My Favorite 5 - Week One

Aug 21, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin (left) and Clay Helton at practice at Dedeaux Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

By Ben Johnson - Special to SBNation.com

The daytime temperatures are still as hot as a chilly-pepper, but the daylight hours are getting shorter and there is even a hint of crispness in the early morning hours. It must be football season, finally.

My Favorite 5 is a weekly article I will be running here on the SBNation family of college sports blogs, Conquest Chronicles in particular.

It will feature a look at my four all-time favorite college football programs (USC, Michigan, Arkansas and Boise State) as well as a wildcard section that will feature a kaleidoscopic look across the country to focus your observations while partaking in this wild weekly ride we call college football.

College football covers the spectrum of passions in terms of fandom, but few venture beyond the edges like I do throughout the fall.

I prefer to watch the action at home in the comfort of my office, where I have three TV's stationed to catch all the action, pouring over all the stats I can find to determine who the best of the best is across the country.

Between the three televisions and two notebook computers I will keep you updated on all the action, including who should really be at the top of the polls, as well as leading the Heisman, according to the statistical indexes.

Inside my own personal sports bar as I can be found watching three games simulataneously amid the sweet aroma of smoked turkey, salmon, prime rib or brisket on the meat side, baked potato, steamed vegetables, and fresh strawberry or blackberry margaritas on the fruit and vegetable side, with plenty of chips, salsa and pasta to keep me peppered throughout the day.

And of course the beer and wine will be flowing - there is nothing like college football in the fall.

So in the words of the great Keith Jackson, let's get on with it shall we?

1. The USC Trojans Preview vs Hawai'i:

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Oregon and UCLA played in the inaugural PAC-12 championship game last year in Eugene, but most college football pundits felt that USC was the best team overall, and rightly so.

After a gut-wrenching overtime loss versus Stanford in late October, in which head Lane Kiffin argued repeatedly with the always brutally bad PAC-12 Conference officiating crew given there was still one second remaining on the clock when Marquise Lee ran out of bounds with the Trojans in field goal range in Stanford territory (and he was right), the Trojans rebounded to restore their order of dominance in the conference by defeating Oregon and UCLA to close the season by a combined score of 88-35.

Oregon, who dominated a Stanford program that barely beat the Trojans in overtime, failed to put away a punchless UCLA program inspired by the end of the slick Rick era, in Autzen Stadium no less, would have likely found the same similar misfortune in December versus the Trojans in the same venerable stadium as they did in mid November, assuming the Trojans would have been eligible to play in last years PAC-12 title tilt.

At one point, with the fans streaming out of Autzen late in the third quarter, the Trojans led 38-14 versus a team that had a 21-game home winning streak and was still in contention for a possible repeat national championship game return in back-to-back seasons.

USC was red hot to close the season!

One could make a very reasonable assessment that Oregon's meteoric rise has been the result of USC's short two-year NCAA bowl ban along with major scholarship reductions, but the Men of Troy have recovered nicely.

Look for the Trojans on the streets of Miami during the first week of January in 2013!

Trojan Tale of the Tape:

Returning Starters on Offense 9
Returning Starters on Defense 7
Record 2011 10-2
Record Last 5 Years 50-14
Record Last 5 Bowl Games 4-1
Top-30 KSI Sabermetrics Index Rating QB's: Barkley (#1), WR's: Woods (#3) and Lee (9th), RB's: Redd (#12) and McNeal (#22).
Schedule Rating #30, just behind LSU (#29) and Alabama (#28) - Do you see the irony here?
Home Games: Hawai'i, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona St, Notre Dame
Road Games: Syracuse (East Rutherford), Stanford, Utah, Washington, Arizona, UCLA
Potential Trap Games: In back to back weekends, Oct-4th (Thursday) @ Utah and Oct-13th @ UW












Previewing the Hawai'i Warriors:

For any coach in college football, the first game of the season is always one of nervous anxiety due to the unknowns, but for head coach Norm Chow, a former Trojan assistant coach during the glory days of the dominating BCS era under Pete Carroll, it must be a day he has long anticipated.

The Warriors have always hung their hat on offense with a succession of quarterbacks including Tommy Chang, Colt Brennan and last years incumbant Bryant Moniz, who happen to be the three all-time career passing leaders in Warrior history.

