Masher's Sports Blog
2013-2014 Bowl Predictions

image

Well the wild 2013 College Football regular season has finally come to a close. As usual the season did not disappoint. We saw some of the wilder endings in consecutive games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. We saw the emergence of young stars such as Jameis Winston, Tre Mason, Bryce Petty, Andre Williams and many more. We had seasons, derailed by injuries and upsets, well it is College Football. It is now Bowl season and the last ever BCS Bowl games before the College Football Playoff Begins next year. Here are my Bowl Predictions for this years games.

New Mexico Bowl: Washington St. (6-6) vs. Colorado St. (7-6)

Both teams are returning to postseason play after long absences. This is the first bowl game for Washington St. since 2003 and the first for Colorado St. since 2008. The emergence of RB Kapri Bibbs has helped lead the Rams to a seven win season, he leads the FBS with 28 touchdowns. On the other side Connor Halliday leads Mike Leach’s Air-Raid offense. This game will be interesting and high-scoring.

Washington St. 35 Colorado St. 31


Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno St. (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)

Fresno St. had higher aspirations a few weeks ago until David Fales out dueled Derek Carr to end the undefeated season. Nonetheless, Head Coach Tim DeRuyter’s team had an excellent season. Derek Carr has thrown for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns this season. This offense can be too much for USC to handle. On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs secondary is one of the worst and how will they matchup with WRs Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor. What an up and down season for USC. After last year’s free fall, Lane Kiffin came in on a short leash, and after getting dominated by Arizona St. he was fired. Ed Orgeron was named interim coach and he revitalized the team that was down in dumps. He lead them to a 5-2 record after Kiffin got the boot including a huge win over Stanford. Recently, AD Pat Haden hired Steve Sarkisian to be the next head coach. Orgeron did not like that Haden did not offer him the job and he quickly resigned. The secondary for USC will need to play his best game of the year to keep the Trojans’ hopes alive. Clay Helton will be the interim coach for this game. I think that will be the difference maker in this game.

USC 45 Fresno St. 42


Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St. (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-4)

This will be Buffalo’s second ever bowl appearance. The Bulls finished second in the MAC East. LB Khalil Mack is the heart and soul of that defense and if he can slow down San Diego St RB Adam Muema the Bulls will have a chance to win this game. On the other side San Diego St. is making their fourth-straight bowl appearance. Will experience be the difference maker in this game? I think it will be the running game of Buffalo RB Brandon Oliver and the Khalil Mack led defense that boasts a number 10 rating in red zone defense.

Buffalo 28 San Diego St. 17


New Orleans Bowl: Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)

Louisiana-Lafayette is going for their third straight victory in this bowl game. QB Terrence Broadway is having another solid season for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Both teams are from Louisiana and Tulane actually plays their home games in the Superdome. They have a 5-1 record in the Superdome this year but this is a different type of game. Ragin’ Cajuns get their three-peat.

Louisiana-Lafayette 28 Tulane 10


Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-2)

Shane Carden has led ECU to a 9-3 record. He has thrown for over 3800 yards and 32 TDs. The Pirates are coming off a blowout loss to Marshall. Ohio is led by Tyler Tettleton. The dual-threat QB has led the Bobcats to two straight bowl victories. In the end I think the 10th rated scoring offense for the Pirates is too much for the Bobcats.

East Carolina 41 Ohio 27

Hawaii Bowl: Boise St. (8-4) vs. Oregon St. (6-6)

Boise St. will be playing their first game without head coach Chris Petersen left to coach the University of Washington. Can interim coach Bob Gregory get the Broncos ready? On the other side, the Beavers have lost five straight games including a crushing loss to the Ducks in the Civil War. The duo of Mannion and Cooks are going to give the Bronco secondary fits. The combination of Grant Hedrick and Joe Southwick need to challenge the Beavers defense. This game is a toss-up to me but I will give the edge to Mike Riley.

Oregon St. 28 Boise St. 21

Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)

Pittsburgh barely got to six wins in their first year in the ACC. Pitt has had trouble running the ball which has put the load on QB Tom Savage to throw the ball all over the field. The key player for Pitt is Nagurski winner DT Aaron Donald if he can slow down Matt Johnson and the Falcons the Panthers have a chance. Bowling Green caused some BCS havoc when the upset Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship game. The Falcons are riding a five game win streak and their defense have allowed the fifth fewest points in the FBS. The Falcons should be able to handle the Panthers.

Bowling Green 24 Pitt 14

Poinsetta Bowl: Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Utah State (8-5)

The Utah State Aggies season took a big hit when QB Chuckie Keeton went down, but true freshman QB Darell Garretson has stepped up and kept the Aggies afloat. The true testament of the Aggies is there seventh ranked defense. Jordan Lynch and the Huskies were eyeing a return trip to a BCS bowl game but a MAC Championship game loss to Bowling Green derailed it all. Lynch is one of the most underrated players in all of College Football and he will torment the Aggies.

Northern Illinois 31 Utah St. 17

Military Bowl: Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5)

Rakeem Kato and the Thundering Herd are coming off a loss to Rice in the C-USA Championship game which ended their five-game winning streak. Kato led the explosive Thundering Herd offense that averaged 53.8 points a game with over 3500 yards and 36 TDs. Maryland had to battle injuries after their 4-0 start. QB CJ Brown is one of the better dual-threat QBs in the country when he is healthy. It is the Terrapins first bowl game since 2010. I believe Kato and the ‘Herd will be too much for the Terps.

Marshall 38 Maryland 27

Texas Bowl: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Syracuse (6-6)

Another ACC newcomer in Syracuse became bowl-eligible the last weekend of the season when they defeated Boston College. Syracuse had a rocky season. QB Drew Allen was benched after throwing too many picks and Terrel Hunt has taken over and done a nice job. Minnesota have road the emotions of coach Jerry Kill and his health issues. DT Ra’Shede Hageman has lead the stout Golden Gopher defense that have kept them in games. Hageman and the defense will be the difference makers for the Golden Gophers in this game.

