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Preseason Magazines

 

July 22nd

Athlon rates Top 25 Breakout quarterbacks for 2017 … Steven Montez in at No. 7

From Athlon Sports … It’s no secret quarterback play is an integral part of every college football team and its hopes of winning a national title, contending for a conference championship or simply making a bowl. And if you need any evidence, take a look at last year’s CFB Playoff contenders. Alabama (Jalen Hurts), Washington (Jake Browning) and Penn State (Trace McSorley) each had a breakout player under center. While quarterback play is essential to every team, this position is also the most difficult one to judge, rank or evaluate. With the uncertainty and difficulty in evaluating this position, it should come as no surprise that a handful of names emerge as breakout stars during every college football season.

With fall practice around the corner, Athlon Sports is taking a look at some of the breakout candidates for 2017. The first installment in the offseason breakout player series begins with the most important position – quarterback play. Of course, determining what player fits the breakout tag isn’t easy. In order to limit the choices and develop a criteria, Athlon Sports decided to include quarterbacks with less than 15 career starts for this list.

Who are the next breakout stars at quarterback for 2017? Athlon has compiled 25 names to watch, along with a few others to consider.

7. Steven Montez, Colorado

Sefo Liufau was a key cog in Colorado’s Pac-12 South title last season, but even though he’s expired his eligibility, the offense isn’t going to miss a beat. Coach Mike MacIntyre’s group returns nine starters on this side of the ball, including one of the nation’s top receiving corps, standout running back Phillip Lindsay and four starters up front. Additionally, MacIntyre and co-coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren got a glimpse of the future when Montez filled in for Liufau due to injuries in 2016. In 10 overall appearances (and three starts), Montez threw for 1,078 yards and nine touchdowns. The Texas native torched Oregon for 333 yards and three scores in a 41-38 victory in Eugene. Additionally, Montez showcased his mobility by contributing 231 yards and one score on just 52 carries. With a full offseason to work as the starter, Montez will be more comfortable and even better in his second year of playing time at the controls in Boulder.

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July 19th

Athlon … Take the over on CU at seven wins

From Athlon … Let me start my overview of the Pac-12 by saying USC is back and this is great not only for the conference, but also for college football in general. The past few seasons haven’t been good to Trojans fans, but now they are back in the mix for a College Football Playoff appearance and possible national title.

Washington should continue to build off of its successful 2016 campaign as well. Outside of those two, it remains to be seen if any other team wants to be a part of the Pac-12 title mix.

Here’s a look at the win totals for each Pac-12 team. I’ll give my thoughts on each team although there won’t be a selection for every squad. In making my determination, I consider everything from returning starters to offseason news and schedule.

Note: Over/under odds courtesy of the South Point Casino sports book

Colorado Buffaloes

(Over 7 -105…Under 7 -115)

Outside of losing QB Sefo Liufau, the Buffaloes’ offense is pretty much intact. There are a lot of reasons to like the new signal-caller, Steven Montez, who made three starts last season. He has plenty of weapons to throw to, namely Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross. Philip Lindsay also returns after rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 touchdowns. The defense is expected to take a step back, however, following the loss of eight starters and coordinator Jim Leavitt. D.J. Eliot comes over from Kentucky and will look for similar results from a relatively inexperienced group. Special teams will be a question mark as well after last season’s struggled. Colorado’s first true road game isn’t until Sept. 30 at UCLA. I think seven is a good number with a lean to the over if the defense figures things out.

Pacific Takes … CU’s defensive line not as bad as others project

From Pacific Takes … “Ranking the 2017 Pac-12 defensive lines: Washington and Utah have best defensive lines”

1. Washington

2. Utah

3. USC

4. Washington State

5. Stanford

6. Arizona State

7. California

8. Colorado (DE Jase Franke Jr. DE Leo Jackson III Sr. DE Timothy Coleman Sr. DE Michael Mathewes Sr. DE Frank Umu So.)

The Buffs had a mass graduation loss after 2016, but they Mike MacIntyre has done a good job of keeping this unit stocked with talent.

9. UCLA

10. Oregon

11. Oregon State

12. Arizona

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July 18th

Athlon rates CU’s schedule from easiest to most difficult

From Athlon Sports … The Colorado Buffaloes put together a dream season in 2016, breaking an eight-year postseason drought in a big way by winning the Pac-12 South Division. Colorado also put together its first 10-win season since 2001. Despite back-to-back blowout losses to close the 2016 campaign out, the Buffaloes entered the offseason with more momentum than they have had in more than a decade.

Simply put, expectations have been raised in Boulder. Colorado returns nine starters on offense, including running back Phillip Lindsey, who gained 1,252 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on the ground last season. A deep and talented receiving corps also is back for sophomore quarterback Steven Montez, who got his feet wet with three starts last season in place of an injured Sefo Liufau.

Despite loads of inexperience on defense and the loss of coordinator Jim Leavitt to Pac-12 rival Oregon, the 2017 Buffaloes are expected to be a threat in the division once again and should make it back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 2004-05. The schedule sets up pretty well with three manageable non-conference games and a Pac-12 slate that doesn’t seem too daunting, especially on the road.

As a bonus, the two toughest opponents on the schedule must travel to a newly rejuvenated Folsom Field – one in September and the other in November, giving Colorado ample time to prepare for both.

Read through the entire list here (I may have swapped Washington and USC, but it’s a minor quibble) …

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July 17th

Athlon rates college football hires since 2012 (Mike MacIntyre: “Holding Steady”) 

From Athlon Sports … In 2012, the SEC’s perceived dominance over the rest of college football was an unquestioned fact of life in the sport. Five years later, the conference with the most money, most fertile recruiting base and most passionate following looks like a shadow of its best self, reduced to Alabama and the 13 Dwarves. What the heck happened?

There are enough different answers to that to keep radio call-in shows in business for another five years. But a good place to start is on the sideline: Twelve of the SEC’s 14 teams have replaced their head coach in that span — all of them except Bama and Mississippi State — with underwhelming returns, to say the least.

… To put that situation into context, we’ve ranked the eleven full-time SEC hires from 2012-16 alongside the rest of the hires in the Power 5 conferences in the same span, divided into seven categories based on their performance to date.

From the Pac-12 … 

HOME RUNS – Nationally relevant with no end in sight:

3. Chris Petersen, Washington (2014- ) Unlike most coaches making the step up from a mid-major program, Petersen was arguably taking a bigger gamble on Washington when he agreed to leave Boise State than U-Dub was on him. On the heels of last year’s playoff run, though, the move looks like a mutual master stroke: The Huskies are atop the Pac-12 pecking order for the first time in ages, and suddenly the national title shot that kept slipping through Petersen’s grasp in Boise looks like it could be within reach in Seattle on a regular basis.

HOLDING STEADY – On the right track, but yet to win big:

3. Mike Leach, Washington State (2012- ) It took a little longer than expected, but with back-to-back winning seasons in 2015-16, Leach has fulfilled his mission of pulling Wazzu out of a decade-long tailspin. Whether he’ll ever have the talent at his disposal to seriously contend for a Pac-12 title is another question.

5. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado (2013- ) MacIntyre won as many games in his fourth year in Boulder (10) as he won in his first three years combined, a testament to the patience he was afforded along the way. Keeping the Buffs in the black after a decade-plus of futility may require just as much patience.

TRENDING UP – Fledgling tenures off to a promising start:

2. Clay Helton, USC (2015- ) Helton’s debut ran the gamut, from the depths of a 1–3 September — including, most memorably, a 52–6 humiliation at the hands of Alabama in the season opener — to the heights of a nine-game winning streak following freshman Sam Darnold’s promotion to QB1. With Darnold entrenched in Year 2, it’s a safe bet that, a) the Trojans will be universally hyped (yes, again) as playoff frontrunners; and b) this time they’ll actually deserve it.

THE THRILL IS GONE – Entrenched, but perhaps not for much longer:

3. Jim Mora, UCLA (2012- ) There’s no way to separate UCLA’s 4–8 flop in 2016 from the shoulder injury that sidelined quarterback Josh Rosen at midseason — the Bruins finished 1–5 in his absence — and it’s entirely possible that Rosen’s return will be enough to flip that record this fall. Still, after years of highly touted recruiting classes, there was no excuse for such a sudden, total collapse.

5. Todd Graham, Arizona State (2012- ) The Sun Devils dropped seven of their last eight in 2016, yielding at least 37 points in all seven losses. Only one other FBS defense allowed more yards per play. When the status quo is that bad, even steep improvement might not be enough to keep Graham off the chopping block.

6. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (2012- ) Rich Rod achieved enough in his first four seasons in Tucson, including a Pac-12 South title in 2014, to write off last year’s 3–9 collapse as a mulligan. But certainly not enough to buy him another.

JURY’S OUT – Fledgling tenures yet to move the needle either way:

6. Gary Andersen, Oregon State (2015- ) Andersen’s decision to trade a high-profile gig at Wisconsin for the relative obscurity of Corvallis seemed like a bizarre move at the time, and his 6–18 mark in the meantime hasn’t exactly vindicated the choice.

BUSTS – The not-so-dearly departed:

1. Mark Helfrich, Oregon (2013-16) Helfrich won 33 games in his first three seasons, mentored Marcus Mariota and brought the Ducks to the cusp of a national title — a good run, all in all, even if the high points have already been retroactively credited to the foundation laid by Helfrich’s old boss, Chip Kelly. But whatever remained of that foundation was reduced to rubble in 2016.

3. Sonny Dykes, Cal (2013-16) Dykes left Cal in better shape than he found it, which isn’t saying much given what he inherited in 2013. After three losing seasons in four years, the decision to pull the plug in December felt mutual. Dykes will be more at home this season in his native Texas, working as an analyst for TCU.

8. Steve Sarkisian, USC (2014-15) Sarkisian coached just 18 games at USC before his apparent alcoholism overwhelmed his job. The Trojans are on more solid footing today under Clay Helton, and hopefully Sarkisian is, too, as the new offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

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July 13th

The Sporting News ranks all 130 college football coaches

The Sporting News has posted its 2017 rankings of the coaches in college football. Below is a list from the Pac-12 (change from 2016 in parentheses. Mike MacIntyre made the largest leap, jumping 67 spots (the next greatest jump I could find was P.J. Fleck, who moved up 40 spots to No. 39 after leaving the MAC for Minnesota).

The Pac-12 … 

82. Justin Wilcox, California (N/R)

64. Gary Andersen, Oregon State (68)

46. Willie Taggart, Oregon (75 … at USF)

42. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona (31)

40. Todd Graham, Arizona State (30)

33. Jim Mora, UCLA (29)

31. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado (98)

26. Mike Leach, Washington State (28)

24. Clayton Helton, USC (45)

20. Kyle Whittingham, Utah (26)

7. David Shaw, Stanford (11)

6. Chris Petersen, Washington (14)

… Also … 

118. Everett Withers, Texas State (103)

86. Mike Bobo, Colorado State (84)

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July 12th

Washington “Dawg Pound”: “People might be surprised by what Colorado might present as an encore”

From the Dawg Pound … In my mind, Colorado is right there with Utah and UCLA in chasing after USC in the South. I give them points for overall balance between position groups, deep overall experience levels across their two-deeps and strong coaching. They don’t necessarily have the same kind of athletes that the LA schools have and they clearly have questions along the defensive line. That mix of pros and cons sets up a really interesting drama for the South division.

