Posted on: November 8, 2011 12:42 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BOISE STATE WILL WIN IF: Kellen Moore continues to be Kellen Moore. That's not to say that this game is an easy win for Boise State, because it's not. This will easily be the toughest test that the Broncos have faced since opening the season against Georgia in Atlanta. It's also incredibly important in the Mountain West standings as both of these teams are unbeaten in conference play and the winner will likely win the conference. In order for that to happen for Boise State, Kellen Moore and the offense will have to look at what Baylor and SMU did earlier this season to defeat TCU. This Horned Frogs defense has been good this season, but it's not as good as the unit we've seen the last few years, particularly in the secondary. While it isn't giving up a lot of yards through the air, the fact is that the TCU defense has allowed 18 passing touchdowns this season with only 7 interceptions. With Kellen Moore's accuracy and career ratio of 5.33 touchdowns for every interception thrown, this is something that the Broncos can and should take advantage of.
TCU WILL WIN IF: It can figure out how to stop Kellen Moore and this offense. Which not many teams have been able to do in the past four years. The key to doing this will be to get pressure in Moore's face and try to force him into making throws he either doesn't want to or shouldn't make. Of course, even if you can get some pressure on Moore, Boise's offense is still going to find ways to score, which means TCU will have to play well on offense. The Horned Frogs don't have a strong passing attack this season, but if there's good news it's that you're probably better off running against Boise anyway. The Broncos only allow 140.4 yards per game on the ground, but they also have the lowest amount of rushing attempts per game in the Mountain West. The number that TCU should pay attention to is the fact that Boise is allowing over 4 yards per carry. So a healthy dose of Waymon James, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker could go a long way.
X-FACTOR: Bronco Stadium. You may remember that this game was originally supposed to be played in Fort Worth, but then suddenly after TCU announced it would be leaving the Mountain West for the Big East -- which became the Big 12 -- the game was moved to Boise. A factor that can't be overlooked in this contest considering that Boise State hasn't lost a regular season game on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium in a decade.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 11:35 am
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.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Auburn
1. Georgia (5-1)(7-2)
2. South Carolina (5-2)(7-2)
1. LSU (6-0)(9-0)
2. Alabama (5-1)(8-1)
3. Arkansas (4-1)(8-1)
Week 11 Key Games: Florida at South Carolina; Tennessee at Arkansas; Auburn at Georgia
Pick: LSU. The Tigers take control of the SEC with their 9-6 overtime victory in the "Game of the Century" (tag now debatable), but the home stretch won't be a cakewalk. Arkansas will get their shot at the No. 1 team in the nation in the regular season finale, causing a mind-numbing three-way tie for the division title. If Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas all finish with one conference loss (against each other), the SEC title game representative will be decided by BCS standings. For now I'm liking LSU's chances against Arkansas and Georgian in the title game, assuming the Bulldogs can lock up the East down the stretch.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Oklahoma
1. Oklahoma State (6-0)(9-0)
2. Oklahoma (5-1)(8-1)
3. Kansas State (4-2)(7-2)
4. Texas (3-2)(6-2)
Week 11 Key Games: Texas at Missouri; Oklahoma State at Texas Tech; Texas A&M at Kansas State
Pick: Oklahoma State. Week 11 serves as a "Separation Saturday" of sorts in the Big 12, with Kansas State and Texas facing elimination from title contention. If the Cowboys can avoid the Texas Tech trap that caught their Bedlam brethren, they will be just an Iowa State win away from a possible unofficial Big 12 title game against the Sooners. Oklahoma still has to beat Baylor on the road, and does not get the advantage of a week off prior to the big game in December. I like Mike Gundy to have his team focused down the stretch, and outscoring anyone they face.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Oregon
1. Stanford (7-0)(9-0)
2. Oregon (6-0)(8-1)
1. Arizona State (4-2)(7-2)
1. UCLA (4-2)(5-4)
Key Week 11 Games: Oregon at Stanford; UCLA at Utah; Arizona State at Washington State
Pick: Stanford. UCLA's victory over Arizona State has made the Pac-12 South suddenly a heated race in November. Without owning the head-to-head against UCLA, the Sun Devils must remain perfect down the stretch and hope the Bruins falter to earn that bid to the Pac-12 title game. Arguably the biggest conference matchup of the season will be Stanford's showdown with Oregon at home on Saturday night. Knocking off the Ducks will give create enough separation to feel good about winning the Pac-12 North. If the banged-up Cardinal can get it done against Oregon, I like their chances against California the following week.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Wisconsin (Rose Bowl berth)/Michigan State/Ohio State
1. Michigan State (4-1)(7-2)
2. Michigan (3-2)(7-2)
2. Nebraska (3-2)(7-2)
2. Iowa (3-2)(6-3)
1. Penn State (5-0)(8-1)
2. Ohio State (3-2)(6-3)
2. Wisconsin (3-2)(7-2)
Key Week 11 Games: Nebraska at Penn State; Michigan State at Iowa; Michigan at Illinois; Wisconsin at Minnesota; Ohio State at Purdue
Pick: Michigan State. Week 10's results have left the Big Ten title race in a chaotic state. The good news for a Big Ten fan is that now almost every game on the schedule has a potential conference championship implication. Interestingly enough, one of the team with the most control in the jumbled Legends race is Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated Michigan on Saturday, and face both Michigan State and Nebraska in the final three weeks of the season. Michigan State, with a game up on Iowa, can also lock up the division by winning out and faces an easier slate. Penn State has the toughest road in the Leaders division, and the off-field issues will be impossible for those around the program to ignore. Owning the head-to-head against Wisconsin, Ohio State is actually in the best position to leap ahead of Penn State should they fall along the way.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Virginia Tech
1. Clemson (5-1)(8-1)
2. Wake Forest (4-2)(5-4)
2. Florida State (4-2)(6-3)
1. Virginia Tech (4-1)(8-1)
2. Georgia Tech (4-2)(7-2)
3. Virginia (3-2)(6-3)
Key Week 11 Games: Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech; Wake Forest at Clemson; Duke at Virginia; Miami at Florida State
Pick: Clemson. Week 11 provides the ACC with some huge matchups with conference title implications. Clemson can lock up the ACC Atlantic Division with a win over Wake Forest, and the winner of Thursday night's showdown between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech moves into the driver's seat for the ACC Coastal. I like the Tigers to take care of business with a week off following their loss to the Yellow Jackets, and Dabo Swinney's team will play to a Tiger-friendly crowd at the title game in Charlotte.