Moniz won many of my weekly KSI Index challenges for quarterbacks with eye-popping numbers during 2010 and 2011 when I first began to become addicted to sports Sabermetrics, but Chang, Brennan and Moniz are nowhere to be found at present.

According to Phil Steele Magazine, the projected starter appears to be David Graves, but whoever lines up under center will have a plethora of receivers to throw to.

Jeremiah Ostrowski (SR) and Billy Ray Stutzmann (JR), one of four receiving tandems to both finish in the Top-30 of the KSI Ratings Index for returning wide receivers in 2012, are the primary playmakers for Hawai'i.

They joined Woods (#3) and Lee (#9) of USC, Chris Givens (#4) and Michael Companaro (#30) of Wake Forest, Sammy Watkins (#7) and DeAndre Hopkins (#27) of Clemson, and Stedman Bailey (#6) and Tavon Austin (#12) of West Virginia so they are in elite company and bring a stiff test to a developing Trojan defense.

It will be interesting to see if the Warriors run the vaunted BYU offense where Chow created his branding identity as an offensive guru, or if he will continue the hybrid Run-and-Shoot offense that Mouse Davis and June Jones ran so successfully bringing the program into the national spotlight.

It may not matter given the Warriors only have 6 starters returning on offense, and even less on defense (4), so this appears to be a building year on the surface.

Considering this is Chow's debut season, much remains to be seen in terms of the type of offense or defensive schemes that will be established or how the personnel, recruited largely by Greg McMackin and June Jones, will be utilized.

Prediction: With only 4 returning starters on defense for Hawai'i playing in a brand new scheme and system, under new coaches against a Trojan offense that may go down as the most prolific ever in college football?

Trojans in a rout, 55-17, and the 17 is a tip of the hat given my respect for Norm Chow.


2. The Michigan Preview vs Alabama:

This is the game of the day on opening weekend, much like the LSU-Oregon affair last year in Jerry World's bananza of a stadium in Arlington, Texas.

It is a huge game for Michigan and much of the Big-Ten, if not the rest of the country as we are all beginning to tire of hearing the SEC bandwagon blasting over the airwaves.

If the Wolverines can somehow beat both Alabama and Notre Dame in the month of September and survive the mid-season trap games versus Michigan State and Nebraska on back-to-back weekends in October, you have to like their chances of running the table considering the only thing that stands between Michigan and a New Years date in Miami, potentially with USC, is a manageable schedule and Ohio State to close the season.

Michigan is playing a Top-5 schedule in terms of difficulty, but they are the only team among this list of five that has the experience and depth to handle the task.

According to Phil Steele Magazine, the most valid statistical reference in the industry, Notre Dame heads this list followed by 2. Ole Miss, 3. Iowa State, 4. Michigan, 5. Florida, 6. Washington, 7. Baylor, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Miami (FL) and 10. Kentucky.

I can't see Notre Dame winning more than 9 games at best. Florida is a maybe with their talent base, but the Gators have to play at Texas A&M, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida State, as well as the Cocktail game against Georgia, as well as hosting LSU, South Carolina and Missouri.

With a two headed inexperienced monster of an issue at quarterback Florida will not be able to handle that kind of schedule, leaving Michigan as the only team within that Top-10 list that can handle a monster schedule.

That maybe easier said than done with Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State looming on the horizon, as well as little brother Sparty, who has now won four straight in the in-state rivalry series.

However, Michigan football is back under Head Coach Brady Hoke and with 50 letterman returning who are all-in under the direction of offensive coordinator Al Borges and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, Michigan is the one team I am predicting that can both survive and take advantage of a top-tier schedule.

But getting by the Tide will be no easy task.

Word on the street is that Denard Robinson took to heart the coaching staff's request to improve his throwing fundamentals and techniques, and if Robinson can make the jump to the upper tier of college football quarterbacks, Mattison will provide enough defense for Michigan to get to Miami and the BCS title game.

To say this is a huge game on opening weekend is a tremendous understatement. The winner gets a big boost, the loser has their backs against the BCS wall, all but eliminated from the national championship picture.

Wolverine Tale of the Tape:

Returning Starters on Offense 6
Returning Starters on Defense 7
Record 2011 11-2
Record Last 5 Years 35-28
Record Last 5 Bowl Games 2-3
Top-30 KSI Sabermetrics Index Rating Denard Robinson #22 in QB Index...other Spread Offense QB's James Franklin (Missour) and Logan Thomas (VTech) finished notably higher.
Schedule Rating #4. (1. Notre Dame, 2. Ole Miss, 3. Iowa St, 4. Michigan, 5. Florida, 6. Washington, 7. Baylor, 8. Texas A&M, 9. Miami (FL), 10. Kentucky.
Home Games: Air Force, UMass, Illinois, Michigan St, Northwestern, Iowa
Road Games: Alabama (Jerry World), Notre Dame, Purdue, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State
Potential Trap Games: Back-2-back weekends in October: October-20th Michigan State, October-27th @ Nebraska.















About The Tide:

The Crimson Tide is the 900 pound gorilla in the living room that can erase Michigan's quest for the title. Although the Tide have won two of the last three BCS championship games, they lost a ton of production on both sides of the ball this off-season.

However, the cupboards are not exactly bare with 6 starters on offense and five on defense returning for a program that has won four of their last 5 bowl games, three of them being of the BCS variety. If this game was in Tuscaloosa, Michigan wouldn't stand a chance given Nick Saban's 88-19 record at home, but arguably the best football coach in the country is a meager 12-8 in neutral site games during his career.

Plus Saban's defense, which he learned while working with Don James, the former Husky legendary coach, is difficult to learn without the proper reps or experience base, especially versus a team running an option or spread hybrid offense or an offense the does a lot of shifts with motion.

Both can be found within the Al Borges scheme, but Robinson's development as a passer prevented much of the shifts and motions a year ago. I am anxious to see his development in this department.

This is the major question going into this game. If Robinson has progressed, advantage Michigan!

SEC Hype: Fact or Fiction?

You've heard it before, the hype of the SEC as voiced by our supposed neutral national media (ESECPN), but Alabama misses Florida, Georgia, Vandy and South Carolina this year on the SEC schedule, so the next time you hear the hype of the best conference in the country, just understand all these teams do not play each other year in-year out.

You can't really call it the toughest conference when the toughest teams do not play each other can you?

Compare the Tide's schedule and overall strength of schedule rating of 30th with Ole Miss (#2) or Kentucky (#10).

Ole Miss misses Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida, but must play Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Vanderbilt, LSU and Mississippi State.

Kentucky misses Mississippi, Georgia, Vandy and Texas A&M, but must play Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.

The team in the SEC that really makes out like a bandit this year is Georgia.

They miss Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, three of the Top-5 teams nationally a year ago.

Like the potential falsity of Lance Armstrong's string of 7 straight titles, the SEC is no different. Enter in the fact most of the SEC, like Alabama, never leaves the footprint of the south.

Alabama travels to Arlington for a date with Michigan and away games versus Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and LSU...that's only 5 travel dates folks with only Missouri being a marginally non-southern regional contest.

So you have a historically fabled program that will play 8 home games, two against Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, and five away games, never traveling farther than a two hour plane flight, missing the heart of the SEC schedule in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, yet will be promoted as if they are playing this monster juggernaut of a schedule.

Ditto for Georgia!

As if Missouri and Texas A&M add to the myth of the SEC, the Big-12 announced yesterday how happy they are to replace the Aggies and Tigers with two annually ranked programs on the rise in West Virginia and TCU.

In comparison, look for USC to be demonized by their so called lack of strength found within the PAC-12 Conference, even though Oregon, Stanford and USC (prevented by NCAA sanctions) were all Top-10 teams last year to close the season

Here is a quick Trojan comparison to Alabama.

1. Barkely and crew will miss the two bottom dwellers of the PAC-12 over the past two seasons in Oregon State and Washington State, yet travel 3,000 miles cross country to play an improving Syracuse program.

2. They travel to Stanford to play a program as successful as any in the last four years, which has beaten them four of the last 5 seasons.

3. They get a Utah program that blitzed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl several years ago (twice finishing undefeated in the last decade, with the #3 RB according to the KSI Index Rating in John White).

4. They play one of the best quarterbacks in the country (Keith Price - 10th in the KSI Index Rating for QB's) on the lake in Seattle.

5. They must tackle Rich Rodriguez' offensively rich program in Arizona in Tucson!

6. If the season goes to form, they will likely get Oregon twice, just as Alabama and LSU hooked up twice last season.

So I ask you, who is playing the tougher schedule, especially when all those teams in the SEC are playing Oregon-esque non-conference schedules (Arkansas State and Tennessee Tech) and avoiding many of the juggernauts of the conference?

There are no Western Kentucky's and Florida Atlantic's to be found on the Trojan schedule, but you will see them on Alabama's schedule.

The SEC really survives and gains its power from the strength of four programs - LSU, Florida, Alabama and Auburn, but what have Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Arkansas or Kentucky accomplished in the last decade that Utah, Stanford, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, West Virginia, Boise State, TCU and a host of others hasn't?

Oregon beat Tennessee 45-10 in 2010, Boise State beat Georgia last year 35-21, USC beat Arkansas in back-to-back seasons, blitzing them both times even though the Hogs could be heard saying on national television the USC was just another SEC team.

The Trojans put up 70 on the Hogs!

Even the LSU-Oregon affair a year ago was a case of the Tigers dominating the turnover department. That game was actually moving in Oregon's direction until the barrage of turnovers early in the third quarter, yet the media portrayed the game as a rout for LSU.

The Oregon-Auburn title game was as good as it gets, coming down to a freak tackle and long run that resulted in a game ending field goal to break the tie.

Is that really as dominating as the media portrays?

Yes, LSU, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia and South Carolina are elite programs but they dodge the bulk of the conference on an annual basis, generally play 8 home games, two against Sun-Belt, C-USA or Directional-U opponents (or worse) and yet dodge each other while collecting constant raves and reviews by our national media regarding how tough it is to play their schedule.

So is the strength and power of the SEC a question of myth or reality, especially given the fraudulent nature of the polling system, which is based on a 50-year traditional hierarchy and personal bias, rife with conflicts of interest on the coaching and SID side of the equation, in addition to being woefully ill informed because coaches and SID's do not watch all the games?

Don't drink the Kool-aid folks.

See it for what it is.

Game Prediction: In a wild upset that will spring Michigan forward, Wolverines 27 - Alabama 21.

3. The Arkansas Preview vs Jacksonville State

This off-season was one of the most tumultuous in college football history given what happened at Penn State and Arkansas. The Hogs were primed for a national championship run coming off an 11-2 season where they were last seen beating up on a one dimensional Kansas State offense, 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl.

But Arkansas is still a distant third in the SEC behind LSU and Alabama, especially on the defensive side of the equation.

The three premier programs in the SEC who have won the bulk of the BCS national championships for the conference in their decade of dominance are LSU, Alabama and Florida. Everyone else is about even with the other elite programs across the country...Arkansas included!

One thing is a certainty for the Hogs.

The offense will not skip much of a beat with Tyler Wilson returning to lead the offense. You have to respect a guy who got pelted last year versus LSU and the Tide so many times you wondered if his head was actually inside that helmet of his, which was seen flying through the air on many occasions.

He flat out got pounded, yet hung in the pocket when many others would have been rattled. That was impressive!

Plus the fact that he was one of two Razorback teammates that jumped up out of the monumental team meeting with Arkansas AD Jeff Long when Bobby Petrino was fired and told the entire roster in attendance to sit their ass down when they bolted to the door after Long's announcement!

That's leadership and toughness, which is what I expect to see out of Arkansas' offense, especially in the early going when they play a couple of cupcakes in Jacksonville State and UL-Monroe to open the season, both at home, although the second game is in Little Rock.

In combination with Knile Davis, who was injured all of last season, I look for USC, West Virginia, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida State, Oregon and Clemson to have the most prolific offenses in the country with multiple targets to keep the defense's from stacking the box.

Both Wilson and Davis scored high in my KSI Index Rating for quarterbacks and running backs. Both finished 6th in each category, for Davis, we utilized his 2010 stats, which would have enabled him to finish behind Rex Burkhead of Nebraska and Stephan Taylor of Stanford in 2011.

Wisconsin's run oriented offense allowed Monte Ball to run away with the Pre-Season KSI Index Rating for running backs, but Ball has nothing on Davis since Davis does his dancing inside the SEC West, most noted for the defensive prowess of the front four.

Davis may in fact be the best back in the country, which is really going to open up the passing lanes for Tyler Wilson and that vaunted offense.

Bobby Petrino's brother, Paul, will call the offense and you can bet your bottom dollar the two will confer back and forth and share film overviews, so Bobby Petrino will still have an influence on that offense.

The major question, similar to both USC and Michigan, is the defense, and at present, the defense is nowhere near the elite level in the SEC, let alone the rest of the country.

The Razorback offense bailed the defense out on multiple occasions last season and I don't expect much of a change on that side of the ball this year, but it will make for great TV for college football purists.

Arkansas Tale of the Tape:

Returning Starters on Offense 7
Returning Starters on Defense 8
Record in 2011 11-2
Record Last 5 Years 42-22
Record Last 5 Bowl Games 2-3
Top-30 KSI Index Rating QB's: Tyler Wilson (#6), RB's Knile Davis (#6)
Schedule Rating 18
Home Games Jacksonville State, UL-Monroe, Alabama, Rutgers, Kentucky, Ole Miss, LSU
Road Games Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State
Trap Games The Hogs start with two cupcakes in the firs two weeks, but then must take on Alabama, Rutgers, Texas A&M and Auburn in successive weeks. The season will be defined by then with questions about the return of John L. Smith answered!



















The Hogs will need to finish up similar to Oklahoma State last year on defense; a defense that bent a lot but created turnovers and simply outscored opponents on offense.

But Oklahoma State made its run last year...can the Hogs make a similar run inside the SEC West? With Petrino, maybe...with John L. Smith, I'm not so sure.

I won't take the time to preview Jacksonville State since I find it embarrassing that they are even on the Hogs schedule, although it was Jacksonville State that sent Ole Miss spiraling in Jeremiah Masoli's debut a couple seasons ago, but this Razorback offense is much stronger than the one Masoli inherited.

This one will be a yawner unless the John L. Smith factor comes into play and the coaches end up screwing it up.

Prediction: Hogs 62 - Jacksonville State 10.

4. The Boise State Preview vs Michigan State:

The state of Michigan will be wild on opening weekend with the Wolverines facing off with Alabama and the Spartans hosting Boise State. This will be the fourth year in a row that Boise is taking on a college football giant and three of the four have been on the road to begin the season.

This is a program that wins. This is a program that out prepares every program in the country given Boise doesn't have the 4 and five star recruits when they fly in to Boise as freshman, but by the time they leave, they are men among boys.

Some day I hope to see USC and Boise, or LSU and Boise lock horns as it will finally put to rest this is not just a good team that plays in a weak conference.

Kellen Moore is gone, but Boise has been here before after the 2006 Orange Bowl and their epic come back against the Sooners on national television.

They had stars that graduated then, just as they are looking to replace last years crop of seniors which included Moore and 1st Round draft pick Doug Martin, who has seemingly boosted Tampa Bays running attack so far in the NFL pre-season.

Boise may in fact lose this opening game due to inexperience, but there are enough winners on the Bronco sideline who will make a game of it, especially within the offensive line.

Look for Boise to return to multiple shifts, motions and a plethora of trick plays as the coaching staff will try to out coach opposing defenses while bringing the offense together as the season progresses.

This may in fact be the best game of the day in college football - Don't miss it, it is must see TV!

Boise State Tale of the Tape:

Returning Starters on Offense 5

Returning Starters on Defense

2
Record in 2011 12-1
Record Last 5 Years 60-6
Record Last 5 Bowl Games 3-2
Top-30 KSI Index Rating None, Kellen Moore finished 4th last year behind Russell Wilson (3rd) and ahead of Matt Barkley (5th).
Schedule Rating 71st, just behind Florida State!
Home Games Miami (OH), BYU (TH), Fresno State, UNLV, SDSU, Colorado State
Road Games Michigan State, New Mexico, Southern Miss, Wyoming, Hawai'i, Nevada.
Trap Games Assuming they get by Michigan State to open the season, the Broncos travel to Southern Miss and then get Fresno State at home the first two weekends of October. Wyoming will be improved and Nevada is always tough on the road.




















Prediction: Too much youth and inexperience for Boise...Michigan State 24 - Boise 17.


Here's the rub for me with Boise and the entire BCS process.

I follow Phil Steele a lot as his index tables are similar to mine, although I think I present them in simpler context. His Mag has Florida State's strength of schedule ranked at 70th and Georgia at 72nd.

Boise is 71st, yet all we hear is how they play a weak schedule!

So here is something to chew on as you channel click through Saturday afternoon and hear all the media manipulation which is largely slanted towards the blue blood royalty in college football.

How can a quarterback such as Kellen Moore, who went 50-3 in his career at Boise State, who beat Oregon twice in successive seasons (PAC-12 Champions/Rose Bowl) as well as Virginia Tech (ACC Champions) and Georgia (SEC title game) during his career be barred from playing for the national championship when the strength of schedule for Boise is equal to Florida State and Georgia, two historical powers that are very much in the discussion for the national championship this year?

How can we the fans let that happen?


5. Inside The Kaleidoscope:

This section will have more meaning as we progress through the season, but here are three teams, three players and three coaches that I am interested in watching during Week #1!


The Players:

1. QB's: I am anxious to see how Denard Robinson (Michigan), Logan Thomas (VTech) and Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) get out of the gate on opening weekend.

Running quarterbacks provide an extra dimension for any defense and these are three of the best running quarterbacks in the country, but I am interested to see if there is any improvement in their passing game production.

If there is, all three players and the programs they play for will be among the national championship and Heisman discussion.

2. WR's: The PAC-12 has this position nailed down in terms of the best in the country, but here are a few names you might not know about but need to keep and eye on who had monster stats in 2011:

- Nick Harwell - JR (Miami-OH): 1,388 Yds, 12 TD's, 16.9 Y/P/C, 115.7 Y/P/G.
- Quinton Patton - SR (LA-Tech): 1,206 Yds, 11 TD's, 15.2 Y/P/C, 92.5 Y/P/G.
- Jalen Saunders - JR (Fresno State): 1,065 Yds, 12 TD's, 21.3 Y/P/C, 82 Y/P/G.

3. RB's: Everyone knows about Monte Ball, Knile Davis, Rex Burkhead, Stephan Taylor and Marcus Lattimore, but few recognize Robby Rouse (Fresno State), Giovani Bernard (UNC) and Zac Stacy (Vandy).

See how they finished in the KSI Index Rating for returning running backs in 2012:


Player / School

Yr

G

C


YDS


TD’s


Yds P/C


Yds P/GM


KSI Score

1. Montee Ball (Wisc)

SR

14

307

4

1923

1

33

1

6.26

4

141.25

1

11

2. Robby Rouse (Fresno)

SR

13

329

1

1549

2

13

9

4.71

21

119.15

2

35

3. John White (Utah)

SR

13

316

3

1519

3

15

7

4.81

19

116.85

3

35

4. Rex Burkhead (Neb)

SR

13

284

5

1357

4

15

7

4.78

20

104.38

5

41

5. Stephan Taylor (Stan)

SR

13

242

11

1330

5

10

11

5.50

10

102.31

6

43

6. Knile Davis (Arkansas)

JR

13

204

19

1322

6

13

9

6.48

3

101.69

7

44

7. Isi Sofele (CAL)

SR

13

252

7

1322

6

10

11

5.25

13

101.69

7

44

8. Giovani Bernard (UNC)

SO

13

239

12

1253

7

13

9

5.24

14

96.38

8

50

9. Joseph Randle (OKSt)

JR

13

208

18

1216

9

24

3

5.85

8

93.54

12

50

10. Marcus Lattimore (S. Car)*

JR

13

249

8

1197

10

17

5

4.81

19

92.08

13

55

11. Henry Josey (Missou)

JR

10

145

25

1168

14

9

12

8.06

1

116.80

4

56

12. Silas Redd (USC-PSU)

JR

13

244

9

1241

8

7

14

5.09

16

95.46

10

57

13. Zac Stacy (Vandy)

SR

13

201

20

1193

11

14

8

5.94

7

91.77

14

60

14. Denard Robinson (Mich)*QB

SR

13

221

16

1176

13

16

6

5.32

11

90.46

16

62

15. Andre Ellington (Clem)

SR

13

223

15

1178

12

11

10

5.28

12

90.62

15

64

Colin Klein (KState)*QB

SR

13

317

2

1141

17

27

2

3.60

26

87.77

18

65

Lyle McCombs (UCONN)

SO

12

275

6

1151

15

7

14

4.19

24

95.92

9

68

Chris Nwoke (Colo St)

JR

12

200

21

1130

18

9

12

5.65

9

94.17

11

71

Kedrick Rhodes (FIU)

SO

13

234

13

1149

16

8

13

4.91

18

88.38

17

77

Cameron Marshall (ASU)

SR

13

230

14

1050

20

18

4

4.57

22

80.77

21

81

Curtis McNeal (USC)

SR

12

145

25

1005

21

6

15

6.93

2

83.75

20

83

Cierre Wood (N. Dame)

SR

13

217

17

1102

19

9

12

5.08

17

84.77

19

84

Kenjon Barner (Oregon)

SR

12

152

23

939

25

11

10

6.18

6

78.25

22

86

Tevin Washington (GTech)*QB

SR

13

243

10

987

22

14

8

4.06

25

75.92

24

89

Ray Graham (Pitt)*

SR

12

148

24

922

26

8

13

6.23

5

76.83

23

91

James Franklin (Missou)*QB

JR

13

217

17

981

23

15

7

4.52

23

75.46

25

95

Le’Veon Balll (Mich St)

JR

14

182

22

948

24

13

9

5.21

15

67.71

26

96




Coaches On The Hot Seat:

1. Mike Riley - Oregon State
2. John L Smith - Arkansas
3. Derek Dooley - Tennessee

Three coaches who are facing major stress in the opening weeks of the season for differing circumstances.

For Mike Riley, who along with Dennis Erickson are largely responsible for pulling Oregon State out of the depths of 28 straight losing seasons, another bad start in 2012 could spell doom for his tenure with the Beavers.

Oregon State can ill afford to begin another long losing trend given the precarious financial nature of the current college football economy in 2012, especially with Oregon 40 miles down the road enjoying epic success. The Beavers need a fast start and another return to a bowl game to save his job.

Derek Dooley faced harsh circumstances in his first two seasons after becoming the third consecutive coach in three seasons after the initial firing of long time Volunteer coach Phil Fulmer, which in my opinion was a major mistake for the school in hindsight.

I wonder how those administrators feel now?

The Vols have gone backwards since the firing and the natives are getting restless with Dooley.

The Vols need to keep pace in the SEC East with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, but another dismal season will vanquish Tennessee's status as one of the perennial big dawgs of the SEC.

The Vols miss LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Arkansas, but must face NC State, Florida and Georgia in the first five weeks of the season. A bad start and Dooley's fate will be sealed.

It is a strange twist to see John L. Smith on the hot seat when he hasn't even coached a game at the school as a head coach, but expectations for this team are surreal in Fayetteville!

Nothing less than a national championship game appearance, or perhaps getting to the SEC championship game will transform Smith's interim tag into a full-time coach name plate.

It's all or nothing for Arkansas and if they drop a game or two early, the season could unravel given the precarious nature of events that occurred last April.

Smith, who is one of the nice guys in the coaching world, faces a tough task but we are rooting for you John...let's just hope you can lead the Hogs better than you can manage your finances!


Three BCSBusters To Watch:

1. Ohio
2. Fresno State
3. Boise State

CNNSI.com likes Ohio for some reason, but an easy schedule is the last thing that will get Ohio into the BCS discussion...just ask Boise State.

Boise State is young and unproven and if they couldn't get into the title game after going 50-3 during the last three seasons, including 8-1 versus BCS programs since 2006, who can among the BCSBusters?

The only team on their schedule that can really help them is Michigan State and even if they beat the Spartans, Michigan State may not even get close to the Big Ten title game, let alone into the national championship discussion with the loss of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Those are big shoes to fill for Sparty given Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State will all be better in 2012.

So my BCSBuster is one of the original BCSBusters considering Pat Hill was one of the first to coin the phrase and his "We will play you anyplace, anytime, anywhere" mantra was effective for a lot of years.

Hill has been replaced as the program stalled and paled in comparison with Boise State, but he didn't exactly leave the cupboards bare.

The offense is loaded with star potential at all three skill positions and the schedule can help them, especially if they run the table as they will have beaten both Oregon and Boise State in the process.

Derek Carr, brother of David Carr, is 5th in the Pre-Season KSI Index Rating for Quarterbacks. Running back Robby Rouse was second in the KSI Index Rating for RB's and WR Jalen Saunders was 16th for receivers. If the Defense can create some turnovers, there is enough offense to upset Oregon, Colorado, Boise and Nevada and then it is just a matter of running the table.

Beating Oregon would really bump them up in the BCS discussion, especially if Oregon ends up winning another PAC-12 title, since they would have to beat USC at least once to accomplish this task.

Keep an eye on the Bulldogs!

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