The day is finally here. I’m not just talking about the debut of the 2017 college football season. I’m talking about the publishing of my own “College Football Spectacular” Preview, which has been a dream of mine since 2004. Seriously. Way back in another life in which I was a corporate salesman, I hated it so much that I was looking for a new career. I had a passion. I knew what that passion was, college football…….and publishing. So I set a goal of one day publishing a college football preview magazine. Now that the “Dutch Lion Sports” website is up and running, the day has finally arrived to unveil (at least in digital format) the “College Football Spectacular”!!!!
Inspired by the Sports Illustrated series of “College and Pro Football Spectacular” preview issues that they pumped out between 1982 and 1986, I’m bringing back this concept. Call it a retro magazine. Call it whatever you like. The Dutch Lion is pumped!
Someday this will become a hard copy printed magazine to be sold on the newsstands right next to Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Street & Smith’s, Athlon’s, Lindy’s, and of course, Phil Steele’s. But for now this will tide us over online. So what’s got you pumped about college football this year? Let’s dive in and find out what the “Dutch Lion” has in store!
Dutch Lion’s Top 25 College Football rankings:
- Georgia – That’s right! Georgia is #1! We’re picking the Georgia Bulldogs to win this year’s National Championship. UGA……Between the Hedges…….I know it’s crazy but you’ll remember this prediction, right or wrong. I’m not just doing this to make noise. I truly believe in what Georgia is doing. I watched A LOT of Georgia tape this Summer and I truly believe in them. Their schedule is easier than you’d think. The biggest obstacles are at Notre Dame in Week 2, Florida in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” in Week 9, at Auburn in Week 11, and of course the SEC West Champion in the SEC Championship, presumably Alabama, on December 2. Phil Steele has them at #22 but acknowledges that they have a “solid opportunity” to get back to the SEC Championship for the first time since 2012. They have the 2nd most experienced team in the SEC (#13 in the nation) and are in Coach Kirby Smart’s 2nd year. I know this is a longshot but trust me. Their recruiting has been outrageous the last couple of years. With Coach Kirby Smart bringing his Alabama style defense to Athens, the Bulldogs will thrive like they have in Tuscaloosa. Uber recruit Jacob Eason enters his Sophomore year at QB. They return both Senior RB’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. They have Uber recruit Isaac Nauta at TE. Over on defense, this swarming unit has 10 returning starters! Now that they’re in the 2nd year of Smart’s system, they should improve dramatically. Georgia will win the National Championship within the next 3 seasons, so why not this year? Go Dawgs! “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah…….!”
- Florida St. – Clemson may not be FSU’s biggest competition in the ACC this year. It might be Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech, or even N.C. State.
- Oklahoma St. – This team is rock solid. Big break with Bob Stoops retiring. The Cowboys should win the Big 12.
- USC – This team will be Pac 12 Champions. Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones, Deontay Burnett on offense. Cameron Smith, Iman Marshall, and Porter Gustin on defense. They are defending Rose Bowl Champions. They beat Pac 12 Champion Washington last year in Seattle. They have a hard schedule but no Washington until maybe the Pac 12 Championship game. Their toughest test might be Stanford in Week 2.
- Alabama – I’ll give the Crimson Tide two losses (at least) this year: the opener vs FSU and the SEC Championship vs Georgia.
- Auburn – How far can new QB Jarrett Stidham and their excellent running game take them? Once again Auburn has a difficult SEC schedule including games at LSU, at Arkansas, and at Texas A&M. Throw in home games vs Georgia and Alabama. Top it off with a non-con at Clemson and we’re looking at plenty of opportunities for the Tigers………but also plenty of potential landmines.
- Notre Dame – ND has talent but is Coach Kelly’s time running out? I’m mad at him because of last year’s disaster in which he admittedly took a year off. Time for a change in South Bend.
- Michigan – Coach Harbaugh has brought in tons of top talent. He’ll take down Urban Meyer for the first time but will probably slip up elsewhere.
- LSU – They’re always good. I think Coach Orgeron might be an excellent choice to succeed Les Miles. Derrius Guice will win a lot of games for the Tigers. Geaux Tigers!
- Washington – The Huskies won the Pac 12 and went all the way to the Playoffs where they lost to Alabama in the Semifinals 24-7. They have to replace a lot of NFL draftees but return plenty of firepower in QB Jake Browning, RB Myles Gaskin, and WR Dante Pettis. On defense, they have DT Vita Vea, LB Azeem Victor, LB Keishawn Bierria, and don’t forget about super Soph safety Taylor Rapp. Overall, the culture that Coach Chris Petersen has installed in Seattle has taken hold. The Huskies are now rolling like they haven’t since the Don James days. Watch out for a long run of success up in the Great Northwest.
- Ohio St. – Hard to tell with this OSU team this year. They lost so much talent to the NFL again, but they keep recruiting replacements. However, their secondary is so inexperienced. Here’s betting it will keep them from winning the Big Ten.
- Stanford – Sleeper!
- Penn St.
- Boise St.
- Wisconsin – They have a really easy schedule (70th in the nation). But are they that good? I like Coach Paul Chryst. I think QB Hornibrook is overrated. Their recent injuries to LB’s must have them worried.
- West Virginia – I love what Dana Holgorsen is building in Morgantown. He’s known for his offense but quietly his defense is building into a solid, respectable unit. In the Big 12, that means something. They can actually stop some of these high-octane offenses built to outscore teams 50-49. WVU only allowed 24.0 ppg last season, which is quite an accomplishment when you’re facing Baylor, Texas Tech, etc. on a weekly basis. They held Baylor to 21. They held Texas Tech to 17. They held Texas to 20, Kansas St. to 16, TCU to 10, Iowa St. to 19, Kansas to 21. They only had two bad defensive performances, allowing 37 at Oklahoma St. and allowing 56 in that horrid, snowy weather at home in November vs Oklahoma. Other than those two games, they had an incredible defensive year, finishing at 10-3. This year they have a new QB in Will Grier but he might be better than last year’s starter Skyler Howard. Howard wasn’t that skilled but boy he had moxie. WVU goes into my Sleeper category too.
- Virginia Tech
- Nebraska! – Sleeper!
- Kansas St. – Sleeper!
- Michigan St.
- Washington St. – Wazzu loves the Palouse! They have 7 home games and 5 road games this year. That’s pretty normal. The strange part is they don’t leave the Palouse until Week 6 when they travel to Oregon. That means 5 of their last 7 are on the road. You know what, I’m starting to wonder why I put the Cougars at #25. Scratch this prediction. I love Mike Leach but looking at their schedule, they’re going 7-5 or 6-6 (I’m not sure they’ll win at Utah). That’s not Top 25 worthy. Scratch the Cougs.
- The REAL #25 – N.C. State – Sleeper!
2017 Playoff Predictions:
- Sugar Bowl: #1 Georgia over #4 USC
- Rose Bowl: #2 Florida St. over #3 Oklahoma St.
2017 National Championship Prediction:
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta): #1 Georgia over #2 Florida St.
Top 5 Most Anticipated Games
- Ohio St. at Michigan in Week 13 (November 25): “The Game” is now in Year 3 of the Second Ten Year War between Urban “Oscar” Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. I expect Harbaugh to get his 1st victory in this series.
- Florida vs Georgia in Week 9 (October 28): The “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” will determine the SEC East Champion.
- Georgia at Notre Dame in Week 2 (September 9): The South invades the North, which is so rare it hurts. Look it up. How many SEC teams travel North…..ever! If they challenged themselves more often, we wouldn’t have such an ‘SEC dominates’ bias in the national media.
- Wisconsin at Nebraska in Week 6 (October 7): Huskers need to start a winning streak over Wisconsin to prove dominance in the B1G West. Last year’s heartbreaking OT loss in Madison was tough to take but I think it gave the program some confidence in what they’re trying to do. And that BS (non) call in OT on the 3rd down pass interference against Jordan Westerkamp? That was complete bogus. We had that game and the Badgers got lucky.
- Penn St. at Ohio St. in Week 9 (October 28): After what happened last year, this one should be fun. It might determine the B1G East crown.
Top 5 Sleepers (Underrated teams)
- Stanford – You know how sometimes teams struggle when they have one superstar? That’s what happened to Stanford last year with RB Christian McCaffrey. We’ve seen this before. 1997-98 Tennessee comes to mind. In ’97 the Vols relied on Peyton Manning so much that they faltered. When they replaced Manning with Tee Martin in ’98, the rest of the team stepped up to account for that major loss. They ended up winning the National Championship. Last year Stanford went 10-3 with crazy upset losses to Washington, Washington St., and Colorado. It seemed like they relied on McCaffrey to do everything. Now that he’s gone, the rest of the Cardinal might step up in his stead. I’m not saying National Champs, but I think they’ll give USC and Washington a run for their money in the Pac 12.
