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Tag:Nebraska
Posted on: November 21, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 11:14 pm
 

Why TCU's chances for a BCS bowl just improved

TCU's chances of making a BCS bowl just improved with Sunday's release of the latest BCS standings.

The Horned Frogs are teetering on the brink of being excluded from a BCS bowl and coach Gary Patterson knows it. That's the reason he went through the ESPN "car wash" over the weekend, flying to Bristol, Conn. for appearances on various ESPN platforms. Patterson was low key and stated his case to the point that he even made it to Chicago Saturday to be on the set of GameDay.

What even Patterson probably doesn't know is, as of Sunday night, that a spot looks like it is opening up for his team in the Orange Bowl. TCU's case was helped by the Nebraska's loss to Texas A&M. The Huskers could have been a potential at-large team. That possibility probably no longer exists with Nebraska having dropped to 9-2.

TCU's plight is affected by a BCS rule that allows a berth to only one automatically qualifying non-BCS school. After that, it's up to the bowls' discretion. That was the scenario last season when Boise and TCU played in the Fiesta Bowl. This year it's likely they both get in again if you assume that the top eight in the BCS win out. Here's why:

1. An Oregon-Auburn championship game creates an opening in the Rose Bowl that this year, per BCS rules, allows for the highest-ranked qualifying non-A.Q. (automatic BCS qualifier) to go to Pasadena. Given the numbers posted Sunday that is most likely Boise State. The Broncos -- fourth in the BCS -- moved within .0135 of No. 3 TCU. With two games remaining, Boise State seems destined to move into that No. 3 position.

2. Assuming Boise is in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin (winner in a three-team Big Ten tie), then it's easy to slot these teams:

Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska or Missouri vs. the Big East champ in the Fiesta.

LSU (SEC at-large) vs. Ohio State (Big Ten at-large) in the Sugar.

3. This is where it gets interesting in the Orange Bowl. There simply isn't that large of an eligible pool to match against the ACC champion (Virginia Tech, Florida State or NC State). At that point only Oklahoma State (11-2 coming off a Big 12 title game loss), Missouri (10-2 if it beats Kansas), Stanford (11-1 if it wins out) and TCU  (12-0 if it beats New Mexico) would likely be eligible for a BCS berth. Every other team would have at least three losses or, like Michigan State, be shut out because its conference already had the limit of two BCS teams.

Remember that the Orange is very sensitive to attendance. It needs two teams who can guarantee a sellout (or come close to guaranteeing) a sellout. That seemingly eliminates Stanford and Missouri. Stanford would be traveling across the country. Only one Pac-10 team (USC in 2003) has played in the Orange Bowl in a non-championship BCS year since 1985. Missouri has a notoriously mediocre fan following in bowls.

That leaves only TCU, not exactly an attendance draw but a better team than any of the other candidates. Virginia Tech-TCU doesn't quite stir the blood the same way that, say, LSU-TCU does but in my scenario the Sugar is not going to pass up a chance for a rematch of the 2008 BCS title game (LSU-Ohio State).

In my scenario, everyone is happy -- TCU, the BCS -- which doesn't have to take a load of ---- for leaving out the Horned Frogs -- and my man Patterson. Once again, the biggest development of Saturday was Nebraska being eliminated. If the Huskers had won that created the unsavory scenario involving the Orange Bowl. The bowl possibly would have had to choose between a two-loss Nebraska and an undefeated TCU. Isn't it great how things work out?

Once again, recapping why TCU fans should be happy if the top four win out:

BCS championship game: Oregon-Auburn

Rose: Boise State-Wisconsin (assuming Badgers win three-way tiebreaker)

Fiesta: Big 12 (Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Nebraska/Missouri) vs. Big East (too many possibilities even to post on the Internet)

Sugar: LSU-Ohio State

Orange: ACC (Virginia Tech/Florida State/NC State)-TCU

Top eight in the BCS as of Sunday:

1. Oregon, 10-0
2. Auburn, 11-0
3. TCU, 11-0
4. Boise State, 10-0
5. LSU, 10-1
6. Stanford, 10-1
7. Wisconsin, 10-1
8. Ohio State, 10-1

Posted on: October 31, 2010 5:01 pm
 

The Day After In College Football

Brian Kelly never could have foreseen his first few months on the job at Notre Dame.

