Final Blog Entry – Things I Want to See This Season

Hello everybody, Cougar Fan here. This is my final blog entry. In it I will discuss several things I would like to see happen in the 2017 season.

-A team from west of the Mississippi win the national championship

It’s been too long. A team from west of the Mississippi River has not won the national championship since 2005 when the Texas Longhorns won it all. This would mean a team from a conference other than the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 (Well, I guess and the MAC, Sun-Belt, Conference USA, and AAC). Key contenders to make this happen include Washington or USC, and possible a team like Oklahoma.

-The Big 12 seriously contend for the playoff

I would like to see a team from the Big 12 Conference be in the playoff conversation and ranked near the top of the rankings. This is not super likely to happen, however, since the Big 12 is so even at the top.

-A team from the Sun Belt Conference ranked for multiple weeks

App State and Troy both have the potential to make national splashes this year, and quality wins from the two could result in them entering the rankings. Last season they both spent one week as a ranked team.

-A ten win BYU team

BYU should have a quality defense this year, and if they find a good replacement for Jamaal Williams and if Tanner Mangum lives up to the hype, this could be possible. It has been a few years since the Cougars reached that double digit win mark.

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A Look at Week 1 of 2017

Hello everybody, Cougar Fan here. Now that we have fewer than 100 days until the 2017 season kicks off, it is not too early to start looking at some of the big opening week match ups.

Alabama vs Florida State

This game is billed as a big one in the College Football Playoff conversation. Florida State will be replacing some key pieces, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in a week one match up with the Crimson Tide. I expect Alabama to win this won, and I don’t even expect it to be all that close. I am not buying the FSU hype.

LSU vs BYU

I am looking forward to this one. I think that BYU may be able to get the pieces put together for a quality win over the Tigers from the SEC. Quarterback Tanner Mangum will finally get his chance to shine after an offseason of starter reps. LSU lost a lot of talent in the draft. This will be an interesting game.

Eastern Washington at Texas Tech

Sure it is an FCS vs FBS match up, but this one should showcase a lot of offense, and it will be interesting to see how the “lower level” EWU Eagles fare against the Red Raiders.

Western Michigan at USC

The WMU Broncos lose a lot of the talent that led them to an undefeated regular season last year, but it will still be interesting to see how Western Michigan plays against a quality team.

Troy at Boise State

Troy could be poised for a big year. The Trojans have a quality defense, and return a lot of talent on offense, which could enable them to make a splash nationally this year. That would have to begin with a win at Boise State in week one.

Appalachian State at Georgia

Similar to Troy, App State returns a good defense as well as a good offense. Georgia has a lot of national hype entering this season. This situation seems awfully similar to the situation of the App State vs Tennessee game last year, and in it the Mountaineers surprised many by taking the game to overtime. App State’s elite secondary will put star sophomore QB Jacob Eason to the test.

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Appalachian State’s Clifton Duck will look to challenge Georgia’s QB, Jacob Eason in week 1

 

2018 Playoff Schedule Released

Hi all, Cougar Fan here. The College Football Playoff schedule, as well as the schedule for the other bowl games has now been released. The first of the semifinal games will be the Rose Bowl, played in (you guessed in) the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That game will be at 5 pm. If either of the top two teams next season are from the Pac-12 or Big Ten conferences then they will play in the Rose Bowl Game. I hope that everything comes together for a Pac-12 vs Big Ten match up in the Rose Bowl. The game has traditionally been between the top two teams of those conferences, and something just feels missing when that does not end up being the Rose Bowl match up (Although USC vs Texas for the National Championship in ’06 was definitely worth the mix up). The conferences that send teams to the game has been mixed up a few times due to the game hosting the National Championship, top teams from either conference going to the National Championship hosted by a different bowl game, etc. I also like that the game will be on January 1st. Last year, due to New Years Day being a Sunday, the game was moved to the 2nd.

The second playoff game will be the Sugar Bowl, played in the Superdome in New Orleans. If an SEC team is in the top for at the end of the season they will play in this game (unless they are matched up against a higher ranked Pac-12 or Big Ten team). This game will be after the Rose Bowl on January 1st.

The National Championship will be played in Atlanta, in the new stadium being built there. The game will be a week after the semi finals, January 8th.

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North Dakota State Does Not Play an FBS Team This Season

Hello everybody! Cougar Fan here. Today I learned something that disappointed me a little bit. The North Dakota State Bison, an FCS (Football Championship Subdivion) Powerhouse who seems to win the FCS National Championship every year. They are generally quite good, and can beat many FBS teams. But this coming season, they don’t have an FBS team on their schedule! The past few years they have defeated FBS teams early in the season. Last year they defeated a nationally ranked Iowa team. This was the first time in school history they beat an AP top-25 team. After this game North Dakota State received votes in the AP Poll, and they continued tho get votes for a couple weeks afterwards. The Bison kicked a last second field goal in order to beat the Hawkeye’s in their own stadium. In 2014 the North Dakota State Bison won a decisive game at Iowa State. The year previous they pulled off a major upset at Kansas State, in what was an exciting game, and showed that North Dakota State really could play with some of the top programs in the country. Back in 2012 the Bison dominated Colorado State. In 2011 they beat Minnesota. The year before they beat FBS Kansas. I always find it exciting to see North Dakota State, as well as other FCS teams, play well against, or even beat FBS teams. It provides insight on just how big (or small for that matter) the gap between the FBS and the FCS is. This year we won’t get that with North Dakota State, but there are a few other opportunities. Defending FCS National Champions James Madison open the season at East Carolina. Youngstown State opens up at PITT. Eastern Washing starts the season at Texas Tech (lots of points will be scored in this one). Jacksonville State plays at Georgia Tech. One more: The Citadel at Clemson.

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A North Dakota State player celebrates after an upset win over nationally-ranked Iowa

The Draft

Hello everybody. Cougar Fan here. The biggest thing happening this week in the world of football is the NFL Draft, where each NFL team selects college players to join their organization. A lot of the players that enter the NFL draft have completed their senior season, but there are quite a few who have entered the draft after their junior season, and some the enter after their red shirt sophomore season (meaning they are in/have completed at least third 3rd year of college, but they’ve only played two seasons of college football.)

The first round of the draft was last night. Defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A & M was the first player selected. He is a good player and had a lot of success at the college level. The second overall pick was Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback out of North Carolina. I do not 100 percent understand this pick. Trubisky is a good player, but he wasn’t amazing in college. In fact, he lacks much college experience, as he as only started 13 games. At this point Deshaun Watson was still available, who I think is a much better player. Sure he doesn’t have as much pro-style offense experience, but I believe that he is still a good pocket passer, and overall a much better QB. Watson went 12th in the draft. The other quarterback that went in the first round was Patrick Mahomes from Texas Tech. Mahomes put up huge numbers in college, but Texas Tech rarely played teams with elite defenses.

Mitchell Trubisky was the second overall pick in the NFL draft

 

Moving from the FCS to FBS…and vis versa?

Hello everybody! Cougar Fan here. In this week’s post I will be discussing information about teams moving from the FCS division to the FBS division, and vis versa.

To start off, let’s discuss what FBS and FCS mean. The NCAA is divided into several divisions, Division I, Division II, Division III, etc. For the most part, what division a school plays sports in reflects on both the size and financial power of the school, as well as the quality of athletics. For almost all sports, all Division I teams play on what one might say the same level, or in same league. Not to be redundant, but they play in the same division, all playing each other in conference and non conference games, and all competing for the same national championship. Division I in football, however, is divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision, and the Football Championship Subdivision, the FBS being the “premiere” division, and, for the most part, is home to the better teams.

No team has ever dropped from the FBS to the FCS before. But that will change after this season. Idaho will be dropping down to the FCS. Idaho has not had much success on the field as of late (other than their breakout season last year that ended with a bowl win). But more importantly, they cannot afford to remain in the FBS. After the Western Athletic Conference (the WAC) stopped supporting football, all the teams previously in the WAC had to find new homes. Idaho and New Mexico State, however, were left homeless. Neither fits well geographically with the other small conferences (i.e. the MAC, Conference USA, or the Sunbelt), so they both went independent for a year. Then the Sun Belt picked up the two teams for a couple years. Since both Idaho and New Mexico State are both so far away from the other Sun Belt schools, it became too much of a financial burden on the conference and the schools to have the teams travel across the country for away games every year. Especially since, until last year for Idaho, the lack of on field success kept the schools from earning very much money to contribute to the conference. Because of this, the Sun Belt in essence kicked the two teams out of the conference. New Mexico State is going back to being independent and Idaho decided to drop back down to the FCS level, to a conference that they already are a member of for all sports other than football, and that fits much better geographically, and will cost much less money. It will be interesting to see how Idaho competes at the FCS level.

