Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Week One FBS Games of the Week

With week zero now officially in the books, it's time to break down the best and worst of what is on tap for week one in FBS football! Here is our prioritized breakdown of the upcoming week!

Best of the Week
Ohio State at Indiana: I give IU little chance in winning, but the battle between Wilson and Allen...
Colorado State vs. Colorado: Always entertaining when these two arch rivals meet up.
Maryland at Texas: Underrated game, as Maryland will look to see if Texas is all hype.
Wyoming at Iowa: Josh Allen will try to strut his stuff against top flight Iowa D.
NC State vs. South Carolina: Two teams looking to make a move, and offenses should be very good.
Michigan at Florida: One of the big showdowns of the weekend, despite roster shenanigans.
Troy at Boise State: Broncos are not taking this game lightly, nor should they.
Florida State vs. Alabama: A potential playoff rematch, should be best of the bunch.
West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech: Not sure how the Hokies are favored in this one, but should be good.
Texas A&M at UCLA: The losing coach here will have the hot seat warmed up several degrees.
Tennessee at Georgia Tech: Tech looks solid, but Butch Jones needs this win badly.

Tune In and Out
FIU at UCF: UCF should be a rising team in AAC play, and Butch Davis debuts at FIU.
Buffalo at Minnesota: PJ Fleck makes his debut as coach of Golden Gophers.
North Dakota at Utah: At least Utes are playing a credible FCS playoff candidate team.
UL-Monroe at Memphis: Tigers are priming up to make an AAC West run.
Sacramento State at Idaho: Will be conference mates next year in FCS Big Sky play.
Fordham at Army: Rams are one of the better FCS programs, Army emerged last season.
Washington at Rutgers: How many points can the Huskies roll up, or is Rutgers any better?
Navy at FAU: Lane Kiffin's debut, but most of us are hoping to see it ruined.
Utah State at Wisconsin: If Aggies cannot keep it reasonable, it could be a long season.
Boston College at Northern Illinois: NIU needs a quick start to save Rod Carey long term.
Tulsa at Oklahoma State: Offense should put on good shows, but defenses may be lacking.
Cal at North Carolina: Neither is expected to do much, but these cross country openers are rare.
Youngstown State at Pitt: One of those rare FCS teams that can do damage, and Pitt may be down.
Portland State at Oregon State: Vikings pushed BYU around for a while, Beavers be warned.
Temple at Notre Dame: Owls are in a rebuild, and Irish cannot afford an opening loss.
Nevada at Northwestern: Wildcats cannot afford another slow start in game where they are favored.
William & Mary at Virginia: Tribe may have a shot at an FCS upset win here.
Eastern Washington at Texas Tech: Eagles are one of five FCS teams that have shots at big FBS wins.
Kentucky at Southern Miss: Eagles won in Lexington last season, Wildcats look for revenge.
Western Michigan at USC: Not the same Broncos, and a much improved USC team lies in wait.
James Madison at East Carolina: I'd go as far as calling JMU the favorite here.
Albany at Old Dominion: Two former CAA opponents, could be interesting early.
Appalachian State at Georgia: Bulldogs cannot afford to mess around...ask Tennessee.
Miami (Ohio) at Marshall: Is Miami for real? Is Marshall improved? Many questions need answering.
U Mass at Coastal Carolina: U Mass gave Hawaii a rough time, CCU starts their FBS era.
Georgia Southern at Auburn: If Auburn gets off to a fast start, we will know who they are.
Louisville vs. Purdue: Lamar Jackson should run wild on weak Boiler D.
South Alabama at Ole Miss: USA beat Miss State last season...just saying...
Arkansas State at Nebraska: If the Red Wolves hang around in this one, Huskers could be in for it.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: UNI has historically been a thorn for Cyclones, who should be better.
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee: Blue Raiders offense vs. Vandy D should be a show to behold.
BYU vs. LSU: BYU's lack of offense last week devalued this game tremendously.

Garbage Time
Presbyterian at Wake Forest: WF is not a fun team to watch offensively, and PC is an FCS mess.
Austin Peay at Cincinnati: Pure crap match up, and Cincy should be embarrassed to play this one.
Tennessee State at Georgia State: Really zero value in this match.
Elon at Toledo: Elon is one of worst in FCS, and Rockets will blow them out early.
Rhode Island at Central Michigan: URI is just awful, and CMU will have it handled early.
Holy Cross at U Conn: Nobody outside of New England will give this a second thought.
Florida A&M at Arkansas: How much needs to be said about this horrible match?
New Mexico State at Arizona State: No defense will be played at all.
Charlotte at Eastern Michigan: Not much to see here.
Central Connecticut at Syracuse: Why?
Kent State at Clemson: Interim coach for Kent State drove the spread to the sky for Clemson.
Akron at Penn State: Terry Bowden's old Auburn teams would have fared well here, but not Akron.
Ball State at Illinois: One of worst in MAC vs. One of worst in Big 10.
Bowling Green at Michigan State: Unless you are a die hard fan of either club, this is a snoozer.
Missouri State at Missouri: Tigers should end the day against the FCS Bears early.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami: Again..why?
VMI at Air Force: If it is not 42-0 at the half, there will be a problem for Air Force.
UTEP at Oklahoma: Looking for the Sooners to run wild in this one.
Alabama A&M at UAB: IT's the return of UAB football, but there's not much else to offer.
Stony Brook at USF: Bulls got off to slow start last week, but that shouldn't repeat itself here.
Charleston Southern at Mississippi State: Brandon High School was busy.
North Carolina Central at Duke: Nobody outside of Raleigh will know this is going on.
Lamar at North Texas: Over/Under on attendance is about 500.
Eastern Kentucky at Western Kentucky: WKU should run all over former rival.
Northwestern State at Louisiana Tech: Bulldogs should put this one on ice early.
Stephen F. Austin at SMU: Mustangs offense should end this one by the half.
Liberty at Baylor: Bears favored by just 29, so I guess there is that.
SE Missouri at Kansas: Kansas finds a team they can be favored against!
Hampton at Ohio: Another low leaning FCS team walks into a wood chipper.
SE Louisiana at UL-Lafayette: Could be closer than most FBS/FCS games, but still...
Houston Baptist at Texas State: Bobcats finally find someone they may be able to run on.
Central Arkansas at Kansas State: Not the worst of FCS/FBS games, but not great either.
Cal Poly at San Jose State: CP never got off the bus until 2nd half last week, SJSU got on it in 2nd.
Abilene Christian at New Mexico: Lobos should be able to run plenty against FCS Wildcats.
Jackson State at TCU: Paycheck game for JSU, nothing more.
Grambling at Tulane: If you have to wash the car during this game, you know what to do.
Southern Utah at Oregon: Ducks looking to run out early in Eugene.
UC Davis at San Diego State: Dan Hawkins debuts as coach for UCD, but runs into buzz saw.
Howard at UNLV: Mike London is the head coach at Howard, but nothing else is fun about this one.
Incarnate Word at Fresno State: This may be the only game Fresno State wins all season.
Montana State at Washington State: 6 years ago, I would have given the Bobcats a shot here.
Northern Arizona at Arizona: Wildcats should enjoy this fairly easy night, as they won't have many.
Western Carolina at Hawaii: Rainbows shake off the bumpy start defensively in this one.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

College Football Week Zero In Review

Our first official college football games have been played out for 2017, and although it was not a lineup of stellar offerings, we still had meaningful football being played this weekend. There were few thrills to be offered, and the biggest game of the week, an FCS game between Richmond and Sam Houston State, was taken off the board by Hurricane Harvey, but still, it was just enough to get us primed for a huge week of football coming up this week. Here are my reviews on the weekend:

Colorado State 58, Oregon State 27
The CSU Rams used a strong defensive effort in the second half to stifle what had been a pesky Oregon State team in the first half, as the Rams used a 34 -7 run to blow out the Beavers in the game that opened a brand new stadium in Fort Collins.
Oregon State dropped to 0-12 in road games under Gary Anderson, Ryan Nall, who had rushed for 107 yards at the half (75 on one run), he finished with just 8 yards on 5 carries in the second half as the Beavers somehow went away from the run.
Colorado State had some discipline issues in the first half, committing 5 penalties before the break, including one the nullified a blocked FG, but were penalized just 3 times in the second half.
Nick Stevens was the star of the show for the Rams, as he passed for 334 yards and 3 scores in the win.

BYU 20, Portland State 6
The Cougars survived a stagnant effort in an embarrassing win over Portland State in Provo. The Cougars were 33.5 point favorites entering the game over the FCS Vikings, who were picked to finish 8th in the Big Sky Conference this season. BYU could have been looking past the Vikings, as a game looms large against LSU next week.
Tanner Mangum was hardly impressive in his full time return to the starting QB job, passing for just 194 yards in the win. His receivers hardly helped him out in the effort.
Portland State had just 30 yards of total offense at one point in the second quarter, but somehow stayed within 8 points of the heavily favored Cougars.
BYU is now 8-0 all-time vs. FCS opponents since 2008.
Portland State punter Hayden Cowden punted seven times, and averaged 47.9 yards per punt.

