John Roberts College Football

Friday, September 02, 2005

Week One: Friday

First of all, the Maine at Nebraska and MTSU at Alabama games have both been added to the Gameplan package. Both start at 7:00 PM. Second of all, the blog will be taking Monday off, since it is Labor Day. On Tuesday, the blog will return with coverage of the entire weekend. Can't wait to see you then!

WEEKEND STARS
Thoughts on who the stars of the weekend will be!

Game of the Week: Miami at Florida State (8:00 PM Monday, ABC)- The Seminoles and the Hurricanes will play an absolutely unbelievable game that will come down to the very end. Of course, we all know how this one will end. Florida State will make a couple of mistakes in the kicking game in the fourth quarter, Miami's offense will come to life in the final ten minutes, and the Hurricanes will win a close game. But you should watch, just in case this is FINALLY the year that Florida State comes out with the win.

Upset of the Week: North Carolina State over Virginia Tech (7:15 PM Sunday, ESPN2)- This section will contain the game MOST LIKELY to result in an upset each weekend. It is not necessarily a game that I am guaranteeing will be an upset, but rather the game that I am predicting is mosly likely to be a n upset. The Wolfpack beat Virginia Tech last year and the Hokies went on to win the ACC title. NCSU still has a great defense, and Marcus Vick will be starting his first game as the Hokies QB. Not a great combination for Virginia Tech. If Vick proves to be something truly special and plays really well, the Hokies will win. The runner up to be in this spot is Goergia Tech over Auburn.

Player of the Weeek: 1) Reggie Bush, USC- The Trojans running back is going against Hawaii's awful defense. Look for him to absolutely blow up. The Warriors have no one who can match him.
2) Matt Leinart, USC- The Trojans quarterback is also going against Hawaii's awful defense. The difference is that the Warriors run defense is not as good as their pass defense...not that either is good.
3) Vince Young, Texas- Come on. Louisiana-Lafayette? This has to be a joke. The Longhorns quarterback should run for 100 yards and throw for 200 against this crew...in the first half alone! He'll have an absolutely huge game.
4) Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech- If Georgia Tech pulls off the upset against Auburn, Johnson will absolutely have one of the best games of his career. He is the best wide receiver in the country, only a sophomore, and will be leading the Yellow Jackets in big plays. Big plays in this game may simply be catching passes for first downs. Johnson may be this years Larry Fitzgerald, meaning he could be another wide receiver in the running for the Heisman.
5) Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson- In Whitehurst's final season as the Tigers quarterback, he needs to produce. Against Texas A&M, that may not be easy. The last time we saw the Aggies defense, they were letting Rick Clausen rip them apart in the Cotton Bowl. Whitehurst will be at home, playing in primetime on national TV, in a highly publicized game. Don't be shocked if Whitehurst throws for 300 yards and leads the Tigers to a slight upset of Texas A&M.

Team of the Week- USC Trojans- It seems almost like cheating to say this. I mean, the Trojans are going against the awful Hawaii Warriors defense and the retooling Warriors offense. They should dominate in all facets of the game. Of course they will look like the team of the week. This spot is also reserved for teams that pull upsets or win in dominant fashion against good teams or just are so dominant it is impossible to ignore. Really, this spot goes to the team that earned the most respect in my book during the previous week's game. It's hard to predict who that will be, but putting USC here seems like a safe bet. On Monday when I announce my team of the week, it could be different.

One Liners
Incredibly basic previews of tonights games.

Indiana at Central Michigan (7:30 PM ESPNU)- Hoosiers have a shot at an unbeaten non-conference schedule. First they must get by the team with the most memorable nickname in Division 1-A- the Chippewas!

Utah at Arizona (8:00 PM ESPN)- Two stout defenses in game where both teams are looking to prove a lot. What a great Mountain West-Pac Ten showdown!

Thursday in Review
Very quick recaps on Thursdays games.

South Carolina 24, UCF 15- The Gamecocks didn't look good, particularly on either line. The offensive and defensive line will get pushed around by good SEC teams, and maybe even Kentucky and Vanderbilt. UCF may just be a contender in C-USA. The early momentum is all that won this game, which is what I said would happen, but I am still surprised by the closeness.

