Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

Cleveland Can’t Pass on Watson

Cleveland can’t pass on Deshaun Watson. It is that simple. We all know the sad story that is the current Cleveland Browns. Their history is littered with unfortunate events and bad decisions. Their biggest success came in 1964 when they won the NFL Championship. Since then, there has been little to cheer about in Cleveland.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: http://www.ramweb.org)

Cleveland came close to glory twice in the 1980s. The first unfortunate event was later called “The Drive” that took place in the 1986 AFC Championship game. With just a little over five minutes left in the game, the Browns led the Denver Broncos 20-13.

The Broncos had the ball at their own two-yard line. John Elway proceeded to lead the Broncos on a 15-play 98-yard drive to tie the game at 20 with only 37 seconds remaining. The wind had been sucked out of Cleveland and the Broncos won in overtime 23-20.

The second unfortunate event is labeled “The Fumble” and took place the following year in a rematch with the Broncos in the AFC Championship game again. The Broncos jumped out on the Browns early with a 21-3 halftime lead.

Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar threw four second-half touchdowns, but the game was tied 31-31 in the third quarter. With six minutes remaining in the game, John Elway threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to give the Broncos a 38-31 lead.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: http://www.elacommoncorelessonplans.com)

With only 1:12 remaining in the game, the Browns had driven down to the eight-yard line. Earnest Byner took a handoff and looked like he was about to tie the game when he was stripped at the 1-yard line and the Broncos took an intentional safety and won the game 38-33. For the second season in a row, the Browns were devastated in the game prior to the Super Bowl.

One of the last major unfortunate events for the Browns franchise was “The Move.” Browns owner Art Modell announced in 1995 that he was moving the franchise to Baltimore and thus, the Baltimore Ravens were born.

The history of the franchise would remain in Cleveland, but what hurt the most for the city is that the Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl just five seasons later. Cleveland fans have always felt that that championship should have been theirs.

The Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999 and have had 28 different starting quarterbacks. 28 is a ridiculous amount of quarterbacks in just an 18-year span. There has been zero stability at the position and they need a franchise quarterback badly.

The Franchise Savior

It is laughable that Deshaun Watson is getting such little respect in the draft. So-called experts say he lacks accuracy and good decision making for a quarterback. What tape or games are they watching of Watson?

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: http://www.bleedinggreennation.com)

Watson had a legendary college career. He was the first player in college football history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. He went 32-3 as a starter and led Clemson to two straight national championship games. Both were against Alabama and the legendary Nick Saban.

In his entire career at Clemson, Watson threw for 10,168 yards, 90 touchdowns and only 32 interceptions. Where people go wrong in analyzing Watson is saying he runs too much, or that he is a run-first quarterback. That is absolutely false. Yes, he did rush for 1,934 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career, but Watson only runs when he needs to. He keeps his eyes down field while extending plays.

One thing Watson must work on is his down field accuracy. At his young age, he has time to develop that aspect of his game. Where Watson excels most is when the game is on the line. If there are less than four minutes in the game and you need a touchdown, Deshaun Watson delivers.

Cleveland Can't Pass on Watson

(Photo Credit: https://me.me/t/deshaun-watson)

He is the most clutch quarterback in college football history. He has proven it time and time again and his latest example was against one of the greatest defenses in college football history on the biggest stage. This is one of the greatest traits a quarterback can have, and it can’t be taught.

For so long, the Browns have been stuck at the bottom of the barrel. Their franchise has made so many head-scratching moves. They have overthought decisions and jumped at quarterbacks that had no business leading a franchise. Cleveland has had a lot of bad luck in the process as well. They can end all that by getting a franchise quarterback.

This one is right in front of their face. Do not make the mistake that the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers made. Dabo Sweeny is absolutely correct, any team that passes on Deshaun Watson is passing on Michael Jordan.

 

 

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The Need for an Eight Team Playoff

(USA Today)

(USA Today)

There must be an eight team playoff in college football. This college football season has been the best of any in recent history. There is constant rhetoric on who should have been in the playoffs and who shouldn’t.  There is constant questions on who is capable of challenging the unbeatable Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama has clearly looked like the best team in the country, but games are not won on paper and anything can happen once the ball is kicked off. There are upsets every week and Week 11 showed it more than ever. For the first time since 1985, the second, third and fourth ranked teams all lost on the same day. It was madness and chaotic and we all loved it! College football still has a little guy, Western Michigan, that went undefeated and gets absolutely no love at all. Their schedule is blamed for their low rankings at the end and throughout the year. There is an issue with the current format of a four team playoff.

College football is exciting and a four team playoff system was a great start, but we want, no, we need more. There needs to be an eight team college playoff. Part of the reason the college game went to a playoff system was because the BCS system didn’t allow the nation to see a true champion. There was rarely a year in which the third ranked team in the BCS didn’t have a case to be in the national championship. This year is no different. As mentioned previously, Western Michigan went undefeated and has to settle for playing in the Cotton Bowl. This isn’t the first time a small school had been disrespected by the polls.

The Little Guy

(Photo: Steve Grayson/WireImage)

(Photo: Steve Grayson/WireImage)

Why can’t the little guy get a chance to upset Goliath? There are plenty examples of teams who did not have a snowball’s chance in Hell to win against a college football giant, but somehow found a way. In 2006, Boise State won one of the greatest games in college football history.

The 2006 Boise State team was a member of the Western Athletic Conference, which is now extinct in football. It was a conference that was considered one of the worst in the country.  Boise State had two big non-conference wins that season. The Broncos beat Oregon State 42-12 and they also won at Utah 36-3. Boise finished the season undefeated, but the BCS only ranked Boise at eighth. Boise State was never considered for the national championship because of their weak conference. They had to settle for playing number 10 ranked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl which became an instant classic.

To sum up the game, with a 1:02 left in a 28-28 tie, Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky threw an interception to Marcus Walker who ran the interception back 34 yards for a touchdown to give Oklahoma a 35-28 lead. Fast forward to Boise State’s next possession with 18 seconds remaining. It was fourth and 18. Boise State ran the famous hook and lateral that worked for a touchdown. The game was tied at 35 with just seven seconds remaining.

