Posted on: November 19, 2009 2:12 pm

Nagurski Finalists

The Bronko Nagurski finalists were announced Thursday and its not much of a surprise. The Nagurski is awarded to the top defensive player and honestly, any one of the five guys could win it.

Here are the finalists:

Pat Angerer, LB, Iowa: He leads the Hawkeyes with 119 total tackles (79 assisted and 40 unassisted), two tackles for loss (one sack), five passes defended and two forced fumbles. 
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee: Berry has 70 tackles this season, 44 unassisted and 26 assisted. He has five tackles for loss, two interceptions and six passes broken.
Terrence Cody, DT, Alabama: Cody blocked two field goals in victory over Tennessee, including the potential game-winner as time expired. He also has 20 tackles, five for losses, one pass break-up and two quarterback hurries for the unbeaten Crimson Tide.
Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU: TCU is fourth in the country in total defense and sixth in the country in rush and pass defense and Hughes is a big reason why. He has 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss with 10.5 sacks, one pass broken up, six quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska: Leads Nebraska in tackles with 31 unassisted and 25 assisted. He has 13 tackles loss (five sacks), eight pass breakups, 19 hurries, one forced fumble and three blocked kicks.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Nagurski
Posted on: November 16, 2009 3:55 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2009 4:34 pm 120 -- North Carolina

Finish up strong.

Every coach preaches it, but North Carolina is showing how it's done.

With its second consecutive victory over a Top 25 team -- a 33-24 victory over Miami (Fla.) on Saturday -- the Tar Heels jumped to No. 20 in the latest 120.

The team has now won five straight over ranked teams, going back to last season (Georgia Tech was not ranked when the Yellow Jackets beat them).

Robert QuinnNot bad for a team that was basically written off after losing to Virginia 16-3 and blowing a lead against Florida State earlier in the season.

"Life teaches you lessons," said head coach Butch Davis. "I think this football team, in the Thursday night game vs. Florida State, learned a really big lesson about trying to finish ballgames. About how important it is to play all 60 minutes, no matter what the score is at halftime."

North Carolina isn't like most 7-3 teams. It doesn't have a running back with more than 600 yards rushing and its leading receiver has just 409 yards receiving. Quarterback T.J. Yates has the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (10).

But the one thing is does have is a defense ranked eighth in the nation in total yards allowed and second in the ACC in interceptions. The team also has 25 sacks, led by sophomore defensive end Robert Quinn with 10.

In the win over Virginia Tech, the defense sacked Tyrod Taylor three times and recovered two fumbles, including one with two minutes left as the Hokies were trying to run out the clock.

Against the Hurricanes, the Tar Heels recorded four interceptions, including three by Kendric Burney. The junior cornerback returned one for a 77-yard touchdown and compiled an ACC single-game record with 170 interception return yards.

"Our guys are really getting a handle on studying quarterbacks," defensive coordinator Everett Withers said. "You hear their conversations while they're watching film -- this guy will stare down this receiver, this guy looks here in this personnel group, this guy looks to run in this formation, how another guy handles the pocket. They know that as the quarterback goes, so goes the offense."

Now if the Tar Heels can just take care of business against at Boston College and at North Carolina State to end the regular season, they will have won five in a row and six out of the last seven.

Southern California

Despite still being ranked in all the other polls, USC fell out of the Top 25, falling from No. 12 to No. 28. The Trojans are now 7-3, 4-3 in the Pac-10 and will not make a BCS bowl for the first time since 2001.

"I'm not sure I have the right words to describe being humbled like this," Pete Carroll said after losing 55-21 to Stanford. "I don't really know where to put it. ... We have fallen apart and given our opponents the opportunity to do whatever they want, but you have to give Stanford a lot of credit."

The Trojans are on a bye this week and then return to the field against UCLA.


The Wolf Pack started the season 0-3, but has now won seven in a row and is ranked No. 45. After taking care of Fresno State this weekend, the Wolf Pack are eyeing the end of the season game against Boise State. With a victory, Nevada would win the conference and end Boise State's dream of going undefeated and playing in a BCS bowl.

MAC Attack

Central Michigan and Temple are course to meet in the Mid-American Conference title game. Both teams control their own destiny and the game would feature two teams in the Top 35.

Central Michigan is ranked No. 31, while Temple is No. 34. Both teams are 8-2 and 6-0 in the conference. The winner will play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, which used to be the Motor City Bowl.

Three winless teams left

New Mexico (No. 118), Eastern Michigan (No. 119) and Western Kentucky (No. 120) are all 0-10. New Mexico was close to winning this weekend, falling 24-19 to BYU. It plays Colorado State on Saturday.

Posted on: November 9, 2009 3:40 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2009 4:24 pm 120 -- Kansas State

I'm guilty. I was one of the pundits to pick Kansas State toward the bottom of the Big 12 North.
Boy, was I wrong!
Bill Snyder's team is sitting in first place of the Big 12 North at 4-2 and 6-4 overall and this week moved up to No. 43 in the latest 120 rankings.

K-State needs just one more victory to become bowl-eligible (The Wildcats played two FCS teams, so they must win seven games, instead of the usual six) and controls its own destiny to reach the Big 12 Championship game against Texas.

Emmanuel Lamur"At the beginning of the season, everyone expected us to not do so much, to have a losing season or whatever," cornerback Josh Moore said to The Manhattan Mercury, "but all the players on the team and the coaches have a lot of faith in what we're doing. We're number one in the North right now - you have to take us seriously."

After Bill Snyder retired in 2005, the Wildcats didn't have much success under former assistant Ron Prince. They made just one bowl game (Texas Bowl in 2006) and had two consecutive losing seasons. The school decided a change needed to be made and brought Snyder back.

Not much was expected heading into this season, in what was supposed to be a competitive Big 12, with one of the worst defensives in the nation. Kansas state gave up 36.8 points per game (110th in the nation) and was 117th in the nation overall. This year, the defense is 43rd in the nation overall and 45th in points allowed.

The biggest telling statistics is the Wildcats are plus-11 in turnover margin. Safties Emmanuel Lamur, who leads the team in tackles and recorded two INTs against Colorado, and Tysyn Hartman, who has four INTS, are the driving force behind the turnaround on defense.

We're playing at a very high level," Hartman said to The Kansas City Star a few weeks ago. "We don't make a lot of mistakes, and when we do we try to correct them as soon as possible. That's what leads to our performance."

Another nice surprise has been running back Daniel Thomas. After rushing for 185 yards in the victory over Kansas, he now has 1,087 yards on the season with 11 touchdowns.

Thomas was a star at Northwest Mississippi Community College before signing with Kansas State, but wasn't expected to contribute much with the return of three running backs.

"Here is a guy that did not know where Kansas was a few months ago and still does not know anything about Kansas, but he gives it everything he has got, and he played hard," said Snyder after the game. "Sometimes he plays like he is a linebacker, and I just appreciate his approach to the game. He is not an easy guy to get down, and that is for one reason and one reason alone. It does not have anything to do with speed or size or anything else, it is just tenacity and a desire to get that extra inch or foot."

Oregon ranking talk, Part II

Last week, we had the debate about which team should be ranked higher -- one-loss Oregon or an undefeated Boise State team? This week we have the Oregon/USC debate.

Both teams are 7-2, but Oregon destroyed USC two weeks ago 47-20. In all four polls (AP, Coaches, Harris and BCS), the Trojans are ranked ahead of the Ducks. Did the voters forget about the thrashing the Trojans took?

One poll that didn't follow the rest of the nation was the 120, where Oregon is ranked No. 11, USC is No. 12 and Ohio State is No. 13. The Trojans beat the Buckeyes 18-15 earlier in the season.


... The highest-ranked team with a losing record is Washington at No. 71. Despite being only 3-6, the Huskies beat USC, Idaho and Arizona. It also barely lost to LSU, Notre Dame and UCLA.

... The lowest-ranked team with a winning record is Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 101. The Rajin' Cajuns are 5-4, but their strength of schedule is ranked No. 116 out of 120 teams. They did beat Kansas State, but the rest of their wins are against Southern (FCS team) and three Sun Belt schools with a combined record of 4-22.

... One of the biggest games between non-Top 25 teams is this weekend when No. 40 Fresno State (6-3, 5-1) takes on No. 53 Nevada (6-3, 5-0). Both teams still have a shot to win the WAC, especially Nevada, which hasn't faced the Broncos yet.

Posted on: November 2, 2009 3:15 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2009 3:21 pm 120 -- San Diego State

It didn't take long for Brady Hoke to make an impact at his new job.

The former Ball State coach has guided San Diego State to a 4-4 record after beating New Mexico 23-20 over the weekend. With the victory, the Aztecs move up to No. 82 in the latest 120 rankings.

Ryan LindleyThe Aztecs now have a legit shot to finish 6-6 and make a bowl game, something they haven't done since 1998 when the team went 7-5 and played in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"Obviously you want to win more than you lose," said Hoke. "These kids have worked hard. Our seniors have done a tremendous job. For them, that's why we get excited as coaches to sing our fight song in the locker room. Guys know how we played and what we need to do to get better. It's great to be at that point right now."

A three-point win over a winless team might not seem like a big deal to most schools, but not only did the Aztecs snap an eight-game losing skid to the Lobos, but got revenge for last year's 70-7 beating.

San Diego State still has to play two of the biggest teams in the conference, beginning with TCU on Saturday and then at Utah on Nov. 21. But win or lose, things are starting to look up in San Diego.

This is a program that was supposed to turn things around with Tom Craft and Chuck Long, but neither could get the program going. Long was 9-27 in three seasons, including 2-10 last season.

"It's always good," said quarterback Ryan Lindley on what it means to win. "I think getting to .500 is something that, this late in the season, this program hasn't done in awhile and it's always good to get a victory."

Things just got tougher for the Aztecs as Vincent Brown will likely miss the rest of the regular season. The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that Brown, who leads the team with 45 catches and 778 yards, suffered a thumb injury against Colorado State. He underwent several tests last week that revealed ligament damage.

Boise State/Oregon

The voters had to do some switching in the Top 10 after Oregon dismantled USC 47-20. Oregon moved up from No. 11 to No. 7, but a majority of the voters felt Boise State should still be ranked ahead of the Ducks based on the head-to-head meeting. So Boise State moved from No. 8 to No. 6.

Boise State is ranked ahead of Oregon in every major poll, including the BCS.

Key games

There are some key games in the non top 25 this weekend. One of the biggest is between No. 41 Kansas and No. 56 Kansas State.

The Wildcats actually lead the Big 12 North with a 3-2 conference record and 5-4 overall. Kansas is 5-3 overall, but just 1-3 in conference. Kansas State can take another step closer to winning the division with a win over the Jayhawks.

Not bad for a program many thought would be in shambles this season, but Bill Snyder has done a good job getting this team into position to make a bowl game.

Meanwhile, Kansas' Todd Reesing was benched against Texas Tech, but coach Mark Mangino said Reesing will be back as the starter against the Wildcats.

The other big game to keep an eye on is No. 43 Fresno State at No. 44 Idaho. Even though Boise State steals most of the headlines in the conference, Fresno State is 4-1 in WAC play, while Idaho is also 4-1. Don't forget about Nevada either, they are 4-0 in conference play.


... Miami (Ohio) won its first game of the season, beating Toledo 31-24. It might be the last win of the season because the Redhawks still have to play at Temple, Bowling Green and Buffalo.

... No. 120 ranked Western Kentucky was in a wild game, losing to North Texas 68-49. Riley Dodge accounted for seven touchdowns, four passing and three rushing, as North Texas matched its school record of 68 points set against Youngstown State in 1957.

... After being ranked for the first time last week, Central Michigan fell out of the Top 25. It lost 31-10 to Boston College to drop from No. 22 to No. 35.

Posted on: October 26, 2009 4:02 pm 120 -- Five Winless Teams

We are down to five.

Five winless teams.

And it should be no surprise that all five are ranked No. 116 - No. 120 in this week's 120. The bigger question is ... can any of them win a game over the final six weeks of the season?

It's been a rough couple of seasons for the team ranked No. 120 ... Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers have lost 15 consecutive games and this season rank 112th in the nation in scoring offense and 119th in scoring defense. This past weekend they lost 62-24 to Middle Tennessee.

"Today is an absolute miserable day for WKU football, there's no two ways about it," Western Kentucky coach David Elson said after the game. "How you respond goes back to our core principles and values. It's all about how you respond to these type of things. All year we've played bad one week and gotten a little better the next week.

"We played bad today, so we've got to look forward to playing better next week and try and get this thing on track."

In Western Kentucky's defense, it is finally a full-fledged member of FBS after having years of success in the former I-AA.

The Hilltoppers have three road games left on the schedule, but might finally end that losing streak this weekend at North Texas. The Mean Green are just 1-6, beating lowly Ball State in the first game of the season.

Two teams that don't have the excuse of moving up divisions are MAC bottom-feeders Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan.

Both had chances to get their first victory of the season, but were edged. Miami (Ohio) lost to Northern Illinois 27-22 and Eastern Michigan lost 29-27 to Ball State.

The RedHawks have never been the same since Ben Roethlisberger left after the 2003 season. After going 11-1 that season, Miami (Ohio) is 25-43 with just one bowl appearance. It did go 8-4 in 2004, but had has two 2-10 seasons and this year is 0-8.

With a remaining schedule of Toledo, at Temple, Bowling Green and Buffalo, a victory might not be in the cards for the winless RedHawks, especially since they are averaging 11.6 points per game, worst in the nation.

"I didn't think we improved last week versus Ohio. However, I think we improved this week with the physicality of our team. I think we improved with the teamwork and togetherness," said Miami coach Michael Haywood. "I think guys fought well in the third and fourth together and started bonding together."

As for Eastern Michigan ... It will have the toughest time finding a win as it has four road games in the last five, including a meeting at Arkansas this weekend.

Rice (0-8) and New Mexico (0-7) are the two other winless teams.

Big 12 North

Nebraska? Kansas? How about Iowa State!

The Cyclones moved up to No. 42 from No. 65 this week after beating Nebraska 9-7. At 5-3 and 2-2 in the conference, the Cyclones are close to being bowl-eligible and are just one game back of Kansas State for the division lead. Kansas State is No. 51, mostly because of its strength of schedule, which ranks 68th. (Iowa State's is 40th).

Iowa State, which hasn't played in a bowl since 2005, meets Texas A&M this weekend in a key conference game.

"That's our goal definitely," said senior defensive tackle Nate Frere to the GazetteOnline. "One game away. We are just going to keep doing what we've been doing and that will hopefully turn into a bowl game."


... Nevada is making a move back up. After starting the season at 0-3, the Wolf Pack are now 4-3 and 3-0 in the WAC. After blasting Idaho 70-45, Nevada jumped from No. 75 to No. 55.

... Colorado State took a big tumble, falling from No. 71 to No. 94 after losing to San Diego State. The Rams are now 0-4 in conference play.

... UTEP jumped from No. 91 to No. 79 after beating Tulsa 28-24. UTEP is now 3-4 and 2-1 in Conference USA.

... New Mexico State is the lowest-ranked team with at least three wins. Despite being 3-5, the Aggies are ranked No. 109. The biggest reason is because their schedule ranks 119th in the nation with wins over Prairie View A&M, New Mexico and Utah State.

Posted on: October 19, 2009 12:35 pm 120 -- Arizona helping Pac-10

The nation can't decide on which team is the best in the country, but with the help of the latest 120 rankings, we can decide who has the best conference in the nation.

With Alabama and Florida ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, it's no surprise the SEC is still king in the conference debate, but what about the second-best conference?

Only one league has five teams ranked in the Top 30 -- the Pac-10.

USC and Oregon are both ranked in the Top 25, but it's the other teams that help make the conference so strong. Arizona is No. 27, California is No. 28 and Oregon State is No. 29.

Arizona has been to only one bowl game in the decade, finally going to the Las Vegas Bowl last season under Mike Stoops. This season the Wildcats are 4-2, 2-1 in the conference, with victories over Stanford and Oregon State.

In the 37-32 win over Oregon State, the Wildcats held on while the Beavers were driving for the game-winning score. This past weekend against Stanford, Nic Grigsby raced 57 yards for a touchdown with 2:57 to go, rallying from a 15-point deficit to win 43-38.

"The bottom line is that we won. Each win is special and very hard to come by," said Stoops. "Each week, we have to play our very best, I'd rather play bad and win than play well and lose. It's not easy to play in a conference like ours. We go up against nine very good teams, and it's not easy to do that week in and week out."

With home games against UCLA and Washington State up next, the Wildcats could find themselves at 6-2, their best start since going 12-1 in 1998.

Another big factor for the Pac-10 is it has just one team ranked outside the Top 60 -- Washington State at No. 108. The Big 12 has five teams ranked 60 or lower, while the Big Ten has four teams.

The ACC is the lowest-ranked BCS conference with a rating of 48.58. While the conference has three teams ranked in the Top 25, its next best team is Boston College at No. 40. N.C. State (No. 81) and Maryland (No. 90) are dragging it down.

Based on an average ranking, here are the overall conference ratings:

1. SEC -- 34.00
2. Pac-10 -- 40.40
3. Big 12 -- 42.58
4. Big Ten -- 44.36
5. Big East -- 44.63
6. ACC -- 48.58
7. Mountain West -- 62.67
8. WAC -- 74.89
9. C-USA -- 81.42
10. MAC -- 90.53
11. Sun Belt 101.00

The independents (Notre Dame, Navy and Army) have an average of 54.33.

Biggest first-half surprises:

Cincinnati is undefeated and ranked No. 5. This was a team that was picked to finish fifth in the conference by most publications. Now it has a real chance of playing for the national championship.

Miami (Fla.) is ranked No. 8 at the halfway point. This is a team that featured four of the toughest games of the year to start the season and came out of it at 3-1. Now the Hurricanes are in line to possibly win the ACC and play in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2004.

Oklahoma is 3-3 and ranked No. 32. The Sooners were in everybody's top 5 at the beginning of the year, but with an average offensive line and Sam Bradford getting hurt, the Sooners are struggling.

Idaho is 6-1 and ranked No. 38. If Boise State ends up going undefeated and playing in a BCS bowl, imagine Idaho playing in the Humanitarian Bowl in front of the home-state fans. Amazing.

Biggest first-half disappointments:

The Ron Zook era might be coming to a close. The Illini are 1-5, ranked No. 101, and their only victory is a 45-17 win over Illinois State. They still have to play Michigan, at Minnesota, at Cincinnati and Fresno State.

N.C. State was supposed to be one of the favorites in the ACC Atlantic, but has lost three straight, dropping games to Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College. At 3-4 and ranked No. 81, it is on the verge of not making a bowl game.

Wasn't Ball State 12-2 last season? What a difference a year makes because the Cardinals are 0-7 and ranked No. 117.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 12, 2009 1:19 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2009 9:00 pm 120 -- Army and Duke

Loveable losers are losers no more.

Two historically bad programs -- Army and Duke -- both earned big victories this weekend to improve to 3-3 and get their schools and fan bases to start thinking about the unthinkable ... a bowl game.

Army knocked off Vanderbilt 16-13 in overtime to move up to No. 86 in the latest 120 . It was the first time Army beat a SEC team since 1988, ironically, when it beat the Commodores.

First-year coach Rich Ellerson already has the team with the same number of wins as they finished with the last three seasons at 3-9 and is eyeing more.

Army coach Rich Ellerson. (AP) The Black Knights haven't been to a bowl since going 10-2 and playing Auburn in the Independence Bowl in 1996. It was the last time they had a winning record, but with a remaining schedule featuring Temple, VMI and North Texas, the Black Knights hope to get to 6-6 and earn an EagleBank Bowl invite.

The EagleBank Bowl  signed a deal with the Black Knights that if they become bowl-eligible, they will play in Washington D.C. against an ACC team.

The defense has been playing fantastic and ranks 28th in the nation in total yards allowed and is 41st in the nation in points allowed.

Linebacker Stephen Anderson leads the team with 51 tackles, including 31 solo, while safety Donovan Travis is tied for second in the NCAA with four interceptions. Defensive lineman Josh McNary is fourth in the nation in tackles for a loss with 11.5.

"If our defense will play like they have been playing, we'll have a chance every week. We played well and have done a good job of building a fence around our opponents' offense," added Ellerson. "We have some play-makers and some guys that do a beautiful job of clearing because the other team makes plays and gets themselves in scoring position, but we don't freak out. We just reload and play the next play."

One of the team's Army actually lost to earlier in the year is also making waves in the ACC.

Duke scored a huge upset on the road against N.C. State, ending a 20-game conference road losing streak. Many thought the Wolfpack would be one of the favorites in the Atlantic Division, but the Blue Devils racked up 49 points and Thad Lewis threw for a career-high 459 yards and five touchdowns.

The Blue Devils moved up to No. 67 in the 120 rankings this week.

"It's kind of surreal," head coach David Cutcliffe said to the Winston-Salem Journal. "We haven't felt this way in a long time at Duke."

The last time Duke had a winning record was in 1994 when it went 8-4 and lost to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl.

Things start to get much tougher for the Blue Devils with North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Wake Forest on the horizon.

"All you got to do is look at what happened last year in the ACC. The ball can bounce a lot of ways. There is a lot of football left to be played. Anybody can beat anybody in this league."


... Speaking of losing teams, there are now seven winless teams remaining. Three of the teams are in the MAC -- Ball State, Miami (Ohio) and Eastern Michigan. Two are Sun Belt squads (Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky).

... SMU made a big jump in the rankings this week, leaping from No. 104 to No. 68 after beating East Carolina. June Jones has his team on the right track and at 2-0 in Conference USA, the Mustangs might be headed to their first bowl since the 1984 Aloha Bowl.

... Georgia took a big drop, falling to No. 47 after getting smoked against Tennessee. The Bulldogs are 3-3 and still have to play Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech.

... Middle of the road: With 120 teams, Marshall checks in at No. 60 at 4-2. There are about as close as you can get to being the most average team in the nation as their strength of schedule is 65th.

... Of all the teams in the Top 25, Virginia Tech's strength of schedule still ranks No. 1. Having played Alabama, Nebraska and Miami (Fla.) pushed its schedule to No. 1. It should start to get weaker with games vs. Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia to close out the season.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 9, 2009 3:01 pm

Getting to know John Brantley

Just in case he's the starting quarterback for Florida on Saturday, here's some links and quick notes to get you caught up on the question everybody wants to know -- Who is John Brantley?

Believe it or not, there is a website devoted to the Gators' backup quarterback. It's a fan site, but is pretty detailed. Statistics and stuff need to be updated, but if you scroll down on the home page, there is updated news and stories on Brantley.

Here is a pretty cool video of Brantley during his junior year of high school. Even though he played at a small private school, he is making defensives look foolish on that video. Here is video from the Florida Spring Game.

Remember this is a kid who was the National Player of the Year in 2006 and broke the state record for career touchdown passes with 99, topping the total of 98 shared by Tim Tebow and former Florida State QB Xavier Lee.

You can also check out his bio at the school's official site: John Brantley.

One interesting tidbit for this season, he has completed 22 of 30 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns in reserve action. His quarterback rating of 182.3 is the best in the nation by a QB with at least 30 attempts.


Category: NCAAF
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