Tag:Virginia Tech
Posted on: November 6, 2011 3:30 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 3:31 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 10



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Tom O'Brien

NC State's head coach entered the rivalry weekend with plenty of buzz around his name. The Wolfpack needed a win to keep bowl eligibility hopes alive, and O'Brien's less-than-stellar record against competition was starting to come up in potential "hot seat" discussions. In addition to that pressure, North Carolina interim head coach Everett Withers and O'Brien made headlines with their verbal sparring on the topics of academics and who is the state's "flagship" school.

Tom O'Brien won the battle with the biggest zinger of them all, a 13-0 shutout of North Carolina in Raleigh. NC State's rush defense stepped up to the task of slowing star freshman Gio Bernard, and their penetration into the backfield made life tough for quarterback Bryn Renner. Renner left the game with "concussion-like symptoms," and the NC State defense just turned up the head on backup quarterback Braden Hanson. It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a deflating loss for North Carolina. It was Tom O'Brien's funniest joke.

LOSER: North Carolina's offense

The Tar Heels looked uninspired and unemotional on offense in the 13-0 loss to NC State. The scoreless effort was the first for North Carolina this season, and extremely unusual for a team that has scored 20+ points in eight of their first nine contests. The Wolfpack showed up with a plan to stop the rushing attack and pressure sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner. Renner was on the run all afternoon, and was eventually sacked four times for a total loss for 48 yards. After a week of smack talk between the rival schools, North Carolina's failure to show up does not speak well for the future of interim coach Everett Withers. NC State was not able to make the most of great field position all game, but they were able to accomplish enough to escape with the victory. The Tar Heels may be bowl eligible, but Saturday's performance left fans uncertain about North Carolina's immediate future.

WINNER: Virginia's revivial 

For the first time since the 2007, and only the third time since 2005, Virginia is bowl eligible. Mike London's 2011 calendar year will be remembered with a late recruiting surge early, and an impressive improvement in conference play late. After winning just one ACC matchup in 2010, the Cavaliers have started 3-2 in league play with Duke, Florida State, and Virginia Tech left on the schedule. The Wahoos haven't finished .500 or better in conference play since that 2007 Gator Bowl season, and a win over the Blue Devils would at least secure that accomplishment for London. The second-year head coach served as Al Groh's defensive coordinator for that 2007 season, making 2011's success even more sweet.

LOSER: Anyone who watched Florida State-Boston College

Florida State may have walked out of Chestnut Hill with a convincing 38-7 win over Boston College, but very little about the contest was appealing to college football fans. Only 514 total yards of offense and five turnovers between the two teams kept the level of interest at "marginal" through most of the Thursday night game. The game was presumably set for primetime in the thinking that Florida State would be contending for ACC titles and Boston College would be led by Montel Harris ready to stun the Seminoles. But a banged up Eagles squad was outmatched in nearly every aspect of the game on Thursday, Head coach Frank Spaziani will likely have to start addressing job security questions in the week ahead, as the seventh loss makes Boston College ineligible for the postseason for the first time in 12 seasons.

WINNER: Miami offense

Jacory Harris spoke on the topic of needing consistency after the Hurricanes fell to Virginia at home last Thursday. Miami was consistent on offense against Duke in the 49-14 win on Saturday - consistently scoring touchdowns when they touched the ball. Harris led the Hurricanes to touchdowns on their first five drives of the game, and finished with scores on seven of the nine times they touched the ball.

Some of the success is due to the competition, but Miami's execution on offense was a result of a full game plan that might as well have been called "bounce back." Al Golden's squad looked sharper on offense, defense, and in the special teams after embarrassing themselves on national television in the loss to Virginia. In addition to Lamar Miller breaking the 1,000 yard mark on the season, junior wide receiver Tommy Streeter caught his eight touchdown pass of the season. The score pulls Streeter into a tie for second place in the ACC, and ranks him among the Top 15 receivers nationally in that category. Miami just needs one more win to become bowl eligible. With Florida State, South Florida, and Boston College left on the schedule, the expectation is that Golden will have this squad in the postseason by December.

