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

Pat Sullivan Discusses Gordie Gillespie’s Ten Commandments of Coaching

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Things to check out as the College Football Season approaches!

The Top Power Five (P5) Recruiting Programs. We look at three sites (247 Sports, Rivals, & ESPN) over 4 years and establish a rank in each of the three (3) sites, independently arrived at from the other two (2). We then take the three (3) averages and factor them together to establish a composite ranking. Here are the results

Some points of interest:

UGA (Georgia) not Alabama, is the current leader in the recruiting wars (2018 thru 2021 Recruiting Classes)

The SEC has 5 of the top 10 recruiting programs

The B-12 has two (2) Texas & Oklahoma

The B-10 has one (1) Ohio State, The PAC-12 has one (1) Oregon, & the ACC has one (1) Clemson!

The highest ranked Independent is Notre Dame @ 11

Texas is currently ranked 7th and has been a top 10 recruiting program for several years, yet since 2009 (13-1 record; lost to Bama in BCS Championship, 37-21) they have had One (1) ten (10) win season (2018), Four (4) losing seasons: 2016 (5-7), 2015 (5-7), 2014 (6-7), & 2010 (5-7), and have to lost to their Arch-Rival Oklahoma (OU), nine (9) times in the last thirteen (13) games / this coupled with the fact, that Texas recruits better than OU /adds to the frustration of the Longhorn fanbase!

Nebraska is also somewhat of a mystery, they are the best recruiting program in the B-10 West Division and have yet to win the West (the time they made the B-10 Championship Game they represented the Leaders Divisions / lost to the Legends Divisions Champ, Wisconsin, 70-31), In Fact, the Huskers recruit much better then Wisconsin (Bucky finally broke into are Top 25 this cycle) yet, have lost to the Badgers 8 times in 9 games, including, 7 straight!

When one looks at the Top 30 Recruiting Programs, the SEC has 12 teams or 40% of the Top 30, while 86% of their league (12 of the 14 teams) recruits in the Top 30! The next best conference (by Recruiting Result) is the B-10, Six (6 )teams (half of the SEC’s 12), the ACC is next with five (5) teams, the P-12 has four (4), the B-12 has two (2) teams, & One (1) IND, Notre Dame!

Before I had the results of this study, I would have thought that Kansas would be at the bottom of the Recruiting List. They are not, in fact, they are recruiting better than Kansas State (& six (6) other P5 Programs, as well), which for me, was a shocker!

As time permits, compare/contrast this recruiting data (P5 recruiting rankings of the 66 teams), with our Top 25, Power 5, Team Rankings to see distinctions between how well teams recruit compared to where they are ranked / how they preform?

OU is the 8th best Recruiting Program (fact) yet on SCFP, we have then ranked as the 3rd best team heading into 2021 (opinion)!

While LSU is the 5th best Recruiting Program (fact, by the criteria we apply) yet, on SCFP are ranked as the12th best team as we begin 2021 (opinion, related to QB issues)!

The possibilities can be endless…. Enjoy!

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PAC 12 Best Non-Conference (NC) Games in 2021

Washington: The Huskies travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan, in the Big House. This is, without question, Washington’s best NC game in 2021. UW is 5-7 all-time vs Michigan, yet has won four (4) of the last six (6) games. The teams played a home & home series in 2001 & 2002, the home team was victorious in both games. The Huskies are 1-3 @ Michigan Stadium! Washington also plays Montana (Big Sky / B-Sky / Football Championship Subdivision / FCS) team & Arkansas State (Sun Belt Conference / SBC)

Oregon: UO has taken a big, big bite of the apple, as their best NC game in 2021, is against Ohio State! The Duck’s are 0-9 vs the Bucks, with their last loss coming in the inaugural CFP Championship Game, 42-20, in 2014. These teams have played in some big games recently; prior to the Ducks losing in the CFP Championship Game, they lost to OSU in the Rose Bowl, 26-17. Now, Oregon will have to travel cross country to take on one of the elite programs in all of college football and beat them (failed in nine (9) previous tries) in their home arena (Horse Shoe). UO also takes on Fresno State (Mountain West Conference / MWC) & Stony Brook (Colonial Athletic Association / CAA / FCS)

Stanford: In my humble opinion, Stanford has the most challenging NC schedule in the P-12! All three (3) of their NC games are against Power 5 (P5) programs. Kansas State (@ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tx), out of the B-12, Vanderbilt, an SEC East team, & Notre Dame, an Independent, that has made the College Football Playoff’s twice (2) in the past three (3) years! While the entire NC schedule is tuff (K-State & Vandy are on the road) it is clear, that the Irish (@ Stanford Stadium) are their toughest test in their Non-Conference battles (ND leads the series, 20-13). That said, Standard has beaten the Domers 7 of the last 11, and at one point, the Cardinal had won 7 of 9 (they have dropped the last two (2) games, 38-17, in 2018 & 45-24, in 2019! The Cardinal last beat the Irish, 38-20, in 2017 @ Stanford Stadium!

Washington State: The Cougars (WSU) play BYU (also the Cougars) on Pullman’s, GESA Field. As mentioned, SCFP considers the other Cougars’ (BYU) as a P5 opponent for scheduling purposes. Wazzou is 1-3 all-time vs Brigham Young University, the teams first played in the 1981 Holiday Bowl, BYU prevailed, 38-36 and they last played in 2012, BYU won that game, as well, 30-6! WSU lone win was in 1989, 46-41, in Provo’s, Cougar Stadium (now Lavell Edwards Stadium)! The Cougars (WSU) play, Utah State (MWC) & Portland State (B-Sky / FCS) to complete their 3 game NC schedule!

California: The Golden Bears (Cal) take on the Horned Frogs (TCU), which constitutes their best NC game in 2021! These Universities have met only once on the gridiron, a TCU win, 10-7 (OT), in the 2018, Cheez-it Bowl! Cal is 11-15 all-time vs current B-12 teams. That said, Cal has taken down the B-12 “Flagship’, Texas, the last two (2) times they have kicked-it-off vs the “Horns”, 45-44, in 2015 & 50-43, in 2016! Cal completes their NC schedule with, Nevada (MWC) & Sacramento State (B-Sky / FCS)!

Oregon State: The Beavers play their best NC opponent, Purdue (B-10), in their season opener @ Purdue’s / West Layfette, IN / in Ross Ade Stadium! These P-12 / B-10 rivals have met only once, in 1967 (Purdue all time great, Leroy Keys played in that game / sadly, Leroy passes away this past April, 15)! OSU shocked the #2 Boilermakers, 22-14! In fact, OSU is the only team (ever) to play three (3) teams that were ranked in the top three (3) and not lose any of the games (#2 Purdue, beat #1 SC, 3-0, & tied #2 UCLA, 16-16)! OSU rounds out their NC tilts with Hawaii (MWC) & Idaho (B-Sky / FCS) in Corvallis!

USC: USC best NC every year is ND (one exception would be 2016, when the Trojans scheduled Alabama, for reasons known but to God)! Ok, I get it, step up & take on teams like; UGA, LSU, FL, OU, OSU, even Clemson … but Bama? The Trojans trail the Irish in this series, 47-36-5. This intersectional rivalry has been a series of runs by one team or the other. ND had runs of 7 unbeaten, (6 wins 1 tie / 1940 thru 1949, did not play in in 43, 44, 45), The Irish won 5 straight (1957 thru 61) & Notre Dame beat USU 11 straight times (1983 thru 1993)! The Trojans, between 1967 & 1982, took down the Irish 12 times, lost 2, & tied 2 in 16 years. From 2002 through 2009 the Trojans beat the Irish 7/8 straight times (2005 SC win was vacated)! ND is currently riding a 3 game win streak! The schools claim 22 national Championships, 181 all-Americans, 87 College Football Hall of Famers & 25 Pro Football Hall of Famers. Finally, no rivalry in college football history has as many player taken in the NFL Draft, SC 502 & ND 495 (997 players!) SC also takes on BYU (IND) & San Jose State (MWC)!

Utah: The Utes best NC game is the “Holy War” a Mormon showdown with BYU. UT has beaten the Cougars nine (9) straight times, BYU last took down the Utes in 2009, 26-23, in OT, when both teams were in the MWC!. Last year was the 2nd time the teams did not play since the 1946 season, they did not play in 2015 in the regular season, yet did meet in the Las Vegas Bowl, Utah 35 BYU 28! Utah rounds out its season with San Diego State (MWC) & Weber State (B-Sky / FCS).

