Tag:Akron
Posted on: September 30, 2009 11:14 am
Edited on: September 30, 2009 8:10 pm
 

National notes 1/4 of the way through the season

The best of September

Who would have thought by the end of the month …: USC would lose to Washington a week after a heart-stopping, game-winning drive at Ohio State? [Ok, maybe by now there are a few of you.] … Unranked the preseason, the Big East would have two marquee teams – Cincinnati and South Florida … Houston would have the best Big 12 record [2-0 after beating Oklahoma State and Texas Tech] … Two Heisman winners would be knocked out of games … NC State’s Russell Wilson would have a career touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29-1 … Auburn’s Chris Todd would lead the SEC in touchdown passes [11] … Not that the SEC would have three teams in the top 10 in total defense but the Pac-10 would have two … The only three teams yet to allow a touchdown pass would be winless Eastern Michigan, undefeated South Florida and USC [3-1].

Coach of the month: Oregon’s Chip Kelly. On the night of September 3, his world was falling apart. LeGarrette Blount threw a punch and almost started a riot after Oregon looked punchless losing its season opener to Boise State.

Almost four weeks later, the Ducks might be the team to beat in the Pac-10. They have won three in a row, two over ranked teams and have a new lean-on tailback in redshirt freshman LaMichael James.

Team of the month: Miami. Playing September schedule in the country, the Hurricanes beat two ranked teams [Florida State, Georgia Tech] and showed signs of being its old self. Losing to Oklahoma this week wouldn’t be a disgrace. Coming out its death march 2-2 could be a jumping off point for an ACC title.

Also considered: Texas A&M, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Florida, Stanford, UCLA, Idaho.

Player of the month: [tie] You’re gagging on this by now but Florida would not not undefeated with Tim Tebow. His 24 rushes for 76 yards against Tennessee on Sept. 19 were the difference.

LSU safety Chad Jones is this season’s Charles Woodson. Against Mississippi State on Saturday, he single-handedly stopped Tyson Lee on back-to-back plays inches from the goal line. He also provided the eventual game-winning 93-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Worst conference: Based on previous accomplishments, it’s the MAC. The nation’s largest conference [13 teams] has only one team with a winning record coming out of September. [Central Michigan, 3-1]. The league is 13-29 in the non-conference, 7-27 against I-A competition and 3-19 against BCS conferences.

Best conference: SEC by a hair. The Big 12 has six ranked teams vs. the SEC’s four. But the SEC is 23-2 in the non-conference, a national best 6-2 against BCS conferences.

If you think the SEC has padded its schedule with I-AA teams, actually only the Sun Belt and Pac-10 have played fewer games against “inferior” competition. The SEC is 5-0 against I-AAs. The Big 12 is 9-0. Almost a third of its non-cons have come against I-AAs.

Best trend: Smaller offensive linemen. Boise has been doing it for a while but the Broncos are soaring toward a BCS berth with a line that averages 285 pounds. Remember those hog mollies at Michigan? They weigh in at a svelte average of 295 under Rich Rod who likes ‘em lighter and lively.

Worst trend: This month it had to be the coaches’ poll. It went into the season not exactly on the same page with the BCS commissioners. As long as the coaches are going to go completely  underground [hiding all their ballots] beginning in 2010, the possibility exists that the poll will be jettisoned from the BCS process next year.

As for now …

Steve Spurrier gave us a glimpse of his voting habits in July when he admitted that his football ops guy had filled out his preason all-SEC ballot. That caused a huge stir when Spurrier/ops guy didn’t make Tebow a unanimous choice. Spurrier/ops guy picked Ole Miss’ Jevan Snead but was allowed to change to Tebow after it became an issue.

Following convincing wins by No. 3 Alabama and No. 2 Texas on Sept. 19, Florida got all the first-place votes [55] for the first time this season after struggling to beat unranked Tennessee.

Then, there was this week. What a mess. 

No. 12 Oklahoma State is ranked three spots ahead of Houston, which beat the Cowboys by 10.

Cal, which just lost to Oregon by 39, is ranked seven spots ahead of the Ducks.

Penn State had beaten doggies Syracuse, Akron and Temple. After losing at home to Iowa it is No. 13, four spots ahead of the unbeaten Hawkeyes.

Keep it coming, fellas, can’t wait to see how this effects the BCS standings.

Team schizo: Florida State. Do you have to have it explained?

Say goodbye to:  BYU [in the BCS], Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen, Steve Kragthorpe.

Posted on: May 21, 2009 10:54 am
 

Picking the MAC

Four wins over Big Ten teams. A 12-win team ranked in the top 12. Five bowl teams.

It will be hard to replicate the MAC's 2008 season. Even with all that success, five schools had to replace their coaches. Included in that group is 2008 (almost) BCS buster Ball State. Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo also changed coaches.

The storylines are overflowing again in 2009. It's almost guaranteed to be another record-breaking year. Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour and Western Michigan's Tim Hiller are both chasing MAC career yardage and touchdown records.  The baby Bulls of Buffalo enter their 11th year in I-A as defending MAC champs.
Temple is, gulp, a factor. Ball State has won 14 regular-season teams in a row. And you've got to believe there is at least one more Big Ten victim ready to be knocked off.

How the mighty MAC stacks up in '09 ...

East Division

1. Temple -- What? Temple? Call me crazy but this is the Owls' time. They lost three games on the last play and were within a Hail Mary against Buffalo from winning the division last season.

Coming off a second-place finish and its most wins (five) in 18 years, Temple returns 21 players who started a game. Coach Al Golden has to find a new quarterback but redshirt junior Vaughn Charlton and redshirt sophomore Chester Stewart have experience.

If Golden, a former Penn State assistant, is going to replace Joe Paterno (someday), he'll have to win a conference title and go to a bowl. He might do both this season.

2. Akron -- J.D. Brookhart won a MAC title in 2005, his first season after leaving Pittsburgh. He hasn't had winning season since.

Either the Zips contend for the East this season or big changes might be coming. Akron has a new stadium, a new offensive coordinator (former Miami coach Shane Montgomery) and a powerful offense.

The defense was horrid (90th or worse in total defense, scoring defense, sacks and tackles for loss), but defensive tackle Almondo Sewell is one of the league's best players. Third-year starting quarterback Chris Jacquemain will play behind four returning starters in the offensive line.

3. Bowling Green -- Dave Clawson at Tennessee was a bad fit, sort of like Rosie O'Donnell in the Miss America pageant. It wasn't going to work from the start.

Fortunately, being part of the train wreck of Phillip Fulmer's final season didn't sully Clawson's rep. Bowling Green was lucky to get this offensive mind on the rebound. Clawson inherits the league's most accurate passer Tyler Sheehan (66.8 percent, 20 touchdowns). That's a good place to start for the Falcons who won six and finished second in the East last season.

4. Buffalo -- That crash you heard was the Bulls falling back to earth. Lost in the gushing about coach Turner Gill was that his defense gave up the second-most points in the league. Gill had to almost totally rely on an offense winning four games by six or less.

Quarterback Drew Willy (3,304 passing yards) is being replaced by sophomore Zach Maynard (three attempts in '08). Three starters must be replaced on the offensive line.

In a good year, Buffalo is a tough project. It might never get as good for Gill as it was in 2008. Don't forget the Bulls did lose six last season.

5. Ohio --  It's been a hard slog for Frank Solich since winning the East in 2006. The Bobcats are 10-14 since then. At least Solich has a choice at quarterback. Seniors Boo Jackson (school-record 19 touchdowns) and Theo Scott (one before being injured) will continue to battle in the fall.

The Bobcats were terrible in turnover ratio while giving up almost four touchdowns per game.  If Ohio is going to a bowl, it's going to be on Jackson and/or Scott. Both are dual threats.

6. Kent State -- Golden Flashes everywhere are hoping that early enrollee Tyshon Goode can become a go-to receiver. Actually, just becoming an average receiver would acceptable. The eight receivers in the spring two-deep caught all of 29 passes last season.

7. Miami (Ohio) -- A first-time head coach (Mike Haywood) trying to improve the league's worst offense in a program that is coming off a 10-loss season. Not a good combination.


West Division

1. Central Michigan --  Flip a coin between Central and Western but I'll go with the Chips. Central has posted four consecutive winning seasons, the longest streak in the league. Butch Jones has 18 starters back from an eight-win team that tied for second in the West last season.

LeFevour is poised to become the MAC career leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

Best reasons to like the Chips? Jones already has won a MAC title (2007) and the program is shooting for its third in four years. Oh, and Central has won three in a row over Western.

2. Western Michigan -- Be in Kalamazoo on Oct. 17 for the Central game that might decide the West.

The two top players are Hiller and linebacker Austin Pritchard (17 tackles against Central). The receivers and the secondary are a bit lacking but after a nine-win season, the Broncos should challenge for the division title again.

3. Ball State -- Stan Parrish, the former offensive coordinator and mentor to Nate Davis, got the gig after Brady Hoke bolted for San Diego State. The Cardinals will score but can they win 12 again?

Doubtful. This is Parrish's first head coaching job since leaving Kansas State in 1988. In the interim, he has helped win a national championship (Michigan) and Super Bowl (Tampa Bay). Without Davis at quarterback, Parrish will rely heavily on a veteran defensive front and tailback MiQuale Lewis.

4. Northern Illinois --  Jerry Kill won six games and went a bowl with all-everything defensive end Larry English. What can the second-year coach do without him?

Sophomore tailback Me'co Brown hopes to take the pressure off quarterback Chandler Harnish who led the Huskies in rushing.

5. Toledo -- You're probably familiar with the words "scandal-ridden" coming before the Toledo name lately. The Rockets have played some football too in the middle of a point-shaving scandal.

Hopefully new coach Tim Beckman doesn't bring all of his mojo from Oklahoma State.  Beckman oversaw a Cowboys' defense that allowed the second-most points in the Big 12 South. Hybrid "Star" linebacker Barry Church will be all over the field.

6. Eastern Michigan -- If Ron English was just looking for a job, any job, he found it. The trick for him in Ypsilanti will be keeping it for any length of time. The Eagles have lost 77 games this decade and have become the MAC doormat.

English, Lloyd Carr's former defensive coordinator,  is right down the road from Ann Arbor. That won't help him to avoid the basement in his first year as a head coach.

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: August 6, 2008 2:00 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 4:28 pm
 

Five things you should know about the MAC

Five things you should know about the MAC

1. Yes, Nate Davis is wearing gloves ... which is strange if you're a quarterback. Ball State's Davis was the MAC's top passer last season throwing for a conference-most 3,667 yards. No. 1 in MAC pass efficiency, Davis leads a return of the conference's top seven passers.

Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish calls Davis one of the best he's ever had. That means something considering Parrish has both Super Bowl (Tampa Bay) and national championship (Michigan) rings. He worked with some guy named Brady while at Michigan.

Why the gloves? Davis, a shotgun quarterback in high school, had trouble taking the snap under center when he arrived at Ball State. Parrish suggested gloves for traction. Davis never took them off, playing some of his best games against BCS schools. Two years ago Davis threw for 250 yards against Michigan in an eight-point loss. Last season he threw for 422 yards and three scores in a one-point loss to Nebraska.

2. Postseason embarrassment. There's no doubt the MAC is better but it needs to get it going in bowls. In the last four years the league is 4-10. It lost all three bowl games, two by embarrassing scores: Rutgers beat Ball State 52-30 in the International Bowl and Tulsa laid an epic 63-7 whipping on Bowling Green in the GMAC Bowl.

3. Temple is no longer a joke. Al Golden went 4-8 in his second year with the Owls. The program hadn't won more than two games since 2002. Temple is believed to be the only I-A team with all 22 starters returning.

4. Ditto for Buffalo. In two short years, Turner Gill has led Buffalo to respectability. The Bulls were 5-7 last season, the program's best record this decade. Gill will be Nebraska's coach some day if the success continues.  He's just not ready yet. In the offseason his name came up for the Huskers vacancy.

5. Play up. It would be nice for the MAC to start winning some of these non-conference games against BCS schools. The conference went 5-37 against BCS-conference programs last season. Maybe the news is that Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Kent State each actually beat one of the big boys.

Last year there were embarrassments like MAC champion Central Michigan's 52-7 loss at Kansas and Western Michigan's 38-point loss at West Virginia. Toledo did beat Iowa State but it also lost to Purdue and Kansas by a combined 60 points.

This season MAC teams play 10 games against teams currently ranked in the coaches' poll. Games to watch this season: Akron at Wisconsin, Aug. 30; Central Michigan at Georgia, Sept. 6; Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30; Northern Illinois at Minnesota, Aug. 30; Toledo at Arizona, Sept. 6; Bowling Green at Pittsburgh, Aug. 30; Vanderbilt at Miami (Ohio) on Aug. 28 followed by the RedHawks' trip to Michigan on Sept. 6; Boston College plays Kent State in Cleveland on Aug. 30.

There is hope: Five years ago MAC teams beat five ranked teams.

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