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Tag:Brandon Weeden
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:31 pm
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 11



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: Collin Klein's fantasy owners

I know that college fantasy football isn't as popular as the NFL version, but if you do play it and you don't have Collin Klein on your team, then you did something wrong earlier this season. Klein had another amazing game on Saturday as Kansas State beat Texas A&M 53-50 in four overtimes.

What was truly amazing, however, was how dominant Klein was. Kansas State scored 7 touchdowns in the game, 6 of which came courtesy of Klein as he ran for 5 (increasing his season total to 24 rushing touchdowns) and threw for another. The other Kansas State touchdown came when Klein fumbled at the goal line while going in, but luckily receiver Tramaine Thompson jumped on the loose ball.

Even more insane than the scoring? Kansas State had 411 yards of total offense in the game. Klein was responsible for 384 of those yards, or 93% of the Kansas State output.

LOSER: Mike Sherman's job stability

I've mentioned it here before in recent weeks, but Mike Sherman can't exactly be feeling too comfortable in College Station these days. Texas A&M came into the season as a top-ten pick in both polls, and now ten games into the season the Aggies find themselves at 5-5 on the year and 3-4 in the Big 12. When you're as talented a team as Texas A&M is and you keep making the same mistakes over and over -- though there was no second-half disappearing act this week, but A&M did blow a 10-point lead in the closing minutes -- then at some point the blame has to fall squarely on the coaching staff.

It's very possible that with the season's final two games, and hopefully a bowl game, Sherman is coaching to keep his job with Texas A&M. Either that or the Aggies will be moving on to the SEC and bringing in a new staff to go with its new conference.

WINNER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman Campaign

On Saturday we saw both Andrew Luck's Stanford team fall to Oregon, and Kellen Moore's Boise State team fall to TCU. You know what that means? That means Brandon Weeden is going to start climbing on a lot of Heisman ballots. Not that he really needed Luck and Moore to fall to start gaining the attention, as after Saturday's 66-6 romp over Texas Tech, Weeden now has 3,635 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also has two more games to add to those numbers, and while they're not as incredible as Case Keenum's numbers, Weeden's doing it against the Big 12 for the #2 team in the country.

LOSER: Texas Tech

I don't even know what to say at this point. I remember seeing Texas Tech beat Oklahoma earlier this season, I know it happened, I just can't fathom how it happened at this point. How does a team that played so well on that night go into such a devastating tailspin so fast?

It's not that Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma State, it's that Texas Tech never even had a prayer. This looks like a team that just doesn't care about anything anymore. It already won its Super Bowl, and now it's just trying to get through the year.

WINNER: This guy



Kudos to you, Texas Tech fan. Even during the worst of times, you do not abandon the GUNS UP attitude. Many of your fellow fans had gone home long before you fired your gun into the air. If only it hadn't been filled with blanks of despair.

LOSER: Kansas fans

You poor souls. You'd given up on your team this season already, and with basketball season now officially underway, you were ready to turn your backs to football and never look back. But then something strange happened.

Kansas not only took a lead against Baylor, but it held it. It even expanded on it. Suddenly, it's the fourth quarter and your Jayhawks are up 24-3 on Baylor! This team is going to reward you! They're going to thank you for sticking with them through all this pain!

And then suddenly Baylor scores 21 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then beat you 31-30 when Turner Gill decided to go for two but a terrible fade into double coverage fell incomplete.

The lesson here is never care, Kansas fan. Never. Care.

WINNER: Gary Pinkel's Big 12 Check List

With a 17-5 win over Texas on Saturday, Missouri beat Texas for the first time under head coach Gary Pinkel, and in the last time the two schools will meet as conference opponents. It was also the first time Missouri had beaten Texas in the last six meetings of the team, and only the second time in the last seventeen. Pinkel has now beaten every team in the Big 12 at least once, and what was looking like a disappointing season could be on pace for a respectable 7-5 campaign, including two wins over ranked teams.

Of course, it wasn't all good news for Missouri, and I'll get to that next.

LOSER: The knees of some of the Big 12's best

These are players that the Big 12 has lost in the last two weeks due to knee injuries: Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Texas A&M's Christine Michael and on Saturday Missouri's Henry Josey and Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.

We know Broyles and Michael are done for the year, and we learned on Saturday night that Josey, the conference's leading rusher, is also done for the year with a myriad of injuries to his left knee. There's been no official word on the status of Whittaker, but given how the injury looked and that he finished the game in street clothes and crutches on the sideline, I'm not expecting good news for Fozzy either.

Image of the Texas Tech fan courtesy of Mocksession
Posted on: November 12, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 3:50 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma State 66 Texas Tech 6

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Actually, Oklahoma State didn't win as much as it destroyed. The Cowboys offense put on another clinic on Saturday afternoon, as it racked up 637 yards of total offense and seemingly scored at will against a Texas Tech team in a total freefall since upsetting Oklahoma three weeks ago. Brandon Weeden threw for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns on the day, and he only had 6 incompletions. Joseph Randle only rushed for 83 yards on the day, but he did score 3 touchdowns and Justin Blackmon had 103 yards with 2 touchdowns on the day.

WHY OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Because it's offense is seemingly unstoppable right now, and its defense didn't allow Texas Tech to do anything. Those 6 points that Texas Tech got? Those came on a fumble return touchdown, which was followed by a missed extra point from the Raiders.