LOSER: Maryland's fan support

A disappointing season has come to an end, at least for the Maryland fans in Byrd Stadium. The Terrapins "celebrated" their Senior Day on Saturday with a 31-13 loss to Virginia to close out the home schedule. After trailing by only one point at halftime, the Terps failed to score in the second half and gave up 300+ passing yards to once of the ACC's least consistent quarterbacks. Virginia's Michael Rocco completed 23 of 36 passes for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Perry Jones added 139 yards rushing in the 527 yard offensive effort. I would suggest the performance might be enough for Maryland fans to have good reason for concern, but judging by the attendance it looks like the fan base is already plenty concerned. Noon kickoffs can be tough for ACC fans, but on a Senior Day this kind of showing (picture taken 10 minutes before kickoff) is pretty disappointing.



WINNERS: Lamar Miller and Gio Bernard

While Bernard struggled to meet his usual production against a well-prepared NC State defense, there was the small victory of him passing the 1,000 yard mark on the season. Miami running back Lamar Miller also accomplished that feat on Saturday, though he enjoyed the celebration of a 49-14 win over Duke. Bernard is the first 1,000 yard rusher form North Carolina since Jonathan Linton broke that mark in 1997. The redshirt freshman has played banged up the last several weeks, though continues to take the field. The Wolfpack held him to just 47 yards on 18 carries, his second-lowest output of the season. Miller, on the other hand, picked up 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 20-carry effort against the Blue Devils. Miller is the first Hurricane to break the 1,000-yard mark since Willis McGahee in 2002.

LOSER: Wake Forest 2nd half offense

Credit the Demon Deacons for putting themselves in a position to knock off Notre Dame in the first-ever meeting of the two schools. But Wake Forest's inability to produce a single point in the second half kept them from picking up that all-important sixth win on Saturday night. Twice Wake Forest had the ball at the Notre Dame 10-yard-line in the second half, but those opportunities ended in a Brandon Pendergrass fumble and David Newman missed field goal. There were opportunities all over the place for Wake Forest, who led 17-10 at halftime. They played well against the top-caliber competition, but the Demon Deacons needed four quarters of solid play from the offense to emerge victorious.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Conference Title Race Reset, Week 10

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the regular season winding down, we'll check in on the conference title races in all 11 FBS conferences. The contenders, key games, and some early predictions on who will claim the league's automatic bowl berth.

SEC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Auburn

EAST CONTENDERS
1. South Carolina (5-1)(7-1)
1. Georgia (5-1)(6-2)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Alabama (5-0)(8-0)
1. LSU (5-0)(8-0)
3. Arkansas (3-1)(7-1)

Week 10 Key Games: South Carolina at Arkansas, LSU at Alabama

Pick: LSU. This could easily be Alabama, but right now I've got the Bayou Bengals winning 21-17 in Tuscaloosa. Regardless, whoever wins the SEC West will likely be the one to win the SEC Championship in Atlanta. Even with a victory over Alabama, LSU would still need to beat Arkansas in the regular season finale in Baton Rouge. South Carolina owns the head-to-head against Georgia, so the Bulldogs will need to win out and hope for a Gamecocks loss this weekend to win the East.

BIG 12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Oklahoma

CONTENDERS
1. Oklahoma State (5-0)(8-0)
2. Oklahoma (4-1)(7-1)
2. Kansas State (4-1)(7-1)

Week 10 Key Games: Kansas State at Oklahoma State, Texas A&M at Oklahoma

Pick: Oklahoma. I like the way the Sooners responded to getting upset by Texas Tech in their performance against Kansas State. Unless the Cowboys continue to showcase the defense that was on the field against Baylor - which they might - I have a hard time seeing the Sooners' offense getting stopped in the Bedlam Rivalry. Oklahoma State also has a tough road against Kansas State and on the road against Texas Tech before that season finale. Could be the Cowboys, but right now I'll take the Sooners.

PAC-12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Oregon

NORTH CONTENDERS
1. Stanford (6-0)(8-0)
2. Oregon (5-0)(7-1)
3. Washington (4-1)(6-2)

SOUTH CONTENDERS
1. Arizona State (4-1)(6-2)
2. UCLA (3-2)(4-4)

Key Week 10 Games: Arizona State at UCLA, Oregon at Washington

Pick: Stanford. If Arizona State beats UCLA this weekend it should basically lock up the USC-less South Division for that bid to the inaugural Pac-12 title game. The North will be a more difficult challenge for the Cardinal, but the resiliency showed by Andrew Luck and the offense after the pick-six in fourth quarter was just one of those moments that makes you believe this is their year to win the league.

BIG TEN
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Wisconsin (Rose Bowl berth)/Michigan State/Ohio State

LEGENDS CONTENDERS
1. Michigan (3-1)(7-1)
1. Nebraska (3-1)(7-1)
1. Michigan State (3-1)(6-2)

LEADERS CONTENDERS
1. Penn State (5-0)(6-2)
2. Wisconsin (2-2)(6-2)
2. Ohio State (2-2)(5-3)
2. Purdue (2-2)(4-4)

Key Week 10 Games: Michigan at Iowa, Northwestern at Nebraska, Purdue at Wisconsin, Indiana at Ohio State 

Pick: Wisconsin. Penn State has been the surprise of the league, now sitting as the only team undefeated in conference play. But with Nebraska and road trips to Ohio State and Wisconsin on the schedule, I think the Badgers will have a chance to win the division in the regular season finale. The Legends Division is a little more cloudy, but right now Michigan State's remaining schedule is the most favorable among the three contenders. I like the Badgers to exact their revenge on Sparty in a rematch from the upset in East Lansing.

ACC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Virginia Tech

ATLANTIC CONTENDERS
1. Clemson (5-1)(8-1)
2. Wake Forest (4-2)(5-3)
3. Florida State (3-2)(5-3)

COASTAL CONTENDERS
1. Virginia Tech (4-1)(8-1)
2. Georgia Tech (4-2)(7-2)

Key Week 10 Game: Florida State at Boston College

Pick: Clemson. This weekend won't reveal much more about the ACC title race, with the top teams in the conference sitting this out this first weekend in November. But the Hokies and Yellow Jackets will square off in Atlanta next Thursday, a game that could seal the division for either team. Wake Forest will get their shot at the Tigers, but a Clemson win should st them up for a return to the ACC title game in Charlotte.

BIG EAST
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl berth)/West Virginia/Pittsburgh

CONTENDERS
1. Cincinnati (2-0)(6-1)
2. West Virginia (2-1)(6-2)
2. Louisville (2-1)(4-4)
2. Pittsburgh (2-1)(4-4)

Key Week 10 Games: Louisville at West Virginia, Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Pick: Cincinnati. The league-leading Bearcats do play three of their final five conference games on the road, but they will get to play host when West Virginia comes to town. If Cincinnati can get another game on the Mountaineers, I like their chances to emerge as a 1-loss Big East champion. West Virginia has to finish their season on the road against South Florida on a Thursday night. So far in 2011, Big East home teams are 6-0 when playing conference games on a weekday night.

CONFERENCE USA
Champion Destination: Liberty Bowl
2010 Champion: UCF

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Southern Miss (3-1)(7-1)
1. East Carolina (3-1)(4-4)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Houston (4-0)(8-0)
1. Tulsa (4-0)(5-3)

Key Week 10 Games: Tulsa at UCF, Southern Miss at East Carolina

Pick: Houston. Winner of this weekends East Division showdown should take front seat for the Conference USA title game. Either way I'm not sure either team could beat Houston. Tulsa will have their chance to play spoiler to the Cougars, hosting Case Keenum and Co. in the final game of the regular season, but they'll have to get by UCF and Marshall to have that opportunity.

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Champion Destination: Maaco Bowl
2010 Champion: TCU

CONTENDERS
1. TCU (3-0)(6-2)
2. Boise State (2-0)(7-0)
2. Wyoming (2-0)(5-2)

Key Week 10 Games: TCU at Wyoming, Boise State at UNLV

Pick: Boise State. The only hurdle left for the Broncos is TCU, and the Horned Frogs' defensive drop-off from 2010 has been well documented. The game also will be played on the Smurf Turf in Boise, and I like Kellen Moore's chances to dissect that defense from under center at home. With the possibility of the Broncos earning a BCS bid, there is also significant competition for those extra bowl spots. I do like TCU to finish ahead of Wyoming for the second-place spot.

WAC
Champion Destination: Poinsettia/Hawaii/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2010 Champion: Nevada/Boise State/Hawaii

CONTENDERS
1. Nevada (3-0)(5-3)
2. Hawaii (3-1)(5-3)
2. Louisiana Tech (3-1)(4-4)
4. Fresno State (2-1)(3-5)

Key Week 10 Games: Louisiana Tech at Fresno State, Utah State at Hawaii

Pick: Nevada. The Wolf Pack bounced back from a 1-3 start with four straight wins to jump out ahead of the conference. The ground attack has been grooving, and they will have a week off before hosting Hawaii in a crucial battle for the top spot in the league. With Week 10 off and three of their final four contests at home, I like Nevada's chance to emerge as the top team in the WAC.

MAC
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl
2010 Champion: Miami (OH)

EAST CONTENDERS
1, Temple (3-2)(5-3)
2. Ohio (2-2)(5-3)
2. MIami (OH) (2-2)(3-5)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Northern Illinois (4-1)(6-3)
1. Toledo (4-1)(5-4)
3 Eastern Michigan (3-1)(5-3)

Key Week 10 Games: Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60. Temple at Ohio, Ball State at Eastern Michigan

Pick: Northern Illinois. Tuesday night's 123-point touchdown extravaganza provided thrilling mid-week action for college football fans, but it was also a huge win for the Huskies in the battle for the West Division title. Temple and Ohio will have a similar battle on Wednesday night, as the division races should have much more clarity heading into the weekend.

SUN BELT
Champion Destination: New Orleans Bowl
2010 Champion: FIU/Troy

CONTENDERS
1. Arkansas State (4-0)(6-2)
2. La.-Lafayette (5-1)(7-2)
3. Western Kentucky (4-1)(4-4)
4. Florida International (2-2)(5-3)

Key Week 10 Games: Florida International at Western Kentucky, Arkansas State at Florida Atlantic, La.-Monroe at La.-Lafayette

Pick: Arkansas State. Both La.-Lafayette and the Red Wolves have winnable Week 10 games before facing each other Nov. 12 in a game that could decide the Sun Belt Champion. With no conference title game you can never count out ties, but I like Arkansas State next week to at least pick up the head-to-head tie breaker in the final standings.


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Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:51 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 9

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll           BCS

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big TenBig 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Penn State

  It took awhile but we're finally on board with the Nittany Lions. As my colleague Bruce Feldman asked, has any 8-1, Joe Paterno-coached team ever been this disrespected? Yes, the offense is pitiful outside of Silas Redd and they seem to enjoy tormenting the local media by never naming a starter. They're the leader in the, um, Leaders division and certainly have a chance at winning their last three games to get to the Big Ten title game. 10th is a little high (Jim Wogan, John Hunt) but 20th or below? Not right now.