I do like Colorado’s schedule. Though they only have four conference home games, their misses are Stanford and Oregon – two teams that they don’t match up well against. They have a couple of winnable road games – @ Oregon State and @ Arizona State – which you always like to see and they have a very manageable OOC slate. The big concern is that their BYE week comes in the second to last weekend of the season just after they play their home showdown against USC. Ouch.

Still, Colorado has the gift of depth which Coach Mac has painstakingly developed over the past several years. That ought to help him ride out the bumps and bruises that come along with a schedule like that. Ultimately, I think Colorado is right there in the mix in the South.

They could win between four and six conference games depending on a few breaks here and there. I’m not sure that they can repeat their trip to the PAC 12 title game, but don’t expect the Buffs to go the way of Nelson.

This is a good football team primed for a good season.

… Full story (which is worth your time) can be found here

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July 11th

Pacific Takes – CU has one of the “scariest” offenses in the Pac-12

From Pacific Takes … Ranking the Pac-12 offensive units from top to bottom

1. Washington (Stars: QB Jake Browning Jr. RB Myles Gaskin Jr. WR Dante Pettis Sr. C Coleman Shelton Sr. T Trey Adams Jr. T Kaleb McGary Sr.)

The Huskies lost outrageous athlete and big play machine John Ross from 2016, but not too much else. Browning and Gaskin come back with another year of experience and Pettis is poised to be the new number one target after scoring 16 TDs in 2016. The offensive line returns four starters include the two best offensive linemen in the conference in my opinion in Shelton and Adams.

2. Colorado (RB Phillip Lindsay Sr. WR Shay Fields Sr. T Jeromy Irwin Sr. QB Steven Montez So. G Gerrad Kough Sr.)

The Buffs lose four-year starter at quarterback Sefo Liufau, but Steven Montez might already be better than Liufau and hopefully less injury prone. Lindsay and Fields could easily be the best running back and receiver in the conference. The offensive line returns a ton of talent, including first-team-level tackle Irwin.

3. USC (QB Sam Darnold So. RB Ronald Jones Jr. WR Deontay Burnett Jr. G Viane Talamaivao Sr. C Toa Lobendahn Jr. TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe So.)

Sam Darnold looks like the biggest difference maker in the conference coming into 2017 and that goes a long way. They have a lot of stars to replace, but the Trojans have blue chip talent waiting in the wings and a quarterback who is a defensive nightmare.

Continue reading story here

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July 9th

College Football News – the most dire CU predictions yet

From the College Football News

2017 Preseason Prediction: 4-8
2017 Preseason Pac-12 Prediction: 2-7

Sep. 1 Colorado State (in Denver) L
Sep. 9 Texas State W
Sep. 16 Northern Colorado W
Sep. 23 Washington L
Sep. 30 at UCLA L
Oct. 7 Arizona W
Oct. 14 at Oregon State L
Oct. 21 at Washington State L
Oct. 28 California W
Nov. 4 at Arizona State L
Nov. 11 USC L
Nov. 18 OPEN DATE
Nov. 25 at Utah L

Pac-12 Predicted Finish

PAC-12 NORTH

1. Washington
2. Stanford
3. Oregon
4. Washington State
5. California
6. Oregon State

PAC-12 SOUTH

1. USC
2. UCLA
3. Utah
T4. Arizona
T4. Arizona State
6. Colorado

CU a victim of recency bias in failing to gain any national Top 25 recognition

From the Daily Camera … While “The Rise” of the Colorado football program was certainly real in 2016, it wasn’t enough to convince the nation that the Buffaloes are here to stay.

It’ll be a few weeks before the Associated Press unveils its preseason Top 25 for college football, but if preseason publications are an indication, the Buffs likely won’t be ranked.

After going 10-4, winning the Pac-12 South division and finishing at No. 17 in the final AP poll, the Buffaloes aren’t projected to be among the Top 25 going into this year.

National publications Athlon and Lindy’s both rank all 130 teams, with CU sitting at No. 34 (Athlon) and No. 41 (Lindy’s). Street & Smith’s only ranks the top 25, with CU not included.

Phil Steele has a Preseason Top 40 (in which he ranks 56 teams, for some reason) and a Power Poll of all 130 teams. CU isn’t among Steele’s Top 40 (or 56), but sits at No. 40 in the Power Poll.

Of the 25 teams that landed in the final AP poll from last year, only three have received zero Top 25 recognition from the publications listed above: Colorado, Western Michigan and San Diego State. The other 22 are on multiple Top 25 lists, with 18 of them on all four lists.

Continue reading story here

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July 7th

Orlando Sentinel – CU the No. 49 team in the nation 

From the Orlando Sentinel (which has traditionally not been a big fan of CU football):

The Colorado Buffaloes are No. 49 in the Orlando Sentinel 2017 preseason college football rankings. The Buffaloes are expected to feature a strong offense, but the inexperienced defense needs to improve quickly in order to build on last season’s success.

Today at No. 49: Colorado Buffaloes

Coach: Mike MacIntyre (20-31, entering fifth season; 40-52 overall)

2016 record: 10-4, 8-1 in the Pac-12 conference, first in South Division

Look back: Few programs have improved as much from one season to the next as the Colorado Buffaloes did in 2016. The team went from four wins in 2015 to 10 wins in 2016. It was the first time the program won double-digit games since 2001. In the process, Colorado captured its first division crown as a member of the Pac-12 and the first division title since claiming one in the Big 12 in 2005. The team also earned the program’s first bowl berth almost a decade.

Offensive starters returning: 9

Offensive starters lost: 2

Defensive starters returning: 3

Defensive starters lost: 8

Key losses: QB Sefo Liufau, OL Alex Kelley, DT Jordan Carrell, DT Josh Tupou, DE Samson Kafovalu, LB Jimmie Gilbert, LB Kenneth Olugbode, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Ahkello Witherspoon

Top returnees: RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Devin Ross, WR Shay Fields, WR Bryce Bobo, LB Rick Gamboa, LB Ryan Moeller, FS Afolabi Laguda, OL Jeromy Irwin, OL Gerrad Kough

Strengths: Colorado returns the most starters on offense in the Pac-12 next season, with nine players coming back including Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay is one of five tailbacks in the Pac-12 to rush for at least 1,000 yards after rumbling for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.

QB Steven Montez spent last season as the understudy to four-year starter Sefo Liufau at quarterback. He finished with 1,248 total yards of offense and 10 total touchdowns while starting three games midseason after Liufau went down with an ankle injury. The offense averaged more than 30 points and 400 yards per game in 2016.

The offensive line saw nine different players earn starts last season and the majority of that experience returns.

Weaknesses: Colorado’s defense was much improved , in part, to defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but his decision to take the same job at Oregon leaves the program turning to former Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot to run the defense in 2017. The challenge for Eliot will be replacing a wealth of talent, including the team’s top tackler (Kenneth Olugbode) and the top secondary player (Tedric Thompson).

LB Rick Gamboa is the team’s top returning tackler (77) along with safety Afolabi Laguda (69 tackles).

Outlook: The offense is now in Montez’s hands and with nine starters back from the 2016 season, there’s no reason to believe the Buffaloes won’t improve on that side of the ball. And while the defense was the backbone of last season’s division title run, that more than likely won’t be the case in 2017. The defense is inexperienced in some areas and quickly improvement will be the key to building on last year’s success.

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July 4th – Happy Independence Day!

Pacific Takes – CU has two of the top six wide receivers in the Pac-12

From Pacific Takes … 2017 pre-season Pac-12 receiver rankings: Dante Pettis and Shay Fields battle over top spot

2. Shay Fields Sr. Colorado

Fields was Colorado’s top target in 2016 and a big reason why their offense blew up. He had more than 50 catches for 883 yards and nine touchdowns. I think he can crack the 1,000-yard mark and 10-touchdown mark.

6. Devin Ross Sr. Colorado

Ross isn’t the big play receiver Fields is, but he had a very big 2016 and is poised for a bigger 2017. He should build on the 69 catches, 787 yards and five touchdowns he had in 2016.

See the entire top 12 list here

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July 2nd

College Football News: Phillip Lindsay the No. 10 running back in the nation

From College Football News … Who are the best running backs coming into the 2017 college football season? This is a projection of the top COLLEGE players, and not necessarily the best pro prospects. Talent, of course, matters, but this is about looking ahead at who will be the top 20 this year.

10. Phillip Lindsay, Sr. Colorado

The Buffs might lose a slew of key starters on the defensive side, but the offense will work just fine with the running game taking center stage. Lindsay might only be 58 and 190 pounds, but he can handle the workload with close to 300 touches, running for 1,252 yards and 16 scores and with 53 catches for 493 yards.

From the Pac-12 … 

8. Myles Gaskin – Washington

2. Royce Freeman – Oregon

College Football News: Jeromy Irwin the No. 12 offensive tackle in the nation

From College Football News … Who are the best offensive tackles coming into the 2017 college football season? The key to this – this is a projection of the top COLLEGE players, and not really the best pro prospects. Talent, of course, matters, but this is about looking ahead at who are going to be the top 20 this year.

12. Jeromy Irwin, Sr. Colorado

The Colorado running game should be a killer at times, with the 6-5, 295-pound Irwin leading the way for a good-looking line. He’s well past the torn ACL suffered a few years ago, and now he’ll be one of the Pac-12’s best left tackles.

From the Pac-12 … 

13. Tyrell Crosby – Oregon

4. Trey Adams, Jr. – Washington

The Comeback: Mike MacIntyre 2-0 in “impossible situations” (San Jose State and Colorado)

From The Comeback … Admit it, if you’re aged 28 to 50, you longed for the days of yore when Colorado wasn’t a total laughingstock at football. It took a while for those days to come back, but last year the Buffaloes returned with a vengeance. Not many could have scripted a Pac-12 division title after three straight sixth-place finishes under the current regime, but coach Mike MacIntyre is now 2-0 in impossible situations, with San Jose State still being the gold standard no matter what happens at CU.

MacIntyre and staff parlayed the success into a top 30-40 recruiting class, depending on your service of preference, saw the attrition of success (defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt bolting for Oregon) and now faces the task of meeting expectations despite heavy losses along the defensive line and the heart, soul, and most talented part of the offense, quarterback Sefo Liufau. Enter D.J. Eliot moving in for Leavitt by way of Kentucky. The Wildcats’ defense saw marked improvement under Eliot, but the task is tall in Boulder to keep this machine humming.

Three Key Stats … 

21.7 – This is the amount of points per game surrendered by the Buffaloes in 2016, good for top 20 in the nation. They will keep their 3-4 scheme, but heavy losses along the line could make this number difficult to achieve again.

17-25 – Through three different kickers, that was CU’s field goal make/miss rate, which will need to be better. It was 104th in the nation last season, which in close games is a complete liability. Davis Price and Chris Graham, who will compete for the job, were a combined 14-21.

1,745 – The amount of yards Junior RB Phillip Lindsay returns for Colorado, and he will be a key in keeping the offense humming. Lindsay is not only a workhorse, but a big play threat, notching a touchdown run of 75 yards and a touchdown reception (his only one last year) of 67 yards. He’s one of the most dynamic players in the conference and the team will rely on him heavily.

Bold Prediction …

Phillip Lindsay will eclipse 2,500 yards total this season.

With the lions’ share of the Colorado skill position players returning, this offense actually figures to be better under Montez than it was last year. Still, Lindsay is the straw that stirs the drink when you need things mixed up, and he’ll expand upon his role particularly as a pass catcher and the Buffs will ride a standout offense to division contention. 2,500 yards should get Lindsay some Heisman chatter as well.