Hawaii 38, U Mass 35
The Rainbow Warriors and Minutemen combined for 900 yards of offense, and 40 1st downs, and were tied three times, but it was the Warriors who rallied from being 14 points down to come back to put away U Mass in the final minute in Amherst.
U Mass star TE Adam Breneman caught 9 passes for 179 yards in the opener in the losing effort, but it was Hawaii WR John Ursua who stole the show with 12 catches for a whopping 272 yards in the win. It was the highest total for a Hawaii receiver since Jason Roberts went for 308 yards on 12/24/06 against Arizona State (308 yards).
Neither team ran the ball effectively, as Hawaii averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, and U Mass averaged just 2.8.
Dru Brown passed for 391 yards in the win for the Rainbow Warriors.

USF 42, San Jose State 22
San Jose State got an early jump on the lethargic Bulls, as the Spartans jumped out to a 10-0 lead, and held the Bulls to -10 yards on their first two possessions. The tide soon turned, and the Bulls jumped out to a 28-16 lead at the half, and never looked back.
USF finished with just 22 yards of offense in the first quarter, allowing Spartan fans to start thinking about an upset.
The Bulls out gained the Spartans 548 yards to 347.
USF scored 30 points for their 18th straight game.
The Bulls rushed for 315 yards on the game, with SJSU rushing for just 109.
USF is now 16-5 in season openers for their short history.

Stanford 62, Rice 7
Stanford cruised to a 38-0 lead over the Owls at the half, and had already rolled up 404 yards of offense at the break on the way to a massive blowout in Sydney, Australia. Bryce Love rushed for 176 yards and a score by the half.
Stanford has not lost to Rice since 1963, and is now 3-3 all-time against the Owls.
Rice had just 3 1st downs at the half, and did not convert a 3rd down in the first half.
Cameron Scarlett rushed for 3 1st half scores for the Cardinal.
The Stanford defense held Rice to just 240 yards for the game.

Florida A&M 29, Texas Southern 7
The Rattlers held TSU to just 62 yards rushing on the night, and QB Ryan Stanley passed for 217 yards and a score in the win. Florida A&M jumped out to a 29-0 lead, and was never seriously challenged on any level in the home opener.

Jacksonville State 27, Chattanooga 13
The UTC Mocs were behind the 8 ball prospectively when starting QB Alejandro Bennifield was suspended just before the opener for academic issues. The Mocs did hang in for a time, as they trailed just 10-6 at the hald, but JSU used a 10-0 3rd quarter to open up the game, and the Gamecocks got 122 yards rushing from former Auburn player Roc Thomas in the win.
Sophomore Nick Tiano, a Mississippi State transfer, started for the Mocs at QB, and held his own, passing for 218 yards and a score. He also led the Mocs with 68 yards rushing on just 8 carries.

Colgate 20, Cal Poly 14
The Red Raiders made a rare trip to the West Coast, and rolled out to an early 20-0 lead before the home Mustangs got on track to fall short in a late rally in the loss. Cal Poly scored all 14 points in the final quarter, and Mustangs star Joe Protheroe was frustrated early in the loss. Protheroe finally got on track, and finished with 139 yards on 39 carries, btut it was hard work.
James Holland rushed for 91 yards for the Red Raiders in the win.
Neither team managed to run and pass for a combined 300 yards in a game that was mostly defensive in nature.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Final Picks For Week Zero Games

Week Zero of the 2017 College Football season is just a little more than 13 hours away! Here are my final picks, locked in for the weekend upcoming!

Straight Up Winners
Colorado State over Oregon State W 58-27
BYU over Portland State W 20-6
Hawaii over U Mass W 38-35
USF over San Jose State W 42-22
Stanford over Rice W 62-7
Texas Southern over Florida A&M Lost 29-7
Jacksonville State over Chattanooga W 27-13
Cal Poly over Colgate L 20-14

Final Record Straight Up: 6-2

Picks Against the Spread
Colorado State -4 over Oregon State W 58-27
Hawaii +2.5 over U Mass W 38-35, Hawaii
USF -21.5 San Jose State L 42-22
Rice +30.5 over Stanford L 62-7
BYU -33.5 over Portland State L 20-6

Final Record: 2-3 ATS

Colorado State opens their brand new on campus stadium vs. Oregon State, but plays Colorado next week. Rams need to focus on the opener to not trip up.

BYU should cruise against FCS member Portland State, who starts a true freshman at QB against the Cougars. Tanner Mangum starts for BYU after starting for almost all of 2015. Koy Detmer, Jr. is the number three QB for the Cougars against the Vikings this week.

Hawaii never plays well in long road trips to open the season, but U Mass was 2-10 last season, and returns very few intangibles. I like Hawaii both SU and ATS.

Stanford's defense will be key, as they have one of the best in the nation. It's the offense that could be troublesome, as their QB and WR positions are both enigmas. That's why I am taking a risk on Rice and the points here.

Texas Southern is playing in a MEAC/SWAC FCS showdown on the road in a true home game for the Rattlers. Florida A&M is coming off of a few bad seasons, and the TSU Tigers have had more recent success.

Jacksonville State was a favorite over Chattanooga for me before Alejandro Bennifield was suspended for four games due to academic issues for the Mocs. I am all over the Gamecocks of JSU now.

Cal Poly, as I have said before, always seems to open solid, and Colgate rarely travels outside of the Northeast. Look for the triple option offense of the Mustangs to run like a machine and give the Red Raiders a bad trip out west.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

NFL Draft Prospectus 2018: Top 15 Running Backs

It's never too early to start thinking about the 2018 NFL Draft. As part of my ongoing series, here are my top 15 running backs nationally. This list will be update throughout the upcoming football season, and into the spring as we prepare for the NFL Draft:

1. Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Barkley has become the overwhelming favorite to be the top back picked as of this moment, but in my book, he may be neck and neck with the number two back on my list. Still, he is primed for a huge season, and a Heisman run as well.

2. Darius Guice, LSU
I once thought that Leonard Fournette was one of the best backs that I have ever seen at LSU, but then Guice came along last season with Fournette acting like a fool and feigning injury. Guice is a beast, and current projections show him being picked anywhere from the first to third round. I'd go mid first without regret.

3. Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
I like Scarbrough a hell of a lot better than I liked Derrick Henry, and I think that he projects as a better long term back in the NFL. He has size and burst, and should be a star on the next level. I like him as a late first rounder currently.

4. Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Wadley is one of the most unsung backs in college football heading into the 2017 season. He is a major star on a team that lacks offensive star power, and should be able to not feel that he has to carry the team this fall with the transfer of James Butler from Nevada.

5. Nick Chubb, Georgia
He has the injury history, and if he can get through this season unscathed once again, he vaults up near the top of my list. He does not have to carry the Bulldogs this season, but he is incredibly special when in one piece.

6. Mike Weber, Ohio State
Weber shpwed some serious skill last season, but was not Zeke Elliott good last fall. He is working his way to that point, and while I don't see Weber in that class, I still see a very good back with an underrated ability to catch the football out of the backfield, which may be a trait that we will not see much of until he plays on Sundays.

7. Ronlad Jones, USC
I am not as high on Jones as others are, but he does have some special capabilities, and can bust the big run at any moment. I just don't see him as more than a third down back early in his career, but he could surprise us. I will be watching him closely this fall.

8. Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Pettway is a guy that I am closely watching in 2017, as he could really vault up in the standings here as the offense changes back to a passing spread offense. If Pettway can show some skill in that offense, he will rise quickly, as he already did after 2016. He is definitely a mover as we head towards the next draft.

9. Damian Harris, Alabama
Even though he may not get a ton of carries this fall, he may very well vault up my list.He is in a loaded backfield, and Nick Saban will not use him more than he has to, despite his obvious ability. Here's the good news...he is super talented, busts big runs, has speed, and can catch the football, and may be the freshest back going heading into the draft.

10. Sony Michel, Georgia
Michel is the other back that will help carry the load for the Bulldogs in 2017, taking Chubb off of the hook for that role. Michel is a super talented back that would carry 25 times a game anywhere else. He has solid speed, and is a soft touch receiver. He may vault upwards as well.

11. Jordan Scarlett, Florida
If you are looking for a rock solid back in the mid rounds, this may be your guy. Scarlett's numbers are deceiving given that Florida's offense sucked the last couple of seasons. Scarlett is a producer when given the opportunity, and with Malik Zaire probably winning the QB job, the offense should open up a great deal, which helps Scarlett tremendously.

12. Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
If Webb played anywhere other than Vandy in the SEC, he would be graded higher. He gets very little in the way of exposure, and is very much one of the most underrated backs eligible for the 2018 draft. He will likely rise throughout the season, because he may be the only dependable weapon the Commodores have.

13. Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Scouts are just starting to catch on to how good Jackson can be, as he exploded on the scene in 2016. A slow start for the Wildcats cost him some exposure, but if they can get out the gate strong this season, everyone will be talking about him come late October.

14. LJ Scott, Michigan State
Scott is in the same boat as Jackson, with Sparty falling flat last season. Scott is a machine, and should not be slept on. He fits the bill of several Spartan backs before him, and is a hard runner with skills. He busted loose for over 170 yards on Ohio State last season, so pay attention!

15. Lavon Coleman, Washington
Myles Gaskin may have the shinier resume, but Coleman may be the better NFL package back. He has power, has build, and can flat out play the game. Look for Coleman to be a late round steal for someone, but if he played where he could be the feature back, he'd be ranked higher.

The Next Ten
Royce Freeman, Oregon
Myles Gaskin, Washington
D'Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Ito Smith, Southern Mississippi
James Butler, Iowa
Jalin Moore, Appalachian State
James Gilbert, Ball State
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Phillip Lindsey, Colorado

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Teams That Have a Shot to Win Each FBS Conference In 2017

With just nine days to go before we kick off the 2017 college football season, we all know who the favorites are in each FBS conference, whether as chosen by the media, or by the "coaches" polls that come out with each successive media day event. In this article, I take a look at those conference favorites, but also other teams that have a real identifiable shot at stealing a league title away from these favorites in FBS football.

American Athletic Conference
Current Favorite: USF
The Bulls have been given every blessing as the G5 team that can bust the party and at least compete in a NY6 bowl as the highest ranking non P5 team in the nation in 2017. They very much have all of the tools to do so, but there are others who can lay claim and challenge to the throne in 2017.

Memphis is one such challenger. The Tigers are selected anywhere from first to third in the AAC West, depending on who you talk to, but after much deliberation, I see the Tigers as having the edge in the West, and have picked them to compete with USF for the AAC title. With Riley Ferguson at QB, and a host of skill position talent on offense, and an improving defense, Memphis may have just enough to steal a league title and play in the NY6 bowl themselves.

Houston lost some serious talent after the 2016 season that saw them beat Oklahoma in the opener,but finish with a thud. Tom Herman is gone, and Major Applewhite is in as coach. They have talent across the board, however, and Applewhite has been groomed for this spot for years. IT may be an outside shot team, but you can't bet against the Cougars.

Navy is a severe dark horse here, but nobody gets more with less than Ken Niumatololo. The Middies are coming off of a season that saw them lose to Army, but they can still move the football, and if they can stay healthy at QB, a major issue in 2016, Navy may be a dark horse team to hedge on stealing a conference crown.

Atlantic Coast Conference
Current Favorite: Florida State
The Seminoles open against Alabama in a game that could be a preview of a national title game in January. Jimbo Fisher always gets the most out of his talent, and after a "step back" season in 2016, they appear primed and loaded to win it all this fall.

Louisville cannot be overlooked. Sure they fell apart down the stretch last season, but they should have beaten Clemson, and they hammered Florida State. Injuries up front cost them on offense, and Lamar Jackson is back. If the line can stay healthy, and Jackson gets his mojo going, the most under valued team outside of West Virginia can steal the ACC crown.

Clemson lost so much, that it is very difficult to see them winning the ACC and heading back to the playoff for a third straight year. Kelly Bryant is not Deshawn Watson, and losing Wayne Gallman, Mike Williams, and Ben Boulware seems to remove the heart and soul of that team. The defense should still be stout, and there is some talent coming back, so is it as crazy as it seems to count Clemson as a dark horse?

NC State Is the most dangerous team outside of the top three in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. They had Clemson on the ropes last season, and they have been a pesky out for Florida State for years. The Wolfpack would have several division crowns by now if they played in the Coastal Division, but if anyone can shock someone in this league, it maybe the Wolfpack.

Miami is a team getting lots of love early, and I am not buying in totally. They will have a first rate defense, but the offense has questions across the board. Still, I've seen stranger things.

Big 12 Conference
Current Favorite: Oklahoma
The Sooners get back Baker Mayfield at QB, but there are a host of questions around him, as new talent must be found at WR and RB, and they don't have clear answers and may go with a committee at that RB position. If there is a seriously vulnerable favorite in FBS football, it has to be the Sooners. Did we manage to mention the change at head coach?

Oklahoma State has all of the tools to win the Big 12, and in some circles, are the actual favorite, not Oklahoma. They may lose James Washington for all of or part of the first month after he sustained a hernia injury. He will try to play through it, but if that does not work out, the Cowboys get thin in experience in the receiver corps. If he manages well, the Cowboys are a top ten team.

West Virginia is one of the most undervalued teams, if not the most, in the nation for 2017. Will Grier is eligible (finally), and has taken to the offense like a horse to water. The Mountaineers are young in some spots, but massively talented, and could be one of the biggest dark horse candidates to finish the season in the top ten nationally.

Kansas State is getting some play in some circles as we head into the season. Bill Snyder is a more with less kind of coach, and you never know if this is an eight win team, or a Big 12 contender. I see them somewhere in the middle of all of that, but that could be good enough, and Jesse Ertz is finally healthy at QB.

Texas is a populist choice based on Tom Herman and his rhetoric, and nothing else. The roster is not good enough to win this league in 2017, but it very well may be in 2018. Expect some improvements, but I am literally throwing them into this conversation to satiate the myopia in Austin these days.

Big 10 Conference
Current Favorite: Ohio State
The Buckeyes are loaded, and Urban Meyer is a legend at head coach. All he knows how to do is win, and a 10 win season is a "down year" in Columbus. Even though the Buckeyes lost a host of talent, specifically on defense and in the secondary in particular, the Buckeyes are still stacked with talent.

Penn State Came out of nowhere and won the Big 10 last season, and most people believe that happened a year early. The year of expectations is now here, and the Nittany Lions are ahead of the curve now. With Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley back at QB and RB, and Joe Moorhead calling plays, Penn State may have the bets offense in the league, and one of the best in the nation. And despite a meltdown in the Rose Bowl, the defense is solid as well.

Michigan has questions all over the field, and Jim Harbaugh insists on not saying what we already know, and that is that Wilton Speight starts at QB. Whereas Michigan has holes all over the landscape, they have massive amounts of talent to fill those holes, and a coaching staff that knows how to manage talent. Don't knock the Wolverines out just yet.

Wisconsin Does not get the respect they deserve. The Badgers have what may be one of the best defenses ever seen, and took every major opponent in conference play to the mat. The Badgers will be right back there again in the West. If they had a truly great QB, they would probably be an outright conference favorite. Still, this defense may be good enough to steal a win in a conceived Big 10 title game scenario.

Northwestern isn't getting any serious love for a conference title contender this season, but this is my "stranger things have happened" pick. Nobody saw them coming in 1995 either. They have Clayton Thorson  at QB, and Justin Jackson back at RB, and may be that sneaky team in the conference that nobody is watching out for.

Minnesota is a team just like Northwestern in that nobody is talking about them, and yet they have rock solid talent, a steady defense, and one of the most energetic young coaches this side of Jim Harbaugh and Tom Herman in PJ Fleck. Fleck immediately upgrades what was already a solid football team.

Conference USA
Current Favorite: Western Kentucky
With Mike White back at QB, the Hilltoppers certainly are a popular choice to take the conference title in 2017 under new head coach Mike Sanford, Jr. It's hard to bet against conventional thinking there, but there may be some other options, and it may not be as easy as it has been in previous seasons.

Louisiana Tech gets even odds with the Toppers to take the league title out of the West. It is certainly solid and rational to believe that the Bulldogs could end up playing WKU in the league title game in December. Tech has some holes to fill, especially at QB, but the Bulldogs always do a great job at developing new starters across the board.

Middle Tennessee needs to maintain team health, especially at QB in Brent Stockstill. When he went down last season, so did the team. Stockstill has one of the best receivers in the nation that very few know about in Richie James, and has a host of other major league talent around him on offense. If anyone has an even money shot at taking this league title outside of the current favorites, place your money on the Blue Raiders.

Mid-American Conference
Current Favorite: Toledo
The Rockets are loaded, and if there is a G5 team from outside of the AAC that could swoop in and steal the NY6 bowl, it would be the Rockets. They have the most undervalued QB in the nation in Logan Woodside, and it is hard for me to see anyone stealing the MAC title out from under them this season.

Ohio is a team, that if I had the proverbial gun to the head to pick a dark horse to win the MAC, that I would pick. The Bobcats are a clear favorite in the East, and although they could get pushed harder this season by a resurgent Miami (Ohio) team, I clearly see them playing for the league title in December.

Miami (Ohio) cannot start as badly as they did last season and still steal the MAC East crown. The Redhawks are resurgent, as I have said, and they may very well do better than their six wins of 2016. They took Mississippi State to the end last season in their bowl game, and may be ready to make a very long shot run at the MAC East title.

Western Michigan loses some serious talent and head coach PJ Fleck. Alum Tim Lester steps in to lead the program forward after their best season in school history. The Broncos will step back this fall, but maybe, just maybe, they have enough talent to possibly steal the West? Again, this is a bit of a "stranger things" pick.

Northern Illinois: The Huskies took a beating last season, and were never healthy. If they stay healthy, Rod Carey could be the comeback coach of the year. The Huskies are a hard out when they have all of their pieces, and if they stay in one piece, this could be a serious dark horse candidate in the MAC.

Mountain West Conference
Current Favorite: Boise State
Consistency and success have been available in such large amounts with this program, that it has become customary to just name them as the perennial favorite. It's not as easy in 2017, as their division got tougher last season, and they handed the title over to Wyoming in the Mountain Division. That division is the strongest in the conference, by far, and it won't be an easy road in 2017.

San Diego State win the conference title game last season, but they were a team that really under performed all season long, with losses to South Alabama and Wyoming during the regular season. They rebounded to win the MWC title game (barely), and then blew out a Houston team that was in total disarray in the Las Vegas Bowl. Look for a more complete effort in 2017. Donnel Pumphrey may be gone, but the dynamic backfield duo of Rashaad Penny and Juwon Washington will be as explosive as ever.

Wyoming is a tough team to bet against, considering that they have a potential number one draft pick and long shot Heisman candidate in QB Josh Allen, and a steadily improving defense led by Safety Andrew Wingard. Craig Bohl's hard work with the Cowboys is finally sprouting fruit, and the Cowboys are a serious challenger to the throne once again.

Colorado State is a team to look at if you are looking for potential long shots. The Rams are opening a brand new stadium on campus, and that is something that will propel the energy level at home this fall. Nick Stevens is back at QB and seemingly is healthy, so watch out for the Rams this season.

Hawaii is fast improving under Nick Rolovich, and while I do not see them as challenging in 2017, they may be a more serious contender in 2018. Look for the Rainbow Warriors to shock a few teams this fall, as they show further signs of progression. The West needs another contender, badly.

PAC-12 Conference
Current Favorite: USC
The Trojans have become a popular choice to win the PAC-12 overall title this season, especially the way that they finished last fall. The Trojans, however, are not a perfect candidate, as they have some serious depth issues at receiver and on the line on offense. They are not the only contender in the race.

Washington still gets a ton of love, and they are not very far at all off the pace of USC in national polls to start the season. The Huskies have some serious losses on the personnel side, but Chris Petersen is one of the best at refilling a roster, and recruiting to win. The Huskies are a clear favorite in the North, but again, there are teams sneaking up on them.

Washington State should get more love than they are getting, as they return a seriously talented roster, and have one of the best QBs in the nation in Luke Falk. The Cougars have to play some serious defense to win the North away from the Huskies, but again, stranger things have happened.

Stanford is a tough team to bet against, and the Cardinal offer up one of a few teams that could steal a division or conference title this season in the PAC-12. David Shaw has won 10 or more games in five of six seasons. They drawback here is the QB situation, which is lacking in talent. Bryce Love should be a first rate replacement for the loss of Christian McCaffrey.

Colorado is a team that some feel will slip back a bit in 2017, but they showed in 2016 that they may be in the upper half of the South for a long while. Mike MacIntyre is a first rate coach, and knows how to win, and finally turned that corner after a long slow burn of a rebuilding process. Despite losses on defense, there is still talent abounding, and the QB job should be in good hands with Steven Montez.

Southeastern Conference
Current Favorite: Alabama
The Crimson Tide has become a staple of excellence, and of course that draws the ire of most people. However you feel about Alabama football, you have to respect the fact that Alabama was a mess when Nick Saban took over. He has built this from the ground up, and Alabama will remain a perennial favorite until he leaves the game.

Auburn has their QB situation figured out, and that makes them a dangerous team in 2017. Not having a top flight QB is what has been keeping them from competing against Alabama in recent years, not counting the fluke kick return game. Look for Auburn to have a more balanced approachthis fall, which makes them the second most dangerous team in the SEC.

Georgia is a team that you have to look at as well in SEC play as a long shot to win the title. They are clearlya favorite in the East, but all hinges on the development of Jacob Eason at QB, and whether or not he can catch up to the talent level of his star backs. The defense will be just fine, and if Eason can add 200 yards passing per game, the Bulldogs could be a team to watch.

Florida is really the last long shot that I believe has a snowball's chance at upsetting Alabama for the SEC title, and that is a severe long shot at best. The Gators will be moving into starting Malik Zaire at QB, and if that is the case, expect the Gators' offense to open up a great degree. If the defense is quite as strong as last season, and the offense intensifies, the Gators could be a popular bet as an upset possibility.

Sun Belt Conference
Current Favorite: Appalachian State
With Tyler Lamb back at QB and RB Jalin Moore back to run the offense, and a stellar defense ready to take the field, the Mountaineers are heavily favored to win the Sun Belt in 2017. App State has been favored by every major outlet, but are they all alone at the top of the league?

Troy is not getting nearly enough love despite the return of QB Brandon Silvers and RB Jordan Chunn. This is one of the most underrated duos in the nation offensively, and so sleeping on them is a huge mistake. They have a tough schedule early, but they do not play Appalachian State in conference play this fall, making them a sneaky good pick to take down the Mountaineers for the league title if they can get App State to slip up. This is really not a bad bet.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Coaches On The Hot Seat: 2017 Vol. 1

With the 2017 college football season now just nine days away, it's time to examine which coaches are sitting firmly on the hot seat as the season rapidly approaches. For those of you who are new to out "Hot Seat" and "Dead Pool" pieces, the "Hot Seat" works as follows: coaches who are starting to feel pressure to win now or be at jeopardy with their job status by years end, up to and including being fired. Our "Dead Pool" piece is written in regard to coaches who we see being lame ducks, and are going to be fired as per sources and information that we have received, and by data processing.

Here is your first volume of Coaches on the Hot Seat for the 2017 season!

Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina
I know that Montgomery is only entering year two with the Pirates, but one has to understand how proud a program this is, and losing is not widely accepted here. An opening game against reigning FCS champ James Madison is much tougher than it looks, and there is a real chance that ECU could lose this game. If that occurs, grumbling will commence that he is in way over his head here.

Chad Morris, SMU
I project that the Mustangs should go to a bowl this season, and that Morris will be sitting on a much cooler seat at year end, but if that does not happen, and a bowl game is missed, the luster that was on his shining star when he took this job will be wearing off in a hurry. That was evident on SMU fan site message boards when his name was being bandied about for the Baylor job, and a large collection of fans took the approach of "let him leave". That's not good.

Steve Addazio, Boston College
If BC goes to a bowl game this season, and that's all they would have to do, Addazio survives. If they do not get the offense on track, and if they finish below .500 in ACC play again, and if they whiff on a bowl bid, Addazio is likely going to be transitioning to the Dead Pool, even in a town where college football gets very little support.

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest
Clawson is in a similar position to Addazio in that he does not have to do much to stay on as head coach. He just has to get to a bowl and stay around .500 in ACC play. The Deacons were a surprise of sorts last season, but it this program back tracks in 2017, and that very well could happen, Clawson rumblings will begin anew.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
It's simple. Win this season or be gone. If he loses the opener to FCS power Eastern Washington, which could happen, he may be gone sooner than anyone thinks. His cat lives are about spent, and he may have one of the hottest seats on this list.

David Bailiff, Rice
I am guessing that he will end up in the Dead Pool...again. How he survived last season is completely beyond me, as every source, and every indication pointed glaringly that he would be let go at the end of the season. The team is virtually no better this season on paper, so here we go again.

Sean Kugler, UTEP
I just do not see how it has worked out well in El Paso. He has to go bowling this season, or else he is out, and that has to happen without his best weapon on offense in Aaron Jones.

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
A lot of folks seem to believe that he would be what we call a Dead Pooler. The assumption has been made that the expectations for the Irish are so high that he could not possibly retain his job. Truth be told, he will need at least 9 wins this season, or else he is done.

Rod Carey, Northern Illinois
There were many Husky fans that wanted his head on a platter last season, but cooler heads prevailed, as they should have. Last season was the first major slip during Carey's tenure, but it was enough to enrage the masses. If he has a similar season this fall, he could be in mortal danger.

Matt Wells, Utah State
He was such a rising star a couple of short years ago, but was that based more on the talent he had inherited from Gary Anderson, or has he forgotten the formula of his own success? Injuries have plagued the Aggies under Wells, but that is an excuse that has a shelf life, and that is about up.

Jim Mora, UCLA
Everyone keeps talking about his buyout, and that certainly saved him after last season. Dan Guerrero, UCLA's wine chugging, socialite AD, is retiring in June, so don't expect him to fire Mora only to turn a new coach over to an AD who has not hired the new coach. That said, if Mora falls on his face again, he may have no choice.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky
Stoops knew last season that if he failed to get the Wildcats into a bowl, he was all done, and that was true. It took a late run to make that happen, and he saved himself. The same holds true in 2017.

Butch Jones, Tennessee
Jones is a great recruiter. He's a not so great coach. He has had several top tier recruiting classes, but yet rival coaches in the league see the Vols' upperclassmen as being weak and soft. It would seem that great recruiting classes all on their own, without cultivation once they reach campus, maybe good enough for championship of life pronouncements and Music City Bowl rings, but they are not good for much else.

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Mason has been on a backwards slide since arriving in Nashville when it has come to recruiting, as according to rankings, his have slid in the wrong direction each year that he has been coach. If Middle Tennessee pulls off a win in the opener, things could start getting testy.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas
It's the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about, but Bielema has not exactly been blowing the doors off the building since taking the Arkansas job. Arkansas is actually a bit worse now in some ways since he took over. Patience is boiling away rapidly.

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Sumlin has gone bowling regularly since taking over the Aggies, but that is not getting it done. The Aggies were ranked as high as 4th nationally last season, and completely collapsed after that. 8 win seasons are not acceptable anymore, and that is now public record.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017 College Football Week FBS One Game Previews

A full regular week slate opens up on August 31st to kick the season off in earnest. Here are my previews for the games played the weekend of 8/31-9/4:

FIU at UCF: Butch Davis debuts for the Panthers, but Scott Frost's Knights will spoil it.
Presbyterian at Wake Forest: Blue Hose have no real shot with Demon Deacons here.
Austin Peay at Cincinnati: Bearcats will blast one of the worst teams in FCS football.
Buffalo at Minnesota: no chance Leipold gets Bulls off to fast start against Fleck and the Gophers.
Tennessee State at Georgia State: FCS Tigers sure would love to ruin GSU Stadium debut.
Elon at Toledo: If the Rockets haven't ended this game by the half, something is wrong.
Rhode Island at Central Michigan: Rams have no real right in playing FBS schools.
Tulsa at Oklahoma State: Cowboys will unleash Randolph and co. against rival Golden Canes.
Holy Cross at U Conn: Huskies will try to get off to fast start against FCS Crusaders.
North Dakota at Utah: Look for UND to keep it close early, but Utes will pull away.
Ohio State at Indiana: It's all about Kevin Wilson vs. Hoosiers in this one.
Florida A&M at Arkansas: Arkansas should have 50 at the half against the Rattlers.
UL-Monroe at Memphis: Tigers looking for big start, and are favored by almost four TDs.
Sacramento State at Idaho: This will be a conference game next season, but Idaho wins big.
New Mexico State at Arizona State: One of the few games that ASU will be favored to win.

Fordham at Army: Rams may give Black Knights fits early, but Army wins.
Charlotte at Eastern Michigan: Can Chris Creighton give another performance like 2016 at EMU?
Central Connecticut at Syracuse: This is a meaningless game, as Syracuse rolls early.
Navy at FAU: Middies look to spoil the debut of Lane Kiffin.
Colorado State at Colorado: After Rams stadium debut high, Buffs will look to bring them down.
Washington at Rutgers: Huskies should dominate early against one of worst FBS teams.
Utah State at Wisconsin: Badgers defense should make things difficult for Aggies.
Boston College at Northern Illinois: Eagles have become favorites after opening as dog.

Abilene Christian at New Mexico: Lobos should have this game won by the half.
Kent State at Clemson: Tigers defense will overwhelm Kent State early.
Ball State at Illinois: Illini are not great, but should handle Ball State at home.
Wyoming at Iowa: Hawkeyes getting too much love against Josh Allen led Cowboys.
Bowling Green at Michigan State: We will learn plenty about Sparty if they struggle here.
Akron at Penn State: Nittany Lions begin their title push here.
Maryland at Texas: Herman era begins at UT, but don't underestimate the Terps and DJ Durkin.
Missouri State at Missouri: Mizzou should roll early with explosive offense.
Cal at North Carolina: Bears travel across country, get extra kick with early start.
Bethune-Cookman at Miami: Hurricanes with a cupcake start to the season. Extra frosting, please.
Youngstown State at Pitt: Panthers cannot afford to sleep on dangerous Penguins from FCS.
Portland State at Oregon State: This is a game that Beavers can lose if not careful.
VMI at Air Force: Falcons get a very easy start to 2017 to get young talent up and running.
NC State at South Carolina: Gamecocks offense is solid, but can defense stop Wolfpack?
Michigan at Florida: Gators suspend 7 for this game, making Wolverines the favorite.
Temple at Notre Dame: Irish should be improved a great deal, and Owls are breaking in new coach.
UTEP at Oklahoma: Sooners should cruise early behind Mayfield, stable of young backs.
Nevada at Northwestern: Wildcats need fast start after last season's early snorefest.
William & Mary at Virginia: Tribe would love to steal one from "big brother".
Alabama A&M at UAB: The return of the Blazers should start with an early win over Bulldogs.
Troy at Boise State: Broncos are rightfully worried about this one, as it's a solid early challenge.
Stony Brook at USF: Bulls get second relatively easy game in a row to open season.
Eastern Washington at Texas Tech: EWU can run with Red Raiders and steal a win here.
Kentucky at Southern Miss: Wildcats look for revenge after implosion last season.
Charleston Southern at Mississippi State: Bulldogs should have this one put away early.
Western Michigan at USC: Magic ride is over for Broncos, as Trojans are big favorites here.
North Carolina Central at Duke: Not sure why this has become an annual game.
James Madison at East Carolina: JMU Duke have a real shot at an FCS upset in this one.
Albany at Old Dominion: Great Danes are no slouch this fall, but Monarchs should handle them.
Appalachian State at Georgia: Bulldogs' run game should more than handle the job.
Miami (Ohio) at Marshall: Herd should be favored at home, and can't be as bad as they were in '16.
Lamar at North Texas: UNT gets and old Southland rival at home, and should win with ease.
Houston at UTSA: Applewhite era begins on the road against pesky Roadrunners.
Eastern Kentucky at Western Kentucky: WKU has enough in the tank to easily win in Sanford debut.
Northwestern State at Louisiana Tech: Bulldogs breeze in this one.
Stephen F. Austin at SMU: Mustangs should have no trouble pulling away early.
U Mass at Coastal Carolina: Chants should be more than ready to handle uptempo UMass attack.
Liberty at Baylor: Flames are going FBS next year, will get a taste of that hell in this one.
SE Missouri State at Kansas: Jayhawks will win this one, at least.
Hampton at Ohio: Bobcats should have no trouble taking down the Pirates at home.
SE Louisiana at UL-Lafayette: Ragin' Cajuns need every win they can get, and this should be one.
Houston Baptist at Texas State: Bobcats national worst run attack should be able to run here.
Central Arkansas at Kansas State: Snyder should have his guys on watch against pesky FCS Bears.
Georgia Southern at Auburn: Eagles have not nearly enough weaponry to beat the Tigers.
South Alabama at Ole Miss: Jaguars beat Miss. State last season, are the Rebels next?
Louisville at Purdue: Cardinals are looking to run it up in opener vs. Big 10 opponent.
Cal Poly at San Jose State: Mustangs have a legit shot to pull an FCS upset over Spartans.
Arkansas State at Nebraska: I'm not high on the Huskers here, but not low enough to see a loss here.
Jackson State at TCU: Frogs look for a quick start against severely outgunned FCS opponent.
Florida State at Alabama: Could be an early playoff preview, so just enjoy the ride.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: UNI has had success in recent years against big brother Cyclones.
Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee: Blue Raiders have the better offensive firepower in this one.
Grambling at Tulane: Green Wave get an early winnable game, and it is much needed.
Southern Utah at Oregon: Ducks kick start the Taggart era with a cream puff.
UC Davis at San Diego State: Only thing worth mentioning is that Dan Hawkins debuts with Aggies.
Howard at UNLV: It'll be a quiet night for the Bison in Vegas.
BYU vs. LSU: Game is in Houston, and BYU has a real shot here.
Incarnate Word at Fresno State: Only game the Bulldogs will be favored to win all season.
Montana State at Washington State: Cougars should have an easy go against the FCS Bobcats.
Northern Arizona at Arizona: Wildcats should win, but it may be one of very few wins this season.
Western Carolina at Hawaii: No doubt that the Rainbows should win this one with ease.

Texas A&M at UCLA: Call it the Hot Seat Bowl, Mora vs. Sumlin.
West Virginia at Virginia Tech: Mountaineers offense may be too much for Hokies to handle at home.

Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech: Virtual home game for Tech, who should be able to control this game.

2017 College Football Week Zero/One FCS Previews

Here is my look in on the games scheduled for week one to open the 2017 college football season on the FCS level:

Kentucky Christian at Morehead State: MSU Eagles should cruise early in this one.
St. Anselm at Wagner: After brutal schedule last season, Wagner opens with D2 softy.
Kennesaw State at Samford: Samford passing game could be too much, too quick for Owls.
Delaware State at Delaware: DSU continues to struggle in series, as Rocco debuts with Hens.
Maine at New Hampshire: Early CAA conference game should tell who is for real here.
Western Illinois at Tennessee Tech: WIU needs a quick start over underachieving Purple Eagles.
Eastern Illinois at Indiana State: Panthers look like solid favorites, as Indiana State looks to struggle.
Clarion at UT-Martin: Skyhawks get an easy one for home opener.
Jacksonville at Mercer: Dolphins will have a tough road against former PFL conference mate.
Kentucky Wesleyan at Murray State: Racers should destroy KW early at home.
Methodist at Campbell: Fighting Camels shouldn't have to fight too hard here.
Duquesne at South Dakota State: Dukes are best team in NEC, but not enough to beat Jackrabbits.
McNeese State at Nicholls State: Early SLC game should be over early, as Cowboys should cruise.
Western Oregon at Idaho State: Only game Bengals will be favored in, but not by much.

Lock Haven at St. Francis: Flash get an early schedule gift, and should cruise here.
Dayton at Robert Morris: Flyers may struggle, but they should get the win.
Villanova at Lehigh: Top 25 competition in week one, as Wildcats will try to scratch out road win.
Valporaiso at Montana: Not sure what Valpo was thinking in agreeing to this.
Merrimack at Bryant: Old D2 enemies battle it out again, with Bryant being the favorite this time.
Mississippi Valley State at North Dakota State: See my Valpo statement.
College of Idaho at Northern Colorado: Bears should demolish NAIA newcomer.
Western New Mexico at San Diego: They play all the time, but WNMU never wins.
Virginia State at Norfolk State: Former D2 rivals belt it out in classic HBCU match up.
Newberry at Citadel: Newberry is a player in D2, but not enough of one to take down Citadel.
Furman at Wofford: Early SoCon game gives Wofford a shot to show why they are favored in league.
Marist at Bucknell: Regional match gives Bison a chance to jump up early.
North Carolina A&T at Gardner-Webb: Aggies of A&T are a rare early MEAC favorite in this one.
Stetson at Sacred Heart: SHU Pioneers want to show rest of NEC that they are a threat.
Morgan State at Towson: Battle of Baltimore kicks off the season in the Mid-Atlantic.
South Dakota at Drake: Rare home game vs. power conference foe for Bulldogs may not end well.
Limestone at East Tennessee State: ETSU should put it away early.
Miles at Alcorn State: Miles cannot run with SWAC favorite.
Brevard at Davidson: Wildcats get a solid shot to get off to fast start.
Morehouse at UA-Pine Bluff: UAPB needs to get this win, as wins could be rare.
Butler at Illinois State: Redbirds completely outclass Bulldogs on football field.
Montana-Western at Weber State: Wildcats should get big win against team from NAIA.
Tuskegee at Alabama State: Interesting in-state game, but Hornets should win big.
Prairie View at Texas Southern: Tough game early in SWAC West play.

South Carolina State at Southern: Bulldogs at Jags is a savory early season HBCU match.

2017 College Football Week Zero Game Previews

As I begin writing this post, the 2017 college football season is just 11 days away! Camps are in full gear, and everyone is ramping up to get the season started. This season, there are a handful of games being played a week before the season begins in earnest, and this is known as "week zero". Here are my previews for the game being played on August 26th and 27th:

Oregon State at Colorado State
Date and Time: 8/26, 11:30 AM PST
Point Spread: CSU -3.5
The Rams are opening up their brand new stadium for this game, which is something that has long been in the works. CSU cannot afford to pour all of their emotion into the stadium, as they still must play the game. The Rams figure to contend in the Mountain West Mountain Division in 2017.
Oregon State showed some signs of life, but Marcus McMariyon is gone at QB, having transferred to Fresno State after losing the job in camp to Jake Luton. The Beavers are getting more competitive in the PAC-12, but winning this game in front of what should be a hostile road crowd, may be a tall order.
Bilo's Pick: Colorado State

Portland State at BYU
Date and Time: 8/26, Noon PST
Point Spread: N/A 
BYU opens the season with Tanner Mangum not having to look over his shoulder as the starting QB, which may be the best news coming out of the program right now. Mangum is a winner, and the Cougars have been identifying solid weapons to have around him in camp. Defensively, the Cougars should overwhelm the FCS Vikings fairly early on.
Portland State is not one of the favorites in the Big Sky conference, and are playing this game for a check, although they have won games against both Washington State and North Texas in recent years. Big Sky teams are always dangerous in early season tilts.
Bilo's Pick: BYU

Hawaii at U Mass
Date and Time: 8/26, 3PM PST
TV: None
Point Spread: PK
I am still having a great deal of trouble understanding why this game is a PK, when Hawaii is clearly the dominant team here, but the Rainbows do have a history of laying eggs when they have to travel across the mainland to the east coast. Still, Hawaii has the personnel and the talent to shake that image here.
U Mass will clearly try to turn this football game into a shootout if they can, as they have the best TE in the nation that nobody wants to acknowledge in Adam Breneman. Still, the Minutemen are coming off a two win season, and may not be much better than that in 2017.
Bilo's Pick: Hawaii

USF at San Jose State
Date and Time: 4:30PM PST
Point Spread: USF -20
USF is coming back fully loaded in 2017 with new head coach Charlie Strong, as he has one of the most underrated QBs in the nation in Quentin Flowers, who led the Bulls in both passing and rushing last season. This game opened up at USF -25, but has settled down at -20.
San Jose State has a weapon in the secondary in CB Andre Charchere, who led the Spartans with 14 PBUs last fall, but the offense may not be up to speed with how fast the USF defense may be coming off of the edge. The Spartans may not have any other answers on defense as to how to stop Flowers.
Bilo's Pick: USF

Stanford vs. Rice @ Sydney, Australia
Date and Time: 8/26, 7PM PST
Point Spread: Stanford -30.5
David Shaw has won double digit games in five of six seasons as coach of the Cardinal, but they have some lingering issues at QB heading into 2017. Christian McCaffrey is gone at RB, and that removes a major weapon from the Cardinal arsenal. His replacement, Bryce Love, is getting a ton of love as we head into the season. The Cardinal defense should be stout, as always.
It baffles me as to how David Bailiff continues to survive at Rice, especially given how it seemed completely expected by the language used by the AD last fall that Bailiff would be removed once the season was completed. Imagine my surprise when that did not happen. Bailiff is all over the place as head coach of the Owls, and they just do not have the talent to run with the Cardinal, especially half a world away from the comforts of home.
Bilo's Pick: Stanford

Texas Southern at Florida A&M
Date and Time: 8/26, 3PM PST
Point Spread: None (Bilo's Spread: TSU -2.5)
This is a classic HBCU Kickoff Classic game between members of the SWAC and MEAC. The Rattlers are at home, but are picked to finish in the middle of the MEAC as they try to claw their way back to a spot of respectability in the conference after some seriously down years.
The TSU Tigers have been up and down as of late, but may have just enough in the tank to steal a road win that could be a confidence builder as they prepare for a tough SWAC slate in the West.
Bilo's Pick: Texas Southern

Chattanooga at Jacksonville State
Date and Time: 8/26, 3:30 PST
TV: ESPN (Check Listings)
Point Spread: None (Bilo's Spread: JSU -6.5)
This is a showcase game between SoCon and Ohio Valley Conference powers. The JSU Gamecocks are playing at home, and are ranked sixth nationally in the FCS STATS pre-season top 25 poll. They are a definite national title contender, and should be a heavy favorite to repeat as OVC champs.
Chattanooga has a new head coach in Tom Arth, as Russ Huesman left after last season. The Mocs have been on a steady roll of late, and are looking to keep it going in a competitive top half of the SoCon. JSU comes in with the more stable situation, and so look for them to try to run the ball early to gain tempo control and momentum.
Bilo's Pick: Jacksonville State

Colgate at Cal Poly
Date and Time: 8/26, 4PM PST
Point Spread: None (Bilo's Spread: CP -14.5)
The Cal Poly Mustangs open the season ranked #23 in the STATS FCS rankings and are picked to finish 3rd in the Big Sky, which is good enough to win several other conferences outright. The Mustangs use a sustained rushing attack out of the triple option to gain control over tempo, and that should not be a problem in the opener.
For the Colgate Red Raiders, this is a rare trip outside of the northeast region. They are currently unranked and are looking for an early statement win, one that will be difficult to obtain.
Bilo's Pick: Cal Poly

Richmond at Sam Houston State
Date and Time: 8/27, 4PM PST
Point Spread: None (Bilo's Spread: SHSU -1.5)
In what seems to me is the best game of the weekend overall, we get a clash of two top ten programs in the early STATS FCS rankings. Sam Houston State is ranked 3rd nationally, while the Spiders come in at seventh. We should get a major clash of the titans here, and this shows why FCS and D2 football know what they are doing, as either team could lose here and still be a major FCS title contender with a full blown playoff. This is a major contest between what should be two elite FCS programs in 2017.
Bilo's Pick: Sam Houston State, unless Richmond PK Griffin Trau gets a shot to win it late.

2017 All-Bilo FBS Pre-Season Team

As we approach the last 12 days to the opening of the college football season of 2017, it is now time to unveil my All-Bilo FBS Pre-Season team for this year! My selections re as follows:

QB-Lamar Jackson, Louisville
QB-Sam Darnold, USC
QB-Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
RB-Justin Jackson, Northwestern
RB-Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
RB-Derius Guice, LSU
RB-Saquon Barkley, Penn State
WR-Richie James, Middle Tennessee
WR-Anthony Miller, Memphis
WR-James Washington, Oklahoma State
WR-Michael Gallup, Colorado State
TE-Adam Breneman, U Mass
PK-Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss
KR-Quadree Henderson, Pittsburgh
PR-Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

DL-Ed Oliver-Houston
DL-Harold Landry, Boston College
DL-Bradley Chubb, NC State
DL-Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, Arkansas State
LB-Tegray Scales, Indiana
LB-Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
LB-Bryan London, Texas State
LB-Travin Howard, TCU
DB-Tarvarus McFadden, Florida State
DB-Rashard Fant, Indiana
DB-Amari Coleman, Central Michigan
DB-DJ Reed, Kansas State
P-Johnny Townsend, Florida

D2 Football Update

Here is your first D2 Football Update of the 2017 season from the Bilo College Football Report! This update will post as news and information comes available during the season...

Malone Adds Assistants
Dwayne Aaron has been hired by Malone to coach Slots and TEs, while Jake Sears will coach receivers in 2017. Aaron played at D3 Mount Union last season as a RB, while Sears is the former coach at Urbana.

Gulf South Media Projections
North Alabama has been selected by the media as the GSC favorites in 2017, with Valdosta State picked second, and West Georgia picked to finish third.Florida Tech, Delta State, and West Alabama round out the top six in the conference.

Great Midwest Media Projections
The projections are also out for the GMC, as current power Ohio Dominican has once again been selected as the favorite to win the league. Hillsdale is picked second, Findlay third, and Alderson-Broaddus fourth. Walsh, Lake Erie, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Malone round out the projections.

John Fitzgerald of Central Oklahoma Fame Joins the Power Rated Football Podcast
I had the honor of speaking with College Football Hall of Fame candidate and UCO Broncho legend John Fitzgerald on the podcast this week! Listen in here:

Northern Sun Football Coaches Poll Released
Minnesota State (Mankato) is once again favored to win the NSC in the annual coaches poll. UM-Duluth was picked second, while Bemidji State and Augustana round out the top four in the 16 team conference. The rest were selected as follows: Sioux Falls, Winona State, MSU Moorhead, SW Minnesota State, Northern State, St. Cloud State, Upper Iowa, Wayne State, Concordia-St. Paul, Minot State, Mary, and UM-Crookston.

South Atlantic Poll Released
Newberry was selected as the favorite to win the SAC in 2017 in the annual coaches poll. Wingate and Mars Hill round out the top three, while Catawba, Carson-Newman, Tusculum, Lenoir-Rhyne, and Limestone round out the poll. Lenoir-Rhyne and Limestone tied for the final spot in the poll.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Power Rated Football Podcast:Episode 4, Part 2

In Part 2 of this week's podcast, I speak with Jay Lincoln-Thomas of @RedDirtSport on all things Oklahoma Sooners football for the 2017 season. We discuss the Bob Stoops to Lincoln Riley coaching change, personnel on both sides of the ball, recruiting, and of course, the state of the Big 12 overall. Listen in at the link below:

Power Rated Football Podcast: Episode 4, Part 1; The John Fitzgerald Interview

This week, for part one of our weekly podcast, I interview John Fitzgerald if Central Oklahoma. John is the current color analyst for the Bronchos, and was a three time All-American on the D2 level, and is a current candidate for the College Football Hall of Fame. We speak about Central Oklahoma football, his career, the Hall of Fame, and the MIAA. Here is John's bio:

In 1999, The Daily Oklahoman honored Fitzgerald by naming him to the All-Century State College Football team, which honored the best small college players from 1900–1999. Fitzgerald was named to that team following his sophomore season.[2]
In 2005, UCO honored Fitzgerald by naming him to the All-Century University of Central Oklahoma team. This was a team honoring the best football players in the 100 years of football played by the University of Central Oklahoma.[3]
In 2006, the Lone Star Conference celebrated its 75th Anniversary by selecting the 75 greatest football players in the history of the conference. Fitzgerald was one of six Bronchos named to this elite team.[4] During Fitzgerald's career at UCO, the Bronchos won 35 games. During 1997, UCO finished with a record of 9–2 and won the Lone Star Conference North Division Championship. In 1998, they had the most success of that four year span. The Bronchos finished the season 13–0 and ranked number one in the nation. They won the Lone Star Conference North Division Championship as well as the overall conference championship. They also won the NCAA West Regional Championship. In 1999, UCO started out 8-0, but finished the season with 3 straight losses. They still won their second straight overall conference championship. In 2000, UCO finished 5-5.
Fitzgerald was invited to the NFL Combine and trained with Chip Smith at Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta, Georgia. While in Atlanta, Fitzgerald trained with NFL stars Rudi JohnsonAlge CrumplerChamp Bailey and Brian Urlacher. He suffered a shoulder injury that prevented a career in the National Football League.
Fitzgerald was also a standout track and field athlete while at Central Oklahoma. Fitzgerald twice qualified for the NCAA Indoor & Outdoor National Championships in the shotput and discus throw. During his time at UCO, he had a personal best in the discus of 180 feet 4 inches and a best in the shot of 52 feet 10.75 inches.
Fitzgerald is on the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot.
Here is the link to "The Power Rated Podcast: Episode 4, Part One"

College Football Trap Games For Week Zero/One

Every week in college football, there is what we call the "trap game". It's a game where a favorite should win, and in some cases handily, but there is an element of shock always apparent. Here are our first trap games for the 2017 season for week zero and week one, ranging from 8/26 through 9/4:

Oregon State at Colorado State (8/26)
Which Team Faces the Trap: Colorado State
The Rams are opening up a brand new on-campus stadium against the Beavers, and expectations are high. The game has been sold out for weeks, so expect the environment to be rowdy. If the Rams are too distracted by the new facilities, the Beavers, who showed some signs of life last season, could swoop in and ruin the party.

Hawaii at U Mass (8/26)
Which Team Faces the Trap: Hawaii
U Mass is absolutely terrible. Hawaii turned a corner by winning seven games last season. The Warriors don't do well when traveling across country, but should be an overwhelming favorite to win this game, but yet Vegas does not see them as that. Hawaii should be a 7 point favorite, but are showing up as a PK in some places.

Tulsa at Oklahoma State (8/31)
Which Team Faces the Trap: Oklahoma State 
James Washington may not be healthy for OSU. Tulsa lost a ton of stars after last season, but they have the talent to move the football on a team that did not play great defense last fall. Could this be the Central Michigan game of 2017 for the Cowboys?

Colorado State vs. Colorado @Denver (9/1)
Which Team Faces the Trap: Colorado
The Buffs won the PAC-12 South last season, but have lost some talent on both sides of the ball. Emotions are always high in this game. If the Rams are coming off of a home opening win, they may have the edge here on emotion alone.

Cal Poly at San Jose State (9/2)
Which Team Faces the Trap: San Jose State
The FCS Mustangs are a power/option running team, which makes the best Spartan defender, Andre Carchere, into a run stopper when he is a first rate pass stopper. If Cal Poly can control the tempo, we may have our first FCS upset of an FBS team in 2017.

Wyoming at Iowa (9/2)
The Trapped: Iowa
Iowa is almost a two TD favorite, but that discounts the ability of Cowboys QB Josh Allen, and what could be a surprising Wyoming defense. Remember, Iowa lost at home to North Dakota State last season at home.

Maryland at Texas (9/2)
The Trapped: Maryland
People are buying into the Tom Herman hype at Texas, but are totally discounting DJ Durkin and the Terps. That would be a mistake. Maryland could be a great bet on the spread, and could steal an upset as well.

Youngstown State at Pitt (9/2)
The Trapped: Pitt
The Penguins are the reigning FCS runner-up, while Pitt is moving on to Max Browne at QB, and has no James Connor. Pitt has traditionally struggled against early season supposed cupcake games, and YSU is looking for a huge get early.

Temple at Notre Dame (9/2)
The Trapped: Notre Dame
The Irish are a big favorite in the season opener as they try to bounce back from a massively disappointing season. The problem is that the Irish may not deserve that much love. Watch this game closely as it pertains to the future of Brian Kelly as head coach of the Irish.

Eastern Washington at Texas Tech
The Trapped: Texas Tech
EWU is an FCS power, and an offensive juggernaut, and really could play in just about any Group of 5 league. Texas Tech can't play all. The Red Raiders could end up being in for a huge surprise here.

James Madison at East Carolina
The Trapped: East Carolina
I am outright favoring JMU to win this game as the defending FCS champs actually outclass the Pirates across the board.

South Alabama at Ole Miss
The Trapped: Ole Miss
With all they have going on, the Rebels are a 24 point favorite against the team that beat Mississippi State last season. I'm not buying it, and neither should you.

Northern Iowa at Iowa State
The Trapped: Iowa State
The Cyclones could be the most improved team in the Big 12, but if they find a way to trip up against the UNI Panthers, projections could quickly change. ISU has historically had some struggles against their FCS rival.

Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee
The Trapped: Vanderbilt
The Commodores are a minor favorite here, but MT is the better team coming into the season, especially on offense. Watch the passing game of  the Blue Raiders, which should be the difference.

BYU vs. LSU at Houston
The Trapped: LSU
The Cougars return their star QB from 2015 in Tanner Mangum, and may have a sneaky good run game.  The real battle will be the battle between LSU RB Darius Guice and the BYU defense. LSU is getting too much point spread love here.

NFL Draft Prospectus 2018: Top 15 Quarterbacks

As part of our new menu of areas that I am covering in 2017/18, we will be covering year round analysis of the 2018 NFL Draft through our NFL Draft Prospectus series. In this post, I give you my top 15 quaterbacks who are eligible for the NFL 2018 Draft. I will keep updated weekly rankings by position, and we begin here.

Top 15 QBs
1. Sam Darnold USC:
Saved the Trojans in 2016, has a good head on his shoulders.

2. Josh Allen, Wyoming:
Rapidly rising prospect has the mentality and desirable size/arm.

3. Lamar Jackosn, Louisville:
He's Cam Newton but can throw from the pocket.

4. Riley Ferguson, Memphis:
Big, underrated arm, and will wake some folks up this fall.

5. Josh Rosen, UCLA:
Falling rapidly on our big board, as production and personality take hits.

6. Chase Litton, Marshall:
Good player on a bad team last season, has size and max arm.

7. Jarrett Stidham, Auburn:
Will have to prove he is more than  system guy at Auburn.

8.Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State:
Has accuracy and does not turn the ball over.

9. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma:
May not have the size, but he has the skills.

10. Luke Falk, Washington State:
System guy, but has skills and head that are coachable.

11. DeAndre Francois, Florida State:
Young gun who has a lot riding in his RS soph season.

12. Jake Browning, Washington:
Was a bit beat up by the end of last season, could rise quickly.

13. Kyle Allen, Houston:
Has one year under his belt, but needs to show what he has in friendly offense.

14. Tanner Mangum, BYU:
 He has guts and game, and with Taysom Hill gone, he has the spotlight.

15. Brett Rypien, Boise State: Does not get a ton of love, but he is a gamer.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bilo's Spreads For FBS and FCS Games Week Zero and Week One

Welcome to the first ever "Bilo's Point Spreads" for 2017! I have created my very own point spreads for every FBS and FCS game played for week zero and week one this week, and will do so every week this season. This reflects where I think that each game should fall, and these lines are not for betting purposes, and are for entertainment purposes only. 

Colorado State -6 Oregon State W
BYU -34 Portland State L
Hawaii -3.5 U Mass L
USF -24.5 San Jose State L
Stanford -34 Rice W

Wake Forest -22 Presbyterian
Cincinnati -42 Austin Peay
Minnesota -30 Buffalo
Georgia State -18.5 Tennessee State
Toledo -45 Elon
Central Michigan -32 Rhode Island
Oklahoma State -21 Tulsa
U Conn -22 Holy Cross
Utah -27.5 North Dakota
Ohio State -24 Indiana
Arkansas -48 Florida A&M
Memphis -28 UL-Monroe
Idaho -25 Sacramento State
Arizona State -31.5 New Mexico State

Army -10.5 Fordham
Eastern Michigan -14 Charlotte
Syracuse -38 Central Connecticut
Navy -26 FAU
Colorado -10 Colorado State
Washington -35 Rutgers
Wisconsin -31 Utah State
Northern Illinois -2.5 Boston College

North Texas 15 Lamar
Baylor -37 Liberty
New Mexico -25 Abilene Christian
Fresno State -21 Incarnate Word
Hawaii 28.5 Western Carolina
San Jose State 5.5 Cal Poly
Air Force 27.5 VMI
Missouri 41 Missouri State
Illinois 9 Ball State
Iowa 4 Wyoming
Michigan state -21.5 Bowling Green
Penn State -35 Akron
Texas -7.5 Maryland
Clemson 35 Kent State
North Carolina 8 California
Miami 47.5 Bethune-Cookman
Pittsburgh 9.5 Youngstown State
Oregon State 17 Portland State
NC State -6.5 South Carolina
Florida 3.5 Michigan
Notre Dame 17 Temple
Oklahoma 46.5 UTEP
Northwestern 26 Nevada
UAB -14 Alabama A&M
Virginia -5.5 William & Mary
Boise State -6 Troy
USF -38 Stony Brook
Eastern Washington -1.5 Texas Tech
Kentucky -4 Southern Miss
Mississippi State -31 Charleston Southern
USC -28 Western Michigan
Duke -31 North Carolina Central
James Madison -5 East Carolina
Old Dominion -13 Albany
Georgia -15 Appalachian State
Marshall -2 Miami (Ohio)
Ohio -24 Hampton
UL-Lafayette -14.5 SE Louisiana
Texas State -17 Houston Baptist
Kansas -22 SE Missouri State
Houston -20 UTSA
Western Kentucky -27 Eastern Kentucky
Louisiana Tech -32 Northwestern State
SMU -28.5 Stephen F Austin
Tulane -12 Grambling
Coastal Carolina -4.5 U Mass
Kansas State -19 Central Arkansas
Auburn -23 Georgia Southern
Ole Miss -10 South Alabama
Louisville -28 Purdue
Nebraska -16 Arkansas State
TCU -48 Jackson State
Alabama -3.5 Florida State
Iowa State -11 Northern Iowa
Middle Tennessee -4.5 Vanderbilt
Oregon   -49 Southern Utah
San Diego State -38.5 UC Davis
UNLV -31 Howard
Washington State -34 Montana State
Arizona -23 Northern Arizona

Texas A&M -7 UCLA
West Virginia -10 Virginia Tech

Georgia Tech -2 Tennessee

Texas Southern -5.5 Florida A&M
Jacksonville State -2.5 Chattanooga
Cal Poly -10 Colgate

Sam Houston State -4 Richmond

Idaho State -28.5 Western Oregon
Wagner -22 St. Anselm
Morehead State -35 Kentucky Christian
Samford -7.5 Kennesaw State
Delaware -20 Delaware State
New Hampshire -17.5 Maine
Western Illinois -14 Tennessee Tech
Eastern Illinois -16.5 Indiana State
Murray State -33 Kentucky Wesleyan
Campbell -28 Methodist
UT-Martin -31 Clarion
Mercer -13.5 Jacksonville
South Dakota State -10 Duquesne
McNeese State -27 Nicholls State

Towson -25 Morgan State
Montana -40.5 Valporaiso
Nothern Colorado -50 College of Idaho
St. Francis -27 Lock Haven
Dayton -7.5 Robert Morris
Villanova -12 Lehigh
Monmouth 3.5 Lafayatte
Bryant -9.5 Merrimack
North Dakota State -43 Mississippi Valley State
San Diego -25 Western New Mexico
Norfolk State -17 Virginia State
Citadel -27 Newberry
Wofford -5.5 Furman
Bucknell -1.5 Marist
Sacred Heart -14 Stetson
North Carolina A&T -6 Gardner-Webb
South Dakota -4.5 Drake
East Tennessee State -17.5 Limestone
Alcorn State -28 Miles
Davidson -24.5 Brevard
UA Pine Bluff -8.5 Morehouse
Illinois State 17 Butler
Weber State 38 Montana Western
Alabama State -3.5 Tuskegee
Prairie View -5 Texas Southern

South Carolina State -8.5 Southern