College football preview

college football preview 2011

This week starts another exciting season of college football. Even though the games haven’t started, there is plenty of intrigue and suspense. Opening weekend has two games in which both teams are ranked in the top 25.

Boise State, ranked No. 5, will be looking to get revenge for the embarrassing 48-13 loss in 2005 against No. 19 Georgia in the Georgia Dome Saturday night, Sept.3, at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

Also on Saturday night, No. 3 Oregon, who played in the BCS Championship game last season, will face No. 4 LSU in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium at 6 p.m. on ABC. This will be an intriguing game. Not only because both teams have national championship hopes, but also because of the circumstances surrounding the game. Oregon has only lost four games since Chip Kelly took over as Head Coach. His success mainly comes because of his offense, which is incredibly complex and incredibly fast, but is supported by an excellent defense.

Most teams are completely dumbfounded with his offense and don’t have a clue how to handle it. He runs a twist on the spread offense, which is very common in college football, but he has changed it enough to cause teams to need more than one week to prepare. In fact, all four of Oregon’s losses, during Kelly’s tenure, have come when the other team had more than one week to prepare for the game, and in three of the four losses the opposing team had over a month to prepare. This is a huge advantage for LSU who has had the entire off-season to prepare for Oregon.

On the other hand, Oregon has an unexpected advantage in this game. LSU will be missing two of their star players. Starting quarterback Jordan Jeferson, who has been suspended indefinitely following his recent arrest, and wide receiver Russell Shepard, who has been suspended for one game by the NCAA.

Usually by this time of the year, any conference realignment has been finished and settled, but not this year. On Thursday, Dan BeeBe, Big XII’s conference commissioner, received a letter from the President of Texas A&M, Bowen Loftin, in which Loftin stated, “relating to Texas A&M University’s conference alignment … we are exploring our options.”

Last summer, Texas A&M almost left for the SEC and it is widely speculated that they will actually pull the trigger this time around. This has caused a stir for many schools because the Big XII has made it clear that they want to be a 10-team conference so they would have to add another team, many have speculated BYU, TCU, Air Force, Notre Dame, Houston, or SMU could be invited if Texas A&M leaves.

Both of the Division I, FBS schools in the state are going through the season in a completely different atmosphere than ever before. The University of Utah will be playing its first season in the Pac-12 conference, one of six conferences that receive an automatic bid to one of the BCS games every year. BYU’s football team will be experiencing their first season as an independent. Utah will be guaranteed a bid to a BCS bowl if they win the Pac-12 championship. BYU doesn’t have such a guarantee.

BYU’s only BCS guarantee occurs if they are ranked in the top 2, which would sent them to the BCS National Championship game, but they do have the freedom to schedule whomever they want for all of their games. They also have a great contract with ESPN, which includes plenty of broadcasting freedom for BYUtv, 10 of their 12 games this season are slated to be televised on one of the ESPN channels (http://byucougars.com/schedule/m-football/2011) and the only home game that won’t be on an ESPN channel can be watched on BYUtv or streamed live on BYUtv’s website.

Utah, as part of the PAC-12, will also have many games broadcast in the national spotlight, but many of the specific details are still not known.

Utah’s opening game will be Thursday evening against Montana State at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast locally on KJZZ. Montana State is a Division 1 school, but they are in the FCS subdivision, the same as SUU and Weber State. This game is the perfect opportunity for Utah, who is heavily favored to win, to shake off the rust and get things going. This will be critical because in week two, Utah has to travel to Southern California to face national powerhouse USC.

On Saturday, BYU will travel to Oxford Mississippi to play Ole Miss. The game starts at 3:45 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN; it will also be rebroadcast on BYUtv at 9:30 p.m.

This SEC team, like almost every SEC team, has an incredible defense almost every year. BYU will need a much better start this season than they had last season in order to have a successful year. Even though the game is in Oxford, BYU is favored to win.

BYU has an established starting quarterback in Jake Heaps. Heaps struggled early last season throwing seven interceptions and only two touchdowns in the first eight games, but finished strong throwing 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions in the last five games.

Ole Miss does not have an established quarterback. Their quarterback, Barry Brunetti, is a transfer from West Virginia and has not started a single game. At West Virginia, he threw a total of nine passes, completing 3 of 5 for 0 yards against Coastal Carolina and 1 of 4 for 6 yards against UNLV. Between his inexperience and his lack of familiarity with the Ole Miss offense, BYU should not struggle containing the Ole Miss passing game. However, they may struggle putting points on the board against that SEC defense.

Dixie State will start their football season Saturday at 6 p.m. at home against Adams State College. Coach Scott Brumfield has added three assistant coaches this season.

“We are fortunate to be adding these quality coaches. They bring an enormous amount of experience and will certainly make an immediate difference in our program,” Brumfield was quoted as saying in a press release.

Former Dixie State player Judd Thompson will be serving as the quarterback coach. Brumfield also hired Derek Campbell, who was the defensive line coach at Snow College, and Robert Grant, who was a graduate assistant at BYU helping out with the linebackers and special teams.

SUU, who will be playing their last season in the Great West Conference, will also start on Saturday when they go to South Dakota to play the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, who went 5-6 last year. SUU has improved every year since Ed Lamb took over as Head coach back in December 2007.  When he took over, the team had just finished the 2007 season without a single victory. Last year, the Thunderbirds finished the season as the Great West Conference Champions.

sports@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

UPDATE: Texas A&M University today officially notified the Big 12 Conference that the institution will submit an application to join another athletic conference. Should this application be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012.”

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