Tag:Andrew Luck
Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:27 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 1:28 am
  •  
 

Heisman race heats up as Luck falls back to pack



Posted by Bryan Fischer


STANFORD, Calif. -- Heisman moments tend not to just happen, they're built up. Sure they'll catch you off guard from time-to-time but they rarely just come out of nowhere to the front of our collective concious.

Every bit of the listed 6-foot-4, 237-pounds, Andrew Luck was deemed better than any of his peers or predeessors by pundits, NFL coaches, general managers and scouts. For every two minute drive, red zone touchdown or play action fake, it was a work art. Saturday's game against Oregon was supposed to be his. Another trip to New York was certain but, in Stanford's biggest game in decades, this was supposed to be his moment.

It wasn't.

"Not good enough to win," Luck said, in an aww-shucks manner, of his performance in a 53-30 loss. "Worst game of the year I guess."

Statistically, you could make the argument it wasn't. Realistically? It's hard to think of anybody giving Luck as much trouble as the Ducks' defense did. Pressured all night, he finished 27-for-41 for 271 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw a pick six. He lost a fumble. He was sacked. He was un-Luck like but wasn't unlucky.

"They do present some exotic formations, such as four guys to one side and what not," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "We talked about it as a staff how to handle it, making plays."

Luck didn't have to be great on his home field to wrap up college football's most prestigious trophy but he did have to be good. Playing from behind entire night, it was clear that the future top draft pick lacked any kind of wide receiver to stretch the field and even his normally reliable tight ends dropped several passes to slow momentum as the nation's longest winning streak fell just as hard as the Cardinal's outside chance at playing for the national title.

"I knew it wasn't going to be a cake walk," Luck said. "I had no grand delusion of it for our team. We still have football left and, for that, I'm grateful."

Credit Luck for having a space between the two words, college quarterback, that describe him every Saturday though. Despite losing to the only team to beat him the past two years, he was as even-keeled as ever afterward, answering questions about a difficult loss like they were the easy questions one of his midterms.

"It's disappointing obviously. You always want to have a good game," he said. "A disappointment, yes, but life goes on. We have two more big ball games coming up."

There was no Heisman moment on the slippery turf for the signal-caller but that doesn't mean he has no chance of hoisting college football's most prestigious award up in New York. The clear front-runner when the day began, he's likely to keep his spot at or near the top of most lists but there's no question that every turnover against Oregon made others' chances that much better.

"This game is not fatal to Luck's Heisman hopes," said Chris Huston, who runs HeismanPundit.com. "Voters will not blame him for this loss. The Heisman race is an individual award and, while Luck will lose some ground, he remains the favorite."

In some minds the only one to put on a performance worthy of the award was LaMichael James, who rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns as he continues to return to form following an elbow injury. Enough to get back in the discussion, maybe, but if you're looking for a moment in the game it was undoubtedly on one of James' long runs.

"His missing two games this year killed his Heisman chances," Huston added. "He just won't have the numbers to come close to winning."

For James, the 23 point win might be enough for another trip to the Heisman ceremony. For Luck, the 23 point loss might be enough to hold him back from bringing the trophy home.



Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:37 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Oregon 53 Stanford 30

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- The Game of the Century, West Edition, featured plenty of defensive plays, mistakes on special teams and one of the teams ready to press for a rematch in the BCS national championship game. The only difference between that tussle in Tuscaloosa last week and this defacto Pac-12 championship in the Bay Area? There were touchdowns. Plenty of them.

Oregon's speed went over, around and - at times - through Stanford's size as the Ducks ended the nation's longest winning streak with a 53-30 win over their division foe to take control of the conference title race. Both teams got off to their normal slow start in the first half but the Ducks, who are now 24-0 when leading at halftime under Chip Kelly, utilized big plays from Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, DeAnthony Thomas and Josh Huff to pull away from the Cardinal in the second half.

The most impressive performance of the night came from the Oregon defense that constantly put pressure on Andrew Luck and seemingly brought the Heisman Trophy front-runner back to the pack, of which James might have run his way back to. Without the team's top wide receiver (Chris Owusu) and top tight end (Zach Ertz), Luck was forced to throw into coverage often after his receiving corps could not create much separation, tossing two interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. Without a speed threat to guard against, Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti pressed his cornerbacks and used safety help over the top, limiting Stanford's bread and butter offense of quick short and intermediate throws.

That didn't mean Luck and company couldn't move the ball or get stops on defense. They just didn't do enough. It's not hard to argue that this was Stanford's biggest game in decades but they never could do enough to slow down Oregon, who proved that they're the Pac-12's best team and well on their way to their third straight conference title.

They even got a glimpse of the trophy, as commissioner Larry Scott officially presented it before the game in the press box. Given the way the South is playing out (UCLA lost, Arizona State and Utah are unranked, USC is ineligible), you wouldn't blame the Ducks' uber-booster Phil Knight for asking if he could take it home with him on his private jet.

He'll have to wait a few weeks to officially hoist the silver trophy for the first time ever but after Oregon settled things on the field Saturday night against #2 Stanford, it's a matter of when - not if - any more.

Quack.
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:31 pm
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 11



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

WINNER: Collin Klein's fantasy owners

I know that college fantasy football isn't as popular as the NFL version, but if you do play it and you don't have Collin Klein on your team, then you did something wrong earlier this season. Klein had another amazing game on Saturday as Kansas State beat Texas A&M 53-50 in four overtimes.

What was truly amazing, however, was how dominant Klein was. Kansas State scored 7 touchdowns in the game, 6 of which came courtesy of Klein as he ran for 5 (increasing his season total to 24 rushing touchdowns) and threw for another. The other Kansas State touchdown came when Klein fumbled at the goal line while going in, but luckily receiver Tramaine Thompson jumped on the loose ball.

