Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Posted on: October 9, 2009 11:38 am
Edited on: October 9, 2009 12:45 pm
 

The Comeback Kids: Shades of the Huskers of Old

It was about what you would expect from two teams trying to prove themselves on a cold and rainy night.  There was sloppy play, a multitude of penalties, and the occasional fumble.  It was cold, it was wet, and it was wild.

To be honest there is no end to the shock I'm feeling right now.  Nebraska did their best to hand this game over to Missouri in the first half.  Not capitalizing on turnovers, committing untimely turnovers, and in the end just down right looking awful.

It was exactly how it looked the first three quarters of the Thursday night game for Nebraska.  They came out cold and sloppy, just like the field on the wet rainy October night in Columbia.  The sloppy start yielded only twelve points for the vaunted Missouri offense.

Ndamukong Suh came out as advertised.  Some surprises?  Dejon Gomes and Matt O'Hanlon.  Dejon Gomes played out of his mind tonight and much to my surprise Matt O'Hanlon played fast and in position nearly the entire game.

Nebraska spotted the Tigers 12, almost 15, but the Tiger offense couldn't convert on a field goal early in the third quarter.  But as Nebraska learned three weeks ago, it's not how you play in the first three necessarily, but how you finish.

And on the first drive of the fourth quarter, Nebraska started to apply what they had learned. 

To say Zac Lee looked pedestrian in the first three quarters would be complimenting his play.  Actually, he looked down-right awful.  But again, Zac Lee knew how he needed to end to end any speculation of a quarterback controversy, and close he did.

He hit Niles Paul (6 catches 102 yards 2 TDs) on a 56-yard fly route early in the fourth.

 

NU

(Niles Paul had 6 catches for 102 yards and 2 tds - his first 100 yard receiving game in his career.)  

Then, after the defense had dropped five, yes that's right FIVE could-be interceptions in the first three quarters Ndamukong Suh showed why he is one of the best Defensive players in the game as he picked off Blaine Gabbert for the first time this season on the first play in the fourth quarter.

Two plays later, Lee hit Niles Paul again on an eight-yard touchdown pass to give Nebraska their first lead in the game.

The next pass for Blaine Gabbert?  Another interception by upcoming star Dejon Gomes, who nearly took it all the way back for a touchdown. 

Three plays later, Lee struck again with a touchdown pass to on Mike McNeill on a beautifully executed boot leg play.

But those three touchdowns aren't what I'm talking about.  Those three touchdowns led to what I am talking about.  For the first time in recent history Nebraska put a game away.

The defense held on fourth and twenty.  Then, the offense pounded the rock for the final three minutes of the game and scored the final touchdown in impressive fashion.

Why is this a big deal?

I'll tell you.  In the days of old Nebraska put teams away with a two tight end set which ended in a touchdown that shredded the last shards of will from the opposing teams confidence.

They did it again Thursday night.

No it wasn't pretty, but like I said after the Virginia Tech game.  Decent teams play well and lose but good teams finish games and win even when they don't play well.  Nebraska grew up tonight in Columbia, Missouri.

And it reminded me of the days of old.

Now though, Great teams move on.  They move on and beat Texas Tech.




Posted on: September 28, 2009 2:17 pm
 

A Time For Change: Is the Big 12 Ready?

It's a picture Husker fans have waited a long time to see.  I'm not talking about the goose egg on the scoreboard, although it was impressive it was also a missed field goal away from becoming another 3 point game for a Sun Belt squad against the Huskers.

Yes I know it did snap a streak of not shutting a team out since the Husker's defeated Troy 56-0 in 2006, ironically another Sun Belt team, and Ironically the last time Nebraska won the North division in the Big 12 (foreshadowing?).  But still, that's not the picture I'm referring to here.

NU    (Larry Asante, 74 Interception return for a touchdown)

 

The picture I am talking about is a second quarter play against UL-Lafayette.  With just under six and half minutes to play in the half, the Cornhuskers had already built a twenty-seven to nothing lead on the Ragin Cajuns.

