Sunday, May 29, 2016

Baylor Bears 2016 outlook

Baylor Bears

2015 record: 10-3, 6-3 Big 12

2016 schedule:

Sept. 3 vs Northwestern State
Sept. 10 vs SMU
Sept. 16 (Fri.) at Rice
Sept. 24 vs Oklahoma State
Oct. 1 at Iowa State
Oct. 15 vs Kansas
Oct. 29 at Texas
Nov. 5 vs TCU
Nov. 12 at Oklahoma
Nov. 19 vs Kansas State
Nov. 25 (Fri.) vs Texas Tech (Arlington)
Dec. 3 at West Virginia

With the suspension and eventual termination of coach Art Briles on May 26 as a result of allegations of multiple players committing sexual assaults on fellow students, the Baylor Bears are in limbo going forward.

Sans the coaching situation, Baylor comes off a 10-3 season, but critical late season losses to TCU and Oklahoma destroyed any chances of not only making the College Football Playoff, but any of the New Year's Six games.

The second-ranked rushing offense (326.7 yards per game) in the FBS will be led by the one-two running back punch of Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson.

In order for quarterback Seth Russell to receive maximum protection, the offensive line will go through a rebuild as center Kyle Fuller returns as the only starter from last season.

Players To Watch For- Senior quarterback Seth Russell:

Barring any setbacks, Russell should be on track to start against Northwestern State on Sept. 3 after missing the final six games last season because of a neck injury which required surgery.

Russell's 2015 stats proved to be gaudy in seven games with 29 touchdown passes and six interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 189.7.

Senior center Kyle Fuller:

As mentioned earlier in the outlook, Fuller returns to man the Baylor offensive line and was named to the 2016 Rimington Trophy Spring watch list on May 17. 

Fuller earned second-team All-Big 12 honors and started all 13 games last season for the Bears, along with being a part of the offensive line that allowed a conference best 1.15 sacks per game.

Key Game- Nov. 5 vs TCU:

As former members of the Southwestern Conference, both teams rarely contended at the same time, but things changed after the split in 1996 to the Western Athletic Conference and Big 12, respectively.

Both teams played frequently, but it was not until the 2011 high-scoring affair in Waco, where the rivalry began to pick up national steam with Baylor defeating TCU 50-48.

Baylor became a force to be reckoned with on the national stage as it has been bowl-eligible in each season since. The duels these two teams have put together in recent years have made this game stand out on the schedule.

The last three meetings have been decided by a total of 13 points and expect this edition to be no different as potential stakes in the New Year's Six could be up for grabs in the first week of November.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Missouri Tigers 2016 outlook

Missouri Tigers

2015 record: 5-7, 1-7 SEC East

2016 schedule:

Sept. 3 at West Virginia
Sept. 10 vs Eastern Michigan
Sept. 17 vs Georgia
Sept. 24 vs Delaware State
Oct. 1 at LSU
Oct. 15 at Florida
Oct. 22 vs Middle Tennessee State (Homecoming)
Oct. 29 vs Kentucky
Nov. 5 at South Carolina
Nov. 12 vs Vanderbilt
Nov. 19 at Tennessee
Nov. 26 vs Arkansas

With issues on and off the field, the 2015 season proved to be a tumultuous one for the Missouri Tigers.

The retirement of Gary Pinkel (health reasons) and the dismissal of starting quarterback Matty Mauk leaves question marks going into 2016.

First-year coach Barry Odom will have a lot on the agenda, highlighted by finding a consistent presence at quarterback.

Players To Watch For- Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock:

With Eddie Printz’s departure to Texas State and Mauk’s dismissal, the keys have been given to Drew Lock to bring Missouri back to the conversation as a contender in the SEC East division.

Lock split time with Mauk in 2015 and fared pedestrian at best with 1,332 yards through the air, to go along with four touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Harold Brantley:

A key factor, which played into the Tigers losing seven of eight games in conference play was the loss of Harold Brantley for the 2015 season.

Brantley suffered multiple injuries in a car accident in June 2015, but should be on track to return in time for fall camp.

Notable coaching addition:

With Odom at the helm, Josh Heupel joins the ship as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Heupel served as the OC the last five seasons at Utah State and his alma mater, Oklahoma.

Key Game- Oct. 1 at LSU: 

Believe it or not, this will be the first time Missouri and LSU meet in SEC play as they are in different divisions. This game will likely serve as a great indicator as to where Missouri’s season could go.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Alabama Crimson Tide 2016 outlook

Alabama Crimson Tide

2015 record: 14-1, 7-1 SEC West

2016 schedule:

Sept. 3 vs USC (Arlington)

Sept. 10 vs Western Kentucky
Sept. 17 at Ole Miss
Sept. 24 vs Kent State
Oct. 1 vs Kentucky
Oct. 8 at Arkansas
Oct. 15 at Tennessee
Oct. 22 vs Texas A&M
Nov. 5 at LSU
Nov. 12 vs Mississippi State
Nov. 19 vs Chattanooga
Nov. 26 vs Auburn

For most teams, losing players like Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake would be big blows in terms of depth, but the reigning national champion Alabama finds ways to reload, year in and year out.

There is no mistake as to how Alabama has won four of the last seven national titles under the leadership of coach Nick Saban especially after its 45-40 win over Clemson's in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game in Glendale, AZ.

The system of turning five-star players into top-tier National Football League prospects are routine for the Crimson Tide and will be highlighted by wide receiver Calvin Ridley and defensive end Jonathan Allen in the upcoming campaign.

Players To Watch For- Sophomore wide receiver Calvin Ridley:

Perhaps Ridley could become a potential Heisman Trophy candidate if he can duplicate or even top last season's statistics.

Ridley set the Alabama single-season freshman record in the yards category with 1,045 and finished with team highs in catches (89) and yards (1,045) in 15 games.

Senior defensive end Jonathan Allen:

A versatile player who can play multiple positions on the defensive line, Allen proved to be a vital part of last season's championship with a team-high 14.5 tackles for a loss.

Allen was also named to the All-SEC First Team defense by the coaches and the Associated Press in 2015 after finishing second in the conference with 12.0 sacks.

Key Game- Nov. 5 at LSU:

Over the last decade, the Alabama/LSU series has become must-watch television due to one or both teams being national championship contenders and the common thread of Nick Saban coaching and leading both teams (Alabama 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015) and LSU (2003) to BCS/College Football Playoff titles.

The Crimson Tide have won five straight games in the series, highlighted by a 30-16 win in the last meeting on Nov. 7, 2015 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL.

An argument can be made that Saban's recent dominance almost led to the firing of LSU coach Les Miles last November.

Outside of the LSU game, Alabama opens its season in Arlington, TX for the second straight season with USC as the opponent and rivalry games against Tennessee and Auburn highlight the 2016 slate.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.