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Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch

Senior Bowl 2014 - Key Game Players to Watch

Photo - QB Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Fast rising small college passer put back to back strong performances together at the East-West and Senior Bowl practices. He gets the main stage Saturday in Mobile and could elevate his stock into the top 50 selections. Garoppolo (6'2", 220 lbs) has a very compact and quick release with fine accuracy and a nice touch that allows receivers to run after the catch. He has an above average arm though he shows the ability to drive the ball into small openings with timing and accuracy. After an impressive week of practice, he can really shine on the big stage vs top completion.

Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Underrated runner elevated his stock significantly with an impressive effect at the practices. He combines fine size and speed with well rounded talent to fill all the roles for the position. He is a fine route runner with soft hands and the natural running ability to be dangerous after the catch. He is moves well laterally and shows a burst of speed coming out of his cuts to run away from defenders. He has a thick lower body to break tackles and show some cutback ability/vision to find running lanes. A strong game effort and he can move into the top 10 selections.

Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming
Fast vertical threat has lite it up this week with his ability to separate and get open. His big play potential has drawn raves and improved his draft status. Though only 5’10” 187 lbs., his short area quickness and long speed allow him to create big plays and will most likely allow him to shine at the NFL Combine.

Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Agile sure handed receiver may be the most developed wideout in this class. He routes great routes, adjusts very well and has the receiving radius and soft hands to catch everything. He has deceptive speed and quickness and could be the playmaker with the development to be a key factor on game day.

Zach Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Tough technician had an outstanding week at practices vs the best edge rushers. He probably guaranteed a first round grade. He is highly developed and versatile that probably will earn him a starting rookie grade this summer.

Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State
Sound technician displayed strong hands and balance that enables him to win consistently vs top linemen. He shows a strong base that translates well to the well and allows him to play with power. Good work effort and preparation will earn him early NFL starting spot, probably at right tackle.

Defensive Players
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn

Fast edge rusher was unblockable this week. He has the explosive speed off the ball that dominated the practice sessions throughout the week. This small defensive end consistently attacked the edge of offensive tackles in one-on-one pass-rush and team drills. He weighs only 243 lbs and teams see him as a better fit as an outside 'backer in a 3-4 front. In a four man front, he is a situational rusher with impact ability. He has the quickest first step off the line in this draft class.

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Another smallish defender who had a strong week vs top competition. He has a quick burst off the ball, with strong and violent hands to gain a fast advantage. Though only 6'0" and 288 lbs, he wins with quickness and leverage with the ability to finish strong. He plays hard and competes on every rep.
Fine 3-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 front who has rose up draft boards after he showcased consistent talent vs premier blockers.

Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana
Rangy small college defender moves easily that allows him to pursue and drop in coverage.
He moves like a strong safety with the frame to carry another 10-15 lbs. He is a very fluid athlete and plays with fine speed for a 6'2", 237-pound defender. He needs to get stronger and take on blockers
and hold the point to play in a base defense.. Interesting rising defender.

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
Big agile corner had a strong week of practices. He has the length scouts seek in a pro corner and shows the agility to move easily in his pedal and closing speed. He plays the ball well with the reach to deflect many passes. He plays both press and man well with the ability to ride a receiver’s hips and locate the ball consistently.

Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
Physical strong safety displayed powerful tackling with the ability to close on the ball and drop runners.
He has excellent size (6'1", 216 lbs) with the ability to cover the back quarter. He can run the alley and drop runners in their tracks. His ability to match up with top tight ends in the deep game will determine how high a club will draft this emerging defender.

Players Primed for Big Game Performances
Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Michael Schofield , OT, Michigan
Gabe Jackson , OG, Mississippi State
Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State
Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Dez Southward, DB, Wisconsin
Dontae Johnson, DB, North Carolina St.

Players Who Need Big Game Performances
QB Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
QB Stephen Morris - Miami
WR Jeff Janis - Saginaw Valley St.
OG Cyril Richardson – Baylor
OT Seantrel Henderson – Miami
OG Kadeem Edwards - Tennessee St.
DE Michael Sam - Missouri
DT Caraun Reid - Princeton
LB Jonathan Brown - Illinois
CB Chris Davis - Auburn

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

NFL Draft 2014 - Pro Prospect QB & RB Rankings

Pro Prospect Rankings - NFL Draft 2014
2013 Postseason Rankings * underclassmen

Photo – QB Derek Carr - Fresno St.

Quarterbacks:
1. * Teddy Bridgewater, 6-2, 220 - Louisville
2. Derek Carr, 6-3, 210 - Fresno St
3. AJ McCarron, 6-3, 215 - Alabama
4. Zach Mettenberger, 6-5, 225 - LSU
5. * Blake Bortles, 6-3, 230 - Central Florida
6. * Johnny Manziel, 5-11, 210 - Texas A&M
7. Tajh Boyd, 6-0, 225 - Clemson
8. Tyler Russell, 6-5, 220 - Mississippi St
9. Aaron Murray, 6-1, 210 - Georgia
10. David Fales, 6-3, 220 - San Jose St
11. Jimmy Garoppolo, 6-2, 215 - Eastern Illinois
12. Stephen Morris, 6-2, 210 - Miami
13. Logan Thomas, 6-5, 255 - Virginia Tech
14. Tom Savage, 6-5, 230 - Pittsburgh
15. James Franklin, 6-2, 230 - Missouri

Running Backs:
1. * Ka'Deem Carey, 5-9, 205 - Arizona
2. * Tre Mason, 5-10, 215 - Auburn
3. Marion Grice, 5-11, 205 - Arizona St
4. * Carlos Hyde, 5-11, 240 - Ohio St
5. * Lache Seastrunk, 5-9, 210 - Baylor
6. * Jeremy Hill, 6-0, 235 - LSU
7. * James Wilder, 6-1, 230 - Florida St
8. Antonio Andrews, 5-11, 215 - Western Kentucky
9. James White, 5-9, 200 - Wisconsin
10. * Bishop Sankey, 5-9, 205 - Washington
11. * Terrance West, 5-11, 225 - Towson St.
12. Andre Williams, 6-0, 220 - Boston College
13. * Charles Sims, 5-11, 215 - West Virginia
14. Tyler Gaffney, 5-11, 225 - Stanford
15. Silas Redd, 5-9, 200 - Southern Cal

Carr - Fresno St.jpg

NFL Great Alex Karras Dies at 77

NFL's Detroit Lion's Great Alex Karras Dies at 77

Photo – Alex Karras - Lions

Former NFL defensive tackle Alex Karras passed away this Wednesday at the age of 77 from kidney failure after being diagnosed with dementia in recent years.

Karras was one of the NFL's best feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, coupling with Roger Brown to form a dominant inside tandem. Karras was a huge success after his 12 year NFL career as an actor, best known for his role in “Blazing Saddles” as Mongo and later as the lovable dad in the sitcom “Webster”.

Karras was a defender who hounded QBs, combining both quickness and power that earned him four Pro Bowl invitations over his 12 year career. He spent his entire NFL career with the Lions before retiring in 1970 at age 35.

He transcended football in a different way that rarely happens for players of any era. In addition to his movie and TV sitcom experience he made a successful transition to his acting career with a stint as a commentator on "Monday Night Football," working opposite the always verbose Howard Cosell and former Giant great Frank Gifford.

He died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney. "Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex," Lions president Tom Lewand said.

His death also will be tied to the NFL's conflict with former players over concussions. This past April, Karras joined the more than 3,500 NFL veterans suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries. He became one of the best-known names in the legal fight that has caused the NFL to take new steps on addressing head injuries. Recently, his wife said Karras' quality of life had deteriorated because of head injuries sustained during his NFL playing career.

Mitnick said the family had not yet decided whether to donate Karras' brain for study, as other families have done. His wife Clark said her husband couldn't drive after loving to get behind the wheel and couldn't remember recipes for some of the favorite Italian and Greek dishes he used to cook.

"This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore it has impacted his family life," Clark told The Associated Press earlier this year. "He is interested in making the game of football safer and hoping that other families of retired players will have a healthier and happier retirement."

Clark has said he was formally diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has had symptoms for more than a dozen years. He joined hundreds of other former players suing the league.

Born in Gary, Ind., Karras starred for four years at Iowa. Detroit drafted Karras with the 10th overall pick in 1958, and he was a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons with the franchise. He was the heart of the Lions' defensive line, terrorizing QBs for years. He will always be remembered for his performance when the Lions handed the powerful 1962 Green Bay Packers their only defeat that season in a 26-14 upset on Thanksgiving during which they harassed QB Bart Starr constantly.

