Sunday, August 31, 2008

How far will Penn State and Iowa rise in the Big Ten in '08?

Last year, the Ohio State Buckeyes were #1 in the Big Ten Conference. Nothing in the preseason or after the first weekend of OOC football for the Big Ten teams would change many minds on the Buckeyes, in relation to the rest of the Big Ten.

The Big Ten Network released it's new power ratings today, with the following comments...

"8/31: Penn State, Iowa on the move up"
Of course, the real question will come the last weekend in September, when ten of eleven Big Ten teams open the Big Ten campaign of the 2008 season. Here's how things look after the first weekend of play... my take on the Big Ten:
  1. Ohio State (1-0 overall) - agree, "head and shoulders above the rest"... will they make it 8-0 in '08, after 7-1 in '07? Business like win over Youngstown State in opener 43-0. Next up: Ohio U (0-1).
  2. Penn State (1-0) - the Nittany Lions were 4-4 last year and finished fifth. They should be better in '08, but I am not sure we can take enough away from the 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina to say they will end #2. The game with Oregon State (0-1, 0-1 Pac 10) should provide a better test and measurement for Joe Pa's team for '08.
  3. Wisconsin (1-0) - coach Bret Bielema opens his third season with a solid 38-17 win over Akron... but, can the running game of PJ Hill and company carry the Badgers throughout the meat of their schedule? Do they have a QB to lead the Badgers to another January 1 bowl game? Next up: vs. Marshall (1-0).
  4. Illinois (0-1) - coach Ron Zook lost some key leadership on both sides of the ball, including RB Rashard Mendenhall, LB J Leman and even PK Jason Reda... the 35-45 loss to Missouri in St. Louis still leaves questions regarding the Fighting Illini and QB Juice Williams? Next up: vs. Eastern Illinois (0-1).
  5. Iowa (1-0) - the Hawkeyes put away Maine 46-3 (about as expected... my pick was 45-6), but they have a lot of work ahead, if they are going to move up from the 4-4, fifth place finish in '07. My pick: 5-3 still remains. Next up: vs. Florida International U. (0-1).
  6. Michigan State (0-1) - I would put the Spartans ahead of the two clubs from the State of Indiana, until they meet one another on the field, since the Spartans were 2-0 last year. The loss at California 31-38 was a quality loss, but no one is here to give praise for moral victories. There will be up and downs in '08, for a team that finished 3-5 last year, tied for seventh. Next Up: vs. Eastern Michigan (1-0).
  7. Purdue (0-0) - idle week one and will open this weekend with FCS tune up: Northern Colorado, before playing Top 25 Oregon in two weeks. It will likely be an up and down year, as coach Joe Tiller finishes out his tenure at West Lafayette.
  8. Indiana (1-0) - coach Bill Lynch lead IU to their first bowl trip, since '93 last year. They picked up a nice win vs. Western Kentucky and this week's game vs. Murray State should be another one. QB Kellen Lewis is a very good athlete, but as they face tougher opponents... is there enough other playmakers?
  9. Northwestern (1-0) - the Wildcats pulled out the opening week win 30-10 over Syracuse. They have some good senior leadership and should compete for a bowl bid, after finishing 3-5 in the Big Ten last year and .500 overall. Next up: at Duke (1-0).
  10. Michigan (0-1) - welcome to the Big Ten and Ann Arbor coach Rich Rodriquez... the Utah Utes 25-23 win over the Wolverines is indication that the new gig has some work ahead. Next up: vs. Miami-OH (0-1).
  11. Minnesota (1-0) - the Golden Gophers lost the opener last year 31-32 in OT. The 31-27 win over Northern Illinois is a good thing. I doubt the Golden Gophers go win-less in the Big Ten again in '08. But, there is a lot of work ahead before coach Tim Brewster clearly is a lock for missing the cellar. Next up: at Bowling Green (1-0).

The Big Ten didn't perform well in Week 1. In the big match ups: Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State all crashed and burned. The Big Ten did win 7, but the 3 losses were key games. A win by one of those teams would have been a nice boost for the Big Ten. Thankfully, I guess one can say none of them were really upsets, but we don't want moral victories in the conference.


1/2 way point of weekend... Good, Bad and Ugly of College Football

The Good, Bad and Ugly is always in the eye of the beholder. Of course, when a non-BCS conference team beats a BCS conference team that is good, right? When a FCS program beats a FBS team... it's always enjoyable rooting for David, right? Of course, it's great seeing those power conference match ups.

Here are some notable finishes: The Good

Again, why play conference games before at least two OOC games? The Bad...

Now, the Ugly so far this week...

Blow Out of the Weekend: Arizona (ACC) pounds Idaho (WAC) 70-0 as the kickoff of coach Mike Stoops season on the hot seat was delayed due to weather. But, after the lightning delay, the Arizona Wildcats had fireworks of their own in one of the many mismatches of the day.

There are four more games this weekend for FBS teams. Two today and two on Labor Day.

- Today's Games -
2:30 PM ET

Kentucky (0-0, 0-0 away)
Louisville (0-0, 0-0 home)

7:30 PM ET
Colorado St (0-0, 0-0 away)
Colorado (0-0, 0-0 home)

- Monday, September 1, 2008 -
4:00 PM ET
Fresno St (0-0, 0-0 away)
Rutgers (0-0, 0-0 home)

8:00 PM ET
(18) Tennessee (0-0, 0-0 away)
UCLA (0-0, 0-0 home)

It's great to see the 2008 college football season kick off the season! Have a great Labor Day everyone! cidsports


Are these three team Top 25 college football teams?

Should these teams be out of the Top 25 after Week 1?

  1. Clemson (0-1, #11 in my preseason picks) - blasted by Alabama 10-34 - clearly Alabama looks like a Top 25 team, but is Clemson worthy?
  2. Virginia Tech (0-1, #12) - tough road game at East Carolina turned out to be the Hokies losing on a blocked punt for a touchdown... ECU beats VT 27-22!
  3. Illinois (0-1, #20) - yes, they lost to my #10 team, the Missouri Tigers 42-52, but can the Fighting Illini overcome the loss in leadership and RB Rashard Mendenhall from '07 to remain a Top 25 program in '08?

A side note, Bowling Green's win at Pittsburgh 27-17, which isn't a major upset. While Pitt was given some respect, by some previews, they clearly needed to earn it on the field in '08, after finishing 5-7 in '07. Next up for Pitt (0-1) is MAC underdog Buffalo (1-0).


Does Iowa have a quarterback controversy?

I see the quarterback position right now, junior Jake Christensen's to lose. I would not call Iowa's quarterback situation a controversy.

Christensen under threw a pass for an interception on Iowa's third drive vs. Maine, near the end zone. After Iowa's defense came up with a safety and a 16-0 lead, the Iowa coaching staff gave the keys to sophomore Ricky Stanzi for the rest of the first half. Of course it was planned vs. Maine as the following post game quote mentions.
“I’ll defuse that one,” coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That was part of our
plan. If it would’ve been a touchdown pass, we would’ve gone with our rotation.”
Don't think that during the 2008 season, if mistakes become an issue with Iowa's number one quarterback, that this season, the coaching staff won't make a change at QB. Competition can be a good thing and the Maine game highlighted that. We saw that with the placekicking position, as well. We'll see it at middle linebacker and likely at a secondary position along the way in '08.

Competition is healthy, especially when you are coming off a .500 season, like the Hawkeyes are entering 2008. The Iowa coaching staff doesn't want to see another season of playing down to the competition or worse (IE: Western Michigan game in '07).

The players likely know that, as Christensen alluded to during the post game interviews. For now, Christensen appears number one, there is no controversy and Iowa is 1-0, as opposed to .500 right now.


