OHIO STATE VS NORTHWESTERN 2018
Click here to read my predictions for the other three Power Five conference championships.
When asked how he felt about the upcoming matchup, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said, "I don't think anyone outside these doors would pick us to win this game. My mom and dad, I guess, would. I'm not even sure if my sisters would. But I don't need them. I just need the 74 guys who will put on the purple and white Saturday." Fitzgerald may be right, the odds are not in his favor. The Wildcats have been wildly inconsistent this season and have had a number of close wins that should have been blowouts such as Rutgers and Illinois.
OHIO STATE VS NORTHWESTERN LINE
If we're looking at Ohio State's weaknesses, we should probably begin with their slow offensive starts. In many of their big games, QB Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeyes' receiving corps have taken anywhere from the first quarter to the entire first half to find their rhythm. Many of the Buckeyes' Big 10 rivals, such as Penn State and Maryland have tried to take advantage of this, but only Purdue has succeeded. Unfortunately for Fitzgerald, the Wildcats have only played the Buckeyes twice since 2008 and haven't had a win against them since 2004. This inexperience is just one of many disadvantages Northwestern is facing going into this conference championship.
CLEMSON VS PITT 2018
Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers have their sights set on winning another national championship, but before the Tigers gain a formal invitation to the playoff, they will meet Pittsburgh in the ACC title game Saturday. The Panthers (7-5) earned their spot by winning the Coastal Division of the ACC with a 6-2 record.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP 2018
The Tigers have been the stronger and more powerful team throughout the season with a number of huge blowouts against ACC rivals such as NC State, FSU, Wake Forest and Louisville. Of the all the Power Five conference championships, Clemson has the largest spread margin, but the Tigers would be making a mistake if they took the Panthers lightly. If Pittsburgh can play the Fighting Irish that close on the road, they should not be intimidated when they face the Tigers in the ACC title game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
BEST CFB DEFENSE 2018
There is nothing in Swinney's history to suggest that will happen with so much on the line for the Tigers. Look for Clemson's defense to limit Pickett's opportunities, and Lawrence should be able to have a big game. Clemson arguably is the best CFB defense in College Football Today.
TOP 4 COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS
The College Football Playoff only allows the Top 4 College Football programs to compete in the College Football playoffs for the right to be crowned NCAA Football National Champions. This year, we feel that there are definitely more then four deserving College Football teams and we will be guiding the fans, coaches and players through our 8 team College Football Playoff format and how it would look in College Football Today. Below are links to all of our College Football Top 25 rankings at College Football Today and they have buttons to our news feed, where we make cases for many top 25 teams and why they should be in consideration for moving up or down in the standings.
The Pitt vs Notre Dame Rivalries First Ever Match-Up Was Over 100 Years Ago
As the son of a former Pitt alumni, it was a tough pill to swallow when Notre Dame became the number two ranked team in our College Football Today poll and they kept boasting about how easy Notre Dame's schedule was for the rest of the season. While Pittsburgh is not the Pitt of the late 70's and early 80's, they do know the meaning of this historic rivalry that has featured the likes of Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Russ Grimm, Mark May and even Joe Montana. The list of NFL players these two programs have produced are some of the best to ever play the game, as the New York Times states below, in the article dubbed "The NFL Finds Gold at Pitt", it was in the way these players were coached that made them so highly desirable at the highest level of football.
