Posted on: September 11, 2011 4:21 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Michigan and Denard Robinson, the night is yours. What could there possibly be to say about the Michigan-Notre Dame contest that would properly suit such a game, such a finish? Then again, as those fake old Adidas uniforms (shown above) proved, "proper suiting" had no place in this game, so let's talk about it at length. Michigan slept through the first three quarters, trailing the Fighting Irish 24-7 at the third intermission in a game that didn't even seem that close, and Denard Robinson looked completely ill-suited to succeed in the Brady Hoke/Al Borges offense.
At that point, naturally, all hell broke loose. Michigan scored on the first play of the fourth quarter when Notre Dame stuffed a Wolverine halfback dive at the goal line and forced a fumble ... only the ball bounced right to Robinson, who ran the recovery in for an easy score before anybody else knew what was happening. Robinson would then engineer three more touchdown drives almost singlehandedly, the last taking all of three plays and 28 seconds before Roy Roundtree came down with the game-winning touchdown pass from Robinson with two ticks left on the clock.
The thing of it was, though, Robinson's passing wasn't even good. His accuracy was way off all day, and two of Robinson's three interceptions were absolutely unconscionable throws (including a screen pass that sailed at least five feet over his nearby receiver's head). Even after Robinson came to life late in the third quarter, his big plays were mostly underthrows and jump balls that so markedly didn't fit the arc and timing of the routes that Notre Dame's secondary struggled to adjust to where the throws ended up being, even while they were ostensibly providing good coverage.
And yet still, football is not about style points, it is about actual points, and those comical throws ended up netting Michigan enough actual points to seal the victory and set off a party at the Big House that didn't stop until the police were forced to tell the student section to go home. May all college football games end so delightfully for the home partisans, right?
2. It was pretty rough everywhere else. Michigan beat Notre Dame. That was a marquee win for the conference, without a doubt. But elsewhere, Big Ten members lost to Alabama (fine), Virginia (um), Iowa State (no), Rice (NO), and New Mexico State (NOOOOOOO). The wins, by and large, weren't really impressive either. Ohio State barely scraped by Toledo, and Nebraska caught four tough quarters from Fresno State. And those are two ranked division crown contenders! In the Big Ten! Elsewhere, Illinois and Northwestern throttled their FCS opponents, while Michigan State and Wisconsin took care of business against two wretched FBS opponents in FAU and Oregon State, respectively. That's, um, not a good week.
Of course, BCS Championships aren't won in Week 2, only lost, and aside from maybe Iowa (though that ISU win didn't look like an upset at all), the teams that lost today by and large weren't serious contenders for division titles to begin with. We've got a lot of football left in the year, and teams turning their seasons around after a rocky opening are hardly rare in college ball. That all said, if it's not time to panic yet for the five Big Ten teams with blemished records, it's certainly time for significant concern.
3. Jerry Kill gets seizures sometimes. The TCF Bank crowd was shocked into silence and play was stopped in the waning seconds of the Minnesota-New Mexico State game on Saturday when Gophers head coach Jerry Kill collapsed and went into a seizure on the sideline. Kill would end up on the ground for about 15 minutes before being carted off and hospitalized. Shortly thereafter, Minnesota medical staff would assure reporters that Kill's life was never in danger, that he has had this seizure disorder for years, and that he will be fine, but still -- that was a terrifying sight.
The interesting aspect of the episode's aftermath is the series of revelations about Kill's disorder, namely that not only will Kill be fine, but he's had similar incidents before and never ended up missing a game of work. That seems unusual to people unfamiliar with seizures -- which would be most people, if we're being honest -- since generally, when someone collapses suddenly, doctors aren't clearing them to work the next week. And yet that's precisely the case with Kill, who has not been given a timetable for a return but will likely do so for Minnesota's next game. Let's hope his seizures don't make a habit of returning, of course, but let's also be thankful that they're generally not life-threatening or even career-altering.
4. Penn State's quarterback situation may be worse than we all imagined. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: Alabama's defense is fantastic this year. Not only is it easily the best Penn State will face this year, it might be one of the ten best defenses Joe Paterno has ever faced. They're going to make a LOT of quarterbacks look bad this year.
That all said, Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin didn't just look bad on Saturday, they looked like they didn't belong on a D-I football field. Bolden finished 11-29 for 144 yards and one interception, and McGloin was an incomprehensible 1-10 for 0 yards. Really. Their wide receivers didn't do them a whole lot of favors, it should be pointed out, and Alabama's coverage was suffocating, but Bolden and McGloin routinely made bad throws regardless of the coverage. It can't have helped that the two QBs were rotated in and out with casual-at-best regard for their on-field performances, and it's likely that JoePa tires somewhat of the platoon situation in the near future, but it was also obvious that neither quarterback is playing at anywhere near a high level, and that's a dire situation without an obvious or effective fix. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this could easily submarine Penn State's season, and Joe Paterno really doesn't have many more seasons to sacrifice to the Bad QB What Are You Gonna Do gods.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Al Borges, Alabama, Alabama, Big Ten, Brady Hoke, Denard Robinson, FAU, Florida Atlantic, Fresno State, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Jerry Kill, Jerry Kill Seizure, Joe Paterno, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon State, Rice, Robert Bolden, Roy Roundtree, Toledo, Virginia, Week 2, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 10, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: September 10, 2011 11:51 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Here's the rundown on the weather for all of today's big games (all times Eastern). It can't be any worse than last Saturday, but it does look as though we'll get a good bit more sunshine:
Toledo at No. 15 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Mid-to-low 70s, scattered thunderstorms
Oregon State at No. 8 Wisconsin, 12:00, Madison WI: Sunny, high of 80
No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn, 12:20, Auburn AL: Sunny, mid-to-low 80s
No. 11 Virginia Tech at East Carolina, 3:30, Greenville, NC: Sunny, high of 84
No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State, 3:30, State College, PA: Scattered thunderstorms and showers, low 70s
Nevada at No. 13 Oregon, 3:30, Eugene OR: Sunny, hot. High of 93
No. 12 South Carolina at Georgia, 4:30, Athens GA: Sunny, mid-to-low 80s
UAB at No. 18 Florida, 7:00, Gainesville FL: Isolated thunderstorms, chance of rain 30 percent. 70s.
