- Brandon Weeden rewrote the Oklahoma State record book against Arizona with 42 completions on 53 pass attempts. He finished with 397 passing yards, narrowly missed throwing for 400 yards for the 4th time in his career. Continue reading
For a league that many consider to be subpar when compared to its BCS counterparts, the Big East sure showed that their teams can be ones to fear. Six of the league’s eight teams not only finished above .500, but four of those six won their bowl games. Continue reading
>The following with be a bunch of previews, altho shorter than they usually are. Nobody wants to read ridiculously long posts. Learned that this summer.
Louisville vs. UConn
UConn might have turned the corner late in the season with their win against Georgetown. The Huskies will try to get revenge against Louisville, who beat UConn in a crazy double overtime win at the end of January. Kemba Walker has been playing ridiculously, going for 31 pts and 10 assists against the Hoyas. Since that win against Georgetown, Louisville has struggled going 3-3 in their last six games, including a four point win against DePaul. Preston Knowles (15 ppg) and Peyton Siva (10 ppg and 5 apg) lead the Cardinals. Prediction: UConn 80-75
Utah State at St. Mary’s
This is by far the highlight of the BracketBusters matchups this weekend. It is between the 23rd and 24th ranked teams in the country. Utah State is 24-3, but has won 19 of its last 20 games. Tai Wesley (14 ppg, 7 rpg), Brian Wilson (11 ppg) and Brockeith Payne (11 ppg) lead the Aggies. St. Mary’s is coming off of an upset loss to San Diego on Wednesday, one that might knock them out of the rankings. The Gaels are led by four players who score in double figures: Mickey McConnell (17 ppg, 7 apg), Rob Jones (14 ppg, 8 rpg), Matthew Dellavedova (13 ppg, 5 apg) and Mitchell Young (10 ppg, 5 rpg). Prediction: Utah State wins on the road, 86-80
Illinois at Michigan State
This game is HUGE for the Spartans. At 14-11, they might have to win out and win two games in the conference tournament to get into the NCAA’s. What will help MSU is the four more teams in, as well as college basketball being down as a whole. The Spartans have been uncharacteristically shaky at home, already losing four times, but will need Kalin Lucas and his 16 ppg to win. The Illini are in the midst of possibly their hardest stretch of games this season and have a trip to Ohio State looming after this one. Prediction: Michigan State wins a needed game, 76-72
Michigan at Iowa
Wednesday’s loss to Illinois might have been bad for the Wolverines, who are fighting for an NCAA berth. Three of their next four games are winnable, but if they lose here, that might be a killer, one that sends the team to the NIT. Iowa, on the other hand, is just looking for the season to be over, while also looking to place spoiler to teams like Michigan. Prediction: Michigan 80-67
Northwestern at Indiana
Like Michigan and Michigan State, a win here is crucial for the slim chance the Wildcats have at a spot in the NCAA. A win over Iowa put them at 15-10, but they will have to win their last four conference games to go .500 in conference play. Indiana is not an easy place to play, however, as both Minnesota and Illinois, who were both ranked at the time, lost in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are 11-5 at home. Prediction: Northwestern pulls out a win they wish could have come easier, 76-73
>Southern Miss vs. Louisville
Southern Miss will play in its ninth straight postseason game, while Louisville is making their first bowl since their 2007 Orange Bowl appearance. The Cardinals improved from 65th to 12th in the FBS with 304.7 yards allowed per game, but will face a Southern Miss offense that ranks 15th in the FBS with 37.6 points and 458.2 yards per game.
Louisville will possibly go with three quarterbacks in the bowl game, as Justin Burke will start, but Adam Froman and Will Stein might also play. The one good thing for the Cardinal offense is that running back Bilal Powell is going to play. Coming off of an all-conference selection this season, he has rushed for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 1,330 yards ranked second in the conference behind Uconn’s Jordan Todman, who rushed for 1,574 yards this season.
Unlike the Cardinals, Southern Miss relies on its offense to win games. Seven of 12 games saw them score at least 40 points, while three more saw them score 31 points or more. Their 38 ppg is good for 15th in the country. Quarterback Austin Davis has thrown for 3,898 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also rushing for over 400 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns. Junior Kelvin Bolden has made quite a splash in his collegiate debut, having caught 41 balls for 667 yards and six touchdowns.
> After going to bowl games from 1998-2006, the Cardinals will look to get back to that plateau under new coach Charlie Strong. Strong comes to the Big East after serving as Urban Meyer’s defensive coordinator at Florida. Strong inherits a team that brings back 15 starters.
Offense - Nine of those starters comes from the offensive side of the ball and look to improve in 2010. The biggest question on offense will be at the quarterback position. Three players who saw action as starters last year all return for the upcoming season, but who will take a stronghold on the position will still be unknown. Adam Froman has the most experience after recording seven starts and throwing for 1,354 yards and six touchdown passes with five interceptions. Justin Burke battled injuries and threw for 654 yards and three scores. Will Stein threw for 450 yards in his two starts.
Victor Anderson, Bilal Powell and Jeremy Wright give the Cardinals a very deep backfield. Anderson was the Cardinals’ leading rusher despite missing most of the season due to injury. After rushing for 1,047 yards in 2008, Anderson was hampered by a shoulder injury that limited him to 473 yards and five touchdowns.
Powell rushed for 392 yards and four touchdowns last season. He looks physically ready to be a force in the league and throughout the country. Wright is another talented running back who will fight for playing time.
The Cardinals are extremely thin at wide receiver with only six scholarship players returning. Senior Doug Beaumont is the premier receiver of the group, having caught over 100 passes for 1,265 yards in his career.
In 2009, Beaumont’s numbers dipped to 38 catches for 465 yards after catching 62 passes for 750 yards in 2008. Senior Troy Pascley caught just four passes for 35 yards a year ago. Sophomore Andrell Smith is a big wide receiver who will need to step up and be a guy the Cardinals can count on. Knowing the lack of depth, Strong and his staff, signed six wide receivers in this recruiting class.
Defense - The defense brings back six starters from last year’s squad. There is inexperience on each of the line, linebacker and secondary units.
A lot of the questions, surrounding the 2010 Cardinals sit with the development of the defensive line. Strong has emphasized that to play winning football teams must be strong upfront. After 15 spring practices, the Cardinals are still trying to find answers along the defensive line. The spring showed that the Cardinals are going to need a lot of different combinations of players to step up if the defense is going to be successful. This group will be very young and inexperienced, but there is talent to build upon.
Junior Greg Scruggs moved inside this spring to play tackle, but also did play some defensive end. He started all 12 games in 2009 and came up with 21 tackles, five and a half of which were for loss. Senior Tim High bulked up and improved his conditioning, and will be needed to take snaps along the defensive line. Coming from Hutchinson Community College, Randy Salmon will be counted on heavily in the fall to be a playmaker upfront. The Cardinals have some pretty good depth at the defensive end positions with senior Malcolm Tatum and junior William Savoy returning — both of whom started games in 2009. Tatum recorded 29 tackles in his first season, while playing both tackle and end, while Savoy was second on the team with five sacks. Both players will have to take on an expanded role for the Cardinals to be successful. Despite limited action, Savoy has recorded six sacks in his first two seasons.
The Cardinals do have some talented linebackers returning in seniors Brandon Heath and Antwone Canady, but it is a unit that does lack much-needed depth. Heath, who will play the weakside, recorded 48 tackles and a pair of interceptions, including one for a touchdown, while Canady, who will be in the middle, was credited with 34 stops. Heath also had three and a half sacks. Senior Eugene Sowell and red-shirt freshman Jacob Geffrad also worked at the weakside in the spring. At the strongside spot, junior Dexter Heyman moved back to linebacker after working at defensive end last season. Heyman played a little at linebacker as a freshman, before moving to defensive end in 2009. He had seven tackles and a fumble recovery last season.
The secondary also has a lot of question marks entering the fall. One question that has a good answer is senior Johnny Patrick, who played all 12 games a year ago. He recorded 53 tackles and was tied for second on the team with a pair of interceptions. A pair of red-shirt freshman Zed Evans and Champ Lee will compete behind Patrick for playing time. Senior Bobby Burns, who played quite a bit last season, will compete for reps at the other corner spot, with Darius Ashley, who made the move to defense in the spring. Burns had nine tackles and a pick last year. At free safety, sophomore Shenard Holton has an opportunity to be a leader on defense. He played a lot towards the end of the year and showed that he has the potential to be an impact player for the next three seasons.
Schedule - The team starts off the season with two home games against in-state teams, Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. They then travel to Oregon State and Arkansas State before having a three-game homestand. They welcome Memphis, Cincinnati and Connecticut to Papa John’s Stadium in consecutive weeks. They then end the season with three of the final five games on the road. They start with road games at Pittsburgh and Syracuse before hosting back-to-back games against USF and West Virginia before traveling to Rutgers to end the season.