Illinois v Washington Game Preview

Illinois @ Washington

Husky Stadium, Seattle, Washington

9pm Irish Time September 13th 2014 (FOX Network)

The scoreboard operator could be kept mighty busy on Saturday when Illinois visits Washington in nonconference play. The Huskies had to score 59 points to hold off pesky FCS foe Eastern Washington last week, while the Fighting Illini ripped off 21 fourth-quarter points to produce a 42-34 win over Western Kentucky. Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt is off to a fantastic start while Washington’s Cyler Miles played well in his return from a one-game suspension.

Fighting Illini coach Tim Beckman has won just eight games in two-plus seasons at the helm but is now aiming to have Illinois start 3-0 for just the fifth time in 25 years. “Our motto this week will be Fight for Five,” Beckman said at his weekly press conference. “Our players are focused in on how we’re going to get ourselves better, how we’re going to travel out to the West Coast and play a very good Washington football team.” The Huskies are still trying to find their groove under new coach Chris Petersen.

Illinois running the Read-Option
Illinois running the Read-Option

Wes Lunt, a transfer from Oklahoma State, has passed for 741 yards and seven touchdowns and his 456 yards against Western Kentucky are fourth-most in school history. His early-season mastery of the offense has been so prolific that the Illini have converted 17-of-28 third-down attempts (60.7 percent to rank ninth nationally) and 7-of-8 fourth-down attempts. Middle linebacker Mason Monheim and free safety Taylor Barton (77-yard interception for touchdown against Western Kentucky) share the team lead with 21 tackles while cornerback V’Angelo Bentley (13 tackles) is averaging 26.4 yards on kickoff returns.

Cyler Miles passed for 180 yards and one touchdown and ran for three scores while energizing an offense that struggled to score 17 points against Hawaii in the opener. The defense will be without a key player as cornerback Marcus Peters was benched in the second half of the Eastern Washington game after drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and has reportedly been suspended for the Illinois game. Standout nose tackle Danny Shelton (nation-leading six sacks) will be on the field after becoming the fifth player in program history to record four of more sacks in a game in the Eastern Washington contest.

PREDICTION: Illinois 38, Washington 45

Kentucky v Florida Game Preview

Kentucky @ Florida

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida

12.30am (Saturday night) September 14th 2014 (SEC Network)

The Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators are both undefeated, and in Gainesville on Saturday, it will be time to put up or shut up for both teams. This game means more than just a leg up in the SEC East. It will be a proving ground for two programs still smarting from poor seasons and looking to regain some confidence. Both have played their early season tune-up games, won handily and now the real season starts. Lots of questions will be answered on Saturday that could not be found in victories over the likes of Eastern Michigan and UT-Martin.

Florida is looking to cool Will Muschamp‘s hot seat, and a big win over the Wildcats could begin that process. This is a night game in Gainesville, where Kentucky has had almost no success. In fact, Florida has not lost to Kentucky since 1986, many of those wins coming by way of double-digit blowouts. The new-look Gator offense looked extremely proficient last weekend, and if that performance can be repeated, the Wildcats may be in for a whole heap of trouble.

Florida needs to win big here; a last second squeaker will not quell the angst reverberating off the walls of the Swamp. If Kentucky can penetrate defensively and create turnovers, the Florida boo-birds could come out in full force. It is no secret that this season is make or break, so the slightest misstep will be magnified by fans and media alike. There are plenty of fans who want Muschamp to succeed and there are just as many who wanted him gone five minutes ago. Quarterback Jeff Driskel will need to lead the Gator offense to the end zone early and often. Dante Fowler and the defense will need to put Kentucky Quarterback Patrick Towles on his back and eliminate any threat of an upset in the first half.

For Kentucky, this will be a statement game. Mark Stoops has revived interest in a program that has really struggled this decade. While this may not be the Gators of the 1990s or mid-2000s, it is still Florida. Hanging a loss on the Gators on their home turf would undeniably catapult the Wildcats into a new realm of football euphoria, a feeling that has largely escaped Lexington in recent years. Even if Kentucky hangs around and loses a close one, it would still send a message to the rest of the conference that the Cats are no longer the pushover of the division.

Kentucky reels in a one hander for a TD
Kentucky reels in a one hander for a TD

Taking the crowd out of the game is absolutely key to this victory. The Swamp gets awfully hostile when Florida is rolling, and Towles’ response to pressure will be the difference in the Cats hanging in or getting crushed once again in Gainesville. A resounding defeat will lead to the “same old Kentucky” arguments that have plagued the program for years. Competing for an East title may not be in the equation this year, but dealing this knockout blow to the Gators and possibly Muschamp’s head coaching tenure would have the national media talking about Kentucky more than just the school where Jared Lorenzen used to play.

All signs point to a Florida victory, but there are some positive winds blowing through the bluegrass right now. Stoops and company keeping their poise against a crowd clamoring for a bloodletting will speak volumes for the state of the program. Rest assured, this game is one to watch.

PREDICTION: Kentucky 17, Florida 35

 

Tennessee v Oklahoma Game Preview

Tennessee @  Oklahoma

Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma

1am Irish Time (Saturday night) September 14th 2014 (ABC Network)

It hasn’t taken much effort for the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners to start 2-0 this season and that might have some people close to the program worried heading into this Week 3 matchup against an SEC foe. However, the Sooners are gelling as a team before they hit the tough part of their schedule. This could be the year Butch Jones leads the Tennessee Volunteers to the distinction of “contender” in the SEC. It has been quite a few years since the Volunteers have actually earned the right to be called a contender, but the new head coach has the team headed in the right direction and a win against Oklahoma would be quite the program-builder.

Bob Stoops could possibly have his most talented Oklahoma team ever in 2014. There really is no ceiling for this team as he has put together quite the unit and the offense is stronger than it has been in quite some time. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight leads the way for the offense with his 552 yards and three touchdowns through the air as well as his 52 yards and a score on the ground. Sterling Shepard has stepped up to give the young starter some help in the passing game by grabbing 12 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns while Durron Neal hasn’t exactly been a slouch, either, catching eight passes for 112 yards. Don’t sleep on the 42nd-ranked rushing attack behind Keith Ford and his 138 yards and four touchdowns on 7.3 yards per carry. Alex Ross has given the Sooners a solid one-two punch with his 126 yards and three scores on the ground.

Oklahoma will be Tennessee’s first true test of the season and that is exactly what the Volunteers need heading into conference play in two weeks. Senior quarterback Justin Worley has basically gotten two warm-up games to prepare for the Sooners and he has looked much improved from a season ago. Worley has passed for 520 yards and five touchdowns after throwing just 10 touchdowns all of last season. Marquez North has been Worley’s top target, catching eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns while Von Pearson has been hot on his heels with seven catches for 98 yards and a score. The run game, however, has not been nearly as impressive, ranking 91st in the nation in terms of yards per game. Jalen Hurd leads all rushers with 112 yards and a score on 34 carries – just a 3.3 yards per carry average – while Marlin Lane has 95 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Tennessee celebrate a TD
Tennessee celebrate a TD

Defensively, the Volunteers have allowed just an average of 13 points per game this season, but haven’t quite played an opponent with a potent offense until now. The Volunteers have allowed an average of just 288 total yards per game through the first two, including an average of just 120 on the ground. Oklahoma has also been quite stingy, allowing just 11.5 points per game as well as just about 286 total yards per contest. Neither team has been truly tested yet.

PREDICTION: Tennessee 24, Oklahoma 41

Are these the Tees you’re looking for?

Are you a fan of college football and Star Wars? Well they’re coming together in a new line of merchandise. The range includes T-shirts, caps, and hoodies. They’ll be available at Old Navy (who ship to Ireland) and Kohls.

starwarsncaa

 

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

The colleges participating are:

The University of Alabama
The University of Arizona
Arizona State University
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Auburn University
Boise State University
Boston College
BYU
University of California, Berkeley
University of Cincinnati
The Citadel
Clemson University
University of Colorado
University of Connecticut
University of Florida
Florida State University
Georgetown University
University of Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Illinois
The University of Kansas
LSU
University of Louisville
University of Maryland
The University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Mississippi
University of Missouri
University of Nebraska
Northwestern University
The University of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University
University of the Pacific
The Pennsylvania State U
University of Pittsburgh
Purdue University
State Univ. of New Jersey, Rutgers
San Diego State University
University of South Carolina
University of South Florida
Syracuse University
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Texas A&M University
Texas Christian University
Texas Tech University
UCLA
U.S. Air Force Academy
University of Utah
Vanderbilt University
The University of Virginia
Virginia Tech
Villanova University
Wake Forest University
Washington State University
Weber State University
West Virginia University
University of Wisconsin

 

Please excuse the cheesy and predictable title!

New Notre Dame Under Armour Gear Available

Quick take our money!


 

The Notre Fame Fighting Irish have signed up with Under Armour to kit them out for the 2014 Season.

 


The Under Armour online shop now has all the Irish gear available here. We warn you though….it’s not cheap!

 

Michigan State v Oregon Game Preview

 

Michigan State @ Oregon

Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon

11.30pm Irish Time September 6th 2014 (FOX Network)

Rolling past FCS power Jacksonville State in week one seemed to be a breeze for the Michigan State Spartans as Coach Mark Dantonio‘s team took a commanding 38-0 lead into halftime and coasted the rest of the way with the second and third stringers. The Spartans will face their toughest test of the season this weekend in Eugene. Featuring one of the best teams in the nation seemingly season after season, the always flashy Oregon Ducks will take the field against the Spartans in Week 2 as the No. 3 team in the nation. This will be the first matchup of top-10 teams of the season and it could make for one electric atmosphere come Saturday evening.

Everyone was holding their breath after Connor Cook went down after the Spartans’ first touchdown of the season — a long pass to Tony Lippett. However, the junior signal caller limped off the field just to return a minute later on Michigan State’s next drive to throw yet another long touchdown pass. Cook looked like an early-season Heisman candidate, passing for 285 yards and three scores while completing 12 of 13 passes — that was all just one half of work. Lippett finished as Cook’s favorite target with 167 yards and two long touchdowns on just four catches; tight end Josiah Price had three catches for 54 yards. Jeremy Langford had a tough time finding holes as the running back finished with 57 yards on 13 carries before leaving with an injury.

Michigan State celebrate a TD

Oregon blew South Dakota out of the water in week one, racking up 62 points behind the strong arm of Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota. The junior quarterback finished with 267 passing yards and three touchdowns on 14-20 passing as well as 43 rushing yards and a score before departing and giving way to backup Jeff Lockie who was 11 for 12 with 113 yards and a touchdown. The passing attack did not miss a beat from last year’s potent squad. Byron Marshall led all receivers with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard score in the second quarter from Mariota. Marshall also led the run game with 90 yards on eight carries while Royce Freeman had 75 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Defensively, Oregon gave up an elevated amount of yards to North Dakota, 370 yards to be exact, while the Ducks had a tough time slowing down the run. Oregon will need to buckle down on defense if it plans on slowing down Langford and the potent passing attack behind Cook. Michigan State has one of the best defenses in the nation even though it lost some key starters from last year. The Spartans held Jacksonville State to a mere 22 rushing yards in week one — 0.9 yards per attempt. They will need to do the same to contain Marshall and Mariota in Week 2.

PREDICTION: Michigan State 31, Oregon 28

USC V Stanford Game Preview

USC @ Stanford

Stanford Stadium, California

8.30pm Irish Time September 6th 2014 (ABC Network & ESPN 3)

It seems like just yesterday when the #14 ranked USC Trojans were being led out of the tunnel by head coach Lane Kiffin and now they are led by strong-minded Steve Sarkisian. It also seems like just yesterday when the offense looked doomed for failure and now that is the least of the Trojans’ worries. A Week 1 stomping of Fresno State should ease the mind of Trojan fans everywhere. Coming off a Rose Bowl loss in 2013, the #13 ranked Stanford Cardinal entered the 2014 season with a lot to prove under a veteran quarterback and one of the best coaches in the nation. Stanford returns one of the best defenses in the nation and it proved that in a week one handling of FCS squad UC Davis.

USC layin the wood on rivals UCLA
USC layin the wood on rivals UCLA

While it took weeks upon weeks to find a solid starting quarterback in 2013, the Trojans have settled on junior QB Cody Kessler who impressed in a Week 1 blowout. Kessler was responsible for five USC touchdowns as he passed for four and ran one in. The junior racked up 394 yards on 25 of 37 completions to go along with 28 yards on the ground. Former 5-star high school prospect John ‘JuJu’ Smith made his first collegiate game look easy, catching four passes for 123 yards while Nelson Agholor had five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Javorius Allen led the strong rushing attack, which had 277 yards on the ground as a unit, with 133 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

Stanford also jumped all over its opponent in Week 1, but the Cardinal faced a far less superior team in UC Davis. The Cardinal, led by quarterback Kevin Hogan, had a lot of rushing yards to replace since Tyler Gaffney departed after last season. Barry Sanders will likely carry the load in the run game this season, but he finished with just 43 yards on a measly seven carries. While the run game was just about average in Week 1, the passing game looked solid behind Hogan. The third-year starter was 12-16 for 204 yards and three touchdowns while he threw one interception. Stanford will hope that he lives up to his potential this season and lead them to a national title. Hogan’s favorite target, as it will likely be all season, was the electric Ty Montgomery who had five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Stanford was one of the best units in the nation a season ago and proved that in the season opener against UC Davis, holding the opponent to just 115 yards of total offense — 54 yards through the air and 61 on the ground. Stanford allowed just six first downs all game to the Aggies. The Trojans faced a tougher opponent in Fresno State, but still held their own, allowing just 317 yards of offense — almost identical numbers allowed against the rush and pass.

PREDICTION: USC 24, Stanford 31

Michigan v Notre Dame Game Preview

Michigan v Notre Dame Game Preview

Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana

12.30am Irish Time September 7th 2014 (NBC Network)

The last game (for now) in the long rivalry between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan Wolverines takes place this Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame is hoping for better luck in this year’s prime time game than it had last year as the Irish lost in an early-season bout with the Wolverines. Michigan avoided another upset at the hands of Appalachian State in Week 1 — and it wasn’t even close this time. The Wolverines begin the season 1-0 with a lot to prove and they are looking to become the premier team in the state for the first time in years. A win against Notre Dame on the road would be huge for Michigan’s confidence.

Everett Golson is back and seemingly better than ever for the Fighting Irish. After missing the entire 2013 season due to an academic suspension, Golson has returned to form in 2014, passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns on 14-22 completions in the opener against Rice. The senior quarterback has all the momentum in the world right now and he has a favorite target in William Fuller already as DaVaris Daniels remains suspended. Fuller led all receivers in week one with 85 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston both accounted for 71 rushing yards in week one while Bryant had the only touchdown between the two.

Notre Dame's New Under Armor Uniforms for 2014

Devin Gardner remained a big question mark heading into the 2014 season. No, not whether or not he could stay healthy, but whether or not he could produce at the level Michigan needed him to be at. After one game, Brady Hoke is hopeful that his senior quarterback can lead the team. Gardner finished week one with 173 yards and three touchdowns on 13-14 passing. Tight end Devin Funchess was Gardner’s favorite target — as he might be all season long — as he caught seven passes for 95 yards and all three of Gardner’s touchdown tosses. Derrick Green revived Michigan’s running game with 170 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries while De’Veon Smith had 115 yards and two scores on just eight carries.

 

Defensively, this game will be relatively even. The Wolverines held Appalachian State to just 14 points and 280 total yards while slowing the pass game down and holding the opposing quarterbacks to just 127 yards on 17 completions in 33 attempts. Notre Dame allowed Rice to rack up 367 yards and also allowed 17 points. The Fighting Irish struggled against the pass and that could give Gardner enough of a reason to have a big day on Saturday. This game might come down to a last minute touchdown and is certainly one to watch for Irish college football fans.

PREDICTION: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 34

Clemson Tigers v Georgia Bulldogs Game Preview

 

Clemson Tigers v Georgia Bulldogs Game Preview


Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
5.30pm GMT August 30th (ESPN)
images-4
Richt will have to prepare for life after Aaron Murray

Heading into the 2014 season with a new quarterback under center has to be a scary thought for Mark Richt and the #12 ranked Georgia Bulldogs after watching Aaron Murray break records during his time there. However, the Bulldogs have enough pieces returning on both sides of the ball that will ease the departure of the record-setting QB. On the same note, the #16 ranked Clemson Tigers will also be heading into the 2014 season without a quarterback who they’ve been used to seeing behind center for years, Tajh Boyd. The Tigers do, however, have some depth at the position and will be in good hands. Don’t be surprised if Clemson makes a run at the College Football Playoff this season.

Georgia’s six returning starters on offense don’t exactly make up for the departure of Murray, but, like I said earlier, it definitely eases the transition into a new era. Senior quarterback Hutson Mason will be taking over at the position, having some experience from when he had replaced Murray following a torn ACL in 2013. Mason finished with 968 yards and five touchdowns while completing 60.9 percent of his passes over the course of four games. He will have Heisman hopeful junior running back Todd Gurley to take some pressure off the passing game. Gurley finished the 2013 season with 989 yards and 10 touchdowns while still missing five games.

While Georgia’s quarterback situation seems a bit tense and unreliable, the Clemson QB situation might be one that is more solidified and trustworthy. Senior Cole Stoudt rose from a three-player QB battle during the spring and made it clear that he should be the team’s No. 1 guy. His accuracy is hard to ignore as he completed 79.7 percent of his 59 pass attempts in 2013. Losing first round draft pick WR Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant will hurt Stoudt and the passing game a bit, but Adam Humphries will be the possession receiver and main target who Clemson desperately needs. The running back situation is a bit more clouded than most as there are three or four guys who could potentially win the starting job.

Defensively, the Bulldogs weren’t as impressive in 2013 as they were used to being in previous years. With a new defensive coordinator, Georgia looks to improve on their 78th national ranking in scoring defense and 45th ranking in total defense. Clemson returns six starters on defense, including All-American Vic Beasley, and will be much improved — and veteran — than the 2013 squad. The Tigers ranked 24th in scoring defense and 25th in total defense last season.

PREDICTION: Clemson 20, Georgia 28

 

Ohio State v Navy Game Preview

Ohio State v Navy Game Preview


M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
5pm GMT August 30th 2014 (CBS Network)

Having won 24 straight games under Urban Meyer before two consecutive losses to finish the 2013 season, v Michigan State in the Big 10 Championship Game and v Clemson in the Orange Bowl, the #5 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes knew one thing was for certain: they were building back into a national powerhouse. Losing Braxton Miller for the entire season will hurt the Buckeyes, however, as they are no longer the Big Ten favourites.

Opening the season with Ohio State at home has to be a dream come true for many Navy Midshipmen players as they now have the chance to upset one of the nation’s top teams in a game which no one is giving them a chance. Navy finished the 2013 season with a 9-4 record and it returns 15 starters.

Ohio State, as stated earlier, will be without top quarterback Braxton Miller who was forced out of practice last week with a shoulder injury and it turned out to be more serious than initially thought. The Heisman-hopeful quarterback is out for the season and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett will be replacing the injured Miller. The freshman quarterback will have a few solid targets to throw to, including senior wide out Devin Smith who caught 42 passes for 655 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The run game is in limbo right now as Carlos Hyde moved on to the next level with the San Francisco 49ers, leaving sophomore stud Ezekiel Elliott to carry the load.

Navy is consistently known for its running game and the 2013 season was no exception. Averaging over 325 rushing yards per game, the Midshipmen were the second-best running team in all of college football. With a solid run game, however, comes an inadequate passing game as Navy passed for just 85 yards per game behind run-first QB Keenan Reynolds. The junior quarterback is considered a dual-threat even though he passed for only 1,057 yards and eight scores last season. He did rush for 1,346 yards and an astounding 31 touchdowns on the ground. Reynolds in the machine that keeps the offense flowing.

Defensively, the Midshipmen were a middle-of-the-pack type of unit. Not excelling in any aspect of the defensive game, Navy ranked 40th in scoring defense and 57th in total yards allowed per game last season. Ohio State ranked 28th in scoring defense, ninth in rushing defense and 46th in total defense, but was lousy against the pass, ranking 110th in the nation. With just one returning starter in the secondary and losing defensive leaders LB Ryan Shazier and CB Bradley Roby in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buckeyes could be in trouble yet again.

PREDICTION: Navy 14, Ohio State 34