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While I was Chillin’

Football Week in Review

Football is back both in college and the pro ranks. It’s been a long dark summer. Now that we’ve had a chance to digest 48 hours of head-splitting fun, here are some things I thought of while I was chillin…

500+ yards rushing will get you fired any day of the week. When you’re at Texas, it happens as soon as the game is over…

David Wilson, Stevan Ridley, and Lamar Miller are all in the doghouse this week. Lot to prove in week 2…

Colin Kaepernick is really starting to carve out some history in San Francisco. No better place to be a historic signal caller then in the house that Joe built…

Johnny Football trucked some dude from Sam Houston St. SICKNESS APPROVED…

The Bucs found a way to make the Jets look competent again…

The Honey Badger was in effect over the weekend. Jared Cook must not have watched enough LSU games…

The Jaguars decided to take a big step towards drafting Teddy Bridgewater…

Norvana struck again by the lake in Cleveland. Choosing Weeden to make all your plays over TRich , no words…

Just when Cam was going to get his statement win, ALLRUSSELLWILSONEVERTYTHING happened…

Terrelle Pryor, HELLO…

Jadeveon Clowney’s Heisman campaign ended quicker than an Oregon Ducks scoring drive…

Baylor is AVERAGING over 700 yards a game. I don’t care who they’ve played…

And finally, we want to give a warm Sickness welcome back to Colorado WR Paul Richardson. After a tough knee injury, he’s as good as new. 2 games, 21 catches, 417 yards, 4 touchdowns. The Buffs are 2-0 after a 1-11 record last year.

Sickness Top 5

1. Bama

2. Stanford

3. Oregon

4. A&M

5. Buckeyes

Heisman Favorites

1. Tahj Boyd

2. Marcus Mariota

3. Teddy Bridgewater

4. Jameis Winston

 

 

COLLEGE SICKNESS: Things we learned in Week 5

 

 

After a quarter of the season, we’re starting to get some clarity. The national champ will come from the SEC or the Pac12. Florida State has an outside chance from the ACC, but strength of schedule may hurt them in the end. There are some wild offenses out there. New coaches are making a big impact across the country as well. What else did we learn this week?

Defense is treated like leprosy in the Big 12..

Offense, on the other hand, is alive and well in the Big 12. Oklahoma St, Baylor, and West Virgina are ranked 1-2-3 in the country…

We figured Geno Smith would put up 40+ touchdowns this year, but he almost did it all in one game..

Alabama’s defense has no peer, giving up just 7 points a game…

The Pac 12 is the 2nd best conference right now, with half of the conference ranked..

Ohio State is the best team in the Big 10 which isn’t saying much…

There will not be any BCS busting this year…

Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech are this season’s  biggest disappointment…

LSU needs to find some offense before they arrive at the Swamp on Saturday…

Georgia gave up 44 to Tennessee. They’ll need to be MUCH better when they see South Carolina this weekend…

As far as top performances from this past weekend…

 

SICKNESS APPROVED

Geno Smith. First of all, shame on those who tried to hide this game on FX Saturday morning. This was a shootout from the get go, and Geno was ready for it. His numbers so far this year are astounding. He threw 8 TDs (more than his incomplete passes,6) against Baylor’s sad excuse for a defense. To this point he’s thrown 20 touchdowns against 0 picks. There’s some serious hardware in his future.

Johnny Manziel. If you don’t already know this name, you’re slippin’. He was on his game versus that Arkansas defense. 453 yards passing and 104 yards rushing for 5 touchdowns. As a redshirt freshman, he’s showing no signs of shrinking from the moment in the SEC. Coach Sumlin has to get a lot of credit for bringing this kid along.

Kenjon Barner. He had his “remember me” moment this weekend. With all the hype surrounding his backfield mate, DeAnthony Thomas, Barner has been a bit overlooked. He shouldn’t be anymore after running through the Cougars’ defense for 195 yards and reaching the paint 3 more times. He’s more explosive than a Malatov Cocktail. This Oregon team is something else.

