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Tag:Auburn
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 1:58 pm
 

Surveying the Field: End of the season edition



Posted by Bryan Fischer


It's hard to believe, but the college football regular season is over.

Over.

If the finality hasn't hit you, it's ok. Hold on to it, savor it, try not to let it go.

Though things off the field in the sport - realignment, arrests, suspensions, infractions and on and on - may never have been worse, the product on the field was pretty good. There were hail mary's and punt returns, one-handed catches and devastating sacks. There was a Honey Badger, All Russell Wilson Everything and some epic comebacks.

With that in mind, in the final Surveying the Field of 2011, a look back at just about every bowl team and a few lines about them looking forward.

National Championship Game

Looking back: It wasn't pretty at times but the Tigers rolled to the national title game in impressive fashion, dispatching Pac-12 champion Oregon by 13 at a neutral site to open the season, Big East champion West Virginia by 26 on the road, beat their title game foe Alabama at home and rolled over SEC East winner Georgia by 32 in what amounted to their home crowd. Tyrann Mathieu was the ball-hawking fire starter for the team but, gasp, the best player might have been punter Brad Wing who was crucial in establishing good field position every time.

Looking ahead: How much is there left to prove? The rematch in New Orleans can be Les Miles chance to end any doubt as to who was far and away the best team in 2011 by turning the national championship game into a coronation with a convincing win. Lose and an AP National Title likely awaits. The Tigers are in a can't lose situation.

Looking back: Before the season, many in Tuscaloosa said this could be Nick Saban's best defense. It's hard to argue if you look at the numbers, first in rush, pass, total and scoring defense. The most points they gave up the entire year was 21. The offense wasn't too shabby either, not with Heisman candidate Trent Richardson delivering electrifying runs.

Looking ahead: LSU came into their house and won, now it's time for them to do the same for the crystal ball. They might not have won their division but they can win the national title.

Orange Bowl

Looking back: Early on, it seemed like they were going to struggle. A close win against Wofford? Then it seemed like Sammy Watkins started to heat up and the Tigers moved to 8-0 and people were talking titles. But there was also talk of Clemson being Clemson - and it happened at Georgia Tech. And again at N.C. State. And at South Carolina. But the slide ended in Charlotte with another win over Virginia Tech to win the first ACC title since 1991.

Looking ahead: Dabo Swinney said it best after winning the conference championships, saying he's taking his, "Clemson talents to South Beach." The defense shut down the Hokies once again but they are taking a much bigger step up facing Dana Holgorsen with a month to prepare.

Looking back: A 9-3 season, Big East title and BCS bowl berth is not to shabby debut for Dana Holgorsen as a head coach. The offense was as advertised, jumping from 67th last year to 17th at 459.6 yards per game. They were blown out against LSU thanks to turnovers and that was a theme in their losses. The Mountaineers won several close games and that could pay off down the road.

Looking ahead: Given how mediocre the conference was, perhaps this BCS bowl berth should count for the Big 12, the league the school is departing for in 2012. Nothing would be better than for athletic director Oliver Luck to say thanks for the memories like a trophy full of oranges (which he might throw at the Big East offices).

Sugar Bowl

Looking back: They were blitzed at their rival Michigan State and somehow lost to Iowa but the season was certainly a successful inaugural campaign for Brady 'Michigan Man' Hoke. Most of the credit should go to defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who has turned around a unit that couldn't tackle to one that finished 7th in the country in total defense. Denard Robinson struggled at times to adapt to a new offense but still manage to deliver thrills such as one of the craziest endings of the year against Notre Dame. It paled in comparison to the final few snaps at the Big House however, as the Wolverines finally beat rival Ohio State.

Looking ahead: Sure this group might be mostly Rich Rodriguez' players but Hoke has taken them to the next level with an easy schedule and tough-love coaching. Winning their first BCS game would send a message to the rest of the country that the program was indeed back.

Looking back: Hokies fans will get upset but it seems pretty accurate to say the team was the least deserving of the at-large selections given their lackluster group of wins (not one BCS team on the non-conference slate, lost to Clemson by a combined margin of 61-13). There were positives on offense, such as Logan Thomas taking over during stretches with his arm or his legs and David Wilson was a tackle-breaking machine. The defense was at normal high standards under Bud Foster.

Looking ahead: Don't belong? Ok, so prove it, it's that easy. Winning the game after last year's bowl performance will also do wonders for Frank Beamer, who enters as the winningest active head coach.

Fiesta Bowl

Looking back: Oh what could have been, Oklahoma State was so close to playing for a national title and would have been headed to New Orleans had it not been for the upset-minded Iowa State team on the road in double overtime. The offense was the second best in the country through the air and elder statesman Brandon Weeden made things click with ease. For all the knocks they were given, the defense was actually impressive when you consider they forced 42 turnovers and allowed a lot of their points and yards when the starters were on the sidelines.

Looking ahead: While Boone Pickens might be upset and threatening to investigate the BCS with his piles of money, the Cowboys can't allow their disappointment to ruin the best season in school history with a Fiesta Bowl loss.

Looking back: It's not often you mention Stanford as a BCS contender but here we are, back-to-back games thanks to Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and despite having a first-time head coach taking over in David Shaw. Though they battled injuries all season long both sides of the ball turned in performances that were fitting of a top five team. The triple overtime thriller against USC might have been the highlight (more points scored against the Trojans than any other team) but a turnover-filled day at home against Oregon was the low-light that prevented them from the conference title. Still it was one of the most impressive seasons in school history.

