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College Football | The Sports Report Girl - Part 3

Preseason College Football Top 25: # 15 LSU

Why They’re Here: Last year, an uninspired offense kept LSU from challenging for the SEC Championship. Well, that and Les Miles blowing it against Ole Miss and costing me $150. This year, Jordan Jefferson and co. are looking to show the Southeastern Conference and the nation that they’re not all defense. Losing RB Charles Scott, WR Brandon LaFell, RB/WR Trindon Holiday and RB Keiland Williams is going to make that a little tough, though. Last year was a rebuilding season for Miles’ team, but in the SEC you don’t really get too many of those, so it’s expected that the Tigers will be back on their game this year.

The Good: It might just be me, but I really think Jordan Jefferson could make a case for the Heisman this year. With Scott gone to the NFL, the offense will really be on his shoulders. If Jefferson can have the kind of season that he’s capable of, the Tigers can compete for a title. My favorite player in all of college football, center T-Bob Hebert (pronounced Tee-Bob A-Bear; I’m not kidding), is still anchoring the offensive line and wide receiver Terrence Toliver is poised to have a big year.

The Bad: Did you see the list of players the Tigers lost on offense? They only return four starters on that side of the ball. And that’s just on offense. They’ll only be returning four starters on defense as well, and defense is the backbone of any LSU team. The benefit of the doubt is generally given to a great defensive mind like Les Miles, but with all the talent he had last year and what he was able to do with it (9-4 and a loss to Penn State in the Capitol One Bowl) maybe Tigers fans should be worried.

The Last Word: This season will come down to two people: Les Miles and Jordan Jefferson. If Miles has recruited the talent to step in and play – and it certainly looks like he did, bringing in a top 10 recruiting class – and Jefferson can play at an elite level, LSU could reclaim some of its past glory. If the freshmen aren’t ready, though, and last year’s backups haven’t done what it takes to prepare themselves for the big stage of SEC football, this could be another rebuilding year and Les Miles’ seat could start getting pretty warm. Fans in Baton Rouge still haven’t forgotten about that Ole Miss game and nothing short of an SEC championship is going to get them to.

Final Record: 10-3

The NCAA Makes Me Sick!

June 10, 2010 by Dion Rabouin  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

Has no one else picked up on the irony of the N-C-Double-Assholes bringing down sanctions on USC for “violations of amateurism” on the exact same day that it announced that multiple schools are leaving their conferences, voiding a number of century-long conference rivalries and competition, to get more money?

Do these people realize how ridiculously hypocritical they’re being? Various outlets are reporting that Colorado and other schools joining the Pac-10 may be getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million a season for coming onboard. That’s about double what they’re getting in the Big XII and that, coupled with Nebraska leaving, essentially spells the end of the conference.

All in the name of the Holy Dollar, an entire conference is being dissolved. The Big XII rivalries of Nebraska versus Colorado and Nebraska versus Oklahoma are dead, and odds are the teams won’t even play anymore. If rumors are true, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M may be headed in separate directions as well. Those are some of the biggest conference rivalries in the history of football. And that’s just where it starts.

The Big East conference may be all but done. We could literally see two conferences fall, reducing the BCS to four conferences. Think about what that will do to the hegemony of the “haves” in college football, who already dominate the “have-nots” with every single advantage imaginable. With all the teams competing with one another in four mammoth conferences – The Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC and ACC (the first couple will probably need to be renamed) – all the dollars and all the BCS attention will be on four conferences and it will be nearly impossible for smaller schools to get a piece of the pie. This also completely redefines how the BCS will have to select bowl game participants and you can bet the small schools won’t be getting any love there either.

What gets me though, is all of these schools are making tens of millions of dollars and nobody is even considering paying the players who make it all happen.

Yeah, they get to go to school for free, but at best that’s worth about $50,000 a year (and most times it’s closer to $15,000 because most players go to some state university). Not to mention, their coaches are making about 10 times that much. And the athletic directors are making even more money.

I am absolutely dumbfounded that these people have the audacity to make a public spectacle of vacating wins and even possibly taking away Reggie Bush’s Heisman for allowing the school to pay for a house for his mother. Are you kidding me? The hypocrisy is truly, truly nauseating.

Preseason College Football Top 25: #16 Oregon

Why They’re Here: Like everyone else, I originally had the Ducks in my top 10 coming into the year. Then QB Jeremiah Massoli got suspended for the season and things changed a bit. Then I heard about the quarterback situation, with Nate Costa and Darron Thomas, and things changed some more. This team is the ultimate unknown coming into this season and just like last year (admittedly a poor decision) I’ve decided to sleep on them.

