Tag:Texas Tech
Posted on: November 16, 2008 2:25 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2008 5:36 pm
 

Texas will remain No. 3 in the BCS

With the release of the coaches poll on Sunday, it seems obvious that Texas will remain No. 3 in the BCS.

The biggest reason is that Texas passed Oklahoma in the coaches' poll. The coaches' poll had been the only BCS entity to have Oklahoma ranked ahead of Texas. The Longhorns beat Oklahoma on Oct. 11.

Texas will continue to have a slight edge over No. 4 Florida when the latest BCS standings are released mid-afternoon on Sunday. Oklahoma and USC are expected to remain 5 and 6.

Texas picked up 22 points in the coaches' poll moving up from fifth to fourth. Idle Oklahoma lost nine points and moved from fourth to fifth. The top three remain Alabama, Texas Tech and Florida. Florida picked up 26 points and also got one first-place vote in the coaches' poll.

The news is important for Texas because of a possible three-way tie in the Big 12 South. The tie would be broken by the conference selecting the highest ranked team in the BCS to play in the Big 12 title game.

Florida's situation is much clearer. It is likely headed for a winner-take-all shot for a national championship berth against Alabama in the SEC title game.

 

Posted on: November 12, 2008 11:49 am
 

National notes

The BCS bowls right now ...

BCS title game: Alabama/Florida vs. Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma
 
Orange: ACC vs. Utah/Boise
 
Fiesta: Texas/Texas Tech/Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
 
Sugar: Alabama/Florida loser vs. Big East
 
Rose: Penn State vs. USC
 
 
Notes: The SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten get two teams ... The Fiesta Bowl gets the first and third picks in this scenario ... That leaves the Sugar with the Big East chumps, er, champs ... Orange definitely gets the non-BCS team because it picks last. No one is going to take Utah or Boise ahead of it because those schools just aren't new stories.
 
 
 Your official ACC tiebreaker scenarios direct from the ACC office.

First, 10 of 12 teams are still alive for the ACC title including Duke, in last place in the Coastal Division at 4-5 and 1-4. Other than that, take a couple of Advil and read on.

Atlantic Division


Florida State (7-2, 4-2) -- beat Boston College and Maryland to finish the season and hope someone beats Wake Forest. FSU currently loses a tiebreaker to the Deacons.

Wake Forest (6-3, 4-2) -- needs to beat N.C. State and Boston College and hope someone defeats Maryland.

Maryland (6-3, 3-2) -- controls its own destiny. Beat North Carolina, Florida State and Boston College and it is in.

Boston College (6-3, 2-3) -- controls its own destiny. Needs to win at Florida State, at Wake Forest and at home against Maryland to win the division.

Clemson (4-5, 2-4) -- Can't win the division.

N.C. State (3-6, 1-4) -- Can't win the division.

Coastal Division

North Carolina (7-2, 3-2) -- win out against Maryland, N.C. State and Duke and hope someone beats Virginia Tech.

Miami (6-3, 3-2) -- win out against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and hope North Carolina loses one more game.

Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) -- Controls its own destiny by beating Miami, Duke and Virginia.

Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) -- needs to beat Miami and have North Carolina lose twice, Virginia lose to Clemson and Virginia Tech lost two of its remaining three games (one to Virginia).

Virginia (5-5, 3-3) -- needs to beat Clemson and Virginia Tech and have someone beat both Miami and North Carolina

Duke (4-5, 1-4) -- beat Clemson, Virginia Tech and North Carolina to finish 4-4 in the division. Then, have Virginia lose to Clemson and beat Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat Miami and lose to Duke and Virginia. Georgia Tech lose to Miami and have Miami lose to Virginia Tech, beat Georgia Tech and lose to N.C. State. In addition, have North Carolina beat Maryland, but lose to N.C. State and Duke.

Got all that?

 

 All is not lost for Penn State.

 

There is a convoluted way that Joe Paterno can get to the national championship game.

1. Penn State wins out to go 11-1
2. Alabama loses to at least two of the three: Mississippi State, Auburn and Florida.
3. Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma and Baylor.
4. Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma.
5. Missouri defeats Texas in the Big 12 title game.
6. USC loses once more to either Stanford, Notre Dame or UCLA.
7. Utah loses to San Diego State or BYU.

