The UGA spring game is today at 1PM on CSS.  It marks the official end of spring practice for the Bulldogs.  One looming question is how will Hutson Mason fare.  Mason took over for the most accomplished quarter back in the history of the SEC in Aaron Murray after Murray went down with a UGA career-ending ACL tear in the UK game in late November of last year.  Mason went on to a nice performance to finish the game, and then started his first game in Georgia's last regular season matchup against in-state rival GA Tech.  Mason led a brilliant comeback for the Dawgs including passing for almost 300 yards and 2 TDs.  

In Mason's short stint at QB in late from the Kentucky game on, he threw for 968 yards with a 60.9% completion percentage.  Mason threw 5 touchdowns but also 3 interceptions.  Highs and lows and inconsistency are all words associated with Hutson Mason late last year.  One of his all time lows was a somewhat mediocre performance in a heartbreaking loss against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl.  


Mason Was A Record Setting QB at Lassiter High in Marietta, GA

Mason is a good quarter back who makes good decisions (most of the time) and seems to have a "clutch" factor.  Hutson's weaknesses are this: erradic throwing at times and his footwork.  Other questions remain.  Can he throw the deep-ball well? Can he be the guy to take Georgia to the "Promised Land?" He won't have be relied on to be the hero every down.  He just needs to effectively feed it to Gurley and hit his big-play receivers. Head Coach Mark Richt elaborated on this fact in his interview with me a few weeks ago, 

"His (Mason's) job is not going to be to try to be the hero every down; he has just got to get the ball to the skill players.  He can certainly throw it deep as well as short.  We'll continue to air it out down the field..."

Mason was a record-setting quarter back in high school in Marietta, GA.  He came to Georgia and sat the bench and learned behind one of the all-time greats in Aaron Murray.  Now is his chance to fulfill his dream of leading the Bulldogs.  By all indications, he has looked excellent so far this spring.  However, The G-Day game will provide a better atmosphere to further impress and further showcase what he is truly capable of doing.    



Note: Photo via Bulldawg Illustrated

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There is only a little over a week left before Georgia's annual spring game.  One of the biggest offseason moves is J.J. Green's position change from RB to DB.  A notable reason for this transition is the great depth in the RB corps headlined by Heisman contender Todd Gurley, speedster Keith Marshall, hard-nosed, physical Sophomore Brendan Douglas, and two incoming blue chip prospects in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.  Stacked is an understatement.

Another glaring reason for this change is the struggle of the UGA secondary last season.  The Bulldogs ranked 67th in the nation in passing defense, allowing an average of 232.8 yards per game.  Georgia only had 6 interceptions on the year - one of the worst totals in the nation.  The secondary was truly the weakest link in the mediocre, inexperienced defense of 2013.  Also with the possible suspension of FS Tray Matthews and the dismissal of SS Josh Harvey-Clemons, the secondary is wide open.  

Fast forward to 2014.  Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham leaves for the defensive coaching job at Louisville.  Then Mark Richt and UGA made one of the biggest offseason headlines in hiring former FSU and BCS Championship-winning defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  Coming into spring ball, Pruitt made known that every job was up for grabs, and he was going to have a fresh look at all the Bulldog defenders.  Pruitt believes in playing more athletic and quick defenders rather than merely big guys like the Georgia defense has seen in the last few years.  That's a good thing if you're J.J. Green.  

J.J. Green is a great athlete and one of the fastest players at Georgia.  He has a nose for the ball and should thrive at defensive back in Pruitt's new system.  Green looks more like a corner or safety than a RB.  After all, he played DB at Camden County High School two years ago.  

J.J. Green at DB in high school delivers a huge hit 


Green has already impressed coaches during the various spring scrimmages in the last month.  He registered a team high of 7 tackles including 1 sack at CB during the Dawgs' first spring scrimmage.  He was interviewed afterwards by the Athens Banner-Herald, and this is what he had to say.  


Georgia needs talented players in the secondary, especially while dealing with youth and suspensions.  Green has the athletic ability and the skills to contribute to the Bulldogs' secondary.  Look for J.J. Green to make a statement in the Georgia G-Day spring game and create momentum heading into the fall.  Under the coaching of Pruitt, the sky is the limit for what this guy can do.  

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Top 5 QB Prospects in 2014 NFL Draft

The draft class of 2014 promises some franchise altering QBs to build a team around.  There are many good quarterbacks in this year's draft, but here is my top 5 prospects.

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1.  QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M                 6-1, 210lbs.


Johnny Football is one of the most controversial figures in sports today.  Some NFL scouts doubt him. They think he's too short to be able to be an effective signal-caller in the League.  Some wonder whether Johnny can effectively throw from the pocket and not get hurt in the rugged NFL.  Some even question his character because of some of the off-the-field incidents he has had.  All I have to say is, "Who cares?" This guy can play.  

Manziel has been one of the most sensational college quarterbacks in his time at Texas A&M.  In his Freshman season in College Station, TX, Manziel burst onto the national scene with a remarkable season including passing for 3,706 yards and 26 TDs, upsetting the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, AL, and winning the Heisman.  

In 2013, Manziel had arguably an even better season at QB.  He threw for 4,114 yards, 37 TDs, with 13 INTs.  Manziel has a extremely powerful arm, can make all the throws, and is the ultimate weapon tucking the ball and running it.  Johnny has uncanny escapability and just makes plays.  His intangibles are through the roof.  He is the perfect guy to build an NFL franchise around.  I would not hesitate to take him #1 overall.  This dude is special.  


2. QB Blake Bortles, UCF                             6-4, 230 lbs.


UCF had an awesome season last year.  George O'Leary's under-the-radar Central Florida squad won 13 games in 2013-14 including a clutch performance in an upset of #8 Louisville and an exciting shootout win over Baylor.  The main reason for the amazing success of the Knights was the arm of QB Blake Bortles.  Bortles has been one of most overlooked passers in college.  Over his career, he has thrown for 7,598 yards for 56 touchdowns, and only 19 interceptions.  Bortles is not afraid to run the ball as well and is a mobile pocket-passer similar in that respect to Aaron Rogers of Green Bay.  He is a solid QB who will help an NFL franchise get W's.  


3.  QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville                6-2, 214 lbs. 

Bridgewater has had a splendid career at Louisville.  From his burst onto to the national scene with an upset blowout of Florida in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, to a solid 2013 season as the shot-caller for the Cardinals, Bridgewater has made a strong case for being the top QB taken in the draft.  

In 2013, Bridgewater passed for 3,970 yards for 31 scores and only 4 pics.  The Cardinals were in the running for a BCS Title until experiencing a sad loss to Blake Bortles, Storm Johnson, and the UCF Golden Knights.  The attention shifted to some of the other outstanding QBs in college football such as Manziel, Bortles, and Winston.  However, Bridgewater's last game was a statement game to remember as the tall, lanky pocket-passer destroyed Miami through the air for over 400 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero interceptions in route to a 36-9 domination of the "U."  Bridgewater's strength is his size and his throwing power and precision.  He's another top QB who should bring his talents to a team sorely deserving them.  


4.  QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois             6-3, 222lbs.


To be honest, I haven't seen a live game of Jimmy Garoppolo.  After all he plays at FCS Eastern Illinois.  In spite of not being a well-known college player, this guy is one of the top QB prospects in the NFL Draft.  Garoppolo, originally from Arlington Heights, IL, has put up mind-blowing statistics in his time in the FCS.  He has thrown 13,156 total yards and 118 touchdowns during his illustrious college career culminating in winning the 2013 Walter Payton Award given to the most outstanding player in Division 1-AA.  Garoppolo has a quick-release, can make all the throws, and throws a pretty deep ball.  He may be from a small college, but his play on the gridiron is big time.  



5.  QB Aaron Murray, Georgia                     6-1, 208 lbs.  


Aaron Murray is the most accomplished quarterback to come through the SEC. The Tampa native finished his illustrious career at Georgia as the career yardage leader, passing yardage leader, passing TDs leader, and passing completions leader in the history of the SEC.  Over his days in Athens, GA, he passed for 13,166 yards for 121 scores.   Murray has obviously put up huge numbers in college but really earned the respect of the college football community in 2013 for his clutch play and tenacity.  He basically carried an injury-ridden Georgia squad and became the one man Mark Richt could depend on to get the job done.  

Murray's strengths are a great arm, the ability to make all the NFL throws, great accuracy, and an outstanding work ethic.  This guy is a great leader, and a guy I would be proud to build my team around.  Some question his height.  I don't think it matters.  I compare him to Drew Brees.  A dangerous play-maker who plays bigger than he really is.  Murray is a classy individual who will see great success on Sundays.

Honorable Mentions: QB AJ McCarron, Alabama and QB Zach Mettenberger, LSU

Note: My rankings are based on the talent of the players not in the exact order I think they will be drafted.

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Top 5 WR Prospects in 2014 NFL Draft


Al Bello/Getty Images

The NFL season is sadly over, but we have the promise of one of the greatest offseason events in sports taking place in a little over a month.  It is the NFL Draft.  This year has seen the rise of a myriad of offensive and defensive juggernauts that have made a profound mark on college football and hope to do so at the next level.  So, I will rank the top 5 draft prospects at multiple positions in the coming weeks ahead.  Today's edition is Wide Receiver.

1.  Sammy Watkins, Clemson     6-1,205lbs.     40-time: 4.43


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Watkins is one of the most dynamic players in the 2014 NFL Draft.  He has the perfect blend of size and speed and also has great hands.  Over his career at Clemson, Watkins has caught 240 passes for 3,391 yards and 27 TDs.  He was somewhat overshadowed by the national media because of other players like FSU's Jameis Winston and Kelvin Benjamin, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, etc.  He sure reminded the public of how truly great he is with an outstanding performance in his last game in college in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State.  Watkins had 16 receptions for 227 yards and 2 TDs in Clemson's 40-35 victory over Urban Meyer's Buckeyes.  When I look at this kid's tape, I see a guy who is extremely fast, elusive, and agile.  He has the ability to take it the distance on any given play.  That's why I see him having great success on Sundays.  


2. Odell Beckham Jr, LSU     6-0,187lbs.     40-time: 4.43

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Odell Beckham Jr. is dangerous.  He is an elite receiver and a dangerous special teams ace.  In 2013, he corralled 59 passes for 1,152 yards and 8 TDs despite sharing much of the receiving load with fellow star-WR Jarvis Landry.  Beckham is also a lethal return man who amassed almost 1,000 yards on kick and punt returns.  He also has great hands.  He is another guy like Watkins that can take it to the end zone on any given play.  His stats may not be as impressive as some of the other high-profile pass-catchers in the NFL Draft, but make no mistake, Beckham is special. 


3.  Brandin Cooks, Oregon State     5-10,186lbs.      40-time: 4.33


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Cooks was probably one of the most underrated receivers in the college ranks.  Cooks is the fastest wide receiver in this year's NFL Draft, has good hands, and just makes things happen.  He was a big part of the Oregon State game plan last season when he amassed 1,730 receiving yards on 128 receptions for 16 TDs.  He recorded the most receiving yards of any other receivers in college football last year.  The only reason he is not higher on this list is because of his smaller frame compared to other big-bodied WRs.  However, I compare him to a Tavon Austin of last year-awesome athlete with insane quickness that you just can't pass up.

4.  Mike Evans, Texas A&M          6-5,225lbs.       40-time: 4.53


Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

If I was an owner of an NFL franchise, I'd want Mike Evans on my team.  He proved time and time again to be an extremely reliable safety net for Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.  Evans has a big frame, and thus appears more like a basketball player than a WR.  Evans had 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 TDs in 2013.  He has great hands and is a very dependable player.  I have seen this dude numerous times on TV and have even seen one of his games in person, and this guy is truly the real deal.  He's not the fastest or flashiest, but he gets the job done.

5.  Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State      6-5,234lbs.     40-time: 4.61


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Although overshadowed by Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jameis Winston and a slew of other talented players around him, Kelvin Benjamin was a major reason for FSU's remarkable championship season in 2013.  He caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 TDs last fall.  Benjamin has a great size and is usually head-and-shoulders above the opposing DBs.  He has solid hands and seems to be in the right place at the right time including a memorable touchdown grab in the last few minutes of regulation to beat Auburn in the BCS Title Game.  He was a major redzone target for Jameis Winston in 2013 and is extremely hard to cover.  

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Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Last week, Coach Mark Richt was gracious enough to sit down with me and be interviewed.  I asked him a series of questions that I find very pertinent to 2014 including talking about Lorenzo Carter, Hutson Mason, championship aspirations, and much more.


Me: Alright, Coach, talk to us about this exciting offseason especially with the hiring of Coach Pruitt and the staff he brought in and how Georgia was able to haul in another top recruiting class despite coaching uncertainties.

CMR: Well, you know there's almost always going to be some kind of change in your staff at the collegiate level. It is just kind of part of the business. We love it when our coaches stay, but there are times when guys get opportunities, and we're happy that they get those opportunities, and it gives us a chance to hire new folks you know.  Bringing in Jeremy Pruitt, Kevin Sherrer, Tracy Rocker, along with a guy named Mike Ekeler, that's the defensive staff for us right now led by Coach Pruitt.  It's a great group.  It's not very often that you get to bring a whole side of the ball in together at one time, other than when you are a brand new head coach.  Bringing in all these coaches together, they're all excited to be at Georgia and ready to get after it. 

Me: I know you had a great recruiting class in the class of 2014, and a notable guy among those signees is 5-star defender Lorenzo Carter.  He played DE in high school.  Will he switch to OLB in the 3-4 system, and what kind of impact can he have now and in the future at Georgia?

CMR: Well, one thing he does naturally is rush the passer, so we need to put him in a position to do so because that is his main strength right now.  But in the meantime, we got to continue to get him bigger and stronger and able to play the run at the SEC level, and that does not happen overnight.  We understand that as far as his technique and growing in his size, strength, and knowledge of the game.  Those are the things we'll be working on, but we think he can make an impact for us as a freshman, and we'll give him that shot.

Me: Although UGA returns a lot of talent particularly on the offensive side of the ball, they do lose veteran players on the O-line, have to transition over from the Murray-era at QB, and have concerns on the defensive side of the ball especially in the secondary.  What do you think could be Georgia's biggest weakness in 2014?

CMR: Well, you know it's hard to tell.  There are a lot of times when a certain spot is earmarked, so to speak, or everybody points to the certain group as the weak part of the team.  A lot of times if they're saying that all offseason, those guys are the guys that are working the hardest to prove they are not the weak link.  It's very difficult to say.  I remember a couple of years ago when our offensive line was supposed to be awful, and they actually weren't very good in the spring.  However, by the time the season rolled around, we (the O-line) were breaking school records and doing some big things on offense because of how they grew.  Right now, it's hard to really say what is going to happen.

Me: Similarly to that, what do you think will be Georgia's biggest strength this fall?

CMR: I think the biggest strength is going to be the unity of our staff, the unity of our football team, how hard we are going to work, and how much we are going to believe in each other.  I think that's going to be our strength. 

Yours Truly With Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt

Me: Coach Richt, Hutson Mason had his highs and lows at the end of last season from the blowout of Kentucky, and the clutch comeback and great win over archrival Georgia Tech, to a somewhat disappointing performance in the Gator Bowl against a kind of mediocre Nebraska squad.  Can we believe they're will be no major drop-off at QB after Murray's graduation? Also, does Mason have a strong enough arm to air it out and spread the field, or will we continue to see little dinks and dunks?

CMR: Well, he's a very talented guy. I mean it's hard to replace a 4-year starter obviously.  Murray was the most prolific passer in the history of the Southeastern Conference, so it's hard to say there won't be a drop-off, but I think it was a very valuable experience for Hutson to get to play last year and get that first start under his belt.  He understands what it feels like to be the #1 guy, so that won't be a first time experience when we play Clemson.  I think it's going to only help him.  His job is not going to be to try to be the hero every down; he has just got to get the ball to the skill players.  He can certainly throw it deep as well as short.  We'll continue to air it out down the field a little bit. 

Me: Could there be any competition for the starting job (at QB) from Bryce Ramsey, early-enrollee Jacob Park, or even Faton Bauta?

CMR: We're always going to give them the opportunity to get reps, and if one guy stands out above the rest at any position, he'll be the starter.  I think it will be very difficult for one of those guys to knock him out of the box, but we certainly are always competing.  Those guys are competing not only for this season but for the season after, or if Hutson is the starter, we all know people get banged up and all of a sudden you got to jump in there and be ready to go.  These guys got a lot to learn in a short amount of time.

Me: Going back to the defensive side of the ball, how much will the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt impact the defensive performance this fall?

CMR: Well, that's what we're going to find out, isn't it?

Me: What will it take this year for the Dawgs to win an SEC and National Championship?

CMR: Well, I just think we got to win the close ones.  We lost 5 games, and we probably had 3 or 4 of them went down to the wire.  Actually, some of our victories came down to the wire.  I think we had 8 games that came down to the last series or last play of the game.  You've got to be prepared to win the close games, and you win those games by doing the little things right in all areas-special teams, offense, and defense obviously.  One little assignment on one play can make the difference in the game.  We just got to pay attention to every little detail and make sure we are taking care of business on a daily basis as we prepare.

Me: Alright finally, Coach, this is where it gets really serious.  What is your favorite pre-game meal on gameday?

CMR: My favorite pre-game meal? Man, I don't eat much before the game.  I eat a lot after the game, but I don't eat much before the game. 

Me: Haha, I understand. Thanks, Coach!


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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Should college football players be paid? This question has been hanging over the heads of every person involved in major college football.  In the past, coaches and others have brought up this controversial issue.  This problem has recently been brought back to the spotlight because of several Northwestern players forming a player union and the recent comments of probably the top pick in the NFL Draft, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.  In an interview with Jim Rome of Jim Rome on Showtime, Clowney talked about this issue and how it affected him:

"Yes. Having to take care of my family, it would have made a huge difference if I'd have gotten paid.  If I would have had the chance to take care of my family through college, I would have probably stayed in college."

Clowney brings up a good point.  Many college athletes would arguably stay at their respective schools if they were paid.  There is always that person out there that says, "Aw, they're just being selfish," or "It's enough just to go to college."  They are partly correct.  Education is a privilege in and of itself, but you need to put yourself in their shoes.  

For many college players, football is their escape from their dangerous and poor communities.  Their ultimate goal is the NFL.  They want to make enough money to support their impoverished families back home and get them in a better situation.  Can you blame them? That is exactly what I would do if I were placed in that circumstance.  

Furthermore, let's not be naive.  Most of these kids are not just playing for a love of the game; they want to make money.  Money drives college athletics.  Boosters donate money, teams win games, ticket sales increase, and TV channels want to show more games.  What does this equal? More money.  

That's exactly why we've seen a rise in underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft.  It's a dog-eat-dog world, and players understand that.  There is only so long a player can take the beatings of football, and players want as much time to make as much money as possible.  

A close-to-home example for me is the early departure of Jarvis Jones from Georgia.  Jones had a great college career, winning All-American honors as a linebacker.  He truly loved the college life, but Jones, like many other college athletes, had other things on his mind.  A little over a year ago, Jones sat down with Seth Emerson and had this to say,

"It is a tough decision. I mean I've got a bunch of teammates, man, that look up to me, and I lead everyday day.  I've got a family that I want to support and a mother I just want to give a reward to.  My nieces and nephews, the people back in Columbus that support me the most, and the Bulldog Nation, as well, I know they don't want to see me go.  I wish this could be my NFL career and play how long I want to in college, just be here every day.  That'll be fine and just be around these guys all the time."


Jarvis Jones was arguably one of the best defenders in college football during his career at UGA.

The college atmosphere is like no other, but these athletes have other things on their minds.  Pay-for-play is a controversial issue that needs to be addressed.  Other complications will arise such as the question, "Will it be unfair for certain small colleges that do not have as many resources as big name colleges to pay these athletes?" I support having the NCAA being in control of this area.  Now don't get me wrong.  I think the NCAA is flawed, and I disaprove of this institution more than anybody, but until we can get a better system in place, this is our best bet.  

Overall, Jadeveon Clowney, Jarvis Jones, and a myriad of other college athletes have brought this issue to further light.  CFB pay-for-play is a good thing and should influence athletes to stay in college longer.  Some say that it would force colleges to give up too much revenue in paying college players, but it won't matter in the long run.  Having elite players stay in the college ranks will equal more money for every college football program.  After all, money is what matters in the college football world of today.  


Check out the full Jim Rome interview of Jadeveon Clowney here

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Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2012/12/15/2286236/jarvis-jones-wishes-he-could-stay.html#storylink="It is a tough decision," Jones said after Friday's practice. "I mean I've got a bunch of teammates, man, that look up to me and I lead every day. I've got a family that I want to support and a mother I just want to give reward to. My nieces and my nephews. And the people back in Columbus that support me the most. And the Bulldog Nation, as well. I know they don't want to see me go.  I wish this could be my NFL career and play how long I want to in college, just to be here every day," he said. "That'll be fine. And just be around these guys all the time.


Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Marshawn Lynch, better known as "Beast Mode," has sparked quite a bit of controversy this week.  The Seahawks' star RB has refused to speak to the press at Super Bowl Media Day.  Various commentators and people in the media have criticized Lynch, saying that he should be forced to talk and that it is his duty to speak for the betterment of the league.  Excuse me! I don't think the NFL needs any help boosting its brand.  Lynch is being castigated by the public for his silence at Super Bowl Media Day.  Get over it, people! His play on the field speaks for itself.

Marshawn Lynch is a true superstar.  This is his seventh season in the National Football League after being drafted in 2007 by the Buffalo Bills from the University of California.  He was later traded to the Seahawks in 2010.  Lynch has amassed 7,389 yards and 58 TDs with a 4.2 yard average over his career.  This season Lynch has had another incredible year, rushing for 1,257 yards and 12 scores.  He is one of the best RBs in the NFL today.  Marshawn Lynch has had a stellar season and that is one major reason why his Seahawks are in Super Bowl XLVIII.  

At Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday, many reporters swamped Lynch, but he refused to say much.  He was blasted and chastised by many members of the media and public for his actions.  I find it simply hypocritical and laughable.  Look at NBA head coach Gregg Popovich.  He hates talking to reporters and is virtually silent when being interviewed by the media.  The public praises Popovich for not saying much but concentrating on winning.  That's exactly what Lynch does, yet he gets reprimanded.  


Gregg Popovich is one of the top head coaches in the NBA.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Above all, who cares whether or not Lynch speaks to the media.  This guy's play speaks for itself.  Marshawn knows he will be playing in the biggest game in American sports.  As the old adage says, "Actions speak louder than words."  Please don't let us change you, Marshawn.  Your concentration and determination might just get you a ring.

Follow my new twitter handle: @legitjaydawg for more on Jay Dawg and the world of sports.

PS: My Super Bowl 48 Prediction will be announced on Saturday on my twitter account.  

Super Bowl XLVIII Preview

 

After an awesome NFL regular season and playoff matchups, it's finally Super Week.  Sunday night in the frigid Meadowlands of New Jersey will host the biggest game of the year in American sports.  This game will feature one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning against the NFL's #1 defense in the Seattle Seahawks.  No matter what happens, the world will be watching on Sunday night.

Super Bowl XLVIII-Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Where: MetLife Stadium-East Rutherford, NJ

When: Sunday at 6:30 PM EST

TV: FOX

Impact Players

Seahawks-RB Marshawn Lynch


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Seahawks-CB Richard Sherman


Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Seahawks-QB Russell Wilson


Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Broncos-QB Peyton Manning


Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Broncos-WR Demaryius Thomas


Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Broncos-WR Eric Decker


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Preview: Why is the Super Bowl being played in freezing New York? Dear Roger Goodell, can we please play the Super Bowl in Miami? Anyway, the 2014 edition of the quest for the Lombardi Trophy will feature the best offense in the NFL led by record-breaking QB Peyton Manning against the best defense in the NFL led by CB Richard Sherman and the infamous "Legion of Boom." Let's take a look at each team.

The Seattle Seahawks are led by a stout, physical defense and a strong rushing attack.  RB Marshawn Lynch, a.k.a. "Beast Mode," is one of the best backs in the NFL with 1,257 yards on the ground and 12 TDs.  I love the way this guy runs and powers his way for extra yardage.  He might even play a bigger role than previously forseen if unfortunate weather conditions at MetLife alter what the offenses can do.  Don't overlook the man at the quarterback position though.  Young Russell Wilson has quietly emerged as one of the top players at his position in the NFL.  Wilson has passed for 3,357 yards, 22 TDs, and only 6 interceptions.  

The defensive side of the ball is Seattle's biggest strength.  The Seahawks are only giving up an average of a league-best 14.4 points per game and only 273.6 yards per game.  They also boast the best pass defense in the NFL.  The Seahawks defense unit is filled with playmakers like CB Richard Sherman, FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor, and LB Bobby Wagner.  This defense is truly dominant.  

On the opposite sideline, future hall-of-famer Peyton Manning is the face of the his Denver Bronco franchise and has led them to be the #1 offense in America in 2013.  He has thrown for 5,477 yards, 55 TDs, and 10 interceptions.  He leads the NFL in passing yards during the regular season.  Manning also has multiple weapons surrounding him with guys like WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Eric Decker, TE Julius Thomas, as well as RBs Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball.  

The Broncos are not really known for their defense but had a great showing against the New England Patriots in the AFC Title Game, including giving up only 16 points to Tom Brady and the Pats.  The Denver defense is led by LB Danny Trevathan, who has 128 total tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions in 2013.  

Overall, this game comes down to the Denver offense vs. the Seattle defense.  Can the Seahawks put pressure on Peyton Manning?  The Patriots failed to do this two weeks ago, and we can see the result.  Can the Seahawks' secondary be able to cover all the dangerous weapons of Denver? 

Another key factor in this game might unfortunately be the bad weather conditions at MetLife.  Throwing on Sunday night could prove very difficult.  Therefore, the success of these two teams' running games will be of paramount importance.  Marshawn Lynch is a beast, but Moreno and Ball can play too.  

If the Seahawks win, their defense will go down as one of the NFL's greatest ever to win a title.  If the Broncos win, Peyton Manning will further cement his legacy as arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.  Bundle up for another cold week and weekend in the best country in the world, the USA, and enjoy what should be another classic quest for the Lombardi Trophy.


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Monday night will mark the final game of the BCS era.  It's the 2014 BCS Title Game in Pasadena.  The SEC can win remarkably its 8th-straight crystal football as #2 Auburn takes on the top ranked Florida State Seminoles.  Heisman Winner Jameis Winston and his powerhouse 'Noles will have something to say about that before the night is over.

2014 Vizio BCS National Championship-#1 Florida State (13-0) vs. #2 Auburn (12-1)

Location: Pasadena, CA

Date and Time: January 6 at 8:30PM ET

TV: ESPN

Impact Players

Florida State-QB Jameis Winston

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Florida State-WR Rashad Greene


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Florida State-SS Lamarcus Joyner


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Auburn-RB Tre Mason


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Auburn-QB Nick Marshall


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Auburn-DE Dee Ford


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Preview: Florida State has been dominant thus far, to say the least.  From the emergence of Heisman-winning Freshman QB Jameis Winston, to future NFL receivers, to the top defense in America, Florida State looks like the best all-around team this year.  The Seminoles will take on the #2 Auburn Tigers led by an insane and virtually unstoppable rushing attack thanks to Gus Malzahn.  We will finally be the last game of the BCS-era.  Can the Tigers upset the 'Noles and keep the SEC title streak alive?  We'll see.

Jimbo Fisher has done a great job in Tallahassee.  He is a great recruiter.  One guy he got to sign the dotted line is superstar QB Jameis Winston.  Winston has passed for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns.  He has been the main reason for the rise of the Seminoles this season. 

FSU has a underrated running back in Devonta Freeman who has rushed for 943 yards and 13 scores.  Don't count out RBs Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr. either.  The Seminoles have a deep receiving corps which is arguably the best in the nation.  This group of pass-catchers is led by Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin, and Kenny Shaw who have almost 1,000 receiving yards each.  TE Nick O'Leary is also a weapon to watch for.  

On the defensive side of the ball, the 'Noles have dominated pretty much every team they have faced including holding Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and the lethal scoring offense of #12 Clemson to only 14 points.  FSU has a great defensive line and feature All-American CB Lamarcus Joyner in the secondary.  Florida State is loaded with talent.  They even have an All-American kicker in Roberto Aguayo.  FSU is truly a powerhouse.

One team that has the ability to give opponents fits is #2 Auburn.  Just think, The Tigers won 3 games in 2012, fired Gene Chizik, hired Gus Malzahn, have won 12 games this year, and will play for a BCS title.  Yes, Auburn has had some breaks, but championship teams do.  

The strength of the Auburn Tigers is their offense led by a great offensive line and a powerful and dangerous running attack.   The Auburn running game is led by Junior RB Tre Mason who was a Heisman candidate this season while rushing for the 9th-best rushing total in America with 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns.  Also never count out 600+ yard rushers in Junior RB Corey Grant and JUCO transfer Cameron Artis-Payne.  They have contributed to the Tigers boasting the top rushing attack in the nation.  

One of the top reasons for the revival on the Plains has been Nick Marshall.  This dual-threat QB is the 2nd-leading rusher for Auburn with over 1,000 yards.  This kid is dangerous as he has the ability to take it the distance on any given play.  Marshall is also an underrated passer, but why pass when you have insane success on the ground.  Nick Marshall has passed for 1,759 yards and 12 TDs.  

The receiving corps is led by WR Sammy Coates followed by Ricardo Louis who is most famous for the "Prayer at Jordan Hare" catch against Georgia.  TE C.J. Uzomah is also a player to watch.  Auburn's offense is very simple, yet so hard to stop.  

Auburn's defense is not nearly so dominant, but you can never overlook DE Carl Lawson, LB Cassanova McKinzy, CB Chris Davis (sorry, Alabama), and a great pass-rusher in DE Dee Ford.  

Overall, can anyone beat FSU?  I don't know, but Auburn has one of the best chances of any team in America.  For the Tigers to pull off the upset of #1 Florida State, they have to manage the clock effectively behind their rushing attack and keep Famous Jameis and the FSU offense on the sideline.  Good luck with that.  Can Auburn keep the SEC title streak alive?  We will find out soon because it all comes down to Monday night in Pasadena.  



Rose Bowl Preview


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Happy Early New Year, everybody!  While the first day of January features many top bowl games, none is better than the "Granddaddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl.

2014 Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio-#5 Stanford (11-2) vs. #4 Michigan State (12-1)

Location: Pasadena, CA

Date and Time: January 1 at 5PM 

TV: ESPN

Impact Players

Stanford-RB Tyler Gaffney


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Stanford-WR Ty Montgomery


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Stanford-LB Shayne Skov


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Michigan State-RB Jeremy Langford

 


Michigan State-CB Darqueze Dennard


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Michigan State-QB Connor Cook


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Preview: It's Stanford and Michigan State in Pasadena.  It's one of the most intriguing matchups of bowl season.  These two teams are led by great running games and physical defenses.   

The Stanford Cardinal have had a great season under one of the top coaches in college football, David Shaw.  Shaw has turned a school mostly known as an academic institute into a football powerhouse even after the Harbaugh-Luck era.  The Cardinal offense is headlined by Senior RB Tyler Gaffney who has rushed for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns.  

Gaffney has powered his way for the 8th best rushing total in the nation.  QB Kevin Hogan has shown signs of brilliance but has been inconsistent.  Hogan has passed for 2,478 yards and 20 touchdowns but has also thrown 9 picks.  The receiving corps of Stanford is led by Ty Montgomery who has caught 58 passes for 937 yards and 10 scores.  

The physical, SEC-style defense of Stanford is led by a Butkus Award Finalist in LB Shayne Skov who has helped them attain the #10 defense in America.  The Stanford "D" is only allowing an average of 18.6 points per game which is 10th best in the nation.

On the opposite sideline, Mark Dantonio has done a fine head coaching job of his own in East Lansing, Michigan.  The Spartans annually boast a top defense.  This year, the Spartans have the 4th-best defense in college football.  One of the key storylines in this game for the Michigan State Spartans is the suspension of LB Max Bullough in this game.  Thankfully, Michigan State has a lot of other talent around him headlined by All-American CB Darqueze Dennard who has 59 total tackles and 4 interceptions. 

The Sparty offense is led by underrated RB Jeremy Langford who has amassed 1,338 yards and 17 scores.  QB Connor Cook has improved throughout the season while passing for over 2,400 yards and 20 TDs.  The Spartan receiving corps is led by pass-catchers Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, and Macgarrett Kings Jr.  

Overall, look for this game to be a tight and physical game with both teams establishing their run games against these smothering defenses.  It's gonna be a great one in Pasadena as it always is.