Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:55 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 7:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
PASADENA, Calif. -- Granddaddy of them all? Try granddaddy of all the offense.
Oregon and Wisconsin traded touchdowns so quickly at the Rose Bowl Monday afternoon that even Baylor and Washington were a little impressed, setting a host of bowl records in the first half.
Amid the pageantry and picturesque setting you expect in Pasadena at the start of a new year, Wisconsin won the toss and made the unusual move to take the ball to open the game. The Badgers had a gashing first drive, with Montee Ball close to breaking several long runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson effectively used the play action to roll out and hit a streaking Abbrederis for a 38-yard touchdown on an impressive opening drive.
Oregon answered right back, as Darron Thomas, with a Badger defender in his face, threw off his back foot to hit Lavasier Tuieni for a big gain to the one-yard line on the Ducks' opening drive. LaMichael James punched it in for a touchdown up the middle on the next play and it was away… we… go...
A big run by Ball was the answer for Wisconsin on their next drive, capped by a spin move that netted him a few extra yards that moved the Badgers into scoring position. Wilson did the rest near the goal line, running in a touchdown unopposed off of a bootleg to get Wisconsin a 14-7 lead with over five minutes left in the 1st quarter.
Electrifying freshman De'Anthony Thomas ended the 1st quarter on a high note, taking an inside handoff 91-yards for a touchdown by showing off his speed and pulling away from the Wisconsin defense. It was a Rose Bowl record run, breaking the 88-yarder Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley had in 1993. It also gave the two teams a new record for combined points in the 1st quarter of the bowl.
That wasn't the only record to fall in Pasadena on a hot Southern California day (the 82 degrees at kickoff was the sixth-highest in the game's history). Ball took a handoff off to the left side for a three-yard touchdown run to tie Barry Sanders' FBS-record for touchdowns in a season with 39.
Sanders immediately congratulated Ball on Twitter right after the play, "Congrats @M_Ball28 - I love that it was a go-ahead TD."
De'Anthony Thomas took the kickoff back to midfield and, on the very next play, Darron Thomas found Kenjon Barner on a wheel route for a 54-yard touchdown pass to tie things up again at 21. At that point, Oregon was averaging over 14 yards per play.
Wisconsin took over and Ball was stuffed for no gain on a 3rd and short at the 17. Head coach Bret Bielema opted to keep the offense on the field to go for it and Wilson dropped back off a play-action fake but pressure forced him to be flushed from the pocket before Kiko Alonso ultimately sacked him near the sideline for one of the few early defensive plays of the game.
The Wisconsin defense stepped up on the next series though. On third down, Darron Thomas was sacked and fumbled the ball, which Louis Nzegwu scooped and scored a 33-yard touchdown to put the Badgers ahead 28-21.
Thomas and the Ducks responded with an impressive drive that featured several sharp pass plays to get into the red zone. Then the signal-caller faked a short run on third and goal following a timeout and found Tuinei in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left in the half.
The 56 combined points was a new Rose Bowl record and the two teams had 631 yards of total offense - good for 8.8 yards per play.
Like I said, granddaddy of all the offense.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 9:19 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: Connor Shaw plays in Orlando the way he has back home at Brice-Williams Stadium. With Marcus Lattimore out and Alshon Jeffery only narrowly showing up on the side of a milk carton, Shaw emerged as the Gamecocks No. 1 offensive threat down the stretch, peaking in the season finale vs. Clemson with a 14-of-20, 210-yard, 3 TD, no pick, 107 rushing yard MVP performance. But that wasn't all that unusual for Shaw when it came to playing in Columbia; in the four games he played at home (plus a cameo against Vanderbilt), Shaw was 63-for-91 (69 percent) for 9.1 yards an attempt and a 10-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, not to mention 341 of his 482 rushing yards. Away from Brice-Williams? Shaw was 49-of-80 (61 percent) for 4.8 yards an attempt and a 2-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio.
Nebraska has struggled mightily with offenses led by dual-threat quarterbacks like Shaw, giving up 418 yards to Denard Robinson's Michigan, 468 to Dan Persa's Northwestern, 486 to Russell Wilson's Wisconsin. If Shaw treats the neutral Citrus Bowl like a home venue, he should have more than enough leeway from the Huskers D to propel the Gamecocks to victory. If he has a relapse of those road blues, though, it's not like there's a whole lot else on the Gamecock offense to save him.
NEBRASKA WILL WIN IF: they can open up some running holes. This is easier said than done, of course; the Gamecocks boast a veteran senior starter at DT in Travian Robertson and arguably the nation's best set of defensive ends in Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor, and Jadeveon Clowney. But Carolina still finished just 44th in rush defense nationally and sixth in the SEC, giving up 130 yards or more on the ground in seven different games. The option attacks of Navy and the Citadel, in particular, gave them fits, a promising development for the Huskers' read option looks with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead.
But if Martinez and Burkhead can't get it going -- if Robertson can't be moved out of the middle, if Ingram, Taylor and Clowney blow up the option -- the Huskers will be in trouble. Martinez's struggles as a passer meant that when Nebraska ran for 180 yards or more, they were a perfect 9-0. When they didn't? They went an equally imperfect 0-3. Where the Huskers are concerned, it's go nuts on the ground, or go bust.
THE X-FACTOR: Whether or not Carolina wants to play this game. For all the good Steve Spurrier has done at South Carolina, he hasn't yet solved the dilemma of how to get his Gamecocks ready for the postseason; he's 1-4 with the 'Cocks overall and winless against BCS competition, with the last three losses coming by an average of 14.3 points. It goes more-or-less without saying that even with this being Spurrier's first 10-win team with Carolina, they're still nowhere good enough to no-show and still beat a nine-win Big Ten team like Nebraska.
Tags: Alshon Jeffery, Big Ten, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Devin Taylor, Jadeveon Clowney, Jerry Hinnen, Keys to the Game, Marcus Lattimore, Melvin Ingram, Michigan, Navy, Nebraska, Northwestern, Rex Burkhead, Russell Wilson, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Taylor Martinez, the Citadel, Travian Robertson, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin
Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 6:06 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A tumultuous season for Derek Dooley and the Tennessee Volunteers has bled into what's already a tumultuous offseason, with coaching changes, alleged suspensions, and now a one-time star recruit asking for a contentious release from the program.
According to multiple reports, freshman wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett has asked for a release from his scholarship and intends to transfer out of the Volunteer program. A Saginaw, Mich. native, Arnett is looking to transfer to a school somewhere in Michigan to be closer to his ailing father, whose picture Arnett tweeted a photo of Thursday afternoon.
Tennessee has since confirmed Arnett's request and agreed to the release--but with conditions attached, as the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports. According to an e-mail sent by Arnett to ESPN, the Volunteers have refused to release him to the state's BCS-level programs (Michigan and Michigan State), and the statement from Tennessee spokesman Jimmy Stanton would seem to confirm this:
"We're not denying him a release to be near his family, get a good education and play Division I football at the same time, but we do have a policy of not releasing players to schools we either play or recruit against," Stanton said Thursday. "Where he's from, there are several good D-I schools nearby that would be good options to play football, get a good education and keep him near his family."
Not surprisingly, Arnett is less than happy with that decision:
"Coach Dooley, myself or anybody doesn't know what the future holds for my father," Arnett said in the email. "I feel that I represented the University of Tennessee the best way I can on and off the field and I feel I have earned the right to be released unconditional to all schools in Michigan."
Quite frankly, we don't blame him; unless Arnett has forfeited his good standing with Dooley and the Vols through some kind of unreported off-the-field incident, refusing to allow him to play on scholarship at Arnett's school of choice while he helps care for an ill parent strikes us as stunningly petty. Whatever benefit is gained from Tennessee playing keep-away from noted recruiting rivals Michigan and Michigan State (if you say so, Mr. Stanton), is it really worth punishing Arnett for doing nothing wrong? (Nothing "wrong" other than wanting out of Knoxville, anyway.) This is also nothing new for Dooley, who previously refused a release to the late Aaron Douglas unless he transferred to a location eight hours' drive away, and kept Bryce Brown off of scholarship at Kansas State for a year while refusing him a release as well.
A highly sought-after four-star recruit, Arnett played in all 12 games his freshman season, finishing third on the team in receptions with 24 and fourth in yards with 242.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The Rose Bowl almost always lines up one of the bowl season's best matchups, and this year is no different as Wisconsin and Oregon offer up a mouthwatering contrast in equally hyper-effective offensive styles. The Sugar Bowl, meanwhile, took plenty of heat for pairing Michigan and particularly Virginia Tech teams that ranked near the bottom of the BCS eligibility pool, but any game that features a matchup of dual-threat quarterbacks like Denard Robinson and Logan Thomas is still must-see TV.
In this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, we preview both bowl games and break down the key factors -- can Wisconsin pass? Can Denard stay accurate? Which Hokie offense will show up? -- that might swing the games one direction or the other. To listen, click below, download the mp3, or pop out the player in a new window by clicking here. Remember that all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:54 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen and Adam Jacobi
College basketball's ACC-Big Ten Challenge? It's nice and all, but so 2007 (or so). So leave it to Larry Scott and Jim Delany to engineer the 2017 version -- and do it on the gridiron.
Scott's Pac-12 and Delany's Big Ten announced Wednesday that they have reached a formal nonconference scheduling agreement across all sports, with the football version starting five seasons from now in 2017. All 12 teams in each league will play one team in the other as part of their nonconference schedule.
"This makes a lot of sense," Scott told the USA Today, "in terms of continuing to broaden our exposure and improving programming and improving the caliber of our schools' matchups."
“As other conferences continue to grow through expansion, we believe there is great merit in deepening the historic relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12,” said Delany. “We believe that both conferences can preserve that sense of collegiality and still grow nationally by leveraging our commonalities in a way that benefits student-athletes, fans and alumni. This collaboration can and will touch many institutional undertakings, and will complement our academic and athletic missions.”
The leagues have yet to reach a consensus on some issues of arrangement, from what the series will be called to how the teams will be paired up (and sites assigned) to where the games will be televised. But the "Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge" nonetheless promises to make an immediate, seismic impact on the nonconference profile of both leagues, and should provide plenty of high-stakes, must-see viewing for both leagues' respective TV networks.
That doesn't mean there won't be drawbacks. The Rose Bowl will now run the small but tangible risk of repeating a regular-season matchup, for one. For another, with both conferences committed to nine-game league schedules, another fixed non-conference matchup will leave schools with annual non-league rivalries (think Michigan or USC, and their series with Notre Dame) with just one open "breather" date to fill on their schedules.
To that end, Scott has stated that the Pac-12 will remain committed to its nine-game schedule, but Delany told USA Today the Big Ten will "likely rethink the move," and if that sounds like a polite way of saying "it's out," it should be no surprise that Pete Thamel reports the Big Ten will stick with its eight-game schedule now instead.
Speaking as college football fans, the lack of juicy non-conference games has been a creeping menace to the quality of college football seasons -- just look at the dreck that fills SEC non-conference schedules every September (and mid-November) -- and Scott and Delany deserve major commendations for their part in fighting that problem head-on.
"This will add a tough, high-quality opponent," Scott said. "Certainly, it creates a tougher path (to the national championship game). But the benefits, we think, outweigh the fact it's far more challenging."
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Posted on: December 27, 2011 4:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Sugar Bowl.
Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan vs. Virginia Tech defense
When it comes to stopping the Michigan offense, you essentially have to cut the head off the snake, and Denard Robinson is clearly that head. When considering that Robinson is a dual-threat, it's up to your entire defense as a whole, not just the defensive line, linebackers or secondary. Since Robinson can beat you in so many ways, it takes all 11 players on defense to stop him. Something that isn't very easy to do considering that Robinson finished the regular season averaging 268.3 yards per game.
The best way for Virginia Tech to keep Robinson in check would probably be to force him to throw the ball more often than not. While Denard threw for 2,056 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, he also threw 14 interceptions and completed only 56% of his passes. So while his arm is dangerous, it's not nearly as dangerous as the legs that help him scoot down the field at lightning speed.
How do you do this? Well, it starts with the defensive line. First and foremost, the Hokies have to shut down Fitzgerald Toussaint and put Michigan in passing situations. If they can do that, then the focus turns on to how to handle Robinson.
When facing a quarterback like Robinson, it's probably better not to get too much pressure on him. Yes, that seems to be counter-productive to what a defensive line's job is on passing plays, but the fact is, if you pressure Robinson he's fast enough to get away, and you generally leave a lot of open lanes for which he can escape through. Then once he gets into the open field against your linebackers and secondary, well, advantage Robinson. So more so than penetration, the Virginia Tech defensive line will be better served to maintain gap integrity. If he wants to scramble, make him go outside where linebackers and defensive backs can try and force him toward the sideline.
Better yet, if you give Robinson time to throw then he's a lot more likely to throw. And while time is not a defensive back's best friend, Robinson's accuracy issues make up for some of that. Yes, you may get beat in coverage but Robinson still has to put the pass on target.
For an example of this, look at Michigan's loss to Iowa. The Hawkeyes followed many of these same principles and let Robinson throw the ball 37 times. He completed only 17 of those passes and rushed for only 55 yards on 12 carries. The result was a 24-16 victory for Iowa.
Now, obviously, you can't afford to give Robinson all day to pass even with his accuracy issues as sooner or later the Wolverines will begin going to short underneath passes, so occasional blitzes need to be part of the game plan as well. If for no other reason than to keep Robinson guessing. Odds are that Bud Foster has more than a few types at his disposal and ready to use.
While it won't be easy for Virginia Tech to keep one of the most dynamic players in all of college football in check for a full 60 minutes, if the Hokies use some of these methods to at least slow him down and limit his effectiveness, then it will go a long way toward a Virginia Tech victory. If not, it may be a long night.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 3:04 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 3:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: While both offenses in this game are pretty balanced, the Wolverines proved to be more potent on offense throughout the season, and generally did so against better defenses than the Hokies this year. Which should be good preparation for the Virginia Tech defense that Michigan will be facing in New Orleans. Statistically, the best defenses Michigan faced this season belonged to Michigan State, Illinois, Ohio State and Notre Dame. In those four games the Wolverines averaged 30 points per game. A good sign going into a game against a Virginia Tech defense that's allowing only 17.2 points per game this season, which is good enough for 8th in the country.
The true test for the Wolverines will be running the ball against a Hokie defense that allowed only 107.7 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry on the season. Still, considering that Michigan's strength on offense is running the ball with both Fitzgerald Toussaint and Denard Robinson (the duo combined for 2,174 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011) it wouldn't be in the Wolverines best interest to change things up now. Also, whie the Hokies were successful stopping the Georgia Tech run game this year, Georgia Tech doesn't present the passing threat that Michigan brings. No, Denard Robinson is not a great passing quarterback, as he completed only 56% of his passes this season, but he did throw for 2,056 yards and 18 touchdowns. What Robinson lacks in accuracy, he can make up for with the deep ball once Virginia Tech safeties begin creeping toward the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
VIRGINIA TECH WILL WIN IF: The Virginia Tech offense is similar to that of Michigan, though it's a bit more proficient when it comes to moving the ball through the air thanks to Logan Thomas. That being said, Virginia Tech averaged only 28.5 points per game this season, which is pretty middle of the road, and nearly 6 points less per game than Michigan. So how will Virginia Tech make up for those 6 points against a defense that is just as sturdy as its own? It's a good question and one that's tough to answer because Michigan is the best defense the Hokies will face this season.
Still, there is some reason to be optimistic about Virginia Tech's chances. The only defense that compares to Michigan that the Hokies faced this year would be that of Virginia's, and the Hokies posted 38 points and 410 yards of offense against their state rivals at the end of November. The best way for Virginia Tech to repeat that performance against Michigan may be to put the ball in the hands of running back David Wilson. Wilson finished the season with 1,627 yards rushing and averaged over 6 yards per carry. While Michigan's defense was solid as a whole, against the run it was rather mediocre. The Wolverines may have allowed only 129.1 yards per game on the ground, but they did so while giving up 4.07 yards per carry, which is only good enough to be 57th in the nation. So Virginia Tech would be well-served to use Wilson and the run game to set up Logan Thomas and the passing game.
X-FACTOR: While there are plenty of people upset by the fact Michigan and Virginia Tech are playing in this game rather than higher ranked teams like Boise State and Kansas State, the fact is, this matchup should be pretty interesting. These two teams are incredibly similar to one another, which could lead to a pretty exciting and close game. And anytime that's the case, you tend to look at the special teams, as a field goal could very well be what decides this contest. Unfortunately, that's another area where these two teams are essentially the same.
At least, they were during the regular season. Since then, however, Virginia Tech kicker Cody Journell has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with breaking and entering. In a game like this that should be close, being without Journell could be the deciding factor and tilt things in Michigan's favor.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 1:26 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
They may have only won a total of 12 games in the last two seasons, but that lack of success hasn't done much to change the bottom line for the Texas Longhorns. Forbes has released its list of the most valuable college football programs in the country and, to no surprise, Texas is once again at the top of the list.
Forbes estimates that the program is worth $129 million.
Texas’ total value is driven largely by a football profit of $71 million last season, up from $65 million in 2009. Texas football generated $96 million in revenue, $36 million of which came from ticket sales. Another $30 million was comprised of contributions tied to amenity seating like club seats and luxury suites. The Longhorns also benefited from $10 million worth of sponsorship deals, with Coca-Cola, Nike and PepsiCo’s Gatorade giving a combined $2 million last year.What is somewhat surprising, however, is that number doesn't even include the revenue from the school's new Longhorn Network. No, those numbers won't be included until next year, so I'm going to go out on a limb right now and predict that Texas will once again be considered the most valuable football program at the end of 2012 as well.
Yeah, that's right. I said it. I'm putting myself out there.
Here's the top ten schools listed with their estimated value.
1. Texas ($129 million)
2. Notre Dame ($112 million)
3. Penn State ($100 million)
4. LSU ($96 million)
5. Michigan ($94 million)
6. Alabama ($93 million)
7. Georgia ($90 million)
8. Arkansas ($89 million)
9. Auburn ($88 million)
10. Oklahoma ($87 million)