Overrated: Michigan State

  Hard to pick just one team that is overrated this week, it seems like everybody below Oklahoma has serious issues (and Oregon/OU aren't great top 10 by any means). But Michigan State seems ripe at 15th in the AP poll and 16th in the Coaches poll. The loss to Notre Dame (31-13) doesn't look good at all in retrospect just as the Wisconsin win doesn't help all that much. They impressed in a win against Michigan but they only have three BCS wins and won by three in one and needed a hail mary in another.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  It was really hard to pass on Wolf being in this space after he went on national television to defend his Boise State first place vote and failed miserably. But based on the ballot turned in, Wilner once again falls in the California Craziness section. 13th and 14th seem really high to rank Arizona State and USC, and all Auburn did this week was beat Ole Miss - are they really 17th ahead of Virginia Tech? Texas 19th, ahead of undefeated Houston at 25th (!) is highly questionable, as is Washington at 18th. Also, Georgia Tech and Penn State are unranked.

What were you thinking? Chris Fowler, Idaho Statesman

  Chris, Poll Attacks here, big fan of your work on GameDay and with tennis coverage. Here's the thing though, you can't rank USC 12th in the country after they lost to Stanford. You also can't rank the Trojans ahead of Arizona State, who beat them badly when they met earlier this year. Outside of that, the ballot looks pretty good. But still, USC 12th ahead of ASU? Come on man. Also probably a bit early to put in Ohio State.

Also have to say shame on the Idaho Statesman this week. With Boise State on a bye, they furloughed beat writer Chadd Cripe. That in, itself, would earned them a mention in this space. BUT, they also prevented Cripe from voting in this week's AP poll because it would have constituted working. So not only do you force him to the couch (likely to watch plenty of football) without pay, but you prevent him from sending a simple email about who he thinks is a top 25 team. Love the paper's coverage of Broncos athletics but really? What are you thinking? Not sure why Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant didn't turn in a vote either but hope he has a good excuse.


Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:16 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 Virginia Tech 14, Duke 10

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Well, a more appropriate phrase probably would include "didn't lose." The Hokies improved to 8-1 overall, emerging victorious in a game that was highlighted by six turnovers, twelve penalties, three missed field goals, and no second-half touchdowns. Duke's defense kept them in the game, but Sean Renfree could not deliver on two 4th down opportunities late in the game.

HOW VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke placekicker Will Snyderwine was a preseason all-conference selection by several different outlets, but his 2011 performance has been completely out of character. Three missed field goals goals against Virginia Tech kept the Blue Devils from capitalizing on the Hokies' offensive struggles. When Virginia Tech needed to milk the clock, they ran their best play: feed David Wilson. Wilson kept up his steady production, rushing 23 times for 148 yards on a Duke defense that eventually could not deliver enough stops to make up for the offensive blunders.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke kept getting the ball back, so this one wasn't done until Sean Renfree threw his third interception of the game on 4th down with less than a minute remaining. The junior quarterback took a beating all game, but his gritty play helped keep it competitive down to the final minutes. Virginia Tech's final point of the game occurred with 10:20 left in the second quarter.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: A win. There is so little the Hokies can take away from this performance, I'd suggest they just jump right to next week's preparation. The offensive line looked out of sync, there were too many penalties on both sides of the ball, and Virginia Tech looked very sluggish and uninspired. But a win is a win, and the Hokies remain atop the Coastal Division Standings.

WHAT DUKE LOST: Head coach David Cutcliffe called beating Virginia Tech a possible "program changer" for the Blue Devils. Between Snyderwine's missed field goals and Renfree's interceptions, there were just too many mistakes to pull the upset on Saturday. Duke has been on the cusp of bowl eligibility several times under David Cutcliffe, but the loss to the Hokies sets up what will likely be another bowl-less season for Duke football.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Matt Daniels played an absolutely fantastic game. Considered one of the leaders of the Duke defense, Daniels' contributions don't always show up on the stat sheet. Saturday was not the case, with the senior safety recording three interceptions, unofficially 14 tackles, and several key break ups to help keep Duke in the game.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 4:16 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 Virginia Tech 14, Duke 10

Posted by Chip Patterson

VIRGINIA TECH WON. Well, a more appropriate phrase probably would include "didn't lose." The Hokies improved to 8-1 overall, emerging victorious in a game that was highlighted by six turnovers, twelve penalties, three missed field goals, and no second-half touchdowns. Duke's defense kept them in the game, but Sean Renfree could not deliver on two 4th down opportunities late in the game.

