I Apologize! More Blog Posts Will Be Up Soon!

Like usual, my thank you comes with an adorable picture. You're welcome (and THANK YOU!).

Like usual, my thank you comes with an adorable picture. You’re welcome (and THANK YOU!).

My first two weeks at my Public Relations agency have been brutal and I am wrapping up the end of my internship with Folio Weekly so I have been swamped. I love it, though! Believe me that I have wanted to post a blog in the last week, but I just couldn’t find the time. Now that I am getting used to the speed here and I will not have to worry about a second internship, I will be able to post like I was before.

That being said, I had one of the big stories in this week’s issue of Folio Weekly. It is about a disco and dance club owned by a very successful hair stylist in St. Augustine, Fla. He owns the building and it is literally half hair salon and half dance club. How cool is that? I’m very excited about getting my article in the actual paper. If you want to see the web version of it, go here.

I thank all of you for sticking by me. I have so much more knowledge and ideas to share with you. I just need the time to sit down and put it on here. Have a great day.

-Marty F. Nemec

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Game of the Week- Week 7(CFB)(Poll)

#13 Oklahoma (3-1) vs. #15 Texas (4-1)

Last week, I picked Georgia and was slapped in the face. I’ve eaten my crow with a side of garlic au gratin mashed potatoes and I’m ready to redeem myself (hopefully). Ninth-ranked LSU against third-ranked South Carolina was certainly deserving of the “Game of the Week,” despite my strong belief that LSU should be ranked lower. However, I went with tradition and picked a game not quite as good in the rankings column, but one that certainly will make up for that in emotions and bitter hatred for one another. Of course, I’m talking about the “Red River Rivalry.”

The series began in 1900 and has grown to be one of the most exciting rivalries in college football, rivaling even “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan, “The Iron Bowl” between Alabama and Auburn, and the Army-Navy game. At least one of the two teams have been ranked in the top-25 for 61 of the last 66 meetings and this year is no different as both teams hold top-15 rankings. Texas holds an all-time record of 59-42-5 over Oklahoma, but many of the wins were before Oklahoma was competitive in football. Since 1945, Texas just holds a two-win lead over Oklahoma 33-31-5.

Oklahoma has been a tale of two worlds. There is the dominating Oklahoma team that crushed undefeated Texas Tech 41-20, led by quarterback Landry Jones, who passed for 259 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 62.5 percent of his passes. The running game, while not great, did rack up 121 yards and was playing against a Texas Tech defense that specialized against the run. On the other side of the spectrum, there is the Oklahoma team that lost 24-19 against Kansas State. Landry Jones threw an interception and lost a fumble, which were two of three extremely costly turnovers in a one-possession game. His one touchdown also was much less than Oklahoma needed from him. Outside of the turnovers, Jones moved the ball well, compiling 298 passing yards, but couldn’t get the ball into the end zone outside of one drive. The running game also failed to reach 100 yards (89 yards), but Dominique Whaley did average 5.6 yards per carry and would have helped more had Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops decided to run him more than nine attempts. Running back Blake Bell also was able to get into the end zone on a three-yard run.

The thing that most people fail to see is that although they aren’t as good as many predicted, the Oklahoma Sooners are still very good. With even one less turnover in that Kansas State game, they would most likely be undefeated right now. Kansas State is also undefeated and ranked sixth in the country. Oklahoma’s loss is much better than Florida State’s or USC’s, both teams that are ranked higher than Oklahoma. Even with the disappointment, Jones has passed for 1,032 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has completed 63.3 percent of his passes and moves down the field with ease before stalling in the red zone. A few coaching decisions or a “coming-of-age” by one of the Sooners’ running backs can change that. Oklahoma running back Damien Williams has rushed for 341 yards, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. He is productive, but the numbers do lie a bit because of the ridiculous stats he posted against UTEP and Florida A&M. The Oklahoma scoring defense also ranks 20th in the nation, allowing only 16 points per game. Kansas State scored 35 points or more against all four teams that aren’t Oklahoma. It scored 51 or more points against three of those four teams as well. Oklahoma allowed only 24 points against the Wildcats. Oklahoma remains a threat in the Big-12 race and it would be foolish to write them off already.

Texas isn’t too shabby, either. Texas has been a surprise team, mainly because quarterback David Ash was pretty mediocre last year, passing for four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Also, young inexperienced skill-position players have plagued Texas ever since former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and wide receiver Jordan Shipley left. Also, having two young quarterbacks(Ash and Case McCoy) taking part in a dual-quarterback offense wasn’t helping. Well, after a great off-season, Ash has passed for 1,276 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception, becoming the leader of Texas’s offense. The Texas running game has been productive as well with running back Joe Bergeron rushing for 300 yards and nine touchdowns and Malcolm Brown rushing for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Both running backs are averaging over four yards per carry. Altogether, the offense is ranked sixth in the nation, scoring an unbelievable 46.8 points per game. The Longhorns are even better when you consider that their one loss is to fifth-ranked West Virginia, who is led by Heisman front-runner Geno Smith and sports the fifth-ranked scoring offense and second-ranked passing offense.

Marty’s pick

This was a touch choice for me (they always are!). The bettors in Vegas have Oklahoma winning by three points.

Texas’s biggest weakness is one that has been made obvious for consecutive weeks now. The Longhorns’ defense has been abysmal to say the least, allowing an average of 26.4 points per game (ranked 67th nationally). After allowing 17 points against Wyoming, then pitching a shutout against New Mexico, the burnt orange defense has been scorched (see what I did there?). Against three teams from BCS-eligible conferences, they have given up 31, 36 and 48 points. Texas’s offense bailed them out in two of those games and got wins, but it is simply not sustainable against talented teams with good defenses. Oklahoma is one of those teams. Also, take this last point with a grain of salt because as I say this, West Virginia is proving me wrong. They have a worse defense and are still undefeated, but let’s wait until the end of the season until we give out any trophies.

Oklahoma’s biggest problem is the fact that Landry Jones disappears in most big games (see this post for a detailed analysis on that). Unfortunately, as big games are concerned, Jones does show up when Texas is involved. In three games against Texas, including one against the Colt McCoy-led team in 2009, Jones has passed for 853 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. One touchdown and both interceptions came as a freshman against that 2009 Texas team that went 13-1, losing in the National Championship. This rivalry brings out the best in Jones and he embraces the emotions of it, something Ash may not be experienced enough to do.

I like Texas’s offense. I believe it is good enough to win any game on any day, but their high-scoring, no-defense playing style is not sustainable. Oklahoma has made a living off of shutting down the flashy all-offense teams of the Big-12 for years. The funny thing is that Texas did the same thing along with Oklahoma. Texas coach Mack Brown is usually known for strong defenses with great quarterback pressure. Times are changing, I suppose. I think this will be a close game, but I have to go with what I feel is a more complete team. Boomer Sooner.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 4-2

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 6(CFB)(POLL)

I don’t have much time so I apologize if this isn’t as in-depth as normal. I also have to eat crow and admit my Georgia pick turned out to be a terrible call. South Carolina manhandled the Bulldogs and proved its defense is one of the best in the nation.

1. Oregon State coach Mike Riley is the front-runner for the “Coach of the Year” award.

Oregon State was beyond awful last year. It began the year with an overtime loss to Sacramento State, an FCS school that finished 4-7. After that loss, they were on the wrong side of a 35-0 drubbing by Wisconsin, and it didn’t get much better as the season went on. That Oregon State team would finish the season 3-9, with eight of those losses coming by nine points or more. The team wasn’t competitive against any ranked teams and finished the season with the second-worst record in the Pac-12 behind Colorado.

This year the Beavers are in the top 10 and are 4-0. In fact, if their first game against Nicholls State hadn’t been postponed, the Beavers would be 5-0. Oregon State has already beaten two ranked teams and has the eighth-ranked passing offense up to this point in the season. The defense also has played well and is allowing 17 points per game, which is good enough to have it ranked 24th in the nation. Oregon State’s schedule puts it in a great position to go at least 10-2, with the two losses being 17th-ranked Stanford and 2nd-ranked Oregon. USC isn’t on the schedule and it is hard to see this team not playing well enough this season to deserve the award after a 3-9 season.

This is not a one-team race, however. Florida, Northwestern, Louisville, and Texas A&M deserve praise as well, to name a few.

2. Notre Dame will probably be going to a BCS bowl at worst this season.

Notre Dame was off most people’s radars this season, as shown by their non-top-25 ranking at the start off the season. Notre Dame has been a team that starts hot, then falls apart halfway through the season for years. With what was easily the hardest schedule in the country at the start of the season, it wasn’t difficult for most people to blow them off. After signature wins against (at the time) 10th-ranked Michigan State and 18th-ranked Michigan, it was apparent that this Fighting Irish team was special. Miami, who was blown out 52-13 by Kansas State, seemed to have found their identity after quarterback Stephen Morris broke the ACC single game passing yards record as he threw for 566 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Notre Dame welcomed that Miami team to their stadium with a 41-3 beatdown.

Notre Dame has the second-best scoring defense in the nation, allowing only 7.8 points per game. The offense has been more than enough to win games, but games against three ranked teams await the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame plays Stanford (17th) this weekend, then two weeks later plays Oklahoma (13th). For the last game of the season, it will play USC (11th). It is possible for Oklahoma and USC to be back in the top-10 before those games. Regardless of what happens, I expect this to be a good season for these crazy Catholics.

3. Alabama and Oregon are true front-runners in the National Championship race.

When the season started, most experts ranked the “front-runners” that had the best chance of going to the National Championship nearly the same. LSU, Georgia, and Arkansas were three of the five SEC teams in the top-10. Oklahoma and Texas were two of the three teams expected to lead the Big 12. The Big Ten had Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Nebraska. The Pac 12 had USC ranked first in the nation. The ACC had Florida State and Clemson, expected to compete for the NC, and Virginia Tech was sitting at sixteenth, expected to maybe have a shot because they always find a way to win the ACC.

Every single one of those teams has lost after six games.

The top team is Alabama, who was ranked second at the start of the season. After the Crimson Tide is Oregon, who started ranked fifth and was expected to make a run at the national title.

From there, it gets ridiculous.

In third is a South Carolina team that started the season picked to be the fourth-best SEC team and was sitting at ninth in the nation. Florida is fourth and they were barely ranked in the preseason poll, starting 23rd. Fifth is West Virginia who started ranked 11th and is followed by a Kansas State team who started 22nd. Seventh-ranked Notre Dame and 10-ranked Oregon State didn’t even start the season ranked. Eighth-ranked Ohio State started as the fifth-best team in the Big Ten and was 18th. The championship race has been blown open and is full of teams nobody thought would be good. This is why I love college football.

4. Georgia wasn’t a top-five team.

Top-five teams lose. It does happen. Not all teams get the luxury of going undefeated in a season. Usually, most of the top-five teams in the final poll have to climb their way back up the poll and win a tough BCS bowl against another desperate team in the same position.

Top-five teams sometimes get punched in the mouth early in the game. South Carolina scored on its first two possessions. Meanwhile, Georgia suffered an interception and a three-and-out on its first two drives, then watched their punt get run back for a 70-yard touchdown by South Carolina’s Ace Sanders for a 21-0 Gamecock lead. That has happened before to top-five teams.

What top-five teams don’t do is give up. Georgia gave up and checked out of the game. In the second quarter, Georgia mounted an 80-yard drive and sucked up momentum, but had the drive end on a missed fourth-down conversion. Instead of using the success of that drive to lift the team, Georgia’s offense crumbled. After giving up 21 points in the first 10 minutes(7 to special teams), Georgia would only give 14 points to South Carolina for the remaining 50 minutes. In that time, Georgia did nothing outside of that 80-yard drive, except for a gimme touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game. Although the Bulldog defense did allow South Carolina to mount a nine minute drive in the fourth quarter, it honestly played its heart out. Everyone knew the defense was not the strength of this team. The offense would have to outscore South Carolina and that offense basically left the game after the opening 10 minutes.

Georgia, who seemingly had the talent to compete with South Carolina and still might, was blown away in every statistical category. Its respected offense only produced 224 yards and seven points. Georgia better get motivated if coach Marc Richt doesn’t want to get back on the hot seat because a game against fourth-ranked Florida is coming soon.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 6(CFB)(Poll)

#5 Georgia(5-0) vs. #6 South Carolina (5-0)

After a lackluster week five, week six brings three matchups that feature top-11 teams. (11)Texas vs. (8)West Virginia and (4)LSU vs. (10)Florida were deserving, and no game is bigger than Georgia vs. South Carolina.

This game is very close on paper, matching a great offense against a great defense. Both teams have had games that were closer than expected and only one ranking separates the two teams in the AP poll. This will be a pivotal match-up between the two SEC East powers that were expected to compete for the division(although Florida has unexpectedly asserted itself as a third contender). The winner of this game will be on the fast-track to the SEC championship, especially if it is Georgia because it doesn’t have to play LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, or Texas A&M from the SEC West. South Carolina will have to face LSU. Both teams will play Florida down the road.

Georgia comes into this game ranked fifth in the nation with an offense ranked eighth, racking up 40.2 points and 536 yards per game. That offense is led by the unbelievable freshman running back tandem of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Gurley and Marshall together have combined for 14 touchdowns and 964 yards. Both of these youngsters are averaging 7.9 yards per carry or better and they have really turned into something the Bulldogs can rely on. Not to be outdone, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is sitting sixth on ESPN’s Heisman Watch. He has completed 68.2 percent of his passes and has thrown his way to 1370 yards and 12 touchdowns, with only 3 interceptions. The defense hasn’t been good by any means, but it is holding teams to an average of 22 points per game, which is low enough for the Bulldog offense to outscore.

South Carolina boasts one of the best defenses in college football. The Gamecock defense ranks sixth in the league in scoring defense. Not only has the defense been capable of holding opponents to an average of 11.2 points per game, it also ranks second in sacks and has accumulated 22 sacks in five games(that’s 4.4 sacks per game)! If that stat doesn’t show South Carolina’s ability to run through offensive lines, maybe their ninth-place ranking in total tackles for loss(8.4 per game) will do the trick. South Carolina also has the seventh-best rush defense in the league, allowing 77.6 rushing yards per game. That rush defense will be necessary in slowing down Georgia’s talented running backs. The South Carolina offense is much weaker than Georgia’s but is also led by a productive running game. Marcus Lattimore has rushed for 440 yards and 8 touchdowns, which isn’t too impressive compared to what he is capable of, but is still respectable. Lattimore is also a big back who is capable of grinding out yards on short yardage plays and has proven his ability to do that year after year. Quarterback Connor Shaw has been hindered by injuries so far and started the year only passing for 174 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the first two games. Shaw returned to full health and in the last two games, he has passed for 397 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Against Missouri, he even posted a 95.2 completion percentage. He has added 203 rushing yards as well, but no rushing touchdowns. Shaw’s passing ability isn’t near some of the other quarterbacks on top-10 teams, but he can pass well when he has to, especially when his running is effective and teams have to keep a spy on him.

Marty’s pick

The betters in Vegas have South Carolina winning by 1.5 points. I’m stuck in the middle and think both teams have a legitimate chance of winning.

Georgia’s defense is a huge liability for the team. It has only held one team under 20 points and that was a Vanderbilt team whose only win is over Prebyterian, an FCS school. South Carolina will likely find success early in its running game and will score a good amount of points. Georgia’s shootout with Tennessee was embarrassing when Florida beat them by 17 points earlier in the season. Georgia also had three freebie touchdowns in that game coming in the form of 50-plus yard rushing touchdowns and would have probably lost without them. South Carolina won’t give up plays like that, certainly not three of them. Georgia has had 43 plays over 20 yards and 22 plays over 30 yards, so they live off of big plays. This is exciting to watch and it means they can score a touchdown on any play, but it also isn’t a good style to play in when you’re going against a disciplined defense.

South Carolina’s offense is just as suspect as Georgia’s defense. The Gamecock offense hasn’t played against a defense ranked in the top-45 and still found a way to be held to 17 points against one of them(Vanderbilt). If anyone remembers that game, South Carolina was given the win on a horribly missed pass interference call at the end of the game on Vanderbilt’s final drive. It is true that Shaw was injured for part of that game, but a team that lost 48-3 to Georgia shouldn’t have challenged South Carolina until the end of the game. Inconsistent quarterback play has been South Carolina’s problem for the last couple years and I honestly am not ready to throw confetti in the air and proclaim Shaw has found the secret to being an elite quarterback. The revered South Carolina defense has only played one offense ranked in the top-95 in terms of scoring offense(Missouri). The only team South Carolina has played with a passing offense or rushing offense ranked in the top-50 is UAB, who ranks 28th in passing yards per game. South Carolina has built amazing defensive stats against some very sorry offenses.

Once again, this decision is very hard for me. South Carolina has not been tested and it’s impossible to tell just how good its defense is. The Gamecock offense also hasn’t proven to me that it can compete against an elite offense like Georgia’s. However, the truth of the matter is that South Carolina plays disciplined defense and is very good at pressuring opposing teams’ quarterbacks. If South Carolina’s defense is anywhere neat as good as its stats suggest, this could be a very long day for Aaron Murray.

Georgia lives life on the edge with its high scoring offense and sleepwalking defense, but I like Murray’s chances in figuring out South Carolina’s defense compared to Shaw not beating himself with bad decisions. Lattimore is off a step or two this season and Shaw will have to make very important passes through the course of the game. I think the game will come down to a touchdown or less and these teams’ strengths and weaknesses really do cancel each other out on paper. Georgia knows it has only one more tough game after this one to get to the SEC Championship and coach Mark Richt’s behind has been roasting on the “hot seat” for far too long to give up this potential 11 or 12 win season.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 4-1

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 5(CFB)(POLL)

1. The SEC’s giant group of undefeated teams in the top-ten may not be as good as advertised.

On the first glance, it appears the SEC has already dominated the college football world again because they have five teams in the AP poll’s top-ten. However, this simple glance doesn’t show the struggles these teams have gone through. The SEC is the best conference so far(big surprise, right?), but the conference is not as head and shoulders above everyone else as the rankings make it appear to be.

Alabama has earned their place at the top of the country and the conference. Although Ole Miss gave them a better run than most people expected, it can be excused. However, the top-ten ranked win against Michigan has lost almost all of it’s value, as Big Blue has spiraled downward. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has already thrown eight interceptions and has looked as bad at passing as he ever has. With Arkansas plummeting into oblivion, Bama’s schedule really doesn’t feature many tough games. It’s weird to say, but Alabama’s schedule appears to be one of the easiest schedules of any top-ten team, including the other SEC teams. Despite all of this, Alabama deserves their spot as the top team. I won’t argue against them.

