Tag:Miami
Posted on: September 20, 2009 6:55 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2009 7:10 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

The B.S. meter was off the charts this week. Let’s sweep away the pretenders …

 Please, no more “Is Nebraska back?” talk it actually beats someone.  Saturday’s 16-15 loss at Virginia Tech makes it 16 losses in a row on the road to top 20 teams. I don’t care if it was one point. I’m sure Bo Pelini isn’t reveling in the closeness of the final score.

You don’t let scatter-armed Tyrod Taylor loose long enough to complete an 80-yard pass that Dan Marino shouldn’t have been able to complete. It’s called situational defense, ‘Skers. You secondary lines up so it can’t be beaten over the top.

Check with us later Huskers, if you happen to win the Big 12 North. As for me, I’m checking out for now.

 B.S. also on BYU. How in the name of LaVell Edwards do the Cougars not show up in one of their biggest home games in years? It was the home opener, for gosh sakes, against a Florida State team that looked outmanned.

BYU just played itself out of the BCS championship and into the Las Vegas Bowl. Even if the Cougars run the table from here on in, voters would have to think long and hard about making this a BCS bowl team.

I mean, 54-28? Five turnovers. C’mon!

 B.S. on West Virginia which blew a 27-20 lead to Auburn, losing 41-30. Jarrett Brown threw four of the Mountaineer’s five interceptions. West Virginia committed four of their six turnovers in the fourth quarter.

 I’m also calling B.S. on Texas Tech which lost another road game to a ranked opponent.  The 34-24 loss to Texas came on the heels of last year’s blowout in Norman and the embarrassment in the Cotton Bowl.

Is it me or does The Pirate’s offense just not travel well?

 B.S., finally, on Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. I know he’s an amateur and he’s just a kid and doesn’t deserve the abuse but …

Dude, that throw against Notre Dame? Only the 7-11 is open more than teammate Larry Caper was in the end zone. Cousins air-mailed a potential game-winning touchdown pass over Caper’s head. On the next play, Cousins tossed an interception at the Notre Dame 4 when all his team needed was a field goal.

The Spartans had won six in a row in South Bend. Now they’ve lost consecutive games by a combined five points.


Observation deck

Why do I get the feeling that Jimmy Clausen is going to make a heck of a run at the Heisman? He’s a gunslinger to begin with. With Notre Dame’s defense sure to give up points, Clausen and the offense are going to have to outscore just about every team they play.

The Michigan Miracle overshadowed a good game by Clausen. Against the Spartans he completed his first 10 in a row and threw for 300 yards. Clausen is second in the nation in pass efficiency having thrown nine touchdowns against no interceptions. That’s the best ratio in the country.

 Speaking of ratios, North Carolina State’s Russell Wilson now has thrown 329 consecutive passes without an interception, an ongoing record. In his career, the sophomore had thrown 25 touchdown passes and one interception.

 Georgia could join the WAC. It has given up a combined 78 points the last two weeks and won both games. Joe Cox made his own statement throwing for five touchdowns in a 52-41 win at Arkansas.

The result overshadowed school records from Arkie’s Ryan Mallett in yards (408) and touchdowns (five). Mallett leads the country in pass efficiency.

 Texas’ Colt McCoy threw only eight interceptions all last season. He has four through three games in '09. In the first six games of last season McCoy threw only 34 incompletions. He has 35 already (75 of 110) through three games.

 This is what the ACC wanted: Miami and Florida State both at the top of the conference. It hasn’t happened quite yet but it looks like it’s coming This is about the branding of a conference. The ACC needs the Hurricanes and Noles in the polls battling for a championship and BCS bowl.

 Florida now has the nation’s longest winning streak at 13. Ole Miss and Southern Miss are tied for second, each with an eight-game streak.
 
--After taking in the national scene Saturday in one big bite I get the feeling that the team lurking in the grass is Alabama. Texas gave up 420 yards passing. Florida struggled with Tennessee. USC lost.

