Tag:Mack Brown
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:21 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 6:36 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 7



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.

I've made a huge mistake.

The last few weeks, as I was clawing my way back into the race and approaching Woman, ready to pass her, I got overconfident. Sometimes the problem with being Man and being awesome is that it gets hard to control the ego once in a while. I did a terrible job of this last week, and because of it, I'm back in second place. I've now dropped a game behind Woman in the race, but it's okay. All I have to do is spew some cliches and I figure I'll be right back in this.

You know, going to take this competition one game at a time. Give them all 110%. So let's get to it for this week.

Michigan State (-3 1/2) vs Michigan - Saturday, 12pm (All times Eastern)

Man - This is a tough one to call. Michigan has played really well so far this season, but since 2008, Michigan State has had the Wolverines number. Combine that with the fact that the game is being played in East Lansing, and it makes me lean towards Sparty. And as I'm leaning, I remember that the Michigan defense has improved a lot stronger than any of us expected, and I remember how Michigan State's offense looked against Notre Dame. So I'm taking the points and saying that Michigan takes the state back on Saturday. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "Thank goodness, life at Michigan is back to normal, more Bo and Lloyd than Rich and Rod. But that doesn't mean no bumps in the road. Today's game is that bump. Spartans will win. Not as certain they'll cover." Pick: Michigan

Machine - It's a clean sweep as The Machine sees Michigan pulling off what looks to be quite the thriller. Fitzgerald Toussaint scores a touchdown in the final minutes to tie the game, and then scores a couple more touchdowns as Michigan wins 41-37 in double overtime. Pick: Michigan

Texas A&M (-9 1/2) vs. Baylor - Saturday, 12pm

Man - This one seems so simple to me that I'm actually a bit scared of it. Like Vegas knows something that the rest of us don't. Baylor and Robert Griffin have been lighting secondaries up all season long, and Texas A&M's secondary has been lit up all season long. I don't know if Baylor wins, but I have to think it covers that spread. Pick: Baylor

Woman - "Baylor will exact revenge on the field as well as off for the Aggies SEC defection. (Based on this secret video of the last Big 12 meeting between the schools' attorneys, it's gonna get real, y'all.)" Pick: Baylor

Machine - The Machine sees Texas A&M putting together its most complete game of the season as the Aggies take care of Baylor 38-21. Pick: Texas A&M

Mississippi State vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pm

Man - Sure, Connor Shaw isn't playing Kentucky this week, so life may not be as easy for him replacing Stephen Garcia this time around, but he still has Marcus Lattimore to turn around and give the ball to. Combine that with the fact that Mississippi State's offense has looked anything but potent this year, and I have to go with the Gamecocks. Pick: South Carolina

Woman - "Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier dumps his troubled QB mid-season, then bans a reporter for not towing the party line.  What the Gamecocks got is failure to communicate." Pick: Mississippi State 

Machine - Bring back Stephen Garcia! The Bulldogs roll 37-13. Pick: Mississippi State

Tennessee vs. LSU (-15 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Tennessee doesn't have Tyler Bray and it has to face the LSU defense? My prediction here is that Phil Simms is going to be really mad at Gary Danielson on Sunday. Pick: LSU

Woman - "Still riding Miles' Magical Mystery Tour. (Vols' loss at home last week to Georgia makes the ride easier.)" Pick: LSU

Machine - The Machine seems to have more faith in Matt Simms than either Woman and I do, but it's still not enough as LSU wins 28-17. Pick: Tennessee

Texas vs. Oklahoma State (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Texas was a bit exposed against Oklahoma last week, and I'm pretty sure that Oklahoma State noticed how well Landry Jones performed against that Longhorns defense. I see no reason why Brandon Weeden can't do the same this week, and although I feel that Texas will have more success on offense, it won't be able to keep up with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "Here's a stat from Burnt Orange Nation: In thirteen years at Texas, Mack Brown has never lost the game after the Red River Shootout.  Between that and points..." Pick: Texas 