Cincinnati 28, Eastern Michigan 26- Dan Grutza showed that he may be a star in the making for the Bearcats at QB. It's not good to play such a close game against a middle of the pack MAC team, but the Bearcats got the win and that may be enough.

Northwestern State 27, Louisiana-Monroe 23- Hey, Indians! Want to be taken seriously as a Division 1-A team? Don't blow 23-0 leads to Division 1-AA teams! I don't care if they are your rival and a Top Ten Division 1-AA team. Just don't do it!

Oregon 38, Houston 24- The Cougars are a threat to win C-USA with a very explosive offense when things are going well. Pay no attention to how the Ducks looked in the first quarter. Oregon will play far better at home in the big games (in other words, against USC).

Vanderbilt 24, Wake Forest 20- The fourth best team in the SEC East may have been playing last night, and it wasn't South Carolina. It was Vanderbilt! They did two big things- won on the road, and won a close game. Yes, this may be the year they finally make it to a bowl game. Micah Andrews and Chris Barclay running the ball for Wake Forest will be an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses.

Connecticut 38, Buffalo 0- And another Bulls season begins! Connecticut looked like the dropoff from last year may not be as bas as first anticipated.

Marshall 36, William & Mary 24- Beating both William and Mary is always a difficult thing to do. Still this was not how the Thundering Herd wanted to start their season. Ahmad Bradshaw and Bernard Morris showed that they are going to be a solid tandem for the Herd offense to go with.

Toledo 62, Western Illinois 14- Yes, the Rockets are still that good. Yes, they are a team to be reckoned with in the MAC. Yes, Bruce Gradkowski is a great quarterback. Did we really learn anything from this game?

Washington State 38, Idaho 26- The Vandals have to feel pleased. They fought back from down 14-0 less than two minutes into the game to within 24-19. Of course, the Cougars showed that they have big play ability coming out of their ears. This team could strike at any moment.

Arizona State 63, Temple 16- Expect to see a lot more scores like this for Temple this year. Their brutal schedule just is not nice. Sam Keller looked great, but did throw two interceptions. Can't do that against LSU or USC, two of the next four opponents for the Sun Devils.

Minnesota 41, Tulsa 10- It's Lawrence Maroney's team now in Minnesota. Cupito didn't have the monster game I expected him to have. Tulsa hung around a little bit, and the Gophers defense played well. Four more games until the Michigan game, which is the defining point of every Minnesota season these days.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Week One: Thursday

First and foremost, please keep all the victims of Hurrican Katrina in your thoughts. It is truly a tragedy what has taken place in the southeastern portion of our country. I ask you to please make a contribution of some sort to a charity of your choice to help support all the Hurricane relief.

Now, onto football!

Viewer's Guide

Which games should you watch this weekend? What games should you be keeping your eyes on during each time period? We've got it all worked out for you.

The day is divided into five parts. Some are more unequal than others due to the start time of the games.

All times are Eastern. The time periods are early games (start time before 2:00), afternoon (start time from 2:15-5:00), late afternoon (start time from 5:15-7:15), evening (start time from 7:30-10:00), and late night (start time after 10:15). The games are ranked by time period and give you a couple of reasons to watch each game, whether it is questions that need to be answered or something else altogether. The games are the games listed on CollegeFootballNews.com as the television games for this weekend. Only Saturday games are included.

Let's begin!

Early Games

1. UAB at Tennessee (12:30 JP/Gameplan)- 1) Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen battle it out for the starting QB job for the Vols. 2) Look and see just how good Darrell Hackney is as the Blazers QB. 3) Can the Vols secondary slow anybody down this year?

2. Miami (OH) at Ohio State (12:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) We've all heard all about him. Just how good is Ted Ginn Jr. going to be? 2) How good is Miami's defense going to be? 3) Can the MAC team pull off one of those patented MAC over Big Ten upsets this year?

3. Bowling Green at Wisconsin (12:00 ESPN)- 1) Yes, Omar Jacobs (Bowling Green QB) is that good. 2) How will the Badgers send Barry Alvarez out this season? 3) Who is going to play defense for the Badgers?

4. TCU at Oklahoma (12:00, ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Let the Paul Thompson era begin for the Sooners! 2) Does Adrian Peterson go through a sophomore slump? 3) Can Tye Gunn (TCU's QB) finally stay healthy? If he does, just how good can he be?

5. Rutgers at Illinois (12:00 ESPN2)- 1) Ron Zook- landing on his feet at another BCS school. 2) This could just be the year that Rutgers finally goes back to a bowl game. 3) Ryan Hart, Brian Leonard, and Tres Moses is one of the most underrated compilation of skill position players in the country for the Scarlet Knights.

6. Ball State at Iowa (12:oo ESPN Regional)- 1) How does Iowa respond to being ranked in the preseason Top Ten this year? 2) Will the Hawkeyes find a running game this year? 3) Can Ball State's defense, with nine starters back, improve from last year?

7. Kent State at Michigan State (12:00 ESPN Regional)- 1) Drew Stanton (Michigan State's QB) is a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate this year. 2) Is there life after Josh Cribbs for the Flashes? 3) Kent is on a four game winning streak. Could they be the MAC team that schocks a Big Ten team this year?

8. Ohio at Northwestern (12:00 ESPNU)- 1) Northwestern always seems to find a way to get into bowl contention. 2) Will the Frank Solich era in Ohio kick off any better than it ended at Nebraska? 3) Who will replace Noah Herron for the Wildcats?

9. Duke at East Carolina (1:00 CSTV)- 1) Some team will come up with a win! 2) East Carolina will be getting a fresh start under Skip Holtz. 3) Cedric Dargan is a better than advertised running back for the Blue Devils.

Afternoon

1. Colorado State at Colorado (3:30 TBS)- 1) Who doesn't want to see this opening weekend rivalry game that always seesm to be an instant classic? 2) Can Joel Klatt improve in his second year as the Buffaloes quarterback? 3) How good will Justin Holland (Colorado State's QB) be as he comes back from a broken ankle?

2. Boston College at BYU (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) The Eagles are considered by many to be a darkhorse to win the ACC. 2) Todd Watkins (BYU) may just be the best receiver in the country. 3) Mathias Kiwanuka is just that much fun to watch play defensive end for the Eagles.

3. Northern Illinois at Michigan (3:30 ABC/Gameplan- 1) Chad Henne and Mike Hart are both sophomores now. Any sophomore slumps in store for the Wolverines starting backfield? 2) Garrett Wolfe and A.J. Harris may be the best one-two running back punch this side of USC coming out of the Huskies backfield. 3) Now, this really could be the MAC's annual upset over the Big Ten...

4. USF at Penn State (3:30 ESPNU/Gameplan)- 1) This may be JoePa's last serious run at Penn State. (Haven't we been saying this for years?) 2) Andre Hall is an underrated running back for the Bulls. 3) How much of an impact can recruit Derrick Williams have on the Penn State offense?

5. Air Force at Washington in Seattle (3:30 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Tyrone Willingham is back where he belongs- in the Pac Ten! 2) Sophomore Falcons QB Shaun Carney should be even better in his second season. 3) Isaiah Stanback is the Huskies starting QB. Nobody can thrill you like he can, but no one can disapppoint you like he can either. He's bound to make any game a little interesting.

Late Afternoon

1. Boise State at Georgia (5:30 ESPN)- 1) Can the mid-major/non-BCS team shock the socks off a ranked SEC team on the road? 2) D.J. Shockley's time is now as the Georgia QB. 3) Who will step up and take David Pollack's place as the leader on the Bulldogs defense?

2. Wyoming at Florida (6:00 Gameplan)- 1) Urban Meyer will be coaching his first game in the SEC against a common old foe from the Mountain West. 2) How will Chris Leak (Florida's QB) perform in Meyer's new offense? 3) Can Corey Bramlett (Wyoming's QB) possibly lead a stunning upset in The Swamp?

3. USC at Hawaii (7:00 ESPN2)- 1) How will Jerry Glanville's new defense peform against the mighty Trojans? 2) Leinart and Bush begin their run at trying to beat the other one out for the Heisman Trophy. 3) Is it the system, or was it Timmy Chang (Hawaii's former record breaking quarterback)? Discuss.

4. Maryland vs. Navy (6:00 CSTV)- 1) One year hiatus for the Terps, or was last year the beginning of the end for Friedgen? 2) Navy begins its run for a third straight bowl game. Nothing would be sweeter than getting to one this year. 3) Fair warning- D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland linebacker). Enjoy!

5. Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas (7:00 FSN)- 1) Vince Young (Texas' QB) has improved his passing game- fact or fiction? 2) The tryouts begin for the next Cedric Benson. 3) Jerry Babb (UL-L's QB) may be almost as athletic as Young.

Evening

1. Georgia Tech at Auburn (8:45 ESPN)- 1) These defenses may be two of the top ten in America. 2) Brandon Cox (Auburn's QB) begins to try to fill the shoes left by Jason Campbell. 3) Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech's WR) is a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate and may be the best WR in the country.

2. Texas A&M at Clemson (8:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Charlie Whitehurst vs. Reggie McNeal. Two darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidates duke it out at quarterback. 2) When does Clemson not playing entertaining games in primetime? 3) Expectations are through the roof at Texas A&M, much like they were at Clemson a year ago. The Tigers responded with a very disappointing 6-5 season a year ago. How will the Aggies respond?

3. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (8:00 ABC/Gameplan)- 1) Hey, if ESPN GameDay is there, it must be worth watching! 2) Charlie Weis vs. Dave Wannstedt. Two new head coaches (but familar foes from their NFL days) in their first games. This could be a lot of fun. 3) If Brady Quinn(Notre Dame's QB) is ever going to develop into a star, this had better be the year for it.

Late Night

1. UCLA at San Diego State (10:15 ESPN2)- 1) There is a hint of optimism around Los Angeles this year about these Bruins. 2) Which Olson do you want to see start for UCLA- Ben or Drew? Drew's got the start, but you should expect to see Ben at some point. 3) Tom Craft (San Diego State's head coach) is firmly on the hot seat. He might want to go ahead and get off of it for a week by beating the Bruins.

2. UTEP at New Mexico State (10:30 ESPNU)- 1) Carson's younger brother, Jordan Palmer, is UTEP's QB and he continues to try to climb out of his brother's shadow. 2) Hal Mumme is New Mexico State's new head coach. That means that we should expect some fireworks offensively! 3) UTEP has got a very nice schedule and a very nice team. They could easily be this year's Utah.

It's the first gameday of the college football season! KICKOFF IS COMING!! YES!

For a complete summary of today's games and my predictions, please see CollegeFootballNews.com and look under Thursday Night Throwdown.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Week One: Wednesday

UNDER PRESSURE
Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech

The kid has never started a game, but he already has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Vick is expected to lead Virginia Tech to at least an ACC title this year. Marcus also has to deal with the expectations that Michael (his brother) set. They both play quarterback...at Virginia Tech...during great stretches of Hokie football. It will not be easy. Vick the Younger opens against North Carolina State, the nation's #1 defense from a year ago. How will Vick deal with this? After all, he is just a year removed from dealing with all sorts of issues off the field. He appears to be more mentally prepared for the challenges that this year presents. He is already being touted as a Heisman darkhorse by all sorts of analysts (including this one). How he deals with it will be the key to the Hokies season.

NEWS & NOTES

LSU's game against North Texas has been postponed. It will not be played on Saturday night due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It will be rescheduled for a later date sometime today, more than likely. Let's hope that the LSU players and community can help get New Orleans back on their feet like they attend to.

Tulane and Southern Miss have also postponed their game, which was supposed to be nationally televised on Sunday afternoon. It now appears that the game will be made up on November 26. This could make the game even bigger, as it could be a Conference USA Championship Preview by that point, or at least have ramifications on the title chase.

In a surprising twist, Joe Ayoob was beaten out for his quarterback job at California by Nate Longshore. Few people saw this one coming. Longshore is a redshirt freshman, while Ayoob is a junior college transfer. It is still popularly believed that Ayoob could go the rout of Aaron Rodgers and wind up stealing the job away (the year after transferring in from junior college) by midseason. This seems like a stretch to me, because it is going to be tough to wrestle away the job from Longshore until the team loses. With the Bears schedule this year, they may not lose a whole lot.


QUOTABLES

Pete Carroll, USC- "The national championships aren't in our control. What we can control, we work toward."

Sean O'Keefe, LSU's Chancellor- "The scope of this tragedy is becoming more evident as time passes, and LSU's focus is on assisting in the recovery effort of our state."

Mack Brown, Texas (on Texas 52-10 win)- "We know we have a tough opponent in UL Lafayette. The last time we played, they got an interception, kicked a field goal and got us down 10-0 before we made a great comeback."

Dan McCarney, Iowa State- "Like everybody else, we're still undefeated, and this is an exciting and anxious time of year. "

Jim Grobe, Wake Forest- "I tell a lot of people that last year we had a better team than some of the teams that played in bowl games; we just played in a great league, and I think Vanderbilt is the same way. They had five games go right to the wire last year, and we had seven go down to the wire. We're just playing in great conferences. "

THE WEEKLY RANT

This section will be used each week for the fan to respond. If you are frustrated about something, let me know. Don't like something I said? Don't like something someone else said? You get to rant here. So e-mail me your rant, I'll read through them and pick out one that goes into this spot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Week One: Tuesday

UNDER PRESSURE
Jerry Glanville, Hawaii

Glanville was hired to revamp one of the worst defenses in all of Division 1-A this offseason. He came to Hawaii looking to turn things around.

Uh, Jerry? Didn't you check the schedule before you took this job?

The Warriors square off with the mighty USC Trojans on national television this weekend. With Matt Leinart at quarterback, LenDale White running the ball, Dwayne Jarrett catching the ball, and Reggie Bush doing a little bit of everything, this offense is absolutely explosive.

It is easy to believe that eventually Glanville will get the Warriors defense playing better. It is also easy to see the Trojans hang 50 points on the Warriors in the first half. This is not what the home team had in mind when they hired Glanville.

With the offense already in shambles because of graduation, it is up to the defense to keep Hawaii in the game this weekend. For a team that finished (out of 117 teams) 112 in the country in scoring defense (38.4 points per game), 117 in rushing defense (252.6 yards per game) and 116 in total defense (487.8 yards per game), this is not a good sign. If Hawaii holds USC's offense down at all, we might need to crown Glanville a genius.

ESPN College GameDay site:
Pittsburgh, PA

Amazingly, with all the other options, the GameDay crew chose to go to the Notre Dame at Pittsburgh this week. This will give them a chance to see two new coaches- Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) and Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh).

This give ESPN a chance to go all out on their coverage of the Irish. They do not get just a ton of opportunities to do that, but they take every one they get. Both teams are in desperate need of getting off to a good start and putting their former coaching staffs behind them. It is definitely one of the more competitive games of the first week. If the Irish want to get to a bowl game, they better start winning now. With Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, USC, and Tennessee still ahead on the schedule, not to mention a road date with Washington against former head coach Ty Willingham, this team may be much improved and not have a lot of wins to show for it.

HEISMAN UPDATE

Of course, there is no update on the Heisman Trophy today. After all, no games have been played yet. Matt Leinart is still the favorite, while Reggie Bush is considered another popular choice. Both have a chance to put on a show this weekend against Hawaii.

RANKINGS THOUGHTS

When the Harris Poll and the BCS Poll start coming out, this space will be reserved for that, more than likely. In the mean time, we'll have to satisfy ourselves by talking about the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll.

First of all, the AP Poll. What does this matter anymore? Is this any better than any other poll? Should this count anymore than the ESPN.com poll, a fan poll, the CollegeFootballNews.com poll? Of course not. There is nothing to it anymore. It isn't part of the BCS formula, therefore it shouldn't even be mentioned when people talk about polls. But it still is. It will take a few years for this poll to truly work its way out of our system, but eventually it will. For this year, we'll still talk about it.