That would leave Florida No. 1 at 12-1. Bama, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and USC would each have at least two losses. An undefeated Utah might not be a threat anyway but a loss to BYU ends the Utes' hope for making a miraculous run to the national championship game.
 
The only possible No. 2 would be Penn State. Hey, I told you it was convoluted.

 That got me thinking. How DOES Utah get to the national championship game?

 

1. Penn State loses to either Indiana or Michigan State.
2. through 4. above.
5. USC loses once more.
6. At that point, it probably wouldn't matter which team won the Big 12, Texas or Missouri. It would be close with Texas having one loss and Utah being undefeated.
7. All Utah would have to do is beat San Diego State and BYU to advance to the title game.

 No matter what the standings say, it's still all about Texas in the Big 12.

 

The university is in talks to launch its own TV network. Horns TV sounds a bit inappropriate in a cable universe populated with the likes of Playboy TV, but I'm sure the school will come up with something.

Texas has the nation's largest athletic budget, somewhere north of $120 million. It made non-qualifiers a deal breaker when the conference was formed 12 years ago. Nebraska and Kansas State complained loudly but went along. Look where those programs went shortly thereafter without the benefit of non-qualifiers.

Now Texas is bidding to take over the cable universe. Makes me wonder how Michael Crabtree ever got into the end zone a couple of weeks ago.

 Tim Tebow got away with it. John Parker Wilson didn't.

 

Wilson, Alabama's quarterback, said he regretted pantomiming a cell phone call to the LSU fans following a first-quarter touchdown at Death Valley. Unlike Tebow last year at LSU, Wilson was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Tebow wasn't. Guess it depends on how innovativeness of your taunt.

"Whether it should have been a penalty or not, it doesn’t really matter," Wilson said. "It was just a bad decision, something I really shouldn’t have done."

The quarterback turned his cellie off on Thursday and didn't turn it on again until after the game on Saturday.

 They're talking contract extension for Randy Shannon at Miami. That's good news for a guy who started 2-3 after a 5-7 first season. The Canes are in contention for the ACC title (who isn't?) and should start 2009 in the top 25.

 

 Bo Pelini has waited until the week of the 11th game to break out the coveted "Blackshirts" for 11 of his best defenders.

 

Makes sense to reward the Huskers for their defense. They're 81st in total defense giving up 380 yards per game and 89th in scoring defense giving up 29.1 points.

 ESPN is in negotiations with the BCS to move all five BCS games to the cable side. I don't have a problem with all the games being on one network.  But this does allow the Worldwide Leader to increase its fees to cable companies which will be passed on to us, the consumer.

 

Posted on: November 12, 2008 10:36 am
Edited on: November 12, 2008 10:36 am
 

Weis and Leach

The walls are closing in on Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. My bud Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times fired this missle on Monday.

 Former Minnesota coach Glen Mason provided one of the colorful looks at Mike Leach to date. Mason, now with the Big Ten Network, told this story recently to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. This was from December 2006 before Minnesota and Texas Tech were going to meet in the Insight Bowl in Phoenix.

 

"We were brought to New York a while before the game to be at the opening bell (of NASDAQ) -- myself and [athletic director Joel] Maturi, and [coach] Mike Leach and [AD] Gerald Myers from Tech," Mason said.

"We had dinner at a very nice Manhattan restaurant the night before. Leach showed up in khaki pants, an Under Armour T-shirt and a sports coat. We walked around for an hour after dinner and were headed back to the hotel. Leach said he was going to stay out for a while.

"The next day, we get to NASDAQ, Leach shows up and he's in the same clothes. I honestly think he had been out all night. We all were told to say a few words but keep it to no more than 30 seconds. Maturi said something, then Myers, then me and then Leach gets the mike. He says, 'I don't have much to add, so as we say in Lubbock, 'GUNS UP!'

"He shouts it, and people on the floor hear 'guns,' and they are ducking for cover, and security is running around.

"I tell you, Leach ... he's a different sort of cat.''

 

 

Posted on: November 9, 2008 7:52 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2008 8:50 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

The BCS question of the week: If Oklahoma beats Texas Tech in two weeks ,which Big 12 team wins the South and could ultimately get to the BCS title game?

