Posts Tagged 'lamichael james'

BCS Title Game Breakdown: Part 3

The wait is nearly over.  Tomorrow college football fans will get to see the match they have been waiting for since mid-season when Auburn and Oregon bring their high-powered offenses to Glendale, Arizona to declare this year’s BCS Champion.  In case you missed it, College FootBlog provided two previous breakdowns for this match up, but in the finale, we will provide what we feel will ultimately be the difference in this shoot-out, and we will give our score prediction.

As we pointed out in our first breakdown, each team has an X-factor, and both Oregon’s Darron Thomas and Auburn’s Cam Newton are on the offensive side of the ball.  The difference in this game, however, will be who can make plays on defense.

For Oregon, there has been a lot of talk about senior linebacker Casey Matthews, and rightfully so.  If Oregon has a shot in this game, however, FS John Boyett must have a big game.  Boyett is tied for the team lead in interceptions with five and ranks third on the team in tackles with 67.  The talented sophomore defensive back has proven all season that he is dangerous against the pass, but he is also excellent in run support.  The Ducks will need the best of both worlds against Newton, who is the most dangerous dual threat quarterback in the nation.

Auburn DT Nick Fairley has dominated all season and will be key in the BCS Title Game on Monday (google images)

For Auburn, DT Nick Fairley is one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the country, and the Tigers’ success or failure to limit Oregon’s potent rushing attack, led by the nation’s top rusher LaMichael James, will depend largely on how effective Fairly is against the very quick offensive line from Oregon.  The dominant defensive tackle has racked up 21.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks on the season.

Final Analysis/Score Predicition

We agree with the experts that this game will light up the score board.  We believe that Fairely’s impact on this game could be the difference.  Fairley has dominated all season, many of those games coming at the expense of a solid running game (see Alabama).  While the Crimson Tide’s rushing numbers have been down considerably compared to last season, they were finally healthy and back up to full strength for the Iron Bowl match up and presented Auburn with a very balanced attack.  Fairley dominated against both the run and pass.

Although Auburn has faced the spread attack, they have not faced the speed and balance that Oregon presents.  Still, in the end, we expect Auburn to create a key turnover in the second half that could prove to be the difference, and most turnovers, even the interceptions, are caused by pressure up the middle.

As Terrell Owens would say, “Get your popcorn ready.”  This will be a fun game to watch that will likely not be decided until late in the game.  Our final score prediction:  Auburn wins 41-31.

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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.

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.

College Football Preseason Top 25 (#1-#7)

The countdown is over.  For the past week, College FootBlog has broken down college football’s 2010 Preseason Top 25.  In case you missed them, take a look at teams #8-#15 and teams #16-#25.  We now unveil our Preseason Super 7, along with some things to look for this fall.  

1.  Alabama:  The Crimson Tide will likely be everyone’s #1 going into this fall, and why shouldn’t they be?  They lost All-Americans at all three levels of their defense; DT Terrence Cody, linebacker Rolando McClain and cornerback Javier Arenas, but ‘Bama will reload at each position, none more that Dre Kirkpatrick at corner.  The strength of the Tide, however, will be the offense.  The running game will once again feature the tandem of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and ultra-talented Trent Richardson.  Wide Receiver Julio Jones could be next year’s top receiver taken in the NFL Draft, and under center will be Greg McElroy, who, as opposed to last fall, has not only played on the biggest stages (see SEC Championship and BCS National Championship), but he has come through with flying colors.  Put it all together, and Nick Saban appears to be in position to win it all again in 2010.

Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will look to pick up where he left off last season in the Rose Bowl (google images)

2.  Ohio State:   If Terrelle Pryor picks up where he left off in the Rose Bowl, look for Ohio State to challenge for a BCS National Championship this season.  Pryor was inconsistent at the beginning of the season, but as the 2009 season progressed, he seemed to be more relaxed and confident, and he helped lead the Buckeyes to six straight wins to close out the season.   Tailbacks Brandon Saine and Boom Herron will compliment Pryor in the backfield behind a very physical and very experienced offensive line.   As is typically the case in Columbus,  Jim Tressel will have a stacked defense.  Although changes in the depth chart could happen after two-a-days in August, the spring depth chart for the Bucks has ten seniors starting on defense, highlighted by linebacker Brian Rolle.

3.  Boise State:  This fall the Broncos will not have to fight the preseason rankings like they have in year’s past.  The BCS formula and bowl selection failed miserably by putting BSU against TCU in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.  The Broncos return 23 of 24 starters from last year’s undefeated squad, including quarterback Kellen Moore.  Chris Petersen’s team will also have a national audience for their opener at Virginia Tech.  If they can win that game and take care of business for the rest of the season, pollsters will find it difficult to continue to keep them out of the BCS National Championship, especially if Ohio State or Alabama suffers a loss.

4.  Virginia Tech:  The Hokies will try to break the recent trend of ACC teams that are hyped up all preseason, only to fail miserably early in the season (see Clemson).  The defense will break in several new starters, including the DE position vacated by E Jason Worilds, who left early for the NFL.  While the youth and inexperience on defense may be an issue, this is certainly not defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s first rodeo.  Look for the Va Tech defense to be solid, and they will be aided by the running game on offense.  Ryan Williams blew up last season for over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns, and he will be joined by Darren Evans, who sat out last season with an ACL tear.  Tyrod Taylor is still more dangerous with his feet than his arm, but last season, he proved he could win games by throwing the ball, too.

