Posts Tagged 'washington'

College FootBlog 3rd & 1: Week 8

For the second consecutive week, College FootBlog rolls out our 3rd & 1 feature, which breaks down three observations from the college football action from the previous weekend.  And we finish by giving one key match up to look for in the upcoming week.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

1st:  Another week, another set of hangover games.   Last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide fell at South Carolina after thumping the hated Florida Gators the week before.  This weekend, Kentucky returned the favor.  Steve Spurrier took his Gamecocks into Lexington, and the Wildcats shocked them 31-28.  Not to be outdone, Oregon State lost a double-overtime thriller to Washington, just one week after knocking off previously undefeated Arizona.   

2nd:  Michigan QB Denard Robinson cannot take the punishment of a full Big Ten schedule.  Although Robinson is the most explosive player in college football, Rich Rodriguez has no other legitimate weapons on offense, making Robinson a one-man show.  Robinson is on pace for around 250 rushes this year–if his body can take it.  They need more production and more carries from their running backs to take some pressure off Robinson (RB Vincent Smith is second on the team in yards and carries and currently has nearly half the rushes (70) that Robinson has accumulated this season.  More importantly, Robinson, who is listed 6’0″ and only 188 lbs. does not have the body to take that many hits in the thick of the Big Ten schedule.

Wisconsin's bruising running back, John Clay took it to Ohio State this past weekend (google images)

3rd:  John Clay is the real deal.  The Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, along with Wisconsin’s massive offensive line smacked Ohio State right in the mouth this weekend, en route to this season’s biggest upset as they took dominated the Buckeyes 31-18.  Clay led the Badgers’ ground assault with 104 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries (5.0 yards per carry).  Behind arguably the most physical offensive line in the country, the 255 lb. junior proved to be too much for a Ohio State defense that features seven players who could be playing in the NFL in the very near future.  Clay and fellow tailback James White will get another opportunity to shine on national television this upcoming weekend when they travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes.  If he has a similar performance against Iowa’s stout defense, Heisman voters will be forced to take notice.

…and 1:  Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert will get his first major test of 2010 this weekend when Oklahoma comes to town.  At 265 yards per game, Gabbert ranks 20th in the country.  Statistically, the Sooners defense has been far from stellar this season, but a closer look shows that Bob Stoops’ squad has brought their A-Game in their only two legitimate contests so far this season.  The Sooners shut down Florida State in week 2 and rattled Texas QB Garrett Gilbert in the Red River Rivalry game a couple of weeks ago.  Look for OU to come after Gabbert, who has battled through a hip injury.  The Sooners will bring it this upcoming weekend, and they will look to ruin Mizzou’s homecoming weekend on the national TV game of the week.

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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.

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. 

 

BCS or Bust for Weis?

As head coach Charlie Weis enters his fifth season at Notre Dame, he will not only be attempting to bring the Irish back into the BSC picture, he could be fighting for his job.  After all, the Notre Dame team that will take the field on Saturday will be all of Weis’ recruits, and they will no longer be freshmen and sophomores. 
2009 could be a make or break year for Weiss

2009 could be a make or break year for Weis

So far, the only success Weis has had was with Ty Willingham’s recruits for his West Coast system.  Willingham, who was run out of South Bend after only three seasons, was the coach who brought in players like Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and Tom Zbikowski, who were the backbone of Irish for Weiss’ first two seasons.

Possibly Weis’ most prized recruit in his tenure at ND was Jimmy Clausen, who will begin his third season as the starting QB in South Bend this season.  Coming out of high school, just about every football recruiting magazine tabbed Clausen as the top high school player in the country.

So far, Clausen has been less than stellar and has spent almost as much time on his back as he has on his feet–he was sacked a team-record 34 times as a freshman (wikipedia).  Clausen rebounded a bit from a rough freshman season in 2008  with just over 3000 yards passing with 25 TD’s and 17 picks, but critics will point out that the Notre Dame schedule, which is usually among the toughest in the nation, was far from that last season, facing off against teams like San Diego St., Syracuse and Washington.

Despite a weak schedule in 2008, Weis and his troops had to beat Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawai’i  Bowl game to secure a winning record of 7-6.  Not to be outdone, the 2009 schedule may just qualify the Irish for a shot at the Indiana Class 2A State Championship…if they can squeeze by Washington St. and Washington, who won a combined two games last season.

Just how bad has it gotten for Notre Dame?  Navy is listed as a rival on Wikipedia.  Before Weis’ tenure, the Irish managed to rattle off 43 consecutive victories over the Midshipmen.  That streak came to an end in 2007’s triple overtime upset in South Bend.  Navy nearly started a winning streak of their own, but they eventually fell to the Irish in last year’s match up by a score of 27-21.

With a weak schedule and a lot of experienced juniors and seniors, Weis actually has a great opportunity to turn things around this season.  But if he falls short of a BCS bid, there is a very strong possibility that alumni and boosters could turn up the heat, or even take the pan off the stove all together.

It is no secret that many Notre Dame faithful would love to take a second run at Florida coach Urban Meyer, whose 44-9 record overshadows Charlie’s very underwhelming 29-21 mark in the same time span.