A must win for the Sooners…

 

The early season goings on cannot be what Big 12 officials envisioned when they turned their backs on overtures to join up with other conferences during the conference realignment era.  It appears that everything has settled down nationally and the other major conferences have settled on their teams for the 2014 playoff year.  Each of those conferences are getting stronger while the Big 12 is floundering.   If the Big 12 does not turn things around in a hurry, recruits will be avoiding the Big 12 like the plague in hopes of hooking up with a conference with viable playoff aspirations. 

In spite of schedules speckled with 9 Division II opponents the conference is a smashing 21-11.  As a result, the conference must turn things around quickly and an OU win at Notre Dame has become a  must win for the conference.  While a win over the overrated Irish may not provide a huge strength of schedule jump for the Sooners, a loss to the Irish would be devastating for both the Sooners and for the conference.   With preseason contenders Texas, K-State and TCU going south in a hurry only three bono fide contenders remain.  It now appears to be up to OU, OSU and Baylor to carry the Big 12 banner and keep the conference relative this year and beyond. 

Baylor will score a ton of points against defenseless opponents, but will falter against teams that can play defense.  That leaves OU and OSU to get it done.  If OU were to stumble in South Bend, only the scandal ravaged Cowboys would remain. 

As I said many times, the Big 12 is getting what it asked for.  When the conference decided to go it alone a few years back, Big 12 officials with the agreement of OU leaders installed OSU as the conferences’ third team to go along with marquee teams OU and Texas.  Unfortunately, conference officials did not see the OSU scandal coming.  Having OSU represent the conference in its BCS bowl game would validate OSU’s scandal-ridden ways and would be an embarrassment for the conference.  

Here is the skinny for conference survival.  OU must run the table with wins over Notre Dame Saturday followed by wins over TCU and Texas.  Anything less will cause the conference to continue its downward spiral, a move that will certainly put the conference behind the 8 ball for next year’s playoff run. 

 Boomer Sooner…

2014 Recruiting Projections…

2014 Recruiting Projections…

 

The Class of 2014 recruiting season has reached its halfway point.    A review of the current team rankings can be seen by going on to the Rivals, Scout and ESPN websites.  These preliminary rankings can go a long way in providing a summer fix for avid college football fans.  It is important however to keep in mind that these rankings are based on current commitment lists and that these rankings will change dramatically by next February.   At the same time, it is fun to look at today’s lists and to envision what the final rankings may look like.  Each of these recruiting services uses their very own unique and complicated computation system to arrive at their team rankings.  For the purpose of my projections, I try to keep things simple, particularly this far away from signing day.   My first assumption in ranking teams in late July is to rank teams based on their NCAA yearly allotment of 25 players.  My next step is to use the current player average for each team.   I have noticed over the years that this system tends to produce reliable results in terms of projecting the final rankings.   For the purpose of my projections, I utilize the star ratings given to players by Rivals.     

 

Below are the Big 12 rankings based on this system.  For comparison sake, the July 25-Rivals rankings are in parenthesis.  Based on this information, Texas has not changed its system of trying to lock Texas players.  Similar to past years the Horns have jumped out early and have almost completed their 2014 recruiting class.  By using this method, the Horns are currently ranked #1 in the Big 12 and #5 in the country by Rivals and #7 by Scout.  Based on these numbers and on projections, Texas may end up edging out Oklahoma for the top spot in the conference, but I would not ake that bet to Vegas just yet.  In the end,  I expect Texas with its 21 member commitment class that currently averages out at 3.21 will possibly eke out a top 25 national finish, but I suspect that in the end, OU will beat out the Horns for the top conference spot.    Oklahoma has a lot of upside with only 11 commitments while being in on a number of top national players still left on the board.    Oklahoma’s current 3.09 average is a great start for a big finish down the road.  Many high school players still interested in the Sooners are likely waiting to see how the Sooner season plays out this year.   A surge in the rankings throughout the 2013 season is a real possibility.    Based on preliminary findings, It can be assumed that the Sooners will finish no lower than 2nd in the conference and no lower than #28 nationally.   Again, the possibility of OU edging out of Texas for Big 12 supremacy is a real possibility.   As for the rest of the conference, Kansas and West Virginia are doing better than the summer rankings would lead us to believe.  Both have commitment lists that average 3 stars.   On the other hand Baylor, the darling of recruiting boards of late will not finish in the top 35 when the dust settles; same goes for the rest of the Big 12 teams.  OSU in particular will need a big lift between now and signing day to keep its streak of top 30 classes intact.      

One last thing, with the playoff season only one year away, conference RPI’s supported by solid recruiting classes should be kept in mind.    As expected, the SEC continues to lead the way nationally with twelve (12) conference teams on target for outstanding recruiting years.   The Big Ten with eight (8) and Pac 12 with eight (8) are projected to finish the recruiting season 2nd and 3rd.   Conferences with their classes that average 3.0 or higher are listed below along with their conference sizes.   2014 realigned conferences are used for this comparison.