- Kansas St. – Always solid, this year K-State returns a senior QB in “Jami Gertz?” Jesse Ertz. (I know, the nickname isn’t for everybody). Last year they finished with a 4 game winning streak to end up at 9-4. They have 14 returning starters and this might be, could be Coach Bill Snyder’s swan song. KSU = sleeper.
- West Virginia – Sometimes teams get forgotten about by the national media because they don’t have anything “new” to report. Now that Dana Holgorsen is going into his 7th year, the media gets a bit stale on a regime. Quietly, Holgorsen is building his program the proper way. They went 8-5 in ’15, then 10-3 last year. They have one of the best defenses in the Big 12. It all adds up to a Big 12 sleeper team.
- Nebraska – As a huge Huskers fan I’m obviously biased. However, nobody is giving Coach Mike Riley any love. All they talk about is his past and the depleted Huskers recruiting ground, etc. I for one think this team might be pretty good. All the momentum is rolling the right way. The recruiting is picking up. The offense is changing to accommodate the coaches specialty, the pro style passing game. The defense is transitioning to the 3-4 by bringing in new DC Bobby Diaco. I love what’s going on in Lincoln. Phil Steele is picking Neb to finish 3rd in the B1G West behind Northwestern. Oh please! In the words of Kirk Herbstreit, “Never underestimate the power of a program like Nebraska”. I’m with you Kirk. The Huskers might surprise this year with underrated QB Tanner Lee guiding us to victory.
- N.C. State – In the words of Phil, “N.C. State is a surprise contender in the rugged ACC Atlantic division.” I agree. They get Clemson and Louisville at home. Their toughest games are at Florida St. and at Notre Dame. The Wolfpack might finish 3rd or 4th in their division, but they are a solid team with 17 returning starters from a 7-6 squad. Beware of the Wolfpack!
Top 5 Paper Champions (Overrated)
- Tennessee – How are these guys ranked? They were good/not great last season and lost QB Josh Dobbs, RB Jalen Hurd, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Josh Malone, DE Derek Barnett, DE Corey Vereen, etc. from last season’s 9-4 team
- Clemson – I loved your National Championship last year but without QB DeShaun Watson, RB Wayne Gallman, WR Mike Williams, WR Artavis Scott, TE Jordan Leggett, MLB Ben Boulware, DT Carlos Watkins, CB Cordrea Tankersley, S Jadar Johnson, etc. I can’t argue for you guys to be #5 in the rankings. I love respecting teams for what they’ve done but they have no chance at finishing in the top 5 this year.
- Florida – As usual, they are getting hype, but their offense stinks. They will lose AT LEAST 4 games again this year, and probably more.
- Texas – As usual, they are getting hype, but they were only 5-7 last year and now they have a new coach. Tom Herman might be the answer, but first they must figure out what’s been broken since Colt McCoy left after 2009. Please AP voters, don’t rank these guys yet. They stink!
- Northwestern – What is it about Northwestern that makes me nervous? As a Nebraska fan, I’m not nervous about losing to them. I’m nervous FOR them every year the local Chicago media starts hyping them up. This year they return some key pieces from a 7-6 team and therefore the locals are all jacked up. When I look at their schedule, I see a 7-5 record with losses at Duke, at Wisconsin, vs Penn St., vs Michigan St., and at Nebraska……at least! They could blow a game vs Iowa or at Maryland or Minnesota too. Bottom line is Coach Fitzgerald gets a free pass around here. They think he is such a great coach but his career record is 77-62. Sure they have recruiting problems in Evanston. I get it, but you need to do more than your career-best 10-3 record at least once when you’ve been there for 11 years already. If you were so good last year, then you shouldn’t have lost 9-7 to Illinois St……at home. Prove it!
“Dutch Lion’s” Favorite Players
- Washington QB #3 Jake Browning
- USC RB #25 Ronald “RoJo II” Jones
- West Virginia RB #25 Justin “Taco Bell” Crawford
- Georgia RB #1 Sony “Playstation” Michel
- Houston DT #10 Ed Oliver
- Georgia OLB #7 Lorenzo Carter – Is he Leonard Floyd all over again?
- Auburn RB #36 Kamryn Pettway – I love big backs that weigh 237 pounds but run like freight trains. “Bubba” reminds some of the “Brahma Bull” Alley Broussard from LSU.
- Ohio St. OLB #17 Jerome Baker
- Michigan St. RB #3 L.J. Scott – Runs like Lawrence Phillips
- Nebraska RB #18 Tre Bryant
- Illinois WR #18 Mike Dudek – Let’s hope he’s healthy again after tearing his knees up two years in a row.
- Notre Dame MLB #5 Nyles Morgan
- Oregon RB Royce Freeman
- Georgia LB Natrez Patrick
- Washington WR Dante Pettis
Special Shout-Outs to former Stevenson HS stars (many of them on our 2014 Illinois State Champions team) now toiling away at these random schools until they become stars:
- Michigan St. starting FS #10 Matt Morrissey
- Northwestern backup TE/Superback #84 Cameron Green
- Miami (OH) WR #8 Jack Sorenson
- Wheaton College DL #47 Pat O’Connell
- Purdue QB #13 Aidan O’Connell
- Albany DL #54 Nick Dillon
- Wisconsin LB Mike Maskalunas
- Western Michigan RT #75 Zach Novoselsky
- Iowa WR #13 Henry Marchese
- Illinois LB #41 Jimmy Marchese
- Illinois DB #42 Michael Marchese
- Columbia LB #55 Jason Vravick
- Is that all? I’m sure I’m forgetting some guys. Please forgive me.
2017 All-America Team
- QB1/Pocket Passer Jake Browning/Washington/#3/JR/6’2″ 205 – 3430 passing yards, 43 TD, 9 INT, 4 rushing TD
- QB2/Dual Threat Lamar Jackson/Louisville/#8/JR/6’3″ 200 – 3543 passing yards, 30 TD, 9 INT, 1571 rushing yards, 21 rushing TD
- RB Ronald “RoJo II” Jones/USC/#25/JR/6’1″ 195 – 1082 rushing yards, 12 TD
- RB Saquon Barkley/Penn St./#26/JR/5’11” 228 – 1496 rushing yards, 18 TD, 402 receiving yards, 4 TD
- WR James Washington/Oklahoma St./#28/SR/6’0″ 205 – 71 catches, 1380 yards, 10 TD
- WR Dante Pettis/Washington/#8/SR/6’1″ 192 – 53 catches, 822 yards, 15 TD
- TE Mike Gesicki/Penn St./#88/SR/6’6″ 253 – 48 catches, 679 yards, 5 TD
- FB/TE/H-Back Jaylen Samuels/N.C. State/#1/SR/5’11” 223 – 33-189-6-5.7 rushing, 55-565-7 receiving
- OT Mitch Hyatt/Clemson/#75/JR/6’5″ 295
- OT Mike McGlinchey/Notre Dame/#68/SR/6’8″ 312
- OG Cody O’Connell/Washington St./#76/SR/6’8″ 354 – A mountain of a man
- OG Quenton Nelson/Notre Dame/#56/JR/6’5″ 329
- C Frank Ragnow/Arkansas/#72/SR/6’6″ 319
- DE Sam Hubbard/Ohio St./#6/JR/6’5″ 265 – 46 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 4 hurries
- DT Christian Wilkins/Clemson/#42/JR/6’4″ 310 – 56 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 10 PBU, 5 hurries
- DT Vita Vea/Washington/#50/JR/6’5″ 344 – OMG SIZE! 39 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 hurries
- DT Trent Thompson/Georgia/#78/JR/6’4″ 295 – Beast! 56 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 7 hurries
- DE Bradley Chubb/N.C. State/#9/SR/6’4″ 275 – 58 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 7 hurries
- OLB Jerome Baker/Ohio St./#17/JR/6’1″ 225 – 83 tackles, 6 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 INT
- ILB Cameron Smith/USC/#35/JR/6’2″ 245 – 83 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 4 PBU
- ILB Nyles Morgan/Notre Dame/#5/SR/6’1″ 238 – 94 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 sacks, 3 PBU
- OLB Roquan Smith/Georgia/#3/JR/6’1″ 225 – 95 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 PBU, 5 hurries
- CB D.J. Reed/Kansas St./#2/JR/5’9″ 188 – Amazing numbers for a CB! 75 tackles, 16 PBU! 3 INT! 1 hurry.
- CB Aaron Davis/Georgia/#35/SR/6’1″ 189 – Great at run support (54 tackles, 2 INT). Did you see his stuff of Alvin Kamara in last year’s game? Impressive technique.
- SS Minkah Fitzpatrick/Alabama/#29/JR/6’1″ 201 – 66 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 7 PBU, 6 INT!, 4 TD on 8 INT over last 2 years!
- FS Derwin James/Florida St./#3/SO/6’3″ 211 – “Looks the Part” Herbie Award winner. I couldn’t agree more. Only had 2 starts last year prior to injury; 2015 stats: 91 tackles, 5 PBU in 8 starts
- KR Quadree Henderson/Pitt/#10/JR/5’8″ 190 – 30 KR, 914 yards, 30.5 avg, 3 TD, 100 Long
- PR De’Mornay Pierson-El/Nebraska/#15/SR/5’9″ 195 – 23 PR, 168 yards, 7.3 avg, 0 TD last year. Can he regain his pre-injury form from 2014?
- K Daniel Carlson/Auburn/#38/SR/6’4″ 218 – 44-44 PAT, 28-32 FG, 53 Long, 4-7 from 50+, only 1 missed FG out of 25 attempts under 50 yards!
- P Mitch Wishnowsky/Utah/#33/JR/6’2″ 220 – 64 punts, 47.7 avg, 44.6 net avg, 1st Team AA and Ray Guy Award Winner
Best Names in all the Land, AKA “The Chris Blewitt Award” (Blewitt was a kicker who blew 3 PAT’s and missed 7 of 10 FG’s last year for Pitt)
- Arkansas St. DL Dee Liner – is this for real? (His twin brother is named “O”……just kidding)
- Arizona St. DE JoJo Wicker
- Arizona OT Gerhard de Beer
- Washington WR Chico McClatcher
- Oklahoma St. DE Cole Walterscheid
- Minnesota DE Winston DeLattiboudere
- Nebraska DE Freedom Akinmoladun
- Northwestern S Godwin Igwebuike
- Wisconsin WR Jazz Peavy
- Indiana LB Tegray Scales
- Kentucky C Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings
- Eastern Michigan DL Lion King
- Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN – Drove by the other day……WOW! Sailing up to Neyland on the Tennessee river is so cool that even Jim Nantz had to try it, way back in 1990.
- Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE – A special place. There’s nothing quite like it. “There is No Place Like Nebraska” as “The Good Life” reigns in the Heartland.
- Autzen Stadium, Eugene, OR – How does a place that small make that much noise? It’s the acoustics. They love the reverberating roofs in the Pacific Northwest.
- Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA – On the shores of Lake Washington, the Huskies play to crowds that tend to make the TV cameras shake during big moments. I love it!
- Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC – One of the most raucous crowds I’ve ever seen was at Clemson for last year’s ABC Primetime matchup with Lamar Jackson and Louisville. What a scene in Death Valley!! Shivers.
- Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA – The “Eye of the Tiger” at midfield intimidates visiting teams. LSU has had 3 undefeated home seasons since 2010.
- Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA – Between the Hedges is a must see for the serious college fan. They just do it better in the South. Doesn’t it just seem a little brighter during day games in Athens?
- Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL – The Swamp used to be so intimidating during the old Steve Spurrier Era. Now……not so much. Still, the stadium is amazing and a bucket list item for many.
- Beaver Stadium, State College, PA – Penn St.’s Happy Valley isn’t as happy as it used to be. Some of the mystique is gone now that Joe Paterno has left the building. I don’t care for this stadium that much during the day, never did. But when the lights go out and the crowd goes “WHITE OUT!”……yeah, it’s right up there with the best venues in all the land. Is that a sack by PSU? I can hear the Nittany Lion roaring from hundreds of miles away.
- Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL – This stadium is an underrated monument to those Illinoisans that fell in World War I. The columns, the history, and the layout all inspire modern stadium constructions. With the new Red Grange statue outside on the West end for all tailgaters to view, it would be nice if the Illini could up their game INSIDE the stadium so Fighting Illini fans could fully appreciate a beautiful fall Saturday game day. I’ve been there when the place was rocking and it was magical.
- And one more all-timer – Miami’s original Orange Bowl Stadium – Did they have to close this place? What a shame. This place was one of the greatest stadiums in the world, with more history of both college and pro football than almost anywhere else. Think of all the Dolphins playoff games, Super Bowls, Hurricanes games, and of course the classic Orange Bowls that often capped National Championships on New Year’s night. It was an old dump when they replaced it but it will live as the heart of the game forever. “THE CITY OF MIAMI WELCOMES YOU TO THE ORANGE BOWL” while the palm trees waved and the ‘Canes ran out of the tunnel with the smoke blasting. And then to hear Don Criqui welcoming the NBC audience…………breathtaking and unforgettable.