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June 28th 

Athlon – CU rates as Washington’s third-most difficult game

From Athlon Sports … The Huskies embark on 2017 as defending Pac-12 champions, College Football Playoff participants, and credible contenders for the coming season’s national championship. With returning talent like Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin, Dante Pettis and Trey Adams on offense; and Taylor Rapp, Vita Vea, Greg Gaines and Azeem Victor anchoring a top-10 defense, there’s little doubt the Dawgs will hunt.

What’s more, Washington plays a favorable schedule. The non-conference is one of the lighter in the Pac-12. The Huskies also draw quality opponents like Washington State and Utah at home, but must navigate through some difficult road trips.

3. Sept. 23 at Colorado

Awaiting Washington in the Pac-12 opener is a rematch of the last conference game it played in 2016. The previous campaign was one of redemption for Washington, winning its first league crown in 16 years, but it was also a breakthrough year for South division champion Colorado.

Mike MacIntyre oversaw one of college football’s most dramatic turnarounds, which fell just short of a run to the Rose Bowl.

Washington dominated the December championship tilt, though was rendered surprisingly ineffective on offense. The Huskies only began to break out on the scoreboard when the defense set the table. The Buffaloes’ defense actually harassed Browning into a 37.5 percent completion rate (9-for-24) and got to the Husky quarterback for two sacks.

Finding a way to move the ball effectively on the stout Washington defense will be the key challenge. If the Buffs are able, this early-season showdown could be much more reflective of a championship contest than the last meeting.

Full story on Washington’s schedule can be found here

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Pacific Takes: Colorado has the best wide receivers in the Pac-12

Ranking the 2017 Pac-12 WR/TE units from top to bottom:

1. Colorado (WR Shay Fields Sr. WR Devin Ross Sr. WR Bryce Bobo Sr. WR Jay MacIntyre Jr. TE George Frazier, WR Kabion Ento, TE Dylan Keeney)

Fields and Ross is the conference’s best combo at receiver as both put up huge numbers, are consistent and have big play potential. Bobo and MacIntyre are very nice number 3-4s, as good as the conference has.

2. UCLA (WR Darren Andrews Sr. WR Jordan Lasley Jr. WR Eldridge Massington Sr. WR Theo Howard So. WR Mossi Johnson Sr. TE Austin Roberts Jr. TE Caleb Wilson So.)

Andrews and Lasley provide another excellent receiver duo, but there is much more here for the Bruins. The massive Massington has flashed star potential and Howard has explosive potential. Roberts and Wilson might be the second and third-best tight ends in the conference.

3. Washington (WR Dante Pettis Sr. WR Chico McClatcher Jr. WR Aaron Fuller So. WR Andre Baccellia So. WR Brayden Lenius Jr. WR Ty Jones Fr. TE Drew Sample Jr. TE Will Dissly Sr.)

The Huskies lost John Ross, but Pettis was insanely productive and could be the best receiver in the conference. The small and lightning quick McClatcher should take over some of Ross’ role as the speed. Guy. Sample and Dissly are as good of blocking tight ends as the conference has.

Read the rest of Pacific Takes Rankings here

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June 27th

Pacific Takes: Ranking the Pac-12’s top running backs

1. Phillip Lindsay Sr. Colorado

Lindsay might be the best pure offensive player in the Pac-12 coming back in 2017. He has speed, strength and is versatile to do just about anything as a running back. A serious candidate for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

2. Myles Gaskin Jr. Washington

Gaskin can run between the tackles and break long runs on the outside with 4.4 speed. He will be running behind a veteran offensive line full of All-Pac-12 talent and it should be a deadly combo in 2017.

3. Ronald Jones Jr. USC

Jones really turned it on at the end of the season. He has a scary combination of size and speed and could crack the 1,500-yard mark with the Trojans this year as they make a run back towards greatness and without Justin Davis taking carries.

4. Royce Freeman Sr. Oregon

2016 was a tough year for Freeman and the Ducks, but he shocked many and disappointed the rest of the Pac-12 by coming back for his senior season. He has the best physical tools and track record of any Pac-12 back and could get right back to being the conference’s best if he is healthy and Oregon’s offensive line gets better.

5. Ryan Nall Jr. Oregon State

Nall’s a gamer and the heart and soul of Gary Andersen’s offense. He can churn up yards and make plays as a big back and is one of the most underrated players in the conference.

Read the rest of the list here

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June 24th

Athlon – Pac-12 stats You Need to Know

From Athlon … Football is a numbers game, as made evident in the Pac-12 Conference during the 2016 season. Statistics tell the stories of a fascinating season: Washington dominated with defense, USC engineered an impressive turnaround with offense and Colorado improved on… well, just about everything.

These numbers also reveal much about what the Pac-12’s teams either must change or maintain this fall to come out on the positive side of the most important statistic kept in football: the final score.

11: Total interceptions gone from CU’s 2017 roster

One of the most telling statistics behind Colorado’s turnaround from worst-to-first in the Pac-12 South was that in 2014, the Buffaloes managed just three interceptions the entire season. In 2016, Colorado picked off 15 passes, 22nd in college football, and finished the season with a plus-six turnover margin.

For Colorado to repeat as Pac-12 South champions, the Buffs need another outstanding season from its defense. That includes continuing to generate turnovers, but first-year defensive coordinator D.J. Elliot must replace several proven playmakers. Gone are defensive backs Tedric Thompson, Ahkello Witherspoon and Chido Awuzie, who combined for nine interceptions. Linebacker Kenneth Olugbode, who also is gone, picked off two passes in 2016.

Continue reading story here

… (Interestingly enough, Athlon also notes how many turnovers Washington’s defense created in 2016, and uses that as a positive statistic … without mentioning how many of the turnovers were created by players who are not longer with the team … ) ….

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June 21st

Phil Steele – Colorado second in the Pac-12 in two-deep experience

From Phil Steele … Experience can be a big thing in college football. A player gains valuable experience for every year he plays and becomes a better player because of it. Players also mature physically while they are in college and there is a big difference between a raw 17 or 18-year old true freshman and a mature and physically stronger 22-year old senior. Some teams that send their players away on missions, like BYU, routinely have Seniors up to 25 years old. There is also a coaching adage that for every freshman starter you have, you lose one game. With that in mind, we compiled the following chart. It lists the total amount of senior starters on the team as well as seniors in the two deep. It also shows all of the juniors, sophomores and freshmen starters and the total amount in the two deep.

To formulate a point system, I awarded 3 points for every senior starter (2.5 for every additional senior in the two deep) 2 points for every junior starter (1.5 for every additional junior in the two deep) 1 point for a sophomore starter (0.5 for every additional soph in the two deep) then subtracted 1 point for every frosh starter and .5 for every frosh in the two deep. The total points column uses that formula to figure out the points awarded to a team. The number before the team is where they came up in my overall ranking of all the teams in the NCAA. This list was compiled during magazine season and there have been some changes to the two deep since it went to press, which may not be accounted for. This chart will give you an idea of the most experienced and least experienced teams in the NCAA this year.

From the Pac-12 … 

43. Oregon State … 69.0

48t. Colorado … 68.0 … 10 senior starters … 3 other seniors in the two-deep roster … 7 junior starters … 9 other juniors in the two-deep roster … 5 sophomore starters … 3 other sophomores in the two-deep roster … 0 freshman starters … 2 other freshmen in the two-deep roster

48t. Washington State … 68.0

57. Utah … 67.5

61t. Washington … 66.0

61t. Arizona State … 66.0

70t. California … 65.0

70t. UCLA … 65.0

93t. Oregon … 61.0

103. Arizona … 59.0

118. Stanford … 55.0

129. USC … 44.0

… also …

22. Colorado State … 73.0

93t. Texas State … 61.0

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June 20th

Jeromy Irwin listed as one of the top offensive lineman in the nation

From Sports On Earth … Only two offensive linemen were picked in the first round of the NFL Draft in April, and both were somewhat off the radar entering the 2016 season: Garett Bolles and Ryan Ramczyk. Offensive line is a notoriously difficult position to evaluate and project, and there are sure to be plenty of wild cards this season. Nevertheless, our 2017 preseason college football player rankings continue with the top 35 returning linemen, all grouped together regardless of position.

From the Pac-12 … 

28. Jeromy Irwin, T, Colorado. The most valuable lineman on what proved to be a stellar Buffaloes O-line, Irwin has overcome injuries — including a torn ACL that cost him most of 2015 — to emerge as an All-Pac-12 player. In Colorado’s breakthrough season, Irwin helped pave the way for Phillip Lindsay’s 1,200-yard rushing season — the program’s first thousand-yard rusher since 2010 — and he’ll enter the 2017 season as a two-time team captain.

24. Tyrell Crosby, T, Oregon

23. Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA

10. Cody O’Connell, G, Washington State

6. Trey Adams, T, Washington

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June 18th

Phil Steele measures percentage of Offensive Yards returning

From Phil Steele … For eight years I had listed an experience chart, which broke down the number of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen each team had in the two deep and rated the teams experience level with a formula I devised. In 2009, I made the experience chart FIVE TIMES better by adding new categories like Career Starts on Offensive line, % of Offensive Yards returning, % of Defensive Yards returning and % of lettermen returning.

Today I will look at the % of yards returning. I took all of the yards each QB threw for as well as all of the individual rushing yards and receiving yards for each team. I then took all of the returning yards from 2016 and divided it into those for the percentage.

From the Pac-12 … 

19. Arizona State … 85% of offensive yardage returning

21. Washington … 84.5%

22. Washington State … 83.7%

29. Oregon State … 80.7%

53. Arizona … 70.7%

56. Colorado … 69.4%

59. UCLA … 68.3%

60. USC … 68.3%

62. Oregon … 67.7%

71. Utah … 63.7%

72. Stanford … 62.6%

112. California … 34.6%

… also …

15. Colorado State … 88.1%

97. Texas State … 48.5%

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June 15th

CBS Sports – Pecking Order of dream jobs in the Pac-12

From CBS Sports … What’s your dream job?

Everybody has one. Some people grow up wanting to be an astronaut while others want to be an athlete. For some reason completely foreign to me, some people even grow up wanting to be a lawyer.

The point is that when it comes to a dream job, different things suit different people. That’s what makes our ranking the best jobs in college football so subjective. What one coach might consider a plus could be another coach’s negative.

What I’m trying to do in these rankings is view each job from a neutral point of view. I considered many different factors when trying to figure out which job is the “best.” The tradition of a school was a factor, as was its amount of success, and how the school is positioned for future success.

Throw in some recruiting — not only the recruiting base, but the level of difficulty involved in recruiting players to the school — expectations and the loyalty of the fan base, and I think I came to some pretty reasonable conclusions.

So without further ado, here are the 12 jobs of the Pac-12 ranked from best to worst.

1. USC

2. Oregon

3. Washington

4. UCLA

5. Stanford

6. Arizona State

7. Arizona

8. Colorado … A few years ago,  Colorado would have been lower, but there have been upgrades to the facilities on campus. There’s been increased support from the administration, and it seems as though there’s motivation to help the Buffs become nationally relevant again. As far as fan support, it’s fine, so long as you’re winning games.

