College Football Outside of the South – Pacific 12

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Who will be the new face of Oregon football?

College Football Outside of The SEC Bubble
I love Southeastern Conference football.  As a fan, most of what I am invested in takes place within the realm of the SEC.  However, it is healthy to acknowledge that college football is played in other areas of the country as well.  This particular post will focus on college football on the west coast, specifically in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon
It will be fun to see how the most dynamic offense in college football adjusts to having a new head duck. The departure of Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves throughout football. That is, after he decided to come back to Oregon, then he changed his mind again and left for the city of Brotherly Love. Coach Kelly leaves a legacy of being an offensive guru in Eugene, but he also helped get Oregon put on probation as a parting gift.

Mark Helfrich is now the head coach in Oregon town as he inherits a team that is loaded on offense with eight starters coming back. SB Nation revealed that one of the reasons Chip Kelly decided to try his hand in the NFL is because he knew nothing would change in the Oregon offense under Mark Helfrich, who had been the offensive coordinator for the Ducks since 2009.

Stanford
The fact that Stanford won the 2013 Rose Bowl without former quarterback Andrew Luck speaks volumes about the Cardinal commitment to success.  When the previous Stanford head coach (Jim Harbaugh) left for the National Football League, I assumed that Cardinal Football would go back to dwelling in mediocrity.  I could not have been more wrong.

The 2012 Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year David Shaw has the fans in Stanford, California dreaming of a national championship. The Cardinal returns seven starters on offense, and a robust ten starters on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford figures to be in a tight battle with the Oregon Ducks all season long. The media gave Oregon the slight edge in their Pac-12 North preseason pick. Even so, I have always been a huge fan of the Stanford Tree.

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The Stanford Tree wreaks of awesomeness.

UCLA
I must admit to having very little interest in Bruins football once the ball is snapped. My curiosity with UCLA is triggered by their current head football coach, “Jim Mora Jr.”  The man born James Lawrence Mora (according to Wikipedia) was the head football coach in Atlanta during the Michael Vick days. His tenure began in 2004 with a bang when the Falcons played for the NFC title at the end of the season, but it ended with him being fired after the thud of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

I have heard unconfirmed stories that coach Mora can be combative.  I never passed judgement until I was watching ESPN’s The Herd (hosted by Doug Gottlieb who was in for Colin Cowherd) and the following interview unfolded.  Given how poorly he handled the situation, I cannot take Jim Mora Jr. seriously as a leader of young men.



USC
Since leaving the Tennessee Volunteers high and dry in January of 2010, Lane Kiffin has gotten exactly what he deserved.  After leading the Trojans through their probation, USC appeared all set to fight for the college football throne once again. Hell, I picked them to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs in the BCS National Championship Game last year. The University of Southern California proceeded to go 7-6, and fall off the horse before they could even get going. The Trojans DID cap the season off by losing to a team from Georgia, Tech, that is, in the Sun Bowl. USC reportedly broke out into a brawl pitting teammate against teammate, too.

Coming into this season, about the only thing going right for Lane Kiffin is that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that he is not on the hot seat.  If the Trojans do not improve drastically in 2013, the temperature of the head coach’s chair figures to rise considerably.

Maddawg’s Monday Bowl Picks (January 2, 2012)

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The BCS bowls are finally here.

The 2012 Bowl Championip Series gets underway on Monday after a plethora of forgettable bowl games to end 2011. But first, Capital One Bowl Week comes to a close featuring three afternoon games. The Georgia Bulldogs face Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, the Florida Gators get salt rubbed in their year old Urban Meyer wound against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, and the South Carolina Gamecocks play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl.

Following the afternoon pigskin party, the BCS begins with two match-ups on Monday evening. The Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks kickoff the BCS double dip in the Rose Bowl Game. Wisconsin won their first six games in 2011, before losing two in a row and then winning out to capture the Big Ten Conference championship. On the other side, the Ducks nearly laid an egg in losing their opening game to LSU. However, Oregon rebounded by winning 11 of their next twelve football games to earn the Pac-12 Conference title. Look for Oregon to badger the Badgers.

