Tag:Pitt
Posted on: September 22, 2011 1:06 pm
 

East Carolina interest in Big East nothing new

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Wasting no time attempting to get their foot in the door left open by Pitt and Syracuse, East Carolina announced Wednesday they had applied for membership in the Big East. From a statement by ECU athletic director Terry Holland:
"East Carolina University will always maintain a proactive approach in regards to positioning itself for future success, and the fluidity of current conference realignment possibilities is no exception."

"While we have formalized our interest in Big East Conference membership as a viable option, ECU will remain focused on competing at the highest level through the efforts of Conference USA."
Openly announcing that you've applied to a different conference is a curious definition of "remaining focused" on succeeding in Conference USA, we'd argue, and when we say "openly" we mean it. Contrast the continued (open) secrecy of, say, West Virginia's attempt to join the ACC or SEC with e-mailing 50 different media members the news of your application before the Big East has even had a chance to give it a serious thought -- it arrived the same day ECU announced they'd put it in the mail -- and you'll see how badly the Pirates want to be taken as a serious candidate for Big East expansion.

But this is nothing new for the Greenville, N.C. school. Back in 2008, the Hartford Courant reported that ECU officials would be willing to make a stunning number of concessions if the Big East would give them their big break at the BCS level.

Among the offers allegedly on the table: that ECU would forgo entirely their share of Big East revenue on a "trial basis," so that conference revenues for the res tof the league remained constant; forgoing any shared BCS bowl revenue until the Pirates made a BCS bowl themselves; provide its own television contract so as not to interfere with the league's existing deal; guaranteeing the sale of 2,500 tickets to their Big East away games; and possibly more.

"We would agree to all of that and others," a "prominent ECU supporter" told the Courant at the time. "Our partnership could be described as a 'hand-in' partnership rather than a 'hand-out' partnership. We wouldn't be asking for anything except the opportunity to prove ourselves as good and productive partners of the eight institutions playing Division I-A football."

Would the Pirates still be as desperate today? With the Big East in a position of lesser strength and stability, then-Pirate head coach Skip Holtz now at South Florida, and the economy making finances more tricky for football programs outside the BCS, it seems far less likely ECU administrators would be willing to make quite that big a gamble on a league with so many question marks still to be answered.

But it nonetheless goes to show that Wednesday's application announcement isn't the first time the Pirates have attempted to beat down the Big East's door. And if the conference once again passes over the Pirates (this time in favor of teams like Navy and Air Force), expect ECU to try again whenever the opportunity presents itself again.

For more on Conference Realignment 2011, follow our RapidReports on the subject by clicking here.

Posted on: September 21, 2011 2:11 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 2:53 pm
 

WVU AD Luck: Big East puts together 'strategy'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With the league under siege following the surprise defections of Pitt and Syracuse, the Big East's presidents and athletic directors met in New York Tuesday night to plan the future of the conference. CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy has all the pertinent details, including the potential for a revival of Navy or Air Force as possible football-only members

Following the meeting, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck released the following statement:

"President [James P.] Clements and I represented West Virginia University at last night's Big East meeting in New York. The group concluded the meeting with a strategy to recruit top level BCS-caliber institutions that match the league's strong athletic and academic histories and traditions.

"As I stated before, WVU is an excellent flagship, land-grant University, with national-caliber athletic and academic programs. We are, and will remain, a national player in college athletics.

"The conference office will coordinate any further discussion on this issue."

From a conference solidarity perspective, that sure beats Luck's previous statement on the topic, in which the Big East was most conspicuous only by its absence. That Luck is willing to discuss (and, one would assume, contribute to) the league's "strategy" to "recruit" new programs is a sign that for the time being, WVU is giving the Big East its best shot.

But that still doesn't mean that if the SEC or ACC decided to change its tune and listen to the Mountaineers' overtures for membership, WVU wouldn't pack its bags in a heartbeat. (As would any team in WVU's current position, of course, as the Panthers and Orange so comprehensively proved.) Note that Luck's new statement still doesn't bother to commit the school to the Big East for any length of time or in any fashion. It doesn't promote the Big East's "bright future" or "way forward" or any of the other buzzwords typically used in this situation to indicate that the Mountaineers are happy campers in their current digs.

Rest assured, WVU is still looking for a way out. But until that way out emerges, Luck and Clements will no doubt do their best with an awkward situation.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 1:04 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 1:27 am
 

Conference realignment road map: Sept. 20

Posted by Bryan Fischer



"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

- The Godfather, Part III.

The aforementioned movie was probably the worst of the trio of films in The Godfather series but the quote is a fairly accurate reflection of what happened Tuesday. Just when you thought Oklahoma was out, they're pulled back in. Or, thanks to the Pac-12's statement late Tuesday night, pushed back into the Big 12.

For now.

As everyone woke up, it seemed as though Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State too) were headed to the Pac-12. Their board had authorized President David Boren to act in the best interest of the school regarding conference realignment on Monday. It looked like it was a mere formality before there'd be some movement. Before everyone was home from work though, it seemed as things had cooled on that.

The Sooners would still be willing to work out somethings in order to make the Big 12 work, The Oklahoman reported. Commish Dan Beebe had to go, Texas would have to alter The Longhorn Network and concessions would have to be made. The door was open for the Big 12, but so was the Pac-12's... until the latter wasn't.

That's the gist of the Pac-12's statement, that they'd be sticking with the current group of schools and their giant media rights deal that still has ink drying on it. From the looks of everything - and that seems to change hour-by-hour - Oklahoma will no longer head West and we've essentially hit the pause/reset button on the realignment craze for at least a few more days.

"We were not surprised by the Pac 12's decision to not expand at this time," Boren said in a statement. "Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress we've been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future."

What's it all mean?

For the Pac-12: Raise your glasses once again to Larry Scott. It was his vision a year ago to push for the Pac-16 and when offered the chance to make it work, he said no because he couldn't do it on his terms. According to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, the league balked at giving Texas a sweetheart deal to make the arrangement with the Oklahoma schools work. The Longhorn Network isn't their problem and now the league can go back to putting together their own network that makes LHN's distribution look like a needle in the haystack. That's another win for the Scott and the conference.

For the Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma have to work things out and the other schools have to sign off on it. Texas A&M is still leaving for the SEC so that means expansion is still a topic for discussion (Hello TCU?, BYU?). A source told the AP that the two power schools will meet in the next few days to negotiate a deal to keep both in the league for five years. Forget the Red River Shootout, the Red River Boardroom will be the place to see these two teams square off this year.

It's hard to see Beebe keeping his job through all of this. It's clear he's not in charge anymore and it's time to go. Orangebloods.com reported late Tuesday night that it's not just the Sooners that want the commissioner out. Perhaps Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione could succeed him, he's one of the sharpest people in college athletics and someone who could rally all of the schools and keep the league afloat.

For the Big East: The conference's football teams - newcomer TCU included - met tonight in New York City and remained firmly committed to the league. It's clear that commissioner John Marinatto will hold Pitt and Syracuse in the league until 2014 and actively pursue options to replace them when they do in fact head to the ACC. Brett McMurphy has a detailed account of the meeting and says that Navy and Air Force are two likely targets for the Big East.

For the SEC: Get ready to roll out the welcome mats (officially) for Texas A&M. The Big 12 sticking together means that Baylor and the other schools can relinquish their legal threats and allow the Aggies to proceed on their way East. It remains to be seen if they're going to pursue a 14th team but it seems as though Missouri is off the table - if they were in fact looking at the Tigers to fill that spot as reports had indicated.

For the ACC: Sit tight boys, it will be awhile before the two newest schools will be ready to join the conference. Might want to pump the brakes on adding UConn or Rutgers too as the superconference idea looks to still be aways off.

For the BCS: Oh yeah, don't forget about the BCS itself. There are leagues shifting around like crazy and numbers are certainly going to change. The end date for the current contract is in 2014 but the evaluation process to determine what conference is an automatic qualifier starts much earlier. This might be the final piece of the realignment puzzle to be worked out, but it's one of - if not the - most important.


Posted on: September 20, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:00 pm
 

PODCAST: The Doddcast takes on expansion

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Expansionpalooza 2011 kicked into its highest gear yet with Pitt and Syracuse's stunning defection to the ACC and Texas and Oklahoma making their boldest moves yet towards making the Pac-12 a Pac-16. And that was before Tuesday's smoking hot rumor regarding the SEC and Missouri.

All of which means it's time for another edition of the Doddcast with senior CBSSports.com writer Dennis Dodd. Dodd sat down with Adam Aizer to talk over multiple angles of the current expansion tangle, and even how it might affect the Oklahoma State-Texas A&M showdown Dodd will be viewing in person this weekend. Listen below, download the mp3, pop the player out in a separate window for continued browsing while listening, and subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast in iTunes to receive future editions.



Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Sources: West Virginia denied by ACC, SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just hours ago that -- despite reports to the contrary -- West Virginia still had hope of abandoning their sinking Big East ship for a lifeboat on its way to the ACC or SEC. But it now looks like those hopes have been extinguished.

Citing "multiple sources" within the Big East, CBSSports.com senior writer Brett McMurphy has reported that WVU officials have told other members of the conference that both the ACC and SEC have "rejected" the Mountaineers' request to join their respective leagues.

Reports surfaced Sunday that West Virginia had "submitted paperwork" to the SEC in the wake of Pitt's and Syracuse's impending defection to the ACC. Though that official application has not yet been confirmed, no one doubts that the Mountaineers have been exploring their options--and judging by WVU's public statement that conspicuously failed to mention any kind of support for the Big East, were no doubt hoping those options included an invitation to one of the two expanding BCS leagues.

That the SEC would seem to be in need of an Eastern-oriented team to balance its conference opposite the Western addition of Texas A&M appeared to make them the more likely of the two to grant WVU admittance. But with both that door and the ACC's now apparently closed, WVU will have to look elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, the Charleston Gazette has reported that the "other realistic scenario" for WVU (besides the SEC) was to "remain in the reconfigured Big East."