It's third and ten the Cajuns are threatening in Nebraska territory and Masson, the UL-Lafayette quarterback, has been on fire.  They are threatening a score.  Pelini decides to send a Linebacker blitz, they need to get pressure on Masson and force a bad throw to get the ball back and conserve a first half shut out. 

That's when Sean Fisher comes streaking through the A-Gap on the offensive line, Masson's eyes widen as he desperately seeks an open receiver.  Meanwhile a veteran safety named Larry Asante licks his lips and reads the quarterback's eyes.

Masson released and Asante reacted stepping in front of the bullet pass. And as he did so he found that it was cradled in his arms and he realized he had an unimpeded path to the end zone and he was on his way to a 74 yard interception return for a touchdown. 

To me, this was the biggest play of the game.  Why?

For two reasons, the first being the obvious, Asante was injured on the play.  But that's not my point.  The second is that the actual interception return for a touchdown was by a defensive back.

I know I know, Nebraska had two interceptions returned for touchdowns last season.  Both by a man we know as Ndamukong Suh, and that, is precisely my point.

Since the year 2002 not one, count them, NOT one Nebraska Cornhusker secondary player has returned an interception for a touchdown.  Fabian Washington was the last Husker to do the offense the favor.  It was a 29 yard interception return against Arizona State his Freshman year in the fourth quarter and it has been seven years since, that no Nebraska secondary player has done that deed. 

Why is this important?  Because good defenses have good secondaries and even though Larry Asante was injured on the play (apparently a bruised ankle) he will be okay in a few weeks to play against the high octane offense of Blaine Gabbert and the Missouri Tigers.

The big deal is that it finally looks like the Nebraska defense has bought into the Pelini way of thinking.  Last year at times they got down on themselves and gave up big plays.  Even during the first three games of this season we have seen breakdowns in the linebacking corps and the secondary, but the absence of a big play was rather noticeable on Saturday.  In fact, the biggest play of the game for Ragin Cajuns was a twenty-five yard pass play late in the first half.

Obviously Nebraska has not played any offensive juggernauts this season and to think that holding a Sun Belt team with a new quarterback and new running back to zero points will translate to similar results against a team like Missouri is silly homerism.

But, there is something to be said for beating the teams you are supposed to beat.  Missouri has done that, and Nebraska has done that.  But there is also something to be said for slaughtering teams you are supposed to beat and then something else to barely get by.

Which leads me to the title of this article, sorry it took so long.  Is the Big 12 North ready for a surprise?  Nebraska has outscored its first four opponents 157-36, and still, somehow, came out 3-1.  While Missouri and Kansas, two teams with markedly lower strengths in their out of conference schedules beat their opponents, 147-62 and 162-61 respectively and somehow both finished 4-0 in their non-conference schedule.

Are they ready for the defense Nebraska will bring to the table though?  Kansas played teams with a combined record 7-9 and one team that was 1-3 in the FCS (former divsion 1-AA) and Missouri has played teams with a combined 5-9 record and also one FCS team with a 3-1 record FBS teams they have played are a combined 2-8 and two of them (Nevada and Illinois) have each been shut out once this year.

Nebraska played no FCS opponents, came a breath away from beating a top-10 team and outscored four FBS teams by more of a spread than either Kansas or Missouri have against three FBS teams and one FCS team. 

In other words, given the first three games, even though Missouri and Kansas are a combined 8-0 Nebraska looks better statistically in almost every category defensively and offensively than either of these teams.

So it seems with Larry Asante's 74 yard interception return for a touchdown, the first by a Husker defensive back in seven years, Nebraska has turned a corner and the rest of the Big 12 should ask themselves.  Are we ready?


Posted on: September 20, 2009 11:08 pm
 

Another Heartbreak

Husker fans were all to familiar with the scenario that unfolded at the hands of of the Virginia Tech Hokie's.  Contrary to popular belief this was a situation the Husker's had been in many times before.  A year ago against the same Virginia Tech team the Huskers had a chance to get the ball back and were thwarted by a personal foul call on Ndamukong Suh.  Also a year ago an interception in overtime after Texas Tech had missed an extra point forced the Husker's to except a 37-31 defeat.  Two years ago the Nebraska Cornhusker's went into Austin Texas and man-handled the mighty Longhorns, until a monumental collapse led to another heart breaking loss (28-25).  Even three years ago, Nebraska had the game won against the Longhorns once again a 20-19 lead on third and three and Terrence Nunn coughs the ball up to give the Longhorn's a chance at a win, and they capitalized with a 22-20 win.