"The NFL Finds Gold at Pitt"
Some Legacies Never Die
"Presuming that the National Football League is the proper yardstick then the University of Pittsburgh last year had the best college football team of recent times, if not of all time. From the Panther team that won 11 of 12 games, 12 seniors were drafted by the professionals and seven others signed contracts as free agents. Of those 19, eight won starting positions on NFL teams this summer. Hugh Green took over an outside linebacking position on the first day of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp and it is assumed he will hold this job for at least a decade." NY Times - Sept 13, 1981"
The Legend Of Coach Jackie Sherrill
Coach Sherrill played for Coach Paul Bear Bryant, who is considered one of the best football coaches in the history of College Football. The lessons Coach Bryant was able to instill in Coach Sherrill led him to taking over at Pitt, after Johnny Majors retired, where he had been a assistant in prior years. After a 3-8 finish as the Head Coach of Washington State the year before, Sherrill redefined Pitt football and has arguably the most impressive resume of any Pitt football coach in the history of the program. From 1977-1981, Sherrill led Pitt to 50 wins and only suffered 9 losses (1 tie) during his tenure as the Panthers' Head Coach. He is credited for grooming Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino, but also the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wandstedt, Foge Fazio and many other notable successful NFL & College coaches. Coach Sherrill and staff were able to produce an enamoring 23 NFL Draft picks in the 1980 NFL Draft, while 7 of those players went in the first round. Coach Sherrill's teams are considered by far the most talented of All-Time at the University of Pittsburgh, while being revered in history as arguably one of the best 4 year stretches, until Coach Saban arrived at Alabama. As you will notice, 99% of the best coaches in College Football come from this coaching tree and were all taught the same core principles that I teach in my other company Scout Trout. These coaches believed in having no weaknesses across the board, as they knew that they must build and find unique individuals with a particular attitude/skill set to get the job done.
Is Brian Kelly A Modern Day Jackie Sherrill?
While Pitt football prides itself on being tough and has developed that inner city attitude, instead of the Coal Mining attitude that exists in programs like Alabama today, Notre Dame is using intrinsic training methods to simulate adverse situations that will occur in game situations and in life. You may show up to a Notre Dame practice and hear relaxing pop music or even something more soothing to relax the Fighting Irish so that they are not so tense under the immense pressure to win for the Notre Dame faithful. The Notre Dame strength and conditioning program goes above and beyond the standards at other programs, check out the mission statement below.
"The mission of the strength and conditioning staff is to provide a well-designed, collaborative training program based on sound physiological principles. Sport specific focus, experimentally proven methods, safe and productive physical training by means of a periodic plan will be our primary emphasis while maximizing the genetic potential of the student athlete population. Our goal is to provide the student athlete with the best “hands on” strength and conditioning program in the country. In all our endeavors, we are committed to the principles of ethical conduct, integrity and excellence."
Pitt vs Notre Dame October 13th, 2018 at 12:30 EST
Pittsburgh just beat the same team that nearly toppled the nationally revered Clemson Tigers. That being said, Pitt has to travel to Notre Dame and I believe the days of Jackie Sherrill are long gone, as they do not stand a chance up in South Bend, IN this Saturday. I predict Pitt to come in with that same arrogant mentality that we have become accustom to and then we will watch them get smacked square in the mouth by the Brian Kelly led Notre Dame Fighting Irish. As a young man I attended a all Irish catholic school and believe me, when they decide to throw a punch, it stings for a very long time. It has been years since Pitt has had a legitimate contender and maybe one day they will start to instill those Bear Bryant concepts, that were able to produce hardened diamonds that found a way to win. I guess in the end all you can do Pittsburgh Panthers is PROVE ME WRONG!
How Tall Should you be to Play NCAA Football
Big Impact Comes in Small Packages
When football fans and analysts talk about “short” players, they often draw upon NFL greats such as Doug Flutie and Darren Sproles. While both are celebrated athletes, their success on the field is commonly framed as impressive “for their size.” In reality, athletes with lower centers of gravity have a huge advantage in contact sports. It may sound cliché but in football, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” In fact, even “recruiting services” will tell college football prospects that you should be at least a certain height to play at a certain position.
In researching these exceptional athletes, I found that programs unwilling to recruit athletes shorter or lighter than their rigid standards are often the ones who have suffered losing records year after year. However, consistent powerhouses like Alabama, Georgia and Clemson, and even some teams on the rise like FAU, UCF, South Carolina, and Miami utilize offensive and defensive weapons under 5’10 for their punch and agility.
