MIDWEST ANARCHY

Pitt, Iowa, Duke, Southern California, Ole Miss, Georgia add exclamation points and discredit pollsters.

Leave it to college football to cap off a week of stunning upsets. #2 Clemson, #3 Michigan and #4 Washington are reeling after losing to conference opponents.

“We didn’t make enough plays to extend drives, and convert first downs,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said as reported by Land of 10. “Close, but we just … give Iowa credit. The tackled, they blocked, they played a very good football game. … We’ve got to move on.”

Harbaugh sentiments are felt by coaches around the country. Definitely those coaches who teams were predicted to win. However, games are not decided by projection algorithms. Games are won because of the execution of the players on the field.

It was only a matter of time before these upsets happened. Fortunately for college football fans, players can’t be counted on. Coaches try to isolate players so they can focus on the goal of winning. This past weekend showed that the players finally got caught up in foregone conclusions.

Clemson, a preseason favorite to make the playoffs struggled all year to show the potential fans assumed they possessed. Clemson players bought into the hype that quarterback Deshaun Watson could always rescue them when the games got close. The Pitt Panther’s proved them wrong with a last second field goal.

“We had a chance to put the game away and they stopped us,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said as reported by the Charlotte Observer. “We had been making those kinds of plays this year.”

#4 Washington may have suffered the most defining upset. Unlike Michigan and Clemson who lost by a point, Washington loss by 13.
Washington started the game against USC with an interception followed by a field goal, to take a three point lead. Their lead lasted 14:59 seconds. USC tied the game with a field goal of their own. After that, Washington never stepped up and make big plays to retake the lead. Consequently they were losing when the horn sounded to end the game.
Like Michigan, Washington benefited from playing a easy schedule of opponents. Those teams did not test Michigan or Washington’s ability to overcome adversity.
Michigan and Washington proved to be frauds on Saturday. Their basic game plans of lining up and knocking their opponents could never be sustained against tougher competition. Harbaugh and Washington coach Gary Peterson, were never prepared to make the necessary adjustments to combat their clever foes this weekend. They had in fact assumed that their opponents would shrink to perception that they were unbeatable .
“A wonderful football team that won’t be denied,” said coach Clay Helton about his team according to the L.A. Times.
“We know the season didn’t start how we wanted,” Adoree Jackson said. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Only two teams remain unbeaten, Alabama and Western Michigan. The rest of college football is in a major tailspin after this weekend.
Louisville is currently ahead of Clemson in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Washington is now second place in the Pac 12 Northern Division behind Washington State. Michigan still sits in first place of the Big 10 East Division, but another loss would elevate Penn State to the top spot.
The best part about all of this, these team must face each other in a couple of weeks. Even better, bitter rivals  such as Kentucky, Ohio State and Auburn have a chance to create even more chaos.
College football fans are in for a wild conclusion to the 2016 season.

Who to trust?

Believe in momentum and no team in the entire country has more momentum than Louisville. The Cardinals are being led by the Heisman front runner and a coach who has nothing to lose.

Booby Petrino has payed a price for his actions over his career. But he seems to benefit from coaching as if everyday could be his last.

Lamar Jackson, Pertrino’s star quarterback has a lean build. Yet Pertino has not been deterred to call for his best player to run the ball. Jackson is the nations leader in running touchdowns. Even though he did not rush for a touchdown during the victory Saturday against Wake Forest, Jackson did rush the ball 22 times for 153 yards.

Pay attention, 2016 is the year of the Cardinal. It’s time for fans to buy in now and believe in Jackson and Petrino. Don’t be shocked if Petrino is handed the National Championship Trophy in early January.

What a great story it would be if Louisville, Kentucky, home of Muhammad Ali, shakes up the world.

Avoid Being Blindsided, Heisman Race Isn’t Over

Not so fast Lamar Jackson, history sets precedent for Heisman upset. 

Let’s be clear, Louisville Cardinals quarterback Lamar Jackson is the rightful owner of the 2016 Heisman trophy.  Jackson has accounted for 45 touchdowns and there’s at least three game remaining for Jackson to play.

Jackson has passed for 26 touchdowns and 2,753 yards and rushed for 19 touchdowns and 1,181 yards. Jackson ranks first in the nation in rushing touchdowns and fifth in rushing yards.

Statistics alone doesn’t decide who brings the trophy home. Heisman candidates also need to win a lot of games and produce spectacular plays in games. Jackson has both on his Heisman resume.

The Cardinals are 8-1, the lone loss coming against the undefeated Clemson Tigers. As for spectacular plays, Jackson has produced them liberally.

While playing Syracuse on Sept. 9, Jackson hurdled a defensive back  on his way to a rushing touchdown. During the stomping of Florida State, Jackson showed off his speed when he knifed through the Seminole defense for a 47-yard touchdown. As he reached the end zone he spun between to defenders and held the ball out away from his body with one hand, providing Cards fans with a memory they won’t soon forget.

Jackson should already have his name on the plaque for this years trophy. However the Heisman trophy is not an award that is handed out, it’s voted on.  Voters, especially Heisman voters, have a history of voting for the wrong candidate. Even when the choice seems clear cut.

Last Years Debacle

Last year, Alabama running back Derrick Henry won the Heisman trophy. Henry was arguably the best player on the team that would win the National Championship. Before he won the trophy, Henry rushed for 1,896 yards and 23 touchdowns. When the Tide played their toughest competition, Henry had best rushing performances. Any other year, Henry would have been the rightful winner. It was not any other year.

Christian McCaffrey was the most dominant player in 2015. McCaffrey scored 15 touchdowns before the Heisman ceremony. McCaffrey rushed for eight, caught four, scored another on a kick return and passed for two. McCaffrey racked up 3,496 yards from scrimmage, numbers that resembled Barry Sanders when he won the trophy.

Unlike Sanders, McCaffrey received nothing for his record breaking year. Not the Heisman, the Walter Camp or the Doak Walker. All those awards are supposed to be handed to the nations best player, which McCaffrey was.

West Coast Bias was the main reason McCaffrey lost the Heisman race. None of the voters stayed up late to watch the games McCaffrey played in. Most of the voters live on the east coast and the west coast games start at 10:oo pm on the east coast.

McCaffrey however, is not the first player to be jilted by the Downtown Athletic Club.

Should Be Winners

604px-Darren_McFadden.jpgDarren McFadden McFadden holds the distinction as being the only man to finish second in Heisman balloting for two consecutive years. In 2006, he finished behind Troy Smith and the following year to Tim Tebow.

In 2007, McFadden finished second it was because of Tebow’s popularity, not Tebow’s on-field achievements.

Yes, Tebow scored 55 touchdowns in ’07. Tebow made a strong case to take home the Heisman. But his team did not live up to expectations and he was the main reason why.

McFadden had a tremendous ’07 season. He rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns. He tossed four touchdowns passes and hauled in a touchdown reception800px-tebow. McFadden was the best running back on the Razorbacks, despite the presence of All-American Felix Jones. McFadden was also the best quarterback on his team.

McFadden led his team to a win over the eventual National Champions LSU Tigers, in Baton Rouge.

Tebow, a quarterback with a team stacked with future NFL players, lost to LSU in Gainesville, Florida.

 

Larry Fitzgerald, Darren Sproles Jason White should not have won the 2003 Heisman. He was not the best player on his team, not to mention the entire country.

White played for the Oklahoma Sooners  and passed for 40 touchdowns in 2003. White played in a offense that allowed him to put up great stats.

jwhiteWhite’s success was just a mirage and his winning of the Heisman is still controversial. It was obvious at the time, White benefited from playing on a great team.

White Heisman wasn’t the only controversy the Sooners benefited from in 2003. After losing to Darren Sproles and the Kansas State Wildcats 35-7, in the Big 12 Championship game, the BCS computers ranked Oklahoma number one. Placing the Sooners in the National Champions vs LSU. A game the Sooners lost.

Fitzgerald or Sproles should have won the ’03 Heisman. Both made spectacular plays and played on winning teams.

Michael Vick, Drew Brees, Peter Warrick  The Heisman is supposed to be awarded to the most outstanding college football player in America. In 1999, Ron Dayne did not fit this description. Virginia Tech’s Vick,  Purdue’s Brees, and FSU’s Warrick were all better players then Dayne.

Watch this Warrick highlight reel. Warrick’s saucy moves in the open field rendered tacklers efforts futile. His FSU team played won National Championship that year and never lost a game. Warrick was also far more entertaining to watch then Dayne.

Speaking of entertaining, how about Vick. Long before he packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Vick was a must see attraction Blacksburg, Virginia. Vick’s open field running, combined with the cannon described as his left arm put on a show every Saturday. He led the Hookies to the National Championship game with an undefeated record.

Brees was the best player in the Big Ten. Brees and Purdue did lose to Dayne at home in ’99. Brees was playing on a team that was far less talented then one a quarterback of his talents deserved. Brees led a passing attack that carved up secondaries all season.

Losing to Dayne was one thing, but none of these guys took second place. Joe Hamilton from Georgia Tech did. Voters got both slots wrong on the ’99 ballot.

Dark Horses

University_of_Washington_Block_W_logo_RGB_brand_colors.SVG.pngJake Browning Washington QB Browning has been steady all year. If Louisville loses again he has a shot. Browning has tossed 34 touchdown passes and has a 67.7 completion percentage. A gaudy performance in the PAC 12 Championship game could swing voters late in the process.

Michigan_Wolverines_logo.svg.pngJabrill Peppers Michigan Weapon A few things need to happen for the countries most versatile player too take home the Heisman. First, Louisville loses bad. Second, Michigan continues to dominate opponents. Third and probably most important, Peppers needs a punt return for a touchdown against Ohio State. Michigan legends Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson, returned punts for touchdowns against Ohio State the year they won the Heisman.

Deshaun_Watson_2016.jpgClemson_University_Tiger_Paw_logo.svg.pngDeShaun Watson Clemson QB Watson may not have a chance at winning but could play the role of spoiler, like a third party candidate. Clemson and Louisville play in the same division of the ACC. As long as Clemson keeps winning, Louisville won’t be playing on conference championship weekend.  A terrific performance by Watson might be able to split the voters in the south and east coast. The argument could be made that Jackson season while memorable, was inconsequential.

CrimsonTideAlogo.pngJalen Hurts Alabama QB Keep an eye open for a late surge in his campaign. Hurts leads the best college football team in the nation right now. Only a freshman and Hurts commanded the Alabama’s offense like a senior. This past weekends clutch performance against LSU definitely  raised eyebrows. Hurts has played tougher competition than Jackson all season. Don’t be surprised to see Hurts name climb the ballot.

 

 

 

 

 

Plant Your Flag: College Football Statement Weekend

Serious conference championship chasers could suffer a major upset soon if they don’t handle business against this weekends opponents.

It’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. This weekend in college football is all about the teams who are looking to acquire the momentum needed to win a conference championship.

Right around Halloween time, a lull begins to hover over college football players. To be fair, most people in the United States experience the same lull. This time of year in the American experience, with the new school year energy worn off and people settled into their new responsibilities at work  and new life style, life seems stale. Right now, Americans are looking toward the holiday season and making plans.

When people especially college football players, look ahead instead of focusing on the task in front of them, disaster strikes.

This weekend as well as next weekend, fans will get to see which teams around the country are focused. The teams that are focused will be playing in conference championship’s games, a month from now.

So the point is, really good teams are on upset alert this weekend. Here is who needs to stay focused or pay dearly.

Michigan (7-0)

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The Wolverines will travel face their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans. After the heartbreaking loss the Wolverines suffered last year, one might assumed they are extra focused to avenge last years failure. The Spartans are underdogs to the Wolverines for Saturday’s game. MSU has a 0-4 record this year when playing Big Ten opponents. Michigan might be overlooking their opponent expecting an easy win. Nothing would make the Spartans happier than to beat the Wolverines and ruin the historic season they are having. Look out!

Nebraska (7-0)

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Oh you didn’t know?! The Cornhuskers are undefeated. However, the only marquee win on the Huskers schedule so far is against Oregon, a game the Huskers won at home. Saturday they travel to Camp Randell Stadium in Wisconsin to battle the Badgers. The Badgers started off the season strong, but have lost two out of their last three games. What better way for the Badgers to get back on track then to defeat a undefeated team? This could produce some big momentum for the Badgers to run the table the rest of the way. If they can win out, the Badgers will be in a major bowl game in late December. What does that mean? About $14 million for the university.

West Virginia (6-0)

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The Mountaineers are facing the toughest test of the season this year, and it’s a underrated Oklahoma State team. Don’t get blindsided by the Cowboys and receiver James Washington. Washington is a deep threat who should expect to hear his name in the first round of the NFL draft, whenever he enters. Coach Mike Gundy is looking to save his job this weekend as well. Even though his teams record is 5-2, the team suffered losses to Central Michigan (albeit controversial) and Baylor (undefeated), which is below expectations for a group of players this versatile. Gundy is looking for a big win to prove why he is the man that can get his team over the hump and win the Big 12 championship. This game will resemble a brawl.

Clemson  (7-0)

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No one is more at risk of losing Saturday than the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers take on talent laden yet erratic Florida State. Clemson hasn’t performed like the dominant team that played for a national championship at the end of last year. Florida State’s defense has been awful this year, but a prime-time game against Clemson could bring together this FSU bunch to focus on a common enemy. Clemson better be ready for a bloody fight.

Drinking can’t help College Football Depression

 

There was a time, I could drink my cares away
And drown out all of the heartaches
That hurt me night and day
When the thought of you came crashing through
I’d have one more
But now the whiskey ain’t workin’ anymore- Travis Tritt

Thank you Travis, I couldn’t say it better myself. Last week was a tough week for me after watching college football. Depression bombarded me like an exuberant dog licking my face. It was so awful, only now I can summon the strength to to express my displeasure with the state of major college football.

I started to feel the need for some alcohol when the University of Houston lost a tough match-up to Navy. A triple option team like Navy is always a tripping point for most college football teams. It is so rare to see a traditional triple option attack in today’s pass dominant college football game. Yet the better teams in the country routinely pass that test and Houston could not.

Navy won 46 to 40, which might be the most disappointing aspect to this story. Houston gave up 46 points and three pass completions for two touchdowns in the loss. Their defense did not show up and certainly I believed it was much better than that.

Houston has virtually no shot at getting in to the playoffs now. Even if they were to defeat Louisville, even as a one loss team they wont overtake a big five conference team in the rankings.

Right now I see Ohio State, Clemson, Washington and Alabama as the playoffs teams. Don’t forget Baylor is undefeated. Houston would need a lot of things to change starting this weekend.

Whiskey would not have been a good enough remedy for the agony I felt when Texas lost to Oklahoma. After the game Charlie Strong was given the dreaded vote of confidence by school Athletic Director Mike Perrin.

“I support Charlie Strong. He’s my coach. He’s a friend. I respect him as a man,” Perrin said Friday, meeting with a small group of reporters in Dallas.

A vote of confidence usually leads to a coach being fired at the end of the year and Strong deserves it. It just hasn’t worked for him at Texas. He has not assembled good enough players or a  coaching staff. Strong has not delivered on expectations. Certainly his tenure at Texas should not be considered a failure but it will be remembered as a disappointment.

Adding insult to injury, my Hurricanes from Miami lost to Florida State. The Seminoles blocked a Canes extra point attempt to win 20-19 in a victory over their arch rivals.

It wasn’t enough that I wasn’t getting the chaos that I was praying for in college football but I had to be reminded of the irrelevancy of the Canes. Miami used to be home of the greatest college football program ever and now they are a footnote on the road to the national championship.

It wasn’t a good weekend for me and now all I have to look forward to is rivalry week. At least there is a last opportunity for all hell to break loose. Until then I’m going too need a few shots and a fifth. Hopefully it starts working.

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College Football Week 1: Takeaways

9/6/16

Very few things live up to the hype the way week 1 of the 2016 college football season did. Underdogs pulled off monster upsets, the number one team in the country looked dominate, and there was even an historic comeback featuring two ranked teams. What more could you ask for? Many fans are a bit cautious about this week in college football, using cliche’s like, “week 1 doesn’t matter” . Correction, the first game doesn’t carry the same weight for every team. To some teams, week 1 was extremely important.

For the University of Houston a week 1 victory against Oklahoma was huge. A team like Clemson or Alabama however,  a week 1 victory against Auburn and USC meant little. Regardless the most important result from week 1 is, did your team win?

Some fans and critics of University of Tennessee, are panicking because of the overtime victory against Appalachian State.  The reason is, a lot of fans believe that Tennessee has an opportunity to win the SEC east this year, but an overtime victory against an FCS school doesn’t make that prediction sound plausible. Vols fans should stop panicking though, the team won and that’s what matters most. Mississippi State lost to South Alabama on a last second field goal miss. Fans in Knoxville should be much happier than the fans in Starksville. They probably are.

The point is, stop panicking if your team lost, but if your team did win; rejoice! With that being said, these are the biggest winners and losers from week 1 in college football.

WINNERS 

University of Houston- I will not be humble about this, I believed Houston had a real shot a being a Cinderella, and they came through. Not just beating Oklahoma, but doing it in a dominant fashion. Going into the game I thought the game would be close, I believed the Cougars defense would have trouble containing the Sooners running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Perine got hurt early, and Mixon made some explosive plays, but the Cougars defense adjusted and shut that offense down. Houston really gave itself a shot to get into the College Football Playoff, but that is still a long way from happening. Houston needs the Oklahoma to win in this binary scenario, win the Big 12 and defeat Ohio State on Sept. 17th.  Without both of these, Houston won’t get in. The Playoff Committee was designed to make sure the NCAA makes the most amount of money it can, and the size of Houston’s fan base doesn’t help that cause. Not to mention, Houston is essentially playing a two game schedule. Oklahoma and Louisville are the only tough teams on their schedule. So they need those teams to win as many games as possible, to help Houston’s resume. Obviously Houston must go undefeated as well to make the Playoff.

Texas- Big win for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns. Texas not only saw a return to national prominence, but also home field advantage. It’s been a long time since DKR stadium sounded the way it did Sunday night. Texas used to be a place opponents feared to come to because of the noise, and just maybe that weapon is back for good. Beating Notre Dame was important, and it has put the rest of the Big 12 on notice.

Toledo- Yes Toledo! Toledo destroyed Arkansas State 31-10. Now neither of these are going to be in the national conversation for the playoffs, and neither team will have the opportunity to upset a potential playoff team. With that being said, what a win for Toledo. Arkansas State is a good program, and will likely repeat as Sun Belt conference champions at the of the season, and Rockets just beat them down in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

LOSERS

LSU- Les Miles should have lost his job last season. Not because he can’t coach, but because of his loyalty to Cam Cameron. Cameron is the offensive coordinator of the Tigers and has been a disaster since he stepped on campus. If I’m the Athletic Director at LSU, I am getting rid of Cameron. He can’t continue to call plays for a team this talented. It is not all Quarterback Brandon Harris fault the offense is not putting up the points a team with this many weapons should. Cameron’s play-calling has been predictable, boring, and unimaginative. He has got to go! This is the same man who was the Head Coach of the 2007 Miami Dolphins that started 0-13. His claim to fame is being the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Charges who had Ladainian Tomlinson. In 2006, Tomlinson rushed for an NFL record 28 touchdowns. After that Cameron ruined the Dolphins. Then got the coordinator job with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008, where he was often criticized for his play-calling before he was fired. The Ravens went on to win the Superbowl the year after they dumped Cameron. Since he has been the coordinator at LSU, where they have had talented players on offense that include; Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, La’el Collins, Jeremy Hill. These are not just college stars, they are NFL starters. Cameron had these players at his disposal and has been about as creative as a grey jacket. Cameron continues to be a complete disaster for a coach who one-time coached the number one scoring offense in the NFL. Since he has been at LSU the offense has ranked (23rd, 5th and 57th) an average of 28th in the country. To be fair, the three years prior LSU was (46th, 17th, 59th) ranked an average of 40th in the country. So he has improved the offense, but not up to the expectations a reasonable observer would expect. Maybe it’s time for both to go.

Ole Miss- The Rebels came apart like the pants on cheap suit Monday night. After taking a 28 to 3 lead, Florida State scored 33 unanswered points. Hugh Freese and Chad Kelly are going to be thinking about that one for a while. With a lead, Kelly committed four turnovers, the only four of the game. Meanwhile the Rebel defense must have thought FSU would quit, because there was a clear lack of effort after gaining the big lead. Freese deserve a lot of blame for this loss, and its because they didn’t adjust to playing with the advantage on the scoreboard. The final time of possession for Ole Miss was 17 minutes and 21 seconds, compared to Florida States 42 minutes and 39 seconds. Ole Miss outscored the Seminoles for the first 26 minutes of the game. In 6 minutes and 11 seconds later, FSU was leading 29-28. Unbelievable.

UCLA- It’s not the end of the world for the Bruins, but that loss was bad. The PAC 12 is up for grabs this year and losing to Texas A&M doesn’t change that. However, to only score 24 points on a defense that has been as bad as A&M in recent history, has to be a red flag. Not only did they fail to put up points, but the Aggie’s looked like superior athletes at times. That was not a good look for UCLA.