College basketball preseason top 25: 25-21

It is the end of October so that means college basketball is right around the corner. What teams should be looked at as the best of the best? Here are the first five teams in the top 25 rundown:

25. Texas A&M Aggies

College basketball preseason top 25

Robert Williams (photo by draftexpress.com)

The Aggies were unable to make the postseason last year, but have some solid players that will change that this season. They return four scorers who averaged over 10 points a game and have some players that could make it in the NBA. Texas A&M will be aided by the 27th best recruiting class in the country according to 247sports.com.

Billy Kennedy has one of the best frontcourts in the country. Forward Robert Williams flirted with leaving for the 2017 NBA Draft, but elected to come back to school. He will be able to improve on his 11.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this year. Tyler Davis is the leading returning scorer at his center position, averaging 14.7 points per game last season. Add in D.J. Hogg, a versatile forward who averaged 12 points per game last season and the Aggies are a force to be reckoned with in their frontcourt.

The backcourt is what will be the issue for this team. Admon Gilder will help provide a coring punch at the two guard, but the Aggies need a point guard. They had to redshirt J.J. Caldwell last season, but he is back now from injury. He has promise, but hasn’t played any games due to last season being his first on campus. If he doesn’t pan out, Texas A&M can turn to Duane Wilson, a graduate transfer from Marquette. He averaged over 11 points per game in his first two seasons as a Golden Eagle, but saw that limited to under five last season. At the very least he will provide some veteran leadership to a team that has just one other senior on the roster.

This team is talented and could even make a run in the NCAA Tournament if they get favorable matchups. They will need to continue to pound the ball inside and physically dominate opponents to win, but they are well equipped to do so.

24. Gonzaga Bulldogs

College basketball top 25

Johnathan Williams (photo by draftexpress.com)

Gonzaga is coming off of their first appearance in the Final Four last season and still have some solid players from that roster returning. They will need to rely on these players as they don’t have a good recruiting class coming in. The Bulldogs ranked 121 in the recruiting rankings by 247sports. Luckily they still have Mark Few at the helm.

Few has two very good forwards to go to this season. Johnathan Williams is one of the most versatile and athletic players in the country and is poised for a big senior season. He is the only returning player that averaged double digits in scoring last season. Kilian Tillie saw limited playing time last season, but was on the bench a lot because of the good players in front of him. He needs to step up for the Bulldogs this season. With Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski having moved on, the Bulldogs are extremely thin on the interior.

The guard spots will be solidified by two players who averaged over 20 minutes a game last season. Silas Melson will step into the shooting guard role and will succeed. He shot 39.9% from three point range last season. Josh Perkins will take over point guard duties after playing the two guard mostly the last two years. With Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Matthews not on the team any longer, Gonzaga will also be thinner at guard than they are most years.

This team is reliant on a lot of their young players to step up and help out the stars of Willams, Melson and Perkins, but Mark Few will get the job done, just as he always does.

23. Rhode Island Rams

College basketball preseason top 25

E.C. Matthews (photo by: draftexpress.com)

The Rams lost in the round of 32 last year and also lost Kuran Iverson and Hassan Martin after the season concluded. Those two players were key factors in their successful season last year, but the Rams will be just fine this season. They have 12 returning players, including four players who averaged more than 20 minutes a game.

Iverson and Martin were both frontcourt players so Rhode Island will need to find replacements for them. They have a junior college transfer in Ryan Preston will have to be a workhorse on the boards, as he only averaged 5.2 points per game at the JUCO level. The Rams’ biggest hope for good inside play rests in the hands of Cyril Langevine, who earned 13.2 minutes per game as a freshman. He is a good rebounder, but needs to stay out of foul trouble.

Rhode Island will be a guard-led team this season even more so than most years. The team is led by E.C. Matthews, who is one of the best seniors in the country. He averaged 14.2 points per game last year and will be asked to do much of the same this year. Jared Terrell. Stanford Robinson, Jarvis Garrett and Jeff Dowtin all got significant minutes last season and will help propel this team to the NCAA Tournament once again.

Dan Hurley’s squad doesn’t shoot the three very well, so they will need to get to the basket to be successful. With Hurley at the helm and Matthews back, the Rams should be able to win the Atlantic 10 and win a game or two in the NCAA Tournament.

22. Baylor Bears

College basketball preseason top 25

Manu Lecomte (photo by draftexpress.com)

Baylor lost their best player, Jonathan Motley to the NBA Draft. They would’ve been a highly ranked team with him, but still have some good players returning. Scott Drew will have this team contending in the Big 12, but they will likely fall short to a familiar foe once again.

In the frontcourt the Bears have Jo Lual-Acuil Jr who is seven feet tall and averaged 2.3 blocks per game last season. He had 35 starts and will start every game once again, but needs to score more points and grab more boards. Terry Maston and Nuni Omot are seniors who will have to take on bigger roles this season as well. Maston is an inside threat that can score in bunches, but is inconsistent, while Omot can stretch the floor a bit better and shoot from deep.

The Bears have a star in Manu Lecomte. The point guard from Belgium averaged 12.2 points and 3.8 assists per game. He will score more this season without Motley. He is also a big time playmaker. Jake Lindsey joins him in the backcourt and adds another good ball handler and three point shooter to the mix. King McClure, a good shooter, and Wendell Mitchell will backup Lecomte and Lindsay and fill in nicely.

