Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:
WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.
All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .
So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?
Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.
Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.
They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Bednarik Award, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Denard Robinson, Dion Lewis, Ed Wesley, Iowa, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jay Finley, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Mark Ingram, Maxwell Award, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. Ryan Broyles, Oregon, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin, Ryan Mallett, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Tyrod Taylor, Vai Taua, Virginia Tech
Posted on: October 29, 2010 7:38 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Iowa State would put up 28 points on Texas before hanging on for victory OH WAIT ADAM JACOBI DID EXACTLY THAT. WHAT. WHAT. (You can't see this, but I'm posturing like an imbecile.) We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin goes B-A-N-A-N-A-S on homestanding Texas, throwing for 310 yards without an interception and running for another 75 with a pair of touchdowns, leading the Bears to a season-defining 27-24 win over the Longhorns. Afterwards, Texas coach Mack Brown first blames a failed attempt to do the John Wall dance as a motivational tactic in the pregame locker room, then complains that the Bears' Waco recruiting base gives them "a big leg up when it comes to athletes."
During the second quarter of the Auburn-Ole Miss game, Cam Newton is tackled after a 15-yard gain on the Rebels sideline near Jeremiah Masoli. As Newton gets up to the ground Masoli yells at him "Hey, I totally would have ratted you out to the cops if I'd seen you with that stolen laptop, Newton!" This enrages Cam Newton, who then immediately triples in size and turns green. He literally rips Masoli in half, and Auburn is assessed a 15-yard personal foul. Oh, and Newton is kicked out of the game, to great protestation from Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. Without Newton, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn suddenly seems like less of a genius, and Auburn's offense stalls. Ole Miss comes back to win and ends Auburn's hopes for a national title. -- Tom Fornelli
Michigan State loses to Iowa this weekend. Okay, that's not exactly a wild prediction, but what ensues turns the college football world on its head. Michigan State wins the rest of their games, as does Ohio State, and both teams finish the season at 11-1 (7-1) without facing each other. The Big Ten tiebreaker rules award Ohio State the Rose Bowl bid, enraging the Spartan faithful. However, Oregon earns a trip to the national championship, freeing their spot to be taken by a BCS-eligible team from a non-qualifying conference, as is the new rule. Trouble is, Boise State also makes the title game, while TCU beats Utah to knock the Utes out of contention. But instead of the Horned Frogs receiving the bid to Pasadena, TCU is ruled ineligible for bowl play and stripped of all 12 wins after an investigation reveals that they'd been using ringers from the NFL, and nobody at the NCAA had really bothered to check until a concerned Utah fan noticed that the players kept arriving to the games in their personal helicopters. I assume everybody in the NFL has their own helicopter. With no non-AQ schools left standing and no other Pac-10 teams in the top 16 of the BCS standings, the Rose Bowl instead selects Michigan State to face Ohio State, creating the first real Big Ten Championship Game a full season before Nebraska even shows up. The Rose Bowl Committee decides that this game is "kinda way better without the Pac-10 around," and the Big Ten decides to make the Rose Bowl the permanent home of its conference championship game, to be decided every year on January 1. You know, because of tradition. -- Adam Jacobi
Tags: 2011 Rose Bowl, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Boise State, Cam Newton, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Insane Predictions, Iowa, Jeremiah Masoli, John Wall, John Wall Dance, Mack Brown, Michigan State, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Robert Griffin, Rose Bowl, SEC, TCU, Texas, The Incredible Hulk, Utah
Posted on: October 22, 2010 3:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's easy to pick out this weekend's biggest games: LSU and Auburn , Iowa and Wisconsin , Oklahoma and Missouri . But every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's four of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern):
Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3), 12 p.m. This one won't feature a ton of points (the Gophers and Nittany Lions rank 76th and 108th in scoring offense, respectively), and obviously it's not going to have much impact on the Big Ten race, either. But this is the game that could legitimately be the beginning of the end of the Joe Paterno era; the Lions might be able to stomach one humiliating loss (last week's 20-point home shellacking at the hands of Illinois ), but a second at the hands of the reeling, coach-less Gophers -- not to mention the accompanying 0-3 conference record and dwindling hopes of bowl eligibility -- could start the succession planning in earnest. The long-term implications alone make this contest critical.
Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0), 12 p.m. Both the Scarlet Knights and Panthers have suffered some serious nonconference pratfalls --- Rutgers' unthinkable loss to Tulane , Pitt's home bludgeoning at the hands of Miami -- but both got off to 1-0 starts in Big East play with big wins over UConn and Syracuse , respectively. This is the Big East, after all: once you get to 2-0, it's impossible not to call you a serious contender in the conference. The key matchup will be Pitt's fast-rising Ray Graham (118 rushing yards per game) against Greg Schiano 's 15th-ranked defense.
Kansas State (5-1, 2-1) at Baylor (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. There's honest-to-God Big 12 implications here; if Mizzou loses to Oklahoma late Saturday, the Wildcats could forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 North with their own date against the Tigers still to come. But the stakes are probably higher for the Bears anyway; a win would push Baylor to six wins and a postseason berth for the first time since they played the 1994 Alamo Bowl. There's surprising talent on display here, too: Wildcat back Daniel Thomas is the conference's second-leading rusher at 130 yards a game, and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin (14 TDs, 3 INT) has a Denard Robinson -esque blend of rushing speed and throwing accuracy.
Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. The storyline for this one is simple: the winner stays in the dead thick of the muddled SEC East race. Beyond that, last November the Wildcats used a bevy of Georgia turnovers to upset the Dawgs in Athens and have generally given Mark Richt 's team fits the past few seasons. If Richt wants to permanently silence the bleating for his head that began after Georgia's 1-4 start, he can't afford a second straight defeat at the hands of a team that's been Georgia's traditional inferior. Too bad for him the Wildcats have been feisty at home thus far this season, pulling one major upset against South Carolina last week and coming within one stop of doing the same to Auburn the week before. As long as Randall Cobb is around (even if Derrick Locke isn't), expect more feistiness to come, and for this one to come down to the wire.