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl berth)/West Virginia/Pittsburgh
1. Cincinnati (3-0)(7-1)
2. Louisville (3-1)(5-4)
3. Rutgers (3-2)(6-3)
4. West Virginia (2-2)(6-3)
4. Pittsburgh (2-2)(4-5)
4. Connecticut (2-2)(4-5)
2. Pittsburgh (2-1)(4-4)
Key Week 11 Games: West Virginia at Cincinnati; Pittsburgh at Louisville
Pick: Cincinnati. The Bearcats' surprising 7-1 campaign runs into arguably the biggest road block on Saturday, facing a steaming-mad West Virginia team in Paul Brown Stadium. A loss knocks the Mountaineers from title contention, and Dana Holgorsen will be looking for improvements on all sides of the ball after the loss to Louisville. The Cardinals can also knock out a contender this weekend with a win over Pittsburgh.
Champion Destination: Liberty Bowl
2010 Champion: UCF
1. Southern Miss (4-1)(8-1)
2. East Carolina (3-2)(4-5)
2. Marshall (3-2)(4-5)
1. Houston (5-0)(9-0)
1. Tulsa (5-0)(6-3)
3. SMU (4-2)(6-3)
Key Week 11 Games: Houston at Tulane; Marshall at Tulsa; UCF at Southern Miss; East Carolina at UTEP
Pick: Houston. No one in the league has been as impressive as Houston this season, but Tulsa's five-game win streak is nothing to ignore. The two teams are on a collision course to meet in Houston on Thanksgiving Friday, likely for the West Division crown. UCF gave the Golden Hurricanes a challenge in Week 10, and Southern Miss should be on alert after picking up a game on East Carolina.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Champion Destination: Maaco Bowl
2010 Champion: TCU
1. TCU (4-0)(7-2)
2. Boise State (3-0)(8-0)
2. Wyoming (2-1)(5-3)
Key Week 11 Games: TCU at Boise State; Wyoming at Air Force
Pick: Boise State. My question is not if Boise State will beat TCU this weekend on the Smurf Turf, but how they beat TCU. The Broncos have once again found themselves in a position where they might be on the outside looking in of the BCS title game, and TCU presents their last quality opponent on the schedule. It would favor the Broncos to end this game early, and keep the foot on the accelerator to draw the attention of as many human voters as possible to help their BCS chances.
Champion Destination: Poinsettia/Hawaii/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2010 Champion: Nevada/Boise State/Hawaii
1. Nevada (3-0)(5-3)
2. Louisiana Tech (4-1)(5-4)
2. Hawaii (3-2)(5-4)
4. Fresno State (2-2)(3-6)
Key Week 11 Games: Hawaii at Nevada; Fresno State at New Mexico State
Pick: Nevada. Louisiana Tech takes a break from conference play to face Ole Miss while Nevada gets a shot to eliminate Hawaii from title contention. I like the Wolf Pack coming in from a week off to knock the Warriors off at home, setting up a huge WAC showdown with Louisiana Tech in Week 12. Nevada plays to a favorable schedule down the stretch, and I like their chances to keep a hold on the top spot in the conference.
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl
2010 Champion: Miami (OH)
1. Ohio (3-2)(6-3)
1. MIami (OH) (3-2)(4-5)
3. Temple (3-3)(5-4)
1. Northern Illinois (4-1)(6-3)
1. Toledo (4-1)(5-4)
3 Ball State (4-2)(6-4)
Key Week 11 Games: Northern Illinois at Bowling Green; Western Michigan at Toledo; Miami (OH) at Temple; Ohio at Central Michigan
Pick: Northern Illinois. While NBA fans are complaining about missed games, the MAC is seizing the opportunity to show off their mid-week fireworks. Week 11 is another Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday slate of contests with conference title implications, so get the scoreboard warmed up. The East leaders will each have to hit the road to protect their spot, with a Miami - Ohio rivalry game still left on the schedule. If Northern Illinois can avoid the upset at Bowling Green, their remaining schedule sets up well for a strong finish and plenty of rest for the conference title game.
Champion Destination: New Orleans Bowl
2010 Champion: FIU/Troy
1. Arkansas State (5-0)(7-2)
2. La.-Lafayette (6-1)(8-2)
3. Western Kentucky (5-1)(5-4)
Key Week 11 Games: La.-Lafayette at Arkansas State; Western Kentucky at LSU
Pick: Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have been on a tear for nearly two months, and now their opportunity to lock up the Sun Belt Conference comes right to their front door with Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns are fresh off a thrilling battle with Louisiana-Monroe that required two touchdowns in the final three minutes to secure the 36-35 victory. I like Arkansas State on Saturday, and to lock things up down the stretch in the Sun Belt.
