8.29.2009

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)
6. MISSISSIPPI STATE 2-10 (0-8)

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

8.27.2009

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

8.22.2009

Pac-10 Preview

Projected Records & Standings
1. USC                10-2  (8-1)
2. CALIFORNIA 10-2 (7-2)
3. OREGON 8-4 (6-3)
4. ARIZONA STATE 8-4 (6-3)
5. OREGON STATE 8-4 (5-4)
6. STANFORD 7-5 (5-4)
7. ARIZONA 6-6 (3-6)
8. UCLA 4-8 (3-6)
9. WASHINGTON 4-8 (3-6)
10.WASHINGTON STATE 1-11 (0-9)
Champion: USC
Is there really anybody else you can pick to win the Pac-10? Even though Cal looks to have a good team and might even beat USC this season, and USC is as inexperienced on defense as they have ever been, you still have to give the Trojans the nod. Until Pete Carroll proves otherwise, he’s the coach to beat in the Pac-10. I’ll even go so far as to say the offense might get better in 2009. I never really liked John David Booty or Matt Sanchez at the quarterback spot – they seemed to miss out on a lot of big play opportunities with inaccurate throws down the field. If new quarterback Aaron Corp has better touch on the deep ball, look out.

Question the Hype: UCLA
There’s not much that angers me more than hearing UCLA fans blame their pitiful 2008 season (4-8) on former head coach Karl Dorrell. Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the Bruins winning more than four games a season when Dorrell was coaching? I hear the “poor recruiting” card played on Dorrell a lot, and I just don’t buy it. The guy won games with his players (he beat USC just two seasons ago), and Neuheisel didn’t – it’s that simple.

So why is UCLA widely expected to make dramatic improvements in 2009? They have the same porous offensive line blocking for the same running backs and an even more inexperienced quarterback. More importantly, though, a defense that was the only bright spot on the team a year ago lost their coordinator when DeWayne Walker left to take over as head coach at New Mexico State. Walker was a great DC and I expect the Bruins to take a step back on defense without him, even though several playmakers return on that side of the ball.

Could Surprise: ARIZONA STATE
Arizona loses their quarterback, top receiver, and most talented running back. They also have had some of the worst offensive line play in the Pac-10 over the past two seasons. So why do I expect the Sun Devils to step up in 2009? Well the defense has the makings to be one of the best in the conference. The top tackler (LB Mike Nixon), sack leader (DE Dexter Davis), and interception leader (Nixon) all return. Additionally, four starters return on the offensive line and Danny Sullivan is a big-armed quarterback who could make Dennis Erickson’s offense hum if he can adjust to the starting role.

If that’s not enough, get this stat: since 2002, Arizona State has finished ranked in the top 25 every season in which they were unranked in the preseason. The Sun Devils aren't ranked anywhere near the top 25 so far this preseason.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
RB-Jahvid Best, California
RB-Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
RB-LeGarrette Blount, Oregon

Ten to Watch:
QB-Aaron Corp/Matt Barkley, USC
RB-Toby Gerhart, Stanford
WR-D’Andre Goodwin, Washington
TE-Rob Gronkowski, Arizona
QB-Jake Locker, Washington
QB-Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon
RB-James Montgomery, Washington State
C-Kris O’Dowd, USC
WR-James Rodgers, Oregon State
QB-Matt Scott, Arizona
WR-Damien Williams, USC

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DT-Brian Price, UCLA
CB-Syd’Quan Thompson, California
LB-Mike Nixon, Arizona State

Ten to Watch:
LB-Reggie Carter, UCLA
DE-Dexter Davis, Arizona State
DE-Everson Griffen, USC
DT-Lawrence Guy, Arizona State
LB-Keaton Kristick, Oregon State
FS-Taylor Mays, USC
DE-Daniel Te’O-Nesheim, Washington
CB-Walter Thurmond, Oregon
CB-Trevin Wade, Arizona
CB-Alterraun Verner, UCLA

8.21.2009

ACC Preview

Projected Records & Standings

Atlantic Division
1. FLORIDA STATE       8-4  (5-3)
2. N.C. STATE 9-3 (5-3)
3. CLEMSON 6-6 (3-5)
4. MARYLAND 6-6 (3-5)
5. WAKE FOREST 6-6 (3-5)
6. BOSTON COLLEGE 5-7 (2-6)
Coastal Division
1. VIRGINIA TECH      11-1  (8-0)
2. MIAMI 9-3 (6-2)
3. NORTH CAROLINA 9-3 (5-3)
4. VIRGINIA 7-5 (4-4)
5. GEORGIA TECH 6-6 (3-5)
6. DUKE 4-8 (1-7)
Atlantic Champion: FLORIDA STATE
Even though I think N.C. State might end up being the best team in the Atlantic Division, Florida State has the benefit of playing the Wolfpack in Tallahassee, FL. Therefore, as long as there are no silly rules like in the Big XII, Florida State will most likely hold the tie-breaker advantage. The Seminoles will look for improvement in the running game in 2009. With up-and-comer Jermaine Thomas at running back and athletic Christian Ponder at quarterback running behind a veteran offensive line featuring road grater Rodney Hudson, Jimbo Fisher’s offense should be able to do just that.

Coastal Champion: VIRGINIA TECH
There’s not much doubt here. The Hokies are the defending ACC champions and return most of the key cogs that helped claim that title a year ago. Look for Tyrod Taylor to step up into the national spotlight in 2009 as he finally has the quarterback job all to himself. His all-purpose skills should make this offense crackle. Seven starters return on the defensive side of the ball where Bud Foster always gets the most out of his talent. Defensive end Jason Worilds, linebacker Cody Grimm, and cornerback Stephan Virgil are the new heirs to the Lunch Pail.

Question the Hype: GEORGIA TECH
Paul Johnson is a great coach. Most schools would take him to head up their program in a heartbeat. But let’s not put the cart before the horse here. Georgia Tech surprised a lot of people in 2008. In an improving conference with increasingly athletic defenses, I don’t think Johnson’s option offense will be able to take as many teams by surprise this time around. That’s not to say I don’t think the offense will work long term here, I just think the Coastal Division will be significantly improved in 2009. Also consider the defensive line – one of the most important pieces to the Yellow Jackets’ successful run a year ago – lost three players to the NFL. That’s no laughing matter - there will be a significant drop-off in the trenches. The defense will in turn take a step back, meaning the offense will have to shoulder more of the load.

Question the Hype, Part II: C.J. SPILLER
Is C.J. Spiller extremely athletic? Yes. Is he as dangerous as anybody in the open field? Probably. Is he a good every-down running back? Not sure yet. Is he dependable? No. Spiller has all the tools to become a great running back, but up to this point he hasn’t put together a full season that warrants the acclaim he has received. Worst of all, he has a tendency to disappear from games for spells when it looks like he just doesn’t feel like playing. I’m not sure if Spiller has the drive it takes to be a great football player. As of now, he’s simply a great athlete.