He missed the 1963 season when he was suspended by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in a gambling probe. Karras was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a defensive tackle on the All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

Karras later wrote an autobiography, "Even Big Guys Cry," and two other books, "Alex Karras" and "Tuesday Night Football." Lewand said Karras also loved to garden and cook.
Packers guard Jerry Kramer wrote in his diary of the 1967 season about his trepidation over having to play opposite Karras. Their one on one battles were legendary during the 1960s.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, CBS, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

Karras.jpg

QB Peyton Manning Hits ‘Street’ On Eve of NFL Free Agency

Peyton Manning Heads NFL 2012 Free Agency List

Photo - QB Peyton Manning

The Colts made the inevitable personnel move by releasing Peyton Manning this week prior to a bonus clause condition in his current contract began due. Manning has been the elite QB in the game for over a decade, setting countless NFL and Colt records. His resume includes a Super Bowl win and game MVP award, in addition to four MVP seasonal honors.

March Newsletter will have an extensive NFL Combine and Veteran Free Agency 2012 reports. - Order Today - Special Packages available - call 1-800-776-1949

Manning becomes the leading ‘Street’ free agent this year in a designation within Free Agency that has become the key additions to the open market just prior to the opening. Free Agency begins March 13th, though the ‘Street’ free agents are open to negotiate with every team now. Most ‘Street’ players are veterans with huge bonus clauses kicking in on their current contract that was back loaded. These veterans look for one more contract bonanza at the end of their careers.

Manning will command a huge contract with several clubs like the Dolphins, Redskins, Jets, Seahawks and Cardinals. His presence automatically makes his new team a Super Bowl contender if he checks out medically after four neck procedures. He will have to impress at workouts over the next few weeks and he has made definite progress in his condition over recent months. He does not have to throw a pass in anger until August/ September and is expected to be ready and give it his all for the NFL 2012 season.

The opinion here is that Manning will land in Miami and become the catalyst for a struggling Dolphin offense that has some key components – WR Marshall, RB Bush and LOT Long already in place. Several other FAs could follow Manning to Miami if he signs there like WR Reggie Wayne and center Jeff Saturday.

Manning heads the free agent QB class that should see a few command huge contracts. Other than Manning, Matt Flynn should be one of the biggest winners this offseason with a few multi million dollar contract offers. He has been Aaron Rodgers backup in recent years though he had two impressive games when asked to start. He should parlay those two games into the mega contract with teams not signing Manning in the forefront like Miami and Washington.

Franchise Quarterback: $14.4 million (down from $16.1 million in 2011, $16.4 million in 2010)

2012 NFL Unrestricted Free Agents
Top Quarterbacks

Peyton Manning - Colts
x - Drew Brees - Saints
Matt Flynn – Packers
Alex Smith – 49ers
Kyle Orton – Broncos
Jason Campbell – Raiders
Donovan McNabb – Vikings
Rex Grossman – Redskins

x - Exclusive Franchise Tag Player

Peyton-manning.jpg

LSU Faces Alabama in Rematch for National Title - Bowl Matchups

College Football Mondays
2011-12 College Football Bowl Schedule

Bowl / Location / Date / Time / Network

BCS National Championship Game
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama

New Orleans - Louisiana Superdome
Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m. - ESPN

2011-12 College Football Bowl Schedule

Photo – WR Rueben Randle – LSU

Gildan New Mexico
Temple vs. Wyoming - Albuquerque, N.M.
Dec. 17, 2 p.m. ESPN

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio vs. Utah State - Boise, Idaho
Dec. 17, 5:30 p.m. ESPN

R+L Carriers New Orleans
San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
New Orleans- Superdome
Dec. 17, 9 p.m. ESPN

Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg
Florida International vs. Marshall - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tropicana Field
Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ESPN

S.D. County Credit Union
TCU vs. Louisiana Tech - San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 21, 8 p.m. ESPN

MAACO Las Vegas
Arizona State vs. Boise State - Las Vegas
Dec. 22, 8 p.m. ESPN

Sheraton Hawaii
Nevada vs. Southern Miss - Honolulu
Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ESPN

Independence
Missouri vs. North Carolina - Shreveport, La.
Dec. 26, 5 p.m. ESPN2

Little Caesars
Western Michigan vs. Purdue - Detroit
Ford Field Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m. ESPN

Belk
Louisville vs. NC State - Charlotte, N.C.
Bank of America Stadium
Dec. 27, 8 p.m. ESPN

Military Bowl
Toledo vs. Air Force - Washington, D.C.
RFK Stadium
Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m. ESPN

Holiday
California vs. Texas - San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Dec. 28, 8 p.m. ESPN

Champs Sports
Florida State vs. Notre Dame - Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m. ESPN

Alamo
Washington vs. Baylor - San Antonio
Alamodome
Dec. 29, 9 p.m. ESPN

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
BYU vs. Tulsa - Dallas
Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Dec. 30, Noon ESPN

New Era Pinstripe
Rutgers vs. Iowa State - Bronx, N.Y.
Yankee Stadium
Dec. 30, 3:20 p.m. ESPN

Music City
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest - Nashville, Tenn.
Dec. 30, 6:40 p.m. ESPN

Insight
Iowa vs. Oklahoma - Tempe, Ariz.
Sun Devil Stadium
Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ESPN

Meineke Car Care
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern - Houston
Reliant Stadium
Dec. 31, Noon ESPN

Sun
Georgia Tech vs. Utah - El Paso, Texas
Sun Bowl
Dec. 31, 2 p.m. CBS

Liberty
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt - Memphis, Tenn.
Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ABC

Kraft Fight Hunger
Illinois vs. UCLA - San Francisco
AT&T Park
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ESPN

Chick-fil-A
Virginia vs. Auburn - Atlanta
Georgia Dome
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ESPN

TicketCity
Houston vs. Penn State - Dallas
Cotton Bowl
Jan. 2, Noon ESPNU

Outback
Michigan State vs. Georgia - Tampa, Fla.
Raymond James Stadium
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ABC

Capital One
Nebraska vs. South Carolina - Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ESPN

Gator Bowl
Ohio State vs. Florida - Jacksonville, Fla.
EverBank Field
Jan. 2, 1 p.m. ESPN2

Rose Bowl Game
Wisconsin vs. Oregon - Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl
Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ESPN

Tostitos Fiesta
Stanford vs. Oklahoma State - Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium
Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Sugar
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech - New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Discover Orange
West Virginia vs. Clemson - Miami
Sun Life Stadium
Jan. 4, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

AT&T Cotton
Kansas State vs. Arkansas - Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium
Jan. 6, 8 p.m. FOX

BBVA Compass Bowl
SMU vs. Pittsburgh - Birmingham, Ala.
Legion Field
Jan. 7, 1 p.m. ESPN

GoDaddy.com
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois - Mobile, Ala.
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Jan. 8, 9 p.m. ESPN

BCS National Championship Game
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Jan. 9, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game.

LSU Pounds Arkansas To Claim #1 Into Conference Title Game

LSU Pounds Arkansas To Claim #1 Into SEC Championship vs Georgia

'College Football Monday'
Frank Coyle's Blog Column

LSU and Houston Finish Regular Season As the Only Two Unbeatens

Offensive Player of the Week –
RB Trent Richardson - Alabama

Defensive Player of the Week
CB Tyrann Mathieu - LSU

Photo - RB Trent Richardson - Alabama

The final full week of the regular 2011 season is complete with conference championship games on the agenda this week. LSU continues to establish themselves as the #1 club with an impressive 41-17 win over Arkansas after trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. The Tigers are a powerhouse who meets a hot Georgia team this week in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs have won 10 consecutive games since opening the season with two losses. LSU gained their composure vs Arkansas and drilled them with another display of power and speed that has dominated their competition against probably the toughest schedule in the nation. LSU appears headed for a rematch with Alabama who lost their only game to the Tigers 9-6 in early November. Alabama dominated Auburn in their finale to complete an excellent 11-1 season, though only good for second place in the SEC West that is occupied by LSU and Arkansas. Those three clubs ranked 1-3 entering last weekend with LSU and Alabama holding the top two spots while Arkansas fell back in the top ten.

LSU relied on a power ground game and some big plays from QB Jordan Jefferson and corner Tyrann Mathieu to blitz the Hogs. Jefferson had his best game of the season and gets the starting nod from here on thru the BCS bowl games. Mathieu may be the best defensive player in the nation after another outstanding performance. ‘Honey Badger’ has a great nose for the ball and packs a wallop when he gets there to force turnovers. In the key win over Arkansas, he had a team-best eight solo tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one as the top-ranked Tigers completed their regular season undefeated. Mathieu added a 92-yard punt return for a TD as LSU remained undefeated (12-0, 8-0 in SEC West) and earned a spot in next week’s SEC Championship Game.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards (on 27 carries) as the second-ranked Crimson Tide defeated Auburn, 42-14, in the Iron Bowl. Richardson added a five-yard touchdown reception as Alabama improved to 11-1, 7-1 in the SEC West. Richardson is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates entering the final weekend where he will sit out waiting for the Tides feat in the postseason.

Michigan finally beat Ohio St. 40-34 that snapped a 7 game losing streak to their archrival. Michigan QB Denard Robinson accounted for 5 TDs as the Wolverines finished 10-2. Robinson ran for 170 yards on 26 carries, in addition to going 14 of 17 for 167 yards in a terrific overall performance. The Michigan win was huge for first year coach Brady Hoke who will lead the Wolverines in a top tier bowl matchup. Ohio St. named Urban Meyers their new head coach on Monday. The former Florida head coach sat out this year due to minor medical issues. He lead the Gators to two national championships and returns to Ohio St. where he was an assistant coach prior to starting his head coaching career at Bowling Green.

UCLA ran into the Trojans in their cross town rivalry. QB Matt Barkley has been in a zone for weeks and torched the Bruins 50-0. Barkley went 35 of 42 for 423 yards and 6 TDs that ended the Trojans season at 10-2. The Trojans are under NCAA suspension for any postseason activity, though they would rank in the top ten easily if eligible. Barkley had an outstanding season and closed with as impressive a run as any player in the nation, though any Heisman talk was most likely too little too late. UCLA finished 6-6 and earned a berth in the Pac 12’s first championship game vs Oregon. Figure that out.

Houston finished undefeated that ranks them in the top ten. QB Case Keenum broke school, conference and NCAA records weekly over the final months that might earn an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation. Where Houston falls in the bowl season will be interesting with their perfect record intact entering the CUSA title game vs Southern Miss. They hope to possibly challenging for the BCS title if LSU loses over their final two games.

Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead had two punt returns for 54 yards, nine receptions for 112 yards and a TD, and 17 carries for 80 yards and a TD in a 30-13 win over Syracuse on Nov. 26. He finished with 246 all-purpose yards in the game. Pead's performance helped keep the Bearcats alive for a Big East Championship and a BCS bowl berth.

Georgia's Brandon Boykin had an impressive showing against Georgia Tech over the weekend. Boykin will face off with LSU this weekend in the Southeastern Conference Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia. Boykin caught one pass for 28 yards, returned two punts for 4 yards and returned one kick for 60 yards in a 31-17 win over Georgia Tech. On defense Boykin recorded two total tackles, including assisting on a tackle for loss.

The BCS matchup for #1 appears headed for a rematch of LSU and Alabama after last weekend. LSU prevailed 9-6 earlier this season on the road that earned them a huge lead for the #1 ranking entering the final months. They win the SEC West division in the conference that has dominated the national title for five consecutive seasons.

This Week’s Top Games
#1 LSU vs #12 Georgia
#11 Michigan St vs #15 Wisconsin
#7 Houston vs #24 Southern Miss
#5 Virginia Tech vs #21 Clemson

New Weekly Top 25 Polls Posted every Tuesday

Frank Coyle writes ‘College Football Monday’ weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

LSU Pounds Arkansas To Claim #1 Into Conference Title Game

LSU Pounds Arkansas To Stand At #1

'College Football Monday'
Frank Coyle's Blog Column

LSU and Houston Finish Regular Season As the Only Two Unbeatens

Offensive Player of the Week –
RB Trent Richardson - Alabama

Defensive Player of the Week
CB Tyrann Mathieu - LSU

Photo - RB Trent Richardson - Alabama

The final full week of the regular 2011 season is complete with conference championship games on the agenda this week. LSU continues to establish themselves as the #1 club with an impressive 41-17 win over Arkansas after trailing 14-0 in the second quarter. The Tigers are a powerhouse who meets a hot Georgia team this week in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs have won 10 consecutive games since opening the season with two losses. LSU gained their composure vs Arkansas and drilled them with another display of power and speed that has dominated their competition against probably the toughest schedule in the nation. LSU appears headed for a rematch with Alabama who lost their only game to the Tigers 9-6 in early November. Alabama dominated Auburn in their finale to complete an excellent 11-1 season, though only good for second place in the SEC West that is occupied by LSU and Arkansas. Those three clubs ranked 1-3 entering last weekend with LSU and Alabama holding the top two spots while Arkansas fell back in the top ten.