Arizona State: The Sun Devils game @ BYU is the biggest NC challenge they face in 2021. That said, the Devils have won 20 of the last 25 meetings with the Cougars and are 20-7 all-time vs Brigham Young, Yet, ASU has lost three (3) of their last four (4) visits to Provo and two (2) in a row! Last time the Sun Devils were in Lavell Edwards Stadium (actually Cougar Stadium then) was in 1998, a 26-6, lost to the Cougars! ASU also faces, Southern Utah (B-Sky / FCS) & UNLV (MWC) to round off the NC games.

UCLA: This is Skip Kelly’s best team! He arrived in 2018 and went 3-9, in 2019, improved, slightly, to 4-8, and last year (2020) his team was 3-4! They return 20 starters (10 on both sides of the ball) including their QB. The Bruins were close to being undefeated in that Covid mess, they lost to Colorado 48-42, Oregon 38-36, SC 43-38, & Stanford, 48-47! Their best NC game, in 2021, is a big step up, as the host, LSU, in the Rose Bowl! This is the 1st meeting between the schools and their 1st SEC opponent, since the UCLANS shocked Texas A&M, 45-44, after following behind, 44-10, late in the 3rd quarter (35 unanswered)! UCLA has played Texas A&M (2016 & 17) & Oklahoma (2018 & 19), so they are quite familiar with the type of talent & skill they will be lining-up-against on 9/4/21! The Bruins also will kick-it-off, @ home, against Hawaii & Fresno State (MWC) teams!

Colorado: The Buffs are joining Nebraska (B-10) & Oklahoma (B-12 … for now / SEC … for later), to reminisce about their times together in the B-12! Colorado will be playing Texas A&M (SEC) in Denver’s, Mile High Stadium. These teams were, like OU & the Huskers, conference mates in the ‘Old’ B-12! The last nine (9) times they played, Colorado has won six (6)! This is the 1st time they have played @ a neutral site. CU will play Northern Colorado (B-Sky / FCS) & host Minnesota (B-10), on Sept. 18th, to complete their NC schedule!

Arizona: The Wildcats best NC game will be played in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, vs BYU! This is the 1st of five (5) games the PAC-12 has scheduled against the Cougars (BYU)! Arizona leads the series, 12-11-1. The Wildcats last opened their season @ a neutral site, in 2016, Phoenix’s Chase Field / Fiesta Bowl, losing to BYU, 18-16! The Cats also take on San Diego State (MWC) & Northern Arizona (B-Sky / FCS)!

The Game Simulator: Go to Head to Head compare these teams

PAC 12 Conference Page: Complete PAC 12 schedule

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Big 12 Best Non-Conference (NC) Games in 2021

The B-12, P-10, & B-10 all play 9 conference games, so three (3) NC games in a season, while the ACC & SEC play 8 conference games & part take in 4 NC contests.

Oklahoma: OU best NC tilt is against Nebraska (B-10) in 2021. This game and its site were scheduled to reenact the “Game of the Century” played, a half a century ago (1971 in Norman), when then #1 Nebraska played #2 Oklahoma. It remains the best college game I ever seen: Huskers 35 Sooners 31, in a game for the ages! The teams last played in Oklahoma, 12 years ago, a game the Cornhuskers would like to forget, OU put a 62 spot on the Black Shirts (NU once feared defense). Oklahoma also plays @ Tulane (that’s right, AT Tulane), an American Athletic Conference (AAC) team & Western Carolina, a member of the Southern Conference (SoCon), a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS / 63 scholarships) team, as compared the the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) all being 85 scholarships teams!

Iowa State: The Cyclones best NC game is typically their in-state battle with Iowa! This is the 68 meeting for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, ISU trails in the series, 22-45 and has dropped 5 in a row. ISU outgained the Hawks in their 2019 battle by 105 yards, yet were -2 in Turnovers (TO) and fumbled away a 4th quarter punt, that the Hawks turned into a, one point (1) winning margin, 18-17! This was the 1st, one (1) point win by either team! The Cyclones also play Northern Iowa, Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC / FCS) & @ UNLV, is it the B-12’s year to travel to Group of 5 (G5) venues?

Texas: The ‘Horns vs the Hogs’, I don’t know about you, but I’m already ‘fired up’! These teams (Texas & Arkansas) have only met 5 times since 1991 (when the Southwest Conference / SWC, folded up it tent), with Arkansas winning three (3) of those games (27-6 in 2000; 38-28, in 2003, & 31-7, in 2014) while Texas has prevailed twice (2), 22-20, in 2004 (Last game played in Fayetteville) & 52-10, in 2008! Texas wants to play ‘Big Boy FB’ in the SEC West? OK, here is your chance, last year, Arkansas beat Ole Miss, 33-21 & Mississippi State, 21-14, while losing to Auburn, 30-28, LSU, 27-24, & Texas A&M, 42-31. Hey Texas, this game is not a ‘walk in the park’, it’s more like a visit to the Lion’s Den’! The Longhorns also have NC games scheduled with Louisiana, Sun Belt Conference (SBC) & Rice, Conference-USA (C-USA)!

TCU (Texas Christian University): The Horned Frogs are welcoming the P-12’s, California Golden Bears, to Fort Worth & Amon G. Carter Stadium. This is only the 2nd meeting between these schools, their 1st and only meeting was in the 2018, ‘Cheez-it Bowl, a 10-7, TCU victory! The Frogs also take on two (2) other NC opponents, Duquesne, Northeast Conference (NEC / FCS) program & their annual rival, Southern Methodist (SMU / AAC member). This year’s game is the 100th meeting between these Universities, with TCU leading the series 51-41-7! We struggled with identifying Cal or SMU as TCU best NC opponent, before settling on the Golden Bears!

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys do not play a Power 5 (P5) opponent in 2021! However, they do play Boise State in Idaho, @ Albertsons Stadium (The Blue Turf). The fact is BSU is better then many (not sure what many means, yet we are going with … many) P5 teams. Last time OSU played the Broncos, was in 2018, a 44-21 victory in Stillwater’s, Boone Pickens’ Stadium! OSU also has NC games with Tulsa (AAC) & Missouri State (MVFC / FCS).

West Virginia: Another struggle to identify who is WV’s best NC opponent in the 2021 season, Maryland (Mike Lockley, HC, is recruiting very well) or Justin Fuente’s, Virginia Tech. These two teams, Maryland & V-Tech, have split their last 2 games (VT won in 2009, 36-9 & UM won in 2013, 27-24) After much discussion we decided on VT, as they have clearly been the better program in recent years! The Mountaineers lead the all-time series, 28-23-1 and the last time these teams played was Sept 3, 2017, VT 31 WV 24! West Virginia’s other NC game is with Long Island University (NEC / FCS).

Texas Tech: TT is one (1) of two (2) B-12 teams (Oklahoma State, is the other), who elected not to schedule a P5 opponent for the 21 season! The Red Raiders best NC game will be played at a neutral site, NRG Stadium, located in Houston, against, none other than, the Houston Cougars (AAC). These teams are old SWC rivals, with Houston leading the all-time series, 18-13 -1. That said, Tech has won the last three (3) meetings, 63-49, in 2018, 27-24, in 2017, & 35-20, in 2010! TT has scheduled Stephen F. Austin, a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) team. The WAC is returning to Division I football (FCS) in part-time status for the 2021 season and full activation for the 2022 season! The Raiders also have a NC date with Florida International (FIU) on 9/18/21!

Kansas State: K-State’s best NC game is against P-12 North Division power, Stanford. The game will be played at neutral site, in/at Arlington’s, AT&T Stadium! The teams last played in 2016, @ The Farm (so called ‘The Farm’ because Stanford was built on a stock farm in Palo Alto, CA, on land donated by Leland & Jane Stanford), a game won by the Cardinal, 26-13. The Wildcats last played in a neutral site game in 2003, @ Arrowhead Stadium, for the B-12 Championship. KSU took down the Mighty Sooners, 35-7, say what? Yap, 35-7 (OU rolled into the championship game with a 12-0 record) and limped out @ 12-1! The Cats also line it up against, Southern Illinois (MVSC / FCS) & Nevada (MWC) in NC games!

Baylor: The Bears best NC game in 2021 is against BYU, @ home in Waco! On SCFP, we count BYU & Army as part of the P5 (now before you start throwing things, you should know, so does the SEC & B-10 for scheduling purposes / while the ACC counts BYU, but not Army)! we agree and count BYU is a P5 opponent vs Baylor, although the B-12 is silent on the matter. This is the 3rd meeting between the teams, they split the 1st two (2) games, both clubs winning at Home (Baylor won in 1983, 40-36 and BYU in 1984, 47-13)! Baylor also plays Texas State (SBC) & Texas Southern (SLC / FCS) in their 2 other NC tilts!

