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Arsenal Coaching Candidates

Arsenal are a football club currently in crisis. They sacked manager Unai Emery two weeks ago, yet the club does not appear to have a succinct plan to replace him. There has been talk of a laundry list of 12-15 candidates in mind, showing a lack of forward planning from the owner and the board.

Fans and pundits seem split on who is the right candidate for Arsenal. Some want a big name like Max Allegri or Carlo Ancelotti, others want a former player like Patrick Vieira. Some are calling for a younger, more progressive coach like Julian Nagelsmann. With so much confusion surrounding this, I thought I would do a quick piece looking at some of those linked with the job, and some I would like to see at Arsenal.

Carlo Ancelotti

Ancelotti has been heavily linked with the Arsenal job since his sacking from Napoli last week. The Italian is a household name with an incredible resume filled with success everywhere he’s been.

He has experience of the Premier League from a two-year stint at Chelsea, however some question whether he is right for Arsenal. He is 60 years old and turning around a club in crisis is something he has little experience of. He is also being heavily linked with the Everton job, so the club would need to act quick if he’s their man.

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Ancelotti’s last major title was the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2017. Some also question whether he could turn Arsenal around? Photo: CarloAncelotti.it

Max Allegri 

Allegri is a name fans were calling for 18 months ago when it was announced Arsene Wenger was standing down. The Italian enjoyed incredible success at Juventus, dominating domestically and twice reached the Champions League final.

Since leaving Juventus in the summer he has taken time away from the game, a move that could go either way in his next job. He has admitted to taking English lessons, however Emery’s poor English showed how much it can hinder a manager. He would be a good appointment, but would he want this job right now?

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Max Allegri celebrates his fifth successive Serie A title with Cristiano Ronaldo. With their current malaise would he want the job? Photo: Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images.

Mikel Arteta

Arteta has been heavily linked with the job over the weekend after it appears he met with the chief executive. The current Manchester City assistant was a contender for the job last summer, so it’s clear the current regime at Arsenal are very high on him.

That he played almost 150 games for the club between 2011 and 2016 only enhances his chances, as Arsenal would love to replicate the attacking style Manchester City play. He would be a risky appointment with his lack of managerial experience, but having learned under Pep Guardiola, who worlds best manager, he could be a risk worth taking.

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Mikel Arteta has learned under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, has his time come for his first managerial job. Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.

Patrick Vieira

Club legend Vieira was an early contender for the job, with fans and pundits using the example of Frank Lampard at Chelsea and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. The Frenchman would have a lot of fan support, however he lacks managerial experience.

He did well at New York City FC, but his results at Nice have been mixed. They have started the season slowly, currently 13th in Ligue 1. He would be a good story at the club, although many will question whether the step up is too soon for Vieira considering the mess Arsenal are currently in.

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Vieira is a club legend at Arsenal, but has had mixed success at Nice. Could the step up to Arsenal be too big given their current state. Photo: Jean-Francois Monier/Getty Images.

Julian Nagelsmann 

Nagelsmann is one of the hottest young coaches in Europe, having proved his credentials in the Bundesliga. He took his first club Hoffenheim from the relegation zone to the Champions League in two seasons, before joining RB Leipzig this summer.

Leipzig currently top the Bundesliga and play exciting football with a team filled with young talent. Reaching the round of 16 in the Champions League shows his skills translate to Europe also. He would be tough to tear away from Leipzig, but would be a statement of intent from the Arsenal hierarchy.

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Nagelsmann has revitalized RB Leipzig since the summer, having established them as Bundesliga title contenders. Photo: DPA/A.Gora

Marcelo Gallardo

Not well-known in Europe, Gallardo will no doubt soon get his chance. The Argentinian has enjoyed tremendous success at River Plate, with two Copa Libertadores titles and a final appearances in five years.

He is still young at 43 and is fully deserving of a chance in the top five leagues of Europe. It would be a bold choice to appoint him, but so was hiring Arsene Wenger in 1996. He may need time to develop, but will Arsenal see it as worth the risk to be too soon rather than too late with appointing him?

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Gallardo celebrates with his players after winning a second Copa Libertadores title last year. Photo: Conmebol.

At the moment it appears Arteta is the favourite for the job, so who do you think should be the next Arsenal manager? Let me know in the comments section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Thank you for reading this piece, I really appreciate it!

 

Where is the Leadership at Arsenal?

