Posted on: September 26, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
LSU. We wrote late Saturday that you couldn't go wrong with either the Bayou Bengals or the Crimson Tide at the top of a ballot, so yes, from here LSU's ascension to the No. 1 spot in the AP poll looks entirely deserved. What's interesting is that the voting wasn't even that close; Les Miles's team drew more the double the first-place votes of previous No. 1 Oklahoma and the Tide combined.
Two points to be made from this development:
1. Aggressive nonconference scheduling can pay off. The "three victories over ranked teams on the road" soundbite is a bit of an exaggeration -- the "neutral" site in Dallas was far closer and cozier to LSU than Oregon, and Mississippi State, only No. 25 at the time, is deservedly nowhere near the polls now -- but there's still no question which team has the best overall resume in the country right now. That LSU is now in poll position to potentially lose a game somewhere and still reclaim their BCS title-game spot with a win over Alabama is a just reward for their willingness to challenge themselves.
2. The AP poll deserves kudos for their voters' willingness to respond to results on the field and adjust accordingly. It wasn't that long ago the Sooners would have held the top spot come hell or high water, as long as they didn't lose. Thankfully, where the AP is concerned, those times are behind us.
ALABAMA. As much fun as the polls are to track and debate, when you're in the Tide's position, it doesn't honestly matter where you're ranked at this stage. If Alabama continues winning -- particularly against LSU -- it will reach the No. 1 spot, no questions asked.
But it remains odd to see the Tide badly trailing LSU and Oklahoma in first-place votes, leaving them third in the AP and tied for second with LSU in the Coaches. If the Tide don't have LSU's overall body of work, in Saturday's total domination of Arkansas they also put together the most complete single-game performance of any team in the FBS this year, considering the opponent. With Oklahoma struggling to put away Missouri at home and Florida State absorbing a second loss (and in turn making the Sooners' win in Tallahassee less impressive), it's a close call ... but after watching Saturday's performance, we'd favor the Tide, and we find it surprising more voters don't.
SOUTH CAROLINA. The Gamecocks are now officially a top-10 team in both polls, moving up to 9th in the Coaches and 10th in the AP. But they're still not doing it by overwhelming the voters' impression of them; they simply moved up one spot to account for Texas A&M's loss in the Coaches and two for that and Florida State's in the AP.
No one in Columbia's going to complain about occupying a top-10 slot when Stephen Garcia's playing as poorly as he is, but we asked last week why the Gamecocks were ranked behind an Oregon team with a worse record and worse resume, and that still stands. Carolina is undefeated, the Ducks aren't; Carolina has beaten Georgia on the road, Navy and Vanderbilt all teams with better records than anyone the Ducks have beaten. To rank Oregon higher means voters are simply guessing that they're better--and at this point of the season, shouldn't they be relying on something other than guesswork?
FLORIDA. The Gators continue to rise, moving from 15th to 12th in both polls thanks to losses from the Aggies, 'Noles, and Razorbacks. The same complaint regarding Oregon could maybe be repeated here (the Ducks are one spot ahead in the Coaches, three in the AP), but with wins over FAU, UAB and a terrible Kentucky team, the Gators don't have nearly the quality-of-victory the Gamecocks do.
ARKANSAS. The Razorbacks fell to 18th in both polls, a slide of six spots in the Coaches and just four in the AP. This seems extremely generous on the part of the voters--yes, the Hogs are likely good enough to eventually win their way back into the top 15 or even top 10 by season's end, but at this point their entire resume consists of: 1. Blowing out an FCS team; 2. Blowing out New Mexico, potentially the worst team in the FBS; 3. Beating Troy by 10 points 4. Being routed by Alabama.
The Razorbacks are a good team. But until they prove it by beating quality competition, they have no business being ranked in front of teams like Michigan, Georgia Tech or Illinois, all of which have victories (or two) over likely bowl teams tucked away. Again: guesswork should be for preseason polls, not for those in Week 4.
EVERYBODY ELSE: In the Coaches, no other SEC team is receiving more than the 3 points pulled by Tennessee, good enough to make the Vols "No. 37." Auburn somehow checks in the third-team-out position in the AP -- clearly, not media members saw the Tigers wheeze past awful FAU Saturday night, when they outgained the Owls by all of eight yards -- but aren't quite "knocking on the door" of the poll yet; they're still 97 points behind No. 25 Arizona State.
Still, a win at South Carolina this weekend (however unlikely that seems after Saturday) would seem to lock up an AP spot for Auburn next week.
Tags: Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, FAU, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Illinois, Jerry Hinnen, Kentucky, Les Miles, LSU, Michigan Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Missouri, Navy, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Poll Reaction, Poll Reactions, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tennessee, Troy, UAB, Vanderbilt
Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:38 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There wasn't a lot of happiness surrounding the Oklahoma Sooners after their 38-28 win over Missouri Saturday, and at first most of it was because of what the Sooners felt like was poor play on their part--just ask either Travis Lewis or Brent Venables. But an announcement Sunday gave them even more reason for disappointment.
Per Oklahoma RapidReporter Andrew Gilman, head coach Bob Stoops confirmed Sunday that starting center Ben Habern would miss anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks with a broken bone in his arm suffered during the win over the Tigers. Habern underwent surgery late Saturday to repair a break in the radius, one of two bones in the forearm.
Stoops said that Habern could return to the starting lineup in as a little as four weeks if he moved to guard. But his injury will require him to wait at least six weeks before reclaiming his center position, and as many as eight.
Current starting left guard George Ikard is expected to take over for Habern at center, with his backup, senior Stephen Good, projected to pull in the starting lineup to replace Ikard.
A starter in 24 games entering this season, Habern was named freshman All-Big 12 in 2009 and was a preseason first-team All-Big 12 pick this year. Though his absence won't be felt this week against Ball State and we'd wager on him returning in time for the Sooners' Nov. 5 visit from Texas A&M, Habern may be missed during the Red River Rivalry game against Texas in two weeks.
If so, expect the Sooners to even less happy with the Missouri win than they already are*.
*Though All-American wide receiver Ryan Broyles will no doubt remember the weekend more fondly; he proposed to his girlfriend Sunday, who said yes. This is the second time we've reported a Sooner engagement at Eye on CFB -- Landry Jones's was the first -- and trust us, we're as surprised as you are.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 3:34 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 3:36 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
1. Oregon is still really, really good. The Ducks will take some heat from other parts of the country but there's no denying that they're still a great team and one that admirably lost to an LSU squad that could be the best in the country. The defense isn't quite there yet but the offense is starting to hit its groove as both Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are looking better than they did last year at times. This isn't a team that has put everything together - yet - but it's getting there. A notice to the rest of the Pac-12: the Ducks are running right at you.
2. So long USC, hello Arizona State. Just when it looked like the Trojans might be able to win the South division (without really winning the South division thanks to sanctions), Matt Barkley turned the ball over three times himself and USC collapsed under the weight of the Sun Devils' defense. Everybody thought this would be Dennis Erickson's year and it looked like the team was easily a top 25 team after beating Missouri. But they regressed when they went on the road for the first time and lost to Illinois. Now though, despite all the injuries, it looks like things are clicking on both sides of the ball. They may not be as flashy as Oregon nor can they execute as well as Stanford, but ASU looks like they're definitely the best team in the South.
3. Oregon State is really, really bad. Sure, the Beavers lost to lowly Sacramento State to open the season and got rolled by Wisconsin. But that was without their do everything-threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni. Even against a team like UCLA, with plenty of issues themselves, adding both players wasn't close to enough as the Beavers fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1996. It's still unclear if they have a quarterback after redshirt freshman Sean Mannion went 24-40 passes for 287 yards but was intercepted and had a costly fumble returned for a score. There's little to no consistency and execution one would expect from a Mike Riley coached team is just not there.
4. Cal and Washington will be two tough outs, especially the Huskies. The non-conference slate for both teams didn't really give us a chance to figure out how each would be this season but after the two squared off in Seattle, it's clear neither will be a push over in league play. That's not to say they won't be blown out a few times but both are good on offense and ok enough on defense to get into some shootouts. Keith Price has had no problem running things, nearly hitting the 300 yard passing mark while tossing three touchdowns on Saturday to lead the Huskies to their best start since 2006. Cal still has to work on late game execution but the Zach Maynard to Keenan Allen connection will be something every defensive coordinator will have to game plan for.
5. Still a long way to go for Colorado. Head coach Jon Embree earned his first win last week but getting his second will be a much more difficult task. The Buffaloes had not won a road game since Oct. 27, 2007 and while it was unlikely they were going to break the streak at the Horseshoe, they hardly looked competitive. Tyler Hansen was solid and didn't throw any picks but the offense still lost two fumbles in the first half and had nine penalties to go on top of a host of other gaffes. If they can't improve on their execution, it will be a long, long season in Boulder.
Tags: Arizona State, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Fischer, Cal, Colorado, Darron Thomas, Dennis Erickson, Illinois, James Rodgers, Joe Halahuni, Jon Embree, Keenan Allen, Keith Price, LaMichael James, LSU, Matt Barkley, Mike Riley, Missouri, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Sacramento State, Sean Mannion, Stanford, Tyler Hansen, UCLA, USC, USC, Washington, What I learned, Wisconsin, Zach Maynard
Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:00 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 1:01 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. It's deja vu all over again. You can change the location of the game. You can change the Texas A&M starting quarterback. Hell, you can even change Texas A&M's conference affiliation, but it seems you can't change the Aggies' ability to implode against Oklahoma State. Last year in Stillwater, Texas A&M had a 21-7 lead over the Cowboys heading into halftime, but the second half was a barrage of Jerrod Johnson interceptions that quickly turned into 28 unanswered points by Oklahoma State. A&M would battle back to tie the game, but a last second field goal by Dan Bailey gave OSU the 38-35 win.
On Saturday Texas A&M again dominated the first half taking a 20-3 lead into the locker room. Then the second half came, and so did the barrage of turnovers and the 27 unanswered points from Oklahoma State. The only difference was that this time around the Aggies never completed the comeback, and the last second points were given to A&M by Justin Blackmon on a safety. All of which means that Texas A&M won't get the ultimate last laugh of leaving the Big 12 for the SEC as the defending conference champions.
2. Oklahoma State is a legit threat to win the Big 12. There's no guarantee that the Cowboys are going to run the table for the rest of the regular season, as their history has proved to us time and again. Still, the chance remains that when Oklahoma comes to Stillwater on December 3rd, both teams will be 11-0 and the winner might not only be playing for the Big 12 title, but for a berth in the BCS championship game as well. Do you remember Bedlam last season? Yeah, now just picture that game with all of that on the line. Sounds pretty fun, no?
3. Justin Blackmon is mortal. Seriously, Justin, I do nothing but talk about how amazing you are to anybody that asks. Critics respond by saying that "he's not a polished route-runner" and I just laugh it off. So you're not the best route-runner, you're still the best everything else in the land. But then you go and do something like this on Saturday, and I can't defend that, man. Come on, help a guy out.
4. Oklahoma isn't at its best yet, but it's above average is still pretty good. The closest that Oklahoma has looked to perfection was in its opener against Tulsa, and that was a somewhat rusty season-opening performance. Since then we've seen the offense struggle against Florida State, and the defense not have the best of nights against Missouri. Through all of this, though, the Sooners are 3-0 and still on course to win the Big 12. If Landry Jones stops turning the ball over, and the defense plays up to its ability, then this team could be downright scary. At the moment, however, I would put both LSU and Alabama above the Sooners on my ballot.
5. Robert Griffin is the truth. I'm running out of superlatives for this kid, seriously. Just another night of RG3 completing 88% of his passes and accounting for 389 yards and 6 touchdowns in three quarters of work. Yaaaaawn. (I know, I know, let's see what happens when Baylor has to face Oklahoma and company.)
6. Who needs Bryce Brown? Coming into the year I thought Kansas State would surprise people thanks to Bryce Brown replacing Daniel Thomas at running back. Well, I was half right. Kansas State is surprising people thanks to a 28-24 win over Miami on the road this week -- does this mean Kansas State is better than Ohio State? -- but it's John Hubert doing the work. Hubert had 166 yards on 18 carries for the Wildcats against the Hurricanes on Saturday while Bryce Brown never touched the ball. If Hubert keeps playing like that, Brown won't be touching the ball any time soon either.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: September 25, 2011 12:10 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OKLAHOMA WON. There would be no upset over the top-ranked Sooners for Missouri this season, though it seemed it was possible early on. Missouri took a 14-3 lead on Oklahoma in the first quarter, but the Sooners responded with 28 unanswered points before finishing the night with a 38-28 victory. The Oklahoma offense had a much better night this week than it did against Florida State, even without Kenny Stills and Trey Franks around. Landry Jones finished the night with 448 yards and 3 touchdowns, though he also threw 2 interceptions. That gives Jones 4 interceptions on the season and only 5 touchdowns. Compare that to 2010 when he threw 38 touchdowns and was only picked off 12 times.
As for the rest of the Sooners offense, Ryan Broyles didn't seem to mind not having Kenny Stills around to divert attention, finishing the night with 13 catches for 154 yards and all 3 of Jones' touchdowns. Then there was running back/Subway sandwich artist Dominique Whaley who finished the night with 150 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Somebody get that kid a scholarship already.
HOW OKLAHOMA WON. One reason that Missouri beat Oklahoma last season was that the Tigers gashed the Oklahoma defense on the ground. Missouri had similar success on Saturday night, rushing for 233 yards, but Oklahoma was able to limit the big plays and keep Missouri out of the end zone. A couple missed field goals by Grant Ressel hurt Mizzou as well, as those 6 points could have played a role in the final quarter. Most important for the Oklahoma defense, it got off the field on third down, as the Tigers converted only 4 of their 13 attempts on third down.
WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. Missouri would add 14 points in the fourth quarter to make this game look a lot closer than it really was, but when Dominique Whaley broke loose for a 30-yard run and then pounded it in from 3 yards out for the score on the next play to make it 31-14 in the third quarter, you kind of got the feeling that Mizzou wasn't coming back. Still, you could say this wasn't officially iced until Jones and Broyles connected for their third score in the fourth quarter to make it 38-21 after Mizzou had cut it to a ten-point lead.
WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. The Sooners got some revenge for last season, which is nice, but more importantly this win kept the Sooners on track for a possible Big 12 title and national championship berth. There are still some big roadblocks in Oklahoma's way, but so far this year the Sooners are passing every test they've faced.
WHAT MISSOURI LOST. Missouri is not good enough to win the Big 12 this year, that much has been made clear through the first month of the season. That being said, I'm not sure Missouri really lost all that much in this game. This is a team that's likely looking at an 8-win regular season at best, and the Tigers still have a chance to do that. Though if James Franklin can become a more consistent passer, then the Tigers could surprise a lot of people.
THAT WAS CRAZY. As I said above, James Franklin has not been a consistent passer this year. Yes, he threw for 291 yards against Oklahoma on Saturday night, but he completed only 16 of his 32 passes. What is crazy to me, however, is the way Gary Pinkel ran the offense at times against Oklahoma. I can't remember how many times Mizzou faced a 3rd and long and ran the same quarterback draw play. Oklahoma knew it was coming, and stopped it repeatedly. Then in the fourth quarter, down 17 with under 5 minutes to go, Missouri kept calling the draw play or the read option. You're down three scores with less than five minutes to go! Your odds of winning aren't good at that point, but if you run out the clock they're non-existent!
Posted on: September 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 12:44 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Up north, fans at their tailgates are shivering, seeing their breath, and calling it "football weather." Down south, the fans are chanting "SEC! SEC! SEC!" Can't blame 'em. We have a loaded slate of afternoon games this week, which means it's right in the sweet spot for weather this time of year. Don't forget, though -- in a month or so, all these 3:30 games are going to be ending under the lights. Onward!
As always, all times listed are Eastern.
North Carolina at No. 25 Georgia Tech, 12:00, Atlanta, GA: Low 70s, clear
San Diego State at No. 22 Michigan, 12:00, Ann Arbor, MI: Low 60s, cloudy, showers
Portland State at No. 20 TCU, 2:00, Fort Worth, TX: Low 90s, clear
No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson, 3:30, Clemson, SC: Low 80s, partly cloudy
No. 13 Virginia Tech at Marshall, 3:30, Huntington, WV: Low 70s, partly cloudy
No. 14 Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama, 3:30, Tuscaloosa, AL: Upper 70s, clear
Western Michigan at No. 24 Illinois, 3:30, Champaign, IL: Mid 60s, cloudy, storms
South Dakota at No. 6 Wisconsin, 3:30, Madison, WI: Upper 50s, cloudy, showers
No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M, 3:30, College Station, TX: Low 90s, clear
No. 15 Florida at Kentucky, 7:00, Lexington, KY: Mid 60s, partly cloudy
UTEP at No. 18 South Florida, 7:00, Tampa, FL: Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, storms
Rice at No. 17 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Low 90s, clear
Vanderbilt at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Upper 70s, mostly cloudy, storms
No. 9 Nebraska at Wyoming, 7:30, Laramie, WY: Low 70s, clear
No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia, 8:00, Morgantown, WV: Low 60s, mostly cloudy
Missouri at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Low 70s, partly cloudy
Tulsa at No. 4 Boise State, 8:00, Boise, ID: Mid 80s, clear
Late night kickoffs
No. 23 Southern California at Arizona State, 10:15, Tempe, AZ: Upper 90s, partly cloudy, storms
No. 10 Oregon at Arizona, 10:15, Tucson, AZ: Low 90s, partly cloudy, storms
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Football Weather, Gameday Weather, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, Kickoff Weather, LSU, Marshall, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Portland State, Rice, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, South Dakota, South Florida, Southern California, Tailgate Weather, TCU, Texas A&M, Tulsa, USC, UTEP, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Weather Updates, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:57 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
Finally, we've reached the point of the season where conferences that aren't the Big Ten begin to offer actual meals rather than boring appetizers that add nothing. The SEC and ACC have delved into conference play a bit this season, but now the Big 12 and Pac-12 are diving in as well, which means we've got quite an impressive slate of games to sample from this weekend.
#22 Michigan vs. San Diego State - Big Ten Network 12pm ET
Brady Hoke is San Diego State's old coach (haven't you heard?), so that's all anybody's going to talk about during the game. Don't focus on that fact too much, though, otherwise you're liable to stop paying attention to Denard Robinson, and that's a terrible idea. If Shoelace plays four quarters Saturday, he'll put up mammoth numbers on the Aztec defense. - Adam Jacobi
#25 Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina - ESPN 12pm ET
The Yellow Jackets kick off conference play with one of their most formidable Coastal Division opponents in the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech leads the nation (yes, United States) in total offense right now, averaging just over 675 yards per game. The numbers have been inflated thanks to a schedule, but the potency of Paul Johnson's option offense cannot be underestimated. North Carolina's front seven is one of the ACC's best on paper, and Saturday is their chance for them to live up to the hype. - Chip Patterson
Pitt vs. Notre Dame - ABC 12pm ET
With so few must-see games going on in the morning, this matchup could prove to be quite entertaining. Notre Dame finally put a full 60 minutes together without driving off a cliff last week to pick up a win against Michigan State, and Pitt did quite the Notre Dame impression last Saturday while blowing a 27-10 lead over Iowa in the fourth quarter. Tune in for the future ACC follies! - Tom Fornelli
#3 Alabama vs. #14 Arkansas - CBS 3:30pm ET
The first clash of legitimate SEC heavyweights offers a compelling contrast in offensive styles: Arkansas's aerial circus of nationally-elite receivers and precision Tyler Wilson passes against a Tide attack that (thanks to the humdrum nature of AJ McCarron's performances to date) is likely to pound away with Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy, pound away some more, and when that fails? More pounding. Winner becomes heavy favorite to land at BCS bowl berth--at minimum. - Jerry Hinnen
#8 Texas A&M vs. #7 Oklahoma State - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
The Big 12 no longer has a championship game, but this one could serve as a mini-playoff. The winner of this contest between two teams ranked in the top ten moves on to face Oklahoma later this season in a game that will likely decide the Big 12 title. Aside from the BCS implications, however, this matchup should be incredibly entertaining for all involved, as the Oklahoma State offense faces its toughest test of the season so far. - TF
#21 Clemson vs. #11 Florida State - ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Seminoles enter Death Valley banged and bruised after their 23-13 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma. The most popular word in the pre game notes for Florida State is QUESTIONABLE, and thus so is the outcome of this game. Clemson finally got their offense going against Auburn thanks to Tajh Boyd and breakout freshman Sammy Watkins, and the Tigers have a lot of momentum with their Atlantic Division rivals coming to town. Last season this game was decided by a 55-yard walk-off field goal by Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins. Saturday's tilt could be just as close. - CP
Ohio State vs. Colorado - ABC/ESPN2 3:30pm ET
What looked like sort of a throwaway game in August now has some intrigue. Colorado's not very good at all, but Ohio State has its own quarterback issues to work out after last week's disastrous showing in a 24-6 loss at Miami. The game's in Columbus, so it's unlikely that all hell breaks loose, but if Colorado hangs around, you never know... - AJ
#12 South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt - ESPN2 7pm ET
The upstart Commodores move up about three or four classes from their featherweight bout against Ole Miss when they travel to Columbia to take on Marcus Lattimore and Co. Knowing that Lattimore will get his and that the terrors on the Carolina defensive front will hamper any effort to run, any chance of Vandy springing the upset rests in the passing game--in Larry Smith taking advantage of the soft Gamecock secondary, and the ballhawking Vandy defensive backs wringing a couple of game-changing turnovers out of Stephen Garcia. - JH
Kentucky vs. #15 Florida - ESPN 7pm ET
You there, good sir (or madam): do you enjoy the spectacle of wholesale slaughter? Do you take pleasure in the most savage of horse-whippings? Then may we please direct your attention this-a-way to yonder annual meeting between the Wildcats and Gators, won by the Floridians by an average of 42 points these past three years. And with these unfortunate Wildcats having had their offensive teeth removed this offseason just hence -- from cuspid to canine! -- this sideshow could be the bloodiest yet! - JH
#1 Oklahoma vs. Missouri - FX 8pm ET
Last year on a Saturday night in Columbia, the Oklahoma Sooners came into town sporting a new spot atop the rankings. They would not return home with that #1 next to their name. This season it's the Tigers who come to Oklahoma to once again face the top-ranked team in the land. Can Missouri destroy Oklahoma's national title chances two years in a row? Tune in to find out. - TF
#16 West Virginia vs. #2 LSU - ABC 8pm ET
Anticipation for this game has had Morgantown buzzing since Monday, and I suggest you are settled into your spot on the couch (if city officials haven't removed it yet) by kickoff. Dana Holgorsen's offense has been among the most efficient in the nation, and LSU's defense has worn down and broken every challenger they have faced. I expect the Mountaineers to feed off the home crowd and get a fast start, the question will be how long they can keep it up against the tenacious Bayou Bengals defense. It's the heavyweight match up of the evening - no reason to miss this one. - CP
LATE NIGHT SNACKS
Arizona vs. #10 Oregon - ESPN2 10:15pm ET
Oregon begins conference play this weekend and is looking for their 13th-straight league victory against Arizona. The Ducks have bounced back from their opening loss against LSU to blow out a pair of opponents and get the offense cranked up again. Arizona is in the middle of a rough stretch to open the season but they do have an excellent quarterback in Nick Foles, the third best passer in the country, who has yet to throw an interception. - Bryan Fischer
Arizona State vs. #23 USC - ESPN 10:15pm ET
Though USC is ineligible for the Pac-12 South title, they will essentially be settling it on the field as the Trojans head to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Dennis Erickson's team fell to Illinois in a close game last week but are hoping to get things going again. ASU has lost 11 straight to USC so this game is about more than winning a game, it's about ending a long streak with the best team the Sun Devils have had. This game is worth watching just to see linebacker Vontaze Burfict take on Matt Barkley and Robert Woods. - BF
Tags: A.J. McCarron, ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Brady Hoke, Bryan Fischer, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Denard Robinson, Dennis Erickson, Dustin Hopkins, Eddie Lacy, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Jerry Hinnen, Kentucky, Larry Smith, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Matt Barkley, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Mountain West, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Paul Johnson, Pitt, Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, San Diego State, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, Vontaze Burfict, West Virginia
Posted on: September 22, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 11:06 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Eye on College Football: The latest conference realignment news
RapidReports: Up to the minute information on conference shifts
Chaos? Nah. We're all one big happy family.
Texas is in. Oklahoma too. Missouri has helped lead the charge.
That's the message that came out of middle America Thursday night. The Big 12 was saved and nine teams are committed to the future. Things were different, it was time to move forward.
Despite the Sooners flirting with the Pac-12 and the Tigers with the SEC, everybody was staying put. The other Big 12 schools pledged solidarity led by the two schools who had explored leaving more than anyone.
Make no bones about it, Oklahoma wanted to go West and the only way that could have happened was if they could have convinced Texas to make concessions. That didn't happen and the Sooners had to concentrate on saving the conference they had spend the past 16 years in.
"This is a positive development for our state," President David Boren said. "It's a win-win for all of us. I'm optimistic about the future of this conference."
Never has there been so much optimism about a conference that someone wanted to leave days earlier than there was Thursday night in Norman.
Commissioner Dan Beebe, as part of the demands made by the Sooners, was pushed out in favor of former Big Eight commish and current consultant Chuck Neinas. Beebe would likely have been looking for a new job regardless what happened this week after the Big 12 nearly imploded for a second time in just over a year. He was placed in an impossible situation - between a rock (Texas), a hard place (Oklahoma) and a vulture (Larry Scott) - but he did an admirable job considering the circumstances.
Beebe did, after all, keep the league together following the departure of Colorado and Nebraska and added a millions to every school's coffers with a big second tier rights agreement. The commissioner's best move might have been, however, giving life to a hilarious alter ego on Twitter.
“I have been honored to serve the Big 12 Conference for the past eight and one-half years, including the last four-plus as its commissioner," Beebe said in a statement. "I care deeply for these fine institutions and the citizens they represent. It is satisfying to know the Big 12 Conference will survive, and I congratulate the members for taking strong action to ensure a bright future as a premier intercollegiate athletics conference."
Beebe's next move is anyone's guess. He'll be well taken care of after negotiating out of a new contract that was signed just last year. Perhaps he should head back to the NCAA, where he once was an investigator on staff, and help President Mark Emmert navigate the murky waters of college athletics he knows all to well.
"The bottom line is we achieved substantial reforms," Boren said. "We feel extremely good."
Yet, in a move reflective of how dysfunctional the conference still was, confusion reigned before, during and after Missouri and Oklahoma's dueling press conferences to announce those reforms. At one point, Boren's voice came through while Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton was speaking on his call. One school leader said one thing, another school's leader said something slightly different.
Boren filibustered - he is a former senator - about the Big 12 agreeing to a six-year grant of right for each all first and second tier media rights. Everybody was putting their faith in the conference for the next six years. Television revenue would be shared equally for the first time in the league's history. All for one (conference), one for all.
But that wasn't what the Tigers said. A spokesman told the New York Times that there was only "an agreement to pursue the grant of rights." Oklahoma's general counsel later told the Associated Press no contracts were signed.
The Big 12 schools wanted to imprison themselves to a conference hours from breaking apart but they couldn't even do that properly. To say that was this whole saga in a nutshell would be doing it a disservice. Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be about saving something but what, exactly, was that?
Everybody was moving forward together, but are they really? Sschools were concerned about Texas and ESPN's Longhorn Network yet they had just gotten engaged to be married the next six years without any promises in return about LHN. Boren later added that it "was very possible" Oklahoma would be the second school with their own network. Instead of working on a problem, it appears the Sooners would rather double-down.
Texas has always been about Texas. The Pac-12, under Scott, has always been about the conference and the biggest reason as to why they wouldn't budge to meet the Longhorns' demands. The same is true in the Big Ten where just a few years ago they extended their grant of rights at least 20 more years. Schools have gone all in on their conferences while Texas hasn't. They've gone all in on Texas.
And that's their right. But if it looks like an independent (The Longhorn Network), walks like an independent (exploring life after the Big 12 numerous times) and talks like an independent (DeLoss Dodds), then the Longhorns might just be an independent.
And that's what needs to change. We'll see how firmly committed to the Big 12 Texas really is over the coming weeks and months.
"There are a number of trust issues that have to be discussed," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said earlier in the day. "I think there is a commitment that has to be discussed long-term."
Trust or no trust, the Big 12 schools are about to sign a binding agreement no one wants to sign.
"The University of Missouri is going to continue to work for what is best for the University of Missouri," Deaton said. "We have seen that aligned with the Big 12 Conference and we will continue to work with the various issues we have within the conference to carry it forward."
Conspicuously absent from all the activity was the one school that everybody was upset at. Accused of running the conference via proxy, ruining the Sooners' hopes of heading west and driving rival Texas A&M to another conference, one didn't hear much - if anything - about the Texas.
"The University of Oklahoma has no decision to drive the train anywhere. We have no desire to dominate the Big 12 conference," Boren said. "I hope no one will write in the future that anyone is driving the train in this conference."
Boren's right, it's not time to write, it's time to toast. The Big 12 has been saved.
To six more years of hating Texas!