Kansas: The Jayhawks NC games presented a similar challenge to what we faced in identifying Ole Miss’ best NC game! The Rebels play Louisville, from a P5 conference (ACC) & Liberty, a G5 Independent; after much discussion, we determined that Liberty was the better NC opponent! Kansas plays Duke (ACC) & Coastal Carolina (SBC), again, after much discussion, we determined that Coastal Carolina, a group of 5 team is a better opponent then Duke, a P5 team! Kansas also plays, Austin Peay (OVC / FCS) on September 11 at home!

The Game Simulator: Go to Head to Head compare these teams

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SEC Best Non-Conference (NC) Games for the 2021 Season

The Web-address, listed below, will take you to the SEC’s 2021 schedule. A Red dot indicates a conference game, Yellow dot a Power 5 (P5) opponent, Green dot signifies a Group of 5 (G5) team, & a light Blue dot identifies a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) squad.

Alabama: The Tide is coming off another College Football Playoff, National Championship in 2020, beating Notre Dame, 31-14 & Ohio State 52-24. Since we entered the CFP Era, Bama has won 3 of the 7 championships, beating Clemson, 45-40; Georgia, 26-23, & OSU. Alabama has also played for the championship on two (2) other occasions! The Tide’s best NC game in 2021 is its opener vs Miami, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), in Atlanta. The last two (2) times these teams played, the winner won the National Championship, the Canes beat the Tide in the 1990 (1989 season) Sugar Bowl, 33-25 & in the 1993 Sugar Bowl (1992 season) the Tide rolled right thru the Hurricanes, 34-13! Bama’s other NC game are with, Mercer, Southern Conference (SoCon), Southern Miss, Conference USA (C-USA) & New Mexico State, Independent (IND)!

Texas A&M: The Aggies best NC game is against an old B-12 rival, Colorado, in Denver’s Empower Field @ Mile High Stadium! These teams have played nine (9) times as B-12 rivals, the Buffs lead the series, 6-3 & won the last game played in 2009, 35-34, when both teams were in the B-12. This game has a couple of 1st, it will their 1st meeting on a neutral field and their 1st meeting with A&M representing the SEC & Colorado flying P-12 flags! A&M also lines up against the following teams in NC games; Kent State, Mid-American Conference (MAC), New Mexico, Mountain West Conference (MWC), & Prairie View A&M, Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC)!

LSU: The Tigers are heading west to play their best NC game in 2021! LSU to the Rose Bowl, to take on the Bruins of UCLA. This is the 1st meeting of these two (2) storied programs. LSU has open their season 4 times vs the P-12 since 2004 and won all 4 games! The two (2) most recent, 2009, the Tigers beat Washington, 31-23, in Seattle and in 2011, they then took down Oregon, 40-27, @ Dallas’ AT&T Stadium! UCLA is 18-15-4 all-time vs current SEC teams! The last time the Bruins played an SEC team was in 2017 and were trailing Texas A&M 44-10 in the 3rd quarter and then, shockingly, scored 35 unanswered points to beat the Aggies, 45-44! UCLA has a ton of athleticism, the quickness, speed & finesse to play right with the Tigers! The question to be resolved is do they have physicality to hold up against LSU’s offense & defense fronts! The Tigers also take on, McNeese State, Southland Conference (SLC), Central Michigan (MAC), & Louisiana Monroe / ULM, Sun Belt Conference (SBC)

Ole Miss: I had to think about this one! The Rebels are taking on Louisville out of the ACC, a Power 5 (P5) opponent, so it seemed like the logical choice to identify the Cardinals as the Rebels best NC opponent! However, Mississippi also plays Liberty, who went 11-1 in 2020 and gave Coastal Carolina its only loss in 2020! Further, Liberty’s coach is Hugh Freeze, who also coached @ Ole Miss from 2012 thru 2016! What decided who is Ole Miss best NC opponent, for me, was Virginia Tech! The Hokies beat Louisville last year (2020), 42-35, while Liberty got by VT, 38-35! Hugh Freeze was/is also a factor in this choice, So … SCFP took a Group 5 (G5) program over a P5, as the Rebels best NC opponent in 2021! The Rebels also play, Austin Peay, Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) & Tulane (AAC), Willie Fritz’ team!

Auburn: This Tiger opponent was/is, a no brainer, as the Tigers biggest NC challenge in 2021. The War Eagle hits the airways and has a schedule stop in Happy Valley, to do some big game hunting in Pennsylvania! You got it! One of the best NC match-ups of the 2021 season, Auburn @ Penn State! This is the first time since 1931, that the Tigers line up against a B-10 team in the regular season! PSU has played the Tigers twice (2) before, Auburn won the Capital One Bowl, 13-9, in 2002 while the Nittany Lions took down the Tigers, 43-14, in the 1995 Outback Bowl! Auburn also plays NC games against, Akron (MAC), Alabama State (SWAC), & Georgia State (SBC)!

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs play host to NC State, who is their toughest NC opponent in 2021! These teams last met in 2015, MSU overpowered the Wolfpack, 51-28, in the Belk Bowl! These teams have met 6 times, the last 3 games have been in bowls. NC State is 1-7 in their last 8 vs the SEC, yet has split the last 6 games with MSU! NC State most recent win was in the 1995 Peach Bowl, 28-24. The last time the Wolf Pack was in Starkville, during the regular season, was in 1931! Been awhile! The Bulldogs NC play also includes, Louisiana Tech (C-USA), Georgia State (SBC), & Memphis (AAC).

Arkansas: This is another NC ‘No Brainer’, as the Hogs are hosting the Texas Longhorns, an old Southwest Conference foe! These teams last played in Fayetteville in 2004, Texas survived, 22-20. While their last meeting was in the 2014, Texas Bowl, the Razorbacks did that ‘Down Horns’ sign, whipping the Longhorns, 31-7! That said, Texas leads the series and then some, 56-22. A game in this series that I watched and remember as one of the greatest college football games that I have seen, was the 1969 battle, Texas 15 Arkansas 14! President Nixon went into the Texas locker room and declared them “National Champs”. The Horns went on to survive ND, 21-17, in the Cotton Bowl. Research why #2 Penn State declined a bid to play Texas in the 1970 Cotton Bowl. Interesting Read!! The Hogs also play Rice (C-USA), Georgia Southern (SBC), & Arkansas Pine Bluff (SWAC)

Georgia: UGA is playing in the best NC game of the 2021 and easily the best, no question! The Dawgs are taking on Clemson, in Charlotte’s, Bank of America Stadium! That said, Georgia has dominated this series, 42-18-4 and won the most recently played game, in 2014, 45-21! The Bulldogs have won 7 straight season openers, interestingly, their last loss was in 2013, 38-35, to Clemson! UGA has won 6 of the last 7 with Clemson. Both of these teams are ranked in the Top 5 in every preseason publication I have seen and on our site (SCFP) , we have Georgia #2 & Clemson #4! The last four ACC championships have been played in Charlette’s, Bank of America Stadium, all won by Clemson! An advantage? I think so… This is must see TV for any and all college FB fans! UGA also kicks it off NC with: UAB (C-USA), Charleston Southern, Big South Conference (BSC) & Georgia Tech (ACC)

Florida: The Gators annual battle with Florida State is the usual choice in identifying their toughest NC game! While Florida State has struggle lately (Offense line & QB issues) they are ranked, on SCFP, as the 17th best recruiting program in the country! The Fact that they have addressed the QB issue with two players, McKenzie Milton (UCF Transfer from the undefeated team) and Jordan Travis is a clear step back toward prominence. Their O-Line has all 5 starters back and if they stay healthy, will be improved! The Gators also play NC games against, Florida Atlantic / FAU (C-USA), South Florida / USF (AAC), & Samford (SoCon). Florida’s new coach, Danny Mullen, has won the ‘Sunshine Showdown’ or as others call it, the “Chomp (Gator bite) & Chop (Seminole Axe) Game, the 2 times he has led UF into the game”. While the home team is 3-6 in the last nine (9), the favorite has won five (5) straight!

