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Week 4 Top 25 Reflects Teams on the Move

2016 college football

olemissAs we enter week 4 of the college football season, we’re seeing major disruption in The Kickoff Top 25.

After being upset last week by Ole Miss, who we had ranked at No. 15, Alabama slipped from No. 3 on the Kickoff Top 25 all the way to No. 12 (The AP poll now has Ole Miss ranked third behind Ohio State and Michigan State, while the Crimson Tide is also ranked No. 12 there).

Last week’s No. 13 team, Auburn, dropped out of our Top 25 altogether after losing so badly to LSU, 46-21, that Coach Gus Malzahn benched his quarterback (a pre-season Heisman candidate) this week in favor of a freshman who has never played a game at the college level but will have to rise to the challenge as the team that LSU beat by 2 points in week 2, Mississippi State, comes calling. Auburn dropped out of the AP Top 25 completely but hung on to No. 25 in the Coaches’ Poll. A mighty fall for a team that many predicted in the pre-season would earn a spot in the playoffs.

The win in Baton Rouge shot LSU from No. 11 to No. 4. AP has the Tigers ranked at No. 8. They play Syracuse on Saturday. RB Leonard Fournette was one of our superlatives this week, as he had 19 carries for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns versus Auburn, fueling LSU as the hottest team in the SEC.

While Auburn and Alabama fans are in shock, at least they did not fall as hard as USC, which has vanished from the Top 25 after losing 41-31 to then-unranked Stanford (USC was our No. 6 last week; Stanford is No. 21 on AP’s poll, No. 25 on ours). Other shocking upsets last week: UCF lost to Furman, Arkansas fell to Texas Tech, Iowa State lost to Toledo, and Colorado bested Colorado State.

Power ratings aside, Georgia has replaced Alabama and Auburn as the SEC teams most likely to be Top 4 Seeds from the Playoff committee, along with Ohio State, TCU and Notre Dame. Our pick of the first 4 out? Probably UCLA, Michigan State, FSU and LSU.

In terms of conferences, the Big 12 leads with the highest percentage of wins, followed by the Pac-12. The SEC comes in third, then the ACC, Big 10, American, Independent, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt, and MWC.

TCU and Ohio State swapped places on our Top 25 this week as the Horned Frogs edge the Buckeyes on our Power Ratings. Georgia Tech fell from No. 9 to No. 19 in our Top 25, while Oregon, Oklahoma, FSU, Arizona, Utah, and Wisconsin are all on the upswing.

Our No. 14 team, Oregon, plays our No. 18 team, Utah, is one of our Kickoff Games of the Week. Oregon leads the series 20-8, including last year’s 51-27 rout. We’re picking them to repeat again on Saturday. Our other game of the week features two teams that have struggled in recent years but are rebuilding, Tennessee at Florida. We’re picking the 3-0 Gators to win in what might be a close one. They lead the series 25-19 over the Vols and narrowly edge them in our Power Ratings, so it should be a pretty good game with both teams about even.

In our most recent edition of The Kickoff, published Sept. 21st, we have news and notes, a listing of the 78 most highly paid coaches in college football, complete FBS and select FCS schedules and results thus far in the season, our Kickoff Top 25, information on those games of the week, our Kickoff Playoff Seeds, information about the “targeting” rule (which we’ve seen applied in some games this year), and, of course, our Kickoff Power Ratings with the teams playing this week, along with our picks to win, comparative ratings, and last year’s score so you have the data you need at a glance to make your selections in your office pool.

To subscribe, visit https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/ . You’ll get all of our issues so far in the season and a new newsletter each Monday (email/PDF subscribers only, during the week for first-class mail subscribers to our printed edition). For a limited time, when you subscribe to our email/PDF version for just $20, you can sign up a friend to receive The Kickoff in his or her email inbox for FREE. What a great buddy that would make you!

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Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown questions. We’ll see whether we can stump you (no cheating).

Talk to us this weekend while we watch the games. Which upsets are you expecting? How is your team doing so far this year? Sound off! Use the hashtag #thekickoff on Facebook and Twitter so we can follow your conversations.

Enjoy this weekend’s games. We’ll be watching alongside you.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Week 3 Preview: An Infamous Rivalry Revived and an SEC Showdown

alabama-vs-ole-miss-its-black-bear-season-L-kGkseMIt’s already Week 3 of the College Football season with some great games ahead this weekend. The Kickoff Games of the Week are Georgia Tech at Notre Dame and Ole Miss at Alabama.

The Yellow Jackets enter the game ranked at No. 9 on the Kickoff Top 25 this week, jumping two spots from last week. The Fighting Irish, right behind them on our rankings, lead the series 27-6-1, including a 15-3 record when hosting. The teams are meeting as part of a deal with the Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference. This has been a heated rivalry over the years with Tech fans pelting visiting fans with fish during the sixties and seventies, as portrayed in the movie Rudy. Their last meeting was in 2007. It will be fun watching them battle it out again.

After beating Wisconsin and MTSU, the Crimson Tide (ranked No. 3) continues to look strong as they enter Conference play against the Rebels, who won their last two games 76-3 and 73-21 versus Tennessee Martin and Fresno State, earning a No. 15 rating on our Top 25. Without about 3.2 points difference on our Power Ratings, we expect Alabama to win this one. The Tide has history on their side, leading the series 24-1 when hosting Ole Miss and 48-8-2 overall since 1907. Ole Miss QB Chad Kelley was one of our superlatives for his performance last week as he went 19-24 for 360 yards and four touchdowns.

Bama’s bitter rival, Auburn, tumbled 10 spots in our Top 25 after struggling to beat FCS opponent Jacksonville State in overtime at home last weekend. We were as guilty as anyone for buying into the pre-season hype about the Tigers and Quarterback Jeremy Johnson as Playoff and Heisman contenders. Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge was supposed to be one of the better games all year, but we expect LSU (now ahead of Auburn on our Top 25 at No. 11) to have vengeance on their minds after seeing Auburn’s struggles so far and remembering the 41-7 loss last year in Jordan-Hare. Whether it’s a close game depends on if Auburn took last week’s humiliating near-loss as a wakeup call. Will Muschamp will have to figure out how to stop Leonard Fournette, who had 28 carries last week for 159 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 1 Ohio State should have no problem putting away Northern Illinois. Same with our No. 2, TCU, as they host SMU. Michigan State jumped 3 spots in our Top 25 to No. 4 after upsetting Oregon, which fell from No. 6 to No. 16 (the Spartans play Air Force while the Ducks will take out their frustration on Georgia State). Baylor remains at No. 5, followed by USC, Georgia, and Clemson (who play Rice, Stanford, South Carolina, and Louisville respectively). Louisville, by the way, is 0-2 for the first time since 1998 after being upset by Houston 34-31 last week.

Tennessee dropped out of the Kickoff Top 25 while Oklahoma jumped from No. 21 to No. 17; the Sooners showed a lot of determination last week in a hostile environment, beating the Vols 31-24. Last week’s No. 16, Boise State, also leaves the Top 25 after losing to No. 18 BYU 35-24. The same can be said for last week’s No. 22 Arkansas, now 1-1; the Razorbacks were expected to be much better than Toledo. Texas A&M joins the Top 25 at No. 21 after defeating Ball State 56-23 while Arizona State enters at No. 25 after beating Cal Poly 35-21.

In this week’s issue, we shared the Conference Breakdown through week three, ranking on home attendance last season, the largest attendance increases from 2013-14, the Football Bowl Subdivision Standings, the Football Championship Series standings, our Kickoff Playoff Seeds (including the first four projected out), our Power Ratings for this week’s games, and the schedules and results for every FBS team (and select Division I FCS schools).

When you subscribe to The Kickoff newsletter, you get all of this information delivered to your email inbox on Monday mornings or a printed version delivered to a physical inbox during the week.  To learn more about what you get, visit https://thekickoffstore.com/the-newsletter/ and to subscribe, visit https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/

For a limited time, we’ve extended our special so that when you buy one First Class or PDF subscription to The Kickoff, you can get one FREE PDF subscription to give a friend. If you are a business owner looking for a great way to keep yourself in front of your customers, check out our business subscriptions at https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/business/

Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown questions. We’ll see whether we can stump you (using Google to look up the answer is like under-inflating a ball to win a playoff game, but we don’t have access to your search history – thank goodness for that!)

Talk to us this weekend while we watch the games. Which upsets are you expecting? How is your team doing so far this year? Sound off! Use the hashtag #thekickoff on Facebook and Twitter so we can follow your conversations.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Week 2 Preview: Oregon/Mich State, Oklahoma/Tennessee

checkboardOur Kickoff Games of the Week are Oregon at Michigan State and Oklahoma at Tennessee. These two evening games should be fun to watch.

Oregon (ranked No. 6 on our Kickoff Top 25, No. 7 by AP) and Michigan State (our No. 7, AP’s No. 5) have played five times since 1979, both winning games they respectively hosted. The Ducks lead the series, 3-2, and are favored over the Spartans by a very slim margin, making this one a tough one to call. Oregon won last year, 46-27, en route to the playoff game. They play in East Lansing at 8 pm Eastern with the game on ABC.

Saturday marks just the third time No. 23 Oklahoma (19 on the AP ranking) and No. 21 Tennessee (23 for AP) have played each other since 1938, the Sooners winning two of those, including last year’s 34-10 game in Norman. The teams have played each other twice in the Orange Bowl. The Volunteers have earned a higher power rating based on what we saw last week. Kickoff is at 6 pm at Neyland Stadium, televised on ESPN.

In Monday’s edition of The Kickoff in our Top 25, TCU traded places with Ohio State. This was based on the scheduling of the Ohio State opener after our last issue went to press earlier that day. The Buckeyes defeated Virginia Tech 42-24 in that opener and remain at the top of the AP poll. It’s worth noting that Bovada has named Cardale Jones as a 7/1 favorite to win the Heisman after he won the starting QB job while giving Boykin 9/1 odds. The Horned Frogs should have no problem putting away Stephen F Austin on Saturday. The Buckeyes are also favored over Hawaii.

Alabama and Auburn switched spots as No. 3 and No. 4 on our Top 25 after Jake Coker showing he could lead the Crimson Tide while the much-hyped Jeremy Johnson stumbled with three interceptions. Bama meets up with MTSU as Auburn plays Jacksonville State. The AP moved Alabama to No. 2 behind Ohio State while Auburn was unchanged at No. 6 after beating Louisville 31-24 last week.

In the rest of our Top 10, Baylor, USC, Georgia, Clemson are unchanged in ranking from week one in spots 5, 8, 9, and 10 respectively. Baylor plays Lamar, USC plays Idaho, Georgia is favored to win over Vanderbilt, and Clemson shouldn’t have any problems with Appalachian State.

In the rest of our Top 25, FSU, UCLA and Notre Dame moved ahead while LSU fell a spot (not playing last week due to the rainout) . Boise State and Oklahoma State moved ahead of Wisconsin (after the 35-17 loss to Bama last weekend). Ole Miss jumped from 22 to 18. Arizona and Tennessee moved up 1 spot each. Oklahoma jumped 2 spots from 23 to 21. Arkansas also impressed us, moving from 24 to 22. Utah entered our Top 25 while Missouri was unchanged at No. 25. Gone from the Top 25 is Arizona State (which debuted at No. 12), after losing last week to Texas A&M, 38-17.

On our Kickoff Thermostat this week, we had Notre Dame, UCLA and Boise State trending up. Penn State’s 27-10 loss to Temple was the most shocking of the first week upsets.

Which games are you most fired up to watch? Which teams do you expect (or hope) to see an upset this week? Let us know.

College Football Returns: Questions to Be Answered

College-Football-profilebCollege Football is back!

Things got off to an exciting start Thursday night as North Carolina and Minnesota gave South Carolina and TCU a run for their money. With a season as successful as last year, we doubt Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs will be left out of the playoffs again; we picked Boykin to our 2015 Preseason Kickoff All-Americans list. As we predicted, Utah spoiled Jim Harbaugh’s debut at Michigan. Arizona, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Nevada, Oklahoma State, Utah State, UConn, San Jose State, Wake Forest and Western Kentucky all won their games Thursday night.

We are thrilled to see this weekend’s matchups and finally get answers to the questions fans have had all year: Will Alabama play well enough against Wisconsin to deserve their high pre-season ranking? Can Virginia Tech spoil Ohio State’s bid to repeat as National Champs? How will Boise State players react to Chris Petersen’s return with Washington? Can teams, coaches and players live up to the hype? Which young quarterbacks will best respond to the pressure?

Everett Golson, Baker Mayfield and Vernon Adams won their respective QB jobs at Florida State, Oklahoma and Oregon, but we’ll just have to see who Nick Saban and Urban Meyer send in for the first series.

Earlier this week, The Kickoff published our first issue of the college football season. No doubt some of you have already consulted our Power Ratings before making your picks for this weekend. It’s not too late to subscribe so you can receive 16 more weeks of our newsletter, plus an additional six issues published during the off-season. Each Monday, we push it to your email inbox in PDF form or mail the printed version to your home or office.

In the first issue, we listed our Kickoff 2015 Preseason Top 50. Here’s the Top 25 from that list:

  1. Ohio State
  2. TCU
  3. Auburn
  4. Alabama
  5. Baylor
  6. Oregon
  7. Michigan State
  8. USC
  9. Georgia
  10. Clemson
  11. Georgia Tech
  12. Arizona State
  13. FSU
  14. LSU
  15. UCLA
  16. Notre Dame
  17. Wisconsin
  18. Boise State
  19. Oklahoma State
  20. Arizona
  21. Tennessee
  22. Ole Miss
  23. Oklahoma
  24. Arkansas
  25. Missouri

To see picks for 26-50 (as well as our Power Ratings for the teams above and a comparison of how our Top 25 matches up with the Vegas rank and Coaches Poll ranking), subscribe to The Kickoff today: https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/

Just like you, we’ll be glued to our television sets this Labor Day weekend, feasting on football after a long fast. The faces on the tube are changing a bit. Former Alabama Quarterback Greg McElroy replaces Tim Tebow on SEC Nation. Rece Davis is poised to take over ESPN’s College GameDay, replacing longtime host Chris Fowler.  Love them or hate them, Mark May and Lou Holtz will be tough to replace on ESPN Gameday Final, but we’ll see how Joe Tessitore and Joey Galloway do.

Some of the breakout players we’ll be paying close attention to: Jeremy Johnson of Auburn, Derrick Henry at Alabama, Anu Solomon at Arizona, Seth Russell at Baylor, Jared Goff at Cal, Deshaun Watson at Clemson, Dalvin Cook at FSU, Brad Kaaya at Miami (Fla.), Malik Zaire at Notre Dame, Mason Rudolph at Oklahoma State, Royce Freeman at Oregon, Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd at Tennessee, Kyle Allen at Texas A&M, and Cory Clement at Wisconsin.

Talk to us on social media this weekend and let us know which teams and players you think are overhyped, which upsets you expect to see and what your own predictions are. Our Facebook Page is https://www.facebook.com/TheKickoffZone , our Twitter is https://twitter.com/TheKickoffZone and you can find us on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/115092886371908088449/115092886371908088449/posts . Include the hashtag #thekickoff so we can follow your conversation.

Subscribe to The Kickoff today: https://thekickoffstore.com/subscriptions/individual/

The Kickoff Launches for the 2015 College Football Season

College football at goalline
football-at-goaline

The 2015 College Football Season is almost underway!

In the first issue of the 2015 college football season, published August 31st, The Kickoff shares our Preseason Top 50 and sets the initial Power Ratings for teams playing in this week’s games.

It will come as no surprise that we have Ohio State atop our preseason poll with TCU right behind, but beyond that, we are of a different mind as far as other recent polls based on our analysis of where we expect these schools to end up at the end of the year. We’ll go into that more later this week after our valued subscribers have had a chance to read the first newsletter.

There’s been a lot of speculation on whether the Southeastern Conference is losing its grip on domination. The other leagues are closing the gap on the premiere conference, but we still expect the SEC to rule the world of college football for another year. The margin of difference assigned in the Power Ratings between the SEC and the PAC-12 is growing slimmer.

In the first of 17 issues we will publish each Monday during the season, we place the Vegas ranking, the Amway Coaches’ ranking and our Kickoff ranking side-by-side for an easy comparison of the Top 25 so you can have a tool for making your Week One picks based on a numerical rating of all three polls averaged together.

While The Kickoff isn’t affiliated with the Vegas oddsmakers, our newsletter is a useful tool in prognosticating the results. Take advantage of a Buy 1, Get 1 special on individual subscriptions for a limited time, and you can have our newsletter ready to look at when making your own choices.

In the new issue, we also share our 2015 Preseason Kickoff All Americans (First team, Second team and Third team choices), the leading Heisman candidates and who we expect to be the breakout players this year. You’ll learn which three teams are hot on the Kickoff Thermostat during Week 1.

We also display the relevant stats for our Games of the Week: Alabama’s season opener against Wisconsin and North Carolina in a rare matchup against South Carolina. The Kickoff looks back to this date in 1989, when Notre Dame sat atop the rankings.
Included in the first issue is a list the schedule of every FBS team in the country along with select Division I FCS schedules.

Each week, you’ll be able to consult our Power Ratings for a numerical evaluation of the matchups. We provide this information in a table where you can quickly and easily determine the home teams, their opponents, their respective Power Ratings, and the margin between those ratings. Each team expected to win is designated with an asterisk. These bite-sized bits of information bring you instantly up to speed and reflect the bottom line in a format that fits your busy lifestyle.

For those of you who are new to The Kickoff, we have a complete description and illustration of what you get on our website at https://thekickoffstore.com/the-newsletter/ – It’s all intended to enhance your understanding and enjoyment of college football.

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