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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: Halfway Home!

As we hit the halfway point of the regular season, the national title picture is getting a bit clearer. The top 10 stayed the same in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2008. At the top, Oklahoma, Alabama, and LSU have all been ranked 1,2, or 3 at some point in the season. Boise State doesn’t look like they’ll lose anytime soon, so let the “little guy” argument begin in earnest. Coaching-wise, there were a few different names  on the hot seat as the season began. Let’s see where they stand now.

Mike Stoops: Well, I guess he’s no longer on the hot seat. He was the only coach in hotter water out West,  than UCLA’s head man. The axe fell on Stoops’ head after losing on the road to the hapless Oregon State Beavers. The Wildcats have lost 10 straight games to FBS(D1) schools, and there is no excuse for that when they boast one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. His major problem was a defense that ranked 115th in the country. NOt good when you’re a defensive minded head coach.

Rich Neuheisel: Speaking of UCLA’s head man. The Bruins have been up and down so far this year making it hard to get a true read on the direction of the program. One thing is sure, Neuheisel needs them to finish on the upswing. With Stoops gone in Arizona, Utah losing their starting quarterback, USC ineligible, and Colorado incapable, it looks like the Bruins have a shot to win the Pac12 South. Who would’ve thunk it?

Mark Richt: The buzzards were circling down between the hedges before the year began. It seems that Richt paid them no mind as he has the Bulldogs tied with South Carolina at the top of the SEC East. Before the season, I saw Georgia as dark horse due to their schedule, NO LSU, NO ALABAMA, and NO ARKANSAS. Unfortunately, that loss to the Gamecocks will loom large at the end of the year.

Heisman Frontrunners

This is what a runaway favorite looks like.

Andrew Luck: He started the season at the head of the list, and he’s still there now. The numbers are SICK, 73% comp, 1383 yards, 14 TDs and only 2 interceptions. Stanford sits atop the Pac12 North with an unblemished record, and it’s mostly due to Luck.

Trent Richardson: Does anyone in the country want to tackle this guy? Doesn’t look like it so far. He’s up to 729 yards rushing with  11 trips to the paint. He also has flashed big play ability catching the ball out of the backfield. If the Tide make it through the SEC, he’ll be hard to beat out for the hardware.

Robert Griffin III: Last year, he couldn’t get out of his own way. This season, he’s a different guy and a true leader. The Baylor Bears are rolling thanks to his 80% comp, 1500+ yards and 19 touchdowns. 19 TOUCHDOWNS passing in 5 games. They’d be undefeated if it wasn’t for a fluke pick to end the K-State game… his only pick of the year.

Russell Wilson: Wilson came to Madison with much fan fare after 3 years in Raleigh, NC. He hasn’t disappointed the Badgers faithful to this point. His numbers compare favorably to Luck’s: 75% comp, 1391 yards,13 TDs, and one lonely pick. His ability to get out of the pocket as well, makes Wisconsin almost impossible to stop.

Landry Jones: When you are the quarterback of one the best teams in the country, you make this list by default. His numbers have been solid, but not as spectaular as the rest. He still has a lot of chances to make an impact as the year trudges on. All eyes will be on the Bedlam Game against Oklahoma State at the end of the season.

Denard Robinson: You’d think that Shoelace is having a down year with the lack of pub that he’s getting this season compared to last. That’s not the case. This week he’ll top the 2000 yards mark in total offense, and should get to 20 touchdowns as well. He does have 9 picks on the year, so he’ll need some big wins down the stretch to really contend.

Conference Resets

Pac12: Preseason Pick: Oregon vs Utah. Clearly that was the kiss of death for the Utes. Utah hasn’t won a conference game yet. On the other hand, Arizona State has taken control of the Pac12 South. In the North, Stanford and Oregon continue to roll towards their Nov. 12th matchup. The winner of that game will sew up the title, and right now Andrew Luck is the best player in the land. Prediction: Stanford vs Arizona State. Winner: Stanford

SEC: Preseason Pick: South Carolina vs Alabama. The Tide certainly is holding up their end of the bargain, but they are being closely followed by the LSU Tigers. Can’t wait for those two teams to wrangle on Nov. 5th. South Carolina controls their destiny for a return trip to the Georgia Dome. Now that Stephen Garcia has been sent packing, they should see some more consistency from the quarterback position. The Gamecocks have to hope that Connor Shaw can stay healthy, because if not, they have no one with experience behind him. Prediction: Same. Winner: Alabama.

Big12: Preseason Pick: Oklahoma. Bob Stoops has not been the best front-running coach since he arrived in Norman, but this year has been different. Their defense is physical and Landry Jones has done a solid job, not only at home, but on the road as well. They’ve handled their two toughest tests so far, in Texas and Florida State. But their job isn’t done yet. Three of their last five games are on the road at Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. If their defense can stay healthy, I like them to finish strong and win the Big 12, or whatever they’re calling it these days. Prediction: Same.

