Tag:Alabama
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:24 pm
 

PODCAST: Jerry Palm talks BCS

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Is LSU vs. Alabama for the national championship a done deal or isn't it? There's few people (if anyone) more qualified to answer that question than CBSSports.com BCS formula guru Jerry Palm, and in this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, Palm answers that exact question from our Adam Aizer. Also up for discussion: what impact a Georgia win in the SEC championship game might have on the overall BCS picture, whether Michigan can nab a BCS at-large berth after the Wolverines' big win over Ohio State, and what other teams might be able to sneak into the BCS backdoor in the final week of the season.

But wait ... there's more. Following Palm, our J. Darin Darst joins Aizer to talk over the week 13 that was: the rivalry wins, the lousy quarterback performances, the best five teams in the country regardless of record, and more. To listen, click below, download the mp3, or open the player in a separate browser window. You can read Jerry Palm's bowl projections here and his BCS blog here.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store. 

Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 13



Posted by Bryan Fischer


There's just something about a few helpings of turkey and some good old fashioned hate for a rival football team.

As the season winds down and, in most cases, ends for teams that don't qualify for a bowl game or conference championship, rivalry week is when many schools put all the eggs in the basket to go into the offseason knowing they went out on a high note.

Because of that, there was no better scene in college football this weekend than Lexington, Kentucky.

Despite using a wide receiver at quarterback due to injuries, Kentucky still managed to pull off a win against Tennessee for the first time since 1984. On the whole, it was a disappointing year but the win over the Volunteers will give the team something positive to think about in the offseason. That AD Mitch Barnhart announced that head coach Joker Phillips would be back for sure next season also added to a historic day for the program.

The scene afterward was what college football was all about. Fans rushed the field to celebrate with players, everyone of whom had a gigantic smile on their face. That they attempted just six passes for 15 yards to win ugly didn't matter, a win is a win and this one meant more than the other four they had during the season.

Perhaps it was appropriate that the Wildcats wore black jerseys because it felt afterward like a funeral for Tennessee, who lost out on a chance to go to a bowl game with the loss. The Derek Dooley era is on shaky ground after barely beating Vanderbilt and, now, ending the streak over Kentucky. No doubt the slick-haired, orange pants wearing Dooley had to take over a difficult situation but it's still Tennessee. There are players there and the defense isn't too bad with Justin Wilcox running things but there has been zero consistency.

The losses are one thing for Dooley but the lack of wins might be the most concerning part if you're a Vols fan. He's never beaten a ranked team and has no signature victory that he can hold his hat on. You can understand why they're clamoring for his head in Knoxville.

It was a slightly different scene in College Station - except for the clamoring for the head coach's head part.

It was once again a second half to forget for Texas A&M, as they ended their final scheduled game with Texas by falling on their face. There was plenty of optimism coming in that the Aggies would get the last laugh before leaving for the SEC but it was the Longhorn players who had no problem starting up an "S-E-C!" chant following the victory.

"Sports can be really cruel," Mack Brown said. "I think it was a time tonight where both teams deserved to win."

After 118 meetings, it was pretty cruel for things to end that way. Kyle Field had erupted following Ryan Tannehill's pass to Jeff Fuller for a 16 yard touchdown to take the lead but was silent after Justin Tucker's 40 yard field goal sailed through the uprights.

"They played their hearts out tonight," Tucker said. "But sending them off to the SEC with a sour taste in their mouth feels pretty good."

Nothing like beating a rival.

Stat of the week

In 26 games among BCS AQ schools or ranked non-AQ schools on Saturday, just two were within seven points and the average margin of victory was 20 points.

Stats of week

- Alabama held Auburn to a 3-and-out on 7-of-10 drives and now has 72 3-and-outs in 143 opponent drives (50.3%)

- Since 2007, Tennessee and Kentucky are both 33-31. The Wildcats beat the Vols for the first time in 26 games, a span of 9,863 days. Tennessee finishes the year with consecutive losing records for the first time since 1910-11.

- Texas A&M was outscored 76-7 in the third quarter of their losses.

- Via the AP, Nebraska has nine or more wins for the 38th time in 42 seasons (90%).

 - LSU's secondary has scored as many touchdowns (6) as they've allowed.

Yard-by-yard

- Not sure if Trent Richardson helped win the Heisman with his career-high 203 yards in the Iron Bowl but he did nothing but bolster his resume. Remarkably the score at halftime was the same (24-7) as it was a year ago when some guy named Cam wiped out the deficit on the way to a championship. There would be no comeback from the Tigers this time thanks in large part to the suffocating Tide defense that allowed just 140 yards of offense. The lone bright spot for the home team was Onterio McCalebb's 83-yard kick return (the first ever in Iron Bowl history) that seemed to give the team some hope before Alabama quickly closed the door. All in all, a dominating effort for a team that has well over a month to prepare for their rematch with LSU.

- Impressive season for Louisville's Charlie Strong, who has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country by clinching at least a share of the Big East title with a win 34-24 over South Florida. Early losses, including one to FIU, seemed to show that the team was at least a year away from being in contention in the league but Strong righted the ship and freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has really come on as of late, passing for three touchdowns against USF. Amazingly, the win snapped a 16-game losing streak in the state of Florida during the regular season. That the Cardinals are in contention for a BCS bowl berth boggles the mind if you watched this team early in the year.

- You would not have expected Rex Burkhead to play against Iowa if you saw him on Monday when he had his foot in a walking boot. He shredded the boot by Saturday however and had no issues pounding away at the Hawkeyes defense, rushing for 160 yards and a touchdown in Nebraska's 20-7 win. Surprisingly, his 38 carries were a school-record and came just a week after one of his worst games of his career against Michigan. It was just part of a punishing offensive attack against Iowa that gave the team an amazing 16 minute time of possession advantage. You can tell why Bo Pellini decided to keep things on the ground after Taylor Martinez tossed a few arm punts early in the game.

- Andrew Luck's final home game ended on a high note as he passed John Elway's school record for career touchdown passes and gave Heisman voters some more to think about. Beating a marquee opponent like Notre Dame on national television helps too, as the Cardinal jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime and never really lost control of the game.

- Down the road in Los Angeles, Matt Barkley made his case to be invited to New York. In what could have been his final game in cardinal and gold, he passed for 423 yards and six touchdowns on a record setting night to throttle UCLA 50-0. "One more year" chants were heard throughout the game but it was a heck of a way for USC to end their bowl ban and put an exclamation point on what has been a terrific season under Lane Kiffin. Things aren't too pretty for the other side as the Bruins were not only humiliated at the Coliseum, but likely will be blitzed just as bad in the Pac-12 Championship game. The "gap" between the two programs that Rick Neuheisel talked about being closed appeared to have never been wider than it was Saturday night.

- Tulsa was supposed to represent Houston's stiffest test of the season but the trip to Oklahoma proved to be anything but as the Cougars rolled in the second half to secure Conference USA hosting duties. As good as Case Keenum was at quarterback, Patrick Edwards was the star of the show, grabbing four touchdowns and 181 yards to break the conference career record for receiving yards. The Golden Hurricanes had been undefeated in league play but Keenum found Edwards on 4th down in the 3rd quarter and it was away they go. Houston converted several 4th downs and built up style points as Keenum threw for 457 yards and a ho-hum five touchdowns before being pulled. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Cougars defense, who held a normally high-scoring Tulsa attack to just 16 points.

- When Arkansas came into Baton Rouge, the Hogs represented the toughest passing attack LSU would see all season. Luckily the Tigers had the nation's best secondary and one player in particular - the Honey Badger. Tyrann Mathieu is simply a playmaker whenever his team needs it most and you could tell Friday when he returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown that seemed to turn the tide just when it looked like Arkansas was making a game of it. The offense was pretty good too, with Kenny Hilliard, Spencer Ware and even Jordan Jefferson (despite a boneheaded play or two) causing the Razorbacks defense issues. The 21 third quarter points - keyed in part by Mathieu - might have pushed LSU ahead but it was the rushing attack in the 4th quarter that turned a solid win into a blowout. It's no surprise that plenty of people invoked the name Billy Cannon after the game considering that the last time there was a top-three match up in Death Valley, Cannon returned a punt for a score against Ole Miss. Of course it was Mathieu doing the honors this time as the Tigers kept their record perfect on the road to Atlanta and on to New Orleans.

- If you had to say a team was due before the year was up, Colorado was a good choice. The Buffaloes, despite their record, had a pretty decent offense but just couldn't perform on defense or on the road. Although Utah was at home and playing for a chance to go to the Pac-12 title game, the Buffs jumped out to an early lead and managed to hang on to beat the Utes 17-14. Normally reliable field goal kicker Coleman Petersen missed the final kick with seconds left to go 0-3 on the day and diminish Utah's hopes of a solid debut season in a BCS conference. What was billed as the start of a new rivalry between new conference foes turned out to be a historic win for Colorado, as the team ended a 23-game road losing streak. Utah was hampered by the loss of running back John White but there was no question that they should have won this game but a few breaks went the way of CU. Before the season head coach Jon Embree talked about putting up bricks to build a wall of success that the program had done in its glory days and on a chilly Friday afternoon, he added one more thanks to the upset on the road.

- The Countdown Clock on the Columbus Dispatch's website was probably already setup to change following Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan game. Things were closer than expected in the Wolverines 40-34 win at the Big House, a testament to just how hard the Buckeyes fought to keep their streak alive. Braxton Miller was great until his final play, an interception to seal the game, and out-played his counterpart Denard Robinson for much of the afternoon. UM got the last laugh when the gun sounded by ending a streak that had gone nearly 3,000 days but if there was one take away from the annual rivalry game, it's that Miller should be fun to watch in Urban Meyer's offense.

- Most impressive victory this weekend might have been Wisconsin throttling Penn State 45-7. The Nittany Lions have the best defense in the Big Ten but they were ran over by Montee Ball, who scored four touchdowns and has a chance at setting the NCAA single-season record. The rematch with Michigan State for a trip to the Rose Bowl just got a little more interesting.

- If you haven't been able to watch Luke Kuechly play linebacker at Boston College, you missed out on one of the hardest working players in the game. Don't worry, he'll probably be a 10+ year vet in the NFL so there should be plenty of chances to see him in the future though. Surprisingly, Kuechly didn't reach the double-digit tackles plateau for the first time since his freshman year but he did run back an interception for a touchdown and made life tough for Miami in a 24-17 upset. The talented 'backer also became the school's all-time tackles leader and showed why he could be a potential first round pick if he decides to leave school early. On the flip side, Jacory Harris - after perhaps his best season - reverted to the Harris of old by tossing four interceptions in his final college game. While there were not many people watching (in the stands or on TV), the result was overshadowed by the news of the day as Miami announced head coach Al Golden had agreed to a four-year extension that would keep in in Coral Gables until 2020.

- In a/the Backyard Brawl, all rules are off. The intense series between Pitt and West Virginia faced an uncertain future with both moving to different conferences but on the field in 2011 the two had no problem giving everybody a compelling game. The Panthers had jumped out to a 17-7 half-time lead but were simply shut down by a swarming Mountaineers defense in the second half that kept things close enough that the sputtering WVU offense could eventually cash-in a game-winning touchdown. It was a wild ending in a series full of them but Dana Holgorsen's squad managed to pull things out. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri had a rough night, being sacked 10 (!) times, four of which came on a crazy final drive.

- If you want to know why Dennis Erickson was shown the door at Arizona State, look no further than the late night showdown against an improving California team. It was in many ways it was young (Bears) against and the old (Sun Devils). Erickson's squad was trying to salvage the season and his job, Jeff Tedford's group was trying to build upon the second half of their season. It was a defense-optional shootout like the Pac-10 days of old but Cal managed to force four turnovers that likely ended up as the deciding factor. Credit to Tedford who helped his cause while Erickson killed his, this was a fun game but defense - surprisingly - decided things and that ended up in Cal's favor.

- In terms of surprises, Virginia Tech shutting out a hot Virginia team at home might be highly ranked on the list. It was the Cavaliers first home shutout loss since 1984 and they had zero ground game to speak of (30 yards on 26 carries). It was likely the Hokies best win of the season to date and continued a strong run by quarterback Logan Thomas.

Tweet of the week

"USC card stunts say "We run LA." Based on how poorly the city is run, I would not brag about that.

- Chris Huston, The Hesiman Pundit

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Stanford

5. USC

6. Oregon

7. Boise State

8. Arkansas

9. Houston

10. Virginia Tech


Where we'll be this week

I draw the early assignment and will head up Eugene for the Pac-12 Championship game with Oregon and UCLA on Friday. Eye on College Football bloggers Chip Patterson and Adam Jacobi will head to the ACC and Big Ten Championships respectively. Brett McMurphy makes the trip to see Bedlam between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State while Dennis Dodd joins Tony Barnhart in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.

Leaning this way

Georgia vs. LSU

Do the Bulldogs have a chance? No, not really. Even if they did, it appears the Tigers are locked into a trip to the BCS National Championship game in New Orleans either way. Les Miles' secondary already took care of the best quarterback in the SEC West last week and will do pretty much the same to the best quarterback in the SEC East down in Atlanta.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

Don't let the loss to Iowa State fool you, Oklahoma State is still a very good team and their opportunistic defense should enjoy playing Landry Jones on the road. The Sooners haven't really been the same team they were earlier in the season thanks to several injuries - their top running back and wide receiver among them - and they've had their troubles at Boone Pickens Stadium before. Expect it to be close but ultimately the Cowboys will win the game and the Big 12.

Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

These teams are so evenly matched that it took a hail mary for the Spartans to beat the Badgers the first time. That pass isn't something that Wisconsin players forgot about and have a chance to avenge it for a trip to the Rose Bowl. The offense has been rolling the past couple of weeks behind Montee Ball and Russell Wilson so look for them to do some damage against Michigan State the second time around.


Posted on: November 28, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 11:30 am
 

So who is the real number two?



Posted by Tom Fornelli


There's an inherent flaw in the way we determine the champion in college football. When you let human beings decide which teams are the best, you allow our emotions and opinions to become involved in the process. Making matters worse, we're all pretty stubborn when it comes to how we think and feel about a certain subject.

