Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top 25 Matchup: (16) Oregon @ (14) Boise State

With both teams ranked in the top 25 and the higher seed (according to the AP poll, they are flipped in the USA Today poll) at home it would seem like the smart pick would be the Boise State Broncos, but I think the Cinderella team is going to have their hands full tonight. As much as I love the Broncos I can't pick them over the Ducks tonight. It boils down to one major 'BIG' reason, 6'2" 240 lbs. senior running back LeGarrette Blount. Despite sharing time with Jeremiah Johnson last year, Blount still managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and lead the team with 17 touchdowns. Blount's size makes him a power back, but before you label him a "three yards and a cloud of dust" running back, remember he averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season. Joining Blount on offense is the dual threat junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli proved last year that he could handle the Oregon offense and really sparked the Ducks success. The Ducks weakness on offense is their receivers, but Masoli finds a way to make big plays regardless of who he's throwing the ball to.

The Broncos aren't without hope though. They return one of the most intriguing college quarterbacks in redshirted sophomore Kellen Moore. Moore last season took the college world by storm, by throwing for almost 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was extremely efficient with a completion percentage of 69.4 that led to a 157.11 QB rating (which ranked 11th in the nation). They also have a pair of quick running backs that could give the Ducks some problems on the perimeter in juniors James Avery and D.J. Harper. The Boise State defense has some weaknesses in the front 7, but their strong secondary should give Masoli fits.

Overall I think Oregon's ground game will be too much for the Broncos to handle. I don't think they have the speed to contain Masoli, or the talent up front to stop Blount. While Moore and company should keep Boise State in the game, I think Oregon's talented line backing corps will stifle the Broncos' ground game. Also I think the Ducks should be able to get solid pressure on Moore that should keep him from being the winning quarterback. I think it will be a close high scoring game overall, with the Ducks coming out ahead 38-31.

Notre Dame preview Plus Top 25

With College Football season upon us, we will be previewing the 6 BCS conferences as well as Notre Dame. We will rank each conference on how we see it finishing up, and give a little preview of why the top teams can compete for their conference title. First up we will look at Notre Dame, obviously their isn’t a conference title at stake here, but they are a top 25 team with some serious bowl aspirations. Then I’ll give my top 25 as season begins.

Notre Dame Fighing Irish

Why They Will Contend: The Irish return a very upperclassmen laden team. The Golden Domers have a top notch offensive line led by Sr tackle Sam Young. They will be blocking for 3rd year quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who looks to build upon his 3,000 yard season. Clausen will need to cut down on the interceptions, but when he does find a Notre Dame wideout he has some play makers to work with. Junior Golden Tate and sophomore Michael Floyd are two excellent receivers, and one of the best tandems in the nation. Both guys are threats to always get in the end zone any time they have the ball. On defense the Irish return six starters including three in the defensive backfield. The safety tandem of junior FS Harrison Smith and senior SS Kyle McCarthy should be the Irish’s backbone this year. Junior OLB Brian Smith is the team leader and a force from the outside.

Why They Won’t Contend: Clausen is a nice QB prospect, but he’s been a nice prospect for three years now. With the targets that he has he should be among the top 5-15 quarterbacks in the nation, but he hasn’t been anywhere close to that. His interceptions were back-breakers last season, and he will need to get them under control to take the Irish to the next level. Another issue for Notre Dame is their running game. Even though they return their top 3 rushers and have a good offensive line they averaged just over 3 yards a carry last season. On defense the Irish are solid across the board and have a lot of potential, but they will need some guys to step up. Right now they have too many athletes and not enough players, especially in the front 7.

Offensive Player to Watch: WR Michael Floyd. This could have just as easily been Golden Tate as both are incredible play makers. I think Floyd with his combination of size and speed is going to be a breakout candidate this year.

Defensive Player to Watch: OLB Brian Smith. Smith is a play maker that always is around the ball. He can play inside and outside, but looks to be a full time starter on the outside now. Smith should cause a lot of problems in the backfield for opposing teams.

Top 25:

  1. Florida
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Ohio State
  5. Mississippi
  6. USC
  7. Virginia Tech
  8. LSU
  9. Alabama
  10. Boise State
  11. Penn State
  12. Oregon
  13. Oklahoma State
  14. Georgia Tech
  15. Georgia
  16. TCU
  17. Florida State
  18. Notre Dame
  19. California
  20. Utah
  21. Nebraska
  22. BYU
  23. Pittsburgh
  24. Iowa
  25. North Carolina

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rubio Stays On The Other Side of the Pond

The Minnesota Timberwolves received troubling news yesterday with the announcement that the 5th overall pick in June's draft PG Ricky Rubio will be staying in Spain another two years. The T-wolves GM David Kahn tried to negotiate a buyout from Rubio's team DKV Joventut, but those efforts ended yesterday when Rubio was traded to FC Barcelona for cash. Under NBA rules the T-wolves couldn't offer more than $500,000 and Rubio would have been forced to pay the rest of the $8 million buyout. Now Rubio won't be free to come to the NBA until the 2011 season.

Minnesota's rebuilding efforts took a dramatic hit with the loss of the 18 year old Rubio. They'll retain his rights, but waiting two years for a player that some considered to be the 2nd best in the draft is a body blow for Minnesota. When he was drafted Rubio seemed like the perfect compliment to the Timberwolves big men F/C Al Jefferson and F/C Kevin Love. Rubio, only a teenager, is considered a very refined player, with excellent ball handling skills. Rubio was considered the 'steal of the draft' when he fell to the 5th pick, now 'robs' the Timberwolves of the savior that they were going to build their team around.

Now a move that was widely panned on draft day may come through and help save the T-wolves season. After drafting Rubio 5th overall, Minnesota took another PG Jonny Flynn with the very next pick. At the time the move seemed extremely odd, there were additional options available and Flynn was considered a true point guard just like Rubio. Flynn doesn't have the shooting ability to be a combo guard, and having them on the floor at the same time was going to be redundant. It seemed like a waste of talent and a waste of a pick, but now that redundancy still gives the T-wolves a top flight prospect at PG.

Rubio made the decision to not risk his own money now for the chance to play in the NBA and reach free agency (and the mega deal that comes with it) two years sooner. It is hard to fully fault him since if his career derailed due to injury or ineffectiveness that big pay day might never have come. Which would have meant Rubio would have given up over $7 million of his own money with nothing in return. He'll still be in the NBA by the time he is 20 and could get that pay day yet. The problem is he probably did make a mistake by not accepting the buyout. He won't ever make as much money as he would have if he came to the NBA this year, given his youth and marketability. Now Rubio is the one waiting to see if he made the right decision. Not only does the money play a factor, but also the play of Jonny Flynn. If Flynn reaches his potential Minnesota can always trade Rubio's rights to another team in two years. Rubio went from knowing the situation that he was going to, a young rebuilding team with star talent, to the unknown. The T-Wolves could trade Rubio to a worse rebuilding situation down the road. We won't know the true outcome for awhile, but right now it looks like Minnesota wasted their draft pick and Rubio wasted the chance to become the NBA's next teenage phenom.