Tag:Winners And Losers
Posted on: October 23, 2011 12:05 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 12:26 am
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 8


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: DeAndre "Nuke" Hopkins

Freshman phenom Sammy Watkins has been the Clemson wide receiver who has struck fear in defensive coordinators across the ACC, but Saturday was a reminder that there are plenty of dangerous weapons in the Tigers offense - notably sophomore DeAndre Hopkins. Nuke went off against the Tar Heels, catching 9 passes for a career high 157 yards. Hopkins was one of five different receivers to catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Tajh Boyd, who finished with 367 yards on 46 attempts with no interceptions. If Ellington continues to be bothered by an apparent foot injury, you can expect to see a lot more of Nuke down the stretch.

LOSER: North Carolina's third down efficiency

Defeating Clemson this season is an unbelievably difficult task. Beyond their collection of talent and playmaking ability, the team refuses to quit or stop their relentless attack. But North Carolina made winning in Death Valley so much harder by committing penalties, turning the ball over, and not converting on third downs. The Tar Heels did not convert their first third down until the start of the fourth quarter - when the Tar Heels trailed by 25 points.

One of the ways to take advantage of Clemson is to put together extended drives to keep the ball out of Tajh Boyd's hands. Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels offense did the exact opposite on Saturday by continually handing the ball right back to Tajh Boyd and the Clemson offense. You give the Tigers enough opportunities, they will put basketball numbers on the scoreboard. North Carolina could have played flawlessly on Saturday and still lost, but we'll never know because they did enough beating themselves to put the game out of hand before the fourth quarter even started.

WINNER: Miami's defense

The Hurricanes have been playing much better football in recent weeks, but head coach Al Golden knew they could not defeat Georgia Tech without an improved performance from their defense. They have been hurting on the front line with injuries, but as of last week are back to full-strength from a suspension stand point. Georgia Tech, entering the game as the nations 2nd best rushing team, would be the ultimate challenge in a must-win scenario for the Hurricanes.

Miami's defensive line stuffed the dive from the Yellow Jackets' B-backs, while the linebackers swarmed to the ball to seal off the big play on the perimeter. It was fantastic execution by the entire unit, who only allowed a single scoring drive from Georgia Tech all afternoon. That top-ranked rushing attack only accounted for 127 yards, more than 200 below their season average. If Miami can keep up the effort, there are several winnable games left on the schedule for the Hurricanes to have a memorable on-field finish to a season filled with off-field distractions.

LOSER: Georgia Tech's grip on the Coastal Division

With their second straight conference loss, Georgia Tech has lost their position as frontrunner in the ACC's Coastal Division. There are plenty of places to point the blame. Some will look to the competition, and the unrealistic expectations drawn from weaker defenses the Yellow Jackets' faced in the first month of play. Some will argue that ACC opponents have figured out ways to prepare for, and limit, Paul Johnson's option attack. Johnson himself has spoken of the team's fatigue, and recently cut back on some of the workload in practices.

But whatever the reason, the Yellow Jackets have gotten beat up the last two weeks. The good news for Georgia Tech fans is the team still controls their own destiny in the division. Clemson and Virginia Tech visit Atlanta in the next two contests, with a much-needed bye week between those games. If they can upset Clemson under the lights in Bobby Dodd Stadium, a victory against Virginia Tech would give them a tie for the division lead and ownership of the head-to-head tie breaker. But because of Saturday's loss to Miami, none of that will be possible unless they upset Clemson. Which as we saw elsewhere, might require 94 points.

WINNER: David Amerson and the NC State defense

Just like Miami, N.C. State's defense has caught their fair share of criticism this season. The Wolfpack have been plagued with injuries on the defensive side of the ball, and just now are they starting to get back to full strength. Virginia used a power running game to wear down Georgia Tech a week ago in the upset, but when they tried a similar tactic on N.C. State the Wolfpack were ready. After putting up 272 rushing yards against the Yellow Jackets, N.C. State swarmed into the gaps and won the battle in the trenches to limit the Cavaliers' ability to methodically move the ball while milking the clock.

Once the Wolfpack got the lead, it was David Amerson time. Amerson entered the game leading the nation in interceptions, then picked off both Michael Rocco and David Watford to help seal a big win for N.C. State. Amerson has been viewed as the one bright spot in a struggling defense in some games, but on Saturday he was the icing on the cake in the Wolfpack's first ACC victory of the season.

LOSER: Luke Kuechly

Luke Kuechly is not a loser, but his performances this season have gone largely overlooked because of Boston College's struggles. The junior linebacker entered the game as the nation's leading tackler, averaging 16.5 tackles per game. As the Eagles' defense slowly broke down against David Wilson and Virginia Tech's downhill attack, Kuechly never stopped. The All-American finished Saturday's loss with 19 tackles, and once again seemed to be in on almost every open field tackle. With injuries and close losses, 2011 has not been friendly to Boston College. In the case that this might be Kuechly's last season in Chestnut Hill, it is a shame these performances are finding their way to the back page rather than the headlines.

WINNER: Devonta Freeman

There was a lot that didn't look good for the Seminoles after they suffered their third straight loss to Wake Forest two weeks ago. But the most concerning situation for Florida State's offense was figuring out how to establish a running game, particularly with the season-ending injury to leading rusher Chris Thompson. The Seminoles boasted a stable of talented backs during training camp, but none had emerged as a clear leader once the season started. In the last two weeks, true freshman Devonta Freeman has made his case to be that back for Florida State. Granted the competition has provided some opportunity (Duke and Maryland), but Freeman's back-to-back 100-yard games could be the beginnings of a big-time career for talented rookie. For starters, he is the first freshman to rush for 100 yards in back to back games since 1986. He's already grabbed a small piece of history, now we get to see if he helps the Seminoles bounce back and finish strong after their three-game slide.

LOSER: An unknown amount of C.J. Brown's brain cells

Maryland's freshman quarterback had a brutal meeting with Florida State's Nigel Bradham in the 41-16 loss on Saturday



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Posted on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 3:08 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 7



Posted by Adam Jacobi


WINNER: The general order of the universe as we knew it in the spring. Michigan State beat Michigan, Ohio State beat Illinois, Wisconsin beat Indiana, Iowa beat Northwestern, and Penn State beat Purdue. All normal ideas for the casual Big Ten fan during the off-season, more or less. Yet those first two results are rather surprising, because it was Michigan and Illinois coming into the week undefeated and ranked 16th or higher, not MSU or OSU. On Saturday, the Spartans and Buckeyes looked like the teams we figured they'd be coming into the year, though, and in a way so did the Wolverines and the Illini. 

Michigan State's victory was the most impressive of the week (sorry, Wisconsin), because nobody has bottled up the Michigan offense like that this year (more on the particulars in a second). After Notre Dame thwacked the Spartans in Week 3, it was fair to wonder if Michigan was also about to run up 30+ points and shut down the MSU rushing attack. Neither happened, and the Spartans are now all of a sudden back in beautiful shape for the Big Ten Legends Division race -- just like we figured before the season. 

LOSER: Those do-everything quarterbacks I was so proud of last week. So, Taylor Martinez had the week off, so he's off the hook. Denard Robinson and Nathan Scheelhaase, though? Last week, the two QBs averaged 267 yards passing, 102 yards rushing, and four TDs in their team's victories. Extrapolate those types of numbers over 12 or 13 games, and you've got a Heisman finalist.

Extrapolating single games out for a year is stupid, though, because on Saturday, those numbers dropped substantially. Scheelhaase threw for 169 yards and rushed for 49 more, while Robinson's numbers were a dismal 9-24 for 123 yards passing (one TD) and 18 rushes for 42 yards (another TD). Not surprisingly, both QB's teams lost by double digits. It's certainly fine to have a do-everything quarterback helming your offense, but that just means it's imperative that that quarterback actually puts big numbers up; if he doesn't, that team's in real trouble.

WINNER: Illinois' pass defense. Wow, the Illini held Ohio State to 17 yards on Saturday! That's quite an accomplishment! Yep, 17 yards on 1-4 passing. But wait... if the Buckeyes only passed four times for the entire game, then that means... uh-oh.

LOSER: Illinois' rush defense. Oh, there's the rest of the story. Ohio State rushed 51 times to the four passes, totalling 211 yards on the ground, and Dan Herron led the way with 113 yards in his first game back from suspension. Honestly, Illinois' effort on defense wasn't bad, and holding OSU to 4.1 yards a pop on the ground isn't really cause for panic, but this was an Illini rush defense that had been ranked ninth in the nation coming into the week, averaging 2.3 yards per carry given up. The Illini front seven had a reputation to uphold, and it didn't do a great job of it. 

WINNER: Somehow, inexplicably, Penn State. Penn State is 6-1 and on the verge of being in the Top 25. That is amazing news to anyone who has watched Penn State play, because the Nittany Lions are, at times, bafflingly bad on offense. The QB rotation between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden continues to confound PSU fans, the rushing game comes and goes, and Penn State has now beaten the foursome of Temple, Indiana, Iowa, and Purdue by a grand total of 25 points. This team should not be 6-1, but there's no "should" column next to wins and losses.

The latest victory is a 23-18 decision over hapless Purdue, a game that should have been tied in the 4th quarter at 20-all if Purdue hadn't missed a PAT then missed a 2-point conversion to make up for the missed kick. Now, to be fair, Purdue never led, PSU never let Purdue manage so much as a first down after the game was 20-18, and the game ended with Penn State up 5 and taking knees inside the Boilermaker 10 yard line, but it was still another ugly, wretched affair all around. And yet just like the 4-point win over Temple and the 6-point win over Indiana, Penn State just did all it needed for the victory, and nothing more. Hey, a win's a win.

LOSER: Mark Dantonio's reputation as a disciplinarian. It seems like every season, fans are treated to anecdotes about what a great coach Mark Dantonio is, and how high his standards of player discipline are. "Zero tolerance" are his words, not ours. And it also seems like every season, there's an instance of Dantonio basically punting on discipline with his star players, like with Chris L. Rucker rejoining the team immediately after serving an 8-day jail sentence, or B.J. Cunningham taking part in a massive brawl on campus and missing one game as a result.

With that in mind, then, it's really not surprising to see star DE Will Gholston allowed to stay in a game after he punched Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (who, to be fair, had been holding Gholston's head on the ground earlier in the play). It was Gholston's second personal foul of the afternoon, with the first being a combination of a late hit and a face mask on Denard Robinson. The Big Ten may very well intervene and keep Gholston out for next week's game against Wisconsin, but the fact that Dantonio kept Gholston in the game after both incidents speaks far, far louder than Dantonio's claims of "zero tolerance."

WINNER: The Iowa athletic department. Before today's game, the fans at Kinnick Stadium were all given two-sided cards for one of those old-fashioned card stunts. The end result was really, really cool, and don't be surprised to see more of this type of thing around college football stadiums nationwide in the next few years or so. 

LOSER: Iowa's Northwestern demons. For years, the Hawkeyes have struggled mightily against Northwestern, sometimes even at the expense of BCS bowl dreams.  All in all, coming into today, Iowa had lost five of its last six against the Wildcats -- and the last four losses featured double-digit Hawkeye leads.

So when Iowa ran up a 17-0 lead on Saturday, then watched the Wildcats string together drive after drive to tie the game up at 17-17, it was only natural for Hawkeye fans to think, "here we go again." Fortunately for the home crowd, Iowa responded with 17 straight points of its own, and held on for the 41-31 victory. The win pushes Iowa to 4-2 (1-1) on the year, and with Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska all looming on the schedule, this win was crucial to the Hawkeyes' hopes for securing another winning season.


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Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:42 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 7


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Trent Richardson. On a day when the SEC failed mightily to produce anything resembling a classic game -- of the league's five matchups, two were won in overpowering fashion by its resident pair of 500-pound gorillas, and the other three were all varying degrees of "slopfest" -- Richardson nonetheless delivered a classic performance. The career highs in yards (183 yards) and touchdowns (four) were nice, but lots of running backs can amass gaudy numbers. What made Richardson's night special was the fury with which he punished Ole Miss's defenders on his runs between the tackles, and then the startling elusiveness he flashed once he found the open field; this juke is going to be a staple of highlight reels for weeks to come. The statistic that best reflects Richardson's night? The 11.2 yards he averaged across his relatively meager 19 touches.

With Marcus Lattimore going down with an injury today (more on this in a moment) and Tyrann Mathieu having a quiet day by his standards despite the total domination shown by his LSU secondary (1 pass broken up, 1 tackle, nothing in special teams), Richardson is now the SEC's far-and-away most viable Heisman candidate. And if the Ole Miss game is any indication, his campaign might just be getting warmed up.

LOSER: the SEC East. Thanks to the decline of Mississippi State, the East's record vs. the West isn't quite as lopsided as it was last year. But that doesn't mean the top of the division is any stronger than it was last year; based on the evidence of Saturday, it's even worse. South Carolina scored a total of two touchdowns while wheezing their way to a four-point win over a State team in offensive disarray. Georgia collected four turnovers from Vanderbilt and outgained the 'Dores by nearly 100 yards and still came within one Hail Mary off a receiver's hands from losing in Nashville. And Florida gained all of 194 yards against the nation's 105th-ranked defense at Auburn. Sure, the East champion won't have a prayer against LSU or Alabama, but with two of its title contenders having already lost to Gene Chizik's team and the third barely any less convincing-looking, the East champion might not even be any better than fifth-place in the West. Still.

WINNER: Ted Roof. After his Tiger defense was eviscerated for more than 1,150 yards in just two weeks by Mississippi State and Clemson, Roof was the most unpopular person on the Plains this side of Harvey Updyke. But thanks to the rapid maturation of players like sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier (three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four QB hurries vs. Florida) and sophomore cornerback Chris Davis (five tackles, one pass breakup), Roof's unit suddenly looks in much better shape than celebrated coordinating counterpart Gus Malzahn's--and was largely responsible for both Auburn's win in South Carolina and over Florida Saturday. The Gators' quarterbacking woes no doubt helped, but short, quick running backs like Chris Rainey have given Roof's defenses fits in the past. In the present, Rainey was bottled up to the tune of just 33 yards on 16 carries.

LOSER: South Carolina's offense. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: if Lattimore's injury keeps him out for any extended length of time, that's a massive, massive blow for the Gamecocks. Players of the big sophomore's ability simply aren't replaceable in midseason (if ever), and Carolina doesn't have much depth behind Lattimore to begin with; his substitute against the Bulldogs was true freshman Brandon Wilds, who entered the game with all of eight career carries. 

But there's even more worries for Steve Spurrier past his running back situation. Connor Shaw's explosive performance against Kentucky looked like a mirage after he threw for an average of just 5.5 yards on his 28 attempts, with two interceptions; his banged-up offensive line opened holes for just 2.6 yards a carry, two weeks after Lattimore averaged less than 4 vs. Auburn; and Alshon Jeffery continues to be nearly invisible, collecting the game-winning TD vs. State but just four other receptions for all of 20 yards. If Spurrier can't fix things -- and likely do it without Lattimore -- his team may not win again until the Citadel visits on Nov. 19.

WINNER: Rueben Randle. Is anyone happier about Jarrett Lee's late-career renaissance than LSU's No. 1 receiver? The former five-star struggled to make an impact his first two years in Baton Rouge, but with Lee at the controls Randle has become one of the league's biggest deep threats. After 5 more receptions for 86 yards and a score against Tennessee, Randle is averaging an even 19 yards per reception--the best mark in the SEC for any receiver with more than 20 catches for the year.

LOSERS: Anyone who tuned away from Georgia-Vanderbilt. Though it was too sloppy by half to qualify as a good game, the ending of Bulldogs-Commodores was as wild as any game in the SEC this season. Up 33-28, the Dawgs drove deep into Vandy territory and looked to have the game salted away before Aaron Murray was picked off by Casey Hayward at the Vandy 2 with 2:30 to play. But Jordan Rodgers was only able to drive the 'Dores to their own 25 before being picked off himself with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs weren't able to run out the entire clock, though, and had their punt blocked, almost returned for a game-winning touchdown, and eventually recovered by Vandy at the Bulldog 20 with 7 seconds left. Rodgers' Hail Mary hit a falling Chris Boyd in the hands, but Boyd was unable to bring it in, and one final desperation play fell short ... after which Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham nearly sparked a brawl by angrily yelling at each other at midfield. 

Not a bad bit of drama for a game the few people who were watching potentially turned off once Georgia went up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter.

LOSERS: Gamblers who took South Carolina to cover the 3.5 points against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' voluntary safety on the final play of the game -- reducing a four-point margin to two and flipping the result of the game against the spread -- cost worldwide bettors as much as $30 million, according to one report. We're skeptical the numbers for your run-of-the-mill SEC game run quite that high, but we'd still advise Spurrier not to walk down any dark alleys this week.

WINNERS: Hearts belonging to fans of Alabama and LSU. While fans in Columbia and Auburn and Athens and Starkville have all had their turns reaching for the blood pressure medication (Auburn's more than once), those in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge haven't had to worry. After winning their two games Saturday by a combined 90-14 score, the Tide and Tigers have now won their eight total SEC games by an average score of 37-8. The closest call? LSU's 19-6 "escape" at Mississippi State, which at the time was viewed as a disappointment for the Bulldogs.

Now, we're wondering if maybe they ought to put up a plaque to commemorate the achievement.


Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:00 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 5:01 pm
 

ACC Winners and Losers: Week 7


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: Sammy Watkins

Best freshman in the game? Best freshman in the game.

With 345 all-purpose yards, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins broke C.J. Spiller's single game school record. Spiller re-wrote most of the offensive record book for the Tigers, and seven games into his collegiate career Watkins is already making a dent. The special teams play may become a non-factor as teams learn to kick away (as they did with Spiller), but there is just not an answer for a player of Watkins' caliber and potential at this point in the ACC. The freshman's combination of physical attributes and understanding of the game have been well documented, mostly by his coaches. Swinney started singing his praises days after his arrival on campus in the offseason, and never has his ability come in handy more than in leading the Tigers' greatest comeback in program history. Clemson still has plenty of challenges left between now and their ultimate goal of an ACC title, but I struggled to find a newcomer that has made a more significant impact on his team than Watkins.

LOSER: Clemson's not-so-kind reputation

Until proven otherwise, the Tigers' comeback has silenced Clemson's "watch them pull a Clemson" critics. The Tigers have started plenty of seasons with a talented roster that wows fans and experts alike, only to fall to an opponent they should defeat. Saturday night in College Park was the perfect opportunity to "pull a Clemson." But thanks to outstanding play of Boyd, Ellington, Watkins, and enough plays by the Brandon Thompson and the defense; they pulled a 2011 Clemson. The 2011 Clemson is an act that is not so dissimilar from a 2010 Auburn. They just find a way to win. Expecting a similar result to the Tigers' national title run is outrageous. But expecting a comparable finish (ACC title and BCS bowl win) might not be so crazy at this point.

WINNER: Jacory Harris

The oft-criticized Harris has been silencing the nay-sayers with his most recent performances against two talented defenses. Ever since halftime of Miami's loss to Virginia Tech, Harris has been sharp and on point with his delivery. Against North Carolina on Saturday, Harris got off to a fast start thanks to big plays from Allen Hurns and Tommy Streeter. The senior signal-caller torched North Carolina's secondary for 233 yards in the first half, a new career high. But even with an impressive production, the most important improvement has been his lack of turnovers. Harris' most frequently detrimental fault has been his tendency to misread a route and toss the ball to the opposing defense.

But since getting picked off in Miami's 28-24 loss to Kansas State, Harris has been perfect in the interceptions column. Miami could not afford to fall to 0-3 in the conference, and the Hurricanes got the fast start they needed to ensure it didn't happen in Chapel Hill. The win was a huge step forward for first-year head coach Al Golden, and another building block in Jacory Harris' final season with The U.

LOSER: Maryland's confidence

Quarterback controversies, suspensions for team rules, reports of locker room unrest - it's all been present in Maryland's roller coaster start to the Randy Edsall era. As the Terrapins pushed Clemson to the brink and had Byrd Stadium rocking like it was Labor Day all over again, it seemed like all of the issues were evaporating. A win over No. 8 Clemson could have been the jolt of positivity this team in transition has needed, but instead they suffered a deflating loss. Blowing an 18-point lead is no moral victory, and now the onus will be on Edsall to spin this into the best possible learning experience for Maryland. Sitting at 2-4 with plenty of ACC play left, the Terps are now in jeopardy of missing the postseason. Such a finish would not send great vibes through a program looking to rebrand around their new coach.

WINNER: The Mike London Movement


Throughout the offseason, there was a definitive buzz around second-year coach Mike London at Virginia. The former Richmond head man took the job as one of the touted young coaches in the game, but London's fast impact on the recruiting trail raised eyebrows across the nation. After a slow start, the happy feelings of hope around Virginia football seemed to have turned from a bubble to a fizz until the Cavaliers' upset win over No. 12 Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Cavaliers got it done by winning the battle in the trenches, physically dominating the Yellow Jackets on the offensive and defensive line. That physical attitude is embodied in London's steadfast attitude towards his football team, and it showed on the big stage against the undefeated Yellow Jackets. With an off-week to prepare, the Cavaliers entered the game with an unwavering confidence defensively and held Georgia Tech to a season-low for rushing yards and total yards of offense. As the fans rushed the field, London celebrated the big win with his players. This might not be THE year for Virginia, but Cavs fans have to feel like they have found THE coach moving forward.

LOSER: Duke

The Blue Devils walked into a losing situation facing Florida State after three straight losses. After losing three straight games over a four week span, the talented Seminoles roster was angry and looking for redemption. EJ Manuel got his first start since the Oklahoma game, and got to work early with three 50+ yard passes in the first quarter. The junior quarterback finished with 239 yards and two touchdowns on the day, sharing the spotlight with freshman running back Devonta Freeman. The lack of a consistent rushing attack has been the most common criticism of Florida State this season, and Freeman's 109 yard outing led the way for an impressive 242 team rushing yards. Duke never really had a chance against this angry Florida State team.

WINNER: Logan Thomas' maturation

The only for Thomas to follow his 23 for 25 outing against Miami with a game-winning touchdown was to repeat the routine again in a crucial road game against a surging Wake Forest team. Thomas was not as accurate statistically, but he was just as effective in providing the big plays needed for the Hokies to bounce back from an early 14-0 deficit. Star receiver Jarett Boykin was the target of choice for the big redshirt sophomore, snagging in seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. In addition to his 280 yards and two touchdowns through the air, Thomas once again was a threat on the ground and punched in two goal line scores.

Thomas' maturation as a passer and rushing threat has forced defenses to focus less on running back David Wilson. Focusing less on Wilson is a bad thing, as he demonstrated on Saturday with a 136 yard outing against the Demon Deacons. After another slow start and early season loss, Virginia Tech is hitting their rhythm at the right time. If things continue to progress in Blacksburg, a rematch against the Tigers in Charlotte could be in the cards for Virginia Tech.

LOSER: Bryn Renner

After starting as one of the ACC's most efficient passers, Renner seems to have regressed since starting conference play. There were only eight incompletions on the stat sheet, but the sophomore looked uncomfortable under center against Miami on Saturday. He was uncharacteristically off-target on a few routine throws, and seemed unhappy with his pass protection throughout the entire game. The numbers may look sharp from Saturday's game, but many of the completions were screen passes and check downs to star running back Gio Bernard. Renner knew he was going to face an uphill battle against Miami's defense, now he needs to help his team bounce back on the road against an undefeated Clemson team.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 3:09 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 7



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: Fans of offense

The Big 12 often gets flak for the lack of defense that is played in the conference, and for the most part it's criticism that's deserved. Of course, there's another side to that coin, and it's that the Big 12 is also home to some good offenses as well. Offenses that were fully on display throughout Saturday.

In five games between all ten teams in the conference, there was a total of 355 points scored, 45 touchdowns and 4,658 yards of total offense. That's 71 points, 9 touchdowns and 931.6 yards of offense per game. That is insane.

LOSER: The Baylor defense

Okay, and there's just genuinely bad defense too. There is little doubt what the strengths and weaknesses are with Baylor this season. The strength is Robert Griffin and the Baylor offense. The weakness is the other side of the ball, and it was evident on Saturday. Texas A&M racked up 681 yards of offense on Saturday, and Ryan Tannehill threw for 415 yards and 6 touchdowns. Robert Griffin, despite evidence to the contrary, is not perfect, and in order for Baylor to beat the best teams in the Big 12, Griffin can't do it all on his own. He's going to need his defense to step up and make plays from time to time, and it just didn't do that on Saturday. The result? A 55-28 blowout in College Station.

WINNER: Ryan Swope

Somebody had to benefit from all those yards that Baylor was giving to Ryan Tannehill and it was Ryan Swope. Swope finished the day with 11 catches for 206 yards and a school record 4 touchdowns. Swope is one of the most underrated receivers in the Big 12, and he's often overshadowed on his own team by Jeff Fuller, but he showed everybody why he deserves a lot more attention this weekend.

LOSER: David Ash's hold on the Texas quarterback job

For the first time since the Longhorns replaced Garrett Gilbert, Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin handed the reins to David Ash for a full 60 minutes on Saturday and got some mediocre results. Ash completed only 22 of his 40 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns. More importantly, he turned the ball over three times. There's no guarantee that Case McCoy will see time next week because of it, but you can bet at the very least Malcolm Brown and Fozzy Whittaker will get a lot more than the 28 carries they split on Saturday.

WINNER: Missouri offensive coordinator David Yost

Coming into Saturday, Missouri's offense hadn't exactly been lighting up scoreboards the same way it has the last few seasons. Obviously, a lot of this had to do with breaking in a new quarterback in James Franklin. Coming into Saturday the Tigers were averaging 32.2 points per game, but if you took out the 69 points Mizzou scored against Western Illinois, that average dropped to 23 points per game. Against Iowa State Yost's offense blew up for 52 points and 583 yards of offense, with James Franklin totaling 5 touchdowns. No doubt Yost is hoping that becomes a trend for the last half of the season.

LOSER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman stock

I put Robert Griffin in this spot last week following a Baylor victory, and now Brandon Weeden finds himself in the same situation. Sure, Oklahoma State scored more points (38) than it ever had before during a trip to Austin, but Weeden's numbers on Saturday weren't very Weeden-esque. He finished the day with only 218 yards and a touchdown. Compare that to last week when he threw 288 yards and 5 touchdowns in less than a full half. The good news for Weeden is he has plenty of time to help people forget this performance.

WINNER: Believers in Bill Snyder

Let's be honest, nobody expected Kansas State to be 6-0 at this point in the season. A lot of people didn't expect the Wildcats to be 6-0 even after they started the season 5-0, as Kansas State opened the week as 3 1/2-point underdogs on the road against Texas Tech. Yeah, well, Bill Snyder doesn't care. The style of offense he runs may seem a bit old fashioned, but it works, and Kansas State is a contender to win the Big 12 whether you're willing to believe it or not.

WINNER: Ryan Broyles

It was just another night for the Oklahoma receiver, as he caught 13 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns. His first touchdown catch of the night was the reception number 317 for Broyles in his career, and it moved him past Taylor Stubblefield for the most receptions by any player in NCAA history. Broyles finished the night with 326 career receptions, and he's still got seven games to go. He could pass 400 by the time he's done.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 5:00 am
 

Big Ten Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Adam Jacobi


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

WINNER: Nebraska's season

Ignore the fact that 4-2, all things considered, isn't a terrible record; for No. 14 Nebraska, dropping the Ohio State game would have been a backbreaker for a season that started with realistic Rose Bowl aspirations -- especially with OSU looking like an unusually easy victory coming into Saturday. Instead, the Buckeyes opened up a 27-6 lead and seemed to be putting the final nail in the coffin of Nebraska's reputation as a Big Ten contender before the Huskers pulled off their largest comeback in program history on the back of Rex Burkhead (pictured above, finding plenty of comfort in the middle of OSU's rush defense). Now the Huskers are 5-1, and more importantly, only have one loss on their Big Ten slate instead of starting out 0-2. This season still might not end up in the Rose Bowl -- in fact it probably won't -- but sheerly by dodging the bullet on Saturday, Nebraska was a big, big winner.

LOSER: Joe Bauserman, yet again

It's not entirely fair to pin Ohio State's collapse on Joe Bauserman; the backup QB came into the game in the second half cold, and Nebraska had already begun its fight back at that point. And yet, the score was 27-13 OSU when Bauserman came in for an injured Braxton Miller on a 3rd and 8, and the score was 34-27 Nebraska by the time Bauserman put the finishing touches on his 1-10, 17-yard, 1 INT magnum opus. In the last four weeks -- the only games in which OSU has faced BCS conference competition this season -- Bauserman's stats are a terrifying 12-40, 144 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. That's a 63.49 passer rating, which is reprehensible. Oh, and not only is Bauserman going to play for as long as Braxton Miller's hurt, he's also the quarterback Luke Fickell tabbed to start the season for the Buckeyes. Enjoy, OSU!

WINNER: Do-everything QBs in the Big Ten

Nathan Scheelhaase, Taylor Martinez, and Denard Robinson may all be vying for the Second Team All-Big Ten role behind Wisconsin dreamboat Russell Wilson, but all three QBs put on an absolute show on Saturday. Scheelhaase had 210 yards passing, 88 yards rushing, and 4 combined TDs for Illinois in a win at Indiana. Martinez had his best passing performance of the year against a tough Ohio State defense, going 16-22 for 192 yards passing and rushing for 102 more yards; he accounted for three of Nebraska's four TDs. Robinson's numbers were the gaudiest: 325 yards passing, 117 yards on 25 rushes, and four total TDs in Michigan's 42-24 win over Northwestern. Even Braxton Miller had 95 yards passing and 91 yards rushing before he was forced to leave the game. Conference play will sort out this hierarchy, but it's fantastic to see such a breadth of dynamic talent at QB.

LOSER: Timid 4th down playcallers

Indiana kicked a field goal on 4th and goal from the 3 with a 4-point deficit. Iowa punted from Penn State's 33-yard line down 6-3. Ohio State punted from Nebraska's 32-yard line with a late 27-20 lead. What do all these decisions have in common? They were all unnecessarily conservative, and they all backfired. Indiana immediately gave up a touchdown drive, Iowa's punt led to a 90-yard Penn State drive that mercifully ended in an end zone interception (but still wore down the Iowa defense), and Ohio State would never see its lead again after Nebraska responded with a touchdown drive. Yes, the field position is important, but the points battle is the real one that matters, and all three of these teams did themselves a disservice by not even attempting to maximize their opportunities.

WINNER: Penn State's defense

In a stat that will undoubtedly become a trivial relic by the end of the season, Iowa came into this week's game against Penn State with the Big Ten's most prolific passing attack, averaging 281 yards a game under QB James Vandenberg. Penn State bottled that attack up beautifully, limiting Vandenberg to 169 yards on 17/34 passing with two interceptions and a lost fumble on a sack. More importantly, the Nittany Lions allowed only a field goal in a 13-3 victory. delighting a partisan PSU crowd that was hungry for a Penn State win over the nemesis Hawkeyes.

LOSER: Rob Bolden Fan Club president Joe Paterno

There is truly no reason for Rob Bolden to be starting anymore, yet start he does, week in and week out. Bolden's passer efficiency is out of the NCAA's top 100; Matt McGloin's was 42nd nationwide coming into the game. McGloin was far better against Iowa, hitting pass after pass in tight windows while Bolden's best gains came on tipped balls -- his biggest completion ricocheted off of an unsuspecting referee's leg, for crying out loud. Nobody at Penn State outside of the coaching staff knows why Bolden plays so much, yet he does, and he's probably going to ride his 3/7, 31 yard performance to another starting week unless Joe Paterno puts an end to this farce of a quarterback battle and just gives the job to McGloin already.

WINNER: Ron Zook's mojo

Imagine, if you will: Team X is ranked and undefeated, and playing at outmatched-but-feisty Team Y. Team Y takes the opening kick to the house, then makes a stop and turns it into a field goal for a 10-0 lead. At this point, one would assume that if Team X had a good coach, he would have his charges weather this storm and not panic, and if Team X's coach was a raving lunatic, then this was an upset in the making. Well, Team X is obviously Illinois, Team Y is obviously Indiana, the Team X head coach is obviously Ron Zook, and his team responded admirably to the adversity by turning the game into a 41-20 rout. Illinois is now 6-0. It could be 9-0 heading into the Michigan game. Ron Zook is doing all this. This is the reality you must accept.

LOSER: Whoever had to watch Minnesota-Purdue

One Husker blogger tabbed this matchup "the game that fun forgot" on Saturday morning, and while that's not a fair assessment of a game that ends up featuing 62 points scored, it's not quite that far off from this game either. Now. Purdue is not good at football. Not even in a young and sneaky and what if they put it all together sense. Just not good. Purdue also opened up a 45-3 lead on Minnesota en route to a 45-17 win, and we're left to wonder just what level of football the Gophers actually belong in (hint: not FBS!). And yet, there were still only 589 total yards combined in this game; even the PSU-Iowa eye-clawer, by comparison, had 648 total yards from scrimmage. Purdue and Minnesota can't even put on a blowout correctly! Just a mess all the way through here, and there are probably plenty more such messes that await fans of both these teams this season.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:18 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Ten Pac-12 teams were in action during week 6 and while there were only five that could put one in the win column, here's a handy recap of who really won and who really lost around the conference that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Dennis Erickson's agent.

Arizona State was picked in the preseason to represent the South division in the first ever conference championship game and after a win against Utah Saturday afternoon, it looks like the Sun Devils are finally living up to expectations. They're the only team in the division to be perfect in conference play and have now beat the two teams many expected to give them trouble - Utah and USC. After struggling in the bottom half of the conference for three years, it looks like the corner has been turned in Tempe.

The Sun Devils won 10 games for the first time since 1996 in Erickson's first year and the win this week put them well on their way to matching that feat in 2011. Erickson's contract runs through 2012 but with the way the team is playing, he's moved off the hot seat and into a position to possibly get a new deal that he can ride into retirement.

LOSER: Mike Stoops' job security.

It's gone and it is never coming back. A lot of Arizona fans know that Stoops has won a bowl game and finished as high as a tie for second in the conference with a program that hasn't seen much success. But he is 27-38 in the league and 41-50 overall after the loss to winless Oregon State. Quarterback Nick Foles is doing the best he can but the talent around him is not making plays like they should. What's really concerning is that the defense has given up an average of 43 points a game over the past five and the Wildcats have lost 10 straight against FBS teams.

It's probably not all bad for Stoops, his brother Bob might have an opening on his staff if defensive coordinator Brent Venables leaves for a head coaching job after sending out his resume tape of the Oklahoma-Texas game.

WINNER: Airlines that fly from San Francisco to New York.

Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign had a nice boost against Colorado with the signal-caller throwing for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns against the Pac-12's newest member. Perhaps he was just trying to show off for John Elway and Tiger Woods, who were walking around the sidelines all game. While they were surely impressed, so too were Heisman voters who watched. Luck was able to strategically pick apart whatever defense the Buffs threw at him and he made some great throws while on the run. The trio of tight ends he has to throw to plus Chris Owusu are a very good group that many might overlook just because they're not a flashy bunch.

Luck is not going to put up 500 yards passing or 200 yards rushing because of what Stanford wants to do on offense. That said, he's led his team to an undefeated record and really hasn't even been tested so far this season. It's almost like Stanford will even tease opponents who will watch the tape by mixing in some hurry-up offense just to show off Luck running it to perfection. He put up good numbers this week but just as important, kept the record perfect.

LOSER: Airlines that fly from Portland to New York.

It was really hard to watch a replay of LaMichael James' arm injury he suffered Thursday against Cal. While the tough Texan apparently just popped it right back in, it's likely he'll miss some playing time over the next few weeks. He dipped off of the Heisman radar after a no-show against LSU in the opener but James had quietly put up some big numbers to work his way back on some short lists. He rushed for over 200 yards for three straight games, something no other Oregon Duck had ever done.

Despite the big numbers, they're likely all for nothing in the awards race if he misses any playing time. He can still make sure everybody remembers what he can do with a big showing against Stanford in early November but it's unlikely he'll wind up in New York in December.

WINNER: Mike Riley and Sean Mannion.

There is no nicer or more genuine head coach in the business than Mike Riley. He's gone through plenty of issues this year and was the laughing stock of much of the country after losing to FCS foe Sacramento State. He made a change at quarterback for good in the Wisconsin game and the decision to go with redshirt freshman Sean Mannion really paid off against Arizona as he threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. There's not a whole lot going for the Beavers this year after their rough start and being in a tough division, wins like this will go along ways. Mannion was clutch when he needed to be, leading a late drive and finding Joe Halahuni in the end zone on 4th down.

LOSER: Football in Los Angeles.

One wonders how football in a talent rich area like Los Angeles could be so average. UCLA moved to .500 on the year with a comeback victory over Washington State while USC took a bye after their defense allowed 41 points to Arizona. For the Bruins, there should be a talent gap between them and the Cougars but there really wasn't much of one after a narrow 28-25 win. The Trojans are young and thin in many areas but it might be the coaching that is suspect given the way they've played their games so far this year. Rick Neuheisel technically has the only team left in the division that can stop Arizona State from going to the championship game but based on the way UCLA has been playing, there's little chance of that happening.

Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 1:19 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 6



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: Football in the state of Oklahoma

You know, we can't be sure how happy Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are to still be in the Big 12 considering all the flirting the schools did with the Pac-12, but at this point we really have to wonder why in the world would either school want to leave the Big 12? They're tearing the conference apart, as both schools combined to outscore their opponents 125-45 this week and are a combined 10-0 this season. Considering how bad Texas looked against the Sooners on Saturday, it's evident that the Longhorns are still a year or two away from competing for the Big 12. This conference belongs to the state of Oklahoma for at least that long. 

LOSER: The Eyes of Texas

Oh the horror those eyes had to see on Saturday. Those images were burned into their retinas and are guaranteed to appear in nightmares and therapy sessions for years to come. The five turnovers, three defensive touchdowns by the Sooners, and Landry Jones took any optimism the Longhorns may have had after the first month of the season and buried it all beneath a sea of fried foods.

WINNER: Collin Klein

The reemergence of the Kansas State football program is not only one of the most unexpected storylines of the Big 12 season, but it's also one of the most welcome. While Bill Snyder and the Kansas State defense deserve a lot of the credit, we can't forget the quarterback who is conjuring up memories of Ell Roberson with the 3 touchdown performance like the one he had against Missouri on Saturday in Manhattan.

LOSER: The Jayhawks defense

I use the term "defense" incredibly loosely there. In five games this season the Jayhawks defense is yet to give up less than 24 points in any of them, and that 24 point game came in the opener against McNeese State. Since then it's been 42 points to Northern Illinois, 66 to Georgia Tech, 45 to Texas Tech and then 70 to Oklahoma State. You know what kind of offense you need to have to win games when your defense is giving up 49.4 points per game? Any offense playing Kansas that week.

WINNER: Terrence Ganaway

With the exploits of Robert Griffin and his favorite target Kendall Wright, the Baylor running back has been lost in the shuffle a bit through Baylor's first five games. That was not the case on Saturday, as Art Briles used the running game to wear down the Iowa State defense and keep his defense off the field. It worked out pretty well for Briles, as his running back rewarded him with 200 yards and 3 touchdowns.

LOSER: Robert Griffin's Heisman chances

RG3 didn't exactly have a bad game on Saturday, as he threw for 212 yards while rushing for an additional 107 yards and finished the game with 3 touchdowns. Still, when you play for Baylor, a team that isn't exactly a household name, you need to have monster performances all year long to keep the Heisman spotlight on you. Particularly when guys like Landry Jones, Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck are all playing for undefeated teams and having huge games.

WINNER: Texas A&M's confidence

The Aggies may not have completely erased the memories of their collapses over the last two weeks, but although they let Texas Tech get within five points in the final minute on Saturday night, all that truly matters is that the Aggies held on to get the win. More importantly, the offense did not disappear in the second half and it kept doing what had made it successful in the first half. Quite a change from what we saw from this team against Oklahoma State and Arkansas.

LOSER: Texas Tech fans

Do we know that it was Texas Tech fans that did it for sure? No. Are we relatively confident that it was? Well, who else was in Lubbock this weekend that would have done it? What happened to the Texas A&M bus this weekend was despicable and embarrassing for the Big 12 as a whole, and college football itself. You can be upset that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12, but guess what? The Big 12 is going to survive, and you still have a home there, so why exactly you feel the need to wipe your own excrement all over a bus is beyond me.
 
 
 
 
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