In the nightcap, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the lone BCS representative from the Big 12 as they take on the Pac-12 runner-up, Stanford. The Cowboys have a much more explosive offense than the Andrew Luck Crew. The Cardinal will need to control the time of possession, and take care of the football to have a chance to win.  If the Cardinal defense can not get consistent pressure on Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden then Stanford will have a difficult time keeping up with the Pokes. Continue reading

Maddawg’s Play of The Day – College Football Week 11 (November 12, 2011)

Week 11 of the 2011 college football season was a time for weeding out pretenders in the Bowl Championship Series standings. As a result, three undefeated teams remain, but only two of them are in contention to play for the national title. The unblemished Houston Cougars have cracked the top ten for the first time this week, but their lackluster schedule will prevent them from being in the national championship picture. On the contrary, the target on the #1 LSU Tigers and #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys grows even larger as the two squads try to maintain their respective places atop the BCS mountain. Alabama is lurking at #3 but they need more help to get that rematch the Tide faithful are praying for.

The Georgia Bulldogs won convincingly at home, dominating the Auburn Tigers by a final score of 45-7. Georgia Quarterback Aaron Murray picked an opportune time to have the best game of his young career, as the Dawgs had to win to stay in first place in the SEC East. Murray was on fire Saturday afternoon, as he finished the game 14 out of 18 throwing the ball with 4 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Georgia’s running game was equally impressive, as the biggest offensive line in football allowed both Carlton Thomas and Isaiah Crowell to run for over 100 yards. The Georgia Bulldogs were cooking on all cylinders, as the result of the game was never in doubt after Georgia broke the 7-7 tie before the end of the first quarter. Georgia’s defense shut down Auburn’s offense following their initial scoring drive. The Dawgs never let go of the Tigers’ tail, as they held Auburn under 200 total yards of offense. The 4-6 Kentucky Wildcats are all that remains between the Dawgs and the Dome.

Perennial BCS buster Boise State had a bad case of Horned Frog fever Saturday afternoon, and they are undefeated no more after losing at home to TCU. While that is technically not a good thing for Georgia it was gratifying to see the Broncos finally lose on that ridiculous blue field. Saturday marked Boise State’s first home conference loss since 1998. The Broncos have opened the door for Case Keenum and the aforementioned Houston Cougars to possibly crash this year’s BCS party.

Elsewhere in college football, Oregon went up and down the field on Stanford as the Ducks handed the Cardinal their first loss of 2011. Oregon put fifty points on Stanford for the second year in a row as the Ducks never trailed in the contest. Highly regarded Cardinal signal caller Andrew Luck was average as he threw three touchdown passes and two picks. The Stanford stand out has a bright future, but the team around him does not have enough fire power to contend for a BCS title.

The previously mentioned #1 LSU Tigers and #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys each looked strong in victory. The Cowboys embarrassed Texas Tech as they roped,and then hogtied the Raiders by a final score of 66-6 in Lubbock. LSU appeared disinterested throughout the first half of their match-up with Western Kentucky, but they followed that up with a 28 point second half as the Tigers roared to a 42-9 win.

Maddawg’s Play of The Day belongs to Georgia’s main man under center Aaron Murray. With his four touchdown performance on Saturday, Murray set a new single season record for passing TD’s at the University of Georgia with 27. The previous mark was held by Matthew Stafford who threw 25 touchdown passes in 2008. With a victory this Saturday against Kentucky Aaron Murray and the Dawgs will have a chance to bring the SEC title back to Athens. The 2011 Georgia Bulldogs have already ensured that Mark Richt will remain the head coach for the foreseeable future. They have also given Bulldog Nation a bite that is as rough as our bark. An SEC title along with a birth in a BCS bowl would be a remarkable finale to a fantastic season.



Maddawg’s Sports Weekend Itinerary November 11 – 13, 2011)

In the aftermath of one of the most talked about games in the history of regular season college football between LSU and Alabama the eyes of the SEC will be watching Sanford Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Georgia Bulldogs welcome the Auburn Tigers between the hedges. If Georgia is able to add just two more wins to their current seven game win streak, the Dawgs will represent the SEC East in the conference championship game on December 3rd.