Kentucky: The tuffest NC game the Wildcats will play in 2021 is against in state rival, Louisville (ACC)! the Cats lead the series, 17-15 and the teams have played every year from 1994 thru 2019 (Covid interrupted the series in 2020). The 2016 game was close, UK won a, 41-38, nail-biter @ Louisville’s, Cardinal Stadium, however, close affairs have not been the case since that game. In 2017, Louisville won, 44-17, @ Kentucky’s Kroger Field, in 2018, UK ran roughshod over L-Ville, 56-10, at Cardinal Stadium, & finally in 2019, UK blasted UL, 45-21, on their home turf, Kentucky’s, Kroger Field! UK also plays NC games with, ULM (SBC), Chattanooga (SoCon), & New Mexico State (IND)

Missouri: This is an unusual match-up between the SEC / ACC, who do play one another often, however, not with this game. The Tigers most challenging NC tilt is with Boston College, an ACC team, out of the northeast, that do not typically venture into SEC territory for NC games! In fact, reviewing the Game List on SCFP (2009 thru 2020), BC had not played an SEC team in those 12 years. The last time the Eagles took on an SEC team was in 2008, losing to Vanderbilt, 16-14, in the Music City Bowl. Missouri’s scheduling timing is not great, as this is the best BC team since 2007, when they won 11 games! Mizzou also plays NC games against, Central Michigan (MAC), SE Missouri State (OVC), & North Texas (C-USA).

South Carolina: Everyone in the country, even the most casual of college football enthusiasts, knows that ‘the game’ in South Carolina is the Gamecocks vs the Clemson Tigers! To say that this has been a series of streaks, would, at best, be understating the recent results of this in-state battle. In the last 11 games, Clemson has won 6 in a row (2014 thru 2019) and USC won the 1st 5 of those last 11 (2009 thru 2013). Clemson has a commanding lead in the all-time series, 71-42-4. The Gamecocks also play, Eastern Illinois (OVC), @ East Carolina (AAC), & Troy (SBC).

Tennessee: This is another, say what, game between the SEC / ACC, as the Vols take on an ACC team, from the northeast, Pitt, for their best NC game in 2021! TN has played Pitt twice (2) in their long history and both games were played in the 1980’s. A common thread that connects the universities is, Johnny Majors, who coached at both schools. The current coaches have a history, Josh Heupel, when @ UCF, beat Naduzzi’s Pitt Panthers, 45-14, in 2018, the next year (2019) Pitt made up for that 31 point loss by taking UCF down, 35-34! The Volunteers also battle 3 other NC opponents, U-Mass (IND), Western Michigan (MAC), & New Hampshire (CAA)!

Vanderbilt: This NC game should be referred to as the “High Quiz Bowl” as Vandy, takes on fellow scholars from the Pac-12, Stanford. This is the Commodores best NC of 2021. The game is the 1st meeting between these highly respected academic institutions of higher learning. In fact, this is the first time in Vanderbilt football history, that they are hosting a team from the P-12. The Cardinal are 4-2-1 vs current teams from the SEC and this Vandy road trip, constitutes their 1st appearance in an SEC arena. Stanford’s other games vs the SEC were played @ neutral sites! Vandy also has NC dates with, East Tennessee State (SoCon)), @ Colorado State (MWC), & U-Conn (IND)

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Big Ten’s Best Non-Conference (NC) Opponents in 2021

Illinois: The Illini’s best NC opponent in 2021 is a team out of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Virginia Cavaliers. In 2020, the Cavaliers were 5-5 in, with their best win being a 44-41, a shocker over North Carolina!

Indiana: The Hoosiers are hosting SCFP’s #1 ranked Group of 5 (G5) team, Cincinnati Bearcats, who were 9-1 in 2020, losing to Georgia, 24-21, in the 2020 Peach Bowl! This match up features the best QB’s in the B-10, IU’s Michael Penix & the best QB in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), Cincy’s Desmond Ridder!

Iowa: The Hawks annual in-state battle with Iowa State is heating up! ISU’s Coach, Matty Campbell, has the Cyclones widely regarded as the 2nd best team in the B-12, behind only the mighty Sooners (OU) (whom they split with in 2020, winning, 37-30, in the regular season & losing in the B-12 Championship Game, 27-21)! Iowa has beaten the Cyclones 5 straight! The game is in Ames this year and ISU means to get this one in the win column! Big game for the B-12!

Maryland: Opens their 2021 season against a B-12 opponent, the West Virginia Mountaineers, a team that has beaten the Terps 9 times in their last 10 meetings. WV is clearly their best NC game, as they play Kent State (1-20 vs the current B-10) and an FCS team, Howard University (MEAC), a team they have played and beaten twice (2), 52-13, in 1950 & 79-0 in 2019! Maryland is recruiting better, we’ll see how/if it translates into playing better?

Michigan: The Wolverines best NC tilt is @ home, in the Big House vs Washington (P-12), in 2021! UM hosts all three of their NC games, the other two (2) are against the Mid-American Conference’s (MAC), Northern Illinois & Western Michigan. UW is picked, by many, to win their division (P-12 North) and the P-12 championship vs USC (projected P-12 South Champ). Coach Harbaugh needs to win this game, for all kinds of reasons. In 2021, the Wolves play league games @ MSU, @ Wisconsin, @ IU, @ Nebraska ( Frost best team since his return) & @ PSU! Oh yeah, don’t forget that ‘Team down South”! Michigan can easily lose four (4) games in the B-10. They absolutely need this one!

Michigan State: The Spartans best NC game is @ Miami and I don’t mean the one in Ohio! Phil Steele has MSU finishing last in the B-10’s East Division, not a place where you find the Spartans, projected or finishing, in recent memory (2020 / Covid aside)! New Coach, Mel Tucker, will line up vs the Canes, with an MSU program that has not beaten Miami in any of the four (4) games the teams have played (last in 1989)! That said, the Spartans have lost the last 3 games to the Hurricane by a total of 14 points / 6 or less in each of those battles! For all intent and purpose, this is Mel Tucker, 1st season in East lancing; he did not have a spring practice in 2020 and in his first full recruiting season, the Spartans are ranked 22nd in the class of 2022 (17 recruits in the house)!

Minnesota: The Gophers schedule mimics the Wolverines, in that their best NC game is against a P-12 club, Colorado (4-2 in 2020) and then, they play two (2) MAC teams at home, Miami OH & Bowling Green. A significant difference is the Colorado game is in Boulder and the Buffalos are, put, simply, not the Huskies. The last time the Golden Gophers traveled to Bolder was in 1991, Goldy was annihilated, 58-0, however, the following year (Minnesota was a 20 point dog) the game was a fist fight with the Buffs escaping with a 1 point win, 21-2. Colorado leads the series 3-0!

Nebraska: The Huskers would like to have their 1971 team as they are traveling to Norman to take on the Sooners! In fact, the game was schedule to commemorate the 1971 battle in Norman (The Game of the Century, actually it was), #1 Nebraska and Johnny Rogers vs #2 OU & Greg Pruitt, a game won by the Huskers, 35-31! The Cornhusker’s other NC games are with Buffalo & Fordham, so pretty sure there is no argument about Nebraska’s toughest NC tilt! These teams last played in 2010 for the B-12 title, a game won by OU, 23-20 & the last time the Huskers were in Norman was 2008. Nebraska would like to forget that road trip, as they were hammered, 62-28, by the Sooners! OU leads the series, 45-38-3!

Northwestern: I, for one, think it is about time that we recognize that the best coaches in the B-10 are not in Columbus, Ann Arbor, or Happy Valley, but are actually roaming the sideline in two (2) other B-10 venues, Iowa City (Kirk Ferentz) & Evanston (Pat Fitzgerald). Ferentz is 168-106 while Fitz is 108-81 at schools that are clearly, no question about it, developmental programs. These guys recruit to a system, coach to a philosophy, and hold players to a standard! Impressive! This year NW’s best NC opponent is the ACC’s Duke University. The Wildcats other two (2) NC games are vs Ohio (MAC) & the Indiana State Sycamores (Larry Bird forever), a program that plays in the best conference in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVSC)!

Ohio State: The Bucks take on Oregon (P-12) @ the Horse Shoe, in week two (2) of the 2021 season. Brutus has ‘kicked it off’ to the Oregon Ducks 9 times and had duck for dinner 9 times! That’s right, as good as Oregon has been, they have never beaten OSU! The last time the teams played was in the 1st CFP Championship Game, a 42-20, Buckeye victory! The Bucks other NC games are vs Tulsa, an American Athletic Conference (AAC) team and Akron (MAC), a team out of the East Division of the Mid-American! This is a huge game for Oregon, win here coupled with a P-12 Championship and the PAC-12’s CFP drought is likely over!

Penn State: Anytime the B-10 has a shot at beating an SEC team, the game is BIG, BIG BIG, & that includes Vanderbilt (if nothing else but by SEC association)! The Lions & Tigers have played twice (2), the teams split the two (2) games, PSU won in 1995, 43-14, in the Outback Bowl & Auburn won in the 2002, 13-9, in the Capital One Bowl! Last SEC team to venture into happy Valley, was Alabama, in 2011, a 27-11 winner over the lions! The Nittany Lions other NC games are vs a MAC team, Ball State & an FCS opponent, Villanova, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Purdue: No question about who the Boilers best NC game is with this year, an old rival, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Purdue trails in the series, 26-56-2 The Irish have won nine of the last 10 and 7 in a row. The last time Purdue Pete’ (Boiler Mascot) wandered into South Bend was 2014, the Boilers trailed by only 3 at halftime, but were shutout in the 2nd half, losing, 30-14! The last time the Boilermakers were able to act on, the their Mantra “Boil up” @ Notre Dame Stadium, was in 2007, a 33-19, win. Purdue’s other NC games are against Oregon State (P-12) & U-Conn, an Independent (IND).

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are heading to New York for their best NC opponent, the Syracuse Orange from the ACC’s, the Atlantic Division! These teams are former Big East rivals, playing every year from 1980 through 2012! Syracuse leads the series, 30-12-1, however, the Knights have won 6 of the 8 games, including their last meeting in 2012, 23-15! Rutgers’ other two (2) NC games are with, Temple (AAC) & Delaware, an FCS team out of the CAA!

Wisconsin: A game that should be played a least twice (2) in a decade, has gone 56 years w/o the University of Wisconsin playing Notre Dame. The teams were scheduled to play in 2020 (Green Bay) but Covid forced the game’s cancellation! This year, the teams are scheduled to play on Sept. 25th in Chicago’s Soldier Field! The Badgers trail in the series, 6-8-2, with the last meeting in 1964, an Irish win, 31-7 (ND coach Ara Parseghian). The last time the teams played at a neutral site, was also @ Soldier Field, a 19-0 ND Win, Oct 19, 1929 (ND Coach Knute Rockne). The Stock Market would crash in a few days (Black Thursday, Oct. 24th & Black Thursday, Oct. 29th) These teams 1st played in 1990, UW destroyed ND 54-0, the teams played again in 1904, Bucky got nastier, winning 58-0, and again in 1905, the Badgers shutout the Irish, 21-0 (the 04 & 05 games were played in Milwaukee)! Then in 1917, the schools played to a, 0-0, tie in Madison( the U.S. entered WWI that same year! Then in 1924, the Irish finally were able to beat the Badgers, 38-3, this game was also played in Madison! Bucky won in 1928, 22-6, once again in Madison. Then the Irish won 6 in a row, three (3) in South Bend & three (3) in Mad Town! UW got it going again in 1962 & 63 winning, 17-9, @ Camp Randall & 14-9 (closest game) 14-9 @ Notre Dame Stadium! As mentioned, ND won the last time the schools met, 31-7!

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College Football Week Zero Games, Saturday 8/28/21

There are 7 games being played this year in/on week zero, 4 of the games find FBS teams locking horns: 1) UConn @ Fresno State, 2) Hawaii @ UCLA, 3) UTEP @ New Mexico State, & 4) the lone Power 5 (P5) match-up, has Nebraska traveling to Illinois.

Their is one game where an FCS (63 scholarship program) team takes on an FBS (85 scholarship program) opponent; Southern Utah @ San Jose State.

Finally their are 2 FCS vs FCS tilts; North Carolina Central @ Alcorn State & Eastern Illinois @ Indiana State!

We will begin with the FCS games!

North Carolina Central (MEAC) vs Alcorn State (SWAC): The MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) & SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) are commonly referred to as the Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU)! The MEAC has been dealing with teams leaving the conference for a better financial circumstance the past few years. Hampton left the league after the 2017 season for the Big South Conference. After the completion of the 2018 season, Savannah State announced that it would be leaving the FCS and returning to Division II for financial consideration. Then the bombshell hit, in 2019, Florida A&M & Bethune-Cookman announced they would be leaving the MEAC & joining the SWAC for geographic & travel reasons. Finally, North Carolina A&T revealed that they would also be leaving and were following Hampton to the Big South Conference. The migration has left the MEAC with six (6) teams for the 2021 season, down from eleven (11) during the 2017 campaign! This is the second meeting of these teams, their 1st and only meeting was Sept. 25, 1976, a game won by Alcorn State, 23-7! The game will be played on Georgia State home field, Center Parc Credit Union Stadium, located in Atlanta, GA. This game is 16th addition of the Cricket Wireless (new sponsor) MEAC SWAC Challenge and ESPN’s Game Day will open their 2021 road show at this game!

Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley Conference / OVC) @ Indiana State (Missouri Valley Football Conference / MVFC): This is the 4th meeting since we began in 2009 and the 4th meeting all-time / the teams split the 4 games. In 2009, the Panthers (EIU) blasted the Sycamores (ISU), 31-0 & survived ISU in 2017, 22-20, both games were played in Terre Haute, IN. The teams met the following year (2018) in Charleston, IL and ISU got its first win in this 4 game set, 55-41, in a wild score-fest! Finally, the teams met in 2019, the Sycamores held the Panthers to 79 yards rushing, forced 4 turnovers (TO’s), and won the game, 16-6!

Southern Utah (Big Sky Conference / B-Sky) @ San Jose State (Mountain West Conference / MWC): Southern Utah is an FCS (63 scholarship program) member, while San Jose State is an FBS (85 scholarship program) member, will battle one another for the second time in their respective histories! The 1st meeting was in 2010, Sept. 10th, SJSU held off a determined SUSU, winning 16-11! San Jose State inadvertently helped the Thunderbird effort turning the ball over three (3) times, while forcing only one (1) TO! The Spartans (SJSU) had their best season in years’, in 2020 (7-1), winning the West Division, and then beating perennial champ, Boise State, 34-20, in the MWC Championship Game! Their only loss was to Ball State, 34-13, in the Offerpad Arizona Bowl. The outcome was decided just before kickoff, when Coach Brennen was informed that 6 players (5 starters) and both Coordinators, were unavailable for the day’s game! The reason why has never been stated, SJSU gave up 27 points in the 1at quarter, and yes, the coach was informed of this catastrophe just prior to taking the field for warm-ups! What a mess! Meanwhile, SUSU had a 2020 season from Hades! The Thunderbirds (Thor is their Mascot, got to love that) were 1-5 in 2020, losing to Northern Arizona, 34-33, Idaho State, 26-24, Idaho, 33-32, & Weber State, 19-16! They then played Northern Arizona for a 2nd time (Covid) and suffered their worst defeat, 28-20! The T-Birds return almost their entire starting line up on both sides of the ball & roster! They are a committed group, looking for redemption in close games!

U-Conn Independent (IND) @ Fresno State (MWC): This is the 1st meeting between the Huskies & the Bulldogs. Connecticut has not fared well against current members of the MWC, going winless in three (3) games. Of note, since U-Conn opted out of the 2020 season (Covid), this will be their 1st game as an Independent since the 2003 season! FSU is 9-4-1, since 2017, against current Independents & 7-5 in home openers since 2009, having lost the last two (2), to Hawaii, in 2020, 34-19 & Minnesota, in 2019, 38-35! Fresno State returns 19 starters (9* on offense & 10 on defense) while the Huskies bring back 14 starters (7* on O & 7 on D / * signifies QB is back)!

University of Texas El Paso UTEP Conference USA (C-USA) @ New Mexico State (IND): In recent times, the Miners & the Aggies have played every year since 2009, save 2020 (Covid)! UTEP holds a 8-3 edge in that time-frame, that said, the Aggies have won three (3) in a row. NMSU pounded UTEP in 2017, 41-14 and found-a-way in the other two (2) games, 27-20, in 2018 & 44-35, in 2019! The series is called the Battle of I-10! The 1st game in the series was played back in 1914, New Mexico State (@ the time, New Mexico A&M) 19 UTEP (@ the time, Texas M&M) 0. Since that 1st game, these teams have played every year, save 10 seasons (1917, 18, 19, 34, 43, 44, 45, 2001, 03, 20) where they did not lace em’ up & knock em’ loose!

Hawaii (MWC) @ the University of California @ Los Angles (UCLA/PAC 12). These teams have played only once since 2009, a Bruin victory over Hawaii, 56-23, in 2017, a game played in the Rose Bowl (stadium, not the Rose Bowl Game)! UCLA leads the series 3 wins to zero defeats! The UCLANS won the 1st meeting, in 1935, 19-3, in LA and won again, in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1939, (just 2 years before the Japanese Empire launched its attack on Pearl Harbor) the 2nd of the three (3) bruin wins, 32-7! Hawaii has struggled in their season, road openers, going just 2-8 in their last 10 journeys off the Islands! The Bruins return 20 starters (10* on offense & 10 on defense) and Chip Kelley’s team is primed to make a bowl and more, in his fourth year at the helm!

Nebraska (Big Ten / B-10) @ Illinois (B-10): The day’s best game! The Huskers & the Illini are now B-10 & West Division rivals. They have met ever year since the Cornhuskers entered the B-10 Conference (2011), with the lone exceptions being 2011 & 2012 (B-10’s divisions were the Legends, Nebraska & Leaders, Illinois) when the teams were in different divisions! The Huskers won 6 of the 1st 7 meetings (Illinois’ only win in the 1st seven (7) meetings, came in 2015, 14-13 in Champaign. That said, Illinois broke a 4 game losing streak to the Huskers, in 2020, 41-23! While the Illini have lost 2 of the last three, they are running rough-shot over the famed Husker defense (Black Shirts), scoring an average of 38 points per game (PPG)! The Huskers are primed, in Frost 4th season, to make a bowl and a run at the West Division title. To that end, a win in Illinois’ Memorial Stadium is an absolute needed outcome; the Huskers play @ Oklahoma & Wisconsin, host Ohio State & Michigan, and face three (3) West Division teams (@ Minnesota, Northwestern & Iowa) that are all better than the Illini!

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20 Best Games in Week One

Miami vs Alabama (Atlanta): Here are some Bama facts that are all bad news for the Canes! The Tide has won 19 straight season openers, their last 10 games at neutral sites they won by an average of 25 points, & are 5-0 at Mercedes Benz Stadium, which also is the site used for the SEC Championship Game! The Canes have not played Bama since 1993, when Alabama upset Miami, in the Sugar Bowl, 34-13, to win the 1992 National Championship! Miami’s last win over the Crimson Tide was in the 1990 Sugar Bowl, 33-25, earning Miami the 1989 National Championship! The Hurricanes have lost their last 2 Neutral Site Games, LSU, 33-18 (AT&T Stadium / Arlington), in 2018 & Florida, 24-20 (Camping World Stadium / Orlando), in 2019! This game has produced a national championship, for the winner, the last 2 times the Canes & Tide have laced ’em up on the same field!

LSU @ UCLA: This is the 1st meeting between the Tigers & Bruins! LSU has taken on a PAC 12 opponent 12 times since 1981 and won all 12 games! The last time a P-12 beat LSU was in 1979, USC 17 LSU 12! UCLA is 18-15-4 vs current SEC teams, the Bruins last win vs the SEC, was against Texas A&M, 45-44, in 2017! In that game, the Bruins were down, 44-10, in the 3rd quarter, before scoring 35 unanswered points to win the game by a single point! One of the great comebacks in Rose Bowl history (not the Rose Bowl Game, but rather, in the history of games played @ the Rose Bowl!

Louisville vs Ole Miss (Atlanta) Monday: This is the 1st meeting between the Cardinals & the Rebels. Ole Miss is 2-1 in neutral site games, winning their most recent game (@ NRG Stadium / Houston), vs Texas Tech (B-12), 47-27. The Rebels rarely open their season against a Power 5 opponent, only on 2 occasions since 2009, as mentioned, beating Tech & losing to FSU, 45-33, in 2016 (Camping World Stadium / Orlando)! L-Ville last played in a neutral site game vs Alabama, getting hammered, 51-14, in Orlando! Louisville did beat an SEC team, Mississippi State, 38-28, in the 2019 Music City Bowl!

Clemson vs UGA (Charlotte): No doubt, but that this is, far and away, the best game of week one, in fact, it may be the best regular season game played in 2021. UGA dominates the all-time series, 42-16-4, including winning the most recent meeting, 45-21, in 2014. The Dawgs’ have won 7 straight opening games & won their last neutral site game vs UNC (Georgia Dome), 33-24, in 2016! That said, the last lime the Dogs lost a season opener was @ Clemson’s Death Valley, 38-35, in 2013! This Game will be played @ the Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte), which was the site of the last 4 ACC Championship Games … All won by Clemson! The last time Clemson played a season opener at a neutral site, they took down Auburn (Georgia Dome), 26-19, in 2012!

Penn State @ Wisconsin: This is shaping up to be the day’s 2nd best game. These cross divisional rivals have met only 5 times since 2009, the Badgers won the 2011 encounter in Madison, 45-7, outgaining the Lions, 450 to 233, while winning the Turnover (TO) battle, 4 to 1. Since then, it has been all Nittany Lions; PSU won in 2012, 24-21, @ Happy Valley, again in 2013, @ Camp Randall, 31-24, & again, in 2016, 38-31 (B-10 Championship Game in Indy), & their last meeting, 2018, @ Beaver Stadium, the Lions won a physical encounter, 22-10! Based on those last 4 wins, Penn State now leads the series 10 victories to 9 defeats. This is a very difficult start of the season for both teams. PSU has UW, Auburn, & IU in the 1st 5 weeks of the 2021 season; luckily 2 of the 3 are at home, yet all three of these teams are quite capable of taking down the Lions! While Bucky may have it tougher, PSU @ home, ND in Chicago (Soldier Field), & then Michigan in Mad-town, all in the 1st 5 weeks of their 2021 season!

Indiana @ Iowa: Another B-10 cross over battle that challenges both teams divisional hopes as they enter the 2021 season. The Hawks & Hoosiers are thought to be contenders for their respective, West & East, Divisional Championships. IU, clearly, has the tougher row to hoe, with Ohio State coming to Bloomington on Oct. 23rd. Yet hope abounds, based on their 42-35 loss to the Bucks @ ‘The Shoe’ in 2020. That said, a loss to Iowa and another to the Bucks, would mean OSU has the tie breaker with the Hoosiers and that Buckeyes would have to lose 3 B-10 games for IU to win the East Division outright. That, put simply, will not/never happen (OSU losing 3 conference games is as likely that whoever is reading this & Sul will be struck simultaneously by a meteor on September 4th). IU needs to find a way in Iowa City, last time there (2014) the Hawkeyes rolled the Hoosiers, 45-29! In fact, Iowa has won 6 of the last 7 and 3 in a row!

Ohio State @ Minnesota: Before you consider having me committed to a acylium for listing this game as one of the best, consider these elements! Minnesota’s QB, Tanner Morgan, is widely considered the B-10 2nd best at that position, behind only IU’s, Michael Penix. RB, Mo Ibrahim is often considered to be the B-10’s best by many and is never listed outside of the conference’s top 3 ball carriers! The Gophers have one of the top 3 offensives lines in the B-10, led by RG, Conner Olson, LG, Blaise Andries , & RT, Danny Faalele (6’9” 400) … yeah! … he’s a big guy! Finally, the WR’s, Chris Autman Bell & Daniel Jackson are capable of making plays of the perimeter! The Gophers defense is the rub, they gave up 6.3 Yards Per Rush (YPR), 30.1 Points Per Game (PPG), & 411.6 Yards Per Game (YPG). That “D” is why you are considering an Acylium placement for Sul. However, please note: they do have 10 defensive starters back for 2021 season! (?)

West Virginia @ Maryland: Maryland has lost 9 of the last 10 meeting vs the Mountaineers! The Terrapins lone win came in 2013, a 37-0 blasting of WV @ a neutral site, Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. The teams last played in 2015, a 45-6, humiliations of the Terps in Morgantown’s, Mountaineer Field. Their last meeting @ Maryland Stadium was in 2014, a 40-37 Mountaineer victory! These teams are former rivals, having played every year from 1976 thru 2007 with WVU leading the over-all series 28-22-2!

Texas Tech vs Houston (NRG Stadium): A neutral site battle between old Southwest Conference (SWC) teams and the pitting of 2 Texas teams, of the 12 DI teams playing college football in the great state of Texas, against one another! The Cougars & Red Raiders have played 32 times, with Houston holding the edge in wins, 18 to TT’s 13, ( for those of you doubting Sul’s math; they did play to a 10 to 10 tie in 1987)! That said, the Red Raiders have won the last 3, including a wild, no D, light up the scoreboard affair, in 2018, a 63-49 score fest! This game has a little of everything, P5 vs G5, a Texas showdown, B-12 turmoil (OU & UT, jumping ship), TT & Et Al supposedly reaching out to the PAC 12, & Houston wanting a seat at @ a P5 table! Everybody is going to bring it in this game!

ND vs FSU: The Visiting team has lost 3 in a row, including the 2014 game when #5 Notre Dame lost to #2 FSU, 31-27! The Irish have won 4 straight season opening games. Their last lost to open a season was in 2016, to Texas, 50-47, in 2 OT’s. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 6 wins to 4 losses, yet have lost the last 2 games, 42-13, in 2018 & and 42-26 in 2020, both games were played @ Notre Dame Stadium. The Noles have lost 4 straight season opening games and 3 of the 4 were @ Doak S Campbell Stadium, FSU’s home field! The Irish & Noles have split their last 4 games, FSU won in 2011, 18-14 & as mentioned, in 2014! One subminimal, yet major factor in this game, is Cain Madden, an All-American offensive guard, who is a Graduate transfer to ND from Marshall. This gives the Irish, 2 All Americans on their O-Line (Jarrett Patterson), coupled with 6’7” 310 (RT) Josh Lugg, 6’6 330 (LT) Blake Fisher, & 6’3 295 (C) Zeke Correll, a different feel up front. I thought the FSU crowd noise (79,560 / chanting & chopping) would be a significant factor, with 4 new starters on the ND O-Line. The addition of Madden changes the math (from 80% to 60% inexperienced) and when one factors in that Correll started against Clemson & Alabama, that inexperience element is becoming a non factor! This is going to be one of the day’s best. FSU HC, Mike Norvell, is an excellent coach and the Noles will be back to national prominence as soon as he fixes the O-Line!

UNC @ V-Tech: This is the 1st time the Heels are opening a season away from Kenan Memorial Stadium since 2005. UNC has lost 7 straight when opening the season away from Tobacco Road, ugly! To make matters more challenging, the Hokes are 8-4 vs the Tar Heels in their last 12 meetings! The last 2 games played in Blacksburg (2017 & 2019) V-Tech scored 59 (59-7) & 43 (43-41, winning in 6 OT’s); UNC has to make sure their defense gets on the bus/train/plane/whatever & travels to Lane Stadium for this 2021 Coastal Division showdown! Especially, since they no longer have a pair of 1,000 yard rushers (Michael Carter & Javonte Williams) or a pair of 1,000 yard receivers (Dyami Brown & Dazz Newsome). UNC’s QB, Sam Howell, is really good/great and clearly, can make others on offense better, but he can not win big games w/o the D showing up and showing up big!!

Stanford vs Kansas State (Arlington): This will be only the 2nd meeting between the P-12’s Cardinal & B-12’s Wildcats. Stanford won the initial meeting in 2016, @ Palo Alto, 23-16, the season opener for both teams. K-State has not played a neutral site game since 2003, when they beat OU, to win the B-12 championship game @ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO! The Wildcats regrouped after the loss to post a 9-4 record & beat Texas A&M, 33-28, in the Texas Bowl. Stanford finished with a 10-3 mark, beating UNC in the Sun Bowl, 25-23!

Arizona vs BYU (Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium): BYU has long stated that it wants to be the ‘Notre Dame of the West’! Well, good luck with that, yet never say never! What one can say, is the Cougars must play a better schedule to even get that idea on the runway. From 2016 thru 2019 the Cougars played 19 Power 5 opponents (an annual average of 4.75) contrasted with the Irish, who kicked it off against 37 P5 opponents (an annual average of 9.25), in that same time frame. This does not include 2020, which excluded BYU (thru no fault of their own) from having access to those conferences, while ND played 10 P5 teams & beat them all! In other words, BYU must play a better schedule & win the lion’s share of those contests. This year is a step in the right direction, as they are taking on 7 P5 teams (however, it needs to be a minimum of 8 / 9 would be better, as 8 is the number of conference games the SEC & ACC play/ plus they usually schedule, at least, 1 more NC P5 game), in 2021, the Cougars are playing 5 teams from the P-10, 1 from the ACC, & 1 from the B-12! To that end, BYU has beaten Arizona 5 of the last 7, including 3 straight! Yet, the Cougars have lost 9 straight to Utah & ASU has won 20 of their 25 meetings. BYU is coming off an 11-1 2020 season, yet, these numbers were earned against all G5 opponents. The time for BYU to step up & knock down P5 opponents is now!!

Miami OH @ Cincinnati: Miami leads the series 59-58-7, yet have lost the last 14 meetings by an average of 20 points. The Red Hawks last win in this series was @ home, in 2005, 44-16, at Yager Stadium. The teams 1st played in 1888 (a 0-0 Tie). The Bearcats & Red Hawks play for the Victory Bell, the oldest Non-Conference football rivalry in the United States. Cincy & Miami have played every year from 1945 thru 2019 (Covid-19 interrupted the series for the 2020 season)! If Cincinnati wins the 2021 meeting, it will be their 15 straight win and tie the series @ 59 wins apiece!

Boise State @ UCF (Thursday): Boise State & Central Florida (UCF) are two of the best G5 programs in the nation! This is the 1st meeting between these Universities. In fact, in the past 5 years, UCF has not played a single game vs a Mountain West Conference (MWC) opponent! The same is true for Boise State, they have not ‘kicked it off’ vs a single American Athletic Conference (AAC) team. That said, Boise is 8-1 all-time vs current AAC teams, however, none of these wins were earned while those teams were playing in the AAC (they were in different conferences at the time the game was played)! Boise State is 4-1 in road openers, beat Louisiana, 45-10, Troy 56-20, Florida State 36-31 & Air Force 59-30, their lone loss was to Washington State, 47-44, in 2017! UCF will be a formidable road opponent for the Broncos, the Knights are 23-2 in the Bounce House (the Knight’s home stadium & the fact that the stadium structure would move as the crowd bounced = the name of the venue … Sul will watch this one on TV!!!)! UCF has gone 4-1 in the last 5 home openers, their only home loss was to Tulsa, 34-26, in 2020!

Appalachian State vs East Carolina @ Charlotte’s B of A Stadium (Thursday) : The Sun Belt Conference is now the 3rd best conference in the Group of 5 (G5), Five Conferences are labeled as making up the G5 (AAC, C-USA, MAC, MWC, & SBC). Last year SBC members, Coastal Carolina went 11-1, Louisiana 10-1, Appalachian State 9-4, Georgia Southern 8-5, & Georgia State 6-4. Their 5 top teams went 44-15, better than any other G5 league’s top 5 teams! East Carolina is a member of the AAC (widely regarded as the G5’s best league, followed by the MWC) and has taken down App St 6 straight times (1976 thru 2012, yet these teams have not met in 9 years & App St leads the 31 game series, 19-12 (it should be noted these teams have never played as FBS programs (85 scholarships) all meetings occurred when @ least one team was in the FCS (63 scholarships)! Last time the Pirates played @ Bank of American Stadium, they lost to South Carolina, 56-37, in 2012! Last meeting between these programs was in 2012, ECU 36 Mountaineers 13!

17. South Dakota State @ Colorado State: Here is a name to remember, Mark Gronowski, QB @ South Dakota State! Listed here are awards Gronowski won as a freshmen in the 2020 season: 1) Hero Sports FCS Freshman: All-American Team 2020-21; 2) Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC): Offensive Player of the Year 2020-21; MVFC: Newcomer of the Year 2020-21, MVFC: freshmen of the Year 2020-21; All-MVFC: QB 1st Team; Stats Perform Jerry Rice Award: Finalist/Runner up; National FCS & MVFC Player of the Week: 3 times in 2020-21. Sadly Gronowski was injured in the 1st series of the FCS National Championship Game (Sam Houston 23 South Dakota State 21) and is not expected back for the 2021 season! Without Gronowski, Colorado State wins this game; with him, South Dakota State wins the game and it would not be an upset!

18. Louisiana @ Texas: Steve Sarkisian makes his Texas debut after breaking Alabama & NCAA offensive records as the Tide’s OC in 2 consecutive years. Louisiana went 10-1 last year, beating Iowa State, 31-14 (a 17 point win over ISU, a team who beat OU by 7 in the regular season & lost to Sooners by 6 in the B-12 Championship game), while losing to only Coastal Carolina (11-1), 30-27. Billy Napier, is one of the best coaches in the country, going 28-11, since his arrival in Lafayette in 2018! This is a game of interest, note: Iowa State beat Texas, 23-20 (in Austin’s Darrell K Royal / Texas Memorial Stadium) in 2020 & Oh yeah, as mentioned, the Cyclones beat OU, 37-30. The Horns better be ready, as the Ragin’ Cajuns are going to “bring it’!

19. Syracuse @ Ohio: Ohio ‘s legendary coach, Frank Solich, has announced his retirement after coaching at 2 schools for 55 years! Coach Solich went 58-19 in his 6 years as the head coach at Nebraska. Good, but not good enough for the Nebraska faithful! Prior to Coach Solich becoming the HC in Lincoln, the Huskers had won 3 national championships in 4 years, clearly a tuff act to follow (Tom Osborne: 255-49-3 .836 winning percentage / 1973-97)! Frank went 115-82 in his 16 years @ Ohio, who had only 2 winning seasons in the 22 years before Coach’s arrival in Athens. Solich was the oldest coach in the FBS @ 76 (the old guy is now Mack Brown, 70 in August), has an over-all record of 173-101 as a head coach, & retires as the winning coach in MAC history. Coach liked to say he served at only 2 schools in 55 years and was fired only once, in 5 plus decades! Quite a feat in today’s world! Watch this game and remember Frank’s great service!