 

SEC = 12/14 – 86%

Pac 12 = 8/12 – 67%

Big 10 = 8/14 – 57%

Big 12 = 4/10 – 40%

ACC = 5/15 – 33%

 

Class of 2014 Rankings as of 7/24/13…

 

(Projected 2013 class rankings based on five star averages)

Big 12 (four teams rated at 3.0 and above)                  

                                                                                               

  1. (3.19)  Texas (5)                                                                                          
  2. (3.09)  Oklahoma (34)
  3. (3.00)  Kansas (55)     
  4. (3.00)  West Virginia (66)
  5. (2.88)  TCU (53)
  6. (2.71)  Kansas State (64)
  7. (2.69)  Texas Tech (26)
  8. (2.68)  Baylor (19)      
  9. (2.67)  Oklahoma state (36)     
  10. (2.60)  Iowa State (51)

               

 

SEC (twelve teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.58)  Georgia                                            
  2. (3.55)  LSU                                    
  3. (3.53)  Alabama                                          
  4. (3.50)  Texas A&M                      
  5. (3.45)  Florida                                             
  6. (3.44)  South Carolina                               
  7. (3.44)  Auburn                                             
  8. (3.30)  Tennessee                        
  9. (3.30)  Vanderbilt                       
  10. (3.22)  Kentucky                          
  11. (3.20)  Arkansas         
  12. (3.06)  Mississippi
  13. (2.69)  Mississippi state                           
  14. (2.58)  Missouri                          

 

ACC (five teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.64)  Notre Dame                     
  2. (3.50)  Clemson                                           
  3. (3.28)  Florida State                   
  4. (3.21)  Miami                                              
  5. (3.11)  Virginia
  6. (2.95)  Louisville                         
  7. (2.92)  Virginia Tech                  
  8. (2.88)  North Carolina                               
  9. (2.82)  Georgia Tech                   
  10.  (2.86)  Syracuse                                         
  11. (2.77)  NC State                                           
  12. (2.70)  Boston College                               
  13. (2.64)  Pittsburgh       
  14. (2.64)  Duke                                 
  15. (2.33)  Wake Forest                    

 

Big Ten (eight teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.50)  Michigan                         
  2. (3.36)  Ohio State       
  3. (3.23)  Penn State                       
  4. (3.17)  Northwestern                  
  5. (3.09)  Wisconsin                       
  6. (3.08)  Michigan State               
  7. (3.00)Purdue                                               
  8. (3.00) Minnesota
  9. (2.82)  Nebraska                         
  10. (2.80)  Rutgers                                             
  11. (2.71)  Maryland                        
  12. (2.67)  Illinois                                             
  13. (2.63)  Iowa                                 
  14. (2.57)  Indiana                                            

 

Pac 12 (eight teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.43)  Washington                    
  2. (3.30)  USC                                   
  3. (3.29)  Stanford                                           
  4. (3.25)  UCLA                                 
  5. (3.14)  Oregon                                             
  6. (3.11)  California
  7. (3.00)  Arizona State                  
  8. (3.00)  Utah
  9. (2.91)  Arizona            
  10. (2.86)  Colorado                         
  11. (2.75)  Oregon State                   
  12. (2.63)  Washington State                                          

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National rankings…

(Teams with player average of 3.0 or higher)

 

1.   (3.67) Notre Dame                   

2.   (3.64) LSU                                    

3.   (3.57) USC                                    

4.   (3.53) Alabama                          

5.   (3.50) Texas A&M                     

5.   (3.50) Michigan                         

5.   (3.50) Clemson          

8.   (3.48) Tennessee     

9.   (3.45) Florida                             

10. (3.43) Washington                   

11. (3.40) Georgia                           

11. (3.40) South Carolina                                             

13. (3.36) Ohio State                      

14. (3.28) Florida State 

15. (3.25) Oregon                            

15. (3.25) Auburn                            

17. (3.25) Stanford                          

17. (3.25) UCLA

19. (3.23) Penn State                     

20. (3.21) Texas                

20. (3.21) Kentucky                        

22. (3.20) Miami                              

23. (3.14) Vanderbilt                     

23. (3.14) Arkansas                         

25. (3.11) Virginia                           

25. (3.11) California                       

25. (3.11) Mississippi                     

28. (3.09) Wisconsin                      

28. (3.09) Oklahoma                      

30. (3.08) Michigan State             

31. (3.08) Northwestern              

32. (3.00) Iowa                 

32. (3.00) Utah                  

32. (3.00) Kansas                             

32. (3.00) West Virginia

32. (3.00) Arizona State

32. (3.00) Utah

32. (3.00) Minnesota      

Preseason Picks for 2013…

Preseason Picks for 2013…

Picking winners before the first snap of the year can be tricky.  It can also be a lot of fun.  To assist you with this process, I have created a consensus of opinion from six preseason publications.  Those publications include:  Athlon, Sporting News, Phil Steele, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Texas Football.   While the opinions of these forecasters vary, a consensus of opinion can go a long way in providing readers with a great starting point for the upcoming season.  Preseason prognostications tend to emphasize how a team finished the year before, a team’s returning starters, and the tradition of the football program.   A fourth factor often overlooked by these experts is the nuances of the schedule.   More about that later… 

The standard list of suspects can be found of most lists year in and year out.   In recent years the SEC will have no less than five teams on everyone’s list to go along with and one team each form the other BCS conferences.   The same goes for this year except the exclusion of the Big 12 on many preseason lists.   As a matter of fact the consensus list has Oklahoma State as its highest ranked Big 12 team at #15.   Of the six preseason publications, Phil Steele, shows the Big 12 the most love with Texas and Oklahoma State ranked #4 and # 8 respectively.    The unpredictable Phil Steele also has Florida State ranked #3, a much higher ranking than any other writer.    Steele also does not have Stanford, Texas A&M, South Carolina, ranked in his top 10 which is way outside the norm for this year.   Finally, Phil Steele shows Boise State no respect at all with a ranking of 33.  

From a personal perspective, I agree with Phil Steele and disagree with the consensus of opinion regarding Texas.   I suspect that this will be the year that Texas overcomes its “Mack” factor and puts together a solid year.   I disagree with Phil Steele’s elevation of Oklahoma State and Florida State to title status.   I believe both programs are overrated by Steele and will not finish out the year in the top 10.   As for Boise State, I believe Phil Steele is way off base here as well.   I would bet the house that the Chris Peterson will have his Broncos ready to play and that the Broncos will finish the season in the top 25 again.

Taking a look at the consensus list, I believe that Texas A&M at # 5 is rated too high.   Johnny Manziel will suffer a case of sophomoritus and drop off a bit this year.   I look for Alabama to bring Johnny Football back down to earth on September 14.    I have a better feeling about TCU, Oklahoma, and Oregon than the one presented by the consensus list.   TCU is loaded with returning starters including two quality quarterbacks not to mention a Bill Snyder-type coach in Gary Patterson.   In spite of a coaching change in Eugene, Oregon will not miss a beat as Marcus Mariota will become this year’s Johnny Manziel.   Oklahoma with its coaching shakeup will be hungrier this year and after a couple of early season losses will finish strong.  While the move may be slowed in South Bend and possibly in Dallas, the Blake Bell era will produce big results that will make the Sooners a load for anyone by the end of the year.   

Finally, it will be fun to start thinking ahead to next year and the advent of the College Football Playoff.   As mentioned earlier I take the nuances of a team’s schedule into consideration when making my picks.    With all of this in mind, I have created my top 10 end of year list along with mock end-of-year playoff system based on the RPI system that will be used by the CFP selection committee in 2014.   Remember that beginning in 2014, final four playoff teams will be given bonus points for difficulty of schedule and conference affiliation.    For SEC bashers who have grown tired of multiple SEC teams in the national championship mix each year, the new playoff system may be a good thing eventually.   Until the rest of the college football world catches up with the RPI of SEC conference and its teams, the final four playoff matchups will likely continue to consist of two SEC teams.   Unfortunately, wishful thinking and a new playoff system will not produce the changes for a while.    The Big 12 and the other conferences need to step it up to work themselves into the playoff mix.     

Preseason top 25 consensus of opinion among six preseason publications…

                               

                                                                                                               

  1.             (1.2)       Alabama                                             
  2.             (2.7)       Ohio St.                               
  3.             (4.7)       Oregon                                                
  4.             (7.0)       Stanford                                             
  5.             (6.8)       Texas A&M                                        
  6.             (7.7)       South Car.                                          
  7.             (7.8)       Louisville                                           
  8.             (7.9)       Georgia                                                               
  9.             (9.2)       Florida                                                 
  10.             (9.3)       Notre Dame                                      
  11.             (10.3)    Clemson                             
  12.             (13.0)    Florida St.                                          
  13.             (14.3)    LSU                                        
  14.             (14.7)    Michigan                                            
  15.             (15.0)    Ok. St.                                                  
  16.             (15.1)    Texas                                                   
  17.             (19.7)    Boise St.                                             
  18.             (19.8)    TCU                                       
  19.             (21.3)    Oklahoma                                          
  20.             (23.5)    Nebraska                            
  21.             (23.8)    Wisconsin                          
  22.             (24.3)    Oregon St.                                         
  23.             (24.6)    Fresno St.                           
  24.             (25.5)    Arizona St.                                         
  25.             (25.6)    Northwestern                                  

 

 

Sports Profs’ projected end of year BCS rankings…

 

  1. Ohio State
  2. Alabama
  3. Oregon
  4. Georgia
  5. Stanford
  6. Louisville
  7. Texas
  8. Stanford
  9. South Carolina
  10. Clemson

 

Based on these picks a CFP would look like this…

 

# 1 Ohio State vs. 4 Georgia

# 2 Alabama vs. # 3 Oregon

CFP Game: Ohio State vs. Alabama

 

Make your top 10 selections on the website’s comments section.