What a revival it has been for the Georgia Bulldogs and head coach Mark Richt. Richt began the 2011 campaign on the hot seat, and some Bulldog fans were already calling for this season to be Richt’s last when Georgia opened 0-2. However, since the middle of September Georgia has arguably been the hottest team in college football outside of Louisiana State University. The LSU Tigers are almost a shoo-in to represent the SEC West in the aforementioned title game.

Kudos to coach Richt for ignoring the naysayers while adding another winning season to his lofty resume. If Georgia can “finish the drill” he will be able to add a fourth trip to the SEC title game to his name as well. I have been a staunch coach Richt supporter during his tenure in Athens, but it will be fun to watch the bandwagon fill up again.

In other SEC action, championship game scenarios make strange bedfellows as the Florida Gators could play a huge role in helping the Dawgs get back to the Dome. Florida travels to South Carolina and if the Gators can find a way to win on the road Georgia will be in position to clinch the SEC East against Auburn.  Florida is just 1-3 on the road this season though, and they have yet to beat a ranked opponent.  Georgia is likely to know what is at stake in “The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” just before they take the field on Saturday.

The college football match-ups with potentially big SEC implications extend much further than the southern states this weekend. Alabama is currently third in the BCS, and they will be observing with great interest as the #4 Stanford Cardinal host the #7 Oregon Ducks. If Andrew Luck and  friends are victorious than it is widely expected they will move ahead of Alabama in the BCS. However, if the quack attack can defeat the Cardinal than the Tide will roll right back into the middle of the BCS picture.

For those that do not want to see a Pac-12 shootout on Saturday night, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its debut on national television on FOX at 9PM EST. The only fight on the UFC FOX debut is a world heavyweight title bout between Cain Valasquez and Junior dos Santos. UFC president Dana White has been trying to negotiate a big television deal for a while and if Saturday night is a success the UFC could soar to even greater heights.

As for Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons welcome a familiar foe inside the Georgia Dome as they face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon. Wide receiver Julio Jones is questionable once again after aggravating his hamstring injury. The first round draft pick pass catcher would certainly be an asset for the Dirty birds after his 3 catch, 131 yard performance on the road against Indianapolis last week.

Atlanta’s defense has been much improved as of late, since they have given up only 13 points per game on average in their last three games. If the Falcons can beat the Saints on Sunday it will be a big step toward a second straight NFC South title for the Dirty Birds. Falcons Rise Up.



Picks– College Football

Steve Spurrier’s old team visits his current place of employment as Florida heads into South Carolina. Current Gator head man Will Muschamp is desperate to finish strong and he needs a signature win. No such luck this week. South Carolina 17, Florida 13

Texas Tech looks to shake up the BCS again as they host Oklahoma State. The Cowboys learned from Oklahoma’s mistakes. Lightning will not strike twice in Lubbock, Texas. Oklahoma State 48, Texas Tech 31

TCU travels to Bronco Stadium and Boise State’s blue field. The Broncos are seemingly a forgotten variable in the BCS formula, as they continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. I’ll give them a little respect. Boise State 41, TCU 24



Oregon and Stanford will be high scoring. The Ducks are still in search of redemption after they got pummeled by LSU in the opening week of the season. Stanford’s luck runs out. Oregon 44, Stanford 38

Finally, the Dawgs host Auburn as they try to bring glory back to old Georgia. Bulldogs keep their eyes on the prize and win convincingly in front of a packed crowd. Georgia 35, Auburn 17

NFL quick picks

The Lions will be too cold to eat any Bears in the “Windy City.” Chicago 27, Detroit 20

Pittsburgh will knock Cincinnati out of first place in the AFC North.  Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 20

San Francisco will play the role of giant killer. San Francisco 27, Giants 17

Jets fly over the Patriots. Jets 24 Patriots 20.

The Falcons will “defend the dome” and send the saints marching back home. Atlanta understands the difference between 6-3 versus 5-4 and they will get a critical win at home. Atlanta 34, New Orleans 31  Enjoy the weekend. GO DAWGS!!!

Maddawg’s Sports Weekend Itinerary (Ocotober 28 – 30, 2011)

This Saturday is all about college football and the Georgia Bulldogs’ quest for redemption in Jacksonville.  But first, Major League Baseball takes center stage tonight for Game 7 of the World Series. Game 6 was fantastic, (I was fortunate enough to turn on my TV for what I thought would be the conclusion in the ninth inning.) Here’s hoping the Rangers have something left after losing in extras last night. Congratulations to both teams on a wonderful baseball season.



Tomorrow brings about a more serious tone. College Football enters its ninth week of regular season play. For the Dawg fans in Dixie, Georgia-Florida is not about having a good game, or may the best team win. Those cliches are out of the window. For Bulldog Nation, this Saturday is about winning at any cost. Georgia wide receiver  Malcolm Mitchell is doubtful for the game, but the Dawgs remain optimistic. If Georgia’s leading wide out can not play, it will be up to other receivers such as Marlon Brown, and Tavarres King to step up.

Although, the real key to success for the Dawgs is Isaiah Crowell. If the young tailback can get Georgia’s running game off to a fast start it would take a lot of pressure off of quarterback Aaron Murray. Georgia needs to pin the Florida Gators down early and make sure they don’t have a chance to get up. Defensively, the Dawgs need to prove that the Vanderbilt game two weeks ago was an aberration, and not a sign of things to come.

Elsewhere in college football there are a plethora of good  games throughout the day. Michigan State travels to Lincoln to take on Nebraska just one week after bushwhacking the Badgers. I’m not a fan of Taylor Martinez and it would be fun to see Michigan State and Wisconsin meet again at the end of the year. Look for the green and white to win a hard fought contest.

Among other intriguing match-ups is Baylor taking on BCS #3 Oklahoma State,while the Oklahoma Sooners try to rebound at Kansas State, and Stanford travels to USC to battle the Trojans.The BCS standings have helped bring more excitement to college football this year and week 9 will be no exception.

In pro football the Atlanta Falcons have a bye week following their big win in Detroit. While I will still pick five games in this blog there are only two games that look good on paper. First up, The Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to square off with the Steelers. After the Ravens lost to the Jaguars in a horrific Monday night game there is not a clear favorite in the AFC. The game between the Pats and Steelers will likely determine who the best team in the AFC is going into the second half of the season.

The Sunday night game features Dallas on the road at Philadelphia. Neither one of these teams have been able to live up to lofty preseason expectations, and they both need to win. If the Eagles lose they will be 2-5 and their season will be all but over. Andy Reid is too good of a coach for that to happen, the Eagles will fly at home.

Picks– College Football:

Michigan State won’t have a let down this week against Nebraska. Senior Spartan signal caller Kirk Cousins is determined to get Michigan State to a BCS bowl.



Michigan State 31, Nebraska 21

Baylor will attempt to burst Oklahoma State’s BCS bubble. The problem with that is Baylor’s defense has been dreadful. Oklahoma State wins again.

Oklahoma State 56, Baylor 31

Oklahoma may have watched their Bowl Championship Series title game hopes fade last week. This week, they play the role of dream crusher, ending the perfect season of the Wildcats.

Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 27

Andrew Luck versus Matt Barkley in prime time on Saturday night. Stanford wins as USC is still a year off probation away from becoming a Pac-12 powerhouse again.

Stanford 35, USC 21

The big Dawgs eat tomorrow afternoon. The main course? Gator.

Georgia 41, Florida 24

Picks–NFL quick picks this week due to falcons being off.

In a battle of rookie quarterbacks the Panthers beat the Vikings.

Carolina 34, Minnesota 24

Miami remains winless in their fight to get lucky.

NY Giants 28, Dolphins 10

Stafford beats Tebow just like in 2007.

Detroit 31, Denver 6

Big Ben and company out duel the Brady Bunch at home.

Pittsburgh 38, New England 34

Philadelphia wins at home to stay in the NFC playoff race.

Philadelphia 24, Dallas 20

Phenomenal weekend to be a sports fan. Enjoy. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!