LSU relied on a power ground game and some big plays from QB Jordan Jefferson and corner Tyrann Mathieu to blitz the Hogs. Jefferson had his best game of the season and gets the starting nod from here on thru the BCS bowl games. Mathieu may be the best defensive player in the nation after another outstanding performance. ‘Honey Badger’ has a great nose for the ball and packs a wallop when he gets there to force turnovers. In the key win over Arkansas, he had a team-best eight solo tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one as the top-ranked Tigers completed their regular season undefeated. Mathieu added a 92-yard punt return for a TD as LSU remained undefeated (12-0, 8-0 in SEC West) and earned a spot in next week’s SEC Championship Game.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards (on 27 carries) as the second-ranked Crimson Tide defeated Auburn, 42-14, in the Iron Bowl. Richardson added a five-yard touchdown reception as Alabama improved to 11-1, 7-1 in the SEC West. Richardson is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates entering the final weekend where he will sit out waiting for the Tides feat in the postseason.

Michigan finally beat Ohio St. 40-34 that snapped a 7 game losing streak to their archrival. Michigan QB Denard Robinson accounted for 5 TDs as the Wolverines finished 10-2. Robinson ran for 170 yards on 26 carries, in addition to going 14 of 17 for 167 yards in a terrific overall performance. The Michigan win was huge for first year coach Brady Hoke who will lead the Wolverines in a top tier bowl matchup. Ohio St. named Urban Meyers their new head coach on Monday. The former Florida head coach sat out this year due to minor medical issues. He lead the Gators to two national championships and returns to Ohio St. where he was an assistant coach prior to starting his head coaching career at Bowling Green.

UCLA ran into the Trojans in their cross town rivalry. QB Matt Barkley has been in a zone for weeks and torched the Bruins 50-0. Barkley went 35 of 42 for 423 yards and 6 TDs that ended the Trojans season at 10-2. The Trojans are under NCAA suspension for any postseason activity, though they would rank in the top ten easily if eligible. Barkley had an outstanding season and closed with as impressive a run as any player in the nation, though any Heisman talk was most likely too little too late. UCLA finished 6-6 and earned a berth in the Pac 12’s first championship game vs Oregon. Figure that out.

Houston finished undefeated that ranks them in the top ten. QB Case Keenum broke school, conference and NCAA records weekly over the final months that might earn an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation. Where Houston falls in the bowl season will be interesting with their perfect record intact entering the CUSA title game vs Southern Miss. They hope to possibly challenging for the BCS title if LSU loses over their final two games.

Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead had two punt returns for 54 yards, nine receptions for 112 yards and a TD, and 17 carries for 80 yards and a TD in a 30-13 win over Syracuse on Nov. 26. He finished with 246 all-purpose yards in the game. Pead's performance helped keep the Bearcats alive for a Big East Championship and a BCS bowl berth.

Georgia's Brandon Boykin had an impressive showing against Georgia Tech over the weekend. Boykin will face off with LSU this weekend in the Southeastern Conference Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia. Boykin caught one pass for 28 yards, returned two punts for 4 yards and returned one kick for 60 yards in a 31-17 win over Georgia Tech. On defense Boykin recorded two total tackles, including assisting on a tackle for loss.

The BCS matchup for #1 appears headed for a rematch of LSU and Alabama after last weekend. LSU prevailed 9-6 earlier this season on the road that earned them a huge lead for the #1 ranking entering the final months. They win the SEC West division in the conference that has dominated the national title for five consecutive seasons.

This Week’s Top Games
#1 LSU vs #12 Georgia
#11 Michigan St vs #15 Wisconsin
#7 Houston vs #24 Southern Miss
#5 Virginia Tech vs #21 Clemson

New Weekly Top 25 Polls Posted every Tuesday

Frank Coyle writes ‘College Football Monday’ weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He is also a member of the FWAA and voter in College team and player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Thorpe, etc. He is a voter for weekly Team and Player Awards

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