 

SICKNESS TOP 10

1. Alabama (5-0) Can anybody score on this defense?

2. Oregon (5-0) Actually had to play a full game this week. Rivalry game vs UW next

3. FSU (5-0) Back to the old days. Speed on offense. Kill the QB on defense.

4. LSU (5-0) Winning with no offense can only work for so long

5. South Carolina (5-0) Lattimore is rounding into form

6. Georgia (5-0) Andy Murray better be ready. Jadeveon is coming

7. WVU (4-0) 70 points was only good enough to win by 7?

8. Notre Dame (4-0) With this defense they can do big things

9. Kansas St (4-0) Bring on the Jayhawks

10. Florida (4-0) Big test this weekend versus LSU. Can Driskel keep it up?

 

Heisman Hopefuls

1. Geno Smith

2. Braxton Miller

3.  E.J. Manuel

4. Marquise Lee

5. Matt Barkley

 

 

 

 

 

COLLEGE SICKNESS: What we learned Week 2

The second week of the college football season gave us our first taste of the upset bug. Oklahoma St, Nebraska and Arkansas failed to keep their loss total at zero. The top ten didn’t have to much change to it, but there is a new top dog. What else did we learn?

UCLA is not a team to be taken lightly this year. Jim Mora has lit a fire into Bruins’ Nation after humbling the Cornhuskers.

Savannah St is finally done with their death march.

Lane Kiffin is going to try his best to get the Heisman for Matt Barkley; 6 more touchdowns this past weekend for the soon to be top 5 pick,

The Big 12 still hasn’t played a ranked team in non-conference. The Pac 12 just beat 3 this past weekend.

Jarvis Jones is an absolute beast! The SICKNESS Level is high with this one.

UW isn’t ready for primetime yet, but LSU is just as ruthless as they were a year ago.

The Ol’ Ball Coach has something brewing in Columbia.

The Black Mamba scored again while you read this. In 18 touches, he has almost 250 yards of offense and 5 TDs. Next up Tennessee Tech…

All prayers go out to Devon Walker and his family.

 

SICKNESS APPROVED

 

Johnathan Franklin. Nebraska came into the Rose Bowl expecting to see the same old Gutty Little Bruins. Instead they found the 3rd ranked rushing attack led by the running back dubbed “Jet-Ski”.  He leads the country in rushing with 431 yards. He’s led a turnaround in culture that has the Bruins ranked for the first time since 2008. Time will tell if this is going to be sustained all year long, but it looks like this is a far different team from the one that got rolled last year in the Pac 12 Title Game.

Louisiana-Monroe. We don’t want to hear any excuses from down in Hog Country. Even without Tyler Wilson, Arkansas should’ve been able to dispatch of the Warhawks.  Unfortunately, Kolton Browning didn’t read the script beforehand. He threw for 412 yards, scored the winning touchdown in OT, and gave the Warhawk faithful a memory they won’t soon forget.

Denard Robinson. This is his first appearance of the year in this section, but it’s sure to not be the last. Air Force gave the Wolverines a tough test putting up 417 yards of total offense. Their issue was that Robinson 426 yards of his own and  had 4 touchdowns (2 rushing). I’m not sure that anyone in the country can stop this guy as long as his body holds up. He’s sure to put up some more insane numbers this week with UMASS on the schedule.

 

SICKNESS Top 10

  1. LSU (2-0) They showed U-Dub what SEC football is all about
  2. Alabama (2-0) Shutout Western Kentucky, but not impressive enough to hold on to #1
  3. USC (2-0) Went east and put 42 on the ‘Cuse. Need to shore up that D.
  4. Oregon (2-0) No team in the country puts points up as fast as the Ducks
  5. Georgia (2-0) Impressive comeback win over Mizzou
  6. FSU (2-0) Savannah St? Really???
  7. Oklahoma (2-0) Preseason over. K-State and Collin Klein await
  8. South Carolina (2-0) Gamecocks are solid
  9. WVU (2-0) 2 weeks to prepare for James Madison? Air Raid in effect
  10. Michigan St (2-0) ND comes calling. Te’o vs Le’Veon

 

Heisman Leaders

  1. Matt Barkley
  2. Geno Smith
  3. De’Anthony Thomas
  4. Jarvis Jones
  5. Johnathan Franklin

COLLEGE SICKNESS: Things We Learned Week 1

 

It’s been a long 8 months since the last college football game, but the sport that we love has returned.We broke out the double TV setup as always for Super Saturday. So what did we learn from the first weekend of college football?

USC’s offensive juggernaut returned with avengence. They put the beat down on Hawaii as expected. Barkley found Marquise Lee early and often. Now that lethal offense will be watched with trepidation by the rest of the Pac 12.

In what was supposed to be the game of the day, Alabama quickly put Denard Robinson’s Heisman candidacy to rest. He looked confused all night long. Saban had his boys ready to go. All roads to the BCS title roll through Tuscaloosa

Jim Mora got his first win for the UCLA Bruins and it’s clear they have a bunch of playmakers. Question remains: Where were these guys for the last 5 years?

Oklahoma St put up 84 on Savannah St. Now the Tigers head to Tallahassee to face the Seminoles. It’s gonna be a long 2 weeks.

Marcus Lattimore is still good. So is Geno Smith.

Clemson may have a defense this season.

Oklahoma at #4 was overrated.

Boise St began the post-Moore era with a pretty good effort in East Lansing. Unfortunately, Michigan State has Le’Veon Bell. Which leads us to the season debut of…

 

SICKNESS APPROVED

 

Le’Veon Bell.  The Spartans were struggling. They were at home, trailing the Broncos, and in need of a go-to play. Coach D’Antonio found one with #24 in the backfield. They rode the 240-lb back 44 times for a total of 210 yards and 2 TDs. That’s how you get the season started! At one point, near the end of the clinching touchdown drive, Boise State’s defensive backs were resorting to ankle biting rather than form tackling. Physical running like that will always get you on this list.

Marquise Lee.  Originally he was left off the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. If he continues to perform the way he did on Saturday, I bet that mistake won’t happen next season. Hawaii had no idea how to cover or tackle Lee on his way to 10 catches and 297 total yards of offense. His first catch went 75 yards to the house! Kick the season off right why don’t you?

Brett Hundley. Across town there was another outstanding performance. The first play of his college career was a 72-yard touchdown run. Few players, if  any, have announced their presence with more authority.  From there he directed the Bruins offense to 49 points, more than double their scoring average from the 2011 season. Expecations have to be tempered since it was against Rice. It will be much harder when Nebraska and their faithful roll into the Rose Bowl.

 

Sickness Top 10

  1. USC (1-0) Trojans rolled over Hawaii.  
  2. Alabama (1-0) Defensive questions answered. 
  3. LSU (1-0) Tuned up nicely at home.
  4. Oregon (1-0) Had 50 in a quarter and a half.
  5. FSU (1-0) 7 rushing TDs against the Racers.
  6. Georgia (1-0) Buff St was no match.
  7. Oklahoma (1-0) Ugly win at UTEP.
  8. South Carolina (1-0) Marcus Lattimore is back!
  9. Arkansas (1-0) Lots of offense in Fayetteville.
  10.  WVU (1-0) GENO! GENO! GENO!

Heisman Leaders

  1. Matt Barkley
  2. Geno Smith
  3. De’Athony Thomas
  4. Montee Ball
  5. Tyler Wilson

 

COLLEGE SICKNESS: Week 1 Rankings

The college football season is finally here, getting underway on Thursday. This is most likely the most wide open season that we’ve had in awhile. Any of the 10 teams below hav the ability to win the crystal at the end. Always a fun chore to pick the top 10 without any games having been played, but that what the SICKNESS does to me. So here they are..This combo checks in at #1

1. USC vs Hawaii. Kiffin vs Chow to open the season.. tasty!

2. Alabama vs Michigan. Will the Tide Sabanize Denard Robinson?

3. LSU vs North Texas. LSU might not be the best host to the Mean Green.

4. Oregon vs Arkansas St. Gus Malzahn faces the Ducks again. This time w/o Cam. Uh oh

5. Okahoma at UTEP. Last year’s 86th ranked scoring D vs the 10th ranked scoring O.

6. Florida St vs Murray St. E.J. Manuel will have a field day out-racing the Racers.

7. Georgia vs Buffalo. A long off-season comes to an end for Richt and Co.

8. Michigan vs Alabama. Two classic programs kicking off the season

9. South Carolina at Vanderbilt. SEC opener on the season’s opening day. Outstanding!

10. Arkansas vs Jacksonville St. Tyler Wilson’s Heisman campaign begins here.

Sickness Top 10 Games of 2012

 

 

The college football season is upon us. Media days are under way, and the smell of fall practice is starting to tickle the nostrils. What better way to get ready than a list? There are so many games to watch that I broke it down to 10. I know. I know. There are probably 20 that jump off the schedule to the naked eye. These 10 are by far my favorite right now. So grab a brew. If you don’t know which one, check out the 2 Mugs Beer Draft. Now that you’re sufficiently prepared, enjoy, and feel free to add to the list.

 

10. Wisconsin at Michigan State Oct. 27. I know that some of the main characters from last year’s game have moved on. You know who hasn’t? Montee Ball. For the second year in a row, the Badgers will be led by the Heisman contender as well as an ACC QB transfer. Exit Russell Wilson. Enter Danny O’Brien. If he has the same type of impact that Wilson had, Wisconsin will be tough as nails. Plus, is there any doubt that Camp Randall will be jumping in anticipation of payback? After last year’s ending, I think not.

9. USC at Washington Oct. 13. Washington is a sneaky up and comer. If you don’t know about Keith Price. Here’s a quick primer: 67% comp, 3000+ yds, 33TD 11INT in his first year as a starter. The Husky faithful will be in full throat to welcome the PAC-12 favorite Trojans. Their motto is “unfinished business” and coming off that bowl ban, Barkley, Lee, Woods and Co. will be looking to not only win the conference, but also the national title. With the Sark/Kiffin dynamic, and the fact that USC rolled the Huskies in the Coliseum last year, this should be a fun one.

8. Michigan at Notre Dame Sept. 22. This was one of the best games of 2011 and the rematch shouldn’t disappoint. All-everything Denard Robinson looks to leave his mark on Touchdown Jesus. Last time he was in South Bend, he was doing his best Snoop impression by letting the country know what his name was. He had over 500 yards of total offense… ALONE. Manti Te’o and the notoriously high turf will do their best to slow Shoelace down, but if the last few years are any indication this will be a shootout to the finish.

7. Florida State at Virginia Tech Nov 8. These teams have only met once in the last 3 years, and that’s a damn shame. This matchup is well timed. Logan Thomas has a Heisman campaign that should be in full swing by this time of the season. He’ll have to prove his worth in this game against a Seminole defense that finished in the top 5 last year. There are few places better to watch a game than Lane Stadium on a Thursday Night. There’s sure to be an electric atmosphere both on the field and in the stands.

6. Alabama at Arkansas Sept 15. The SEC opener for both teams will be an interesting one. This used to be a meeting of two of the biggest chap-asses in college football. We still have Saban, but Petrino traded in the headset for some road rash. In his place will stand John L. Smith, more of a Les Miles wacky type of guy. His contract’s for less than a year, but he’s got a talented bunch of kids to roll with. Tyler Wilson back at the helm with Knile Davis back from injury. He’ll need them both at their best to matchup with the best defense in the country.

5. Notre Dame at Oklahoma Oct. 27. Check the top 10 winningest programs of all time. Notre Dame checks in 3rd and the Sooners are in 8th place. Having these two teams meet in the middle of the season is a treat, and something we may not see too much of once the playoffs kick in. Landry Jones to Kenny Stills is a connection made for big-time games. Unfortunately for Brian Kelly, a return to this list means the Irish schedule is not an easy one to navigate. This is the end of a 5 week stretch that includes Michigan, Miami, and Stanford.

4. Oklahoma at West Virginia Nov. 17. Speaking of nasty schedules, the Sooners head to Morgantown for a late season tussle that should determine the Big12 title as these two teams were picked 1-2 in the media’s preseason poll. I’ve already talked about the Sooners’ offensive weapons. West Virginia has it’s own combo: Geno Smith and Tavon Austin. Obviously, this isn’t the Big East they’re playing in anymore. But watch the film. Their talent is good enough to be effective anywhere in the country, especially in the offense that Dana Holgorsen runs. Smith is a darkhorse Heisman candidate and should be a top pick in the NFL Draft. Don’t blink, you might miss something in this one!

