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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Stanford vs. Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

STANFORD WILL WIN IF: One of the most prolific offense in the Pac-12 will be facing a Notre Dame defense that has been stout against the run this season, allowing only 142.6 yards rushing per game and 8 rushing touchdowns on the season. This despite the fact that Notre Dame has faced option teams like Air Force and Navy this season. Of course, the service academies don't have quite the same level of talent that Stanford has on its offense, and they definitely don't have a quarterback like Andrew Luck. In his career against Notre Dame, Luck hasn't had eye-popping numbers, completing 33 of 52 passes for 436 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions in two previous games. That being said, Stanford is still 2-0 in both of those games and have done so by rushing for 223 yards per game in those contests. A formula that Stanford would be wise to follow again this Saturday, with some Luck sprinkled in for good measure.

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: This Stanford offense is too powerful to keep off the scoreboard very often, so it may be up to the Irish offense to outscore the Cardinal on the road when it comes down to it. Which is something this Notre Dame offense is capable of as long as it doesn't turn the ball over. As we saw in the Stanford loss against Oregon, this is a defense that can be beaten if you spread it out and try and beat it with speed. Notre Dame doesn't have nearly the same amount of speed on offense that Oregon does, but it can spread the Stanford defense out. Without Jonas Gray the Irish won't be able to try and grind the Cardinal defense down, but it can get the same type of effect utilizing a short passing game, while trying to hit Michael Floyd for a big play once in a while. If the Irish offense can take care of the football and give its defense time to rest on the sideline during this game, then it has a chance to pull off the upset.

X-FACTOR: Notre Dame's front seven. This will be the toughest test that Notre Dame's defense has faced this season, as the Stanford offense is built around its running game, but also has Andrew Luck who can tear your secondary apart. Which means the impetus will be on the defensive line and linebackers to not only stop the run, but to also get pressure on Andrew Luck. If the Cardinal are able to run the ball consistently and therefore give Luck all the time in the world on play-action, then the Irish aren't going to have much of a chance in this contest.
Posted on: November 22, 2011 11:38 am
 

Conference Title Race Reset, Week 13

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the regular season winding down, we'll check in on the conference title races in all 11 FBS conferences. The contenders, key games, and some early predictions on who will claim the league's automatic bowl berth.

SEC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Auburn

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Georgia (9-2, 7-1 conference) - CLINCHED

WEST CONTENDERS
1. LSU (11-0, 7-0)
2. Alabama (10-1, 6-1)
2. Arkansas (10-1, 6-1)

LSU needs: Win over Arkansas on Friday, win against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and it's on to the BCS title game for the Bayou Bengals.
Alabama needs: Win against Auburn on Saturday, an LSU loss to Arkansas. The three-way tiebreaker in the SEC is decided by BCS standings, which the Tide would likely own after an LSU loss.
Arkansas needs: To beat LSU and for Auburn to upset Alabama on Saturday. The Razorbacks would have the opportunity to move up in the BCS standings with the losses and likely earn the bid to the BCS title game.
Georgia needs: Defeat SEC West Champion in Atlanta to cause mass chaos.

Pick: LSU over Georgia

BIG 12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Oklahoma

CONTENDERS
1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 conference)
2. Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2)

Oklahoma State needs: A win over Oklahoma in the Bedlam game on Dec. 3. However, the Cowboys could clinch the conference title with an Oklahoma loss to Iowa State this weekend.
Oklahoma needs: Win out against Iowa State and Oklahoma State to claim share of Big 12 Championship and earn BCS bowl bid.

Pick: Oklahoma State

PAC-12
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Oregon

NORTH CONTENDERS
1. Stanford (10-1, 8-1 conference)
2. Oregon (9-2, 7-1)

SOUTH CONTENDERS
1. UCLA (6-5, 5-3)
2. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4)
2. Utah (7-4, 4-4)

Stanford needs: An Oregon loss on Saturday to clinch the Pac-12 North and a bid to the conference championship game.
Oregon needs: A win over Oregon State to move into a tie for the Pac-12 North, earning a championship game bid thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

UCLA needs: A win over USC clinches the Pac-12 South. A loss would result in the Bruins needing Colorado to beat Utah to avoid being jumped by the Utes.
Arizona State needs: A win against Cal and USC to beat UCLA. Even if Utah beats Colorado, the Sun Devils own the three-team tiebreaker.
Utah needs: A win over Colorado, Cal to beat Arizona State on Friday, and USC to beat UCLA on Saturday.