Leadership. Something that has been lacking both on and off the pitch for a long time at Arsenal football club. There are multiple parties worthy of equal blame, it’s not simply the players just because they are the ones we see every week. It starts from the top down, in a toxic trickle down effect.

First of all, let’s start at the top, with the owner Stan Kroenke. Since 2011 he has been the majority shareholder at Arsenal and the nickname “Silent Stan” underplays his involvement in the club. He rarely attends games and leaves the day-to day running of the club to son Josh.

Although Stan will get regular updates his distance restricts his knowledge on what is going on surrounding the club. After eight years in charge it’s clear he has a part to play in the clubs steady decline during his ownership. The team have dropped from a Champions League to Europa League side.

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A rare sight of owner Stan Kroenke at an Arsenal game. The lack of leadership at this club starts with him. Photo: Getty Images.

In the last three years the club has been undergoing a transitional phase, with multiple obvious errors made in this period. Firstly, the club backed themselves into a corner with star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil. By letting their contracts go into the last six months made no business sense, and for a usually prudent club it cost them tens of millions of pounds.

The club sent Sanchez to Manchester United for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, in a deal that would prove terrible for both sides. The club then caved and gave Ozil and new three-year extension, making him the highest ever earner at Arsenal with £350 000 a week. His six goals and five assists in the first 18 months of this deal show what a poor decision this was.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and now it’s easy to say the appointment as Unai Emery was a mistake. At the time I personally for example was positive about the appointment. In his tenure the team lacked identity and was overly cautious. He wasn’t able to get the best from the players.

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This pained expression was a regular one for Emery in his last months at Arsenal. His tenure put Arsenal in reverse. Photo: Getty Images.

Going without a win in nine games against the likes of Norwich, Brighton and Southampton showed the dire straits the team was in. His sacking two weeks ago was inevitable, with his tenure pulling Arsenal backwards as every one else takes forward steps.

Having not learned their lesson from Sanchez and Ozil the year before, the club told Aaron Ramsey they were withdrawing a contract offer as he didn’t fit their future vision. His drive and skill in midfield has been a major miss for Arsenal this season, with the team struggling in his absence to both score goals and remain solid defensively.

The clubs recruitment in recent years have also been very hit and miss. For every Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bernd Leno and Matteo Guendouzi there’s less convincing signings like Sokratis, David Luiz and Sead Kolasinac. The debacle with Granit Xhaka and the fans earlier in the season just typified a club lacking leadership. Both sides came out of it looking bad.

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Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka showing his frustration at fans earlier this season. It wasn’t a good look for the captain, and his days seem numbered at the club. Photo: Getty Images.

After the Emery sacking reports have come out of a roll-call of potential 12-15 candidates. As a Arsenal fan it pains us to give Tottenham any credit, but look at how they dealt with their manager sacking. The got rid of the well respected Mauricio Pochettino because of poor form, appointing Jose Mourinho less than 12 hours later. It’s clear they had a pre-arranged plan in place and secured their manager quickly.

At Arsenal we don’t yet know two weeks later if interim manager Freddie Ljungberg will be in charge until the end of the season. Whilst it is good the club is taking their time to make the right appointment, the results under Freddie haven’t improved much from Emery’s reign.

Many top line managers have been linked such as Pochettino, Max Allegri or Carlo Ancelotti, but I think Arsenal need a younger, more progressive manager to guide them through this crisis. Ajax manager Erik ten Hag would be a great choice, however with our relative position right now he is likely out of our range.

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Ajax manager Erik ten Hag would be a great appointment, but looks set to join Bayern Munich instead. Photo: Getty Images.

Attainable managers that would fit the progressive mould would be the likes of Julian Nagelsmann at RB Leipzig and Marcelo Gallardo at River Plate. Both have enjoyed tremendous success, and both would be a risk worth taking for their potential. An outside contender could be Gian Piero Gasperini of Atalanta.

They stole the headlines this week in the Champions League, and the job he’s done to take a small club to the knockout rounds of the worlds premier club competition is remarkable. All three are less well known then the likes of Poch and Ancelotti, however think back to 1996. Arsenal Wenger was a left-field, unknown when he took the Arsenal job.

The board and owner need to be on the same page to ensure the next Arsenal manager is the right one. They then need to make sure recruitment is improved to ensure the same issues don’t happen on the pitch. It’s then up to the players to play to their standard and lift this club back into the top four. It will be a difficult task to resurrect Arsenal, but waking a sleeping giant always is.

What are your thoughts on this piece? Let me know in the comment section below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Thank you everyone for reading this post, I would really appreciate it! 

Can RB Salzburg Cause An Upset?

In a few hours time RB Salzburg have the biggest game in their recent history. They welcome reigning Champions League winners Liverpool to the Red Bull Arena, with the chance to cause an upset. Group E is finely poised, with a Salzburg win putting them through at the expense of the European champions.

Austrian football is not known for it’s quality. Austrian clubs do not have a great history in the Champions League, making this potential achievement even more remarkable. The club has some European success, reaching the UEFA Cup final in 1994 along with a semi-final berth in 2017-18. Even with Red Bull backing, simply reaching the Champions League is a first for the club. So how did they get to this point?

SV Austria Salzburg were founded in 1933, it was bought and rebranded as RB Salzburg in 2005. With investment the club has risen to become a dominant power in Austrian football. Ten league titles in 15 years, along with regular Europa League appearances. They have always found ways to mess up qualifying for the Champions League, however were granted an automatic place this year as champions Liverpool qualified domestically.

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RB Salzburg came so close to the 2018 Europa League final, falling 3-2 to Marseille in the semi-finals. Photo: Daniel Krug/Getty Images.

RB Salzburg have improved the quality of Austrian football, using the same model as sister club RB Leipzig have used. They have scouted impeccably, finding hidden gems before selling them on. Their most famous graduate will be facing them tonight. Sadio Mane arrived from Metz, spending two years in Austria before moving to Southampton in 2014 for £11.8m.

In recent years they have sold players to the likes of Inter Milan, Sevilla, Marseille and Bundesliga leaders Borussia Monchengladbach. They have learned to scout players away from the football spotlight. The player that has put them on the map is striker Erling Braut Haland, signed from Molde in Norway. He is being talked about as the next superstar striker, and is linked with moves to the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Fellow striker Patson Daka was signed from Zambia in 2017, and has scored 13 goal in 17 league games this season. Hwang Hee-chan was signed from South Korean youth football, contributing three goals in their Champions League campaign. Takumi Minamino came from the Japanese league, now he has three assists and two goals from five games against Liverpool, Napoli and Genk.

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Erling Braut Haland scoring against Liverpool in their 4-3 loss at Anfield. He has taken Europe by storm and will have a host of top clubs queuing up to sign him next summer. Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt/Getty Images. 

The team have stolen headlines with their attacking mentality in Europe. Most Champions League debutants are passive, however Salzburg have performed strongly. They have the third best goals record with 16 in five, along with the second top scorer, Haland, with eight goals.

Whatever happens in this game RB Salzburg have exceeded expectations this season. They are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League if they fail to qualify tonight, and will no doubt be a serious contender for that trophy. They are set to win yet another Austrian league title, and could still win the Austrian Cup.

Traditionalist fans may moan at their obvious corporate nature and what this means for football, but nobody can begrudge admiration for this team after their performances. They’ve looked like seasoned veterans not debutants at this level. The team is full of young talented players who play exciting attacking football. The fact we’re even talking about a potential upset tonight shows how far they’ve come in a short space of time.

Do you have any thoughts on this piece? If so feel free to either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Thank you for reading this article, I really appreciate it! 

College Football Week 14 Review

The final week of the regular season saw plenty of action, as the rivalry weekend usually does. The conference championship games are not set, and for those who missed out the firings have already begun. Let’s review the main talking points from another massive weekend of college football action.

1) Auburn Beats Alabama in Barn burner

Auburn ended arch rivals Alabama’s national title hopes with this 48-45 win in the Iron Bowl. The Tigers utilized their defense, scoring two touchdowns as they shredded the Alabama defense.

Bo Nix was solid going 15-30 for 173 yards and a touchdown, along with 44 rushing yards and another touchdown. Auburn’s win has vaulted them into contention for a top ten placing, whilst Alabama finds itself outside the play-off for the first time.

2) Alabama on Outside Looking In

The loss of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa ended up costing Alabama big. With one loss to LSU and a top five ranking, Alabama still had a chance to make the play-off for a sixth consecutive year. His loss was keenly felt in this Iron Bowl game, and with two losses they have no chance of a national championship.

Replacement Mac Jones played well in this game, going 26-39 for 335 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions. Many will question however if Bama would have won with Tua. For next season it looks like it will be either Mac Jones or Tua’s younger brother Tualia who will take over as the starter for the Crimson Tide.

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Quarterback Bo Nix runs in a touchdown in a massive 48-45 win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Photo: Kevin Cox/Getty Images.

3) Ohio State Routs Michigan

Ohio State set a record with their eighth successive win over Michigan, as they routed their biggest rivals 56-27. Quarterback Justin Fields threw four touchdown passes, with running back J.K Dobbins scoring another four touchdowns in a convincing win for the Buckeyes.

With their current trajectories it’s clear Ohio State is the dominant team in this rivalry, and that doesn’t look to be changing. Michigan shows signs of improvement, but some will question whether Jim Harbaugh is the man to lead Michigan back to the top of college football.

4) Ohio State Are A Complete Team

With the regular season now wrapped up, the talk begins on the national championship game. Ohio State and LSU have been the most convincing teams this season, and both will be favourites heading into the play-off.

Ohio State first have to overcome Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, something they will be favoured for. The offense has improved under Justin Fields, with Chase Young leading a top ranked defense. LSU are the form team, however Ohio State have a great chance of winning a ninth national championship.

5) Weekend Roundup

Rivalry weekend always brings massive matchup’s, with many of the favourites surviving the weekend. Sixth ranked Utah secured themselves a chance of a Pac-12 championship with a convincing 45-15 beat down of Colorado. Top ranked LSU blew apart the Texas A&M defense with a 50-7 rout.

Seventh ranked Oklahoma topped Oklahoma State 34-16, as eighth ranked Florida bested a poor Florida State team 40-17. Ninth ranked Minnesota were the big losers, falling to Wisconsin 38-17. Baylor’s magical run this year continued, with a 61-6 demolishing of Kansas.

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LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase celebrating a touchdown against Texas A&M. Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP.

6) Conference Championships Decided

With the regular season over, attention turns to the slate of conference championship games. The biggest game undoubtedly will be the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia Bulldogs will have plenty of support, but will struggle to overcome a seemingly dominant top ranked LSU team.

The Clemson Tigers face 22nd ranked Virginia in the ACC Championship game, and should comfortably book their place in the play-off. The third ranked Tigers are head and shoulders the best team in the ACC,and will be heavy favourites.

7) Conference Championships Continued 

The Big 12 championship game will be interesting this year, with Oklahoma facing Baylor. Both are ranked in the top ten, and both teams have showed tremendous form this year. Oklahoma will be favoured beforehand, but Baylor are a good team and shouldn’t be written off.

Ohio State against Wisconsin is another interesting game, however the Buckeyes should be too strong for a good Wisconsin team. It looks unlikely that the Pac-12 champion will make the play-off, but there is still plenty for Oregon and Utah to play for. This is a closely matched affair that could be the most entertaining of the five major conference championship games.

8) Chris Petersen Leaving Washington

The college football world was shook this week with the news Washington head coach Chris Petersen is leaving. Petersen has pushed Washington into national prominence during his six years, including two Pac-12 titles.

Petersen and Washington struggled slightly with a 7-5 record this year, however he wasn’t on the hot seat. He says he wants to re-charge his batteries, with defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake taking over as head coach. Petersen has produced a lot of NFL talent and he will be sorely missed in Washington.

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Washington head coach Chris Petersen is stepping down after six years.He leaves with a 54-26 record. Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

9) Fired Coaches Carousel Begins

Now the season is done, the rush to fire head coaches has begun. It’s been reported that Clay Helton will soon be fired from USC, after four years in charge. This has long been rumoured, and will be a attractive job opening for coaches.

Ole Miss announced Sunday that head coach Matt Luke had been fired, after three seasons and a 15-21 record. The program is still recovering from NCAA scandal, but with a rich history will be another attractive opening. USF fired Charlie Strong, Boston College fired Steve Addazio and Missouri fired Barry Odom.

10) Rutgers to Hire Greg Schiano

Rutgers have finally found their head coach, with Greg Schiano set to return for a second stint. The two sides have “agreed in principle” on an eight-year $32 million deal. Rutgers finished the year with a woeful 2-10 record, firing Chris Ash after a 1-3 start.

Schiano led them to a 68-67 record as head coach between 2001-2011. He massively improved the team in his first stint, and will have a tough job on his hands to improve this team from such a lowly standing.

That wraps up my final college football weekend recap, although I will post more college football content leading right up to the NFL Draft. Thank you to everyone for reading, if you have any thoughts at all either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.

College Football Week 13 Review

Week 13 was another scintillating affair in the college football world, with some contenders being tested and some falling short. With only a week of the regular season left, some have already booked their conference championship berths. There is still plenty for everyone to play for, so let’s review the ten talking points from this past weekend.

1) Ohio State Rolls Over Penn State

The game of the weekend was this Big Ten matchup, one that Ohio State convincingly won 28-17. The scoreline doesn’t suggest a dominant win, but were it not for Penn State scoring 14 points in 25 seconds, this game would have ended 28-3 Ohio State.

The second ranked Buckeyes passed this test with flying colours, and look destined for the play-off. Justin Fields was solid against a top 30 defense, going 16-22 for 188 yards and two touchdowns. The Buckeyes are the top ranked defense in the nation, limiting Penn State to under 230 total offensive yards. This win secured them the Big Ten East title, and a conference championship berth.

2) Dobbins, Young Key for Buckeyes

Against a good Penn State team, it was running back J.K Dobbins and defensive end Chase Young that stole the show for Ohio State. Dobbins rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns and was key to the Buckeyes win. Dobbins has stepped up this year, and is a vital cog for an offense that is a top six unit, averaging over 530 yards a game.

The top ranked defense saw it’s star man Chase Young return from suspension, and he didn’t miss a beat. Three sacks on his return game solidifies him as the star of this defense. He leads college football with 16.5 sacks this season, and is head and shoulders the best defensive player in college football.

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J.K Dobbins ran over the vaunted Penn State defense, playing a key role in his teams win. Photo: Associated Press.

3) Georgia Creeps Past Texas A&M 

The leading SEC game of the week saw Georgia creep past a tricky Texas A&M team 19-13. This wasn’t a pretty game for both offense’s, as defense was the key in this matchup. Georgia did enough to win this one, but they don’t look convincing when it comes to scoring points.

Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship scored 12 of Georgia’s 19 points, with one touchdown from receiver George Pickens. Quarterback Jake Fromm was once again solid, going 11-23 for 163 yards and a touchdown. It was defense that won this game for Georgia, as they stymied a good Texas A&M offense.

4) Defense Key to Bulldogs Win

Georgia’s defense has been impressive all season, as they save their teams season in recent weeks. The offense has been doing enough to score points, but the defense has been making sure of wins.

The Bulldogs are holding teams to under 270 yards a game, good for fifth in the country. Georgia have already booked themselves into the SEC Championship game, and if they can make the play-off it will be because of their defense. This unit is good enough to rival almost anyone in the country.

5) Baylor Sweeps Past Texas 

Baylor rolled past Texas 24-10 in a game where they overpowered the Longhorns. Baylor recovered well from a devastating loss to Oklahoma last weekend and secured their place in the Big 12 Championship game with this victory. Baylor’s defense played it’s best game yet to hold the Longhorns to ten points, allowing their offense to take over this game.

Quarterback Charlie Brewer was impressive, going off for 296 total yards and two touchdowns against a bad Texas defense. Baylor have been one of the surprise packages this season, and now should get a chance to avenge their loss to Oklahoma.

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Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer dives for a touchdown in their 24-10 win over Texas. Photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today Sports

6) Baylor in Big 12 Championship Game

Baylor’s win against Texas secured them a place in the Big 12 Championship game. This is a massive achievement for a program that was mired in scandal only three years ago. The resurgence under head coach Matt Rhule has been remarkable, and they now find themselves back in the big time.

Their defense is underrated and they run a high-powered offense. Many questioned them going for the strength of schedule they face, but they’ve answered this in the past three weeks. Wins against TCU and Texas along with a narrow loss to Oklahoma shows this team is legit.

7) Impressive Michigan Win Over Indiana

Michigan have improved massively during the season, coming through this tough road test with a convincing 39-14 win over Indiana. The Wolverines offense is showing signs of life, with quarterback Shea Patterson going 20-32 for 366 yards and five touchdowns.

Michigan suffered on offense earlier this season, but the unit has improved massively down the stretch. The defense has been a top tier unit all season, and they are coming good at the perfect time with their rivalry game with Ohio State this weekend.

8) Weekend Roundup

The biggest shock of the week was sixth ranked Oregon falling 31-28 to Arizona State. The loss has ruined any chances they had of a national championship, and is tough to recover from so late in the season. Ninth ranked Oklahoma almost received a scare, overcoming TCU 28-24.

Navy also caused an upset, toppling 25th ranked SMU 35-28. 22nd ranked Iowa State overcame a tough Kansas team 41-31, with 17th ranked Iowa looking less impressive in their 19-10 win over Illinois. Top ranked LSU rolled past a poor Arkansas team 56-20 to remain in the driving seat.

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Arizona State defensive back Jack Jones intercepting a pass against Oregon in their 31-28 upset win. Photo: AZcentral

9) Big Weekend Ahead

The final weekend of the regular season has plenty of massive matchup’s to end the year with. Ohio State travels to Michigan, with both teams ranked in the top 15. Michigan would love to spoil Ohio State’s path to a national championship and end the year on a high.

Alabama travels to Auburn for the Iron Bowl. Alabama are without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Auburn will sense the chance to ruin their rivals play-off hopes. LSU also faces a tricky matchup with Texas A&M to end their season.

10) AP Top 25 Rankings

The week 14 AP Top 25 poll has been released, with once again no movements in the play-off places. LSU, Ohio State,Clemson and Georgia remain the top four. Alabama remains fifth, with Utah replacing Oregon in sixth. Oklahoma, Florida, Minnesota and Michigan round out the top ten.

Baylor’s impressive win jumps them to eleventh, with Penn State and Oregon’s losses dropping them to 12th and 14th. Navy and USC return to the top 25, replacing SMU and Texas A&M.

That wraps up my review of week 13, thank you for reading and if you have any comments find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.

 

College Football Week 13 Preview

The college football regular season is drawing to a close, but there is plenty still to sort out at the top. This week has yet another good batch of games, highlighted by a massive Big Ten matchup. Almost every major conference has a matchup worth watching this week. Let’s look at the main talking points heading into week 13.

1) Penn State – Ohio State Preview 

This is undoubtedly the game of the weekend, with two top eight ranked teams facing off in the Big Ten. Eighth ranked Penn State travel into Ohio State, with the winner almost certain to win the Big Ten East. Ohio State will be the favourite, but anything can happen with two good teams.

Ohio State has been playing very well on both sides of the ball this year. Transfer quarterback Justin Fields is a dark horse Heisman Trophy contender, and stud defensive end Chase Young returns from suspension for this game.

2) Chase Young Returns

Defensive end Chase Young returns for Ohio State, after serving a two-game suspension for a violation of NCAA rules. His discretion was borrowing money from a family friend to buy a plane ticket for his girlfriend.

His suspension didn’t affect Ohio State, and now can return as they push for the national championship. He is a difference maker for this team, and is likely going to lead the nation in sacks come the end of the season. His return is another boost for this Buckeyes team.

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Chase Young is a difference maker at Ohio State, and his return is massive for the team. Photo: Getty Images.

3) Texas A&M – Georgia Preview

The marquee SEC matchup this week see’s Texas A&M travel to face a top ranked Georgia side. Texas A&M are a scary team to face, but at 7-3 are out of major contention. They are improving under head coach Jimbo Fisher, but likely need another year to grow.

Georgia have recovered expertly since losing to South Carolina, bringing a focus that has returned them to the top four. A win here against a good opponent will solidify them in fourth. Jake Fromm has been solid and the defense is very good, so Georgia should win this one.

4) D’Andre Swift Key to Georgia

The quarterback always gets the majority of attention in football. but for this Georgia team D’Andre Swift is the difference maker. The running back is arguably the best in college football, and often leads this offense.

He has top 20 stats this year, but his impact is much more important than the stats suggest. He has been helped with a good offensive line, and is almost certainly a first round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft should he declare. He will be key for Georgia this weekend.

5) Texas – Baylor Preview

Texas travel into Baylor for a rivalry game with massive implications. This Big 12 showdown is tough to call, with both teams evenly matched. Baylor heads the conference at 9-1, and has home advantage, but some have questioned their strength of schedule.

Texas has been wildly inconsistent this year, capable of matching number one LSU at times and at others losing to unranked Iowa State. If Texas performs at their best they can cause an upset, but away from home it’s tough to predict which Texas team will show up.