More College Football Today

The first weekend in college football is 1/2 complete. Today there are three more games on tap on TV:

  • Sunday, August 31st
  • Hampton vs. Jackson State
    1:00 p.m.
    ESPN2 (HD)
  • Kentucky at Louisville
    2:30 p.m.
    ESPN (HD)
  • Colorado vs. Colorado State (Denver)
    6:30 p.m.
    FSN (HD - Click for details)

Further, next weekend is the kickoff of NFL Football! Plenty of football will be coming our way in September. Let's enjoy the final day of August today!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Iowa welcomes in the 2008 College Football season with 46-3 win over Maine

Iowa's Shonn Greene returns to the Iowa Hawkeyes with a 109 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. Iowa scores 4 rushing touchdowns, with Greene, Paki O'Meara and two by true freshman Jewell Hampton.

Iowa played two quarterbacks equally, with starter Jake Christensen and his backup Ricky Stanzi. A good first game for both quarterbacks and one would think we will see more of both quarterbacks next Saturday, as the Iowa Hawkeyes host Florida International U.

Maine scored right as the half ended on a 40 yard field goal, fueled by several costly Iowa penalties. Iowa (1-0) lead Maine (0-1) 22-3 at halftime.

Highlights of the game:
  • Junior AJ Edds play at LB - including a tackle for a safety in the 2nd quarter
  • Sophomore Paki O'Meara showed a nice ability catching the football out of the backfield
  • 3rd string true frosh RB Jewell Hamption had a very nice 4th quarter, running for 68 yards on 9 carries
  • the kicking game looked solid with punter sophomore Ryan Donahue, true frosh PK Trent Mossbrucker and the kickoffs and placekicking of PK Daniel Murray
  • Sophomore Adrian Clayborn looked very solid as a starting DE
  • Senior Andy Brodell looked very solid as a punt returner, again... nice to see him back healthy and contributing

Iowa did what you would expect. A predicted 45-6 outcome before the game ended with a 46-3 final score. Iowa has a lot of clean up work to do. They have a lot of improvement to do in most areas of the game. But, it was nice to see a good crowd and some smiles again at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. They always say teams improve the most from Game 1 to Game 2. We will hopefully find out next Saturday, vs. FIU.

The coaching staff played a lot of true freshmen today, which should help with overall team depth. No true freshmen or redshirt freshmen started today, other than PK Mossbrucker, who played with sophomore Murray, spliting the place kicking duties. Murray handled kickoffs and did very well.


Hawkeyes open season with Coach Ferentz former team

Prediction: Iowa Hawkeyes 45, Maine Black Bears 6
Team Captains: C Rob Bruggeman, DT Mitch King, DT Matt Kroul, LB/ST Gavin McGrath
Live: Big Ten Network, 11 am kickoff

Iowa Hawkeyes will take the opportunity to work on all phases of the game, against someone other than another teammates. The Hawkeyes open the 2008 college football season hosting Maine today. Iowa's defense looks to be Iowa's strength, while the offense and special teams work to improve in '08, after a season of ups and downs, last year.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Cedar Rapids Washington Warriors @ Cedar Falls in the Dome tonight

It was a rough start for the Cedar Rapids Washington Warriors at Cedar Falls tonight. Long game tonight highlighted by turnovers, poor execution and penalties for both teams, plus a long sophomore game, which the Warriors won too.

But, the Warriors had enough defense and offense to surprise Cedar Falls in the Dome. Warriors WR/DB Keenan Davis had two very big interceptions, including a pick six to make the game 7-6 Warriors. A big catch after his second interception, lead to a Warrior rushing score, from the 6 yard line by QB Derek Giesking, and a 20-9 lead around the midway part of the second half.

After a quick stop by the Warriors defense, forcing a punt. The Warriors got the football right back. A nice drive by the Warriors was capped off by a 16 yard TD run by junior RB Andre Dawson at the 6:36 mark of the 4th quarter, to give Washington a 28-9 lead.
Warriors forced another out and punt, then it was Dawson grinding out the game with the ground game, on a 26 carry and 135 yard night, unofficially. The Warriors took a knee around the Cedar Falls ten to finish it off.

Final: Cedar Rapids Washington 28
Cedar Falls 9


Friday Night College Football Today

The first weekend of college football continues tonight with two games on tap...

Friday, August 29th
Temple at Army
6:00 p.m.

ESPN Classic / ESPN 360
SMU at Rice
7:00 p.m.
A chance to see some East Coast and Texas college football. Coach Al Gordon is an up and comer for Temple. SMU welcomes the debut of of coach June Jones, who departed Hawaii for SMU this past off season.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

ISU wins, while Baylor falls as Big 12 opens 2008 season tonight

My preseason #18 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0) win at Baylor (0-1) in convincing fashion 41-13, while Iowa State (1-0) beats South Dakota State (0-1) 44-17. So, the Big 12 opens at 1-1 on Day 1 of the 2008 college football season.


ISU Cyclones win opener 44-17 fueled by 20 points off turnovers

It was a great night for some newcomers and new starters, including the following:

  • Frosh WR Sedrick Johnson scores his first TD reception in his debut

  • Frosh PK Grant Mahoney hit 3 FGs and all his XPs in his debut

  • Sophomore QB Austen Arnaud looked good in his first start
The Iowa State Cyclones (1-0) will face Kent State (3-9 in '07) on September 6th at Jack Trice. Kent State travels to Boston College on Saturday to open their season. Kent State defeated ISU 23-14 in last year's opener for both teams.


Former Linn-Mar PK Grant Mahoney scores first FG for ISU

True freshman Grant Mahoney from Linn-Mar hits first FG in college to put Iowa State up 10-0 over South Dakota State in the first 12 minutes of the 1st quarter in Ames. Impressive first drive by ISU to take 7-0 lead, than 4 straight turnovers, 2 each on proceeding drives leading to Mahoney's first FG.


UConn scores first TD of 2008 College Football Season

Capitalizing on a fumbled punt, UConn recovered the fumble inside the Hofstra five yard line. The offense took care of business to score the first TD on the year, reported ESPN... 7-0 UConn!

In a game of note in the State of Iowa... Iowa State took the opening drive with a mix of strong running by sophomore RB Alexander Robinson, a nice pass to sophomore TE Collin Franklin from sophomore QB Austen Arnaud, and scoring on the ground for the first TD of '08.. 7-0 Cyclones!


Top College Football Games: August 30, 2008

In Ames, Iowa, the Iowa State Cyclones kickoff the 2008 season at home.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the first day in College Football for 2008:

Top Games:
  1. Vanderbilt at Miami-Ohio
  2. North Carolina State at South Carolina
  3. Wake Forest at Baylor
  4. UTEP at Buffalo

Ugly Game:

  1. Charleston Southern at Miami-Florida

Other Games of Interest:

  1. South Dakota State at Iowa State
  2. Hofstra at Connecticut
  3. Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech
  4. Eastern Kentucky at Cincinnati
  5. Eastern Illinois at Central Michigan
  6. Northeastern at Ball State
  7. Indiana State at Eastern Michigan


Big 12 vs. Missouri Valley Football Conference Showdown Tonight on TV

Kickoff of coach Gene Chizik's second season @ ISU
The Cyclones will benefit from the FBS vs. FCS game being a season opener, as opposed to playing a FCS team in game 2 or 3 (ie: like UNI last year L 13-24).

ISU will open with sophomore Austin Arnaud, Ames native, at QB in the opener. One would expect to see Omaha native, sophomore Phillip Bates, get some time at QB too. These Thursday season openers are becoming popular in Ames at Jack Trice. This should be a good game, but the Cyclones should win this year, vs. the FCS.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How will the BCS unfold for the 2008 College Football Season?

Six premier conferences...
  • Atlantic Coast Conference
  • Big East Conference
  • Big Ten Conference
  • Big 12 Conference
  • Pac Ten Conference
  • Southeastern Conference

The 2008 college football season begins tomorrow night. Will we see another non-BCS conference emerge, as we have seen the past two seasons, with the WAC? Will Notre Dame rebound from the poor 3-9 season last year and contend for a bowl? Will the SEC make it three straight in the BCS Title Game in '08? Will Ohio State get back to the BCS Title and finally overcome the back to back runner up role?

In the ACC, twelve teams seek the 2008 ACC Championship. Last year, it was Virginia Tech over Boston College, 30-16, but the Hokies lost the Orange Bowl vs. Kansas, 21-24. This year, Virginia Tech is the preseason consensus pick in the ACC Coastal, while Clemson Tigers are getting the most love in the preseason in the ACC Atlantic.

In the Big East, West Virginia, despite a new head coach, is basically the preseason consensus pick in the conference. After coach Rich Rodriguez departed before the Fiesta Bowl, new coach Bill Stewart lead the Mountaineers to a 48-28 win over Oklahoma. The Mountaineers have been to two BCS bowls in three years and look lead in '08 again.

In the Big Ten, the Ohio State Buckeyes are the preseason consensus pick to win the conference. The Buckeyes have won two straight outright and have won at least a share the past three years. Will the Buckeyes make it to three BCS title games in row? Can they overcome the unbelievable failure vs. SEC opponents in bowl games? It should be an interesting season for the Buckeyes. Forty years ago, OSU head coach Woody Hayes lead the Buckeyes to a MNC. Can coach Jim Tressel lead the Buckeyes to their second BCS Title?

In the Big Twelve last year, we saw two teams emerge in the Big 12 North for the first time, with Missouri and Kansas finishing at 7-1 , while the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Iowa State finished last at 2-6. In the Big 12 North, it was Oklahoma, who went on to beat Missouri in the Big 12 Championship 38-17. This year, Oklahoma is picked as the preseason favorite in the South by most previews, but Texas and even Texas Tech, get the top nod each by one preview. In the North, Missouri is the favorite by all but one preview, where KU gets the pick.

In the Pacific 10 Conference, the USC Trojans are the preseason consensus pick in '08 and are going for at least their seven share of a conference title in seven years. For the second straight season, each Pac 10 team will play one another, playing nine conference games and three OOC opponents. USC won the Rose Bowl last year 49-17 over the Big Ten runner up, Illinois.

In the Southeastern Conference, where the past two SEC champions have gone on to win the BCS title game, Georgia or Florida are being picked in the SEC East, while LSU or Auburn are picked in the SEC West, with even Alabama being picked by one preview in the West. LSU won in '07, Florida in '06 and Georgia in '05... but, can Georgia get to their first BCS title game in '08?

Notre Dame is one of only three independents (Army and Navy) and they do get BCS consideration, if they have a bowl eligible season. Only Phil Steele's preview puts the Fighting Irish in the preseason Top 25, after last year's 3-9 mark. Will the Fighting Irish really rebound this year?

Only ten teams are selected for the BCS these days. A maximum of two teams from any conference. So, who will make the BCS in '08?

  • BCS National Championship Game
  • Rose Bowl
  • Orange Bowl
  • Fiesta Bowl
  • Sugar Bowl

I will say this, if Ohio State gets to the BCS title game for the third straight year... they will win it. They will honor the 40th anniversary of Woody Hayes MNC accomplishment forty years ago. It will be an interesting twist, if it turns out to be a rematch of the top OOC game of the season...

Game of the Regular Season: September 13 - Ohio State at USC

Stay tuned, the kickoff of the 2008 college football season is less than 24 hours away! Game on!


Will the WAC continue to carry the banner for the Non-BCS world?

The Western Athletic Conference has carried the non-BCS banner the past two seasons. Will 2008 continue to be the case for the non-BCS conferences? Will the baton be passed to another non-BCS conference in '08, like the MWC, or dropped all together, like in 2005?

Who steps up in the WAC in 2008, within the conference and nationally, if at all?

Last year, Hawaii carried the torch for the WAC. Two years ago, it was Boise State carrying the banner. Who will carry the banner in '08. Will the Western Athletic Conference continue to be the top non-BCS conference in '08?

Two teams from the WAC were listed among three Top 25 ratings among this year's preseason previews. Boise State and Fresno State will try to carry the torch in '08 for the WAC.

The Top 15 OOC games for WAC in '08:
  1. Wisconsin at Fresno State
  2. Boise State at Oregon
  3. Fresno State at Rutgers in the season's opener
  4. Texas Tech at Nevada
  5. Washington State at Hawaii
  6. Fresno State at UCLA
  7. Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech in the season's opener
  8. Hawaii at Oregon State
  9. San Jose State at Stanford
  10. Idaho at Arizona in the season's opener
  11. Nevada at Missouri
  12. New Mexico State at Nebraska
  13. Hawaii at Florida in the season's opener
  14. San Jose State at Nebraska
  15. Louisiana Tech at Kansas
The popular match ups with Pac Ten or Big Twelve opponents for the WAC in '08

So, who will lead the race for the WAC title in '08?
  1. Fresno State Bulldogs (6-2 in '07) open their 12th season under one of the more interesting WAC coaches, Pat Hill... with two big opening games for the WAC nationally.
  2. Boise State Broncos (7-1 in '07) will open their 3rd season under coach Chris Petersen and will look to make it three in a row vs. Pat Hill's Bulldogs in '08.
  3. Nevada Wolf Pack (4-4 in '07) are lead by the dean of the WAC coaches, with coach Chris Ault, who will look to get back on top of the WAC, after two years out of the top spot.
  4. Hawaii Rainbows (8-0 in '07) went undefeated in the regular season last year in route to a BCS bowl... losing to Georgia, 10-41 in the Sugar, and losing head coach June Jones to SMU , who is being replaced by former DC Greg McMackin.
  5. San Jose State Spartans (4-4 in '07) will enter their fourth year under coach Dick Tomey and will work to get back to another bowl, after falling off in '07, after a strong '06 and bowl bid.
  6. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-4 in '07) enter their 2nd year under coach Derek Dooley... a program that hasn't bowled, since '01... and clearly represents the eastern front of the WAC.
  7. New Mexico State Aggies (1-7 in '07) will begin year four under Hal Mumme and will likely continue the longest bowl draught among WAC teams that goes back to 1960.
  8. Idaho Vandals (0-8 in '07) enter their 2nd year under Robb Akey and the 10 year mark since their last and only bowl bid.
  9. Utah State Aggies (2-6 in '07) will enter their fourth year under Brent Guy... the Aggies haven't bowled since 1997.
  • Biggest Game and Rivalry in the WAC: Nov. 28 - Fresno State at Boise State (Friday game)
  • Next Biggest Game: Oct. 4 - Hawaii at Fresno State
  • Coach of the Year: Dick Tomey, San Jose State

It should be another Wacky year in the WAC in '08. Fresno State hasn't won a share of the WAC title, since 1999. Time is running out in this decade.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is the MWC home of the non-BCS big Hope in '08?

Who will make the BCS bowls in 2008? A lot of discussion about Georgia and Ohio State these days. What conference outside the Big Six will carry the non-BCS conference banner this season?

Will one among the Mountain West Conference be one of the BCS bowl participants in 2008?

The Mountain West Conference carried the banner in 2004, with Utah, who beat Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Western Athletic Conference has carried the banner the past two seasons. This year's popular choice this year could lead the the MWC back in line as the top non-BCS flag carrier.

Brigham Young is a preseason consensus Top 25 member. They are the most popular candidate among the non-BCS programs to crash the BCS party in '08. While not a consensus pick, Utah is a candidate for the Top 25, as well, from the MWC.

Top 15 OOC MWC games:
  1. Utah at Michigan in season opener
  2. Brigham Young at Washington
  3. Oregon State at Utah
  4. UCLA at Brigham Young
  5. Stanford at TCU
  6. Colorado State vs. Colorado in season opener (in Denver)
  7. Iowa State at UNLV
  8. Arizona at New Mexico
  9. Texas A&M at New Mexico
  10. TCU at Oklahoma
  11. UNLV at Arizona State
  12. Wyoming at Tennessee
  13. San Diego State at Notre Dame
  14. Colorado State at California
  15. Northern Iowa at Brigham Young in season opener

The MWC looks to grab the flag over the WAC and all others among the non-BCS to carrier the banner in '08. Will the MWC grab it again? Will have to see the season unfold to find out.