The scope of the rebuilding job is obviously bigger than anyone imagined. His quarterback Dayne Crist, the triggerman for his offense, is out for the year. The defense was a chronic problem before he arrived. The results had been spotty even before Saturday's embarrassing 28-27 loss to Tulsa.

All that pales in significance to the fact that media are openly speculating about his job security in the wake of death of videographer Declan Sullivan. After Saturday's game, Kelly surprisingly admitted it was his decision to go on with practice with Sullivan in the air.

"You have to be able to look at the weather conditions and find out whether you believe it's going to be a productive day, first," Kelly said. "We believed it to be productive, it was productive, obviously up until the tragedy."

 No blaming, no scapegoating. For now, it's all on Kelly. That's almost an admission that Notre Dame is going to have to pay some kind of settlement after the tragic accident. Liability, in a sense has been decided.

While Sullivan's family released a touching statement over the weekend, can we safely assume that there is going to be some kind of lawsuit against the school at some point?

"Quiz is very adamant in our meetings about, 'Are we going in or out [for practice]?', Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of football video coordinator Mark Quisenberry, 'and I'm only putting my tower up 20 feet if we go out.' "

Upon seeing that, a lawyer e-mailed me saying: "I would make Tressel my star witness."


It's impossible that Kelly could have predicted all that he was getting into. There have been two deaths. Recruit Matt James died in the spring when he fell off a hotel balcony during spring break. Kelly faces the task of digging out of the losing while the school deals with a lawsuit. Can any amount of winning overcome that?

* As USC took a third quarter lead over No. 1 Oregon Saturday night, an interesting possibility emerged. Had USC won, that would have whittled the last of unbeatens to four -- Auburn, Boise State, TCU and Utah. That also would have all but guaranteed one of those non-BCS schools playing for the national championship. A USC win would have meant the possibility of only one undefeated major-conference champion (Auburn). Assuming that at least one of the three non-BCSes went undefeated (TCU and Utah meet this week), one of them would probably move up enough in the BCS to play for the title.

For its champion, the SEC right now is mostly likely able to produce 1) an unbeaten Auburn, 2) a once-beaten Alabama  or 3) the SEC East champion where each team in the division already has at least two losses. In scenarios 1) and 2) (assuming a USC win), the SEC would have a team in the BCS title game. In scenario 3) it wouldn't. In fact, it's possible that two non-BCS schools could play for the title.

* The motto in the Big Ten: Now we wait. We wait for the latest BCS standings each week to see how bad Michigan State's chances were damaged by the blowout loss to Iowa. The Spartans are now tied in the Big Ten standings with Ohio State (both are 4-1). The two don't meet this season which means if they tie, the next tiebreaker for the Rose Bowl -- or possibly the BCS title game -- is highest ranked team in the BCS. Prior to Sunday night's BCS release, Jerry Palm had Ohio State significantly ahead of the Spartans.

Wisconsin, 3-1 in the Big Ten, did not play this week. It has lost to Michigan State, and beaten Ohio State. Iowa, also at 3-1, hosts Ohio State on Nov. 20.

* Nebraska pulled into a tie in the Big 12 North with Missouri and now only has to win out to get to its second straight (and last) Big 12 title game. Nebraska's remaining schedule: at Iowa State, Kansas, at Texas A&M and Colorado. Missouri's remaining schedule: at Texas Tech, Kansas State, at Iowa State, Kansas.  Anybody else notice that the road to the Big 12 North goes through Ames, Iowa? The plucky Cyclones host both Missouri and Nebraska.