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Baylor players celebrating a fumble recovery last weekend against Oklahoma. This game was a tale of two halves for Baylor. Photo: Ashley Landis/DallasNews.

6) Baylor Need to Rebound

This week is a key game for Baylor, for a variety of reasons. The team were unlucky last week as they fell in tough circumstances to Oklahoma. The unbeaten season ended thanks to blowing a 25 point lead in the second half. This loss is especially tough to come back from.

The game also has massive implications for the Big 12. If Baylor can win this game they remain top in the Big 12, but if they lose they will fall out of contention. After tough games against TCU and Oklahoma, can Baylor rebound with a statement win this week?

7) Michigan – Indiana Preview

Michigan have improved massive after a slow start to the season, but face a tough test travelling to Indiana. The Wolverines will go into this as favourites, but Indiana are tough to discount. The home side are only game back from Michigan at 7-3.

Michigan will have to play at it’s best to win this one, and with their rivalry game with Ohio State next week they might have one eye on next week. This will prove costly as Indiana have enough talent to punish them and bring them back down to earth before their matchup next weekend.

8) Best of the Rest Games

25th ranked SMU travel to face Navy, who are reeling from a blowout loss to Notre Dame last weekend. SMU were brought back to earth with a loss to Memphis, and Navy will be no pushover for them. UCLA travels to USC, in a game difficult to predict. UCLA have been poor this season at 4-6, but 23rd ranked USC are wildly inconsistent.

TCU played Baylor tough two weeks ago, and now travels to face 9-1 Oklahoma. The Sooners need to win out to remain in contention for a play-off berth, but TCU has a good defense that can cause them problems.

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Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has looked transformed since transferring from Alabama. They need to win out the rest of this season. Photo: USA Today Sports

9) Tua Tagovailoa Update

The picture is clearing up for Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. After undergoing hip surgery on Monday, he is now expected to be cleared for athletic activity in three months time. It’s remains unclear when he will be back throwing footballs, although at this stage it is likely to be after the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Despite the injury he is still expected to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, and should be a first-round pick still unless further injury news comes out. Tagovailoa is a tough loss for Alabama, as they needed him to try and help get them back into the national championship hunt.

10) CFB Play-Off Rankings

The college football play-off rankings were unveiled this week, with no changes in the top seven. That means LSU remains on top, with Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia rounding out the play-off places. Alabama and Oregon remain fifth and sixth.

Minnesota’s loss to Iowa drops them from eighth to tenth, moving Penn State and Oklahoma up. Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan are next up, moving past Baylor and Auburn in 14th and 15th. Iowa State is the big mover to 22nd after knocking off 19th ranked Texas last weekend.

That wraps up my preview of week 13 of the college football season, it will no doubt be another exciting weekend of action. If you have any thoughts on this piece either comment below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism. Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who read this blog I massively appreciate it!

College Football Week 12 Review

Week 12 provided plenty of story lines in college football, with a star quarterback facing a tough recovery from a serious injury, an unbeaten team falling and a top ranked team clinching their division. With only two weeks left of the regular season, the race for the play-off is heating up. Let’s review the ten talking points from this past weekend.

1) Georgia Overcome Auburn

This could have been a trap game for Georgia, but they proved themselves with a 21-14 win over Auburn. The fourth ranked Bulldogs were on top the entirety of the game, with a strong offensive performance. Quarterback Jake Fromm only threw for 110 yards, but with three touchdowns the yards didn’t matter.

Running back D’Andre Swift had 106 yards, as the Georgia offensive line stamped it’s authority on this game. The defense forced two late turnovers to secure the win, showing their completeness as a team and why they are in the national championship hunt.

2) Georgia Clinch SEC East

Saturday was also significant for the Bulldogs as they claimed a third straight SEC East title. Head coach Kirby Smart has elevated Georgia into national contention, as they have now guaranteed a chance at a national title.

Georgia have faced tough competition from Florida, but will now likely face top ranked LSU in the SEC Championship game. The winner here will be guaranteed a play-off spot, with the loser potentially still making the play-off. Their worst position would be a lower top ten ranking and a prominent bowl game for the Bulldogs.

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Georgia defensive back Richard LeCounte celebrates with fans after the Bulldogs secured a third straight SEC East title this past weekend. Photo: Curtis Compton/AJC

3) Oklahoma Survives Baylor Scare

This game was a tale of two halves for Oklahoma, as they barely survived on the road against Baylor 34-31. Unbeaten Baylor came out firing, and led 28-3 in the second quarter. Defense has been a major issue for the Sooners this season, and they started slowly here.

A 24 point scoring rampage from the high powered Oklahoma offense brought them back into the game, eventually recovering to record the biggest comeback in program history. The win is a confidence boost for a team who has struggled in recent weeks, but this win won’t have earned the confidence of the play-off voters as they fight to remain in contention.

4) Oklahoma Comeback Massive Confidence Boost

It’s been a rough month for Oklahoma, who have gone from sure fire play-off contenders, to now their hopes hanging by a thread. The team have struggled to rebound from a tough loss to Kansas State, winning their last two games by a combined total of four points.

The Oklahoma offense, led by transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts, is high scoring, but it’s their defense that lets them down. They are eighth in the latest AP Top 25 polls, and with only two games left need to win out and hope others fall if they want to contend for a national championship.

5) Iowa Knocks Off Minnesota

Minnesota stole the headlines last week with their upset win against Penn State, but their dreams of a top ten ranking fell in a tough road loss to Iowa. The Hawkeyes played their tough, physical style of football on route to a confidence building 23-19 win.

Both teams excel on defense, and in a low scoring affair Iowa had the extra spark on offense to win this one. Iowa scored 20 of their 23 points in the first half, with Minnesota predictably starting slow after such a big win last week. Both teams can feel good about the season they’re having.

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Iowa players celebrate with the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after upsetting Minnesota 23-19. Photo: Matthew Putney/AP

6) Minnesota Falls Short in Comeback

The Golden Gophers would have seen this as a potential trap game, and unfortuantely for them it was proved right. They have struggled in recent years travelling to Iowa, and were punched in the mouth early in this game. They were down 13-0 at the end of the first quarter, and down 20-3 halfway through the second.

They recovered well in the second half, with a late fourth quarter touchdown bringing them within one score of the win. The team is still having an incredible season, and barring collapse they will win the Big Ten West title.

7) Weekend Roundup

Michigan claimed bragging rights over rivals Michigan State, demolishing them 44-10. This is a big win for a program that has struggled this season, and sees them jump to 12th in the latest AP polls.  Notre Dame rolled over 23rd ranked Navy, beating them 52-20 in a massive win for Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish.

Top ranked LSU easily overcame Ole Miss 58-37, with another massive performance from quarterback Joe Burrow. Over 500 total yards five touchdowns further cement him as the Heisman Trophy favourite. Wisconsin rolled over Nebraska 37-21, thanks again to Jonathan Taylor with 204 yards and two touchdowns.

8) Tua Tagovailoa Out for Season

It’s been a difficult two weeks for Alabama, with their loss to LSU last week and now star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out for the season with a hip injury. He’s undergone successful surgery, but has potentially played his last snap for the Crimson Tide.

He’s been a star for the team, so to lose him in a comfortable win over Mississippi State is even more galling for fans of the team. If he declares for the 2020 NFL Draft as expected, this injury could have cost him millions in future revenue.

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Tua Tagovailoa carted off the field after dislocating his hip against Mississippi State. He is now done for the season and potential done with college football. Photo: CBS Sports.

9) AP Top 25 Poll

The latest week 12 AP poll has been released, with no surprises at the top. The top four all won so it remains LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Georgia in the play-off places. Alabama and Oregon remain on the outside looking in, with Utah and Oklahoma rising to seventh and eighth.

Penn State remain ninth, with Florida rounding out the top ten. Minnesota drop to eleventh after their loss, as Michigan jump Baylor for 12th and 13th. Auburn falls to 16th after their loss, with a big Iowa win vaulting them four places to 19th.

10) Scott Frost Extension at Nebraska

Nebraska announced last week they had signed a two-year extension with head coach Scott Frost, tying him down to the program until 2026. Frost took over last year, after guiding UCF to an undefeated season in 2017.

The former Nebraska quarterback has struggled so far, with a 4-8 record last year and currently is at 4-6. They need to win two of their remaining three to be bowl eligible, a tough ask with games against Iowa and Wisconsin still to play. The timing seems strange from the school, with the pressure beginning to build on Frost.

That wraps up my recap of week 12 from college football, thank you to everyone for reading this I really appreciate it! If you have any comments at all either leave them below or find me on Twitter @JWjournalism.