Posted on: November 17, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 7:13 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Following his arrest on Wednesday night for suspicion of DWI, I wrote that Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel should not allow himself to coach his team against Texas Tech on Saturday. My reasoning for this was that it was only fair that a head coach who had suspended players for two games earlier this season for the same offense he committed be held to the same standards.
Well, according to our Missouri Rapid Reporter Dave Matter, that's exactly what Missouri is going to do.
Matter reports that Pinkel has been suspended for a week, including Saturday's game against Texas Tech, without pay. He'll be allowed to return to coaching on Thursday next week before Missouri's game against Kansas.
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel will fill in as head coach in Pinkel's absence.
Matter also reports that Pinkel's weekly salary will be donated to the MU Wellness Resource Center, and that he will not receive a bowl bonus or social responsibility bonus this season. His salary will also be frozen for a year.
Athletic director Mike Alden also warned that any other arrests like this could result in Pinkel's termination.
"This has been an isolated incident and we do not expect any further issues such as this with coach Pinkel. But if in fact anything like that would ever happen again in the future, then further disciplinary action would be necessary in the future, up to and including termination," said Alden on Thursday evening.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 8:35 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
2012 will mark the end of several historic rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas to name a few) due to conference realignment and while the school shuffling won't end any of the Pac-12's longstanding rivalry games, it might force a few of them to move to a different date on the calendar.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, games such as the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State and the Big Game between Stanford and California could be moved from their traditional late November dates to earlier in the month or even October.
“Given the complexities of the scheduling,” Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg told Jon Wilner, “we can’t commit to having the rivalry games stay on Thanksgiving week or the weekend before Thanksgiving.”
Obviously the league office is going to try to be as accommodating as possible and will look to minimize the scheduling issues but with the new Pac-12 media deal with ESPN/Fox starting next year and the launch of the Pac-12 Network, it's likely that not every game will be able to stay in its traditional spot on the schedule. The report notes that the number of Saturdays in the month of November will likely determine how many and which games move. Sources told Wilner that the Bay Area game is the most likely to be moved next season.
One of the best things about football in the conference formerly known as the Pac-10 was that each school had a natural rival in the state that made for a continent travel partner. The move to the Pac-12 will fill the coffers every athletic department but if there's a price to be paid, it's that they might have an earlier than usual rivalry game.
It might be disruptive to a few and upsetting for some fans but looks like something that nobody can do anything about.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:26 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor will have to win this game the same way it does in every game it emerges victorious: by outscoring Oklahoma. This is a team that's ranked 108th in the country in scoring defense, after all, allowing 36 points per game. The good news for Baylor is that it has an offense more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Of course, taking care of the ball while it has it would help a lot too. In the blowout loss to Oklahoma State the Bears turned the ball over 5 times, and last week against Kansas the Bears turned it over 4 times, forcing Robert Griffin to lead a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The best way to limit turnovers will be to protect Griffin from an Oklahoma defensive line that can get to the quarterback, as it's second in the Big 12 with 34 sacks this season. If Griffin gets time, he can pick apart any secondary.
OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: It can overcome the injuries on offense. Normally I'd put Oklahoma's offense on par with Baylor's, but is that still the case now that the Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles in the last two weeks? We can't know for sure because we haven't seen it play without those two yet. Which means that Landry Jones will have to adjust to life without his favorite target and security blanket. Remember, Landry Jones has never played a game as a Sooner in which he didn't have Broyles around to throw to. In the backfield, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have to step up to fill in for Whaley and give the Sooners balance on offense. On defense, the Oklahoma defense needs to pressure Griffin and understand that it's likely going to give up points. It just needs to make a few stops each half too. Something it has proven more than capable of doing all season.
X-FACTOR: Jaz Reynolds. Landry Jones is going to miss having Ryan Broyles around, and is going to need one of his receivers to step up and make some big plays. That player should be Jaz Reynolds, who has stepped up in a big way in Oklahoma's last three games. In that span Reynolds has caught 4 touchdowns, though he only has 215 yards. Against this Baylor secondary, with Jones forced to look his way more often, he could approach that yardage total in just one game.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 3:36 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 3:37 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
There are still two games left in the season for Kansas, and if you asked most Kansas fans how they felt, they'd probably tell you that they hope these are the last two games the team is coached by Turner Gill. Gill is understandably under fire in Lawrence as his Jayhawks team is one of the worst teams in any of the BCS conferences, as they are 2-8 on the season with an 0-7 record in the Big 12, losing conference games by an average of 24 points per game.
Though the feelings the fans have aren't shared by Gill's players. A few of them talked to KUSports.com, and they don't want to see their head coach go anywhere.
