mich)
*C.J. Spiller (KR, Clem)
*Caleb Sturgis (K, Fla)
*Leigh Tiffin (K, Bama)

Why is there no national award for the best freshman player in the country? With as many freshmen making impacts as there are nowadays, it's about time somebody gave an award to the top newbie. And if we're going to do it, why not name it after one of the all time great freshmen?
2008 Winner - Robert Griffin (QB, Baylor)

2009 Finalists:
*B.J. Daniels (QB, USF)
*LaMichael James (RB, Ore)
*Alshon Jeffery (WR, SoCar)
*Dion Lewis (RB, Pitt)
*Andrew Luck (QB, Stan)
*Greg Reid (CB/PR, FSU)
*Ryan Williams (RB, VT)

The Deion is our "ballhawk" award. It is awarded to defensive backs that make their living around the ball. And true to its namesake, we prefer it to be done with a little style.
2008 Winner - Eric Berry (S, Tennessee)

2009 Finalists:
*Mark Barron (S, Bama)
*Eric Berry (S, Tenn)
*Perrish Cox (CB, OkSt)
*DeAndre McDaniel (S, Clem)
*Rahim Moore (S, UCLA)
*Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
*Tyler Sash (S, Iowa)
*Earl Thomas (S, Tex)
*Trevin Wade (CB, Ari)
*Major Wright (S, Fla)

In the highlight reel age, we figured we should have an award for the most elusive skill player. Ironically it is named for a player who made his living quite some time before the highlight reel age. The award goes to the most elusive skill player in America - a guy that defenders just can't seem to wrap up. Obviously, having a strong highlight package will play into the voting.
2008 Winner - Jahvid Best (RB, California)

2009 Finalists:
*Brandon Banks (WR, KSt)
*Dezmon Briscoe (WR, Kan)
*Ryan Broyles (WR, Okl)
*Jeff Demps (RB, Fla)
*Noel Devine (RB, WVU)
*Mardy Gilyard (WR, Cincy)
*LaMichael James (RB, Ore)
*Jeremy Kerley (WR, TCU)
*Dion Lewis (RB, Pitt)
*Dexter McCluster (RB, Miss)
*Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, OrSt)
*C.J. Spiller (RB, Clem)

This is easily our most ambiguous award. It is named after one of the all time greatest college quarterbacks. Frazier was one of the most exciting players to watch, and also happened to be one of the winningest quarterbacks of all time. This award goes to the quarterback that best matches those lofty traits. Obviously a little bias creeps into this award because what we deem "exciting" may be "hard to watch" to you (see last year's winner).
2008 Winner - Tyrod Taylor (QB, Virginia Tech)

2009 Finalists:
*B.J. Daniels (USF)
*Jacory Harris (Mia)
*Jerrod Johnson (A&M)
*Ryan Mallett (Ark)
*Jeremiah Masoli (Ore)
*Josh Nesbitt (GT)
*Terrelle Pryor (OhSt)
*Tony Pike (Cincy)
*Tyrod Taylor (VT)


JP Top 25 - Week 10

With apologies to Nevada and San Jose State, who are set to play later tonight, here is my top 25 following an exciting week ten.

1. Texas (Record: 9-0, Last Week: 1)
The Longhorns continue to look like the best team in the nation, with the best balance of offense, defense, and special teams.

2. Alabama (9-0, LW: 2)
A gutty performance by the Crimson Tide showed this team has what it takes to fight through tough times and still come out victorious.

3. Florida (9-0, LW: 3)
Offensively, Florida is easily the worst team among the top teams in the nation. Allow me to be the first to predict the Gators will be BETTER on offense in 2010 when John Brantley takes over the QB spot. He's got a much better arm and will really help open things up. Whether he can win like Tebow or not will be the real discussion in the offseason.

4. TCU (9-0, LW: 4)
I'm making the road trip to Fort Worth to watch the game of the week in person next weekend. TCU hosts Utah, their last big test of the season.

5. Georgia Tech (9-1, LW: 6)
Paul Johnson's gutsy call to go for it on fourth down late in the fourth quarter while trailing Wake Forest shows the confidence he has in his offense right now.

6. Cincinnati (9-0, LW: 7)
The Bearcats had to hang on tight to beat UConn, which shined a spotlight on a defense that might not be as good as we previously thought. And I now firmly believe Brian Kelly can plug any quarterback on his roster into the lineup and score points. Kelly clearly prepares his quarterbacks better than just about anybody in America.

7. Boise State (9-0, LW: 8)
Boise had another mid-week close call, but I still believe the defense on this team ranks them as a legitimate top 10 team. The Broncos nearly jumped Cincinnati in my poll this week.

8. Pittsburgh (8-1, LW: 11)
The next time I hear Pitt mentioned in the national conversation will be the first. Right now, the gap in the Big East between Cincinnati and Pitt is razor thin. Bill Stull and Dion Lewis have the offense humming, and the defense - a Wannstedt specialty - is coming together nicely as well. Don't be surprised if the Panthers end up with the Big East's BCS bowl bid.

9. Oregon (7-2, LW: 9)
Looks like Oregon isn't what everybody thought they were. I kept having flashbacks to that opening night game where they looked like a bottom ten team (not a top ten team) against Boise State, which prevented me from raving about this team as much as everybody else did.

10. USC (7-2, LW: 12)
The Trojans looked absolutely average in defeating Arizona State on the road Saturday night. Maybe Oregon's big win wasn't as big as it first seemed.

11. Ohio State (8-2, LW: 14)
12. LSU (7-2, LW: 10)
13. Virginia Tech (6-3, LW: 15)
14. Miami (7-2, LW: 16)
15. Iowa (9-1, LW: 5)
16. Penn State (8-2, LW: 13)
17. Arizona (6-2, LW: 19)
18. Utah (8-1, LW: 20)
19. Oregon State (6-3, LW: 24)
20. Houston (8-1, LW: 22)
21. Oklahoma State (7-2, LW: 23)
22. South Florida (6-2, LW: 21)
23. Stanford (6-3, LW: NR)
24. Tennessee (5-4, LW: NR)
25. BYU (7-2, LW: NR)

Just missed the cut:
Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Auburn, West Virginia, Clemson


WEEK TEN - Top 25 Preview (Part II)

#10 LSU at #2 Alabama
This is obviously the game of the week, but I'm not sure it is going to be a very pretty game to watch. This is going to be one of those down and dirty defensive battles where the first team to about 13 points is going to win. Alabama, coming off the bye week, has the inside track to those 13 points. Julio Jones is getting healthier and he'll need to make a play or two against the talented LSU secondary. The problem for the Tigers is I'm not sure how they are going to move the ball against a stout Crimson Tide front. Jordan Jefferson needs to have a career day if LSU hopes to pull the upset, but I'm not counting on it.
J.Pike's Pick: Alabama 20, LSU 9

#8 Oregon at Stanford
I've been picking against Oregon all year. And once again my gut is telling me that Stanford has an excellent chance at knocking the Ducks off their high horse. Toby Gerhart is a battering ram at running back and Andrew Luck is looking more and more like a big time Pac-10 quarterback every week. The Cardinal defense is far from a brick wall, but they are capable of playing very well in stretches. With Oregon riding high after the big win over Southern Cal, I like the Stanford defense to play a big role early in confusing Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks offense early on while Gerhart and company steal a quick lead. It will be up to the unsung key to Oregon's rise, running back LaMichael James, to lead the Ducks to victory.
J.Pike's Pick: Oregon 34, Stanford 27

Wake Forest at #6 Georgia Tech
Riley Skinner's status is up in the air for this game, but it shouldn't matter one way or the other. Georgia Tech's offense has been on a roll lately and the Wake defense won't be more than a speed bump in the road. Jim Grobe is a fine coach and he'll find a way to keep the Deacs in the game for a while, but Paul Johnson's triple option will keep picking up steam as they always do, and run of a couple of big plays in the second half to put the game away.
J.Pike's Pick: Georgia Tech 33, Wake Forest 17

#4 TCU at San Diego State
TCU is looking more and more like the real deal. The Frogs have yet to take a week off as they march through conference play. I keep waiting for them to finally slip up (because every unbeaten TCU team in the last decade has eventually let me down at some point), but the more I watch them play the more I think this team might just be disciplined enough to run the table. However, this is going to be a much tougher road trip than it looks. New head coach Brady Hoke has assembled a top notch coaching staff in San Diego. Defensive coordinator Rocky Long is just as capable as Gary Patterson of drawing up the perfect plan to shut down an opposing offense. This is going to be a game where Andy Dalton will need to play a factor because I think it is going to be a surprisingly tight contest.
J.Pike's Pick: TCU 23, San Diego State 16

