Tag:Kendall Wright
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:41 pm
 

VIDEO: RG3 delivers the Late Show Top Ten

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Robert Griffin III delivering the Late Show Top Ten with David Letterman? Robert Griffin III delivering the Late Show Top Ten with David Letterman, folks:



We think said delivery lags slightly behind his delivery of deep passes to Kendall Wright, but only slightly. And with all due respect to Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson, we're convinced every time a Superman sock-wearing quarterback from Baylor (which is Baylor) strikes the Heisman pose as the Heisman winner on national television, a college football angel gets its wings,
Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:27 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:29 pm
 

Fischer's Heisman vote: RGIII, Luck, Moore



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Earlier this year, I was given the prestigious honor of voting for the Heisman Trophy for the first time. The award's illustrious history of selecting the country's most outstanding player has been well chronicled and I was happy to lend my expertise. As the weeks went by however, it became clear that this would be among the most difficult votes in some time - there was no runaway favorite like Cam Newton this year.

There did seem to be some resolution towards the end of the season but, in talking with other voters, it became clear that there was no easy pick. After sitting down and looking at stats, highlights and other things, who to vote number one became pretty clear. It was spots two and three (you only have three spots on your ballot) that caused me the most angst. Without further ado, my Heisman ballot and why I voted for them.

1. Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor

Like my colleague Bruce Feldman, it's difficult to wrap your head around the fact that a player from Baylor is the most outstanding player in college football. I grew up in Texas and it always seemed the Bears were the ones everybody scheduled for homecoming. Thanks to the Big 12 television deal they were rarely on television unless they were playing a major school. Baylor, for most college football fans across the country, was irrelevant before Griffin burst onto the scene.

During September, the nation was transfixed on what, exactly, RGIII was doing but figured he couldn't keep it up. The first three games he was completing 85% of his passes, had 13 touchdown passes and no picks and flirted with a touchdown-incompletion ratio that was unheard of. The opener against No. 14 TCU was Baylor's first win over a ranked team since 2004 and the signal-caller was the chief reason why. Many expected the close loss to Kansas State to end any hopes of him making it to New York but in the deepest league in the country (sorry SEC fans), Griffin won nine games despite the Bears defense being ranked in the 100's in most major defensive categories. Safe to say that without RGIII, the Bears would have been 3-9.

What sealed the deal for me was the game-winning drive to beat Oklahoma for the first time in school history and an efficient game against what was the 9th-best defense in the country at the time in Texas to end the year. It's rare for any player in the conference to beat both schools but RGIII did accomplish the rare feat. He finished first in the country in passing efficiency with what would be an NCAA record 192.31 rating, edging out Russell Wilson despite attempting 85 more passes. He also finished second in the country in total offense and led the nation in points responsible for.

In January, Griffin was invited to speak at the NCAA convention in San Antonio by new president Mark Emmert. He was lauded for his achievements outside athletics such as getting a degree in three years and beginning his masters' with sights set on law school not his backup plan to the NFL, but his primary one. The attention and applause were genuine on that chilly day at the convention, just as it should be Saturday in New York City when he likely accepts the Heisman Trophy. On and off the field this year, Robert Griffin III was my pick for the most outstanding college football player.

2. Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford

He was supposed to be a shoe-in for this award. For most of the year, it looked like he wouldn't lose the Heisman, even if he didn't necessarily win it. I saw Luck up close several times this season and can confirm that he's the best quarterback in college football. He throws on the run better than anybody, his pocket awareness is uncanny, he calls his own plays and - like RGIII - has taken a program lacking success and turned it into a winner.

The Cardinal are 23-2 over the past two seasons and that is almost entirely due to Luck. Unfortunately his worst game of the year came when he needed it most, against Oregon. Even then, he threw for three touchdowns and the team was in things for three quarters. The offense scored fewer than 30 points just once all year - against Notre Dame when they could have topped the mark had they tried - and was more balanced than any other in the country as coaches had no issues sticking to running the ball if it was working.

