Tag:Cam Newton
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 27, 2011 12:59 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 13

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: The Rematch. Before LSU and Alabama ever took the field Nov. 5, one of the hottest topics in college football was already whether the Tigers and Tide were so far out in front of the rest of the field that they could -- and maybe should -- meet again in New Orleans for the BCS championship. At that point, it seemed like outsized SEC hubris--not only did LSU and Alabama have to run the rest of the respective tables, but somewhere in the neighborhood of half a dozen teams had to suffer major upset losses.

But however you feel about the Tigers and Tide throwing out the results of their first experiment and starting from scratch for almost all the marbles (their loss in Tuscaloosa will at least cost the Tide a shot at an SEC title), the arguments at this stage are
all but academic; regardless of the results of championship weekend, LSU and Alabama are such clearcut Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings that they'll almost certainly stay that way even if LSU falls to Georgia in Atlanta this Saturday. The tables have been run, right up through Friday's rout of Arkansas by the Tigers and Alabama's bludgeoning of Auburn Saturday. The half-dozen teams have suffered those upsets. Whatever hope Oklahoma State had of getting the nod from voters was probably extinguished by the overwhelming matter in which LSU and Alabama won. It's done.

LOSERS: SEC haters. All of which means the SEC is going to win its sixth consecutive national championship. And while maybe the league has gotten a little too much credit for that achievement -- the conference's reputation has helped mask that behind the LSU/Alabama/Arkansas/Georgia triumvirate, there's precious little real quality -- is anyone really going to argue that the Tigers and Tide aren't the nation's two best teams right now? That the season shouldn't end with one team or the other hoisting the crystal football? It ain't bragging if you can back it up, and when it comes to assembling national title-caliber teams, the SEC has backed it up. Again. Sorry, rest of the country.

WINNER: James Franklin. Since George MacIntyre left the Vanderbilt head coaching job in 1985, five different Commodores head coaches came and went with a combined 17 seasons in Nashville ... and no bowl berths. The one coach who has taken Vandy to a bowl game since MacIntyre managed it in 1982, Bobby Johnson, did it just once in one (utterly charmed) season out of eight. So how fantastic of a job has Franklin done to not only take the 'Dores to a bowl, not only do it in his first season, but do it in out-and-out style, with a 41-7 road win over Wake Forest that cemented that Vandy -- with its 0-4 record in one-possession SEC games -- was better than its record?

A fantastic enough of a job that we'll call it a shame if Les Miles wins the SEC Coach of the Year in unanimous fashion. Miles deserves the award ... but Franklin deserves to be part of the conversation.

LOSER: Derek Dooley. We've picked on Dooley a couple of times in Winners and Losers recently, and take no joy in singling him out again. But facts are facts: if we were ranking the 11 employed SEC coaches in terms of who we'd want to fill a hypothetical SEC coaching vacancy starting tomorrow, Dooley would be ranked dead last, 11th out of 11. 

The contrast Saturday vs. Kentucky couldn't be starker. With his offense struggling horrifically, Joker Phillips pulled the trigger on a crazy scheme change, moved Matt Roark to quarterback, gave up on the pass entirely ... and won the game. With his offense struggling horrifically, Dooley declared "steady as she goes" ... and will be at home for the bowl season. 

WINNER: Connor Shaw. It was only four games ago that Shaw took his Gamecocks into Knoxville and threw for fewer than 100 yards, just 4.8 yards an attempt, and an even 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio as the running game and defense did all the heavy lifting. Against Clemson, it was Shaw doing nearly all the lifting, and then some. In the air the sophomore hit 14-of-20 for 10.5 yards an attempt and a three-to-zero TD-to-INT ratio, but he was even more dangerous on the ground: 19 carries, 108 yards, and another touchdown. No one's about to mistake Shaw for Cam Newton, but if the only comparison you made was Shaw's stat line from Saturday to one from Newton's last season ... well then, you, might be forgiven. 

