Tag:Auburn
Posted on: November 9, 2010 12:01 am
Edited on: November 9, 2010 12:13 am
 

An uncomfortable truth: TCU is better than Auburn

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The latest BCS rankings are out, and there's not much to be surprised about; Auburn is No. 1, Oregon is No. 2, and TCU is No. 3. In the human polls, Oregon's easily the top-ranked team. and anyone who actually watches the games can see why: the Ducks play football at an undeniably higher level than anybody else in college football. It's that simple.

Ah, but this column is not to argue that Oregon deserves the top spot in the BCS rankings over Auburn; not only is that argument obvious, it's immaterial, because it wouldn't alter the BCS Championship Game in any way. No, the real issue here is that as of right now, Auburn doesn't belong in the national title game; TCU does.

Here's the deal. First off, there is no single-game performance Auburn has under its belt this season that is as impressive as TCU's 47-7 dismantling of Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Yes, Auburn beat LSU by a whole touchdown after rushing for 440 yards. Auburn also played every single non-conference game at home, against Chattanooga, UL-Monroe, Arkansas State, and Clemson (who, not surprisingly, took Auburn to overtime and likely would have won at Clemson). Auburn's best road win? 17-14 over Mississippi State. The fact that Auburn has gotten away with such scaredy-cat scheduling is a testament to the water carried by SEC apologists more than any serious examination of the Tigers' schedule. Auburn's strength of schedule is 40th in the Sagarin ratings. Granted, TCU's is 62nd, but that's not exactly the chasm of competition that any college football fan south of the Mason-Dixon would have you believe.

Second, and more to the point of deserving the No. 2 ranking: TCU would beat Auburn, and maybe by double-digits. Sure, TCU has never seen an offense like Auburn's or a quarterback like Cam Newton. By the same token, the Auburn offense has never seen a defense like TCU's, which is head-and-shoulders above everybody else's -- even LSU's.

In fact, between the two teams' offensive and defensive units, there's only one spot of mediocrity, and that's Auburn's defense. The Tigers gave up 43 points to Arkansas at Auburn -- and most of those points were to the Razorbacks' backup quarterback. The Auburn starters gave up two first-half touchdowns to Chattanooga, 16 first-half points to Arkansas State, 34 points to Kentucky, and 31 to Ole Miss. What's more likely: TCU puts up 30 on the Auburn defense, or Auburn scores 30 on TCU's? There's no way Auburn's the right answer there.

Look again at the Sagarin ratings linked above. TCU is ranked second. Auburn is fourth. In terms of the predictor (which uses point differential, which is strictly verboten in the BCS), TCU is still second. Auburn? 11th. On a neutral field -- like, say, a bowl game -- TCU would be favored in this matchup. Why? Because right now, TCU is better than Auburn.

Of course, this is all academic; as Dennis Dodd has correctly pointed out, if Auburn wins at Alabama two weeks from now then dispatches its SEC East opponent for the conference crown, the Tigers will likely have proven that they deserve the BCS Championship Game berth. Those are both big ifs; Auburn hasn't proven itself as a serious title contender away from Jordan-Hare yet. The Tigers win both of those, and they've earned a top spot. Until then, though, the TCU Horned Frogs deserve the title shot -- not Auburn -- and it would thus be erroneous to act disappointed if the Tigers stumble and "let" TCU into the BCS Championship spot they've earned so far.

Also, it's obviously worth mentioning that the fact that this debate even needs to take place at all is ludicrous; there should be a four-team playoff. A plus-one, if you will. TCU and Auburn deserve to settle this score on the field, and Auburn fans deserve to watch the real title contender through 10 weeks prove its mettle.


Posted on: November 8, 2010 6:34 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Don't panic, Broncos: 5 anti-doomsday scenarios

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Over the past several days, more than one college football analyst has discussed a scenario which should make everyone involved with the BCS hang their head: the possibility of an undefeated Boise State not only not making the BCS national title game, but being shut out of the BCS entirely and heading off to play (or "obliterate," delete as applicable) Cal in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. As CBSSports.com's own Dennis Dodd has explained, with TCU poised to take the single automatic bid allotted to non-AQ teams, the Sugar Bowl suffering from "SEC power vs. small-conference upstart" fatigue, and the Orange Bowl potentially unwilling to put together a rematch between likely ACC champion Virginia Tech and the Broncos, every BCS at-large bid could easily wind up doled to teams other than Boise. It's true.