Top 3 Games I’ve seen in person (in countdown order) –
#3 Michigan St. at Northwestern, September 29, 2001 – This one turned out to be very exciting as several big name players had big games on this beautiful Indian Summer day in Evanston. MSU WR Charles Rogers showed off his athleticism. Northwestern QB Zak Kustok (one of my favorite players ever) was spectacular. If there were a greatest games list of 2001, this would surely make the top 10. Three lead changes in the last 30 seconds were capped by a Kustok to Jon Schweighardt Hail Mary to get into field goal range where David Wasielewski won it for the Wildcats with a 47 yarder as time expired. Final score: Northwestern 27, Michigan St. 26. Wo wo wo! It was definitely one of the greatest days I’ve ever spent in Evanston along with my wife, brother-in-law Jay, and sister-in-law Rachel.
#2 Northwestern at Nebraska, November 2, 2013 – I took my son Trev to his first Nebraska game on his 7th birthday. To make a long story short, I was shocked and saddened that it looked to be a loss for the Huskers. But then something amazing happened. Ameer Abdullah converted a 4th and 15 reception into an incredible 16 yard gain. Then Ron Kellogg III launched a Hail Mary and guess who snooped in to grab the touchdown? None other than local legend #1 Jordan Westerkamp. A new hero was born that day and my son was ecstatic. Then a Nebraska magazine “Hail Varsity” wrote an article about Trev’s first game experience. Final score: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24. As we refer to it now, it was a special day.
#1 Penn St. at Illinois November 12, 1994 – We were literally pumped for this game ALL WEEK on campus as #2 Penn St. came rolling into town. Illinois had an excellent defense but lackluster offense in the mid-90s. With cold, windy weather in the forecast, we could not WAIT to get those Nittany Lions in our House of ‘Paign. So what happened? College kids got saucy, the Fighting Illini roared to a 21-0 lead, and the crowd went bonkers. Then QB Kerry Collins, RB Ki-Jana Carter, WR Bobby Engram, and TE Kyle Brady started their comeback. Typical Illini heartbreak as PSU drove the field to win. Final score: Penn St. 35, Illinois 31. This game typifies most what it means to be an Illini fan. It can rip your heart out. Nonetheless, it remains the greatest game I’ve ever attended.
Turn Back the Clock Two Decades – 20 Years Ago (1997)
For the Dutch Lion’s final feature in this year’s “College Football Spectacular”, let’s turn back the clock two decades to…….1997. The ’97 Nebraska Cornhuskers were one of my favorite Huskers groups ever. QB Scott Frost overcame the fan hostility from 1996 to make Head Coach Tom Osborne’s final season a Championship season. Frost is one of my all-time favorites. Watch the way he runs with physical determination. Watch the “never say die” attitude. Sure he was limited as a passer. His throwing shoulder probably ached from all the pounding of 176 carries. Think Tim Tebow. That’s what Frost was like a decade before Tebow. With RB Ahman Green churning out yardage as the OL Pipeline paved the way, these Cornhuskers mashed opponents into submission. When they faced QB Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, the Blackshirts took out their aggression on the Volunteers. Final score: Nebraska 42, Tennessee 17. Frost pleaded with the media to give “that great man” Tom Osborne the respect he deserved. Sure enough, the Huskers split the National Championship with Michigan, Rose Bowl winners over Washington St. 21-16. Michigan had Heisman Trophy winner CB Charles Woodson. Many people think Manning should’ve won the Heisman that year. How about Scott Frost or Ahman Green? Frost rushed for 1095 yards (6.2 ypc) and 19 TD. Green rushed for 1877 yards (6.8 ypc) with 22 TD. The Heisman is a media driven stat and frankly, the national media were tired of the Cornhuskers. That’s why it went Woodson’s way. That’s ok. Woodson was a truly great player that I predicted would become an NFL Hall of Famer. The true fans know what’s up.
To recap, the “Dutch Lion” has wisely learned from 30+ years of fandom that you never know what might happen in college football. You never know when you’ll attend a historic game. If you’re lucky, you’ll make it to a few of them along the way. If you’re passionate about a team, you’ll enjoy the entire national scene. So enjoy it all. Don’t assume anything. Use that advice and you too will learn that college football is truly spectacular! Enjoy the games this 2017 season! And remember……Georgia is #1!