Tag:West Virginia
Posted on: September 28, 2010 7:47 pm
 

National notes

What the hell happened to the Big East?

No one was predicting a national championship this season, but things were looking up weren't they? Pittsburgh had a bonafide Heisman candidate in Dion Lewis. UConn was going to beat Michigan and begin the end for Rich Rod. West Virginia had Noel Devine. Cincinnati wasn't 12 wins good, but it was 10 wins good. Right?

The only thing good about the league at this point is that September is ending. At least the Big East can start 0-0 in October. It was 1-10 against BCS conference schools in September. Every team in the league has at least one loss. There are no ranked teams. UConn has changed quarterbacks. There has been an APB sent out for Lewis. Syracuse? There's hope. The Orange are 3-1.

Remember, this was the league that Paul Tagliabue thought was worth saving.

Here's what went (really, really) wrong.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati. The Bearcats were thinking the worst and hoping for the best. Turns out that Kelly did have the magic touch to get a mid-major into a BCS bowl. It also turns out that the growing pains under Butch Jones were going to be significant.  A 1-3 start means the Bearcats have one less loss than they have had in last two seasons combined (four).

Rutgers never capitalized. It was almost four years ago that Rutgers lit up the nation and New York with that magic win over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights didn't follow through to win the Big East and capture that BCS berth. Greg Schiano keeps recruiting well but Rutgers has lost that Cinderella the program had. It dropped to 2-1 Saturday with a loss to North Carolina.

Ditto for South Florida. Wasn't it just three years ago that the Bulls rose to the No. 2 in the country? South Florida was a fun story for a while under fiery coach Jim Leavitt. Then they always seemed to fade in November. Leavitt got sideways with the administration and may have struck a player. A lawsuit trying to dispel that assertion is what takes most of his time lately. Skip Holtz was the right hire but it's going to take time. Actually, the Bulls might have the brightest outlook after one month. They stuck with Florida for a half and should be 4-1 heading to Morgantown on Oct. 14.

Pittsburgh underachieved again. The Panthers were a prohibitive favorite to win the league in the preseason. They still might do it but have already lost twice. Thursday's four-touchdown rout by Miami was embarrassing. There will be no 10-win repeat.

Four of the league's eight teams have switched coaches in the last two years.
Remember, continuity is a good thing.

There's always Temple and/or Villanova. The two schools have been rumored to join the league as a way of bolstering its major-market profile if and when the Big Ten gets the expansion jones again. There was a report that the league may be interested in TCU. Makes sense for both sides, sort of. If TCU loses once in the Mountain West, it could be out of the BCS running. If it loses three times (non-conference games) while playing in the Big East, it could still get a BCS bowl.

None of that fixes what's wrong now. 

The top 10 September teams (No preseason polls involved. Strictly based on accomplishments to date)

1. Alabama -- beat two ranked teams, one top 10 team on the road. No drop off after losing nine defensive starters.
2. Boise State -- beat two ranked teams, one on the "road" (Virginia Tech). No drop off after undefeated season.
3. Stanford -- Most underrated team in the country. Andrew Luck could win the Heisman. Cardinal could win the Pac-10.
4. Auburn -- Complete team now with Cam Newton.
5. Nebraska -- Defense alone could get it to national championship game.
6. Oregon -- Scorched the earth until Arizona State, then Devils handed them a game by turning it over seven times.
7. Arizona -- Win over Iowa was biggest in years.
8. NC State -- Won twice impressively on the road (Central Florida, Georgia Tech). Suddenly an ACC favorite.
9. Ohio State -- Against the only upright opponent showed flaws but still picked off four Miami passes. Still waiting for Big Ten sked.
10. Michigan -- Can't argue with 4-0 for the second straight season. Denard Robinson emerging as Heisman favorite.

The Quarter Pole

(The best after four games. Team and player)

Best of the Big East: West Virginia, Jordan Todman (UConn)
Best of the Big 12: Nebraska, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)
Best of the ACC: NC State, Russell Wilson (NC State)
Best of the SEC: Alabama, Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Best of Conference USA: East Carolina, Bryce Beall (Houston)
Best of the Pac-10: Oregon, Andrew Luck (Stanford)
Best of the Mountain West: TCU, Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Best of the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee, Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Best of the WAC: Boise State, Kellen Moore (Boise State)
Best of the MAC: Temple, Bernard Pierce (Temple)

Posted on: September 12, 2010 11:38 am
 

The Day After in CFB

The day the ACC died: OK, maybe too harsh but it was certainly one of the worst days in ACC football since expansion.  All four ranked teams lost -- No.  12 Miami (to No. 2 Ohio State); No. 13 Virginia Tech (to James Madison); No. 15 Georgia Tech (to Kansas) and No. 17 Florida State (to No. 10 Oklahoma). The rest of the league (unranked teams) was 4-1. Overall, the ACC was 4-5.

It could get worse next week: Cincinnati plays at NC State on Thursday. On Saturday, Clemson is at Auburn, Duke hosts Alabama, BYU comes to Florida State, Maryland is at West Virginia and East Carolina goes to Virginia Tech.

Get your No. 16 jersey, while they last: If Denard Robinson isn't hot enough, check out what may be a bit of foreshadowing from the Michigan Daily.
 

YouTube sensations: The two most jaw-dropping plays of the day. Kyle Rudolph's catch and run vs. Michigan and LaMichael James' incredible run against Tennessee.

Rockin' the mic: Following an embarrassing 35-0 home-opening loss to Stanford, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel grabbed a microphone and addressed the Rose Bowl crowd. "We'll get better," he said, "We can't get any worse that we were tonight ... I promise you, we will not give up. We'll be back."

It suddenly seems like a long time since Neuheisel led a pep rally after his first game. It's been only two years.

Miami fans never cease to amaze: While there only seemed to be 3,000-5,000 in the stands at Ohio Stadium, they made themselves known. The kid at the Columbus airport was interesting. Cut into the back of his head by an enterprising barber: "U Swag"

Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:47 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 3:05 pm
 

Breakng down the West Virginia allegations

Rich Rodriguez now has an alleged pattern of NCAA abuses stretching back five years at two different schools.

The NCAA on Thursday accused West Virginia of major violations going back to 2005. Most of the allegations deal with non-coaching staff interacting with players during offseason voluntary workouts.

You can see the entire 10-page notice of allegations here. David Price's letter to West Virginia president James Clements is here. Price is the outgoing NCAA vice president of enforcement.

The accusations involve both Rodriguez and current West Virginia coach Bill Stewart. Rodriguez and Michigan already are awaiting a hearing before the NCAA infractions committee next week in Seattle. The football program is accused of five major violations that occurred in 2008 and 2009.

At both schools, the NCAA said Rodriguez, "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program." The NCAA said the same thing about Stewart, who was an assistant to Rodriguez at West Virginia.

This latest NCAA dust-up could impact the job security of both Rodriguez and Stewart. Stewart has won won 18 games in first two seasons since replacing Rodriguez. Rodriguez already is under pressure after going 8-16 in his first two seasons since replacing Lloyd Carr.

Michigan already has self-penalized in its case. Rodriguez allegedly violated the maximum 20-hour "work week" rule for players. It could be a strange next few months for Rich Rod and the Wolverines. The infractions committee's findings on the football program could be handed down in the middle of the season.

Think of Michigan getting the NCAA hammer the week of the Ohio State game.  

Some of the juicier tidbits from the notice of allegations ...

*West Virginia is being asked its position on whether Rodriguez and Stewart, "knew or should have known that non-coaching sport-specific staff members involvement ... was permissible."

Putting that in focus, the NCAA essentially found that USC should have known about Reggie Bush's relationship nefarious marketers who were funneling him money.

*Among the West Virginia staff in question is a video grad assistant and an academic grad assistant. The NCAA alleged that these members coached players through "skill-development activities" at least two days a week during the offseason. Offseason practice, aside from spring practice, is considered voluntary and is not allowed to be viewed or worked by coaches.

*During the 2005-06 academic year, certain members of the Mountaineers' non-coaching staff allegedly analyzed film with players. From 2005-2009 non-coaching staff basically conducted voluntary workouts at times, according to the NCAA.

*From 2005-2010 the NCAA said the "football staff failed to consistently communicate the [West Virginia] compliance staff." During a week in October 2006, the NCAA said West Virginia violated the 20-hour work week maximum by 75 minutes.

