Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:02 pm
Posted by Eye On College Football
On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. With Oklahoma and Wisconsin falling from the ranks of the unbeatens, the list of national championship contenders has already begun to dwindle.
You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.
1. LSU : The Synthetic Three were not necessary for LSU to take care of business in the Battle of the Tigers on Saturday. The easy 45-10 defeat of the defending champions highlighted LSU's depth, and Les Miles' ability to circle the wagons in the midst of controversy. The suspended players are expected to return for THE GAME, which we now know will be under the lights. - Chip Patterson
2. Alabama: After crushing Tennessee with a 31-0 second-half run, the Tide are one win away from ascending to the top spot in the BCS rankings and becoming overwhelming favorites to play for their second national title in three seasons. Too bad for them that win has to come against LSU--even if it's so good for those of us who'll get to sit back and watch - Jerry Hinnen
3. Oklahoma State: Yes, Oklahoma State was already ranked first by the computers last week, but now the Cowboys are the undisputed darlings of the Big 12 with Oklahoma going down to Texas Tech. If OSU can run the table (hardly a given, but hardly out of the question), with this ranking, it's got the inside track to a BCS Championship Berth. - Adam Jacobi
4. Boise State: The bad news: Stanford and Clemson look more likely than ever to eventually leapfrog the Broncos. The good news: no one in Boise's all that worried at this point, not with two gigantic hurdles to the national title game cleared thanks to Texas Tech and Michigan State. And the Cardinal, Tigers, and Cowboys all have their toughest games still ahead of them. -JH
5. Clemson: The scariest thing about the Tigers' offense right now is the depth they highlighted in the 59-38 win over North Carolina. Twelve different skill position players got touches on Saturday, and Tajh Boyd delivered five touchdowns to five different players. But undefeated Clemson will need to survive an ACC title game (in addition to their remaining schedule) and get some help if they want to move into a position of national title contender. - CP
6. Stanford : Stanford finally got a game against a ranked opponent, and Andrew Luck and company blew Washington out of the water. The computers, not seeing the margin of victory in that game, remain unimpressed. But really, it's too early to accurately evaluate Stanford's BCS worthiness until after the Oregon game. That's the Cardinal's season, right there. - AJ
7. Oregon : The Ducks are getting healthy, and just at the right time too. The toughest part of their Pac-12 slate lies in the coming weeks, and with their only blemish being the loss to LSU, there are plenty of opportunities for Oregon to state their case as the nation's best one-loss team. Unfortunately there is likely no life after another loss for Chip Kelly's team, so every game is a must-win from here on out if they want to return to the title game. - CP
8. Kansas State: Say what you will about Kansas State's season so far, but KSU just keeps winning, and that's what pollsters and computers want to see most. A legion of difficult games remains on KSU's docket, but if Bill Snyder can guide his charges past both OSU and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, Kansas State is going to be rocketing up the list. - AJ
9. Oklahoma: Make no mistake for OU: while the Texas Tech loss was extremely damaging in a field full of undefeated teams, the dogfight has just begun. Games against Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma State all remain (as well as Iowa State, we suppose), and if the Sooners can run that table and get some help from the Upset Gods, they probably stand the best chance of anybody outside the SEC of being a one-loss title contender this year. - AJ
10. Arkansas: The Hogs a serious player in the national title chase and aren't likely to even make a BCS bowl this season with LSU and Alabama ahead of them in the SEC pecking order. But their visit to Baton Rouge on the final week of the regular season might represent the only serious threat to the SEC finishing the year without an undefeated team. - JH
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Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andre Ellington, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, BCS Formula, BCS Order, BCS Rankings, BCS Standings, BCS Standings, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, Chip Patterson, Chris Peterson, Clemson, College Football Order, College Football Rankings, College Football Standings, Dabo Swinney, Jerry Hinnen, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mike Gundy, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, SEC, Stanford, Tajh Boyd, Tom Fornelli
Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:57 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: The fans at Spartan Stadium
The scene in East Lansing Saturday night was Big Ten football at its best: a packed house under the lights, a national audience, and two highly-ranked programs duking it out for all 60 minutes. The end of the Wisconsin-Michigan State game was phenomenal beyond comparison, of course, but even without the miracle touchdown from Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol to finish the game off it was still probably the best of the year in the Big Ten. This time, there was no collapse, no widespread ineptitude, nothing but a mighty good football game.
So being that the fans at Spartan stadium were nice and loud (and probably, ahem, well-lubricated by the time of the late kickoff) and they got to see such a stellar effort by both sides, the myriad big plays by MSU -- including the blocked punt for a touchdown being celebrated above -- and the astonishing game-winning play, yes, they are all the winners here. I've personally been part of a home crowd who saw a game anywhere close to that once: Purdue at Iowa, 2002. That was an incredible, euphoric experience, and Saturday's MSU win hit those notes of amazement even better than the 2002 game did. Sparty fans, you don't need to be told this, but you just witnessed a game for the ages. Treasure it.
