Posts Tagged 'landry jones'

College FootBlog Week 4 Recap

Week 4 of the College Football season is officially in the books, and the dominant players and teams are beginning to separate from the rest of the pack.  College FootBlog breaks down last weekends action in the Week 4 Recap.

Sooners fall out of #1 spot:  Once a Heisman front-runner, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has been very average the last two weeks, throwing for 4 TD’s and 4 picks.  The Sooners still won, but they didn’t exactly get the payback they were looking for against Mizzou, who upset OU last season in Columbia.  Wins against Florida State and Mizzou, who are both 2-2 with no big wins against major programs, along with LSU’s dominance against top-tier competition allowed the Tigers to jump ahead of the Sooners in the AP Poll.  Luckily for Sooner fans, LSU and Alabama square off in Tuscaloosa in a month, so one of those teams will drop a few spots.

Brandon Weeden continues to lead the high-octane OSU offense (photo courtesy of OSU Marketing)

LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu may be the best DB in the country:  LSU and Alabama have the two best defenses in the country–and it’s not even close.  The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers against top-flight competition, all away from Death Valley.  Their defense is full of elite talent that will be playing on Sundays in the near future, but the guy that always seems to make the biggest plays on the biggest stages is cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.  In last weekend’s bigtime match up against West Virginia, the sophomore DB had a key interception and a forced fumble, in which he literally ripped the ball right out of the hands of WV wideout Brad Starks.  That makes twice that Mathieu has brought his A-game to a national television audience–in week one, he stripped the ball from Oregon punt returner Kenjon Barner and promptly took the fumble in for a touchdown, and the Ducks never recovered.

Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden continues to light it up:  We anticipated a shoot out, and that’s exactly what we got last weekend, when Oklahoma State traveled to Texas A&M.  Weeden threw for 438 yards (a new school record) and two TDs against the Aggies.  The senior quarterback completed a whopping 47 passes in 60 attempts and spread the ball around nicely–he had three different receivers with ten or more catches, led by dynamic wideout Justin Blackmon, who had 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown.  Weeden currently leads the nation in passing yards per game with 398.0 per contest.

Florida could be back:  After a disappointing 2010 season, first year head coach Will Muschamp has the Gators off to a 4-0 start, 2-0 in SEC play.  Quarterback John Brantley looks much more comfortable in Charlie Weis’ pro-style attack versus Urban Meyer’s spread attack that made Tim Tebow a household name, although they didn’t need much passing last weekend against Kentucky, as both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey rushed for over 100 yards a piece.  More importantly, Muschamp has brought his attitude to the Gator defense, who created four turnovers last weekend.  We’ll see just how far Florida has come very soon–the Gators host Alabama this weekend and travel to LSU next weekend.

The ACC is not good at tackle football:  I’m not sure how the intramural flag football programs in the ACC are, but several programs proved their conference still isn’t ready for big boy football.  After giving then #1 Oklahoma all they could handle, Florida State’s defense was gashed by the Clemson QB-WR combo of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.  The ‘Noles gave up 455 yards to the Tigers, 366 coming through the air.  FSU was supposed to be the ACC’s hope for a title-contender in 2011, but that’s not going to happen.  Miami lost to Kansas State, NC State was destroyed by Cincinnati, and Maryland had the ugly knocked out of their uniforms by Temple 38-7.  Until the ACC can beat quality out of conference opponents, they will not be taken seriously in the BCS title talk.

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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.

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.

How Will OU Replace Four 1st Rounders?

Having four players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, including three of the top four picks overall is quite a feat.  But replacing those four impact players and competing for another Big 12 Championship could be an even taller order for Bob Stoops and his staff.  College FootBlog takes a look at the players who will look to fill this huge void and then we will break down what to expect from the Sooners this fall.

Quarterback Landry Jones got valuable experience last season, due to Bradford's injured shoulder (google images)

Quarterback:  As unfortunate as Sam Bradford’s injured shoulder was last year, the silver lining has to be that freshman quarterback Landry Jones was able to get an entire year of experience, including the Red River Rivalry game against Texas, who had one of the best defenses in the country last season.  Jones looked great at times, but he looked really, really bad at times, too, and we’re not just referring to his dirty mustache.  Against Idaho State, Jones threw for six touchdowns, but that was somewhat offset when the Sooners traveled to Nebraska, where he had no TDs and five interceptions.

Most of Jones’ struggles last season seemed to happen on the road, and that could be attributed to the fact that he was a freshman thrown into the fire.  Reports out of Norman are that Jones had a very solid spring, capped off by a great showing in the Sooners’ spring game.  With the departure of Bradford, this is officially Landry Jones’ offense now.  Look for more consistency and solid numbers from him this fall.

Defensive Tackle:  Replacing a top-tier defensive tackle is extremely difficult.  Since redshirting his first year at OU, Gerald McCoy has been a fixture on the Sooners’ interior D-line, and he dominated last season, collecting fifteen tackles for loss, despite consistently facing double team blocks.  McCoy’s leadership will also be missed– he was the first OU sophomore ever to be elected team captain.

The DT with the most upside who will attempt to fill McCoy’s shoes is probably sophomore Jamarkus McFarland.  McFarland was one of the top players in the 2009 recruiting class and got some playing time as a true freshman last season.  At 6’3″ and 285 lbs, size will not be an issue, and even though his playing time was limited last season, the projected starter did get some experience and also learned a lot from McCoy, who was known for his leadership on the team.  Still, to expect the same results as McCoy would be unfair and unrealistic, at least this season.

Offensive Tackle:  Trent Williams was much more than an OT for the Sooners.  At different times, the talented offensive lineman played guard and even center for OU.  That versatility was a big reason for his #4 selection in the draft, and it was vital to the success of the Sooner offense.  It’s not often that an offensive lineman runs a 4.88 in the forty-yard dash, and replacing that kind of athleticism is not an easy task.  Williams was a solid pass blocker, but he excelled at run blocking.  Maintaining a solid running game will be critical if Oklahoma wants to be successful on offense.

Sophomore Donald Stephenson is the most likely candidate to replace Williams at LT.  After being academically ineligible last season, Stephenson is now in good standing and should have an impact this fall.  He is considered to be the most talented O-lineman returning, but his maturity and work ethic have come into question in his short time at OU.  If he can remain eligible and step it up a notch in the weight room, he could be a solid tackle, but he will not be able to replace the athleticism of Williams.  Expect a bit of a drop off at that position this season.

The Sooners were not able to replace Gresham's production last season (google images)

Tight End:  Even after missing the entire 2009 season due to an ACL tear, Jermaine Gresham was still the first TE taken in the NFL Draft.  His rare blend of size, speed and receiving ability makes him a relative “can’t miss” for the NFL.  As a junior in 2008, Gresham quickly became a favorite target for Sam Bradford, collecting 950 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.  The Sooners missed his presence last season, and no one seemed to create the vertical threat in the middle of the field that Gresham provided.

The top two candidates for the starting TE position this fall are Trent Ratteree, who was actually a walk-on and redshirt junior James Hanna.  Hanna backed up departed senior Brody Eldridge last season, so neither tight end has a wealth of experience, and neither provides the downfield threat that Gresham brought to the table.

What will the overall impact be for OU in 2010?  Fortunately for Sooner fans, Bob Stoops has consistently restocked his roster with solid recruiting classes, so the cupboard is not exactly bare.  However, replacing four players that go that high in the NFL Draft is not easy to do–just ask Pete Carroll, who lost four players on the first day of last year’s draft.  USC’s defense was still talented, but they were not the dominant group that the Trojans have consistently produced since Carroll arrived at Southern Cal.  Stoops will likely run into the same issues, but the impact should not be as great as what USC faced, mostly because OU had to play all of last season without two of their four 1st round selections.

College Football Preseason Top 25 (#8-#15)

College FootBlog continues our countdown of our Preseason Top 25.  In this edition, we break down teams #8-#15.  In case you missed teams #16-#25, check it out here (#16-#25).  Later in the week, we will unveil the top seven, but until then, check out our analysis and breakdown of the teams that are on the cusp of the Super 7.

