Tag:FCS
Posted on: September 17, 2011 5:25 am
Edited on: September 17, 2011 5:28 am
 

Game day weather updates, Week 3

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Pretty chilly this morning, eh? Yep -- that's football weather. We've got a lot of games on today's schedule of Top 25 teams. A LOT of games. Almost seems like it practically doesn't matter whether a program schedules a tough opponent or a cupcake in the non-conference, doesn't it? At any rate, not much bad weather on the horizon today, but summer's sure not sticking around this year. Happy tailgating/game-going!

Noon kickoffs

No. 21 Auburn at Clemson, 12:00, Clemson, SC: Mid 60s, overcast

No. 18 West Virginia at Maryland, 12:00, College Park, MD: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy

Afternoon kickoffs

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 23 TCU, 2:00, Fort Worth, TX: Mid 80s, mostly cloudy

Tennessee at No. 16 Florida, 3:30, Gainesville, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Washington at No. 11 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Lower 60s, cloudy, storms

No. 7 Wisconsin at Northern Illinois, 3:30, DeKalb, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Missouri State at No. 12 Oregon, 3:30, Eugene, OR: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

No. 23 Texas at UCLA, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 70s, clear

No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Arkansas State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 4:00, Blacksburg, VA: Lower 60s, mostly cloudy

Evening kickoffs

Navy at No. 10 South Carolina, 6:00, Columbia, SC: Lower 60s, cloudy, light rain

Florida A&M at No. 20 South Florida, 7:00, Tampa, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, storms

No. 22 Arizona State at Illinois, 7:00, Champaign, IL: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

Stephen F. Austin at No. 19 Baylor, 7:00, Waco, TX: Lower 90s, mostly cloudy

Idaho at No. 9 Texas A&M, 7:00, College Station, TX: Upper 80s, partly cloudy

No. 17 Ohio State at Miami, 7:30, Miami Gardens, FL: Mid 80s, partly cloudy, rain

North Texas at No. 2 Alabama, 7:30, Tuscaloosa, AL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy

Troy at No. 14 Arkansas, 7:30, Fayetteville, AR: Lower 70s, cloudy, storms

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State, 8:00, Tallahassee, FL: Mid 70s, partly cloudy

Late night kickoffs 

No. 8 Oklahoma State at Tulsa, 10:00, Tulsa, OK: Lower 70s, mostly cloudy, storms

No. 6 Stanford at Arizona, 10:45, Tucson, AZ: Lower 70s, clear

Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 4:23 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Baylor

Really coaches? Again? I threw your sports information directors under the bus last week for having Baylor behind a TCU team they beat. Imagine my surprise to see this for the second consecutive week. I know you all believe in Gary Patterson. I do too. But they settled it on the field and he lost. Robert Griffin III will give your defensive coordinator the willies. The only thing I can think of is you're not big fans of schools that threaten others with lawsuits.

Overrated: Nebraska

Both polls have the Cornhuskers sitting in the top 10, behind 9th-ranked Texas A&M and ahead of 11th-ranked South Carolina. Perhaps it's our place to point out that the Taylor Martinez completed just 50% of his passes against Chattanooga in the opener. Or that it was a one point game entering the 4th quarter against Fresno State. But go ahead and rank them fifth Ira Schoffel. Sixth isn't much better Tom Murphy. Things won't get much better if they beat Washington either I'm guessing but at least we'll have a better idea of how good this team is.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

Wilner was in this space last week but even though his ballot was utterly ridiculous again (Texas 14th? Almost as bad as Virginia Tech 23rd or Arkansas 25th), we'll move on to Mr. Ratto. I know he watches a lot of Pac-12 games out in San Francisco so why, then, do you have Oregon 23rd and Washington 14th? Are the Huskies' narrow victories over FCS Eastern Washington and Hawaii make them deserving of being ranked ahead of Baylor? Is losing to your number one ranked team - LSU - the reason for the Ducks being behind Texas? Or 12 spots behind USF? Did you see the Trojans eek out a victory for the second straight week? You certainly were not watching Arizona State beat Missouri. And I'm positive you didn't read Brett McMurphy's column saying Arkansas is talented enough to win the SEC because you fail to include the Razorbacks on your ballot. Craziness indeed.

What were you thinking? USF

Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette was in this spot last week for ranking USF fifth despite Notre Dame doubling their yardage and winning by three. So guess what? USF sits fifth once again. They're in the Big East. They beat an 0-2 Irish team by three. They might be good at the end of the year but in no way are they the fifth best team in the country. Wisconsin, Stanford, Florida State and all of the other teams you have behind them are better and it's not even close. I'm sorry, over-rating Notre Dame and then over-rating a team that beat them should get you kicked off the voting roster.

Come on man

Last week, I put my colleague over at SI.com, Andy Staples, in this space for ranking Boise State way too low at No. 13 in his ballot following their win against Georgia. Andy owned up to his mistake and apologized to Bronco Nation (and thus, me) for having them too far down. His week three ballot has the Blue turfers seventh between Florida State and Texas A&M. While Staples' polling has come around, he also gave me some good advice: I'm too nice.

Well, sorry Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman. You're now in the crosshairs thinks to Staples' advice.

I know you're a bit isolated up in Idaho but there has to be television with satellite somewhere in the state, right? You have Florida State as a borderline top 15 team (#13), UCF in the top 20 (highest out of anyone) along with Mississippi State two spots ahead of them. Oregon's still in the top 10 at No. seven and both Auburn and Ohio State are top 20 teams despite each narrowly escaping competition that usually plays on Thursday's.

Hlas' ballot is so terrible he gets an additional mention in this spot. USF, fifth. Seriously?

Also, the AP itself gets a mention for their mistake this week, which you can read more about here.


Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:03 am
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College football's encore weekend not only lived up to expectations, but beat them.

It also caused at least few hearts to skip a beat or two around the country. It seemed like every channel you were on, there was a game coming down to the wire or ready to head to overtime. From the noon games to the night games, last Saturday was one big, drama-filled day.

Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-Utah, Cal-Colorado, Washington-Hawaii, North Carolina-Rutgers, Auburn-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Toledo, Texas-BYU, Iowa State-Iowa, Vanderbilt-UConn and several others left everyone on the edge of their seats. There weren't a ton of great defenses among the group but that didn't hamper the fun as teams either came back or fell just short. Heck, the first night game in Ann Arbor had as much drama as any of them in just 72 seconds.

One game I was really looking forward to going into Saturday was between the Hedges and that game more than lived up to expectations and put one coach in even hotter water.

The game seemed to be South Carolina personified. It's why everybody's hand trembled writing them in to win the SEC East this year. Not only was it the Gamecocks' history but they had a quarterback who frustrated fans and Old Ball Coaches alike in Stephen Garcia. When he threw his first interception of the game, it was simply Garcia being Garcia. The ESPN director, as if he understood perfectly, cut to a shot of Garcia with his hands on his hips, staring down his mistake while clinching his lips and a coach yelling at him. Later in the game he rolled out of the pocket and threw a beautiful pass that reminded everybody of his talent. Again, just Garcia being Garcia.

This is a good and very talented Gamecocks team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday if they don't wind up beating themselves first.

“Georgia outplayed us, give them credit, they outplayed us but somehow or another we won the game,” Steve Spurrier said post game. “Somehow it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”

Running back Marcus Lattimore broke out for 176 yards and a touchdown as the team rode him for 27 carries. USC will have to be wearing of overusing Lattimore because he's the key to their success but at least he had 10 fewer carries than he did against the Bulldogs a year ago. His ability to find just a little hole and take off is special and he certainly can run very hard between the tackles.

On the other side of the ball, how scary is the Gamecocks' defensive line? We knew it was going to be good but maybe not quite this nasty. Melvin Ingram was superb, taking a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooping up a fumble for a touchdown after fellow end Jadeveon Clowney nearly took off the head of UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. Only in the SEC do 275-pound defensive ends score twice in a game and run 68 yards while doing so.

