Tag:Jeff Fuller
Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 3:40 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Texas A&M 33 Northwestern 22



Posted by Tom Fornelli


TEXAS A&M WON. There were two factors at play in this game. There was Texas A&M's ability to blow a double-digit lead, and then there was Northwestern's tendency to come back late in bowl games only to come up just short. So, in a sense, Northwestern won this game?

Maybe?

No, Texas A&M finished its season with a victory, but not before making things a lot more interesting than they had to be.

The Aggies went into the fourth quarter with a 30-7 lead, so of course this one came down to the final seconds as Northwestern mounted a comeback. Still, the Aggies made some key plays when they had to in the fourth quarter, and Ryan Tannehilll threw for 392 yards and a touchdown. Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope were his favorite targets, as Fuller finished the day with 7 grabs for 119 yards -- including a huge grab on A&M's final drive for a pivotal first down -- and Swope had 8 catches for 105 yards.

WHY TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies built a lead that not even they could blow. Well, that and the fact that for the first 45 minutes of this game the Texas A&M defense just proved to be too much for Northwestern's offense. The Wildcats only managed 278 yards of offense on the day, and 147 of those yards came in the final quarter.

WHEN TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies finally had the drive they needed so many times during the regular season to put an opponent away late in this one. After getting the ball back with 5:22 left and an 8-point lead, the Aggies put together a 12-play 68-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal to make it a two-score game with 30 seconds left to play.

WHAT TEXAS A&M WON. After a season that was full of mostly disappointment for the Aggies, this one had to feel good. The Aggies were able to pick up a seventh victory and finish the year with a winning record before moving on to the SEC under Kevin Sumlin.

WHAT NORTHWESTERN LOST. Northwestern came into 2011 with higher hopes than a 6-7 season, but that's exactly what the Wildcats got with this loss. Making matters worse, this bowl loss marks the school's ninth consecutive bowl loss, tying the mark previously set by Notre Dame. Pat Fitzgerald has done a great job in Evanston, but this team just can't get over the postseason hump.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Texas A&M had a double-digit lead at halftime and didn't lose the game!

GRADE: B-. This was not a great game. In fact, for the first three quarters, it was pretty damn boring. The Wildcats couldn't do anything on offense, and A&M looked like it was going to blow them out. Thankfully the fourth quarter happened, allowing all of us to wonder if the Aggies could do it one more time. So since it was interesting in the final frame, I'm giving this game a B, but the minus is there to remind us how average the rest of it was.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 1:36 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 13



Posted by Bryan Fischer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing like beating a rival.

Stat of the week

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

Stats of week

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

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

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

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

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

Yard-by-yard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet of the week

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

- Chris Huston, The Hesiman Pundit

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Stanford

5. USC

6. Oregon

7. Boise State

8. Arkansas

9. Houston

10. Virginia Tech


Where we'll be this week

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

Leaning this way

Georgia vs. LSU

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

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

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

Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

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


Posted on: November 25, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 11:57 am
 

Texas sends A&M to SEC with stinging rivalry loss

Posted by Bryan Fischer

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- It said it all.

Texas' band spelled out 'Thanks aTm" and played Thanks for the Memories as the Kyle Field crowd politely applauded. It was in many ways the warmest moment the two schools had in months, if not years.

For Longhorns and Aggies alike, the memory of the 118th and final scheduled time the two schools play will last.

It will hurt for some and be the source of bragging rights for others.

Texas' come back victory on Thanksgiving night was anything but a line in the record books that reads "Texas 27, Texas A&M 25."

The pain - the anguish - that typically lingers from every game will last a bit longer for the maroon side after Thursday. The pride - the jubilation - will last even longer for the burnt orange side.

"Sports can be really cruel," head coach Mack Brown said. "It was a great college football game. I don't think you can call either team a team that loses. We're the ones that had more points on the board."

The poignant thank you from the band at halftime might have been the final 'good' memory for Aggies as members of the Big 12 conference, witnessing yet another second half collapse in a season full of them.

