CFT preseason No. 5: Wisconsin

Leave a comment

2010 record: 11-2, 7-1 (T-1st Big Ten)

2010 bowl: 21-19 loss to TCU in the Rose Bowl

2010 final AP/coaches’ ranking: 7th/8th

Coach: Bret Bielema, sixth year; 49-16 overall, 27-13 conference

Offensive coordinator: Paul Chryst, seventh year

2010 offensive rankings: fifth, scoring offense (41.5 ppg); 21st, total offense (445.2 ypg); 12th, rushing offense (245.7 ypg); 75th, passing offense (199.5 ypg)

Defensive coordinator: Chris Ash, second year

2010 defensive rankings: 25th, scoring defense (20.5 ppg); 20th, total defense (321.8 ypg); 26th, rushing defense (127.9 ypg); 26th, passing defense (193.9 ypg)

Returning offensive starters: 4

Returning defensive starters: 6

Location: Madison, Wis.

Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium (FieldTurf; 80,321)

Last league title: 2010

2011 schedule: [view]

2011 roster: [view]

2010 statistics: [view]

Snapshot: Given the permanent departures of head coach Jim Tressel and starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, as well as three other offensive starters suspended for the first five games, it has been widely thought the Badgers would be the favorite to win the Leaders (chuckle) division of the reshaped and divided Big Ten. After Wisconsin added Russell Wilson a month ago? National title thoughts began dancing in the heads of those in around Madison.

While we’re not quite ready to make such a leap, it would be indefensible and downright wrong to downplay what the addition of the former North Carolina State and All-ACC quarterback could mean for the Badgers’ 2011 fortunes. Prior to Wilson’s arrival, uncertainty was the theme at the position, as head coach Bret Bielema appeared to have little quality options available in replacing Scott Tolzien under center. Adding Wilson to the roster and putting him atop the depth chart all of a sudden gives the Badgers a significant upgrade at a position that was otherwise very suspect and questionable, which is actually being kind.

And it’s not like Wilson needs to be prolific, either. No, with arguably the best one-two running back tandem in the country — James White and Montee Ball combined to rush for almost 2,100 yards and a staggering 32 rushing touchdowns last year — Wilson can be not only the game manager at the position Wisconsin needs, but he also possesses the ability, based on his extensive starting experience, to make plays on his own in the passing game as well. On top of that, more than half of a starting defense that finished top 25 nationally returns.

Add it all up, and mix in the troubles in Columbus, and the Badgers are primed for a serious run at an appearance in the inaugural conference championship game and, quite possibly, make some noise and be in the discussion on the national stage. As Auburn learned last year, one player at the most critical position on a football field can mean the difference between a fair-to-middling season and one that ends with you hoisting the crystal in January.

Make-or-break game: Oct. 29 at Ohio State

Certainly the conference games in October against Nebraska and at Michigan State will be important, but the Badgers first and foremost need to take care of business in their own division if they want to get where they think they can go this season. And while the Buckeyes have been swamped with a series of off-field issues that will bleed over onto the field thanks to the suspensions and key defection, they are still a talented team and will likely be the lone team standing between the Badgers and a trip to Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Field in early December. The fact that it will be played in Columbus will make it that much more difficult for Wisconsin. This is the kind of test, though, that the national players many already consider them to be need to pass.

Heisman hopefuls: White and Ball

I was really tempted to place Wilson in this spot, but common sense prevailed as it goes without saying that the two-headed ground-game wrecking crew will be the focal point of the offense yet again. White actually led the Badgers in rushing last season, but Ball was first in touchdowns. Each averaged over six yards per carry — White 6.7, Ball 6.1. Arguably the biggest obstacle to either truly contending for the Heisman is the presence of each other; they will likely split carries once again this season, watering down their total number of carries and thus keeping their production down as compared to where it would be if they were the lone workhorse.

Postseason projection: Rose Bowl

Return to CFT’s preseason Top 25

Big Ten preview, vote

USC makes hiring of Virginia’s Vic So’oto official

USC football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The massive renovation of Clay Helton’s USC football coaching staff has taken another official step.

Last week, it was reported that USC was expected to poach Vic So’oto from Virginia.  As Clint Sintim‘s hiring as So’oto’s replacement was announced a few days later, the latter’s move to the Trojans was a mere formality.

Tuesday, USC football confirmed So’oto’s addition to Clay Helton’s staff.  As he did with the ‘Hoos, So’oto will serve as the Trojans’ defensive line coach.

The 32-year-old So’oto was the line coach at Virginia for the past three seasons.  Prior to that, he was a defensive graduate assistant at the ACC program.

So’oto played his college football at BYU, ending his four-year career in 2010.  After his NFL career ended, So’oto began his collegiate coaching career as a football intern at his alma mater.

For those unaware, So’oto is the second cousin of USC football legend Junior Seau.

LSU confirms hiring of Scott Linehan as new passing-game coordinator

LSU football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LSU football has officially replaced one of the hottest young coaches in the sport.

Not long after LSU football claimed the 2019 national championship, Joe Brady left to take over as the offensive coordinator for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Earlier this month, it was reported that Scott Linehan was expected to be hired as Brady’s successor.

Tuesday, LSU confirmed that Linehan has indeed been named by Ed Orgeron as the Tigers’ new passing-game coordinator. The 56-year-old Linehan has spent the past 17 seasons he’s been a coach at the NFL level.

Linehan was out of coaching this past season.

“Scott brings a wealth of knowledge to our offense,” the LSU football head coach said in a statement. “We wanted to bring in someone who will expand our passing game and with Scott’s experience as an NFL head coach and offensive coordinator we feel this is the best move for our offense. After talking to numerous people with NFL experience and interviewing Scott we knew he was the right fit for the LSU Tigers.”

In 13 of those seasons in the NFL, Linehan served as an offensive coordinator.

  • Dallas Cowboys, 2015-18
  • Detroit Lions, 2009-13
  • Miami Dolphins, 2005
  • Minnesota Vikings, 2002-04

In the other four NFL seasons in which he wasn’t a coordinator, Linehan was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams (2006-08) and passing-game coordinator for the Cowboys (2014).

Linehan’s last job at the collegiate level came as the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at Louisville (1999-2001). From 1996-98, he was the coordinator at Washington.

American announces 2020 schedule

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The American Athletic Conference will again play football in 2020, the conference confirmed on Tuesday.

The American revealed its 2020 conference schedule, a 44-game slate that completes the 88 total games AAC teams will play in 2020. As a reminder, UConn is no longer an American member, meaning the conference will have 11 football-playing members for the foreseeable future. All 11 teams will still play an 8-game league schedule, and the conference will still hold a title game.

The 2020 season will also be the conference’s first under the new rights agreement it struck with ESPN in March. As such, at least 40 American home games will be shown on the ESPN family of networks, and at least half of those will be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The conference will play a total of 12 games on Thursday or Friday nights.

“We are excited to announce our 2020 schedule as we enter the next phase of our longstanding relationship with ESPN,” said commissioner Mike Aresco. “With the continued success our schools have had, I have no doubt that we will once again provide our fans, and ESPN, with compelling matchups throughout the season in both conference and nonconference play. We look forward to another outstanding season of American Athletic Conference football.”

The season will begin on Saturday, Aug. 29 when Navy “hosts” Notre Dame at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. That game will be shown on ESPN with College GameDay in tow as part of the network’s season kick-off effort. While the full schedule can be viewed here, highlights include:

  • North Carolina at UCF, Sept. 4 (Friday)
  • South Florida at Texas, Sept. 5
  • Temple at Miami, Sept. 5
  • Houston at Washington State, Sept. 12
  • Cincinnati at Nebraska, Sept. 26
  • TCU at SMU, Sept. 26
  • Memphis at SMU, Oct. 1 (Thursday)
  • UCF at Memphis, Oct. 16 (Friday)
  • Memphis at Cincinnati, Oct. 31
  • Memphis at Navy, Nov. 14
  • Cincinnati at UCF, Nov. 21
  • UCF at South Florida, Nov. 27 (Friday)

The 2020 American season will conclude with the sixth annual American Championship on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Ohio State CB Sevyn Banks to wear No. 7

Getty Images
1 Comment

George Costanza was never much of a college football fan. He was a New Yorker, after all. But he was a fan of the No. 7, and so he would have a new favorite college football player in 2020.

A product of Orlando’s Jones High School, Sevyn Banks has been a member of Ohio State’s defensive backfield since 2018. The former 4-star recruit has received limited playing time in the Buckeyes’ loaded defensive backfield, but figures to compete for a starting spot in 2020.

And now he’ll do so in his namesake number.

Banks announced Monday he will switch from No. 12 to No. 7 for the upcoming season.

The No. 7 had been claimed by linebacker Teradja Mitchell, who is now switching to No. 3, opening No. 7 for, well, Sevyn.

Banks appeared in all 14 games for Ohio State last season, collecting 11 tackles and one interception.

He’ll hope to get more burn in 2020, with some support from a fictional New Yorker.