The thing about Clowney, the nation's consensus number one recruit out of high school, is how he stands out on every snap just due to his size. Then, as soon as the ball is snapped, he stands out for his explosiveness and physicality - making you drop your job and say 'Wow' a couple of times a game. Heck, Murray might want to leave school early just to get away from him. Clowney still isn't up to speed mentally but it's coming and coming quickly. If you're an SEC quarterback with South Carolina on the schedule, prepare your ice bath in advance.

For Mark Richt, he might have to go bang his head against the wall a few times after every game. He's had injuries and suspensions and even NCAA issues thrown his way but there's still no getting around the fact that this is a good group of players who haven't lived up to expectations. Just when it seemed like Georgia was about to break through, they'd commit a big error. The good news is it looked like freshman running back Isaiah Crowell got going, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown after breaking a few nice runs into the open field. But even as he took two steps forward, his fumble at midfield that Stephon Gilmore returned to the red zone was a step back. He's still a little behind in pass protection but the flashes he showed reminded everybody, coaches included, why he was so highly recruited out of high school.

The biggest thing that Richt can do next week is get his team to have fun against Coastal Carolina. There will be no avoiding hearing about his job status as the heat was turned up even higher after the loss - he has to get his team refocused before starting the heart of their SEC schedule. Get everybody involved, call some trick plays, something - anything - to get his team focused on having fun playing football instead of worrying about him. He can't eliminate all the distractions but he can get his team to buy back in week-by-week. The schedule is manageable enough that they could conceivably go 10-2 this year - more than enough to quiet critics for a few more months. The Bulldogs are talented but lost to two teams they should have to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.

Now the trick is winning out using their own talented roster. No easy task but one that can certainly happen.

Stat of the week

If I had to take someone to Vegas with me, I just might select Gene Chizik. All he seems to do is give heart attack to the Auburn faithful and win last second games. The Tigers pulled off the upset this week against Mississippi State thanks to a goal line stand that kept quarterback Chris Relf out of the end zone by inches to preserve a 41-34 win at home.

"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Chizik said after the game.

While the head coach certainly would prefer a less stressful ending to games, he might need to get used to them if his team is to keep winning. After taking nearly two hours just to play the first half against the Bulldogs, I was digging around looking for the total game time but managed to find an even more eye-popping stat.

Auburn's offense has averaged 56.5 plays during their first two games while the defense has averaged 90.5 snaps per game. Yes, the defense is almost literally on the field twice as long the offense. For a young team with issues on both sides of the ball, that's an uh-oh.

For comparison's sake, Arkansas has averaged 74.5 plays on offense and 57.5 on defense during their light non-conference schedule. Only two SEC teams have average more than 70 snaps on defense, and just six teams nationally have their defense on the field for more than 80 plays a game. No one even approaches 90 defensive plays a game. The national average for number of plays on defense is 67.3 and 68.8 on offense.

Up against that little issue, it's almost shocking Auburn's 2-0 but they are thanks to some late game heroics. Whether this is a serious flaw of just the byproduct of two crazy games remains to be seen but, bottom-line, Chizik needs to make some adjustments.

Other stats of note

- Michigan's Denard Robinson thrilled the country against Notre Dame and became the first UM quarterback to beat the Irish twice since Jim Harbaugh did so back in the late 1980's. He also has accounted for an astounding 96% of the offense the last two games between the schools.

- Texas has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the second half while USC outscored their opponent in the 4th quarter for just the fourth time in 15 games this weekend.

- Tyler Bray's 405 yards are the most for a Tennessee quarterback since the legend himself, Peyton Manning, wore orange. Bray finished 34-of-41 and tossed four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers both had 10 catches for over 100 yards and the pair combined for three TD receptions.

- In the last 11 years, the Georgia-South Carolina series has only been decided by nine points or less eight times. Since 2004, the winner has had fewer than 20 points every year but 2009 and 2011.

- Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for seven straight games.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine once again this year. He has a nation's-best 35 total tackles while the next closest player has 27.

