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Tag:Illinois
Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:04 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:05 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Sugar Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: While both offenses in this game are pretty balanced, the Wolverines proved to be more potent on offense throughout the season, and generally did so against better defenses than the Hokies this year. Which should be good preparation for the Virginia Tech defense that Michigan will be facing in New Orleans. Statistically, the best defenses Michigan faced this season belonged to Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State and Notre Dame. In those four games the Wolverines averaged 30 points per game. A good sign going into a game against a Virginia Tech defense that's allowing only 17.2 points per game this season, which is good enough for 8th in the country.

The true test for the Wolverines will be running the ball against a Hokie defense that allowed only 107.7 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry on the season. Still, considering that Michigan's strength on offense is running the ball with both Fitzgerald Toussaint and Denard Robinson (the duo combined for 2,174 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011) it wouldn't be in the Wolverines best interest to change things up now. Also, whie the Hokies were successful stopping the Georgia Tech run game this year, Georgia Tech doesn't present the passing threat that Michigan brings. No, Denard Robinson is not a great passing quarterback, as he completed only 56% of his passes this season, but he did throw for 2,056 yards and 18 touchdowns. What Robinson lacks in accuracy, he can make up for with the deep ball once Virginia Tech safeties begin creeping toward the line of scrimmage to stop the run. 

VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: The Virginia Tech offense is similar to that of Michigan, though it's a bit more proficient when it comes to moving the ball through the air thanks to Logan Thomas. That being said, Virginia Tech averaged only 28.5 points per game this season, which is pretty middle of the road, and nearly 6 points less per game than Michigan. So how will Virginia Tech make up for those 6 points against a defense that is just as sturdy as its own? It's a good question and one that's tough to answer because Michigan is the best defense the Hokies will face this season. 

Still, there is some reason to be optimistic about Virginia Tech's chances. The only defense that compares to Michigan that the Hokies faced this year would be that of Virginia's, and the Hokies posted 38 points and 410 yards of offense against their state rivals at the end of November. The best way for Virginia Tech to repeat that performance against Michigan may be to put the ball in the hands of running back David Wilson. Wilson finished the season with 1,627 yards rushing and averaged over 6 yards per carry. While Michigan's defense was solid as a whole, against the run it was rather mediocre. The Wolverines may have allowed only 129.1 yards per game on the ground, but they did so while giving up 4.07 yards per carry, which is only good enough to be 57th in the nation. So Virginia Tech would be well-served to use Wilson and the run game to set up Logan Thomas and the passing game.

X-FACTOR: While there are plenty of people upset by the fact Michigan and Virginia Tech are playing in this game rather than higher ranked teams like Boise State and Kansas State, the fact is, this matchup should be pretty interesting. These two teams are incredibly similar to one another, which could lead to a pretty exciting and close game. And anytime that's the case, you tend to look at the special teams, as a field goal could very well be what decides this contest. Unfortunately, that's another area where these two teams are essentially the same. 

At least, they were during the regular season. Since then, however, Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with breaking and entering. In a game like this that should be close, being without Journell could be the deciding factor and tilt things in Michigan's favor.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 6:20 pm
 

Illinois RB Jason Ford ineligible for bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Coachless 6-7 UCLA and coachless 6-6 Illinois's matchup in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has been panned as one of the least intriguing of the bowl season from the day it was announced, and the Bruins haven't seemed particularly interested in the game themselves, skipping out on practice and having four players miss the game through academic and team rules issues. But just to prove they can match their opponent step-for-step in indifference as well as lack of regular season wins, the Illini have now also announced a major absence from the game.

The player in question is leading rusher Jason Ford, who the Illini have confirmed will be academically ineligible for the bowl and will not make the trip to San Francisco. The announcement ends the career of Ford, a senior with 1,962 rushing yards.

Reserve wide receiver Jake Kumerow will also miss the game through academics. 

Ford appeared in at least 12 games all four years of his Illini career but had to wait to wait until the 2011 season for a chance as the featured back thanks to Mikel LeShoure. While Ford's total of 600 yards and 7 touchdowns led the Illini in both categories this year, an expected breakout season failed to materialize as Ford reached the 100-yard mark just one time (vs. Penn State) and averaged just 3.9 yards per-carry. His 26 career rushing touchdowns do place him second on the Illinois all-time list in that category.

Ford will likely be replaced by fellow senior Troy Pollard, who totaled 462 yards this season but on only 62 carries, a 7.5 yard average.