Even more insane than the scoring? Kansas State had 411 yards of total offense in the game. Klein was responsible for 384 of those yards, or 93% of the Kansas State output.

LOSER: Mike Sherman's job stability

I've mentioned it here before in recent weeks, but Mike Sherman can't exactly be feeling too comfortable in College Station these days. Texas A&M came into the season as a top-ten pick in both polls, and now ten games into the season the Aggies find themselves at 5-5 on the year and 3-4 in the Big 12. When you're as talented a team as Texas A&M is and you keep making the same mistakes over and over -- though there was no second-half disappearing act this week, but A&M did blow a 10-point lead in the closing minutes -- then at some point the blame has to fall squarely on the coaching staff.

It's very possible that with the season's final two games, and hopefully a bowl game, Sherman is coaching to keep his job with Texas A&M. Either that or the Aggies will be moving on to the SEC and bringing in a new staff to go with its new conference.

WINNER: Brandon Weeden's Heisman Campaign

On Saturday we saw both Andrew Luck's Stanford team fall to Oregon, and Kellen Moore's Boise State team fall to TCU. You know what that means? That means Brandon Weeden is going to start climbing on a lot of Heisman ballots. Not that he really needed Luck and Moore to fall to start gaining the attention, as after Saturday's 66-6 romp over Texas Tech, Weeden now has 3,635 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also has two more games to add to those numbers, and while they're not as incredible as Case Keenum's numbers, Weeden's doing it against the Big 12 for the #2 team in the country.

LOSER: Texas Tech

I don't even know what to say at this point. I remember seeing Texas Tech beat Oklahoma earlier this season, I know it happened, I just can't fathom how it happened at this point. How does a team that played so well on that night go into such a devastating tailspin so fast?

It's not that Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma State, it's that Texas Tech never even had a prayer. This looks like a team that just doesn't care about anything anymore. It already won its Super Bowl, and now it's just trying to get through the year.

WINNER: This guy



Kudos to you, Texas Tech fan. Even during the worst of times, you do not abandon the GUNS UP attitude. Many of your fellow fans had gone home long before you fired your gun into the air. If only it hadn't been filled with blanks of despair.

LOSER: Kansas fans

You poor souls. You'd given up on your team this season already, and with basketball season now officially underway, you were ready to turn your backs to football and never look back. But then something strange happened.

Kansas not only took a lead against Baylor, but it held it. It even expanded on it. Suddenly, it's the fourth quarter and your Jayhawks are up 24-3 on Baylor! This team is going to reward you! They're going to thank you for sticking with them through all this pain!

And then suddenly Baylor scores 21 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime and then beat you 31-30 when Turner Gill decided to go for two but a terrible fade into double coverage fell incomplete.

The lesson here is never care, Kansas fan. Never. Care.

WINNER: Gary Pinkel's Big 12 Check List

With a 17-5 win over Texas on Saturday, Missouri beat Texas for the first time under head coach Gary Pinkel, and in the last time the two schools will meet as conference opponents. It was also the first time Missouri had beaten Texas in the last six meetings of the team, and only the second time in the last seventeen. Pinkel has now beaten every team in the Big 12 at least once, and what was looking like a disappointing season could be on pace for a respectable 7-5 campaign, including two wins over ranked teams.

Of course, it wasn't all good news for Missouri, and I'll get to that next.

LOSER: The knees of some of the Big 12's best

These are players that the Big 12 has lost in the last two weeks due to knee injuries: Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Texas A&M's Christine Michael and on Saturday Missouri's Henry Josey and Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.

We know Broyles and Michael are done for the year, and we learned on Saturday night that Josey, the conference's leading rusher, is also done for the year with a myriad of injuries to his left knee. There's been no official word on the status of Whittaker, but given how the injury looked and that he finished the game in street clothes and crutches on the sideline, I'm not expecting good news for Fozzy either.

Image of the Texas Tech fan courtesy of Mocksession
Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:45 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 11

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

It's been one of the longest weeks that I can remember in the world of college football because of what has been going in in State College this week, and I don't know about you, but I could really use a day to just immerse myself in football games and nothing else at this point.

So, thankfully, we've got a pretty decent slate of games on tap this weekend, though the schedule does get a bit thin toward the end of the day.

BREAKFAST

Texas Tech vs. #2 Oklahoma State - ABC, 12pm ET

Texas Tech has already spoiled the party for Oklahoma this season, and now it will be looking to finish off another Oklahoma school with BCS championship dreams. Of course, considering the way that Texas Tech has looked the last two weeks since that Oklahoma win, a victory against Oklahoma State in this one might be even more of a shocker. - Tom Fornelli

#13 South Carolina vs. Florida - CBS, 12pm ET

Steve Spurrier facing the program built by Steve Spurrier is always a headline-maker, but the bigger story is whether the Gamecocks can stay afloat in the SEC East title race. As in command as Georgia appears to be, a Carolina win over the Gators paired with an Auburn win over the Dawgs would have the East crown clinched for the Gamecocks by the end of the day. Florida may have something to say about that, though, after their previously moribund offense came to life with 410 total yards and 26 points vs. Vandy. - Jerry Hinnen

Iowa vs. #17 Michigan State - ESPN2, 12pm ET

There are approximately three games left (barring disastrous upsets) that will decide the Big Ten Legends Division race. This is one of them. Iowa, even with three losses, still controls its own destiny in the race, and has been undefeated at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State is the putative leader of the division, and a win here puts the Spartans in great shape to make it to Indianapolis in December. MSU hasn't been able to run on anybody, and Iowa hasn't been able to stop anybody on the ground. Something's gotta give. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#5 Boise State vs. TCU - Versus, 3:30pm ET

Here it is, Boise State's Mountain West Super Bowl. With no conference championship, and a soft finish to the regular season schedule, this is the Broncos last chance to make a statement against an opponent with any national recognition.  The Horned Frogs aren't the power they have been the last two seasons, but they definitely present the most difficult challenge to Boise State in the conference.  Bad news for TCU though, the defense that is giving up 200+ yards per game through the air has to face Kellen Moore on the Smurf Turf.  I expect Moore and Co. to take the opportunity to make a statement to the nation, so get the scoreboard warmed up now. - Chip Patterson

#14 Kansas State vs. Texas A&M - ABC, 3:30pm ET

If last week was any indication, we were all a bit early in writing off Kansas State following it's loss to Oklahoma. The Wildcats nearly put an end to Oklahoma State's BCS hopes last weekend, and they will be looking to put another nail in the coffin of Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies have lost two in a row coming into this game, and lost running back Christine Michael for the season last week. Will the A&M offense be capable of making up for his absence? Also, will it even matter if Collin Klein has another amazing game for the Wildcats? - TF

#15 Georgia vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET

Can Mark Richt's team handle the pressure? Win this game, and the Bulldogs will be one home gimme over Kentucky from their first trip to the SEC Championship game since 2005--the sort of stakes under which Richt's team has repeatedly shriveled in those five preceding years. If Aaron Murray plays his game, the Dawg defense forces Clint Moseley to look like the sophomore making a third career start he is, and Isaiah Crowell can find a hole or two, Georgia should be home and dry. But if they don't? The Tigers showed against Carolina and Florida that they're perfectly happy dragging opposing pro-style offenses into a low-scoring slugfest where Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb dominate things ... and the Tigers win. - JH

Florida State vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET

The in-state rivalry enters a new chapter with both Miami and Florida State making coaching changes in the last two seasons.  With EJ Manuel healthy again, the Seminoles are on a four-game winning streak averaging 38.5 points per game.  They are likely out of the ACC Atlantic race, but there is still plenty to play for for these two Florida programs.  Players from both locker rooms have made a point to mention this game meaning a little more, as you can feel the intensity returning to the rivalry.  High profile recruits will be in the house, bragging rights will be on the line, and the Hurricanes are no doubt looking to get revenge after last season's embarrassing 45-17 loss at home. - CP

USC vs. Washington - FX, 3:45pm ET

Although USC can't play in a Pac-12 Championship game this season, it would still like to show the rest of the conference that it's the best team in the Pac-12 South this season, and if it continues to play like it has been the last few weeks, then Washington may be in for a long day. Of course, on the other side of the field is a Washington team that is improving but still doesn't have that signature win under Steve Sarkisian. Going to The Coliseum and handing USC a loss would be just that. - TF

Illinois vs. #24 Michigan - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET


The last two times these teams squared off, the final score was a 67-65 3OT masterpiece in Michigan's favor. We might not see 132 total points scored (or even 100; quelle horreur!), as both defenses have been miles ahead of last year. That said, both teams' exciting quarterbacks are back and putting up solid numbers, and each squad should be extremely motivated to snap a losing streak with a big victory. Folks, it's Denard vs. Scheelhaase; why wouldn't you watch this game? - AJ

DINNER

Maryland vs. Notre Dame - NBC, 7:30pm ET

Do you ever think to yourself that you hate your eyes? Well, if so, then this will be the game for you. Maryland will be breaking out the infamous uniforms we saw in their season opener against Miami earlier this year, and they'll be combined with Notre Dame's Trapper Keeper helmets. By the time the third quarter begins you'll feel like you've been trapped inside a Jackson Pollock painting. - TF

Mississippi State vs. #3 Alabama - ESPN, 7:45pm ET

Oh, Bulldogs, you did not pick the right time to face Alabama. Not that it likely would have any difference--since back-to-back shockers over the Tide in 2006 and 2007, State has lost three straight to Nick Saban's team by a combined score of 93-20. But catching Alabama the week after the wicked sting of losing to LSU won't do much for their chances. Unless Chris Relf and Tyler Russell took some seriously ginormous strides during last week's clobbering of FCS UT-Martin, it's doubtful a Bulldog offense that's had its share of troubles this season will find many solutions against the angry Tide. - JH

#4 Stanford vs. #7 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET

The Game of the Century may have been in Tuscaloosa this past weekend but the Game of the Century, Western edition will take place Saturday in Palo Alto as Oregon puts their 18 game conference streak against Stanford's nation-leading 17 game winning streak. This was a close game last season before the Ducks pulled away late, something Andrew Luck and company are intent on correcting in order to come out of the game with a win and their national title hopes alive. - Bryan Fischer

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Washington State vs. Arizona State - Versus, 10:30pm ET

Both teams are looking to make a statement and pick up a win but more is on the line for Arizona State after losing control of the Pac-12 South after last week's loss to UCLA. The Cougars are improved but will have to deal with Vontaze Burfict on defense and an offense with plenty of weapons to contain. - BF 
Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 11



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

You know, when you're in a weekly competition of any kind, there's never really a good week to have your WORST WEEK EVER, but I have to believe that having mine in Week 10 was a pretty terrible idea. From the very beginning of the season I was in a 3-game hole behind Woman, and I spent weeks digging myself out of it. Well, I'm right back where I started now after a terrible Saturday last week.

Making matters worse, The Machine is now closer to me than I am to The Woman. Needless to say, it's been a long week. Hopefully I can work my way out of this mess quickly because I really don't have any other choice. I either get myself back in the game or I'm the college football blogger who knows less than his girlfriend.

Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech (-1 1/2) - Thursday, 8pm (All time Eastern)

Man - So far this season Virginia Tech's most impressive win has been against Miami, and in reality that's not really all that impressive of a win. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech had an bye week before this game and is coming off a win against Clemson. So why am I picking Virginia Tech? I have no idea. Because Virginia Tech had a better bye week? I don't know, I think I'm on tilt. Pick: Virginia Tech

Woman - "Yeah, the Hokies had an extra week to prepare, but I'm going with GaTech's 5-0 home record, their multi-talented QB Tevin Washington and deep threat Stephen Hill, who makes would-be defenders look like Lilliputians." Pick: Georgia Tech

Machine - The Machine thinks this will be an interesting matchup for three quarters, but then Virginia Tech pulls away in the fourth quarter and wins 35-20. Pick: Virginia Tech

Cincinnati (-3 1/2) vs. West Virginia - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I have a new philosophy when it comes to picking Big East games, and that philosophy is always go with chaos. Pick: West Virginia

Woman - "Those Mountaineers burn me every time I pick them and I do love Cincinnati, but in their last two games they've had to come from behind to win with last-ditch field goals. So, God help me, I'm taking the points." Pick: West Virginia

Machine - It's unanimous, and that's usually a good thing for the team all three of us pick. West Virginia takes it to the Bearcats, winning 44-20. Pick: West Virginia

South Carolina (-3 1/2) vs. Florida - Saturday, 12pm

Man - I really don't like putting my fate in the hands of this Florida offense, but with Connor Shaw coming off of a concussion and his status for this weekend somewhat in doubt, I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that the Florida defense and special teams can come through for me. Pick: Florida

Woman - "This is like watching two drunk coeds sitting on barstools and betting which one's going to fall off first." Pick: South Carolina

Machine - According to The Machine, this is the week where Charlie Weis finally shows off that decided schematic advantage he's been threatening to unleash for years now. Florida wins 35-17. Pick: Florida

Iowa vs. Michigan State (-2 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Last week I said I was going against my initial instinct by picking against Iowa at home against Michigan. I'm not making that mistake again, which means the Hawkeyes home winning streak will likely come to an end. Pick: Iowa

Woman - "The Hawkeyes haven't lost at Kinnick Stadium this year. That ends Saturday, as the Spartans become this season's Big 10 Legend." Pick: Michigan State

Machine - The Machine sees Michigan State coming to Iowa City and destroying the place as the Spartans win 38-13. Pick: Michigan State

Missouri vs. Texas (-1 1/2) - Saturday, 12pm

Man - The Longhorns are starting to make a real believer out of me the last few weeks as Bryan Harsin has this running attack humming and firing on all cylinders. So even against a Missouri team that seems to do the opposite of what I expect every week, I'm going with Texas on the road. Pick: Texas

Woman - "Despite the Tigers' craptastic season, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson found time this week to taunt the Longhorns, saying, 'I hate Texas. I just do. I do. I hate Texas. Any other overrated state in football I pretty much hate. That's how I feel about it. Overrated. Overrated. Overrated.'  After an exhaustive search, I've located Sheldon's (NSFW) mother and now I see where he gets it from." Pick: Texas

Machine - It seems that not everybody is a believer in the Longhorns just yet, as The Machine sees Mizzou squeaking by in this one 23-21. Pick Missouri

Georgia (-13 1/2) vs. Auburn - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - I'm really not all that confident in this pick, but for some reason I see Georgia announcing to the world that it is by far the team to beat in the SEC East this season and with last week's game against New Mexico State, it kind of served as a scrimmage/bye week to prepare for Auburn. Pick: Georgia

Woman - "Erase last week's cupcake romp and over the past month the Bulldogs have beaten Florida by a meager 4, Vanderbilt by 5 and Tennessee by 8.  Meanwhile, Auburn's three season losses have been against Arkansas, Clemson and LSU.  Thinking the oddsmakers might have undervalued the Tigers." Pick: Auburn

Machine - The Machine sees Georgia taking a firm grasp of the top place in the SEC East this week. It already picked South Carolina to lose, and now it has Georgia beating Auburn 34-21, though the Tigers do cover. Pick: Auburn

Kansas State vs. Texas A&M (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Seriously? What in the world does Kansas State have to do to finally start getting some respect from gamblers? I mean, it nearly beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week and Texas A&M has spent the entire season failing to reach expectations. Pick: Kansas State

Woman - "I had high hopes for Kansas State.  So... much... hope.  Now this team just makes me sad. Thank goodness for Hope E. Young, Board Certified Music Therapist. Her musical healing (which really gets going at around minute 3:25) combined with four or five Rumple Minze jello shots, helps me travel through this world of woe, take the spread and get on with my day." Pick: Kansas State

Machine - The Machine continues its existence blissfully unaware of what Texas A&M has done this season and sees the Aggies rolling in this game, 49-17. Pick: Texas A&M

Boise State (-15 1/2) vs. TCU - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - This matchup seemed a lot more appealing before the season started than it does now, as TCU may be a good team, but it's not the same team we've seen the last few years. So with Kellen Moore still being Kellen Moore and Bronco Stadium still being impossible for road teams to solve, I have to go with the Broncos. Pick: Boise State

Woman - "Since their season-opening win over Georgia, I have not watched a minute of Boise State football. Apparently, they've been doing pretty well, beating every team they've played by an average of 27 points. Okay, then." Pick: Boise State

Machine - Nobody plays football on the blue turf and survives! Boise State wins 41-24. Pick: Boise State

USC (-13 1/2) vs. Washington - Saturday, 3:45pm

Man - Washington is a nice story this year and Steve Sarkisian has the Huskies on the right track, but this is still a team that has lost to every ranked team it's faced. Plus, when facing the elite of the Pac-12 (Oregon and Stanford) it's been beaten pretty soundly. USC isn't quite elite, yet, but it's still pretty good and it's at home. Pick: USC

Woman - "Here's how a husky makes a baby stop crying.  On Saturday we'll see how a husky makes a baby start crying." Pick: Washington

Machine - Hey, Steve Sarkisian may have been a coach at USC, but he wasn't on Lane Kiffin's staff, so Kiffin doesn't care. USC wins 49-20. Pick: USC

Stanford (-3 1/2) vs. Oregon - Saturday, 8pm

Man - Listen, Stanford doesn't just win every week, it covers the spread every week. Until that trend changes I'm not picking against the Cardinal. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Enjoy this dramatic interpretation of Andrew Luck leaving his mark at Stanford and securing home field advantage for the Pac 12 championship. Oh yeah, and getting his Heisman. (NBA fans who hear the score of this one might wonder if the strike is over.)" Pick: Stanford

Machine - Machine recognize Machine. Stanford wins 42-35. Pick: Stanford

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Woman 61-44 (6-4)
2. Man 58-47 (3-7)
3. Machine 56-49 (4-6)

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:19 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Free Bruce Podcast, Week 11: Steve Sarkisian

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In this edition of the Free Bruce Podcast, CBSSports.com senior writer Bruce Feldman and Bryan Fischer break down all the Week 10 developments including LSU-Alabama, Arkansas after their top-10 win vs. South Carolina, the Penn State scandal, and more.

That's before Bruce and Bryan welcome the podcats's special guest for this week: Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian, joining them to talk rebuilding the Huskie program, Andrew Luck vs. Matt Barkley, what he's learned as a head coach, and more.

To listen, click below, download the mp3, or pop the player out in a new window.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.



Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Keys to the game: Oregon at Stanford

Posted by Bryan Fischer

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks will have to use their biggest advantage on both sides of the ball, speed, over the much more physical Cardinal team if they're going to come out of Palo Alto with a victory. The offense is close to being healthy with LaMichael James looking like his old self against Washington last week despite a bulky pad over his injured elbow. Unlike some teams, Oregon can run effectively between the tackles and then bounce it outside but only if the offensive line does a good job with the Stanford front four. It will be a test for the secondary against Andrew Luck and his big targets at tight end but something defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti adjusted to last year.

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: The Cardinal are a bit banged up but will receive a big boost with the return of starting safety Delano Howell, who will be key in providing support against both the passing and the running game. Oregon is 62nd in the country in total defense and Stanford should be able to move the ball effectively with running back Stepfan Taylor and the best player in college football in Luck. This game looks like it will turn into an old Pac-10 shootout so getting a key defensive stop or making a big play in special teams will likely be a determining factor in Stanford picking up a win. 

X-FACTOR: Battle in the trenches. Against Washington last week, Oregon's front seven did a great job of blitzing and getting penetration to shut down running lanes and pressure the quarterback. They'll face a stiffer test this week against one of the best offensive lines in college football, which has given up the fewest sacks in the country. On the other side, if Stanford's defensive line can make quarterback Darron Thomas uncomfortable, they could force him into making mistakes.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 10




Posted by Bryan Fischer


Well then.

A little over halfway through Saturday's showdown in Tuscaloosa it became clear, this wasn't the game of the century it had been built up to be. While that superlatives will be saved for another big game down the road, what transpired at Bryant-Denny Stadium was something else: the slugfest of the century.

For some, the defense being played was marvelous. Morris Claiborne solidified himself as one of the top corners in the country with an interception and Eric Reid showed what it takes to win a game of this magnitude by wrestling for, and eventually coming down with, a pick near the goal line after the Tide tried a trick play to tight end Michael Williams.

The defense was so good on both sides that the MVP in a losing effort for Alabama had to be the offensive line, which was great at handling the pressure from LSU's front for four quarters - they seemed to fall apart a little in overtime.

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis, a longtime assistant in the SEC, said after the game that this was "the most physical, hard-fought game he's ever been involved with."

With a fifth of the televisions in use on Saturday tuned to CBS for the game, I was quite surprised at how many lambasted the game afterward. Sure, there was a lack of crossing the goal line and way too many field goals for most people but that was the result of the defenses being so good. Both teams were able to move the ball, the defenses just tightened once they moved closer to the red zone.

As my colleague Tom Fornelli said to me, this game was all about deciding what fans liked college football and what fans just like touchdowns. Some compared it to a great pitchers duel in baseball but that would be unfair. The beauty of playing defense might have been lost by some but the battles in the trenches and in the secondary said Saturday was a masterpiece.

The Crimson Tide finished with 295 yards, the Tigers ended up winning with just 239. Alabama came into the game 23rd in the country in offense at 457 yards/game and had the best running back in the country in Trent Richardson. Despite not moving the ball well on offense, LSU came in 15th in scoring offense. That's just how good both teams were on the side of the ball - defense - that ultimately decided the game.

It would be interesting to see how much Miles' strategy would have changed had Alabama hit just one of their three missed field goals. Would we have seen one of his famous trick plays? I wouldn't exactly say 'The Hat' Les Miles out-coached Nick Saban since both adjusted conservatively but there's no question that Miles made decisions more inline with how the game was going, such as running Jordan Jefferson more than what the game plan likely called for.