Machine - The Machine sees a lot of angry Texas fans in the future. Oklahoma State tears Austin apart, winning 48-20. Pick: Oklahoma State

Illinois (-3 1/2) vs. Ohio State - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Is there an Option C? I mean, I either have to rely on an Ohio State offense that has looked terrible for most of the season to finally put together a complete game, or I have to give up points with a team that is coached by Ron Zook. Illinois has only beaten Ohio State once under Zook, but that was the year the team ended up in the Rose Bowl. Well, Illinois isn't going to the Rose Bowl this year. Pick: Ohio State

Woman - "Illinois is 6-0 with 2 division wins. Ohio State is .500 with two division losses. So this should be easy.  But I'm just waiting for that fateful day when Illinois pops a Zook. Like, this Saturday." Pick: Ohio State

Machine - Well it looks like Illinois' unbeaten season is coming to an end this weekend, as The Machine has Ohio State winning as well, 31-17. Pick: Ohio State

Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 6:30pm

Man - I haven't seen a whole lot of Wake Forest this season, but I have seen enough from Virginia Tech to be a bit leery about giving up over a touchdown on the road. I'm not sure if the Deacons knock off another ACC favorite this weekend, but I think they can keep it close. Pick: Wake Forest

Woman - "Wake Forest has quietly laid down four impressive wins in a row, and is 3-0 in the ACC.  Meanwhile, Virginia Tech,1-1 in the ACC, was last seen playing for its life against NFL farm club the Hurricanes.  Upset alert: The Hokies aren't going to see Wake Forest coming. (For the sake of illustration, let's say Virginia Tech is the TV news producer and Wake Forest is the turkey.)" Pick: Wake Forest 

Machine - Sorry, Wake Forest, but The Machine does not believe in Cinderella. Virginia Tech 48-10. Pick: Virginia Tech

Texas Tech (-3 1/2) vs. Kansas State - Saturday, 7pm

Man - As I said last week, I've become a firm believer in Bill Snyder and what the Wildcats are doing. Until they let me down, I'm not picking against them, especially if I'm getting points. Throw in the fact that Texas Tech has lost Eric Stephens for the season, and it only makes me more confident in this pick. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "Texas Tech's at home and out to avenge a painful loss to the Aggies last week.  Kansas State has yet to experience the agony of defeat this season. You're about to land in a tangled heap at the bottom of a ski slope, Wildcats." Pick: Texas Tech

Machine - The Machine sees Kansas State's unbeaten season coming to an end this weekend, but it has no knowledge of the Kansas State bus being covered in anything. Texas Tech wins 31-17. Pick: Texas Tech

Auburn (-1 1/2) vs. Florida - Saturday, 7pm

Man - I'm not comfortable at all with this pick, as neither team has done much to instill any confidence the last few weeks. Yes, Florida wasn't exactly facing the easiest competition in the world, but I'm not sure either quarterback is capable of taking full advantage of the Auburn secondary. That being said, I don't have much faith in the Auburn offense either. So I guess I'm just going with homefield advantage. Pick: Auburn

Woman - "I looked for something trending in either of these teams and none of it's very good.  The one thing that stands out is how Florida couldn't put more than one touchdown on the board either of the last two weeks.  That doesn't speak too well for its QB-by-committee approach and I can't see how that'll change in a hostile Jordan-Hare." Pick: Auburn

Machine - Chris Rainey saves the day for Florida with a 73-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Gators a 27-21 win. Pick: Florida

Oregon (-15 1/2) vs. Arizona State - Saturday 10:15pm

Man - This game would normally be easy for me to pick because, aside from Stanford, I just don't think there's anybody else in the Pac-12 that can hang with the Ducks. The problem is that Arizona State kept things close enough against Oregon last season, but that game was played in Tempe, and Autzen Stadium is a different beast entirely. I also worry about the absence of LaMichael James, but the Ducks have enough weapons on offense and know how to use all of them that James' absence may not be a major problem. So I'm going with the Ducks, even if I had to think about it a little. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "Forget football, who's going to win the Style Bowl? Two fashion dynamos go padded shoulder to shoulder this weekend and like everyone knows, in football, as in fashion, one week you're in and the next, you're OUT.  Oregon has shown an ability to transform even basic black into something original, and last week's eye-popping green with the retro duck made everything old seem new again.  ASU, on the other hand, is stuck with a hopelessly dated color palette and when they tried doing something different with black? Well, auf wiedersehen, ASU. But before you air kiss Heidi, I'll take the points." Pick: Arizona State