8.  Arkansas:  The return of quarterback Ryan Mallett instead of entering the 2010 NFL Draft should pay huge dividends to Bobby Petrino, but it another year under Petrino’s tutelage should only improve Mallett’s draft position next spring.  At 6’7″ and 238 lbs., Mallett has the size that NFL scouts like, but he can also make all the throws.  Mallett has several experienced and proven wide receivers, and several versatile running backs, headlined by Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson.  Offense will not be an issue for the Razorbacks in 2010, but their 89th ranked defense will have to improve if they want to stay in the Top 10 and survive an SEC season.

Wisconsin RB John Clay rushed for 1,500+ yards and 18 TD's last season (google images)

9. Wisconsin: Big Ten foes will get a healthy dose of John Clay in 2010.  The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year checks in at 6’1″ and tips the scales at just under 250 lbs.   Clay will run behind an experienced offensive line, which will likely consist of three seniors, two of which were All-Big Ten selections in 2009.  Quarterback Scott Tolzien will be a senior and stepped up big in the Champs Sports Bowl.  The Badgers will have to replace quite a few upperclassmen from last year’s dominant defense, but they still have playmakers like defensive back Jay Valai who should be solid enough to slow down the many not-so-creative offenses in the Big Ten.

10.  Oklahoma:  The Sooners have a tough test early when Florida State comes to town on September 11th.  If they can survive that game, they have the Red River Rivalry minus Colt McCoy, and the rest of the Big 12 schedule could be smooth sailing.  Rival Oklahoma State will be without QB Zack Robinson and WR Dez Bryant (although Bryant was suspended for virtually all of last year).  The Sooners will have to fill the void of likely top-five pick DT Gerald McCoy, but the defense should hold their own in 2010.  Sam Bradford’s injury hurt the Sooners, but it gave Landry Jones some great experience.  As a freshman, Jones was a bit inconsistent, but he showed flashes of brilliance last year.  If he can continue to improve, he could be the next great quarterback produced by QB coach Josh Heupel.

11.  Florida:  Although Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler was berated by Urban Meyer, his interview with wide receiver Deonte Thompson was spot on.  As great as Tim Tebow was, John Brantley will prove to be a much better quarterback, in the traditional sense of the position.  While Brantley will not bring the running ability of Tebow, he is a much more polished passer and should stretch the field vertically much better than his predecessor.  The losses of key contributors on defense, including linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Joe Haden will hurt, but what could hurt the Gators the most in 2010 is the goal line opportunities.  With the departure of Tebow, there is no significant threat for short-yardage threats in the Florida backfield.

12.  Pitt:  Fresh off a contract extension, Dave Wannstedt is really settling in as the Panthers’ head coach.  The loss of Bill Stull hurts a bit, but Pitt has a couple of capable back ups at QB, in sophomore Tino Sunseri and junior Pat Bostick.  Whoever wins the starting QB job has the luxury of having Dion Lewis in the backfield.  Lewis was one of the best running backs in the nation last year, and he was only a freshman.  As good as the offense should be for the Panthers, however, the strength of the 2010 team will likely be the defense.  Going into the spring, the defense looks to have seven juniors and two seniors in the starting line up.

FSU's Christian Ponder will try to throw his hat in the ring of this year's Heisman race (google images)

13. Florida State: The Seminoles were an average defense from being a 10-win team last season.  Unfortunately for Bobby Bowden and legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, the FSU defense was shredded all season in ’09, ranking 108th nationally overall.  Three of the ‘Noles’ six losses were by touchdown or less.  The bright side for FSU was the offense, led by quarterback Christian Ponder, who will likely be in the Heisman discussion this season.  Ponder has all five starters on the offensive line returning this fall, led by All-American guard Rodney Hudson.  If the newly revamped defensive coaching staff can improve last season’s dismal defensive unit, first year coach Jimbo Fisher could easily have his team playing for the ACC Championship in December.