In my experience speaking with both NFL and CFB players under 5'10, they are often confused by various heights they are listed as by different teams and sports reports. For whatever reason, coaches, athletic directors, communications directors, and sports reporters feel the need to add an inch or two when listing players under 6-foot. The truth is there is a huge advantage to having a smaller frame or being closer to the ground and it is absolutely ridiculous that anybody feels the need to do this.
The list below is made up some the top performers in the entire FBS division that are listed under 5'10. Some might be under the radar now because of their size, but very well could be on their way to being first round picks and future NFL sleepers.
DB Jamyest Williams (South Carolina) - 5’8, 182
BleacherReport referred to him as 5’9 when suggesting he was "the next honey badger." I guess he's gotten shorter since high school.
2017 Freshman Season
RB Devin Singletary (FAU) - 5’9
2017 Junior Season
RB J.J. Taylor (Arizona) - 5’6, 180
2017 Sophomore Season
RB D'Andre Swift (Georgia) - 5’9, 215
2017 Freshman Season
RB Adrian Killins Jr. (UCF) - 5’8, 159
2017 Sophomore Season
CB Avery Williams (Boise State) - 5'9, 197
Mountain West 50 Best Football Players & Preseason Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year (2018)
2017 RS Freshman Season
RB James Gilbert (Ball State) - 5’9, 191
2017 Junior Season
RB DJ Knox (Purdue) -5’7, 210
2017 Senior Season
RB Kenny Young (Miami (OH)) - 5’7, 182
2017 RS Junior Season
RB Adam Choice (Clemson) - 5’8, 220 (listed as 5’9 on 247Sports)
2017 RS Senior Season
CB Trajan Bandy (Miami) - 5’9, 175
2017 Freshman Season
WR Evan Johnson (North Texas) - 5’6, 175
2017 Freshman Season
RB Jabir Daughtry-Frye (Troy) - 5’7, 170
*Spent 2017 Sophomore Season recovering from ACL injury
2016 Freshman Season
If you are a college football prospect under 5'10 and would like a chance to compete like the players on this list, you can get the exposure you need at Scout Trout.
The 2018 Clemson Tigers Football Preview
Dabo Swinney's Coaching Philosophy
Over the last three seasons, the Clemson Tigers are 40-4 with two of those wins coming in the playoffs. Over the course of the program’s ascendancy, Dabo Swinney has earned a reputable title for himself as an elite head coach, and has often been compared to Nick Saban as a dominating powerhouse in the world of college football. Many athletes, coaches, and even musicians often don’t like being compared to their competition or even their predecessors, Swinney, a reverent Christian seems to appreciate the comparison, as it indicates to him that he doing something right. Despite the growing rivalry between their two programs, both coaches appear to have the utmost respect for one another.
The Swinney-Saban coaching foundations
Reading and listening to how these two head coaches define their processes, I have noticed some important parallels between their leadership philosophies. According to Swinney, the culture he has installed in the Clemson program is driven by ‘The Why’ of what he, his staff and his athletes do–not just how they do it, but why. As such, his leadership style is highly focused on intent and purpose.
Similarly, in a recent speech given a camp at Alabama, Coach Saban emphasized the importance of choice to the young athletes in attendance. Much like Swinney’s philosophy of why, Saban aims to instill conscientious action and decision-making in his student-athletes. While working for a publication that also covers college football prospects, I have found these lessons are likely the most imperative in guiding young athletes. Half of the submissions we receive from high school athlete requesting help in their recruiting process show a disturbing lack of purpose and sincerity, and it’s clear that the recruit has yet to ask themselves why they want to play college football. I have also seen this pattern of haphazardness in top rated, 4-5-star recruits. I’m not saying it’s wrong or condemnable for an 18 year-old to not have a meticulous life strategy, but it is imperative for rising college football players, FBS or otherwise, to reflect on the whys:
Why do you want to play college football?
Why did you choose to play football in the beginning, and why is it still a big part of your life?
Why do you want to play in college and not in a minor professional league?
Why did you pick the school you play for?
These questions are so important in the recruiting process and in the greater realm of college football because when a young player’s motivations are driven one-dimensionally, they are setting themselves up to make destructive choices and even subconsciously sabotage themselves on the field.
