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Tag:USC
Posted on: November 20, 2008 5:56 pm
 

This week's BCS Armageddon scenario

Two teams from the Big 12 playing for the national championship? Absolutely. Three teams from the Big 12 in the BCS? You bet.  Only one team from the SEC? It could happen.

Here's how:

Alabama loses to Auburn, then rebounds to beat Florida in the SEC title game.

Missouri beats Texas Tech in the Big 12 championship game.

That leaves a top four in the BCS that would look like this:
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama 
4. USC

The BCS championship game would be Texas-Oklahoma but a spot would have to be reserved for Missouri, the Big 12 champion. Rules state that only two teams from a conference can go to the BCS bowl. Oops. They would have to make room for three.

Assume that Oregon State wins the Pac-10 and goes to the Rose Bowl. That would guarantee USC a spot as an at-large because it finished in the top four. It also means only one SEC team (Alabama) would be in the BCS.

Florida would be shut out because the at-large spots would go to Utah, USC, Texas and Oklahoma. That's right, two at-large teams would be playing for the national championship!

Posted on: November 19, 2008 12:28 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2008 1:16 pm
 

National notes

The golden era of Buffalo football was 50 years ago. That's what makes this week so special.

Beat Bowling Green on Friday and the Bulls clinch the MAC East and play for the MAC title, which would guarantee them their first bowl game. They are led by an African-American coach (Turner Gill) and an African-American athletic director (Warde Manuel).

 Fifty years ago, the Bulls had an invite to play in their first bowl game, the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. One stipulation: The game was being in a stadium controlled by a local school district that didn't allow integrated games.

There wasn't even a vote. The Bulls refused the invitation standing solidly behind their black teammates -- Willie Evans and Mike Wilson.

"They insulted two of our teammates," former quarterback Joe Oliverio told the Associated Press, "and we were going to hit them back between the ears by refusing to go without our teammates."

Fifty years later, Syracuse has a wonderful opportunity to carry on that legacy. Not necessarily because Gill is an African-American but, yes, that is part of it. Much higher on the list is the chance to turn around a moribund program. Gill has done what few thought was impossible, transforming a fledgling I-A program into being competitive.

That's all Buffalo was asking when it hired him three years ago. But this is above and beyond. The Bulls (6-4) already are bowl eligible. A victory Friday puts them in that first MAC title game.

A year ago Gill was mentioned in the Nebraska coaching search if for no other reason than to appease the Big Red masses. The former Nebraska option quarterback ran one of the highest scoring offenses in the game's history. In becoming a 1983 Heisman Trophy finalist, Gill guided Nebraska to within a missed two-point conversion of the national championship.

That was a quarter-century ago. Fast forward to 2007 and a change of career paths. Gill wasn't ready for Nebraska and not with a 7-17 career record.

But Gill is perfect, now -- right now! -- for Syracuse. The program that desperately needs to hit a home run with its next hire has one sitting right down the interstate. Gill is young, enough (46) and energetic enough to undertake the massive rebuilding job it's going to take to resurrect the program.

Think about this: Syracuse probably is in no position to be grabbing big-name coaches. It desperately needs one who is hungry. What Gill has done at Buffalo in only three seasons is one of the most underrated stories this season.

Of course, it didn't become a big story until the Bulls beat Akron in overtime on Saturday. That meant bowl eligibility and a chance at the conference title.
I just amazed myself typing those words.

Getting Buffalo to win anything is like transforming elephant into an Olympic sprinter. It has been in I-A only nine years. 
Gill's career record is a modest 13-21 but consider where Buffalo had been before this point. The program has consecutive five-win seasons for the first time since 1981. The program was 10-69 in seven previous seasons before moving to Division I-A in 1999.

"How come it can't happen?" Gill said. "That's what I told this football team when I first came in here. I said to them, 'We will be successful here and I will not be ashamed of being the head football coach at the University at Buffalo.'"

Far from it. Oh, and Gill can recruit.

 Senior quarterback Drew Willy drew interest from Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn but those schools weren't exactly knocking down his door. Syracuse got rid of Paul Pasqualoni which soured Willy on the Orange. Gill them proved himself as a quarterback maker. Willy has thrown 45 career touchdowns and is currently third in MAC passing.

 

 Kicker A.J. Principe was a player no one wanted out of Columbus, Ohio. Gill gave him a chance to walk on. The sophomore has 25 career field goals making 73 percent of his kicks. And a scholarship.

 

 Receiver Naaman Roosevelt was the New York state co-player. His only offer was from I-AA New Hampshire. Now he leads the MAC in receiving yards.

 

A couple of years ago, Buffalo played Bowling Green in a game that lasted more than five hours because of lightning delays. When the teams meet Friday, it could mark the fastest three hours in Buffalo football history. Win, and the Bulls are in.

 

 mgoblog.com is reporting that Michigan tailback Sam McGuffie is transferring.

 

 

 More from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on Obama's playoff talk:

 

"Look at our league, you talk about turning up the pressure. In our league those that have annual expectations -- Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas.  Let's say one of them isn't in (a playoff) for three or four years, their coaches aren't going to make it, the season ticket sales may go down, the bowls aren't going to be satisfied if they're not in it. An eight-team playoff is not going to accommodate more than two teams from a conference. You're going to put the pressure on."

 

 Part of the Mountain West's success includes complete domination of the Pac-10 and the best record of any conference against BCS conference teams (9-5). The conference is so good, though, that it me shopping for a bowl.

 

It is contracted to four bowls but the nine-team league could have six bowl eligible teams if Colorado State and UNLV (both 5-6) win this week.

Utah could relieve some of the pressure by beating BYU. That would push the Utes up to a BCS bowl. However, if BYU wins that could mean four bowl spots for six teams.

 

 By the way look for Utah's Kyle Whittingham to get a contract extension after the season He is in the fourth year of a six-year deal.

 

 

 It's interesting to look back at the first Power Poll on August 31. Here's the top 10 from back then. Five of the 
10 are still in the mix.

 

1. Ohio State -- Beat Michigan and it shares the Big Ten title.
2. Oklahoma -- The Texas loss probably keeps OU from being No. 1 at this point.
3. USC -- Ever hear of Jacquizz Rodgers?
4. Missouri -- Another victim of the Big 12 South.
5. Georgia -- Wasn't Knowshon Moreno supposed to be a Heisman candidate?
6. Florida -- Forget Tebow, Brandon Spikes for Heisman.
7. LSU -- Jarrett Lee has legally changed his name to "Pick Six".
8. West Virginia -- You're kidding, right?
9. Texas -- One loss, on the road, on the last offensive play of the game to No. 2 Texas Tech.
10. Auburn -- Wheeze, cough, cough. Don't wait for me to catch up. Go on ahead. The wolves will end my misery.

 Question: The day Will Muschamp becomes Texas head coach, will he be one of the few head coaches who calls his own defensive plays? I can only think of two at the moment, TCU's Gary Patterson and Western Kentucky's Dave Elson.

 

Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:49 am
 

National notes

The BCS bowls right now ...

BCS title game: Alabama/Florida vs. Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma
 
Orange: ACC vs. Utah/Boise
 
Fiesta: Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
 
Sugar: Alabama/Florida loser vs. Big East
 
Rose: Penn State vs. USC
 
 
Notes: The SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten get two teams ... The Fiesta Bowl gets the first and third picks in this scenario ... That leaves the Sugar with the Big East chumps, er, champs ... Orange definitely gets the non-BCS team because it picks last. No one is going to take Utah or Boise ahead of it because those schools just aren't new stories.
 
 
 Your official ACC tiebreaker scenarios direct from the ACC office.

First, 10 of 12 teams are still alive for the ACC title including Duke, in last place in the Coastal Division at 4-5 and 1-4. Other than that, take a couple of Advil and read on.

Atlantic Division


Florida State (7-2, 4-2) -- beat Boston College and Maryland to finish the season and hope someone beats Wake Forest. FSU currently loses a tiebreaker to the Deacons.

Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2) -- needs to beat N.C. State and Boston College and hope someone defeats Maryland.

Maryland (6-3, 3-2) -- controls its own destiny. Beat North Carolina, Florida State and Boston College and it is in.

Boston College (6-3, 2-3) -- controls its own destiny. Needs to win at Florida State, at Wake Forest and at home against Maryland to win the division.

Clemson (4-5, 2-4) -- Can't win the division.

N.C. State (3-6, 1-4) -- Can't win the division.

Coastal Division

North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) -- win out against Maryland, N.C. State and Duke and hope someone beats Virginia Tech.

Miami (6-3, 3-2) -- win out against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and hope North Carolina loses one more game.

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) -- Controls its own destiny by beating Miami, Duke and Virginia.

Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) -- needs to beat Miami and have North Carolina lose twice, Virginia lose to Clemson and Virginia Tech lost two of its remaining three games (one to Virginia).

Virginia (5-5, 3-3) -- needs to beat Clemson and Virginia Tech and have someone beat both Miami and North Carolina

Duke (4-5, 1-4) -- beat Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina to finish 4-4 in the division. Then, have Virginia lose to Clemson and beat Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Miami and lose to Duke and Virginia. Georgia Tech lose to Miami and have Miami lose to Virginia Tech, beat Georgia Tech and lose to N.C. State. In addition, have North Carolina beat Maryland, but lose to N.C. State and Duke.

Got all that?

 

 All is not lost for Penn State.

 

There is a convoluted way that Joe Paterno can get to the national championship game.

1. Penn State wins out to go 11-1
2. Alabama loses to at least two of the three: Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida.
3. Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma and Baylor.
4. Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma.
5. Missouri defeats Texas in the Big 12 title game.
6. USC loses once more to either Stanford, Notre Dame or UCLA.
7. Utah loses to San Diego State or BYU.

That would leave Florida No. 1 at 12-1. Bama, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and USC would each have at least two losses. An undefeated Utah might not be a threat anyway but a loss to BYU ends the Utes' hope for making a miraculous run to the national championship game.
 
The only possible No. 2 would be Penn State. Hey, I told you it was convoluted.

 That got me thinking. How DOES Utah get to the national championship game?

 

1. Penn State loses to either Indiana or Michigan State.
2. through 4. above.
5. USC loses once more.
6. At that point, it probably wouldn't matter which team won the Big 12, Texas or Missouri. It would be close with Texas having one loss and Utah being undefeated.
7. All Utah would have to do is beat San Diego State and BYU to advance to the title game.

 No matter what the standings say, it's still all about Texas in the Big 12.

 

The university is in talks to launch its own TV network. Horns TV sounds a bit inappropriate in a cable universe populated with the likes of Playboy TV, but I'm sure the school will come up with something.

Texas has the nation's largest athletic budget, somewhere north of $120 million. It made non-qualifiers a deal breaker when the conference was formed 12 years ago. Nebraska and Kansas State complained loudly but went along. Look where those programs went shortly thereafter without the benefit of non-qualifiers.

Now Texas is bidding to take over the cable universe. Makes me wonder how Michael Crabtree ever got into the end zone a couple of weeks ago.

 Tim Tebow got away with it. John Parker Wilson didn't.

 

Wilson, Alabama's quarterback, said he regretted pantomiming a cell phone call to the LSU fans following a first-quarter touchdown at Death Valley. Unlike Tebow last year at LSU, Wilson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Tebow wasn't. Guess it depends on how innovativeness of your taunt.

"Whether it should have been a penalty or not, it doesn’t really matter," Wilson said. "It was just a bad decision, something I really shouldn’t have done."

The quarterback turned his cellie off on Thursday and didn't turn it on again until after the game on Saturday.

 They're talking contract extension for Randy Shannon at Miami. That's good news for a guy who started 2-3 after a 5-7 first season. The Canes are in contention for the ACC title (who isn't?) and should start 2009 in the top 25.

 

 Bo Pelini has waited until the week of the 11th game to break out the coveted "Blackshirts" for 11 of his best defenders.

 

Makes sense to reward the Huskers for their defense. They're 81st in total defense giving up 380 yards per game and 89th in scoring defense giving up 29.1 points.

 ESPN is in negotiations with the BCS to move all five BCS games to the cable side. I don't have a problem with all the games being on one network.  But this does allow the Worldwide Leader to increase its fees to cable companies which will be passed on to us, the consumer.

 

Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
 

National notes

What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?

I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.

Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?

 Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.

 Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.

 

 USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.

 

Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).

Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).

"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.

 BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.

 

Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?

"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
 
 
 Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.

 This week's SEC ill feeling of the week descends upon Baton Rouge where Nick Saban makes his return as a college coach to LSU.

 

"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.

Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?

The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.

"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.

 The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.

 

"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."

That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.

How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.

A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.

 Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.

 

 Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.

 

 More Tennessee:

 

One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.

“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said.  "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."

 Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:

 

Dear friends,


This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.

Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.

I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.

We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

 

 Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

 

He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.

"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

 Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.

 

Posted on: October 31, 2008 5:53 pm
 

Captain Compete drops in on USC practice

It wouldn't be Halloween without a special appearance from a certain Hollywood celebrity in South Central.

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC
 
Posted on: October 22, 2008 12:19 pm
 

National notes

Kansas just gave up the most yards to Oklahoma since the wishbone era. It has lost twice. Meanwhile, Texas Tech is undefeated and  in the top 10. Guess who is favored Saturday in Lawrence?

Kansas, by 2 1/2. The game opened as a pick 'em. That line raised a few eyebrows around the country so I lobbed a call to Las Vegas Sports Consultants this week.  LVSC is responsible for setting the line at a lot of the major sports books in Vegas.

"This is actually pretty common," one of their spokesmen said. Kansas Texas Tech. "Throw out rankings as far as point spreads."

The fact that Texas Tech has struggled in its last two games (Nebraska, at Texas A&M) probably has something to do with it. So does Kansas being at home where it has won its last 13.

 For an SEC official, Wilbur Hackett Jr. is still a heck of a Kentucky linebacker

 

It was umpire's forearm shiver than took down South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia during LSU's 24-17 victory.

If it wasn't for the fact that South Carolina eventually scored on the drive and that both coaches diffused the situation there were some serious questions to be asked.

The biggest: What was Hackett, at Kentucky from 1968-70, doing moving into Garcia? Aren't officials taught to stand still if it looks like they're going to be involved in the play?

Several accounts of the game said that Hackett "collided" with Garcia. Yeah, and Oprah likes to "nibble" on chocolate chip cookies.

Really, my first reaction was that this klutz just tried to tackle a player. No one is that stupid to do it out in the open like that. Other reports said that other angles of the play showed that ol' Wilbur was defending himself. The last time I "defended" myself with a forearm and shoulder I was in a street fight.

That was a long time ago and before the court-ordered counseling so you don't need to know about it.

"We told  him ... 'You've got to use your forearm,' " LSU's Les Miles joked with reporters. "But then you have to wrap up. I want you to know that we were disappointed in his effort to be honest with you."

Couldn't Tennessee use Hackett?

 The ACC is rehabbing its image.  There are interesting races in both divisions. Florida State seems to be back, kind of, and Georgia Tech has the best record in the league.

 

Boston College's victory over defending champ Virginia Tech threw both ACC division races into a tizzy. The Atlantic Division is a four-team race with BC, Florida State, Maryland and Wake Forest all tied at 2-1 in the conference.

BC and Florida State are the biggest surprises. The Eagles (5-1) were expected to take a drop but have lost only to Georgia Tech. They control their own destiny, such as it is, with Florida State, Wake and Maryland to finish the season.

Coach Jeff Jagodzinski isn't going to win many more games committing five turnovers, including three interceptions by his quarterback Chris Crane (two returned for touchdowns). 

Maryland has beaten five ranked teams in a row (three this season). Its shut out of Wake Forest was its first over a ranked team since 1955.

Florida State seems to have a personality, finally. The defense is settling in and quarterback Christian Ponder is getting better. Graham Gano became the first FSU kicker to boot 50-yard field goals in three consecutive games.

The Noles lead the ACC in total defense and total offense.

Virginia (4-3) lost to Duke and shut out Maryland in successive weeks. The Cavaliers have won three in a row heading to Georgia Tech.  Not bad for a team that lost its quarterback (Peter Lalich, kicked off the team) and only recently got back inured tailback Cedric Peerman.

Georgia Tech (6-1) might be the league's biggest surprise. It is the ACC's highest ranked team (No. 18 in the BCS) and continues to body slam opponents with the triple option.

 The possibility exists that two non-BCS schools could get into the BCS. Only one such school has ever made it in the given year (Utah 2004, Boise 2006, Hawaii 2007). Jerry Palm explains why the non-BCS schools in the BCS better hope that the ACC and Big East champions finish as high as possible.

 

" Two non-majors get in (BCS bowls) if you're at-large pool is SEC, Big 12, Utah and Boise State," he said.

The rules state that only one non-BCS school can automatically qualify for a BCS bowl (top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher than a BCS conference champion).  But any non-champion is considered at-large if it finishes among the top 14. If all six BCS conference champions are among the top 14, that makes it more likely that two non-BCS school could get in.

Utah debuted at No. 11. Boise is 12th. Both of those are ahead of the highest-ranked teams from the Big East (No. 16 South Florida) and ACC (No. 18 Georgia Tech).

Here's how two non-BCS schools could get in ...

Projected final standings
1. Big 12 champion
2. SEC champion
3. Big Ten champion
4. Big 12 at-large
5. Pac-10 champion
6. Third Big 12 team (not eligible for BCS since two spots have been filled)
7. SEC at-large
8. Fourth Big 12 team (not eligible)
9. Big Ten at-large
10. Third SEC team (not eligible)
11. Utah (or other non-BCS school)
12. Boise (or other non-BCS school)
13. ACC champion
14. Big East champion

Projected BCS bowls in that scenario:
BCS title game: No. 1* above vs. No. 2* (possibly Texas vs. Alabama)
Rose: No. 3 (Big Ten)* vs. No. 5 (Pac-10)* (Ohio State vs. USC)
Sugar: No. 7 (SEC at-large) vs. No. 12 (Florida vs. South Florida)
Orange: No. 13 (ACC)* vs. No. 14* (Georgia Tech vs. Boise State^)
Fiesta: No. 4 (Big 12) vs. No. 11  (Oklahoma vs. Utah^)

^-non-BCS schools

The point being that the non-BCS schools need to root for both the Big East and ACC champions to finish in the top 14.

 The yin and yang of San Diego: San Diego State is quickly descending into unchartered depths. After losing to New Mexico 70-7 it is 1-6 and clearly one of the worst programs in America. An emotional Chuck Long said, "we have a very fragile football team."

 


Meanwhile across town, the University of San Diego is the only unbeaten team in I-AA. (6-0)

 Dad's week: Iowa's Kirk Ferentz suspended his son James last week after the kid was caught for underage alcohol possession.

 

Colorado's Dan Hawkins benched his son, starting quarterback Cody, in favor of redshirt freshman Tyler Hansen against Kansas State. CU won 14-13.

 A sign of how far things have fallen at Michigan: Defensive end Brandon Graham has guaranteed a victory over Michigan State. Michigan shouldn't have guarantee anything over Little Brother but these are trying times. The Spartans are 6-2. Michigan is 2-5.

 

Posted on: October 20, 2008 11:31 am
 

Startling Pac-10 realization ...

Yikes, just realized this scenario:

If Oregon State and USC win out, the Beavers would win the Pac-10 tiebreaker and go to the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, USC would be a couple of upsets away from playing in the national championship game. The Trojans debuted at No. 5 in the BCS standings and clearly need help to jump the teams above them -- Oklahoma, Penn State, Alabama and Texas.

USC's schedule strength was/is inferior to those other teams. First things, first. USC has to win at Arizona this week.

Just to be clear, USC could lose out for the Rose Bowl but play for the national championship. 

Pac-10 standings

USC, 5-1, 3-1

Arizona 5-2, 3-1

Oregon 5-2, 3-1

Oregon State 4-3, 3-1

Oregon State remaining schedule -- Nov. 1, Arizona State; Nov. 8, at UCLA; Nov. 15, at Cal; Nov. 22, at Arizona; Nov. 29 Oregon

USC remaining schedule -- Oct. 25, at Arizona; Nov. 1, Washington; Nov. 8, Cal; Nov. 15, at Stanford; Nov. 29 Notre Dame; Dec. 6, at UCLA

And no I haven't  forgotten that Arizona controls its own fate. The Wildcats still have USC and Oregon at home and a Nov. 15 trip to Oregon.

Posted on: October 15, 2008 10:56 am
 

National notes at the halfway point

One of the best measures for an improved program is the games ahead/behind method. Look at baseball standings for an example. The NCAA includes a section in its statistics book each year that tracks the most improved teams from one year to the next. In 2007, it was Illinois which went from 2-10 in 2006 to 9-4 last season. That's an improvement of 6 1/2 games.

Hawaii holds the record improving by 8 1/2 games in 1999. Ironically, the Warriors might be on the opposite side of that stat this season.

At the halfway point, I thought it would be a good idea to figure the biggest improvements and biggest declines of the 2008 season. Remember, some of the numbers might be skewed because we've played only half a season. But this might be a good measuring stick for coach of the year candidates and provide a short list of coaches about to be fired.

Most improved

1. Minnesota +7 1/2 games (from 1-11 to 6-1)
2. Duke +5 1/2
3. North Carolina +4
4. Pittsburgh +3 1/2
5. several tied at +3

Biggest decline

1. Hawaii -5 1/2 games (from 12-1 to 3-3)
2. Central Florida, Tennessee -4
4. LSU, Arizona State, Florida Atlantic, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, Kansas - 3 1/2

Most improved by conference: Baylor, +3; ACC, Duke +5 1/2; Big East, Pittsburgh, +3 1/2; Conference USA, Rice/Marshall, +3; Mountain West, Colorado  State/UNLV, +3; MAC, Ball State/Northern Illinois, +3; SEC, Vanderbilt/Ole Miss, +3; WAC, New Mexico State, +3: Independents, Notre Dame, +3; Big Ten,  Minnesota, +7 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida International/Louisiana-Lafayette, +3; Pac-10, Stanford, +2 1/2.

Biggest decline by conference: ACC, Boston College/Clemson/Virginia, -2 1/2; Big 12, Kansas, -3 1/2; Big East, West Virginia/Rutgers, -3 1/2; Big Ten, Michigan, -3 1/2;  Independents, Western Kentucky, -2 1/2; Conference USA, Central Florida -4; MAC, Bowling Green/Ohio/Miami (Ohio), -1 1/2; Mountain West, New Mexico, -3; SEC, Tennessee, -4; Pac-10, Arizona State -3 1/2; WAC, Hawaii -5 1/2; Sun Belt, Florida Atlantic, -3 1/2.

Storylines for the second half

Will anyone go unbeaten?: It looks like the SEC and Big 12 will cannibalize each other. That leaves a bunch of one-loss powers that also could include Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Utah or Brigham Young.

Heisman race: Tim Tebow won't repeat and the Big 12 looks like it has a lock on the 2008 winner. But which player?

JoePa In the Sky With A Headset: Can Penn State's venerable coach win a Big Ten title and national championship without setting foot on the field the rest of  the way? Physical problems continue to keep JoePa in the press box. When asked Tuesday if he needed a hip replacement, Paterno answered cryptically, "I don't  know." It isn't exactly Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds but anything Joe does the rest of the season is going to be followed closely.

The non-BCS challengers: TCU, BYU and Utah are all in the mix. If Tulsa can win at Arkansas on Nov. 1 the Golden Hurricane will be a factor. The MAC is  simply too tough for Ball State (7-0) to go undefeated but you have to root for the Cardinals. Their best receiver's career is over (Dante Love) and their quarterback (Nate Davis) wears gloves.

Biggest looming controversy: If a one-loss team from the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12 is edged out of the BCS title game by an undefeated non-BCS school.

Next coach to be fired: Given the swiftly declining situation at Auburn it might be Tommy Tuberville. Other than that, Washington's Tyrone Willingham and  Syracuse's Greg Robinson are locks. Keep an eye also on San Diego State's Chuck Long and Central Florida's George O'Leary.

Biggest upset looming out there: Not in terms of David and Goliath but watch the Texas at Texas Tech game on Nov. 1. If both teams keep winning you're looking at No. 1 Texas vs. a Red Raiders team that should be in the BCS top five. If Texas Tech wins try to wrap your mind around Mike Leach and his Pirate  Love jumping up to No. 1.

Get out your swords and Johnny Depp movies.

BCS bowl predictions at the halfway point

BCS title game: Penn State* vs. Oklahoma*
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Alabama
Sugar Bowl: Florida* vs. South Florida*
Orange Bowl: BYU^ vs. Virginia Tech*
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC*

*-conference champ
^-non-BCS automatic qualifier

  Remember last week when Washington State held open tryouts to find a scout team quarterback? The winner of that competition, Peter Roberts, suddenly finds himself a viable backup option with the Cougars headed into the USC game.

 Speaking of injuries, it's a shame that two stars at Kentucky and North Carolina recently saw their careers end. Carolina's Brandon Tate, the I-A career  leader in kick return yards, is finished because of a knee injury. Exciting Kentucky receiver Dicky Lyons is done because of a knee ligament tear.

 

 Don't say I didn't warn you. I know what I said about Texas and Texas Tech above but indulge me: The way things are shaking out, a Kansas-Oklahoma State Big 12 title game isn't out of the question. If Texas beats Missouri on Saturday then it becomes more likely. Kansas is playing better and has Texas at home later in the season. KU and Missouri meet in Kansas City on Nov. 29.

 

Oklahoma State is playing better than anyone in the conference (that includes Texas). That head-to-head game is Oct. 25.

 Remember this when you watch BYU and TCU on Thursday night. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall allows each special teams unit to name a captain. The captain then  names starters and backups for each unit. Wonder if that ever happens in the SEC?

 

 


 
 
 
 
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