Can anyone keep Alabama from repeating?

In January, the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled past conference rival LSU 21-0 to claim the 2012 BCS national championship. Alabama used a ferocious defense to stifle the Tigers in New Orleans, led by linebacker Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron.

With many of the starters returning from last season’s team, including quarterback A.J. McCarron, Alabama was a preseason favorite to compete for the national title. Almost two months into the season, the Tide has entrenched itself at the top of the polls, emerging as the front-runner to claim its second consecutive BCS title. However, there are several teams that could challenge the Tide in its quest to repeat. Here is a look at the teams that have the best shot at knocking Alabama from its perch.

LSU: The Tigers know how to beat Alabama, winning in Tuscaloosa last season in overtime. Though LSU was drummed out of the BCS title game, it should give the team plenty of motivation when the Crimson Tide pay a visit to Tiger Stadium on Nov. 3. Alabama has played a surprisingly soft schedule for a national power, though easy victories over Michigan and Arkansas would have more weight if those teams were having better seasons. LSU will have revenge on its mind for this rivalry game in Baton Rouge. If the Tigers win, they could gain a foothold in the chase for the national title. They have the home field advantage and a tough defense. The question will be if the LSU Tigers can muster up enough offense to top the Tide.

Florida: If the Tigers can not take down Alabama, it may be up to the second-ranked Gators to do so. Florida appears to be the favorite to win the Eastern Division of the SEC and could face the Crimson Tide in the SEC title game. Will Muschamp has his team playing inspired football in his second season as coach, using a stifling defense to knock off both LSU and South Carolina. The Gators may be undefeated heading into the SEC title game, so a BCS title shot could be at stake in Atlanta. Read more…

College Football’s eighth weekend: West Virginia bounces back

Geno SmithTwo strong match up’s this week as Geno Smith and West Virginia look to bounce back after a subpar game against the Red Raiders.

The Florida Gators have gotten up to the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings and are the next team in line in the SEC that controls their own destiny. Alabama still holds the top spot and the top two teams don’t meet in the regular season, but the Gators have a tough road ahead of them. Last week I did pretty well, going 17-1 in my picks.

(1) Alabama at Tennessee

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-Tennessee this and especially next year, but they don’t have the players on defense to keep this a close game. Tennessee’s offense is one of the most underrated offenses out there, but unless the Volunteers can at least slow down the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack, quarterback Tyler Bray will have to have a career day if they want to pull the upset. Alabama wins 45-24.

(2) Florida vs (7) South Carolina

The Gators come into this game with a lot of momentum and they get to play in front of their home crowd. South Carolina also doesn’t have their stellar running back Marcus Lattimore starting the game. My guess is he’ll play around 20 snaps, but he isn’t 100 percent, which kills almost any chance the Gamecocks had coming into this game.

LSU showed that South Carolina wasn’t worthy of a top five spot and unless quarterback Connor Shaw can break out in the Swamp, the Gators should be able to control this game. Quarterback Jeff Driskel is starting to get more comfortable the more he plays, and with the rushing attack led by Mike Gillislee, Driskel never feels like he has to force anything. Expect a ton of rushing plays from the Gators, and a win at home to keep their undefeated season going. Florida wins 31-21.

(3) Oregon at Arizona State

This game was played Thursday night* Oregon won 43-21. This game wasn’t as close as the 22 point difference indicated.

(4) Kansas State at (13) West Virginia

The Mountaineers are coming off a huge loss to Texas Tech and will be at home in this one looking for revenge. Geno Smith had a subpar game against the Red Raiders, and while Kansas State’s defense is certainly better than average, I expect Smith to get it going along with his wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

What many people don’t know about this game is that we have probably the two Heisman favorites playing in this game.

Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein is as close as you can get to Tim Tebow, and with his rushing abilities, could lead Kansas State to yet another huge victory this year. If Klein outperforms Smith, which is certainly possible, he may get the win, and the nod when it comes to winning the Heisman. If the Mountaineers want to win, Smith doesn’t only have to play like he has all year outside of the Texas Tech game, but the defense has to at least slow down Collin Klein. I think both will happen just enough for West Virginia to make it a bounce back week. West Virginia wins 45-38.

