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Tag Archives: Alabama Crimson Tide

Bama Prevails in CFP, Sights Turn to 2016 Season

Alabama fans

Alabama fans are on top of the world after defeating the Clemson Tigers in the second College Football Playoff Game Jan. 11, 2016.

We were hoping for a great National Championship Game, and ClemsonAlabama did not disappoint!

Deshaun Watson and Clemson fought hard to the bitter end, but Bama’s big plays were just too much for too long. The Crimson Tide earned its fourth national championship since 2009 with the final score of 45-40.

We’ll be doing quarterly drawings for a Polar Bear Cooler, so sign up at https://thekickoffstore.com/coolest-fan-contest/and watch our Facebook Page for announcements of winners so you can tailgate this summer and fall while staying the coolest fan at the stadium.

Nick Saban joins Bear Bryant as the only coaches in college football history to win five national titles.  Speaking of dynasties, in this week’s FCS Championship game, North Dakota State won its fifth consecutive national title after defeating Jacksonville State.

This time last year, everyone was talking about how Ohio State were favorites to dominate. Now there’s speculation that Clemson is likely to start 2016 ranked No. 1 with Watson a favorite for the next Heisman. The Crimson Tide will probably lose this year’s winner, Derrick Henry, and a lot of other talent, along with defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who was named Georgia’s coach, but Saban never seems to have any problem reloading.

To order our new Basketball newsletter, The Tipoff, call us at (423) 267-0953. The cost is $12 for 12 weeks of the most weekly comprehensive information on college basketball schedules, scores and results available on a weekly basis.

The latest issue of The Kickoff, our 17th issue of the season, includes our Final Top 25, with Alabama, Clemson, Stanford, Ohio State and Oklahoma at the top. We include superlatives and upsets, plus trends from throughout the season.

The issue includes stats and scores from all of the Bowl games and our final Power Ratings from the results. How does your team stack up among all 128 FBS schools?

“We would like to thank everyone for helping to make this, our 65th year in publication, a successful year,” said Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff. “The Kickoff would not exist without your continued support. We look forward to adding even more improvements in 2016, which we have already started mapping out. See you next fall!”

With the College Football Playoff done, the slate is wiped clean with all teams making a fresh start and their eyes on the prize this fall. Over the next several months, bragging rights will be redeemed and hopes build with potential.

Our attention now turns to fresh answers for the same questions we annually ponder…

  • Will new coach hires empower teams to turn things around? Will the powerhouses suffer with the loss of talent? Which coaches will enter the new season feeling some heat to either deliver success or find new jobs?
  • What weaknesses do schools need to find solutions? What new chess pieces will programs be able to move? Which teams will win the recruiting wars? What new weapons will teams add to their arsenals of talent?
  • Who are the future high school and JUCO stars in the making? Which teams and players will actually live up to the hype? Which ones are destined to crack under the pressure of lofty expectations? Which players will return healed from injuries?
  • Who will advance to the next level and enter the NFL draft early? How well are they expected to do? Can they compete in the different environment?

These questions are part of what makes college football great: the anticipation of what can be achieved with the right talent, team chemistry and coaching. The Kickoff predicts which prospects have the potential to be future stars, elevate programs, or at least contribute right away.

The Kickoff puts out 6 monthly issues between February and July covering recruiting, spring practice and transfer. We hope that if you haven’t already, you will invest in a full year subscription (23 issues for $28) to The Kickoff so you can have our information at your fingertips as momentum builds for another great year of college football!

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Midseason Reflections on College Football Season

We are midway through the 2015 College Football Season and the stakes of each game are getting higher as we inch closer to the Playoffs!

Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff, reflected on the season thus far and the challenges ahead for teams still in the hunt…

In the Oct. 19th edition of Kickoff Top 25, we had TCU and Ohio State replaced in the top spots by Utah and LSU. There were 14 undefeated teams in our Top 25, with single-loss Alabama ranked at No. 9. Our Strength of Schedule analysis in that issue showed that Ohio State played a schedule with the largest difference between their ranking and their average opponent ranking in 2015. This indicates that the Buckeyes may not have the “easiest” straight schedule, but in regards to their official rating, they have more of a schedule advantage than any other team in the country.

“Ohio State hasn’t looked good against lower rated teams and does not have any quality wins, plus they have two quarterbacks, which means they don’t have a quarterback,” Duff said. “TCU has been inconsistent. They only beat Iowa State (which had a 2-4 record) by 24 points last week. That’s the second time they’ve nearly been knocked off by a lower rated team.”

The Kickoff was high on Utah and LSU based on several factors, including wins against quality opponents in top-rated conferences, including the Tigers’ win over a Florida team that was undefeated until last week. “At this point, Utah has the most quality wins” over teams like Michigan, California, Arizona State and putting up 62 points against Oregon. Utah ended up losing Saturday to USC 42-24. LSU beat Western Kentucky 48-20.

In the Oct. 26 issue, LSU lept to the top of our Top 25 while Clemson jumped from No. 7 to No. 4. FSU, which lost a heartbreaker to Georgia Tech, fell from No. 8 to No. 15. Alabama moved up two spots after beating Tennessee in a close one. 

Duff said he expects the winner of the Alabama-LSU game to be in the Playoffs. “Leonard Fournette is one of the best players we’ve seen since Bo Jackson in terms of pure natural talent, speed and size. He just demolishes people, which is very rare. He hasn’t had less than 150 yards in a game all season. It is possible LSU is going to fall a bit in the ratings as their schedule eases up. When you look at strength of teams played, they benefitted from their opener against McNeese State being cancelled due to weather on Sept. 5th.”

In other words, we still have a lot of football left to play.

The weeks ahead will determine which coaches get pink slips or trophies. We’ve already seen Steve Spurrier and Steve Sarkisian leave their teams after 2-4 and 3-2 starts respectively. “I knew Spurrier wouldn’t last long with the way South Carolina was performing, but I was surprised he quit in the middle of the season,” Duff said.

Ohio State was atop our Preseason Top 25. Our No. 3 pick, Auburn, is perhaps the biggest shocker of the year, now at 4-3 and out of playoff contention after Saturday’s 4-Overtime game at Arkansas. The Tigers still have Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Idaho, and Alabama  remaining on their schedule.

“The media, including The Kickoff, bought into a lot of hype about Jeremy Johnson based on the limited amount of work he did last season as a starter, which looked fabulous and suggested he had better skills than Nick Marshall, but the kid lost his confidence after throwing interceptions, plus Auburn lost Carl Lawson, who was supposed to be their leader on defense and an All-American. Gus Malzahn forgot how important a mobile quarterback was in his system,” Duff said.

Comparing the preseason and last week’s Kickoff Top 25s, Oregon, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Boise State, and Tennessee, all have failed to meet their potential in 2015. Teams that haven’t disappointed so far include TCU, Ohio State, Baylor, Michigan State, Clemson, FSU, Oklahoma State, and Arizona.

Our games of the week last week were Clemson at Miami, FL and Tennessee at Alabama.

We went with undefeated Clemson, which enjoyed a 13.6 difference in Power Ratings with the 4-2 Hurricanes. “Clemson could be in the playoffs, as they have done their thing under the radar this season. They’ll need better quarterback play to get past Florida State on Nov. 7th,” Duff said. The Tigers shut them out 58-0, leading to Al Golden being fired this week.

We assigned the Crimson Tide (6-1) a 9 point difference in Power Ratings over the Volunteers. Duff expected the game to be a close one. “Butch Jones has taken the leash off Josh Dobbs and let him play his own game. Statistically, Tennessee ran the ball all over Georgia. Alabama’s defense is set up to stop a classic pro offense and has problems whenever they face a spread offense with a mobile quarterback,” he said. Bama ended up winning 19-14.

It’s not too late to get our Halftime Subscription so you can arm yourself with knowledge when you face off at your family’s Thanksgiving Dinner against your know-it-all uncle who went to that rival school! We have nine issues left to publish this season. Pay just $10.62 to get a Mid-Season Email/PDF Subscription ($19.58 for printed issues sent 1st Class mail to your home or office).  As the season progresses, we’ll lower the price weekly so you only pay for what’s left of the season. Hey, better late than never to get in the game! Email kickofforders@gmail.com to sign up today.

Also, test your knowledge of college football by participating in our Thursday Throwdown trivia on Facebook. We stumped quite a few people this week with our question about the 1985 Fresno State team that was the only unbeaten Division 1-A team in the country, ranked 16th in the Coaches Poll that year.

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.

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.

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Who Will Win the Quarterback Races?

quarterback-2With less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, it is crunch time for teams to choose their starting quarterbacks.

Will it be JT Barrett or Cardale Jones at Ohio State? Jake Coker or David Cornwell at Alabama? Everett Golson or Sean Maguire at Florida State? We’ll soon know.

Braxton Miller simplified things a little bit by moving to receiver for the Buckeyes, but we still don’t know for sure who will take the first snap against Virginia Tech. Urban Meyer promised no announcement will come before Sept. 7, but he’s in a good position with two proven winners in the running locked in a fierce competition for the starting job. It’s possible that Barrett may start under center with Jones running the option. That’s a scenario sure to cause headaches for defensive coordinators.

“Coach Meyer has a tough decision to make,” said Tommy Duff, Editor of The Kickoff newsletter, which covers college football with 17 issues weekly during the season. “Neither Barrett nor Miller participated in the spring game, leaving Cardale Jones the chance to make the most of the opportunity. Jones was inconsistent during the spring game, leaving the door open for Barrett to reclaim his starting QB slot this fall.”

We questioned whether the quarterback questions at Alabama are reasons to feel the Crimson Tide is overrated in preseason polls. After all, Jake Coker was supposed to set the world on fire last year and ended up as a backup QB. You’d think he would be the sure pick with another year under his belt to learn the system, now there’s word Coker’s dealing with a foot injury and has missed practices. That heightens speculation about redshirt freshman David Cornwell becoming the starter if Coker isn’t healthy. Of course, with so much talent, Nick Saban also has true freshman Blake Barnett or Alec Morris or Cooper Bateman to throw in the mix. The Tide starts the season Sept. 5th at AT&T Stadium.

“Coker failed to really separate himself from the pack, due to inconsistent play throughout spring practice. The spring game official rosters had Coker listed first team and Cornwell 2nd. That being said, it was Coker who had the best spring game showing, though Saban refrained from naming him the starter at that point,” Duff said.

Jimbo Fisher faces the daunting task of replacing Jameis Winston. Golson, the former Notre Dame quarterback, seems more likely to fill Winston’s shoes – if he’s had time to learn the FSU offense. The Seminoles open at home against the Texas State Bobcats on Sept. 5th.

“The conventional wisdom is that Maguire has done enough to separate himself from his
competition to replace Jameis Winston, but coach Fisher noted his inconsistent play during the spring game,” Duff said.

Things have gotten interesting in Oregon after dual-threat player Vernon Adams passed summer school. Jeff Lockie was Marcus Mariota’s backup, so he may be better positioned to get the job. The Ducks play Michigan State on Sept. 12th.

“Oregon has one of the more intriguing QB stories of the offseason,” Duff said. “Adams transferred from Eastern Washington and was initially overlooked by FBS schools because of his size (5’11” 170 lbs.), but had led the FCS program to victory over Oregon State and put up 475 yards of total offense in a close loss to Washington during the last two seasons.”

At Oklahoma, two-year starter Trevor Knight may lose the job because of past turnovers to Baker Mayfield if the Texas Tech transfer hasn’t been affected by “shoulder fatigue” reported in the offseason. Also in the mix is Cody Thomas. The Sooners play Akron on Sept. 5th.

“Knight entered the 2014 season expected to have a breakout season after leading the team to a victory in over Alabama in their bowl game. It was much different this spring (after an injury shortened and disappointing season) as Knight found himself in a 4 way competition to hold onto his job. Some around the program had expected Mayfield to take over the spot, but he threw costly picks in the spring game. None of the four QBs were able to make any real separation in spring,” Duff said.

We’ll know the answers to these questions in just a few days!

buy-1-get-1The Kickoff is your secret weapon to excel in your fantasy league, office pool or when talking college football with co-workers and online friends. While we aren’t affiliated with the Vegas oddsmakers, our newsletter is a useful tool in prognosticating about games. Our Power Ratings use a statistical formula, giving readers a powerful tool for comparing football programs and anticipating the outcomes. Between August and January, we publish 17 weekly issues that are available in print and electronic versions. We put out an additional 6 monthly issues (February – July) covering recruiting, spring practice and transfers.

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Written by Steven Stiefel

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