The Good: There is a ton of good coming into this season for the Ducks. They return their entire offensive line, which is always a big, big bonus, plus a total of nine starters from last year on offense. RB LaMichael James is another (superlative beginning with ‘s’) sophomore, and his running ability – along with the emergence of fellow sophomore speedster Kenjon Barner – will make the Oregon running attack one of the best in the nation. This is a very well coached team and head coach Chip Kelly may even be the best in the Pac-10. If these guys can live up to their potential, the Pac-10 could easily reemerge as one of the top conferences in all of college football. There’s also freshman CB Terrance Mitchell, who put on a show, returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown in the spring game, and the number 13-rated recruiting class in the nation.

The Bad: Replacing Massoli is a lot like replacing Tim Tebow for Florida. So much of the Ducks offensive identity was based on the way Massoli played. He wasn’t an imposing physical presence or a tremendously talented passer, but he made big plays in big situations and his leadership and poise at the quarterback position will be impossible to replace. The Ducks also play at Tennessee, at Arizona State, at Cal, at Oregon State and at USC this season. Last year, all of Oregon’s tough games were played in the Autzen Zoo. The Ducks have one of the best home crowds in the nation and in that environment playing your toughest games at home gives you quite an advantage. Having to go on the road for all of the big games, with a new starting quarterback who wasn’t expected to play this year…not easy.

The Last Word: The Ducks biggest opponent this year is themselves. They have every excuse to let this season slip away and start worrying about next year early. If this team proves not to have what it takes, it won’t take long to show. Don’t be surprised to see a loss at Tennessee on September 11 and even a loss to Arizona State. However, if they can make it to the USC game undefeated, they may just be battle tested enough to pull out the win. Nothing from a 6-6 to 12-0 record would really surprise me for this Oregon team. But if I were a betting man, my money would be on the former.

Final Record: 8-5

Preseason College Football Top 25: #17 TCU

Why They’re Here: Even though they had some big losses on the defensive side of the ball, this is a team that has shown it can reload with the best of them. The offense returns nine starters, including quarterback Andy Dalton who could become a star this year. But even with an almost guaranteed great offense, the Horned Frogs will have their hands full.

The Good: The high-flying Horned Frogs offense will be back and probably better than ever. First team all-conference QB Andy Dalton will again be at the helm and we’ve all seen what he’s capable of. Coming off his AP Coach of the Year win, Gary Patterson seems more determined than ever to get TCU to the next level. The Frogs will also have last year’s loss to Boise State, a game in which they got physically manhandled, to motivate them all offseason.

The Bad: LB Daryl Washington was the heart and soul of not just the TCU defense, but the entire team. Andy Dalton showed he withers under pressure in last year’s Fiesta Bowl and with no Jerry Hughes around either, the Frogs are in desperate need of some leadership. I honestly don’t think there will be another TCU team as good as the team last year – that team was great on offense, defense and special teams. They’ll still be good on offense, but defense and special teams, where the Frogs were able to turn the tables in close games and separate themselves from competition last year, are big question marks.

The Last Word: Has any conference ever come out of nowhere to be legit as quickly as the Mountain West? With Utah, BYU, Air Force and TCU, the Mountain West has really put the rest of the college football world on notice. The MWC has been so impressive the past five seasons that the BCS is considering bringing them into the fold. That’s no small task considering the money-grubbing, conscience-free venture capitalists who run the system. If TCU can find a leader and a stud to replace Washington, they can be very good again. If not…

Final Record: 11-2

Preseason College Football Top 25: #18 Florida State

Why They’re Here: Eh heh heh hee, Bobby’s gone. Apparently, in his absence new coach Jimbo Fisher has been putting in work. The Noles had the 10th best recruiting class according to Rivals and Scout.com and number six, according to ESPN. They lost a lot of talent on defense last year, including LB Dekoda Watson and DBs Myron Rolle and first-round pick Patrick Robinson. I know I said no one from Florida State’s 2009 team deserved to be picked in the first round, but for a Seminole he wasn’t bad.

The Good: As hard as it is to say anything good about Florida State, this is their year. If the Seminoles are ever going to end their six-game losing streak to Florida, this is the time. Christian Ponder looks like a solid quarterback and their offense returns all 11 starters. Last year Gary Danielson remarked at one point during the UF-FSU game, “It’s the varsity versus the JV out there,” and he was completely right. Since Florida beat Florida State in the Chris Leak sweepstakes, the Noles haven’t even been competitive (outside of that 2003 game we won’t speak of). But with the loss of Tim Tebow and almost the entire 2011 senior class to the NFL draft, Florida State is in great position. They’ve also got probably the best offense in the ACC this side of Virginia Tech.

