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College football bowl season is nearly upon us.  It’s always a fun time and there are a number of matchups I’m excited to see.  Here are my top five:

5.  New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Kansas State vs. Syracuse
December 30

Okay, okay, so I’m a little biased here.  Sure the football may be near unwatchable but the Orange are back in a bowl!  Kudos to Coach Marrone for the job he’s done in turning around the program.  I look forward to watching the future progress.

4.  Capital One Bowl – Alabama vs. Michigan St.
January 1

It’s hard to believe that the Crimson Tide lost three games this season.  I expected their running game to dominate everybody but it certainly did not.  The Spartans are a great surprise story who really rallied around their coach.

3.  Allstate Sugar Bowl – Ohio St. vs. Arkansas
January 4

Two of the best college quarterbacks face off in this one with Terrelle Pryor leading the Buckeyes against Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks.

2.  Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. TCU
January 1

TCU takes the Pac-10’s spot in the granddaddy of them all.  This will be the Horned Frogs chance to prove they belong in the discussion about the best teams in college football.  It certainly won’t be easy.  Wisconsin has destroyed their opponents in the last month of the season.

University of Phoenix Stadium

The biggest game of the college football season will take place here at University of Phoenix Stadium

1.  National Championship Game – Oregon vs. Auburn
January 10

This should be a very exciting, fast-paced game.  Soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton looks to continue his dream season against the Ducks.  Oregon is first in scoring and Auburn is sixth – I hope the scoreboard operator is ready.

What bowl games are you most looking forward to?  Post a comment below and let’s discuss.

Photo source: purpcheese

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The cream really started rising to the top last weekend as Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma got important conference wins.  The Crimson Tide were especially impressive as they dominated Florida from the beginning of the game.  The Gators can now only hope to get another shot at them in the SEC Championship game.  At the same time the Ducks started off slow but then took off like a rocket after halftime to roll over Stanford.

Week six will again be highlighted by critical conference battles.  Here’s five questions I’m looking forward to getting the answers to this weekend:

5.  If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?

Fallen Tree

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In other words, when Connecticut plays at Rutgers Friday night and nobody watches will they have really played a game.  I’m sorry, I’m a Syracuse alum and fan, but the Big East is inconsequential to the national scene this year.  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

4.  Can “Shoelace” keep his Heisman hopes alive against Michigan State?

Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, the most dynamic college football player in the nation, and his Michigan Wolverines host intrastate rival Michigan State.  Robinson has gotten hit hard and missed parts of each of the past three games.  Saturday afternoon he’ll have Spartans linebacker Greg Jones hunting him down.  Will he avoid an injury and lead his team to victory?

3.  Will the Hurricanes be the ACC’s shining light?

After three consecutive road games, Miami finally returns home to face rival Florida State.  One of those road games was a loss to Ohio State in which they were not really competitive.  But they’ve seemed to right the ship in the past two games.  The ACC is really struggling and needs the Hurricanes to carry the banner for them after N.C. State dropped it last week and Virginia Tech stomped on it.

2.  How does Florida rebound against undefeated but much-maligned LSU?

The Gators have handily beaten the teams they should but were never really in the game against Alabama.  Of course, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Saturday evening they host the LSU Tigers with a chance to demonstrate what type of season they want to have.  LSU has not yet lost but they’ve been a lot closer to it than their fans would like.  Every game they play seems to be a referendum on head coach Les Miles.

1.   Can South Carolina challenge Alabama?

The Crimson Tide is coming into form as the juggernaut that many expected them to be.  After being taken nearly to the wire by Arkansas, Alabama dominated Florida.  South Carolina is coming off a tough loss at Auburn two weeks ago.  With two weeks to prepare and home field advantage can the Gamecocks beat the Tide?

What do you think the answers will be to the questions I asked above?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: Mary-Lynn

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Unlike many of the expected big college football matchups in 2010, the Alabama-Arkansas game lived up to the hype.  The Razorbacks played quite well in the first half, but a very determined Crimson Tide came out after halftime ready to win.  They gave the ball to Mark Ingram and let him do work.  Meanwhile the defense stepped up and made the plays they needed to win the game.

As we enter the portion of the season where conference play is now the rule instead of the exception, the games become bigger and wins and losses mean more.  The neat thing is that the five games I chose to focus on in week five represent five different conferences.  Here are the five questions I’m looking forward to getting the answers to on Saturday:

Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio

Will Mark Dantonio lead the Spartans to a victory over the Badgers?

