The LSU Tigers and Dallas Cowboys are Similarly Modernizing

A common theme among sports fans is the idea of the storylines that come out of it. 

Another common theme within sports that fans like to follow, especially among different teams in different leagues, is finding similarities.

A similarity at this stage of the early football season no one is talking about? The resurgence of offense and the similarities the change brings among two premier football teams: the LSU Tigers and Dallas Cowboys. 

When you look at these teams a year ago, they were coming off solid seasons. LSU came off its first 10-win season since 2013, along with un-hinging the then-undefeated UCF Golden Knights to win a New Year’s Six Fiesta Bowl. The Cowboys, meanwhile, after being 2-3 through five games of the season, won 10 games as well and beat the Seahawks in the Wild Card Game, only to lose in the Divisional Playoffs versus the would-be NFC pennant-winning Los Angeles Rams. 

Again, solid seasons. Solid seasons many other teams would gladly take any day of the week. But for teams with as much history and prestige as these two, winning a bowl or playoff game is not enough. 

For both, winning championships is the goal. Hoisting trophies. Wearing championship rings. Winning the biggest games on the biggest stage. That is what both are shooting for. 

The thing that has prevented them from reaching that goal? Offense. In particular, an explosive air attack. 

Let’s look at last season for both teams. Last season, LSU ranked 67thin the entire FBS in passing yards per game with 228.5 yards, while also ranking 95thin passing touchdowns per game, getting slightly over one in the end zone per game through the air. The Cowboys also had issues in the passing department, posting 221.1 yards per game, 23rd in the NFL. The Cowboys also ranked 23rdin the NFL in passing touchdowns, tallying only 22 on the season. 

The similarity is simple at this point. Both teams thrived last season off solid defense and an amazing run game, managing to get by their passing woes by pushing both strengths to their limit. A decent strategy to get to where they got, for sure. 

But to get to where they want to go in hoisting the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy or the Vince Lombardi? You have to be more three-dimensional. Especially in today’s Air raid-oriented offensive schemes throughout the sport. 

Enter the next similarity. 

In the offseason, both squads made an acquisition to fix this area of need. In January of 2019, the Tigers hired New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as their passing game coordinator and right-hand man to offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. The Cowboys parted ways with Scott Linehan and made Kellen Moore, the former backup quarterback, the new offensive coordinator after being the quarterbacks coach the season prior. 

The results of both hires in regard to passing, through the early part of the season for both teams, has been explosive. For LSU, they rank second in the entire FBS in passing yards per game at 436.3 and tied for sixth in passing touchdowns with 11. LSU, with 1309 passing yards through three games, is the most passing yards for the team through three games to start this season this millennium. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ passing game ranks third in passing yards per game with 333.0 and tied for second in passing touchdowns with seven. The Cowboys’ 666 yards of offense in the air through the first two games is the most since 2011. 

For the similarities, both hires have transformed two ground-oriented offenses into the modern game with more emphasis on dynamic routes for long yardage, deeper throws, and perhaps most significantly, setting up the passing game first to set up the run later. 

These are different offenses. Scarier offenses. Offenses that can go toe-to-toe with any team they are facing this season whether in the regular season or potential postseason. 

The similarities between the two teams are endless and, to a degree, eerily coincidental. As the season progresses, more similarities could arise. 

Sports fans should be here for it. 

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2019 College Football Preview

This season for college football has already kicked off with drama as eighth-ranked Florida took down Miami in an ugly mistake-filled contest. Then, Hawaii held off Arizona 45-38 where Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate tried to run into the endzone on the last play of the game, but he was tackled at the one-yard line. This season looks to be one filled with inevitability, as the two current giants of college football, Alabama and Clemson, appear to be on a collision course for yet another championship showdown. With Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, Travis Etienne, Justyn Ross all returning from their 44-16 win over Alabama in last year’s national championship game, Clemson looks to be even stronger and repeat as champions. However, with the return of Tua Tagovailoa and Jerry Jeudy, Alabama looks to get payback from last year’s humiliating defeat.

Two teams that look to challenge these two giants are Oklahoma, with new transfer quarterback from Alabama, Jalen Hurts, and Georgia, who have choked twice in 11 months at Atlanta versus Alabama. But with the return of Jake Fromm and a stellar defense, they look to prove third time is a charm.  

Here are my predictions for each Power-5 conference and the New Year’s Six Bowls, including the College Football Playoff. With this season being top-heavy, do not expect many surprises this season as college football falls into a pattern of predictability.

ACC: Clemson over Miami

Clemson will roll through everyone in the ACC as they have the best team in college football. Miami will get to Charlotte for the title game as their freshmen quarterback Jarren Williams will improve throughout the season and have their toughest remaining games at home.

Big 12: Oklahoma over Texas

With new quarterback Jalen Hurts and returning playmaker CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma should be able to keep on rolling to yet another Big 12 championship. They will once again beat Texas, who will be tested vs LSU but with a returning dual-threat quarterback Sam Ehlinger, and an improved defense, Texas should once again be relevant in the national picture.

Big Ten: Ohio State over Wisconsin

Ohio State got a huge boost this past offseason as they landed former top quarterback high school prospect Justin Fields via transfer from Georgia. With he and JK Dobbins in the backfield, expect Ohio State to run wild in the Big Ten, including yet another crushing win versus Michigan. While I think Michigan State is a very underrated team, even they will not be able to keep up with the attack of the Buckeyes, Wisconsin with star running back Jonathan Taylor will be able to survive the slugfest of the Big Ten West.

PAC-12: Washington over Utah

Star transfer quarterbacks are becoming a trend in college football and Washington is no exception as they will replace four-year starter Jake Browning with former Georgia quarterback Jacob Eason, who led them to nine wins in 2016. Utah will win the weak PAC-12 south as they return stars Zack Moss and Tyler Huntley.  

SEC: Alabama over Georgia

This will be the third time Alabama will break Georgia’s hearts in Atlanta as they will not have the personnel to be able to stop the explosive Alabama attack. However, Georgia will come into this game undefeated and will join Alabama in the playoff.

Heisman: Tua Tagovailoa. With payback fueling his whole season and having an insanely fast wide receiving corp, he will dominate as he will become Alabama’s first quarterback to win the Heisman.

New Year’s Six Bowls

Cotton Bowl: UCF vs Michigan State

UCF with their top two quarterbacks sidelined due to leg injuries, they will turn to Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush to lead them back to the New Year’s Six. They will play Michigan State, who will beat Michigan at home and field one of the most well-rounded and returning rosters in college football.

Orange Bowl: Notre Dame vs Michigan

Michigan will have yet another good season but lose to Ohio State. Their consolation prize will be their second matchup with Notre Dame this season, who they face off against in October. Notre Dame returns Ian Book who will help the Irish cruise through most of their independent schedule

Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs Washington

These two will square off in the Rose Bowl for the second straight year as it will be the battle of Georgia transfer quarterbacks.

Sugar Bowl: LSU vs Texas

It’ll be another rematch as these two will square off twice. LSU bolsters an elite defense and will be strong when they are playing everyone not named Alabama. Texas with experience will get back to the Sugar Bowl for the second straight season.

CFB Playoffs

Fiesta Bowl: Clemson over Oklahoma

Clemson will dominate Oklahoma just liked they did in the 2015 Orange Bowl and will cruise to the National Championship Game.

Peach Bowl: Alabama over Georgia

It’ll be Alabama’s fourth victory over Georgia in the same stadium within two years as this will go down as one of the sports’ most lopsided postseason records, with the Pens-Capitals, Yankees-Twins, Patriots-Steelers.

National Championship Game at New Orleans, Louisiana: Clemson 38 Alabama 31

Clemson will cement themselves as one of the greatest teams of all-time as Trevor Lawrence will continue to be hyped as the next great NFL quarterback, and will have many questioning Tua’s ability to start and finish in big games as he enters the NFL.