Could Surprise: VIRGINIA`
Nobody is talking about the Cavaliers in the Coastal Division. With Virginia Tech in command and Miami, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech all on the rise, it’s easy for the off-season changes in Charlottesville to go unnoticed. But the ‘Hoos deserve your attention. New offensive coordinator Gregg Branndon comes over from Bowling Green where he will install a more wide open offense. This is good news for returning quarterback Jameel Sewell, one of the best QBs in the ACC until he was forced to sit out 2008 due to academic shortcomings. Another benefactor should be Vic Hall, a converted cornerback with a ton of athleticism who surprisingly played quarterback in Virginia’s last two games a year ago. Look for Branndon to find creative ways to get Hall on the field. Head coach Al Groh is a fine coach who knows how to recruit offensive linemen with the best of them. Don’t be surprised when Virginia jumps at least one of those four division rivals I mentioned in the standings. Because they will.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
QB-Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
QB-Russell Wilson, N.C. State
RB-Da’Rel Scott, Maryland

Ten to Watch:
RB-Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech
RB-Darren Evans, Virginia Tech
OT-Jason Fox, Miami
QB/AP-Vic Hall, Virginia
QB-Jacory Harris, Miami
OG-Rodney Hudson, Florida State
QB-Thaddeus Lewis, Duke
QB-Josh Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
QB-Jameel Sewell, Virginia
RB/KR-C.J. Spiller, Clemson

Arrington Trophy Candidates:
Defending Arrington Trophy winner Mark Herzlich [LINK] was set to return at linebacker for Boston College in 2009 with one more year of eligibility. Unfortunately Herzlich was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer of the bones, during the offseason. His football career is probably over, but his legacy will live on here at Pikes Picks where we won’t soon forget his hard nosed play and stellar career. We think so highly of him that we are officially re-dedicating the trophy we award to the most outstanding defensive player in the nation. From now on it will be known as the Mark Herzlich Trophy. We wish Mr. Herzlich the best of luck in his battle.

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
LB-Sean Spence, Miami
DE-Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson
DE-Willie Young, N.C. State

Ten to Watch:
DT-Marvin Austin, North Carolina
DT-Allen Bailey, Miami
SS-Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech
CB-Ras-I Dowling, Virginia
LB-Cody Grimm, Virginia Tech
DT-Vince Oghobaase, Duke
NG-Boo Robinson, Wake Forest
CB-Stephan Virgil, Virginia Tech
LB-Dekoda Watson, Florida State
S-Deunta Williams, North Carolina
DE-Jason Worilds, Virginia Tech

8.20.2009

Big Ten Preview


Projected Records & Standings
1. PENN STATE         11-1  (7-1)
2. OHIO STATE 10-2 (6-2)
3. ILLINOIS 8-4 (5-3)
4. MICHIGAN 9-3 (5-3)
5. MICHIGAN STATE 7-5 (4-4)
6. IOWA 7-5 (4-4)
7. NORTHWESTERN 8-4 (4-4)
8. MINNESOTA 5-7 (3-5)
9. WISCONSIN 6-6 (3-5)
10.PURDUE 4-8 (2-6)
11.INDIANA 3-9 (1-7)
Champion: PENN STATE
The schedule sets up nicely for Penn State with Ohio State visiting Happy Valley. Those two are enough ahead of the rest of the pack that the conference title will probably come down to that game. Give the Nittany Lions the advantage because of senior quarterback Daryll Clark and what should again be a very good defense. The return of Sean Lee at linebacker will only make Navorro Bowman better. And Jared Odrick and Ollie Ogbu make up one of the best defensive tackle duos in the land. Add to that a running back who is one of the most underappreciated players in the nation in Evan Royster running behind an athletic offensive line and there is a real possibility Penn State could run the table and sneak their way into the National Title game.

Could Surprise: MICHIGAN
With seemingly everybody rooting against Rich Rodriguez at this point, it’s time to bring up the fact that his teams usually take the biggest step forward in year two. The defense didn’t always play well, but with players like DE Brandon Graham and LB Obi Ezeh the Wolverine defense should be in fine form. If the offense shows even the slightest bit of improvement – and there’s really no where else to go but up – Big Blue should find themselves in the top half of the Big Ten standings where they belong.

Here’s an early upset pick: Michigan will beat Ohio State in Ann Arbor this November.

Question the Hype: BIG TEN CONFERENCE
This conference is in a state of flux. Penn State and Ohio State are clearly the front-runners, but neither has proven capable of beating good teams from other conferences in recent seasons. Somebody is going to have to pick up a big NON-conference win in order to reverse the perception that the Big Ten is lagging behind the other major conferences. Unfortunately, outside of Ohio State playing USC, most of these schools seem content to avoid playing big non-conference games. So don’t be surprised if the Big Ten gets their clocks cleaned come bowl season yet again.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
QB-Juice Williams, Illinois
QB-Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
RB-Evan Royster, Penn State

Ten to Watch:
WR-Arrelious Benn, Illinois
RB-Carlos Brown, Michigan
OT-Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
OT-Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
QB-Daryll Clark, Penn State
WR-Eric Decker, Minnesota
RB-Jewel Hampton, Iowa
RB-Dan Herron, Ohio State
RB-Jaycen Taylor, Purdue
C-Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State

Arrington Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DE-Brandon Graham, Michigan
DT-Jared Odrick, Penn State
LB-Martez Wilson, Illinois

Ten to Watch:
LB-Pat Angerer, Iowa
LB-Navorro Bowman, Penn State
CB-Chimdi Chekwa, Ohio State
SS-Kurt Coleman, Ohio State
LB-Obi Ezeh, Michigan
LB-Greg Jones, Michigan State
DE-Jammie Kirlew, Indiana
DT-Ollie Ogbu, Penn State
CB-Donovan Warren, Michigan
DE-Corey Wootton, Northwestern

Big East Preview


Projected Records & Standings
1. CINCINNATI          8-4  (5-2)
2. RUTGERS 9-3 (5-2)
3. WEST VIRGINIA 8-4 (5-2)
4. PITTSBURGH 7-5 (4-3)
5. CONNECTICUT 6-6 (4-3)
6. SOUTH FLORIDA 5-7 (2-5)
7. LOUISVILLE 5-7 (2-5)
8. SYRACUSE 3-9 (1-6)
Co-Champions: CINCINNATI, RUTGERS, WEST VIRGINIA
It’s only fitting that the worst of the BCS Conferences ends in a three-way tie. None of the trio of Cincinnati, Rutgers, or West Virginia are solid enough to win the conference outright, but each has the potential to.

Cincinnati is probably the safest bet, with senior Tony Pike returning at quarterback along with weapons like WR/PR Mardy Gilyard and RB Isaiah Pead. But there are huge question marks on defense, especially in the secondary.

Rutgers has the least experience among skill position players, but they have the easiest schedule and have potentially the best offensive and defensive lines in the conference.

West Virginia has arguably the most talent, including senior quarterback Jarrett Brown, who has patiently waited his turn to take over for Pat White. But the Mountaineers still seem to be in a transitional period after the coaching change a year ago. If Bill Stewart can regain the consistency the program had under Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia will be the team to beat in the Big East.

Question the Hype: CINCINNATI
Head coach Brian Kelly was the hot name all offseason. He was mentioned for most of the big openings on the coaching carousel and was recently been named one of the top five best head coaches by The Sporting News. But Cincinnati loses 10 starters off a defense that held the team together while the Bearcats offense suffered through injury after injury at the quarterback position. Isaiah Pead should be an upgrade in the running game, and Mardy Gilyard is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, but Cincy will need to score more than the 25.9 points they averaged in 2008 in order to keep their spot atop the Big East.

Could Surprise: LOUISVILLE
I’ve been tooting the horn of Steve Kragthorpe for the past two years, urging Louisville fans to be patient – Kragthorpe had quite the house-cleaning project upon arriving in the wake of the Bobby Petrino mess. Well, it’s Year 3 now and so far, not-so-good. But I still have faith in Kragthorpe. He’s gotten rid of just about all the excess baggage and trimmed the roster down to guys who actually want to play football for him. With RB Victor Anderson and a decent receiving corps, I am keeping my eyes on Louisville as a team that could make a significant jump up the Big East standings if a couple breaks fall their way.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
RB-Noel Devine, West Virginia
WR-Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
OT-Anthony Davis, Rutgers

Ten to Watch:
RB-Victor Anderson, Louisville
RB-Antwon Bailey, Syracuse
WR-Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
WR-Doug Beaumont, Louisville
QB-Jarrett Brown, West Virginia
RB-Delone Carter, Syracuse
QB-Matt Grothe, South Florida
QB-Tony Pike, Cincinnati
OT-Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
WR-Mike Williams, Syracuse

Arrington Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DE-George Selvie, South Florida
DT-Arthur Jones, Syracuse
DT-Mick Williams, Pittsburgh

Ten to Watch:
FS-Nate Allen, South Florida
NT-Scooter Berry, West Virginia
LB-Ryan D’Imperio, Rutgers
LB-Adam Gunn, Pittsburgh
LB-Scott Lutrus, Connecticut
CB-Devin McCourty, Rutgers
DE-Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
LB-Reed Williams, West Virginia
LB-Kion Wilson, South Florida
LB-Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut

8.19.2009

Mountain West Preview

Projected Records & Standings
1. TCU                10-2  (7-1)
2. BYU 9-3 (6-2)
3. UTAH 9-3 (6-2)
4. AIR FORCE 9-3 (5-3)
5. UNLV 5-7 (3-5)
6. COLORADO STATE 6-6 (3-5)
7. SAN DIEGO STATE 6-6 (3-5)
8. NEW MEXICO 4-8 (2-6)
9. WYOMING 3-9 (1-7)
Champion: TCU
I’m not sold on the offense and QB Andy Dalton, but TCU has never been about offense. The defense is what rules for Gary Patterson’s squad, and with players like DE Jerry Hughes, LB Daryl Washington, and CB Rafael Priest coming back the Frogs should be as formidable as ever. Keep an eye on potential game-changer Jeremy Kerley on offense and special teams. He could be an important cog in the offense if he takes another step up in his development.

Question the Hype: BYU
BYU quarterback Max Hall returns to guide one of the nation’s most highly touted offenses. Look a little bit closer, though, and you’ll find that the Cougars padded their offensive numbers against inferior opponents. Remember that this is the same team that needed a horrible call from the officials to beat winless Washington a year ago, and also got throttled in their biggest games against TCU (32-7), Utah (48-24), and Arizona (31-21).

Could Surprise: SAN DIEGO STATE
I considered putting Air Force in this spot, but decided that it wouldn’t really surprise anyone if Troy Calhoun guides the Falcons to 9 wins. I almost put New Mexico here, but I’m not sure if new coach Mike Locksley (along with his OC, former North Texas head coach Darrell Dickey) has enough experienced players outside QB Donovan Porterie to put together a breakthrough season yet.

Instead I went with San Diego State. The Aztecs have long been sitting on an untapped gold mine, and I believe Brady Hoke might be the coach to harness that potential. He brought in some excellent assistant coaches to help him out too. With Al Borges running the offense and former New Mexico head coach Rocky Long running the defense, the future could be bright in San Diego – and why not start the future in 2009?

Faulk Trophy Candidates:
OT-Zane Beadles, Utah
QB-Omar Clayton, UNLV
WR-Rashaun Greer, Colorado State
QB-Max Hall, BYU
DE-Jerry Hughes, TCU
QB-Tim Jefferson, Air Force
FS-Robert Johnson, Utah
DE-Jan Jorgensen, BYU
PR/WR-Jeremy Kerley, TCU
QB-Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
TE-Dennis Pitta, BYU
QB-Donovan Porterie, New Mexico
LB-Stevenson Sylvester, Utah
QB-Karsten Sween, Wyoming
WR-Ryan Wolfe, UNLV
RB-James Wright, New Mexico

Conference USA Preview

Now that The Greatest Tournament of All Time has reached its epic conclusion and 2001 Miami has been crowned “Greatest College Football Team of All Time”, it’s time to get the preseason predictions for 2009 kicked off. I’ll start by posting my conference previews, and follow that up with my preseason Top 50 rankings. First up: Conference USA.Projected Records & Standings

East Division
1. EAST CAROLINA      10-2  (7-1)
2. SOUTHERN MISS 7-5 (5-3)
3. MEMPHIS 6-6 (4-4)
4. MARSHALL 6-6 (4-4)
5. CENTRAL FLORIDA 4-8 (2-6)
6. UAB 3-9 (2-6)
West Division
1. HOUSTON             9-3  (7-1)
2. UTEP 7-5 (5-3)
3. TULSA 7-5 (5-3)
4. RICE 5-7 (4-4)
5. TULANE 4-8 (2-6)
6. SMU 2-10 (1-7)
East Champion: EAST CAROLINA
When QB Patrick Pinkney was granted a sixth year medical redshirt it was the icing on the cake for Skip Holtz’s Pirates. ECU already had by far the best offensive and defensive lines in the conference, so to retain a veteran quarterback with the multitude of skills Pinkney has makes this an easy pick. Southern Miss is a popular choice to win the East Division, but ECU is the more veteran team. After sharpening their teeth in upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia a year ago, the Pirates might be on the verge of a Boise State-type breakout season.

West Champion: HOUSTON
Coach Kevin Sumlin made sure the Cougars didn’t skip a beat after Art Briles bolted for Baylor. The return of QB Case Keenum – this year’s version of Chase Clement – means Houston will probably score a billion points again. With Tulsa apparently taking a small step back, the door is wide open for Sumlin’s Cougs to claim the West crown.

Question the Hype: SMU
June Jones won at Hawaii, but to assume his “offense” would automatically light up the scoreboard in Dallas is absurd. The Mustangs have a long way to go to get back to respectability – they haven’t been to a bowl game since 1984 – and I don’t believe June Jones and his scheme can perform a miracle in only the second year of his tenure.

Could Surprise: MEMPHIS
Memphis is a team to look out for because of the talent on the offensive side of the ball. Not only do they return C-USA’s leading rusher (Curtis Steele) and tallest receiving corps (6’-8” Carlos Singleton and 6’-4” Duke Calhoun), the Tigers also benefit from the addition of Wisconsin transfer RB Lance Smith. QB Arkelon Hall has plenty of weapons at his disposal, so if he can improve his consistency this is a team that could compete for the East Division championship.

Faulk Trophy Candidates:
CB-Brandon Brinkley, Houston
WR-DeAndre Brown, Southern Miss
FS-Van Eskridge, East Carolina
RB-Damion Fletcher, Southern Miss
WR/KR-Damaris Johnson, Tulsa
QB-Case Keenum, Houston
RB/KR-Darius Marshall, Marshall
DE-Albert McClellan, Marshall
QB-Patrick Pinkney, East Carolina
WR-Carlos Singleton, Memphis
TE-Cody Slate, Marshall
QB-Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP
QB-Joe Webb, UAB
DE-C.J. Wilson, East Carolina

8.17.2009

The Greatest Tournament of All Time - CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

2,046 teams have been eliminated, leaving only 2001 Miami and 1995 Nebraska to duke it out in the Championship Game. Who is the best team of all time? Read on and find out.

It's been nearly 7 months since the tournament began back in February, but this is the game everybody has been waiting for. These two teams are always at the top of the list when discussing the greatest college football teams of all time, so it's only fitting they meet here to settle the debate once and for all.

First Half:

It was clear right away that this was a battle featuring two heavyweights. If the 33 NFL draft picks in the starting lineups doesn't give you enough of an indication, the size and speed all over the field should convince you.

The interior of the Miami defensive line established themselves right away with Matt Walters and William Joseph making the first two tackles of the game right at the line of scrimmage. The Nebraska defense answered with a Grant Wistrom sack of Ken Dorsey. In fact, after three series of action there were just 19 yards of total offense and exactly 3 punts.

With the good field position, Miami scored first on a Ken Dorsey touchdown pass to Ethenic Sands. The drive only went 54 yards, but it gave the Hurricanes a 7-0 lead. The first quarter would end with Miami nursing a 7-3 lead.

Nebraska finally put together their first truly successful drive of the game, though, to bridge the first and second quarters. Tommie Frazier's quickness and passing accuracy led to an impressive 83 yard touchdown drive that ended in a Lawrence Phillips two yard touchdown plunge. Frazier completed two big passes on the drive, including one on third down in which the senior quarterback fired to receiver Clester Johnson while nearly horizontal to the ground and in the grasp of sack-master Jerome McDougle.


Miami answered quickly by finally gaining significant yardage on the ground. Clinton Portis carried for 12 yards on the first play of the drive, and Frank Gore capped a hard nosed drive with a nifty 19 yard touchdown run.

Looking to add to a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter, Ken Dorsey made his lone mistake of the ball game. Looking for Jeremy Shockey over the middle, Dorsey underestimated linebacker Terrell Farley's athleticism and Farley leapt in the air to make the interception at his own 24 yard line.

Nebraska capitalized with a hard nosed drive of their own that saw I-Backs Lawrence Phillips and Ahman Green grind out yard after yard. The running game perfectly set up a Frazier play action pass to Jon Vedral for a 28 yard touchdown. Nebraska would take a 17-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.


Scoring Summary:
FIRST QUARTER
8:47 MIA TD - Ethenic Sands 17 yard pass from Ken Dorsey
5:32 NEB FG - Kris Brown 37 yard Field Goal
SECOND QUARTER
13:41 NEB TD - Lawrence Phillips 2 yard run
9:02 MIA TD - Frank Gore 19 yard run
2:11 NEB TD - Jon Vedral 28 yard pass from Tommie Frazier
Second Half:

After picking up some much needed momentum just before halftime, Nebraska came out of the locker room and gave it all back. Ken Dorsey started putting some things together through the air, finding Shockey and Andre Johnson multiple times on the first two series of the second half. But the Blackshirts kept finding ways to make stops.

It wasn't until a costly interception thrown by Tommie Frazier that the floodgates opened. Dorsey went 5-for-6 on the ensuing possession, including a 17 yard touchdown pass to Shockey. Not only did the touchdown give Miami a 21-17 lead, it also showed that Dorsey was able to find holes in the Nebraska secondary and capitalize on them.


Tommie Frazier is one of the greatest college football players of all time, though, so you know Nebraska wasn't finished yet.

Frazier took things into his own hands early in the fourth quarter, calling his own number and keeping on the option and on quarterback draws while marching the Huskers down the field. He put Nebraska back on top with a 25 yard quarterback draw for a touchdown. Frazier finished with 57 rushing yards on the drive.

Ken Dorsey came up big again in answering Frazier's touchdown. Leading a brilliant, balanced drive, Clinton Portis and Dorsey traded off picking up first downs. On a play action pass on second and short, Dorsey pumped and fired a 33 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson streaking down the right sideline.

The Hurricane drive chewed up 86 yards and over 5 minutes of game time, and clearly took a lot out of the Nebraska defense.

Tommie Frazier took the field again with 7 minutes left and needing just a field goal to regain the lead. He once again kept on the option and picked up 15 yards on first down. But linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Chris Campbell stepped up their game and forced a punt with three straight tackles in the backfield.

Nebraska was forced to punt and Miami answered with the controversial move to play it close to the vest. Larry Coker and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski abandoned the big play passing game that had worked so well in the second half in favor of the running game in hopes of running out the clock. Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee were stuffed on three straight plays.

That gave Tom Osborne's Huskers one final chance to put points on the board and take home the title. But with time winding down the Miami defense was able to pin their ears back and rush the passer, knowing that Nebraska was going to have to cut back significantly on their strength (the running game) in order to move the ball down the field.

Facing fourth and long and just seconds remaining on the clock, Frazier was left with no other options than a hail mary from his own 43 yard line. His pass was picked off by none other than Ed Reed, who returned it 88 yards for a meaningless touchdown that put the exclamation point on a great game and a great tournament.

Scoring Summary:
THIRD QUARTER
7:47 MIA TD - Jeremy Shockey 17 yard pass from Dorsey
4:30 NEB FG - Brown 40 yard Field Goal
FOURTH QUARTER
12:24 NEB TD - Frazier 25 yard run
7:07 MIA TD - Andre Johnson 33 yard pass from Dorsey
0:00 MIA TD - Ed Reed 88 yard interception return (no PAT)
FINAL SCORE
2001 Miami 34
1995 Nebraska 27




GAME STATS
TEAM STATS                95 NEB           01 MIA
Rushes - Yards 55-253 37-112
Comp-Att-Int 8-17-2 21-34-1
Passing Yards 121 301
Sacks 3 0
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Time of Poss. 29:13 30:47

8.16.2009

BRACKET OF CHAMPIONS - Final Four

Game 2:How They Got Here:

Texas won the BCS National Champion for the 2005 college football season by defeating USC, a team that was widely regarded one of the best ever prior to the Rose Bowl. That got the Longhorns the #2 overall seed in The Greatest Tournament of All Time. Texas won five games in Bracket #2 and earned a spot in the Bo Region of the Bracket of Champions. The Longhorns won four more games in order to take part in this Final Four match.

Nebraska was the AP National Champion for the 1995 college football season. They picked up the #11 overall seed in The Greatest Tournament of all Time. The Cornhuskers cruised through five wins in Bracket #11 to earn the top spot in the Woody Region of the Bracket of Champions. Four wins later and the Huskers find themselves right where they expected to be all along - in the Final Four.

First Half:

You can't ask for a better quarterback matchup than this one. Tommie Frazier vs Vince Young, two players that went out on top with super-human performances in championship games. Strangely, and somewhat telling of the status of the award, neither quarterback owns a Heisman Trophy.

On the opening drive of the game, Nebraska's Frazier showed why he is regarded as one of the greatest college football players of all time. After Lawrence Phillips carried for a 22 yard gain on the first play of the game, Frazier took an option keeper 21 yards. And on the third play of the drive Frazier popped back in the pocket after giving an option look and threw a 37 yard touchdown bomb to Reggie Baul to give Nebraska a 7-0 lead.

The Texas defense tightened up quickly, though. All American defensive tackle Rod Wright and defensive end Brian Robison got good penetration and kept Frazier from being able to get to the corner. Linebacker Aaron Harris and safety Michael Huff teamed up to slow down I-Backs Phillips and Ahman Green. Over the next 22 minutes they held one of the greatest offenses of all time to exactly zero points.


The Nebraska defense had Vince Young to contend with. Thanks to athletic linebacker Terrell Farley, used as a spy on Young for much of the first half, Texas didn't get on the score board until David Pino kicked a 46-yard field goal five minutes into the second quarter.

After finally putting the first quarter struggles behind them, Vince Young and the Longhorns went on a scoring binge. Young avoided the rush and hit Billy Pittman with a 27-yard touchdown pass, but Pino missed the extra point attempt. Young followed up another strong series by the defense with a 42 yard touchdown run. Just like that Texas was up on the favored Huskers 16-7.

Tommie Frazier answered (as he always did) by leading a methodical 13-play touchdown drive that nearly shaved the final four-and-a-half minutes entirely off the second quarter clock. He capped the drive with a 2-yard option keeper for the score. But Nebraska trailed 16-14 at the half.

Second Half:

Tommie Frazier was the story in the third quarter. The senior bookended a Ramonce Taylor touchdown and two point conversion with a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Gilman and a remarkable tackle-shredding 75-yard touchdown run as the clock expired on the third quarter.


The run not only gave Frazier over 100 yards rushing in the QUARTER, it also gave Nebraska the lead again, 28-24, and got the Nebraska fans in the crowd rocking.

But Vince Young answered with a remarkable drive of his own. Young was 3-for-3 using his favorite target, tight end David Thomas, for 47 yards on the drive. He also had two zone-read keepers for 27 yards to put the Longhorns in scoring position. The Blackshirts tightened up in the red zone and held Texas to 4th and 5 from the 9 yard line where Mack Brown made the gutsy call to go for it. Young came through by avoiding a Grant Wistrom sack and running it in for a touchdown and the lead.


The Nebraska offensive line, clearly starting to finally exert their dominance over a very good Texas defensive line, took over on the ensuing possession. Another 13-play drive saw Nebraska run the ball 12 times for 78 yards. Fullback Jeff Makovicka capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run as the Huskers wrestled the lead back again, 35-31.

From there Terrell Farley and the Nebraska defense took over. Everywhere Vince Young went, there was Farley. Farley batted down two passes and picked up two sacks on Texas' final three drives of the ball game as they only netted a long field goal by David Pino.

In a see-saw affair, that saw the two teams combine for nearly 1,000 yards of offense, it was Nebraska's defense in the final 7 minutes that won them the game. Vince Young finished with almost 100 yards rushing to go along with 277 yards passing, but Tommie Frazier out-shined VY with 201 rushing yards and 164 passing yards.

FINAL SCORE:
1995 Nebraska 35
2005 Texas 34

8.15.2009

BRACKET OF CHAMPIONS - Final Four

Game 1
How They Got Here:

Florida State was the AP National Champion for the 1993 college football season. That got them the #32 overall seed in The Greatest Tournament of All Time, which was the top spot in Bracket #32. The Seminoles won five games in Bracket #32 and earned a spot in the Bear Region of the Bracket of Champions. FSU won four more games in order to take part in this Final Four match.

Miami won the BCS National Championship for the 2001 college football season. They picked up the #4 overall seed in The Greatest Tournament of all Time, which was the top spot in Bracket #4. The Hurricanes cruised through five wins in Bracket #4 to earn the top spot in the JoePa Region of the Bracket of Champions. Four wins later and Miami finds themselves against an old rival in the Final Four.

First Half:

After a first quarter that saw the two rivals feeling each other out while the defenses dictated tempo, Miami jumped on the Seminoles. The running game kicked in for the Hurricanes as Clinton Portis ran for 56 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter en route to building a 17-3 lead.

Watching Miami pile up over 200 yards of offense while maintaining a decisive edge in the momentum department, Florida State found themselves in dire need of a score prior to halftime. Charlie Ward rose to the occasion, directing the 2 minute offense to perfection. He was 5-for-5 on the drive until it stalled out in the red zone. Mike Rumph knocked away a pass and Jamaal Green picked up a sack as the Hurricanes held FSU out of the end zone and forced a field goal attempt.


Scott Bentley nailed the 30-yard field goal attempt to give the Seminoles at least a little something to take into the locker room, despite trailing 17-6.

Second Half:

The third quarter was controlled entirely by the defenses. Defensive coordinators Mickey Andrews and Randy Shannon traded brilliant series after brilliant series until Warrick Dunn finally broke loose with 2:11 left in the quarter. The freshman took a screen pass from Charlie Ward, broke a D.J. Williams tackle and raced 36 yards down the sideline, providing easily the biggest play of the second half.

Miami's defense bowed up once again and held Florida State to just a field goal attempt. Bentley calmly booted a 42 yarder through the uprights and suddenly the Seminoles trailed by just a touchdown and a two point conversion, 17-9.

In the fourth quarter the momentum finally started to swing Florida State's way. Derrick Brooks and the defense had held Miami scoreless for a solid 25+ minutes and looked to be in control, so they seemingly only needed their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback to step up and make some plays to potentially steal a victory from one of the most talented teams in the tournament.

That's exactly what the senior quarterback did. With FSU trailing 17-9 and just 6:14 left on the clock, Ward began to work his magic. He marched the Seminoles quickly down the field, mixing in a 24 yard run to get his teammates on the bench excited for the first time all game. He followed that play up with a 29 yard touchdown pass to Kez McCorvey.

Trailing by two with just over 5 minutes on the clock, Bobby Bowden elected to go for two. Ward's pass attempt was knocked away by Chris Campbell in the end zone, preserving Miami's 17-15 lead.

But on the second play of the ensuing drive, Ken Dorsey threw a pass over the middle to Daryl Jones who was hammered by safety Devin Bush. The ball came loose and the Seminoles came out with the ball and yet another jolt of energy.

Charlie Ward took the field with even more swagger and completed two straight passes to Matt Frier. Then lightning struck when he found Tamarick Vanover streaking down the sideline all alone in an apparent blown coverage. Ward tossed the ball out to Vanover who took it into the end zone to complete the 34-yard scoring strike and the comeback. Bentley kicked the extra point to make it a 22-17 lead with just 3:56 left.

Four minutes is a lont time, though, especially with Ken Dorsey and an immensely talented offense ready to take over. Sure enough, Dorsey kept his head and got the sputtering Hurricane offense moving for the first time in the second half. Using his favorite targets Andre Johnson and Jeremy Shockey, as well as a pair of perfectly timed draw plays to Clinton Portis, Dorsey led a touchdown drive that put Miami back on top 24-22.

That left Charlie Ward just 1:42 to perhaps perform one more miracle. For the third consecutive time, Ward drove FSU down the field with the help of his talented receiving corps. After three straight completions, a 27-yard pass to Kevin Knox put the Seminoles in field goal range. A short completion to Frier and a Sean Jackson run set up FSU at the 27-yard line with 2 seconds on the clock, leaving Scott Bentley to try a 44-yard field goal attempt for the win.

If you know anything about this rivalry you can probably guess what happened next.


Bentley missed it wide right.

FINAL SCORE:
2001 Miami 24
1993 Florida State 22

8.14.2009

FINAL FOUR PREVIEW - 1995 Nebraska

1995 NEBRASKA (12-0)
AP National Champions
#11 overall seed - Woody Region Winner


Head Coach: Tom Osborne
Off. Coord.: Tom Osborne
Def. Coord.: Charlie McBride
QB Coach: Turner Gill
RB Coach: Frank Solich
OLB Coach: Tony Samuel

Schedule                 Result
@ Oklahoma State W 64-21
@ Michigan State W 50-10
Arizona State W 77-28
Pacific W 49-7
Washington State W 35-21
Missouri W 57-0
Kansas State (#7) W 49-25
@ Colorado (#5) W 44-21
Iowa State W 73-14
@ Kansas (#9) W 41-3
Oklahoma W 37-0
FIESTA BOWL
(National Championship Game)
vs Florida (#2) W 62-24

Average Score: 53.2 - 14.5
Against Top 25: 4-0
Against Top 10: 4-0

Tournament Results
2005 Oregon State W 60-13
2007 Boise State W 47-21
1995 Miami, Ohio W 45-17
1996 Penn State (#7) W 41-20
1977 Alabama (#2) W 35-21
1989 Miami (#1) W 31-20
2004 Auburn (#2) W 33-20
1988 Miami (#2) W 29-24
1987 Florida State (#2) W 37-23
NEXT UP:
2005 Texas (#1)

Average Score: 39.8 - 19.9
Top 10 teams Defeated: 6
National Champs Defeated: 1

*NOTE: Numbers in parenthesis indicate final AP Ranking
STARTING LINEUP
(BOLD = All American)
(NFL Draft Selection in parenthesis)

OFFENSE
QB Tommie Frazier
IB Ahman Green (3rd Rd, 1998)
FB Jeff Makovicka
WR Reggie Baul
WR Clester Johnson
TE Mark Gilman
LT Chris Dishman (4th Rd, 1997)
LG Aaron Taylor (7th Rd, 1998)
C Aaron Graham (4th Rd, 1996)
RG Steve Ott
RT Eric Anderson

Key Backups:
IB Lawrence Phillips (1st Rd, 1996)
RT Adam Treu (3rd Rd, 1997)
IB Damon Benning
IB Clinton Childs
QB Brook Berringer
WR Jon Vedral
FB Brian Schuster
WR Brendan Holbein
FB Joel Makovicka (4th Rd, 1999)
TE Sheldon Jackson (7th Rd, 1999)

DEFENSE
DE Jared Tomich (2nd Rd, 1997)
DT Christian Peter (5th Rd, 1996)
DT Jason Peter (1st Rd, 1998)
DE Grant Wistrom (1st Rd, 1998)
WLB Terrell Farley
MLB Doug Colman (6th Rd, 1996)
SLB Jamel Williams (5th Rd, 1997)
CB Tyrone Williams (3rd Rd, 1996)
FS Tony Veland (6th Rd, 1996)
ROV Mike Minter (2nd Rd, 1997)
CB Michael Booker (1st Rd, 1997)

Key Backups:
MLB Phil Ellis
LB Jon Hesse (7th Rd, 1997)
SLB Jay Foreman (5th Rd, 1999)
WLB Ryan Terwilliger
ROV Octavious McFarlin
DE Chad Kelsay (7th Rd, 1999)
CB Eric Stokes (5th Rd, 1997)
CB Mike Fullman
S Eric Warfield (7th Rd, 1998)
DE Mike Rucker (2nd Rd, 1999)

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Kris Brown (7th Rd, 1999)
P Jesse Kosch
KR Clinton Childs
PR Mike Fullman
AWARD WINNERS
Tommie Frazier - Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Maxwell Award, Big 8 Offensive POY, Sporting News POY


Nebraska in the Tournament
Overall Record: 98-31 (76.0%)
# of Teams in the Tournament: 32
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 10
Against Texas: 1-3
Against Miami: 4-3
Against Florida State: 2-3

Tom Osborne in the Tournament
Overall Record: 79-20
# of Teams in the Tournament: 21 (All with Nebraska)
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 9

FINAL FOUR PREVIEW - 2005 Texas

2005 TEXAS (13-0)
BCS National Champions
#2 overall seed - Bo Region Winner


Head Coach: Mack Brown
Notable Assistant Coaches:
Off. Coord.: Greg Davis
Def. Coord.: Gene Chizik
DB Coach: Duane Akina

2001 Schedule            Result
Louisiana-Lafayette W 60-3
@ Ohio State (#4) W 25-22
Rice W 51-10
@ Missouri W 51-20
vs Oklahoma (#22) W 45-12
Colorado W 42-17
Texas Tech (#20) W 52-17
@ Oklahoma State W 47-28
@ Baylor W 62-0
Kansas W 66-14
@ Texas A&M W 40-29
Big XII Championship Game
Colorado W 70-3
ROSE BOWL
(BCS National Championship Game)
vs USC (#2) W 41-38

Average Score: 50.2 - 16.4
Against Top 25: 4-0
Against Top 10: 2-0

Tournament Results
1997 Navy W 48-17
2005 Tulsa W 48-17
2002 Florida State (#21) W 42-19
1981 Nebraska (#11) W 32-20
1983 BYU (#7) W 41-26
1985 Oklahoma (#1) W 30-21
2000 Florida State (#5) W 31-26
1991 Miami (#1) W 27-21
1987 Miami (#1) W 30-24
NEXT UP:
1995 Nebraska (#1)

Average Score: 36.6 - 21.2
Top 10 teams Defeated: 5
National Champs Defeated: 3

*NOTE: Final AP Ranking in parenthesis
STARTING LINEUP
(BOLD = All American)
(NFL Draft selection in parenthesis)
OFFENSE
QB VINCE YOUNG (1st Rd, 2006)
RB Selvin Young
WR Limas Sweed (2nd Rd, 2008)
WR Billy Pittman
WR Brian Carter
TE David Thomas (3rd Rd, 2006)
LT JONATHAN SCOTT (5th Rd, 2006)
LG Kasey Studdard (6th Rd, 2007)
C Lyle Sendlein
RG Will Allen
RT Justin Blalock (2nd Rd, 2007)

Key Backups:
RB Jamaal Charles (3rd Rd, 2008)
RB Ramonce Taylor
RB Henry Melton (4th Rd, 2009)
WR Quan Cosby
OT Tony Hills (4th Rd, 2008)
WR Nate Jones
TE Neale Tweedie

DEFENSE
DE Brian Robison (4th Rd, 2007)
DT RODRIQUE WRIGHT (7th Rd, 2006)
DT Frank Okam (5th Rd, 2008)
DE Tim Crowder (2nd Rd, 2007)
OLB Robert Killebrew
MLB Aaron Harris
OLB Rashad Bobino
CB Cedric Griffin (2nd Rd, 2006)
S MICHAEL HUFF (1st Rd, 2006)
S Michael Griffin (1st Rd, 2007)
CB Tarell Brown (5th Rd, 2007)

Key Backups:
CB Aaron Ross (1st Rd, 2007)
LB Drew Kelson
DT Larry Dibbles
S Marcus Griffin
DE Brian Orakpo (1st Rd, 2009)
DT Derek Lokey
OLB Eric Foreman
CB Brandon Foster
DT Roy Miller (3rd Rd, 2009)

SPECIAL TEAMS
K David Pino
P Richmond McGee
KR Ramonce Taylor
PR Aaron Ross
AWARD WINNERS
Vince Young - Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award
Michael Huff - Jim Thorpe Award

Texas in the Tournament
Overall Record: 55-29 (65.5%)
# of Teams in the Tournament: 30
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 2
Against Nebraska: 3-1
Against Miami: 3-2
Against Florida State: 2-3

Mack Brown in the Tournament
Overall Record: 39-19 (32-10 with Texas)
# of Teams in the Tournament: 20 (11 with Texas)
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 2

8.13.2009

FINAL FOUR PREVIEW - 1993 Florida State

1993 FLORIDA STATE (12-1)
AP National Champions
#32 overall seed - Bear Region Winner


Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Notable Assistant Coaches:
Off. Coord.: Brad Scott
Def. Coord.: Mickey Andrews
QB Coach: Mark Richt

1993 Schedule            Result
@ Kansas W 42-0
@ Duke W 45-7
Clemson (#23) W 57-0
@ North Carolina (#19) W 33-7
Georgia Tech W 51-0
Miami (#15) W 28-10
Virginia W 40-14
Wake Forest W 54-0
@ Maryland W 49-20
@ Notre Dame (#2) L 24-31
N.C. State W 62-3
@ Florida (#5) W 33-21
ORANGE BOWL
(National Championship Game)
vs Nebraska (#3) W 18-16

Average Score: 41.2 - 9.9
Against Top 25: 5-1
Against Top 10: 2-1

Tournament Results
2004 Kansas W 40-9
2008 Kansas W 42-14
1989 Houston (#14) W 35-23
1978 Michigan (#5) W 27-16
1977 Texas (#4) W 31-19
1986 Oklahoma (#3) W 23-20
1994 Florida State (#4) W 31-20
1996 Ohio State (#2) W 24-16
1996 Florida (#1) W 29-27
NEXT UP:
2001 Miami (#1)

Average Score: 31.3 - 18.2
Top 10 teams Defeated: 6
National Champs Defeated: 1

*NOTE: Final AP Rankings in parenthesis
STARTING LINEUP
(BOLD = All American)
(NFL Draft selection in parenthesis)
OFFENSE
QB CHARLIE WARD (1st Rd, 1994 NBA Draft)
RB Sean Jackson (4th Rd, 1994)
FB William Floyd (1st Rd, 1994)
WR Kevin Knox (6th Rd, 1994)
WR Kez McCorvey (5th Rd, 1995)
WR Matt Frier
LT Juan Laureano
LG Lewis Tyre
C Clay Shiver (3rd Rd, 1996)
RG Patrick McNeil
RT Marvin Ferrell

Key Backups:
RB Warrick Dunn (1st Rd, 1997)
WR Tamarick Vanover (3rd Rd, 1995)
TE Lonnie Johnson (2nd Rd, 1994)
FB Pooh Bear Williams
RB Zack Crockett (3rd Rd, 1995)
WR Omar Ellison (5th Rd, 1995)
QB Danny Kanell (4th Rd, 1996)

DEFENSE
DE James Roberson
DT Toddrick McIntosh (7th Rd, 1994)
DT Jon Nance
DE Derrick Alexander (1st Rd, 1995)
OLB DERRICK BROOKS (1st Rd, 1995)
MLB Todd Rebol
OLB Ken Alexander
CB Clifton Abraham (5th Rd, 1995)
S Devin Bush (1st Rd, 1995)
S Richard Coes
CB Corey Sawyer (4th Rd, 1994)

Key Backups:
DE Reinard Wilson (1st Rd, 1997)
DE Tyrant Marion
DT Chris Cowart
LB Sam Cowart
LB Henri Crockett (4th Rd, 1997)
CB Byron Capers (7th Rd, 1997)
CB Corey Fuller (2nd rd, 1995)
DE Orpheus Roye (6th Rd, 1996)

