Tag:Colorado State
Posted on: October 17, 2009 11:37 pm
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Early BCS projection

Best guess on the early BCS standings: 1. Florida; 2. Alabama; 3. Texas;  4. USC; 5. Cincinnati; 6. Iowa.

1. Florida – Barely survived a supreme effort by Arkansas. Won’t lose the top spot for playing it close.
2. Alabama – Impressive, head-knocking 20-6 win over South Carolina.
3. Texas – Still lots of questions about this offense.
4. USC – Why can’t USC schedule Notre Dame ever year? Wait, it does.
5. Cincinnati – Most impressive win of the weekend among the contenders over South Florida on the road.
6. Iowa – Annoyingly good.

  Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. It might be developing one with tailback Mark Ingram. Bear would have been proud of Ingram’s Bryant-Denny Stadium record 246 yards.

  Line of the night (not from me): Notre Dame wins, 27-34!

  Kansas State became the first team I can remember that gave up 60 points one week (66-14 loss to Texas Tech) then followed it by scoring 60 points (62-14 over Texas A&M).

  Cardiac Jimmy Clausen is now 3-2 in cardiac games. Feel free to weigh in. Can Notre Dame get to the BCS with a 10-2 having beaten no ranked teams? Doubtful.

  Team of the week: At 6-1, Idaho is bowl eligible. Coach Robb Akey would like to give a shout out of Tom Cable who put the Fightin’ in Fightin’ Vandals. Cable coached Idaho from 2000-2004 (11-35).

  This Bobby Petrino is coming along nicely. The Hogs did it with defense in The Swamp -- Six sacks, four forced fumbles.

  Looks like Terrelle Pryor ran into a bunch of Ndamukong Suhs: five sacks, two interceptions, two fumbles.

  After beating Colorado State 44-6, TCU is 57-1 under Gary Patterson when holding the opposition to 17 points or less. That one loss came last year in Utah, 13-10.

Posted on: September 7, 2009 10:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2009 10:02 am
 

Updating Coaches On The Hot Seat ...

Or at least get new seat cushions, especially for Dan Hawkins, Ron Zook and Al Groh. Those three are the main targets of columnists, fans and message boards after the first week of play. (Note: This is before Miami-Florida State so this post may appear dated by Monday night.)

This ain't intramurals, brother, but it sure looked like it Sunday night in Boulder. Colorado, a 10 1/2-point favorite, was manhandled by in-state rival Colorado State 23-17. And, yes, the score was as misleading as Byron Hout's "internal discipline" at Boise State.

They're all over coach Dan Hawkins for a) sticking with his son Cody at quarterback the entire game and b) leaving one-time program building block Darnell mostly on the bench. Hawkins completed 24 of 40 for 222 yards but still looks like he's too short to see over the line when the rush comes. His dad picked him in a tight battle with Tyler Hansen to be the starter so, if nothing else, you can't doubt a dad's love.

That was one problem. The bigger one was that the Buffs weren't ready to play. Colorado State scooted off to a 17-0 lead in front of stunned Folsom Field fans. CU AD Mike Bohn had said privately that is was very unlikely that Hawkins was even in trouble going into the season. Scratch that. CU can't afford a rebuilding effort that includes a flat offense, an intimidated defense and an unprepared squad.

Zook has to be on the hot seat (again) after his team's performance against Missouri. Sure, he lost preseason All-American receiver Arrellious Benn early on but quarterback Juice Williams looked flat in a 37-9 loss to Missouri. Yes, Missouri's defense surrendered single-digit points to a BCS conference school for only the fourth time since October 2004. (Ironically, two of those performances have been against Colorado.)

Williams did not look comfortable against a defense he had skewered for 42 points in last year's meeting. On the other side, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is a national player of the week candidate after throwing for 319 yards in his first start. Gabbert averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. Chase Daniel surpassed that average only nine times in his 41 games as a Tiger.

Speaking of national players of the week, please don't overlook William & Mary's B.W. Webb. Bill and Mary's redshirt freshman picked off three passes, returning one for a touchdown, in his team's shocking 26-14 win over Virginia. The immediate reaction in the Georgia Dome press box was whether Groh would last the week.

You can catch all the action here. William & Mary's SID department immediately threw up on an online video of the game. Don't miss the seven -- yes, seven -- Virginia turnovers.

Until the ACC actually starts winning football games the league office ought to institute a media blackout. The ACC was 4-6 in the opening week against non-conference opponents. There's no truth to the rumor that BCS honchos are considering replacing the ACC with the Colonial Athletic Association.

The CAA took two ACC scalps (Richmond beat Duke) and is considered the Big Ten (roughly) of I-AA. William & Mary is ranked No. 14 and Richmond is a former I-AA national champion.

Posted on: July 22, 2009 11:05 am
Edited on: July 22, 2009 12:49 pm
 

Mountain West scraps

MWC notes as the its media days wrap up Wednesday in Henderson, Nev. ...

After TCU's Gary Patterson, new San Diego State coach Brady Hoke is easily the most outgoing head man in the league. Hoke is one of those call-me-anytime guys. We've already bonded on one subject. Hoke is familiar with the annual San Diego bacchanalian ritual known as Over The Line. For those of you familiar with Indian Ball, it's Indian Ball played on sand.

With beer and bikinis and bands and all kinds of rude stuff.

Hoke hasn't been to OTL yet but something tells me he will.

 Wyoming was picked last in the nine-team Mountain West. First-year coach Dave Christensen knew what he was getting into when he took the job. Wyoming has had one winning season this decade.

"That's where I would have voted us too," Christensen said.


  Where do Sugar Bowl-winning quarterbacks go? In the case of Utah's Brian Johnson it's the United Football League. The UFL is a new pro franchise that debuts in the fall with a handful of franchises. Johnson went undrafted in the NFL but got taken by the UFL New York franchise.

That was after turning down a job offer from Kyle Whittingham.

"I offered him a job as a full-time job coach, but he wanted to try playing," Whittingham said. "Someday I want to get him back on the staff."

  The Utes aren't going to fall off the map without Johnson. Whittingham loves the three candidates lining up to replace Johnson -- junior Corbin Louks, juco transfer Terrance Cain and early enrollee Jordan Wynn.

Louks, who threw seven passes last season, runs a 4.42. Cain came in from Blinn (Texas) College, juco home of former K-State quarterback Michael Bishop. Whittingham says Cain, "reminds me of Alex Smith."

  Utah has the longest active bowl streak having won its last eight in a row.

 Since joining the league in 2005, TCU has the best overall record, 41-11. A case can be made, though, for it being the least accomplished of the big three (including Utah and BYU). Utah has won a Sugar Bowl and has that bowl streak going. BYU has won the league twice in that span and for a time had the nation's longest winning streak. When it trailed TCU in Fort Worth last year it was the first time in two years it trailed at halftime.

 TCU was the first non-BCS school to finish ranked in the top 12 despite two losses.

  TCU was picked to win the league in a preseason media poll. Patterson already is on record as saying he prefers to come from behind. The last time his team was picked to win in the preseason it finished fifth (8-5).

  Only four schools have won conference titles in the 10-year history of the Mountain West -- Utah, TCU, BYU and Colorado State.

  The league has the best winning percentage in bowls the last five years (14-7, .667). The SEC is second (24-13, .643).

  Only five other teams in the country have won more games than Utah (22) and BYU (21) the last two seasons.

  Bronco Mendenhall on christening Jerry Jones' new mega-stadium against Oklahoma. BYU and OU will play in the first college game in the new stadium on Sept. 5.

"Our coaches and players have earned the right to be selected to for the game,"  BYU's coach said. "I viewed it like a postseason bowl game where they earned their chance because of their body of work. I was willing to trade off possibly an undefeated season ... to continue to improve us over time."

Patterson took it further. His team beat Oklahoma in 2005 and, aside from one bad first quarter, played the Sooners off their feet in 2008. The 35 points allowed in that game were the second-fewest (next to Florida) allowed against OU's offense.

"If you don't play the Oklahomas or the Texases of the world you get a false sense of where you are as a program and how high you can play," he said. "Just playing well doesn't do you any good, if you've got to win those games.

"It has to get to a point where we're recognized enough as a group. Just like Florida loses one game it doesn't make any difference. People talk about Baylor improving, SMU improving. It won't do any of us any good, it doesn't do TCU any good for those programs not to be winning." 

 

Posted on: May 11, 2009 12:19 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2009 12:32 pm
 

We'll miss you Mim

In 1993, I covered the first home game in Colorado Rockies history. Really, it was a chance to drive out to Colorado Springs and see my friend Tim Mimick.

OK, Mim was offering a couch for free so that had something to do with too. That was Mim. He was the funniest guy I ever knew. That will never change. He was smart like that. He didn't like hack comics. He liked guys who made you think, like Bill Hicks.

He was also the smartest guy I ever knew. It was his goal, with his investments, to be able to retire at age 50. In 2003, at 49, Mim told the Colorado Springs Gazette that their paycheck was no longer needed. Somewhere, Warren Buffett blushed. Mim eventually moved back to native Columbus, Neb. to be with his mother who eventually died of cancer.

Mim was diagnosed himself last April. On Sunday, he died. Hug those close to you today and tell them you love them. Squeeze them tight. I never got that chance in the end with my buddy. Because of it, there will always be a small hole of guilt in my heart.
 
There will never be a person like him. Those of us who knew the Mim Dog will always have that laugh gene that he passed on. Can't wait to see you again someday, Tim. Hope the couches are more comfortable up there.

Here is the obit of the great Timothy L. Mimick ...

Tim Mimick, a Scotus Central Catholic High School and University of Nebraska graduate who became sports editor of the Columbus (Neb.) Telegram and later a longtime, award-winning sports writer at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., died Sunday at Genoa Community Hospital of complications from cancer. He was 55.
   
"I had the greatest respect in the world for Tim," former Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry told The Denver Post from his home in Isle of Palms, S.C. "He loved doing what he did for a living. To me, he was more than a great sports writer. He was a great friend as well. He was a pleasure to work with. He always looked for the positive in everything he did. I know my players loved being covered by him because they knew Tim had great admiration for them and for the academy.
   
"He will be greatly missed."
   
Mimick graduated from Scotus in 1971 and from Nebraska in 1975. He was a Gazette sports writer from 1979 to 2003 and covered most of the newspaper's major Front Range beats, including the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the football and basketball teams at the University of Colorado, Air Force and Colorado State, and numerous events at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He retired from journalism after covering the NCAA basketball tournament in 2003 and returned to Columbus, his hometown, to be closer to his family.

    "Tim not only was the best of the best among sports writers, he was the nicest person I've ever met," said Mike Burrows, a 1975 graduate of Columbus High School who worked with Mimick in Colorado Springs and now is with The Post sports department. "He displayed extraordinary courage during the last year of his life. Not once did he complain about being seriously ill. Not once. I'll never forget that, and I'll never forget Tim. Knowing him truly was a blessing."

    Mimick's work for the Colorado Springs newspaper took him to many high-profile events, including the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL and NBA playoffs. One of the big thrills of his journalism career in Colorado Springs was covering Air Force's stunning 23-11 upset of Ohio State in the 1990 Liberty Bowl, where a Buckeyes senior safety named Bo Pelini, now Nebraska's football coach, played the last game of his college career.

    "Talent alone didn't make Tim a special sports writer," said DeBerry, the winningest coach in the history of military academy football. "Tim was a special sports writer also because he was a special person. And it showed in his work. Every time Tim walked into my office, I knew my day would be better because of him being there. He was a great man. His family had every reason to be proud of him.

    "Please keep Tim and his family in your prayers," DeBerry said.

 

 

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: October 29, 2008 10:44 am
Edited on: October 29, 2008 2:11 pm
 

National notes

Breaking news out of Happy Valley: You don't have to be a linguist to figure out Joe Paterno said a mouthful this week after getting his ailing hip checked.

"I want to find out from (doctors) what needs to be done," Joe said, "and get it done as soon as I can after the season is over so I can get on the road to recruit."

Recruiting? For, like, 2009? There you have it, in case you're wondering if JoePa is going to hang up the white socks. The Penn State president's office had no comment. (OK, kidding on that last one).

 Minnesota was a national embarrassment in 2007: 1-11, last in total defense. It couldn't get worse.

 

There was whispers that rookie head coach Tim Brewster was a colossal mistake. But the coach had yet to work his 
magic.

"He's the best recruiter I've been around. Period," said Texas' Mack Brown.

The two had worked together for 13 years. There was a reason Brown kept him close. Brewster could charm Warren 
Buffet out of his wallet.

"I'm just surprised he did it so early," Brown said. 

It is more than a surprise that Minnesota 7-1 and ranked 20th. From the dregs of '07, Brewster now has the Gophers 
in contention for the biggest I-A turnaround ever. The current record is an 8 1/2-game improvement. Hawaii improved 
by that margin in 1999 (from 0-12 to 9-4). Minnesota is currently eight games better than last season. If it 
finishes 10-3 it would tie the record; 11-2 and it break it.

The turnaround started, of course, with recruiting. Brewster says he brought in 45 players for official visits. Thirty-one signed, including a couple of jucos who provided immediate help. Defensive backs Traye Simmons, Tramaine Brock and Simoni Lawrence have combined for 7 1/2 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 17 passes broken up and three forced fumbles.

Quarterback Adam Weber matured. Receiver Eric Decker is tied for third nationally with 66 
receptions. Defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg is back healthy from a broken wrist.

There are those who will tell you that for all credit Brewster gets for this season, he must bear some blame for 
last season. The cupboard wasn't exactly bare when Brewster took over Glen Mason's 6-7 team in 2006 before the 
bottom fell out. Six of the 11 losses were by a touchdown or less, two in overtime.

"It was gut-wrenching," Brewster said. "We had a lot of sad Saturday evenings, a lot of hard Sundays. There's been 
nothing given to this team."

Minny has benefitted from a friendly schedule -- it misses Penn State and Michigan State -- but, hey, things were so bad last season that it isn't fair to put qualifiers on this turnaround. The defense is No. 1 in takeaways with 24.

"It's really different, especially from last year," defensive back Kyle Theret said. "We weren't even close to 
shutting down people to six points, no touchdowns."

That was the result last week in a 17-6 over slumping Purdue. Northwestern is up this week and once again the 
schedule is friendly. Wildcats quarterback C.J. Bacher is questionable with a hammy. Tailback Tyrell Sutton is out  for the season.
With games left against Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa (combined record 11-13), the Gophers could pull a complete 
turnaround and finish 11-1. A Jan. 1 bowl is not out of the question for a program that hasn't been to one since the 1962 Rose Bowl.

Brewster is one of those worker bees who finally got his shot. There were a lot of raised eyebrows when the Denver 
Broncos tight ends coach got a Big Ten job. But Brewster came well recommended. He lists his biggest influences as 
Brown, Mike Shanahan and Marty Schottenheimer. His son Nolan plays at Texas.

Armed with momentum, Brewster can't let it slip. TCF Bank Stadium, the result of a long-time Mason crusade, opens 
next season. It will be a palace, the first new Big Ten stadium built in 49 years. Open-air football in Minnesota 
sure beats the Metrodome no matter what the temperature.

"It's just not a collegiate environment. It's a pro environment," Brewster said. "The average game day temperature 
at the University of Minnesota through November 15 is 64 degrees. It's way overplayed. Winter's winter. Cold is cold. You know what? That's a good thing."


 Handicapping the Washington job.

1. Jim Mora, Jr., Seattle Seahawks secondary coach. His head says hang on to replace Mike Holmgren. His heart says 
go to the alma mater. Please, Jim, take the U-Dub job. You are the most passionate candidate available. Mora also 
comes armed with head coaching experience, something this opening desperately needs.

2. Chris Petersen, Boise State. Has to be the No. 1 choice if Mora says no, doesn't he? Petersen can recruit 
California and can't accomplish much more in Boise. It's time for him to take a step up.

3. Gary Patterson, TCU. Defensive master-mind who, with the right offensive coordinator could be perfect for the job. Part of the Mountain West overthrow of the Pac-10. Completely happy at TCU but someday he will listen. Will he take Washington's call? 

4. Pat Hill, Fresno State. Pat would improve the defense and the get the media back but he has never won so much as 
a WAC title. Petersen's younger.

5. Troy Calhoun, Air Force. NFL experience, Pacific Northwest roots. Run-based offense that some Washington loyalists want to see return to Husky Stadium.

6. Lane Kiffin, unemployed. Still having problems identifying what Lane has actually done. The list of failed 
Raiders coaches goes out the door. Supposedly, he can coordinate an offense but this job needs soooo much more.

7. Dave Christensen, Missouri offensive coordinator. Somewhat of a flavor-of-the-month. DC has been there for eight 
years. Missouri's offense has been on the national scene for two. Christensen looks cool riding his motorcycle and 
has U-Dub ties but doesn't this opening deserve a guy with head coaching experience?

8. Mike Leach, Texas Tech.  Leach wants it. Does Washington want him?

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri. He ain't going so forget it.

 

 The finalists for the Draddy Award, also known as the academic Heisman

 

Andrew Berry, CB, Harvard -- You would expect nothing less from this former Goldman Sachs interim who participated in 
Harvard's first night game last season.

Ryan Berry, QB, South Dakota State -- Pre-med and American Dairy Association basketball clinic participant.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri -- Heisman candidate and business administration major who counts Warren Buffet among his close friends.

Brian Freeman, OT, Carnegie Mellon -- three-time student employee of the year finalist. Rock on, Brian.

Casey Gerald, CB, Yale -- Accepted to Harvard Business School and applying for Rhodes scholarship. Thank goodness 
the football thing hasn't gotten in the way.

Graham Harrrell, QB, Texas Tech -- You can't touch him (4.0 in first semester of graduate work) and you can't touch 
him (sacked only three times this season).

Quin Harris, LB, Louisiana Tech -- Graduated magna cum laude in clinical kinesiology.

Jeff Horinek, LB, Colorado State -- Seems to have mastered in football his areas of post graduate interest: 
nutrition and biomechanics.

Ryan Kees, DE, St. Cloud State -- Pride of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Alex Mack, C, Cal -- Pancakes, knockdowns and magna cum laude in legal studies.

Ryan McDonald, OL, Illinois -- Aerospace engineer major. Career should lift off. Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Greg Micheli, QB, Mount Union -- Quite the mathlete. Division II All-American and physics major.

Darryl Richard, DT, Georgia Tech -- If this guy can play for Paul Johnson, he deserves for to be on this list.

Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State -- Not everything about Ohio State is overrated.

Louie Sakoda, P/K, Utah -- Laser Foot who can drop punts inside the 20 with the best of them.

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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