Sophomore QB Garrett Gilbert will take the keys to the offense in Austin this fall (google images)

5.  Texas:  With the losses of Heisman runner-up Colt McCoy and soon-to-be first round pick Sergio Kindle, one might think the Longhorns would be in a bit of a rebuilding year, but Mack Brown is one of the best recruiters in the business, consistently replacing All-Americans with newer All-Americans.  The early departure of McCoy due to injury in the BCS National Championship was a major blow to the ‘Horns chances of beating Alabama, but it provided great experience for then-freshman Garrett Gilbert.  It did not take long for Gilbert to settle in, and when he did, he gave the Crimson Tide defense (which was arguably the best in the country) a run for their money.  Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp once again has a talent-rich defense led by linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho.

6.  Oregon:  Had it not been for Jeremiah Masoli’s suspension for the entire 2010 season, the Ducks would be ranked as high as #3, but when you lose a Heisman candidate, it is going to drop you at least a few spots.  Head coach Chip Kelly proved last year that he can not only keep his team focused despite a suspension to a key player (i.e. LeGarrette Blount), but he can also replace talent with more talent.  LaMichael James replaced Blount with seemingly no issue, as the freshman tallied just under 1,500 yards on his way to earning the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year.  An off the field incident in February, however, will result in a suspension of at least one game this fall.  If the Ducks can finish with one loss or less, they will have made a very strong case for a shot at the BCS title.  That is because their schedule is one of the toughest in the country, and includes road games at Tennessee, Cal, USC and they cap off the season in Corvallis for the Civil War against Oregon State.

7.  TCU:  In ten years at the helm, head coach Gary Patterson has quietly led the Horned Frogs to an 85-28 record.  Like Boise State, they return the majority of their starters from last season.  Led by quarterback Andy Dalton, the offense returns nine of their eleven starters.  Last season,
Dalton accounted for over 2,700 yards passing and over 500 yards rushing.  On defense, TCU loses linebacker Daryl Washington and dominant defensive end Jerry Hughs.  Linebacker Tank Carder should fill the void at LB, but the Horned Frogs will need to find someone off the edge to provide pressure on opposing quarterbacks for Patterson’s defensive scheme to be effective.  Patterson’s troops open up at home against Oregon State.  A win against the Beavers on national television combined with their high preseason ranking could likely send them to their second-straight BCS bowl at season’s end.

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 1

With the 2009 football season now officially in the books, College FootBlog will tackle the ongoing debate of which conference is the best in the FBS.  In this three-part breakdown, we will rank the six major conferences from the BCS in 2009, and we will also provide an outlook for each conference for the 2010 season. 

In our first of three articles, we will take a look at teams five and six in the power rankings of the major BCS conferences, although it should be noted that Boise State and TCU could make us rank eight conferences at the conclusion of next season. 

Oregon State's Quizz Rodgers has his sights set on a Pac 10 Title (google images)

6.  Pac 10 

2009 Recap:  For the last several years, USC has brought respect to the conference, but last year’s fall from grace left put the pressure on the other teams in the conference to step up.  No one else did–at least not consistently.  The Pac 10 was a dismal 2-5 in bowls last season and one of those wins was USC’s victory over a very mediocre Boston College team in the Emerald Bowl.  Losing three linebackers and quarterback Mark Sanchez in the first day of the NFL Draft last season proved to be too much for Pete Carroll to overcome. 

After a promising start, Cal fell far below expectations, and Oregon started and finished with huge losses on national television.  Toby Gerhart led the Stanford Cardinal on the college football map, but overall, the Pac 10’s 2-5 bowl record was very underwhelming. 

2010 Outlook:  All signs point to the Pac 10 having a big turnaround next season.   Conference Champ Oregon returns quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LaMichael James.   Oregon State will have the Rodgers brothers returning key running backs coming back next year, Arizona is emerging after an 8-5 record, and Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian have Stanford and Washington out of the cellar of college football. 

5.  ACC

 2009 Recap:  The ACC barely made the cut for the fifth worst conference in college football last season.  For the

VT's Ryan Williams exploded on the scene in '09, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 19 TD's (google images)

second year in a row, the Atlantic Coast Conference was consistently inconsistent.  Paul Johnson once again proved to critics that the triple option can (and does) work in major college football, but they could not get things going against Iowa’s defense in the Orange Bowl. 

Virginia Tech racked up ten wins, but once again, Frank Beamer was unable to get his team over the hump as one of college football’s elite teams.  For what seems like the fifth straight year, Clemson failed to live up to all of the hype as well, losing five games, including one against a very average South Carolina team.  Overall, ACC teams finished with a 3-4 bowl record in ’09. 

2010 Outlook:  Like the Pac 10, the ACC should make significant strides in 2010.  Georgia Tech may take a step back with Jonathan Dwyer departing to the NFL, but several teams should be much improved.  Virginia Tech returns running back Ryan Williams and QB Tyrod Taylor, and we may actually see Miami and Florida State get back on the map.  Each of the traditional power houses from Florida showed signs that they may be on the cusp of regaining greatness, but they were up and down for much of the season.  Look for Miami and FSU to make a serious run at Va Tech next season. 

Note:  Look for Parts 2 & 3 of College FootBlog’s 2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings later this week.