Minnesota 21 Syracuse 10

Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU (8-4) vs. Washington Huskies (8-4)

Another team with an interim coach the Huskies are playing this game under interim coach Marques Tuiasosopo before Chris Petersen takes over the reins. Husky RB Bishop Sankey is one of the most talented backs in the country. The Husky defense continued to improve each game. BYU is led by QB Taysom Hill who has lead the BYU attack. The Cougars defense is also impressive led by OLB Kyle Van Noy. The battle of the game will be Sankey vs. Van Noy. I have to go with the seasoned coach of the interim coach and again in Mendenhall over Tuiasosopo.

BYU 35 Washington 25

Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers (6-6) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

What a tale of two seasons for Notre Dame, last year unbeaten and a national championship berth then this year QB Everett Golson was dismissed for the team. Notre Dame had many different playmakers step up to win big games against Arizona State, USC, and Michigan State. Rutgers had a disappointing season as well. Last year they shared the Big East Championship, but this year finished .500. The QB issue at Rutgers will be a problem for the Knights.

Notre Dame 31 Rutgers 10

Belk Bowl: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6)

North Carolina came into the season slow starting 1-5 and when QB Brynn Renner went down with an injury people in Chapel Hill thought the season was over but replacement Marqiuse Williams stepped up nicely. Look for TE Eric Ebron to have another great game. Cincinnati also faced a season ending injury to their starting QB. QB Munchie Legaux suffered a gruesome leg injury. QB Brendon Kay has led the Bearcats to a solid season. Kay is a warrior and will leave everything on the field in his last game.

Cincinnati 24 North Carolina 21

Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville (11-1) vs. Miami (9-3)

QB Teddy Bridgewater will face off against the school he almost attended in this one. Will this be Bridgewater’s last game as a Louisville Cardinal? Bridgewater and the Cardinals had their sights set on a potential BCS berth at the start of the season but UCF derailed those hopes. Although Louisville’s schedule was not very tough Charlie Strong’s team is very talented. Miami started the season 7-0 but ran into a wall in Jameis Winston and the Seminoles. QB Stephen Morris will have his work cut out for him against this Louisville defense.

Louisville 38 Miami 28

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas St. (7-5)

Kansas St. started their season with a loss to defending FCS Champion North Dakota St. After a 2-4 start Bill Snyder to a two quarterback system with Daniel Sams and Jake Waters. Since the change, the Wildcats have gone 5-1. Michigan started the season as the team that was going to challenge Ohio St. QB Devin Gardner struggled early on then found his stride. Then they went to East Lansing and got dominated by the Spartans. In their season finale the Wolverines fought the Buckeyes in probably their best game of the season falling to Ohio St. after failing to convert on a two-point conversion. This bowl game will depend on which Michigan team shows up, the one that struggled or the one that played Ohio St.

Michigan 34 Kansas St. 31

Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee St. (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4)

The Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee St. finished 8-4 for a second consecutive season behind the arm of senior QB Logan Kilgore. In his career Kilgore has thrown for nearly 7,700 yards and 53 touchdowns. Look for a steady air attack and the Navy defense. Everyone knows what they are going to see from Navy, the triple-option. QB Keenan Reynolds has been the perfect leader for that offense. He needs to play a smart mistake free game for Navy to win this game.

Middle Tennessee St. 45 Navy 30

Music City Bowl: Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5)

Georgia Tech has had a solid rebuilding year. QB Vad Lee has had another impressive season as he is the leader of the sixth ranked rushing offense. Tech needs to respond after their demoralizing loss to Georgia. Ole Miss started the season with a bang with a wild win over Vanderbilt. Coach Hugh Freeze has the program on the rise. The Rebels have solid young talent in WR Laquon Treadwell and DE Robert Nkimdiche. They too need to respond from a demoralizing loss to bitter rival Mississippi St. I think QB Bo Wallace will be the difference maker in this game. If he plays his game the Rebels will win.

Ole Miss 27 Georgia Tech 21

Alamo Bowl: Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4)

Story lines galore in this game. This is Mack Brown’s last game as the head coach of Texas and that will absolutely play a role in the way the Longhorns play the game. RB Malcolm Brown will be key for the Longhorns as Oregon has had trouble stopping the run in the past few weeks. Texas has had a lot of defensive struggles as well. With Jackson Jeffcoat and the defense be able to stop Oregon? We shall see. Oregon started the season 8-0. They seemed to be on the course to the title game. An injury to QB Marcus Mariota derailed the Ducks season as did a loss to Stanford when nothing seemed to go right for the Ducks until the last seven minutes. The Ducks were given new life when USC upset Stanford but played a terrible game at Arizona and were upset. Senior WR Josh Huff will be the x-factor in this game. He played his heart out in the hard fought Civil War victory and playing in his home state for his last ever game as a Duck will pay dividends for the Ducks.

Oregon 49 Texas 28

Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona St. (10-3)

Another successful season for Todd Graham’s Sun Devils. QB Taylor Kelly lead this team to new heights. That defense is ferocious as well. DT Will Sutton and DE Carl Bradford are both talented players that will torment the Red Raiders offense. In his first season at Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsburry brought back the Air Raid attack that he played in under Mike Leach. He found his gunslinger in Walk-On Freshman QB Baker Mayfield. The Red Raiders started 7-0 but have lost the last five. There has been a slew of QBs to play this year including Davis Webb and Michael Brewer but the QB that gives them the best chance to win this game is Mayfield. Expect a lot of points in this game.

Arizona St. 49 Texas Tech 45

V100 Bowl: Boston College (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)

This game will be feature two of the most talented RBs in the country in Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Boston College’s Andre Williams. For Boston College, Williams led the way. He was the top rusher in the FBS this year surpassing 2,000 yards and scoring 17 TDs. That earned Williams a trip to NYC as a Heisman Trophy finalist. Steve Addazio really turned this program around in his first season as the coach of the Eagles. The peak of the season for the Arizona Wildcats was when QB B.J. Denker and Carey torched Oregon en route to a 42-16 upset. Everything was clicking that day for the Cats. Their defense is vastly improved and will need to stop Williams. The two RBs will take center stage at this game.

Arizona 31 Boston College 24

Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)

Another year for Virginia Tech and another year of “Beamer Ball.” The Hokies offense was not very efficient but their defense is one of the best in the country. When QB Logan Thomas makes plays he is effective and the Hokies are dangerous. The key for the Hokies in this game is to get Thomas rolling and force Hundley into mistakes. Another solid season for Jim Mora Jr. and the UCLA Bruins. QB Brett Hundley is the perfect QB for Mora as he leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage. The only issue with the Bruins O-Line is the amount of shakeups its seen. On defense the LB core of Anthony Barr, Myles Jack, and Eric Kendricks are all playmakers and will give Thomas and the Hokie offense fits.

UCLA 24 Virginia Tech 21

Liberty Bowl: Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi St. (6-6)

The Rice Owls come into this game as the champions of the C-USA after beating Marshall handedly. The Owls are lead by seniors QB Taylor McHargue and RB Charles Ross. They will come ready to play. The Bulldogs are riding high on emotion after a wild victory in the Egg Bowl. QB Dak Prescott has been the signal caller Dan Mullen needed. All six of the Bulldogs losses came to teams currently ranked in the Top 25.

Mississippi St. 20 Rice 17

Chick Fil-A Bowl: Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Duke (10-3)

What a remarkable season by Duke. Coach David Cutcliffe has really turned this program around. A 10 win season for the Blue Devils and a Coastal Division title those are incredible feats for Duke Football. QBs Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone will need to come up huge for the Dukies to have a chance in this one. The Legend of Johnny Football may be coming to an end after this game. Johnny Manziel had another remarkable season. Manziel and WR Mike Evans have become one of the top QB-WR Duos in the country. Look for them to try and light up the Blue Devil defense.

Texas A&M 34 Duke 20

Gator Bowl: Georgia (8-4) vs. Nebraska (8-4)

It has been a wild ride for the Cornhuskers this season. It all began when they let UCLA come back and defeat them in Lincoln. Then they lost QB Taylor Martinez to a leg injury. Ron Kellogg III has stepped up quite nicely to keep the Huskers afloat. Can he lead them to a victory over the Bulldogs. I thought Georgia would be Pasadena bound at the beginning of the season but a slew of injuries to the Bulldogs derailed that. The Bulldogs have rode RB Todd Gurley. Look for Gurley to have a big day.

Georgia 28 Nebraska 24

Dallas Bowl: North Texas (8-4) vs. UNLV (7-5)

What a turnaround for the UNLV Rebels. After going 2-11 last year to 7-5 this year, the Rebels are riding a three-game win streak into this bowl game. They will need another big game from QB Caleb Herring to do that. North Texas have also had a stellar turnaround season. The Mean Green are all about being “mean” on the defensive side of the ball as they rank number nine in the nation. Defense and Special Teams will be the difference in this game.

North Texas 21 UNLV 7

Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin (9-3) vs. South Carolina (10-2)

The run of three straight Rose Bowls for the Badgers was finally snapped but the Badgers had another successful season. The matchup of the game will be the RB duo of the Badgers Melvin Gordon and James White vs. Jadeveon Clowney. QB Joel Stave will need to manage the game and find his stride for the Badgers to win this one. South Carolina had high expectations for the season and if it wasn’t for a downright terrible performance against Tennessee they would have played Auburn in the SEC title. RB Mike Davis needs to be effective for the Gamecocks to win.

Wisconsin 27 South Carolina 24

Outback Bowl: LSU (9-3) vs. Iowa (8-4)

LSU was the only team to beat Auburn this season. An injury to QB Zach Mettenberger changes the dynamic of the LSU offense. Mettenberger was having one of his best seasons. Mettenberger replacement Anthony Jennings has filled in quite nicely. The LSU defense was ferocious as always. Look for the defense to set up opportunities for Jennings. The Hawkeyes boast a top 20 defense and are looking to cap their impressive season with a huge victory over LSU. RB Mark Weisman leads a physical attack that will look to dictate the game. I think LSU matches up nicely to counter the physical attack of Iowa.

LSU 27 Iowa 20

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma St. (10-2) vs. Missouri (11-2)

This matchup is an old Big 12 matchup. Oklahoma St. was a win away from winning the Big 12 but Bedlam happened. QB Clint Chelf really took hold of the offense and the Cowboys had an incredible season. The defense lead by CB Justin Gilbert is the best under Gundy. If Chelf can perform against the Missouri defense it will be a long day for the Tigers. What a year two in the SEC for Missouri. They won the East and fell to Auburn in the SEC title game. QB James Franklin had a great year and the Missouri offense has an identity with the likes of RB Henry Josey and WR Dorial Green-Beckham. The Missouri WR core is matchup problem for everyone. Their defense is ferocious as well lead by DEs Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. The defense for Missouri will be the difference that leads the Tigers to victory.

Missouri 34 Oklahoma St. 28

BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. Houston (8-4)

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is one of the best in the country. He has given Vanderbilt football an identity. The QB-WR Duo of Austyn Carta-Samuels and Jordan Matthews are dynamic. They also have a defense ranked number 19 in the country. Vandy will be ready to play. Houston leads the nation in turnover margin at +25. The Cougars defense will need to stop the balanced Vandy attack to stay in this game.

Vanderbilt 23 Houston 21

GoDaddy Bowl: Ball St. (10-2) vs. Arkansas St. (7-5)

The Red Wolves of Arkansas St. won a share of the Sun Belt title. QB Adam Kennedy has done a fine job replacing Ryan Aplin who left school to graduation. The Red Wolves average 414.2 yards a game on average. So expect them to move the ball and score. The Cardinals of Ball St. are lead by QB Keith Weinning who threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 34 TDs. Weinning is the key to the game.