This may not be a dream season for Baylor, but they will be solid and make their fifth straight NCAA Tournament.

21. Seton Hall Pirates

College basketball preseason top 25

Angel Delgado (Photo by zagsblog.com)

The Pirates have made the last two NCAA tournaments, but have yet to do much damage in them. This could be the year they break through. They are led by three really good seniors who will create a lot of matchup problems. They will have a top 50 recruiting class joining them this season.

Angel Delgado is one of the best players in the Big East and averaged a staggering 15.2 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. Not too many college athletes can handle him down low. Wing Desi Rodriguez can do a lot of things and averaged 15.7 points per game last season. Ismael Sanogo and Michael Nezi are great role players that mean more to the team than their numbers might indicate.

At guard Khadeen Carrington is a star senior. Las season he was the Pirates’ leading scorer averaging 17.1 points per game. He will be asked to play point guard, which is not his natural position. Myles Powell had a great freshman season averaging 10.7 points per game. The thought is that incoming freshman Jordan Walker will get limited minutes early, but could be the starting point guard by year’s end. At the very least he will provide some much needed depth for the backcourt.

Seton Hall has a veteran roster with multiple stars on it. They will advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament if they stay healthy and their incoming recruits provide good depth.

 

For teams 20-16: click here

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Most impactful transfers by position in college football 2017

The position that has the most transfers seemingly is quarterback. This leads a lot of lists of best transfers to focus on the quarterback position. While this list will cover the quarterback position, all offensive and defensive positions will also be covered. Here are the best transfers at each position:

QB: Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham has just been named the starting quarterback at Auburn for the 2017 season. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he got significant playing time at Baylor two seasons ago. He then went to junior college before deciding to attend Auburn,

At Baylor Stidham threw for 1,265 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in just ten games. He still has a lot to prove, but has some proven results. In his three games as a starter for the Bears he won two games, against Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and lost one, to Oklahoma.

Gus Malzahn has been looking for a quarterback ever since Nick Marshall graduated and Stidham may be the answer. Stidham will have a lot of talent around him and will be expected to lead the team to a good season in the difficult SEC West. The offense is built on running the ball, but he needs to complete passes in order to keep defenses honest.

RB: Chris James, Wisconsin

After spending some time in Pittsburgh, James has decided to follow in Paul Chryst’s footsteps and go to Wisconsin. He sat out last season and is ready to take on some of the heavy workload for Badger running backs.

In his two seasons as a Panther, James rushed for 690 yards on 4.8 yards per carry in limited action. He was stuck behind James Connor, one of Pitt’s best running backs of all time, for the majority of his time in Pittsburgh and never really had a chance to see too much action.

With an opening at running back this season, James will battle Bradrick Shaw for the starting job, but at Wisconsin a lot of running backs are fed the ball consistently. He will get touches and make some big plays for Wisconsin in the 2017 season.

WR: Jeff Badet, Oklahoma

Best college football transfers 2017

Jeff Badet (photo by nkytribune.com)

Badet was in a run heavy offense last season at Kentucky, but still had 670 yards and four touchdowns. His talent is unquestioned while his lack of production is explained by the system he was in and the quarterback play he had. He decided to leave Kentucky for a more pass-happy team in Oklahoma and did not have to sit out a year because he graduated.

He played three seasons for the Wildcats and has 1,385 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. Badet did the most with his opportunities in Lexington and used his time as a Wildcat to get a degree and to move up to a bigger college football program.

Baker Mayfield has to be happy that Badet is on the team. A lot of his offensive weapons are now in the NFL. Tight end Mark Andrews and Badet will most likely be Mayfield’s main targets this season. If Mayfield puts up numbers like he has the past two seasons, Badet will be a huge beneficiary.

OL: Aaron Cochran, Oklahoma State

Cal is having a tumultuous offseason, but Cochran leaving for Oklahoma State is not usually brought up as a reason why. He was also considering Auburn and Texas Tech, but the former Bear decided that being a Cowboy was the best thing for him.

Cochran started 16 games at Cal and provides some good experience. At 6’8″ 350 pounds Cochran is a mammoth of a lineman.He will now leave Pac-12 play to go to the Big 12.

The reason why Cochran’s transfer will be so impactful is that he will be protecting Mason Rudolph and clearing holes for Justice Hill. If he does so effectively the Cowboys could find themselves in the running in the College Football Playoff come the end of the season.

DL: Scott Pagano, Oregon

Pagano got a National Championship with the Clemson Tigers last season and got a degree. What a year for Pagano. He goes from being a rotational guy for the Tigers to a guy who will have to produce more for the Ducks. He saw the writing on the wall in terms of playing time at Clemson and decided to transfer out to finish his last year of eligibility.

In his limited playing time Pagano recorded 20 tackles, two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss for the champs. Those stats don’t seem like much, but Pagano was sitting behind a bunch of great defensive line athletes at Clemson that will be good at the next level.

Oregon desperately needed a guy like Pagano, who has experience playing on a great team. The defense has to improve over last year where they ranked 126th in scoring, 121st against the rush and 113rd against the pass. His main objective will be to help the Ducks limit opponents’ rushing yards.