Big Ten: Preseason Pick: Wisconsin vs Nebraska. Russell Wilson and the Badgers dismantled the Cornhuskers when they met in Madison a couple of weeks ago. The Cornhuskers were able to shake off the hangover and rally to beat Ohio State last week. Both teams still have some tough games left on the schedule, but I have faith that Wisconsin will make it to Indy. Not so sure about Nebraska. Their passing game has failed them so far and that will be hard to overcome. The winner of this week’s Michigan/Michigan State game will have the inside track with no conference losses yet. Prediction: Wisconsin vs Michigan. Winner: Wisconsin.

ACC: Preseason Pick: Florida State vs Virginia Tech. You can thank Tahj Boyd and stud freshman Sammy Watkins for this one. They and the Clemson Tigers have beaten both the Seminoles and Hokies this season, giving them a stranglehold on the Atlantic Division. The questions is which Tech, Georgia or Virginia, do I like more in the Coastal Division? If Logan Thomas keeps playing the way he did against Miami, they’ll be fine. Georgia Tech can run it down your throat, but the passing game is suspect. Prediction: Clemson vs Virginia Tech. Winner: Clemson.

Big East: Preseason Pick: West Virginia. Rutgers has used a strong defense to get off to a quick start, and Oct. 29th we’ll see if they are for real when they host the Mountaineers. Barring something magical in New Brunswick, NJ, it’s all WVU all the time. No one in the conference has the athletes, offense, or defense to stop the Holgorsen machine. Prediction: Same.

 

COLLEGE SICKNESS: The Sickness Five

Conference football is in full swing, and it’s time for some nice friendly rivalries. Top 25 matchups seem to be coming every week from here on out and nothing could be better. Time to shake up the rankings. This is when Heisman campaigns begin, and pretenders fall by the wayside. GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!

16 USF at Pittsburgh

BJ Daniels has gotten off to an outstanding start so far this season, and with that so have the South Florida Bulls. After beating Notre Dame to start the year, they have continued to roll, scoring 112 points total in their last two games. For contrast, Pitt has scored 109 points total this season. Ray Graham has been a stud so far for the Panthers, but no one else has stepped up to be another offensive threat. With all the coaching turnover, (3 head coaches this year alone), it’s not surprising to see some offensive struggles. I don’t expect the Bulls to show any mercy. This one should be over early. South Florida 45 Pittsburgh 17.

13 Clemson at 11 Virginia Tech

This is my favorite matchup of the weekend. If you haven’t seen Clemson QB Tahj Boyd yet, it’s time pay attention. The Tigers are 4-0, including wins over Auburn and Florida State. He’s 12th in the country in total offense, and has thrown 13 touchdowns against only 1 interception. But they will now face their first road game of the season, and what a doozy it will be. Blacksburg, VA is one of the toughest places to play for an opposing team, and this year will be no different. They continue to run the ball well behind David Wilson’s 129 ypg. They need to run the ball well again this week because new QB Logan Thomas is still working out the kinks. Clemson hasn’t stopped the run at all so far, and their total defense numbers inspire low confidence. They’ve been able to outscore their opponents to this point, but luck runs out after time.  Tech’s defense is strong and hasn’t given up more than 13 points in any one game this year. Clemson is the best team they’ve faced, but I still think the Hokies will stand tall at home. Virginia Tech 31 Clemson 27.

3 Alabama at 12 Florida

This is a matchup of the two best defenses in the SEC. Alabama throttled the Razorbacks last week, and the Gators did much of the same to Kentucky. Florida has SO much speed when you talk about guys like Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. If they can spread out the Tide and find some holes, it’ll make things much easier for Jeff Brantley. Easier said than done against a team that is 3rd in the country against the run and also has the best secondary in the nation, with all due respect to LSU. They also have one of the best running backs in Trent Richardson who finally broke out of his early season doldrums. Can he keep it going against a strong Gators’ defense? That will be the key. Whichever team has more success running the ball will win. I’m rolling with the Tide. Alabama 24 Florida 20.

14 Texas A&M at 18 Arkansas

Soon this will be a conference battle in the SEC. For now it’s a battle of two wounded teams. Arkansas was beaten up both physically and mentally last week in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies took a painful loss of their own at home, giving up a 20-3 halftime lead to Oklahoma State. Both teams have a lot of weapons at their disposal. ‘Hogs QB Tyler Wilson will need more time to throw than he had last week, and he’ll have to do it against the team that has brought down more QBs than anyone else in the country. Revenge is on the mind of the Aggies, losers of the last 2 meetings. Down in Jerry World, look for them to get after Wilson on the way to a close victory. Texas A&M 27 Arkansas 24.