Yard-by-yard

- What an impressive, almost surgical attack led by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys' offense came out and pretty much blew away the Arizona secondary on Thursday en route to a 37-14 win in Stillwater. Weeden connected on his 13 passes and finished up with a ho-hum 397 yards after slowing down in the second half. He's flown under the radar a little bit (even in his own state) but in 15 starts, he has only two losses by a total of 16 points. It's sometime easy to say a lot of his success is due to receiver Justin Blackmon but Weeden is the triggerman for what the team does. This team can also run the ball pretty well - Joseph Randle is 15th in the country in rushing - and should make for a fun Big 12 regular season when they play fellow top 15 teams Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

- Senior writer Bruce Feldman touched on FIU in his Sunday column but what a win for Mario Cristobal's program. Their win over Louisville was the first win ever for the program over BCS team and showed that the Golden Panthers are more than just the dynamic all-purpose superstar T.Y. Hilton. They take on another rising in-state program in UCF this week and if they can pull off the upset, a run at going undefeated isn't out of the question. It will be tough to stop the Knights but FIU has the athletes and coaches to make it a game.

- Speaking of Louisville, their game against Kentucky might be downright unwatchable. Louisville is a mess offensively and their defense is suspect. Luckily for Charlie Strong, they'll face a Kentucky team that has serious issues with both lines. It's going to really be rough once the Wildcats get into SEC play this year if they continue to play as sloppy as they have been during their first two games. Fans from both schools are probably counting down the days until basketball season already.

- If there's one thing that might be different under Luke Fickell at Ohio State, it's the offense is involving the tight end more. Senior Jake Stoneburner came into the season with 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season he has eight catches for 93 yards and four TD's and seems to be one of quarterback Joe Bauserman's favorite targets. The Buckeyes haven't look completely in rhythm on offense but that's not Stoneburner's fault.

- Not sure what to make of Texas' win over BYU other than it's a baby step back to respectability. Garrett Gilbert's not who Mack Brown wanted him to be coming out of camp, looking shaky again with some bad decisions before being pulled for David Ash and Case McCoy. Using Ash in some zone read situations was a good change of pace and was a productive play with their speed at running back - a group that finally got going, including freshman Malcolm Brown. The defense still is a concern, as BYU seemed to pick apart the middle of the field. Might take awhile for everybody to get comfortable with Manny Diaz' system but there's some talent on the team. Baby steps.

- Two quarterbacks in the Northwest were rolling this weekend. In Oregon, Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense seemed to be back in their normal sixth-gear against Nevada. Thomas had just 13 attempts - after throwing for 54 against LSU - but six of them were for touchdowns on Saturday. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas had over 200 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He's a small but tough back who has speed to burn, should be fun to see what Chip Kelly does with him as he learns more of the playbook.

At Washington, Keith Price got the Huskies off to a 2-0 start by throwing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on his first eight throws and has spread the ball around to a good receiving group well. Things got a little tight against Hawaii but Price and running back Chris Polk kept the Huskies moving. This team may not be a top 15-caliber squad but they're certainly going to give others fits if they can stop playing down to their competition at times.

- I was a bit shocked to see that Clemson opened up as a favorite against Auburn this week, their own issues aside. Dabo Swinney's club struggled against Wafford and things are not going to get any easier. The offense is productive in the stat sheet but in they're still struggling to adjust to Chad Morris' system. The rush defense in particular is very concerning, ranking 107th in the country after two games against a Sun Belt and an FCS opponent.

- Several people in the Alabama program told me that the Crimson Tide defense might be the best ever under Nick Saban. After watching two games, I think they're close to being right. The score was a bit closer than expected against Penn State at 27-11 but this is a very good group. They look faster and deeper than the national championship squad a couple of years ago and are not the opposing quarterback's best friend, to say the least.

Pulling Rank

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Texas A&M

6. Stanford

7. Wisconsin

8. Florida State

9. Oklahoma State

10. South Carolina

Where we'll be this week

I'll be out at the Ineligible Bowl, Ohio State at Miami on Saturday. Senior writer Brett McMurphy is in Tallahassee for the top five showdown of Oklahoma and Florida State.

