Tag:Dabo Swinney
Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:03 pm
 

ACC poll reactions, Week 12

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the ACC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

6/4. Virginia Tech

Happy to see the Hokies getting some national attention in their current six-game tear, but their body of work makes the Top 5 seem a little high. Virginia Tech could be the next top five team to fall, as they have to travel to Charlottesville and beat Virginia to earn a bid to Charlotte to defend their ACC Championship. But while the ranking may seem a tad high, there is good reason for their newfound respect from the voters. Outside of the 14-10 win at Duke, Virginia Tech has been rolling through their conference schedule. Logan Thomas continues to improve at quarterback as the season winds down, and David Wilson has been raising eyebrows with his ACC-leading 131.1 yards per game on the ground.

18/17. Clemson

With an opening in the BCS top ten thanks to the upsets, Clemson really dropped the ball (literally) in their loss to NC State. The Tigers turned the ball over four times, and slept-walk through most of the first half against the Wolfpack. With superstar freshman Sammy Watkins (shoulder) on the sideline in sweats, Tajh Boyd looked elsewhere for big plays to mount a comeback. Unfortunately he looked to the other team, throwing two red zone interceptions during the second half before being replaced by Cole Stoudt. Clemson has trailed in the first half of their last three games, losing two. The Tigers face South Carolina this weekend before taking on either Virginia or Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.

24/25. Virginia

The biggest surprise of the season has to be Virginia's performance in their second under Mike London. The Cavaliers were projected to finish at 4th or worst in the ACC Coastal Division, and after the gritty 14-13 upset of Florida State they are just one win away from making their first appearance in the ACC Championship Game. It was the first time Virginia has ever won in Tallahassee, and it gives Virginia a shot at their first 9-win season since 2007.

25/21. Georgia Tech

Like so many teams in the ACC, Yellow Jackets narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of Duke on Saturday. The Blue Devils caused a stir by jumping out to an early lead, falling behind, and then rallying again; but a late Sean Renfree interception and big plays from Tevin Washington kept Georgia Tech alive in their march for 10 wins. With the ACC Coastal out of reach, double-digit wins has become to new goal for the 8-3 Yellow Jackets. Next up is the annual meeting with SEC East champion Georgia, played this year at home in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Others receiving votes:Florida State falls from the rankings, but manages to collect a single vote from the coaches after the home loss to Virginia. No other teams from the conference made a ballot in either poll.

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 8:57 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 12



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. As expected, there have been some drastic changes after the dramatic upsets of Week 12.  For the first time since 2001, three teams in the top five of the BCS standings lost in the same weekend.  Now we are left with three teams from the SEC West fighting not only for a division title, but a shot to play for the national championship.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU:How pretty are the Tigers sitting? As a unanimous No. 1 in both BSC polls and the consensus No. 1 across the computer rankings, it's possible that LSU could lose this week's showdown with No. 3 Arkansas and still go to New Orleans for a BCS title shot. It might take a little help -- like Georgia upending the Hogs or Alabama in the SEC title game, or voters ranking the three hypothetical SEC West champs in a way that sends the Tigers to Atlanta -- but when you have this much power consolidated at the top of the BCS standings, that's the kind of advantage you earn. - Jerry Hinnen


2. Alabama: Just win, baby. Thanks to this past weekend's widespread BCS carnage, the Tide have come all the way back from their home loss to LSU to control their own national championship destiny. Defeat bitter Iron Bowl rivals Auburn this week, and they'll be all but a lock for a national title shot in the event of an LSU win ... and if Arkansas pulls the shocker and the BCS shakeout sends the Tide to Atlanta to face the Dawgs, a win there would do the trick just as well. At this point, it's hard to construct a scenario -- a dominating Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma paired with a lackluster showing vs. Auburn seems the only remotely feasible one -- in which the Tide win out and don't play for it all. - JH


3. Arkansas: Remember when the Razorbacks were going to take a sizable step back after the departure of Ryan Mallett? Instead the Hogs have climbed to BCS heights even Mallett couldn't touch, with only one win standing between Bobby Petrino's team and the sort of total standings chaos that could give them a crack at their first BCS title. Of course, that win is going to be the single hardest win to come by in college football this season: against LSU in Baton Rouge. And even with a win, the Hogs' chances would depend (and depend heavily) on how voters ranked the three SEC West teams locked in their unbreakable tie atop the division. But whatever happens vs. the Tigers, this 2011 season has proven beyond a doubt that Petrino's program isn't going anywhere as a national power. - JH


4. Oklahoma State:This is probably the best Oklahoma State could have hoped for following its loss to Iowa State. The Cowboys caught a huge break on Saturday with Oregon losing, but Oklahoma's loss hurt it as much as it helped to keep the Cowboys in the top four. Now if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma to finish the season, it may not mean as much. In other words, the biggest Auburn and LSU fans next weekend may reside in Stillwater. - Tom Fornelli


5. Virginia Tech:The Hokies may not pass the "eye test" as the fourth best team in the nation for some, but Virginia Tech's ability to close out opponents on their current six-game winning streak kept them moving up while the competition falls. There have been hiccups, like the 14-10 victory over Duke, but Frank Beamer reaches double-digit wins for the eighth straight season with the win over North Carolina. But maintaining this top ranking will be no cakewalk, as the Hokies travel to Charlottesville to face in-state rival Virginia with a berth to the ACC Championship Game on the line. - Chip Patterson


6. Stanford:The Pac-12's only one-loss team is sixth in the latest standings yet can still be shut out of a BCS bowl this season. They'll need two of the trio of Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech to lose so they can slide into the top four and ensure they're headed somewhere (likely the Fiesta). A home game against a ranked Notre Dame team this week should provide a nice boost in the final standings. - Bryan Fischer


7. Boise State:While the Broncos' toughest heartbreak undoubtedly was the loss to TCU at home a week ago, the upset specials in Week 12 twisted the knife for Boise State fans. As top teams in the nation fell one-by-one, Kellen Moore and the Broncos had to be thinking "what if" as arguably their best opportunity to move into the top 2 of the BCS standings occurs a week after their first home loss under Chris Petersen. Boise State's only hope now is for more teams to fall in the final two weeks, allowing the Broncos to sneak into an at-large bid. - CP

8. Houston:If college football made sense then Houston would be ranked second right now, as it's the only other undefeated team in the FBS along with LSU right now. Unfortunately, the BCS isn't about a level playing ground for all, and if an undefeated Boise State team or TCU team weren't good enough in recent seasons, then Houston doesn't have a chance. I mean, it's already 10-0 and it's just now cracking the top ten. - TF


9. Oklahoma:The Sooners may still be in the top ten of the BCS, but this team's title chances are gone. There's really nothing that can happen at this point that will move the Sooners from 9th to the top two over the final weeks. Still, Oklahoma still has a Big 12 title to play for which would sent it to the Fiesta Bowl. Something it has to win to reach the BCS this January because another loss against Iowa State or Oklahoma State will ruin any chance for an at-large bid. - TF


10. Oregon:The Ducks fell six spots after their home loss to USC and are out of the national title race but remain in the top 10. They still control their destiny in the Pac-12 race and are looking at a likely trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl against an average Big Ten opponent. With plenty of games to be played, Oregon can rebound and move back up in the rankings by the end of the season with two mediocre - at best - Pac-12 opponents left on the schedule. - BF

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 8:57 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 12



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. As expected, there have been some drastic changes after the dramatic upsets of Week 12.  For the first time since 2001, three teams in the top five of the BCS standings lost in the same weekend.  Now we are left with three teams from the SEC West fighting not only for a division title, but a shot to play for the national championship.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU:How pretty are the Tigers sitting? As a unanimous No. 1 in both BSC polls and the consensus No. 1 across the computer rankings, it's possible that LSU could lose this week's showdown with No. 3 Arkansas and still go to New Orleans for a BCS title shot. It might take a little help -- like Georgia upending the Hogs or Alabama in the SEC title game, or voters ranking the three hypothetical SEC West champs in a way that sends the Tigers to Atlanta -- but when you have this much power consolidated at the top of the BCS standings, that's the kind of advantage you earn. - Jerry Hinnen


2. Alabama: Just win, baby. Thanks to this past weekend's widespread BCS carnage, the Tide have come all the way back from their home loss to LSU to control their own national championship destiny. Defeat bitter Iron Bowl rivals Auburn this week, and they'll be all but a lock for a national title shot in the event of an LSU win ... and if Arkansas pulls the shocker and the BCS shakeout sends the Tide to Atlanta to face the Dawgs, a win there would do the trick just as well. At this point, it's hard to construct a scenario -- a dominating Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma paired with a lackluster showing vs. Auburn seems the only remotely feasible one -- in which the Tide win out and don't play for it all. - JH


3. Arkansas: Remember when the Razorbacks were going to take a sizable step back after the departure of Ryan Mallett? Instead the Hogs have climbed to BCS heights even Mallett couldn't touch, with only one win standing between Bobby Petrino's team and the sort of total standings chaos that could give them a crack at their first BCS title. Of course, that win is going to be the single hardest win to come by in college football this season: against LSU in Baton Rouge. And even with a win, the Hogs' chances would depend (and depend heavily) on how voters ranked the three SEC West teams locked in their unbreakable tie atop the division. But whatever happens vs. the Tigers, this 2011 season has proven beyond a doubt that Petrino's program isn't going anywhere as a national power. - JH


4. Oklahoma State:This is probably the best Oklahoma State could have hoped for following its loss to Iowa State. The Cowboys caught a huge break on Saturday with Oregon losing, but Oklahoma's loss hurt it as much as it helped to keep the Cowboys in the top four. Now if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma to finish the season, it may not mean as much. In other words, the biggest Auburn and LSU fans next weekend may reside in Stillwater. - Tom Fornelli


5. Virginia Tech:The Hokies may not pass the "eye test" as the fourth best team in the nation for some, but Virginia Tech's ability to close out opponents on their current six-game winning streak kept them moving up while the competition falls. There have been hiccups, like the 14-10 victory over Duke, but Frank Beamer reaches double-digit wins for the eighth straight season with the win over North Carolina. But maintaining this top ranking will be no cakewalk, as the Hokies travel to Charlottesville to face in-state rival Virginia with a berth to the ACC Championship Game on the line. - Chip Patterson


6. Stanford:The Pac-12's only one-loss team is sixth in the latest standings yet can still be shut out of a BCS bowl this season. They'll need two of the trio of Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech to lose so they can slide into the top four and ensure they're headed somewhere (likely the Fiesta). A home game against a ranked Notre Dame team this week should provide a nice boost in the final standings. - Bryan Fischer


7. Boise State:While the Broncos' toughest heartbreak undoubtedly was the loss to TCU at home a week ago, the upset specials in Week 12 twisted the knife for Boise State fans. As top teams in the nation fell one-by-one, Kellen Moore and the Broncos had to be thinking "what if" as arguably their best opportunity to move into the top 2 of the BCS standings occurs a week after their first home loss under Chris Petersen. Boise State's only hope now is for more teams to fall in the final two weeks, allowing the Broncos to sneak into an at-large bid. - CP

8. Houston:If college football made sense then Houston would be ranked second right now, as it's the only other undefeated team in the FBS along with LSU right now. Unfortunately, the BCS isn't about a level playing ground for all, and if an undefeated Boise State team or TCU team weren't good enough in recent seasons, then Houston doesn't have a chance. I mean, it's already 10-0 and it's just now cracking the top ten. - TF


9. Oklahoma:The Sooners may still be in the top ten of the BCS, but this team's title chances are gone. There's really nothing that can happen at this point that will move the Sooners from 9th to the top two over the final weeks. Still, Oklahoma still has a Big 12 title to play for which would sent it to the Fiesta Bowl. Something it has to win to reach the BCS this January because another loss against Iowa State or Oklahoma State will ruin any chance for an at-large bid. - TF


10. Oregon:The Ducks fell six spots after their home loss to USC and are out of the national title race but remain in the top 10. They still control their destiny in the Pac-12 race and are looking at a likely trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl against an average Big Ten opponent. With plenty of games to be played, Oregon can rebound and move back up in the rankings by the end of the season with two mediocre - at best - Pac-12 opponents left on the schedule. - BF

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 3:38 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 3:48 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 12



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: NC State's defense

It seemed like an impossible task for NC State fans to comprehend following the 14-10 loss to Boston College. Beat Clemson and Maryland to reach bowl eligibility for the second straight season. The same Clemson that clinched the ACC Atlantic Division title three weeks before the end of the season and ranked in the Top 10 of the BCS standings. But the Tigers' mortality was exposed by Terrell Manning and the NC State defense in a 37-13 conference beatdown on Saturday. The Wolfpack took note of Wake Forest's gameplan to frustrate and confuse quarterback Tajh Boyd with multiple looks, and executed the plan to perfection while quarterback Mike Glennon took advantage of fantastic field position to put the game out of reach before halftime. The defensive unit was led by an unbelievable effort from linebacker Manning, who recorded eight tackles, forced a fumble, and recovered another in an omnipresent showing for the Wolfpack. It would not be a solid NC State defensive performance without a mention of cornerback David Amerson, who tied the ACC single-season record for interceptions with his 11th pick in the second half. All around dominant performance by NC State, and the defense was the primary benefactor.

LOSER: Clemson's BCS bowl probability

The Tigers could afford to lose to NC State and still accomplish all of their goals for the season. After the loss to Georgia Tech knocked them from the national championship discussion, head coach Dabo Swinney reminded media members the goals were to a) win the ACC Coastal b) Win the state championship and c) win the ACC championship. With the division title locked up and the annual showdown with South Carolina a week away, Clemson could afford to lose this game and still win an ACC Championship. But with a Top 10 BCS ranking and many of the top teams losing in Week 12, the Tigers could have been in a position to earn an at-large BCS bid in the event they lose the Championship Game on Dec. 3. But with the embarrassing loss to NC State, Clemson's only chance to reach a BCS bowl likely will be to beat either Virginia or Virginia Tech to claim the ACC's bid to the Orange Bowl.

WINNER: Virginia Tech's ACC Dominance

The Hokies survived a late push from North Carolina on Thursday night to remain undefeated against division opponents with the 24-21 win. Virginia Tech's sixth straight conference win sets up a showdown with in-state rival Virginia next Saturday with a bid to the ACC Championship Game on the line. If the Hokies can knock off the surging Cavs it would be the fifth Coastal Division title in seven years for Frank Beamer, now the nation's winningest active coach. A spot in the ACC title game would not only give the 10-1 Hokies an outside shot at an at-large BCS bid, but it would allow Virginia Tech to seek revenge for the 23-3 loss to Clemson in early October. The Tigers have been reeling since that battle in Blacksburg, and the Hokies have improved dramatically since the setback. Wake Forest and NC State have exposed Clemson's weaknesses offensively, and you can bet Bud Foster will take note of the adjustments should the two teams meet against in Charlotte with an Orange Bowl bid on the line. Since joining the ACC, no team has dominated the league quite like Virginia Tech. It only seems appropriate that Clemson and/or Virginia have to pass through Beamer to reach ACC supremacy.

LOSER: North Carolina's bowl stock

While North Carolina was one of the first teams in the ACC to reach bowl eligibility with a 6-3 start, their stock in the conference pecking order has been on a downward spiral for the last month. The Tar Heels have lost four of their last five, with two losses decided by six points or less. As coaching rumors light up the message boards and blogosphere, interim head coach Everett Withers and the staff is trying to make the most of 2011. The Tar Heels have suffered several unforeseen setbacks, but Gio Bernard's exit from Thursday night's Virginia Tech game was one of the most costly losses of the season. Bernard is already the first North Carolina running back to break the 1,000 yard mark since Jonathan Linton accomplished the feat in 1997, and his absence was felt in the fourth quarter of Thursday's 24-21 loss as the Tar Heels fought to get back into the game. The redshirt freshman has played through hip and ankle injuries this season, but the head/neck diagnosis after a hard helmet-to-helmet hit ended Bernard's night. The Tar Heels still have their annual rivalry with Duke left on the schedule, and Tar Heel fans are hoping Bernard will be cleared to play. After seeing Duke's effort in the 38-31 loss to Georgia Tech, you can bet the Blue Devils will bring their best shot to Chapel HIll in an attempt to re-paint the Victory Bell.

WINNER: Al Golden

It was an ugly game filled with punts and penalties, but after getting 41 yard attempt tipped earlier Jake Wieclaw drilled the 36 yard field goal to win the game and make Miami bowl eligible. For first-year head coach Al Golden, bowl eligibility is a great accomplishment considering the setbacks and off-field distractions tied to the Nevin Shapiro investigation. Golden has overcome suspensions to key players, questions about his commitment to the job, and wildly inconsistent play from his team to get the Hurricanes to six wins. The heralded recruiting class of 2008, led by Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, among others, will get one final opportunity to suit up in Sun Life Stadium when the Hurricanes wrap up the regular season against Boston College on Friday. If you want to know what kind of impact Golden has had on this team in just one year, pay attention to the emotions of the seniors next weekend. Golden has credited them as being the leaders to buy in from day one, and I expect they will play inspired in possibly their final game. With NCAA sanctions almost certainly coming as a result of the Nevin Shapiro investigation, some have suggested the Hurricanes self-impose a bowl ban starting this season. The next several weeks will be interesting in Coral Gables, seeing how the school handles bowl eligibility, but at least they are in the position to have that option.

LOSER: Florida State's clock management

The Seminoles play-calling and execution on the final drive nearly cost them the game twice before Dustin Hopkins missed the potential game-winning 43-yard field goal. Florida State started at their own 40 yard line with two timeouts, but bled the clock and burned timeouts by keeping the ball in the middle of the field without getting first downs. Head coach Jimbo Fisher was bailed out first by a face mask call on fourth down and then by the video review of Bert Reed's completion/incompletion to give Hopkins a shot to win the game. Even with multiple opportunities, the Seminoles couldn't get over their own mistakes in a sloppy loss to Mike London's Cavaliers. While the Seminoles' defense stepped up to the challenge of shutting down Virginia's rushing attack, execution on both sides of the ball fell apart in the final minutes of the game.


WINNERS: Chris Givens

Somewhere lost in the madness of the upsets in Week 12 was Wake Forest turning around a 1-7 conference record into 5-3 and becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. Head coach Jim Grobe returned 17 starters from last season's squad, but few have been more important to 2011's success than Chris Givens. The junior wide receiver recorded season-highs in catches (8) and yards (191) in the Demon Deacons' 31-10 win over Maryland to wrap up the ACC schedule. The big day helped him break a 22-year old single season receiving record, set by Ricky Proehl in 1989. Givens has recorded triple-digit receiving performances seven times this season, teaming with Michael Campanaro as one of the most dangerous duos in the ACC. Wake Forest wraps up the regular season next week at home against Vanderbilt, but their final 5-3 conference record is quite the achievement for a team predicted to finish at the bottom of the conference.

LOSER: Year One in Randy Edsall's "dream job"

Maryland was Randy Edsall's "dream job," but the nightmare continues for the Terps after suffering their seventh straight loss to Wake Forest. Maryland hung with the Demon Deacons for a half, before Tanner Price began to pick apart the Terps' defense on the way to 24 second half points. Price finished the day with 320 yards passing, three touchdowns, and no interceptions as Edsall was once again left with the difficult task of explaining what has happened to this team. The transition has been rocky, but I get the feeling we haven't seen the worst of it yet as reports of transfers and more locker room dissension continue to grow out of College Park.

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 6:58 pm
 

QUICK HITS: NC State 37, No. 7 Clemson 13

Posted by Chip Patterson

NC STATE WON. The Wolfpack put themselves in a tough position needing back-to-back victories over No. 7 Clemson and Maryland in order to reach bowl eligibility, but on Saturday they kept those hopes alive by stunning the Tigers 37-13 in Raleigh. Head coach Tom O'Brien got a Gatorade shower on the sideline as the team celebrated his first victory over Clemson, the program's first in Raleigh since 2003.

HOW NC STATE WON: Tom O'Brien and the NC State coaching staff had a gameplan for the high-powered Tigers, and they executed it to perfection for four quarters. Defensive coordinator Mike Archer no doubt saw the way Wake Forest frustrated Tajh Boyd with multiple looks, and the Wolfpack were on their toes, swarming to make plays all over the field. Two forced fumbles in the first half resulted in scores, with another touchdown coming thanks to a big punt return from T.J. Graham. By the time Clemson woke up from their sleepy start, NC State was out to a 24-3 lead in the second quarter. The lead made the Tigers one-dimensional, and NC State's defensive backs delivered a pair of second half interceptions to help shut down Clemson drives.

WHEN NC STATE WON: This ball game ended at some point during NC State's five-score second quarter. Fumbles from Tajh Boyd and Mike Bellamy turned into scores, and Clemson's inability to move the ball down the field made life easy for NC State quarterback Mike Glennon. The Tigers put together come-from-behind victories against Maryland and Wake Forest this season, but down 27-3 at halftime it did not feel like Clemson had a chance to get back in the game.

WHAT NC STATE WON: Bowl eligibility seemed like a pipe dream after the disappointing 14-10 loss to Boston College. The Wolfpack offense had only produced 23 combined points in their last three contests, so keeping up with Clemson seemed like a daunting task. But Saturday was just a matter of NC State wanting the win more. They game in well-prepared and executed their gameplan for sixty minutes. It was an impressive performance in all aspects of the game, and NC State fans should feel good about their chances next week against a struggling Maryland squad.

WHAT CLEMSON LOST: All of their momentum heading into a pivotal three game stretch. Clemson has fallen behind in four of their last five games, including the two losses. Their Top 10 ranking in the BCS standings put them in a position to possibly earn a BCS bowl bid even with a loss in the ACC Championship Game. Now they will likely fall too far down the standings to earn a BCS bid any other way than claiming the conference's spot in the Orange Bowl. This game was expected to be a test of Clemson's focus, and the young Tigers squad failed their examination.

THAT WAS CRAZY: NC State did not just stun the conference by upsetting the Atlantic Division champs, but they also did some damage to the ACC record book. Cornerback David Amerson tied Dre Bly's single-season interception record with his 11th pick in the third quarter, and wide receiver T.J. Graham broke the ACC career record for kickoff return yards. Not a bad day for a pair of NC State's stars.



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Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:26 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 12

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.

It's a bit of a low-carb diet this week thanks to most of the SEC deciding to take the week off and test itself against stalwarts like Georgia Southern and Furman, but that doesn't mean there aren't games out there worthy of your time. Besides, let's be honest with ourselves. We didn't really want to say anything to you about it, but you've been gorging on some great games the last few months and you're starting to get a bit pudgy around the edges.

You could use some lighter fare this weekend.

BREAKFAST

#18 Michigan vs. #16 Nebraska - ESPN 12pm ET

Michigan State may have the Legends division title all but sewn up, but if there's an at-large BCS bid to be had, it'll probably come from the winner of this game. As for reasons to watch instead of just care, come on. It's Denard Robinson. It's Rex Burkhead. There'll be some highlight plays in this one. - Adam Jacobi

Illinois vs. #17 Wisconsin - ESPN2 12pm ET

It's probably no exaggeration to say that Ron Zook's job at Illinois is on the line in this game; Zook, now the second-most tenured coach in the Big Ten, has seen his team drop four straight games and look listless in the process. Montee Ball would be happy to contribute a touchdown or five to Zook's going-away party, but can Illinois' stout defense save the day -- and the coach? - AJ

Rutgers vs. Cincinnati - ESPNU 12pm ET

After only winning one conference game in 2010 (Greg Schiano's worst conference record since 2004) and finishing dead last, the Scarlet Knights are in the hunt for BCS bowl bid.  The Bearcats have lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros for the season to an ankle injury, and now sophomore Munchie Legaux will face a the best defense in the conference to try and bounce back from their first league loss.  Cincinnati still holds one game on the rest of the conference, and can win the title outright if they win out.  Rutgers needs to win out as well, but also get some help to win the tie-breaker. The Big East slate is thin this weekend, but there will be enough on the line to expect the best effort from both teams. - Chip Patterson

#14 Georgia vs. Kentucky - SEC Network 12:21pm ET

There's one reason to tune into this game and one reason alone: to see how the Bulldogs react to winning the SEC East for the first time since 2005. As a competitive contest, well, one of these teams defeated Auburn by 38 points last week, while the other lost by 30 to Vanderbilt. Still, it's not every day you get to see how Mark Richt reacts to a Gatorade shower. - Jerry Hinnen

LUNCH

#6 Arkansas vs. Mississippi State - CBS 3:30pm ET

Dan Mullen's Bulldogs gave Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks fits last season, taking the eventual Sugar Bowl representatives into overtime. Could they do the same this year, with a potential SEC West title still on the line for the Hogs and the game in Little Rock? A somnabulant offense says "probably not", but in corner Johnathan Banks and tackle Fletcher Cox, the Bulldogs do have the defensive weapons to at least slow down Tyler Wilson and Co. - JH

Ohio State vs. #21 Penn State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

For the multitudes of distractions facing Penn State, it still has two tough games to play, and it still has a division lead to protect. The Nittany Lions' first step is taking on an up-and-down Ohio State team that's going to try to wear down the PSU defense with its troika of tailbacks and dual-threat (if you can call his arm a threat) QB Braxton Miller. This'll be a classic Big Ten game, with pads a-popping, defenses a-stifling, and running backs a-barreling for four quarters. - AJ

N.C. State vs. #7 Clemson - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

This all be the ultimate test of focus for Dabo Swinney's young squad.  The Tigers set goals to win the division, state championship, and ACC Championship.  With the division clinched and South Carolina waiting next week, Clemson could lose to the Wolfpack and still accomplish their goals.  NC State needs to beat Clemson and Maryland in order to be bowl eligible for the second straight season.  The Tigers have an outside shot to still make a BCS bowl game if they lose in the ACC Championship, but even those long odds would be erased with a loss on Saturday.  Both teams are explosive and capable of scoring quickly, so expect the unexpected in this ACC battle. - CP

Missouri vs. Texas Tech - ABC 3:30pm ET

A bit of a last stand for Texas Tech, which has lost five of its last six games after starting the season 4-0. The Red Raiders still need one more win to become bowl eligible, and it won't be easy to get there. Missouri is a team that's proven it's capable of beating anybody in the Big 12 on any given Saturday, though you do have to wonder how this team will perform on its Senior Day without Gary Pinkel who is serving a suspension for a DWI arrest earlier this week. - Tom Fornelli

DINNER

#25 Florida State vs. Virginia - ESPN2 7:30pm ET

The Seminoles are on a five-game game winning streak since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup, averaging over 35 points per game.  But the "turnaround" from the early season setbacks has been not only the result of improved play from Florida State, but also the advantage of facing much more favorable competition.  Four the teams in the streak have defenses ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, and other game was the 34-0 shutout of NC State at home.  Virginia's defense ranks third in the ACC, and the Cavaliers are arguably just as hot winning five of their last six.  Mike London's new power rushing attack has helped the team reach bowl eligibility in just his second year, but Saturday will be a true test of how "legit" this ACC Coastal contender is heading into the postseason. - CP

#4 Oregon vs. USC - ABC 8pm ET

Like offense? This game is for you. The Ducks are well on their way to another conference title and can clinch hosting the first ever Pac-12 Championship game with a win. The Trojans have designs on an upset however and it's not out of the realm of possibilities with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods on the field. - Bryan Fischer

#22 Baylor vs. #5 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET

So far this season Baylor has lived on beating the lower-tiered teams of the Big 12 and struggling against the conference's best. This is the Bears last chance at a marquee victory in 2011, and it's probably catching Oklahoma at the best possible time. The Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles to knee injuries the last couple of weeks, and while there's never a good time to suffer such blows on offense, it hurts a bit more when you have to go head-to-head with Baylor's offense. There could be a big upset brewing in Waco. - TF

#23 Texas vs. #13 Kansas State - FX 8pm ET

Here's something you might not know: Kansas State has beaten Texas the last three times the schools have met, with Texas' last victory over the Wildcats coming in 2003. It's a losing streak that the Longhorns would really like to put an end to, though it won't be easy against a Kansas State offense built around Collin Klein. This should be a pretty interesting matchup boasting the Big 12's best run defense and its best running quarterback/battering ram. - TF

LATE NIGHT SNACK

#9 Stanford vs. Cal - ESPN 10:15pm ET

The band won't be on the field for this one (well, they will, but at halftime not on the final play) but the Big Game will still have plenty of memorable moments when you consider that Andrew Luck is playing and looking to make up for last week's loss. - BF 
Posted on: November 17, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 12



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

I was able to make up some ground against Woman last week, though not nearly as much as I had hoped to as we're approaching the finish line here and I don't have a lot of time. Unfortunately, this week I won't gain any ground at all. It took 12 weeks for it to happen, but for the first time, Woman and Man have the same picks in all 10 games this week. 

Is it a coincidence? Probably, as we both hand over our picks to each other at the same time to assure there's no foul play. Still, is there a chance that she infiltrated my mind using female powers in an attempt to extract my picks and make sure she made the same ones so I couldn't pick up any games on her? I'm not ruling it out. Science is yet to scratch the surface of women's intuition, so we can't be sure what their full powers are.

What this means is that this will be the week that Machine either gets all the way back into the game or falls out of the race, as it does not agree with us on a few games. So without further ado, let's get to the picks.

Virginia Tech (-10 1/2) vs. North Carolina - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - I'm not sure how North Carolina went from scoring 49 points and beating Wake Forest to being shut out by N.C. State, but that's not the kind of thing that makes me want to put any faith in the Tar Heels. So even though I'm not completely sold on the Hokies yet, I'm still going with Tech. Pick: Virginia Tech

Woman - "The Hokies beat Georgia Tech by 11 points on the road last week, so I don't think the Tar Heels will pose much of a problem at home." Pick: Virginia Tech

Machine - The Machine makes this one a clean sweep as it doesn't see the Tar Heels doing all that much to make this one interesting late, as the Hokies win 31-16. Pick: Virginia Tech

Michigan (-3 1/2) vs. Nebraska - Saturday, 12pm

Man - This is an incredibly important game for both teams and their chances to play in the first Big Ten Championship, and though at times Michigan does some things on offense that make me shake my head, I'm going to go with the homefield advantage in this one. Though it'll be fun to see Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez facing off to see who can miss their receivers by more. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "In an alternate Star Trekian universe, did you know the Cornhusker receivers morph into a Taiwanese father?" Pick: Michigan

Machine - The Machine foretells of Michigan falling out of the Big Ten Legends race when the Cornhuskers come to Ann Arbor and beat the Wolverines 27-24. Pick: Nebraska

Illinois vs. Wisconsin (-14 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Let's see, an Illinois team in a free fall that will probably hear news of their head coach being fired soon, or a Wisconsin team that's lost on two Hail Marys and has dominated just about everybody else. Such a tough decision! Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "Three weeks ago, Illinois lost to Purdue 21-14. One week later, Wisconsin beat Purdue 62-17. Maybe the Badgers will get Zook'ed but I doubt it." Pick: Wisconsin

Machine - The Machine thinks that this game will be closer than most expect given what we've seen from Illinois over the last month, but Wisconsin still prevails 37-28. Pick: Illinois

N.C. State vs. Clemson (-7 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Honestly, if there was ever going to be a game that Clemson goes all Clemson on us and pees down its own leg, this would be it, wouldn't it? Still, I don't think that's going to happen as there's just way too much talent on this team. Pick: Clemson

Woman - "With the ACC Atlantic Division clinched and a match-up against rival South Carolina looming, many assume Clemson won't be focused. But coach Dabo Swinney will remind his team its pride is at stake, especially since N.C. State played a better game against Georgia Tech than the Tigers did." Pick: Clemson

Machine - The Wolfpack is going to get blown out in Raleigh this week, as The Machine sees Clemson winning this game 41-17. Pick: Clemson

Ohio State (-6 1/2) vs. Penn State - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Listen, before all of the terrible news to come out of Happy Valley surfaced, there was another secret about the Penn State football team that nobody seemed to realize. It's just not that good. Ohio State hasn't been great this season, either, but I don't think that will matter all that much on Saturday. Pick: Ohio State

Woman - "Two teams fractured due to very different circumstances. Feels like a coin flip - going with home field advantage." Pick: Ohio State

Machine - It's unanimous, as Dan Herron rushes for 187 yards and 3 scores against this Penn State defense to give Ohio State a 24-13 win and further muddy up the Leaders Division. Pick: Ohio State

Arkansas (-13 1/2) vs. Mississippi State - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Here's a list of SEC West teams not named Ole Miss that Dan Mullen has beaten since taking over at Mississippi State: none. So until that changes I'm not picking Mississippi State to even cover. Pick: Arkansas

Woman - "Over the last two weeks, the Razorbacks have gone on an SEC scoring spree, putting 44 and 49 points on the board against South Carolina and Tennessee, respectively. The most points Mississippi State has put up against a ranked team this season was 24. Fear the inexplicably adorable, calorically challenged Tusk." Pick: Arkansas

Machine - Arkansas keeps its SEC Championship and BCS hopes alive in a relatively easy 49-34 win over the Bulldogs. Pick: Arkansas

Baylor vs. Oklahoma (-14 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Baylor has not had its best games of the season against the strongest teams in the Big 12 this season, which initially had me leaning toward the Sooners. What changed that, however, was that I'm not sure what this Oklahoma offense will look like without Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley, and that those Baylor losses all came on the road. I don't know that Baylor wins this outright, but I think it's going to be a close game. Pick: Baylor

Woman - "Robert Griffin III's sizzle is oh-so-mesmerizing but let's focus on facts. The Bears have scored an average of 36 points a game this season -  the Sooners, an average of 45 points. So, Okies win but don't cover." Pick: Baylor

Machine - The Machine is not worried about the absence of Ryan Broyles, for it believes in Kenny Stills and sees him catching 10 passes for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns. Oklahoma wins 41-24. Pick: Oklahoma

Texas (-9 1/2) vs. Kansas State - Saturday, 8pm

Man - You want this spread explained? No problem. There's no way Vegas is going to get any action on the Kansas State side if it lists the Wildcats as a favorite. People would just jump on Texas and the points not realizing that Kansas State beat Texas 39-14 last season in what was Collin Klein's coming out party. Now Klein is taking every snap and the Longhorns are decimated by injuries in the backfield. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "I'm not sure what Texas has done to deserve this spread, especially with last week's pantsing by Missouri." Pick: Kansas State

Machine - The Machine just really does not like Kansas State. Week after week it picks against it, and that doesn't change now. Texas wins 31-20. Pick: Texas

Oregon (-14 1/2) vs. USC - Saturday, 8pm

Man - USC has played in close games all season, which made me want to take the Trojans and the points this week but with Robert Woods' status in question at the moment, I'm not as comfortable with the Trojans in Eugene. So I'm going to roll with Oregon, though I wouldn't be shocked if USC keeps it close or even wins outright. Pick: Oregon

Woman - "In these closing weeks, the Trojans are coming on strong but against the Oregon juggernaut, I'd suggest they just duck and cover. (By the way, after watching the Arkansas version above, who'd have guessed USC has its own inexplicably adorable, calorically challenged version of Tusk? Hey, us Americans, we're not so different after all!)" Pick: Oregon

Machine - Go ahead and hand Oregon its Pac-12 title. The Ducks stomp the Trojans 52-21. Pick: Oregon

Stanford (-19.5) vs. Cal - Saturday, 10:15pm

Man - Last week was the first time Stanford didn't cover a spread since last season, but that's not going to deter me from picking the Cardinal once again. The main reason for this being that Cal is not Oregon. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Speaking of animal mascots, if affluent Stanford ever choses one, it should be a NSFW hip-hop horse that kicks butt. Specifically, Cal's butt." Pick: Stanford 

Machine - The Machine sees Stanford winning this game rather easily, but a late fourth quarter touchdown by Cal kills the cover. Stanford wins 42-24. Pick: Cal

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Woman 65-50 (4-6)
2. Man 63-52 (5-5)
3. Machine 61-54 (5-5) 
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Clemson at NC State

Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: They can take care of the ball. The Tigers' offensive potency is well-documented, but their recklessness almost cost them a chance at their first ACC Championship since 1991. In the last two games - 31-17 loss to Georgia Tech and 31-28 win over Wake Forest - the Tigers have turned the ball over seven times. The Tigers can score in a hurry, but games like the 18-point comeback at Maryland will be much tougher with a banged up Sammy Watkins (shoulder) and shifting along the offensive line. Clemson has an advantage over the Wolfpack on paper, but must keep their focus and take care of the ball to reverse the downward trends of the recent weeks.

NC STATE WILL WIN IF: The Wolfpack back seven play their best game of the year. Led by the nation's interception leader David Amerson, the NC State back seven have the opportunity to step up and keep bowl hopes alive with an upset. The unit played especially well in wins over Virginia and North Carolina, demonstrating great gap discipline and forcing tough throws that resulted in interceptions. The defense played well enough to win on the road against Boston College last week, but got no help from the other side of the ball. With Clemson's offensive firepower, the first concern will be frustrating and shutting down Tajh Boyd. If you let Boyd get comfortable, like Wake Forest did late in the game last Saturday, he will eventually figure out ways to beat you.

X-FACTOR: Clemson's focus. With the ACC Atlantic Division locked up, the Tigers could potentially lose this game and still accomplish many of the same achievable goals on the season. A loss on Saturday would still give them the opportunity to win the ACC Championship and potentially the Orange Bowl. Still several spots away in the BCS standings, it is unlikely that Clemson's best-case scenario is anything other than the Orange Bowl. But Dabo Swinney knows his young Tigers team needs to take every game as an opportunity to get better, especially if they want to win a potential rematch with Virginia Tech in the title game come December.

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