*Perhaps most telling for West Virginia, the NCAA is asking for the won-loss records for the last four seasons including the dates and results and all postseason competition. Never mind that the NCAA could fire up a laptop or open a Big East media guide to get those results. Is the NCAA looking into vacating victories?

*Also, the NCAA wants a review of West Virginia's television appearances over the next three seasons. That includes a look at all TV contracts. The NCAA hasn't taken away TV appearances as a penalty in years. However, it's clear these allegations are serious.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 7, 2010 4:50 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2010 5:51 pm
 

Preseason mags' top 25

We love the polls. College football polls to be specific. Preseason college football polls to be exact.

There is the annual cry to get rid of them. Hogwash. First, the Associated Press isn't going to disappoint its subscribers by scrapping one of its most popular offerings of the year. Second, there would be no preseason magazines without preseason top 25s.

And last time I checked, the magazines aren't going away either. We need them. We want them. The likes of Athlon and Lindy's are selling better than ever. There are regional editions. Sure, some of them outdated by the time they hit the stands. (USC No. 3, Athlon? Really?) That's OK. The sport is year-round now. It's not going to stop for a printing press.

The mags' arrival officially stirs the juices. Suddenly, it's OK to break down the Sun Belt, predict the WAC. Argue about the SEC East. That's why this blog is devoted to one of my annual obsessions -- a combined poll from all the preseason magazines.

I combined five polls, from The Sporting News, Phil Steele, Lindy's, Athlon. Yahoo Sports and CBSSports.com. Our official preseason poll won't come out until late August. For this purpose, then, I'm using my post-spring top 25.

A few notes, rules and notifications:

*Each school was assigned a number in descending order. Twenty-five points for a No. 1 ranking, 24 for No. 2, etc.

*Schools are then ranked from highest-point total to lowest.

*I also included an average poll rank, mostly because not all the schools were named in all five polls. Example: Oregon State finished No. 25 because it got 11 points from being ranked No. 15 in The Sporting News.  The likes of Cincinnati (eight points) and Utah (five) were ranked in two polls but finished with fewer total points than Oregon State.

*Thirty seven schools received votes.

*Alabama was not a consensus No. 1. Phil Steele made some waves by picking Oklahoma No. 1.

The annual compilation:

1. Alabama: Duh. Haven't lost an SEC regular-season game since 2007. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest, No. 3 (148 points, Avg. rank between No. 1 and No. 2)

2. Ohio State: The Big Ten is back. Ohio State never left. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. 3. (142 points. Avg. rank between No. 2 and No. 3)

3. Boise State: Should be a consensus top five pick with major polls debut next month. Highest rank, No. 2. Lowest rank, No. No. 6. (136 points. Average rank between No. 3 and No. 4)

4. Florida: Fastest team in the country, again. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 7. (123 points. Avg. rank between No. 5 and No. 6)

5. TCU: Nation's best defense the past two seasons. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 11. (113 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

6. Nebraska: Fitting that these two are tied. They hate each other. Highest rank, No. 5. Lowest rank, No. 11 (112 points. Average rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

7. Oregon: Most talent in the Pac-10. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 15 (111 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

8. Texas: Adding physicality to offense. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. No. 11 (110 points. Avg. rank between No. 7 and No. 8)

9. Oklahoma: Rebuilding into Big 12 and national power again. Highest rank, No. 1. Lowest rank, No. 12. (106 points. Avg. rank between No. 8 and No. 9)

10. Virginia Tech: Class of the ACC until further notice. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 13. (94 points. Avg. rank between No. 10 and No. 11)

11. (tie) USC: Two-year bowl ban begins. Does the dynasty continue? Highest rank, No. 3. Lowest rank, No. 16. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

Iowa: Sexy dark horse pick in the Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 8. Lowest rank, No. 14. (90 points. Avg. rank No. 11)

13. Wisconsin: Fresh from pounding Miami. Factor in Big Ten. Highest rank, No. 6. Lowest rank, No. 23. (82 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

14. Miami: Starting to look like Canes of old. Highest rank, No. 4. Lowest rank, No. 14. (79 points. Avg. rank between No. 12 and No. 13)

15. Florida State: New coach, healthy quarterback. Great prospects. Highest rank, No. 14. Lowest rank, No. 20. (60 points, Avg. rank No. 16)

16. Arkansas: Petrino starting to work his magic with Ryan Mallett. Highest rank, No. 16. Lowest rank, No. 21. (50 points, Avg. rank between No. 17 and No. 18)

17. North Carolina: Nation's best defense? Highest rank, No. 12. Lowest rank, No. 24. (48 points. Avg. rank No. 18)

18. Pittsburgh: Coming first 10 win season since 1981. Highest rank, No. 14. Not ranked by Steele. (45 points. Avg. rank No. 17)

19. LSU: Les Miles on the hot seat? Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Steele. (35 points. Avg. rank No. 19)

20. Georgia Tech:
Defending ACC champs seem to have gotten better. Highest rank, No. 13. Not ranked by Steele, Yahoo and Athlon. (30 points. Avg. rank No. 16)

21. Auburn: Chizik not ready to cede state to Alabama. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by Lindy's and Yahoo. (29 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

22. Penn State: JoePa going for No. 400. Highest rank, No. 18. Not ranked by Sporting News. (27 points. Avg. rank No.  20 and No. 21)

23. Georgia: New AD could be the least of Dawgs' problems. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com and Sporting News. (24 points. Avg. rank No. 20)

24. West Virginia: Noel Devine could carry 'Neers to a BCS bowl. Highest rank, No. 19. Not ranked by Athlon and Yahoo. (16 points. Avg. rank No. 22)

25. Oregon State: Mike Riley always has Beavers in contention. Highest rank, No. 15. Not ranked by CBSSports.com, Steele, Lindy's and Athlon. (15 points. Avg. rank between No. 18 and No. 19)

Other teams receiving votes: Notre Dame, Connecticut, Missouri, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Utah, Houston, Clemson, Arizona, Stanford, Washington, Navy.

Notes: To no one's surprise the SEC led all conferences with six teams in the top 25 (Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Georgia) ... To everyone's surprise, the ACC was second with five teams (Virginia Tech, Miami, Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech) ... The Big 12 had three of the top 10 (Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska) ... The ACC, Big Ten and Big 12 each had three teams in the top 15 ... Every national champion since 1999 is represented in the top 25 ... Six states had multiple teams in the poll. Florida led all states with three (Miami, Florida, Florida State).

 

Posted on: July 6, 2010 11:38 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 12:47 pm
 

Son of fresh faces

Friday I offered up 10 fresh faces to watch for 2010. Here are 21 more ...


Nick Becton, OT, Virginia Tech -- This sophomore replaces three-year starter Ed Wang at left tackle.

Kolton Browning, QB, Louisiana-Monroe -- Redshirt beat out senior Trey Revell.

Clemson quarterbacks -- Depending on whether Kyle Parker signs a major-league contract. That means either fifth-year senior Michael Wade or redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd will take over.

Michael Dyer, RB, Auburn -- Alabama-Auburn is heating up again. Gene Chizik landed a top five recruit to go with new quarterback Cameron Newton.

Vidal Hazelton, WR, Cincinnati -- Transfer from USC could take over for Mardy Gilyard as the go-to guy.

Brandon Jenkins, DE, Florida State -- The progress of Florida State's defense under Mark Stoops will be one of the biggest stories going into '10. This redshirt sophomore is starting at rush end, a glamour position.

Skylar Jones, QB, Wake Forest -- Takes over for Riley Skinner. The junior won the job in the spring after not throwing a pass last season.

Logan Kilgore, QB, Middle Tennessee -- Transfer from Bakersfield (Calif). College, threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Dwight Dasher is the man but Kilgore could be the next man.

Dan Mason, LB, Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh's starting middle linebacker has been All-Big East first team each of the last five years. Will Mason make it six in a row as a sophomore?

Lamar Miller, TB, Miami -- With Graig Cooper rehabbing a knee hurt in the bowl, this homegrown redshirt freshman could be a savior.

Jason Peters, DE, Georgia Tech -- Al Groh was hired to install the 3-4. There is more pressure on the ends in that alignment. Peters was one of the stars of the spring.

Tydreke Powell, DT, North Carolina -- Overshadowed on one of the best defenses in the country.

Ryan Radcliff, QB, Central Michigan -- If you're asking who will replace Dave LeFevour, this is the guy. The redshirt sophomore threw 21 passes last season.

Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State -- This sophomore is replacing NCAA rushing leader Ryan Mathews in the Central Valley. Runs like Jacquizz Rodgers with similar measureables -- 5-foot-7, 185.

Rutgers Super Sophs -- Six-foot-five quarterback Tom Savage threw for 14 touchdowns as a freshman. Receiver Mohamed Sanu (51 catches) is one of the fastest players in the game.

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois -- Redshirt freshman from high school power Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst was named starter by Ron Zook in the spring. Dual-threat guy needs to jump start Illini offense.

Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia -- For the first time in five years, the Mountaineers don't have an experienced quarterback returning. Smith could be great (65 percent on 49 passes in '09) but will have to come back from a broken foot in the offseason.

Josh Snead, TB, Duke -- Early enrolling freshman is a home-run hitter for a program desperate for a bowl.

Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh -- The Panthers always seem to be a quarterback away from doing great things. Coming off a 10-win season, Sunseri could be the difference in Pittsburgh getting back to a BCS bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on: June 9, 2010 11:11 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2010 6:20 am
 

Expand-O-Meter, Wed. June, 9

Days college athletics has been held hostage (since Big Ten announced expansion exploration on Dec. 15): 176
 
Who is having the best day: The Big East. Yes, the Big East. With Nebraska seemingly headed to the Big Ten, that hastens the breakup of the Big 12. Where do the castoffs end up? Try the mortally wounded Big East. Think of a nine-team Big East that would include Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State. Is this a BCA league or not? With the collapse of the Big 12 taking away a BCS spot, how could it not be?


Who is having the worst day: Missouri. I am on campus at the moment and this place is sweating mortar rounds. With the Big Ten seemingly expanding in stages the process has a "Price Is Right" feel to it ("Come on down!"). Missouri is worried it is going to be left out having not received an invite as of Wednesday night. With its current conference all but dead, Missouri could go from Big 12 darling to Mountain West bait.

Quote of the day: "Multiple sources have indicated ..." -- multiple outlets have written in the frenzy to nail down the Nebraska-to-the-Big Ten story.
 
Link of the day:
Get used to more of this.


What's on tap: The Nebraska board of regents meet on Friday. Bring a cooler, a lawn chair and some brats. It's tailgating in June as the Huskers officially join the big Ten.

A final thought: If someone told you 15 years ago when the Big 12 formed that something called Orangebloods.com would chronicle the demise of the conference, you'd say: What's this Internet thing?

Posted on: April 14, 2010 11:20 am
Edited on: April 18, 2010 6:55 am
 

NCAA looks at West Virginia/Rich Rod

Several outlets are reporting that the NCAA is investigating West Virginia for potential rules violations during the time Rich Rodriguez was coach.

The association's investigators could be looking for a pattern of behavior in regards to rules compliance by Rodriguez during his time with the Mountaineers. In February, the NCAA alleged five major rules violations by Rodriguez' program at Michigan. They stemmed of reports of violations of the NCAA's 20-hour weekly work limit for athletes.

Michigan is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in August in Seattle. Any penalties could come down during the season, Rodriguez' third at Michigan. Asked about the timing of those events, Rodriguez said during a Friday interview, "I don't know if there is ever a good time. From the standpoint of all the interviews, that all took place in midseason last year."

Rodriguez said 50-plus staff and players were interviewed by the NCAA.

"It's not anything anyone wants to go through but we did," the coach said.

Rodriguez also spoke of negative recruiting toward his program, although he did not say specifically it came from the NCAA investigation.

"You get negative recruiting even if you win 11-12 games," he said Friday. "We don't get much of that in the Big Ten. There's a couple of schools that negative recruit and then some other teams we play that we recruit against that are really negative.

"It's not Columbus [Ohio State]. It's up the road, South Bend [Notre Dame]. Even other places, [University of] Florida. Even where friends coach. We've dealt with it for two whole years. I tell our guys not to do it. Sell our program."

Michigan AD David Brandon said Tuesday there was no new investigation of Michigan and reiterated the Rodriguez will be Michigan's coach "this fall."

"I feel very confident in the AD, Dave Brandon," said Rodriguez' agent Mike Brown who had just gotten back in the country and not seen the West Virginia reports. "He's a good guy. He'll guide them through this."

 

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 25, 2010 9:21 am
 

Big East schedule breakdown

Remember the Big East. Remember it well, because it may not be long for this earth.

OK, maybe that's an exaggeration but with expansion winds blowing throughout college football, maybe it isn't. Once again, the conference is on notice with the Big Ten looking to improve its television profile. If the Large Eleven picks off Connecticut, Syracuse, Rutgers or Pittsburgh, then the Big East has to stay viable.

That's getting ahead of the carnage, er, story. For now, the Big East will continue with new coaches (Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida) and the same old story in places like Syracuse. The conference will continue to promote itself with 14 weeknight games (six on Thursday).

Cincinnati and Pittsburgh once again look like the class of the league. UConn is one of the quietest success stories in football. Charlie Strong finally gets his chance at Louisville. The Skip Holtz era begins at South Florida. West Virginia hasn't gone away under Bill Stewart.

Their schedules are finalized except for Syracuse which is still looking for a non-conference game. Might we suggest a Big Ten opponent? Could count in both leagues' standings.

Just kidding.


Game of the year:  (non-conference)  Miami at Pittsburgh, Sept. 23. These old Big East rivals are both standing at the altar of BCS bowl contention.  Neither current coach has broken through. Dave Wannstedt still hasn't won that conference title after a heart-breaking end to last season. Randy Shannon is still in rebuilding mode. It doesn't help that Jacory Harris (hand) and Graig Cooper (knee) will miss spring practice. That doesn't tell us much about seven months from now.

This game will go a long way toward proving if Wanny and the Panthers are worthy of that BCS bowl.  Same for Shannon who is 7-9 on the road.

There is a bit of history for those of us who can remember all the way back to 2003. In the regular-season finale at Heinz, Miami won an Orange-Bowl-or-bust game 28-14. That was the Canes' last Big East game.

Game of the year: (conference) Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Dec. 4. Three in a row for the Bearcats? Brian Kelly has left enough talent for Butch Jones to get to a third consecutive BCS bowl. Last year's snowy matchup in Pittsburgh was a classic decided by a botched extra point.

This season's game will be impacted by a couple of high-profile replacements. Pat Bostick and Tino Sunseri will battle it out in the spring to replace Bill Stull as Pittsburgh quarterback. The mouthy Mardy Gilyard will be missed at Cincinnati but only until one-time USC five-star recruit Vidal Hazelton takes over as Zach Collaros top target.

Team on the spot: Rutgers. Whatever happened to Greg Schiano's magic? The Scarlet Knights have finished above third only once since the 11-win season in 2006. That was a three-way tie for second in 2008. Are we expecting too much? This is, after all, Rutgers but the '06 ride was such a tease.

The offensive line underachieved last season even though tackle Anthony Davis could be a high draft choice. Quarterback Tom Savage showed flashes as a freshman but needs to make that leap to difference maker as a sophomore. The most exciting player in the conference might be Mohamed Sanu who was effective out of the Wildcat and at receiver.

Toughest non-conference schedule: Hard one because the schedules are so balanced in the Big East and Syracuse is still looking for a  game, but Pittsburgh seems to be in the most peril. It opens at Utah, then gets I-AA power New Hampshire nine days later. The Miami game comes to Pittsburgh after an open date. The Miami and Notre Dame games are sandwiched around a home game against Florida International.

Wanny and AD Steve Pederson are putting the program out there playing two BCS teams and a team that is in a de facto BCS league (Utah). That could be a season killer. It also could lift the Panthers into that BCS bowl.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Rutgers. As much as the Knights need to get back on national scene, they've got the schedule to do it. Norfolk State, Florida International, Tulane and Army don't exactly strike fear into hearts. The only sweat-breaker is North Carolina which comes to New Jersey on Sept. 25. Win that and Rutgers should start 6-0 before going to Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.
Check back in November, though. Beginning Nov. 3, Rutgers plays at South Florida, Cincinnati and West Virginia in its final five games.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com