SPECIAL TEAMS
K Scott Bentley
P Sean Liss
AWARD WINNERS
Bobby Bowden - Home Depot Award
Charlie Ward - Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award


Florida State in the Tournament
Overall Record: 103-31 (76.9%)
# of Teams in the Tournament: 32
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 9
Against Miami: 4-1
Against Nebraska: 3-2
Against Texas: 3-2

Bobby Bowden in the Tournament
Overall Record: 103-31
# of Teams in the Tournament: 32 (All with Florida State)
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 9

FINAL FOUR PREVIEW - 2001 Miami

2001 MIAMI (12-0)
BCS National Champions
#4 overall seed - JoePa Region Winner


Head Coach: Larry Coker
Notable Assistant Coaches:
Off. Coord.: Rob Chudzinski
Def. Coord.: Randy Shannon
O-Line Coach: Art Kehoe
DB Coach: Mark Stoops

2001 Schedule Result
@ Penn State W 33-7
Rutgers W 61-0
@ Pittsburgh W 43-21
Troy W 38-7
@ Florida State (#15) W 49-27
West Virginia W 45-3
Temple W 38-0
@ Boston College (#21) W 18-7
Syracuse (#14) W 59-0
Washington (#19) W 65-7
@ Virginia Tech (#18) W 26-24
ROSE BOWL
(BCS National Championship Game)
vs Nebraska (#8) W 37-14

Average Score: 42.7 - 9.8
Against Top 25: 6-0
Against Top 10: 1-0

Tournament Results
1984 Wyoming W 49-10
1988 Colorado W 35-10
1996 Syracuse (#21) W 35-16
1995 Notre Dame (#11) W 35-17
1977 Kentucky (#6) W 28-13
1980 Florida State (#5) W 24-17
2008 Florida (#1) W 27-19
2001 Florida (#3) W 31-16
1991 Washington (#2) W 27-17
NEXT UP:
1993 Florida State (#1)

Average Score: 32.2 - 15.0
Top 10 Teams Defeated: 5
National Champs Defeated: 2

*NOTE: Final AP Rankings in parenthesis
STARTING LINEUP
(BOLD = All American)
(NFL Draft selection in parenthesis)
OFFENSE     
QB Ken Dorsey (7th Rd, 2003)
HB Clinton Portis (2nd Rd, 2002)
FB Najeh Davenport (4th Rd, 2002)
WR Andre Johnson (1st Rd, 2003)
WR Daryl Jones (7th Rd, 2002)
TE JEREMY SHOCKEY (1st Rd, 2002)
LT BRYANT MCKINNIE (1st Rd, 2002)
LG Sherko Haji-Rasouli
C Brett Romberg
RG Martin Bibla (4th Rd, 2002)
RT JOAQUIN GONZALEZ (7th Rd, 2002)

Key Backups:
RB Frank Gore (3rd Rd, 2006)
RB Willis McGahee (1st Rd, 2003)
WR Kevin Beard
WR Ethenic Sands
WR Jason Geathers
RB Jarrett Payton

DEFENSE
DE Jerome McDougle (1st Rd, 2003)
DT Matt Walters (5th Rd, 2003)
DT William Joseph (1st Rd, 2003)
DE Andrew Williams (3rd Rd, 2003)
OLB D.J. Williams (1st Rd, 2004)
MLB Jonathan Vilma (1st Rd, 2004)
OLB Chris Campbell
CB Mike Rumph (1st Rd, 2002)
FS James Lewis (6th Rd, 2002)
SS ED REED (1st Rd, 2002)
CB Phillip Buchanon (1st Rd, 2002)

Key Backups:
DE Jamaal Green (4th Rd, 2003)
DT Vince Wilfork (1st Rd, 2004)
CB Markese Fitzgerald
LB Howard Clark
DE John Square
CB Alfonso Marshall (7th Rd, 2004)
FS Sean Taylor (1st Rd, 2004)
FS Maurice Sikes

SPECIAL TEAMS
K TODD SIEVERS
P Freddie Capshaw
KR Andre Johnson
PR PHILLIP BUCHANON (1st Rd, 2002)

AWARD WINNERS
Larry Coker - Bear Bryant Award
Ken Dorsey - Maxwell, Big East Offensive POY
Joaquin Gonzalez - Academic Heisman
Bryant McKinnie - Outland Trophy


Miami in the Tournament
Overall Record: 89-27 (76.7%)
# of Teams in the Tournament: 28
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 7
Against Florida State: 1-4
Against Nebraska: 3-4
Against Texas: 2-3

Larry Coker in the Tournament
Overall Record: 19-5
# of Teams in the Tournament: 6 (All with Miami)
# of Teams in Bracket of Champions: 1

8.12.2009

WOODY REGION FINAL

1995 NEBRASKA
vs
1987 FLORIDA STATE


1995 Nebraska
#11 overall seed - winners of Bracket #11

1987 Florida State
#35 overall seed - winners of Bracket #35

WOODY REGION RECAP
Woody Region Preview
Round of 64 Results [Part I] [Part II]
Round of 32 Results
Sweet Sixteen Results

GAME RECAP
Considering the 1987 Florida State team was the only team still alive in this round not to win a national championship, it should come as no surprise that Tom Osborne's 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers took the field with a swagger and the confidence they could claim the final ticket to the Final Four.

The Huskers got off to a fast start. Lawrence Phillips took a hand off from Tommie Frazier 61 yards for a touchdown on just the fourth play of the ball game. It was all downhill from there for Bobby Bowden's Seminoles.

Nebraska's offensive line dominated from start to finish. Center Aaron Graham controlled nose tackle Odell Haggins for much of the game, allowing Phillips and fellow I-Backs Ahman Green and Damon Benning to repeatedly pound the middle of the defense. Fullbacks Jeff Makovicka and Brian Schuster won their battles with the linebacking corps, which allowed the tailbacks to turn 4 and 5 yard runs into 12 and 15 yard runs. As a result, safety Stanley Shiver ended up as the Seminoles leading tackler, and Nebraska finished with a whopping 417 rushing yards.


The lone bright spot for Florida State was Deion Sanders. The All American returned a punt for a touchdown early in the second quarter that briefly gave the Seminoles hope they could climb back into the game. He was also excellent in pass coverage, but unfortunately he was no help against the Nebraska running game.

Danny McManus put up big numbers in the passing game (27-for-47 for 334 yards), but it was mostly out of necessity. He also threw two interceptions, one to Michael Booker and the other to Eric Stokes.


Senior quarterback Brook Berringer even got in the game on the last couple drives as Tom Osborne rested his starters in preparation for the Final Four.

FINAL SCORE
1995 Nebraska - 37
1987 Florida State - 23