Monday, August 30, 2010

Get Gamm 2011 is here!
Sadly, the wonderful heat and sunshine of summer is giving way to thoughts of fall. Don't get me wrong, I love college football, but I'm just not ready to trade shorts and a golf shirt for jeans and a sweatshirt.

But as they say, life moves on and football is upon us! A full slate this week, including three Thursday games so get those picks in and see if you can best me this season...

Towson at Indiana - Wow. What an inspiring start to the college football season. Yawn. This looks more like the 3 v. 14 game in the opening round of March Madness! Indiana rolls 41 - 14.

Minnesota at Middle Tennessee State - I give the Gophers some credit here. This isn't as slam dunk easy as it appears. Still, the maroon and gold have plenty to prove and they start with a close win in middle Tennessee... 31 - 23.

Marshall at Ohio State - Best of the three but still not a great match-up. Tune up for the Miami game. OSU rolls... 30 - 6.

Illinois vs. Missouri - Both teams have turmoil in the form of injury or arrest... Illinois has a season, maybe less, to save Ron Zook's neck. Too many questions for the Illini get this season started off on the wrong foot - again. Mizzou wins 27 - 24.

Eastern Illinois at Iowa - Yawn. Unless the Hawkeyes eat a bunch of tainted eggs before hand... Iowa romps 42 - 10.

Connecticut at Michigan - Michigan started hot in 2009 but UConn is no slouch. The Huskies fly under the radar as a hoops school but can win this game. I'm convinced we'll see three UM QBs and the same questionable defense. UConn wins and sets the Fire RichRod chants into early motion. 34 - 31.

Western Michigan at Michigan State - Western was a much better team last year and State mauled them. It happens again. MSU 45 - 17

Northwestern at Vanderbilt - An intriguing match-up of the smart schools. Vandy lost its coach out of the blue, Northwestern re-tools but is sound. NU squeaks by 23 - 21.

Youngstown State at Penn State - No comment. Penn State in a laugher 49 - 7

Purdue at Notre Dame (Tiebreaker) - New QB (Purdue) vs New Coach (ND). This game will tell us if Brian Kelly can work the same immediate magic that his predecessors all did. Notre Dame gets it done 24 - 20

Wisconsin at UNLV - Unless Clay and Co. get stuck in a casino or busted hanging with Paris Hilton and her drug filled purse, the Badgers should be able get this done without much hand-wringing... 33 - 17

Friday, August 27, 2010

Big Ten Football Previews – 2010 (continued)

Editor's Note: Here are the remaining previews ... Get Gamm starts next week!

*Note, bowl shown only from 2004 on as I did not predict the bowl berths prior to that season.

Team: Wisconsin Badgers

Tidbits … Wisconsin has yet another big time back in the Heisman race in John Clay. And after a great start and a mediocre middle, Coach Bielema has re-discovered his recipe for success, going 10-3 in 2009 and laying the foundation for what many believe will be a big 2010.

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 3-5 (T-7th), Insight / 10-3, 5-3 (T-4th), Champs
2008 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-2nd), Alamo / 7-6, 3-5 (T-6th), Champs
2007 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose / 9-4, 5-3 (4th), Outback
2006 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 4-4 (T-6th), Alamo / 12-1, 7-1 (T-2nd), Capital One
2005 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Alamo / 10-3, 5-3 (T-3rd), Capital One
2004 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Alamo / 9-3, 6-2 (3rd), Outback
2003 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (T-2nd) / 7-6, 4-4 (T-7th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 8-5, 4-4 (T-6th) / 8-6, 2-6 (T-8th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (4th) / 5-7, 3-5 (T-8th)

Returning Starters: 10 offense, 6 defense, 2 kickers

Key Returnees: QB Scott Tolzien, RB John Clay, WR Nick Toon, DE J.J. Watt, LB Culmer St. Jean, K Phillip Welch

Key Losses: TE Garrett Graham, DE O'Brien Schofield, LB Jaevery McFadden, S Chris Maragos

Prediction ... I'm a traditionalist in the sense that I like a Big Ten offense that can pound you but also make you pay with a great pass call at the right time. I'm not a fan of the spread, the spread option or an all run or all pass offense... which is why I like Wisconsin this year. This might be the best top to bottom attack the Badgers have ever had. A weapon like Clay, a solid, heady QB, some great receivers. The question is the defense. The Badgers usually have at least a sound defense but if the D can match the O, look out Big Ten. The kicking game is sound and the schedule isn't scary - except the back to back OSU and Iowa games. UW heads back to Orlando again, but not for the Champs Bowl this time...

OOC: 4-0 (Yawn. Big yawn - unless the Badgers' bus gets stuck at a casino in week one!)
B10: 6-2 (Plenty of tough games but October 16 and 23 are the difference between the Capital One or Rose Bowl)
Overall: 10-2, 3rd in the conference, Capital One Bowl

- - - - - - - - - -

Team: Iowa Hawkeyes

Tidbits ... Iowa is a lot like Michigan State in that it flies highest when off the radar - see 2006 as an example of hype and fizzle. That said, the 21st century trend is three year cycles of greatness... this would be year three in a current cycle (11, 10 and 10 wins from 02-04; 9 and 11 wins the past two seasons)

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 5-3 (T-4th) Capital One/ 11-2, 6-2 (T-2nd), Orange
2008 Prediction / actual: 5-7, 2-6 (T-9th) / 9-4, 5-3 (T-4th), Outback
2007 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-4th), Champs / 6-6, 4-4 (T-5th)
2006 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose / 6-7, 2-6 (T-8th), Alamo
2005 Prediction / actual: 9-2, 6-2 (T-1st), BCS / 7-5, 5-3 (T-3rd), Outback
2004 Prediction / actual: 9-2, 6-2 (3rd), Capital One / 10-2, 7-1 (T-1st), Capital One
2003 Prediction / actual: 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 10-3, 5-3 (T-4th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 4-4 (T-6th) / 11-2, 8-0 (T-1st)
2001 Prediction / actual: 5-6, 2-6 (T-10th) / 7-5, 4-4 (T-4th)

Returning Starters: 6 offense, 8 defense, 2 kickers

Key Returnees: QB Ricky Stanzi, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, RB Adam Robinson, DE Adrian Clayborn, DB Tyler Sash

Key Losses: TE Tony Moeaki, LB A.J. Edds, LB Pat Angerer, DB Amari Spievey

Prediction ... I love Iowa's schedule. Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State all come to Iowa City. Michigan is down. Arizona is the only real tough OOC slate. The offense will be good. The defense is always great. Iowa won a bunch of close games last year and with what returns, that means the Hawkeyes know how to win even more so than most opponents. The offense will be sound if not exciting and the defense will keep them in every game. Returning both kickers is also a boon.

OOC: 3-1 (Arizona stings Iowa in the desert)
B10: 7-1 (OSU nips Iowa again)
Overall: 10-2, 2nd in the conference, Rose Bowl

- - - - - - - - - -

Team: Ohio State Buckeyes

Tidbits: The Buckeyes have only failed to win double digit games twice since I started prognosticating the Big Ten. The scarlet and gray have won five-straight Big Ten titles, absolutely owned Michigan and are poised to make another run at the BCS Title. Fear the sweater vest!

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 7-1 (T-1st), BCS Bowl / 11-2, 7-1 (1st) - Rose
2008 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 8-0 (1st) - BCS Title Game / 10-3, 7-1 (T-1st) - Fiesta Bowl
2007 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (3rd) - Captial One / 11-2, 7-1 (1st), BCS Title Game
2006 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), BCS / 12-1, 8-0 (1st), BCS Title Game
2005 Prediction / actual: 8-3, 6-2 (T-1st), Capital One / 10-2, 7-1 (T-1st), Fiesta
2004 Prediction / actual: 10-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose / 8-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Alamo
2003 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (1st) / 11-2, 6-2 (T-2nd)
2002 Prediction / actual: 11-2, 6-2 (T-1st) / 14-0, 8-0 (T-1st), National Champs
2001 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 4-4 (T-5th) / 7-5, 5-3 (3rd)

Returning Starters: 9 offense, 5 defense, 0 kickers

Key Returnees: QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, DL Cameron Heyward, LB Ross Homan, DB Chemdi Chekwa

Key Losses: DL Thaddeus Gibson, DL Doug Worthington, DB Kurt Coleman, P Aaron Pettrey

Prediction: It is awfully tough to pick against Ohio State, even with the Big Ten seemingly on the rise. Pryor enters year three and I think he still has plenty to prove as a signal caller and leader. Pay no mind to any personnel loses, OSU goes three deep everywhere. The defense will take some time to come around - four quarters anyway - and the kicking game is a possible question, but like I said, who bets against five-time defending champions?

OOC: 4-0 (Miami is the best test)
B10: 8-0 (Sixth straight title)
Overall: 12-0, 1st - BCS Title Game Berth

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Big Ten Football Previews – 2010 (continued)

Editor's Note: Here are the next set of previews ... the rest will follow as time allows.

*Note, bowl shown only from 2004 on as I did not predict the bowl berths prior to that season.

Team: Penn State Nittany Lions

Tidbits: Penn State has had double digit wins 21 times in Joe Paterno's tenure. The 159 points allowed last year was the lowest since 1986, when the Nittany Lions won the National Title.

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose / 11-2, 6-2 (T-2nd), Capital One
2008 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 5-3 (T-2nd), BCS Berth / 11-2, 7-1 (T-1st), Rose
2007 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 5-3 (T-4th), Outback / 9-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Alamo
2006 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 6-2 (T-3rd), Capital One / 9-4, 5-3 (T-4th), Outback
2005 Prediction / actual: 6-5, 3-5 (T-7th), Music City / 11-1, 7-1 (T-1st), Orange
2004 Prediction / actual: 6-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Music City / 4-7, 2-6 (9th)
2003 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th) / 3-9, 1-7 (T-9th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 9-3, 6-2 (T-1st) / 9-4, 5-3 (4th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 5-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 5-6, 4-4 (T-4th)

Returning Starters: 7 offense, 5 defense, 1 kicker

Key Returnees: RB Evan Royster, C Stefen Wisniewski, WR Derek Moye, WR Graham Zug, S Nick Sukay

Key Losses: QB Daryll Clark, TE Andrew Quarless, DT Jared Odrick, LB Sean Lee, LB Navorro Bowman

Prediction: Penn State will be an interesting team to watch in 2010. There is one "money" OOC tilt (at Alabama) and tough revenge trips to Iowa and Ohio State on tap. Evan Royster is the top tailback in the league, the wide receiving corps is dangerous and the interior of the line is sound. But the Nittany Lions must break in a new signal caller and a pair of tackles. Never underestimate the loss of a veteran quarterback. Defensively, Penn State loses even more starters including the entire linebacking corps. Now this is Linebacker U so expect guys like Chris Colasanti to step right up, but the talent losses might be too much for this team to perform as predicted by so many. I think Penn State takes a step back in 2010 in preparation for a fantastic 2012 - which I predict will be Paterno's last in Happy Valley...

OOC: 3-1 (The trip to Alabama could make or break the season, and don't sleep on Temple)
B10: 5-3 (Revenge will not be found in Iowa City or Columbus and Penn State finally loses at home against the Spartans)
Overall: 8-4, T-4th, Gator Bowl Berth

- - - - - - - - - -

Team: Michigan State Spartans

Tidbits ... The Spartans' recent bowl streak is the first three season run since Nick Saban took over in the mid 90s. The last time the Spartans missed the mark on a solid preseason Big Ten ranking and lost as many games in the waning moments was 1998 - the year before once of the best seasons in program history.

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (3rd), Outback / 6-7, 4-4 (T-6th), Alamo
2008 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-2nd), Outback / 9-4, 6-2 (3rd), Capital One
2007 Prediction / actual: 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th), Insight / 7-6, 3-5 (T-7th), Champs
2006 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (5th), Champs / 4-8, 1-7 (T-10th)
2005 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 5-3 (4th), Sun / 5-6, 2-6 (9th)
2004 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Sun / 5-7, 4-4 (T-5th)
2003 Prediction / actual: 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 8-5, 5-3 (T-4th)
2002 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (T-1st) / 4-8, 2-6 (T-8th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 8-3, 6-2 (T-1st) / 7-5, 3-5 (T-8th)

Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense, 1 kicker

Key Returnees: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Larry Caper, WR Keshawn Martin, LG Joel Foreman, LB Greg Jones, LB Eric Gordon, P Aaron Bates

Key Losses: C Joel Nitchman, WR Blair White, NT Oren Wilson, S Danny Fortener, PK Brett Swenson

Prediction ... Michigan State is back in the sleeper role and that is one that frankly, suits the Spartans just fine. A season ago, the QB position was unsettled. Not this time around. Kirk Cousins is the bona fide leader of the offense and the team and he has an offense loaded with weapons, including former QB Keith Nichol who has moved to wide receiver. The biggest question on offense is the front line. State needs to be able to run the ball better this season. Defensively, you'll be hard pressed to find a better corps of linebackers in the nation. And that includes two impact freshmen. The front line is solid but not spectacular. The secondary needs to tighten up and is quite young. Don't underestimate the loss of Brett Swenson. He was the best kicker in a long line of storied MSU booters. Still, the schedule sets up nicely for MSU to do some very nice things...

OOC: 4-0 (Nothing overly scary here)
B10: 5-3 (Wisconsin, Northwestern and Iowa prove to be the road blocks to a phenominal season)
Overall: 9-3, T-4th, Outback Bowl Berth

Friday, August 06, 2010

Big Ten Football Previews – 2010 (continued)

Editor's Note: Here are the next set of previews ... the rest will follow as time allows.

*Note, bowl shown only from 2004 on as I did not predict the bowl berths prior to that season.

Team: Purdue Boilermakers

Tidbits … The last time Purdue came off a 5-win season, the Boilermakers won 8 games and went bowling. This is the first time since 1995 and 1996 that the gold and black have put up consecutive losing seasons.

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction / actual: 2-10, 0-8 (11th) / 5-7, 4-4 (T-6th)
2008 Prediction / actual: 7-5, 4-4 (6th), Insight / 4-8, 2-6 (T-9th)
2007 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 4-4 (T-6th), Alamo / 8-5, 3-5 (T-7th), Motor City
2006 Prediction / actual: 8-5, 4-4 (T-6th), Insight / 8-6, 5-3 (T-4th), Champs
2005 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 4-4 (T-5th), Outback / 5-6, 3-5 (8th)
2004 Prediction / actual: 7-4, 5-3 (4th), Outback / 7-5, 4-4 (T-5th), Sun
2003 Prediction / actual: 10-2, 6-2 (T-2nd) / 9-4, 6-2 (T-2nd)
2002 Prediction / actual: 8-4, 5-3 (T-4th) / 7-6, 4-4 (T-5th)
2001 Prediction / actual: 9-2, 6-2 (T-1st) / 6-6, 4-4 (T-4th

Returning Starters: 6 offense, 6 defense, 1 kicker

Key Returnees: WR Keith Smith, TE Kyle Adams, DE Ryan Kerrigan, DT Kawann Short, K Carson Wiggs,

Key Losses: QB Joey Elliott, FS Torri Williams, DT Mike Neal, CB Brandon King

Prediction ... Purdue is a team that many preseason magazines have squarely in the middle of the pack. I can't disagree, but there are some question marks with the running game (due to all of the spring injuries) and transfer Robert Marve has tremendous upside, but I've seen plenty of heralded transfers turn to duds. This is the first time I can remember that the Boilermakers open with Notre Dame. That will be a key game for both. Things ease up from there in the OOC but while Purdue avoids Iowa, the road gets much tougher when the Big Ten season calls. I like this team to be able to do better than I predict and certainly not any worse, but there are too many questions at this time for me to go any higher (the secondary comes to mind).

OOC: 4-0 (ND win pushes PU to a great start)
B10: 3-5 (wins over Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana)
Overall: 7-5, 7th in the conference, Texas Bowl bid

- - - - - - - - - -

Team: Northwestern Wildcats

Tidbits … Northwestern is on a three-year run of seasons with a .500 or better record. That's the longest such run since the late 1920's / early 1930's. The 17 wins over the last two seasons is the best since NU won 19 games from 1995-96.

Past Predictions/Results:
2009 Prediction/actual: 7-5, 3-5 (T-7th_ - At Large Bid / 8-5, 5-3 (T-4th) - Outback Bowl
2008 Prediction/actual: 6-6, 2-6 (T-9th) - At Large Bid / 9-4, 5-3 (T-4th) - Alamo Bowl
2007 Prediction/actual: 5-7, 2-6 (9th) / 6-6, 3-5 (T-7th)
2006 Prediction/actual: 4-8, 1-7 (T-9th) / 4-8, 2-6 (T-8th)
2005 Prediction/actual: 5-6, 3-5 (T-7th) / 7-5, 5-3 (T-3rd) – Sun Bowl
2004 Prediction/actual: 5-7, 2-6 (9th) / 6-6, 5-3 (4th)
2003 Prediction/actual: 3-9, 0-8 (11th) / 6-7, 4-4 (T-7th) – Motor City Bowl
2002 Prediction/actual: 4-8, 1-7 (T-6th) / 3-9, 1-7 (T-10th)
2001 Prediction/actual: 7-4, 4-4 (T-5th) / 4-7, 2-6 (T-10th)

Returning Starters: 8 offense, 6 defense, 1 kicker

Key Returnees: QB Dan Persa, SB Drake Dunsmore, WR Sidney Stewart, FS Brian Peters, LB Quentin Davie, P/K Stefan Demos

Key Losses: QB Mike Kafka, DE Corey Wootton, FS Brad Phillips, SS Brendan Smith

Prediction ... Northwestern was a pleasant surprise last year, rattling off some surprise wins over ranked foes and playing in maybe the best bowl game of the season. There is a fair amount of turnover at key positions, but the return of the entire offensive front should allow for some solid plug and play at skill positions. The secondary could be sketchy, but the linebacking corps is solid and Stefan Demos is a great weapon as well. The OOC slate is pretty easy, though don't sleep on Central Michigan. I see overall improvement in the record from last year and for the Wildcats to take true advantage for not having to play Ohio State or Penn State.

OOC: 4-0 (no one here strikes fear into anyone!)
B10: 4-4 (wins over Purdue, Michigan State, Indiana and Illinois)
Overall: 8-4, 6th in the conference, Insight bowl berth