Tag:Louisiana-Lafayette
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:29 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:22 pm
 

1-to-35: Ranking the 2011 bowl games



Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Each December, there's plenty of rankings out there as to how good each bowl should be. But if that's the "before," what about the "after"? Here's the Eye on CFB's (highly subjective) ranking of all 35 bowls from the 2011-2012 college football postseason, best game to worst.

1. Rose. Unlike certain other bowls we could name (who happen to rhyme with "Schmalamo"), the Rose's outburst of offense came despite the presence of legitimate championship-level defenses--making the punch and counter-punch between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side and LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other like haymakers in a heavyweight prizefight. Add in college football's greatest venue, a down-to-the-wire ending, and even the aesthetic battle between the Badgers' understated uniforms and the Ducks' glitter factory helmets, and you've got the best bowl-watching experience of the year.

2. Fiesta. Andrew Luck vs. Justin Blackmon at the top of their powers -- at the top of the powers of anyone at their positions in college football -- would be worth a top-five placement alone. Luck vs. Blackmon and 79 points and overtime drama? That's worth top-two.

3. Alamo Bowl. To call the defenses in this game abominably porous would be an insult to pores (and abominations). But the Alamo is a random weeknight bowl game--just as no one wants to watch an Oscar-baiting 17th-century literary adaptation on their Guys' Night Out, so no one tuned into the Alamo for rugged defense and awesome punting. Thankfully, what Baylor and Washington gave us was the college football equivalent of four hours of Jason Statham shooting explosions.

4. Outback. Come for Kirk Cousins leading the most unlikely comeback this side of the whooping crane, stay for Mark Richt nominating himself for the (dis)honor of "World's Fraidiest-Cat Football Coach." Oh, and triple overtime.

5. New Orleans. We'd ask if you could remember this thriller between Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State from the bowl season's opening night, but we don't think anyone who watched could forget Ragin' Cajun kicker Brett Baer deliriously celebrating his last-second game-winner if they tried.

6. Military. One word: #MACtion. And two numbers: 42-41. And, all right, eight more words to help do this game justice: last-minute do-or-die failed fake extra point holder-kicker option.

7. Sun. We're suckers for any game featuring the triple-option (see the Air Force game ranked one spot above), and Utah's 4th-and-14 touchdown conversion to send the game into OT was one of the more dramatic single plays of the entire bowl season. That 3-0 anti-classic between Pitt and Oregon State was a particularly distant memory in El Paso this year.

8. Belk. A matchup of Utterly Average ACC team vs. Utterly Average Big East team -- in a bowl sponsored by a department store that thinks Macy's is way too wild and edgy -- should have been one of the snoozers of the year. Instead, Mike Glennon caught fire, Louisville mounted a spirited comeback, and this wound up one of the better games of the postseason.

9. Little Caesars. The quality of play in this game at times was like ... well, have you ever actually eaten the pizza of the sponsor? But Western Michigan receiver Jordan White put on a spectacular show (13 catches, 249 yards), the teams combined for 69 points, and the Boilers special teams pulled off two onsides kicks and a kick return for TD. Tasty!

10. Famous Idaho Potato. OK, OK: we're giving this game (which was less-than-must-see-viewing for much of the first 55 minutes) a slight bonus for its killer logo. But we're giving it a much bigger bonus for the pulse-pounding final drive from quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the Bobcats for the first bowl win in program history.

11. Armed Forces. If you're going to be a sorta-dull game between two sorta-unmemorable teams, better come up with a memorable play and/or a big finish. Riley Nelson's game-winning fake spike touchdown to become college football's answer to Dan Marino just about did the trick.

12. Sugar. Another for the "ugly game, fascinating ending" file, but this was Michigan doing their damnedest to be Michigan again and Virginia Tech doing their damnedest to avoid the rabbit's feet and horseshoes and four-leaf clovers falling out of the Wolverines' pockets -- Danny Coale most especially -- and it was in New Orleans. You didn't quit watching, did you?

13. Poinsettia. Not a classic, but three-and-a-half back-and-forth hours with a feisty Louisiana Tech team and an underrated TCU squad most definitely qualified as "serviceable." Think of this year's Poinsettia as the quality burger-and-fries plate from the local joint down the street--not mind-blowing, but spend a few weeks in Peru, where they don't have burgers or college football, and you'll crave a Poinsettia Bowl so badly you could scream.

14. Orange. In the space of about an hour, Dana Holgorsen's evisceration of Clemson went from thrilling to discomfiting to boring to morbidly fascinating to -- once we all realized the Mountaineers weren't going to hit triple digits -- back to boring again. Not every game that hits 100 points is one for the DVD vaults, as it turns out.

15. Liberty. Give me Cincinnati defeating Vanderbilt in surprisingly convincing, mildly entertaining fashion or give me death! (Actually, we've got that first thing already, so no need to worry about providing the second, thanks.)

16. Chick-Fil-A. For 2.5 quarters, this was a delightful shootout with all the requisite trickery you'd hope for from a game involving Gus Malzahn. Then Virginia remembered that it was not only Virginia, but proud ACC member Virginia, and the fun was over.

17. Meineke Car Care. Seriously, Texas A&M, we didn't tune in to see you only flirt with blowing a huge lead against a team that hasn't won a bowl game since approximately the Grover Cleveland administration.

18. Capital One. This game featured an abundance of must-watch plays -- Alshon Jeffery catching a  bomb, Alshon Jeffery hauling in a half-ending Hail Mary, Alshon Jeffery getting ejected for fighting -- but aside from, well, Alshon Jeffery, there wasn't much to it.

19. Cotton Bowl. The 15 seconds of Joe Adams' punt return, the 10 seconds of Jarius Wright's touchdown, and the 5 minutes when it looked like Kansas State might mount yet another smashing comeback were riveting stuff. The other 54:35? Not so much.

20. BCS National Championship. A great game, if you're the sort of fan who enjoys watching nature shows where a pride of lions tear a wildebeest to pieces because the wildebeest can't complete a downfield pass to save its life.

21. TicketCity. If he'd stuggled, he'd have been called a fraud; because he ripped Penn State's D into tiny shreds, no one paid attention. Which is why we're working on a sitcom pilot right now called Case Keenum Can't Win.

22. Gator. When one team's special teams scores just one fewer touchdown than the two offenses combined (as Florida's did), it's safe to say you're not watching a classic.

23. GoDaddy.com. Thanks to a 31-0 run from Northern Illinois, what was expected to be a nailbiting shootout ended up the biggest disappointment since that "unrated web content" we checked out.

24. Champs Sports. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Seminoles and Irish were trying their best ... to make us wish they'd just aired a repeat of the 1993 meeting instead.

25. Las Vegas. College football produces a lot of emotions, but from the neutral perspective, it's rare that one of them is outright legitimate anger. Seeing Kellen Moore forced to end his career slumming it against an Arizona State team that checked out in early November sure turned the trick, though.

26. Independence. The Tar Heels came out so flat, and were finished off so quickly, that we're pretty sure the only lovely parting gift they walked away with was "Independence Bowl: the Board Game."

27. Music City. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, and Wake Forest averaged 2.9 yards per-play. If Hank Williams or some other old-time country artist had come to Nashville to write a sad song about a sad bowl game, this is the game they'd use for inspiration.

28. Insight. Sadly, the only "insight" we got from this game was that Vegas oddsmakers -- who had the Sooners installed as the biggest favorite of the entire bowl season -- know what they're talking about. And who didn't know that already?

29. Holiday. It wasn't that long ago when Jeff Tedford's Cal and Mack Brown's Texas squaring off would have been appointment television. This game was, too, though in the sense that it was the sort of game you made an appointment somewhere else to avoid viewing.

30. Hawaii. Nevada and Southern Mississippi were collectively as sharp as your average butter knife, but let's see you spend a week chilling in Hawaii and then play a quality football game. The best players the NFL has to offer try it every single year and haven't succeeded yet.

31. Pinstripe. The only thing we remember from this game was our wish to travel back to, say, 1998, and explain to a random college football fan that in 2011, Rutgers would win a bowl game in Yankee Stadium that would give them the nation's longest postseason winning streak. (We're still not sure it's actually happening.)

32. Beef 'O' Brady's. Newton's Second Law of Bowl Aesthetics: Whensoever a Game Produces Fewer Offensive Touchdowns Than the Game Has Apostrophes in its Title, That Game Shall Be, Verily, Entirely Terrible.

33. New Mexico. We'd waited so long to be able to sit down and watch a college bowl game, and by halftime we were sort of wishing we'd gotten to wait a little bit longer.

34. BBVA Compass. For two straight years, Pitt has been forced to play in Legion Field on a January weekday afternoon in front of no one under an interim coach against a nondescript opponent. Vs. SMU the Panthers looked like they'd much rather be off somewhere doing something much more fun, like peeling potatoes with their teeth--and we don't blame them a bit.

35. Kraft Fight Hunger. Comedian Patton Oswalt once called a certain famous KFC product a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." Capitalize that B, and we can't think of a better way to describe 2011 Illinois "battling" 2011 UCLA.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.
Posted on: January 11, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 4:17 pm
 

2011-12 All-Bowl Team

J. Darin Darst

Another season gone and another SEC team has been declared BCS Champions.

And after 35 bowl games, it's time to look back and remember some of the great individual performances of the past month. Here are the best in this year's All-Bowl Team:

QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia (Orange): The junior had quite a homecoming in South Florida, setting three Orange Bowl records. He threw for a record 407 yards and accounted for seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in the Mountaineers' 70-33 thrashing of Clemson. Smith finished 32 of 43 passing, while also rushing for 26 yards on five carries.Geno Smith

RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Alamo): All the attention was on Robert Griffin, but the senior had quite a game. He rushed for 200 yards on 21 carries and scored five touchdowns -- all in the second half. He scored on runs of 89, 1, 1, 4 and 43 yards.

RB: Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (Fiesta): Another running back in the shadow of his quarterback, Taylor had a strong performance in the loss to Oklahoma State. In his best game of the season, the junior ran for 177 yards on 35 carries, while scoring two touchdowns (1 and 4 yards).

WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia (Orange): Not to be overshadowed by teammate Smith, the junior receiver had his own amazing Orange Bowl. He set a bowl record with 280 all-purpose yards, including 117 receiving yards on 11 catches. He also recorded four receiving touchdowns. Austin, who was a member of the CBSSports.com All-America Team as an all-purpose player, also finished with a 23.4-yard average on five kickoff returns.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Fiesta): The junior playing in his final college game, went out with a bang. He had eight catches for 186 yards (23.3-yard average) and scored three touchdowns. Blackmon was a huge part of the Cowboys offense, scoring on catches of 43, 67 and 17 yards.

WR: Patrick Edwards, Houston (TicketCity): In an era of huge offenses, it's only fitting to have three receivers on this year's All-Bowl Team. The senior had one of his best games of the season, catching 10 passes for 228 yards with two touchdowns in the victory over Penn State. Edwards scored on passes of 40 and 75 yards.

TE: Ladarius Green, La.-Lafayette (New Orleans): The senior has had quite a career at Louisiana-Lafayette, but before bolting off to the NFL, Green helped the Rajin Cajuns win their first bowl game. He had five catches for 121 yards and scored on a 20-yard reception.

Offensive Line: Nate Potter (LT), Joe Kellogg (LG), Cory Yriarte (C), Chuck Hayes (RG), Charles Leno (RT), Boise State (Maaco): The offensive line not only blocked for Doug Martin, who ended up with 151 yards rushing, but didn't allow a sack in Kellen Moore's final game of his college career. Potter, Yriarte and Hayes go out with Moore as one of the most successful senior classes in history.

DL: Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Fight Hunger): In his final college game, the junior recorded five tackles, including three for a loss and 1.5 sacks against UCLA. The Bruins were held to 18 yards rushing and Mercilus was a big reason for that.

DL: Cordarro Law, Southern Miss (Hawaii): The defensive MVP of the Hawaii Bowl led the Golden Eagles with seven tackles, 4.5 for a loss and recorded two sacks.

Courtney UpshawDL: Mike Martin, Michigan (Sugar): The senior had a strong performance, recording 10 tackles and 0.5 sacks in Michigan's victory over Virginia Tech. The defensive end helped limit the Hokies to just one touchdown.

DL: William Gholston, Michigan State (Outback): The sophomore had a great game against Georgia, recording seven solo tackles, including five for a loss, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.

LB: Kiko Alonso, Oregon (Rose): The junior recorded five tackles, including 2.5 for a loss with 1.5 sacks. But his biggest play of the game was when he intercepted Russell Wilson late in the third quarter, which set up Oregon's go-ahead touchdown. Alonso earned defensive MVP honors from the Rose Bowl for his outstanding play.

LB: Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (BCS championship): The defensive MVP of the BCS Championship game, Upshaw was the leader for the Crimson Tide, allowing LSU to cross the 50-yard line only once. Upshaw finished with seven tackles, including six solo with one sack.

LB: Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (Pinstripe): He led the Scarlet Knights defense with 13 tackles, including seven solo, to go along with three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble in the victory over Iowa State.

DB: David Amerson, N.C. State (Belk): The sophomore added two more interceptions to his total, giving him an ACC record 13 for the season. Amerson also returned one for a 65-yard touchdown and recorded five tackles in the victory over Louisville.

DB: Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt (Liberty): One of the best defensive backs in the SEC went out in style, recorded eight tackles with two interceptions while being named defensive MVP for the game.

DB: Dexter McCoil, Tulsa (Armed Forces): The junior had one of his best career games, recording 10 tackles and two interceptions against BYU. McCoil actually intercepted a third pass from quarterback Riley Nelson, but it was nullified after a Tulsa penalty.

DB: Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (BCS championship): The leader of the Alabama secondary recorded four tackles, including two for a loss, while shutting down LSU's Rueben Randle in the BCS championship game.

Eric PageP: Paul Hershey, Ohio (Idaho Potato): The senior had six punts for 300 yards (50.0-yard average), including three inside the 20 (two inside the 10). With 4:23 remaining and Ohio down by a touchdown, Hershey nailed a 49-yarder down to the Utah State 7. That punt allowed Ohio to play the field position game, getting the ball back at their own 39 and scoring the game-winning score with seven seconds remaining.

K: Jeremy Shelley, Alabama (BCS championship): Shelley had quite a redemption game against LSU the second time around. The junior hit five field goals -- 23, 34, 41, 35 and 44 yards in the championship game to help Alabama build a 15-0 lead.

KR: Eric Page, Toledo (Military): One of the best kick return man in the nation, Page returned four kick returns for 153 yards (38.25 avg), including a 87-yard touchdown in the victory over Air Force.

PR: Joe Adams, Arkansas (Cotton): Adams did it again, returning his fourth punt this season for a touchdown, breaking a 51-yarder in the victory over Kansas State.

All-Purpose: De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (Rose): The freshman had quite a game against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. He rushed for 155 yards on two carries, scoring both times. One of those runs was a 91-yard burst. Thomas also had 125 yards on four kickoff returns, to go along with 34 yards receiving on four catches.







Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 1:17 am
 

QUICK HITS: La. Lafayette 32 San Diego State 30

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Wow, what a great way to end the first day of bowl season. After the Ragin' Cajuns jumped out to a 19-3 lead early in the third quarter, this game was looking as though it wouldn't provide much drama, but I guess it just wanted to wait as long as possible. San Diego State battled back in the fourth quarter and finally took the lead with 35 seconds left on a touchdown pass from Ryan Lindley to Colin Lockett.

Louisiana-Lafayette then got the ball back down 30-29 with no timeouts, but it didn't matter. The Cajuns marched down the field to set up a 50-yard field goal attempt, and Brett Baer picked a great time to kick the longest field goal of his life, sending Louisiana-Lafayette to a win.

WHY LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Well, you could say that the Cajuns won this game because they had the ball last, and while it would be partly true, it wouldn't be entirely fair either. You see, while San Diego State played strong in the second half, for the first 30 minutes of this game the Aztecs were a lethargic bunch. Whether it was because they didn't want to be there or was just another typical first half -- the Aztecs won 5 games this season in which they trailed during the first half -- for San Diego State, I'm not sure. But if the Aztecs played the first 30 minutes like they played the last 30, well, Louisiana-Lafayette may have never been in position to win this game.

WHEN LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. As Brett Baer's 50-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired.

WHAT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. When you haven't been to a bowl game in 41 years, and you start the season widely considered to be one of, if not the worst team on the FBS level, you're going to want to win your bowl game. That was evident in the way the Cajuns played on Saturday night, and their effort resulted in the school's first ever bowl victory. A pretty nice thing to be a part of if you're a Ragin' Cajun.

WHAT SAN DIEGO STATE LOST. A chance to win its second consecutive bowl game, even after Brady Hoke left for Michigan. Still, an 8-5 season is nothing to be ashamed of for the Aztecs, so while the loss stings, I don't think it hurts too much.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This is Louisiana-Lafayette's strength coach. That's a bleeding wound on his head he suffered after apparently head-butting one of his own players. No, he felt no need to wipe the blood off. In fact, it was still there, all dried and caked on his face, in the fourth quarter.



GRADE: A. When it comes to these early bowl games featuring teams you're not used to watching on a regular basis, you can only ask for one thing: a close, entertaining game. And this one provided everything you wanted, including the lead changing hands twice in the final 35 seconds. What more could you want?
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:25 pm
 

New Orleans Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the New Orleans Bowl

Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State vs. Lance Kelley, LB, Louisiana-Lafayette

This should be the biggest matchup in this game, as Hillman is one of the nation's leading rushers, finishing third in the country with 1,656 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Hillman also picked up another 221 yards on 20 receptions during the season, as he is the key component of the San Diego State offense which finished 28th in the country in rushing yards. Then there's the Louisiana-Lafayette defense which allowed 3.8 yards per carry and 144.5 yards rushing per game this season. More importantly, the Cajuns allowed 25 touchdowns on the ground this season.

So you can expect the Aztecs to try and take advantage of that, which means the matchup between Hillman and linebacker Lance Kelley will be huge in this game. Obviously, Kelley has ten teammates on defense who will have to help out, but he was the team's leading tackler in 2011 with 107 tackles. Nearly 30 more than his closest teammate.

How successful Kelley is in stopping Hillman, or at the very least keeping him in check, will go a long way in determining which way this game goes. If Hillman has a typical day of 138 yards and a touchdown or two, then San Diego State is going to win. If Kelley can slow him down and force San Diego State's offense into being more one-dimensional, then the Cajuns' chances only improve.

You can check out our extensive New Orleans Bowl Pregame preview here
Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Bowl Game Picks: Who Do You Like?

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every week the CBSSports.com college football staff offers our picks straight up and against the spread in the Expert Picks. But we aren't the only ones who get to offer our opinions on the outcome of the weekend's best games. In our weekly "Who Do You Like" Picks, we give you - the readers - a chance to weigh in on how you think the upcoming slate of games will play out.

After getitng your opinion on the BCS bowls last week, we move our attention to some of the high-profile non-BCS bowls in the weeks ahead.  Let us know how you think these cross-conference showdowns will play out in the days leading up to the National Championship Game.       

You can see the results of the voting every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Inside College Football, airing on the CBS Sports Network.



Come debate your picks for the week with other college football fans at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Keys to the Game: New Orleans Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

SAN DIEGO STATE WILL WIN IF: The Aztecs are appearing in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1966-67 seasons, and they'd like to make it two consecutive bowl victories as well. To do this the Aztecs should look to exploit a Louisiana-Lafayette defense that isn't exactly top-notch. The Cajuns allowed nearly 30 points a game this season, and allowed 25 rushing touchdowns. Which means that Ronnie Hillman should find some space to run for San Diego State. Not that Ryan Lindley won't have chances of his own, as the Cajuns allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 63% of their passes for an average of 7 yards a pop on defense. As for San Diego State's defense, the biggest test will be slowing Blaine Gautier. The majority of the damage the Cajuns do on offense is threw the air, so getting pressure on Gautier to disrupt his rhythmn will make life a lot easier.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WILL WIN IF: The biggest challenge for the Cajuns in this one will be the fact that they're strength (passing offense) is going against a strength of San Diego State (passing defense). Blaine Gautier finished the season with 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions, but the San Diego State defense is in the top 50 nationally and second in the Mountain West in defensive pass efficiency. While the Aztecs gave up 15 touchdowns through the air this season, they also picked off 14 passes. The Aztecs also led the MWC with 28 sacks this season. Which means the Cajuns would be helped quite a bit if freshman running back Alonzo Harris can find some success on the ground and not let the Aztecs defense key on the passing game.

X-FACTOR: Ronnie Hillman. Though he's only a sophomore, Hillman managed to finish the 2011 regular season third nationally with 1,656 rushing touchdowns, and he was also sixth in touchdowns with 19. He is the key component of the San Diego State offense, and unless a Cajuns defense that's allowing 144.5 yards per game on the ground can figure out a way to stop him, then this game may not be all that close.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette going bowling

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisiana-Lafayette is expected to announce an invitation to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in a pep rally on Monday, according local reports.

University officials announced a "bowl invitation pep rally" for Monday, where the school is expected to announce the acceptance to participate in one of the Sun Belt Conference's two bowl games. The game, played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 17, will be the first bowl game for Louisiana-Lafayette since 1970. It is also the first time in the 11-year history of the New Orleans Bowl that a team from Louisiana will be participating.

The Ragin Cajuns (8-3) were off in Week 12, but likely figured out their destination after Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State accepted an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl - the only other bowl guaranteed to the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves locked up the conference after a 45-19 road victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

"Arkansas State is 9-2 with the potential of being 10-2 and having a real good record when they arrive in Mobile for the game," GoDaddy.com president Jerry Silverstein told the Mobile Press-Register. "Not being in a bowl game in a while, being in a game the night before the (BCS) national championship game, it gives their fans a chance to come to town for a good weekend."

Arkansas State will face the to-be-determined MAC champion in Mobile, while Louisiana-Lafayette is slated to face a team from Conference USA. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm actually has Syracuse slotted for the New Orleans Bowl, in the event that Conference USA will not be able to fill all their bids with bowl eligible teams.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:08 am
 

In defense of the Oklahoma State defense



Posted by Tom Fornelli

When you look at the top three teams in the BCS rankings right now, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, most people would tell you that the difference between those three teams is that LSU and Alabama have impenetrable defenses, which would make either one a favorite against Oklahoma State in a title game, should it come to that.

Well, that's not entirely fair to the Oklahoma State defense, because it's a unit that is a lot stronger than it looks. On the surface people will see a unit that is giving up 26.5 points a game, which is good for 62nd best in the country. Compare that to Alabama's 6.1 points against per game -- best in the nation -- and LSU's third-best 11.5 points against per game, and the comparison just seems silly.

Here's what you might not know, though. Yes, you've probably heard that the Oklahoma State defense leads the nation in takeaways (29) and turnover margin (+19). That's played a huge role in Oklahoma State's success this season, but the Cowboys defense does more than just take the ball away from you. Believe it or not, it keeps you off the scoreboard as well.

On the whole, Oklahoma State has given up 212 points this season. Which is quite a bit, but did you know that 110 of those points have come after Oklahoma State has already built a lead of 25 points or more?

That means 52% of the points the Cowboys have allowed this season have come after the outcome was essentially decided.

In the season opener, 31 of Louisiana-Lafayette's 34 points came after Oklahoma State had already built a 31-3 lead. Tulsa scored 27 points after Oklahoma State had built a 45-6 lead, and the Cowboys had a 35-7 lead against Kansas before the Jayhawks tacked on another 21 meaningless points in a 70-28 loss. This past weekend Oklahoma State was up 42-0 on Baylor before the Bears finished the day with 24 points.

So the majority of the points scored against Oklahoma State's defense has been when the Cowboys have called off the dogs and starting substituting for players on defense. In fact, there's only been two games this season in which a team scored more points against Oklahoma State in the first half than it did in the second half. Those two games were the epic comeback against Texas A&M and the win over Missouri.

In the first half of games opposing quarterbacks are completing 56.4% of their passes with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for a QB rating of 103.96. In the second half those numbers grow to a 63.1% completion rate with 6 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a rating of 126.38.

So, yes, the Oklahoma State defense does give up a lot of points. It's just too bad that most of those points have come after the game was already over. So you might want to reconsider the notion that this weekend's game between LSU and Alabama is a default national championship, because Oklahoma State isn't going to just step out of the way.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com