Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Notes For Thursday/Friday Game (Games of the Week)

Appalachian State at Tennessee (Thursday)
For the Mountaineers to Win: Appalachian State needs to get Tyler Lamb, one of the best young QBs in the nation, going early. Lamb passed for 31 TDs last fall, and is ready for a break out game. If he does not come and play his A game, that could be a problem. RB Marcus Cox will help balance out the attack after rushing for over 1400 yards last season, and will need to run hard, and help drag out drives.
There is quite a bit of returning talent for the Mountaineers on the defensive side of the football, and that will help when going against a vert talented Vols offense. For the Mountaineers to be successful, they have to get into the face of Josh Dobbs early, create pressure up the middle, and contain on the perimeter. If they can force some bad plays early, ASU can hang in here.
For the Volunteers to Win: UT is favored by 20 in this game, so they should be able to to get a fast start and keep up the offensive pressure in what should be a balanced attack. Dobbs was ineffective last season, and was limited to 176 yards passing per game. When he is good, he can be very good. When he is bad, you know the rest. The pressure may fall on Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara to get the run game going, but App State isn't just going to allow them to run wild.
The Vols strength is on defense, and they will need to bring pressure and force Lamb and company into making mistakes. Tennessee averaged 35.2 points per game last fall, and gave up just over 20.

Kansas State at Stanford (Friday)
For Kansas State to win: The Wildcats are a team that is constantly underrated every single season, but lately, the wheels feel like they are jumping the track just a bit. Few teams will play more physically, and in that way, both teams are the same. Kansas State has to get the edge on that level, and they need to grind out drives on the ground. K State will need to find someone to step up and RB, and they didn't have that last season. They will be relatively young on offense, so there is a chence of finding a surprise in this game. Jesse Ertz just has to be a game manager and doesn't have to force anything, but if the run game doesn't get going, he could be in trouble.
Kansas State was uncharacteristically weak defensively last season, and gave up over 31 points per game. They will be rather young this fall, so that may still be a problem. If Kansas State is going to pull an upset, they will have to get at new Stanford starter Ryan Burns immediately. THey also have to find a way to stop Christian McCaffrey, which is a tall order.
For Stanford: The Cardinal will need to establish McCaffrey, the favorite for the Heisman in 2016, in every way possible early on. He is a weapon in both the passing game, and in the run game. Get McCaffrey going, and Ryan Burns doesn't have to worry.
Stanford gave up just 22 points per game last fall, and that unit should be a strength once again. If they can get at Jesse Ertz and force him into mistakes, and can make him go beyond being a game manager, the game has been won. Disrupting their run game should not be very difficult, and that would put a cap on it.

Toledo at Arkansas State (Friday)
For Toledo to win: It will be interesting to see who lines up at QB between Logan Woodside or Michael Julian. Neither has a whole lot of experience, OK, next to none, so there is an issue there in trying to get the passing game established. If they can get going, that will take some pressure off. Kareem Hunt should be healthy and with Terry Swanson adding his abilities to the run game, the Rockets could get the win if that duo can break some plays.
Defensively, Toledo gave up just 20 points per game, so they will try to keep the overall scoring low to get a crack at winning this road game.
This will be the debut of coach Jason Candle.
For Arkansas State to win: The Red Wolves will likely be starting a new QB according to their most recent 2 deep. RS junior Justice Hanson will be starting at QB, and he has no experience there. Johnsont White will step into the starting job at RB, and rushed for 616 yards and 14 scores last season. Getting him going early will be key. Warren Wand rushed for 707 yards last season, so the run game should carry the day.
Defensively, Arkansas State had to outscore opponents in track meets, as they gave up just over 30 points per game. That will not be an option here. If Toledo gets moving, and their strong defense frustrates the Wolves ground game, Arkansas State may not be able to keep up. ASU cannot allow long drives, and must stop Toledo, especially on 3rd down conversions to win this game.

Monday, August 29, 2016

College Football Week One Straight Up Picks

Here are my picks (straight up) for every week one game in FBS and FCS College Football:

Thursday, September 1
Central Michigan over Presbyterian
Louisville over Charlotte
Tulane over Wake Forest
Cincinnati over Tennessee-Martin
U Conn over Maine
NC State over William & Mary
Indiana over FIU
Tennessee over Appalachian State
South Carolina over Vanderbilt
Utah over Southern Utah
Utah State over Weber State
Western Kentucky over Rice
Minnesota over Oregon State
New Mexico over South Dakota
Idaho over Montana State
UNLV over Jackson State
Georgia State over Ball State
Friday, September 2
Eastern Michigan over Mississppi Valley State
Buffalo over Albany
Syracuse over Colgate
Temple over Army
Michigan State over Furman
Baylor over Northwestern State
Colorado over Colorado State
Stanford over Kansas State
Toledo over Arkansas State
Nevada over Cal Poly
Boise State over UL-Lafayette
FAU over Southern Illinois
Old Dominion over Hampton
UTSA over Alabama State
Troy over Austin Peay
Saturday, 9/3
Georgia Tech over Boston College
Oklahoma over Houston
Navy over Fordham
Purdue over Eastern Kentucky
Western Michigan over Northwestern
Ohio State over Bowling Green
Michigan over Hawaii
Mississippi State over South Alabama
West Virginia over Missouri
Maryland over Howard
Virginia Tech over Liberty
Pittsburgh over Villanova
Air Force over Abilene Christian
Washington over Rutgers
Texas A&M over UCLA
LSU over Wisconsin
Virginia over Richmond
Penn State over Kent State
Iowa over Miami (Ohio)
Ohio over Texas State
Illinois over Murray State
Oklahoma State over SE Louisiana
Arkansas over Louisiana Tech
Oregon over UC-Davis
North Carolina over Georgia
Duke over North Carolina Central
East Carolina over Western Carolina
Miami over Florida A&M
Georgia Southern over Savannah State
Akron over VMI
Tulsa over San Jose State
Middle Tennessee over Alabama A&M
SMU over North Texas
USF over Towson
UCF over South Carolina State
Kansas over Rhode Island
Memphis over SE Missouri State
UL-Monroe over Southern
Southern Miss over Kentucky
Florida over U Mass
Alabama over USC
Iowa State over Northern Iowa
Nebraska over Fresno State
Washington State over Eastern Washington
UTEP over New Mexico State
TCU over South Dakota State
Texas Tech over Stephen F Austin
San Diego State over New Hampshire
Clemson over Auburn
Arizona over BYU
Northern Illinois over Wyoming
Arizona State over Northern Arizona
Sunday, 9/4
Notre Dame over Texas
Monday, 9/5
Florida State over Ole Miss

Wednesday, 8/31
Samford over Mars Hill
Wofford over Tennessee Tech
Thursday 9/1
Wagner over St. Anselm
Missouri State over Southwestern
Eastern Illinois over Western Illinois
Delaware over Delaware State
Robert Morris over Alderson Broaddus
Jacksonville State over North Alabama
Campbell over Bluefield
Citadel over Mercer
Chattanooga over Shorter
Stony Brook over North Dakota
Youngstown State over Duquesne
Central Arkansas over Houston Baptist
Lafayette over Central Connecticut State
Friday, 9/2
Idaho State over Simon Fraser
Northern Colorado over Rocky Mountain
Kennesaw State over East Tennessee State
Charleston Southern over Kentucky State
Saturday, 9/3
Lehigh over Monmouth
Georgetown over Davidson
Holy Cross over Morgan State
Norfolk State over Elizabeth City State
Bryant over Merrimack
Indiana State over Butler
Elon over Gardner-Webb
Portland State over Central Washington
North Carolina A&T over St. Augustine's
James Madison over Morehead State
Bucknell over Marist
Texas A&M Kingsville over Incarnate Word
McNeese State over Tarleton State
Sam Houston State over Panhandle State (OK)
Dayton over Central State
Drake over Quincy
Tennessee State over Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Illinois State over Valporaiso
Sacred Heart over Stetson
Grambling State over Virginia-Lynchburg
Montana over St. Francis
Coastal Carolina over Lamar
San Diego over Western New Mexico
Sacramento State over Western Oregon
Sunday, 9/4
Bethune-Cookman over Alcorn State
Prairie View over Texas Southern

College Football 2016: Week One Picks Against the Spread

I only anticipated picking ten games against the spread in week one of the 2016 college football season, but there were too many interesting lines to pick from. Here are my picks for the first full week of games:

Favored Points  Dogs My Pick
Wake Forest 17  Tulane Tulane
Vanderbilt 4.5  South Carolina SCAR
Stanford 15  Kansas State KSU
Michigan 40.5  Hawaii HAW
Penn State 22  Kent State PSU
Kentucky  6.5  Southern Miss USM
Arkansas 26   Louisiana Tech TECH
Clemson 7.5  Auburn CLEM
Texas A&M  3  UCLA TAM
Tulsa 5  San Jose State TULSA
LSU 10  Wisconsin WISC
Georgia 3  North Carolina UNC
Alabama 11  USC BAMA
Boise State 20  UL-Lafayette BOISE
Arizona 1.5  BYU ZONA
Northern Illinois 10  Wyoming NIU
Notre Dame 3.5  Texas ND
Florida State 4.5  Ole Miss FSU
Indiana  9  FIU IU
Louisville 39.5  Charlotte Louisville
Georgia Tech 3  Boston College GT
Northwestern 5.5  Western Michigan WMU
UTEP 9.5  New Mexico State UTEP
SMU 9.5  North Texas SMU

Ask the Professor: 2016 Volume One

I am bringing back a rather popular piece from a few years back called "Ask the Professor". In past seasons, we have brought on panelists to give us multiple "professors", and that is once again the goal for this season as it wears on. Stay tuned for that development.
In the meantime, please enjoy the first volume of "Ask the Professor" for the 2016 season!

Question 1: Can the Alabama Crimson Tide win another National Championship under NIck Saban?

Answer: Of course they can. In my mind, Alabama is the front runner for the national championship until someone says that they aren't. Nick Saban is the best football coach in the nation, and I am not an SEC homer who says these things blindly. Saban is running a factory of talent in Tuscaloosa, and a big win over USC in Dallas this weekend will move the needle straight in the direction of keeping the Tide moving towards that goal. Here's what is scary about the Tide in 2016. They may actually be faster and more athletic than teams that have won the title for them in years past. That is a huge thing to thing about for their opponents. 

Question 2: Who is the likely to be the first FBS coach to be fired?

Answer: That could be a toss up between two candidates. Everyone knows that Darrell Hazell would have been out at Purdue after last season had it not been for a strangely high buyout figure. If Hazell gets off to yet another slow start in West Lafayette this season, his new AD may not have a very light trigger finger when it comes to making a move. Purdue can no longer afford to languish at the bottom of the Big 10. 
One other candidate who could get an early hook is Paul Haynes at Kent State, who strangely enough replaced Hazell when he left for the Purdue job. Hazell nearly took Kent State to a BCS bowl, something unthinkable during most of my lifetime. All Haynes has done in his tenure is drive the ship into the ground, and Kent State is back to being the joke of the program that it normally always has been. 
Look for guys like Paul Petrino at Idaho and Doug Martin at New Mexico State could be casualties as well, and with both programs being dropped by the Sun Belt, they could be looking to make fresh starts sooner than later, especially with Idaho moving back to FCS football in 2017. 

Question 3: If Texas Longhorn coach Charlie Strong does not win a least 8 games, well he return to as Head Coach for the 2017 season?

Answer: If the administration stands strong and resists the boosters and loud mouthed alums, the answer will be yes. There is no guarantee that Strong will win 8 or more games in 2016, and the deck is stacked against them doing so. 
I always look at hiring a coach as being part of a 5 year plan. Year one, expect nothing but hopefully being competitive. Year two, start looking for slight improvements, and an increase in wins, even if slight. Year three, expect a trip to a bowl game. Year four, expect to compete for a conference title. Year five, compete nationally. If by year three no improvements have come, it may be time to move on. 
In the case of Strong, one must remember that he came on board with a mostly empty cupboard as far as talent was concerned, as Mack Brown had largely gotten stale since playing USC for the national title. The talent level was sinking like a stone, and recruiting wasn't what it once was. Strong had the job of firing up a mostly apathetic recruiting base, while at the same time dealing with boosters and program hanger on types that expected miracles right away for no other reason than the name on the front of the jersey. That was and is not realistic, and so patience must prevail and stay the course. 
I will tell you that if Strong were to be fired, he would be snapped up by any number of other programs looking for a coach after the season, and it would take days, not weeks, for him to find another high profile gig. 

Question 4: What player is the leading candidate to win the 2016 Heisman Trophy?

Answer: There could be a huge field heading into the season, but you never know until the games start being played. The first name that comes to mind is Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, who was the runner up in 2015. McCaffrey has an issue, however, an that is finding a QB to get him the ball, as Ryan Burns will be the new starter this season. If Burns cannot get a rhythm going in the offense, teams will stack the box to get at McCaffrey. Stanford als likely has to win at least 10 games to get McCaffrey into contention, which is something I am not sure they can do. 
Staying in the PAC-12, I have predicted a huge season for Mike Leach and Washington State. If they can match my projection, and win at least ten games, and win the North, Luke Falk, the best statistical QB in the nation, could be in the running as well. 
Of course, look to Clemson and QB Deshaun Watson as another front line guy. Clemson is a solid favorite to win the ACC, and could get back to the final four. If that happens, Watson may be the guy, but he also needs to stay healthy. 
Leonard Fournette all but had the trophy last season until Alabama stumped him. Look for him to come out swinging, if he doesn't throttle back to save himself for the NFL like some are suggesting. LSU also has some coaching issues and depth issues at QB, so all of that may lead to the same issue that McCaffrey has.
Another SEC candidate could be Chad Kelly at Ole Miss. If Houston goes unbeaten, Greg Ward, Jr. could find his way in as well. Another guy to watch is Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma, and Davis Webb at Cal put on a clinic last Friday night, but he plays for Cal, so he is a long shot at best. We will know more by the end of September. 

Question 5: Who are the top Quarterbacks prospects who might be picked in the 1st Round of next springs NFL Draft?
Answer: We already talked about two such candidates in Washington State QB Luke Falk, and Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly. Falk is basically Jared Goff part 2, while Kelly is a fiery leader with a cannon arm. They could both be top ten guys in the 2017 draft. 
Also look for Davis Webb, who is running the same offense that Goff ran last year at Cal. 
One more first round pick could be found in Miami QB Brad Kaaya, who may be the best pro type QB in the ACC. 
Others who could be drafted later would include the following: Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, Dane Evans, Tulsa, Nick Mullins, Southern Miss, Cooper Rush, Central Michigan, Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State, Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, Deshaun Watson, Clemson, and DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame.

That's all for this week's edition of "Ask the Professor"! Have a question for us? Send all questions to my Twitter feed @BiloFootball, or try our Facebook page at Bilo College Football Report. Until then, don't forget to listen in as I join the "Mitch and Pritch Show" Wednesday's on Las Vegas' ESPN Radio 1100 and 100.9, and you can listen to the podcast at lvsportsnetwork.com. I will Join hosts Mitch Moss and Mike Pritchard every week to discuss the college football topics of the week every Wednesday from 8/31 through the end of the season! Check back for times between 1245 and 1PM PST! 
Have a great week and enjoy the games everyone!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

College Football 2016: Week One Games of the Week

Here is a look at my picks for games of the week for week one of the college football season:

Thursday 9/1
Appalachian State at Tennessee
The Mountaineers have a history of going to marquee stadiums and pulling out wins. This may not be their big chance for a win over a Power Five program, but they may get one this season. Appalachian State, if they lose, may not likely lose many more this season.
Tennessee is under more pressure than Appalachian State to win this football game, and Butch Jones is in big need of a fast start. A loss here may be an indicator of how the season may go moving forward, and I am not sold on Tennessee overall. There is a chance for Appalachian State here, but it's a long shot.
Pick: Tennessee

Western Illinois at Eastern Illinois
This is a marquee FCS opener for two rivals from different conferences. Western and Eastern are both in position to push for an FCS playoff bid, but the winner here gets a huge head start in that process.
Pick: Western gets the road win.

Duquesne at Youngstown State
Duquesne is vulnerable at the top of the Northeast Conference, but a road win at Youngstown would show the nation that the Dukes are not ready to step back just yet.
Bo Pelini is still trying to get the Penguins back to the top of the mountain after a 5-6 start last season in year one. Pelini needs this win to start the season, but it won't be easy, not even at home.
Pick: Youngstown State and Bo Pelini get their quick start.

Montana State at Idaho
This will be a Big Sky game in 2017 once Idaho drops back down to FCS football. For now, it could be a preview of what is to come. The Bobcats are looking for consistency and have a new coach in Jeff Choate. They also need to find a QB for 2016, and so that will be a huge task heading in. Idaho just needs to show that they still care in a lame duck season.
Pick: Idaho

Friday 9/2

Kansas State at Stanford
The Friday night schedule in week one is rather thin for meaningful games, and this game is not exactly top shelf, but Ryan Burns will get the start at QB for the Cardinal, and he will go up against what is usually a stout and physical defense. Luckily, he has been working against his own defense in workouts, so he knows how that will be.
Kansas State has been slipping in recent seasons, and if the Wildcats start off slowly, Bill Snyder may start to consider when the end of his run will be.
Pick: Stanford

Toledo at Arkansas State
This is a top shelf Group of Five tilt between two conference contenders from the MAC and Sun Belt. This is also game one of the Jason Candle era as head coach of Toledo. Candle takes over for Matt Campbell, who left for Iowa State (questionable move in my book). He has a relatively stocked roster, and Toledo will bring their A game.
Arkansas State will be one of the three best teams in the Sun Belt, and Blake Anderson has a solid roster heading in. The Red Wolves would love to get a huge start at home, and it will take everything they have to get there.
Pick: Arkansas State

Saturday 9/3

Oklahoma at Houston
Oklahoma is a top five program in my book heading into the season. They are loaded at every position, but will it be enough to get by a massive road test against a Houston team that crushed Florida State in the Peach Bowl?
Houston is coming off of a huge season in 2015, and would love to join Oklahoma in the Big 12. If Houston can claim an upset here, there is no argument against them. If Houston loses this game, they may not lose another, and could find themselves in the NY6 bowls again. If Houston wins, Oklahoma may lose the only shot the league has of making the four team playoff.
There is a ton on the line.
Pick: Oklahoma

Western Michigan at Northwestern
On the surface, this is not a typical game of the week, but Western Michigan is trying to prove that they are right there with Houston as far as being a dominant Group of Five program, and they have one of the fastest rising young coaches in the nation in PJ Fleck. WMU can really run up the offense, and they will challenge the Northwestern defense at every turn.
The deal is that Northwestern has a very strong defense, and they can really shut down the best offenses when they want to. Northwestern needs to solid start to their season, and if they fail at that, this is a team that could spiral, as they did two years ago. This is a must get for Northwestern, yet Western Michigan has less to lose.
Pick: Western Michigan

UCLA at Texas A&M
Nobody really knows what to expect out of the Aggies in 2016, and Kevin Sumlin is squarely on the hot seat. He has hired former UCLA OC Noel Mazzone to run the offense, and Mazzone will have Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight to work with, but Knight never really showed consistency in Norman, and Mazzone has never showed consistency as a coordinator. Making matters worse is that UCLA will know what he is going to do, because he is as predictable as they get.
The drawback on UCLA is that this, historically and on average, is a game that the Bruins tend to lose. College Station is a tough place to play in, but the Bruins should have the edge. Why, then, are they the dog here?
Pick: Texas A&M

LSU vs. Wisconsin (at Green Bay)
Wisconsin lost their best OL to injury this week for the season, and Leonard Fournette of LSU was in a walking boot last week. That really shakes up expectations for this game, especially for a Badger unit that struggled on offense at times last fall. LSU is an outright favorite if this game is in Baton Rouge, but it's not. LSU is also having an emotional time, as the city is under water due to flooding. They may use that as a launching pad to a win on the road, but playing Wisconsin anywhere in the state is never an easy route to a win. This is a flip for me.
Pick: LSU, but very narrowly.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas
Arkansas could be on upset alert when the Bulldogs roll into town this week. Arkansas fell at home to Toledo last year, and had a lossto UL-Monroe a few years back. Could the trend continue?
Pick: Louisiana Tech

Georgia vs. North Carolina (At Atlanta)
The Bulldogs may have the better RB crew heading in, but UNC has the better all around offense. Kirby Smart is a defensive guru, but is the UGA defense ready for the Tar Heels? UNC also has the better QB in Mitcu Trubisky, and it's not even close.
Pick: North Carolina

Southern Mississippi at Kentucky
Southern Miss is an absolute ten win team in 2016, and I am not even sure how UK is favored in this one. Jay Hopson could get a big win in his FBS and Southern Miss coaching debut, while Mark Stoops needs this win for the Wildcats to stave off the Dead Pool.
Pick: Southern Miss

USC vs. Alabama (At Dallas)
We really do not know much about the Trojans other than they will go with a K Gun attack on offense. Alabama still has not made an official announcement on a starting QB, but is it even necessary? USC has more to prove than Bama does, and that is for certain.
Pick: Alabama

Northern Iowa at Iowa State
UNI is going to be a tough out in the Missouri Valley, and they have had success in this series before. Matt Campbell is hoping to not have his coaching debut in Ames undone by the FCS Panthers.
Pick: Iowa State

Eastern Washington at Washington State
The Cougars fell to a Big Sky team in Portland State last season. Another start like that would be a wreck for a Cougar team that I feel can win ten games this fall. EWU is a top four FCS program, and has the best player in FCS football in WR Cooper Kupp. The Cougars have the best QB in FBS football in Luke Falk. This will be a fun game to watch among the glut of great games this week.
Pick: Washington State

Clemson at Auburn
Clemson should win here, let that be said, but Auburn has a ton to prove. Anytime you can watch Deshaun Watson is a treat, but can the defense do a better job than they did against Alabama?
Pick: Clemson

Arizona vs. BYU (At Glendale)
Arizona needs to find out how committed Rich Rodriguez is to the program after he used South Carolina's opening to get an extension from UA. He is also now thinking about using a 2 QB system, which is bad news for Anu Solomon, who really needs to be the guy. BYU is beginning the Kilane Sitake era after Bronco Mendenhall left for Virginia. This could be anybodies game, but should be one of the more entertaining games in the West.
Pick: BYU

St. Francis (PA) at Montana
This will be a measuring stick game for how far the Red Flashes of St. Francis have come, as they head into the year as a potential favorite in the Northeast Conference of FCS football. Montana will have a huge advantage at home, and Bob Stitt is trying to push the Griz back into the elite of FCS football. The most interesting FCS game on a day where the schedule is thin on high profile clashes.
Pick: Montana

Sunday 9/4

Alcorn State at Bethune-Cookman
A familiar face pops back up coaching the Braves of Alcorn State in Fred McNair, brother of the late Steve McNair, who put this program on the map. Gone is coach Jay Hopson for Southern Miss, but McNair should have enough talent on hand to make a run at the SWAC title. Bethune-Cookman is going to be in the mix in the MEAC under Terry Sims, now in his second season with the Wildcats. He hasn't missed a beat since taking over for the very successful Brian Waters, and the Cats will be ready for this challenge in a high profile HBCU clash on Sunday.
Pick: Bethune-Cookman

Monday 9/5
Florida State vs. Ole Miss (At Orlando)
FSU has had ongoing injury issues at QB with Sean Maguire, but it looks like he will be healthy for this game, at least enough to play. DeAndre Francois is still expected to start. Ole Miss is in the middle of an intensive NCAA investigation that is now spreading, and it could be a huge distraction for the Rebels, even if they do have the best QB in the SEC in Chad Kelly. This game will go down to the wire, but could go either way.
Pick: Ole Miss

2016 College Football Kickoff Weekend In Review

Two games were played this weekend in college football, kicking off the 2016 season with both a resounding thud in one case, and giving us a clash to remember in the other. California met Hawaii on Friday night (or Saturday in Sydney, Australia, where this was played for no real reason), and on Saturday evening, we were given the FCS Kickoff game between North Dakota State and Charleston Southern, both top ten programs on the FCS level. The FCS Kickoff was by far the more entertaining of the two, as the Sydney Cup (1st annual, and here's hoping the last) was just a stinker of a game.
Let's take a look at both of these games and see what we could take away from the Kickoff weekend.

Cal Looks Awful on Defense
We all sort of knew this would be the case. The Bears have not been good on defense for as long as I can remember at this point, and Sonny Dykes has never coached teams with a shut down defense mindset. Cal, who gave up over 30 points per game last season, was at their worst, allowing 31 points to a Hawaii offense that averaged just 17.6 points per game last season. Ikaika Woolsey, who passed for just 968 yards in 13 games last season, scorched the Cal defense for 234 yards and a TD to go with a pick. He did only manage to complete 50% of his passes (just one point over his rate last fall), but he looked much better than he is against a very weak Cal secondary.
If the Bears cannot fix their pass defense, they will be in for it come PAC-12 time, and may even struggle to beat San Diego State in their next game in two weeks.

Cal 51, Hawaii 31

Davis Webb Makes Bears Forget About Jared Goff
One thing that a Sonny Dykes offense does is make the QB position interchangeable. Gone is Jared Goff, but Webb passed for 441 yards, completed 70.4% of his passes, connected on four TDs, and ran for another. Webb was headed to Colorado before Cal intercepted him and brought him to Berkely, and I am sure that Mike MacIntyre wants to vomit right about now.

Cal Will Go Runner By Committee 
No one back in the Cal offense carried more than 11 times, and three backs ran at least 10 times. The Bears will never be a power run team under Dykes, but they certainly could use someone to stand out as the season progresses. Khalfani Muhammed did run for 96 yards and a score, so look for him to get more work as the season moves on.

Ikaika Woolsey Played Over His Head
I don't expect Woolsey to be a 200 yard per game QB throughout the season, nor do I think that it is healthy to ask him to attempt 34 passes per game. He looked flat early on, got a good run going, but all of this came against what arguably may be the worst defense in the PAC-12. Former QB Nick Rolovich was a strong passer in his day with the Rainbows, but he may end up asking too much of the limited Woolsey down the stretch.

Hawaii Found Success Running the Ball
Hawaii ran fairly decently against Cal, but again, only so much could be read from that. Diocemy Saint Juste rushed for 118 yards on just 14 carries, and accounted for a score, while Steven Lakalaka and Paul Harris added TDs on the ground as well. If Hawaii can find some balance, they may see improvement this season.

Hawaii Still Can't Defend
That may be where it starts and ends for the Rainbows in 2016. The defense gave up 441 yards to Davis Webb in the passing game, and often just forgot to cover Chad Hanson, who caught two TD passes. Giving up 51 points to Cal isn't surprising, but they have to do a better job of defending with talented teams like Michigan, Arizona, and even Tennessee-Martin all coming up.

North Dakota State 24, Charleston Southern 17 (OT)

Despite Experience In 2015, Easton Stick Was Flat
Easton Stick played plenty in 2015, as Carson Wentz was often injured. Stick looked plainly rattled early in this game, and was beaten up by the CSU front on skilled blitzes from everywhere. Stick finally relaxed somewhat in the second half, but tossed a scary INT late in the game that almost gave the Buccaneers an upset win in the Fargo Dome. Stick passed for 194 yards and two very nice TDs, and ran for another 45 yards in a gutsy performance, but he has to clear his head.

NDSU Went Backs By Committee Again
King Frazier, the leading rusher last season by far, only saw 11 carries for 79 yards, but he scored the game winner in OT. When all was said and done, seven different Bison ran the football in the win. If NDSU can keep Frazier fresh, he will be more than ready to carry the load in Missouri Valley Conference Play.

Bison Defense Come Up Big Despite Losing Leader
Nick DeLuca is always in the middle of the action on the NDSU defense, but was lost early in the second half with a shoulder injury. Instead of being made irrelevant by the injury, the star LB turned into a coach on the sidelines, working closely with the youngsters that were coming up in his place. The defense, in turn, came up with big stop after big stop, and despite giving up 14 points after the half, the unit saved the day on more than one occasion and gave the CSU spread option fits at times.

Charleston Southern Played With Nothing To Lose
CSU has far less the pedigree, low end budget and facilities, yet came within a few feet on a missed FG from beating the top ranked Bison in Fargo, and for a time, kept the famed Fargo Dome Crowd quiet. CSU played loose all game, and despite lacking the depth of their opponents, left everything on the field until injuries mounted in the second half. Even then, the Buccaneers kept on grinding. This was a wonderful intro to CSU coach Jamie Chadwell, one of the best young coaches in the country.

Kicking Game Cost CSU the Win
CSU missed to FGs, one early, and one at the end of regulation, and that was simply the difference. NDSU missed a kick as well that could have ended this game earlier on, but both teams seem to have deficiencies in the kicking game, which we already knew heading in. Those difficiencies ended up costing CSU here.

CSU RB Mike Holloway Will Be a Star
Holloway scored both CSU TDs in this game, including the play that tied it up at 17. He rushed for 126 yards on just 10 carries, and should become a household name in FCS football as the season wears on. Despite the Buccaneers losing this football game in OT, Holloway was my player of the game.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

North Dakota State Bison vs. Charleston Southern Buccaneers Preview

North Dakota State vs. Charleston Southern
FCS Kickoff
Saturday 8/26, 4:30 PM PST

North Dakota State Story Lines: NDSU is coming off of their record fifth consecutive FCS title, and are ranked number one in the nation opening the season in the STATS rankings. GOne is Carson Wentz at QB, but all is not lost, as Easton Stick returns as a sophomore after attempting 147 passes in 10 games last fall. Stick is the perfect guy to take over, as he was a big piece of the run the team had last fall when Wentz was hurt. He passed for 13 TDs and just 4 picks, so he is ready.
King Frazier is back at RB after rushing for 1158 yards last season. He really separated himself from the pack after NDSU largely used a committee early on. Bruce Anderson, Lance Dunn, and Chase Morlock all return as well.
There was balance among the receivers last season, and four of the top five receivers all return to help Stick in the passing game.
A weak spot for the Bison is in the kicking game, as Cam Pedersen connected on only 12/21 FGs last fall.
Defensively, look for NDSU to bring a physical front seven, while the secondary is more than capable of creating turnovers and making plays.

Charleston Southern Story Lines: CSU is a rising power in FCS football, and enters the season ranked 7th in the FCS STATS poll. Jamey Chadwell is a rising star in the coaching game, and could be elsewhere next season after a successful 2016.
The Buccaneers will need to identify a new QB after losing Austin Brown, and this environment will be a rough place to break in a new guy. Kyle Copeland will take the snaps under center after completing 31/52 passes in a backup role last fall. He did pass for five TDs, and tossed just one INT. The strength of the offense is in the run game in the read option offense, and the top three backs all return as seniors in Darius Hammond, Mike Holloway, and Ben Robinson. This group combined to rush for nearly 2000 yards combined last fall. No returning receiver caught more than 21 passes last fall, so the passing game could be suspect.
The strength of the defense is the back end, where the Bucs can absolutely create turnovers on INTs. They are an opportunistic unit that could give the Bison fits if they aren't careful.

My Pick: North Dakota State

California Golden Bears vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Preview

Cal Bears vs. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
at Sydney, Australia
Game Time: 7:00 PST

California Story Lines: The Golden Bears start life after Jared Goff in a much better state than they were anticipating when they signed Davis Webb to a commitment after he was all but ready to head to fellow PAC-12 member Colorado. Webb should be able to allow the Bears passing offense to transition nearly seamlessly from the loss of Goff to the NFL. Chase Forrest, a sophomore who completed 10/18 passes last season, will be the backup after he left spring ball with the starting job before Webb arrived.
Establishing a run game will be a priority for the Bears as Tre Watson is lined up to start at RB after carrying just 88 times last season. The Junior will have all eyes on him early on to help the Bears balance out what they can of their pass happy offense.
The Bears, who start four receivers, will be replacing all four heading into this game, so the entire starting passing unit will be breaking each other in. Getting a rhythm going early will be a huge point of emphasis.
Matt Anderson hit 18/21 FGs last season, but will focus solely on punting in 2016, but could still see some work at PK. Cole Leininger has moved on at Punter. Sophomore Dylan Klumph is slated to get a bulk of the time at PK.
On defense, Cal loses their best player as a grad transfer in Hardy Nickerson, who moved on to Illinois. Second leading tackler and LB Kyle Kragen is gone as well. Cal will be breaking in some new players at LB. SS Damarley Drew will be expected to step into a leadership role. Cal had no one player who registered double figures in sacks last season, so finding a way to get pressure in the backfield will be a priority for this unit. Cal also gave up 30 or more points six times last season, so keeping Hawaii under that number will be very important to measure where this defense is at.
Sonny Dykes is just 14-23 entering his fourth season, and needs to get a fast start, which is always what Cal does, before they tend to fade off from the mid point of the season on.

Hawaii Story Lines: It all starts with brand new coach Nick Rolovich, who is starting his first head coaching job. He is a former star QB at Hawaii, so he understands the program and the culture, but he has a huge task ahead of him. Rolovich will also coordinate the offense, which is a role he held last season at Nevada. Hawaii is coming off a three win season, and lost 10.
Rolovich must first build some kind of offensive surge after scoring just 17.6 points per game. QB Max Wittek is gone after a far from stellar season, and Ikaika Woolsey will be back in a starting role, and played in all 13 games last season, but only completed 49% of his pass attempts. He will be project number one for Rolovich in building an offense, and if he can't get going, a replacement is likely before things het out of hand.
Paul Harris is back at RB, and should be a focal point of the offense against Cal, after rushing for 1132 yards, but he also only rushed for six scores. He needs to be placed in scoring opportunities more often. He averaged just over 16 carries per game last fall, and should see that number climb to over 20 this season for the Rainbows to be successful. There is no backup option of any developed kind in  the run game.
There is plenty of depth in the receiving game, as five of the top six receivers are returning, so there is a silver lining.
Where Hawaii is similar to Cal is their ability to give up points in buckets. Teams scored 35.6 points per game against Hawaii in 2015, which was good for 11th in the Mountain West.
Hawaii loses four of their top six tacklers from last fall, and must rebuild that production. Kennedy Tulimasealii is a star at DE, and will try to make life rough on Cal's backfield, and will get help from LB Jerrol Garcia-Williams, who recorded 89 tackles last fall. The secondary must create turnovers, which is something they were terrible at last fall.

Point Spread: Cal -19.5 (Las Vegas Westgate)
OU: 64
My Pick: Cal at -19.5, Over

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Notre Dame Arrest Breakdown

Six layers were arrested Friday night from the Notre Dame football roster in two separate incidents. One player, Devin Butler, was arrested at the Linebacker Lounge in South Bend after physically assaulting a police officer who was one of many responding to a fight between two women at the bar. Butler allegedly shoved one of the women in the fight, and then when told to back away by the officers shoved several of them before punching one and shoving him to the ground. Butler then proceeded to punch the officer several times in the body, and even removed the officer's utility belt, all of this according to an ABC News report.
The other five were all arrested during a traffic stop in some 35 miles from the Notre Dame campus. During this stop, Ashton White, Max Redfield, Kevin Stepherson, Te'Von Coney, and Devin Williams were all arrested and charged with crimes involving having a loaded weapon in the vehicle without a permit to carry, and possession of marijuana. The traffic stop occurred because of speeding and a broken tail light.
Here is the breakdown on where these players fall in the Notre Dame two deep as of earlier this week:

Devin Butler, CB: Not on the 2 deep roster
Ashton White, CB:  Not on the 2 deep roster
Max Redfield, SS: Backup at SS this last week, but battling for a starting spot
Kevin Stepherson, WR: Freshman was listed as a second unit WR.
Te'Von Coney, LB: Listed as a starter
Devin Williams, RB: Not on the 2 deep, but was expected to play plentiful minutes in a RB rotation.

In short, These two situations will likely effect depth for the Irish heading into their game against Texas in two weeks. Redfield would at the very least play in package situations in the secondary, while losing Coney at LB will alter competition there. Williams was expected to provide an extra body for the run game, but a third member of a RB committee is the easiest to lose. Stepherson, who is a freshman, was going to add depth at WR, but now that unit gets even more inexperienced in his absence. White and Butler were the two most disposable players involved in these arrests, but their roles really remain to be seen if they return.
One thing to remember is that no discipline has been levied by Notre Dame, but one has to believe that there will be some kind of punishment ranging all over the field of ability. These arrests were damaging, but it could have been far worse, and now one has to wonder what is going on at Notre Dame, a school who rarly ever had issues like this, and now it seems to be an increasing problem under Brian Kelly.
We will have to wait and see how this sorts out, but the bottom line is that none of this is good for the brand.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rising Coaching Stars 2016

With the 2016 college football season coming a week from tomorrow, I'd like to take a look at some rising stars in the coaching ranks. Some are obvious choices, some you may not have heard of just yet. either way, these are stars on the rise that all college football fans should be keeping an eye on.

Matt Ruhle, Temple
The Owls are not likely to get a power five bid any time soon, and Ruhle has kept Temple relevant in both AAC play and the national stage. Ruhle is a solid prospect who's name has started to pop up for other gigs in the last several months, and I don't see him staying at Temple forever.

Willie Taggert, USF
Taggert turned a disaster into a winner at Western Kentucky, and now is in a rebuild mode at USF, and that rebuild is very close to paying off. Taggert does not get near the attention he should, as USF gets little national or local buzz. USF would love to get that Big 12 invite, but lagging attendance and an apathetic approach from outsiders will eventually lead Tagger to a more high profile job sometime very soon.

Bob Diaco, U Conn
Diaco was once a national coordinator of the year at Notre Dame, and parlayed that into a football wasteland job at U Conn. College football in Connecticut is hardly a big deal, and Diaco is quietly building something, having taken the Huskies to a bowl last season. If this success continues, he could be gone.

Tom Herman, Houston
He hasn't been at Houston long enough to be considered as having his status as elite coach cemented just yet, but he is very close to having that status. Herman was given a whopping contract at a non power five program so that he would not leave. He routed Florida State in a bowl game last season, and if he beats Oklahoma at home in the season opener, Herman will be considered an elite coach, and Houston will be one step closer to a Big 12 invite.

Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
He is in his 9th season at Navy, but Navy has never had a run this good. Coach Ken was on the cusp of leaving Navy for BYU this off season, but stayed at Navy because he didn't want to ditch his triple option attack, which would not have played well at BYU. If Georgia Tech ditches Paul Johnson, this guy would be their first call.

Willie Fritz, Tulane
Fritz is just coming on the scene for most people, but he has been a success for years. He has won at every stop along the way, including Central Missouri, Sam Houston State, Georgia Southern, and is now trying to build Tulane, and I would not bet against him. Look for teams to come calling if he can win at Tulane.

Dino Babers, Syracuse
Babers has just landed his first power five gig at Syracuse after stops at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green. His high powered passing attack is something to behold, but he will have to mold the Syracuse roster into his own image. If he can do that successfully, as he has elsewhere, he could be grabbed by a higher profile power five program quickly.

Brent Venables, Clemson (DC)
Venables name has been bandied about for some time now. He has coached for 8 seasons at Oklahoma as a DC, five seasons as a co-DC, and three seasons at Kansas State coaching LBs. His time has come, especially if Clemson gets back to the playoffs this fall.

Ed Warriner, Ohio State (OC)
He has been an assistant for 24 years, and has made stops at Akron, Michigan State, Army, Kansas, Illinois, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. His offenses at Kansas were impossible to stop, and in 2007 the Jayhawks averaged 479.8 yards per game and over 42 points. He was the Footballscoop.com offensive line coach of the year in 2014. There is not much at this point that he has not accomplished, and he should be getting a call before he lands in that box as career assistant.

Joe Moorhead, Penn State (OC)
After a succesful run as OC at U Conn, Moorhead took his talents to Fordham, where he took the Rams on their best run since the Vince Lombardi days. Moorhead was 38-13 at Fordham, and then could not resist an offer from James Franklin to help him run the offense at Penn State this season. Moorhead is famous for running high paced, high energy offenses that balance out pass and run. If he can rev up Penn State, he'll get a gig shortly.

Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma (OC)
Riley is an offensive architect who ran record breaking offenses at East Carolina under Ruffin McNeil, and very well could have gone back when Ruffin was let go after last year. He stayed at OU, but it is only a matter of time before he goes off for his own program.

Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky
Brohm was an unknown quantity when he replaced Willie Taggert, but all he has done is keep the wheels running in Bowling Green. Brohm is 20-7 heading into his 3rd season, and he also runs the offense. If he finds a replacement at QB for the departed Brandon Doughty, and WKU keeps on winning, as many think they can, Brohm will be on every major list for openings next fall.

Doc Holliday, Marshall
I am perplexed that Holliday isn't already at a higher profile program. He enters his 7th season in 2016 at Marshall, and is 50-28 during his stay at Marshall. Holliday has been a big winner, especially in winning 10 or more games in the last three seasons. If Dana Holgorsen is out at West Virginia after this season, and that is a possibility, Holliday should be the first guy on their list.

Lance Leipold, Buffalo
When Leipold came to Buffalo from division 3 Wisconsin-Whitewater, his record was 109-6. It is a huge jump from D3 to D1, but Leipold could be closer than anyone is aware of to being successful in Buffalo. He barely missed a bowl trip last season, and he could very well take Buffalo over the hump in 2016. He's only ever known success in his career. I doubt that stops here.

PJ Fleck, Western Michigan
It would take an absolutely shocking dumpster fire of a season for Fleck not to be on every major coaching list for 2017. Western Michigan is considered by some to be the next best group of five team for 2016 behind Houston, and that is all on Fleck's ability to rebuild what was a sinking ship when he arrived.

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
Carey was on several candidate lists for open jobs, but he may have made the best decision by staying at NIU for another season. He is 31-12 thus far, and could get close to 8 or more wins in 2016 once again. If that is the case, he may not be able to say no twice.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State
Harsin is 21-6 at Boise, and the Broncos are the overwhelming favorite in the Mountain West this fall. If the Broncos win 10 or more games once again, teams will come calling, and Harsin will have to consider the offers.

Lance Anderson, Stanford (DC)
In 2015, Stanford gave up 24 points or less 6 times. Anderson is entering his 3rd season at Stanford as defensive coordinator, and may be a popular pick for another school in 2017 if the defense carries the day this fall.

Chip Lindsey, Arizona State (OC)
Lindsey did not get the head coaching job at Southern Miss, and so left for Arizona State, where he replaces new Memphis coach Mike Norvell. Lindsey runs a high energy offense, just like coach Todd Graham has run everywhere he has gone. Lindsey may very well be the next coordinator to leave ASU and Graham if his offense continues to click.

Dave Aranda, LSU (DC)
Aranda has been a highly successful DC during his work at Wisconsin and now he takes a job at LSU, where all the tools are available to succeed once again. If Aranda can pull off a dominating appearance at LSU, he could be headed to his own show.

Joe Moglia, Coastal Carolina
Moglia made tons of money in the investment game, so he went into his dream job as a head coach at Coastal Carolina. He has built this program into a massive juggernaut, and has a record of 41-13 overall heading into his 5th season. He will now transition Coastal into FBS football, but how long will he actually be there if he succeeds?

FCS Coaches Ready For a Move

Brian Jenkins, Alabama State
Jamey Chadwell, Charleston Southern
Russ Huesman, Chattanooga
Rick Chamberlin, Dayton
Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington
Tim Murphy, Harvard
Brock Spack, Illinois State
John Grass, Jacksonville State
Mike Houston, James Madison
Rob Tenyer, Morehead State
Rod Broadway, North Carolina A&T
Jerry Mack, North Carolina Central
Bubba Schweigert, North Dakota
Chris Klieman, North Dakota State
Danny Rocco, Richmond
Dale Lindsey, San Diego

Monday, August 15, 2016

Most Underrated FBS and FCS College Football Teams 2016

I will now take the reverse track from my previous article based on who I believed to be the most overrated programs heading into 2016 by taking a look at who is not getting enough props heading into camp and the season. Here is my conference by conference look at which team in each conference is being under valued heading into the 2016 season.

American Athletic Conference
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa is picked 4th in the west by a majority of pollsters, but I am not certain that they are not being completely under valued here. Tulsa is a team on the rise, while Memphis is certain to take a step back without both Paxton Lynch and Justin Fuente as coach. Navy loses all everything QB Keenan Reynolds, who was the heart of the 11 win Middies last fall. With Tulsa rising, they could very well sneak past both in the division.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Duke Blue Devils
I know that the Devils took a few losses, but to pick them at 6th in the Coastal is just a joke. Duke will likely far exceed that pick, and could finish as high as 2nd or 3rd in the division. Duke is absolutely better than Georgia Tech and Pitt, and could be better than Virginia Tech in year one of the Justin Fuente era. That last part won't last, but Duke certainly is no 6th place team in this horrible division.

Big 10 Conference
Northwestern Wildcats
Not that I entirely trust Northwestern to live up to expectations on any give year, but I feel that they could be the most under valued team in the West. Nebraska really needs to get a grip, and Wisconsin looks to be overrated, so seeing Northwestern as a 4th place team seems low to me with what they are capable of doing if they get themselves together. That is always the big if with them, but if I have to pick someone in the Big 10, Northwestern is it.

Big 12 Conference
TCU Horned Frogs
I have seen TCU as low as 5th in the Big 12, and that is extreme low value for Gary Patterson and the Frogs. TCU will be going with Kenny Hill at QB, the same Kenny Hill who transferred out at Texas A&M (who hasn't, am I right?). The same Kenny Hill who blew up for a while before being totally buried and dissed by Kevin Sumlin (again, who hasn't?). TCU has become a staple in the top sphere of Big 12 football, and they certainly are not dropping to 5th this season.

Conference USA
Marshall Thundering Herd
So, second in the East isn't an awful thing, right? Marshall is in position to take the division from Western Kentucky, as the Toppers will be trying to find a fit at QB to replace Brandon Doughty. The time is ripe for Marshall to make a strong move here, so having them under Western Kentucky could be a smoke screen if the Herd can make a run.

Mid American Conference
Northern Illinois Huskies
The Huskies are being tabbed for 3rd in the West, and I am not a fan of that concept. Maybe it happens, as the West is just loaded in sots one through four, but I always have a hard time underestimating the Huskies on any level in college football. They are simply one of the most consistent programs in the game, and They could outright win the division over both Toledo and Western Michigan, or they could finish 3rd. It's that hard to call. A close second in the MAC is Ohio, who should beat out Bowling Green in the East.

Mountain West Conference
New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos are tabbed for 4th in the Mountain, a division that they could finish as high as 2nd in, and in a perfect storm, they could win. In a conference where nobody overwhelmed in 2015, New Mexico was a pleasant surprise in a season where Bob Davie absolutely needed to win. The Lobos look like they could be on the edge of doing something solid in 2016.

PAC-12 Conference
Washington State Cougars
Not only are the Cougs underrated in the conference, they are nationally as well. This is a Mike Leach football team that almost won the North last season. They have the best college QB in the game, and their defense was looking solid by the end of the season as well. The wrong Washington team is getting all the love for all the wrong reasons in 2016.

Southeastern Conference
Florida Gators
The Gators beat both Tennessee and Georgia without a solid QB last fall, and they may just have the QB they need in either Austin Appleby or Luke Del Rio this season. If either guy pans out, look for the Gators to make their case for winning the SEC East by beating both again, and by winning the division more easily than they did a year ago.

Sun Belt Conference
South Alabama Jaguars
The Jags are tabbed to finish 8th in the Sun Belt this fall, and I just don't buy that Joey Jones has seen his program take that big a hit heading into the season. They may not be good enough to challenge the upper tier programs in the league, but they may be good enough to sneak into a bowl, and maybe edge out Troy, Louisiana, and Georgia State, and they certainly are stronger than Idaho. 8th is just a farce.

Big Sky Conference
Portland State Vikings
Portland State won games over FBS teams Washington State and North Texas last season on the way to nine wins. They are in position to push a little bit further this fall, but are somehow picked fourth in the conference heading into the season. That doesn't seem like a good landing spot, but the Big Sky is tough. I still see them being better overall than Northern Arizona, and I see them pushing Montana for second.

Big South Conference
Kennesaw State Owls
The Owls were solid last fall, and are still a program in their infancy. That being said, They won six games last fall, and are tabbed at 4th in the six team league. They get back almost everyone, and could be a better program this fall than last. Look for the Owls to be a huge surprise, and push for second in the conference.

Colonial Athletic Association
James Madison Dukes
JMU loses coach Everett Withers, but gains Mike Houston, who made The Citadel relevant. That is a huge statement. JMU loaded up on FBS transfers, including a pair of four star guys from South Carolina, including QB Connor Mitch. Vlad Lee may be gone, but JMU is loaded on offense, and may be good enough to push for a CAA title.

The Ivy League
Dartmouth Big Green
Dartmouth loses seven starters on defense, but they proved last season that this team can no longer go under valued as they came out of nowhere to win nine games. Losses may eventually make me wrong on this, but I believe that Dartmouth is deep enough, and strong enough, to push the top three in the league this fall.

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
The Wildcats won the league title last fall for the 5th time in 6 seasons, but are tabbed to finish 3rd this season, with the primary reason falling on a rebuilding secondary on defense. The issue here is that the depth in this program has really built up in recent seasons, and the train is nowhere near the cliff. North Carolina A&T is a solid choice to win the conference, but never count out the Wildcats to push both A&T and NC Central to the brink.

Missouri Valley Conference
South Dakota State Jackrabbits
SDSU is picked 4th in the league, but I believe them to be a better pick than Northern Iowa at second. SDSU has four straight playoff births, and they should reach a 5th in 2016, as they have plenty of experience back, including one of the two top receivers in FCS football in Jake Wieneke. One thing is for certain, and that is that SDSU is under valued, and that is a dangerous thing.

Northeast Conference
Duquesne Dukes
Nobody has told me that Duquesne is ready to give up their spot on the NEC perch this season, and I don't believe that to be true. St. Francis has emerged in this league, but Duquesne is boss, and it should stay that way until otherwise noted. Duquesne has one of the best LBs in FCS football as well in Christian Kuntz.

Ohio Valley Conference
Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks
UTM won 7 games in 2015, and looks primed to make a run at a playoff birth this fall. The Hawks took some losses, but they have plenty of talent to make up for those losses. Eastern Illinois was hardly better than UTM last fall, and Eastern Kentucky is a perpetual underachiever, so look for UTM to make a move this season in conference play. Remember, UTM barely lost to eventual national runner up Jacksonville State last season.

Patriot League
Georgetown Hoyas
The Hoyas lost three games by one point last fall in a 7 loss season. They were that close to turning the boat around. They have some losses, but plenty of experience returns to work that out, and the Hoyas may have the best LB unit in the conference. If they can find some fillers for their holes, Georgetown may surprise.

Pioneer Football League
Morehead State Eagles
The Eagles were one loss away from a playoff birth last season, and return a solid nucleus that could push past their 4th place expected finish this season. QB Austin Gehafer may be one of the most talented QBs in FCS football, and he could push the Eagles past the top three gridlock of San Diego, Dayton, and Jacksonville in league play.

Southern Conference
The Citadel
Mike Houston has moved on as coach, but Brent Thompson, the OC, stayed behind to continue to resurrection of the program from the abyss. Citadel won nine games last fall, their best mark in 23 years, and the key components on offense all return. Citadel could be in a position to not only move ahead of their third place projection, but could be a dark horse to win the SoCon this fall.

Southland Conference
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
It is hard for me to think that Clint Conque, one of the more talented coaches in FCS football, will allow the Jacks to fall to just 4 wins again in 2016. SFA is picked to finish 5th in the conference, but I see them as being better than Central Arkansas and Northwestern State, who are both picked ahead of them. Zach Conque is a true talent at QB, and should lead a revival.

Southwestern Athletic Conference
Jackson State Tigers
JSU is starting over with Tony Hughes as head coach, but he is bringing in a ton of fresh talent to freshen things up with the once proud program. With uncertainty at Alcorn State, and inconsistency at Alabama State, JSU is picked to finish 3rd in the East, but could far outpace those expectations. They are the true wild card in the SWAC for 2016.

Most Overrated FBS and FCS College Football Teams 2016

With the season quickly approaching, and all of the Media Day events come and gone, we are getting a look at where everyone's expectations are across the nation and in every conference. Here is a look at, after careful consideration, schools that I believe to be seriously overrated heading into 2016:

American Athletic Conference
South Florida Bulls
Not by much, but I think that USF is getting just a bit too much hype right now. They made some serious strides last fall, but to place them as either pushing Temple, or moving past them in the East Division may be just a bit ahead of the curve. Of course, if Temple slides at all, and they could, USF could make a move based on how weak the East us overall. I'm just not ready to buy all in on them just yet.

Miami Hurricanes
Not that the Coastal is any good, at all, but Miami is not a team ready to compete for conference titles, and even in the Coastal, which again, is garbage, I see Miami as a program that is built on legend, not modern reality. Mark Richt was a solid hire, but Miami is not close to being in a very thin upper tier of the ACC, and may not be for some time.

Big 10
Wisconsin Badgers
If the Badgers were in the East, they'd probably be the fifth best team there this season. They get the fortunate luck of being in the West, which is a dumpster fire overall. Wisconsin has not had a dependable QB in years, and Paul Chryst won 10 games on Gary Anderson's talent last season. I am not sold on Chryst, and I am not sold on Wisconsin in 2016.

Big 12
Texas Longhorns
I understand it is hard to argue that being picked 4th by some publications is hardly the heights of grandeur, but I have seen the Horns picked ahead of TCU by some. That is not happening. Texas is likely playing a freshman at QB, and will be playing several sophomores and freshmen in 2016 as Charlie Strong continues to try to build this program up. 4th is too lofty, especially placing Texas ahead of TCU. Forget about it.

