Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 12:16 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big 12 fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
So it seems that Oklahoma playing its most complete game of the season only serves to knock the Sooners down a spot in the AP poll, as Alabama leap-frogged the Sooners this week. Which is kind of hard to argue against considering that Alabama beat up on a top ten team in Florida on the road and Oklahoma played Ball State. The coaches, however, remain firm in their selection of Oklahoma, because as I said last week, coaches only move teams down after they lose. So until Oklahoma does that, it won't matter what LSU and Alabama do, the Sooners are going to stay on top. Though it's also possible that Oklahoma could leap back in front of both LSU and Alabama in the AP poll next week depending on what it does against Texas.
6/7. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State pays the price for taking a week off. The Cowboys drop a spot in both polls because memories are short, and Boise State is still getting a first place vote in the AP poll. Look, I'm not going to knock Boise State, because it's a good team that has a great track record the last few years, but beating up on what looks like a bad Nevada team is not a good enough reason to put the Broncos ahead of the Cowboys in my opinion.
Wow, talk about a jump. Apparently beating up on Iowa State goes a lot further these days as it has in years past, as the Longhorns jump six spots in the AP poll and seven spots in the Coaches poll. Now, I'm not ready to say that Texas is a top ten team in the country just yet, but it is definitely improving and working its way back there. Still, this is a bit early and is more a reflection of the teams that dropped who were above Texas last week than Texas itself. That being said, if Texas goes out and beats Oklahoma on Saturday, then there will be no beef from me when it's in the top ten again next week.
20/21. Kansas State
I need to toot my own horn for a second here. Before the season started I appeared on the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast with Adam Aizer previewing the Big 12 this season. When asked who my sleeper team was in the conference this season, which team did I say? Yep, Kansas State, and I'd like to freeze that prediction in time right at this very moment. Thanks to a win over Baylor, Bill Snyder's Wildcats are ranked once again, and one of my predictions has finally come to fruitition. I don't care if Kansas State loses every game from here on out, I was still right for one week!
24/25. Texas A&M
Is Texas A&M better than the team we've seen the last two weeks? I hope so. When the year ends, will the Aggies be one of the best 25 teams in the country? Probably. Should they be ranked right now? No. I'm one of those crazy people who think that rankings should be based on what teams have actually accomplished to date, not what that team's potential is. So there's no way that a team who has lost as many games as it's won should be ranked in my opinion.
Do coaches hate Baylor and Art Briles or something? For the first few weeks of the year, the coaches had TCU ranked higher than Baylor even though Baylor had just beaten TCU. Now, after one loss to Kansas State, the coaches remove Baylor from the poll entirely. Meanwhile, a couple of two-loss teams in Florida State and Texas A&M are still ranked, and one-loss teams like Michigan State and Auburn that haven't looked impressive at all are ranked as well. Robert Griffin makes one bad decision, though, and Baylor tumbles.
Others Receiving Votes
I have no idea what Texas Tech was doing in the first quarter against Kansas on Saturday, but falling behind 20-0 did not look good. Thankfully for the Raiders, Tech woke up and realized it was playing Kansas, picked up the win and improved to 4-0. Now, a 4-0 Texas Tech team deserves to be ranked more than a 2-2 Texas A&M squad, but considering Tech's schedule to date, I can understand the voters trepidation. The quickest way for Texas Tech to fix that would be by beating Texas A&M this Saturday in Lubbock.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 1:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A buddy of mine was talking about how college football right now has a few elite teams and a bunch of others that could be grouped into a couple of classes. After a lengthy discussion, I decided to run with that after week five to see how everyone shapes up. Feel free to get angry at me in the comments.
(In no particular order)
Wisconsin: It's all Russell Wilson for the frontrunners in the Big Ten title race but this is a very good squad that has balance on offense and a very well coached defense.
Alabama: Best defense Nick Saban's ever had plus two great running backs and an efficient offense. The Tide will continue to roll this year.
Oklahoma: Another win, another week they lose some ground in the polls despite being the best team not playing in the SEC.
LSU: They have a Honey Badger so who cares how mediocre the offense has been?
Boise State: Kellen Moore and the offense get all the press but the defensive line is among the best in college football.
We're still not sure how good they are:
Stanford: They have the best quarterback in the country but haven't played anyone of note and lost their best linebacker to a knee injury.
Oregon: Still the class of the conference, they might be better on offense then they were last year.
Oklahoma State: Questions still remain about the defense but Brandon Weeden and company are legit.
Florida: They're a top 25 team but haven't played anyone besides Alabama and will trot out a true freshman in their first road trip against LSU. Yikes.
Notre Dame: The Irish have rolled up 500 yard games like they're no big deal but turnovers are the difference between 5-0 and 3-2.
Nebraska: The defense should be better than what they've shown so far but their struggles are reflective in the team as a whole.
Texas: Undefeated heading into the Red River Shootout, this young team will have their hands full this week but have come along nicely under their two young coordinators.
Clemson: An impressive victory on the road against Virginia Tech but there's no denying that everyone thinks Clemson will be Clemson at some point this year.
Virginia Tech: Many had pegged them as a national title dark horse but that is no more after losing to Clemson at home.
Kansas State: Bill Snyder is a miracle worker but the Wildcats haven't faced a big time opponent until this week.
South Carolina: They have a great running back, a great defense, a great wide receiver but the team itself is a giant question mark week-to-week.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have an explosive offense that's difficult to prepare for but the defense remains questionable at best.
Arkansas: The stunning comeback this week proved one thing: the defense is average but the offense can carry this team.