Whatever happens this year at Nebraska, the Huskers are getting back to their roots. Taylor Martinez set the single-game quarterback rushing record against Kansas State. Roy Helu Jr. set the overall single-game rushing record (307 yards Saturday vs. Missouri).  According to figures supplied by Big12sports.com, Nebraska's 860 yards on its 24 touchdown runs is more than 17 I-A teams have rushed for the entire season.

* The Pac-10's exclusive 90-day negotiating window with Fox Sports begins Jan. 15 according to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. The Pac-10 and Big 12 are the next conferences to get big paydays from their rightsholders. The ACC was the last to cash in getting a $1.86-billion deal from ESPN. That pales in comparison to the SEC's $3 billion deal finalized in July 2009 but is another indicator that college football has been undervalued in the market. That's one of the reasons Jim Delany created the Big Ten Network. It's also a reason the new Pac-12 is expected to significantly increase its media rights.

* For the first time since 1979, Florida and Georgia came into the Cocktail Party unranked. The Gators beat the Dogs for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings, 34-31 in overtime. If there was ever a time for Mark Richt and Georgia to get Florida, this was it. The Gators won't stay down like this for long. Urban Meyer called it one of his biggest wins. Florida remains in control of its own destiny in the SEC East.

* Joe Paterno needs one more win for his 400th after beating Michigan.

* Quote of the day from Virginia's John-Kevin Dolce after knocking Miami quarterback Jacory Harris out of the game: "When you chop the head of a giant, the rest of the body goes with it."

Posted on: October 28, 2010 3:54 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 4:39 pm
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

Fourteen months ago they played in the season opener. It was one of those made-for-TV games moved to a Thursday night so the entire country could see Oregon take on upstart Boise State.

It wasn't a vintage Oregon team -- USC was favored to win the Pac-10 again -- but it would soon become an infamous one. Boise was in its fourth season under straight-ahead coach Chris Petersen. Oregon's Chip Kelly took the field in his first game as a head coach.

By the end of the night, Kelly probably didn't know if he'd make it to his second game. His world spun out of control after LeGarrette Blount committed one of the most heinous acts in the history of the game, punching Boise State's Byron Hout after Hout taunted him.

It's not easy to fast forward 14 months. It's mind-numbing. Boise won that night 19-8 showing further proof that it had "arrived." Oregon looked in disarray, the BCS being the BCS the Ducks could have lost all their non-conference games and still the Rose Bowl. They made it to Pasadena in much better shape setting the stage for this week.

The teams that took the field that night are now the two best in the country according to the human polls that a lot of folks put their faith in. It's complicated because the BCS standings say otherwise. For now let's embrace change as Oregon travels to USC. (Boise beat Lousiana Tech on Tuesday.) The last time a Pac-10 team other than USC was No. 1 was Washington in 1992. A WAC team hasn't been ranked this high since BYU won the 1984 national championship ...

Bad news for Auburn? In the middle of the Newtonian euphoria let WWL drop this curd in the punch bowl. Yes, Cam Newton can play quarterback in NFL, so says veteran personnel guru Gil Brandt. Bad news for Tigers everywhree: It could be after this season. Newton is four years out of high school and could, maybe should, leave after this season.

"If you drafted today and [Tim] Tebow was there and Cam Newton there who would you take?" Brandt said. "I can't compare him to anybody else." ...

Nebraska's Taylor Martinez can pass, you just didn't know it. The Huskers' quarterback entered the NCAA pass statistics this week for the first time since Week 2. Because Martinez hadn't averaged the requisite 15 passes per game to be listed in the NCAA stats, he wasn't listed in the top 100. But look at his newly listed pass efficiency numbers after a 23-for-35, five-touchdown performance against Oklahoma State: Martinez is 20th nationally, directly behind Oregon's Darron Thomas and Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien. Not bad company.

Martinez is (almost) a 60 percent passer who can run (at times). It adds up to inconsistency. If WWL were guiding Missouri's defense this week it would copy Texas' approach two weeks ago. Assign a second-level spy to Martinez and create a stalemate at the line of scrimmage. When Martinez is running wild, he takes advantage of overpursuing defenses with his 4.4 speed. Missouri's defense has better athletes than Texas. Will it matter? ...


