Rodgers brothers, Brian Kelly’s debut among five things to watch for on opening weekend

Dec 22, 2009; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Oregon State Beavers running back Jacquizz Rodgers (1) heads up field against the BYU Cougars in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium. BYU defeated Oregon State 44-20. Photo via Newscom

I’m assuming you’re excited today.

I know I am. As nice as Thursday was for college football lovers, there’s nothing quite like the first full Saturday of college football. I could barely sleep last night, as thoughts of TCU’s defense, Brian Kelly’s debut in South Bend and Erin Andrews — on the set of Gameday … pervs — danced through my head.

Before I get into the five things you should look out for today, a brief introduction: My name is Paul Costanzo and I’ll be guiding you through your college football Saturdays this season. I’m not a college football expert, by any means. I’m just a huge fan who happens to have a journalism degree. I’m also a good friend of Anthony’s, so if I suck at this, you can direct all your hate mail to him. You can read me daily in the Times Herald newspaper out of Port Huron, Mich.

But enough about me, let’s get to the games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Most disappointing college football teams of 2009

FOX ranked the 10 most disappointing teams of 2009:

1. USC
A loss to Washington was the beginning of the end. Still, we’ve almost come to expect the Trojans to lose one game every year that they shouldn’t. While USC was slightly favored to beat Oregon, the manner in which they lost was downright ugly. Pete Carroll’s signature unit — the defense — got embarrassed by the Ducks. Sure, USC had to replace eight defensive players who are now playing on Sundays, but the Trojans always have reloaded, and the expectations were high this year despite those defensive losses. USC fans accustomed to “settling” for the Rose Bowl may need to aim a little lower.

2. Virginia Tech
The class of the ACC is now fighting Miami for third place in the Coastal division behind Duke and Georgia Tech. Let that sink that in. The Hokies’ consecutive losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina have probably ended their Orange Bowl dreams. Either Beamer Ball isn’t working anymore or parity in the ACC has finally caught up to Virginia Tech. Either way, 2009 will be a major disappointment for Gobbler Nation.

3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes’ loss to USC wasn’t that shocking, but their loss to Purdue was. With Navy, USC, Toledo and New Mexico State on their non-conference schedule, the expectations of a special season were pretty high in Columbus. But plenty of fans are starting to question whether Tressel’s offense will work with Terrelle Pryor as quarterback. With Penn State, Iowa and an imploding Michigan still left on the Buckeyes’ schedule, Ohio State fans should start making travel plans for Tampa, site of the Outback Bowl. Now.

A lot of people thought they were overrated coming into the season, but I think Ole Miss (which ranks No. 7 on FOX’s list) should be in the top 5. I know they lost a couple of key defenders from last year’s squad, but for the Rebels to currently be 5-3 is surprising to say the least.

Big Ten haters aren’t surprised, but Ohio State wasn’t expected to be this inconsistent either. Some thought that Terrelle Pryor would progress as a passer and lead the Buckeyes to at least a Big Ten title, but he’s actually regressed and now people are questioning whether or not he should remain OSU’s starting quarterback.

Personally, I’m not shocked that the Trojans are where they are right now with a freshman quarterback. They always lose a game every year that they’re not supposed to and the writing was on the wall last week for them in Eugene. Oregon is playing better football right now and is tough to beat at home.

The ACC takes a hit with NC’s upset of VA Tech

In the past two weeks, Frank Beamer’s Hokies have seen their season implode. After winning five straight to get to 5-1 on the season (they dropped the opener to Alabama), Virginia Tech was soundly defeated by Georgia Tech last Saturday and then was shocked last night by North Carolina, 20-17.

How do the Tar Heels walk into Blacksburg and earn a victory you ask? Well it helps when quarterback Tyrod Taylor starts the game 3-for-9 passing and finishes with only 161 yards and no touchdowns. He was highly inaccurate all night and often put the Hokies in third-and-longs by taking unnecessary sacks instead of getting rid of the ball.

That said, North Carolina’s defense deserves credit for pressuring Taylor the entire night and not allowing freshman running back Ryan Williams to run wild. He finished with 96 yards on 23 carries and no touchdowns, which is certainly respectable, but a far cry from some of his previous outings.

The Tar Heel defense stepped up big time in the first half while their offense sputtered, and then held on in the second half when the Hokies tried to make a run. Jheraine Boyd’s 13-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Yates right before the half gave North Carolina the momentum and confidence it needed to compete with the Hokies in the second half.

Not to crap on North Carolina’s accomplishment, but this wasn’t a favorable outcome for the ACC. VA Tech’s loss will likely drop them out of the top 25 and probably out of the top 15 of the BCS standings. That leaves Georgia Tech as the only ACC team in the top 15, and chances are the conference won’t have two BCS bowl teams.

But as they say: Oh, well. For a struggling North Carolina team to upset Virginia Tech on the road is quite an accomplishment and the bigger picture in the ACC shouldn’t tarnish what the Tar Heels did last night.

VA Tech’s title dreams evaporate in loss to Georgia Tech

Only once in the history of the BCS has a two-loss team every played for the national title (LSU in 2007). So forgive the Virginia Tech Hokies if they’re not feeling too good about their title hopes after they were upset 28-23 by Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Hokies became yet another victim of the Yellow Jackets’ option attack as quarterback Josh Nesbitt passed for only 51 yards, but gained 122 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. Running back Jonathan Dwyer added 82 yards on 20 carries in the victory.

It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when VA Tech played like a team with something on the line. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed for a 22-yard touchdown to cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 21-16, but Nesbitt scored on a 39-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining to put the Jackets back up 28-16. Ryan Williams scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Taylor with just under two minutes remaining, but it was too little too late. Despite making strides as a passer the past couple weeks, Taylor struggled outside of the fourth quarter.

What a win for Georgia Tech. They quieted many pundits that deemed them overrated and one-dimensional by turning in a solid defensive effort to go along with their potent option attack. The Jackets turned some heads tonight.

With the Hokies’ loss, the Coastal Division is now wide up. Between VA Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia, the division is completely up for grabs.

2009 CFB Preview: Virginia Tech Hokies

Check out our other 2009 college football previews.

Preseason Ranking: No. 7 in AP Top 25; No. 7 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Tyrod Taylor (QB); Darren Evans (RB); Jarrett Boykin (WR); Danny Coale (WR); Greg Boone (TE); Blake DeChristopher (OT); Ed Wang (OT); Sergio Render (G); Cody Grimm (LB); Cam Martin (LB); Jason Worilds (DE); John Graves (DT); Cordarrow Thompson (DT); Stephan Virgil (CB); Kam Chancellor (S); Dorian Porch (S).

Key Losses: Victor “Macho” Harris (CB); Orion Martin (DE); Purnell Sturdivant (LB); Brett Warren (LB); Dustin Keys (K); Nick Marshman (G); Ryan Shuman (C).

Player to Watch: Tyrod Taylor, QB.
Darren Evans’ name would have been listed here, but the running back tore his ACL in practice and will miss the entire 2009 season. That said, it’s just as easy to wax poetically about Taylor’s potential, as it would have been Evans’. In his third season as VA Tech’s signal caller, Taylor (and his coaching staff) wants to be a complete quarterback. In his final couple of games last year, things seemed to have clicked for Taylor, who doesn’t have to worry about splitting time with Sean Glennon this season. Taylor is a dual-threat and if he can take the next step as a passer, the Hokies will compete for a national title.

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