3. Virginia Tech at Clemson Oct. 20. This matchup gets bonus points because of two coaches who are Sickness favorites, Frank Beamer and Dabo Swinney. Dabo seems like the type of coach that players have dreamed of playing for. Judging by their last few recruiting classes, that isn’t far from the truth. These squads met twice last year. V-Tech was handled by the Tigers in the first matchup, and with the ACC Title on the line, Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins made sure there wasn’t going to be a different outcome. Gotta believe that this one is already circled on the wall of Beamer’s office.

2. Michigan at Alabama Sept 1. We clamor for big match-ups early in the season and the powers-that-be have given us just that. Tuscaloosa. Wolverines. Saban. Shoelace. Need I say more?

1. November 3rd, 2012. Cop-out? YES INDEED! Just check the TV listings. Oregon travels to South Central LA to take on the Trojans in what’s going to be a prelude to a ridiculous Pac-12 Championship game. The Big12 newcomers, TCU and WVU meet in the back hills of Morgantown; Talk about a contrast in styles. TCU likes to beat you down with a fast physical defense, while the Mountaineers are cool just flat out running you off the field. And down in Baton Rouge, the rematch of the BCS National Title game will take place. As they said in The Program, “Kill em all and let the paramedics sort it out!” To separate this date would’ve been too hard to do and I saw no reason to.

You’ll notice that none of the traditional rivalries are on this list. That’s because we’ll countdown the top 5 college football rivalries next. In the meantime, set the DVR cause we’re about to have some fun this year. But then again you know this…. because you have the SICKNESS!! GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!

2012 Philadelphia Eagles Draft

My SICKNESS is at levels beyond modern medicine. The NFL schedule is out. Free Agency has come and gone. Players have been traded and it all leads up to one thing; The Crown Jewel of the NFL Non-Playing Season. We are now on final countdown to the NFL Draft. By now there have been millions of mock drafts thrown out there, with many people pretending to know what’s in the minds of NFL GM’s and owners. Most of them just hoping and praying that they can say I told you so once all the pageantry in NYC is complete. Me, I will let it all play out, but that doesn’t mean that I am without opinion. With that in mind, I will give you my thoughts on what the Eagles might do with their first 3 picks.

After the season ended, their top needs in my mind were up the gut of the defense. It was a defense that finished 16th in the league against the run. That’s not gonna get Andy Reid and the Eagles back to the Super Bowl. They addressed the MLB position getting  DeMeco Ryans from Houston for one of their 2 3rd round picks. He’s the perfect type of linebacker for the Eagles, cheap and coming off an injury. Just the way Reid and Co. like ‘em. If he is back to 100% he will be a big upgrade to the LB crew. He was like a fish out of water when Houston moved to the 3-4, so I’m sure it was music to his ears when he heard that the Eagles had interest.

 

First Round(15): The middle of the DL needs immediate attention. Luckily, the DT position is one of the deepest in this year’s draft. Philly has a lot of ammunition giving them many options. They can trade up from the 15 spot and take someone like Fletcher Cox who would fit smoothly into the Wide-9. They could sit tight at 15 and take Mark Barron or a hybrid DE/LB like Courtney Upshaw, then get a tackle in the 2nd round like Jerel Worthy with one of their two picks. Either way, I think the Eagles are sitting pretty with their draft slot. In the end, unless Cox or Brockers are available look for the Eagles to look elsewhere to upgrade the defense. My guess would be Upshaw.

 

 

2nd Round(46&51): This will be the most fun part of the draft for me. One of these picks could be gone if they try to move up. If they don’t make a move then they can really solidify the squad with some good moves. Asante Samuel, for all intents and purposes, is gone. They had a deal with Denver, and even though that fell through, I’m sure something will be done by Thursday night. Rodgers-Cromartie has shown that he is not comfortable as a slot DB. Brandon Boykin and Janoris Jenkins would be welcome additions. If they don’t go DT in the first round then this is where they’d have to use one of those picks. Mike Patterson has been solid. Cullen Jenkins came over from Green Bay and assumed a leadership role for this team. But both of those guys could use some help. Worthy, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson should all be available here. My guess here would be Still and Jenkins.

