Posted on: September 11, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:28 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
I grumbled yesterday about the fact that Wisconsin's ranking was too low relative to the actual quality of its team, and to the polls' credit, the Badgers moved up a spot in each poll. Granted, that was only because Texas A&M enjoyed its bye week early and was summarily punished for that by pollsters, which, all right I guess you showed them, but it's a start. I've got the Badgers sixth on my personal ballot, and that might still be too low, but the fact that the Badgers are moving up is a step in the right direction.
Nebraska held steady at No. 10, meanwhile, but this is just that silly lazy pollster mentality than a reflection of the season Nebraska has put together thus far. The Huskers struggled for a second straight week to justify their lofty praise, beating a middling Fresno State squad 42-29 and looking decidedly average in the process. For that, Nebraska's No. 18 in my poll, and if that sounds like OMG MEDIA DISRESPECT, keep in mind we're hit over the head year-round with the "every week counts" mantra from the BCS elite, so if we're going to be honest about what that actually means, then we need to be able to look at Nebraska's first two games and realize that it has not played at a Top 10 level thus far. Taylor Martinez is a wonderfully gifted runner, but as a passer he is a ticking time bomb. The way he's thrown the ball in the first two games won't be enough to lead Nebraska to even a division title, much less the conference crown and a BCS bowl bid.
15/15. Michigan State
The Spartans made slight jumps in both polls after their throttling of Florida Atlantic, and that ranking is just about right so there's no qualms here from me. Their defense is going to get a major test with a trip to South Bend this week, and let's not kid ourselves -- even at 0-2, Notre Dame is a very dangerous opponent. If Tommy Rees and his compatriots hadn't turned the ball over five times in each of the first two weeks, they'd probably be 2-0 right now, and a borderline Top-10 team. If MSU survives this road test, it deserves to move up in the polls. Way up.
17/16. Ohio State
Just as I was bearish on Nebraska for its underwhelming performance against Fresno, I'm mortified by Ohio State getting taken to the wire by Toledo, so to see the Buckeyes only drop from 15th in both polls to here is a bit of a joke. They still deserve to be ranked, and they've got nothing but BCS opponents from here on out so the stage is set for earning a return to national prominence, but right now it sure looks like the Buckeyes are three or four spots too high. Hey, every week counts, right?
Others receiving votes: Michigan (104 AP votes, 97 Coaches votes), Northwestern (19 AP votes, 31 Coaches votes), Penn State (18 AP votes, 29 Coaches votes)
Posted on: September 11, 2011 3:55 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 4:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
ALABAMA/LSU. Entering this week, there was some expectation that a comprehensive performance from the Crimson Tide in Happy Valley might allow Alabama to retake the No. 2 slot in the media poll and consolidate their lead on the Bayou Bengals -- scheduled for what was little more than a light scrimmage against Northwestern State -- in the Coaches.
Thanks to getting that comprehensive performance, the Crimson Tide did indeed leapfrog the Tigers into No. 2 in both polls--but their margin for error in either balloting remains thinner than Nick Saban's patience for unforced mistakes. In the AP, Alabama has eight fewer first-place votes but a miniscule six-point lead all the same (1,422 to 1,416); in the Coaches, the margin is 38 points, less than half the gap between LSU and fourth-place Boise State.
Frankly, this is how it should be; both teams have decisive victories over quality opponents (though Oregon does look a good bit stronger than the Lions at the moment), both have overpowering defenses and a few offensive questions, and both spent one week dallying against lesser competition. If it looks like the pollsters are pslitting hairs at the moment, that's because those hairs ought to be split.
SOUTH CAROLINA. Interestingly, the team just ahead of the Gamecocks in each poll -- Virginia Tech -- happened to face the same team in Week 2 -- East Carolina -- Carolina had faced in Week 1. So between the Gamecocks' road victory over a desperate Georgia team and Tech's weaker performance against the Pirates, it's only fair that Steve Spurrier's team jumped the Hokies in both polls, going from No. 12 to No. 11. The Gamecocks are even within striking distance of the top 10 in the AP, sitting only five points back from Nebraska.
Too bad the Gamecocks won't have much of a chance to make an impression the next two weeks--they take on Navy and Vanderbilt.
ARKANSAS. The Hogs blasted New Mexico, but given that the Lobos may not be much better than Arkansas's Week 1 FCS opponent Missouri State, there can't be any complaints out of Fayetteville about staying at No. 13 in the Coaches and No. 14 in the AP.
FLORIDA. The Gators blew past overmatched UAB in a second straight tune-up, but thanks to Mississippi State's loss and Ohio State's ineffective performance against Toledo, the Gators moved up anyway to No. 17 in the Coaches and No. 18 in the AP. That's a jump of four spots from the Gators preseason rank in each poll, just for beating the hapless Blazers and even-more-hapless FAU--sometimes scheduling cupcakes pays, apparently.
AUBURN. Weclome back to the AP poll, Tigers; Auburn's win over previous No. 16 Mississippi State has the defending national champions re-included at No. 21 in the AP and up three spots to No. 19 in the Coaches.
It's not a bad reward, but there's an argument to be made that the AP could do even more for the Tigers, though, and are still overreacting to the Week 1 escape against Utah State. After all, look at Florida--the media started the season with Auburn just one spot behind the Gators. Since then, Auburn has beaten two teams better than either of Florida's opponents--and now sit five spots behind the Gators.
MISSISSIPPI STATE. The Bulldogs can thank their New Year's Day Gator Bowl pounding of Michigan for just remaining in both polls this week, clinging to the No. 25 rung; without that emphatic victory, there's no doubt MSU doesn't enter this past week at No. 16/17, and (in turn) even less doubt they lose that top-25 spot. At this point, it's not like beating Memphis (47-3 losers to Arkansas State) should be worth anything in the voters' minds.
TENNESSEE. It's time for the voters to pay more attention to the Vols. After throttling a likely bowl team in Cincinnati, Tennessee has accomplished more in the win column and looked more impressive in doing so than, say, West Virginia, which beat Marshall in Week 1 and somehow trailed middle-of-the-road FCS program Norfolk State at halftime in Week 2. But the Mountaineers are ranked 20th in the Coaches and 18th in the AP, while the Vols limp along deep in the "Also Receiving Votes" category.
That's not to say the two teams should necessarily be switched; the young Vols still have a lot to prove. But there's no way the gap should be that wide given the results on the field.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, Boise State, Cincinnati, East Carolina, FAU, Florida, Gator Bowl, Jerry Hinnen, LSU, Marshall, Memphis, Michigan, Missouri State, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nick Saban, Norfolk State, Northwestern State, Oregon, Poll Reactions, SEC, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Toledo, UAB, Utah State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
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 3:42 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 3:43 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OHIO STATE WON. Though it was not as easy a victory as Ohio State fans have come to expect against non-conference schools in recent years. In fact, this one wasn't settled until the final minute of the game thanks to an Ohio State offense that just didn't look very sharp in the second week of the season. Joe Bauserman did not have to share any snaps with Braxton Miller this week, though maybe he should have as he completed only 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 189 yards and a touchdown. In fact, it's tough to find a star on offense at all for Ohio State in this one, though I suppose Carlos Hyde's 2 touchdown runs qualify, even if he did manage only 3.9 yards on 21 carries.
WHY OHIO STATE WON. Because try as they might, Toledo was its own worst enemy in this game, and the Buckeyes defense came through with some timely stops when it needed to. Still, considering that Ohio State only won this game by five points and was actually outgained on offense by the Rockets 335 yards to 303 yards, you have to wonder how things would have gone if not for the 14 penalties worth 100 yards called against Toledo. One of those penalties was an illegal formation on a punt -- Toledo had roughly a billion of those on Saturday -- that cause Toledo to kick again, and on the second attempt Chris Fields returned the kick 69 yards to give the Buckeyes a 21-15 lead going into the half.
WHEN OHIO STATE WON. This game wasn't over until Terrance Owen's pass on 4th and 5 at the Ohio State 17-yard line floated hopelessly incomplete thanks to some heavy pressure from the Buckeyes front four.
WHAT OHIO STATE WON. The right to say that it still hasn't lost to an FBS level opponent from the state of Ohio since 1921, going 20-0 in 90 years. And that's it, really, as I don't think there are many Big Ten opponents who will look at this game film and see the Buckeyes as a team to be feared at the moment.
WHATE TOLEDO LOST. Aside from being the first Ohio school to beat Ohio State in 90 years, it also lost the chance to claim a victory over a BCS opponent for the sixth straight season. Not to mention the chance to be a MAC school that could claim victories over both Michigan and Ohio State in the last four years. Other than that, I think Toledo gained more in this loss than Ohio State did in victory.
THAT WAS CRAZY. This isn't exactly crazy, but it's a bit telling about the fluidity of this game. Ohio State and Toledo combined to go 6-for-28 on third downs in this contest, yet went 3-for-6 on fourth downs.
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 9, 2011 6:26 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 6:33 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Last week, Ohio State suspended RB Jordan Hall, CB Travis Howard and S Corey Brown for the Akron game after learning the three players had accepted $200 for their presence at a Cleveland charity event. Ohio State expected its three suspended players to be reinstated by the NCAA for this week's game at Toledo following the conclusion of the NCAA's investigation.
Problem: the NCAA never agreed to a one-game suspension. As a result, all three players will be sitting out their second straight game.
On its face, this appears to run counter to the NCAA's speedy reinstatement of several suspended Miami players who had accepted much more than $200 from disgraced booster Nevin Shapiro. The problem for Ohio State is that this is more than an issue of just punishment; the NCAA is not satisfied with the results of its investigation, and the fact that the three players gave conflicting reports to officials and investigators about why they were at the fundraiser and who paid them cannot possibly help their case for an expedited reinstatement.
To that end, here is the official statement from the NCAA (emphasis ours):
Two of the three suspended players named a former Buckeye as the source of the money, and the third named a "representative of athletics interests." All names were redacted by Ohio State on the documents acquired by the Columbus Dispatch.
It is strange that we live in a world where athletes in a multi-billion dollar sport/industry can be taken out of competition for something as insignificant as accepting a $200 gift, and it's been made clear recently that Ohio State has a few boosters who don't have much respect for those rules, but they are still the rules. So as long as giving money to players is still illegal, as long as the NCAA's sniffing around Columbus because of previous violations, and as long as the NCAA won't reinstate players who are being evasive with an investigation, it strongly behooves everybody involved with the Ohio State program to follow the NCAA's rules to a T. To do anything less is demonstrably harmful to the program, and it's strange that so many people around the team -- from Jim Tressel to everyone else who evidently wants to give these players an extra little something -- don't seem to realize this.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Several non-AQ conferences have held their preseason media days and polls, and it won't surprise anyone to learn that the Mountain West's edition has anointed newcomers Boise State the league favorites in their first MWC campaign.
The Broncos earned 28 out of a possible 31 first-place votes, with reigning champion TCU picking up three nods to finish second in their final MWC preseason poll before 2012's jump to the Big East. Air Force placed third, followed by San Diego State.
Personally, we'd have slid the Aztecs into the third slot* thanks in large part to Ronnie Hillman, the explosive sophomore running back who was named to the MWC's preseason all-conference team, also announced Tuesday. But it was the Broncos who predictbably dominated the list of honorees, earning a conference-high seven selections. In addition to Kellen Moore (who was named the preseason MWC Offensive Player of the Year), the Broncos were also saw less-household names like safety George Iloka, defensive end Shea McLellin and offensive tackle Nate Potter.
TCU picked up four selections, including preseason Defesnive Player of the Year Tank Carder. No doubt the MWC itself is hoping the media have their predictions right; having the Broncos oust the Frogs in the two teams' only shared conference season would be a feather in the league's cap as TCU departs (and the MWC fights for a BCS automatic berth.
But as mentioned, the MWC isn't the only league that's been busy issuing its preseason polls. Checking in on two of their non-AQ brethren:
MAC: The Mid-American Conference held its Media Day Tuesday and announced the league's press had selected up-and-coming Toledo the league favorite for 2011. The Rockets return a league-high 18 starters in the third season of Tim Beckman's tenure, including dynamic receiver/returner Eric Page, a Biletnikoff Award Watch list member.
But the Rockets were far from a slam dunk choice, gaining only five of the 13 votes cast for MAC champion. Reigning divisional champions Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) each picked up three nods, with Ohio and Western Michigan each picking up a token vote. All in all, seven different teams earned votes as champions of one division or the other--promising a well-heated MAC race this fall.
SUN BELT: The SBC doesn't issue a media vote, but last week the league's coaches released their own picks for the 2011 Sun Belt standings, with an unfamiliar name at the top: FIU.
Behind co-preseason Offensive Player of the Year (and CBSSports.com College Football 100 member) T.Y. Hilton, the Golden Panthers usurped usual league overloards Troy, receiving five of the nine votes in the poll. And in maybe the quirkiest single vote in any of those polls mentioned in this post, someone is very high on Western Kentucky; despite going 2-10 last year (and 2-22 the past two seasons), the Hilltoppers received one first-place vote.
*Yes, despite the devastation in the SDSU receiving corps. Between a veteran line, Hillman, and senior QB Ryan Lindley, they'll be fine.
Tags: Air Force, Eric Page, FIU, George Iloka, Jerry Hinnen, Kellen Moore, Miami (Ohio), Mountain West Conference, Nate Potter, non-AQ, Norhtern Illinois, Ohio, Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, Shea McLellin, Sun Belt, T.Y. Hilton, Tank Carder, Tim Beckman, Toledo, Troy, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan
Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:33 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
As we brace ourselves for the media day onslaught that will begin with the SEC on Wednesday, the watch list season finally wraps up with the prestigious Walter Camp Award watch list. The award is given annually by the Walter Camp Football Foundation to the "Player of the Year. Although it also awards individual greatness in college football, only two of the last five Heisman Trophy winners have also collected the Walter Camp Award.
Two of last year's finalists return to the watch list (Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oregon's LaMichael James) along with many of the usual suspects from the other position-based awards. The list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists in mid-November, then the winner will be chosen from the finalists and announced on Dec. 8.
QB Matt Barkley, USC
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Boston College, Chip Patterson, Florida State, Georgia, Hawaii, Houston, MIchigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon, Pac-12, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, SEC, South Carolina, South Carolina, Stanford, TCU, Texas A&M, Toledo, Troy, Tulsa, USC, Virginia Tech, Walter Camp Award, Walter Camp Watch List, Washington, Watch Lists, West Virginia, Wisconsin