Looking ahead: No better way for Luck to end his career than a victory against what everybody considers one of the three best teams in the country. In doing so, they'll help the Pac-12's reputation get off to a great start in the league's first year with 12 teams.

Rose Bowl

Looking back: Heisman campaigns were abound in this backfield with the ever efficient Russell Wilson running things at quarterback and Montee Ball finding the end zone more than entire teams did in the regular season. If the defense could have just defended hail mary's better we'd be talking about the national title game for the Badgers but ending up in the granddaddy of them all with a shot to win is the best consolation prize around.

Looking ahead: Despite the two losses on their record, this could still go down as one of the most dominant teams in Wisconsin history with a Rose Bowl win.

Looking back: Their third straight conference title might have been one of the sweetest in school history given the way the season went. The opener was tough as they failed to beat an SEC team and largely fumbled things away. Oregon did what Oregon typically has done under Chip Kelly in conference except for one night at home against USC. Things got a little bit better when the Ducks hoisted the first ever Pac-12 championship up at Autzen Stadium but the program's standards are now so high that the season is sort of considered a disappointment.

Looking ahead: If the program wants to its cement status as one of the game's elite than they're going to have to win the Rose Bowl no if's and's, or but's about it. That it would be the school's second ever win (and first since 1917) would also cement the squad as one of the best in Oregon history.

GoDaddy.com Bowl

Looking back: The MAC champions had a thrilling come-from-behind win to capture the league title thanks in large part to quarterback Chandler Harnish. Northern Illinois also ran off eight straight wins after a narrow loss to Central Michigan earlier in the year.

Looking forward: There was nothing like mid-week MACtion this year and it's up for the Huskies to end the season on a high note.


Looking back: Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze's up-tempo offense produced the school's first winning season since 1995 and a host of records. Quarterback Ryan Aplin is 11th in total offense and was a dual-threat that couldn't be stopped during Sun Belt play. Given that their only two losses were to BCS foes (including a closer than expected loss to BCS-bound Virginia Tech), this is easily the most successful year in the program's history.

Looking forward: Though Freeze will depart for Ole Miss, there will be plenty of players around that can still beat NIU.

BBVA Compass Bowl

Looking back: Things started on the wrong foot in the opener but running back Zach Line was the big star to emerge for SMU as they pulled together a seven win season. The Mustangs had a five game winning streak before coming back to reality later in the year and were actually led by a solid defensive unit.

Looking ahead: Head coach June Jones might be moving on to greener pastures but after 25 years of no bowls, the school's third straight postseason trip is something to cherish.

Looking back: It was an up and down debut season for new head coach Todd Graham as Pitt never could find consistency. They were never blown out, losing four games by 11 points, but couldn't put together back-to-back wins outside of the first two games against lackluster teams.

Looking ahead: The Panthers return to Birmingham for the second straight year trying to give Graham and staff, some of whom are headed to Arizona, momentum heading into the offseason.

Cotton Bowl

Looking back: One of Bill Snyder's best coaching jobs in a career full of them, Kansas State was left out of a BCS bowl but found their way into a de facto one after a 10 win season - the highest win total since 2003. The Wildcats started 7-0 before dropping two straight to the Oklahoma schools before puling things together. Quarterback Collin Klein leads the team in both passing and rushing and has scored an impressive 26 touchdowns. It may not have been the prettiest team in the country but they found every which way to win.

Looking ahead: The team could tie the school-record for wins in a season, a remarkable accomplishment considering they were picked 8th in the preseason.

Looking back: Though they won't be going to the BCS, they can still hang their hats on the fact that their only losses came on the road to the teams ranked first and second. The Razorbacks explosive offense led behind quarterback Tyler Wilson is one reason for their success even if he's been beaten up behind his offensive line.

Looking ahead: They've played in this building before and had a furious comeback against Texas A&M so the stage shouldn't be an issue for the Hogs. They're ranked sixth and could turn in the best season under Bobby Petrino with a win.

Outback Bowl

Looking back: Michigan State fell short of a Big Ten championship but still put together a successful season that included wins over rival Michigan and a thrilling hail mary to beat Wisconsin. The offense is solid with Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield but the defense is the reason for the success this year. The Spartans not only captured a 10-win season but also won the first ever Legends division title.

Looking ahead: MSU will have to play through the disappointment of their tough championship game loss and refocus for a bowl game. They remember all too well what happened last year so coming out with a win is imperative as the impressive senior group departs.

Looking back: The season started with Mark Richt on the hot seat and two losses to top teams that turned the pressure up a notch. Georgia responded, running off 10 straight thanks to the ease of the schedule and the toughness of their defense. Linebacker Jarvis Jones was a star, leading the SEC in sacks, as the Bulldogs found their way back to Atlanta by winning the East. The lack of depth hurt at times but Aaron Murray was a solid young quarterback and Isaiah Crowell lived up to his billing at running back.

Looking ahead: The Dawgs are playing in January and need a big win to end the year on a high note and make everybody forget about last year.

Gator Bowl

Looking back: A once promising season started to unravel in the offseason, with something negative happening to the program seemingly every month since it became known about the "Buckeye Five." Jim Tressel was out and Luke Fickell was suddenly thrust into the spotlight at head coach. The defense was good but the offense was pretty bad, especially the passing game. Freshman Braxton Miller was a good spark and showed flashes of being something special.

Looking ahead: The Urban Meyer Bowl is an understandable storyline but the Buckeyes won't have their opponent's former head coach on the sidelines coaching them. Showing him what he has to work with will be big for the program however.

Looking back: It was a terrible season by the lofty standards in Gainesville but more than that, it just wasn't fun to watch Florida's offense. John Brantley figured to be a good fit in Charlie Weis' system but wasn't and got hurt. It was tough to produce first downs much less big plays and the defense, though solid, didn't seem to make the stops needed to get some wins. The Gators finished below .500 in the conference, won only three games versus BCS schools and lost four straight to in the middle of a forgettable season.

Looking ahead: The bumps and bruises of the year can all be erased against Ohio State and  a small measure of revenge against their former head coach who left just a year ago.

Capital One Bowl

Looking back: A solid first effort in the Big Ten for Nebraska, which ended with nine wins but seemed to have issues being consistent. Quarterback Taylor Martinez didn't make the leap you'd expect this year and the defense wasn't as impressive as many thought they would be. Injuries played a part but don't explain losses to teams like Northwestern at home or blowouts to Wisconsin and Michigan.

Looking ahead: A rare match up against an SEC team for the Cornhuskers, a win would give them a 10 win season for the third straight year and allow them to count their Big Ten money at home in a much happier mood.

Looking back: There are wild rides and there's South Carolina under the Old Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. They looked a little shaky early but overcame adversity by managing a 10-2 season despite losing their starting quarterback and running back to suspension and injury, respectively. They almost won the division but, in retrospect, perhaps it was better that they didn't face LSU this year.

Looking ahead: The Gamecocks are looking to post their first 11 win season in more than 100 years and end a three-bowl losing streak by riding the momentum of beating rival Clemson at the end of the year.

TicketCity Bowl

Looking back: It looked like it was going to be a surprisingly good season before the Jerry Sandusky scandal showed the world the skeletons locked in Penn State's closets. Joe Paterno is out and the issues facing the program are still very much ongoing.

Looking ahead: Nittany Lions players are not happy to have fallen this far in the bowl pecking order but they're still going to need to show up if they want a 10th win and something positive to think about in the offseason.

Looking back: Oh what could have been. The dream season led by record-setting quarterback Case Keenum ended in a thud in the Conference USA championship game at home. The offense was the focal point with a slew of weapons at wide out and running back but there's no doubt that last game zapped all the positive things gong for a program that almost made the BCS.

Looking ahead: Kevin Sumlin might be at another school by the time the Cougars play but Keenum and the senior class can still go out on top by beating a marquee opponent and posting one of the best year's in school history.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Looking back: It was a successful turnaround for Mike London that had Virginia on the cusp of playing for the ACC title after several upsets along the way. Alas, a loss to the rival Hokies ended that but things are looking up in Charlottesville based on the way the team played week-in and week-out.

Looking ahead: Playing in their first bowl since 2007, the team is hungry to end the year with nine wins and plenty of positive vibes.

Looking back: Earlier this year Auburn was holding up a crystal ball. After a ton of losses on both sides of the ball, the Tigers took their lumps and struggled on offense and defense. The team was ran over in the Iron Bowl and ended the year on a sour note after surprising many with a win over South Carolina and bouncing around the top 25.

Looking ahead: Back to back lopsided losses in the final two SEC games will be a motivating factor for a young team that is looking to move back into contention for a West title next year.

Liberty Bowl

Looking back: Cincinnati surprised many with six straight wins in the middle of the season and appeared to be on their way to a BCS bowl until quarterback Zach Collaros got hurt.

Looking ahead: The Bearcats have a chance at 10 wins and are playing in a bowl after missing one last season.

Looking back: James Franklin had one of the best coaching jobs in the country by taking a team that had gone 4-20 over the past to years to the school's fifth ever bowl game.

Looking ahead: It's all about building up the momentum for the Commodores under Franklin, who just signed a nice new contract. The senior class will be the only one in school history to play in two bowl and want to make sure they are also the first two win two.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Looking back: UCLA represented the Pac-12 South in the championship game thanks to crosstown rival USC's ineligibility but back-to-back bad losses left the Bruins with some lumps on the field and no head coach off it. There were some bright spots in Rick Neuheisel's final season but some bad losses as both sides of the ball struggled.

Looking ahead: The Interim Head Coach Bowl is all about history for UCLA, who received a waiver to play in the game at 6-7. The team is looking to avoid going 6-8 for the first time in NCAA history.

Looking back: A promising 6-0 start was soon undone by a stretch of six straight losses. Things reached a low point after losing to lowly Minnesota to end the season, sealing the fate of head coach Ron Zook after seven seasons.

Looking ahead: Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will lead the program and no doubt wants to leave a good impression, as do the Illini with the chance to go across the country and wind up with a winning season.

Sun Bowl

Looking back: Six straight wins to open the season had many thinking Georgia Tech as a team to watch out for with their option offense. Things hit a rough patch as they lost four of their next six but the Yellow Jackets still managed to upset Clemson and reach their 15th straight bowl game.

Looking ahead: This is the first time they'll head to El Paso and should be excited trying to reach the nine win plateau.

Looking back: It wasn't quite the way Utah wanted their first ever Pac-12 season to go but they still managed to pull out seven wins despite a rash of injuries. The defense wasn't bad at all but the offense struggled to score all year long.

Looking ahead: The Utes hope to enter the offseason healthy, wealthy and with a win.

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl

Looking back: It started out as one of the most promising seasons in recent memory for Texas A&M but ended with quite a thud. There was the move to the SEC that dominated much of the conversation about the Aggies before they turned second half collapses into their trademark. As a result of the fall from grace, head coach Mike Sherman found himself looking for a new job.

Looking ahead: The Aggies are close to home and need a win to provide some sort of momentum as they look to head into the nation's toughest conference.