So, who do I like in the MWC race in '08?

  1. Brigham Young Cougars (8-0 in '07) enter their fourth year under coach Bronco Mendenhall and will have to weather having a target on their backs in '08 to prevail.
  2. Utah Utes (6-2 in '07) enter their fourth year under Kyle Whittingham and will look to win their first MWC title, since '04 and Urban Meyer's final team in Salt Lake City that saw the Utes earn and win a BCS bowl game.
  3. TCU Horned Frogs (4-4 in '07) will welcome their eighth season under coach Gary Patterson, who is best known for his defense and should have one of the better units in the MWC.
  4. New Mexico Lobos (5-3 in '07) host the dean of the MWC with coach Rocky Long, who will build off last year's success and a 23-0 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.
  5. Wyoming Cowboys (2-6 in '07) are lead by coach Joe Glenn, entering his sixth season... with junior QB Karsten Sween and senior RB Devin Moore leading the offense!
  6. San Diego State Aztecs (3-5 in '07) look for better play in coach Chuck Long's thrid campaign as the Aztecs head man!
  7. UNLV Rebels (1-7 in '07) begin year four under coach Mike Sanford and look to get out of the cellar after four straight seasons there in the MWC.
  8. Air Force Falcons (6-2 in '07) may have a tougher second year with coach Troy Calhoun at the helm in Colorado Springs.
  9. Colorado State Rams (2-6 in '07) welcome the new coach in the MWC with Steve Fairchild replacing long-time coach Sonny Lubick.
  • Biggest Game and Rivalry: Nov. 22 - BYU at Utah in "The Holy War" rivalry game
  • Next Best Game: TCU at New Mexico in season opener
  • Coach of the Year: Bronco Mendenhall, BYU

So, the MWC hopes to garner a BCS game or bust, in '08!


Iowa Captains for Maine: Two former Cedar Rapids Washington players named

Kirk Ferentz today named four players game captains for Saturday's season opener vs. the Maine Black Bears , including two who originally walked onto Iowa from Cedar Rapids Washington. Players named for this week's game during this week's media conference:

All four players played high school football in the State of Iowa. King and Kroul are entering their fourth season as starters.

"They'll do a great job at giving us leadership," Kirk Ferentz said at
today's media conference.

The Hawkeyes will open the 2008 college football season on Saturday vs. the Black Bears, with an 11 am kickoff on the Big Ten Network. Kirk Ferentz coached the Black Bears from 1990-1992 and Maine coach Jack Cosgrove, served as Ferentz's offensive coordinator before succeeded Ferentz, when Ferentz moved onto the NFL as an offensive line coach, after the '92 season.


Speedo denied coverage for $1 Million bonus to Michael Phelps

August 25, 2008 issue of Business Insurance reports on page 23 in an article titled Speedo covers Phelps, but not with insurance for the 2008 Games.

Unlike the 2004 Olympics, when Speedo paid a premium of about $300,000 to cover its $1 million bonus. There were no takers for the 2008 Games.

The article reported it was "the happiest check that Speedo will ever write." It was clearly a wonderful 2008 Olympics fueled by the accomplishments of Michael Phelps in winning eight gold medals.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing is thankfully in the books... next up: the 2008 College Football Season

For most college football programs, camp ended on Friday. Game prep starts this week for most, as kickoff of the 2008 College Football season begins with 14 games kicking off on Thursday night.

Others will open with 2 games on Friday night, the majority of the first weekend games are for Saturday, 3 games on Sunday, and 2 for Monday of the first weekend of the 2008 college football season.


It's not basketball, so will the 2008 C-USA season be relevant nationally?

The Conference USA nearly won the basketball crown last season, with the University of Memphis' Tigers falling short vs. the University of Kansas in the NCAA Title Game. But, what about football in 2008 for the Conference USA? Will the Conference USA be relevant on a national level in 2008?

The C-USA has never been relevant in the BCS. Unlike Memphis in basketball, there really isn't a marquee name in the conference at a national level in college football. Tulsa is about the only consensus type team in the conference... the top pick in the C-USA West. One preseason magazine picked a C-USA team in the Top 25, with Gold Sheet picking Eastern Carolina #25. Tulsa is my preseason #25 team, with a strong offense under coach Todd Graham, entering his third season.

Top 20 C-USA OOC games for '08:
  1. West Virginia at East Carolina
  2. Louisville at Memphis
  3. Cincinnati at Marshall
  4. East Carolina at Virginia Tech in season opener
  5. Marshall at Wisconsin
  6. Tulsa at Arkansas
  7. Marshall at West Virginia
  8. Central Florida at Boston College
  9. East Carolina at Virginia
  10. Central Florida at Miami-FL
  11. East Carolina at North Carolina State
  12. SMU at Texas Tech
  13. UTEP at Texas
  14. Memphis at Mississippi in season opener
  15. Southern Mississippi at Auburn
  16. Houston at Oklahoma State
  17. Rice at Vanderbilt
  18. Tulane at Alabama in the Green Wave's season opener
  19. Tulane at LSU
  20. UAB at Tennessee

Street & Smith's Preview asked: And what does a Conference USA team have to do to sneak into the BCS Party?

"You have to go undefeated and win all your games," (new Southern Miss coach
Larry) Fedora says.

Tulsa appears the best candidate to go undefeated, but they were 3 games short in '07, so they have a lot of ground to cover in '08.

Who are the top teams in '08 for the C-USA in football (my picks):

C-USA East

  1. East Carolina ( 6-2 C-USA in '07)
  2. Central Florida (7-1 C-USA in '07)
  3. Memphis (6-2 C-USA in '07)
  4. Marshall (3-5 C-USA in '07)
  5. Southern Mississippi (5-3 C-USA in '07)
  6. UAB (1-7 C-USA in '07

C-USA West

  1. Tulsa (6-2 C-USA in '07)
  2. Houston (6-2 C-USA in '07)
  3. UTEP (2-6 C-USA in '07)
  4. SMU (0-8 C-USA in '07)
  5. Rice (3-5 C-USA in '07)
  6. Tulane (3-5 C-USA in '07)
  • Biggest Game in '08: Oct. 26th - UCF at Tulsa (Sunday game)
  • Biggest Game in C-USA East: Nov. 2nd - East Carolina at UCF (Sunday game)
  • C-USA Title Game Prediction: Tulsa over East Carolina
  • Coach of the Year: Todd Graham, Tulsa

C-USA has a lot of ground to cover to get to the level the WAC and Mountain West. Those other two leagues have crashed the BCS bowl party. It's been four years, since major realignment of the C-USA. Tulsa may sneak into the Top 25, but I see them more like TCU in previous years and coming up short.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

College Football: Paying the price to keep the team at home

Paying the price for those valuable home non-conference football games. Colleges are paying more and more for home games:

  1. LSU $2.9 million in '08
  2. Nebraska $2.7 million in '08
  3. Ohio State $2.2 million in '08

Source: Des Moines Register

Non-BCS teams or other non conference teams are receiving a record $63 million from the six BCS conference teams, including Iowa and Iowa State. Who said College Football isn't big business.

The money game will have athletic directors re-examining philosophies, as this article out of Texas mentions.

It isn't going to get any easier in the future. Ohio State has agreed to pay Navy $1.4 million for a visit to Columbus in 2009.

The University of Iowa is still looking for their fourth non-conference opponent for 2009. I doubt they will keep it as a bye game, since Kinnick Stadium holds 70,585 in Iowa City. Right now, they will have to settle for To Be Announced!


2008 College Football: my revised preseason Top 25

Well, it is time to revise my final preseason Top 25, since the season opens on Thursday.

Back on May 31, 2008, I gave Georgia the #1 nod, but as we watch 2008 unfold, I don't see Georgia finishing #1. My preseason #1 for the 2008 college football season is The Ohio State Buckeyes.

You can call it: three's a charm or one hell of a way for the Buckeyes to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woody Hayes last mythical football title back in 1968. The Buckeyes won in 2002 and six years later appear poised for another BCS title carrying the banner for the Big Ten Conference.

If Ohio State played Georgia today, I would pick the Buckeyes. One reason I am revising my preseason Top 25. Georgia is one SEC team in football that I believe the Buckeyes can beat. Though, the Ohio State history vs. the SEC in bowl games is plain awful. I am projecting the Buckeyes to get it done in 2008.

Here's my revised preseason Top 25 for the upcoming 2008 college football season:

  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2, 5th in final AP Poll for '07) - Coach Jim Tressel's Buckeyes have finished runner-up for two straight BCS title games... with two QBs like Florida in 2006, if the Buckeyes reach South Florida for this year's BCS National Championship Game, pick the Buckeyes to win it all.

  2. Georgia Bulldogs (11-2, 2nd AP ‘07) - Coach Mark Richt may have his most talented team, but they will face a very difficult schedule and the Bulldogs are one candidate that has never played for the BCS title and I think they will come up short in '08.

  3. USC Trojans (11-2, 3rd AP '07) - Coach Pete Carroll has built the most consistent program in nation since ’02... they play in a great conference, since the Pac Ten has a true round robin outcome with nine conference. They are the consensus front runner for the Pac Ten, again.

  4. Oklahoma Sooners (11-3, 8th AP '07) - Coach Bob Stoops was magic year two (2000) as a head coach, leading the Sooner Nation to the top. After back to back runner-up seasons in '03 and '04, the BCS title game has been a difficult quest for the Big 12's top program.

  5. Florida Gators (9-4, 13th AP '07) - Coach Urban Meyer seeks to keep the SEC banner high in the BCS and will seek to win his second BCS title in three seasons, behind Heisman trophy winning QB Tim Tebow.

  6. Auburn Tigers (9-4, 15th AP '07) - Coach Tommy Tuberville will have his team in hunt for the SEC title and a chance to make it three straight for the SEC in the BCS... make up for what the Tigers missed opportunity in 2004 going undefeated!

  7. Texas Longhorns (10-3, 10th AP '07) - Coach Mack Brown needs his team to build early momentum has they enter the 2008 Big Twelve race for ’08…

  8. LSU Tigers (12-2, 1st AP '07) - Coach Les Miles will likely turn the defending champs into the role of spoiler for ‘08 in the SEC race. Like Florida in '07, it will be a tall order to come close to a repeat in the BCS title hunt.

  9. West Virginia Mountaineers (11-2, 6th AP '07) - Coach Bill Stewart takes over the helm left by vacating Rich Rodriguez... will work to stay in Top 10.

  10. Missouri Tigers (12-2, 4th AP '07) - Coach Gary Pinkel looks to repeat, after winning first Big 12 North title LY!
  11. Clemson Tigers (9-4 21st AP '07) - Coach Tommy Bowden and his Tigers should be the team to watch in the ACC & one of the up and coming teams in the Top 25 this season!
  12. Virginia Tech Hokies (11-3, 9th AP in '07) - Coach Frank Beamer hopes his young Hokies can carry banner again as ACC’s top rated team as they finished last year.
  13. Brigham Young Cougars (11-2, 14th AP '07) - Coach Bronco Mendenhall and his Cougars plan to carry torch as nation’s top in non-BCS in '08.
  14. Oregon Ducks (9-4, 23rd AP '07) - Coach Mike Bellotti could be a QB away from competing with USC and the best?
  15. Tennessee Volunteers (10-4, 12th AP '07) - Coach Phil Fulmer and the Volunteers open with big games in top half of the schedule in '08…
  16. Arizona State Sun Devils (10-3, 16th AP '07) - Sun Devils in '08 look to build on Mo in coach Dennis Erickson’s 2nd year!
  17. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4, NR) - Does Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions make one more run in '08?
  18. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (9-4, NR) - Coach Jim Grobe and his Demon Deacons look to get into hunt for ACC title & Top 25 in '08!
  19. Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-4, 22nd AP '07) - Coach Mike Leach and his Red Raiders are often dangerous, especially on offense, when starting QB is back!
  20. Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4, 20th AP '07) - Coach Ron Zook has some key leaders to replace entering ’08…
  21. Kansas Jayhawks (12-1,7th AP '07) -Coach Mark Mangino and the Jayhawks are coming off best season, since #7 finish in ’68…
  22. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-4, NR) - Coach Pat Hill and the Bulldogs look to pass Hawaii and Boise State in WAC
  23. Utah Utes (9-4, NR) - Coach Kyle Whittingham and the Utes open season at Michigan and close at home w/ rival #13 BYU...
  24. Wisconsin Badgers (9-4, 24th AP '07) - Coach Bret Bielema and the Badgers will try to make it 5 straight Top 25 finishes in ’08!
  25. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-4, NR) - Coach Todd Graham and the Golden Hurricane look to carry CUSA torch & grab a Top 25 finish!

Other Teams that were considered for the Top 25:
Boston College (11-3, 11th), Cincinnati (10-3, 17th), Michigan (9-4, 18th), Hawaii (12-1, 19th), Oregon State (9-4, 25th), Virginia (9-4) , Kentucky (8-5), Boise State (10-3), Arkansas (8-5), Mississippi State (8-5), South Florida (9-4), Connecticut (9-4), Air Force (9-4), Rutgers (8-5), Florida Atlantic (8-5), New Mexico (9-4), East Carolina (8-5), Purdue (8-5), TCU (8-5), Alabama (7-6), California (7-6), Oklahoma State (7-6).

Other Teams to Watch that didn’t fare well LY that look to rebound (like Kansas and Illinois from '07) in ’08:
Miami-FL (5-7 in '07), North Carolina (4-8), Pittsburgh (5-7), Colorado (6-7), Iowa (6-6), Northwestern (6-6), Notre Dame (3-9) and Arizona (5-7).


The Olympic Games are in the books for Beijing 2008: USA #1

China wanted to finish higher than the USA, and certainly did winning more gold medals than any other country, but the USA finished on top with total wins:

Olympic medal count:
Total - Gold Silver Bronze
1. United States 110 - 36 38 36
2. China 100 - 51 21 28
3. Russian Fed 72 - 23 21 28

I always look back to 1972 and the accomplishments of Mark Spitz. It was certainly memorable to watch Michael Phelps blast the field and surpass Spitz's accomplishments in Beijing. By the way, it's nice to hear that the women and men are both on top in basketball and the USA wins gold in men's volleyball for the first time in 20 years.


The Gazette has story on Keenen Davis and CR Warriors

The Gazette writer Jeff Dahn has a Sunday article on Keenen Davis and the 2008 Washington Warrior football team online. Hopefully, the online version will correct the error on Warrior QB Wyatt Suess, who The Gazette writer called Warren.

Warren is Wyatt's brother who last played in 2003, helping lead the Warriors to the 2003 Class 4A Championship Game. The Warriors finished runner-up. Like Wyatt who has Davis as a #1 receiver this year, Warren in 2003 had WR Adrian Arrington, who went on to become a quality Big Ten receiver. Davis has a season of high school before he becomes a Big Ten receiver.

The Washington Warriors open at #7 Cedar Falls on Friday. The combination of Wyatt Suess to Keenen Davis will be one weapon to watch in 2008, among others for the Warriors. Like his brother, Wyatt and his Warrior teammates will hopefully make their own run at State in 2008.

Go Warriors... as my personal bias exclaims!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Two QBs in college that wore the #5 jersey... comparison for future?

They both wore the #5 jersey as college sophomore quaterbacks.

They both had great sophomore seasons.

Drew Tate in '04 wearing the #5 jersey lead Iowa to a share of the Big Ten title and a 10-2 record and a bowl win over defending champion, LSU, in the 2005 Capital One Bowl.

Todd Reesing in '07 wore the #5 jersey for the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas finished 12-1 and the Jayhawks beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

The magic in '04 wasn't repeated by Drew Tate and Iowa as a junior and senior. Is Todd Reesing and Kansas headed the same direction in '08?
Not every preseason magazine or poll has Kansas repeating with a Top 25 finish. The Jayhawks benefited from missing Top 25 and Big 12 South opponents: Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech during last year's 12-1 campaign. In 2008, most have the three Big 12 opponents among the top 25 in the nation. Unlike '07, Kansas will face all three Big 12 South opponents in '08, plus five other brothers in the Big 12 North.

Is the foundation clearly in place for KU as some suggest?

Kansas open Big 12 play on October 4th in Ames, Iowa, facing the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. It will be interesting to see how much #5 Reesing compares with old #5 Drew Tate. Tate's junior season got off to a rough start at Jack Trice in Ames in '05. The Cyclones have won two straight games at home in the Big 12.


Banners are up: One week until kickoff at Kinnick Stadium

The University of Iowa is a week away from kickoff of the 2008 college football season. One of the many banners is now up and ready for next Saturday's kickoff.

Iowa in '07 finished .500, with 4-4 in the Big Ten and 6-6 overall. Though the Hawkeyes were bowl eligible, they stayed home for the first time, since 2000.

Injuries were a problem for a young team in '07. It appears as many as three starters will be sidelined for the season opener, vs. the Maine Black Bears. TE Tony Moeaki, WR Troy Stross and G Dan Doering will likely be out. Moeaki missed a significant amount of time in '07, after going down in the Big Ten opener, at Wisconsin, in '07, and missing the rest of the season.

Iowa's defense, especially the front 7, appears to be the strength of the Hawkeye team entering 2008. The Hawkeye defense finished #12 in points allowed nationally, in '07. Another strength is sophomore punter Ryan Donahue, who set an Iowa record with 86 punts last year.

The real question in 2008 is how much the offense improves, including the offensive line. Iowa ranked #110 in offensive scoring, #92 in rushing, #94 in passing and #109 in total offense, all nationally, in '07. The offensive line allowed 46 sacks, sixth highest in the nation and first year starting QB Jake Christensen took a lot of abuse, both by opponents and by Hawkeye fans, who questioned why the 2nd string QB didn't see more snaps in '07.

Five things to like about Iowa entering 2008:
  1. Four year starters in DTs Matt Kroul and Mitch King anchor the Iowa front 7.
  2. Iowa's linebacker corp is loaded with non-seniors and is lead by #2 tackler junior A.J. Edds. The future is bright and Edds may be Iowa's next great linebacker.
  3. Iowa returns #1 WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, a sophomore from Ohio, and fellow WR senior Andy Brodell returns from injury, after missing almost the entire Big Ten season in '07.
  4. Iowa has a veteran coaching staff, but welcomes a new WR/TE coach from Michigan, in Erik Campbell, who spent the past 13 seasons as the Wolverines receiver coach. This is Kirk Ferentz's tenth season as Iowa's head football coach and 19th overall (OL coach from '81 to '89 under coach J Hayden Fry).
  5. Iowa played 11 true freshmen and 31 total freshmen in '07. Still a young team in many ways, experience will be a boost in '08 with 50 letterwinners returning for the Hawkeyes (Starters returning: 7 offense, 5 defense, 2 special teams).

Five questions that Iowa must answer in '08, if they are going to improve:

  1. Iowa returns all five starters in the O-Line and everyone in the two deep, but can they stay healthy and build team chemistry to open up running lanes and protect the Iowa QB?
  2. Who steps in at Running Back? Iowa's top 3 ball carriers from '07 and #1 fullback have departed. Iowa does receive a boost from junior RB #23 Shonn Greene, returning after a season at a JC to concentrate on academics. Greene is a two year letterwinner though.
  3. QB Jake Christensen was the league's lowest-rated passer based on passing efficiency and second string QB Ricky Stanzi was 0-4 with 1 int in '07. Will Iowa get production from the Top 2 or will a newcomer emerge during the course of the season? As coach Ferentz has pointed out a number of times, junior Christensen's progression as a starting QB at Iowa, may draw similar comparisons to former Iowa QB Matt Rodgers in '89. Like Christensen as a sophomore, Rodgers had a rough first year as a starter, but was successful in his final two seasons as an upper classmen... can Christensen repeat history for Iowa?
  4. How will injuries and depth impact Iowa in '08?
  5. Iowa must replace two departed CBs, like in '02. Like '02, Iowa returns a part-time starter at CB (senior Bradley Fletcher) and will depend on youth. Will the secondary develop in '08 feeding off the strength of Iowa's front 7?

Projection for Iowa in '08: 5-3 in Big Ten, and depending on Iowa State and Pitt games, Iowa's overall record will rebound from 6-6 in '07 to 8-4 or 9-3 in '08.

You can catch the Iowa opener, August 30th, with an 11 am kickoff on the Big Ten Network, from Kinnick Stadium. Iowa has finished in the Big Ten top division six out the past seven years... will 2008 make it 7 out of 8?


Friday, August 22, 2008

One Week: CR Warriors open with B2B vs. Top 10 opponents

One week from today, the #3 Cedar Rapids Washington team will travel to the Dome to face #7 Cedar Falls. A very challenging first week for the Warriors, who will have plenty of offensive skill, but questions will have to be determined in the trenches, on both sides of the ball.

The Warriors will open the 2008 Iowa high school football season with back to back games vs. Top 10 competition. The Warriors travel to face the #7 Tigers on August 29th. The follow-up game is the Warriors home opener September 4th, a Thursday night game, at Kingston Stadium vs. City High.

Prep Football 2008: Gazette’s state rankings
CLASS 4A 2007 record and Comments from The Gazette

1. West Des Moines Valley 11-1 in '07

Despite loss of four all-staters, Tigers look strong again
2. Bettendorf 13-0

Defending champs and new coach Aaron Wiley eye return trip to finals
3. Cedar Rapids Washington 8-3

Warriors feature loads of speed and an explosive offense
4. Southeast Polk 9-2

Rams return 15 starters, including standout RB Jeff Woody
5. Iowa City High 7-3

A.J. Derby takes over at QB and Little Hawks look ready to make a run
6. Ankeny 11-2

Hawks have holes to fill, but they always seem to find a way to win
7. Cedar Falls 11-1

LB Jeff Hanson leads defense that gave up only 9.1ppg last season
8. Cedar Rapids Xavier 7-3

Seek third straight playoff berth; last two sophomore teams 16-2
9. Johnston 7-2

If Dragons match ‘07 record, they won’t miss the post season this year
10. Davenport Assumption 9-2
Smallest school playing 4A football, Knights always come up big

High school football is getting more and more interesting each season here in the State of Iowa. The new expanded Class 4A playoff system will be new in '08.

What type of defense will the Warriors have in '08? Could we see some new wrinkles as some have talked about?

The skill players should be solid at #1 and #2 QB, Wyatt Suess and Derek Giesking, #1 WR Keenan Davis and #1 RB Andre Dawson, with all three starters back at those key positions. The 2007 season was highlighted by two great late-game victories over Cedar Rapids Kennedy, including a first round playoff win.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Iowa kicks off 2008 football season at Kinnick: vs. Maine

Iowa vs. Maine, August 30th, 11 am kick off at historic Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes vs. the Black Bears... On Iowa!


One Week Left: 2008 College Football season kicks off

One week from today, the 2008 college football season will begin. Also, in the State of Iowa, high school football will begin, with the first week of action.

This will be a huge game for the Jackrabbits, who last year did not face a FBS opponent. As Jackrabbits head coach John Stiegelmeier points out in this "big time" game:

‘‘Normally we talk about a game three, four days before we play it. So we
started six, seven months early,’’ Stiegelmeier said Monday. ‘‘We did that
because things have changed. It’s a higher level. We need to have that focus.’’

