Tag:Quick Hits
Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:19 pm

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 42, No. 12 Georgia 10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU WON: For 30 minutes, save for one moment of Tyrann Mathieu brilliance, the Tigers barely looked like a team that deserved to be ranked at all, much less No. 1. Becoming the first SEC team in nine years to go the entire first half without a first down will do that. But -- as it usually is -- the second half was all Tigers, with another long Mathieu punt return and a pair of Aaron Murray turnovers yielding a 21-0 third quarter run. Despite a valiant defensive effort (the Tigers finished with just 238 total yards and had one scoring drive longer than 26 yards), the Bulldogs were toast at that point; the Georgia offense totaled just 28 yards across the second and third quarters and had twice as many more turnovers/punts (8 total) than first downs (4). Mathieu took home MVP honors after his two electric punt returns and a fumble recovery.

WHY LSU WON: The same reason it always wins: the big play. Do you know how hard it is to rank 62nd in the nation in total yardage and still score more points than any other SEC team, and more than all but 12 other teams in the country? It takes special teams and defense that aren't just good but flat phenomenal, that time and again hand that offense the shortest of fields to work with.

And so it was yet again in the Georgia Dome. First, there was this:

Seven points. Then, there was Michael Brockers forcing a Murray fumble at the Georgia 27. Seven more points. Then Mathieu's ridiculous second return, which started LSU's next drive at the 17. Seven more. 44 yards ... 21 points.

LSU's offense isn't the best. But the combination of the Tigers' defense and their special teams -- not just Mathieu, but punter Brad Wing, who helped LSU stay withing touching distance in that disastrous first half with a ridiculous 50.8 yard net average on six punts -- isn't just the best; it's so much better than anyone else's it's barely playing the same sport. 

WHEN LSU WON: Kenny Hillard's second touchdown, which capped the quick 17-yard touchdown drive after Mathieu's second big return, put LSU up 21-10 with 26 minutes remaining. To overcome a two-possession deficit against that LSU defense would take Georgia much, much, much more time than that.

WHAT LSU WON: An SEC championship, a certain-beyond-every-doubt appearance in the national title game, and -- if the AP voters are feeling feisty following a hypothetical Alabama rematch victory -- possibly a share of the national title already.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: A shot at the Sugar Bowl and Mark Richt's first conference title since 2005. But after those 10 straight wins and victories over Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech, no one's going to complain too bitterly, we think. Maybe.

Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 7:10 pm

QUICK HITS: Baylor 48 Texas 24

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WON. Baylor took what had been a close game going into the locker room at halftime, and then completely blew the doors off of it in the second half. It was enough to make you wonder if Texas had picked up some kind of virus in College Station last week. Baylor rode a wave of Texas turnovers in the second half to outscore the Longhorns 24-3 over the final 30 minutes. Robert Griffin also got over a slow start in the first half that saw him throw his first interception of the season at home, and he finished the day with 352 total yards and 4 total touchdowns. Whether that will be enough to give him a push in the Heisman race we'll have to wait and see.  Terrance Ganaway had another big day on the ground as well, rushing for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Case McCoy finished the day with 356 yards passing and 3 touchdowns, but it was his 4 interceptions that killed the Longhorns in the second half.

HOW BAYLOR WON. With a whole lot of help from Texas. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Baylor offense didn't really get in gear until the second half when the Longhorns started giving the ball away like your grandma does candy. The Longhorns turned the ball over 6 times on Saturday, 4 of which came in the second half, and Baylor was all too willing to take advantage of them.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. Following another Texas turnover in the fourth quarter, Griffin found Terrance Williams for a 39-yard touchdown strike with 7:43 to go to make the score 48-24. Whatever hope Texas still had before that point was quickly snuffed out.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Since Kansas State also won the chances aren't as great, but it's still possible that Baylor can get an at-large berth to a BCS bowl. I just wouldn't bet my life on it if I were you. Outside of that, it was Baylor's ninth win of the season which means that if it should win its bowl game it'll finish the season with 10 wins, a nice milestone for the program. Also, though they don't keep track of it officially, Baylor became the Texas State Champions of the Big 12 this season, finishing higher in the standings than Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and let's not forget that win over TCU to start the season.

WHAT TEXAS LOST. This would have been a nice win for Texas for a few reasons. First, it's always nice to beat your in-state rivals in the conference, but a win also would have meant the Longhorns finished the regular season 8-4. Instead Texas has to settle for 7-5, and though that's better than last season's 5-7, it's not exactly the type of year that Texas likes to hang its hat on.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2011 5:27 pm

QUICK HITS: Kansas State 30 Iowa State 23

Posted by Tom Fornelli

KANSAS STATE WON. It was an incredibly important game for Kansas State, as a win would keep their BCS hopes alive, and the Wildcats did just that on Saturday. The game was delayed for nearly two hours thanks to some nasty weather in Manhattan, but the Wildcats rode both Collin Klein and John Hubert to victory. Klein finished the day with 244 total yards and two touchdowns. His rushing touchdown was the 26th he's scored this season, leaving him only one behind Ricky Williams for the most rushing touchdowns by a Big 12 player in a single season. John Hubert rushed for 120 yards on the day, and also scored the deciding touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

WHY KANSAS STATE WON. It wasn't the best performance we've seen from Kansas State's offense this season, but the Wildcats didn't turn the ball over and the defense made some key stops when it had to. Still, if you looked at the box score and not the final score, you'd think Iowa State won the game because it was better than Kansas State in just about every important category.

WHEN KANSAS STATE WON. John Hubert busted outside, broke a couple of tackles, delievered a nice stiff-arm and then tip-toed down the sideline for a lovely 25-yard touchdown run to put Kansas State up 30-23 with 3:29 left. Then on Iowa State's ensuing possession, the Kansas State defense stuffed Jeff Woody on a 4th and 2 at the KSU 31 yard line to put the finishing touches on this one.

WHAT KANSAS STATE WON. As I mentioned above, when you combine this Kansas State win with Houston's loss on Saturday, Kansas State's chances of securing one of the BCS at-large berths are greatly improved. In fact, at this point, you have to think that the Cotton Bowl is the worst that Kansas State can do.

WHAT IOWA STATE LOST. Iowa State had already secured a bowl berth before this game, but with this loss the Cyclones lose out on the chance to ensure that 2011 ends with a winning record. Other than that, the only thing the Cyclones really lose out on in this game is a chance to stick another feather in their cap after knocking off another one of the Big 12's best.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 4:03 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:18 pm

QUICK HITS: Southern Miss 49, Houston 28

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Keeping Houston out of a BCS bowl just cost the Golden Eagles somewhere in the neighborhood $1.6 million, but we don't think they much mind at the moment. Over three quarters the Golden Eagle defense held Case Keenum and Co. to under 300 total yards and just two scoring drives longer than 5 yards, helping Austin Davis (17-of-33, 279 yards, 4 TDs) and the USM offense to build an insurmountable 21-point fourth-quarter lead. Running back/receiver Tracy Lampley finished with 196 total yards, 125 of them receiving.

WHY SOUTHERN MISS WON: We could hem and haw about the specifics, but this game was about Southern Miss being the better team, top-to-bottom, hands-down. Their defense was better, harassing Keenum in a way few teams have -- All-CUSA end Cordarro Law was a terror -- and stoning the Cougar running game on multiple 3rd-and-shorts. Their running game was better, with Lampley, Desmond Johnson, and Austin Davis combining to average 5.4 yards over their 33 carries; the 11-play, 80-yard third-quarter touchdown drive that put the Eagles up 35-21 and firmly in control of the game featured Johnson converting 3rd-and-13 and 3rd-and-9 on the ground, plays unthinkable for Houston's meek rushing game to pull off. They had the better special teams, thanks to a blocked Houston punt returned by Furious Bradley for a touchdown.

And most damaging for the Cougars, Southern Miss had the better quarterback. Davis wasn't perfect, but he outplayed Keenum, who seemed bothered by the pressure, misfired on several passes, and finished with his lowest yards per-attempt (5.6) of the season. There simply wasn't a facet of the game where Houston was better. Not only did the Golden Eagles deserve the victory, they deserved to take it home by three touchdowns.

WHEN SOUTHERN MISS WON: Down 21 and desperate, Keenum converted on fourth down and took the Cougars to first down at the Eagle 19. But a sack and two incompletions set up 4th-and-16, and Law tore into the backfield for the sack that would essentially end the game.

WHAT SOUTHERN MISS WON: Their first Conference USA championship since 2003 and first under Larry Fedora. (Maybe their last under Fedora, too, as many coaching candidate lists as he's on.) As joyous as Saturday's triumph was, the Eagles still have to think about what might have been--if not for losses to Marshall and UAB, teams with a combined 9-15 record, Southern Miss would be off to a BCS bowl.

WHAT HOUSTON LOST: Oh, not much: just a perfect season, any hope for a Keenum Heisman, the conference title, a BCS bowl berth, millions of dollars. But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:09 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:19 pm

QUICK HITS: NIU 23, Ohio 20 in MAC Championship

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If it hadn't come in the MAC Championship Game, it might have been the ugliest win of NIU's season--four turnovers, a 20-0 halftime deficit, a whole series of hare-brained penalties. But because it did come in the MAC title game -- giving the Huskies their first MAC crown since 1983, and redeeming the NIU seniors for last year's shocking championship loss to Miami (Ohio) -- it's going to go down as the prettiest victory of them all. All-MAC quarterback Chandler Harnish had far from his best game (his 31 yards rushing was his lowest total vs. any team that wasn't Wisconsin) but threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and set up the last-second game-winning field goal with the help of Perez Ashford's brilliant 27-yard reception. For Ohio, a 43-year MAC title drought will continue--and for Frank Solich, this third conference championship game loss will likely hit hardest of all.

WHY NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: Their ... defense? The Huskies have been a sieve all season after graduating eight starters from the 2010 unit, and came into Friday's game ranked 91st in total defense, 94th in scoring. But led by junior defensive lineman Sean Progar (7 tackles, 4 QB hurries) and outstanding corner Jimmie Ward -- whose fourth-quarter interception marked the official turning point in NIU's late rally -- the Huskie defense vastly outplayed their much more celebrated colleagues on the offensive side. Three first-half NIU turnovers meant that only the good work by the Huskie D (including three stops inside their own red zone) was responsible for the halftime deficit wasn't already out of reach, and only one of Ohio's six second-half drives covered any more than 13 yards. And of course, thanks to Ohio kicker Matt Weller's first miss inside of 40 yards all season, the NIU defense didn't allow a point after the break--despite the fact that any Ohio score at any time would have effectively ended the game. 

Harnish has been the star for NIU all season. But tonight, all the Huskies that really mattered played on the other side of the ball.

WHEN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: When Matt Sims' 33-yard field goal just snuck inside the left upright on the game's final play. The Huskies might not have even needed Sims' heroics if he'd hit an earlier extra point that would have put his team ahead 21-20 instead of stuck in a 20-20 tie, but no one will mind that much now.

WHAT NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON: A trip to the GoDaddy.com Bowl to face Arkansas State in what promises to be one of the best under-the-radar bowl matchups of the season. And we mentioned this is their first MAC championship game win, right, and their first MAC title in 28 years? That's a pretty big deal.

WHAT OHIO LOST: Given how many opportunities the Bobcats had to put this game to bed, this likely ranks as the most brutal of their three MAC title game losses under Solich, an out-and-out heartbreaker. They'll still head to Boise for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but the sting of this one isn't going to start to fade by then ... if it ever does. 

Dave Doeren before-and-after photo credit: Getty
Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:22 pm

Keys to the Game: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: Montee Ball handles a heavy workload. It was plainly apparent in the first game Wisconsin and Michigan State played this year that backup tailback James White was ineffective when Ball was out after (sigh) "getting his bell rung." Ball appeared to lose consciousness on a first-quarter hit, missed roughly two quarters of action, and almost certainly had no business risking further head injury by coming back in the game. We can admit that, right? At any rate, Ball did come back in and led the Badgers back to tie the game, and that probably wouldn't have happened with White staying in at running back. So Ball's going to need to stay healthy and get at least 30 carries this week -- or at the very least Wisconsin's going to need to use White in more unconventional ways -- or the Badger offense is going to be in trouble of sputtering again.

MICHIGAN STATE WILL WIN IF: Wisconsin's defense is the same one we saw in October. Wisconsin's defense is not bad, and we've seen the Badgers effectively neutralize many an opponent en route to a lopsided victory this season. But Michigan State took it to them in a big way in the teams' first encounter in October, and it's not exactly an accident that MSU scored 37 points on Wisconsin. Kirk Cousins was able to throw the ball at will against a Badger defense that spent a lot more time chasing than covering ground. Michigan State can't just run the exact same gameplan as the first game; Wisconsin's going to have gameplanned around that. But the end aim has to be the same: a Badger defense on its heels, and MSU receivers running free.

X-FACTOR: Wisconsin center Peter Konz's left ankle. Continuity is crucial for the success of an offensive line, and Wisconsin's has stayed relatively healthy through the courst of the season. Unfortunately, Konz went out with a dislocated left ankle in the Badgers' 42-13 romp over Minnesota on November 13, and while he's eager to get back on the field, there's no guarantee that's going to happen -- he's still not out of a walking boot, much less practicing, and the coaches aren't going to play Konz without practice. The interior of the line has struggled at times in Konz's absence, with Travis Frederick and Ryan Groy having to switch spots between left guard and center at one point because of Groy's difficulties getting a clean snap off. The Badgers did rush for 264 yards on Penn State, but Montee Ball was held under four yards per carry in the first half, and Wisconsin's probably not going to have the luxury of waiting a whole half for Ball to start breaking big runs.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 11:52 pm

QUICK HITS: Stanford 28 Notre Dame 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

STANFORD WON. Andrew Luck had one last chance and a national spotlight to try to further impress possible Heisman voters following Trent Richardson's big day for Alabama, and there wasn't much wrong with what could have been his final game in Palo Alto. Luck finished the night with 233 yards passing and had 4 touchdowns, but also had an interception to go with it. Still, Stanford stuck with the same formula that it had followed all season long, and rushed for 226 yards against the Notre Dame defense. Though it did save the touchdown glory for its quarterback.

