Tag Archives: College Football

What Else Does UCF Football Have to do?

The UCF Knights, 2017 self-proclaimed National Champions want to prove you wrong. Courtesy: @UCF_Football

The UCF Knights have won 24 consecutive games dating back to the beginning of the 2017 season. A season in which they convincingly beat the team (Auburn), who convincingly beat the eventually College Football Playoff National Champions, Alabama, and the runner-up Georgia.

The self-proclaimed defending National Champions are once again undefeated and on the verge of winning another American Athletic Conference Championship and earning an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Still, they’re being ignored and on the outside looking in at the College Football Playoffs sitting at number 8, with two one-loss teams (Oklahoma & Ohio State) ahead of them and one two-loss team (Michigan) that was destroyed last time they took the field.

Barring a series of apocalyptic upsets in the conference championship games, they’ll be left out for the second straight season. Knight fans are left wondering what else they have to do to get the respect of the college football world and get an invite to the party. Here’s what they need to do.

1. Schedule home and homes series with middle of the pack teams from the Power 5 Conferences.

If the Knights could beat Kentucky or Vanderbilt from the SEC, Minnesota or Purdue from the B1G, Wake Forest or Pitt from the ACC, or Kansas or Iowa State from the Big 12, then the committee will have a common opponent to fairly judge UCF’s resume side by side against a one-loss Georgia, Oklahoma or Ohio State for an example.

While I don’t subscribe to transitive property in sports–I.E. UCF beats Purdue by 14 and Purdue beat Ohio State by 29, so that means UCF could beat the Buckeyes–but it would be a feather in the Knight’s cap to say “hey, we dominated one of their conference opponents who they lost to. That should prove we’re a more deserving team because we were better against them than they were.” We know the College Football Committee takes results against common opponents into account. They’ve said as much themselves.

In their defense, the Knights have had Georgia Tech (2017) and North Carolina (2018) on their schedules and those games had to be cancelled due to Hurricanes. If they would have played and won those games, I’m sure they would’ve had their ticket punched to the CFP already.

2. The entire American Athletic Conference needs to be more vocal in making a case for the Knights.

Michael L. Aresco is the commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, and he should bang the drum every chance he gets about how good this team is, but he shouldn’t be alone, each Athletic Director and Head Coach of each team the Knights beat should tout how good UCF is. It behooves them to. From a respect standpoint and financially. The payout for each conference in the CFP was $6 million in 2017-18, win or lose.

While it’s the Knights that keep getting overlooked right now, it’s also the entire conference that’s being disrespected. One day it could be Cincinnati, Houston or Memphis in UCF’s shoes. They certainly would hope they’d get a realistic shot at the CFP if they were undefeated. So they need to not wait until it’s them and speak up now before it gets to that point. An undefeated team in the Power 5 would NEVER be ignored. Hell, Notre Dame is a lock to get into the playoff with no conference title. Just past reputation.

Do I think the Knights can go undefeated if they played in the SEC, B1G, ACC, Big 12 or Pac-12? No!

Do I think UCF can beat Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia, Oklahoma or Ohio State on any given Saturday with a month to prepare? Yes, it’s very likely. And they should get the chance.

If anything, last bowl seasons win over Auburn proved they can compete with the best and pull the upset. That’s what sports is about, it’s the ultimate meritocracy. Let the players on the field decide. Not the stuffy corporate suits that worry about television rating and ticket sales. I hope UCF gets a shot real soon. Just not over my Buckeyes. Lol.

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UCF Football was Failed By Many, Including their Own Conference 

UCF’s 2017 National Championship ring. Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

 
The UCF Knights hosted their first spring under new head coach Josh Heupel. A few minutes before the game, the team showed highlights from the 2017 season on the jumbotron at Spectrum Stadium in east Orlando. They also hung a banner celebrating their 13-0 undefeated season. The players and coaches also received gaudy, diamond covered championship rings to not only commemorate the perfect season, but American Athletic Conference title, Peach Bowl Championship and self proclaimed National title.
While Knights’ fans and alums love it. The pettiness of the Knight’s athletic department is rubbing people outside of central Florida the wrong way. 

The Knight’s argument is that they beat the Auburn Tigers, the only team to beat the College Football Playoff National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. Maybe they could have gotten away with claiming the Championship in the 1990’s when two different team’s finished number one in the Associated Press poll and Coaches polls following the bowl season. Just go look up the 1997 season that ended with the Florida Gators and Michigan Wolverines claiming the national crown. That season is what eventually led to the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). However, the College Football Playoff is the new system in place to decide who is the number one team in the land, and UCF wasn’t invited.

I agree UCF was screwed out of a shot to play for the title and prove how good they were on the field. The finger should be solely pointed at the thirteen people on the College football playoff committee for them not getting that chance. They are the ones who are supposed to know the game of football, watch all of the games throughout the season and judge what teams are playing the best, and deserving of one of those coveted final four spots. 

Former UCF Head Coach, now at Nebraska, said during the 2017 season he wouldn’t campaign for a high ranking in the weekly College Football Playoff rankings because he wanted to focus on each game in front of the Knights. He was right, and it wouldn’t have looked good for Knight’s Athletic Director Danny White to beat the school’s chest either.

But the finger should be pointed at the head coaches of the thirteen teams the Knights defeated, as well as the Athletic Directors at the schools of the American Athletic Conference and Michael Aresco, the Commissioner of the AAC. 

Each Tuesday night the CFP committee disrespected the Knights in those rankings, the aforementioned people should have been pounding the table about how good UCF really is, and why the committee should have shown coach Frost and his team more respect. It would’ve been in their benefit to stomp for UCF, because of the money the conference would’ve received with a Knight’s CFP invitation. But also, the legitimacy it would have brought to the entire conference out of the obscurity of being a mid-major or “Group of Five.” Even though those schools lost to UCF in 2017, it would have been a victory for the AAC.

2017 should be a lesson for future seasons when a mid-major program has a run like the Knights to give them a realistic shot they earned on the field at a National title. But, this also may be a call to action on the need to expand the playoffs to six games­­, which many are in favor of. Five slots for the Power Five conferences (ACC, B1G, PAC-12, SEC, BIG 12) and one at-large spot for a team from a “Group of Five” like UCF. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with this, and the committee would still get the weekly controversy over the selections they obviously want. Most importantly, you wouldn’t have the embarrassment of leaving out the only undefeated team in the sport and them crowning themselves as champions. 

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

  

Photo Credit: Twitter.com/@UCF_Football

 

Has Buckeye Nation Lost Perspective?

Buckeye Football is fine. Photo Credit: Nike.com

 When the Iowa Hawkeyes drubbed the Buckeyes 55-24, pretty much ending their College Football Playoff hopes, many Ohio State fans threw in their collective towels and called the 2017 season a loss season. But, if the Buckeyes win out, they’ll be B1G Champions for only the second time in Urban Meyer’s tenure. A conference title will land them in either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl. There’s still the very small possibility of a College Football Playoffs birth if chaos occurs. So there is a LOT left to play for.
However, this defeated mindset leaves me ashamed to be an Ohio State fan sometimes. This fan base needs some perspective and I’m here to offer it to you.

As a 37-year old who was born after the Woody Hayes era unceremoniously ended, I missed the golden age he led in Columbus that propelled the Buckeyes to national prominence with 5 National Championships, 13 Big Ten titles and 16 wins over “That Team Up North” in 28 seasons.

My father raised by me on Buckeye football. I listened to him tell stories about the greatness of this program before my birth, yet as I watched as a youngster teams lead by Earle Bruce, I didn’t see it. There were no national titles, but he did win 4 Big Ten titles, 5 bowl games and was 5-4 against the Wolverines. Coach Bruce only had one top 5 finishes (1979) and had eight consecutive seasons of 3 or more losses. This program was no longer on the level of the Notre Dame’s, Nebraska’s, Oklahoma’s, Miami’s and Penn State (pre-B1G affiliation) who dominated NCAA football during that period.

Then there was the Cooper era, the period that hurts and haunts me still. Only 2 wins and a tie in 13 tries against TTUN. 7 bowl losses. 3 Big Ten Titles and No National Championships despite reaching the top 10 in Associated Press Poll 7 times and starting the season in the Top 10 four times.

It wasn’t until I was a 22-year old senior at The Ohio State University that I saw my favorite team play for a national title and win it, led by Jim Tressel, Craig Krenzel and super freshman Maurice Clarett. 22 years it took for me to experience my team win it all. Compare that to a current 22-year old Ohio State fan that has seen the Buckeyes win 2 National titles (2002, 2014), play for another 3, 9 outright/shared B1G titles and 15 wins in “The Game”, which include a current 5-game win streak. I’ll gladly trade my first 22 years of Buckeye football fandom for that of a current 22-year old.

