Big Ten Football: Preseason Power Rankings

The Big Ten has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons as of late. Urban Meyer is about to serve a three-game suspension for Ohio State after a report from Brett McMurphy said that Urban had specific knowledge of domestic abuse allegations against a member of his coaching staff, Zach Smith, in 2015. At Maryland, DJ Durkin is currently on administrative leave after the death of lineman Jordan McNair.

Despite the controversies, Big Ten football will still be played this season, and the top of the conference is loaded with talent. Ohio State and Wisconsin are the two favorites to represent the East and West in the Big Ten Title game, but Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State will look to play spoiler.

Here are my preseason power rankings for the Big Ten.

14. Illinois

Can Lovie Smith turn this program around? Only time will tell, but is too late? Last year was a learning year for the Fighting Illini as they started 16 freshmen. These freshmen like running back Mike Epstein and safety Bennett Williams will be more experienced and will look to improve upon their disastrous 2-10 2017 season. If the Illini can take the next step forward this year, 2019 will be full of promise with the arrival of 5-star quarterback Isaiah Williams.

12. Rutgers

Rutgers is not very good, but they’re not as bad as you think. A lot of their struggles are due to the fact that they are members of the Big Ten East, which is significantly tougher than the West with games against Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State. Chris Ash is in his third year and will look to continue the trend of increasing wins each year, tallying 2 and 4 wins in his first two years. Defense is the strength of the Scarlett Knights, lead by linebacker Deonte Roberts. The offense is still a work in progress. Truthfully, if Rutgers can win 5 games this year, that would be a huge win for the program.

12. Maryland

Like Ohio State, Maryland is embroiled in controversy after the death of lineman Jordan McNair. Coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave after being accused of abuse and disparagement. If Durkin is not on the sidelines, that changes everything for the Terps. Putting controversy aside, the biggest reason for Maryland’s struggles last year was due to injuries. Both quarterbacks, Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill, are back from season-ending injuries from a year ago. However, your guess is as good as mine as to how the Terps season will play out without their coach.

11. Indiana

Last year, Indiana’s season came down to a few miscues. The Hoosiers had four single-digit losses. If the ball bounces the other way, they could’ve been a bowl team. Also, just today, a week after naming Peyton Ramsey the starting quarterback, graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins left the program. Despite the issues on offense, the defense has improved every year under Tom Allen, finishing 27th in the country in 2017. In order to make a bowl, Indiana will have to learn how to win the close games.

10. Minnesota

Can Fleck and the Golden Gophers row the boat to relevancy this year? It will all start with true freshman Zack Annexstad under center, who happens to be a preferred walk-on. Early on, look for the Golden Gophers to rely on running back Rodney Smith for production. The defense should be solid once again, which allowed 22.8 points per game in 2017. That being said, Minnesota is an extremely young team that is still a few years away from true success.

9. Purdue

The hype for coach Jeff Brohm is real. After bringing the Boilermakers to a bowl game last season, hopes are high that Brohm can eventually bring the Boilermakers to the upper tier of the Big Ten. The quarterback position is still a mystery since Brohm has yet to name either Elijah Sindelar or David Blough as the starter. Jackson Anthrop is a game changer at receiver. However, Purdue lost the majority of their contributors on defense. Their success will hinge on their ability to come up with stops in big moments.

8. Nebraska

I firmly believe that Scott Frost can make Nebraska a contender not only in the Big Ten West, but in the college football landscape. Though, it takes time to build a program and get your guys that are tailored to your style of play. True freshman Adrian Martinez will be the first freshman quarterback to ever open the season for Nebraska. Stanley Morgan Jr. is also an exciting receiver that could be a first round pick next year in the 2019 NFL draft. Don’t expect Nebraska to compete for a Big Ten title just yet, but be patient. It’s coming sooner than later.

Mark Dantonio Michigan State HC

7. Iowa

The Iowa Hawkeyes seem to always play spoiler for Big Ten title hopefuls. Two years ago, they upset Michigan on a last-second field goal. Last season, they blew the doors off of Ohio State, which most likely led them to miss the playoff top four. Kirk Ferentz’s team lost top rusher Akrum Wadley so expect the Hawkeyes to open it up a bit more with returning quarterback Nathan Stanley. Circle September 22 on your calendars because that’s when Wisconsin comes to town. Let’s just say this. If I was a Wisconsin fan, I would be extremely nervous going into this game.

6. Northwestern

Coaching is the top strength of the Northwestern Wildcats because Pat Fitzgerald is the most underrated coach in college football. The Wildcats also return experienced quarterback Clayton Thorson, who will be one of the Big Ten’s best at the position. There’s no secret as to why Pat Fitzgerald has stayed with this program all of these years despite being brought up for numerous coaching vacancies. Fitzgerald wants to be the man to win a Big Ten Title and bring the Wildcats back to the Rose Bowl, which would be their first since 1995. It’s unlikely that happens this year, but with Fitzgerald at the helm and an important game against Wisconsin at home later this year, you never know what can happen.

5. Michigan

The time for Michigan to rise to the top of the Big Ten is now. With the Urban Meyer scandal, a potential step back for Penn State, and potential problems with the Michigan State offense, this could be the year that Michigan Wolverines play for a Big Ten title, which they have never done since conference realignment in 2011. The defense will be one of the best in the country lead by linebacker, Devin Bush Jr. and defensive tackle Rashan Gary. The season will all depend on if Ole Miss transfer quarterback Shea Patterson is the real deal. If Patterson becomes Michigan’s best quarterback in the Jim Harbaugh era, a 10 win season is more than attainable.

4. Penn State

Before we talk about this year’s team, take a bow, Saquon Barkley. You helped bring the Nittany Lions back to the top of college football. Now, it’s time for senior quarterback Trace McSorley to be “the guy.” Penn State lost a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, but James Franklin is a Top 5 recruiter in the country. If McSorley can carry the load until the young guys get up to speed, the drop off from last year will be minuscule.

3. Michigan State

Do not sleep on Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans. Nothing about this team screams the SportsCenter Top 10 in terms of talent, but this group is experienced, disciplined, and well-coached. The Spartans lose only four starters from last year and return veterans at every major position including quarterback Brian Lewerke and linebacker Joe Bachie. If Michigan State can play Michigan State football aka control the field and play good defense, they could upend Ohio State at the top of the conference.

2. Wisconsin

Had it not been for a 6 point loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, Wisconsin would have made the College Football Playoff last season. This year, expectations should be very high as the Badgers bolster one of the best offensive lines in the nation to go along with the return of quarterback Alex Hornibrook and Heisman hopeful running back Jonathan Taylor. The Badgers have some holes to fill on defense, but the Badgers are the proverbial favorite to represent the Big Ten West in the conference championship game.

1. Ohio State

This preseason, the biggest story at Ohio State has nothing to do with the play on the field. All of the storylines revolve around the Urban Meyer controversy and his three-game suspension. As bad as it is at Ohio State, it will only get worse in terms of media attention once Meyer returns from his suspension. Let’s remove Urban Meyer from the equation right now. The Buckeyes are still the best team on the field in the Big Ten. Defensive end Nick Bosa, who will most likely be a Top 5 draft pick, anchors a defense that has NFL talent all over. The biggest transition will be at the quarterback position as Dwayne Haskins takes over for JT Barrett. Expect some growing pains early, but if Haskins shows promise, the Buckeyes will fight for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

College Football Betting: Five Over / Under Win Totals To Bet

College football season is so close that you can taste it. In a few short days, the pigskin will be flying and Lee Corso will be putting on headgear. All will be right in the world. College football season also means that gamblers can come out of hiding from the dog days of summer. Before the games begin, it’s time to place your futures bets on over/under win totals. Let’s take a look at five intriguing bets to consider.

*Note: The over/under totals represent regular season games only. Conference championships and bowl games are not included. All totals are taken from Oddshark.*

Georgia: O/U – 10.5 wins (-130)

Can the Georgia Bulldogs recapture the magic from last season and make the College Football Playoff? The Bulldogs have to replace a lot of talent on both sides of the ball with the big pieces being linebacker Roquan Smith and running backs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. However, quarterback Jake Fromm, who is a future NFL prospect, returns with more experience so look for the offense to rely on his arm a little more this year. Plus, it’s not like this team is going to be falling off the face of the Earth with a rebuild. It’s not a rebuild, it’s a reload. Coach Kirby Smart is bringing in a 5-star recruiting class. Looking at the schedule, I see two potential hiccups: at LSU and vs. Auburn. I expect Georgia to win one out of the two and then run through everyone else. Bet the over. Georgia Over 10.5 wins

Washington: O/U – 10.5 wins (-145)

Since his arrival in 2014, Chris Petersen has brought the Huskies to two New Year’s Six games including a trip to the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2016. The Huskies did not lose a lot of impact players and will return veteran quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. This team has the potential to be very, very good. However, needing 11 wins from a team with the following games on the schedule is a tough pill to swallow: Auburn (in Atlanta), at Utah, at Oregon, vs. Stanford, at Washington State. Washington is going to be at the top of the Pac 12, but I see 10 wins in their future, not 11. Washington Under 10.5 wins

Notre Dame: O/U – 9.5 wins (+110)

If you hate Notre Dame, this is going to be a tough year for you. Notre Dame is going to fight for a spot in the CFP. I’m actually shocked the win total is set at 9.5. The biggest loss on the defensive side was their star defensive coordinator, Mike Elko, to Texas A&M. That being said, the defense is outstanding, ranking first in the country in terms of returning production. Plus, the offense still has Brandon Wimbush, Dexter Williams, and Myles Boykin carrying the load. What favors Notre Dame is their schedule. Most of their ranked opponents will travel to South Bend (Michigan, Stanford, Florida State) and they will be favored in most, if not all, of their games. Hammer the over. Notre Dame Over 9.5 wins

Missouri: O/U – 6.5 wins (-155)

If you don’t know a thing about Missouri football, that’s ok. All you need to remember are two words, Drew Lock. He is arguably the most explosive quarterback in the country, who threw for almost 4,000 yards and absurd 44 TDs. If you had no idea Lock played for Missouri, you might think he plays in the Big XII. Lock is putting up huge numbers against SEC defenses. The schedule is not easy with Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama in three straight weeks. That being said, this team won 7 games last year. If Lock stays healthy, they have a chance to win every game. Missouri Over 6.5 wins.

TCU: O/U – 7.5 wins (-135)

I had to do a double take when I first saw this. 7.5 wins for a team that’s coming off an 11 win season? Expect that low total to be bulletin board for the best coach in the Big XII, Gary Patterson. The defense is going to be fine with defensive end Ben Banogu and linebacker Ty Summers up front. The quarterback and offensive line are giant question marks. Kenny Hill aka Kenny Trill is gone so now the keys to the offense belong to sophomore Shawn Robinson. Plus, the Horned Frogs need to replace four all-conference linemen. Notable games are Ohio State (in Arlington), at Texas, vs. Oklahoma, and at West Virginia. If the line holds up and Robinson is decent at best, TCU can win at least 8 games. TCU Over 7.5 wins.

College Football: ACC Coaching Power Rankings 2018

Who is #1 in the ACC Coaching Power Rankings?

The ACC is an interesting conference when it comes to the strength of its coaches. There is one king in the ACC, and that’s Dabo Swinney. It’s a no-brainer, and his resume speaks for itself. Every other coach is playing for second. A few names such as Mark Richt of Miami, Bobby Petrino of Louisville, and Justin Fuente come to mind. If no one can knock Dabo off the top, can any team at least take down Clemson for conference supremacy?

ICYMI:

Big XII Coaching Power Rankings

Pac-12 Coaching Power Rankings

Big Ten Coaching Power Rankings

Here are the ACC Coaching Power Rankings.

14. Syracuse – Dino Babers

Well, at least they beat Clemson last year. Syracuse football is one of the toughest jobs in the country because of the location. Syracuse is a basketball school in central NY that is trying to compete with the likes of Florida State and Miami every year. Florida or Central NY?  It is a pretty simple choice for most kids. Getting kids to turn down the sunshine for snow is not exactly the easiest recruiting pitch. Do I think Dino Babers is a bad coach? No. Do I think he can do better than back-to-back 4-8 seasons? Absolutely. If Babers can win at least three games in the ACC this year, he might have a job for a few more years. Baby steps for the Orange.

13. Steve Addazio, Boston College

Steve Addazio is a smart coach. If you’re a vital member of Urban Meyer’s staff for two National Championships at Florida, you must be doing something right. However, his time at Boston College has been below average in the win/loss category. In 6 seasons with the Eagles, Addazio’s record is 31-33. For a Power 5 school, it’s nothing to brag home about. However, Addazio is well-respected and revered by both his peers and the school, who signed him to a contract extension through 2020. For my money, Steve Addazio is probably one of the most likable dudes out there. I use the word dude because Addazio coined the legendary phrase, “Guys being dudes.” For that, Addazio has my stamp of approval.

12. Pittsburgh – Pat Narduzzi

Pittsburgh football is the definition of mediocre. Since 1999, the Panthers win total has been between 5 and 9 wins besides 2009, which was their only 10 win season this century. Will Pat Narduzzi be able to take the Panthers back to the top tier of college football, which is a place they have not been since Dan Marino played quarterback. Narduzzi is a master of defense and proved that by becoming one of the best defensive coordinators in college at Michigan State. In three seasons at Pittsburgh, Narduzzi’s Panthers have been slightly above average with a season-high win total of 8. Last season, Narduzzi shocked all of college football when his Panthers beat previously unbeaten Miami in the final game of the regular season. Can Narduzzi build momentum off of that historic win?

11.Virginia – Bronco Mendenhall

The record may not show it, but Bronco Mendenhall has made significant strides with Virginia. Winning has not exactly been part of the program with their last winning season coming in 2011. Mendenhall built a very respectable program at BYU with 11 straight trips to bowl games. Year 1 was a learning year for Mendenhall and the Cavaliers, which resulted in 2 wins. However, the Cavs shocked a lot of people last year as they not only tallied 6 wins but reached a bowl game. Let’s see what Mendenhall can do in Year 3 with the program.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

College Football: Top 5 Teams Likely To Disappoint In 2018

If your college football team is not coached by Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, or Dabo Swinney, there’s a good chance that things may not go your way in 2018. I’m talking about disappointing seasons. There are bound to be quite a few teams that will have sour tastes in their mouth come December. It’s inevitable.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 teams that are likely to disappoint in 2018.

#5 Michigan

This hurts to write because I am a big Jim Harbaugh fan, but his three seasons have been a letdown for Michigan fans. It’s hard to say a coach underachieved with two 10 win season in his first three years, but for a coach to be making over $7 million a year, Big 10 titles and wins over Ohio State are a necessity and so far neither of those accomplishments have happened. This will be Harbaugh’s best chance to silence the critics thanks to Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, who is easily the best quarterback that Harbaugh has had in his tenure at Ann Arbor. However, for Michigan to rise to the top of the Big 10, they will need to beat Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State. Maybe they can beat one, but all three? It’s just not happening especially with trips to East Lansing and Columbus. Until that happens, I can’t bet on Michigan.

#4 Florida State

The talent is there. Running back Cam Akers is a Heisman hopeful. Quarterback Deondre Francois is healthy after missing almost the entire 2017 season. The team is young and full of potential. Despite the talent, Jimbo Fisher took his talents to Texas A&M. He had five straight years of 10+ wins at one point as well as a National Championship victory. Taking over for Fisher is Willie Taggart, who bolted from Oregon after one year. I have no idea how to judge Taggart because this is only his second year as a head coach at a Power 5 school. Can he handle the pressure and live up to the lofty expectations? Clemson is still the king of the ACC and Miami is closing in on them. Florida State is not better than those two teams right now, so they will have their work cut out to stay above the middle of the ACC.

#3 Florida

Staying in the Sunshine State, let’s go to Gainesville to talk about the Gators. First-year coach Dan Mullen inherits a team from a year ago that had no energy and was flat out inept on the offensive side of the ball. Their super “vanilla” offense finished #101 in the nation during McElwain’s last year. I expect Mullen’s knows he has to spread it out and score a lot of points. With questions at quarterback and on the offensive line, it will take a while for Mullen to find his next Dak Prescott to revitalize the Gators. The strength of the team will be the secondary lead by the ballhawks at corner, CJ Henderson, and Marco Wilson. The season is already off to a rocky start as six players face potential discipline after a confrontation with “Tay Bang” that involved airlift guns and a frying pan. I’m not kidding. Mullen will turn Florida around, but not this year.

Pages: 1 2

College Football: Big XII Coaching Power Rankings 2018

Lincoln Riley

Who is #1 in the Big XII Coaching Power Rankings?

Welcome to the Big XII, where offense thrives, and defenses die. If you like points, this is the conference for you. If you like defense, you might as well turn off the game because it’s rarely played with the exception of TCU. Because of this, it can be hard to determine how the Big XII stacks up against other conferences like the Big 10, Pac-12, ACC and SEC if one side of the ball is, for the most part, neglected. However, the top of the conference is loaded with teams like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU who regularly compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

ICYMI:

Pac-12 Coaching Power Rankings

Big Ten Coaching Power Rankings

Can Lincoln Riley take the Sooners to its third playoff trip? Can Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy lead their teams to the promised land? Let’s take a look at the coaching power rankings for the Big XII.

10. Kansas – David Beaty

Without a doubt, the Big XII program that believes in their coach the most is Kansas. Am I crazy? No, and here’s why. Name one coach in America that can go 0-12 and 2-10 in back-to-back seasons and still earn a contract extension. I’ll name that coach for you. It’s David Beaty. All the credit in the world to this guy for keeping his job despite having a record of 3-33 (!!!) in three years. You can’t help but root for Coach Beaty. The only way to go is up so best of luck to Coach Beaty. Rock chalk!

9. Baylor – Matt Rhule

Matt Rhule is a brave man for taking the Baylor job. He inherited a toxic situation at the university and surrounding the football team in the wake of the allegations under Art Briles tenure as head coach. While Rhule deserves a long leash, he likely won’t get one. The Rhule won 10 games at Temple twice, which is remarkable in itself. The Baylor Bears fan base will be looking for that same success. They are accustomed to 10+ win seasons and won’t settle for excuses. Rhule must drastically improve on his 1-11 record in Waco. Otherwise, his seat temperature will go from cool to inferno very quickly.

8. Texas Tech – Kliff Kingsbury

Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech can be described with one word: disappointing. He is 30-33 overall, and 6-12 in the Big XII over the last two seasons. But why hasn’t this worked? Kingsbury knows how to develop quarterbacks cc: Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes. The program loves Kingsbury because he was a legendary quarterback for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech lights up the scoreboard every week. Why is this not working again? Oh, that’s right. Texas Tech is allergic to defense. Two years ago, Kingsbury’s Red Raiders allowed a mind-blowing 554.3 yards per game, which was easily last in the Big XII. However, the defense made some strides last year, and “only” gave up 443 yards per game. The good news is will most of their starters for the upcoming season. If they can improve on the defensive side, even more, Texas Tech will be a dark horse to make the conference title game.

7. Iowa State – Matt Campbell

Iowa State, enjoy Matt Campbell for now because the NFL and college football bluebloods will be knocking on his door soon. That’s how coveted Campbell will be. In two years in Ames, Ames has turned Iowa State into a highly respected team in the Big XII. There are no more guaranteed wins when teams see Iowa State on the schedule. Last season Campbell led the Cyclones to 8 wins, the program’s highest win total since 2000. If he keeps the momentum growing from last year, watch out. Iowa State should be fighting in the top half of the conference all year.

Pages: 1 2 3

College Football: Big-10 Coach Power Rankings 2018

Without a doubt, the Big Ten Conference has the best college football coaches in the FBS. From top to bottom, the conference has some of the most respected and talented coaches in the nation. There is a clear cut #1 for the best coach in the Big Ten, but you can make plenty of convincing arguments for #2 to #7. The talent pool is loaded.

Is this the year that a Big Ten school not named Ohio State wins the College Football Playoff? In preparation for the upcoming season, here are the coaching rankings for the Big Ten.

14. Illinois – Lovie Smith

Smith has had no love whatsoever since his return to the college game. Smith took the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl but has only managed to win five games in 2 years. The Fighting Illini were extremely short on talent, and a winning culture when Lovie arrived. So his principal job has been teaching his guys how to win and get more talent. Illinois just landed the third-ranked quarterback in the Class of 2019, Isaiah Williams. If the Illini can make improvements this year, with Williams coming in 2019, things could be on the upswing for Smith.

13. Tom Allen – Indiana

When you think of the Indiana Hoosiers, basketball, basketball, and more basketball comes to mind. Football? Not so much. Coach Tom Allen is in his second full season with the Hoosiers and will look to bolster its struggling defense. Although Indiana was 5-7 last year, the Hoosiers lost in overtime to Michigan and lost to Michigan State by 8. Only time will tell if the football program can get as much notoriety as the basketball program.

12. Chris Ash – Rutgers

Rutgers used to be at the top of the Big East with Greg Schiano coaching guys like Ray Rice, and Brian Leonard. However, Rutgers has been anything but good the past two seasons, with records of 2-10 and 4-8. The good news is Chris Ash seems to be doing the right things at Rutgers to stop the bleeding. Although it was only 4 wins last year, it was an improvement from the previous season. Ash won a national championship as co-defensive coordinator Ohio State so look for him trying to transfer some of that magic to the Scarlett Knights.

11. DJ Durkin – Maryland

Maryland and coach DJ Durkin came into the 2017 season with an optimistic attitude and that translated to an opening week upset win over Texas. However, injuries derailed the season as the Terps faded quickly. Despite the woes, Maryland has high hopes for 2018 thanks to Durkin’s successful recruiting campaign, which has the 28th recruiting class on 247Sports Composite Team Rankings. Expect Maryland to make a Bowl game in 2018.

Pages: 1 2 3 4