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2018-08-22 06:08

Happy ... uhm .... College Football Season 2018!

I’m still in a demanding project, but I will do my best to cover some stuff as I did last season.

I will s e l e c t 3 to 5 games per weekend to cover a bit in details.
This season I did also initiate a College Football Pick’em at ESPN, and Peter did offer a 3 month free supporter account for the winner! More on that in the forum, see link down below. It starts not upcoming weekend (which is week 0), but in week 1, so still time to sign up and play.
College Football Pick’em 2018

The start of the season is now the established week 0 or week zero.

It started in 2016 with Cal vs Hawaii and 2017 it did feature 5 games.
This season we have 4 games and interesting is that Hawaii, Rice, UMass and Colorado State are back for a week zero game.
Hawaii does play such a game the 3rd time in a row.
So this could become a trend and eventually a marketing opportunity.

Before we start with the games, some news from the college front.

Coaches:
20 teams do have a different coach then they had end of the season 2017.
Some of those changes were cascade effects when high values coaches did change to other high value programs and those teams they left pick a new coach and that team did have to pick a coach and so on.
Arizona hired Kevin Sumlin, former Texas A&M HC. Interesting hire, could be a great addition.
Arizona State did hire long time TV Analyst and former NFL HC Herm Edwards. Many head were shaking, when that was announced, because he is quite old and out of coaching since some time. But we will see, whether he can build a team on college level.
Arkansas got Chad Morris, former SMU HC, and that will be a very interesting one. Morris did do much in SMU, but more under the radar and in slow speed. Before that SMU gig ge was OC at Clemson.
Coastal Carolina rehired Joe Moglia, who had to leave for one season because of medical issues.
Florida got their man in Dan Mullen, former HC of Mississippi State. Many coaches have tried to make Florida a national competitor again since Urban Meyer left, but no one was successful so far. Mullen did great at MSU, so maybe he can turn Florida around again.
Florida State went for Willie Taggart as new HC, former Oregon and South Florida HC. That is a hugh jump and a lot of confidence in that coach. But he did good at WKU and great at South Florida, so FSU fans can hope. That one season in Oregon was mid level, but it was only 1 season he had.
Kent State did s e l e c t Sean Lewis as their new HC, a former OC of Syracuse. It's is first HC gig.
Louisiana (former Louisiana Lafayette) did hire new HC Billy Napier, former OC of Arizona State. He had some major colleges in his coaching history, like Clemson and Alabama. Honestly, this looks like a transition hire for him. If he turns the program around quick, he will fall higher fast.
Mississippi State had to hire a new HC and found him in Joe Moorhead. He has HC experience at Fordham (FCS) and was Penn State OC the last 2 seasons. Big jump for him.
Nebraska got their man in former Central Florida HC Scott Frost. The Huskers fans do already dream of a double national championship as in 1994/95. Frost was on the roster of the 95 championship team as redshirt and won the title as player in 1997 with the Huskers.
Oregon needed a new coach and found it in Mario Cristobal, their OC of last season. Before that he was OL coach of Alabama. Quick rise.
Oregon State needed someone to clean up the mess and hired Jonathan Smith, former OC of Washington. Always tough with the Beavers, so we have to wait.
Rice hired Mike Bloomgren, long time OC of Stanford. Could be a good hire, given the history of both schools.
SMU selected Sonny Dykes as new HC, the former HC of Cal. That is a bit of a downgrade for him, but on the other hand, it might better fit. We have to wait. During his reign, Cal was sometimes a beast and sometimes a teddy bear.
South Alabama hired Steve Campbell, former HC of Central Arkansas (FCS).
Tennessee tried to make a splash and hired Jeremy Pruitt, former Alabama DC, and one of the hottest names last season. Whether he can make the Vols great again, not sure.
Texas A&M made the biggest splash of all hires by getting Jimbo Fisher out of Florida State. If Fisher can repeat his National Championship reign of FSU and A&M, he will ge a BIG statue there. BIIIIG!
UCF needed a new HC and got Josh Heupel, former Missouri OC. Could actually become a good hire.
UCLA made the second biggest splash in HC hires by getting Chip Kelly out of the TC box. The former Philly Eagles and Oregon HC did raise expectations at UCLA to the sky and hopefully he can make UCLA more competitive.
UTEP as last college with a new HC did hire Dana Dimel, former longtime OC of Kansas State. He has some HC experience, but his record is grim.

Teams realignments:
As planned did Idaho go down to FCS level (they went to FBS level from FCS level in 1996) and will now play in the Big Sky Conference.
That way the Sun Belt did lose this team and another team, both planned, because New Mexico State did become Independent.
The Sun Belt did still split into 2 divisions now with East and West, each holding 5 teams.
In addition did last season FCS team Liberty Flames got transition status for FBS and will play in FBS as Independent this season being Bowl ineligible (some sites say they could be granted an exception for a bowl bit, if they have 6 wins and not enough other teams do have 6 wins to fill the bowl spots).
They will become full member next season, 2019.

Latest developments:
OSU has put their HC Urban Meyer on payed leave after an investigation was launched whether he did know of incidents of domestic violence inside his coaching staff. The coach accused of those crimes is already released and it seems there is no question about that those things did happen, what's not clear is, whether Meyer did know about and what actions he did take or not take in the past to deal with this.
Likely the coffin nail for him will be, whether he did act against his contract, which seems to include a phrase, which orders him to report any knowledge about such incidents.
It seems he did not, but had knowledge about it and did even lie about that during a press conference.
His predecessor was let go for much less, from my point of view.
So maybe Ohio State will play under interims guidance and will look for a new coach soon.
The university issues an info saying that they will try to have a clear picture end of August, but I'm not sure they will hit that timeline.

In another incident we have Marylands HC DJ Durkin on payed leave, following the death of a player during training.
Durkin is HC since 2016 and was hired to make Maryland the Oregon of East Coast, based on the ties the university has with sports article producer Under Armor (while Oregon has ties to Nike).
He was brought into a trailing program to make them winners, but it seems he and/or his staff did aim too far and did treat their player too harsh.
An OL did break down during training and was send into hospital with body temperature of 41°C. He did 15 days later.
After the incident, some voices came up regarding a toxic culture at Maryland, which includes humiliating practices.
Investigations are ongoing, but I think Maryland will look for a new coach soon and will play under interims tag this season.
There is no way Durkin will survive this intact as HC of Maryland. Remember incidents with Mike Leach or Mark Mangino, where no players death was involved, but also humiliating practices were involved or at least allegations of such.
Leach did get a new job later at Wazzu, Mangino is still toxic and got assistant jobs at most, which he was not able to keep.

And last info is regarding Colorado States coach Mike Bobo, who was brought into a hospital, now revealing he has peripheral neuropathy.
It's unclear so far, whether he will be at the sideline when opening the season against Hawaii at home.

Which brings us to the four week zero games.

The BLOCK OF GRANITE TOP GAMES FOR WEEK 0

Sat. Aug 25
Duquesne at Massachusetts
UMass is playing a FCS team on their season opener. Yahoo! ... ööööh ...
Mark Whipple is in his 5th season of his second stint with the team. He was already the HC from 1998 to 2003 in which he won National Championship with the team in 1998 (as FCS team at that time) and left when becoming an assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He stays in the NFL for various teams until season of 2012 after which he was fired with all other Browns coaches.
2014 came UMass knocking and he decided to come back.
At that time UMass was already 2 years in the FBS and member of the MAC, but left that conference and since 2016 the team is playing as FBS Independent, awaiting invitations for a better fitting conference.
So far no development on that one.
Last season they had a 4-8 record.
The team will play 12 games this season and only the opener is against a FCS team.
But the schedule does also only feature Boston College and Georgia from Power 5 conferences and if you like you can add BYU to that list as bigger team.
Add South Florida and UConn from the AAC and the rest is all from CUSA, MAC, SBC and Liberty as transition team.
Not really a tough schedule, but they will have a hard time to top those 4 wins of last season, but actually could end up with something of 7 wins.
They are clearly the favorite against Duquesne, which has a long time coach in his 14th season with record of 83–58 in the FCS, but the team played last against a FBS team in 2014 and lost (to Buffalo).
I'm not expecting a 70-0 win of UMass, but something of 54 to 30.
UMass is quite pass happy and if the find holes in the pass coverage, this will get ugly.
Minutemen win.

Prairie View at Rice
Another game against a FCS opponent.
Rice has a new HC this season, Mike Bloomgren.
He was with Stanford since 2011 and does now face his first HC gig. His predecessor went 1-11 before getting fired last season.
So Rice is at the bottom and is looking for some help from a coach out of a quite successful coaching tree.
He started at Stanford when David Shaw did take over and helped to guide the Cardinals to 3 Conference titles.
Now 2 coordinators of Shaws Cardinals are HCs, Bloomgren and Derek Mason, HC of Vanderbilt since 2014.
All eyes will be on Bloomgren, whether he will be able to turn the Owls around.
If that happens, his name will be on the list a several power 5 football teams.
But chances are high, he will need some time for that.
Rice plays in the Conference USA and plays Prairie View, Houston, Hawaii, Wake Forest and LSU as non-conference games, summing the schedule up to 13 games.
That will be hard, but might help the team in the long run.
More games, more experience and eventually more wins.
This seasons they can aim for eventually 2 to 4 wins, I guess.
If Bloomgren gets his system clicking fast, even more is possible.
But let's face it, beside the FCS game, they can aim against Hawaii, maybe, UTEP, likely, and Old Dominion, maybe.
The rest would need a big rise in strength or a downfall of some other team.
Prairie View has a new HC also and they went 6-5 last season in the FCS.
I don't think Rice will lose here, but I think the chances are higher than a UMass loss in the other game.
Still, that team, even under a new coach, should top that FCS team.
Owls win.

Hawaii at Colorado State
Nick Rolovich is in his third season at Hawaii and his clock might start ticking.
He had a good 7-7 season in his first year and dropped to 3-9 last season, winning only 1 conference game.
That's not the type of quality Hawaii does expect, even they had some rough seasons since some time.
I guess they would be OK, if the team would finish in Bowl area every season, but 3 wins are not enough, not with that kind of home field advantage.
Well, we will see, how he will get that team through the season, but he better deliver a winning season, that's my take here.
They play Navy, Rice, Army, Duquesne (FCS) and BYU as non-conference games. 3 of them home games.
The Mountain West is quite good and they do face of the big shots only San Diego State and Fresno State, both on the road.
That leaves a lot of opportunities to win some of the other games.
If they start clicking, they, might win 6 to 7 game, I guess, but more realistic are 4 to 5.
Of cause this could come all different and it might start with Colorado State.
Their HC Mike Bobo was in hospital, as written above, and how that will effect the season opener is unclear.
CSU is the favorite to win this game, but things like that might shift the focus and the result.
Bobo is in his 4th season and did so far deliver constantly 7-6 seasons.
That's maybe not enough, because he got a 10-3 team handed to him and since then ... nothing.
He made a bowl, sure, but lost all 3.
Now his has medical conditions.
I'm not saying the team will suck, not saying he will lose his job, no.
But you can not tell me, this won't have an effect on the team.
Whether this will be a good one (team bonds together, us-vs-them or something like that) or a bad one (distraction, missed concentration etc.) we will see.
CSU has a much tougher schedule than Hawaii, playing Colorado as rivalry game, Florida, Arkansas and Illinois State (FCS) as non-conference games, plus Boise State and Air Force on the road.
The predictions are on a 6 win season.
Depended on the coaching and how the team will react on other stuff, they might fall harder or will elevated further.
I think they can win this game against Hawaii and if they also win the rivalry game, they might have start into a good season.
Hawaii will have a hard time stopping that explosive offense and CSU will have to take care of the Warriors offense, which also might not be that easy, but manageable.
I'm not willing to call an upset here.
Rams win.

Wyoming at New Mexico State
And last but not least this game.
Wyoming is lead by Craig Bohl in his 5th season.
So far he is a good hire. He did got a team with a 5-7 record (and his predecessor had overall in Wyoming a negative record) and guided them to 4-8, 2-10, 8-6 (division title) and 8-5.
Overall his record is also negative, but the trend is looking good.
They become stronger and better. If you don't now it, Bohl did win the FCS National Championship with North Dakota State 3 times in a row, before he went to Wyoming.
So he might know some about coaching.
He lost Josh Allen (starting QB) to the Buffalo Bills, but offense was not really the strength of Wyoming last season, their defense was.
And I think they can actually compete for the division title again.
Of cause they need to win and better a lot and better against Boise State (home) AND Fresno State (away) to win the division, which won't be easy.
In fact they will likely struggle to accomplish that.
But 7 to 8 wins are possible.
A strange mix of non-conference games, New Mexico State, Missouri, Washington State and Wofford (FCS) will show their strength and weaknesses.
Against Independent New Mexico State they will very likely win.
The Aggies are back after some seasons in the Sun Belt and eventually they did get better than in the last few years.
Doug Martin is in his 6th season and had a 7-6 record last year, the first at NMS since he started there, including a Bowl win.
Now as Indy, they play a wild mix of non-power5 teams and Minnesota of Big 10 and BYU.
They do play one FCS team and FBS-transition team Liberty TWICE.
For me this is a quite soft schedule and they will likely get some win, eventually more than last season.
They biggest problem NMS has is their setup.
For whatever reason did NMS decide to become independent (My guess is, not offers on joining a conference which has the best paycheck in combination with traveling time and other costs) and that will not help the team.
They should be part of a conference to secure income and to have a comparable schedule.
Indy means you have to deal with everything by yourself and they do not have the TV contracts of Notre Dame or BYU.
So money is an issue and that will show, longterm.
For this game here, I say Wyoming will only lose, if their transition to a new QB will backfire heavily.
I doubt that will happen and the defense will likely step up and win this.
Cowboys win.

'Til next time
Jack6 on BLOCK OF GRANITE

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