Oklahoma got the ball first in overtime and Adrian Peterson ran it in for a 25 yard touchdown to give Oklahoma a 42-35 lead. Boise was able to answer with a touchdown and head coach Chris Petersen decided to go for two. Boise State ran the statue of liberty in for the two-point conversion and the win, 43-42. The Broncos finished the season with a perfect 13-0 record and the only team left undefeated that season.

Continuing with the theme of small conference schools being snubbed, the next example is the 2008 Utah Utes who were in the Mountain West. Utah won at (24) Michigan, then beat (11) TCU and (14) BYU at home. They finished ranked sixth in the final BCS rankings and had to settle for playing in the Sugar Bowl against (4) Alabama. Utah easily won the Sugar Bowl 31-17 even though they were 10 point underdogs. They finished the year as the only undefeated team in the country, but were not the national champions.

(ESPN/The Associated Press)

(ESPN/The Associated Press)

That same year Boise State finished the regular season undefeated as well, and was ranked ninth in the BCS. The Broncos only had one impressive win that season in which they won at Oregon 37-32. It was the famous LeGarrette Blount punch game. That year Boise didn’t even get to play in a BCS Bowl game. They played TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl and lost 17-16.

2009 left the BCS in chaos at the end of the year as there were five undefeated teams: Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State. The national championship game ended up being Alabama versus Texas. The other three undefeated teams were not given the chance to play for a national championship.

Texas had gone 3-0 against the top 25 with only one of those wins coming on the road. Cincinnati had gone 4-0 against the top 25 with three of those wins coming on the road. Texas was chosen because of their name. The small schools always get the short end of the stick when being listed with the best of the best.

(https://www.reddit.com/r/CFB/comments/3ucxld/week_13_trash_talk_thursday_trashgiving/)

(https://www.reddit.com/r/CFB/comments/3ucxld/week_13_trash_talk_thursday_trashgiving/)

The last example of small schools from small conferences comes from 2010 from TCU. TCU won at (24) Oregon State to open the season. The Horned Frogs only had one other ranked game which came on the road against (6) Utah. TCU demolished the Utes 47-7. In the end their wins weren’t impressive enough as they finished the season in the BCS ranked third. The two teams that finished ahead of them, Auburn and Oregon, were both undefeated as well. TCU ended up in the Rose Bowl against (4) Wisconsin and won 21-19 to finish the season undefeated.

They Can’t Beat The Big Boys. Or Can They?

(http://www.bendbulletin.com/slideShows?layout=2&storyId=1430295)

(http://www.bendbulletin.com/slideShows?layout=2&storyId=1430295)

There is a common theme with all these undefeated small schools. Utah, TCU and Boise State were almost always involved. Utah has had two undefeated seasons in the past 13 seasons and accomplished both of their undefeated seasons in the Mountain West Conference. The Utes ended up leaving for the Pac-12 because it is a power five conference. TCU finished with their only undefeated season in the Mountain West as well, but left for the Big 12, a power five conference. They left because of the disrespect year in and year out towards the Mountain West Conference. The last of these three teams, Boise State, has had three undefeated regular seasons in their last 11 seasons.

Typically a program this consistent would have played in a national championship, but Boise has yet to play for one. There is a bias against teams not in the power five and Western Michigan is the snub this season. The most common response from someone who argues that these teams don’t deserve the shot because of their small conferences has one of two responses.

The first is “let’s see if they do this again next year and next year if they are undefeated they should be in.” There are two problems with that reaction and the first is the team that is undefeated this year is a completely different team than they will be the next year. The second issue is that statement has proven to be false because Boise State had three undefeated regular seasons in four years and never got the chance.

(http://www.nobodywinsontheblue.com/2013/08/2013-boise-state-football-preview.html)

(http://www.nobodywinsontheblue.com/2013/08/2013-boise-state-football-preview.html)

Another common response is “Oh they would get blown out by Alabama and other big schools”. That statement is once again false as there are countless examples of smalls schools upsetting the goliath schools. Above there were examples listed, including Utah beating Alabama, and here are some more: In 2010 FCS member Jacksonville State beat Ole Miss 49-48, FCS James Madison won at (13) Virginia Tech 21-16 and perhaps the biggest upset of all time, 2007 Appalachian State beat (5) Michigan 34-32.

All these small schools pulled off what many believed to be impossible but the game is played on the field and not on paper, or by the amount of stars a recruiting class has. Western Michigan might be able to beat Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State but everyone assumes they have no chance because of history. Yes, these programs have been national powers for decades but that doesn’t mean the little guy can’t hang, or win. An eight team playoff needs to be made with certain requirements similar to the ramifications in college basketball. These requirements are needed because of the mistakes made since the inception of the four team playoff.

Playoff Mistakes

The college football playoff started in 2014 and is only entering their third year. In 2014, college football fans were so happy to finally receive the playoff system that they had been so desperately asking for for almost a decade. Fans were so happy in fact, there was no chance it would be criticized in the first year, but they had set precedents in which would eventually make the committee look like hypocrites.

(http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2014/12/02/college-football-playoff-projection-alabama-oregon-florida-state-tcu/19748763/)

(www.reddit.com)

In 2014, heading into conference championship week the rankings were as follows: (1) Alabama 11-1, (2) Oregon 11-1, (3) TCU 11-1, (4) Florida State 12-0, (5) Ohio State 11-1, and (6) Baylor 11-1. All six teams had won their game on championship week by wide margins. The final college football rankings finished with TCU dropping to sixth and Ohio State finishing in fourth, thus knocking TCU out of the college football playoff. The reasoning given by the committee stated that TCU did not win their conference therefore Ohio State deserved to be in. TCU and Baylor were both 8-1 in conference play, but Baylor beat TCU head to head 61-58.