(5) Notre Dame vs BYU

BYU is only 4-3 and are on the road against a very tough Fighting Irish defense, but this one shouldn’t be a blow out. BYU’s defense is better than many people realize, and with quarterback Tommy Rees getting the start over an injured Everett Golson, this could be the upset of the week. I expect the Fighting Irish to keep it on the ground all game long and be able to stay undefeated for one more week before they head to Norman, Oklahoma. Notre Dame wins 24-10.

(6) LSU at (18) Texas A&M

I’m certainly not an LSU guy, but beating South Carolina last week doing what both teams do best was fairly impressive. In this game, I’m picking the Aggies though. What’s even more odd is that Texas A&M has a freshman quarterback who’s starting for them. The most interesting part is that the freshman Johnny Manziel may be the best offensive player on the field in this game.

Manziel has the top two total yard games in SEC history already, and like I’ve said… he’s just a freshman. Manziel is extremely talented, not only being able to throw, but will soon be regarded as one of the most dynamic quarterback in the country. He’s not as fast as Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez, but he’s certainly in Braxton Miller’s category, which is still impressive. If the Aggies can keep LSU’s running game at bay, expect the unexpected. Texas A&M wins 34-24.

(8) Oregon State vs Utah

The Beavers don’t have top 10 talent but they’ll stay undefeated here. They’re at home and are simply the better team. Oregon State wins 38-14.

(9) Oklahoma vs Kansas

Much like in the game above, Oklahoma’s the more talented team and at home. But I can’t go on without mentioning how impressive the 63-21 beat down was against Texas last week. That not only showed how good the Sooners were, but how good Kansas State is. Collin Klein’s team is the only team to beat Oklahoma this year. Oklahoma wins 52-14.

(10) USC vs Colorado

Yet again, the vastly superior talented team is playing at home in this game. USC wins 56-7. Read more…

Move over Tebow, Jeff Driskel breaking Florida records

Jeff Driskel

Jeff DriskelIt’s always hard to compare as a running quarterback when you attend Florida, but Jeff Driskel is doing things even Tim Tebow didn’t do.

Driskel ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns as the fourth-ranked Florida Gators beat Vanderbilt 31-17 as they prepare for No. 3 South Carolina.

The most amazing part of Driskel’s career night? He only ran 11 times as the sophomore set the Florida record for rushing yards by a quarterback topping Tim Tebow’s 166 yards against Mississippi in 2007 on 27 carries.

“We kept running really the same play, and they didn’t really make adjustments,” Driskel said. “So we kept going to it. If something’s working, keep going to it.”

The Gators move to 6-0 on the season, 5-0 against the SEC with their 22nd straight win over Vandy.

Even more impressive for the Gators, three offensive lineman were out with injuries. Center Jonatthan Harrison, left guard James Wilson and left tackle Xavier Nixon didn’t play, and the Gators had receiver Latroy Pittman, linebacker Michael Taylor and tight end Jordan Reed injured during the game.

“We’re a little bit of a M.A.S.H unit on the offensive line,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “So I was really proud of those guys, as many looks as Vanderbilt gave us, in being able to rush for 300 and something yards. … It says a lot about our guys stepping up and manning up.”

“He did an awesome job,” Florida receiver Solomon Patton said of Driskel. “With him being able to run like that, it opened up a lot, as far as the run game and passing game. Teams don’t know if he is going to pass it or take off running.”ade too many mistakes.”

2012 College Football Week 5: Top 25, picks, predictions

Aaron Murray

Aaron MurrayLast week was a pretty good week for me, ending up at 16-2. As for this week’s games, some intriguing matchups will be taking place in conference play. Georgia gets Tennessee, West Virginia plays Baylor, and Michigan State takes on Ohio State.

(1) Alabama vs Ole Miss

As Texas proved last week, Ole Miss just isn’t as talented as top-tier programs. Alabama wins 45-7.

(2) Oregon at Washington State

Oregon impressed a lot of people when they beat Arizona 49-0 last Saturday night. What the scoreboard didn’t tell you is that the Wildcats got to the red zone five times and just couldn’t convert to save their lives. In this game, Oregon continues to dominate. Oregon wins 63-14.

(3) LSU vs Towson

LSU is better. LSU wins 55-3.

(4) Florida State at South Florida

Remember just last Sunday when the 49ers lost in Minnesota in what was deemed as the upset of the week? I’m not picking the Bulls here, but this game has the exact same type of feel. Florida State is coming off a big win and travels (not too far) to a team that just doesn’t get respect. Well, South Florida can earn plenty of people’s attention if they pull off the unthinkable here. Florida State wins 38-17.