The fourth-ranked LSU Tigers have been a hot mess, as I’ve pointed out before on this column. The lucky winner of the “What terrible team will challenge LSU this weekend?” for week five was Towson, an FCS school that lost to Kent State 41-21 earlier in the season. If Kent State sounds familiar to any SEC fans, that’s because lowly Kentucky steamrolled them 47-14. Kentucky followed that big win with an overtime loss to the Sun Belt conference’s Western Kentucky, then a 38-0 shutout loss to the Florida Gators. Towson was beating LSU with five minutes left in the second quarter before LSU remembered it was supposedly the third-best team in the nation. The LSU offense has been very inconsistent and it can’t seem to find a sustainable way to produce yards and points. Les Miles is a great coach and there is a good chance LSU will fix its problems by the end of the year. The only problem is that LSU plays 10th-ranked Florida this weekend and an upset loss is very possible.

Georgia, the fifth-ranked team in the country, has showed an alarming lack of defense up to this point in the season. Tennessee, a team Florida beat 37-20, gave Georgia all it could chew in a 51-44 shootout. Also, the 1-4 Florida Atlantic Owls scored 20 points against Georgia. FAU had only mustered 17 points against their four other opponents which include Middle Tennessee, North Texas, and FCS team Wagner. The defense started the season injured and doesn’t appear to be getting better. However, the Georgia offense looks phenomenal, especially the rushing attack. Running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, both freshman, are averaging 7.9 yards per carry or better. They have a combined 14 rushing touchdowns. In the Tennessee game, Marshall ran for two 70-plus yard touchdowns and Gurley added a 51-yard touchdown of his own. With the success of the running game, don’t sleep on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He has passed for 1,370 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Factor in the 68.2 completion percentage and this an offense that can score. With this kind of team, being upset any week is a real possibility, and Georgia will have to grow up quickly on defense in time for this weekend’s showdown with sixth-ranked South Carolina.

Sixth-ranked South Carolina has been troubled at the quarterback position, which is a familiar sight, but has been instilling its authority with a strong rushing attack led by Marcus Lattimore and a smothering defense. Lattimore’s numbers are a bit lower than expected(nowhere near Heisman consideration) but he still has the ability to muscle his way through short yardage situations. He is averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has rushed for 440 yards and eight touchdowns. The defense is the gem of the team and is ranked sixth in the country, allowing only 11.2 points per game. Injuries have forced South Carolina to play both Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson at the quarterback position. The result is both having five touchdowns and 500-plus yards each. Shaw, the starter, has worse stats with five touchdowns and two interceptions, but in his defense, Thompson racked 507 of his 510 yards and all five touchdowns(no interceptions) against cupcakes East Carolina and UAB. I question the offense’s ability to outscore elite teams and South Carolina will get its chance to prove me wrong when it plays fifth-ranked Georgia this weekend.

Last on the list is 10th-ranked Florida. I have nothing bad to say about the Gators. Not only have they completely earned their ranking, but no one in the country expected them to reach the top-ten after last season. Florida coach Will Muschamp has made an amazing turnaround and has seemingly fixed the quarterback situation that plagued the blue and orange residents of the Swamp for all of last season. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has done enough on offense, passing for 698 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Running back Mike Gillislee has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and has rushed his way to 402 yards and five touchdowns. It is very possible that Gillislee would still lead the SEC in rushing yards had Florida not already taken a bye-week.

Although, it isn’t in the top-ten, I’d like to congratulate Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen for having his squad undefeated and ranked 20th after five weeks of football. With favorable games against Kentucky, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State could potentially be 7-0 when they face Alabama on Oct. 27. No one expected a good season out of the Bulldogs at the beginning of this season.

2. Ohio State might be the front-runner of the Big Ten.

Ohio State held a 4-0 record at the start of the weekend and was the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten conference, yet there was plenty of reasons for doubt. The Buckeyes hadn’t played a great defense or a ranked team. Their defense looked lacking and had been burned by almost every running back it had faced. People questioned its ability to stop an elite running back. The offense had been inconsistent and struggled to move the ball for portions of games, even against California and UCF. Everyone recognized that Ohio State was getting better each week, but many didn’t think they’d get good enough to compete with the “big boys” of the Big Ten conference. Ohio State is far from the Buckeyes team during the 2000’s that dominated the conference and played in a BCS bowl almost every year.

Then came a 17-16 win over the 20th-ranked Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State had allowed 11 points per game and had a running back who ranked second in the country in total rushing yards. It was the ultimate test for this erratic team and it was a test the bettors in Vegas didn’t think they would pass. Ohio State traded their high scoring, little defending style for a physical, defense-oriented style and ground out a close win. Now, they are ranked 12th in the nation.

With 21st ranked Nebraska and Wisconsin already losing against unranked teams, Ohio State appears to be in the driver’s seat. Nebraska defeated Wisconsin by coming back from 17 points down in a thriller of a game. Nebraska faces Ohio State next and the winner of that game will most likely be the best team in the Big Ten. Ohio State is ineligible to play for the Big Ten Championship, but the rest of the conference will know, despite who holds the trophy, that Ohio State is the real champion if they beat Nebraska and continue that success to the end of the season. The 24th ranked Northwestern(5-0) and Purdue(4-1) are surprise teams that could potentially get their hands in the Big Ten title race, so keep an eye on them.

3. Offense owns college football at this point of the season.

Last year, it appeared the offensive teams were in short supply. Outside of Oklahoma State, Oregon, Arkansas, and Michigan, there weren’t many all-offense teams ranked highly. This year, only six of the top-15 teams in the AP poll are ranked in the top-20 in scoring defense. Six of those remaining nine teams aren’t even in the top-30! To put it in perspective, the average scoring defense ranking of the top-15 teams is 29th. If you’re wondering how it got so bad, you can thank West Virginia(96th) and Clemson(67th) for dropping the ball(duh-duh-ksss!) defensively. This year definitely looks primed to give the viewers some amazing shootouts and probably produce more NFL quarterback prospects than last year. The Heisman race will be very fun to watch. Geno Smith is running at a full sprint towards it right now, but there are some great quarterbacks and offensive schemes that could put them in a position to catch him.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 5(CFB)(Poll)

#14 Ohio State(4-0) vs. #20 Michigan State (3-1)

This game has boggled my mind more than any match-up I’ve done for GOTW so far. Both teams are underperforming in their own respective ways. Both teams have flashes of brilliance on offense and it’s hard to determine what team will show up on Saturday.

Michigan State looks like a team from the 1980’s. It lives by its defense and rushing attack. The Spartan defense has played against two ranked teams(Notre Dame is #10) and it is still the eleventh best defense in the league, allowing just 11.8 points per game. Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell’s 610 rushing yards ranks him second in the nation and first in the Big Ten conference. He has averaged 5.2 yards per carry and that’s after playing the Notre Dame defense that ranks fourth in the country. Michigan State has only won once in the last seven games against the Buckeyes and also holds an all-time losing record against them(12-27), but the Spartans won last year’s meeting 10-7. This Buckeye squad is still searching for an identity after the NCAA sanctions threw the team into disarray. Michigan State knows what it has to do: play solid defense and ride Bell while on offense.

Ohio State is the higher ranked team in this game but don’t let that distract you from their problems. The Buckeyes have played inconsistently in every game this season. At times, the Buckeyes offense rivals Oregon’s in terms of sheer dominance and production, but then at other times, it can’t get a first down in consecutive drives. It is obvious first-year Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a plan, but the Buckeyes don’t seem interested in carrying it out every play. Despite the inconsistency, Ohio State still averages 37.8 points and 229.3 rushing yards per game. Despite Bell’s crazy production from the running back position for MSU, Ohio State gets more rushing yards per game because of mobile quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller has already equaled his rushing touchdowns in the 2011 season(7) in only four games. As a passer, Miller is also more accurate than Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell, passing for a 61.2 completion percentage compared to Maxwell’s 56.6 percent. Miller’s seven passing touchdowns and two interceptions also blow Maxwell’s three touchdowns and three interceptions away. Ohio State running back Jordan Hall also averages 5.6 yards per carry. When the Ohio State offense is on, it is nearly unstoppable.

Marty’s pick

Ohio State’s weakness is undoubtedly its offense, which ranks last in the Big Ten and gives up an average of three touchdowns per game. Ohio State’s opponents have found success when they run to the outside and stretch the defense across the field. Ohio State’s front four actually has had success stopping runs that aim straight up the middle. Le’Veon Bell isn’t known for his dancing and outside runs. He lowers his shoulder and runs through the middle of the defensive line, relying on his strength and the play of his offensive line. This bodes well for the Buckeyes, but their defense has been gashed so many times this year, it’s impossible to think Ohio State will shut the Spartans down. It will probably be a shootout.

Michigan State’s offense is very one-sided due to first-year quarterback, Maxwell, and its inexperienced receiving corps. Maxwell hasn’t been able to make important passes and the offense doesn’t seem to move unless it is through Bell. Ohio State will be able to stack the box and force Maxwell to pass his way to a win. This game will either be a horrible showing by Maxwell or a “coming-of-age party” for the young quarterback.

Vegas has Michigan State picked to win by three points and I can see why it is that way. This Buckeye defense is not a defense worthy by Ohio State standards. I don’t think enough people are talking about this one-dimensional Spartan offense and whether it can keep up with Ohio State. I also think Braxton Miller’s running ability is a wildcard that Michigan State’s defense has not had to face yet this season. Call me crazy, but I have faith in Meyer’s ability to coach and I think he has saved some tricks and treats for this game. This is his first conference game in the Big Ten and the outcome will affect everyone’s opinion of him. He will want to desperately win this game.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 3-1

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 4(CFB)(POLL)

1. Oklahoma wasn’t a National Championship contending team with QB Landry Jones.

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones looked like he would pick up right where former quarterback Sam Bradford left off. As a sophomore in 2010, Jones threw for 4,718 yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also completed 65.6 percent of his passes that year. Oklahoma fans thought of the success he would have in his junior and senior years. Surely, he’ll keep getting better and maybe win a Heisman trophy or National Championship!

His junior year came and his numbers dropped sharply. He only had 29 touchdowns and his interceptions rose to 15. His yardage dropped to 4,463. The most important thing that happened during that season, however, was that his biggest weakness was exposed. He disappears against competition. Against Florida State, Baylor and Oklahoma State(three of the five ranked teams OU played in 2011), Jones had a combined one touchdown and five interceptions. He became a quarterback that dished out yards, but not points. He became a quarterback that made his team settle for field goals when the competition was scoring touchdowns.

One year later, his production has dropped even more. After three games, Jones has 772 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. That puts him on a pace to finish the season with 3,088 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. That’s a far cry from the expected National Championship run. His team has already lost to Kansas State, a team Oklahoma beat by 41 points last year, and is already seemingly eliminated from the national title race. There is certainly time to fix this season, but the fact that his stats are this average after playing UTEP and Florida A&M as two of his first three games is disconcerting.

2. Florida State’s path to the National Championship will be paved by its offense, not its defense.

Florida State allowed just a field goal in its first three games, which included ACC foe(and annual nuisance to FSU) Wake Forest. The FSU defense had the luxury of playing Savannah State, but holding Wake Forest to 126 yards was very impressive. This team appeared to live by its defense, just like it has for years, due to a lacking offense(although in former quarterback Christian Ponder’s case, it was due to injuries). FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has been a capable quarterback for his career at FSU, but his passing has always been suspect. Anytime Florida State faced a good team, Manuel’s passing seemed to disappear and he’d develop a tendency to hold the ball too long. Last year, Manuel was sacked 33 times, which averages out to roughly three sacks a game. That’s ridiculous.

At this point in the season, it is obvious that every prediction that could be made from the last paragraph is wrong. The vaunted FSU defense was shredded for 37 points by a team that mustered only 26 points against Auburn(1-3) and 41 points, roughly the same amount FSU allowed, against Furman(an FCS school). On the other hand, Manuel is passing on a Heisman level with 905 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception. Manuel is also completing over 73 percent of his passes and his passer rating of 180.2 has him ranked eleventh in the country. FSU running back Chris Thompson is also averaging more yards(10.8) per carry than other running back ranked in the top-40. This is a potent offense that ranks second in the nation in points per game and would be scary for any defense to go against. Funny sidenote: Both Florida State and Oklahoma State(the first-ranked team in points per game) played against Savannah State, who is thought by many to be the worst team in the FCS and has won only four games in the last three years.

With a schedule that features one ranked team in its remaining eight games, Florida State is expected to finish the year undefeated. Its postseason hopes will be at the mercy of the other undefeated teams because FSU’s schedule will lose in almost any comparison to an undefeated SEC or Pac-12 team. With EJ Manuel’s newfound passing ability and an easy schedule, FSU could potentially make a run at both a National Championship and a Heisman trophy this year. Florida State’s defense may not be the smothering entity the country has been accustomed to, but the offense is fine with that.

3. LSU is not a top-five team.

The LSU Tigers squeaked by with a 12-10 win over Auburn, who was 1-2 and lost to Mississippi State by 18 points. Even worse, Auburn gave up 28 points to Louisiana Monroe, a team from the Sun Belt conference, and had to go to overtime to win. LSU is not even the third best team in the SEC, much less the entire conference. In all honesty, Mississippi State has a strong claim to be ranked higher than LSU, and that’s not even counting Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. The fact that LSU received a first place vote in both the AP and Coaches Poll shows what kind of imbeciles decide who the best teams in the country are. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself here and here. LSU is lucky to be in the top-10 and they certainly are not of the five best teams in the country as the season stands now. LSU will have plenty of chances to prove it deserves its ranking starting two weeks from now when it plays the eleventh-ranked Florida Gators.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Game of the Week- Week 4(CFB)(Poll)

#4 Florida State(3-0) vs. #10 Clemson (3-0)

Clemson comes into this game as an underdog, but the Tigers are no strangers to knocking off the Seminoles. Clemson has won six of the last nine games against FSU, including last year’s match-up, which derailed FSU’s hopes for an ACC championship. In that game, the 21st-ranked Clemson Tigers racked up 443 total yards(344 yards passing) against an FSU defense that was supposed to be on another level. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins torched FSU’s secondary with a 144-yard performance on only seven receptions. The Clemson defense, which didn’t show up for many other games, made FSU’s weak running game completely disappear(29 rushing yards). FSU was heavily favored in that game as they are now. This year’s Clemson squad, has taken a step back perhaps, but quarterback Tajh Boyd has averaged 249 passing yards per game, while completing 73.3% of his passes. Boyd added six touchdowns and only one interception to go along with them. Clemson running back Andre Ellington is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and has four touchdowns and will complement a very potent passing attack. This offense will score when given opportunities.

This Florida State squad is better than last year’s, unfortunately for Clemson. Over the course of three games, FSU has only given up a field goal. FSU running back James Wilder Jr. is averaging 6.9 yards per carry with four touchdowns and Chris Thompson is averaging a sky-high 14.1 yards per carry with three touchdowns. This rushing tandem will be sure to make up for last year’s pathetic showing. Quarterback E.J. Manuel matched Boyd’s touchdowns and interceptions but had less passing yards. The quarterback comparison isn’t fair, though, because Clemson has played tougher competition than Florida State, so Boyd probably has the advantage. Florida State comes into this game with the first-ranked defense and the second-ranked offense in the country. The Seminoles are thinking of a National Championship and they want to show Clemson and the rest of the world why.

Marty’s pick

Clemson has won six of the nine most recent games against FSU, as stated earlier, but they have won only one game played in Tallahassee out of the last ten. Clemson will have to overcome very brutal odds if they want to upset the Seminoles in their own stadium. Also, Clemson’s defense has been playing under par, giving up 19 points to Auburn(who was taken to overtime against LA Monroe) and 24 points to Ball State. Florida State is going to find success in the running game early and they are going to throw it at Clemson consistently for the entire game. The running game will also give Manuel success from the playaction, which will find multiple wide-open receivers on deep throws.

Florida State already gave Wake Forest a through beat-down for having the audacity to beat them last year. Expect the Seminoles to extend the invitation to Clemson as well. FSU by double digits.

WINNER:



Agree? Disagree? Have your own prediction? Let me know in the comments.

GOTW record: 2-1

-Marty F. Nemec

Some Things We Learned- Week 3(CFB)(POLL)

1. USC wasn’t for real.

What gave it away? Being outgained in total yards 417-280 by Stanford? Maybe it was USC’s main running back Silas Redd averaging 1.3 yards on his way to 13 pathetic yards on 17 wasted carries? Wait. Could it be that USC lost to a Stanford team that was supposed to be hopeless without top draft pick Andrew Luck? Well, sign me up for “all of the above.” I admit it. I thought they would go all of the way because of their returning talent and easy schedule. I had them in my mock National Championship and I had USC quarterback Matt Barkley winning the Heisman. Now, after that loss and Barkley completing less than 50 percent of his passes for no touchdowns and two interceptions, it appears neither one of those things will happen. The Oregon Ducks are now the team to beat in the Pac-12 conference unless pesky Stanford takes them down too.

2. Notre Dame isn’t the Top-25’s doormat this year.

“Fighting” isn’t the correct adjective for describing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s performance against ranked teams in the last 10 years. Perhaps “Awful” is a better fit. However, after a dominating 20-3 win over the tenth-ranked Michigan State Spartans, no one can discredit ND anymore. With USC’s loss and Michigan State already down, Notre Dame is looking at a slight possibility of going to a BCS bowl this year. Although Michigan and USC both lost and look way less intimidating than before, they are good teams that will challenge Notre Dame. They are also joined by the sixth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the ninth-ranked Stanford Cardinal. With a schedule that ranks as the toughest schedule in college football according to FBSchedules, I’d say Notre Dame chose the wrong year to get good again.

3. Florida State is on the fast track to the National Championship.

Florida State’s defense has only given up an average of one point per game and it has the second-ranked offense in the country scoring 58.7 points per game. FSU also has the easiest schedule out of any National Championship contender and plays only two ranked teams this year. There is also a high probability that Florida could end up unranked due to a grueling SEC schedule and that could leave FSU with only one ranked game(Clemson). I know FSU has played easy teams to compile such good stats, but it honestly doesn’t get too hard past this weekend. They play the tenth-ranked Clemson Tigers this weekend, then will have the rest of the season to prepare for the Gators in their final game. If FSU loses, it will be because it beat itself. The last two years showed FSU doesn’t handle being talked up by the media well. A loss is possible, but it would very surprising given their talent and schedule.



Agree? Disagree? Do you have another “Thing We Learned?” Let me know in the comments!

-Marty F. Nemec

Poll of the Week-Week 3(CFB)

Tell me why you think what you do in the comments below!

-Marty F. Nemec