14.  USC:  The dominance of the Trojans was bound to come to an end at some point, and 2009 proved that regardless of depth and top-tier recruiting, when you ship eleven players to the NFL in one season, it is going to have an impact.  Despite the off-the-field distractions and the departure of Pete Carroll, Lane and Monte Kiffin should have Southern Cal back in a familiar place next season–challenging for a Pac 10 Championship.  Linebacker Chris Galippo should reap the benefits of playing under one of the best defensive minds in the NFL or college, Monte Kiffin.  The Trojan offense should see much improvement from last season as well, now that Matt Barkley has a year of experience under his belt.

15.  Iowa:  The Hawkeyes surprised a lot of people last season when they made a serious run at the Big Ten title, and they dominated Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl with great defense and a solid performance from quarterback Ricky Stanzi.  Stanzi will have to be much more consistent in 2010 if the ‘Hawks are going to challenge Ohio State for the title this fall.  Stanzi loses three All-Big Ten offensive lineman, which was anchored by future first-round selection Bryan Bulaga, but they return their top two running backs and stud DE Adrian Clayborn, who surprised many when he announced that despite dominating the Orange Bowl, he would return for his senior season at Iowa City.

Bradford or Clausen? An Inside Look at the Draft’s Top 2 QBs

As the NFL Combine continues through this weekend, much of the buzz the last few days has centered around the debate of which quarterback will be the first to go in April’s draft.  College FootBlog will break down the top two candidates, Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford by analyzing five key categories to see which one is most likely to hear his name selected first by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

1.  Size

Bradford is hoping that his added body weight will help ease NFL scouts' concerns of his durability (google images)

At 6’4″, Bradford is an inch taller than Clausen, but the biggest difference is weight.  Bradford tipped the scales at 238 lbs last week, which should make NFL scouts feel much more comfortable about his durability (which came into question last season after separating his shoulder).  While Clausen showed durability at Notre Dame, he is about twenty pounds lighter than Bradford.  EDGE:  Bradford

2.  Accuracy

Clausen has proven he can make every single throw, but Bradford may be the most accurate quarterback to enter the draft since Drew Brees.  Not only did Bradford consistently deliver accurate passes that hit his receivers in stride, he did it consistently with a multiple receivers like Ryan Broyles, Jermaine Gresham, Juaquin Iglesias, etc.  While Clausen is very accurate as well, the vast majority of his passes were to his go-to receiver, Golden Tate EDGE:  Bradford

3.  Offensive System

While OU head coach Bob Stoops brought Bradford more under center and had more of a pro-style offense his sophomore season, there is no question that Clausen has the edge here.  Although Charlie Weis did not perform as a head coach, Notre Dame’s offense is as close to an NFL offense as any college program in the country.  Clausen, and more importantly, his future NFL team will benefit greatly from Weis’ tuteledge.  EDGE:  Clausen

4.  Competition

Oklahoma not only competes in one of the major BCS conferences, but they also play at least one competitive non-conference game a year.  Bradford also faced much better defenses in his bowl games, as he led the Sooners to back to back BCS games.  Even though the Big 12 is known more for its explosive offenses, Bradford did have to go against Will Muschamp in the Red River Rivalry three times in his career.

Notre Dame on the other hand, had a schedule that was absolutely laughable during Clausen’s career.  The Irish didn’t exactly load up with competition last year, scheduling Nevada, Washington, Washington State and UConn.  EDGE:  Bradford

5.  Intangibles

Bradford ran a no huddle offense that was one of the most explosive attacks in college football history.  Although his back up, Landry Jones, did an admirable job replacing him last season, Bradford was clearly what made OU’s offense click on all cylinders.  He had a solid grasp of the scheme, and he showed the ability to read defenses. 

Clausen not only had a strong grasp of Weis’ offense, in nearly every game last season, he showed a lot of poise and moxy.  He was at his best when the game was on the line and always seemed to make big plays when it counted the most.  EDGE:  Clausen

Final Analysis:  An argument can be made for either Bradford or Clausen to the be first QB taken in the upcoming draft, and both have put up big numbers in their college careers.  However, Bradford had two exceptional seasons at Oklahoma, while Clausen really only shined in his third year at Notre Dame against a weak schedule.  Despite Bradford’s injury last season, he has the more impressive and more complete body of work that Clausen. 