HOW VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke placekicker Will Snyderwine was a preseason all-conference selection by several different outlets, but his 2011 performance has been completely out of character. Three missed field goals goals against Virginia Tech kept the Blue Devils from capitalizing on the Hokies' offensive struggles. When Virginia Tech needed to milk the clock, they ran their best play: feed David Wilson. Wilson kept up his steady production, rushing 23 times for 148 yards on a Duke defense that eventually could not deliver enough stops to make up for the offensive blunders.

WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: Duke kept getting the ball back, so this one wasn't done until Sean Renfree threw his third interception of the game on 4th down with less than a minute remaining. The junior quarterback took a beating all game, but his gritty play helped keep it competitive down to the final minutes. Virginia Tech's final point of the game occurred with 10:20 left in the second quarter.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH WON: A win. There is so little the Hokies can take away from this performance, I'd suggest they just jump right to next week's preparation. The offensive line looked out of sync, there were too many penalties on both sides of the ball, and Virginia Tech looked very sluggish and uninspired. But a win is a win, and the Hokies remain atop the Coastal Division Standings.

WHAT DUKE LOST: Head coach David Cutcliffe called beating Virginia Tech a possible "program changer" for the Blue Devils. Between Snyderwine's missed field goals and Renfree's interceptions, there were just too many mistakes to pull the upset on Saturday. Duke has been on the cusp of bowl eligibility several times under David Cutcliffe, but the loss to the Hokies sets up what will likely be another bowl-less season for Duke football.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Matt Daniels played an absolutely fantastic game. Considered one of the leaders of the Duke defense, Daniels' contributions don't always show up on the stat sheet. Saturday was not the case, with the senior safety recording three interceptions, unofficially 14 tackles, and several key break ups to help keep Duke in the game.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 2:51 pm
 

LSU-Alabama Daily, Oct. 28: Secondary breakdown

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Counting down to LSU-Alabama with a daily dose of analysis and news.

DAYS REMAINING TO KICKOFF: 8, or the number of wins for LSU in the series in the past 11 meetings. Before that uptick the Bayou Bengals trailed the Tide 42-16-5 in the all-time series and had never defeated Alabama three consecutive times. The man most responsible for the change in fortunes? Nick Saban, who went 4-1 against the Tide in his five-year stint at the LSU helm between 2000 and 2004, ending a run of 9 Alabama victories in 11 years. Saban hasn't had quite as much success turning the tables -- yet -- in Tuscaloosa, going 2-2 against LSU in his four years at Alabama.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Who has the better secondary? Or maybe more importantly: which team matches up better against the opponents' receivers?

Amongst the many superlatives that will be thrown around regarding this game, here's one that's entirely deserved: these are the best two secondaries in college football. 

And with all due respect to, say, Michigan State or Virginia Tech, we're not sure it's close. Between Alabama's fivesome of safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester and corners Dre Kirkpatrick, Demarcus Milliner and Dequan Menzie, and LSU's of safeties Eric Reid and Brandon Taylor (or Craig Loston) and corners Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne and Tharold Simon, it's possible the teams will combine for 8 or 9 future NFL defensive backs. (Hell: maybe 10)

So who's better? The stats give Alabama a slight edge, with the Tide having allowed an opposing QB rating of 83.68 to LSU's 96.49, just 4.5 yards per-pass attempt to LSU's 5.4, and a completion percentage of 48.1 to LSU's 53.1. (All of these numbers for both teams rank among the best in the nation, of course.) Alabama has also reached "total shutdown" phase more often, holding five of their opponents to a QB rating of 90 or worse while LSU has unlocked that achievement just three times.

In LSU's favor, though, is that 1. they've played the tougher schedule, thanks to facing teams like Oregon and West Virginia 2. they're more likely to come up with the big play, with 11 interceptions to Alabama's 9 and Mathieu among the national leaders in forced fumbles 3. as could be particularly important in a matchup of such fierce ground games, they're more involved in stuffing the run, with Taylor, Reid, Mathieu and Claiborne all among the Tigers' top five tacklers. 

So call all of that a draw. What about matchups? The Tide will be facing the toughest cover in the head-to-head in the form of Rueben Randle, now leading the SEC in average yards per-completion by a substanial margin, and they can't forget about true freshman Odell Beckham Jr. (27 receptions, 334 yards). Those are two of only three LSU targets in double-digit receptions for the year, though, while the Tide boast seven. Marquis Maze (pictured at the top of this post, opposite Mathieu in the 2010 meeting) leads the way, of course, with 39  catches and 482 yards.

So as with so many other aspects of LSU-Alabama, who wins the head-to-head between the secondaries will likely come down to whether the Tide can stop the big play. They couldn't last year, when the Tigers averaged 15 yards a completion. And on the other side of the ball, as relatively mistake-free as AJ McCarron has been, he hasn't faced the ball-hawking likes of Mathieu and Claiborne yet.

But if Barron and Lester can provide the necessary help against Randle over the top and McCarron stays in control, the matchup should swing in the Tide's favor--between their wider array of targets on offense and the LSU secondary's occasional pliability (see the 463 passing yards yielded to West Virginia), they should be more able to consistently disrupt the LSU passing game more often than LSU disrputs theirs. Especially with the Tide defenders having the advantage of homefield, we'll give the thinnest of  edges to Alabama here.

THE LATEST FROM BATON ROUGE: That this LSU-Alabama game has already reached such colossal importance means it's a good time to remind fans of both sides that there's things that are actually more important than football (it's true!), and the continuing efforts to provide relief in the wake of the tragic April 27 tornadoes that ripped through the Tuscaloosa area are one of those things.

That's why Louisana chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto have paired up with Tide football legend Bob Baumhower to hold the first-ever "Lousi-Bama Gumbo Bowl," a charity fund-raising event for tornado relief to be held outside Bryan-Denny Stadium ... and produce the new Guinness World Record holder for the Largest Pot of Gumbo. If you weren't interested before ... 

The team will create a monster pot of gumbo, using a 300-year-old cast iron pot from the sugar cane fields of South Louisiana. The World's Largest Gumbo recipe calls for 750 pounds shrimp, 450 pounds catfish fillets, 100 pounds claw crabmeat, 50 pounds white crabmeat, 200 pounds alligator meat, and 25 pounds Louisiana crawfish tail meat.

The recipe will include 200 pounds of diced onions, 75 pounds of diced celery, 100 pounds of diced green bell pepper, 150 pounds of sliced okra, 50 pounds of dehydrated garlic, and 20 pounds of butter. After simmering for three hours, the pot will be weighed via a forklift. Then, the delicious, steaming contents will be doled out to hungry football fans during the pre-game tailgate.

Pardon us while we wipe up our drool. Tickets to the event can be purchased here. For more information (including the charities to benefit, click here

LSU's coaches have been committed to showing their defense a running back with something like Trent Richardson's power in practice. How committed? Richardson's role on the scout team has been played by a linebacker, freshman Trevon Randle. Not that Claiborne is planning on going strength-on-strength with Richardson no matter how much practice he gets on Randle. 

"Any way you can get him on the ground, you just get him on the ground,” Claiborne said of the Tide star. “I know where I’m going. I’m going for the legs.” (Not a bad plan, Morris, though we doubt Randle's going to help get you ready for feet like these, either.)

Via And the Valley Shookthe LSU film department has put together a trailer for the game. And it's one we find hard to imagine won't get the blood pumping for both Tiger fan and neutrals alike:

THE LATEST FROM TUSCALOOSA: Hey speaking of Richardson, we've got some good news for LSU fans. Here's what he said Thursday about the bye week:

“My body is probably in the best condition it's been in since I've been in college, and now I get a break, and my body will feel even better when I come back.” 

