FINALLY

It’s here. Well, almost. The college football season . Game week. The kickoff for the 2015-16 (FBS) season begins Thursday. If you love the college game, a must have during the summer:

Phil Steele’s College Football Preview magazine.

It’s become the go to for all your college football info prior to the season.

I reached out to Phil earlier this month to talk. We chatted via phone, and as you would imagine working in Huntsville, a lot of the questions were SEC-centric. But we also dove into Ohio State, “surprise” teams in the SEC and a “sleeper” that could crash the four team playoff and become a National Champion.

It’s Monday. Work is overrated. Wet your football appetite just a little more.

Take a listen:

Odds and Ends:

—The College football season actually got underway between two powerhouses in FCS. Kinda like that Bob Stitt guy.

—Just seeing Jim Harbaugh, khaki’s and all, on a college sideline again, is good for the game. Should be a rocking atmosphere at Rice-Eccles Stadium Thursday.

— TCF Bank Stadium will be a great atmosphere, at least early. TCU, with their #2 ranking facing a Gopher team that has took on Jerry Kill’s hard work, grind em out type personality. Media experts think this is his best team… we’ll see.

—My alma mater, Western Kentucky University, has one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and will try to knock of Vanderbilt, who needs, REALLY NEEDS to win this game. SB Nation does the best it can to try and talk Vandy fans off the ledge heading into the season.

—TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma St are getting the headlines in the Big 12 this off season, but, I personally like Oklahoma. Glad that that Bob Stoops is getting back to the air raid, that got the Sooners on the map early in his tenure. Some new offensive lineman will need to get adjusted, but Baker Mayfield threw it around the yard at Texas Tech as a Freshman, and should (I know, he hasn’t played in a year) thrive in the offense under new Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley. And if for nothing else, he can move a little bit, well, a lot.

—Excited to see UCLA’s first year starter.

Picks and more picks:

Alabama over Wisconsin:

Defense rules the day for the Tide. Badgers will have less the 200 yards of offense. It only gets interesting if Alabama’s (insert here) QB struggles.

Auburn over Louisville:

The Cards shouldn’t be measured on this game. Louisville will have a good year. No clue who gets the start for Bobby Petrino, but it won’t matter. Auburn comes out smoking, with the the way-to-early-send-him-to-New-York-now Heisman hype in mid season form for Jeremy Johnson by the half.

Notre Dame over Texas:

Under the lights in South Bend, this is Brian Kelly’s best team with the Irish. Malik Zaire will have his growing pains throughout the season, will it be enough to derail some playoff aspirations? No clue there, but he should play well enough Saturday, along with a elite offense, and a defense that will hound Longhorn quarterbacks Tyrone Swoops/Jerrod Herd all night. BUT… if Swoops/Herd come out hot, The Irish haters may have some added ammunition by midnight Saturday.

Ohio St over Virginia Tech:

Urban Meyer could suspend whomever. They win the game. The Hokies will make it entertaining in spots, but it reminds me of the last time a #1 ranked talented team came to Blacksburg.

Texas A&M over Arizona St:

A sleeper in the SEC, Stewart Mandel picked the Aggies to win the league. The game Saturday in the desert won’t have anything to do with that, but could show that the Aggies have the right guy at Quarterback (Kyle Allen) and an improved defense and/or scheme (John Chavis). The Sun Devils will bring pressure from everywhere… If Allen gets it out of his hands, he may have 450 plus through the air. If he doesn’t Kevin Sumlin’s prized recruit of 2015 may be the answer sooner rather than later.

My Final Four Picks:

(1) Ohio St     Vs (4) Notre Dame

(2) TCU          Vs (3) Auburn

National Championship:

(1) Ohio St Vs (2) TCU

Winner: Ohio St

Enjoy the games this week. Football is back. Football. Is. Back.

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4 is the Loneliest Number

Source:usatoday.com

 

 

Dear College Football Fan,

I’m writing to tell you that you can’t have it all. You can’t have your giant football cake and eat it too. Back in the early 90’s YOU wanted a playoff. Football higher ups gave you the BCS. That was a bunch of crap to you, yet outside of possibly two years in the 15 year period of that format did we have any remote controversy. 2 OUT OF 15. The system got it right 13 other times.

That wasn’t good enough. You wanted a playoff system. We have it now. And guess what? THIS system will get it right more times than not, and fans (which is short for fanatic by the way, meaning some fans have no objectivity) will want.. you guessed it.. an 8 team playoff… then a 16 team playoff… Hell might as well do a field of 64, er, 68 then.

I do not want mediocre teams playing for a National Title. The College Football season should mean something. Elite teams should play elite OUT OF CONFERENCE teams (which will happen more frequently with the new playoff format making it a priority). You should be rewarded for winning, and beating good teams, not playing the University of cupcake state and asking why you’re left out as a 1 loss team when another program has the same record. STOP it college football fan, normal football fans are on to you.

This is the first week of the polls. Everyone will play each other and sort this deal out in a matter of weeks. But, you, college football fan, will find a way to find a fault in a legitimate top four teams that will be well deserving of playing in the FBS’s first Final Four.

REMEMBER. You hated the computers, and wanted a human element in the process. You have it now. Shut up, and don’t complain, and let this play out.

 

Sincerely,

Carl Prather

 

 

The Top Four (Week 1)

 

1. Mississippi State- No brainer. They are undefated and have beaten the number three team in the CFB playoff poll, and have some good wins over LSU, and a former AP top ten Texas A&M. Yes they have some lower level FBS teams that they have played, but at least they are at the FBS level. The Bulldogs should take a bit of a hit by playing UT Martin in a couple of weeks, though.  Did they look specatucalr against Kentucky? No, but Kentucky had a ton to do with that, they are a young and really good program in progress. A interesting Arkansas team  awaits, followed by meetings with Alabama and Ole Miss.

Saturday:  Vs Arkansas

Next three games: UT Martin, AT (6) Alabama, Vanderbilt.

 

 

2. Florida St- They are the champs and as long as they keep winning, they will be in the Final Four at season’s end. Have they been as imporessive as last season. We all know the answer. But there’s something to be said to take every teams best shot because you’re atop the mountain and finding ways to win. And of course the off field distractions don’t help, and for the coaching staff and players involved to continue to show up and produce on the field is impressive to me, for better or worse, whether you agree or disagree  with the off field actions. Interesting to see of they will be able to handle a intriguing game tonight against Louisville. The last time the Noles came to the Derby City, it was a rain fest that yours truly was able to witness at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

 

Many want the Noles to finally lose. Unfortunately, those watching at home cant help these opposing teams. Said team will have to go in and take a much deserved win against FSU, because it doesn’t appear they are willing to give it up without a fight through the final whistle

Thursday: At (25) Louisville

Next three games: Virginia, At Miami, Boston College

 

 

3. Auburn- The right choice  here. They have a quality road win over Kansas State that checks in at 9 in the first playoff poll. It arguably is the best non conference road win of any team this season. The only loss? To the number one team in the poll. The Tigers basically control their own destiny starting Saturday with a trip to Oxford to face 4th ranked Ole Miss. If the Tigers run the table, they deserve to be in the final four and if they win it all, they can truly say they earned every piece of it.

Saturday: At (4) Ole Miss

Next three games: Texas A&M, At (11) Georgia, Samford

 

 

4. Ole Miss- They arguably have the best home win of the season (Oregon may beg to differ, along with Mississippi State) against Alabama. And the LSU loss doesn’t look as bad as it would have two weeks ago. The Rebels will have issues if they can’t find a way to run the football better. Still much like all 4 teams in the first rankings, Ole Miss controls their destiny.