 
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:18 am
 

Butch Jones agrees to extension with Cincinnati

Posted by Chip Patterson

After being linked with many of the higher profile FBS job vacancies this offseason, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones has decided to firm up his commitment to the Bearcats. Jones and school have agreed to terms on a contract extension that will extend through the 2017 season.

"I think in the next couple of days we'll be able to announce something," Jones said after Monday's bowl practice. "We say we're building the best college football program in America. We have a great thing here. There's a lot of excitement here."

Jones has reportedly been working with athletic director Whit Babcock on a new contract for several weeks. The term sheet has been signed, but the contract still must be approved by the Board of Trustees. The Bearcats are currently preparing to play Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis.

Jones helped lead the Bearcats on a five-win turnaround in his second season after a disappointing 4-8 finish in 2010. With their win over Connecticut in the regular season finale, Cincinnati earned a share of their third Big East conference title in four years. Jones' impressive turnaround earned him Big East Coach of the Year honors, as well as some attention from other programs looking for a new coach. The second-year Cincinnati coach was contacted by North Carolina, Illinois, and UCLA regarding their open coaching positions, but Jones never expressed serious interest in any of the opportunities.

"I believe in what we're building," Jones explained. "I think there's so many great things to building a successful football program and not just a successful team. We have great practice facilities now. We're in a conference that we can be extremely competitive in, we have a great fan base. We've got a great place to attract the top-caliber student athletes to."

Before departing for the Notre Dame position, Brian Kelly led the Bearcats to three straight 10+ win seasons from 2007-2009. With a win over Vanderbilt in the bowl game on New Years Eve, Jones will have Cincinnati back at the 10-win mark for the fourth time in five years.

Get all the latest updates on Cincinnati and Vanderbilt at our Liberty Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 4:20 pm
 

2012 NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker



Posted by Chip Patterson


With many draft-eligible juniors deciding to file the official evaluation paperwork with with NFL, we take a look at the hottest prospects with the option of declaring for the 2012 NFL Draft. Of the 32 players on Rob Rang's latest Big Board, 19 of them are eligible to return to school for at least one more season.

Keep up the marquee names from Rob's Big Board, with a few notable additions here at the CBSSports.com NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker.

[Updated Dec. 21]

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 1
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: In a surprise to no one, Luck believes he is "absolutely" ready to enter the NFL.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 2
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Matt Barkley has decided to return to USC for his senior season.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 3
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Richardson has decided not to make his decision until after the title game. He suggested that he would return for another year earlier in the season, but his tone has changed since the completion of the Tide's regular season. "I'm going to sit down with coach and my mom after the last game of the season and see what's best for me and my family and see what's best for the team," Richardson explained.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 4
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Kalil ended any hopes of a "package deal" return with Matt Barkley when he announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 5
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama, Jan. 9
The Latest: Claiborne won't make his decision official until after the title game, but many LSU fans expect he will take advantage of his high stock and make the jump after this season.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 6
What's Next: Alamo Bowl vs. Washington, Dec. 29
The Latest: Griffin hasn't committed to returning to Baylor for another season, but he hasn't announced the intention to turn pro either. However, his parents are reportedly interviewing prospective agents. So there's that.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 7
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Stanford, Jan. 2
The Latest: Blackmon ended the speculation early and has already declared his intentions to enter the NFL Draft. "I think it's just time. It's that time to go. I came back last year to win a Big 12 championship, set us up for a BCS bowl and I think we did that," Blackmon said.

David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 8
What's Nextst: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: CBSSports.com's Rob Rang reports that DeCastro will indeed enter the 2012 NFL Draft, capitalizing on his status as one of the top interior lineman in the class.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 11
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 30
The Latest: Reiff has started the last 25 Hawkeye games, but will not make his decision until he plays at least one more. "I haven't really thought about [the NFL Draft] yet at all," Reiff said. "When the time is right, I'll sit down and think about it. Right now, I'm just worried about the bowl and bowl preparations."

'Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 12
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Kirkpatrick has not addressed the NFL Draft, and likely will not until after the title game. Some scouts have considered Kirkpatrick a little raw, which may lead to his return for another year at Alabama. But the All-American corner has not given any hint which way he is leaning.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 13
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Martin is considered the second best tackle in the class behind Kalil, who reportedly has decided to make the leap to the NFL. Martin has yet to give any hint which way he is leaning, though with such a high position in the eyes of most scouts it would not be surprising to see him go.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 14
What's Next: Boston College finished the season 4-8, missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Latest: The star linebacker broke school and ACC records for career tackles after leading the nation for the second year in a row with 191 tackles in 2011. The Lombardi Award winner said he hopes to announce his plans for next season "shortly after Christmas."