WHEN OKLAHOMA STATE WON. I joked on Twitter that this game was over when Texas Tech started the game by going three-and-out and punting, but it turns out it was actually true. Though I suppose it wasn't actually official until Weeden hit Josh Stewart on a 27-yard touchdown to make it 21-0 in the first quarter.

WHAT OKLAHOMA STATE WON. Well, this one had to feel good for the Oklahoma State defense. After having a tough night against Kansas State last week, the Cowboys defense came out Saturday and held Texas Tech to 270 yards of total offense and forced another 3 turnovers. As for the entire team, this win keeps Oklahoma State on its path toward the Big 12 title and BCS championship game.

WHAT TEXAS TECH LOST. I'm not sure how much confidence Texas Tech still had in itself coming into this game after the way they'd been beaten the last two weeks, but whatever was left has to be gone now. This is a team that has now been outscored 190-43 since holding a 31-7 lead over Oklahoma in the third quarter of that game. Things have fallen apart quickly in Lubbock.

THAT WAS CRAZY. As for total game time, Oklahoma State averaged 1.1 points per minute played in this game on Saturday. In time of possession terms? That number increased to 2 points for every minute it had the ball. That's efficient offense.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS TECH WILL WIN IF: It can rediscover its offense. Since holding a 31-7 lead on Oklahoma the Texas Tech offense has only scored 34 points and its opponents have scored 127. That's not going to work, especially against an offense like Oklahoma State's. It's hard to think that a defense that has allowed 34.2 points and 453.7 yards per game is suddenly going to figure things out and shut down the Cowboys. It's not going to happen, so if Texas Tech wants to win this game, it's just going to have to outscore Oklahoma State. Not an easy feat, but Kansas State nearly pulled it off on Saturday. In order for that to happen then Seth Doege and the offense will have to take care of the ball. This Oklahoma State defense forces more turnovers than anybody in the country, and Texas Tech can't afford to forfeit possessions in this game if it is going to have a chance.

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: Oklahoma State just has to keep doing what it's been doing all season, though a better defensive effort than what we saw on Saturday against Kansas State would help. Oklahoma State's been giving up points all season, but against Kansas State it got pushed around more than it had all season. The good news for the Cowboys is that Collin Klein isn't playing for Texas Tech this weekend. So if its defense can keep forcing turnovers and Brandon Weeden keeps playing like he has been, then this game shouldn't present much of a problem.

X-FACTOR: Adam James. Yes, that Adam James. He may be most known for who his father is and everything that led to the dismissal of Mike Leach at Texas Tech, but he's become a solid contributor to the Red Raiders offense the last few weeks. After not making a catch in the first four games of the season, James has 19 catches for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns in the last five games, and had 95 yards last week against Texas. Texas Tech is going to need all the weapons it can get on Saturday, and if James is able to give Doege another reliable target to move the ball downfield, it'll improve the Raiders' chances.
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 10




Posted by Bryan Fischer


Well then.

A little over halfway through Saturday's showdown in Tuscaloosa it became clear, this wasn't the game of the century it had been built up to be. While that superlatives will be saved for another big game down the road, what transpired at Bryant-Denny Stadium was something else: the slugfest of the century.

For some, the defense being played was marvelous. Morris Claiborne solidified himself as one of the top corners in the country with an interception and Eric Reid showed what it takes to win a game of this magnitude by wrestling for, and eventually coming down with, a pick near the goal line after the Tide tried a trick play to tight end Michael Williams.

The defense was so good on both sides that the MVP in a losing effort for Alabama had to be the offensive line, which was great at handling the pressure from LSU's front for four quarters - they seemed to fall apart a little in overtime.

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, a longtime assistant in the SEC, said after the game that this was "the most physical, hard-fought game he's ever been involved with."

With a fifth of the televisions in use on Saturday tuned to CBS for the game, I was quite surprised at how many lambasted the game afterward. Sure, there was a lack of crossing the goal line and way too many field goals for most people but that was the result of the defenses being so good. Both teams were able to move the ball, the defenses just tightened once they moved closer to the red zone.

As my colleague Tom Fornelli said to me, this game was all about deciding what fans liked college football and what fans just like touchdowns. Some compared it to a great pitchers duel in baseball but that would be unfair. The beauty of playing defense might have been lost by some but the battles in the trenches and in the secondary said Saturday was a masterpiece.

The Crimson Tide finished with 295 yards, the Tigers ended up winning with just 239. Alabama came into the game 23rd in the country in offense at 457 yards/game and had the best running back in the country in Trent Richardson. Despite not moving the ball well on offense, LSU came in 15th in scoring offense. That's just how good both teams were on the side of the ball - defense - that ultimately decided the game.

It would be interesting to see how much Miles' strategy would have changed had Alabama hit just one of their three missed field goals. Would we have seen one of his famous trick plays? I wouldn't exactly say 'The Hat' Les Miles out-coached Nick Saban since both adjusted conservatively but there's no question that Miles made decisions more inline with how the game was going, such as running Jordan Jefferson more than what the game plan likely called for.

Despite all the 'what ifs' that will be dissected over the coming days (and weeks and months and years), we're left with just one fact: LSU was better than Alabama Saturday night. If they were to play again for the BCS championship, what happened between the two teams would invalidate the very crutch - every week is a playoff - BCS supporters use to support their cartel of a system. If we just saw a playoff game, the Tide need to be thinking about a trip to a bowl game and not the title game.

In post game interviews, Miles was inviting of a rematch - perhaps knowing that knocking off Saban and the Tide another time on their way to picking of the crystal football would mean this LSU team could be considered among the greatest to play the game. The players too, were living in the moment and inviting LSU-Alabama II in New Orleans.

"That game should've been on pay-per-view," Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery said. "I think the world wants a rematch, honestly. It would be lovely to play such a great team out there again."

My colleague Bruce Feldman, who was in Tuscaloosa, discussed the rematch issue in The Big Picture, as did BCS guru Jerry Palm.

As we sit here on week 10 trying to digest what happened on Saturday, it good to lay down what we do know in the race for the national title.

1. There is A LOT of football remaining. LSU plays a top 10 team in Arkansas to end the season as well as the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Alabama has the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Oklahoma State ends with Bedlam against Oklahoma. Stanford plays Oregon and Boise State takes on TCU this week. We don't have a great system in the BCS but it was it is so "the race" is going to chance course several times between now and mid-December.

2. If Stanford beats Oregon, they'll move past Alabama in the BCS standings. If Oklahoma State wins out, they'll play in the championship game. Boise State needs help in droves.

3. Though Houston has moved as high as 11th in the rankings but are still a long shot at playing in a BCS bowl because Boise State is the highest ranked non-AQ school. It's doubtful the Bowls would pick the Cougars as an at-large team with fan bases such as Oklahoma likely qualifying.

4. The bowl tie-ins are ACC-Orange Bowl, Big Ten/Pac-12-Rose Bowl, Big 12-Fiesta Bowl, SEC-Sugar Bowl. The Bowl that loses the #1 team will have first pick of the replacements, followed by the bowl that loses the #2 team. The order after that is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange. There's a chance we could see some juicy match ups as a result (Oklahoma-Boise State rematch anyone?).

5. Want pure chaos? Arkansas beats LSU and Georgia pulls off an upset in Atlanta, forcing Alabama or LSU to miss a BCS game. Oregon beats Stanford, only to lose to USC and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State to leave just Boise State and Houston as the lone undefeated teams. It's all unlikely but stranger things have happened. It also might be the only chance the men from the blue turf have to play for a title in New Orleans.

6. The game of the century did not occur last Saturday in Tuscaloosa but it was still a fantastic regular season game. A rematch would devalue the game, forcing LSU to beat Alabama twice for a national title while the Tide only needs to win once (in New Orleans). If we could have best two out of three, that'd be great but we're stuck with our current predicament.  

Buckle up and get ready, it's going to a fun and bumpy road to New Orleans.

Stat of the week

To say the Big 12, and the state of Kansas in particular, is not very good at defense might be an understatement. To say they like offense in the state of Oklahoma, likewise, might be an understatement. Consider this: of the 10 best games rushing this season (net yards gained), three have come against a Big 12 team. Strip out non-BCS opponents and it becomes three of the top five, including Kansas giving up the most a game this season on the ground when Georgia Tech rushed for 604 yards. Of the top 10 passing games (net yards gained), four of the top 10 have come against a Big 12 defense, including four of the top five. Kansas and Kansas State find themselves on the two lists a grand total of five times, one reason why the Jayhawks are dead last in defense.

Thanks to playing the Oklahoma schools in back-to-back weeks, Kansas State has dropped from 29th in total defense to 78th. Half of the Big 12 is in the top 10 in the country in total offense and Texas Tech is 11th. Needless to say, it's not fun being a defensive coordinator in the conference.

Stats of the week

- Stanford remains perfect in the red zone this season, getting points out of all 52 trips. They've scored a touchdown all but 11 times and there's only one team that has been inside the 20 more often (Oklahoma State). LSU is second in red zone efficiency, scoring on 41 of 42 trips. The Cardinal are also third in the country in red zone defense, allowing a score 16 times out of 24 attempts.

- Oklahoma is tied with Stanford for fewest sacks given up with just four all year. Of course, the Sooners have dropped back 128 more times.

- The top three active career leaders for rushing touchdowns are all juniors.  Temple's Bernard Pierce has 45, Oregon's LaMichael James has 44 and Wisconsin's Montee Ball has 43. The NCAA FBS record is 73.

- Both Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and Idaho kicker Trey Farquhar hit 55-yard field goals right before halftime this week, which tie for the second longest of the season.

- Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning's pass to Torieal Gibson resulted in a 94 yard touchdown against Eastern Michigan, the longest pass play of the year. There have been four runs longer than that this season.

- Matt Barkley passed for a school-record six touchdowns in his game against Colorado on Friday. He also moved into 10th on the FBS active career list for touchdowns thrown with 69.

- Alabama still has yet to trail this season in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th quarter. LSU has trailed at the end of just two quarters all year.

- Since building a 31-7 lead on Oklahoma in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech has been outscored 124-37.

- This was the first time Texas has rushed for five touchdowns in back-to-back games since 2005.

- Weird quirk from Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Washington's tight ends had three catches for -5 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.

Yard-by-yard

- It didn't have the hype but the most thrilling game Saturday night was in Stillwater. Brandon Weeden threw a school-record 502 yards and had an answer for every late Kansas State score to escape with a 52-45 win. The defense, who seems to take shots from just about everybody in the game and outside it, held on with a goal line stand to prevent the tying score. Kansas State has taken some lumps in back-to-back weeks by stopping three straight passes with seconds left on the clock. It will get overshadowed given the loss but you have to be impressed with the play of KSU quarterback Collin Klein this season. He's been solid in the passing game and is as tough of a runner as you'll find at the position.  