New Mexico at #20 Utah
Utah has a quarterback controversy brewing between junior Terrence Cain and freshman Jordan Wynn. Whichever one gets the start will probably win the job because New Mexico can make just about any quarterback look good in 2009. The winless Lobos are just the remedy to cure a sputtering Utah offense.
J.Pike's Pick: Utah 43, New Mexico 19

#24 Oregon State at California
If you like running backs, this is where your eyes need to be on Saturday. JaQuizz Rodgers and Jahvid Best are two of the most exciting backs around, and neither stands taller than about 5-foot-8. California has slowly been pulling out of their mid-season slump, but Oregon State has quietly been playing solid football too. Look for Rodgers to out-rush Best, and for Sean Canfield to play just well enough for the Beavers to escape Berkeley with the W.
J.Pike's Pick: Oregon State 31, California 27

Vanderbilt at #3 Florida
There is no reason for this game to be close. If Florida truly is a national championship contender, they will dismiss Vandy with ease. The Commodores haven't been very good this season, which is disappointing considering all the progress they made in climbing out of the SEC cellar over the past two seasons.
J.Pike's Pick: Florida 38, Vanderbilt 3

#22 Houston at Tulsa
Todd Graham just needs to get through 2009 so he can get his Tulsa team back into the Conference USA race again in 2010. The Golden Hurricane have shown flashes of good football this season, but they have been fewer and farther between than the past two years. Houston's offense is among the most potent in college football, and Tulsa's defense doesn't look like much of a test.
J.Pike's Pick: Houston 45, Tulsa 24

Connecticut at #9 Cincinnati
Cincinnati is the class of the Big East so far. It would be nice to see Connecticut rise up and pull an upset here in honor of their fallen teammate, but Randy Edsall's team simply doesn't have the firepower to do it. Mardy Gilyard will be the difference in the game, but the Huskies will play admirably and keep it close throughout.
J.Pike's Pick: Cincinnati 23, Connecticut 17

#12 USC at Arizona State
Arizona State's primary strength is their defense. Don't be surprised if they hold USC under 30 points (is that an accomplishment any more?). But how will the Sun Devils score points? The ground game isn't very good, and Danny Sullivan is just now starting to show signs of life at quarterback. USC will bounce back from the pounding they took in Eugene by dismissing an out-manned Arizona State.
J.Pike's Pick: USC 27, Arizona State 13

#17 Oklahoma at Nebraska
I don't think anybody was expecting this game to feature a pair of 3-loss teams. In 2009, Nebraska was expected to step up and take back control of the Big XII North while Oklahoma was expected to challenge for a national title. Obviously both have fallen short of those expectations, if only by the slimmest of margins.

The Nebraska offense has been in a serious funk for the past few weeks, but making the switch to the freshman Cody Green at quarterback will pay dividends in the long run. He has a much better skill set than Zac Lee, and he looks like he could be a really good player once he learns the offense and the coaching staff turns him loose. And if you ask Nebraska fans, they'll tell you offensive coordinator Shawn Watson should turn him loose this weekend. Against a formidable Oklahoma defensive line (Gerald McCoy is one of the most underrated players in the country), Green will need to put the offense on his shoulders in order to put points on the board. Roy Helu has been banged up and the running game will probably not be very productive Saturday night.

But where Nebraska holds a big advantage is on the defensive side of the ball. What nobody wants to talk about this season is that Oklahoma simply can't line up and run the football. The coaching staff seems to think they can, as they arrogantly try to flex their muscles at least a couple drives per game. But the fact is that offensive line is too slow and too inexperienced to be a consistent threat running the ball downhill. Nebraska's defensive line - a pretty good group itself - is good enough to eliminate the running threat and pressure Landry Jones. Ryan Broyles is a great receiver, and he'll produce in this game - but the rest of OU's receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired. If Nebraska can keep Broyles to 2 touchdowns or less, then Nebraska will have a good shot at winning.

Call me stupid, but this is college football. Bo Pelini is as good an X's and O's coach as there is defensively, so you know he'll have a game plan that will keep this game much closer than it was a year ago. It will be up to Cody Green and the offense to come through with some much needed big plays to pull the upset. The bottom line is Oklahoma simply isn't as good a team as they should be, and Pelini and Company will find a way to exploit their weaknesses and bring home a huge win for the Huskers.
J.Pike's Pick: Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 17


WEEK TEN - Top 25 Preview (Part I)

Thursday, November 5th

#15 Virginia Tech at East Carolina
After getting surprised a week ago at home on Thursday night against North Carolina, Virginia Tech must go on the road to face another directional Carolina. I have to admit that I have been half-way on the ECU bandwagon since they knocked off Va Poly and Westy Virginny at the beginning of last season. Patrick Pinkney is a dangerous senior quarterback and all purpose threat Dwayne Harris (3 receiving tds, 4 rushing tds, 2 kick return tds) make this a tough matchup for a hurting Hokie team. But you can't keep Frank Beamer's team down for long. Look for the Hokies to bounce back onto the winning track, even if this is a much closer, much uglier game than it should be.
J.Pike's Pick: Virginia Tech 22, East Carolina 19

Friday, November 6th

#7 Boise State at Louisiana Tech
Another week another easy game for the Broncos. Kellen Moore has only thrown two interceptions all season long to go with his 24 touchdown passes. Don't expect Boise to all of a sudden start turning the ball over and making mistakes just because they go on the road to play one of the "tougher" teams in the WAC.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 37, Louisiana Tech 13

Saturday, November 7th

#25 Wisconsin at Indiana
Indiana has been giving opposing Big Ten teams fits all season long. Just last week they pushed #5 ranked Iowa deep into the fourth quarter before giving up an explosion of points and losing. This week the Hoosiers host Wisconsin, and I expect them to play another solid game. Wisconsin has John Clay, though, and he'll make sure the Badgers win the time of possession battle and the game.
J.Pike's Pick: Wisconsin 27, Indiana 20

Northwestern at #5 Iowa
Iowa keeps finding ways to win close games. I feel like the cardiac kids will get a break this week and win a fairly easy game against the struggling Wildcats.
J.Pike's Pick: Iowa 30, Northwestern 16

Central Florida at #1 Texas
The surging Longhorns look to maintain their streak of dominating performances against George O'Leary's Knights of Central Florida. In a rare late season non-conference game, I wouldn't be surprised to see Texas revert to their early season form and look sluggish in the first quarter. But there's absolutely no reason this should be a close game heading into the fourth quarter. Colt McCoy will continue to play well as he claws his way back into Heisman contention.
J.Pike's Pick: Texas 42, Central Florida 21

Syracuse at #11 Pittsburgh
Bill Stull and Dion Lewis have Pittsburgh quietly playing about as well as anybody in the country right now. The backfield duo has been putting points on the board at a rate not previously seen in Dave Wannstedt's tenure. Against a struggling Syracuse team that just had it's best player (Mike Williams - a legit stud at wide receiver) quit the team. First year coach Doug Marrone is going through his first real rough patch as a head coach, and facing a hot Panthers team isn't a good recipe to make things any better.
J.Pike's Pick: Pittsburgh 38, Syracuse 11

Virginia at #16 Miami
Upset alert. I know I keep calling for Virginia to be an upset candidate, but this is the week I think they finally pull off the feat. Miami is struggling right now, and even though they have showed guts down the stretch in games (see their fourth quarter win against Wake Forest last week), they definitely aren't playing their best ball of the season. Look for Virginia to use about three different players at quarterback, and find a way to manufacture enough points to pull the upset. Remember, this is the ACC - it gets crazier every week.
J.Pike's Pick: Virginia 26, Miami 21

Navy at #18 Notre Dame
Navy finally got one over on the Irish and their Special Ed coach two seasons ago. But coming off a loss to Temple, I don't see it happening again. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs will do his part to keep the Middies in it, though.
J.Pike's Pick: Notre Dame 33, Navy 24

Washington State at #19 Arizona
Poor Washington State. The Cougs can't get to that UCLA game (their only shot at a conference win) soon enough.
J.Pike's Pick: Arizona 44, Washington State 14

#23 Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Austin Arnaud is back at quarterback for Iowa State. I like what Paul Rhodes is doing in Ames so far, so getting his best offensive weapon back is a plus, especially against a vulnerable Cowboy team. On paper Okie State should hand the Cyclones, but after that beatdown last week (by Texas and the officials), how will Gundy's squad react? If they don't bounce back and focus their full attention on Iowa State they might find themselves in the middle of a losing streak.
J.Pike's Pick: Oklahoma State 31, Iowa State 21

#14 Ohio State at #13 Penn State
In one of just two games featuring two ranked opponents this week, Jim Tressel brings his Buckeyes to Happy Valley to take on Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions. Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor has played his best ball of the season over the past two weeks, and will need to bring that edge into this game because Penn State's defensive front has more than enough fire power to collapse the under-performing Buckeye offensive line whenever they choose to. Expect to hear the name Ollie Ogbu a lot in this game.