Looking back: The year began with a Heisman push for quarterback Dan Persa in the form of billboards and barbels touting "Persa Strong." He wasn't however, failing to recover from an Achilles injury soon enough leading to struggles early on. Things got turned around and the Wildcats even pulled off a huge upset against Nebraska.

Looking ahead: The program hasn't won a bowl game since 1948 so ending that streak seems like a good stepping stone into 2012.

Insight Bowl

Looking back: Remember when Oklahoma was the top team in the country? Yeah… Injuries to the Sooners' leading receiver and running back set the offense back a few steps and the defense never lived up to expectations. The trashing in Bedlam was rock bottom for a team that started with aspirations of a national title.

Looking ahead: The team doesn't want to be here and has rarely seen a non-BCS bowl under Bob Stoops so finding motivation will be a challenge. A loss will punctuate one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory so the still-talented Sooners will want to get that important 10th win.

Looking back: Not sure there is a team that could be as average this year as Iowa was. The offense and defense were just about in the middle of FBS and alternated wins and losses down the stretch to finish a game above .500. A win over Michigan was a season highlight but other than that, there wasn't much to get excited about.

Looking ahead: The Hawkeyes are a young team so they could use the trip out West as a building block for 2012.

Music City Bowl

Looking back: Wake Forest finished .500 on the year but managed to pull off some surprises, such as a win against Florida State and some closer than expected losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. The offense and defense were fairly nondescript this season.

Looking ahead: A third place finish in the division was a better than expected result for the regular season but dropping below the .500 mark would diminish things.

Looking back: After last season's banner year, many expected Mississippi State to keep things going under Dan Mullen. Inconsistency on offense, quarterback in particular, was part of the reason why the Bulldogs finished just .500 and had just two wins over BCS teams.

Looking ahead: An Egg Bowl win and second consecutive bowl game are a good thing to note when Mullen hits the recruiting trail.

Pinstripe Bowl

Looking back: Iowa State's season didn't really come down to one game but it's pretty clear that the upset of Oklahoma State at home was the thing the Cyclones held their hats on. Beating Iowa earlier in the year in overtime also made it a successful season despite finishing 6-6.

Looking ahead: Paul Rhodes is building something up in Ames and a bowl win would be a nice capper to the season with such a young team.

Looking back: Hardly anybody gave Rutgers a chance to be more than average this year but they rode a strong defense to an 8-4 year. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was the bright spot, toping 1,110 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.

Looking ahead: Some said that Greg Schiano was on the hot seat but he's moved off of it and can firmly put the talk to bed with a ninth win.

Armed Forces Bowl

Looking back: BYU's first season as an independent didn't quite turn out like they wanted with a narrow loss to Texas and blowout loss to Utah on the schedule. The Cougars still finished up 9-3 and on a three game winning streak.

Looking ahead: Pointing at 10 wins in their first season on their own would be a nice way to end a tumultuous year.

Looking back: Despite changing head coaches, Tulsa had a great run through Conference USA and finished 8-4 with an iffy defense. Their only losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston, whose records aren't too shabby.

Looking ahead: The Golden Hurricanes have won seven of eight and no doubt want to make it eight of nine.

Alamo Bowl

Looking back: Robert Griffin III took a team with a defense ranked 110th in the country and led them to nine wins, including the first in school history over Oklahoma and another over Texas.

Looking ahead: You figure there's a good chance that RGIII wins or comes close to winning the Heisman and this game could be his final swan song if he moves on to the NFL.

Looking back: Everybody though it would be tough for Washington to get back to a bowl game after they lost quarterback Jake Locker but Keith Price took over and actually outperformed everybody's expectations. The defense was shaky and they couldn't come close to the conference's elite but still a nice season in Seattle.

Looking ahead: Steve Sarkisian is building a program up so their second straight bowl win is a great sign of progress but nothing like what a second straight bowl win would be like.

Champs Sports Bowl

Looking back: There was talk of a BCS bowl game this year for Notre Dame but expectations have a habit of being inflated for the Irish. They had a great win (in retrospect) over Michigan State but the season seemed to turn following the loss to USC with the team running off four straight and wind up 8-4.

Looking ahead: In a year considered a disappointment by their own high standards, a win over a team like Florida State will be a nice way to end the season.

Looking back: One of the biggest disappointments in college football, Florida State started in the top five but wind up 8-4 after losses to teams like Wake Forest. Injuries and youth played a part, sure, but it just wasn't the season Jimbo Fisher had hoped for when talking up this team earlier in the year.

Looking ahead: No one is recruiting like the Seminoles are and a big win in their home state while rivals are struggling would go a long ways.

Holiday Bowl

Looking back: Jeff Tedford was likely going to get another year but how California did this season would determine just how hot the seat was. A nice win over Arizona State to end the season and a close than expected loss to Stanford in the Big Game mean it's not too bad for Tedford.

Looking ahead: This is for a little revenge, as Cal no doubt wants to beat Texas after the Longhorns advocated for a BCS bid over them a few years ago.

Looking back: It was a brief hiatus from the postseason for Texas and though they couldn't find a good option at quarterback, the defense was good and they ended the rivalry with Texas A&M with a last second win.

Looking ahead: An eight win season is something most programs would take in a heart beat but it's almost required of Mack Brown this year.

Military Bowl

Looking back: Air Force comes in to the aptly named Military Bowl with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and option attack that was second in the country in rushing. The defense wasn't up to standards but a solid football team this year.

Looking ahead: They can't lose the Military Bowl, can they?

Looking back: Toledo seemed to go through the ringer this season with a close loss to Ohio State and the fiasco in the Syracuse finish. They ended the season winning seven of eight and have a high-powered offense people have to keep track of.