The feelings were undoubtedly mixed with excitment and fear as Virginia Tech got the ball back at their own ten with two minutes remaining in the game.  I know I wasn't the only nervous fan, given Nebrask's half-decade long propensity to blow the big game.  But I thought to myself as the Defensive line yet again choraled the dangerous Tryod Taylor in the backfield, "maybe we can do this ."  As soon as I though it though, they did it.

VTNU

Tyrod Taylor, arguably the least proficient passer in the ACC, scrambled, looked down field and to my horror let it fly with confidence.  Matt O'Hanlon had blown a coverage and Danny Coale went streaking down the side-lines for a a gut wrenching 80 yard completion.  Probably the only eighty yard completiong Taylor has this season.  My worst fears had been realized, indeed, we are NOT back.  Like i've said before, Good Teams hang in games, Really Good and Great teams win those games.  And we didn't.  We can rehash the would've, should've, could've and what ifs all we want but it won't heal the wounds of loss any quicker.  I could go on for pages about the inability to put it in the end zone or the horrific play calling to fail in getting a first down to run out the clock, or even how Matt O'Hanlon seems to always come up big for the other team when they need it, or maybe how if Amukamara gets to the ball literally a half a second earlier he could have batted it down.  I could, but i won't. 

What I will say is that this team looked better than I can remember them looking at any time last year.  The tackling was crisp, the coverage (save for one play) was there and the Defensive Line contained Tyrod Taylor all by themselves.  The offense, while inept at times looked good enough to move the ball on a GREAT defense even if they failed to punch it in.  But you need to finish a game if your going to play with the best and outplaying a team for 50 minutes counts for nothing if one of those eight minutes costs you the game, and that was the case on saturday.  Nebraska is edging ever closely to being "back," but until they show me they can finish a game I would say we are just an average team that can occasionally give the big boys a run for their money.  Yes there is something to be said for winning the games you are supposed to win, but to make that next step Nebraska needs to win a few games that they aren't expected to win.

All that aside, as fans and as a team we need to move on from this heartbreaking loss and hope that our boys will do exactly what Tim Tebow and Florida did last year... work harder.  Not necissarily win the National Title, but play harder and work harder and never let up.  This team can go one of two ways after this loss, the Callahan way (give up and wait for next year) or the Pelini way (fight to get better and never surrender).  So let's pick up and move on and look to the next game.  Here are a few things I don't want hear any more: (Please no more emotional knee-jerk reactions!)

  1. Cody Green needs to start (This is an ignorant and emotional statement.  Sure he struggled, but I seem to remember another Junior quarterack struggling on his first away game start that the next year led the Husker's to a National Championship, his name Scott Frost.  Lighten up on the kid, he really did make plays when he needed to, and save for the one real interception he protected the ball well against one of the best defensive teams in nation.)
  2. Coaches are horrible (Really?  The coaches are horrible for pretty much outcoaching a team an entire game on the road?  It was execution that was the problem not the game plan.  Sure there were a few bad calls, but no one is perfect.  Not one of those calls cost us the game, it cam down to execution)
  3. Defense Sucks (Unless I missed something they were the reason we were really in the game in the first place.  Once again, execution)
  4. The Season is Over!  Over I tell you! (The most emotional response ever.  I know it seems like that but we still have nine games.  And with Pelini at the helm I think and pray and believe we can win at least 8 of them.
Some things I MAY agree with:

  1. Wasted Time-Outs (Generally I could care less how we use time outs in the first half, but burning all three in the third quarter is bad and can cost games.  Not saying this is the reason we  lost, but it tends to frustrate me.  I understand why he does it but most of the time I wish he wouldn't)
  2. O'Hanlon... oh O'Hanlon (This guys story is amazing, but is play isn't.  Here's the lists of blown coverages that I saw for him... notice they all lead to scores - 3rd and 20 a step behind (7 points), gets burned to the side-lines, Williams long run he takes a horrible angle (3 points), blown coverage on 80 yard pass to Coale (6 points game winner).  May have been just a bad game, but what I saw was a safety that was lost and slow.  I bet you are a great guy Matt, but you are not a D-1 Big 12 safety)
  3. Roy Helu Jr. is GREAT (Maybe the most driven and hard runner I have ever seen.  He carried this team and it frustrated me to see him not get a chance at a carry inside the five)
  4. USC lost again thank God! (That game against Washington next year might be a better match-up than I thought it would be)
So there you have it, a heart breaking loss drops the Husker's to 2-1, but the season isn't over and our chances aren't either.  No bearing on on Big 12 North.  I think we will learn from this experience and carry it into a game against Missouri that will ultimately lead to a victory because of our experience in Blacksburg.

Go Huskers!
Posted on: September 15, 2009 5:23 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2009 6:46 pm
 

Nebraska... A Rise To Dominance?


NU

How long does Bo Pelini have?  No, I don't think he should lose his job, I don't even think his seat is remotely warm right now.  The man is sitting comfortable with a 12-4 all time Head Coaching record at Nebraska, but my question isn't about this season, maybe not even next season.  But in four or five years if Nebraska is still fighting for relevence.  What then?

Pelini has the program headed in the right direction: 9-4 in his first year.  And he is in good company with coaches like Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and Frank Solich as the only coaches that started with a 9 win season.  So... So far so good right?

I think so, but many others are not convinced.  Nebraska still hasn't beaten a ranked team since a 28-27 win on the road at Texas A&M (Remember a last second fade route to Maurice Purify to spring to a 28-27 shocker over the Aggies?)  But beating a top fifteen team... that would take some serious research. 

Nebraska has delved into a recent pit of mediocrity and with the help Bo looks like they are climbing out.  But being ranked 18th in the nation isn't what Husker fans want, nor what most (born before 1990) are expecting.  Nebraska needs to be in the national spotlight, a team of relevence and of consiquence.  The stuff that makes the talking heads scratch their heads and say..."Nebraska is back?" 

In fact go all the way back to 2001 and that is the last time Nebraska beat a top fifteen team and go back even further than that to 1997 and that is the last time Nebraska beat a top 20 team on the road!  (#3 Washington).  They have had their chances, a Cotton bowl against Auburn (L) an overtime with a good Texas Tech team last season (L) and both of those games should have been Ws but the fact is GREAT teams pull out the wins, GOOD teams come close to getting wins.

Zac That's what makes this weekend's game against Virginia Tech the most important game of Pelini's relativley short career.  At least up until now.  Sure the Gator Bowl was important, but a win against a team like Tech in Blacksburg shouts, WE'RE BAAAAAACK louder than a win over a washed up Clemson team any day of the week.  So can the Husker's do it?  Well, call me a homer but all the evidence points to YES they can, and they NEED to.  It looks like they finally have the Quaterback with the NFL measurables (6'2" 215 pounds) and the arm to make teams secondaries shake in their boots.  Add speed on the edges with Curenski Gillyelin and Niles Paul, and physical toughness with guys like Mike McNeill and Menelik Holt and then top it off with an elite running back like Roy Helu Jr. you have a team that could be BCS worthy.  COULD .

The Problem is the Huskers don't have that marquee win, the win that turns heads and makes other teams nervous.  It isn't enough to say we played "well" against Texes Tech we need that key win.  Could it be Oklahoma?  Yes, but before it is Oklahoma it needs to be Virginia Tech and all the things that point to the win are there.  The issue is the talent needs to be controlled, and it can be, but will Blacksburg get to the new starters?  Will the Defense shake underneath the weight of expectations and will Bo be able to harness the legs of Tyrod Taylor and rely on the legs of Roy Helu?

It all remains to be seen, but before Dominance comes relevence and before relevence comes a game against Virginia Tech.  Win this one and you still have to rattle off plenty more wins in the season, but you will have that monkey off your back and can continue to RISE to DOMINANCE!








Posted on: September 9, 2009 1:25 am
Edited on: September 9, 2009 10:27 am
 

Are You Serious? Notre Dame Football...

ARE YOU SERIOUS? 

A look into the dumbest things of the college football season and to start it all off I am going to have to scream at the beast here.  Yeah, you got it... Notre Dame.  First let me say that this post is not to say Notre Dame football is horrible, but to say that it is not and has not been an Elite program for quite some time now.  Here in lies my argument laugh if you must, scoff if you will but i only present facts and for the Irish it doesn't look pretty.


ND

Known as the darling of NCAA football the private school is one of the most storied programs in the history of the NCAA.  When is it time to let go of the past though?  Yeah they are the third ranked program among wins in NCAA football history only behind Michigan and Texas, but with Rockne gone and Holtz sidelined they have fallen into obscurity and Wies does not look like the man that will pull them out.  So can we please stop talking about Irish football?

This is a program that has been pretty much out of the national title picture for two decades now, yeah that's right twenty years.  And we are supposed to just role over and and give them the pat on the back and say they are BCS (BS) material? 

If any team can claim history as a reason for even being mentioned in the same sentence as USC or Oklahoma (two very storied programs in their own right) in this day and age it is the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who have been fighting less and less these days.  The problem with Notre Dame is that its so called storied history stopped when Lou Holtz stopped coaching them.  Yes I do know that historically speaking the Irish have more wins than all but two programs in the NCAA with 831 wins (832 now with a win over Nevada)  But what about the last twenty years? 136 wins in twenty years, that's only seven wins a year for such a storied program as Notre Dame?  And not only that but in the last ten years this is the Fighting Irish's record corresponding with that year's Strength of Schedule:

1998 - 61st (Record 9-3)
1999 - 4th   (Record 5-7)
2000 - 22nd (Record 9-3)
2001 - 12th (Record 5-6)
2002 - 13th (Record 10-3)
2003 - 2nd  (Record 5-7)
2004 - 4th   (Record 6-6)
2005 - 44th (Record 9-3)
2006 - 25th (Record 10-3)
2007 - 12th (Record 3-9)
2008 - 66th (Record 7-6)
2009 - proj. 40th (1-0)

        If Notre Dame were truly an elite program wouldn't they thrive in the years that their SOS was highest?  And wouldn't they be able to get through the mediocre seasons unscathed?  Now this looks good at face value but what you do not see here is that during this time Notre Dame was 17-33 against teams in the top twenty-five . That is a 34% winning percentage against teams in the top twenty-five.  Not only that but that means that 23 of those losses were against teams not even ranked in the top twenty five.  This is a program that has excelled at mediocrity not for one but for two decades and yet they still get all the face time on ESPN and Sportscenter for wins over Nevada and Hawaii?  When is enough enough?  Any other program gets a win against Hawaii in the who care's it bowl and you only get the score at the bottom of the screen.  Not some twenty minute monologue about how Irish football is back after a 7-6 season.

        Call me a hater, call me whatever you want and believe me I understand mediocrity (Nebraska football 2002-present) but not to the extent of Notre Dame.  They haven't won a title since 1988, they haven't played in one since then either (no BCS title games)and from the looks of it one is not coming any time soon.  This is a team, that since the loss of Lou Holtz has spun into the pit of mediocrity and cannot get out despite all of the help the media gives them.  They couldn't even come close to winning in their BCS bowl appearances this decade (a 41-6 loss to Oregon St. in 01 and a 34-20 loss to Ohio St. in 06 and a 41-14 loss to LSU in 07).  They lost in blow outs a combined score of 116-40. 

        And yet the BCS is still unwilling to let go of their darling who is the only team in BCS history to go to three or more BCS game and lose in every single one of their appearances. (According to its (BCS) website, the BCS: "...is managed by the commissioners of the 11 NCAA Division I-A conferences , the director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame , and representatives of the bowl organizations.")  Why does Notre Dame's AD get to be in on the committee?  Some say it's because they are an Independent, but I don't see Navy's or Army's AD in on the BCS board...  Begs the question: Why are we still allowing this program to feed off of the NCAA and the BCS for life when it is obviously dying? 

       Maybe it is NBC's odd need to keep them on contract till 2015 despite posting the lowest ratings in the history of the contract in 2008 or maybe it is because ESPN longs to see the Irish climb back out from obscurity I don't know.  One thing I do know though is that Notre Dame has never had to work for the respect of the media, unlike almost every other football program it is freely given to them (that fruitcake on ESPN with the lisp doesn't help matters).  All I'm saying is how long will it take for decades of lofty expectations and goals to come crashing down on the once proud program?  As far as I can tell one season...  many are saying that without a 10-2 season and a berth in a BCS bowl game (which they will most likely lose by a wide margin and drop to 0-4 in BCS games) Weis is gone, if that is the case prepare for a massive pay-out Irish nation because ten wins simply ain't happening.  I see losses to Michigan, USC, Pittsburgh and Connecticut for the Irish this season (8-4) and a probable firing of Mr. Weis.  Am I impressed by the 35-0 beat down of Nevada in the opening game?  Not really, with a defense as bad as Nevada's almost anyone could slice and dice a secondary like mister underachieving did.

      Honestly if the Irish get through a mediocre at best Schedule unscathed, yes I retract this statement and they do deserve a BCS bid, but if they only win 10 games in which they play teams like Nevada, Washington, Washington St., Purdue and Stanford then they should maybe, just maybe get to go to the Gator Bowl, under 9 wins?  Hello Hawaii, maybe while Weis is there sipping on his third Pina Colada he can just save face and retire.  Who knows, but one thing i do know is that Notre Dame is done if after this season they do only win eight games because it doesn't get any easier, they will lose 4 of 5 OL starters after this season, their safeties and their best Corner Back... so back to 7-6 until they rebuild again?  Irish nation simply won't stand for it and neither should the media.

In the end Just LET IT die.  College football will move on, just like when USC died for a time and Oklahoma and Nebraska... life will go on stop trying to resuscitate this program, if it is going to survive make it do it on its own, just like USC did and just like Oklahoma did, just like Nebraska is asked to do and just like Miami and Florida State are asked to do.




Posted on: April 23, 2009 5:20 pm
 

PAC-10 Preview 2009

The strangle-hold on the automatic BCS bid for the PAC-10 has almost been exclusively USC territorry.  Teams like Arizona St. and Cal have made their attempts but to the victor goes the spoils and right now that victor is continuously the USC Trojans.  As much as I would like to say the loss of Mark Sanchez opens the door I just can't. Since the first Decade of the 2000 mellinium USC has owned the PAC-10 title winning at least a share of it in 7 straight years (2002-2008) while they only had obtained two PAC-10 championship in the 90's and four in the 80's.  This has been the most successful decade since the 70's for the Trojans when they routed the PAC-10 for 6 championships.  Will this be the year the Pete Carroll express is finally knocked off the railways?  The answer...no. And it is not because they are unbeatable but because they really don't have much competition for the position.

So here are my rankings for the 09-10 season of the PAC-10:

USC

  1. USC
  2. Oregon
  3. California
  4. Arizona
  5. Oregon St.
  6. Arizona St.
  7. UCLA
  8. Stanford
  9. Washington
  10. Washington St.

From five to ten there really is a log jam in the PAC-10, could this be UCLA's year to shine?  Could Stanfor beat the powerhouse USC again away from hom and can ASU bounce back from one of the most disappointing seasons since Carpenter took over at quarterback?  Could Oregon repeat as front runners to the two spot and even challenge USC for 1 or will Cal be right on the door steps ready to pounce if the Giant falters?  A lot of questions again this year and not a whole lot of answers.

USC - The loss of Mark Sanchez has been touted as the big blow to the Trojans, but is a one year starter really that big of a blow to a team that just reloads year after year?  It seems like the Scholarship cap placed by the NCAA has no affect on the Trojans.  That being said the offense will be the most talked about side of the ball this off-season even though there really are more questions on a Defense that returns only two starters. Mitch Mustain looked like the usurper at the helm although it looks like the younger Aaron Corp is going to win the job.  An experienced O-Line is back as well as the receiving corps and the two leading backs for USC, their offense will be fine.  The Reload theory takes a big hit this offseason with only outstanding safety Taylor Mays and Soph. CB Tareece Wright coming back the entire front seven will have to gell quickly and should be able to even though a big away game at an angry Ohio State club is going to test them early.

Oregon - Many people discount the Ducks because they only return ten starters, five on each side.  But, this teams should be just as good as last year.  Masoli and Blount are genuine threats to get to the end-zone quickly and if indeed USC's D is lacking they should be able to smash mouth their way to the second and maybe even the first spot in the PAC-10.  However, their Defense will have to pick up steam and do it quick if they wish to make a run at their first PAC-10 title since 2001.

California - Of the top three in the PAC-10 Cal has the most returning starters all around.  And the loss of Nate Longshore might be a blessing in disguise as Kevin Riley can perform without him breathing down his neck for starting time.  Of one of the best (no pun intended) running backs in the nation will be back full force this season in Jahvid Best along with a slew of veteran jr and sr receivers.  Don't be surprised of the Bears try to put themselves on the map this season.  With games @ Oregon and at home against USC early in the year they will know their standing in the PAC-10 by the end of week five.


Team most likely to shock the heck out of you?

AU

Arizona: Arizona has been on the precipice of moving from a decent team to a good team for a few years now and the fact that they return 14 starters from a year ago should scare some PAC-10 fans.  Quarterback Willie Tuitama is gone, but not all is lost for the Wildcats.  If Matt Scott can take over the reigns affectively and and offensive line that returns 3of5 starters from a year ago can open up some holes for Nic Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Xavier Smith they could surprise some teams this year.  With an entire D-Line returning, and a few in the backfield their defense should be good enough to chorale most teams' running games, but the big question is if the secondary can step up this season and get some take-aways.  Watch out this could be the Dark-Horse team of 2009.

 

Posted on: April 17, 2009 12:57 am
 

SEC Conference Preview 2009

The SEC solidified the fact that it was the dominant conference last season with Florida's dominant win over Oklahoma in the National Title game and they are looking to do more of the same this year.  It looks like a great year for the SEC, they won't be as good as they were last year but they will be darn close.

East:

UF GU UK

  1. Florida
  2. Georgia
  3. Kentucky
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennesseee
  6. Vanderbilt

Florida: Returning 19 of 22 starters and all 11 on defense the Gators will be just as good if not better than they were last year.  Loaded with talent even at the loss of Harvin the only thing that will stop this team is a gross melt down of epic proportions which could happen if leaders like Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer were not the ones controling the teams Psychy.  With Brandon Spikes back this might be on of the best and most talented Defenses in the nation and in recent memory.  This team has a great shot at going undefeated this year with an easier schedule (if there is such a thing in the SEC) they don't play Ole Miss...the only team to beat them last season.

Georgia: The loss of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno are gigantic blows to this team, but Cox and AJ Green should be able to take over effectively enough.  The defense lost a few key players but Richt has talent waiting in the wings.  Without the unrealistic expectations of a preseason number one last year Georgia is free to achieve what they can without feeling the added pressure of expectant National Championship on the line.

Kentucky: Kentucky has the most experienced offense comming back in 2009 with one more starter returning than Florida.  Playmakers Hartline (QB) and Cobb (WR) are back and ready to make noise in  the East.  The problem is on a defense that returns only five starters.  They do have a multitude of Jrs and Srs ready to step up and take on the reigns, but in a Defense happy league the question of how they gell may just keep them in the 3 to 4 area in the East.

West:

UA LSU OM

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Ole Miss
  4. Arkansas
  5. Auburn
  6. Mississippi St.

Alabama: It may seem odd to pick these guys as the top in the West in front of more experienced LSU and Ole Miss especially with the loss of Wilson, Coffee and the big man himself Andre Smith.  First off John Parker Wilson really didn't do much but throw it up for Julio Jones which the incoming quarterback (most likely Greg McElroy) should be able to do as well.  Julio Jones is back and will be an even bigger force as a Sophomore along side of Sr. Mike McCoy.  Mark Ingram will take Coffee's place well enough but it is the offensive line they should be worried about returning only two starters from a year ago.

LSU: Jordan Jefferson looks like the answer to the QB but the loss of WR Demetrius Byrd is a big blow to the offense.  Charles Scott is back and will have to provide most of the offense for them this season and he is capable to do it just like he did last year.  The defense, even though they lost four starters should be better.  The loss of Bo Pelini as DC was tough on them last year but they should be back to form this season.

Ole Miss: Jevon Snead is turning into one of the premere Quarterbacks in the SEC and Houston Nutt is turning the Rebels into over night success stories.  Don't look for the story to end after last season though because they will only be better this season. Dexter McCluster is back and has shown that he has game breaking ability and speed.  Probably the most veteran crew of starters returning in the West so watch out they could make a run for themselves in the SEC.  Just don't be surprised if they actually do make that run.

Looks like another fun filled year of the toughest conference knocking each other around this season and each division could belong to either of three teams.  But my favorites are Bama and Florida to meet in the Championship Game again.  Most likely with the same result.

 

 

Posted on: April 16, 2009 8:03 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2009 11:29 pm
 

Big 10 Conference 2009 Preview

PSU OSU

The last few years have been intollerable for Big 10 fans.  Their teams have been accused of being soft, slow and poorly prepared for Big Games situations.  Which is fair to teams like Ohio State who have proven over the last few years that they aren't up to snuff being blasted in two national title games and losing by 3 to Texas.  That is three straight losses since they beat Notre Dame 34-20 in 2005.  But the tide is hopefully changing for this fast fading conference and it will change on the arms and legs of Terrell Pryor and Daryll Clark.

  1. Ohio St.
  2. Penn St.
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan St.
  5. Minnesota
  6. Michigan
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Northwestern
  9. Illinois
  10. Indiana
  11. Purdue

 

The Big 10 will be a bit better this next year but that doesn't mean every team will be better, just the upper echelon.  It looks like a battle between powerhouses Ohio State and Penn State again and could come to the two teams meeting in the regular season to determin which team gets to the Rose Bowl.

Ohio St.: Top contender Ohio St has a lot of things going for them, most of which start and end with Terrell Pryor.  He showed us why he was such a special tallent last season and will continue to try to meet that expectation.  The loss of Beanie Wells though hurts the Buckeyes as well as the loss of leading tackler James Laurinaitis.  But as does happen most years the Buckeyes will be back in a big way and contending once again for that coveted Big 10 title.  Dan Herron will need to step up in a big way offensively if this team is going to do what they set out to do each year.  The defense is fairly intact, again the loss of Laurinaitis is a big blow but Austin Spitler and Ross Homan should fill in the gaps easily enough.  Watch out the Bucks might try another run at a national title before this decade is over yet.

Penn St.: The Nittany Lions return starting quarterback Daryll Clark and RB Evan Royster and not much else.  The offensive line is desimated by graduation and the defense is desperate to fill the gaps.  Also the loss of two big playmaking receivers leaves Clark to trust his legs more than his arms this season.  The loss of Aaron Maybin is crucial and a devistating blow to a D-Line that was already going to miss most of its playmakers.  The keys for the Lions are that they need the younger players to step up and Royster, Clark and Jr. Wideout Brett Bracket to make plays.  This may be a relatively inexperienced crew but they are experienced enough in key areas to the point where they could make some noise this season.

Team that could surprise?

MU

Michigan: Rodriguez made the fatal mistake of thinking that his system would work with a quarterback like Threet.  Well they weathered that 3-9 season and now look to at least double their win total with a highly touted Freshman quarterback at the helm.  Brandon Minor will be key in this offense that struggled so mightily last season.  if Ritch can get his offense going they will be a team to contend with in the Big 10.

 

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com