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 19
What's Next: Memphis finished the season 2-10, TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente was hired to replace Larry Porter as head coach. The Tigers went 3-21 in two seasons under Porter.
The Latest: Poe has "just been focusing on the here and now" and is in the process of gathering information on his draft stock. After Memphis' final game he said his mother, Sandra, will have the final say.

Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 23
What's Next: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Iowa State, Dec. 30
The Latest: The official word from Rutgers' athletic department is that no underclassmen have made a decision regarding the NFL Draft, but a report last week in Metro New York claims Sanu has informed the coaching staff of his decision to return to the Scarlet Knights for one more season.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 24
What's Next: Music City Bowl vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 30
The Latest: Cox will not address the decision to enter the NFL Draft until after the Music City Bowl. Head coach Dan Mullen said all of the juniors, including Cox, have filed their draft evaluation papers with the NFL.

Nick Perry, DE, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 25
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Perry is reportedly joining Kalil in the 2012 NFL Draft class.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 26
What's Next: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia, Jan. 4
The Latest: Dwayne Allen has submitted the NFL paperwork for an official analysis from the league, but will not make his final decision until likely early January. That will give him two weeks to make a decision before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 27
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, Jan. 2
The Latest: Worthy told The Grand Rapids Press a decision regarding the NFL Draft would be made after the Outback Bowl.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 32
What's Next: After a 6-6 finish, Miami declared themselves ineligible for the postseason in response to the current NCAA inquiry into the football program.
The Latest: Lamar Miller has already declared his intentions to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Jeffery has submitted the evaluation paperwork to the NFL, and will reportedly make his decision after getting his response in early January.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Rose Bowl vs. Oregon, Jan. 2
The Latest: Peter Konz has also submitted the official evaluation paperwork with the NFL, and will not address the decision until after the Rose Bowl. Konz missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury, but is expected to begin practicing again soon.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Iowa, Dec. 30
The Latest: Jones has applied for draft evaluation, and recently acknowledged starting to think about the decision "a little bit more."  He will likely wait until after the bowl game, and hearing the results of his evaluation from the league.  “If it's right for me to go, I'm going to go," Jones explained on Tuesday.  "If it's right for me to stay, I'm going to stay. I just have to kind of think about it a little bit more.”

Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Hightower will not make an official decision until after the bowl game, but many expect the All-American linebacker to make the jump after this season.

Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. UCLA, Dec. 31
The Latest: The All-American defensive end has been busy collecting end-of-season honors and has not made an official announcement, but Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reports that Mecilus will likely forgo his final season with the Illini and go pro.

Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Jeffery and the rest of the South Carolina juniors, Gilmore has applied for evaluation from the NFL.  Assistant coach Lorenzo Ward believes a "first or second round grade" from the evaluation would convince the junior to enter the draft.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Charles has applied for NFL evaluation along with the rest of his draft eligible teammates. "It's really going to come down to what the Lord wants me to do," Charles explained. "I'm going to pray about it, talk to my family and definitely wait until after the Michigan State game, and take it from there."

Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Charles, Rambo has publicly delayed the decision until after the bowl game and hearing a response from the league's draft evaluation.  Rambo leads the SEC with seven interceptions and was named an AP First Team All-American, but wants to see "what everyone thinks of me and what I can improve on."


For much more news, analysis and the latest mock drafts check out our CBSSports.com NFL Draft homepage

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 12:51 pm
 

Report: Fickell, Chryst among Pitt candidates

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There's a lot to blame Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson for where the discombobulated state of his football program is concerned. But at least it sounds like he's got a plan in the wake of Todd Graham's stunning departure.

And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the first name mentioned as part of that plan is Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. The Post-Gazette reported Friday that Rhoads "appears to be the most coveted of the group [of potential candidates] as ... Pederson and chancellor Mark Nordenberg like and respect him and think he is an excellent football coach."

A former Panther defensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt who spent eight seasons on the Pitt staff, Rhoads declined to speak to Pederson following Wannstedt's firing in 2010 out of loyalty to the Cyclones. But "according to two people close to Rhoads" who spoke to the Post-Gaztte, this time around Rhoads would be willing to sit down with Pitt and "likely will talk with the administration" regarding the opening.

UPDATE, 12:45 ET: Actually, you can probably forget the Rhoads talk; ISU announced Friday that Rhoads had signed a 10-year contract extension with the school.

With Rhoads presumably off the table, the focus will turn towards who the Post-Gazette reports is also on the Panthers' potential list of candidates: Ohio State assistant/2010 head coach Luke Fickell, Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren and former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook. Pederson reportedly feels strongly enough in that pool of candidates that the school is forgoing the use of a search committee.