Machine - There are going to be a lot of points scored in Eugene on Saturday night, but The Machine sees the Ducks getting the majority of them. Oregon wins 55-38. Pick: Oregon

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Woman 41-24 (7-3)
2. Man 40-25 (6-4)
3. Machine 34-31 (5-5) 
Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Texas safety giving up football

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nolan Brewster is a backup safety for the Texas Longhorns who suffered a concussion during Texas' win against UCLA last weekend. It was not the first time Brewster has suffered a concussion, as he says he's had a history of them along with post-traumatic migraines since he was in high school. This latest concussion, though, Brewster is hoping it will be his last.

The Longhorns announced on Monday that Brewster was giving up football.

“We’re disappointed for Nolan, and I know it was a really difficult decision for him and his family,” said head coach Mack Brown. “I’ve known him since he was a little kid and know he loves this place and playing football for Texas, so this is a tough deal, but his health is the most important thing.”

Brewster had played in all three games for the Longhorns this year, and has played in 30 games in his career. Mack Brown has said that Brewster will remain a part of the Texas program and help the staff.

Brewster is the son of former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 6:59 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Texas 49 UCLA 20

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS WON. The Longhorns got some revenge on the Bruins following last season's 34-12 loss in Austin, as the first game of the post-Garrett Gilbert Era went extremely well for Mack Brown and company. Thanks to the Texas offense limiting turnovers -- 1 of Texas' two fumbles came on a kick return -- and efficient performances from both Case McCoy and David Ash, along with another strong game from the Longhorns defense, Bevo and company never had to break much of a sweat.

WHY TEXAS WON. As I alluded to above, while the Texas offense didn't exactly blow the petals off the Rose Bowl, it was efficient and didn't make a lot of mistakes. It also took advantage of 4turnovers from the UCLA offense while using a nice balance of the running and passing attack. In fact, thanks largely to Fozzy Whittaker and Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns rushed for 287 yards. Keep getting performances like that out of the ground game, and it won't matter much who's playing quarterback.

WHEN TEXAS WON. The Longhorns jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter which settled this one rather early, but things weren't really complete until the third quarter. That was when Fozzy Whittaker broke free for a 36-yard touchdown run to extend Texas' lead to 42-20 after UCLA had cut it to a two-possession game.

WHAT TEXAS WON. Confidence on offense. I don't want to kick Garrett Gilbert while he's down, but the simple fact of the matter is that the Texas offense has just looked a lot better since he was replaced by the combination of McCoy and Ash against BYU last week. It's not perfect by any means, and McCoy and Ash are bound to make mistakes at some point, but both are just doing a better job of executing Bryan Harsin's game plan right now. Most importantly, they aren't turning the ball over, and with Texas' defense, that goes a long way.

WHAT UCLA LOST. A chance for a big win against a strong program, and quite possibly a chance at a bowl game this season. UCLA begins Pac-12 play next week, and with road games against Stanford, Arizona, Utah and USC on the slate this year, the Bruins may find it pretty hard to pick up 5 more wins with their schedule. And if they don't, that won't bode well for Rick Neuheisel's shot of returning next season.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:03 am
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 2

Posted by Bryan Fischer

College football's encore weekend not only lived up to expectations, but beat them.

It also caused at least few hearts to skip a beat or two around the country. It seemed like every channel you were on, there was a game coming down to the wire or ready to head to overtime. From the noon games to the night games, last Saturday was one big, drama-filled day.

Notre Dame-Michigan, USC-Utah, Cal-Colorado, Washington-Hawaii, North Carolina-Rutgers, Auburn-Mississippi State, Ohio State-Toledo, Texas-BYU, Iowa State-Iowa, Vanderbilt-UConn and several others left everyone on the edge of their seats. There weren't a ton of great defenses among the group but that didn't hamper the fun as teams either came back or fell just short. Heck, the first night game in Ann Arbor had as much drama as any of them in just 72 seconds.

One game I was really looking forward to going into Saturday was between the Hedges and that game more than lived up to expectations and put one coach in even hotter water.

The game seemed to be South Carolina personified. It's why everybody's hand trembled writing them in to win the SEC East this year. Not only was it the Gamecocks' history but they had a quarterback who frustrated fans and Old Ball Coaches alike in Stephen Garcia. When he threw his first interception of the game, it was simply Garcia being Garcia. The ESPN director, as if he understood perfectly, cut to a shot of Garcia with his hands on his hips, staring down his mistake while clinching his lips and a coach yelling at him. Later in the game he rolled out of the pocket and threw a beautiful pass that reminded everybody of his talent. Again, just Garcia being Garcia.

This is a good and very talented Gamecocks team that can beat anybody on any given Saturday if they don't wind up beating themselves first.

“Georgia outplayed us, give them credit, they outplayed us but somehow or another we won the game,” Steve Spurrier said post game. “Somehow it happens like that. Somebody was looking out for us tonight.”

Running back Marcus Lattimore broke out for 176 yards and a touchdown as the team rode him for 27 carries. USC will have to be wearing of overusing Lattimore because he's the key to their success but at least he had 10 fewer carries than he did against the Bulldogs a year ago. His ability to find just a little hole and take off is special and he certainly can run very hard between the tackles.

On the other side of the ball, how scary is the Gamecocks' defensive line? We knew it was going to be good but maybe not quite this nasty. Melvin Ingram was superb, taking a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown and scooping up a fumble for a touchdown after fellow end Jadeveon Clowney nearly took off the head of UGA quarterback Aaron Murray. Only in the SEC do 275-pound defensive ends score twice in a game and run 68 yards while doing so.

The thing about Clowney, the nation's consensus number one recruit out of high school, is how he stands out on every snap just due to his size. Then, as soon as the ball is snapped, he stands out for his explosiveness and physicality - making you drop your job and say 'Wow' a couple of times a game. Heck, Murray might want to leave school early just to get away from him. Clowney still isn't up to speed mentally but it's coming and coming quickly. If you're an SEC quarterback with South Carolina on the schedule, prepare your ice bath in advance.

For Mark Richt, he might have to go bang his head against the wall a few times after every game. He's had injuries and suspensions and even NCAA issues thrown his way but there's still no getting around the fact that this is a good group of players who haven't lived up to expectations. Just when it seemed like Georgia was about to break through, they'd commit a big error. The good news is it looked like freshman running back Isaiah Crowell got going, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown after breaking a few nice runs into the open field. But even as he took two steps forward, his fumble at midfield that Stephon Gilmore returned to the red zone was a step back. He's still a little behind in pass protection but the flashes he showed reminded everybody, coaches included, why he was so highly recruited out of high school.

The biggest thing that Richt can do next week is get his team to have fun against Coastal Carolina. There will be no avoiding hearing about his job status as the heat was turned up even higher after the loss - he has to get his team refocused before starting the heart of their SEC schedule. Get everybody involved, call some trick plays, something - anything - to get his team focused on having fun playing football instead of worrying about him. He can't eliminate all the distractions but he can get his team to buy back in week-by-week. The schedule is manageable enough that they could conceivably go 10-2 this year - more than enough to quiet critics for a few more months. The Bulldogs are talented but lost to two teams they should have to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.

Now the trick is winning out using their own talented roster. No easy task but one that can certainly happen.

Stat of the week

If I had to take someone to Vegas with me, I just might select Gene Chizik. All he seems to do is give heart attack to the Auburn faithful and win last second games. The Tigers pulled off the upset this week against Mississippi State thanks to a goal line stand that kept quarterback Chris Relf out of the end zone by inches to preserve a 41-34 win at home.