“We’re fighting so hard for him and for what people say about him and his job security,” said senior linebacker Steven Johnson. “I really think he should stay here for a long time. He’s a good coach, and we’re just on the brink. We’re fighting. We’re fighting. We’re close, and as soon as we get that win, I’m pretty sure everything’s gonna turn around.
“[Gill's status is] on our minds a little bit. We try not to worry about it, but, at the same time, it’s difficult going through a coaching transition because we’ve created friendships and bonds with all these coaches, and when we never win, it’s hard. And in games like [the 31-30 overtime loss to Baylor], where we should’ve had a win, that’s even more difficult. It just hurts. But I just hope that we continue to give coach Gill a shot because he’s a good coach, and I’m pretty sure this program will turn around.”
Senior lineman Jeff Spikes echoed his teammate's thoughts, but I'm not sure the player's wishes will be enough to save Gill.
Gill is only in his second season at Kansas, which is probably too early to fire any head coach, but Kansas hasn't had much success during Gill's two seasons. In his first 22 games, Gill's Kansas team is 5-17 with a 1-14 record in the Big 12. Compare that to Kansas' 13-12 mark under Mark Mangino in his final two seasons -- though Mangino wasn't fired strictly for performance reasons -- and it seems like the program has gone backward under Gill.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:56 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
2/2. Oklahoma State
Nothing changes for Oklahoma State this week as it stays at #2 in both polls. There isn't much to complain about with this ranking, though I suppose if you want to nitpick, you can mention that LSU got every single first place vote in the country. Are we really that sure that LSU is better than Oklahoma State at this point? I'm not saying LSU shouldn't be first in the rankings, as if I had a ballot they'd be first in mine, but I'm somewhat surprised that there isn't someone out there who would rank the Cowboys ahead of the Tigers. My only point is that I don't think the gap between what LSU has done this season and what Oklahoma State has done is as great as the polls seem to be making it.
The Sooners receive a nice bump despite having the week off. Oklahoma moved up from 7th to 5th in both polls thanks to losses by both Boise State and Stanford. Nothing to complain about with this spot for the Sooners, though it does open some questions. Now that we have so many one-loss teams crossing their fingers and hoping they can sneak into the title game, will the Sooners jump both Oregon and Alabama in the traditional polls if it beats Oklahoma State to end the season? Both schools are ahead of the Sooners right now, which could be a roadblock for the Sooners in these polls and the BCS.
16/17. Kansas State
Kansas State didn't get much of a bump in the AP poll as it climbed only one spot to 16th, but it looks like the coaches finally noticed how this team has played since its loss against Oklahoma. The Wildcats move up from 22nd to 17th in the Coaches Poll following an exciting win over Texas A&M. I don't have any complaints about Kansas State's spot in either poll, but I do feel like if teams were ranked based on the exciting nature of their games, then Kansas State would be a lot higher. Every game this team plays seems to come down to the final quarter.
This is a ranking that confuses me, though not as much as Baylor being ranked 22nd in the BCS. Listen, I understand that Baylor has played one of the toughest schedules in the country this season, as have a lot of teams in the Big 12. But I also understand that in every game against strong competition -- Kansas State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State -- Baylor has lost. In those two losses against A&M and Oklahoma State it has lost by an average of 31 points. It's strongest win is the opener against TCU, which looks better now, but other than that Baylor's best win has been 5-5 Missouri. Plus, are we going to ignore the fact that Baylor needed a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter and overtime to beat Kansas this week? I'm sorry, but if you need overtime to beat Kansas then you shouldn't be ranked.
Others receiving votes
Texas (11 AP/27 Coaches), Missouri (0 AP/ 5 Coaches)
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:31 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Collin Klein's fantasy owners
I know that college fantasy football isn't as popular as the NFL version, but if you do play it and you don't have Collin Klein on your team, then you did something wrong earlier this season. Klein had another amazing game on Saturday as Kansas State beat Texas A&M 53-50 in four overtimes.
What was truly amazing, however, was how dominant Klein was. Kansas State scored 7 touchdowns in the game, 6 of which came courtesy of Klein as he ran for 5 (increasing his season total to 24 rushing touchdowns) and threw for another. The other Kansas State touchdown came when Klein fumbled at the goal line while going in, but luckily receiver Tramaine Thompson jumped on the loose ball.
Even more insane than the scoring? Kansas State had 411 yards of total offense in the game. Klein was responsible for 384 of those yards, or 93% of the Kansas State output.
LOSER: Mike Sherman's job stability
I've mentioned it here before in recent weeks, but Mike Sherman can't exactly be feeling too comfortable in College Station these days. Texas A&M came into the season as a top-ten pick in both polls, and now ten games into the season the Aggies find themselves at 5-5 on the year and 3-4 in the Big 12. When you're as talented a team as Texas A&M is and you keep making the same mistakes over and over -- though there was no second-half disappearing act this week, but A&M did blow a 10-point lead in the closing minutes -- then at some point the blame has to fall squarely on the coaching staff.
It's very possible that with the season's final two games, and hopefully a bowl game, Sherman is coaching to keep his job with Texas A&M. Either that or the Aggies will be moving on to the SEC and bringing in a new staff to go with its new conference.
WINNER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman Campaign
On Saturday we saw both Andrew Luck's Stanford team fall to Oregon, and Kellen Moore's Boise State team fall to TCU. You know what that means? That means Brandon Weeden is going to start climbing on a lot of Heisman ballots. Not that he really needed Luck and Moore to fall to start gaining the attention, as after Saturday's 66-6 romp over Texas Tech, Weeden now has 3,635 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also has two more games to add to those numbers, and while they're not as incredible as Case Keenum's numbers, Weeden's doing it against the Big 12 for the #2 team in the country.
LOSER: Texas Tech
I don't even know what to say at this point. I remember seeing Texas Tech beat Oklahoma earlier this season, I know it happened, I just can't fathom how it happened at this point. How does a team that played so well on that night go into such a devastating tailspin so fast?
It's not that Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma State, it's that Texas Tech never even had a prayer. This looks like a team that just doesn't care about anything anymore. It already won its Super Bowl, and now it's just trying to get through the year.
WINNER: This guy
Kudos to you, Texas Tech fan. Even during the worst of times, you do not abandon the GUNS UP attitude. Many of your fellow fans had gone home long before you fired your gun into the air. If only it hadn't been filled with blanks of despair.
LOSER: Kansas fans
You poor souls. You'd given up on your team this season already, and with basketball season now officially underway, you were ready to turn your backs to football and never look back. But then something strange happened.
Kansas not only took a lead against Baylor, but it held it. It even expanded on it. Suddenly, it's the fourth quarter and your Jayhawks are up 24-3 on Baylor! This team is going to reward you! They're going to thank you for sticking with them through all this pain!
And then suddenly Baylor scores 21 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then beat you 31-30 when Turner Gill decided to go for two but a terrible fade into double coverage fell incomplete.
The lesson here is never care, Kansas fan. Never. Care.
WINNER: Gary Pinkel's Big 12 Check List
With a 17-5 win over Texas on Saturday, Missouri beat Texas for the first time under head coach Gary Pinkel, and in the last time the two schools will meet as conference opponents. It was also the first time Missouri had beaten Texas in the last six meetings of the team, and only the second time in the last seventeen. Pinkel has now beaten every team in the Big 12 at least once, and what was looking like a disappointing season could be on pace for a respectable 7-5 campaign, including two wins over ranked teams.
Of course, it wasn't all good news for Missouri, and I'll get to that next.
LOSER: The knees of some of the Big 12's best
These are players that the Big 12 has lost in the last two weeks due to knee injuries: Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Texas A&M's Christine Michael and on Saturday Missouri's Henry Josey and Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.
We know Broyles and Michael are done for the year, and we learned on Saturday night that Josey, the conference's leading rusher, is also done for the year with a myriad of injuries to his left knee. There's been no official word on the status of Whittaker, but given how the injury looked and that he finished the game in street clothes and crutches on the sideline, I'm not expecting good news for Fozzy either.
Image of the Texas Tech fan courtesy of Mocksession
Tags: Andrew Luck, Baylor, Big 12, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Case Keenum, Christine Michael, Collin Klein, Fozzy Whittaker, Gary Pinkel, Henry Josey, Kansas, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Mike Sherman, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Ryan Broyles, Stanford, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tramaine Thompson, Turner Gill, Winners and Losers
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:36 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A little over halfway through Saturday's showdown in Tuscaloosa it became clear, this wasn't the game of the century it had been built up to be. While that superlatives will be saved for another big game down the road, what transpired at Bryant-Denny Stadium was something else: the slugfest of the century.
For some, the defense being played was marvelous. Morris Claiborne solidified himself as one of the top corners in the country with an interception and Eric Reid showed what it takes to win a game of this magnitude by wrestling for, and eventually coming down with, a pick near the goal line after the Tide tried a trick play to tight end Michael Williams.
The defense was so good on both sides that the MVP in a losing effort for Alabama had to be the offensive line, which was great at handling the pressure from LSU's front for four quarters - they seemed to fall apart a little in overtime.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, a longtime assistant in the SEC, said after the game that this was "the most physical, hard-fought game he's ever been involved with."
With a fifth of the televisions in use on Saturday tuned to CBS for the game, I was quite surprised at how many lambasted the game afterward. Sure, there was a lack of crossing the goal line and way too many field goals for most people but that was the result of the defenses being so good. Both teams were able to move the ball, the defenses just tightened once they moved closer to the red zone.
As my colleague Tom Fornelli said to me, this game was all about deciding what fans liked college football and what fans just like touchdowns. Some compared it to a great pitchers duel in baseball but that would be unfair. The beauty of playing defense might have been lost by some but the battles in the trenches and in the secondary said Saturday was a masterpiece.
The Crimson Tide finished with 295 yards, the Tigers ended up winning with just 239. Alabama came into the game 23rd in the country in offense at 457 yards/game and had the best running back in the country in Trent Richardson. Despite not moving the ball well on offense, LSU came in 15th in scoring offense. That's just how good both teams were on the side of the ball - defense - that ultimately decided the game.
It would be interesting to see how much Miles' strategy would have changed had Alabama hit just one of their three missed field goals. Would we have seen one of his famous trick plays? I wouldn't exactly say 'The Hat' Les Miles out-coached Nick Saban since both adjusted conservatively but there's no question that Miles made decisions more inline with how the game was going, such as running Jordan Jefferson more than what the game plan likely called for.
Despite all the 'what ifs' that will be dissected over the coming days (and weeks and months and years), we're left with just one fact: LSU was better than Alabama Saturday night. If they were to play again for the BCS championship, what happened between the two teams would invalidate the very crutch - every week is a playoff - BCS supporters use to support their cartel of a system. If we just saw a playoff game, the Tide need to be thinking about a trip to a bowl game and not the title game.
In post game interviews, Miles was inviting of a rematch - perhaps knowing that knocking off Saban and the Tide another time on their way to picking of the crystal football would mean this LSU team could be considered among the greatest to play the game. The players too, were living in the moment and inviting LSU-Alabama II in New Orleans.
"That game should've been on pay-per-view," Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery said. "I think the world wants a rematch, honestly. It would be lovely to play such a great team out there again."
My colleague Bruce Feldman, who was in Tuscaloosa, discussed the rematch issue in The Big Picture, as did BCS guru Jerry Palm.
As we sit here on week 10 trying to digest what happened on Saturday, it good to lay down what we do know in the race for the national title.
1. There is A LOT of football remaining. LSU plays a top 10 team in Arkansas to end the season as well as the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Alabama has the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Oklahoma State ends with Bedlam against Oklahoma. Stanford plays Oregon and Boise State takes on TCU this week. We don't have a great system in the BCS but it was it is so "the race" is going to chance course several times between now and mid-December.
2. If Stanford beats Oregon, they'll move past Alabama in the BCS standings. If Oklahoma State wins out, they'll play in the championship game. Boise State needs help in droves.
3. Though Houston has moved as high as 11th in the rankings but are still a long shot at playing in a BCS bowl because Boise State is the highest ranked non-AQ school. It's doubtful the Bowls would pick the Cougars as an at-large team with fan bases such as Oklahoma likely qualifying.
4. The bowl tie-ins are ACC-Orange Bowl, Big Ten/Pac-12-Rose Bowl, Big 12-Fiesta Bowl, SEC-Sugar Bowl. The Bowl that loses the #1 team will have first pick of the replacements, followed by the bowl that loses the #2 team. The order after that is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange. There's a chance we could see some juicy match ups as a result (Oklahoma-Boise State rematch anyone?).
5. Want pure chaos? Arkansas beats LSU and Georgia pulls off an upset in Atlanta, forcing Alabama or LSU to miss a BCS game. Oregon beats Stanford, only to lose to USC and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State to leave just Boise State and Houston as the lone undefeated teams. It's all unlikely but stranger things have happened. It also might be the only chance the men from the blue turf have to play for a title in New Orleans.
6. The game of the century did not occur last Saturday in Tuscaloosa but it was still a fantastic regular season game. A rematch would devalue the game, forcing LSU to beat Alabama twice for a national title while the Tide only needs to win once (in New Orleans). If we could have best two out of three, that'd be great but we're stuck with our current predicament.
Buckle up and get ready, it's going to a fun and bumpy road to New Orleans.
Stat of the week
To say the Big 12, and the state of Kansas in particular, is not very good at defense might be an understatement. To say they like offense in the state of Oklahoma, likewise, might be an understatement. Consider this: of the 10 best games rushing this season (net yards gained), three have come against a Big 12 team. Strip out non-BCS opponents and it becomes three of the top five, including Kansas giving up the most a game this season on the ground when Georgia Tech rushed for 604 yards. Of the top 10 passing games (net yards gained), four of the top 10 have come against a Big 12 defense, including four of the top five. Kansas and Kansas State find themselves on the two lists a grand total of five times, one reason why the Jayhawks are dead last in defense.
Thanks to playing the Oklahoma schools in back-to-back weeks, Kansas State has dropped from 29th in total defense to 78th. Half of the Big 12 is in the top 10 in the country in total offense and Texas Tech is 11th. Needless to say, it's not fun being a defensive coordinator in the conference.
Stats of the week
- Stanford remains perfect in the red zone this season, getting points out of all 52 trips. They've scored a touchdown all but 11 times and there's only one team that has been inside the 20 more often (Oklahoma State). LSU is second in red zone efficiency, scoring on 41 of 42 trips. The Cardinal are also third in the country in red zone defense, allowing a score 16 times out of 24 attempts.
- Oklahoma is tied with Stanford for fewest sacks given up with just four all year. Of course, the Sooners have dropped back 128 more times.
- The top three active career leaders for rushing touchdowns are all juniors. Temple's Bernard Pierce has 45, Oregon's LaMichael James has 44 and Wisconsin's Montee Ball has 43. The NCAA FBS record is 73.
- Both Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and Idaho kicker Trey Farquhar hit 55-yard field goals right before halftime this week, which tie for the second longest of the season.
- Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning's pass to Torieal Gibson resulted in a 94 yard touchdown against Eastern Michigan, the longest pass play of the year. There have been four runs longer than that this season.
- Matt Barkley passed for a school-record six touchdowns in his game against Colorado on Friday. He also moved into 10th on the FBS active career list for touchdowns thrown with 69.
- Alabama still has yet to trail this season in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th quarter. LSU has trailed at the end of just two quarters all year.
- Since building a 31-7 lead on Oklahoma in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech has been outscored 124-37.
- This was the first time Texas has rushed for five touchdowns in back-to-back games since 2005.
- Weird quirk from Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Washington's tight ends had three catches for -5 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.
- It didn't have the hype but the most thrilling game Saturday night was in Stillwater. Brandon Weeden threw a school-record 502 yards and had an answer for every late Kansas State score to escape with a 52-45 win. The defense, who seems to take shots from just about everybody in the game and outside it, held on with a goal line stand to prevent the tying score. Kansas State has taken some lumps in back-to-back weeks by stopping three straight passes with seconds left on the clock. It will get overshadowed given the loss but you have to be impressed with the play of KSU quarterback Collin Klein this season. He's been solid in the passing game and is as tough of a runner as you'll find at the position.
- Hats off to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA for fighting and clawing their way (as some Bruins said) to an upset of Arizona State at the Rose Bowl to, gasp, control their own fate in the Pac-12 South. Thanks to a "here's what we're made of" five minute drive to score a go ahead touchdown, it almost looked like the Bruins defense were going to allow the Sun Devils to get a decent field goal shot off. Alex Garoutte's 46-yarder fell short though and an exuberant sideline of powder blues jumped for joy. A lot of people have counted Neuheisel out, especially after the debacle at Arizona, but he still put his team in a position to win and they finally seized it. The loss was the latest in a line of head scratchers for Dennis Erickson, who seems to lose this type of game every year at ASU. Without a decent South team this year, it's looking very much like a two team league.
- There was another top 10 match up in the SEC that seemed to be the third wheel Saturday night as Arkansas beat South Carolina 44-28. It was surprising to see the Razorbacks put together a solid first half, something they really hadn't done against a decent opponent this season, before pulling away late thanks in part to special teams and defense. South Carolina had just 49 yards heading into the locker room but Connor Shaw led a late comeback in the third quarter until being knocked out with a concussion. The Gamecocks have a good defense and for Bobby Petrino's squad to hang 44 on them is certainly a statement that you can't forget about the Hogs at the end of the season when they play LSU.
- After dropping a game to lowly Minnesota, hardly anybody but the most hopeful Hawkeye faithful gave Iowa a chance against Michigan. Yet the defense was vintage, bottling up Denard Robinson all day, and Marcus Coker looked like a man on a mission while rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines had a chance to force overtime from the 3-yard line but four straight passes couldn't be snagged and Iowa ran off the field in celebration. "They showed a lot of heart," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. Given who they lost to the previous week, it's difficult to tell what Iowa football is this season outside of being a big of Jekyll and Hyde. For Brady Hoke and Michigan, it appears the tougher schedule and move to a pro-style offense is finally catching up. The difference between passing in Rich Rodriguez' system and passing in Al Borges' cannot be understated. Robinson has been conditioned with certain timing for years and now is being asked to change it to match the current system. If you're looking for the reason why the junior is having problems (53% passing, 13-12 TD-INT ratio this season), look no further than a round (quarterback) being in a square hole (system).
- Bryan Harsin came into Austin with designs of transforming Texas' offense and it appears he is doing so, surprisingly, on the ground. In the past two seasons the Longhorns had just five games where they rushed for more than 200 yards; Saturday's win over Texas Tech was the fifth time they topped the mark this season. In a 52-20 win, Texas' 439 yards rushing against Texas Tech were the 4th-most against a BCS opponent this season. They've racked up 880 yards on the ground the past two games against sub-par defenses but it will be interesting to see if they can keep running the ball consistently the rest of the season. Given their youth on both sides of the ball - they've play 18 true freshmen - it's a good bet that they'll try and keep it up. Either way, there's a new coordinator and a new way of doing business on the 40 acres.
- Charlie Strong has one of the youngest teams in the Big East but they're rounding into form and it paid off with a huge upset of West Virginia that was extra personal given that the school was largely seen to be invited by the Big 12 over Louisville. Frosh QB Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown and special teams came up huge with a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. It was a complete and satisfying victory for the Cardinals. "I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Strong. "We knew we had to play well. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win." After the win, Strong ended up crowd surfing among his players in the locker room and the team, taking an added jab at the loser, sang John Denver's "Country Roads."
- The upset of the week comes courtesy of an NU on NU crime. With designs of making it to Indianapolis for the title game, Nebraska was upset by Northwestern despite Dan Persa standing on the sidelines. The Wildcats have not been great this season but they just kept coming through on defense, hanging on 28-25 for their first top 10 win in some time. "A great program win for us," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "To come on the road and put together our most complete game of the year. ... Not perfect. Not a work of art. There are some things we can correct."
- Not sure anybody has raised his NFL stock more than USC quarterback Matt Barkley? He played well in his showdown against Andrew Luck and then followed it up with a school-record six touchdown passes against Colorado despite a few drops from his wide outs. No, the Buffs aren't that good but thanks in large part to the through and through California kid Barkley, USC is a solid top 20 team. The defense is still the link week but outside of a trip to Eugene, it's likely they'll win out - especially if they can get healthier. Colorado, meanwhile, is so bad they're a double-digit favorite at home to a 2-7 team that lost their head coach.
- Small story that went way under the radar Saturday but kudos for Paul Pasqualoni for knocking off Syracuse to give UConn their fifth straight victory in the series. It meant a little more for Pasqualoni than others, who was head coach of the Orange for 14 years before being fired after winning four Big East titles and nine bowl trips. The Huskies defense played a big part, forcing several turnovers and holding despite the offense's own issues. Despite much talent at all, Pasqualoni has kept hopes alive for another winning season in Storrs.
- Kellen Moore is now 46-2 as a starter, more wins than any other FBS quarterback and an amazing accomplishment for a guy that no one outside of Idaho would even think is a major college quarterback if he was walking down the street. The Broncos saw a few different looks they weren't expecting from UNLV and led by just seven at halftime before pulling away late in the 4th quarter. As it stands now, Moore has an impressive 128 touchdowns against just 24 interceptions.
- As good of a slate as this week was, it was definitely a week filled with MACtion. Tuesday's Toledo-Northern Illinois game was 7-on-7 in pads it seemed like, with NIU prevailing in an entertaining 63-60 win that included 1,121 total yards (and back-to-back kick returns by the Huskies' Tommylee Lewis (great name) to open the game). One of the most underrated players in the country, Toledo's Eric Page also caught five touchdowns and had to be screaming when coach Tim Beckham didn't call any of his timeouts as NIU drove for the game winning touchdown pass. Then there was Ohio's 35-31 win over Temple to take control of the MAC East after a touchdown to win with less than two minutes on the clock. Thursday's Miami of Ohio romp over Akron wasn't anything to write home about but Central Michigan missed a final play field goal from 28 yards out to allow Kent State to win on Friday. Finally, on Saturday, Steven Schott hit a 44-yard field goal to put Ball State ahead of Eastern Michigan 33-31 with seconds left on the clock. MACtion indeed.
- Remarkable stat from Bruce Feldman, Lamar Miller became Miami's first 1,000-yard back since 2002 (Willis McGahee), a stretch of five different offensive coordinators. Although the 5-4 Hurricanes has dealt with a lot on and off the field, you have to give credit to OC Jedd Fisch and Al Golden. Much maligned quarterback Jacory Harris has been playing as well as he has at any point in his career and probably better than that. The senior is remarkably sixth in the country in passing efficiency, right behind Andrew Luck, with an impressive 18-4 touchdown-interception ratio. Miami has been in every game they've played with the four losses coming by 22 points. Saturday's 49-14 thrashing of Duke put them one win away from bowl eligibility ahead of this week's rivalry game at Florida State.
- It's always fun to catch the late night WAC games involving Hawaii, after a long day of watching college football it always seems to be an interesting way to cap it off. Utah State managed to beat the Warriors 35-31 thanks to a last minute drive. Hilariously, one of the keys to the game that the third-rate announcers brought up at the end was the late Andy Rooney (to play, they said, 60 minutes). Can't make that up.
Tweet of the week
"So Fox Sports MW is electing to show California HS football instead of Kansas-Iowa State."
- Bill Connelly, writer for SB Nation and Football Outsiders.
Note: Last week was the fourth in a row that my 10th ranked team lost (sorry Nebraska fans), perhaps that will give Georgia Tech some hope on Thursday at home.
2. Oklahoma State
5. Boise State
10. Virginia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Senior writer Dennis Dodd and I will be in Palo Alto to catch the Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Stanford. Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will be between the hedges to catch Auburn at Georgia. Brett McMurphy will head to State College to see Nebraska at Penn State.
Leaning this way
TCU at Boise State
Before the season, people were circling this game as perhaps the Broncos toughest test. There was the added issue of the game being moved by the Mountain West from Ft. Worth to Boise as a parting gift for the Horned Frogs. At 7-2 with issues on both sides of the ball, TCU is solid this season but it's not the team we've seen the past couple of years. Boise State, meanwhile, has gotten off to some slow starts and will still need to take care of business. This could be closer than most people think but expect the home team to come out victoriously.
Auburn at Georgia
The Bulldogs put up an impressive 42 points in one quarter against the lowly New Mexico State Aggies but the competition will pick up a bit this week with Auburn rolling into town. Aaron Murray continues to come along at quarterback and Georgia should be at full strength after dealing with a few suspensions. It will be tough for Auburn to pull of the upset in this one as Georgia continues their march for Atlanta.
Oregon at Stanford
The Game of the Century, West of the Rockies Edition can be found in Palo Alto, with two top-six ranked teams squaring off. Stanford gave Oregon a scare last year before faltering in the second half and, given the injuries on both sides of the ball, it wouldn't be shocking to see the same thing happen again this year. The Ducks aren't quite as sharp as they were last season but they're capable of knocking off Andrew Luck and company.
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Akron, Al Borges, Al Golden, Alabama, Alex Garoutte, Andrew Luck, Andy Rooney, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Ball State, Ball State, BCS, Bedlam, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big Ten, bill Connelly, Bob Condotta, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Caleb Sturgis, Central Michigan, Charlie Strong, Clemson, Collin Klein, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Eric Page, Eric Reid, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Iowa, Iron Bowl, Jacory Harris, Jedd Fisch, Jerry Palm, John Chavis, John Denver, Kansas, Kansas State, Keith Wenning, Kellen Moore, Kent State, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, Marcus Coker, Matt Barkley, Miami, Miami of Ohio, Michael Williams, Michigan, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Pasqualoni, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Sam Montgomery, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Schott, Sugar Bowl, Surveying the Field, Syracuse, TCU, Teddy Bridgewater, Temple, Texas, Texas Tech, Tim Beckham, Toledo, Tom Fornelli, Tommylee Lewis, Tony Barnhart, Torieal Gibson, Trent Richardson, Trey Farquhar, UCLA, UConn, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, West Virginia, Willis McGahee, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 6, 2011 1:13 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 1:26 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
WINNER: Oklahoma State's BCS title dreams
This was here last week as well, but that doesn't change the fact that it's true. Though Kansas State gave Oklahoma State just about everything it could handle on Saturday night the Cowboys still emerged from the scorched earth and rumbling fault line that was Boone Pickens Stadium with a win. Now the Cowboys are 9-0 on the season and will move up in the BCS standings to the second spot after Alabama's loss to LSU.