The parallels in leadership between these two powerhouse programs demonstrate why they are where they are and why there will be no shortage of competitive Clemson-Alabama match-ups in future college football playoffs as long as they continue to re-install these core values in these young men.
Coach Saban and Coach Swinney - Building young men through life coaching
Offense: the QB Question
After leading Cartersville High School to two state championships and ending his high school career 52-2 with 13,908 passing yards and 161 touchdowns, breaking several Georgia state records set by former Tiger Deshaun Watson, it's no wonder Tigers fans are clamoring to see the highly recruited Freshman QB Taylor Lawrence perform at the next level. However, those set on seeing the long-haired dual-threat QB start for the Tigers this season are likely to be disappointed. In the eyes of Coach Swinney, none of the freshman's renowned high school achievements or national popularity can equate to Kelly Bryant's experience leading the 2017-18 Clemson Tigers to the playoffs and a 12-2 record (with the only regular season loss resulting from Bryant's absence due to a concussion experienced mid-game).
"Obviously, Kelly's won a conference (championship) and taken us to the playoffs, and he's got great experience," Swinney said. "The other guys are right there and battling."
Much like Saban's, Swinney's coaching philosophy stresses savvy, conscientious decision-making in players. This perhaps why both head coaches trust their more experienced college football QB over the fresher, younger choice, even when the vast majority of fans, critics and popular opinion think otherwise. Though Lawrence's ability as an accomplished passer seem like the obvious solution to Bryant's ineffectiveness in getting the ball downfield on long passes last year, the freshman will be of much better use after spending time learning from a seasoned QB with a winning record and playoff experience. Bryant's passing yards last season may have fell short of the standard set by Clemson, but he still has a lot to offer and should not be dismissed so quickly just before there is a flashy new dual-threat QB in town.
Learn the Story of Kelly Bryant and how he overcame crones disease his junior year of high school!
All-Star Defensive Line
With returners Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, Brent Venables is basically running a pro-level defensive line with a number of backups that would be starters in most other programs. Unlike other CFB Playoff contenders like Georgia who have had to rebuild essential parts of their defense after losing a number of top-preforming players to the NFL Draft, Swinney is working with a highly developed and familiarized defensive unit.
Prediction: 12-0 Before Rematch with Alabama
Last year, the Tigers' only regular season loss was handed to them by Syracuse when QB Kelly Bryant suffered a concussion mid-game. Hopefully, no injuries or harm comes to Kelly, but in case something does happen, Freshman Taylor Lawrence will be ready to step-in and ball. Sh** happens, but as long as the Tigers stay focused and detail-oriented, they should be able to put up an 11-0 regular season and an ACC Conference Title, all leading up to a much anticipated CFB Playoff rematch against Alabama.
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Prediction - Will battle with Clemson for the 2018 ACC-Atlantic title
Following last year's 7-6 record (3-5 conference), FSU seems like a far-reaching candidate for the CFP. However, according to ESPN's Phil Steele, the Seminoles are likely to make a surprise playoff run. While many would call the loss of Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M a major setback for the Seminoles, FSU's AD Stan Wilcox is incredibly optimistic about incoming head coach Willie Taggart. In fact, Taggart was ranked in the Top 40 Head Coaches at the FBS level by Athlon Sports, even going so far to say that, “he should have no trouble elevating Florida State back into contention for the ACC title in the near future.” What's more, they've had some of the best recruiting classes seen in the past 4 years.
DB Jaiden Woodbey - (Fr.)
WR Nyqwan Murray - (Sr.)
LB Leonard Warner III - (So.)
QB Deondre Francois - (Jr.)
QB James Blackman - (So.)
RB Cam Akers - (So.)
With a healthy Deondre Francois, in addition to second-year players, James Blackman and Cam Akers, FSU has one of the best young backfields in the NCAA. With such a powerful offense, and a defense rebuilding itself on speed and athleticism, not to mention an outstanding recruiting class, the Seminoles are setting themselves up to be highly successful in the coming seasons--if not this coming Fall.
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