Michigan Gets Their Man; More College Football Thoughts

Harbaugh
Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh is the next head coach at Michigan but how long will he stay?

University of Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it very clear in the days following the firing of Brady Hoke; having a “Michigan man” was no longer a top priority.

There was always an exception to that rule and his name was Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday, Harbaugh became the 20th head football coach of the Wolverines. There is no one more “Michigan man” than Harbaugh who started at quarterback from 1984-1986 for the Bo Schembechler -led teams who were so successful.

I must admit I’m surprised Harbaugh spurned the National Football League and especially for less money than what he could have gotten from just about any of those teams. I think that two things played a major factor in his decision however.

Number one is that of the available NFL jobs, none had a quarterback that Harbaugh really wanted to work with and that’s vitally important for the old QB because as we know he can flat-out coach quarterbacks (see Andrew Luck). The Raiders and Jets both have young signal-callers but neither was enticing enough for Harbaugh.

The argument could be made that both Atlanta and Chicago have good, veteran quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler but each have their issues.

The second reason Harbaugh chose to leave the NFL is because I really feel he was tired of seeing what was happening to his alma mater an the call to come home and fix it was too great.

Michigan fans will once again pack the seats at Michigan Stadium to see the prodigal son return and he will make the program prominent once again but I caution them this; the desire to win a Super Bowl never leaves you as a player or coach if you’ve had a taste of it and Harbaugh has. I believe his stint in Ann Arbor will be five years or less because that desire will be too strong to avoid.

Stoops
The OU faithful are starting to wonder what's going on with Bob Stoops.

Bowl Game Bullets

-What on Earth has happened to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? They were a preseason top five team who ended up finishing with five losses following a humiliating 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. That score wasn’t indicative of how poorly Oklahoma played either. It was 40-0 after three quarters and Clemson pretty much emptied the bench in the final stanza. I have a feeling Stoops falls into that category of having been in the same place too long.

-I could be way off base here, but I think the Pac-12’s success in these early bowl games is a sign that Florida State better strap it up tomorrow when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After Stanford’s 45-21 drubbing of Maryland last night in the Foster Farms Bowl, the Pac-12 moved to 4-0 in bowl season making them the only unbeaten conference remaining. Let’s face it – the level of competition between the ACC and Pac-12 wasn’t really a discussion topic anyway was it?

-As if I needed any more proof for my personal war against instant replay reviews in football I give you the LSU-Notre Dame game. Mad Hatter Les Miles went for a fake field goal and replays clearly showed the ball breaking the plane of the goal line but officials concluded it was disputable because of where the knee was. Here’s the thing, if the knee was down the play is over based on where the ball is when the knee touches right? The ball was over the goal line. If you can’t get replay right that you shouldn’t use it.

-Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe people.

Some are Still in, While Some are Certainly Out as College Football Rolls On

Winston
Winston
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and his star QB once again escaped by beating the Irish.

I seem to recall a lot of people thinking out loud that the new college football playoff wouldn’t create the excitement that the Bowl Championship Series did. Regular season games wouldn’t mean as much and the usual suspects would continue to box-out the wannabes.

While the last part may end up holding true, the lack of excitement and less meaningful games couldn’t be further from the truth. Look no further than yesterday and last night for your examples.

In Tallahassee, Florida the defending national champions fought off the Fighting Irish with the help of a pass interference call to win 31-27. Despite another week of turmoil, Jameis Winston again saved the Seminoles despite his poor play at times. The Irish defensive line battered the Florida State offensive line in the first half but they made the proper adjustments and protected Winston better in the second half.

Kelly
Kelly's Irish were valiant in defeat but the pass interference call was legit and Kelly needs to admit it.

The Irish actually went ahead with :12 left but they were called for offensive pass interference on what was deemed a ‘pick-play.’ To be honest, it was the right call. The offensive player made no effort to even look as if he were going to be a receiver and instead blocked the defender allowing his teammate Corey Robinson to catch the game-winner. It really was the right call because it was so blatant.

Because Florida State is in the relatively week ACC and because Notre Dame is an independent, a loss by either was going to be tough to deal with in terms of the playoff. The Irish still have road trips to Navy, Arizona State and USC and should they win those plus their two remaining home games, they could still get in.

The Seminoles have a much easier path to stay unbeaten but do have road trips to Louisville and Miami. Right now I can only say this about both teams; Still in.

In Norman, Oklahoma yesterday the Sooners hosted conference rival Kansas State. Both teams had one loss and another loss for either would eliminate any chance for them to make the college football playoff. K-State’s loss this year was to Auburn and the Wildcats missed three field goals that would have given them the win.

How ironic was it that Oklahoma’s Mr. Automatic Michael Hunnicut missed a literal chip-shot that would have given the Sooners the lead? K-State ran the remaining three plus minutes off the clock to preserve the 31-30 win. Wildcats still in. Sooners out.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Crimson Tide hosted Texas A&M. The Aggies already had two losses but if they could run the table in the powerful SEC, a playoff shot would not have been impossible. Bama was still feeling the effects of their loss at Ole Miss and they played angry in demolishing the Aggies 59-0. Crimson Tide still in. Aggies out.

In Fort Worth, Texas yesterday the TCU Horned Frogs entertained the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both teams had just one loss each and if things could break just right could find themselves in the college football playoff. The winner would still be alive while the loser would have other things to think about.

After TCU’s 42-9 drubbing of the Cowboys, it might be OSU who is doing the thinking and smarting. The Frogs have date with Kansas State in two weeks and both teams should enter with their one loss each. Horned Frogs still in. Cowboys out.

Also staying alive with one-loss was Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska and Georgia.

Stay tuned for more craziness next week.

I Have a Feeling We Are in for Another Wild Saturday

Strong
Strong
Can Charlie Strong and the 'Horns knock off Oklahoma?

Texas (14.5) vs Oklahoma (O/U 47) – I have to say, I’m glad the Red River Rivalry has continued to stay at the original Cotton Bowl. I realize how easy it is to shift to Jerry World but I’m glad some traditions have stayed alive.

I expect the Longhorns to play hard but I also expect a very ticked off Sooners’ team to show up as well.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in four of Texas’ last six games when playing the Sooners… OU is 3-5-1 against the spread in their last nine games when playing the Longhorns… Texas is 2-5 straight up in their last seven games.

The Pick: Take the Sooners to cover and the OVER

Northwestern (+4) at Minnesota (O/U 43) – I’m sure all of you had this match-up pegged for the lead in the Big Ten West in the second week of October right? Well that’s what we’ve got. Both Nebraska and Wisconsin have already suffered conference losses.

The Gophers are riding the wave of winning the Little Brown Jug two weeks ago while the Wildcats have scored impressive wins over Wisconsin and Penn State.

Trends: The Wildcats are 4-3 straight up in their last six games Minnesota… The Gophers are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home against Northwestern… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Wildcats’ last six games against Minnesota.

The Pick: The Badgers gashed the Wildcats’ run defense last week and I expect the same thing from the Gophers. Take them to cover and I like the UNDER.

Patterson
A win at Baylor puts Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs in front of the Big 12 race.

TCU (+8) at Baylor (O/U 66.5) – If the Horned Frogs can pull of another upset they’ll be well on their way to a Big 12 title since they’ve already beaten the other favorite in Oklahoma. If the Bears win, they still have a November date in Norman.

Trends: The Horned Frogs are 4-2 straight up in their last six games against Baylor… The Bears are 14-1 straight up in their last 15 home games… The total has gone UNDER in six of TCU’s last eight games on the road.

The Pick: Expect lots of scoring and take TCU while taking the OVER as well.

Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State (O/U 64) – The Tigers are accustomed to these marquee match-ups while the Bulldogs are still getting used to them. Both teams still have Bama and Ole Miss on their respective schedules.

That means a win is vital tomorrow.

Trends: The Bulldogs are 2-11 straight up in their last 13 games against Auburn… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Tigers last five trips to Mississippi State… Mississippi State is 4-8 against the spread in their last 12 games against Auburn.

The Pick: Take the Bulldogs getting the points at home and the UNDER as well.

Oregon (-3) at UCLA (O/U 72) – This is an elimination game. Both have one loss now and a second automatically knocks them out of contention for the college football playoff. If UCLA follows Arizona State’s lead and runs the ball then they have a good shot at the win.

Trends: Oregon is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games… The Bruins are 1-4 ATS in their last five games when playing Oregon at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of the Ducks’ last five games at UCLA.

The Pick: I like the Bruins getting the points at home and I like the UNDER.

Ole Miss (+2) at Texas A&M (O/U 64) – I said earlier this week that this is the type of game that programs who aren’t sued to big wins usually lose. The Rebels beat Alabama but will there be a letdown?

Trends: Texas A&M is 6-0 lifetime against Ole Miss and 2-0 since they joined the SEC… The total has gone UNDER in five of Ole Miss’ last five games on the road… The Aggies are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home.

The Pick: I expect the Aggies to cover and take the OVER as Ole Miss suffers their first defeat.

College Football by the Numbers After a Crazy Saturday

Golson
Golson
Everett Golson has the Irish in position to rise in the polls after beating Stanford.

It all started on Thursday night when unranked but unbeaten Arizona traveled to Eugene and knocked off Oregon. If we only knew that was just the beginning of one of the craziest days in recent college football memory.

Top-ranked Florida State had no problem with Wake Forest early in the day on Saturday making us think that maybe this wouldn’t be such an usual day but then the chips started to fall. #7 Texas A&M went to 12th-ranked Mississippi State and lost 48-31 while Ole Miss scored the biggest win of the day in knocking off third-ranked Alabama 23-17.

So take a breath here because the day of craziness was far from over. Soon after Bama went down #4 Oklahoma lost 37-33 to TCU in Fort Worth. So if you’re keeping score at home, teams ranked second, third and fourth in the most recent Coaches Poll had lost. But the day wasn’t over yet.

UCLA, who had been wining by the skin of their teeth before blowing out Arizona State last week, was beaten at home by Utah 30-28. Fellow Pac-12 teams USC (#16) and Stanford (#14) both went down as well.

Dantonio
Mark Dantonio and his Spartans should run the table making things interesting for the playoff race.

#10 Michigan State survived Nebraska’s visit to East Lansing winning 27-22 after leading 17-0 at halftime. Big Ten West Division favorite and #17 Wisconsin was beaten in Evanston by Northwestern who now stands at 2-0 in the division.

Also going down in the top 25 last night was #18 BYU who was throttled at home by Utah State.

To put this all in perspective, the following ranks all lost this week; 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 16 ,17, 18, 19.

Obviously someone came out smelling like a rose this weekend and there are a few contenders for that title. Number five Auburn destroyed LSU 41-7 and will likely slide into the #2 spot in the polls. #11 Ole Miss and #12 Mississippi State will both rise into the top ten. Also benefiting from the action Saturday is #7 Baylor who beat Texas 28-7 and #9 Notre Dame who needed a last-second touchdown to beat Stanford in South Bend.

When the format for the college football playoff came out, it was pretty much a given that the SEC would more than likely secure two of the four spots simply because of their strength of schedule and number of teams that would rise especially in the West Division. The problem is that the East Division is not good and unless Georgia can run the table the East won’t put up much of a battle in the SEC title game.

The other problem for the SEC West is that it’s highly unlikely anyone comes out unscathed. Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State were impressive yesterday but they both still have each other to play as well as other top teams in the West.

The SEC could benefit however from all of the losses in the Pac-12 and Oklahoma’s loss too. Now Baylor stands as the only unbeaten in the Big-12 and still has to play at Oklahoma.

The Big Ten’s only hope remains Michigan State. Their only loss is to Oregon but now that loss looks less impressive with the Ducks losing at home. Still, an impressive win over Ohio State along with going unbeaten the rest of the way could squeeze them in to the playoff.