Fast forward to this year where the playoff committee selected Ohio State over Penn State. Ohio State had one loss on the year to Penn State. Penn State had two losses to Pittsburgh and Michigan. Two years earlier the playoff committee favored Ohio State because they won a conference championship and yet this year left Penn State out who won head to head versus Ohio State, won the division in the BIG 10 in which Ohio State is in, and won the BIG 10 Championship. The college football committee that said conference championships matter two years earlier ignored that Ohio State didn’t win their conference.

Essentially the committee is saying head to head wins mean nothing, nor do conference titles after this year’s playoff selection. Subliminally they are saying whoever can bring in the most revenue will make the playoffs if they have a good year. If revenue matters that much then push it to an eight team playoff to create even more dollars.

In the first year, the college football playoff paid out 500 billion dollars to schools which was the largest payout ever, which improved in areas of 200 million from the final BCS season. In total there was a 63 percent increase in postseason revenue. Doubling the amount of teams in the playoff could essentially double the amount of money to be made with extra games of importance.

 

What Should an 8 Team Playoff Look Like?

(AP Images)

(AP Images)

If and when college football goes to an eight team playoff, there needs to be a few rules on who can make the playoffs. In the current system a conference championship means nothing and part of what has made college football great for the past 100 years is the thrill of winning the conference. In basketball, winning your conference give you an automatic bid to the tournament. Football should follow that model to an extent. There are 10 conferences plus four independent schools so with a six team playoff not everyone can automatically get a bid. Here is how college football should handle the eight team playoff that would make everyone happy.

If you win the conference championship of a power five conference (BIG 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, ACC) you are guaranteed a spot in the eight team playoff. To accommodate for small schools and give them the chance they have earned, the sixth spot goes to the highest ranked team from the group of five conferences (AAC, Conference-USA, MAC, Sun-Belt, Mountain West). There would be two spots remaining and those spots should be At-Large bids given to the best two teams remaining in the country. This is what this year’s eight team playoff would look like in this format:

(1) SEC Champion: Alabama vs. (8) Group of 5: Western Michigan

(2) ACC Champion: Clemson vs. (7) Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma

(3) At-Large Bid: Ohio State vs. (6) At-Large Bid: Michigan

(4) Pac-12 Champion: Washington vs. (5) BIG 10 Champion: Penn State

(David Dermer / Associated Press)

(David Dermer / Associated Press)

This college football playoff would have the perfect amount of teams. Aside from the two At-Large bids, nobody can argue the selection of the other six teams. There will always be that argument of bubble teams and who is the most deserving bubble team. In this format some people would be mad that USC isn’t in because of how hot they were towards the end of the year. The simple solution is to tell USC, if you win your conference and you’ll be in.

 

This format doesn’t require a team to go undefeated. An early loss in the season would allow you a second chance to bounce back and win the conference. That can’t be said now. Penn State and Oklahoma won their conference and don’t get a shot to be the national champion. Western Michigan is told good job on going undefeated but your conference is weak, and so is you’re schedule so just take this Cotton Bowl bid. The four team format was a great start, but this eight team format would be the perfect way to crown a champion.

NCAA Football Week One Picks

Rob Doerger and Joe DiTullio (Staff writers and personalities on the DiTullio and Doerger College Sports Show), pick every game in the week one slate for FBS.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Presbyterian College Central Michigan Kelly/Shorts Stadium, Mount Pleasant, MI C. Mich CMU
Charlotte #19 Louisville Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY Louisville Louisville
Tulane Wake Forest BB&T Field, Winston-salem, NC Wake Wake
Tennessee-Martin Cincinnati Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH Cincy Cincy
Maine Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT Uconn Uconn
William & Mary NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC NC State NC State
Indiana Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL Indiana IU
Appalachian State #9 Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN Tennessee Tennessee
South Carolina Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Vandy Vanderbilt
Southern Utah Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
Weber State Utah State Romney Stadium, Logan, UT Utah St Utah State
Rice Western Kentucky L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green, KY WKU Wku
Oregon State Minnesota TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN Minnesota Minnesota
South Dakota New Mexico University Stadium , Albuquerque, NM New Mexico UNM
Montana State Idaho Kibbie Dome, Moscow, ID Idaho Idaho
Jackson State UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV UNLV UNLV
Mississippi Valley State Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI E. Mich EMU
Ball State Georgia State Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA Georgia St Ga State
Albany Buffalo UB Stadium, Buffalo, NY Buffalo Buffalo
Colgate Syracuse Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY Syracuse Syracuse
Army Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Temple Temple
Furman #12 Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Sparty MSU
Northwestern State #23 Baylor McLane Stadium, Waco, TX Baylor Baylor
Colorado State Colorado Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO Colorado Colorado
Kansas State #8 Stanford Stanford Stadium, Stanford, CA Stanford Stanford
Toledo Arkansas State Centennial Bank Stadium, Jonesboro, AR Toledo Toledo
Cal Poly Nevada Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV Nevada Nevada
Georgia Tech Boston College Aviva Stadium, Dublin GT GT
#3 Oklahoma #15 Houston NRG Stadium, Houston, TX Oklahoma Oklahoma
Fordham Navy Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD Navy Navy
Eastern Kentucky Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Purdue Purdue
Bowling Green #6 Ohio State Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH Ohio St OSU
Western Michigan Northwestern Ryan Field, Evanston, IL NW NW
Hawaii #7 Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Mich
Margin of Victory 44 39
Boise State Louisiana Lafayette Cajun Field, Lafayette, LA Boise Boise
South Alabama Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss St Miss St
Missouri West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
Howard Maryland Maryland Stadium, College Park, MD Maryland Maryland
Liberty Virginia Tech Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA VT Va Tech
Villanova Pittsburgh Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA Pitt Pitt
Abilene Christian Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
Rutgers #14 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Wash
#16 UCLA Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX UCLA TAMU
#5 LSU Wisconsin Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI LSU LSU
Richmond Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA Virginia Virginia
Kent State Penn State Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA Ped St Penn State
Miami (OH) #17 Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA Iowa Iowa
Texas State Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Murray State Illinois Memorial Stadium , Champaign, IL Illini Illinois
Southeastern Louisiana #21 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK OK St OK St
Louisiana Tech Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Arkansas Ark
UC Davis #24 Oregon Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR Ducks Oregon
#18 Georgia #22 North Carolina Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA Georgia Georgia
Southern Illinois Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL Salukis FAU
Hampton Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
North Carolina Central Duke Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC Duke Duke
Western Carolina East Carolina Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville, NC ECU ECU
Florida A&M Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Miami Miami
Savannah State Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA Geo South Geo South
Austin Peay Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
VMI Akron InfoCision Stadium, Akron, OH Akron Akron
Alabama A&M Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU MTSU
SMU North Texas Mean Green Stadium, Denton, TX SMU SMU
San José State Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Tulsa Tulsa
Towson South Florida Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL USF USF
South Carolina State UCF Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL UCF UCF
Rhode Island Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Kansas Kansas
Southeast Missouri State Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN Memphis Memphis
Alabama State Texas San Antonio Alamodome, San Antonio, TX UTSA UTSA
Southern Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA ULM ULM
Southern Mississippi Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky UK
Massachusetts #25 Florida Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL Gators Florida
#20 USC #1 Alabama AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Tide Bama
Northern Iowa Iowa State Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA Iowa St Iowa State
Fresno State Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska Nebraska
Eastern Washington Washington State Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wash St
New Mexico State UTEP Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX UTEP Utep
South Dakota State #13 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
Stephen F Austin Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX TT Ttu
New Hampshire San Diego State Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA SDSU SDSU
#2 Clemson Auburn Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AL Clemson Clemson
BYU Arizona University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ Arizona BYU
Northern Illinois Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY NIU NIU
Northern Arizona Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona St ASU
#10 Notre Dame Texas Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX Irish ND
#11 Ole Miss #4 Florida State Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL FSU Ole Miss
Gameday Guest Picker (Green Bay, WI) Aaron Rodgers Jared Abbrederis

Five Non-Power Five Teams to Watch for this Season

Everyone loves an underdog story, a David slaying a Goliath. Yet, there’s few non-power 5 teams that make it to a prestigious bowl, even with a solid record. And it seems that every year, there is at least one team from a non-power five conference that dominates their schedule with one loss or no losses, wins their conference title, and enters an esteemed bowl game with more to prove than any number of District Attorneys.

Cutting to the chase, here are, in my opinion the top five non-power five teams in terms of what they bring to the table — excluding Notre Dame, who is normally the quality of a power five school.

5. Marshall (Conference USA)

non power 5 college football teams

Chase Litton comes out of a stellar freshman season to lead the charge for the Thundering Herd. Thanks to tbo.com for the photo.

Marshall lost a lot and kept a lot from a team that finished 10-3 with a win in the St. Petersburg Bowl last year. Sophomore quarterback Chase Litton, pictured above, comes off a season where he threw for 2,608 yards and 24 touchdowns. Marshall has been a pass-based offense as of late (no one rushed for 600 yards or more for them last year) and they have their gunslinger to continue the aerial attack.

The question is who he will throw the ball to.

Marshall lost their top two receivers in Devonta Allen and Deandre Reaves, who reeled in 715 and 705 yards worth of catches, respectively.

Of course, those two don’t compare to the graduation of stud linebacker Evan McKelvey, who led the team with 121 tackles and was second with 9.0 tackles for loss. Also gone defensively is third leading tackler and starting safety Taj Letman (80 of them) who intercepted three passes. And the starter next to Letman and second leading tackler last year Tiquan Lang (91) faces a possible suspension after being arrested in late April.

Seems like quite a bit to overcome, doesn’t it? Until you hear that four of five starting offensive linemen for Marshall are returning from last year, and the one that isn’t a returning starter missed last year with injury and was first-team all-conference in 2014, Clint Van Horn. Litton will have a lot of time to find an open man.

And on defense stud defensive end Gary Thompson is back, who led the team in two categories defensively in 2015: sacks with 9.0 and tackles for loss with 12.5. At cornerback returning is Corey Tindal, who defended thirteen passes and intercepted two more.

In the end, Marshall needs contributors from two position groups to step forward: receivers and linebackers. Two starters are gone from both groups. The receiving corps gets some help from returning 400 yard receiving tight end Ryan Yurachek, but will need wideout production from a group that contains no one ever to have a season of at least 350 at that specific position. Justin Hunt, who has progressed steadily each year at Marshall and enters as a senior in 2016, and converted former tight end Deon-Tay McManus could look to try and get some production. And at linebacker the names appear to be Devontre’a Tyler and Shawn Petty.

My prediction: Marshall gets cake games against Morgan State and Akron, then wins one of their two tougher non-conferences either against Louisville or at Pitt. I see them tripping up against Western Kentucky and missing out on the conference championship, coming out mad in their bowl game and finishing 11-2 with a win in the New Mexico Bowl.

4. Appalachian State (Sun Belt)

non power 5 college football teams

The Mountaineers return the talent to climb to the top of the Sun Belt conference. Photo courtesy of 247sports.com.

Appalachian State used a balanced offensive attack and solid defense to earn an 11-2 record and a victory in the Camellia Bowl with a Sun Belt title. They bring back a lot of impact players from a team that was top-25 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

Those impact players include 2,300 yard passer Taylor Lamb, 1,400 yard rusher Marcus Cox, three starting offensive linemen, their top two tacklers on defense Eric Boggs and John Law with 104 and 72 tackles last year, respectively, and interception leader Latrell Gibbs who picked off seven passes — returning two of them for touchdowns.

Wow.

The only detrimental loss seems to be stud defensive end Ronald Blair, who led the team in TFLs and sacks while coming in third for total tackles.

One spot of bother for the Mountaineers could be the tough opening to their schedule, they head to Tennessee in the opening week and then have to host Miami (FL) following their week two match-up with Old Dominion. Get out of those two brawls healthy, and it could turn into another ten win season with a bowl win for the Mountaineers.

My prediction: Someone important goes down in either the Tennessee or Miami game, and Appalachian State drops one during their conference play. They manage to get out with title in the Sun Belt though, or at least a share of one, as no team runs the table in the conference. The finish is 9-4, the aforementioned Sun Belt title, and a loss in the New Orleans Bowl.

3. Western Kentucky (Conference USA)

non power 5 college football teams

Taywan Taylor is the featured player in this year’s Western Kentucky attack. Photo courtesy of youtube.com.

Losing a 5,000 yard passer (that number led the nation) is never going to be easy. But when you have two receivers who were both over 950 yards last season back, one of which is 1,400 yard man Taywan Taylor, it makes the adaptation for your knew starter a bit less demanding. That replacement will likely be one of three players: Junior USF transfer Mike White, who threw for 1,639 yards and 8 touchdowns with the Bulls last year, senior Nelson Fishback, who has attempted 8 passes in his Hilltopper career, or senior Louisville transfer Tyler Ferguson.

The rushing attack will have no issue complementing whomever is under center, however. Anthony Wales returns off a 1,000 yard season, behind an offensive line totalling 130 combined starts of experience. That line includes first-team all-conference left tackle Forrest Lamp. New O-line coach Dale Williams has been given the keys to a Porsche and told not to crash it.

A mid-tier defense last year for Western Kentucky will look to improve for this season, as they return leading tackler and backfield plug in linebacker T.J. McCollum (106 tackles, 12.0 TFLs) and second leading tackler Branden Leston (96). Top defensive lineman Derik Overstreet also returns.

But if that defense wants to make the necessary jump, and in turn bring this team from a conference leader to potential contender for a New Year’s Six bowl, they will need a boost in the secondary, specifically at corner. Both starters are gone, including the only player with more than three interceptions for that Hilltopper defensive backfield in Prince Iworah.

The most experienced pair are juniors Joe Brown and De’andre Simmons. Both intercepted one pass last year, and Brown may have asserted his role as the primary cornerback with 9 PBUs. Both will have assistance from senior safeties, the aforementioned Branden Leston and Marcus Ward. The pair combine for 291 tackles and four interceptions on their respective careers.

My prediction: In the end, I think it could really come together for the Hilltoppers, one of three teams on this list (the top three, of couse) that I think finishes ranked nationally. They open with a win over Florida International before falling by no more than 20 to Alabama, a moral victory that will allow them to run the table… including wins over Vanderbilt, Marshall, Louisiana Tech, their opponent in the Conference USA title game, and their opponent in the Boca Raton bowl.

That’s 13-1, for those of you counting at home.

2. San Diego State (Mountain West Conference)

non power 5 college football teams

The Aztecs’ defense makes them a force to be reckoned with in 2016. Photo form sandiegouniontribune.com.

San Diego State is going to defend their conference title from 2015.

Literally.

The biggest loss from a defense that was top ten nationally last year in scoring is fifth leading tackler Jake Fely (75, 8.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks). They return stud linebacker Calvin Munson, who led the team in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks (98, 15.0, 10.5). Damontae Kazee (pictured above), returns and brings 8 interceptions with him. Defensive end Kyle Kelley, who had 7.5 sacks last year, will lead the defensive line. They return third leading tackler and second leading interceptor safety Malik Smith. And they return the centerpiece of their 3-3-5 defense, all-conference nose guard Alex Barrett. In other words, the offense won’t have to score all that much.

But they bring back the firepower to score a lot.

Sure they lost their leading passer. But when that quarterback barely cleared 1,500 yards, it doesn’t matter that much. Why? Because San Diego State is a running offense. And you know what they do return? A rusher of 1,653 yards and 17 touchdowns named Donnel Pumphrey. He runs behind three returning starters on his line, including all-conference offensive guard Nico Siragusa.

Needless to say, the Aztecs look incredible entering this season.

My prediction: SDSU upsets Cal early in the season and goes on a rampage. It is tough to go undefeated, but easier with a Mountain West schedule. They do it, win the conference title game, and head to the Cotton Bowl as the “group of five” representative. From there I can’t tell, depends on who faces them there.

So either 14-0 or 13-1 is what I predict dependant on who they play in that bowl game.

1. Houston (American Athletic)

non power 5 college football teams

Second-year coach Tom Herman looks to repeat the success of 2015. Photo from al.com.

Notice I put above that I believe San Diego State becomes the “group of five” representative that receives a berth into the Cotton Bowl. I think Houston is the better team, but they run into Oklahoma week one… a game I don’t see them winning. Hence, number one team but not the number one finish.

Why is Houston the number one team? They come off a Peach Bowl win and return their star player, leading passer and rusher (he and Deshaun Watson are the only two quarterbacks ever to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000) Greg Ward. While his favorite target in Demarcus Ayers left early for the NFL, man number, two Chance Allen, does return off a season of over 750 yards. The ground game will have to replace second leading rusher and top running back Kenneth Farrow, which they were looking to do with junior Javin Webb.

Until he was dismissed from the team in February.

With that and the graduation of Ryan Jackson, Houston has lost its next three rushers after Ward. No other running back posted even 100 yards last season, the only one even to gain positive yardage being upcoming sophomore Kaliq Kokuma, who ran 18 times for 92 yards. He should compete with fellow sophomore Tyreik Gray.

At the very least they do have four returning starters up front to pave the way for the inexperienced backs.

Flipping the coin to the defensive side, Houston’s 3-4 defense returns all-conference nose guard B.J. Singleton, backed by linebacker Steven Taylor who had 92 tackles with 18.5 TFLs and 10.0 sacks.

Houston should be able to cope fine with the loss of their leading takedown getter Elandon Roberts, as Taylor returns with fellow linebackers Tyus Bowser (35 games experience) and Matthew Adams (49 tackles in 2015). The real worry is the departures at safety, where the Cougars lost both starters in 2016. That includes Adrian Mcdonald, who intercepted 17 passes in a career that also included 299 tackles. The most senior player remaining is junior Khalil Williams, who registered 18 tackles and intercepted a pass last year.

The rest are a group of inexperienced sophomores including Garrett Davis, Michael Eke, and Darius Gilbert. One of them needs to fill some shoes.

As said at the beginning, Houston loses week one in a moderately close bout with Oklahoma, but wins out and goes to dominate the conference championship game and a dominating win in either the Hawaii Bowl or Armed Forces Bowl.

 

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The College Football Playoff Should Expand to Six Teams

Overall, these two years of playoffs in college football have gone tremendously. Ratings have been through the roof, especially in the first year. The championship has never felt more undisputed, and the story-lines of “3rd-string quarterback” or “return to the throne” could not have been scripted with any more perfection.

But to be frank it’s a travesty to watch a playoff that is supposed to be all-decisive not include at least one team that was the winner of one of the best conferences. And when you have five conferences that are slated as the “best conferences” (that’s the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC, of course) at least one champion gets left out, which sucks when sometimes they only have one or two losses. I specifically reference a greatly talented one-loss Big 12 champion TCU or Baylor team in 2014.

Throw in your possible non-power five busters, potential deserving conference runner-ups, or Notre Dame, and we’re talking about two power five conference champions not in the hunt for what is supposed to be an all-determining playoff.

Is what we have way better than any two-team championship game system or poll determinant? Yes. But leaping over the hurdle of making a playoff isn’t good enough. Why not go all-in on making the champion truly undisputed? It’s as if a vegetarian came off a 144-year diet of not having the best that food has to offer, but then after doing the hard part and enjoying a Big Mac he says, “Oh no, I can’t get into that five-star quality sirloin.” Just cut into that perfect bit of delectable cow now that you finally will eat something from the four-legged milk producer, college football.

Three other big reasons why the College Football Playoff should be six teams:

  1. Seeding will matter. Did Alabama in 2014 honestly say “YES! We got Ohio State instead of Florida State!”? I highly doubt it. In a six-team playoff, seeds number one and two get first-round byes, adding a bit of intrigue to selection day.
  2. Everyone loves an underdog. Who wouldn’t love to see a team like Western Kentucky go on an undefeated run? Better yet, that team could go beat an Oklahoma or a Clemson. With six teams, those normally mid and lower-tier teams have more of a chance to get in.
  3. Mo’ money. Simple addition kids, two more games equals two more chances at high ratings. Everyone loves a payday. The schools, the NCAA, the TV networks, everyone.

The counterpoint is somewhat supporting evidence of reason three above: two more games equals two more times for players getting hurt, two more sets of travel costs for families and students, and two more times players can’t get their academics as up-to-date as they could. I honestly cannot deny these negatives, but I think the pros of expansion far outweigh the cons.

As far as going to eight teams opposed to the six I suggest, I think four extra games does cause enough con to outweigh pro. Why? Because plain and simple, I think there are plenty of years teams ranked five or six could make a case for being the number one team in the country. But there are very few years number seven or eight could make the same claim.

Look at the teams ranked number seven and eight in the final regular season AP poll over the past seven years. They average 1.6 losses at they end of the regular season, going a combined 7-7 in the following bowl games (polls and records from sports-reference.com). Eventual 2014 champion Ohio State trounced seventh ranked Michigan State during the season. Furthermore, number eight Mississippi State wouldn’t have stood much of a chance against OSU either. In 2013 I doubt Ohio State or South Carolina would have had a shot against Florida State. And in 2012 Kansas State or Stanford against Alabama? Forget about it.

So to me, six is the perfect number for a playoff in college football. No more, no less.

 

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SEC 2016-2017 Preview

After an entertaining SEC Media Week, I am doing a quick preview of one of the strongest conferences in the land.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

SEC Player of the Year: LSU’s Running Back Leonard Fournette

For me it is a two horse race for the POTY for the SEC. It will be either be LSU’s running back Leonard Fournette or Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly. I think I am leaning closer to Fournette. He is just one of the unicorns of College Football. He is so powerful and so strong, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He does it all for the Tigers on the offensive side of the ball.

Last year, Fournette accounted for the 45% of the offensive touchdowns, which lead the nation. I think Fournette will comeback this season on mission to prove he should have been in New York last year. Fournette will easily have 2000+ yards on the ground and about 300+ yards receiving. With dual threat quarterback Brandon Harris improving from last year to spring ball and throughout the summer it will make the defense have to defend more than Fournette.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

SEC East Champion: Tennessee Volunteers

The SEC East is pretty much Tennessee’s to lose. The Vols are really only competing with Georgia and Florida for the crown in the East and that is not saying too much. This is because of all the turnover that UGA will have this year. And because Florida will have to play a new quarterback since former starting quarterback Will Grier is no longer there. Second year Coach McElwain has a great core of receivers for whoever the quarterback is but, I would not count on a new starter to take any team to Atlanta for a SEC Championship Game.

Tennessee is just the strongest team in one of the weakest divisions in College Football. South Carolina has a new coach, and possibly a new quarterback that has never played a down of college football.  Vanderbilt is still climbing out of the basement of the SEC, but they do return a good defense. I think this year will be the year we look at as Vandy’s take off year. They will probably still miss a bowl game but the nation will know that Vandy is finally playing football again.

Do you see where I am going with this? Tennessee is the only logical choice to win the division. They have one of the best backfields in the league with quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd. On the defensive side they return seven starters from their stalwart defense of a year ago. Tennessee should run away with the East crown, but it is the SEC East. Anything can and will happen.

Courtesy of AP

Courtesy of AP

SEC West Champion: LSU Tigers

On this side of the conference, we have one of the strongest division in College Football. My big favorites for the West are LSU, Bama and Ole Miss. All of those teams have great reasons why they can win the Division.

LSU with their tandem of Brandon Harris and one of the greatest running backs in school history, Leonard Fournette. Alabama still has Nick Saban, so it does not matter who their quarterback is because most of their quarterbacks are just game managers anyways. Ole Miss has the best quarterback in the conference with Chad Kelly. He is also the only quarterback in the conference with a win against the reigning National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

I think the division will be decided on Novemeber 5th when Alabama comes to LSU to play them under the lights of Death Valley. Whoever wins that game most likely wins the division. I think it will be LSU. We all should know that Saban has not found a way to stop a true dual threat quarterback. Until he shows that he can I will always pick the dual threat quarterback against Coach Saban. And LSU also plays Ole Miss at home this year but, they play Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road this year. Both teams look to be very dangerous this year and could spoil some teams National Championship aspirations.