5.  Will the return of coach Mark Dantonio inspire Michigan State to beat Wisconsin at home?

Michigan State is 4-0 after four home games with one good win over Notre Dame.  Less than two weeks after a heart attack, their head coach Mark Dantonio will return, likely coaching from the Spartan Stadium coaching box against Wisconsin.  The Badgers are also 4-0 against a pretty weak slate.  This is an important game for the Spartans if they are going to have a successful season, as they will play Michigan, Iowa and Penn State all on the road.

4.  Is North Carolina State for real?

The Wolfpack looks like they may be the cream of the crop in the ACC.  But that may just mean they are the least rotten egg in the carton.  They have a 4-0 record and are 19th in the nation in passing yardage and scoring.  There’s even been whispers about quarterback Russell Wilson joining the Heisman race.  We’ll have a much better idea of how good N.C. State is when they take on Virginia Tech on Saturday.  Although the Hokies suffered a terrible loss to James Madison, they still may be the most talented program in the conference.

3.  Will Texas make up for last week’s loss by beating Oklahoma?

 Texas football suffered a major reality check last weekend, playing very poorly in losing to UCLA at home.  Now they have to get ready for the Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma before heading to Nebraska the following week.  The Longhorns should have no trouble getting up for this big rivalry game against the Sooners.  Texas can pay the favor of having their national championship hopes ruined forward by doing the same to Oklahoma.  The Sooners are coming off a way to close two point win over Cincinnati that was proceeded by a three point win over Air Force.  Oklahoma was considered a sleeper national championship contender before the season but they will clearly have to pick their game up to get there.

2.  Can Stanford take control of the Pac-10 by beating the Ducks at Autzen Stadium?

The Cardinal have come out of nowhere and look like a very serious challenger for the Pac-10 crown.  Potential #1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck has orchestrated the Stanford offense brilliantly, they are fourth in the country in scoring.  On the other side of the ball the defense has been much better than expected and is 12th in points allowed.  But the road to the Pac-10 title goes through Oregon and Stanford will visit Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.  The Ducks have been just as impressive as the Cardinal, leading the nation in scoring and ranking third in points allowed.  Stanford beat Oregon at home last year behind a 223-yard, three touchdown effort by Toby Gerhart.  This could be the game of the year.

1.  Is Florida capable of taking down Alabama?

The Gators started the season on questionable ground but have seemed to settle down over the last two weeks, scoring SEC wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.  Neither of those contests can really be counted as big tests, certainly not to the level of Alabama.  The Crimson Tide have picked up right where they left off last year and are coming off a strong win over Arkansas.  Mark Ingram was back in Heisman form racking up 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against the Razorbacks.  Florida and Alabama have met in the last two SEC Championship Games, with each school getting a win and then going on to win the National Championship.

What matchup are you most looking forward to this weekend?  Who do you like to win the big games?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: avinashkunnath

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Week four of the college football season has the potential to be huge.  There are a couple of games with national championship implications, as well as several conference battles. 

No more setup is needed.  Let’s get right to the five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answers to in week four:

Andrew Luck Takes the Snap

With the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills select...

5.  Will Andrew Luck solidify his NFL Draft footing on the national stage?

Stanford’s quarterback has worked his way up to the top spot on Mel Kiper’s big board.  In the first three games of the season Luck has thrown for 674 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.  This weekend he and the Cardinal head to South Bend, Indiana to take on the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on national television.  Last year he was a solid 14 of 20 for 198 yards but did not throw a touchdown pass against the Irish. 

4.  Can West Virginia earn the Big East some respect in Death Valley?

How daunting is the task for the Mountaineers?  LSU is 52-5 in night games at Tiger Stadium since 2000.  Since bringing on head coach Les Miles the Bayou Bengals are 25-1 in that situation.  Both teams come into the game at 3-0.  If West Virginia can steal a win it will go a long way in earning the Big East respect, but the likelihood of that happening is extremely slim.

3.  Which of the two trendy SEC teams, South Carolina or Auburn, will continue their joy ride?

It may not be the biggest battle in the SEC on Saturday, but make no mistake, the South Carolina-Auburn games is a big one.  The Gamecocks have been riding freshman running back Marcus Lattimore to a 3-0 record and many mentions as a challenger to Florida in the SEC East.  Auburn is coming off a big win over Clemson, bumping their record up to 3-0.  The Tigers are being held up as a challenger to their hated rival, Alabama, in the SEC West.  Whoever wins this game will make a big statement about their intentions.