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Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Clemson, Conference Championship, Conference Standings, Conference Title Update, Conference USA, Connecticut, East Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Kansas State, La-Lafayette, Leaders, Legends, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, MAC, Miami (OH), Michigan, Michigan State, Mountain West Conference, Nebraska, Nevada, Non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Pittsburgh, SEC, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford, Sun Belt, TCU, Temple, Toledo, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, Virginia Tech, WAC, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: November 7, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 6:04 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
The only poll-related question following the Tigers' win in Tuscaloosa Saturday night was this: would they be unanimous No. 1's, or would there be a few stray Stanford or Oklahoma State zealots? Surprise surprise: the Bayou Bengals went 59-for-59 on first-place votes for the Coaches, but one random attention-seeking media voter went for Boise State at No. 1, keeping LSU's AP total at 59/60. We're big Boise fans around here, but there's simply no logical, reasonable explation for looking at both team's schedule's and deciding that the Broncos have done more to deserve the No. 1 spot.
(You can read our Eye on CFB Poll Attacks to find out the identity of said voter. We're not dignifying his efforts here.)
The Tide can't ask for much more, can they? Not only do they still sit ahead of fellow one-loss wonders Oklahoma and Oregon (fair, considering that the Sooners lost to much weaker team and that the Ducks weren't nearly as competitive vs. LSU), but Alabama's still comfortably one spot ahead of the undefeated Broncos, too. That's more debatable, and if it ultimately comes down to picking one of these schools or the other to play LSU for a national title, we'd like to see what Boise could do. But for now, Boise's schedule is so weak -- Georgia, and then a whole lot of barely-more-than nothing -- it makes sense to have the Tide a notch ahead.
The Razorbacks' on-field play improved dramatically this week as they pulled away from one-loss South Carolina for a decisive 44-28 win, but it wasn't enough to force any change in the polls; the Hogs stayed a firm eighth behind Oklahoma. Given that the Sooners (and similar one-loss competitors Oregon) have played better football the past two weeks and now have a list of victims comparable to Arkansas's, the Hogs can't have any real gripes about staying put, though.
We're not sure when beating the pants off of New Mexico State became so impressive, but apparently "when" was in fact "this week"; the Bulldogs' thrashing of the Aggies was good enough for a healthy four-spot jump in both polls. So enamored were AP voters with the UGA win that they moved the Dawgs a spot ahead of the Gamecocks--even though both teams have the same record and Carolina beat Georgia head-to-head in Athens. Usually it's the Coaches that get up to these kind of shenanigans (please note that Virginia Tech is currently ranked ahead of Clemson for no reason whatsoever), but not this week.
15/15. SOUTH CAROLINA
The past three weeks have gone like this for the Gamecocks: 1. 14 points scored in hideous win over SEC underdog 2. 14 points scored in less-hideous-but-still-pretty-ugly win over SEC underdog 3. 16-point loss at Arkansas. And the Gamecocks' home loss to Auburn is still far worse than most of the losses suffered by the glut of two-loss teams after consensus No. 12 Penn State. But then again, at Georgia is still a far better win than most of those teams have, too. So we don't know if 15 is such a terrible overranking, especially when what we do know is that if the Gamecocks are 15th, Georgia's 16th.
The Tigers remain the only three-loss team in either poll, showing a certain amount of respect for their rigorous schedule. But would you blame the Tigers for wondering if the gap between themselves and the Gamecocks ought to be nine slots when the Tigers have the head-to-head win in Columbia and the difference in win-loss can be chalked up exclusively to Auburn playing Clemson out-of-conference while SC was taking on East Carolina, Navy and the like? And as for why TCU is a spot above the Tigers in the coaches -- when their best win is Air Force and their losses are to Baylor and SMU -- we don't really have a clue.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:04 pm
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
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Boise State
They don't play anybody is the familiar refrain when it comes to the Broncos but all they do win and win and win some more. They beat UNLV this week to remain undefeated ahead of their showdown against TCU. Their best win, Georgia, is set to win the SEC East and play in the SEC championship game and Boise State could have eight or more bowl teams on the schedule by the end of the year. I get that they'll always be the little guy but this year the little guy has a great team. If you can't recognize that, sorry.
Overrated: Virginia Tech
There are plenty of overrated teams in the top 25, but Virginia Tech at #10/#9 is right up there. They moved into the spot largely by default thanks to losses ahead of them. Their schedule is weak (non-conference games against Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall) and they struggled to beat Duke in their last game. The close win over Miami looks better in retrospect but scoring just three points on Clemson's defense at home does not. If they beat Georgia Tech they'll solidify their place in the top 15 but they really don't have a signature win and won't get one unless they beat someone in a bowl game.
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.
Going to run into Wilner this week, might tell him how I almost put him in this section but went with Wolf instead. Why Wolf? He's the only person in the country that has Boise State #1. I like the Broncos, but there's no reason to put them as the best team in the country given what LSU has done. He also has Wisconsin unranked, Houston 19th, Auburn ranked #13 and Michigan State 12th.
What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant
The Coaches put Virginia Tech ahead of Clemson, even though the Tigers own the head-to-head win. Desmond Conner, or the 13 other AP voters who ranked the loser ahead of the winner, did the same thing. The case can't be made to rank one ahead of the other considering 1) Clemson beat Virginia Tech 2) Clemson has wins over Auburn and Florida State while Virginia Tech's best is probably over Miami. Conner managed to rank the Hokies EIGHT spots ahead of Clemson, who he had all the way down at 17th. Goodness.
Tags: ACC, AP Poll, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Clemson, Coaches Poll, Desmond Conner, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, Gary Parrish, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harris Poll, Houston, Marshall, Miami, Michigan State, Pac-12, Poll Attacks, Poll Attacks Week 10, Poll Reactions, Scott Wolf, SEC, TCU, The Poll Attacks, UNLV, Virginia Tech, Week 10, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Could the SEC take the plunge with a nine-game schedule in 2012? The league says no. But South Carolina president Harris Pastides says yes.
Pastides told the Carolina student newspaper the Daily Gamecock that the SEC had agreed to play a nine-game conference schedule as soon as next season, with each team playing the full six-team divisional round robin (as mandated by NCAA bylaws) and three cross-divisional games.