Iowa State is on a one game losing streak to FCS programs, after losing to UNI at home in '07. However, the Cyclones are on a two game winning streak at Jack Trice, with back to back Big 12 wins over Colorado and Kansas State in '07.
One week from today... we will kick off the 2008 college football season!


Sunday, August 17, 2008

2008 Preseason AP Football Poll released...

We were driving back from Kids Day at the University of Iowa yesterday, when the news was reporting the release of the Preseason AP Football Poll for 2008.

Less than 14 days for Hawkeyes fans, Panther fans and less than 12 days for Cyclone fans for kickoff of the 2008 College Football Season. Plenty of work out of the State of Iowa, since no preseason love in the FBS for either Iowa or Iowa State by AP pollsters, unlike Michigan State, Arizona, Nebraska and Notre Dame, who were among the others receiving 2 or more votes.

1. Georgia (22) 11-2 1528 2
2. Ohio State (21) 11-2 1506 5
3. Southern Cal (12) 11-2 1490 3
4. Oklahoma (4) 11-3 1444 8
5. Florida (6) 9-4 1415 13
6. Missouri 12-2 1266 4
7. LSU 12-2 1135 1
8. West Virginia 11-2 1116 6
9. Clemson 9-4 1105 21
10. Auburn 9-4 968 15
11. Texas 10-3 966 10
12. Texas Tech 9-4 786 22
13. Wisconsin 9-4 771 24
14. Kansas 12-1 707 7
15. Arizona State 10-3 631 16
16. BYU 11-2 590 14
17. Virginia Tech 11-3 578 9
18. Tennessee 10-4 509 12
19. South Florida 9-4 496 NR
20. Illinois 9-4 483 20
21. Oregon 9-4 366 23
22. Penn State 9-4 293 NR
23. Wake Forest 9-4 227 NR
24. Alabama 7-6 89 NR
25. Pittsburgh 5-7 85 NR

Iowa will travel to face #25 Pittsburgh and #20 Illinois this season, while hosting #13 Wisconsin and #22 Penn State. Northern Iowa will open the season at #16 Brigham Young, while Iowa State hosts #14 Kansas and #6 Missouri in Big 12 play. Of course, the above rankings are only preseason and the 2008 college football season will clearly shake out some things before all is said and done.

Is Georgia #1? The Bulldogs in the SEC, will face #24 Alabama, #18 Tennessee, at #7 LSU, #5 Florida in Jacksonville, at #10 Auburn, with a trip at #15 Arizona State before the Top 25 tour in the SEC. It could be a rocky road for the Bulldogs in '08 in making it from preseason #1 to BCS Title Game participant.

The match up of #2 Ohio State at #3 USC on September 13th is certainly the game of the early 2008 season. A win for the Buckeyes would be huge for their title hopes in '08. If it is #1 Georgia vs. #2 Ohio State in the BCS Title Game this year, look for the Bulldogs to get the monkey off their backs vs. the SEC. Georgia is one SEC team that the Buckeyes appear capable of matching up with.

In addition to Georgia-ASU and OSU-USC this season, there are some other great interconference games this year between preseason Top 25 teams: #6 Missouri vs. #20 Illinois (Opener), #10 Auburn at #8 West Virginia, #9 Clemson vs. #24 Alabama (Opener), #14 Kansas at #19 South Florida, though the 12 game season format doesn't encourage enough of them. But, there will always be some good intraconference match ups to look forward to and plenty of opportunities to see the final Top 25 shake out.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is the MAC ready for a breakout season in football in '08?

Like the Sun Belt Conference, the Mid-American Conference doesn't have a major 'mid-major' like the WAC or MWC that is likely to make noise for a BCS bid. But, is the MAC ready for a breakout season in football in '08?

There is no preseason consensus favorite for 13 member MAC in '08, which is broken into two divisions: East and West. Bowling Green and Miami-OH get the most love in the East, while Central Michigan and Ball State get the most love in the West. Western Michigan may be a sleeper to watch out for?

Central Michigan (6-1 in '07 in the West) beat Miami-OH (5-2 in the East in '07) in the '07 MAC Title Game 35-10. CMU has won back to back MAC titles games, so will '08 make it three in a row?

When I wrote my comments on the Sun Belt Conference yesterday, I failed to point out Phil Steele's Top 40 and Top 50 spots for the Sun Belt and MAC. Looking over page 29 of Phil Steele's 2008 College Football Preview: FAU was rated ahead of three MAC teams in the Top 50 nationally. Remarkably, Phil Steele had FAU #37 nationally and though Phil Steele doesn't pick Western Michigan to win the West, they are ranked #40 nationally. Rounding out the Top 50: Central Michigan #44 and Ball State #46 are in.

As PFW/College Football News speaks to on page 8 of their '08 Season Preview,
"Which conference other than your own should you care about. The MAC."

Top 21 OOC MAC football games in '08:
  1. Central Michigan at Georgia
  2. Central Michigan at Purdue
  3. Miami-OH at Michigan
  4. Toledo at Michigan
  5. Western Michigan at Nebraska in season opener
  6. Illinois vs. Western Michigan (in Detroit)
  7. Bowling Green at Pittsburgh in season opener
  8. Minnesota at Bowling Green
  9. Kent State at Iowa State
  10. Ball State at Indiana
  11. Ohio U at Northwestern
  12. Central Michigan at Indiana
  13. Northern Illinois at Minnesota
  14. Temple at Penn State
  15. Ohio U at Ohio State
  16. Boston College vs. Kent State (in Cleveland) in season opener
  17. Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
  18. Vanderbilt at Miami-OH
  19. Northern Illinois at Tennessee
  20. Akron at Wisconsin in season opener
  21. Akron at Syracuse

Phil Steele (page 19) didn't have any Sun Belt teams among his 2008 Most Improved Teams, but the MAC has four teams on the list: #3 Northern Illinois, #8 Western Michigan, #14 Kent State, and #20 Miami-OH. Northern Illinois welcomes the conference's only new coach in Jerry Kill, who moves over from FCS Southern Illinois. Kill has coached at the Division II level, the FCS level and now the FBS level.

Miami-OH coach Shane Montgomery is entering his fourth season and it would be good to continue moving up the MAC ladder and find a way to garner a bowl game or MAC title in the near term. The RedHawks haven't bowled, since hiring their former OC to replace the late Terry Hoeppner, after the '04 season.

Who are the top teams in '08 for the MAC in football (my picks):

MAC East:

  1. Miami-OH RedHawks (4-2 division, 5-2 MAC in '07) continue the move up the MAC ladder in '08.
  2. Bowling Green Falcons (4-2 division, 6-2 MAC in '07) will battle to spoil the RedHawks climb.
  3. Kent State Golden Flashes (1-5 division, 1-7 MAC in '07) makes the move back into top half of the MAC East.
  4. Temple Owls (3-3 division, 4-4 MAC in '07) enter year two as a member of the MAC in football and third year with promising Al Gordon as head coach.
  5. Buffalo Bulls (4-2 division, 5-3 MAC in '07) enter third season under coach Turner Gill and look to continue to build on improving as a football program.
  6. Ohio U Bobcats (3-3 division, 4-4 MAC in '07) enter fourth season with former Husker head man Frank Solich at the helm.
  7. Akron Zips (1-5 division, 1-7 MAC in '07) haven't had a winning season, since '05 title year.

