Posts Tagged 'boise state'

College FootBlog Week 3 Recap

Landry Jones stepped up big when he need to against #5 Florida State (photo courtesy of National Scouting Report, http://blog.nsr-inc.com)

Another week in the books for the 2011 college football season, and as we continue to learn more about the contenders and pretenders, College FootBlog breaks down some of the action from Week 3.

Oklahoma passes major test:   One of our contributors, Christian Hon, and I actually covered this game and the pregame festivities (check out the on location podcast and tailgate and game footage),  and what a fantastic football game!  In the end, though, the Sooners showed why they’re the #1 team in the land.  Although OU quarterback Landry Jones was held under 200 yards passing and picked off twice by Florida State, he completed a clutch touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when the game was tied.  Oklahoma is known for their explosive offense, but it was their defense, led by linebackers Travis Lewis and Tom Wort that stepped up and passed what may have been the most difficult test of the regular season.

Notre Dame finally gets a win:  The Irish still have a tough road ahead of them if they want to finish above .500, but they managed to knock off the favored Michigan State Spartans in South Bend last weekend.  Similar to Oklahoma, it was the defense that stole the show for Notre Dame, holding Michigan State to just 29 yards rushing.  The defense was non-existent against Michigan in week 2, so Irish fans have to feel good about the 31-13 victory over their hated rivals from East Lansing.  The next three weeks see the Irish traveling to very mediocre Pitt and Purdue, followed by a home game against Air Force.  If they can win two of those games, Brian Kelly’s face may turn back to red, as opposed to the bright purple shade he sported in the South Florida game.

Oklahoma State continues to win shoot outs:  The Cowboys have given up an average of 27 points per game so far this season, which ranks 76th nationally.  The good thing for Mike Gundy is that the OSU offense is averaging over 52 points per game, which ranks #3 nationally.  The main reason for this offensive output is senior quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has thrown for 1154 yards in the first three games of the season.  OSU will get their first real test of the season this weekend, when open up conference play at Texas A&M this weekend.  With Oklahoma State’s non-existent defense, there won’t be a shortage of points this weekend at College Station.

Kellen Moore keeping his name on the Heisman list:  While Toledo may not garner a ton of national attention, they are a legitimate football team, one that gave Ohio State all they could handle in week 2.  For Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, it was just another day at the office.  The senior QB threw for 455 yards and 5 TDs.  On the season, he is completing 78.9% of his passes with 8 TDs and only 2 Ints, and that’s only in two games.  Look for Moore to put up 4,000 yards and 35+ touchdowns and represent the Broncos in New York as a finalist for college football’s most prestigious award.

Heart of Stanford’s defense, Shane Skov done for the season:  While most of the hype of the Stanford Cardinal surrounds Heisman front-runner Andrew Luck (and rightfully so), the heart of the Cardinal defense is (and has been) Shane Skov.  This is a huge loss to a team that many expect to challenge Oregon for the inaugural Pac 12 title.  The junior linebacker was highly touted coming out of high school and has lived up to his billing, leading Stanford defensively in last year’s Orange Bowl with three sacks and leading the Cardinal in tackles so far this season.  Luckily for Stanford, October 22nd is the first test against a decent offense, when they play host to the Washington Huskies.  Three football games should give the defense a chance to gel as a unit before they get into the meat of their schedule.

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College FootBlog College Football Week 2 Recap

Denard Robinson worked his magic on Notre Dame again last weekend (photo courtesy of Melanie Maxwell I, annarbor.com)

With the end of week 2, the 2011 college football season continues to take shape.  <a href=”collegesportsfeed.com”>CSF</a> highlights five of the most crucial outcomes from the second week of the young college football season.

Denard Robinson is still lightning in a bottle: After having an up and down game through the first three quarters against Notre Dame, Michigan’s dynamic play maker saved his best for last in what was an instant classic in one of the most storied rivalries in college football.  Robinson threw for two touchdowns in the final 1:02 of the game, capping off yet another performance that saw him rush for over 100 yards and throw for over 300 yards.  Health is the key for Robinson, whose body wore down the second half of 2010, but he proved once again that he is arguably the most exciting player in all of college football.

<strong><a href=”auburn.rivals.com”>Auburn</a> bounces back: </strong> After needing a recovery of an on-side kick to knock off visiting <a href=”utahstate.rivals.com”>Utah State</a> in week 1, the Tigers played host to <a href=”mississippi.rivals.com”>Mississippi State</a>.  In another of the many thrillers of week 2.  Auburn stopped Mississippi State quarterback <a href=”mississippistate.rivals.com”>Chris Relf</a> just in front of the goal line, which prevented overtime.  The tough SEC schedule will only get tougher, but the Tigers passed a major test in week 2, against a legitimate top 25 team.

Richt officially on the hot seat:  Opening against two top 10 teams to start your season would be a tall order for any program, but that’s exactly what Mark Richt and Georgia has done in 2011.  After taking on a gritty and underappreciated Boise State team (currently ranked #4 in both major polls), the Bulldogs had to play host to last year’s SEC East champs, South Carolina (currently ranked #10 in the AP poll).  Bruising tailback Marcus Lattimore made up for quarterback Stephen Garcia’s dismal performance, by rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown.  In yet another game that went down to the wire, Georgia fell 45-42, making them 0-2 to start the season.  After going 6-7 last year, Richt can’t afford another losing season in 2011, and he has his work cut out for him to catch up after dropping the first two games of this young season.

Russell Wilson continues to impress: After being shunned by NC State head coach Tom O’Brien for electing to play professional baseball this summer, Wisconsin gladly accepted the talented senior quarterback, and Wilson has delivered.  In the first two games, Wilson has picked up right where he left off, when he led the NC State Wolfpack for his three years as their starter.  Wilson is completing over 79% of his passes and has thrown for five touchdowns with no picks, and he has also added 73 yards and a touchdown rushing.

Garrett Gilbert is out in Texas:  In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Gilbert, then a true freshman, relieved an injured Colt McCoy against the top defense in the country, Alabama, and he passed with flying colors.  Although the Longhorns lost that game, Gilbert’s poise and athletic ability gave fans in Austin a lot to look forward to–at least they that’s what they thought.  Last season, much of the blame for Texas’ offensive woes was blamed on Gilbert, who completed less than 60% of his passes with just 10 TDs to go along with 17 picks.  In the first two games of the 2011 season, the junior signal-caller has done even worse, completing just 45% of his passes with two TDs and four picks.  Head coach Mack Brown decided last week during the BYU game that enough was enough and replaced Gilbert with back ups Case McCoy and David Ash, who are expected to split time for the remainder of the season, while Gilbert watches from the sidelines.

Week 9 Heisman Update

With only six weeks remaining in the college football season, College FootBlog takes a look at who is making the strongest cases to make the trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony.  Here are the four elite players we feel have the best shot at bringing home the hardware this December.

Cameron Newton (QB/Auburn):  When you’re leading your team in rushing as a quarterback and your team is ranked #1 in the country, you’re making a very strong case for the Hesiman.  Newton’s numbers have been sick this season, averaging over 305 yards per game with 27 total touchdowns.  He will get at least one more chance to shine on national television when he leads his Tigers into Tuscaloosa to face Alabama in the Iron Bowl.  A strong performance against Nick Saban’s defense would essentially lock up the Heisman and an SEC Championship game.

Sophomore LaMichael James leads the most explosive offense in the nation (google images)

LaMichael James (RB/Oregon):  After missing the opener due to a suspension, many writers had removed the talented running back from their Heisman watch lists.  But James has burst back onto the scene and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 161.  If Oregon keeps winning and James keeps getting his touches, he could be the fourth straight sophomore to win the coveted award.

Kellen Moore (QB/Boise State):  Once again, BSU’s quarterback has quietly put together the most efficient passing attack in the NCAA.  The junior signal caller has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only one interception.  With six more games remaining, he could end up with video game statistics again this year, and his Broncos have their best chance ever at playing for the BCS Title.  If his stats hold up (and based on his career, they should) and if BSU can secure a BCS Title game, Moore will have as good of a shot as anyone at winning the Trophy.