LB: Dakota Allen, Texas Tech

College football top transfers 2017

Dakota Allen (Photo by scout.com)

Does Dakota Allen really count as a transfer? Technically yes. He was at Texas Tech, got kicked out and then went to East Mississippi Community College to play JUCO football for a year. After his season at the JUCO level he was granted a waiver to return to Lubbock.

As a freshman at Texas Tech he demonstrated great potential with 87 total tackles, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. Things looked bright for his career before he was convicted of burglary. He had an impressive season at EMCC and was featured on “Last Chance U”, where he showed the world how much he had changed.

Texas Tech needs all the talent they can get on their defense and they might need to improve to save coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job. They ranked 128th in scoring and gave up a whopping 43.5 points per game. That is an embarrassing number of points allowed, even if they do put up a lot of points themselves. Allen has already become a leader on the team and could be the key to improving the defense.

DB: T.J. Jallow, Purdue

Jallow is yet another player coming from “Last Chance U” at EMCC. Purdue got a great player that will start from day one. The Boilermakers were able to beat out the likes of Louisville and Kansas for Jallow’s services.

He spent two seasons at EMCC, but really proved himself this past season. Jallow recorded 43 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two fumbles recovered and seven pass break ups. He plays a physical style from his safety position, that should rub off on the rest of the team.

Purdue was solid against the pass last season, but has a spot open for Jallow to start at safety. If the pass defense can stay at a similar level and the run defense can improve, Purdue will be a much better team. If it all goes their way, they could go bowling for the first time since 2012 in Jeff Brohm’s first year as head coach. It may not be likely, but is possible.

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NCAA Tournament: Is South Carolina Winning a Fluke?

Is it a Fluke that South Carolina is Still Dancing?

Everyone is wondering how South Carolina made it to the Sweet 16. In fact, only five percent of brackets had them making it this far, and 2.1 percent of those people picked the Baylor-South Carolina matchup. Not many people expected them to get here. Honestly, this small percentage could just be loyal fans that picked them out of obligation.

In the first round, the Gamecocks defeated Marquette 93-73. In the second round they took care of Duke with a seven-point margin, beating the Blue Devils 88-81. Here are three reasons why it is not a fluke and how they’ll match up with Baylor.

1. Coach Frank Martin has done his Homework

Following the win on Sunday night Coach Frank Martin said he was impressed by his team’s fortitude.

“I am unbelievably proud of my guys and they have become mentally-tough as mentally-tough can be,” Martin said.

This team and their recent wins aren’t a byproduct of luck.

Coach Martin has put in his time. His philosophies on offense and defense have been developed over time. They were implemented at Kansas State University where he was Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2010 and have now carried over to South Carolina.

He preaches an early offense attack. This means that in order to have success in scoring, you have to run and run all the time, not just when you are up.

The other benefit of having a high-energy pace all the time, is that the defense has to foul in order to slow it down. As a result, the Gamecocks have shot 799 free throws this season and made 556 of them.

When asked about his defense, he commented on modeling it after past, legendary Duke teams. He knows that defense leads to his fast-paced offense. He stresses not letting the opposing team set up plays, because then you are already beat. Make the other team work for their points.

2. they are peaking at the right time

The Gamecocks finished off the regular season with back-to-back losses to Ole Miss and Alabama. They also went 4-6 on the last 10 games of the season. Now they are playing some of the best basketball that fans have seen all season.

Despite being down in the first half against Duke, the team rallied to score 65 points in the second half. South Carolina out rebounded the Blue Devils 37-34 and had 10 more shots overall. Duke turned over the ball 18 times while the Gamecocks limited themselves to 11 turnovers.

NCAA Tournament: Is South Carolina Winning a fluke?

P.J. Dozier brings the ball up the court for South Carolina (WLTX.com)

South Carolina wants it more. That was evident in their second half effort against Duke. Chris Silva scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half. Duane Notice also scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half. P.J. Dozier has also been giving good production for the Gamecocks and freshman Maik Kotsar struggled with Duke but added seven points against Marquette.

The Gamecocks are in fact playing some of the best defense in the country. As many coaches say, “defense propels the offensive end of the floor.”

Sindarius Thornwell has made this obvious as he scored 24 points in the second round against Duke while pulling down six rebounds. It’s the same story for Marquette as he scored 29 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and getting three steals.

If South Carolina can keep up the defensive prowess, than there isn’t any reason they can’t move on past Baylor.

3. Possible Home Court advantage

Anyone who says home-court advantage isn’t a factor, probably hasn’t played in a true home environment. Madison Square Garden is closer to South Carolina than Baylor and fan base is everything in a big game.

Let’s go back to Duke for example. The second round game was played in Greenville, South Carolina roughly two hours from the Gamecocks’ campus. In other words, it was practically a home game and that environment definitely didn’t help Duke.

South Carolina fans have every reason to be at this game. The program isn’t exactly known for its tournament history. Two years ago they didn’t make it to the NIT and last year they lost in the second round of the NIT. Coming into the weekend, South Carolina had not won a NCAA tournament game in 44 years.

Needless to say, South Carolina should have some serious backing in New York.

baylor matchup

Unfortunately South Carolina is a young team, as they have a lot of freshman. The past two games have proved that they can play on the big stage, but will the success continue for another game?