"it seems like it's the same comment," coach Mike Sherman said. "This is a devastating loss for out team.

"I take nothing away from Texas, they played well, but it's a game we should have won and didn't."

Same old story for the Aggies, who once again said "Gag'em" after a first half full of "Gig'ems."

The third quarter was A&M's achilies heel, as Texas capitalized on turnovers to swing a 7-16 deficit into a 24-16 lead.  Despite a double-digit lead for the 11th time this season, the Aggies squandered it with two Ryan Tannehill interceptions - one returned for a touchdown - and mistake after mistake.

The team fell to 6-6 on the season thanks to flipping the switch to 'off' during halfitime, A&M outscored 86-0 in the third quarter alone in each loss.

"Well I think if you look at the games, we definitely have turned the ball over too many times," Sherman said. "We have to make the plays we have to make."

The Aggies didn't, the Horns did, the story of the series that Texas now leads 76-37-5. Tannehill's pick-six made it a two-point game. A punt on the next drive resulted in a 81-yard Quandre Diggs return and an eventual field goal to take the lead. Yet another interception put the Longhorns in business deep in A&M territory before senior Cody Johnson punched it in for a one-yard touchdown.

All it took was 13 plays and 27 offensive yards to completely snatch momentum away in a game that the Aggies didn't need to win as much as they couldn't lose.

"It was an emotional night," quarterback Case McCoy said. "We didn't play well at all the first half but our defense got us back in it. I'm proud of how hard we fought."

Case was the latest McCoy to torment Texas A&M. After what looked to be a game winning drive following Jeff Fuller's 16 yard catch and run to muscle into the end zone, McCoy took over an offense that had struggled all night. But he made the play of the game on a 25-yard scramble right up the middle to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning 40-yard field goal.

"What a great feeling to end this rivalry and celebrate Thanksgiving," McCoy said, minutes after sharing an emotional hug with offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who was 3-1 against A&M himself.

The Aggies end their football tenure in the Big 12 with a loss, closing the book on an era in which they won just one conference title. The first line of the fight song late in the game was perhaps the saddest, most painful of all the Lone Star Showdowns because it meant far more than 'we'll see you in 365.'

"Goodbye Texas University…" the Kyle Field crowd sang in unison, swaying in different directions for the final time in 2011. The third-longest rivalry in major college football was, suddenly, over.

"It's Texas but...," A&M running back Ben Malena, the lone bright spot on the night with 93 all-purpose yards, "We're going to the SEC, we have bigger and better things to worry about."

"It's one of the great traditions we have in college athletics," athletic director Bill Byrne remarked. "But it's just part of the change".

"It takes two to sign a contract. We've expressed sincere interest in every sport to continue the relationship. So far we've had no takers. The question doesn't need to be asked of me, it needs to be asked of (Texas AD DeLoss) Dodds."

The Longhorns seem to want no part of it. As soon as Tucker's field goal went through the uprights, they ran straight to the 'Lone Star Showdown' logo and jumped with joy. Players started an "S-E-C" chant. The Longhorn Network's twitter account provided the final salt in the wounds however.

"Goodbye and Good Luck."

As the Longhorns left Kyle Field for what could be the last time in decades, they did so with as satisfying a win as ever. The only team Texas A&M has lost to from the state in two years: the University of Texas.

Thanks for the memories indeed.

Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
 

QUICK HITS: Texas 27 Texas A&M 25



Posted by Tom Fornelli


TEXAS WON. A rivalry that has gone on for 118 years may have come to an end on Thursday night, and there may not have been a better way to put an end to it than the game we got. Particularly if you're a Texas fan. Following a formula that's become all too familiar for Texas A&M this season, the Longhorns came back from a 16-7 deficit at halftime by outscoring the Aggies 17-0 in the third quarter. However, this time the Aggies would battle back and retake the lead with 1:48 to go after Ryan Tannehill hit Jeff Fuller for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give A&M a 25-24 lead.

But then Case McCoy went Colt McCoy. A Longhorns offense that struggled all night got things together on a final drive, one that featured a 25-yard scramble from McCoy that put the Longhorns in field goal position. Of course, the drive also featured a questionable personal foul call against Texas A&M, so you can be sure you'll hear a lot of conspiracy theories coming from College Station in the next few days. Then it all ended with Justin Tucker splitting the uprights with a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns what could be their last victory over Texas A&M for a long time.

WHY TEXAS WON. It's defense and special teams did the job. This was not a pretty game offensively on either side of the ball, as the two teams combined for only 565 yards of total offense, went 9-for-34 on third down and committed 6 turnovers between them. However, the Texas defense put the clamps down on A&M in the third quarter, causing three turnovers, one of which was an interception returned for a touchdown by Carrington Byndom. A few minutes later Quandre Diggs had an 81-yard punt return to set Texas up with a first and goal. The Longhorns only got a field goal out of that drive, but another Tannehill interception a few plays later set up another Longhorns touchdown. It was that 15-minute stretch that ultimately sealed the fate of both teams in this contest.

WHEN TEXAS WON. Aside from that third quarter completely turning this game around, things weren't official until Justin Tucker's 40-yard field goal went through as time expired. A remarkable feat for Tucker considering how tired his leg had to be after punting 11 times on the night.

WHAT TEXAS WON. Not only does this win get Texas to 7 wins on the year, but let's be real, what this game really won Texas is perhaps the final bragging rights over Texas A&M. The Aggies won't be getting a chance for revenge anytime soon, and may not ever get that chance if Texas continues to get its way.

WHAT TEXAS A&M LOST: This is another terrible loss for the Aggies. Another blown lead, and now a season that began with so much promise sees the Aggies finish the regular season at 6-6. Also, it's not like Mike Sherman wasn't already sitting on a hot seat coming into this game, this loss sure isn't going to help cool it off, and then there's the fact that it's Texas and this could be the final meeting for both schools. What I'm saying is, this was a terrible night for the Aggies.

THAT WAS CRAZY: In it's 6 losses this season, Texas A&M has been outscored 83-0 in the third quarter. You don't need to look past that number to know how the Aggies lost those games. Still, what's crazier than anything is that this rivalry is coming to an end. It's one of the best rivalries in college football, and it's going away. I mean, I grew up in Chicago and I'm having a hard time imagining a season in which Texas and Texas A&M aren't a part of my Thanksgiving tradition. I can only hope that cooler heads prevail sooner rather than later, and these teams meet again on the gridiron.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 3:09 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 7



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

WINNER: Fans of offense

The Big 12 often gets flak for the lack of defense that is played in the conference, and for the most part it's criticism that's deserved. Of course, there's another side to that coin, and it's that the Big 12 is also home to some good offenses as well. Offenses that were fully on display throughout Saturday.

In five games between all ten teams in the conference, there was a total of 355 points scored, 45 touchdowns and 4,658 yards of total offense. That's 71 points, 9 touchdowns and 931.6 yards of offense per game. That is insane.

LOSER: The Baylor defense

Okay, and there's just genuinely bad defense too. There is little doubt what the strengths and weaknesses are with Baylor this season. The strength is Robert Griffin and the Baylor offense. The weakness is the other side of the ball, and it was evident on Saturday. Texas A&M racked up 681 yards of offense on Saturday, and Ryan Tannehill threw for 415 yards and 6 touchdowns. Robert Griffin, despite evidence to the contrary, is not perfect, and in order for Baylor to beat the best teams in the Big 12, Griffin can't do it all on his own. He's going to need his defense to step up and make plays from time to time, and it just didn't do that on Saturday. The result? A 55-28 blowout in College Station.

WINNER: Ryan Swope

Somebody had to benefit from all those yards that Baylor was giving to Ryan Tannehill and it was Ryan Swope. Swope finished the day with 11 catches for 206 yards and a school record 4 touchdowns. Swope is one of the most underrated receivers in the Big 12, and he's often overshadowed on his own team by Jeff Fuller, but he showed everybody why he deserves a lot more attention this weekend.

LOSER: David Ash's hold on the Texas quarterback job

For the first time since the Longhorns replaced Garrett Gilbert, Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin handed the reins to David Ash for a full 60 minutes on Saturday and got some mediocre results. Ash completed only 22 of his 40 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns. More importantly, he turned the ball over three times. There's no guarantee that Case McCoy will see time next week because of it, but you can bet at the very least Malcolm Brown and Fozzy Whittaker will get a lot more than the 28 carries they split on Saturday.

WINNER: Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost

Coming into Saturday, Missouri's offense hadn't exactly been lighting up scoreboards the same way it has the last few seasons. Obviously, a lot of this had to do with breaking in a new quarterback in James Franklin. Coming into Saturday the Tigers were averaging 32.2 points per game, but if you took out the 69 points Mizzou scored against Western Illinois, that average dropped to 23 points per game. Against Iowa State Yost's offense blew up for 52 points and 583 yards of offense, with James Franklin totaling 5 touchdowns. No doubt Yost is hoping that becomes a trend for the last half of the season.

LOSER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman stock

I put Robert Griffin in this spot last week following a Baylor victory, and now Brandon Weeden finds himself in the same situation. Sure, Oklahoma State scored more points (38) than it ever had before during a trip to Austin, but Weeden's numbers on Saturday weren't very Weeden-esque. He finished the day with only 218 yards and a touchdown. Compare that to last week when he threw 288 yards and 5 touchdowns in less than a full half. The good news for Weeden is he has plenty of time to help people forget this performance.

WINNER: Believers in Bill Snyder

Let's be honest, nobody expected Kansas State to be 6-0 at this point in the season. A lot of people didn't expect the Wildcats to be 6-0 even after they started the season 5-0, as Kansas State opened the week as 3 1/2-point underdogs on the road against Texas Tech. Yeah, well, Bill Snyder doesn't care. The style of offense he runs may seem a bit old fashioned, but it works, and Kansas State is a contender to win the Big 12 whether you're willing to believe it or not.

WINNER: Ryan Broyles

It was just another night for the Oklahoma receiver, as he caught 13 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns. His first touchdown catch of the night was the reception number 317 for Broyles in his career, and it moved him past Taylor Stubblefield for the most receptions by any player in NCAA history. Broyles finished the night with 326 career receptions, and he's still got seven games to go. He could pass 400 by the time he's done.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 3

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.

The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.

The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.

The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.

One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.

Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.

A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.

All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.

Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.

On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.

"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."

Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.

The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.

Stat of the week

Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.

Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.

Other stats of note

- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.

- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.

- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.

- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.

- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).

- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.

- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.

- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.

Yard-by-yard

- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.

- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.

- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.

- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.    
 
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.

- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.

- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.

- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.

- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.

- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.

- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

Quote of the week

Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."

Tweet of the week

Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.

"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."

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Fisch's Finest

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Texas A&M

8. Oklahoma State

9. Florida State

10. Oregon

Where we'll be this week

Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.

Leaning this way

Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.

Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.

LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.

Across the goal line

I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph. 


Category: NCAAF
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Buie, Arizona State, Arkansas, Army, Auburn, Barry Sanders, Baylor, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Boise State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, BYU, C.J. Spiller, Carlos Hyde, Case McCoy, Chad Morris, Charlie Weis, Charone Peake, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Craig James, Cyrus Gray, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Dana Holgorsen, David Ash, Dennis Dodd, Doak Campbell, EJ Manuel, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Geno Smith, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Henry Josey, Idaho, Iowa, Jacory Harris, James Franklin, James Vanderberg, Jeff Fuller, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kellen Moore, Kentucky, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Larry Smith, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, MAC, Malcolm Brown, Marcus Lattimore, Maryland, Miami, Mike Bellamy, Mike Gundy, Mississippi State, Missorui, Navy, NCAA, Nebraksa, New Mexico, NFL, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Orwin Smith, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rashad Greene, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Rose Bowl, Sammy Watkins, Sean Spence, SEC, Seth Doege, South Carolina, Stanford, Steve Addazio, Sun Belt, Sun Life Stadium, Surveying the Field, T.Y. Hilton, Tajh Boyd, Temple, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Toldeo, Tom Wort, Tony Barnhart, Travon Austin, Tulsa, UCF, UCLA, UConn, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Vernard Roberts, Wake Forest, Washington, West Virginia, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin, Wyoming
 
Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:10 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Landry Jones, Junior, Oklahoma

This is the rather obvious choice, as while there are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12, there's only one who plays for the team many see as a favorite to win the national title, and one whose name comes up in the Heisman Trophy discussion. That would be Landry Jones, and he deserves the hype. In his first two seasons with the Sooners, Jones has thrown for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. 

Also watch for: Though he didn't claim the starting job until half the season had passed, Ryan Tannehill was a big part of Texas A&M's strong finish in 2010. There's also the supremely talented Robert Griffin III at Baylor, and you can't forget about Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State.

RUNNING BACK

Cyrus Gray, Senior, Texas A&M

While the Aggies deployed a two-headed monster at running back last season, Cyrus Gray was the most productive of the bunch. Gray rushed for 1,133 yards in 2010 and had 12 touchdowns. I wouldn't count on seeing Gray's production drop off at all as he enters his final season in College Station.

Roy Finch, Sophomore, Oklahoma

Finch didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but now that DeMarco Murray has moved on, the speedy back is going to see a lot of action this season, and in an offense as potent as Oklahoma's, that means we're likely to see some big numbers from the little man.

Also watch for: Christine Michael was part of Texas A&M's dynamic duo with Cyrus Gray last season, and he's going to have a big role in 2011 as well. There's also Eric Stephens at Texas Tech who could open some eyes with Tommy Tuberville implementing a more balanced attack and five returning starters on the offensive line. There's also Bryce Brown at Kansas State, and if Brown can live up to all the hype he had coming out of high school, then he may end up being the best back in the entire conference. Texas will be hoping that Malcolm Brown can be the feature back it's been looking for as well.

WIDE RECEIVER

Justin Blackmon, Junior, Oklahoma State

It's going to be hard for Justin Blackmon to match his 2010 numbers in 2011, but the fact is that his production was so insane last year, that he won't have to. Take away 500 yards and 5 touchdowns from his total last year and Blackmon still finishes with 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, however, is if he surpasses last year's numbers, nobody will be all that surprised either.

Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Broyles could have left for the NFL last year, but he decided to return for another season in Norman and Landry Jones couldn't be happier about it. Broyles is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least 14 touchdowns, and a third straight year with those numbers is likely on its way.

Also watch for: The Big 12 is not hurting for strong wide receivers. While Broyles and Blackmon will get the most attention, Kenny Stills and Josh Cooper are excellent second options for their respective squads. Then there's Kendall Wright at Baylor, Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller at Texas A&M, T.J. Moe at Missouri, and don't forget about Mike Davis at Texas.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Senior, Missouri

Egnew is listed as a tight end, but realistically, he plays more like a wide receiver. Egnew caught 90 passes for 762 yards last year with five touchdowns, and he should see plenty of balls coming his way again this year as James Franklin looks to fill Blaine Gabbert's shoes.

Also watch for: While wide receiver catch most of the balls in the Big 12, there are some solid tight ends. Keep an eye on Oklahoma's James Hanna, Nehemiah Nicks with Texas A&M and Tim Biere at Kansas.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Ben Habern, Junior, Oklahoma

After redshirting in 2008, Habern has started 24 games at center for the Sooners over the last two seasons. He led Oklahoma with 123 knockdowns in 2010, including 16 against Colorado and was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team last season.

Guard, Lonnie Edwards, Senior, Texas Tech

Edwards is a key part of the Texas Tech offensive line that returns every starter this season. He'll play an even larger role this season as Texas Tech will likely run more than we've seen in the past. The 6-foot-4 320 pounder has started 23 games in Lubbock and was an All-Big 12 second team selection in 2010.

Guard, Lane Taylor, Junior, Oklahoma State

Taylor is the most experience member of the Oklahoma State offensive line, as he was the only returning starter in 2010. He's made 24 consecutive starts for the Cowboys, and aside from keeping Brandon Weeden off his back, Taylor was an first team academic Big 12 selection as well.

Tackle, Levy Adcock, Senior, Oklahoma State

They don't come much bigger than Adcock, and the 6-foot-6 322-pound tackle used his size awfully well in 2010. Adcock was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and the AP last season (a unanimous selection by the AP) after winning the starting job in August last year and never letting it go.

Tackle, Kelechi Osemele, Senior, Iowa State

Oh wait, they do come bigger than Adcock. Osemele checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds. Osemele got his start playing both guard and tackle in 2008 but moved to left tackle full time in 2009 and hasn't moved since, starting 30 straight games. This will be a name you hear called early in the NFL draft next spring.

Also watch for: Offensive lineman may spend most of their time living in anonymity and working as a unit, but Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma State's Grant Garner are a couple other names you should get familiar with. Missouri's Elvis Fisher definitely would have made the list if not for his season-ending knee injury.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Frank Alexander, Senior, Oklahoma

Alexander only started in nine games for the Sooners last season, but still managed to finish second on the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (7). In other words, he spends a lot of his time in backfields disrupting plays before they even get a chance to start.

DE Brad Madison, Junior, Missouri

Madison had a break out season in 2010 and proved to be one of the top playmakers on Missouri's defensive line. Madison ended the season leading the Tigers defense in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11).  He was named to the All-Big 12 second team for his efforts, and now that he'll be replacing Aldon Smith his name is one that many opposing quarterbacks will have drilled into their brains as they prepare to face Missouri.

DT Kheeston Randall, Senior, Texas

An anchor on the defensive line for the Longhorns, Randall was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 last season. This year I believe he'll be moving up the ladder and having an even bigger impact.  Randall finished second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in 2010, and also had a big impact on special teams, blocking two kicks.

DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, Senior, Texas A&M

In Texas A&M's 3-4 defense, Jerod-Eddie sees a lot of time at defensive end, but he's a defensive tackle in purpose. Think of Marcell Dareus at Alabama last season.  While Jerod-Eddie doesn't spend a lot of time in the backfield blowing up plays, he uses his size and strength to stuff the run at the point of attack and allow Aggie linebackers to flow freely to the ball.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis only started the final four games for the Sooners last season, but he was incredibly productive in those four games. Starting all season could see him put up some ridiculous numbers. Jacqueis Smith of Missouri combines with Madison to give the Tigers a big push on the edges.

LINEBACKERS

Jake Knott, Junior, Iowa State

There weren't many plays run against the Iowa State defense last season in which Jake Knott wasn't in on the tackle. He led the conference with 130 tackles last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection because of it. He'll be bringing that same nose for the football back to the Iowa State defense this season, and though he broke his arm in spring camp, he should be good to go when the season starts.

Garrick Williams, Senior, Texas A&M

Williams tallied 112 tackles in 2010, and now that Michael Hodges and Von Miller are no longer in College Station, he'll be playing an even larger role in 2011. I'm not sure Williams will be able to completely fill Von Miller's shoes in the Aggie defense, but he may end up being just as important to the defense as Miller was.

Keenan Robinson, Senior, Texas

Robinson was all over the place for the Longhorns in 2010. He finished the season with 113 tackles, 2 for a loss, and also had 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Oh, and he's also a standout on special teams. He is literally all over the field on defense, and he's poised for another big season in 2011.

Also watch for: It was hard to pick just three linebackers in this conference, as there are plenty of other good options. Names like A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Sean Porter (Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) and Huldon Tharp (Kansas) are some of those options. Also, if it weren't for an injury that is going to keep him out for eight weeks, Oklahoma's Travis Lewis would have been an easy selection to the team. However, due to that injury, Lewis' replacement Corey Nelson is another name to watch out for.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Jamell Fleming, Senior, Oklahoma

Big 12 quarterbacks will test Jamell Fleming at their own risk in 2011. In his first full season as a starter last year Fleming had 5 interceptions, and proved himself quite the playmaker in the Oklahoma secondary. He's also not afraid to create some contact, tallying 71 tackles with 8.5 for a loss.  He's a very good player in what may be the best secondary the Big 12 has.

CB Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

Judie finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season behind Fleming with 4.  He also broke up 4 passes and made 57 tackles for the Aggies. His impact is also felt on special teams, as he proved to be one of the most explosive kick returners in the conference last season, averaging over 30 yards a return with 2 touchdowns.

S Markelle Martin, Senior, Oklahoma State

This is not a man that wide receivers want to have a rendevous with over the middle of the football field, as Martin can bring the wood with the best of them.  What makes Martin more dangerous, though, is that he improved his coverage skills in 2010 and picked off three passes. He's the type of safety that can separate you from the ball physically, or just take it away from you in the air.

S Tony Jefferson, Sophomore, Oklahoma

2010 may have been Jefferson's first season of college ball, but you couldn't tell by watching him play. The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year started 9 games for the Sooners in 2010 and finished the season with 65 tackles (7 for a loss) with 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. I expect those numbers to improve in 2011 as this kid is only beginning to tap into his potential.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst could have been on my first team and given the Sooners secondary three of the four spots, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he's somebody quarterbacks should test too often. Keep your eyes on Blake Gideon (Texas), Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) and Prince Kent (Baylor) too.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Grant Ressel, Senior, Missouri

P Quinn Sharp, Junior, Oklahoma State

KR Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

PR Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Posted on: November 16, 2010 5:01 pm
 

Biletnikoff, Mackey semifinalists announced

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Linemen, defenders, running backs, and quarterbacks have all had their day in the "award announces smaller list of potential winners from larger list" sun, so now it's time for the guys that catch the ball. First, the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award , given to the nation's outstanding wide receiver:

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Randall Cobb, Kentucky

Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

A.J. Green, Georgia

Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina

Julio Jones, Alabama

Aldrick Robinson, SMU

Greg Salas, Hawaii

Jordan White, Western Michigan


And the eight semifinalists for the Mackey Award , due the nation's top tight end:

George Bryan (Jr., North Carolina State)
Michael Egnew (Jr., Missouri)
Ladarius Green (Jr., Louisiana)
Daniel Hardy (Sr., Idaho)
Lance Kendricks (Sr., Wisconsin)
Allen Reisner (Sr., Iowa)
Luke Stocker (Sr., Tennessee)
D.J. Williams (Sr., Arkansas)

What's interesting about contrasting the two lists in how many names pop off the firts list and don't pop off the second one. Of course, of course, the first is wide receivers and the second is tight ends. But whereas Green, Jefferey, and Jones are all universally considered first-round talents and players like Blackmon, Broyles, Salas, and White are all putting together flatly ridiculous statistical seasons (oh, and Cobb is only leading the nation in all-purpose yardage, and incredible talents like Michael Floyd and Jeff Maehl didn't make it), the tight ends are ... well, they're around. The No. 1 TE in receiving yardage is Egnew, followed by Green, and neither is exactly a household name. The early draft projections don't feature any of the tight ends listed above ... or any at all.

It's probably a one-year fluke. But as with the lack of workhorse running backs among the nation's top offensive skill players , it also speaks to how dominant the spread offense has become in college football. There just aren't as many traditional tight ends playing college football ... and it appears to be having an impact on the quality of the position overall.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com