Sully's Big Blog! Commentary on College Football, Weekly Games, And Strange Statistics!

C-USA vs FCS, GF & PC

Conference -USA consists of 2 divisions, East & West, the East Division has seven teams (Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Western Kentucky, University of Alabama @ Birmingham, & Old Dominion) while the West has six (North Texas, Rice, University of Texas San Antonio or UTSA, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss, & University of Texas @ El Paso or UTEP,). UNC Charlotte will join the league in 2015 bringing the total number of teams to 14, seven in each of its divisions!

C-USA will take on 22 Power Conference (PC) opponents in 2014, 18 of these games will be played on the road while 4 will be decided in C-USA arenas. The league will play the ACC 3 times, the B-12 in 5 contests, the B-10 in 4 tilts, the PAC 12 in one, the SEC 8 dates & ND once! The PC teams traveling to C-USA stadiums are: Arkansas to UTSA, Pitt & Louisville travel to Florida International (FIU), & Texas Tech comes to UTEP’s Sun Bowl Stadium. None of the 22 contests are being played at neutral sites!

C-USA plays an 8 game conference schedule, leaving 4 games for each of the 13 teams to schedule non-conference opponents, for a total of 52 NC games ( 4 X 13, the # of teams in C-USA). The league has elected to play 22 Power Conference teams, 9 FCS squads, leaving 21 dates vs their colleagues in the Group of Five (GF). C-USA challenges the AAC on 4 occasions; the MAC 5 times ; the MWC in 4 meetings; the SBC 4 games; & Independents in 4 contests (BYU, Navy & Army twice). The home / away balance breaks down as follows: the conference plays 12 games @ home & 9 on the road vs the Group of Five (the 5 conferences are: AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, & SBC) … also included in this count are 3 Independents (Army, BYU, & Navy).

All 9 battles with the FCS are in C-USA Arenas, I really do not recall when an FBS program has traveled to a FCS stadium. The reason is economics, the FCS program gets a payday to travel the the house of a FBS team. They (FCS) typically “take one on the chin” for the betterment of their entire athletic department’s funding! Some of these pay outs can be @ a half million dollars (that’s right, $500,000.00) when they schedule a team from a PC! This year (2014) C-USA has invited the following Football Championship Subdivision conferences to their respective houses; CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) once; MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) three times; SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) twice; NEC (Northeastern Conference) once; SLC (Southland Conference) twice!

C-USA has to travel to PC stadiums for 82% of their games with a division (Group of Five vs Power Conferences .. neither of these classification is a NCAA designation) within a division (FBS as recognized by NCAA category). In other words, C-USA plays 18% of their PC games on their home fields or less than 1 in 5! When lining up against other GF’s, they play slightly more than half @ home (12 0f 21), 57.14% to be exact.  Compared to the AAC (21 PC games, 14 GF contests, & 9 FCS dates) C-USA plays one more Power Conference team (22 to 21), 7 more games against the Group of Five (21 to 14), and an identical 9 tilts at home vs FCS clubs. Keep in mind, the AAC has 11 teams (44 NC games) to C-USA 13 (52 NC dates), the American plays 8 fewer Non-Conference games than C-USA plays. AAC should out perform C-USA in its NC scheduling, as they play more times at home, 26 of their 44 NC games are in their stadiums (59.09%), while C-USA hits the road 27 times out of 52 games or 48.08 % of their NC games are at home!

Posted in C-USA, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, UTSA, Western Kentucky |

AAC vs FCS, The Group of Five, & PC’s

The American Athletic Conference (AAC … not to be confused with the ACC, … Atlantic Coast Conference), formally known as the Big East, has lost its status as an elite league among the Power Conferences. During the BCS years, they were one of the exalted Six (ACC, B-12, B-10, PAC 12, SEC & Big East), this is no longer the case, as they now have been demoted to leading the “Group of Five” (AAC, Conference-USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference, & Sun Belt Conference)… whatever that may mean, they are at the front of the line!

This coming season (2014) the AAC takes on 21 teams, from the 5 Power Conferences (PC): ACC, Six games; B-12, four battles; B-10, six opponents; PAC 12, one contest; & SEC, four dates! Please Note: the AAC does not play Notre Dame! Of the 21 schedule games with the PC’s, 13 are on the road, 7 are @ home, & 1 is at a neutral site. This is the most home games any of the Group of Five (GF) play in their home arenas against the Power Conferences.

The AAC will line up against the GF’s (listed above) 14 times: C-USA, four games; MAC, two tilts, MWC, two dates; SBC, one encounter; Independents, 5 battles (BYU 3, Navy 1, & Army 1). The American Conference will play ten of their fourteen games against the Group of Five @ home and only four on the road!

The AAC takes on 9 FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) opponents, all at home! Please Note: the FCS teams are limited to 63 full scholarships, but may give fewer & retain their FCS certification; while the FBS, Football Bowl Subdivision, (PC’s & GF’s) must give 85 full scholarships or they will lose their FBS status! The AAC welcomes the following FCS teams into their respective stadiums from these conferences: MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), three games; OVC (Ohio Valley Conference):  two dates; SoCon ( Southern Conference); CAA (Colonial Athletic Association); S-Land (Southland Conference); & SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference)  each for one game!

The AAC is the strongest of the group of Five, evidenced by the fact that they play their PC opponents, 33% of the time in their stadiums (the highest of any of the Group of Five) and a full 71% of their games, against their fellow members in the GF, @ home!

Posted in AAC, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF |

Big 12 vs Power Conferences & Final Thoughts on PC vs PC

The Big 12 is the only Power Conference that does not have divisional play, as they lack the required number of teams (12), they currently are a league of 10 Universities. As a result, the B-12 schedules a little differently, as they do not want to be setting at home, while the other PC’s are playing their championship games in the first week of December! Only Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, & West Virginia are not playing on December 6, the last Saturday in the 2014 regular season. The good thing about not having divisions, is that the Big 12 plays a round robin schedule (every team in the conference competes against every other team in the league) Many analysts believe the Big 12 champion is the only true PC champ, as the title is earned on the field of play, not the luck of who one draws in cross divisional play. The SEC, ACC, & B-10 play only 2 teams from the other division and often the luck of the draw can impact who wins that side of the conference. If Wisconsin draws OSU & MSU from the B-10 East & Nebraska gets Rutgers & Indiana, well … you do not have to be a rocket scientist to see; advantage Cornhuskers! The Big 12, like the PAC 12, plays 9 conference games, not 8 as the ACC, B-10 & SEC. As a result, the Big 12 can schedule 30 NC games or three per team, a different number then the PAC 12′s 36, and different again from the 48 that the ACC, B-10 & SEC can put on their calendars.

That said, let’s take a look see at who the B-12 is messing with in 2014!

Oklahoma: plays one PC, Tennessee (SEC) @ home; Baylor: elected not to schedule a PC in 2014; Texas challenges the Bruins of UCLA (PAC-12) @ neutral site, AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, TX. TCU: welcomes Minnesota (B-10) to their home arena, Amon G. Carter Stadium, in Fort Worth; Kansas State: takes on national runner-up in 2013, Auburn @ home. Oklahoma State: upped K-State by one, by scheduling defending champ, FSU, in Arlington Texas’, AT&T Stadium. Texas Tech: plays Arkansas @ Home; West Virginia: travels to the Georgia Dome to play Alabama (SEC) & challenges Maryland (B-10) on the road. Iowa State: plays in-state rival Iowa (B-10) in Iowa City (Road Game) & Kansas: plays Duke in Durham, NC.

The B-12 plays 10 teams from PC’s in 2014; 3 road games, 4 home tilts, & 3 contests are at neutral sites. Further, those games are against: ACC, 2 dates; B-10, 3 games; PAC 12, 1 tilt; SEC, 4 meetings. Finally, the B-12 does not play the lone independent in this mix, ND. While B-12 teams are taking on Power Conference opponents on 10 occasions, they are teeing it up 8 times vs the FCS in 2014.

This concludes the evaluation of  the 5 PC’s scheduling against other Power Conferences.

Here is how Sully’s CFP rates the five power conferences scheduling one another!

1) Big Ten: They play 17 of their 48 Non-conference (NC) or 35.42% of their schedule against Power Conference teams. The B-10 plays 11 FCS teams or 22.92% of their NC schedule. While not great, it is clearly better than the rest!

2) ACC, Like the B-10, they play 17 PC opponents, for an identical 35.42% of the NC schedule. Where the B-10 gets the edge, the ACC elected to schedule 14 FCS teams or 29.17% of their NC line-up. This fact hurts the conference strength of schedule and dropped them into 2nd place!

3) B-12: The B-12 has a total of 30 NC games, like the PAC 12, they play 9 conference games, leaving room for 3 Non-Conference dates per team. They elected to schedule 10 PC teams or 33.3% of their NC games, while setting up 8 dates with FCS opponents or 26.22% of their NC schedule. While Identical to the PAC 12 in the # of FCS games, 8 (B-12 8 of 30, to the PAC 12, 8 of 36), they do play a higher percentage of games against the FCS. The B-12 plays one less game against the PC’s, 10 to the PAC 12′s 11 games. However, the B-12 plays a higher percentage, of their NC games against Power Conference opponents, than the PAC 12, (33.3% to 30.56%). The higher percentage of games against Power Conference opponents moved the B-12 in front of the PAC 12.

4) PAC 12: The PAC 12 plays 9 conference games and as a result, are only able to schedule 36, not 48 NC games, like the ACC, B-10, SEC or 30 like the Big 12. Here is how their scheduling breaks down;  11 contest vs PC’s or 30.56% of their 36 NC games, while playing FCS teams 8 times or 22.22% of all NC contest. The PAC 12 percent of games against 63 scholarship programs (FCS) is slightly better than the B-10′s but their percent of PC games is significantly lower then their Rose Bowl Brothern, the ACC, or B-12. This Stat Landed them in 4th place!

5) SEC: While their is little argument that this is the best conference in college football, their NC schedule is doing little to enhance that widely held perspective. The SEC scheduled just 11 games vs PC’s or 22.92% of their NC opportunities; while establishing 14 dates with FCS opponents for 29.17% of their NC games. Also, keep in mind, the SEC Rep as the best conference has been, at least in part, established by beating up the B-10 in bowl games (I’m talking Conference reputation , not a specific team winning the national championship or 4 of the 14 SEC teams; Bama, Florida, LSU, & Auburn), keep in mind, the PAC 12 has handled the B-10 in recent years, as has the ACC & the B-12! Finally, while I personally believe the SEC is the best league, it really does not matter what Sully’s CFP believes or what anybody thinks. It comes down to their NC regular season schedule, which in 2014, is just short of a joke! The SEC plays more games against FCS opponents than it plays against Power Conference teams. In fact, they are the only PC that schedules more FCS teams than PC opponents. The logic “the SEC has so many good teams, it would be unfair for them to schedule up during the regular season”, will no longer fly in this playoff driven format! The SEC is going to have to pack their bags and start heading to the near west & far west to take on the B-12 & PAC 12 and/or break out the welcome wagon for these teams, in their respective stadiums, during the regular season.

So as we head into the 2014 season… be mindful of strength of schedule; the chatter about this … who played who, will turn quickly into an intense debate, especially given the money at stake. I can hear it now … How did that team get into the Final Four? Who put that Guy/Gal on the Selection Committee? Four spots & Five PC champions, who will be left out & why? Why didn’t the SEC get 2 teams? …  all of this will be scrutinized and a whole lot more! This is going to be the most interesting college football season in years!

Posted in Baylor, Big 12, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia |

PAC 12 vs the Power Conferences (PC)

Unlike the B-10 (14 teams) or the B-12 (10 teams) the PAC 12 thinks numbers matter, evidenced by their history of having the number of teams in their league be reflective in what they call themselves. The conference was formed on December 2, 1915 in Portland, Oregon’s Imperial Hotel and until 1959 was known as the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC). The four founding members were University of California (Berkeley), University of Washington, University of Oregon, & Oregon Agriculture College (now Oregon State) and began competition in 1916. In 1917, Washington State College (now Washington State University) joined the League followed by Stanford in 1918. In 1922 the conference grew again when USC & Idaho signed up, in 1924 Montana entered the league and UCLA was brought into the fold in 1928. In 1950 Montana left the PCC to join the Mountain States Conference and the PCC remained a nine team league until 1958. Then in 1959, the Pacific Coast Conference disbanded after the “Pay for Play” scandals involving Cal, USC, UCLA & Washington. From 59 through 68 it was known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU). In 1968 it renamed itself, yet again, this time to the PAC 8 ( 4 California Schools, two Universities in Oregon & 2 in Washington)! In 1978, the conference added Arizona & Arizona State and became the the PAC 10! Finally, in 2011, we arrived at its current name , PAC 12, with the additions of Utah & Colorado!

One thing to remember, the PAC 12 plays nine conference games, the Big 10 (moving to 9 in 2016), SEC, & ACC currently play 8. Further, the ACC, B-10, & SEC have 14 teams in their respective conferences, 7 in each of their divisions to the PAC 12′s, 12 teams with 6 placed in each division. Like the other FBS conferences, the PAC 12 is limited to 12 total games (unless they schedule Hawaii, in Hawaii,  … if they do, they may add a 13th game to cover travel costs), since they play 9 conferences games, they may only schedule 3 NC opponents. Simply put, the PAC 12 out of conference match-ups are limited to 3, not 4, like the other divisional PC Conferences! The P-12′s North & South play all five teams on their respective sides of the league and play 4 crossover divisional games (not 2 walk-over tilts, like the ACC, B-10, & SEC)! Please Note, The PAC 12′s structure is different than the other three Power Conferences with divisions, due to fewer teams in the league & a greater number of conference games!

Let’s begin with the South Division: They play 9 conference games for a total of 54 dates & battle 18 NC opponents. Alright, let’s look at their Power Conference opponents in 2014. UCLA: plays at Virginia (ACC) & Texas (B-12) at a neutral site, Arlington, TX; USC battles the Catholics, @ Boston College (ACC) & hosts ND (IND); (Please Note, their are only 2 Catholic Universities playing in the FBS & the Trojans are playing both schools); Arizona: has elected not to schedule an opponent from a PC; Arizona State welcomes the Irish to Tempe; Utah:  travels to the ‘Big House’ to take on Michigan (B-10); while Colorado: does not have a PC opponent on their slate for 2014! The South Division will compete against 6 Power Conference teams (ACC 2; ND 2; B-12 1; & B-10, 1) in the coming season, with UCLA & SC accounting for 4 of the 6 games!

In 2013, the South Division went 3-2 against PC opponents, UCLA beat Nebraska, 41-21; SC beat BC, 35-7 & lost to ND, 14-10; Arizona did not play a NC team from a Power Conference, Arizona State beat Wisconsin, 32-30 & lost to the Irish, 37-34; Utah did not play a NC team from a PC; Colorado did not schedule a Power Conference opponent!

 North Division: Oregon: Plays Michigan State (B-10) in Eugene on Sept. 6th, a must see game; Stanford: travels to South Bend to battle Notre Dame, Washington: hosts the Illini (B-10); Oregon State: has elected not to schedule a Power Conference team in O14; Washington State: battles Rutgers (B-10) @ home; & Cal plays @ Northwestern (B-10). The North Division of the PAC 12 takes on 5 PC foes, four from from the Big Ten!

In 2013, the North Division was 4-3 vs a Power Conference line-up, Oregon beat Virginia, 59-10 & Tennessee, 59-14; Stanford beat ND 27-20; Washington outscored the Illini, 34-24; Oregon State did not play a PC last season; Washington State lost to Auburn, 31-24; Cal lost to Northwestern, 44-30 & Ohio State, 52-34.

In 2014, the PAC 12 plays 11 NC games against PC opponents. They play 5 on the road, 5 at home, and one at a neutral site. ‘The West Coast Guys’ take on the B-10 five times, the Irish on 3 occasions, the ACC twice, & the B-12 once!

Up Next: The Big 12 vs Power Conferences

Posted in Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, PAC 12, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State |

Big Ten VS Power Conferences

Big Ten Vs ACC, Big 12, PAC 12 & SEC

The Big Ten is now a directionally driven, 2 division conference, identified by the headings of East & West. Personally, I prefered the Leaders (building for the future) & Legends (honoring the past). The ‘talking heads’ at ESPN were forever running their mouths about how “stupid’ those names were … wait a minute … those Guys & Gals often own the corner on stupid,  … now I get it … that’s why they think East & West are better identifiers … got it! That said, one has to like the creativity of the the Atlantic Coast Conference, their divisions are the  … Atlantic & Coastal … damn clever! Or how about the Mountain West Conference, they put their thinking caps on an came up the incredibly innovative divisionals tags of … Mountain & West … Wow … ESPN must have loved that kind of “out of the box thinking!” Look it, the Big Ten needed to sell the idea that they are shaping young minds toward the future (Leaders) by remembering their past (Legends)!  They really did a half-tailed job of selling,  … what I thought was a good idea! Oh well, enough about that … East & West forever baby!

Lets start in the Big Ten East, 7 teams reside on that side of the league, OSU, MSU, Michigan, PSU, Indiana, & new-comers Maryland and Rutgers! They play a total of 84 games (7 teams x 12 games) eight of the games are conference (8 x 7 = 56 Big Ten battles) leaving 4 non-conference games per team for the East to take on 28 possible Power Conference (PC) teams. Here is how they chose to schedule: 1) Ohio State plays one, Va Tech (ACC) @ home; 2) Michigan State takes on Oregon (PAC 12) in tree hugger-ville; 3) Michigan travels to God’s House to take on the Irish (IND) & welcomes the Utes (Utah, PAC 12) to the Big House; 4) Penn State does not play a PC opponent this year, although they do play Central Florida, AAC: American Athletic Conference (who did beat Baylor, 52-42, in the Fiesta Bowl last year), in Dublin Ireland; 5) Indiana heads to the “show me” state to take on Missouri (SEC); 6) Maryland challenges West Virginia (Big 12) @ home and then packs their bags for a trip to Syracuse (ACC); & 7) Rutgers heads west to take on Washington State (PAC 12) & its innovative HC, Mike Leach. The Big Ten East plays 8 PC’s or 29% of their Non-Conference (NC) schedule is against higher quality FBS programs. It should be noted, that the East plays only 4 teams from the FCS, in other words, only 14% of their NC schedule is played against Football Championship Subdivision opponents These FCS teams may only give up to 63 scholarships and they may give fewer if they chose to do so; The FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) programs have no such option, must give 85 full rides or lose their FBS classification! OSU, Michigan & PSU do not play an FCS program in 2014, while Maryland, MSU, Rutgers & Indiana play one each!

In the Big Ten West, descriptors are the same as above, 7 teams, 84 total games, 56 conference tilts, & 28 NC contests. So here is the West: 1) Wisconsin plays LSU (SEC) at a neutral site (Houston’s Reliant Stadium, now NRG Stadium); Nebraska welcomes Miami (ACC) to Lincoln; 3) Northwestern hosts Cal and then travels to South Bend to crusade against the Irish (IND); 4)  Iowa battles in-state rival, Iowa State (Big 12) @ home and then heads east to take on Pitt (ACC); Illinois journeys west to rangle with Washington (PAC 12); Minnesota heads south to test TCU (Big 12), & Purdue battles ND at a neutral site, Lucas Oil Field, in Indianapolis, as part of the Irish Shamrock Series! The Big 10′s West plays 9 of its 28 NC games against PC opponents or 32% of their non-conference schedule, contrasted with 7 games vs FCS squads or 25% of their NC dates!

The Big Ten numbers for 2014 are as follows; 14 teams, play 168 games, 112 conference battles,  with 56 NC dates to round off their schedules. The B-10 takes on 17 PC opponents (29% of its NC schedule), 9 on the road, 7 @ home & 2 at neutral sites! The conferences & the # of games they play against them are as follows: ACC,4 games; SEC, 2 battles; B-12, 3 tilts; PAC 12, 5 dates & ND, 3 meetings! So the Big Ten plays 17 games against Power Conferences & 11 vs FCS affiliates. As we enter the 4 team play-off Era, we are told that strength of schedule is a critical element for the selection committee, compare the B-10′s numbers with the SEC’s … it make for interesting conversation!

Up Next: ACC vs Power Conferences (PC)

 

Posted in Big Ten, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin |

ACC Vs Power Conferences 2014

The ACC is a fun conference to watch each and every week, this year there are 4 teams that can win the Coastal according to various preseason publications: UNC, Miami, Georgia Tech, & Virginia Tech; not to mention none of these teams won the Coastal last year, Duke (no respect if the ball has points, …  if you bounce it,  it goes all funny, … Ok, for you dopes, I’m saying the Devils only get respect it B-Ball) won the division! In 2013, Duke was 6-2, Miami, Va Tech & G-Tech were all 5-3 & North Carolina (UNC) was 4-4 in over-all league play. Not to mention would be an oversight, Mike London has recruited really well at Virginia and Paul Chryst’s team at Pitt will be improved in his third year! Put simply, the Coastal is wide open again and I, for one, will be watching this divisional race with a great deal of interest! I do not know of another division in the FBS that is as unpredictable as the Coastal going into the 2014 Season! That said, quite the opposite perspective for the Atlantic Division in 2014. Let’s just give FSU the crown, Clemson has lost Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, & et al and simply does not have the roster to challenge the Seminoles! Louisville lost its QB, Teddy Bridgewater & Head Coach, Charlie Strong, to Texas, while Syracuse, Wake Forest (WF), NC State, & Boston College (BC) are all @ various stages of rebuilding! Remember, this preseason stuff is all about whose best on paper  … speculation … that’s why we play the games … because …. anything can and often does happen!

As mentioned the Atlantic Division has seven team and its breakdown is the same as the SEC & Big Ten;  84 total games (7 teams x 12 games), 56 conferences tilts (7  x 8), which leaves 28 Non-Conference (NC) games for each school to schedule as they see fit! So lets see how many Power Conferences (PC) programs they are willing to take on! Florida State is stepping up big time, Oklahoma State (B-12) @ a neutral site, Arlington’s AT&T Stadium (Old Cowboy Stadium), and Notre Dame (IND)  & Florida (SEC) @ home. Clemson is right with FSU in taking on big time NC opponents, the Tigers play @ Georgia and hosts South Carolina, two of the SEC’s best teams. Louisville travels to ND (the Cardinals 1st meeting ever with the Irish) & play in state rival Kentucky (SEC) at home. Syracuse takes on Maryland (B-10 … as strange as that sounds) & then travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame!   BC plays USC (PAC 12) @ home in Alumni Stadium.   NC State & WF have elected not to schedule a team from a PC in 2014. Please Note: these ACC / ND games are part of the quasi relationship the Atlantic Coast Conference & ND put in place to assist one another in the new Play-off Era.  The ACC’s strength of NC scheduling goes up playing ND (5 games each year, although only 4 in 2014 do to scheduling issues) & the Irish get access to ACC bowl considerations, similar to the deal they had with the Big East in football!

Now the Coastal Division: UNC plays @ ND (IND), first meeting since 2008, a 29-24, Tar Heel win @ Chapel Hill, in fact, it’s UNC’s only win vs Irish, (1-11). Virginia Tech travels to the Horse Shoe to battle Ohio State (B-10), first meeting between these schools. Miami travels to the Heartland to take on the Cornhuskers (B-10) in Lincoln, NE, a site where Miami has never won (0-3)! Pitt welcomes Iowa (B-10) to Heinz Field, last meeting @ Kinnick, Panthers lost a an 17 point 4th quarter lead and fell to the Hawks, 31-27! Georgia Tech heads down the road to Athens, to rumble with in-state rival Georgia (SEC). Duke welcomes Kansas (B-12), the devils have met the J-Hawks only once, in 2009, a 44-16 loss!

The ACC plays 17 games against the PC’s, identical to the B-10′s number! Six of the games are on the road, 9 are at home, & two are being played at neutral sites! The ACC battles 4 times with the B-10, takes on the B-12 & PAC 12 twice (4 games total), & SEC 5 times. The conference has scheduled 14 games against FCS teams, while playing 17 games against the Power Conferences. This line-up is better than the SEC’s (11 PC to 14 FCS) yet not as good as the B-10 (17 PC to 11 FCS). Let the debate begin!

Posted in #1 Uncategorized |

SEC vs Power Conferences

The BCS Era has come and gone, I know I am a minority, but I actually liked what it did for college football. Its primary intent was to get #1, on the field, against #2 and it did just that with a high degree of accuracy over the years! That said, the $’s to be had overwhelmed this simple concept; … Conference / Bowl tie-ins, the evolution of 4 BCS Bowls + the Championship Game, (How the hell do you get four BCS Bowls from one vs two?), 6 BCS Conferences & 5 Conferences… well …  not so much, and all the other add-ons in getting 1 against 2 that developed during its 16 year run! I know the answer, its money and a whole bunch of money always seems to equal an insatiable need for more money! Maybe the NCAA should have the O’jays sing their hit song ” For the love of Money” at the National Championship game on January 12, 2015 … a song that they released late in 1973 … I guess some things just don’t change! Ok, I’m done … preaching, whining, bitching … whatever that was … let’s take a peek at who the Mighty SEC plays from the Power Conferences (PC)!

Let’s start in the SEC West, the SEC plays eight conference games, 6 in the division and two cross divisional battles, one against an annual or permanent opponent and one that rotates. So the West has 56 conferences tilts (8 games x 7 teams), leaving each team with 4 non-conference games for a total of 28, out-of-conferences contests (4 x 7)! The teams in the West choose to play 4 of these 28 games against Power Conference opponents; Bama plays West Virginia (B-12), Auburn challenges Kansas State (B-12), LSU takes on Wisconsin (B-10) & Arkansas battles Texas Tech (B-12). Ole Miss, Mississippi State, & Texas A&M do not play a team from a Power Conference in 2014! Thus, the SEC West has elected to play 14% of their non-conference schedule against the “Big Boy” conferences. I know they like to say the SEC is “Big Boy football”, yet “Big Boy’ is not reflective in their scheduling out of conference opponents. Here is the really interesting thing, not one of these 4 games in 2014 is in a SEC West Stadium; Bama & LSU play West Virginia (Georgia Dome) & Wisconsin (Reliant) while Auburn & Arkansas play Kansas State & Texas Tech on the road! You would think SEC West folks would like to see USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, & ND in their stadiums! To accomplish this, we are going to have to talk to Saint Nick (Coach Saban), who likes to play one really good opponent (Power Conference) at a neutral site, two FBS, Non Power Conference, teams (Sun Belt, MAC, C-USA, etc..) and one FCS opponent at Bryant-Denny. The lone exception in the past six years, is a home & home series with Penn State in 2010 & O11. With Saban’s approach to scheduling, Bama plays 3 non conference & 4 SEC, a total of 7 home games @ home, 1 @ a neutral site, & 4 conferences games on the road. PC’s will want a return trip to their arena, if they agree to play at Bryant-Denny! Thus Bama would have 5, not 4, road games, see what Nick is doing? / Smart Huh!

The SEC East: One of the very different realities between the West & East Divisions takes place during rivalry week at the end of the season. The West plays an SEC schedule and mostly within the division; LSU plays Arkansas, Bama battles Auburn (Iron Bowl), Old Miss takes on MSU (Egg Bowl), & A&M plays Missouri, an East Division opponent. Compare this with what the East does and you see a marked difference as to why they play the better (meaning … more …) out of conference schedule! The East plays 7 of their 28 non-conference games (25%) against Power Conferences, almost twice the # the West plays. In part, because of who they play on rivalry weekend, SC plays Clemson (ACC), Georgia steps up against Georgia Tech (ACC), Florida battles FSU (ACC), & Kentucky has moved their Louisville (ACC) game to this Thanksgiving  / Rivalry Weekend. This year, Georgia plays 2 Power Conference teams, G-Tech, as mentioned & Clemson; Missouri takes on Indiana (B-10); and Tennessee travels to Oklahoma (B-12). It should also be noted, 4 of the seven games are true road games for the SEC and only one, the Texas Tech game, is at a neutral site (Arlington). Vandy is the only team in the East Division not to have a Power Conference team on their schedule in 2014.

SEC: plays 11 Power Conferences opponents out a possible 56 games, an average of 19.64% or one in every 5 NC games is against a PC team; while playing 14 games against FCS teams, this 14/56 is average of 25% or one in every 4 NC games! If you don’t, you should get the strength of the SEC and as a result, have an understanding as to why they do not want to schedule up when playing out of conference! The simple truth is the SEC is the best league and other PC teams get a break with in-conference scheduling, that, for the most part, the SEC teams do not experience!  However, in this ‘Final Four’ play-off system, strength of schedule does matter and you have to demonstrate, in the regular season (not just in the bowl season and primarily against the Big Ten) that you are, who you like the rest of the country to think you are, the best! If you thought the BCS was political, wait till you get aloud of the Final Four Politics! The SEC gets a C grade for its out of league scheduling during the 2014 regular season! Last thought, look it, the SEC Champion is in the final four, that is not the question, the real question is, does the SEC get two teams, my answer is … yes, I think that they are that good, but they won’t get the second team, unless the conference schedules more PC teams (14 minimal) during the regular season! In the end, its not what ESPN, Bleacher Report, or Sully’s CFP says or thinks, its the stakes: the politics & the dollars! Clearly reputation, will not be enough, it has to be one’s body of work on the field … and even that … may not be enough for two teams from the Mighty SEC to get to the dance’!

Up Next: Big Ten vs Power Conferences

Posted in Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Big Ten, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt |

FBS Power Conferences vs FCS in 2014

As you may know, FCS programs may give up to 63 scholarships, they may give fewer but not more. Also, teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) may portion the 63 scholarships out, among 85 players, but not more than 85. FBS programs must give 85 full rides or they could lose their Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) status. The FBS schools always play these games in their arenas, they write a check to the FCS school, and proceed to hammer the FCS opponent on the field. It should be noted, one victory (Not a second, if you elect to play a second FCS team that win does not count toward your needed 6) over a Championship Subdivision foe can be counted toward the six wins required become bowl eligible. I thought you might find in interesting what teams in the five Power Conferences are playing FCS teams, the number of games they play against these teams, and how often they lose one of these games. If you go to the site’s Team or Conference Page, look for the blue dots, as they indicated an FCS team. To get more detail about an individual game go the the team page, all 252 teams have an individual page!

Southeastern Conference (SEC): All 14 teams in the SEC played a FCS opponent in the 2014 season. They also played 14 games against the FCS in 2013 and went 13-1 (Florida was shocked by Georgia Southern)

West Division vs FCS in 2014: Alabama Plays Western Carolina out of the Southern Conference (SoCon); Auburn Takes on Samford, SoCon; LSU challenges Sam Houston State from the Southland Conference; Ole Miss battles Presbyterian from the Big South (BSC); Mississippi State welcomes UT Martin to Starkville, An Ohio Valley Conference Team (OVC); Texas A&M takes aim at Lamar University from the Southland Conference; Arkansas hosts Nicholls State from the Southland!

SEC West vs FCS in 2013, 7-0: Bama hammered Chattanooga, 49-0, Auburn pounded Western Carolina, 62-3; LSU stomped Furman, 48-16; Ole Miss stopped SE Missouri State, 31-13; MSU blasted Alcorn State, 51-7; Texas A&M busted up Sam Houston State, 62-28; Arkansas Survived Samford, 31-21.

SEC East vs FCS 2014: Georgia vs Charleston Southern, BSC; South Carolina plays Furman, SoCon; Florida takes on Eastern Kentucky, OVC; Missouri vs South Dakota State, Missouri Valley Conference (MVC); Tennessee vs Chattanooga, SoCon; Kentucky plays UT Martin, OVC; Vanderbilt takes on Charleston Southern, BSC

SEC East vs FCS in 2013, 6-1: Georgia beat up Appalachian State, 45-6, South Carolina blasted Coastal Carolina, 70-10; Florida was shocked by Georgia Southern, 26-20; Missouri knocked down Murray State, 58-14; Tennessee Annihilated Austin Peay, 45-0; Kentucky handled Alabama State, 48-14;  Vandy beat Austin Peay, 38-3.

