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College Football Preview Comments


Here are the comments Iíve received from the people who have emailed me about the 2002 college football previews. You can click here to send me your comments and have them added to this page. You cand send me your comments in response to my previews, the comments of an emailer posted here, or my comments on the comments of an emailer. Thanks a lot to all of you who have checked out all the previews and sent me mail. I really appreciate it. My comments are in bold.


MAC


Jonathan,
Nice work on the MAC Preview. I also think a winning season is in reach for my Alma Mater, CMU. One thing I noticed: you listed Western Michigan as a toss-up for us, but we are listed as a win for WMU. One bit of trivia you may want to note: WMU has not won a game in Mt. Pleasant since 1973. Keep up the good work!
Chris

Central Michigan has a good number of starters returning, eight on each side of the ball and one of the weaker OOC schedules in the MAC. Those factors add up to a more successful 2002 season than the 2001 campaign of 3-8. That is an incredible stat without even considering the fact that WMU has had a great team over the past few years while CMU has struggled!


I appreciate what you are doing but your previews really lack depth. It is like you said, OK I will pick losses against the name schools and toss up the wins in conference. With regard to Toledo consider they do return the entire Oline (people with more than signiifacnt playing time), all the receivers, the defensive backfield and 2 all conference linebackers. Not to mention they have had stellar recruiting years. But that aside they haven't had a losing season in the last 8 years. My point is that they are not a hit and miss MAC program....we can revisit this conversation at years end. I will bet you a buck Marshall KO's Virginia Tech and another buck says Miami will beat Iowa @ home.
Stockton Rocket

When you're covering over 100 D-I teams, it's hard to go to in-depth with each team. I projected Toledo 5-7 and admit that's a little low. I wouldn't expect more than 7-5 but wouldn't be surprised to see a .500 season at all. I hope you do email me at the end the season, whether I'm right or wrong. I agree with your two upset picks. Both of them will be tough but are good shots for an upset. Check back once the season begins as I'll have week-by-week predictions on each and every game in D-I.


Keep up the good work!
EMUfan

Thanks, and keep coming back!



Independents


Just wanted to say thanks for including us in your reviews!
5-6 isn't too unfair but I think we are really expecting a break out year in Tampa this year with a definite loss to Oklahoma.
An upset against Arkansas could go a long way in helping build our confidence. A win and I could see an 8-3 season, a loss and I see a 6-5 season.
Once again, thanks and keep up the good work.
Anonymous

Thanks to you for checking out the site and emailing. If you guys match the 8-3 of last year, you will have gained a whole lot of respect from everyone. A winning record will keep USF heading in the right direction though. Iíll try to keep up the good work; you keep coming back!


Jonathan...
I'm sorry to see you didn't go further with USF in 2002.
You were the only one to predict them having an 8-3 record in '01 when everybody else thought they would win 5 games at most.
Although it is likely that they might not go 8-3 again this year, I'm fairly certain they will finish at least 7-4.
I could go into why I believe strongly in that, but since you have already made up your mind, I won't bother.
Suffice to say that USF has a good chance of upsetting Arkansas (like they did Pitt), and are geared up for payback to USM from a couple of years ago.
If you had the opportunity to see them in spring practice, I believe you would have a much higher opinion of them. This year's team is far and way better.
You had the opportunity to once again set yourself apart from the crowd, but you elected to take your money off the table and fall in line with the other pundits, and for that I'm disappointed.

Regards,
Howie

I went out on a limb last season and cashed in. The schedule is tougher this year with games at Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Texas, and East Carolina. I made up my mind, but that doesnít mean your words wonít make me think again. They have. Obviously, I didnít have a chance to see USF in spring practice, and itís often hard to tell much about a team when theyíre going against themselves anyway. Iím sorry to disappoint you, but I donít think USF is in for more than seven wins under the craziest circumstances, but I donít think a 6-5 season would be surprising. If Iím wrong, come back and tell me. If Iím right, I hope youíll write back as well.


Jonathan:
While I appreciate your efforts and apparent objectiveness (more so than most other publications/websites), I am also aware of the limitations you face when gathering and processing information. I may default to you in knowledge about all the other teams out there but I challenge your knowledge in regards to USF football. It is my belief (opinion) that USF has 5 winnable games this year - FAU, Northern Illinois, North Texas, Charleston Southern and Houston.
FAU - Only playing their second year of football so they lack the overall depth to hang with a I-A team, even a new one like USF. Also, did you happen to watch or read anything on FAU last year? FAU got thrashed by Div II Slippery Rock. For comparison sake, USF has never lost to a Div II program. Howard Schnellenberger is past his prime as a coach though I am sure he could still serve FAU in some other capacity. The game has passed him by IMO. Also, USF hasn't lost to a I-AA opponent since 1999.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS - Last year NIU won on a last second FG as time expired 20-17. That was USFs first game last year and they were unveiling their new no-huddle spread offense. Also, USF was coming off losing its largest graduating class ever - 24 players. We went to NIU with 20+ freshmen on our travel squad of 65 players so there was a lot of inexperienced players out there for us. NIU was playing with 3 (or 4) year starter Chris Finlen and a pair of RBs that rushed for over 2000 yards the year before. They were also returning a decent number of players on both sides of the ball. USF basically lead that game the entire time with a bunch of raw untested players and NIU was lucky to escape with the win. Now, USF has a full year under its belt with the offense (not to mention a nice tune up game vs FAU to start the season where NIU faces Wake Forest) so we should only have some minor tweaking to do to get back to game level. NIU has to travel to Florida and the high heat and humidity that the NIU players are not accustomed too. Add to that our no-huddle offense, and NIU will not be able to substitute as necessary and we will eventually be able to wear them down. Now consider that NIU comes in without a proven QB too. Finlen was no great QB but as a 3-4 year starter he had learned not to "screw" up to the point that he hurt the team. He didn't possess the raw athletic ability to carry a team but he didn't make stupid rookie mistakes either. Finally, and this really has no direct bearing on the game, USF has performed quite well in re-match games versus teams it previously lost to and I believe NIU will be no exception. With the speed USF has at the skill positions and NIUs lack of a really passing threat, USF will win this game by a wide margin.
NORTH TEXAS - While this game may be closer than I hope, I believe the pieces are in place for another win for the Bulls. Last year UNT started out their season with a heck of a top heavy schedule playing schools like Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech. By the time they got to the Bulls they were pretty dinged up and beaten down. This year appears to be no different. USF pretty much handled UNT last year adn unless they can find another way to get down the field than on the back of their RB (Galbreath), it may be more of the same. Defensively the Bulls return the same DL and LB (less Anthony Williams) so we should be able to contain their running game. UNTs biggest advantage going in to the game is that USF will have played Arkansas and Oklahoma on the road leading up to this game and we may be looking ahead to our home game versus Southern Miss. Barring any major injuries we should still be able to slide through with a win but maybe not as bigh as the previous years 28-10 margin.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN - USF played CSU in our first two years of football, 1997 and 1998. The score in 97 was 24-6 in favor of USF and in 1998 it was 24-0 in favor of USF. I don't see any way we lose this game unless CSU comes in heavily armed and shoots every single player on the team. USF will most likely use this game to let some injured players heal (USF also enjoys a bye week the week before) and let the underclassmen gain some much needed experience.
HOUSTON - I will admit that it looked like Houston just flat out quit last year during the season but I can't actually pin point when that happened. Regardless, USF basically beat the cougar snot out of them. I am sure Houston will be looking for some measure of revenge in this game but it is a long season leading up to it and if UH stumbles through the season again USF could win this game just as easily. Still, it may be overly optimistic to call this a guaranteed win but based on last years game it is not out of the possibility.
I see 5 toss up games as well - Arkansas, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Memphis and Bowling Green.
ARKANSAS - I view Arkansas as our 2002 version of Pitt in 2001. I think they are beatable but it will take a heck of a game from us. Arkansas starts the season off with Boise State, who most say is the leading candidate to win the WAC this year, that also runs a pretty up tempo attack. The Arkansas hosts USF followed by Alabama. It is possible that they could be looking past USF to Bama but this is definitely not a guaranteed "W" for Arkansas in my book.
SOUTHERN MISS - The much anticipated re-match with USM. USF played at USM in 2000 and they whipped our butts 41-7. The game left a bad taste in everyone's mouth for several reasons. First off, their fans started throwing hot chocolate on the USF players sitting on the bench - I know this for a fact because I was there and witnessed it first hand. Secondly, USM really laid it on thick to the point with a comfortable lead and 4th and long - they faked a punt and got the first down. Personally i don't disagree with that style at all because the game is played to be won. You don't take it easy on anyone period. Third (and last) there were several unsubstantiated claims by USM fans that our players were playing dirty and attempting to "gouge" the eyes of the USM starting QB. They claimed it got so bad that they had to install a face visor on the QBs face mask to protect him. When watching the game tape later there was absolutely no evidence what so ever of any visor. When confronted with this, USM fans claimed it had to be removed because the QB couldn't see through it. It just left a bad taste in most folks mouths that losing was bad enough but having to listen to the slanderous comments just made it worse. As one final sliver of insult, USM was one of the majoy stumbling blocks to USF getting into CUSA in 2001. They were opposed to USF getting in CUSA because we were unproven and would drag the conference down. In the past 2 years USF has made great strides in our on the field product and we are not the same team they saw in 2000. Also, USM comes in to the game with an unproven QB as well as 3-4 year starter Jeff Kelly is gone. Again, the game is winnable for the Bulls but it all has to go our way or at least a couple of timely miscues on USM's part at critical times could help too.
EAST CAROLINA - Another team that was set against USF getting into CUSA. ECU comes in to the season having to replace their starting QB and leading ground gainer the year before. Couple that with what appears to be an absolutely attrocious defense (did you see the ECU-Marshall debacle last year in the bowl game?) and USF could pull of the upset here as well.
MEMPHIS - An extremely close game last year with Memphis hanging on for the win 17-9. Memphis jumped out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter mostly off mis-direction and cut back plays. I give credit to the UM staff for taking advantage of our over pursuit defensive strategy and earning those points. I also credit the Bulls defensive staff for correcting that and shutting down the Tigers the rest of the game. What hurt USF in this game was Marquel Blackwell throwing 3 unforced INTs. Also the USF kicker was suffering through a string of missed FGs (ended up finding out that he had a slightly torn ACL) including one in this game and the coaching staff opting for a fake FG which ended up costing us 6 potential points. USF got the ball back inside their own 20 yard line with1:06 left on the clock and no time outs left and they were still able to drive the ball down the field to get in scoring position. With :06 left on the clock and the Bulls inside the Memphis 10 yard line we went for the potential game tying (with 2 pt conversion) TD. Memphis commited a pass interference as time expired and that put the Bulls at the Memphis 2 yard line with no time left giving us one more shot at the endzone. The game ended with a slightly overthrown pass to our 6'-5" WR (I just finished watching the game tape that is how I know all this). While not a guaranteed win it is not a guaranteed loss for the Bulls this year either.
BOWLING GREEN - First ever meeting between our schools and reportedly the first game of a 4 game series. BGSU suprised a lot of people last year going 8-3 under new head coach Urban Meyer (sp?). BGSU runs a similar offense to USF but I think we have the better athletes. BGSUs D was pretty good last year but hey only have 2 bone fide starters returning this year so that could be a problem. I really like our chances in this game but BGSU is an unkown quantity so it is hard to really predict anything.
My hope is that all the winnable games are indeed won by USF and that we can win at least 2 of the 5 toss up games. With a loss to Oklahoma (no doubt that we can win this game but hope we can keep it close and respectable) that should put as 7-4 best case scenario and a worst case one of 5-6 (which is what I believe you predicted). Last year many people did not give USF much of a chance (well that's been pretty much the case all along) and the best prediction I saw for us was 5-6. Well we out performed the "geniuses" by going 8-3 with a huge (emotional) win over Pitt. The three losses were: USF 17 - NIU 20, USF 9 - Memphis 17 and USF 21 - Utah 52. USF possess a high powered offense that is capable of putting a lot of points on the board really fast. One stat you may not be aware of from last year was time of possession. On average USF held the ball almost 9 minutes less per game than their opposition (25+ minutes per game for USF and 35- minutes per game for the opposition) yet still managed to outscore our opposition 387-231. Granted Southern Utah, Liberty and Western Illinois are not true guages of how we would perform against USM, Ark, OU, and ECU but we held our own last year when many predicted a struggling season for us.
Anyway, just wanted to provide you with a little more in deth information that you might not have access too. BTW, here is a link to the active USF message board. Feel free to drop by but I am pretty sure they will not be happy with your analysis (you'd better have some pretty thick skin as most USF fans have a humongous sized chip on their shoulders and take offense fairly easily).
http://www.bullventuresinc.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl
Gary

This is by far the longest and best email Iíve ever received. Although I donít agree with everything he said, he does make some interesting and good points. Thanks for the time and effort.



Sun Belt

One issue, Louisiana Laf. asks NOT to be called "ULL". Try Cajuns or UL, or UL Lafayette. "ULL" is like running your fingernails across the chalkboard for Cajun fans.

Peace,
Hunter

Sorry, didnít know the Cajuns didnít like that one. Iíll try to keep it in mind from now on.


Jonathan,
Nice job on the Sun Belt preview. Good, positive outlook - we need that!
I will say that I think you will be surprised by year's end. ULL is not high on your list, but things will change in Cajun country this year. We have the best returning QB in the conference and a coach who can make a difference. We are the dark horse in the conference this year!
Toddy

The Cajuns are bound to have a good year soon. Could this be it?


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