Predictions 101 — BCS championship game

60 Comments

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama
Mon., Jan. 7 – 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Miami, Fla. – Sun Life Stadium

This one certainly has the marquee value befitting college football’s Super Bowl.

Alabama (12-1) has put its name on 14 national championships, including two in the last three years. Notre Dame (12-0) is gunning to claim its 12th title, which would be its first since 1988.

If the Crimson Tide are able to become the first-ever BCS repeat national champ, you’ll have to go back more than 60 years to find a school that won three titles in a four year span, which was none other than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1946, 1947, 1949).

It truly is a heavyweight battle and both teams appropriately qualified for this massive clash because of their excellent defensive units.

Alabama ranks first nationally in total defense and rushing defense, second in scoring defense and sixth in passing defense.

Notre Dame has a similar résumé, ranking first in scoring defense, fourth in rushing defense, sixth in total defense and 21st in pass defense.

Both teams allow less than 11 points per game (Alabama 10.7, Notre Dame 10.3). We won’t spend any time quibbling about the difference in the opposition. Games are games and wins are wins. Both units are exceptional.

It’s on offense where we find distinct separation.

In its last game, Notre Dame kicked five field goals and scored only one touchdown in a nail-biting 22-13 victory over middle-of-the-Pac USC. Yes, the same USC that was quarterbacked by Max Wittek instead of Matt Barkley. Yes, the same USC that had a pair of Kiffins leading the underachieving offense (Lane) and defense (Monte) all season.

Alabama’s last game was quite different. It wasn’t flawless football, but when the chips were down, Bama simply bowled over Georgia. The Crimson Tide ran the football 51 times against the Bulldogs, with the majority of those carries coming when Georgia fully expected the same zone running play. Nonetheless, Alabama finished with a whopping 350 yards on the ground against a unit that reportedly features nine NFL caliber defenders.

The Crimson Tide’s ability to run between the tackles with the linemen routinely getting to the second level was amazing. Irish inside linebacker Manti Te’o and his cohorts will have their hands full, getting off blocks and trying to bring down Alabama’s one-two punch of warrior running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.

We respect the job that the Irish have done against the run, allowing only two rushing touchdowns this season, but we ain’t talking Wake Forest here. Alabama has scored 35 rushing touchdowns and the Tide won’t be denied.

Notre Dame will be forced to stack the box to slow the Tide’s roll on the ground, but that’s dangerous business for a suspect secondary. At any moment, Alabama freshman wideout Amari Cooper can blow the top off your defense on the outside. Just ask Georgia.

The Irish are solid and balanced on offense, but not good enough to take advantage of Alabama’s few frailties.

Teams have been able to pass against the Tide, but that’s after establishing a running game. We don’t think the Irish will be able to do that and will end up one-dimensional. If that’s the case, we have little confidence that redshirt freshman Everett Golson will be able to a do a “Johnny Football” on the Tide.

Nick Saban’s defense has the size and strength to match up well with Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and the athleticism on the outside to contain Golson.

Irish fans will contend that the Tide looked vulnerable in the SEC title game and that they would have lost if Georgia could have gotten another snap off.

This is true, but that fact actually works against the Irish. The Tide know that they didn’t play their best game against the Bulldogs. They don’t need Saban to remind them of that … but he will and there will be lots of fine tuning going on in Tuscaloosa.

The Irish beat representatives from five BCS conferences en route to 12-0, but not anybody from THE BCS conference. Until now. They’ll meet their match and then some.

Opening point spread: Alabama by 9 1/2

The pick: Alabama 24-13

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

Former Bowling Green head coach among two new USC hires

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The remaking of Clay Helton‘s USC staff continues.

The Trojans on Tuesday announced the hiring of two new assistants coaches, one each side of the ball.

Chad Kauha’aha’a has been hired away from Boise State as defensive line coach, and Mike Jinks has been announced as running backs coach.

Kauha’aha’a has coached in college football since 2005, almost exclusively as a defensive line coach. His previous stops include Weber State, Utah State, Utah, Wisconsin and Oregon State. He worked just one season at Boise, where his Broncos front ranked 10th nationally with 3.0 sacks per game and 23rd nationally in rushing at 122.9 yards per game allowed.

Jinks was most recently the head coach at Bowling Green, but prior to that served on Kliff Kingsbury‘s Texas Tech staff as running backs coach, which he did from 2013-14.

Prior to that, Jinks spent a decade and a half as a high school football coach in Texas, the last seven as the head coach at Cibolo Steele High School in the San Antonio area.

Ohio cop on Courtney Smith allegations against ex-Ohio State WR coach: ‘She’s petrified and I really believe her’

Getty Images
6 Comments

Zach Smith no longer works for Ohio State and Urban Meyer is on his way out, but the controversy that consumed the two men — and, thus, the university that employed them — isn’t over.

The Columbus Dispatch on Monday got its hands on thousands of pages of documents relating to Courtney Smith‘s allegations against her ex-husband. At the core of the Dispatch‘s Tuesday report was video of an interview Smith conducted on Oct. 26, 2015, with Powell (Ohio) police officer Ben Boruchowitz, in which Smith describes how Zach Smith had shoved her the night before, and how the previous night’s incident was but another episode of domestic violence she had experienced.

In the video, recorded on body-cam footage and released to the paper after a months-long public-records complaint, Smith described how Zach had previously cut her hand on a tobacco can during an argument, how he had picked her up by her throat during an argument on a Dominican Republic vacation and how he had thrown her across the room while she was pregnant during the time they lived in Florida — all allegations that have since become public knowledge but were not so at the time.

Smith also described to the police officer how she had confronted Zach about an alleged affair and how he responded, “I’ll (expletive) kill you, I’ll destroy you.”

The video shows Boruchowitz going back and forth from the interview room to a phone, where he spoke with prosecutors. From the Dispatch:

In one of those phone conversations, Boruchowitz expressed his concern to a prosecutor for Courtney Smith’s safety due to Zach Smith’s alleged threats to kill her.

“She’s petrified, and I really believe her,” he said. ”… Based on the degree of violence that he’s done against her, you and I both know when there’s strangling and choking and those kinds of violence, (they) are pretty good indicators that there’s a high chance he may actually follow through with it.”

The interview ended with Boruchowitz stating he could charge Zach Smith with disorderly conduct, which she declined. Still, the Powell Police Department recommended charging Zach Smith with felonious assault and domestic violence, but the Delaware County (Ohio) prosecutor’s office declined to present the findings to a grand jury.

“We didn’t present it because after going through everything we went through, we didn’t find any felony charges that we thought we could prove,” Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien told the paper.

Smith remained employed at Ohio State through the 2015 season and the next two before he was fired days before training camp for the 2018 season began.

Ole Miss OC among Mack Brown’s new offensive hires

Getty Images
1 Comment

Yet again, Mack Brown continues to outperform expectations among his staff hires.

After swiping Army’s Jay Bateman to run his defense, the new North Carolina head coach has hired Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo to run his offense. Assisting Longo on the offensive staff will be new wide receivers coach Lonnie Galloway and offensive line coach Brandon Jones.

“Phil Longo, Lonnie Galloway and Brandon Jones are three outstanding coaches, recruiters, teachers and mentors of young men,” Brown said in a statement. “Phil has been one of the most successful play callers in college football for many years and at every level. Lonnie and Brandon have tremendous ties to the state of North Carolina and will continue to build on their strong relationships with the great high school coaches in this state. I am so excited at how our coaching staff is taking shape and look forward to announcing the final pieces very soon.”

Longo has spent the past two seasons running the Rebels’ offense, where his 2018 unit ranked among the top 10 nationally at 510.5 yards per game. Longo’s hiring indicates Brown intends to bring the Air Raid to Chapel Hill.

Longo’s departure means Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke will have to replace both coordinators after his first season as the Rebels’ full-time head coach. Defensive coordinator Wes McGriff has already been replaced by former Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre.

Galloway has spent the past four seasons coaching wide receivers at Louisville but has plenty of experience in the Land of Flight. He played quarterback at Western Carolina and deposited coaching stints at Elon, East Carolina, Appalachian State and Wake Forest.

Jones spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach at Texas Tech, his alma mater, and previously coached offensive lines at Cal and East Carolina.

Boston College extends Steve Addazio through 2022

Getty Images
3 Comments

Throughout the past month, it seemed up in the air whether Boston College would fire head coach Steve Addazio or extend him. Now, two and a half weeks after Boston College concluded its regular season, we have our answer.

BC AD Martin Jarmond on Tuesday announced the school has extended Addazio by two seasons, keeping him under contract through 2022. In a letter written to BC supporters and released to the media, Jarmond wrote:

After every season we evaluate all aspects of our programs to make sure they are aligned with the core mission and principles of the Boston College athletics department.

While all of us wish our regular season in football had ended with more victories, we took important steps in the right direction this year: returning to the national rankings for the first time since 2008, capturing the nation’s attention with ESPN’s College GameDay on-campus, being in the running for the conference championship in November and playing in another post-season bowl.

In addition, our football student-athletes remain great ambassadors for our University and also continue to achieve tremendous success in the classroom, graduate at one of the highest rates in the country, and become successful leaders.

To continue building on our football program’s progress and promise, we are extending Coach Steve Addazio’s contract for two additional years through the 2022 season. Steve and I are committed to taking the next steps to enhance competitive excellence in Boston College football.

With Addazio under contract only through 2020, Boston College was in a rare position where the school really did have to either fire him or extend him. With another two years on his contract, Addazio can now credibly tell BC’s 2019 recruits that he is under contract through the length of their 4-year eligibility…. but not one season longer.

As far as endorsements from your AD go, this one is about as lukewarm as they get.

Boston College heads into the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dec. 26 in Dallas) at 7-5 on the season. The Eagles started 7-2 and rose as high as No. 17 in the AP poll but lost their final three games: 27-7 to No. 2 Clemson, 22-21 at Florida State and 42-21 to No. 19 Syracuse in Chestnut Hill.

Addazio is an even 38-38 in six seasons at Boston College; his teams have never won more than seven games, and never gone better than 4-4 in ACC play (they’re 18-30 overall in conference).

So, while 2018 was not exactly a make-or-break year for Addazio at Boston College, 2019 definitely will be.