Beware of these College Football teams

Happy College football season to everyone! College football season has officially kicked off as of last night and thank goodness it is back. All this talk about who is going to win it all and all the speculation can finally be put to the test and we can see for ourselves who is the best in the land. Everyone always wants to talk about the supposedly best teams in college football and who is going to win it all and who can make a run, blah blah blah. The trend of this topic though seems to always be someone from the SEC, Big Ten, etc. I’m here to ask you though, what about the other guys? You know, the teams that win a lot in their non-Power 5 conference but aren’t respected like the teams of Power 5 conferences, the team that could win one big game but questioned on how they could handle a schedule of big games, the teams that are not talked about, but actually the most dangerous in this College Football Playoff system.

Well, for those teams, that’s what it’s all about right now, the forgotten teams of the Group of Five conferences that are already dismissed before the season even begins. So, who from this grouping can make that automatic bid in the New Year’s Day Bowls or even make a push for the college football playoff? I’ve got three teams that I think will give anyone a run for their money this year and possibly put themselves in position to win big this season.

Boise State Broncos

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Sound familiar? It certainly should, because these guys are one of the main reasons these teams get any respect at all. Boise’s run in this century has made them one of college football’s most winning programs in the past 15 years, and they can certainly beat anyone on any given day. People give them flack for moving to the Mountain West instead of a possible joining with a Power 5 conference, but maybe when the offer comes, they will move, but for now this is where they will dominate. Their schedule is not strong by any means; their toughest games appear to be Washington, at BYU, at Utah State, and at Colorado State. Yeah that doesn’t look very impressive, but that’s the hand they are playing this year and with a returning offensive line, and pretty much the whole defense, they are set up well to make a run. They will have a new QB in Ryan Finley, but regardless who the running back is, Boise will ground and pound and if they can open up holes, anyone can run through them. If Finely develops along the season, they can become a complete team and stake a claim at a New Year’s Six Bowl, or maybe even a College Football Playoff spot.

Cincinnati Bearcats

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The projected AAC Champion in my opinion led by their Power 5 experienced coach in Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats can make a claim at a high ranking and stick their nose in the hunt for a New Year Six Bowl and/or playoff spot if one thing can happen for them, and that’s avoiding the injury bug. Past seasons have seen them suffer because of injuries to key positions, QB especially. If they can avoid that, then they could be on their way. They return their QB Gunner Kiel who threw for over 30 TD’s last year and they return a plethora of talent around him. They will be weakest at spots on the offensive line because of lack of experience and areas in the defensive front seven but they have experience that is ready to fill in. If their front seven on defense can control the line of scrimmage, that will give their very experienced and talented secondary chances to make plays. Cincinnati’s schedule doesn’t appear to daunting either, but they must stay focused week in and week out because there are good teams in their conference like USF and UCF. They also have a road trip to BYU that could be troublesome as well as a home game against The “U” which could add to some credibility, maybe, never hurts beating a Power 5 conference team though.

Georgia Southern Eagles

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That’s right, the reigning Sun Belt Champions in their first season in the FBS level. Georgia Southern caught everyone by surprise by going undefeated in conference play and winning the Sun Belt. A traditional powerhouse at the FCS level, with 6 National Championships, Georgia Southern approached last year like those previous glory days, they ran and ran and ran the football. A different look running the triple option, mainly from shotgun and pistol, these Eagles took the conference by storm and managed to finish 9-3 on the year with narrow defeats at NC State and Orange Bowl Champion Georgia Tech. This year they will continue to do more of the same led by running back Matt Brieda, the Eagles will look to continue running and running teams into the ground. They have a new offensive line which could hurt, but all these guys played some last year in back-up roles so there is experience. The defense will remain mostly intact and ready to feast on opposing offenses like they did last year. The Eagles will have tough games in conference against ULM, South Alabama, and hated rival App St. but that just isn’t sexy enough. What is sexy is their out-of-conference schedule including road games at West Virginia and Georgia. Talk about your chance to really make a statement to everyone in college football. If they can manage a couple of big upsets and win their conference, they could very well be in the hunt for a New Year Six Bowl and who knows, maybe even a playoff spot.

Morale of this story is beware of these teams because, in the end, they just might sneak up on everyone in the college football world and stake a claim for a shot at the National Championship.

Fighting For a Spot

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Donald Russell, former Georgia State running back, is fighting for a roster spot on the Atlanta Falcons.

The former Panther stud back is now playing for the home town NFL franchise. He is listed as the 6th running back on the Falcons roster behind tailbacks Steven Jackson, JaQuizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Antone Smith, and fullback Bradie Ewing. The Falcons recently made the move to sign Steven Jackson, and it looks like the only potential playing time at tailback will come between him and JaQuizz Rogers as well as Jason Snelling, the others will be splitting time on special teams.

This would be big for Georgia State if Russell could make the hometown team, because there has been recent success for GSU players making NFL rosters. Russell has the type of potential to create a very recognizable brand for Panther football. The program is making the jump this year into Division 1 and entering the Sun Belt Conference, with Georgia Southern soon to follow.

Georgia Southern and Appalachian State headed to FBS

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These rivals are headed to the Sun Belt conference in the FBS.

Monday, March 25, 2013, these two schools were accepted into the Sun Belt conference and are both rich in history. These two rivals actually became appealing to the Sun Belt as they said they wanted to add an already existing rival. Appalachian State was made popular when they defeated #2 Michigan on the opening weekend of the 2007 season to shock the world. Georgia Southern is famous, especially in the south because of the visions of Erk Russell, former UGA defensive coordinator, who jump started the football program and won 3 national championships for the Eagles. They also have a large following due to now Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson, who won 2 national championships for GSU in the FCS, bringing in his famous spread triple option attack, which is still there today. The Southern Conference is losing its top two programs of recognition, this will be hard for them to replace. These two schools will completely join in 2015, with a transition-type schedule in 2014, and the 2013 schedule will go unchanged.

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This is great news for the state of Georgia, as they will now have four FBS teams to belong to the state. Georgia State is also joining the Sun Belt, just a year sooner, so by the fall they will be playing in the FBS as well. This will put the state of Georgia in the same conversation as Texas, Florida, and California in college football as they have already established themselves on the high school level.

J.J. Wilcox: Draft Prospect Preview

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Playing for the “Greatest Team in America”, as once quoted by the famous Erk Russell, J.J. Wilcox has done everything he can do to put himself in prime position to be the first Georgia Southern Eagle drafted since David Young, who was taken in the 6th round by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003.  Although famous Eagles Tracy Ham and Adrian Peterson garner the Georgia Southern legendary status, Wilcox has a chance to really make his mark like no other Eagle before him this April in the draft and when he gets on the field in the NFL.

Standing at a height of 6’0 and weighing in at 213 pounds, Wilcox is a strong safety that is converted from receiver, where he played his previous three seasons at Georgia Southern.  He was also a returner during his collegiate career.  Even though he played just one full season at safety, he has demonstrated all the skills and talents that made him a great safety his senior year and can make him become a big time safety in the future.  Wilcox was invited to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine where he attracted the attention of every NFL scout.  At the Combine, Wilcox ran a 4.57 in the 40 yard dash, a pretty solid time for a strong safety.  He accomplished 17 reps on the bench, showed off his jumping ability with a 35 inch vertical leap, and displayed his explosion with a 124 inch broad jump.  In the 3 cone drill he posted a time of 7.02 seconds and displayed is top quality quickness in the 20 yard shuttle, having one of the top safety times at 4.09 seconds.  Georgia Southern’s pro day was yesterday, March 15th, where he was just measured and weighed and did not participate in drills.  I mean I don’t blame him, he can’t really help himself anymore than he already has.  He’s already put his best foot forward.

Wilcox displays ideal strength on tackles and fighting off blocks to make the play.  He lacks the overall top speed that scouts salivate over, but he has very good range and can track the ball in the air with the best of them.  He demonstrates good instincts to sniff plays out and put himself in the right position to make the play.  With his experience from playing on offense, he shows off great ball skills and with being an experienced return man, he is very dangerous when he gets his hands on the ball.  These qualities really make him an all around defender, a ball hawk if I may.  He also posses nice leaping ability and body control when making plays on the ball or making tackles.  He is a raw talent because he has only played one season at safety but he has tremendous upside.

A 3rd-4th round pick and a future NFL starter, Wilcox will be a great pick by anyone.  A coach-able player, and a very versatile one, he will make an immediate impact on special teams and when he earns his chance, he will not relinquish his starting spot.  So go out there and GATA Wilcox, you will be great, and soon be a legend among the Eagle Nation.