It's hard for me to believe that there are only a few stray votes that aren't voting for USC in the AP Poll. Texas gets four first place votes and Louisville one. The other sixty go to USC. No one voting for Tennessee, or Ohio State, or Michigan, or LSU, or an ACC school. Amazing, given that I watched the ESPN Preview show and two out of four people picked Ohio State to win the national title! The other incredible thing that I thought I would never see- Notre Dame only received one vote in a preseason poll. One lousy point. The same as Colorado State, Southern Miss, Wyoming and West Virginia. Fewer than Memphis, UTEP and Iowa State. I'm not saying that their low ranking is not deserved. I just never thought Notre Dame would get to the point where people would seriously be saying Memphis, UTEP, Colorado State, Iowa State, Wyoming and Notre Dame all in the same breath.

The Coaches Poll has just as little creativity. Only two out of sixty-two voters didn't vote for USC and they went with Texas. Again, Notre Dame has just 13 points in this poll, but they are ahead of Memphis, Colorado State, West Virginia, Iowa State, and Wyoming. How did Arizona get eight points, ahead of teams like Michigan State and Iowa State and tied with Northern Illinois, and how did Washington get four points ahead of Miami University? These were the two worst teams in the Pac Ten last year, and while I think both should be improved, I think it is a little extreme to think that either should be in the Top 25. Plus, will Steve Spurrier please quit voting Duke #25 every year? I'm sick of Duke getting one point in the poll. This is why the Coaches Poll is invalid.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Week One: Monday

Monday, Monday! Throughout the year, this will be a day to review the previous week's results and break down some of the action. This week, since there is no action...not so much.

I have already given you my Top 25 for the preseason, but I will give it again. You will not see my rankings again until September 25. These rankings are where I project the teams will end up. I will not use these rankings as my basis for anything come September 25. Between now and then, I will be working to take the names off the front of the jerseys and break down which teams are truly the best. Then I will rank them, 1-25. Odds are, these rankings will be drastically different the next time you see them.

1. USC
2. LSU
3. Virginia Tech
4. Miami, FL
5. Michigan
6. Oklahoma
7. Iowa
8. Tennessee
9. Ohio State
10. Texas
11. Florida
12. Louisville
13. UCLA
14. Boston College
15. Georgia
16. Arizona State
17. Florida State
18. Texas A&M
19. Georgia Tech
20. UTEP
21. Texas Tech
22. Alabama
23. Boise State
24. Penn State
25. Iowa State

The Top Story:
USC Goes For Three!

The Trojans have been the top story of the offseason as they are on a quest to achieve what no team has ever achieved- three straight AP national titles.

There have been many great teams over the years, but none have obtained the hype that this USC has gotten since January. Everyone is in love with the Trojans. Every media outlet in the world is picking USC. It is some combination of being in Los Angeles, a dominant Orange Bowl performance, and returning so many starters. This team has reached record proportions on the hype-o-meter.

Many of you know that I have not been on the USC bandwagon all along. Two years ago, I thought LSU should have been crowned national champs. Last year, I thought Auburn and Oklahoma should have been playing for the national title. After the Orange Bowl, I changed my #1 team from Auburn to USC. That was just too dominant of a performance. Now, how can you pick against the Trojans?

Does that mean that I would be surprised if they wind up #2 or lower? No, not especially. In fact, I think they will lose a game along the way. I just think that losing one game somewhere along the way does not mean that they will automatically be disqualified from the national championship race. Remember, in 2003 they lost to California and still finished #1 in the AP Poll. I think this team has enough national press and enough high praise from all corners to sustain a loss (as long as it is not a blowout) and still stick right in the national championship race.

All in all, I think this season could be one of the more exciting seasons as we watch USC try to get that third national title. They are a team that could do it, and more importantly, a team that wants to do it. Things should be very interesting as we watch the Trojans take their aim at history.

One more note: My thoughts go out to everyone in the path of Hurricane Katerina. Football takes backseat to all of the worries down on the Gulf Coast. Let's take a moment of silence for the people in peril down there.