Pick: Oregon over Arizona State

BIG TEN
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game (Rose Bowl or National Championship)
2010 Champion: Wisconsin (Rose Bowl berth)/Michigan State/Ohio State

LEGENDS CONTENDERS
1. Michigan State (9-2, 6-1 conference) - CLINCHED

LEADERS CONTENDERS
1. Penn State (9-2, 6-1)
2. Wisconsin (9-2, 5-2)

Penn State needs: A win over Wisconsin on Saturday
Wisconsin needs: A win over Penn State on Saturday

Pick: Wisconsin over Michigan State

ACC
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Virginia Tech

ATLANTIC CONTENDERS
1. Clemson (9-2, 6-2 conference) - CLINCHED 

COASTAL CONTENDERS
1. Virginia Tech (10-1, 6-1)
2. Virginia (8-3, 5-2)

Virginia Tech needs: A win over Virginia on Saturday
Virginia needs: A win over Virginia Tech on Saturday

Pick: Virginia Tech over Clemson

BIG EAST
Champion Destination: BCS Bowl Game
2010 Champion: Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl berth)/West Virginia/Pittsburgh

CONTENDERS
1. Louisville (6-5, 4-2 conference)
1. Rutgers (8-3, 4-2)
3. Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2)
3. West Virginia (7-3, 3-2)
3. Pittsburgh (5-5, 3-2)

Week 13 Key Games: Louisville at South Florida (Friday), Pittsburgh at West Virginia (Friday), Rutgers at Connecticut, Cincinnati at Syracuse
Week 14 Key Games: West Virginia at South Florida (Thursday), Syracuse at Pittsburgh, Connecticut at Cincinnati

Louisville needs: Win at South Florida, at least one loss for Cincinnati and Pittsburgh
Rutgers needs: Win at Connecticut, at least one loss for Louisville and West Virginia
Cincinnati needs: Wins against Syracuse and Connecticut, at least one loss for Rutgers and West Virginia
West Virginia needs: Wins against Pittsburgh and South Florida, South Florida defeating Louisville
Pittsburgh needs: Wins against West Virginia and Syracuse, at least one loss for Cincinnati and Rutgers

Pick: Louisville

CONFERENCE USA
Champion Destination: Liberty Bowl
2010 Champion: UCF

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Southern Miss (9-2, 5-2 conference)
2. Marshall (5-6, 4-3)

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Houston (11-0, 7-0)
1. Tulsa (8-3, 7-0)

Southern Miss needs: A win over Memphis OR a Marshall loss to ECU clinches the East
Marshall needs: A win over ECU and a Southern Miss loss to Memphis.

Houston needs: A win over Tulsa on Friday
Tulsa needs: A win over Houston on Friday

Pick: Houston over Southern Miss

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE
Champion Destination: Maaco Bowl
2010 Champion: TCU

CONTENDERS
1. TCU (9-2, 6-0 conference)
2. Boise State (9-1, 4-1)
2. Wyoming (7-3, 4-1)

TCU needs: Having clinched a share of the title, the Horned Frogs can win outright with a victory over UNLV Dec. 3.
Boise State needs: Wins over Wyoming and New Mexico, and a TCU loss to earn a share of the conference championship.
Wyoming needs: Wins over Boise State and Colorado State, and a TCU loss to earn a share of the conference championship.

Pick: TCU

WAC
Champion Destination: Poinsettia/Hawaii/Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2010 Champion: Nevada/Boise State/Hawaii

CONTENDERS
1. Louisiana Tech (7-4, 5-1 conference)
2. Nevada (6-4, 4-1)

Louisiana Tech needs: A win against New Mexico State earns a share of the WAC title, one Nevada loss will make them outright champions. Louisiana Tech earned the head-to-head advantage with a 24-20 win over Nevada.
Nevada needs: Wins against Utah State and Idaho earn the Wolf Pack a share of the WAC title. Nevada needs to win out and a Louisiana Tech loss to be outright champions.

Pick: Louisiana Tech

MAC
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl
2010 Champion: Miami (OH)

EAST CONTENDERS
1. Ohio (8-3, 5-2 conference) - CLINCHED

WEST CONTENDERS
1. Northern Illinois (8-3, 6-1)
1. Toledo (7-4, 6-1)

Northern Illinois needs: A win over Eastern Michigan on Friday clinches the West Division thanks to the head-to-head advantage over Toledo.
Toledo needs: A victory over Ball State on Friday and a Northern Illinois loss to win the division and earn a spot in the conference championship game.

Pick: Northern Illinois over Ohio

SUN BELT
Champion Destination: GoDaddy.com Bowl + New Orleans Bowl
2010 Champion: FIU/Troy

CONTENDERS
1. Arkansas State (9-2, 7-0 conference) - CLINCHED

BOWL-BOUND: Arkansas State accepted an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. after their 45-19 win over Middle Tennessee on Saturday. After the announcement, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl offered an invitation to Louisiana-Lafayette. It will be the first time in the bowl's 11-year history a team from Louisiana will be participating.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 6:07 pm
 

The Poll Attacks: Week 12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.

With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.

AP Poll           Coaches Poll           Harris Poll           BCS

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)

Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC

Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team(s) of the week: Everyone not in the SEC

Yeah, I said it.

Overrated: Virginia Tech

  The coaches/SIDs have the Hokies 4th, the AP has them 6th and they're sitting pretty in the BCS ranked 5th. Everybody was touting this team as a dark horse national title contender in large part because of one thing: weak schedule. If you want to know how a team rises into the top five when their best win is Georgia Tech, you have your answer. The loss to Clemson looks even worse after seeing them humbled by N.C. State on Saturday as well.

California Craziness

A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.