A lot of people turn the Heisman race into a stats race. Luck's were good (3,170 yards passing, 35 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) but didn't top others. The thing I always kept in mind was what he did given the talent around him. Sure he had a good offensive line, so did Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Wilson and Griffin. Nobody, however, put up the kind of numbers Luck did throwing to three tight ends who didn't have separation speed and with his best wide receiver sitting on the sidelines the second half of the year. Griffin had the dynamic Kendall Wright, Luck had Griff Whalen. That was a factor in my mind.

By all measures, he was outstanding this season but fell just short of being the most outstanding player in college football. He put up more points against USC in that school's history (against some defensive coordinator name Monte Kiffin) and had he had good defense, might be playing for the national title. He is the only quarterback ever to go undefeated against USC and Notre Dame. Listen to head coach David Shaw state his case for the quarterback and you can't help but consider him worthy of this award. I couldn't put him above RGIII so Luck wound up second on my ballot.

3. Kellen Moore, quarterback, Boise State

For many seeing this, the thought is that I gave Moore the third spot as a career achievement award. I did not.

For most of the week leading up to voting I had a running back (Ball or Richardson) penciled in.  But before I was making my choices I looked again at what the diminutive but excellent quarterback had done this year. Statistically he was great: 300-of-405 passing (74%), 3,507 yards, 41 touchdowns and seven picks. I watched a lot of Boise State games this year (even the blowouts) and know that most of the numbers were accomplished in three quarters or less. A great season was hampered by the loss to TCU but it's safe to say that Moore did all he could game-in and game-out to lead the Broncos to another top 10 ranking.

Moore's best strength this year was spreading the ball around. He lost his two best receivers from last season but didn't lose a step despite several of his young pass catchers dealing with drops from time-to-time. The running game wasn't as good but Moore made up for it through the air. Were it not for a one-point loss to a good team, he'd be in New York this year.

There were three things that caused me to put the quarterback on my ballot ahead of others however. The first was just the way he played. He's good as much as every person in the country likes to knock him for the competition he faces. He'd be the best quarterback in most power conferences, easily, and can drop the ball in on downfield routes perfectly. Second, he became the NCAA's all-time, winningest quarterback at the FBS level. How is that not outstanding? There's no knocking a winner, which Moore rightfully is. Finally, as a starting quarterback Moore has never trailed by more than seven points his entire career. Never. The combined margin of defeat in his three losses total is just five points. Those are just jaw-dropping stats and a measure of someone who not only starts good but doesn't panic if put into a difficult situation.

Moore was great this season and if you sort through it all, you'd see that too.

Why I didn't vote for them (in the order I would have)

Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin: Ball was on my ballot for the stretch run but fell just short after considering Moore. He led the country in rushing with 1,759 yards and in scoring with 17.54 points per game. His 38 touchdowns is just one shy of Barry Sanders' record and more than 45 entire teams. It hurt that Russell Wilson was the man Wisconsin picked to campaign for earlier in the year but Ball without a doubt had a season to remember and was an outstanding college football player in 2011.

Matt Barkley, quarterback, USC: I wanted to put Barkley in my top three because he has not only been outstanding on the field leading USC back to the top 10, but he has been the face of the program that was put through the ringer. He set a school and conference record for touchdown passes in a season and tossed six TDs in a game twice. It was a season for the ages but he was hampered by a very slow start to the year, the Arizona State game and the head-to-head loss to Luck.

Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama: He was the best offensive player in the SEC and a great player who I'd want on my team in a heartbeat but I didn't think Richardson was the best running back in the country. He played only four games against schools with a winning record and faced just two defenses ranked in the top 40 against the rush. 46% of his yards came against North Texas, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern and Auburn and nearly the same percentage of his touchdowns came against those four defensive powerhouses. I get that he was hurt at times and shared carries; Richardson is a great player but just wasn't the best this season.

Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU: I love the Honey Badger - he's a game changer unlike any other in the way he forces turnovers and returns kicks. That said, he wasn't the most outstanding player on his own team (punter Brad Wing was) and wasn't even the best player in the secondary (Morris Claiborne was). His coverage skills were solid but not spectacular and had he not had two big games against Arkansas and Georgia to end the season, wouldn't have been invited to New York. The suspension during the season also played a factor.

Others under consideration: Case Keenum, Houston; LaMichael James, Oregon; Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State.

Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:58 pm
 

CBSSports.com 2011 All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The season has wrapped, the bowl games are set and it's time to hand out some awards. As part ofCBSSports.com's look at the regular season, here is the best of the Big 12 conference.

Awards

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Robert Griffin, quarterback, Baylor

When it comes to choosing only one person to be the Offensive Player of the Year in a conference that features so many potent offenses as the Big 12, it's not easy. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Still, despite all the amazing offensive players in the Big 12 this season, the choice here was pretty clear for me. Robert Griffin set an NCAA record with his 192.3 efficiency rating this season, all while throwing for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns compared to only 6 interceptions. No one player was more important to his team this season than Griffin was, and he'll likely be adding a Heisman Trophy to his collection soon enough.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Frank Alexander, defensive line, Oklahoma

There were a few other players I considered for this like Iowa State's A.J. Klein and Texas A&M's Sean Porter, but in the end I went with Alexander. He was a force on the defensive line for one of the conference's best defenses all season long. Alexander finished the season leading the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 18, and was tied with Porter for most sacks in the conference with 8.5.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Quandre Diggs, defensive back, Texas

This was between Diggs and Kansas State's Tyler Lockett for me, but I went with Diggs since Lockett missed the final three weeks of the season. I also went with Diggs because he deserves the honor, picking off 3 passes and breaking up another 13 while making 46 tackles for the Longhorns in 2011.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Bill Snyder, Kansas State

This was extremely tough, as I mulled between Snyder, Mike Gundy and Art Briles for a while. In the end I went with Snyder because I'm still amazed by what he's now done twice in Manhattan. I had a feeling before the season began that Kansas State would be better than we thought, but I didn't see a 10-2 season and a near berth in a BCS bowl being possible. So because of that I have to give the nod to Snyder.

All-Big 12 Offense

QUARTERBACK

Robert Griffin, Baylor

He was my offensive player of the year, so he's my selection for quarterback here as well. Though I'd be remiss if I didn't give a tip of my non-existent cap to Brandon Weeden and Collin Klein.

RUNNING BACKS

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor and Henry Josey, Missouri

When it comes to the Baylor offense, Griffin and the passing game get a lot of credit, but Ganaway is what helps make that passing attack even more dangerous. When you have a running back who rushes for a Big 12-best 1,347 yards and 16 touchdowns, defenses can't just drop back into coverage and take away your passing game. Ganaway's presence gives Baylor its balance. As for Henry Josey, he finished the season averaging more yards per game than any other Big 12 running back and would have led the conference in rushing yards if not for a knee injury against Texas that cost him the last few weeks of the season. Still, 1,168 yards in 10 games and over 8 yards a carry will get you here injury or not.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Kendall Wright, Baylor and Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

Too many deserving receivers to choose from, but I went with Wright and Blackmon. Somebody had to be on the receiving end of all those Robert Griffin passes, and Wright was the most popular target. He led the conference with 1,572 receiving yards and had 13 touchdowns. Only one receiver finished the year with more receptions and touchdowns than Wright, and that was Oklahoma State's Blackmon. He came into the season with enormous expectations considering what he did in 2010, and though he didn't match those numbers, 113 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 touchdowns is one hell of a letdown. Also, honorable mention to Ryan Broyles who had his senior season cut short and Texas A&M's Ryan Swope.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Missouri

This wasn't that hard of a decision since Egnew led all Big 12 tight ends in receptions (47), yards (484), and was tied in touchdowns (3). Egnew was a reliable target for James Franklin all season.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Grant Garner, Oklahoma State; Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State; Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma, Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State, Jeremiah Hatch, Kansas

No matter what kind of scheme you use, there are no great offenses without great offensive lines, which means the Big 12 had plenty to choose from. Trying to pare a long list down to five was not easy, but these are the guys who stood out to me the most all season.

All-Big 12 Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

Frank Alexander, Oklahoma; Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma; Ray Kibble, Kansas State; Alex Okafor, Texas

If you're an offensive lineman and you look across the line of scrimmage to see these four men in your face, you know you are going to be in for a long day. Whether getting to the quarterback or stuffing the run, all four of these lineman had their names called quite often this season.

LINEBACKERS

Arthur Brown, Kansas State; A.J. Klein, Iowa State; Sean Porter, Texas A&M

While Porter was tied for the Big 12 lead with 8.5 sacks, Klein was a tackling machine for the Cyclones with 101 tackles and also proved useful in coverage. Then there's Arthur Brown who, in my opinion, may be the best all-around linebacker in the conference. Whether stopping the run, in pass coverage, or just being wherever he needs to be to make a big play. Kansas' Steven Johnson and Texas' Emmanuel Acho also deserve a mention here.

SECONDARY

Nigel Malone, Kansas State; Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma; Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State, E.J. Gaines, Missouri

If you're a cornerback or a safety at a Big 12 school, you are going to be tested week in and week out. There's no way around it, and some plays you're going to get beat, as it happens to everybody. Still, more often than not, these were the four defensive backs whom I saw making the plays their defenses needed them to make this season.

SPECIALISTS

PK Randy Bullock, Texas A&M; P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State; Returner Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

I could have gone with Quinn Sharp for both punter and placekicker as he performed both duties for Oklahoma State this season, and performed extremely well in both jobs. I decided to go with Bullock however as he was called on more often than Sharp to put points on the board and did so at the same rate. Then there's Tyler Lockett who was one of the more exciting returners in the conference this season, with two kickoffs returned for touchdowns. He just slightly edged out Texas' Fozzy Whittaker.
Posted on: November 21, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

RG3 on the OU win, his future, and that play

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Robert Griffin is a name that many college football fans have become familiar with this season, especially after Baylor's win over Oklahoma on Saturday night, as his performance has launched him to the top of a lot of people's Heisman lists. While that game may wind up being one of the most memorable moments of Baylor and Griffin's season, no doubt clinching his trip to New York, Griffin continues to keep his mind on what's in front of him.

And what may be somewhat surprising is that Griffin says Baylor's win over Oklahoma wasn't even the greatest win of his career.

"I think it's the greatest football game I've ever been a part of," Griffin said during a teleconference on Monday. "Collectively, offense, defense, and just the way it ended. But the best moment I've had since I've been here probably was last year when we beat Kansas State to get bowl eligible.

"It was more than about just this team. It was about all the guys who had come through and didn't get to experience the bowl game and to get that burden off of Baylor Nation."

Griffin was referring to Baylor's 45-42 win over Kansas State in 2010, in which he passed for 404 and 4 touchdowns to help the Bears clinch their first bowl game since 1994, when the school was still part of the Southwest Conference.

The Bears have already clinched a second straight bowl appearance in 2011, and it's hard not to wonder if RG3 will be around to make it three in a row next season. Griffin also talked about his future at Baylor, as he still has one season of eligibility remaining following this one. As you'd expect, he's still not entirely sure what his plans are just yet.

"It's something that I have to decide with coach [Art] Briles, my family and anybody else out there that I feel close to," he said. "I don't want it to be about money or draft status or anything, if it's time for me to go then it's time for me to go. If I come back it won't be because I'm not a high enough draft pick, it'll be because God told me this is where I need to be, and I'm definitely proud to be part of what's going on here at Baylor."

And, of course, we'd be remiss if we hadn't asked Griffin about what was going through his mind during that play on Saturday night. You know the one.



"It was crazy," said Griffin. "In that situation a lot of times as a quarterback when you see balls get tipped, a lot of times they get intercepted. So when I saw the ball get tipped or bounce off a players helmet, my heart sunk a little bit, but as I continued to watch and saw Kendall [Wright] running with his hands out I was truly amazed. Because things like that don't happen. To have a ball go off a helmet, fly 20 yards and hit a receiver in stride and him to run for a 87-yard touchdown is incredible.

"I don't think that'll happen again in my career, or in football in general, but I'm glad we were a part of it that night."
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: October 11, 2011 11:45 am
 

Keys to the Game: Baylor vs. Texas A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: It continues to use a more balanced approach on offense. There's not much more fun that can be had while watching college football than watching Robert Griffin drop back and wing the football all over the field to guys like Kendall Wright and Tevin Reese, but it may be the running game that is most important for Baylor. Simply put, the Baylor defense is not very good, as it is giving up nearly 30 points per game. Facing a Texas A&M defense that is giving up 347.6 yards per game through the air may be very enticing for Baylor this week, but it needs to keep feeding the ball to Terrence Ganaway. This Texas A&M offense is pretty good too, and can hang with Baylor point for point if it has to. The best way to keep that from happening is to keep it off the field. If Baylor goes for the quick strikes, odds are Texas A&M will answer back, and while that will make for a fantastic game to watch, it might not lead to a victory for the Bears.

TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF: It keeps the Baylor offense off of the field. Texas A&M will be able to put up points on this Baylor defense, but it probably doesn't want to get involved in an old fashioned shootout. With two backs like Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael, along with Ryan Tannehill's ability to tuck the ball and run, there's no reason the Aggies can't dominate the time of possession in this game. So Mike Sherman and the Aggies should use Gray and Michael to sustain long scoring drives and keep Robert Griffin off the field as much as possible. Yes, this is a team that can score 48-50 points if it has to, but it will probably be better served scoring somewhere between 35-40 and keeping its defense rested and ready to get after Griffin.

X-FACTOR: Coryell Judie and Terrence Frederick. The Texas A&M secondary has been torched so far this season, and if that's going to stop anytime soon it will be on the shoulders of Judie and Frederick. Both corners will have their hands full with Kendall Wright on Saturday in Waco, but if they can keep him in check and limit the big plays, then there's no reason that Texas A&M shouldn't go home with a win. 
Posted on: October 9, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 9, 2011 1:19 am
 

Big 12 Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Tom Fornelli


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

WINNER: Football in the state of Oklahoma

You know, we can't be sure how happy Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are to still be in the Big 12 considering all the flirting the schools did with the Pac-12, but at this point we really have to wonder why in the world would either school want to leave the Big 12? They're tearing the conference apart, as both schools combined to outscore their opponents 125-45 this week and are a combined 10-0 this season. Considering how bad Texas looked against the Sooners on Saturday, it's evident that the Longhorns are still a year or two away from competing for the Big 12. This conference belongs to the state of Oklahoma for at least that long. 

LOSER: The Eyes of Texas

Oh the horror those eyes had to see on Saturday. Those images were burned into their retinas and are guaranteed to appear in nightmares and therapy sessions for years to come. The five turnovers, three defensive touchdowns by the Sooners, and Landry Jones took any optimism the Longhorns may have had after the first month of the season and buried it all beneath a sea of fried foods.

WINNER: Collin Klein

The reemergence of the Kansas State football program is not only one of the most unexpected storylines of the Big 12 season, but it's also one of the most welcome. While Bill Snyder and the Kansas State defense deserve a lot of the credit, we can't forget the quarterback who is conjuring up memories of Ell Roberson with the 3 touchdown performance like the one he had against Missouri on Saturday in Manhattan.

LOSER: The Jayhawks defense

I use the term "defense" incredibly loosely there. In five games this season the Jayhawks defense is yet to give up less than 24 points in any of them, and that 24 point game came in the opener against McNeese State. Since then it's been 42 points to Northern Illinois, 66 to Georgia Tech, 45 to Texas Tech and then 70 to Oklahoma State. You know what kind of offense you need to have to win games when your defense is giving up 49.4 points per game? Any offense playing Kansas that week.

WINNER: Terrence Ganaway

With the exploits of Robert Griffin and his favorite target Kendall Wright, the Baylor running back has been lost in the shuffle a bit through Baylor's first five games. That was not the case on Saturday, as Art Briles used the running game to wear down the Iowa State defense and keep his defense off the field. It worked out pretty well for Briles, as his running back rewarded him with 200 yards and 3 touchdowns.

LOSER: Robert Griffin's Heisman chances

RG3 didn't exactly have a bad game on Saturday, as he threw for 212 yards while rushing for an additional 107 yards and finished the game with 3 touchdowns. Still, when you play for Baylor, a team that isn't exactly a household name, you need to have monster performances all year long to keep the Heisman spotlight on you. Particularly when guys like Landry Jones, Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck are all playing for undefeated teams and having huge games.

WINNER: Texas A&M's confidence

The Aggies may not have completely erased the memories of their collapses over the last two weeks, but although they let Texas Tech get within five points in the final minute on Saturday night, all that truly matters is that the Aggies held on to get the win. More importantly, the offense did not disappear in the second half and it kept doing what had made it successful in the first half. Quite a change from what we saw from this team against Oklahoma State and Arkansas.

LOSER: Texas Tech fans

Do we know that it was Texas Tech fans that did it for sure? No. Are we relatively confident that it was? Well, who else was in Lubbock this weekend that would have done it? What happened to the Texas A&M bus this weekend was despicable and embarrassing for the Big 12 as a whole, and college football itself. You can be upset that Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12, but guess what? The Big 12 is going to survive, and you still have a home there, so why exactly you feel the need to wipe your own excrement all over a bus is beyond me.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 11:04 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 11:05 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 56 Rice 31

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WON. Rather easily at that. Robert Griffin continued to set the world on fire with another insane performance, completing 28/32 passes for 332 yards and 5 touchdowns while rushing for 51 yards and another score. Those 5 touchdown passes? All five went to different receivers. In other words, Griffin hasn't exactly slowed down since the entire country got a look at him in the season opener against TCU. Both Kendall Wright (10 receptions, 111 yards, 1 touchdown) and Tevin Reese (7 receptions, 101 yards, 1 touchdown) were his favorite targets on the night.

WHY BAYLOR WON. While the Rice offense has proven that it's capable of putting up yards and points, it just doesn't have the talent to match Griffin and company. The Bears had 655 yards of total offense in the game, and that was after they called off the dogs in the fourth quarter, removing most of the starters. Still, Baylor has to be somewhat concerned about the fact it gave up 35 points and 416 yards to Rice. Sure, Rice's offense is more than capable of such a performance, but I'd really like to see Baylor put an opponent away if it's going to have any real shot of finishing near the top of the Big 12.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. I'd say this game was just about over when Terence Ganaway's 4-yard touchdown early in the second quarter made it 28-0, but it was probably earlier than that.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. A non-conference game that doesn't mean much in the scheme of things, but at the very least Baylor earned the right to continue hyping Griffin as a Heisman candidate.

WHAT RICE LOST. A game that it was supposed to, nothing more, nothing less.

THAT WAS CRAZY. So far this season Robert Griffin has thrown 13 touchdown passes. Which puts him on pace to finish the season with 56 touchdowns should the Bears reach a bowl game. What's truly insane about that number, though, is that Griffin has completed 70 of his 82 pass attempts on the season. That means Griffin has thrown more touchdowns than incompletions in 2011. Statistically he's more likely to throw a touchdown than he is an incompletion!
 
 
 
 
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