College Football Thoughts – Conference Championship Week

ohio_state_urban_meyerUndefeated Ohio State Should be Ranked Ahead of one Loss Auburn
If the Buckeyes can best the Spartans on Saturday night, Urban Meyer and company deserve to play for a national championship.  The Ohio State University has won 24 football games in a row dating back to 2012.  On the contrary, Auburn needed back-to-back Christmas miracles to make it into the SEC Championship Game.

Should Sparty stun the Buckeyes this weekend, the winner of the Southeastern Conference title showdown between Auburn and Missouri will likely play Florida State for college football’s ultimate prize.  Even though anything can happen in college football, I feel confident FSU will defeat Duke.

The Targeting Rule Needs to be Amended, but it is not Going Anywhere
Safety is the number one priority at every level of football.  The changes to the targeting rule are representative of the emphasis on protecting players from concussions.  As far as properly enforcing the rule, referees have been pretty hit or miss.

There have been some excruciatingly bad targeting calls this season, along with cases where obvious fouls went undetected, such as in Navy versus San Jose State.

Wave Ryder is the Midshipmen defender at the center of the play in question, apologies in advance for the low-quality of the video below.  Searching for Wave Ryder highlights brings up a variety of topics in Google.



One aspect of the targeting rule in need of further examination is the 15 yard penalty assessed regardless of whether the ruling is upheld.  Logic dictates this penalty serves as incentive for defenders to go low when attempting to make a stop.  Still, it is unfair to impose an automatic first down on an overturned targeting infraction, because doing so can change the complexion of a contest.

Todd Grantham Will Coordinate Georgia’s Defense Until his Contract is up
The unrest in Athens continues to grow due to UGA’s inability to get the opposition off the field consistently.  Do not hold your breathe for a change on defense.

As current associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs, Todd Grantham is not going anywhere until the end of his current contract. Unless, of course,  he receives a better job offer.  The former NFL assistant stands to make $850,000 a year for the next two years.  His contract expires at the end of 2015.

This season has been about dealing with injuries and breaking in new players.  While Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 defense can be frustrating to watch, having a negative turnover ratio certainly does not help.  According to Sports Illustrated, coach Richt is adamant his coaching staff will remain intact.  As a loyal Dawg, I hope Todd Grantham does not spend his offseason waiting by the phone for job offers.  Still, if he wants to leave, adios.

Picking Winners
The 2013 college football campaign has been filled with twists and turns. Conference championship weekend should be no exception.
Predictions (Automatic Qualifier Conference Championship Games Only).

ACC: Florida State 34, Duke 13.
Big Ten: Ohio State 34, Michigan State 21.
Pac-12: Stanford 31, Arizona State 17.
SEC: Missouri 35, Auburn 28.

Georgia Running Back Richard Samuel’s Time To Shine is 2012.

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Richard Samuel looks to leap over the competition in 2012.

Bulldog Nation has high hopes for rising sophomore Isaiah Crowell, as well as incoming freshman Keith Marshall. However, if Georgia is to build on their success from 2011, then Richard Samuel must carry the load for the Bulldog rushing attack in 2012. Samuel will be a senior in the fall, and during his first three seasons in Athens he has been a running back and a linebacker. By switching positions, Samuel displayed a willingness to be a team player and in doing so, he has earned the right to be the starting running back when his senior campaign begins.

Aside from his team first attitude, Richard Samuel is 6’2″ tall and 243 pounds. His size enables him to run between the tackles and pound the football up the middle. He also has the ability to run through defenders, as he did when the Bulldogs bit the Florida Gators in Jacksonville. While Isaiah Crowell provided electrifying runs early last season, he struggled down the stretch and must learn to protect his body better if he hopes to have long term success as a running back.

Carlton Thomas added his fair share of contributions to the Bulldog offense as well. However, the soon to be senior running back has not yet proven he can stay out of trouble. Thomas must earn his carries in 2012 by being a good Dawg on and off of the football field. The Bulldogs also have Ken Malcome, who will be a (redshirt) rising sophomore. Malcome has shown flashes of brilliance with limited carries, but he has not been on the field enough to lead Georgia’s ground game. Continue reading

Examining Georgia’s Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State – Plenty of Blame To Go Around

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Did Mark Dantonio and the Spartans out coach the Bulldogs in critical situations?

A few days removed from Georgia’s second straight bowl debacle, Bulldog Nation is searching for someone to blame for the Bulldogs’ new year lump of coal. However, there are multiple parties at fault for what happened in the final two quarters (and three overtimes) in the 2012 Outback Bowl. The most frustrating aspect of Georgia’s latest collapse is that all of the usual suspects were involved. As the old adage goes, those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

The Offensive Line
One of the most painful things about the Outback Bowl was watching Georgia’s offensive line get pushed around and give up about a dozen tackles for loss against the Michigan State defense. William Gholston led the charge as the Spartans dominated the line of scrimmage. The Dawgs averaged just 1.3 yards per rush in the game. True or not, the perception is that the Big Ten is the slow conference and that SEC speed and athleticism  dominates when the two conferences meet head-to-head in bowl games which makes the Bulldog loss a bitter pill to swallow. According to the Wall Street Journal, since the year 2000 the Big Ten’s record in bowl games after Michigan State’s win stands at 33-51. 

Mike Bobo was a fine college quarterback. He has been in over his head as offensive coordinator.

Mike Bobo’s Playcalling
During Georgia’s ten game win streak the offense was able to put up great numbers– against lesser competition.–  Unfortunately, when the Bulldogs were faced with an opponent that could match up with them physically such as in all four of their loses,  the results were pedestrian at best. The 2011 Georgia Bulldogs did not beat a single team in the top 20. Against Michigan State Georgia never seemed to give any thought to running outside, as the Dawgs were stuffed time after time between the tackles. Georgia had a chance to put the game away in the fourth quarter after a turnover gave them the ball in Michigan State territory with the Bulldogs ahead by four points.  An inexplicable play action pass in the third overtime was the straw that broke the Dawgs’ back. Continue reading

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 Sports Weekend Itinerary- December 3rd 2011 conference championship edition

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BCS Championship implications surround Saturday.

Saturday’s college football conference championship games begin with a BCS bid on the line for the Houston Cougars as they face Southern Miss. A loss by the Golden Eagles would be for the greater good of Conference USA, as Houston needs a win to crash the BCS party.

Houston quarterback Case Keenum has put up fantastic numbers against lackluster competition, but If the Cougars are able to win a BCS bowl game it would go along way in raising the sixth year senior’s draft stock. Houston may be exposed as a sheep in Cougar clothing under the bright lights of the Bowl Championship Series, but they will finish the regular season unbeaten. Houston 48, Southern Miss 34

The Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game between the Clemson Tigers and Virginia Tech Hokies is the first of two rematches for conference supremacy.  Virginia Tech has not lost since they got bushwhacked by the Tigers in Blacksburg on the first day of October. Clemson won their first eight games in 2011 but they have been on the losing end in three out of their last four contests.

Virginia Tech has one more chance to improve their resume as they audition for the part of the best one loss team in college football. While a lot would need to happen for the Hokies to find themselves in the national championship game, Frank Beamer and company have been hoping for a chance at redemption for their lone loss this season. Hokies win, and add an interesting variable to the BCS Championship debate. Virginia Tech 27, Clemson 20

The inaugural Big 10 Title Game features the other rematch of the day. Wisconsin battles Michigan State in a game that has a lot to live up to. Even though the Big 10 chose hideous names for their respective divisions (Leaders and Legends) the first meeting between the two teams was one of the best games of the year. The Badgers are eager to get revenge against Michigan State after the Spartans were victorious on a walk-off 44 yard  touchdown on the final play of regulation in the first contest. (After a controversial official review)



Wisconsin gets pay back on Sparty and the Badgers find themselves in a second straight BCS bowl game. Wisconsin 31 Michigan State 21

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State meet in the Bedlam game Saturday night. A win for the Cowboys may result a birth in the national championship for Mike Gundy and the Pokes. It is unclear whether or not Oklahoma State has recovered from their road debacle at Iowa State. As for Oklahoma, the two loss Sooners need a win to salvage a trip to the BCS after they began the year as the #1 team in the country.

Oklahoma wins on the road. I can’t bring myself to pick the Pokes after they lost to a 26 point underdog. Oklahoma 41, Oklahoma State 24

For the Georgia Bulldogs, Dome day has finally arrived. Not many outside of Athens believe the Dawgs have a chance to catch the LSU Tigers by the tail.  LSU is loaded on both sides of the ball, as the Tigers are the latest team in a line of Southeastern Conference juggernauts. Isaiah Crowell is a game time decision which will likely leave the Bulldogs with limited options at running back once again. Richard Samuel is not expected to be available for the game either.

If Isaiah Crowell does not play then it will be a huge blow to the Dawgs’ chances to pull off the upset. Georgia must play mistake free football against the best team in the country to stay in the game for four quarters. Since I am a homer, I will pick Georgia to pull off the biggest upset in college football this year. Georgia 20, LSU 17.



Enjoy the games. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Maddawg’s Play of The Day – College Football Week 8 (October 23, 2011)

In a season that had largely gone as expected, with very few upsets, week 8 of the regular season turned the college football landscape on its ear. Two big upsets were the order of the night, but before they occurred LSU proved they are the only true Tigers in the Southeastern Conference with a dominant performance over Auburn. #1 ranked LSU certainly looks like the best team in college football as they have a bye week before they travel to Tuscaloosa for an epic showdown with Alabama.



Many other teams did their part to hold serve as well. The aforementioned Tide rolled over Tennessee after giving the Volunteers a false sense of security in the first half. The game was tied at six when the two teams went to their locker rooms but Alabama came out swinging as they scored 31 second half points while blanking the Vols in the final 30 minutes. Elsewhere, Boise State was able to ground Air Force’s hopes of ending their undefeated season. The Broncos won 37-26.

Clemson also looked strong as they beat the tar out of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Next week’s game against Georgia Tech has lost nearly all of its luster as the Jackets have looked terrible in losing two in a row. The Clemson Tigers appear as if they will be immune to the sting of Georgia Tech, but as last night proved, anything can happen in college football.

BCS chaos is the lifeblood of a compelling college football season. It is fitting that in the first weekend of the Bowl Championship Series standings there would be two season altering outcomes. In a game that ended early this morning in the east, the Red Raiders of Texas Tech shocked the Oklahoma Sooners, 41-38,  in Norman. While it was tremendous to watch a stunning upset, it is also hard not to feel terrible for Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt, who missed two crucial field goals. Here’s hoping that Sooner fans can be reasonable human beings and leave the kid alone.

Now for Maddawg’s Play of The Day: Wisconsin had been steamrolling the competition through the first seven weeks of the college football season. The Badgers’ road trip to East Lansing was supposed to be a statement game as they found themselves at #6 in the BCS standings. However, somebody forgot to tell Michigan State. The Spartans fought hard all game, and, with 4 seconds left the game appeared to be headed for overtime.

What followed is the reason why I love college football more than any other sport. Michigan State won on a 44 yard Hail Mary that bounced off of two Badgers before Keith Nichol was able to catch the ball and score a touchdown. The play is arguably the most memorable play in the history of Michigan State football. The Bowl Championship Series is not perfect, but after last night, one would be hard pressed to argue that it does not produce tremendous results in the product on the field. In addition, Michigan State and Wisconsin could have a high profile rematch in the Big Ten title game on December 3rd.