Top teams make Friday the new day for college football

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 6: Quarterback Cam Newton  of the Auburn Tigers celebrates a touchdown against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Cam Newton’s done a lot of smiling so far this season. He’s the Heisman Trophy front-runner on the undefeated No. 2 team in the country.

A lot of people, including Vegas, don’t believe he’ll be smiling after today’s Iron Bowl, however.

The Tigers come into today’s game (2:30 p.m. ET on CBS) as a 4-point underdog against their biggest rival, Alabama, despite coming into the game with the undefeated record, Newton and two wins against the teams that have given Alabama its two losses.

It’s the game that is supposed to open the door for Boise State, or perhaps TCU to break into the national title game. It’s the game that’s supposed to save the NCAA from being embarrassed down the road if Newton is found to be ineligible after the Tigers have won a national title.

But will it be? Read the rest of this entry »

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2010 College Football Week 6 Picks

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 02: Mark Ingram  of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates his touchdown against the Florida Gators with Preston Dial  and Michael Williams  at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It was a .500 effort last weekend thanks to NC State’s collapse against Virginia Tech. (What the H was that, Wolfpack?) Michigan State and Boise State were winners, while Ohio State and the NC State Chokesalot were losers.

I’m 6-6 against the number this season, but let’s see if we can’t pull out another 3-1 Saturday like we did two weekends ago.

No. 1 Alabama at. No. 19 South Carolina, 3:30PM ET, CBS
The thought here might be to take the points with a 3-1 South Carolina team playing at home – especially after the Tide struggled with Arkansas two weeks ago on the road. But I think the near-loss was good for Nick Saban’s squad, who is at the end of a daunting three-game stretch. Heisman winner Mark Ingram shredded the Gamecocks last season by rushing for 246 yards and I see more of the same this year.

Minnesota at No. 20 Wisconsin, 12:00PM ET, Big Ten Network
I’m going right back to the well against Wisconsin again, which is just 1-4 against the spread this year. Minnesota’s offense has been a little better than people expected and this should be a classic Big Ten battle (i.e. boring football), which will be won down in the trenches. While I don’t see the Gophers pulling off an upset like the Spartans did last Saturday against Wisconsin, 22.5 points is too much for the Badgers to be laying against anyone right now.

Toledo at. No. 4 Boise State, 8:00PM ET, ESPN 3
There typically aren’t any letdown games for a team like Boise State, but if there were, it would look like Toledo. The Broncos waxed New Mexico State 59-0 on the road last Saturday, which is why oddsmakers have hiked up the point spread again this week (Boise covered as a 43.5-point favorite). But the Rockets are 3-0 against the spread on the road this year and have enough weapons to score against a potentially less-motivated Boise defense. Any game involving the Broncos has a chance to get ugly in a hurry, but I think Toledo keeps this contest within 39 points.

Oregon State at. No. 9 Arizona, 6:00PM ET Versus
Is it just me or do oddsmakers continue to slight the Beavers in terms of the spread? They’ve already proven in close losses to TCU and Boise State that they can hang with top-25 competition and yet here they are once again listed as an underdog of more than a touchdown. The Wildcats’ record speaks for itself, but most teams have trouble with the Rodgers brothers and I like for Oregon State to keep this one close, just as Cal did two weeks ago against ‘Zona.

Season Record: 6-6

It doesn’t get any better than Saban vs. Meyer (and several other great games)

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide congratulates head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators after the Gators 31-20 win in the SEC Championship on December 6, 2008 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Say what you want about Nick Saban and Urban Meyer (and believe me, there’s plenty to say about both of them), but they are very likely the two best coaches in college football right now.

The duo has combined for four national titles since 2003, and it wouldn’t be that far fetched to say they’ll combine to win another four in the next eight seasons. Alabama and Florida are at the top of the college football heap, and will continue to be there as long as these two men are at the top.

Apparently, they could have been together, but Saban big-timed Meyer and didn’t return his call in 1990. In Saban’s defense, 1990 was before caller ID (right?) and maybe his wife lost the phone number, or took it down wrong. Or maybe Saban is a big-timer (this is probably more likely). Either way, Urban seems to have forgiven him. Probably because he’s done well enough for himself since then.

Their teams play each other today, in what’s probably the game of the day when you consider everything (records, rankings, history, etc.). Click ahead to see who wins that one and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Alabama’s Mark Ingram out for opener – will he miss Penn State game, too?

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced today that Heisman running back Mark Ingram will miss the team’s opener this Saturday after having arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday morning.

The story here, however, isn’t that Ingram will miss the San Jose State game. If ‘Bama can’t beat San Jose State then they don’t deserve to be mentioned as BCS title contenders, even though Ingram wouldn’t have suited up for the contest.

The bigger story is whether or not Ingram will play against Penn State, which is the Tide’s second game of the season and obviously their first real test in 2010.

The Penn State game is in 11 days. I’m no doctor, but I’ve never heard of a player coming back from knee surgery to play a football game in 11 days. Ingram may very well be able to do it, but that seems like an awfully ambitious recovery time for that type of injury.

Granted, Saban has made it clear that the operation isn’t serious and Ingram is expected to be back soon. But 11 days? This seems like a two-week injury at least and a four-week injury at most, but again, I’m not a doctor.

But let’s assume for a moment that the Tide will be without Ingram. They should get past San Jose State on Saturday, but can the trio of Trent Richardson Eddie Lacy and Demetrius Goode carry ‘Bama against the Nittany Lions in Week 2?

Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be as strong a PSU team as we’ve seen the past couple of years and ‘Bama does have the luxury of playing this game at home. The Lions also had to replace all three starters at linebacker from last year and they have issues at the quarterback position.

But it’s still Penn State, who will no doubt be looking to use the Alabama game to make a statement for the rest of the year. And if Ingram can’t go, then the Lions certainly have a shot to pull off the upset, even with the number of weapons the Tide have on offense this year.

2010 SEC College Football Preview: Alabama still reigns supreme

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the SEC this season:

#1 Alabama
Led by head coach Nick Saban and Heisman winner Mark Ingram, this is by far the best team in the country. While they don’t come weakness-free, the Tide have the best combination of talent and coaching in all of college football. They play in the nation’s toughest conference so there’s always a chance that they could lose a game during the season, but this is your clear national title favorite. Their defense might be even better than it was a year ago.

#2 Florida
The Gators lost Tim Tebow, Riley Cooper, Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey, Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper, Joe Haden and Major Wright from their squad last season. In one word: Ouch. Outside of running back Jeff Demps, they lost their top player at nearly every position, which would usually destroy a program’s chances of competing the next year. But this is Florida – they reload every year. This year’s crop of starters has seen time in either part-time action or spot starts over the last couple of years, so the Gators will compete. Are they a top 5 team? We’ll find out soon.

#3 Arkansas
All right, so I might be drinking too much of the Ryan Mallett Kool-Aid by ranking the Razorbacks ahead of Georgia and LSU. But even though Bobby Petrino is a turd, the man knows how to run an offense (a college football offense, that is) and Arkansas will be explosive on that side of the ball again this year. The question is whether or not their defense will step up so that this team can reach its full potential. As it stands now, it’s probably safe to say that Arkansas is going to have issues slowing teams down this year, but I just can’t stop starring at that offense. It’s like a tractor beam of hotness.

Read the rest of this entry »

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