Bama keeps getting steadily better. It opens the SEC schedule this week against Arkansas. The Tide know how to beat Florida. Monte Kiffin did them a favor offering somewhat of a blueprint on Saturday.  Bama hasn’t played its best football yet.

 The other team that has to feel good about itself? Penn State just played three dogs to start the season, is ranked fourth in the coaches’ poll and has its toughest remaining game at home (against Ohio State on Nov. 7).

Can you imagine Joe Paterno in the BCS title game? Moses might do the coin toss as a special favor to an old friend.

 The right-now, no-hype, no-b.s., not-what-they-did last year Heisman rankings for this week.

1. Tim Tebow, Florida: The Gators don’t beat Tennessee unless Superman churns for 76 well-earned yards on 24 grinding carries.

Key stat of the game: Florida converted on nine of 14 third- and fourth downs. Guess who was responsible most of the time?
“I probably said it three times on the headset, ‘Is the guy ever going to wear out?’ Lane Kiffin said. “He’s not human.”

2. Jacory Harris, Miami.  We are witnessing the evolution of the next great 'Canes quarterback.

3. Eric Berry, Tennessee. If Tebow is the best offensive player in America, Berry is the best defensive player.

Eleven tackles, an interception and one head-to-head mash up with Tebow made Berry the second-most dominant player on the field.

I wrote a story in July suggesting Tennessee use him 50 snaps a game at quarterback. If Kiffin would have tried it on Saturday, the Vols would have won.

4. Jahvid Best, Cal: A school-record five touchdowns against Minnesota. The Bears needed every one of them. Best could earn a trip to New York in a couple of weeks with a big game against USC.

5. Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame: See above.

Honorable mention: Landry Jones, Oklahoma: I don’t care if it’s against air, six touchdown passes is pretty impressive. Jones set the school record against Tulsa making me think that the Sooners might be OK until Sam Bradford returns.

Check back, though, in two weeks when the OU plays at Miami.

 Finally, for those needing motivation to beat Florida. Check out Breakaway Vacations. There were a stack of flyers from Breakaway at the front desk of the Gainesville Courtyard advertising travel packages for Florida fans to both the SEC championship game and national championship game.

BCS Packages Available Now!

There is a refund if “your team” doesn’t make it.

Good Lord, it’s only September.

Posted on: September 17, 2009 10:59 pm
 

That looked a lot like Miami ...

... the old Miami. The program that had Luke Campbell as a mascot, the team that slapped around opponents then made them like it.

While watching the Canes cane Georgia Tech Thursday night I had a funny, tingly feeling deep down inside. [I've been through puberty so no wise-ass remarks.] Miami is really, really close to being back.

That was a smackdown job on Tech. Jacory Harris established himself as one of the nation's best young quarterbacks. The Florida State game was no fluke. I know the defense is rounding into form -- 1987 form -- when a late Miami interception was negated by a roughing the passer penalty.

Somewhere Jerome Brown was smiling.

I'll wait until watching Virgina Tech-Nebraska, but right now Miami looks like the best team in the ACC. Georgia Tech was revealed as one-dimensional. I mean, you have to be able throw a little bit. Josh Nesbitt doesn't scare the broad side of many barns.

South Florida will spend the next 10 days going a little bit nuts, and it should. It's been a while since Miami looked this good, this confident.

Suddenly, that death march of a schedule doesn't look so daunting. The U already proved it could win on the road. Who knows what will happen next week in Blacksburg? After that comes Oklahoma with a Heisman Trophy quarterback who may or may not play.

It's cool to be around the Canes when they're rolling, when it's all about the U.
Posted on: September 11, 2009 1:33 am
Edited on: September 11, 2009 7:45 am
 

Clemson 27, Josh Nesbitt 3

You have to admit, it's entertaining.

The ACC might not be able to handle the Colonial Athletic Association but it can sure stage some conference doozies. Monday: Miami and Florida State return to the national stage. Thursday: Clemson and Georgia Tech try to play giveaway.

Tech jumps out to a 24-0 lead, only to fall behind 27-24 in the fourth quarter. Then, bam, Josh "The Arm" Nesbitt strikes again. Actually, Nesbitt didn't strike much of anything including the sides of barns. Nesbitt is the Tech quarterback who will not soon be confused with Dan Fouts. In fact, he represents the biggest weakness in Paul Johnson's option offense. In general, its quarterbacks aren't great throwers.

To be fair, Johnson inherited Nesbitt and is only two classes into his recruiting career at Tech. So what Johnson is left with is a 42 percent career passer. Nesbitt was awful for most of the game. He had one more completion (three, out of 14 attempts) than interceptions (two).

In the end, only one pass mattered. Nesbitt hit Demaryius Thomas with a 39-yard strike in the fourth quarter that set up Scott Blair's game-winning field goal. In other news, blind squirrels sometimes find nuts.

In the second week of the season it was a game that both teams had to win. Virginia Tech remains the ACC favorite. Florida State was impressive on Monday. Georgia Tech goes to suddenly formidable Miami next Thursday. Clemson hosts Boston College, followed by TCU.

Nesbitt did run for 91 yards, which is his strength. You feel sorry for Clemson's Kyle Parker, the more conventional quarterback (261 yards, three touchdowns) who led the comeback. But this isn't about convention.

All is forgiven, ACC, if you keep pumping out conference games like this.
Posted on: September 8, 2009 4:22 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2009 4:32 pm
 

Analyzing the polls

Thoughts on the first regular-season polls of the season:

If the BCS bowls started today (based on compilation of the polls and Jerry Palm’s collegebcs.com)

BCS title game: Alabama vs. USC
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Cal
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. BYU
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Top 10 in the BCS (Only a few of the computers are available so this is very preliminary but still interesting. These are Palm's standings from collegebcs.com.)

1. USC
2. Alabama
3. Florida
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Ohio State
7. BYU
8. Boise State
9. Penn State
10.  LSU


Strange

Florida lost two first-place votes in the AP poll (from 58 to 56) and gained three votes in the coaches poll (53 to 56).


Biggest gainers, most slippage

Brigham Young, up 12 spots in coaches (from No. 24 to No. 12)
Oklahoma down 11 spots in coaches (from No. 3 to No. 14)


Game of the week

No. 3 USC and No. 8/7 Ohio State remains a top 10 game. Ohio State has lost its last five against top five teams. That’s the second-longest streak in school history.


The penalty for playing Charleston Southern

Florida’s first-place margin shrank in both polls  -- from 74 points to 69 in AP and from 80 to 65 points in coaches.


Barely Out

Oregon State No. 26 in AP. Michigan State No. 26 in coaches

New to the AP: Missouri, Cincinnati, Miami. New to coaches: Kansas, Cincinnati, Miami.



Another take

SI's Andy Staples weighs in

Posted on: August 12, 2009 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2009 1:01 pm
 

Five risers and five fallers for 2009

Five risers

Baylor – (See stories on the site) Fifteen seasons without a bowl are about to come to an end if everything breaks right.

Houston – Ten victories for the Cougars are possible in wide-open Conference USA. Case Keenum (5,000 yards passing) is a Heisman candidate. There, I said it. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech had better watch out in September. The Cougars would take a split and have the talent to sweep.

Kansas – The Jayhawks have finished at the top of the standings once since 1968. Forty-one years ago they shared the Big Eight title and went to the Orange Bowl. In 2007, they went 12-1 and shared the Big 12 North title with Missouri. (The Tigers won the division based on its head-to-head victory over the Jayhawks.) No one is expecting KU to go 12-1 again, but it has the stuff to win its first outright title in anything (even a modest division title) since 1930. Nebraska has the easier conference schedule but the Huskers have to play in Lawrence.