 

These last 15 years especially have spoiled Buckeye Nation and distorted our perspective of how hard it is to truly be great in college football.

The schools that dominated the college football landscape of my youth (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami, Georgia, Michigan) and even the turn of this century (Miami again, Texas, USC, Florida and Florida State) have all gone through multiple losing seasons, coaching changes and program derailing scandals. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes have been at the top or in the thick of the Championship race. And when there has been a down season, scandal or coaching change (2011), the Scarlet and Gray quickly bounced back (2012; 12-0).

In the last 25 years or so, we’ve never had to hear the phrase “The Buckeyes are back!” like the Miami Hurricanes are hearing this week ahead of their matchup with the Fighting Irish.

So as you watch this 2017 version fight for a B1G Championship in clearly the most challenging Power 5 conference this season, remember the main goals are still obtainable. But more importantly, there are a lot of fans bases that would love to have our “problems.”

Buckeyes Overcome Early Mistakes to Beat Penn State

Barrett carried the Buckeyes to a 4th quarter comeback win 39-38, over Penn State. Photo Credit: Aaron Dotser/USA Today

Remember when everyone around the nation, including some in Buckeye Nation, were bashing J.T. Barrett? I wish he’d go to the post game press conference and channel his inner Kirk Cousins right now.

Lead by the senior quarterback, the Buckeyes overcame several early mistakes on special teams, offense and coaching to overcome a 15 points fourth quarter deficit to knockoff the second ranked Penn State Nittany Lions 39-38.

Barrett completed 33 of 39 passes for 328 yards and 4 touchdowns. With this performance and the others since the loss to Oklahoma, he has firmly placed his name in the Heisman Trophy race.

But it wasn’t pretty. Here are my takeaways from the Buckeyes come from behind victory.

* THE SILVER BULLETS ARE THE BEST DAMN DEFENSE IN THE LAND.

Penn State came into the game averaging 463.3 yards per game (2nd in B1G). The Buckeyes held them to 283 total yards (192 passing, 91 rushing.)

Ohio State may very well have snatched the Heisman Trophy from Saquon Barkley after he started the game looking to run away with it on the opening kickoff. Eight of Barkley’s 21 carries resulted in loss yardage. He finished the game with 44 rushing yards for an average of 2.1 per carry. Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano and defensive line coach Larry Johnson had the perfect game plan to stop the most dynamic player in the country.

* J.T. WAS NEVER THE PROBLEM. 

As I’ve been saying all season, the supporting cast around Barrett hadn’t stepped up in big games, until Saturday night. When Barrett has time, and receivers run good routes to get open, J.T. will look like the Heisman finalist he was in 2014 and the guy who has now catapulted himself into the top of the conversation with this victory. Just Touchdowns is clutch! He completed his last 16 pass attempts and was 13 of 13 in the fourth quarter.

Johnnie Dixon and his two touchdowns in the fourth quarter will be all anyone talks about, but Austin Mack and K.J. Hill were huge keeping the chains moving. Hill finished with 12 receptions for 102 yards. I also can’t forget Marcus Baugh coming back from a huge drop early in the game to redeem himself for the game winner. When the skill guys play to their expectations around Barrett, this is the performance you’ll get from the Senior QB. He will look just like he did when he had Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Smith and Michael Thomas to name a few.

* POOR PLAY CALLING/COACHING SHOULD HAVE LOST THIS GAME

The majority of the finger-pointing the last two seasons in Columbus has been towards Barrett, but maybe it’s time to point the finger at Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. As poorly as the Senior QB has played in past big games, the coaching staff hasn’t put him or the rest of the Scarlet and Gray in the best positions to succeed.

This coaching staff hasn’t learned from the losses to Clemson in the 2017 College Football Playoff and Oklahoma in game two of this season that you can’t call plays on offense that go sideline to sideline. The top defenses are too quick. You need to throw it down field, even if it’s incomplete, just to loosen up the defense and put them on their heels.

Going for it on 4th and 8 in field goal range to end the first quarter was a panic move from Urban Meyer that I’ve never seen from him before in his career in Columbus or at the University of Florida. Had he allowed Nuernberger to kick what would have been a 35-yard field goal, and he made it, Ohio State would have been down one possession at halftime 28-20 with the ball to start the second half. Instead they went into the locker room down 11. Thankfully that decision didn’t come back to haunt them.

The game plan also needs to focus more on the best use of their best weapons. J.K. Dobbins getting only 13 carries isn’t enough. He finished the game with a per carry average of 6.8 for a total of 88 rushing yards. Dobbins is what Barkley was when he entered the B1G three years ago. He needs to be used more.

* THE SPECIAL TEAMS UNIT CONTINUES TO SUCK

It didn’t take long for this unit to show its flaws. Saquon Barkley took the opening kickoff 97-yards to pay dirt. They also allowed Koa Farmer, a linebacker, to return a pooch kick 60-yards to set up another touchdown. Coming off a Bye week were these problems had persisted for weeks, you would think this unit would have come out to play the perfect game. These mistakes still haven’t cost them a game, yet. I put emphasis on yet.

As bad as special teams was, I must them a big nod, because it was the blocked punt by Denzel Ward with 11:39 remaining in the game down 35-20 that turned the game. So there was a bit of redemption for the Buckeyes since it was as blocked field goal by Penn State last season that helped them complete the upset.

The first College Football Playoff poll will be released this week. The Buckeyes have a real shot to be in the first four, top five at worse.

Next up, the Iowa Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Kickoff is yet to be determined.

2015 Buckeyes: What Could’ve Been

So the defending National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes didn’t repeat. I guess Buckeye Nation should’ve reveled in the 2014 team’s accomplishment a little longer, instead of getting greedy for more. But that’s not what this is about. This season just goes to show no matter how talented a team is, winning back to back championships may very well be more difficult than winning the first one.

I titled this “what could’ve been”, but that was just click bait to get you to read this. I’d rather focus on what was. And, what was is very positive and impressive when you look at the totality of what has been accomplished in the last four years, especially considering where this program was at the start of the 2011 season.

Finishing 12-1 with a 44-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame isn’t a bad or disappointing season. But more impressive, the Senior Class leaves Columbus with a record of 50-4, and is tied for the winningest senior class in COLLEGE FOOTBALL HISTORY. They completed 4 consecutive 12+ win seasons, which included a 12-0 season in 2012 when they were bowl and conference championship ineligible, a Big Ten Championship, an impressive 4-0 record against “that school up north”, a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and the big bad SEC, and a National Championship. How can one be disappointed in that?

In addition to the senior class, the junior class will highlight this spring’s NFL Draft as several of them will be first round picks with Joey Bosa leading the way as potentially the first OSU #1 overall pick since Orlando Pace back in 1997. This team will potentially have 5 players drafted into the first round of this spring’s NFL draft, and as many as 12 in the first 3 rounds.

The offense that was much maligned for the majority of the season, wasn’t as horrid as many fans made it out to be. The Buckeyes finished the season 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring at 35.7 points per game, while averaging 434.1 yards per game. They had the B1G’s number one rushing attack averaging 245.2 yards per game with a league best 39 touchdowns.

5 Buckeyes were selected as First-Team All-B1G performers, and Ezekiel Elliot won B1G Offensive Player of the Year, which is the 4th consecutive season a Buckeye won the award.

And, once again, Ohio State saved the B1G’s reputation, along with the “Fighting Khaki’s”, after a dismal performance by their conference mates in the bowl season. Buckeye Nation can be disappointed that this team didn’t get a shot to defend it’s title, but as Coach Meyer has said on many occasions in the past couple of weeks, the season is not a disappointment.

Enjoy this Buckeye fans, what we have witnessed doesn’t come around often, if at all.

Week 4 College Football Takeaways

Let’s overreact to another week of College Football.

It’s Sunday, so here’s my overreaction to week four of the college football season.

The B1G should replace a few of its schools with teams from the MAC, and would become a better overall conference. Northern Illinois got all the headlines for playing the defending National Champion Buckeyes close last week, but several of their conference brethren have given Power 5 schools headaches. Bowling Green has two wins against B1G schools (Purdue & Maryland) and played Tennessee out of the SEC close until succumbing 59-30. The Ohio Bobcats pushed the Minnesota Gophers to the final seconds this week, before losing 27-24. Kent State also only lost to the Golden Gophers by 3 points a week ago.

It’s clear the top teams in the MAC have caught up. My guess is that many of the top recruits from the Midwest who don’t accept or receive scholarships to power 5 schools–where they’ll have to sit for two years, behind upperclassmen who are also former top recruits–are getting on the field sooner at the mid major program’s, and it’s finally paying off for those programs. Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue are a few that come to mind that don’t help the B1G case when it comes to football. Check back with those schools later this fall when hoops tips-off.

TCU is not a top 5 team. Look at their defense. They gave up 52 points and 607 total yards, and needed a fluke tip drill to score a touchdown on 4th down in the following seconds to beat Texas Tech. Last week they gave up 37 points and 508 total yards to SMU. Minnesota, a mid level team in the B1G, gave them a scare in week one. The Horned Frog defense will have circles ran around it against their major in conference challenger, Baylor. Who, by the way, just put up 70 points against Rice on Saturday. Number fifteen ranked Oklahoma, number twenty-three ranked West Virginia and number twenty ranked Oklahoma State may dash their playoff hopes soon enough.

Which brings me to this point, if the College Football Playoffs started today, the top 4 teams would be from the B1G Champion (Ohio State or Michigan State), the SEC champion (Georgia or LSU), Notre Dame and Utah. To me those are the four teams playing the best football, even though they aren’t ranked that way in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

This means the Big 12 would get left out of the playoffs again. The Big 12 has become Arena Football with their focus on high volume passing offenses. Any champion from that conference would be physically dominated by the top teams in the B1G, SEC and PAC-12. The PAC-12 winner could have two losses because they best teams in conference and beating up on each other. However, the champion from the PAC-12 would still be highly impressive with two losses.

The Heisman Trophy race is a now two-man race between LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Georgia running back Nick Chubbs. I said last week Fournette should win hands down, but Chubbs is making a case while chasing history at Georgia. He just tied 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games. The winner of the 2015 Heisman may be decided the night these two face off in the SEC Championship game. That is, if both teams continue winning.

Michigan just made the B1G a three team race. The “Fighting Khakis” are back in the Associated Press Top 25 at number 22. The FPI gives head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team a 25% chance of entering the bowl season with 10+ wins and a 56% chance to beat in state rival Michigan State. It was only 34% in the preseason. The Spartans and Buckeyes schedule just got a little more difficult. You happy Brett Bielema? I’m going to stay on his case all season.

The Razorbacks are 0-3 since Bielema called out the Buckeyes schedule.

Buckeyes in the NFL (week 2)

Roby returned the fumble for a TD to complete the Broncos stunning comeback. Photo Credit: AP photo/Ed Zurga

It was a big weekend in the NFL for OSU Alumns. Especially on defense where a couple of Former Silver Bullets made the biggest splashes in week two.

Thursday night Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby returned a Jamaal Charles fumble 21 yards for a touchdown with 27 seconds in the fourth quarter to break a 24-24 tie against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sunday, the former Silver Bullets duo of Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier, led a much maligned Steelers defense after their poor performance in the season opener at the New England Patriots, to victory in Pittsburgh.

Heyward had 5 (4 solo) tackles and a sack of Colin Kaepernick, while Ryan Shazier was the star of the game for the Steelers D with 11 (7 solo) tackles, 1 sack and a fumble recovery to help the Steelers get their first win of 2015, 43-18 over San Francisco.

In that same game, Carlos Hyde of the 49ers came back down to earth after his career night on Monday. He only had 43 yards on 14 carries, and 4 catches for 18 yards before leaving the game with a leg contusion.

Another Buckeye duo helped the Carolina Panthers move to 2-0. Wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey “Philly” Brown each caught at touchdown from Cam Newton to help the Carolina Panthers beat the Houston Texans 24-17. Ginn Jr. caught 4 passes for 41 yards, while Brown caught 3 passes for 57 yards.

Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns also represented well for the former Silver Bullets. He had 8 (4 solo) tackles and half a sack to help the Browns cool off Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, beating them 28-14.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner of the Miami Dolphins, just got promoted from the practice squad this week and caught two passes, one of them a 5 yard touchdown in the Dolphins 23-20 loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kicker Mike Nugent scored 6 points on 3 extra points and one field goal to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers 24-19. The Bengals are 2-0 and in first place of the AFC North division.

Monday night, 4 more Buckeyes face off when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets; running back Boom Herron and offensive lineman Jake Mewhort for the Colts, center Nick Mangold and rookie wide receiver Devin Smith of the Jets.