The national championship chase is basically down to six teams if you make a reach and include No. 6 (in the BCS) USC. As of this moment, it's pretty much assured that the Big 12 and SEC will meet in South Florida.

Alabama and Texas Tech remained 1-2 in the BCS standings released on Sunday. Now the intrigue: Texas moved up to No. 3, followed by Florida and Oklahoma. All three Big 12 teams in the top five have a chance to win the Big 12 South.

An Oklahoma win in two weeks would create a three-way tie for the division. (Oklahoma still has still has to go to Oklahoma State on Nov. 29) That tie would be broken by the highest-ranked BCS team at the end of the regular season.

So who gets it?

"Can't say," Jerry Palm told me Sunday afternoon.

This much we do know: Texas has a huge advantage over Oklahoma in the computers, .920-.820. Palm says, in theory, all OU would have to do is pass Texas in the computers. That's possible considering Oklahoma's stronger schedule than Texas down the stretch.

There's also a huge variable -- the human polls. Texas jumped over Oklahoma on Sunday in the Harris poll.

The outrage in all this -- at least for Texas -- is that Oklahoma lost to the Longhorns and could be playing for the Big 12 title instead of Texas.

Another scenario. Texas Tech could lose in two weeks and still win the South if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma. In that case, Texas and Texas Tech would be tied but the Red Raiders hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 After watching the quality of play in the LSU-Alabama game -- folks, it was not good -- I don't want to hear anything about how the Big 12 somehow takes a back seat to the SEC.

 

Example: In the 19 games since Ruffin McNeil took over as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator, the Red Raiders are giving up an average of 22 points and 330 yards having forced 35 turnovers.

Last season Texas Tech gave up 610 yards and 49 points to Oklahoma State. After the game Setenich resigned and was replaced by McNeil. On Saturday, Texas Tech gave up only 368 yards and 20 points.

"Our defense is never mentioned in the same breath with our offense," McNeil said. "Our offense is so consistent. That's where we're trying to get."

 Texas Tech became the second team since 1965 to beat a top 10 team the week after beating No. 1. The last team to accomplish what was Oklahoma in 1984. The Sooners beat No. 1 Nebraska, then beat No. 3 Oklahoma State.

 

 There was word circulating that the Rose Bowl would break its cast-in-stone (and broken only by the BCS) tradition of matching the Pac-10 and Big Ten.

 

There were some in the Rose administration -- just like us -- who simply did not want to see Ohio State and USC play again. Who wants to see a re-run of also-rans?

After Saturday, it looks like the Rose will be juuuuust fine. If you consider Oregon State vs. Penn State "fine." That would be a rematch of Penn State's Sept. 6 rout of the Beavers but any major bowl with Joe Paterno in it would be better than Trojans-Buckeyes.

The Nittany Lions' one-point loss to Iowa just about dropped the Big Ten out of the national championship picture. Penn State can still win out (against Indiana and Michigan State) and still capture the Big Ten.

The looming surprise is that with four weeks to go, Oregon State still controls its own destiny in the Pac-10. The Beavers stayed on track with an impressive 34-6 victory over UCLA. The pesky Beavers have Cal and Oregon at home before going to Arizona for the season-finale on Nov. 29.

That's not exactly a daunting schedule considering the Pac-10 is going to have to hustle to fill its six bowl slots. Only five teams are above .500.

Oregon State would be making its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1965.

 Nothing like sacking up for your lame duck coach.

 

Hard to tell who should be more embarrassed -- Tennessee's players for laying down to punchless Wyoming or Fulmer who couldn't squeeze a win-one-for-the skipper game out of the Vols.

Incredibly, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, almost a certainty to be fired himself, is 3-1 against the SEC.

 The ACC is the only I-A conference with at least two conference losses by every member school.

 

 How bad is the Pac-10? It is basically down to Stanford (5-5) to fill all six of its bowls. Only five teams to this point are bowl eligible. The Cardinal have to beat USC at home or win at Cal to become bowl eligible. 

 

 Happy 79th to Bobby Bowden who celebrated his birthday with a victory over Clemson that put Florida State in a tie with Wake Forest for a tie in the ACC Atlantic.

 

Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:32 am
 

National notes

What is the immediate future of Tennessee football?