Across the goal line

There were a series of firsts in the USC-Utah game I was at this weekend. Trojans kicker Andre Heidari recorded the first points in Pac-12 conference history while teammate Marc Tyler will be in the record books for scoring the first touchdown. Thanks to their 17-14 win over the Utes, USC won the final Pac-10 game and the very first Pac-12 game.

More on College Football
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Dennis Dodd Dennis Dodd
Alabama's win over Penn State means AJ stands for 'starting quarterback.'. Read >>
Brett McMurphy Brett McMurphy
My AP ballot: Off weeks, cupcake foes mean no change at top. Read >>
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Related links
Video
Wait, excuse me, thanks to their 23-14 victory.

In many ways, the first ever Pac-12 conference game - which wasn't really true because Colorado and Cal played earlier that day in an overtime "non-conference" game - featured many of the same elements of its Pac-10 predecessors. There were big plays on offense, a close game, USC on national (cable) television at night and, oh yeah, an officiating controversy.

As I walked down the steps of the Coliseum toward the field right before their drive, I kept thinking this was a welcome to the conference moment for Utah. Boy was it ever.

I was about 10 yards away when, on 4th down, DeVonte Christopher caught an in-route that seemed to fall just short of the first down marker. It seemed like a bad spot but the refs said it was a turnover on downs. Then they reviewed it, remarked the spot and gave Utah a first down. Saved by Pac-10… er, -12 replay officials.

Then there was the pass interference call on the next play. That set up the Utes' field goal attempt. I couldn't quite see the holder but was looking at the middle of the line in case the kick was blocked. Next thing I know the ball is bouncing right into the hands of USC corner Torin Harris and he's off to the end zone. The crowd and sidelines were going crazy as he raced to the end zone. I turned to talk to a colleague and saw a few players run out to get a better angle on the return. Seconds later I saw the flag, then the announcement that the game was over. The touchdown didn't count, but the game was over.

What just happened I wondered. Duty, however, called as I tried to grab a few players to talk about the win (or, in the case of the Utes, loss). I kept thinking how close Utah had gotten and, in their first conference game, they had played like they belonged despite coming up short in the win column. They came into a storied venue and almost knocked off the conference's most storied program. Utah is a good team that was well coached but wasn't quite good enough on a beautiful Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Then there was a tweet that popped up as I got back to the press box to begin transcribing. Hold your horses, the score was in question. The Pac-12 was reviewing what happened at the end of the game. As Michael Lev of the O.C. Register noted down on the field, the touchdown had huge implications for bettors across the country with USC favored by 8-8.5 points.

That's when the story changed from Utah being not quite good enough to, apparently, the Pac-12 officials "miss-communicating" and they were actually nine points from being good enough.

It was an unusual ending that I'm still trying to get my head around because the score itself changed after the fact - regardless what the conference says. The Caesars, MGM and Wynn sports books apparently stayed with the 17-14 result. The Hilton, Cantor, South Point sports books switched to 23-14. Some honored both. If you threw away a winning ticket, that is a bad beat that will be with you for a long time.

A finish that was wild, unbelievable and involved money. In a roundabout way, the first ever Pac-12 game got me very prepared for the Ineligible Bowl next week.

I knew you were good Larry Scott, didn't know you were this good.

Posted on: September 10, 2011 3:31 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Wisconsin 35, Oregon State 0

Posted by Bryan Fischer

WISCONSIN WON.
The Badgers looked every bit of a top 10 team against an overmatched Oregon State team. Quarterback Russell Wilson was sharp and efficient leading the offense, going 17-21 for 189 yards and three touchdowns. As good as he was though, the ground game really looked good as the team rushed for 208 yards and were paced by Montee Ball who had 118 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns. The Beavers struggled from the start and Mike Riley surprisingly took out starting QB Ryan Katz for Sean Mannion in the middle of the first series of the game. The redshirt freshman was solid, going 25-38 for 244 yards but that didn't result in any points.