  Wilner finds his way back into this space for putting Oklahoma 8th and Houston 20th. I know the Cougars defense isn't great but they're undefeated so why 20th? Also, Boise State is 13th behind 11th ranked Kansas State. Wilner is the only voter to put Arkansas behind Oklahoma State. I know it's slim pickings but still, Oklahoma 8th?

What were you thinking? Keith Sargeant, Gannett NJ Newspapers

  There's so much wrong with Sargeant's ballot, it's hard to figure out where to begin. Houston is 4th and Georgia, yes Georgia, is 6th. He also has TCU ranked higher than anybody (10th), Penn State 13th (for beating Ohio State? Ok...) and has USC 17th and Oregon 18th, the lowest out of anybody. Notre Dame is higher than anybody at 19th and Oklahoma falls to 21st. Yikes. Also, Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times has Oregon ranked 4th and USC 16th. Not sure how that happened.



Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:55 pm
 

Pac-12 poll reactions, Week 12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Pac-12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

4/5. Stanford

Upset Saturday was the Cardinal's best friend as they rebounded from the defacto Pac-12 championship game - a loss to Oregon - to beat Cal in the annual Big Game. Thanks to losses ahead of them, Andrew Luck's squad moved up four spots in the AP to number four and up to fifth in the Coaches. Given that Virginia Tech doesn't have the strongest resume, Arkansas plays LSU and Stanford will have plenty of eyes on them with a primetime match up with Notre Dame, it's very possible this team can climb even higher after this week and into prime BCS talk.

9/9. Oregon

All things considered, falling back just five spots and likely hosting the first ever Pac-12 Championship game are two comforting thoughts for Ducks fans after the loss to USC. At this point, Oregon figures to go forward as the top two-loss team in the country and is still being given a good amount of respect after beating Stanford. The quacks out of the Pacific Northwest aren't as loud as they were last Friday but they're still audible.

10/ N/A. USC

Welcome back, welcome back. I know it's tough to think Lane Kiffin is a good coach but he is and the talented Trojans have returned to the top 10 after their big upset win over the Ducks. Eight spots seems like a big jump for a team that lost to Arizona State but really isn't when you consider the magnitude of the win in Autzen and what happened in terms of upsets.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:42 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 12



Posted by Bryan Fischer


On Saturday it stops.

The bylaws, the scandals, the arrests, the arguing, the issues - the scars of college football -  it's all gone and it becomes just a game. When the whistle is blown there are no rankings or underdogs, just a game between the lines, two teams with 11 on either side.

Saturday seemed like a perfect reminder of that. Looking at the schedule earlier in the week, the lack of marquee match ups - just three involving two ranked teams - made it seem more like a bye week than Week 12.

As the season made - to borrow a metaphor from another sport - its final turn and moved onto the home stretch, it was looking like we were indeed destined for a week off of drama. Wisconsin beat Illinois, Michigan State rolled Indiana, Michigan put on a clinic against Nebraska, Georgia had a close but ugly win over Kentucky, Houston beat SMU handily, Arkansas steamrolled Mississippi State and shockingly N.C. State had beaten Clemson before halftime.

Then consider what happened as night fell and some of the late games got interesting, with plays happening just about every minute. A quick sampling in case you missed the drama:

- Matt Barkley hit Randall Telfer for a touchdown to put USC up 38-14 over Oregon.
- De'Anthony Thomas returned a kickoff 96 yards, and showed why he's one of the fastest players in college football.
- Eric Gordon picked off Jordan Rodgers and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to seal a 27-21 Tennessee win over Vanderbilt. Only there was mass confusion thanks to the officials.
-  A Robert Griffin III pass is deflected right into the arms of a streaking Kendall Wright for a 87-yard touchdown to tie Oklahoma 24-24.
- Kenjon Barner caps a 75-yard drive to pull Oregon to within 38-27 with over 12 minutes left in the game.
- Michael Rocco caps off a 75-yard drive in less than a minute to give Virginia a 14-13 lead over Florida State.
- Zach Maynard tosses a perfectly thrown pass to Keenan Allen to take a 10-7 lead over Stanford.
- Baylor retakes the lead 31-24 after a 10 play, 85-yard drive after another RGIII touchdown pass.
- Texas' drive stalls and the Longhorns settle for a field goal to trail 17-13.
- Barkley is picked off by the Ducks defense then score a touchdown. Two-point conversion is good (barely) and they cut USC's lead to 38-35 with 7:05 left.
- A crazy play involving Florida State's Bert Reed happens. He was ruled to have caught a ball but inbounds, running out the clock. A five minute replay takes place.
- Landry Jones throws an interception, setting up a Terrence Ganaway touchdown as Baylor goes up 38-24 on Oklahoma.
- Case McCoy is sacked on 4th-and-10 at midfield, Kansas State takes over but has to punt.
- The replay overturns Reed's play, ruling it incomplete. FSU sets up for a 48-yard field goal but Virginia players bark out signals drawing a flag. Shorter kick misses anyway, giving the Cavilers their first ever victory at Doak Walker as Mike London screams at his team to get to the locker room.
- The Trojans are in the red zone when Barkley and Marc Tyler fumble an exchange, leading to Oregon getting the ball back.
- Oklahoma can't convert a 4th-and-14, Baylor gets the ball back.
- Kansas State barely holds on but beats Texas 17-13.
- Cal hits a short field goal to extend their lead to 13-7 in the Big Game against Stanford.
- The Ducks march right down the field but Chip Kelly fails to use his timeouts leaving a 42-yard field goal to tie the game with five seconds left. It's no good allowing USC to escape with a 38-35 upset to further shake up the BCS.
- The Belldozer formation (with backup quarterback Blake Bell) scores a TD to make it 38-31 Sooners with six minutes left.
- Oklahoma gets the ball back then Bell scores his 4th touchdown of the night and the Sooners look like they're going for two. They don't but tie the game up at 38 with 51 seconds on the clock.
- RGIII finds Terrence Williams in the back of the end zone for a perfect 34-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left to give Baylor their first ever win against Oklahoma 45-38.
- Andrew Luck leads two scoring drives coming out of halftime to take a 28-13 lead over Cal.
- The Bears come right back down the field and score a touchdown, connecting on a two-point conversion to pull to within 28-21 in the 4th quarter.
- Stanford takes over seven minutes off the clock with a drive that ends in a field goal and 31-21 lead.
- Cal makes things interesting with a touchdown to pull to within 31-28 with 14 seconds left.
- Onside kick recovered, Stanford beats Cal 31-28 to win the Big Game.