(5) Georgia vs Tennessee

Tennessee probably is a top-25 team, but losing to Florida earlier in the year shot down their chance at being ranked at least for now. Georgia is a complete football team, and doesn’t have to play LSU or Alabama during the regular season. I think the Bulldogs could very easily end up running the table and having everything come down to the SEC Championship game. They’ve got a stout defense and a great quarterback that nobody talks about in Aaron Murray. It will be interesting to see if Tennessee’s better-than-advertised offense can put up some points on the Bulldogs defense. Georgia wins 45-24.

(6) South Carolina at Kentucky

Much like Ole Miss, Kentucky just doesn’t have the talent to keep up through four quarters. South Carolina wins 41-17.

(7) Kansas State – BYE

(8) Stanford at Washington

*This game was played on Friday. Washington won 17-13. No shocker here for me. Stanford was on the road, and sure, they’re a top-25 team, but they shouldn’t have been in the top-10. Washington’s quarterback Keith Price is a name college football fans will all know soon enough.

(9) West Virginia vs (25) Baylor

Surely Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are starting to get people’s attention after last week’s win over Maryland, and rightfully so. Maryland isn’t among the country’s elite, but Smith had another fantastic game through the air, and Austin had 179 yds receiving to go along with three touchdowns. Austin is in the top-five in the nation when it comes to game breaking ability. I’ll take his pure speed against anybody’s in the country.

For this game, the Heisman candidate (Smith) should tear the Bears’ defense open much like he has all season to his opponents. Look for Austin and Stedman Bailey to have a show downfield as well. The Mountaineers may not have the greatest defense in the country, but it’s hard to argue that their offense isn’t among the top-five. I picked them to win the Big 12 for a reason, and I’ll pick them here with ease. West Virginia wins 63-35.

(10) Notre Dame – BYE

(11) Florida – BYE

(12) Texas at Oklahoma State

The Longhorns are a very solid football team, and Oklahoma State, well, just isn’t any more after losing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon to the NFL. Their defense is still a mess, and it’ll show in this game. Texas wins 55-21.

(13) USC – BYE

(14) Ohio State at (20) Michigan State

When Michigan State lost to Notre Dame a couple weeks ago, people didn’t only doubt how good the Spartans were, but the Big Ten as a whole. For me, the Big Ten is as bad as it has been in the past decade. Ohio State can’t compete for a Big Ten championship or go to a bowl game this year, so every game is huge to them; especially a top-25 matchup.

The Buckeyes are talented, but it’ll take a full season to get Urban Meyer’s kind of recruits, and adapt to his system before they really start clicking out in Columbus. For Michigan State, they can only ride Le’Veon Bell so far. Michigan State may be the best team in the Big Ten, but it isn’t by a large margin. I’d be willing to say that Nebraska is the favorite at this point, but that’s a different discussion. This game comes down to two things. Can Le’Veon Bell carry Michigan State’s offense enough? And will Braxton Miller be able to keep up on the scoreboard enough on the road in a hostile territory being only a sophomore, and with a new head coach/system? I think Bell carries Sparty to victory here, though it hurts my Buckeyes fandom. Michigan State wins 24-20.

(15) TCU at SMU

TCU’s the more talented team, and being on the road shouldn’t faze them. TCU wins 38-21.

(16) Oklahoma – BYE

(17) Clemson at Boston College

Coming off the big loss to Florida State, quarterback Tajh Boyd and company now know what it takes to compete with the nation’s elite. It’ll only be a matter of time before Clemson figured everything out and their offense becomes enough to carry them to become a true national championship contender. In this game, the Tigers will be looking for revenge, and they’ve got their eyes set out for some Eagles. Clemson wins 52-21.

(18) Oregon State at Arizona

Oregon State is 2-0 this year and has beaten Wisconsin and UCLA. Both of those teams aren’t title contenders, but they’re surely not slouches. Oregon State probably is a top-25 team this year because of their ability to throw, run, and play good defense, but I think they get upset today. Arizona is coming off a 49-0 drubbing against Oregon, but a case could be made that they could’ve only lost that game by two or three scores. Arizona’s at home, and if they figure things out in the red zone, I expect this upset pick to come through. Arizona wins 31-21. Read more…

Heisman quarterbacks don’t always work out in the NFL

This is a journey into the deep dark abyss of college quarterbacks who dominated Saturdays but failed when it came to Sunday in the NFL.  Over the past 12 seasons, ten college quarterbacks have won the Heisman trophy, including Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow,  Matt Leinart, and RGIII.