9. Utah

10. Oregon State

11. Washington State

12. California

Read full write-ups here

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June 14th

Phil Steele – Offensive line returning starts … CU fourth-most in the Pac-12

From Phil Steele …  For 8 years I had listed an experience chart, which broke down the number of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen each team, had in the two deep and rated the teams experience level with a formula I devised. In 2009, I made the experience chart FIVE TIMES better by adding new categories like Career Starts on Offensive line, % of Offensive Yards returning, % of Defensive Yards returning and % of lettermen returning.

Today I will look at the number of career starts returning for offensive lineman. When most judge a team for the upcoming season they look at the QB, RB and WR’s that are returning. A few may take the time to look at star defensive players that are back (those with a lot of sacks or interceptions). However, very few look at the offensive line and yet the team that controls the line of scrimmage wins the game more often than not.

From the Pac-12 … 

9. Washington … 97 career starts by returning offensive linemen

15. Arizona … 89

23. UCLA … 85

26. Colorado … 83

34. Oregon … 77

46. USC … 73

57. Stanford … 68

70. Washington State … 62

77. Oregon State … 56

105. Arizona State … 41

123. Utah … 27

126. California … 25

… and …

65. Colorado State … 64

120. Texas State … 30

—–

June 13th

YardBarker – Four of 20 coaches on hot seat from the Pac-12

From YardBarker.com … Each college football season starts with many head coaches’ backs against the wall. The following 20 head coaches are on the hot seat entering the year.

Gary Andersen, Oregon State

Andersen’s departure from Wisconsin was considered curious after only two seasons, and he could be regretting it if he’s not able to turn things around for the Beavers this year. He’s just 6-18 in two seasons but did get three conference wins last season after going 0-9 in the Pac-12 in 2015.

Todd Graham, Arizona State

Graham is coming off his second straight losing season at Arizona State and failed to make a bowl game last year for only the second time in his head coaching career. The Sun Devils’ struggles on defense are particularly disconcerting, allowing 478 points last season

Jim Mora, UCLA 

Mora showed major promise early in his tenure at UCLA, winning at least eight games four straight years. However, he’s failed to produce much with top quarterback recruit Josh Rosen, who could be entering his final college season. Coming off a 4-8 season, Mora’s program needs to get back on track this season.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

Rodriguez had great success in his first three seasons in Tucson, culminating with a berth to the Fiesta Bowl. However, the Wildcats were 3-6 in the Pac-12 in 2015 and 1-8 in-conference last year, failing to make a bowl game for the first time in Rodriguez’s five seasons. The pressure is on Rodriguez to win in 2017.

Continue reading story here

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June 12th

Shay Fields and Devin Ross make ESPN’s “dynamic duo” list

From ESPN … Football is a symmetrical game. It works best, at most position groups, when two players operate in concert.

With the best pairings in the sport, one player makes the other better. Here’s a look at our choices for the top college tandems in 2017:

… Devin Ross and Shay Fields, Colorado
Life without Sefo Liufau could hurt the productivity of this senior duo, but their talent is beyond question after Ross earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors, and Fields actually out-gained him with 883 receiving yards in 2016.

Read full list here

—–

June 10th

College Football News – Hot Seat Rankings for every head coach

From College Football News … Every college football head coach is on a hot seat.

No, really. EVERY college football head coach is on a hot seat.

… Again, the concept of a hot seat is all relative.

Dabo Swinney won’t get fired no matter what his record is this year, but if Clemson goes 5-7, he’d better rock again in 2018 or risk getting Gene Chiziked.

So where is the bar set at for each coach? Below is the ballpark regular season win total each head man has to hit to either 1) avoid most talk of getting fired, 2) not have to deal with a ton of hooey going into next year, and/or 3) stay off that hot seat. Tenure at the school, schedules, and expectations for this season are all factored in.

For most, just get to a bowl game. Do that, and fans are usually going to be okay, depending on the school, and for some – like a Saban or an Urban Meyer – just hit the six-win mark and everyone will still assume they’ll be in the national title chase the next year.

But if you’re Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher or USC’s Clay Helton this season, you’d better do just a wee bit more.

It’s about the pressure. If the coaches don’t want any more than usual, here’s the number they each have to hit …

PAC-12: NORTH

Justin Wilcox, California Golden Bears, 2017: 5

Willie Taggart, Oregon Ducks, 2017: 7

Gary Andersen, Oregon State Beavers, 2015: 6

David Shaw, Stanford Cardinal, 2011: 6

Chris Petersen, Washington Huskies, 2014: 6

Mike Leach, Washington State Cougars, 2012: 6

PAC-12: SOUTH

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona Wildcats, 2012: 7

Todd Graham, Arizona State Sun Devils, 2012: 7

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado Buffaloes, 2013: 6

Jim Mora, Jr., UCLA Bruins, 2012: 7

Clay Helton, USC Trojans, 2015: 10

Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes, 2005: 6

—–

June 8th

McIllece Sports – CU 2nd in Pac-12 North; 13% chance to win Pac-12 South

From McIllece Sports … Over the past three years, McIllece Sports has posted the most accurate predictions in the country according to the Stassen Poll, long the standard of measuring college football prediction accuracy, outperforming outlets such as Phil Steele, ESPN, Lindy’s, Athlon, USA Today, The Sporting News, and the preseason media polls.

In the divisional standings tables, AvgRank is the team’s average finish from 100,000 full season simulations, and Championship % is how often they won they division in those simulations. The predicted order of finish in each division is based on AvgRank.

Pac-12 – North

1. Washington … 47% championship percentage … 1.75 average rank

2. Washington State … 23% … 2.40

3. Stanford … 21% … 2.45

4. Oregon … 8% … 3.26

5. Oregon State … 1% … 4.75

6. California … 0% … 5.19

Pac-12 – South

1. USC … 57% championship percentage … 1.61 average rank

2. Colorado … 13% … 3.11

3. UCLA … 9% … 3.40

4. Arizona State … 10% … 3.47

5. Arizona … 6% … 3.84

6. Utah … 5% … 4.03

Pac-12 in Top 25:

3. Washington

6. USC

12. Washington State (probably the highest ranking you will see for the Cougars)

23. Stanford (one of the lowest for the Cardinal)

 

College Football News first game prediction … Colorado State over Colorado

Related … Peter Fiutak also taking Colorado State over Oregon State … from the College Football News

From College Football News … A lot of this depends on how Colorado State does in the opener against Oregon State. On the plus side, the Rams get a chance to break into the season with a tune-up before the big rivalry date.

Last year, Colorado set the tone for its season with a dominant 44-7 performance in what’s normally one of the most consistently strong early games.

The Buffs have won three of the last four, but the Rams have come up with their share of wins over the years. This time around, they have a much stronger team than 2016, while Colorado might need a little time to reload.

Colorado might be underestimated after its breakthrough season, but the receiving corps should be sensational and the offense good enough to bomb away from the start.

But the Rams won’t have a problem getting more than seven points this time around.

Colorado State might not have the defense to make this easy, but the offensive firepower – again, don’t dismiss the game against the Beavers to help – with the rivalry aspect kicking in.

Making up for last year’s debacle, Colorado State puts it in the rearview mirror with a fantastic performance.

Colorado vs. Colorado State Early June Prediction

Final Score: Colorado State 34, Colorado 30

—–

June 7th

Phil Steele over/under for the Pac-12

From Phil Steele … Las Vegas has NO BIAS when it comes to college football teams. They are in the business of getting and equal number of bets on each side so that they can make money. If you feel they are WAAAAAY off by predicting your favorite teams win total too low, then book a flight a Vegas and take advantage of it and put your money where your mouth is.

Pac-12:
South:
USC – 10.0
Colorado – 7.5
UCLA – 7.0
Utah – 5.5
Arizona State – 5.0
Arizona – 4.5

North:
Washington – 10.0
Stanford – 9.0
Oregon – 7.5
Washington State – 7.0
Oregon State – 5.5
Cal – 3.5

CSU – 7.5
Texas State – 2.5

Some Notes … Nine teams have been given an over/under of 10.0 or higher: Ohio State; Wisconsin; Alabama; Penn State; Oklahoma; USC; Washington; BYU and USF … While seven teams have been given an over/under of 2.5: Purdue; Kansas; UTEP; East Carolina; UAB; Massachusetts; and Texas State.

—–

June 6th

SB Nation: Can Mike MacIntyre’s Buffs keep the magic going, or will defensive collapse kill the fun?

From SB Nation … Colorado Buffaloes preview

2016 record and S&P+ ranking: 10-4 (18th)

Projected 2017 record and S&P+ ranking: 6-6 (50th)

Biggest strength: Every skill position piece returns, including running back Phillip Lindsay and big-play wideout Shay Fields. And while quarterback Sefo Liufau is gone, replacement Steven Montez looked strong in a midseason audition.

Biggest question mark: Will CU’s defense fall a little or a lot? The backbone could be solid, but defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and virtually every big-time playmaker are gone.

Biggest 2017 game: Take your pick — there are eight virtual tossups on the schedule. The trip to UCLA (Sept. 30) is particularly big, though, as it kicks off a run of six virtual tossups in a row.

Summary: Big-time football returned to Boulder in 2016, and with so many tossup games, CU is only a couple of new pieces or good breaks from making another run at nine or 10 wins. Of course, the Buffs are a couple of bad breaks from seeing that win total cut in half. Big year ahead.

… It’s 2017 now, and all of the incredible moments of 2016 are now simply a prelude to whatever follows. Is Colorado “back” now? Was 2016 a sign of things to come or a time capsule, buried and unrelated to, and providing minimal context for, what followed?

There are just enough of last year’s faces gone and just enough returning that you can see what you want here. The pessimist could point out that starting quarterback Sefo Liufau is gone and that QB continuity is a huge thing for turning an out-of-nowhere surge one year into sustained quality the next. And the pessimist could certainly point out that defense was the strength of last year’s team and that defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, the top three defensive linemen, and about half of the primary linebackers and defensive backs are all gone.

The optimist, meanwhile, could note that new starting quarterback Steven Montez got his feet wet when Liufau was hurt last year and showed some exciting explosiveness. The optimist could definitely point out that last year’s skill corps returns virtually intact, as does the offensive line, and that while a lot of edge play-makers are gone from last year’s defense, the backbone — particularly the inside linebacker and safety positions — appears sturdy and experienced.

Continue reading story here

—–

June 4th

Street and Smith’s – CU picked third in Pac-12 South, one of seven Pac-12 bowl teams

From Street and Smith’s … Even the word “breakthrough” can’t fully describe what happened to the Colorado Buffaloes last season. Three years of seemingly fruitless transition under coach Mike MacIntyre suddenly morphed into 10 wins and an Alamo Bowl appearance. Literally, the Buffs went from worst to first, finally riding a combination of good health and veteran experience that instantly turned MacIntyre from hot-seat candidate into savior.

… A slight step backward appears likely this season. Colorado must replace eight starters from a defense that ranked in the top 20 nationally for total yardage given up, along with quarterback Sefo Liufau.

Recruiting … Colorado followed up a breakout season with a breakout recruiting Class. The Buffs really made an impact both in their home state as well as in the state of Texas. Offensive tackle Jake Moretti and defensive end Jonathan Van Diest, both four-stars, are the in-state headliners. The other impact guys out of the Longhorn State are K.D. Nixon, a 5-8 speedster who works out of the slot, and offensive tackle Grant Polley, an Under Armour All-American with loads of upside.

