BCS National Title Game '11

BCS National Title Game '11
BCS National Championship 1/10/11 Oregon vs Auburn

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012-2013 Big 12 Projections

The Big 12, or Big Ten should I say, lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, but gained TCU of the Mountain West and West Virginia from the Big East. The Big 12 will be a dominate conference yet again this season. From top to bottom the Big 12 is the best conference and looks to have at least three to four contenders fighting for the top spot. The Oklahoma Sooners appear to be the heavy favorite coming into the season, after they did not exceed expectations last season. West Virginia and Texas look to be the other teams to contend with Oklahoma for the Big 12 crown.

Big 12                    W-L                     Analysis

1. Oklahoma           12-0                    As everyone talks about how good Alabama, LSU, USC, and Oregon are the Sooners are back after not coming close to hitting their high expectations from last season. Sr. Quarterback Landry Jones is back for his senior year after passing up on the NFL draft. Oklahoma returns eight starters on an offense that was ranked 5th in the nation in total offense last season. The offense includes potential Heisman candidate Sr. Quarterback Landry Jones and three potential all-Big 12 1st team candidates Jr. Wide Receiver Kenny Stills, Sr. Center Ben Habern, and Jr. Left Guard Gabe Ikard. The defense will be good too, as Head Coach Bob Stoop's brother Mike returns as the Defensive Coordinator. The Sooner's defense returns seven starters and only gave up an average of 22.1 ppg, which was the best in the Big 12 Conference. If Oklahoma can stay healthy, watch for the Sooners to contend for the BCS National Championship in Miami this season. Oklahoma has a very favorable schedule for the most part, but will end the season with three tough games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and TCU. The most important game will obviously be at West Virginia though. This could decide if Oklahoma gets to play in the National Championship or not.

2. Texas                   9-3                      The Horns were still inconstant on offense last year, but showed they were a much improved team from the 2010 season. The defense, of course, was one of the elite defenses in the country last season ranking 11th in the country. The Horns return 15 starters to the line-up and I feel 15 year Head Coach Mack Brown has a chance to make a statement this season in the Big 12. Sophomore David Ash looks to be the clear starter going into the season and he will have So. Wide Receiver Jaxon Shipley to pass to and will hand the ball off to potential all-Big 12 1st team So. Running back Malcolm Brown. On the defensive side of the ball, Texas has the best Defensive End in the country Sr. Alex Okafor to help the Horns contain the explosive offenses of the Big 12. If the Horns offense becomes more consistent this year, watch out they could be dangerous. The Horns will have a tougher schedule with the addition of West Virginia and TCU. I feel the Horns will be 4-1 heading into this Red River Shootout with Oklahoma on Oct. 13th. The Horns will lose one of their games at Oklahoma State (Sept. 29) or at home against West Virginia (Oct. 6). After Texas loses to Oklahoma and is at a 5-2 record, they will win out until the last game of the season when they travel to Kansas State on Dec.1st. The Horns have struggled to beat Kansas State and have not beat them since Vince Young was the starting quarterback back in 2003.

3. West Virginia      9-3                        West Virginia would have been my pick to win the Big East again, but they made the move to a tougher Big 12 Conference. West Virginia is feeling confident though after blowing out ACC Champion Clemson in the Orange Bowl 70-33. The Mountaineers return eight starters on offense, which includes dual threat Sr. Quarterback Geno Smith. Smith could potentially be in the Heisman discussion, and will eventually become West Virginia's all-time career passer this season. West Virginia's explosive offense also includes two top Wide Receivers in the Big 12, Sr. Tavon Austin and Jr. Stedman Bailey, who combined for 20 touchdowns last season. The Mountaineer offense will be explosive once again this season, ranking 1st in the Big East and 15th in the country with 469.5 ypg last season. This type of offense will help the Mountaineers compete in a conference where scoring is everything. On the other side of the ball, the Mountaineer defense returns six starters. The defense struggled at times last season and will need to be able to contain the better competition of the Big 12. The Mountaineer defense ranked 61st last season giving up 26.8 ppg. I feel 2nd year Head Coach Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers will do well, but struggle potentially on the road. West Virginia will fly to Texas two straight weeks in a row and face Texas (Oct. 6) and Texas Tech (Oct.13).  Texas Tech could potentially be a trap game after facing a tough Texas team the week before. I feel West Virginia will take down Kansas State (Oct. 20) and TCU (Nov.3) at home. After those two home games, their season will be defined by games at Oklahoma St. (Nov.10) and at home in a showdown with conference favorite Oklahoma (Nov.17).

4. TCU                    8-4                        TCU, like West Virginia, will be one of the newcomers in the Big 12 Conference. The Horned Frogs though are more familiar with the teams they will be facing in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs return seven starters from last season, which includes Jr. Quarterback Casey Pachall, who did almost everything right last season after having to replace current NFL Quarterback Andy Dalton. Pachall threw for 2,921 yards last season for the Horned Frogs and helped the Horned Frogs average 40.9 ppg. TCU's rushing game will be explosive this year as well, as they return there three main running backs from last season. Jr. Waymon James, Sr. Ed Wesley, and Sr. Matthew Tucker all rushed for over 700 yards and had a combined 24 rushing touchdowns. TCU returns five starters on defense, which includes Jr. Defensive End Stansly Maponga, who had 55 tackles and 9 sacks last season. The defense does not return many starters, but this defense will be strong and able to keep up with the others in the Big 12. TCU will fair well in their first season and will most likely start off the season 7-0. After Baylor on Oct. 13th, the Horned Frogs will face the elite teams of the Big 12. Their last five games include back to back road games at Oklahoma State and at West Virginia. It also includes a home game against Kansas State, an away game at Texas, and a home game against Oklahoma. This is where I feel the Horned Frogs will lose their four games. If TCU comes out of these five games with a record of 2-3, they have succeeded. TCU might want one of these wins to be at Texas, so they can prove that they are indeed the best team in the entire state.

5. Oklahoma State   8-4                        Oklahoma State is coming off of an impressive 12-1 season and a Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford. Head Coach Mike Gundy finally has gotten the program where he wants it to be at. The Oklahoma State Cowboys could potentially compete in the Big 12 Conference again this season. The Cowboys will obviously miss QB Brandon Weeden and stand-out WR Justin Blackmon, who left for the NFL draft early. The offense will only return four starters from last season and will start true Freshman Quarterback Wes Lunt. The positive about the offense though is star Jr. Running back Joseph Randle returns. Randle rushed for a spectacular 1,216 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys will look to establish a more powerful rushing game this season. The Cowboys defense returns eight starters and looks to improve from last season. The Cowboys were one of the worst defenses in the country last season ranking at an awful 107th in total defense and giving up 456.8 ypg. Without the possibility of having an offense that can put up an average of 48.7 ppg, like the Cowboys of last season, it will be harder to win ball games. Leader Sr. Cornerback Brodrick Brown and the defense will need to show they have matured and defend the pass and run much better. The Cowboys will appear to be in the middle of the pack this season and possibly make a run for the second or third spot in the Big 12. The Cowboys will need to prove themselves on Sept. 29th at home against Texas. The three-game span against TCU (Oct. 27) at home, at Kansas State (Nov.3), and at home against West Virginia (Nov.10), will prove if the Cowboys are worthy of being a top team in the conference.

6. Kansas State        8-4                         Last year, Kansas State proved that you don't need to be a great team to go 10-3. The Wildcats came out of nowhere last season with a team that was not supposed to win more than six games. Sr. Quarterback Collin Klein last season was a force to be reckoned with and rushed for 27 touchdowns and passed for 13. If Klein stays healthy this season and the Wildcats can find a way to win 9 games, watch for Klein to be up for Heisman. The Wildcats return eight on offense including Klein,  Jr. Running back John Hubert, Sr. Wide Receiver Chris Harper, and So. Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett. The offense should be better than 101st in the country this season. The defense on the other hand, returns six starters that includes top Big 12 Linebacker Arthur Brown and Cornerback Nigel Malone. Kansas State's defense may have not been the best last season, but when it counted players like Arthur Brown would come through and the Wildcats would find a way to win close games. Last season, Kansas State beat Miami on a last second goal line stand and the Cat defense got to Robert Griffin III and Arthur Brown intercepted a pass to help the Cats defeat Baylor 36-35. The Cat defense also held Missouri, Texas Tech, and Iowa State out of the end zone and won by seven,  defeated Texas A&M in overtime, and then held the Longhorns to 13 points in a 17-13 win in Austin. Kansas State may not hit their 10 game win total from last year, but it will be close. Kansas State will most likely lose at Oklahoma and West Virginia. They will need to find a way to get through the last four games of the season. They need to go at least 3-1 or 2-2 against Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, and Texas to hit eight or nine wins. Coach Bill Snyder will have his boys ready to make a cinderella run yet again.

7. Texas Tech          6-6                        Texas Tech looked to be having a decent season last year. They were 4-2 and were going into a hostile Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The game was delayed a few hours by severe weather. Once the game started Texas Tech took control of the game and stunned Oklahoma and the nation 41-38. Unfortunately, that was the end of the Red Raiders season and they went on to lose the rest of their games. Third year Head Coach Tommy Tubberville needs to get this program back to where it was in 2009 when Mike Leach was there. A plus for the Red Raiders this season is they have 17 returning starters. Sr. Quarterback Seth Doege had good numbers last season and threw for 28 Touchdowns. Texas Tech's offense ended up being 13th in the country in total offense at 470.6 ypg last season. They still seemed to struggle though. The Texas Tech defense, which returns nine starters, was absolutely awful. They ended the year ranked 117th in the country giving up an average of 39.3 ppg. The lowest amount of points Texas Tech's defense gave up last year to a Big 12 team was 31 in a loss at Missouri. The Red Raiders somehow will make a bowl game this season though. They need to start the season off 4-0 beating Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico, and Iowa State. Then they need to make sure they beat Kansas (Nov.10) and win against Baylor (Nov. 24) in Arlington, which is the last game of their season. If they lose one of these games, it is going to be tough for them to hit six wins.

8. Baylor                  6-6                        Baylor finally had a breakout season last year and produced Heisman Trophy Winner Robert Griffin III. Art Briles put Baylor football on the map with a 10-3 record last season. Baylor's offense will clearly not be as explosive without RG3 or Wide Receiver Kendall Wright. It will be up to Sr. Quarterback Nick Florence to lead a Baylor offense that was ranked number two in the country last season. The Bears offense will also have a new addition to the running game Sophomore Lache Seastrunk, who transferred from Oregon prior to the 2011 season. He should help the running game along with Jr. Jarred Salubi, who will have to replace Running back Terrance Ganaway who scored 21 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Florence's main target at the receiver position will be Sr. Terrance Williams, who could potentially have the chance to be on the all-Big 12 team this season if he gets enough touches. Baylor's defense was a completely different story last season. Baylor's defense ranked 116th in the country in total defense giving up an average of 488.5ypg. The good thing for the defense this season is that eight starters return and will not lack the experience they did last season. They will most likely have one of the most improved defenses in the Big 12 this season. The Bears will start the season 3-0 with wins over non-conference foes SMU, Sam Houston State, and a visit to UL-Monroe. After these games, we will find out just how much they will miss RG3, Wright, and Ganaway.  For the Bears to become bowl eligible, they will need to win at home against Iowa State on Oct. 27th, at home against Kansas on Nov. 3rd, and one more conference  game. It could either be another upset over TCU at home like a year ago, or in Arlington against Texas Tech.

9. Iowa State            4-8                          A man by the name of Paul Rhoads gets me every year. I don't know what he says to his players, but the last three years he has gotten his Cyclones to pull off a big upset. In 2009, he went into Lincoln and upset the Huskers 9-7. Everyone remembers the "Im so proud to be your football coach" speech. In 2010, he went into Austin and upset the #22 ranked Texas Longhorns 28-21 and last year the Clones pulled the inevitable and knocked the Oklahoma State Cowboys out of the national championship by upsetting them in overtime 37-31. Every year I pick the Cyclones to win at best three to four games, and I am doing it again.  The Cyclones still have inconsistency at the Quarterback position. It is either Sophomore Jared Barnett or Senior Steele Jantz. I feel Barnett will be named the starter this year though. He took over half way through the season and helped the Cyclones get bowl eligible by defeating Texas Tech, Kansas, and Oklahoma State. Iowa State's offense will need their rushing game to be dominant this season with Quarterbacks Barnett/Jantz and Jr. Running back James White, who had 743 total rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns. The offense may return seven starters, but the defense, who returns five starters, has one of the best linebacking corps in the Big 12. Sr. OLB Jake Knott and Sr. MLB A.J. Klein are both potential all-Big 12 1st team linebackers. Sr. Defensive lineman Jake McDonough also looks to help the Cyclones on the defensive side of the ball. Iowa State must travel to Iowa City and play the Hawkeyes in week two. I feel they will lose, but this is a must win for the Cyclones. If the Cyclones can start off the season 3-1 or 4-0 they have a chance to become bowl eligible for the second straight year. They demolished Texas Tech last year in Lubbock and have a chance to do it again on Sept. 29th. The Cyclones also need to make sure they win at home against Baylor on Oct. 27th and on the road at Kansas on Nov. 17th.

10. Kansas               3-9                         Kansas fired Head Coach Turner Gill after he won only five games in two seasons. Now it is Charlie Weis who will be at the helm of Kansas football. Weis was successful his first two seasons at Notre Dame and then simply disappointed the next three and was eventually fired in 2009. Weis comes into a bad situation where he will completely need to rebuild a program that has suffered since the firing of Mark Mangino in 2009. Weis is fortunate to have 14 returning starters, 7 on offense and 7 on defense, and Notre Dame transfer Sr. Quarterback Dayne Christ. Weis will try to improve the play of an offense that ranked last in scoring in the Big 12 and 106th in ypg in the country last season. The only decent aspect to the Jayhawk offense is Jr. Running back James Sims, who rushed for 727 total yards and 9 touchdowns last season. As bad as the offense was for the Jayhawks, the defense is that much worse. The Jayhawks were ranked dead last in the country last season giving up an average of 43.8 ppg and 516.4 ypg. Georgia Tech last year beat Kansas 66-24 and rolled up 768 total yards on the Jayhawk defense. This is the type of team Charlie Weis is going to have to rebuild. I have the Jayhawks winning one more game than they did last season giving them a total of three wins. The Jayhawks will hopefully beat FCS opponent South Dakota State in the season opener and win against Rice the following week. Their third win will come either on the road against non-conference MAC Champion Northern Illinois or at home against Iowa State on Nov. 17th.

Top Ten (Big 12)

1. Best game of the season: Nov.17th-Oklahoma @ West Virginia
2. Most Valuable to his team: QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
3. Biggest potential upset: Oct. 13th- Texas Tech over West Virginia in Lubbock, TX
4. Best Head Coach: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
5. Biggest surprise team: TCU Horned Frogs
6. Best defense: Texas Longhorns
7. Best Defensive Player: DL Alex Okafor, Texas
8. Biggest disappointment: Kansas Defense
9. Best Quarterback in the clutch: Casey Pachall, TCU Horned Frogs
10. Toughest environment to play in: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Oklahoma Sooners

Sunday, July 8, 2012

College Football GameDay Experience #3 (Columbus)

With only three game day experiences remaining, here are the game day experiences that have been mentioned so far. Iowa City (Iowa Hawkeyes) came in a number ten, Madison (Wisconsin Badgers) at nine, Knoxville (Tennessee Volunteers) at eight, Lincoln (Nebraska Cornhuskers) at seven, Eugene (Oregon Ducks) at six, Gainesville (Florida Gators) at five, and South Bend (Notre Dame Fighting Irish) at four. GameDay Experience number three leads us to what is known as "The Horseshoe." Columbus is a destination that is a must for any college football fan, even if you despise the Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio Stadium is a shrine to college football and is one of the best atmospheres in all of college football.

3. GameDay in Columbus-Ohio State Buckeyes (Ohio Stadium)

The Ohio State Buckeyes struggled last season with the firing of Head Coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes ended up finishing the season 6-7. This year it will be interesting will the hire of Urban Meyer and what he can do with a team that was hit with a one year probation, meaning the Buckeyes will not be able to play in the Big Ten Championship, nor be eligible for a bowl. Overall though, Ohio State has been very successful this past decade. The Buckeyes have appeared in three national championship Games getting their only win in 2002. They have appeared in BCS Bowl Games eight out of the last ten years and have won five Conference Championships. Now onto my experience in Columbus.

"The Horseshoe" 
Before I went to Columbus, I figured it was some dump town in Ohio. That's because as a Michigan football fan that's what you're supposed to believe, but when I finally arrived there and made it to the downtown area it was actually pretty nice. I never really thought Columbus would look like that and that The Ohio State campus would be as big as it was. Downtown was busy Friday night and many places were packed with fans in for the game the next day. The restaurant my dad and I went to is one of those places you need to go if you are there for a football game. It's called Eddie George's Grille 27 and it located on North High Street. It has Eddie George memorabilia hanging all around the restaurant and also has some great food. I had the deep fried cheeseburger, one of the most recommended food items on the menu, it was pretty much amazing. After a wonderful experience Friday night, it was time to get ready for Saturday.

Skull Session in St. John Arena
Our Saturday morning began by attending another segment of ESPN College GameDay. I was wearing a Trojan shirt obviously, I liked Pete Carroll and I never in my life could get myself to where anything Ohio State. The fans bickered back and forth about who cheated more and how Reggie Bush was a cheater. Looked like both fan bases were right. After this season, the Trojans were hit with a two year bowl ban. As we made fun of Maurice Clarett and how he screwed up, I never imagined that the Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who I would be watching that evening, would be the player that caused Jim Tressel to be fired and place the Buckeyes on probation three years later. Funny how these things happen. Anyways, Kirk Herbstreit's kids came up to the GameDay set for the pick and Corso picked the Trojans.

There is a lot to see on the Ohio State campus prior to kickoff. We checked out Value City Arena, home of Ohio State Basketball. We then headed to the Jack Nicklaus Museum, which was about a 15-20 minute walk from the stadium. If you are a golf enthusiast this is the place for you. It is full of memorabilia, with includes items such as trophies, green green jackets, and old golf bags Nicklaus used in the major tournaments he played in. After viewing the Jack Nicklaus Museum, we headed over to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center close by. Unfortunately on game days, the Ohio State hall-of-fame is closed. You can still look from the outside though and see some of the trophies the Buckeyes have won over the years.

Once we made it back to the main campus we checked out Mirror Lake. It's not as pretty as I thought it was going to be, but there is a lot of tradition surrounding the lake. Mirror lake is located on campus and is more like a small pond. The tradition surrounding the lake is that Thursday night prior to the Michigan game, which takes place in late November, students usually get really drunk and jump into the lake with bathing suits on. They have a huge pool party that goes into the early hours of Friday morning. It would be fun to watch. I just don't know if I could get myself to do when it's only 15 degrees outside. After we hung out there for a little bit, we headed to a tailgating area set up for fans and watched football. Then it was time to go check out the Skull Session in Old St. John Arena. This is one of the most important traditions on game day at Ohio State. The Ohio State Marching Band aka "The Best Damn Band in the Land" makes their way into the arena and starts playing. The football team eventually walks in and the coach and maybe a player or two says a few words, then they leave. After they leave the court, the band plays the many songs associated with The Ohio State University. What is interesting about Ohio State is everything is so structured on game day. Everything is done in an orderly fashion, such as the Skull Session.

 Matt Barkley and teammates celebrate after touchdown
It was eventually time to enter "The Shoe." We ended up sitting with many USC fans right behind the USC Marching Band, which was a lot of fun. Pre-game at Ohio Stadium is not like anything else you will ever see in sports. The Band does their tunnel entrance onto the field and begins to play "Fight the Team Across the Field." The Band eventually makes their way to "Script Ohio." This is honestly my favorite tradition in college football. The stadium erupts when the sousaphone player dots the "i". This happened to be the game where the ESPN cameraman got to close to the sousaphone player and the sousaphone player ended up teaching the camera a lesson. Prior to kickoff, Ohio Stadium was as loud as ever. It is also very overwhelming because of how big the stadium is. Throughout the game it was deafening as the Trojans and Buckeyes went back and fourth. "The Horseshoe" is probably the second loudest stadium in the country after Florida. It is quite a scene. Of course, it was probably the quietest stadium in the country after true Freshman Quarterback Matt Barkley led the Trojans down the field with a minute left and shocked the Buckeyes 18-15. I witnessed a record breaking crowd at Ohio Stadium go completely silent. All I can say is... I was a very happy person in Columbus that night. I took it all in and was taking pleasure in the Buckeye fans misery. Those fans were completely stunned, it was great!

Overall, the Columbus experience was amazing. As much as I hate Ohio State, there fans were nothing but nice and they are a university built around class and tradition. The atmosphere at Ohio State is something you just don't get at many other college football stadiums. Everything is also revolved around the Ohio State Marching Band. Buckeye fans love their team and have such a great knowledge of the game. I highly recommend it for any college football fan who loves the history and tradition of college football. I would love to go back there someday and attend another game.

Game Attended in Columbus:

9/12/2009   CFB  USC 18, Ohio State 15   * ESPN College Gameday

ESPN College GameDay
Best sign at College GameDay "Stop World Hunger Stop Feeding Charlie Weiss!"
Mirror Lake 
Script OHIO