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BYU starts Top 20 with Max outlook

Aug 26, 2008 7:06 PM

Feist Facts by Jim Feist | The countdown continues!

Last week we looked at my Top 21-40. This week it’s my Top 20 just in time for the opening week of college football, which begins Thursday.

20. BYU: Bronco Mendenhall has done a masterful job for the Cougars, with high-flying offenses and attacking defenses. The offense was electric, averaging 31 points, 153 yards rushing and 304 passing. Junior QB Max Hall (3,848 yards, 26 TDs, 12 picks) is among 10 starters returning on offense!

MWC Freshman of the Year Harvey Unga anchors the ground game after rolling for 1,227 yards (5.0 per carry) and 13 TDs. BYU has a tough schedule – at Washington plus Sept. 13 against UCLA. However, the Cougars are the favorite to roll to another MWC title.

19. Kansas: The Jayhawks won college basketball’s national title and the football team is off a 12-1 SU, 11-1 ATS campaign. 2007 Coach of the Year Mark Mangino is fortunate to have senior quarterback Todd Reesing, who had a terrific junior campaign with 33 TDs, 7 INTs and 3,486 yards.

This offense was deadly, averaging 42.8 points, 189 yards rushing and 290 passing. The main concern is the offensive line. New defensive coordinator Clint Bowen takes over a unit that allowed 16 points per game and has nine starters back. Kansas is 18-4 SU, 13-6 ATS at home the last three seasons.

18. Tennessee: The Vols have gone 9-4 and 10-4 SU the last two seasons (10-4 ATS last year). Coach Phil Fulmer returns nine starters on offense and seven on defense, but loses offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe and four-year starting QB Erik Ainge. First-year offensive coordinator Dave Clawson, the ex-Richmond coach, is laying the foundation for his new system.

The key will be 6-4 junior QB Jonathan Crompton behind center. Senior tailback Arian Foster (1,193 yards, 12 TDs) runs behind an entire returning offensive line that led the nation in fewest sacks allowed. The Vols return 10 starters on defense. Tennessee was 8-0 SU, 7-1 ATS at home in 2007 and is 17-10 SU/16-10-1 ATS on the road the last five seasons.

17. Michigan St: The Spartans have got a terrific coach in Mark Dantonio, who preaches aggressive, hard-hitting football. Senior QB Brian Hoyer returns after throwing for 2,725 yards, 20 TDs and 11 INTs. This offense was outstanding, averaging 34 points, 200 yards rushing (4.5 ypc) and 231 passing in Big 10 play.

MSU allowed 125 rushing per game under Dantonio. Five starters return on defense, led by senior DE Nick Smith. Michigan State is 6-14 ATS its last 20 home games, though 4-1 ATS as a dog under Dantonio. This offense should be strong and Michigan State was 9-4 over the total in 2007.

16. Texas Tech: Coach Mike Leach has quite a system in place. He plugs players into an offensive system without a playbook. Meanwhile, his pass-happy attack just keeps churning along. Tech is off a 9-4 season, averaging 470 yards passing and 41 points. Unlike last season, the offense is loaded with everyone back.

The high-flying attack starts with senior QB Graham Harrell, who passed for 5,705 yards, 71.8 percent completions, 48 TDs and 14 INTs. There are experienced receivers led by amazing junior WR Michael Crabtree, who had 134 catches for 1,962 yards, 22 TDs. The Red Raiders are 14-10 over the total the last two years and 30-6 SU, 23-11 ATS its last 36 home games.

15. Va Tech: Coach Frank Beamer’s defense allowed just 16 ppg. The offense is a ball control unit with six starters back. The offensive line has four returning starters, plus experienced QBs senior Sean Glennon and mobile sophomore Tyrod Taylor.

Last year the Hokies went 8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS in the ACC. The road schedule is tough, but Virginia Tech is a stellar 5-1 SU/ATS its last six on the road.

14. Alabama: It was a strange season for coach Nick Saban, starting 6-2, then losing four in a row. The Crimson Tide salvaged the season with a win over Colorado in a bowl, but also had the humiliating 21-14 loss to UL-Monroe in Tuscaloosa. Bama lost four games by seven points, including a 41-34 defeat to eventual champion LSU. Even oddsmakers were perplexed with Bama’s 4-8 ATS mark under Saban.

Alabama under Saban prefers the power running game, averaging 149 yards rushing and 27 ppg. There are nine starters are back on offense and six on defense. The passing game has senior QB John Parker Wilson (18 TDs, 12 picks) and the ground game is deep with soph RB Terry Grant (891 yards). Alabama is 8-4 over the total under Saban, including 7-1 in the SEC. The early part of the schedule is easy so they can pile up some wins if able to beat Clemson in the season opener at the Georgia Dome.

13. LSU: The Tigers lost two games last season (both in triple overtime), but still found their way to the national title game. They flattened Ohio State, giving fourth-year Head Coach Les Miles his first title. LSU returns seven starters on offense and five on defense. Last year the Tigers averaged 38 points, 220 yards rushing and 229 passing.

The key for 2008 is to find a quarterback after Matt Flynn graduated and junior Ryan Perrilloux was released. Junior QB Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee are in the mix. This offensive line is awesome and the ground game returns senior RB Keiland Williams and junior Trindon Holliday. Four of the top five RBs averaged over six yards per carry! LSU is 11-3 SU, 6-5 ATS its last 14 on the road.

12. S. Carolina: Coach Steve Spurrier has six starters back on offense and 10 on defense. Spurrier hasn’t had a running game at South Carolina, and last year’s team chucked it a lot, averaging 25 points, 277 pass yards and 94 yards rushing in SEC play.

Spurrier likes fourth-year junior QB Tommy Beecher, though Beecher has never started a game and thrown just 25 passes in college. They are loaded at wideout with senior WR Kenny McKinley (968 yards), senior Freddie Brown and freshman WR C.C. Whitlock, a top recruit. The defense returns almost everybody. Spurrier is 9-6 SU, 11-4 ATS on the road at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are also 14-9 over the total the last two years.

11. Penn St: Joe Paterno has a stocked defense for 2008, along with a terrific offensive line. This offense is about balance, averaging 30 points, 193 yards rushing and 206 passing. They lost QB Anthony Morelli so it’s up to senior QB Daryll Clark, a better runner than passer.

Junior RB Evan Royster (6.3 yards per carry) and speedy redshirt freshman RB Stephfon Green will be working behind one of the top O-line’s in the country. The defense allowed 17 points per game, 93 rushing yards, just 2.7 yards per carry. The Lions are 21-2 SU, 15-7 ATS their last 23 at home.

10. W. Virginia: Rich Rodriguez is gone, but Bill Stewart stepped in as interim coach last December and impressed in West Virginia’s 48-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma. Stewart received the full-time job and has eight starters back on offense, four on defense.

This offense averaged 39 points and 297 yards rushing and returns senior QB Pat White (14 TDs, 4 INTs), who ran for 1,335 yards, 14 TDs, 6.8 yards per carry. A guy to watch is sophomore RB Noel Devine, who ran for 627 yards, a sizzling 8.6 yards per carry. This team is 15-2 SU, 13-4 ATS their last 17 away.

9. Auburn: Coach Tommy Tuberville’s Tigers are loaded for this season, with eight starters back on offense and six on defense. Tuberville likes a power running team, averaging 157 yards per game on the ground. That should be the staple again with sophomore QB Kodi Burns, senior RB Brad Lester and junior tailback Ben Tate (903 yards, 4.5 ypc).

They have a new offensive coordinator in Tony Franklin, in addition to an influx of speedy receivers. First-year defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads inherits a unit that has six starters back to a ‘D’ that allowed 16.9 points, 3.6 ypc, and just 173 yards passing per contest. Auburn is 14-3 SU, 13-5 ATS the last four years on the road and 13-4 ATS its last 17 as a dog.

8. Missouri: Mizzou was explosive offensively, averaging 40 points, 176 yards rushing and 314 yards passing. The news for 2008 is great with 16 starters back as Head Coach Gary Pinkel’s squad was 12-2 SU, 11-2 ATS. The Tigers have ace senior quarterback Chase Daniel, who threw for 4,306 yards, 33 TDs and 11 picks. There is outstanding height and depth at wideout, with 6-foot-6 senior TE Chase Coffman (531 yards, 7 TDs) and junior WR Jeremy Maclin (1,055 yards).

Mizzou is also stocked on defense, allowing just 3.6 yards per rush. The Tigers were a bit vulnerable defending the pass, yielding 257 yards per game. Pinkel has experimented with some no-huddle and spread formation tactics used by Urban Meyer at Utah and Florida, so the offense will score plenty again. Mizzou was 9-4 over the total.

7. Texas: Mack Brown’s Longhorns are loaded on offense, a unit that averaged 37 points, 207 yards rushing and 255 passing. Junior QB Colt McCoy had a strong season, though a little turnover prone, with 3,303 yards, 22 TDs and 18 picks. McCoy is an excellent runner with 492 yards, second on the team. Texas is 6-1 SU/7-0 ATS its last seven as a dog.

The running game has speedy junior RB Vondrell McGee. Defensively, Texas has a new look with former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. He is trying to install a more physical defense like ones he ran at LSU and Auburn. The Longhorns are 28-10 over the total the last three seasons.

6. Florida: A very young team last fall went 9-4 SU/ATS with some ups and downs, but Head Coach Urban Meyer welcomes back seven starters on offense and eight on defense. The triple-option attack was deadly in 2007, averaging 42 points, 201 yards rushing and 251 passing. Junior QB Tim Tebow is a fullback and quarterback, pocketing his first Heisman Trophy with 3,286 passing yards, 32 TDs and 6 INTs. For a bonus he rushed for 895 yards and 23 TDs!

Senior WR/RB Percy Harvin was second in rushing with 764 yards, an incredible 9.2 yards per carry, and caught 59 passes for 858 yards. They also pick up former USC RB Emmanuel Moody. With so much offensive talent, Florida is developing a no-huddle attack designed to wear down opposing defenses. Some defensive breakdowns were why the Gators went 10-2 over the total.

5. Clemson: The 2008 Tigers are loaded, returning seven starters on offense and eight on defense. This is the best team Head Coach Tommy Bowden has ever had. The offense has exceptional balance behind senior QB Cullen Harper, who dazzled with 2,991 yards, 27 TDs, 6 INTs. Top WR senior Aaron Kelly returns after leading the Tigers with 88 grabs and 1,081 yards, 11 TDs, while the running game has senior James Davis (1,064 yards, 5.0 ypc, 10 TDs) and junior C.J. Spiller (768 yards, 5.3 ypc). Davis flirted with the NFL but decided to return to school for 2008.

The defense was dominant in ACC play, allowing 18 points, 87 yards rushing, 3.0 ypc, and 140 yards passing per game. The Tigers return run stuffer senior Rashaad Jackson. Keep an eye on freshman DE DaQuan Bowers, a heralded recruit. Clemson is 6-4 SU, 9-1 ATS as a dog the last three years.

4. Georgia: The SEC has had two straight teams win the national title (Florida, LSU). Georgia wants to make it three straight. The Bulldogs (11-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) were a beast last season, winning their final seven games (6-1 ATS). Head Coach Mark Richt welcomes back seven starters on offense and eight on defense. This offense is balanced, averaging 32 points, 177 yards rushing (4.5 ypc) and 198 passing, led by junior Matthew Stafford (19 TDs, 10 picks) and sophomore Tailback Knowshon Moreno (1,334 yards, 5.4 ypc, 14 TDs).

The defense is loaded, allowing 20 points and 3.3 yards per rush. The Dawgs have high hopes, but play a tough schedule with road games at South Carolina, Arizona State, LSU, Kentucky and Auburn, along with the neutral site battle against Florida. Note: Georgia is 29-8 SU/23-14 ATS on the road under Richt.

3. USC: Eighth-year head coach Pete Carroll is stocked despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL. The Trojans return 11 starters (four on offense, seven on defense). Junior QB Mark Sanchez is coming back from an August kneecap injury so sophomore QB Mitch Mustain (a transfer from Arkansas) will give him a run.

The ground game averaged 198 yards and has a loaded backfield. The defense is also stocked, with seven starters back. USC allowed more than 24 points only once in going 10-3 under the total. The Trojans were second nationally in both total defense (273) and scoring defense (16 ppg). USC is 59-6 SU, 39-26 ATS the last five years, including 32-1 SU and 21-12 ATS at home.

2. Oklahoma: The Sooners have a powerhouse team, one that outscored opponents by a 42-20 average. Coach Bob Stoops has another terrific offense behind 6-foot-5 sophomore QB Sam Bradford, one that averaged 190 yards rushing and 258 passing. Bradford was spectacular as a redshirt freshman, with 3,121 yards, 36 TDs, 8 INTs, and has top targets back, led by senior WR Juaquin Iglesias (907 yards).

The ground game is loaded with sophomore RB DeMarco Murray (764 yards, 6.0 ypc) and junior RB Chris Brown. The defense allowed 3.3 yards per rush and 338 total yards per game. The star of the recruiting class is potential stud defensive end R.J Washington. Oklahoma is 14-3 SU, 10-5 ATS at home the last two seasons.

1. Ohio State: No one likes to get blasted in a championship game, but how about twice? That’s what Ohio State has been through the last two years. However, there’s plenty of good news for this season, with much of the offense back, plus the return of LB James Laurinaitis, OT Alex Boone, and CB Malcolm Jenkins for their senior seasons. The offense in 2007 was balanced, averaging 32 points, 203 yards rushing and 195 passing.

The 6-foot-5 senior QB Todd Boeckman returns (25 TDs, 14 INTs) along with junior RB Chris Wells (1,609 yards, 5.9 ypc, 15 TDs). The experienced defense should be just as dominating, allowing 10.7 points, 80 yards rushing, 2.6 ypc, and 148 passing per game. Ohio State is 41-3 SU, 27-14-1 ATS their last 44 home games. The biggest game of the season could be a road game at USC on Sept. 13th.

Copyright 2008 GamingToday
Feist’s 2nd 20
21.
Illinois
22.
UCLA
23.
Oklahoma St
24.
Arizona St
25.
So. Florida
26.
Wisconsin
27.
Texas A&M
28.
Oregon
29.
So. Miss
30.
California
31.
Michigan
32.
Boston Col
33.
Boise St
34.
Colorado
35.
Florida St
36.
Fresno St
37.
Virginia
38.
Utah
39.
Georgia Tech
40.
C. Michigan