Camp Randall will be rocking on Sunday to welcome the Huskers.

8 Nebraska at 7 Wisconsin

Welcome to the Big 10, Nebraska. Your welcome brigade is the Wisconsin Badgers and a rowdy Camp Randall Stadium. The key to this game is simple: Can Nebraska finally find a passing game to go with their rushing attack? Sorry Huskers fans, but not this week. The Badgers are on fire so far. They’ve shutdown all the offenses they have faced to this point, and then have stepped on their jugulars with a potent offense. Nebraska can’t score enough to stay with them, which will wear down their defense, and lead to a rout. This most likely won’t be the only time that we see these teams battle this year, but if they reach the championship game in Indy, hopefully Nebraska’s offense will be more diverse. Wisconsin 37 Nebraska 21.

Other games: UCLA at 6 Stanford, Auburn at 10 South Carolina, 17 Texas at Iowa St.

COLLEGE SICKNESS: Week 1 Review


 

 

Now that we’ve had some time to decompress from all the college goodness this weekend, it’s time to take a look back. As always, there were some surprises like TCU giving up a 50-burger to Baylor. Utah State tried their hardest upend the defending champs, but unfortunately football games are 60 minutes long, not 58. There were some dominant performances like LSU taking apart the Oregon Ducks in workmanlike fashion. Wisconsin showed no mercy to UNLV, and much love to Coach Fickell up in Columbus. He took advantage of the schedule and forced the Akron Zips to live up to their nickname with a 42-zip beat down.

Sickness Approved

Robert Griffin III. All players love rivalry games, and they love them even more when they win. Griffin’s fingerprints were all over this game, 21-27, 359 yards and 5 touchdowns. Last year, Griffin’s play in the big games was less than stellar, but if this is any indication of how he’s going to play, Baylor is going to be a bear to deal with, no pun intended.

Russell Wilson. His much anticipated debut for the Badgers was all that Brett Bielema could’ve asked for. He missed a couple of throws early on, but was deadly accurate after that. He also accounted for the longest rushing touchdown of the game, which has to have Big 10 coaches worried. Next up for the Badgers are the Sun Devils from Tempe. With the Badgers’ run game, and Wilson playing at a high level, they’ll be a load to stop.

Robert Woods. Last year’s Freshman of the Year in the Pac-12 wasted no time squashing the Sophomore jinx. He ran around and through the Minnesota defense to a school record 17 catches, 177 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Obviously, he and Barkley have some good chemistry, and it’ll be tested when the Utah Utes and Norm Chow come to town this weekend.

Sickness Top 10

  1. Oklahoma (1-0) Jones, Broyles, and company in midseason form
  2. Alabama (1-0) Rolled over Kent State
  3. LSU (1-0) Running game and defense carried the Tigers past the Ducks
  4. FSU (1-0) Nice to start the season with a shutout
  5. Boise State (1-0) Kellen Moore is the truth
  6. Stanford (1-0) Rolled over the neighbors from San Jose State
  7. Oklahoma St (1-0) Brandon Weeden had a field day
  8. Wisconsin (1-0) Russell Wilson did not disappoint in his debut
  9. Oregon (0-1) 4 turnovers will lose you a lot of games
  10. Texas A&M (1-0) SMU may not be ready for the Big 12 after all

Heisman Hopefuls

  1. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
  2. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  3. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State
  4. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor
  5. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

PRE-SEASON ALL-SICKNESS TEAM – OFFENSE

 

Here we go ladies and gents. With fall camps just weeks away, we begin the previews with the offensive side of the All-Sickness team. These are all BIG TIME players and will have large impacts on the way their team performs this season. You won’t see 2nd and 3rd teams, nor will you see honorable mentions. This is the cream of the crop. Argue if you wish…

 

It's not luck that has #12 on this list.

QB- Andrew Luck, Stanford. I don’t think this selection needs too much defense. He was the best in the land last year, and is back for his final year in cardinal and white. In his 2 years at the helm, Luck has 45 TDs against only 12 picks and is hitting at a 65% clip. He has kept Stanford relevant even after losing Toby Gerhart and John Harbaugh. If he stays healthy, he will be the favorite to hoist the stiff-armed trophy at the end of the year.

 

RB- Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina. I so wanted to chicken out and just choose the SEC. The conference has Michael Dyer, Knile Davis, and Trent Richardson to push Lattimore. But at the end of the day, I’m going with a back that carried the load as a freshman with no QB to speak of. He took the Gamecocks to the SEC title game with almost 1200 yards and 17 touchdowns. The most impressive part was that he had only 1 fumble. It came in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on a pass that hung him out to dry, and left him out for the count. Pardon me if I give him a pass on that one. With a full off-season of conditioning, the SEC had better watch out. This kid is the truth.

 

RB- LaMichael James, Oregon. This selection is assuming he doesn’t get pinched by the NCAA. If he plays the full season, he’ll have a great chance at repeating as the Doak Walker award winner. He was nothing short of amazing last year as he put up video game numbers in normally 3 quarters of action. He was held under 100 yards twice (94,91) but made up for it with 3 200-yd games. He’s no stranger to the end zone either as he crossed the white line 21 times. He will never be confused with Adonis, but it doesn’t matter when the defense is just watching him fly by. Couple that with the up-tempo Ducks offense, and James is a nightmare for defensive coordinators.

Catch me if you can.

WR-  Juston Blackmon, Oklahoma State. 111 catches. 1782 yards. 20 touchdowns. Is he a product of his system? Maybe? Is he a burner? No. But do I get a beer when the Cowboys have the ball? HELL NO! Blackmon is the ultimate weapon. He can be a possession receiver, can catch the ball while covered, and he can get deep. Best of all he scores, and does it often. Those characteristics get you an automatic spot on the All-Sickness Team.

Weight Room!!!

 

WR- Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina. I like size in my receivers, and 6’4 230 certainly qualifies. When that size turns into production, it’s down right scary, 88 catches, 1517 yards, 9 tds… IN COLLEGE! He was overshadowed by the publicity that Julio and AJ got last year, but don’t be fooled. Everyone in the south knows what he can do. Mostly because he killed everyone and it’s going to be fun to watch him bitch slap SEC defensive backs again this year.

 

TE- Michael Egnew, Missouri. The tight end crop isn’t the best this year, but Egnew stands out above the rest, literally and figuratively. At 6’6 235, he has the size and was a big time producer last year. Obviously, Missouri slings it around like a hot potato, but he isn’t afraid to catch it. He had 90 catches last season and should be right up there again. He’s too big for DBs and too fast for linebackers. It’ll be interesting to see how the loss of Blaine Gabbert will affect him.

 

OL- Barrett Jones, Alabama. He couldn’t stay healthy last year, and that was a large part of the Tide’s problems last year. If you don’t believe me, just check the difference in the run game from 09-10. They went from 12th to 29th in the country. With him at 100% there should be huge holes for Trent Richardson to blow through.

 

OL- Mike Brewster, Ohio State. It all starts up the middle, and Brewster is the best in the land. With the loss of Pryor, he will assume the leadership role on that offense, especially if the reigns are handed to freshman QB Braxton Miller. Coach Fickell has to be at ease knowing that he won’t have to worry about the OL being on the same page.

 

OL- Matt Reynolds, BYU. Reynolds is an experienced player on a team that, by nature, is more experienced than the rest. He has had some nagging injuries, but when healthy is extremely talented and consistent. He should be able to have a strong senior campaign to finish what has been an already solid career.

 

OL- Nate Potter, Boise State. How do you build a top program and have a Heisman candidate in a small town like Boise? You bring a hometown hog in and have him protect his blind side. It sure has been fun for Kellen Moore over the last 3 years since he knows the only one breathing on his neck is his bodyguard.

 

OL- Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State. Even though Nigeria is big rival of Ghana, he still makes the list. Not often do the terms 1st round pick and Iowa State get used in the same sentence. They are warranted when talking about Osemele. He can play either guard or tackle, and at 6’5 335, is an imposing figure in doing so. Have fun Cyclones fans; there’s nothing more exciting than going to a game with your best player wearing #72.

 

 

 

LET IT RIDE

Where is college football headed? It seems that everywhere you turn, the NCAA is talking to another football program. It’s not as if this is something new. Kids have been getting perks since I can remember. Why not? What other student has 100,000 people turning out to cheer them on? TV’s all over the country are tuned in every Saturday to watch the soap opera that is college football.

I call it a soap opera because each day there is a new twist. Jim Tressel, the untouchable, has stepped down as leader of the Buckeye world. 12 months ago no one saw this coming. Even when he publicly scolded the Tattoo 5, no one thought it would someday be laid at his feet. But what can anyone really do? How many other coaches would’ve turned their star player in when their team was preparing for a national title run? USC couldn’t. Auburn couldn’t.  And you know what? I don’t blame them at all.

I’m cool with it. This is the new deal. Players aren’t scared of taking money, driving “loaner” cars, or getting hundred-dollar-handshakes. From the time the kids get to high school, they are already stars. Newspapers, blogs, and sports shows call them to get the inside scoop on where they will attend college. Teachers “help” them keep grades respectable. And most of all, they see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

What would you do in their shoes? Everybody likes the green ones, you know?