The team that is the most interesting right now is Notre Dame who is unbeaten. The Irish shouldn’t have any trouble with North Carolina in South Bend next week but then has three straight road games at Florida State, Navy and Arizona State. I have a hard time seeing the Irish come out unscathed in that stretch. If they do, it’ll come to down to the finale with USC.

My College Football Playoff Predictions

Michigan State – I still think they’ll need some help but they should run the table.

Alabama – I think the Tide will beat Auburn for the West title and then will go on to win the SEC.

Florida State – I omitted them last week because I thought they might slip up at some point but now I just don’t see it happening.

Notre Dame – Even with one loss, their strength of schedule will be better then many other one-loss teams.

‘Big Boy Business’ is Exactly What College Football is

Weis
Weis
Charlie Weis won just six games at Kansas and was sent packing this past weekend.

Saturday saw the end of one rather rotund head coach in college football while the seat underneath another one got about as hot as it can possibly get. While those things are happening there are also some pretty intriguing things on the horizon as college football enters October.

Kansas Cans Weis

The Kansas Jayhawks fired Head Football Coach Charlie Weis following their shutout loss to Texas. Weis went just 6-22 and also won just one Big 12 Conference game during his time in Lawrence. Weis took over after a disastrous stint from Turner Gill but he quickly put his stamp on the program by booting 29 players and Weis has since stated he regrets that decision.

My guess is that there is still a future in football for Weis but I have to believe it will just be as a coordinator perhaps at the NFL level.

No Rest for Hoke

Michigan’s Brady Hoke said after his Wolverines lost 30-14 at home to Minnesota that this is a “Big Boy Business” and he’s absolutely right. Hopefully he remembers this when he is sent packing. It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ but when Hoke is relieved of his duties. His team was physically dominated on both sides of the ball by a Minnesota team that had beaten Michigan just once in the last ten years.

Hoke’s problems initially began and ended with his quarterbacks but now it’s evident there are even more problems as his defense was run over and his offense is as listless as a sailboat without wind. At Michigan however, it’s one thing to struggle on the field but when you can’t put butts in the seats at Michigan Stadium then things really get serious. Right now “serious” is an understatement.

Spurrier
The ol' ball coach is already sitting at 2-2 in the SEC East.

Picks Gone Wrong

At the beginning of the season I said South Carolina would win the SEC East and for all I know they still could but that choice is looking more and more doubtful after they saw Missouri come back and beat them on Saturday night in Columbia. The Gamecocks are now 3-2 on the season and 2-2 in the SEC. They are the only SEC team to have played four conference games.

They’ve defeated Vanderbilt and Georgia but have lost two conference games at home to the Tigers and Texas A&M in the opener. South Carolina still has time but they’ll need help to win the East.

Another team I had winning their division was Virginia Tech and like South Carolina, they still have a great shot at achieving their goals but things need to get better. I thought for sure when the Hokies went into Columbus and upset Ohio State that this Frank Beamer-led team was on its’ way but they stumbled against a good East Carolina team and then lost their only conference game to this point against Georgia Tech.

The Hokies will only be as good as QB Michael Brewer is I believe and that’s a lot of pressure on the young man but there’s still plenty of time.

My Weekly Final Four Predictions:

Now that we are into October, I’ll give you my selections for the four teams that qualify for the College Football Playoff.

Michigan State – The only road block is when the Buckeyes visit East Lansing.

Oklahoma – Baylor visits November 8th.

Alabama – They still face tough challenges from A&M, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Oregon – They haven’t looked as dominant as other Ducks’ teams but who will beat them?

Six Games I Like on Today’s College Football Schedule

Cato
Cato
Marshall's Rakeem Cato leads the Herd into Akron where the upset alert is flashing.

Marshall (-9) at Akron (O/U 59.5) – These two have not played since 2004 when they were both members of the Mid-American Conference. The Zips are still in the MAC but Marshall is off to C-USA. A lot of experts love the upset here but I’m not buying it. Rakeem Cato will not let that happen.

Trends: Marshall is 9-1 straight up in its’ last ten games… The total has gone UNDER in 17 of Akron’s last 21 games… The total has gone OVER in five of Marshall’s last six games on the road… In seven career games, Marshall is 5-2 SU against the Zips.

The Pick: I like the Herd to cover and the OVER.

Central Michigan (+3.5) at Kansas (O/U 45) – Central Michigan is 2-1 with a convincing win at Purdue and a 40-3 loss to Syracuse so they are hard to read at the moment. KU is 1-1 with a win over an FBS school and a 41-3 loss at Duke.

Trends: The Chippewas are 5-1 straight up in their last six games… Kansas is 5-14 SU in their 19 games at home… The total has gone OVER in 14 of CMU’s last 20 road games… The Jayhawks are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games.

The Pick: I like what’s going on in Mt. Pleasant. Take the Chips and the point. I like the OVER too.

Hoke
The natives are getting restless in Ann Arbor and Brady Hoke knows it.

Utah (+3.5) at Michigan (O/U 56) – Brady Hoke cannot handle another loss let alone one in front of the home crowds which are getting smaller in Ann Arbor. The Utes are great on both lines and that isn’t good for the Wolverines.

Trends: Michigan is 21-2 straight up in their last 23 games at home… Utah is 2-9 SU in their last 11 games on the road… Utah and Michigan are 1-1 all-time against each other. The Utes have averaged 16 points in those two games while Michigan has averaged 16.5

The Pick: Take Utah and the points and I like the UNDER.

Mississippi State (+10) at LSU (O/U 50) – Les Miles has lost just three night games in Death Valley. He’s won over 60. I like what’s going on at MSU but they won’t beat the Tigers at home.

Trends: Mississippi has gone 5-0 straight up in their last five games… LSU is 5-0 SU in their last five home games against the Bulldogs… The total has gone OVER in four of MSU’s last five games at LSU… The total has gone UNDER in four of LSU’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take the Bulldogs and the points and give me the OVER.

Miami (+8) at Nebraska (O/U 56) – Two once amazing powerhouse programs are anything but today but they are trying. The Hurricanes have had off-field issues this week and while Nebraska barely squeaked past McNeese State, the ‘sea of red ‘ will be too much.

Trends: Miami is 1-5 against the spread in their last six games on the road… Nebraska is 15-3 straight up in their last 18 games at home… Miami is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games… The Huskers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games at home.

The Pick: Give the points and take the Huskers. I like the OVER as well.

Oklahoma (-8) at West Virginia (O/U 56) – This is another game where analysts like the upset because of how well WVU throws the ball. Not gonna happen and the Sooners need to look no further than their rivals as to why. Last year Oklahoma State got burned in Morgantown but this year? Not going to happen to the Sooners.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in five of Oklahoma’s last seven games… West Virginia is 8-15-1 against the spread in their last 24 games at home… OU is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in four of WVU’s last five games at home.

The Pick: I like the Mountaineers getting the points but OU wins and I love the OVER.

College Games I like Tomorrow

Beamer
Beamer
Frank Beamer and his Hokies host East Carolina tomorrow in Blacksburg.

East Carolina (+10) at Virginia Tech (O/U 54) – This could be a dangerous spot for the Hokies who come home following a huge upset win over Ohio State in Columbus. The Pirates gave South Carolina fits well into the final quarter before losing in Columbia.

Trends: East Carolina is 7-2 straight up in their last nine games… Virginia Tech is 2-4 against the spread in the last six games when playing East Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in four of ECU’s last six games when playing the Hokies… Virginia Tech is 18-7 straight up in its’ last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I like East Carolina getting the points but I’ll take the Hokies to win and take the under as well.

Gurley
Todd Gurley leads Georgia into South Carolina tomorrow.

Georgia (-7) at South Carolina (O/U 60) – The Gamecocks are 1-1 but were embarrassed at home by Texas A&M and then hung on to beat East Carolina last week. The Bulldogs were impressive in beating Clemson in the opener and now head to Columbia for their first SEC game. Having already lost to the Aggies, South Carolina cannot afford another loss in conference play.

The Dawgs will ride with Todd Gurley who I expect to have another big game.

Trends: Georgia is 1-4-2 against the spread in their last seven games at South Carolina… The Gamecocks are 22-1 straight up in their last 23 home games… The Bulldogs are 4-2 SU in their last six games at South Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in five of USC’s last five games when playing at home against Georgia.

The Pick: I like Georgia to cover and I like the OVER.

Purdue (+27.5) vs Notre Dame (O/U 56.5) – This game is being played in Indianapolis. Let’s be real quick here shall we? Purdue just lost at home to Central Michigan. Notre Dame just shut out Michigan.

Trends: The Boilermakers are 0-5 straight up in their last five games against Notre Dame… The Irish are 4-1 SU in their last five games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Notre Dame’s last six games… Purdue is 1-11 SU in their last 12 games.

The Pick: Take the Irish to cover but take the UNDER.

Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma (O/U 56.5) – This is a big opportunity for Butch Jones and the Vols but I also think they are going into a buzzsaw in Norman. Sooners’ QB Trevor Knight is playing well and OU just doesn’t lose at home under Bob Stoops.

Trends: Tennessee is 2-4 against the spread in their last six road games… The Sooners are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The Vols are 1-8 straight up in their last nine road games… The total has gone OVER in four of Oklahoma’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take OU to cover and I love the OVER.

UCLA (-7.5) vs Texas (O/U 50.5) – This game is being played in Arlington. I’m not sure we’ve seen the real UCLA just yet and this would be a horrible week for them to show up if you’re Texas. The Longhorns were throttled at home by BYU last week and I don’t think it will get much better.

Trends: The Bruins are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games… Texas is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games… The total has gone OVER in four of UCLA’s last six games… The total has gone UNDER in five of the Longhorns’ last six games.

The Pick: Take the Bruins to cover and I like the UNDER.

Penn State (-3) at Rutgers (O/U 51.5) – This is Rutgers first-ever game in the Big Ten and they open with the Nittany Lions who are now eligible for a bowl after the NCAA lifted the postseason ban this week. I really like Christian Hackenberg at QB for PSU.

Trends: Penn State is 4-1 straight up in its’ last five games… Rutgers is 1-4 against the spread in in its last five games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of PSU’s last five games on the road… The Scarlet Knights are 16-5 straight up in their last 21 home games.

The Pick: Take Penn State to cover and I like the OVER.

Five Fearless Predictions for College Football 2014

Meyer
Meyer
Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes will survive the loss of Braxton Miller and still win ten games.

There are any number of adjectives I could use to describe my predictions for college football 2014 but ‘fearless’ just seems right. After all, they are fearless. I mean, it isn’t like I should ‘fear’ any repercussions should my predictions prove untrue right?

Enough lip service. Here are some predictions sure to come true for college football this year.

1. Ohio State still wins 10 games despite the loss of Braxton Miller. Have you seen the Buckeyes’ schedule? The two biggest road games are at Navy in the opener and at Michigan State in what most expect will be for the Big Ten East Division title. While the loss of Braxton to season-ending shoulder surgery is a tough pill to swallow, it’s not like Urban Meyer suddenly forget how to recruit and how to coach. Even with a redshirt freshman quarterback I expect Ohio State to still win ten games.

Knight
Trevor Knight was great in last year's Sugar Bowl but I have concerns this season.

2. Oklahoma doesn’t make the Final Four. Everyone is jumping on the Sooners’ bandwagon and it all has to do with Trevor Knight’s performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Let’s think about this for a second; Alabama was playing a meaningless game after their difficult and heart-breaking loss to Auburn. They went from the number one team in the land and potential SEC Champ to a Sugar Bowl bid. Oklahoma Tech could have beaten Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last year based on this theory. Knight is a nice QB but I expect some less than good games along the way. Don’t be surprised to see the Sooners lose one or two they probably shouldn’t. One loss is enough to cost them a Final Four bid.

3. Florida State drops an unexpected game. By all accounts, the Seminoles could be better than they were last year but that doesn’t mean they are infallible. If you had to point to a game where the opponent could give them trouble, you’d say Oklahoma State, Clemson, Miami and Florida. I have a feeling they are going to stunned by an unexpected foe however. Don’t rule out a road loss to NC State or Louisville. Both environments will be rocking.

4. Michigan’s Brady Hoke will lose to both Michigan State and Ohio State. Again. I like Brady Hoke and I think  a lot of the Michigan faithful does as well but I think there’s one major problem with him and that’s that I don’t know how good of a coach he really is. Look at the losses in his time in Ann Arbor and you’ll notice multiple losses to Urban Meyer, Kirk Ferentz, Bo Pelini and Mark Dantonio. There’s no shame in losing multiple games to those coaches but at some point you have to start questioning whether he can get it done with his great recruiting classes. This year won’t be any better as the Wolverines have to go to both Columbus and East Lansing.

5. South Carolina wins the SEC. Yup. That’s what I said. South Carolina wins the SEC. The first clue was the fact that Head Coach Steve Spurrier has been flapping his trademark gums more than usual of late. Dating back to his days coaching the Florida Gators, that’s a sure sign that he likes his team. Secondly, the Gamecocks avoid both LSU and Alabama on the schedule. Their only two tough road games are at Auburn and at Florida. Normally I’d add Clemson to that list but Spurrier has owned the in-state Tigers. I like USC to win the SEC Title game over Alabama.

Big 12 Conference Odds for 2014

Stoops

 

Stoops
Bob Stoops and his Sooners have their sights set on a Big 12 Title.

The Big 12 odds are right here so I’m not waiting any long, let’s go.

Oklahoma 2/3 – The Sooners return nine starters on defense and will look to build on a strong finish in 2013 that featured a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The road schedule is light with only Texas in the Cotton Bowl being the toughest trip. They get a revenge game against Baylor at home along with rival Oklahoma State in the finale.

Baylor 11/4 – QB Bryce Petty is back after a year in which he threw 32 TD passes and just three interceptions. The defending Big 12 Champs have just four starters back from a defense that struggle at times last year. The road to defending their title will be tough. They play at Oklahoma and at Texas, but they have a very weak non-conference schedule and get TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State at home.

Strong
Can Charlie Strong revive the Longhorns despite doubts within the fan base?

Texas 15/2 – The Charlie Strong Era begins in Austin and the pressure will be huge for an immediate turn-around. The Longhorns lost only 16 lettermen and return seven starters on offense and eight on defense. The first six games feature BYU, UCLA in Arlington, Baylor and then Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Three of their last five games are on the road as well.

Kansas State 10/1 – Bill Snyder enters his 23rd season in Manhattan with a team that returns 11 starters (6/O and 5/D). Road games are not easy with trips to both Oklahoma and Baylor but the home schedule isn’t easy either with Auburn, Texas and Oklahoma State coming in.

Oklahoma State 10/1 – With just eight starters (4/O and 4/D) back, the Cowboys could take a step back in 2014. They open with defending National Champion Florida State in Arlington and then finish the season on the road at Baylor and at Oklahoma. That’s a tough challenge for a rebuilding team.

TCU 14/1 – The Horned Frogs had very uncharacteristic season in 2013 going just 4-8. The good news is that eight starters return on both offense and defense. They have to play at Baylor and at Texas but get Oklahoma and K-State at home. I expect at least a bowl appearance this season.

Texas Tech 20/1 – Kliff Kingsbury enters his second season in Lubbock following an 8-5 record in 2013. Don’t forget however, this team had been 7-0 before losing their last five regular season games against much stiffer competition. Nine starters return on offense but just four on D. They get Texas and Oklahoma at home and Baylor in Arlington in the finale. Road games include Kansas State and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks.

West Virginia 66/1 – Dana Holgerson is in year four at West Virginia and with a 21-17 record some would say he’s on the hot seat. It won’t be easy to change those thoughts with an opener in Atlanta against Alabama. They also play at Oklahoma State and Texas while entertaining Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State.

Iowa State 100/1 – This is likely Paul Rhodes’ final season in Ames if things don’t turn around a bit. He’s 27-36 which isn’t terrible for a coach at Iowa State, but it isn’t great either. The good news is that ISU has 10 starters back on offense and five on defense. The bad news is that road trips to Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma State await the Cyclones in their first seven games. A bowl game is possible but there is little room for error.

Kansas 100/1 – Charlie Weis is just 4-20 at Kansas and this is his make or break year. The good news for Weis is that he gets 17 starters back on offense and defense. The bad news is that his Jayhawks still have to travel to Duke, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

The Pick: The Sooners will ride their win over Alabama into the 2014 season and with stability at quarterback now I believe they’ll clip the Baylor Bears for the title. If you want a long shot, look at Texas Tech who has a favorable schedule with the big teams at home.

Who Makes the College Football Playoff? Here are Your Top Eight Favorites

CFB Trophy
CFB Trophy
This is the new championship trophy teams in college football are vying for in 2014.

After years of BCS nonsense we finally have gotten our wish. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start at the very least. The 2014 college football season will culminate in a four-team playoff and our friends at Bovada have the odds.

Will ______ make the four-team playoff?

Florida State Yes -250, No +170 – The defending champions have Jameis Winston back but also have lots of guys to replace. The schedule features Oklahoma State in the opener at Dallas, a home date with Notre Dame and a road trip to Miami.

Alabama Yes -130, No -110 – The Crimson Tide have to replace A.J. McCarron who started for what seems like forever. Road games include LSU, Tennessee and a neutral site game against West Virginia. The home slate features Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn.

Mariota
Could Mariota lead the Ducks to the college football playoff this year? I say yes.

Oregon Yes +120, No -160 – Could this finally be the Ducks’ year? They have two road games that concern me; at UCLA and the finale at Oregon State. They get Big Ten Champion Michigan State at home and the same goes for Stanford, Arizona and Washington. With Marcus Mariota returning at QB, the Ducks could be in prime position.

Ohio State Yes EVEN, No -140 – The Buckeyes will benefit by being in the Big Ten East where they get newcomers Maryland and Rutgers which should be wins. Home dates include Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Indiana and Michigan. The road slate could be a problem as they open with an always troublesome Navy in Baltimore. They also must got to Penn State and Michigan State as well.

Oklahoma Yes +170, No -250 – The Sooners enter 2014 with high expectations following their huge Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The schedule is favorable for a playoff spot with home games against Tennessee, Kansas State, defending Big 12 champ Baylor and rival Oklahoma State. The road slate features challenges in the Cotton Bowl against Texas, at Texas Tech and at TCU.

Auburn Yes +170, No -250 – The Tigers have a fairly favorable schedule with tough roads games only at Bama and Georgia. Auburn needs to replace studs like Greg Robinson, Tre Mason and Dee Ford.

LSU Yes +250, No -400 – The Bayou Bengals have what could be a brutal road schedule. They open with Wisconsin in Houston and then have road trips to Auburn, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida. They also have to replace Zach Mettenberger at quarterback too.

UCLA Yes +275, No -450 – Things are in place for a great run by the Bruins in 2014. They open at Virginia and their only other formidable road game is in Dallas against the Texas Longhorns. They get Oregon, Stanford, USC and Arizona at home. If this team stays healthy and survives some early road games then the sky is the limit.

When you look at this top eight, I think you throw LSU out immediately. Not because they are undeserving but because that schedule is just brutal especially for a team with a new quarterback regardless of his experience.

We have to expect that three of the four teams will probably enter with at least one loss. One or two unbeaten teams are possible. If that happens, it favors the SEC and Pac-12.

If I were you, I’d pencil in Oregon with their favorable schedule and Alabama because they’ll be able to survive one, maybe even two losses. Ohio State concerns me but they can survive a loss as long as it is to a ranked team who is having a good season. I’m still not overly confident in them though. FSU will make the playoff as long as Winston stays out of trouble.

From this list of eight, I will go with FSU, Bama, Oregon and Oklahoma with UCLA being a wild-card.