SEC Champion: LSU Tigers

Les Miles has to do this year. After everything that has happened this summer in Baton Rouge, that area needs something to bring them together. Just like how Clemson did something wonderful for the state of South Carolina after the summer they had last year. Not only that, but, Les Miles need this to get the LSU fans off of his back. Last year they wanted him fired and a SEC Championship will be a great rebuttal to those fans. Miles has a great team coming into this season and he needs to strike now before they miss their opportunity with Brandon Harris and Leonard Fournette.

 

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Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College Quarterbacks: #1 Deshaun Watson

This is the end of my Top Ten Returning Quarterback List and our number one quarterback is…

Courtesy of The Sports Bank

Courtesy of The Sports Bank

#1 Clemson University’s Deshaun Watson- The most electrifying quarterback in all of college football on one of the most polarizing teams in the nation right now. Through his first two years as a starter, he has only lost two games. And those two opponents (2014 FSU and 2015 Alabama) won the National Championship. Each also had a player who won the Heisman. This year as a starter, Deshaun Watson gained over 5000 yards in the air and on the ground.

He threw for 4104 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. On the ground, he ran for 1105 yards and ran the ball into the endzone for 12 touchdowns. He is a true dual quarterback. He will kill a defense with his arm and his legs. He makes the defense sweat every snap because they know they have to play their best or they can get torched. Let’s good back as I relive some of my favorite Watson games from the 2015 season.

Let’s start with his matchup against NC State on the road. Deshaun lit the Wolfpack defense up the whole game. He passed for a regular season high of 383 yards on 76.7 % passing, threw for five touchdowns, no interceptions, and he also had 54 yards on the ground with one rushing score. The Tigers won the game 56-41. Watson also had his best passer rating of the season against NC State, 238.9. Just another ACC win under his belt. But the next game, I discuss is going to be against a SEC road team.

This game is very dear to my heart since I live in the great state of South Carolina. Every Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Clemson Tigers play the South Carolina Gamecocks. It is even more complicated because I am student at South Carolina, but I am a Clemson fan and I sat in the South Carolina student section. You can say I was in enemy territory. Coming into this game, I thought Clemson would run all over the Gamecocks this year but I was wrong.

The game was actually close. The final score was 37-32. Deshaun Watson ripped the Gamecock defense up for the second time is as many games. He went 20-27 on his passes, threw for 279 yards and one passing touchdown. He did most of his scoring on the ground. He scored three touchdowns and he rushed for 114 yards on the ground. For fans like me, I am glad we have another firm imprint on this rivalry.

Ronald Martinez/ Getty images

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Deshaun Watson played one of his biggest games on the biggest stage, the National Championship game against Alabama. Even though, the Tigers did not win the game Deshaun Watson tore up the Alabama defense. After the game, Bama coach Nick Saban said he needed the onside kick basically because his defense could not stop Watson.

Many quarterbacks cannot breakdown a Nick Saban defense like he did in Arizona. He threw for a career high 405 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He also picked up 73 yards on the ground and had an adjusted QBR of 93 in the championship game. Watson played his best game of the season when it mattered most and that is all a team and a fanbase can ask for from their quarterback. This game, despite the loss, launched Watson 2016 Heisman candidacy.

Watson and Clemson Tigers are poised to go back to the National Championship in 2016 season. They are almost a lock for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff, but their whole season is depended on how far Watson will take the Tigers. Watson, individually, can win every single offensive award possible for a quarterback, but all Watson wants is a win against South Carolina, an ACC championship win, and two straight College Football Playoff wins.

Terrance’s Other Top Ten Returning Quarterbacks

#10- DeShone Kizer

#9- Luke Falk

#8- Josh Rosen

#7- Greg Ward Jr.

#6- Brad Kaaya

#5- Joshua Dobbs

#4- Chad Kelly

#3- J.T. Barrett

#2- Baker Mayfield


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Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College QBs #4 Chad Kelly

And at #4 spot on my list is….

AP Photo/ Thomas Graning

AP Photo/ Thomas Graning

#4 University of Ole Miss’s Chad Kelly-  Kelly had his first season of football last year as a Junior. Kelly started his collegiate career at Clemson. Kelly didn’t play much as a freshman because he was behind one of the great Clemson Quarterbacks, Tajh Boyd and he sat out his sophomore year due to transfer rules. He found his future home at Ole Miss. The 6’2″ QB did well in his full first season as a starting Quarterback. He threw for 4024 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, while also rushed for 500 yards and had 10 touchdowns on the ground. Kelly led the Rebels to a 10-3 record including a bowl win against Oklahoma State, which was one of his best game of the season. Kelly came up big in many of the Rebels games this season.

On September 9th, the Rebels went down to Alabama for this SEC West showdown. The Rebels would win the game 43-37. The Ole Miss offense was hitting on all cylinders especially on Kelly’s miracle fling to Quincy Adeboyejo for 66 yards. For the game, Kelly threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns on the Alabama secondary. He also added 21 yards to the run game and one score on the ground. His passer rating was 171.3 and had an adjusted QBR of 95.8. This was Ole Miss’s first win at Bryant-Denny in about 25 years.

On November 7th, the Rebels had another SEC West showdown against Arkansas that had to be decided in overtime. The Rebels did not come out victorious, losing by a score of 53-52, but it was one of Kelly’s best games. He threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns, and also added 110 yards on the ground while finding the endzone three times using his feet. Kelly was hot, he completed over 70% of his passes, had a passer rating of 190.6, and a season high 98.3 QBR. Even though the team did not win, it showed how effective Chad Kelly could be if he is dialed into the game.

His last big game was against another SEC West bitter rival, Mississippi State. It was Senior Night, and their starting Quarterback, Dak Prescott wanted a win badly. Kelly and the Rebels out dueled Prescott and his Bulldogs. Ole Miss beat their rival 38-27. Kelly threw for 236 yards and had two passing touchdowns, while also having 74 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He had a 70% completion rate, 158.1 passer rating, and also had QBR of 94.2. Out of 13 games Kelly only threw for under 300 yards five times and threw for over 350 four times.

Next year’s Ole Miss team has the potential to be even better. Though, Kelly will be missing his one of his favorite receivers, Laquon Treadwell, and his left tackle Laremy Tunsil, he still should have great success. He should have another 4000 passing yard season and hopefully less interceptions than his junior year. Kelly has the potential to be a Heisman candidate and one of the first Quarterbacks taken in next year’s NFL Draft.

Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College QBs #5 Joshua Dobbs

And at the number #5 spot on my list is…

Courtesy of Saturday Down South

Courtesy of Saturday Down South

#5 University of Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs- The 6’3″ senior QB will be returning to Knoxville to quarterback the Vols for the third year in a row. Dobbs is coming off a very good 2015 campaign. He’s not your typical starting college QB, he is studying aerospace engineering at Knoxville so he must be a dedicated student while also being a dedicated athlete. The University needs a student athlete like Dobbs right now because he could be one of Tennessee’s shining star to distract from some of the issues going on at Tennessee. He led the Vols to their best season since 2007, with a 9-4 record. Dobbs has steadily improved in his first three years at Rocky Top. He is now one of the feared dual threat QBs in the nation. He threw for 2291 yards through the air and rushed for 671 yards. He passed for 15 touchdowns and only threw 5 interceptions and he also ran the ball into the endzone 11 times. During his junior year, Joshua Dobbs had some very impressive games for Rocky Top Nation.

On October 10, the Vols were facing the Georgia Bulldogs. Coming into this game the Vols had just dropped their first two SEC games by a combined margin of 5 points so the Volunteers needed a W in the baddest way. To start the game it looked like Tennessee wanted no part of the Georgia Bulldogs. Late in the second half, Tennessee was trailing 24-3 and from that point Tennessee never looked back. They ended the game on 35-7 run, including 28 unanswered points, and won the game 38-31. Dobb threw the a career high 312 yards passing add 118 yards on the ground. He had a season high in yards from scrimmage. He scored three times through the air and twice on the ground. He accounted for all of Tennessee touchdowns against Georgia that day. Dobb led his team to the third biggest comeback in school history. The biggest one since the 1991 game against Notre Dame. Also on this day Dobbs did something that only one other person in Tennessee history had ever done. He passed for over 300 yards and over 100 yards rushing. The other guy to do it? Joshua Dobbs in 2014 against South Carolina.

On October 31, he returned to the field after suffering a close loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide on the road, 19-14. Their opponent on this Saturday was the Kentucky Wildcats and once again the Vols were looking to get the bitter taste of defeat out of their mouth. Tennessee went to Kentucky and exercised their demons. The Vols would win the game 52-21. He threw for 233 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for 51 yards and scored twice using his feet. The most important stat for this game for Dobbs was that he had a QBR of 94, but this was not his season high. He would get his season high against Vandy on the 28th of November.

In the last home game of the season, the Vols played in-state rival Vanderbilt and Dobbs put on a show. They beat Vandy 53-28. Dobbs threw for 170 yards two touchdowns and he also rushed for 93 yards and had one rushing touchdown. But the biggest stat was his QBR. Dobbs had a season high QBR of 94.8 during his last game of 2016.

Going into the 2016 season the Vols and Dobbs have a chance to do something really special. They have an experienced backfield anchored by Dobbs and RB Jalen Hurd. If Dobbs continues to improve coming into the 2016 season, he and his team will be some shiny hardware back to Knoxville.

Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College QBs #10: DeShone Kizer

College football is coming and it is coming soon. We are almost less than three months away from the season opening game between California and Hawaii, which will be played in Australia. And since it is so close to the college football season let’s make a top ten list of the best returning quarterbacks in the nation.

And at number 10 on my list we have…

Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images

#10- Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer- At 6’4″, 230 pounds, DeShone Kizer is the only quarterback featured on my list that is in a quarterback competition. He will have to beat out Malik Zaire for the starting quarterback spot but I believe he will be the week one starter over Zaire. That is the only reason why he is only 10 on my list. If he was not in a quarterback competition he might be multiple spots higher on my list. Kizer’s ability to make pass through the air and on the ground is why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. And with his amazing talent comes, a kid who shows great poise and decision making ability. When he took over for Zaire he took Notre Dame to an 8-3 record and helped them make a Fiesta Bowl appearance. He ended his 2015 campaign with 2884 passing yards, 21 passing touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. On the ground, he rushed for 520 yards and 10 touchdowns.

His top three games last year, in no particular order, were against Virginia, Clemson, and Temple. All of those games on the road. The Virginia game was the one that Kizer came off the bench to fill in for a hurt Zaire. On the last drive of the game, Kizer hooked up with wide receiver Will Fuller for a game-winning 40 yard touchdown pass. In the Clemson game, the Irish lost, but it was Kizer’s coming out party. On a night game in Death Valley, S.C., he threw for 321 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 for 34 passing. There were only two QB’s last year to throw for more than 300 yards and at least only one interceptions against Clemson’s great defense; he was one of them. The other was Jacob Coker of Alabama. Against a pretty good Temple defense he had his highest adjusted QBR, 92.2. Kizer is one of the of the best QB’s in the nation and at Temple he made the defense look bad. He threw for 299 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns. He can and will put his impact on every game he starts next year. If he starts all of the games, he will easily have Notre Dame in the mix for a College Football Playoff spot. And just maybe a trip to the Big Apple in early December.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

With DeShone Kizer at QB for the Irish, at the most I can only see the Irish losing two games. One being there October 15th bout against rival Stanford in South Bend and the other is their season finale against Southern Cal on November 26th. They will have a tough time with Texas in the season opener and Miami later in the season but I think they can pull out a win against both of those teams. I really see Notre Dame winning all but one regular season game and that will be because of the arm and feet of DeShone Kizer.

Number #9 QB

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