Ball St. 35 Arkansas St. 27

imageBCS BOWL GAMES

imageStanford (11-2) vs. Michigan St. (12-1)

For the 100th Rose Bowl how about a good old-fashioned smash mouth football game between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten. Stanford and Michigan St. are almost carbon copies of each other. For Stanford, a second consecutive Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl appearance. Stanford got their chances to flex their muscle and they didn’t disappoint. The Cardinal dominated Oregon and manhandled Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game. RB Tyler Gaffney was the perfect replacement to Stepfan Taylor who left for the NFL. WR Ty Montgomery has become a real weapon for QB Kevin Hogan. LB Shayne Skov and that Stanford defense is as talented as ever. Michigan St. has quite possibly the best defense in the country. DE Shilique Calhoun and DB Darqueze Dennard highlight the incredible Spartan defense. Mark Dantonio’s team won games with defense to begin the season then the offense under QB Connor Cook really found its stride. The emergence of RB Jeremy Langford has been vital to that. This will be a good old-fashioned football game with the team with the better defense winning. 

Michigan St. 24 Stanford 21

image Baylor (11-1) vs. UCF (11-1)

What an impressive season for Baylor. Art Briles finally had a complete team and they played incredible football. The offense that averaged 53.3 points and 624.5 yards a game is lead by QB Bryce Petty who emerged as one of the better dual-threat QBs in the nation. RB Lache Seastrunk was a force in the backfield as well. The reason this team reached these new heights was that the defense was just as effective as the offense. DB Ahmad Dixon brought a physical aspect that the defense didnt have and the team followed. UCF derailed Louisville’s perfect season and shot at a BCS game when they came from behind to beat the Cardinals in Louisville. QB Blake Bortles is one of the most underrated players in college football. He will have his chance to shine on a big stage on New Year’s Day and expect him to perform. Along with RB Storm Johnson, the Golden Knights offense will score. Bortles vs. Petty is going to be fun to watch. UCF will put up a fight and may even pull off the upset but I think Baylor is too talented.

Baylor 49 UCF 38

image Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)

Oklahoma ruined their bitter rival’s BCS hopes with a great drive in the last minute by QB Blake Bell that resulted in a Jalen Saunders TD. RB Brennan Clay has been a solid back for the Sooner offense. Bob Stoops has another chance to perform on a big stage. Stoops is 3-5 in BCS Bowl games. I am sure the Alabama players are tired of seeing the highlight of the Chris Davis taking the missed FG back to defeat the Tide and end their hopes for a third straight title. If there is any coach I would want preparing my team for a bowl game it would be Nick Saban. QB AJ McCarron knows how to win games and he is starting to make big plays like the 99-yard TD to Amari Cooper in the Iron Bowl. I feel the will of Alabama will be too much for Oklahoma.

Alabama 38 Oklahoma 17

imageClemson (10-2) vs. Ohio St. (11-1)

Another solid season for the Clemson Tigers. The season started with a huge victory over Georgia. Then they ran into a wall that was Florida St. Tahj Boyd had a great senior season. With the help of WR Sammy Watkins they look to stretch out the Buckeye defense. Urban Meyer had his Buckeyes one win away from a trip to Pasadena but they met Michigan St. The Spartans dominated Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller and RB Carlos Hyde need to have huge games to keep Clemson on the ropes. 

Ohio St. 49 Clemson 42

image Florida St. (13-0) vs. Auburn (12-1)

What a miraculous turnaround season for Auburn under Gus Malzahn. Malzahn took a team that went 3-9 just a season ago and lead them to a 12-1 season. QB Nick Marshall and RB Tre Mason are huge reasons for that. Both of them are great fits for Malzahn’s offense. Miraculous doesn’t even seem to describe the two back-to-back finishes at Jordan-Hare this year. First the Hail Mary to Louis then the Chris Davis runback. Auburn seems like a team of destiny and will lady luck bring them another National Title? Florida St. started the season 5-0 without a true statement win. Then QB Jameis “Famous Jameis” Winston lead the Seminoles into Death Valley and purely dominated the Clemson Tigers. From then on, we all knew Florida St. was for real. Famous Jameis had an incredible season that earned him the Heisman Trophy. The defense for the Seminoles is lead by DB Lamarcus Joyner. That defense will have its hands full. Expect a high-scoring affair in the last ever BCS National Championship Game with……….

Florida St. winning. 

Florida St. 49 Auburn 35

uopitcrew:

By Matt Asher, Pit Crew Sports Media Freelance Network

image

This summer, Oregon sophomore Cheridan Hawkins represented the 2013 Junior USA National Team in Ontario, Canada for the Jr. Women’s World Softballl Championships.

Before the tournament began on July 1,…

Why This Could Be One of The More Intriguing Heisman Races In Years Past

image

The first game of the College Football season is not until August 29th but the buzz and predictions about the season are already coming in flurries. The most prestigious award in all of College Football is the Heisman Trophy. The past three winners Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M (2012), Robert Griffin III QB Baylor (2011), and Cam Newton QB Auburn (2010) were all for sure winners. I have a good feeling that this year will be different. There are many quality contenders and a few dark horses to think about. This Heisman race will be sure not to disappoint.

Last year the Heisman was between Manziel, QB Collin Klein from Kansas St., and LB Manti Te’o from Notre Dame. Manziel burst on to the scene excelling in coach Kevin Sumlin’s high-powered offense. The redshirt freshman completed 60% of his passes for 3,706 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. Then on the ground he rushed for 1409 yards and 21 touchdowns. He accounted for 47 touchdowns. His Heisman moment came when he led his Aggie team into Tuscaloosa, Alabama and defeated the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide 29-24. He completed a 24-yd pass to Malcome Kennedy to give the Aggies a 29-17 lead. The defense intercepted AJ McCarron on 4th & Goal with only two minutes left to seal the victory. Manziel went 24/31 with 253 yards and 2TDs and adding 92 yards on the ground. The Heisman was his from that point on.