… Street and Smith’s Pac-12 projections …

North

1. Washington – Fiesta Bowl

2. Stanford – Alamo Bowl

3. Washington State – Foster Farms Bowl

4. Oregon State – Las Vegas Bowl

5. Oregon

6. California

South

1. USC – Sugar Bowl (College Football Playoff semi-final)

2. Utah – Holiday Bowl

3. Colorado – Sun Bowl

4. UCLA – Armed Forces Bowl

5. Arizona State

6. Arizona

—–

June 2nd

College Football News: Be really, really, really careful assuming USC is about to take back its spot as one of the college football elites – at least this year

From College Football News … Because the Trojans dominated Washington in Seattle, and pulled off the amazing win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl – capping off a nine-game winning streak after a rough 1-3 start – of course it seems like they’re back.

And why not?

USC has the almost-certain No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft in QB Sam Darnold, and … and … it’s USC, right? It’s supposed to have the talent and ability to do everything it did after September of last season, only start winning from the beginning.

It can’t be possible the program is being gushed over because of 1) brand name, 2) Darnold, and 3) that convincing win over Washington, can it?

This whole scenario doesn’t seem familiar at all …

In 2012, USC rolled into the season with that brand name, and the superstar quarterback – Matt Barkley – and the huge win over a great team – Oregon- on the road late in the season.

It was enough to be ranked No. 1 by the AP to start the year, and third by the Coaches Poll.

USC was BACK under third-year head coach Lane Kiffin.

Barkley was the veteran leader who was going to make up for a few glaring problems, the schedule seemed incredibly favorable, and …

The Trojans fizzled, losing five of their last six games to finish 7-6.

Continue reading story here

—–

June 1st

Athlon – Colorado has the No. 5 wide receiver unit in the nation

Athlon Unit rankings (Pac-12) … 

Quarterbacks … 2. USC … 5. Washington … 7. Washington State … 11. UCLA … 22. Oregon

Running backs … 8. Washington … 10. Oregon … 12. USC … 20. Stanford … 23. Arizona State

Wide receivers5. Colorado … The Buffaloes return their top six statistical wide receivers from last season, which should ease the transition to new quarterback Steven Montez. Shay Fields led the team with 883 yards and nine scores, but Devin Ross (69 catches) and Bryce Bobo (44) are also All-Pac-12 candidates. Jay MacIntyre and Kabion Ento return after combining for 40 catches last year, while Juwann Winfree – a top junior college recruit in 2016 – adds depth after sitting out 2016 due to injury

… 15. Washington … 16. USC … 19. California … 22. Washington State

Offensive lines … 7. Washington State … 12. Washington State … 13. Stanford … 16. Oregon … 22. Colorado

Defensive lines … 8. Washington … 12. Utah … 24. USC

Linebackers … 5. Washington … 8. USC … 10. Stanford … 24. Arizona State

Defensive backs … 3. Stanford … 14. Washington … 20. UCLA … 24. USC

—–

May 31st

Pac-12 schools on Lindy’s Top Five list of underachieving programs and coaches on hot seat

From Lindy’s …

Five underachieving programs

5. Arizona State … It’s been 20 years since the last Rose Bowl. A program located in a population center like Phoenix should do way better than that. Given the sun and the (opposite sex) scenery, how can you not find 85 dudes  who want to come to the Valley and crush it?

4. Texas A&M

3. North Carolina

2. UCLA … A window opened June 10, 2010, when USC was hit with those crippling NCAA sanctions. The Bruins never crawled through that window. The Bruins last won a conference title in 1998. In the 18 seasons since, they have been over eight times. How does that happen in LA?

1. Texas

Five Hot-seat coaches

5. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

4. Todd Graham, Arizona State; Rich Rodriguez, Arizona … Graham, the defensive whiz, can’t stop a summer breeze. Rodriguez, the zone-read master, still searching for star-level quarterback.

3. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

2. Jim Mora, UCLA … Six consecutive Top 20 recruiting classes don’t get you what it used to in Westwood.

1. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

Colorado at UCLA … from a Bruin perspective

From GoJoeBruin … After the UCLA Football team opens Pac-12 play on the road in Palo Alto against Stanford, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Bruins return home for a clash with the upstart Colorado Buffaloes.

After five abysmal seasons in the Pac-12 in which Colorado failed to win more than four games, the Buffaloes surprised many last season by winning 10 games for the first time since 2001 and taking home the Pac-12 South crown.

Last season, the Bruins dropped a tough matchup in Boulder by a score of 20-10. The Bruins will be locked and loaded and looking for revenge when the Buffaloes romp into the Rose Bowl next season.

The Buffaloes lose a lot from last season, but still will be no cakewalk for a Bruins team that finished 4-8 last season. The Buffaloes will start with three cupcakes before taking on Washington in Boulder the week before their showdown with UCLA. Coming off a tough battle with the Huskies could prove to be beneficial for UCLA as they look to take down the Buffaloes.

Here’s a preview of the 2017 matchup:

… The 2017 installment of UCLA vs. Colorado should be a doozy. It’s a classic matchup of strength vs. strength as Colorado’s offense should be its strength whereas UCLA’s strength will be their defense. UCLA should be able to take down the Buffs if Rosen and the offense can put up big numbers against an inexperienced Colorado D. After watching last year, though, that’s a gigantic IF.

Read full preview here

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May 30th

Phillip Lindsay the No. 22 running back in the nation

From Sports on Earth … The NFL Draft’s running back class of 2017 was loaded, including first-round picks Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, but with juniors like Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and Bo Scarbrough and returning seniors like Nick Chubb, Royce Freeman and Justin Jackson, there is still a wealth of running back talent remaining at the college level entering this season. Our rankings break down the top 40 returning (potential star freshmen like Florida State’s Cam Akers are thus not eligible for this list) players at the position.

From the Pac-12 … 

40. Lavon Coleman, Washington

39. Tony Brooks-James, Oregon

35. Ryan Nall, Oregon State

33. Bryce Love, Stanford

22. Phillip Lindsay, Colorado. Lindsay’s midseason tear helped spur the Buffaloes to their improbable division title. He finished with 1,252 yards and 16 TDs, largely on the back of a five-game span in which he had 219 against Arizona State, 131 against Stanford, 119 against Arizona and 144 against Washington State. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Lindsay became the Buffaloes’ first thousand-yard back since 2010, and he also had 53 catches for 493 yards, proving to be a valuable, versatile weapon who’s a natural pass catcher and played a big role in the improved efficiency of the Colorado offense.

10. Myles Gaskin, Washington

7. Royce Freeman, Oregon

5. Ronald Jones II, USC

… Full story and bios can be found here

—–

May 29th

Athlon has Colorado at 7-5, 4-5, facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl

Pac-12 projected division races

North

1. Washington – 12-1; 8-1 … No. 4 … Sugar Bowl (National semi-final v. Alabama)

2. Stanford – 9-3; 6-3 … No. 17 … Alamo Bowl v. Texas

3. Oregon – 8-4; 5-4 … No. 21 … Holiday Bowl v. Northwestern

4. Washington State – 8-4; 5-4 … No. 28 … Foster Farms Bowl v. Iowa

5. Oregon State – 5-7; 3-6 … No. 65

6. California – 3-9; 2-7 … No. 76

South

1. USC – 11-2; 8-1 … No. 5 … Fiesta Bowl v. LSU

2. UCLA – 7-5; 5-4 … No. 33 … Sun Bowl v. North Carolina State

3. Colorado – 7-5; 4-5 … No. 34 … Las Vegas Bowl v. Boise State

4. Utah – 7-5; 4-5 … No. 38 … Cactus Bowl v. Kansas State

5. Arizona State – 5-7; 2-7 … No. 53

6. Arizona – 5-7; 2-7 … No. 66

Pac-12 championship game – Washington over USC

—–

May 28th

CBS Sports: USC a heavy favorite to win Pac-12

From CBS Sports … There are less than 100 days left to go before the 2017 college football season starts, and that means you have less than 100 days to figure out which teams you want to bet on before the season.

You’re so lucky to have friends like us at CBS Sports.

BetOnline has released conference title odds for the Power Five conferences, and we want to make sure you’re prepared with all the knowledge you need to make the smart play.

Let’s take a look at the odds for the Pac-12.

USC +125
Washington +250
Stanford +600
UCLA +900
Oregon +1200
Utah +1600
Washington State +1600
Colorado +2000
Arizona State +3300
Arizona +8000
California +8000
Oregon State +8000

Best bet: USC hasn’t entered the season with expectations this high since Matt Barkley decided to come back for his senior season and the Trojans were ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. That season ended with just seven wins and a loss to Georgia Tech in the 2012 Sun Bowl. Since then, it’s been a slow climb back to the top of the Pac-12 for the Trojans, and after winning the Rose Bowl, they’ve reasserted themselves as the team to beat.

Continue reading story here

—–

May 27th

Lindy’s has USC playing in the national championship game … CU fourth in the Pac-12 South

Lindy’s national rankings (and don’t forget to check out Lindy’s 2016 projections, posted below)

2. USC – We have been burned by this bet before, but we’re going all in on USC to run the table and reach the College Football Playoff.

8. Washington – So, Washington couldn’t handle Alabama in the national semi-final. It happens. Another soft schedule eases any growing pains, and sets up nicely for an 8-0 start before November.

18. Stanford – Stanford has spent only one season out of the last seven outside of the final 12 in the AP poll. So, this ranking is low. We understand. We underestimate the Cardinal at our our peril.

25. Utah – Utah’s ceiling? Well, it is the roof. The Utes won’t go zooming into the sky this season, but we like their chances to repeat a 9-4 season.

30. Washington State – Quarterback Luke Falk returns for his senior season; keep the record books handy.

32. Oregon – Senior running back Royce Freeman is a good start; Ducks could be back on offense.

38. UCLA – Quarterback Josh Rosen is star attraction, but Jim Mora hasn’t made the pieces fit.

41. Colorado – After surprising run to South title, Buffs have to fill holes on defense.

62. Oregon State – Some stability at quarterback would help, but Beavers not a bad spoiler pick.

64. Arizona – If backfield stays healthy, Cats have enough offense to sneak into a bowl.

65. Arizona State – If Devils don’t fix pass defense, it’ll be a third straight losing season.

82. California – Justin Wilcox draws first head coaching assignment at 40.

… also …

68. Colorado State – The Rams offense should be special; the defense, not so much.

128. Texas State – Mississippi State grad transfer Damian Williams takes over at quarterback.

Northern Colorado – 9th in Big Sky Conference – After back-to-back 6-5 finishes, Earnest Collins’ Bears will be younger in 2017.

Just for fun … here is Lindy’s 2016 Pac-12 projections (and results)

No. 10 Stanford … 10-3 … ranked No. 12 in final AP poll

No. 17 USC … 10-3 … ranked No. 3

No. 21 Washington … 12-2 … ranked No. 4

No. 23 UCLA … 4-8

No. 24 Oregon … 4-8

No. 26 Washington State … 8-5

No. 32 Utah … 9-4 … ranked No. 23

No. 45 Arizona State … 5-7

No. 47 Arizona … 3-9

No. 64 California … 5-7

No. 71 Colorado … 10-4 … ranked No. 17

No. 75 Oregon State … 4-8

—–

May 26th

Street and Smith’s has Buffs going to Sun Bowl

Street and Smith’s projected finish for the Pac-12:

North Division

1. Washington

2. Stanford

3. Washington State

4. Oregon State

5. Oregon

6. California

South Division 

1. USC

2. Utah

3. Colorado

4. UCLA

5. Arizona State

6. Arizona

Street and Smith’s Pac-12 Bowl projections

No. 4 USC … Sugar Bowl (CFP semi-final) v. No. 1 Alabama

No. 8 Washington … Fiesta Bowl v. No. 7 Penn State

No. 17 Stanford … Alamo Bowl v. No. 20 Kansas State

No. 25 Utah … Holiday Bowl v. Northwestern

Washington State … Foster Farms Bowl v. Michigan State

Colorado … Sun Bowl v. Miami

Oregon State … Las Vegas Bowl v. Boise State

… Cactus Bowl … no other Pac-12 teams – Oregon, California, Arizona State, Arizona – projected to get to six wins …

—–

May 25th

Athlon has eight Buffs on preseason Pac-12 teams (which is only eighth-best in the conference)

From CUBuffs.com … Athlon Sports released its preseason All-Pac-12 teams Thursday and eight Colorado Buffaloes donned its lists.

Colorado, the reigning Pac-12 South Champions, ranked eighth in the league for the most players selected to Athlon’s teams, which featured a first-, second-, third- and fourth-team for offense, defense and special teams.

Among Pac-12 South Division schools, Colorado ranked fourth out of six.

Most preseason All-Pac-12 Selections by school (2016 record in parentheses):
14 – Oregon (4-8)
13 – Washington (12-2)
12 – Stanford (10-3)
11 – USC (10-3)
11 – Washington State (8-5)
9 – Arizona State (5-7)
9 – UCLA (4-8)
8 – Colorado (10-4) … Two first team; two second team; two third team; two fourth team
7 – Utah (9-4)
6 – Cal (5-7)
5 – Oregon State (4-8)
3 – Arizona (3-9)

See bios of the eight Buffs selected here

Athlon did the best in 2016 predictions

According to Stassen.com … This page ranks the accuracy of the preseason magazines’ conference predictions for 2016, by comparing them to conference finish.

Lower scores indicate more accurate predictions; the lower the score, the closer the predictions were to the actual results. Magazines are sorted by total score for all conferences, with the best predictions (lowest total scores) at the top.

Preseason magazines … 

Athlon – 137

USA Today – 144

ESPN – 146

The Sporting News – 147

Lindy’s – 148

Phil Steele – 148

Media polls – 149

—–

May 24th 

Pac-12 the most consistently underrated Power Five conference in preseason poll

From Stassen.com … This is a table of under-/over-ratedness of conferences, calculated by summing up all of the overrated/underrated numbers for conference members for a given year.

(This is a comparison of where teams were picked to finish in the AP Top 25, and where they finished in the final poll. All unranked teams are given a ranking of “No. 26”. For example, Colorado was unranked to start the 2016 season, but finished 17th, giving CU – and the Pac-12 – a +9 for 2016).

Totals: 1993-2006

Pac-12 … +37 1/2

Big Ten … +26 1/2

ACC … – 61 1/2

Independents … – 78 1/2 (translation: Notre Dame is almost always over-rated)

SEC … – 154 1/2

Big 12 … – 181

—–

May 22nd

Athlon releases its Top 25 – Four Pac-12 teams included

… including Oregon (4-8 in 2016) and no Colorado (10-4). Buffs still have some convincing to do … 

From Athlon Sports … Here’s Athlon’s projected top 25 teams in college football. This ranking takes into account where we think teams will finish after the national championship in January.

From the Pac-12 … 

21. Oregon

New coach Willie Taggart inherits a promising core of young talent for his first season in Eugene. Although the Ducks are coming off their first losing record since 2004, a quick rebound should be in order. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns as a true freshman last fall and is surrounded by a strong supporting cast that features running back Royce Freeman and receivers Darren Carrington and Charles Nelson. The Ducks also went with a youth movement in the trenches last season and this unit is slated to return four starters from the final two-deep. Additionally, left tackle Tyrell Crosby returns after missing nearly all of 2016 due to injury. Scoring points won’t be a problem for Taggart’s team, but the defense needs to take a step forward if Oregon wants to challenge Stanford or Washington in the Pac-12 North. The good news? Taggart hired standout coordinator Jim Leavitt away from Colorado and has plenty of experience at all three levels of the defense returning for 2017. Sophomore linebacker Troy Dye is one of the Pac-12’s rising stars on defense, and the addition of Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano provides a boost up front. The Ducks also catch a break in scheduling by missing USC in crossover play, while Washington State and Utah visit Eugene.

17. Stanford

Stanford has been a model of consistency under coach David Shaw. The Cardinal have won at least 10 games in five out of the last six seasons. Reaching that total in 2017 is within reach, as Stanford is the biggest threat to Washington in the Pac-12 North. Some mystery surrounds the quarterback position. Quarterback Keller Chryst suffered a knee injury in the Sun Bowl win over North Carolina and is on track to return by fall practice. If Chryst suffers any setbacks, Ryan Burns has starting experience, and redshirt freshman K.J. Costello was one of the top quarterbacks in the 2016 signing class. In addition to the quarterback uncertainty, the Cardinal have to replace running back Christian McCaffrey. While McCaffrey’s all-around versatility is unlikely to be matched by one player, the running back duo of Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett should be a capable one-two punch on the ground. Trenton Irwin (37 catches) and JJ Arcega-Whiteside (15.8 ypc) are back to lead the receiving corps, while the offensive line returns four starters, including Nate Herbig and center Jesse Burkett. Solomon Thomas is a big loss for Shaw’s defense, but the secondary should be among the best in the nation with the return of cornerback Quenton Meeks and safety Justin Reid. Road trips to Washington State, Utah and USC are on tap, while Stanford hosts Oregon, UCLA and Washington next season.

5. USC

Thanks to the emergence of quarterback Sam Darnold, USC should be a playoff contender in 2017. Darnold’s play was a big reason why the Trojans showed marked improvement after starting 1-3 last season. As a redshirt freshman last year, he threw for 3,086 yards and 31 scores and added 250 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Darnold is good enough to carry this team to a Pac-12 title on his own, but the supporting cast features a likely All-Pac-12 running back in Ronald Jones, as well as a solid group of receivers. The biggest concern on offense remains up front. Standout tackles Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner expired their eligibility, and guard Damien Mama left early for the next level. Projected starters Toa Lobendahn and Viane Talamaivao are recovering from injuries but will return for the start of the season. Coordinator Clancy Pendergast proved to be one of the top assistant hires of last offseason, as USC’s defense limited opponents to 24.2 points per game despite major question marks in the front seven. Pendergast will have a solid core in place for 2017, but tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu must be replaced, and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson decided to leave early for the NFL. This unit features an All-America candidate at linebacker in junior Cameron Smith, along with rising stars Rasheem Green (DL) and Iman Marshall (CB). The schedule features its share of challenges, starting with games against Stanford and Texas in September, along with road trips to Washington State, Notre Dame and Colorado.

4. Washington

Even though Chris Petersen has to replace a few key cogs from last season’s playoff team, Washington is primed for another run at the Pac-12 title and spot among the nation’s top four teams. Quarterback Jake Browning is back after throwing for 3,430 yards and 43 scores last season, but the junior has to find a new go-to target after the departure of receiver John Ross to the NFL. Dante Pettis (53 catches) moves into the No. 1 role, while the Huskies will be counting on bigger contributions from Chico McClatcher, Ty Jones, Aaron Fuller and Quentin Pounds in the receiving corps. The one-two punch of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman provides plenty of balance and support on offense out of the backfield, while three starters are back on a standout line. The biggest concerns for a repeat trip to the CFB Playoff rest with a defense that loses standout safety Budda Baker, cornerbacks Kevin King and Sidney Jones and lineman Elijah Qualls. However, coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski is one of the best in the nation, and this unit is anchored by standout senior linebacker Azeem Victor. Junior Vita Vea leads the way up front, while the rebuilding effort in the secondary should be minimized thanks to the emergence of cornerbacks Jordan Miller and Byron Murphy in the spring, along with the return of rising star Taylor Rapp at safety. The schedule also sets up for anotherplayoff berth. Washington does not play USC in the regular season and hosts Oregon and Washington State. A trip to Stanford on Nov. 10 is the team’s toughest road test.

Continue reading story here

Jon Wilner takes on the over/under for the Pac-12 … and takes the under on CU

From the San Jose Mercury News … The first, faint whiff of the 2017 season wafted through Pac-12 territory last week.

The source: Las Vegas.

The form: Over/under win totals (courtesy of the oddmakers at CG Technology.)

We’ll take a best-guess swing through the numbers.

Nothing wrong with a little off-season fun.

Please note that not every team was included in the CG Tech roll out: There are no totals for Arizona State, Cal and Oregon State …

Colorado
Total: 7.5
Hotline pick: Under
Comment: Helluva number, 7.5 is. I strongly considered the over — the Buffs’ non-conference schedule is soft — but veered to the under because of shifting expectations. The defending division champs will get everyone’s best shot.

Continue reading story here

—–

May 21st

247 Sports – Teams most likely to rise/most likely to fall in 2017

From 247 SportsMost likely to break out – Pac-12: UCLA 

Let the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit in the 2017 class, UCLA’s Jaelan Phillips, explain the Bruins’ 4-8 season in 2016: “Mike (Fafaul) is a good quarterback, but he’s not Josh Rosen.”

Phillips provided that rationale for UCLA’s struggles in December, and the explanation still applies. The Bruins’ season spiraled out of control after Rosen’s injury Week 6 against Arizona State. UCLA was 3-2 five games into 2016 with its only losses coming in last-minute defeats to Texas A&M and Stanford. After Rosen’s injury, the Bruins went 1-6 despite a defense that ranked in the Top 20 nationally in efficiency.

Rosen, a projected Top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, will be back this year, and the Bruins return 15 starters, including nine on offense. UCLA won’t be the favorite in the Pac-12 South – that honor belongs to USC – but there’s no way they endure a second straight losing season with the team’s overall talent.

Expect the Bruins to be a Top 25 team despite a brutal schedule (road games against Memphis, Stanford, Washington, Utah and USC).

Teams set to Tumble – Pac-12: Utah

It took Utah a few years to get adjusted to the Pac-12, but the Utes have been excellent the last three seasons with a combined 28-11 record. Kyle Whittingham has his own style – the Utes are physical and mine under-recruited talent – and it’s worked.

That said, Utah returns just 11 starters and drew a brutal cross-division schedule with road games against Oregon and Washington and an early-season matchup at home with Stanford. Add in a road game with USC and a non-conference road game against BYU, and the schedule could not set up much more difficult.

Utah’s recruited well and Whittingham is among the most underrated coaches in the country, but it’s going to be tough to overcome the team’s departed talent and schedule in 2017.

Continue reading story here

—–

May 19th

CG Technology sportsbook sets over/under for the Buffs at 7.5

From ESPN … Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology released season win totals on nearly 50 college football teams on Thursday.

Here are the opening numbers (both alphabetical and by win total number):

Alabama 10.5 -150o
Ohio State 10 -125o

Oklahoma 9.5 -145o
Florida State 9.5 -130o
Penn State 9.5 -125u
Wisconsin 9.5 -125o
USC 9.5 -135o
Washington 9.5

Other Pac-12 teams … 

Stanford 8.5 -130u
Oregon 8
Colorado 7.5 -125u
Washington State 7.5 -125o
Utah 6.5 -120o
UCLA 6 -135o
Arizona 5.5

—–

May 18th

Athlon rates Pac-12 coaches … Mike MacIntyre in at No. 5

From Athlon Sports … This is not simply a list of coaches ranked by accomplishment or wins. While those aspects are important, it doesn’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky. Also, every program has a different amount of resources available. Hierarchy in college football also plays a vital role in how successful programs are. It’s always easier for programs with more built-in advantages to contend for a national title on a more consistent basis.

A couple of other factors to consider when ranking coaches: How well are the assistants paid? A staff with two of the nation’s top coordinators could be a sign the head coach is better as a CEO and may not be as strong in terms of developing gameplans. How is the coach in the X’s and O’s? Can the coach recruit? Are the program’s facilities on par with the rest of the conference? Much like assistants, a program needs good facilities to win big. If a team is winning at a high level with poor facilities and a small budget, it reflects positively on the head coach. Is the coach successful at only one stop? Or has that coach built a solid resume from different jobs?

Again, wins are important. But our rankings also take into account a blank slate. If you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire knowing what they accomplished so far and their career trajectory? Remember, you don’t get the assistants – only the head coach. And head-to-head wins do not matter for this ranking. Athlon’s editorial staff has voted on a ranking of coaches for all 10 conferences. Here are the results for the Pac-12:

12. Justin Wilcox, California

11. Jim Mora, UCLA

10. Clay Helton, USC

9. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

8. Todd Graham, Arizona State

7. Willie Taggart, Oregon

6.  Gary Andersen, Oregon State

5. Mike MacIntyre, Colorado  MacIntyre delivered a breakthrough season in his fourth year in Boulder. The Buffaloes finished 10-4 and No. 17 nationally last season, while also claiming the Pac-12 South title. The 10-win season equaled MacIntyre’s victory total (10) from the first three years with the program. It’s no secret MacIntyre inherited a program in need of major repair in 2013 and slow progress through the first couple of years was expected. This isn’t the first time MacIntyre has engineered a significant turnaround. From 2010-12, San Jose State went 16-21 under his watch, improving from a one-win team in 2010 to a 10-win program in the regular season in 2012.

4.  Mike Leach, Washington State

3. Kyle Whittingham, Utah

2. David Shaw, Stanford

1. Chris Petersen, Washington

—–

May 17th

Phil Steele rates most difficult schedules

From Phil Steele … There are many ways to assess schedule strength.  The most commonly used method is to combine opponents’ records from the previous season.

… There are other ways to approximate schedule strength.  Who plays the most teams that had winning records last year? … How about who faces the most teams who made the postseason in 2016? … Opponents who finished last year in the Top 25?

Combining methods can offer useful insight as well.  For example, Louisiana Tech played seven opponents who made the postseason.  However, only TWO of them finished the year with a winning record!

FOE FOE FOE Ranked Tms W/ Foes
Rank Team WINS LOSS WIN% Tm’s Win Rec in Bowl
16 UCLA 91 64 58.71% 5 7 8
21 Utah 88 64 57.89% 4 7 7
25 Washington St 86 65 56.95% 5 6 6
32 Oregon St 86 66 56.58% 4 7 7
35 California 85 67 55.92% 4 7 7
36 Arizona St 85 68 55.56% 6 6 6
43 Oregon 83 68 54.97% 3 7 6
63 USC 80 71 52.98% 4 5 5
68 Stanford 79 72 52.32% 4 5 5
77 Arizona 77 72 51.68% 3 5 5
91 Colorado 75 74 50.34% 3 6 5
116 Washington 68 80 45.95% 3 5 4

Derek McCartney named to 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List

Press release from CUBuffs.com … Colorado senior outside linebacker Derek McCartney is one of 42 student-athletes to be named to the 2017 Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation has announced.

Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Ronnie Lott, The Lott IMPACT Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Founded in 2004 by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The Lott Trophy is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. The Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

McCartney is one of 17 linebackers on the watch list. The Pac-12 Conference had the most players on the list with 10 and McCartney’s is joined by fellow league members: Koron Crump, LB, Arizona State; Porter Gustin, DE, USC; Chase Hansen, S, Utah; Hercules Mata’afa, DE, Washington State; Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford; Cameron Saffle, DE, Cal; Cameron Smith, LB, USC; Azeem Victor, LB, Washigton; Kenny Young, LB, UCLA.

On the field, McCartney ranks in the top 40 all-time at Colorado in career sacks with 9½ in 27 games played and 25 starts. He was selected as a team captain for the Buffs in 2017. He is coming off a junior season that was cut short due to a knee injury. Before his injury in week three at No. 4 Michigan, he returned a fumble 18 yards for a touchdown to give CU a 14-0 lead over the Wolverines at the time.

Off the field, McCartney has received national recognition for his academic success and contributions to his community.

McCartney was named to the 2016 AFCA Good Works Team, one of just 12 Division I players honored last season, which recognizes and celebrates those who dedicate their time to bettering the community and the lives of others. McCartney is the only one of the 12 from last season’s Good Works Team who made the Lott IMPACT Trophy Watch List.

In the spring of 2016 he participated in CU’s “Be A Match” program that coach Mike MacIntyre started after his first year in Boulder. McCartney was a match and went through the grueling process of donating, missing the bulk of CU’s spring practices in the process. Eight months later, he was informed that his blood stem cells he donated went to a male in his 50s or 60s and that he helped save that man’s life.

He graduated in May 2016 after just three years with a degree in one of CU’s most challenging majors – Integrative Physiology – with a Pre-Med course of study at Colorado. He is now enrolled in CU’s graduate program for IPHY with plans to go to medical school after the conclusion of his football career.

Voters for the award include selected members of the national media, previous finalists, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation and a distinguished group of former college football head coaches. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $1.1 million to various charities throughout the country. The 14th annual Lott IMPACT Trophy Awards will be held Dec. 10 at The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, Calif. For more information on The Lott Trophy visit: www.LottImpactTrophy.org.

 

—–

May 16th

PFF – Phillip Lindsay one of the best in the nation at forcing missed tackles

From Pro Football Focus

Returning FBS running backs – Most missed tackles forced v. Power-5 opponents:

1. Saquon Barkley – Penn State … 60

2. Justin Jackson – Northwestern … 51

3. Rodney Smith – Minnesota … 48

4. Phillip Lindsay – Colorado … 47

5. Royce Freeman – Oregon … 44

6. Derrius Guice – LSU … 42

7. Jordan Scarlett – Florida … 41

—–

May 15th

The Sporting News – Phillip Lindsay one of the top 25 running backs in the nation

From The Sporting News … Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook are gone.

Which running backs will step up in their place in 2017? Fournette and McCaffrey were top 10 picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Will a running back or two follow in their footsteps this year?

The good news is the top five — which features three SEC running backs — should produce some discussion in that direction. Two Big Ten running backs round out that top five. Here is a closer look at Sporting News Top 25 running backs for 2017 …

From the Pac-12:

6. Myles Gaskin, Washington 

Gaskin’s career is marked with steady production for the defending Pac-12 champions. The lines that last two seasons are almost identical, and that’s accumulated 2,675 yards and 24 TDs at 5.8 yards per carry.

8. Ronald Jones II, USC 

Jones II has produced 2,069 yards and 20 TDs on just 330 career carries the last two seasons. It’s scary to project what he could do with a full workload. It’s all good new for Heisman hopeful Sam Darnold and the Trojans.

16. Royce Freeman, Oregon 

Injuries have side-tracked Freeman’s career, but he’s still a reliable force that first-year coach Willie Taggart will feed in 2017. Freeman needs nine rushing TDs to tie the school record set by 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist LaMichael James.

17. Bryce Love, Stanford  

Love inherits the spot left by Christian McCaffrey, but he’s more than capable of the job. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry behind McCaffrey the last two seasons and is an active pass-catcher out of the backfield. He closed last season with back-to-back 100-yard games agianst Rice and in the Sun Bowl against North Carolina.

24. Phillip Lindsay, Colorado 

Lindsay is a compact 5-foot-8, 190-pound runner who improved with each game for the Buffaloes last season, and he’ll build on that 1,252-yard, 16-TD performance in 2017.

—–

May 13th

Spokane Spokesman-Review – Buffs not given much credit

… A hometown paper, but Washington State No. 4? Both UCLA and Oregon ahead of Colorado? … 

From Jacob Thorpe at the Spokane Spokesman-Review … Well, it’s the offseason. All the Pac-12 teams have wrapped up their spring camps and now pretty much all news will be bad news until Pac-12 Media Days in July.

So, now what? Well, it’s early, but it’s never too early to speculate about how things will play out next season. Here’s how I see the conference shaking out, based on what we saw in the spring.

1. USC

2. Washington

3. Stanford

4. Washington State – It’s going to be an interesting year for the Cougars. WSU has its best offensive line situation, running back situation, and quarterback situation since Mike Leach rode into town. But the wide receivers are unproven and the defensive linemen are undersized. Leach has built the program to consistently have a high floor, which is his primary job, but this year the ceiling might be a little lower than the last two seasons.

5. UCLA

6. Utah

7. Oregon

8. Colorado – These are not last year’s Buffaloes. Not only does CU lose basically all of the talent from its fearsome defense, it loses the coordinator who made them fearsome in the first place. Steven Montez showed some things last year, but losing quarterback Sefo Liufau stings, too.

9. Arizona State

10. California

11. Oregon State

12. Arizona

—–

May 12th

Massey ratings … CU an 8-4 team

From Masseyratings.com … CU is rated as the No. 31 team in the nation.

Percentage chance of winning against each opponent:

— v. Colorado State … 70%

— Texas State … 99%

— Northern Colorado … 99%

— Washington … 35%

— at UCLA … 54%

— Arizona … 86%

— at Oregon State … 60%

… at Washington State … 39%

… California … 71%

… at Arizona State … 62%

… USC … 39%

… at Utah … 40%

—–

May 11th

Derek McCartney on All-Comeback team

From SportsOnEarth.com … As the 2017 season nears, we’ve compiled the best players at every position bouncing back from seasons partially or totally lost to year-ending injuries (plus one ineligibility ruling) on our All-Comeback Team.

— QB Josh Rosen – Utah

— RB Nick Wilson – Arizona

— OL Tyrell Crosby – Oregon

— OL Toa Lobendahn – USC

— DL Kylie Fitts – Utah

— DL/LB: Derek McCartney, Colorado. The grandson of legendary Colorado coach Bill McCartney, Derek McCartney had 11 ½ tackles for loss in 2015, but he tore his ACL last September, playing in only two games before missing the rest of Colorado’s breakthrough season. With so many key players gone from the Buffaloes defense — including tackle leader Kenneth Olugbode and sack leader Jimmie Gilbert — McCartney, voted a team captain, could return as the leader of the unit.

— LB Christian Sam – Arizona State

— LB Azeem Victor – Washington

—–

May 10th

Jon Wilner ranks the Pac-12 quarterbacks

From The San Jose Mercury News … The Hotline typically examines Pac-12 quarterback depth on a biannual basis, with an early look in January and a preseason ranking once depth charts are set in late August.

But the fluid state of the position in 2017 — the seemingly endless combination of new coaches, impact transfers, shoulder surgeries, starting competitions and unproven backups — prompted this additional, post-spring ranking of the Quarterback Comfort Quotient.

As always, the QBCQ represents a wholly subjective, case-by-case assessment of the quality of the starter and the options available if said starter is injured or yanked for poor performance.

12. Arizona

11. Cal

10. Arizona State

9. Utah

8. Colorado (previous: 9): As the Buffs hoped, sophomore Steven Montez was efficient and commanding during spring practice. That said, he has thrown just 131 career passes and lacks a proven backup. Rookie starter and rookie backups make a fragile combination.

7. Oregon State

6. Stanford

5. Oregon

4. UCLA

3. USC

2. Washington State

1. Washington

—–

May 9th

Jon Wilner’s post-spring Pac-12 rankings

From the San Jose Mercury News … While the 2016 results and the emerging narrative for ’17 point to the North as the vastly stronger division next season, I’m beginning to wonder if some measure of a re-balancing is in order.

If a talent gap exists on a divisional scale, it’s hardly insurmountable. And far more teams in the South than North under-performed in ’16.

The potential for multiple bounce-back seasons in the South, therefore, would seem significant.

1. Washington

2. USC

3. Stanford

4. Colorado: Defending division champs: Handling the expectations that come with those three words could be as challenging for the Buffs as replacing the lost personnel.

5. UCLA

6. Utah

7. Oregon

8. Washington State

9. Arizona State

10. Oregon State

11. California

12. Arizona

—–

May 7th

Composite of post-spring Top 25 rankings … Colorado nowhere to be found

From the Sporting News … Who is the preseason No. 1? Well, that depends on who you ask. Sporting News put its post-spring Top 25 up against five other publications — ESPNBleacher Report, CBSSports.com, Fox Sports and Athlon — to see what everybody else’s preseason rankings looked like. Four publications put Alabama at No. 1, while ESPN picked Ohio State and CBS Sports took Florida State.

Six schools received top-five votes across the six sites, including Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, USC, Penn State and defending national champion Clemson. Expect that to see that group make up most projected College Football Playoff fields.

TEAM POINTS
1. Alabama 147
2. Ohio State 142
3. Florida State 137
4. USC 134
5. Penn State 120
6. Clemson 119
7. Washington 111
8. Oklahoma 110
9. Oklahoma State 95
10. Auburn 92
11. Michigan 88
12. Wisconsin 80
13. LSU 76
14. Georgia 76
15. Stanford 67
16. Louisville 65
17. Kansas State 47
18. Florida 44
19. South Florida 43
20. Miami, Fla. 36
21. West Virginia 34
22. Texas 21
23. Tennessee 16
24. Oregon 14
25. Boise State 11

—–

May 3rd

Colorado facing 18:1 odds on winning Pac-12 championship

From sportsbookag.com … Pac-12 odds of winning Pac-12:

USC – 1/1
Washington – 3/1
UCLA – 15/2 … a team which finished 4-8 in 2016
Stanford – 10/1
Oregon – 12/1 … another team which finished 4-8 in 2016
Utah – 12/1 … a team which lost eight starters to the NFL
Washington State – 14/1 … a team which suffered not two tough losses to end the 2016 season (like CU), but three tough losses to end the 2016 season … including a loss to CU
Colorado – 18/1
Arizona State – 30/1
Arizona – 80/1
California – 80/1
Oregon St – 80/1

Week One betting odds

Buffs favored by eight points over Rams 

Some Week One betting lines for Pac-12 teams, from 5Dimes.com:

— Colorado – an 8.0-point favorite over Colorado State (Denver)

— Stanford – a 33.5-point favorite over Rice (Sydney, Australia)

— Washington – a 31.5-point favorite over Rutgers (at Rutgers)

— UCLA – a 2.0-point underdog at home against Texas A&M

— Cal – a 7.5-point underdog on the road against North Carolina

Stewart Mandel has four Pac-12 teams moving up in preseason Top 25 (but CU disappears)

From FoxSports.com … We learned a lot about various teams during spring football, enough to make some tweaks to the last Top 25 I published way back in January. Alabama retained the top spot, though I seriously considered Ohio State instead.

The Pac-12 … 

No. 3 – USC … up from No. 4 in January listing

No. 6 – Washington … up from No. 7

No. 11 – Stanford … up from No. 12

No. 21 – Washington State … up from No. 23

Just missed: Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech, Utah, Notre Dame

(Preseason – No. 25 UCLA)

(Preseason – Just missed: Virginia Tech, Utah, Colorado, Notre Dame, West Virginia)

Colorado only team to drop out of ESPN’s “Way Too Early” Top 25 after spring practices

From ESPN … Ohio State has supplanted Alabama as the No. 1 team in the third edition of the 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25. Florida State remains No. 2 and Alabama is No. 3, followed by USC, which gets the coveted fourth spot.

Every team from the Pac-12 conference dropped at least one spot from the last ESPN ranking, with Colorado, previously ranked No. 19, dropping out of the listing altogether. The Buffs were replaced by Florida, in as the No. 21 team in the nation …

The Pac-12 …

No. 4 – USC … previous ranking: No. 3

No. 9 – Washington … previous ranking: No. 7

No. 16 – Stanford … previous ranking: No. 15

No. 25 – Washington State … previous ranking: No. 21

The Sporting News updated Top 25

From The Sporting News … Spring football is in the books, and the next step toward a long summer before the 2017 season officially begins is updating our preseason college football rankings.

No. 2 – USC

No. 8 – Washington 

No. 18 – Stanford

No. 23 – Washington State

 

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27 Responses to “Preseason Magazines”

  1. ep

    you could say the UW pundits have taken a closer look at CU being in their conference as opposed to buffet line crashers on the East coast….or…..they might be trying to lull the Buffs to sleep.
    This team will go as far as the game time performances by the OC and DC will let them.

  2. ep

    anyone remember CFN’s CU prediction this time last year?

    • Stuart

      5-7, 3-6 … pretty fair considering CU was 4-9 in 2015 Link

      • ep

        yea but last in the South after 10-4?

        • Stuart

          I agree. It’s maddening how UCLA and Oregon – both 4-8 – are expecting banner seasons, while CU will revert back to less than mediocre.
          The Daily Camera article talks about how Virginia Tech and West Virginia, which were ranked with CU in the final AP poll and experienced similar personnel losses, are still showing up in preseason Top 25 rankings.
          Just hope the team uses this as motivation, and takes it out on the 2017 schedule …

          • ep

            sad thing is if the Buffs duplicate last year’s success Mac will probably be off to someplace where they talk funny at twice the salary. Maybe Leavitt will come back as an HC

          • Oregon Buff

            Good! Hope this gives every team we are facing this year a really nice false sense of security. Like it is often said on this sight, “everyone has a plan, until they get smacked in the mouth”. I think this team will be doing the smacking.

            GO BUFFS

  3. ep

    I cant find anything on the net about Pete Fiutak who writes for college football snooze. I did find enough reaction to Pete to realize he is mostly and uneducated troll….related to mark kisla?
    Trolling seems to be big these days….maybe its a money maker

  4. ep

    Thats a challenge to Phil….watch out

  5. VK

    Last year the Defense was a top performer on the field. One might say prolific performer.

    Pac 12 rankings
    Scoring defense……….#3
    Total defense…………#2
    Rushing defense……….#6
    Passing defense……….#2
    Hopefully they will continue that trend.

    Go Buffs

    • VK

      Funny Stuart

      • Stuart

        You stop repeating the same stats with every post, and I’ll stop deleting them … the first 45 times you posted the numbers were sufficient.

        • Old Codger

          Learning why VK single-handedly drove the BDC to eliminate their “Comments” section, eh Stuart?

          After a short while, VK (or whatever iteration thereof he uses this day or week) becomes more like a splinter under your fingernail, than a helpful commenter!

          • Viktor

            Nah that was politicos like you on the camera. Buffzone was fine. Got caught up in the “purge” by the liberal haters.

            You are factless which is typical. But you seem like an ok Ol Codger.

            Buffs

  6. buffnaustin

    I would place Whittinham as 1-B. Put him at a higher profile team I think he would be every bit as good as Peterson.

  7. ep

    Derek McCartney. What a man and a testament to the legacy of the original Mac. Buff pride.

  8. FightFightFightClub

    I didn’t come here to talk about Lindgren. The fact that he still has a job AMAZES me. CO-offensive coordinator is extremely generous.

    I didn’t come here to talk about Leave-it. Hopefully his success was a product of his players not his system. Or at least a 50-50 split. (Unfortunately, a lot of those players are in NFL minicamps right now.)

    I didn’t come here to talk about practice. (Allen Iverson was a Nugget for a minute.)

    I came here to talk about the Colorado Buffaloes. AND the The PRIDE and TRADITION of the Colorado Buffaloes will not be entrusted to the timid or the weak! (excluding Embree and Hawkins who painted over THAT sign)

    No matter what happens things will be OK. I won’t quit. I may curse the play calls, I may drink a little more than I should and I may even claim I could have made that field goal. But I won’t leave.

    I was a fan. I am a fan. I will be a fan.

    Good times and bad. Shoulder to Shoulder. Fight Fight Fight.

  9. ep

    Another big surprise for the “pundits” coming out of Colorado next season. They dont know the Montez potential and what an athlete he is

  10. Jim B

    The Buffs have to prove last year was not a fluke. I think winning at least nine games is a must. They just need to take care of business and the rankings will come.

    GO BUFFS !!!!!

  11. ep

    I have said it before and here it is again. These writers appeal to the big fan bases and the money. They are going to sell more magazines in LA than Boulder.
    Still I worry about the coaching more than the players. Eliot is a mystery and has some giant shoes to fill.
    Will Lindgren diversify the playbook and quit beating a dead horse play time and time again?

    • VK

      Lots of hope right here in Boulder city.

      I came here to hope,

      I hope Mac2 doesn’t believe all his own bullshit. Or the clippings, or the awards received.

      I hope Mac2 learns to listen to the whole question before he starts his “know-it-all repetitive and repeated word answers”.

      I hope Mac2 continues to be emotional

      I hope Elliot is better than Leavitt.

      I hope the defensive staff is overall better than the ones who chose to leave.

      I hope “the Co=Personalities” become one. And the new one becomes dominate.

      I hope Bernardi…………Never Mind.

      I hope the Oline finally lives above its hype.

      I hope the best receivers always get to play. Not the ones who have been here the longest or have relations. But the best ones period.

      I hope the buffs win 10

      Preseason ( a bit early) prediction from THE Victor Berlin Sports Conglomerate with offices worldwide

      Colorado State…………..W……………………42-21
      Texas State……………..W……………………39-16
      Northern Colorado………..W……………………56-17
      Washington………………w……………………42-35
      UCLA……………………L……………………27-24
      Arizona…………………W……………………46-20
      Oregon State…………….w……………………35-20
      Washington state…………L……………………49-48
      California………………W……………………42-17
      Arizona State……………W……………………35-21
      USC…………………….W……………………39-30
      Utah……………………W……………………27-24

      Buffs

    • Buff fan

      VK – The only thing more predictable than Lindgren is your constant whining about the play calling. Don’t get me wrong, Lindgren can improve but has every year. Last year was one of the more prolific offensive output in CU history. Glass is half full, not half empty. Go Buffs

      • VK

        Prolific? Wow. Middle offensive rankings in the Pac.

        Buffs

        • Buff fan

          Not comparing to other Pac 12 teams but former Buff teams (thus the words CU History)…. nothing pointed to Pac 12.

          • VK

            Yup but times have changed. Prolific then ain’t
            Prolific now.

            We will see. If the Co-oc’s can do it then great.
            Need to show it this year. Waiting.

            Defense carried the team last year.

            Just how it was

            The M-1 rifle can’t compete with the CAR-15

            Buffs

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