The Gamecocks have in fact taken it upon themselves to keep winning. Coach Martin told his players, “We are not responsible for the drought but we are responsible for this moment.”

His players can be the ones to keep making history.

This is compared to a Baylor team who has been in the spotlight all year long, and rightfully so. They have some very impressive guys but they have also had some scoring droughts.

Jake Trotter commented, “Superior talent allowed them to overcome such dry spells in their first two tournament games, but that won’t be easy moving forward.”

NCAA Tournament: Is South Carolina winning a fluke?

Johnathan Motley finishes a dunk for Baylor (Photo courtesy of Houston Chronicle)

Baylor’s lengthy zone can be intimidating and the combination of Johnathan Motley, Manu Lecomte and Jo-Laul Acuil Jr. is also reason for fear. However, South Carolina isn’t necessarily the underdog.

If Baylor can establish a good inside game to pair with their three-point shooting, they will be hard to stop. On the other hand, if Thornwell can have another game for himself with some help then South Carolina is equally as deadly.

Make sure you are watching 7:29pm ET on TBS to see all the action.

 

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Baylor and Kansas State: The Game You Need to Watch this Week

It is now March 7th and for college basketball fans, it’s like Christmas Eve. Fans all across the country are so excited anticipating the NCAA tournament, but there is one game in particular that should not be over looked. Kansas State and Baylor will go head-to-head on Thursday at 9pm ET in the Big 12 quarterfinal. Don’t miss it, I’ll tell you why.

past meetings

Kansas State has given the bears trouble all season. In their first meeting, the Wildcats had a two-point lead with ten minutes to go. However Baylor outscored them 32-21 from that point on. Another key factor was Johnathan Motley fouling out with 4:34 to go in the game, which definitely worked in the Wildcats’ favor. But not enough for the Wildcats to get the win.

In their second meeting Kansas State rallied to beat the Bears by two on their home home court in Waco, TX. They played some of the best first-half basketball that their coach had seen all year. The Wildcats shot 50% from the field and only had one turnover in the first 17:37 of the game. They held control for most of the game and outscored the Bears 26-22 in the paint.

The Bears tried to make a second half effort, and outscored Kansas State 32-19 in the second half. However when you put yourselves at a 15 point deficit at halftime, it’s hard to come back from that. Johnathan Motley also missed two shots towards the end to tie it.

What the bears have going for them

Baylor has quite a few names you want to know, if you don’t know them already. First Johnathan Motley who is averaging 17.5 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and it shooting 51.7% from the field. He has put on quite a show this season in big games. Most recently against West Virginia he put up 19 of his 23 points in the second half to get a nine point victory at home.

Next is Jo Laul-Acuil Jr. who is shooting 54.9% from the field which ranks fifth in the conference. He is a 7-0 junior averaging 9.2 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. But he is more than just statistics though. The kid knows how to play. In the Bears man defense, he parks it in the middle of the paint and deters anyone from getting too close to the hoop. On the offensive end, he has a nice touch around the rim to finish off any assists from Manu Lecomte.

Lecomte is former Miami Hurricane but he is doing big things for the Bears this year. As a junior he is averaging 4 assists per game (9th in the conference) as well as contributing 12.4 points per game. He also leads the team in overall assists with 115 and the senior Ishmail Wainright has a close 99. Both Lecomte and Wainright are great when it comes to distribution of the basketball.

As a team they have a big presence in the paint. Baylor leads the Big 12 as a team with 4.9 blocks per game and Jo Laul-Acuil Jr. single-handedly leads the Big 12 with 2.6 blocks per game. Their bread and butter is relying on defensive prowess to stop teams because they only average 75 points per game.

Kansas state has the right guys

The Wildcats are not short-staffed in any form. They have the right personnel to beat the Bears, and they have proven that in the regular season.

Wesley Iwundu looks to score (photo courtesy of collegian media group)

Wesley Iwundu is leading the way statistically averaging 12.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game. But he can’t be mentioned without talking about D.J. Johnson and Barry Brown.

These are two exceptional players that you notice right away while watching the Wildcats play. Johnson is shooting 60.9% from the field, leading the Big 12 and a senior who doesn’t want his career to be over. Most recently he scored 19 against Texas Tech to keep their hopes of the NCAA tournament alive.

Barry Brown is a 6-3 sophomore averaging 2.4 steals per game (second in the conference). He’s a crafty guy who scored 15 against Texas to pull out a big win mid-February after losing six out of seven straight.

Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes also are big factors to the Wildcats’ success, so keep an eye on them too. Stokes especially who is averaging 4.3 assists per game.

Wednesday night’s matchup

What you can take from all the statistics, is that each team has respectable numbers in their given categories. When comparing the Bears and Wildcats side by side, they are identical in team statistics.

Each team has won one in the regular season, but Kansas State really needs this win for better consideration in the tournament. Baylor also could use the win to better their chances for a higher seed.

Now putting statistics aside, this will be a good game. It’s conference tournament time and everything is amped up. Seniors don’t want to be done, and players dream of going to the ‘ship. This will not be one you want to miss.

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National Signing Day 2017: Big 12

The Big 12 was locked out of the College Football Playoff last season, but the way to get back is through recruiting. This page will be updated today for National Signing Day. Here are how the classes in the Big 12 are looking:

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Signees: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 17, 3*: 10, Other: 0

The Sooners have leveraged all of their recent success to gain another great recruiting class. Corner back Justin Broiles enrolled early and could help a secondary that isn’t great. Athlete Ryan Jones Should also be able to create an impact early in his career. There will be more good signings for the Sooners throughout the day.

Top Prospects Signed: CB Justin Broiles (4*), RB Trey Sermon (4*)

2. Texas Longhorns

Commitments: 18, 5*: 0, 4*: 7, 3*:11, Other: 0

Texas has the second best class in the Big 12, but it is good, not great nationally. They will need to get some key signees to move up the ranks. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger impressed enough to be invited to the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. Toneil Carter could see playing time at the wide receiver position early in his career. Tom Herman has a solid recruiting class to build off of.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Toneil Carter (4*), QB Sam Ehlinger (4*)

3. TCU Horned Frogs

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 6, 3*: 8, Other: 4

Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs were a trendy pick to win the Big 12 last season, but fell short. Fortunately TCU has some recruits to look forward to. Shawn Robinson is a good dual threat quarterback that should be a good fit for TCU’s offense. Jalen Raegor is an exciting wide receiver prospect, who can help recreate the high-powered offense that the Horned Frogs used to have.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Jalen Raegor (4*), OG Wes Harris (4*)

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*: 4, 3*: 15, Other: 2

Oklahoma State was a few games away from a College Football Playoff appearance. They have a solid recruiting class that should help them maintain their current level of success. Wide receivers Tylan Wallace and Shamond Greenwood are a pair of four star receivers that will catch passes next season. It is an offensive-loaded class for the Cowboys, so Mike Gundy will need to figure a way to outscore all of their opponents, because the defense needs work.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Tylan Wallace (4*), RB Chuba Hubbard (4*)

5. Baylor Bears

Commitments: 27, 5*: 0, 4*: 3, 3*: 24, Other: 0

Matt Rhule has done a fantastic job of turning nothing into something with this recruiting class. Wide receivers are the main coup for the Bears in this class. They have Trestan Ebner and R.J. Snead should both see the field at some point in their careers. Offensive line prospect Xavier Newman is one of the best interior linemen in the class.

Top Prospects Signed: WR R.J. Snead (4*), WR Trestan Ebner (4*)

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Commitments: 18, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 16, Other: 0

The Red Raiders are known for their offensive skill positions, but they have a class of good defensive players and offensive linemen. Offensive guard Jack Anderson is a top five guard in the class. Two JuCo corners in Octavious Morgan and Jaylon Lane are great finds for Texas Tech and can help out their bad defense.

Top Prospects Signed: OG Jack Anderson (4*), CB Octavious Morgan (4*)

7. Iowa State Cyclones

Signees: 24, 5*: 0, 4*: 2, 3*: 19, Other: 3

Iowa State targeted a lot of JuCo players for their class. Their class is headed by wide receivers Matthew Eaton and Joshua Johnson, who should have an impact soon after arriving to Aimes.

Top Prospects Signed: WR Matthew Eaton (4*), WR Joshua Johnson (4*)

8. West Virginia Mountaineers

Commitments: 21, 5*: 0, 4*:0, 3*: 20, Other: 1

Dana Holgorsen doesn’t have a talented recruiting class, but has a knack for findins diamonds in the rough. Kelby Wickline is an offensive tackle from JuCo who should get a chance to play. Wide receiver Reggie Roberson is their best skill position prospect.

Top Prospects Signed: OT Kelby Wickline (3*), WR Reggie Roberson (3*)

9. Kansas State Wildcats

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 0, 3*: 14, Other: 5

Bill Snyder has lost his grasp on recruiting. The Wildcats have a couple of defensive ends leading the class in Anthony Payne and Wyatt Hubert. Safety Elijah Walker is a good JuCo safety prospect for the Wildcats. They will need to have some of these players outdo expectations.

Top Prospects Signed: DE Anthony Payne (3*), S Elijah Walker (3*)

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Commitments: 19, 5*: 0, 4*: 1, 3*: 17, Other: 2

The Jayhawks are at the bottom of the Big 12 again. They, with some other struggling teams, have to target a lot of JuCo prospects. Quarterback Peyton Bender is a JuCo guy that they hope pans out. A lot of these three stars will need to be great to help Kansas hop out of the bottom of the Big 12.

Top Prospects: QB Peyton Bender (3*), RB Octavious Matthews (4*)

 

ACC Signing Day- Here

Big Ten Signing Day- Here

Pac-12 Signing Day- Here

SEC Signing Day- Here

 

 

 

NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Cactus Bowl

The 2016 Cactus Bowl will feature athletes at skill positions. Boise State has had some of their skill position players have successful careers, like Doug Martin and Jay Ajayi. Baylor has had a new surge of skill position players at the NFL level. The most successful ones have been: Corey Coleman, Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams. Players in this game will be hoping to have careers like the people who paved the way for their schools. Here are the players to watch in this game:

Boise State Broncos

Jeremy McNichols, RB

Projected Draft Range: Third round-fifth round

Cactus Bowl

Jeremy McNichols (Photo courtesy: Yahoo)

McNichols is a do-it-all back for the Broncos. He is undersized at five feet nine inches, but has a solid weight of 212 pounds. At the very least, McNichols will be a solid third down back at the next level. He has had two season of over 450 yards receiving, making him a good target out of the backfield. His vision and quickness are his best attributes and he uses them to find holes and rip off big gains. With a deep running back class, McNichols versatility as a running back is a competitive advantage.

Baylor Bears

Kyle Fuller, C

Projected Draft Range: Fourth round-sixth round

Fuller has good size at six feet four inches tall and 310 pounds. He is very strong and can move his man off the ball in the running game. Fuller will need to demonstrate mobility and pass blocking in order to improve his draft stock from this range. The good news is he has a lot of tape this season, due to how many plays Baylor runs. With all of the plays, the offense has really been effective, which should help his case.

Orion Stewart, S

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent

Cactus Bowl

Orion Stewart (Photo courtesy: cbssports.com)

If a team is looking for a do-it-all safety in the later rounds of the draft, Orion Stewart’s name might come up. He isn’t afraid to tackle with 76 total tackles on the season. He has blitzed well and recorded three tackles for loss. Stewart is a ball-hawk with five interceptions on the season. Making his stats more impressive is that he has one of those interceptions returned for a touchdowns. He has good size for a safety at six feet two, but needs to add strength for the next level.

KD Cannon, WR

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent

Cannon isn’t the tallest receiver at six feet tall and 180 pounds. He is quick and fast which will be his best assets. Cannon will be able to create separation at the NFL level, but may not do it as often as in college. The main thing that Cannon will need to work on is his route running. Teams that want a guy who can develop into a receiver with time in the later round will look in Cannon’s direction.

 

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2016 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl Preview

Baylor struggled down the stretch and won’t catch any breaks, as they play Boise State in the 2016 Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.

Boise State Broncos

Another year and Boise State has another ten win season. They only lost on the road to very good teams, Wyoming and Air Force. They beat a lot of bowl eligible teams including: Hawaii, Colorado State, BYU and Washington State.

Brett Rypien has had one of the best seasons for a college football quarterback, but people still might not know who he is. The sophomore quarterback has thrown for 3,341 yards and 23 touchdowns. The best thing that Rypien has done is protect the football and has only six interceptions on the year. He is reliable, but some will question whether he can protect the football in big games, as he threw three of his interceptions against Washington State.

Boise State has two different 1,000 yard receivers. Thomas Sperbeck has 1,193 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Cedrick Wilson has been more of a big play receiver with 1,041 yards on 20.8 yards per catch and ten touchdowns. These two both being good means that Baylor likely can’t double team one, because the other will light them up.

Cactus Bowl

Jeremy McNichols (Photo courtesy: AP)

Jeremy McNichols has said that he will leave for the NFL Draft. He is one of the best all around backs in college football. McNichols rushed for 1,663 yards and 23 touchdowns. He has added value, in that, he has 450 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Shiftiness and quickness are two traits that McNichols brings to the table to help out in both rushing and receiving.

The Broncos has a below average rush defense that allows 180 yards per game. Their pass defense is solid and gives up just 200 yards per game.

Linebacker Ben Weaver has been the best player on the Boise State defense. He has been all over the field with 99 total tackles.

Baylor Bears

Baylor started off the season hot, but faltered down the stretch to finish 6-6. They won six straight and then lost six straight to get to the .500 mark. They beat one bowl eligible team on the season in Oklahoma State. Their losses to bowl ineligible teams include Texas and Texas Tech.

Seth Russell was the starting quarterback for the Bears, but he had a gruesome leg injury that ended his season. Zach Smith filled in to throw for 1,151 yards and ten touchdowns on 56% completion percentage. That is decent for a freshman quarterback, but he needs to play better than he ever has to get Baylor a win.

Cactus Bowl

KD Cannon (Photo courtesy: nfl.com)

KD Cannon has been the best receiver for Baylor. He finished the regular season with 945 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. Behind Cannon, the Bears have three other receivers that have over 400 yards receiving.

The second leading rusher, Shock Linwood, will not be playing in the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. That means the bulk of the carries will go to Terence Williams, their leading rusher. He has 945 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The sophomore is capable of carrying the load for the Bears.

Baylor has a terrible run defense that allows 211 yards per game. The pass defense is more highly rated and gives up 224 yards per game.

Defensive Back Orion Stewart has been great at forcing turnovers with five interceptions. He will be tasked with shutting down one of the 1,000 yard receivers from Boise State.

Prediction

Baylor has shown their heart isn’t in this anymore. Boise State always shows up to play in big games. The Broncos will use McNichols in the running game to set up the passing game, while the defense gets enough stops to win the game.

 

Boise State Broncos 41 Baylor Bears 26

 

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College Football Bracketology September 27, 2016

Four weeks into the season for college football and there has been a lot of pandemonium. There are a lot of games left on the schedule, but enough have been played that we can start to predict the teams that will make the College Football Playoff. These rankings will not project future wins or preseason rankings, but rather what teams have accomplished on the field.

Teams in the Playoff:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0)

The Crimson Tide have won all four of their games so far this season. Their wins over USC and Ole Miss are impressive and they steamrolled both Kent State and Western Kentucky. Ole Miss was their toughest competition, only winning by five points, but Alabama had the game won for much of the fourth quarter. They did, however, need a great comeback to beat Ole Miss. Alabama has their flaws as a team, but their resume speaks for itself.

2. Louisville Cardinals (4-0)

Louisville has the Heisman Trophy front-runner in Lamar Jackson and they have had a very impressive season. They got easy wins over Charlotte, Syracuse and Marshall. In addition to these wins they also blew out Florida State when they were ranked number two in the country. Because of their good win against Florida State and their large scoring differential, the Cardinals deserve the number two spot, if not the top spot.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (3-0)

Norman, Oklahoma got a lot quieter after Ohio State demolished the Sooners 45-21 two Saturdays ago. The Buckeyes were off this weekend, but played really well the first three weeks of the season. Their win in Norman was one of the few great road wins of the young season. Ohio State’s defense has looked good so far and will need to continue to step up in Big Ten play.

4. Houston Cougars (4-0)

The Cougars got a big week one win against Oklahoma to really solidify their status as a CFP contender. They also beat the Cincinnati Bearcats, in a trap Thursday night game, Texas State and Lamar. Houston will have to hope that Oklahoma does well the rest of the year to make their win look better. Their game against Louisville later in the season might be a CFP play-in game.

First Four Out:

5. Stanford Cardinal (3-0)

They might only have three wins on their schedule, but Stanford has played some good competition so far. They beat Kansas State and UCLA on the road, and beat USC at home for solid wins. Because they have played no cupcakes they find themselves pretty high on this list. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they travel to Washington for a Friday night match-up with the Huskies.

6. Texas A&M Aggies (4-0)

Some may not like the Aggies being so high on this list, but they beat an up and coming Arkansas team and a UCLA team that should get better as the season goes on. They also got a big win at Auburn (which is Clemson’s best win thus far), to help put them atop the SEC West standings with Alabama. The Aggies should get an easy win against South Carolina this weekend, which doesn’t really help their case, other than avoiding a loss.

7. Clemson Tigers (4-0)

Clemson hasn’t looked great all year, but has gotten better as the season has gone on. Their win over Auburn looks better as Auburn beat LSU this weekend. Dabo Swinney’s side just escaped a dangerous game against Georgia Tech as well. Their other two wins are unimpressive, but they got the job done. Their game this weekend against Louisville could certainly bolster them in to the top four.

8. Wisconsin Badgers (4-0)

The Badgers have had a surprising start to their season so far. They throttled Michigan State this week and beat LSU in the opener for some impressive early season wins. The problem for Wisconsin has been playing down to their competition, but so far they have gotten away with it. Wisconsin travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan this weekend, which should show everyone a lot about both teams.

Next Four Out:

9. Michigan Wolverines (4-0)

A lot has been made about how easy Michigan’s early schedule has been, but their win over Colorado is looking a lot better after the Buffs beat Oregon this week. Beating Penn State by 39 in their Big Ten opener also looks good. This weekend’s game against Wisconsin could propel the Wolverines into the top four.

10. Tennessee Volunteers (4-0)

Tennessee hasn’t looked good this season, but have won all of their games. Beating Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway was a decent win to pair with their most recent victory over the Florida Gators. Both sides were banged up, but the Volunteers came out on top. The committee may show some of their subjectivity by saying the Volunteers haven’t looked good, but with a lot of football left to play, the Volunteers can still improve. They have another big SEC East clash this weekend against Georgia.

11. Florida State Seminoles (3-1)

Yes, Florida State got blown out by Louisville. That doesn’t take away from the rest of their games so far. They beat Ole Miss, who looks like they can still compete for the SEC West despite two losses, and South Florida, who is a solid team from the American Conference. The Seminoles play a trendy UNC team this weekend.

12. Baylor Bears (4-0)

The Bears swept their non-conference slate, as they usually do, because they didn’t schedule any decent teams. They make the twelfth spot on this list because they beat Oklahoma State this week, who despite losing to Central Michigan, should still have a good year. Their next two games, against Iowa State and Kansas, won’t help them look any better, but if they lose, their playoff chances are gone.

College Football Week Four Recap

This weekend’s games didn’t have all of the greatest match-ups as previous weeks, but there was still a lot of good football. Four weeks into the season we have learned a lot of things about plenty of teams, but here are some takeaways from the week:

1. The Big Ten is for real.

A lot of people have been debating whether the Big Ten is the best conference in college football this week, but one thing isn’t in doubt after this weekend: The Big Ten has a few elite teams. Ohio State was off this weekend, but remains number two in both the Coaches’ and AP Polls. Michigan got another blowout win this week, this time demolishing Penn State in the Big House, and remain in the top five of both polls. Michigan State lost to a very good Wisconsin team, but both teams should be pretty good the rest of the way. Wisconsin worked their way up to eight in the polls with the win and Michigan State dropped to a respectable number seventeen in the Coaches’ Poll. Nebraska followed up their win over Oregon this week by beating Northwestern this weekend, while moving up to fifteen in both polls. Polls can be misleading because of schedules and how they were formatted to start the season, but Ohio State went on the road to beat Oklahoma, Michigan got a win over a Colorado team that went on to beat Oregon, Nebraska squeaked by that same Oregon team, Wisconsin surprised an LSU team that at the very least has a lot of talent and Michigan State beat an under-performing Notre Dame team on the road. The Big Ten has challenged itself and has earned the right to be called the best conference in the country.

2. It is really hard to lead a nationally prominent team for a long time.

Les Miles has been fired from LSU after losing to Auburn this weekend. Defensive line coach, Ed Orgeron, will take over the head coaching duties on an interim basis. He previously was an interim coach at USC, after the firing of Lane Kiffin. Miles had a very successful run for the Tigers, winning a national championship and countless other big games. LSU had some of the best recruits in the country every year under Miles, which is something they will wish to continue under their new leadership. In the end though, Miles was fired because he refused to change and was too predictable on offense. Handing the ball to outstanding running back Leonard Fournette every down may sound like a great idea, but teams simply stacked the box because LSU couldn’t find anyone to consistently complete passes. Miles also refused to change the offensive system to open things up for the quarterbacks. He hasn’t had much success against Alabama, which has been frustrating for LSU fans. Now that it is all said and done, Miles had a successful stint as LSU’s head coach, but if you aren’t winning national championships regularly, it is hard to keep people happy.

3. Baylor is the Big 12’s last hope at the College Football Playoff.

The Bears got a big win over Oklahoma State this weekend, which has made them the team to beat in the Big 12. Oklahoma has two losses and is a long-shot to make the playoff. Oklahoma State lost to a MAC team two weeks ago. Texas lost to Cal to weeks ago and has a shaky defense at best. TCU lost to Arkansas in a close match-up, but hasn’t looked good otherwise either. Baylor never plays anyone of note in the non-conference schedule, but they may not need to if every other contender in the conference continues to lose. Even with a lousy schedule, the College Football Playoff Committee will select the Bears if they run the table or, if the circumstances are right, finish with one loss.

 

The State of College Football in Texas

The six premier college teams of Texas all look to be in great shape. Baylor, Texas Tech and TCU all scheduled easy games to begin the season, but all won in a great fashion.

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Ronald Martinez/ Getty Images

Baylor beat Northwestern State 55-7 in Waco. The most important part of the game was the return of quarterback Seth Russell. Russell is coming back from a neck injury he suffered last year. Russell went 14-20, threw for 163 yards and also threw for four touchdown pass. Baylor is also working with a new head coach. Jim Grobe is the new head coach after the firing of Art Briles. Baylor fired Briles after an investigation that Baylor University allegedly mishandled many sexual assault complaints, many of which included some players for the Baylor football team.

Texas Tech had an easy time with Stephen F Austin. Red Raider junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II lit up the Lumberjack defense. He had over 500 total yards of offense and six touchdowns. He threw for 483 yards and threw four touchdowns. While on the ground, he ran for 57 yards and scored twice using his legs. Texas Tech ended up winning the game 69-17.

In Fort Worth, the TCU Horned Frogs had a scare against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Before the end of the first half, TCU was down by as much as 10 points. TCU won the game 59-41. Most importantly, new quarterback Kenny Hill had a great game. Hill ran for three scores and threw for two more. He threw for over 400 yards, but head coach Gary Patterson would love for Hill to throw less interceptions. Hill threw two during the game.

As for the other three teams in Texas, they scheduled big time opponents. Houston, Texas A&M and Texas were all underdogs in their games, but they all came out on top.

George Bridges/ AP Photo

George Bridges/ AP Photo

Last year, the Cougars beat the Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Many thought it was fluke, but after Saturday the Cougars showed why they belong in the National Championship conversation. Houston’s first opponent of the 2016 season was the Oklahoma Sooners.

Freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a great college debut. Oliver is former five star recruit from the Houston area. Oliver is the first five star recruit to go to a non-Power 5 conference. On the field, he showed his worth. He had seven tackles and sacked Baker Mayfield twice on the day. The defense held the Sooners to 70 yards rushing. Senior corner back Brandon Wilson had a 100-yard missed field goal return.

On offense, the Cougars were clicking. Greg Ward Jr. had over 300 yards passing and threw for two scores. Running back Duke Catalon had 88 yards rushing and receiver Steven Dunbar had 125 yards on seven catches. The Cougars would end up beat the Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 and this was their second straight Top 10 victory.

The Texas A&M Aggies hosted the UCLA Bruins for a SEC-Pac 12 match-up. The Aggies were trying out new quarterback Trevor Knight and his first outing was good. He threw for over 200 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, Knight had 31 yards rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. In overtime, Knight’s second rushing touchdown was the game-clinching touchdown.

The Aggie defense picked off Josh Rosen three times during the game. Justin Evans had two of them and Priest Willis had the other one. The defense also got to Rosen five times. Texas A&M won the game 31-24 in overtime.

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The Texas Longhorns beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday. It took two overtimes to do it, but they beat Notre Dame 50-47. It was a battle of the two quarterback systems. It was Notre Dame’s Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer versus Texas’ Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Shane Buechele. Buechele is the first freshman starting QB at Texas since 1944. It paid off for the Longhorns. Buechele threw 280 yards and two scores, while Swoopes was the running quarterback. Swoopes ran for 53 yards and also had three rushing touchdowns. His third rushing touchdown was the dagger. Swoopes leaped over the goal line and ended the game.

This weekend was huge for college football, but it was especially big for the state of Texas. Vince Young’s ’05 Texas team was the last team from Texas to win a National Championship, but that was 10 years ago. All six of these teams want to be the team that brings the state of Texas back to the National Championship game.

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