But that doesn't mean it's destined to happen, or even likely. For instance, CBS's Jerry Palm says it's not even a given that the Horned Frogs will wind up ahead of Boise in the BCS standings when all is said and done. But even assuming TCU gets the nod at No. 3, here's five somewhat reasonable scenarios (i.e. not "New Mexico beats the Frogs in the upset of the millennium"), ranked from most to least likely, which would result in the Broncos getting their second BCS berth in as many years:

1. The Sugar or the Orange extend an invite. There's reason to think the Sugar and the Orange won't want to take a flyer on the Broncos, but there's plenty of reasons to think they will, too. Boise has become such a polarizing fixture on the college football scene that they're capable of bringing a great deal of attention and excellent TV ratings with them. The Broncos haven't faced an SEC team since Georgia in 2005, and it's fair to assume plenty of fans would tune in to see the nation's most respected conference and most recognizable Cinderella go toe-to-toe. (If the Sugar gets to invite local favorite LSU as the Broncos' opponent, attendance won't be an issue.) The Orange might be nonplussed at the Hokie-Bronco rematch, but selecting last, they also might not have many palatable options; assuming Nebraska wins in the Big 12 and the Sugar takes a leftover Big Ten team (preventing the Orange from taking a third Big Ten team), the only serious candidates will be either a team like Oklahoma State or Missouri or that won't bring much more than Boise in terms of profile, TV attention, fan attendance, etc., or an Oklahoma team that won't come close to matching Boise's record of achievement this year.

2. The old switcheroo? After consultation with the rest of the CBS College Football Blog team, we're still not entirely sure what this provision in the BCS selection process bylaws means exactly (emphasis added):

5. After completion of the selection process as described in Paragraph Nos. 1-4, the conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the pairings taking into consideration the following:

  A. whether the same team will be playing in the same bowl game for two consecutive years;
  B. whether two teams that played against one another in the regular season will be paired against one another in a bowl game;
  C. whether the same two teams will play against each other in a bowl game for two consecutive years; and
  D. whether alternative pairings may have greater or lesser appeal to college football fans as measured by expected ticket sales for the bowls and by expected television interest, and the consequent financial impact on ESPN and the bowls.

The pairings may not be altered by removing the Big Ten Champion or Pac-10 champion from the Rose Bowl.

But especially regarding that final caveat as it pertains to the Rose, it sounds like the BCS could play musical chairs with some of its bowl assignments if it means squeezing out from underneath a Virginia Tech-Boise State rematch. If the Sugar decides it doesn't want Boise but could deal with the Hokies, and the Orange wants Boise but doesn't want the rematch, could the bowls swap into, say, an LSU vs. Virginia Tech matchup in the Sugar and a Boise-Ohio State blockbuster in the Orange? Don't hold us to this, but reading the above, it might be a possibility.

3. A Virginia Tech loss in the ACC championship game. It's hard to see the Hokies not making it to Charlotte, but if someone other than Tech wins the conference title (the Orange would no doubt like Florida State, please-and-thank-you), inviting Boise would seem to be a no-brainer.

4. Wisconsin doesn't go to Pasadena. One of the Broncos' biggest rivals for at-large attention is Ohio State, who brings with them a huge fanbase, potentially an 11-1 record, a ton of media attention, etc. If Wisconsin falls out of the scrum at the top of the Big Ten (either by, say, a loss at Michigan or a tiebreak loss to Michigan State), that would open the door for either the Buckeyes or Spartans to go back to Pasadena ... and possibly for the Sugar to take Boise over a Badger team that doesn't pull nearly as much weight as the Buckeyes (though our resident bowl projections expert disagrees, I should note).

5. SEC chaos. It's not likely at all, but it's possible enough carnage goes on in the SEC (Auburn losing to Georgia and Alabama, LSU losing to Arkansas, the SEC East winner springing an upset in the championship game, even Cam Newton becoming suspended would help) that the conference doesn't produce a worthy BCS at-large team. That could open up a hole for Boise somewhere.

Put all of these possibilities together, and you can't guarantee that Boise will make one of the BCS games ... but it seems likely enough that something will happen in their favor that they don't have to lose sleep worrying about Cal. Not yet, anyway.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:44 pm
 

BCS computers should not use margin-of-victory

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

What would you say about a Coaches' Poll voter who looked over the college football landscape after Saturday's action and ranked Auburn , undefeated and owner of more top 25 wins than any team in the country, all the way down at No. 11? What would you say if he voted four different teams with two losses ahead of the Tigers, including a Missouri team coming off of a loss to Texas Tech and an Arizona team that lost at home to 4-4 Oregon State ? What would you say if he kept Alabama all the way up at No. 5, ahead of not only the Auburn team two games ahead of it in the SEC West standings but 12 spots ahead of the 8-1 LSU team that just beat it head-to-head?

What you would say is that this voter had lost his damn mind and deserved to have his voting privileges revoked. You would say he deserved no part in a BCS process where so, so much is riding on every ballot. And you would be right.

Then why do so many college football analysts, fans, and statisticians insist that the six computer rankings that enter into the BCS formula -- each of which carries far, far more weight than any single Coaches' Poll or Harris Poll ballot -- be allowed to use margin-of-victory as part of their calculations? Because the hypothetical ballot above is exactly what the computers would spit out; it's the current "Predictor" rankings as produced by ratings guru Jeff Sagarin , where margin-of-victory is all-important and straight wins and losses irrelevant. Sagarin has stated unequivocally that he would prefer submitting the "Predictor" rating to the BCS-mandated margin-of-victory-ignoring "ELO_Chess," for the reasons laid out here by fellow BCS computer rater Kenneth Massey and baseball statistical godfather Bill James :

“You’re asked to rank teams that don’t play each other, that don’t play long seasons, and you can’t include margin of victory?” said Massey, who provides a “better version” on his Web site, masseyratings.com . “It’s a very challenging problem from a data-analysis standpoint. It does require sacrificing a bit of accuracy. It’s not the best way to do it" ... 

“This isn’t a sincere effort to use math to find the answer at all" [according to James.] It’s clearly an effort to use math as a cover for whatever you want to do. I don’t even know if the people who set up the system are aware of that.

“It’s just nonsense math.”

Maybe the math is nonsense. But shouldn't that be weighed against the fact that to virtually everyone else who follows college football, ranking Alabama ahead of LSU is an act of even greater nonsense?

The problem is that ratings system like  the Sagarin "Predictor" and Massey's preferred system (which also ranks the Tide over the Bayou Bengals) aren't even trying to do the same things the BCS rankings are attempting to do. Their goal is to identify which teams are the "best," the most powerful, the most likely to win a given matchup; as its name implies, what "Predictor" wants to do is forecast the future, and there's no doubt it would do a better job of this than "ELO_Chess."

But certain unfortunate tiebreaks (like TCU 's and Boise State 's current predicament) excepted, BCS berths aren't awarded on the basis of hypothetical future results, or guesses at perceived strengths. They're awarded on the basis of achievement, on wins and losses and conference championships. Including margin-of-victory may make the BCS computer rankings "more accurate" when it comes to selecting which teams are playing the best football, but it would make them less accurate when it comes to answering the question the BCS rankings are trying to answer: which teams are most deserving .

That ought to be cause enough to keep the rankings margin-of-victory-free, even before we start wondering whether we really want the BCS nodding in approval as Boise desperately tries to hit the century mark week-in and week-out on the San Jose State s and Wyoming s of the world. (Not to mention it's already a shame when a player injures himself in a game that's well in hand; what happens when LaMichael James or Justin Blackmon tears an ACL trying to tack on a computer-mandated score at the end of a 60-7 blowout?) No, it's not particularly fair for TCU's annihilation of Utah to go in the BCS computers' books as nothing more than a W. But as the Horned Frogs' jump up the human polls shows, it's simply not true to say the BCS doesn't take the impressiveness of their victory into account at all.

The bottom line is that by including scoring margin (even one capped at, say, three touchdowns) in their computer rankings, the BCS would officially declare every win numerically judged like a figure skating routine, would give the thumbs-up to coaches like Bob Stoops who'd prefer to quit on a potential win over risking an embarrassing loss, would agree with "Predictor" that Alabama beating Duke by 49 points is more important than LSU beating Alabama by 3. The computer rankings could be better, but the way forward isn't to open a Pandora's box that college football would be much the worse for having opened.

Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:25 pm
 

Newton investigation 'not a closed matter'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

This has been a pretty magical season for Auburn.   The team is 10-0, ranked second in the BCS, and a win this Saturday against Georgia would clinch the SEC West and have the Tigers bound for Atlanta to play for the SEC title.  The biggest reason the Tigers have been so good this season is Cam Newton, who has pretty much run away with the Heisman Trophy thanks to his play on the field.

Of course, all anyone wants to talk about when bringing up Auburn is Newton, but it's for all the wrong reasons these days.  The news broke last week that the NCAA is looking into Newton's recruitment, as Kenny Rogers claims that he offered to bring Newton to Mississippi State for $200,000 from the school.  Considering the current environment in college football, in which the contact between agents and players have led to many suspensions, and Reggie Bush has had to give up his Heisman Trophy, there have been a few people who have already made up their minds that Newton is guilty.  Lack of evidence be damned.

One sign that Newton will be cleared in this investigation, though, is the fact that he played on Saturday, and has played all season long while Auburn has been aware of the investigation.  According to Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs, if they felt Newton had done anything wrong, he wouldn't be playing, though that doesn't mean the NCAA is done just yet.

"Any of our student-athletes, if we had any questions about them, about their eligibility," Jacobs told the USA Today. "We wouldn't want them to play."

"It's not a closed matter.  It's still ongoing. ... But we look for Cam to continue to play for us."

Does this mean that Newton is innocent?  No, of course not, but it's a sign that nothing will come from the investigation.  Wins are nice, but if Auburn felt there was going to be any trouble over this, it wouldn't compound the problem by continuing to send Newton out there every Saturday.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:31 am
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 6)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Les Miles loves the taste of grass and victory.   Seriously, he loves the taste of grass.  We have video to prove it and Russell Sheppard says he does it all the time because it's filled with protein.  But as any mad genius herbivore can tell you, the grass always tastes sweeter when you win, and that's what LSU did on Saturday to keep its SEC title hopes alive and end those of Alabama at the same time. Miles did it in his usual crazy manner, too.  Making sure his team looked horrible for the first 30 minutes before coming out firing in the second half.  I'm really starting to wonder if Miles is just so insane he's actually sane. Like, he's done the complete 360 degrees of insanity, and the rest of us just can't comprehend it.

2. The SEC West > The SEC East.  Okay, so the Mississippi State Bulldogs are 7-2 overall, and 3-2 in conference play.  This is good enough to earn them fifth place in the six team SEC West.  You know where this would put them in the East?  They'd be tied with Florida and South Carolina for the lead with one less loss -- but one less win as well -- and they'd have the best overall record in the division.  For further proof of the West's dominance, look what fourth place Arkansas did to South Carolina on Saturday night.

3. Cam Newton is not easily distracted.
  Here's what I know about Cam Newton after watching Saturday's game.  He either knows he's 100% innocent of any of the allegations about selling himself to the highest bidder, or he just doesn't give a poop.  Newton threw for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday, and granted, it was against Tennessee-Chattanooga, but those are still very impressive numbers.  Now he has the Tigers only one win shy of the SEC West title, and a few more wins away from the title game.

4. Cupcakes are delicious.
  Listen, I don't like the annual sacrifices of FCS schools to BCS schools that we see every year, but the fact of the matter is that as long as the BCS reigns, we are stuck with them.  And, to be honest, I can't really blame SEC schools for wanting to schedule them in the middle of conference play and taking a break.  Georgia, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida -- I'M KIDDING, VANDERBILT* -- all feasted on them, while Ole Miss and Tennessee enjoyed some slightly heavier Sun Belt and Conference USA fare.

*No I'm not
Posted on: November 6, 2010 2:31 pm
 

Join us for a live chat during Alabama and LSU

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Hello there, football fans. 

I'll be hosting a live chat over on our Facebook page during CBS' broadcast of LSU and Alabama this afternoon, so why not head over there and join me?   We can make fun of Les Miles , talk about Nick Saban's hair helmet, or just comment on the game.

Whatever you want!

After all, this is a pretty important game in the grand scheme of things in the SEC West.  Win and you're still alive to get to the SEC Championship.  Lose and get ready for the Capital One Bowl.  So come on over and marvel at Jordan Jefferson's ability to overthrow any receiver he sets his sights on.  it'll be fun.

Just remember that in order to partake in the discussion, you have to like us on Facebook .  Please, help our self esteem!
Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:25 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 10

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Breakfast

Main Course - #19 Oklahoma State vs. #22 Baylor - 12:30pm - FSN

I don't believe it.  After weeks of barren morning slate after barren morning slate, we actually get a matchup of two ranked teams this Saturday morning.  Surely my complaints have finally been heard and answered by the college football gods.

Granted, a game between Baylor and Oklahoma State doesn't usually carry such cache, but this should turn out to be a very fun way to start your Saturday, and chock full of calories otherwise known as points.  Just do the math.

Both teams have high-powered offenses ranked in the top ten nationally, and both teams have defenses ranked in the lower third of the country.  Which means it's going to look like a tennis match watching Robert Griffin and Brandon Weeden lead their teams back-and-forth down the field.  If the prospect of possibly seeing 100 points scored doesn't do it for you, then I just don't know what I can do for you.

Side Orders:
There's quite a bit of mediocre Big Ten fare on Saturday morning as the conference's power teams beat up on the nerds and goth kids, but one Big Ten game that may deserve your attention is Michigan and Illinois.   The Illini are one of those teams that is a lot better than you think they are, as they're 5-3 and all three of those losses have been close contests against teams currently ranked in the top 15.  Though I suppose you might want to tune in to see Florida destroy Vanderbilt, or see how much money Chattanooga offers Cam Newton to stop running over them.

Lunch

Main Course -#6 Utah vs. #4 TCU - 3:30pm - CBS College Sports

For years, many a college football fan has clamored for a playoff to determine the national championship.  We're not exactly close to getting one, but if ever there was a game that may as well be considered a playoff game, this is it.  Oh, and it also features two teams who happen to be ranked in the top 5 in the BCS right now.

Those games don't come along very often in the regular season.

Whichever team wins this game basically assures itself a BCS bid, and strengthens its case to play for the title once the year is over.  Plus, considering that Utah is bound for the Pac-12 and TCU may be heading east, this may be the last time we get to see these "mid-majors" square off during the regular season.

So take the time on Saturday to figure out where CBS College Sports is on your cable system and enjoy this one.

Side Orders: Now you all have CBS, so if you're not into that whole Mountain West thing, you could always turn to the mothership and watch Alabama take on LSU.   The winner remains alive for the SEC title, and the loser is done.  Oh, and you can watch the game while chatting with yours truly over on our Facebook page.   Football and Tom Fornelli making smart-assed remarks to your honest questions?  What gets better than that?  Certainly not Oregon disemboweling a Jake Locker-less Washington team, or Penn State and Northwestern duking it out for fourth place in the Big Ten.

Dinner

Main Course - #10 Stanford vs. #13 Arizona - 8pm - ABC

Stanford's chances to win the Pac-10 are somewhat slim at this point considering its already a game behind Oregon, and that its sole conference loss is to Oregon, but hopes are not dead yet.  However, if they lose to Arizona on Saturday night they are.  The same can be said for the Wildcats, who trail Oregon by a game as well but still get to travel to Eugene at the end of the month. 

If Arizona loses this one, it's in the same boat as Stanford, and we may as well crown the Ducks champions on Sunday morning.

The good news for Arizona is that it won't need to rely on its backup quarterback as Nick Foles is expected to return, which means we get a matchup of two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10 as Foles squares off with Andrew "Jim Harbaugh's Other Wife" Luck.

Side Orders: There are some other nice choices on Saturday night if you prefer to try something else.  South Carolina looks to keep its lead in the SEC East against the cannon of Ryan Mallett and Arkansas.   Missouri will also look to keep its BCS hopes alive when it travels to Texas Tech, and I suppose you could tune in to see if Texas can lose yet again against Kansas State.

Late Night Snack

Not much to dine on late this week, though if you're desperate for more football at the end of the night, you can tune in to see if Lane Kiffin can distract Matt Barkley a few more times against Arizona State.   If nothing else, you might get some awesome Ace of Base action, and who doesn't want more Ace of Base in their beautiful life?
Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:31 am
Edited on: November 5, 2010 11:32 am
 

Newton investigation is 'sad and disgusting'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There's been a whole lot of crazy going on since the news broke on Thursday that the NCAA was conducting an investigation at Auburn about the recruitment of quarterback/assault vehicle Cam Newton.  The story broke when it was reported that agent and former Mississippi State football player, Kenny Rogers, allegedly tried to solicit $200,000 from Mississippi State to get Cam Newton to transfer to Biloxi after he left Florida.

It's a story that Newton's family has denied ever happened, along with denying that Rogers has ever worked for them.  So far, given the amount of evidence that has shown anything to the contrary, and the words of Newton's head coach Gene Chizik, all signs point that the Newton's have done nothing wrong.  According to a report on AUTigers.com -- which, we admit, may be a touch biased in this situation -- that's exactly the case.

A source "very close to the Auburn athletics department" told them there's absolutely nothing to any of this.

“There is no evidence whatsoever of any contact between Mr. Rogers and anyone on the staff at Auburn University or anyone associated with Auburn University,” the source told the site. 

“There have also been no NCAA allegations made against Auburn University or anybody on the Auburn staff regarding the recruitment of Cam Newton. This is a really sad and disgusting situation.  Cameron Newton and his family have become the victim of a rogue agent with a questionable past and of other people who are out to hurt Cam Newton and his family."

Who exactly those people are trying to hurt Newton and his family, I don't know, though Paul Finebaum seems to think he does.  

It's not all that crazy to think that Kenny Rogers, if he did ask Mississippi State for the money to get Cam Newton, was acting on his own.  Maybe he thought that if he got $200,000 he could keep some of it and then use the rest to try and sway Newton to reunite with his former offensive coordinator, Dan Mullen. I'm not saying that this is what happened, but given everything we've learned about agents and college football players this year, does anything surprise you at this point?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com