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Takeaways from the first two weeks of NCAA Football

The first two weeks of the 2014 college football season has already come and gone (fast huh?), giving us a few surprises, highlight reel plays, and storylines to follow as the season progresses.  Some players have already shown to exceed expectations placed on them, increasing draft stock as well as the play of their team overall.  One conference has shown to be on the decline while another made a huge statement week two.  Finally, a former power of college football has made a statement to the rest of the nation that it will be back, and back sooner than some would have thought.

-Everett Golson will be a top QB prospect.

When Everett Golson was taking the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the National Championship game, some wondered if they were winning in spite of their young QB.  After he was suspended, question was raised if he would start when he came back, and if he deserved to both on and off the field.  After taking his punishment and returning to the team this year, Golson has taken the reigns of this team and pushed them to the same National Championship level they were at two years ago.  In Notre Dame’s two games, Golson is 37 of 56 (66%) for 521 yards, 5 TDs and 0 Ints.  The most telling stat however is that Notre Dame has outscored their opponents 79-17.  Golson is the real deal, and people can either accept it now or wait for the bandwagon later.

-Big Ten is full of teams that have not adjusted to the evolution of college football

As good a day that the ACC had, the Big 10 had that horrible of a day.  The day started off in crises mode when Nebraska was tied with McNeese St, 24-24 with less than a minute left.  That crisis was averted when Ameer Abdullah took a screen pass 58 yards for the game-winning touchdown.  After that Ball State took Iowa to the last minute before the Iowa Hawkeyes came away with the win.  Unfortunately, a winning result could not said for Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State.  All four of what would be claimed to be the Big Ten’s “Better teams” failed to deliver for not only them, but their conference. 
Part of the reason for this conferences decline can be attributed to their tradition being so rooted that they are almost easy to gameplan for.  Most of the teams in this conference have played roughly the same way for years, if not decades.  It appears at times that all of the innovation and evolution that has happened to college football over the past decade has completely been ignored by the Big Ten.  Until their teams can get with the times and out of the dark ages, they will continue to struggle when facing teams that are outside the conference.

-Marcus mariota is the best qb in college football

We may have made a case why is Everett Golson is a top QB prospect, but lets make it clear that Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is THE top QB prospect.  Everything he does is crisp and every game appears to have gained that much more knowledge of the game and how to be that much more successful.  This year he has gone 31 of 48 (64.6%) 585 yards with 6 TDs and 0 Ints.  Marcus Mariota may need an offense that can spread the ball around and push it vertical, but he is a polished NFL QB right now.  The sky is the limit for the Oregon Duck.

-USC will again be a powerhouse once they recover from their NCAA sanctions
For all the glitz and glamour that the University of Southern California may produce, they have also produced some of the greatest powerhouses in NCAA history.  After going through the turmoil of the Reggie Bush scandal, Pete Carroll leaving, NCAA sanctions, and the tenure of Lane Kiffin, the Trojans may finally be on the road back to dominance.  In their first game against Fresno State, USC ran over 100 plays in a crushing 52-13 win.  The word was out that Southern Cal had finally adapted to the spread uptempo offense craze sweeping the world.  The only question would be if they could handle their first big test against conference rival #13 Stanford.  This team, still recovering from NCAA sanctions only suited up 57 of 64 players, with many being injured or fairly young inexperience players.  Still, they managed to escape the tough road test with a 13-10 win.  It may not be the dominance of their first game, but USC gained a lot of confidence that they can compete with anybody on their schedule.  The most horrifying question the rest the nation now all has to ask themselves, “ What happens when USC gets back to full strength health/scholarship wise”?

-The ACC is the most improved conference

With all the top teams and players doing what they were supposed to, one whole conference has managed to stay under the radar while making the biggest statement.  The ACC managed to go 11-0 for the day, a record for the conference besting their old record of 8-0 in non-conference games.  It seems as though every year the ACC is disregarded as teams who have “good teams, but not elite championship teams”.  With defending National Champion Florida State looking to repeat, the ACC posting numbers like this has to do nothing but help the Seminoles chances of at least making the playoffs.  Last year Florida State had to go underfeated to make it to the National Championship.  If the ACC keeps improving and building on their record day, Florida State could find themselves in the position of not needing an unblemished record to compete for another National Championsip.

Whats Next?: San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs find themselves in a position where they could solidify themselves as one of the best teams, coaches, and players in league history, if not all of sports.  The price they could possibly pay however could be the loss of a premier player(s).  If the Spurs are unfortunate enough to have to go through the disappointment of another Finals loss, it could propel them to even bigger and better things down the road.

If the San Antonio Spurs win the Championship: Going out on top?

The San Antonio Spurs know that if there is any team in the league that has a limited window, its them.  For veterans such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli this may be their last chance to grab another championship.  Any of these 3 could potentially call it a career after the season.  If the San Antonio Spurs are able to win the NBA Championship, Tim Duncan could see his 5th ring as a signal for him to go out on top. 

While it is totally possibly that Duncan, as well as Parker and/or Ginobli could return, it is within reason they could walk away.  The Spurs return majority of their team next year, and have a flexible cap situation.  A team being looked at as a potential dynasty, they would be able to have their pick of free agents to add to emerging stars Kawhi Leonard Danny Green and Tiago Splitter.  

The biggest winner of another championship may be coach Gregg Popovich.  Winning a 5th championship would put him instantly into the conversation of the best coaches of all time, regardless the sport.  It would prove that all of the unconventional decisions and all that is "Pop" would be justified.

If the Spurs are able to win the Finals, this may be a period to simply take a step back and appreciate the chance to experience greatness.

If the San Antonio Spurs lose in the NBA Finals: Back to Business.

If the Spurs fail to defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, it would be hard to expect any of their big 3 to walk away. The only players who are at risk to not return next year are Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Patty Mills.  All 3 players could be easily replaced with the cap flexibility the Spurs are currently in. 

One would think it would be back to the drawing board in order for them to once again represent the Western Conference for a chance at a 5th ring.  The Spurs would hear nothing but how they are too old, and how their window has now closed.  All that would serve for is motivation for them to come back better than ever next season.  San Antonio could go into the offseason on a mission to go all in for one last title run before walking away.  By the time the 2014-15 season rolls around, the Spurs could come on the court knowing its finals or bust, and it could also be their last year together.

What's Next?: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are four wins away from another NBA championship, completing a 3-peat.  The mission of the "Big 3" of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh would have been successful.  This year hasn't always been the smooth ride as previous seasons, and exposed flaws and problem areas on the team.  As always, winning would cure all problems, but potentially losing the series could spell the beginning of a lot of changes for the Miami Heat.

If the Miami Heat Win the Championship: Heat Reload

Winning this championship, especially combined with a Finals MVP would secure Lebron's place as one of the all-time top people to ever play in the NBA.  The only question for his place as best ever would only be before or after Jordan.  It would be hard to imagine Lebron leaving to go to another team, so odds are Heat fans would be seeing Lebron, Wade, and Bosh going after a 4th championship.  It could be possible that Wade could consider a pay cut for them to bring another impact player into the fold.  That would only add to the potential for the Heat to make big moves in the offseason.

Beyond the Big 3, the only guarantees to come to the team are Center Chris Andersen and PG Norris Cole.  This would enable Pat Riley to go into the offseason with substantial cap room to make significant moves.  Although this would be the first year he would have a cap situation such as this since the immediate acquisition of the Big 3, he would have a better idea of what fits the Miami team and how to get the most out of his moves.  A Heat team coming off a 3-peat should offer a premier destination for any free agent, making this a potential offseason for them to reload with many talented contributors for decent prices.  While the chemistry may not be exactly there at first, the 2014-15 version of the Heat would be just as scary or dangerous as any in recent years.

If the Miami Heat Lose the Championship: The Decision 2

If the Miami Heat fail to capture the 3-peat, Heat fans could be in for a summer they will soon wish to forget.  With player options for all members of the Big 3, any combination of them could decide to opt-out and test free agency, especially Lebron James.  With the fact that only Andersen and Cole being the only Heat players under contract for next year, James could decide to find another situation that gives him the best chance to reach the finals next year.  A summer after a failed Finals appearance could lead to another "Decision" by Lebron in which he decides if he could make it with a potentially new cast, or if he should take his talents elsewhere.  

Regardless of what he does, Dwayne Wade could call it a career if the heat lose to the Spurs.  A player that has cemented his place in history, Wade could opt  to remain with the Heat and finish his stellar career, or simply walk away now.  Chris Bosh has already stated his desire to remain with the Heat, so the shelves aren't fully bare in Miami.  Pat Riley has already shown that he can make moves when necessary, so in the event Lebron does leave he can use that money to reload on talent all around to improve the overall team.  While this may alleviate some of the pain on the court of losing Lebron, it would be hard for fans to take losing a player on James' level.