Let us know your thoughts!  College FootBlog wants to know who you think should go first in the NFL Draft?

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 2

In Part 2 of our three-part coverage, College FootBlog continues our breakdown of the top six BCS conferences from the 2009 season.  In case you missed it, we ranked the fifth and sixth conferences earlier this week (see link).  We continue our analysis by providing a recap of last season and an outlook for next year for conferences #3 and #4 in our Power Rankings.

4.  Big 12

 

Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was one of very few bright spots for the Big 12 in '09 (google images)

2009 Recap:

If not for Texas making it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Big 12 would have ranked fifth or sixth in the ’09 Power Rankings.  Nebraska came out of nowhere, but their offense was anemic.  Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford and never really got on track all year.  Add in Mizzou and Texas Tech not living up to high expectations coming off successful 2008 campaigns, and the Big 12 didn’t have much to talk about beyond Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and Ndamukong Suh.

2010 outlook:  Next season will likely be more of the same for the Big 12.  Although the loss of Colt McCoy in the first quarter of the BCS National Championship was a huge blow, it provided valuable experience to Freshman Garrett Gilbert.  Oklahoma’s offense should be improved with Landry Jones having a year of experience under his belt, but their dominant defense will likely take a step back.  The Sooners lose six defensive starters, including both corners and projected first-round DT Gerald McCoy.

Texas Tech will likely take a year or two before they truly integrate to Tommy Tuberville’s system, Oklahoma State will have to replace starting quarterback Zac Robinson and will lose WR Dez Bryant to the NFL.  Mizzou loses playmakers on each side of the ball in WR Denario Alexander and projected first round linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon.  Add to that, Nebraska’s departure of Suh (who many project as the number one overall pick in April’s draft), and the Big 12 North will have trouble keeping points off the scoreboard.

3.  Big Ten

2009 Recap:  The major reason the Big Ten did not claim the #2 spot in the ’09 Power Rankings was depth.  Iowa surprised many experts by effectively shutting Georgia Tech’s offense down, thanks in large part to All-Big Ten DE Adrian Clayborn, who is planning on returning for his senior year.  Terrelle Pryor saved his best performance for last, as he dominated in Ohio State’s Rose Bowl win over Oregon.

The Big Ten finished with a bowl record of 4-3, with a surprising win from Wisconsin over Miami and a Penn State victory over an offensively inept LSU team.  A more in depth look at the top two teams from the conference, however, shows a couple of teams that were far from juggernauts.

Iowa had one of the best defenses in the nation, but their offense was nothing to write home about.  The Hawkeyes struggled to beat Arkansas State at home and had to depend on two blocked field goals at the end of the game to defeat another FCS opponent, Northern Iowa 17-16 in Iowa City.

The Buckeyes nearly lost their opener to Navy at home and fell to a struggling USC team, and they later fell to 5-7 Purdue.

 

Look for Terrelle Pryor to have a huge year in 2010 (google images)

2010 Outlook:

Look for the Big Ten to make a serious run at the #2 conference in the country next season.  Jim Tressel continues to put great defenses on the field for the Bucks and the offense should take a huge step forward with the return of running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron.  And if Terrelle Pryor’s Rose Bowl performance was a sign of things to come, the Bucks will be the real deal come fall.

Iowa is also very young on offense–the ‘Hawks will return both freshman running backs, quarterback Ricky Stanzi and wideout Marvin McNutt, who exploded onto the scene in 2009.  Couple that with Adrian Clayborn and several returners on an already dominant defense, and the ‘Hawks could make a serious run in 2010.

Three other teams from the Big Ten to keep an eye on next year are Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald is one of the most underrated coaches in the country.  Wisconsin’s John Clay took full advantage of being the work horse last year, and expect more of the same in 2010, and watch out for the Wolverines.  This will be Rich Rodriguez’ third full season in Ann Arbor, and Tate Forcier will have a spring to put some much needed weight on.  If UM can assemble an average defense, the Big Blue will be bowling again at year’s end.

Look for the breakdown of the top two conferences in College FootBlog’s countdown in the next few days…