Posted on: November 11, 2010 11:52 am
Edited on: November 11, 2010 11:56 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Earlier this week, it looked as though Miami might be missing the team's top two rushers for Saturday's crucial division matchup with Georgia Tech. Hurricanes fans got good news on Wednesday, with both Damien Berry and Lamar Miller back fully participating in practice. Miller sat out Tuesday with a stomach virus, and Berry hasn't practiced since injuring his leg against Virginia on October 30.
"To me, he looked like he's 100 percent, like he's ready to go this week," Miller said of Berry after practice.
The news of getting more than half of the season rushing production back on the field for Saturday gives the Hurricanes offense a lift heading into Atlanta. The thought of entering the game without Berry, Miller, or starting quarterback Jacory Harris made Miami's ACC Championship Game chances look bleak. A Miami loss with a Virginia Tech win would eliminate the Hurricanes from contention for the ACC Coastal Division title. Miami needs to stay alive in the hunt until November 20, when the Hokies visit Coral Gables.
Even if the the Hurricanes do defeat Virginia Tech, they will still need some help from North Carolina or Virginia in order to win the division in a tie-breaker, not to mention taking care of business this week against the Yellow Jackets. With Stephen Morris under center for his second career start, first on the road, getting Berry and Miller back in the lineup will ease the pressure on the true freshman.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 1:06 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
There are still four weeks of regular season football left, but the Lombardi Award has evidently seen enough to select four finalists already. The finalists for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the top lineman or linebacker in college football (no linebackers are in the running this season), are listed below.
Clayborn is unlikely to win, as his 2010 statistics aren't nearly at the level of last season; it'll take an Iowa win over Ohio State that prominently features Clayborn in a disruptive role to bring him into the conversation as a potential winner. Even then, it might not do much to the overall narrative.
Nick Fairley was relatively unheralded coming into the season, but he has been an absolute terror on the interior and is easily the defensive MVP for the undefeated Auburn team. His 18 tackles for a loss lead all defensive tackles; he's got to be a unanimous All-American at DT this season.
TCU's offense is rolling, and Jake Kirkpatrick is the presumptive winner of the Rimington Award this season, but an offensive lineman hasn't won the award since Orlando Pace won at Ohio State in 1995 and 1996. Though we mean zero disrespect to Kirkpatrick, he is not the transformative blocking talent that Pace was, and Kirkpatrick will probably be the first to agree (humility is sort of an offensive lineman's "thing"; this usually only intensifies toward the middle of the line).
That leaves Da'Quan Bowers, the star defensive end for Clemson. Bowers leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss, and has generally made iife hell for opposing quarterbacks; while the Clemson defense's touchdowns and yards per pass are generally pretty pedestrian, its overall pass efficiency defense is one of the better in the nation. The incompletion percentage and interception percentages, meanwhile, are relatively high. That means one thing: pressured passes ahoy, and plenty of that credit goes to a terrorizing defensive line. Unless Clemson collapses down the stretch, this award is Bowers's to lose, and it would be an honor well-earned.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 6:34 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 7:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Over the past several days, more than one college football analyst has discussed a scenario which should make everyone involved with the BCS hang their head: the possibility of an undefeated Boise State not only not making the BCS national title game, but being shut out of the BCS entirely and heading off to play (or "obliterate," delete as applicable) Cal in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. As CBSSports.com's own Dennis Dodd has explained, with TCU poised to take the single automatic bid allotted to non-AQ teams, the Sugar Bowl suffering from "SEC power vs. small-conference upstart" fatigue, and the Orange Bowl potentially unwilling to put together a rematch between likely ACC champion Virginia Tech and the Broncos, every BCS at-large bid could easily wind up doled to teams other than Boise. It's true.