On the other side of the ball, talented playmakers Darryl Clark and Evan Royster will need to step up their games if they are to score many points on the Ohio State defense. If either Clark or Royster delivers a big game, the Nittany Lions should emerge victorious. If the Buckeye defense can contain both, however, Ohio State will sneak out of town with a big win. At the end of the day I think the story will not be about Clark or Royster, but about Terrelle Pryor.
J.Pike's Pick: Ohio State 18, Penn State 13


JP Top 25 - Week 9

The top four for me is pretty easy. After that is when things get interesting. You could toss teams 5-9 up in the air and make a pretty good case for whatever order they landed in. Iowa, in particular, is hard to gauge. Does a team that needed not one but TWO blocked field goals in the closing seconds to beat 1-AA Northern Iowa - not to mention a fourth quarter comeback and a couple questionable calls by the officials to beat lowly Indiana - really merit consideration as a top 5 team? Or do you reward their ability to come from behind and just win games on a weekly basis? Take a look at how it shook out for me this week.

Rk. School (Record, Last week's rank)
1. Texas (8-0, 1)
2. Alabama (8-0, 2)
3. Florida (8-0, 3)
4. TCU (8-0, 4)
5. Iowa (9-0, 5)
6. Georgia Tech (8-1, 6)
7. Cincinnati (8-0, 9)
8. Boise State (8-0, 10)
9. Oregon (7-1, 12)
10. LSU (7-1, 13)
11. Pittsburgh (7-1, 11)
12. USC (6-2, 7)
13. Penn State (8-1, 14)
14. Ohio State (7-2, 15)
15. Virginia Tech (5-3, 8)
16. Miami (6-2, 16)
17. Oklahoma (5-3, 17)
18. Notre Dame (6-2, 18)
19. Arizona (5-2, 19)
20. Utah (7-1, NR)
21. South Florida (6-2, NR)
22. Houston (7-1, 22)
23. Oklahoma State (6-2, 23)
24. Oregon State (5-3, NR)
25. Wisconsin (6-2, 25)

Just missed the cut:
West Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Auburn, BYU, California


WEEK NINE - Top 25 Preview

#1 Texas at #23 Oklahoma State
If the Longhorns let their heads get too big after their thrashing of Missouri last weekend this game could be trouble. In fact, when Texas plays in Stillwater it is always trouble, and 2009 will be no different. Oklahoma State's underrated offensive and defensive lines will keep them in the game, but Texas is just too overpowering. Colt McCoy will lead a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter that finally puts away the Pokes for good.
J.Pike's Pick: Texas 30, Oklahoma State 20

#2 Alabama is IDLE

#3 Florida vs Georgia
(@ Jacksonville, FL)
The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party went from must see tv a year ago to an afterthought. Florida's offense has been playing like absolute garbage all season, but Georgia's defense hasn't been great either. I still give Georgia's defense the advantage in that matchup, but unfortunately the Bulldogs offense won't win the matchup with Florida's defense. The Gators will survive another close one, but they'll look better doing it this week than they have recently.
J.Pike's Pick: Florida 34, Georgia 20

UNLV at #4 TCU
Be careful Horned Frogs. You have a tendency to give away games when everybody starts patting you on the back. It was a big win over BYU on Saturday, and if TCU can keep the level of physicality anywhere near that level this will be an easy win. But if the Frogs let up, it could be upset alert time.
J.Pike's Pick: TCU 33, UNLV 16

Indiana at #5 Iowa
Iowa's hopes of going undefeated suffered another blow this week when they found out yet another starting running back (Adam Robinson) would miss time due to injury. That puts the pressure on Ricky Stanzi and the passing game to pick up the slack against a scrappy Indiana team that doesn't go away easily. It's Halloween and there will be at least one or two crazy upsets today, so why can't the madness begin at 11 am? Because Iowa is too good in the trenches, that's why.
J.Pike's Pick: Iowa 21, Indiana 13

#6 Georgia Tech at Vanderbilt
Georgia Tech's triple option offense just keeps getting better under second year head coach Paul Johnson. The emergence of Anthony Allen as a complement to Jonathan Dwyer in the backfield (actually, Allen might be the more complete back right now - he averages over 10 yards every time he touches the ball) has really put the pressure on opposing defenses to stay disciplined against all three options. After Bobby Johnson's Commodores took some big steps forward in 2007 and 2008, his program has begun to slide back to the bottom of the SEC again in 2009. The Ramblin' Wreck should top the 300 yard mark on the ground yet again as they easily dismiss Vandy.
J.Pike's Pick: Georgia Tech 34, Vanderbilt 12

#7 USC at #12 Oregon
Oregon has been on a roll ever since getting embarrassed by Boise State on opening night. Nobody has really tested the Ducks and all signs point toward this game as the de-facto Pac-10 Championship Game. The pressure is on the USC defense to step up to the plate and shut down Jeremiah Masoli and the Oregon offense, something the Ducks past six opponents have not been able to do. But I think the Trojans are more than up to the challenge. The game is in Autzen, but the Trojans simply own Oregon, so it won't matter. Oregon goes down, and looks ugly in the process.
J.Pike's Pick: USC 27, Oregon 17

North Carolina at #8 Virginia Tech
(Thursday night game)
What happened to Butch Davis' Tar Heels? They looked to be on the verge of breaking through, but 2009 has turned out to be an absolute disaster. The offense can't score points, and the defense - once thought to be the strength of the team - can't hold leads. Carolina heads to Blacksburg for the dreaded Thursday night game on ESPN where Virginia Tech usually trots out their 'A' game. Look for Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams to put up yards and points with a balanced offense, while Bud Foster's defense puts the clamps down on T.J. Yates and company. The Hokies will put this one away early as they flush the bad taste in their mouths leftover from the Georgia Tech loss.
J.Pike's Pick: Virginia Tech 37, North Carolina 6

#9 Cincinnati at Syracuse
It looks like Tony Pike will miss another week of action, but no matter. Brian Kelly will just plug another quarterback into the offense and keep firing bullets. Zach Collaros is the guy again this week, and he'll be fine as long as Mardy Gilyard is still suiting up for the Bearcats. Duke point guard Greg Paulus will sport a poor assist-to-turnover ratio yet again.
J.Pike's Pick: Cincinnati 34, Syracuse 20

San Jose State at #10 Boise State
Another week another laugher for Boise. It's too bad the Broncos play in the WAC because I'd really like to see what this team could do against a real schedule.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 44, San Jose State 13

#11 Pittsburgh is IDLE

Tulane at #13 LSU
If LSU needed a game to get their offense back on track, this is it. And if they didn't, they're going to get one anyway. Look for Jordan Jefferson to look as good as he's looked all year as the Tigers beat up on their in-state rivals yet again.
J.Pike's Pick: LSU 42, Tulane 17

#14 Penn State at Northwestern
I really want Pat Fitzgerald's Wildcats to do well, but they simply don't appear to be very good. Penn State's defense, on the other hand, is tearing fools apart. Penn State wins easy, despite not scoring very many points.
J.Pike's Pick: Penn State 27, Northwestern 9

New Mexico State at #15 Ohio State
T.P. picks up right where he left off last week - making Ohio State fans look like fickle buffoons by running circles around an outmatched opponent.
J.Pike's Pick: Ohio State 36, New Mexico State 3