Despite all the 'what ifs' that will be dissected over the coming days (and weeks and months and years), we're left with just one fact: LSU was better than Alabama Saturday night. If they were to play again for the BCS championship, what happened between the two teams would invalidate the very crutch - every week is a playoff - BCS supporters use to support their cartel of a system. If we just saw a playoff game, the Tide need to be thinking about a trip to a bowl game and not the title game.

In post game interviews, Miles was inviting of a rematch - perhaps knowing that knocking off Saban and the Tide another time on their way to picking of the crystal football would mean this LSU team could be considered among the greatest to play the game. The players too, were living in the moment and inviting LSU-Alabama II in New Orleans.

"That game should've been on pay-per-view," Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery said. "I think the world wants a rematch, honestly. It would be lovely to play such a great team out there again."

My colleague Bruce Feldman, who was in Tuscaloosa, discussed the rematch issue in The Big Picture, as did BCS guru Jerry Palm.

As we sit here on week 10 trying to digest what happened on Saturday, it good to lay down what we do know in the race for the national title.

1. There is A LOT of football remaining. LSU plays a top 10 team in Arkansas to end the season as well as the SEC championship game in Atlanta. Alabama has the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Oklahoma State ends with Bedlam against Oklahoma. Stanford plays Oregon and Boise State takes on TCU this week. We don't have a great system in the BCS but it was it is so "the race" is going to chance course several times between now and mid-December.

2. If Stanford beats Oregon, they'll move past Alabama in the BCS standings. If Oklahoma State wins out, they'll play in the championship game. Boise State needs help in droves.

3. Though Houston has moved as high as 11th in the rankings but are still a long shot at playing in a BCS bowl because Boise State is the highest ranked non-AQ school. It's doubtful the Bowls would pick the Cougars as an at-large team with fan bases such as Oklahoma likely qualifying.

4. The bowl tie-ins are ACC-Orange Bowl, Big Ten/Pac-12-Rose Bowl, Big 12-Fiesta Bowl, SEC-Sugar Bowl. The Bowl that loses the #1 team will have first pick of the replacements, followed by the bowl that loses the #2 team. The order after that is Fiesta, Sugar, Orange. There's a chance we could see some juicy match ups as a result (Oklahoma-Boise State rematch anyone?).

5. Want pure chaos? Arkansas beats LSU and Georgia pulls off an upset in Atlanta, forcing Alabama or LSU to miss a BCS game. Oregon beats Stanford, only to lose to USC and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State to leave just Boise State and Houston as the lone undefeated teams. It's all unlikely but stranger things have happened. It also might be the only chance the men from the blue turf have to play for a title in New Orleans.

6. The game of the century did not occur last Saturday in Tuscaloosa but it was still a fantastic regular season game. A rematch would devalue the game, forcing LSU to beat Alabama twice for a national title while the Tide only needs to win once (in New Orleans). If we could have best two out of three, that'd be great but we're stuck with our current predicament.  

Buckle up and get ready, it's going to a fun and bumpy road to New Orleans.

Stat of the week

To say the Big 12, and the state of Kansas in particular, is not very good at defense might be an understatement. To say they like offense in the state of Oklahoma, likewise, might be an understatement. Consider this: of the 10 best games rushing this season (net yards gained), three have come against a Big 12 team. Strip out non-BCS opponents and it becomes three of the top five, including Kansas giving up the most a game this season on the ground when Georgia Tech rushed for 604 yards. Of the top 10 passing games (net yards gained), four of the top 10 have come against a Big 12 defense, including four of the top five. Kansas and Kansas State find themselves on the two lists a grand total of five times, one reason why the Jayhawks are dead last in defense.

Thanks to playing the Oklahoma schools in back-to-back weeks, Kansas State has dropped from 29th in total defense to 78th. Half of the Big 12 is in the top 10 in the country in total offense and Texas Tech is 11th. Needless to say, it's not fun being a defensive coordinator in the conference.

Stats of the week

- Stanford remains perfect in the red zone this season, getting points out of all 52 trips. They've scored a touchdown all but 11 times and there's only one team that has been inside the 20 more often (Oklahoma State). LSU is second in red zone efficiency, scoring on 41 of 42 trips. The Cardinal are also third in the country in red zone defense, allowing a score 16 times out of 24 attempts.

- Oklahoma is tied with Stanford for fewest sacks given up with just four all year. Of course, the Sooners have dropped back 128 more times.

- The top three active career leaders for rushing touchdowns are all juniors.  Temple's Bernard Pierce has 45, Oregon's LaMichael James has 44 and Wisconsin's Montee Ball has 43. The NCAA FBS record is 73.

- Both Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis and Idaho kicker Trey Farquhar hit 55-yard field goals right before halftime this week, which tie for the second longest of the season.

- Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning's pass to Torieal Gibson resulted in a 94 yard touchdown against Eastern Michigan, the longest pass play of the year. There have been four runs longer than that this season.

- Matt Barkley passed for a school-record six touchdowns in his game against Colorado on Friday. He also moved into 10th on the FBS active career list for touchdowns thrown with 69.

- Alabama still has yet to trail this season in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th quarter. LSU has trailed at the end of just two quarters all year.

- Since building a 31-7 lead on Oklahoma in the 3rd quarter, Texas Tech has been outscored 124-37.

- This was the first time Texas has rushed for five touchdowns in back-to-back games since 2005.

- Weird quirk from Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, Washington's tight ends had three catches for -5 yards and a touchdown against Oregon.

Yard-by-yard

- It didn't have the hype but the most thrilling game Saturday night was in Stillwater. Brandon Weeden threw a school-record 502 yards and had an answer for every late Kansas State score to escape with a 52-45 win. The defense, who seems to take shots from just about everybody in the game and outside it, held on with a goal line stand to prevent the tying score. Kansas State has taken some lumps in back-to-back weeks by stopping three straight passes with seconds left on the clock. It will get overshadowed given the loss but you have to be impressed with the play of KSU quarterback Collin Klein this season. He's been solid in the passing game and is as tough of a runner as you'll find at the position.  

- Hats off to Rick Neuheisel and UCLA for fighting and clawing their way (as some Bruins said) to an upset of Arizona State at the Rose Bowl to, gasp, control their own fate in the Pac-12 South. Thanks to a "here's what we're made of" five minute drive to score a go ahead touchdown, it almost looked like the Bruins defense were going to allow the Sun Devils to get a decent field goal shot off. Alex Garoutte's 46-yarder fell short though and an exuberant sideline of powder blues jumped for joy. A lot of people have counted Neuheisel out, especially after the debacle at Arizona, but he still put his team in a position to win and they finally seized it. The loss was the latest in a line of head scratchers for Dennis Erickson, who seems to lose this type of game every year at ASU. Without a decent South team this year, it's looking very much like a two team league.

- There was another top 10 match up in the SEC that seemed to be the third wheel Saturday night as Arkansas beat South Carolina 44-28. It was surprising to see the Razorbacks put together a solid first half, something they really hadn't done against a decent opponent this season, before pulling away late thanks in part to special teams and  defense. South Carolina had just 49 yards heading into the locker room but Connor Shaw led a late comeback in the third quarter until being knocked out with a concussion. The Gamecocks have a good defense and for Bobby Petrino's squad to hang 44 on them is certainly a statement that you can't forget about the Hogs at the end of the season when they play LSU.

- After dropping a game to lowly Minnesota, hardly anybody but the most hopeful Hawkeye faithful gave Iowa a chance against Michigan. Yet the defense was vintage, bottling up Denard Robinson all day, and Marcus Coker looked like a man on a mission while rushing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The Wolverines had a chance to force overtime from the 3-yard line but four straight passes couldn't be snagged and Iowa ran off the field in celebration. "They showed a lot of heart," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. Given who they lost to the previous week, it's difficult to tell what Iowa football is this season outside of being a big of Jekyll and Hyde. For Brady Hoke and Michigan, it appears the tougher schedule and move to a pro-style offense is finally catching up. The difference between passing in Rich Rodriguez' system and passing in Al Borges' cannot be understated. Robinson has been conditioned with certain timing for years and now is being asked to change it to match the current system. If you're looking for the reason why the junior is having problems (53% passing, 13-12 TD-INT ratio this season), look no further than a round (quarterback) being in a square hole (system).

- Bryan Harsin came into Austin with designs of transforming Texas' offense and it appears he is doing so, surprisingly, on the ground. In the past two seasons the Longhorns had just five games where they rushed for more than 200 yards; Saturday's win over Texas Tech was the fifth time they topped the mark this season. In a 52-20 win, Texas' 439 yards rushing against Texas Tech were the 4th-most against a BCS opponent this season. They've racked up 880 yards on the ground the past two games against sub-par defenses but it will be interesting to see if they can keep running the ball consistently the rest of the season. Given their youth on both sides of the ball - they've play 18 true freshmen - it's a good bet that they'll try and keep it up. Either way, there's a new coordinator and a new way of doing business on the 40 acres.

- Charlie Strong has one of the youngest teams in the Big East but they're rounding into form and it paid off with a huge upset of West Virginia that was extra personal given that the school was largely seen to be invited by the Big 12 over Louisville. Frosh QB Teddy Bridgewater threw a touchdown and special teams came up huge with a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. It was a complete and satisfying victory for the Cardinals. "I was not surprised at all to come into this venue and for us to go and play well," said Strong. "We knew we had to play well. We didn't come here to lose or to play it tight. We came in here to win." After the win, Strong ended up crowd surfing among his players in the locker room and the team, taking an added jab at the loser, sang John Denver's "Country Roads."

- The upset of the week comes courtesy of an NU on NU crime. With designs of making it to Indianapolis for the title game, Nebraska was upset by Northwestern despite Dan Persa standing on the sidelines. The Wildcats have not been great this season but they just kept coming through on defense, hanging on 28-25 for their first top 10 win in some time. "A great program win for us," head coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "To come on the road and put together our most complete game of the year. ... Not perfect. Not a work of art. There are some things we can correct."

- Not sure anybody has raised his NFL stock more than USC quarterback Matt Barkley? He played well in his showdown against Andrew Luck and then followed it up with a school-record six touchdown passes against Colorado despite a few drops from his wide outs. No, the Buffs aren't that good but thanks in large part to the through and through California kid Barkley, USC is a solid top 20 team. The defense is still the link week but outside of a trip to Eugene, it's likely they'll win out - especially if they can get healthier. Colorado, meanwhile, is so bad they're a double-digit favorite at home to a 2-7 team that lost their head coach.

- Small story that went way under the radar Saturday but kudos for Paul Pasqualoni for knocking off Syracuse to give UConn their fifth straight victory in the series. It meant a little more for Pasqualoni than others, who was head coach of the Orange for 14 years before being fired after winning four Big East titles and nine bowl trips. The Huskies defense played a big part, forcing several turnovers and holding despite the offense's own issues. Despite much talent at all, Pasqualoni has kept hopes alive for another winning season in Storrs.

- Kellen Moore is now 46-2 as a starter, more wins than any other FBS quarterback and an amazing accomplishment for a guy that no one outside of Idaho would even think is a major college quarterback if he was walking down the street. The Broncos saw a few different looks they weren't expecting from UNLV and led by just seven at halftime before pulling away late in the 4th quarter. As it stands now, Moore has an impressive 128 touchdowns against just 24 interceptions.