Fickell has reportedly already interviewed, with Chryst due to interview this Saturday. Given the upheaval around him in Columbus, Fickell may be the leading candidate until further notice.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Report: Maryland to hire Mike Locksley

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Although Maryland hasn't officially parted ways with Gary Crowton just yet, it seems the school is just about ready to sign his replacement as offensive coordinator. According to a report in The Washington Post Maryland is on the verge of bringing Mike Locksley back to the program.

Locksley spent five seasons as Maryland's running backs coach and recruiting coordinator under Ralph Friedgen. His most recent job was as head coach at New Mexico where he wasn't very successful either on or off the field. The Lobos went 2-26 during Locksley's two seasons and change, but there was also the lawsuit filed against him, the time Locksley hit an assistant coach, and finally there was a recruit getting busted for a DWI in Locksley's car.

Things that might fly if the team was 26-2 instead of the other way around. Instead Locksley was canned in September after an 0-4 start.

Still, before the stinkbomb that was Locksley's time at New Mexico, he was a successful offensive coordinator at Illinois for four seasons, including 2007 when the Illini went to the Rose Bowl. He was also a very strong recruiter at the school, luring players like Arrelious Benn from Washington D.C. to Champaign, Illinois.

And it's those recruiting skills that could be a large boon to a Maryland program that's seen a lot of players transfer over the last year since Randy Edsall was hired as head coach. If Locksley can bring that recruiting skill to the Maryland program and avoid all the off the field distractions, this could turn out to be a great move for Edsall and Locksley.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:30 pm
 

PODCAST: Big Ten Wrapup with Adam Jacobi

Posted by Adam Jacobi

What went right and wrong for each team in the Big Ten? Which Wisconsin-Michigan State game was better? Who would win - or really, who would lose - if Indiana played Kansas? Also, I talk about each team in the conference, look ahead to next year and weigh in on new coaching hires at Ohio State and Illinois

[Click here to check out the Coaching Carousel Homepage]

One last thing I'd like to point out is that afterwards over email, Adam Aizer and I discussed what the Ali-Frazier III-type name for Wisconsin-MSU III would be. He had "Dancing In East Lansing." The best I could do was "It's a Sconnybrook." This is your reminder that we two Adams are not the next Don King. For many, many reasons.

Your emails could be read on the next edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, so send them in to podcast[at]cbsinteractive [dot] com.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


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Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Little Caesars Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

PURDUE WILL WIN IF: They're focused and motivated, which isn't always the easiest task for Big Ten teams squaring off against MAC opposition in the postseason. And let's be honest--a Tuesday afternoon game in Detroit on Dec. 27 doesn't exactly scream MUST-WIN EPIC MATCHUP TO DECIDE FATE OF THE PROGRAM AND ENTIRE WEST LAFAYETTE WAY OF LIFE. It more kind of whispers "hey, guys, a win would be nice." The good news for Danny Hope: after three years of being shut out of a bowl game (including the first two years on Hope's watch), the Boilers should be excited to make any kind of postseason appearance, and they should have enough overall depth and talent to get past a 7-5 MAC team if they are sufficiently motivated. But we'd have said the same thing before their failed trip to Rice in Week 2 of this season, and Western Michigan is much, much better than Rice.

WESTERN MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: Alex Carder and Jordan White do their thing. Of all the things either the Boilers or the Broncos do, the only one either side does especially well is Western Michigan throwing the ball; they're eighth in the nation at 329 yards per-game behind Carder's pro-grade arm, and White has received All-American notices after leading the FBS in yards and receptions. Purdue, meanwhile, isn't terrible at defending the pass but -- like we said -- isn't great at it, either, ranking 54th in opposing passer rating. Still, WMU hasn't always lived up to that air-it-out billing--Carder failed to top 233 yards in any game of a three-game midseason slump, during which time the Broncos went 1-2 and fell to Eastern Michigan. But as long as the usual Carder/White tag-team shows up, Purude may be hard-pressed to keep pace.

THE X-FACTOR: The Broncos aren't much to look at on defense, statistically speaking -- they finished 100th in total defense -- but they seemed to keep something in reserve for their "punching up" contests, holding Illinois to 23 points and less than 6 yards a play and UConn to 6.2 yards a play in a 38-31 road win. Both YPP marks were above WMU's average (despite them playing in the MAC) and has been a repeating theme under Bill Cubit. On paper the Boilers should certainly be able to make some offensive hay, but the Bronco resistance may be tougher than the numbers make it look.
 
 
 
 
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