Week 3 Tiered Rankings

Tiered rankings after Week 3 don’t technically reflect my personal opinion. Pretty much all of Tier 2, for me, are teams that may not be as legit as their early records show. LSU’s offense is still a mess. Notre Dame has been extremely hit or miss. Penn State has had some huge second halves that disguise some uneven performances. But all have a ton of upside, too.

Tier 1: Legit: These guys are playoff contenders until they give us reason to believe otherwise.
(5) Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma

Tier 2: Trending Up: These guys are making their move, but still have more to prove.
(6) LSU, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State, UCF

Tier 3: Hanging On: These guys are in the mix, but on the periphery.
(13) Auburn, BC, Iowa, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Stanford, TCU, USF, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Tier 4: Resume Builders: These guys represent nice wins for the opposition, but have no real shot.
(19) Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, Colorado, Duke, Fresno State, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan State, Missouri, Memphis, NC State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Utah, Vandy

Week 3 ACC picks with Ryan Janvion

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Our guest picker this week is the great Ryan Janvion, who starred at safety for Wake Forest for four years from 2013 through 2016, finishing his career with 328 tackles. These days, Janvion is a real estate broker in Boston, where he also serves as a consultant for a global education company that helps high school teachers develop educational travel programs for students. And, of course, he’s one of the Hall of Fame good interviews in recent ACC history. We talked with Ryan about this week’s showdown between Wake and BC.

Q. What’s it like, having been through the really lean years, to see where Wake is right now?

A. It’s incredible. You look, for me, literally coming in for the downfall, and having to live through going 3-9 back to back, I was fortunate to at least go to a bowl game. To look now and see my team on Saturday, and I know all the work they put in, I can know I had an impact on bringing the program back to where now we’re a challenger in the ACC.

Q. I’m not sure how much of the Clemson-A&M game you watched last week, but what do you think of the job your former DC, Mike Elko, is doing for the Aggies?

A. He’s the best coach I’ve ever had, and he’s probably the best coordinator in college football right now. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s done an incredible job. He did great at Notre Dame, and I think he’s going to do amazing things at Texas A&M. The defense he runs is pretty technical, so it takes a little time to master it. But when they get it, they’ll be a top defense, for sure.

Q. You live in Boston now, so I’m guessing you’ve seen a little of Boston College. What do you think of the matchup this week?

A. They’re definitely very improved. They’ve got probably one of the best running backs in college football in A.J. Dillon. He’s playing with confidence, and BC is known for just ground and pound. They’re hitting their stride. They’ve looked great the first two weeks. This will be their first test, and it’s going to be a tough game. People would’ve looked at this game a few years ago and said that it’s not a great game. But now, with these two programs that have done a great job of improving, it’s going to be a great matchup.

Q. As a defender, what’s it like trying to tackle a guy the size of A.J. Dillon?

A. What makes him different is he has a very low center of gravity. Some of the guys that are big, they run fairly high, so it can be easy to tackle them. With him, he continues to drive his legs after contact and he does so well at dropping his weight, which makes him so hard to bring down. And he’s got great speed, so he’s not just a ground and pound back. He can separate from defenders. And if you add that to the offensive line they have at BC, they play nasty football. They pin their ears back and play downhill football. Obviously the key to Wake Forest being able to win is being able to stop that run game and make them rely on the pass game.

Q. You played with John Wolford when he was thrown into the fire as a true freshman QB at Wake. Sam Hartman is doing that now. What do you think of how he’s handled himself?

A. He’s done good. I’ve talked to a few guys on the team and they’ve had nothing but good things to say. They say he’s thrown the best balls throughout camp and he’s been playing confident. The difference between him and John, John didn’t have a lot of weapons around him. Sam is able to step into an established, winning culture with guys making plays around him. You’ve got Greg Dortch, Alex Bachman, Cade Carney and Matt Colburn and Phil Haynes. I think Sam’s going to do a great job. Making those decisions on when to make a play or throw the ball away, that’ll come with time. But he’s a good QB, throws good balls, and for the most part, he’s making good decisions.

Q. OK, decision time: What’s your prediction for the game?

A. Personally, I’m predicting Wake Forest to win, but I think it’s going to be a high scoring game. I think I’m going 36-32 Wake Forest.

Last week’s picks:
Hale – 11-3
Andrea – 10-4
Jared Shanker – 10-4

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Burt Reynolds love affair with sports

Got assigned this story over the weekend and wasn’t quite sure where to start. Burt Reynolds spent a lifetime around sports, even though he hadn’t played since a knee injury in his college years at Florida State. He loved FSU football. He loved his former teammates, including our own Lee Corso. And he loved being around competitors. So, I just started making some calls and asking for folks’ favorite stories about Burt. They didn’t disappoint.

And, I must say, the highlight of all this is the Harry Gant footnote.

Enjoy… Burt Reynolds & Sports.

College Football Week 2 tiered rankings

Rankings are dumb. There’s an inherent significance put on a “top 25” team when, in reality, the margin between team No. 22 and team No. 28 is effectively zero.

Similarly, rankings suggest some level of certainty that team No. 3 is better than team No. 4, when in fact we have no real evidence of that at the moment.

So instead, the smartest way to order teams this time of year is in tiers. There are some teams that we’re pretty confident are great. There are some that look just a tick behind that. There are some that are pretty good but with lots more to prove. And there are some that are solid opponents, and certainly not pushovers, but also aren’t at all likely to make a run at the playoff.

So that’s how we’re setting this up. Here’s how it looks after Week 2.

TIER ONE: Elite (Teams that are on track for the playoff)

(6) Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, Wisconsin

TIER TWO: Pretty, pretty good (Teams that have playoff ability, but not quite there yet)

(4) Mississippi State, Auburn, Boise State, Washington

TIER THREE: On the margins (Teams in the conversation but with lots of work to do)

(13) Notre Dame, LSU, TCU, Stanford, Penn State, Oregon, UCF, BC, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Houston, Oklahoma State

TIER FOUR: Quality win for top 3 tiers (Teams that a win against them are legit resume boosters)

(18) Utah, A&M, Michigan, Ole Miss, Florida, Michigan State, Arizona State, South Carolina, Iowa, USC, Colorado, Duke, USF, Wake, NC State, Kentucky, Maryland, FAU

Week 2 ACC picks with Jared Shanker

OK, so the podcast plan didn’t quite work out. But we’ll never forget that one, glorious episode. Still, we’re going to keep making picks, break down the biggest game of the week and find a “celebrity” (and we use that term VERY loosely) guest each week. So, without further ado, let’s get to Week 2.

HALE: This week’s guest picker is our former ESPN/ACC colleague and Penn State alum, Mr. Jared Shanker.

Jared, your boys looked like crap in Week 1. What happened?

SHANKER: At least they didn’t lose to a team without a coach (looking at you, Texas). But it’s hard to place the blame on that PSU performance anywhere but the administration for tempting fates and hosting App State on the 11th anniversary of the Michigan upset. People forget App State is undefeated against Big Ten squads in Sept. 1 home openers (this is not fact-checked)

But really, I’m not surprised at what happened as I do think PSU takes a small step back, and App State is generally among the better G5 schools. It’s an interesting year for James Franklin because the talk I’ve had with coaches previously is Franklin is an ace recruiter and motivator and a great coach in his own right, but he’s not the elite Xs and Os guy. Which is fine in college when you have great assistants, but then how much does losing Joe Moorehead hurt?

HALE: So Jared, who do you think Penn State’s offense misses more: Barkley or Moorhead?

And Andrea, you’re going with Pitt. What has you picking the upset?

SHAKER: On Saturday: Barkley. He was one of five or so non-QBs last year who single handily changed games. As the year goes on, however, it’s Moorhead, because they’ll have some talent deficits vs. opponents.

ANDREA: Why Pitt? 1. Penn State looked fairly terrible against Appalachian State.

2. OK maybe the Nittany Lions were overlooking App State a little, but everybody on the Penn State side has made it clear they view Pitt as “just another game and “not a rival.” Sure, Jan.

3. Kenny Pickett is going to have a great game.

4. The Pitt D is much improved.

5. I was at the game in 2016, one of the best I have covered, and playing in Pittsburgh was a huge home-field advantage. I have never seen the tailgate lots at Heinz Field the way they were that day, and I anticipate more of the same Saturday. 6. Pat Narduzzi wants this game badly. And he does have this penchant for beating elite ranked teams so …

7. UPSET!

HALE: Dang it, I hate to agree with Andrea, but I think I do. For Penn State, this is a big game before the really big games. For Pitt, this is THE game. And even last year, in a Penn State blowout, it was a game more about Pitt’s failures than the Nittany Lions’ success. And I’m just not sold that Penn State has a clear offensive identity at this point. So upset it is.

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