#16 Miami at Wake Forest
Under normal circumstances this game would seem like a prime candidate for an upset. But Wake Forest has been on a roller coaster this season. Riley Skinner is about as mediocre as you can get at quarterback, so the Deacs will be hard pressed to move the ball through the air against the Canes. Plus, Navy knocked off The Forest a week ago without attempting even a single forward pass.
J.Pike's Pick: Miami 24, Wake Forest 13

Kansas State at #17 Oklahoma
Kansas State somehow finds themselves atop the Big XII North standings, but must travel to Norman to take on an Oklahoma team still licking their wounds after a 3-3 start. I tend to want to believe the Wildcats will be served a blowout here, but I'm note entirely sure this Oklahoma team is capable of blowing out anybody much better than Tulsa. Kansas State can keep it close - and even win this game - if they can take advantage of Oklahoma's glaring weakness of an offensive line. They'll also need at least 2 scores from the explosive Brandon Banks to complete the feat. But even if that happens, I'm not sure they win this game.
J.Pike's Pick: Oklahoma 23, Kansas State 21

Washington State vs #18 Notre Dame
(@ San Antonio, TX)
I can't for the life of me figure out why this game is being played in San Antonio. Maybe neither team wanted to host what is certain to be a massacre? A massacre it will be. For the first time all season, don't look for Notre Dame to be playing meaningful snaps down to the final minutes, because this one could get ugly real quick.
J.Pike's Pick: Notre Dame 48, Washington State 21

#19 Arizona is IDLE

#20 South Carolina at Tennessee
Lane Kiffin's Vols will finally pull out a close one as the Gamecocks simply don't have enough offense. Montario Hardesty will be a key for Tennessee because you know Eric Norwood is going to be all over the place harassing Jonathan Crompton.
J.Pike's Pick: Tennessee 18, South Carolina 11

#21 Ole Miss at Auburn
My how seasons can turn. Just a month ago Auburn was in the top 25 and looking like a real player in the SEC. Now the Tigers can't move the ball and can't stop anybody from scoring. Funny how you find out what a team is really made of when you turn up the heat. Ole Miss is quietly rebounding from their early season stumbles (again, funny how you find out what a team is made of when you put them against a real opponent), and they are in much better shape right now than Auburn. This will be Houston Nutt's big "screw you" game to Gus Malzahn.
J.Pike's Pick: Ole Miss 33, Auburn 22

Southern Miss at #22 Houston
In Houston's lone loss on the season, they allowed UTEP running back Donald Buckram to pile up 262 yards on the ground. Who better then to take advantage of this apparent weakness than Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher, owner of nearly 5,000 career rushing yards and 43 touchdowns. Southern Miss can score points, and they definitely have a shot to knock Houston off here. But I like Case Keenum and company to keep their winning streak alive by out-scoring the Golden Eagles.
J.Pike's Pick: Houston 44, Southern Miss 34

#24 West Virginia at South Florida
(Friday night game)
South Florida finds themselves in the midst of their annual mid-season plummet as they host a Friday night game against West Virginia. Not only that, but there has been some chatter in the locker room about the curious play calling in the blowout loss to Pitt a week ago. Even taking all that into account, I still like the Bulls to rally and get the job done here. Much like Southern Miss, I don't entirely trust the Mountaineers yet, and South Florida has enough playmakers on defense (get a load of defensive ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul) to contain Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown.
J.Pike's Pick: South Florida 32, West Virginia 26

Purdue at #25 Wisconsin
Why did I have to go and rank Wisconsin? All that means is I am stuck picking more god-awful Big Ten games. I have to say: Purdue isn't as bad as people think. They aren't good by any means, but they aren't the worst team in the conference. Illinois' quitting Zooksters have that title wrapped up. If Purdue can get another performance out of its quarterback like they got against Ohio State, Purdue can win this game. But I believe Wisconsin's ground game will win out in the end.
J.Pike's Pick: Wisconsin 27, Purdue 24

JP Top 25

Well, it's been almost two months since we last updated. Oops. I guess getting married and going on vacation can really set you back. Whatever the case we're back now, and it's time for the first and last JP Top 25 for October 2009.

1. Texas (7-0)
2. Alabama (8-0)
3. Florida (7-0)
4. TCU (7-0)
5. Iowa (8-0)
6. Georgia Tech (7-1)
7. USC (6-1)
8. Virginia Tech (5-2)
9. Cincinnati (7-0)
10. Boise State (7-0)
11. Pittsburgh (7-1)
12. Oregon (6-1)
13. LSU (6-1)
14. Penn State (7-1)
15. Ohio State (6-2)
16. Miami (5-2)
17. Oklahoma (4-3)
18. Notre Dame (5-2)
19. Arizona (5-2)
20. South Carolina (6-2)
21. Ole Miss (5-2)
22. Houston (6-1)
23. Oklahoma State (6-1)
24. West Virginia (6-1)
25. Wisconsin (5-2)


BP25 Week 2

1 Alabama 1-0 vs #100 FIU Prediction: WIN
I know how can I have Alabama #1? Well I like to reward teams that do not shy away from a challenge and scheduling, and beating a very tough #7 Virginia Tech team in the opener deserves some credibility! At least it wasn't Charleston Southern? What a punishing running game Bama exhibited against a very stout VTech D. Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch combined for 240 yards and it seemed a one on one tackle wasn't working on these two. Greg McElroy was solid in his first start 15-30 230 yards, but Julio was doubled all night and came away with 4 catches for 46 yards, he will have no problem this weekend against FIU which has two 5'10 corners against the 6'4 Jones, YIKES!

2 Florida 1-0 vs #76 TROY Prediction: WIN
Well the gators did what they were supposed to, but did not cover the 73 point spread and did not get the shut out. Disappointed? Does Urban Meyer have some compassion? Will see again this week as the Trojans come to town after a very lackluster performance against Bowling Green in which they couldn't stop the Falcon offense. I think Florida has a slightly better offense, Florida may put 70 on Troy.

3 Texas 1-0 vs #96 WYOMING Prediction: WIN
Texas looked impressive in the opener and Wyoming is completely overmatched in this one in all phases. Colt McCoy got his 300 yards and Shipley got his touchdown, so it was a business at usual day from the Horns in which it was a 38-10 halftime lead sot the starters will be well rested going into this game. It will be ugly. Horns roll!

4 Southern Cal. 1-0 AT #5 OHIO ST Prediction: WIN
The Matt Barkley era has begun at USC and don't get me wrong he looked impressive throwing 15-19 for 233 and he wasn't even breathed on by the San Jose St defense, but he doesn't have to do much, he just turns on the key to offense which is its obscene stable of backs. They ran for 342 yards last week lead by Joe McKnight who seems to be really seems to be the spark on the offense. The defense was incredible limiting San Jose St to 9 yards! But this week will be different and the mobility of Terrelle Pryor will test the lateral speed of this very young USC D. Pete Carroll will have this team focused and they will take care of Buckeyes.

5 Ohio St. 1-0 vs #4 USC Prediction: LOSS
Can you say look ahead? That is what caught the Buckeyes and almost cost them the season. Congrats to the Midshipmen which always seem to give the unfocused teams fits. But last week was last week, The game of the weekend is at hand and it will be in the hands of Terrelle Pryor. Yes he is fast, yes he is elusive, yes he can throw on the run(benefit of the doubt), but the one thing I think of when I see him is SOFT. USC will put pressure on him and will flush him out of the pocket, meaning open season, it will be interesting to see how he responds to the big hit, because Taylor Mays will be there to deliver. I like Terrelle Pryor and I hope for success but Ohio State is two inexperienced at the wideout position(wideouts last week caught 8 passes). One Dimension rings in this game, but that one Dimension is really good, Mr Pryor good luck and God Bless, it will be a long day!

6 Penn St. 1-0 vs #91 SYRACUSE Prediction: WIN
JoePa has them thinking BCS and now they face a ex-point guard from Duke at QB. I bet Mike Paulus starts practicing his jumpshot after this one.

7 Mississippi 1-0 IDLE IDLE
Jevan Snead and Dexter McClouster handled Memphis, which was a game for 3 quarters but the Rebels scored 4 times in the 4th quarter to put them away.

8 Virginia Tech 0-1 vs #84 MARSHALL Prediction: WIN
Yes I only dropped them to #8 like I said with Alabama, I like to see teams schedule tough games and I will not penalize a team harshly for losing to a good team. They welcome the Thundering Herd to Blacksburg this week and it will be interesting to see if there is any Alabama-Slama hangover in this one. I don't think there will be look for the shutout.

