#Road2Arlington Survive and Advance #CFBPlayoffs here we come

JAMEIS WINSTON SUSPENSIONAt the start of the 2014 college football season many teams appeared to be unbeatable and apparent shoe-ins to punch their #Road2Arlington tickets to the inaugural College Football Playoffs. The close calls in week four has all but destroyed these cloaks of invincibility. The Auburn Tigers high octane sputtered in Manhattan but was bailed out by a dominant run defense and uncharacteristic miscues by the Kansas State Wildcats missing three field goals and two sure handed touchdown passes.

The Oregon Ducks offense may not have been as abysmal but the Ducks offensive line was dominated by the Washington State Cougars defense who sacked the frailWAZZU SACKED Heisman front runner Marcus Mariota seven times, who had to run just to survive. The Ducks defense was a complete no show surrendering 480 yards in passing alone. The Ekpre-Olomu Darrell Revis comparison from this summer looked downright laughable as he was victimized frequently as Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday showed little fear attacking the All American corner.

EDDIE GOLDMAN FUMBLEWhile the Ducks were saved by Mariota the Florida State Seminoles nearly lost because of the selfishness of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The nations longest winning streak was on the verge of being snapped until defensive tackle Eddie Goldman saved their season and as well as their championship hopes when he caused a fumble with his bear claw.

Routes come and go but these close calls were a huge wake up call for several title JAMIES WINSTON SIDELINEcontenders. Although battered, bruised and humbled these week four close calls will either bring the team together or serve as a sign of things to come. The diagram their championship demise is no secret and their adversaries smell blood: Auburn can not run; Oregon cannot protect or defend; and poor FSU who knows what Winston will do next. Upsets are inevitable, the only question is who will be next victim? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Road2Arlington: Oregon Ducks, fast start dissapointing finish

ducks push upsYear in and year out the Oregon Ducks begin each season with championship aspirations only to have their title hopes slip through their grasps. The Ducks offense begin each season at a record breaking pace, but they are apparently done in by their own fast pace. Although Pac 12 Championships and BCS bowl appearances may make them the envy of many, those accomplishments have left many in Eugene, Oregon yearning for more. Despite falling short yet again National Championship aspirations were renewed when All American quarterback Marcus Mariota and cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said no to the NFL and yes to the Ducks.

Before sputtering to the finish each Saturday had become a Mariota showcase filled withmariota scores one jaw dropping play after the other. Each night his talents left NFL scouts salivating as he ran past helpless defenders and made them pay with his arm when they dared him. Although more highlights are certain, after suffering a mild MCL sprain Mariota will wisely slide more and rely on his legs less. Mariota’s reduced load will lead to more carries for the best running back duo in the nation in Byron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. The Ducks may boast the best backfield in the country but they alone will not punch their ticket to the Inaugural College Football Playoffs. Pass catchers must be found and fast to replace Addison who was lost for the season due to injuries. Dwayne Stanford has the size, Keanon Lowe has the hands, and Chance Allen has the world class speed although unproven one thing is ducks defensecertain, the talent is there.

Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has been the face of the Ducks defense for decades but a new era begins in 2014. The cupboard is far from bare, the defensive line may be the envy of every team out west. Lead by Arik Armstead they have the size the depth to do great things but they must first show that they are tough enough.  Despite several losses in the secondary has the potential to be special led by first round lock Ifo Ekpre-Olomu.

marcus mariota injuredHistory suggest that scoring will not be a problem but can Mariota shake Ducks qb injury curse, Dennis Dixon were not so fortunate. In the wild wild west the Ducks defense must be more than just fast, in the drenches they trust. Led by Coach Mark Helfrich the Ducks have the talent but can they be consistent. Will the Ducks fly high on their Road2Arlington or sputter to the end as they have done so many times before? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

 

Road2Arlington: Clemson Tigers, No Tahj Boyd. No Sammy Watkins. No Problem

clemson strongThe Clemson Tigers led by Coach Dabo Swinney have had the best three years in program history, 32 wins and a well deserved seat among the nation’s elite program. However in 2014 those responsible for Tigers revival will be cashing checks in the NFL. But thanks to three consecutive top ten recruiting classes, the cupboard is far from bare. Although there will certainly be a drop off in experience, talent will certainly not be a problem.

There may not ever be a better quarterback and wide receiver to dawn a Clemson uniform than Tahj Boyd and Sammy Watkins the show must and will go on. As long as offensive coordinator Chad Morris is at the helm scoring points will not be a problem. What senior quarterback Cole Stoudts make lack in athleticism he makes up for it with four years of experience in Morris’s system. Morris will likely utilize the play making ability of dual quarterback Dashaun Watson in order to get the crown jewel of Mike Williams and Sammy Watkinsthe 2014 recruiting class on the field.

The next crop of receiver may not be households names yet, but their day in anonymity may be short lived. Sophomore wideout Mike Williams appears poised to be the next great Clemson playmaker to be a first day pick in the NFL. If one of the three freshman early enrollees Demarre Kitt,Kyrin Priester, or Artavis Scott live up to their high school billing then defensive coordinators will be having nightmares of Clemson thoroughbreds running past them through them and jumping over them.

vic beasley clemsonAfter years of being the teams biggest liability, the defense will be downright scary in 2014. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables had to be all smiles when All American Vic Beasley decided not to declare for the NFL. Beasley lived in opponents backfield last season recording 13 sacks. The defense loses no one along the defensive and they may boast one of the deepest teams in the ACC. Linebackers Tony Stewart and leading tackler Stephone Anthony appear poised to finally live up to their 5 star billing. Their may be a few concerns in the secondary but senior Martin Jenkins will aid in gettingclemson defense the inexperienced Tigers up to task.

Although the players responsible for Clemson’s rise to national prominence are gone, the seeds of excellence and sustainability are alive and well. The Tigers have the coaches, they have the talent, the only question is will they fulfill the tremendous promise that the Clemson faithful believe that they are capable of? Stay tuned…I know I will.

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Road2Arlington: Florida State Seminoles, the champ is here

ward winston weinkeHistory is apparently repeating itself, as the Florida State Seminoles closed out the BCS era the same way it started it began as undefeated National Champions thanks largely to the play of a Heisman winning quarterback. Their are a lot of similarities between both championship teams from their quarterback to their elite defenses. But unlike the 99′ Noles these reigning champs will have their Heisman winning quarterback back for an encore season.

Last season Jameis Winston was certainly no ordinary freshman, his focus and hisJameis Winston commitment to excellence spread like wild fire inspiring his teammates to settle for nothing less than W’s week in and week out. Many teams may have tried to rattle the freshman led Noles but none succeeded and as a consequence most games were decided before halftime. While other teams would struggle to replace their leading rusher and receiver, in Tallahassee its not a punchline when you say Noles don’t replace they simply reload.

Kermit RuffinRunning back Karlos Williams appears poised to become the next great Noles running back, he has the speed to get to the corner and the power to lay out some serious punishment. There may not be another 6’5 match up nightmare like Travis Bejamin in the Noles stable but they have more speed than anyone can ask for.Nick O’Leary and Rashad Greene will be poised to lead the crop of speed burners and match up nightmares.

The Noles defense will certainly miss the heart and soul of their team in Lamarcusnoles defense Joyner but the secondary may be even better in 2014. Ronald Darby and Freshman All American Jalen Ramsey may become household names garnering national awards at season’s end. The onslaught of talent along the defensive line should be considered down right criminal. Defensive ends Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman are only the tip of the ice berg, the depth is downright absurd and their is little drop off talent wise behind them.

karlos williams fsuThe Seminoles appear to be back, and in a big way. But with heightened expectations anything less than another undefeated season and another national championship would be considered a disappointment. With expectations at an all-time high the Noles will either continue their dominant ways or fall short as past Noles squads have done during  the Coach Jimbo Fisher era? They should win and in very convincing fashion I might add but will they win? Stay tuned…I know I will.

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

 

Road2Arlington: Kansas State Wildcats, overlook them if you dare

in snyder we trustIn college football players may come and go but in Manhattan, Kansas Coach Bill Snyder is forever, and although everyone is aware of his genius the Kansas State Wildcats shock us all one year after the other. As usual the Wildcats will begin the season unranked and in the shadows, but that is just the way Snyder likes it. While other programs hog the limelight and generate most of the preseason attention the Wildcats may find themselves in the National Championship discussion before its all said and done.

The Wildcats may have lost a considerable amount of talent on both sides of the balljake waters and tyler lockett but in typical Snyder fashion a collection of undersized athletes that bigger programs overlooked are poised to breakout and make a name for themselves like so many other Wildcats before them had done in the past. Despite a disappointing start in 2013 the Wildcats finished the season on fire, as one of the hottest teams in the country.

Despite his diminutive size All American Tyler Lockett may be the best wide receiver in the country. At times last season Lockett was unstoppable and now that quarterback Jake Waters has gotten over his first year tyler lockett destroy oujitters, the best may be yet to come. Demarcus Robinson will be the next in a long list of KState mighty mites to run for 1,000 yards. Although losing two All Big 12 lineman will be hurt a bit, there is little doubt that Snyder has found a bevy of big bodied JC transfer offensive line to fill in the gap.

The Wildcats may have no problem putting up points, but the biggest question is will they be able to stop opposing offenses from doing the same. The secondary will be undergoing a complete overhaul. The youth and inexperience of the back four will beryan mueller helped considerably by one of the best defensive line in the Big 12 Conference. Last season defensive end Ryan Mueller led the conference in sacks by making a living in opponents backfield. Senior safety Dante Barnett and linebacker Johnathan Truman have shown glimpses of greatness and they will be relied on heavily to get the younger Cats on board.

bill snyderAs long as Coach Snyder the magician is at the helm there is always hope in the Little Apple. Snyder has built his legacy on doing more with less and although the losses of seniors Ty Zimmerman, Tremaine Thompson, Josh Hubert, and others are considerable why should 2014 be any different. The Wildcats may start the 2014 season unranked will they end it that way? Does Snyder and his cats have what it takes to prove us wrong again? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Road2Arlington: Is Big Game Bob Stoops Back? #BoomerSooner

sooner magicFor over a decade the Oklahoma Sooners have been the epitome of inconsistency, boasting the talent of an elite program but falling short year after year time after time breaking the hearts of Sooner faithful along the way. But after the Sooners win over the czar of college football Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, the hype machine has returned, the Bob Stoops coaching hot seat has cooled and many believe that the Sooner Magic is back. And the losses and disappointing finishes have all but been forgotten.

The source of excitement in Norman is largely due to the growth of quarterback Trevortrevor knight and sterling shepard Knight who can extend plays with his legs and has the arm strength to make defenders pay for gambling. Although only 7 starters return on offense the cupboard is far from bare and players like running backs Keith Ford  and freshman phenom Joe Mixon may become household names at season’s end. Despite the Sooner embracing a next man up mentality the key to the Sooners National Championship hopes may be determined by the uncertainty at the wide receiver position. No one will contest the game breaking ability of receiver Sterling Shepard, but more playmakers will be relied on to play beyond their years. The concerns at wideout would all but be eliminated if Missouri  Tigers transfer Dorial Green Beckham is granted immediate eligibility.

Despite the uncertainty at wide receiver, the Sooners will boast one of the scariest defenses in the nation that may be able to win their fair share of games on their own. After eric striker hit on casey mccoyweathering the storm of inexperience and inconsistency the Sooners apparently figured it out. Blessed with both talent and depth the defense promises to be fierce, ferocious, and fresh. The Sooners may boast the best collection of linebackers in the country. Last season Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker gave opposing quarterbacks nightmares one jarring hit after the other. The defensive line led by Charles Tappner will be relied on heavily to give the talented yet inexperienced Sooner secondary time to get their barrings.

In the age of the aerial onslaught that now defines the Big 12 Conference one slight mental era in the secondary could be the difference of dreams of a national championship being realized or ruined. Conference titles and BCS Bowls games have become the norm during the Stoops era, but National Titles sooner fan cryinghave constantly alluded him. With an impressive cast of players returning, will things finally be different in 2014? Is Big Game Bob Stoops back or will Sooner fans be shedding more tears, yet again? Stay tuned…I know I will. Boomer Sooner

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

 

Road2Arlington: Baylor Bears, the hunter has become the hunted

bryce petty leapAfter years of operating in the shadows Coach Art Briles has built a title contender in Waco, Texas in the Baylor Bears. Briles has continued to turn doubters into believers churning out Big 12 Conference Titles, BCS Bowl Appearances and one 10 win season after the other. Times have changed in Waco, and now the Bears won’t be sneaking up on anyone no time soon. Baylor has become a haven for players who no one else wanted, and Briles has molded and shaped his program into a force to be reckoned with that continues to take the college football landscape by storm.

Those who foolishly thought that Robert Griffin III would be Baylor’s last Heisman winner, may be sadly mistaken because Bryce Petty could be next. In his first season as a starter Petty displayed the accuracy, arm strength, and athleticism that gave opposing defenses fits. Although the loss of All American RB Lache Seatrunk will be felt, little drop off isbaylor offense expected thanks too a bevy of talented playmakers poised to step up in his stead. Briles has done a masterful job of unearthing offensive playmakers where no one has looked and this year will be no different. Despite the loss of the school 3rd all time receiver, Antwan Goodley and KD Cannon poised to continue the tradition of Wide Receiver wide receiver uU in Waco (Josh Gordon, Kendall Wright, and Terrance Williams).Despite an arsenal of weapon the success and failure of Baylor may ultimately rest with a retooled offensive line that lost two starters.

Unlike in years past the Baylor defense will be more than just formidable, they have both talent and depth. The defensive line may be one of the best in the country led by 6’9 man child Shawn Oakman and edge-rushing extraordinaire Jamal Palmer. The line will be relied on heavily due to the youth and inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary. But what these wet behind the ear sophomores and freshman lack in experience they make up for with speed and athleticism.

baylor defenseFor years defense has been the Bears biggest weakness, but those days are no more. Briles makeover in Waco is nearly complete, and his Bears are not satisfied. There was a time when finishing above .500 was considered a huge success. Although their road to a National Championship may not be the easiest, with Arlington only being two hours away it would certainly be the shortest. Will the heightened expectations be too much for Baylor to Bear?  Underestimate Baylor if you dare and their next victim could BU. Stay tuned…I know I will.

 

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast