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Tag:Indiana
Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:29 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Indiana



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Indiana.

Spring Practice Starts: Saturday, March 3

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Eight on offense, nine on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Look For:

1. Growing pains. Indiana has more starters returning than any other school in the Big Ten this season. Now, considering the Hoosiers went 1-11 last season, there are two different ways you can look at that information. I'm inclined to believe that Kevin Wilson is hoping this is a good thing for his second year in Bloomington, and is hoping that the experience gained last season will lead to better performances this season. Of course, it's important to realize that this is still an extremely young team. Even with so many returning starters, there are still only three seniors projected to start in 2012. So the growing pains are still going to be there.

2. The development of Tre Roberson. Roberson was an intriguing player last season. He received a lot more time at quarterback over the final half of the year as Wilson looked to get his quarterback of the future some experience, and he was just as inconsistent as you'd expect. What will truly be interesting this spring, though, is to see what kind of improvements Roberson can make under new offensive coordinator Seth Littrell. Littrell comes to Indiana from Arizona, where he was in charge of one of the most prolific passing attacks in the country last season.

3. A deeper defense. While Indiana has nine returning starters on defense, that doesn't mean all of them will be starting in 2012. It will be interesting to see the battles that take place this spring as the Hoosiers welcome five new players from the juco ranks on the defensive side of the ball. While we can't be sure which players will lay claim to the starting positions, at the very least it gives Indiana some depth on the defensive side of the ball. Something a unit that gave up 37.3 points a game last year desperately needs.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Spring Practice Dates

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Hard to believe but it is indeed time for Spring Practice to begin. It was not too long ago that Alabama hoisted up the crystal ball in New Orleans but as of now, all 120 FBS teams are equal with a 0-0 record and only themselves to face. Here's a list of notable dates for every school this spring and, as they become available on the blog, links to Spring Practice Primers (click here to see them all). Be sure and check out Dennis Dodd's preseason top 25 as well.

Spring Practice Dates
ACC First Practice Spring Game
Boston College February 18
Spring Primer 
March 31
Clemson March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Duke February 22
Spring Primer 
March 31
Florida State March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Georgia Tech March 26 April 20
Maryland March 10
Spring Primer 
April 21
Miami March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
North Carolina March 14
Spring Primer 
April 14
N.C. State March 23 April 21
Virginia March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Virginia Tech March 28 April 21
Wake Forest March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Big East First Practice Spring Game
Cincinnati March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Louisville March 21 April 14
Pittsburgh March 15
Spring Primer 
April 14
Rutgers March 27 April 28
Syracuse March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
Connecticut March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
South Florida March 21 April 2, April 9
Big Ten First Practice Spring Game
Illinois March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Indiana March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Iowa March 24 April 14
Michigan March 17 April 14
Michigan State March 27 April 28
Minnesota March 24 April 21
Nebraska March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Northwestern March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Ohio State March 28 April 21
Penn State March 26 April 21
Purdue March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Wisconsin March 22 April 28
Big 12 First Practice Spring Game
Baylor March 19 April 14
Iowa State March 20 April 14
Kansas March 27 April 28
Kansas State April 4 April 28
Oklahoma March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oklahoma State March 12 April 21
TCU February 25
Spring Primer 
April 5
Texas February 23
Spring Primer
April 1
Texas Tech February 17
Spring Primer
March 24
West Virginia March 11 April 21
Pac-12 First Practice Spring Game
Arizona March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arizona State March 13 April 21
California March 13 None
Colorado March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oregon April 3 April 28
Oregon State April 3 April 28
Stanford March 27
Spring Primer
April 14
UCLA April 3 May 5
USC March 6 April 14
Utah March 21 April 21
Washington April 2 April 28
Washington State March 22 April 21
SEC First Practice Spring Game
Alabama March 9
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arkansas March 14 April 21
Auburn March 21 April 14
Florida
March 14 April 7
Georgia March 20 April 14
Kentucky March 21 April 21
LSU March 1
Spring Primer 
March 31
Mississippi State March 21 April 20
Ole Miss March 23 April 21
Missouri March 6
Spring Primer 
April 14
South Carolina March 12 April 14
Tennessee March 26 April 21
Texas A&M March 31 April 28
Vanderbilt March 16 April 14
Others First Practice Spring Game
Notre Dame March 21 April 21
Boise State March 12
Spring Primer 
April 14
BYU March 5 March 30
Air Force February 24 None
Army February 13 March 9
Navy March 19 April 14

Posted on: February 1, 2012 8:31 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 9:58 pm
 

National Signing Day Winners and Losers: Big Ten



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Breaking down who won and who lost in the Big Ten on National Signing Day

WINNER: The Recruiting Machine Known To Mankind As Urban Meyer

Scholarship limits, postseason bans, these things matter not to the one known as Urban Meyer. They will not keep him out of your high school classrooms where he's stealing your recruits. Since the day Meyer first set foot in Columbus as its new Caesar, high schoolers have flocked to the Buckeyes, previous commitments be damned. What was already a solid class was boosted on Wednesday by the addition of offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, who had previously committed to Wisconsin. Then there's the work Meyer did on the defensive line, closing on players like Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt, Se'von Pittman and Adolphus Washington, and it's no wonder this class is ranked third in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25. Making matters even scarier for the rest of the Big Ten, Meyer's already locked up two top recruits in the 2013 class. The man -- machine? -- just cannot be stopped. 

LOSER: The Bottom Of The Legends And Leaders

Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois and Indiana all managed to finish at the bottom of their respective divisions in 2011, and nothing in their 2012 recruiting classes makes you think any of the four will be climbing the standings anytime soon. Particularly when you compare their classes to the teams above them. Only two 4-star recruits signed with any of them, and both of those players are on their way to Northwestern: defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo and defensive tackle Greg Kuhar.

WINNER: Fans Of The Old Big Ten

Remember the long, long ago of the late 20th and early 21st centuries when the Big Ten was dominated by Ohio State and Michigan? Yes, well, it appears those days may be upon us again. While we already went over Ohio State's impressive haul, the work put in at Michigan by Brady Hoke and his staff shouldn't be ignored. The Wolverines put together the fourth ranked class in the CBS Sports National Signing Day Top 25 thanks to signings like offensive lineman Kyle Kalis and defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins. Brady Hoke put a lot of emphasis on the offensive line and the defense in this class, and it could go a long way to ensuring that "Ohio" and "That School Up North" play twice a season for the next few years. For more on Michigan's 2012 class, you can watch Brady Hoke talk about his newest players here.

LOSER: Wisconsin

This isn't a knock on Wisconsin's class, though it is the smallest of any class in the Big Ten with only 12 commits. No, it's more a representation of the fact that Ohio State and Michigan seem to be back on their way to national prominence. The Badgers enjoyed the last few years and the struggles of the Wolverines and Buckeyes, taking advantage of their problems with two straight conference titles and Rose Bowl trips. This isn't to say that the Badgers won't win the Big Ten again anytime soon, but it just got a lot harder to do so.

WINNER: Penn State

You're not used to seeing the term "winner" in relation to Penn State's football program lately, are you? Well, when you consider all that has gone on in Happy Valley over the last six months, combined with the fact the team's new head coach is still busy trying to win a Super Bowl, you have to be impressed with what the Nittany Lions did on Wednesday. No, the 19 players that committed to Penn State won't blow you away as a whole, but it's a class that will ensure there's still talent at Penn State as the program tries to transition to a new era of Nittany Lions football.

LOSER: The Lack Of Attention Paid To Purdue's Class

You're probably confused right now, and I apologize for that. What I'm trying to say here is that while you weren't paying any attention, Purdue and Danny Hope went out and put together a pretty nice class in West Lafayette. Athlete Carlos Carvajal -- all 6 feet and 7 inches of him -- and defensive end Ryan Watson are probably the most intriguing prospects, but from top to bottom, this whole class is pretty solid. Especially considering Purdue's recent troubles on the gridiron. What's more surprising is how this class is spread across the country. While 4 of the 25 signees are from Indiana, the rest come from all four corners of the country, including New York, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Ohio and California. Depending on how quickly these players can contribute, the Boilermakers may catch some people by surprise in the next couple of years.

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 2:31 pm
 

A first look at 2012's returning starters

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's never, ever too early to talk about the next college football season once the previous one has passed. But it's a lot less too early once the deadline for NFL Draft declarations has passed and teams can enjoy an accurate -- or at least semi-accurate -- gauge of what their returning talent will look like next season.

Thanks to data-cruncher Phil Steele, we can enjoy that same semi-accurate gauge. As he does every January -- among the teams predicted for big things at this time last year were Michigan, Alabama and Vanderbilt -- Steele has released a comprehensive list of FBS returning starters for 2012, ranking each team 1-123. Yes, 123, thanks to the arrivals of UT-San Antonio, Texas State and UMass; Larry Coker's UTSA Roadrunners even top the list with 23 total returning starters (11 offensive, 10 defensive, and both specialists) as they ready for their first WAC season.

But of course, UTSA has its work cut out for it to make an impact, no matter how experienced its players might be. Among programs college football fans are more familiar with, here's the numbers and teams from Steele's data that stand out:

  • Sharing the lead amongst all BCS programs are Texas Tech and Tennessee with 20 starters each, including quarterbacks Seth Doege and Tyler Bray, respectively. If Red Raider and Volunteer third-year coaches Tommy Tuberville and Derek Dooley can't turn that kind of experience into a better year 3 than their collective Year 2's, neither one should be surprised if they don't receive a Year 4.
  • Never say never with Chris Petersen still around, but this looks like the season Boise State's incredible run of dominance and top-10 finishes comes to a halt. The Broncos rank dead-last, rock-bottom, with just 6 starters coming back--3 offensive 2 defensive, and (infamous) kicker Dan Goodale. (Then again, in the newly TCU-less Mountain West, will anyone stop them regardless? The league leader in returning starters is Colorado State, with no other MWC program ranked higher than Fresno State at 29th.)
  • It's possible Badger fans will rue their back-to-back failures at the Rose Bowl even more than they do already; with just 10 returning starters, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom of the Big Ten and 116th overall. Big Ten fans should instead gear up now for an even-more-critical Ohio State-Michigan game than usual; the Buckeyes are second in the league behind Indiana with 18 starters, and the Wolverines are tied with Nebraska for third with 16.
  • The Vols, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt top the SEC list -- with 18 starters or more, all rank among the nation's 19 most experienced teams -- which means the league could see a more topsy-turvy season than usual; despite their cavalcade of young talent LSU returns just 5 defensive starters, national champions Alabama just 4. Despite major losses on the offensive line, Georgia looks poised to field the conference's best defense, with nine starters coming back for a unit already ranked fifth in the FBS.
  • Why is USC getting so much early preseason love? Pretty simple: of the 10 teams listed in Bruce Feldman's early-bird top 10, the Trojans are one of just two to have as many as 17 returning starters. The other is Oklahoma, and since the Sooners finished the year getting chewed up and spit out by Oklahoma State while the Trojans were busy upsetting Oregon in Eugene and annihilating UCLA, it's not hard to see why voters might go for the former.
  • Poor Al Golden: not only is his Miami team still laboring under the weight of the Nevin Shapiro allegations, not only do they rank 96th nationally and tie for next-to-last in the ACC with 12 returning starters, but according to Steele's data the Hurricanes are -- amazingly -- the only ACC team to not return its starting quarterback for next season. 
  • Gus Malzahn is going to be one of the FBS's most closely watched mid-major head coaches after his move from Auburn, and with six returning starters including QB Ryan Aplin on offense, the Red Wolves should be fine on that side of the ball. But with just three starters back on defense, ASU ranks 116th overall and last in the Sun Belt in total starters returning. Opposite Malzahn's punishing up-tempo attack, we'd like to place an early wager on the Red Wolves as one the nation's statistically weakest D's in 2012 ... and on Malzahn needing at least two years to return ASU to last year's championship perch.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:30 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Wisconsin's new OC: Northern Ill. OC Matt Canada

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Wisconsin continues to shore up its coaching losses from the departure of Paul Chryst to Pittsburgh and various other hirings, and on Tuesday the Badgers announced that Northern Illinois offensive coordinator Matt Canada had agreed to become Wisconsin's offensive coordinator.

"Matt has a terrific history as an offensive coordinator and has excelled at developing quarterbacks throughout his career," Bielema said in a statement. "I know he is very excited about running a pro-style offense and handling a game the way we typically have at Wisconsin. I think this is a great hire for us and I can't wait for him to get to work with our coaches and players." 

Canada was only one year into his second stint as NIU's offensive coordinator; he had been rising through the ranks at Indiana from 2004-2010, starting as quarterbacks coach and finishing as offensive coordinator, before Kevin Wilson came to Bloomington and cleaned house. Canada coached Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell at quarterback for the Hoosiers, and both were highly productive in their times under center: Lewis was a first-team All-Big Ten QB before his career derailed, and Chappell holds Indiana single-season records in every major passing category.

Fortunately for Northern Illinois, Canada was able to put together a dynamite offense in his first year back, as the Huskies went 11-3, won the MAC Championship, won the GoDaddy.com Bowl 38-20 over Arkansas State, and scored over 42 points per game in the process. NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish was named the MAC offensive MVP in 2011, and his numbers backed it up: he threw for 2,942 yards, 26 TDs, and only five interceptions on 219-348 passing (good enough for the 15th-best passing efficiency in the nation), and he rushed for 1,382 yards and 11 TDs on 185 carries (leading all FBS quarterbacks) to back it up.

That kind of overall quarterback production doesn't come out of a pro-style offense, of course (but don't start hyperventilating just yet, Badger fans). Check out this video of the different ways Harnish used his quarterback, and how many different formations NIU used in the process. There's even a John Moxon Oop-De-Oop formation in there.



That's some serious offensive creativity, and completely outside the bounds of how Wisconsin has made hay for the last 15+ years as a rushing powerhouse. But fear not: as Bielema mentioned in his statement, Wisconsin will stay with a pro-style offense. Bielema's no fool. Really, he's not.

It'll be interesting to see, then, what details of Canada's style of offense survives the assimilation into the Bucky Borg. Surely Bielema wouldn't have hired an offensive coordinator he's coached against in eight games in one way or another (twice when Canada was at NIU, six times with him at Indiana) if he wasn't interested in that coach's offensive acumen in some significant respect. Until we find out what that entails, though, opposing defensive coordinators may feel free to peruse the offensive performances of Canada offenses, and if the color starts draining from the DCs' faces in the process, well, that's to be expected.

For more up-to-the-minute Badger news, subscribe to CBSSports.com's Wisconsin RapidReports by Tammy Madsen.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 3:57 pm
 

Boise St. losing its offensive coordinator

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Boise State found out earlier this week that it doesn't have to worry about Chris Petersen going anywhere for a while, but for the second straight season the Broncos will be in need of a new offensive coordinator. According to the Idaho Statesman, Brent Pease is leaving the school to take an offensive coordinator job somewhere else.

Where exactly that other job is, however, isn't known at this point. Word is that Pease will be choosing between both Florida and Alabama, which is a pretty sweet position to be in. According to the report, Florida is the favorite as Charlie Weis left to take over the head coaching job at Kansas.

Pease replaced Bryan Harsin as offensive coordinator with the Broncos this season after Harsin left to run the offense at Texas. Pease was Boise State's wide receiver's coach from 2006-10 before leaving to take over as offensive coordinator at Indiana for a few days. Pease quickly returned to Boise after Harsin left to take the job at Texas.

Wide receivers coach Robert Prince is expected to take over as offensive coordinator for Pease at Boise State.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 3:47 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 6:19 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 13



Posted by Adam Jacobi

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

WINNER: Wisconsin's lust for revenge

The two heart-breaking losses Wisconsin absorbed in the middle of what was supposed to be a special season have never really let the Badgers go. Oh, the Badgers got over them, to be sure; they won their next four Big Ten games by an average score of 44-14, and of those only the 28-17 win over Illinois was even halfway competitive. And yet, Wisconsin has struggled in vain to so much as crack the Top 15 of the polls, as its only win against a ranked opponent all year was a 48-17 dismantling of then-No. 8 Nebraska in Week 5. That's it.

Or, that was it until Saturday, anyway, when Wisconsin officially ended Penn State's conference title aspirations (and the Nittany Lions' stint in the Top 25) with a 45-7 shellacking. Wisconsin's now the (sigh) Leaders Division winner and all set for the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday. And wouldn't you know it, Michigan State -- the team that dealt Wisconsin its first, most crushing loss will be waiting in Indianapolis for the Badgers.

And there's probably no team Bret Bielema and his Badgers would rather face.

The first meeting of the two teams was an outright classic, with Wisconsin going up 14-0 early before a Montee Ball injury derailed the Badgers' offense to the point that MSU was able to open up a 31-17 lead. But it wasn't until a deflected Hail Mary pass from Kirk Cousins found its way into the arms of Keith Nichol and Nichol twisted the ball across the plane while being tackled that the Spartans could sew up the victory. It was as slim a margin of victory could be in regulation, and it doomed Wisconsin's highest aspirations for the season. What more could you ask for after a game like that than a rematch? And if there must be a rematch, why not do it with everything in the Big Ten on the line? This week should be great.  

LOSER: The so, so, so fired Ron Zook

Ron Zook's Illinois squad just put the finishing touches on a 6-6 campaign, one that would probably be a little more palatable if it hadn't finished in six straight losses where a formerly formidable offense just plain cratered. The last effort that'll likely be on Ron Zook's resume is a 27-7 throttling at the hands of a Minnesota program that hadn't beaten a Big Ten opponent by that many points since it beat Indiana 63-26... in 2006, when Glen Mason was still at the helm. We'll have more on the Gopher revival in a bit, but suffice it to say that Zook is going to be fired very, very soon. 

There's no up side for this Illinois team's collapse. Nathan Scheelhaase has gone from a future first-team All-Big Ten quarterback to a potential second-team quarterback for the Illini in 2012. A.J. Jenkins scored zero touchdowns in the last six games after a scintillating first half of the season. The Illinois rush defense -- ranked second in the Big Ten -- ceded 248 yards to Minnesota, which was a season high for the Gophers. Whitney Mercilus was a terror all year long, racking up 9.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles, but now there's almost no chance he'll be back in 2012. So what is there to look forward to with this team in 2012 regardless of who's coach? And the fact that such a question is being asked in a coach's seventh year in a program probably means he won't be around for an eighth.

WINNER: Michigan Men (even when they're not)

Much was made about Brady Hoke's ties to the Michigan program when he was hired after the 2010 season, with the phrase "Michigan Man" bandied about liberally. And to be sure, that's exactly what Hoke is -- right down to his insistence on calling Ohio State "Ohio" and never wearing red.

But when it came to hiring coordinators, Hoke wasn't dumb enough to limit himself to fellow Michigan Men. Offensive coordinator Al Borges is, if anything, a "Chico State Man," graduating from there in 1981 and spending the next 30 years bouncing around various schools as offensive coordinator (usually on the west coast, and never at Michigan). Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison spent five years at Michigan back in the '90s, sure, but he also spent more time than that at Notre Dame. -- and did so more recently than his first Michigan stint. Is Mattison a Michigan Man? A Notre Dame Man? Both? He couldn't be both, could he? Anyway, all told, only three of Hoke's nine assistants have any prior ties to the program.

And yet, the difference in quality between last year's team and this year's is inestimable. The Michigan defense has gone from putrid to passable in just one season, and while it's not a championship-caliber unit just yet, it is good enough to get the Wolverines to 10-2 in the regular season and in immediate division contention -- back where the Big Ten figured Michigan would be when these division lines were drawn in the first place. And oh yes, there is that 40-34 victory over Ohio State that the Wolverines clawed for this year, their first over OSU in almost a decade.

LOSER: Will Hagerup

Welp, guess I'm just gonna punt this here ball away, just gonna do my job as punteWHAT AWWW HAMBURGERS OHHHHH NOOOOO

WINNER: Montee Ball's Heisman campaign

Montee Ball's probably not going to win the Heisman this year. That honor will probably go to someone in the trio of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, or Trent Richardson. But at the very least, Ball probably bought* himself a ticket today with a 156-yard, four touchdown effort that pushed his season numbers to 248 carries, 1622 yards, 29 rushing touchdowns, 17 catches, 248 receiving yards, and five more receiving touchdowns. He also threw a 25-yard touchdown to Russell Wilson against Indiana (which doesn't count for Ball in total touchdowns, only Wilson), a sure sign that offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was very bored that day.

So that makes 34 total touchdowns on the season for Ball, a mark that only Barry Sanders has bested with his other-worldly 39 scores in 1988 (which doesn't even count his five touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl, as bowl games weren't counted in official statistics back then). And Ball isn't just pushing scores in from a yard out, either; nine of his 25 rushing touchdowns have come from more than five yards out, and his 6.75-yard rushing average was fourth in the FBS among 1000-yard rushers coming into Saturday's action. Ball isn't a touchdown machine, he's an everything machine, and now that it's been him front and center in Wisconsin's push to Indianapolis, voters are likely to take notice.

*Metaphorically speaking, NCAA! We never meant to imply that Ball or anybody around him has ever so much has handled a dollar bill. We understand that the sanctity of this game can only be achieved if everybody involved is dead broke and rejects capitalism outright, and we assure you that Ball has not been tainted by the immoral slime of legal tender. They're student-athletes, not money-recipient-athletes. We get it. 

LOSER: The "Heroes Game"


What seemed like an intriguing new rivalry -- Iowa vs. Nebraska, every year, with the Missouri River set to be the most hotly contested border waterway since the Rhine. Whereas the French had the mighty but tragically immobile Maginot Line to protect themselves, though, Iowa's line just plain couldn't stop anyone coming right up the middle, either on Saturday or all year long. Rex Burkhead set a Nebraska record with 38 carries, and his 160 yards and a touchdown wore down the Iowa defense to the point of surrender. 20-7 was the final, and it really wasn't that close.

Next year's game might be more competitive simply because it's in Iowa City, but the 2012 Hawkeyes probably won't be any better than this year's iteration, and if this rivalry starts off lopsided it'll be hard to get the fanbases worked into the lather necessary for a lasting rivalry. Nebraska's never going to get tired of 13-point wins that are more one-sided than the final score indicates, of course, but the Huskers aren't really going to care about beating Iowa until they can't take it for granted anymore.

WINNER: Jerry Kill, eh?

It looks like everything Jerry Kill's been telling his team since he inherited it last December might yet be sinking in. After a 1-6 (0-3) start to the season where none of the Gophers' conference losses were even competitive, Minnesota turned the boat around in a big way with a 22-21 comeback win over Iowa. After that, Minnesota looked like a different team, hanging tough with Michigan State and Northwestern in losses and at the very least losing to Wisconsin by a smaller margin than Penn State just did. And now, the Gophers have closed the season out with the aforementioned 27-7 drubbing of listless Illinois. MarQueis Gray rushed for 167 yards, threw for 85 more, and accounted for all three of the Gopher's touchdowns in the victory without turning the ball over.

This Gopher team has a long way to go in order to start hanging with its Legends Division rivals on a weekly basis. The lines are a mess, there's a dearth of experience on both sides of the ball, and Kill isn't drawing high-quality recruits yet. He's got a complete overhaul on his hands, and those don't happen in a year at a school like Minnesota. But there's two ways to overhaul a program: spend four years recruiting "your" players into the system, or change the program's culture so substantially that the old coach's players buy in and become "your" players. Kill seems to be on that path, and that bodes well. Doesn't seem like something we thought we'd be saying just a couple months ago, when Kill was talking about needing to "babysit" his players and losing every game by 30 or so, but here we are.

LOSER: Michigan's classless fans

Look at them, rushing the field and celebrating after Michigan beats a 6-6 team. Act like you've been there, guys, right? The nerve of it all!

We're kidding, of course, because the cathartic value of a win like that, erasing eight years of misery and futility hard-wired into to Michigan's identity as a football program, would be off the charts even if Ohio State were coming into the game 0-11. But we're still talking about a bowl team here in OSU, and one that gave Michigan all sorts of fits over the course of the game. You have our full blessing on this field-storming, Michigan. And if anyone says otherwise, well, haters gonna hate. Feels nice to have haters again, doesn't it?



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Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 12



Posted by Bryan Fischer


On Saturday it stops.

The bylaws, the scandals, the arrests, the arguing, the issues - the scars of college football -  it's all gone and it becomes just a game. When the whistle is blown there are no rankings or underdogs, just a game between the lines, two teams with 11 on either side.

Saturday seemed like a perfect reminder of that. Looking at the schedule earlier in the week, the lack of marquee match ups - just three involving two ranked teams - made it seem more like a bye week than Week 12.

As the season made - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - its final turn and moved onto the home stretch, it was looking like we were indeed destined for a week off of drama. Wisconsin beat Illinois, Michigan State rolled Indiana, Michigan put on a clinic against Nebraska, Georgia had a close but ugly win over Kentucky, Houston beat SMU handily, Arkansas steamrolled Mississippi State and shockingly N.C. State had beaten Clemson before halftime.

Then consider what happened as night fell and some of the late games got interesting, with plays happening just about every minute. A quick sampling in case you missed the drama:

- Matt Barkley hit Randall Telfer for a touchdown to put USC up 38-14 over Oregon.
- De'Anthony Thomas returned a kickoff 96 yards, and showed why he's one of the fastest players in college football.
- Eric Gordon picked off Jordan Rodgers and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to seal a 27-21 Tennessee win over Vanderbilt. Only there was mass confusion thanks to the officials.
-  A Robert Griffin III pass is deflected right into the arms of a streaking Kendall Wright for a 87-yard touchdown to tie Oklahoma 24-24.
- Kenjon Barner caps a 75-yard drive to pull Oregon to within 38-27 with over 12 minutes left in the game.
- Michael Rocco caps off a 75-yard drive in less than a minute to give Virginia a 14-13 lead over Florida State.
- Zach Maynard tosses a perfectly thrown pass to Keenan Allen to take a 10-7 lead over Stanford.
- Baylor retakes the lead 31-24 after a 10 play, 85-yard drive after another RGIII touchdown pass.
- Texas' drive stalls and the Longhorns settle for a field goal to trail 17-13.
- Barkley is picked off by the Ducks defense then score a touchdown. Two-point conversion is good (barely) and they cut USC's lead to 38-35 with 7:05 left.
- A crazy play involving Florida State's Bert Reed happens. He was ruled to have caught a ball but inbounds, running out the clock. A five minute replay takes place.
- Landry Jones throws an interception, setting up a Terrence Ganaway touchdown as Baylor goes up 38-24 on Oklahoma.
- Case McCoy is sacked on 4th-and-10 at midfield, Kansas State takes over but has to punt.
- The replay overturns Reed's play, ruling it incomplete. FSU sets up for a 48-yard field goal but Virginia players bark out signals drawing a flag. Shorter kick misses anyway, giving the Cavilers their first ever victory at Doak Walker as Mike London screams at his team to get to the locker room.
- The Trojans are in the red zone when Barkley and Marc Tyler fumble an exchange, leading to Oregon getting the ball back.
- Oklahoma can't convert a 4th-and-14, Baylor gets the ball back.
- Kansas State barely holds on but beats Texas 17-13.
- Cal hits a short field goal to extend their lead to 13-7 in the Big Game against Stanford.
- The Ducks march right down the field but Chip Kelly fails to use his timeouts leaving a 42-yard field goal to tie the game with five seconds left. It's no good allowing USC to escape with a 38-35 upset to further shake up the BCS.
- The Belldozer formation (with backup quarterback Blake Bell) scores a TD to make it 38-31 Sooners with six minutes left.
- Oklahoma gets the ball back then Bell scores his 4th touchdown of the night and the Sooners look like they're going for two. They don't but tie the game up at 38 with 51 seconds on the clock.
- RGIII finds Terrence Williams in the back of the end zone for a perfect 34-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left to give Baylor their first ever win against Oklahoma 45-38.
- Andrew Luck leads two scoring drives coming out of halftime to take a 28-13 lead over Cal.
- The Bears come right back down the field and score a touchdown, connecting on a two-point conversion to pull to within 28-21 in the 4th quarter.
- Stanford takes over seven minutes off the clock with a drive that ends in a field goal and 31-21 lead.
- Cal makes things interesting with a touchdown to pull to within 31-28 with 14 seconds left.
- Onside kick recovered, Stanford beats Cal 31-28 to win the Big Game.

That. Was. Fun.

We probably should have guessed something was up this week. Northern Illinois kicked a field goal with eight seconds left to beat Ball State 41-38 on Tuesday, rolling up 710 yards of offense in a little midweek MACtion. The story was much the same the next night as Ohio made a chip shot field goal as the gun went off to beat Bowling Green 29-28. Also on Wednesday, Western Michigan held on to beat Miami (Ohio) with both starting quarterbacks topping the 400 yard passing mark. Thursday produced a huge - relatively - CUSA upset as a terrible UAB team upset #22 Southern Miss to beat a ranked team for just the second time in school history.

North Carolina, with an interim head coach and not much to play for, gave Virginia Tech a fight with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter before the Hokies decided to pay attention on defense. It was an off night for David Wilson, who never could get going, but a solid one for quarterback Logan Thomas. He tossed two touchdowns and ran for a third to provide most of the Hokies scoring to setup a showdown next week with rival Virginia for a trip to the ACC championship. The late comeback from UNC should have been a warning that no one was safe, home or road, regardless of the conditions.

Oklahoma State rolled into Ames, Iowa as 27-point favorites but holding a heavy heart just a day after a plane crash killed the women's basketball coach and three others. It was an unspeakable tragedy for a school that had already suffered a similar one a decade before. Friday was supposed to be about the second-ranked Cowboys giving their fans something - anything - to cheer about.

But it's a game between the lines and though Iowa State came into the match up 2-4 in Big 12 play and winless in 58 tries against teams ranked sixth or better, head coach Paul Rhoads knows a thing or two about upsets. He had pulled off at least one shocker each year he was in charge of the Cyclones and was defensive coordinator of a lowly 4-7 Pittsburgh team four years ago that helped cause BCS chaos with an upset of then-No. 2 West Virginia. He threw a similar wrench into the Cowboys' plans in large part by shutting down the ground game and forcing five turnovers. Brandon Weeden put some big numbers - 42-of-58, a quiet 476 yards and three touchdowns - but threw three interceptions, his last in the second overtime to lose the game.

"We got a group of young men that put their hard hats on every day and just continue to go to work," Rhoads said. "I could not be prouder of the effort they put out tonight."

The field storming after the upset was well deserved, with Rhoads even getting hit by a fan who spilled his drink on the emotional head coach at midfield. The Iowa native took over the program from Gene Chizik after serving as Auburn's defensive coordinator the season before Chizik headed to the plains. Ironically, his upset sent cheers up in Tuscaloosa because no program stood to benefit more from the loss than Alabama.

It was the first of many on a topsy-turvy week that saw the #2, #4, #5, #7, #17, #22 and #23 in the BCS suffer a loss. As you can tell from the boom-boom nature of the plays listed above, the drama and action seemed to culminate in another perfect weekend in college football. Fitting, perhaps, that on the sport's supposed week off, it gave us the most drama-filled few days of the year.

As the Big Game was wrapping up late on the West Coast, I was trying to think of another time there was so much craziness, so much excitement, packed into just a few hours. It thought about the NCAA tournament but MLB's final day this year immediately popped into my mind right after. The country was glued to the television as pitch after pitch carried more meaning than the last. Four games determined two wild cards (and the eventual World Series winner) and three of them were tied. Three blown saves and two incredible walk-off wins had produced one of baseball's finest nights.

This weekend, and late Saturday in particular, was not quite what that Wednesday in late September was. That night for baseball does contrast however, and serve as a reminder of how great a regular season can be with a playoff still to come. The BCS proponents out there had no problem coming out and saying the system enhanced the upsets because they somehow mean more. As baseball showed us, even after 162 games and plenty more to play, nothing takes away from the drama. We're still going to watch Baylor try and beat Oklahoma for the first time ever with RGIII taking snaps. People will still tune in to see USC make an emphatic statement to the country that their time out of the spotlight is over.

It does however make the losses that much more painful. Boise State has lost three games in three years by five points thanks to walk-on kickers missing field goals. They never get a shot at playing for the national title. Oklahoma just hopes they can beat their rival and get to the same old exhibition (the Fiesta Bowl) they're used to playing in.

'Every week is a playoff'  is the line you'll see often in BCS literature. If that's the case then, Alabama would not be sitting at No. 2 in the country and set to play LSU - again - for the national title. They lost their playoff game at Bryant-Denny in the Field Goal Festival of the Century. Talk of another rematch involving Oregon was put to bed thanks to the conquering Trojans but had they won, they should have taken note that no, they can't be playing in New Orleans after losing a game earlier in the season.

Now we are left with a BCS beauty pageant. Boise could be a top five team at the end of the year but will likely play right before Christmas. Stanford might be passed over for Michigan despite the Cardinal being in the top 10 all season. The SEC is strong at the top but weak all over - as evidenced by FCS Southern Conference teams having a combined 52-34 lead on SEC teams at one point Saturday. Alas, this is the system we have.

The modeling still isn't over with a few more weeks left in the season and that should provide clarity on the situation, especially with Arkansas traveling to Baton Rouge and Alabama playing the Iron Bowl at Auburn. There's still Bedlam and championship games. This show will go on.

But a Saturday that didn't shape up to be much ended up being quite a bit thanks to what happened on the field. It's why we all love college football and why we put up with six days of arguing and rankings. 60 minutes between the lines never looked so good in week 12.

Stat of the week

USC is the first loss Chip Kelly has suffered as head coach when the opposing team has just one week to prepare. It was also his first ever home loss and the Trojans win snapped a 19 game conference winning streak and the longest home winning streak in the country.

Stats of the week

- The SEC has 9 offenses ranked 75th or worse in the country but four of the top five defenses. The former is responsible for the latter more than the other way around.

- Wisconsin had a 12 play, 27 yard drive against Illinois that took 7:11 off the clock before Montee Ball scored a touchdown. At that point, Texas A&M had scored 44 points in 8:24 against Kansas.

- FCS Georgia Southern scored 21 points and ran for 302 yards on Alabama's defense, which led the country in just about every major defensive category. Dominique Swope had an 82-yard touchdown and finished with 18 carries for 153 yards (8.5 yd ave.). In the process, Swope became just the fifth back to rush for over 100 yards against Nick Saban in his five seasons in Tuscaloosa. Alabama's scoring defense went from 7.1 points per game to 8.36 ppg afterward and the rush defense jumped from 51.9 ypg to 74.64 just from the one game.

- This is the first time since Bo Pelini's first year that Nebraska has allowed more than 40 points in a game twice in a season.

- Oregon's 24-point deficit they faced against USC was the biggest they faced since October 4, 2008, also against the Trojans.

- Via the AP, before Miami did it yesterday, no FBS team had scored less than seven points and won a road game since Auburn topped Mississippi State 3-2 in 2008.

- Five starts for David Ash, six interceptions. Ouch.

- LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are 1, 2, 3 in the AP Poll. The only other time one conference has done that in the poll era is Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado of the Big 8 in 1971.

- Kansas has - by far - the worst defense in the country. It is dead last in three major categories and is giving up 45.55 points per game and 531.45 yards per game. A sampling of the worst defenses since 2001 for comparison:

2001: Idaho 45 ppg, (Worst BCS defense: Duke 44.6 ppg)
2002: Eastern Michigan 47.2 ppg, (Kansas 42.3 ppg)
2003: Mississippi State 39.3 ppg
2004: San Jose State 42.6 ppg, (Baylor 36.9 ppg)
2005: Temple 45.3 ppg, (Illinois 39.5 ppg)
2006: Louisiana Tech 41.7 ppg, (Duke 33.8 ppg)
2007: North Texas 45.1 ppg, (Nebraska 37.9 ppg)
2008: North Texas 47.58 ppg, (Washington State 43.85 ppg)
2009: Rice 43.08 ppg, (Washington State 38.5 ppg)
2010: New Mexico 44.33 ppg, (Washington State 35.83 ppg)

Tweet of the week

"Down 22-7 in Q1, Gators DE Sharrif Floyd told teammates, "Listen it's Furman. No disrespect but it's Furman."

- Via Jason Lieser, Palm Beach Post.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Arkansas

5. Stanford

6. Boise State

7. Houston

8. USC

9. Oregon

10. Virginia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Dennis Dodd will be at two games this week, starting with the big showdown on CBS between Arkansas and LSU on Friday and Missouri-Kansas on Saturday, the final game in the second-longest rivalry west of the Mississippi. I will cover two games as well, with the final Texas-Texas A&M game on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and end with the crosstown showdown between USC and UCLA. Brett McMurphy will be at the Iron Bowl as Alabama looks for revenge on Auburn and to keep their name in the national title race.

Leaning this way

Penn State at Wisconsin

This is for a trip to the Big Ten title game and there's no doubt that commissioner Jim Delany hopes Wisconsin can win and hopefully cover the two touchdowns+ spread. Penn State's offense showed signs of life in the first half against Ohio State but managed to throttle back down to nothing in the second half against an ok defense. Montee Ball and Russell Wilson have this thing over early though and the Nittany Lions can't claw their way back.

Alabama at Auburn

The Tide are ranked second in the country, the Tigers are unranked. Normally that doesn't matter when these two get together but that's just one indication of how good/bad these teams are. Neither team looked impressive against FCS foes so you wonder if they were saving a few things for this game. Still, hard to see an upset when Alabama is in the top three in the conference in every major category.

Arkansas at LSU

BCS chaos can rain supreme if the Razorbacks are able to go into Baton Rouge and pull off the upset. They will certainly be the best passing offense LSU's fantastic secondary has faced but the key will come down to protecting Tyler Wilson. If LSU turns it over a few times there is certainly a chance at a loss but it all seems unlikely for 'The Hat' to lose this close to taking a trip to Atlanta.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com