Each week during the off-season I will be doing a new feature that will simply be called "This Week In College Football". We will cover the biggest news and stories of the past week and give some opinions and analysis.
AUBURN 22 OREGON 19
The biggest story of the week was the National Championship Game on Monday night and it was a good one. Everyone expected an offensive shootout but what happened was actually a defensive battle. Auburn was held 19 points below their season average and Oregon was held 28 points below theirs. Auburn hitman/assassin Nick (Un)Fairley was a beast and was a difference maker in this game. Cam Newton has really been a one-man wrecking crew for Auburn this year but on this day it was Freshman Michael Dyer, who spurned the home state advances of Bobby Petrino and Arkansas in recruiting to choose Auburn, who made the biggest play when it needed to be made. The SEC is now 7-0 in BCS Championship Games and has won the last 5. The SEC is simply dominant when it comes to the National Championship Game. Who will be the next team to step up? I'm thinking LSU or a return for Alabama.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
If I go there will be trouble...and if I stay it will be double. Saturday was the last day for underclassmen to declare themselves eligible for the NFL Draft. Earlier today I took a look at those who stayed who will have the biggest impact on their teams next year. So who are the top guys who decided to head for the NFL? Let's start with the National Champion Auburn Tigers. QB Cam Newton and DT Nick Fairley are both headed to the NFL. My blog mate Ross believes this may not be that bad for the Tigers as it opens up a lot of cap space for them (cue the laugh track). Staying in the SEC you have a "Who's Who" of college players who will be going pro...Randall Cobb, Marcell Dareus, A.J. Green, Justin Houston, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Ryan Mallett, Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley. I wouldn't mind starting an NFL team with that talent. So who was hit hardest by the defections? Was it Missouri who losses QB Blaine Gabbert (who CBS Sportsline has listed as their #1 QB), Pitt (who lose a RB, a FB and a WR), Georgia (who losses it's best offensive and defensive player), Alabama (who loses Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus). Nope, it's Auburn as they lose Cam Newton and Nick Fairley. Without those guys Auburn probably finishes anywhere from 3rd to 5th in a tough SEC West. Clemson losing RB Jamie Harper and DE Da'Quan Bowers hurts, but let's be honest...Clemson wasn't any good with those guys. Ryan Mallett leaving Arkansas was expected, it will be interesting to see how his replacement does in Petrino-land. SB Nation's Mocking the Draft has a pretty good list of who's going to the NFL, so check them out.
The biggest opening this off-season was Florida and Michigan. Florida was filled early by a high profile assistant and Michigan made a surprising choice that you can read about right here. Pitt named their second coach since firing Dave Wannstedt as they went for Todd Graham of Tulsa. Graham was 36-17 at Tulsa including 3 10-win seasons. Tulsa posted some impressive offensive stats last year (6th in points, 13th in passing yards and 15th in rushing yards). I like the hire. On the flip side Connecticut decided to go for a guy who has been in the Big East before. They chose Paul Pasqualoni. Pasqualoni had some success at Syracuse in his first 8 years but was shown the door after going 16-20 in his last 3 years. I'm not a huge fan of the hire. When I look at the UConn job, I think young up-and-coming coach, I don't think of hiring a guy who was DC for an NFL team that went 6-10.
WHO'S THE EARLY PICK FOR 2011?
The National Championship is just days old, underclassmen have declared their eligibility for the NFL Draft and recruiting is in it's last (but very important) stage. So it's only natural for us to start picking next years #1 team. Without analyzing schedules or recruiting there are definitely a few teams that I like. You have to pick someone from the SEC so right now I'll go with the tandem of LSU/Alabama. I really like what Oklahoma has coming back so they are in the Top 5. Don't forget about Oregon, they still look dangerous. That's my quickee top 4 right now. I also like Oklahoma State and Boise State but I'm not in love with them...yet.