2.  Will Oregon State derail Boise State’s slim hopes for national championship consideration?

Virginia Tech’s loss to James Madison all but booted the Broncos from national championship contention.  They now need a lot of things to go in their favor to get back into that conversation.  Oregon State has already had a chance to ruin the national championship hopes of a non-BCS contender.  They lost that game on opening weekend to TCU.  Will the outcome be different on Saturday night in Boise?

1.  Can Arkansas end Alabama’s 16 game SEC regular season winning streak?

This is an appointment game – so clear your schedule right now for 3:30 Saturday afternoon.  The Razorbacks have lived up to expectations so far this season going 3-0 on the arm of Heisman front runner Ryan Mallett.  Now comes the ultimate test, #1 ranked Alabama.  Arkansas hopes to rely on Mallett and the home field advantage to get a win over the Crimson Tide.  Alabama got reigning Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram back last week and he looked stellar.  Arkansas is going to have to play their best defensive game of the year to get the win. 

Did I miss the game you are most looking forward to this weekend?  Do you see these matchups in a different light?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: Monica’s Dad

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Well, college football’s Monster Saturday ended up being much more like skittering hamster Saturday.  The ACC teams proved to be not up to the task and Alabama handled Penn State easily.  Thankfully, the Michigan-Notre Dame game had a lot of fireworks and an outstanding performance by Denard Robinson.

There is much less hype in the air as we head into week three of the college football season, with only one matchup between ranked teams.  Maybe that means we’ll end up with a weekend full of competitive and exciting games.  Here are the five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answers to in week three:

Oregon Ducks Autzen Stadium

How many points will this guy score?

5.  Can Oregon score 100 points against Portland State?

I really think this might be possible.  Oregon scored 72 against New Mexico in week one and 35 in the second half at Tennessee.  The Ducks will be at home in Autzen Stadium and ready to spend a lot of time in the end zone in this intrastate rivalry game. (Obviously tongue in cheek)

4.  Can Alabama rush for more than 500 yards at Duke?

A theme is starting to develop here.  With the return of Mark Ingram and the continued growth of Trent Richardson the Crimson Tide promises to tear up the turf at Wallace Wade Stadium.  The Blue Devils gave up 229 yards on the ground last weekend to Wake Forest.  Alabama could come close to that 500 number.

3.  What type of Tiger is more vicious in 2010?

Auburn hosts Clemson in the battle of the felines.  Auburn is coming off a solid SEC West win at Mississippi State on Thursday night.  Led by Florida transfer Cameron Newton, Auburn is being mentioned as a contender to knock off ‘Bama in the West.  There’s really no way of knowing what to expect from Clemson right now.  They’ve opened the season with two joke games.  Now we’ll get to see what Colorado Rockie Kyle Parker can bring to the quarterback position in 2010.

2.  How good can the Iowa Hawkeyes be this year?

Iowa heads to the west coast to take on Arizona in the only matchup of ranked teams this weekend.  The Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats last year 27-17 in Kinnick Stadium behind Adam Robinson’s 101 yards rushing and two touchdowns.  That game was part of a very strong 2009 Iowa campaign in which they finished 11-2 and beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl 24-14.  They’ve looked real good in their two games this year but neither was a real test.  Taking on the Wildcats in Arizona Stadium will be just that.  Arizona will be looking for revenge from last year and will also want to score some respect point for the PAC-10(12).

1.  Will Ryan Mallett solidify his Heisman campaign with a solid outing at Georgia?

ESPN’s Heisman Predictor has Mallett in the driver’s seat after the second week of the college football season.  Arkansas has two wins against subpar competition while Georgia is coming off a tough loss at South Carolina.  It was the Gamecocks running game that really hurt the Bulldogs.  After that loss the Bulldogs will be supremely motivated to beat the Razorbacks in Sanford Stadium in the first big SEC battle of the season.

What games are you most looking forward to this week?  What questions do you hope to get answers to?

Photo source: Don Hankins

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Week two of the college football season may have more big matchups than any other week on the schedule.  But, before we get into the big questions for this upcoming weekend, let’s look at the answers to the questions I asked before week one.  The two biggest statements came from Boise State and TCU, who both proved that they are ready to make a run at a BCS National Championship.  Michigan and Notre Dame also looked impressive in starting out their seasons with wins.