MAC West:

  1. Western Michigan Broncos (2-3 division, 3-4 MAC in '07) enter fourth season under coach Bill Cubit have talent, but lost three MAC games by less than 7 points in '07. My Surprise Pick
  2. Central Michigan Chippewas (4-1 division, 6-1 MAC in '07) look for third straight MAC title, with everyone gunning for them in '08.
  3. Ball State Cardinals (4-1 division, 5-2 MAC in '07) is becoming solid under coach Brady Hoke, who enters 6th season.
  4. Northern Illinois Huskies (0-5 division, 1-6 MAC in '07) have a lot of ground to make up after downturn last year, but new coach should provide some fresh opportunities.
  5. Toledo Rockets (2-3 division, 3-5 MAC in '07) last solid year was in '05.
  6. Eastern Michigan Eagles (3-2 division, 3-4 MAC in '07) broke out of the cellar in '07, but will it hold in '08?
  • Biggest Game in '08: Oct. 18th - Western Michigan at Central Michigan
  • Biggest Game in MAC East: Oct. 18th - Miami-OH at Bowling Green
  • MAC Title Game Prediction: Miami-OH over Western Michigan
  • Coach of the Year: Shane Montgomery, Miami-OH

Do I agree that the MAC is a conference to watch other than the Big Ten and Big Twelve? Defense wins championships and I am not ready to say defense has become a trend in the MAC. The MAC plays some exciting football, but when your top team loses to a FCS division team (i.e. North Dakota State over Central Michigan, 14-44 in '07)... there is a chink in the armour.


Sportsmanship vs. Olympic Judging

Greco-Roman Olympic wrestling in the middleweight class ends with protest, after Sweden’s Ara Abrahamian threw his bronze medal on the ground during the medal ceremonies.
I have really enjoyed watching Michael Phelps race in the swimming competition, but certain sports seem to allow the politics of competition spoil the Olympic experience.
The 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China certainly is showing the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of Olympic sports this August.
By the way, how popular will Olympic female wrestling be? I hear reported four American women hope to garner a medal in Beiijing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Florida Atlantic nearly consensus pick in Sun Belt for '08

The Florida Atlantic Owls are nearly a preseason consensus pick in the Sun Belt Conference football race for '08. However, the College Football News is departing from conventional wisdom and is going with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders for '08.

The Sun Belt Conference is the lowest rated conference in the FBS division entering '08, by most accounts. Though, Phil Steele rated the Sun Belt ahead of the MAC to close out '07 (page 18 of Phil Steele's 2008 College Football Preview).

Lindy's has Florida Atlantic at #84 nationally, behind 3 MAC teams (Central Michigan, Ball State, and Miami-OH). Athlon Sports on the other hand has FAU #70 nationally, ahead of everyone in the MAC, other than #62 Central Michigan. PFW/College Football News picks Middle Tennessee ahead of FAU in the conference race, but has FAU #82 nationally, behind 3 MAC teams (CMU, Ball State, and Bowling Green), while Middle Tennessee is rated #108 nationally. All three magazines have FIU #119, last nationally of all FBS teams for '08.

Top 15 Sun Belt OOC games to watch in '08 -
    1. Troy at Ohio State
    2. Florida Atlantic at Texas in season opener
    3. Florida Atlantic at Michigan State
    4. Arkansas State at Texas A&M in season opener
    5. Arkansas State at Alabama
    6. Florida Atlantic at Minnesota
    7. Troy at Oklahoma State
    8. ULM at Auburn in season opener
    9. ULM at Arkansas
    10. ULM at Ole Miss
    11. Louisiana-Lafayette at Illinois
    12. Maryland at Middle Tennessee
    13. North Texas at Kansas State in season opener
    14. FIU at Kansas in season opener
    15. FIU at Iowa

Finally, defending BCS champion LSU hosts both Troy and North Texas in '08 in the OOC. Troy is the only FBS team in '08 that will face both the BCS champ and runner up on their schedule. Who will be this year's victim to the Sun Belt in the OOC in '08. ULM beat Alabama in November '07, while Troy beat Oklahoma State in '07?

The Sun Belt will add Western Kentucky as a football member in 2009 and South Alabama in 2013. For what it's worth, according to Wikipedia, Florida Atlantic has the strongest endowment of all football members in the Sun Belt.

So, who does one pick in the Sun Belt Conference for 2008?

  1. Troy Trojans (7-1 in '07) are going for their 3rd straight share of a Sun Belt title and they have several skill position holes to fill in '08. My surprise pick!
  2. Florida Atlantic Owls (7-1 in '07) have the upper hand, playing Troy at home in '08?
  3. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (4-3 in '07) won a share of the Sun Belt in '06 w/ Troy.
  4. UL- Monroe Warhawks (4-3 in '07) last won a share of the Sun Belt in '05.
  5. Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-4 in '07) also last won a share of the Sun Belt in '05.
  6. UL-Lafayette Red Wolves (3-4 in '07) also last won a share of the Sun Belt in '05.
  7. North Texas Mean Green (1-6 in '08) won a share or outright Sun Belt title from '01 to '04.
  8. Florida International Golden Panthers (1-6 in '08) are the #119 team in the nation and will likely need another year before moving out of the Sun Belt cellar.

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers play five games vs. Sun Belt teams, but will not become an official conference member in football until next season.

  • Biggest Game: Oct. 7th - Troy @ Florida Atlantic
  • Biggest Football Rivalry Game: Aug. 28 - Troy @ Middle Tennessee to open season
  • Coach of the Year: Larry Blakeney, Troy (his 18th season for Trojans)

Some other projections for the Sun Belt in '08 that I googled after I made my own picks. Jason Lowry's picks. Jeff Alexander's picks. Catfish and Cornbread picks. I know I went on a limb in the Sun Belt for '08.


Chinese fake portions of Opening Cermonies

The sixteen year old gymnasts may look too young, but there are some fakes unfolding on the China front during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
It appears that portions of the Opening Ceremonies were faked.

Smog contributed to one of the fake productions.

The other was the beauty of the young person performing. You can't have an ugly duckling singing to the rest of the world, representing the face of China's youth. So, the Chinese officials pulled the seven year old out and put in an older replacement. The older nine year old lipped sync to the seven year's voice.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Marion sophomore grabs TD catch in Iowa scrimmage

The 2008 college football season gets started in roughly 17 days for the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes season opener is August 30th vs. the Maine Black Bears at Kinnick Stadium.

The Iowa State Cyclones will open things on Thursday August 28th. The Cyclones will host the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Jack Trice in an opening day of the five day first weekend for the 2008 college football season.

Reisner figures to be one of the top 3 TEs for the Hawkeyes in '08. The former Marion Indian athlete was one of 12 true freshmen to play for the Iowa Hawkeyes in '07. Iowa played 31 freshmen, redshirt or true, during their 6-6 (4-4 in the Big Ten) campaign in 2007.


So, do you have a favorite Olympic sport to watch?

Much to the disagreement or surprise to my family, swimming is my favorite Olympic sport to watch.

It certainly has been an outstanding sport to follow so far during the 29th Olympic Games being held in Beijing, China this August 2008.

Most of my family selected women's gymnastics, which based on the ages of the youngsters from China and the USA, should be classed as girl's gymnastics. With many sixteen year old gymnasts going on twelve leading the team from China, the term "women" doesn't seem appropriate for the sport, as compared to, women's sand volleyball or many other Olympic sports, for that matter.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of swimming is the fact that both Olympic and world records are on the line each heat or event. We are certainly seeing many records fall, as I type tonight.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Move Over Joe: Brett Favre is coming to Town!

It's official: the Green Bay Packers have traded future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre to the New York Jets. Good. By far the biggest name at quarterback for the New York Jets, since Joe Namath lead the Jets to the Super Bowl III.
It will be an interesting legacy for Brett Favre to build on. Joe Namath finished out his career in Los Angeles, with the Rams; while Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana finished out their careers in San Diego and Kansas City, respectively.
Now, add Favre to the list of franchise quarterbacks, who move on to ride off the end of their careers for another one.
As a Green Bay fan, I completely understand that the Packers back in April, made the decision to move on. The Aaron Rodgers era clearly begins in 2008.
It will be interesting to see how the final journey in the NFL goes for the thirty-eight year old Favre. When teams were mentioned as final destinations for Favre, as a Packer fan I thought New York City and the Jets would be fitting place to trade Favre too. It will be interesting to how much fire is left in the tank for old #4.
Thanks for the memories Brett in Green Bay. It will be interesting to see you in the AFC.