"We'd prefer to win football games a lot different than we are, but there's something to be said when you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still win the game," Chizik said after the game.

While the head coach certainly would prefer a less stressful ending to games, he might need to get used to them if his team is to keep winning. After taking nearly two hours just to play the first half against the Bulldogs, I was digging around looking for the total game time but managed to find an even more eye-popping stat.

Auburn's offense has averaged 56.5 plays during their first two games while the defense has averaged 90.5 snaps per game. Yes, the defense is almost literally on the field twice as long the offense. For a young team with issues on both sides of the ball, that's an uh-oh.

For comparison's sake, Arkansas has averaged 74.5 plays on offense and 57.5 on defense during their light non-conference schedule. Only two SEC teams have average more than 70 snaps on defense, and just six teams nationally have their defense on the field for more than 80 plays a game. No one even approaches 90 defensive plays a game. The national average for number of plays on defense is 67.3 and 68.8 on offense.

Up against that little issue, it's almost shocking Auburn's 2-0 but they are thanks to some late game heroics. Whether this is a serious flaw of just the byproduct of two crazy games remains to be seen but, bottom-line, Chizik needs to make some adjustments.

Other stats of note

- Michigan's Denard Robinson thrilled the country against Notre Dame and became the first UM quarterback to beat the Irish twice since Jim Harbaugh did so back in the late 1980's. He also has accounted for an astounding 96% of the offense the last two games between the schools.

- Texas has outscored its opponents 35-6 in the second half while USC outscored their opponent in the 4th quarter for just the fourth time in 15 games this weekend.

- Tyler Bray's 405 yards are the most for a Tennessee quarterback since the legend himself, Peyton Manning, wore orange. Bray finished 34-of-41 and tossed four touchdowns. Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers both had 10 catches for over 100 yards and the pair combined for three TD receptions.

- In the last 11 years, the Georgia-South Carolina series has only been decided by nine points or less eight times. Since 2004, the winner has had fewer than 20 points every year but 2009 and 2011.

- Alabama has not allowed a touchdown in the first quarter for seven straight games.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is a tackling machine once again this year. He has a nation's-best 35 total tackles while the next closest player has 27.

Yard-by-yard

- What an impressive, almost surgical attack led by Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys' offense came out and pretty much blew away the Arizona secondary on Thursday en route to a 37-14 win in Stillwater. Weeden connected on his 13 passes and finished up with a ho-hum 397 yards after slowing down in the second half. He's flown under the radar a little bit (even in his own state) but in 15 starts, he has only two losses by a total of 16 points. It's sometime easy to say a lot of his success is due to receiver Justin Blackmon but Weeden is the triggerman for what the team does. This team can also run the ball pretty well - Joseph Randle is 15th in the country in rushing - and should make for a fun Big 12 regular season when they play fellow top 15 teams Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

- Senior writer Bruce Feldman touched on FIU in his Sunday column but what a win for Mario Cristobal's program. Their win over Louisville was the first win ever for the program over BCS team and showed that the Golden Panthers are more than just the dynamic all-purpose superstar T.Y. Hilton. They take on another rising in-state program in UCF this week and if they can pull off the upset, a run at going undefeated isn't out of the question. It will be tough to stop the Knights but FIU has the athletes and coaches to make it a game.

- Speaking of Louisville, their game against Kentucky might be downright unwatchable. Louisville is a mess offensively and their defense is suspect. Luckily for Charlie Strong, they'll face a Kentucky team that has serious issues with both lines. It's going to really be rough once the Wildcats get into SEC play this year if they continue to play as sloppy as they have been during their first two games. Fans from both schools are probably counting down the days until basketball season already.

- If there's one thing that might be different under Luke Fickell at Ohio State, it's the offense is involving the tight end more. Senior Jake Stoneburner came into the season with 22 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Through two games this season he has eight catches for 93 yards and four TD's and seems to be one of quarterback Joe Bauserman's favorite targets. The Buckeyes haven't look completely in rhythm on offense but that's not Stoneburner's fault.

- Not sure what to make of Texas' win over BYU other than it's a baby step back to respectability. Garrett Gilbert's not who Mack Brown wanted him to be coming out of camp, looking shaky again with some bad decisions before being pulled for David Ash and Case McCoy. Using Ash in some zone read situations was a good change of pace and was a productive play with their speed at running back - a group that finally got going, including freshman Malcolm Brown. The defense still is a concern, as BYU seemed to pick apart the middle of the field. Might take awhile for everybody to get comfortable with Manny Diaz' system but there's some talent on the team. Baby steps.

- Two quarterbacks in the Northwest were rolling this weekend. In Oregon, Darron Thomas and the Ducks offense seemed to be back in their normal sixth-gear against Nevada. Thomas had just 13 attempts - after throwing for 54 against LSU - but six of them were for touchdowns on Saturday. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas had over 200 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. He's a small but tough back who has speed to burn, should be fun to see what Chip Kelly does with him as he learns more of the playbook.

At Washington, Keith Price got the Huskies off to a 2-0 start by throwing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. He connected on his first eight throws and has spread the ball around to a good receiving group well. Things got a little tight against Hawaii but Price and running back Chris Polk kept the Huskies moving. This team may not be a top 15-caliber squad but they're certainly going to give others fits if they can stop playing down to their competition at times.

- I was a bit shocked to see that Clemson opened up as a favorite against Auburn this week, their own issues aside. Dabo Swinney's club struggled against Wafford and things are not going to get any easier. The offense is productive in the stat sheet but in they're still struggling to adjust to Chad Morris' system. The rush defense in particular is very concerning, ranking 107th in the country after two games against a Sun Belt and an FCS opponent.

- Several people in the Alabama program told me that the Crimson Tide defense might be the best ever under Nick Saban. After watching two games, I think they're close to being right. The score was a bit closer than expected against Penn State at 27-11 but this is a very good group. They look faster and deeper than the national championship squad a couple of years ago and are not the opposing quarterback's best friend, to say the least.

Pulling Rank

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Texas A&M

6. Stanford

7. Wisconsin

8. Florida State

9. Oklahoma State

10. South Carolina

Where we'll be this week

I'll be out at the Ineligible Bowl, Ohio State at Miami on Saturday. Senior writer Brett McMurphy is in Tallahassee for the top five showdown of Oklahoma and Florida State.

Across the goal line

There were a series of firsts in the USC-Utah game I was at this weekend. Trojans kicker Andre Heidari recorded the first points in Pac-12 conference history while teammate Marc Tyler will be in the record books for scoring the first touchdown. Thanks to their 17-14 win over the Utes, USC won the final Pac-10 game and the very first Pac-12 game.

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Wait, excuse me, thanks to their 23-14 victory.

In many ways, the first ever Pac-12 conference game - which wasn't really true because Colorado and Cal played earlier that day in an overtime "non-conference" game - featured many of the same elements of its Pac-10 predecessors. There were big plays on offense, a close game, USC on national (cable) television at night and, oh yeah, an officiating controversy.

As I walked down the steps of the Coliseum toward the field right before their drive, I kept thinking this was a welcome to the conference moment for Utah. Boy was it ever.

I was about 10 yards away when, on 4th down, DeVonte Christopher caught an in-route that seemed to fall just short of the first down marker. It seemed like a bad spot but the refs said it was a turnover on downs. Then they reviewed it, remarked the spot and gave Utah a first down. Saved by Pac-10… er, -12 replay officials.

Then there was the pass interference call on the next play. That set up the Utes' field goal attempt. I couldn't quite see the holder but was looking at the middle of the line in case the kick was blocked. Next thing I know the ball is bouncing right into the hands of USC corner Torin Harris and he's off to the end zone. The crowd and sidelines were going crazy as he raced to the end zone. I turned to talk to a colleague and saw a few players run out to get a better angle on the return. Seconds later I saw the flag, then the announcement that the game was over. The touchdown didn't count, but the game was over.

What just happened I wondered. Duty, however, called as I tried to grab a few players to talk about the win (or, in the case of the Utes, loss). I kept thinking how close Utah had gotten and, in their first conference game, they had played like they belonged despite coming up short in the win column. They came into a storied venue and almost knocked off the conference's most storied program. Utah is a good team that was well coached but wasn't quite good enough on a beautiful Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Then there was a tweet that popped up as I got back to the press box to begin transcribing. Hold your horses, the score was in question. The Pac-12 was reviewing what happened at the end of the game. As Michael Lev of the O.C. Register noted down on the field, the touchdown had huge implications for bettors across the country with USC favored by 8-8.5 points.

That's when the story changed from Utah being not quite good enough to, apparently, the Pac-12 officials "miss-communicating" and they were actually nine points from being good enough.

It was an unusual ending that I'm still trying to get my head around because the score itself changed after the fact - regardless what the conference says. The Caesars, MGM and Wynn sports books apparently stayed with the 17-14 result. The Hilton, Cantor, South Point sports books switched to 23-14. Some honored both. If you threw away a winning ticket, that is a bad beat that will be with you for a long time.

A finish that was wild, unbelievable and involved money. In a roundabout way, the first ever Pac-12 game got me very prepared for the Ineligible Bowl next week.

I knew you were good Larry Scott, didn't know you were this good.

Posted on: September 10, 2011 10:41 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 24 Texas 17, BYU 16


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

TEXAS WON: 
It wasn't always a thing of beauty -- in fact, it was very rarely a thing of beauty -- but after 2010, no doubt Mack Brown will take it. The Longhorn defense held their visitors from Provo to just three points over the game's final 43 minutes, enabling an inconsistent 'Horn offense to slowly erase an early 13-0 deficit. Brown will no doubt be particularly pleased by that offense's effort on the ground--the notoriously ground-shy 'Horns ground out 167 yards on 42 attempts, controlling the clock with freshman Malcolm Brown (68 yards) and backup quarterback David Ash (36).

WHY TEXAS WON: 
In the end, the Cougars didn't have much of an answer once Texas fully committed to their running game. The 'Horns two second-half touchdown drives featured run-pass ratios of 5-to-2 and 5-to-3, with another second-half drive checking in at 9-to-3 and eating up 6 minutes before ending on downs in BYU territory. Texas also ended the game with back-to-back first downs mostly earned on the ground.

But those drives also wouldn't have been quite as successful without some measure of balance, and that balance was due in large part to Jaxon Shipley. Shipley finished with just three receptions, but all of them came at key moments in the second half (including a critical 3rd-and-9 conversion on the game-winning touchdown drive). And for good measure, he also played a key role in the Bryan Harsin/Boise State special that ended the game; it was Shipley who took a Wildcat handoff and threw back to Ash for the icing first down. 

Texas still needs a dramatic amount of improvement in the passing game; nominal quarterback starter Garrett Gilbert was a disaster, completing as many of his eight passes to BYU (2) as he did to his own receivers. But backup Case McCoy provided a lift, completing 7-of-8 for 57 yards. Not that the rest of college football will want to hear it, but McCoy-to-Shipley could provide the foundation for that improvement.

WHEN TEXAS WON: The Shipley-to-Ask trick play put things beyond doubt, but it was Quandre Diggs' interception of Jake Heaps on the Cougars' previous possession that more-or-less finished things; as gassed as the Cougars were by that stage and as well as Texas was running the ball, the Longhorns running the little remaining clock dry was all but a foregone conclusion.

WHAT TEXAS WON: Thanks to their obvious issues on offense and BYU's own relative lack of firepower in their two games, the victory may not move the Longhorns' needle all that much where the polls or expectations are concerned. But this was also the kind of game that Brown's team would have found a way to lose last year, particularly after falling behind 13-0, and every week that goes by without a loss is another week for the young 'Horns to improve, adjust to Harsin and Manny Diaz, and prepare for the bigger challenges to come.

WHAT BYU LOST: Whatever slim hopes BYU might have had for a crazy BCS bowl run in their first year of independence, we guess. But this is also two straight weeks with a single offensive touchdown; while the Cougars have proven themselves capable of grinding out first downs and extended drives, Bronco Mendenhall may have to work on his team's confidence in either finishing those drives or finding the occasional big play.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:35 am
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 am
 

Connor Wood transfers to Colorado

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Connor Wood is leaving Texas.

Wood was one of the four quarterbacks competing this spring and fall to be Texas' starting quarterback along with David Ash, Case McCoy and incumbent starter Garrett Gilbert. Well, when the first depth chart was released earlier this week, Gilbert's name was once again on top, and Connor's name was absent as he wasn't even in the top three. Which was a pretty good indication to Wood that if he wanted to play football, he'd likely have to do it somewhere besides Austin.

And it seems Colorado is that somewhere. Texas released a statement saying that Wood had left the program for the former Big 12 school on Wednesday night.

“We appreciate everything Connor has brought to our program,” head coach Mack Brown said in a statement. “He is a tremendous young man and is a great teammate and student. We hate to see him leave, but at the same time we understand his desire to play. We hope for nothing but the best for him and look forward to following his career at Colorado.”

Wood released a statement of his own as well.

“I want to thank Coach (Mack) Brown, Coach (Bryan) Harsin, all of the coaches, and my teammates for the opportunity to play at a great school like The University of Texas,” Wood said. “I loved playing for UT and gave it my all, but I felt I needed to seek a new opportunity. I will always cherish the memories and friends I developed as a Longhorn, but I’m excited about the next chapter in my life and looking forward to playing at the University of Colorado.”

Wood came to Texas as one of the top quarterback recruits in the 2010 class. As per NCAA rules, he'll have to sit out a season before he's eligible to play for Colorado, but will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2012.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Garrett Gilbert named Texas' starting QB

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In just another indicator of how close we are to actual football games being played, the biggest quarterback question in the Big 12 was finally answered on Monday morning. The Texas Longhorns announced that Garrett Gilbert will be the team's starting quarterback when they line up against Rice on Saturday in Austin.

Gilbert had been in a battle with Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash since the spring, but Gilbert has won the fight. For now at least. McCoy is currently listed behind Gilbert on the depth chart.

I say Gilbert is the starter for now because from most of the reports I read and heard about the position this spring and fall, Gilbert wasn't exactly blowing anybody away in camp. Throw in the fact that Gilbert threw only 10 touchdown passes compared to 17 interceptions last season as the Longhorns finished 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game, and I'm not sure he can be counted on to keep the job.

I'm of the opinion that Gilbert will improve in his second season as a starter, but if he's still not playing well enough or turning the ball over, I don't think Mack Brown will wait very long to pull the trigger on a switch. Texas doesn't want to endure another season like 2010. 
Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 7:05 pm
 

NCAA is watching The Longhorn Network. Closely.

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The controversal Longhorn Network launches Friday at 6 p.m. central time but before taking the air (to only a handful of minor cable operators) the NCAA wanted to deliver a message to ESPN and Texas about their joint venture before flipping the switch: We're watching you. Very, very closely.

The NCAA is monitoring content on the Longhorn Network and its news coverage of high school sports. With respect to NCAA bylaws as the Association has continued to review the issue, acceptable content is limited to scores, statistics, standings and news video used to report those details. 

We will continue to monitor the Longhorn Network to determine if the content is produced within those guidelines.

After being denied the chance to televise high school games, network executives later announced they would instead limit programming to highlights of selected games. This, ESPN has argued, is allowable because they are news and don't fall under the broad definition of high school programming. Seems like the NCAA is making sure all parties realize there are some limits to this however.

So for now the NCAA is sitting back in their recliners and watching an All-Access look into Mack Brown's program and the latest news about the Longhorn swim team, keeping an eye out for programming that goes beyond the lines.

Illustration by Tom Fornelli

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