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College Football’s first National Championship!

Will Marcus Mariota go all the way?

College football fans, the day so many of you have waited for is finally almost upon us. On Monday, January 12th, 2015, division I College Football will finally see its official title-deciding game. After an exciting weekend in which the Ohio State Buckeyes beat up on the Florida State Seminoles and the Oregon Ducks upset the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, the stage is set for an exciting final. The Ducks and Buckeyes are both extremely hot teams, and in many ways this game is a study in contrasts. Oh yeah, and this game is on pace to be the most ever wagered-upon game in college football history!

The Buckeyes are coached by the 50-year-old living coaching legend, Urban Meyer. Meyer is a proven winner who’s seeking his third national championship (of course, we needn’t remind anyone that this is the first official national championship), and has managed his team through the loss of two starting quarterbacks as well as the tragic death of one of its players. Ohio State relies heavily on the run, bruising their way to enormous margins of victory by pounding opponents at the line of scrimmage. They can throw the ball if they really need to—quarterback Cardale Jones can reportedly throw the ball 80 yards on the fly and a ridiculous 65 yards from one knee—but they mostly prefer to win on the ground. Ezekiel Elliot is one of the nation’s best runners, rolling up 220 and 230 yards in his past two games.
The Ducks are coached Mark Helfrich, a 41-year-old relative newcomer. Helfrich has the Ducks using a wide-open, up-tempo offense, led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Helfrich uses an uncommon approach, in which he favors “horizontal leadership” and minimal yelling. The Ducks do need to be able to run inside the tackles, but this is mainly to balance out their fast-paced passing attack. Mariota is widely believed to be NFL-ready, combining size, speed and a good arm with practically nonexistent turnovers and an even temperament. The Ducks have been rolling up points in big chunks, and once they get in a rhythm, they render defenses exhausted and off balance. As for the Ducks’ defense, it’s been opportunistic and tougher than their lack of hype would suggest. Their pass rush is capable of causing problems, and if they create just a couple of turnovers, their games get out of hand—in their favor—in a hurry.
This game should be evenly matched on the field, despite its numerous contrasts, but the Ducks have a few situations they’re dealing with. Freshman receiver Darren Carrington will miss the game after failing a drug test; Carrington was second on the team with 704 receiving yards this season, and racked up 165 yards and two scores in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks are also missing, for the second straight game, cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu because of a knee injury. As if that isn’t enough, freshman receiver Devon Allen inured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl and is also done for the year. This has contributed to a fluctuating betting line in what might be the most anticipated college football game in a decade.
Once kickoff starts and the bright lights go on, it’ll all come down to energy and execution. Who’s your pick to win the first college football national title? Tweet us @BracketHead using the hashtag #FanCrazy and sound off with your predictions. You can also send us fan photos, make bold predictions, and post photos to our Facebook wall. If you or someone you know is a REAL #FanCrazy fan, send us proof in a picture with a catchy caption! And don’t forget to check in and follow us for a chance to win fun prizes!
May the brackets bust in your favor,

The folks at FanCheer

#GoFanCheer

College Football Playoff Preview

Well, college football fans, the time is finally nigh: the inaugural NCAA football playoff is here! Here at FanCheer, we’re going to give you some stuff to look for in the two big first round games.
Game one is the Rose Bowl, set for 5:00 Eastern Time on New Year’s Day. It features kind of a study in contrasts: the mercurial, controversial Jameis Winston against the polished, seemingly NFL-ready Marcus Mariota. Another clear contrast is in the Ducks and Seminoles’ paths to victory. Florida State always seems to cut it close, and in fact has often taken its first lead of the game within five minutes of the end of regulation. On the contrary, Oregon has often had games well in hand from early on. This doesn’t mean that haven’t at all been tested, but they’ve had a better knack for controlling the flow of play. The Noles’ tendency to cut it close—often due to early blunders—has made them a highly controversial choice to appear in the playoff, and they come into it with a lot to prove in the eyes of many. Despite neither being the top ranked team in the nation, both come in with a championship-or-bust aura. As for the matchup, it should be interesting: the Ducks can really throw it around, and the Seminoles have at times been leaky in their pass defense. As for Winston and company, he’s got game-breaking talent and late-game resilience as well as a platoon of speed merchants that can make secondaries look bad. If the Seminoles catch the turnover bug early, the Ducks won’t be as easy to make up ground against. But if both teams bring their A games, this one might be a serious shootout.
The next playoff game is the Sugar Bowl, set for 8:30 Eastern Time on New Year’s Day. It features the number one seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, widely considered the best team in the country. The Ohio State Buckeyes, meanwhile, are another controversial selection despite destroying 13thranked Wisconsin 59-0 to close the regular season. The Buckeyes have stayed the course despite losing multiple quarterbacks to injury and one of its players to a tragic suicide; they come in looking to validate their selection over Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU. If the Buckeyes have a chance to upset the Tide, it might be downfield: Alabama was just 57th in the country in passing defense in terms of yards allowed. If the Tide get caught looking ahead, this could get interesting.
Here at FanCheer, we think it’ll be the Ducks meeting the Tide in the national title game on January 12th. Who do you think wins the first round of the first ever college football playoffs? Tweet us @BracketHead using the hashtag #FanCrazy and sound off with your predictions. You can also send us fan photos, make bold predictions, and post photos to our Facebook wall. And don’t forget to check in and follow us for a chance to win fun prizes!
May the brackets bust in your favor,

The folks at FanCheer

#GoFanCheer

Pac-12 rising!

Another crazy week in college football! The games in Week 9 were out of hand. No. 10 TCU continued to show it’s no fluke by dropping 82 two (yes, you read that right) on Texas Tech! A few top seeds were challenged by the unranked: no. 1 Mississippi State hung on against Kentucky, and no. 5 Auburn barely squeaked past South Carolina 42-35. Penn State, another unranked sleeper, took no. 13 Ohio State to double overtime before the Buckeyes pulled it out. And in a standings-shuffler, rising stars LSU took out third-ranked Ole Miss! The West Virginia Mountaineers are another team climbing through the rankings; they beat a tough Oklahoma State squad, 34-10. And no. 23 Marshall went to 8-0 by beating Florida International 35-16!
The game of the week pitted no. 20 USC against no. 19 Utah. The Trojans were in a position to put the game away, and decided to go for the kill on 4th & 1 in Utah territory. They executed a swing pass to the left that appeared to go for three game-sealing yards—but the runner stepped out of bounds while cutting upfield! The Utes marched it downfield for a game-winner with seconds to go, sparked by a tremendous run by quarterback Travis Wilson to put them in the red zone. Don’t look now, but the Pac-12 is chock full of strong teams, led by Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks, now ranked 5th in the nation.
As the second half marches on, Week 10 holds a bushel of promising matchups. The 18th-ranker Utes go to Arizona State in what might be a high scoring battle in the desert. No. 10 TCU visits no. 20 West Virginia in a battle of college football’s super sleepers. And keep an eye on the SEC Top-Ten showdown between no. 4 Auburn and no. 7 Ole Miss!
Will the Pac-12 continue to encroach on the SEC’s sense of football supremacy? Who will be this week’s big upset? Will Marshall play its way into single digits in the standings? The selection committee will release its first crop of playoff rankings this week. Will your team be on the leaderboard? Tweet us @BracketHead using the hashtag #FanCrazy and sound off with your predictions. You can also send us fan photos, make bold predictions, and post photos to our Facebook wall. And don’t forget to check in and follow us for a chance to win fun prizes!
May the brackets bust in your favor,
The folks at FanCheer

#GoFanCheer