Tag:LSU
Posted on: January 7, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2011 7:22 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Cotton Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Basics: Texas A&M (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2), Jan 7., 8:00 ET

Why You Should Watch: If you're going to the game, you can enjoy the spectacle and experience that is Jerry Jones' masterpiece, Cowboys Stadium. Of course, if you're going, you don't need to be told why to watch, so you can probably click to another article now. EVERYBODY ELSE: Watch this game. Not only is it the only college football game of the day, but its bookends are Thursday's Miami University - Middle Tennessee State pillow fight and tomorrow's clash of the titans between Pittsburgh and Kentucky. Two 6-6 teams facing two teams replacing their coaches. Yeah, you'll want to watch A&M-LSU.

But past all that, LSU has been one of the most must-see teams of the season, with head coach Les Miles turning his endgames into odd exhibitions of anarchy and chaos that end up working out 60% of the time. Imagine this: one-possession game in either favor, ball at either 40-yard line, and 3:45 left on the clock. Are you turning this game off? Of course you're not.

Keys to Victory for LSU: For all the disorder that has characterized the 2010 season, one immutable constant has been LSU's stingy defense. When the Tigers haven't been facing the T-1000 Cam Newton Cyborg, they've been shutting down opponents at prodigious rates; on the entire season, LSU is tenth in the nation in scoring defense and eighth in overall defense, while ranking in the top 20 in passing efficiency defense, rushing defense, sacks, and tackles for loss. This team does not have systemic deficiencies on defense.

That's good, because the Tigers will be tested on defense by a physically talented but inconsistent Aggie offense. Texas A&M has achieved more offensive balance with Ryan Tannehill at QB than when Jerrod Johnson was healthy, but while that's usually just a euphemism for "he's a worse quarterback," Tannehill is actually competent under center, and it's no surprise that A&M has gone on a six-game winning streak (including wins against four bowl teams) with him back there. If the LSU secondary can force mistakes and turnovers, the Tigers will be in good shape, but that's easier said than done; Tannehill hasn't thrown a pick in over 100 straight attempts. That streak may come to an end tonight, but it's not like 13-30 with 4 INTs is a plausible final line.

Keys to Victory for Texas A&M: For all the struggling the Aggies did against Nebraska 's defense in that 9-6 atrocity, they did manage 19 first downs in the affair, and odds are that if the Aggies replicate that effort in moving the chains, they'll score enough to stay in the game for four quarters. And, again, that's when the fun begins when Les Miles is on the other sideline.

The real challenge, then, is going to be getting the ground game going with Cyrus Gray against elite front-level defenders like Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard -- two guys who have made running between the tackles a nightmare for opponents all season long. The Aggies aren't exactly a spread-and-shred type of team, so they'll have to get their yards by grinding and breaking tackles, or anything else in their repertoire to keep LSU from sitting back and taking away the passing game. Want to see how this game goes for Texas A&M? Just watch where the point of attack moves during the first quarter; if Nevis and company are in the backfield with any regularity, it's going to be a long day for the Aggies.

The Cotton Bowl is like: the senior prom. Prom isn't the apex of one's high school arc, and neither is the Cotton Bowl for the bowl season. But they're awfully close, calendar-wise, and this is one of the last chances to see something magical happen. Everyone's getting all dressed up, they're headed to one of the fanciest places in town, and they're going to have one crazy night while they can. Further, if you've ever seen the way a typical high school senior talks to girls, it's remarkably similar to how Les Miles coaches at the end of the game: it's desperate, astonishing, and far more successful than it has any right to be.


Posted on: January 5, 2011 11:16 am
 

RichRod is fired, and for real this time

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Tuesday Rich Rodriguez was fired, and then he wasn't fired. After that he was probably going to be fired, but then he might have talked his way into keeping his job.  Then, finally, the decision was put off until today.

Well the decision is in, and I think this time it's going to stick.  Rich Rodriguez has been fired at Michigan.



The reason I believe it's for real this time is because the school announced that it would be holding a press conference on Wednesday at 12:30pm ET, likely to announce that Rodriguez is out.  According to the Detroit News, Rodriguez will receive a $2.5 million buyout, so he should survive.

The question will now become who replaces Rodriguez at Michigan?  Expect Jim Harbaugh's name to continue being tossed around until he announces he's staying at Stanford or takes an NFL job.  If not Harbaugh, then look for San Diego State's Brady Hoke, or possibly former Michigan football player, and current LSU mad scientist, Les Miles to get some attention.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 6:26 pm
 

Stevan Ridley on way back to eligibility?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LSU took a big blow in December when it found out that running back and team captain Stevan Ridley had been deemed academically ineligible to play in the Cotton Bowl.  Well it may turn out that Ridley won't have to miss the Cotton Bowl after all.  While there has been no official word from the NCAA or LSU in regards to a change in Ridley's status, there are some indications out of Baton Rouge that bode well for his chances.

LSU had appealed Ridley's case with the NCAA and according to a report in the Dallas Morning News, after practice on Monday morning, Les Miles was seen talking on his cell phone and he gave Ridley a hug after getting off the phone.  Of course, when asked about the hug and Ridley's situation, Miles would only say that things are looking good.

"We hear good things, but we're not certain of anything at this point," Miles said. "When we hear officially, we'll be forthcoming."

Then there was this tweet from the Baton Rouge Advocate's Randy Rosetta, the paper's LSU beat reporter.




If that's indeed the case, and Ridley is allowed to play in the Cotton Bowl, it would be a boost for LSU.  The Tigers offense hasn't exactly been potent this season, and being without its leading rusher would only compound matters.

Hat tip: CFT
Posted on: December 28, 2010 11:12 am
 

Seems nobody wants to watch the ACC

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Today is a good day to be a college football fan as we're all blessed with the chance to watch not just one, but two bowl games this evening, the first time we've had multiple games on the same day since the first three bowl games were played on December 18th.  The games provide a couple of decent matchups as well, as all four teams come from BCS conferences with West Virginia taking on N.C. State and Iowa facing Missouri.  Though if recent television ratings have taught us one thing, not many eyes will be on N.C. State and West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl.

The Wall Street Journal published a story on the top television draws in bowl games since 1998 based on how ratings performed against expectations. The usual suspects sit atop the list of teams who draw more viewers.  Teams like USC (+28.7%), Florida State (+22.6%), Notre Dame (+20.8%), Miami (+15.7%) and Michigan (+12%) all draw in more eyeballs than expected.  Of course, when you look at the bottom of the list, you find that outside of Florida State, not many people seem to care about ACC teams in bowl games.

Four of the bottom five teams are from the ACC, including N.C. State.  In dead last we have Virginia (-18.3%) followed by N.C. State (-17%), Georgia Tech (-14.7%), LSU (-8.9%) and Clemson (-7.9%).  As you can see, LSU is the only non-ACC team in the bottom five, and honestly, I'm a bit surprised to find them there.

You'll also notice that there are no SEC teams in the top five, so I guess everyone must hate the SEC too.  Or, you can explain it by the fact that the SEC tends to play in a lot of national championships and other BCS bowls, which are expected to get higher ratings and skew the numbers a bit.  Still, even if that's the case, feel free to use the "Nobody watches the SEC!" argument next time you're dealing with an SEC-homer.  They won't care, but you'll need as much ammo as you can get.
Posted on: December 23, 2010 3:35 pm
 

Nothing to see in Tide bowl practice arrangement

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handful of reports this week have breathlessly claimed that Alabama's arrangement to practice for the Capital One Bowl at Orlando's Dr. Phillips high school -- and make a handful of improvements to the facilities while there -- was executed with the Tide's recruiting efforts in mind, specifically as regards Dr. Phillips' two 2011 top-100 players, safety Hasean Clinton-Dix and running back Demetrius Hart.

The only problem with those reports? There's just nothing to them, as this story from the Tuscaloosa News explains . How? Let us count the ways:

1. Alabama's far from the first SEC school to practice at Dr. Phillips. LSU used the facilities just last season, and a Cap One spokesman says that the Dr. Phillips field "the field the SEC traditionally gets."

2. The bowl paid for the "improvements." According to officials both at the school and with the bowl, the only upgrade worth reporting was a reseeding and "top dressing of the field to fill any holes." Even that was paid for by the bowl committee, leaving the only "improvement" made by Alabama a rented set of temporary showers which will be removed after the bowl.

3. The "improvements" happen every year. Even if you believe the work on the field ("basically putting sand and peat down on certain areas of the field," according to a bowl spokesman) is a big deal for Alabama, it "isn't too much different than [what's done] any other year," according to the bowl.

4. 'Bama doesn't have that much to gain. Though things are always fluid in the world of recruiting, Clinton-Dix has been committed to the Tide and Hart to Michigan for months. Though rumors have persisted Hart might be interested in leaving the Wolverine fold, at this stage it seems unlikely unless Rich Rodriguez is replaced as head coach, and even then it's debatable whether he would choose Alabama as his new destination or even if the Tide would make room in a crowded class for him. Doesn't spending thousands of dollars to earn the respect of one recruit who's already on his way to Tuscaloosa and another who's a longshot no matter what the Tide seem awfully ... inefficient , for lack of a better term?

Put it all together, and there's just nothing to see here, unless you're the sort who squints really, really hard.

Posted on: December 22, 2010 1:55 pm
 

BCS automatic bids not helping BCS attendance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Some of the stories that have emerged over the past few days about teams struggling to sell their allotment of bowl tickets aren't surprising, quite honestly. How many FIU fans are going to want to leave Miami for a late-December trip to Detroit ? What percentage of the fanbase at Tulsa -- one of the smallest schools in all Division I -- are going to have the means to fly to Hawaii ?

But you might think that things would be different on the top rungs of the bowl ladder. You'd think wrong, as the Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl are each finding out. We mentioned last week that UConn was looking at a major financial shortfall, and that hasn't changed; the Huskies have still sold only approximately 4,500 of their 17,500 tickets and are on the hook for at least $1.4 million in unsold ticket costs alone. Stanford, meanwhile, isn't much better off , according to San Jose Mercury-News columnist Mark Purdy (emphasis added):
Why should the Cardinal football team and its loyal followers be forced to schlep way across the country to Miami for the Orange Bowl in two weeks? As of late last week, Stanford had sold less than half of its 17,500-ticket allotment for that game. Isn't it stupid that the team can't play in a big bowl much closer to home?
Purdy's column makes clear that he and the Pac-10 would have much preferred to see the the Cardinal in the Rose Bowl over TCU (and no doubt the Rose itself agrees), but he doesn't ask the question from the opposite perspective: isn't it stupid the Orange Bowl can't invite a big school closer to home? Why do they have to take a team representing a private academic institution from the West Coast whose fanbase is mostly apathetic even in the best of times when teams like LSU or even Michigan State could provide a lot more attendance bang for the invitation's buck?

In Stanford's case, it's because of a BCS bylaw that requires any team in the BCS rankings top-four to receive an automatic BCS berth; in UConn's, it's because the Big East champion is also admitted auotmatically, no questions asked. If Purdy thinks the agreement that sent TCU to Pasadena at Stanford's expense is unfair (and that's debatable, since the other BCS bowls have each been saddled with non-AQ teams before and will be again; why should the Rose be excepted?), how fair is it that the bowls are forced into inviting schools they know will leave them with attendance issues?

It's a little fair, sure, because there's no question that at 11-1, Stanford has done more to deserve a BCS berth than, say, 9-3 Alabama. But it's high time the NCAA started examining a way to free teams from the burden of ticket guarantees -- since it is unfair for a team like FIU, caught between an invitation they can't afford to turn down for the sake of their program and a guarantee they can't afford to accept on the financial ledger -- and if they might start with either limiting or eliminating those guarantees, they can definitely continue by loosening bowl tie-ins and doing away with the BCS's automatic bid. If bowls can take teams that will actually fill seats, they won't have to charge the schools that don't when those seats go empty.
Posted on: December 22, 2010 11:14 am
Edited on: December 22, 2010 11:15 am
 

Miles: Ridley academically ineligible for bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Les Miles shocked LSU fans on Wednesday with the announcement that running back and team captain Stevan Ridley was ruled academically ineligible to compete against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on January 7.  The announcement was made after practice on Wednesday morning, Miles said the university would be appealing the ruling.  

While the announcement does come as a bit of a surprise, this does not mean that Ridley will necessarily miss the game.  If LSU begins the appeals process immediately, they will have two and a half weeks to make their case to the NCAA for Ridley's eligibility.  This is a strange instance where the Cotton Bowl's odd date in the schedule will serve as an advantage for the Tigers.  Interesting that it is an academic issue that will keep Ridley from a late bowl game that will likely conflict with classes.  I'm just saying.  

Stay tuned to CBSSports.com, we will continue to update this story as it develops.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:19 pm
 

Nick Fairley follows coach's lead, wins Lombardi

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's one of those stories that would be edited out of a film script for being "too heavyhanded," but happened in real life Wednesday night anyway: Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, playing the past two seasons under the tutelage of his school's last winner of the Lombardi Award, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, became the school's newest winner of the same award . It's not irony, but it's close enough that Alanis Morrisette would think it is.

In any case, the award's voters -- "a distinguished committee of nearly 400 of America's most prominent college football coaches, football writers, sports broadcasters and previous Rotary Lombardi Award winners and finalists," charged with selecting the nation's best lineman or linebacker -- weren't voting based on the headlines; Fairley was arguably the nation's most disruptive defensive force this season, leading the SEC in tackles for loss with 21.5 (for comparison's sake, one more than Ndamukong Suh totaled in 2009) and finishing second with 10.5 sacks. But Fairley's penchant for brutal hits on opposing quarterbacks -- a handful of which straddled the line between fair play and unnecessary roughness, and earned him something of a villain's reputation in some quarters of the conference -- meant his impact was felt even beyond his imposing statistics.

All that said, the Lombardi committee couldn't have gone wrong with the equally beastly Da'Quan Bowers, the Clemson defensive end who leads the nation in sacks and was one of three other Lombardi finalists (with the others Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn and TCU center Jake Kirkpatrick ). Bowers won the Nagurski Trophy over Fairley, setting up a kind of rubber match vote with the Bednarik Award , given to the nation's best defensive player later today.

Whether Bowers or Fairley triumphs in their little one-on-battle on the awards circuit (the Bednarik could also declare an effective tie by honoring LSU corner Patrick Peterson ), the real winner here is the NFL draft, which assuming Fairley declares, looks poised to have an outstanding class of defensive linemen on its hands this April.

Follow along with all the postseason college football honors at the CBS Sports Awards Watch .

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