Army (hosting VMI) is averaging 30 points (30.6) for the first time since 1985 ... What's the big deal in Chris Rainey returning to the lineup following his "time to die" blast? In the two games he did play, Florida's speedster had 16 yards in total offense ... Ole Miss' Jeremiah Masoli is one of four quarterbacks nationally to average 50 yards rushing and 180 yards passing per game. Cam Newton is not one of the four ... Missouri leads the country in red zone defense (11 scores in 21 opponents' penetration of the 20) ... It's never a good thing when the NCAA has to clear your best player two days before a game. Oklahoma State said Thursday the NCAA had cleared receiver Justin Blackmon of any NCAA wrongdoing stemming from his DWI earlier this week. The concern, no doubt, for the NCAA was where Blackmon got the tickets for Monday's Cowboys-Giants game. School officials say Blackmon was the designated driver with friends but police in Texas smelled alcohol in the car. Blackmon was cited for misdemeanor DWI for being underage. Props to coach Mike Gundy who swiftly suspended Blackmon for the Kansas State game ... Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly is having an All-American season. He leads the country with 13.9 tackles per game. Kuechly has made at least 10 tackles in 15 straight games ... TCU is the only I-A team that has not allowed a 200-yard passing game.

Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:33 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 11:10 am
 

Halfway Son of Weekend Watch List

BCS bowl projections halfway through the season:

BCS championship: Oregon* vs. Alabama*
Rose: Boise* vs. Iowa*
Fiesta: Nebraska* vs. West Virginia*
Orange: Florida State* vs. Ohio State
Sugar: Auburn vs. Oklahoma

*-automatic qualifier

Notes: Oregon and Alabama win out to advance to the championship game. Alabama beats both LSU and Auburn assuring that there will be no undefeated teams in the SEC. It then beats the SEC East champion to advance. Despite one loss, it vaults over undefeated Boise, the TCU/Utah winner and perhaps even Oregon.  It doesn't matter for the Ducks who stay in the top two because undefeated Boise, Utah/TCU can't catch it in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, other current undefeateds Auburn, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Missouri also lose locking in Oregon. Alabama would be playing for the first back-to-back national championship since Nebraska in the 1990s. Oregon would be playing for its first.

--The Fiesta Bowl would gladly welcome Nebraska which it hasn't had since 2000. West Virginia would be making a second trip to the Valley of the Sun in four years.

--The Orange Bowl gets one of its more intriguing matchups as Florida State returns to the big time returning to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2005. Ohio State has to settle for an at-large berth after failing to win a sixth consecutive Big Ten title. The Buckeyes return to the Orange for the first time since 1977.

--The Sugar is filled with two at-large participants. Oklahoma returns to New Orleans for the first time since the 2004 (2003 season) national championship game loss to LSU.


Ranking the remaining MICs

11. Urban Meyer, Florida: Let's not forget that 20 years ago, Florida football didn't matter. Post-Zooker, Meyer made it a bigger national power than it was under Spurrier.

12. Joe Paterno, Penn State: No matter how his career ends, JoePa will leave the program in great shape.

13. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech: An example of having patience with a good coach. Beamer started out terribly but the administration allowed him stay. Now he's one of the best in the country.

14. Al Golden, Temple: The nation's hottest young coach has got it back to the point where the Big East should consider inviting back the Owls.

15. June Jones, SMU: The first and only coach to lead the Ponies to a bowl game since the death penalty. That's good enough for me.

16. Mike Riley, Oregon State: Beavers win eight or nine each year and are always a factor in the Pac-10 race. Don't forget the Civil War is in Corvallis this year.

17. Larry Blakeney, Troy: In the same category as Snyder and Paterno on a smaller scale. Would Troy even exist without Blakeney?

18. Pat Hill, Fresno: Never won a WAC title but kept the Bulldogs relevant to the point that they're jumping to the Mountain West.

19. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State: It's early but all the signs are good that FSU will soon be back on the national scene.

20. Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: Like Meyer, Bronco is allowed a down year.

21. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: If the NFL doesn't come calling, Nebraska will begin winning championships again under Bo.

22. Bret Bielema, Wisconsin: Saturday's win allowed BB to make this list. Ohio State was his second win over a ranked Big Ten team. Barry Alvarez' hand-picked guy is trending upward.

23. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: The momentum has slowed since 2006 but Rutgers is back among the living under Schiano to the point that the Big Ten is sniffing around.

24. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern: Operating with a low budget against Big Ten giants, the Wildcats are more than competitive with Fitz.

Oregon set the school season scoring record Thursday in the season's seventh game. The Ducks have 386 points and are averaging more than 55 points per game ... Strange how two Big Ten programs defined themselves by invoking Vince Lombardi this week. First Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said, "It's not like he would be replacing Vince Lombardi," of the new coach after firing Tim Brewster. Then Rich Rodriguez said this about his struggling defense: "Listen, Vince Lombardi could come too and [it's] not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense." ... Ohio State (at Minnesota) hasn't lost consecutive games since 2004 ... TCU has lost one fumble this season ... Texas A&M has lost 12 consecutive televised games dating back to 2008. The Aggies play at Kansas Saturday on Fox Sports Net ...

In this Week of the Head Shot in the NFL, it's interesting to note that Arkansas' Ryan Mallett was knocked out of Saturday's game with a concussion. He practiced Tuesday and will play Saturday against Mississippi ... The last six Auburn-LSU games have been decided by six points or less ... Mississippi State is ranked for the first time in nine years ... Until BYU kicked a field goal in Saturday's 31-3 loss, TCU had not allowed a point in almost three games -- 175 minutes, 10 seconds. A third straight complete shutout would have marked the first time in college football since Boston College in 1992.

 

Posted on: October 10, 2010 11:24 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 10:44 am
 

The Day After In College Football

Les Miles is going to hell. The man has obviously traded his soul for football wins.

That's the only logical conclusion after what we saw Saturday night. A fake field goal led to the eventual winning touchdown for LSU at Florida. Not just any fake field goal. With less than a minute to go, holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his head to kicker Josh Jasper. The ball bounced once and, amazingly, right into the hands of Jasper who ran for the first down.

There was so much wrong with the play that it seemed finally Crazy Les had outfoxed himself. First, there was the question of whether Helton's flip was a forward pass. By the slimmest of margins, it was ruled a backward pass which was a key distinction. A fumble on fourth down can only be recovered by the fumbler. But since the ball was ruled a backward pass it can be advanced. Helton, the holder, was not ruled down even though his knee was on the ground for the attempt. There is a special exemption on such plays for holders who can initiate a backward pass while still being on a knee.

Of course, Miles knew on this before extending his contract with the devil that promises his soul to Lucifer in exchange for some extremely good fortune on the field. Right? Is there room on Broadway for "Damn Tigers"?

**Nebraska is back in a familiar spot, No. 2 in national rushing. Most of the improvement is because of redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez who is quickly becoming one of the program's best quarterbacks. Here is a glimpse at Martinez' dramatic effect on the offense:

Nebraska's 21 rushing touchdowns have covered 668 yards, an average of 31.8 per run. That rushing yardage surpasses the team's total on all 36 scoring plays from scrimmage last season (555 yards).

Also last season, Nebraska had six touchdown runs of 10 or more yards. This season they have 15 TD runs of 10 or more yards, 11 of 20 or more yards.
 
Martinez as a passer: Last season three of Nebraska's 16 touchdown passes were of 33 yards or longer. This season, three of five TD passes have been that long. Those five TD passes have averaged 42.3 yards. The Huskers averaged 22.7 yards per scoring pass last season.
 
Also, Martinez is averaging 34.9 yards on his nation-leading 12 rushing TDs. Denard Robinson has nine rushing touchdowns have averaged 28.7 yards.
 