College is supposed to prepare us for real life, and the career that we dream of succeeding at. For college football players, that means the NFL, the biggest and baddest thing going. You’ve seen them in class, and the majority are not concerned with the symbolism of 19th century art.  Good for them! From the time they step on campus, they become entertainers, the same as actors and musicians.  Let’s stop acting like an 18-21 year old college football player has a moral compass.

So the NCAA keeps trying to rein them in. They can try all they want. As long as this BILLION-dollar industry keeps rolling down the tracks, someone is going to push the limits (see Oregon’s $25,000 bill for “recruiting services”).  I’m all for it. Every school is some level of dirty. They have to be. If not, their competitors will be. Urban Meyer broke under the constant drain, but was smart enough to get out.

Will paying players help? I doubt it, but pay them anyway. They put their lives on the line every weekend for our enjoyment. They are one wrong hit from never walking again; One knee explosion from never realizing their dreams. So excuse me if I don’t care that they maximize their benefits. We do it everyday of our lives. It’s just that most of us don’t have the country watching our every move.

The FOOTBALL SICKNESS PODCAST: Sweater Vest Edition

It’s been awhile since we went twelve rounds on some College Sickness, and it’s high time.  Fortunately, Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor and company are here to help us out with a topic.  FootballSickness.com’s Ryan Burns and Sen Sogah break down the OSU situation, drop some notes from around the country, and get after it in the usual fashion.  GET YOUR HELMET ON!!!

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"Pssst. Coach. I don't know about you, but...I'm about to be OUT."

 

Click HERE for the FOOTBALL SICKNESS PODCAST, Sweater Vest Edition

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BOWL SICKNESS 2010-2011: College Bowl Preview

It’s been a long wait for the bowl games to start, but they finally get going on Saturday afternoon. It’s been so long that I’m getting hyped thinking about it. There are a lot of fun matchups, so let’s get to it.

Sickness Level-Critical

National Championship. The two most explosive teams in the country are going to light up the scoreboard. LaMichael James v Cam Newton. That will be played up for the next 3 weeks until the game is played. I tried to come up with some really great insight, but it always ended up like this… Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton. Auburn 45 Oregon 35.

Rose Bowl. The Granddaddy of Them All is going to be the best of the meaningless bowl games this season. Wisconsin was the best team in the Big Ten all season, and TCU is hungry to show that they deserved to be playing for all the marbles. You’ll have one of the best running teams in the country against one of the best defenses in the country, and it’ll be a knockout, drag out affair. Wisconsin has won these types of games all season long, and TCU hasn’t played a team this physical all year. Bucky gets the spoils. Wisconsin 23 TCU 17.

Orange Bowl. Two blazing hot teams come together in South Florida. The Hokies haven’t lost since James Madison trampled on them. Stanford’s only setback was to the Ducks, and at last check, no one had beaten them. It’s an interesting contrast of quarterbacks as well. Tyrod Taylor can throw and pass, while Andrew Luck is the best pocket passer in the land. Virginia Tech’s athleticism against the power of Stanford. I’m a big dude, so I’m going with the power, plus the better QB. Stanford 28 Virginia Tech 23.

Capital One Bowl. My self-proclaimed “Saban Bowl”.  Saban left the Spartans for his first SEC job at LSU. Then after burning the Dolphins, he came back to college and led the Crimson Tide to last year’s national title. The Spartans have been the biggest surprise of the year, going 11-1 despite not having their head coach for 2 games due to health issues. Whose running game will be more consistent? It’s got to be Richardson and Ingram. Alabama 24 Michigan St 21.

Sickness Level-Serious

Sugar Bowl. Arkansas doesn’t win many big games, but they have been hot over the last month or so. The Sweater Vest hasn’t been much better in big games, but he does have the jewelry. We get to watch 2 good QBs in Pryor and Mallett, but Mallet’s offense is more diverse. The Buckeyes’ secondary is one of the best in the country, so it will be fun to see if the Hogs can get Greg Childs free for some big plays. I like Arkansas to win because they have shown more of an ability to score from anywhere on the field. Arkansas 34 Ohio St 28.

Cotton Bowl. The Aggies have been explosive all year, and the Mad Hatters have been confusing all year. I do know that LSU has already played a bunch of huge games so far this season, and Les Miles wins bowl games, so that’s enough for me. Another last second weird LSU finish.. LSU 24 Texas A&M 21.

Alamo Bowl. Get your popcorn ready! Oklahoma State and Arizona want nothing more than to light up the scoreboard. Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden are two of the best quarterbacks in their conferences. Juron Criner and Justin Blackmon are two of the best receivers in the country. This should be an up and down battle, but the Cowboys are just too strong for the Wildcats to stop. Oklahoma St 45 Arizona 31.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Both teams just got handled in their conference championship games. South Carolina is returning to the site of the SEC Championship, where they were brow abused but the Auburn Tigers. Florida State just got handled in the ACC title game by red hot Virginia Tech, so expect both these teams to be hungry. I’ve been singing the praises of Lattimore and Jeffery all season, so I’ll do it again. They will have big games and lead the Gamecocks to victory. South Carolina 28 FSU 24.

Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut and Oklahoma will get it on in Glendale in the first game of the Final Four. Blake Griffin v Emeka Okafor, what a battle. Unfortunately, that was just a dream, but there are some major players in this game. The Huskies have Jordan Todman, the 2nd leading rusher in the country. In the Sooner’s last trip to the Fiesta Bowl, they lost to Boise State. I hope they’re ready to put their best foot forward in this one. This Husky team is not to be taken lightly. Oklahoma 30 UCONN 20.

Sickness Level-Stable

Gator Bowl. Dan Mullen used to be an assistant coach for the Gators and turned down an offer to return to be their head coach this season. He has now led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to their first bowl appearance since they won the 2007 Liberty Bowl. Michigan is playing out the death march for Rich Rodriguez. I fully expect this to be his last game as the Wolverine’s head coach. I love Denard Robinson, but Michigan has no defense, so… Miss St 34 Michigan 24.

Las Vegas Bowl. This is the first bowl game of the season to matchup two ranked teams. Utah is looking for a big win, while Boise State is looking for a bit of redemption. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Utah is going to hope that’s true. If you give Chris Petersen that much time to prepare for an opponent, watch out. Just ask VTech. BSU 44 Utah 31.

Champs Sports Bowl. West Virginia is going to lose their head coach for the second time in 3 years. Bill Stewart has already announced his intention to step down after the bowl game. North Carolina State has been a pleasant surprise in the ACC, I mean at least they won more games than they lost. The Mountaineers force turnovers galore, and Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson hasn’t been turnover free since September. WVU 28 NC St 24.

Holiday Bowl. This is traditionally one of my favorite bowl games every year because it always provides an exciting game. The Washington Huskies barely became bowl eligible with a late comeback in the Apple Cup. Nebraska collapsed a bit at the end of the year losing 2 of its last 3 games. This shouldn’t be as bad a beat down as the early season matchup in Seattle, but Nebraska is still the WAY better team. Nebraska 40 Washington 21.

Hawaii Bowl. I need some more connections, because I need to be in paradise right now. Hawaii had an outstanding season finishing tied with Boise and Nevada at the top of the WAC. The Warriors lost only one game at home and that was the season opener to the Trojans. Both teams like to wing it, but Tulsa won’t hold up. They’re facing the best passing team in the country. When they played Oklahoma State, they gave up 574 yards through the air. Expect Bryant Moniz, to have a field day. Hawaii 51 Tulsa 41.


Sickness Level- Fair

Compass Bowl. Pittsburgh and Kentucky is another game that should be played in the Final Four. The Stache is stepping down, so we’ll see what the Panthers bring to the table. Lately the 1-2 punch of Ray Graham and Dion Lewis has led to some effective running, but Tino Sunseri has been their downfall. Kentucky has the better offense and has played in the much better conference, but they won’t have their starting quarterback, Mike Hartline. He wasn’t able to handle his liquor, so he’s suspended. Pittsburgh 24 Kentucky 17.

Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl. Southern Miss and Louisville are playing for the trophy which I’m sure includes some onion rings, chicken wings, and a slab of ribs. Coach Strong has done an awesome job with the Cardinals in his first year. Southern Miss is no doubt broken up by the end of, alumni, Brett Favre’s streak and that’ll prove too hard to recover from so quickly. Louisville 24 So Miss 17

Insight Bowl. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz must wish he had more insight into his program. How else could you miss your best receiver running a drug house off campus? The Hawkeyes were setup to get blown out anyway, based on the way they ended their season, but all these distractions make it worse. The Tigers are lying in wait. Cats love to eat birds, right? Mizzou 35 Iowa 14.

Texas Bowl. Illinois travels to Houston to play the Baylor Bears. Baylor comes in on a 3 game losing streak, having faced the 3 top teams in the Big 12. This should feel like a vacation playing Illinois. Baylor has been below average stopping the run which is what the Illini do best. Their saving grace is Bear QB Robert Griffin III. He is a great dual threat, and the difference in this game. Baylor 38 Illinois 30.

New Mexico Bowl. BYU and UTEP will get it on down in Albuquerque. Not the best matchup in the world, but a good game to get the festivities started. UTEP is a mess with Coach Mike Price not knowing if he’ll be back or not. I’m taking the Cougars. BYU 34 UTEP 21.

Pinstripe Bowl. A bowl game in the New Yankee Stadium. I wonder if they knew that Yankee fans would need something to get their minds off of Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. A matchup of Kansas State and Syracuse should do the trick, right? Daniel Thomas leads the Wildcats against the Orange and their 5th ranked defense. But D hasn’t been Syracuse’s problem. The offense can’t score, averaging a paltry 21 points a game. They will keep it close, but Thomas will wear them down. Kansas St 24 Syracuse 17.