Oh, wait, sorry; that's terrible news.

Overall, the Tide's attitude towards LSU has been what you'd expect: respect, but clearly not too much respect. See, for instance, this al.com video of Maze discussing Mathieu. Or this quote from senior center William Vlachos on the LSU defense:

“They're dominant,” Vlachos said. “They're solid all the way around. Their coordinator does a really good job with their defense. That's something everybody's been talking about, and we're looking forward to the challenge of playing against a great defense.”

That's nice and all, but where's the bulletin board material, guys? (Our best guess: somewhere on the LSU side. Both teams are very much reflections of their head coaches, and who do you think might slip up and say something overconfident and/or "smack"-like: Saban or Les Miles?)

The honors have continued to roll in for the Tide defense. Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and offensive lineman Barrett Jones three of the 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award,  and Hightower and Barron have been named quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Award.


Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:20 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 8

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll           BCS

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Southern Miss

  The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2004 in the Coaches Poll but are just "receiving votes" in the AP. Voters must not be aware of them shutting down June Jones' offense on Saturday, holding SMU to just three points and 330 yards. They're behind teams like West Virginia (blown out by Syracuse) and Arizona State (lost to Illinois, blown out by Oregon) for some reason. Yes, they're a Conference USA team so they have to fight for respect a lot more than others but they should be on everyone's ballot at 6-1.

Overrated: Nebraska

  To be fair, it's hard to figure out where to slot Nebraska because of the mediocre group of teams outside of the top 10-12 or so. The blowout loss to Wisconsin looks even worse now and having to come back and beat Ohio State is not a ringing endorsement for a top 15 team given their troubles in the passing game. We'll figure out if they deserve a high-ranking after Saturday but until then, they probably should be behind Virginia Tech and even Texas A&M.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  I swear that Wilner just likes being the one in this space in order to gloat to his Bay Area compatriot Ratto. First off, teams that are on his ballot that shouldn't be: Auburn (17th), Washington (21st), Texas (23rd). Teams not on his ballot that should be: Houston, Michigan, Penn State. Also head-scratching: Auburn above USC, Kansas State 19th, Virginia Tech one spot behind Washington, Arkansas ahead of Stanford, South Carolina in the top 12, Georgia in the top 15.

What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant

  Conner's top 20 isn't bad at all, aside from Nebraska being ahead of both Michigan State and Wisconsin. The bottom five is disastrous however. Arizona State is 20th, followed by West Virginia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Penn State. He was the only voter to rank the Fighting Zookers despite losing back-to-back games to Ohio State and Purdue and has one-loss Penn State dead last on his ballot. Conner is also the only one to leave USC unranked.


Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 11:54 am
 

Virginia Tech MLB Taylor done for season (foot)

Posted by Chip Patterson

Virginia Tech has maintained a steady improvement throughout the season, suffering their only loss at the hands of No. 6 Clemson earlier in the season. But injuries have continued to pile up for the Hokies, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. On Monday the school announced that redshirt junior linebacker Bruce Taylor will miss the rest of the season after suffering a sprain in his right foot during Saturday's 30-14 victory over Boston College.

CBSSports.com's Sean Bielawski notes that Taylor is the third defensive starter in the front seven to suffer a season ending injury, outside linebacker Jeron Geouveia-Winslow suffered the same foot injury in his left foot while defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins injured his right knee earlier in the season. Taylor leads the team in tackles and is second in sacks, he is expected to be replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Barquell Rivers.

Pulling together this banged up defense for the home stretch will be a challenge for Frank Beamer and defensive coordinator Bud Foster. With Georgia Tech losing at Miami over the weekend, the Hokies control their own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division. If they can win out, they'll earn a trip back to Charlotte for the ACC title game - likely a rematch with Clemson. But left on Virginia Tech's schedule are four division opponents, and a Thursday night game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The front seven will need to show their depth in the coming weeks, as they face some of the more physical rushing attacks in the conference.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com