I'm talking two, three years down the road. I have a nagging feeling that Tennessee could become the new Nebraska. A fallen power. Nebraska will never win three national championships in five years. Those days are over.
I'm wondering when the Huskers will challenge for the Big 12 North again. As recently as early this decade, Nebraska was still dominating the division.

Tennessee has won three SEC East titles in the past seven years. That's not bad, folks. Will the next coach do that? The school has the facilities and interest and budget to win big. How does it get that back in one of the most competitive atmospheres in the country?

 Good to see that Steve Spurrier has officially declined interest in tap-dancing on Phil Fulmer's grave, er, in the vacancy. After all, you can't spell Steve Spurrier without UT.

 Before that the Old Ball Coach took a few final jabs at his favorite target. After South Carolina beat the Vols 27-6, Steve Spurrier said: "I'm used to hearing 'Rocky Top' about 10 times. Did they play it at all? I can't remember any of it. Usually you hear that song -- maybe they only play it after they score." Ouch.

 

 USC has become a victim of its own excellence. The Trojans dropped from fifth to seventh this week in the BCS standings despite shutting out Washington 56-0. Apparently the pollsters and computers aren't impressed with the Pac-10 conference.

 

Since the BCS standings debuted, USC is 3-0 having outscored Washington State, Arizona and Washington by a combined 142-10. In that time USC has lost 7.5 percent of its BCS average (.8165 to .7551).

Three of the six BCS computers have the Pac-10 ranked no higher than fourth (Billingsley, fourth; Sagarin, sixth; Colley, seventh behind the Mountain West).

"The more we win, the worse we get," Pete Carroll said.

 BYU needs Utah to beat TCU on Thursday to have any chance of winning its third consecutive Mountain West title.

 

Where is BYU quarterback Max Hall going to be?

"Can't miss 'The Office,' Hall said before changing his story. "I don't know. I will probably pay attention to it. I will probably watch it."
 
 
 Greg Robinson has won three Big East games in four seasons at Syracuse. Two of those are over Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe. Might want to add another name to the hot list.

 This week's SEC ill feeling of the week descends upon Baton Rouge where Nick Saban makes his return as a college coach to LSU.

 

"This isn't about me," Bama's coach said.

Uh, yeah it is, Nick. It's all about you walking out on LSU for the NFL. That in and of itself isn't bad. Who among us wouldn't jump at the chance for a huge promotion?

The mistake is coming back into the belly of the beast (Death Valley!) and trying to deflect the attention. Check this comment from the SEC meetings earlier this year. The guy doesn't exactly expect a welcoming committee.

"All I know is when we had a staff meeting about who goes on what bus, who rides where and all that kind of stuff, it was pretty unanimous in our staff that when we go to LSU, nobody's riding on the bus I'm on," Saban said.

 The pandering went down to the last day for Mr. Hope and Change. Barack Obama continued to tell us what we wanted to hear without offering any substance.

 

"I think it is about time that we had playoffs in college football," Obama said during a Monday interview. "I'm fed up with these computer rankings and this and that and the other. Get eight teams -- the top eight teams right at the end. You got a playoff. Decide a national champion."

That will resonate with Joe Six Pack, which is the point of Obama's entire campaign. Hope and change are empty terms. I'm betting Mr. H and C knows as much about college football as the average cricket player.

How are you going to select the eight teams? What about the ninth team? What about the bowls? Where are the games going to be? You might want to check with the Rose Bowl, Pac-10 and Big Ten.

A lifetime of Washington experience counts more than charisma and empty promises. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, John McCain gave us 5 1/2 years in a Vietnamese prison, I believe we owed him at least four in the White House.

 Mystery team of the week. Unbeaten, No. 1 in total defense in a major conference, tied for 54th nationally in total defense. Answer below.

 

 Tyrell Fenroy of Louisiana-Lafayette became the seventh player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four seasons. He joins a list that includes Tony Dorsett, Cedric Benson and Ron Dayne.

 

 More Tennessee:

 

One of the more striking aspects of Phil Fulmer's firing is the support showed by his players.

“I just feel like I just lost one of my ribs and my kidney or something,” safety Eric Berry said. “I feel like I just lost a family member. Nobody has died, but that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

"That right there wasn't very stand up of Tennessee ... He should go out on his own terms," offensive lineman Ramon Foster said.  "If you're on the other side of the fence we hope you're happy."

 Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's letter to alumni:

 

Dear friends,


This afternoon, Coach Fulmer announced he will step aside at the conclusion of the football season. I want to express my sincere gratitude for everything he has done for the University and our program.

Coach Fulmer has been, and will continue to be, a great representative of the University and the athletic department. He has dedicated a majority of his life to our program and brought home two SEC championships and a national championship. He has secured his place as the second winningest coach in Tennessee history behind General Neyland. I personally appreciate everything he has done for Tennessee and look forward to him continuing to be a part of our family.

I hope that you will come and show your appreciation for Coach Fulmer at the Wyoming and Vanderbilt games as well as the Kentucky game on Nov. 29 when we celebrate “Phillip Fulmer Day” in Neyland Stadium.

We will begin a national coaching search immediately. We have a great University, world-class student-athletes, a tremendous fans base and first-class facilities. As a result, we will attract some of the nation’s best candidates. We will introduce a new coach to you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee football.

Sincerely,

Mike Hamilton

 

 Kentucky wishes Randall Cobbs could clone himself. In his first career start, he threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 14-13 win over Mississippi State. Cobbs also rushed for 31 yards and a touchdown.

 

He also caught a team-high three passes as a receiver and returned a few punts.

"If I were our field goal kickers, I'd be worried," offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

 Texas Tech is your mystery team of the week.

 

Posted on: November 2, 2008 2:28 pm
 

Random thoughts on a football Saturday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida has the Ol' Ball Coach back.

Younger, certainly, and less chatty. Plus, Urban Meyer doesn't have quite the swashbuckling nature of Steve Spurrier.

But he isn't far off.

Meyer no doubt hacked off Georgia -- and maybe some football purists -- with his little stage production at the end of Saturday's 49-10 victory over Georgia.

The coach called two inexplicable -- and indefensible -- timeouts in the final minute. Florida's second-team offense had the ball to run out the clock, or so we thought. At no time did backup quarterback Jeff Brantley take a knee.

Instead, Meyer called his team over to the sideline with both 44 and 31 seconds remaining.

"I wasn't paying attention to the first timeout," Florida safety Will Hill told the <em>New York Daily News</em>. "The second timeout, I'm thinking, 'That Urb is a funny guy.'"

Meyer had promised in his book "Urban's Way" that there would be retribution for Georgia's bum rushing of the field last season in the Cocktail Party. Up until that point, the teams had played it mostly straight.

The timeouts, though, were clearly calculated meant to drag out the agony for Georgia.

"(Tailback Emmanuel) Moody was running the ball real hard and I wanted to get him a couple of carries," Meyer said innocently. "Just trying to win a game."

Yeah, right. And Napoleon was trying to get his point across during this skirmishes in Europe.

Meyer gave himself away Saturday with a brief smile in the interview room. Other that, it was poker face all the way. That's the difference between him and Spurrier. The OBC always had a smirk or a wink.

Meyer has a can full of revengeful whup --- and he isn't afraid to use it.

The coach didn't endear himself to Miami fans earlier this season when he called for a late field goal in a 26-3 victory over the Hurricanes.

Miami coach Randy Shannon officially has a grudge leftover from that one. He was quoted last week as saying, "Something is going to happen," in the Florida-Georgia game. That almost put pressure on Meyer to do <em>something</em>.

"Watch that game. Don't watch ours," Shannon said. "I'm serious."

Florida got a winner when it hired Meyer four years ago. It didn't know it was getting a reasonable facsimile of Spurrier.

Meyer, though, is a bit more stealthy and charmless than the legend. This season he has put his foot on the throat of a couple rivals and pressed down. Are things even with Georgia now or do the Bulldogs retaliate at some future date? Miami won't have a chance for a few more years. The series doesn't continue until the next decade.

"You always respect the game of football," Meyer said.

Did Meyer respect it Saturday night? There is plenty of time to find out. They say what goes around comes around.  Meyer is still a young man in his 40s.

 Michigan's 33-year bowl streak is over after losing to Purdue 48-42.

 

Boilermakers' coach Joe Tiller what-the-helled-it calling for a hook-and-ladder in final minute. Purdue scored the winner with 26 seconds left.

Things are much more bleak than the last time Michigan didn't go to a bowl. That was 1974 and the Wolverines finished 10-1. Those were the days when only the Big Ten winner was allowed to go bowling, in the Rose Bowl.

 What's Tim Brewster doing throwing from deep in his own territory?

 

The Minnesota coach's decision to do just that might have cost his team a Jan. 1 bowl. Adam Weber's pass was intercepted near midfield and run in for a touchdown in Northwestern's 24-17 victory.

 Some things never change. West Virginia gave the Big East some hope with a 35-13 victory over UConn. The Mountaineers are the only team undefeated in conference play (6-2, 3-0) and have won five in a row.

 

 Just when you thought there was some sense to be made out of the ACC ... Division-leading Virginia lost to Miami in overtime. Florida State fumbled into the end zone allowing Georgia Tech to escape. Even Clemson won, beating Boston College at home.

 

The team with the ACC's best conference record, Maryland, didn't play. The Terps (6-2, 3-1) lead the Atlantic Division and are at Virginia Tech on Thursday. Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2) has a half-game lead in the Coastal.

 It didn't just seem that every big game was close, it was the truth. Nine teams in the AP top 25 were involved in games decided by 10 points or less.

 

 Oklahoma State is 8-1 for only the third time in its history over beating Iowa State 59-17. Does anyone else think the Cowboys just might be the best in the Big 12? They will get a chance to prove it going to Texas Tech this week.

 

 For the record, it was warmer in Overland Park, Kan. this weekend than it was in Jacksonville, Fla. for the Cocktail Party. First Coast, my backside. Driving through downtown to get to the stadium, I had to negotiate a bum rush of a different kind. The city can get a Super Bowl but apparently it can't take care of its indigent.

It still boggles the mind that this city has an NFL franchise and has hosted at least one NCAA Tournament first-rounder. It is not major league.

Posted on: November 2, 2008 12:28 am
Edited on: November 2, 2008 12:30 am
 

Lubbock burns to the ground

Is it possible to clinch the Heisman and the No. 1 ranking in the same play?

Michael Crabtree might have done it Saturday night.

The nation's best receiver just might have made Texas Tech the nation's best team. We won't know for sure until Sunday but the Red Raiders made their case for becoming the nation's newest No. 1 with an improbable 39-33 victory over Texas. The Longhorns simply left too much time on the clock after Graham Harrell hit Crabtree for the winning score from 28 yards out with one second left.

"I dreamt it the same way," Crabtree said. "I dreamt it in my head."

It was a dream Texas Tech thought it could never dream. The school's first victory over a No. 1 was the 500th in its history. The field was stormed twice times before the game was officially over. There's probably not a car that will be safe for the marauding hoardes in Lubbock. Turn it over, light it. Hey, it's your night Texas Tech.

Crabtree should shoot to the top of everyone's Heisman list. There's not a receiver in the country who could have caught that last ball in traffic, stayed in bounds and scored. Crabtree was last year's Biletnikoff Award winner (best receiver) but this performance made him the best player in the country. The best receiver for the best passing offense for the team that just beat No. 1. Why not?

"They tried man (coverage)," Harrell said of the last play. "Ain't a guy in the country who can man up Crab.

"He's the best player in the country, no doubt. Best receiver"

Harrell should be just a tick behind in the Heisman race. This legitmizes everything Mike Leach has done in his nine years. His run-and-shoot, spread, gimmick offense is as legitimate as Woody Hayes' three yards and a cloud of dust.

The eyes of the nation will continue to be locked on Lubbock. Oklahoma State comes calling next week. The Cowboys, losers to Texas last week, are suddenly back in the Big 12 and national championship race. So is No. 4 Oklahoma.

Here's a guess at how the top five in BCS standings will look on Sunday.

1. Alabama

2. Texas Tech

3. Penn State

4. Oklahoma

5. Texas

Other than Texas Tech, the biggest winner Saturday was Oklahoma. If it can win out and either Alabama or Texas lose, it has a chance to play for the national championship. With possibly three teams in the top five of the BCS it brings up another scenario -- a three-way tie for the Big 12 South. In that case, the team that is ranked the highest in the BCS would play for the conference championship.

 

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.

 
 
 
 
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