CFP #3 Predictions

In about 15 minutes the College Football Playoff Committee is going to release its rankings for the third time this year. Every team in the Top 10 won this week, so I can’t imagine any teams moving up or down. The committee also made two things very clear: Notre Dame will continue to be ahead of Michigan unless ND loses and strength of schedule matters. I still stand by that Michigan is the better team and deserves to be #3. Here is my prediction for this week:

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan
  5. Georgia
  6. Oklahoma
  7. LSU
  8. Washington St
  9. West Virginia
  10. Ohio State

CFP Poll #2 Predictions

The second rankings for the CFP Poll are going to be released tonight. Here are my predictions for the Top 10:

  1. Alabama – They were the #1 team before this week, and all they did was easily beat #3 LSU 29 to 0.
  2. Clemson – The Tigers destroyed Louisville 77 to 16 and had three running backs run over 100 yards each.
  3. Michigan – Yes, I know Notre Dame is undefeated and beat Michigan, but that was the first game of the year. Michigan blew out #14 PSU 42 to 7 and is clearly better than Notre Dame right now. The committee forgives teams for losing a game to an unranked opponent, so why not forgive a loss to a ranked team.
  4. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish beat an unranked Northwestern by 10 points. That’s not impressive.
  5. Georgia – They beat #9 Kentucky, who will fall out of the Top 10, 34 to 17 to take the SEC East.
  6. Oklahoma – They won an offensive shootout over Texas Tech.
  7. Washington St – They beat a Cal team that upset Washington last week.
  8. Ohio State – The Buckeyes scraped by with a five-point victory over Nebraska, who has only two wins. They move up by default because Kentucky and LSU lost.
  9. LSU – I believe they fall this far because the loss to Bama was their second lost of the season. They stay in the Top 10 because they have a strong schedule.
  10. WVU – This is a toss up between WVU and UCF, who was ranked higher last week. -This is where the strength of schedule could really come into play. WVU, or Country Roads as I like to call them, beat #17 Texas by one point. That looks a lot better than coming back to beat unranked Temple by 12 points. UCF’s schedule is their biggest opponent because it is terribly weak.

Making a Statement

Statement Saturday lived up to its name as the playoff picture began to take shape after some important match-ups took place on November 3rd. These games determined the SEC East and West winners, knocked LSU out of the playoffs, made Michigan the clear front runner for the Big Ten, and dismantled Florida’s, Texas’, and Penn State’s seasons.

The biggest takeaway from this past weekend is that Alabama showed they deserve to be the #1 team in the country after having been criticized for their “cupcake” schedule. They routed #3 LSU, whom many believed were back to their former glory, 29 to 0. The so-called “DBU” stood no chance against Bama’s high-powered and talented offense, especially with linebacker Devin White suspended for the first half because of a controversial targeting call that resulted in his ejection in the second half of LSU’s last game. The Tigers desperately needed to win this game to potentially clinch the SEC West and keep their playoff hopes alive, as no two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff. This win for Bama means they’ve clinched the SEC West and will face Georgia, who beat Kentucky to win the SEC East, in the conference championship game.

For once, the biggest event in Kentucky in November wasn’t about horse racing. It was a college football game. Georgia took on Kentucky in the most important football game in Lexington in years. The Wildcats watched their SEC champion hopes disappear as the Bulldogs ran their way to a win. Although Georgia secured the SEC East, Kentucky should be proud of the strides made by their team this year and that they are now both a basketball and football school. Several teams, most notably Florida, Texas, and Penn State, saw their once-promising seasons come to an end as each recorded their third loss. Florida was defeated by unranked Missouri while Texas lost a heart breaker to #13 West Virginia when quarterback Will Grier converted a two-point conversion to take a one-point lead with 16 seconds left. #14 Penn State was blown out by #5 Michigan at The Big House.

The convincing win for Michigan over PSU will propel them into the Top 4 and, possibly, a playoff berth. It means that Michigan holds onto first place in the Big Ten East and controls their own destiny to the Big Ten Championship and CFP. Winning their last three games, especially the last one at Ohio State, means those two goals become a reality, and maybe most importantly, Harbaugh keeps his job.

