Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:55 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier on Friday we saw Auburn have to overcome a 24-point deficit on the road against Alabama. Now it seems there's another undefeated team with a comeback to mount in the second half tonight.
Though Oregon doesn't face quite the uphill battle Auburn did. The Ducks trail Arizona 19-14 at haltime in Autzen Stadium in a game that has seen its share of big plays, turnovers, questionable calls and even a safety. One of those questionable calls also led to an injury for Oregon's Heisman candidate LaMichael James.
James took a blow to the head and coughed up the football on a draw play in the second quarter. Arizona's Adam Hall lowered his shoulder into James' head and delivered a jarring blow, in which the helmets of both players collided. Well, the refs just saw two helmets hit each other and called a personal foul on Hall, even though it was his shoulder that made the initial contact.
Oregon would get a first down, but fumble the ball a few plays later, negating the bad call. Still, more importantly, James had to leave the game and though the Ducks never got the ball back in the half, he was last seen standing on the sideline without his helmet. His status for the rest of the game is unknown at this point.
Still, a five-point deficit isn't exactly anything that is going to intimidate the Ducks. Second half explosions have become a habit for Chip Kelly's team this season, and I wouldn't be shocked to see another one tonight. For now, though, you know there are more than a few people at Boise State and TCU hoping that Arizona can pull this off.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 1:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Here's a story for those of you who are sick and tired of hearing about Cam Newton and the NCAA's investigation into his recruitment after leaving Florida and ending up at Auburn. Turns out that Mr. Newton isn't the only Heisman contender whom the NCAA has taken a special interest in this season. According to a story in the Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, the NCAA took a look at Oregon running back LaMichael James earlier this season as well.
Apparently they were wondering where James came across the 2003 Range Rover that he started driving earlier this season.
Questions about how James acquired his white luxury ride prompted Angie Cretors, NCAA assistant director for agent, gambling and amateurism activities, to fly to Portland to investigate. She met early this month with Pernell Brown, a local gang-outreach worker who describes himself as James’ “uncle.”
Brown also went on to say that he is not an agent, nor does he have any plans to become an agent. He also said he's never bought James anything, be it shoes, a shirt or anything because he doesn't have the money. Obviously it seems that the NCAA buys the story, as James was never subjected to any kind of punishment for driving the Range Rover.
In fact, while the NCAA won't comment on the investigation per its usual policy, Oregon says they believe that James has already been cleared of any wrong doing.
As for that stalker, maybe he was just stalking the car?
Posted on: November 22, 2010 6:04 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 7:06 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Here are your three finalists for the 2010 Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back:
This process seems to be little more than a formality, as James is currently the nation's top yards-per-game rusher leading the nation's top-scoring offense on the nation's top-ranked team. If he doesn't win this award, there should be an immediate federal investigation. I am only mostly kidding.
The big question, of course, is what in the world is Clay doing on this list? Yes, he has missed two games, so his overall totals are going to be a bit underwhelming. But even taking that into account, Clay is only 19th in the nation (17th among running backs) in rushing yards per game; he's outperformed by Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, and many other tailbacks. Clay's barely even the most productive running back on his own team; freshman teammate James White has 34 fewer yards on 44 fewer carries, and just as many rushing touchdowns. And teammate Montee Ball is currently outperforming both of them; in the three November games played thus far, Ball has rushed for 467 yards and nine scores.
Yes, Wisconsin's rushing game is a thing of terrible beauty at times, and it warrants praise and recognition, but this isn't a team award. And even if it's a deadbolt lock that LaMichael James takes this trophy home in December, it still would have been nice of the committee to offer up three actually worthy candidates.
Tags: 2010 Doak Walker, 2010 Doak Walker Finalists, Doak Walker Award, Doak Walker Finalists, James White, John Clay, John Clay Doak Walker, Kendall Hunter, Kendall Hunter Doak Walker, LaMichael James, LaMichael James Doak Walker, Marcus Lattimore, Mikel LeShoure, Montee Ball, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 22, 2010 3:14 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Oregon took the field Sunday for their first open practice since squeezing out a two point victory over the Golden Bears in Berkley a week ago. The media was quick to locate #21, who could be found back on the practice field -- though the star back was limited in action. Starting running back and Heisman contender LaMichael James left the stadium on crutches with his left foot in a boot, but is not listed on the official Oregon injury report for Arizona. James promises that he will be on the field in Autzen Stadium when the Ducks take on the 21st-ranked Wildcats the day after Thanksgiving. Head coach Chip Kelly also did not seem concerned about James' status. When it comes to these last games for the Ducks, it does not seem like anyone is ready to be conservative.
“He’s a tough sucker,” Kelly said regarding James after practice on Sunday. “He’ll be ready to play.” James admitted himself there was a little bit of pain in the limited activity, but guessed that he should be ready to go in a few days.
Sitting in first place of both polls and the BCS Standings, the Ducks are two victories from their first-ever BCS National Championship Game appearance. Unfortunately for the Ducks, the last two games on the schedule present arguably the biggest threats to their potentially-historic season. Arizona will be seeking redemption for not closing the Ducks out a year ago in Tuscon. Leading 31-24, the Arizona defense had Jeremiah Masoli and the Ducks cornered at the 23 yard line with 4th and 5. Thousands of red-clad fans literally surrounded the field ready to celebrate the upset, but they watched Masoli fire off three straight completions to score the game-tying touchdown with just six seconds remaining. That kind of heartbreak is not easily forgotten, and the Wildcats will show up looking to spoil Oregon's celebration on Friday.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 3:02 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 3:06 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Oregon tailback (and surefire Heisman candidate) LaMichael James turned in a rather subdued performance in Oregon's 15-13 win over the California Golden Bears, rushing for only 91 yards on 29 carries. James also failed to reach the end zone for the first time all season, as the entire Oregon offense failed to kick into the high gear that we're accustomed to seeing. Still, James was a workhorse, and neither 29 rushes nor 91 yards are to be scoffed at.
Thus, it was a surprise to see James hobble off the field after the final gun, and using crutches when talking with reporters after the game on Saturday, but according to OregonLive.com, the Oregon tailback insists he'll be fine.
Fortunately, the Ducks have a bye week next Saturday, so any recovery he needs for whatever injury he's got (forgive us if we await a more official statement than "I pulled my hamstring jumping up and down") has a full two weeks to take place.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 1:36 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 1:37 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. Oregon can win ugly, too. To be fair to the Ducks, they weren't exactly dominated in their 15-13 win in Berkeley; they outgained Cal by more than 100 yards, held the Bears to 193 yards total and a miserable 2.5 yards per-pass, and only gave up a second touchdown on a Darron Thomas fumble in the end zone.
But they also scored their only first-half touchdown on a Cliff Harris punt return, averaged a stunningly weak 2.9 yards per-carry, eked out the final two-point margin by virtue of their made two-point try and Cal's failed attempt, and could have easily lost if not for Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio short-circuiting his own 24-yard field goal with a stutter-step procedure penalty and missing the subsequent 29-yard try. Every national title contender has to win games when they're not at their best, but Oregon was so far away from their best Saturday night they'd have to send it a postcard.
In the end, it didn't matter, as behind Thomas and a hobbled LaMichael James the Ducks changed philosophies on the fly to a clock-churning, yards-chewing ground-exclusive outfit that ate up the game's final 9:25 on one drive . That kind of versatility could prove to be the difference between a national champion and a slip-up before Glendale ... even if the Ducks would prefer not to have to put it to use again until there's a crystal football awarded to the victor.
2. Washington State should keep Paul Wulff. Let's be fair: the Cougars' rehabilitation, even after their 31-14 upset-of-the-Pac-10's year against Oregon State today, is progressing verrrrry ... sloooooooowly. One FBS win in 2008, that one over winless Washington. One in 2009, over SMU in overtime. Until today, none in 2010.
But that hasn't meant it hasn't been progressing at all . After getting totally obliterated on a weekly basis two years ago, the Cougars have been substantially more competitive this season: 42-28 vs. UCLA , 43-23 vs. Oregon, 38-28 vs. Stanford , 20-13 vs. Cal. You could see the game coming where the Cougars put everything together and took down some unsuspecting favorite. And that game came today: quarterback Jeff Tuel had the game of his career, hitting 10-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding 79 yards in the ground; the rest of a surprisingly productive run game chipped in 142 yards and three touchdowns; and the much-maligned Cougar defense forced three turnovers, hounded Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz into a quiet 12-for-21 performance, and held the Beavers to 261 yards overall. Unexpected as Wazzu's triumph might have been, especially coming in Corvallis, it was no fluke.
So maybe progress has been slow. But it's there. Wulff has Wazzu pointed in the right direction, and after today he deserves at least one more season to see how far in that direction he can go.
(As for the Beavers, well, TCU and Boise would like a refund, please.)
3. Arizona State is the Pac-10's hard-luck team. The Sun Devils have had a couple of games in which they outgained their opponent by wide margins and lost, but today wasn't one of them; visiting Stanford enjoyed a 420-268 yardage advantage. But this is still a team that lost at Wisconsin on a late missed extra point; gave away an excellent shot at a huge upset of Oregon with a flood of turnovers; lost to Oregon State when a late drive ended in an interception; to USC on a late missed field goal. You'd think that eventually Dennis Erickson 's team could buy a break, and when the Devils went up 13-10 late in the third quarter on a Steven Threet touchdown pass, it looked like that break might finally be coming.
But it wasn't: the Cardinal took over on their 15 and went 85 yards to score an Owen Marecic touchdown with just over five minutes remaining. ASU's following drive went nowhere, and Stanford picked up three first downs to ice the game. The Sun Devils have now played the BCS's Nos. 1, 6, and 7 teams and lost by a total of 16 points. But they'll still have to sweep their final two games vs. UCLA and at Arizona just to make a bowl game.
4. This isn't Mike Stoops' breakthrough season, either. Arizona has famously never been to the Rose Bowl, but even if Oregon made clear the Wildcats aren't getting there this year relatively early, Stoops could have still hoped for his first 10-win season and top-20 final ranking -- goals his team looked well on their way to fulfilling after their early-season win over Iowa .
Since then, though, the Wildcats have gone a ho-hum 4-3 with two of those wins over the Washington schools and the latest result a dispiriting 24-21 home loss to USC. The Trojans aren't a bad team by any means, but if the Wildcats want to be taken seriously as Pac-10 contenders, winning home games against their fellow upper-end-of-the-pack rivals (not to mention avoiding getting outrushed 205-51) is a step they'll have to take. Unless Arizona pulls a shocker in Eugene next weekend, eight regular season wins will be the ceiling.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 6:37 pm
Posted by College Football Blog staff
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that TCU would drop a 47-7 bomb on Utah last week? We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.
San Diego State plays the role of BCS spoiler by upsetting TCU in Fort Worth, 27-24. Andy Dalton struggles against an aggressive defense, and SDSU takes advantage of numerous turnovers to crack the TCU defensive wall. While Boise State fans squeal with glee at their new life in the BCS Championship Game race, the win solidifies Brady Hoke as the hottest coaching prospect in America. By Monday morning, Hoke has job offers from Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas. Yep: Texas. --Adam Jacobi
Highly UnlikelyIn Columbus, the Ohio State Buckeyes take on Penn State with their Big Ten title hopes still alive. Though PSU walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin has been somewhat impressive over the last few games, he hasn't faced a defense near the quality of Ohio State's -- and the Buckeyes know it. As a result, they're a bit over confident and are completely blindsided when McGloin explodes for 500 yards passing and six touchdowns as the Nittany Lions embarrass Ohio State 45-3. In a state of shock after the game, Jim Tressel completely breaks character and alleges that when Matt McGloin tried to walk on at Ohio State, he told the coaches he wouldn't play without a scholarship for less than $200,000. Ohio State refused, and then McGloin walked on at Penn State. "Do the math," says Tressel, and a media firestorm then ensues, leading to weeks of unnamed sources saying that McGloin might have taken or asked for money, but he also might not have. Nobody really knows, and no evidence is ever found, and McGloin and Penn State are never punished. Then the heads of all the BCS conferences meet in their secret lair and pat each other on the back for creating yet another diversion to keep everyone from talking about a playoff or bashing the BCS. --Tom Fornelli
Facing a Cal defense already torn to ribbons by the other funky, explosive rushing attack the Bears have faced this season (i.e, Nevada 's), LaMichael James, Darron Thomas, and the rest of Chip Kelly 's Oregon offense spend most of the first quarter in the highest gear imaginable, running with impunity and snapping the ball only seconds after it's set by the official. As the Bears wear down and offer even less resistance, the Ducks get faster and faster, quicker and quicker, until late in the second quarter (with the score already 51-3) the Ducks appear to violate one of the fundamental laws of the college football space-time continuum by snapping the ball before it's even been set. As Thomas is hauled down for a 32-yard gain on the ensuing play, fans notice that the Ducks' usual eye-searing uniforms are ... changing? Changing, into something even more eye-searing: they've gone plaid. In green-and-yellow, nonetheless.
The Cam Newton saga takes an incredible turn on Friday evening before the Tigers host Georgia. The NCAA informs Auburn that it is not Newton, but the rest of the offense which must sit out against the Bulldogs. Staring down less than 24 hours to replace an entire offense, head coach Gene Chizik is clueless. But not Newton. Cecil Newton finds a loophole in the NCAA rules (of course he does ), that allows his son to take the field with 10 members of the U12 Louisiana Blitz, a club soccer team from New Orleans. In the most bizarre Heisman moment in history, Newton and the middle schoolers put up 49 points on Georgia's defense. Newton throws for 200 yards, rushes for 200 yards, and catches a touchdown from the starting goalie just to prove a point. At the end of the game, Newton picks up a guitar and leads the entire stadium in a rendition of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler." Because, as Newton says, "That's funny to Cam." --Chip Patterson
Tags: Andy Dalton, Auburn, Boise State, California, Cam Newton, Cam Newton Investigation, Chip Kelly, Darron Thomas, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Gratuitous Movie References, Insane Predictions, Jim Tressel, Kenny Rogers, LaMichael James, Matt McGloin, Nevada, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, San Diego State, Spaceballs, TCU
Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:
WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.
All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .
So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?
Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.
Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.
They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Bednarik Award, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Denard Robinson, Dion Lewis, Ed Wesley, Iowa, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jay Finley, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Mark Ingram, Maxwell Award, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. Ryan Broyles, Oregon, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin, Ryan Mallett, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Tyrod Taylor, Vai Taua, Virginia Tech