9 Boise St. 1-0 vs #119 MIAMI OH Prediction: WIN
Well this may be the highest you will see Boise State all year. They are coming off there first home win over a ranked opponett(they have only played one in the last ten years) and now they open up there 11 game March to the BCS. If they slip up it will be incredible but this week they will put up 60 on the Redhawks. Damn I hate the BCS.

10 BYU 1-0 AT #107 TULANE Prediction: WIN
Cinderella just showed up everyone and his name is Max Hall. Wow what a defensive showing by the Cougars, who allowed the potent OU offense 265 total yards passing and rushing. I know they were without Jermaine Gresham and Sam Bradford for most of the game but none of players on the BYU team would ever be considered better athleticly then the Sooners have on their 4 deep depth chart. Fantastic win for the Cougs and the Mountain West is certainly making the case to be more deserved a BCS spot then the Big East. They will throttle Tulane on the high from the OU upset.

11 Oklahoma 0-1 vs IDAHO ST Prediction: WIN
Sam Bradford out for 4 weeks, may be short enought for them to stay in contention.

12 Oklahoma St. 1-0 vs #42 HOUSTON Prediction: WIN
I know they beat Georgia, but I think people will be suprised about how far Georgia will fall this year. Watch out for the Cougs!

13 California 1-0 vs E WASHINGTON Prediction: WIN
Cal Blowout nuff said, E Washington? Really?

14 LSU 1-0 vs #53 VANDERBUILT Prediction: WIN
Beat a 0-12 team last year and now face Vanderbuilt, when does LSU season begin?

15 Nebraska 1-0 vs #89 ARKANSAS ST Prediction: WIN
Bo Pelini has them focused and motivated that will continue this week.

16 Georgia 0-1 vs #39 SOUTH CAROLINA Prediction: LOSS
Upset alert, letdown factor and Joe Cox is very average. Say hello to Eric Norwood.

17 TCU 0-0 AT #108 VIRGINIA Prediction: WIN
They get the loser of the William and Mary game. Cavs are horrible, Goodbye Al Groh!

18 Georgia Tech 1-0 vs #33 CLEMSON Prediction: WIN
Second best game of the weekend and GTech out works another ACC team.

19 Utah 1-0 AT #90 SAN JOSE ST Prediction: WIN
Get the dismantled San Jose St team, should have a cake walk.

20 Michigan St. 1-0 vs #59 CENT MICHIGAN Prediction: WIN
The Spartans will get a test from another state school, Mark D'Antonio will not let the slip happen.

21 North Carolina 1-0 AT #57 UCONN Prediction: WIN
22 Iowa 1-0 AT #92 IOWA ST Prediction: LOSS
23 Miami (Fla.) 1-0 IDLE IDLE
24 Florida St. 0-1 JACKSONVILLE ST Prediction: WIN
25 Texas Tech 1-0 #88 RICE Prediction: WIN

Best of the Rest.
Cincinnati 1-0 SE MISSOURI ST Prediction: WIN
Oregon 0-1 #69 PURDUE Prediction: WIN
Oregon St. 1-0 AT #81 UNLV Prediction: WIN
West Virginia 1-0 #47 EAST CAROLINA Prediction: LOSS
Pittsburgh 1-0 AT #71 BUFFALO Prediction: LOSS
Notre Dame 1-0 AT #60 MICHIGAN Prediction: WIN
Missouri 1-0 #75 BOWLING GREEN Prediction: WIN


JP Top 25 - 9/9/09

The new JP25 is out! No changes in the top 3, but the reshuffling of the rest of the deck has certainly begun.

1. Texas (LW: 1, Record: 1-0)
2. Florida (2, 1-0)
3. USC (3, 1-0)
4. Alabama (6, 1-0) - The Tide defense was impressive in the win over Virginia Tech
5. Penn State (7, 1-0) - Best team in the Big Ten
6. LSU (8, 1-0)
7. California (12, 1-0) - Watch out for the Bears and Jahvid Best
8. BYU (NR, 1-0) - Cougars make the biggest jump in the poll thanks to their huge win over Oklahoma
9. Tennessee (25, 1-0) - Another big jump; Let me be the first to tell you - better watch out for Lane Kiffin's Vols
10. Virginia Tech (5, 0-1)
11. Oklahoma State (24, 1-0) - Cowboys looked much better defensively than I expected
12. Ohio State (9, 1-0) - There's a lot of work to do on the offensive line; not good with USC coming to town for the weekend
13. Boise State (15, 1-0) - Lost in the post-game melee was the fact that Boise State is once again going to field a legitimate top 25 defense.
14. Oklahoma (4, 0-1) - The Sooners are in trouble; Big Game Bob hasn't won a big game in how many years now?
15. Miami (13, 1-0) - Jacory Harris is for real
16. Ole Miss (11, 1-0)
17. Nebraska (14, 1-0) - There is work to be done on offense
18. Florida State (21, 0-1) - Seminoles move up despite losing to Miami
19. Notre Dame (19, 1-0) - Love the Notre Dame receiving corps
20. Georgia (10, 0-1)
21. Michigan (NR, 1-0) - We'll find out whether Notre Dame or Michigan will stay alive in the "are they really back?" sweepstakes
22. Arizona State (NR, 1-0) - Look out for this Sun Devil defense; they might end up out-scoring the Sun Devil offense this season
23. Cincinnati (NR, 1-0) - Tony Pike kicks off his Bo Jackson Trophy campaign with a bang against out-manned Rutgers
24. East Carolina (23, 1-0)
25. TCU (18, 0-0)

Dropped Out:
N.C. State (LW: 16, Record: 0-1) - Tom O'Brien still doesn't have the offensive line where it needs to be
Oregon (17, 0-1) - No first downs until the middle of the third quarter; Chip Kelly looked overwhelmed
Illinois (20, 0-1) - Speaking of overwhelmed...
Colorado (22, 0-1) - Coaches, please don't let your babies grow up to play quarterback for you;


BP25 Week 1

Well its time again so lets get to the preseason Rankings!

Rank Team Last Year Conf and Overall Record

1 Florida 7-1 12-1 Vs Charleston Southern Prediction:WIN
The National Champs open up with the weakest opening opponet of any FBS School and are a 73 point Favorite, with over 20 returning starters and the entire defense two deep coming back this one should not even be played. If Charleston makes it to the red zone it would be considered a success.

2 Texas 7-1 12-1 Vs UL-Monroe Prediction:WIN
Colt McCoy leads the Horns and should dispose of ULM fairly quickly. My Co-editor has always been a Longhorn supporter and for the first time ever I may start drinking the burnt orange Kool-aid.

3 Oklahoma 7-1 12-2 Vs #25 BYU(Arlington) Prediction:WIN
Jermaine Greshem will be out in this one, but there is simply too much talent on the Oklahoma side and BYU is very soft. Another Jerry World game in the giant stadium and will have a first hand account of this one. More to come.

4 Southern Cal. 7-1 12-1 Vs San Jose St. Prediction:WIN
Pete Carroll has the Trojans primed again even with a mini QB competition. Whoever starts will have the priviledge of handing off to the stable of backs led by Joe McKnight or passing to the bevy of wideouts led by Damian Williams. Taylor Mays is worth all the hype, poor Kyle Reed.

5 Alabama 8-0 12-2 Vs #8 Virginia Tech(Atl) Prediction:WIN
Nick Saban is in his third year which usually means National Championship this game will go along way in showing that and with the injuries on the Hokie side I look for them to do just that. Even though I am not a Saban fan, he is good in the big game and Julio goes to the down to the schoolyard and does just enough to win this one. Watch out for Marquis Maze.

6 Ohio St. 7-1 10-3 Vs Navy Prediction:WIN
This is the start of the Terrelle Pryor Heisman push, forget the big three give me this darkhorse to force his way into consideration. The Midshipman cannot keep up in this one and the Navy decline starts this year, from Navy we will miss you Paul Johnson.

7 Penn St. 7-1 11-2 Vs Akron Prediction:WIN
The leadership of Darryl Clark will pull them thru the first three games but that WR corps will need to be up to speed when the Hawkeyes come to town in three weeks.

8 Virginia Tech 5-3 10-4 Vs #5 Alabama(ATL) Prediction:LOSS
I love Tyrod Taylor but the loss of Darren Evans will be felt the defense is brillant but the offense will become one demensional in this one and Bama has enough to squeak this one out. But Kam Chancellor and Jason Worilds will take out Greg McElroy and we will see Starr Jackson contribute.