- Hats off to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA for fighting and clawing their way (as some Bruins said) to an upset of Arizona State at the Rose Bowl to, gasp, control their own fate in the Pac-12 South. Thanks to a "here's what we're made of" five minute drive to score a go ahead touchdown, it almost looked like the Bruins defense were going to allow the Sun Devils to get a decent field goal shot off. Alex Garoutte's 46-yarder fell short though and an exuberant sideline of powder blues jumped for joy. A lot of people have counted Neuheisel out, especially after the debacle at Arizona, but he still put his team in a position to win and they finally seized it. The loss was the latest in a line of head scratchers for Dennis Erickson, who seems to lose this type of game every year at ASU. Without a decent South team this year, it's looking very much like a two team league.

- There was another top 10 match up in the SEC that seemed to be the third wheel Saturday night as Arkansas beat South Carolina 44-28. It was surprising to see the Razorbacks put together a solid first half, something they really hadn't done against a decent opponent this season, before pulling away late thanks in part to special teams and  defense. South Carolina had just 49 yards heading into the locker room but Connor Shaw led a late comeback in the third quarter until being knocked out with a concussion. The Gamecocks have a good defense and for Bobby Petrino's squad to hang 44 on them is certainly a statement that you can't forget about the Hogs at the end of the season when they play LSU.

- After dropping a game to lowly Minnesota, hardly anybody but the most hopeful Hawkeye faithful gave Iowa a chance against Michigan. Yet the defense was vintage, bottling up Denard Robinson all day, and Marcus Coker looked like a man on a mission while rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines had a chance to force overtime from the 3-yard line but four straight passes couldn't be snagged and Iowa ran off the field in celebration. "They showed a lot of heart," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. Given who they lost to the previous week, it's difficult to tell what Iowa football is this season outside of being a big of Jekyll and Hyde. For Brady Hoke and Michigan, it appears the tougher schedule and move to a pro-style offense is finally catching up. The difference between passing in Rich Rodriguez' system and passing in Al Borges' cannot be understated. Robinson has been conditioned with certain timing for years and now is being asked to change it to match the current system. If you're looking for the reason why the junior is having problems (53% passing, 13-12 TD-INT ratio this season), look no further than a round (quarterback) being in a square hole (system).

- Bryan Harsin came into Austin with designs of transforming Texas' offense and it appears he is doing so, surprisingly, on the ground. In the past two seasons the Longhorns had just five games where they rushed for more than 200 yards; Saturday's win over Texas Tech was the fifth time they topped the mark this season. In a 52-20 win, Texas' 439 yards rushing against Texas Tech were the 4th-most against a BCS opponent this season. They've racked up 880 yards on the ground the past two games against sub-par defenses but it will be interesting to see if they can keep running the ball consistently the rest of the season. Given their youth on both sides of the ball - they've play 18 true freshmen - it's a good bet that they'll try and keep it up. Either way, there's a new coordinator and a new way of doing business on the 40 acres.

- Charlie Strong has one of the youngest teams in the Big East but they're rounding into form and it paid off with a huge upset of West Virginia that was extra personal given that the school was largely seen to be invited by the Big 12 over Louisville. Frosh QB Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown and special teams came up huge with a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. It was a complete and satisfying victory for the Cardinals. "I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Strong. "We knew we had to play well. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win." After the win, Strong ended up crowd surfing among his players in the locker room and the team, taking an added jab at the loser, sang John Denver's "Country Roads."

- The upset of the week comes courtesy of an NU on NU crime. With designs of making it to Indianapolis for the title game, Nebraska was upset by Northwestern despite Dan Persa standing on the sidelines. The Wildcats have not been great this season but they just kept coming through on defense, hanging on 28-25 for their first top 10 win in some time. "A great program win for us," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "To come on the road and put together our most complete game of the year. ... Not perfect. Not a work of art. There are some things we can correct."

- Not sure anybody has raised his NFL stock more than USC quarterback Matt Barkley? He played well in his showdown against Andrew Luck and then followed it up with a school-record six touchdown passes against Colorado despite a few drops from his wide outs. No, the Buffs aren't that good but thanks in large part to the through and through California kid Barkley, USC is a solid top 20 team. The defense is still the link week but outside of a trip to Eugene, it's likely they'll win out - especially if they can get healthier. Colorado, meanwhile, is so bad they're a double-digit favorite at home to a 2-7 team that lost their head coach.

- Small story that went way under the radar Saturday but kudos for Paul Pasqualoni for knocking off Syracuse to give UConn their fifth straight victory in the series. It meant a little more for Pasqualoni than others, who was head coach of the Orange for 14 years before being fired after winning four Big East titles and nine bowl trips. The Huskies defense played a big part, forcing several turnovers and holding despite the offense's own issues. Despite much talent at all, Pasqualoni has kept hopes alive for another winning season in Storrs.

- Kellen Moore is now 46-2 as a starter, more wins than any other FBS quarterback and an amazing accomplishment for a guy that no one outside of Idaho would even think is a major college quarterback if he was walking down the street. The Broncos saw a few different looks they weren't expecting from UNLV and led by just seven at halftime before pulling away late in the 4th quarter. As it stands now, Moore has an impressive 128 touchdowns against just 24 interceptions.

- As good of a slate as this week was, it was definitely a week filled with MACtion. Tuesday's Toledo-Northern Illinois game was 7-on-7 in pads it seemed like, with NIU prevailing in an entertaining 63-60 win that included 1,121 total yards (and back-to-back kick returns by the Huskies' Tommylee Lewis (great name) to open the game). One of the most underrated players in the country, Toledo's Eric Page also caught five touchdowns and had to be screaming when coach Tim Beckham didn't call any of his timeouts as NIU drove for the game winning touchdown pass. Then there was Ohio's 35-31 win over Temple to take control of the MAC East after a touchdown to win with less than two minutes on the clock. Thursday's Miami of Ohio romp over Akron wasn't anything to write home about but Central Michigan missed a final play field goal from 28 yards out to allow Kent State to win on Friday. Finally, on Saturday, Steven Schott hit a 44-yard field goal to put Ball State ahead of Eastern Michigan 33-31 with seconds left on the clock. MACtion indeed.

- Remarkable stat from Bruce Feldman, Lamar Miller became Miami's first 1,000-yard back since 2002 (Willis McGahee), a stretch of five different offensive coordinators. Although the 5-4 Hurricanes has dealt with a lot on and off the field, you have to give credit to OC Jedd Fisch and Al Golden. Much maligned quarterback Jacory Harris has been playing as well as he has at any point in his career and probably better than that. The senior is remarkably sixth in the country in passing efficiency, right behind Andrew Luck, with an impressive 18-4 touchdown-interception ratio. Miami has been in every game they've played with the four losses coming by 22 points. Saturday's 49-14 thrashing of Duke put them one win away from bowl eligibility ahead of this week's rivalry game at Florida State.

- It's always fun to catch the late night WAC games involving Hawaii, after a long day of watching college football it always seems to be an interesting way to cap it off. Utah State managed to beat the Warriors 35-31 thanks to a last minute drive. Hilariously, one of the keys to the game that the third-rate announcers brought up at the end was the late Andy Rooney (to play, they said, 60 minutes). Can't make that up.

Tweet of the week

"So Fox Sports MW is electing to show California HS football instead of Kansas-Iowa State."

- Bill Connelly, writer for SB Nation and Football Outsiders.

Fisch's Finest

Note: Last week was the fourth in a row that my 10th ranked team lost (sorry Nebraska fans), perhaps that will give Georgia Tech some hope on Thursday at home.

1. LSU

2. Oklahoma State

3. Stanford

4. Alabama

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Arkansas

9. Clemson

10. Virginia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Senior writer Dennis Dodd and I will be in Palo Alto to catch the Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Stanford. Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will be between the hedges to catch Auburn at Georgia. Brett McMurphy will head to State College to see Nebraska at Penn State.

Leaning this way

TCU at Boise State

Before the season, people were circling this game as perhaps the Broncos toughest test. There was the added issue of the game being moved by the Mountain West from Ft. Worth to Boise as a parting gift for the Horned Frogs. At 7-2 with issues on both sides of the ball, TCU is solid this season but it's not the team we've seen the past couple of years. Boise State, meanwhile, has gotten off to some slow starts and will still need to take care of business. This could be closer than most people think but expect the home team to come out victoriously.

Auburn at Georgia

The Bulldogs put up an impressive 42 points in one quarter against the lowly New Mexico State Aggies but the competition will pick up a bit this week with Auburn rolling into town. Aaron Murray continues to come along at quarterback and Georgia should be at full strength after dealing with a few suspensions. It will be tough for Auburn to pull of the upset in this one as Georgia continues their march for Atlanta.

Oregon at Stanford

The Game of the Century, West of the Rockies Edition can be found in Palo Alto, with two top-six ranked teams squaring off. Stanford gave Oregon a scare last year before faltering in the second half and, given the injuries on both sides of the ball, it wouldn't be shocking to see the same thing happen again this year. The Ducks aren't quite as sharp as they were last season but they're capable of knocking off Andrew Luck and company.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Akron, Al Borges, Al Golden, Alabama, Alex Garoutte, Andrew Luck, Andy Rooney, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Ball State, Ball State, BCS, Bedlam, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big Ten, bill Connelly, Bob Condotta, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Caleb Sturgis, Central Michigan, Charlie Strong, Clemson, Collin Klein, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Eric Page, Eric Reid, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Iowa, Iron Bowl, Jacory Harris, Jedd Fisch, Jerry Palm, John Chavis, John Denver, Kansas, Kansas State, Keith Wenning, Kellen Moore, Kent State, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, Marcus Coker, Matt Barkley, Miami, Miami of Ohio, Michael Williams, Michigan, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Pasqualoni, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Sam Montgomery, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Schott, Sugar Bowl, Surveying the Field, Syracuse, TCU, Teddy Bridgewater, Temple, Texas, Texas Tech, Tim Beckham, Toledo, Tom Fornelli, Tommylee Lewis, Tony Barnhart, Torieal Gibson, Trent Richardson, Trey Farquhar, UCLA, UConn, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, West Virginia, Willis McGahee, Wisconsin
 
Posted on: November 6, 2011 1:13 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 1:26 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 10



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: Oklahoma State's BCS title dreams

This was here last week as well, but that doesn't change the fact that it's true. Though Kansas State gave Oklahoma State just about everything it could handle on Saturday night the Cowboys still emerged from the scorched earth and rumbling fault line that was Boone Pickens Stadium with a win. Now the Cowboys are 9-0 on the season and will move up in the BCS standings to the second spot after Alabama's loss to LSU.

So as long as Oklahoma State keeps winning -- and there are still three games to go, so nothing is guaranteed -- then it's going to end up in New Orleans. There is no Big 12 title game to get in the way, though a game against Oklahoma will serve as the Big 12 championship, but at least it's played in Stillwater and not Jerry World.