Since that would require each SEC team to drop a nonconference opponent from their schedule, Pastides said a plan had been put into place for the conference to reimburse schools for the costs of buying out that nonconference game. That same plan was also indepently reported by the Sporting News' Matt Hayes.
But if SEC public relations official, Charles Bloom is to be believed, a nine-game schedule would be news to the conference itself. Not long after the Pastidies interview went public, Bloom tweeted the following:
Not a lot of interpretative wiggle room in that statement, is there?
So: who's telling the truth? Speaking as fans of interesting, traditional cross-divisional games like Auburn-Tennessee or LSU-Georgia -- is anyone not? -- it would be nice if Pastides was; on an eight-game schedule, six divisional games and one protected crossover game means just one slot available for rotating through the other six cross-divisional opponents. Like the past two years' worth of meetings between Alabama and Florida? Sure hope so, because under the eight-game plan you won't see the Tide and Gators play again for 10 years.
But we're expecting that's the plan the SEC is adopting anyway. Nine games means one fewer nonconference game and one fewer revenue-generating home game every other year, and that's assuming you're talking about a team with four home games to start with; with Florida's annual home-and-home rivalry with Florida State and the neutral site game vs. Georgia, it's conceivable the Gators would play just five home games in a year. They won't go for that, and it's doubtful other SEC teams with important nonconference rivalries (Carolina vs. Clemson, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech) would either. Reports were rampant Monday morning that SEC A.D.'s and coaches were unilaterally opposed to a nine-game slate, and that's 100 percent what we would expect.
So until Mike Slive himself confirms that Pastides and the other presidents have strong-armed their schools into the nine-game plan, don't get your hopes up for it. The money says eight is better, and the money usually gets what it wants.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A little over halfway through Saturday's showdown in Tuscaloosa it became clear, this wasn't the game of the century it had been built up to be. While that superlatives will be saved for another big game down the road, what transpired at Bryant-Denny Stadium was something else: the slugfest of the century.
For some, the defense being played was marvelous. Morris Claiborne solidified himself as one of the top corners in the country with an interception and Eric Reid showed what it takes to win a game of this magnitude by wrestling for, and eventually coming down with, a pick near the goal line after the Tide tried a trick play to tight end Michael Williams.
The defense was so good on both sides that the MVP in a losing effort for Alabama had to be the offensive line, which was great at handling the pressure from LSU's front for four quarters - they seemed to fall apart a little in overtime.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, a longtime assistant in the SEC, said after the game that this was "the most physical, hard-fought game he's ever been involved with."
With a fifth of the televisions in use on Saturday tuned to CBS for the game, I was quite surprised at how many lambasted the game afterward. Sure, there was a lack of crossing the goal line and way too many field goals for most people but that was the result of the defenses being so good. Both teams were able to move the ball, the defenses just tightened once they moved closer to the red zone.
As my colleague Tom Fornelli said to me, this game was all about deciding what fans liked college football and what fans just like touchdowns. Some compared it to a great pitchers duel in baseball but that would be unfair. The beauty of playing defense might have been lost by some but the battles in the trenches and in the secondary said Saturday was a masterpiece.
The Crimson Tide finished with 295 yards, the Tigers ended up winning with just 239. Alabama came into the game 23rd in the country in offense at 457 yards/game and had the best running back in the country in Trent Richardson. Despite not moving the ball well on offense, LSU came in 15th in scoring offense. That's just how good both teams were on the side of the ball - defense - that ultimately decided the game.
It would be interesting to see how much Miles' strategy would have changed had Alabama hit just one of their three missed field goals. Would we have seen one of his famous trick plays? I wouldn't exactly say 'The Hat' Les Miles out-coached Nick Saban since both adjusted conservatively but there's no question that Miles made decisions more inline with how the game was going, such as running Jordan Jefferson more than what the game plan likely called for.
Despite all the 'what ifs' that will be dissected over the coming days (and weeks and months and years), we're left with just one fact: LSU was better than Alabama Saturday night. If they were to play again for the BCS championship, what happened between the two teams would invalidate the very crutch - every week is a playoff - BCS supporters use to support their cartel of a system. If we just saw a playoff game, the Tide need to be thinking about a trip to a bowl game and not the title game.
In post game interviews, Miles was inviting of a rematch - perhaps knowing that knocking off Saban and the Tide another time on their way to picking of the crystal football would mean this LSU team could be considered among the greatest to play the game. The players too, were living in the moment and inviting LSU-Alabama II in New Orleans.
"That game should've been on pay-per-view," Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery said. "I think the world wants a rematch, honestly. It would be lovely to play such a great team out there again."
My colleague Bruce Feldman, who was in Tuscaloosa, discussed the rematch issue in The Big Picture, as did BCS guru Jerry Palm.
As we sit here on week 10 trying to digest what happened on Saturday, it good to lay down what we do know in the race for the national title.
1. There is A LOT of football remaining. LSU plays a top 10 team in Arkansas to end the season as well as the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Alabama has the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Oklahoma State ends with Bedlam against Oklahoma. Stanford plays Oregon and Boise State takes on TCU this week. We don't have a great system in the BCS but it was it is so "the race" is going to chance course several times between now and mid-December.
2. If Stanford beats Oregon, they'll move past Alabama in the BCS standings. If Oklahoma State wins out, they'll play in the championship game. Boise State needs help in droves.
3. Though Houston has moved as high as 11th in the rankings but are still a long shot at playing in a BCS bowl because Boise State is the highest ranked non-AQ school. It's doubtful the Bowls would pick the Cougars as an at-large team with fan bases such as Oklahoma likely qualifying.
4. The bowl tie-ins are ACC-Orange Bowl, Big Ten/Pac-12-Rose Bowl, Big 12-Fiesta Bowl, SEC-Sugar Bowl. The Bowl that loses the #1 team will have first pick of the replacements, followed by the bowl that loses the #2 team. The order after that is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange. There's a chance we could see some juicy match ups as a result (Oklahoma-Boise State rematch anyone?).
5. Want pure chaos? Arkansas beats LSU and Georgia pulls off an upset in Atlanta, forcing Alabama or LSU to miss a BCS game. Oregon beats Stanford, only to lose to USC and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State to leave just Boise State and Houston as the lone undefeated teams. It's all unlikely but stranger things have happened. It also might be the only chance the men from the blue turf have to play for a title in New Orleans.
6. The game of the century did not occur last Saturday in Tuscaloosa but it was still a fantastic regular season game. A rematch would devalue the game, forcing LSU to beat Alabama twice for a national title while the Tide only needs to win once (in New Orleans). If we could have best two out of three, that'd be great but we're stuck with our current predicament.
Buckle up and get ready, it's going to a fun and bumpy road to New Orleans.
Stat of the week
To say the Big 12, and the state of Kansas in particular, is not very good at defense might be an understatement. To say they like offense in the state of Oklahoma, likewise, might be an understatement. Consider this: of the 10 best games rushing this season (net yards gained), three have come against a Big 12 team. Strip out non-BCS opponents and it becomes three of the top five, including Kansas giving up the most a game this season on the ground when Georgia Tech rushed for 604 yards. Of the top 10 passing games (net yards gained), four of the top 10 have come against a Big 12 defense, including four of the top five. Kansas and Kansas State find themselves on the two lists a grand total of five times, one reason why the Jayhawks are dead last in defense.
Thanks to playing the Oklahoma schools in back-to-back weeks, Kansas State has dropped from 29th in total defense to 78th. Half of the Big 12 is in the top 10 in the country in total offense and Texas Tech is 11th. Needless to say, it's not fun being a defensive coordinator in the conference.
Stats of the week
- Stanford remains perfect in the red zone this season, getting points out of all 52 trips. They've scored a touchdown all but 11 times and there's only one team that has been inside the 20 more often (Oklahoma State). LSU is second in red zone efficiency, scoring on 41 of 42 trips. The Cardinal are also third in the country in red zone defense, allowing a score 16 times out of 24 attempts.
- Oklahoma is tied with Stanford for fewest sacks given up with just four all year. Of course, the Sooners have dropped back 128 more times.
- The top three active career leaders for rushing touchdowns are all juniors. Temple's Bernard Pierce has 45, Oregon's LaMichael James has 44 and Wisconsin's Montee Ball has 43. The NCAA FBS record is 73.
- Both Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and Idaho kicker Trey Farquhar hit 55-yard field goals right before halftime this week, which tie for the second longest of the season.
- Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning's pass to Torieal Gibson resulted in a 94 yard touchdown against Eastern Michigan, the longest pass play of the year. There have been four runs longer than that this season.
- Matt Barkley passed for a school-record six touchdowns in his game against Colorado on Friday. He also moved into 10th on the FBS active career list for touchdowns thrown with 69.
- Alabama still has yet to trail this season in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th quarter. LSU has trailed at the end of just two quarters all year.
- Since building a 31-7 lead on Oklahoma in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech has been outscored 124-37.
- This was the first time Texas has rushed for five touchdowns in back-to-back games since 2005.
- Weird quirk from Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Washington's tight ends had three catches for -5 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.
- It didn't have the hype but the most thrilling game Saturday night was in Stillwater. Brandon Weeden threw a school-record 502 yards and had an answer for every late Kansas State score to escape with a 52-45 win. The defense, who seems to take shots from just about everybody in the game and outside it, held on with a goal line stand to prevent the tying score. Kansas State has taken some lumps in back-to-back weeks by stopping three straight passes with seconds left on the clock. It will get overshadowed given the loss but you have to be impressed with the play of KSU quarterback Collin Klein this season. He's been solid in the passing game and is as tough of a runner as you'll find at the position.
- Hats off to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA for fighting and clawing their way (as some Bruins said) to an upset of Arizona State at the Rose Bowl to, gasp, control their own fate in the Pac-12 South. Thanks to a "here's what we're made of" five minute drive to score a go ahead touchdown, it almost looked like the Bruins defense were going to allow the Sun Devils to get a decent field goal shot off. Alex Garoutte's 46-yarder fell short though and an exuberant sideline of powder blues jumped for joy. A lot of people have counted Neuheisel out, especially after the debacle at Arizona, but he still put his team in a position to win and they finally seized it. The loss was the latest in a line of head scratchers for Dennis Erickson, who seems to lose this type of game every year at ASU. Without a decent South team this year, it's looking very much like a two team league.
- There was another top 10 match up in the SEC that seemed to be the third wheel Saturday night as Arkansas beat South Carolina 44-28. It was surprising to see the Razorbacks put together a solid first half, something they really hadn't done against a decent opponent this season, before pulling away late thanks in part to special teams and defense. South Carolina had just 49 yards heading into the locker room but Connor Shaw led a late comeback in the third quarter until being knocked out with a concussion. The Gamecocks have a good defense and for Bobby Petrino's squad to hang 44 on them is certainly a statement that you can't forget about the Hogs at the end of the season when they play LSU.
- After dropping a game to lowly Minnesota, hardly anybody but the most hopeful Hawkeye faithful gave Iowa a chance against Michigan. Yet the defense was vintage, bottling up Denard Robinson all day, and Marcus Coker looked like a man on a mission while rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines had a chance to force overtime from the 3-yard line but four straight passes couldn't be snagged and Iowa ran off the field in celebration. "They showed a lot of heart," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. Given who they lost to the previous week, it's difficult to tell what Iowa football is this season outside of being a big of Jekyll and Hyde. For Brady Hoke and Michigan, it appears the tougher schedule and move to a pro-style offense is finally catching up. The difference between passing in Rich Rodriguez' system and passing in Al Borges' cannot be understated. Robinson has been conditioned with certain timing for years and now is being asked to change it to match the current system. If you're looking for the reason why the junior is having problems (53% passing, 13-12 TD-INT ratio this season), look no further than a round (quarterback) being in a square hole (system).
- Bryan Harsin came into Austin with designs of transforming Texas' offense and it appears he is doing so, surprisingly, on the ground. In the past two seasons the Longhorns had just five games where they rushed for more than 200 yards; Saturday's win over Texas Tech was the fifth time they topped the mark this season. In a 52-20 win, Texas' 439 yards rushing against Texas Tech were the 4th-most against a BCS opponent this season. They've racked up 880 yards on the ground the past two games against sub-par defenses but it will be interesting to see if they can keep running the ball consistently the rest of the season. Given their youth on both sides of the ball - they've play 18 true freshmen - it's a good bet that they'll try and keep it up. Either way, there's a new coordinator and a new way of doing business on the 40 acres.
- Charlie Strong has one of the youngest teams in the Big East but they're rounding into form and it paid off with a huge upset of West Virginia that was extra personal given that the school was largely seen to be invited by the Big 12 over Louisville. Frosh QB Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown and special teams came up huge with a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. It was a complete and satisfying victory for the Cardinals. "I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Strong. "We knew we had to play well. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win." After the win, Strong ended up crowd surfing among his players in the locker room and the team, taking an added jab at the loser, sang John Denver's "Country Roads."
- The upset of the week comes courtesy of an NU on NU crime. With designs of making it to Indianapolis for the title game, Nebraska was upset by Northwestern despite Dan Persa standing on the sidelines. The Wildcats have not been great this season but they just kept coming through on defense, hanging on 28-25 for their first top 10 win in some time. "A great program win for us," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "To come on the road and put together our most complete game of the year. ... Not perfect. Not a work of art. There are some things we can correct."
- Not sure anybody has raised his NFL stock more than USC quarterback Matt Barkley? He played well in his showdown against Andrew Luck and then followed it up with a school-record six touchdown passes against Colorado despite a few drops from his wide outs. No, the Buffs aren't that good but thanks in large part to the through and through California kid Barkley, USC is a solid top 20 team. The defense is still the link week but outside of a trip to Eugene, it's likely they'll win out - especially if they can get healthier. Colorado, meanwhile, is so bad they're a double-digit favorite at home to a 2-7 team that lost their head coach.
- Small story that went way under the radar Saturday but kudos for Paul Pasqualoni for knocking off Syracuse to give UConn their fifth straight victory in the series. It meant a little more for Pasqualoni than others, who was head coach of the Orange for 14 years before being fired after winning four Big East titles and nine bowl trips. The Huskies defense played a big part, forcing several turnovers and holding despite the offense's own issues. Despite much talent at all, Pasqualoni has kept hopes alive for another winning season in Storrs.
- Kellen Moore is now 46-2 as a starter, more wins than any other FBS quarterback and an amazing accomplishment for a guy that no one outside of Idaho would even think is a major college quarterback if he was walking down the street. The Broncos saw a few different looks they weren't expecting from UNLV and led by just seven at halftime before pulling away late in the 4th quarter. As it stands now, Moore has an impressive 128 touchdowns against just 24 interceptions.
- As good of a slate as this week was, it was definitely a week filled with MACtion. Tuesday's Toledo-Northern Illinois game was 7-on-7 in pads it seemed like, with NIU prevailing in an entertaining 63-60 win that included 1,121 total yards (and back-to-back kick returns by the Huskies' Tommylee Lewis (great name) to open the game). One of the most underrated players in the country, Toledo's Eric Page also caught five touchdowns and had to be screaming when coach Tim Beckham didn't call any of his timeouts as NIU drove for the game winning touchdown pass. Then there was Ohio's 35-31 win over Temple to take control of the MAC East after a touchdown to win with less than two minutes on the clock. Thursday's Miami of Ohio romp over Akron wasn't anything to write home about but Central Michigan missed a final play field goal from 28 yards out to allow Kent State to win on Friday. Finally, on Saturday, Steven Schott hit a 44-yard field goal to put Ball State ahead of Eastern Michigan 33-31 with seconds left on the clock. MACtion indeed.
- Remarkable stat from Bruce Feldman, Lamar Miller became Miami's first 1,000-yard back since 2002 (Willis McGahee), a stretch of five different offensive coordinators. Although the 5-4 Hurricanes has dealt with a lot on and off the field, you have to give credit to OC Jedd Fisch and Al Golden. Much maligned quarterback Jacory Harris has been playing as well as he has at any point in his career and probably better than that. The senior is remarkably sixth in the country in passing efficiency, right behind Andrew Luck, with an impressive 18-4 touchdown-interception ratio. Miami has been in every game they've played with the four losses coming by 22 points. Saturday's 49-14 thrashing of Duke put them one win away from bowl eligibility ahead of this week's rivalry game at Florida State.
- It's always fun to catch the late night WAC games involving Hawaii, after a long day of watching college football it always seems to be an interesting way to cap it off. Utah State managed to beat the Warriors 35-31 thanks to a last minute drive. Hilariously, one of the keys to the game that the third-rate announcers brought up at the end was the late Andy Rooney (to play, they said, 60 minutes). Can't make that up.
Tweet of the week
"So Fox Sports MW is electing to show California HS football instead of Kansas-Iowa State."
- Bill Connelly, writer for SB Nation and Football Outsiders.
Note: Last week was the fourth in a row that my 10th ranked team lost (sorry Nebraska fans), perhaps that will give Georgia Tech some hope on Thursday at home.
2. Oklahoma State
5. Boise State
10. Virginia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Senior writer Dennis Dodd and I will be in Palo Alto to catch the Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Stanford. Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will be between the hedges to catch Auburn at Georgia. Brett McMurphy will head to State College to see Nebraska at Penn State.
Leaning this way
TCU at Boise State
Before the season, people were circling this game as perhaps the Broncos toughest test. There was the added issue of the game being moved by the Mountain West from Ft. Worth to Boise as a parting gift for the Horned Frogs. At 7-2 with issues on both sides of the ball, TCU is solid this season but it's not the team we've seen the past couple of years. Boise State, meanwhile, has gotten off to some slow starts and will still need to take care of business. This could be closer than most people think but expect the home team to come out victoriously.
Auburn at Georgia
The Bulldogs put up an impressive 42 points in one quarter against the lowly New Mexico State Aggies but the competition will pick up a bit this week with Auburn rolling into town. Aaron Murray continues to come along at quarterback and Georgia should be at full strength after dealing with a few suspensions. It will be tough for Auburn to pull of the upset in this one as Georgia continues their march for Atlanta.
Oregon at Stanford
The Game of the Century, West of the Rockies Edition can be found in Palo Alto, with two top-six ranked teams squaring off. Stanford gave Oregon a scare last year before faltering in the second half and, given the injuries on both sides of the ball, it wouldn't be shocking to see the same thing happen again this year. The Ducks aren't quite as sharp as they were last season but they're capable of knocking off Andrew Luck and company.
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Akron, Al Borges, Al Golden, Alabama, Alex Garoutte, Andrew Luck, Andy Rooney, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Ball State, Ball State, BCS, Bedlam, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big Ten, bill Connelly, Bob Condotta, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Caleb Sturgis, Central Michigan, Charlie Strong, Clemson, Collin Klein, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Eric Page, Eric Reid, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Iowa, Iron Bowl, Jacory Harris, Jedd Fisch, Jerry Palm, John Chavis, John Denver, Kansas, Kansas State, Keith Wenning, Kellen Moore, Kent State, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, Marcus Coker, Matt Barkley, Miami, Miami of Ohio, Michael Williams, Michigan, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Pasqualoni, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Sam Montgomery, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Schott, Sugar Bowl, Surveying the Field, Syracuse, TCU, Teddy Bridgewater, Temple, Texas, Texas Tech, Tim Beckham, Toledo, Tom Fornelli, Tommylee Lewis, Tony Barnhart, Torieal Gibson, Trent Richardson, Trey Farquhar, UCLA, UConn, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, West Virginia, Willis McGahee, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 6, 2011 9:11 pm
Posted by Eye On College Football
On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. LSU is now an unquestioned number one, but now the huge story is Alabama falling from No. 2... all the way to No. 3, ahead of not only Boise State but also Stanford. That might not hold up for more than a week, but it's the situation right now.
You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.
1. LSU: LSU is number one, no questions asked, and only a loss could possibly keep the Tigers out of BCS contention -- and even then, LSU would be a major contender for the BCS Title. That's not to say that it doesn't matter if LSU beats Arkansas or not, obviously, but it does demonstrate just how powerful LSU's perch is here atop the BCS standings with three weeks and the conference championships still yet to play out. - Adam Jacobi
2. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are right where they want to be. It's going to be impossible to pass LSU at this point barring a loss, but whether the #1 or #2 is next to your name in the BCS standings, all that matters is your in line to play for a BCS championship. Still, Oklahoma State has a long way to go with games left against Texas Tech and Iowa State on the road, not to mention Bedlam. - Tom Fornelli
3. Alabama: Losing to the top-ranked team in the nation in overtime might be devastating for fans, but it sure has a nice effect on a team's strength of schedule, which is why we see Alabama staying so high in the polls. Now, this designation of Alabama over Stanford isn't nearly as important as what the BCS decides next week, after Stanford potentially has a win over Oregon on its resume. Then and only then will we get a good sense of how close we are to a Bama-LSU rematch. - AJ
4. Stanford: The Cardinal went up to Oregon State and took care of business but suffered two big blows with the loss of wide receiver Chris Owusu (concussion) and tight end Levine Toilolo (upper body). That could be a big factor this week as Oregon comes to Palo Alto in what is the game of the year West of the Rockies. Stanford still has the best player in college football in Andrew Luck and are looking to solidify their hold on the #2 spot with a win. - Bryan Fischer
5. Boise State: Well, it looks like the Broncos will have to resign themselves to another possible unbeaten season ending in the wrong BCS bowl game. In order for Boise State to reach the top two it needs a lot of teams ahead of it to fall, and considering that Alabama has already lost and is STILL (italicize) two spots ahead of it in the standings, that's not a good sign for the Broncos. The possible good news is that with Georgia now being the favorite in the SEC East and TCU beginning to climb into the rankings, there's a chance Boise's schedule strength could give them a bump. - TF
6. Oklahoma: Some bad news for Oklahoma if they were hoping to be a one-loss team qualifying for the BCS title game: Alabama has a loss and only fell to third. Which means that if Oklahoma wins out it's probably going to need Stanford and maybe Boise State to fall, along with another loss from Alabama. Worse yet, the ACL injury to Ryan Broyles makes beating Oklahoma State at Bedlam even tougher. - TF
7. Oregon: Though they're not the highest ranked one-loss team, that could change with a win on Saturday against Stanford. LaMichael James put together a solid game against Washington as he continues to return from injury but the encouraging sign for Ducks fans had to be the play of the defense. The team hasn't really been tested since the opener but that will change this week in a game that essentially determines the Pac-12 champion. - BF
8: Arkansas: Want to see chaos befall the SEC and BCS system? Watch to see what happens if Arkansas somehow goes into Death Valley and upsets LSU. We'd be at a three-way tie in the SEC West (assuming everybody wins out), and each of the three teams would have a legitimate argument to make for getting to the SEC Championship -- and then, potentially, the BCS Championship. Yes, Arkansas at No. 8 means the Razorbacks would need a lot of help from pollsters ascending this ladder, but again, we're talking about if they win at LSU; voters would certainly take notice. - AJ
9. Clemson: While the Tigers' BCS title hopes were crushed in the loss against Georgia Tech, Clemson still has plenty to play for in the ACC Atlantic Division. Winning out in conference play would lock up the division and give them a shot to claim their first conference championship since 1991. For a team that plays 20+ redshirt or true freshman per game, that would not be a bad building block for the next few seasons. - Chip Patterson
10. Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech is lucky to still be collecting votes after their 14-10 squeaker against Duke two weeks ago. But the off week has given the Hokies a chance to hit the reset button before arguably their biggest game of the season. Virginia Tech will travel to Atlanta on a Thursday, and try to avoid the same trap that caught Clemson. A win should give Virginia Tech control of the ACC Coastal Division, a loss and the Yellow Jackets become part of the picture. - CP
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, BCS, BCS Rankings, BCS Reactions, BCS Standings, Big 12, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Chris Owusu, Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, LaMichael James, Levine Toilolo, LSU, Mountain West, MWC, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Ryan Broyles, SEC, SEC Tiebreaker, Stanford, TCU, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Virginia Tech
Posted on: November 6, 2011 2:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
But the stakes were so high for their win over Alabama, the rewards so lavish, that there's no real need to split those kind of hairs. LSU will now be the unquestioned, unanimous No. 1 team in the nation in every available poll, BCS standings included; they are only two games away from clinching the SEC West championship, one of which is against a team that's lost 12 straight SEC games and the other at home against a team whose last two road trips ended in death-defying escapes from that same 12-game losing streak team and Vanderbilt; they are three SEC games, then, from playing for the national championship in their own home state, at the same site where they won it in 2003 and 2007. And they accomplished all of that by defeating what might be their bitterest rival's best team in 20 years in that rival's own stadium and forced their forme head coach under the .500 mark against their current head coach. It's 100 percent possible LSU just cleared the highest hurdle between themselves and the national championship and did so in the sweetest possible fashion.
Not bad for 60-plus minutes of work.
LOSER: "Make his ass quit."
But in recent big games, the Tide have been strangely unable to force anyone on the other side to "quit"--and in fact, have come closer to doing it themselves. There was the fourth-quarter failures against LSU in Baton Rouge last season. Then the fall from 24 points ahead against Auburn. And tonight, there was this in the second half: five first downs, 104 yards, two turnovers and three three-and-outs, the last of which was the disastrous overtime possession which covered minus-10 yards. LSU did next-to-nothing on offense in regulation too, of course, but in overtime their Jordan Jefferson/Michael Ford speed option still worked as well as it ever did.
Result: another championship-level game in which it was the other team outplaying the Tide over the final 30 minutes-plus and walking off the winners. It's not conditioning (we have little doubt every team at this level is as fit as they're going to be), but those second-half woes are something Saban's going to have to figure out all the same if he wants his teams hoisting trophies again.
WINNER: the Baton Rouge ticket market.
The stipulation was always that the best scenario for a rematch was for Alabama to win a narrow, competitive game over the Tigers that left voters wondering what would happen on a neutral field. We got the "narrow, competitive game" part, but voters won't need to see LSU on a neutral field ... since they've already beaten the Tide on Bryant-Denny Stadium's highly hostile field. Beyond that, while the first half featured plenty of smart offensive football countered only by outstanding defense, the second more often seemed like a sloppy, grind-it-out affair with neither team taking much in the way of offensive risks or producing anything resembling attacking "flair." Aesthetic value shouldn't play a part when deciding who gets to play for a national title, but voters are human all the same--and they may not be thrilled by the prospect of a second touchdown-less meeting.
WINNER: Joker Phillips.
There were more than a few people who saw Kentucky's opening-week slog against Western Kentucky, their wipeout against Florida, the epic pratfall at South Carolina, and pegged them for an 0-8 season in the SEC. Even as recently as last week, a dispiriting double-digit home loss to Mississippi State didn't suggest a corner was about to be turned.
But Phillips kept his team believing, and Saturday they comprehensively outplayed an Ole Miss team that -- at the very least -- has more offensive playmakers and comparable defensive talent. No one, Phillips included, would claim he's done a great coaching job this season, but likewise no one would argue he and his staff didn't badly outprepare the staff on the opposite sideline.
LOSER: Pete Boone.
Whether he chooses between them now or at the end of what will likely be an 0-8 SEC campaign, the Ole Miss athletic director has two choices ahead of him after today's Rebel loss in Lexington: he can either stand behind Houston Nutt and make his own less-than-popular hold on the AD's chair that much less popular, or he can swallow Nutt's gigantic contractual bullet and go in search of a new coach even as he also fundraises for a new basketball facility and other capital improvements. Before today, Boone could entertain the possibility that a big finish by Nutt would allow him to put the ax away for at least one more year and still save face. Not any more--Nutt will enter 2012 as a virtual lame duck, or employed somewhere else, and there's nothing else Boone can realistically hope for any longer.
WINNER: Jeff Demps.
For weeks, Demps has been nagged by various injuries. And not coincidentally -- though God knows the Gators' issues weren't that simple -- for weeks the Gators' ground game has all the effectiveness of the proverbial submarine's screen door. Against Vanderbilt, Demps finally looked like his old self, and not just on the juke-the-first-tackler-out-of-his-j
LOSERS: Mark Richt's circadian rhythms.
That's not to say, of course, that Richt wouldn't take having his team control its own destiny in a heartbeat over the alternative. But we're guessing there's a few more exhausted stares at the digital clock at 2:47 a.m. this week, too, now that Richt knows the fallout from a loss will be greater than ever.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Dennis Johnson, Florida, Georgia, Houston Nutt, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, LSU, Mark Richt, Michael Ford, Mike Gillislee, Mississippi State, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, SEC, SEC Winners and Losers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky