- Geno Smith went to complete 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards, moving past Marc Bulger (8,153) to set the school record for career yards passing (8,191). He also has thrown for 734 yards and nine touchdowns. All while only throwing nine incompletions in two weeks. Yes, the same number of incompletions as touchdowns. Just like RG3 last year. Continue reading
- West Virginia became the fifth team in 15 years to score 65 or more points in consecutive games. They put up 70 on Clemson in last year’s Orange Bowl and beat Marshall 69-34 Saturday.
- Missouri’s Marcus Murphy had quite a day in the Tigers’ rout of Southeastern Louisiana. Murphy became the first Tiger ever with two punt returns for score in the same game when he took punts back for 70 and 72 yards. He finished the game with 180 yards on five punt returns, breaking the school record of 156 previously held by NFL Hall of Famer Roger Wehrli set Oct. 21, 1967.
- Missouri scored two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter. The last time Tigers had two defensive scores in a game was 2006 at Texas Tech.
- Notre Dame scored 50 points against Navy on Saturday. it’s the most points the Fighting Irish have scored in a season-opener since scoring 52 against Purdue in 1983. It’s the fourth-most since 1920/
- Tavarres King recorded his sixth career reception of 50+ yards to score for Georgia. Since King’s freshman year in 2009, only two SEC receivers have more catches of 50+ yards: Cobi Hamilton (Arkansas) and Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), with eight each.
- Ryan Nassib set new Syracuse records for single-game pass yards (470), passes (65) and completions (44) against Northwestern. The previous pass yards record was held by Marvin Graves, set in 1992.
- Northwestern allowed 28 points in the 2nd half at Syracuse, blowing a 35-13 lead before coming back to win in the final minute. In 2011, Northwestern allowed the most 2nd half points in the Big Ten. Syracuse allowed 21 second half points in the game. Last year, Cuse allowed 172 2nd half points, 2nd most in the Big East.
- Urban Meyer led the Buckeyes to 56 points in his Ohio State head coaching debut. It was the 2nd-most points by any Ohio State head coach in their first game on the sidelines in school history. John Wilce’s team put up 58 in 1913 against Ohio Wesleyan.
- Urban Meyer is now 4-0 in his debuts as head coach at a new school, winning by an average of just under 23 points. The 56 points scored and the 46-point margin of victory Saturday against Miami (OH) are also Meyer’s highs in a debut at a new school.
- Penn State hadn’t lost a season-opener since 2001, when they lost to Miami (FL). They haven’t lost a season-opener to a non-BCS AQ conference team (current BCS AQ) since 1967, lost at Navy. Until Saturday, that is, when they lost to Ohio.
- Despite scoring 62 points, North Carolina finished three points shy of tying the school record and had its best output since beating Ohio 62-0 under Mack Brown in September 1995. It was also the Tar Heels’ first shutout since beating Duke 38-0 to close the 1999 season.
- UTSA picked up it’s first FBS victory, with a comeback win against fellow FBS newbie South Alabama.
- Cal Lost to Nevada for only the second time at home in 25 tries and first since 1903.
- Florida won it’s 23rd consecutive opener. That’s second nationally behind Nebraska’s 27 consecutive opening wins.
- With it’s win over Tulsa, Iowa State has won nine of it’s last 10 openers.
- Chase Rettig threw for 441 yards against Miami, the sixth-highest single-game total in school history and most since Glenn Foley threw for 448 yards in 1993.
- Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had been known for his running. Saturday, he showed America he can also pass. Martinez threw for a career-high 354 yards and rushed for only 10 as the Huskers won their 27th consecutive opener.
- Wisconsin won it’s 17th consecutive home game, tied with LSU for longest streak.
- With his third quarter touchdown run, Montee Ball has now scored a touchdown in each of his last 21 games, dating back to 2010.
- Jim McElwain became the first Colorado State coach to win his debut in 42 years Saturday when the Rams rallied past their arch rival for a 22-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.
- New Mexico scored 66 points in its opener against Southern. That puts the Lobos almost halfway to their total of 144 points scored all last season. The Lobos scored 38 points in the second quarter, as many as they totaled in the final six games last season.
- Dustin Hopkins, who is on pace to shatter both the school and Atlantic Coast Conference scoring records, added field goals of 28 and 30 yards and extended his string of successful consecutive point after kicks to 139. Hopkins now has 341 career points, 53 shy of the league and school records.
- Pittsburgh’s loss to Youngstown State was the school’s first in 11 all-time games against FCS opponents. It was the Panthers’ third meeting all-time against the Penguins. In the previous two meetings, Pitt outscored Youngstown State 79-3.
- The Penguins, a Football Championship Subdivision program, beat a Bowl Championship Series team for the first time in school history.
- Andre Ellington ran for 228 yards in Clemson’s win against Auburn. Ellington is the only the third ACC player since 2004 with multiple 200-yard rushing games. Seven ACC _teams_ don’t even have multiple 200-yd rushing games by an individual in that period.
- Clemson wins consecutive meetings with Auburn for the first time since 1950-51. From 1952 until 2010, they played each other 14 times. Auburn was 14-0. Since then, Clemson is 2-0.
- Clemson now has a win against an SEC team in 9 of the last 11 seasons.
- The 84 points that Oklahoma State scored Saturday vs Savannah State is the most by an FBS team since Oct. 1991 when Fresno State dropped 94 on the New Mexico Lobos.
- Oklahoma State’s 84 points were the most by any full-fledged FBS member since 2000. Western Kentucky scored 87 points against West Virginia Tech in 2007, but the Hilltoppers were reclassifying from FCS to FBS.
- Oklahoma State had no problem scoring against Savannah State, becoming the first team since the turn of the century to top 80 points in its opener.
- Oklahoma State’s 84 points are their most in a season-opener… since 19116.
- After being tied with Missouri State at nine in the third quarter, Kansas State scored 42 consecutive points to win 51-9.
- Indiana ended a nine-game losing streak — winning for the first time since beating South Carolina State 38-21 on Sept. 17, 2011.
- Texas State got its first won as an FBS member, when they whalloped a rebuilding Houston squad, 30-13.
- Alabama ran for 232 yards on 42 carries Saturday against Michigan. The Tide are now 40-0 since the start of the 2008 season when they run for at least 150 yards.
- The 27-point loss for the Wolverines is the worst loss in a season-opener in the 133 years of Michigan football.
- With its loss to Rutgers, Tulane lost its 11th consecutive game dating to last year, its longest losing streak since dropping 16 in a row from 1961-63.
- Arizona, which needed overtime to defeat Toledo, amassed 624 yards to Toledo’s 358 but had two touchdowns called back by penalties, turned the ball over three times and missed the two short field goals.
- Washington scored its first defensive touchdown since Quinton Richardson returned an interception for a score against UCLA two seasons ago.
- Ryan Aplin became Arkansas State’s career leader in total offense with 9,075 yards, surpassing Corey Leonard (2006-09) and also became the leader in yards passing with 7,721, to pass Cleo Lemon (1997-2000). Unfortunately, his team lost to Oregon 57-34. The Ducks led 29-0 after the first quarter and 50-3 halfway through the second period.
The 2012 season preview starts out with Arizona. The 2012 season brings one of change, as Rich Rodriguez replaces Mike Stoops, who was relieved of his duties at the beginning of October. Continue reading
- Cincinnati held NC State to only -26 rushing yards Thursday night. The -26 rush yards are the fewest rush yards in a game by an ACC over the last 10 seasons.
- Georgia Tech was held to a field goal in its first drive vs North Carolina. This is the first time this season that the Yellow Jackets didn’t score a TD on their opening drive. The 4-0 start is their first since 1990, when they shared the national championship with Colorado. Continue reading
Arizona – Arizona is historically one of the best teams year-in and year-out and that continues this year. Along with hosting two tournaments of their own, they participated in three prestigious tournaments (Kajikawa Classic, Cathedral City Classic and Judi German Classic). That was to get them ready for the grueling Pac-10 schedule. They faced 20 tournament teams throughout the season and came away with a 21-15 record. They had a hiccup in the middle of the conference season when stud pitcher Kenzie Fowler went out with an injury but she’s back in the circle for the Wildcats.
Arizona has knocked 72 balls out of the park, led by Stacie Chambers. Stacie Chambers has 18 bombs this year and 85 for her career, which ties her for the school record. Her 66 RBI also lead the team. Brigette Del Ponte has knocked 16 out of the park. She also has a team-high 21 doubles and is second on the team with 57 RBI. Brittany Lastrapes has 16 doubles, 11 home runs, 38 RBI and a .415 average. Lini Koria adds 13 homers and 33 RBI to the powerful lineup, which has outscored opponents 345-183.
The Wildcats use a two–woman pitching rotation, featuring Fowler, a sophomore, and Shelby Babcock, a freshman. Fowler has the better record and ERA (23-7, 1.75), but Babcock has been an integral part of the team as well. Fowler has struck out 211 opponents, while Babcock has 116 punchouts.
Harvard – The Crimson come into the tournament after winning their fifth Ivy League titles, first since 2007. Harvard has also won 14 of their last 15 games. Their 36-14 record includes only three games against NCAA teams, ones in which they went 1-2.