WINNER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman hopes

With Alabama losing that hurts Trent Richardson's chances because voters tend to vote for the best players on the best teams, and since Alabama has a loss now, they won't be considered one of the best teams. It's stupid, but it's reality. Now, Weeden likely won't be able to pass Andrew Luck without Stanford suffering a loss, but he's still the quarterback of the #2 team in the country. That alone is enough to get you consideration these days, let alone the fact that Weeden's now thrown for 3,212 yards this season and 26 touchdowns on one of the best offenses in the country.

LOSER: Ryan Broyles

To be clear, there has never been an injury suffered by any player that I've enjoyed. Every single one of them stinks, but Ryan Broyles' torn ACL on Saturday made me sadder than most. This is a kid that has not only been a great player during his career at Oklahoma, but someone who passed up on the chance to become a millionaire in the NFL last spring so he could return to Norman and play for a national title. Now his season is over and his draft stock is going to plummet. This world has never been fair, but sometimes it's just downright cruel.

LOSER: Preseason expectations

Before this season started Texas A&M was ranked 8th in the AP poll and 9th in the Coaches poll. Well, just in case you needed any more evidence to see why preseason polls are absolutely ridiculous since we're offering opinions on teams before seeing a single down played, just look at Texas A&M. After getting beat soundly by Oklahoma on Saturday the Aggies are now 5-4 and 3-3 in the Big 12 staring at a date in the Alamo or Sun Bowl. Considering that the school is moving to the SEC next year, those preseason expectations may also end up costing Mike Sherman his job.

WINNER: Smashmouth football in Austin

Why should Bryan Harsin even bother calling a pass at this point? Over the last two weeks he's seen his offense rush for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns. After scoring 6 rushing touchdowns against Texas Tech it's the first time the Longhorns have run for at least 5 scores in consecutive games since 2005. Making things even more impressive, the Longhorns didn't even have Malcolm Brown available on Saturday. The combination of Brown and Joe Bergeron over the next few seasons, with some David Ash mixed in, is going to keep defensive coordinators up at night.

LOSER: Justin Tucker

Who is Justin Tucker? I'm glad you asked. Justin Tucker is Texas' punter. He's only had to punt once the last two weeks. Though I suppose that could just as easily make him a winner. Plus, at least he's also the placekicker and gets to kick field goals from time to time. Just to keep his leg from falling asleep.

WINNER: Baylor's offensive virility

Yes Baylor was able to put up a lot of yards in its last two games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, but it still wasn't able to put a lot of points on the scoreboard in either matchup. That changed on Saturday night against Missouri when the Bears not only scored 42 points to beat Missouri 42-39, but also picked up a school record of 697 yards of total offense in the process. Robert Griffin was responsible for 470 of those yards and 4 touchdowns while Terrence Ganaway rushed for 186 yards on only 12 carries. 15.5 yards per carry is a pretty good clip.

LOSER: Texas Tech

What the hell has happened, Raiders? Two weeks ago you were ahead of Oklahoma 31-7 in the second half, preparing to shock the world. Since then you've been outscored 124-37. I mean, you lost to Iowa State 41-7 last week and Iowa State was only able to beat Kansas 13-10 on Saturday night. Kansas!

WINNER: Speaking of Iowa State...

Hey, so it wasn't pretty, but the Cyclones picked up a 13-10 win against Kansas on Saturday night. The win improved Paul Rhoads' team to 5-4 on the season, which means it's only one win shy of bowl eligibility. That's great news for the program. Unfortunately, here's the bad news: Iowa State's last three games are against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

LOSER: Kansas' chances of winning a Big 12 game in 2011

Listen, we all know Kansas is a bad football team. I'm not going to pile on the program even more, but the school's best chance of winning a Big 12 game this season was on Saturday night in Ames, and the Jayhawks fell short 13-10. Now the Jayhawks finish the year with Baylor, Texas A&M and Missouri. Three teams who aren't untouchable by any means, but I'm not liking Kansas' chances in any of them.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 12:04 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 12:04 am
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma State 52 Kansas State 45

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WON. They may have been playing the Game of the Century down in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, but the game being played in Stillwater wasn't half bad. Both Oklahoma State and Kansas State took turns taking the lead in the first half, and then just went back and forth in the second half until Oklahoma State's goalline stand in the final seconds sealed the deal. These two teams combined for 1,081 yards of total offense, 97 points and 11 touchdowns on the evening.

The quarterbacks were the story, though one did it with his arm and the other showcased his legs. Brandon Weeden threw for 501 yards and 4 touchdowns on the night, with Justin Blackmon pulling in 13 passes for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns. For Kansas State it was Collin Klein answering Weeden at every turn, rushing for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns while passing for 231 yards and a touchdown.

WHY OKLAHOMA STATE WON. The clock ran out. Had Kansas State another chance on fourth down in the final seconds, this game may have been going to overtime. I mean, this game was so back and forth that you can't really say that the Cowboys did anything but outscore the Wildcats, and that's as basic as it gets.

WHEN OKLAHOMA STATE WON. When Collin Klein's pass on third and goal with a second remaining on the clock fell to the back of the end zone harmlessly.

WHAT OKLAHOMA STATE WON. What didn't it win? It may have had the scare of a lifetime on Saturday night, but Oklahoma State is still undefeated and following LSU's 9-6 win over Alabama, guess who is going to be moving up to the #2 spot in the BCS standings on Sunday: Oklahoma State.

WHAT KANSAS STATE LOST. I don't think Kansas State lost as much as it gained in this contest. Let's be honest, after getting destroyed by Oklahoma in the second half last week, the natural reaction was to write off Kansas State's 7-0 start to the season as a fluke. A team taking advantage of its schedule. Well, after nearly knocking off Oklahoma State in Stillwater, I don't think we can consider this team a fluke anymore. It's a good team with an extremely good quarterback that's going to compete for a Big 12 title in the next few years.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Not that this game was ever a defensive struggle, but both teams combined for 26 points in the final 5:16 of the fourth quarter.
Posted on: November 3, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 10



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

As defined by Webster's, hubris means "exaggerated pride or self-confidence." Unfortunately, I didn't need to look that up because I'm already quite familiar with hubris, as is Woman. For you see, as human beings, we are prone to suffering from feelings and getting a bit too full of ourselves. Because of this hubris that both Woman and I experienced, we seem to have forgotten there was a third member of this competition.

The thoughtless, emotionless machine. Now, after a mediocre week from both Man and Woman, the Machine has made its move. The two-horse race now has a third member, and things should get interesting down the home stretch.

Colorado vs. USC (-22 1/2) - Friday, 9pm (All times Eastern)

Man - It's been hard to watch USC the last two weeks and not be very impressed with what the Trojans have been doing. Compare that to how Colorado has played all season, and I don't really care if it's at home and is getting over 3 touchdowns, I'm not relying on it. Pick: USC

Woman - "Hey, Tom, have you noticed while we're fighting each other, the zombie Machine is catching up fast? All I can say is, I'm Shane, you're Otis. As for the Pac-12 Loser Bowl, let's review the numbers. Colorado lost to Stanford 48-7.  Stanford needed triple OT to best USC. And the line starts to look smaller..." Pick: USC 

Machine - Does not really appreciate being called a zombie, but it agrees with Woman anyway. USC wins 42-13. Pick: USC

West Virginia (-14 1/2) vs. Louisville - Saturday, 12pm

Man - When it comes to the Big East your first option should always be to lean toward chaos, but from what I've seen from Louisville this season, I just don't see the Cardinals being able to hang with the Mountaineers. Which means Louisville will probably win 9-7, but I'm picking West Virginia anyway. Pick: West Virginia

Woman - "West Virginia should have this won but Louisville is coming off a two-week high, beating both Rutgers and Syracuse. With both teams tied at 2-1 in the Big East standings, I'm guessing the game will be closer than the spread. (And by the way, kind of sad that Cardinals cheerleaders don't feel safe enough to cheer at Mountaineer Field.)" Pick: Louisville

Machine - Geno Smith is going to have a day to remember, as he throws for over 400 yards and 5 touchdowns as West Virginia rolls 49-21. Pick: West Virginia

Iowa vs. Michigan (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Normally in a Big Ten game played in Kinnick Stadium if I saw Iowa was getting points I wouldn't have to think that much before going with the Hawkeyes. Unfortunately this year's Iowa team is not something I want to depend on for anything, and Michigan has a lot left to play for, so I'm rolling with the Wolverines. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "Big Blue's one slip this season was on the road.  But with a stout defense, Denard Robinson at the helm, and an opponent that's underperformed all season, I'm thinking Kinnick Stadium won't pose much of a threat to the Wolverines." Pick: Michigan

Machine - The Machine must not have seen Iowa play against Minnesota last week, because it doesn't see the Hawkeyes having a whole lot of trouble with the Wolverines. Iowa wins 28-17. Pick: Iowa

Nebraska (-17 1/2) vs. Northwestern - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Nebraska is a team that worries me every week, but after seeing what it was able to do with Michigan State in Lincoln last week, I'm going to put that fear aside and trust that Rex Burkhead will run all over the Northwestern defense. Pick: Nebraska

Woman - "It's a shame Northwestern QB Dan Persa can't play defense.  And it's really a shame the Northwestern defense can't play defense. Not gonna be pretty (especially at crazed Memorial Stadium)." Pick: Nebraska

Machine - The Machine sees the Nebraska offense taking full advantage of the Northwestern defense, but it also sees Dan Persa and company having some success as well. Nebraska wins 38-30. Pick: Northwestern

Oklahoma (-13 1/2) vs. Texas A&M - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - When it comes to picking games against the spread I try to subscribe to the idea of never picking the underdog unless you think the underdog has a legit chance of winning the game. I don't think Texas A&M is going to go into Norman and hand the Sooners a second straight home loss, but I also think that the Aggies will cover what's nearly a 2 touchdown spread. So screw my rules. Pick: Texas A&M

Woman - "The Aggies have been my Kryptonite, letting me down every time I've picked them. That said, they haven't lost a game this season by more than seven points and have won all their away games. So, once more into the breach. Sooners win but Aggies cover." Pick: Texas A&M

Machine - Our worst fears are being realized. The Machine is adapting to reality, as it sees Texas A&M carry a 17-10 lead into the fourth quarter only to lose 31-24. Pick: Texas A&M

Pitt vs. Cincinnati (-2 1/2) - Saturday, 7pm

Man - I feel like I'm punishing myself for even including this game in the picks. I mean, seriously, it's the Big East. I have no idea what's going to happen, so let's let this nickel decide. Pick: Pitt

Woman - "Some of the most excruciating college ball I've watched this season has been at the butterfingery hands of Pitt. Losing leading rusher Ray Graham for the season with a torn ACL does nothing to make the Panthers more appealing against the Big East leader." Pick: Cincinnati

Machine - The loss of Ray Graham will not be a huge blow to the Panthers this week, as they squeeze out a win against the Bearcats, throwing the Big East into total disarray. Pitt wins 28-27. Pick: Pitt

Arkansas (-4 1/2) vs. South Carolina - Saturday, 7:15pm

Man - A South Carolina offense that was already struggling before losing Marcus Lattimore for the season and has seemingly forgotten it has Alshon Jeffery on the road against an Arkansas offense averaging 37 points a game but also has a defense that's struggled to stop Ole Miss and Vanderbilt the last few weeks. So I'm just going to go with the home team. Pick: Arkansas

Woman - "The Gamecocks 7-1 record is pretty misleading. They've scored a total of no more than 16 points three out of the last four games and, after dumping QB Stephen Garcia, now must deal with star RB Marcus Lattimore out for the season with a knee injury.  Meanwhile, Arkansas has averaged 37 points a game. Let's see, 37 minus 16 = " Pick: Arkansas

Machine - We got ourselves a clean sweep here, as Arkansas wins 31-14. Pick: Arkansas

Alabama (-4 1/2) vs. LSU - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Ah yes, the Game of The Century For This Year. Much like most of you, I've been looking forward to this one for weeks. A part of me didn't even want to pick this one just so I'd have no reason to care what the final score was and I could just enjoy it, but I also don't want to give a game away to the Woman or the Machine. I don't know who is going to win this game, but I do know that there are two incredibly good defenses facing each other. So points will be at a premium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, and since that's the case, I'm going to take the free points and LSU. Pick: LSU

Woman - "I made the horrible mistake of picking against the Tigers once this season.  That's once too many.  Calling Baton Rouge [Les Miles]." Pick: LSU

Machine - Shocking, I know, but The Machine has always been more of a Nick Saban fan than a Les Miles one. Alabama wins 28-20. Pick: Alabama

Oklahoma State (-21 1/2) vs. Kansas State - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Remember what we saw the Oklahoma offense do to Kansas State last week? I don't think that was a mirage, and now the Wildcats are facing an even more explosive offense and on the road. I let my heart pick the Wildcats last week, but this week I'm listening to my head. Let's hope I'm not as stupid as I think I am. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "The Wildcats have the unenviable task of coming off an embarrassing loss only to face the number three-ranked team in the country. The bad news for KSU: they're going to lose two games in a row. The good news: it won't be by more than three touchdowns." Pick: Kansas State

Machine - Well, Kansas State, you'll always have September and the first three weeks of October. The Machine sees Brandon Weeden picking up where Landry Jones left off, and the Cowboys win 51-20. Pick: Oklahoma State

Washington vs. Oregon (-15 1/2) - Saturday, 10:30pm

Man - Washington is averaging 39 points a game at home this season while Oregon is giving up over 25 points per game to Pac-12 opponents not named Colorado on the year. So if they want to give me more than 2 touchdowns with Washington at home, I'm going to take Washington. Pick: Washington

Woman - "It's the very last game ever at storied Husky Stadium and this is an intense rivalry folks east of the Rockies don't appreciate. The Huskies might lose but will not go gentle into that good night." Pick: Washington

Machine - The Machine thinks you should stay up late to watch this one, because it's going to be a shootout. Oregon wins 48-42. Pick: Washington

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Man 55-40 (4-6)
1. Woman 55-40 (5-5)
3. Machine 52-43 (8-2)

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:44 am
 

Keys to the Game: Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: In order to win this game all Oklahoma State has to do is to keep doing what it has done. Dominate the game with its offense, take care of the ball and take the ball away on defense. It may not look like it if you just look at the teams' records, but Oklahoma State is a much better team than Kansas State. What may surprise you though, is that while Kansas State's defense is considered to be much stronger than Oklahoma State's -- and I tried to debunk the "Oklahoma State defense is bad" theory -- here's something you may not have known: the Kansas State pass defense is worse than Oklahoma State's in just about every category. You have to think that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will be able to exploit a defense that's giving up 277.9 yards per game and allowing quarterbacks to complete 63.5% of their passes. Landry Jones just threw for 505 yards and 5 scores against it last week, and Weeden could find similar success.

KANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: It figure out how to stop spread offenses. While the Kansas State defense got off to a strong start to the season, ever since Big 12 play started and it began facing offenses that spread it out, things have not been going well. In five conference games the Kansas State defense is allowing 33 points and 350.2 yards passing per game. The best way for Kansas State to stop the Oklahoma State offense will be to keep it off the field, which means the Wildcats will have to protect the ball and use its ground game. The good news for Kansas State is that Collin Klein and John Hubert have a chance to do just that. The Oklahoma State defense is giving up 185.5 yards per game on the ground, and Kansas State is rushing for 209.9. That will have to continue for the Wildcats to hand the Cowboys their first loss of the year.

X-FACTOR: Collin Klein. Klein needs to have his best game of the season for Kansas State to win this game. Odds are that Oklahoma State will be geared up to stop Klein and the rushing attack, so he's going to at least provide the threat of passing to open things up for his offense. Last week Klein was only able to complete 8 of his 16 passes for 58 yards, and that allowed the Oklahoma defense to key on stopping the run, and we all know how that worked out for Kansas State. 
 
 
 
 
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