Fresno State at No. 10 Nebraska, 7:00, Lincoln NE: Mostly clear. Low of 58
BYU at No. 24 Texas, 7:00, Austin TX: Clear. 70s.
Utah at USC, 7:30, Los Angeles CA: Partly cloudy, 20 percent chance of rain. 60s.
Notre Dame at Michigan, 8:00, Ann Arbor MI: Showers throughout day, thinning out during evening. 60s.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:41 pm
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.
It is clear that this is a fight that will not be won easily, as both Woman and Machine dealt me a crushing blow in the first week of the season. Fear not, my fellow containers of the Y chromosome, for a war is not lost in the first battle, and we have many more to fight. So let's get to the senseless slaughter, shall we?
Oklahoma State (-14 1/2) vs. Arizona - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)Man - This one could wind up being quite the barnburner much along the lines of the Baylor/TCU game we saw on Friday night. It's two good offenses facing off against each other, and it may come down to which defense can make a stop when it has to. Even though I'd give the edge on defense to Arizona, the fact that this game is being played in Stillwater makes me lean toward the Cowboys, but at the same time Oklahoma State's defense makes me think this one could be a lot closer than the spread indicates. Of course, it's hard to forget Oklahoma State beating Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. Screw it, I'm riding with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State
Woman - "Remember the Alamo Bowl." Pick: Oklahoma State
Machine - The Machine sees a lot more defense in this one than I'd expect, and Brandon Weeden struggles against Mike Stoops' defense, throwing for only 245 yards and 1 touchdown. OSU wins 27-14, but the Cats cover. Pick: Arizona
Arizona State (-7 1/2) vs. Missouri - Friday, 10:30pmMan - I really don't have a lot of faith in the Missouri offense after last week's performance, but it's hard to get a decent read on Arizona State based on one game against UC-Davis. While I still believe in the Missouri defense, I think being on the road will catch up to them in the second half and the Sun Devils pull this one off. Pick: Arizona State
Woman - "This is Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. This is your football team on Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. Any questions?" Pick: Arizona State
Machine - The Machine is fearful of James Franklin's inability to throw passes over 7 yards as well, but it does not think that will keep the Tigers from putting up points and the defense from smothering ASU. Missouri 24-10. Pick: Missouri
Wisconsin (-21 1/2) vs. Oregon State - Saturday, 12pmMan - Bret Bielema let me down last week. After Wisconsin buried UNLV early on Thursday night he decided to call off the dogs and not pursue 100 points. That being said, Oregon State lost at home to Sacramento State. I don't care how kind and cuddly this new version of Bret Bielema has become, nor how large the spread, I am not picking a team that loses at home to Sacramento State. Pick: Wisconsin
Woman - "On one hand, Russell Wilson magic and a monster Badger homefield advantage. On the other hand, a hammy-challenged Beaver rusher and a secondary that might as well be wearing Louboutin athletic shoes. Wait, that's the same hand. Wisconsin wins easily but throttles back, so doesn't quite cover." Pick: Oregon State
Machine - ALERT! ALERT! THE MACHINE HAS BEEN COMPROMISED! IT IS ON DRUGS! IT HAS OREGON STATE WINNING THIS GAME 16-0! Pick: Oregon State
Auburn vs. Mississippi State (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pmMan: We saw how tough life could be for Auburn this season without Cam Newton when the Tigers barely had the power to squeak by Utah State at home last weekend, and Mississippi State is a much tougher foe than the Aggies were. That being said, a spread this large for a team on the road in the SEC seems rather ominous, so while I wouldn't be shocked if Auburn loses, it's going to be another close game. Pick: Auburn
Woman - "Pay no attention to the neutered Tiger behind the curtain. Mississippi State wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Auburn
Machine - According to The Machine, Auburn will once again find itself in a whole during the fourth quarter this week, but unlike last Saturday, this hole will be too deep to climb out of. Mississippi State wins 35-21. Pick: Mississippi State
Penn State vs. Alabama (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - An SEC team makes a rare appearance in a Big Ten stadium this week, and I have a feeling that the Tide won't be the most polite visitors the conference has seen. I know that there are still some questions on offense for Alabama, but I just don't see Penn State's offense being able to do much against that Alabama defense. Pick: Alabama
Woman - "Do you ever wonder if Joe Paterno is actually comatose lying in a hospital bed at some nursing home called Happy Valley and we're all just figments of his imagination? No? Uh, me either... Regardless, good D versus great D means JoePa's gonna have bad dreams." Pick: Alabama
Machine - The Machine sees Robert Bolden enjoying his date against Alabama a lot more this season, but unfortunately a late 40-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson makes it a Not-So-Happy Valley. Alabama just gets by 24-23. Pick: Penn State
Duke vs. Stanford (-21 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pmMan - Let me make this clear: There is nothing I enjoy less than picking against a home team that is a 21 1/2-point underdog. That being said, one of these teams has Andrew Luck and the other one lost to Richmond last week. Pick: Stanford
Woman - "Crimson last year, now Cardinal? Red looks terrible on Duke. Coincidentally, reverse the spread and it would equal the mean IQ point differential in respective student bodies." Pick: Stanford
Machine - The Machine does not experience human emotions, but it is torn on this game. Does The Machine go with the kids who designed it, or the kids who begged mommy and daddy to buy it for them? Stanford wins 34-31. Pick: Duke
Georgia vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 4:30pmMan - This is an incredibly important game for so early in the season as it could play a large role in who wins the SEC East. It also features yet another home underdog, but to be honest, I'm not all that concerned this time around. What I am concerned about is the fact I have so much faith in a team that features Stephen Garcia as its quarterback. Pick: South Carolina
Woman - "I'm assuming Mark Richt's players want him to get out of Sanford Stadium alive." Pick: Georgia
Machine - Stephen Garcia not only starts for the Gamecocks, but he plays so unbelievably well that Steve Spurrier doesn't even think about pulling him. Garcia throws for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns as Mark Richt's seat grows even hotter. South Carolina wins 28-21. Pick: South Carolina
Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Fresno State - Saturday, 7pmMan - While I have no doubts about the fact that the Nebraska defense is going to make life hell on the Fresno State offense, I'm just not ready to give the Cornhusker offense enough credit in this one. Until Taylor Martinez can show me he can have consistently good games, a spread like this is just too large to bet against. Pick: Fresno State
Woman - "Quick question: Can Bo Pelini find out where I live? He can?" Pick: Nebraska
Machine - Much like The Woman, The Machine fears Bo Pelini smashing it into a million pieces. Nebraska wins easily, 48-17. Pick: Nebraska
USC (-9 1/2) vs. Utah - Saturday, 7:30pmMan - We all saw how much trouble that USC had with Minnesota last week, and I have a hard time believing that Utah is any weaker than the Golden Gophers. Plus at some point Lane Kiffin is going to blow USC's chances of covering by going for two and failing, and I don't want to have to rely on one of Kiffin's dumb decisions paying off to get me a win. Pick: Utah
Woman - "I'll take the points over boneheaded Lane Kiffin, even if the Song Girls try to lure the Utes into the rocks." Pick: Utah
Machine - The Machine's pick does not disappoint me this week, though I was saddened to see that USC kicked two field goals rather than failing on a two-point conversion. Utah wins 21-6. Pick: Utah
Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pmMan - You know, Notre Dame's offense actually had a great game against South Florida last week if you could somehow erase the five turnovers, and the idea of that same offense facing a Michigan defense that can't be totally over 2010 causes me to lean towards picking the Irish here. That being said, the first ever night game at the Big House is bound to give the Wolverines a pretty nice boost, and I think this game is going to be pretty darn close. I'm not sure who wins, but I have to take the home team and the points here. Pick: Michigan
Woman - "After last week, Notre Dame has officially become the Chicago Cubs of college football." Pick:Michigan
Machine - The Machine nailed Notre Dame's loss last week, but it seems its faith in the school has been restored a bit. Or at least it believes in the healing powers of Tommy Rees as the new Irish starter throws for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Irish cruise to a 46-29 win. Pick: Notre Dame
StandingsSeason Record (Last Week)
1. Machine 11-4 (11-4)
1. Woman 11-4 (11-4)
3. Man 8-7 (8-7)
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bo Pelini, Brandon Weeden, Bret Bielema, Cam Newton, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, James Franklin, Joe Paterno, Lane Kiffin, Man vs Woman vs Machine, Mark Richt, Michigan, Mike Stoops, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pac-12, Penn State, Robert Bolden, Russell Wilson, Sacramento State, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Tom Fornelli, Tommy Rees, Trent Richardson, UC-Davis, UNLV, USC, Utah, Utah State, Wisconsin
Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Texas A&M announced Wednesday it would apply to join "another conference," a conference that even the tubeworms living without sunlight at the bottom of the Pacific could tell you* is the SEC. The Aggies will certainly-as-certainly-gets make 13 for Mike Slive's league, and since a 13-team conference with one 6-team division and one 7-team division is the college football equivalent of a table with one leg an inch too short, expect the SEC to find a 14th team sooner rather than later.
The question begged by A&M's arrival is this: why now? During Expansionpalooza 2010, Slive and the SEC seemed more than happy to stand pat with the same 12 teams and two divisions that have made them the sport's proverbial 500-pound gorilla, the elephant no one has proven capable of shoving out of the room. But come 2011, when the Aggies called griping about the changes in their neighborhood, Slive was happy to ask them to move into his.
Ask many fans and pundits, and they'll tell you the A&M invite is Slive's preemptive strike against Larry Scott and the Pac-12 and Jim Delany and the Big Ten, the two commissioners and conferences that -- the argument goes -- are poised to usher in the era of 16-team "superconferences," wresting away control of the sport ... if Slive doesn't beat them to the punch.
But adding Texas A&M isn't about what Scott and Delany might have in the future. It's about what they have right now.
Namely, it's about the television networks that those conference have or will have, and that the SEC version that Slive shortsightedly passed on when he signed the league's current deals with CBS and (more to the point where the league network is concerned) ESPN. While the Big Ten Network's revenues skyrocket and the Pac-12's TV revenues are set outdo the SEC's even before the league's network starts airing, the SEC is scheduled to earn the exact same amount in TV money in 2023 they are today ... when the league's contract is already below market value.
Whether the SEC's expansion will give them enough re-negotiation leverage to either get an SEC network off the ground -- or just keep pace with the Pac-12 in base contract value -- remains a matter of conjecture. But if any expansion choice could do it, you'd think Texas A&M would. The Aggies expand the league's "footprint" into Texas, have close ties to the major-major Houston market, have a massive alumni base, and have traditionally been a highly competitive, nationally relevant football program.
But even the Aggies might make not that much of an impact on the SEC's bottom line. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson told CNBC this week that "there are smart people at both ESPN and CBS and I would anticipate that they foresaw this type of contingency ... if there's any adjustment to the TV deals, I would anticipate that it would be a very modest adjustment." Pilson wouldn't even guarantee that after A&M's addition, the SEC's per-school revenue distribution would match what it is now.
That may be selling the Aggies short. But it nonetheless speaks to why even after the A&M-SEC marriage, the age of the 16-team superconference is not yet upon us. Conference expansion isn't as simple as adding a team, sitting back, and watching the bottom line swell; that team has to add enough value to offset the significant division of league profits by 13 (and then, inevitably, 14) rather than 12. There's other substantial drawbacks, too: increased travel costs, fewer games for current members against their existing rivals**, stiffer competition for the league's limited number of national broadcasts (and, you know, championships).
Which is why "superconferences" likely remain firmly in the distant -- rather than the near -- future. If it takes adding Syracuse and Rutgers for the Big Ten to get up to 16 teams, why would they bother? If the new-look Pac-16 includes the likes of Fresno State or even Boise State -- still not exactly a major-market media powerhouse -- that's not exactly going to force Slive's hand. And assuming the SEC's "gentleman's agreement" not to expand into current SEC states is still intact, who would Slive pull for teams No. 15 and 16? The current whispers are that if Virginia Tech stands by its ACC man (as they say they will), the SEC could look at N.C. State--a member that would give the SEC the Raleigh TV market but (with all due respect) wouldn't have Scott and Delany crying into their respective beers.
The one scenario that could overturn the whole apple cart is Texas deciding to listen to Scott's overtures this go-round and dragging the likes of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State with them. But given the Longhorns' already-substantial investment in the Longhorn Network, here's a guess that neither they nor ESPN is going to like sharing their rare live content with the partially Fox-owned Pac-12 Network. And if the Longhorns either stay committed to the Big 12 or go independent, the Pac-12 could add some value by snapping up the Sooners and Cowboys ... but again, are there enough schools out there to justify going to 16?
When even adding A&M to go from 12 to 13 isn't a hands-down slam-dunk for the SEC -- and given that it's a backwards-looking desperation move motivated by the need to repair an earlier mistake, not a forward-looking "gotta do it" type of decision, how can it be? -- the guess here is that no, those schools are not.
14 may indeed be the new 12, but 16 remains what 14 was when the SEC first expanded in 1992--a number major college football will probably reach at some point in the future, but one that's not more than an intriguing hypothetical in the present.
*Trust me, I asked them. They added they were sick of hearing about expansion and scandal and just wanted the season to start.
**In the particular case of A&M and the SEC, this doesn't apply to LSU and Arkansas; the Tigers and Razorbacks have more history with A&M than they do many of their current SEC brethren.
Tags: Big 12, Big Ten, Big Ten Network, Boise State, ESPN, Fox, Fresno State, Jerry Hinnen, Jim Delany, Larry Scott, Longhorn Network, Mike Slive, N.C. State, Neal Pilson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Network, Rutgers, SEC, SEC expansion, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech
Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Bryant Moniz, Senior, Hawaii
Moniz is the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to rack up insane yardage totals out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 he threw for 5,040 yards and led the country with 39 touchdown passes. He also led the nation in total offense, and "Mighty Mo" will look to do the same things in 2011 as he makes a Heisman push.
Also watch for: While Moniz gets the most attention in the WAC, don't forget about Fresno State's Derek Carr -- you may remember his older brother David -- and Idaho's Brian Reader. Those two could put up some nice numbers as well.
Robbie Rouse, Junior, Fresno State
Rouse showed a lot promise in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he'll be looking to continue to impress in 2011. If he can, it will be a big boost to Fresno State's chances of winning the WAC.
Robert Turbin, Junior, Utah State
After missing all of the 2010 season with an injury, the only person who wants to see Robert Turbin on the football field more than Aggie fans is Turbin himself. As a sophomore Turbin started 11 games and rushed for 108 yards per game to become Utah State's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. Along with being a threat carrying the ball, Turbin is also dangerous catching balls out of the backfield and contributing in the passing game.
Also watch for: There are a number of good running backs in the WAC, but there are two that come immediately to mind. Nevada's Mike Ball will get plenty of carries with the Wolfpack now that Vai Taua is no longer around. Then there's Louisiana Tech's Lennon Creer.
Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
I do not envy the position that Nevada quarterback Tyler Lantrip is in trying to replace Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, but he could certainly do a lot worse than having Rishard Matthews around to throw the ball to. Matthews led Nevada with 55 receptions and 873 yards last season, and will be Lantrip's go-to option in the passing game.
Royce Pollard, Senior, Hawaii
With both Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares no longer playing wide receiver for Hawaii, somebody is going to have to step up and catch all those passes, and Pollard is the best bet. As Hawaii's third receiving option in 2010 Pollard finished the year with 64 catches, 901 yards and 7 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he'll put up as a number one!
Also watch for: Louisiana Tech has a talented duo in Taulib Ikharo and Ahmad Paige. Of course, when it comes to receivers, just about everybody on Hawaii's depth chart is a candidate to excel this season.
Ryan Otten, Junior, San Jose State
Otten missed a lot of time for San Jose State thanks to injuries in 2010, but he came on strong at the end of the season. His three touchdown receptions came in the final two games of the season, and he still finished third on the team in touchdown catches even though he missed half the year. He'll be looking to build on the momentum he picked up after getting healthy in 2011.
Also watch for: Idaho sophomore Taylor Elmo and Utah State's Kellen Bartlett are two other tight ends capable of putting up some nice numbers this season.
Center Jeff Meads, Senior, Nevada
Meads earned the starting job at center last season, starting all 13 games, and played a key role on an offensive line that helped the Wolfpack finish third in the nation in rushing offense.
Guard Chris Barker, Junior, Nevada
Since redshirting in 2008, there hasn't been a single game that the Wolfpack guard hasn't been in the starting lineup. He's another big reason that Nevada ran the ball on everyone it came across last season.
Guard Kevin Saia, Junior, Louisiana Tech
Saia earned the starting job at left guard at the end of 2009 and held onto it during the 2010 year, helping open plenty of holes for running back Lennon Creer.
Tackle Austin Hansen, Senior, Hawaii
When you have an offense that drops back to pass as often as Hawaii's does, you're going to need a left tackle you can count on to keep your quarterback on his feet. Hansen has been just that for the Warriors, starting 22 games the last two seasons.
Tackle Tyrone Novikoff, Senior, Idaho
Novikoff has seen time on the Idaho offensive line since his freshman season, and has started 25 games the last two years at left tackle. There's a reason for it too, as the 6-foot-7 tackle is not the easiest man to get by.
Also watch for: Utah State boasts a nice pair on its line in Funaki Asisi and Philip Gapelu. There's also Stephen Warner at Louisiana Tech. New Mexico State's Sioeli Fakalata and Hawaii's Chauncey Winchester-Makainai deserve your attention for their names alone, but both are talented as well.
DE Matt Broha, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Broha is one of the most prolific pass rushers in Louisiana Tech history. His 9 sacks in 2010 moved him into third all-time on the schools sack leaders, and he'll be looking to climb to the top in 2011.
DE Travis Johnson, Junior, San Jose State
Johnson has started 17 games in his career as a Spartan, and he's only entering his third season with the team. In 2010 he led all SJSU defensive lineman with 62 tackles and led the team in sacks with 7.5. He also had 9.5 tackles for a loss.
DT Logan Harrell, Senior, Fresno State
Logan Harrell was a monster for the Bulldogs on the interior of the defensive line. Though defensive tackles aren't generally known to be pass rush specialists, that still didn't stop Harrell from leading the WAC with 10.5 sacks and racking up another 14 tackles for loss.
DT Brett Roy, Senior, Nevada
Nevada's Brett Roy also proved to be problematic for offensive lines in 2010, tallying 8 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with the Wolfpack.
Also watch for: Hawaii's Kaniela Tuipulotu and Idaho's Michael Cosgrove were also terrors on the inside and should continue to improve this season. Also on Hawaii's defensive line is Vaughn Meatoga -- mmmmm, meat toga -- and Donte Savage lives up to his last name for New Mexico State.
Bobby Wagner, Senior, Utah State
Wagner has already been named First Team All-WAC in his career at Utah State so why not go for a third? While he has other talented players around him, at times you get the sense that Wagner is the Utah State defense, as there is rarely a play run that he isn't a part of.
Corey Paredes, Senior, Hawaii
Corey Paredes is to tackles what Hawaii wide receivers are to receptions. He makes all of them. Paredes finished with 151 tackles last season, which was the second-highest total in school history. Paredes also showed that he could possibly play some wide receiver for Hawaii if he had to, picking off 4 passes during the year.
Adrien Cole, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Cole started only 6 games for the Bulldogs in 2010, but he made the most of the opportunity given to him. He finished the year as a second-team All-WAC selection, and I feel that if he shows the effort and skill that he did while making 80 tackles in limited time last year, he'll be making the leap to the first team this season.
Also watch for: The WAC is home to quite a few linebackers worthy of your attention. Keith Smith (San Jose State), Jay Dudley (Louisiana Tech) Aaron Brown (Hawaii), Kyle Gallagher (Utah State), James-Michael Johnson (Nevada), and Robert Siavil (Idaho) are just a few.
CB Isaiah Frey, Senior, Nevada
Frey's 2010 season was good enough to have him named second team All-WAC, and he's looking to move up this year. He may be the most consistent corner in the entire conference, and finished 2010 with 14 passes broken up. He's also not afraid to stick his nose into the fray and make a tackle on a running back coming around the corner.
S Walter McClenton, Senior, Utah State
McClenton made ten starts at safety for the Aggies last seson and finished the year third on the team in tackles with 62. He also broke up 2 passes and had a sack. He's somebody I'd consider more of a run-stuffer than a coverage safety, but if he can improve on his pass defense in 2011 his stock will soar.
S Duke Ihenacho, Senior, San Jose State
Since San Jose State joined the WAC in 1996 its never had a player named first team All-WAC. This season Ihenacho will look to be the first. Unfortunately he didn't have the chance last season after missing the last ten games of the season with an injury, but he's back and healthy this year and will be a force once again.
S Phillip Thomas, Junior, Fresno State
Thomas is a safety that is loaded with potential and he flashed signs of it last season, finishing the year with 64 tackles, 9 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Now, as a junior, he'll be looking to fulfill that potential even more, and I fully expect him to.
Also watch for: Given the amount of passing offenses in the WAC, safeties play an important role in slowing down offenses, and the WAC has a few who are more than capable. Players like Louisiana Tech's Chad Boyd, New Mexico State's Donyae Coleman, Richard Torres at Hawaii and Nevada's Duke Williams play key roles for their teams.
K Kevin Goessling, Senior, Fresno State
P Bobby Cowan, Junior, Idaho
KR Kerwynn Williams, Junior, Utah State
PR Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
Tags: Aaron Brown, Adrien Cole, Ahmad Paige, All-WAC Team, Austin Hansen, Bobby Cowan, Bobby Wagner, Brett Roy, Brian Reader, Bryant Moniz, Chad Boyd, Chauncey Winchester-Makainai, Chris Barker, Colin Kaepernick, Corey Paredes, David Carr, Derek Carr, Donte Savage, Donyae Coleman, Duke Ihenacho, Duke Williams, Fresno State, Funaki Asisi, Greg Salas, Hawaii, Idaho, Isaiah Frey, James-Michael Johnson, Jay Dudley, Jeff Meads, Kaniela Tuipulotu, Kealoha Pilares, Keith Smith, Kellen Bartlett, Kerwynn Williams, Kevin Goessling, Kevin Saia, Kyle Gallagher, Lennon Creer, Logan Harrell, Louisiana Tech, Matt Broha, Michael Cosgrove, Mike Ball, Nevada, New Mexico State, Non-BCS, Philip Gapelu, Phillip Thomas, Preseason All-WAC Team, Richard Torres, Rishard Matthews, Robbie Rouse, Robert Siavil, Robert Turbin, Royce Pollard, Ryan Otten, San Jose State, Sioeli Fakalata, Stephen Warner, Taulib Ikharo, Taylor Elmo, Tom Fornelli, Travis Johnson, Tyler Lantrip, Tyrone Novikoff, Utah State, Vaughn Meatoga, WAC, WAC Preview, Walter McClenton
Posted on: July 27, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 12:18 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When San Diego State head coach Rocky Long called the combination of Boise State's home Smurf Turf and their all-blue uniforms "unfair" this past April, we applauded his candor but also assumed he was giving voice to run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes sour grapes. If Boise hadn't been so good, and their opponents on the blue turf hadn't lost so many times, no one would care about the color of the field or uniforms, right?
Maybe not. But as it turns out, Long is far from the only coach to believe the Broncos' home color-coordination gives them an unfair advantage. In fact, so many of the coaches in Boise's new Mountain West Conference home complained that the league prohibited the Broncos from wearing all-blue uniforms in their conference home games as a prerequisite for their entry into the league.
While the Bronco administration had little choice but to sign off on the agreement (what, they were going to stay in the WAC over their uniforms?), you couldn't have expected the MWC's plan to go over well in Boise. And it hasn't, with even usually soft-spoken head coach Chris Petersen railing against the decision at MWC Media Days Tuesday:
“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said of his reaction. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”
The MWC's explanation?
Said commissioner Craig Thompson: “What we had heard from our coaches is ‘a competitive advantage.’ It’s as simple as that.”Again: color us skeptical the Broncos' "competitive advantage" in Boise has anywhere near as much to do with the field or the uniforms as the long travel, players like Kellen Moore, and coaches like Petersen. And we're particularly skeptical the coaches' gripes are based in legitimate competition issues -- rather than a conference-wide sort of rookie hazing -- when we read the following:
One complaint from coaches is that it’s difficult to watch video of the Broncos’ home games. Petersen said that’s true, but shouldn’t be an issue as schools switch to high definition.It's a little more difficult to watch film of their games, so you're going to tell the Broncos what uniforms they can and can't wear at their own stadium? Really?
Really. As a neutral viewer, we shouldn't complain; the all-blue look on the blue turf does take a few series' of visual adjustment (even in HD), and monochrome uniforms in bright colors aren't exactly the height of football fashion no matter the color of the field. But quirky home-field advantages have always been a part of college football, and this one seems even more quirky and innocuous than most.
So: we anxiously await confirmation from the MWC that as part of their invitations to join, Hawaii will be playing their home games in California, Nevada will be playing theirs at sea level (and only in September and October, what with those chilly November/December temperatures in Reno), and at theirs Fresno State will force Pat Hill to coach clean-shaven.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 12:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After getting my new copy of EA Sports' NCAA Football 12 on Tuesday, I took the time to simulate the entire 2012 season to see what the video game thinks is going to happen this year. In order to make things realistic, I even went through all the trouble of updating rosters to reflect what they currently look like.
That meant moving Russell Wilson from NC State to Wisconsin, removing Terrelle Pryor -- not to mention benching the suspended Buckeyes for the first five games of the season -- removing WaShaun Ealey and Caleb King from Georgia's backfield and so on and so forth.
No need to thank me, it was a labor of love.
So how did things turn out?
Well, it looks as if we'll once again have a non-BCS school finish the year undefeated -- the only school to do so -- but it's not Boise State or TCU. In fact, Boise State finally got its shot at a national title, but it couldn't come through.
Let's find out. First we'll start with the conference champions (Records don't include conference championships or bowl games).
ACC -- North Carolina 9-3 (6-2)
Big 12 -- Texas A&M 10-2 (8-1)
Big East -- South Florida 9-3 (6-1)
Big Ten -- Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
C-USA -- Houston 12-0 (8-0)
MAC -- Western Michigan 10-2 (7-1)
MWC -- Boise State 12-0 (7-0)
Pac 12 -- Oregon 9-3 (7-2)
SEC -- South Carolina 11-1 (7-1)
Sun Belt -- Troy 10-2 (8-0)
WAC -- Fresno State 8-4 (7-0)
And how about those BCS bowl games? Well I'm glad you asked.
Rose Bowl -- Wisconsin 49, Oregon 46 OT
Fiesta Bowl -- Texas A&M 38, Ohio State 17
Orange Bowl -- North Carolina 28, Alabama 20
Sugar Bowl -- Houston 48, South Florida 13
BCS National Championship -- South Carolina 24, Boise State 22
Yes, that's right, the Ol' Ball Coach has added another national title to his resume. Boise State did have a chance to topple the BCS machine, but couldn't pull through. Trailing 24-16, Kellen Moore hit Kyle Efaw on a 16-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left, but the Broncos couldn't convert the two-point conversion. The Gamecocks ran out the clock and celebrated a national title. Oh, and Stephen Garcia was the game's MVP. Let that marinate in your brain for a minute or two.
As for awards, I hope Houston quarterback Case Keenum used all that time off last season to build himself a trophy case because it looks as if he's going to need one. Keenum not only won the Heisman Trophy, but the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Davey O'Brien trophies to boot. That's what happens when you lead Houston to a 14-0 record yet still finish second in both polls.
Now, if that's not enough info for you, let's take a look at some of the season storylines by conference.
-- Jimbo Fisher hits the sophomore slump. Florida State doesn't even qualify for a bowl berth after finishing the year 5-7 with a 3-5 mark within the ACC. FSU loses to Oklahoma, Wake Forest, Maryland, NC State, Boston College, Miami and Florida. And of those losses, only the loss to Florida was by less than 10 points.
-- Al Golden has Miami on the right track. Sure, the Canes only went 8-5 during the season, but they did finish 6-2 in ACC play, just missing the ACC title game thanks to a 27-17 loss to North Carolina
-- Duke goes bowling! That's right, Duke finishes the year 7-6 with a 4-4 mark in the ACC, including a two-point win over UNC. Though the Dukies do lose to Florida in the Music City Bowl. I have no idea who Steve Spurrier was rooting for while watching.
-- Boston College is the "best" team in the Atlantic Division. The Eagles finish the year 8-6 with a 5-3 mark in the conference. They even nearly beat UNC in the title game, losing 29-27.
-- Oklahoma can't handle the pressure. The Sooners started out the year 7-0 before getting shocked by Kansas State on the road -- where else? -- 24-21. They also lost at Oklahoma State 38-24 to end the regular season and kill their hopes of a BCS berth.
-- Texas won't be terrible two years in a row. The Longhorns finish the season 11-2 with a 7-2 mark in the Big 12. Though they do lose to Oklahoma and Texas A&M, which stings a bit.
-- Where have you gone, Blaine Gabbert? Missouri needs you. The Tigers finished the season 4-8 with a 2-7 mark in the conference. Seems they're going to miss Colorado, Nebraska and the North Division.
-- The Big East is respectable. While no team in the conference finished the season with less than three losses (Pitt being the only with three), seven of the eight Big East schools won at least seven games, with Rutgers holding the only losing record.
-- Louisville can't finish. The Cardinals led the Big East most of the season before losing four of their last five games to finish 3-4 in the conference.
-- Casino or football field, Dana Holgorsen has a tough time winning anywhere this year. The Mountaineers went 2-5 in the Big East during his inaugural campaign.
-- Who needs Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor? Ohio State went 4-1 in its first five games of the season while so many of its playmakers sat out, and though the Buckeyes struggled in Big Ten play, they still finished the year 9-4 and got an at-large berth to the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and they still beat Michigan.
-- Not that Michigan minded all that much, because Brady Hoke made believers out of the faithful in his first year. That Michigan loss to Ohio State? That was the Wolverines only Big Ten loss of the regular season, as they went 7-1 to win the Legends Division.
-- Wisconsin loves Russell Wilson. Wilson and the Badgers tore up the Big Ten all year long until the final week of the regular season. Then, after being 11-0 and ranked #1 for the majority of the regular season, the Badgers fell at home to Penn State 42-28. Though I guess beating Michigan 34-13 in the first Big Ten Championship Game and then Oregon in the Rose Bowl took some of the sting out of it.
-- New kid Nebraska gets picked on. The Huskers went 3-5 in Big Ten play, even losing to Minnesota. Though that wasn't as embarrassing as the 13-7 loss to Ohio -- University, not State -- in the Texas Bowl.
-- USC isn't on probation in virtual reality. So the Trojans were able to win the Pac-12 South division, even if they did lose to Oregon 35-14 in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship.
-- Utah enjoyed their move more than Colorado. The Utes finished the season 5-4 in conference play while Colorado went 3-6.
-- Andrew Luck should have gone pro. Stanford and Luck were off to a very nice start to the season, opening 7-0. Then Luck broke his arm, missed the rest of the year and Stanford finished 10-3.
-- The East still stinks. Sure, South Carolina wins the national title, but no other SEC East team managed to win more than four games in the conference. Meanwhile, in the West, LSU had the worst season of anyone, going 7-6 with a 3-5 mark in the SEC. Les Miles needs to eat more grass.
-- Will Muschamp did OK. Florida finished the season 9-4 with a 4-4 mark in the SEC, though Charlie Weis' offense needs some work. The Gators never scored more than 21 points against a SEC opponent not named Vanderbilt.
-- Alabama needs to fire Nick Saban, PAAAAWWWWWWWL. Oh the indignity of Alabama's 2012 season. Not only did the Tide lose the SEC title game to South Carolina, but then they went and lost to North Carolina in the Orange Bowl. Since when does Alabama play in the Orange Bowl, PAAWWWWL? NICK SABAN HAS GOT TO GO.
-- Auburn doesn't miss Cam Newton as much as you'd think. Even without their Heisman winning quarterback, the Tigers still manage to go 8-5 with a 4-4 mark in the conference. Not great, but not terrible either.
-- TCU would like to get to the Big East ASAP. The Horned Frogs lose twice in 2012, and not just to Boise State. Unlike 2011, TCU wasn't able to escape San Diego State, losing 33-30 at Qualcomm Stadium.
-- Notre Dame is back! The Irish finish the year 10-3, and feature one of the most potent offenses in college football. Why they're painting Brian Kelly over Touchdown Jesus as you read this.
-- BYU finds independence to be constricting. The Cougars first season free of the shackles of conferencedom does not work out very well, as BYU finishes the year 4-8 and even loses to Utah State along the way.
-- While I already went over the disrespect Houston received, what about conference mate Southern Miss? The Golden Eagles finished the regular season 11-1 before losing to Houston in the C-USA title game, and they couldn't even sniff the Top 25.
And that's it. There's the entire 2011 season right there according to a video game. I suppose at this point there's no point in even watching any of the games. Now, if you don't mind me, I'm going to go try and wrap my head around Stephen Garcia leading South Carolina to a national championship.
Can you imagine that party?
Tags: ACC, Al Golden, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Auburn, BCS National Championship, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Boise State, Boston College, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, BYU, C-USA, Caleb King, Cam Newton, Case Keenum, Charlie Weis, Colorado, Dana Holgorsen, Duke, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Jim Tressel, Jimbo Fisher, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kyle Efaw, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, MAC, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, MWC, NC State, NCAA Football 12, Nebraska, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Pitt, Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson, Rutgers, San Diego State, SEC, Simulations, South Carolina, South Florida, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Sugar Bowl, Sun Belt, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Texas, Texas A&M, Troy, USC, USF, Utah, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Video Games, WAC, Wake Forest, WaShaun Ealey, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Will Muschamp, Wisconsin
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 11:02 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Check the time, we got another watch for you.
The Football Writers Association of America also released its 2011 Outland Trophy Watch list on Friday.
The trophy is awarded annually to the best interior lineman in college football. Only tackles, guards and centers from both sides of the ball (defensive tackles are included) are eligible for the award. Of the 65 players currently on the watch list, 16 of them are defensive tackles.
The Outland Trophy dates back to 1946 and is one of the oldest annual awards in college football.
This award honors the often-thankless positions that fight in the trenches and establish the line every Saturday. Last year's winner was Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.
Who do you have pegged as a favorite in 2011? Let us know in the comment section below.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, BYU, California, Cincinnati, Clemson, Colorado, Connecticut, Defensive Lineman, Florida, Florida State, Fresno State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Interior Lineman, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Offensive Lineman, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Outland Trophy, Outland Trophy Watch List, Pac-12, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Purdue, SMU, South Carolina, Standford, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, Troy, USC, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin