NCAAF: Arizona at Hawai’i

PAC-12 Logo     The Arizona Wildcats travel to Honolulu to face the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors in a season opening matchup.  This game will be played on opening night and has a time slot all to itself, sure to draw a national crowd.  Will one of these teams prove to be championship caliber or both fall into the sands of time?

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors expect improvement to last year’s 8-6 record.  This is likely to occur with the return of 17 starters, 8 on offense, 9 on defense.  The quarterback, Cole McDonald, returns with his top receiving threat on an offense that finished last season 9th in the country in passing yards per game.  The biggest weakness of this offense has been the running game (109.6 ypg) but returns four offensive lineman which should open up holes for the backs and relieve some of the pressure from the passing game.  The defense will need a big turnaround as they finished last season ranked lower than 100 in 3 of the 4 major statistical defensive categories.  Luckily, the Rainbow Warriors have some senior leadership and return almost every starter from last season.  The experience on that side of the ball will help and these Warriors will be too proud to just lay down.

The Arizona Wildcats come in hoping for a turnaround in year 2 under Coach Kevin Sumlin.   With star quarterback Khalil Tate, the offense looks to be primed for a breakout year.  Not only do most teams make the biggest jump from year 1 to year 2 in a new system but the Wildcats also return 8 starters on offense.  The offense wasn’t terrible last year (31.3 ppg) and has the potential to be much better this year.  Regardless of how strong the offense is, it can only carry you so far if the defense struggles as much as it did last season.  Arizona finished last place in pass defense for the PAC-12 last season and was one of the worst teams defending the pass in the nation!  This team is too talented to struggle this much defensively on an annual basis so, expect them to play better this year.

The game should provide plenty of fireworks and be a nice encore to the defensive slugfest that the Florida-Miami game looks to be shaping up as.  Expect the Arizona Wildcats from the PAC-12 to be far superior to the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors from the Mountain West.  The talent level that each of these schools recruit at are not close and it will show on the field.  With both teams fielding struggling defenses, expect plenty of points.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 45-26 Arizona Wildcat victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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Notre Dame: Is a Second Straight CFP Appearance in the Cards?

ND Logo     They say football is a game of inches.  That may be true but it is also a game of chance.  For a team to have a shot at glory many things must line-up, such as schedule strength, home v. away games, returning starters, and stability in coaching.  Does Notre Dame have what it takes to make a run at the College Football Playoffs for a second straight year?

Notre Dame went undefeated in the regular season last year and earned a shot at the Clemson Tigers last year.  The results were not pretty but they reached heights that few teams have managed to reach.  Of course, that is not a new feeling for the Fighting Irish as they are #6 in all-time wins and #2 in National Championships in the poll era.

The team returns seven starters on offense for Coach Brian Kelly.  This includes star quarterback Ian Book.  Once he was inserted in the offense last season, the Irish finally looked like they could be competitive on both sides of the ball.  The defense returns 6 starters and should be serviceable enough for a solid season.  The schedule is manageable but does include the regular cast of characters such as Stanford, Navy, USC, and the ACC matchups.  Where the problem lies for this squad is they have a monster matchup in Athens, Georgia against the highly-rated Bulldogs in the third game of the season.  They also must travel to Ann Arbor Michigan for the first time since renewing this rivalry against the hated Wolverines.

Despite their best efforts, the Elldee Sports Formula is predicting close road losses to both Georgia and Michigan.  This will send a top-tier Notre Dame team into the bowl season at 10-2.  Two losses this year will be too much to overcome and prevents the Irish from making the playoffs for a second year in a row.  Until next time, good luck!

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SEC: Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

SEC Logo     Elldee Sports finishes up the Power 5 Conference previews with a look at the Southeastern Conference.  They say humans have a “recent memory” bias and the most recent memory from this conference was a shellacking of the conference champion Alabama Crimson Tide, 44-16, at the hands of the ACC’s Clemson Tigers.  It is starting to look like the other conferences have caught up to the mighty SEC but don’t count them out just yet.

When breaking down the SEC West, you have to start in Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide.  The last time on the field, Alabama was thoroughly handled and it was not a good look for a team and fans who have had a hard time accepting defeat over the last decade.  They are ready to jump right back into the thick of the national conversation, though.  They return last year’s Heisman runner-up along with almost all of the skill positions.  Pair that with a defense that is always stout and you have a recipe for success.  The main chink in the Tide armor is the offensive line, as they have to replace 4/5 of it.  It also doesn’t help that they have serious competition this year in LSU and Texas A&M.  LSU has quite a few returning starters and Coach “O” begins his third year for the Tigers but the Elldee Sports formula doesn’t look as high on the Tigers as the pundits.  The experts say LSU finishes 2nd but we believe they are only going to win 7 and finish outside of the top 25.  Texas A&M is expected to be better in year 2 with Jimbo Fisher and QB Kellen Mond but Elldee Sports thinks they will finish just above LSU with only 8 wins.  This is in part due to a non-conference game against Clemson in Week 2.  The big surprise of the West will actually be the Mississippi State Bulldogs!  They have a favorable schedule and a super weak non-conference lineup.  Add that in with a solid coaching staff led by Joe Moorhead and we will see why he was brought in.  The Bulldogs of Starkville will win 11 and finish with one loss to undefeated Alabama for the West.

The East is a little different as it appears the Georgia Bulldogs are still head and shoulders over the rest of the division.  They really only have one game that is a toss-up and that is vs. arch-rival Florida at a neutral site.  There seems to be a large gap between the number 2 team and the number 3 team in the East.  The Elldee Sports Formula shows Georgia finishing with 11 wins, 12 if they can handle business in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Florida has a much more difficult path as they will have toss-ups vs. Georgia and LSU, plus a projected loss to the Missouri Tigers for the 3rd straight Season.  While still having a chance to win the East if they beat the Bulldogs and Tigers of Baton Rouge, the odds are not in their favor if they lose either when combined with a loss to Mizzou.

With Alabama winning the West and Georgia winning the East, we are primed for a third straight season where we see an exciting matchup between these two squads.  The hard part for Georgia fans is that things will play out the same, with Alabama winning 14-9 in Atlanta, propelling them into the CFB Playoff.  As the #1 seed, they will face the #4 seed Washington State Cougars.  Until next time, good luck.

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PAC-12: Wide-Open West Makes Things Intriguing

PAC-12 Logo     This time, Elldee Sports is looking out west to preview the PAC-12 Conference.  2019 appears to be a year that multiple teams can make the claim of being the top dog.  so who will emerge victorious and represent this power conference at the highest levels?  Let’s find out.

Starting in the uber-competitive North, the Oregon Ducks, Washington Huskies, and Washington State Cougars will duke it out for supremacy and a ticket to the conference championship game.  The Ducks are coming off of a 9-win season, bring in the top recruiting class in the conference, and return virtually every starter from a top 25 nationally-ranked scoring offense!  The cupboard is not bare on the other side of the ball, either, as the defense returns 7.  Honestly, most years, I think they would be a shoe in to win the conference but according to the Elldee Sports Formula, Oregon will drop back-to-back games to the teams from the state of Washington and finish third in the North with 10 wins.

Washington and Washington State are the cream of the crop in the PAC-12 North and these two cannot stand each other.  Chris Petersen is a proven great all-around coach but Mike Leach is possibly the best offensive mind in college football today.  Leach has the Cougars primed with 13 returning starters from a group that surprised last season and won 11 games.  Petersen, on the other hand, has to re-mold a defense that only returns two players in their 22-man rotation.  Washington has had the recruiting cache over the previous years that the talent level is there, they just need to see how fast the youngsters pick up the game plan.  Washington state has more returning starters but lost arguably their top player after QB Gardner Minshew graduated.  Luckily, Leach’s name carries a lot of weight and they picked up the top FCS QB in the country, ensuring the offense will be in good hands.  The North will come down to the Apple Cup in Seattle but the Cougars will exact revenge from their 13-point loss in Pullman last season and become the North Champion.

The PAC-12 South is a different story altogether, as Utah looks to have a stranglehold on the division.  In fact, Utah and USC are the only two schools that have a head coach who has been at the school more than a year.  That continuity and blue collar work ethic is what will set the Utes apart from their South Division brethren.  Expect Utah to only lose two games this season, a home game to Washington State and a trip to Seattle to play Washington.  The gap between Utah and the next best team in the division means that even those two losses will not keep them out of the PAC-12 Championship game.

The PAC-12 Championship game will create a rematch between Washington State and Utah.  This is an opportunity for Utah to save face and show the first match-up was a fluke.  The problem, though, is that the first game was not a fluke and if the Utes couldn’t win in Salt Lake City, why would they win in Santa Clara?  Give the nod to Washington State 9-7 which will propel the Cougars into the College Football Playoffs for the first time ever as a #4 seed!  Until next time, good luck!

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Big Ten: Who Will Be the Monster of the Mid-West?

Big Ten Logo v1     As the Elldee Sports staff continues to look at the upcoming season, the Big Ten is now in the crosshairs!  Will the Ohio State Buckeyes reign supreme for a third straight season or can a newcomer steal the crown?  Will Harbaugh finally be able to lead Michigan to a conference championship?  Is this the year that a team from the West Division finally breaks through and ends the 6-year championship drought?  Only time (and the Elldee Sports Formula) will tell.

Let’s begin in the West Division, where no team has won the conference since the Wisconsin Badgers pulled it off in 2012!  Nebraska could be a dark horse to win the West but that really comes down to how well the Cornhuskers have picked up Coach Scott Frost’s system.  When he coached at UCF, the Golden Knights were winless in year one and undefeated in year two.  I don’t think that Nebraska will go undefeated but they may be a contender or play spoiler at a minimum. Iowa has been close a few times but have not been able to close the deal.  It does not appear they are going to be able to pull it off this year either, although they have a better chance than most.  The schedule looks tough, including a road game in Madison which will decide the division.  Wisconsin will win the division on virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker as they will defeat Iowa at home.  The Badgers are always tough and prove to be so again this year, in a bounce back spot after a disappointing 2018 (according to Wisconsin standards).   Who will they play, though?

The East is a much different animal than the West.  While the traditional powers in the West lean on a strong defense and methodical offense, the East plays a more up-tempo game with solid defense and high-powered offenses.  Penn State and James Franklin are a solid group but Elldee Sports only predicts a 9-win season for the Nittany Lions.   A good year but not where Penn State wants to be year in and year out.  The reason they are predicted to lose three matchups plays mainly from the fact that they have to play Ohio State and Michigan.  Ohio State, the two-time defending conference champion, is on a roll and hopes to continue it’s strong play (and they will).  They have continued to recruit at an amazing pace, ensuring they will be formidable for years to come!  It just won’t be strong enough as this is the year that Michigan will finally give Jim Harbaugh his much anticipated win over their hated nemesis from the state to the East.  The Big House will be rocking and all the pieces will fall into place.

The Big Ten Championship Game will feature the Wisconsin Badgers vs. the Michigan Wolverines for the second time this season.  The Wolverines will win in Madison early in the season, on Sept. 21st and then win again in Indianapolis to finish the season.  This will cap off an undefeated season and sneak the Wolverines into the College Football Playoffs as the #3 seed for a date with the Clemson Tigers.  Until next time, Good Luck!

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ACC: Can Anyone Challenge Clemson for the Conference Throne?

ACC Logo v1     Is Clemson unbeatable or will they finally be knocked off their throne in the Atlantic Coast Conference?  Elldee Sports has run the formula for schedules in each conference and come up with projected champions.  Today, we will discuss the ACC.

Let’s go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room.  Clemson is the 800-pound gorilla in College Football, right now.  Although, anyone who has watched NCAA Football for more than 10 years understands that nobody can stay on top forever, just ask USC and Florida of the 2000’s!  So, is this the year that they are challenged and ultimately knocked down a peg?  Don’t count on it.  The ACC is not particularly strong this season and outside of Texas A&M at home, the non-conference schedule is not particularly daunting.  Clemson faces Charlotte, Wofford, and travels to a mediocre South Carolina club to close out the season.  Additionally, their two cross-over games in the conference are Georgia Tech and UNC, both of which are struggling and will be breaking in first-year coaches.  Count on Clemson to reign supreme in the ACC Atlantic once again.

So, who will be there to face the defending national champs in the ACC Championship?  Could it be the Virginia Cavaliers and Coach Bronco Mendenhall, who has done a good job of steadily increasing the play of his team?  How about Justin Fuente and the Hokies of Virginia Tech, an always stingy defense with an offense trying to turn the corner?  While both of these teams can compete in the Coastal Division, after running simulations, it will be the Miami Hurricanes and new coach Manny Diaz who will emerge as the victors.  Manny Diaz may be another first-year coach but after coaching the defense for the last 3 years, he is more than familiar with this team.  The schedule also sets up nicely as they get a bye week prior to Virginia Tech and follow that up with Virginia in back to back home games.  The cross-over games include arch-nemesis Florida State but also a Louisville team that is floundering.  Not to mention, the Hurricanes only have to leave the state of Florida three times this season.  The prediction has them dropping a close one to the Florida Gators in Orlando to open the season and following that loss up by reeling off 11 straight wins, earning them the right to face Clemson as the Coastal Division champs!

The formula is calling for a Clemson victory over the Miami Hurricanes in a low scoring, hard fought, defensive game in the ACC Championship.  This will allow for the Clemson Tigers to once again make the CFB Playoffs.  What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with this prediction or is this just a bunch of hot air?  Until next time, Good Luck!

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NCAA Football: Who Can Match Their Vegas Win Total?

Vegas has released their numbers for win total over/unders.  By running the numbers through the Elldee Sports Formula, I was able to determine some of the largest discrepancies.  This is always a fun exercise in the doldrums of summer between football and basketball seasons.  Below are a list of top looks:

Syracuse:  O/U 5 — Total wins 10

Virginia Tech:  O/U 8.5 — Total wins 6

Miami:  O/U 8.5 — Total wins 11

Texas:  O/U 9.5 — Total wins 9

Washington State:  O/U 8.5 — Total wins 12

South Carolina:  O/U 6 — Total wins 3

Of course, these are just a few teams of interest.  I am very shocked at the number of 5 for Syracuse when I predict 10.  Additionally, the numbers show a very impressive year for Washington State with a potential run to the playoffs!  Are there any thoughts on these numbers?  How about other teams?  If there are any particular teams you would like me to run the numbers for, please let me know in the comments and I will run their schedules.  Thanks for the read.

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