Illinois: Ron Zook is their head coach so there is that but both the offense and the defense have responded when needed to keep the Illini undefeated.
Michigan: The defense does look better but they haven't really been tested by a good team and have yet to play a game outside the Big House.
Good not great group:
Arizona State: Injuries have hurt on defense but they're the class of the Pac-12 South.
North Carolina: Perhaps a little surprising at 4-1 but they've played solid football and bonded as a team with all that has gone on around the program.
Southern Miss: They've lost to Marshall which hurts them in conference play but this is an ok football team that could breakthrough.
Hawaii: Their offense gives everyone fits but it's really hard to comprehend how they lost to UNLV.
Washington: Perhaps the surprise of the Pac-12 North division, the defense isn't super but Keith Price and the offense are very dangerous.
SMU: A big win over a ranked TCU is a huge sign of progress under June Jones.
West Virginia: The loss to LSU was a setback but this is a very good football team that can score some points.
Baylor: They have a quarterback who's among the best at his position this year in Robert Griffin III but the defense has issues.
Auburn: They're winners, that's for sure, but the defense struggles every game and the offense has been inconsistent.
Michigan State: They've got the defense but the offense hasn't clicked like it should under Kirk Cousins.
Cincinnati: There's plenty of questions about this team but they're solid and can beat any Big East team.
Tennessee: They can't run the ball at all but they sure can throw it.
Texas Tech: Undefeated but have struggled in the first half just about every game they've played.
Georgia: SEC East is wide open and the Bulldogs are fighting hard each game so don't be surprised if they make a run for it.
Florida State: Injuries have made them thin but Jimbo Fisher should regroup them and turn them into a good team by the end of the year.
Houston: Best offense to watch in college football is good because the defense will allow points galore.
Looking forward to 2012:
UCLA, Oregon State, New Mexico State, East Carolina, Rice, Louisiana Tech, Utah, North Texas, Tulsa, Ball State, Ole Miss, Purdue, New Mexico, UAB, Troy, FAU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Duke, FIU, Iowa State, Colorado State, TCU, USC, Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Bowling Green, Virginia, Idaho, N.C. State, Ohio State, Maryland, Miami, UConn, Western Michigan, Louisville, Marshall, Nevada, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Ohio, Akron, Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Wake Forest, Boston College, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Navy, Air Force, Army, Tulane, Kansas, Northwestern, Temple, Toledo, Minnesota, Rutgers, Syracuse, Penn State, Indiana, Mississippi State, BYU, Utah State, USF, Pitt, UTEP.
Stat of the week
Via the blog Hustle Belt, the last time Michigan, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan all won on the same day: November 5, 1994. Add in the fact that the Detroit Lions won on Sunday and it's a pretty good weekend for football in the state of Michigan.
Stats of the week
- With four touchdowns against Nebraska, Wisconsin's Montee Ball now has 13 on the ground this season. That's halfway to the Big 10 record of 26 (by week 5) and his 14 total touchdowns leads the country. Ball has scored 14 points more than the next person on the scoring list.
- Oklahoma had the ball 15 times against Ball State and scored seven touchdowns. Wisconsin had the ball 10 times against Nebraska and scored seven touchdowns (via Brian Fremeau)
- USC has allowed 40 points in consecutive games for the first time in 119 seasons. Matt Barkley did set a school record for passing yards and total offense against Arizona however.
- Arkansas had nine plays of 20 or more yards against Texas A&M. At one point, receiver Jarius Wright had more yards of total offense than Penn State, Indiana, Minnesota and Kentucky as well as 80% of the Razorbacks' offense at halftime.
- Tyrann Mathieu has the LSU record for career forced fumbles with eight in 18 games (via Scott Rabalais).
- RussellMania is indeed here. Wilson's masterful performance against Nebraska really was something to behold as he made play after play. The knock on Wisconsin was that they haven't played anyone (they still haven't on the road). That question seems to have been answered with their resounding victory against Nebraska on Saturday however. Wilson was efficient once again, going 14-20 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He had some beautiful throws, placing the ball perfectly into the hands of his receivers on a few big gains. Though Wilson doesn't look to run like other quarterbacks, he can and will if need be. That added dimension is what separates this Badgers team from previous iterations. On the other side, Nebraska's B1G moment - their first ever conference game - very much exposed them as a team with serious issues.
- Coming into their primetime game, both Florida and Alabama featured top 10 defenses and plenty of future NFL draft picks. Yet, you just got the feeling as Trent Richardson was running through players like a battering ram that the Gators were boys among men. There's plenty of talented four- and five-star recruits but they're still young and almost seemed overwhelmed by the big stage. The swarming Tide defense, meanwhile, was punishing Florida players left and right - including quarterback John Brantley. With a true freshman seeing his first significant game action, plenty of people on Twitter were calling for Charlie Weis to call plays that simply didn't get Jeff Driskel killed by an Alabama defender. Richardson ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns and was pretty much the offense. Good defense, good running game and a big, big road victory for Nick Saban's squad.
- Poor, poor Utah State. The team has been minutes from being 4-0 and likely ranked in the top 25 but instead they're 1-3 thanks to a last second loss to BYU on Friday. They lost to a backup quarterback who threw a pass that was deflected by an Aggie defensive back right into the hands of Marcus Matthews for the game-winning touchdown; which pretty much sums up what Utah State has gone through, coming close to a win before tipping it into the hands of the opponent. They nearly upset Auburn before a perfect onside kick and subsequent score and lost to Colorado State on a failed two-point conversion in OT last week. The Aggies might be the best, unluckiest team in college football.
- I'm still not sure how Arkansas pulled off that comeback other than to say Texas A&M allowed them to. Mike Sherman seemed to deflect some blame for the loss but one has to put this one (and last week's) solely on his shoulders. His first half play-calling has been great but it's like the Aggies go into the locker room and fail to make a single adjustment. They had great success rushing the ball but failed to go for it on a key 4th down in Arkansas territory and punted the ball instead. At that point, the momentum had fully shifted to the Razorbacks, who made play after play to rally from 18 down. A&M looked like they'd be fine in the SEC if you watched that first half but if you watched the second... they looked more like Ole Miss.
- Melvin Ingram had 11 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception but that just wasn't enough for South Carolina, who lost to Auburn thanks to an anemic offense that was actually playing one of the worst defenses in the SEC. I listened to part of the game on radio and I'm glad I did because it saved me having to see some terrible quarterback play on both sides. The Gamecocks' defense is good but the offense has been puzzling - not something one would expect with Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey. But then again, they do have Stephen Garcia at quarterback.
- Michigan State's defense is well coached and the best in the Big Ten so far this year but that doesn't explain the offensive ineptitude of Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes had negative yardage for most of the game before getting a 4th quarter touchdown in the final 10 seconds to avoid the program's first shutout in nearly 18 years. As much as people mocked Tresselball, Buckeyes fans would welcome a return to those days in a heartbeat.
- Notre Dame's win over Purdue is best summed up by two words: Michael Floyd. After grabbing just four catches against Pitt, Floyd grabbed 12 for 137 yards and a touchdown against the Boilermakers. As one would expect given the competition, the Irish were rolling on offense and racked up 551 yards with Cierre Wood running for a career-high 191 yards on 20 carries. Most importantly, there were no turnovers after 15 in Notre Dame's first four games.
- It's rare for an SEC team to leave the South so props to Ole Miss for traveling to Fresno State to play. Randall Mackey had an ok day but made the big play when needed, including an 88 yard drive to seal the win. This is the Rebels' first win over and FBS team and, with more SEC West play ahead of them, could be their last for a while.
- Playing so late, it's doubtful that many in the Eastern or Central time zones stayed up to catch Stanford crush UCLA 45-19 so here's a quick recap: Andrew Luck is really, really good. He had a Heisman highlight moment with a spectacular one-handed catch and somehow managed to stay in bounds. Just as impressive as Luck (23-27, 227 yards, 3 TDs), the Cardinal played before a sellout crowd and looked solid on defense against the Bruins' Pistol offense that looked like it had some life. Still, the story in this game was Luck, who surprisingly called his own plays on a couple of drives Peyton Manning-style. "He called better plays than me," head coach David Shaw said after the game.
Quote of the week
"I apologize to the fans of Nebraska because that was a joke."
- Huskers head coach Bo Pelini on his team's embarrassing loss to Wisconsin and the state of the defense.
4. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
10. Georgia Tech
Where we'll be this week
Senior writer Dennis Dodd will head to Dallas for one of the best events you can go to, the Red River Shootout (or, if being politically correct, Rivalry) between undefeated Texas and Oklahoma. While he's trying the fried beer, Tony Barnhart will be in Baton Rouge for a LSU night game against Florida. Brett McMurphy will pack his bags for Manhattan (Kansas) to see Missouri play undefeated Kansas State and see first hand how good a coaching job Bill Snyder has been doing.
Leaning this way
Oklahoma vs. Texas
I have to imagine that Dan Beebe, from his comfortable Dallas home, will have this game on his television set rooting for both teams to end this in a tie. Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has done some very good things with some young talent and without a doubt has some surprises up his sleeve for OU. That said, the Sooners are the top team in the country and will be scoring enough points to keep the fans singing 'Boomer Sooner' well into the afternoon.
Florida at LSU
This will be the coming out party for true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel with the injury to Jeff Brantley. And by coming out, I mean just that he'll come out. Having seen his film and him throw in person, I think Driskel will be a good quarterback but he's just going to be overwhelmed by the scenery in Death Valley. LSU makes several plays on defense to blow this one open and let the Tigers push the Gators around.
Ohio State at Nebraska
After both teams lost, I didn't really consider this game in this spot until I remembered this was a B1G game not only in terms of conference standings, but the fact that the Tattoo Four will make their return to the Buckeyes. Nebraska was embarrassed on the road but I don't think they'll allow that at home as the Ohio State returns several much-needed starters. In the end though, there's just been such a lack of execution by the Buckeyes as a whole to pick anyone but Nebraska by more than a touchdown.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffrey, Andrew Luck, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Ball State, Baylor, Bill Snyder, Bo Pelini, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, Bryan Fischer, Bryan Harsin, Central Michigan, Charlie Weis, Cincinnati, Clemson, Dan Beebe, David Shaw, Detroit Lions, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Heisman Trophy, Houston, Illinois, Jarius Wright, Jeff Driskel, Jimbo Fisher, John Brantley, June Jones, Kansas State, Keith Price, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Marcus Matthews, Marshall, Matt Barkley, Melvin Ingram, Michael Floyd, Michigan, Michigan State, Mike Sherman, Montee Ball, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Peyton Manning, Randall Mackey, RGIII, Robert Griffin III, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, SMU, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford, Stehpen Garcia, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, UNLV, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 2, 2011 4:26 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:07 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Wisconsin should probably go undefeated this year. Seventh-ranked Wisconsin faced its first stiff test of the season, as No. 8 Nebraska came to town for a night game at Camp Randall in the Big Ten opener for both schools. Wisconsin treated Nebraska like just another speed bump, crushing the Huskers 48-17 in a game that saw the Badgers outscore Nebraska 41-3 in the last 33 minutes of play. It was equal parts savage, brilliant, and awe-inspiring -- the type of game that only great teams play.
Wisconsin's slate from here on out is heavy on intriguing road games, but if Nebraska can't even keep the game within 30 points, what hope would Ohio State or Illinois or anybody else left on the schedule have of winning a game against the Badgers? Russell Wilson can basically do whatever he wants on offense, and with a duo of tailbacks like Montee Ball and James White behind him, the Wisconsin attack is basically as complete as offenses can get.
So yes, Wisconsin should go undefeated this year. That would be quite welcome, especially if it ends in a game against whoever takes the SEC between LSU and Alabama. Would the SEC team win? Possibly. Plausibly. Probably. I'd sure like to see that determined on the field of play, and doubtless so would Wisconsin fans.
2. That team that just got wrecked by 31 points is still probably going to win its division. I don't know what's more infuriating -- that Nebraska has underperformed so badly in every game this season that they're probably just plain average as a whole, or that this average Nebraska team is still a favorite to win the Legends Division. Michigan's on a roll but has a nasty back half of the schedule, Michigan State has a brutal schedule and only managed 10 points against the Ohio State defense, Northwestern has major defensive issues to work out, Iowa struggles mightily against mobile quarterbacks while playing in a division full of them, and Minnesota... no.
Of course, the actual most likely result of this traffic jam of mediocrity is five teams tied at 4-4 and Minnesota eating paste at 0-8. This is the result I will be openly rooting for. because nothing would be funnier than Jim Delany taking a look at that situation, taking a look at Wisconsin, and then just canceling the First Ever Big Ten Championship Game and just handing the Rose Bowl to Wisconsin. And nobody would think that was the wrong thing to do.
3. Whatever you thought about the quarterback situation at Ohio State, I assure you, it's actually worse. Joe Bauserman was Ohio State's leading passer on Saturday, and if that doesn't sound troubling, please consider that Bauserman didn't enter the game until early in the fourth quarter, and he threw for all of 87 yards. Starter Braxton Miller, meanwhile, passed for 56 yards (not just on one drive, for the entire game), lost 27 on the ground, and led the OSU offense to all of six first downs in the first three quarters. The Buckeye faithful were booing early and often in this game, and while they generally weren't booing Miller himself, it certainly stands to reason that the mood at the 'Shoe would have been far more jovial if Terrelle Pryor had still been under center.
It didn't help that the Michigan State defensive front was teeing off on Miller, and generally overwhelming the Buckeye offensive line in the process, but it's just shocking that Ohio State could have such a dearth of production at the quarterback position like this. Miller's got talent, but is in no way game-ready, whereas Bauserman looks like someone who just doesn't belong on a two-deep of a BCS-level team. This is a personnel problem for Luke Fickell and Ohio State, and personnel problems like these don't generally solve themselves mid-season.
4. At this rate, Illinois might actually enjoy endgame pressure. Illinois is 5-0 for the first time in 60 years, and it's doing so at the expense of the cardiac health of Ron Zook and all the Illini fans. For the third straight week, Illinois won a game by three points, and for the third straight week, it needed to take the lead late in the fourth quarter and hang on for dear life. This week's victim was Northwestern, who capitalized on a Jason Ford fumble and drove for a go-ahead score with 75 seconds left ... only to see Nathan Scheelhaase and A.J. Jenkins drive the ball down the field with ease and punch the ball in for the game-winning score with 13 seconds left.
It's too early to start making assumptions about Illinois' postseason fate as yet, because if the Illini keep getting into these 50-50 late-game situations, the odds are pretty low that they'll keep winning them consistently. And with games like home dates with Ohio State and Michigan -- not to mention a road match at Penn State -- still on the schedule, Illinois probably isn't even near done with the close contests yet this season. But perhaps it does, and perhaps the games won't be close, and perhaps Ron Zook -- he of the hottest seat in the Big Ten six weeks ago -- has another 10-win season up his sleeve just yet. Perhaps. We're at least on the right road for that to happen, at least.
5. Pssst... Michigan might be legitimate. Maybe. As long as Minnesota keeps proving itself to be far more MAC-worthy than BCS conference-caliber, it's going to be useless to read much into a team's performance beating the Gophers -- even the final score is 58-0. And yes, Michigan started 5-0 last year too and that season still ended with Rich Rodriguez fired. That's all true. The problem, though, is that Michigan started 5-0 in 1997 and it just so happened to finish 12-0 and win a national championship, and most teams that start 5-0 don't end up giving up the most points in program history and firing their coach.
So while it's easy to just say "But 2010" whenever someone mentions the fact that Michigan is still undefeated, there's one difference that's crucial to point out: the defense is showing up too. Last season, Michigan gave up over 25 points per game in its first five games. This year? 10.2. Yes, it's relevant that 31 points came against Notre Dame in a game the Wolverines had zero business winning and 20 came against tomato cans like Eastern Michigan and Minnesota, but consider that Michigan also spanked Western Michigan 34-10, and that's a Broncos team that came up just shy in a 23-20 loss at Illinois and just took a 38-31 win at Connecticut. So yes, given the context we've got, Michigan is not just pulling a 2010.