I knew a kid in college who would only drink Mr. Pibb and refused to drink Dr. Pepper. They're the same thing. The only difference between the two is that Dr. Pepper has more student loans to pay off and has a real good time beneath underpasses. When I'd ask my friend why he insisted on drinking Mr. Pibb over Dr. Pepper he said that Mr. Pibb just tasted better.

Which is a lie, because they taste the same, but in his mind Mr. Pibb was better. He had that preconcieved notion, possibly from having it in the house as a child, and there was nothing that could happen to convince him otherwise.

It's a lot like how we view college football teams. There's a group of people who feel that Alabama is the second-best team in the country, and no matter what arguments you make on another team's behalf, that opinion's not changing. There are groups of people that feel the exact same way about Oklahoma State, Stanford, or Virginia Tech. No matter what you say to them, they're already convinced that one of these teams is the team that deserves to face LSU for a BCS title, and you won't change their mind.

Which got me to thinking around 2am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. What if there was a way to present a team's case without a person knowing who that team was? If I remove the names of the schools, I'm removing the bias. All a fan can see is "Team X" not Alabama, not Oklahoma State, not Conference USA, none of that. Just the letter "X" and some numbers.

So I decided to take a look at six different schools and compare them in five separate categories to get a better idea of who the better team really is. I'd like to share this data with all of you and then have you vote on which team you think is the team that should be playing LSU based on the numbers you see. There is no right answer, there is no wrong answer. It's still opinion, but what I've done is I've stripped any possible biases you may already have.

Here's the chart.



Now here's an explanation of the chart.

Top 20 W - This is the number of wins each team has against a team currently ranked in the top 20 of the Sagarin rankings, which are used as part of the BCS formula. Though I used Sagarin's overall rankings, not the rankings he has to use for BCS which removes point differential.

Top 40 W - This is the number of wins each team has against a team currently ranked in the top 40 of the Sagarin rankings.

Opp. Win % - Exactly what it looks like, the combined winning percentage of every FBS team each team has played. It's important to note that I did not count the games against that particular team. So for example, Team E's opponents had a .479 winning percentage in game not against Team E.

Av. Point Diff. - This is the average point differential in each team's games against FBS opponents. In other words, how many points are you winning your games by on average.

Av. Sagarin Rank - This is the average Sagarin ranking of the FBS opponents each team has played in 2011. The lower this number, the better.

So, now that you have all the info, which team is the one that should be playing LSU? Vote below, and once you vote the teams will be revealed.



So who did you vote for?

Find out here.


Posted on: November 27, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 9:01 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 13



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. With Alabama and LSU wrapping up their regular seasons in style, the SEC powerhouses appear headed back on a collision course for the BCS title game.  LSU will be tested one more time against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, while Oklahoma State will try to state their case against Oklahoma and hope for chaos.

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:14-0 deficit to the third-ranked team in the nation? No bother for Les Miles and LSU, who then ripped off a 41-3 spree on Arkansas to finish the game's scoring. We're at the point where LSU's resume is so good, so dominant, so much better than everybody else's that the Tigers could probably take a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game and still be in the BCS championship game -- or maybe even still ranked No. 1. Seriously, who would you put in front of a one-loss LSU team among these contenders? - Adam Jacobi

2. Alabama: It's good for 'Bama that it's got such a strong hold on No. 2 in the Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll, because the Crimson Tide's season is over, while third-ranked Oklahoma State's got a date with Oklahoma this weekend. Tide fans should be cheering for Oklahoma to pull the minor upset, of course, but as long as the game's close it's unlikely that a surfeit of voters will swap Oklahoma State and Alabama, and we should look for a rematch in the BCS Championship. And that's the way it ought to be, as LSU and Alabama have been, hands-down, the best two football teams this season. - AJ

3. Oklahoma State: In case you weren't already aware of it, losing to Iowa State was a rather terrible idea, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys move back up to third in the BCS but Alabama remains #2 and has no possible games left to lose this year. Which means that the Cowboys best bet is to detroy Oklahoma in Bedlam next weekend and then cross their fingers that the performance was strong enough to convince voters that they don't really want to see a rematch. Which, honestly, is not the best position to be in. - Tom Fornelli 

4. Stanford:Thanks to an Arkansas loss and a win over Notre Dame, the Cardinal have secured a BCS bowl berth for the second straight year. It's a remarkable accomplishment for a program that has been to a bowl game just three times in ten years and underwent a change at head coach before this season. The win over the Irish wasn't a blowout but it was a marquee opponent in primetime and allowed Andrew Luck to pad his stats for the Heisman. Stanford will watch Oregon host the Pac-12 title game this week but will be home knowing they will likely end up as an at large team in the Fiesta Bowl. - Bryan Fischer

5. Virginia Tech:The Hokies were put on upset alert heading to Charlottesville to face a hot Virginia team with the ACC Coastal Division on the line. But Virginia Tech punched their ticket to a fifth ACC Championship Game with a thorough 38-0 dismantling of the Cavaliers. The win was the seventh in a row for Virginia Tech, and the "win move up/loser move down" voter mentality has the Hokies in the Top 5 of the BCS standings. It would likely take a disaster to get bumped into the title game, so the main focus for Frank Beamer's squad will be defending their ACC title against Clemson on Saturday. - Chip Patterson

6. Houston:Houston has the benefit of playing in a conference championship game to get another week to impress the voters. Unfortunately for the undefeated Cougars, it is also another test of their perfect record. Houston can lock up a BCS bowl bid by taking care of business against Southern Miss in the Conference USA Championship Game. Case Keenum and Co. dodged the Golden Eagles in conference play, and another convincing win like Saturday's against Tulsa would complete one of the most dominant runs through the league in recent memory. - CP 

7. Boise State: Oh of all the years to lose a game at home, Boise State, you had to choose this one. Listen, the Broncos need a lot to go right for them this weekend to end up in a BCS bowl game because as things sit right now, they wouldn't be in one. So if you're a Boise State fan, this is what you want to happen this week: beat New Mexico, have Houston lose in the C-USA title game, have LSU beat Georgia and Wisconsin beat Michigan State. That knocks out Houston and Georgia, and if Michigan State loses then the odds of Michigan becoming eligible for a BCS at large berth (currently 16th) is nearly null. It's a lot to ask, but it's also possible. And if all that does happen, then Boise may get that BCS invite. - TF

8. Arkansas:An opportunity to dramatically upset the BCS picture passed through Arkansas' grasp on Saturday, as the Razorbacks failed to take advantage of their early lead at LSU. So being that current rules prohibit more than two teams from any given conference participating in the BCS, Arkansas' presence here at No. 8 is of no relevance to any of the big bowls. The Capital One Bowl committee should be salivating at having such a highly-ranked team available, though. - AJ

9. Oklahoma: It's simple for Oklahoma at this point. If it loses to Oklahoma State next week it will have 3 losses and have no chance for a BCS at-large berth. If the Sooner do win that game, though, they'll be Big 12 champions and headed to the Fiesta Bowl. So it's pretty cut and dry. - TF


10. Oregon:A Civil War victory gave the Ducks the right to host the first ever Pac-12 Championship game and given the way UCLA was routed by USC, it's looking like flower shops in Eugene might be all out of roses by the end of the week. Sitting ninth in the rankings and with two losses, Oregon is out of the running for the national title but a win at home this week gives the team a trip to the Rose Bowl against either Wisconsin or Michigan State. It may not be a return trip to the BCS championship game but the granddaddy of them all is a pretty good way to end the season. - BF

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 2:25 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 6:19 am
 

Can Andrew Luck still win the Heisman?



Posted by Adam Jacobi

Stanford just put the finishing touches on a 28-14 victory over Notre Dame, and Andrew Luck was his typical self in the victory: 20-30, 233 yards, four touchdowns and an interception for a QB rating of 169.2 (his season rating, by way of comparison, is now 167.5). Meanwhile, Stanford has finished the season at 11-1 and likely to move into the No. 5 spot in the BCS and No. 3 in the AP poll after Arkansas drops in the rankings on Sunday.

So what does this all mean for Luck's 2011 Heisman chances? 

The Case For

Luck's season numbers are stellar. We're looking at 261-373 (69.97% accuracy), 3170 yards, 35 touchdowns, and nine interceptions -- one of the most prolific and efficient lines in the nation. He's been the focal point of the Stanford offense, as tailback Stepfan Taylor has been merely good as the primary rushing threat on the offense (this isn't a situation like Wisconsin RB Montee Ball making Russell Wilson's job incredibly easy, in other words). Luck is an NFL prototype, standing 6'4" at 235 pounds, his reputation is spotless, he's got three quality years of play at QB, and he's intelligent in interviews off the field. He behaves like a Heisman winner and a coach's dream.

Also, as mentioned before, Stanford is probably going to finish in the Top 3 of the AP poll (a pool of people that's not exactly dissimilar to the Heisman voting ranks), and it'll likely be somewhere in a BCS bowl in January, even as a shot at the Rose Bowl eluded the team once again. All the while, Luck has been prominent in his contributions, throwing at least two touchdowns in every game and four touchdowns in three 2011 contests.

Also, Luck strikes a pretty sweet Heisman pose in the picture above.   

The Case Against

Luck's numbers might not be stellar enough this year. He's nowhere near NCAA passing efficiency leader Russell Wilson, and while Wilson's usage numbers are low enough that he's not receiving Heisman consideration anymore, Baylor's Robert Griffin III, Houston's Case Keenum, USC's Matt Barkley, and Boise State's Kellen Moore all have similar amounts of attempts and completions, and aside from RG3 (one fewer passing TD), their touchdowns are all higher and their interceptions are all lower than Luck's. Luck's interceptions are up from last year, and his yardage and efficiency are both down (albeit slightly in all three cases). His rushing in 2011 is nowhere near the level of the last two years -- though voters probably won't mind that last fact.

Further, as mentioned before, Luck's Stanford team is likely to be ranked third in the AP poll on Sunday, but at the same time only fifth in the BCS. While that's not a disqualifier from Heisman consideration by any stretch of the imagination, it may not be high enough for some voters to consider taking Luck over, say, Trent Richardson from second-ranked Alabama. Moore and Keenum also have their teams in the Top 10, and again, their raw numbers are better than Luck's. Worse yet for Luck, regional Heisman voting bias is a very real thing, and the fact that Moore, Keenum, Barkley, and Griffin all play west of the Mississippi may mean Luck can't stand out among his peers in south and west-coast voting enough to overtake the strong showings of Richardson in the east or RG3 in Texas.

The Verdict

There's no question that Luck's going to New York as a Heisman finalist, and he's probably going to finish in the Top 3 or 4. But in such a loaded Heisman pack, it takes a lot to distinguish one's self as the best player in the nation. Trent Richardson's got highlight-reel plays and a likely berth in the BCS Championship. Robert Griffin III has the best efficiency among serious Heisman candidates and two high-profile last-minute victories. Montee Ball has the most touchdowns in one year since Barry Sanders in his legendary 1988 season. Kellen Moore has a 49-3 record and 134 passing touchdowns. Case Keenum rewrote the NCAA record books in career passing totals. In a field like that, what does Andrew Luck bring to the table better than anybody else, and is it a legitimate reason to vote for someone as the best player in the nation? Unfortunately for the Stanford faithful, we don't see how Luck answers that question well enough to bring home the Heisman.



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Posted on: November 27, 2011 1:13 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 13



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

WINNER: Texas Fight

"Texas Fight! Texas Fight! And it's goodbye to A&M." The opening lyrics to the Texas fight song took on a whole new meaning this weekend as Texas and Texas A&M may have met for the final time in the regular season as the Aggies prepare to join the SEC in 2012. While Texas A&M claims it would like to continue the rivalry, Texas doesn't seem as willing to do so, and the Longhorns said goodbye to their hated rival in a rather unfriendly fashion on Thursday night, coming back in the second half and winning the game on a Justin Tucker field goal as time expired. Will this game ever be reborn? I'd like to think so, but at the moment the Aggies will have to deal with being on the wrong end of the scoreboard indefinitely.

LOSER: Mike Sherman

The Aggies finish the 2011 regular season with a record of 6-6 after beginning the season ranked in the top ten of both major polls. In those six losses the Aggies found themselves outscored 83-0 in the third quarter of those games. Something that reflects incredibly poorly on the coaching staff, with Mike Sherman being the main target. On Friday morning there was an open thread for the day's games on A&M blog I Am The 12th Man with the title of "Who Should Replace Coach Sherman?" We can't be sure if Sherman is going to lose his job, but it seems pretty obvious what the fans want to see, and with the Aggies starting anew in the SEC, the school may feel it's time for a fresh start in the coaching staff as well. 

WINNER: Nick Florence

I can't lie. When the second half of Baylor's game against Texas Tech began with the Bears up 31-28 and I found out that Robert Griffin was going to miss the rest of the game I didn't like Baylor's chances. Well, Florence proved me wrong rather quickly, throwing for 2 long touchdowns in the third quarter and rushing for a third in the fourth. It was Florence's first game-action of the season and first time on the field since mop-up duty against Kansas in 2010. Still, by the way he played, you'd think he'd been starting for the Bears the last three years. Now Baylor fans have to think that if Griffin leaves for the NFL after this season they won't be in very bad shape with Florence around.

LOSER: Robert Griffin's Heisman chances

With Trent Richardson having a monster game for Alabama as the Tide seemingly locked up a berth in the title game and Andrew Luck throwing for 4 touchdowns on Saturday night, Griffin missing the entire second half -- and possibly next week's game against Texas depending on the severity of the injury -- against Texas Tech had to be an end to his Heisman chances. He'll probably still appear on enough ballots to warrant an invite to New York for the ceremony, but I just don't see how he'll be able to win now.

WINNER: The Norman Wind

I don't know if you can fully credit the gusts of wind blowing through Norman on Saturday morning for how the game turned out, but if it wasn't the most consistent factor at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium then I don't know what was. The game saw 8 turnovers and both team's quarterbacks combine to complete 35 of 73 (48%) of their passes. It was not pretty.

LOSER: Oklahoma State

The Cowboys had the weekend off, but that didn't stop them from possibly losing ground in the BCS this weekend. There were a lot of things that Oklahoma State needed to happen, but not enough of them did. Yes, Oklahoma beat Iowa State which means that a win over the Sooners will mean a lot more in the eyes of the pollsters if it happens next week, but Alabama and Stanford also managed to win on Saturday, with Alabama winning the Iron Bowl in a rout. Something that may have clinched a trip to New Orleans for the Tide. At this point the Fiesta Bowl and a Big 12 title may be all Oklahoma State has left to play for, not that accomplishing that would be a disappointment, but it's still not a title shot.

WINNER: Big 12 football in general

There's not much argument from around the country that the SEC is the best conference in all of college football. That's what tends to happen when the last five national champions call one conference home, but that doesn't mean the Big 12 isn't pretty damn good. We already know the BCS computers love the conference, and there's a reason for it. At the moment it's entirely possible that four Big 12 teams (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Kansas State) could finish the season with 10 wins. The only other conferences that can do that this season are the SEC (which already has 5) and the Big Ten. The difference of course being that the SEC and Big Ten have 12 teams and the Big 12 only has 10.

LOSER: Big 12 fans

I already talked about the death of the Lonestar Showdown earlier in this post, but that wasn't the only rivalry that came to an end in the Big 12 this week as Missouri and Kansas wrapped up their Border War rivalry on Saturday in Kansas City. That's a combined 238 years of history going out the window this weekend. Which, to be frank, sucks.

At the moment both rivalries seem dead, but I hope that as a few years pass and cooler heads prevail against the anger that exists between these schools and is currently feuling their "divorces." The sport of college football is just better off with these rivalries in the long run, because not everybody can play for a BCS bowl or a national championship every season, and these games tend to serve as those for many fan bases around the country.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 12:59 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 13

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: The Rematch. Before LSU and Alabama ever took the field Nov. 5, one of the hottest topics in college football was already whether the Tigers and Tide were so far out in front of the rest of the field that they could -- and maybe should -- meet again in New Orleans for the BCS championship. At that point, it seemed like outsized SEC hubris--not only did LSU and Alabama have to run the rest of the respective tables, but somewhere in the neighborhood of half a dozen teams had to suffer major upset losses.

But however you feel about the Tigers and Tide throwing out the results of their first experiment and starting from scratch for almost all the marbles (their loss in Tuscaloosa will at least cost the Tide a shot at an SEC title), the arguments at this stage are
all but academic; regardless of the results of championship weekend, LSU and Alabama are such clearcut Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings that they'll almost certainly stay that way even if LSU falls to Georgia in Atlanta this Saturday. The tables have been run, right up through Friday's rout of Arkansas by the Tigers and Alabama's bludgeoning of Auburn Saturday. The half-dozen teams have suffered those upsets. Whatever hope Oklahoma State had of getting the nod from voters was probably extinguished by the overwhelming matter in which LSU and Alabama won. It's done.

LOSERS: SEC haters. All of which means the SEC is going to win its sixth consecutive national championship. And while maybe the league has gotten a little too much credit for that achievement -- the conference's reputation has helped mask that behind the LSU/Alabama/Arkansas/Georgia triumvirate, there's precious little real quality -- is anyone really going to argue that the Tigers and Tide aren't the nation's two best teams right now? That the season shouldn't end with one team or the other hoisting the crystal football? It ain't bragging if you can back it up, and when it comes to assembling national title-caliber teams, the SEC has backed it up. Again. Sorry, rest of the country.

WINNER: James Franklin. Since George MacIntyre left the Vanderbilt head coaching job in 1985, five different Commodores head coaches came and went with a combined 17 seasons in Nashville ... and no bowl berths. The one coach who has taken Vandy to a bowl game since MacIntyre managed it in 1982, Bobby Johnson, did it just once in one (utterly charmed) season out of eight. So how fantastic of a job has Franklin done to not only take the 'Dores to a bowl, not only do it in his first season, but do it in out-and-out style, with a 41-7 road win over Wake Forest that cemented that Vandy -- with its 0-4 record in one-possession SEC games -- was better than its record?

A fantastic enough of a job that we'll call it a shame if Les Miles wins the SEC Coach of the Year in unanimous fashion. Miles deserves the award ... but Franklin deserves to be part of the conversation.

LOSER: Derek Dooley. We've picked on Dooley a couple of times in Winners and Losers recently, and take no joy in singling him out again. But facts are facts: if we were ranking the 11 employed SEC coaches in terms of who we'd want to fill a hypothetical SEC coaching vacancy starting tomorrow, Dooley would be ranked dead last, 11th out of 11. 

The contrast Saturday vs. Kentucky couldn't be starker. With his offense struggling horrifically, Joker Phillips pulled the trigger on a crazy scheme change, moved Matt Roark to quarterback, gave up on the pass entirely ... and won the game. With his offense struggling horrifically, Dooley declared "steady as she goes" ... and will be at home for the bowl season. 

WINNER: Connor Shaw. It was only four games ago that Shaw took his Gamecocks into Knoxville and threw for fewer than 100 yards, just 4.8 yards an attempt, and an even 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the running game and defense did all the heavy lifting. Against Clemson, it was Shaw doing nearly all the lifting, and then some. In the air the sophomore hit 14-of-20 for 10.5 yards an attempt and a three-to-zero TD-to-INT ratio, but he was even more dangerous on the ground: 19 carries, 108 yards, and another touchdown. No one's about to mistake Shaw for Cam Newton, but if the only comparison you made was Shaw's stat line from Saturday to one from Newton's last season ... well then, you, might be forgiven. 

LOSER: The overall state of quarterbacking in the SEC. Oh, AJ McCarron was excellent vs. Auburn, Aaron Murray deadly vs. Georgia Tech, and Shaw you just read about. But in the nether regions of the conference ... yeesh. Clint Moseley was disastrous for Auburn vs. the Tide, and seemed to have lost the confidence of a subdued Gus Malzahn. John Brantley threw three first-half interceptions before being sidelined with a concussion, whereupon Jacoby Brissett entered to throw a pick-six. Tyler Bray threw one 53-yard touchdown bomb ... and on his other 37 passes averaged just 4.4 yards a pass attempt and tossed a pair of interceptions. Ole Miss's Barry Brunetti was barely there. And Kentucky, of course, didn't even use a quarterback.

Lots of SEC defenses have outstanding pass defense numbers. Some of that is because they are good. Much of that, though, is because of play like the above. 

WINNER: the Ole Miss Rebels. Not on the field, of course; on the field, the Rebels lost their third straight to their in-state archrivals at Mississippi State in a 31-3 laugher that was never competitive. But on the plus side, this apocalyptic 2-10, 0-8 SEC season is finally, mercifully over and the search for a replacement for Houston Nutt can start in earnest. And that is the best thing that's happened for the Rebels in weeks.

LOSER: the Florida Gators. Unlike the Rebels, Will Muschamp's team will head to a bowl at 6-6. And Muschamp will no doubt say that that will give him and his staff a key opportunity to develop his young, still scheme-adjusting team during postseason practice. But the abject misery of the Gators' offensive showing against Florida State -- 21 points essentially yielded on interceptions to 7 points scored -- and flood of injuries made the team  look for all the world like one that would simply welcome the end of this punishing season. They'll trod on to the Music City Bowl or something similar, but we can't imagine anyone in Gainesville is all that excited about it.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Stanford 28 Notre Dame 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

STANFORD WON. Andrew Luck had one last chance and a national spotlight to try to further impress possible Heisman voters following Trent Richardson's big day for Alabama, and there wasn't much wrong with what could have been his final game in Palo Alto. Luck finished the night with 233 yards passing and had 4 touchdowns, but also had an interception to go with it. Still, Stanford stuck with the same formula that it had followed all season long, and rushed for 226 yards against the Notre Dame defense. Though it did save the touchdown glory for its quarterback.

Stepfan Taylor rushed for 149 yards for the Cardinal on 20 carries, while Coby Fleener caught 4 passes for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Floyd had 8 receptions for 92 yards and a score to lead the Irish on offense.

WHY STANFORD WON. Notre Dame got off to a slow start in this one, falling into a hole early and there was just no way the Irish could climb out of it. The Stanford offense is just too balanced to be able to stop it consistently, and the Irish didn't really have the speed or playmakers they needed on offense to exploit the Stanford defense.

WHEN STANFORD WON. The Cardinal let Notre Dame hang around for a while in this contest, as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never buried the Irish completely. However, when Notre Dame had two successive drives while 21-7 end in Stanford territory without scoring any points and Luck then hit Fleener for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 it was the final nail in the coffin everyone had been waiting for.

WHAT STANFORD WON. With Alabama winning in such convincing fashion against Auburn earlier on Saturday and Stanford not having another game to play, the odds aren't in its favor, but with this win, the chances of going to New Orleans to play for the BCS title are still alive. Which is probably the best Stanford can hope for right now, though if nothing else, it's almost assured of a BCS bowl game at this point. Possibly the Fiesta Bowl to face Oklahoma State.

WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. Notre Dame will never be able to claim a win against Andrew Luck, as he became the third quarterback in history to beat the Irish three times in his career. Still, there may be some good news to emerge for the Irish in all this as Andrew Hendrix took over for Tommy Rees on Saturday night, and he appears to be the quarterback of the future in South Bend. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't starting for Notre Dame when they finish the year in a bowl game.
 
 
 
 
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