WHY WISCONSIN WON: The defense did a great job of keeping Oregon State from running the ball, holding them to just 21 yards on the ground. In fact, the boys in red allowed only two drives longer than 30 yards all game and forced the Beavers to turn the ball over on downs both times. The ground game kept the clock moving and the offensive line protected Wilson so he had all day to throw down the field.

WHEN WISCONSIN WON: It's hard to point to one particular play that changed momentum in favor of the Badgers but they took firm control of the game after Oregon State punter Johnny Hekker booted the ball for negative four yards. Yes, it was -4 yards in the box score but it looked even worse live when you consider the wind wasn't much of a factor.

WHAT WISCONSIN WON: Brett Bielema's squad moves to 2-0 on the year and have looked the part of a Big Ten title contender. With Russell at the helm and running back's Ball and James White, the offense is clearly the strength of the team. There's still a few things to work on with the defense as they were picked apart at times on third down. They have two more cupcakes to get ready for the big showdown against Nebraska at Camp Randall on October 1.

WHAT OREGON STATE LOST: After losing to an FCS team the week before, it's not like things could get worse for Mike Riley. They were pushed around on the road and now they have a significant quarterback controversy. Yes they lost another game and look like the worst team in the Pac-12 but help could be on the way. All-purpose threat James Rodgers and tight end Joe Halahuni should be back after the bye week so that should provide a boost. Still, no momentum and plenty of things to work on in Corvallis.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Four yard punts are pretty shocking to see. Negative four yard punts are, well, jaw dropping. Despite all that, Johnny Hekker still managed to average a decent 31 yard average on the day.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:29 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 8:31 pm
 

Pac-12 Poll Reactions, Week 1

Posted by Bryan Fischer

It was a rough week for the Pac-12, certainly not what Larry Scott had hoped for in the first (and perhaps only) year of the new twelve team league. Oregon was embarrassed in the featured game of the week, UCLA had issues with Houston in the afternoon, USC didn't impress against Minnesota and, oh yeah, Oregon State lost to an FCS foe. This week could be a make or break week for some in the conference and also could give everybody some clarity in how the South division will sort out with Utah traveling to Los Angeles to play USC in the first ever conference game.

But at least we actually got to see everybody play someone other than themselves so it's a bit easier to figure out how they fall in the Top 25. A look at the conference of champions in the latest AP and Coaches polls:

AP/Coaches

6/6. Stanford

The Cardinal are the top team in the polls for the Pac-12 and it might be awhile before they face a stiff enough test to knock them from off their perch. They easily won their game against San Jose State, 57-3, and Andrew Luck did a good job of getting his new receivers the ball early. Running back Stepfan Taylor rushed for two touchdowns and most of the first team players on both sides of the ball played sparingly. Up next is a trip to Duke.

13/14. Oregon

Quite the drop for the Ducks after the loss to LSU in Dallas. No, they didn't play very well and yes, it's a little concerning that they couldn't get the ground game going against another big SEC team but the drop should be temporary for Oregon. This is still a good football team who has a chance to run their way to the Rose Bowl and, keep in mind, it was a three point game against the Tigers at halftime. Running back LaMichael James needs to get going after posting just 54 yards against a stout defense. Nevada is up next in the Ducks' home opener.

NR/23. Arizona State

The Sun Devils are a borderline top 25 team according to the pollsters but certainly impressed last week against an overmatched UC Davis, winning 48-14. Running back Cameron Marshall looked good for the offense, catching the ball out of the back field four times for 86 yards and rushing for two touchdowns. The defense was as advertised, as linebacker Vontaze Burfict racked up thee sacks and - shockingly - didn't commit a single penalty. The real test comes this week as they'll host Missouri in a big Friday night matchup in the desert.

Others receiving votes:

Arizona State (119 points in the AP poll), USC (69 in the AP), Utah (24 in the AP/42 in the coaches), Arizona (5 in the AP, 28 in the coaches), Washington (3 in the coaches), Cal (1 in the coaches).


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.


