Walk-On Redshirts Round Robin

Welcome back to the second edition of The Walk-On Redshirts Round Robin! This time we are adding in Intern Gibble to get his thoughts. We have five questions about college football heading into 2021!

Josh Heupel took the Tennessee job after Jeremy Pruitt was fired. He has seen numerous players transfer and some released from their letter of intent. What are the realistic expectations for Tennessee this year?

Jake: If we are being 100% honest, the goal is to make it through the season. This off season has been a mess for Tennessee. If Heupel can manage to make it to a bowl game, you have to consider it a successful season. He was hired later in the process than almost any coach in recent history. I think there are six winable games on the schedule, but obviously that does not mean they will win all of them.

Cole: The last 20 years for the University of Tennessee football program have been… less than spectacular overall. While there are seven 9+ win seasons in there, the Volunteers also eight campaigns that ended in 5 or less wins, including this past 2020 season. Truthfully, Tennessee has many of the pieces needed to create a program that competes year in and year out for titles, but their toxic administration prevents them from achieving those heights. Unfortunately for Volunteer fans, I don’t think that changes with the hiring of Josh Heupel. A new coaching staff and the loss of some really important players (i.e. Henry To’o To’o) makes this a very difficult rebuild. Realistically, I see a 5-7 record for ole Rocky Top in 2021.

Sean: I think Tennessee just needs to build some momentum. They are a train wreck right now. As my collogues stated, a .500 record seems like a stretch goal at this point. Heupel needs to establish a culture and just get his team back on track. If they can be competitive and maybe pull off an upset, I would consider it a positive year. My expectations are for a building block type year, find out who your leaders are and play a lot of young guys and find who your core starters will be for the future.

Intern Gibble: For anyone who’s expecting a winning record in Knoxville, I’m here to bring you back to Earth. Josh Heupel might bring a strong resume with him from UCF, but that’s not going to bring immediate results to a team that’s in major disarray. They lose their former starting quarterback to the transfer portal with Guarantano leaving for Wazzu, but do bring in Hendon Hooker from Virginia Tech. He might not even start either, which could see them turn to J.T. Shrout or incoming 4-star freshman Kaidon Salter if things continue to be rocky in the QB room(pun intended). There are just so many different things going on that I don’t see them fixing all of their problems right away here. Their out of conference schedule is pretty favorable, but I don’t see Volunteers getting more than 2 conference wins. 5-7 is more than likely where I see them at, which is respectable for them with all things considered here.

In 2019 Joe Burrow burst onto the scene and had one of the best seasons in college football history. Last year Zach Wilson came out of nowhere to lead BYU to an excellent season. Who is a player we could see rise to stardom in 2021?

Jake: Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec is who I am taking here. He transferred from Notre Dame and did not get spring practice last year. In Burrow’s first season at LSU, he threw 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. In Jurkovec’s first season at Boston College he threw 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. Burrow threw for 2,894 yards while Jurkovec threw for 2,558. Burrow had better offensive weapons and for sure benefited from that. Jurkovec may not win the Heisman, but look for him to seperate himself this fall and not only be one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC but all of college football.

Cole: I’m going to keep my eyes on the small stage (like with Wilson at BYU) and pick Carson Strong from Nevada. The Wolfpack’s gunslinger had one of the more impressive seasons in 2020, throwing for 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns (as compared to only 4 INTs) on a 70.1% completion percentage in nine games. The 2021 season provides a very reasonable conference slate but more importantly some very winnable matchups against Cal and Kansas State that would springboard him in to the national spotlight with some big performances.

Sean: If you read our first Round Table I am taking the guy I picked to win the Heisman Trophy.. Bryce Young. Although, he is not really a break out player to die hard college football fans, he has only attempted 22 passes in his career so he fits the criteria in my mind. They are replacing two of the best receivers in the country and have a new play caller in Bill O’Brien but Alabama never has a lack of talent at the skill positions. Bryce Young has the keys to a Ferrari and he has the talent to put up Heisman type stats.

Intern Gibble: This pick is either going to go really well or be a fantastic bust, but we’re gonna pick Bo Nix anyway. Nix has had some big moments where he showed out and looked like a stud of a quarterback and a Heisman caliber player and others where he looks like he has no idea how to football. New head coach Brian Harsin brings a lot of experience with him and as a former QB himself, should have the knowledge to help Nix reach his potential. He didn’t really improve much from year one to year two with the Tigers, but with the potential to leave early for the draft after this season I can see him bringing it together for a big year. A week 3 trip up north to Happy Valley is a great stage for Bo Nix to show improvement and lead his team to a top tier win early in the year.

Cincinnati played Georgia in the Peach Bowl and nearly won this past bowl season. Looking into 2021, which school other than Cincinnati has the best chance at a New Years Six bowl game?

Jake: I think Billy Napier and Louisiana have the best chance after Cincinnati. With games against Texas and Liberty, they have a chance to make a statement early to help their rankings. Napier returns a strong core of his team including quaterback Levi Lewis. Coastal Carolina is an interesting case but their schedule is weak so they could get passed up even with an undefeated schedule. Louisiana has a chance to make a statement and could easily make a New Years Six bowl game with one loss.

Cole: You can find me right next to Jake in Ragin’ Cajun’s bandwagon on this one. While there are definitely some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, most notably Trey Ragas and Elijah Mitchell in the backfield, the foundation Coach Napier has built will prevent a major drop off. Returning Levi Lewis, most of their WR and OL will allow them to stay in games as their defense finds their footing early on. While the Texas game is what draws your eye initially, avoiding Coastal Carolina in the regular season is extremely beneficial. If Louisiana can get it rolling and come bounding down the stretch, a possible win over the Chanticleers (what an awesome mascot) could put them in the conversation for a NY6 bowl game, even with an early loss to Texas.

Sean: I am going with Liberty. Hugh Freeze lead the Flames to a 10-1 record in 2020 and brings back quarterback Malik Willis. If it weren’t for a heart breaking loss to NC State, they could have had some real consideration for the CFP. They do have two road tests in 2021. They travel to the Carrier Dome, where Syracuse seems to always have one upset per season, and they travel to Oxford, Mississippi for the Hugh Freeze revenge game with Ole Miss. Coming off the hype of last year, even a close loss to Ole Miss should still get them in consideration for a NY6 game.

Intern Gibble: Coastal Carolina should have little issue repeating the success they had in the 2020 season. They take on Kansas again along with UMass(not a real football team) and have basically everyone returning this year. Grayson McCall is back to lead the Chanticleers at QB and was absolutely electric last year. With all the experience they retain their team expectation has to be a repeat. The problem is, with such a weak out of conference schedule they have virtually no room for a slip up in the season.

Some of the biggest named quarterbacks are off to the NFL so we will see a lot of new faces. Which first year quarterback has the highest expectations heading into 2021?

Jake: The first year quarterback that I believe will get the most hype is D.J. Uiagalelei. He started two games for Trevor Lawrence in 2020 and showed what he is capable. Dabo Swinney has been hyping him up since he stepped on campus. The former five star quarterback will start this fall and will have Heisman expectations out of the gates. Switching gears, I think you can look at Michigan with Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy as well. Jim Harbaugh has to find a quarterback and he is running out of chances. Harbaugh cannot let the competition continue into the fall. Figuring out who will be the starter early in camp should be a priority. The spotlight continues to follow Harbaugh around which means his quarterbacks will also have the lights on them.

Cole: Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, and Sam Huard are all guys who I expect to start from day one at their respective programs. Each of those programs comes with immense pressure but it is Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei who I believe has the highest expectations. Now I know, he did start two games this past year (out of necessity) but with Trevor Lawrence turning pro, it’s DJ’s show in 2021. It’s actually those two games against Boston College and Notre Dame that I believe are the reason the expectations are so high. While he went 1-1 in those two starts, he played masterfully; throwing for a combined 59-85 (69.4%), 781 yards and four TDs. He also added another two scores on the ground. Clemson has surrounded Uiagalelei with a multitude of talent but still needs him to play well to utilize it to it’s fullest extent.

Sean: I am going to sound repetitive but I am going with Bryce Young (again). Alabama is about to have consecutive quarterbacks taken in the first round and they are coming off a national title in 2020. Add on the fact Young was the top duel threat QB in his class coming out of high school and the expectations are set pretty high. He does have to overcome a new OC and play caller in Bill O’Brien but before that mess he created in Houston he was considered a QB whisper. I think he is back where he belongs in the college ranks and will prove it this season.

Intern Gibble: Is there more pressure on someone than taking the reins from one of the two best quarterbacks heading to the NFL draft? I’d say taking over for the quarterback of a team who might just be one of the most elite, talent ridden, and dominant teams we’ve ever seen just might be. Being the QB at Alabama is easily one of the highest pressure situations possible and Bryce Young has been given that opportunity. The sophomore came to Bama has the number 5 overall prospect in the 2020 class and was beaten out of the job by the experience of Mac Jones when most though he could be starting as a freshman. With the talent Young has and the level of experience Bama brought in with the hiring of Bill O’Brien, fans will expect another Heisman caliber campaign from their quarterback. He has the tools and the talent around him to excel. It’s just a matter of Bryce Young handling that pressure.

Ohio State is expected to be the favorite in the Big Ten once again this fall. Other than Ohio State, which school has the best chance to win the Big Ten?

Image taken from Eleven Warriors. Article written by Dan Hope.
https://www.elevenwarriors.com/the-big-ten/2020/10/117422/big-ten-to-deem-any-canceled-games-due-to-covid-19-no-contest-updates-tiebreaker-procedures-for-2020-season

Jake: Obviously Ohio State and Ryan Day will be the favorites to win the Big Ten once again this fall. If Ohio State does not win the conference, I think it is because they lose in the Big Ten championship game. While a school like Indiana or Penn State could have a chance to knock off Ohio State, I think both of them lose additional games on the schedule to put them behind the Buckeyes. Northwestern and Iowa are the programs I like in 2021. Both return a solid portion of their team. Northwestern will most likely be starting former South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hillinski this fall which should give them their best quarterback in some time. I think Pat Fitzgerald is a better coach so we will go with Northwestern.

Cole: Can I still choose Ohio State? In all seriousness, as the Buckeyes vie for their fourth straight Big Ten title and 40th overall, there is one team that comes to mind that as a legitimate contender, the Northwestern Wildcats. While they may not have as much talent as a Wisconsin, they utilize what they have to its fullest extent. Pat Fitzgerald has been slowly building NW into a consistent over-achiever and I don’t see that stopping in 2021.

The loss of defensive coordinator, Mike Hankwitz will put a strain on the defense. However, with the addition of transfer quarterback Ryan Hilinski the offense should get a much needed boost and take some of that weight off of the defense’s shoulders. The Wildcats were able to take the Buckeyes down to wire last year and, with an improved offense, could take the proverbial crown right off the Champ’s head.

Sean: I will take Indiana. Northwestern makes a great case but when in doubt I always lean toward the better QB. Early reports say Michel Penix should be good to go for the season opener in 2021 and he had the Hoosiers rolling before he went down late in the season with a torn ACL. Tom Allen has that team believing and they gave the Buckeyes a scare late in their game last season. Penix heath will be the biggest factor but the Hoosiers were a really exciting team last year and I see them continuing that momentum into 2021.

Intern Gibble: This could very well be the easy answer to this question, but I don’t much care. I fully expect Wisconsin to be back to their normal quality this season and take back the West from Northwestern. The Badgers severely underachieved last season with a big break early on due to Covid and really just never got rolling. They walloped Illinois and Michigan and then their offense just became completely inept until the Mayo Bowl. Their biggest positional loss is on the offensive line in the form of Cole Van Lanen heading to the NFL, but we all know they have another tree sized human waiting to fill that spot. It’s not going to be a cake walk for them with how strong Northwestern and Iowa will continue to be next season, but I don’t see them being down as bad as they were two seasons straight.

In the East, I don’t see a team that’s right on the heels of Ohio State at the moment who’s ready to take their mantle this year. Indiana would be the closest if you really want me to pick, but Penn State needs to show a ton of improvement to be back in that conversation.

We’ll check back on these predictions in January 2022 to see how epically, hilariously wrong we were.

College Football Program’s as Fast Food Restaurants

First we looked at bar foods and compared them to college football teams. Now we are going to step it up a notch. We are going to look at how college football teams compare to fast food restaurants. We have to lay some grounds rules. First, fast casual will be allowed in the discussion. Second, it does not have to be a national chain. We are going to look at regional chains. The restaurant does need to be a franchise though. I also do not care where a franchise is located. Just because it is specific to one state does not mean it is going with that team, but it will be considered. While I do love local fast food places, we need it to be a franchise in some fashion. With that being said, let’s jump right in!

McDonalds (Michigan) – Take a moment and think about McDonald’s. It is a classic fast food restaurant. They have the Big Mac and were one of the first to really set themselves apart. In recent years, they have taken a step back because all they do is announce the McRib is back and hope people do not realize the McRib sucks. Michigan has the most wins all time and 11 National Championships. When you look at the last two decades, has Michigan accomplished anything? They have continued to flaunt Jim Harbaugh out there with hopes fans will believe they will return to glory.

Burger King (Kansas) – Burger King sucks. Let me make this very clear. There is nothing good on the menu at Burger King. If you go to Burger King, you might as well eat out of their dumpster to get better food. My girlfriend told me she loves Burger King and I nearly broke up with her. The correlation is obvious here. Kansas is awful. The Jayhawks went winless in 2020 and were blew out in nearly every game. Only one of their games were decided by single digits.

Chipotle (Oklahoma) – If someone says they are going to Chipotle, I guarantee there will be others who follow. Everyone has their specific order at Chipotle and rarely stray from it (burrito, white rice, black beans, chicken, hot salsa, corn, extra cheese). You could go multiple days in a row and not get bored of it. The food baby can be overwhelming at first but after it settles, you remember how good the food was. While Oklahoma may not be a food baby, their offense is a sight that never gets old. Oklahoma can put up 50 or 60 points every week and we will all be there watching. Each year they continue to amaze with the ability to recruit offensive skill players.

Culver’s (Wisconsin) – I know I said location did not matter but for this one it does. I screwed up Wisconsin on the bar food article, so I am not making the same mistake. Culver’s is as Wisconsin as they come. When you google “Culvers” to see what comes up you get a very Wisconsin phrase. Frozen Custard, Butterburgers, and Cheese is the what the first result says. For a program that is known for beefy offensive linemen and running the ball down the opponents throat, the team for sure eats a lot of Culver’s.

Popeye’s (LSU) – I really could not pick another school for Popeye’s. It is know as Louisiana Fried Chicken. Popeye’s advertises about their secret blend of spices for a Cajun feel. You do not have to look further than LSU’s tailgating and atmosphere to know they have an amazing game day experience. Coach Orgeron played at LSU and has an incredible southern accent to perfectly fit LSU’s culture.

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – SEPTEMBER 14: Derek Stingley Jr. #24 of the LSU Tigers in action during a game against the Northwestern State Demons at Tiger Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Long John Silver (Tennessee) – Anyone who prides themselves on fish in fast food form should be shamed. Deep fried shrimp is acceptable as well as hush puppies. Fish sticks scare me. I refuse to believe Long John Silver serves real food. Tennessee does not play real football so this is a perfect match. The coaching search that result in Jeremy Pruitt was a disaster as was his entire tenure. The administration did their own investigation to fire Pruitt with cause. Tennessee is a disaster just like fast food fish.

White Castle (West Virginia) – How many people can actually say they have been to White Castle? Keep your hand up if you actually enjoyed it. Everyone’s hand better be down. The meat is not real and it is scary how many White Castle restaurants are in the United States (377). West Virginia’s student population is not from the state and they make sure to leave right after graduation because even they do not like it there. They show up drunk, burn some couches, and leave. You can show up to White Castle and have the same experience.

Sonic (Miami FL) – I always felt like Sonic’s way of serving customers was too complicated. There is no actual area to sit down inside. All seating is either outside or in your car(I know it is a drive in, I do not care). The food is just okay and Sonic is starting to go out of business. Miami is struggling to get back to the top and is trying to get creative in how they acquire talent but it has not been fully succeeding. Relying on the transfer portal can be a slippery slope especially in terms of recruiting but they are still alive so they will keep trying.

Subway (USC) – Overall Subway is a solid meal. Lately Subway has started to become over priced. A $5 footlong is now more than $5. The sandwich artists seem to skimp on how much food to put on my sub like they think I need to be on a diet. USC has been solid over the past two decades with high moments and low moments but it averages out to be an overall good program. USC seems to be missing out on one or two key pieces to really put them over the top and help them reach excellence again.

Starbucks (Washington) – Here is another one where I am considering the location. Starbucks is the king of overpriced coffee and adding way too many ingredients. When you get down to the actual coffee, their blend is just okay. It is nothing to boast about. From an outside perspective, Washington looks to be a good program. When you dig a little deeper, you notice they only have three Pac-12 titles since 2000. They do have a playoff appearance to help their resume but they fell off after the game against Alabama. Is Washington just an overpriced cup of coffee?

SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 02: Washington Huskies linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio (48) and Washington Huskies linebacker Jackson Sirmon (43) celebrate a big play by the UW defense during a PAC12 Conference game between the Washington Huskies and the Utah Utes on November 2, 2019, at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA. (Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Dairy Queen (Cincinnati) – Dairy Queen has the best desserts but I will refuse to eat their dinner. A restaurant that prides itself on its ice cream is going to have a hand time convincing me they also make a good cheeseburger. The Blizzards are amazing. Personal favorite is the s’mores blizzard in the summertime. Cincinnati is the best group of five team right now and not many will debate that. When it comes to letting them play with the big boys, will anyone actually consider it?

In-N-Out (Alabama) – When it comes to the actual food, In-N-Out might have the best combination of quality and taste. In-N-Out is only on the west coast because they do not ship their beef very far. They do not take shortcuts when it comes to their burgers. Making a burger “Animal Style” is a must. Alabama and Nick Saban do not take shortcuts either. Many of their star players do not see real playing time until their second or third season. They recently had multiple five stars transfer out because they just were not good enough to see the field. Iron sharpens iron and Alabama is proof it works.

Whataburger (Texas) – I have never had Whataburger but people tell me it is good. Until I actually have it, I will need to leave my review at the door. People rave about it to a level which can be annoying. The hype Whataburger gets is the same hype Texas gets every year. All gas, no brakes. Until Texas delivers, I will not believe the hype. Until I eat Whataburger, I also will not believe the hype.

Wendy’s (Ohio State) – When it comes to nationwide chains, Wendy’s is hands down the best one. The 4 for 4 is the best deal in fast food and the 2 for 5 is slept on. If you do not get a frosty, did you even go to Wendy’s? Ohio State is one of the largest fan bases and they stretch the entire country. Wherever Ohio State goes, they always have a large section of supporting fans. The Buckeyes also made the National Championship game and are consistently a contender. They may not have the quality of Alabama yet, but they are pushing for it.

Boston Market (UCLA) – How is Boston Market still in business? I believe it is because of their frozen dinners. People love to heat up full meals in their microwave and oven so they have to be surviving off that money. Anytime I drive past a Boston Market there is never anyone in there. Have you ever seen a UCLA football game? They play in the Rose Bowl and it always looks empty. For a school that plays in the second largest city in the United States, you would hope they could attract a few more fans. The football program does not make enough money to cover themselves so they have to use the university and other sports programs to stay afloat.

Taco Bell (Notre Dame) – Everyone loves to hate on Taco Bell because the quality of food is poor. I love Taco Bell and hate it at the same time. Will it make me feel awful the next day? Absolutely. Will I get it again? You bet your ass I will. Notre Dame is the school people love to hate. Notre Dame plays a tough schedule yearly. They consistently play more power five teams than almost anyone and when they go undefeated, it upsets fans because Notre Dame does things different.

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Raising Canes (Georgia) – Raising Cane’s has the best dipping sauce on this list and I will fight anyone who says different. The problem with Raising Canes is they only have four items on the menu. The menu items are chicken tenders, cole slaw, texas toast, and fries. If that is all you are looking for, then this is the place to go. If you want variety, you might want to look elsewhere. Look at Georgia’s offense. Until the last few games of 2020, the last three years under Kirby Smart have been the same. They have a couple stud play makers but were limited at quarterback.

Skyline Chili (Miami OH) – Many people reading this may not realize what Skyline Chili is or where it is even located. First, Skyline Chili is almost like a sauce that goes on your spaghetti. There is a large faction of southwest Ohio who love this. My parents used to make it for me growing up, but I refuse to eat it now. Miami (OH) is located in Oxford, Ohio which is outside of Cincinnati. I have never met anyone who went to Miami (OH) or even visited the school. I am not even sure if it is a real place. The real Miami is located in Florida. Are we sure Miami (OH) is a real place? Are we sure Skyline Chili is even real? Am I having the Mendela Effect with Skyline Chili?

KFC (Florida) – KFC seems to have a solid base of food and will occasionally pop up with something exciting. Remember when KFC came out with the Double Down? Instead of bread, it used two chicken fillets while also having bacon and cheese in the middle. Florida is consistently a good team wining 10 or more games in nine seasons since the year 2000 including two national titles. They have their moments when they are great but on average, they are still a solid team.

Checkers (Temple) – First, I went to Temple. I get to make fun of Temple because I am an alum. Second, the only time I have ever seen Checkers is in an sketchy area but for some reason there are always people there. Someone has to like Checkers. Temple finds a way to be relevant every few years by having a first round pick on their team or playing a good opponent close. Also, Temple is in the hood of Philadelphia so it just makes senses.

Top Returning Running Backs for 2021

We already took a look at the top returning quarterbacks for the 2021 season, now it is time to look at the top returning running backs. The qualifications are a little different for running back because some schools do a committee approach. This player must have been at their current school last year. No transfers when we are looking at 2021. With that being said, let’s jump right in!

10 – Noah Cain (Penn State): Noah Cain made a splash in 2019 playing a considerable amount for Penn State as a true freshman. He was expected to play a large role in the 2020 season after Journey Brown medically retired. Unfortunately for Cain, he only had three carries and then tore his ACL. Looking back on his 2019 campaign, he averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Keyvone Lee took most of the snaps at running back for Penn State in 2020, but I expect Cain to return as the starter for next season and have a strong season.

9 – Deuce Vaughn (Kansas State): Deuce Vaughn was only a freshman last season and he still had 642 rushing yards and 434 receiving yards. Vaughn showed his ability to be an every down back in 2020. While Vaughn is only list at 5’5″ and 168 pounds, he still averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Vaughn also ended the season strong. The last two games of the season he had over 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns in each game. I look for him to build off of that success and improve heading in 2021.

MANHATTAN, KS – SEPTEMBER 12: Running back Deuce Vaughn #22 of the Kansas State Wildcats runs up field against the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on September 12, 2020 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

8 – Jerrion Ealy (Ole Miss): In each of Jerrion Ealy’s first two seasons he has rushed for more than 700 yards. Last year he also added nine touchdowns. Lane Kiffin has proven to be a strong offensive minded coach. Year two with Ole Miss should see more improvements with the offense since they also return quarterback Matt Corral. Ealy should be an early candidate for the best running back in the SEC. One concern for Ealy is the drop in his yards per carry. He averaged 6.9 yards per carry in 2019 and that dropped to 5.1 yards per carry in 2020. I think he bounces back for a strong campaign in 2021.

7 – Tank Bigsby (Auburn): Tank Bigsby made a statement in his freshman season rushing for 834 yards and five touchdowns. Bigsby had four games where he rushed for over 100 yards. Shaun Shivers and D.J. Williams both took snaps at running back in 2020. Heading in 2021, Bigsby should be penciled in as the starter after averaging 6.0 yards per carry in 2020. Auburn will need to rely heavily on Bigsby to have a succesful season as Bo Nix has not progressed as many thought he would.

6 – Jarek Broussard (Colorado): Jarek Broussard burst onto the scene in 2020 rushing for 895 yards in only six games. Broussard’s best game came against Arizona where he rushed for 301 yards on only 25 carries. One criticism of Broussard is he only scored five touchdowns and they all came in two games. Broussard was the work horse for Colorado tallying 156 carries over the course of the season. After putting the Pac-12 on notice, the rest of the conference will be ready for Broussard, but that does not mean they will be able to stop him.

5 – Mohamed Ibrahim (Minnesota): Mohamed Ibrahim has been one of the most consistent running backs in the Big Ten. Over the last three seasons he has averaged more than 5.3 yards per carry each year. Ibrahim help set himself apart in 2020 scoring 15 touchdowns. P.J. Fleck made Ibrahim a focal part of the offense and it help pay off. Ibrahim could have left for the NFL and he would have been drafted but he chose to come back for another season with Minnesota. If all goes according to plan, Ibrahim should finish in the top three all time in Minnesota rushing yards. David Cobb set the record for a single season in 2014 with 1,629. Could Ibrahim reach Cobb?

4 – Sincere McCormick (UTSA): Sincere McCormick is probably the least recognized name on this list for most people but he is easily one of the best running backs in the country. McCormick finished 2020 with 1,467 yards and 11 touchdowns. Five times in 2020 McCormick finished with at least 150 yards. Five of his last six games he rushed for more than 120 yards. Finishing a season strong can help give a player confidence heading into the next season. McCormick will be looking to prove his is one of the nation’s best running backs next year and it will be easy to see why.

3 – Bijan Robinson (Texas): If you are looking for one of the most impressive freshman last year, look no further than Bijan Robinson. Robinson had over 800 yards while averaging 8.2 yards per carry as a freshman. Against Kansas State, Robinson had nine carries for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Robinson played so well it forced Keontay Ingram to transfer. Robinson will be the the most dangerous player on the Texas offense in 2021. As a senior in high school, Robinson averaged an absurd 17.7 yards per carry. New head coach Steve Sarkisian will ensure Robinson gets enough touches each game.

MANHATTAN, KS – DECEMBER 05: Running back Bijan Robinson #5 of the Texas Longhorns runs up field against defensive back Tee Denson #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats, during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on December 5, 2020 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

2 – Kennedy Brooks (Oklahoma): This one might be cheating but I make the rules on who counts and who does not. Brooks sat out the 2020 season because of Covid-19 but is returning to the Sooners next season. In Brooks two seasons starting, he rushed for over 1,000 yards in each season. Those seasons included splitting carries with Trey Sermon. Brooks will not be looking to split carries next fall. Oklahoma will once again have a dynamic offense. With Brooks as the cowbell back, they should once again have a strong rushing attack. Look for Kennedy Brooks to be an All-American by the end of 2021.

1 – Breece Hall (Iowa State): The Big 12 is loaded with running backs in 2021 but none are better than Breece Hall. In 2020, Hall had 1,572 yards with 21 touchdowns. Hall led the nation in rushing yards and was second in rushing touchdowns. When it came to finding the end zone, Hall scored in every game in 2020. Not only will Breece Hall be the best running back in the Big 12 heading into 2021, he is a legitimate Heisman contender. He will look to push Iowa State to the next level and help them capture their first Big 12 title and their first conference title since 1912.

Behind The Curtain: A Way-Too-Early Look At The Top Ten Recruits For 2022

By: Cole “The Curtain Guy” Schuette

Recruiting is the gift that keeps on giving. Is it a tad strange to concern ourselves with the life choices of 17 year olds? Maybe… but recruiting is the life blood of programs and today’s high schoolers are tomorrow’s superstars.

We’re only about a month and a half into 2021, so like the impatient Millennial that I am, I’m already looking ahead to 2022. More specifically, the top ten recruits of the 2022 class according to 247 Sport’s composite rankings. Below I will briefly examine each recruit, which schools they are currently committed to (or who is pursuing them the hardest), and who looks to have the inside track to landing their commitment before the early signing day in 10 months.

Quinn Ewers (#1 PRO QB, #1 in Texas, #1 Overall): Ewers is number one on everyone’s list. The current Buckeye commit is only the sixth recruit to have a perfect 1.0000 composite score on 247’s page and the second QB to receive the honor (Vince Young was the first in the 2002 class). The gunslinger out of Southlake, Texas has a fluid throwing motion combined with a quick release that allows him to deliver balls with accuracy and timing, especially down the field.

Up until this last weekend, I was confident that the hometown Longhorns were going to battle Ohio State up until signing day to try and flip Ewers. With the commitment of fellow five star Maalik Murphy (#2 PRO QB), Texas has seemingly ended their pursuit. This one is far from over though, as other blue bloods such as Alabama and Clemson (no offer yet) will surely try to lure the highest ranked prospect in 2022 away from the Buckeyes.

Walter Nolen (#1 DT, #1 in Tennessee, #2 Overall): The second ranked recruit in the 2022 class is certainly an imposing player. Standing 6’4″ and 300 lbs, Nolen posses a college-ready body, high motor, and physical nature that makes him an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses. His size translates well to an interior defensive line position in the future but his speed and reaction time off the snap could allow him time as an end in the right scheme.

This recruiting battle is just heating up with Nolen releasing his top ten of LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State, Tennessee, Auburn, and USC on February 12th. At this point, I’m not confident that any schools have an inside track for the #1 DT, and with the dead period most likely being extended by the NCAA for the foreseeable future, don’t expect a decision any time soon.

Domani Jackson (#1 CB, #1 in California, #3 Overall): The Mater Dei to USC pipeline keeps on flowing with Jackson choosing to play for the hometown Trojans. While he is still new to the position, his athleticism and ball skills from his receiving days have allowed him to make a smooth transition. As Jackson grows in to the position he could become an elite, lock-down corner at USC. Paired with the likes of Korey Foreman and Raesjon Davis, the Trojans could be looking at some of their best defenses since the Pete Carroll years.

While Domani Jackson and Will Johnson (listed below) had tossed the idea around of being a package deal, rarely does that ever actually pan out. Several schools will continue to push for the #1 CB in the country, including Ohio State, Michigan, Arizona State and Alabama. When it is all said and done, I think Domani remains with the men of Troy.

Travis Hunter (#2 CB, #1 in Georgia, #4 Overall): One of longest committed recruits of the 2022 cycle, the native Georgian has been committed to Florida State for almost a year now. Hunter is a little light in the weight department (currently listed at 165 lbs) but possesses a frame to easily add mass in a collegiate strength program. The two sport athlete at Collins Hill High School has incredible ball skills and is easily able to run with anyone he lines up against with his speed and length.

While Travis has offers from programs such as Clemson, Alabama, and Auburn, a commitment for this long points to great relationships and comfort with the Seminole staff. Barring something catastrophic happening in Tallahassee, I anticipate Hunter staying true to his commitment and signing with FSU in December.

Shemar Stewart (#1 SDE, #1 in Florida, #5 Overall): The first edge rusher makes an appearance at the midpoint of our list. At 6’5″, 240 lbs, Stewart posses long arms, a lean frame, and elite speed that allows him to beat offensive lineman in a multitude of ways. What really jumps out on film is the motor that this kid has. Even when is seemingly out of plays, he is able to run down receivers, running backs, and quarterbacks alike.

In December, the Opa Locka, FL native gave a top ten of Florida, Miami FL, Georgia, LSU, Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Texas A&M, Penn State and Arizona State. The crystal balls currently show LSU in the driver’s seat for this recruitment, but Clemson, Georgia, and Miami FL are all in the car with them.

Denver Harris (#3 CB, #2 in Texas, #6 Overall): Much like the altitude of the city who shares his namesake, Denver Harris’ potential is mile high. The Houston, Texas native has elite size and length that allows him to be one of the best jam defenders in the country. While he shows the ability to turn and run with receivers, his frame and physical nature allow him to come up and make hits as well.

About a year ago, Harris’ had release a top eight that included schools such as Texas, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Miami FL. His intention was to commit after the end of his junior year but Covid seems to have derailed that. I still like the Longhorns as the team to beat here but with programs like Ohio State, Clemson and Notre Dame jumping into the fray, this one could get interesting.

Travis Shaw (#2 DT, #1 in North Carolina, #7 Overall): Some of the most underappreciated players in football are the guys in the trenches. This is not the case for the 2022 class as both of the top two DT in the class crack the top ten. Coming in right behind Walter Nolen is Travis Shaw, the 6’5″ 310 pounder from Greensboro, NC is imposing in his own right. He uses his large frame, quickness and impressive footwork to push offensive lineman into the backfield. He has also shown flashes of potential as an edge rusher although he most certainly projects as an interior lineman at the next level.

The Junior at Grimsley high provided a Top 13 back in September that included schools such as Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Oregon, Clemson, NC A&T, Ohio State, North Carolina and Florida. After the first crystal ball to Clemson has been cast, Shaw had initially tweeted out that if it doesn’t come from him, don’t believe it. However, with three more rolling in on February 17th, it looks to be the Fighting Dabos who have the lead for his services.

Will Johnson (#4 CB, #1 in Michigan, #8 Overall): A Michigan legacy, Will Johnson is exactly what teams look for in an outside corner. Another dual sport athlete who uses those transferable skills to excel in ball hawking and man-to-man coverage. He is a smooth runner and is able to flip his hips with ease. The only concern is if he will outgrow (literally) his current CB projection. Regardless, the number eight recruit in the country has the ability to make an immense impact at the next level.

The Grosse Point product has had several of his questions answered for him. He now knows who Michigan’s CB coach will be (Maurice Linguist), and where his close friend Domani Jackson has chosen to play his collegiate football (USC). There is also the acknowledged consistency and development he would receive at Ohio State. While the NCAA continues to kick the can down the road in terms of official visits, I anticipated this recruitment to play out for a while regardless. As of this point, I think the hometown Wolverines end up with his commitment.

Devon Campbell (#1 OG, #3 in Texas, #9 Overall): The only other player from the offensive side of the ball and third Texan to appear on this list, Campbell is an extremely athletic lineman who utilizes his quickness in a variety of ways. He can be seen decimating second-level defenders on pulls, tunnel screens, and while running downfield on long plays.

LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas are all in the thick of this recruitment. As of Wednesday morning, however, the newest wave of crystal balls in favor of the Longhorns has me thinking that the number one guard in the country will be taking his talents to Austin very soon.

Jaheim Singletary (#5 CB, #2 in Florida, #10 Overall): No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Half of the current top ten recruits in the country are corners. This class is absolutely loaded with secondary players, with 21 out the top 100 players being corners or safeties (not including those players listed as athletes who could very well end up in the back end of the defense).

The 6’1 170 lbs corner bookends our top ten with another Ohio State commit. Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Singletary is from the same hometown as former Buckeye, Shaun Wade. The Ohio State similarities don’t end there there though, as film shows us a long, physical corner who’s playing style mimics 2020 3rd Overall pick, Jeff Okudah. His overall size and aggressive play fit what DC Kerry Coombs and coach Matt Barnes look for in their corners and could be next up for what has been a long line of 1st round NFL DBs to come from Columbus.

Best Stadium Atmospheres in College Football

Before we get too far into these rankings, there is no system or statistics behind why I rank some stadiums higher than others. I am using my own arbitrary way of ranking each stadium. When looking at this, I used a few factors while also looking at when the stadium is full capacity and at their best. We are talking prime time match up with a top 10 team. There is a good chance that College Gameday was there and the fans have been tailgating all day long. With that being said, let’s jump right in!

10- Virginia Tech: The best entrance in college football might be in Blacksburg Virginia. The Virginia Tech Hokies have an iconic entrance coming out to “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. If you have never seen their entrance, I linked it here. When the Hokies bring a big time opponent into town at night, that stadium is rocking. Lane Stadium only holds 65,000 people, but it is an intimidating environment. The last few years have been lackluster because of their recent performances. We can only hope Lane Stadium can come back to one of the scariest atmospheres in college football.

9- Michigan: Holding over 115,000 fans, there is a reason Michigan Stadium is known at The Big House. Michigan is not known for having one of the loudest stadiums in the country. The size of the stadium speaks for itself though. When you have over 100,000 people screaming and cheering along with a storied program like Michigan, you can make intense atmospheres. Michigan has won almost 75% of their games at home all-time. While Michigan may not be the most intimidating team in the country, traveling to the Big House is still a scary thought to teams.

8- Wisconsin: One of the best traditions in college football is Wisconsin’s Jump Around. After the completion of the third quarter, Wisconsin plays “Jump Around” by House of Pain. When games are close, Wisconsin is able to get their fans even more excited for the fourth quarter. Holding over 80,000 people, Camp Randall is not an easy place to win. Since 2004, Wisconsin is 98-14 at home for a win percentage over 87%. Basically, teams rarely go into Camp Randall and win.

7- Oregon: Back in 2007, Autzen Stadium registered 127.2 decibels. For comparison, Arrowhead registered 142.2 for the loudest stadium ever. Autzen Stadium is the smallest on this last with only 54,000 fans in the stands. Legendary reporters Keith Jackson Lee Corso both called it the loudest stadium they have ever been to. Oregon also has a tradition of playing “Shout” by The Isley Brothers after the third quarter. While being a smaller stadium, Autzen Stadium is still as intimidating as they come.

6- Texas A&M: Kyle Field is home of the 12th man. Holding over 102,000 fans, Texas A&M’s home is one of the largest in the country. The Aggies are known for doing yells and cheers during the game to help create an intense atmosphere. While the Aggies have struggled at home against ranked opponents since joining the SEC, Kyle Field remains one of the hardest stadiums to play at in the SEC. A trip to College Station is circled on most team’s calendars as one of their tougher games.

5- Florida: Known as the Swamp, Florida has a great home field advantage. The stadium was built on a shallow sinkhole so the field is below the ground level. By doing this, the noise actually stays in better causing the stadium to be louder. The Swamp has been measured at over 115 decibels to make it one of the loudest stadiums in the country. From 1979 to 2011, Florida sold out every home game.

4- Ohio State: Known as The Horseshoe, Ohio Stadium has one of the most iconic looks in all of sports. Ohio State has not lost a home game since 2017 when they played Oklahoma. Since 2010, they only have five losses at home. They boast one of the best win percentages at home since the year 2000. Holding over 102,000 people in the stands, Ohio Stadium is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. Former Iowa Coach, Chuck Long, actually suggested team be penalized for having crowds that are too loud after a game at Ohio State.

3- Clemson: Memorial Stadium was given the nickname “Death Valley” for a good reason. Clemson is 319-101-6 at Memorial Stadium all-time. The Tigers have an iconic entrance where they run down the hill on the east side of the stadium. The players also touch Howard’s rock prior to each game. With all of these traditions, they team helps give the fans extra juice prior to the game. For college football fans, a game at Clemson should be on the bucket list.

2- LSU: When Bear Bryant calls your stadium the worst play to play, you make sure you are listening. LSU’s Tiger Stadium is also referred to as Death Valley. Numerous players and coaches have referred to it as the best atmosphere in the country. A night game at LSU is one of the most feared games on a team’s schedule. With the capacity being over 102,000 spectators, LSU fans are as passionate as they come. Tailgating is a lifestyle in Baton Rouge to help prepare them for the game.

1- Penn State: This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The most iconic atmosphere in all of college football is the White Out at Penn State. Joe Paterno started the famous white out in 2004 when Purdue came to town. The tradition took off after upsetting Ohio State in 2005 and has been a year tradition ever since. The stadium is a sea of white shirts with 106,000 people on their feet and jumping the entire game. In 2019, it was so loud at the beginning of the game where Michigan had to take a timeout prior to their first snap. For college football fans, it is worth making the trip to State College for this game.

Group of 5 Teams with the Best Chance of Making a New Years Six Game

Is it ever too early to predict which group of five team has the best chance to receive the New Years Six? Probably, but do we care? No. Today we are going to look at the five teams with the best chance to receive the bid. When making this list, I based it on who was returning and potential arrivals or departures. With that said, let’s jump right in!

  1. Cincinnati – This should be the easiest one. We just did our preview for Cincinnati the other day. Luke Fickell returns a strong core of players including starting quarterback Desmond Ridder. Cincinnati’s non conference schedule includes games against Notre Dame and Indiana. Cincinnati should be the most talented team in the American Athletic Conference in 2021. The Bearcats ranked 8th in points allowed last season and should rank in the top 10 again next season. Even if Cincinnati loses a game, they should still be in great position to make another appearance in a New Year Six bowl game.
  2. Louisiana – Billy Napier returns as head coach for Louisiana after going 10-1 in 2020. Their only loss came on the road to Coastal Carolina by three points. Both Louisiana and Coastal Carolina are expected to be strong contenders in 2021. With games against Liberty and Texas, Louisiana will have their fair share of opportunities to impress the voters on why they are a top 25 team and are deserving of the bid. Last season Louisiana averaged over 33 points per game. Do not be surprised if that number rises next season.
  3. Coastal Carolina – Grayson McCall was one of the best quarterbacks in 2020 and should continue to get better. McCall completed over 68% of his passes and only threw three interceptions. The main issue for Coastal Carolina is they lack games to help build a resume. Their non conference games consist of Kansas, Buffalo and The Citadel. Even if Coastal Carolina goes undefeated, would they get passed over by a team with one loss but better wins? It is a legitimate concern. Head coach Jamey Chadwell is in good position to reach double digit wins next year.
  4. San Jose State – One team that received little attention during the 2020 season was San Jose State. They went 7-1 with their lone loss coming in the Arizona Bowl against Ball State. Journeyman quarterback Nick Starkel started all eight games for the Spartans and will be returning in 2021. Starkel threw 17 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. The Spartans defense was their bread and butter. They allowed less than 20 points per game. San Jose State plays USC early in the year. If they can upset the Trojans, they could have the early track to the New Year Six bowl bid.
  5. UCF – With the recent news of Gus Malzahn taking the UCF job, I believe UCF will have a strong season in 2021. There are rumors that quarterback Dillon Gabriel could be looking for a new home which would move them off of this list. While he is still on the roster, UCF remains in the top 5. Wide receiver Jaylon Robinson returns after having over 900 yards in his sophomore season. Malzahn’s offense succeeds when he has a strong rushing attack. UCF loses their top two rushers from 2020. Malzahn will need to find his cowbell back in order to lead UCF back to another New Year Six bowl game.

Honorable Mention: Ball State, Appalachian State, SMU, Buffalo

Way Too Early Preview: #9 Cincinnati

Luke Fickell is heading into his fifth season as the Cincinnati Bearcats head coach, and his expectations are high. Fickell has lost a total of six games in the last three seasons and his team has continued to improve. Cincinnati has been recruiting at a high level and out recruited many power five schools. Defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman left for Notre Dame which could be the biggest loss for Cincinnati this offseason. Freeman was a major key to the Bearcat’s success on defense and was an outstanding recruiter. Let’s jump into our season preview!

Sept 4, Miami (OH) – QB Desmond Ridder is returning to lead the Bearcat offense once again. He is a proven winner and one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Ridder utilized his legs more last season rushing for 12 touchdowns. He should help Cincinnati continue to have success in 2021. Miami (OH) won the the MAC in 2020 but Cincinnati should be better. The Redhawks could put up a fight against Cincinnati early, but in the end the Bearcats will come out on top. Prediction: 38-17 Cincinnati

Sept 11, Murray State – After a potential challenge with Miami (OH), Cincinnati should have an easy game with Murray State. Cincinnati returns a large portion of their offense and this is a great game to ensure everyone is clicking. RB Jerome Ford will start this season after splitting carries last season. A game against Murray State should help the offensive line grow their chemistry after losing tackle James Hudson to the NFL. Overall, this should be an easy game for the Bearcats. Prediction: 44-10 Cincinnati

Sept 18, @ Indiana: Cincinnati will travel to Bloomington to take on Indiana early in the season. Depending how the AP poll and Coaches Poll vote, this could be a top 15 match up early in the season. If you read the Indiana preview, QB Micheal Penix will cause issues for the Cincinnati defense. The defense returns numerous all conference players who will help prevent Indiana from scoring. DL Malik Vann is looking to bounce back after only having 6.5 tackles for loss in 2020. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, the Hoosiers will be too much. Prediction: 23-21 Indiana

Oct 2, @ Notre Dame: Even with Indiana on the schedule, the Notre Dame game will be the most hyped game on Cincinnati’s schedule. Marcus Freeman will be on the other sideline so there is extra motivation for Cincinnati. The Bearcats return most of the receivers and tight ends which is a massive help for Ridder. While Cincinnati is not a high powered offense, having existing chemistry will help their chances against a strong Notre Dame team. Defensive End Myjai Sanders will be a key player in this game because of his ability to rush the passer. He had 10.5 sacks in 2020 and will look to repeat that performance in 2021. Cincinnati is a not a team to sleep on, and Notre Dame is going to be ready. I believe Cincinnati will pull the upset. Prediction: 27-21 Cincinnati

Creator: Michael Hickey | Credit: Getty Images

TBD, SMU – In 2020, SMU had another strong season under head coach Sonny Dykes. The Mustangs even rose to be ranked number 16 in the country. That all changed when they played Cincinnati. The Bearcats beat them 42-13 and unfortunately for SMU, I expect to see a similar result in 2021. The Bearcats return too much on both sides of the ball for SMU to win this game. Even though SMU does return QB Shane Buechele, Cincinnati has had a strong defense under Luke Fickell. 12 different players registered a sack on defense last year proving they have great depth to keep their legs fresh when pressuring the quarterback. Prediction: 33-21 Cincinnati

TBD, Temple – Ah yes, my alma mater. Temple is in a rough spot right now. Following the Matt Rhule and Geoff Collins era, the program has taken a step back. The talent in Temple’s program is not where it was a few years ago. They have a few interesting options at quarterback with Re-al Mitchell and former Georgia quarterback, Dwan Mathis. This should be an overall easy game for Cincinnati. Prediction: 44-17 Cincinnati

TBD, Tulsa – In conference play, Tulsa went 6-0 last season. They gave Cincinnati all they could handle in the AAC Conference Championship game. Cincinnati has the edge in this game because Tulsa’s offense struggled throughout the 2020 season. Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith has entered the NFL draft after starting for four seasons. Replacing the amount of experience Smith had is never easy. Tulsa’s offense ranked 74th in scoring in 2020 which is why we are going with the Bearcats here. Prediction: 35-20 Cincinnati

TBD, UCF – On the day I am writing this, Randy Shannon is still the interim head coach for UCF. It is believe UCF with hire a new full time coach before spring practices. Until then we are just guessing what the UCF football team will look like this fall. We do know a few things for certain. One of those being Dillon Gabriel will start at quarterback. Gabriel is one of the best quarterbacks in the country throwing for 32 touchdowns and only four interceptions in his sophomore season. One of his worst games came against Cincinnati and he still threw three touchdowns. With the uncertainty at head coach, it is hard to pick them to upset Cincinnati but I do believe this will be Cincinnati’s toughest conference game this fall. Prediction 38-33 Cincinnati

TBD, @ ECU – ECU was horrendous in 2020. It is actually surprising they won three games when you look at how their statistics measure up. ECU did manage to put up points consistently, but ranking 103rd in points allowed did not give them many chances in games. Cincinnati overpowered ECU gained over 650 total yards in 2020. As I have continued to state, the core nucleus of the Bearcats team is returning. A reasonable expectation is they will repeat the same results against some teams. ECU had success running the ball against Cincinnati rushing for over 200 yards, but that obviously was not enough. It will not be next year either. Prediction: 49-17 Cincinnati

TBD, @ Navy – Navy has been up and down over the last four seasons. Twice they have won only three games. They also have an 11 win season and a seven win season during that stretch. Trying to predict which team we will see in 2021 is the hardest part. The triple option is tough to consistently stop because the defense has to stick to their assignments and not go off script. Luckily for Luke Fickell, his defense is great at assignment football. Fickell is 1-1 against Navy in his tenure with one of the games coming against the three win Navy team in 2018. Due to the imbalanced win totals the last few years, sticking with the consistent team feels like the right move. Prediction: 31-21 Cincinnati

TBD, @ Tulane – Willie Fritz has taken Tulane to three straight bowl games for the first time in the program’s history. Tulane has seen improvements to a respectable team. Tulane averaged 34.7 points per game in 2020, good for 22nd in the country. They also finished fifth in the country in total rushing attempts. Cincinnati has an incredibly strong run defense that will be up for the task when this game arrives. The problem for Tulane is if they get down early, they rely heavily on the run. The passing game struggles so they need to keep it close to ensure they can keep running the ball. Prediction: 36-19 Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH – NOVEMBER 03: Head Coach Luke Fickell of the Cincinnati Bearcats takes the team onto the field before the game against the Navy Midshipmen at Nippert Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

TBD, @ USF – In Jeff Scott’s first season as head coach of USF, he struggled to keep games close. There are a multitude of reasons behind why he struggled. First, the program was not in a good place when he entered. Second, he did not have spring practice to work with his players and start building a foundation. Scott’s second year will be better than his first, but he is a few years away from competing with Cincinnati. Desmond Ridder and the rest of his team are too talented to lose to USF. Bearcats roll the Bulls. Prediction: 34-13 Cincinnati

Analysis: Overall we have Cincinnati at 11-1 including a win over Notre Dame. That is a personal bold prediction of mine and I am sure it will be an unpopular one. Cincinnati at 11-1 makes the conference championship game and is the favorite to once again win the American Athletic Conference. 11-1 would not be good enough to be considered for the College Football Playoff. Cincinnati would be in line for another New Year Six bowl bid and Luke Fickell would remain the hottest name in coaching.

The Redshirt Round Table

Welcome to the first edition of the Redshirt Round Robin! Jake, Cole, and Sean are here to give their opinions on college football which you will surely hate. Each round-robin they will cover five questions based around college football. You are welcome to submit your own questions that you would like to have answered. Questions could be anything from recruiting, hypothetical situations, predictions, or analysis questions. Let the arguments begin!

It is February 2021, tell me who is making the playoffs, and who is your National Champion?


Jake – We decided to waste no time, did we? Next year is interesting because Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State are all replacing quarterbacks. They will still all be great teams, but that is a pretty major setback. I am going to start with the easy one, Alabama. They could have lost all 22 starters and I would still pick them. I will not pick against Saban. Next, Oklahoma. They return so much talent on both sides of the ball. With the Big 12 only having one true competitor next year, they could lose to Iowa State again and still get in. No onto Georgia. I love what they are bringing back. I think J.T. Daniels could be the best quarterback in college football next year. Lastly, homer pick alert! Yes, I am taking Ohio State. Justin Fields is off to the NFL but they have recruited well enough to have enough talent on the roster to win the Big 10 next season and finish 11-1 or 12-0. I think 2021 is where Georgia gets over the hump. J.T. Daniels leads the Bulldogs to a National Title. 1. Alabama 2. Oklahoma 3. Georgia 4. Ohio State


Cole – Oh boy, coming out the gates hot.. I hate to break it to everyone but until the Playoff is expanded (do it you cowards), you are going to see the same handful of teams competing for the National Championship at the end of every season. 2021 Will be no different, I anticipate the four teams will be 1. Alabama, 2.Oklahoma, 3. Ohio State, and 4. Clemson. At this point, returning players and the end of the 2020 season has me picking Sooners vs Tide for the Title. With the Sooners finally breaking through, taking home their first title since 2000. ( I touch more on the Sooners below)


Sean – How can you pick against Nick Saban? I wanted to do it, I really tried, but they are in a class of their own when it comes to coaching and recruiting and until further notice.. you can pencil them in to the College Football Playoffs. As my colleagues stated above, we are going to see the same handful of team in this year’s CFP as the last few years, so Ohio State, and Oklahoma are the obvious choices and I will go chalk with my top 3. But I am a gambler at heart and I like to gamble on the best returning starting Quarterback in the country.. No not Spencer Rattler… or JT Daniels… give me Sam Howell and the North Carolina Tar Heels to win the ACC and make their first appearance in the CFP. I have the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide in a rematch for the 2021 National Title and Ryan Day winning his first National Championship.

Who is the dark horse team you think could make a run at the College Football Playoffs in 2021?


Jake – Would you call USC a dark horse? Someone has to win the Pac-12. Oregon has a pretty big question at quarterback. I am not sold on Anthony Brown taking Oregon to the playoffs. USC has the talent to run through the Pac-12 but they struggle to win convincingly to make us believe in them. Kedon Slovis is probably the best quarterback in the conference. Slovis has solid weapons in Bru McCoy, Drake London, and Tyler Vaughns. If they can get in a groove, they should win the Pac-12. The question is if they stumble once or twice on the way.

Cole – I realize that I included Clemson in my four teams to make it to the playoff and until someone can unseat the current six-in-a-row champion, that is a pretty safe bet to make for the ACC. However, I believe the that the North Carolina Tar Heels could be the team that dethrones the Tigers. With Sam Howell returning and a favorable 2021 schedule that sees UNC only play Florida State and NC State out the Atlantic division, they could easily be 11-1 headed into the conference championship game. A win there would propel them to their first ever CFP appearance.


Sean – Well if you read my answer above you know that I am also going with North Carolina. Say what you want about Mack Brown, he has his team on the right track after a less than inspiring run by Larry Fedora. As I said before, Sam Howell could be the best returning starting Quarterback in the country. Looking at the schedule, they have two real tests before the ACC championship; Miami at Home and then a bye week before traveling to South Bend to face off against Notre Dame. Even if they lose one of the two, a win over Clemson in the ACC title game would more than likely punch their ticket to the CFP.

You are a five star player with an offer to every school in the country, where are you taking your visits, and where are you committing? One rule, you cannot go to your favorite team.


Jake – First, I have very little athletic ability. I played baseball growing up and would trip over my own feet running to first base. We’ll pretend I woke up as Bo Jackson one morning and suddenly I am an elite running back. Well, Ohio State is out. First I am heading to Alabama to visit, because I obviously want to go to the NFL. Next take me to Georgia, they put running backs in the NFL yearly and that interests me. I loved Reggie Bush growing up and southern California sounds like a great place to spend three or four years. Those would be my top three so now I have two free visits to use. Remember that Will Smith song “Miami”? Yeah, we are visiting the Hurricanes too. Lastly, take me out to Oregon. I want to see Autzen Stadium and hear how loud that place gets for a big game. Ultimately, I think am going to Georgia. They produce great running backs and while I may split carries, I trust I will make it to the next level.


Cole – I’d like to think that if I had hit my major growth spurt when I was 13 years old instead of 17… I could have played safety in high school (I was 5’4″ until I was a junior… it was not a good time). That being said, I would have narrowed my list down to the schools that best develop secondary players. With the Buckeyes not being an option, my official visits would focus mainly on Florida, Alabama, and LSU. The other two would be Florida State and Arizona State… for obvious reasons. In the end, I believe I would end up committing to Corey Raymond and the Tigers. The opportunity to be coached by one of the best secondary coaches in the country coupled with playing in Death Valley at night would be too much to overcome.


Sean – This one is easy for me. I want to visit schools with the most fun game day crowds in the country and commit to a school that I can call home after my playing days are done. I would visit Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, and Arizona State. But at the end of the day I would just want to beat Bama one time in four years and never buy a drink again.. I am taking my fictional talents to Auburn. War Eagle.

What team or player do you think takes a step forward in 2021? What team or player do you think takes a step back?


Jake – Jayden Daniels out of Arizona State is going to be a national name by the end of the season. If he did not have a shortened season, I think he would have accomplished that in 2020. He is a talented quarterback who is going to get the chance to shine next year. For taking a step back, I am looking at the Florida Gators. The way they played in the bowl game against Oklahoma was unappealing and Dan Mullen’s demeanor did not help. There is a really good chance I could be wrong here because I think Emory Jones is going to be a good quarterback. The way the Cotton Bowl played out made me think Florida could be in trouble next year.


Cole – As I stated above, I think the Sooners can win the whole damn thing come January 2022. While a huge part of that has to do with returning key pieces to a total defense that ranked 29th in 2020 (15th in SP+), I believe Spencer Rattler’s anticipated ascension to Heisman caliber payer will be what ultimately pushes Oklahoma over the top. In now his third year in the program, Rattler will be the center point of an offense that puts up a lot of points. Call it lazy writing, call it the obvious pick, call it whatever you would like but I’m in agreeance with Jake on this one. Jones is an extremely talented quarterback and Clemson transfer Demarkcus Bowman could provide a lot of answers for the run game. However, the loss of Kyle Pitts, Trevon Grimes, and Kadarius Toney is a lot to ask for any team. Do I think the Gators are going to fall completely off the map and go 6-6 in 2021? Absolutely not, but I think a return the SEC Championship isn’t a foregone conclusion.


Sean – I can’t believe I am putting this in writing but.. I am going to take Ole Miss. Matt Coral and Lane Kiffin are an exciting combination. They travel to Tuscaloosa, but they get Auburn and A&M at home. If the stars align perfectly they could contend for a New Years Six appearance. Unfortunately, I think Cincinnati takes a step back simply because of their schedule. They have Indiana and Notre Dame on the road, with the added expectations coming off two really good season’s under Luke Fickell and Desmond Ridder. I think they could be in for a little bit of a let down year.

When the Heisman Trophy ceremony happens this fall, who do you think is invited? Who takes home the Heisman Trophy?


Jake – Spencer Rattler, J.T. Daniels, Kedon Slovis, Breece Hall, and D’Eriq King are getting invites with Daniels taking home the hardware. Do I have a reason why I picked these players? No. I went with my gut it will for sure be wrong.


Cole – Spencer Rattler, Chris Olave, Sam Howell, Bijan Robinson, and Kedon Slovis are my picks to be sitting in New York (barring COVID taking any more fun from us) for the 2021 Heisman Ceremony. All of these players I picked for the sole reason that they are going to be focal points of their respective offenses and as a result are going to put up gaudy numbers. When all the votes are counted, give me Spencer Rattler hoisting the stiff-arm statue, becoming the third Oklahoma quarterback since 2017 to do so.


Sean – Sam Howell, Spencer Rattler, Bryce Young. I have actually thought about this for quite awhile now, for gambling reasons, and the only players you can really count on to win the Heisman are Quarterbacks (obviously), who play on teams that are going to be in the CFP hunt late in the year, and have national recognition. Spencer Rattler should be the favorite based off the offense they run and the players they bring back. Sam Howell gained a lot of notoriety after last season and sky rocketed up NFL draft charts. But I think about who would be the headline story on your favorite sports highlight show every Saturday night? Bryce Young. I flash back to Tua and Mac Jones being mentioned in every Heisman conversation for the last 2 years. I think Bama rolls through the regular season once again and Young takes home the hardware.

We’ll check back on these predictions in January 2022 to see how epically, hilariously wrong we were.

Your Favorite Team as Bar Food

You walk into a bar on a Saturday around 11:30 AM. You sit down and are getting ready to watch a full slate of college football. You make sure you get there before the noon games kick off so you have time to order food and beer, the essentials in life. Since you know you will be here for awhile, you are planning to eat throughout the day. After the waitress brings you back your Pabst Blue Ribbon, it is time to order your food. You start comparing the items on the menu to food at the bar. Let’s see how the food and the teams compare.

Wings (Alabama) – Wings are the best item on the menu and they are versatile. You want something spicy, you have wings. You want something a little sweeter like a honey barbecue sauce, you still have wings! Does garlic Parmesan interest you? We still have wings. Wings are just like Alabama. The Crimson Tide can beat you in a high scoring game with their offense, they can suffocate you with their defense, they are the do everything team. Wings are perfect for everyone and Alabama is the near perfect football team.

Mac and Cheese (Wisconsin) – How could this be anyone else? The land of cheese is Wisconsin and it is wonderful. Mac and cheese is a classic food. It helps fill you up with carbs and everyone loves to eat it when they are lazy. It does not matter if it is instant mac and cheese or homemade, they are all wonderful. Wisconsin is full of nice people. They play jump around after the third quarter when they are home and they have beefy offensive linemen.

Edit: Sorry Wisconsin. I should have put cheese curds.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates following a touchdown drive against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during the fourth quarter of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 30, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Nachos (Oklahoma) – Nachos are great bar food. Everyone loves the person who gets a plate of nachos for the table. You always have your options between adding chicken, beef, guacamole, and plenty of other toppings. It is really hard to mess up nachos because the largest portion is the tortilla chips. The problem with sharing nachos is you are usually hungry afterwards. They get you close to being full, but not the whole way there. That is the case with Oklahoma. There is no denying they are one of the best teams in the country. Lincoln Riley is a phenomenal coach who has developed some of the best quarterbacks. They make the Big 12 look easy, but they fall short every year in the playoffs. The fans are ready for this plate of nachos to fulfill what they are hungriest for.

Onion Rings (Clemson) – Onion rings are never bad and if you find the right bar, they are fantastic. You need the ones where the onion does not come out with your first bite. A good onion ring keeps the onion in the breading the entire time you are eating it. Onion rings also need to be battered, not breaded. When comparing to Clemson, the Tigers have not been bad under Dabo Swinney. Clemson has made a bowl game each year under him and won two National Championships. The Tigers are a battered onion ring that gets better with each bite.

Mozzarella Sticks (Georgia) – Mozzarella sticks are usually one of the most popular items at the table when the waitress brings them out. The biggest issue is when there is only five mozzarella sticks and four people. How do you divide up the last one? Why do they always go away so fast? Why do they always cost so much? Georgia fits perfectly here. As soon as they show up, they become a favorite. Once they are out of sight, no one wants anything to do with Georgia. Georgia also knows what it feels like to be the fifth team in a four team playoff.

Loaded Fries (Ohio State) – When you order loaded fries, they are always a hit with the table. You have cheese, bacon, green onions, and sour cream. It has everything you need in a snack before the big meal. You do not always need crispy fries because you have the extra toppings to help get you the flavors you want. The issue is when you start running out of those toppings. The cheese starts falling off fries and now you have cold soggy fries. Ohio State is great in their appearance. Everything you could truly want in a football team. They recruit well, have good coaches, and produce NFL talent. The issue is when you start losing too much to the NFL and they are not ready for the next set of guys to take over. You saw that this year with Ohio State’s secondary. The cheese fell off the fries and they were not the same.

Deviled Eggs (Tennessee) – If I go to a bar, and you order deviled eggs, I am leaving. I will probably watch you eat the deviled eggs from another table, but I am not sitting next to you. Deviled eggs are for your grandma’s Memorial Day weekend cookout. Look, I loved deviled eggs, but there is a time and a place. A bar watching football is not the time or place. Tennessee has been a train wreck for the last decade or so. You cannot look away and you find yourself watching there games for no apparent reason. Why am I watching Tennessee vs South Carolina? I am not sure, but I need to see how it ends.

Popcorn (UCF) – When someone orders popcorn to the table, do you question why you invited them? Popcorn is great when you are watching a movie. I love making a bag of popcorn and watching a movie on my couch, but I would never waste money buying popcorn at a bar. If I want something to snack on, there are plenty of other options on this list. Who invited UCF into the national conversation and why have they not gone away? UCF claims a national title from a few years ago yet we still hear their fans yelling how they could win the ACC every year. Just like that friend who ordered popcorn, next time do not invite them back.

Boneless Wings (LSU) – Think of traditional wings, except you took the short cut. I personally like boneless wings, but I am a critic of them. They taste good and you avoid the mess, but a perfect wing cannot be compared to a boneless wing. Boneless wings are large chicken nuggets. They are good at times but they are not for every occasion. LSU has spurts where they are great and then they struggle to win eight or nine games. The inconsistency of the last two decades has led LSU here. There is no denying they have been great at times, but other moments you wonder how they manage to win games.

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Ed Orgeron of the LSU Tigers looks on as his team takes on the Mississippi State Bulldogs during a NCAA football game at Tiger Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Corn dog (Michigan) – How many bars actually serve corn dogs? If they do, I am sure the entire bar is quirky and makes no sense. Corn dogs are for the county fair, not sitting at your local dive bar with a beer in your hand. If you are sitting next to me giving your opinion on a football game while holding a corn dog, I will never be able to take you serious. Now we need to take a look at Jim Harbaugh. How much do I need to describe him? This is the man who had a sleep over with a high school kicker. The man who went shirtless while wearing khakis at a camp. Tell me he would not eat a corn dog at a bar.

Pizza (Texas) – Bar pizza is not everyone’s favorite kind of pizza. It is usually thin crust and very crispy. Bar pizza is never bad but there are times when it is just okay. If the cheese is not evenly distributed or it is not left in the oven long enough the pizza can be subpar. One or two misses and the pizza goes from amazing to average. Charlie Strong and Tom Herman are evidence of this. While neither was really that bad, misses made the program worse. Both coaches failed to win the Big 12 and watched as Oklahoma made the College Football Playoffs. They are hoping to spread the cheese evenly and get a nice crunchy crust when putting the pizza in the oven this time.

Tequila shots (USC) – Have you ever done a tequila shot and wondered why you did that? Well your friend just ordered another round and it is not even noon. You know this is a bad decision, but you go along with it anyways because he is paying so it does not cost you any money. The tequila does not taste good but you did not throw up either so you are doing okay. This is the endless cycle of USC football. All of the fans wanted Clay Helton gone. He was out the door and then the administration brought him back. Helton proceeds to go 5-1 and sign the top player in the 2021 class. Here we are, back in the cycle where the fans will believe in Helton for a year or two and then be ready for him to be fired again.

Fried Pickles (Auburn) – The right fried pickles are incredible. If you mess them up, they are disgusting. Personally, I like the fried pickle chips much more than the spears. I like to be able to eat the chips in one bite and they need to be the right level of crunchy. If the pickles are done correctly, they are one of the best appetizers on the menu. The problem is if you have not been to that bar before. Do you trust they are done the way you like? Auburn has a history of being unknown. From the Kick 6, the Prayer at Jordan-Hare and getting lucky with Cam Newton. Auburn has won when it counted, but they have also flopped at times. Two years after Gene Chizik won his National Championship he only won 3 games.

AUBURN, ALABAMA – NOVEMBER 30: Bo Nix #10 of the Auburn Tigers reacts as he rushes for a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Soft Pretzel (Penn State) – Let me preface my reasoning with this, I enjoy soft pretzels and have ordered them at a bar before. That being said, soft pretzels have an antique and traditional feeling about them. Soft pretzels are the same, and do not change over the years. They have the same taste, but that is what makes them great to some people and awful to others. Looking at Penn State it is easy to see why they are a soft pretzel. Their uniforms have remained nearly the same for the last 75 years. They have a classical look. They had the same coach for most of that stretch too. Soft pretzels have a historic feel to them and so does Penn State.

Potato Skins (Miami) – Have you ever seen someone try to dress up potato skins to pretend they are more than just potatoes? They could come served in a fancy way or they load the cheese on with green onions to give a nice appearance. In reality you are ready to burn your mouth because the potatoes are still scorching hot on the inside. We have seen this with Miami. When you look at the Hurricanes, they started the trend with the turnover chain and now everyone has their own version of it. They do not shy away from the glitz and glamour. Miami also had the whole Nevin Shaprio scandal, but we are not going to dive into that.

Corn on the cob (Iowa) – Iowa corn is better than Nebraska corn. There, I said it.

Predicting New Coaches Win Totals for 2021

Since we just looked at coaches who may be on the hot seat I thought we should look at realistic expectations for the new coaches for the 2021 season. This post is going to focus on the coaches who took power five coaching jobs. Sorry Marshall, I love you guys but not today. I know we all really want to dive into Tennessee first but that will have to wait. For the expectations, we are going to give a conservative and a stretch goal for them to reach this season. Let’s start in alphabetical order and jump right in!

Auburn: Gus Malzahn is out at Auburn after an up and down tenure as the head coach. The Tigers bring in former Boise State coach Bryan Harsin who saw success in Boise. Auburn is a very interesting case because there is talent on the team. Malzahn struggled to develop talent and would lose games he should not have. Auburn has games on the road at Penn State, LSU, and Texas A&M next year. None of those games are going to be easy. He also has home games against Georgia and Alabama. While Harsin could see success early in the year, the SEC is a different monster than what he is used to. I do not see Auburn beating Alabama or Georgia. Games such as Ole Miss and Arkansas could cause some issues too. The development of QB Bo Nix is going to be vital for Auburn to succeed and be competitive in Harsin’s first season. Harsin will rely on RB Tank Bigsby to help carry the load. Bigsby averaged 6.0 yards per carry as a freshman and should be the focal point of the offense in 2021. I have the high for Auburn at 9-3 with the low at 6-6. If Auburn can pull an upset or two, it’s a successful season.

Illinois: Lovie Smith shaved the beard and he got fired. I would like to think that is the move that got him fired. While Smith was showing slow improvements, it was not enough for him to keep his job. His team took a step back in 2020 after making a bowl game in 2019 and the administration thought it was time for a change. Illinois made a smart hire by getting Bret Bielema. Heading into 2021, Illinois might be the least talented team in the Big 10. The only games that appear Illinois may have a chance in are Rutgers, @ Purdue, Charlotte, UTSA, and maybe Nebraska. It would not be shocking if they went winless in their conference games next season with most of their opponents getting better. Bielema returns an experienced quarterback in Brandon Peters who should help alleviate some of the issues for the offense. For a high, I have Illinois at 4-8 followed by a low of 2-10. I think they beat both Charlotte and UTSA which means it all comes down to the conference games. Purdue is their best chance to avoid going winless from my perspective.

PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 02: Head coach Bret Bielema of the Wisconsin Badgers talks with a line judge in the second quarter as the Badgers take on the Oregon Ducks at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

South Carolina: Many thought Will Muschamp was a bad hire for South Carolina and sure enough it did not work out. Shane Beamer is an interesting hire with a lot of upside potential. He is an offensive minded coach who worked under Lincoln Riley to help produce some of the best offenses of the last decade. From a talent perspective, South Carolina is a not in a great spot. Muschamp never finished higher than 7th in SEC recruiting. Beamer is going to need time to bring talent back into the program and have a chance to compete in the SEC East. Out of conference games against ECU, Troy, and Eastern Illinois should provide three wins. Vanderbilt and Tennessee will both be down so South Carolina has a fair chance in those games. Missouri, Kentucky, and Auburn should all be better so it would take an upset to beat any of them. Finally we have Florida, Georgia, and Clemson, which are just unrealistic. For my high, I have South Carolina at 7-5. I think Beamer could bring an exciting offense to the SEC and put up enough points to upset one or two teams. For the low, I have them at 4-8. If the bad gets worse, they might split the games between Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Tennessee: Oh boy, it is time for another Tennessee coach to take over after being a turnstile for the last decade. Josh Heupel takes over after coaching at UCF for the last few years. Many thought this was an underwhelming hire, myself included. No matter what, this is the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers for the next few years. Tennessee has seen a mass exodus from the program since Jeremy Pruitt was fired. Players such as RB Eric Gray, OL Wanya Morris, LB Henry To’o To’o, LB Quavaris Crouch, and DB Key Lawrence have transferred out of the program leaving a lack of talent on the team. Next year is not the year to judge Josh Heupel on. Being hired this late puts him behind the eight ball and most should expect him to struggle. Tennessee’s out of conference games include Pitt, Bowling Green, South Alabama, and Tennessee Tech. Along with their traditional rivalry game against Alabama, Tennessee also faces Ole Miss from the SEC West. Tennessee will struggle next year. For the high, I have Tennessee at 5-7, and that feels too high to me. This would include them beating Pitt and Vanderbilt and I am not confident in that happening. For the low, I have them at 3-9. Tennessee should not lose to any group of five schools, but we have seen it happen before.

Texas: The Tom Herman experiment failed. He was absolutely the right hire at the time, but eventually he wore out his welcome and it was time to move on from him. In steps Steve Sarkisian. The former USC and Washington head coach takes over as the Longhorns head coach. Overall, Texas is in a good position. Sarkisian walks into a situation where he has a good amount of talent on the roster including one of the best young running backs in Bijan Robinson. Finding the quarterback to take over for Sam Ehlinger will be the major key for 2021. Casey Thompson and Hudson Card will battle it out for Ehlinger’s successor. Sarkisian is known for his offensive play calling and creativity so Texas fans should expect a strong offensive presence in 2021. Texas defense has been a liability over the past few year so Sarkisian will need to see improvement from the defense to have confidence heading into 2022. Texas opens the season with a tricky game against Billy Napier and Louisiana. If they can get past Napier’s team, it should be smooth sailing until the Oklahoma match up. On the high end, Texas could go 10-2. Sarkisian has the right pieces in place and built a strong coaching staff. Should the quarterback play be lack luster or Robinson fail to progress in year two, Texas could stumble to a 7-5 season. As I mentioned earlier, the defense improving will be a major key for 2021.

Creator: Tom Pennington, Tom Pennington | Credit: Getty Images

Vanderbilt: When looking at all the power five jobs in the country, Vanderbilt is one of the hardest places to win. Vanderbilt holds themselves to higher academic standards which makes it harder to recruit. Along with playing in the SEC East, making a bowl game is challenging. Defensive Coordinator Clark Lea leaves Notre Dame to take over for Derek Mason. Notre Dame’s scoring defense ranked 14th in the country allowing 19.7 points per game. The problem for Vanderbilt is their ability to score. In 2020, Vanderbilt ranked 125th out of 127 team in scoring in 2020. QB Ken Seals started as a freshman but only averaged 6.7 yards per attempt which ranked 94th in the country. Seals will need to develop as a passer to put his team in more opportunities to score. Vanderbilt hired David Raih who was most recently a wide receiver coach for the Arizona Cardinals before being released. Raih has very little experience calling plays but will need to prove he is capable this year in order to have success. On the high end, Vanderbilt could win four games. Colorado State, ETSU, UConn, and Tennessee are the games they are most likely to win. Stanford and Mississippi State are interesting games that could go Vanderbilt’s way if they get hot. On the low end, Vanderbilt is looking at 2-10. UConn and ETSU are the only locks right now, and they could lose every game other than those two.