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Tag:Alamo Bowl
Posted on: February 9, 2012 3:18 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Roundtable: Backing the Big Ten plus-one

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron-style to answer a pressing question in the world of college football. Today's query:

What are the chances of the BCS adopting the Big Ten's home-field semifinals playoff proposal? And if they do, how much of a good thing (if at all) is that for college football? 

Tom Fornelli: I think it's clear at this point that the playoff is coming. Whether or not it's going to be the Big Ten's proposal of the top two seeds hosting semifinal games, I'm not sure.

I do think that's the best way of going about things for the schools and fans, though. It would minimize travel costs for the schools, and it's the only way to make things fair. Hosting the games at places like the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl wouldn't be. Right now, if you're a Big Ten or Big 12 team and you land in the top two, you're not only traveling outside your home state but your entire conference footprint to play in those locations.

Plus, how exciting would it be to see a school like Florida possibly having to travel up north to play Wisconsin in Madison during December? We already know what happens to the Big Ten when it has to head south for the winter. With this proposal we'd get to see what happens to the SEC when it's forced to head north.

As for whether or not this would be a good thing for college football, I don't see how it would be a bad thing. You take a lot of the money that you've been giving to bowl games and put that cash into the schools. Plus, as long as you keep the playoff to the top four teams, get rid of the BCS AQ statuses and everything else, you can restore the bowl traditions that are so important to everybody.

Chip Patterson: I'm with Tom: I don't see how this could be a bad thing. I certainly understand there are plenty of concerns along the way, but any step in this direction is one I support.  

Allowing the top two seeds to host the semi-final games also keeps the integrity of the BCS system intact.  At its core, the system is meant only to determine the two best teams in college football.  Now those two teams will have the advantage of getting to play the gridiron's version of the Final 4 round on their home turf.    Those who are calling for a large-scale playoff would likely be appeased with this one step forward, and the bowl experience that means so much to the fans and players can continue as it has for years.  There is no rich tradition for the BCS National Championship Game itself, so altering the process at the top does not hinder the game of college football. 

Jerry Hinnen: I'm afraid I can see how this proposal could be, if not a bad thing, a worse thing than it should be. 

There's two downsides to the Big Ten's plan as presented. The first is that it proposes to yoink those top four teams out of the bowl pool entirely, meaning that the two semifinal losers wouldn't get the bowl experience at all, despite having the kind of season that would have put them in the BCS top four to begin with. If you're, say, Stanford and your postseason experience is traveling to Columbus to watch your season end in front of 100,000 Buckeye fans in 25-degree weather, I'm not sure at all that's going to feel like much of a reward. I'd much prefer the semifinals be played in mid-December, with the losers still eligible for BCS selection; it's better for the teams (who get their deserved week of bowl festivities) and better for the bowls (who get better matchups). 

The other downside is an unavoidable one: that this could be the first step down that slippery slope to the sort of eight- or 12- or 16-team playoff that sees the college football equivalent of the New York Giants ride a single hot streak past more deserving teams to a national championship. This is another reason the Big Ten proposal should do more to placate the major bowls--they've collectively taken a lot of heat for their role in preserving the BCS's current status quo, but their money and influence are also a key line of defense in ensuring the "plus-one" doesn't become a "plus-six."

But whatever downsides you come up with are always going to pale in comparison to the upside. The biggest flaw of the BCS has always been the No. 3 team that deserved its shot as much as either (or both) of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams and didn't get it, the team that -- as Phil Steele has called it -- needs to be in the playoff. The squabbles over No. 4 vs. No. 5 are going to continue, yes, but that's a small price to pay for giving 2001 Miami, 2003 USC, 2004 Auburn, 2010 TCU, or 2011 Oklahoma State their shot. Giving them that shot in an electric on-campus atmosphere -- be it in the Midwest, on the West Coast, the Southeast, wherever -- makes a huge triumph for college football that much more, well, huge.

Bryan Fischer: We're moving toward change, but what form it takes certainly remains to be seen. Let's be clear that there were something like 50 proposals presented at the last BCS meeting, so what's notable is not this specific Big Ten proposal but the fact that the conference has changed its tune and is open to some sort of playoff.


Jim Delany has two things he is looking to accomplish no matter what happens with the BCS: keep the Big Ten in a seat of power and protect the Rose Bowl. This proposal does both and seems to be a win-win for just about everybody. I think we're moving in the right direction and Delany is finally going with the flow instead of obstructing it.

Having seen how well things worked out for the Pac-12 with an on-campus championship game, I'm in favor of including a home field advantage tie-in no matter what proposal surfaces. The detractors are always worried about the regular season and keeping the bowl system and a plus-one/four-team playoff would make things meaningful during the year and keep the current structure (more Alamo Bowls!) in place. The most interesting thing, to me, will be how long we'll be stuck with the system. It could be a 10-plus year deal--which is interesting if tweaks need to be made in order to ensure a better playoff system.

TF: I would think that the any deal has to be longer than 10 years, just because conferences are going to want to keep things from expanding to 8 teams or 16 teams for as long as possible. Because we all know that as soon as the four-team playoff begins, then so will the "Expand the playoffs!" arguments. 

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:25 pm
 

RapidReport Roundup: LSU vs. Alabama

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Rounding up all the latest from CBSSports.com Alabama and LSU Rapid Reporters Jim Dunn and Glenn Guilbeau ... and what it might mean for the big game.

  
  

Don't expect a blowout. “Every game I think we played against LSU in the last five games comes right down to the wire, some kind of way," Nick Saban said Sunday, and he's not exaggerating. Those five games -- all since Saban took over in Tuscaloosa, transforming what had been your average SEC blood feud into something even more intense between his former and current teams -- and have been decided by a total of 28 points, with two games going into overtime and none featuring a margin greater than 2009's nine. Whether or not the rematch lives up to the hype of the first meeting from an aesthetics standpoint (and there are those, of course, who will argue the first meeting already did), there's little doubt the final minutes will be as dramatic as ever.

Optioning away from the option? One of the key factors in LSU's win in the Prematch was their success with an option play featuring Jordan Jefferson and Michael Ford, a look which -- thanks to Jefferson's reduced role as Jarrett Lee started -- the Tigers had barely shown entering the game. The usually uber-prepared Tide defense seemed to be caught off guard, but Ford isn't expecting that to be the case the second time around.  "Alabama will be better against it this time," Ford said. "So we've just got to trick 'em -- act like we're going to run the option and run something different. When me, (tailback/fullback) Kenny Hilliard and Jordan Jefferson are in there, it's scary. It opens everything up. We can run between the tackles with Kenny. We can go option with me. Or we can throw it. You don't know what's coming at you."

That's not wrong, and both Jefferson's ascension and Hilliard's late-season charge are two reasons that the Tigers can hope for more offensive success than they saw on Nov. 5. But with the Tide knowing that LSU knows they might have to move away from the option, we might encourage the Tigers to stick with it--big plays against the Tide defense are precious, and proper execution might give them one against a defense that's looking for the change-up away from it.

First opponent: the layoff. Saban has never lacked for confidence in his coaching approach (and why would he, given the results), so it was somewhat surprising to hear him admit Sunday -- even after taking his Tide to the BCS national championship game in 2009-10 -- he isn't entirely sure how to handle the lengthy span between the end of the regular season and the title game. “When you have this much time between games, obviously you're always wondering as a coach. 'Are we practicing enough? Are we practicing too much?'" Saban said.

One could argue that uncertainty has played itself out in Saban's bowl record--his 6-3 mark is well above-average, but it's included a couple of clunkers, like the 2008 Tide's inexplicable blowout loss to Utah. (Miles, meanwhile, is 5-1 at LSU.) That's probably too small a sample size to make any firm conclusions, and it's not like the Tide haven't had several impressive bowl wins under Saban, too--last year's utter demolition of Michigan State being Exhibit A. But if we had to pick a team that might come out a little less certain than the other, especially in New Orleans, we'd lean towards Alabama.

Other tidbits. Miles says his team is ready. "They're a team that loves to play. The lights come on, and they want it. This will be a game that will be very representative of that" ... Saban said win or lose, there's one change coming Monday. “Every time we play LSU, I've got to change my phone number because people blow up my phone,” he joked ... Judging from the reaction to games like the Alamo Bowl and Rose Bowl, we're not sure fans are really clamoring for another field goal-decided slugfest. But Ford disagrees. "I don't think that's a game," he said of the pinball bowl games. "I think people get tired of seeing all those points on the board. They want to see a hard-fought game" ... LSU isn't a bigger rival for Alabama than Auburn, but Mark Barron says the gap is shrinking. “This is a rivalry that's grown over the years here recently due to the level of competition. I wouldn't say it's bigger than the Auburn rivalry, but it's growing slowly." After two No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in the space of three months, here's wondering if by the end of the night, it's moved far past growing "slowly."

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Report: Washington hires Justin Wilcox as DC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

After one of the worst defensive performances in college football history - 777 yards and 67 points allowed - in the Alamo Bowl, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian quickly let go of his entire defensive staff, including highly paid coordinator Nick Holt.

Just as quickly as Baylor's offense was able to move down the field, Sark has found a replacement in former Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, according to ESPN.com. Volunteers linebackers coach Peter Sirmon is also making the trip to the Northwest.

Wilcox came to Knoxville after coordinating Boise State's defense for four years, including 2009 when he shut down Oregon and TCU en route to a perfect season and top 15 finish in most defensive categories. He has plenty of Pac-12 experience having played four years at Oregon along with coaching linebackers for three seasons at California. He was pursued by Texas last year before turning down Mack Brown to remain at Tennessee but with head coach Derek Dooley on shaky ground at the moment, appears to have jumped at the chance to head out of town after two seasons.

Sirmon, who was Wilcox's roommate at Oregon, is known as a terrific recruiter and will replace fired linebackers coach Mike Cox on the Huskies' staff. A Washington native, he spent seven years playing in the NFL before beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Ducks.

Tennessee finished the year ranked 28th in total defense despite a 5-7 record. The Vols showed significant improvement despite depth issues after winding up 69th in total defense in 2010.

Wilcox, who was making roughly $600,000 at Tennessee, also figures to get a nice raise. Holt was among the highest paid assistants in the country and with the Pac-12 flush with cash thanks to their new media deals, it's likely the Huskies new defensive coordinator should have plenty of cash to buy a nice house in Seattle.


Posted on: December 31, 2011 11:14 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Auburn 43, Virginia 24

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

 

AUBURN WON: A Tiger offense that had been in second gear since September and was missing leading rusher Michael Dyer suddenly roared to life in Gus Malzahn's final game at the helm, scoring 43 points and racking up 454 yards, both season highs allowed (or are they lows?) for the Cavalier defense. But the story of the game was Auburn's dominance on special teams, where the Tigers blocked not one but two Virginia punts (leading to nine points), foiled a fake Cavalier field goal, successfully executed a surprise onsides kick and set up a field goal with a 62-yard Quan Bray kick return. The Tiger offense was the best it had been since Week 2 vs. Mississippi State, if not all season--but it also had the benefit of a lot of help.

WHY AUBURN WON: Those special teams played the largest role, but if the same Tiger offense that had shown up over the last half of the season had shown up in Atlanta, those special teams wouldn't have mattered for much. The difference was an unusual source for a spark: demoted backup quarterback Barrett Trotter, benched at midseason for Clint Moseley and not even considered a part of the team's bowl preparations with freshman Kiehl Frazier being groomed for a larger role. But Moseley left the game after just one series with an ankle injury, and Trotter stepped into hit 11 of his 17 passes for 175 yards and 1 touchdown.

Sure, the total yardage number isn't all that eye-popping. But Trotter only needed to make a couple of throws downfield -- the prettiest a 50-yard in-stride bomb to Emory Blake to set up a second-quarter touchdown -- to open up the Auburn screen and running games that had been bottled up since the early stages of the season, thanks to the lack of deep accuracy from the Tiger QBs (Trotter included). With everything in the playbook at his arsenal (including the read options Cam Newton used to great effect last season, thanks to Frazier's repeated successful cameos), Malzahn was unable to unleash the kind of offensive barrage that's made his name as a coach. 

Virginia's offense had its moments -- the Cavaliers had 435 yards of their own -- but with the Tigers clicking the way they were and the UVa special teams providing less than no help, they missed far too many opportunities to keep up.

WHEN AUBURN WON: Tiger placekicker Cody Parkey had a nice night, depositing five of his eight kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks, perfectly executing the onsides, and hitting 3-of-4 field goals. The last of those put Auburn up 43-24 with just over 8 minutes to play, and effectively ended the game.

WHAT AUBURN WON: Their fifth straight bowl game -- good for a share of the nation's longest bowl streak, tying Rutgers and Mississippi State -- and an eighth game for third time in Gene Chizik's three-year tenure. Given Auburn's schedule and the massive roster attrition following last year's run the national title, the Tigers can't feel disappointed about their 2011 effort.

WHAT VIRGINIA LOST: A chance at a first bowl victory since 2005, but given where the program was when Mike London arrived, the Cavs will happily take 8-5 and a Chick-Fil-A bowl appearance, we think.

FINAL GRADE: Though the outcome left the realm of doubt sometime during the third quarter, the ample offensive fireworks, aggressive coaching from both sidelines, and big plays made the game a breezy, enjoyable watch all the same. It wasn't the Alamo Bowl, but what is? B.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:06 pm
 

QUICK HITS: BYU 24, Tulsa 21 at Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



BYU WON: Riley Nelson 
hasn't put up the kind of stats BYU quarterbacks have historically/traditionally put up, but after two-thirds of a season as a starter, he's already etched himself into Cougar lore as one of the clutchest signal-callers the school has seen. After a season full of late-game heroics, Nelson did it again, taking over at the Tulsa 48 and guiding his team to the game-winning touchdown with just 11 seconds to play. That score came on a two-yard throw to receiver Cody Hoffman -- his third touchdown reception of the game -- after Nelson faked a clock-stopping spike a la Dan Marino. 

The Cougars trailed 14-3 20 minutes into the game but held the high-powered Golden Hurricane to just one touchdown over the final 40, and only 268 total yards for the game overall.

WHY BYU WON: Because Tulsa just couldn't keep their boot on the Cougars' throat. BYU was just this side of gawdawful in the first half, with Nelson erratic, the defense up-and-down, and the run game ineffective. When the Cougars punted the ball back to the Golden Hurricane with less than a minute left in the first half -- their fifth punt in seven possessions, with one of the others ending in a Nelson pick -- it appeared they would head into the half down 11 and with Tulsa in firm control. But punt returner J.D. Ratliff fumbled the punt under pressure, and the Cougars cashed in with a one-play, 17-yard touchdown "drive."

Thanks to G.J. Kinne executing a clinical 58-yard TD drive of his own early in the fourth, the Golden Hurricane were again in position to put the victory securely in their grasp when a BYU running-into-the-kicker call gave them the ball with a 21-17 lead and under 6 minutes to play. Instead they went a meek three-and-out (just as they had before the penalty), the next time they got the ball bask it was with a three-point deficit and only 11 seconds left. BYU was the better team on the stat sheet (with a 343-268 total yardage advantage), but the Cougars still never would have won this game without Tulsa's willingness to help them out at exactly the moments BYU needed that help the most.

WHEN BYU WON: When Nelson's fake spike threw the Golden Hurricane defense off just enough for Hoffman to come open in the front corner of the end zone. With so little time remaining, Tulsa's only hope was a crazy last-second lateral play that didn't make it past midfield.

WHAT BYU WON: Their first bowl game as an independent, a final 10-3 record that cements the program's continued relevance without a conference affiliation, and a bundle of optimism entering Nelson's senior year. It wasn't always pretty, but Bronco Mendenhall will surely take it.

WHAT TULSA LOST: Their fifth game of the season, which isn't so bad considering the first three came to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. But if the 2011 Golden Hurricane were ever going to be anything other than just another pdecent Conference USA team, they needed to stay beat (or at least stay competitive with) Houston or win this very winnable bowl game. That they didn't do either means that it's been a nice enough debut season for Bill Blankenship, but not one anyone's going to remember as ultimately "special."

FINAL GRADE: The two teams combined for 611 yards of offense, or some 160 fewer than Baylor managed last night alone. Though the ending offered plenty of drama, the first 59 minutes offered far more in the way of punts, turnovers, and generally disorganized, sloppy offensive play. Kudos to a pair of defenses that showed up to play, but from an aesthetic standpoint -- especially in the immediate wake of the all-timer at the Alamo Bowl -- this was a snooze. C+.

Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 67 Washington 56



Posted by Tom Fornelli


BAYLOR WON. Well, Baylor did win the game, but in reality anybody who watched the Alamo Bowl on Thursday night won. Except for defensive coordinators around the country who no doubt found themselves curled up in the fetal position mumbling something about open-field tackling while drooling on themselves by the time this one was over. This is not an easy game to recap because so much happened. It's kind of like the night you went out to celebrate your 21st birthday. You know you had a good time doing it, but you don't remember most of it.

Still, I shall try.

There were 17 touchdowns scored in this game. That's one touchdown for every 3 minutes and 31 seconds of game time. Baylor and Washington combined for 123 points (2.05 points per minute) and 1,397 yards of total offense. Robert Griffin had 350 total yards and 2 touchdowns and he wasn't even the best quarterback in San Antonio as Washington's Keith Price went for 477 total yards and 7 touchdowns. And his team lost! Then there was Baylor's Terrance Ganaway, who rushed for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns (as a team Baylor rushed for 482 yards). Of the 17 touchdown drives in this game, 11 took less than 3 minutes off of the clock.

I'm not sure who the leading tackler was, but if he had more than 3 tackles I'll be shocked because I'm not sure there were 3 tackles in this entire game. It was insane, it was never-ending, and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

WHY BAYLOR WON. There's really no one thing that happened in this game that you can pinpoint as the reason that Baylor won, but if you had to give one of the "defenses" credit, I'd guess it would have to be Baylors. Not only did they hold Washington under 60, but the Bears outscored the Huskies 43-21 in the second half.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. The game came to an end when Washington faced a 4th and 8 in the final minutes while down 60-56 and couldn't convert. Though when Ganaway broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown a few plays later to make the score 67-56 with 2:28 left in the game, you legitimately wondered if Baylor had left too much time on the clock.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Baylor won it's tenth game of the season, which is a huge milestone for the program. It also helped showcase just how insanely good a year Heisman winner Robert Griffin had. I mean, Griffin played on a Baylor team that allowed 35.7 points per game coming into this game, and gave up 56 points on the night, and the Bears still won 10 games. Wrap your head around that one. 

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST. Well, each player on Washington probably lost about 15 pounds in this game from running up and down the field for 60 minutes. Other than that, I'm not sure you can say the Huskies lost all that much. We saw the same Huskies tonight that we've seen all season: a team that is very capable of putting 50 points on the board but just as capable of allowing 60. Much like the team they played. Yes, this is a loss that stings as all losses do, but it won't be long before everyone on this Washington team looks back on this game and can do nothing but laugh at the insanity of it all.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Have you read this recap? This entire game was crazy.

FINAL GRADE: A++++++++. I'd give it more pluses but you probably get the point. No, this game was not the type of game that defensive-minded football fans would enjoy, but it was 60 minutes of pure entertainment. There is not a single doubt in my mind that anybody who watched will forever remember this Alamo Bowl.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Alamo Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Alamo Bowl

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor vs. Washington pass defense

Though some of you may have not been familiar with him before the season started, every college football fan in the world knows who Robert Griffin is now. Winning the Heisman tends to increase your visibility. Of course, knowing who Robert Griffin is is a lot easier than having to stop him, and that's what Washington will be dealing with down in San Antonio during the Alamo Bowl.

It sounds incredibly simple because it is: Washington is not going to win this game if it can't corral Griffin. Easy to know, hard to do.

Even harder when you realize that the Washington pass defense hasn't exactly been good in 2011, allowing 283.8 yards per game with a defensive pass efficiency of 136.05. Both of those numbers put Washington's pass defense in the bottom third of the country. The Huskies also only managed 10 interceptions on the season, while allowing 21 passing touchdowns, so the idea that they'll be able to get Griffin (he of the 6 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio) seems to be a silly one.

Still, in order for Washington to have a good chance of winning this game, the Huskies will have to figure something out. Whether that means playing their safeties incredibly deep and forcing Baylor to dink and dunk down the field or some other strategy, they have to do something.

If not, well, then Griffin's final game as a college quarterback should be one to remember. 
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alamo Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: This may be a perfect matchup for Baylor. Not only is the game being played only a few hours away from the school's campus, but the Bears will also be facing a defense that hasn't shown much ability to stop anybody this season. Against the top three scoring offenses in the Pac-12 (Stanford, Oregon and USC) the Huskies allowed an average of 46.33 points a game. Which is music to the ears of a Baylor offense that finished the season averaging 43.5 points per game and has the Heisman Trophy winner handling the ball on every snap. This could be Robert Griffin's final game in a Baylor uniform, and he's going to want to end his college career with a bang. Washington will present him with a great chance to do so. Of course, as is usually the case in Baylor games, if the Bears want to win then the defense is going to have to make some stops.

We know the Bears will score points, but while Washington's offense isn't on the same level as Baylor, it can put points on the board too. So a Baylor defense that has given up 35.7 points per game this season is going to have to play a bit better than that if the Bears want to finish the season with 10 wins.

WASHINGTON WILL WIN IF: The Huskies are going to need to have their best defensive effort of the season to pull this one off, or at the very least, force enough turnovers to keep themselves in the game. Facing a passing attack like Baylor's is not good news for a Washington pass defense that has allowed opponents to complete 62% of their passes at 7.5 yards per attempt. Which means that the best way for Washington to slow RG3 will probably be to get pressure on him, which won't be easy given Griffin's mobility and the fact that the Huskies haven't had a great pass rush this season. Further complicating things is the fact that the Huskies defense has allowed over 4.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs this season as well, so even if Washington can keep Griffin in check, it'll still have to deal with a Terrence Ganaway and a Baylor offense that averages 215 rushing yards a game.

So the best bet for Washington in this one may be to get into a shootout and hope it has the ball last. Scoring points is something that Washington has shown it's capable of this season, with both Keith Price and Chris Polk proving to be hard to stop. The problem is that while the Huskies averaged 35.6 points per game in their first 8 contests, they averaged only 23.25 points a game over their last 4, so it's no surprise that Washington lost 3 of those games. The good news for Washington is that Baylor's defense has a unique ability to make your offense look a lot better than it is.

X-FACTOR: Chris Polk. We've already gone over Washington's run defense, but the truth is Baylor's is probably worse. The Bears allowed nearly 200 yards a game on the ground this season, and gave up 5.18 yards per carry. This is good news for Chris Polk, who rushed for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The best thing Washington can probably do for its defense to slow down Baylor would be to keep Robert Griffin and company off the field as much as possible. The best way to do this will be to utilize Polk and sustain long drives.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com