Conference USA
Florida Atlantic Owls
The media darling seems to be FAU this fall, who some believe will go bowling. My question is what exactly has anyone seems to make them believe that? Charloie Partridge is 6-18 heading into season number three, and while in season three a bowl should be expected, FAU is not even close to that realm. Coming off of a 3-9 season, I'd be happy to see the Owls win five. More is just over expectation.

Mid American Conference
Bowling Green Falcons
This is nothing against the Falcons, as I have openly pulled for them for years, but I was not overly impressed by the Mike Jinks hire, and I think there will be some adjustment time with the departure of Dino Babers for Syracuse. I think that Ohio is strong enough to push the Falcons out of the East, and overall, Bowling Green could be just the 5th or 6th best team in the MAC overall when everything sorts out for 2016.

Mountain West Conference
Colorado State Rams
Some publications have the Rams picked ahead of Air Force in the Mountain Division, the same Air Force team that won the division last season and returns 17 starters. Mike Bobo seems to have the Rams moving in the right direction, but are they better than Air Force in 2016? Not on paper, not overall. The Rams did handle Air Force last season, but on the whole, I don't think that Colorado State is a top two program in the Mountain this season.

PAC-12 Conference
Washington Huskies
I am still trying to decipher how the Huskies are getting the kind of national love they are getting. I am not at all impressed by much of anything that the Huskies have done under Chris Petersen, and yet SI has them ranked 7th heading into the season. That is just overkill on every single level. The Huskies are still probably the 4th best team in the North behind Stanford, Oregon, and even Washington State. This program is in for a reality check.

Southeastern Conference
Tennessee Volunteers
I guess it is hard to claim that anyone is overrated in the putrid East Division of the SEC, but I have been hearing how Tennessee is always about to turn that corner and join the elite class of the SEC, and that hasn't happened yet. I am not certain that this will be the year either, or if Butch Jones will even be employed in 2017 in Knoxville. Jones was always a reach of a hire at UT, and although he has recruited well (whatever that means in reality), he certainly hasn't turned that recruiting acumen into elite program status. Sometimes, recruiting stars can be overrated.

Sun Belt Conference
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
This was harder to pick than most, simply because I believe that the national prognosticators have it right about the Sun Belt in 2016. That said, Louisiana was the program that was supposed to turn into a dominant power in the Sun Belt, and Mark Hudspeth really should have been in a position to have moved on by now. Neither thing has happened, and now the Cajuns are slipping farther and farther in the standings. Last season snapped a bowl streak, and they may be starting a whole new streak this season when it comes to being done with football in November.

Big Sky Conference
Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
While it is true that NAU will be potent on offense with QB Case Cookus, it will take more than offense to hold off Montana or even Portland State for second in the Big Sky in 2016. Northern Arizona could still very well be a playoff team, but I am not certain that they are the second best team in the conference heading into the season.

Big South Conference
Monmouth Hawks
Monmouth is largely looked at currently as the third best team in the incredible shrinking conference, but I think that is a tall order, especially with emerging new program Kennesaw State looking to make a move. Monmouth still does not have a full FCS scholarship allotment, and so could be rather thin overall. Monmouth is a strange fit in the Big South, and finished just 5-6 last season, but it could be depth that does them in.

Colonial Athletic Association
New Hampshire Wildcats
This was a difficult pick for me, but if I had to pick someone, it would be UNH in 2016. The Wildcats are at a crossroads on offense this season, as they are looking for a QB heading in, and while it would seem that most teams in the upper tier in the CAA made major improvements in 2016, UNH looks like the team that made the fewest in that group. It's hard to underestimate the Wildcats, but they look like the safest bet not to play to expectations in the Colonial in 2016.

The Ivy League
Yale Bulldogs
Yale was injury plagued in 2015, and yet is still picked ahead of Dartmouth in most preseason polls at 3rd for the coming year. I am not buying in. Dartmouth is an emerging program, and while Harvard is finally being challenged at the top of the conference, Dartmouth and Penn would seem to be in position to make the most noise. I simply don't see Yale ahead of that group.

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Norfolk State Spartans
I am trying to understand how a 4-7 football team suddenly vaults into the upper stratosphere of what has become a very competitive league in the upper echelons. While true that the bottom half of the league is still a train wreck, the upper half is as good as any conference in FCS football, and Norfolk State does not appear to be in that range just now. Finishing 5th, which is where they are tabbed, seems high to me.

Missouri Valley Conference
Northern Iowa Panthers
UNI is tabbed as high as second in the MVC for 2016. For a team having to replace their entire secondary in the most competitive conference in FCS football (arguably), that is terrible news. I don't see the Panthers being ahead of Illinois State, South Dakota State, or Western Illinois heading into the season, but because of a strong ground attack, others are willing to take a leap on them. I am not.

Northeast Conference
St. Francis Red Flash
Picked by some to win the NEC in 2016, I still see St. Francis as secondary to Duquesne in the league. We will know how that plays out, as Duquesne visits St. Francis on 10/22, but overall Duquesne is still someone I see as being the team to beat until someone does. The league is not deep overall, so finding anyone more overrated at this point would be moot.

Ohio Valley Conference
Eastern Kentucky Colonels
EKU is coming in at 3rd in most polls in the OVC for the season, but there are few teams in FCS football that have under performed in recent seasons than the Colonels have. I no longer see them as a top three program in the OVC with the emergence of Tennessee-Martin, so look for EKU to drop out of the top three as being a possibility.

Patriot League
Holy Cross Crusaders
This was another difficult pick for me, but I settled on Holy Cross as my final pick for most overrated in the Patriot League for 2016. Picked by many to finish 3rd, I see the Crusaders running into issues that could drop them as low as 5th when the dust settles. The major issue is on defense and in the run game, as Holy Cross is still trying to build an identity on defense, and may over rely on the pass this season. If they cannot balance out, finishing 3rd will be a miracle, not an expectation.

Pioneer Football League
Dayton Flyers
Picked 2nd on average, Dayton loses six all league performers from a ten win team last fall, and that may be enough to have them slip from second to maybe third or fourth as the season unfolds. The top four positions will be held by very strong programs this fall, and I am not certain that Dayton can hold off Jacksonville and Morehead State as they are forced to defend against that charge. There is still plenty of talent, just not as much as a year ago.

Southern Conference
Wofford Terriers
Nobody who has no horse in the race in the SoCon pulls more for the Terriers than me (shoutout to my friend Fred in Georgia!), but I am not seeing how the five win team of 2015 is suddenly going to race to the 2nd position in the conference over The Citadel and Samford in 2016. The Citadel lose coach Mike Houston, but have continuity in place, and Samford is looking to make a move this fall. Wofford is an interesting team, but not enough to push for 2nd place and what could be a solid bid for a playoff birth. Not saying that Wofford couldn't push for 7 wins and a top four finish, but 2nd is just tough to swallow.

Southland Conference
Central Arkansas Bears
Third place in the SLC is a borderline playoff spot, and UCA is picked there by many. They won 7 last fall, but got destroyed by graduation on both lines, including massive production from both defensive end spots. With two lines in rebuild mode, it is hard to see UCA being good enough in the trenches in a tough conference to survive long enough to land third this time around. 2017 could be more their year.

Southwestern Athletic Conference
Alcorn State Braves
The Braves were hammered by off season losses, including head coach Jay Hopson to Southern Mississippi. They lost play makers on both sides of the football. All of this happened, and yet the Braves, under new head coach (of Arena Football fame) Fred McNair, are picked by almost all, if not all, to win the SWAC East. The reasoning is that the division is just awful. If Alabama State can show any kind of pulse, Alcorn State may not be such an overwhelming favorite, but that is a tall order.

Coming up next...The most underrated teams in America!