My Tuesday Take: Oct. 23, 2018

The Big Ten reestablished itself as one of the best conferences in college football over the last few years with strong campaigns in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Four teams finished in the top 10 in 2016 and five in the top 17 in 2017. However, this season has been a disappointment. Five teams were ranked in the top 14, including an overrated Wisconsin from an extremely weak Big Ten West at #4 ahead of Ohio State in the stronger Big Ten East. Now, as Week 9 approaches, only one of those teams is ranked in the top 10. That one team is a surprisingly strong Michigan.

Michigan has only one loss this year, and that was to Notre Dame, who is currently undefeated and ranked as the third best team in the country. The #5 Wolverines are now, most likely, the Big Ten’s last hope to be represented in this year’s College Football Playoff after #2 Ohio State was blown out by an unranked Purdue and dropped to #11. Michigan faces two ranked opponents in their final four games, a struggling and shaky Penn State at home and the #11 Buckeyes in Columbus. They should take care of the #17 Nittany Lions, as well as the always terrible Rutgers and a .500 Indiana. Their only challenge should be “The Game” in Columbus, and they absolutely have to win it because the CFP committee hasn’t put a two-loss team in the top 14 yet. The saying is that “defense travels” and, boy, do the Wolverines have a good defense.* It will give them a good shot at winning their final game.

 

*Michigan State was held to 94 total yards last week. NINETY FOUR!!!! That’s not a typo.

It’s Time to Rank App St.

It’s time to put the Appalachian State Mountaineers in the AP and Coaches’ polls. Actually, it’s way overdue. App St has only lost one game this year, and they took currently number eight Penn State into overtime. It’s also the only time their defense has given up more than nine points. All they’ve done since that one loss on September 1st is steam roll opponents by an average of over 42 points per game.

Some may say their schedule is too weak. I’ll tell those people to look at Alabama’s schedule. Alabama has a weak schedule. In fact, it’s the weakest of the top three teams in the country. It includes a Louisville team that is not the same without former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and The Citadel in the second-to-last week of the season when teams from other conferences will be playing conference games.

Both teams beat Arkansas St. App St won that game by 24 points. The Mountaineers face Louisiana next week and should have no trouble doing exactly what Alabama did when they faced them.

Let me break it down for you. App St quarterback Zac Thomas is the real deal. He will be in the NFL in a couple of years. Thomas, through the first five games of the season, is completing 62.5% of his passes and has thrown for over 1,000 yards. He also has thrown 10 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

I saw Thomas in person against Penn State, and nothing scares him. He will stand in the pocket and make the throw every time. Also, he has the ability to run and gain a chunk of yards if the play breaks down.

App St has one of the best defenses in the entire FBS. This includes the ranked teams. Only three of the top 12 teams give up less yards per game than App St. The Mountaineers are ranked seventh in yards per game. Alabama is way down the list at 25.

Poll committees, it’s time to rank Appalachian State. I don’t care where they end up as long as they’re in the top 25. They’ve earned it. Now, let them keep it.

Final Note: Teams ranked in the top 10 should never play App St on September 1st. Just ask Michigan.

Drew Brees the GOAT?

Everyone talks about Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, or Brett Favre as the greatest quarterback of all time. Brady, Bradshaw, and Montana may have 13 Super Bowl victories between them, but rings aren’t the only thing that defines a great quarterback. Since rings aren’t the only thing, there should be one more name added to this list: Drew Brees.

New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees only needs 201 passing yards to break Peyton Manning’s record, and he could easily pass that mark on Monday night against the Washington Redskins. Along with the fact that he will eventually own this record, he also owns the record for completions (Brady isn’t even close) and completion percentage for a season at 72%. He also has three of the four most accurate passing seasons ever. The man who has more 5,000+ yard passing seasons than anyone else in the history of the NFL has completed almost 76% of his throws this season is on pace for 5,180 yards.

Brees has had the odds stacked against him for most of his career, and he has been able and willing to overcome most of the challenges he’s faced. He is very short for a quarterback at only six feet, and most general managers look for a quarterback that is at least 6’3″. The one-time Super Bowl champion also has had a very poor defense in New Orleans for most of his career. He could easily have two or three rings if the defense was at least average.

Drew Brees at the very least needs to be in consideration for the greatest of all time. He has arguably had the best years of his career as it comes to a close and not even a torn labrum he suffered with San Diego had the ability to slow him down.

Bud Light & Baker

The greatest sports promotion is now over because the Cleveland Browns won on Thursday night. Yes, you read that right.

Tyrod Taylor exited the game against the New York Jets towards the end of the second quarter with a concussion after completing just four of 14 passes for 19 yards. Number one overall pick Baker Mayfield came in and led the Browns down the field to kick a field goal before the half. Newly signed kicker Greg Joseph added another field goal in the third quarter. Later, Carlos Hyde ran in for a touchdown, and the Browns ran their version of the Philly Special to convert the two-point conversion that tied the game. Mayfield’s first taste of the end zone was a catch thrown by lefty receiver Jarvis Landry. Cleveland’s defense held the Jets to a field goal in the fourth quarter, their only score of the second half. Then, Mayfield took the Browns 75 yards down the field to score what would be the game-winning touchdown and the Browns’ first win since Christmas Eve 2016.

The energy drastically changed in FirstEnergy Stadium when the rookie entered the game. The fans gained life, and the players ran to the huddle with a newly found belief and pep in their step. I know the Browns said that they don’t want to play Baker Mayfield at all this year, but they would be stupid not to. Tyrod Taylor is a great guy and good player, but he’s not willing to take the risk of throwing the ball long to Antonio Callaway, and risk is exactly what the Browns need now. The organization that passed on Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz cannot afford to have another guy in the backfield that holds them back. The Browns and GM John Dorsey added Jarvis Landry and Chris Hubbard, as well as solidified their defense this offseason. Their time is now to stop being the joke of the NFL, and the person to lead them is Baker Mayfield. Dilly. Dilly.

My Tuesday Take: Sept. 18, 2018

Dear Pittsburgh Steelers,

You hired Mike Tomlin to be your head coach in 2007 because he was a defensive guy. Well, I have news for you. He stinks at being a head coach. Tomlin inherited a championship team from Bill Cowher. Now, as there is only one player left on the Steelers from Cowher’s reign, Tomlin’s true colors are starting to shine. He got rid of longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and then tried to cover his tracks by hiring and then recently firing offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who should’ve never been hired in the first place.¬†There is too much talent on the offensive side of the ball for one of the most historic franchises in the NFL to not have been in a Super Bowl for eight years.

So how does a defense get this bad for someone who was hired because he was a defensive coordinator for the Vikings? There are two answers to this question. The first is because he thinks Big Ben and Antonio Brown can bail him out. I’m sorry,¬† but Ben should not have to throw 60 passes in a game. No quarterback should. The second is the lack of discipline. James Harrison, who we all see with his insane workout videos, has said himself that there is no discipline whatsoever. Just look at Brown’s frustration on the sideline during the Chiefs game this past weekend. Tomlin came into Pittsburgh as the youngest head coach ever and wanted everyone to like him. He thought that is how he would earn their respect. Respect is earned, not given, and I wonder how many people still respect him when the defense has been their Achilles’ heel since the Super Bowl against Green Bay.

Sincerely,

Your frustrated fans

Is Penn State Becoming DBU?

On September 11, 2018, Joey Porter Jr., son of former Steelers’ linebacker Joey Porter and four-star safety prospect, committed to Penn State. Porter Jr. is the top-ranked player in Pennsylvania for the 2019 class and excites a lot of people with his size at 6’2″. Jr. attended the Nittany Lions beat down of the Pitt Panthers on Saturday, and it must’ve been the deciding factor in what he called a “no-brainer” decision. He also plans on attending Penn State’s annual White Out game against #4 Ohio State on September 29.

Joey Porter Jr.’s commitment begs the question: Is Penn State, the school known as Linebacker U, becoming DBU? Coach James Franklin quickly established himself at PSU with his ability to recruit some of the most talented players around. Franklin is keeping Linebacker U alive with Micah Parsons, who was a five-star prospect a year ago, but the linebackers aren’t the star of the show anymore. Along with Parsons last year, Franklin was able to get defensive backs Lamont Wade and Tariq Castro-Fields. Wade was a five-star recruit and was considered the number one overall player in Pennsylvania. Castro-Fields also held his own as a four-star safety in Maryland.

It may be too early to tell as Wade switched to safety during the offseason, but the fact that PSU’s entire secondary was invited to the combine last year and three of the four players were drafted is a very good sign for Penn State’s future. The Nittany Lions’ defense could be scary good in two or three years, especially if Wade, Castro-Fields, and Porter Jr. live up to the hype.

 

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