That. Was. Fun.

We probably should have guessed something was up this week. Northern Illinois kicked a field goal with eight seconds left to beat Ball State 41-38 on Tuesday, rolling up 710 yards of offense in a little midweek MACtion. The story was much the same the next night as Ohio made a chip shot field goal as the gun went off to beat Bowling Green 29-28. Also on Wednesday, Western Michigan held on to beat Miami (Ohio) with both starting quarterbacks topping the 400 yard passing mark. Thursday produced a huge - relatively - CUSA upset as a terrible UAB team upset #22 Southern Miss to beat a ranked team for just the second time in school history.

North Carolina, with an interim head coach and not much to play for, gave Virginia Tech a fight with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter before the Hokies decided to pay attention on defense. It was an off night for David Wilson, who never could get going, but a solid one for quarterback Logan Thomas. He tossed two touchdowns and ran for a third to provide most of the Hokies scoring to setup a showdown next week with rival Virginia for a trip to the ACC championship. The late comeback from UNC should have been a warning that no one was safe, home or road, regardless of the conditions.

Oklahoma State rolled into Ames, Iowa as 27-point favorites but holding a heavy heart just a day after a plane crash killed the women's basketball coach and three others. It was an unspeakable tragedy for a school that had already suffered a similar one a decade before. Friday was supposed to be about the second-ranked Cowboys giving their fans something - anything - to cheer about.

But it's a game between the lines and though Iowa State came into the match up 2-4 in Big 12 play and winless in 58 tries against teams ranked sixth or better, head coach Paul Rhoads knows a thing or two about upsets. He had pulled off at least one shocker each year he was in charge of the Cyclones and was defensive coordinator of a lowly 4-7 Pittsburgh team four years ago that helped cause BCS chaos with an upset of then-No. 2 West Virginia. He threw a similar wrench into the Cowboys' plans in large part by shutting down the ground game and forcing five turnovers. Brandon Weeden put some big numbers - 42-of-58, a quiet 476 yards and three touchdowns - but threw three interceptions, his last in the second overtime to lose the game.

"We got a group of young men that put their hard hats on every day and just continue to go to work," Rhoads said. "I could not be prouder of the effort they put out tonight."

The field storming after the upset was well deserved, with Rhoads even getting hit by a fan who spilled his drink on the emotional head coach at midfield. The Iowa native took over the program from Gene Chizik after serving as Auburn's defensive coordinator the season before Chizik headed to the plains. Ironically, his upset sent cheers up in Tuscaloosa because no program stood to benefit more from the loss than Alabama.

It was the first of many on a topsy-turvy week that saw the #2, #4, #5, #7, #17, #22 and #23 in the BCS suffer a loss. As you can tell from the boom-boom nature of the plays listed above, the drama and action seemed to culminate in another perfect weekend in college football. Fitting, perhaps, that on the sport's supposed week off, it gave us the most drama-filled few days of the year.

As the Big Game was wrapping up late on the West Coast, I was trying to think of another time there was so much craziness, so much excitement, packed into just a few hours. It thought about the NCAA tournament but MLB's final day this year immediately popped into my mind right after. The country was glued to the television as pitch after pitch carried more meaning than the last. Four games determined two wild cards (and the eventual World Series winner) and three of them were tied. Three blown saves and two incredible walk-off wins had produced one of baseball's finest nights.

This weekend, and late Saturday in particular, was not quite what that Wednesday in late September was. That night for baseball does contrast however, and serve as a reminder of how great a regular season can be with a playoff still to come. The BCS proponents out there had no problem coming out and saying the system enhanced the upsets because they somehow mean more. As baseball showed us, even after 162 games and plenty more to play, nothing takes away from the drama. We're still going to watch Baylor try and beat Oklahoma for the first time ever with RGIII taking snaps. People will still tune in to see USC make an emphatic statement to the country that their time out of the spotlight is over.

