Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:55 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Earlier on Friday we saw Auburn have to overcome a 24-point deficit on the road against Alabama. Now it seems there's another undefeated team with a comeback to mount in the second half tonight.
Though Oregon doesn't face quite the uphill battle Auburn did. The Ducks trail Arizona 19-14 at haltime in Autzen Stadium in a game that has seen its share of big plays, turnovers, questionable calls and even a safety. One of those questionable calls also led to an injury for Oregon's Heisman candidate LaMichael James.
James took a blow to the head and coughed up the football on a draw play in the second quarter. Arizona's Adam Hall lowered his shoulder into James' head and delivered a jarring blow, in which the helmets of both players collided. Well, the refs just saw two helmets hit each other and called a personal foul on Hall, even though it was his shoulder that made the initial contact.
Oregon would get a first down, but fumble the ball a few plays later, negating the bad call. Still, more importantly, James had to leave the game and though the Ducks never got the ball back in the half, he was last seen standing on the sideline without his helmet. His status for the rest of the game is unknown at this point.
Still, a five-point deficit isn't exactly anything that is going to intimidate the Ducks. Second half explosions have become a habit for Chip Kelly's team this season, and I wouldn't be shocked to see another one tonight. For now, though, you know there are more than a few people at Boise State and TCU hoping that Arizona can pull this off.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 5:37 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Quite honestly, after Gordon Gee 's comments this morning , you knew it was coming. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte , speaking on radio about his remarks:
Mmmm, that's some tasty sarcasm. (Conte also added a "they must be jealous " comment for good measure.) But compared to what Boise State president Bob Kustra had to say, Conte was positively genial. Kustra (emphasis added):
"The BCS has finally found someone to stand up and defend the indefensible … Everyone in intercollegiate football knows that athletic directors of those large power conferences are scheduling more and more teams who are I-AA, who are teams at the weaker end of the non-AQ conferences, and for Gee to stand up and talk about murderer’s row every week is just the height of folly. It’s ridiculous ...Come on, Dr. Kustra: tell us how you really feel. Unfortunately for Gee, with the majority of college football fans (though not a sizeable one) favoring some sort of playoff and the bow-tied Ohio State president's remarks bearing the unmistakable stench of gridiron elitism, even if few fans outside of Boise and Fort Worth share Kustra's intensity regarding the matter, those feelings seem likely to carry this day in college football's court of public opinion.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2010 12:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Particularly for an academic, Ohio State president Gordon Gee has never been shy about expressing his opinions on athletics, popular or not.
And it's a safe bet that the opinions he expressed today in an interview with the AP are going to be most decidedly unpopular in Boise and Fort Worth. Writing off entire conferences as the "Little Sisters of the Poor" isn't particularly becoming for the president of the nation's largest university, and criticizing TCU and Boise for their schedules is more than a little hypocritical when one advanced rating puts the Buckeyes' schedule strength barely above the Frogs' or Broncos' and both non-AQ teams have played a more challenging nonconference slate than the Buckeyes' lineup with Marshall , Eastern Michigan , and Ohio .
But as infuriating as Gee's viewpoint might be to those who'd agree the non-AQ teams are far more deserving this season than the 10-1 Buckeyes (whose best win until last week's triumph at 7-4 Iowa was a home win over either 7-4 Penn State or 7-4 Miami ), at the end of the day it's just another warmed-over rehashing of the same arguments that have surrounded Boise and TCU all season (and for much of the past two). Where Gee is really, truly wrong is in his comments on expanding the football postseason to ensure that we don't have to have these same tired debates:
Gee isn't just arguing that Boise and TCU don't deserve a title shot this year; he's arguing that college football should entrench a postseason system that would ensure that they never got that title shot. What his argument (and similar diatribes against "playoffs") misses is that college football already has a playoff; it selects a number of teams, pairs them off, and the winner is automatically declared the champion. Where the BCS playoff differs from every other playoff in existence is that it only includes two teams. To frame the debate in terms of some nebulous future "playoff" against a current BCS system that varies from that bogeyman only in terms of the number of teams involved is to rig the debate permanently in the BCS's favor.
Gee's desire to preserve what amateurism and respect for academics remain in college football is admirable. But there's a point at which even those concerns have to give way to basic fairness. And surely the permanent exclusion of the TCU's and Boise's of the sport from national title consideration represents that point; what Gee proposes is to draw a line between college football's haves and have-nots, one based on conference affiliation, and declare that the latter can never cross it. It's elitism and snobbery of the highest order.
Now, a show of hands: who's in favor of Wisconsin blowing their season finale against Northwestern and setting up a showdown between Gee's Buckeyes and either the Frogs or Broncos in the Rose Bowl ? Is that everyone (Badger fans excluded)? Yes, we think that's everyone.
Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:39 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 12:40 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The eight announced finalists for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award (as given out by the Football Writers Association of America) didn't offer much in the way of surprise; six of the nominees come from the current top seven teams in the BCS standings and all eight coach for teams in the BCS top ten. They are, from highest-ranked to lowest:
Chip Kelly, Oregon
Gene Chizik, Auburn
Gary Patterson, TCU
Chris Peterson, Boise State
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
A victory over Alabama (and the lack of further allegations against Cam Newton ) would probably make Chizik the front-runner by a nose over Kelly, since his team entered this season with lower expectations and a far worse record in 2009. But Kelly's mastery of his light-speed spread-option offense and dominating season would make him a fine choice, as would any of the finalists. The FWAA can't go wrong.
If there's anything to complain about here, it's that all eight choices follow the "good or great team becomes or stays great" model. But there's something to be said about taking a mediocre or even bad program to (or back to) respectability. Here's three coaches who also deserve some recognition for their work in 2010:
Mario Cristobal, FIU. It's easy to forget just how miserable the Golden Panthers' program was when Cristobal arrived in 2007, with FIIU fresh off an 0-12 season, the infamous Orange Bowl brawl with Miami , and NCAA sanctions. Three seasons later FIU, picked to finish eighth in their conference, will win the Sun Belt and play in their first-ever bowl game if they can hold serve at home against Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee State to end the season.
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland . The only reason the Fridge is even still employed by the Terps is because the school couldn't afford his buyout at the end of 2009, and it was no surprise when Friedgen's team was pegged for dead last in the ACC Atlantic this offseason. Instead of tuning out their supposedly lame-duck coach, though, the Terps have surged back to a 7-4 season with a big win vs. rivals Navy and road victories at Virginia and bowl-bound Boston College , putting them in contention for the division title as recently as last week.
Mike Haywood, Miami (Ohio) . It's hard to believe that the 7-4 Redhawks could win the MAC East when you consider how supremely hopeless they were in 2009, when they failed to score a single point until their third game and finished 1-11. In the MAC. But Miami served notice in a valiant season-opening effort against Florida that Haywood had made the absolute most of the offseason, and if they can claim an eighth win they'll have their most victories since 2004.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2010 5:21 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
We're approaching the end of the regular season in college football, which means a couple of things. One is that we can all start wringing our hands over which teams deserve to play for a national title, and another is that award season is drawing near, and finalists are being announced. Like the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, which announced its three finalists on Monday.
Who are those finalists? Drumroll, please!
The finalists are chosen were selected by the award's National Selection Committee, along with a fan vote that made up 5% of the total. The criteria for choosing the three finalists were their quarterback skills, academics, character, leadership and sportsmanship. Now, obviously, depending on what we learn about Cam Newton and the current NCAA investigation surrounding him at the moment, his character could definitely have a large impact on whether or not he wins the award when the winner is announced on February 21.
Posted on: November 22, 2010 11:24 am
Edited on: November 22, 2010 11:33 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Lost somewhat in the excitement over Georgia agreeing to play Boise State in the annual Chick-Fil-A-Kickoff game next season was the fact that both the Bulldogs and Broncos already had opponents scheduled to open the 2011 season: Louisville in Georgia's case, and Ole Miss in Boise's.
That's where the ripples from the Georgia-Boise rock thrown into the puddle of college football scheduling start, but they radiate out much, much further from there, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes by listing the incredible eight teams whose 2011 slates have already been altered to accomodate the matchup:
Georgia, Boise State, Louisville (dropped from Georgia’s schedule), North Carolina (added to Louisville’s schedule to replace Georgia), James Madison (switching dates on North Carolina’s schedule to accommodate the UNC-Louisville game), Ole Miss (moved a scheduled 2011 season opener against Boise State to 2014), BYU (replaced Boise on Ole Miss’ 2011 schedule) and Oregon State (changed dates on BYU’s schedule to accommodate the BYU-Ole Miss game).This isn't to say that several of these teams aren't happy with the changes; Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone called delaying his school's meeting with the Broncos until 2014 so it could be that year's Chick-Fil-A Kickoff "a dream come true."
But still: maneuvering this many moving pieces into place just for one high-profile made-for-TV game should tell you how much weight ESPN currently has to throw around in college football's sphere of influence. And with the WWL somewhat fortunate the Beavers could switch dates so easily and keep the daisy-chain at only eight teams, it begs the question: at what point do teams start putting their foot down and telling television that some things aren't worth the money being thrown at them? Is there such a point?
Judging by the number of dominoes knocked over to bring together Georgia and Boise, ESPN's going to find out if there is sometime soon.
Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:
1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .
But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.
Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.
2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .
In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.
No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .
Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.
3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.
But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:
It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.
Posted on: November 19, 2010 11:14 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Nothing's officially official just yet, but the tea leaves are all but screaming that Georgia will face off against Boise State in the annual Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game. Asked point-blank about the possibility yesterday, both Mark Richt and Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity offered leading no comments , and the AD for current opening-week Boise opponents Ole Miss cryptically tweeted that ESPN was delaying a "big football schedule announcement."
All of that would be enough to call the blockbuster all but a done deal, but this morning we also got the following from Georgia legend and current Atlanta radio personality Buck Belue :
As Belue's tweet indicates, between the loss of much of Boise's roster and the Dawgs' slide to their current 5-6 record, the meeting won't quite be the mega-matchup it would have been this year. But any collision between Boise and the SEC -- not to mention the South's legion of avowed Bronco skeptics -- is still must-see television.
The Bulldogs will point out that the last time Boise came east to face the Dawgs, the Broncos were run out of Athens behind a bevy of Jared Zabransky turnovers by a score of 48-13. But 2005 was a long time ago, and with a carrot like this to tempt us throughout the offseason, the minute the 2010 season is done, 2011 won't get here fast enough.