AP Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 2

6) Texas A&M

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There is so much stuff going on with this team at that the moment that I do not now know where to begin. First, the signal caller needs to stop being¬†Johnny “So College Bro” Manziel. This discussion is meant for another post, but for now I will say, “No Manziel equals no chance at the West title or even at a major bowl game.” Texas A&M has 6 starters both on offense and defense returning but this could change with a possible Manziel suspension. Their rushing game must pick it up in order for Manziel to have the heat taken off him (even if he plays). They have a strong schedule, but they will be “Roll-Tided” early on and knocked out of BCS chances if Manziel is not playing (Possible game of the year here). Whoever plays quarterback will have good protection again thanks to the depth of the line which is what the SEC is notorious for. Their secondary and defense looks good with some starters returning, but there is just so much in the air right now. You need Manziel, and if I were the coaching staff, I would sit this kid down and tell him he better shape up or the team has to take losses or even wins without him.

7) South Carolina

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I dont…I dont even know where to begin, but i will start in an obvious spot. I started following Clowney around the time I really got into college football and football in general. I remember him being the top prospect and wondering why he would go to South Carolina and not Alabama who had just won their first BCS National Championship or Florida who had Urban Meyer and were equally good. Ever since, this kid has been nothing but a menace. He is frightful and I have always thought of him as one of the best defensive ends even when he entered as a freshman. Now, South Carolina shares a similar schedule with Georgia in regards to having to play three top contending teams. The good thing is that South Carolina’s offense has matured, which means they can hopefully do a lot better this year. The defense has carried South Carolina for the past couple of years (as shown by Clowney’s murderous hit). If South Carolina’s offense puts up 30 points a game, then I would recant my comment about Georgia reaching the SEC Championship from before. The hard thing about this is which quarterback will take the snaps and the hopes of Davis filling in for Lattimore, who is a ‘Niner now, may be a long shot. I want Clowney to win this year so he can leave and start his NFL career, but that’s just me and the other SEC quarterbacks’ hopes.

8) Clemson

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Sorry, no glove … No love!

I will tell you why this team is going to be much better than the Florida State “powerhouses” we have seen in the past couple of years. Firstly, this team is going up against two SEC teams that are ranked in the top ten in two of their four out of conference games. That alone proves this team is willing to take on the best. Second, they quietly finished at 11-2 last year and they hit bad tides a couple years back when they got embarrassed by 70-35 in their bowl game. However, they can score and not many teams are going to be able to shut down their scoring efforts very well. They have defensive problems much like Georgia, and they look like the Mud Dogs defense without Bobby Bouche. There are 7 returning starters on each side, but the offense is more ready to go this year with Tajh Boyd and and Sammy Watkins. The hardest part is going to be the opener against Georgia (offensive powerhouse SEC) and the closer against South Carolina (defensive powerhouse SEC). If, however, this team rises up and beats both of them (even one of them), I can see them going to a major bowl game. Their schedule may be too weak to warrant a BCS national championship game, unless they are unbeaten and win the conference championship. However, I like this team and they can make a good run if the defense can find a rhythm.

9) Louisville

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Around a year ago in October to November, I text my brother telling him that Lousiville was third in the nation when it comes to the defense giving up points and I said their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a good player. I humbly stand corrected about this and say he is now an excellent player. Louisville is the underdog of this top 10 and I can see them climbing these polls as all these teams destroy their own seasons. The only way at this point for Louisville to make the Big Dance is to be the only team or one of the last two teams standing undefeated. With their schedule, they could be poised to go undefeated and should with all the talent returning. They have 17 returning starters and most of which are on that stingy defense. Their problem is running the ball and their offensive line. If those two big issues are fixed somehow, then Louisville’s fate is sealed and they can move “forward”. However, they showed they can play with the big boys when the thrashed Florida in the Sugar Bowl. That 33-23 win was not as close as many think. Louisville proved that day they can play with the big boys and teams better recognize. Teddy may end up being the Heisman trophy winner unless Clowney decides to start intercepting the ball and sacking the quarterbacks on every other play. Overall, this team can make a run and I am excited to watch them play. It is clear and simple Louisville and I will make it simple: “Win…Win…Win…Win.” You do this, and you will be in the dance or at least a major bowl game.

10) Florida

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Florida comes back with a lot of questions raised. The team did not perform well in their performance against Louisville, but that team was tough in respect to them. Florida’s secondary is somehow still good even though they have 3 returning starters. The team has to reload and begin figuring out how to pass the ball this year. In addition, the front seven must be addressed before they can step forward but this SEC team (like many) has good depth and they may only need to find the right chemistry to be okay. For the offense, Driskel must begin passing the ball more, means relying on his receivers to get open. For Florida, correcting the pass rush and getting a pass offense is what they lack from moving up further in the ranks, clearly the pattern is in the word pass. They must play Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina . They could also make a run for the title, but it will be a little more difficult as they are the last team in the top ten and would need to be all teams on their schedule.

BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas

My choice for the championship realistically/idealistically:

Well, this is the breakdown from the top 10. This group seems to be heavily strong towards offensive prowess which is a nice change. Overall, Alabama is the more realistic choice here and it makes sense really. Three championships in the past four years. However, ideally I would pin them against the Lousville Cardinals. I love this team and everything they have achieved in the past year. They came from nowhere in the Big East and were probably underestimated by many teams and were expected to lose to Florida. Instead, Louisville came in and decided to K.O. Florida within three quarters and prove who the real team was. I hope it happens again and I hope the best for Bridgewater. This young man does not have the best line nor the best run game and he was able to produce an astounding 3,400 passing yards along with 25 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. Louisville v. Alabama, you heard it here first.

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Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 1

The season opens tonight with #24 USC at Hawaii, but let’s delve into the top 10 as a preview for the college football fans. As expected, the SEC is the dominant force in the opening polls with half the top ten consisting of their powerhouses. Let’s breakdown each team and why they are ranked accordingly starting with the two time defending champions.

1) Alabama:

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To honestly say that the Rolltide would not be number 1 in the rankings I would have to smack you and say you know nothing about College Football. This is a dynasty in the making which is extremely rare to discover in the college world. Saban did lose a couple of studs last year like Dee Milliner on defense (possibly next Darrelle Revis) and offensive role players like Eddie Lacy, and D.J. FLuker. However, Saban made sure that plenty of players had experience last year and there are going to be a good amount of players for defense. 11 players have good enough experience for Saban and his defense wrecking which only gave up a stingy 10.9 points (1st in the country). A.J. Mccaron will be fine too. He has the explosive and powerful Amare cooper still along with T.J. Yeldon who has not yet tapped into his true potential. The only thing stopping Alabama from winning again is themselves. They have 18 freshmen, 28 sophomores, 30 juniors, and 18 seniors. Of the seniors, 12 are linemen and receivers which means almost nothing except that Saban will look for more of those two positions in the upcoming prospects. This team is young and experienced enough to win again. The only problem may be players on offense stepping up. Both Amare and T.J. had their parties last year and so the conference is ready for these studs. It is up to the senior unit to keep defenses guessing. They do this, they repeat. Expect ‘Bama to win again this year, or to have a 12-2 season, with that second loss coming in the last game of the college football season.

2) Ohio St.

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My friend told me about Braxton Miller, but I did not really look into him until the end of the season and oh boy I missed a lot. This guy put the team on his back and I am saying that he is indeed a Heisman candidate. Overall, Ohio State has a strong team and they also dictate whether they make the dance. Their secondary looks impenetrable as all the starters are returning, but they mostly reload in the front seven. If the team can put play-makers there, then they will have no hiccup and go meet ‘Bama in the national championship. They have 9 returning starters for offense which is going to take a load off Braxton. Urban Meyer returns in his second dream job season and quite frankly this should be a good year for Buckeyes fans. Good Buckeyes.

3) Oregon

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This is an excellent surprise to see another conference stepping up to battle the SEC cause quite frankly they are tired of shutouts (Or at least I know ‘Bama is). The Ducks come back with 9 offensive returners and 7 defensive returners as well. Marcus Mariota comes back with basically the same guys at his disposal which means their scoring capability will remain the same. The big question, however, is not how much the Ducks are able to score, but how much they can put up with the presence of their fearless leader going to the Eagles. This is going to be interesting to see how the Ducks are going to fair without their most successful head coach in school history. Now, the Ducks also have injuries in the secondary which may or may not hurt them in the long run. At the moment, Oregon is poised to be the PAC-12 champions unless Stanford or another team (USC and UCLA) picks up their game. The team has a very tough schedule and you could see them playing a very talented Washington team and of course Stanford to boot. If they survive, Oregon could be heading to the BCS National Championship if Ohio State and/or Bama have a misstep.

4) Stanford

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Now we come to the next team on the list and I am shocked at how they are fourth. It makes sense to have ‘Bama at first but I find it difficult to place third only because they had a good season. This team has battled through losing Andrew Luck last year and many more starters. They ended 12-2 under coach David Shaw who also won them a bowl game. In addition, they have the toughest schedule with a strong and upcoming Pac-12 conference that could potentially rival the SEC in a couple of years. The key for Stanford is for Hogan (their new QB) to step and have an excellent year. They also need a lot of production out of Taylor in order for their team to go far and make a run for the title. The have 7 returning offenses and 10 returning defensive players. David Shaw has caught wind of what the SEC is doing and is manipulating it. He has recruited good linemen both defensively and offensively in the past couple of years. He is also recruiting good defensive players and this is why they could make a run soon.

5) Georgia

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This is a school I have grown to admire and really take notice of in the past couple of years. Georga comes off a bowl win and one play from beating Alabama in the SEC championship so I think I can say they will take things more personally this year if they play ‘Bama. Aaron Murray can go to work again since all but one of his wide receivers and linemen have graduated or gone to the draft. 10 returning starters on offense not only gives Georgia a strong unit, but also better chemistry and more maturity. Their schedule includes Clemson, South Carolina, and Florida . They have one of the toughest schedules out there thanks to the three teams above.¬† So, the question is how the teams will take Georgia down? Well, Georgia lost about 7 starters last year on defense which means reload time (including Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree)!!! They have to play with the pieces and see what will work for them. The nice thing is Georgia’s depth and if they beat Alabama in SEC championship (because I have both those teams returning to the ‘real’ Big Dance), then watch out for the BCS national championship no matter who is there. They are favorites for the SEC East, but I think this will be a tough year for them given their schedule..

To be continued shortly….