Two years it was Andrew Luck the QB from Stanford as the frontrunner before the season but then came Robert Griffin III. He led Baylor to a 10-3 record and an Alamo Bowl victory over Washington. Griffin completed 72.4% of passes for 4,293 yards with 37 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He added 699 yards on the ground along with 10 touchdowns. Just like Manziel he accounted for 47 of his team’s touchdowns. Griffin was Baylor’s first Heisman winner in the school’s history. Griffin took a stranglehold on the Heisman Race when he went 518 pass attempts without throwing an interception in the first four weeks of the season ending midway through Baylor’s week five game against Kansas State. Andrew Luck had an impressive season as well but it was Baylor’s “Superman” winning the award.

Three years ago, Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers took the nation by storm on the way to a National Championship. Newton started his career at Florida but was kicked off the team due to some criminal activity. He then attended Blynn JC and led them to a Championship in his one year there before going to Auburn. Auburn entered the season unranked but behind Newton they played incredible football. In 2010 Newton completed 66% of his passes for 2,854 yards, 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Newton added 1,473 yards on the ground along with 20 touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He accounted for 51 touchdowns. Newton was a force and had the Heisman locked up for nearly most of the season.

All three of those winners were “dark-horses” none of them were talked about to win the Heisman that much before the season. In 2010, it was all about Alabama RB Mark Ingram (2009 winner). 2011 all the talk was about Stanford QB Andrew Luck (Finished 2nd in 2010). Last year all the talk was about USC QB Matt Barkley. Unfortunately for those three they did not win the trophy. Barkley and Ingram did not meet expectations. On the other hand Andrew Luck met the expectations but was outshined by Robert Griffin. The frontrunners in August and September aren’t always the frontrunners in November and December.(1)

So enough talk about the past lets look to this upcoming season. We will look at five frontrunners and three “dark horses”. The five frontrunners in my mind are 2012 winner Texas A&M Johnny Manziel, Ohio St. QB Braxton Miller, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, and Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. The three dark horse candidates in my mind are Alabama QB AJ McCarron, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, and USC WR Marqise Lee. All of the players mentioned are game changers and key players for their perspective teams and I would not be shocked if one of them ends the season with the hardware.

Lets start with the frontrunners. Of course the overall frontrunner has to be Manziel. As mentioned before his stats were impressive last year as a redshirt freshman. I am probably not the only one who is excited for his encore. But I wonder how teams will game plan for him after having a full season of tape on him. Manziel will have to adjust to teams ready for him and are prepared to shut him down.

Now lets take a look at Braxton Miller. I for one am shocked that he was not invited to New York last year. I think it was the sanctions against Ohio State that had to do with it. Nonetheless, Miller had an incredible season. He led the Buckeyes to an undefeated season (the only unbeaten in College Football last season). Miller completed 58.3% of his passes for 2,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He also ran for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns. Miller had to do a lot of things on his own last season. If he can continue with his strong play and if the Buckeye playmakers like Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith, and Carlos Hyde take some pressure off of him expect Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes to not only fight for a spot in the National Championship but another Heisman trophy may be on its way to Columbus as well.

Jadeveon Clowney is an absolute freak of nature (just ask Vincent Smith). He controls games on the defensive side of the ball. The Heisman trophy is normally for offensive players but Clowney can be the second defensive player ever to win the Heisman. Clowney terrorized backfields last season. He 40 solo tackles along with 13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles last season. Clowney is a game changer. He is the best defensive player in Division 1 and NFL teams are chomping at the bit for him to come out. Clowney will get a lot of Heisman hype all season long if his stats and performances are there. The last defensive player to be invited to New York as a Heisman finalist was DL Ndamukong Suh in 2009,that year Suh finished 4th in Heisman voting. Suh had 54 solo tackles, 12 sacks, 20.5 tackles for loss, along with 3 blocked kicks and punts. Look for Clowney to have another monster season and to be talked about for the Heisman trophy come December.

Tajh Boyd decided to stay in school for his senior year. That may turn out to be a great decision for the Clemson QB. Boyd had a tremendous junior season completing 67.2% of his passes for 3,896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He added 514 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Boyd’s big performance game against LSU in the Chik-Fil A Bowl. He went 36 for 40 with 346 yards and two touchdowns against that pesky LSU defense that produced six players drafted in the first three rounds of the draft. Boyd’s top target Sammy Watkins returns to school and he is another electrifying wide out. Boyd’s Heisman watch will start from Week 1 on when his Clemson Tigers host the Georgia Bulldogs. If Boyd can find a secondary target and the running game can continue to be strong after Andre Ellington’s departure Boyd may be the first Heisman winner in Clemson school history.

Last but not least is my last frontrunner Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota took over the high-powered Chip Kelly Ducks offense last year after the shocking departure of QB Darron Thomas to the NFL. With Mariota at the helm the Ducks didn’t seem to even lose a step. In fact, except for that one slip up against Stanford they looked more like a well-oiled machine. In his redshirt freshman campaign Mariota completed 68.5% of his passes for 32 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He added 752 yards on the ground and five touchdowns and one receiving touchdown as well. What makes Mariota so special is how he keeps his cool on the field nearly at all times. He improvises some incredible plays when he is under pressure. When he gets flushed out of the pocket he doesn’t seem to play worse he plays better and makes smart throws down the field. Even though Chip Kelly bolted for the NFL, don’t expect Mariota’s play to diminish. New Coach Mark Helfrich, Oregon’s offensive coordinator last year, has come out and said look for the Ducks to pass more this season. To be honest, why not? With Mariota at the helm, a great receiving core of Josh Huff, Bralon Addison, Colt Lyerla, and explosive De’Anthony Thomas the Ducks look in place to have another electrifying offensive season. If Mariota progresses and continues his great play an invite to New York would not be out of the question.

