College Football Preview Week #1-Live from Ireland
By Bob Gaughan
Notre Dame vs Navy in Dublin, Ireland
It was nice of Notre Dame to schedule Navy for the people in Ireland. Navy’s triple option will be familiar to the natives since in closely resembles a typical rugby play. Not so nice is after a couple of Guinness trying to watch two teams with plain gold helmets and navy & white as their primary colors.
Due to an arrest in May, ND suspended starting QB Tommy Rees for this game. Everett Golston beat out the number one high school prospect in the country Gunner Kiel (RIP Blair). Golston is a dual option threat with a cannon for an arm.
Most years ND fans complain about a tough schedule and I feel it’s unwarranted. This year they should complain. No team in the country will play three tougher road games than at: Michigan State, Oklahoma and USC. Michigan at home won’t be a picnic either.
Notre Dame players in the draft have reduced dramatically over the last decade. ILB Manti TE’O and TE Tyler Eifert are two to watch from this game.
Notre Dame beat Navy 43 straight before going 2-3 in the last five years. Navy looking to bounce back after a rare losing season.
Ohio at Penn State
Emotions are sure to be running high in Beaver stadium as Penn State prepares for the first home opener since Truman was in office without Joe Paterno on the sidelines as a coach (assistant coach from ‘50-’65). Consider the ten year Bill O’Brien deathwatch clock to have begun ticking.
O’Brien comes over with a nice offensive resume but the deck is stacked against him. This will be the best Penn State team for the next decade. That doesn’t say much since he lost his best player (Silas Redd) to USC. Penn State still has a ton of talent on the defensive side. Best player maybe OLB Gerald Hodges. What works against a first time coach is a scheme change that usually takes a team a year to adjust. After this season the reduction in scholarships is going to hit hard and this team will be fighting with Indiana to stay out of the basement of the Big 10 for a generation.
Ohio is a favorite to win the MAC and could pull the upset here. Experienced QB Tyler Tettleton leads the Bobcats on offense. Frank Solich has been building a solid program at Ohio in his eight years there. This maybe his best team yet with 14 starters returning.
Michigan vs Alabama in Cowboys Stadium
Nick “Chuckles” Saban has won two of the last three national championships at Alabama. Only four starters return from the best defense in the land last year. LB DJ Mosely and Safety Robert Lester are speedy defenders that lead the way on defense. Denard Robinson maybe less likely to take on Usain Bolt than some of the speedy ‘Bama defenders when this one is over. Offensively QB AJ McCarron looks to build on an impressive performance in the national championship game. Reports out of Tuscaloosa are that McCarron is much more confident this year and has taken over the reigns as team leader. Bama so loaded and stockpiled with talent that even though only returning eleven starters many still predict them winning back to back national chamionships.
Biggest turnaround for Michigan under Brady Hoke was not only beating that rival from Ohio but a defense that went from 108th nationally to 6th. The Wolvs offense took a hit when RB Fitz Toussaint was suspended after a DUI arrest. Monstrous LT Taylor Lewan has NFL people drooling like Pavlov’s dogs.
Clemson vs Auburn in Atlanta
Toomer’s tree update because I know you wanted one. Toomer’s oak show some sap but the long term prognosis is still grim as dead branches continue to increase in number. Which leads to isn’t the karma myth officially busted as Alabama wins another national championship despite “Roll Tide” loser attempting “botanicide” on the beloved and treasured Tiger oaks.
Tigers didn’t fall quite as much after the departure of “Scam” Newton. Tigers went 8-5 and blew out Virginia in their bowl game. Big changes this year on the offense as they scrap the no huddle spread for a more traditional two back set. Sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier needs to make more plays with his arm for the Tigers to compete with the SEC elite. Former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder brings his blitz happy defense to the plains. Auburn defense needs all the help it can get after giving up over 400 yards a game last year.
The last time Clemson took the field they gave up 70, that’s right 70 points to West Virginia in getting blown out in the Orange Bowl. Seven starters return from that defense. Your guess as good as mine whether that is a positive or a negative. Clemson returns a threesome on offense that can light up the scoreboard. QB Tajh Boyd, RB Andre Ellington and WR Sammy Watkins fit right into the hurry up no huddle scheme offensive coordinator Chad Morris likes to run. Do note that Watkins will be suspended for this game because of an off season arrest. Points could be easy to come by in this one.
UB at Georgia
The Bulldogs have the easiest schedule a SEC team could possibly have. Somehow Georgia evaded LSU, Alabama and Arkansas on the schedule. The off season was tumultuous one in Athens as several defensive starters will be suspended for this one including All-American safety Bacarri Rambo. RB Isiah Crowell was dismissed from the team after his arrest on felony weapons charges.
On the positive side, QB Aaron Murray is a darkhorse Heisman candidate after setting a school record 35 TD’s last year. LB Jarvis Jones is predicted as going in the top 10 of next Aprils draft.
Big question between the hedges is the offensive line. Bills RT Cordy Glenn was one of three starters that need to be replaced.
Jeff Quinn could use a winning season. Let’s say that again, Jeff Quinn could use a winning season. Only five wins in his first two seasons as head coach isn’t going to cut it with a new athletic director possible wanting his own man looming over his head. The schedule doesn’t do Quinn any favors either. Georgia, Connecticut and Pitt as non-conference opponents to go along with a nasty conference schedule.
The best thing going for Quinn comes in the smallest package. RB Bo Oliver is only 5’8, but he broke the Bulls single season rushing record last year. Oliver had eight 100 yard games in rushing for almost 1,400 yards. The Bulls defense should be much improved. DE Steven Means, LB Khalil Mack along with two experienced corners Cortney Lester and Najja Johnson should allow the Bulls to improve dramatically on the 29 points per game they gave up last year. Mack will miss this game as result of a suspension but will return for the rest of the schedule. The QB play is a big mystery coming into the season. Alex Zordich beat out local product Joe Licata for the starting job. Zordich has only four starts in his career and how well he performs will go a long way in deciding the fate of Quinn.