I still don't think Michigan survives that brutal November that awaits, and it's possible that with Dan Persa and Kirk Cousins looming as opposing quarterbacks in the next two games, Michigan might take a 5-2 (1-2) record into its bye week. But 6-1 (2-1) is more likely now, and being undefeated through seven games is definitely on the table. That's good news in Ann Arbor, especially when everyone else in the Legends division is staring at major problems that need fixing. But that's a topic best left for November; for now, Michigan would do well to focus on the next game in front of it.
Tags: A.J. Jenkins, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, James White, Jason Ford, Joe Bauserman, LSU, Luke Fickell, MAC, MIchigan, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Montee Ball, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rich Rodriguez, Ron Zook, Russell Wilson, SEC, Terrelle Pryor, Week 5, Western Michigan, What I Learned
Posted on: September 30, 2011 3:19 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 4:41 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
I respect you all too much to lie to you, so I'll be upfront about the fact that outside of our dinner menu this week, we're a little light on the calories this weekend. Yes, having a matchup between two ranked non-conference opponents to kick things off in the morning is a wonderful way to start you day, but after that, it's kinda thin.
Of course, none of this means you shouldn't eat lunch. Many times the simplest meals turn out to be the best ones of the day. So keep an open eye while perusing this week's Meal Plan.
#18 Arkansas vs. #14 Texas A&M (in Dallas) - ESPN 12pm ET
The final meeting between these two schools as non-conference foes, and both teams are coming into the game with a bit of a limp. Texas A&M blew a halftime lead at home against Oklahoma State last weekend, and Arkansas did not enjoy its trip to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama. What better way to move on from a defeat than by beating one of your oldest rivals? It's not often that we're given a matchup like this so early in the morning, so take advantage of it while you can. - Tom Fornelli
#24 Illinois vs. Northwestern - ESPN2 12pm ET
You want points? You're going to get points. Northwestern finally welcomes 2010 dynamo Dan Persa back from his Achilles injury, and the Illinois pass/option attack led by Nathan Scheelhaase has led the Illini to over 32 points a game -- and a 4-0 record. Both teams are looking to make a darkhorse run at their respective Big Ten division crowns, and each would welcome a hard-fought win to begin the conference slate. I know it's an early kickoff, but don't sleep on this game. - Adam Jacobi
Navy vs. Air Force - CBS 12pm ET
Restaurants of all kinds tend to offer "alternative" meals for customers, so think of this matchup of two of our nation's military branches to be our vegan offering of the week. Just replace animal products with passing game, and that's exactly what this is. When these two teams meet it's like looking through a window back in time as both teams employ option attacks. - TF
#10 South Carolina vs. Auburn - CBS 3:30pm ET
Neither team enters this game feeling particularly good about itself, not after the Tigers wheezed their way past an awful FAU team 30-16 and Carolina watched Stephen Garcia throw four hideous interceptions against Vanderbilt. But given Auburn's persistent tackling issues, even Garcia shouldn't be able to keep Marcus Lattimore from racking up another Heisman-type day on the ground. - Jerry Hinnen
Kansas State vs. #15 Baylor - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
I don't think many people saw this game on the schedule at the beginning of the year and envisioned a battle of unbeatens in Manhattan, but that's exactly what we're getting. Even if that weren't the case, this one would still be worthy of your attention for the prospect of seeing Robert Griffin play football for three hours on its own. It's the first time Griffin and Baylor have had to venture outside of Waco this season, so it'll be interesting to see how he performs in hostile territory. - TF
Ohio State vs. Michigan State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
The Big Ten's night game is going to get all the attention, but this game could prove to be the most ruinous for whoever loses it. Michigan State is reeling after seeing its vaunted offensive attack shut down by Notre Dame's, um, inconsistent defense. Meanwhile, OSU hasn't looked great since Week 2, and if Braxton Miller can't get the Buckeyes moving against the MSU defense, that QB controversy is firing right back up and we haven't seen the last of Joe Bauserman. - AJ
N.C. State vs. #21 Georgia Tech - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
The days of Paul Johnson's offense being defined as "three yards and a cloud of dust" are long gone in Atlanta. The Rambling Wreck lead the nation in plays of 30 yards or more, and they passed their first conference test putting up 312 rushing yards against North Carolina's touted front seven. N.C. State did not pass their first conference test, allowing 438 yards of total offense against Wake Forest. The Wolfpack are banged up on defense, and enter the game with only one of their top three running backs (not good for keeping the opposing offense off the field). But Tom O'Brien's squad had their number a year ago in Atlanta, forcing some turnovers and blocking a punt on the way to a 45-28 win. Unfortunately for the struggling Wolfpack, the Yellow Jackets remember that game all too well. - Chip Patterson
#11 Virginia Tech vs. #13 Clemson - ESPN2 6pm ET
Two undefeated Top 15 ACC foes face off under the lights in Lane Stadium, and both have a lot to prove in this game. The Hokies haven't been tested by any kind of noteworthy competition, and the development of sophomore quarterback Logan Thomas has taken a bit longer than some expected. Clemson, on the other hand, is trying to win their third straight game against a ranked opponent - something an ACC member school has never done. But the Tigers' undefeated record has all come in the comfy confines of Death Valley. Before anyone anoints Dabo Swinney's squad as contenders, they need to prove themselves on the road. Chad Morris' offense against Bud Foster's defense. The young Dabo Swinney against the winningest active coach in the conference. It's the premiere game in the conference and should live up to the hype. Make sure you tune in early for a chance to see "Enter Sandman" in action. - CP
Iowa State vs. #17 Texas - FX 7pm ET
Another battle of unbeatens in the Big 12 takes place in Ames on Saturday night. Normally a matchup between Texas and Iowa State wouldn't seem like something you'd want to try, but remember that Iowa State went into Austin last season and beat the Longhorns. So Texas is going to want to return the favor this season, and if either team wants to have any legitimate chance to win the Big 12 this season, then this is one they'll have to win. - TF
#12 Florida vs. #3 Alabama - CBS 8pm ET
Another week, another serious challenge to Alabama's potential national title campaign. And given the environment (as hostile as you'll see in college football this season, most likely), the weaponry on the opponent's defensive line (Ronald Powell, Jaye Howard, Sharrif Floyd, etc.), and the big-play capability represented by Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, the Gators should prove an even more substantial challenge than Arkansas did. But it's going to take the performance of John Brantley's life to keep the Tide from collapsing on Demps and Rainey, and something similar from the Gator back seven to keep Trent Richardson from uncorking another 60-plus-yard game-changing run. Are they up to it? - JH
#7 Wisconsin vs. #8 Nebraska - ABC 8pm ET
Saturday is the day of reckoning for one of the Big Ten's two divisional favorites; Nebraska is ranked eighth, but has not looked like a world-beater in any of its non-conference games, whereas No. 7 Wisconsin has rolled in early play, but against clearly inferior competition. Wisconsin's the only team of the two that's been able to run and pass at will, but with Nebraska's defense at its healthiest all year, it remains to be seen whether the Badgers can move the ball reliably this week. What a great way to finish the first week of Big Ten play. - AJ [Video Preview]
LATE NIGHT SNACK
#6 Stanford vs. UCLA - FSN 10:30pm ET
Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel said earlier in the week that one of the biggest differences between his program and what the Cardinal have been doing is easy: Andrew Luck. No doubt Rick, no doubt. The Heisman front runner should enjoy facing a UCLA defense ranked 98th in the country. This is also Stanford's first game without linebacker Shayne Skov so keep an eye on how they handle UCLA's Pistol offense. - Bryan Fischer [Video Preview]
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Air Force, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Braxton Miller, Bryan Fischer, Bud Foster, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Dabo Swinney, Dan Persa, FAU, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa State, Jaye Howard, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Joe Bauserman, John Brantley, Kansas State, Logan Thomas, Marcus Lattimore, Michigan State, Mountain West, N.C. State, Nathan Scheelhaase, Navy, Nebraska, Non-BCS, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Paul Johnson, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin, Ronald Powell, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Sharrif Floyd, Shayne Skov, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tom O"Brien, Trent Richardson, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 11:47 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
We've got a Big Ten showdown in Wisconsin (where it's basically impossible to beat the Badgers at night), Will Muschamp's introduction to the Alabama-Florida rivalry, an ACC road test for Clemson, a bounce-back opportunity for both Arkansas and Texas A&M and much more. Ohio State faces a tough challenge as Michigan State comes to Columbus. USF looks to prove its legitimacy with a Thursday night game at Pitt. Does Auburn have a chance against South Carolina? Dan Persa returns for Northwestern, but can he beat Illinois? We've got it all covered with this week's Weekend Preview.
Click here for the pop-out player if you'd like to listen in a new window, otherwise just hit play right below.
The only thing I'll add to the Wisconsin-Nebraska discussion is that Adam and Darin are, in my mind, vastly underestimating Wisconsin's talent advantage here -- especially when the Badgers have the ball. Last year, I wrote that the Iowa defense was the biggest fraud in the Big Ten. This year, so far, Nebraska's defense looks ready to assume that ignominious title unless it starts shutting somebody, anybody down. Adam and Darin mentioned the pedestrian yardage numbers the Husker D has given up, but yardage allowed in double-digit victories can be misleading sometimes; teams scramble in the fourth quarter against defenses more concerned with keeping the clock running and not allowing big plays than with forcing a punt, for example, or maybe the defense has its reserves in with a 27-point lead and three minutes left or what have you.
So I'll just also point out that Nebraska has forced 3-and-outs on 16 of 50 possessions (not including end-of-half kneeldowns). And yeah, Nebraska's non-conference slate has been more challenging than Wisconsin's run of puff pastries, but we're still only talking about Chattanooga, Fresno State, Washington, and Wyoming here -- not exactly a murderer's row of offensive firepower. Nebraska's defense is supposed to be the best in the Big Ten, and instead it's, eh, decent. Guess what: Bret Bielema and Wisconsin's offense eat "decent" for breakfast and they still have room for brunch.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 12:41 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 12:42 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Through the first two games of the season Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd had 25 receptions for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns. Given the way that the Irish began the season with 10 turnovers and 2 losses, Floyd was one of the lone bright spots in South Bend. His numbers dipped a bit in a 31-13 win over Michigan State, as he "only" had 6 catches for 84 yards to lead the team, and those numbers dipped even further against Pitt, when he made 4 catches for 27 yards.
In that game against Pitt, only 1 of Floyd's receptions came after the first quarter. As you'd expect, once the Pitt defense -- one that came into the game as one of the worst pass defenses in the country -- figured out a way to neutralize Floyd, the Notre Dame offense did not look very pretty, though it did enough to win the game.
Well, Brian Kelly isn't all that interested in winning ugly, and he's looking to make sure that Floyd doesn't have another game like the Pitt one anytime soon. Which is why the Irish have been working on ways to make sure it doesn't happen again this weekend against Purdue.
"There are going to be some games as it unfolds that he's not going to get 10 passes," Brian Kelly told the Chicago Tribune. "It's just the nature of the game. That doesn't mean we're not going to continue to look at ways to get Michael the football.
"Certainly we're going to do that, and I think there's a number of ways that we can continue to make sure that he gets the appropriate amount of touches. But we just don't want (the Pittsburgh game) to be a consistent kind of scenario more than anything else."
The question is, should they?
While Michael Floyd is the most prolific receiver in Notre Dame history, there's an alarming trend for the Irish and Floyd when he's making so many receptions. In his four years in South Bend, Floyd has caught 10 or more passes in a game six times. In those six games Notre Dame has gone 1-5, the lone win coming against USC last season when Floyd had 11 receptions for 86 yards.
And it's not as if Notre Dame is being blown out in these losses, causing the team to have to throw the ball more and feature Floyd. In the five losses, the Irish have lost by a combined 13 points, with one of those losses coming in overtime. So Notre Dame was in every single one of these games.
One way to explain this could be the fact that up until the second half of last season, following a 28-27 loss to Tulsa -- in which Floyd caught 11 passes for 104 yards and 2 scores -- the Irish defense wasn't very good. For every touchdown the Irish offense would ride Floyd to, the defense would give it right back.
Still, even since the defense improved, Notre Dame is still 1-2 in the three games Floyd has made at least 10 receptions. Most of that is the fault of turnovers, but either way, it's an alarming trend.
While it may not sound right, the numbers show that Notre Dame may be better off not relying so heavily on their biggest playmaker.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 1:28 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
We took Week 4 off for the conference power rankings to put together the Future Conference Power Rankings. With realignment rumors slowing, we made a few projections and broke down how the conference's would rank in 2014 at the BCS automatic qualifying renewal. I put together a set of power rankings for football, Matt Norlander did college hoops, then we put our brains together for a joint future conference power ranking.
The exercise was an interesting look into the makeup of building and sustatining a conference, but I was more than excited to turn the attention back to what we know: football in 2011.
LSU and Alabama have continued to carry the SEC banner as the game's leading conference. The two juggernauts have overcome every obstacle in their path so far, heading down a collision course to their Nov.5 meeting in Tuscaloosa. But the Tide should be on upset alert this weekend, as defeating the Gators under the lights in The Swamp will be no easy task. Oklahoma showed no signs of slowing from their methodical road victory against then-top-ranked Florida State, and the Cowboys' comeback victory against Texas A&M showed the strength of the conference lies in the Bedlam schools. Mountain West and Conference USA suffered some embarrassing losses, while Big Ten's weak slate left room for the Pac-12 to move up into the No. 3 spot.
You can give your opinion in the comment section below, but here are the CBSSports.com 2011 Conference Power Rankings heading into Week 5.
1. SEC (LW: 1)- The giants in the SEC West each pass their Week 4 tests with flying colors, and LSU takes over as the No. 1 team in the nation according to the writers. Mississippi State avoided dropping two in a row barely, but the Bulldogs can pick themselves up before heading back into conference play. Florida performed their annual slaughter of Kentucky, and their defense and running game could give them a shot to challenge South Carolina in the East.
2. Big 12 (LW: 2) - The Big 12 is definitely closing the gap on the SEC for top conference in the nation, which is interesting considering the instability off the field. While Oklahoma and Oklahoma State continue to lead the way in the polls, the depth of the conference has been more impressive as of late. With Kansas State knocking off Miami in Coral Gables and Baylor continuing to follow Robert Griffin III's lead the league has five teams in the top 20. That's just as much as the SEC and an argument could be made for the middle of the Big 12 looking better on the field than the middle of the SEC recently.
3. Big Ten (LW: 3) - The Big Ten gets very little credit for their weak non-conference schedule in Week 4. While Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State all did their part to take care of the inferior competition the rest of the conference did not fly the banner with pride. Minnesota and Indiana's losses and Illinois' squeaker against Western Michigan put a stain on what could have been a clean sweep for the B1G. Legends and Leaders will strap it up in Week 5 though, with five conference matchups on the slate.
3. Pac-12 (LW: 4) - With Oregon showing flashes of 2010 in their rushing game, the Ducks sent a warning shot across Stanford's bow with their performance on Saturday. Arizona State's victory over USC helped justify what may be the Sun Devils' berth to the inagural Pac-12 title game (due to USC's postseason ban). The conference has plenty of question marks when you look down the entire membership roster, but the heavy-hitters at the top of the standings keep the conference near the top.
5. ACC (LW: 5) - Florida State's second loss in a row removes the ACC's lone team from the national spotlight. However with a victory over Virignia Tech, Clemson could find themselves elevated to that elite group of undefeated teams. The Tigers have never defeated three ranked opponents in a row, and will be trying to do so on Sunday evening in Blacksburg. The Hokies have played an unimpressive collection of early season non-conference matchups, so Frank Beamer and Co. will be looking for a win to justify their place in the naitonal scene. Georgia Tech is also on the rise, but Maryland's loss to Temple and Miami's loss to Kansas State the ACC's "middle" took a hit in Week 4.
6. Big East (LW: 7) - West Virginia deserves credit for giving LSU their best shot. They were able to move the ball on that touted defense and until Mo Claiborne's 99-yard kickoff return TD it looked like the Mountaineers could take it to the wire. South Florida continues their offensive tear, but that will be put to test in the conference opener at Pittsburgh on Thursday. Despite only having to vote-getting teams in the polls, the conference moves up a spot in the power rankings thanks to a little bit of hope shown by the league's middle. Cincinnati looks like they could be headed back to the postseason after their dismantling of N.C. State and while Pittsburgh is still horrendous to watch at times they gave themselves a shot to win at Notre Dame..
7. Mountain West Conference (LW: 6) - Kellen Moore and Boise State will stay on course, and I imagine their revenge victory against Nevada will be quite the offensive output. TCU is starting to get their footing back as well, but still has not displayed anything on field yet that looks like they could give the Broncos a run for the conference title. The league takes a one-spot drop in the power rankings after San Diego State looked shellshocked against Michigan in the Big House. The Aztecs weren't expected to win, but Rocky Long's squad could have definitely put up a better fight against the Wolverines.
8. MAC (LW: 9) - Nothing quite like some MACtion upsets to make for good conference smack talk. The fighting Addazio's have lived up to their hype once again, this time picking Maryland apart on their own field. Temple's strong start, and what should have been a Toledo win against Syracuse have the MAC ranking just below the MWC in terms of non-AQ conferences. Throw in Ball State's win over Army and it was a blown call away from a MAC sweep in Week 4.
9. Sun Belt (LW: T-10) - The Sun Belt's darling in 2011 was FIU, at least until Wesley Carroll and T.Y. Hilton left Saturday's game with injuries and the Panthers dropped their first contest of the season. After knocking off Louisville and UCF in back-to-back weeks, it is unfortunate Mario Cristobal's tear came to an end against a conference opponent. Troy now has second life as they try to pursue at least a share of their seventh straight Sun Belt Confernece title. North Texas delivered the upset of the weekend for the league, knocking off Indiana 24-21.
10. Conference USA (LW: 8) - In a weekend that featured several notable non-conference upset opportunities, Conference USA really dropped the ball. Southern Miss was able to hold on against Virginia, but after the Cavaliers' recent performances even that ACC victory might not be an upset. UCF lost a very winnable game against BYU on Friday night, and an improved Tulane squad certainly had a fighter's chance against Duke. As a league, Conference USA went 2-6 in non-conference play during Week 4. Making their case worse, Memphis continues to make a case for being the worst team in the bowl subdivision. The jury is still out, but the Tigers are making their case.
11. WAC (LW: T-10) - Lots of "almosts" for the WAC in Week 4. Utah State almost knocking off Colorado State. Nevada almost upsetting Texas Tech, and Louisiana Tech almost pulling the upset of the week. Unfortunately "almost" is only acceptable with horshoes and hand grenards. Need more W's to move up these rankings.
Check back in to the Eye On College Football next week for the updated edition of the Conference Power Rankings.
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Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona State, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Chip Patterson, Clemson, FIU, Florida State, Fresno State, Iowa, Iowa State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nevada, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Pac-12, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rice, SEC, Steve Addazio, Syracuse, TCU, Temple, Texas, Troy, UCF, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 26, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
7/7. WisconsinI've said for the entire year that Wisconsin's closer to fourth or fifth in terms of talent and play quality, and there's nothing the Badgers have done to indicate that they're not one of the five best teams in the nation. Unfortunately, the Badgers have also played noooobody, especially compared to the six teams ranked above the Badgers, so I can't muster up any disapproval of Wisconsin sitting at seventh in both polls. Fortunately, the non-conference slate is over, and Wisconsin's playing a real opponent this week. Finally.
Hey, there's Wisconsin's conference opener right there, Nebraska! Nebraska's now only one spot behind Wisconsin, which if you've actually seen both teams play this year, is preposterous. The Huskers' trip to Madison is, I suspect, going to push both teams back toward where I think they both belong--mainly, Wisconsin at 5, and Nebraska at 15. So if Wisconsin wins by two scores, like I'm predicting, I don't think Nebraska falls very far in my rankings. That's what the 15th best team ought to do in a road game at the fifth best team, isn't it? Of course, in Win Go Up Lose Go Down Poll World, Nebraska's about to tumble, but that just seems like a correction that I don't need to make on my end. And yes, Sensitive Nebraska Fan, I am totally biased against your team now and forever, even while I still think the Huskers win the division title. Whatever you need to sleep at night.
Michigan as the third-highest ranked team in the Big Ten? Shows you what going 4-0 gets you, I suppose. This is higher than I have Michigan, although not by as much as before, and as long as Denard Robinson remains bulletproof things will continue to improve in Ann Arbor. It's just, jeez, that last half of the schedule might mean a 1-5 finish for the Maize and Blue. I'm letting it affect my voting habits for Michigan. I shouldn't yet. Punish the teams the losses they have and not the ones that loom, right? Right. So I suppose No. 19 is fine -- for now.
This ranking is about right. Illinois continues its unlikely unbeaten spree and will probably do so until at least October 15 when it hosts Ohio State. But honestly, that's going to be like a late-oughts Boise State 6-0: One tough opponent, and the rest a set of cupcakes that all but the worst BCS conference teams could go 5-0 against. And yet no matter how many qualifiers you attach to it, unbeaten is still unbeaten, and that puts Illinois on a higher level than 8 of their conference mates so far. Borderline Top 25 works for Illinois until the Ohio State game; that's when their conference season really kicks off.
NR/25. Michigan State
Sure, the Spartans slaughtered Central Michigan. I still don't trust that rushing attack after how well Notre Dame shut it down, and I won't trust it until MSU runs on a real defense. Sayyy, Michigan State goes to Ohio State this week! Show me something good, Sparty, and I'll be happy to return MSU to my Top 25 at once.
Also receiving votes: Michigan State (51 AP votes), Ohio State (15 AP votes, 61 coaches votes), Penn State (12 AP votes, 34 coaches votes), Northwestern (5 coaches votes) (what seriously oh god why)