Justin Blackmon (WR/Oklahoma State):  Dez Who?  Blackmon has ripped through secondaries all season long for the 6-1 Cowboys and leads the nation with 158.9 yards per game.  In last weekend’s shoot out with Nebraska, the sophomore wideout eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark to go along with 14 TD receptions.  If he keeps this pace, he would finish the season with 1906 yards and 24 touchdowns–numbers that should lock him up for a trip to New York.  OSU has a tough road to finish the season, with games against Texas and Oklahoma, so keeping that pace will not be an easy task.

Look for another breakdown in a few weeks that will provide our pick for the top three, along with who College FootBlog thinks will ultimately bring the award home.

College Football Week 1 Breakdown: Boise St vs Virginia Tech

With the absence of the entire North Carolina defense, the LSU-North Carolina game is suddenly no longer intriguing, so College FootBlog decided to break down the other key match up in Week 1 of the 2010 college football season–Boise State vs. Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Washington D.C.

College FootBlog will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team, and we will give our first game prediction for the new season.  First, let’s take a look at the Hokies.

Virginia Tech

Va Tech RB Ryan Williams leads one of the most explosive running attacks in the country (google images)

Key Strength

Running Game:  Although Alabama is getting all the hype for the best tailback tandem in the country, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans would like to throw a hat in the ring as well.  Williams broke Evans freshman rushing record last season by rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 TDs.  He replaced Evans, who tore his ACL and missed the 2009 season.  In 2008, Evans rushed for 1,265 yards two seasons ago.  He is back, he’s healthy, and he gives a huge shot in the arm for what was already one of the top rushing teams in the country.

Key Concern

Defense:  The Hokies must replace seven starters from last year’s defense, don’t bet against defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s ability to coach up a defense.  Foster had all spring to reload, and although the departure of DE E Jason Worilds and inexperience up front, Foster will have his unit ready to play Monday, and they will only improve as the season continues.  Despite the losses of several key players on the defense, look for Virginia Tech to have yet another top 25 defense by season’s end. 

Boise State

Key Strength

Kellen Moore:  The Heisman hopeful completed an unbelievable 39 TDs last year to just 3 Ints last season.  The Broncos have a very solid running game, but Moore leads one of the top aerial attacks in the nation.  Moore has plenty of weapons around him, highlighted by senior wideouts Titus Young and Austin Pettis.  Look for BSU to throw the ball early and often on Monday.

Key Concern

Tough to Find One:  BSU has pretty much kicked the notion that they can’t play with the big boys to the curb.  Head coach Chris Peterson is 4-1 against teams from the BCS conferences.  They had a balanced attack last season, and the only area of their game that wasn’t lights out was their defense against the run.  They still finished 28th in the nation and were able to neutralize TCU and Oregon on the ground.  When they went against Fresno State’s Ryan Matthews, however, it was a different story.  Matthews went for 234 yards and three TDs against the Broncos, proving that a dominant RB can have success against them.  But again, that was just one game, and this BSU defense is a year older and wiser.

Virginia Tech Offense vs. Boise State Defense

Look for BSU to load the box and attempt to force VT quarterback Tyrod Taylor to beat them with his arm.  Taylor took a huge step forward in this department last season but still only completed 56% of his passes.  The difficult thing for BSU is that every other opponent of VT last season tried the same thing, but the end result was usually the same–Taylor was not only efficient (ranked #13 in passing efficiency nationally), but Williams still got his yards, too.  Add Evans to the backfield this season, and that will be a tall order for the Broncos, even with their experienced and disciplined defense.  EDGE:  Virginia Tech

A strong performance on Monday night could go a long way in Boise State's BCS Championship hopes, but it could also put him in the driver's seat for the Heisman Trophy (google images)

Boise State Offense vs. Virginia Tech Defense

The combination of Kellen Moore’s efficiency (ranked #2 in passing efficiency nationally in 2009) and a solid and underrated running game with the tandem of Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin.  BSU had one of the most explosive offenses in the nation last season, and the only thing that has changed this season is that they have more experience, and they have played in more big games.  There is no doubt that Bud Foster will put a solid defense on the field, but at least some inexperience is likely to show in the first game of the 2010 season.  EDGE:  Boise State

Special Teams

Senior Kyle Brotzman handles the kicking and punting duties for Boise State and has been solid on each.  Last season, he was 18-25 on field goal attempts, while averaging 43.9 yards per punt.  When you talk about Virginia Tech, however, you immediately have to think of Beamer Ball.  The Hokies have always been among the nation’s best in special teams under head coach Frank Beamer, and this year should be no different.  Va Tech will feature a pair of seniors who will handle the kicking and punting duties, and junior Dyrell Roberts returns after finishing 2009 as the nation’s #4 ranked kick returner.  BSU counters with versatile athlete Titus Young as threat on kick returns.  Slight EDGE:  Virginia Tech

Final Analysis

What more could you ask for on opening weekend of the college football season.  This match up has all the makings of a great football game.  Each team will be well-coached and will perform on both sides of the ball.  In games that are as evenly matched as this one, you have to go back to two areas–home field advantage and special teams play.  Even though this game is technically not a home game for Virginia Tech, it may as well be.  Tech fans have a four and a half hour drive to FedEx Field, while BSU fans have to cross the country.  While BSU should have some fans, the crowd will be overwhelmingly in favor of Va Tech.  As for special teams, one area we didn’t focus on in the above paragraph was the Hokies’ ability to block kicks and punts.  Look for them to go after at least two punts during this one, and if they get a blocked kick, that could be all it takes to pull out a narrow victory.  Final Score Prediction:  Virginia Tech wins 28-24

Mega-Conferences: Be Careful What You Wish For

The fate of the Big 12 Conference was in the hands of the Texas Longhorns, and earlier this week, the conference was finally able to exhale.  After more guaranteed revenue, the University of Texas agreed to keep the conference intact, and they were soon followed by Oklahoma.  And despite the departures of Nebraska next fall and Colorado in 2012, the threat of the mega-conferences is on the back burner.  Now the question is how long the current situation will last.

Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns are staying with the Big 12....at least for now (google images)

It appears that this is a band-aid on an issue that could require plastic surgery.  Had Texas and Oklahoma left for the Pac 10 and Texas A&M bolted for the SEC, it would have had a domino effect in the rest of the college football world.  All conferences must learn from what could have happened and they need to prepare themselves for the same situation 3-5 years down the road.   College FootBlog takes a look at what might have been had the Longhorns set the mega-conferences into motion and weighs two potential impacts it would have had.

1.  The ACC and Big East would have been dead in the water.  The ACC thought they were going to challenge the SEC when they on-boarded Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College a few years ago.  Instead, Miami and Florida State have struggled to live up to their prestige from the 80’s and 90’s, and with huge losses in out of conference and bowl games, they have been little more than an automatic bid to a BCS Bowl because the BCS has to have a representative from their conference.

The Big East has come a long way since losing their coveted teams to the ACC.  But it hasn’t been easy.  Despite having three teams finish in the Top 25 last season, the Big East is still trying to prove they belong with the big boys.  The emergence of Pitt, Cincinnati and Rutgers has helped give them some respectability, but they are still largely considered a second-tier league.  With the depth they had last season, that is somewhat unfair, but that is still the general consensus. 

The Big Ten flirted with Pitt when they originally wanted to have 14-16 teams in their league, and much like when the ACC raided them a few years ago, the conference seemed ready to take their lumps and move on.  There is talk that if and when the SEC comes calling, they will go after Virginia Tech, but even if the mega-conferences leave the ACC and Big East alone, each conference could easily become a footnote in the BCS title hunt if the big conferences get bigger and deeper.  That would result in far less revenue and could effectively make each conference a new-aged mid-major. 

If they don’t want that to happen, representatives from each conference need to take advantage of the new three-year window and fight for stability and/or growth.  Otherwise, FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech could easily look to jump ship before it goes down.

2.  The Mid-Majors would have dropped further into obscurity.  Even with Boise State making the move to the Mountain West, they simply will not be able to compete in terms of revenue and overall respectability vs a 16-team Pac 10.  Add to it that Utah is likely jumping ship from the MWC to become the Pac 10’s 12th team, and they will continue to fight for some well-deserved attention in college football.  Should the Pac 10 increase to a 16-team league in the future, all hope of having a representative in the BCS National Championship will be gone.

The conference already had an uphill battle due to the lack of television coverage and the perception that they, along with the other mid-majors are the little brother of the bigger, more traditional BCS conferences, but one or two mega-conferences would effectively shut the door on their chances for a title.

That would be a shame, considering what Boise State and Utah have more than represented themselves and their conferences on the big stage of a BCS bowl game.  A one-loss or even a two-loss team from a mega-conference could easily get the nod from voters to play in a title game over an undefeated mid-major team.  Considering the strength of schedule from a 16-team SEC and/or Pac 10, it would be very difficult to keep a conference champion from a dominant conference out of the National Championship.

The other major issue facing the non-BCS Conferences would be their ability to schedule decent out of conference games.  Boise State and TCU are already teams that present a no-win situation for a major program.  If the larger program wins, they were supposed to win.  If they lose, the upset becomes an instant classic.  A 16-team conference would provide more than enough competition and national recognition without scheduling a couple tough out of conference games, leaving the cupboard bare for the mid-majors to challenge the big boys.

College FootBlog wants your input.  Let us know your thoughts on the Mega-Conferences and the pros and cons if they become a reality.

Who Will Be ESPN’s Next Man-Crush

Not only has Tim Tebow left college football, but he has also left sportscasters from many media outlets with an abrupt end to a four-year bro-mance.  None have been hit harder than ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreet.  In this edition of College FootBlog, we take a look at the most promising prospects who will serve as a rebound for Kirk and Chris.

ESPN offers the most intense coverage of college football, but they also like to covet (and borderline lust after) a player, and that player has been Tebow for at least three years now.  The attention to Tebow was beyond ridiculous, culminating with one announcer claiming on national television that “If you spend five minutes with him, he’ll change your life forever.”  That’s a pretty tall order for a college quarterback.

Regardless of how you look at it, Tebow’s popularity and the media’s fondness of him kept him in the thick of last year’s Heisman race until the very end, despite noticeably inferior statistics than many more deserving players who were not able to make the trip to New York–which brings us back to our point.  Who will be ESPN’s next media darling in college football.  We think we have an idea.

Washington QB Jake Locker has the ability and the charisma to be CFB's most popular player this fall (google images)

Jake Locker (Quarterback/Washington):  Locker could have been a first round draft pick this spring, but the athletic QB decided to stay for his senior season.  Sportswriters have a lot to like about the talented signal caller, and like Tebow, he does a lot with the community.  In 2008, he shaved his head in honor of a cancer patient whom he befriended some time before her passing in December of 2007.  Locker is smart, charismatic and very athletic–he was drafted in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim. 

Matt Barkley (Quarterback/USC):  The California native started as a true freshman last season at the powerhouse program, and the media ate it up.  Despite average numbers at best against Ohio State (15 for 31 with no TDs and one interception), the announcers were all over the Barkley Era.  USC should be improved this year, and Barkley’s year of experience should make him an improved player.  Couple that with the fact former USC quarterback Matt Leinart was the media’s golden boy in the year 4 B.T. (Before Tebow).  Add in Barkley’s charisma, and ESPN may have found their man.

Kellen Moore (Quarterback/Boise State):  The junior quarterback has started since his freshman season, and he has led the Broncos to an eye-popping 26-1 record.  Last season, he led BSU to an undefeated season, and he threw for 39 touchdowns with just three interceptions.  Obviously, the statistics don’t lie, and sportswriters could play on college football’s version of Rocky Balboa all season.  Still, Boise State will likely not get enough nationally televised games for Herbstreet to start stalking Moore, so he has to be considered somewhat of an underdog in this competition.

Although these three candidates will likely get much love from ESPN (and deservedly so, we might add), Herbstreet will only be handing out one final rose in college football’s “The Bachelor.”  But rest assured, if for some reason the NCAA were to grant Tebow an extra year of eligibility, all bets are off because he will always have a place in Herbie and Fowler’s heart.  If it’s true that absence only makes the heart grow fonder, then Tebow may want to think about getting a restraining order.

2010 Preseason Heisman Watch List

As Spring Football concludes and summer workouts begin, the Heisman buzz is soon to follow.   College FootBlog takes a look at some of the early candidates that are on the watch list, along with a few things to look for this fall.

Splitting carries with teammate Trent Richardson will make winning a second Heisman Trophy difficult for Mark Ingram (google images)

1.  Mark Ingram (Running Back/Alabama):  Only one player in college football history has won two Heisman Trophies, but that is not the only thing Ingram has going against him.  Expect Ingram to be even better in 2010 than he was last season, but his teammate Trent Richardson will also be bigger, stronger and faster as well.  Although the tandem will likely be the best in all of college football and should put ‘Bama in the driver’s seat for a second straight BCS title, it will have a negative impact on the numbers for each talented back.  An increased role for quarterback Greg McElroy and future first round wideout Julio Jones will also take precious yards away from last season’s Heisman winner.

2.  Kellen Moore (Quarterback/Boise State):  Moore has started since his freshman year, and he is poised to lead his Broncos to a serious run at a BCS Championship this season.  He is one of the most accurate passers in college football, and unlike prior seasons in Boise, if they continue to win, the Broncos will be on the national radar all season in 2010, which will allow the average college football fan to take notice of his stats.  In 2009, Moore threw for 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions.  If he can put up similar numbers in the national spotlight this season, expect to see the junior QB in New York in December.

3.  Dion Lewis (Running Back/Pittsburgh):  Lewis burst onto the scene as a freshman last season, racking up just under 1,800 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.  The talented back will have the benefit of running behind an offensive line which sports two fifth-year seniors and three juniors this fall, but the front five should expect opposing defenses to stack the box and make the new quarterback (sophomore Tino Sunseri or junior Pat Bostick) beat them through the air.  Wideouts John Baldwin and Mike Shanahan are both 6’5″ and could help the passing game, which could, in turn, help open some running lanes for Lewis.

4.  Terrelle Pryor (Quarterback/Ohio State):  Ever since his highly publicized recruitment out of Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania, the athletic quarterback has generated huge expectations.  After a slow start last season, Pryor finished strong and capped his season off as the Rose Bowl MVP.  If he can continue to build from that and keep his Buckeyes in the National Title hunt, Pryor will get plenty of looks from Heisman voters this fall.

5.  Jacquizz Rodgers (Running Back/Oregon State):  Rodgers blew up last year, accounting for 1,440 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns, and he added another 522 yards receiving.  It also helps that Oregon State has consistently been in the thick of the Pac 10 title the past couple of years.  2010 should be no different, and Rodgers will be a key reason why.  Expect another huge year from the versatile running back, and he will have several opportunities to shine on national television, with games against TCU, Boise State, USC and the Civil War game against rival Oregon to finish the season.

6.  John Clay (Running Back/Wisconsin):  Unless you follow the Big Ten, there is a good chance you have overlooked the big back for the Badgers.  Last season, Clay rushed for over 1,500 yards and an astounding 18 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.  Quarterback Scott Tolzien showed a much better command of the offense at season’s end, which will only help Clay in 2010.   If Clay can stay healthy and produce in big games against Ohio State and Iowa this season, he could be the first Badger since Ron Dayne to make the trip to New York.

Others to keep an eye on include: Ryan Mallett (QB/Arkansas);  Christian Ponder (QB/Florida State); Noel Devine (RB/West Virginia); Jacory Harris (QB/Miami); Jake Locker (QB/Washington)