Looking ahead: They didn't win the MAC but a nine win season and bowl win are a nice thing to have for the Rockets.

Belk Bowl

Looking back: Not much was expected of Louisville this season, especially after losing to FIU at home, but Charlie Strong put together one of the best coaching jobs in the country as the Cardinals won five of their last six and beat champ West Virginia.

Looking ahead: Finishing strong and giving developing freshman Teddy Bridgewater are two things the program can take into the offseason.

Looking back: Despite the record, N.C. State didn't really put together a strong season when you consider they had just four wins over a BCS AQ team, one of whom didn't even go to a bowl game.

Looking ahead: Tom O'Brien is on the hot seat but he's 8-1 in bowl games and hopes an eight win season will cool things off for next year.

Independence Bowl

Looking back: James Franklin was solid in his first season as a starter and Missouri managed to pull out wins against all of the Texas schools except Baylor. The Tigers couldn't beat one of the Big 12's elite teams but it was a good effort for a team that had to replace several pieces on both sides of the ball.

Looking ahead: The school departs to the SEC and would like to have a bowl win on their resume (who knows, it might be awhile before they get back).

Looking back: Given that their coach was fired right after media days, a 7-5 campaign might be considered a success. The offense was surprisingly good with quarterback Bryn Renner, Dwight Jones at wide receiver and Giovani Bernard at running back.

Looking ahead: Who knows what NCAA sanctions might be for the program but a bowl win over an "SEC" team is a nice way to cap an up-and-down year in Chapel Hill.

Hawaii Bowl

Looking back: It's last year's successful campaign but it was a solid one nevertheless that included a five game winning streak led by new quarterback Cody Fajardo.

Looking ahead: They're going to the Hawaii Bowl so plenty of things to look forward to on the islands.

Looking back: Southern Miss had one of the most successful seasons in school history, finishing with 11 wins and the Conference USA championship. They had two puzzling losses, to Marshall and UAB, but upset Houston to throw a wrench into the BCS plans of their conference rival.

Looking ahead: They might be without their head coach but plenty to like about a trip out West.

Maaco Las Vegas Bowl

Looking back: What does it take for Boise State to get a good kicker? The Broncos lost a heartbreaker to TCU at home and that ended what could have been their chance to finally play for the national championship. It was still a very successful season with a big win over an SEC team but that one game against the Horned Frogs seemed to take a lot away.

Looking ahead: Kellen Moore is the winning starting quarterback in FBS history and would like one more to go out in style.

Looking back: It was such a promising year for Arizona State but a stretch run to forget. The offense exceeded expectations but had issues with turnovers and the defense didn't live up to their billing.

Looking ahead: Without a head coach, the Sun Devils don't have much to play for but their fans to get a trip to Vegas out of it.

Poinsettia Bowl

Looking back: Had they not lost to SMU at home, TCU likely would have made the BCS. Instead, they wind up in San Diego but leave the Mountain West in style with conference title in hand and another double-digit win total.

Looking ahead: 11 wins and a top 15 ranking are a nice thing to have when joining the Big 12 next year.

Looking back: Louisiana Tech won the WAC with a 6-1 conference record and seven straight wins to end the season. They almost beat Houston earlier in the year as well.

Looking ahead: A marquee win is something the Bulldogs don't have this year but one over TCU would certainly qualify.

Stat of the week

Via Rivals' David Fox, Landry Jones is 110-of-200 with no touchdowns and seven interceptions in four games since receiver Ryan Broyles got hurt.

Stats of the week

- Wisconsin's Montee Ball led the country in scoring and rushing. He had 38 total touchdowns, which was more than 52 teams.

- Oklahoma State wins a conference title and trip to a major bowl for the first time since 1945.

- The final numbers for Case Keenum: 69% completion, 152 touchdowns-46 interceptions, 18,685 yards passing.

- Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are tied for 7th on the active list with 80 touchdown passes. Luck has been more efficient and has a chance to pass Barkley in the bowl game.

- LaMichael James still lead the country in rushing yards per game. He finished fourth in total yards despite playing fewer games than everybody else.

- Robert Griffin III (192.31) narrowly edged out Russell Wilson (191.60) for the top passing efficiency title. Both marks top the NCAA single season record by a considerable margin. Wilson set an NCAA record with a touchdown pass in 37 straight games.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly finished the year with 191 tackles, 44 more than anybody else.

- Stanford failed to score just once in the red zone (63/64 trips) and had 50 touchdowns and just 13 field goals.

- 46% of Trent Richardson's rushing yards came against North Texas, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern and Auburn.

- First time Texas has finished below .500 in conference in back-to-back years since 1937-38.

Tweets of the week

"Bra we would <s class="hash" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; opacity: 0.7; text-decoration: none; display: inline-block;">#</s>smash OKST......they coach better calm down."

- LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard.

"I have no time for Mike Gundy. Dude just claimed Ok state would score 35 points on LSU..pass me what your drankin coach."

- Alabama tight end Brad Smelley.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. USC

7. Oregon

8. Wisconsin

9. Arkansas

10. Kansas State

Leaning this way

National championship game: LSU

Rose Bowl: Oregon

Fiesta Bowl: Stanford

Sugar Bowl: Michigan

Orange Bowl: West Virginia

Category: NCAAF
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Posted on: December 4, 2011 10:04 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 1:04 pm
 

Final BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the final BCS standings were released. Despite Oklahoma State's impressive victory against Oklahoma to capture their first Big 12 Championship in program history, the Cowboys were left on the outside looking in of the BCS National Championship Game.  Now it's Game of the Century II in New Orleans to decide the top team in college football.  Love it or hate it, that is the way the numbers added up.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU:How dominant was the season just put together by Les Miles's Tigers? This might be the first time in the BCS era that a team has clinched a share of the national title before they even play the national title game. Considering that the best BCS championship opponent Alabama can do vs. the Tigers head-to-head is a 1-1 record (with a home loss, no less), and that LSU has a wider collection of quality wins and the SEC title in their back pocket, we'd suggest that AP voters consider awarding their No. 1 ranking to LSU regardless of what happens Jan. 9. Of course, the way they've played thus far this season -- and how well they're likely to play in home-away-from-home New Orleans -- the Tigers may not need the charity. - Jerry Hinnen

2. Alabama: Lost in the controversy over whether the Crimson Tide should have slotted into the national title game over Oklahoma State is that now that they have, their selection caps an incredible four-year run for Nick Saban's program: three BCS bowls, two perfect regular seasons, two SEC West titles, a 47-4 overall record, and now a pair of BCS championship appearances. Of course, that also heightens the stakes even further for the Tide as they head to New Orleans; a second loss to LSU will only drive home the point that for all of those accomplishments, Saban would still be sitting on a single SEC title and lone national title to Miles's two. - JH


3. Oklahoma State: .009 points. That's all that separated Oklahoma State from a trip to New Orleans to face LSU for the national title. Or, in football terms, about 12 inches on a Quinn Sharp field goal attempt in Ames, Iowa. Still, as disappointing as it may be for Oklahoma State to miss out on a title chance, there's still plenty to be thrilled about this season. The Cowboys not only won their first Big 12 title, but they also did it by throttling Oklahoma to finish the season. Plus, the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford isn't exactly a terrible consolation prize, so while the sting will last a bit, it's going to wear off eventually. Tom Fornelli 

4. Stanford:The Cardinal have back-to-back trips to a BCS bowl game thanks to finishing in the top four and snagging a trip to the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State. It gives Andrew Luck a marquee chance to end his college career on a high note against a defense that has been a turnover-forcing machine. They lost out on a Pac-12 title game but the consolation prize of a trip to the desert and a shot at ending up in the top three would be part of a historic run for a school known more for their alumni off the field than on it. - Bryan Fischer

5. Oregon:The Pac-12 champions are making their way to Pasadena after winning the league's first ever championship game against an overmatched UCLA team. The Ducks come in on a mission: win their first BCS bowl under Chip Kelly and the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1917. Should be an interesting clash of styles as the fast-paced offense takes on a Wisconsin team known for efficiently moving down the field. - BF

6. Arkansas:On the one hand, who knows how high the Hogs could have flown this season if they hadn't been in the SEC West? Swap them out with Oklahoma State and maybe it's the Razorbacks who are bucking for second and the Cowboys licking their wounds from a pair of blowout losses and a third-place divisional finish. Then again, there's the little fact that the Hogs never beat a team better than South Carolina, defeated just two teams with winning records, and struggled more badly with Ole Miss than any other team in the conference. Maybe the Razorbacks were unfortunate they didn't do better than 10 wins and the Cotton Bowl. Maybe they're lucky they've gotten that far. - BF

7. Boise State: Another one-loss season for the Broncos ends in a series of "What If's" as the missed field goal against TCU has cost Boise State a spot in a BCS bowl. Unfortunately, the trends are beginning to mount for Chris Petersen's squad. While Boise State is proud to celebrate their sixth Top 10 finish in the last eight final BCS standings, this is fourth time the Broncos have finished in the Top 10 and NOT been invited to a BCS game. Instead it will be another trip to Las Vegas for the Maaco Bowl against Arizona State, their first showdown with the Sun Devils since 1996. - Chip Patterson

8. Kansas State:There's plenty to be happy about here, and also reason for Kansas State fans to be upset. You can easily argue that Kansas State deserves to be playing in a BCS game this season more than either Michigan or Virginia Tech due to the Wildcats finishing ahead of both schools in the BCS rankings. Unfortunately that's just not the way the BCS works. Either way, I think it's safe to say that if you had told Kansas State fans before the season began that the team would go 10-2 in the regular season and finish the year in the Cotton Bowl against Arkansas they'd have all jumped at the chance. - TF

9. South Carolina: One of these things is not like the other. Of the top 10 teams in the BCS standings, the other nine all earned either a conference title or serious consideration for a BCS at-large bid. And then there's the Gamecocks, well shut out thanks to ranking a distant fourth in the SEC pecking order. No one will claim this was a vintage year for the SEC, with claims the league was "top heavy" entirely accurate. But with four of the top nine teams in the final BCS standings, it's fair to say that top was heavy indeed. - JH


10. Wisconsin:The Badgers are the only team from the Big Ten to finish the regular season ranked in the top ten, though they aren't the only Big Ten team that will be playing in a BCS bowl game this year. Wisconsin is headed to the Rose Bowl after a thrilling victory against Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, and going to the Rose Bowl in consecutive seasons is nothing to be ashamed of. Still, it's got to be hard to get past the fact that the Badgers are basically two last second prayers away from being 13-0 and headed to New Orleans. - TF

Finally, the luckiest teams in all of the land: Virginia Tech and Michigan.  The Hokies and Wolverines fall at 11 and 12 in the final BCS standings, and will face each other in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3.

11. Virginia Tech: Not that the Hokies themselves have done anything to deserve it, but the haters of the BCS's current selection process just got a new poster program. Plenty of teams with questionable credentials have been granted BCS admission before (heck, the Hokies will be playing one of them in the Sugar), but it's been a while since a team without a single win over a top-25 team and so clearly second-best in a back-of-the-BCS-pack conference got this kind of preferential treatment. That's not to say the Hokies haven't had an outstanding season--those 11 wins didn't fall into their lap. But when compared to Kansas State or Boise State, it's just another signal that however much the BCS likes to blather that "every game counts", some things still count far more than the games. - JH

12. Michigan: It's crazy how things can change, isn't it? Michigan went from being a program that was routinely letting its fan base down back to the BCS in one season under Brady Hoke. If you had told Michigan fans they'd end the season in the Sugar Bowl back in August, would they have believed you? Of course, the argument can also be made that there were other teams more deserving than the Wolverines, but this is the way things ended up. You can't chastise the Michigan fan base for being so enticing to BCS bowl games who are just as interested in selling seats as they are compelling matchups. (Though you should probably send a thank you card to Jim Delany.) - TF

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Sources: ACC bowl picture set

Posted by Chip Patterson

UPDATE: In an unforeseen development, it appears as though Virginia Tech will get a bid to play in the Sugar Bowl - the first time the ACC has sent two teams to the BCS.  The Hokies' jump to the BCS changes the following bowl scenarios. 

Clemson - Orange
Virginia Tech - Sugar
Virginia - Chick Fil-A
Florida State - Champs
Georgia Tech - Sun
NC State - Belk
Wake Forest - Music City
North Carolina - Independence



With Clemson's 38-10 victory over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, the Tigers not only won their first conference title in 20 years, but they earned their first trip back to the Orange Bowl since winning the National Championship in 1981. With Dabo Swinney taking his Clemson talents to South Beach, sources tell CBSSports.com the rest of the conference's postseason bids have been set.

The Tigers' opponent in the Orange Bowl will likely be West Virginia, expected to win the three-team Big East tiebreaker with the highest BCS ranking. Sources tell CBSSports.com that Virginia Tech will accept an offer to play in the Chick-Fil-A (likely against Auburn) as a result of their second-place finish in the ACC Championship. The Champs Sports Bowl will then select Florida State to play against Notre Dame.

The Sun Bowl, as they've made clear publicly, will choose Georgia Tech with the fourth selection. Then, sources say, the Belk Bowl will select NC State with the fifth-overall choice. Barring an unexpected BCS standings shakeup, sources tell CBSSports.com that the Wolfpack will play Louisville in the Charlotte.

The Music City Bowl will then select the Virginia to play in Nashville and the Independence Bowl will select Wake Forest, sources tell CBSSports.com. The Military Bowl will take North Carolina with the conference's final selection of bowl-eligible teams.

These reports match Jerry Palm's updated bowl projections, as well as the recent updates from CBSSports.com's Rapid Reporters.

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: December 4, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Ohio State, Houston eye Clemson OC Chad Morris

Posted by Chip Patterson

Before Saturday's ACC Championship Game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney admitted that he had been contacted by as many as five schools with interest in speaking to offensive coordinator Chad Morris. At the time Swinney said that Ohio State, with new head coach Urban Meyer, was not one of those schools. After Clemson's dominating 38-10 win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game, things are heating up in the race for Morris' services in the future.

CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman reports there is "a potential bidding war" for Morris between Clemson and Ohio State. In Dabo's first comments debunking the Ohio State rumors, the Tigers' head coach added that he did not anticipate Morris leaving unless it was for a head coaching position.

That might be an option for Morris as well, who admitted after the championship game that he had been contacted by other schools. Bart Wright, of the Greenville (S.C.) News, reported that Morris was asked after the game about the possibility of the Houston job being vacant. With Kevin Sumlin rumored as a top candidate for Texas A&M, among others, the Cougars could be looking for a new head coach in the near future.

"Oh man, it's hard to talk about that with all this emotion going on," Morris replied. "Let's just say if that happened, things could get very interesting."

Morris would have the opportunity to return to the area where he rose to coaching fame in the high school ranks. His fast paced offensive style is similar in some ways to Sumlin's, and the Cougars are very familiar with Morris from his experience as an offensive coordinator at Tulsa.

Morris arrived at Clemson last offseason, after the Tigers struggled offensively during a disappointing 6-7 season. The new scheme and talented new additions like ACC Rookie of the Year Sammy Watkins have helped Clemson's offense improve into a unit that now ranks 29th nationally in total offense, and finished second in the ACC only behind Georgia Tech.

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: December 4, 2011 2:23 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Reports: Arizona State met with June Jones

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Another day, another report, another hint at movement in the coaching search for Arizona State. After moving on from Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, it appears school officials have set their sights on a coach a few hours up I-45.

According to reports out of Tempe, Arizona State met with SMU head coach June Jones on Saturday. KTAR radio's Paul Calvisi, citing multiple sources, said the two parties spent "a good part" of the day in discussions. The Arizona Republic said on Friday that ASU had interest in Jones but has not been able to confirm Saturday's meeting.

Jones, 58, is well-regarded for his run-and-shoot offensive system. After spending several years in the NFL, he took over at Hawaii in 1999 and led the Warriors to the Sugar Bowl in 2007. He moved on in 2008 to an SMU program that hadn't seen a bowl game since receiving the death penalty and quietly positioned the Mustangs to go to their third straight bowl this season.

If Arizona State doesn't go with Jones, former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, former Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora Jr. and current Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz have reportedly expressed interest in the job. The Republic has also mentioned Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart as assistants who could be in the running.

ASU fired Dennis Erickson after five seasons and a 31-30 record.

You can keep up with all the latest in the Arizona State coaching search, along with every coaching search in the country, with our Coaching Carousel.



Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 1 LSU 42, No. 12 Georgia 10

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



LSU WON: For 30 minutes, save for one moment of Tyrann Mathieu brilliance, the Tigers barely looked like a team that deserved to be ranked at all, much less No. 1. Becoming the first SEC team in nine years to go the entire first half without a first down will do that. But -- as it usually is -- the second half was all Tigers, with another long Mathieu punt return and a pair of Aaron Murray turnovers yielding a 21-0 third quarter run. Despite a valiant defensive effort (the Tigers finished with just 238 total yards and had one scoring drive longer than 26 yards), the Bulldogs were toast at that point; the Georgia offense totaled just 28 yards across the second and third quarters and had twice as many more turnovers/punts (8 total) than first downs (4). Mathieu took home MVP honors after his two electric punt returns and a fumble recovery.

WHY LSU WON: The same reason it always wins: the big play. Do you know how hard it is to rank 62nd in the nation in total yardage and still score more points than any other SEC team, and more than all but 12 other teams in the country? It takes special teams and defense that aren't just good but flat phenomenal, that time and again hand that offense the shortest of fields to work with.

And so it was yet again in the Georgia Dome. First, there was this:

Seven points. Then, there was Michael Brockers forcing a Murray fumble at the Georgia 27. Seven more points. Then Mathieu's ridiculous second return, which started LSU's next drive at the 17. Seven more. 44 yards ... 21 points.

LSU's offense isn't the best. But the combination of the Tigers' defense and their special teams -- not just Mathieu, but punter Brad Wing, who helped LSU stay withing touching distance in that disastrous first half with a ridiculous 50.8 yard net average on six punts -- isn't just the best; it's so much better than anyone else's it's barely playing the same sport. 

WHEN LSU WON: Kenny Hillard's second touchdown, which capped the quick 17-yard touchdown drive after Mathieu's second big return, put LSU up 21-10 with 26 minutes remaining. To overcome a two-possession deficit against that LSU defense would take Georgia much, much, much more time than that.

WHAT LSU WON: An SEC championship, a certain-beyond-every-doubt appearance in the national title game, and -- if the AP voters are feeling feisty following a hypothetical Alabama rematch victory -- possibly a share of the national title already.

WHAT GEORGIA LOST: A shot at the Sugar Bowl and Mark Richt's first conference title since 2005. But after those 10 straight wins and victories over Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech, no one's going to complain too bitterly, we think. Maybe.

Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 7:21 pm
 

Report: Gus Malzahn interviews at North Carolina

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A final decision from North Carolina on their vacant head coaching position may still be several days away. But one thing that does seem clear is that Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will be a major factor when that decision is made.

Malzahn has been rumored to have been one of the Tar Heel administration's leading candidate since mid-November, and the Birmingham News reported Friday that the 46 year-old offensive whiz had his official interview Thursday.

Though the News declines to specify how the interview went, message board scuttlebutt ($) suggests Malzahn did well, and you'd have to think the former Tulsa coordinator would have been comfortable with the man interviewing him--that would be new Tar Heel athletic director Bubba Cunningham, who just-so-happened to be the A.D. at Tulsa when Malzahn was serving under current Pitt coach Todd Graham. 

Beyond that, there's another factor working in Malzahn's favor. Namely, it's that two of his biggest competitors for the UNC job -- Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Southern Miss's Larry Fedora, who'll meet in Saturday's Conference USA championship game -- have multiple suitors (Sumlin in particular) and could be in new positions before Cunningham is ready to make an offer. 

If Malzahn is hired by the Tar Heels, Auburn could be due for a major shakeup on their coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof has come under widespread fire for his defense's performance this season and could be on his way out; running backs coach Curtis Luper is a finalist for the vacant UAB head coaching position; and wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor is reportedly "in the mix" for the head coaching job at Tulane. 

For a full, updating team-by-team overview of 2011's coaching changes, check out (and bookmark) the Eye on CFB Coaching Changes One-Stop Shop. And voice your opinion for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year by voting HERE. 
Posted on: November 29, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Swinney: Ohio State has not called for OC Morris

Posted by Chip Patterson

As the coaching carousel continues to turn, many top programs have begun to target the most prized coordinators in the game to inject some new life into their team. As more teams are finding success with a faster offense, coaches like Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris have become household names on the wish list of many college football fans. Morris' spread scheme has made him a possible candidate to join new head coach Urban Meyer at Ohio State. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney debunked that rumor on Tuesday, but he did confirm the interest in Morris' services.

Swinney told the media he has been called by five schools interested in talking to the Tigers' offensive coordinator, and Ohio State is not one of those schools. CBSSports.com's Travis Sawchik reports that Swinney does not anticipate Morris leaving Clemson unless he it is for a head coaching position at a power program.

Morris is a student of Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who is currently a name in the mix for many BCS jobs including Ole Miss and North Carolina. The idea that the Tigers' offensive coordinator will one day be in the same discussions is not unlikely, though it does seem a bit soon for Morris to be making another jump. The offense was humming through the first half of the season, and the lightning-fast ability to score was one of the key factors in Clemson's 8-0 start.

But now Morris, along with Swinney, have the task of refocusing their reeling team before Saturday's ACC Championship. Clemson is a last-second field goal away from a four-game losing streak, and the offense has only put up one touchdown in each of their last two games - both losses. They'll meet Virginia Tech in Charlotte with an Orange Bowl berth on the line. If Clemson can turn things around this week and knock off the Hokies, the memories of their late-season struggles will begin to fade from the minds of Tigers' fans.

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