Now…onward.  Here are the five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answer to in week two:

Home of the Florida Gators

Will the USF Bulls challenge the Gators?

5.  Can new head coach Skip Holtz help South Florida steal a win over Florida?

The Gators offense looked sketchy at best during most of their 34-12 win over Miami of Ohio.  The defense played better, intercepting four passes and holding the RedHawks to four yards rushing.  The Bulls crushed Stony Brook 59-14, as they should have, in the debut of Holtz as head coach.  Each team will serve as the other’s first real measuring stick for the 2010 season.

4.  How will Mark Ingram’s likely absence affect Alabama against Penn State?

It is looking more and more likely that Heisman Trophy winner Ingram will miss Saturday night’s game against the Nittany Lions.  His “backup” Trent Richardson may be one of the top five running backs in the nation, but he has not been called on to carry a heavy load in a game by himself.  The Penn State defense is solid, although inexperienced at linebacker.

3.  Can Denard Robinson maintain his momentum when Michigan heads to Notre Dame Stadium?

He still didn’t tie his shoelaces, but Robinson exceeded all expectations in his performance against UConn last weekend, racking up 197 yards rushing on 29 carries and completing 19 of 22 passes for 186 yards.  Can he put up a similar performance against a more skilled defense in hostile territory?

2.  How much of Oklahoma’s poor performance from week one will carry over to week two against Florida State?

The Sooners did not play well in week one against Utah State.  I’m trying not to read too much into the first game of the season, but the fact is Oklahoma gave up 341 passing yards to Diondre Borel and the Aggies.  A stellar, workhorse effort by DeMarco Murray in carrying the ball 35 times for 218 yards got the Sooners the win.  If they gave up 341 yards passing to Borel how many will they give up to Christian Ponder?

1.  Is Miami truly back?

The Hurricanes have been mentioned as a sleeper contender for national championship contention.  Part of that is based on the increase in the level of talent they’ve brought in over the past few years.  The other part is based on the opportunities like this one that lie within their schedule.  Ohio State is clearly a top contender.  If Terrelle Pryor can consistently play the way he did in the Rose Bowl the Buckeyes will play in the national championship game.  This one should be an outstanding battle.

Let me know your week two questions and your predictions in the comments section below.

Photo source: Gregory Moine

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The college football season is finally upon us…now hopefully some cooler weather will follow.  There are always many questions heading into the first week of the college football season.  With new contenders, new coaches, new players, fluctuating schedules and the BCS, there is never a shortage of issues to address.

Here are five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answer to in week one:

5.  How seriously can TCU contend for a national title?

Many people have their eyes on Boise State as the non-BCS school that could be playing for a national championship.  But TCU could have just as good a shot with a preseason #6 rating and comparable schedule.  They open at home against #24 Oregon State on Saturday night and we should get an early indication of how strong the 2010 Horned Frogs will be.

TCU's Matthew Tucker

TCU's Matthew Tucker - Running Toward a BCS Championship?

4.  Was coaching all that was missing from Notre Dame?

New coach Brian Kelly comes to the Irish after winning two consecutive Big East Championships with Cincinnati.  There is little question that Notre Dame still has a lot of talent.  Is Kelly the man to make them successful?  We’ll find out when the Irish play Purdue tomorrow.

3.  How many UNC players will be suspended for the opening game against LSU?

The current word is that 12 Tar Heels will miss Saturday night’s game and three more may be suspended as well.  Among those 12 players are defensive leaders Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn and Kendric Burney, as well as explosive receiver Greg Little and two tailbacks – Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston. Whew, that’s a lot of talent.

2.  Will Michigan take a step toward saving Rich Rodriguez or burying him?

Rodriguez enters his third season with an 8-16 record at Michigan and alumni howling for his departure.  The Wolverines need to show some real progress to save his skin in Ann Arbor.  They open against a game Connecticut team that will be determined to score the upset on Michigan’s home turf.

1.  Can Boise State go into Virginia Tech’s backyard and get the win?

As college football darlings, Boise State was looked upon as the little team that could.  Now that they have built their program to be more successful than many BCS schools and have gotten a #3 preseason ranking there is a big backlash.  The fact is, Boise State has to be considered a serious National Championship contender…IF they can beat the Hokies in D.C.

Please share the questions you are looking forward to getting answered and/or any predictions in the comments section below!

Photo source: SD Dirk

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