Posts Tagged 'kirk ferentz'

Week 9 College FootBlog 3rd & 1

Week 8 in college football was saw another big upset and saw a Heisman contender move to a Heisman front-runner.  We cover these topics and more in this week’s edition of our 3rd & 1.

1st:  Oklahoma’s lack of a vertical passing game finally caught up with them.  Whether it is conservative play calling or zero confidence in quarterback Landry Jones, the Sooners’ lack of the intermediate and deep passing game was finally exposed by the Missouri Tigers this past weekend.  In match ups against Florida State, Texas and Mizzou, it was abundantly clear that the OU coaching staff does not want the sophomore QB to make reads down the field.  Until the Mizzou weekend, Jones’ weaknesses were somewhat masked by a barrage of bubble screens and the fast pace of the no-huddle offense.  Mizzou walked their safeties and corners up to the line of scrimmage and kept the bubble screens in check, and begged OU to challenge their pass defense.  Still, the OU play calling was bubble screens and quick slants, and it cost the Sooners one loss and could easily cost them another if the coaching staff doesn’t improve the passing game.

QB Cameron Newton has led Auburn to an 8-0 start this season (google images)

2nd:  The Heisman Trophy is Cameron Newton’s to lose.  Auburn’s  junior signal-caller eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in last weekend’s victory over previously undefeated LSU.  Although his passing numbers were far from explosive (10 for 16 for 86 yards), the elusive QB rushed for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns against a LSU defense that had previously only allowed one player, Tennessee’s Tauren Poole, to break 100 yards.  Newton is 9th nationally in total yards per game with 305.1 and has already accounted for 27 touchdowns, despite going against the stout defenses of the SEC.  If he can put up similar numbers in the Iron Bowl, not only will he have a great shot at the Heisman, but he will have the Tigers in position for a BCS Championship.

 

3rd:  Oregon’s offense is scary-good.  The Ducks lead the nation with just under 570 yards per game.  Their lowest scoring output so far this season was against Arizona State, when the Sun Devils “held” them to a mere 42 points.  Last Thursday’s 60-point, 582-yard thrashing of UCLA gave the rest of the nation an opportunity to see just how explosive the 2010 Ducks are.  Quarterback Darron Thomas has made everyone forget about Jeremiah Masoli’s departure last spring.  The sophomore QB has accounted for over 1,500 yards passing and 17 TDs to go along with 269 yards and two TDs on the ground.  Sophomore running back LaMichael James has picked up right where he left off last season and currently leads the nation in rushing yards per game with just over 161 YPG.

….and 1:  Only Iowa stands in the way of a Big Ten Title for Michigan StateThe undefeated Spartans invade Iowa City this weekend and face the Hawkeyes, who lost a heart-breaker at home last weekend to Wisconsin (who Michigan State beat earlier this month).  MSU has the luxury of not having Ohio State on the schedule this year, and after this weekend’s trip to Iowa, they wrap up the rest of the regular season with home games against 1-7 Minnesota and 4-3 Purdue, before traveling to Penn State for the finale.  If the Spartans can knock off Iowa this weekend, they can still afford to lose one game and be guaranteed at least a share of the conference title.  Look for Kirk Ferentz and his Hawkeyes to give MSU all they can handle in what should be a great game.

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2010 College Football Big Ten Preview (#1-#5)

As the summer months approach, we get closer and closer to August, which, at least to the college football fanatic, means that two-a-days are just a couple of months away, and the CFB season will be underway.  Last week, we broke down each division of the ACC, and this week, we take a crack at the Big Ten.

Yesterday, College FootBlog released our Preseason Rankings for Teams 6-11 (see link) in the Big Ten.  In today’s edition, we break down our top five. 

Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will look to build off his MVP performance in last year's Rose Bowl (google images)

1.  Ohio State:  Look for quarterback Terrelle Pryor to build off his Rose Bowl performance last season.  Running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will follow another strong and experienced offensive line.  Brian Rolle leads the defense along with All-Big Ten Second Team selection Thaddeus Gibson anchoring the defensive line.  The Buckeyes have a difficult trip to Iowa City, but an improved Pryor and the Buckeye running game could simply be too much for the Hawkeyes to handle, even in Iowa City.  Pryor’s athleticism coupled with head coach Jim Tressel’s dominant defenses should be too much for the rest of the Big Ten. 

2.  Wisconsin:  Look for running back John Clay to put together an even better season than a year ago, when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns.  If he does as expected, he will make the trip to New York for the Heisman presentation at season’s end.  Bret Bielema put a 10-win season together, which was capped off by a dominant performance against the Miami Hurricanes in the Champs Sports Bowl.   This could be the season that puts Bielema over the hump, but in order to do so, he will have to out-slug Iowa at Iowa City on October 23rd.

3.  Iowa:  Running back Adam Robinson returns after a solid 2009 campaign, and quarterback Ricky Stanzi and favorite target Marvin McNutt return as well.  The losses on the offensive line, most notably, last year’s Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Bryan Bulaga may have a negative effect on the ‘Hawks ground game.  Kirk Ferentz is one of the most talented coaches in the country and will have another great defense, but unless Stanzi is more consistent this year, Iowa will have a very difficult time winning out, although they do get Ohio State and Wisconsin at home this year.

4. Penn State:  Joe Pa’s squad should be solid again this year, but replacing quarterback Daryll Clark will be a tall order.  Running back Evan Royster and a seasoned offensive line that, coming out of spring ball looks to have four seniors and a junior should help the starter at QB, which appears to be sophomore Kevin Newsome going into summer workouts.  Defensively, the Nittany Lions lose Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Jared Odrick all three starting linebackers, but as usual, Paterno has more than adequate talent in the wings.  A strong running game another stout PSU defense should keep PSU in the hunt this season.

5:  Michigan State:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins returns for the Spartans and will try to build on his 2,600-yard, 19 touchdown performance from last season.  Defensively, MSU returns senior linebacker Greg Jones that adds CB Johnny Adams after missing last season.  Head Coach Mark Dantonio is now entering his fourth year in East Lansing but he is 0-3 in bowl games so far.  Dantonio has recruited some solid players and they are beginning to fill starting roles.  He must improve on last year’s 6-7 record, and that seems likely with Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue all at home this season.  The Spartans also have hated Notre Dame in their backyard this year as well and will look to take advantage of the new coaching regime for the Irish.

Check back next week for more articles and predictions for the upcoming CFB season, and let us know your feedback!

College Football Week 6 Preview: Michigan at Iowa

This college football weekend is headlined with several bigtime match ups, and while most eyes will be on the Florida vs. LSU game, football fans may not realize that there is another great game in the Big Ten–yes, I said it.  The Big Ten has had some exciting games this season, too, and with a combined record of 9-1, the MichiganIowa game this weekend should be a good one.

College FootBlog will break down each team’s strengths, weaknesses and we will show what each team will need to do to come out of the weekend with a very important win in Big Ten play.

Iowa 

DE Adrian Clayborn will try to shut down Forcier and the Michigan offense (google images)

DE Adrian Clayborn will try to shut down Forcier and the Michigan offense (google images)

Strengths:  The Hawkeye defense has been very good this season, holding a veteran Penn State offense to just ten points in Happy Valley a couple weeks ago.

Adrian Clayborn and company will have to continue to play sound defense as they square off against one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country this weekend in Tate Forcier.

Key Concerns:  Although quarterback Ricky Stanzi has shown significant improvement this season, his stats are still far from stellar this season. 

With the departure of Shonn Greene, the Hawkeyes have had to rekindle the offense.  Stanzi has thrown the football with much more confidence this year, but his 58% completion percentage and 8/7 touchdown to interception ratio is not going to get him All-Big Ten recognition.  If Iowa is going to win this game, Stanzi is going to have to put up better numbers than he has so far this season.

 

Tate Forcier has stepped up like a seasoned veteran this season (google images)

Tate Forcier has stepped up like a seasoned veteran this season (google images)

Michigan

Strengths:  Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier has given head coach Rich Rodriguezhis trigger-man for his spread offense.  Forcier has kept the Wolverines in each game, and very nearly brought his team back against rival Michigan State last weekend.

Forcier has accounted for over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and eleven touchdowns with his feet and his arm.  More importantly, the young signal-caller thrives in big games.  Expect him to bring his A-game this weekend.

Key Concerns:  The Wolverine defense has been sliced and diced this season when playing formidable opponents.  If you take away the games against Eastern and Western Michigan, Michigan has given up 93 points in three games.

While Iowa is not an offensive juggernaut, neither is Indiana.  Even the Hoosiers racked up 467 yards and 33 points against the Big Blue.  The defense will have to play much better if they expect to come out of Iowa City with a win.

Iowa Offense vs. Michigan Defense

While Ricky Stanzi has been a little up and down this year, look for him to have a solid game in front of the home crowd at Kinnick Stadium this weekend.  Michigan’s defense is a little behind Rodriguez’ offense, and it has shown.  The lack of a shutdown defense ended up catching up with the Wolverines last weekend and nearly cost them against Indiana and Notre Dame.  Stanzi’s passing and the two talented freshmen running backs, Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher should have a solid day.  EDGE:  Iowa

Michigan Offense vs. Iowa Defense

Kirk Ferentz once again has a solid defensive unit.  They have played extremely well all season, but they have not faced a dual-threat quarterback like Forcier.  The ‘Hawks should slow down the Michigan attack, but stopping Forcier all together is a tall order.  Michigan will represent the best offensive attack that Iowa has faced so far this year.  Look for Forcier to lead his team to some scores this weekend.  EDGE:  Michigan

Special Teams

Iowa’s junior kicker Daniel Murray will get to kick in the friendly confines of Kinnick, and the kick returners, Brandon Wegher and  5’9″ speedster Paul Chaney are very solid.  Michigan will counter with senior place-kicker Jason Olesnavage and two very talented return men in Greg Matthews and Martavious Odoms.   EGDE:  Push

Prediction

Lately, College FootBlog’s predictions have been the kiss of death for the predicted winner.  This game is very evenly matched, but I think Iowa’s defense and the game being in Iowa City could give the Hawkeyes the very slight edge in this one.  Score Prediction:  Iowa wins 27-24