2021 Coaching Hot Seat

We have yet to begin spring practice, but there are few coaches who may feel their seats warming up already. Last season, there was speculation some coaches may not be fired because schools would not have the money to pay buyouts. We still saw a fair amount of coaching turnover with schools such as Texas, South Carolina, Illinois, and Arizona fire their coaches and pay buyouts (Tennessee fired Jeremy Pruitt with cause so they do not have to pay his buyout). Who are some coaches could be on the chopping block next year? Let’s take a look!

Syracuse: After the 2018 season, many thought Dino Babers would take a bigger job. He was a hot candidate because he went 10-3 and helped Syracuse finished ranked for the first time since 2001. Ultimately, the 2018 season has proved to be an anomaly. In Babers’ four other seasons, he is a combined 14-33 including 1-10 last season. Syracuse will be expecting Babers to turn it around in a big way if he wants to keep his job after the 2021 season. Heat Check: 9

Virginia Tech: Justin Fuente has been the coach at Virginia Tech for five seasons and the Hokies appear to get worse each year under him. In Fuente’s five seasons, two have finished with losing records, including the most recent season. Virginia Tech is getting worse each year and they are running out of patience with Fuente. Under Frank Beamer, the Hokies were consistent contenders in the Big East and ACC but now they are struggling to be relevant. Heat Check: 8

USC: Yes, we are going to continue doing this every year with Clay Helton. He did go 5-1 last year but skeptics view his tenure as underwhelming. Helton has a strong team returning in 2021 and should be viewed as one of the favorites to win the Pac-12. One area that has kept Helton from reaching an elite level is his recruiting. He signed the 8th best class according to 247sports in 2021 but the two previous classes has been quite poor. The 2020 class finished 64th in the nation, behind programs such as Kansas, Cincinnati, and Rutgers. If Helton can start off strong in 2021, his seat should cool down. Heat Check: 3.5

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 23: Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans speaks to the media after defeating the UCLA Bruins 52-35 in a game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Purdue: Jeff Brohm makes $4.8 million per year and his career record at Purdue is 19-25. In his four seasons as the head coach, he has finished with winning record in just one, his first season. Brohm was rewarded with a contract extension and a raise after the 2018 season where he upset Ohio State. Brohm has recruited better over the past few years to help bring an influx in talent to the program, but that has not translated into wins. For a coach that is making the salary he is, a losing record will not keep him around long. Heat Check: 5

Kansas: In Les Miles’ first season at Kansas he went 3-9. It appeared that Kansas was making improvements. In 2019, Kansas scored more than 30 points a total of four times. In 2020, Kansas went winless and failed to score more than 23 points in any game. David Beatty had six wins in four seasons, and I expect Les Miles to get a longer leash than Beatty. Kansas will need to show improvements from last season to ensure that Miles is able to keep his job. Winning 2 or 3 games should be enough to help him return. Heat Check: 2

Texas Tech: There was speculation that Matt Wells could be on the chopping block after the 2020 season. He enters 2021 after winning a total of eight games in two seasons. Two of his wins are against FCS opponents. Wells is struggling to get the Red Raiders off the ground, and there is not a lot of promise heading in 2021. QB Alan Bowman is transferring after struggling late in the season. Wells will need to have a winning record to have a chance to keep his job. I am not confident he will reach a bowl game. Texas Tech could very well be in the market for a new coach after the 2021 season. Heat Check: 8

Michigan: This is the name everyone came here to read about. Yes, once again Jim Harbaugh is on the hot seat. The pressure is real. Harbaugh has not reached the overall level of expectations since taking the Michigan job. He won 10 games in three of his six seasons. The key win missing from his tenure at Michigan is the lack of a win over Ohio State. Not only is he failing to beat Ohio State, he is getting blown out by the Buckeyes. Wolverine fans are ready for Harbaugh to take the next step and beat Ohio State followed by a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. Michigan needs a strong season in 2021 while also developing the quarterback of their future. Heat Check: 6.5

Penn State: This may be a hot take putting James Franklin on this list, but at the same time I feel as though this is a rational decision. Overall, Franklin has been widely successful at Penn State. Prior to the 2020 season, he finished with 11 wins three times in four seasons. Should Penn State bounce back in 2021, last season will be viewed as an anomaly and Franklin’s seat never warms up. If Penn State finishes with a losing record next year, there is a good chance he will still keep his job. There is growing pressure from the fans to reach the Big Ten Championship again. Heat Check: 1.5

Creator: Scott Taetsch | Credit: Getty Images

LSU: Before we get too deep, we need to acknowledge there may be potential issues off the football field with LSU. Ed Orgeron is one year removed from a National Title. As bad as LSU was in 2020, he made changes to his staff and had his younger players get more experience. LSU should bounce back in 2021 to make a bowl game and be competitive. If more details emerge about booster John Paul Funes stealing money from a hospital to give it to the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander over a five-year period. There have been rumors more could come out, which would be the ultimate demise of Ed Orgeron. Heat Check: 3

NC State: Dave Doeren possibly saved his job with NC State this past season by going 8-4. The Wolfpack consistently make it to bowl games under Doeren and only missed bowl games twice in his eight year career. The Wolfpack fans want more. Doeren has only finished the season in the top 25 once in his tenure and they were ranked 23rd. NC State is currently watching their rivals North Carolina rise to the top of the ACC and are ready to see their team rise as well. 8-4 may keep Doeren around for another season, but the fans are ready to see double digit wins. Heat Check: 5

Nebraska: Scott Frost was viewed as the savior of Nebraska football when he arrived in Lincoln. He went undefeated in his last season at UCF and was destined to bring the Nebraska program back to the promised land. Unfortunatly for Frost, it has been a rough three seasons. He is a combined 12-20 and has yet to make a bowl game. Many Nebraska fans knew this would be a long rebuild. The fans are beginning to get impatient because they have not seen much improvement on the field. If Frost misses his fourth straight bowl game, would they bring him back? My gut tells me no. Frost needs at least six wins to keep his job after 2021, but can he win that many games? Heat Check: 6.5

Pitt: Pat Narduzzi has been incredibly consistent as the head coach of the Pitt Panthers. The problem with him being consistent is he is consistently average. Narduzzi has never had a record better than 8-5. Eventually he has to break through and win more games and be a contender in the ACC if he wants to keep his job. Narduzzi most likely will keep his job following the 2021 season if he has a winning record. Should Narduzzi finish with a losing record, it would not be surprising for Pitt to move on from Narduzzi. Heat Check: 4

Top Freshman From Each Conference Who Could Make An Immediate Impact

By: Cole “The Curtain Guy” Schuette

When every new season kicks off in late August, each fanbase is filled with equal parts excitement and nerves. Gone is the familiarity of last year’s team thanks to graduation, the NFL Draft, and now, the dreaded transfer portal. In it’s place… the next wave of players looking to etch their name in to college football lore.

For most teams, the time has come to see those players who have sat for the past few seasons developing and honing their skills to finally show off all the work they put in. For some, however, those open spots on the field will be filled with the highly-touted freshman we followed so closely through high school, hoping they would commit to our favorite program.

Below I pick two freshman from each conference who I believe will make the biggest on-field impact for their respective programs.

ACC

Will Shipley: For the last three years, the Clemson knew exactly what it had in Travis Etienne, a do-it-all running back who could beat you catching the ball out of the backfield just as easily as he could running the ball. Over 6,000 yards and 78 touchdowns just walked out the door, leaving the Tigers with a huge hole to fill. In walks Will Shipley, a composite five-star and the number one all-purpose back according to 247 sports. The two sport athlete from Matthews, North Carolina is a shifty running back with good breakaway speed and provides D.J. Uiagalelei with another excellent pass catcher out of the backfield. I imagine that Clemson will start the season using a running back by committee approach but expect Shipley to become the front runner of the course of the season.

Leonard Taylor: After a mediocre 6-7 season in 2019, the Hurricanes bounced back with an 8-3 outing in the chaotic 2020 season. While there were a lot of improvements that paved the way for the bounce back season (like the scoring average increasing from 22.6 ppg in 2019 to 34.0 ppg in 2020), there were some set backs. Most notably, the rushing defense took a sharp drop, going from giving up 119.2 ypg in 2019 to 174.5 ypg in 2020. This was most evident in their three losses, where they gave up an average of 308.3 ypg rushing. Taylor, the 6’4″ 265 lbs hometown signee can provide an interior presence that is quick off the ball and wreaks havoc in opposing backfields. The general consensus from all of the recruiting outlets is that he needs to continue to add size and strength but I expect him to provide a spark to build off of the U’s 76th ranked rushing defense from a year ago.

BIG 12

Billy Bowman: You could probably walk by Billy Bowman (5’10”, 175 lbs) on the street and have no idea you just walked by one of the best pound for pound athletes in the country (#2 ATH according to 247). To be flat honest with you, I have no idea what position he will end up playing but watching his film, he could be a Chris Gamble (for my fellow Buckeye fans) type of player for the Sooners. The do-everything prospect could play slot receiver, all purpose back, slot corner, and return kicks/punts… all in the first quarter. With Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles entering the portal a few days ago, my gut feeling is that Bowman could make the biggest impact at slot-corner and kick returns. Regardless, with Billy Bowman and J’Tavion Sanders (Texas signee) on the field, the Red River Rivalry is going to be a lot of fun to watch for years to come.

Ja’Tavion Sanders: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… Texas is back. The Steve Sarkisian era is officially underway in Austin and while the talent level that Texas had grown accustomed to in the past is not quite there, there are still some highly-touted players roaming around the Longhorn’s facility. Sanders, who was listed as the #1 ATH in the country and former teammate of the #2 ATH above (imagine having to line up against those two on a Friday night… yikes) has immense potential on both sides of the ball. That is just what coach Sark is going to do, as he said he plans to utilize him as both a TE and WDE and determine what do from there. While all of the national pundits have their input as to which spot his skills best translate, it appears that wherever he puts his focus and energy, it will be hard to miss the 6’4″ 240 pounder out of Denton, TX.

BIG TEN

Donovan Edwards: To say that the Wolverines struggled in 2020 would be a massive understatement. We were told all about their passing attack, how Joe Milton was the guy who could make every throw on the field and the key to unlocking the “speed in space” mentality that OC Josh Gattis had preached in the offseason. What we saw was a Michigan program that got away from what had been a major part of their success during the Jim Harbaugh era, running the football. Edwards, (the #3 ranked RB according to 247) enters a running back room that is currently in limbo. With Zach Charbonnet transferring to UCLA, Chris Evans off to the NFL, and Blake Corum getting limited touches last year, the West Bloomfield native has an opportunity to become the bell cow back for a program that ranked 94th in rushing yards per game in 2020.

Terrence Lewis: Don’t look now but Mike Locksley is slowing dragging Maryland out of the basement of the Big Ten, one big time recruit at a time. Last year, he worked his magic by flipping then LSU commit Rakim Jarrett. The 4th ranked WR from the 2020 cycle had a solid freshman campaign, recording 17 catches for 252 yards (14.8 ypc) and 2 TDs in the 4 games he made an appearance. This time the big flip came on the defensive side of the ball, convincing the Florida native to take his talents to College Park instead of Tennessee. Lewis (the #1 ILB according to 247) is a speedy, long, defender who uses his athleticism to make plays all over the field. He can be used a variety of different ways in the second level and will be a much needed addition to a defense that gave up 32.0 points a game through five games last year.

PAC 12

Korey Foreman: You didn’t think I would make this list and not include the composite #1 player in the country, did you? Foreman arrives in LA as the first top five recruit for the Trojans since Iman Marshall (#1 CB, #4 Overall according to 247) in the 2015 class. The 6’4″ 265 lbs defensive end will have a ton of expectation placed on his shoulders but should provide a solid addition to a pass rushing attack that averaged 2.5 sacks a game last year. He is an athletic defender that possesses a quick jump off the snap combined with great technique that allows him to constantly live in the backfield. I really like what USC is building on defense and Foreman has the potential to be the cornerstone of that unit for years to come.

Sam Huard: In 2016, the Washington Huskies were the premier program of the West Coast. They had just won 12 games, won the PAC-12, and made an appearance in the College Football Playoff. Led by star quarterback Jake Browning, who was coming off an incredible season that saw him throw for over 3,400 yards and 43 touchdowns, the future looked bright on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for UW fans, the following years did not live up to hype. Browning threw for a combined 5,911 yards over the next two seasons but only 35 TDs. Huard (#1 PRO QB according to 247 and highest ranked QB to commit to UW since Browning) walks into a open competition in the quarterback room and could take the spot from day one. The 6’2″ prospect has an efficient, effortless release with excellent accuracy and could provide a much needed spark for a passing attack that ranked 67th in the country in 2020.

SEC

Sage Ryan: That was one hell of a post-championship hangover, wasn’t it Tiger’s fans? LSU’s hopes for a repeat in 2020 left faster than that shoe Marco Wilson tossed (I had too… I regret nothing). One of the few teams that has a legitimate claim as DBU did not look the part last year, ranking dead last (130th) in passing yards allowed per game, giving up 323.00 per contest. A lot of this can be tied to CB Derek Stingley’s injury, coaching and player turnover, and most obviously, the pandemic. With Stingley postponing his NFL aspirations and Elias Ricks growing into his immense potential, LSU looks to return to peak form in the secondary. Sage Ryan (#2 SAF according to 247) could be an immediate answer at the Safety spot. The athletic and explosive defensive back can cover a lot of ground quickly and would allow his corners to play more aggressively. He also provides another interesting option for the return game alongside Stingley.

Tywone Malone: Lane Kiffin’s first year as the Rebel’s head coach was a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Ole Miss, at times, looked like it was turning a page, competing with and almost upsetting #5 Florida and #2 Alabama to start the season and then defeating #7 Indiana in their bowl game. They also had moments of absolute blunder, losing to both Arkansas and LSU. Just as with Miami FL, a major contributor to Mississippi’s poor defensive performances were due to their abysmal run defense. Ranked 103rd in the NCAA, they gave up 206.9 yards a game on the ground. Malone offers college ready size (6’4″, 305 lbs) with quickness and power that allows him to be used at multiple defensive line positions. He can provide an immediate boost to their run defense and hopefully allow his offensive counterparts to avoid having to win games through shootouts.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: TreVeyon Henderson (#1 RB, Ohio State), JC Latham (#1 OT, Alabama), Kingsley Sumataia (#6 OT, Oregon), JJ McCarthy (#3 PRO QB, Michigan), Thomas Fidone (#1 TE, Nebraska), Raesjon Davis (#4 OLB, USC)

References:

Team Rankings – https://www.teamrankings.com/college-football/stat/sacks-per-game?date=2020-01-14

NCAA Stats – https://www.ncaa.com/stats/football/fbs/current/team/24/p2

247 Sports – https://247sports.com/

Top Returning Quarterbacks in 2021

Yes, it is only February. That does not mean we cannot start looking at who the top returning quarterbacks are for 2021. There are plenty of good quarterbacks returning in 2021, but this list of 10 are who stand out to me as the top returning quarterbacks. Disclaimer: The players on this list must have been starting in 2020. Sorry Bryce Young and D.J. Uiagalelei, but you guys are eliminated from this list. I am also not considering transfers. Let’s jump into it!

10 – Michael Penix (Indiana) – Micheal Penix is entering his third season as the starter at Indiana. He has only played in 15 career games but has shown flashes of his abilities on the field. He has thrown for 25 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Penix saw his completion percentage drop to 56% after completing over 68% of his passes in 2019. While he is a mobile quarterback, he primarily uses his legs to buy time looking for a receiver downfield. He does not run for forward progress often. With additional spring practices and the return of Ty Fryfogle, look for Penix to have a strong 2021 campaign and cement himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

9 – Grayson McCall (Coastal Carolina) – Grayson McCall bursts onto the scene with Coastal Carolina in 2020 and proved to be a stellar quarterback. The freshman threw for 26 touchdowns and only three interceptions. McCall completed over 68% of his passes. He should continue to get better as he gets more game repetitions and builds chemistry with his teammates. McCall threw for over 300 yards in his last two games, he will look to take that momentum into 2021 with him.

8 – Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati) – Desmond Ridder is not going to blow anyone away with his stats, but he is efficient. Ridder is a three year starter who has thrown for over 2,000 yards each season. In 2020, he threw for 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Ridder is a proven threat to run the ball rushing for over 1,800 yards in three season starting. Last season he scored 12 times on the ground. His duel threat ability helps make him one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

7 – Kedon Slovis (USC) – Kedon Slovis only played in six games last season, but he averaged over 320 yards per game. He also completed 67% of his passes. Slovis had USC at 5-0 before entering the Pac-12 Championship. Slovis should be the best quarterback in the Pac-12 next fall. He will have opportunities to shine and should Slovis have success, a trip to New York for the Heisman ceremony is not out of the question. Slovis returns some of his top receivers in Bru McCoy, Drake London, and Tyler Vaughns.

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 23: Quarterback Kedon Slovis #9 of the USC Trojans passes the ball in the second half of the game against the UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

6 – Brock Purdy (Iowa State) – Brock Purdy actually had a worse year statistically in 2020 than he did in 2019. One part of his game that stands out is his completion percentage. In each of his three seasons, Purdy has completed over 65% of his passes. One reason Purdy’s stats may have fallen could be the emergence of Breece Hall. Hall had 600 more yards from 2019 to 2020. Purdy’s success was not as vital to the team in 2020 has he could rely on Hall. Purdy returns his top two pass catchers so chemistry can only get better.

5 – Matt Corral (Ole Miss) – Matt Corral flew under the radar in 2020 having one of the best seasons in the country. He threw for over 3,300 yards and ran for an additional 500. Corral had a total of 33 touchdowns. One of Corral’s best games in 2020 came against Alabama where he completed 75% of his passes and threw for 365 yards. This was the second highest amount the Crimson Tide allowed in 2020, behind Florida’s Kyle Trask. Head coach Lane Kiffin is viewed as a strong offensive minded coach. Another year under Kiffin should help Corral grow as a quarterback.

4 – D’Eriq King (Miami) – In D’Eriq King’s first season in Miami, he showed flashes which made him electric in Houston. King threw for over 2,600 yards and ran for an additional 500. In the two games Miami lost in the regular season, King had his worst performances of the season. While he threw five interceptions in 2020, they came in a total of three games. King took care of the ball and helped his offense extend drives. He did suffer a torn ACL in the bowl game against Oklahoma State. King should be ready to play this fall, but the lack of spring practice two years is a row cannot be discounted. If he is healthy, he is one of the most electric quarterbacks in college football.

3 – Sam Howell (North Carolina) – In two seasons, Sam Howell has thrown for over 7,200 yards proving he is one of the best passers in college football. Howell averaged 10.3 yards per attempt in 2020 which ranked sixth in college football. He also had a QB rating of 197.1 which ranked eighth in the nation. Howell completed 68.1% of his passes which was a significant increase from his freshman year when he completed only 61.4%. If Howell has the season many expect, it should end with him attending the Heisman ceremony in New York City.

ANNAPOLIS, MD – DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Sam Howell #7 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drops back to throw a pass in the first half against the Temple Owls in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on December 27, 2019 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

2 – Spencer Rattler (Oklahoma) – Lincoln Riley has shown time and time again that he is a the quarterback whisperer, and Spencer Rattler is the latest testament. Rattler, a former five star prospect, threw for over 3,000 yards in his first season starting. He had a total of 34 touchdowns in 2020. Lincoln Riley has never had a starting quarterback for more than one season until this year. Rattler provides stability and opportunity to throw the ball down the field with talented receivers. Look for Rattler to have an explosive season and lead a high powered Oklahoma offense to the College Football Playoffs.

1 – J.T. Daniels (Georgia) – The former USC transfer, J.T. Daniels had a strong showing at the end of 2020. Daniels only played in four games but had a QB rating of 178.5. In three of his four games, he threw for 299 yards or more. Daniels completed over 67% of his passes in limited games. Daniels did not arrive at Georgia until late summer and that was following surgery to repair his knee. You saw the jump Joe Burrow made from year 1 to year 2 at LSU, I expect a similar jump for J.T. Daniels. While Daniels may not win the Heisman in 2020, he certainly will be at the top of most voter’s list.

Honorable Mentions: Jayden Daniels (Arizona State), Dillon Gabriel (UCF), Phil Jurkovec (Boston College), Tanner Morgan (Minnesota)

Way Too Early Preview: #8 Texas A&M

Jimbo Fisher is coming off his best season at Texas A&M going 9-1 with the only loss being to eventual National Champion, Alabama. The Aggies will have a large hole to fill on offense as four year starting quarterback, Kellen Mond, is off to the NFL. He threw for over 9,600 yards, threw for 71 touchdowns, and ran in 22 touchdowns as well. The Aggies have been recruiting well and should have viable replacements ready for the players have departed for the NFL. Let’s jump into it!

Sept 4, Kent State: As is tradition with many teams, Texas A&M will have a tune up game. Kent State is not a team to slouch on as head coach Sean Lewis appears to be turning the program around. The Golden Flashes only played four games, but scored more than 60 in two of them and scored 41 in another. Kent State can score, but the defense needs addressed. The Aggies will look to either QB Haynes King or Zach Calzada to take over for Mond. King threw four passes last year and is the presumed leader for the job. The game vs Kent State will be a good opportunity for game repetitions and to build chemistry with his receivers. Prediction: 52-20 Texas A&M

HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 27: Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond (11) warms up before the football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Texas A&M Aggies at NRG Stadium on December 27, 2019 in Houston, TX. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sept 11, @ Colorado: The Buffaloes surprised a lot of people last year going 4-2 including a loss to Texas in their bowl game. RB Jarek Broussard ran for 895 yards in only six games including a 301 yard game against Arizona. He returns for Colorado and should be the main play maker for them. Traveling on the road with a young quarterback this early in the year can occasionally make for close games and potential upsets. RB Isaiah Spiller returns for the Aggies and look for Jimbo Fisher to utilize his veteran running back to help out the young quarterbacks. WR Chase Lane is the leading receiver returning after have 409 yards in 2020. Experience will be crucial for a road game this early. Prediction: 31-23 Texas A&M

Sept 18, New Mexico: New Mexico started off the season 0-5 before winning their last two games over Wyoming and Fresno State. The Aggies should be able to make easy work of New Mexico and have the backups in after the half. Look for young players to carve a role out in this game such as WR Demond Demas. The former five star wide receiver only played in three games in 2020 and will look to increase his production with limited playmakers ahead of him. The Aggies return a large chunk of their defense including the entire secondary. The area of concern will be the defensive line. This is game where they should flex their muscles and allow very few points. Prediction: 45-10 Texas A&M

Sept 25, Arkansas: Arkansas may have went 3-7 last year, but they were much improved from 2019. Their losses to Auburn, Missouri, and LSU were by a combined seven points. When Texas A&M played Arkansas, the Aggies only won by 11. While they did make improvements, Arkansas still finished 99th in points allowed and 86th in points per game. I expect them to improve in 2021, but not enough to top the Aggies. Texas A&M still has too much talent on the team. Expect the game to be close once again, but the Aggies pull it out. Prediction: 35-24 Texas A&M

Oct 2, Mississippi State: Mike Leach was thought to be off to a good start at Mississippi State, but his team finished 4-7, going 3-7 in the regular season. His team struggled to score points being shut out by Alabama and only scoring two points against Kentucky. Year two under Leach should see some improvements, but once again, not enough to upend the Aggies. With the amount of turnover on the defensive line, Jimbo Fisher could look to rotate in freshman DT Shemar Turner and DE Tunmise Adeleye. Turner was a five star prospect and Adeleye was a high four star prospect ranking 38th overall. Prediction: 38-17 Texas A&M

Oct 9, Alabama: Based on my predictions, Texas A&M will come into the Alabama game 5-0 and potentially ranked in the top 5. Alabama lost a fair amount of players from their National Championship team including Heisman Trophy winner WR DeVonta Smith, QB Mac Jones, RB Najee Harris, and a plethora of other players heading to the NFL. Unfortunately for Texas A&M, Alabama will still be loaded with talent next year. You can read the Alabama preview here. This could be the Aggies best chance against the Crimson Tide in a few years. With the game being played at Kyle Field, the Aggies chances improve, but not enough to pull the upset. Prediction: 34-21 Alabama

Creator: Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics 
Copyright: Texas A&M University

Oct 16, @ Missouri: In Eli Drinkwitz first season as the Tigers head coach, he went 5-5 with a number of peaks and valleys. QB Connor Bazelak showed flashes complete over 67% of his passes in his first year starting. Missouri has the ability to be a dangerous team in 2021 because of their ability to score points. They struggled to score consistently in 2020 but if they can fix the issues, they could have one of the better offenses in the SEC. While I do like Bazelak as a quarterback, his best games were against the worst defenses in the SEC. Since I expect the Aggie’s defense to once again be one of the best in the SEC, I am taking the Aggies to win. Prediction: 27-20 Texas A&M

Oct 23, South Carolina: Shane Beamer heads to South Carolina to replace Will Muschamp and we are really not sure what we are going to see from his team. South Carolina struggled to score and to stop teams. While I expect improvements, it is hard to image they will improve enough to contend in the SEC East. QB Ryan Hillinksi transferred to Northwestern meaning QB Luke Doty is expected to start. Doty only threw 71 passes in 2020 and could face competition if he does not preform in practice or games. This may be the easiest SEC game for the Aggies next season. Prediction: 45-17 Texas A&M

Nov 6, Auburn: Similar to South Carolina, Auburn is also replacing their coach. Luckily for Bryan Harsin, he is walking into a much better position. He will be looking to get the most out of QB Bo Nix after a disappointing career thus far. Auburn also has the luxury of returning starting RB Tank Bigsby after rushing for 834 yards and five touchdowns last year. Harsin will be looking to make a splash in his first year, and beating Texas A&M would make the list. The problem for him is the game is played at Kyle Field. If the game was at Jordan-Hare Stadium, I would feel confident Auburn could pull the upset. Overall, this will be a close game. I believe Harsin will tap into Bo Nix potential and we will see an improvement from him in 2021. Prediction: 33-30 Texas A&M

Nov 13, @ Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin has the potential to have a very good team next year. QB Matt Corral returns after throwing for 3,300 yards and rushing for another 500. Ole Miss ranked 14th in scoring offense but 117th in scoring defense. Another year plus spring practice should help the defense improve. Ole Miss will have one of the top three offenses in the SEC next year. If they can have a top half of the SEC defense, they will win a lot of games. With the game being played on the road at Ole Miss, I do not think Texas A&M will be able to go score for score. Jimbo Fisher’s offense ranked 19th in 2020 and I expect it to take a step back. Prediction: 38-28 Ole Miss

Nov 20, Prairie View A&M: I am going to use this paragraph to rant about SEC teams playing FCS teams in November. It is stupid, no one wants to watch the games. Just play conference games this week. I do not understand it, and no one has ever given me a good reason why they should play cupcakes in November. The argument that the SEC is just harder and they deserve a bye week is useless. Prediction: A billion to 6 Texas A&M

Nov 27, @ LSU: LSU was just bad in 2020. To only go 5-5 with an atrocious defense led by Bo Pelini is actually an incredible feat. LSU started three different QBs and had players opt out left and right. Max Johnson or Myles Brennan are presumed to start at QB in 2021. Johnson helped the Tigers beat Florida in the infamous shoe game. LSU should expect to bounce back in 2021 because they have talent, they replaced their defensive coordinator, and will not have as much roster turnover. Look for LSU to end the season ranked. With the game being played in Death Valley, I give LSU the edge. The Aggies have not won in Baton Rouge since joining the SEC and I do not expect that to change next year. Prediction: 27-23 LSU

Analysis: Overall, Texas A&M finishes 9-3 which may be viewed as a disappointment to some fans. The Aggies will almost certainly take a small step back because of some sizable departures from the team. The the way Texas A&M is recruiting, they should have building blocks for the foreseeable future making them a force to be reckoned with in the SEC West. The biggest factor to the Aggies success will be centered around the quarterback play. If the next quarterback can have similar success to Kellen Mond, they could see the win total rise.

Behind The Curtain: J.T. Tuimoloau Recruiting Breakdown And Prediction

By The Curtain Guy:

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.

With the early signing day in December, many of the top recruits in each class have already committed, with the remainder committing on National Signing Day in early February. However, for a select few, they choose to extend their recruitment past those days to confirm that they are making the best decision for themselves and their future.

Such is the case for five star J.T. Tuimoloau. The strong side defensive end out of Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Washington is top five in almost everyone’s rankings (#6 on Rivals, but we won’t go in to whatever the hell they’re doing) and has been offered by two dozen of the country’s top programs. Below, I will breakdown the top contenders for Tuimoloau and predict where I think he’ll end up.

Alabama: As does everything else in the world of college football, recruiting battles for the top players in America run through Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban has once again outdone himself, putting together the highest rated class of all time according to 247 Sports, topping the 2010 Florida Gator class. Never satisfied, he looks to put the cherry on top of this ridiculous haul with JTT. The Tide are right in the thick of this one after making a significant push in the past months and are expected to get one last visit from him once the NCAA lifts the dead period in April. If they can impress, they have a chance to unseat Ohio State for the driver’s seat in this one.

Ohio State: Larry Johnson. That’s it, that’s all you need to know about the Buckeye’s chances. The last couple of NFL Drafts have looked like an Ohio State infomercial with Chase Young, Nick and Joey Bosa, Sam Hubbard, and even Tyquan Lewis all making themselves household names. Coach Johnson is looking to continue that long list of defensive lineman in the league with the addition of already enrolled Jack Sawyer (#3 composite SDE) and JTT. The Buckeyes currently hold 100% of the crystal balls on 247 and 90% of the future casts on Rivals. His former teammate, Gee Scott Jr, is finishing up his freshman year in Columbus. His friend and local Washington star, Emeka Egbuka, just enrolled for spring ball for the Buckeyes. Hell, Tuimoloau is even being compared to former Buckeye great, Cameron Heyward. But have they done enough to hold off the Tide down the stretch? Only time will tell but you have to like the Buckeye’s chances here.

Oregon: Mario Cristobal has done a phenomenal job transforming the Ducks culture and shifting their focus away from a speed only team. The last couple of recruiting classes UO has pulled in have been focused on the big boys in the trenches and it shows on the field. With the addition of players like Kayvon Thibodeaux (#2 WDE in 2019), Keyon Ware-Hudson (#19 DT in 2019), and Jayson Jones (#32 DT in 2020), coach Joa Salave’a is putting together a formidable front four. Should JTT choose to stay out west, I believe it would be Oregon that he lands with.

USC: After putting together an abysmal 64th ranked recruiting class in 2020, the Trojans have come roaring back with the 8th ranked class in 2021 thanks to the addition of players like Korey Foreman (#1 SDE), Raesjon Davis (#4 OLB), and Ceyair Wright (#6 CB). Adding Tuimoloau would push them to the sixth ranked class and tops in the Pac-12. While this would be a phenomenal way to end the class, I think USC is also on the outside looking in.

Washington: The hometown Huskies have always been in this race, just not always in the thick of it. The state has produced some high end talent with the likes of Emeka Egbuka (#1 WR in 2021), Gee Scott Jr (#10 WR in 2020), Sav’ell Smalls (#3 WDE in 2020) and Tuimoloau. They have been able keep a good number of them home but have missed on a handful, including two of the above to the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, as we come down the home stretch in this recruitment, UW will find themselves on the outside looking in for another in state blue chip recruit.

PREDICTION: This recruitment is ultimately going to come down to Ohio State and Alabama, the two schools Tuimoloau is set to visit once the dead period restrictions are lifted by the NCAA. JTT is an extremely bright kid and is doing his due diligence, as he should. He is a day one starter and provides immediate depth and talent for either defense. Either one can provide him a clear path to the NFL, but only one will provide the comfort and relationships that ultimately lands his services.

Curtain Call: Ohio State

Way Too Early Preview: #7 Indiana

Tom Allen and the Indiana Hoosiers are coming off arguably their best season since 1988. Indiana finished 12th in the AP poll which is the highest they have finished a season since 1967 when they finished 4th. The Hoosiers lose a few key pieces but many of the core pieces return which should set Indiana up for another successful season and high expectations. WR Whop Philyor departs for the NFL after having 495 yards and three touchdowns. Luckily WR Ty Fryfogle returns and should only get better. As for the 2021 Hoosiers, let’s jump in!

Sept 4, @ Iowa: Indiana has a tough schedule and opening on the road at Kinnick Stadium is the furthest thing from a cakewalk. The Hoosiers will get Michael Penix back from injury. Penix will not use his legs often to gain yards, but he will use them to extend the play and find one of his playmakers down field. One area he needs to improve is his accuracy. In three of his six games, he completed less than 53% of his passes. While I do expect Indiana to be a good team next year, starting on the road against Iowa will be too much for the Hoosiers. Prediction: 27-20 Iowa

Sept 11, Idaho: In week 2, the Hoosiers will look to bounce back from an opening week loss. Idaho should be an easy game for Indiana. Idaho is scheduled to play this spring in the FCS season. Look for RB Sampson James to carve his role out in this game after the departure of RB Stevie Scott. This will be a good game to test out the depth of the team and get the backups some playing time. Prediction: 55-13 Indiana

Sept 18, Cincinnati: If Indiana proves me wrong and beats Iowa, College Gameday should come to Bloomington for this game. There is potential this could be a top 10 match up. Cincinnati is returning a large portion of their team who narrowly lost to Georgia in the Peach Bowl. It is only February and I am excited for this game. Look for it to be a defensive game with field position playing a big part in who wins the game. The Hoosiers lose two key players off their defensive line in Jerome Johnson and Jovan Swann. Replacing them will be key to controlling the line of scrimmage and putting the Hoosier offense in favorable positions. Prediction: 23-21 Indiana

Sept 25, @ Western Kentucky: The Hoosiers will travel to Bowling Green, Kentucky to take on the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky in late September. Western Kentucky went 5-7 last year. The Hilltoppers struggled to score consistently in 2020 with them failing to score 20 points in six of their games. Indiana goes on the road for this game, but look for QB Michael Penix to use the game to get into a groove to help set the tone for the rest of the season. His connection with WR Ty Fryfogle, WR Miles Marshall, and transfer WR D.J. Mathews will be vital to the team’s success the rest of the season. Prediction: 38-14 Indiana

Creator: Joe Robbins 
Copyright: 2020 Joe Robbins

Oct 2, @ Maryland: Indiana beat Maryland 27-11 last season after the Terrapins have an up and down season. Maryland returns QB Taulia Tagovailoa who will play an important role in Maryland’s success. WR Rakim Jarrett should have an increased role after limited playing time due to games being cancelled and being transitioned into the offense. Fortunately for Indiana, they possess more talent than Maryland and while the game may be competitive, the Hoosiers will remain to be too much. Prediction: 31-20 Indiana

Oct 9, Michigan: The Jim Harbaugh Era at Michigan has been entertaining to say the least. In 2020, Indiana beat Michigan for the first time since 1987. They will be looking for back to back victories which has not happened since 1958 and 1959. They will be in good position considering the game will be in Bloomington and not Ann Arbor. Michigan appears to finally have a quarterback in Cade McNamara who took over for Joe Milton part way through the season. Milton and McNamara will also battle with true freshman and five star prospect J.J. McCarthy in the off season to see who will be taking the first snaps in the fall. Overall, Indiana’s defense will be too much for Michigan as the Wolverines will struggle to score. Prediction: 28-17 Indiana

Oct 16, Rutgers: Greg Schiano appears to have Rutgers moving in the right direction after one season. Rutgers went 3-6 which was their largest win total since 2017. While Schiano has a ways to go until his team is truly competitive in the Big Ten, they should not be overlooked. His team will continue to take a step forward this year and will look to upset teams this fall. Indiana remains more talented, especially on defense with the return of All-American LB Micah McFadden. McFadden lead the team with 10.5 tackles for loss and will look to add upon that total in 2021. Prediction: 31-27 Indiana

Oct 30, @ Penn State: When the Hoosiers travel to State College in late October, Penn State will have revenge on their mind. Remember, Penn State believes they should have won the 2020 match up after many believe Michael Penix was short on his two point conversion attempt. Indiana will need their secondary to step up as WR Jahan Dotson returns for Penn State after a strong season. Dotson had 884 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020 and is a threat to score at any moment. DB Tiawan Mullen was an All-American and will be tasked with slowing down the receivers of Penn State. Unfortunately for Indiana, the revenge factor is too much and Penn State pulls out the victory. Prediction: 33-24 Penn State

Nov 6, Ohio State: Over the last few years, Indiana has played Ohio State close with numerous games coming down to the final possessions. The Buckeyes lose their signal caller in Justin Fields as well as a few other key pieces from their team. If the Indiana defensive backs thought they had their hands full with Penn State, Ohio State might have the best receiving room in the country starting with WR Chris Olave and WR Garrett Wilson. Indiana was able to expose Ohio State’s defense in 2020 and will look to do the same in 2021. The Hoosiers offense will not be able to match Ohio State’s offense and will fall short for the second week in a row. Prediction: 38-30 Ohio State

Nov 13, @ Michigan State: Indiana shut out Michigan State in 2020 which showed how bad the Spartan offense was. QB Rocky Lombardi has transferred meaning QB Payton Thorne should be in line to take snaps. Michigan State also failed the run the ball effectively with the their top three running backs failing to average 4.0 yards per carry. Year two of Mel Tucker should see improvements, but the offense is still a long way from where it needs to be. Indiana should cruise to a victory after a rough patch. Prediction: 31-14 Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, IN – NOVEMBER 14, 2020 – the Indiana Hoosiers Football team during the game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Indiana Hoosiers at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, MI. Photo By Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics

Nov 20, Minnesota: One team to look for as a bounce back team in 2020 is Minnesota. QB Tanner Morgan is returning once again and will be looking to turn Minnesota around after a disappointing 2020 season. The Golden Gophers also return RB Mohamed Ibrahim who should be one of the best running backs in the Big Ten next season. Minnesota has to find a pass rusher though. Only three players registered more than 1.0 sacks and one player with more than 2.0. If the Golden Gophers cannot pressure the quarterback consistently, they will struggle to win games. With Indiana returning four of their five offensive linemen, I like the Hoosiers in this match up. Prediction: 35-20 Indiana

Nov 27, @ Purdue: Purdue started off 2-0 in 2020 but then proceeded to lose their last four games to end the season. Jeff Brohm and his team struggled to stop opposing offenses with every team scoring at least 20 points and three teams scoring at least 31. Pudue also bounced between quarterbacks with Jack Plummer and Aiden O’Connell having near identical passing stats. Both quarterbacks passed for just over 900 yards. Purdue only had 5.0 total sacks on the season. While this may be a rivalry game, Indiana will finish the season off strong. Prediction: 35-17 Indiana

Analysis: Indiana finishes 9-3 in 2021 which would be their most wins in a season since 1967. While some fans may view this as a disappointment, this season will be proof that Tom Allen is building a special program in Bloomington. Indiana will have a chance to go for their 10th win and most in program history in their bowl game. A 10 win season is what propels programs to new heights and influences donations which and result in facility upgrades. This is just the beginning for Indiana.

Top 10 Coaches in College Football

I am going to preface this entire article right here. Yes, I probably do hate your coach because I do not have them as high on the list as you think they should be. With that being said, this is how I would rank the top 10 coaches currently coaching in college football. There is no exact system, but there are factors taken into consideration such as longevity, championships, win percentage, recruiting, and sustainability.

11 – Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) – Alright, I lied. I added an 11th coach because I wanted to put Jimbo Fisher in here but I personally could not justify him in front of the others on this list. Fisher is one of the best coaches in college football right now and he is proving it by building a winning program at Texas A&M. The biggest blemish on his resume is his last year at Florida State where the wheels fell off. He won a National Championship with Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, and has won nine or more games in nine of his 11 seasons. Texas A&M finished in the top five this season for the first time since 2012. Fisher will have A&M competing for the duration of his tenure.

10 – Mack Brown (North Carolina) – Honestly, I expect people to disagree with this one. I understand that readers might think this is too high for Mack Brown. Since 1990, Mack Brown has one losing season. While at Texas, his teams finished in the top 10 a total of seven times. So far at North Carolina, he has turned the program around. Since Mack Brown’s first tenure at North Carolina, the Tar Heels have only finished ranked once (2015). In Brown’s season season, the Tar Heels finished 17th in the coaches poll. Brown led North Carolina to their first New Year’s Six Bowl game. Mack Brown may be turning 70 this year, but he is still one of the best coaches in college football.

9 – James Franklin (Penn State) – If we all ignore the 2020 Penn State season, it is easy to see why Franklin makes the list. His career record is 84-43 and that includes three years at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt finished ranked in back to back seasons for the first time in the school’s history under Franklin. From 2016-2019, Franklin won 11 games in three of the four seasons including appearances in the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. Penn State has produced All-Americans such as Saquan Barkley and Micah Parsons under Franklin’s watch. There have been bumps in the road at Penn State, including going 4-5 this past season causing some mumbling that Franklin’s seat could be warming up. I expect Penn State to bounce back this year and Franklin to have another good season.

Creator: Scott Taetsch | Credit: Getty Images

8 – Mario Cristobal (Oregon) – I think this will be an unpopular opinion among readers. That is very fair to judge my placement of the Oregon head coach. First, let’s address his tenure at FIU. Many believe he should not have been fired, and I agree with that. Cristobal inherited a team at FIU that had not won a game in four seasons. He took FIU to bowl games in back to back years and had a down season following and was fired. Since he began coaching at Oregon, he has taken recruiting to a new level. In three seasons, he was won the Pac-12 twice. While his team was not supposed to be there this season and made the championship on technicalities, they still won the championship. Oregon should be a contender next year with a young talented defense.

7 – Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern) – Pat Fitzgerald might be my favorite coach on this list. Northwestern has four 10 win seasons in their history, and three of them are with Fitzgerald as head coach. The other was when he was a player and took them to the Rose Bowl in 1995. Northwestern has won the Big Ten West twice in the last three years and made a bowl game in five of the last six seasons. The Wildcat program has been to a total of 16 bowl games, 10 of them have been with Fitzgerald at the helm. Northwestern has to recruit different than many other programs because of academic standards. Fitzgerald knows how to develop talent and build a winning culture. He recently signed a 10 year extension, so he will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

6 – Matt Campbell (Iowa State) – When you talk about developing talent, Matt Campbell has to be in that discussion as well. The Cyclones are currently in the midst of their best stretch in program history. Iowa State has only finished ranked three times, and Campbell had them 9th overall when the 2020 season came to a close. Campbell has one losing season to his name and it was his first season at Iowa State. Since his first season he is 32-19. He has build a winning culture in Ames, Iowa and has been a candidate for numerous jobs. Campbell has beaten Oklahoma numerous times and made the Big 12 title game for the first time in 2020. As long as Matt Campbell is running the show at Iowa State, they are in good hands.

5 – Kirby Smart (Georgia) – If you look around the internet, many writers speculate that Kirby Smart has not done enough with the talent on his team. While there may be some merit to that argument, he has been putting Georgia in the top 10 consistently. In five seasons at Georgia, Smart has finished in the top eight in four of those seasons. One of those seasons included a trip to the National Championship where they took Alabama to overtime. Smart is 52-14 in his five seasons and seems to be on the upswing. Georgia is coming into 2021 with high expectations and will be looking to make it back to the College Football Playoff. Smart has recruited well enough that the team’s goal should be in reach.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Georgia Bulldogs Head Coach Kirby Smart argues a call with an official during the Allstate Sugar Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and Baylor Bears on January 01, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.(Photo by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

4 – Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) – 37 year old Lincoln Riley has only been the coach at Oklahoma for four seasons, but he has won the Big 12 in all four. Riley has made the playoffs three times but is yet to win a game in the playoffs. Reaching the playoffs once is a major feat, making it three times puts you in a tier of your own. Riley has been an offensive mastermind watching two of his quarterbacks win the Heisman and another one place second. His current quarterback, Spencer Rattler, is expected to contend for the Heisman this season. Riley has recruited at a high level and is starting to see improvements on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma will continue to be the top dog in the Big 12 under Lincoln Riley.

3 – Ryan Day (Ohio State) – Some might view this as a homer pick putting him in the top three, but he a top five coach right now. Day has yet to lose a game in the regular season with his losses coming the playoffs to Clemson and Alabama. Prior to him taking over, there was speculation he would be ride what Urban Meyer built but it is being obvious he is building his own monster in Columbus Ohio. Ryan Day is proving to be one of the best recruiters in the country with the Buckeyes finishing number two in recruiting in 2021. While Day still needs to improve and ensure he makes good hires on both sides of the ball, it is evident that Ohio State will not be fading. Expect the Buckeyes to be the favorites in the Big Ten for the foreseeable future.

2 – Dabo Swinney (Clemson) – Personally, I do not like Dabo Swinney, but you cannot deny what he has done with the Clemson program. Swinney has made the playoffs in all but one season. Clemson has two National Titles under Swinney and they have been king of the ACC for nearly a decade. Swinney has won at least 10 games in each of the last 10 seasons. That accomplishment alone puts at the top of our list. Since 2015, the Clemson Tigers have finished no worse than 4th. Along with his two National Titles, Clemson has also made two other appearances in the National Title game. Swinney has built one of the top programs in college football, and one that will not be going away anytime soon.

1 – Nick Saban (Alabama) – If you thought this was going to be anyone else, you are cynical. I could list his national titles and we could leave it there. Saban is a career 256-65-1. Following his first year at Alabama, the Crimson Tide have finished outside the top 10 just once. Meanwhile he has won six National Championships at Alabama and another one while at LSU. In his last 10 seasons, Saban has lost a combined 12 games. Saban is not only the best coach in college football right now, Saban is the best coach in college football history. We are witnessing a dynasty we may never see again. It is alright to hate Saban, but you can also appreciate the greatness.

Honorable Mentions: Dan Mullen (Florida), PJ Fleck (Minnesota), Kyle Wittingham(Utah), Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina), Bill Clark (UAB)

Way Too Early Preview: #6 Iowa State

After a short hiatus, we are back to our Way Too Early Previews and I have decided I wanted to switch up how we are going to do these. All of the previews have focused on each position and not as much of the projection of what teams will do this upcoming year. Starting with Iowa State, we will look at their schedule and break down the season while also looking at key players returning. Strap in because here we go! (Disclosure, not all schedules have been released but we do know who Iowa State plays)

Week 1: Northern Iowa – Iowa State is 23-5-1 vs Northern Iowa but the last decade has been competitive between the two schools. The Cyclones are 5-3 in the last eight matchups with the most recent game in 2019 going to triple overtime. QB Brock Purdy and RB Breece Hall should provide enough offense to top Northern Iowa but they should not look past the Panthers or they could end up 0-1 to start the season. Prediction: 38-17 Iowa State

Week 2: Iowa Hawkeyes – Iowa State has only beaten Iowa five times since 2003, but this might be the best team they have had in that time frame. The Hawkeyes are also going to be a tough team this season with them beginning in our preseason top 25 as well. This will be Purdy’s first chance to showcase his talents on a national stage in 2021 and put himself in early Heisman discussions if he has a good game. One major key for this game for Iowa State is the fact it returns all of its starting offensive linemen. The continuity between the offensive line, quarterback, and running back will be vital for a game that should come down to the wire. Prediction: 24-20 Iowa State

Week 3: @ UNLV – Expect Iowa State to blow out UNLV. The Rebels are not a good football team right now. UNLV played a conference only six game schedule and lost all of their games by double digits. LB Mike Rose and the defense should be able to hold UNLV to very few points. Rose returning for the Cyclones is a huge as he was the leading tackler and also had 10.5 tackles for loss and five interceptions. Matt Campbell will have his defense clicking and if there is any doubt, the UNLV game will be one where they get extra confidence.

TBD: @ Baylor: In 2020, the Baylor Bears went 2-7 but gave Iowa State all they could handle. With the Bears down by a touchdown, Charlie Brewer threw an interception in the endzone with under a minute left in the game to secure the Cyclone victory. Baylor should be improved in 2021 but they did lose Charlie Brewer. With the game in Waco, that does pose an additional challenge. WR Xavier Hutchinson only had two catches in this game. Hutchinson was Iowa State’s leading receiver in 2020 and should be so again in 2021. TE Charlie Kolar should be a major factor as well after having over 500 receiving yards. Prediction: 30-20 Iowa State

TBD Kansas: The Les Miles experiment in Kansas has not gotten off to the kind of start they would have liked. 2021 will be much of the same. Iowa State has too much firepower and is superior at skill positions for Kansas to match them. A breakout player to watch on the Iowa State team is DB Isheem Young. Last season he finished with 54 tackles and one interception. He has the potential to elevate his game where his an all conference player in the Big 12 next season. Prediction: 45-13 Iowa State

TBD Oklahoma State: This will be a revenge game for Iowa state in 2021. The Cyclones played poorly in this game and know they did not put themselves in a good position to win. They missed two field goals and had seven drives of 15 yards or less. Oklahoma State loses a fair amount from their team including RB Chuba Hubbard and WR Tylan Wallace and should be the underdog against Iowa State next year. The Cyclones will have an experienced secondary bringing back over 88% of their interceptions and passes broken up back. Playing against a team who loves to throw it like Oklahoma State will give them the experience needed to come out on top. Prediction: 33-17 Iowa State

TBD TCU: The TCU Horned Frogs are a sleeper for the 2021 season. QB Max Duggan and RB Zach Evans should lead a formidable offense to help make them a threat in the Big 12. They do not have enough pieces to win the Big 12 next season, but they can finish in the top 4 or 5 of the conference. DL Ochaun Mathis proved to be the only player who could get consistent pressure on the TCU defense last year, but Iowa State has an experienced offensive line which should help negate him. Iowa State RB Breece Hall ran for over 150 yards and three touchdowns against TCU in 2020 and he will be even more of a threat in 2021. Prediction: 33-28 Iowa State

TBD Texas: The Longhorns took Iowa State to the wire, like many did, in 2020. Texas loses their QB and captain in Sam Ehlinger and fired Tom Herman. Steve Sarkisian takes over the reigns and begins a new era of Texas football. Iowa State was able to contain RB Bijan Robinson last year, but I am less certain they will be able to in 2021. Robinson should be one of the best running backs next year and containing him will be a challenge. Iowa State does return over 80% of its tackles and 70% of its tackles for loss meaning they will be up for the challenge. This game is being played in Ames, but I think Texas pulls the upset as Robinson runs wild. Prediction: 24-21 Texas

TBD @ Kansas State: After QB Skylar Thompson went down with an injury on October 3rd, the Wildcats played like a much different team. So much where they lost their last five games of the year after beating Oklahoma early in the year. One of the lone bright spots for the Wildcats was RB Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn only had 44 yards in the 45-0 beatdown by Iowa State last year. Thompson will make a difference for the game, but not enough to change the outcome. The Cyclones returning LB Mike Rose, LB Jake Hummel, and LB Vance O’Rien means too much to this defense and should shut down the Kansas State offense. Prediction: 42-20 Iowa State

TBD @ Oklahoma: Iowa State managed to beat Oklahoma early in the year and then fell short in the conference championship game losing by six. Oklahoma and Iowa State are the two best teams in the Big 12. You can read the Oklahoma preview here. QB Spencer Rattler returns, as do many of his weapons. QB Brock Purdy is going to need to be accurate and limit his mistakes for the Cyclones to have a chance in this game. Purdy threw three interceptions in the Big 12 championship game. RB Breece Hall only had 79 yards in the Big 12 title game. While he had two touchdowns, he was not moving the chains on a consistent basis. Prediction: 38-30 Oklahoma

TBD @ Texas Tech: Matt Wells has been subpar in his time at Texas Tech. QB Alan Bowman recently entered the transfer portal meaning QB Henry Colombi is the likely candidate to take over. Wells came in with a reputation of producing high powered offenses and that has not happened at Texas Tech. Five times he failed to reach 25 points in 2021 and seven times he failed to reach 30 points. Wells enters this season on the hot seat and Iowa State will not do much to help him out. The Cyclones return 82% of their receiving yards meaning Purdy should be comfortable with his targets and have the ability to score against poor defenses. Prediction: 41-17 Iowa State

TBD @ West Virginia: The Mountaineers of West Virginia had a very up and down season in 2020. They showed times where they had a high powered offense but also had instances where they they barely made it to double digit points. In their games against Texas, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State, West Virginia scored a total of 29 points. Neal Brown returns to coach West Virginia and QB Seth Doege also returns which should allow for stabilization and consistency. Iowa State is already there with consistency so the trip to Morgantown should be a formality. Brock Purdy and Breece Hall will be too much. Prediction: 31-17 Iowa State

Analysis: Iowa State goes 10-2 with losses to Texas and Oklahoma. While this may be a disappointment to Cyclones fans, this record still puts Iowa State in the Big 12 title game with a shot at Oklahoma. Brock Purdy and Breece Hall both put themselves in the Heisman discussion with Purdy taking the lead late in the season. Iowa State finishes with a top 20 defense and the best defense in the Big 12. Matt Campbell continues to show why he is one of the best coaches in college football. Overall, another great season for the Iowa State Cyclones.

EA Sports is Bringing Back the College Football Series

Earlier today EA Sports announced the popular college football series would be returning. The last game came out in 2013 with former Michigan QB Denard Robinson on the cover. Over the last decade, it has been popular for fans to continue to play. Fans have updated rosters over the years to play with current players and some have even figured out how to put a playoff system into the game. I wanted to take a look at some potential features of the upcoming game. EA Sports has said it will not be released for a few years so we can project some ideas.

Let’s start off with an easy one, the transfer portal. No game is going to be complete without a transfer portal. The ability to go into the transfer portal and add players who have left their previous school is going to be a huge addition and great for the players who like starting at small colleges and building them up to be powerhouses. Players would love the opportunity to be the coach at Middle Tennessee State and then add former players from Alabama or Georgia who are not getting playing time or want to be closer to home. There will also be strategy involved for players who are coaching top tier schools because they will have players inevitably enter the transfer portal.

Another obvious one is going to be the College Football Playoffs. Since the last edition of the game, the playoffs have been put into place. A feature that would an interesting add would be the ability to expand the playoffs to a number of your choosing. Even expanding to 8, 12, or 16 would be an excellent feature. EA Sports had a small video when players were selected for the Heisman, so I could see them adding in one for the weekly College Football Playoff rankings show.

With how the landscape of college football has changed, I would like to see a feature with coaching salaries and a budget for coaches. If you have a bad position coach, you can fire him or if he is good, then a bigger school can pick him up or give him a promotion. Your school could also set your budget of how much you can spend on your assistants. 10 years ago, assistant coaches were not making nearly as much as they are now. Some coordinators at power five schools are making more than head coaches in the MAC or Sun Belt.

Past games had slight abilities to do conference realignment, but when the next version of the game is released, a full conference realignment would be an interesting idea. Being able to completely mash up the conferences and put USC, Penn State, and LSU in a conference would create chaos, and everyone loves chaos in college football. Along with rearranging conferences, playing at a group of five school and having sustained success should lead to moving to a larger conference. This would give schools such as UCF and Cincinnati the chance to play in the ACC or Big 12 should one of them come calling.

A feature that would be polarizing, but could make the game much more exciting would be given options in recruiting to break the rules but risk getting caught. Imagine going after a five star recruit who could be an instant impact on your team as a freshman. When you are recruiting him, he asks for $10,000 in a McDonald’s bag. If you say no, you have almost no chance to get him. Should you say yes, there is a chance you get caught and hit with penalties such as scholarship losses, post season ban, or even fired.

One subtle difference between the last version and the future one is the name difference. EA Sports used to call the series NCAA Football, but in their announcement, they called it College Football. It could be a re-branding, but there is also a chance they are changing the game in its entirety. As more information comes out, we will learn which side of the spectrum the game is on.

Now that we have an announcement from EA Sports that their college football series is returning, now is the time for us to day dream about how much time we are going to waste playing the game. Who is the first team you are going to play with in your dynasty mode? What changes do you want to see made in the series? Make sure to leave a comment below!

Way Too Early Preview: #5 Georgia Bulldogs

After an up and down year for Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs, 2021 could be the year where Georgia makes a return to the College Football Playoffs. J.T. Daniels (Yes, I know the featured picture is Jake Fromm) is sure to be one of the preseason Heisman favorites and he has the weapons around him to make Georgia a high scoring offense, something they have been missing for a few years. Smart is known for having a stout defense, how will it look in 2021 after some key departures from the team. Let’s jump in and look!

Quarterback: As I mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs are returning J.T. Daniels at quarterback. After originally starting Dwan Mathis and then Stetson Bennett, Kirby Smart finally turned to USC transfer J.T. Daniels. It became clear that he was the best quarterback on the roster and it was not very close. Daniels went 4-0 in his starts while also throwing for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also completed 67% of his passes. Daniels is one of the more complete passers returning to college football next season and should be able to put his arm talent on display.

Running Back: Over the past two decades, Georgia has become known for their stud running backs, and being able to use a committee of running backs who are all capable of starting at nearly any school in the country. Next season will not be much different. Zamir White should be listed the starter, but that title does not mean all that much considering how often they are rotated. White lead the team in attempts, yards and touchdowns. Next up will be James Cook and Kendall Milton. Cook averaged 6.7 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns last season. Milton, as a freshman, had 193 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Kenny McIntosh will also see playing time as well.

Wide Receiver: Kirby Smart is returning some of his top wide receivers in 2021 which will help the offense and Daniels excel. George Pickens is one of the nation’s best receivers and should have another strong season after building chemistry with Daniels this off season. Pickens lead the team with six touchdowns. Also returning is slot receiver Kearis Jackson. He had 36 catches for 514 yards (one more yard than Pickens) and three touchdowns. Jermaine Burton also returns after starting at receiver last year and was the third leading pass catcher. One name to watch out for this fall is Marcus Rosmey-Saint. He broke his ankle in November on a play where he scored but possesses the talent to rise to the top of this receiving core. Rosmey-Saint should see an increase in his role in 2021, pending his health of course.

ATHENS, GA – OCTOBER 03: George Pickens #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts after a touchdown during the second quarter of a game against the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium on October 3, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Tight End: Darnell Washington and John FitzPatrick did not see many targets last year, but are candidates to see their usage increase next season. Washington only had seven catches but averaged a staggering 23.7 yards per catch. With his big play ability, Daniels will be looking for him much more next season. One rumor that is being circulated is that former five star tight end, Arik Gilbert, could be coming to the program via the transfer portal after just one year at LSU. He would be a difference maker at the position.

Offensive Line: Georgia has a lot of talent on the offensive line, the question is going to be figuring out who is starting. Warren McClendon started at right tackle in 2020 and should hold onto that spot next season. At left tackle, Xavier Truss started the Peach Bowl but a competition will ensue. Broderick Jones and Amarius Mims will both push for time. Jones was a five star in the 2020 class while Mims was a five star for the 2021 class. Both will be in competition for the left tackle position and could potentially upset McLendon for the right tackle position depending how camp goes. Trey Hill declared for the NFL Draft leaving a need at center. Sedrick Van Pran-Grainger appears to be the future at center with Warren Ericson challenging him. At guard, the Bulldogs return Jamaree Salyer and he should hold it down at left guard. If Ericson loses the battle at center, he could look to move to guard and compete with Tate Ratledge, Chad Lindberg, and Micah Morris. Mims and Jones could factor in here as well if either one of them loses the battle at tackle. As I stated earlier, the Bulldogs have no shortage of talent, it is just about figuring out the right pieces.

Defensive Line: Jordan Davis, Travon Walker, and Devonte Wyatt are the early projected starters across the defensive line. Malik Herring is off to the NFL which is a substantial loss. In two seasons, Walker has 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in a limited action. Davis is a converted tight end who had 16 tackles last season. He should continue to get better with game experience. Wyatt started in 2020 and finished with 25 tackles. He should help anchor down the middle of the line. Jalen Carter, Warren Brinson, and Nazir Stackhouse should also be in line for a considerable amount of snaps during the season.

Linebacker: Based off talent alone, this should be one of the strongest units in the SEC and they will need it to be if they want a chance at an SEC championship. Adam Anderson returns after having 5.5 sacks last season and should play the SAM position. Anderson could be one of the best edge rushers in the SEC next season. Former five star prospect Nolan Smith is expected to step in and start at the JACK position for the Bulldogs next season. Smith is an early candidate to take the biggest leap forward on this Georgia team. Nakobe Dean was the team’s leading tackler last year with 74 tackles. His return to the defense to play in the MIKE spot cannot be understated. Quay Walker returns to his WILL spot after having 43 tackles last year. Georgia will rotate their linebackers so Channing Trindall, Rian Davis, and MJ Sherman should all see playing time next fall as well.

Secondary: Richard LeCounte III and Tyson Campbell are both off to the NFL needing players behind them to step up. At cornerback, Kelee Ringo should be one of the first up. He is another five star player on this Georgia team. Ringo missed 2020 because of surgery but should be ready to go for 2021. Jalen Kimber is who I expect to start opposite of Ringo. Kimber played a decent amount this season including in the Peach Bowl. Nyland Green is a fifth year senior who could factor in as well. Lewis Cine started at safety last season and should start again. Christopher Smith came in for the injured LeCounte late in the season and should fight for time again next year. At the Star position should be Latavious Brini after Tyrique Stevenson transferred to Miami.

Via Georgia Bulldogs Website

Special Teams: Jack Podlesny stepped in for the legendary Rodrigo Blankenship and filled in nicely. He converted 13 of 16 field goals including the one to beat the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Peach Bowl. Jake Camarda has been one of the best punters in the SEC averaging over 46 yards per punt the last two seasons. Special teams is an area Georgia fans will not need to be concerned with next season.

Analysis: Georgia’s toughest game next season is without question Clemson. The game is in Charlotte. While it is closer to Clemson, the fan distribution will probably be close to 50/50. I stated in my Clemson preview that I thought Georgia would win that game, and I am sticking with that. I do think Georgia slips up at some point this season though. Florida is a game that sticks out because of the rivalry aspect but Kentucky and Arkansas could be tricky games. The trip to Auburn is one to watch out for as well. Overall, Georgia wins the SEC East at 11-1 and heads to the SEC Championship to face off with Alabama.