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Idaho coach Paul Petrino and other university staff members announce the move to the FBS

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Idaho QB Matt Linehan calls for Idaho to remain in the FBS after the team’s New Mexico Bowl victory over Colorado State in December

Why I Like The Sun Belt Conference

Hello everybody! Cougar Fan here. Today I am going to explain why I like the Sun Belt Conference. The Sunbelt is a conference with mostly teams from the south east. It is a “Group of 5” conference.

One of my first experience rooting for the Sun Belt was when Louisiana Monroe was playing #8 Arkansas in 2012. This was one of the best games I’ve watched. It went into to overtime, which was a huge surprise. ULM forced overtime by scoring a touchdown on fourth and long. In overtime ULM went for it again on fourth and long, and quarterback Kolton Browning scrambled all the way for the game winning touchdown. I was glad because I really don’t like the SEC. I started watching more of ULM’s games that year. They played a style that I really like. They had really unique offensive formations, and were not afraid to pull out trick plays. They went for it on the majority of fourth downs, because of a statistical report that revealed that doing so may be more efficient. In a game against Baylor the Warhawks pulled out a super cool two quarterback offensive system and drove all the way down the field to score a touchdown. ULM went 8-4 that year and went to their first bowl game.

I also really like Louisiana-Lafayette, among other teams, such as Georgia Southern, Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Troy, and others. Although they are no longer in the Sun Belt, I also used to root for Florida International and Middle Tennessee State. I like that these teams have a lot of good talent that may have been under the radar in recruiting. Often times these teams can give larger an upset scare (ULM vs Arkansas, App State vs Tennessee, Georgia Southern vs Florida, Troy vs Clemson, just to name a few instances.) A lot of the teams do creative, exciting things on offense, and it is fun to watch.

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Pretenders for 2017

Hello everybody! Cougar Fan here! Last week I went over some teams that I think will be contenders next season. This week I will go over some teams that other people might have high expectations for, but I think may just be “pretenders.”

Florida State

Florida State will have a good team, but I’m not sure they will be good enough to legitimately compete for the College Football Playoff. ESPN ranked them as #2 in their “Too Early Top 25” rankings, but I don’t buy all the hype. The Seminoles are losing some key players from a year ago. Running back Dalvin Cook was one of the best in the nation, and replacing that kind of production in the run game will be difficult. The Seminoles lose some other key talents on the offensive line and on the defense, and I expect them to take a little bit of time to make up for all these losses. And it doesn’t help that they play Alabama week 1.

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It will be tough for FSU to replace Dalvin Cook next season.

Clemson

Yes, another ACC team that I don’t think deserves the hype. Despite coming off of a national championship winning season, the Tigers are losing a number of key players, including star QB Deshaun Watson, wide outs Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, tight end Jordan Leggett, running back Wayne Gallman, line backer Ben Boulware, and more. Those are some elite players that they will have to replace, and I don’t see them having the kind of year that they had last season. Also, with most of the teams at the top of the ACC engaging in some rebuilding next year, I predict that the top teams could all fall to cannibalism within the conference.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys will have a good offense, but they lost too much on defense to make the jump to become a playoff contender. Also, the Big 12 is too even talent wise, and cannibalism may also be an issue.

Auburn

Auburn was 8-5 a year ago. They lost to most of the good teams they played. The two ranked teams they beat included a team that turned out to be grossly overrated and a team that had just lost their star running back to injury. I don’t believe this team will be able to make the jump. The offense was not good last year. They may get some help from Baylor transfer QB Jarett Stidham, but Stidham wasn’t always the best even when he played at Baylor, and the Big 12 doesn’t boast the kind of talent on the defensive front that the SEC does.

Louisville

A shaky situation in the offensive line will keep Lamar Jackson running for his life, and keep the Cards out of the playoff picture.

Georgia

A lot of people are excited about Georgia. They do have some great talent, but I think they won’t quite get it all put together to make a run at the playoff this season.

Contenders for 2017

Hello everybody! Cougar Fan here. In this weeks post, I will go over some teams that I believe will be contenders for next year’s College Football Playoff. Check back next week for some teams others may be excited about, but I think are just “pretenders.”

Contenders (in no particular order):

Alabama

The Tide are returning a lot of talent from last year’s national runner up team. The defense will be good, as always, and I expect Jalen Hurts to further develop in the passing game, improving the offense. They will definitely be contenders.

USC

The Trojans were one of the best teams in the country down the stretch last season, and I expect them to be quite good again. With more experience under his belt, quarterback Sam Darnold should be very effective, and with a quality team around him, USC should contend for the playoff in 2017.

Ohio State

The Buckeyes should be good again next season. The offensive line will be more experienced, and I expect the offense as a whole to run smoother, helping the Buckeyes to have more a chance at playoff contention than last season.

Penn State

Penn State played a very good season last year. The offense was very good, as well as young. I expect the offense to be one of the best in the country. The defense needs to improve in order to become a true playoff contender, and with some more experience than last year, I think they have the ability to do just that.

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Penn State’s Saquon Barkley will be a big part of the Nittany Lion’s explosive offense next season

Washington

The Huskies had a breakout season in 2016, reaching the College Football Playoff. Much of the team is back for this next season, and I expect them to be good again. They do have to replace some big time talent at the defensive back positions, and star wide receiver John Ross is gone, but I expect some younger guys to be able to step up and fill those gaps.

LSU

Leonard Fournette may be gone, but I think that Darius Guice will do a nice job of taking over the feature running back role. The defense will be good, and with a more certain coaching situation I expect LSU to be a national contender this season.\

Check back for the “pretenders” next week!

Only a couple conference reviews left! (Late for 3/10)

Hello, Cougar Fan here. Since I did not do a post last week, we get to review even more conferences this week!

SEC

The SEC had yet another good season. Only two teams from the conference did not go to a bowl game. Alabama was clearly the best team in the conference, going undefeated in the regular season, and representing the Southeastern Conference in the College Football Playoff. They lost an extremely close game to Clemson in the National Championship Game. I expect them to be a legitimate contender yet again next season. The rest of the SEC East was pretty average. LSU did not have as good of a season as originally expected, but injury to star running back Leonard Fournette was a big reason why. In the West division, things were pretty even. Florida won the division, and had a fairly good, but not great, season. Tennessee came in second, despite all the preseason hype they received. Georgia played well at times. The Bulldogs had a young team and are expected to play much better next season. So, overall the SEC had a good season, but the conference is becoming increasingly top heavy.

The Sun Belt

The Sun Belt had a good season. I followed it pretty closely, as the Sun Belt is my favorite conference. Six teams went to bowl games, which was pretty impressive. Appalachian State, Troy, and Arkansas State battled it out for the top spot in the conference. Arkansas State and App State ended up sharing the title, as they did not play each other this year. Troy was close behind, and almost finished with a share of the title, but was upset in the final regular season game of the year, at Georgia Southern. Troy made waves when they lost to Clemson by only one touchdown. Georgia Southern was a bit of a disappointment. They lost too many close games, and despite my high hopes for them, they failed to reach the postseason. Overall, the Sun Belt is definitely on the rise.

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Appalachian State’s Taylor Lamb and Jalen Moore had an impressive season in 2016, and look to have another in 2017

Almost Done With Conference Reviews

Hello, Cougar Fan here. The 2016 season ended a while ago, but we’re in luck, because we still have a few conferences left to review!

Pac-12

The Pac-12 saw some new faces at the top of the leader boards this season. Washington won the conference, and represented the Pac-12 in the 2017 College Football Playoff, losing to Alabama. The Huskies looked very impressive, losing only to USC in the regular season. The Dawgs return a lot of talent for next season, and should be a national contender for the second straight year. Washington State broke their Pac-12 bottom-feeder trend and finished second in the North. The Cougars had a good season, despite losing their first two games, including one to FCS Eastern Washington (granted, EWU is better than a good amount of FBS teams). Stanford didn’t drop too low from previous years, finishing in third. Christian McCaffery was a little bit of a disappointment this year, as he was not as much of a contender for the Heisman Trophy as I, and many others would have liked to see. After being one of the powers in the north for several years, Oregon finished in last place, and didn’t even reach bowl eligibility. I think the Ducks will bounce back next season, but it will be hard to climb all the way back up to the top, especially in the north division. The south also saw a change in guard. After a dismal first few years in the conference, Colorado won the division. The Buffaloes looked good, and finished the year with double digit wins. The Buffs have a lot to replace, so I don’t expect them to be as good next year, but I doubt they will return to the very bottom of the Pac-12. USC started off a little rough, but caught stride after a few weeks. The Trojans were arguably the best team in the country during the latter part of the season. They defeated Penn State in a very exciting Rose Bowl Game. UCLA was worse than expected, and even missed bowl eligibility, but they had had a lot of close losses to good teams. The Bruins will be better next season.

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Jake Browning is looking to lead Washington to another stellar season in 2017

Still not done with conference reviews

Hello everybody. Cougar Fan here. We still have more conferences to review! Woo Hoo!

The Mid American Conference:

Western Michigan made the biggest splash this year out of all the group of 5 conference. Along with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Western Michigan Broncos were one of the only two teams in the entire country to complete an undefeated regular season.They received the group of 5 birth in the New Years Six, going to the Cotton Bowl to face off against the Wisconsin Badgers. They lost by 7 points, but still made a good showing. Head coach P.J. Fleck got hired at Minnesota, since he proved his coaching skills with Western Michigan this season. Other teams in the Mid American Conference had success as well, with 6 teams going to bowl games.

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Western Michigan put together an undefeated regular season, including a MAC championship

Mountain West:

The Mountain West had a little bit of an up and down, but all around good season. Both Boise State and San Diego State spent time in the top 25 rankings, and they both at different points during the season appeared to be in prime position to be headed to the Cotton to represent the group of 5 conferences, but they both fell to upsets. San Diego State won the conference title after defeating Wyoming, who also put together a quality season, in the championship game. Air Force also put together a good season, starting off 4-0, and finishing 10-3. Colorado State and New Mexico also played well, and earned spots in bowl games. However, Fresno State was arguably the worst team in college football, finishing 1-11, with the one win coming against Sacremento, an FCS team. (The major division in college football is the FBS)

Still more conference reviews!

Hi all, Cougar Fan here. Since so many exciting things happened in every conference this past season, we have even more conferences to cover!

Conference USA

The Conference USA had a pretty solid year for their standards, landing 7 teams in bowl games. No team in the conference was ranked. Western Kentucky won the conference championship, and was a good team, finishing with 11 wins. Look out for the Hill Toppers to be strong again next season. Old Dominion also reached double digit wins in a historic season, which included the school’s first bowl appearance and win. Louisiana Tech had a solid year, and provided one of the most exciting bowl games with their win over Navy, which ended on a last second, game-winning field goal. These three teams could continue to climb next season, and perhaps one will make a leap into the national spotlight.

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Western Kentucky won the Conference USA championship this year

Independents:

The Independents are not a conference (which is the whole point of them being independent) but they are still worth talking about. BYU ended up having the best season of all the independents, finishing with 9 wins after playing a very challenging schedule. Army recorded 8 wins, including a win over ranked Navy and a bowl win. Notre Dame had a surprisingly poor season after starting off the year ranked very highly. The Fighting Irish only managed to achieve 4 wins and didn’t make a bowl. (So much for week 1’s game against Texas being a difference making game this season…Notre Dame was ranked in the top ten, and despite the exciting finish to the match up, both ND and Texas fail to reach bowl eligibility after they started off the season with extremely high expectations.)

More to come in the future!

Even More Conference Reviews!

Hey all! Cougar Fan here again! I will be out of the country next week, so here are even more reviews of how the different conferences fared in the 2016 season!

Big Ten

The Big Ten was the best conference in football this year. Despite what people may say about the SEC, the Big Ten was the best this year. Penn State won the conference. The Nittany Lions won 11 games, and only lost 2 in the regular season. They upset Ohio State when Ohio State was poised to be one of, if not the, top ranked teams in the country. Their two losses were a tight game at Pitt, who actually played quite well against top teams this year (Clemson’s only loss), and at then #4 Michigan. Penn State played great down the stretch. They were really clicking in the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin. They lost the Rose Bowl to USC on a last second, long field goal. I am pretty confident that Penn State was one of the four best teams in the country (at least at the end of the year). Ohio State played well during the regular season. Their lone loss at Penn State kept them out of the Big Ten title game, but not out of the College Football Playoff. They did not, however, score a single point in the playoff as they were destroyed by Clemson, who went on to win the National Championship. Michigan was another great team, spending time ranked quite highly in the polls. An upset loss against Iowa, and then a double overtime loss against rival Ohio State kept them out of the Big Ten title game, and then they lost a close one to Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin was also a top ten team. The Badgers only lost three games all year, including the Big Ten Championship to Penn State, and then finished out the year with a win over surprise Group of 5 team Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl. Many other teams played well in the conference, 10 of the conferences 14 teams went to bowl games. Perhaps the biggest surprise within the Big Ten was Michigan State only winning 3 games after a trip to the College Football Playoff in the previous season. Another surprise was Indiana, who played pretty well all season, and got back to a bowl game for the first time in years.

Check back later for more conference reviews!