LOSER: The overall state of quarterbacking in the SEC. Oh, AJ McCarron was excellent vs. Auburn, Aaron Murray deadly vs. Georgia Tech, and Shaw you just read about. But in the nether regions of the conference ... yeesh. Clint Moseley was disastrous for Auburn vs. the Tide, and seemed to have lost the confidence of a subdued Gus Malzahn. John Brantley threw three first-half interceptions before being sidelined with a concussion, whereupon Jacoby Brissett entered to throw a pick-six. Tyler Bray threw one 53-yard touchdown bomb ... and on his other 37 passes averaged just 4.4 yards a pass attempt and tossed a pair of interceptions. Ole Miss's Barry Brunetti was barely there. And Kentucky, of course, didn't even use a quarterback.

Lots of SEC defenses have outstanding pass defense numbers. Some of that is because they are good. Much of that, though, is because of play like the above. 

WINNER: the Ole Miss Rebels. Not on the field, of course; on the field, the Rebels lost their third straight to their in-state archrivals at Mississippi State in a 31-3 laugher that was never competitive. But on the plus side, this apocalyptic 2-10, 0-8 SEC season is finally, mercifully over and the search for a replacement for Houston Nutt can start in earnest. And that is the best thing that's happened for the Rebels in weeks.

LOSER: the Florida Gators. Unlike the Rebels, Will Muschamp's team will head to a bowl at 6-6. And Muschamp will no doubt say that that will give him and his staff a key opportunity to develop his young, still scheme-adjusting team during postseason practice. But the abject misery of the Gators' offensive showing against Florida State -- 21 points essentially yielded on interceptions to 7 points scored -- and flood of injuries made the team  look for all the world like one that would simply welcome the end of this punishing season. They'll trod on to the Music City Bowl or something similar, but we can't imagine anyone in Gainesville is all that excited about it.

Posted on: November 7, 2011 11:53 am
Edited on: November 7, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Houston Nutt is out at Ole Miss: now what?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC has its first (and possibly only) coaching casualty of the 2011 season as Houston Nutt has gotten the ax at Ole Miss. Here's the essential questions that need answering in the wake of the Rebels' decision, and our best attempt at answering them:

Two seasons ago Nutt won his second straight Cotton Bowl, the best back-to-back seasons for the Rebels since their 1960s heyday. Now he's staring an 0-8 SEC season in the face and unemployed. What happened?

Several things, but none more damaging than that Nutt's last couple of recruiting classes weren't nearly as good as advertised. Ed Orgeron left the cupboard well-stocked for his successor, and to Nutt's credit he made far more use of Dexter McCluster, Jevan Snead, Peria Jerry and other stars than Orgeron ever did. But his seeming emphasis on quantity over quality -- unfortunately, the 2009 38-member signing class that spawned the SEC's 28-signee "Houston Nutt Rule" may be as much his Oxford legacy as those two bowl victories -- left the 2010 and 2011 Rebels entirely devoid of difference-making SEC stars. (It didn't help that several of his highest-profile signees, like now-exiled receiver Patrick Patterson, wound up being total busts.)

Nutt hasn't done a good job of day-to-day coaching (by any stretch of the imagination) these last two seasons, and his utter failure to develop a reliable quarterback for this 2011 campaign may have been his single biggest mistake of all. But on a broader level, his losses and misssteps on the recruiting trail meant that once Oregeron's players graduated, he was starting down the barrel of a sizable talent disadvantage against nearly every SEC team he faced in 2010 and '11.

Why now? Why not wait until the end of the season?

If the Rebels have the funds necessary to buy Nutt out of his ginormous contract, it really doesn't make any sense to wait--with LSU still on the schedule, Ole Miss's best-case scenario at the end of the season is a 4-8 overall, 1-7 record in the SEC. Coming off of last season's disappointment and with no reason to think next year will be dramatically better, that sort of record should result in Nutt's canning as long as the athletic department has the cash to get rid of him. Since they apparently do, now the coaching search can start in earnest ... and the sooner the new coach is hired, the sooner he can try and salvage something out of the Rebels' 2012 recruiting class.

Speaking of: who will the Rebels target?

Until he actually moves on from the Plains, the first name on any list of candidates for a mid- to lower-tier SEC job is going to be Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, even with his Tigers taking a step back offensively this season after Cam Newton's departure. The former Arkansas high school coach may not be able to resist the chance to prove he could outperform his old boss (and now bitter coaching rival, according to many) at the same position.

But the job is attractive enough that the Rebels may be able to pick-and-choose if they decide Malzahn's not the right fit (or vice versa). According to one report boosters have already contacted Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, and Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables. It would make sense for current Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora to be in the mix, too, after taking his Eagles to 8-1 on the year. And of course there's always Mike Leach, who'll be along any minute to mention how much he'd love a shot at coaching in the SEC.


Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:50 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 1:50 pm
 

NCAA documents on Newton investigation released

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In October the NCAA concluded its investigation of Cam Newton and his recruitment to Auburn without finding any major violations. The result of this announcement was that Auburn fans could stop worrying that they'd one day have their BCS title stripped from them and that the school would also suffer further punishments.

Though just because there were no major violations found, that doesn't mean the school didn't come close to losing Newton a couple of times last season.

Auburn released documents on Friday between the school and the NCAA regarding the Newton investigation as part of the Freedom of Information Act. What they document is that Auburn was nearly forced to sit Newton out twice last season -- before the Georgia game and SEC Championship -- but that the school successfully defended Newton both times by saying he had no knowledge of any contact between his father Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers.

The documents also included a letter from Auburn sent to the NCAA.

"Despite numerous media reports suggesting Newton himself engaged in wrongdoing, the facts clearly demonstrate Newton has done nothing
wrong," Auburn told the NCAA. "Auburn had no contact with Rogers during the recruitment of Newton. Auburn was in no way involved in offering or considering an offer of any recruitment inducement."

Cecil Newton has already admitted that he asked Rogers, a former Mississippi State player, to try and get money from Mississippi State when it was recruiting his son, but that no money ever changed hands and there was never a similar deal agreed to or even asked of Auburn.

Though the documents that were released on Friday show that there was plenty of contact between Cecil Newton and Rogers, as the two exchanged 275 phone calls during Cam Newton's recruitment at Mississippi State.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 5:22 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:38 pm
 

No major violations in Auburn's signing of Newton



Posted by Tom Fornelli

It appears the Cam Newton Saga at Auburn has finally come to an end. The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it had found no major rules violations in Auburn's signing of Newton. The NCAA also announced that it had concluded an investigation into the claims of four former Auburn players on HBO's Real Sports that Auburn had provided the players with extra benefits, and again, the NCAA found no wrongdoing by anybody at Auburn.

"We appreciate the NCAA and thank them for their professionalism and thoroughness during this exhaustive investigation.  We are pleased to put this matter behind us," said Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs.

As for the Newton case, the NCAA said it interviewed more than 50 people to find out if Auburn had provided Newton or any members of his family with improper benefits, and that there was no reason to keep the investigation open because the NCAA's findings did not meet a "burden of proof" that Auburn had done anything wrong.

If you don't recall, Newton came under scrutiny last season when it was alleged that his father Cecil Newton attempted to collect $180,000 from Mississippi State to get his son to transfer there from Blinn College, where Cam had transferred to after being kicked off the team at Florida. Auburn always maintained that Newton never asked for money from the school, nor did the school ever pay him anything to attend Auburn.

So, good news, Auburn fans. That national championship is not going to be taken away.

Click here to read the letter the NCAA sent Auburn

Posted on: September 10, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 5:16 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Auburn 41, No. 16 Mississippi St. 34

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WON: The rumors of the Tigers' death have, as it turns out, been greatly exaggerated. After going down 21-14 on an ugly Barrett Trotter interception State's Johnthan Banks gratefully returned for a touchdown, Gus Malzahn's offense ripped off 27 of the game's next 33 points.to open up a 41-27 fourth-quarter lead. But State showed some Auburn-like resilience of their own, scoring one touchdown and driving down to the Auburn 1-yard line with 20 seconds to play. Vick Ballard was stuffed on first down and with no timeouts, Chris Relf was then upended by little-used sophomore safety Ryan Smith inside the 1. Time ran out, and Auburn moved to an incredible 10-0 in their last 10 one-possession games. 

WHY AUBURN WON: Because even without Cam Newton and four three-year starters, Malzahn still knows how to put together a run game. With a week to lick their wounds from their Utah State struggles and shake up their offensive line (senior A.J. Greene was returned to the starting lineup), the Tigers rededicated themselves and tore through the Bulldogs' veteran defensive front for 235 rushing yards on just 36 carries--a team average of 6.5 yards per-carry. Sophomore star Michael Dyer picked up 150 of those on 8.3 yards an attempt, including a pivotal 52-yard dash that took the Tigers out of the shadow of their own goalposts late in the third quarter and set up his team's final score.

Thanks to the running game, Auburn was able to open up just enough space for the Tiger passing game (though he threw for just 146 yards, Trotter also threw two long touchdown strikes) and leave State with just too little time to accomplish what would have been a stirring comeback. 

Some measure of credit may also be due the Auburn defense, which despite another brutal day in the box score -- 531 total yards given up, 333 of them on the ground, 97 plays faced as State converted 11-of-20 third downs -- rose up and got the two goal-line stops they had to have to keep their nation-best 17-game winning streak intact.

WHAT AUBURN WON: A return to the AP poll, no doubt, and a week after looking like the sort of team that might struggle to make the postseason, a simple "2" in the win column is not close to being something to sneeze at. But the Tigers also served notice that despite the vast personnel losses, the Week 1 embarrassment, and a defense that bends so badly it seems as if it must have already broken long ago, their remarkable knack for making just enough plays to earn victory is every bit as intact as it was in 2010.

Auburn won't win the SEC West this season (not without some rapid, substantial defensive improvement), but with Malzahn's offense still capable of putting up a 40-spot on any given weekend, the Tigers are still plenty dangerous enough to have a large say in who does.

WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST: This was supposed to be the season the Bulldogs were something more than just "scary" or a "sleeper"; this was supposed to be State's chance to surge past the likes of the green, inexperienced Tigers to cement themselves a legitimate player in the West, their opportunity to surprise one of the consensus top three teams and maybe start to sniff Atlanta. But with the Bulldogs now stuck again behind Auburn in the current West pecking orderthose dreams are going to have to be put off at least until they pull one of those LSU-Alabama-Arkansas-type upsets.

More practically speaking, the Bulldogs also saw starting tackle James Carmon go down with a knee injury and stretchered off. With LSU coming to town this Thursday, there won't be much time for him to get better.


Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 2


Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

It is clear that this is a fight that will not be won easily, as both Woman and Machine dealt me a crushing blow in the first week of the season. Fear not, my fellow containers of the Y chromosome, for a war is not lost in the first battle, and we have many more to fight. So let's get to the senseless slaughter, shall we?

Oklahoma State (-14 1/2) vs. Arizona - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - This one could wind up being quite the barnburner much along the lines of the Baylor/TCU game we saw on Friday night. It's two good offenses facing off against each other, and it may come down to which defense can make a stop when it has to. Even though I'd give the edge on defense to Arizona, the fact that this game is being played in Stillwater makes me lean toward the Cowboys, but at the same time Oklahoma State's defense makes me think this one could be a lot closer than the spread indicates. Of course, it's hard to forget Oklahoma State beating Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. Screw it, I'm riding with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "Remember the Alamo Bowl." Pick: Oklahoma State

Machine - The Machine sees a lot more defense in this one than I'd expect, and Brandon Weeden struggles against Mike Stoops' defense, throwing for only 245 yards and 1 touchdown. OSU wins 27-14, but the Cats cover. Pick: Arizona

Arizona State (-7 1/2) vs. Missouri - Friday, 10:30pm

Man - I really don't have a lot of faith in the Missouri offense after last week's performance, but it's hard to get a decent read on Arizona State based on one game against UC-Davis. While I still believe in the Missouri defense, I think being on the road will catch up to them in the second half and the Sun Devils pull this one off. Pick: Arizona State

Woman - "This is Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather.  This is your football team on Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. Any questions?" Pick: Arizona State

Machine - The Machine is fearful of James Franklin's inability to throw passes over 7 yards as well, but it does not think that will keep the Tigers from putting up points and the defense from smothering ASU. Missouri 24-10. Pick: Missouri

Wisconsin (-21 1/2) vs. Oregon State - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Bret Bielema let me down last week. After Wisconsin buried UNLV early on Thursday night he decided to call off the dogs and not pursue 100 points. That being said, Oregon State lost at home to Sacramento State. I don't care how kind and cuddly this new version of Bret Bielema has become, nor how large the spread, I am not picking a team that loses at home to Sacramento State. Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "On one hand, Russell Wilson magic and a monster Badger homefield advantage.  On the other hand, a hammy-challenged Beaver rusher and a secondary that might as well be wearing Louboutin athletic shoes.  Wait, that's the same hand.  Wisconsin wins easily but throttles back, so doesn't quite cover." Pick: Oregon State

Machine - ALERT! ALERT! THE MACHINE HAS BEEN COMPROMISED! IT IS ON DRUGS! IT HAS OREGON STATE WINNING THIS GAME 16-0! Pick: Oregon State

Auburn vs. Mississippi State (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pm

Man: We saw how tough life could be for Auburn this season without Cam Newton when the Tigers barely had the power to squeak by Utah State at home last weekend, and Mississippi State is a much tougher foe than the Aggies were. That being said, a spread this large for a team on the road in the SEC seems rather ominous, so while I wouldn't be shocked if Auburn loses, it's going to be another close game. Pick: Auburn

Woman - "Pay no attention to the neutered Tiger behind the curtain. Mississippi State wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Auburn

Machine - According to The Machine, Auburn will once again find itself in a whole during the fourth quarter this week, but unlike last Saturday, this hole will be too deep to climb out of. Mississippi State wins 35-21. Pick: Mississippi State

Penn State vs. Alabama (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - An SEC team makes a rare appearance in a Big Ten stadium this week, and I have a feeling that the Tide won't be the most polite visitors the conference has seen. I know that there are still some questions on offense for Alabama, but I just don't see Penn State's offense being able to do much against that Alabama defense. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "Do you ever wonder if Joe Paterno is actually comatose lying in a hospital bed at some nursing home called Happy Valley and we're all just figments of his imagination? No? Uh, me either... Regardless, good D versus great D means JoePa's gonna have bad dreams." Pick: Alabama

Machine - The Machine sees Robert Bolden enjoying his date against Alabama a lot more this season, but unfortunately a late 40-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson makes it a Not-So-Happy Valley. Alabama just gets by 24-23. Pick: Penn State

Duke vs. Stanford (-21 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Let me make this clear: There is nothing I enjoy less than picking against a home team that is a 21 1/2-point underdog. That being said, one of these teams has Andrew Luck and the other one lost to Richmond last week. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Crimson last year, now Cardinal? Red looks terrible on Duke. Coincidentally, reverse the spread and it would equal the mean IQ point differential in respective student bodies." Pick: Stanford

Machine - The Machine does not experience human emotions, but it is torn on this game. Does The Machine go with the kids who designed it, or the kids who begged mommy and daddy to buy it for them? Stanford wins 34-31. Pick: Duke

Georgia vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 4:30pm

Man - This is an incredibly important game for so early in the season as it could play a large role in who wins the SEC East. It also features yet another home underdog, but to be honest, I'm not all that concerned this time around. What I am concerned about is the fact I have so much faith in a team that features Stephen Garcia as its quarterback. Pick: South Carolina

Woman - "I'm assuming Mark Richt's players want him to get out of Sanford Stadium alive." Pick: Georgia

Machine - Stephen Garcia not only starts for the Gamecocks, but he plays so unbelievably well that Steve Spurrier doesn't even think about pulling him. Garcia throws for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns as Mark Richt's seat grows even hotter. South Carolina wins 28-21. Pick: South Carolina

Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Fresno State - Saturday, 7pm

Man - While I have no doubts about the fact that the Nebraska defense is going to make life hell on the Fresno State offense, I'm just not ready to give the Cornhusker offense enough credit in this one. Until Taylor Martinez can show me he can have consistently good games, a spread like this is just too large to bet against. Pick: Fresno State

Woman - "Quick question: Can Bo Pelini find out where I live? He can?" Pick: Nebraska

Machine - Much like The Woman, The Machine fears Bo Pelini smashing it into a million pieces. Nebraska wins easily, 48-17. Pick: Nebraska

USC (-9 1/2) vs. Utah - Saturday, 7:30pm

Man - We all saw how much trouble that USC had with Minnesota last week, and I have a hard time believing that Utah is any weaker than the Golden Gophers. Plus at some point Lane Kiffin is going to blow USC's chances of covering by going for two and failing, and I don't want to have to rely on one of Kiffin's dumb decisions paying off to get me a win. Pick: Utah

Woman - "I'll take the points over boneheaded Lane Kiffin, even if the Song Girls try to lure the Utes into the rocks." Pick: Utah

Machine - The Machine's pick does not disappoint me this week, though I was saddened to see that USC kicked two field goals rather than failing on a two-point conversion. Utah wins 21-6. Pick: Utah

Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - You know, Notre Dame's offense actually had a great game against South Florida last week if you could somehow erase the five turnovers, and the idea of that same offense facing a Michigan defense that can't be totally over 2010 causes me to lean towards picking the Irish here. That being said, the first ever night game at the Big House is bound to give the Wolverines a pretty nice boost, and I think this game is going to be pretty darn close. I'm not sure who wins, but I have to take the home team and the points here. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "After last week, Notre Dame has officially become the Chicago Cubs of college football." Pick:Michigan

Machine - The Machine nailed Notre Dame's loss last week, but it seems its faith in the school has been restored a bit. Or at least it believes in the healing powers of Tommy Rees as the new Irish starter throws for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Irish cruise to a 46-29 win. Pick: Notre Dame

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Machine 11-4 (11-4)
1. Woman 11-4 (11-4)
3. Man 8-7 (8-7)
Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Yes, it's back.

234 days after Auburn defeated Oregon in Glendale, college football has returned. And did it ever.

At some point during Russell Wilson's return at Wisconsin, Baylor and TCU's shootout, Auburn's furious comeback or Texas A&M's blowout of SMU, one just had to take a deep breath, take in everything that was going on around the country and say, yes, the sport is back.

As Washington beat writer Bob Condotta summed up, "College football spent 9 months trying to drive everyone away and in about 18 hours has brought everyone back."

Three straight days worth of games (and one more tonight) couldn't have come at a better time either after, as Condotta alluded to, a rough offseason. Realignment and infractions were in most writers' computer clipboards just from all that went on. Ohio State, Oregon, USC, Miami, etc., were the schools being talked about in lieu of directional schools being beat up by state schools.

The newest addition to the great CBSSports.com crew, senior columnist Bruce Feldman, broke down The Big Picture from opening weekend and now it's time to dive into the details.

Stat of the week

Admission: I'm a passionate baseball fan. I write, live and breath college football for a living but to me, there's nothing like the intricacies of a baseball game. There's Vin Scully in the booth, phenom call-ups, the DH debate and John Sterling going as over the top as you can get on a home run call. The sport isn't for everyone though, and the biggest reason most point to is the pace of the games.

Turns out, the baseball players have come around to that point too. I've watched a ton of Red Sox-Yankees games over the years and still enjoy every pitch despite them routinely taking around four hours to play.

"It's brutal. I can't stand playing a nine-inning game in four hours. It's not baseball," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "I don't even know how to describe it. If I was a fan, why would I want to come watch people sitting around and talking back and forth, going to the mound, 2-0 sliders in the dirt? Four-hour games can't be fun for a fan, either?"

On Thursday, the opening day of college football, the Yankees and Red Sox played nine innings in four hours and 21 minutes. 4:21. Not one football game all week took longer than four hours during week one that wasn't extended due to weather. Heck, out of 1,526 games during the 2010 season, the average length of a game was 3:12.

Stats like this make me glad I cover football and am just a fan of baseball. The excessive TV timeouts in the college game might make some angry but do keep things in perspective: at least it's not baseball.

Other stats of note

- SEC teams scored 63 touchdowns, 22 through the air, five on defense and five through returns.

- Florida running back Jeff Demps broke the 2,000 yard rushing mark for his career while his teammate Chris Rainey (left) scored a touchdown receiving, rushing and via a punt return. He was the first Gator to ever score in those three ways in one game.

- Arkansas's Joe Adams managed to return two punt returns for touchdowns against Missouri State.

- The 53 pass attempts from by Oregon's Darron Thomas were the most by a Ducks quarterback since Kellen Clemons on October 9, 2004.

- North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner had a great debut for the Tar Heels, going 22-23 for a 95.7% completion percentage. That's an ACC record and is the second best mark in NCAA history behind Tennessee's Tee Martin at 95.8%.

- USC's Robert Woods caught a school-record 17 passes and Matt Barkley threw a school-record 34 completions.

- Kellen Moore has 102 career touchdown passes against just 20 interceptions after his game in the Georgia Dome. According to Tony Barnhart, 10 of those interceptions came in his first year.

- UCLA hadn't lost in the state of Texas in 34 years (to Houston) before falling to the Cougars on Saturday. They also hadn't lost to a team from Texas since Houston beat them at the Rose Bowl in 1979. More than the record books though, Rick Neuheisel badly needed a win for this year's record.

- Oregon State true freshman Malcolm Agnew is the nation's leading rusher after a 223 yard performance... but his team still lost to an average FCS team this weekend.

- No surprise to see FIU's T.Y. Hilton turn in another great all-around performance, racking up a nation's-best 283 all-purpose yards against North Texas.

- Amazingly, Oregon-LSU was only the seventh time two ranked Pac-12 and SEC teams met on the field in the last 10 years. The SEC has a 4-3 edge after the Tigers took care of business in Arlington.

The NCAA is following Miami

The NCAA taking a road trip to see Miami tonight…. NCAA.com that is.

The site is wrapping up a five game, five state, five day road trip to kick off the season and is taking a behind the scenes look at several programs along the way. They were in Charlotte, N.C. to check in on student-athlete Stephen Garcia leading South Carolina to a win over ECU. The were soaked after rain storms shortened West Virginia's victory over Marshall. Tonight they'll be in College Park to see Maryland and Miami play.

While the trip is noble, there's a tinge of irony that the NCAA is taking their talents to see the team from South Beach play. Either way, check it out here.

I'm not sure which of the 16 different uniform combinations Maryland is using Monday night either but maybe they can figure out a way to wear the all white ones despite it being a home game. After all, seems like this would be their only chance since you certainly can't wear (all) white after Labor Day.

Don't forget about these guys

- Notre Dame was as sloppy as the field they played on and there's not much else to say beyond that. Yes it was rainy, yes it was the first game of the year but all that shouldn't matter for the Irish - looking to finally live up to expectations and be a top 10 team this year. There's still plenty of time for them to get it together but their lack of fundamentals and now very real quarterback controversy will be something Brian Kelly will have to figure out quickly. On the bright side, Michael Floyd (right) had 12 catches, 154 yards and two touchdowns.

- Auburn is a young team and they're going to take some lumps given their difficult schedule. Let's get that statement out of the way. They can - and should - be better than what everybody is saying they'll be but still, it was a bit shocking to see the Tigers on the brink of a loss at Jordan Hare Stadium to Utah State. It will take some time for this young team to gel and get caught up to the pace of the game. Auburn got a very real wake up call that Cam Newton wasn't taking the snap, now it's time to see how they'll respond.

"We are a long way off from being able to win very many games right now," head coach Gene Chizik said.

Aggies true freshman Chuckie Keeton was the star of the show if you look beyond the box score (21-30, 213 yards) thanks to the tremendous poise he had in his first game ever at the collegiate level. He'll be one to keep an eye on in the future.

- If you were a Michigan fan who managed to stay dry at the Big House, you had to be somewhat encouraged at the progress your defense made. Yes there's nowhere to go but up from last year but Greg Mattison looked like he had the team being much more aggressive. The players still aren't the caliber they once were but there are some bright spots, such as linebacker Brandon Herron.

- It's hard to read too much into Alabama's game against Kent State other than that their defense is nasty (90 total yards allowed) and they have an unfair advantage with Eddie Lacy and Trent Richardson in the backfield. It appears AJ McCarron has the edge at quarterback but both him and Phillip Sims tossed two interceptions. The real test comes when both go into a hostile Happy Valley to take on Penn State. That's when Nick Saban will truly find out which is his "guy."

- Memo to Bob Stoops: walk-on transfer Dominique Whaley needs a scholarship. It's the least Oklahoma's head coach can do after Whaley ran for 131 yards and four touchdowns in the Sooners opener against Tulsa. It's the Sooners bye week, perhaps Stoops can find the cash lying around for a full-ride.

- A so-so debut for Missouri quarterback James Franklin on Saturday. There were positives and negatives for Blaine Gabbert's replacement as he seemed about a half-step behind where he should have been in the passing game, failing to hit open receivers at times. Third down conversions (3 of 13) is one area that has to be concerning but certainly his skills running the ball have to be somewhat exciting to Tigers fans but there will have to be a bit of polishing going on before they take on the big boys like Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

- No surprise to see LSU corner Tyrann Mathieu named as SEC player of the week. He was all over Cowboys Stadium for the Tigers and made one of the biggest plays of the game when he recovered/forced a muff punt and scooped and scored.

More on College Football
Analysis
Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
LSU's Tigers sink teeth into Ducks, show they could be in running for No. 1 ranking. Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
A changed Garcia makes all the difference for Gamecocks. Read >>
Tony Barnhart Tony Barnhart
Boise State's dominant win over Georgia proves they're ready to run the table. Read >>
Related links
Video
Pulling Rank

The AP and coaches polls don't come out until Tuesday with a game being played on Monday. Here's Dennis Dodd's latest power poll top 10 however.

1. Oklahoma, 2. LSU, 3. Boise State, 4. Alabama, 5. Wisconsin, 6. Virginia Tech, 7. Florida State, 8. Stanford, 9. Texas A&M, 10. Nebraska.

Not a big disagreement with that group, but perhaps the Cardinal is a bit undervalued at number eight.

Links for later

- With plenty of time to talk about conference realignment before the games begin again, be sure to check out Dallas Mavericks owner - and Indiana alum - Mark Cuban's thoughts on what Big 12 schools should do. Namely, just say no.

- The video of the week comes out of Lubbock, as Texas Tech's head coach Tommy Tuberville gets the Red Raider fans fired up in this pre-game intro. It didn't work as well as the second half intro, as Tech pulled away 50-10.

- A precision attack from Kellen Moore and his receivers picked apart Georgia's defense. Here's how they did it.
 
- Good column from Sun Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde, who gets Al Golden to open up and share his view of the scandal that has engulfed his program.

- Is The Longhorn Network the sticking point for Texas going to the Pac-16? Yes, but it appears they can get out of it if they want.

Where We'll Be This Week

Looking ahead, Dennis Dodd will be on-hand to see Joe Paterno can try and pull of a massive upset as Alabama travels to Penn State. Tony Barnhart will be seeing if Georgia can bounce back and save Mark Richt's job as the Bulldogs take on South Carolina while Brett McMurphy travels to Ann Arbor for the big night game between Michigan and Notre Dame. Gregg Doyel is going to see one independent take on a possible future independent as BYU travels to play Texas. Finally, myself and Bruce Feldman will carpool to the Coliseum and witness the first ever Pac-12 conference game between Utah and USC.

Across the goal line

Finally, let's not forget how the first day of Oh-thank-goodness-college-football-
is back ended for most of us. I'm really not sure why a game between two commonwealth schools would be played in the state of Tennessee in the first place, but it was. I understand wins in the state are hard to come by, but just how bad was the Kentucky-Western Kentucky game?

The highlight of the night was pretty much Hilltoppers linebacker (and first-team All-Namer) Andrew Jackson telling the nation, "They supposed to be in the SEC?" Of course his team was down at the time but you understood why he chose to make the remarks.

Wildcats' punter Ryan Tydlacka said afterwards, "I'm kind of exhausted." If your punter says he's exhausted after a game, it better be because he ran more than two fake punts, not because he averaged 47 yards on seven punts.

But it was football. The game we love so, so much has returned.

And good, bad, ugly or Kentucky, we'll take it.


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