But that doesn't mean it's destined to happen, or even likely. For instance, CBS's Jerry Palm says it's not even a given that the Horned Frogs will wind up ahead of Boise in the BCS standings when all is said and done. But even assuming TCU gets the nod at No. 3, here's five somewhat reasonable scenarios (i.e. not "New Mexico beats the Frogs in the upset of the millennium"), ranked from most to least likely, which would result in the Broncos getting their second BCS berth in as many years:
1. The Sugar or the Orange extend an invite. There's reason to think the Sugar and the Orange won't want to take a flyer on the Broncos, but there's plenty of reasons to think they will, too. Boise has become such a polarizing fixture on the college football scene that they're capable of bringing a great deal of attention and excellent TV ratings with them. The Broncos haven't faced an SEC team since Georgia in 2005, and it's fair to assume plenty of fans would tune in to see the nation's most respected conference and most recognizable Cinderella go toe-to-toe. (If the Sugar gets to invite local favorite LSU as the Broncos' opponent, attendance won't be an issue.) The Orange might be nonplussed at the Hokie-Bronco rematch, but selecting last, they also might not have many palatable options; assuming Nebraska wins in the Big 12 and the Sugar takes a leftover Big Ten team (preventing the Orange from taking a third Big Ten team), the only serious candidates will be either a team like Oklahoma State or Missouri or that won't bring much more than Boise in terms of profile, TV attention, fan attendance, etc., or an Oklahoma team that won't come close to matching Boise's record of achievement this year.
2. The old switcheroo? After consultation with the rest of the CBS College Football Blog team, we're still not entirely sure what this provision in the BCS selection process bylaws means exactly (emphasis added):
But especially regarding that final caveat as it pertains to the Rose, it sounds like the BCS could play musical chairs with some of its bowl assignments if it means squeezing out from underneath a Virginia Tech-Boise State rematch. If the Sugar decides it doesn't want Boise but could deal with the Hokies, and the Orange wants Boise but doesn't want the rematch, could the bowls swap into, say, an LSU vs. Virginia Tech matchup in the Sugar and a Boise-Ohio State blockbuster in the Orange? Don't hold us to this, but reading the above, it might be a possibility.
3. A Virginia Tech loss in the ACC championship game. It's hard to see the Hokies not making it to Charlotte, but if someone other than Tech wins the conference title (the Orange would no doubt like Florida State, please-and-thank-you), inviting Boise would seem to be a no-brainer.
4. Wisconsin doesn't go to Pasadena. One of the Broncos' biggest rivals for at-large attention is Ohio State, who brings with them a huge fanbase, potentially an 11-1 record, a ton of media attention, etc. If Wisconsin falls out of the scrum at the top of the Big Ten (either by, say, a loss at Michigan or a tiebreak loss to Michigan State), that would open the door for either the Buckeyes or Spartans to go back to Pasadena ... and possibly for the Sugar to take Boise over a Badger team that doesn't pull nearly as much weight as the Buckeyes (though our resident bowl projections expert disagrees, I should note).
5. SEC chaos. It's not likely at all, but it's possible enough carnage goes on in the SEC (Auburn losing to Georgia and Alabama, LSU losing to Arkansas, the SEC East winner springing an upset in the championship game, even Cam Newton becoming suspended would help) that the conference doesn't produce a worthy BCS at-large team. That could open up a hole for Boise somewhere.
Put all of these possibilities together, and you can't guarantee that Boise will make one of the BCS games ... but it seems likely enough that something will happen in their favor that they don't have to lose sleep worrying about Cal. Not yet, anyway.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:02 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Stephen Morris had a pretty good day for Miami as he filled in for the concussed Jacory Harris against Maryland on Saturday. The freshman threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions, so it's not like the kid was amazing. Still, I guess some Miami fans saw the two interceptions and thought "that's less than Jacory usually throws" because apparently some people started making noise that Morris should become the full-time starter, even when Harris returns.
Which Randy Shannon then put to bed with his icy stare, while his eyes transmitted this message.
"If [Jacory]'s cleared and doing all the things, then, yes, he'll be the starter,'' Shannon told The Miami Herald, which on Sunday featured a picture of Morris on the front page with the headline "A New Hero." "You don't lose your job because of one game. That's going to be the next question this week, huh -- quarterback controversy. You are all going to make it worse than what it is.
"I will not know until the medical staff tells me. Until the medical staff clears him, Jacory will be out. If the medical staff never clears him, Jacory will not play.
"I can't say he's going to play this week, next week or the week after. It's up to the medical staff. So, when he's cleared to go, then I can let you guys know.''
Which only makes sense for Miami. Morris had a nice game, yes, but he didn't do anything to take the job away from Harris. He still threw those two interceptions. I know Harris hasn't lived up to the Heisman candidate hype he was getting before the season, but that hype was placed on him by the same people now wondering if he should lose his job. He's still the same quarterback he's always been.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: November 8, 2010 4:25 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Sitting down this morning, I figured I might start the week off by trying to sort through the ever-muddled ACC Atlantic Division. With Florida State having dropped two in a row, the division has turned into a complete toss-up between the Seminoles, N.C. State , Maryland , and to a lesser extent, Clemson . Quickly running out of room in the legal pad, it became quickly obvious that the free-for-all in the ACC was going to be a difficult puzzle to solve. Thankfully, we have people like Patrick Stevens at D1scourse.com . Stevens has gone through and charted all 128 possible scenarios in the ACC Atlantic Division race. Of the 128 scenarios, Florida State wins in the 38 of them, N.C. State in 33, Maryland takes the division in 31, and Clemson gets the nod for the ACC Championship Game in 25 of the scenarios. Which leaves one scenario, one which Stevens has dubbed the "trainwreck" scenario :
Suppose Florida State loses to Clemson but beats Maryland. And the Terrapins upend Virginia and N.C. State. Oh, and the Wolfpack has to beat Wake Forest and North Carolina. Finally --- and perhaps least likely --- Clemson has to lose at Wake Forest. Then again, it's Clemson, so nothing should be counted out. That creates a three-way tie at 5-3 between Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State. The group would be 1-1 against each other, and all three teams would have the same division record, losses to Clemson, wins against Boston College and Wake Forest and no common games against non-division teams.
That takes things down to step No. 7 on the eight-step tiebreaker list, which is the team with the highest ranking in the BCS standings at the end of the conference regular season --- unless the teams are within five spots of each other. Seeing as how none of the three are in the top 25 of this week's BCS standings, hilarity could ensue.
Step No. 8, by the way, is "the representative shall be chosen by a draw." Fun times.
Click here for a full chart of each scenario and the division winner. Clemson's 25 division-winning scenarios can be wiped off the board quickly with a loss at Florida State on Saturday night, but the rest of the contenders still have at least a long-shot chance regardless of the outcome of their next contest. How Maryland fares against Florida State and in the season-finale against N.C. State will likely determine the division winner. Of course having those games left on the schedule is what makes a headache like the aforementioned "trainwreck" scenario possible, but it also is adding some much-needed excitement to a conference that has not had most impressive season. ACC fans may have been disappointed with the lack of elite competition in 2010, but at least they will get a photo finish.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 9:39 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 9:45 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Yes, Bowers is the type of the player that can alter a game - In the second half against N.C. State, Clemson's defensive line pinned their ears back and came after Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson like a pack of wild dogs. They were led by defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who took jumped ahead as the nation's sack leader with his 11th and 12th sack on the season. Bowers commanded much of the offensive line's attention, and the Tigers were able to force Wilson to throw several balls away, especially down the stretch. The Tigers offense tried desperately to give away Saturday's matchup with the Wolfpack, but the defense refused to let Clemson's division title hopes fizzle away completely.
2. ACC Atlantic is a game of Yahtzee! - After last week's upset of Florida State, the Atlantic Division race got flipped upside down with N.C. State, Maryland, and the Seminoles all carrying one-loss conference records into Week 10. None of the three teams were able to establish a lead on the division race on Saturday, all losing their conference contests. Now with the division leaders all having two conference losses, Clemson is back in the mix to return to the ACC Championship Game. The good news is that each team, for the most part, will get to prove their worth on the field in the final weeks of the season. Florida State faces Clemson and Maryland, N.C. State faces Maryland, Wake Forest, and North Carolina, and Clemson also travels to Winston-Salem to face the Demon Deacons. As of right now, I'm giving the edge to Florida State. The Seminoles look like they could easily handle the Terrapins, and with the schedule left that seems to be the opponent that could decide things in the division. Which of course means that Ralph Friedgen's crew COULD win the division, but the "eye-test," the "ear test," and "conventional wisdom" in general says that the Terrapins are likely not going to be competing for a BCS bowl berth in December.
3. North Carolina simply refuses to die - After the Tar Heels' 37-35 upset of Florida State on Saturday, North Carolina head coach Butch Davis appeared choked up as he spoke about the resiliency of this year's squad. After missing as many as 15 players due to suspensions and investigations, and six of those players being deemed ineligible for the year, North Carolina finds themselves bowl eligible for the third straight year under Butch Davis. Neither injuries nor suspensions have kept the Tar Heels from finding ways to win, with the entire squad buying into the "next man up" mentality. When Davis was forced to work his way down to the fourth string running back, sophomore Hunter Furr delivered three crucial rushes for 27 yards to help set up Casey Barth's game-winning field goal. There is a lot of ground between the Tar Heels and the division-leading Hokies, but Virginia Tech will be in Chapel Hill next week to try and lock up a spot in the ACC Championship Game. After seeing the product the Tar Heels put on the field in Tallahassee, that task could be more difficult than previously expected.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 4:48 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers broke out last season, catching the eye of coaches and scouts despite struggling with a knee injury. It was speculated that when healthy, Bowers could be one of the best defensive ends in the nation. In Saturday's 14-13 upset victory over N.C. State, Bowers continued to make his case for arguably THE best defensive end in the nation. With his two sacks on Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson, Bowers stands alone as the nation's sack leader with 12 on the season.
The efforts of Clemson's defense were crucial in the second half against N.C. State, keeping Wilson and the rest of the offense out of the end zone in the final three quarters. Neither offense flashy, particularly in the second half, and both teams combined for five turnovers. Wolfpack fans will head coach Tom O'Brien's decision to punt on 4th and 1 following Clemson's go-ahead touchdown with 6:18 remaining. By the time the Wolfpack got the ball back on their own 15, there were no more timeouts and Clemson was able to send Bowers and the rest of the Clemson defensive line right at Wilson, frustrating the star quarterback and forcing several incompletions.
Bowers, as he does each week, dedicated the game to the memory of his father and former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams. His father passed away in early August and Adams, the Clemson's career sack leader with 28, died tragically in January from a cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart. With 16 career sacks, Bowers would likely need to return for his senior season to chase Adams' record. But with more performances like Saturday, I believe the opportunities at the next level will be difficult to turn down.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 3:59 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 4:04 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Georgia Tech wasn't the only team to lose a player for the season in Thursday night's Coastal Division battle in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech wide receiver/kick returner Dyrell Roberts suffered a bruised thigh on the first kickoff return in the 28-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets. Roberts returned to the game briefly, but missed most of the second half. On Friday morning Roberts underwent emergency surgery after developing a compartment syndrome in his left thigh, according to head athletic trainer Mike Goforth. He is expected to miss the rest of the regular season in recovery, but Goforth did not rule out a return for the Hokies bowl game.
I had to google "compartment syndrome" myself, and it looks incredibly painful. Roberts' injury is certainly not good news for a Hokies offense that has dealt with health issues all year, but what if he had been healthy and David Wilson had not gotten to return the last Georgia Tech kickoff. Would Roberts have also run the kick back for the winning touchdown? Roberts has 21 catches for 303 yards and two touchdowns on the season, and is averaging 19.4 yards per return in the kicking game. Virginia Tech, now 5-0 in the conference, have created a healthy amount of space from the rest of the division and are a few games away from securing their spot in the ACC Championship Game.