Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jonah Puls: How to Fix This Crazy Game

Here we are, already onto week 10 of college football, and this wonderful game has proven to us time after time why we love it so deeply.
If you had asked someone before the season began what he or she thought about the current top 5 teams in the nation, what would there response have been?
Crazy, stupid, idiotic, or somewhere along those lines.
Let's take a quick glance at those top 5 teams:
No.1—Oregon: Not many people expected Oregon to have the season its having, considering the Ducks lost its starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli not long before the season.
Oregon came into the season ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll Preseason Top 25 Poll, and many thought they were still overrated.
But the Ducks have proved everyone wrong, currently sitting at the top spot in the nation. And not to mention they may arguably have one of the most explosive offenses we have seen in a while led by sophomore—and Heisman candidate—running back LaMichael James.
No. 2—Boise State: The Broncos came into the season ranked No. 3 in the AP Poll Preseason Top 25 Poll.
After compiling a record of 7-0, and beating two Top 25 teams (Virginia Tech and Oregon State), they are currently ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll Top 25, so this really isn't a surprise, because moving up one spot isn't a huge leap.
Heisman candidate Kellen Moore, who is trying to get the Broncos to its first ever BCS National Championship, is the chief in command for the Broncos.
No. 3—Auburn: This is the team least expected to be in the top-five. They were certainly expected to be good coming into the season, but not this good. The Tigers came into the season No. 22 in the AP Poll Top 25. But they slowly crept up the rankings, and that included signature wins against South Carolina, Arkansas, and LSU. Auburn’s star quarterback, Cam Newton, has also exceeded many expectations and is arguably the leading Heisman candidate.
No. 4—TCU: Am I going crazy or are there two non-BCS teams in the top-five?
TCU has virtually destroyed every team they have played this season. The Horned Frogs closest game has come against Oregon State, where TCU won by nine points. And in TCU’s last five games, the closest any team has been is 27 points.
They came into this season ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll Preseason Top 25, and, just like Boise State, have not disappointed.
They have even jumped the Broncos in the BCS Rankings and sit at No. 3.
No. 5—Alabama: This is another team that comes as a surprise, but for a different reason than every other team.
The Crimson Tide came into the season No. 1 on every preseason poll there was as the Tide returned Greg McElroy, Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and also brought in a heap of highly talented recruits.
But Alabama was upset by South Carolina in week 6, 35-21, and that sent the Tide down to No. 8 in the AP Poll.
They have since crept back up to No. 5 and need to continue winning—along with a couple upset to occur—for them to have a shot at back-to-back national championships.
Certainly things will continue to take shape as we head into the home stretch of the college football season, and we will continue to monitor things week-by-week.
As for the top-five teams mentioned above, things will only continue to get harder for them, because they all have a large target on their backs.
I will give you what I think the toughest game remaining on each of their schedules is, whether or not they will win, and who will be the BCS National Championship Game.
But without further adieu…
No. 5 Alabama: @ No. 10 LSU
Before you jump on me for not putting the game against Auburn here, I want to let you know that I don’t count that, because, at this moment, Alabama isn’t expected to win, and I am predicting games that could surprise some people.
Now, onto why I think LSU could upset Alabama…
Past Auburn, it is very clear to me that LSU is the team that will give Alabama its biggest challenge.
The Tigers are sitting at an impressive record of 7-1, and its only loss came in a barnburner at Auburn, where LSU lost 24-17.
Another important factor about this game is that it will be played in “Death Valley,” which is one of the toughest places to play in all of college football.
It is important that LSU gets some offense going in this game, because they need to score points against Alabama, whose defense gives up only 12.5 points per game (2nd in the nation).
That’s where my fear comes in: LSU doesn’t have a strong offense, only putting up 25.5 points per game.
LSU’s defense is right up there with Alabama’s, however, only giving up 15.6 points per game.
LSU’s defense will be the main key to success in this game, because this will likely be a low scoring affair for LSU’s offense, so they have to also keep Alabama to a low amount of points.
And due to it likely being a low scoring game, special teams will also take a large part in who comes out as the victor.
LSU’s field-goal kicker, Josh Jasper, is the No. 8 kicker in the nation, making 14-17 field goals on the season (82.4%).
As for LSU’s punting, they have a two-punter system. Derek Helton is the long distance punter and Josh Jasper—its field goal kicker—is the short distance (pouch) punter, used to pin opponents deep in its own territory. Helton averaged 53.2 yards per punt on five punts against Auburn on Saturday.
Another concern of mine heading into this game is the coaching of Wes Miles. He has had some questionable calls this season, and that could come back to haunt him at some point this season if it continues.
But, with this being such an important game, Miles will have his LSU Tigers ready to face Alabama this Saturday and it’s definitely a game to keep your eyes on.
No. 4 TCU: @ No. 6 Utah
Onto our first BCS-buster—TCU—and the funny thing about this game is, they are playing another BCS-buster, Utah, who is right up there talent-wise with TCU.
This is one of those games in the MWC conference that you just don't want to miss, even if you don't know what MWC stand for—Mountain West Conference.
This game features two teams with offenses and defenses that are among the top in the country.
Utah ranks 3rd in the nation is scoring offense at 45.3 points per game, and TCU comes in at the No. 9 scoring offense in the country, averaging 40.8 points per game.
As for defense, Utah only gives up 14.1 points per game (6th in the nation), and TCU is the best in all of college football, only giving up 8.7 points per game.
But, let's take a look at the two teams schedules so far coming into this game.
Neither of them have wins that put them way past the other team, but it is apparent that TCU has a tougher schedule. The Horned Frogs have impressive wins against Oregon State and against a strong Baylor team.
As for Utah, it appears its schedule is very weak, as its most impressive win arguably came against a mediocre Pittsburgh team.
But, the Utes have still looked impressive, blowing out every team since the Pittsburgh game, except Air Force, whose only loss came to Oklahoma by three earlier this season.
So, you have two powerful offense, two powerful defenses, and a national title game possibly at stake for both teams.
If you are a college football fanatic, you couldn't ask for more.
No. 3 Auburn: @ No. 5 Alabama
This is a game that I see as one of the most intriguing games left in the college football season.
Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers will have its hands full as they head to Alabama to take on a Crimson Tide team that realizes another loss will ruin its chances of returning to a national championship.
This is a game where Auburn's defense may finally come back to hurt them. The Tiger defense is ranked 59th in scoring defense, giving up 24.3 points per game.
They will be facing a strong Alabama offense that scores 34.3 points per game. Greg McElroy, who has thrown for 1,781 yards, 11 touchdowns, and three interceptions, leads the Alabama offense this season.
His main target is Julio Jones, who is has the potential to be a NFL caliber player. And behind McElroy is a two-punch backfield of sophomore Trent Richardson and senior Mark Ingram.
It will definitely be a challenge for Auburn to control that offensive attack, but it something that must be done.
They cannot lean heavily on the offense to score a large amount of points this week like they did against Arkansas, where Auburn pulled out a 65-43 victory.
Arkansas--who gives up 22.3 points per game--has a much weaker defense that Alabama's, who only gives up 12.5 points per game, which ranks 2nd in the nation.
As mentioned earlier, Auburn has to stop Alabama's offense, because the Crimson Tide defense will not allow Cam Newton to march up and down the field on them.
It is also crucial that Auburn controls time of possession and limit its turnovers if they hope to come out with a victory in arguably its most important game of the regular season.
No. 2 Boise State: Vs. Hawaii
The Hawaii Warriors are one of those games that you come in expecting to win, but if you don't come fully prepared, they can hand it to you.
The Warriors are No. 2 in the WAC, and sit at an overall record of 7-2, with its two losses coming against USC and Colorado.
Hawaii almost got into the Top 25 this week after thumping Idaho, 45-10, this past weekend.
Many may look at Boise State's remaining schedule and think that Nevada is the toughest game left, but when I look at the important details of this game, Hawaii sticks out as the tougher opponent.
On the offensive side of the ball for Hawaii, its passing game takes much more importance that the rushing game.
Hawaii averages 395.4 yards per game in the air, which ranks No. 1 in the nation, and it averages only 96.2 yards per game on the ground.
If you look at Boise State's biggest strength on defense, it is stopping the running game, as the Broncos rank No. 2 in the nation, giving up 75.4 yards per game on the ground.
Boise State's defense is also good at the passing game, giving up only 116 yards per game in the air, but it is still clear that they stop the run better.
As mentioned earlier, Hawaii is very impressive passing the ball, as compared to Nevada who ranks 58th in the nation in passing at 219.3 yards per game.
Also, Nevada's strength is running the ball, averaging 300.9 yards per game, which plays into Boise State's favor.
It will be important for Hawaii to contain Kellen Moore, and Hawaii gives up 198.4 passing yards per game, compared to Nevada giving up 258 passing yards per game, once again proving that Hawaii provides a tougher challenge than Nevada.
Hawaii's strength's will be more important to them when they play Boise State, and I think Hawaii's passing game could give Boise State some trouble, especially once I saw Louisiana Tech's quarterback have an impressive game against the Broncos last week.
I am confident that Boise State will be ready for this game, however, knowing that even having a close game can completely ruins its chances of making a national championship.
But, like everyone says, you just never know.
No. 1 Oregon: Vs. No. 15 Arizona
It's pretty clear to me that if Oregon can get past Arizona, a BCS National Champion Game is almost imminent.
As we all know, Oregon has an outstanding offense that could probably score 40 points on some NFL teams. The Ducks' offense is the top scoring offense in the nation, putting up 54.9 points per game.
But, Oregon's rushing attack led by LaMichael James, will have a tough tasks at hand as they go up against a stingy Arizona rushing defense, which only gives 88.4 yards per game on the ground.
Arizona's defense in general is very impressive, giving up only 14.4 points per game, which ranks 7th in the country.
It is possibly the toughest defense Oregon will face all season long, and that's what makes this game so interesting.
We have all seen how powerful Oregon's offense can be, but what if they are stopped?
They will have to rely on the defense, which has also been impressive this season, only giving up 17.9 points per game.
But, as shown against USC, Oregon's pass defense is its biggest weakness, giving up 211.9 passing yards per game, which ranks 60th in the nation.
Arizona has a strong passing attack led by junior quarterback Nick Foles, who averages 266.9 passing yards per game.
It's simple--but realistically not simple--for Arizona: stop Oregon's offense and they have a legitimate shot at winning the game.
Predictions: Who Goes to The National Championship?
No. 5 Alabama @ No. 10 LSU: Alabama
No. 4 TCU @ No. 6 Utah: TCU
No. 3 Auburn @ No. 5 Alabama: Alabama
No. 2 Boise State vs. Hawaii: Boise State
No. 1 Oregon vs. Arizona: Oregon
In the end, I think the only upset that occurs is Alabama over Auburn in a close game that comes down to the end.
Auburn's defense will not be able to handle Alabama's offense, and Auburn will not be able to score very much on Alabama's strong defense.
The other games should all be close and entertaining to all, but I don't see any upsets coming out of those games.
And, what we will all be wondering once all is said and done, is: who will be playing in the national championship?
Alabama's overall resume should be enough to get them past TCU and Boise State, putting them in the BCS National Championship for the second straight year against the Oregon Ducks.

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