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Tag:Purdue
Posted on: March 22, 2009 7:54 pm
 

Most exciting finish in the tournament

His name is Lazar Hayward and he just took the place of Tyus Edney in the minds of Missouri fans.

In perhaps the most exciting finish to a tournament game to date, Marquette's Hayward stepped over the line while inbounding the ball against Missouri with his team trailing by two with 5.5 seconds left.

Marquette looked like it had completed a furious comeback from 16 down in the first half by taking a late lead, but Missouri's Kim English came off the bench to sink two free throws with 5.5 left. Guard J.T. Tiller had been fouled on the play but was too injured to shoot. Marquette was forced to foul, Missouri went ahead by four and that was that.

Who is Tyus Edney? He's the UCLA guard who beat Missouri in the same city (Boise) 14 years ago with an end-to-end rush. It looked like something similar was going to happen again as Hayward tried to inbound. Missouri was pressing in the backcourt but, just like 14 years ago, it failed to put a man on the ball. It didn't matter. Hayward didn't have a man open, hesitated, and let his right foot step over the line.

Missouri will take it as it heads to Glendale, Ariz. to play a Sweet 16 game. That West Regional final still shapes up to be UConn vs. Memphis, but Purdue and Missouri will have something to say about that. See you there.  

 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 2, 2008 11:17 pm
 

More coaching news from your hack-in-waiting

Nice move by Oregon to lock up Chip Kelly. Whether the move was accelerated by Syracuse's interest or not, it made sense. Kelly has been around only two seasons. It has been long enough to prove himself. In 2007, Oregon led the Pac-10 in scoring. This season, the Ducks lead the league in total offense. That's what you want out of your offensive coordinator.

Let's see, that makes five coaches in waiting: Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Florida State and Oregon.

 Sometimes all you have to do break the code in these coaching searches. Cincinnati's Brian Kelly announced Tuesday that he was staying at the school. His name had been most recently linked to Notre Dame.

 

Kelly's action signaled to me that Notre Dame had decided to keep Charlie Weis. Otherwise, Kelly wouldn't have made a grandstand move out of sticking around at Cincinnati. Sure enough, Tuesday night it was announced that Weis would be back for his sixth season.

The best option for Notre Dame might be to wait a year, suck it up, and see if it can shake loose Urban Meyer. It's going to be incredibly awkward to pursue Meyer anyway at this point. The former ND assistant has at least a BCS bowl and maybe a national championship game to prepare for in Gainesville.

ND might be wise to ride out a choppy 2009 if it allows easier access to Meyer. The coach has said on numerous occassions that Notre Dame was his dream job. That was <>before<> he found happiness in Gainesville.

One of ND's few advantages are Meyer's success, strangely enough. If he wins his second national championship in three years at Florida, what is there left to accomplish?

 We have our first confirmation that Mike Leach has shown interest in the Washington job. The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that Leach had been in Seattle, ostensibly to interview. At the the same time, Texas Tech is readying a raise and extension offer. It better hurry. If U-Dub president Mark Emmert can get past Leach's quirky ways (and wardrobe), Washington just might have its next coach.

 

Leach had stoned potential suitors until after the season so he could concentrate on football.

 Syracuse is all over the map according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. The 'Cuse has interviewed or will interview Temple coach Al Golden, Eagles assistant Mark Whipple, Bengals assistant Paul Alexander, Florida assistant Steve Addazio, Saints offensive coordinator Doug Marrone and Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.

 

Buffalo's Turner Gill and East Carolina's Skip Holtz are also still in the mix.


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 8, 2008 10:39 am
Edited on: October 8, 2008 11:11 pm
 

National notes

One day closer to the ultimate comeback by Mitch Mustain.

If you've forgotten him, get in line. Mustain was the uber-recruit from Springdale, Ark. who signed with the 
hometown Hogs, went 8-0 as a freshman starter then transferred to USC amid the Houston Nutt shenanigans. The 
transfer to USC looked curious from the start. Mark Sanchez was there. So was highly regarded Aaron Corp.

At one point this season, Mustain dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Now with Sanchez nursing an injured knee 
Mustain might get his first start with the Trojans. I have no idea the amount of rust on Mustain but it says 
something that he rose up the depth chart to be in position to take over when Sanchez got hurt against Oregon.

The latest from Tuesday's practice: Sanchez threw lightly but did not practice. With three days to go before the 
Arizona State game, that's a positive sign for Mustain.

 It looks like Joe Paterno is going to be around for a while.

This is news because 1) the Penn State coach broke his leg two years at Wisconsin, the same place Penn State will 
play on Saturday 2) the reports coming out of State College lately have painted a bleak picture of his current 
health. Paterno was noticeably limping Saturday at Purdue and had to coach again from the press box. The 81-year-old 
has been seen at practices getting around in a golf cart.

The story, often repeated, is that Paterno injured his knee attempting an onside kick during a drill. However, after 
the Purdue game he was seen wearing two different shoes and was steadying himself at the podium while speaking to 
reporters. JoePa has taken to doing his weekly coach's show from his home.

"We're a little worried," quarterback Daryll Clark said after the 20-6 victory. "His leg's been bothering him for a 
little while now. But he's still there at practices doing what he can."

Joe being Joe, he shot down speculation that he is anywhere near the end of his career.

"I can't walk like I used to walk all the time," he said. "I used to love to get up and walk five, six miles. But I 
can't do that and still go out and go to practice for a couple hours. It just wears down on me. But what I have can 
be fixed, so we'll work on it.

 
"I'm going to have to live with it for a couple of weeks, maybe more. But hey, that's why I get the big money."

There is an increasing vibe that when Penn State eventually makes a change that the new coach might now come from 
the current staff. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are the most likely 
candidates.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Joe is going anywhere. A Big Ten title or national championship run will give him 
more reason to stick around.

 Ole Miss continues its up and down season. A week after winning at The Swamp, the Rebels lost an emotional game to 
South Carolina, 31-24. That leaves them 1-2 in the SEC West with a bye week before going to Alabama on Oct. 18.

I spoke to Houston Nutt recently.

Was there any temptation to shove it in Arkansas' face after that Florida win?

Nutt: I really deep down inside haven't thought about that (like) 'Look at us now.' "

OK, so how sweet was it?

Nutt: It was very sweet. We played Florida in the championship game in Atlanta (while with Arkansas). I thought we 
had 'em there. You beat Texas, you beat Tennessee, you beat Alabama, but this one ranks so high. It was 629 days 
since this team had won an SEC game."

After beating Georgia, Nick Saban mentioned the day-by-day grind that it takes to win at this level. You have to 
agree.

Nutt: "The constant grind, that's why you need three weeks of the summer to get totally away from it"

How close are you guys to turning it around?

Nutt: "The disappointing thing is, we're still sitting at 73 scholarships. A lot of names you heard the last three 
years aren't here. You're good at defensive line, you're good at receiver. There are some holes. The biggest hole 
was the mindset."

 More on the greatest stat of the season so far ...

D&E told you earlier this week that No. 3 Missouri had not had a three-and-out this season with Chase Daniel at 
quarterback. In those 48 possessions, Mizzou has scored 33 times (28 touchdowns, five field goals). The 15 "misses" 
include five punts, four lost fumbles, three series turned over on downs, two missed field goals and one 
interception.

 Brouce Mompremier has been cleared to do conditioning a couple of weeks after he was one of three players involved 
in Black Saturday. The South Florida linebacker was among the three who each suffered serious spinal or back 
injuries.

 As mentioned in today's main story, Ball State's Dante Love will never play football again after being injured against 
Indiana. He is rehabbing and is expected to make a full recovery. Washington State quarterback suffered a 
non-surgical spine fracture.

Mompremier's got back on the practice field on a limited basis on Tuesday. His injury has been defined as 
nueroproxia, which is temporary failure of nerve conduction in the absence of structural changes, due to blunt 
injury or compression.

 Cincinnati (vs. Rutgers) and New Mexico State (at Nevada) will be the last two teams to open conference play this 
week.

 Georgia Tech freshman Jaybo Shaw completed nine of 13 passes in his first career start against Duke, all to  
Demaryius Thomas for 230 yards. That's the second-highest receiving total in school history.

 Big week for punt blocks involving guys named Carter: North Carolina's Bruce Carter blocked three punts against 
Connecticut. Navy blocked two punts resulting in touchdowns against Air Force. Navy's Blake Carter blocked a punt in 
the first half that was returned for a touchdown. In the second half, he picked up a punt blocked by teammate Bobby 
Doyle. Navy had not blocked a punt in nine years.

  Rutgers has dropped to 1-4 leading coach Greg Schiano to say he might have overestimated his talent. Maybe his 
schedule has been overrated. The Scarlet Knights have beaten two ranked opponents since Schiano took over in 2000. 
That's as many ranked teams as Vanderbilt has beaten this season.

  Texas' Mack Brown on the Big (Scoring) 12: "Every time we look up, the most phenomenal thing is to see 50 points 
in this league. Nobody is surprised. At one time, you said, 'God they scored 58.' Now people are pulling them out  
to keep it to 58.' "

  Seeing the scoring explosion a different way: The nation's top scoring team is Tulsa. Factor in time of possession and  
the Golden Hurricane are averaging a point every 28.7 seconds. No. 2 Missouri is averaging one every 28 seconds.

