Author: brfcjordan95

College Football Week Six Preview

The weeks keep ticking by in the 2019 college football season, with another group of games that could have play-off ramifications further down the line. This weekend has some good under the radar games to pique interest also. Let’s look at the main talking points heading into week six.

1) Auburn – Florida Preview

The biggest matchup of the week is this Auburn – Florida game, with giant SEC implications. Both sides go into this one with plenty of confidence, and a 5-0 record. Auburn travels to Florida as favourites, having faced a much tougher schedule.

Bo Nix has been solid as a true freshman starter, but will face a tough task against a top 20 defense like Florida’s. For the Gators the game will depend a lot on backup Kyle Trask, making his third start, having played well against limited opposition. Both co-lead their SEC conference, with the winner closing in on a play-off berth.

2) Can Auburn do the Unthinkable in the SEC West?

The SEC West can legitimately claim to be the toughest conference in college football, but if Auburn can win against Florida could they claim the conference crown over Alabama? This has previously been an Alabama stronghold, but this year they face competition from Auburn and LSU.

Auburn have so far beat two top 25 teams on route to 5-0, and another win against tenth ranked Florida would boost them into play-off contention. They face a brutal schedule this season, with LSU, Georgia and Alabama to face. If they only lose to Georgia and beat the rest they will claim an unlikely SEC West title.

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Auburn has rolled over tough opponents this season, with another victory over Florida likely to bring them into play-off contention. Photo: Jason Caldwell/247Sports.

3) Iowa – Michigan Preview

Another massive conference matchup is this Big Ten game as Iowa travel to Michigan. The Wolverines are the traditional power in this game, but will go into it as underdogs after an underwhelming start to the season.

Iowa have started well at 4-0, co-leading the Big Ten West with Wisconsin. The Badgers brushed Michigan aside two weeks ago, and Iowa will feel confident heading into this game. Their defense ranks fifth in the nation, and Michigan have struggled on offense this season. Despite the home advantage Iowa should feel confident in this one.

4) Michigan Need Big Home Win

The result this weekend will have big implications for the rest of the Michigan season. They go into it 3-1 but have yet to convince in any of their wins. Their loss was in-conference to Wisconsin, putting them already a game behind Ohio State and Penn State in the Big Ten East.

Another conference loss to Iowa will likely take them out of the running for the title, and at two losses will make it almost impossible to secure a top ten ranking or featured bowl game. The Jim Harbaugh hot seat would only increase, so a lot rests on this game.

5) Michigan State – Ohio State Preview

Keeping things in the Big Ten East, this matchup of Michigan State and Ohio State will mean a lot going forward. Ohio State will feel confident after a 5-0 start and being at home, but 25th ranked Michigan State won’t roll over in this rivalry game.

This will be an interesting game, with the Ohio State offense, led by Quarterback Justin Fields, is currently eighth in the nation for total offense. Michigan State has the seventh ranked defense however. They key for Michigan State will be scoring points on an Ohio State defense that is second in the nation, allowing less than 225 yards per game.

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Justin Fields has excelled so far at Ohio State, and looks to be leading them into a potential national championship berth. Photo: Jay LaPrete/AP Photo.

6) Potential Banana Skin for Ohio State

As I mentioned above Ohio State will be favourites for this game, but don’t discount Michigan State. They currently co-lead the conference with Ohio State and Penn State, and are a ranked team worthy of respect.

Their defense is a top ten unit in the country, allowing just over 250 yards per game. Their edge rushers Kenny Willekes and Raequan Williams lead the team with 7.5 sacks between them in five games. Ohio State is also coming off a statement win against Nebraska, and with a rivalry game this weekend they may slip up at home.

7) Under the Radar Games to Watch

Some games that won’t receive massive hype but will provide plenty of intrigue include a likely lopsided affair as Utah State travel to fifth ranked LSU. This isn’t a matchup on paper, but I’ve included it as we’ll see potential NFL Draft top ten pick, Utah State QB Jordan Love take on a very good LSU defense, with comparisons with rising star Joe Burrow likely.

The Pac-12 provides some important games, with 4-1 California travelling to 13th ranked 3-1 Oregon. After that is 15th ranked Washington travelling to face a struggling 2-3 Stanford team.

8) ‘Fair Pay to Play ‘ Acts Building

The much talked about ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act introduced by California made headlines as it was officially signed this week on The Shop, and other states are now taking a stance on this divisive issue. Florida state representative Kionne McGhee proposed a similar bill this week that if passed, would go into effect July 1st 2020.

This has been followed by news that former Ohio State receiver and current U.S House of Representatives politician Anthony Gonzalez is proposing federal legislation allowing college athletes to earn money through endorsement deals nationally. After much blustering from the NCAA, their patriarchy may be coming to an end.

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California governor Gavin Newsom signed his state’s ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act live on The Shop with LeBron James this week. Photo: The Shop.

9) Coaches Already on the Hot Seat

The firing of Chris Ash at Rutgers last weekend was the first of the year, but many college coaches are feeling the pressure after poor starts to the season. USC head coach Clay Helton was almost fired last year, but is unlikely to survive this season. They have a 3-2 record and face a tough schedule, starting with ninth ranked Notre Dame this weekend.

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt will be another facing being fired, with a 1-3 start hard to come back from. Coming from Alabama he was supposed to resurrect this historic program, but they have fallen even further away under him.

10) Nick Saban Doesn’t Follow Rankings

The Alabama coach made headlines this week, saying that the rankings don’t matter until the end of the season. This is a classic Saban quote, straight from the Bill Belichick school of media quotes. It does show once again however the relentless nature both show in coaching.

Saban has already cemented himself as a legend of college football, but his relentless desire to improve is a big reason why Alabama has become the dominant force in college football for a decade now.

That wraps up my preview for week six of the season, if you have any thoughts on these points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

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Are Tottenham in Crisis?

As an Arsenal fan this next line is a tough one to write, but over the past five years Tottenham have overtaken us as kings of North London. For the past three years Spurs have finished above Arsenal, feasting on Champions League football as the Gunners make do with the Europa League.

After moving into their new 62 000 seater stadium last year, the future should be looking rosy. Aside from their Champions League heroics last season, the results on the pitch haven’t met expectation. After being a model of how to run a club well, are Tottenham now in crisis?

Pundits and fans alike have begun questioning Tottenham, after a hangover from a poor end to last season continues. They sit sixth in the Premier League after seven games, already five points behind Manchester City and ten behind Liverpool. Tottenham are not competing with the likes of City and Liverpool, but they cemented themselves as the third best team in the league in recent seasons.

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Mauricio Pochettino and his Tottenham players celebrate their historic progression to the Champions League final. The feeling around the club has changed massively in the six months since this photo. Photo: Press Association

Now, even that distinction is under threat. Arsenal are currently above them, but haven’t played well. Chelsea are under a transfer ban and have an inexperienced manager, and Manchester United have their worst squad in years. It’s not that these three clubs have stepped up, it appears at this stage that Spurs have regressed to their level. Currently the third best team in the league is none of these, but Leicester and based on performances they can stay there.

The results haven’t looked good the entire year. Of the 24 Premier League games they’ve played in 2019, their record is: 11 wins, 4 draws and 10 losses. That form puts them 9th in the table, with the performances matching these stats.

Tottenham have struggled through a tumultuous summer. Key players Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are all out of contract next summer, with manager Mauricio Pochettino using them sparingly this season. The club could be allowing £175m to walk out the door for nothing next year, and the squad has suffered.

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Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen smile in happier times. Now both, along with Vertonghen’s defensive partner Toby Alderweireld, are likely to leave next summer for free. Photo: Jorg Schuler/Getty Images.

 

Tottenham have always been punching above their weight with their performances, and this is reflected in their overall squad depth. The likes of Juan Foyth, Serge Aurier and Victor Wanyama haven’t stepped up. Spurs have had a small squad in recent years, and their suffering for it now. The first eleven can match anyone in the league, but with contract sagas and injuries the squad rotation players haven’t played well enough to keep them competitive.

The one shining light for Spurs in 2019 has been their run to the Champions League final. Despite losing 1-0 to Liverpool, even making the final was a massive achievement. This season they can’t let that distract them, having started this years competition poorly. Throwing away a 2-0 lead away at Olympiacos was compounded by a humiliating 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich this week.

The reason the squad depth is an issue is because of their frugal chairman Daniel Levy. He is renowned for being stubborn in the transfer market, who doesn’t vary from his own valuations of players. This is why the club didn’t sell Eriksen, Vertonghen or Alderweireld in the summer.

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Spurs net spend figures are skewed by their big spending this summer. Without this, they would be a mid-table club in terms of net spend. Photo: Transfermarkt.

Since 2015 Spurs have a net spend of -£120m, with £90m of that coming this summer. The big money moves for Tanguy Ndombele (£54m) and Giovani Lo Celso (£55m) have covered up the fact that for the previous four years their net spend was -£30m, with the club famously going over 500 days without signing a player. Compared to their rivals: Chelsea (-£142m, Arsenal (-£335m) and Man Utd (-£554m) they haven’t spent to their level and this is hurting the team.

Another factor behind the poor performances is the seemingly obvious disharmony in the squad. Tottenham are known to be frugal with the wage budget, offering players below market value wages with big incentives. This has worked up until now, as the players have bought into the project at the club, but this season it appears the wheels are falling off.

There is the ongoing contract issues with Eriksen, Alderweireld and Vertonghen, all of whom are likely to leave next summer for free. Danny Rose publicly said he wanted to leave in the summer, and Hugo Lloris has previously said he will leave if Pochettino goes. The players know they could leave the club to win trophies and earn higher wages, so it will be tough for the club to keep their best players if they don’t win this season.

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Tottenham players look dejected on a humiliating night for the club. Losing 7-2 at home to Bayern Munich only heightens the pressure on this team. Photo: Press Association.

The reason I say this season is because it’s not just the players other clubs have been scouting. It’s manager Mauricio Pochettino. He was heavily linked with both the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs this year, and it’s well known he has a rocky relationship with Levy. Much like the players, he wants to take the next step in his career and the club don’t seem to be able to satisfy his ambitions anymore.

He’s been with the club for five years now, and some in the media have questioned whether it’s simply the end of his cycle. Maybe the players are not listening to him as intently as they have in previous years, or maybe he has grown weary of challenging but ultimately failing to win trophies.

This season feels like a big turning point, with the current trajectory the club is on isn’t healthy long-term. They look to have slipped back this season, although it’s still early, with off-pitch turmoil only compounding their problems. It’s unclear who will still be at the club next season, with a season of regression only making it more likely key players or management would leave. Could the Pochettino era be coming to an end?

What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

College Football Week Five Review

This past weekend felt like the truest indicator so far of where the major teams are at this season. Five weeks in and some secured statement wins, some recovered well and some struggled in victory. Let’s take a look at some of the main talking points from yet another exciting weekend in college football.

1) Ohio State Flashes Potential on National Stage

Ohio State laid their biggest indicator of the season that this team is for real. They throttled a good Nebraska side 48-7, excelling on all phases of the ball. The offense always gets the headlines, but Justin Fields deserves praise for another stellar performance since transferring from Georgia in the summer.

15-21 for 212 yards and 3 TD’s, along with 177 rushing yards for Running Back J.K Dobbins shows how dominant they were. The defense did even better, limiting Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez to 47 yards passing and three interceptions. Now 5-0, they find themselves in the play-off places for the first time this season.

2) Clemson Battle Past North Carolina

From convincing to unconvincing wins, as top ranked Clemson came very close to a loss against a resurgent North Carolina. They didn’t look good in this game, with sophomore phenom Trevor Lawrence struggling again.

The Clemson team is an embarrassment of riches, but being a failed two-point conversion away from losing doesn’t inspire confidence. They’ve dropped to second in the AP Top 25 poll, and will need to regroup quickly as the pressure mounts.

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North Carolina gave Clemson an almighty scare, falling short 21-20 to a more talented Clemson side. Their response will show their character going forward. Photo: Chris Seward/AP.

3) Notre Dame Put Georgia Loss Behind Them

Notre Dame recovered from a tough loss to Georgia with the perfect rebuttal in this potential banana skin. Virginia came into this game full of confidence, but Notre Dame proved too strong and deserved their 35-20 victory.

Notre Dame relied on Running Back Tony Jones Jr on offense, with 131 rushing yards and 3 TD’s proving vital. On the defensive side of the ball, Defensive End Julian Okwara had a career day with three of the teams eight sacks, as well as forcing a fumble in one of their five turnovers. The defense played lights out and deserves national recognition for this performance.

4) Washington Back in Pac-12 Mix

Washington have recovered well from a tough early season loss to California, swatting aside USC 28-14 to regain ground in the Pac-12. Salvon Ahmed had a big day at Running Back, with 153 yards and touchdown in a vital win.

This win jumps them back up to second in the Pac-12 North. Whilst any faint dreams of a national title chance are long gone, they find themselves 15th in the AP Polls. If they can win out from here on out they will have earned a top ten berth and a prominent bowl game.

5) Penn State Shutout Maryland

Penn State responded perfectly to their first challenge this season, mauling a high-powered Maryland offense. The defense stood out in this game, keeping a previously top ranked scoring offense to zero points. A previously unstoppable Maryland team couldn’t get anything going at all, holding Quarterback Josh Jackson to 65 passing yards and two interceptions.

For Penn State their offense had no problem scoring points, with sophomore Quarterback Sean Clifford going off with over 450 combined yards and four touchdowns in this rout. This is a big win for Penn State and they have kept themselves in the hunt.

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Penn State Running Back Ricky Slade celebrates his touchdown in this 59-0 rout of Maryland on their own turf. Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sport.

6) Other Key Results This Week

After such a disappointing loss last weekend Michigan responded in the perfect manner, dismantling a poor Rutgers team. Much criticised Quarterback Shea Patterson responded with three passing touchdowns and a rushing TD in a 52-0 rout. The only negative for the Wolverines was their running game struggling again.

Arizona State beat 15th ranked California 24-17, which is a pivotal win for them after a slow start to their Pac-12 season. They are on the outside looking in right now, but this is a massive win and will give them confidence going forward.

7) Stand Out Week Five Performers 

For the standout performer we can’t overlook Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith. The third head of their receiving core behind Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs went off against Ole Miss, with 274 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Another receiver who impressed is Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, who showed an incredible turn and burst of speed on a 71 yard touchdown against Texas Tech, ending up with 185 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a first round prospect in a loaded wide receiver class this year.

8) Heisman Contenders Update

Now we’re well into the season, the key contenders for the 2019 Heisman Trophy are emerging. Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa is having a monster season, currently second in the nation with over 1700 yards in only five games. He’s also protecting the football, with 23 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Of the rest Joe Burrow is the outside bet, having surprised everyone with the impressive start he’s had. Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts has played lights out this season, going for over 1200 yards passing and over 440 yards rushing in four games. Tua remains the favourite, but there’s plenty of contenders keeping him honest.

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Tua Tagovailoa is living a charmed life this year. He’s the current Heisman favourite and is many draft experts pick for the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

9) AP Top 25 Rankings

The latest rankings going into week six have been released, with the mild surprise that Alabama have overtaken Clemson for the top spot. It’s an understandable move after their performances last weekend. After their impressive win Ohio State jumped LSU for fourth and the final play-off place.

Further down, Notre Dame are the only other team to move in the top ten, vaulting Florida for ninth. Washington improve two places to 15th, with Utah, UCF and Michigan all moving up to 17th,18th and 19th respectively. California, USC and Kansas State are the big losers, all dropping out of the rankings this week.

10) First Coaching Casualty of the Year

Rutgers head coach Chris Ash was the first casualty of the 2019 season. After his teams 52-0 demolition against Michigan he was shown the door after three years in charge. His 8-32 record is poor, along with a 3-26 record in the Big Ten conference. Offensive coordinator John McNulty has also been fired after their 1-3 start.

Tight Ends coach Nunzio Campanile will take the interim head coach job for the season. Ash had previously been defensive coordinator for the 2014 national champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Early favourites to replace him include Greg Schiano, Mike Elko and Jeff Monken.

That wraps up the main talking points from another week of college football, if you have any thoughts on this points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who read this blog I really appreciate it!

 

College Football Week Five Preview

After four weeks we look to have an established order at the top of the college football world, with Clemson and Alabama at the top and the rest snapping at their heels. Week five doesn’t have the prominent matchup’s from last weekend, but there is plenty of intrigue in this weeks slate of games. Let’s preview the main talking points for the weekend ahead.

1) Notre Dame – Virginia Preview

Notre Dame aim to fight back this weekend against a good Virginia team in what will be another tough game for them. They can take a lot of positives from last weekend as they matched up well with third ranked Georgia.

Virginia on the other hand roll into Notre Dame stadium 4-0 and leading the ACC Coastal conference. They did struggle last weekend to beat lowly Old Dominion, but have otherwise impressed this season. Their defense is a top 15 unit, led by star Cornerback Bryce Hall. The tenth ranked Fighting Irish barely have a top 50 offense, so this game should be closer than many expect.

2) Bryce Hall Key to Virginia Hopes

Virginia are living up to the pre-season hype as an unlikely ACC Coastal champs, and much of that is because of their defense. Their unit ranks 14th in the country through four games, keeping opposing teams to 263 yards per game.

Their key component is Cornerback Bryce Hall, a senior many NFL scouts are high on.  Many predict he will be a late first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he’s that highly rated. For this game Hall will be focused on Notre Dame’s leading receiver Chase Claypool, in what will be a key matchup in this game.

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Bryce Hall has been a consistent high point in the Virginia defense. He’s projected as a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Photo: Ryan Kelly/Getty Images.

3) USC – Washington Preview

Another top 25 matchup is this all Pac-12 affair between 21st ranked USC and 17th ranked Washington. Both sides have flashed potential this season, but have also been inconsistent. They both enter at 3-1, looking for a statement Pac-12 win.

Washington need to win to remain in contention for the Pac-12 North, having already lost to California. Transfer QB Jacob Eason has impressed, already throwing for over 1000 yards in four games. USC meanwhile have suffered from injury problems to key positions, none more so than at the Quarterback. They enter this game with third-string QB Matt Fink.

4) Matt Fink – Michael Pittman Jr Connection Key for USC

USC will travel into Washington as slight underdogs, and the key for them will be the connection between QB Matt Fink and receiver Michael Pittman Jr. Fink made his debut last week in an upset win against Utah, impressing with 350 yards and 3 TD’s.

He immediately made a connection with senior Pittman Jr, who went off for 232 yards and a touchdown. Utah has a good defense so to shred them like this was impressive. Washington has a pretty good defense, and in a key road game they need Fink to find Pittman often.

5) Penn State – Maryland Preview

Opening the college football weekend is this intriguing Friday night matchup between Penn State and Maryland. Penn State travel to Maryland 3-0 and ranked 12th in the nation, but face a tough matchup against the Terrapins.

Maryland had broken into the top 25 before being upset by Temple, and will have used their bye week to regroup and refocus for this game. This will be intriguing as Penn State goes in as favourites with a good defense, but Maryland has a top ten offense that has 21 TD’s in only three games.

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Penn State’s Micah Parsons leads this Penn State defense, tasked with stopping a prolific Maryland offense this weekend. Photo: John Stinely.

6) First Real Test for Penn State

Penn State has opened the year strongly, however they have yet to be seriously tested. They walked over Idaho and Buffalo, and struggled against a plucky Pitt team. We will learn a lot about this Penn State team here.

Their defense, led by Linebacker Micah Parsons have limited opponents to 30 combined points from three games, but face a tough test stopping this Maryland offense.  If they can do this they have a good chance of winning . It’s hard to gauge where their offense is with the opponents they’ve played, so this will be another interesting matchup.

7) Other Games to Watch Out for

Aside from the games mentioned above, there is plenty of games for college football fans to feast on this weekend. The College Gameday crew head to Lincoln, Nebraska for an exciting matchup between Ohio State and Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have put up 152 points in four games, but face fifth ranked Ohio State and their incredible defense, led by potential number one NFL Draft pick Chase Young.

Seventh ranked Auburn face Mississippi State, hoping to avoid slipping up after a massive win last weekend against Texas A&M. If they carry over their early season form they will be contending for the SEC Championship game and a shot at the College Football Play-Off.

8) ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act Causing Trouble

The proposed ‘Fair Pay to Play’ Act has created plenty of headlines since it was announced several weeks ago. The California bill would allow athletes to profit from the use of their name,likeness and image without facing NCAA penalty.

The bill has been supported by the likes of LeBron James and Bernie Sanders, but the NCAA and California universities are opposed to it. The NCAA have already threatened that 20 California schools would be ineligible for it’s competition if this comes to fruition. This is a seismic moment for players and is the strongest challenge to NCAA rules to date.

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NCAA Mark Emmert has spoken out against the proposed ‘Pay to Play’ Act, in what could prove the biggest challenge to the NCAA in decades. Photo: Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images.

9) Tua Tagovailoa Almost Became A USC Trojan

Star Alabama Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa made headlines this week by announcing on the Dan Patrick radio show that he almost transferred to USC in 2017. Tagovailoa was a true freshman at the time behind Jalen Hurts, before becoming the hero by replacing Hurts and winning the National Championship for Alabama.

Tagovailoa said he wanted to transfer so that his parents could see him play and USC was his childhood team. Tua will likely be the first Quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft, although many USC fans will now wonder what if, especially with their spate of QB injuries currently.

10) D’Eriq King to Stay at Houston After All

The most dramatic story of this week was the news on Monday that Houston QB D’Eriq King was redshirting this year and transferring, only for him to come out hours later and deny this story from his dad. King and star receiver Keith Corbin will redshirt, but aim to return to Houston next year.

This is a story that divides opinion, with some questioning if both won’t still transfer at the end of the year. Houston will struggle this year without them, but if they do return next year they will be looking to take the step up to the NFL.

That wraps up this preview of the week five college football slate, if you have any questions about these talking points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

College Football Week Four Review

Week four of the college football season had plenty of big time games and provided some upsets also. These two reasons are a big contributing factor in why we love the college game, so let’s take a look at the main talking points from a riveting weekend of football.

1) Georgia Get Crucial Win Against Notre Dame

The marquee game of the weekend didn’t disappoint, with Georgia overcoming a very good Notre Dame side. The Fighting Irish tested Georgia on their home turf, and can take positives from a tough loss.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm was solid on the day, with D’Andre Swift good once again with 98 rushing yards and a touchdown. The defense for Georgia was key, forcing two turnovers and holding Notre Dame’s leading rusher to 21 yards. This was a statement win for Georgia and it’s play-off hopes, but Notre Dame ran them close and showed they are a very good side too.

2) Wisconsin Handle Poor Michigan Team

The top 15 matchup between Wisconsin and Michigan ended up being a convincing win for a good Wisconsin side. Star player Jonathan Taylor stepped up with 203 rushing yards and two touchdowns, showing his NFL potential on the national stage once again.

Michigan have been unconvincing in victories going into this game, and against better opposition they were punished for their mistakes. The passing game was solid if unspectacular, with the rushing game failing to get going all day. Wisconsin have jumped into the top ten now, with Michigan falling down to 20th.

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Jonathan Taylor running in for one of two TD’s in a convincing Wisconsin win against a poor Michigan team. Surely NFL stardom beckons next for Taylor. Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

3) Jonathan Taylor Goes Off

Wisconsin running back has been a household name in college football for two years now, with yet another massive performance last weekend against good opposition. The junior is on pace to challenge the all-time leading rusher in college football, Ron Dayne with 7,125 yards.

After a 2,194 yard season last year, he’s started slow by his standards with 237 yards in their opening two games. Last weekend he almost doubled that with 203 yards against a respectable Michigan team. It’s likely Taylor will declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, but this could be the springboard for another massive season at Wisconsin.

4) Auburn Win Big Against Texas A&M

Auburn have emerged as a dark horse for the College Football play-off after two statement wins in their opening four games. They went into College Station to face Texas A&M and handled them 28-20 in a massive win for the team.

They proved their comeback win against Oregon wasn’t a lucky win, only allowing Texas A&M to score three points until a 17-point fourth quarter resurgence. True freshman Bo Nix was solid for the Tigers, and gains yet more valuable experience with this win. Texas A&M drop to 23rd with their 2-2 record, with Auburn rising to seventh.

5) Joe Burrow Goes Off in LSU Rout

LSU were always expected to beat an 0-3 Vanderbilt team, but the way they dismantled them with have their fans feeling good about the season ahead. QB Joe Burrow added to his rising hype with another masterful performance, this time against limited competition.

25-34 for 398 yards and 6 TD’s is video game numbers, as LSU routed them 66-38. Burrow has emerged this season and has led LSU into the play-off places, whilst also redefining him as a future NFL Draft prospect, both of which was not expected going into the season. He might also be a dark horse for the 2019 Heisman Trophy too.

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LSU QB Joe Burrow barely needed to break sweat in a convincing win against Vanderbilt. He’s started off strongly and is quickly emerging as a top QB in college football. Photo: Associated Press.

6) UCF Dreams Shattered by Pitt

The ultimate underdog team in college football was the UCF Knights, but their dreams of finally being nationally recognised were badly damaged with this loss to a tough Pitt team. After last weekends big win against Stanford, UCF struggled in this 35-34 slug fest.

Pitt are a well coached football team, and it appears that after such a statement win UCF struggled with this tough following fixture. The loss drops them to 22nd in the AP rankings, and it will be tough for them to regain ground because of their conference schedule.

7) Wild Pac-12 Shootout in Washington

Many college football fans struggle to watch Pac-12 games because of their awkward timings for most of the country, but the fans who tuned in for this game got a treat. UCLA got an important 67-63 win against Washington State. Yes, that scoreline is correct.

Both QB’s threw for over 500 yards, with Washington State QB Anthony Gordon throwing 9 TD’s. This was a vital win for UCLA and Chip Kelly, who have struggled massively to start the season. This loss has cost Washington State a AP Top 25 berth, something they may struggle to regain this season.

8) Houston QB D’Eriq King to Transfer

Houston QB D’Eriq King has announced he is sitting out the rest of this season and intends to transfer from Houston. The new redshirt rule means although he has played in all four games this season, he can use this year to redshirt and save a year of eligibility.

This is likely to be a big talking point in college football, as this appears the first example of a player choosing to sit out and transfer for his best interests. Some will see it as a savvy move and a chance to transfer to a more established program, with some likely to see it as him being selfish and quitting on his team.

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Houston QB D’Eriq King has made headlines with his plans to sit out and transfer next year, this is likely to be a major talking point for the game this season. Photo: Godofredo Vasquez/Houston Chronicle.

9) Biggest Week Four Performances

Aside from those already mentioned, there were some standout performances from week four of the college football season. LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase stood out with 229 yards and 4 TD’s in their rout of Vanderbilt. He’s quickly developed in Burrow’s favourite target, and the sophomore is sure to be garnering NFL attention with his performances.

The two QB’s in the UCLA – Washington State matchup deserve some attention, with UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson recovering from a poor start to the year with 507 yards and 7 TD’s in their win. Washington State QB Anthony Gordon going for 570 yards and 9 TD’s is insane numbers.

10) College Football Week Five AP Top 25 Poll

The newest AP Top 25 rankings have been released, with very few changes at the top. The top four remain the same, with the biggest change being Ohio State jumping Oklahoma because of their bye week for fifth. Auburn jumped to seventh, with Wisconsin breaking the top ten in eighth.

Notre Dame dropped to tenth with their loss, with Utah and Michigan the biggest losers, each dropping nine places to 19th and 20th respectively. After beating Utah USC are now 21st, with Washington State (19th), Arizona State (24th) and TCU (25th) dropping out this week.

That wraps up my recap of the fourth week of the season, if you have any thoughts on these talking points let me know in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

College Football Week Four Preview

This weekend of college football will provide plenty of answers for teams and fans, with a multitude of marquee games as we begin to see who is the real deal and who is faking it. Let’s take a look at the main talking points for this weekend’s slate of games.

1) Georgia – Notre Dame Preview

This top ten matchup is the biggest game of the weekend. Third ranked Georgia face seventh ranked Notre Dame in Athens. The last matchup was a close 20-19 win in 2017, and was Jake Fromm’s coming out party. Two years down the line and both sides have have eyes on the play-off.

Fromm, now a junior, is a top level quarterback at this level, and with support from the likes of running back D’Andre Swift has plenty of weapons. Notre Dame QB Ian Book has started the season hot, and his dual-threat ability makes him dangerous to this Georgia defense.

2) Battle of Jake Fromm and Ian Book

Quarterback is the most important position in the sport, so a big factor in deciding this game will be the play of the two signal callers. Fromm has the higher profile, having led Georgia to the national championship game as a freshman. He has since developed into a future first round NFL Draft pick.

Ian Book isn’t talked about as much by the media, but has quietly developed into a very good QB for the Fighting Irish. Like I mentioned above, the senior QB has started hot this season, with 553 yards and 6 TD’s to 0 INT’s in his opening three games.

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Jake Fromm was only a true freshman in his first start the last time Notre Dame played Georgia. Now they face off with play-off ambitions for both. Photo: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire.

3) Michigan – Wisconsin Preview

Another massive game this weekend is this Michigan and Wisconsin matchup. Both sides are ranked just outside the top ten at 11th and 13th respectively, with a win providing a big step into the top ten.

Both sides are 2-0, but Wisconsin has looked more convincing against limited competition. Having home field advantage only enhances their tag as slight favourites. Running back Jonathan Taylor is a stud who will give Michigan problems, with the return of their best lineman Jon Runyan likely to enhance Michigan’s offensive play.

4) Can Jim Harbaugh Get His Statement Win?

The pressure is mounting on head coach Jim Harbaugh after his side have started the season slowly. Allowing Middle Tennessee to score 21 at home and escaping Army in overtime doesn’t bode well going into a tough Wisconsin matchup. He has a good recent record against them, but this could be their best opportunity for revenge.

He hasn’t been helped by injuries to key players like left tackle Jon Runyan and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, but they have enough talent to be a top ten side. Quarterback Shea Patterson has struggled, with the running game solid but not spectacular.

5) Auburn – Texas A&M Preview

The big games just keep coming this weekend, with a massive matchup for these historic programs. Eighth ranked Auburn travel to College Station to face the 17th ranked Aggies.  Auburn already have a statement win this year against Oregon, but this game could make or break Texas A&M’s season.

Led by true freshman Bo Nix, Auburn surprised some by beating Oregon opening weekend, however this is another massive test. Texas A&M have already lost to Clemson, with another defeat here will take them out of contention for major honours.

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Bo Nix led Auburn to a comeback win in his debut for the Tigers. As to be expected with a true freshman, he’s struggled slightly with the adaptation to top level college football. Photo: Ron Jenkins/AP Photo.

6) Will Bo Nix Show up Big Again?

Bo Nix responded to immense pressure with a clutch comeback win against a good Oregon side in his debut, with this another massive test. Starting a true freshman on the road in a tough environment in College Station is always tricky, with the stats giving little confidence either

Nix is 83rd in the nation for passing yards, and his leading receiver after three games is Eli Stove with 133 yards. The offense has leaned on running back JaTarvious Whitlow, as they try to help Nix as much as possible. Nix will need to step up if they want to win this game.

7) Other Games to Look Out For

Below these top level games there are plenty amongst the slate that will pique fans interest. Tenth ranked Utah open the weekend with a trip to California to face a wounded USC team. Utah have looked good so far but USC will look to rebound from their OT loss to BYU last weekend.

Speaking of them, BYU hosts 22nd ranked Washington. Both sides already have one loss and another this early in the year could really pull the pin on their seasons. 3-0 Oklahoma State travel to Texas to face the 12th ranked Longhorns. This could be a banana skin for Texas.

8) Names to Look Out For 

All three games have star players with NFL potential, starting with Utah RB Zack Moss. He isn’t known nationally, but has developed into a very good player with mid-round NFL potential. 373 yards in three games shows the good start he’s had.

For BYU and Washington it’s hard to look past Washington QB Jacob Eason. The Georgia transfer has plenty of hype and has so far delivered. Seven TD’s to one interception and is averaging just under 300 yards a game. Another QB to look out for is Texas Sam Ehlinger, who has impressed despite a tough loss to LSU. His stats are incredible and is cementing himself as an NFL prospect.

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Utah Running Back Zack Moss has quietly built into a very good back with tremendous NFL potential. He’s leading Utah to a top ten ranking. Photo: NCAA.

9) Wider Play-Off Implications for This Week

The weekend ahead will have wider reaching consequences for the College Football Play-Off. Starting with the Georgia and Notre Dame game, if the Fighting Irish win they could vault into the top four. Their toughest remaining matchup’s would be against Virginia and Michigan, two games they would go into as favourites.

If Auburn beat Texas A&M, that would be two wins against ranked sides and would surely push them to the cusp of the play-off. Whoever wins in the Michigan – Wisconsin game will likely jump into the top ten, and another Utah win will see them rise also.

10) Players to Watch

We’ve already mentioned some key players to focus on this weekend, but here are some of the pivotal players for the leading matchup’s. We’ve mentioned Jake Fromm, but the Georgia offense is led by RB D’Andre Swift, who is averaging a massive 9.4 yards for the season.

For Notre Dame this could be a Chase Claypool coming out party, the receiver leads the team with 190 yards in two games.Jonathan Taylor will be a focal point for Wisconsin, while Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet will be glad to have left tackle Jon Runyan back to help the freshman.

That wraps up this preview for what will be an exciting week of college football. If you have any comments on the talking points I’ve mentioned, let me know in the comments section or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this article I really appreciate it!

 

College Football Week Three Review

Week three had very few marquee games scheduled, but still provided plenty of shock and intrigue as college football inevitably does. For the top ranked sides it was plain sailing, however for some lower down the AP Top 25 rankings there was plenty of drama. Let’s look back at some of the main talking points from the past weekend.

1) Georgia dominate Arkansas State

This headline is not shocking at all, but the Bulldogs are flying slightly under the radar this season. So far plenty of people are talking about Clemson and Alabama, but Georgia has looked convincing in every win.

The third ranked side are stacked with NFL talent led by Running Back D’Andre Swift, currently fourth in the nation for yards per attempt at 9.4. Quarterback Jake Fromm leads this team and will likely go in the first round of next years NFL Draft if he declares. They will face their first test this weekend with a matchup with seventh ranked Notre Dame.

2) Alabama Cruise Past South Carolina

Alabama beating South Carolina doesn’t usually create headlines, however their manner of victory will have the rest of the country on notice. It appears they have used last years defeat to Clemson to come back much stronger this year.

Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had a career day going 28-36 for 444 yards and five touchdowns, both records for the junior. They have three of the best receivers in the nation in Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith and always have a stacked defense. Clemson still have questions surrounding them, unlike the Crimson Tide.

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Tua Tagovailoa set career highs for passing yards and touchdowns in their beat down of South Carolina. Alabama have clearly improved since last season already. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.

3) Clemson Win but Questions Remain

Clemson clobbered Syracuse 41-6 in what some had previously said could be a difficult matchup for the Tigers. Despite the convincing win, some are still questioning QB Trevor Lawrence.

Lawrence has thrown five interceptions in three games, tied for second in the nation amongst all college quarterbacks. This is also one more than he threw all of last season. He’s already been anointed the chosen one, but we forget he’s still only a 19 year-old kid. Talk of being the first pick in the NFL Draft can wait, for now we need to let him develop as a player and person first.

4) UCF Stun Stanford, Shock the Nation

The University of Central Florida is not a powerhouse college football program, but they have everyone’s attention after this past weekend. They mauled Stanford 45-27 in a statement win for this program.

UCF had gone 25 straight games unbeaten before this season, but was never respected by the play-off voters because of their American Athletic Conference. A convincing win like this against a previously ranked Stanford side is massive for this team and has already seen them rise to 15th in the AP Top 25. If they go unbeaten they could rise into the top ten.

5) Iowa Win Crazy Cy-Hawk Game

The matchup of the weekend was this annual Cy-Hawk trophy game between Iowa and Iowa State, with the Hawkeyes coming out on top in a close encounter. The game was weather delayed twice and went on for over six hours.

Iowa State started strongly and fans began to dream of reclaiming the Cy-Hawk trophy after four years of Iowa wins, but their own mistakes cost them late in the game. With one minute to go they were set to get the ball back, but fumbled the return in bizarre circumstances, handing Iowa a narrow 18-17 win in Ames.

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Iowa players lift the Cy-Hawk trophy after a very close 18-17 win against rivals Iowa State in Ames. This is their fifth successive win in this matchup. Photo: Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan.

6) Upsets From Week Three

Week three saw some of the lower ranked top 25 sides fall in dramatic fashion. Arizona State shocked 18th ranked Michigan State 10-7, going ahead with 50 seconds left. Michigan State missed a game tying 47 yarder, having seconds before made a 42- yard kick, only for a penalty to negate it.

21st ranked Maryland were upset by Temple 20-17, only a week after shocking Syracuse to vault into the AP Top 25 rankings. 24th ranked USC fell in overtime to BYU 30-27, a loss that piles the pressure on head coach Clay Helton.

7) Feleipe Franks Likely Finished for Season

Florida QB Feleipe Franks is likely out for the season after breaking and dislocating his ankle in last weekends close win against Kentucky. The junior had looked good in the opening two games and was set for a big season for the Gators.

Whilst it hasn’t been officially confirmed he’s out, head coach Dan Mullen alluded to this during his post-game press conference. From here Franks may apply for a medical redshirt to preserve this seasons eligibility, or may choose to rehab and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.

8) Top Running Backs Through Week Three

Now that week three has past we’re beginning to see a good sample size to evaluate some of the top Running Backs this season. Leading the nation is Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard with 521 yards and seven touchdowns through three games. He wasn’t a highly rated player heading into the season, but could declare for the Draft next year if he continues on this form.

Of the more recognisable names it’s Ohio State’s J.K Dobbins and Florida State’s Cam Akers leading the way, with 425 and 387 yards respectively. The big surprise is Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts joint sixth with 373 rushing yards.

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Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard leads the nation in rushing yards after three games. He wasn’t well known before the season, but could be a NFL Draft sleeper should he declare. Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer/ AP Photo.  

9) Top Wide Receivers Through Week Three

Much like with the Running Backs, we can begin to evaluate the early standout Wide Receivers from the first three weeks of the college football season. Oklahoma State junior Tylan Wallace leads with 390 yards and six touchdowns. Wallace was a draft sleeper heading into the year, but will already be climbing 2020 draft boards.

Of those leading the way going into the season, it’s Clemson’s Tee Higgins and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy who have impressed the most. They have 318 1 TD and 308 4 TD’s respectively. Both will be early first round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.

10) Week Three AP Top 25 

The week three AP Top 25 rankings have been released, and to nobodies surprise the play-off places haven’t changed at all this week after convincing wins by all four sides. Utah is the only move in the top ten, jumping Michigan for tenth, after Michigan had a bye week.

UCF has risen two places after destroying Stanford to 15th, with Virginia rising to 21st after their 31-24 win over Florida State. California, Arizona State and TCU all debut in the top 25 polls, replacing Michigan State, USC and Maryland.

That wraps up this look back at ten of the talking points from the past weekend of college football. If you have any thoughts about these points feel free to comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a big thank you to anyone who read this article I really appreciate it!