 

 

3rd Round(88): So having addressed DT, OLB, and CB with those first 3 picks, the needs that are still out there: OT, SS, and possibly QB. I would not be surprised here to see the Eagles go after a quarterback here. Kafka and Edwards might be okay for 1 game or mop up duty. But, if Vick misses extended time, as he has in the past, they need a better option. And looking forward, Vick is on the wrong side of 30. Brock Osweiler and Nick Foles are two guys that I am very familiar with being out here on the West Coast. Osweiler fits a bit better being more mobile that the old school pocket-style Foles. They could also look at the offensive tackle position here. Both Herremans and Jason Peters are 30+ and the latter is coming off an achilles injury. Demetress Bell is just a stop gap for this season. I’d expect him to get his walking papers once Peters is healthy. With such uncertainty, someone like Mitchell Schwartz could find himself in green. My guess, Osweiler is gone by the 3rd round, and probably Schwartz too, but this is my world so they get Schwartz. Eagles are one injury away from leaving Vick exposed.

 

A SEQUEL WORTH WATCHING

If familiarity breeds contempt, then this should be a FUN game.

Sequels are normally not as good as the original, but the BCS National Title game should buck that trend. It’s hard not to when you’re talking about a 9-6 defensive struggle in the first matchup. That first game was like the first round of a heavyweight fight, both contenders feeling each other out. This time around, I expect both coaches to open the game up a bit. After all, there’s no redo for this one.

The most obvious thing you can gleam from the Nov 5th matchup is that these teams like to hit, and hit hard. Neither team ran the ball very well. The passing was pretty vanilla, and each defense forced a couple of turnovers. The difference was my least favorite of positions on the field, the kicker.  The Tide kickers were a combined 2-6. Les miles said to expect some “big boy football” and I’ll be extremely disappointed if we don’t get just that. The question that will need to be answered on Monday Night is who can impose their will on the other?

For LSU, their modus operandi is to make their opponent play inefficient football. They are tops in the country in turnover margin. The main culprit in taking the ball away is The Honey Badger, all-everything defensive back, Tyrann Mathieu. All he did this year was pick off 4 passes, recover 6 fumbles, and score 4 touchdowns. He is the heart and soul of the Tigers defense and if the Tide is to roll, they must control him. Offensively, look for the Tigers to take advantage of the option game. The safeties for Alabama like to move around and the shifting often leaves and advantage for teams looking to run the speed option, perfect for Jordan Jefferson and crew. If the Tigers pull it off, they’ll have 9 wins over top 25 teams, including 4 over the top 5 teams in one season. RIDICULOUS!! On the other side, ‘Bama is the 900-pound gorilla. They lean and lean on the opponent until, eventually, their offense collapses. And it’s been awfully effective since Saban left Miami for Tuscaloosa. This season, only Georgia Southern, don’t ask me how, has reached the 20-point plateau. That seems to be the magic number since Alabama’s lost 3 of the last 4 games in which they’ve given up 20 or more points. Mistakes really were their downfall in Tuscaloosa. LSU was more than happy to take advantage.

But enough of the background, let’s look ahead. I was trying to find some clever key to the game, but there isn’t one. It’s simple. Trent Richardson is the best player on the field, and this game may determine whether we see him next year on Saturdays or Sundays. He had some big plays early in the first matchup, but LSU was able to largely contain him. His ability to run around and through the Tigers defenders will have a direct effect on whether AJ McCarron can have some success down the field. With the crowd being largely in LSU’s favor, staying out of 3rd and long situations is huge for the Tide. And when Alabama gets into scoring position, they MUST score touchdowns, not field goals as they did last time. In a game that is so even on both sides, special teams are often the deciding factor. It may end up that way again as I see the Alabama Crimson Tide hoisting it’s second trophy in the last 3 years. It’s just too hard to beat Saban twice in one season, especially with a month to prepare. Alabama 20 LSU 17.

An Early Christmas Present

We may be seeing a new trend in college football. First Andrew Luck spurned the call of the NFL, and now a year later Matt Barkley has done the same. Christmas has indeed come early on the campus of USC. The reaction is understandably mixed with people cheering Barkley for staying in school, and others deriding the decision to leave money on the table.

Barkley is a different cat. He spent last year at this time volunteering in Nigeria helping orphans and widows. He’s dreamed of playing in the Coliseum for as long as he could say “Fight On!” And really, how can you blame him? USC is one of the premier programs in all of college football. They’ve become the de-facto professional team here in LA. And as he said, they do have unfinished business.

On the field, the lure to keep playing is simple. The Trojans are coming off an impressive finish which saw them win 10 games this year. Odds are that USC will be a preseason top 3 pick, if not #1. Barkley is the frontrunner for the 2012 Heisman, followed closely by his teammate Robert Woods, the best receiver in the country. The receiver on the other side, Marqise Lee is pretty dominant in his own right. The offensive line will be without the services of Matt Kalil, but will still be one of the best in the Pac12 conference. He has the chance to leave as the best USC quarterback ever.

The worry is always about health and a significant injury keeping him from having a professional career. But look at it this way. Barkley isn’t going back to UC Davis. If something happens, and he’s not able to play in the NFL, he’ll still have a degree from USC to fall back on. His family is not hurting financially, and the money for a top NFL pick is no longer the 50M guaranteed that Bradford got 3 years ago; or the 61M total that #2 got from the Raiders.

No matter what your opinion on the matter, college football is going to benefit greatly from Barkley’s return. USC is going to benefit from having a top QB lead their team out of their sanctions. Oregon has dominated the Pac12 recently, and you know that doesn’t sit well in Heritage Hall. But it’s game on now. All the coaching changes in the conference this off-season made for big headlines. But the coach that was, in some minds, on the hot seat in Trojan Land seems to be sitting pretty right now.

Life after Barkley is quite uncertain. Woods will most certainly take flight.  Scholarship reductions will make careful recruiting in the next few years vital to the future of the program. They do have some young talent that redshirted this past year on defense, and their top tacklers were freshman linebackers. But regardless of what Signing Day brings the Trojans on Feb 1, they’ve already locked up their top recruit for 2012.

EAGLE EYE: Cowboys Week!

So here we are again. It’s December, and the Eagles have seemingly found the game that was missing for ¾ of the season. Of course, most of Eagle Nation has given up on any ideas of playoff success. Without the pressure, and no one more talk of the Dream Team, it looks like they’re playing much more loose. Well guess what teams stand in their way now, the Cowboys and Redskins. Would you have it any other way?

If the Eagles win both those game and get some help from the Jets and Giants over the last two weeks, they will again rein a top the NFC East. I am not ready to give this team a pass for what has been an awful performance to this point in the NFL season. But recent performances have begun to raise my eyebrows. The defense is now ranked 10th in YPG, but are still allowing teams to score in the red zone with alarming ease. They were ranked 30th in the league going into the Jets game.  They are a “feast or famine” defense. If they get to the QB (46 sacks, #1), then they’re a bear to stop. But if they don’t holes are wide open downfield. The last 2 wins were against Sanchez and Moore, so forgive me if I’m not surprised if the Eagles’ D was fun to watch.

Enter Tony Romo, who despite my personal feelings, has been at the top of his game over the last few weeks, 8TD, 0 INT. Sure they’ve lost 2 of 3 but his efficiency should worry Philly fans. If Romo has time, do you really think he won’t find Bryant, Witten, or Austin?

So what’s the best way to keep an explosive offense at bay? Well, don’t let them get the ball. In the first matchup, the Eagles ran the ball for 240 yards. That will need to be the game plan again, especially with the 2nd leading rusher in the NFL. That will control the clock, keep the Cowboys defense off balance, and most importantly, keep Vick upright.

I don’t know which team will show up this week. Will it be the team that beat Dallas 34-7 in week 8, or the one we saw 3 weeks ago in Seattle? I’m hoping for the former, but let’s call it cautious optimism. Get back to me if the Eagles and Jets win Saturday. I might be in a pretty darn good mood for New Year’s Day!