Saturday: (3) Auburn

Remaining games: Presbyterian,  At Arkansas, At (1) Mississippi State

 

Enjoy the Weekend!

Five Downs

Source:sbnation.com

 

1st Down

Can We Give Auburn Credit?

College Football fans should. Yes I know that we will hear the “Auburn was fortunate, they were lucky to win in Manhattan” moniker for the next two or three days. That may be good fodder to talk about, but it’s not Auburn’s fault that Kansas State was so inept in the kicking game, and couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities in the red zone.

We could also say this game would have been over had Duke Williams caught a for sure TD in the first half. He made it count in the second half with a big score, and a 3rd and 9 conversion to ice the game 20-14. And about Nick Marshall not being able to throw? Big time conversions late in this game including that deciding 3rd down throw to Duke. Auburn  is for real. K State had won 42 of their last 44 at home. Let’s give the Tigers credit for a few days. Then we can look at the gauntlet of SEC games starting October 4th.

 

2nd Down

Does Florida have a Chance?

No clue on that Saturday against 3rd ranked Alabama. The Gators Defense will be as elite as they’ve been under WIll Muschamp. We all know what the elephant in the room is. Jeff Driskel. This offense just seems lost at times, and inconsistent. I thought before the season that if the Gators could just score 21-24 points they win at least 9 games. They needed 36 points to beat a ryoung and talented Kentucky team in 3 OT’s last week.

 

3rd Down

 

As for Alabama….

Can I just say that I just want to see Amari Cooper and Vernon Hargreaves III go at it? Excited to see that. As for the Tide, we will see how much the offense has improved over a quality opponent. Blake Sims is the starter, with Jacob Coker on the sidelines. Florida will try to confuse Sims as we all know, will be interesting to see if Lane Kiffin stays with the bubble screen left, bubble screen right, handoff to running back A philosophy or will the offense continue to grow in game. Alot of question marks still for both teams as we head to kickoff.

 

4th Down

Is Mississippi State ready to make the jump?

Dan Mullen’s bunch head to Death Valley where as my guy Les Miles says dreams come to die. He also does things like this which makes EVERYONE love him even more. It’s the gift that keeps on giving:

 

As for the game Saturday, The LSU offense is still finding it’s way after a few games, while we really don’t know much about the Bulldogs (wins over  So Miss, UAB, South Alabama). Business picks up this week, I just think the Baton Rouge faithful and those 22 guys on the field in Purple and Yellow will be a little too much for State. The best thing for State, is if LSU’s offense starts slow in this one, if that happens, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bayou Bengals find themselves in trouble.

 

 5th Down

Jameis

Yes he’s 20. yes he’s been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Would I scream what he screamed in my college student union… nah, but I’ve done my fair share of REALLY, REALLY, stupid things in college. Do I have any clue on if this is a concern for Winston moving forward. Honestly no. I could be wrong, and wouldn’t have an issue in saying so in the future. Whether it was a quarter or a half, Winston got football taken away from him this week. That’s never happened. I think it would do wonders for him, realizing that he has an opportunity to play a kids game, and enjoy the rewards that surround it.

I literally laughed when I heard some of the national talking heads suggest that Winston’s draft stock would fall. Yeah right. He will be the first or second QB taken and one of the first ten players taken in the draft if he decides to leave. For all those that want to cast stones to any collegiate athletes regardless of sport. Just remember. There are far worse things going on with athletes and college students that we just don’t hear or see about.

 

Quick Hitter

The NFL.

I don’t even know where to start with the league. It would take me hours to go through it all. We all know the environment that the league is in right now. The biggest thing I hope comes from all these issues, is that it brings awareness to domestic violence. So many women are in trouble each and everyday in the world and in this great country. I hope the common sports fan understands that this goes beyond the white lines on Sunday’s. There are people in trouble, and I hope the awareness is raised even more with all the recent issues with the NFL.

 

Enjoy the weekend!