9 Mississippi 5-3 9-4 AT Memphis Prediction:WIN
Jevan Snead is a very underrated QB, and the Rebels have a very favorable September Schedule, but they will have to not have any mental breakdowns and be undefeated when the play Alabama October 10th to have any chance at BCS consideration. The Defense is also very underrated and Kendrick Lewis will show why this is a program on the rise.

10 Boise St. 8-0 12-1 Vs #21 Oregon Prediction:WIN
In what they are calling the biggest game in Boise, the Broncoes will take care of business in a close one. Also did you know this is the first time in 5 years the Broncoes have hosted a ranked team? And they deserve to be in BCS talk....Hmmmm.

11 Georgia 6-2 10-3 AT #13 Okla St Prediction:WIN
One of the biggest games on opening weekend. With RB Caleb King and new QB Joe Cox leading the way for the dawgs, it will be up to the defense to stop that potent OSU triplets, the Dawg defense will be up to the challenge and with Mark Richt winning his last 7 road games I think this one will be lower scoring then people think. But I will be going against the experts in this one and the defense of OSU lets Georgia control the clock.

12 California 5-3 9-4 Vs Maryland Prediction:WIN
They were jet lagged going into play the Terrapins last year and they lost which also lost alot of momentum leading to a four loss season. Wont happen this time Jahvid Best and his sore foot run thru the Turtle and the Cal D is the difference in this one.

13 Oklahoma St. 5-3 9-4 Vs #11 Georgia Prediction:LOSS
See Georgia. But the MLB Orie Lemon injury will really hurt the Cowboy D in this one.

14 TCU 7-1 11-2 IDLE
Have to wait a week for a real BCS buster to start there season. Sorry Boise St.

15 LSU 3-5 8-5 At Washington Prediction:WIN
This is a underrated team, they underachieved last year and will be poised for revenge all year, Jordan Jefferson will put Jarrett Lee back to holding a clip board and waiting for another fake FG to be needed. Washington will be improved but LSU is too much to start with.

16 Nebraska 5-3 9-4 Vs Florida Atl Prediction:WIN
Bo Pelini has the Huskers primed and ready and will put away the Owls fast. It will be interesting on how the Quinten Castille being dropped from the team will impact the depth. Enter Collins Okafor.

17 Florida St. 5-3 9-4 Vs Miami Fla Prediction:LOSS
This will another win vacated for Bobby Bowden. A lot of inexperience one the defense and Jacory and Canes are ready to push for a ACC Coastal Title. Don't look now but I think the Canes might be back. Call Vinny Testeverde.

18 Georgia Tech 5-3 9-4 Vs Jacksonville St. Prediction:WIN
I really like this team, Paul Johnson's offense is about as old school as Joe Paterno's glasses and teams are too finesse these days to deal with it. I look for big things from the Jackets this year and Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones will combine for the first 1 million yard season, well maybe just 2000 combined.

19 Utah 8-0 13-0 Vs Utah St. Prediction:WIN
Oh where has Brian Johnson gone. He will be missed and we will see how much on Sept 19 against Oregon. They will sleepwalk thru this one and next week At San Jose St.

20 Michigan St. 6-2 9-4 Vs Montana St Prediction: WIN
I know my co-editor will not like this but how can a team losing Brian Hoyer and Javon Ringer still be even ranked? Mark DanTonio. I like what he is doing to this program and the Mark Dell show starts this year. Someone call Charles Rogers and let him know we finally have another big game WR at Sparta. (that is if you can find Charles Rogers.)

21 Oregon 7-2 10-3 AT #10 Boise St. Prediction:LOSS
Jeremiah Masoli will keep ball control in this one, but it wont be enough to prevent the Blue Field put Oregon to sleep. Boise is taking this one like a National Championship game, but Oregon will keep it close.

22 North Carolina 4-4 8-5 Vs The Citadel Prediction:WIN
That ACC Coastal will be fun to watch this year as the Heels look to continue thier success from last year's 8 win season. Quan Sturdivant and Kendric Burney will be household names by season end.

23 Iowa 5-3 9-4 Vs Norther Iowa Prediction:WIN
Kirk Ferentz silenced critics last year with a 9 win campaign and should continue that success this year. Ricky Stanzi better have the Hawk undefeated going into Happy Valley on Sept 26, if not the seat will become hot again for Kirky.

24 Texas Tech 7-1 11-2 Vs North Dakota Prediction:WIN
There are two things you can count on in this 2009 season Tech will schedule a opening cupcake and will have another 4500 yard passer in Tyler Potts. The dream ends on Sept 19 at Texas.

25 BYU 6-2 10-3 AT #3 Oklahoma(Arlington) Prediction:LOSS
Can you say soft. Max Hall head will be spinning in this one. Way to much Athleticism for the Cougars.

Other Considerations:
Oregon St. 7-2 9-4 Vs Portland St. WIN
Jacquizz please stand up.

West Virginia 4-2 9-4 Vs Liberty WIN
Jarrett Brown says, Who is Pat White?

Pittsburgh 4-2 9-4 Vs Youngstown St WIN
Man I hate Bill Stull.

Cincinnati 6-1 11-3 AT Rutgers LOSS
Too much lost on the Defense, but Tony Pike for Heisman

Notre Dame 0-0 7-6 Vs Nevada WIN
Alot of critics have them ranked and are calling for BCS, remember this team lost 6 games last year, and USC named the score. Prove it Irish! Watch out for Colin Kaepernick of Nevada if he goes off and pulls the upset, I would be in heaven, with Touchdown Jesus. Go Wolfpack.

Rutgers 4-2 8-5 Vs Cincinnati WIN
It will be low scoring and the Home field will make a difference in this one.

Clemson 4-4 7-6 Vs MTSU WIN
Dabo is Fab-o! I know very cheesy but CJ Spiller won't be he will torch the Raiders.

Kansas 4-4 8-5 Vs Northern Colo. WIN
Watch Dezmon Briscoe go off. The most underrated Wideout in the Big 12.

Miami (Fla.) 4-4 7-6 AT #17 Florida St. WIN
Best team Randy Shannon has ever had, speed, speed, speed. And it starts with a upset of the Seminole.

Illinois 3-5 5-7 Vs Missouri(St Louis)WIN
Juice is loose. Hold all OJ references. Missouri is poised to have a huge dropoff this year.


Thursday Night Previews

Football season is here! It all gets under way tonight with a couple of intriguing rematches.

South Carolina at N.C. State
(6 pm, ESPN)
South Carolina blanked N.C. State 34-0 on opening week a year ago. But both teams went in the exact opposite directions the rest of the season. Now the Wolfpack are the favorites, thanks to the leadership of sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says that Stephen Garcia is the man at quarterback, but he hasn't proven enough up to this point.
J.Pike's Pick: N.C. State 26, South Carolina 18

Oregon at Boise State
(10:15 pm, ESPN)
Boise State took a big step toward respectability when the young Broncos went into Autzen Stadium and emerged victorious early in 2008. Now the Ducks must visit Boise and I'm not sure they have what it takes to win on the blue turf. This is the game of the year for Chris Peterson's bunch - the game many feel could stand between Boise State and an undefeated season - so you know they'll be ready. The experience heavily favors Boise too, with Oregon only returning nine starters and featuring a first year head coach. Look for the Broncos to make a statement with their defense early on and ride the momentum to a win.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 30, Oregon 24


Preseason Top 40

The season starts tomorrow, so I guess it's time to finally unveil my preseason top 40. I'll go the annoying route and start from 40 and count down. Luckily my top 25 can be found in a more traditional format on the sidebar over there...

40. PITTSBURGH - Big hole to fill at running back, but the Panthers are still a bowl team.

39. GEORGIA TECH - I think reality catches up with Paul Johnson in Year Two. The ACC is more prepared for his triple option offense and he doesn't have the same great defensive line he could rely on last year when the offense stalled.

38. VIRGINIA - The Cavaliers will surprise some folks this year thanks to the addition of offensive coordinator Gregg Branndon and the return of quarterback Jameel Sewell. Keep your eye on all purpose playmaker Vic Hall too.

37. UTAH - After another undefeated season that ended in a BCS Bowl win over Alabama, the Utes must find a quarterback. Brian Johnson won't be easily replaced.

36. AUBURN - Gene Chizik isn't nearly as bad a coach as many are making him out to be. There's still talent on this roster and nobody is talking about the Tigers. Watch out for an upset or two this season.

35. TEXAS TECH - Sure, Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell are gone. But since when has Texas Tech not been able to score points?

34. CINCINNATI - Bo Jackson Trophy candidate Tony Pike gets the quarterback for a full season. But will he and Mardy Gilyard be able to compensate for the heavy losses on defense?

33. BYU - Arizona exposed the Cougars in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, and I expect Oklahoma to expose them in week one this season.

32. ARIZONA STATE - Dennis Erickson leads an under-the-radar Sun Devil team that will actually play decent defense while Danny Sullivan adjusts to the starting QB role.

31. WEST VIRGINIA - I expect the Mountaineers to improve their consistency in Bill Stewart's second season as the head coach. Jarrett Brown is no Pat White, but he's a good player that will keep the offense moving.

30. OREGON STATE - The Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz and James) have speed to spare. I'm still not sold on the quarterback position, though.

29. KANSAS - Todd Reesing should continue to pile up the passing yards with leading receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier back. But the Jayhawks will take a step back on defense due to the loss of their three productive linebackers.

28. MICHIGAN - What? Really? Sure, I guess. I'm going out on a limb here, but with players like Brandon Graham and Obi Ezeh on defense the Wolverines should be able to shut down most of the Big Ten offenses they will match up with. And the offense has nowhere to go but up, which is usually does in a big way in Rich Rodriguez's second season as head coach. Stay tuned to this soap opera all season.

27. ARKANSAS - Bobby Petrino quietly got significant improvement out of the Razorbacks as the 2008 season progressed. With players like RB Michael Smith and DT Malcolm Sheppard returning, don't be surprised to see Arkansas crack the top 25 at some point.

26. NORTH CAROLINA - Despite the absence of any real "name" players on the Tar Heels, Butch Davis will make sure his team continues to improve.

25. TENNESSEE - Lane Kiffin's Vols grab the last spot in the top 25 thanks to All-World safety Eric Berry. I don't care about the recruiting class - I simply think there is enough talent on hand here to win now. And now that the offense finally seems stable for the first time in several years, I feel like Tennessee might be a dark horse in the SEC.

24. OKLAHOMA STATE - After an embarrassing beat-down handed out by Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, I'm not sure why Oklahoma State is getting so much preseason love. The Ducks return just as much as the Cowboys, yet in just about every pre-season poll Oklahoma State is ranked much higher. That only means Mike Gundy's team has farther to fall - reality will probably rear it's ugly head when Georgia comes to town.

23. EAST CAROLINA - The Pirates proved their mettle early last season when they knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Basically the same team returns this year and gets to play West Virginia and North Carolina early, as well as the rematch with Virginia Tech later to prove their worth. I have a feeling they'll end up winning two of those three games.

22. COLORADO - How are the Buffs going to go from a sub-.500 team in 2008 to a top 25 team in 2009? By staying healthy (particularly on the offensive line and at running back); by staying aggressive (many fast starts in 2008 were tempered when Dan Hawkins pulled his foot off the accelerator); and by giving the ball to Rodney Stewart (a lot).

21. FLORIDA STATE - I'm giving the Seminoles the benefit of the doubt for the first time in several seasons. Although they have done nothing to impress me, I'll admit that Christian Ponder is a step up at quarterback, and Jimbo Fisher is generally a capable offensive coordinator. The 'Noles are just as likely to slide back into obscurity, though.

20. ILLINOIS - I'm a Juice Williams fan. I'm also a fan of Arrelious Benn and Martez Wilson. Between the three of those guys and the fact that the rest of the Big Ten isn't all that good, I'm going to say Ron Zook has another big year with the Illini.

19. NOTRE DAME - Jimmy Clausen and company are now starting to get the hang of Charlie Weis' offense. Combine that with the weak schedule and there's no way the Irish don't get to at least 9 wins this season.

18. TCU - Defense will once again be the name of the game in Fort Worth. Gary Patterson can lean on All American defensive end Jerry Hughes, who also happens to be the front-runner for the 2009 Faulk Trophy.

17. OREGON - Even though Mike Bellotti retired, there is continuity in the Ducks program. Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly was promoted to head coach and he has weapons like LeGarrette Blount and Jeremiah Masoli at his disposal.

16. N.C. STATE - The rebuilding job for head coach Tom O'Brien got a lot easier with the emergence of freshman quarterback Russell Wilson in 2008. 2009 should find the Wolfpack in the thick of the ACC Atlantic Division race.

15. BOISE STATE - Could it be? Are the Broncos a legitimate defensive force now too? A good defense, including one of the best secondaries in the land, is now a year older, and so is quarterback Kellen Moore.

14. NEBRASKA - Bo Pelini has the Huskers on the right track which means that despite some heavy losses on offense, Nebraska will continue to improve.

13. MIAMI - Randy Shannon played a wealth of talented true freshman a year ago, and that should begin to pay dividends in 2009. The defense has size and speed and will be an imposing group that improves every week. The offense will be fine despite the transfer of quarterback Robert Marve. In fact, I like Jacory Harris even better.

12. CALIFORNIA - The challenger to USC in the Pac-10 boasts one of the best running backs in the nation in Jahvid Best.

11. OLE MISS - The Rebels have been getting loads of acclaim heaped on them this pre-season thanks to the turnaround job Houston Nutt performed in his first season in Oxford (are you paying attention Arkansas fans?). I'm not sure Ole Miss has a legit shot at overtaking Alabama and LSU in the SEC West, but they should be very good with players like Dexter McCluster, Jevan Snead, and Greg Hardy.

10. GEORGIA - That's right. Don't count out the Dawgs just because they lost Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno to the NFL. Joe Cox is unspectacular, but he should be consistent - especially with sophomore WR A.J. Green catching his passes.

9. OHIO STATE - Terrelle Pryor is the new sherriff in Columbus, and he appears to have all the tools to take the Buckeyes to great heights. I actually think the receiver play will improve this season after losing Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline.

8. LSU - Les Miles took some lumps last year, but he finally found his quarterback in Jordan Jefferson. Look for the Tigers to jump back into the national spotlight in a big way in 2009.

7. PENN STATE - Evan Royster is one of the most underrated players in the nation. Combine him with returning senior quarterback Daryll Clark and you have an offense that shouldn't skip a beat despite losing its top three receivers. The defense will once again be anchored by a fantastic pair of defensive tackles and a solid group of linebackers.

6. ALABAMA - I have no doubt that Alabama will continue to be a physical team that can run the football. Throw in mega-talent Julio Jones at wide receiver and you have what should be a very capable offense to go along with a veteran defense that will beat up most opposing offenses it faces.

5. VIRGINIA TECH - Frank Beamer is one of the best coaches in the nation. His Hokies won the ACC title a year ago with very little returning experience. This year many of those key pieces are back. Look for quarterback Tyrod Taylor to have a breakout season and keep Virginia Tech in the national title hunt deep into the season.

4. OKLAHOMA - Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham gave up millions of NFL dollars to return for another shot at the title. Unfortunately only one starter is back on the O-Line. The Sooners are talented and should be very good, but the defense has yet to step back up to the elite level they were at in the early part of this decade. That will once again keep them from winning Bob Stoops crystal football number two.

3. USC - For some reason the fact that freshman Matt Barkley won the quarterback job coming out of fall camp makes me more confident in the Trojans. USC's biggest weakness the past three seasons has been the quarterback spot, so if a freshman is good enough to unseat Aaron Corp, a guy the coaches were high on a year ago, I get the feeling we might be seeing the early stages of another Carson Palmer/Matt Leinart type. The defense loses everybody, but this is USC - they've got plenty of guys ready to step in and play.

2. FLORIDA - Go ahead and ban me from the college football world. I don't think Florida is the best team coming into the 2009 season. Sure, they won the 2008 national title and return the bulk of the roster. But I'm not convinced they played against the best team a year ago, and that team returns the bulk of a loaded roster as well. That team is...

1. TEXAS - The Longhorns played like national champions throughout the 2008 season, including a convincing victory over an Oklahoma team that wound up playing for the Big XII and National Championships. I still feel like the nation was robbed by not getting to see the two best teams duke it out for the national title.

Colt McCoy returns, moustached, to continue his tear through opposing offenses. Jordan Shipley and emerging star Malcolm Williams headline a deep receiving corps that should make up for an injury-depleted set of tight ends. Will Muschamp's defense should be among the finest in America. Sergio Kindle is the star, but the secondary is actually the strongest unit. They run two deep at every position in the back four, and all eight of those guys are capable of big things.

The Longhorns are my pick to win the 2009 National Championship.


SEC Preview

Projected Records & Standings

East Division
1. FLORIDA             11-1  (7-1)
2. GEORGIA 9-3 (5-3)
3. TENNESSEE 8-4 (4-4)
4. SOUTH CAROLINA 6-6 (3-5)
5. VANDERBILT 5-7 (2-6)
6. KENTUCKY 6-6 (2-6)
West Division
1. ALABAMA             10-2  (7-1)
2. LSU 10-2 (6-2)
3. OLE MISS 9-3 (5-3)
4. ARKANSAS 7-5 (4-4)
5. AUBURN 6-6 (3-5)

East Champion: FLORIDA
Big shocker here. Everyone and their mothers are picking Florida to win not only the SEC East, but the national championship as well. The Gators return the bulk of a championship roster, so another SEC crown and run at the national title is not out of the question. HOWEVER, I will go out on a limb and guarantee Urban Meyer and company will lose at least once this season, possibly at LSU on October 10th.

West Champion: ALABAMA
Nick Saban quickly put his stamp on the Alabama program, which paid big dividends in 2008. The Crimson Tide’s calling card was their toughness and line play en route to a near-flawless first three months of the season. The Tide have a lot of turnover on offense this year, but if Star Jackson wins the quarterback job they could be more explosive. Even if Alabama doesn’t improve offensively, the defense should be good enough to carry the team to at least 9 wins.

Question the Hype: OLE MISS
Whoa, people. Let’s slow down on putting Ole Miss in the top 5 already. I like Houston Nutt and I like his team heading into the season, but the Rebels play in the best division in college football. Nutt is only in his second year. He picked up a couple of nice wins in 2008, and there will be more big wins over the course of his tenure in Oxford, but to leapfrog Alabama and LSU during a season in which Arkansas is poised to make a jump in the standings as well just doesn’t seem realistic to me. Not yet at least.

Could Surprise: TENNESSEE
Lane Kiffin made more enemies in his first three months on the job than most coaches make their entire careers. Most opposing SEC fans are rooting for the Vols to go 0-12 in his rookie season – along with probably the majority of opposing SEC coaches. But Kiffin has two secret weapons in his father Monte and superstar safety Eric Berry. Berry is a rare talent that will anchor what should be at the very least a solid defense.

Offensively, the Vols have an actual direction for a change after converting from running team to passing team to spread offense and back again seemingly by the series over the last several seasons. That means Tennessee will be a more stable team than they have been recently, a strange fact considering the program is in a state of turnover due to the coaching change.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
WR-Julio Jones, Alabama
QB-Tim Tebow, Florida
OT-Ciron Black, LSU

Ten to Watch:
WR-A.J. Green, Georgia
OG-Mike Johnson, Alabama
WR-Brandon LaFell, LSU
WR-Dexter McCluster, Ole Miss
RB-Chris Rainey/Jeff Demps, Florida
RB-Charles Scott, LSU
RB-Alphonso Smith, Kentucky
RB-Michael Smith, Arkansas
QB-Jevan Snead, Ole Miss
TE-D.J. Williams, Arkansas

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
SS-Eric Berry, Tennessee
LB-Brandon Spikes, Florida
DT-Terrence Cody, Alabama

Fifteen to Watch:
DE-Rahim Alem, LSU
FS-Ahmad Black, Florida
DE-Antonio Coleman, Auburn
LB-Rennie Curran, Georgia
DE-Jermaine Cunningham, Florida
CB-Joe Haden, Florida
DE-Greg Hardy, Ole Miss
CB-Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt
CB-Trevard Lindley, Kentucky
LB-Rolando McClain, Alabama
CB-Walter McFadden, Auburn
LB-Eric Norwood, South Carolina
DT-Jeff Owens, Georgia
CB-Patrick Peterson, LSU
DT-Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas


Big XII Preview

Projected Records & Standings

South Division
1. TEXAS              12-0  (8-0)
2. OKLAHOMA 11-1 (7-1)
3. TEXAS TECH 7-5 (4-4)
4. OKLAHOMA STATE 7-5 (4-4)
5. BAYLOR 6-6 (3-5)
6. TEXAS A&M 5-7 (2-6)
North Division
1. NEBRASKA            9-3  (6-2)
2. COLORADO 8-4 (4-4)
3. KANSAS 8-4 (4-4)
4. MISSOURI 6-6 (3-5)
5. KANSAS STATE 6-6 (3-5)
6. IOWA STATE 3-9 (0-8)
South Champion: TEXAS
The Longhorns shared the South Division title in 2008 and defeated arch-rival Oklahoma in the process. 2009 looks like it could follow a very similar script. Mack Brown has put together potentially his most talented team yet, so it’s only a matter of stepping up to the plate and giving a consistent performance every week for Texas to win the South again.

The secondary looks to be the best in the nation, and the receiving corps is a year older and should give Colt McCoy even more weapons to unleash on opposing defenses. On the other side of the ball look for Sergio Kindle to wreak havoc on offensive tackles much the way Brian Orakpo did a season ago. Freshman defensive end Alex Okafor has the potential to step right into a starting spot and make sure defenses pay if they concentrate too much on blocking Kindle. This defense is going to be really good.

North Champion: NEBRASKA
Bo Pelini is still in the building process at Nebraska, but luckily so is the entire North Division. The Huskers have the benefit of one of the brightest young defensive minds in football. Add to that one of the best interior linemen in the nation – defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh – and you have two big reasons why the Blackshirts will continue on the road toward rebuilding their battered reputation. There are some big questions offensively (WR? new QB?), but the offensive line looks to be a team strength – and that’s always a good place to start.

Could Surprise (South): TEXAS A&M
Everyone already knows Baylor is on the cusp of qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 1994, thanks to the coaching of Art Briles and the play of sophomore sensation Robert Griffin at quarterback. So it should be no surprise when they meet their raised expectations.

Texas A&M, however, is getting dumped on by everybody. Even I’m picking them last in the Big XII South. Mike Sherman is on the hot seat according to some Aggie fans, even though he has only been in town for a single season. But don’t be surprised if they end up being one of the most improved teams in the conference - and that includes Baylor. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson is legit. He has an arm that A&M fans have never seen the likes of before. Throw in a pair of talented young tailbacks and a nice all-purpose threat in QB/WR Ryan Tannehill and you have what could be a solid offense.

There is still much work to do on the other side of the ball where Dennis Franchione left the cupboard completely bare. But Sherman is a good coach and they will improve in that area as well. For Texas A&M in 2009 the only question is how big a step they will take in their improvement.

Could Surprise (North): MISSOURI
Don’t expect the Tigers to disappear off the face of the earth just because Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and a host of other playmakers are gone. Don’t get me wrong, they will take a step back – but it won’t be a big one. Gary Pinkel knows his system and recruits to it well. Blaine Gabbert will be fine at quarterback, and in fact might even surpass Daniel by the time his career at Missouri is over. It’s a transitional season for Missouri, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop scoring points and qualifying for bowls.

Question the Hype: THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
What has the state of Oklahoma done to deserve all this hype? Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are consensus top 10 picks, and many preseason polls have them both in the top 5! Somebody needs to fill me in on their credentials because I don’t consider wins over Missouri to be worthy of the kind of praise that is being heaped on these two teams heading into the 2009 season.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
QB-Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
QB-Colt McCoy, Texas
QB-Robert Griffin, Baylor

Ten to Watch:
WR-Brandon Banks, Kansas State
WR-Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
TE-Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
RB-Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
QB-Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
WR-Kerry Meier, Kansas
OT-Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
QB-Todd Reesing, Kansas
WR-Jordan Shipley, Texas
RB-Rodney Stewart, Colorado

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DT-Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
LB/DE-Sergio Kindle, Texas
DT-Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

Ten to Watch:
DE-Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
CB-Dominique Franks, Oklahoma
FS-Jordan Lake, Baylor
LB-Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB-Joe Pawelek, Baylor
SS-Darrell Stuckey, Kansas
SS-Earl Thomas, Texas
LB-Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
DT-Colby Whitlock, Texas Tech
CB-Aaron Williams, Texas