Saturday, June 8, 2013

Don't Overlook

Miami (7-5; no bowl due to sanctions)
NCAA sanctions due to the Nevin Shapiro scandal overshadowed the solid season that the Hurricanes put together last year. Three of their five losses came against a
team that made it to a BCS Bowl game (Kansas State, Notre Dame, Florida State). Quarterback Stephen Morris had a very productive season and should only improve in his third year as a starter and with his top three receivers coming back. Duke Johnson was an absolute phenomenon last year at running back as a true freshman (947 yards, 6.8 YPC, 10 TD) and averaged less than 12 carries a game. He’ll be looking to handle more carries and put himself in the discussion of The U’s great running backs like Willis MacGahee, Frank Gore, and Clinton Portis. Yet the Hurricanes must improve on defense if they want to make splashes this year. They surrendered 30 PPG and over 400 YPG last year. Al Golden has been putting together solid recruiting classes since arriving in Miami, and if some freshman can be productive, Miami will challenge for the ACC coastal. Tough road games include Florida State and UNC, but getting Florida and Virginia Tech at home will give them a chance to even out. Don’t be surprised if Miami hits double digit wins this year.

 Nebraska (10-4; Lost to Georgia 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl)
 It is tough to get a reading on Nebraska. On the one hand, they win about nine or ten games every year. But they always seem to disappoint and never take that next
step. Such was the case last year when they won ten games but lost four, three of them in spectacular fashion. This is a real make or break year for Bo Pelini. Their quarterback will yet again be Taylor Martinez, who has been under center for three years but never achieved everything he is capable of. He improved through the air last year (23 TD, 10 INT) and is a capable runner (1000 yards, 10 TD) and will take Nebraska as far as he goes. Questions still loom on defense, which was embarrassed in several games last year (Ohio State scored 63, Wisconsin scored 70). The Huskers don’t have to play Ohio State or Wisconsin this year but will travel to Happy Valley and the Big House for pivotal games. Nebraska is looking at another ten win season and to represent the Legends division of the BIG 10 again.

Texas (9-4; Beat Oregon State 31-27 in the Alamo Bowl)
Mack Brown is coaching for his job this year. Ever since Colt McCoy graduated in 2009, Texas has struggled mightily to regain its status as one of college football’s
elite. Inconsistent quarterback play and an uncharacteristically weak defense has caused Texas to slip in the last three years. Last year offered a glimmer of hope for the Longhorns however. While they did get annihilated in three of their four losses, they also had impressive victories in Stillwater, Oxford, and Lubbock and capped it off with a strong finish against Oregon State. Brown has benefitted from recruiting in the most talent-laden state in the Union, and you have to figure that they eventually get their act together. Quarterback David Ash had a good season last year to build on while both running backs (So. Jonathon Gray, Jr. Malcolm Brown) were five  star recruits in their respective classes. Look for the Longhorns to capitalize on a wide open Big 12 race and possibly work their way into the Fiesta Bowl.

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