Now lets move on to the “dark horses.” All of these players I expect to have great seasons and be in the Heisman conversation late in the season. In all honesty these players can be in the conversation now. Let’s begin with Alabama QB AJ McCarron. McCarron led his Crimson Tide to a second consecutive BCS National Title. McCarron completed 67.2% of his passes throwing 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions. McCarron is a great game manager and a good clutch QB. His first big clutch moment of the year was against LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tide were down 17-14 with 1:34 left in the game. McCarron completed three straight passes the Kevin Norwood for 18, 15, and 11 yards each. Then on 2nd and 10 from the LSU 28 he found TJ Yeldon on a screen pass and the rest is history, Alabama won the game 21-17. Then in the SEC Championship game against Georgia the Tide started the 4th Quarter down 21-18 with the ball at the goal line. Eddie Lacy scored to give the Tide the lead at 25-21. Andy Murray led the Georgia Bulldogs down the field and a Todd Gurley 10 yard score capped off the drive. The Bulldogs led 28-25. With 5:24 left McCarron launched a bomb to WR Amari Cooper for a 45-yard touchdown to give the Tide a 32-28 lead. The Alabama defense sealed the victory. McCarron has already had the Heisman moments. Let’s see if McCarron’s senior swan song can end with a third consecutive National Title for Alabama and a Heisman Trophy.

Another stellar QB is Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater led the Louisville Cardinals to an 11-2 record capped of with a Sugar Bowl win over the Florida Gators 33-23. Bridgewater was phenomenal in his sophomore season completing 68.5% of his passes for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The Cardinals have a very easy schedule and a great QB. Bridgewater can lead the Cardinals to a second consecutive BCS bowl berth. Bridgewater may also be the best NFL Prospect at QB. Look for him to lead the Cardinals through an easy schedule with stellar numbers. Bridgewater may already have a ticket to New York on hold.

Now let’s talk about the best receiver in College Football, USC WR Marqise Lee. Lee is so talented and fast he strikes fear into defenses. With Robert Woods gone, the new USC QB either Max Witter or freshman Max Browne will look to Lee as a primary target. Last season Lee caught 118 balls for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. He added a kick return touchdown as well. He averaged 132 yard receiving per game. Lee is always a threat to score. He had four games with two or more touchdowns. He also had a game where he caught 16 balls for 345 yards and two touchdowns (@ Arizona). Lee is a rare receiving talent. He will have a lot of pressure on him this season with the first new USC QB in the last four years not named Barkley. Lee needs to handle the pressure of being a primary target and still play at a high level to get an invite to New York.

 All seven of these players are great athletes. All seven of them can win the Heisman. But here are some other names to look out for to make some Heisman Buzz and maybe even get invited to New York. Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas, Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk, Northern Illinois QB Jordan Lynch, UCLA QB Brett Hundley, and Northwestern RB Venric Mark all have the potential to crash the Heisman party. The Heisman trophy is the most coveted award in all of College Football I know the award is not announced until December but there is no harm in talking about it now. College Football is now only 59 days away and I for one cannot be more excited for this upcoming season.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

Also posted at SBNation Everyday Should Be Saturday http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/2013/7/3/4491246/why-this-could-be-one-of-the-more-intriguing-heisman-races-in-years

(1)Past Heisman Predictions based off of Yahoo and BleacherReport Articles

All Stats Courtesy of ESPN.com

Why the NFC West Will Be the Best Division in Football in 2013

        Look how far this division has come. Let’s look back three years ago to 2010. On a gloomy Sunday Night in Seattle the St. Louis Rams (7-8) and Seattle Seahawks (6-9) battled for the division title on National television. The Seahawks won the game 16-6. The Seahawks then “upset” the New Orleans Saints in overtime. The Saints had the better record but the Seahawks won the West so they had home-field advantage. Let’s move on to 2011. The division was up for grabs and the 49ers took control. QB Alex Smith led the 49ers to 13-3 record and a NFC title appearance before losing to the New York Giants 20-17 in OT. Last season we saw the emergence of QBs Collin Kaepernick (San Francisco) and Russell Wilson (Seattle). Both QBs led their teams to the playoffs. Kaepernick and the 49ers fell just short of winning the Super Bowl after a great goal-line stand by the Baltimore Ravens. This past off-season the most noise came from the NFC West. All four teams made some solid improvements. The 49ers added WR Anquan Boldin, along with re-signing a lot of their players and an impressive draft haul due to a whopping 11 selections. The Seahawks added another weapon to the offense in Percy Harvin and added to their defense in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to beef up their defensive line. The Rams added OL Jake Long and TE Jared Cook in Free Agency and moved up to draft WR Tavon Austin and moved back to draft LB Alec Ogletree in the first round to add so much needed talent on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals have a new coach in Bruce Arians, a new QB in Carson Palmer and they still have a stellar defense. Last year the division was very top heavy. San Francisco went 11-4-1, Seattle went 11-5, St. Louis went 7-8-1 and an impressive 4-1-1 in the division, and Arizona went 5-11.           

When you look at what each team added and the coaching staffs I see San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis all making the playoffs. San Francisco has a great young QB in Collin Kaepernick but teams will start to game plan better for him because they have had a lot of time to dissect tape. Their offense took a hit this off-season when they lost WR Michael Crabtree for the season but look for bigger roles from WRs  Mario Manningham and hoping the 2nd year AJ Jenkins can have some impact on the offense, and TE Vernon Davis. Their run game is dynamic with Frank Gore and the explosiveness of Collin Kaepernick (ask Green Bay, about what he did in the playoffs). But what makes the 49ers so special is their defense. Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith are perennial pro-bowlers and cause havoc for the QBs. Their one weakness on defense is their secondary. Their front seven is very strong but they are replacing safety Dashon Goldson with rookie Eric Reid. So we will see how they fair with a rookie safety. I predict the 49ers to go 11-5, 4-2 in the division and finish atop the NFC West. 

Let’s head up north to Seattle. The Seahawks added another weapon to an already dangerous offense by trading for Percy Harvin. He adds another deep threat to their roster. The key to the Seahawks offense is how teams game plan for Russell Wilson. Just like Kaepernick teams have had a full off-season to game plan for him so how he reacts is key. But Wilson is a film hound and studies film like a coach. He is a very smart QB so I don’t expect this to faze him that much. I believe Marshawn Lynch will have another good productive season. The defense will be tenacious. Richard Sherman is one of the top CBs in the NFL and he is hungry. The additions to the line make them stronger and Bobby Wagner will thrive in his second year. I predict Seattle will go 11-5, 3-3 in the division as well but lose the tiebreaker to the 49ers. 

Now let’s go to the Midwest where the Rams are looking to improve on the success they had in their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher took over the team after a 2-14 season and you quickly saw a different team starting in Week 1 when they pushed the Lions to the wire (The Lions were coming off their best season in recent years at that point). The Rams swept the 49ers last season going 1-0-1. Last year in the off-season the Rams focused on defense and this year it was to help out their young QB Sam Bradford. They signed TE Jared Cook and added OL Jake Long to protect his blind-side. The big key to the Rams offense is that this is the first time Sam Bradford is in the same system for consecutive seasons. In the draft the aggressive Rams offense jumped to the 8th overall pick to select WR Tavon Austin out of West Virginia. This kid is a flat-out playmaker. He adds a much-needed weapon to the Rams offense. The Rams have a solid core of young wide outs look for Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, and Brian Quick to all contribute and watch out for another rookie Stedman Bailey. The weakness in the Rams offense is the loss of RB Steven Jackson. Jackson was a Ram from 2004-2012 and was a workhorse back the Rams will need to replace him. The replacements as of now are the trio of 2nd year players Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead and rookie Zac Stacy. I think Stacy will break out be the starter and Pead and Richardson will be great complements to him. Defense is the staple of any Jeff Fisher team and last year the Rams defense was great. I only see them getting better. The addition of Alec Ogletree the rookie out of Georgia will shape up the linebacker core. The secondary I believe is one of the best in football. CBs Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins have the opportunity to be one of the best if not the best tandem in all of football. The weakness is the safety spot. The projected starters are Darian Stewart a third-year player and T.J. McDonald a rookie they took in the 3rd Round. Stewart was hurt most of last season but in his first year he showed signs of promise but has the tendencies to overrun plays at times. McDonald is a big, bruising safety that fits the mold of a Fisher safety. If he can mature like the Rams hope he can, he will solidify the spot for years to come. I predict the Rams to 10-6, 4-2 in the division and lock up the last wild card spot. 

The Cardinals are another strong team. Bruce Arians was the right man for the job. He adds an offensive mind to a team with lots of weapons on that side of the ball. The wildcard for this team is which Carson Palmer will show up. Carson Palmer is a Heisman Trophy winning QB but has not looked the same since his injury in 2005 playoffs. Hopefully throwing to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd helps him play better. The addition of RB Rashard Mendenhall is another moved that if he is healthy he will do wonders for their offense/ The defense is great with playmakers Patrick Peterson, Daryl Washington, and Darnell Dockett. If Tyrann Mathieu can remain out of trouble he adds another strong player to that defense. I feel the Cardinals are still a couple of years away from contending in this division but I would not be shocked in the slightest if they cause some trouble. I predict they will go 5-11, 1-5 in the division and look to draft a QB of the future in the next draft.

This will be the best division in the National Football League. With three teams in the playoffs don’t be surprised to see one of these teams hoisting the Lombardi trophy in New York this February. 

sports:

Oregon Basketball: Ducks Remain Red Hot and Continue Pac-12 Dominance
by Bryan Kalbrosky
Perhaps the most telling moment for No. 12 Oregon’s defeat of No. 5 Oklahoma State was when, in an attempt to put the Ducks at the free throw line, Oregon guard Jonathan Loyd raced around the team as if he were practicing a cone sprinting exercise.
No more than thirty seconds later, teammate Damyean Dotson followed suit and did the exact same thing: his quickness made Oklahoma State look not only sluggish in comparison, but wildly foolish and ill-prepared as well.   
Oregon plays like one of the fastest team in the nation. When the team came out of the gates fighting, they took early control of the March Madness matchup. Even the folks over at Nike Fuel noticed the impassioned play.
“Ducks got after it from the opening tip,” tweeted Nike Fuel.
The Oregon Ducks continued to control the tempo as the game went on, and the No. 12 Oregon Ducks went on to defeat the No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys in a convincing victory.

According to ESPN States & Info, the Oregon victory was the first time the Ducks had ever beaten a higher seen in the NCAA Tournament. But fans across the nation affirm that this was hardly an “upset” for the University of Oregon. I learned that if you even tweet the word, you would hear an earful from those who confirm that Oregon was indeed a better and more complete team than Oklahoma State in this tournament.
With the return of Dominic Artis, the team has finally been restored to order. In his absence, the tempo and offensive playmaking began to suffer. In his health, the team looked alive and thriving.
“Mr. Artis is playing like he’s been here before,” tweeted former Oregon star Aaron Brooks, who also had been there before having taken the Oregon Ducks to the Elite Eight in 2007.

The offensive speed was back on track with Artis, and with 13 points and 4 steals he looked limitless. With his presence, the future of the program looked bright even with E.J. Singler, Arsalan Kazemi, Carlos Emory and Tony Woods graduating at the end of the season.
“We wanted to be aggressive on the boards, we wanted to be aggressive defensively and we wanted to be aggressive offensively,” coach Dana Altman told CBS. “I thought our guys did a great job of that.” 
Artis set the tone, as Oregon acts as a developing program when they’re on the court together. By and large, this means that “knowing your role” plays a pivotal role in the cohesion of their offensive and defensive units. For Oregon, that means finding senior E.J. Singler for the open three. It means Tony Woods coming up with the pivotal and monstrous block. It means diversifying the scoring threats and allowing five players to score eight or more points in the game.
It also means continuing to get in the head of the opponent via a quick and consistent offensive tempo. If the Oregon team can take advantage of the opportunities created by the extreme defensive hustle and turnover creation, the Ducks will continue to thrive.
The most helpful aid for Oregon, however, was their unique ability to create opportunity via the art of the offensive rebound. Oregon pulled in 14, whereas Oklahoma State pulled in only four, two fewer than Oregon senior Arsalan Kazemi who recorded six in the game.
When Arsalan Kazemi comes prepared to play, Oregon looks nearly unbeatable.

In their first March Madness game since 2008, Kazemi was undoubtedly here to play. Kazemi recorded 17 total rebounds, one short of his career high, and continued a unique athleticism that could help solidify an opportunity at a potential NBA career. He will need to continue his incredible performance for Oregon to continue their magical run.
Oregon and Cal will both play in San Jose on Saturday afternoon.
In conjunction with the California Berkeley student section (“The Bench”) and the Oregon Pit Crew student section, the stands will be filled with a sea of gold and yellow to represent the Pac-12 conference and their collective rooting interest.
The No. 12 Oregon Ducks will play No. 4 St. Louis Billikens on Saturday at 4:10 PM. St. Louis averages only 32.8 rebounds per game (251st in nation), whereas Oregon averages 37.4 (52nd in nation).
If Kazemi can stay strong and play with outstanding purpose, Oregon could easily advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 
(Photos: Alex McDougall/Emerald)
Click here to follow @BryanKalbrosky on Twitter.

sports:

Oregon Basketball: Ducks Remain Red Hot and Continue Pac-12 Dominance

by Bryan Kalbrosky

Perhaps the most telling moment for No. 12 Oregon’s defeat of No. 5 Oklahoma State was when, in an attempt to put the Ducks at the free throw line, Oregon guard Jonathan Loyd raced around the team as if he were practicing a cone sprinting exercise.

No more than thirty seconds later, teammate Damyean Dotson followed suit and did the exact same thing: his quickness made Oklahoma State look not only sluggish in comparison, but wildly foolish and ill-prepared as well.   

Oregon plays like one of the fastest team in the nation. When the team came out of the gates fighting, they took early control of the March Madness matchup. Even the folks over at Nike Fuel noticed the impassioned play.

“Ducks got after it from the opening tip,” tweeted Nike Fuel.

The Oregon Ducks continued to control the tempo as the game went on, and the No. 12 Oregon Ducks went on to defeat the No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys in a convincing victory.

According to ESPN States & Info, the Oregon victory was the first time the Ducks had ever beaten a higher seen in the NCAA Tournament. But fans across the nation affirm that this was hardly an “upset” for the University of Oregon. I learned that if you even tweet the word, you would hear an earful from those who confirm that Oregon was indeed a better and more complete team than Oklahoma State in this tournament.

With the return of Dominic Artis, the team has finally been restored to order. In his absence, the tempo and offensive playmaking began to suffer. In his health, the team looked alive and thriving.

“Mr. Artis is playing like he’s been here before,” tweeted former Oregon star Aaron Brooks, who also had been there before having taken the Oregon Ducks to the Elite Eight in 2007.

(Alex McDougall/Emerald)

The offensive speed was back on track with Artis, and with 13 points and 4 steals he looked limitless. With his presence, the future of the program looked bright even with E.J. Singler, Arsalan Kazemi, Carlos Emory and Tony Woods graduating at the end of the season.

“We wanted to be aggressive on the boards, we wanted to be aggressive defensively and we wanted to be aggressive offensively,” coach Dana Altman told CBS. “I thought our guys did a great job of that.” 

Artis set the tone, as Oregon acts as a developing program when they’re on the court together. By and large, this means that “knowing your role” plays a pivotal role in the cohesion of their offensive and defensive units. For Oregon, that means finding senior E.J. Singler for the open three. It means Tony Woods coming up with the pivotal and monstrous block. It means diversifying the scoring threats and allowing five players to score eight or more points in the game.

It also means continuing to get in the head of the opponent via a quick and consistent offensive tempo. If the Oregon team can take advantage of the opportunities created by the extreme defensive hustle and turnover creation, the Ducks will continue to thrive.

The most helpful aid for Oregon, however, was their unique ability to create opportunity via the art of the offensive rebound. Oregon pulled in 14, whereas Oklahoma State pulled in only four, two fewer than Oregon senior Arsalan Kazemi who recorded six in the game.

When Arsalan Kazemi comes prepared to play, Oregon looks nearly unbeatable.

(Alex McDougall/Emerald)

In their first March Madness game since 2008, Kazemi was undoubtedly here to play. Kazemi recorded 17 total rebounds, one short of his career high, and continued a unique athleticism that could help solidify an opportunity at a potential NBA career. He will need to continue his incredible performance for Oregon to continue their magical run.

Oregon and Cal will both play in San Jose on Saturday afternoon.

In conjunction with the California Berkeley student section (“The Bench”) and the Oregon Pit Crew student section, the stands will be filled with a sea of gold and yellow to represent the Pac-12 conference and their collective rooting interest.

The No. 12 Oregon Ducks will play No. 4 St. Louis Billikens on Saturday at 4:10 PM. St. Louis averages only 32.8 rebounds per game (251st in nation), whereas Oregon averages 37.4 (52nd in nation).

If Kazemi can stay strong and play with outstanding purpose, Oregon could easily advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 

(Photos: Alex McDougall/Emerald)

Click here to follow @BryanKalbrosky on Twitter.

foreverla:

Gone, but never forgotten.

R.I.P. Dr. Jerry Buss

oldschoolfootball:

Super Bowl XXXIV

St. Louis 23

Tennessee 16