Tag:Boise State
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 6



Posted by Bryan Fischer


There wasn't a particularly appetizing slate of college football games this week. Sure there was the Red River Shootout Beatdown Blowout Rivalry and a few other entertaining match ups but there truly was not a must watch game from kickoff to the final whistle most of the day. AP Top 25 teams in week 6 won by an average of 24.8 points, with Florida State being the lone upset to an unranked team.

It was another good week of college football, don't get me wrong, but the drama was a bit lacking until late Saturday night when Ohio State-Nebraska took the stage down in Lincoln. The game itself was nothing to write home about in terms of style points but it made up for it in second half theatrics. Taylor Martinez helped lead the storied program's biggest comeback ever, from down 21 points, with three scores, 102 yards rushing and an efficient 191 yards on 16 of 22 passing.
 
When I watched OSU against Miami, I saw a team that was half a step slower than the Hurricanes and looked like they were going through their first spring practice execution-wise. They were a solid Big Ten team but one who just couldn't execute like previous years. It was much different from when my colleague Gregg Doyel watched the Buckeyes in their opener in early September. There was a sense of relief then after a tumultuous offseason and, just as important to the OSU faithful, hope that they would be ok until most of the 'Buckeye Five' returned from their suspensions. Luke Fickell was a coach to believe in and this was a team that still had seemed to have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, according to Doyel:
It was Akron, so who really can say, but what the heck -- I'll go ahead and say it:

Ohio State has two solid quarterbacks in Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller. Ohio State has a promising coach in Luke Fickell. And Ohio State has a team that won't be as bad as some people (OK, me) would have thought, given the terminations, suspensions and distractions of recent months.

Well, that was Akron and things certainly have changed since Doyel wrote that column (one he'd love to have back, I'm sure), including the step up in competition with Nebraska. Granted this isn't your father's Cornhuskers team. They're 46th in total offense and, even more surprising with the Pelini brothers patrolling the sidelines, 59th in total defense. They got whacked by Wisconsin and have flirted with several close games before putting inferior opponents away late. They are no Akron but they're not a top 10 team either.

The Buckeyes looked like they were on their way to a win Saturday by a surprising margin, ruining the Big Ten debut of Memorial Stadium. Things weren't going great but they were at least good. Freshman Braxton Miller looked comfortable running the offense, making plays with his feet and doing plenty to stake the team to a 27-6 lead in the 3rd. After the offense had looked pitiful against Miami and Michigan State the previous two weeks, there were signs of life for the scarlet and gray. With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Ohio State led 27-13 and had rolled up 312 yards of offense.

Then Miller sprained his ankle and all hell seemed to break lose.

"I'd like to say no," tight end Reid Fragel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked if Miller's absence affected the whole team, "but it's one of those things at the back of everybody's mind. I'd like to say no, but at the same time, everybody cares about our quarterback and was kind of worried about him."

Senior Joe Bauserman came on to replace him and went 1 of 10 for 13 yards while the team as a whole had just 39 yards of offense the rest of the game. The Buckeyes went from grabbing an uplifting win on the road to a devastating loss; from a good team to mediocre to bad in a span of about 20 minutes of game time. There were mistakes in every phase of the game and at every level. Execution was lacking and any playmakers on the team seemed to be sitting on the bench drinking Gatorade.

Who deserves blame for it? Well there's plenty to go around. Bauserman, certainly, for the interception and stagnant offense. The defense too, for allowing Nebraska to rush for nearly 200 yards in the second half after holding them to just 37 in the first half. Many OSU fans are quick to blame offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and he rightfully deserves the lion's share for one reason: he didn't have a game plan for Bauserman. At all. He bet big on Miller and when it came time for Bauserman to take over at a key point in the game, Bollman seemed to panic and out-think himself.

What makes it interesting is that Bauserman was at one time the starter and he's played in every game this year. You'd think they would adjust the play calling so that he could nurse the lead and allow the senior to manage the game. Following Miller's injury, there were eight rushes and 10 passes, one of which was intercepted.

"No, Joe is not as mobile," Fickell said after the game. "We have to do a better job of putting him in situations he can handle a little better."

"The floodgates kind of opened and we started to panic a little bit and we never got ourselves back on track."

Those are not the words of a head coach. Jim Tressel - despite his compliance issues - was a terrific head coach because he had everybody buy in to what he was doing. More importantly, he knew what he was doing.

Fickell, a Buckeye through and through, seems to be in over his head and the inexperience really came through Saturday. There are plenty of people rooting for him to succeed but there's a reason why so many other names have been mentioned as the head coach of the team in 2012. Fickell has been thrown into the fire, a very hot one, and is doing the best that he can. Knowing how to manage a program, especially one like this, is not something many know how to do. It takes time and it takes a very good coach, one who is in control of everything and knows just what button to push at the right time. At this point in the season, it's hard to say Fickell has total control nor knows what to do. It's unfortunate but it's also life.

Ohio State's 3-3 with six games left, four of which they'll likely be decided underdogs. A bowl game is probably still likely but the program seems like it's adrift and capable of falling off the cliff if the staff isn't careful.

"You've got to rely on some guys," Fickell said. "And it's about leadership. But I don't know. That's what we're going to have to really look back at."

The leadership has to come from Fickell and the upperclassmen on the team, it shouldn't be 'I don't know' coming from the head coach or something that they'll 'have to look at.' There will be a lot of soul-searching going on in Columbus this week as well as some growing up for Fickell and company.

Stat of the week

According to the Associated Press, the state of Florida has been shut out of the AP poll for the first time since December 6, 1982. Not just the big three of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the entire state. There's just one California team (7. Stanford) and four from the state of Texas (20. Baylor, 21. Texas A&M, 22. Texas, 25. Houston).

Stats of the week

- Florida's loss to LSU was the worst loss for the program since 1996.

- Texas A&M is ranked in the top 25 but feature the nation's worst pass defense at 347.6 yards per game. They're behind Kansas and UNLV who have three wins between them.

- There were five SEC conference games and the winning quarterbacks had a combined 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

- Mark Richt earned his 100th win at Georgia and has a 100-36 overall record with the program.

- 27 players across the country are averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. Last year, just 19 finished with an average over the century mark.

- Arizona's Nick Foles leads the country in completions per game, is third in yards per game, second in total yards, fourth in total offense and has a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Yet his team is 1-5 because the defense is 115th in total defense, 117th in scoring defense and second to last in the country in sacks.

- With a touchdown catch against Texas, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles is the active leader in career receiving touchdowns with 10 more than the next guy, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.

- Surprisingly Illinois is tied for the nation's third longest winning streak at seven games. Stanford has the longest (13) followed by Oklahoma (10). Alabama and LSU both have seven game streaks as well but obviously will play each other in November. New Mexico and Florida Atlantic have the longest losing streaks at eight games, while Memphis has lost 15 straight in conference.

- The Pac-12 leads the country in passing and has 31 more passing touchdowns than any other conference (153 total). The Big Ten leads the country in rushing and has 11 more rushing touchdowns than any other conference.

- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel improved to 9-0 against Washington State at three different schools (Colorado, Washington, UCLA). One of the wins came as a non-conference win while at Colorado. With eight wins in conference play, that would mean 25% of Neuheisel's Pac-12 conference victories have come at the expense of the Cougars.

- According to the Big Ten Network, every time Michigan has started 6-0, they've gone to the Rose Bowl.

Yard-by-yard

- There was plenty of Boomer Sooner at the Cotton Bowl this weekend, enough to cause Bevo to turn away from the field of play so he didn't have to see anymore of the Longhorns. Most saw Texas as overrated, moving into the top 10 largely because they hadn't lost and because they're, well, Texas. They had some momentum coming into the game and thought they had a solid backfield that would be able to make a few plays in Bryan Harsin's offense. Nope. The story of the game wasn't Oklahoma's potent offense, but its spectacular defense that had a coming out party and reminding everyone that though they might not be Alabama or LSU's, they are still pretty good. The Sooners set six defensive school records against the Horns, including eight sacks. Final score: Oklahoma's offense 34, Oklahoma defense 21, Texas 17.

- It really didn't matter what true freshman quarterback took snaps under center for Florida, they were getting fed to the wolves. Or at least one Honey Badger, who picked off starter Jacoby Brissett's deep pass in the third quarter. It's rare for LSU to have the advantage at the quarterback position but it was pretty clear they had the advantage at just about every position in their 41-11 rout at home. The Gators have issues but they're still a solid football that's just trying to find some footing. The Tigers, meanwhile, look like they used the weekend to tune up every phase of their game, controlling throughout and limiting their opponent to 2 of 11 on third down and 213 total yards. The lasting images of the game might have come from a punter and a back up quarterback. Much-maligned quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw a touchdown pass in a manner Florida fans are quite familiar with - a jump pass near the goal line. Brad Wing became an overnight sensation after faking a punt and taking it 52 yards to the house late in the first. Wing, however, raised his arms slightly before crossing the goal line and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that took the points off the board. That was about the only thing that went wrong all day for Les Miles' crew.

"We showed everybody that we are capable of some special things against a really good Florida team," said Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery. "I want more. I want a National Championship. I want to play the best ever."

- Virginia Tech just doesn't lose back-to-back games at home under Frank Beamer. Perhaps it's the 'Enter Sandman' music the PA announcer puts on late in games but there's not much you can do to stop the Hokies. Miami thought they did thanks to Lamar Miller, who broke off several big runs in the fourth quarter before catching a throwback pass for a touchdown to pull the Hurricanes to within three. He gave them the lead with a 30 yard run late in the game before Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said 'Sorry, I'll take that' on an option on fourth-and-one to scamper 19 yards for the game-winning score. The comeback by Thomas capped an overall great day for him, going 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

- Staying in the ACC, the surprise team in the league might be Georgia Tech, not Clemson. The 6-0 Yellow Jackets held off a late charge from Maryland after building a 21-3 lead going into the fourth. "They whipped our tail pretty good in the end," Tech coach Bobby Johnson said. Still, his squad is undefeated and among the top 10 in a good number of offensive categories. The passing game wasn't there against the Terrapins like it was in previous games but they still managed to eek out a victory. By the way, it's ok if you missed watching this game on account of Maryland's uniform combination, which featured mustard yellow pants.

- Arizona State has finally started to live up to expectations while Utah hasn't even come close to them. The Sun Devils defense forced three straight turnovers at one point in the third quarter, quick enough that quarterback Brock Osweiler couldn't even get his jersey cleaned in time. "They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,"' he said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers." As sharp as the defense has looked the past few games, the offense has shown off an explosive side as well, scoring 18 straight points in four minutes. Dennis Erickson's squad also won a road game, big because they have a showdown and possible championship game preview with Oregon this week. For the Utes, we all worried about the grind of a BCS conference and it does seem like they're wearing down in the second half of games after starting relativly strong. Of course, it helps to have a healthy quarterback but they just haven't had one as Jordan Wynn missed yet another game. They've lost six of their last 10 and need to do something against the back half of their conference schedule to make a bowl.

- Remember when Florida State was fifth in the country and everybody was whispering they were back? Me neither. The only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe, the Seminoles had their issues with Wake Forest. After a previously injured E.J. Manuel returned in the second quarter to replace starter Clint Trickett, he threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene and many expected FSU to start moving from there. Wake running back Josh Harris had other ideas, breaking off big run after big run on his way to 136 yards and an upset. The Demon Deacons have now won four straight and are undefeated in ACC play even if they are flying under most people's radar. Wake has only five wins against Florida State all-time but have won four of them since 2006 and four of the last six.

- On one hand, it was Kentucky. On the other hand, it was an impressive showing by South Carolina. Steve Spurrier made a change at quarterback and Connor Shaw paid off as the Gamecocks had more yards on offense since the Old Ball Coach started calling plays in Columbia. The 54-3 win was also South Carolina's biggest victory since joining the SEC, thanks in large part to the sharp play of Shaw, who went 26 of 39 for 311 yards and four touchdowns. About the only one who didn't score was running back Marcus Lattimore.

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Video
Quote/Tweet of the week

"That #11 ranking was such a farce. If Texas had Complete Scouting Services they wouldn't lose to OU so bad."

- Infamous recruiting scout Willie Lyles.

Fisch's Finest

Like the AP poll, my top 10 does not change.

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Wisconsin

6. Stanford

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Clemson

10. Georgia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will see if Connor Shaw is the real deal as South Carolina heads to Starkvegas to play Mississippi State. Dennis Dodd will take in the sights and sounds of Knoxville as LSU plays Tennessee. Brett McMurphy will see if Texas shows any improvement as they host Oklahoma State while Bruce Feldman will head to the Pacific Northwest to see a possible Pac-12 Championship Game preview with Arizona State and Oregon.

Leaning this way

Michigan at Michigan State

Anything can happen in rivalry games and it would certainly make the Spartans' season if they pulled off an upset of Big Blue and a top 10 team. Mark Dantonio has had a bye week to help prepare to stop Denard Robinson but Michigan's improved defense will be enough to help squeak by in a close game in East Lansing.

Oklahoma State at Texas

Those 55 points Oklahoma scored? Oklahoma State had that by halftime last week. The young Texas defense will have their hands full again this week with what might be an even better passing offense. The defense for the Cowboys is nothing special so the Horns should be able to put up some points of their own but there's just too many weapons for Brandon Weeden to keep it close.

Arizona State at Oregon

Dennis Erickson's squad got a road win and have been playing as well as anyone on defense the past couple of weeks. They've been forcing turnovers left and right and will need to continue that if they're to have a shot against the Ducks. LaMichael James won't play but the offense is still potent with Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas coming out of the backfield. This could be a championship game preview and Oregon wins thanks to another big second half.



Posted on: October 9, 2011 3:43 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 6



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Les Miles.

For years, college football fans have come up with excuse after excuse for why Miles has been less than a terrifiic head football coach, despite his gaudy records and 2007 national title. He's just lucky. Anyone can recruit that kind of talent to LSU. His clock management is terrible. Never lost fewer than two games in a season. He can't get his offense fixed. Did we mention he's lucky? This offseason, one prominent blogger went so far as to place Miles No. 1 on a list of "the Worst Coaches in College Football."

But after today's dominating 41-11 win over Florida and the Tigers' 6-0 start to the 2011 season -- a start that includes wins over four different ranked teams -- even Miles's most ardent detractors have to admit the Mad Hatter has put together the kind of upper-upper-echelon team that can't be explained by recruiting or luck or happenstance alone. Yes, it helps to have Ryan Baker and Tyrann Mathieu and Michael Brockers around, but even superstars like those don't make the kind of terror-inducing defense LSU has today without the guidance of John Chavis, who Miles recruited to Baton Rouge personally. Yes, it's tough to not have a strong running game with Spencer Ware and a veteran line, but that running game wouldn't be nearly so effective if Jarrett Lee hadn't shaken off a career's worth of failures to become exactly the steady, accurate (and vs. the Gators, bomb-tossing) quarterback the offense needs--a development that can be directly traced to Miles's much-derided hire of Steve Kragthorpe as his team's new quarterbacks coach. The Tigers have been special teams killers for far too long under Miles to dismiss their contributions as mere "luck," as evidenced once again Saturday when punter Brad Wing noticed the lack of a Gator punt safety and took off for what should have been a 44-yard touchdown.

In short: to watch the Tigers' rise to 6-0 and their dismantling of the Gators and not see Miles's fingerprints all over them is an exercise in willful ignorance. Luck can explain some of his successes, and the natural advantages of being LSU does explain a little more. But these Tigers? They are only explained by having a coach at the very, very top of his field.

LOSERS: Auburn's wide receivers.

Tiger quarterback Barrett Trotter hasn't played well of late, and has the numbers to prove it--6 of 19 for 81 yards and a pick against Arkansas, to be specific. But he also hasn't gotten much help from his wideouts with leading receiver Emory Blake out ... if he's gotten any at all. Remove a 44-yard reception for Travante Stallworth on a second-half flea flicker completion, and Auburn's wideouts combined for all of three receptions for 21 yards. DeAngelo Benton had a particularly rough evening, dropping one late first-half pass that could have set up an Auburn field goal, getting called for a hold that would eventually force an Auburn punt, and letting a late Trotter pass whistle through his hands for the aformentioned interception.

WINNERS: Backup quarterbacks.

Jacoby Brissett aside, it was a good day to be a current (or recent) second-stringer in the SEC. Connor Shaw cemented himself as the new South Carolina starter and then some with his 311-yard, 4-touchdown, zero-pick performance vs. Kentucky. Mississippi State's Tyler Russell came off the bench to complete 11 of his 13 passes, three of them going for second-half touchdowns that turned what had been a 3-0 halftime deficit into a 21-3 win over UAB. Vanderbilt's Jordan Rodgers didn't have much of an impact statistically (11-of-18, 104 yards, 2 INTs), but led a couple of decent drives and looked as composed vs. the Alabama pass rush as you could hope.

And then there's Lee, who you'll remember was not only Jordan Jefferson's backup with just days remaining before the season, but many fans' favorite to drop to third-string behind JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger. Against Florida Lee completed only 7 passes--but he also only attempted 10, and those 7 completions averaged a gain of 22 yards.

LOSER: Stephen Garcia.

The career of one of the SEC's most recognizable stars, magnetic talents, and frustrating enigmas appears poised to end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Though you can't ever say never with Steve Spurrier, Shaw's confident command performance against Kentucky suggests he's going to be the Gamecock quarterback for quite some time to come. There's going to be much more difficult opponents ahead for him than the hapless Wildcats, but does it matter? Spurrier's surprising patience with Garcia through his awkward start to this season now looks poised to be turned against him as Spurrier lets Shaw work through the same rough patches Garcia endured.

Which means that in the end, Garcia's senior season hasn't been undone by the off-field troubles that so many have expected to be his downfall. It's gone south because he simply hasn't produced on the field, because aside from one half against East Carolina, he's never looked as good in 2011 as Shaw looked Saturday. It's not how we expected things to come to an end for Garcia (if this is the end), but nothing about Garcia's time in Columbia has ever played out as expected, has it?

LOSERS: Kentucky fans.

The Wildcats kicked off to open their game against the Gamecocks, forced a fumble on the return, and recovered just outside the Carolina 20. Cue the shots in the stands of overjoyed Kentucky fans high-fiving each other and celebrating the best possible start.

60 minutes later -- and only 96 Wildcat yards, 6 Wildcat first downs, and 3 Wildcat points which came immediately following that fumble recovery later -- those same fans had to be some of the most miserable in the country. It's one thing to watch a poor football team; it's another to watch a team that seems so hopelessly outmatched on offense and doesn't seem to be showing any kind of week-to-week improvement. After failing to top 300 total yards against Louisville or Florida, the Wildcats have now failed to top 300 yards in their games against LSU and Carolina combined.

So about that kickoff: were those fans happy to have that one moment of joy? Or all the angrier for that joy being so completely misleading?

WINNER: Georgia's defense.

Before the game, we asked if the Bulldog secondary could live up its gaudy post-Boise State numbers against the likes of Tyler Bray and Da'Rick Rogers on the road at Tennessee. The answer: mostly. Bray and late-game injury replacement Matt Simms did throw for 290 yards at a perfectly respectable 7.3 yards-per-attempt clip, and without an interception.

But they never did throw a touchdown, either; in fact, the Volunteers were kept out of the end zone entirely until Simms snuck in from a yard out with only 2:45 to play in the game. Thanks to the Dawg defensive backs keeping the Vols in front of them, and the UGA front seven stuffing the pathetic Tennessee ground game to the tune of .4 yards per rush (yes, .4), Bray and Co. finished the game with all of 12 points on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs offense wasn't much to write home about -- Isaiah Crowell didn't even hit the 60-yard mark on the ground, the red zone offense sputtered, and like his Vol counterparts Aaron Murray threw neither an interception nor touchdown pass -- but after years of seeing their team score like a pinball machine only to lose after another lackluster defensive display, we expect Dawg fans will take it.

LOSER: Clarity in the SEC East.

South Carolina was the preseason favorite. They were the favorite after they beat Georgia. But then Garcia struggled and Florida beat Tennessee, and the Gators were the favorite. And then Carolina lost to Auburn and Florida lost to both Alabama, and lots of people considered Georgia as the new favorite. But now that Shaw looks to have healed the Gamecocks' Achilles heel ... are they the favorites? Or is Georgia, still, after beating Tennessee? Or is Florida just ripe to return once their schedule eases up? All we really know is that none of the other three teams is winning the division, and that the East winner is going to be a two-touchdown underdog to the West's come December. Past that? your guess is as good as ours.

WINNERS: Everyone who loves college football. Let's not go crazy by saying something like "LSU and Alabama isn't going to be the only game that matters in college football this season"; with Wisconsin, Stanford, Clemson, Boise State and of course Oklahoma all looking at potential undefeated seasons, it's too hasty to even lay claim to LSU and Alabama as the nation's best two teams.

That said: if you're a college football fan, and you've watched Alabama and LSU play this season, and you know how good they are, and you've considered how much fun it would be to watch them meet, undefeated, with a trip to Atlanta on the line on Nov. 5 ... then every week that passes with the two of them still unblemished is a good thing. This was one such week.





Posted on: October 8, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: October 8, 2011 12:26 am
 

QUICK HITS: Boise State 57, Fresno State 7

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BOISE STATE WON. Fresno State has been known to give teams a fight no matter what caliber they are but Boise State just blew them off the field Friday night. Quarterback Kellen Moore was precise throughout, with 243 yards and three touchdowns at halftime. He was pulled early in the third quarter despite some need to pad his stats for Heisman consideration and finished 23 for 31 and 253 yards. Despite the offense's trigger-man on the sidelines early, the team still rolled up 440 yards of offense and over five yards per play.

HOW BOISE STATE WON: Thanks to their play in the trenches, the Broncos came into the San Joaquin Valley and simply blew away their opponents. Moore was rarely pressured and even when he was, such as in the picture to the right, he still found an open receiver who often took it in for a touchdown. Newly reinstated wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn dropped an easy catch early in the game but made up for it by catching three passes, two of which were for a touchdown. The defense was aggressive and forced three turnovers before putting in the backups in the second half.

WHEN BOISE STATE WON: With over five minutes left in the first and already holding a lead, the Broncos defense forced a three and out with the Bulldogs deep in their own territory. After they got the ball back in Fresno territory, Boise State converted a key third down and ended the drive with a field goal that luckily clanked off the uprights and in. On the next series, Devon Wylie fumbled the ball and Boise recovered. The next play was a 25 yard touchdown off a reverse to make it 16-0 Broncos and the game was a blow out in the making at that point.

WHAT BOISE STATE WON: Style points. Chris Petersen's squad won in impressive fashion early in the game and steamrolled Fresno State on national television. The Broncos dropped a spot in the AP Poll before the week but this game should give voters pause if they're thinking of dropping them a spot or two this week. As impressive as Moore and company were on offense, this game also showcased the excellent defense. Keep in mind that Fresno State went on the road and gave Nebraska a game earlier in the year. Also, the 'Milk Can Trophy' will stay another year in the great state of Idaho.

WHAT FRESNO STATE LOST: At the very least, they didn't get shut out thanks to a 79 yard D.J. Harper kick return. With the two teams in separate conference this year - and only this year it looks like - this game doesn't hurt Pat Hill's chance of winning a WAC title but does drop his team to 2-4 on the year with a home game against Utah State next week. There were no significant injuries for the Bulldogs but no doubt they're a little black and blue after getting beat up at home.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Kellen Moore earned his 43rd win all-time with the program, passing Georgia's David Greene on the NCAA career wins list. He's just two games behind Texas' Colt McCoy for the all-time mark. Moore has just two losses in 45 games (96%) and figures to keep on winning with a marginal schedule left this year.

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 2:42 am
 

CBSSports.com Conference Power Rankings (Oct. 4)


Posted by Chip Patterson

Just after I wrote last week about how the Big 12 is pushing the SEC for the top spot in the power rankings, Texas A&M shows up with a monumental collapse against Arkansas in Cowboys Stadium. Despite the jokes about it being a "SEC West conference matchup," this was a poor display for the 2011 version of the Big 12. But the most glaring conference realization from Week 5 was in regards to the Big Ten.

Wisconsin handled Nebraska in Camp Randall easily, becoming a conference favorite and national title contender. But elsewhere in the conference, Michigan State and Ohio State - both ranked at the beginning of the season - played out a painful 10-7 Spartan victory that displayed more offensive inefficiencies than defensive dominance. Illinois and Michigan have been the surprises of the Big Ten this season, and if you have watched either team play that should not give the conference a ton of confidence.

The ACC has begun to make their case with the emergence of Clemson and Georgia Tech in the national spotlight. If Virginia Tech and Florida State can bounce back this weekend the league will have four teams in the rankings and boost their stock significantly. Mountain West had a rough weekend, and if the struggles continue it could end up costing Boise State a shot at the title. The most shake up in this week's rankings come near the bottom, where the Sun Belt has fallen two spots to last place.

You can give your opinion in the comment section below, but here are the CBSSports.com 2011 Conference Power Rankings heading into Week 6.


1. SEC (LW: 1)- Alabama and LSU continue on their warpath towards the Nov. 5 meeting in Tuscaloosa, but the conference takes a bit of a hit with Florida's stock dropping. As much as a mess the SEC East is, the West has four teams in the Top 15 of the AP Poll and the conference showdowns once again reminds us how big and bruising these SEC teams are, and why they have won the last five national championships.  The Big 12 was certainly pushing the SEC last week, but Arkansas' come-from-behind victory over future confernece rival Texas A&M has kept Mike Slive's conference in the top spot of the power rankings. 

2. Big 12 (LW: 2) - As mentioned above, the Big 12 does settle back into No. 2 after that monumental collapse by the Aggies in Arlington on Saturday. However, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be dancing their way to a Bedlam showdown for the ages. But Texas will have something to say about that in the Red River Shootout this weekend. The Longhorns have their quarterback situation sorted out, and have looked dominant in road wins over UCLA and Iowa State. Despite the off-field headlines, all seems normal on the field with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas vying for the Big 12 title.

3. Pac-12 (LW: T-3) - Stanford's seventh straight win of 26 points or more has reminded the nation that there is a powerhouse on the West Coast that does not quack. Arizona State survived Oregon State's best shot to preserve a solid representation in the polls, and Washington has emerged as a surprise thanks to a 4-1 start. The addition of Colorado no longer makes Washington State the conference door mat, and the Pac-12 leaps out of a tie with the Big Ten to hold third place to themselves in the power rankings.

4. Big Ten (LW: T-3) - Wisconsin's beatdown of Nebraska on national television cemented their status as a title contender and kicked off Russell Wilson's official Heisman campaign. But outside of Madison, there are a lot of question marks surrounding the Big Ten's "frontrunners." Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State all have displayed frustrating inconsistencies, and if the Cornhuskers are the second best team in the conference there is a huge gap between the Badgers and the rest of the league. Ohio State, on the other hand, is doing a great job of making headlines off the field. If the on-field performance won't cut it, at least the Buckeyes have that - right?

5. ACC (LW: 5) - The ACC is beginning to make a charge up the power rankings, but still don't quite have enough going for them to jump the Big Ten or Pac-12. Clemson's defeat of their third straight ranked opponent makes them the first ACC member to accomplish that feat in the league's history. Georgia Tech has also jumped into the scene with their 5-0 start thanks to one of the most productive offenses in the nation. Predicted division-winners Florida State and Virginia Tech haven't derailed just yet because of their 0-1 conference starts, and will be looking to bounce back in crucial division match ups this weekend.

6. Big East (LW: 6) - South Florida's rising bubble burst on Thursday night, getting embarrassed by Pittsburgh on national television. In the words of Adam Jacobi: "It's the Big East, where nothing that is supposed to happen happens!" West Virginia remains at the top of the pile, but the rest of the conference is up for grabs at this point. Some call it parity, others call it mediocrity, but the fact remains you never know what kind of performance you'll get your opposition in Big East conference play.

7. Mountain West Conference (LW: 7) - The Mountain West has slowly fallen from a borderline premiere conference thanks to several notable losses and a recent hiccup in the non-conference performance. In Week 5, the league went 1-3 in non-conference matchups - with Air Force's overtime victory against Navy as the only win. TCU's overtime loss to SMU is embarrassing for the league, and despite expectations Colorado State and New Mexico losing home games to WAC opponents doesn't help. None of this is helping Boise State's cause, who has continued to steamroll through their schedule.

8. Conference USA (LW: 10) - After a questionable start, Conference USA bounced back in a big way this past week - picking up three impressive non-conference wins. Marshall's takedown of Louisville, SMU's upset of TCU, and even Tulsa's victory over North Texas provided enjoyable entertainment for Conference USA fans. Even lowly UAB hung tight with Troy, one of the top teams in the Sun Belt. Tulane's loss to Army doesn't look great, but it was overshadowed by the big wins mentioned above.

9. MAC (LW: 8) - Western Michigan's takedown of Connecticut was the bright spot this weekend's MACtion, which featured four conference matchups while Ball State, Bowling Green, and Miami were fed to BCS Rancors. Toledo and Temple not nearly as close as I expected, with the Rockets jumping out to 15-3 first quarter lead and never looking back. Owls fans filled less than 22,000 of Lincoln Financial Field's 68,000+ seats, and the game did little but lock in Toledo's status as the conference favorite moving forward.

10. WAC (LW: 11) - San Jose State and New Mexico State delivered non-conference wins over Mountain West opponents while Nevada received the revenge punishment from Boise State on the Smurf Turf. Idaho put together a respectable performance taking Virginia to overtime on the road. Fresno State also came close to knocking off a BCS opponent last weekend, but blew a 28-27 fourth quarter lead to Ole Miss.

11. Sun Belt (LW: 9) - Not a great week for the Sun Belt. Conference favorites FIU suffered their second consecutive loss, and this time at the hands of Duke. Troy struggled to beat UAB, and one of the conference's only non-conference wins was Middle Tennessee squeaking past Memphis. When Louisiana-Lafayette is the conference leader, things aren't' off to a great start for the league.

Check back in to the Eye On College Football next week for the updated edition of the Conference Power Rankings.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:22 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 6:30 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 5

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

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

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

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: West Virginia

Everybody saw West Virginia up close two weeks ago when LSU came rolling into town for a big primetime match up. They also saw quarterback Geno Smith set a school record with 429 yards passing on 34 completions against one of the best defenses in the country. Sure, turnovers doomed the Mountaineers against the Tigers but they were still able to move the ball and made it a game before Morris Claiborne's kick return. This is an explosive offense and a solid enough defense that should be the leading contender to win the Big East. Yet they sit behind fellow one-loss teams Arkansas, Nebraska and Auburn. Considering that neither of those three lost to the highest ranked team in the land, WVU fans are right to be upset that they're behind them.

Overrated: Arkansas

  Top 10 teams generally don't fall into 18 point halftime deficits. One could argue that top 10 teams come back from 18 down but I think that's counterintuitive because, of course, good teams should be up by that much, not have to come back from it. The offensive and defensive lines are a mess, partly due to injury. Tyler Wilson has shown the offense hasn't really lost a step at the quarterback position and Ronnie Wingo/Broderick Green are a nice one-two punch but none of that matters. We knew the offense was going to be good. Before the season Bobby Petrino said this was his best defense he's had since becoming head coach of the Razorbacks but the Texas A&M game proved they weren't that great after allowing five touchdowns in the first half. They're a good team but ranked too high to be in the top 10 right now.

California Craziness

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

For the second week in a row, Wolf occupies this spot with his ballot. He's the only one to give Boise State a number one vote and has Oklahoma ranked lower than anyone as a result. Wisconsin is the lowest out of anybody too, they're 8th despite beating Nebraska 48-17. By the way, he had ranked the Cornhuskers 5th the week before so not sure how that works; beat a team you ranked in the top five by 31 and then put them behind Oklahoma State and Clemson? One loss Baylor is ahead of Texas and even 3-2 Notre Dame is in the top 25. All told he ranked five teams higher than anybody, had undefeated Illinois behind 10+ teams with a loss, included SMU in the poll but not Texas A&M and, oh yeah, had Florida State in the top 12.

What were you thinking? One vote teams

Dear coaches: I understand why you don't reveal your ballots for the poll from week-to-week. I know because one of you gave Ohio State a top 25 vote. You obviously have not watched the Buckeyes recently, since they're 108th in total offense, 91st in scoring and 104th in sacks allowed. They had 35 yards rushing against Michigan State last week. For the AP voters, there are plenty of one-vote rebels but at least we know their names. Here they are: Joe Giglio (Tennessee), Desmond Conner (Pitt), Ira Schoffel (Cincinnati). Three people also gave Penn State votes and four gave USC votes, proving they haven't seen the Nittany Lions on offense or the Trojans on defense.

Team bias

Our tech team at CBSSports.com is pretty awesome and came up with this neat tool to take a look at team and region bias in the AP Poll. Check it out below, it's a fun thing to play around with.




Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 2:48 am
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 5

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

4/5. Wisconsin

Wisconsin
jumped back up in the ratings after that legalized manslaughter it put on Nebraska, although the Badgers are still going to need to hope a couple teams lose in front of them before they can start even thinking about a championship. This is about where Wisconsin should be, since they're on a top tier with LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Boise State, Stanford, and probably Oklahoma State. The level of quality drops down pretty substantially after those seven, and with the exception of Stanford, all seven have a marquee victory that helps differentiate them from the rest of the pack. It's a shame that none of this top tier is remaining on Wisconsin's schedule, but the Badgers will likely make do with the rest of the Big Ten slate this year.

12/11. Michigan 

Apparently, voters have just been waiting for a reason to hail, hail to Michigan, because this is a meteoric rise in the polls; Michigan was 10 spots lower in both polls two weeks ago, and those two weeks have seen victories against San Diego State and Minnesota. SDSU isn't bad, but that's a game that even a hypothetical 25th-ranked team ought to win at least 90% of the time -- and don't get me started on what a horror show the Gophers are this year. Two straight road contests against Northwestern and Michigan State loom for the Wolverines. If they win both, they'll deserve a ranking this high. If not, well, they won't be rated this high anymore so the problem'll just take care of itself in pretty short order.

14/15. Nebraska

Not nearly low enough. I had them at 16th and anticipated a 10-13 point loss at Wisconsin -- anything closer than that, and I was willing to move Nebraska up, anything worse and the Huskers go down. They're now 21st on my list. The defense is a mess in pass coverage, Taylor Martinez is probably regressing in terms of his football IQ, and there's really only so much Rex Burkhead (whom I have totally come around on this year) can do. At least Ohio State comes to Lincoln this week, though. There's nothing a struggling defense could use more than an opposing offense that can't throw, and boy howdy, OSU cannot throw. If Nebraska wants to act like it deserves its ranking for once, this week is a good time to do it.

19/16. Illinois

It seems like a terrifying proposition to depend on Ron Zook-led teams to produce week after week, which is what being ranked this high entails -- especially this early in the season. But here we are, with Illinois at 5-0 and riding a three-game streak of three-point victories against legitimate competition. Even more terrifying: with Week 7 opponent Ohio State looking outright toothless, Illinois could easily be 8-0 headed into a road date at Penn State on October 29. Illinois. 8-0. It could happen. Strange times we live in.

NR/20. Michigan State

There's a good reason why Michigan State is 20th in the coaches poll and unranked in the AP version: the coaches poll is a joke. Seriously, they barely watch any games, especially considering how quickly their ballots need to be turned around for tabulation. Why are we including their polls in the BCS system again?

Also receiving votes:

Michigan State (154 AP votes), Penn State (9 AP votes, 54 coaches votes), Iowa (5 coaches votes), Ohio State (1 coaches vote)

I don't usually editorialize on the "also receiving votes" portion, but I'd love to know who gave Ohio State a vote so we could demand his immediate ouster from the voting. Sincerely, someone who has actually watched Ohio State play this year.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:44 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 4:30 pm
 

PODCAST: College Football Week 5 Review

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After whipping Nebraska Saturday is Wisconsin better than Oklahoma? Does Stanford have enough talent to win a championship? Is Illinois legit? Michigan? Texas? We give our thoughts on the Week Five action. Navy and Air Force played an epic game, Steve Spurrier screwed up, the Big Ten Legends Division is wide open, Washington got a sneaky win this week and Trent Richardson may win the Heisman.

To listen in a pop-out player, click here. Otherwise, hit play below.

Personally, I'd love to see Wisconsin and Oklahoma have it out on the field -- as would I with the Badgers and Boise State, Alabama, LSU, Stanford, you name it. The fact is that Nebraska has not been a very good team at any point this season, and Wisconsin is sufficiently good that it needs a legitimate Top 5 opponent to play before we can accurately figure out where the Badgers stand in the pecking order. They're likely to go undefeated, but then so is whoever wins between Alabama and LSU on November 5, and it wouldn't surprise me if at least two teams out of the trio of Boise State, Oklahoma, and Stanford did too.

Now would be as good a time as any to remind fans that college football has always aggressively opposed the type of playoff system that could help more accurately solve this dilemma, because that's not really what the powers that be have ever been interested in. 

If you enjoyed this podcast -- and let's be honest, you did -- be sure to subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes. 


Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 12:16 pm
 

Big 12 poll reactions, Week 5

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

3/1. Oklahoma

So it seems that Oklahoma playing its most complete game of the season only serves to knock the Sooners down a spot in the AP poll, as Alabama leap-frogged the Sooners this week. Which is kind of hard to argue against considering that Alabama beat up on a top ten team in Florida on the road and Oklahoma played Ball State. The coaches, however, remain firm in their selection of Oklahoma, because as I said last week, coaches only move teams down after they lose. So until Oklahoma does that, it won't matter what LSU and Alabama do, the Sooners are going to stay on top. Though it's also possible that Oklahoma could leap back in front of both LSU and Alabama in the AP poll next week depending on what it does against Texas.

6/7. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State pays the price for taking a week off. The Cowboys drop a spot in both polls because memories are short, and Boise State is still getting a first place vote in the AP poll. Look, I'm not going to knock Boise State, because it's a good team that has a great track record the last few years, but beating up on what looks like a bad Nevada team is not a good enough reason to put the Broncos ahead of the Cowboys in my opinion.

11/10. Texas

Wow, talk about a jump. Apparently beating up on Iowa State goes a lot further these days as it has in years past, as the Longhorns jump six spots in the AP poll and seven spots in the Coaches poll. Now, I'm not ready to say that Texas is a top ten team in the country just yet, but it is definitely improving and working its way back there. Still, this is a bit early and is more a reflection of the teams that dropped who were above Texas last week than Texas itself. That being said, if Texas goes out and beats Oklahoma on Saturday, then there will be no beef from me when it's in the top ten again next week.

20/21. Kansas State

I need to toot my own horn for a second here. Before the season started I appeared on the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast with Adam Aizer previewing the Big 12 this season. When asked who my sleeper team was in the conference this season, which team did I say? Yep, Kansas State, and I'd like to freeze that prediction in time right at this very moment. Thanks to a win over Baylor, Bill Snyder's Wildcats are ranked once again, and one of my predictions has finally come to fruitition. I don't care if Kansas State loses every game from here on out, I was still right for one week!

24/25. Texas A&M

Is Texas A&M better than the team we've seen the last two weeks? I hope so. When the year ends, will the Aggies be one of the best 25 teams in the country? Probably. Should they be ranked right now? No. I'm one of those crazy people who think that rankings should be based on what teams have actually accomplished to date, not what that team's potential is. So there's no way that a team who has lost as many games as it's won should be ranked in my opinion. 

25/UR. Baylor

Do coaches hate Baylor and Art Briles or something? For the first few weeks of the year, the coaches had TCU ranked higher than Baylor even though Baylor had just beaten TCU. Now, after one loss to Kansas State, the coaches remove Baylor from the poll entirely. Meanwhile, a couple of two-loss teams in Florida State and Texas A&M are still ranked, and one-loss teams like Michigan State and Auburn that haven't looked impressive at all are ranked as well. Robert Griffin makes one bad decision, though, and Baylor tumbles.

Others Receiving Votes

Texas Tech

I have no idea what Texas Tech was doing in the first quarter against Kansas on Saturday, but falling behind 20-0 did not look good. Thankfully for the Raiders, Tech woke up and realized it was playing Kansas, picked up the win and improved to 4-0. Now, a 4-0 Texas Tech team deserves to be ranked more than a 2-2 Texas A&M squad, but considering Tech's schedule to date, I can understand the voters trepidation. The quickest way for Texas Tech to fix that would be by beating Texas A&M this Saturday in Lubbock.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com