Big Ten Conference (B-10): Three of the East Division Teams do not play an FCS opponent in 2014 and the same three did not play an FCS opponent in 2013.  For our purposes, we will compare the teams that are currently in the East, not Leaders / Legends from a year ago (Maryland & Rutgers are included in Big Ten East Review not the ACC or AAC)! As a result of counting in this manner, the B-10 played 11 games in both years! In 2013, the Big Ten went 11-0 vs FCS opponents!

East Division: Ohio State Does not play an FCS Team in 2014, ; Michigan State vs Jacksonville State, OVC; Michigan does not play an FCS team this year ( Note: they do play Appalachian State, who is now an FBS member as of 2014); Maryland takes on James Madison, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA);  Penn State does not play an FCS Team this season; Indiana plays Indiana State, MVC; Rutgers battles Howard University, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)

East Division (Sort of) vs FCS in 2013: OSU did not play an FCS Team in 2013; MSU blasted Youngstown State, 55-17; Michigan did not play an FCS Opponent in 2013; Maryland beat Old Dominion, 47-10; PSU did not play an FCS Team in 2013; Indiana beat Indiana State, 73-35; Rutgers shut out Norfolk State, 38-0.

West Division FCS Games 2014: Wisconsin plays Western Illinois, MVC; Northwestern takes on Western Illinois , as well; Iowa takes on Northern Iowa, MVC; Nebraska battles McNeese State, Southland; Illinois vs Youngstown State, MVC; Minnesota takes on Eastern Illinois, OVC; Purdue hosts Southern Illinois, MVC.

West Division vs FCS in 2013; Wisconsin blasted Tennessee Tech, 48-0, Northwestern held off Maine, 35-21; Iowa beat Missouri State, 28-14; Nebraska stomped South Dakota State, 59-20; Illinois outscored Southern Illinois, 42-34; Minnesota held off Western Illinois, 29-12; & Purdue snuck by Indiana State, 20-14!

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) In 2014 all 14 teams play an FCS team. In 2013, the ACC went 15-0 vs FCS teams (Clemson do to a quirk in their schedule played 2 FCS teams) In both 2013 & 2014 every team in the conference chose to schedule an FCS team.

Atlantic Division vs FCS in 2014: FSU takes on The Citadel, SoCon; Clemson battles South Carolina State, MEAC; Louisville plays Murray State, OVC; Syracuse vs Villanova, CAA; NC State plays Presbyterian, BSC; Boston College vs Maine, CAA; Wake Forest meets Gardner-Webb, BSC.

Atlantic Division vs FCS in 2013: FSU pounded Bethune-Cookman, 53-6; Clemson played two FCS teams do to a scheduling issue (Remember Clemson could only count one of these wins toward the 6 required to become bowl eligible), they blasted both South Carolina State, 52-13 & The Citadel, 52-6; Louisville humbled Eastern kentucky, 44-7; Syracuse annihilated Wagner, 54-0; NC State survived Richmond, 23-21; Boston College stopped Villanova, 24-14; & Wake Forest beat Presbyterian, 31-7.

Coastal Division vs FCS in 2014: UNC takes on Liberty, Virginia Tech plays William & Mary, CAA; Miami hosts Florida A&M, MEAC; Pitt welcomes Delaware, CAA; Georgia Tech battles Wofford, SoCon, Duke faces Elon, CAA; & Virginia squares off with Richmond, CAA.

Coastal Division vs FCS in 2013; UNC destroyed Old Dominion, 80-20, Va Tech blasted Western Carolina, 45-3; Miami annihilated Savannah State, 77-7; Pitt Struggled with Old Dominion, 35-24; Georgia Tech obliterated Elon, 70-0; Duke hammered North Carolina Central, 45-0; & Virginia detonated Virginia Military Institute, 49-0!

Pacific Coast Conference (PAC 12) The PAC 12 plays 8 FCS teams in 2014, 4 of their 12 teams did not schedule an FCS opponent (UCLA & SC never schedule them). In 2013 the conference scheduled 9 Football Championship Subdivision opponents and went 8-1 against them, Oregon State fell to Eastern Washington!

North Division vs FCS in 2014: Oregon welcomes South Dakota, MVC; Stanford plays UC Davis, Big Sky; Washington battles Eastern Washington, Big Sky; Oregon State takes on Portland State, Big Sky; Washington State battles Portland State, as well; California hosts Sacramento State, Big Sky.

North Division vs FCS in 2013: Oregon swamped Nicholls State, 66-3, Stanford did not play an FCS opponent, Washington massacred Idaho State, 56-0; Oregon State was ambushed by Eastern Washington, 49-46; Washington State blasted Southern Utah, 48-10; California survived Portland State, 37-30!

South Division vs FCS in 2014: UCLA does play an FCS team; USC does not play an FCS opponent, Arizona does not play an FCS team; Arizona State plays Weber State, Big Sky; Utah welcomes Idaho State, Big Sky; & Colorado does not play an FCS team.

South Division vs FCS in 2013: UCLA did not play an FCS opponent; USC did n0t schedule an FCS team; (Please Note: UCLA, USC, & ND have never scheduled, by definition, an FCS opponent); Arizona busted up Northern Arizona, 35-0; ASU hammered Sacramento State, 55-0; Utah disintegrated Weber State, 70-7; Colorado escaped Central Arkansas, 38-24!

Big 12 Conference (B-12) In 2014 the Big 12 scheduled 8 games against FCS universities, Oklahoma & Texas did not schedule an FCS opponent. In 2013 the conference played 8 FCS opponents again, going 7-1, K-State beaten by 3-time defending FCS Champion, North Dakota State

The B-12 does not have Divisions:

Oklahoma: 2014, did not schedule an FCS opponent & in 2013, did not play an FCS team!

Baylor: 2014, plays Northwestern State, Southland & in 2013, Baylor obliterated Wofford, 69-3.

Texas: 2014, did not schedule an FCS team & in 2013, did not play an FCS Team.

TCU: 2014 play Samford, SoCon & in 2013 TCU beat SE Louisiana, 38-17.

Kansas State: 2014 takes on Stephen F Austin, Southland & in 2013, K-State lost to North Dakota State, 24-21

Oklahoma State: 2014 plays Missouri State, MVC & in 2013, OSU blasted Lamar University, 59-3.

Texas Tech:  2014 scheduled Central Arkansas, Southland & in 2013, T-Tech busted up Stephen F. Austin, 61-13.

West Virginia: In 2014 plays Towson, CAA & in 2013, WV outlasted William & Mary, 24-17.

Iowa State: 2014 scheduled North Dakota State, MVC & in 2013, ISU escaped Northern Iowa, 28-20!

Kansas: 2014 plays SE Missouri, OVC & in 2013 Kansas beat South Dakota, 31-14.

So here is what we have in games scheduled in 2014, matching the Power Conferences against the Football Championship Subdivision: SEC 14, B-10 11, ACC 14, PAC 12 8, & B-12 8. This adds up to a total of 55 games being played by Power Conferences (85 scholarship schools) against the Football Championship Subdivision (63 scholarship schools),  In 2013, these groups played each other 57 times, 2 fewer games in 2014 than in o13. The breakdown is as follows: SEC, 13-1; B-10, 11-0; ACC, 15-0; PAC 12, 8-1; B-12 7-1; The Power Conferences went 54-3 vs the FCS in 2013! Notre Dame, while an Independant, is factored in this Power Conference alignment do to its quasi relationship with the ACC, that said, it should be noted that the Irish do not schedule FCS opponents! Let me know what you think!

Up Next: Power Conferences vs Power Conferences

Posted in ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Bethune-Cookman, Big 12, Big Sky, Big South, Big Ten, Boston College, Cal Poly, California, Clemson, Colonial Athletic Association, Colorado, Duke, Eastern Washington, FBS Independents, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Indiana State, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Lamar University, LSU, Maine, MEAC, Miami FL, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Missouri Valley, NC State, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nicholls University, North Carolina, North Dakota State, Northern Arizona, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ohio Valley, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, PAC 12, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Presbyterian, Purdue, Sacramento State, Sam Houston State, Samford, SEC, South Carolina, Southern Conference, Southland Conference, Stanford, SWAC, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Tennessee-Martin, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State, West Virginia, Western Carolina, Wisconsin, Youngstown State |

SEC West Division Sneak Preview 2014

SEC

West Division:

1. Auburn: For all you Bama fans, I’m afraid I have bad news for you & the rest of the congregation! From way up in the frigid North (Wausau, Wisconsin), it looks like Gus Malzahn & Company have figured out how to play & beat, Nick Saban and his Good Ole Boy coaching staff, trick door in his office and all! In 2010, Auburn (Malzahn was the OC in O10) was down to the Tide 24-0 and back come the Tigers! Auburn put up 28 points while holding Alabama to a FG, for a shocking, 28-27, win in Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium! Last year, with the Tiger fan base ‘chantin’, Kick Bama Kick (4 missed FG in the game)  and the scored tied at 28; Bama, on advise from the Auburn faithful, did try a 57 yard FG. This attempt led to the most exciting, bazaar, wild, whatever descriptor, one would choose to use, would be inadequate; to describe Chris Davis’ 109 yard return, for the winning score as time expiring! Ok …  Sure, these games could have gone either way, so to say that Malzahn has Saban’s number is a little much … right? I’m not referring to the outcome of these games, I am referring to the pace that Malzahn’s team plays at on O! Bana’s D likes to show a look, have the QB read the D & audible to another play. Bama’s defense then morphs into the right Defensive call to effectively neutralize the adjusted play. These defensive adjustments are based on hours & hours & hours of film study … see why Coach Saban does not this “hurry up stuff” …  it negates his hard-earned competitive edge! The speed at which the Tiger offense plays does not allow the defense time to show the QB a look. In fact, they really don’t care what the D is showing, their real concern is to pressure them with pace and not allow time for substitution. It works! On Offense, AU returns, QB, Nick Marshall, RB, Tre Mason is gone, yet the Tigers may be just as good with Cameron Artis-Payne & Corey ‘Tail Lights’ Grant (4.18 in the 40). The Tigers are loaded at WR, Sammie Coates,  Ricardo Louis, Marcus Davis, & D’haquille Williams, the nations #1 JC receiver in 2013 are all ready to roll (so to speak). The O-Line returns 4 starters (8 of 10 who played in the rotation) from last year high performing unit! The Defense is led by D-linemen, DT, Gabe Wright & DE, Carl Lawson, LB, Cassanova McKinzy, & DB’s, CB, Jonathon Mincy & FS, Jermaine Whitehead. This #1 projection in the West will not be ‘a ride in the park’ better thought of as ‘running a gauntlet’! Games at home against LSU & South Carolina and road battles with Ole Miss, MSU, Georgia, & Bama have to be survived to plant the SEC West Division Flag in Jordan-Hare Stadium!

2. Alabama: In the last six years, Bama has won 72 games and lost 9, won 2 SEC Titles, and 3 National Championships in that time frame. Heading into the 2013 season, the Tide had won back to back BCS National Championships ( beating LSU 21-0 in 2011 & ND 42-14 in 2012). They were positioned to take a run at a three-peat until the loss in Jordan-Hare to Auburn, 28-27, in their season finale. Nick Saban (79-15 @ Bama / Overall 170-57-1) is now considered, not only among today’s best coaches, he is thought of as one of the all-time greats. That said, Saban is coaching in an environment that is all about “what have you done lately” and that seems to be the only part of the measuring stick that has any relevance! The old Al Davis’ perspective, ‘Just Win Baby’ … seems to be alive and well in college football.  For the 3rd straight year, Bama opens their season at a neutral site, this time in Atlanta, against West Virginia. The Tide beat Michigan, in Cowboy Stadium, 41-14 in 2012 & in 2013, the Tide washed Virginia Tech away, 35-10, in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. In 2014, Alabama’s offense is led by RBs, TJ Yeldon, a Preseason All-American & Derek Henry (who I think is better than Yeldon) can be argued to be the Nations best duo (apologies Georgia & Wisconsin), while WR’s, Amari Cooper is a preseason All American & DeAndrew White is receiving All-SEC mention. Bama’s TE, OJ Howard is getting All American recognition and the O-Line returns three starters, led by another All American, Arie kouandjio. At each of the D’s three levels, Alabama has a player getting preseason All American attention; on the D-Line, DE, A’Shawn Robinson, @ LB, it’s their MLB, Trey DePriest, & in the secondary, FS, Landon Collins is receiving 1st team All American chatter! Alabama is really good … Yet, so is their schedule; they take on Florida, Mississippi State, A&M, & Auburn @ home and travel to Ole Miss, Arkansas, Tennessee, & LSU. It should be noted, that the Tide gets these 4 road games in a row, in other words, they do not play a single home game September 20 to November 15. In a six week time frame, from October 4th to November 8th, they play all these road games in succession (with a Bye on 11/1 before the LSU game on 11/8)! This is going to interesting!

3. Mississippi State: I know I’m a minority in picking MSU this high in the west, but with 16 starters who have experienced the SEC West, a duel threat QB, and playing Vandy & Kentucky (2 must win games) in their divisional crossover games, MSU needs to make its move …  if not now … when?.  Danny Mullen’s team has to step up this year or pretty much just sit down for a long while! The challenge for the Bulldogs is their swing games, LSU on September 20 & Ole Miss on November 29th, both on the road. The last time MSU won in Louisiana was in 1991, in other words, they have lost 11 straight times in Tiger Stadium. That said, while LSU has better 85 man roster than the Bulldogs, the Tigers are really young, especially at the skilled positions. I’m counting on the fact that the MSU/LSU game on Sept. 20th will be the first taste of SEC football for LSU’s young talent and that, in combination with the experience of the MSU players will be enough to pull the upset! The Ole Miss game or the Egg Bowl, clearly favors the home team, as the visitor is 2-13 in the last 15; yet, Ole Miss won in Starkville (MSU Davis Wade Stadium) 17-10 in OT  in 2013 …  is payback in the air? MSU has to win at least one of these games, and @ home, beat A&M (post Manziel) & Arkansas (Bielema’s work-in-progress) to get to 5-3. Clearly, this will not be easy, however, MSU has the experience to get this done in 2014. On offense the Bulldogs feature QB, Dak Prescott, RB, Josh Robinson, WRs De’Runnya Wilson & Jameon Lewis, TE, Malcolm Johnson & an O-Line that returns three starters. On defense, the D-Line returns 7 of their top 8 & is led by DT, Chris Jones, the LB corps is headed up by Benardrick McKinney, while the secondary returns 3 starters, including CB, Jamerson Love.

4. LSU: If success in the Real Estate industry is location, location, location, then one could argue success in college athletics is recruit, recruit, recruit! LSU does this just about as well as any program in the FBS! In this incoming freshmen class, the Tigers have the #I, RB, Leonard Fournette, the #I WR, Malachi Dupre, & the #2 ILB, Clifton Garrett. WOW, is really all one can say! Yet, before  we give them the ‘keys to the West Division’ consider what they lost! QB, Zack Mettenburger, whos passed for over 3000 yards, Gone; Jeremy Hill, who rushed for over 1400 yards, Gone; & WRs, Odell Beckham & Jarvis Landry both had over 1100 yards receiving, Gone. These numbers were never achieved, in a single season, by any previous LSU team, quite a feat given the Tigers illustrious history. Wes Miles’ team opens their 2014 season in Reliant Stadium, against Wisconsin, an excellent way to get their very young talent introduced to smash-mouth football. LSU will be a very good team in 2014, the real question is; how quickly will their skill become reflective of their talent? Oh yeah, one other guy I wanted to mention, DE, Danielle Hunter, a 6’6” 241, who has the dimensions of past greats, Sam Montgomery & Barkevious Mingo. I can still see those two guys roaring in off the edge and taking aim at the QB! The September 20 game vs MSU will be a key factor in measuring how fast LSU’s talent is ascending!

5. Ole Miss: The talent in this league just keeps coming and Ole Miss is part of that reasoning not the exception. Last year, SLB, Denzel Nkemdiche went down with an injury, Serderius Bryant not only stepped up, he earned second team All-SEC honors. In 2013, the Rebels played a 12 man rotation on the D-Line and 10 return, including Robert Nkemdiche, for the 2014 season! The LBs are experienced and deep. Phil Steele has the Ole Miss D-Line as the 12th best in the country & the LB corps as the Nations 3rd best! The Secondary is led by 1st team Preseason All American, FS, Cody Prewitt and returns 8 of the 10 who saw action a year ago. Ole Miss’ defense is one of the best in the SEC! The answer to the question, “How good will the Rebels be in 2014″ will be determined by the play of the offense! QB, Bo Wallace has had moments of stardom and then, not so much. For Ole Miss to become an efficient offensive unit, it has to start with Wallace becoming consistent! If he does … watch out! The RBs need to improve, in 2013, I’Tavius Mathers ran for 563 yards & Jaylen Walton rushed for 523, and to that end, JC transfer, Akeem Judd should help. WR, Laquon Treadwell, who was the #1 receiver coming out of high school, caught 72 passes last year for 608 yards and an average of 8.4 yards per catch. Treadwell stats are to low on the total yards (based on the # of catches) and yards per catch (he’s 6’3″ 225 pounds & runs a 4.5 … This guy can run over or away from DB’s). Compare Amari Cooper, a WR for Alabama, who caught 45 balls for 736 yards and an average of 18.4 yards per catch. The truth is Treadwell is better than Cooper and he and Wallace need to perform with that kind of confidence! The O-Line returns 2 of 5 and are led by Preseason All-SEC, LT, Laremy Tunsil.  Ole Miss could finish anywhere from 2nd to 6th in the West and I, for one, would not be surprised with the Rebels finishing in any of those places.

6. Texas A&M: The Post Johnny Manziel Era has arrive, as A&M fans look back fondly at those two SEC championships, wait a minute, Johnny’s teams never won the SEC, well, ok, those two hard earned West Division Championships, hold it, they didn’t win the division either! Manziel was 5-1 in the West in 2012 (6-2 in the SEC)  and 3-3 in the Division in 2013 (4-4 in the Conference). So it begs the question, how does this guy’s time @ A&M get an Era attached to his last name. Do not blame Manziel, he never referred to his time in Aggieland as anything remotely like an Era, in fact, he seemed to indicate, at least at times, that he was looking forward to the day when he would have College Station in his rear view mirror. The simple truth is that when A&M & Missouri came into the SEC, the general feeling was they do not belong in this league and they are going to get hammered! Most of the talking heads thought that A&M was a better fit (wild crowd, 12th man, & et al) than MU, but still not SEC quality. As a result of the low expectations for the Aggies coming into the League, their 6-2 conference record and going 5-1 in the Mighty West Division surprised to shocked college analysts. These perceptions, coupled with Manziel’s style of play, the win at Bryant-Denny, his off field adventures, and the Legend/Era was born! No question he was fun to watch and I, for one, will miss him on Saturday’s. The Aggies offense will be led by, LT, Cedric Ogbuehi & LG, Jarvis Harrison. The Defense will have to ‘carry the ball’ so to speak if they are to get anywhere near where they were in 2012 or 2013. The D will be led by the secondary, which will feature CB, Deshazor Everett!

7. Arkansas: Bielema’s O-Line in Fayetteville is starting to look like his O-Line @ Wisconsin; C, Mitch Smothers, 6’4” 313; RG, Denver Kirkland, 6’5” 348; LG, Luke Charpentier, 6’4” 320, RT, Brey Cook, 6’7” 328, & LT, Dan Skipper, 6’10 (that’s right six foot ten) 315. That said, this unit is not getting a lot of love in Preseason All-SEC selections, only Cook is being mentioned as a potential All-Conference player. Bielema’s RB are getting plenty of attention, Phil Steele has Jonathon Williams, 2nd team All-SEC & Alex Collins as a 4th team selection. The RB’s are in place and the O-Line, if nothing else, is huge and will be better in their second year of this “smash mouth” Badger style of football.  The WR are big, and should preform better in 2014, they are led by, Demetrius Wilson & D’Arthur Cowan both 6’3″ and Keon Hatcher (6’2” 210) returns with his 27 receptions, 346, & 2 TD’s. TE, Hunter Henry is getting All-SEC Preseason recognition, Henry was the second leading receiver on last years team and will figure big into the passing game! DE, Trey Flowers leads the defense, he will get help from DT, Darius Philon in the middle. The LB corps has two starters back and the secondary returns 3 of 4. Arkansas will be better this year, the problem is their SEC schedule. The Razorbacks are the only team in the SEC, scheduled to play against 8 conference opponents who all made a bowl in 2013. While a bowl game is unlikely, they are headed in the right direction and 4 or even 5 wins are possible this season!

Up Next: Power Conferences vs FCS Teams

 

Posted in Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, SEC, Texas A&M |

SEC East Division Sneak Preview 2014

SEC

East Division

1. South Carolina: In the last three years, South Carolina has won 33 games and lost 6, outperforming  their biggest rivals in the vaunted SEC East; Georgia 30-11, Florida 22-16, & Tennessee 15-21 .. (# Please Note; Missouri has only been it the league for 2 years). Yet, during this time frame, SC did not win a division championship! If you were to look at these teams over the past ten years, they do look a little different; Florida 94-36, Georgia 94-37, SC 83-44, & Tennessee 67-58. While one could argue that the SEC East is the second best division in all of college football, there is little question it is the second best of the two Divisions in the SEC. The Gamecocks return 14 starters, 8 on offense, led by Preseason All Americans, RB, Mike Davis, & LG, A.J. Gann and All SEC Preseason picks, WR, Shaq Roland & O-Linemen, Brandon Shell & Corey Robinson. On Defense 7 starters return for the 2014 season, the Gamecocks feature, LB, Sharrod Golightily, DT, J.T. Surratt, & Safety, Brison Williams.  The 2013 season marked the 3rd time in a three year period (011 to 013) that SC beat the team that won their division! In 2011, Georgia won the Division, yet Carolina beat the Dwags, 45-42 at Sanford Stadium. In 2012, Georgia won the division again,  yet SC hammered them, 35-7 @ Williams-Brice! Finally, in 2013, Missouri reigned in the East, but fell to South Carolina @ home in Memorial Stadium, 27-24, in 2 OTs. In 2011 the Gamecocks lost two divisional crossover game, Auburn 16-13 & Arkansas, 44-28 but dominated the East going 5-0 in the division. In 2012, the Cocks went 5-1 in the East, tying Georgia & Florida in the Division (Note; Not Conference, SC went 6-2 overall in SEC Play, while Georgia & Florida tied at 7-1). In 2012, SC lost to Florida, 44-11 (they actually outgained the Gators, 191 to 183, but turned the ball over 4 times to UF’s zero) & lost one of their Divisional crossover games, 23-21 to LSU at Tiger Stadium and then later in the year beat Arkansas @ home, 38-20 (only 2 crossover games after 2011 with Missouri coming into the East and A&M the West). In 2013, SC posted a 4-2 slate in the East, an upset loss to Tennessee, 23-21, at Neyland Stadium (once again SC won the total yardage battle, 384 to 325 but turned the ball over twice while forcing none) & were outscored by Georgia, 41-30 @ Sanford Stadium. Yet, once again, beat the East Champion, Missouri, 27-24. This year, SC has Georgia at home and their divisional crossover games are the season opener, at home, against Texas A&M and later, October 25 at Auburn. While their chief challenger, on paper, for the Division title, Georgia, has Auburn at home (payback for the tipped pass?) and Arkansas on the road. The game at Florida, 11/15,  is worrisome for SC’s divisional title run! That said, Sully’s CFP has SC going 6-0 in the East & 7-1 in the conference, losing only at Auburn and for the first time, since 2010, arguably, the best team in the East these past three seasons (at least best in head to head competition) actually wins the East!

2. Georgia:  In the SEC, divisional Crossover games matter, as you are assigned one permanent rival,  (Georgia vs Auburn, South Carolina challenges Arkansas, Florida takes on LSU, Tennessee plays Alabama, Vandy steps up against Ole Miss, & Kentucky battles MSU … Please Note: Permanent rivals may chance to accommodate scheduling issues.. for instance; SC does not play Arkansas in 2014) and one rotating opponent. Giving the power of the teams at the top of the West (Auburn & Alabama may be ranked in the top 4 nationally in 014), it becomes critical to the race in the East, as to who your rotated game with the West is against in a given year. This year, Georgia draws Arkansas on the road, this may be the best opponent to play out of the powerful West, giving the current problems in Fayetteville. That said, Uga has to play Auburn, this is the South oldest rivalry, the teams began playing in 1892 and have met 117 times as of 2013.  Auburn leads the series 55-54-8 and last year’s game was reflective of the excitement this game can & does generate. Auburn was down, 38-37, when the Tigers got possession of the ball with 1:49 left to play, on its own 27 yard line. A 4th down, Hail Mary pass, from Nick Marshall was deflected by a Georgia Safety, Josh Harvey-Clemons and was caught by Ricardo Louis (The Prayer at Jordan Hare as it is now known) with 25 seconds left to play for the winning score, Auburn 43 Georgia 38! Georgia returns the best duet at RB in the country, Todd Gurley & Keith Marshall (Alabama & Wisconsin may disagree) and one of the best receiver corps in the nation, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley & Michael Bennett. The question on offense is how good is new QB, Hutson Mason? The O-Line is solid and with healthy RB’s this year, should have better numbers in 2014. The defense returns 8 starters from a year ago, led by LB’s Ramik Wilson & Jordan Jenkins, the D-Line will feature DE, Ray Drew, & Secondary is anchored by CB, Damian Swann. Georgia’s D will be better at all three levels in 2014, especially the secondary that under performed in 013! Get ready for the early showdown in Colombia, on September 13th, ‘the Dwags come-a-callin’, the winner is clearly in the drivers seat for the SEC’s East Crown. Or is it? Georgia may want to lose this game, as the last two times they lost to SC, 2011 & 2012, they won the East Division!

3. Florida: This is one of the most dangerous teams in the country. Last year, Florida was 4-8, say what? Let me say again, 4-8, yes 4-8 and no, it’s not a misprint!. After beating Arkansas on October 5th, 30 to 10, to run their record to 4-1, the Gators never won another game! Losing seven in a row, including a loss to Georgia Southern, (an FCS that was in transition to the FBS), 26-20! For those of you who are interested, Georgia Southern will play in the Sun Belt Conference this year! That said, UF lost to their biggest East Division rivals, Georgia, 23-20 & South Carolina, 19-14, a bounce here or a play there and the Gators may have won both of those games. Florida is led on offense by QB, Jeff Driskel, RB, Kelvin Taylor, & TE, Demarcus Robinson; while the defense has Preseason All Americans, CB, Vernon Hargreaves & DE, Dante Flower and Preseason All SEC, LB, Antonio Mason. The Gators get East Division rival SC & LSU (permanent/on-going West Division rival) @ home, Georgia, at a neutral site, Jacksonville and defending East Champ, Missouri, in Gainesville. All positives, however, the Gators have to go to Alabama in the second divisional crossover game and end their season against defending national champ, Florida State in Tallahassee! Florida will be better in 2014, no question, there is also, no question, that playing @ Alabama, LSU, Georgia (Neutral site), South Carolina, & at Florida State is battling through one of the toughest schedules in the country! Will Muschamp will have his team on a mission this year and they could be one of the most interesting storylines of the 2014 season! The Gators should be 3-0 when the travel to Tuscaloosa, on September 20, to take on the Tide!

4. Tennessee: Butch Jones had the Volunteers (5-7) close to being bowl eligible in his first year as Tennessee Head Coach. A loss, late in the season, to in-state rival, Vanderbilt, 14-10, kept UT home for the holidays. What made the loss even harder to accept was that the game was played in Knoxville! This year, the Vols return 10 starters, 5 on either side of the ball. WR, Marquez North is the lone headliner back on offense, while the defense returns first team, Preseason All American, LB, A.J. Johnson and two DB that have received All SEC recognition, SS, Brian Randolph & CB, Cameron Sutton. That said, it is important to note, Jones has recruited well in his first full year on the recruiting trail. The good news is, a lack of experience can be addressed with superior talent; the bad news is, this is the SEC and everybody recruits well! Jones’ goal in year two, will be to become bowl eligible, this will be no easy task! The Volunteers play a NC game at Oklahoma, divisional games @ Georgia & SC, and Alabama (Periment West foe @ home) & @ Ole Miss in their crossover games. The Vols face Kentucky, Missouri, @ Vandy in the final three weeks of the 2014 season. Chances are they will need to win 2 of these final three and possibly, all of them, to get their six wins to be eligible for the second season!

5. Vanderbilt: The Miracle Worker, James Franklin, has departed for Happy Valley, after winning 18 games in Nashville the past two season a rare occurrence for the Commodores. In fact, in Vandy’s 122 year history of playing football, they had one season, prior to 2012, where they won 9 games. Thanks to Franklin, they now have three! Enter Derek Mason, the Stanford Defensive Coordinator the past four years, his hire is intended to send the clear message that Vandy intends to continue on Franklin path of maintaining high academic standards, while winning football games in the powerful SEC! Mason’s success at Stanford was achieved @ one of the few Division One Universities, that has educational expectations, that match or exceed Vanderbilts. The Commodores return 10 starters, 6 on the offensive side of the ball and 4 on defense. Mason task will be a very difficult one, as he does not have a single offensive player, who is receiving preseason recognition on Phil Steels’s, four deep position chart. On defense, LB, Kyle Woestmann is the sole player to be recognized. Vandy’s non-Conference schedule will help them toward bowl eligibility, as they do not face an opponent from a power conference (Temple, U-Mass, Charleston Southern (FCS), & Old Dominion). Last year the Commodores beat Tennessee, 14-10, Kentucky, 22-6, Florida, 34-17, & Georgia, 31-27. The best one can say is that it will be unlikely for them to repeat that Herculean effort in 2014!

6. Missouri: Last year Missouri had one of the best and clearly, one of the tallest receiver corps in the country, Dorial Green-Beckham, 6’6” , Marcus Lucas 6’5” & L’Damian Washington 6’4”. All three are gone for the 2014, Lucas & Washington to graduation & Green-Beckham was dismissed from the team for multiple violations. The unexpected loss of Beckham was a “sucker punch” that the Tigers will not be able to overcome during the 2014 season. With Texas transfer, WR, Darius White 6’3, coupled with Green-Beckham, MU would have been just fine at Wide Out, now, not so much! QB James Franklin is gone, enter Maty Mauk, again Missouri is fine, as Mauk, aside from his unorthodox throwing motion, will be an effective signal caller.  RB, Henry Josey was a remarkable story in 2013, out for the 2012 season with one of the worst knee injuries the team surgeon had ever seen; Josey under went multiple surgeries and was able to return for his final year. HJ rushed for 1207 yards in 2013, quiet a journey & success story. This year, Russell Hansbrough, who rushed for 714 yards last year will be the starter. The O-Line has three starters back led by Center, Evan Boehm and should be able to reproduce last years numbers. The D-Line features, DE, Marcus Golden, the linebackers will look to MLB, Kentrell Brothers for leadership, & the secondary’s best player is Safety, Braylon Webb. Missouri will start the season 3-1, South Dakota State, @ Toledo, Central Florida (a Loss to UCF at home) and Indiana. The Tigers then take a trip to the other Columbia, to face South Carolina and a real difficult beginning to their 2014 SEC season!

7. Kentucky: The Wildcats have gone 4-20 the past two years and their seems to be little relief headed Mark Stoops’ Team’s way. The Cats have currently lost 16 straight games in the vaunted SEC; their last conference win was in 2011, a 10-7 nail-biter against Tennessee, who outgained the UK, 276 to 215, but turned the ball over three times to Kentucky’s none. Kentucky does return 15 starters from a year ago, seven on Offense & eight on defense. The best player on the offensive side of the ball is LT, Darrian Miller, while on defense, the Cats feature, DE’s Alvin DuPree & Za’Darius Smith. UK should go 3-1 in their Non-Conference games (beating UT Martin, Ohio, & ULM), losing to only Louisville in the season finale. To go Bowling this year, kentucky will have to beat Vandy at home and then pull an upset, make that two upsets, within the Might SEC!

Up Next: SEC West Division

Posted in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt |