Tag:Alabama
Posted on: November 4, 2010 11:17 pm
 

NCAA Lesson Plan, Week 10

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the main story lines to keep your eyes on in Week 10. You will be graded on this. Eyes on your own paper.

Who's the class of the Mountain West? For all the consternation caused by TCU jumping Boise State in the BCS rankings this past weekend, the real drama happens this Saturday at 3:30 on CBS College Sports, when TCU faces fellow unbeaten conference member Utah in a pivotal game that may have national championship implications. After all, if Utah beats TCU but doesn't hop Boise State in the BCS rankings, the Utes would be right to question why that'd be the case. If TCU wins and wins out, though, Boise State's national title hopes are effectively over regardless of the Broncos' undefeated record for the second year in a row.

And past the implications, it should be a really interesting game to watch; these two teams are some of the best-coached, toughest squads in all of college football, "non-AQ" label be damned. TCU quarterback Andy Dalton is having another stellar season, and the Utes are tied for third in scoring offense this season. Oh, and both defenses are in the top six in both scoring defense and total defense ; TCU in particular hasn't even given up more than seven points in a game since September. Something's gotta give ... right?

Will the SEC races be over? The key SEC matchup this week -- almost by default, considering the glut of non-conference games there on Saturday -- is certainly No. 5 Alabama at No. 12 LSU , at 3:30 on CBS. Both teams are 7-1 and ready to make a push for, at the very least, an at-large BCS bid. But here's the thing: if LSU wins, the SEC West is basically over; Auburn would have to lose to both Alabama and Georgia the week prior for LSU to take the division title. Let's at least wait for Cam Newton to be declared ineligible first.

Meanwhile, No. 17 South Carolina could take a commanding lead in the SEC East... or all hell could break loose. Again. The Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville to put their 4-2 conference record on the line against No. 16 Arkansas . If the Gamecocks pull off the win and Florida drops their game against Vanderbilt (tell us it can't happen; go on, tell us.), SC takes the SEC West just like that. It could , technically, happen.

Will off-field distractions doom top teams? So undefeated No. 2 Boise State 's out of the national championship picture the way things look now, and it hosts a surprising 7-2 Hawaii . Drama?? No. 3 Auburn faces 5-3 Chattanooga , possibly without Cam Newton. And OK, technically, the Mocs are an FCS team, but still: intrigue??? Even No. 7 Wisconsin faces plucky Purdue , and Wisconsin has to deal with this blog that clearly makes fun of it and its fans. Chicanery???? Look for all three of these ranked teams to lose by at least 20 points this week as their worlds crash down around them.

Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:42 pm
 

SEC Title Hunt preview, Week 10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth.  In the SEC, we'll shake down each division race first then make a mostly premature prediction.  Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below.

West Division

Auburn (9-0) (6-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (7-2) (3-2)
Arkansas (6-2) (3-2)
Ole Miss (3-5) (1-4)

Week 9 Preview
With their convincing victory over Ole Miss last weekend, Auburn has eliminated both Arkansas and Mississippi State from the West race. Thanks to a head-to-head loss to Auburn and a second loss for both the Razorbacks and Bulldogs within the division (where Auburn finishes 4-1 at worst), it appears that's it's impossible for either team to win a tiebreaker against the Tigers, whether it be two-way, three-way, or even four-way. Since the Tigers are already two games up in the loss column with only two to play, the Hogs and Dogs cannot do better than a tie and are done where Atlanta is concerned. A share of the West will be as good as it gets.

But that's not the case for either LSU or Alabama , who will play what will very likely amount to an elimination game Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Tide could still make Atlanta after a loss by winning out, having Auburn lose to Georgia , and watching LSU drop one of their final two SEC games; they'd win the three or four-way tie at 6-2. But that's a lot of breaks to catch. LSU, on the other hand, has no way back in the event of a loss, as they'd fall into the no-way-past-Auburn boat shared by Arkansas and MSU.

For the winner of LSU-Alabama, though hope remains very much alive. LSU would need a pair of Auburn losses, but if they got them they would control their own destiny for Atlanta. Things would be even rosier for the Tide, who control their own destiny already and would be only two home games away from the divisional title.

Which is why Auburn will be rooting hard for LSU (not, of course, that they wouldn't be anyway). A Bayou Bengal win would mean that after dispensing with FCS Chattanooga this week, Auburn would have the golden opportunity to clinch the division at home next week against Georgia. The opinion here is that they won't get it, however; unless Patrick Peterson can produce some game-changing plays in the return game, it's hard to see how LSU's feeble passing attack makes enough hay against the Tide's defense to put a game-winning number of points on the board.

Week 10 West winners: Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss
West Favorite: Auburn

East Division

South Carolina (6-2) (4-2)
Florida (5-3) (3-3)
Georgia (4-5) (3-4)
Vanderbilt (2-6) (1-5)
Kentucky (4-5) (1-5)
Tennessee (2-6) (0-5)

Week 9 Preview
Thanks to form holding in the South Carolina vs. Tennessee , Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas, and Kentucky vs. Mississippi State games, what once appeared to be an incomprehensible mess will almost certainly come down to one game: South Carolina at Florida, Nov. 13, for all the division's marbles.

It's "almost" because there's one remaining possible fly in the ointment: Vanderbilt, who hosts the Gators at noon Eastern this Saturday. If the Commodores can pull off the shocker, Carolina will go into their evening game against Arkansas knowing that a win will send them to Atlanta for the first time in the program's history.

Much more likely, of course, is that the Gators take care of business and render the tilt between the Gamecocks and Razorbacks completely meaningless where the East title is concerned. Even in the event of a Gator win and Carolina loss -- a likelihood, given the downtrodden state of the Carolina secondary and the skills of Ryan Mallett -- the Gamecocks will still have the tiebreaking upper hand if they can win in the Swamp, and Florida will have no way past that tiebreak after that fourth loss. It will be 100 percent winner-take-all.

(Note that Georgia has been eliminated; even the Vandy-over-Florida / Arkansas-and-Florida-over-Carolina / Georgia-over-Auburn series of events that leads to a three-way tie at 4-4 doesn't help them, since Florida would take it on the strength of head-to-head wins over both the Dawgs and Gamecocks.)

Week 10 East winners: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee
East Favorite: Florida


Mostly Premature SEC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 34, Florida 28

Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:11 pm
 

Utah A.G. looking for federal help in BCS suit

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff has been gearing up for an antitrust lawsuit aimed at bringing down the Bowl Championship Series for quite some time now, and this week he made his pitch to what could prove to be a very powerful friend in his fight against the BCS: the U.S. Justice Department. The administration of president Barack Obama --- who of course famously stated that he would support a playoff in college football -- has already been mulling over an investigation into the fairness of the BCS system. If Shurtleff has his way, that mulling over will become action and the BCS could be facing federal antitrust violations.

But as this report from the Salt Lake Tribune helps illustrate, if Shurtleff doesn't get federal help, the lawsuit will likely never get off the ground. Finding the funding to bring such a high-profile suit is proving to be difficult:

 

Shurtleff said Utah couldn’t cover the costs of the litigation on its own, which is why he has repeatedly reached out to attorneys general from other states and sent a detailed legal brief to the Justice Department six months ago.

He believes the Justice Department would be in a better position to push the issues because AGs from around the nation often represent the major universities in their states and it is the college presidents who make up the BCS.

“Potentially the defendants are your own clients,” Shurtleff said.

Further, the climate for pursuing such a case is growing harsher by the day. Shurtleff first began his crusade in the wake of his home-state Utah program getting shut out of title consideration after their undefeated 2008 run, but since then the Utes have become part of the BCS's landed gentry themselves by accepting a Pac-12 invitation; his constituency may not support his cause with the fervor they once did, another reason he may need the support of the Justic Department.

Beyond that, with both Boise State and the winner of Saturday's mega-clash between Utah and TCU highly likely to play in BCS bowls (and reap BCS cash) this season, non-AQ access to the BCS has never been greater. Shurtleff claims of a potential non-AQ team playing in the national game that ...

“There is no scenario whatsoever where it can happen under the current regime,” he said. “It can not happen.”
But this is simply, patently false; a scenario in which Oregon loses or the SEC champion has two losses could do the trick before the year is out.

Should the Ducks win out and either undefeated Auburn or a one-loss Alabama squeeze the unblemished Broncos, Frogs, or Utes out of the title game, Shurtleff will have a point. It will not be fair to continue to reward perfect seasons by established non-AQ powers with seats at the metaphorical kiddie table. But fair or not, neither the political climate nor the climate surrounding college football seems conducive right now to forcing BCS change at the point of a knife.

HT: GTP .

 


Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:21 pm
 

SEC in danger of failing to fulfill bowl tie-ins

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Though it's been described in some quarters as a "down year" for the SEC , the polls would beg to differ; the league still hogs a third of the BCS top six and more than a quarter of the BCS top 20. A year after Alabama and Florida staged a de facto play-in game for the right to play for the BCS national championship, most bowl projections --- including CBSSports.com's -- currently see this year's meeting between a potentially undefeated Auburn and a potentially one-loss Alabama to be just as critical. Charges that the league's lack of depth was being masked by the Tide's and Gators' dominance have been answered this season as up-and-comers like Auburn, South Carolina , Arkansas , and Mississippi State have more than filled the vacuum left by the decline of Florida and Georgia .

In short, at the top of the standings, it's as good to be the SEC as ever. Too bad the story is a different one in the league's other half, where several teams will have to scratch and claw their way to bowl eligiblity. While fewer bowl teams would be something of a black mark for the league's record, it would be even worse news for the bowls on the back end of the SEC's 9-game bowl tie-in pecking order.

With the league all but guaranteed a second spot in the BCS (likely to go to either the Auburn-Alabama loser or LSU in the event the Bayou Bengals knock off Alabama at home this weekend), the SEC will need 10 bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of those tie-ins. If they fall short, the struggling Birmingham Bowl -- having already lost its papajohns.com title sponsor and sitting on the ninth and final choice from the SEC pool -- could be forced to invite a Sun Belt also-ran that would almost certainly lead to diminished attendance and TV ratings. The bowls with the SEC's No. 7 and No. 8 choices, the Liberty Bowl and Music City Bowl , are more stable but would no doubt take some form of hit from being forced to choose a lower-rung Big East team or non-AQ at-large squad.

So there's more at stake in the race for bowl eligiblity for the SEC's bottom half than just gift bags and extra practices. CBS projects nine of the conference's teams to make it across the line to the postseason, but this assumes a few results break the SEC's way. Taking a look at the league's eligibility picture ...

Team-by-Team

Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas : Each of these teams has already earned postseason eligibility.

Florida : The Gators need only more one win, and if the exceedingly unlikely event they don't get it this week against Vanderbilt , they will Nov. 20 against FCS Appalachian State .

Kentucky : This is where things start getting at least a little dicey. The Wildcats have used the four-mediocre-nonconference-wins plus-two-SEC-victories blueprint to eligibility before and, with only four wins to date, could need it again. Charleston Southern will get them to five, but if the 'Cats botch their Nov. 13 home date with Vandy, they'll have to end their 25-game losing streak to Tennessee (the NCAA's longest between two teams) in Knoxville to make the postseason.

Georgia : With Idaho State on tap this week but a trip to Auburn the following Saturday, the 4-5 Bulldogs are likely to be at 5-6 and in need a win at home over Georgia Tech in the season's final week to go bowling. The 5-3 Yellow Jackets have taken a step back this season but won their last trip to Athens.

Ole Miss: This is where the shots at eligibilty get legitimately long. The 3-5 Rebels will need three wins out of a slate that includes a home dates against Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State and trips to Tennessee and LSU. The Ragin' Cajuns are a gimme, but the Rebels will likely be underdogs in the other three and will need a pair of upsets to make up for their season-opening stunner against FCS Jacksonville State .

Tennessee: At 2-6, the Vols must win out to grab a bowl berth. But they have the schedule to make it happen, at least: vs. Memphis , Ole Miss, and Kentucky at home with only Vandy on the road. But at 0-5 in the SEC and dealing with a quarterback controversy, it's hard to see the Vols running the table even against that soft slate.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores also sit at 2-6, but with Florida up this week, they will very likely be the first SEC team officially eliminated from postseason consideration.

Best-Case Scenario

Kentucky beats Vandy, Georgia beats either Auburn or Tech, Tennessee wins out, and Ole Miss shocks both LSU and Mississippi State to send every SEC team but Vandy into the postseason (four of them at 6-6).

Worst-Case Scenario

Kentucky loses to Vandy and Tennessee. Tennessee loses to Ole Miss. Ole Miss loses to LSU and Mississippi State. Georgia loses to Auburn and Georgia Tech. And only seven SEC teams go bowling.

A Prediction

We'll stick with the CBS line for now: the Dawgs and 'Cats do enough to keep the Music City and Liberty happy, but neither the Rebels nor Vols make it and the Birmingham Bowl scrambles. But should Kentucky lose to Vanderbilt or Georgia to their in-state rivals from Atlanta, there's going to be some very unhappy bowl executives in either Memphis or Nashville.

Posted on: November 3, 2010 12:43 pm
 

Malzahn leaves Colorado door open, sort of

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One of the most talked-about columns to emerge in the college football media this past week has been this one by the Denver Post 's John Henderson, which not only confidently claims that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins won't survive into the 2011 season but offers an early shortlist for his replacement. The four names allegedly being considered by Buffs brass: Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain , retired former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney , LSU head coach Les Miles , and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn .

Of those four, Miles is widely seen as unattainable; McCartney (who has been out of coaching for the past  16 seasons) is seen as old and potentially out-of-touch; and McElwain is seen, as, well, the less-exciting of the two Alabama-based coordinators. Which has focused most of the speculation in response to Henderson's column on Malzahn, whose go-go offense has transformed Auburn from one of the SEC 's worst attacks to one of the nation's best in two short seasons (not to mention turning Cam Newton into the Hesiman front-runner). His approach would seem to be a good fit both for the Buffs' move to the high-scoring Pac-12 and for a Colorado fanbase that could use some excitement after the stultifying Hawkins tenure.

But Malzahn, like his quarterback , has already taken enough turns on the coaching speculation carousel to know not to give anything away this early :

"To be honest, I’m in my own little world," he said. "My entire focus is on this team and making it the best it can be. I’m extremely happy. I’ve said that time and time again. I love coach (Gene ) Chizik and I love coaching these kids. And my only focus is trying to win games and trying to win a championship."

"Somewhere down the line I’d like to [become a head coach]," he said. "I’m in no hurry. I feel like a lot of people think I am. But like I’ve said before, we’ve got a good thing going here and I’d like to see it through.”
This is standard boilerplate for a coach who's a candidate for another job in midseason, but of course that boilerplate is something other than "I'll be at Auburn next year" or "I'm not going to Colorado."

So the door for a move to Boulder still is, in the most technical sense of the metaphor, still open. But at this premilinary stage, reading anything into Malzahn's comments other than that he doesn't want to comment is reading too much into them.





Posted on: November 2, 2010 9:13 am
Edited on: November 2, 2010 9:24 am
 

Podcast: Aizer, Darst interview Jerry Palm

BCS expert Jerry Palm had a few minutes to chat with Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst to sort out what this week's BCS standings meaning. Palm also discusses the BCS Championship chances for TCU, Utah and Boise State.

One of the hot topics is a one-loss Alabama , which Palm thinks will play for the national title if it can win out.


Listen to the interview here:

 



Posted on: October 31, 2010 3:45 am
Edited on: October 31, 2010 1:28 pm
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 30)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Michigan State isn't exactly BCS Championship material after all: Not even in our Insane Predictions did we ever see a 31-point Iowa throttling of Michigan State coming; the Hawkeyes dominated from the get-go and harassed Kirk Cousins into irrelevance, forcing three interceptions and keeping the Spartans off the scoreboard until the game was well out of hand. The vaunted Michigan State rushing was even more forcefully debilitated; the Spartans managed only 31 yards on 20 carries, and even that might overstate the Spartans' effectiveness rushing the football, as only one of their 13 first downs came on the ground: an 11-yard end-around by WR Bennie Fowler. The MSU tailbacks? No-shows. That, plus a harried performance by the quarterback, equals disaster, and that's what rained down on the Spartans in Iowa City on Saturday.

This makes four one-loss teams in the Big Ten, and with tiebreaker rules being what they are, there are essentially no teams left in the Big Ten that can win the conference crown "without help"; each of the four teams' Rose Bowl hopes depends directly on another team winning or losing. Might we see some eyes casting furtive glances at scoreboards from here on out? Don't be surprised.

Quietly, Ohio State marches on. Don't look now, but Ohio State is back to 8-1 (4-1) on the season, tied for first with Michigan State in the standings. The Buckeyes' latest act of aggression against the rest of the conference was a 52-10 spanking of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, OSU's sixth victory of 28 points or more on the season. Terrelle Pryor's still really good, and the defense is tightening up after that 31-18 horror show in Madison two weeks ago. A 12-1 mark to finish the year isn't exactly out of the question for the Buckeyes, whose only real tests are a visit to Iowa and whatever high-level bowl game they're awarded.

Now, even if the Buckeyes win out and even if they're ranked ahead of Michigan State in the BCS ratings (which they would be), they're not guaranteed a Rose Bowl bid; like everyone else crowded at the top, OSU needs one little bit of help. Again, more on that later. But rest assured that at the very least, an 11-1 Ohio State gets an at-large BCS bowl bid.  

Sorry, but Michigan's not legitimate. The Michigan defense's ability to breathe life into a moribund opposing offense is truly a sight to behold, and its 41-point performance against Penn State and former walk-on QB Matt McGloin (making his first start ever) might have been its magnum opus. Evan Royster, who basically hasn't found rushing lanes all season long, gashed the Wolverines for 150 yards and two scores. McGloin threw for 250 yards and another touchdown, and the Nittany Lions converted on 10 of 16 third downs (and went 2-2 on fourth downs, so really, 12 of those 16 third downs ended up getting converted). Again, this is the same Nittany Lion offense that scored three points against Iowa and Alabama, scored 13 against Illinois, and "racked up" 24 on Kent State. Throw in the backup quarterback, and Michigan still gives up 41 points -- and that's not even counting PSU kneeling at Michigan's 2-yard line to end the game. It could have been worse.

What this means is that even for Denard Robinson's heroic 380 yards of total offense in the loss, Michigan's overall ineptitude makes him more the next Antwaan Randle-El than a potential conference-winning quarterback at this point. And don't get it twisted, Randle-El was truly great, but there's no doubt that he'd have traded his first-team All-American designation for so much as a bowl bid in his four years of play. Didn't happen. Now, Michigan's not there yet, but the Wolverines are at least on their way; under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines are now an astonishing 4-16 in Big Ten play with Saturday's loss. They're not exactly "program-defining" wins, either (or they could be, perhaps, but certainly not in any positive sense): at Indiana this year, vs. Indiana in 2009, vs. Wisconsin in 2008, and vs. Minnesota in 2008. That's all. No teams with over seven wins on the season, one win by over seven points. At Michigan. In fact, only Indiana has fared worse in Big Ten play since RichRod showed up; for those keeping track at home, that's the second unflattering comparison to Indiana in this paragraph alone.

Stanzi for Heisman? Let's start with Stanzi for New York: Ricky Stanzi had his third straight game of three passing touchdowns and no turnovers, pushing his season totals to 19 TDs and two picks in eight games. That's usually not a Heisman-winning pace, and especially not this season, but the efficiency (second in the nation and gaining on Boise State's Kellen Moore) is awfully reminiscent of another QB in Iowa City just eight years ago: Brad Banks, who threw 26 TDs and four interceptions en route to a runner-up spot for the Heisman to Carson Palmer in 2002. If Stanzi keeps this up and if Iowa upends Ohio State in Iowa City (big ifs), might we see Stanzi at the Downtown Athletic Club? With Denard Robinson's (or more accurately Michigan's) season fading and Taylor Martinez dinged up, don't rule it out quite yet.

Wisconsin's biggest fans are the Spartans, and its biggest enemies are its victims. How badly does Michigan State need Wisconsin to win out? If the Badgers lose while either Iowa or OSU finish at 7-1, the Spartans' grasp on the conference title evaporates; Iowa has beaten MSU head-to-head, while it's extremely unlikely that MSU can overtake the Buckeyes in the BCS standings after its jarring defeat in Iowa City on Saturday. Meanwhile, the fact that Ohio State and Michigan State don't play each other has suddenly swung heavily in OSU's favor; more on that later this week. As for Wisconsin itself, its Rose Bowl chances hinge entirely on either Michigan State or the Iowa-OSU winner losing another game. But again, more later; trust us, that stuff gets complicated, especially now that "Just win, baby" isn't automatically enough for anybody in the conference anymore.

Posted on: October 29, 2010 12:00 pm
 

ACC doomed to go without at-large bid again

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's always one of the first factoids cited whenever the ACC 's lack of strength is a topic of discussion, even ahead of "Wake Forest won the league championship within the past decade": the ACC has never earned an at-large bid to the Bowl Championship Series . 12 years, 12 whiffs, 12 missed paychecks worth millions of dollars and 12 missed opportunities to grab some kind of foothold of respect within the sport.

The talking points in the immediate wake of N.C. State 's dramatic 28-24 win over Florida State last night were that the Wolfpack had stolen away control of the ACC Atlantic and that Russell Wilson 's sudden return to form means they just might keep it. But what shouldn't be missed is that the loss all but guarantees the ACC will go yet another season without an at-large BCS bid.

That's because the Seminoles were the conference's only halfway viable candidate. Virginia Tech has taken two losses already, one to FCS James Madison in the season's biggest upset to-date. Neither Maryland nor the Wolfpack have the kind of cachet to pull in TV ratings over similar programs from other conferences (not to mention their pair of losses each). Miami was embarrassed in defeats to Ohio State and the 'Noles. Etc.

After their early-season thumping at Oklahoma , you wouldn't have said the Seminoles were a favorite to land a BCS at-large berth, but as long as they kept winning, they would be in the mix. They still have name-brand recognition dating back to the Bobby Bowden glory days. They play an exciting brand of balanced offensive football led by a high-profile star in Christian Ponder . Most importantly, they had just the one loss and the remaining schedule (home against North Carolina and Clemson , at Maryland , home to Florida in what could be a key ACC-SEC triumph) to make the leap into the BCS top 10, even the top 5. If the 'Noles ran the table but lost in the ACC title game to, say, the Hokies, they would have received a long look from bowls like the Sugar and Fiesta .

But a hypothetical three -loss FSU team? With non-AQ bid snatchers like Boise State and TCU around, not to mention the likes of Ohio State, the Auburn-Alabama loser, or a Big 12 team like Nebraska or Oklahoma ? Forget it. This isn't the year, either, and every one that passes with the BCS millions going places other than the ACC makes it that much harder for the conference to break through next year.

It's fair to say the ACC powers-that-be weren't begrudging N.C. State their raucous celebration after the victory last night. But if any Wolfpack fans happened to stumble onto a sour and depressed-looking ACC official in the aftermath, here's to hoping they weren't begrudging that official his bitterness and disappointment, either.

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