20. Nebraska @ Illinois: Bret Bielema’s makes his debut @ Illinois as he returns to the B-10 coaching ranks! The Illini broke a 4 game losing slide to the Huskers last year (2020), winning 41-23! This was Illinois first win in Lincoln since 1924 (Chicagoans couldn’t have a drink to celebrate for nine (9) more years … Prohibition from 1920 thru 1933 …. or maybe not)! The Illini have been ‘scoring it up’ on Nebraska’s famed ‘Black Shirt’ defenders, putting up an average of 38 points in their last three meetings! While Nebraska’s ‘favorite son’, Scott Frost, has struggled in his 1st three years back @ Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium (12-20), since leading the Huskers to a split National Championship (Michigan) in 1997! The Huskers & Frost need a win here, they play @ Oklahoma & Wisconsin, host Ohio State & Michigan, and have difficult divisional games @ Minnesota and @ home vs Northwestern & Iowa! Frost needs a bowl game in year four!

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Who are the real Power 5 Teams?

As you may know, the terms Power 5/Group of 5 are not NCAA verbiage, the Association describes these 10 conferences and 7 independents as the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). That said, the FBS is often referred to as 2 constructs, used fluently by ESPN & others, as the Power 5 (P5) or the Group of 5 (G5).

The language P5 & G5 is used by the College Football Playoff (CFP) Committee and the P5 includes 5 conferences & 1 independent, ACC, B-12, Big Ten, Pac 10, SEC, & Notre Dame! ND is a full member of the ACC in every other sport, save football & Hockey. The ACC does not play Hockey & the Irish joined the B-10 as an affiliate in that sport!

While not a member of a so-called P5 Conference, no one disputes (or should dispute) that ND play’s a Power 5 schedule. In 2018, the Irish took on 10 Power 5 opponents (Navy & Ball State being the exceptions), in 2019, ND battled 9 P5’s, & in 2020, Notre Dame ‘kicked it off’ against 10 P5’s in the regular season and beat them all.

Further, it should be noted that Irish do not play a FCS opponent. While the SEC & ACC together, played a 63 scholarship program (FCS scholarship limit), 28 times in each of these years, 2018, 2019, & 2021, meaning every team in these respective leagues played, at least, 1 FCS team (Florida played 2 in 2018 & 2019 & Virginia 2 in 2019) in each of the 3 years identified (the SEC & ACC played 87 games vs the FCS in those 3 years)!

Finally, the CFP committee uses these five criteria as metrics as to who gets into the playoffs.

  1. Strength of schedule: ND fits, since 2000, they have averaged out as having the 16th best schedule in the country & 6 times in the top 10!
  2. P5 Conference Bias: While not in a P5 Conference, as mentioned, the Irish, clearly, play a Power 5 slate!
  3. Number of P5 programs on a CFP Candidates Schedule: As mentioned, ND will play 9 or 10 P5’s every year. The SEC & ACC play 8 conference games & usually 1 non-conference (NC) game vs a P5 opponent, for a total of 9. The B-10, P-12 & B-12 play 9 conference games & usually 1 NC P5 opponent for 10 games vs power 5 opponents, rarely will a P5 team play 11 Power 5 teams in the regular season!
  4. Conference Championship: 2 teams made the CFP before ND, who did not win their respective conference title, in fact, they did not win their division! Ohio State in 2016 & Alabama in 2017. ND made its first appearance in 2018!
  5. Benchmarks of Teams who made the 1st 4 CFP’s: a. Average Win total of FBS opponents; 6.7 wins; b. Average win total vs Selection Sunday’s Top 25’s; 3 wins! c. Average win total vs teams with 500 or better records; 7.8 wins. d. Average # of FBS opponents played in that year: 12 FBS teams * ND hit every benchmark in their 2 appearances (2018 & 2020)

The real fuss should not be about the Irish, but rather about teams like Cincinnati, Central Florida (2017 & 18), Memphis (2019), Boise State (2014), Houston (2015), & Western Michigan (2016)! These teams were the highest ranked G5 teams in the years’ from 2014 through 2020 and while awarded a seat at the table of ‘The New Year 6′ bowl games’, they were never seriously considered for a spot in the CFP!

So the first question one should want answered is; “how did they (G5) do in their New Year 6 appearance, against the big, bad, Power 5 programs? Well, here are the results of those 7 games:

  1. 2014: Boise State (11-2) 38 Arizona (10-3) 30 (W)
  2. 2015: Houston (12-1) 38 Florida State (10-2) 24 (W)
  3. 2016: Wisconsin (10-3) 24 Western Michigan (13-0) 16 (L)
  4. 2017: UCF (13-0) 34 Auburn (10-3) 27 (W)
  5. 2018: LSU (9-3) 40 UCF (12-0) 32 (L)
  6. 2019: Penn State (10-2) 53 Memphis (12-1) 39 (L)
  7. 2020: Georgia (7-2) 24 Cincinnati (9-0) 21 (L)

Unlike many of the 1st round CFP semi-final’s (Oregon 55 Florida State 20, Alabama 38 Michigan State 0, or Clemson 31 Ohio State 0), these P5 vs G5 games were all competitive; 5 of the 7 games were decided by a single score and in the other 2 games, the loser scored 24 & 39 points! All 7 games have been highly entertaining!

So if we were to take a hard look at the P5 and use the #65 as a guide (number of teams in the 5 conferences, SEC, ACC. & B-10 have 14 each, PAC 12 has 12 teams, B-12 has 10 members, plus Notre Dame = 65 teams). Then rank the 130 FBS teams, 1 to 130 and use 65 as our cut off, above we place in the Group of 5 and lower than 65, we place in the Power 5. An attempt to place teams where their actual talent & skill suggest they should be ranked, as opposed to the arbitrary (ok, at least more arbitrary) simple membership in a P5 conference!

Lindy Sports College Football Preview does exactly that, the magazine ranks all 130 teams without deference to which conference they play. So I’ve created a list of P5 teams who have fallen out of the Power 5 (not in Lindy’s Top 65) and Group of 5 teams, whose skill & talent levels say they are among the 65 best in the country!

Power 5 Teams Ranked Out of the Top 65    

#110 Kansas; #96, Vanderbilt; #91 Syracuse; #80 Duke; #79 Michigan State; # 78 Georgia Tech; #76 Illinois; #75 South Carolina; #74 Louisville; #73 Washington State; #72 Maryland; #70 Texas tech; & #69 Oregon State.

Of the 65 teams considered to be Power 5 squads simply by conference affiliation, 13 have have dropped out via Lindy’s Sports ranking & SCFP interpretation of the data! So whose in our P5 from the Group of 5?

Group of 5 Teams ranked in the Top 65

#8 Cincinnati; #23 Coastal Carolina; #29 Liberty; #31 Nevada; #32 Boise State; #33 Central Florida; # 36 Louisiana; # 38 Ball State; #49 SMU; #56 San Jose State; #61 Toledo; #62 Appalachian State; and #63 Memphis.

These 13 programs, according Lindy’s team evaluations, are among the 65 best for the 2021 season & according to SCFP interpretation of that data, are de facto Power 5 teams in 2021!

One last thought; what about strength of schedule? Cincinnati is the highest ranked G5 team and the Bearcats do play two (2) Preseason Top 25 teams, @ Indiana & @ Notre Dame! How about teams ranked above them vs Lindy’s T 25, Alabama plays 5 Top 25, Georgia 3, Clemson 1 (NC Georgia), Oklahoma 3, Ohio State 3, Texas A&M 3, & Iowa State 4! If Cincy can beat IU & ND, on the road, and they (IU & ND) win 9 or 10 games , can Cincinnati be the 1st G of 5 team to make the CFP?

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Pat Sullivan Discusses ‘It’s all About skills’ with Charlie Jett!

Take a few minutes to listen to Pat Sullivan & Charlie Jett, while they discuss critical skill development & its implementation.

Charlie is an international certified coach, who specializes in Career Management, Skill Development, & Career Crises. Pat is a Hall of Fame Coach & Educational Leader, whose career spanned 44 years!

If you are serving your community in any manner of leadership or aspire to such, I can guarantee you that the few minutes you spend listening, to Charlie & Pat, will assist you to that end. In fact, the limited minutes you take to ‘tune in’, can have a life long impact on how to help others learn critical skill development and how best to implement in their lives and the lives of those they serve!

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