The Crimson throws a lineup at you that may not look that impressive, but are a well-balanced squad that does the little things. Kasey Lang leads Harvard in pretty much offensive category with a .444 average, .483 on-base percentage, .804 slugging percentage, 11 home runs 20 doubles and 65 RBI. In fact, her RBI total is 30 more than the next highest. Oh yeah, Lang is only a freshman. Ellen Macadam leads the team in hits (76) and runs (52), while Ashley Heritage leads the squad with 21 stolen bases.
Rachel Brown leads the pitchers with a 21-6 record, 1.9 ERA and 291 strikeouts. In fact, she has an almost 5:1 K:BB ratio. The other pitcher joining her as a mainstay is freshman Laura Ricciardone, who has put together a nice first season, racking up a 13-5 record.
Texas Tech – After making the NCAA Tournament only twice before current coach Shanon Hays took over in 2010, the Red Raiders have now qualified for the second consecutive season. The team finished the season 40-14, only the second time the school has reached the 40-win plateau.
Texas Tech boasts six players who are hitting .343 or greater. Tow players, Sandy James and Cydney Allen, are in double digit home runs. Allen has knocked 15 out of the ballpark, while knocking 59 runs in. James has 13 bombs on the year and 52 RBI, third highest on the team. Emily Bledsoe is hitting a team-high .384 and is second on the team in both steals (13) and doubles (14). Logan Hall has a team-high 62 hits, 11 doubles and 55 RBI.
The Red Raiders employ Brittany Telley and Kelsey Dennis as their top two pitchers. Telley has a 14-6 record and 2.70 ERA. She has 73 K’s on the season. Dennis has a 12-5 record and 2.85 ERA. She leads the squad with 74 punchouts. So its easy to say the two are truly 1 and 1A.
New Mexico State - The New Mexico State softball team made history Saturday afternoon by clinching the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid after defeating Fresno State 5-0 in the 2011 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Softball Tournament Championship. A tough nonconference schedule, which included games against Oklahoma, Arizona, Arizona State and Nebraska, seems to have paid off for the Aggies, who come in having won 16 of their last 19 games.
New Mexico State has nine players hitting over .300, including star Hoku Nohara, who leads the team with a .43o clip. She also has an impressive 23 home runs and 7o RBI. Tiare Jennings is right behind her with 15 home runs and 56 RBI. Valerie Swedberg rounds out the double digit home run hitters with 11. She also leads the team with 13 doubles and has 48 RBI. Kylie Randall is a terror on the basepaths, having been caught only twice in 38 attempts.
Alex Newman has a 22-6 record to lead the team and also has a team-low 3.39 ERA. She also leads the team with 83 strikeouts
>Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Oklahoma State looks to cap a memorable year with a school-record 11th victory in San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night when it squares off against an Arizona team hoping to salvage a win from a disappointing final two months of the season.
The 16th-ranked Cowboys (10-2) were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 South this season, but ended up tying for the division title and setting a school record with 10 regular-season wins. They are making a school-record fifth straight bowl appearance.
The Wildcats seemed like they might be headed to a BCS bowl earlier this year, climbing as high as ninth in the rankings, but four straight losses to close the regular season quickly ended those hopes. Arizona is still appearing in a third consecutive bowl game, matching the school’s previous best string from 1992-94.
Oklahoma State leads the FBS in total offense at 537.6 yards per game, ranks third in scoring at 44.9 points and boasts three skill position players named to the all-Big 12 first team.
Justin Blackmon is the conference’s player of the year, the Biletnikoff Award winner and a first-team All-American after leading the nation with 151.4 receiving yards per game and 18 touchdown catches. He needs eight yards against Arizona to break the NCAA sophomore receiving yards record of 1,672, set by Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald in 2003. Blackmon has tied an NCAA record with 11 straight games of 100 yards receiving with a TD.
Brandon Weeden was second in the country in yards passing per game (336.4) and fifth in touchdown passes (32). He has also thrown for 4,037 yards.
Blackmon was joined on the All-American first team by running back Kendall Hunter. The senior is seventh in the nation with 126.3 rushing yards per game and ran for 16 TDs. He did all this while rushing for 1,516 yards.
Since the start of November, the Wildcats have allowed an average of 456.0 yards, 20th-worst in the FBS, and an average of 36.0 points, 27th-worst. This is after a 7-1 start, where they were 10th nationally in points and yards allowed.
While the Wildcats’ defense needs to tighten up, the offense heads into the bowl playing some of its best football.
Nick Foles has passed for 1,063 yards with nine touchdowns to just one interception in his last three games. He threw for 2,911 and 19 touchdowns the entire season. The junior leads the Pac-10 in passing with an average of 291.1 yards and his favorite target, first-team all-conference selection Juron Criner, led the league with 73 receptions and 1,186 yards.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 49, Arizona 41
>Georgia Tech (1-1) at North Carolina (0-1)
This is a game featuring two teams who are both looking to get back on track. Tech lost last week at Kansas and the Heels are trying to get back to their winning ways after suffering a heart-breaking loss to LSU in Week One. The Jackets feature a nice 1-2 running punch in Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen. The two spearhead an attack that is second in the nation in rushing yards per game with 332 yards per game. Nesbitt leads the team with 163 yards and five touchdowns, while Allen averages nearly seven yards per carry. North Carolina is led by quarterback T.J. Yates, who threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Jheranie Boyd leads the team with six catches for 221 yards. He had 12 catches for 214 yards as a freshman last season.
Georgia Tech wins if...it can control the time of possession and play its stingy defense while running their attack to perfection.
North Carolina wins if…it can continue to overcome the loss of six defensive starters. Al Groh, GT’s new defensive coordinator, has been known to shut down the Heels so how they respond will be something to look for.
Arizona State (2-0) at Wisconsin (2-0)
This will be the first true test for the Sun Devils, as they travel to the always-tough Camp Randall Stadium. Their offense is led by the quarterback-running back combo of Steven Threet and Cameron Marshall. Threet, a Michigan transfer, has completed 47-of-70 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns, but has also thrown three interceptions. Marshall has 14 carries for 132 yards and four touchdowns.
The Badgers come into the game after defeated UNLV and San Jose State in their first two games. Despite being known for their running game, quarterback Scott Tolzien has put up some impressive passing stats, completing 30-of-42 passes for 388 yards and one touchdown. The team already has two players, John Clay and Montee Ball, who have rushed for over 100 yards. Clay leads the team with 260 yards and four touchdowns, while Ball has 110 yards and two scores.
ASU wins if…it can continue to throw the ball around. The Wisconsin defense is tougher than the Devils’ first two opponents, but if Threet is on the same page with his receivers, they may be able to pull the surprise.
Wisconsin wins if…it rushes the ball like it has been. The Sun Devils have given up 149 rushing yards per game to two FCS schools, so if the Badgers are on their game, it might be a long day for the ASU defense.
Clemson (2-0) at Auburn (2-0)
The game at Auburn not only marks the first true test for the Tigers, but also starts a rough stretch of games, where four of five teams played in bowls and either are or have been ranked this year. The offense has been pretty balanced between the passing game and the running game. Quarterback Kyle Parker has thrown for 283 yards and four touchdowns. The rushing load has been split amongst Jamie Harper, Andre Ellington, Roderick McDowell and Daniel Barnes. Ellington leads the way with 133 yards and three scores.
Cameron Newton has come in and run this offense in perfection. The quarterback has thrown for 322 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 241 and two more. His rushing total is almost 100 more yards than the next leading rusher.
Clemson wins if…it contains the Auburn rushing game and gets a balanced game from all their players. Shut Newton down and you have a good shot at the win.
Auburn wins if...they shut down the Clemson rushing game, which averages nearly 230 yards per game. If Auburn’s own rushing attack is on, it might also be a long day for their opponents. Either way, look for a shootout.
Iowa (2-0) at Arizona (2-0)
The Hawkeyes are coming off of a big win against in-state rival Iowa State and are only giving up seven points per game. Ricky Stanzi seems to be on a mission, completing 71 percent of his passes for 433 yards and three touchdowns. He has been aided by a running game anchored by Adam Robinson. Robinson has 265 yards and four touchdowns on the year, while averaging seven yards per carry.
The Wildcats come into the game undefeated as well, and have one of the most prolific defenses and offenses in the country. The team is second in points allowed per game, with four per game and is averaging 47 points per game good for 12th nationally. The team is led by quarterback Nick Foles, who has completed 83 percent of his passes for 579\4 yards and three touchdowns.
Iowa wins if…their defense is able to shut down the Arizona passing game, which is eighth nationally.The Wildcat defense hasn’t really been tested, so it’s up to the Hawkeyes to give them a good battle.
Arizona wins if...Foles continues to sling the ball around. The defense, ones of the best in the nation, will have to stop the balanced attack of Iowa
>For the next month or so, I will be previewing every D 1-A college football team. They will be in alphabetical order. Crazy? Yes, I know, but I figure why not? And who is first???
Air Force – The Falcons are coming off of an 8-5 season, which saw them upset No. 25 Houston 47-20 in the Armed Forces Bowl. The bowl game was the third in a row for the Falcons, a first since 1990-1992 and the first time it had gone to the same bowl in three consecutive years. Third-year coach Troy Calhoun, who brings a 25-14 record into the 2010 season, became the first coach in school history to take the Falcons to bowl games in his first three years at the helm.
Offense - The Falcons’ skill positions are full of experienced, talented players. Air Force returns 100 percent of its rushing, passing, kickoff return, punt return and total offense yards from 2009, along with 90.4 percent of its receiving yards. The team also returns 100 percent of its scoring and 98.3 percent of its all-purpose yards from a year ago.
The Falcons bring back five starters from last year’s squad, led by senior fullback Jared Tew. Tew led the team with 970 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Both of his backfield teammates, quarterback Tim Jefferson and running back Asher Clark, return as well.
Jefferson will be overcoming off-season knee surgery after a season that saw him pass for 848 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 254 yards and four touchdowns. He will be pushed by fellow junior Connor Dietz. Dietz brings some experience as well, as he played until he broke his hand with five games left in the season, therefore knocking him out for the season. His 369 rushing yards were fourth most on the team last year.
As has been the Falcons’ forte, the passing game comes a distant second in the offense. Despite that, Air Force brings back their top two receivers, Kevin Fogler and Jonathan Warzeka. Fogler returns after 25 balls for 567 yards and five touchdowns. The team’s second-leading wideout, Warzeka, returns after catching 18 passes for 246 yards and one touchdown.
One area of concern will be the offensive line, as they graduated all of their starters from the 2009 season. Only A.J. Wallerstein returns with starting experience, after starting the first game last season against Nicholls State.
Defense - The secondary will be the defense’s strength. Senior cornerback Reggie Rembert, along with junior corner Anthony Wright, Jr., and safety Jon Davis return to lead the group. Rembert was a first-team all-conference performer last season. He had 43 total tackles, three interceptions, forced two fumbles and had two fumble recoveries. He also became the school’s all-time leader in kickoff returns and kickoff return yards.
Wright recorded the third-most interceptions in a single season in school history with seven, including a school-record-tying three vs. Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. Wright also scored
two touchdowns on interceptions returns and another on a punt return while earning second-team all-conference honors. Davis added 56 tackles, three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. Davis also scored a touchdown on an interception return.
The linebacker and defensive line corps, however, will be a major question mark for the Falcons. The defensive line will be bolstered by the lone returning starter, senior Rick Ricketts, who finished fourth on the team in tackles with 57. He also was third in tackles for loss with 6.5 for 39 yards and second in sacks with 4 for 28 yards.
The linebacker corps returns Andre Morris, Jr., at outside linebacker. Morris was third on the
team in tackles with 65 and had 6.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. He’ll be joined by sophomore Wale Lawal, Jr., who played 11 games as a rookie last year. Seniors Patrick Hennessey and Ken Lamendola had their junior years shortened by injury and missed all of spring practice. If they’re able to return, the Falcons will have an experienced group. Lamendola had a 100-plus tackle sophomore season and Hennessey was in a starting role before injuries.
Schedule - The Falcons start out with four of their first five opponents coming off of bowl appearances. The non-conference schedule is highlighted by a visit to Oklahoma to take on an Oklahoma squad going through some major personnel shuffling. The team closes with four of its last six on the road and has to face TCU and Utah back to back at the end of October.
Akron – Rob Ianello takes over for J.D. Brookhart, who was relieved of his duties after a 3-9 season. The Zips have not had a winning record since 2005. Ianello comes over from Notre Dame, where he was the wide receivers coach since 2005. In January of 2009, he was named the Assistant Head Coach for the Offense, as well as retaining his duties as the wide receivers coach. Under his guidance, six of the nine best individual receiving seasons in Notre Dame history have occurred. In the past five seasons, four Irish receivers have caught more than 60 passes in a season, while five players have eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards.
Offense - Patrick Nicely returns after starting the last seven games for the Zips, as does his backup Matt Rodgers, who started three games. Despite his 54.1% completion percentage, if the Zips are going to be successful, Nicely is going to have to improve on his touchdown:interception ratio, which was 1:1 after he threw six touchdowns and six interceptions.
Akron returns four of their five top rushers from last year. Those four combined for 826 of the team’s 1,726 rushing yards during the 2009 season. Rodgers is the returning leader as he rushed for 226 yards on 40 carries. Broderick Alexander and Alex Allen also return after rushing for 217 and 216 yards, respectively. Allen led the five with five rushing touchdowns.
To ease the pressure on the quarterbacks and running backs, the Zips return three starters on the offensive line from last year. Corey Woods, Mike Ward and Jake Anderson each return after starting all 12 games last year at LT, LG and RT, respectively.
Despite all of the experience coming back in the offensive backfield, only one major contributor returns in the wide receiving core. Luckily for the Zips, that contributor is last year’s top receiver, Jeremy LaFrance. The junior college transfer made quite an impression in his debut season at the D-1 level after grabbing 43 passes for 520 yards and two touchdowns. In fact La France is the only returning player who caught a touchdown last season.
Defense - If one was to say that Brain Wagner was the star on the defensive side of the ball, there would surely be no one to argue that fact. Wagner, a middle linebacker, had such a huge impact as a freshman last year that The Sporting News named him a First-Team Freshman All-American. What led him to earn such a great honor? 132 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, one sack, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His 132 tackles were almost double of the next Zip, Mike Thomas, who had 71 tackles.
Luckily for Akron, it seems as if Wagner and Thomas make up only half of what is probably the strongest position on the defensive side of the ball, the linebackers. Along with Wagner and Thomas, Sean Fobbs also returns at the RUSH LB spot, also starting all 12 games, as the aforementioned two did as well. Akron also returns two players, Will Fleming and DeAngelo Williams, who started a combined seven games at the strongside linebacker position.
The defensive line will be bolstered by the return of DT Almondo Sewell, DT Dan Marcoux, DT James Harvey and DE Hasan Hazime. Sewell started all 12 games at DT and led all linemen with 53 tackles. Hazime started the last eight games at defensive end and was tied for the team lead with three sacks, as well as figuring in on 49 tackles and forcing one fumble. Harvey started 10 games, the first four at defensive end and the next six at nose tackle. In 11 total games, he was involved in 23 tackles and four tackles for loss. Marcoux started six games and chipped in with 15 tackles.
The Akron secondary won’t be as tough as the rest of the defense, however, as they only return three players that started any games last season. Manny Waller started 11 games at one CB spot, finishing with three interceptions, six pass break-ups and 47 tackles. Kevin Davis and Marvese Byrd are the other two, but each started only one game last year. The secondary will rely on younger players, including four redshirt freshmen and five sophomores.
Recruiting - The Zips brought in 23 signees in the Class of 2010, including Parade All-American RB Erick Howard. Howard, Scout.com’s 24th best running back, ran for over 6,000 yards in his career and scored 79 touchdowns. For good measure, the Ohio two-time Offensive Player of the Year also tallied 208 tackles as a linebacker. He is one of at least four running backs brought in to push the already successful stable of young runners.
Schedule - The Zips host six games, highlighted by a season-opening visit from Syracuse. After the first two games of the year, both at home, Akron plays four of its next five on the road, including games at Indiana and Kentucky. The team does end the season with two home games against Miami (OH) and Buffalo.
Alabama - To say last year was a success would be quite the understatement. Going 14-0, winning a national championship and having the Heisman Trophy winner was quite an achievement for Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide. What’s scary is that they bring most of their offensive stars back for more.
Offense - Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram returns for his junior season after rushing for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns. With more experience, the scary part is he can only get better. His backup, Trent Richardson, also returns. Richardson would be an All-Conference player if he played on any team, but he is “stuck” playing behind the Heisman Trophy winner. Despite this, he still managed to rush for 751 yards and eight touchdowns.
Quarterback Greg McElroy returns for his senior year after completing 61 percent of his passes. He threw for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions.
To McElroy’s disposal, he will have five of last year’s top six receivers back for more. Last year eight ‘Bama receivers caught 10 or more passes, with four catching more than 25. Last year’s top receiver, Julio Jones, returns to build on a legacy that has seen him become one of the better wideouts in recent Alabama memory. His 43 catches, 596 yards and four touchdowns were all team highs.
Defense - The ‘Bama defense will have quite a different look this year, as only one, Mark Barron, of their top seven tacklers returns. In his first year as a starter, Barron led the team with seven interceptions for 125 yards and a touchdown, while also being a part of 76 tackles.
DE Marcell Dareus led the team with 6.5 sacks despite starting in only four of the 14 games he played in. The team will also look to linebacker Dont’a Hightower to provide some pressure on the quarterback and he showed that in the spring as he registered 11 tackles and three sacks in two scrimmages.
Recruiting - The Tide brings in an impressive recruiting class of 29, which was ranked as the fourth-best by scout.com and fifth-best by rivals.com. The class included six defensive backs, four offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers each, three wide receivers, two running backs and tights ends apiece, and one quarterback, athlete, kicker and punter.
One recruit happened to be the one of the top two quarterbacks, according to scout.com, Phillip Sims. You may recognize him by name, but he is not the son of Hall of Fame and former Giant quarterback Phil Simms. Sims threw for 10,725 yards and 119 touchdowns, both of which are Virginia career records.
Schedule - Alabama opens up with two home games, vs. San Jose State and Penn State, in early September. After starting with the two home games, the Tide plays five of their next seven games on the road, including potential tough road games against Tennessee and LSU back-to-back. The two home games in that stretch are against Florida, which will finally be without Tim Tebow and Mississippi. The team closes out the regular season against Mississippi State, Georgia State and Auburn, all at home.
Arizona - The Wildcats are coming off of their second consecutive bowl appearance under Mike Stoops, who is entering his seventh year as Head Coach at Arizona. The team ended the season at 8-5 after a Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska. Their 6-3 Pac-10 record tied them for second in the conference.
Offense - The Wildcat offense looks to be dynamic yet again, after averaging just over 27 points per game last year. The 2010 squad returns all but two of their spread formation starters. The team returns four players that started at receiver, three who started at running back and four offensive line starters, amongst others. One big loss for the ‘Cats will be Delashaum Dean, who was the team’s fourth-leading receiver.
Nick Foles, the team’s starting quarterback returns for his junior season. Foles returns after a sophomore campaign which saw him complete 63 percent of his passes for nearly 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The team’s top two rushers, Keola Antonin and Nic Grisby, return for their junior and senior campaigns after sharing the load rushing-wise for the ‘Cats last season. Antolin rushed for a team-high 637 yards and added four touchdowns, while Grisby rushed for 567 yards and a team-leading five touchdowns. As a team, Arizona rushed for over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Outside of Dean, the Wildcats return receivers in Juron Criner, David Douglas and David Roberts. Criner led the team with 582 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Roberts ended up with 410 yards and one touchdown, while Douglas added 320 yards and one TD grab as well.
Defense - The Wildcat defense has always been considered the team’s strength under Stoops’ direction. If they are to continue that success this year, they will need to do so using two new linemen, three linebackers and two players in the secondary. The team will have to look for many of their junior college transfers and incoming freshmen to help them out.
Senior defensive ends Brooks Reed and Reid Elmore return to lead the defensive line. Elmore was second in the league last year with 10.5, while Reed will be looking to stay healthy and build on a sophomore campaign where he put up similar numbers to Elmore’s last year.
Cornerback Trevin Wade returns as the team’s leading tackler after bringing down 71 opponents and adding a team-leading five interceptions, one of which he brought back for a touchdown.
Sophomores Jake Fischer and R.J. Young, senior C.J.Parish, and redshirt freshmen
Trevor Erno and Cordarius Golston come back to lead the linebackers. The only problem is that the three that have seen playing time combined for only 16 tackles last year.
Recruiting - Altho it may seem that defense would be more of a need in the recruiting class, the 24-man class is pretty even, as 13 are defensive players and 11 offensive. The class consists of six defensive linemen, five receivers, five offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three linebackers and a quarterback. The two who might play the biggest roles are safety Marquis Flowers and wide receiver Dexter Ransom, a junior college transfer. Flowers picked Arizona over UCLA, USC and ASU, amongst others, after recording 46 tackles, two INT’s, rushing for 1,247 yards and 16 TD. Ransom missed the last four games of the 2009 season after tearing an ACL, but figures to be at full strength upon arrival to UA. He caught 19 passes for 412 yards and seven touchdowns in limited duty.
Schedule - After starting the season with a road game at Toledo, the ‘Cats spend the next four games in the confines of Arizona Stadium, including a stretch of Iowa, Cal and Oregon State in three consecutive weeks. The Cats also get Washington, USC and ASU at home, while having to travel to Stanford, UCLA, Oregon and Washington State. How strong Arizona is should be determined for sure at the end of the season as their last six games are vs. Washington, at UCLA, at Stanford, vs. USC, at Oregon and vs. ASU.
>In the first part, I previewed the left side of the bracket. Here I will preview the right side, one which features the defending champs, Washington.
Regional # 5 – Washington vs. Oklahoma
Washington – For the second-straight year, the Huskies (48-6) faced the daunting task of going against one of the country’s most underrated pitchers in lefty Danielle Spaulding, who threw two no-hitters in her four appearances over the weekend. After Spaulding no-hit Nebraska on Friday to open the weekend, UW used an unearned run to win the first meeting between the teams, 1-0, on Saturday.They needed extra innings to win 2-1 on Sunday, but the reigning champs will once again be making a trip to the Super Regionals, a place they have been every year except one since the Super Regionals format was created.
The Huskies’ Danielle Lawrie picked up three wins on the weekend, giving up just one run in 22 innings, while striking out 39. The stud pitcher gave up a mere six hits and one earned run.
The normally prolific Washington offense was quieted this past weekend by some magnificent pitching by their opponents, UNC’s Spaulding and North Dakota State, a team which made the Super Regionals last year. Shawna Wright had the game-winning hit for UW. She had gone hitless until that point. Lawrie and Nikki Williams each had key home runs for the Huskies.
Washington holds a 7-6 series lead, including a 7-4 victory earlier this year.
Oklahoma – The Big 12 Tournament Champs are coming off of a 3-0 weekend, which saw they defeat one of the top pitchers in the country, Fordham’s Jen Mineau twice.
After winning sweeping the Columbus Regional to win its 11th Regional title in the past 12 years, the No. 11-seeded California softball team has a new task at hand in No. 6-seeded Georgia at the Athens Super Regional. After the Regional title, Cal improves to 44-17 overall, 60-31 in Regional games and 81-55 overall in the NCAA postseason.
The Bears bring a seven-game winning streak to Athens after sweeping Oregon State and the Columbus Regional. Cal played 16 of the tournament’s teams this year, posting a 19-16 record against them.
Five of Cal’s starters are batting .300 or above with Jamia Reid pacing the Bears at .389 and 48 steals. Cal’s 285 RBI is a new program team season high, smashing the old record of 279, which was set in 2008. Valerie Arioto is currently tied with Veronica Nelson for the single-season home-run high with 19, now holds the season record for runs (60) and RBI (60) and is currently fifth on season walks with 77.
As good as Arioto is at the plate, she may be even better on the mound. She has posted a She leads the team in wins (21), ERA (1.26) and strikeouts with 260. She is not the only stud pitcher for the Bears, however. Freshman sensation Jolene Henderson has made quite the transition to college softball, picking up 20 wins and a 1.53 ERA, along with three saves.
The Bears hold a 1-0 series lead against Georgia, with the win coming on Valentines Day in 1999.
Georgia - After going 3-0 in their Regional, the Bulldogs will host their second consecutive Super Regional. The Bulldogs went 3-0 as a regional host this year to improve to 13-4 in the UGA Softball Stadium
during regional play.
A total of 11 Bulldogs have combined to hit a single-season school record 92 home runs (1.61
per game). The new record surpassed the 2009 squad’s 85 home runs (1.44 per game). Bulldogs to hit home runs in 2010: Alisa Goler (14), Megan Wiggins (14), Brianna Hesson (13), Ashley Razey (13), Taylor Schlopy (11), Laura Trout (8), Jennie Auger (5), Ashley Pauly (5), Kristyn Sandberg (5), Amberlie Saxton (3) and Brittany Hubbard (1). Nine Bulldogs have provided double-digit RBI this season. All nine in double figures have at least 15 RBI with eight driving in at least 29 or more runs.
Georgia is one of a very small number of teams which has three pitchers in double digit wins. Sarah McLoud picked up wins in all three games last week and has an 11-1 record on the year, as well as a 2.71 ERA. Erin Arevalo leads the team in victories with 18, as well as 158 strikeouts.
Regional # 7 – BYU vs. Arizona
BYU - Along with Oregon, BYU is one of two unseeded teams to make the Super Regionals. For the first time in program history, BYU (46-11) will participate in the NCAA softball tournament’s second round. The Cougars advanced with a sweep of the competition last weekend in Austin, Texas, defeating East Carolina, 1-0; No. 7-seed Texas, 9-8; and East Carolina again in the championship game, 8-3.
The Cougars and the Wildcats have a brief history, marked most recently by a meeting on Feb. 26, at the Cathedral Classic in Palm Springs. Arizona was victorious in five innings, improving their all-time record against BYU to 3-0.
BYU senior Angeline Quiocho was named MWC Player of the Year, freshman J.C. Clayton garnered
MWC Freshman of the Year and Cougar head coach Gordon Eakin captured MWC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. Quiocho has been a terror for opponents, hitting 28 home runs, driving in 90 Cougars.
Paige Affleck is the workhorse on the mound for BYU. She leads the team with 32 wins, a Mountain West Conference record, as well as 221 strikeouts, which is second on the BYU season-high list.
Regionals. The all-time series between the two programs is deadlocked at 3-3, with five of those contests
occurring during either NCAA Super Regional or WCWS play. After dropping a 4-0 decision to the Wolverines during Tennessee’s inaugural season in 1996, the teams didn’t meet again until the 2005 WCWS in Oklahoma City, Okla. Tennessee has advanced to three NCAA Super Regionals in program history (2005, 2006, 2007) and have moved on through to the WCWS on all three occasions with a 6-2 overall
Three Wolverine hitters batted .500 or better in this weekend’s NCAA Regional action. Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus hit .625 (5-for-8) with seven runs batted in, while sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester batted .600 (3-for-5) and senior catcher Roya St. Clair hit .500 (5-for-10) with six RBI from the cleanup spot. Shaking off its two-game home drought at Iowa, the Wolverines knocked out seven long balls in NCAA Regional play. Michigan has homered in 26 of its last 29 games and boast 81 homers on the season — the second-greatest season total in program history.
With her 11-strikeout performance in the Regional title game against the Irish, junior Jordan Taylor upped her season total to a career-best 300. The figure ranks sixth among Michigan’s all-time single-season leaders in the category. She actually struck out 11 Notre Dame batters in both games against the Irish.