Posted on: September 3, 2011 7:14 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Nebraska 40, Chattanooga 7

Posted by Adam Jacobi

NEBRASKA WON. That's quite the start for Nebraska. The No. 11 Cornhuskers dispatched Chattanooga by a score of 40-7 on Saturday. The man of the match was undoubtedly Taylor Martinez, who racked up 135 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries. Martinez also threw for 116 yards on 11-22 passing -- rather pedestrian numbers, especially considering the competition -- but his throws were generally accurate, even if some of the reads weren't ideal.

WHY NEBRASKA WON: Nebraska is a borderline Top 10 FBS team and a darkhorse national championship contender; Chattanooga's barely in the Top 25 of FCS. This was a mismatch from the start, and even a slew of Husker fumbles wouldn't be enough to keep this game even remotely close. 

WHEN NEBRASKA WON: This game was never really in doubt, but it was still just 13-0 Cornhuskers late in the second half with Nebraska facing a 4th and 2 on the Chattanooga 46. Nebraska elected to go for it. Before the snap, Taylor Martinez obviously saw something he liked, and he called an audible before running an easy option around the left corner for the score. Martinez's escort down the corner was his pitch man, also unaccounted for. 20-0, ballgame. 

WHAT NEBRASKA WON: Nebraska's off on the right foot for its inaugural Big Ten season, to be sure, but it would have been nice to see Brion Carnes (1-1, 19 yards) get more than a half-quarter of garbage time in at quarterback for the Huskers. Taylor Martinez may not suffer the same complications this year that plagued him down the stretch in 2010, but given his role in Nebraska's offense it's definitely a possibility, so it would behoove Bo Pelini to have as much experience as possible waiting behind Martinez in case bad luck strikes in a key game. 

WHAT CHATTANOOGA LOST: Other than a game, not too much. The Mocs stayed healthy, and although there was some chippiness near halftime, they generally kept their composure and sportsmanship intact throughout the course of the game. This was a paycheck game, pure and simple, and there probably won't be much time spent on game film for 'Nooga before it moves on to its home opener against Jacksonville State next week.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Nebraska's Jared Crick got the ball into teammate Cameron Meredith's hands twice. Crick is a defensive tackle. Meredith is a defensive end. On one play in the third quarter, Crick deflected a screen pass high into the air, and Meredith came down with the interception at the Moccasin 3-yard line. Rex Burkhead would score on the next play. Later, in the first play of the fourth quarter, Crick blocked a Nick Pollard field goal attempt so easily that the ball hit somewhere around his armpit. The ball bounced away, right into the hands of Meredith, who returned it 13 yards (though a penalty nullified Meredith's return).
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 1

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Ah, sweet, glorious football. There's nothing quite like the first football Saturday of the season, when the days are warm, so are the nights, and you're liable to catch a major sunburn on half your face if you're sitting in the north or south part of the stadium. Lots of great games and great weather on tap today. All times are eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Akron at No. 18 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Low 90s, clear

Utah State at No. 23 Auburn, 12:00, Auburn, AL: Low 90s, clear

Miami (OH) at No. 21 Missouri, 12:00, Columbia, MO: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Kent State at No. 2 Alabama, 12:20, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 90s, clear

Appalachian State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 12:30, Blacksburg, VA: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Afternoon kickoffs

Louisiana-Monroe at No. 6 Florida State, 3:30, Tallahassee, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy

Chattanooga at No. 10 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Mid 70s, storms

South Florida at No. 16 Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IN: Upper 80s, mostly cloudy, storms

Minnesota at No. 25 USC, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 80s, clear

San Jose State at No. 7 Stanford, 5:00, Palo Alto, CA: Lower 80s, clear

Evening kickoffs

Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Florida, 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Lower 80s, partly cloudy, storms

Missouri State at No. 15 Arkansas, 7:00, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 80s, clear

Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7:00, Stillwater, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy

East Carolina at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Mid 80s, clear

Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy

No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia, 8:00, Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome): Mid 70, partly cloudy

No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 LSU, 8:00, Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium): Whatever temperature Jerry Jones says. But outside it will be in the high 80s

Late night kickoffs 

Colorado at Hawaii, 10:15, Honolulu, HI: Upper 70s, showers

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