- As good of a slate as this week was, it was definitely a week filled with MACtion. Tuesday's Toledo-Northern Illinois game was 7-on-7 in pads it seemed like, with NIU prevailing in an entertaining 63-60 win that included 1,121 total yards (and back-to-back kick returns by the Huskies' Tommylee Lewis (great name) to open the game). One of the most underrated players in the country, Toledo's Eric Page also caught five touchdowns and had to be screaming when coach Tim Beckham didn't call any of his timeouts as NIU drove for the game winning touchdown pass. Then there was Ohio's 35-31 win over Temple to take control of the MAC East after a touchdown to win with less than two minutes on the clock. Thursday's Miami of Ohio romp over Akron wasn't anything to write home about but Central Michigan missed a final play field goal from 28 yards out to allow Kent State to win on Friday. Finally, on Saturday, Steven Schott hit a 44-yard field goal to put Ball State ahead of Eastern Michigan 33-31 with seconds left on the clock. MACtion indeed.

- Remarkable stat from Bruce Feldman, Lamar Miller became Miami's first 1,000-yard back since 2002 (Willis McGahee), a stretch of five different offensive coordinators. Although the 5-4 Hurricanes has dealt with a lot on and off the field, you have to give credit to OC Jedd Fisch and Al Golden. Much maligned quarterback Jacory Harris has been playing as well as he has at any point in his career and probably better than that. The senior is remarkably sixth in the country in passing efficiency, right behind Andrew Luck, with an impressive 18-4 touchdown-interception ratio. Miami has been in every game they've played with the four losses coming by 22 points. Saturday's 49-14 thrashing of Duke put them one win away from bowl eligibility ahead of this week's rivalry game at Florida State.

- It's always fun to catch the late night WAC games involving Hawaii, after a long day of watching college football it always seems to be an interesting way to cap it off. Utah State managed to beat the Warriors 35-31 thanks to a last minute drive. Hilariously, one of the keys to the game that the third-rate announcers brought up at the end was the late Andy Rooney (to play, they said, 60 minutes). Can't make that up.

Tweet of the week

"So Fox Sports MW is electing to show California HS football instead of Kansas-Iowa State."

- Bill Connelly, writer for SB Nation and Football Outsiders.

Fisch's Finest

Note: Last week was the fourth in a row that my 10th ranked team lost (sorry Nebraska fans), perhaps that will give Georgia Tech some hope on Thursday at home.

1. LSU

2. Oklahoma State

3. Stanford

4. Alabama

5. Boise State

6. Oklahoma

7. Oregon

8. Arkansas

9. Clemson

10. Virginia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Senior writer Dennis Dodd and I will be in Palo Alto to catch the Pac-12 showdown between Oregon and Stanford. Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will be between the hedges to catch Auburn at Georgia. Brett McMurphy will head to State College to see Nebraska at Penn State.

Leaning this way

TCU at Boise State

Before the season, people were circling this game as perhaps the Broncos toughest test. There was the added issue of the game being moved by the Mountain West from Ft. Worth to Boise as a parting gift for the Horned Frogs. At 7-2 with issues on both sides of the ball, TCU is solid this season but it's not the team we've seen the past couple of years. Boise State, meanwhile, has gotten off to some slow starts and will still need to take care of business. This could be closer than most people think but expect the home team to come out victoriously.

Auburn at Georgia

The Bulldogs put up an impressive 42 points in one quarter against the lowly New Mexico State Aggies but the competition will pick up a bit this week with Auburn rolling into town. Aaron Murray continues to come along at quarterback and Georgia should be at full strength after dealing with a few suspensions. It will be tough for Auburn to pull of the upset in this one as Georgia continues their march for Atlanta.

Oregon at Stanford

The Game of the Century, West of the Rockies Edition can be found in Palo Alto, with two top-six ranked teams squaring off. Stanford gave Oregon a scare last year before faltering in the second half and, given the injuries on both sides of the ball, it wouldn't be shocking to see the same thing happen again this year. The Ducks aren't quite as sharp as they were last season but they're capable of knocking off Andrew Luck and company.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Aaron Murray, ACC, Akron, Al Borges, Al Golden, Alabama, Alex Garoutte, Andrew Luck, Andy Rooney, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Auburn, Ball State, Ball State, BCS, Bedlam, Bernard Pierce, Big 12, Big Ten, bill Connelly, Bob Condotta, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Brady Hoke, Brandon Weeden, Brett McMurphy, Bruce Feldman, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Caleb Sturgis, Central Michigan, Charlie Strong, Clemson, Collin Klein, Colorado, Connor Shaw, Dan Persa, Denard Robinson, Dennis Dodd, Dennis Erickson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Eric Page, Eric Reid, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Houston, Idaho, Iowa, Iron Bowl, Jacory Harris, Jedd Fisch, Jerry Palm, John Chavis, John Denver, Kansas, Kansas State, Keith Wenning, Kellen Moore, Kent State, Kirk Ferentz, Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, Les Miles, Louisville, LSU, Marcus Coker, Matt Barkley, Miami, Miami of Ohio, Michael Williams, Michigan, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, Mountain West, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Pasqualoni, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Rose Bowl, Sam Montgomery, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Steven Schott, Sugar Bowl, Surveying the Field, Syracuse, TCU, Teddy Bridgewater, Temple, Texas, Texas Tech, Tim Beckham, Toledo, Tom Fornelli, Tommylee Lewis, Tony Barnhart, Torieal Gibson, Trent Richardson, Trey Farquhar, UCLA, UConn, UNLV, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, West Virginia, Willis McGahee, Wisconsin
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com