Music City Bowl. So as if the season hasn’t been hard enough for the Tarheels, their reward is a bowl game against Tennessee in, of all places, Tennessee. Who says sports is fair? UNC has lost all kinds of players to injury and suspensions this season. The Vols are playing their best ball, having won 4 in a row. They just beat Vandy in Nashville a month ago, so why not pick them again. Tennessee 23 UNC 20.

Meineke Car Care Bowl. South Florida surprised this year under first year head coach Skip Holtz. They have lived off their defense and I expect them to do it again. Clemson does the same and is giving the starting QB job back to Kyle Parker who was in the doghouse earlier in the year. This should be a physical, evenly matched game, and I’ll give the edge to Clemson, grudgingly. Clemson 24 USF 20.

Sun Bowl. The Catholics v The Convicts, but Tim Brown and Jesse Armstead aren’t walking through that door. Who would’ve thought that both Notre Dame and Miami would be playing a bowl game in El Paso? Brian Kelly survived year one, and even beat USC. The U is a program in flux. They fired Randy Shannon and hired a new coach, Al Golden, who did a great job at Temple. Did I just say that? Anyway, the Canes have no idea who their starting QB is, which can’t be good. Notre Dame has gone through a bunch of injuries, but has stayed the course. I’m taking the coach that I know. ND 27 Miami 21.

Liberty Bowl. Georgia’s midseason turnaround coincided with AJ Green coming back into the fold. That might not be enough to save Mark Richt’s job, though. Central Florida has been consistent all year long, and finished ranked 25th in the country. They have the 12th best defense in all the land, and Georgia is starting a redshirt freshman at QB. The two of those factors add up to a Black Knight victory. UCF 28 Georgia 17.

TicketCity Bowl. Where did this bowl game come from? Texas Tech and Northwestern are two fun stories from this past season. The Wildcats even got to play a game under pickup rules in Wrigley. I like Tech to outscore the Wildcats down in the Big D. Texas Tech 35 Northwestern 31.

Outback Bowl. Florida and Penn State have had seasons that are mirror images of each other. Both teams broke in new quarterbacks and lost 5 games. Funny though, the 84 year old coach is coming back for a 46th year, while the 46 year old coach called it quits after his 5th year. I’ve got to believe that Florida will want to send Urban Meyer out on a good note. That’s the only reason that I can pick against JoePa. Florida 28 Penn State 27.

And the rest

Humanitarian Bowl. It’s going to be hard to watch the blue turf and not see Boise running up the score on some hapless team. I’ll deal with Fresno and Northern Illinois. Most teams play bowl games in a stadium they’ve never been to. No dice with Fresno. They were just in Boise a few weeks back. They will erase those bad memories with a win here. Fresno St 24 UNI 21

New Orleans Bowl. Sorry. I have nothing for you here. They have to play because the schedule says so. Give me Troy’s offense over Frank Solich’s weak defense. Troy 45 Ohio 20.

Poinsettia Bowl. It should be a home game for San Diego State, except for the huge military presence in San Diego. Expect the Midshipmen to be ecstatic that they can get away from the cold weather of the east coast. The Aztecs are going to be a bit distracted since their coach, Brady Hoke, would rather be coaching at Michigan instead. That option rushing attack is a bitch to deal with. Navy runs to a victory. Navy 27 SDSU 21.

Little Caesar’s Bowl. Pizza Pizza! What’s that? I don’t get free pizza for watching this game? Rip off! Florida International is making their first bowl appearance ever. Toledo is coming into this game with a backup QB. Toledo is tied with Hawaii, having forced the most turnovers in the country. Expect some more, otherwise FIU will make this a game. Toledo 33 FIU 23.

Independence Bowl. This game could have been played 50 years ago and it would still look the same. Both these teams run a triple option, so they rank 1 and 2 in the country running the ball. But only Army is worse than these two teams at throwing the ball among all FBS schools. The good thing is that with all the running, the clock won’t stop. Georgia Tech was my ACC preseason champ, and I’m holding a grudge, but Air Force is terrible against the run. Georgia Tech 31 Air Force 17.

Military Bowl. Eastern Carolina and Maryland. Pirates and Terps. Conference USA and the ACC. The Pirates were okay this year, but their conference was nothing special. Maryland bounced back this year with a solid year in their conference. I like them to win what is basically a home game in the Nation’s Capital. Maryland 27 ECU 17.

Armed Forces Bowl. Army and SMU play in this bowl game. I’m glad the Army made a bowl game, but they haven’t played anyone this season. Or should I say, they haven’t beaten anyone this year. SMU has had a little bit better schedule, so they are my pick. SMU in a close one. SMU 24 Army 20.

GoDaddy.Com Bowl. Middle Tennessee v Miami(OH) is one of the bridge games between the BCS bowls and the title game. Going with the Red Hawks. Miami 32 MTSU 24.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 15 Nevada plays Boston College. No one cares outside of Reno and Boston, except the respective families. Nevada 45 Boston College 19.

Who will hoist it? Find out January 10.

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The FOOTBALL SICKNESS PODCAST, College Sickness Regular Season Wrap

FOOTBALLSICKNESS.COM’s Ryan Burns and Sen Sogah break down the last week of conference title games, the big Oregon-Auburn matchup to come in January, the Heisman, and much more on this week’s College Sickness Podcast. Click the link and listen. GET YOUR HELMET ON!!

LaMichael James and Cam Newton meet in the National Title game between undefeateds Oregon and Auburn.

The FOOTBALL SICKNESS PODCAST, College Sickness Regular Season Wrap

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THE LONG WAIT BEGINS: College Football Week 14 In Review

It’s official! Auburn and Oregon will meet for all the marbles. We have 5 weeks to break this game down, so we won’t start now. But all I know is that no one has stopped Cam Newton yet, and I’m not sure that the Ducks will be the first. It’s up to Darron Thomas to keep the Ducks on pace to outscore the Tigers. Should be a fun one to watch.  Looking back at the games from last week, let’s see what some of the keys were for the winning teams.

Auburn 56 South Carolina 17: We knew that Cam Newton was the key to this game for Auburn, and Marcus Lattimore was the key for South Carolina. Newton didn’t disappoint. He had over 400 yards of total offense with 6 total touchdowns. He started early with 3 touchdown passes in the first quarter, and just kept rolling. The Gamecocks had no answer for him, and credit has to go to the Tigers’ offensive line. Newton had all the time in the world to find receivers downfield and he didn’t miss. On the other hand, the Gamecocks refused to give Lattimore a chance to get into the game. He only ran the ball 16 times, and he needed 25+ to keep the ball out of Newton’s hands. It didn’t happen, and the game got away from them quickly.

Still The One: Cam Newton and Auburn will play for the National Title.

Oregon 37 Oregon St 20: I thought things might not go well early for Oregon, and they didn’t. Turnovers early gave the Beavers the momentum and an early lead. But Oregon stayed patient and didn’t leave the game plan. With all the shifting and no-huddle that Oregon does, they are still a punch you in the mouth physical offense. They ran the ball 49 times for 346 yards, and even though the score didn’t look like it, this game was never in doubt. Great job by Chip Kelly and the Ducks of staying focused and getting to the big dance.

Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 20: I took the Sooners mostly because of their experience, and a coach that is now 7-1 in this game. Nebraska jumped out early by running the ball and forcing some bad plays by Landry Jones. Unfortunately, Taylor Martinez was not able to be effective against the Sooners’ defense. They forced him to beat them passing the ball, and he could not do it, and the Huskers turned the ball over 4 times. In a championship game that spells doom. Onto the Fiesta Bowl for Oklahoma, and a date with UCONN.

Virginia Tech 44 Florida St 33: All year long, the Hokies were the best team in the country at taking care of the ball. They did it again Saturday night. They did not turn the ball over to the Seminoles, who had forced 10 in the last 3 games. They did force EJ Manuel to throw two interceptions and the extra possessions doomed Florida State. Their defense couldn’t get off the field consistently, and Tyrod Taylor was extremely good. He threw 3 touchdowns and made FSU pay every time they tried to take away the run.

Here is a link for the bowl games. But the big ones are as we expected. Wisconsin and TCU will meet in the Rose Bowl. UCONN and Oklahoma will play in the Fiesta. Arkansas and Ohio State will clash in the Sugar Bowl, and Virginia Tech and Stanford are headed to the Orange.

Final Football Sickness Top 10

Oregon and Auburn will battle for this in Glendale, Arizona on January 10, 2011.


1 Auburn 13-0 They have the best player in the country

2 Oregon 12-0 Darron Thomas will be the key to the BCS Championship

3 TCU 12-0 Headed to Pasadena

4 Stanford 11-1 Harbaugh won’t have to worry about being left out of the BCS

5 Wisconsin 11-1 Can they run the ball against TCU?

6 Ohio St 11-1 Can the Buckeyes finally beat a team from the SEC?

7 Boise St 11-1 Out of sight, out of mind

8 Michigan St 11-1 “The Saban Bowl” – Capital One Bowl against Bama

9 Arkansas 10-2 Headed to the Sugar Bowl

10 Oklahoma 10-2 Chokelahoma no more

(EDITOR’S NOTE: What, no U.C.L.A. recap?)

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