Michigan State –  After Ohio State and Penn State, the Spartans might be the pick in the Big Ten. Third-year coach Mark Dantonio has the program trending upward after winning nine games in ’08. Even with the loss of quarterback Brian Hoyer and leading rusher Javon Ringer, there are expectations that Sparty will compete in the Big Ten. Michigan State doesn’t play Ohio State and gets Penn State at home. Linebacker Greg Jones might be the conference’s best defensive player.

Nevada – At last check, the Wolf Pack were the only team in the country to run the Pistol offense. That’s not a good matchup with still-emotionally fragile Notre Dame opening up at home against Nevada. Coach Chris Ault will pull everything out of the bag. Give me quarterback Colin Kaepernick (one of only five players ever to pass for 2,000 and rush for 1,000) and tailback Vai Taua (1,521 yards rushing) and I’ll take my chances.


Five fallers

Auburn – Gene Chizik recruited well and God knows he knows how to roll in a limo. But I’m having a hard time figuring out how new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn makes chicken salad out of chicken spit. The offensive talent isn’t there, just like it wasn’t for Tony Franklin last season. Chizik might do great things. They won’t happen in 2009, though. Look for a repeat of 5-7.

Buffalo – In the frat party that followed the Bulls’ MAC championship, a lot of folks forgot that Buffalo lost six games. It didn’t exactly roll over people. Seven of its 14 games were decided by six points or less. It was outgained in conference play. Point is, 2009 could go either way. This year, MAC rivals will not take the Bulls lightly.

Clemson – The Tigers will find a way to slip off the edge of the cliff, even coming off a 7-5 season. Start with a rookie head coach (in his first full season) Dabo Swinney. A life-size poster of C.J. Spiller is nice but where’s the beef? Baylor (see above) has more all-time draft picks. Tommy was never good enough. The Tigers are favored by some to win the ACC. When they don’t we’ll hear more chants of “1991, 1991 …” the last year Clemson won the league.

Miami – Just when the Canes seemed ready to turn the corner, here comes the schedule from hell. Miami could be a better team than ’08 and still come out of the first four 1-3. And how did AD Kirby Hocutt get roped into having to play Central Florida and South Florida on the road in the same season?

South Florida – There’s nothing wrong, exactly, with the Bulls. I’m just wondering when they’re going to quit teasing. In a wide-open Big East, South Florida could win it, or finish fifth. The program seems to have peaked after winning nine in both ’06 and ’07. Jim Leavitt has the league’s best offensive player (Matt Grothe) and best defensive player (George Selvie) this season. We’re waiting, coach.

Posted on: June 29, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2009 12:09 pm
 

Picking the Big 12


The Big 12 South Division race, the Big 12 title game, the Heisman race and the national championship hinged on the conference's three-way tiebreaker. We found out about the 11-year-old rule when Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech each tied at 7-1 in the South Division.

Oklahoma "won" the tiebreaker because it finished the regular season as the highest-ranked team in the division  -- by .0128 of a point in the BCS standings. Instead of reliving the Austin angst, let's just say that one Longhorn suggested that if the tiebreaker rule wasn't changed in the offseason his school ought to pull out of the Big 12.

What's changed? Not much. The rule wasn't changed and Texas is still in the league. At the spring meetings, the Big 12 ADs accepted the coaches' vote that the tiebreaker remain the same. Why?

 One theory is that Texas probably doesn't get much sympathy from the other coaches because ... it's Texas. The school is perceived to have the best of everything so it didn't get much sympathy from schools that don't. Yeah, jealousy sucks.

 There is nothing to be gained for schools like Missouri, Iowa State, Colorado, Baylor, etc., so why change? Hey, the league got two teams in the BCS. To the other schools it doesn't matter who plays in those games as long as the money keeps rolling in.

 The tiebreaker makes sense. Why wouldn't you want your highest rated BCS team to win the tiebreaker? There was some feeling that the SEC tiebreaker is fairer.

In a three-way tie, the SEC drops the lowest-ranked team and decides things head-to-head. But since you're chasing a BCS title, the SEC tiebreaker potentially keeps the highest-ranked team out of a title shot.

The tiebreaker would have been a footnote on the national scene had not Texas and Oklahoma been involved. The rivalry was bitter enough without having to explain why the Horns lost out when they beat the Sooners on the field. Yeah, Oklahoma's fortune might cause a bit of consternation in Austin.

"They got a huge break," Texas' Colt McCoy said.

Like I said, nothing has changed. Texas and OU still hate each other. There is a good chance we could have another tiebreaker train wreck at the end of this season. Only the teams will change.


Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could all start the season in the top 10. The Red River Shootout on Oct. 17 shapes up as one of the most intense in the history of the rivalry. Just for controversy's sake let's assume the Horns win in Dallas, they still have to play in Stillwater on Halloween. If the Cowboys win they could win out until a Nov. 28 date in Norman. If the Sooners win that one, we're looking at another three-way 7-1 finish.

Who wins it in the BCS tiebreaker? In that scenario, you'd have to like Oklahoma again. The Texas loss would be six weeks old by then and beating Oklahoma State impressively would be the emphatic final statement for the computers the pollsters. That same thing happened last year when OU blew out Texas Tech.

Closer to the field, for the second consecutive year the Large Dozen remains the conference of quarterbacks. It sports a Heisman winner (Sam Bradford), a runner-up (Colt McCoy) and well as 2009 Heisman candidate Todd Reesing of Kansas. You can add Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Texas Tech quarterback du jour Taylor Potts as difference makers.

Just giving you a fair warning, Texas fans. Grow your hair out now. You might be pulling it out in December.

Picking the Big 12 ...


North Division

1. Kansas -- If this were Miami, Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier and Reesing would be on the cover of every preseason mag in the country. Meier is the leading returning receiver in catches per game (10.8). Briscoe is second in receiving yards per game (108.2). Reesing already has led the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl and is in line to become the school's best quarterback ever. Mark Mangino already has proven he can coach. If a new set of starting linebackers can tackle and if KU can beat either Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech (he is a combined 0-9 against the three) this could be a special season. The Jayhawks get the slight edge in the North because the Nebraska game is at home.

2. Nebraska -- Bo Pelini is slowly building Huskerville back to its usual standards. Slowly is the key word because defense is Pelini's thing and the D showed astounding lapses last year. Slowly, because Nebraska has not had a first-team All-American on the defensive line in 12 years. Tackle Ndamukong Suh could break the streak. Some draft boards already have him in the top five. There is little room for error where Pelini is a turned ankle away from having real problems at quarterback. Zac Lee is the guy after Patrick Witt, who was being counted on, left before the spring. A lot of folks think Nebraska has the advantage in the North because of its schedule. I see road trips to Missouri, Baylor, Kansas and Colorado, plus a home game against Oklahoma. Please tell me how that is favorable?

3. Missouri -- The Tigers will take a dip after back-to-back Big 12 North titles. Missouri knows it. The fans know it. The league knows it. The key is trying to make an 8-4 season seem like a success. Six-foot-five Blaine Gabbert takes over for Chase Daniel, only the greatest qb in Missouri history. He would be wise to spread the ball out to 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Washington and receivers Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The Tigers will score, just not as often. If the defense is shored up at all this team could be on the fringes of contending in the North. At times, the secondary looked like a fire drill. Linebacker All-American linebacker candidate Sean Weatherspoon passed up the draft and will chase the school's career tackles record as a senior.

4. Colorado -- Has Hawk Love turned into Hawk Doubt? Entering his fourth season in Boulder, Dan Hawkins has won only 13 games. The pressure is on to produce (hint: Big 12 North contention and a bowl game). Hawkins isn't backing down, saying this at the senior banquet: "Ten wins, no excuses." The quarterback situation is unsettled with son Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen maybe sharing the job again. Freshman tailback sensation Darrell Scott was upstaged by fellow freshman Rodney Stewart who led the team in rushing. Here's the scary thing: In a league with unrelenting offenses, CU has lost six of its top 10 tacklers.

5. Kansas State -- This isn't the old Big Eight for Bill Snyder. Back in 1989, he was taking over Kansas State from a zero position. This time he is chasing his own legacy. Not to diminish what Snyder accomplished, but back in the early 1990s, Missouri and Kansas were jokes and Oklahoma was sliding. There was no Texas to play two out of every four years. The Big 12 has more depth and strength than the Big Eight as Snyder tries for Miracle In Manhattan II. Snyder got K-State from dregs to the brink of a national championship game in nine years. Will the 69-year-old have that much time this time around?

6. Iowa State -- Iowa State swapped coaches with Auburn. Gene Chizik went. Paul Rhoads came. Rhoads, from nearby Ankeny, seems like he wants to stay awhile. He'll be looking up at the rest of the Big 12 North for a while. Ripping Wally Burham from South Florida to be his defensive coordinator was a huge get for Rhoads. The offense will have a chance with dual-threat Austen Arnaud at quarterback


South Division

1. Texas -- Mack Brown smiled when I told I had his pregame speech ready for the OU game. "We beat the Sooners last year, boys. Now let's go out and get some revenge!" Yeah, it's about that and a lot of things for Brown and the Horns. Except for perhaps some suspect running backs, Texas is loaded. Brown has his best team since the 2005 national championship crew. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle should be this season's Brian Orakpo. McCoy is driven not only by the tiebreaker but also his second-place finish in the Heisman. Still, it all boils down to Oct. 17 in Dallas.

2. Oklahoma -- Sam Bradford won the Heisman, became the first quarterback to win back-to-back Big 12 titles and got the Sooners to the national championship game. What is there left to accomplish? Plenty for Bradford who listened to family and advisors and put off the NFL. His body can fill out a bit and it doesn't look like there will be a Matthew Stafford to compete with in the draft this year. Oklahoma's questions are at offensive line and receiver. If this were anywhere else but the Big 12 South, the Sooners would be prohibitive favorites to repeat. With a break here or there, they still might end back up in the national championship game.

3. Oklahoma State -- With apologies to Texas and Oklahoma, this could be the best offense in the Big 12, if not the country. Returning are a 1,500-yard rusher (Kendall Hunter), an All-American receiver (Dez Bryant), and a 65 percent passer with 25 touchdowns (Robinson). The problem remains defense. New defensive coordinator Bill Young is the Cadillac of his profession. Okie State will be better just because of his presence. Perrish Cox is developing into an NFL talent at corner and is one of the nation's best returners.

4. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders slip back to the 8-4 level this season. You know the drill: Potts will throw for eight million yards. There will be a 1,000-yard receiver or two. Mike Leach will be his usual quote-machine self. However, last season was a once-in-10-year event. There is payback waiting at Texas, at Oklahoma State and at Nebraska.

5. Baylor -- Does any Big 12 school have more upside? Joe Pawelek is an All-Big 12 linebacker. Center J.D. Walton anchors the offensive line now that Jason Smith is gone. But let's be honest, the moment quarterback Robert Griffin followed coach Art Briles to Baylor (from his commitment to Houston), things took off. A sprinter with Olympic aspirations, Griffin gave up the Big 12 track season to concentrate on what should be his breakout season in Waco. If there is a one-man team in the league, this is it. Griffin also was the team's No. 2 rusher. With more weight and more knowledge, Griffin should become the most elusive dual-threat in the Big 12 since Vince Young. At stake is a 14-year bowl drought. That ties for the longest active streak among BCS schools.

6. Texas A&M -- One former Big Eight coach said it during the offseason: This is A&M. It should be able to go over to the Houston high schools and scrounge up a couple of defensive linemen. In Mike Sherman's second season, d-line is a good place to start. The one-time Wrecking Crew was Charmin soft as one of the worst defensive units in the country. After the non-conference games, the Aggies gave up less than 35 once. Once! Nineteen players had surgery in the offseason. The Aggies better get fat early. The season ends with Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas.
 

Posted on: June 26, 2009 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:00 am
 

Picking the ACC

It has been easy to take shots at the ACC since expansion.

The whole Florida State/Miami axis-of-excellence thing hasn't panned out. But there have been some stories worth reading. Wake Forest competes favorably representing one of the smallest schools in I-A. Everybody is waiting for North Carolina to break out under Butch Davis. Georgia Tech's option game has baffled opponents, at least in Paul Johnson's first season.

Virginia Tech has remained the only constant. The Hokies have won consecutive ACC titles and never seems to drop far off the grid. Frank Beamer could be anywhere. He has chosen to remain in Blacksburg and built an unlikely powerhouse.

The Hokies are prohibitive favorites to make it three in a row.

Atlantic

1. North Carolina State -- Invest in Tom O'Brien. The Wolfpack's coach is as solid commodity as there is on Wall Street these days. Actually better, considering the state of Wall Street. For 10 years, he overachieved at Boston College. Now with more resources he is ready to deliver in Raleigh. When in doubt, I always go with a solid returning quarterback. Russell Wilson might have the most upside of any in the league. He enters the season with 249 passes without an interception, 22 short of Drew Weatherford's ACC record. During an injury-filled season Wilson still threw 17 touchdowns and only one interception. O'Brien will hit it big in his third season coming in with a four-game winning streak to end '08.

UPDATE: Linebacker Nate Irving was injured in a car accident on Sunday (6/28). Irving, when healthy, was one of the best linebackers I saw last season. If he isn't able to go this season, the certainly impacts the Pack's chances.

2. Florida State -- The bandwagon is not full. I'm intrigued why the Seminoles are most people's choice in this division. Bobby Bowden is back to having an established quarterback (Christian Ponder) for the first time in eight seasons. The offensive line is reflecting line coach Rick Trickett's toughness (left tackle Andrew Datko was a freshman All-American). But there aren't the dynamic athletes we're used to seeing. And there always seems to be some drama around the program. People have talked more about the loss of 14 victories in the offseason more than Ponder having some reliable receivers. Try to envision a nine-win season with road trips to BYU, North Carolina, Clemson, Wake and Florida. I can't. FSU could win the division and probably eight games but it will take a step back from '08 when it won nine. 

3. Wake Forest -- The Deacons have won 11, 9 and 8 games the last three seasons. It would be logical to assume the decline is going to continue. Most of the returning players are back on offense, which struggled. The defense loses eight starters. Four players were taken in the first four rounds of the draft. That's amazing but also troubling for this season. Wake will have to get those new defensive starters ready to contribute right away for it to be a factor in the division.
 
4. Clemson
-- The Dabo Swinney era goes into its first full season. A 4-2 finish by the former receivers coach was enough to raise hopes after the end of Tommy Bowden's 9 1/2-year reign. There is always the fear that Clemson is still Clemson. Since 1999, it has never won less than six or more than nine. The Tigers have had the talent to win the ACC each of the last three seasons but they always seem to disappoint. Kevin Steele was a huge get as defensive coordinator coming from Alabama. Tailback C.J. spillers is less than 1,000 yards away from becoming the ACC's career leader in all-purpose yards. Swinney will be reminded at every turn that the last ACC title was in 1991. 

5. Maryland -- We can see the end of the Ralph Friedgen era in College Park. Offensive coordinator James Franklin is the coach in waiting. The Terps should take a major dip after going 8-5. Twelve starters have departed including receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Friedgen loves Torrey Smith and redshirt freshman Kevin Dorsey as emerging talents at receiver. Franklin has done a good job shaping senior quarterback Chris Turner. 

6. Boston College -- Gene DeFilippo is my hero. Look, I liked Jeff Jagodzinski but I admire BC's AD for calling the former coach's bluff when Jags interviewed with the Jets. I admire DeFilippo more for replacing Jags with the guy who most deserved it. Frank Spaziani was d-coordinator for 10 years and had earned his shot. There is enough left over from the nation's No. 5 five defense to compete (linebacker Mark Herzlich was ACC defensive player of the year). You wonder, though, if the Eagles will be able to throw when they need to. Junior Codi Boek arrived as a quarterback, then was converted to fullback. He is now is back at quarterback. He is competing with freshman Justin Tuggle.


Coastal

1. Virginia Tech -- Beamer doesn't get enough credit. The Hokies have become the dominant program in a league that was formed showcase Miami and Florida State. In the last five seasons he has won 52 games and three ACC titles, including the last two in a row. Virginia Tech should go to a third consecutive BCS bowl. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor gets the job to himself after injuries and Sean Glennon blocked his way the past two seasons. Taylor's game resembles a certain legend whose name rhymes with "quick." Sophomore tailback Darren Evans rushed for most of his 1,265 yards in the second half of the season.  Coordinator Bud Foster might have his best defense ever. It is quick and mean. If the Hokies get past Alabama in the opener, they could be in the national championship hunt.

2. Georgia Tech -- You've got to love Paul Johnson's, um, confidence. When folks questioned whether his triple option could work in the big time he went out and won nine while beating Georgia in his first season with the Jackets. Things should be better this season Heisman candidate Jonathan Dwyer, the ACC's leading rusher, is complemented nicely by Roddy Jones in the same backfield. The defense finished in the top 25 nationally and held five teams to 20 points or less. The secondary is loaded with the addition of corner Jerrard Tarrant who was suspended for all of '08 fighting a rape accusation. The charges were dropped. The toughest stretch will be three weeks in October when the Jackets play at Mississippi State, at Florida State and Virginia Tech at home.

3. North Carolina -- Davis continues to recruit. The Tar Heels should continue to win. In Davis' second year the Heels jumped from four to eight wins. Often-injured quarterback T.J. Yates lost his two most reliable targets (Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate) to the NFL. Fortunately, the defense is loaded. If the Heels can win at Georgia Tech on Sept. 26 don't be surprised if they start 6-0.
 
4. Miami -- I don't care who is responsible. In fact, I don't want to know. The schedule, though, is a joke. Poor Randy Shannon is looking at 0-4 with the toughest first four games in the country -- at Florida State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Shannon lost a quarterback (Robert Mavre) and had to change both coordinators. Mark Whipple came from the NFL to take over the offense. First-year d-coordinator John Lovett came from North Carolina. The defense is stout, but let's be honest. This is Miami and if they don't win big with flair, it will be a disappointment.  The progress of quarterback Jacory Harris will be on one of the major stories in the conference.

5. Virginia -- It has been a weird circle of life in Charlottesville. Al Groh's son Mike became offensive coordinator in 2006 after Ron Prince left to become Kansas State's head coach. Prince is back (as special teams coach) after being fired at K-State. Mike Groh was, um, let go after producing the sixth-worst offense in Division I-A last season. Gregg Brandon has installed a spread offense for quarterback Jameel Sewell. They should be thankful to work together. Brandon landed at Virginia after being fired at Bowling Green. Sewell missed '08 because he was academically ineligible.

6. Duke -- There won't be a more upbeat last-place team in the country. David Cutcliffe squeezed out four victories in his first season as coach. That ties for the most in Krzyzewskiville since 1994. Senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis gets one last season to work under the guy who tutored Peyton and Eli. Last season's defense held three opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since 1976. Only four starters return including potential All-ACC defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase.

 

Posted on: May 28, 2009 2:43 pm
 

Florida State timeline with the NCAA

Don't think that Florida State's academic fraud case is going to be wrapped up on Tuesday.

The NCAA appeals committee has been given an extension until then. However, that figures to be only the next step. If FSU doesn't agree with the appeals committee's conclusion, then it has 15 days to respond. After that the committee would have 10 days to rebut FSU. If the school still isn't satisfied, expect it to request an in-person hearing with the committee.

I'm beginning to think that with vacations, etc., this process could drag out until shortly before the beginning of the football season. Nothing like the backdrop of NCAA penalties to add to the flavor of FSU-Miami. 
Category: NCAAF
 
 
 
 
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