**Texas A&M has had at least four turnovers in four consecutive games. That's a staggering total of 18 for the season. Only New Mexico (20) has more. Last year, 25 teams didn't turn it over 18 times all season.

**In leading the country in total offense (567 yards) and scoring offense (54.33 points), Oregon is averaging more than seven touchdowns per game. There are still three teams that haven't accumulated seven touchdowns all season (Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State and San Jose State). At the current pace, the Ducks would surpass Oklahoma's modern-day record of 702 points in a season set in 2008. Oregon is on pace to score 706.2 points in one less game (13) than OU did in '08 (14).

Despite missing a game due to a suspension, Oregon tailback LaMichael James is leading the nation in rushing (169.6 yards per game) and is on pace to run for 2,000 yards. James is also the active career leader in yards per game (133).

**After losing to New Mexico State it's hard to find another victory on the schedule for New Mexico coach Mike Locksley (career record, 1-17). New Mexico (0-6) still has to play ranked teams Air Force and TCU in the Mountain West.

**Arizona State is the worst BCS conference team in the red zone. It has scored on only 22 of its 32 drives inside the 20. Only 15 of those have resulted in touchdowns.

**Army is the only team not to have thrown an interception this season.

**In the last two seasons, Boise State's Kellen Moore has thrown 53 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

**Texas (3-2) will be trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 1999 when it plays at Nebraska this week.

Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:46 pm
 

National notes

Before we begin, here is your daily dose of Les Miles. Actually, it's the only dose of Les Miles you need for this week. If you learn anything more from this postgame video about Saturday's Unlucky 13 vs. Tennessee, let me know.


**A warning going into Week 6 ...

There is a real chance almost halfway through the season of an unprecedented logjam at the top of the BCS -- six undefeated conference champions, four of them in BCS leagues.

It's early but there is some separation and definition to the season after five weeks. Alabama is clearly the class of the SEC. Nebraska and Oklahoma are undefeated in the Big 12, and can't meet until the conference championship game. Ohio State's trip to Wisconsin in a couple of weeks suddenly looks less daunting. Boise State is going to rush through the WAC. TCU and Utah are likely to decide the Mountain West head-to-head. Oregon looks like it is going to run away with the Pac-10.

If all that happens, here is one projection of how the final BCS standings might look. Is too early? Never. The first BCS standings will be released in two weeks.

1. Alabama: With all the talk about the Pac-10's strength this season, the SEC still rules. The Tide are all but assured of playing three more ranked teams -- South Carolina, LSU and Auburn.

2. Oregon: Pollsters are already falling in love with the Ducks despite a dicey strength of schedule to this point.

3. Ohio State: Like Alabama, likely to play three more ranked teams (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan). If you think the Big Ten's strength will carry the Buckeyes into the top two, think again. Oregon's offense is stronger and will make a stronger case, especially on the road where Jim Tressel seems to play conservatively.

4. Big 12: I am well aware that Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri are also undefeated making it five in this league. I'm also projecting that, regardless, this is where an undefeated Big 12 champion would end up if everyone else wins out. Among the five Big 12 undefeateds: Kansas State plays Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Missouri plays Kansas State, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Nebraska plays  Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Missouri. Oklahoma plays only Missouri and Okie State. The Cowboys still have Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

5. TCU/Utah: The Mountain West race will come down to the teams' Nov. 6 meeting in Salt Lake City. If either finishes undefeated it will most likely finish ahead of an undefeated Boise.

6. Boise State: There was bad, bad news for the Broncos on Sunday. They were jumped in both polls by Oregon for No. 3 in the rankings despite having superior accomplishments and super schedule strength to this point. Oregon has played a I-AA (Portland State) and a team that might as well be I-AA (New Mexico). Boise has played two ranked teams, one in the top 10 on the "road" (Virginia Tech at FedEx Field).

For the previous two weeks Boise, at No. 3, had gained on No. 2 Ohio State and pulled away from the No. 4 team. After one week of WAC play -- against admittedly horrible New Mexico State -- the voters have fallen in love with Oregon and are already damning the Broncos for their schedule.

There are 18 remaining undefeated teams. Five of those (28 percent) are in the Big 12. By the end of this week there will be 16 because of head-to-head meetings (Michigan State-Michigan, Nebraska-Kansas State). Also, by the end of the week a maximum of 11 teams will have the possibility of finishing undefeated because of assured head-to-head games. After this week only four undefeated teams will be alive in the Big 12; three in the Big Ten. Only one undefeated team (at most) will be able to come out of the Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC and WAC.

**Texas is out of the AP poll for the first time in 162 weeks (2000). The streak in the coaches' poll had lasted 192 weeks. Texas, 3-2, still has games left against Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M meaning it could be headed for its worst season since before Mack Brown arrived in 1997.

**TCU posted its first road shutout of an opponent in Gary Patterson's 10 years as head coach, 27-0 at Colorado State. That's significant because Patterson is a defensive wizard whose teams have finished tops in total defense each of the last two seasons.

**Speaking of the Horned Frogs, the interest in the Big East is apparently real and reciprocal. TCU could join the league as soon as next season. One reason: There is no financial penalty to leave the Mountain West.

**Poor Jaime Hill. The BYU defensive coordinator was fired after Friday's loss at Utah State. You expect that in the SEC, but at BYU? Hill joined the staff from the CFL in 2006 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2008. BYU, 1-4, is off to its worst start in almost four decades.

Some other d-coordinators who might want to watch their backs:

Tyrone Nix, Mississippi. The Rebs got upset by Jacksonville State giving up 49 points and got beat by Vandy, 28-14. Had to hold off Kentucky 42-35 on Saturday. Rebels allowing almost 33 points per game.

Doug Mallory, New Mexico. Not really fair because his future is tied to embattled head coach Mike Locksley. The Lobos have allowed a I-A-most 35 touchdowns and 52.6 points per game.

Co-coordinators Keith Patterson/Paul Randolph, Tulsa. The Hurricane gave up 51 points at East Carolina, losing on the last play of the game. Oklahoma State put up 65 on Tulsa which is 106th in pass efficiency defense.

Ray McCartney, Wake Forest. His defense has given up 68 points to Stanford, 24 touchdowns in five games and 36.8 points per game.

**Team Schizo: Washington has lost to the worst BYU team in years, got run off its home field by Nebraska and now has beaten USC in consecutive seasons.

**Team Schizo II: Kansas lost to Baylor by almost seven touchdowns, 55-7, in Waco. Not even the locals care about Baylor, a Big 12 doormat. There were an estimated 15,000 empty seats at Floyd Casey Stadium. It's bad when your team is intimidated by the Bears.

"When I went out there, they were bigger than I thought,” KU linebacker Steven Johnson told the Kansas City Star. “I’m just like, ‘What in the world are they eating?’ ”

Posted on: September 29, 2010 2:44 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2010 5:43 pm
 

Lloyd Carr says Notre Dame will join Big Ten

Former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr has predicted that Notre Dame will eventually join the Big Ten.

Carr was speaking to an audience and said the current conference upheaval will not end in the near future. Boise State kicked off the proceedings by joining the Mountain West in June. It was quickly followed by Nebraska joining the Big Ten beginning in 2011.

Notre Dame has several game contracts going out several years, including a long-term deal to play BYU as an independent.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 7:47 pm
 

National notes

What the hell happened to the Big East?

No one was predicting a national championship this season, but things were looking up weren't they? Pittsburgh had a bonafide Heisman candidate in Dion Lewis. UConn was going to beat Michigan and begin the end for Rich Rod. West Virginia had Noel Devine. Cincinnati wasn't 12 wins good, but it was 10 wins good. Right?

The only thing good about the league at this point is that September is ending. At least the Big East can start 0-0 in October. It was 1-10 against BCS conference schools in September. Every team in the league has at least one loss. There are no ranked teams. UConn has changed quarterbacks. There has been an APB sent out for Lewis. Syracuse? There's hope. The Orange are 3-1.

Remember, this was the league that Paul Tagliabue thought was worth saving.

Here's what went (really, really) wrong.

Brian Kelly left Cincinnati. The Bearcats were thinking the worst and hoping for the best. Turns out that Kelly did have the magic touch to get a mid-major into a BCS bowl. It also turns out that the growing pains under Butch Jones were going to be significant.  A 1-3 start means the Bearcats have one less loss than they have had in last two seasons combined (four).

Rutgers never capitalized. It was almost four years ago that Rutgers lit up the nation and New York with that magic win over Louisville. The Scarlet Knights didn't follow through to win the Big East and capture that BCS berth. Greg Schiano keeps recruiting well but Rutgers has lost that Cinderella the program had. It dropped to 2-1 Saturday with a loss to North Carolina.

Ditto for South Florida. Wasn't it just three years ago that the Bulls rose to the No. 2 in the country? South Florida was a fun story for a while under fiery coach Jim Leavitt. Then they always seemed to fade in November. Leavitt got sideways with the administration and may have struck a player. A lawsuit trying to dispel that assertion is what takes most of his time lately. Skip Holtz was the right hire but it's going to take time. Actually, the Bulls might have the brightest outlook after one month. They stuck with Florida for a half and should be 4-1 heading to Morgantown on Oct. 14.

Pittsburgh underachieved again. The Panthers were a prohibitive favorite to win the league in the preseason. They still might do it but have already lost twice. Thursday's four-touchdown rout by Miami was embarrassing. There will be no 10-win repeat.

Four of the league's eight teams have switched coaches in the last two years.
Remember, continuity is a good thing.

There's always Temple and/or Villanova. The two schools have been rumored to join the league as a way of bolstering its major-market profile if and when the Big Ten gets the expansion jones again. There was a report that the league may be interested in TCU. Makes sense for both sides, sort of. If TCU loses once in the Mountain West, it could be out of the BCS running. If it loses three times (non-conference games) while playing in the Big East, it could still get a BCS bowl.

None of that fixes what's wrong now. 

The top 10 September teams (No preseason polls involved. Strictly based on accomplishments to date)

1. Alabama -- beat two ranked teams, one top 10 team on the road. No drop off after losing nine defensive starters.
2. Boise State -- beat two ranked teams, one on the "road" (Virginia Tech). No drop off after undefeated season.
3. Stanford -- Most underrated team in the country. Andrew Luck could win the Heisman. Cardinal could win the Pac-10.
4. Auburn -- Complete team now with Cam Newton.
5. Nebraska -- Defense alone could get it to national championship game.
6. Oregon -- Scorched the earth until Arizona State, then Devils handed them a game by turning it over seven times.
7. Arizona -- Win over Iowa was biggest in years.
8. NC State -- Won twice impressively on the road (Central Florida, Georgia Tech). Suddenly an ACC favorite.
9. Ohio State -- Against the only upright opponent showed flaws but still picked off four Miami passes. Still waiting for Big Ten sked.
10. Michigan -- Can't argue with 4-0 for the second straight season. Denard Robinson emerging as Heisman favorite.

The Quarter Pole

(The best after four games. Team and player)

Best of the Big East: West Virginia, Jordan Todman (UConn)
Best of the Big 12: Nebraska, Taylor Martinez (Nebraska)
Best of the Big Ten: Ohio State, Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)
Best of the ACC: NC State, Russell Wilson (NC State)
Best of the SEC: Alabama, Ryan Mallett (Arkansas)
Best of Conference USA: East Carolina, Bryce Beall (Houston)
Best of the Pac-10: Oregon, Andrew Luck (Stanford)
Best of the Mountain West: TCU, Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State)
Best of the Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee, Jerrel Jernigan (Troy)
Best of the WAC: Boise State, Kellen Moore (Boise State)
Best of the MAC: Temple, Bernard Pierce (Temple)

 
 
 
 
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