LOSER: Russell Wilson's Heisman campaign
For the first half of the season, Russell Wilson looked like a great quarterback making fools of bad defenses (Nebraska included). His yards per throw not only led the NCAA, it was a full yard ahead of the pace to set a new FBS record, at 12.16. Wilson was a legitimate Heisman contender, and hey, with what Wisconsin was doing to everybody on its schedule, why not?
Unfortunately, on Saturday, Wilson looked like a quarterback who hadn't played a good defense all year, playing a good defense. The end result was several ill-advised throws, two picks, an intentional grounding call for a safety, and easily the worst start of his brief Badger career: 14-21, 223 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs (Yes, that is his worst start. Like we said, bad defenses). Now, Wilson did engineer four touchdown drives, so it's not as if he was beaten into submission all night, but the offense completely fell apart when Montee Bell was on the sidelines, leading one to wonder if the key to keeping the Badger offense rolling has never actually been Wilson to begin with.
WINNER: Keith Nichol
Keith Nichol, seen at right with a very good reason to smile, hasn't had very many opportunities to be a hero in his college career, though it seemed at the start that he'd have chances at every turn; he was originally recruited by Bob Stoops to be a quarterback for Oklahoma, and he only went to MSU because of the emergence of one Sam Bradford down there. Once Nichol transferred to Michigan State, he split time in a QB platoon with Kirk Cousins at the beginning of 2009 before Cousins was named the full-time starter.
Now, there are plenty of quarterbacks who would have simply transferred to an FCS school in search of immediate playing time at that point, and nobody would have begrudged Nichol if that was the path he had chosen. Instead, a spate of WR suspensions going into the 2009 Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech prompted Nichol to switch to wideout, and while he hasn't set the world on fire there, he has at least remained a productive 4th option for Cousins -- and a loyal teammate to the rest of the program. It takes a lot of maturity to catch passes from the guy who beat you out for a starting role at QB, and if that doesn't sound true, try beign forced into a different job at work and taking orders from the person who took the job you wanted. Right. Not fun.
So, seeing Nichol go through the first 59 minutes and 59 seconds of the game without a catch, only to become the hero on the last play like that? That's not only a joy, it's a testament to program stability. Does a hypothetical freshman backup wideout in Nichol's stead know to be in that position to look for a deflection? Does that hypothetical WR also have the will to push the ball across the plane against multiple tacklers? Neither is a given, but we do know the answer is yes for Nichol. The phrase "couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy" is trite to the point that it's usually used sarcastically, but it absolutely applies here.
LOSER: Ron Zook, again
Forget the 21-14 final score of the Illinois-Purdue game, please, because it paints a very inaccurate picture of how close the contest really was. The Boilermakers ran out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, and Illinois never touched the ball again after bringing the game to 21-14. Despite the large lead Purdue rang up in the win, we'll refrain from saying the game "didn't feel like an upset," because it absolutely did; Illinois had scoring chances but blew them, while Caleb TerBush and the rest of the Purdue offense just flailed ineffectually in the second half and got a win to show for it anyway.
Illinois should not have been so mentally flat coming into the game, though, especially coming right off a loss to Ohio State (who, like Michigan, was off this week) where the Illini handed the anemic OSU offense scoring chances in the second half time and time again. The mental errors need to be corrected coming off a game like that, not magnified. That is on Ron Zook and his coaching staff, 100%. And so even with Illinois at 6-2, it's that "2" that looms larger at this point in the season, and that threatens to balloon in a hurry if Zook doesn't get the team back on track. Otherwise, there's really no telling how much more patience the Illinois brass will have for him.
WINNER: Marvin McNutt
Coming into this week's action against Indiana, Iowa WR Marvin McNutt just needed one TD to break the all-time Hawkeye receiving touchdown record of 21 that he shared with Tim Dwight and Danan Hughes. McNutt got that touchdown on Saturday. Then he got two more. In the first half. In related news, the Hawkeyes-Hoosiers game was not very close.
McNutt now has 41 catches for 757 yards and eight TDs in seven games thus far, all of which lead the team by substantial margins. If he keeps that pace up for the rest of the year, he would shatter Iowa single-season receiving records in both yardage and scoring -- and he would also set Iowa career marks in receptions and receiving yardage to go with his touchdown mark. So keep your eyes on No. 7, Iowa fans; he's probably the best wide receiver in school history.
It would be inappropriate to lay the struggles of Northwestern at the feet of Dan Persa, since he's hardly the worst performer on the Wildcats; for one, Persa isn't responsible for the defense, which currently gives up about 250 yards of passing per game and can't crack the top 100 in FBS in pass efficiency defense.
That said, though, Persa is at least the most visible of the Wildcats, and is so by the direct actions of an athletic department that hyped him as "PersaStrong," even as he (understandably) struggled to recover from a severe Achilles injury. And the fact is, Persa's just not at the level he played at last season. His mobility is hampered to the point that he doesn't run designed rushes, and he doesn't have the same timing down with his receivers that he did last year. He also doesn't seem entirely recovered from that injury, though he's at least at the point in the process where it's going to take play on the field to get back to the "100%" of 2010 and not more time with team doctors.
All in all, though, Persa's barely even beating out Kain Colter for the starting QB role, and while we expect Persa to at least continue that mastery of the starting lineup, the fact that Colter's still getting snaps there every week demonstrates that even the Northwestern coaches don't fully trust Dan Persa's leg yet. And given that, it seems more than a little silly that he was the focus of a Heisman campaign coming into the season, doesn't it?
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Caleb TerBush, Dan Persa, Danan Hughes, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kain Colter, Keith Nichol, Kirk Cousins, Marvin McNutt, Michigan State, Montee Ball, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, Texas Tech, Tim Dwight, Week 8, What I Learned, Winners and Losers, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:47 am
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:45 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: That small town in western Texas known as Lubbock.
It was quite the week in Lubbock. It all started with a sandstorm that blocked out the sun, and ended with a lightning delay in Norman that caused Tech fans to stay up rather late to watch their Red Raiders. Though something tells me the fact that they were able to see Texas Tech knock off Oklahoma helped clear the sand from their eyes and made everything worth it.
LOSER: Oklahoma's title hopes
Any chance that Oklahoma had to finish its season in New Orleans went on the window on Saturday night. Yes, the end of its 39-game home-winning streak has to sting a bit, but not as much as the title hopes. The good news for Bob Stoops and Oklahoma is that the Sooners can still win the Big 12, though I doubt that is going to help ease the pain from this loss over the next few days.
WINNER: Seth Doege
Seth Doege is just another in a long line of Texas Tech quarterbacks to have success in Lubbock, but I have a feeling most people didn't know his name before tonight, or how to pronounce it (it's pronounced "day-gee"). Well, they'll know it now as Doege threw for 441 yards and 4 touchdowns against an Oklahoma defense that came into the game allowing only 201 passing yards a game, and had only allowed 5 passing touchdowns all season. Not to mention that Doege led a Raider offense to 41 points and Oklahoma had only been giving up 15 points per game this season.
LOSER: Michael Hunnicutt
Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma kicker Michael Hunnicutt does not deserve the blame in this Oklahoma loss. The Sooners had plenty of other problems on offense and defense, but most people will probably remember Hunnicutt's 28-yard field goal attempt in the final minutes that bounced off the right upright. In a three-point loss, that's going to stick and make Hunnicutt an easy scapegoat.
WINNERS: Kansas State and Oklahoma State
Nobody benefits more from Oklahoma's loss than both Kansas State and Oklahoma State. They are now the only two teams in the Big 12 that are still unbeaten on the season, though both also have to face Oklahoma and each other before the season is over. Kansas State gets Oklahoma in Manhattan next weekend, and considering Saturday's loss, you can bet that the Sooners will have something to prove in that contest.
LOSER: Hubert Anyiam
Oklahoma State may have beaten Missouri on Saturday but it lost one of its playmakers in the process. Wide receiver Hubert Anyiam broke his foot making a catch in the first half and his season is over. Anyiam had surgery on the foot before the season started, and was third on the Cowboys in receiving this season with 27 catches for 370 yards and 3 touchdowns. There were more problems for Cowboys receivers on Saturday as well, as Justin Blackmon sat out the entire second half with "concussion like" symptoms, though Mike Gundy expects Blackmon to play against Baylor next week.
WINNER: The Texas A&M secondary
It's been much maligned just about all year, but the Texas A&M secondary had a very strong performance on Saturday in Ames. Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett combined to complete only 16 of 40 passes for 180 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Making the feat more impressive was the fact that A&M didn't have Coryell Judie on Saturday, though depending on who you ask, that may have been a reason why the unit fared better. I don't quite see things that way, though.
LOSER: Turner Gill's job stability
Fair or not, the calls for Gill's head are only going to grow louder following Saturday's loss. Nobody at Kansas was expecting Gill to completely turn around the program in two years, but when you consider that the Jayhawks have now been outscored 128-28 in two contests against the rival Kansas State Wildcats, Kansas fans are going to be angry. The good news for Gill is that basketball season starts soon, so hopefully the basketball team can divert the attention of Kansas fans away from failures on the football field.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:45 am
Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:42 am
Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:48 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In this edition of the Free Bruce Podcast, CBSSports.com senior writer Bruce Feldman sits down with our Bryan Fischer to talk about some of college football's most pressing topics at midseason: how Oregon shrugs off injury after injury, Stanford's domination, Jacory Harris's stunning improvement, Trent Richardson's jaw-dropping Ole Miss performance, and more.
And all of that is just prelude to this week's podcast guest: Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who offers his insight into conference realignment and what the Big 12's future will hold, how you go about hiring a Bob Stoops, and what unique challenges lie ahead for a team ranked No. 1 in the country.
To listen, either click below, download the mp3, or open the podcast's popout player by clicking here.
Make sure you don't miss the next edition of the Free Bruce Podcast--subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by clicking here for the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast page.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:20 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
We've reached the midway point of the college football season, and we can't think of a better time to hand out some mid-season awards. I mean, giving out mid-season awards two-thirds of the way through the season would be pretty stupid, right?
So taking a look at what has been a pretty good season for the Big 12 as a whole so far this season -- save for Kansas -- it wasn't that easy to come up with people to give these awards to. Plenty of players, coaches and teams all deserved consideration, and I realize plenty of people will disagree. So feel free to leave your choices in the comments.
Offensive Player Of The Year: Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor. There are so many good offensive players in this conference, but from my perspective, there is nobody whom I enjoy watching more every Saturday than Robert Griffin. He has track speed, but unlike a lot of quarterbacks in college who can run, Griffin prefers throwing the ball and he has one of the most accurate arms I've ever seen. Which is why he's completed 78% of his passes in 2011 for 1,950 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He trails only Russell Wilson with an efficiency rating of 205.7, and he's rushed for another 295 yards and another 2 scores. The man can do it all. Also considered: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State; Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma; Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Defensive Player Of The Year: Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M. This wasn't the easiest of decisions, but after weighing a few options like Tony Jefferson and Arthur Brown, I went with Porter. Texas A&M's secondary may not be having the best season, but it isn't because Porter isn't doing his best to help out. The linebacker has 38 tackles this season, 9 1/2 for loss, and leads the entire Big 12 with 7 1/2 sacks. Also considered: Arthur Brown, Kansas State; Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma, Jake Knott, Iowa State
Coach of the Year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State. Okay, so this one was easy. Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy are doing fantastic jobs with their teams, but that doesn't come as much of a surprise. Now, Kansas State being 6-0 and being ranked eleventh in the initial BCS rankings? That was not expected, but maybe it should have been. After all, Bill Snyder has pulled this off in Manhattan before. Also considered: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Surprise: Kansas State. Obviously this is Kansas State. As I said above, the Wildcats are 6-0 and a serious contender in the Big 12. Before the season started, most pundits had Kansas State pegged to finish somewhere around sixth or seventh. Heck, I even picked them as my sleeper team before the season began, and even that just meant fifth place. Also considered: Nobody
Disappointment: Missouri. I thought about putting Texas A&M here, but the more I thought about it, Missouri is more disappointing to me than the Aggies. I didn't think Mizzou would compete for a Big 12 title this season after having to replace Blaine Gabbert, but I didn't expect the offense to look so anemic under James Franklin either. The good news is the Tigers and Franklin looked very good against Iowa State last week, and hopefully that trend will continue. Also considered: Texas A&M, Kansas
Game Of The Year (So Far): Oklahoma State at Texas A&M. We all knew that Oklahoma was going to contend for a Big 12 title coming into the season, the bigger question was which team would challenge them? Well, this game would give us the early indicator, and Oklahoma State came back from a 17-point deficit on the road in College Station and let the Big 12 know that it's a team that came to play in 2011. Also considered: Arkansas at Texas A&M, TCU at Baylor
Game Of The Year (To Come): Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. It's called Bedlam for a reason, people. As if the rivalry between these two schools didn't mean enough, there's a chance that when Oklahoma comes to Stillwater on December 3rd, not could these teams be undefeated and playing for a Big 12 title, but for a berth in the BCS title game as well. There's a long way to go before then, but I'd love to see it happen. Also considered: Oklahoma at Kansas State, Texas A&M at Oklahoma
Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma. Kansas State and Texas A&M will have something to say about it before it's over, but I think that this conference race will come down to the two schools from Oklahoma. So when I compare the two teams, I see two very strong offenses, but I only see one strong defense. Because of that, I have to go with the Sooners at this point, but I'm far from certain here. Also considered: Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas A&M
Tags: Arthur Brown, Baylor, Big 12, Big 12 Midseason Awards, Big 12 Midseason Report, Bill Snyder, Blaine Gabbert, Bob Stoops, Brandon Weeden, Iowa State, Jake Knott, James Franklin, Kansas, Kansas State, Midseason Awards, Midseason Report, Midseason Reports, Mike Gundy, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Ryan Broyles, Ryan Tannehill, Sean Porter, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tony Jefferson