Tag:Quick Hits
Posted on: November 25, 2011 6:28 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 41, No. 3 Arkansas 17

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



LSU WON: 
The Tigers had to work harder than they have against any 2011 opponent other than Alabama -- a 14-0 second quarter deficit was more than three times larger than the previous largest deficit faced by LSU this year -- but in the end, Arkansas fell by the wayside just like the first 11 teams on LSU's schedule. LSU pounded on the run-averse Arkansas front for 286 bruising rushing yards, 102 of them by the impressive Kenny Hilliard, and held Tyler Wilson to just 207 passing yards with an interception. Tyrann Mathieu put a huge stamp on the game, returning a punt 92 yards to erase the last of that early deficit, forcing one fumble and recovering another.

WHY LSU WON: The biggest factor in the win was arguably the overpowering nature of the Bayou Bengal ground game; behind Hilliard, Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Jordan Jefferson and another devastating performance from the LSU offensive line, the second half entirely belonged to the Tiger running game. Once LSU got the ball back in the fourth quarter up 21-17, they challenged Arkansas's front seven to match them physically or get run out of Tiger Stadium ... and the Hogs simply couldn't meet that challenge.

But that overlooks the fact that the somehow still underappreciated LSU defense allowed a 62-yard Hog touchdown drive on the visitors' third possession of the game ... and then held the SEC's best offense to zero touchdowns and just three points the remainder of the game. Wilson was sacked five times, the Hogs gained just 254 yards for the game, and only one of their final seven possessions lasted more than four plays. The Hog offensive line had no answer for the LSU front or John Chavis's blitzes (Barkevious Mingo was a particular terror), and the vaunted Hog receivers had precious little success against Mathieu, the amazing Morris Claiborne, and the rest of the LSU secondary. The LSU running game was incredible. Given the competition, LSU's defense might have been even better than that.

WHEN LSU WON: When Ware carried in from seven yards out to cap a nine-play touchdown drive -- eight of them runs -- with 11:04 to play in the game, the score was still only 31-17. But the way those eight runs had seemed to physically overwhelm the Arkansas defense, no one watching believed the game was anything but decided.

WHAT LSU WON: A perfect regular season, an outright SEC West title and trip to Atlanta, a third win over a top-5 opponent, and -- given results in other Bedlam-based games -- possibly a BCS title game berth already. But that's it.

WHAT ARKANSAS LOST: Just a second game this year, but when you lose your SEC and national title dreams in that one fell swoop, that's a lot to lose all the same.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Behold the Mathieu punt return in all its glory:

Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2011 3:48 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Houston 48, Tulsa 16

Posted by Bryan Fischer

HOUSTON WON. The Cougars came into the game with their highest ranking in over two decades and lived up to their billing by pulling away in the second half with their trademark passing attack and even a little bit of defense. This was supposed to be Houston's toughest test - Tulsa was undefeated in Conference USA coming in and they had to go on the road - but they passed with flying colors thanks to Case Keenum's arm.

WHY HOUSTON WON. The defense slowed down a normally explosive Golden Hurricanes attack just when it looked like they had a chance to make the game interesting. They drove into the red zone right before half and could have taken the lead but the defense stiffened and recovered a Bryan Burnham fumble. After putting up just 13 points in the first half, Keenum got rolling in the 3rd quarter and finished 32-for-45, 449 yards and five touchdowns. Patrick Edwards was also impressive, ending the day with eight catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns.

WHEN HOUSTON WON. Tulsa's first drive of the second half ended in a three and out and Houston promptly drove down the field. They stalled at the Hurricanes' 33 yard line but opted to go for it on 4th-and-10. Keenum threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to Edwards to push the lead to 20-10. After the defense allowed a pair of field goals, the offense scored touchdowns on the first two possessions of the 4th quarter to put the game away.

WHAT HOUSTON WON. A Conference USA West division title, hosting duties for the Conference USA title game and a BCS berth. This team is off to the best start in school history and, if they can beat Southern Mississippi, are likely headed to the Sugar Bowl.

WHAT TULSA LOST: It was a rough day for the Golden Hurricanes as they lost their only conference game of the season to fall to 8-4 overall. They lost out on the West title but still should end up in solid bowl game after an impressive season that saw all four of their losses come to teams with a combined record of 39-4.


Posted on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: November 25, 2011 12:22 am
 

QUICK HITS: Texas 27 Texas A&M 25



Posted by Tom Fornelli


TEXAS WON. A rivalry that has gone on for 118 years may have come to an end on Thursday night, and there may not have been a better way to put an end to it than the game we got. Particularly if you're a Texas fan. Following a formula that's become all too familiar for Texas A&M this season, the Longhorns came back from a 16-7 deficit at halftime by outscoring the Aggies 17-0 in the third quarter. However, this time the Aggies would battle back and retake the lead with 1:48 to go after Ryan Tannehill hit Jeff Fuller for a 16-yard touchdown pass to give A&M a 25-24 lead.

But then Case McCoy went Colt McCoy. A Longhorns offense that struggled all night got things together on a final drive, one that featured a 25-yard scramble from McCoy that put the Longhorns in field goal position. Of course, the drive also featured a questionable personal foul call against Texas A&M, so you can be sure you'll hear a lot of conspiracy theories coming from College Station in the next few days. Then it all ended with Justin Tucker splitting the uprights with a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns what could be their last victory over Texas A&M for a long time.

WHY TEXAS WON. It's defense and special teams did the job. This was not a pretty game offensively on either side of the ball, as the two teams combined for only 565 yards of total offense, went 9-for-34 on third down and committed 6 turnovers between them. However, the Texas defense put the clamps down on A&M in the third quarter, causing three turnovers, one of which was an interception returned for a touchdown by Carrington Byndom. A few minutes later Quandre Diggs had an 81-yard punt return to set Texas up with a first and goal. The Longhorns only got a field goal out of that drive, but another Tannehill interception a few plays later set up another Longhorns touchdown. It was that 15-minute stretch that ultimately sealed the fate of both teams in this contest.

WHEN TEXAS WON. Aside from that third quarter completely turning this game around, things weren't official until Justin Tucker's 40-yard field goal went through as time expired. A remarkable feat for Tucker considering how tired his leg had to be after punting 11 times on the night.

WHAT TEXAS WON. Not only does this win get Texas to 7 wins on the year, but let's be real, what this game really won Texas is perhaps the final bragging rights over Texas A&M. The Aggies won't be getting a chance for revenge anytime soon, and may not ever get that chance if Texas continues to get its way.

WHAT TEXAS A&M LOST: This is another terrible loss for the Aggies. Another blown lead, and now a season that began with so much promise sees the Aggies finish the regular season at 6-6. Also, it's not like Mike Sherman wasn't already sitting on a hot seat coming into this game, this loss sure isn't going to help cool it off, and then there's the fact that it's Texas and this could be the final meeting for both schools. What I'm saying is, this was a terrible night for the Aggies.

THAT WAS CRAZY: In it's 6 losses this season, Texas A&M has been outscored 83-0 in the third quarter. You don't need to look past that number to know how the Aggies lost those games. Still, what's crazier than anything is that this rivalry is coming to an end. It's one of the best rivalries in college football, and it's going away. I mean, I grew up in Chicago and I'm having a hard time imagining a season in which Texas and Texas A&M aren't a part of my Thanksgiving tradition. I can only hope that cooler heads prevail sooner rather than later, and these teams meet again on the gridiron.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Ohio State at Michigan

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO STATE WILL WIN IF: Bad Denard makes a housecall. If there's one area where Ohio State's struggles have been surprising, it's turnovers. OSU's +4 on the year, so that's good, but that's only because the Buckeyes barely ever give the ball away; they've done so 12 times in 11 games, which is tied with Michigan State for best in the Big Ten. But that +4 margin also means that the defense hasn't exactly been ball-hawking this year. Indeed, the 16 takeaways managed by the Buckeye D is tied for 8th best in the conference, and that's hardly in line with OSU's usual modus operandi (though the fact that one of the teams also tied at 16 is Alabama should tell you how necessary forcing turnovers really is). Still, OSU probably can't just play Michigan straight up and try to bend but not break and hope to come away with a victory; Denard Robinson is too explosive for that. He's also too error-prone for OSU not to take risks and force him into tough situations. A couple instances of Bad Denard this Saturday, and Ohio State could have the opening it needs to win.

MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: Braxton Miller is forced to throw the ball. Ohio State has done a generally good job during Big Ten play of limiting what Miller is being asked to do, in terms of making reads or otherwise thinking on the fly. That's a recipe for disaster for nearly every true freshman quarterback (which is why most redshirt), so there's a reason why Miller is instead the team's leading rusher (though Boom Herron will probably surpass Miller by the end of the bowl game) this season in addition to his passing duties. Miller still completes fewer than 50% of his passes, and that may help make it easier for Michigan to get OSU into a third and long situation. Now, just because Miller drops back on a 3rd and 9 doesn't mean a pass is necessarily coming; Miller's not quite as gifted a scrambler to the sticks that Terrelle Pryor was, but he's already pretty close, and Michigan's going to need to account for that too. Nonetheless, it should be the Wolverines' goal to keep Ohio State well below .500 on third-down conversions, as that will likely lead to a victory. 

X-FACTOR: Urban Meyer. Ohio State has fought tooth and nail to keep the media's focus on this game and not the future of the program, which by all indications will not be spearheaded by Luke Fickell after this year. The problem is that the athletic department isn't very good at keeping secrets, because while it's certainly plausible that Meyer hasn't inked any contracts yet, the process is far enough along that the Columbus Dispatch is reporting the deal as done. Now, whether the Buckeyes have been able to maintain their focus on game week is the big thing, not whether the media has. And it certainly stands to reason that the players (especially the seniors) care more about the game in front of them than who may or may not be the coach going forward. And yet, and yet, every time the words "Urban Meyer" get said in the locker room, that's one more conversation that isn't about the game.



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Posted on: November 23, 2011 3:37 am
Edited on: November 23, 2011 3:37 am
 

Keys to the Game: Penn State at Wisconsin

Posted by Adam Jacobi

PENN STATE WILL WIN IF: Wisconsin's feeling generous. Penn State is scoring a hair under 21 points a game, good enough for 11th place in the Big Ten. 21 points is, of course, not going to beat Wisconsin; the Badgers scored 28 points against Illinois last week, and even that was a season low. So if Penn State's going to stay in this one, it's going to need put points up early and often. And yet, this is a Matt McGloin-led offense we're talking about, so the Nittany Lions are going to need some help. Wisconsin's defense hasn't given up more than 17 points in any of its nine wins, but that number jumps to 35 ppg in the two losses. So if the Badger defense can be coerced into allowing several successful touchdown drives, we might be looking at a shot for the Nittany Lions to walk into Camp Randall and steal a victory. If Wisconsin plays a strong game on defense and takes care of the ball, though, this might be a long day.

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: Montee Ball stays Montee Ball. Heisman voters are starting to realize what Wisconsin and its opposing defensive coordinators have known all year: Russell Wilson is a very good quarterback, but it's Ball who's the real focal point of this offense. Ball now has a commanding lead among all non-QBs in most total touchdowns with 30 on the season, and he just showed off his durability by racking up 38 carries for 224 yards at Illinois (who has the Big Ten's second-best rushing defense) last week. Penn State's going to need to shut down Ball without committing so completely to the task that Russell Wilson can throw with ease. Wilson can demolish pretty much defense if it has eight men in the box all watching Ball's every move at the snap.  

X-FACTOR: The almighty turnover will likely loom large here. Penn State basically can't afford to give away the ball deep in Badger territory; points are going to be hard enough to come by without wasted drives. Similarly, it would behoove both teams not to give the other a short field with a turnover deep in their own territory; those can swing a game all by themselves. So while an armpunt with no return isn't exactly the end of the world here, a fumbled kick return or a red zone interception might be enough of an opening for Wisconsin to make this one a blowout -- or Penn State to make it a game.



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Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:44 am
 

QUICK HITS: Stanford 31, California 28

Posted by Bryan Fischer

STANFORD WINS. The Big Game to all those outside of the Bay Area was last week for the Cardinal and they came up way short in a loss to Oregon. This week however, was The Big Game with crosstown rival California. Looking to rebound, Andrew Luck and company were not too sharp in the first half but, with rain coming down and a torn up field, pulled away in the second half then held on to win with their typical grinding, precision attack 31-28. The sour mood around campus following the loss to the Ducks was temporarily forgotten as the Stanford Axe remains in Palo Alto for the second year in a row.

WHY STANFORD WON. Luck didn't lose the Heisman Trophy last week but he didn't win it either after a sub par performance. He was much sharper against the Golden Bears in what is likely his second to last game at Stanford Stadium, passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns.

WHEN STANFORD WON. Right out of the half, the offense came to play. Luck was on the money with his passes and led an eight play, 69 yard drive followed by a six play, 79 yard drive to give the Cardinal a 28-13 lead going into the 4th quarter. But Zach Maynard found Spencer Hagan to cap a touchdown drive then converted the two point conversion to bring the Bears to within seven. Luck took the ball and led a drive that took 7:41 off the clock and ended with a game-icing field goal. Cal made a late drive for a touchdown but the field goal was the deciding points.

WHAT STANFORD WON. The loss up in Oregon helped the Cardinal but still doesn't mean they have a chance to play for the Rose Bowl. However, their hopes of going to a BCS bowl for the second straight time remain alive and they're sitting in a good position with all of the upsets going on in college football. A win against an average Notre Dame team should provide a boost in the polls and for Luck's Heisman chances.

WHAT CALIFORNIA LOST. The Bears were not only looking to beat their rival but wanted to end the season on a roll going into a bowl game and a renovated Memorial Stadium next year. Instead, they'll have their hands full against an angry Arizona State next week on a Friday.

Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:18 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 45 Oklahoma 38

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WON. For the first time in school history Baylor beat Oklahoma on Saturday night. They can now claim a 1-20 record against the Sooners. In a weekend full of wonderful games, this one may have taken the cake. Robert Griffin emphatically announced to the world that he needs to be on every Heisman ballot in the country, leading Baylor on a game-winning drive in the final minute to upset the Sooners. Griffin finished the night with 551 total yards and 4 touchdowns, as Baylor racked up 620 yards of offense in the game. Not that Oklahoma didn't have some fun on offense as well, as the Sooners had 605 yards of offense and backup quarterback Blake Bell rushed for 4 touchdowns as Landry Jones threw for 447 yards.

WHY BAYLOR WON. This will sound incredibly simplistic given all that happened in this game, but Baylor won this game because Bob Stoops let it. After Oklahoma tied the game 38-38 with 55 seconds left, Baylor was content to run out the clock and go to overtime. For some reason Stoops called a timeout, and Baylor said "Well, if you want to play that way, all right." A few plays later Baylor was scoring the winning touchdown.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. When Robert Griffin danced around in the pocket for a while and unleashed a rocket to Terrence Williams in the back of the end zone with 8 seconds left. Griffin paid the price for it, too, taking a big shot after the throw. Not that he likely felt it once he heard the crowd go crazy.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. It's signature win of 2011. This win is even bigger than the upset of TCU to start the season. As I said above, Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma before tonight, and now it not only beat the Sooners, but it destroyed any chance Oklahoma had of reaching the BCS Championship Game in the process.

WHAT OKLAHOMA LOST. Oklahoma's chances of reaching the title game took a hit on Friday night when Iowa State upset Oklahoma State. But then things began turning for the Sooners. Clemson lost, Oregon lost, and if the Sooners won this game they'd be right back in the title picture. Only they didn't win. The Sooners can still win the Big 12 and get to the Fiesta Bowl by beating Oklahoma State next week, however, so not all hope is lost.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This entire game. If you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. If you missed it, well, sorry.
Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:07 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:31 am
 

QUICK HITS: USC 38, Oregon 35

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WINS. On probation and disrespected, USC was going up to Eugene with nothing but house money to play with. Obviously they were talented - Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and the dynamic newcomer Marqise Lee especially - but they were significant underdogs against an Oregon team that had blown them out their previous two meetings. The Trojans hadn't won in the state of Oregon since 2005* and taken two brutal losses this year to the other top teams in the Pac-12.

USC jumped out to a big lead and held on late as Oregon rallied to within three but pulled off a monumental upset with far-reaching implications after Alejandro Maldonado missed a field goal of 37 yards to preserve a 38-35 win. Two streaks - 21 straight home wins and 19 straight conference victories - were snapped for the Ducks, as were their slim hopes of getting back to the national championship game.

WHY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. Marqise Lee had the best game a Trojan has had in years, finishing with eight catches for 187 yards and a touchdown and made play after play after play when the team needed it. Barkley was big as well, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns to get a signature win to hold his hat on in what could be his final year wearing the cardinal and gold. Monte Kiffin's defense also played its part, forcing two fumbles to prevent scores, blocking a punt and containing the Oregon speedsters all night to limit big plays.

WHEN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. Coming out of the second half, Oregon went three and out, had their punt blocked and set USC up with a 1st and goal. But the Ducks' defense held the Trojans to just a field goal on the drive - and nearly picked off Barkley - then got a big return from De'Anthony Thomas on the ensuing kick return for a touchdown. It seemed like the momentum had completely flipped at that point, with the Autzen crowd coming alive and LaMichael James capped off a four play drive with a touchdown.

USC came back with an impressive answer on a five play, 76 yard drive in just over two minutes to keep the lead where it was. Monte Kiffin's defense got a stop and it was upset alert with a silent crowd up in Eugene after Barkley found Randal Telfer for a touchdown on the next series to give Oregon their biggest deficit since 2008. The Ducks came roaring back however, scoring 21 straight. It looked like things were headed for overtime with Oregon marching down the field after Barkley fumbled handing off to running back Marc Tyler. Some curious clock management by Chip Kelly left Maldonado with a 37 yard field goal and he missed it to preserve a 38-35 win.

WHAT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. With just one more game left as they serve out their final year of a bowl ban, the Trojans didn't have much more than pride to play for Saturday night. They felt disrespected - the lowest ranking in school history with a 8-2 record - and determined to get back in the national conscious in a big way with their first win in the state of Oregon since 2005. Lane Kiffin's squad jumped out to the early lead and hung on just like so many others haven't. Everybody came into this game saying it was USC's bowl game (their third this season after Notre Dame and Stanford) and they won it to show quite a few people around the country what they're made of.

WHAT OREGON LOST. Given Kelly's persona and his continuous focus on the task at hand, you wonder if he got Phil Knight to pony up some cash to fly in Jim Mora to shout, "Rematch? You're talking about a rematch? You kidding me? Rematch? I just hope we win a game," over and over. That's all everybody was thinking about after beating Stanford, not USC but LSU. Despite an Oklahoma State loss that made a game against the Tigers more likely, Oregon couldn't put the game at hand away and now have to beat rival Oregon State to secure the Pac-12 championship game that looked like a lock at the beginning of the day.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Team Nike filled the sidelines as NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul all made their way down to Eugene to check out the football game. LeBron was even throwing the ball around during pre-game warm ups until politely being told by security to move back behind the lines. What's a jobless guy have to do to get some respect? Ducks fans might just be glad he wasn't suited up to play the 4th quarter. Or maybe he was.




 
 
 
 
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