If that league can pull off a successful merger with the leftover members of the Big 12 in the wake of that league's seemingly-inevitable dissolution, the Mountaineers may land on their feet. If not, the news reported by McMurphy today may be news that stings the Morgantown faithful for years to come.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 4:41 pm
 

Big 12 Poll Reactions, Week 3

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The new polls came out on Sunday, so let's take a look at which schools in the Big 12 get to continue putting a number next to their name this week, and discuss whether they should have that number or not.

Oklahoma (AP:1/Coaches:1) - The last few weeks I had some questions about whether or not Oklahoma truly deserved to be the top-ranked team in the country since the Sooners had only won one game against Tulsa, while LSU went out and beat Oregon to start the season. Well, I can keep my mouth shut now because Oklahoma went on the road -- something it's had trouble with the last few years -- and took down Florida State in front of a very hostile crowd in Tallahassee. The majority of the credit for the win, however, has to go to the Oklahoma defense. It wasn't exactly a wonderful night for Heisman hopeful Landry Jones, as he threw for only 199 yards and 1 touchdown while also throwing 2 interceptions. Not exactly the kind of performance a Heisman Trophy winner has in big games.

Oklahoma State (7/6) - The Cowboys jump up a spot in each poll, and a part of me has to laugh at this a little bit. Not because I don't feel that Oklahoma State deserves the ranking, but only because I have serious doubts about how many voters in both polls actually watched Oklahoma State's victory over Tulsa early Sunday morning. I'd also bet that most of them turned in their ballots before the game even started under the impression of "They're gonna kill Tulsa, so let's rank 'em a bit higher this week." Truth be told, Oklahoma State's defense did not have it's best night/morning of the season, but I'm going to give the unit a break seeing as how most of the points it surrendered came after 2am. I know this because I actually watched the game. Why? I don't know. I have a problem.

Texas A&M (8/8) - Much like the Cowboys, the Aggies also enjoyed the fruits of Oklahoma's victory by climbing up a spot following Florida State's loss. The Aggies haven't exactly faced a team that can truly test their top ten status in their first two games, but they've gone out and filled the role of what a team with this ranking is supposed to do with inferior competition thus far. So it's hard to argue with A&M's ranking, but a pretty large game looms on the schedule this weekend when Oklahoma State comes to town. Only one of these two teams will be in the top ten next week.

Baylor (17/19) - I'd like to take a moment to congratulate the voters of the coaches poll. Sure, seeing Baylor beat TCU on the first weekend of the season wasn't enough for you to justify putting Baylor ahead of TCU in your rankings the first two weeks, but after seeing the Bears take care of mighty Stephen F. Austin this weekend, you finally took them seriously. Good for you.

Texas (19/18) - Longhorns, I hadn't been all that kind to you in the poll reactions the last two weeks. It was my feeling that the only reason you were ranked was because you were Texas, and not because of anything you'd done on the football field. Well, that has changed thanks to a very nice win on the road against UCLA this week. Am I convinced that you're a top 20 team? No, the quarterback situation is still a bit iffy, even if it does seem more stable at the moment. However, you definitely deserve to be ranked, but I'd have you more in the 21-25 range.

Drop Outs: None.

Receiving Votes: Iowa State showed up on a few more ballots in both polls this week after beating UConn on the road Friday night, but it didn't get enough to gain entrance to the top 25. Which is probably right. Iowa struggling at home to beat Pitt kind of lessened that win for Iowa State last week, and UConn isn't exactly a powerhouse, but Iowa State should be happy with what it's done and where it is.  The Cyclones have a week off before hosting Texas in their next game. Win that one, and we'll see you up above.

Then there's Missouri, which bounced back from its loss against Arizona State with an easy 69-0 win over Western Illinois. Of course, how many votes Missouri gets next week after travelling to Norman this weekend, we'll have to wait and see.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 1:22 pm
 

PODCAST: Brett McMurphy talks realignment

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the conference realignment dominoes beginning to fall all over the country thanks to the announcement that Pitt and Syracuse are leaving the Big East for the ACC over the weekend, there are a lot of questions to be answered about what the college sports landscape will look like when the dust finally settles.

Thankfully CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy and Matt Norlander sit down to discuss what this all means for the Big East and the ACC, and also talk about the possible moves by the Pac-12 and SEC. Listen below, download the mp3, or popout the player for continued browsing.

Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 3

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.

The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.

The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.

The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.

One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.

Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.

A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.

All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.

Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.

On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.

"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."

Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.

The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.

Stat of the week

Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.

Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.

Other stats of note

- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.

- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.

- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.

- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.

- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).

- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.

- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.

- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.

Yard-by-yard

- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.

- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.

- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.

- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.    
 
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.

- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.

- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.

- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.

- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.

- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.

- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

Quote of the week

Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."

Tweet of the week

Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.

"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."

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Fisch's Finest

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Texas A&M

8. Oklahoma State

9. Florida State

10. Oregon

Where we'll be this week

Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.

Leaning this way

Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.

Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.

LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.

Across the goal line

I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph. 


Category: NCAAF
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