It does however make the losses that much more painful. Boise State has lost three games in three years by five points thanks to walk-on kickers missing field goals. They never get a shot at playing for the national title. Oklahoma just hopes they can beat their rival and get to the same old exhibition (the Fiesta Bowl) they're used to playing in.

'Every week is a playoff'  is the line you'll see often in BCS literature. If that's the case then, Alabama would not be sitting at No. 2 in the country and set to play LSU - again - for the national title. They lost their playoff game at Bryant-Denny in the Field Goal Festival of the Century. Talk of another rematch involving Oregon was put to bed thanks to the conquering Trojans but had they won, they should have taken note that no, they can't be playing in New Orleans after losing a game earlier in the season.

Now we are left with a BCS beauty pageant. Boise could be a top five team at the end of the year but will likely play right before Christmas. Stanford might be passed over for Michigan despite the Cardinal being in the top 10 all season. The SEC is strong at the top but weak all over - as evidenced by FCS Southern Conference teams having a combined 52-34 lead on SEC teams at one point Saturday. Alas, this is the system we have.

The modeling still isn't over with a few more weeks left in the season and that should provide clarity on the situation, especially with Arkansas traveling to Baton Rouge and Alabama playing the Iron Bowl at Auburn. There's still Bedlam and championship games. This show will go on.

But a Saturday that didn't shape up to be much ended up being quite a bit thanks to what happened on the field. It's why we all love college football and why we put up with six days of arguing and rankings. 60 minutes between the lines never looked so good in week 12.

Stat of the week

USC is the first loss Chip Kelly has suffered as head coach when the opposing team has just one week to prepare. It was also his first ever home loss and the Trojans win snapped a 19 game conference winning streak and the longest home winning streak in the country.

Stats of the week

- The SEC has 9 offenses ranked 75th or worse in the country but four of the top five defenses. The former is responsible for the latter more than the other way around.

- Wisconsin had a 12 play, 27 yard drive against Illinois that took 7:11 off the clock before Montee Ball scored a touchdown. At that point, Texas A&M had scored 44 points in 8:24 against Kansas.

- FCS Georgia Southern scored 21 points and ran for 302 yards on Alabama's defense, which led the country in just about every major defensive category. Dominique Swope had an 82-yard touchdown and finished with 18 carries for 153 yards (8.5 yd ave.). In the process, Swope became just the fifth back to rush for over 100 yards against Nick Saban in his five seasons in Tuscaloosa. Alabama's scoring defense went from 7.1 points per game to 8.36 ppg afterward and the rush defense jumped from 51.9 ypg to 74.64 just from the one game.

- This is the first time since Bo Pelini's first year that Nebraska has allowed more than 40 points in a game twice in a season.

- Oregon's 24-point deficit they faced against USC was the biggest they faced since October 4, 2008, also against the Trojans.

- Via the AP, before Miami did it yesterday, no FBS team had scored less than seven points and won a road game since Auburn topped Mississippi State 3-2 in 2008.

- Five starts for David Ash, six interceptions. Ouch.

- LSU, Alabama and Arkansas are 1, 2, 3 in the AP Poll. The only other time one conference has done that in the poll era is Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado of the Big 8 in 1971.

- Kansas has - by far - the worst defense in the country. It is dead last in three major categories and is giving up 45.55 points per game and 531.45 yards per game. A sampling of the worst defenses since 2001 for comparison:

2001: Idaho 45 ppg, (Worst BCS defense: Duke 44.6 ppg)
2002: Eastern Michigan 47.2 ppg, (Kansas 42.3 ppg)
2003: Mississippi State 39.3 ppg
2004: San Jose State 42.6 ppg, (Baylor 36.9 ppg)
2005: Temple 45.3 ppg, (Illinois 39.5 ppg)
2006: Louisiana Tech 41.7 ppg, (Duke 33.8 ppg)
2007: North Texas 45.1 ppg, (Nebraska 37.9 ppg)
2008: North Texas 47.58 ppg, (Washington State 43.85 ppg)
2009: Rice 43.08 ppg, (Washington State 38.5 ppg)
2010: New Mexico 44.33 ppg, (Washington State 35.83 ppg)

Tweet of the week

"Down 22-7 in Q1, Gators DE Sharrif Floyd told teammates, "Listen it's Furman. No disrespect but it's Furman."

- Via Jason Lieser, Palm Beach Post.

Fisch's Finest

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma State

4. Arkansas

5. Stanford

6. Boise State

7. Houston

8. USC

9. Oregon

10. Virginia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Dennis Dodd will be at two games this week, starting with the big showdown on CBS between Arkansas and LSU on Friday and Missouri-Kansas on Saturday, the final game in the second-longest rivalry west of the Mississippi. I will cover two games as well, with the final Texas-Texas A&M game on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and end with the crosstown showdown between USC and UCLA. Brett McMurphy will be at the Iron Bowl as Alabama looks for revenge on Auburn and to keep their name in the national title race.

Leaning this way

Penn State at Wisconsin

This is for a trip to the Big Ten title game and there's no doubt that commissioner Jim Delany hopes Wisconsin can win and hopefully cover the two touchdowns+ spread. Penn State's offense showed signs of life in the first half against Ohio State but managed to throttle back down to nothing in the second half against an ok defense. Montee Ball and Russell Wilson have this thing over early though and the Nittany Lions can't claw their way back.

Alabama at Auburn

The Tide are ranked second in the country, the Tigers are unranked. Normally that doesn't matter when these two get together but that's just one indication of how good/bad these teams are. Neither team looked impressive against FCS foes so you wonder if they were saving a few things for this game. Still, hard to see an upset when Alabama is in the top three in the conference in every major category.

Arkansas at LSU

BCS chaos can rain supreme if the Razorbacks are able to go into Baton Rouge and pull off the upset. They will certainly be the best passing offense LSU's fantastic secondary has faced but the key will come down to protecting Tyler Wilson. If LSU turns it over a few times there is certainly a chance at a loss but it all seems unlikely for 'The Hat' to lose this close to taking a trip to Atlanta.



Posted on: November 21, 2011 11:52 am
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

1/1. LSU

You start the week as a unanimous No. 1, you beat a conference opponent (such as Ole Miss is these days) 52-3, you finish the week a unanimous No. 1.

2/2. ALABAMA

We noted last week that even if Oklahoma State lost to Oklahoma in Week 13, the Tide had enough of a cushion over the Sooners and Oregon that they'd likely ascend to the No. 2 slot in both polls no matter how impressive OU or UO might be. So what hapens when the Cowboys, Sooners, and Ducks all lose? Not only do the Tide move up to No. 2, they have a 24-point head-to-head win over the No. 3 team and the teams ranked No. 4 in either poll (Stanford in the AP, Virginia Tech in the Coaches) both have 20-point losses at home.

In other words: barring a loss to Auburn this week, the Crimson Tde are as safe at No. 2 as LSU is at No. 1.

3/3. ARKANSAS

Let's be honest: with all due respect to the Hogs, the 2011 season isn't always as much about how you play as who you play. Arkansas's faced only two opponents all season ranked in the current polls, and one of those opponents (the aforementioned Tide) smashed the Razorbacks 38-14. Is one home victory over a top-25 caliber team all season really enough to justify the team's highest ranking since 1978? This year, it is; Stanford and Virginia Tech's schedules aren't any better (both are also sporting 1-1 records vs. currently ranked teams), and Oklahoma State's lone loss is so inexplicable there's no benefit of the doubt there, either.

It's weird to say a team with Arkansas's resume deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation, but ... Arkansas deserves to be the No. 3 team in the nation. 

4/4. GEORGIA

The Bulldogs move up after ... wait, sorry, our mistake:

13/14. GEORGIA

Just got a little carried away there. Anyways: the Bulldogs move up one spot in the Coaches after Clemson's tumble, but hold steady in the AP after beging leapfrogged by USC. Despite Georgia's freshly-minted SEC East title, the Trojans deserve the love; despite the gaudy 9-2 overall record, the Bulldogs still have yet to beat a team ranked in the current top 25 (they're 0-2 in such games). As we've said for the past couple of weeks, East crown or not, we're still not sure why the AP continues to rank Georgia over a South Carolina team that has the same record and beat the Dawgs head-to-head on Georgia's own field.

14/13. SOUTH CAROLINA

As with Georgia, the Gamecocks get a Clemson-based one-spot bump in the Coaches (where USC is ineligible) but stay put in the AP. We think Kansas State deserves to move up a few notches for their outstanding road record, but otherwise, 14th/13th is about right for the Gamecocks.

And once again, those are the only five SEC teams in the poll, with Auburn in the first three of the "also receiving votes." All four of the Tigers' losses have come on the road to top 20 teams -- the Tigers have played a full quarter of the top 20 on the road, collecting a win at Carolina to go with the four defeats -- but no four-loss team makes the polls.  
Posted on: November 20, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2011 8:57 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 12



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. As expected, there have been some drastic changes after the dramatic upsets of Week 12.  For the first time since 2001, three teams in the top five of the BCS standings lost in the same weekend.  Now we are left with three teams from the SEC West fighting not only for a division title, but a shot to play for the national championship.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU:How pretty are the Tigers sitting? As a unanimous No. 1 in both BSC polls and the consensus No. 1 across the computer rankings, it's possible that LSU could lose this week's showdown with No. 3 Arkansas and still go to New Orleans for a BCS title shot. It might take a little help -- like Georgia upending the Hogs or Alabama in the SEC title game, or voters ranking the three hypothetical SEC West champs in a way that sends the Tigers to Atlanta -- but when you have this much power consolidated at the top of the BCS standings, that's the kind of advantage you earn. - Jerry Hinnen


2. Alabama: Just win, baby. Thanks to this past weekend's widespread BCS carnage, the Tide have come all the way back from their home loss to LSU to control their own national championship destiny. Defeat bitter Iron Bowl rivals Auburn this week, and they'll be all but a lock for a national title shot in the event of an LSU win ... and if Arkansas pulls the shocker and the BCS shakeout sends the Tide to Atlanta to face the Dawgs, a win there would do the trick just as well. At this point, it's hard to construct a scenario -- a dominating Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma paired with a lackluster showing vs. Auburn seems the only remotely feasible one -- in which the Tide win out and don't play for it all. - JH


3. Arkansas: Remember when the Razorbacks were going to take a sizable step back after the departure of Ryan Mallett? Instead the Hogs have climbed to BCS heights even Mallett couldn't touch, with only one win standing between Bobby Petrino's team and the sort of total standings chaos that could give them a crack at their first BCS title. Of course, that win is going to be the single hardest win to come by in college football this season: against LSU in Baton Rouge. And even with a win, the Hogs' chances would depend (and depend heavily) on how voters ranked the three SEC West teams locked in their unbreakable tie atop the division. But whatever happens vs. the Tigers, this 2011 season has proven beyond a doubt that Petrino's program isn't going anywhere as a national power. - JH


4. Oklahoma State:This is probably the best Oklahoma State could have hoped for following its loss to Iowa State. The Cowboys caught a huge break on Saturday with Oregon losing, but Oklahoma's loss hurt it as much as it helped to keep the Cowboys in the top four. Now if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma to finish the season, it may not mean as much. In other words, the biggest Auburn and LSU fans next weekend may reside in Stillwater. - Tom Fornelli


5. Virginia Tech:The Hokies may not pass the "eye test" as the fourth best team in the nation for some, but Virginia Tech's ability to close out opponents on their current six-game winning streak kept them moving up while the competition falls. There have been hiccups, like the 14-10 victory over Duke, but Frank Beamer reaches double-digit wins for the eighth straight season with the win over North Carolina. But maintaining this top ranking will be no cakewalk, as the Hokies travel to Charlottesville to face in-state rival Virginia with a berth to the ACC Championship Game on the line. - Chip Patterson


6. Stanford:The Pac-12's only one-loss team is sixth in the latest standings yet can still be shut out of a BCS bowl this season. They'll need two of the trio of Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech to lose so they can slide into the top four and ensure they're headed somewhere (likely the Fiesta). A home game against a ranked Notre Dame team this week should provide a nice boost in the final standings. - Bryan Fischer


7. Boise State:While the Broncos' toughest heartbreak undoubtedly was the loss to TCU at home a week ago, the upset specials in Week 12 twisted the knife for Boise State fans. As top teams in the nation fell one-by-one, Kellen Moore and the Broncos had to be thinking "what if" as arguably their best opportunity to move into the top 2 of the BCS standings occurs a week after their first home loss under Chris Petersen. Boise State's only hope now is for more teams to fall in the final two weeks, allowing the Broncos to sneak into an at-large bid. - CP

8. Houston:If college football made sense then Houston would be ranked second right now, as it's the only other undefeated team in the FBS along with LSU right now. Unfortunately, the BCS isn't about a level playing ground for all, and if an undefeated Boise State team or TCU team weren't good enough in recent seasons, then Houston doesn't have a chance. I mean, it's already 10-0 and it's just now cracking the top ten. - TF


9. Oklahoma:The Sooners may still be in the top ten of the BCS, but this team's title chances are gone. There's really nothing that can happen at this point that will move the Sooners from 9th to the top two over the final weeks. Still, Oklahoma still has a Big 12 title to play for which would sent it to the Fiesta Bowl. Something it has to win to reach the BCS this January because another loss against Iowa State or Oklahoma State will ruin any chance for an at-large bid. - TF


10. Oregon:The Ducks fell six spots after their home loss to USC and are out of the national title race but remain in the top 10. They still control their destiny in the Pac-12 race and are looking at a likely trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl against an average Big Ten opponent. With plenty of games to be played, Oregon can rebound and move back up in the rankings by the end of the season with two mediocre - at best - Pac-12 opponents left on the schedule. - BF

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Posted on: November 20, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 12



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: USC

It's hard to get more maligned than the Trojans were. They had their legs chopped off by the NCAA. There were plenty of doubters after back-to-back "down" years. There was no bowl at the end of the season and, to many outside of Heritage Hall, no hope. This team was loaded with enough highly recruited players that coach after coach kept calling USC the most talented team in the Pac-12 however. Still they sat at the lowest ranking in school history with an 8-2 record and couldn't even move up a spot in the polls despite teams losing ahead of them and a blow out win against Washington. It was like Rodney Dangerfield was the athletic director and Lane Kiffin was the head coach.

But this team, young and inexperienced in key spots, took the school's 'Fight On' motto and ran with it. Their losses were self-inflicted (turnovers against both Arizona State and Stanford did them in) but the wins and numbers put up were impressive. The offense is one of the best in the country led by Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and emerging star Marqise Lee. The defense is passable but improving. Yet they were a two touchdown underdog for the first time since 1998. The Trojans shocked the college football world Saturday night in Eugene, no doubt about it. Amid the chaos of a crazy week 12, USC emerged victorious and the players in cardinal and gold told everybody that their brief hiatus away from the top was over. The Trojans may not be conference champs and will sit at home with no bowl game to go to but they appear to be back, even if some insist they never left. Fight on indeed.

LOSER: Larry Scott

There was a chance the Pac-12 was in the BCS re-match discussion come Sunday morning but that ended as soon as it looked like Oregon's slow start would be too much to overcome. Thanks to Arizona State's loss to lowly Arizona, the Pac-12 South is rivaling the SEC East and ACC for mediocrity with USC ineligible. Two-loss Oregon will likely head to the Rose Bowl while one-loss Stanford's BCS chances (and millions of dollars for the conference coffers) will likely boil down to luck and some bowl committee betting on Andrew Luck. The team that can't go to a bowl has inflicted losses that hurt more than one team's perception. Then again, Scott isn't too much of a loser considering the cash that will soon flow to the league with the new media deals he deftly negotiated.

WINNER: The SEC

Let's face it, the fans on the West Coast are not best buddies with those in the Southeast section of the country. The SEC fans think the Pac-12 folks have no earthly idea what defense is while those with an ocean view think those with a gulf view have no idea what offense is. Oregon's loss ended any talk of an LSU rematch and shut the conference out of the title game discussion and partially out of the national picture. On the bright side, they're not the ACC, Big East or Big Ten.

LOSER: Oregon's swagger

The Pac-12 has been Oregon's playground the past few years. Back-to-back league titles (of the Pac-10 variety), a 19 game win streak in the conference, a trip to the Rose Bowl and national championship game. USC's dynasty was cool with the celebrities on the sidelines but the Ducks, they had a different kind of spotlight and a different kind of swagger. Uniforms? Most, um... unique in college football. The recruits love them. Offense? Check and check. If you were playing Oregon, better bring your A-game and you just might hang with them for the first half. The video production team was top-notch too, how could anyone not get pumped up after watching something like this:



The swagger that every Oregon player, every Duck fan, carried around with them after Saturday is still there. There is, without a doubt, a significant part of the luster taken off of the program after the loss to USC however. Boise State, Auburn and LSU proved they were beatable but the Trojans proved they were no longer to be feared afer going into Autzen and smacking the Ducks around for three quarters and holding on in the fourth. Another conference title and Rose Bowl berth likely await the men in green/yellow/black/silver/etc. come January but the recent loss meant a significant hit to Oregon's swagger. 

WINNER: Pistol Rick

UCLA's final home game of the season was a must win for Rick Neuheisel if he was to show enough progress to keep his job. Not only did the Bruins get bowl eligble, but they kept their improbable run to a division title alive with a 45-6 win over Colorado. Style points helped too, outgaining the Buffaloes 553-229 and help run off three wins in four games. After last week's loss to Utah, who really knows if the program has turned the corner but for Neuheisel, who wants to win at his alma matter more than anyone else, a big win at the Rose Bowl will certainly go a long ways after the season.

LOSER: Jon Embree

Embree is a Colorado alum and desperately wanted to end the Buffs' 23 game road losing streak. Family bragging rights were up for grabs too as Embree's son, Taylor, was a wide receiver at UCLA and said the game meant "eternal bragging rights" earlier in the week. The younger Embree had just two catches for 13 yards but can always call out scoreboard whenever family arguments break out. Given the way Colorado played - putting a solid claim on being the conference bottom-dweller - there weren't many positive things the elder Embree could take home Saturday.

LOSER: LeBron James

One of several NBA All-Stars at Autzen for the USC-Oregon Game, James and his fellow jobless companions watched most of the game from the Ducks sidelines. With a reputation for failing to close out games, naturally LeBron was a frequent (i.e. easy) target to make fun of on various social media platforms following the loss to the Trojans. It seems as though the man who took his talents to South Beach just can't win so he kind of has to be made a loser this weekend.

WINNER: West Coast Heisman hopes

Andrew Luck lost his grip on the lead for the Heisman Trophy last week but looked much sharper against Cal to help his stock rebound some. The big mover was Matt Barkley, who has the numbers to get to New York and now has the signature win to piggyback on. After this weekend, it seems like both signal-callers will at least make the trip East to lay their claim on college football's most prestigious award.

WINNER: Snow games

Utah has been welcomed to the Pac-12 with open arms and gone from the desert heat of Arizona to the perfect weather of Southern California to - this week against Washington State - the snowy conditions of the Pacific Northwest. The Utes came out with a close, 30-27 overtime win in a Palouse snow storm. The victory gave the Utes hope of making an appearance in the Pac-12 title game and it was fun to see a few photos from so that has to put snow games in the winners column.

LOSER: Pac-12 athletic directors

There's an opening at Arizona and Dennis Erickson's loss to the Wildcats likely means he's headed out of Tempe. Neuheisel's status is still TBD after the season and though there's progress on the Palouse, it's doubtful Paul Wulff keeps his job. That means the athletic directors around the Pac-12, flush with some new media deal cash, will have to go make some important hires. Already the rumor mill has placed Mike Bellotti, Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach at a school out West and speculation is only bound to heat up more as the regular season winds down. There's going to be plenty of pressure to make the right hire and just as importantly for some ADs, go out on a limb and let a coach go. Going to be an interesting, stress-filled weeks for a few well paid people heading Pac-12 athletic departments.

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