So as long as Oklahoma State keeps winning -- and there are still three games to go, so nothing is guaranteed -- then it's going to end up in New Orleans. There is no Big 12 title game to get in the way, though a game against Oklahoma will serve as the Big 12 championship, but at least it's played in Stillwater and not Jerry World.
WINNER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman hopes
With Alabama losing that hurts Trent Richardson's chances because voters tend to vote for the best players on the best teams, and since Alabama has a loss now, they won't be considered one of the best teams. It's stupid, but it's reality. Now, Weeden likely won't be able to pass Andrew Luck without Stanford suffering a loss, but he's still the quarterback of the #2 team in the country. That alone is enough to get you consideration these days, let alone the fact that Weeden's now thrown for 3,212 yards this season and 26 touchdowns on one of the best offenses in the country.
LOSER: Ryan Broyles
To be clear, there has never been an injury suffered by any player that I've enjoyed. Every single one of them stinks, but Ryan Broyles' torn ACL on Saturday made me sadder than most. This is a kid that has not only been a great player during his career at Oklahoma, but someone who passed up on the chance to become a millionaire in the NFL last spring so he could return to Norman and play for a national title. Now his season is over and his draft stock is going to plummet. This world has never been fair, but sometimes it's just downright cruel.
LOSER: Preseason expectations
Before this season started Texas A&M was ranked 8th in the AP poll and 9th in the Coaches poll. Well, just in case you needed any more evidence to see why preseason polls are absolutely ridiculous since we're offering opinions on teams before seeing a single down played, just look at Texas A&M. After getting beat soundly by Oklahoma on Saturday the Aggies are now 5-4 and 3-3 in the Big 12 staring at a date in the Alamo or Sun Bowl. Considering that the school is moving to the SEC next year, those preseason expectations may also end up costing Mike Sherman his job.
WINNER: Smashmouth football in Austin
Why should Bryan Harsin even bother calling a pass at this point? Over the last two weeks he's seen his offense rush for 880 yards and 11 touchdowns. After scoring 6 rushing touchdowns against Texas Tech it's the first time the Longhorns have run for at least 5 scores in consecutive games since 2005. Making things even more impressive, the Longhorns didn't even have Malcolm Brown available on Saturday. The combination of Brown and Joe Bergeron over the next few seasons, with some David Ash mixed in, is going to keep defensive coordinators up at night.
LOSER: Justin Tucker
Who is Justin Tucker? I'm glad you asked. Justin Tucker is Texas' punter. He's only had to punt once the last two weeks. Though I suppose that could just as easily make him a winner. Plus, at least he's also the placekicker and gets to kick field goals from time to time. Just to keep his leg from falling asleep.
WINNER: Baylor's offensive virility
Yes Baylor was able to put up a lot of yards in its last two games against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, but it still wasn't able to put a lot of points on the scoreboard in either matchup. That changed on Saturday night against Missouri when the Bears not only scored 42 points to beat Missouri 42-39, but also picked up a school record of 697 yards of total offense in the process. Robert Griffin was responsible for 470 of those yards and 4 touchdowns while Terrence Ganaway rushed for 186 yards on only 12 carries. 15.5 yards per carry is a pretty good clip.
LOSER: Texas Tech
What the hell has happened, Raiders? Two weeks ago you were ahead of Oklahoma 31-7 in the second half, preparing to shock the world. Since then you've been outscored 124-37. I mean, you lost to Iowa State 41-7 last week and Iowa State was only able to beat Kansas 13-10 on Saturday night. Kansas!
WINNER: Speaking of Iowa State...
Hey, so it wasn't pretty, but the Cyclones picked up a 13-10 win against Kansas on Saturday night. The win improved Paul Rhoads' team to 5-4 on the season, which means it's only one win shy of bowl eligibility. That's great news for the program. Unfortunately, here's the bad news: Iowa State's last three games are against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
LOSER: Kansas' chances of winning a Big 12 game in 2011
Listen, we all know Kansas is a bad football team. I'm not going to pile on the program even more, but the school's best chance of winning a Big 12 game this season was on Saturday night in Ames, and the Jayhawks fell short 13-10. Now the Jayhawks finish the year with Baylor, Texas A&M and Missouri. Three teams who aren't untouchable by any means, but I'm not liking Kansas' chances in any of them.
Tags: Alabama, Andrew Luck, Baylor, Big 12, Brandon Weeden, Bryan Harsin, David Ash, Iowa State, Joe Bergeron, Justin Tucker, Kansas, Kansas State, LSU, Malcolm Brown, Mike Sherman, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Paul Rhoads, Robert Griffin, Ryan Broyles, Terrence Ganaway, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Trent Richardson, Winners And Losers