The Bad: It’s hard to replace guys like Watson, Rolle, Robinson, Kendrick Stewart, Kevin McNeil and Korey Mangum. The Florida State defense is probably going to have to start some of the freshmen from its stellar class this year and whether or not they’re ready to make the leap to the college level will determine how far the Noles will go this season.

The Last Word: The ACC is back and Florida State is one of the teams leading the way. If Christian Ponder can play like the conference’s MVP, this is a team that can go places. This season is on his shoulders. He’ll have his whole offense from last year back, but everyone will be looking to him to lead. From what I’ve seen, I don’t know that he’s up to it, but we’ll see.

Final Record: 11-3

Preseason College Football Top 25: #19 Auburn

Why They’re Here: Former Gator and 6’6 250 lb QB Cam “Lootin” Newton. Not only is he a physical monster, he’s got 4.5 speed. Just imagine for a second a 6’6 250 lb quarterback running at you with that kind of velocity. I call him “Lootin” Newton because he got kicked out of Florida for stealing another student’s laptop and then throwing it out a window when police came to ask him about it. Obviously, the young man is a mental juggernaut as well.

The Good: If you don’t know about “Lootin” Newton, check this video out (http://bit.ly/8vb6Q8). He single-handedly makes Auburn a threat this year. I have my doubts about coach Gene Chizik, but getting Newton, a player a lot of people (myself included) thought was a lock to Tennessee, is quite a coup. The Tigers also had the number four recruiting class in the country, according to Rivals and ESPN, which is huge. I may have to rethink my stance on Chizik. Also, they got rid of Chris Todd who was a bonafide scrub. AND WHEN YOU GET RID OF NOTHING AND YOU GET SOMETHING, YOU DIDN’T GIVE UP TOO MUCH!! Sorry, I was channeling Steven A. Smith again. The Tigers also get to play Georgia and LSU, their two toughest games not called The Iron Bowl, at home this season

The Bad: Ben Tate is a big loss for the running game. Mario Fannin will step in, but I don’t see the Tigers running game being on par with where it was last year. Also, the Tigers are attempting to run the spread offense with Kodi Burns listed as their number two receiver. Not that Burns is a terrible player, but he’s a quarterback. He was recruited as a quarterback and stepped in behind the center when Todd wasn’t capable of rolling five steps to his right to make a pass. A big, fast QB will take you a long way, but without the speed and talent around him to pull it off, the spread ain’t happenin. Also, there’s that Iron Bowl game at Alabama.

The Last Word: With a quarterback like “Lootin” Newton there’s always the potential that he’ll get caught trying to rob a convenience store (because he didn’t wear a mask and didn’t realize no one is going to miss the football team’s 6’6 250 lb quarterback on tape) and get kicked off the team. Newton is like LeGarrette Blount; he’s a hoe and you can’t make a hoe a housewife. If Newton can keep his nose clean and in his playbook, however, he could be one of the biggest names in college football. If he can’t, the Tigers season may be hinged on Kodi Burns…no, seriously.

Final Record: 8-5

Preseason College Football Top 25: #20 Penn State

Why They’re Here: Evan Royster is back, Joe Pa is still there and, well, they’re Penn State. All of those things could be either good or a bad. Royster is a stud and should be a first round draft pick next year, but putting too much of the burden on his shoulders could make Penn State one dimensional and against Big (11, maybe 12 next year) Ten defenses, that’s not going to cut it.

The Good: I love Evan Royster. He’s been one of my favorite running backs in college football for the past three years. Now that Jahvid Best and Toby “White Power” Gerhart are playing on Sundays, he’s probably my favorite. He’s got a big, powerful, Big (11, maybe 12 next year) Ten O-line to run behind and should be a force in the conference, and the nation, this year. They lost a lot of talent on defense, but I can’t imagine Linebacker U not reloading on linebackers, can you? Hopefully Joe Pa won’t have to answer questions every week about if and when he’ll retire, which should ease his role as a figurehead/marketing gimmick masquerading as a coach. Reporters should really just accept that Paterno is going to coach until he dies. Literally. His performance over the past few seasons has pretty much earned him a lifetime contract, so don’t be surprised if Paterno dies midseason in 2013.

The Bad: I don’t think Joe Pa has actually done any coaching in about 10 years. In that time they’ve played for a couple conference championships, made the BCS and were even in competition for the national championship game two years ago. So whoever’s actually been coaching the team is doing a pretty solid job. The Nittany Lions’ greatest challenge will be at QB. Judging from their spring game, they don’t have a guy who will make Penn Staters forget Daryll Clark anytime soon. The receiving corps is also a question mark. Last year, Clark would make plays for the offense in spite of his receivers. This year, there’s nobody that’s going to step up and do that for them.

The Last Word: If the Lions have to start giving Royster the ball 35 times a game, they’re in trouble. With Ohio State, Iowa and a resurgent Michigan looming, Penn State cannot afford to be subpar at quarterback. There’s no sign that they’ll be anything but. However, if their defense can bounce back and the running game can open up enough holes in the secondary, this team could be pretty good. I’ve got 50 bucks on them losing to Alabama in the second game of the season. That game will be their measuring stick, in the conference and in the nation. If they get destroyed, they’re basically done – Iowa and Ohio State are too good – but if they can keep it close or even cost me 50 green backs, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Final Record: 8-5

Preseason College Football Top 25: # 21 Houston

Why They’re Here: In addition to throwing machine QB Case Keenum, the Cougars are bringing back a total of nine starters on offense. Keenum is obviously the key, but only losing two guys from a unit that routinely put up 400 yards a game will get you a long way. There are questions about the defense, but overall this could be the year a team from Conference-USA challenges for a shot at the national championship.

The Good: Case Keenum is back. He’s got his receivers back and a running back corps that could be one of the deepest in the nation. Unlike some college coaches who like to pretend they care about running the ball, coach Kevin Sumlin is content to air it out all day, every day. Keenum is obviously in the conversation for this year’s Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, but will it be enough? The Cougars are bringing back three all-conference receivers to help Keenum out, so it just might be. Andre Ware better watch himself.

The Bad: The defense is awful. It’s atrocious. It’s abominable. Jim Brown could put on his pads right now and probably run for a buck fifty on these guys. If Steven A. Smith covered college football, he would call these guys a group of bonafide scrubs. They only return five starters, and if the guys behind the six who aren’t coming back couldn’t get on the field last year…man. The D ranked 112th in the nation last year and were dead last in C-USA, a conference not really known for its defense. Thankfully, they don’t play any rushing juggernauts, but trips to UCLA and Southern Miss could prove to be too much for Houston’s defense to tackle (literally and figuratively).

The Last Word: This is a team that lives and dies by scoring points. Their game against Air Force in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl exposed their total ineptitude at stopping the run, which is why they lost. They won’t see the triple option or anything like it this year, but any back with talent and some size will be trouble. As long as the defense can create turnovers and the offense can score 40 a game, the dubs (Ws) will keep going up. But it’s tough to win consistently when those are the requirements.

Final Record: 10-3

Lane Kiffin: USC’s 4 Million Dollar Man!

May 19, 2010 by SRG  
Filed under College Football, Football, SRG's Blog

I was as flabbergasted as the rest of you when I read about the money Lane Kiffin makes as the new head football coach at USC. But apparently its true the Men of Troy are paying Lane four million dollars a year to coach the Trojans. Which begs the question, what are they going to pay him when (and if) he actually wins something?

Preseason College Football Top 25: #22 Cincinnati

Why They’re Here: Zach Collaros showed everyone last year that he could step in for Tony Pike without missing a beat. The Bearcats know that they’ve got a quarterback that can play and in college football, that’s 90 percent of the battle. But the other 10 percent of the battle can be the difference between a bowl in January and a bowl in December. The Bearcats lost a lot of talent this offseason and assembling a team that can produce for Collaros is going to be tough.

The Good: With a solid quarterback in place, it’s easy for a team to come together. This team also has something to prove after the beating they suffered at the hands of Tim Tebow and the Gators in the Sugar Bowl. The Bearcats also return eight starters on offense, including a lot of key skill position guys. The offense should be firing on all cylinders when the season opens up against Fresno State. Let’s not forget that this is a team that went 12-0 in the regular season last year.

The Bad: Too many loses. In addition to Tony Pike, the Bearcats lost WR Mardy Gilyard, C Chris Jurek and most importantly head coach Brian Kelly. They also lost LB Demetrius Jones for the season because of academic trouble. The defense is only bringing back five starters and they weren’t exactly intimidating last year. The Bearcats and the entire Big East lost a lot of respect when Florida steamrolled them in the Sugar Bowl and they’re going to have to put together some impressive victories to get the voters to respect them in December. It’ll start on September 25 against Oklahoma.

The Last Word: If their defense can stop West Virginia and Pitt’s rushing attacks, they could legitimately win the Big East again. If Collaros can be exceptional – I’m talking Heisman exceptional – the Bearcats really have a shot at challenging for a BCS spot. . I don’t know that I see either of those things happening, but if they do watch out.

Final Record: 9-4

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