Tag:Hawaii
Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:04 pm
 

Boise react

No matter what you think about Tuesday night's Boise victory over Louisiana Tech, understand this: There will always be criticism.

Boise is an outsider. It is a college football nerd to legions of the sport's fans. I listen to a nationally syndicated sports talk show out of Alabama on most days. Some of the listeners literally don't believe that Boise plays what we would call football. Really, it's that bad.

So even the perfect game by the Broncos is going to be picked apart. And the 49-20 win over Louisiana Tech was far from perfect. Start with the headline in the Idaho Statesman.

I'm not damning Boise. I think you know my stance by now. I'm a Boise BCS honk. I am saying they did themselves no favors on Tuesday night. If the Broncos want to play with the big boys, they'll have to endure the national scrutiny when they don't play their best. It's a fashion show for here on out and for long stretches Tuesday, the Broncos were wearing jorts.

The nation's No. 1 defense had its worst showing (394 yards surrendered) against a middling WAC team. There were two fumbles that came in the middle of Boise scoring plays. The 29-point margin of victory was the smallest in Boise's in three WAC games.  For the first time in a month quarterback Kellen Moore had to play into the fourth quarter.

"Probably not the cleanest version of ourselves that came out," Moore said.

The hardest part of the schedule may be approaching. The next four games come against the other WAC teams with winning records -- Hawaii, Idaho, Fresno and Nevada -- combined winning percentage:  .724. The worst part: Boise disappears off the national radar as the weekend approaches. The Sunday morning story is likely to be how six undefeated teams did with games on the road. If the right ones lose, then Boise will be the story again by Sunday night when the BCS standings come out.

Until then, the lasting impression from Tuesday night: Gosh, those jorts sure do look like they're tight.

 

 

Posted on: September 26, 2010 1:54 pm
 

The Day After in college football

As the month of September closes, Texas is out of it, Boise State is in it and Notre Dame is, well, Notre Dame with a defense so suspect it ought to be arraigned.

Surprises? Shoelaces and Michigan. Oregon and its offensive napalming. Jim Harbaugh and his piling on.  Georgia slumping, Auburn soaring. "Little Giants" and one big giant -- Alabama remains No. 1 and looks like it isn't going to nudged from that spot for a while ...

**Just in time for Alabama, Florida may have found a) itself and b) a reasonable facsimile of Tim Tebow.

Celebrated freshman Trey Burton scored six times (five rushing, one passing) against Kentucky in a 48-14 win. Burton lined up mostly in the Wildcat, spurring memories of Tebow during his freshman year. The freshman had changed his number from 13 to 8. That at least gave him the mojo to go for the joy of six. Rex Grossman and Percy Harvin also wore the number. It also gives Alabama something to think about this week when the Gators come to Tuscaloosa.

More good news for the Gators: Florida is 21-4 against coaches with a national championship on their resume since Urban Meyer arrived.

**Way to wreck a Red River party: In its last two meetings to Austin, UCLA has outscored Texas 100-15 including Saturday's 34-12 decision. It was the infamous "Rout 66" in 1997 (UCLA 66, Texas 3) that paved the way for Mack Brown to come to Austin. Between the two UCLA visits to Texas, the Longhorns have been to (and won) two Rose Bowls. UCLA has been to one. Texas, of course, leads UCLA in national championships 1-0 during that time.

"I don't feel right now that we're very good at anything," Brown said after the game.

It may not get better anytime soon. Texas next two games are against Oklahoma and at Nebraska. The loss likely drops Texas out of the national championship race before the calendar turns to October. If OU wins next week, the Big 12's national championship hopes may be up to Big Ten deserter Nebraska.

**The Big Ten's lost weekend produced some predictable results -- blowouts and embarrassments. Wisconsin (over Austin Peay) and Ohio State (over Eastern Michigan) each scored 70. Purdue (to Toledo) and Minnesota (to Northern Illinois) both lost to MAC teams. Add it up and the Big Ten went 8-2 against a compilation of eight MAC teams and two I-AAs. Shameful schedule.

**Don't blame Notre Dame's Manti Te'o. After getting 21 tackles against Stanford, the Irish linebacker leads the country with a staggering 13.5 per game. ND is back, though, where it has been for the last few years in total defense -- 103rd. Only two BCS-level teams are worse, Oregon State and Wake Forest.

The No. 2 tackler is Hawaii's Corey Paredes, meaning the nation's top two tacklers are from Oahu

**Don't care if Terrelle Pryor if got six touchdowns against air (aka Eastern Michigan), he moved to the top of my Heisman list this week: 1, Pryor (four passing, one rushing, one TD reception); 2, Kellen Moore; 3, Mark Ingram; 4, Andrew Luck; 5, Denard Robinson.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 5:44 pm
 

Mailbag 9/10


This mailbag is dedicated to Nick O'Leary. It is in honor of Jack Nicklaus' grandson because the Dwyer (Fla.) High tight end and his teammates were victims of one of the royal screw jobs in football history last week.

O'Leary was suspended for two games after a middle-finger salute to the stands following a 26-22 nationally-televised loss to Cleveland Glenville at Ohio Stadium. Nicklaus was in the stands watching O'Leary and Dwyer become a victim of the officials and the camera. The only reason the kid was penalized by the Florida state high school association is that his actions were televised.

Actions that were completely understandable.

I've never seen a team jobbed by the officials as much as Dwyer was in the closing moments of that game. Replays cleared showed that O'Leary's teammate caught a 25-yard touchdown pass inbounds. When Dwyer got near the goal line for the potential game-winning touchdown, there were clock issues. Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett was ruled to have to been stopped on two quarterback sneaks. Folks, at least one of those was a touchdown.

O'Leary issued this statement apologizing, then adding, "We scored three times in the last two minutes and were never awarded a touchdown."

So, yeah, O'Leary deserves to be upset. What's this got to do with Showdown Saturday? Miami, take heart. Five days after that game, the Canes come to that same Ohio Stadium Saturday trying to right a seven-year wrong.  In keeping with the spirit of the weekend we refer any other comment to the Dwyer coach.

Jack Daniels.

 

From: Roy


No one has written the real story about BYU going independent and why it will work ... and that is the number of BYU alumni or fans who live outside of Utah. Having read many of your articles, I believe you would be the best for the research and delivery of the article.

 It would be interesting to have research done on the top schools, or all FBS schools, on how many alumni live outside of their own state. For example, I am a BYU fan and I live in California, not Utah. There are many BYU fans like me not in Utah. It would be interesting to also see how many Texas Longhorn alumni live outside of Texas, how many Florida Gator alumni live outside of Florida, or how many Ohio State Buckeye alumni live outside of Ohio.

 These schools can all get by with having local TV to reach its fan base. BYU needs national TV to reach its fan base. The only teams I think would parallel BYU's out-of-state alumni numbers are Notre Dame,

Roy:

It is not uncommon for large schools to have hundreds of thousands of living alumni. I recall doing a story once where a school had 450,000 living alumni. (Timeout: I have no idea I always write 'living alumni'. It's assumed that all alumni are living, right? OK, maybe not some of those at Notre Dame judging from a walk through the tailgaters last week in South Bend.)

The alumni figure is basically in proportion to enrollment. I would suspect that BYU has a similar number of alumni as, say, UCLA which would have a lot more than USC. While having a large alumni base helps, it also helps to have winning teams. Donors are more likely to give when a team is winning.

It is easy to conclude that Notre Dame, then, has a lot of rich alumni. In its case, a lot of rich subway alumni too.

In-state or out-state really doesn't matter. BYU has always benefitted from its worldwide fan base. One of my favorite places to visit in the islands is BYU-Hawaii on Oahu. Independence makes sense for BYU because someone is will pay for it, notably ESPN. The school has partnered up with the Worldwide Leader. There is an executive there named Dave Brown who is known as a matchmaker, arranging attractive non-conference games for the network.

BYU has a scheduling agreement with Notre Dame and the WAC. What I'm wondering is how it will get games in October and November when everyone else is playing conference games. ESPN sees value in it because BYU enhances their image, little more. I can't imagine BYU bringing huge bucks to ESPN. Having BYU just means the next time the network goes to do a deal having the Cougars gives credibility to that Worldwide Leader label.

In short, if you're on ESPN you matter.

As for BYU TV, the school's network likely will only show one or two football games and a handful of basketball games each season. You lose me in your argument when you say " ... these schools can all get by with having local TV to reach its fan base." Every major conference, including the Mountain West, has a rightsholder that broadcasts its games nationwide.

It's not until you get down to the MAC, WAC and Sun Belt level  that local television is involved. In short, BYU will succeed as an independent because ESPN believes it can sell enough advertising for its games to make the ratings work.

 


From:  John

Dennis, I understand you enjoy seeing Miami being down. To say that that the (2003 Fiesta Bowl) call was correct is ridiculous and to also to say that there were three other offenses on the same play is even more ridiculous.

Caniac:

Nothing like opening up seven-year-old wounds. I'll say it again: The play in question was a judgment call. I reasonable person can disagree. The problem was with field judge Terry Porter waiting so long to throw the flag. It indicated indecisiveness.

Also, you misread the story.  I didn't say there were three "other" infractions on the play. I said, there could have been two or three infractions total. If you look at the film, Miami's Glenn Sharpe can be called for illegal contact and defensive holding on Ohio State's Chris Gamble before the pass interference call.

If you really want to argue that Miami got screwed, I think another official in the end zone signaled incomplete pass. I think he has gone into hiding in Tibet.


From: Tagami

You assume that every reader follows sports like it matters, say, as much as the economy or world peace. When you write an opinion piece consider leading the story with the simple facts. What exactly did Reggie Bush do? Aside from your references that he may have took money and that he was to be competing as a non-compensated student-athlete... was he a good running back or a great running back? Did the money make him faster ala steroids?

Bushman:

No, but it cheated the athletes who played by the rules and competed as amateurs. I've never believed that old saw about what happened on the field matters most. If that's the case, why didn't USC use Carson Palmer of the Bengals as its quarterback in '04 and '05?

I understand the hypocrisy of kids getting nothing while the NCAA makes billions. But you've got to start somewhere with the rules.  Bush's "crimes" were so heinous that they could not be ignored. Wonder if Oklahoma cares about being beaten that night by a kid who was competing essentially as a pro? You already know Auburn's feelings from '04. It thinks it should be champion.

Steroids? Call what Reggie Bush took financial steroids.

From: Charles

Nice going on the political cheap shot at (George) Bush. Everyone, from the U.S. Congress, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, to the UN believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Chuckles:

Mission accomplished, big boy. You just made my argument for me. Why did everyone from  Congress to the Senate to the U.N. believe there were WMD? Because they were fed a pack of lies by the Bush administration which sold us the second Iraq war like it was a breakfast cereal.

New, improved Baseless War Granola!

In the aftermath of 9/11, we needed to take out our frustration on somebody. Why did that frustration contained inside the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan. I seem to recall there were some Egyptians and Saudi Arabians involved in 9/11. Oh, but wait. They're our allies.

Ask yourself, where are we eight years later with Iraq. Withdrawn, having left a shell of a country that is going to descend into chaos now that we have left. Congratulations Mr. Bush.

From: Tim

Dennis, Why did you pick Air Force over BYU, and Army over Hawaii?

Don't tell Charles, but I'm patriotic.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 3:03 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2010 3:55 pm
 

Dissecting BYU's move to independence

Maybe it started in 1996. That year BYU went 13-1 in the regular season and was ranked fifth in both polls. In the old Bowl Alliance, there was no room for the Cougars even then in the four big bowls that would become the foundation of the BCS -- Sugar, Fiesta, Orange and Rose.

That year No. 7 Penn State, No. 20 Texas (both Fiesta) and No. 10 Virginia Tech (Sugar) all got into big-time bowls before BYU.

The Cougars settled for the Cotton bowl, beat Kansas State and became the first team in major-college history to win 14 games in a season. That year, BYU finished No. 5. Florida, 12-1, won Steve Spurrier's only national championship.

That perceived injustice would lead WAC commissioner Karl Benson to lobby Congress for his schools' inclusion in the major-bowl postseason. Out of that trip to Washington D.C. eventually evolved the BCS two years later.

Or maybe it was what happened in 1999. That's when the Mountain West formed with BYU as its lead dog.

It certainly had to hit home in the last four seasons when BYU won 11 games three times, 10 games in the other season. And went to the Las Vegas Bowl each time.

It was clear that the last non-BCS school to win a national championship had to try something revolutionary to win another one. That's why it made sense for BYU to go independent in football. Everything else, the shifting of most other sports to the West Coast Conference, is an afterthought.

This was about the long-term viability of BYU football. Why did it take this radical step? Because it could. It had leverage.  Utah has been good since 2004. Boise State has had one of the country's best records since 2000. TCU just played in it first BCS bowl.

BYU has been a national power for decades. It is a true football factory. Used to be Quarterback U. Lavell Edwards, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco, all that.  It did win that national championship in '84.

It finally became time to separate itself. ESPN bought in with an eight-year agreement to televise BYU's home games. BYU already has its own network (BYU TV). Now it has its matchmaker. ESPN executive Dave Brown is one of the sport's power brokers when it comes arranging made-for-TV matchups.  That will help a lot when it comes to scheduling games. If that sounds a lot like Notre Dame and NBC, you're right.

"We're going forward with an opportunity to extend our reach, not to play it safe," AD Tom Holmoe said.

 The final straw might have been the Mountain West  "attacking" BYU last week. In an effort to keep the school in the conference (and wreck the WAC), Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson invited Fresno State and Nevada.

Before that, Benson had devised a plan to lure BYU back into the WAC by luring San Diego State, UNLV and Texas El-Paso.

The only "winner" was BYU. Alone. It had a problem with the MWC's relative anonymity. The conference isn't fully affiliated with ESPN. MWC games are shown on Versus and CBS College Sports. The MWC's conference network, The mtn., hasn't turned a profit yet. That BYU signed off on this strategy years ago to keep from having to play mid-week games hardly matters.

The WAC wasn't an option because of questions about its long-term viability after Thompson's Fresno-Nevada raid. If we've learned anything from this Summer of Sleaze it's that the only accountability is to yourself. In addition to the ESPN agreement, BYU also announced a six-game series with Notre Dame.

 "We'll do all we can to assist them in scheduling," ND AD Jack Swarbrick said. :We look forward to playing them."

The way it played out, the MWC and WAC were assured of mutual "destruction." Things broke down when Utah bolted for the Pac-10. That seriously wounded the MWC's chances of getting a temporary automatic BCS bid in 2012 and 2013. BYU knew it.

When the WAC lost Boise State, it tried an end-run to get UNLV and San Diego State, in a bold attempt to lure back BYU. When Thompson got wind of that, he tried to collapse the WAC. Fresno State and Nevada came but the result was a net loss. The MWC lost Utah and BYU. It gained Boise, Nevada and Fresno. That's hardly an even trade in the BCS' eyes. A net loss in BYU's eyes.

So where are we?  The MWC is now closer to the WAC than it is the BCS.  The WAC's best program is Hawaii -- if the Warriors don't go independent -- maybe Louisiana Tech. The glory days of Boise may be in jeopardy playing a tougher MWC schedule in the future. Even with the addition of Boise and the retention of TCU, the MWC lost most of its traction for that BCS bid.

 Halfway through a four-year evaluation process for that bid, the MWC is not certain to meet evaluation threshholds needed for an automatic BCS bid. (1. Average ranking of highest-ranked team in a conference; 2. Average conference rank in BCS; 3. Number of teams in top 25 of final BCS).

It's as if the Cuban Missile Crisis actually became a confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. Both conferences are diminished.  There are no winners. The WAC will fill in with I-AA programs, probably from the West Coast if Hawaii stays in the league. The MWC's schedule strength goes down.

BYU determined that it could make more money and perhaps get easier access to the BCS controlling the schedule.  Spreading the Mormon faith via these stand-alone games had to be a factor too. Its BCS access point will suffer (automatic only if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2, "eligible" in top 14). But as I reported earlier, the BCS and BYU have at least had conversations. Don't be surprised if football gets some kind of relief on that issue. As it stands, BYU is in the same BCS boat with Army and Navy.

"Right now the BCS is not the reason we made this move," Holmoe said.


If nothing else, BYU football is going to be a lot richer and a lot more visible. That's not something the MWC and WAC can say.

Posted on: August 23, 2010 2:44 pm
 

Have the BCS and BYU talked regarding access?

You have to assume that BYU's schedule as an independent is not a problem. At least not as big a one as I believed in the beginning.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reported last week that it was a "done deal" that BYU's football program was going indy. You don't get that far down the road without having a reasonable idea that there will be enough teams to schedule. Whether the WAC lives or dies, there's still a chance to play four to six of the remaining teams. Notre Dame could be sprinkled in every now and then. Throw in the two service academies, Army and Navy. That still leaves, at least, four games remaining.

But, again, I'm going to assume BYU has that figured out.

The real reason that BYU is in Purgatory West, rather than the Mountain West at this point is TV revenue. It's no secret the administration is not satisfied with The Mtn., the league's four-year old network which has yet to turn a profit. BYU may be talking to ESPN for both carriage of some of its games and as a partner to line up opponents as an independent.

The questions might be: What kind of deal is ESPN willing to do with BYU as an independent vs. what kind of break MWC will give BYU in terms of television exposure outside The Mtn.

Another huge reason for BYU's waffling, it is becoming clear, is its BCS access. It can line up a schedule. It can get more games on ESPN. But the only way it gets closer to a BCS bowl without having to go back to the MWC hat in hand, is to get easier access to the BCS. I have reason to believe BYU and BCS parties have talked. Could it be about improved access? As an independent BYU, along with Army and Navy, would have worst access to a BCS bowl. Those three teams would have same access point: Ranked No. 1 or No. 2, automatic. Other than, no automatic access point. Those three teams would be eligible if they finished in the top 14 of the BCS. BYU finished No. 14, its highest BCS finish, in 2009 and still was trumped by Florida, Iowa and Boise State as at-large teams.

 Remember, there are only four available at-large spots (out of 10) for independents. The other six spots (seven if Notre Dame qualifies) are taken up by the BCS conference champions.

The feeling is that BYU would have gone independent and placed its minor sports in the WAC had Craig Thompson not plucked Fresno State and Nevada. Now BYU has to determine if it wants to put its minor sports in the WAC (what WAC?), the West Coast Conference or the MWC. In the case of the last option, it's doubtful the MWC would allow BYU to put its minor sports in its league if football was independent.

Right now, no one has full leverage. BYU can't find enough games, improved access or more television money at the moment. The MWC doesn't want to lose BYU because it might lose The Mtn. Thompson wouldn't confirm there is language in the contract that allows The Mtn. to dissolve if Utah and/or BYU leave. That, however, is the assumption.

We are in Day 5 of a strange standoff.

For entertainment purposes only here are BYU's games already scheduled through 2014 (source: San Jose Mercury News).

2011

Utah
Oregon State
Texas
Utah State
Games needed: 8

2012

Oregon State
Utah State
Boise State
Hawaii
Utah
Games needed: 7

2013

Texas
Boise State
Hawaii
Utah
Games needed: 8

2014

Texas
Boise State
Utah
Games needed: 9

Posted on: August 19, 2010 2:19 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2010 2:30 pm
 

Karl Benson says WAC will go forward

The WAC commissioner spent 80 minutes on a conference call Thursday explaining why his conference would survive.

He mentioned several schools by name that would be interested in joining -- Cal-Poly, Cal-Davis, Sacramento State (already a member in baseball), Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, Montana. The WAC staff was checking what the minimum number of teams it takes to have a I-A conference. I checked the NCAA Manual a while ago and it's confusing. Not sure by the by-law if it meant six teams for a division, or six teams for a league.

However, the WAC wants to bulk up to at least eight.

Benson called the defection of Fresno State and Nevada "disappointing" and "selfish." On Wednesday, the commissioner thought he had secured BYU as a non-football member. On Thursday, his league was fighting for its life. The Mountain West raided the WAC for Fresno and Nevada as a preemptive strike to keep BYU from leaving. As of Thursday, BYU was considering its options. The school's move to independence is, in fact, not a done deal.

For a guy who has given blood in trying to keep his conference together, it was a bitter day for Benson. There are only two teams left from the last year of the old 16-team WAC in the late 1990s (San Jose State, Hawaii). From that he built a league that sent its champion to a BCS bowl three times in four years.

"We will be successful, Benson said.

"I fully expect Utah State or New Mexico State to jump from the pack and go to a bowl [in 2010].  I won't be surprised at either of those teams," he added.

What the WAC might look like in a couple of years:

San Jose State -- almost dropped football a few years ago.
Hawaii --pondering independent status itself?
Idaho -- Robb Akey led Vandals to 2009 bowl
Louisiana Tech -- Let's just say Derek Dooley got out at a good time
New Mexico State -- Named by me the worst I-A program in the country a couple of years ago
Montana -- could be the next Boise State
Texas State -- see above
Utah State -- the state of Utah could have a Pac-10 team (Utah) an independent (BYU) and this WAC member
Posted on: April 26, 2010 12:10 pm
 

NFL draft, expansion and bowls

It's pretty simple.

You’re an SEC assistant (or head coach). You go into a home. You tell select recruit that your best chance to play for a national championship and NFL football is in the SE of C!

End of argument.  No negative recruiting. No money under the table (well, maybe not). This is the not-so-secret of the SEC winning four consecutive championships. Forget all the other analysis, the NFL draft reflects why the SEC has it rolling. It has tied or led in number of NFL draftees 11 of the last 13.

The Strength Everywhere Conference had 49 players drafted last week. Think if it adds any combination of Miami, Florida State or Texas, the SEC gets stronger?

 Interesting piece in the Omaha-World Herald regarding Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman. He's more than a power broker considering he's also on the Big 12 board of directors and chairman of the BCS presidential oversight committee.

Perhaps most telling is Perlman's super conference assessment, " ... 24 teams [in a league] has been floated, though not publicly ..."

Scary.

 Thirty-five bowls? Really. That's not the most shocking aspect of the NCAA certifying a record number of bowls for the next four-year cycle.

The shock is that the NCAA reportedly has a "contingency plan" in case there aren't 70 bowl-eligible teams. Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the Holiday Bowl, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that all the slots will be filled no matter what.

"They don't have a formula yet," Binkowski was quoted as saying, "but the NCAA has told all the bowls that if there aren't enough  bowl-eligible teams, all the bowls will still be played."

That can only mean one thing: 5-7 teams in bowl games.

And just to put more fear in the bowls' hearts consider the Hawaii angle. Teams are allowed a 13th game if they play a non-conference game in the islands. Because they are playing 13-game schedules, UNLV and USC will have to win at least seven to qualify for a bowl. Unless, of course, the NCAA needs to fill those 70 slots.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Hawaii, Nebraska, SEC, UNLV, USC
 
Posted on: March 8, 2010 9:37 pm
 

Big 12 schedule analysis

(This is next installment of a continuing series analyzing the 2010 schedules of the BCS conferences)

You thought the Big 12 has been good lately? Year 15 of the conference kicks off with three familiar names at the top. At least two of the three are familiar.

Even with the loss of Colt McCoy, Texas never rebuilds (or is never allowed to). Oklahoma is over the loss of Sam Bradford as Landry Jones begins his first full season as starter. Nebraska is a fallen power making the long, slow slog back to the top. It hopes. But the Huskers are all the buzz coming off a 10-win season and sporting one of the nation's defenses -- even without a boy named Suh.

Elsewhere, there is depth throughout the Big 12. Missouri has established itself as a top 25 team every year. Texas Tech can only get better under Tommy Tuberville after Mike Leach's conduct going out the door almost ripped the program apart. Oklahoma State isn't going away with the Boone Pickens pipeline still running and Texas A&M is making strides, at least offensively. Baylor gets Robert Griffin back trying to end that pesky 15-year bowl-less streak.

Expect another national championship run, by some league team or another. A Big 12 team has been in five of the last seven BCS title games.

Game of the year: (non-conference) Florida State at Oklahoma, Sept. 11. In a sense, the suspense has been building for a decade. These teams last met in the 2000 BCS title game. Florida State is a shell of itself. Oklahoma not quite as strong as in the past. Watch for a rare Stoops vs. Stoops matchup. This time it's Oklahoma's Bob against FSU's Mark, the Seminoles new defensive coordinator. But there's so much more at stake here. This is essentially Jimbo Fisher's first real test (the opener is against Samford). It comes on the road in one of the game's most revered temples. We know FSU can score with Christian Ponder and other significant weapons. But for the Seminoles to get back to the top, it must start stopping people. God bless Mickey Andrews, but his final defense stunk. It's up to you, Mark.

Game of the year: (conference) Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 16. As goes the Red River Shootout, so goes the Big 12. Or so it seems. The winner of this game usually has the inside track to the Big 12 South and national championship contention. Texas is a roll having won four of the last five. Included in that streak is two Big 12 titles, two national championship berths, one national championship. Or as they call it in Austin, "Doing pretty good lately."

Team on the spot: Nebraska. After a 10-win, Holiday Bowl-winning season in Bo Pelini's second year, we're all wondering if the Huskers are truly back. The Flying Pelinis will go into 2010 as favorites to win the North. At least. The next step is to win the Big 12 for the first time since 1999. Nebraska was one playmaker on offense -- one -- away from beating Texas last season. Armed with a fearsome defense, the only question for Pelini is whether his offense can score enough to make 10-2 a reality. Nebraska almost pulled off the upset last year. The toughest games (Texas, Missouri) are at home. Oklahoma is off the regular-season schedule.

Toughest non-conference schedule: Colorado. No surprise here. The Buffs haven't backed off in the non-con since the Bill McCartney days. Good for building a program, not good for keeping your job. Dan Hawkins starts a win-or-else season with Colorado State, Cal, Hawaii and Georgia outside of the Big 12. That's a blood rival, a Pac-10 team that tied USC for third in the Pac-10 and a Georgia team on the rebound. The only game you'd feel confident of putting in the win column is Hawaii and even that might be a stretch. CSU has split the last four meetings. CU has split the last four against the Pac-10 on the road but hasn't won in a Pac-10 stadium since 2004. Georgia is an SEC powerhouse coming off a down year but will be favored in Boulder. A 3-1 start is recommended. A 2-2 beginning might not be enough for Hawkins who has to play Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska on the road.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Missouri. The Tigers have beaten Illinois five consecutive times. McNeese State has never beaten a team from a current BCS conference. San Diego State last beat a team from a current BCS conference in 1999. Miami (Ohio) has lost 23 of its last 26. Throw in a home game against Colorado after that and the Tigers don't have to leave the state of Missouri to start 5-0.

 

 

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