Stepfan Taylor rushed for 149 yards for the Cardinal on 20 carries, while Coby Fleener caught 4 passes for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns. Michael Floyd had 8 receptions for 92 yards and a score to lead the Irish on offense.

WHY STANFORD WON. Notre Dame got off to a slow start in this one, falling into a hole early and there was just no way the Irish could climb out of it. The Stanford offense is just too balanced to be able to stop it consistently, and the Irish didn't really have the speed or playmakers they needed on offense to exploit the Stanford defense.

WHEN STANFORD WON. The Cardinal let Notre Dame hang around for a while in this contest, as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never buried the Irish completely. However, when Notre Dame had two successive drives while 21-7 end in Stanford territory without scoring any points and Luck then hit Fleener for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 28-7 it was the final nail in the coffin everyone had been waiting for.

WHAT STANFORD WON. With Alabama winning in such convincing fashion against Auburn earlier on Saturday and Stanford not having another game to play, the odds aren't in its favor, but with this win, the chances of going to New Orleans to play for the BCS title are still alive. Which is probably the best Stanford can hope for right now, though if nothing else, it's almost assured of a BCS bowl game at this point. Possibly the Fiesta Bowl to face Oklahoma State.

WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. Notre Dame will never be able to claim a win against Andrew Luck, as he became the third quarterback in history to beat the Irish three times in his career. Still, there may be some good news to emerge for the Irish in all this as Andrew Hendrix took over for Tommy Rees on Saturday night, and he appears to be the quarterback of the future in South Bend. In fact, I'd be surprised if he wasn't starting for Notre Dame when they finish the year in a bowl game.
Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:30 pm

QUICK HITS: Florida State 21, Florida 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

FLORIDA STATE WON: It wasn't a game to remind anyone of this rivalry's '90s heyday -- heck, it wasn't a game to remind anyone of anything but, say, their bouts with influenza -- but after shutting out the Gators for the game's first 56 minutes and winning their second straight in the series, the Seminoles will take it. Jimbo Fisher's offense was held to a miserable 100 total yards, but three critical Florida interceptions -- the first two by John Brantley, the third by Jacoby Brissett -- led directly to all three Seminole touchdowns. Terrance Parks collected the game-sealing pick-six off Brissett for FSU.

WHY FLORIDA STATE WON: As that opening paragraph made clear, nothing the 'Nole offense did, other than seize on their defense-fueled opportunities; after following up the first Brantley interception with a 20-yard touchdown drive on their second possession, their longest drive the remainder of the night (out of 12 tries) covered all of 17 yards.

But as horrible as the Seminole offense was, that's how well the Seminole defense played ... and how much help they got from the Gator offense. Brantley and Brissett finished the game having hit 13-of-28 for 4.6 yards an attempt and four interceptions. Two of those belonged to the dynamic Greg Reid, but a nod is also due the dominant 'Nole defensive line. No play maybe defined this game like the Gators' attempted conversion of 4th-and-1 at the FSU 15 in the second quarter, on which Florida gave the ball to short-yardage specialist Trey Burton. Burton tried the middle of the line, found nothing, attempted to get outside, cut back ... and on a play which needed only a one-yard gain, lost 14 yards. Credit to the 'Noles for the stuff, but it was also that kind of night for Charlie Weis's offense.

WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON: Even down 14-0, even with only 14 minutes remaining, and even without Brantley, Florida could dream of a comeback until Parks picked off Brissett and took it 29 yards to the house. At 21-0 and less than a quarter remaining, the Gators were barbecue.

WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON: their eighth game, but more importantly, a second straight in-state sweep of Miami and Florida. This has still been a disappointing season for a team that started the season with national title hopes, but Fisher's not going to face too much heat as long as keeps owning FSU's biggest rivals.

WHAT FLORIDA LOST: The Gators will still go bowling at 6-6, but after this loss they finish the year without a win over a winning team, their greatest triumph a five-point home win over Vanderbilt. It's going to be a long road back to crystal footballs for Will Muschamp and Co.

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