Winning is an honor that recognizes an athlete as the best of the best as related to college football.  Unfortunately this coveted collegiate prize has been somewhat of a curse for quarterbacks; a stigma that says you’re the best in college but not good enough for the NFL.  Since 2000, of the nine quarterback Heisman winners, all have gone on to have some interaction with the NFL. Unfortunately for Cam Newton, their track records aren’t in his favor, or are they?  Let’s take a look, and you decide.

#9 –  2000 Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke, Florida State

Weinke Spent seven years in the NFL from 2000-2007 with the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.  His career statistics were 15 TD, 26 interceptions, 3,904 passing yards, and a 62.2 passer rating.  For his lack of contributions in the NFL, Chris Weinke was a BUST!

#8 – 2001 Heisman Trophy winner, Eric Crouch, Nebraska 

Coming out of college at 5’11 it was thought that Crouch was too small to play NFL quarterback.  He was originally drafted by the St Louis Rams as a wide receiver where during his one season with the team he racked up a whopping zero receptions.  In 2005 Crouch attempted a comeback signing with the Kansas City Chiefs but was sent to NFL Europe where he played safety.  Eric Crouch was a BUST!

#7 – 2002 Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer, USC

To date, Carson Palmer has spent eight seasons in the NFL with the Bengals and a few games with the Oakland Raiders. He has thrown for over 22,000 yards, 154 touchdowns with an 86.9 passer rating.  He is the only Bengals quarterback to pass for over 4000 yards in two seasons.  His accomplishments make Carson Palmer a BEAST!

#6 – 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, Jason White, Oklahoma 

 White is the only of our Heisman heroes to go undrafted.  He tried out with the Chiefs but the team did not sign him.  He again tried out with the Titans and this  time he was offered a contract but instead decided to leave the game of football  because of his bad knees.  Jason White is without a doubt a BUST!

#5 – 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, USC

Matt, Matt, Matt…To date, Matt Leinart has five years in the NFL with theArizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans. In those five years he has thrown for less than 4,000 yards with 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.  Coming out of college most thought he’d be the next great thing but this guy wasn’t fooled!  He proved he wasn’t hungry for the NFL when he opted to return to USC for a final year after back to back Rose Bowl and National Championship victories and a Heisman Trophy.  Although his career isn’t over it’s not going anywhere fast and because of that, Matt Leinart is a Big Time BUST!

 #4 –  2006 Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith, Ohio State 

After four years in the league Troy Smith threw eight touchdowns and five interceptions with the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers before signing with Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. The highlight of Troy’s career was a sideline blowup with last season with then 49ers Head Coach, Mike Singletary.  Troy Smith was a BUST!

  #3 – 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow, Florida 

Tebow is only entering his third season in the NFL.  Tebow led the Broncos into the playoffs and stunned the Steelers but would eventually lose to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. After John Elway stated he was going to help Tebow, something better came along and Tebow was traded to the New York Jets.  Although the jury is still out on Tebow as to whether or not he can be a successful NFL quarterback, Tebow gets the benefit of the doubt and a PUSH!

 #2 – 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma 

In his rookie season Bradford threw 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and accumulated just over 3,500 passing yards.  Despite his 76.5 passer rating, Fantastic Sam almost led the hapless St. Louis Rams to the playoffs in 2010.  Bradford definitely has tremendous upside but has not improved upon his rookie numbers in 2011.  Although his time is short, we’ve seen enough of Bradford to classify him as a BEAST!

 #1 – 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, Auburn 

And then there was one!  Fasten you seatbelts this one’s gonna get a little bumpy. With virtually no off-season to prepare due to the lockout, Cam Newton entered the NFL pre-season in a quarterback competition with Jimmy Clausen.  Despite his poor statistical pre-season the Panthers decided his time was now, and the keys to the franchise were handed to the rookie. What did Cam do? He broke the rookie record for passing yards in his first game. He also broke the NFL record for rushing touchdowns as a quarterback.

Of the previous eight quarterbacks, all were Heisman winners, but only two, were the number one overall pick in their respective NFL Drafts.  They were, Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer; two of the three beasts on this list.