 How important is Oklahoma-Texas this week? Eight times in the previous 12 games during the existence of the Big 12 
the winner has gone on to win the South Division. Two other times, the loser has played for the conference title. 
The other two South Division titles have been won by Texas A&M.

 Oklahoma is the only team in the country not to lose a fumble this season.

  Washington is 0-5 for the first time in 39 years and one of only two winless teams in I-A. North Texas is the other.

  Name the 12 teams averaging both 200 yards passing and rushing and you win a sucker. Answer below.

  More about Ball State:

 It is located in Muncie, Ind. where basketball is king. The 1990 Ball State team went to the Sweet 16 before losing 
to UNLV. Muncie Central High School has won eight state championships.

When radio voice Morry Mannies went to school there in the 1950s tuition was $150 and enrollment was 4,000. Today 
there are 18,000 students

The last MAC team to be ranked was Bowling Green in November 2004.

The school was shut down three times before 1917. At that point it was bought out of foreclosure by the Ball family. 
It was originally known as Eastern Indiana Normal School. 

The famous "Boom, goes the dynamite" guy, Brian Collins, is from Ball State.

 The 12 incredibly balanced teams referred to above: Oklahoma State, Nevada, Oregon, Penn State, Tulsa, Arkansas 
State, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Fresno State, LSU and Southern Miss.

 

Posted on: September 14, 2008 1:59 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2008 10:51 am
 

Deep thoughts on a football Saturday

One last reaction from Ohio State-USC:

"I can't believe that we screwed up so badly," Ohio State offensive tackle Alex Boone told reporters. "I cannot 
believe this is second time this happened to this team. I thought this team made it clear after the national 
championship game -- all the gassers we ran, and all the running we did that we weren't going to mess up anymore. 
Apparently, that wasn't evident."

Second time?

 A lot of history has been made at Notre Dame, not a lot of it on crutches. Notre Dame is 2-0 after beating 
Michigan 35-17 and, if you believe in omens Irish fans, Charlie Weis still has another knee to tear up. Not to go ND message 
board here, but the schedule does look favorable especially if Notre Dame keeps getting six turnovers a game.

 

Sept. 20, at Michigan State; Sept. 27, Purdue; Oct. 4, Stanford. Do I smell 4-1?

 It was not a good day in the Pac-10. Washington State, Washington, UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, Stanford and Arizona lost by an 
average of 23.3 points. That includes Arizona State's overtime -- but no less humiliating -- loss to visiting UNLV 
and UCLA's mind-bending 59-0 tank job at BYU.

 

That last score has me wondering how Tennessee is feeling right now.

"A butt whoopin'. We got our butts whooped," linebacker Reggie Carter told the Los Angeles Times. "I'm going home, 
go to sleep, and tomorrow forget about it."

Easier said than done. UCLA's worst loss since 1929 was complete and had me wondering which team competed in the 
Pac-10 and which was in the Mountain West? BYU's Max Hall had seven touchdown passes in THREE QUARTERS. The 
decade-old Mountain West went 4-0 against the Pac-10 on Saturday.

 In Oklahoma's 55-14 win over Washington, Bob Stoops won his 100th game in his 122nd game as the Sooners' coach. That's the eighth-fastest to 100 in history. It's also the second-highest total for a coach in 10 seasons.

 

Barry Switzer also reached No. 100 in his 122nd game. Legend Bud Wilkinson is No. 3 on the list getting to the milestone in 111 games. Oklahoma is the only school to have four coaches with at least 100 victories -- Stoops, Switzer, Wilkinson and Bennie Owen. Stoops' teams have scored at least 50 points in 24 of his victories.

 What is it with Oregon quarterbacks and knee problems? The Ducks' season hangs in the balance after its third 
starting quarterback in 10 months went down. Justin Roper reportedly tore his left MCL against Purdue and could be 
out as long as two to four weeks. There's not a lot behind Roper. Freshman Chris Harper finished the game against 
Purdue, a 32-26 overtime victory. Bellotti says juco transfer Jeremiah Masoli and freshman Darron Thomas will also 
get looks.

 

Oregon has had enough problems lately with quarterbacks being injured. Dennis Dixon's injury derailed a possible 
national championship run. In the preseason Nate Costa suffered an ACL injury that has him out of the season.

 It almost went unnoticed that Florida State could still have to forfeit games as part of the penalties involving 
the academic scandal. If so, Joe Paterno could take a commanding lead in the all-time victories race. We're talking 
about Florida State's seven victories from 2007. The legendary coaches are tied at 375 victories apiece after Penn 
State beat Syracuse on Saturday and Florida State clobbered Chattanooga.

 

 Michigan State and Florida Atlantic combined for 20 punts and 36 incomplete passes in the Spartans' soggy 17-0 
victory. The Owls' Rusty Smith completed only eight of 34 passes.

 

 Cal became the West Coast Clemson when it failed to show up at Maryland. The Bears scored 21 fourth-quarter 
points to make it cosmetic but their 35-27 loss to the Terps was crippling. Cal was outmatched on both sides of the 
line for most of the game.

 

 Missouri has scored on its last 13 possession with Chase Daniel at quarterback (12 touchdowns, one field goal). If 
he could only stay on the field. The Tigers have boat-raced their past two opponents (Southeast Missouri State and 
Nevada) so thoroughly that Daniel has been removed in the second half of each game.

 

In that abbreviated action, Daniel has completed 40 of 46 the past two games for 663 yards and seven touchdowns. 
Against the Wolf Pack, Daniel completed 23 of 28 for 405 yards and four touchdowns.

 You knew East Carolina was due for a letdown. Patrick Pinkney threw a late touchdown pass against Tulane and the 
Pirates are 3-0 for the first time since 1999.

 

 Oklahoma State continues to amaze. The Cowboys passed only 10 times in a 57-13 victory over Missouri State. Their 
450 rushing yards were the fifth-most in school history. Okie State did this (offensively) last year but were just 
as bad on defense as they were good on offense.

 

 Looking ahead to next week, it's the SEC's world and we're only living in it: Georgia is at Arizona State, LSU 
goes to Auburn, Arkansas plays Alabama in the Ego Bowl. Oh, and apparently Florida is playing Tennessee too. That's 
three games with both teams being ranked.

 

 The best of the rest: (These teams weren't good enough to get into my top 25 but deserve mention) 1, Oklahoma 
State; 2, Vanderbilt; 3, Kentucky; 4, Nebraska; 5, TCU; 6, Notre Dame; 7, Northwestern; 8, Boise State; 9, Iowa; 10, 
Florida State; 11, Minnesota; 12, UNLV.

 

 Heisman Watch: 1, Chase Daniel, Missouri; 2, Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; 3, Max Hall, BYU.

 

 If you've got the time and the money go to The Huntley hotel in Santa Monica and take the elevator to The Penthouse. It's a Stars War bar scene of young hipsters trying to be crucially cool. The doors of the elevator opened and I immediately felt like a janitor. I can't believe places like this existed. It's a cliche of L.A. Not to drop names but someone said Jamie Foxx was there.
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.

Posted on: July 28, 2008 10:59 am
Edited on: July 28, 2008 11:00 am
 

Five things you need to know about the Big Ten...

 

1. Ohio State is really, really good: The rest of the league, not so much. In building up to this point, the Buckeyes have played in the last two BCS title games. This is the team that was supposed to win it all. As long as the SEC doesn't show (Ohio State is 0-9 vs. the conference in bowl games) the Bucks should win the national championship.

Meanwhile, the rest of the league has slipped in recent years. While Ohio State is chasing its fourth consecutive conference title (third outright), no team has stepped up to challenge it. It certainly isn't Michigan (lost six of the seven to Ohio State). Iowa and Purdue have declined. Northwestern is Northwestern. The Big Ten was 2-5 in bowls last season. Only 28 players were drafted, fifth-best among I-A conferences.

2. Illinois is the IT team: It's not all about trashing the rest of the league. The Illini fired a shot across Ohio State's bow by winning in Columbus then advancing to the Rose Bowl. Ron Zook wants his previously scatter-armed quarterback Juice Williams to complete 70 percent of his passes. (Williams says he can do it). The defense should be the strength even with the loss of linebacker J Leman. If Illinois gets past Missouri in the opener this could be a special year.

3. However, Wisconsin will finish second: Bret Bielema has won 12 and nine games in his two seasons in Madison. He is loaded again this season and gets Ohio State at home. The only question is at quarterback which never seems to matter at Wisconsin. Going back to 2004, the Badgers are 25-1 at Camp Randall. Look for another January bowl.

Wisconsin is one of only three teams to play in that month each of the last four seasons. The others are USC and West Virginia.

4. JoePa doesn't know: He spelled it out at Big Ten media days when asked (again) how long he's going go. "I-D-O-N-T-K-N-O-W". The Nittany Lion In Winter is working without a contract this season. That's going to make it easier for president Graham Spanier to make a change after the season. The next question (and battle) is whether the replacement comes from inside or outside the staff.

5. Rich Rod takes off: With no proven quarterback, tailback or receiver Rich Rodriguez brings his zone read spread option to Ann Arbor. Piece of cake, right? Well, the last "outsider" at Michigan (Bo Schembechler) seemed to do OK.

Rodriguez has been well received and should finish 8-4 or 7-5 in his first season. Watch out, though, in Years 2 or  3.

  

 

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