Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:01 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
With teams having already started or starting spring practice over the next few weeks. there are a lot of players across the country who will be charged with replacing someone who has come and gone before them. It's an annual rite of spring in college football, when the senior quarterback from last season is putting the finishing touches on his final semester as a college student, and the sophomore who isn't even sure what he's majoring in yet realizes he's going to be majoring in Playbook 101 for the next few weeks.
Of course, while roster turnover is a common occurence in college football, there are bigger shoes to fill than others, and in this post we take a look at the ten biggest pairs looking for a new owner this spring.
10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Ryan Broyles began re-writing the Oklahoma record books the moment he stepped on the field in his first game as a Sooner. He caught 7 passes for 141 yards against Cincinnati, both of which were freshman records. Four years later he finished his career having caught more passes than any other receiver in FBS history, pulling in 349 passes for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns.
In other words, he's not the type of player that Oklahoma can just replace with anybody. This spring receivers like Kenny Stills, Jaz Reynolds and Trey Metoyer will try to replicate Broyles' production in Norman. Whether it will be one of them doing it, or a group effort, Oklahoma will need it to happen if the Sooners want to win the Big 12 and contend for a national title.
9. Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Understandably, USC fans were extremely excited by the news that Matt Barkley would be returning for his senior season, and many have pegged the Trojans as a title favorite because of it. What you don't want to do, however, is overlook the fact that the man who was in charge of protecting Barkley's blindside these last few years won't be back.
Though that's how life generally works for offensive lineman like Matt Kalil. As large as they are, they're often overlooked. Kevin Graf, Jeremy Galten, David Garness and Nathan Guertler will all be competing for the unenviable task of being the man in charge of making sure nothing happens to the most valuable piece of the USC offense.
8. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
One of the problems with having a defense as strong as the one we saw in Tuscaloosa last season is that you're bound to lose players to the next level, and the Crimson Tide have no shortage of beasts making their way to greener pastures. Still, the Tide have a knack for churning out defensive lineman and linebackers, but safeties like Mark Barron don't come along all that often.
Barron made 231 tackles for Nick Saban in his four seasons, including 13 for a loss, while picking off 12 passes. Barron was the type of player that could defend the pass and the run, and he won't be easily replaced. Can Robert Lester or freshman Vinnie Sunseri step up and be the next stud in the Alabama secondary?
7. Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Based purely on production, there may be no larger shoes to fill in the country than Luke Kuechly's. There may not have been more than 3 plays run by opposing offenses in which Kuechly wasn't in on the tackle. Kuechly finished 2011 with 191 tackles. The next highest total on the Boston College defense belonged to Kevin Pierre-Louis, who had 74.
As our own Chip Patterson put it, "for Boston College, replacing Kuechly is like any other team replacing 2 1/2 players." Though it's been proven that it can be done, as Kuechly himself once had to fill the shoes left behind by Mark Herzlich. Pierre-Louis and Steele Divitto -- who has a name that would be hard to replace -- will be the two linebackers looking to repeat the feat.
6. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Many casual college football fans never truly appreciated how amazing a player Morris Claiborne was for LSU in 2011 simply because opposing offenses weren't dumb enough to test him all that often. Throw in some Honey Badger exploits with a bit of Les Miles being Les Miles, and Claiborne gets a bit lost in the gumbo. Still, Claiborne truly was the definition of a shutdown corner for LSU, playing a pivotal role on one of the best defenses in the country.
While Tyrann Mathieu will be back in 2012, he's not the cover corner that Claiborne was, so it will be up to Tharold Simon to fill the role. One he seems capable of considering he led LSU with 10 passes broken up in 2011 playing mostly as a nickel back.
5. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
I won't lie to you. Even when Mark Ingram will still in Tuscaloosa running through SEC defenses, I always felt that Trent Richardson was the best running back on the Alabama roster. Now both are gone, and Richardson will be harder to replace than Ingram was simply because Trent can't replace himself.
Can Eddie Lacy be the next Heisman finalist in the Alabama backfield? He showed some promise in 2011, and in an offense like Alabama's, the opportunities will be there. Still, even if Lacy is extremely talented, there are only so many shoes capable of doing this.
4. Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon, QB/WR, Oklahoma State
A bit of a cheat, I know, but the truth is that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon felt like extensions of one another for the past two seasons in Stillwater. Their success was as a duo. I mean, Blackmon caught 40 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which accounted for 53% of the 75 touchdown passes Weeden threw with the Cowboys.
Now we know that Oklahoma State is going to continue putting points on the board without them, but will the offense ever be as prolific when the combination is Clint Chelf or Wes Lunt to Tracy Moore? We'll get our first clues this spring.
3. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Maybe you think that LaMichael James isn't all that hard to replace given the weapons Oregon has in the backfield. I can see your point, but I can also point out that James nearly doubled Kenjon Barner's rushing total (1,805 yards to 939) in 2011. I mean, this is a man who rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns while averaging 7.3 yards per carry in 2011, yet we didn't think it was so amazing based simply on the fact we'd already seen him do similar things in the previous two seasons.
We just got used to it.
Yes, Barner and DeAnthony Thomas are extremely talented backs, but the fact is there's no easy way to replace a back who accounted for 5,888 all-purpose yards and 58 touchdowns in three seasons as a Duck, all at the speed of light.
2. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Will it be harder to fill RG3's shoes, or his socks? Neither will be easy. While we all know how talented Griffin was as a quarterback for Baylor in 2011 and the two seasons before it, it's his impact on the program that will leave the biggest impression. Baylor went from a perennial bottom-feeder in the Big 12 to a team that can call itself the home of a Heisman Trophy winner.
Nick Florence will be the favorite to replace Griffin this spring, but he'll never be able to have the impact on the Baylor program that Griffin did. Instead he'd be much better served to focus on replacing the production on the field. Something that won't be easy, either, but given Art Briles' history with quarterbacks and the way Florence performed in place of Griffin against Texas Tech, it may not be that far-fetched, either.
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Andrew Luck didn't win the Heisman Trophy like Robert Griffin did, but that doesn't diminish the impact he had on the Stanford program. In the three seasons before Luck showed up in Palo Alto, Stanford was 10-26, including a 1-11 season in 2006. In Luck's three seasons the Cardinal went 31-8, played in two BCS bowl games and became a national program.
Stanford is essentially the school Notre Dame used to be, and it's all thanks to Luck. Of course, the question now is whether or not Stanford can maintain the success they had under Luck with a new quarterback. Brett Nottingham, Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo will all enter spring practice looking to replace the most important player in the history of Stanford football, and that's a list that includes John Elway.
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Tags: ACC, Alabama, Andrew Luck, Art Briles, Baylor, Big 12, Boston College, Brandon Weeden, Brett Nottingham, Cincinnati, Clint Chelf, David Garness, DeAnthony Thomas, Eddie Lacy, Jaz Reynolds, Jeremy Galten, John Elway, Josh Nunes, Justin Blackmon, Kenjon Barner, Kenny Stills, Kevin Graf, Kevin Pierre-Louis, LaMichael James, Les Miles, LSU, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Mark Herzlich, Mark Ingram, Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Nathan Guertler, Nick Florence, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Robbie Picazo, Robert Griffin, Robert Lester, Ryan Broyles, SEC, Spring Practice, Stanford, Steele Divitto, Tharold Simon, Tom Fornelli, Tracy Moore, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, USC, Vinnie Sunseri, Wes Lunt
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:37 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Like every school in the country, Oklahoma will put the finishing touches on its 2012 recruiting class on Wednesday, but the Sooners got some good news on 2011's class on Thursday.
One of Oklahoma's top recruits in 2011, five-star receiver Trey Metoyer, has been cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse and will join the Sooners some time soon.
Metoyer signed with Oklahoma last year, but failed to qualify academically. As a result he spent the year Hargrave Military Academy.
Metoyer's presence on the Sooners offense in 2012 could be quite a boost. Oklahoma is already considered the early favorite in the Big 12 next season thanks to the return of Landry Jones, and Metoyer should fit in nicely with Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds at the wide receiver position. Those three have pretty large shoes to fill as the Sooners try and replace Ryan Broyles.
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Posted on: January 10, 2012 12:58 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 12:59 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Now that the 2011 season has come to an end it's time to move on to the next phase of the college football year: recruiting. With the Big 12 Recruiting Reset we fill you in on what you may have missed in the Big 12 and what you should expect to see between now and signing day.
TOP THREE CLASSES
1. Texas - Texas always has one of the best recruiting classes in the country and the Big 12, but lately it hasn't done much for the Longhorns on the field. Though that could change with players like running back Johnathan Gray and wide receiver Cayleb Jones to help a struggling offense, and defensive tackle Malcom Brown to keep things rolling on defense. Of course, with Texas right now, you can't look past quarterback Connor Brewer who may actually see time in the 2012 season as the Longhorns continue to look for their quarterback.
2. Oklahoma - The Sooners have Landry Jones returning in 2012, but are losing his favorite target in Ryan Broyles. Not to worry, though, as the Sooners have added a few top receivers in their 2012 recruiting class. Players like Trey Metoyer, Derrick Woods, and Durron Neal may all see time on the field for Oklahoma next season. Though considering the problems the Sooners have had at running back and the transfer of Brandon Williams, you do have to wonder if Oklahoma would be better off adding another running back to its class to join the impressive Alex Ross.
3. TCU - TCU will join the Big 12 next season, and it seems that the Horned Frogs have already got the recruiting aspect that they'll need to compete down. There aren't a lot of headliners in the current class, but it's deep. Quarterback Tyler Matthews could be the heir apparent to Casey Pachall, and players like defensive back Edward Pope, running back Daje Johnson and defensive end Devonte Fields will all make their presence known in the coming seasons.
TOP PLAYERS AVAILABLE
1. Dorial Green-Beckham - At 6'6 and 225 pounds, when people compare this wide receiver to Randy Moss, they aren't blowing smoke. He's the top player in the 2012 class and he has offers from just about every school on the planet, including both Texas and Oklahoma.
2. Stefon Diggs - Diggs is the best receiver not named Dorial Green-Beckham that is yet to commit to anybody, and it seems he's down to about eight schools right now, including Oklahoma.
WORK TO DO
1. Kansas - Considering how Kansas has looked on the field the last few years, it's not surprising to see the Jayhawks have one of the weaker recruiting classes in the Big 12. Which also may explain why the school hired Charlie Weis, who recruited well at Notre Dame. Weis has some work to do before signing day to add to a class that currently consists of only 9 players.
2. Kansas State - Kansas State's has 12 commitments for its 2012 class, and while Bill Snyder seems to have magical powers, he may need to use them to add a few more names to that list before February gets here.
Keep up to date with all the latest recruiting news leading up to National Signing Day with our Eye On Recruiting Blog with Bryan Fischer.
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Tags: Alex Ross, Big 12, Big 12 Recruiting Reset, Bill Snyder, Brandon Williams, Casey Pachall, Cayleb Jones, Charlie Weis, Connor Brewer, Daje Johnson, Derrick Woods, Devonte Fields, Dorial Green-Beckham, Durron Neal, Edward Pope, Johnathan Gray, Kansas, Kansas State, Landry Jones, Malcom Brown, National Signing Day, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Randy Moss, Recruiting, Recruiting Reset, Ryan Broyles, Stefon Diggs, TCU, Texas, Tom Fornelli, Trey Metoyer, Tyler Matthews
Posted on: December 10, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 1:39 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced its 68th annual All-America team on Sunday. The list is headlined by Heisman favorite Robert Griffin III of Baylor, and top-ranked LSU put three defenders on the team this year. Alabama, who is set to face LSU in the BCS Championship Game, leads all schools with five FWAA All-Americans. Here's this year's roster in full:
OffenseQB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
RB Montee Ball, Wisconsin
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama
WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE Dwayne Allen, Clemson
OL Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL David DeCastro, Stanford
OL Barrett Jones, Alabama
OL Nate Potter, Boise State
C David Molk, Michigan
DefenseDL Vinny Curry, Marshall
DL Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
DL Sam Montgomery, LSU
DL Devon Still, Penn State
LB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College
LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
DB Mark Barron, Alabama
DB Morris Claiborne, LSU
DB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
DB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU
Special TeamsK Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
P Bobby Cowan, Idaho
RS Joe Adams, Arkansas
Anyone get left out? Tell us who you think got snubbed by the FWAA at the official Eye On College Football Facebook page.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Tags: 2011 All-Americans, 2011 FWAA All-Americans, ACC, Alabama, Arkansas, Barrett Jones, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Bobby Cowan, Boise State, Boston College, C-USA, Clemson, Courtney Upshaw, David DeCastro, David Molk, Devon Still, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dwayne Allen, FWAA All-America Team, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Jarvis Jones, Joe Adams, Justin Blackmon, Levy Adcock, LSU, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron, Marshall, Michigan, Montee Ball, Morris Claiborne, MWC, Nate Potter, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Quinn Sharp, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Broyles, Sam Montgomery, SEC, Stanford, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, Vinny Curry, WAC, Whitney Mercilus, Wisconsin
Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:57 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 2:58 pm
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.
AwardsOFFENSIVE 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 OffenseQUARTERBACK
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 DefenseDEFENSIVE 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.
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.
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.
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.
Tags: A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor, Art Briles, Arthur Brown, Baylor, Big 12, Bill Snyder, Brandon Weeden, CBSSports.com All-Conference Team, Collin Klein, E.J. Gaines, Emmanuel Acho, Frank Alexander, Gabe Ikard, Grant Garner, Henry Josey, Iowa State, Jamell Fleming, James Franklin, Jeremiah Hatch, Justin Blackmon, Kansas, Kansas State, Kelechi Osemele, Kendall Wright, Levy Adcock, Markelle Martin, Michael Egnew, Mike Gundy, Missouri, Nigel Malone, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Quandre Diggs, Quinn Sharp, Randy Bullock, Ray Kibble, Robert Griffin, Ronnell Lewis, Ryan Broyles, Ryan Swope, Sean Porter, Steven Johnson, Terrance Ganaway, Texas, Texas A&M, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Lockett
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 1:58 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
It's hard to believe, but the college football regular season is over.
If the finality hasn't hit you, it's ok. Hold on to it, savor it, try not to let it go.
Though things off the field in the sport - realignment, arrests, suspensions, infractions and on and on - may never have been worse, the product on the field was pretty good. There were hail mary's and punt returns, one-handed catches and devastating sacks. There was a Honey Badger, All Russell Wilson Everything and some epic comebacks.
With that in mind, in the final Surveying the Field of 2011, a look back at just about every bowl team and a few lines about them looking forward.
National Championship Game
Looking back: It wasn't pretty at times but the Tigers rolled to the national title game in impressive fashion, dispatching Pac-12 champion Oregon by 13 at a neutral site to open the season, Big East champion West Virginia by 26 on the road, beat their title game foe Alabama at home and rolled over SEC East winner Georgia by 32 in what amounted to their home crowd. Tyrann Mathieu was the ball-hawking fire starter for the team but, gasp, the best player might have been punter Brad Wing who was crucial in establishing good field position every time.
Looking ahead: How much is there left to prove? The rematch in New Orleans can be Les Miles chance to end any doubt as to who was far and away the best team in 2011 by turning the national championship game into a coronation with a convincing win. Lose and an AP National Title likely awaits. The Tigers are in a can't lose situation.
Looking back: Before the season, many in Tuscaloosa said this could be Nick Saban's best defense. It's hard to argue if you look at the numbers, first in rush, pass, total and scoring defense. The most points they gave up the entire year was 21. The offense wasn't too shabby either, not with Heisman candidate Trent Richardson delivering electrifying runs.
Looking ahead: LSU came into their house and won, now it's time for them to do the same for the crystal ball. They might not have won their division but they can win the national title.
Looking back: Early on, it seemed like they were going to struggle. A close win against Wofford? Then it seemed like Sammy Watkins started to heat up and the Tigers moved to 8-0 and people were talking titles. But there was also talk of Clemson being Clemson - and it happened at Georgia Tech. And again at N.C. State. And at South Carolina. But the slide ended in Charlotte with another win over Virginia Tech to win the first ACC title since 1991.
Looking ahead: Dabo Swinney said it best after winning the conference championships, saying he's taking his, "Clemson talents to South Beach." The defense shut down the Hokies once again but they are taking a much bigger step up facing Dana Holgorsen with a month to prepare.
Looking back: A 9-3 season, Big East title and BCS bowl berth is not to shabby debut for Dana Holgorsen as a head coach. The offense was as advertised, jumping from 67th last year to 17th at 459.6 yards per game. They were blown out against LSU thanks to turnovers and that was a theme in their losses. The Mountaineers won several close games and that could pay off down the road.
Looking ahead: Given how mediocre the conference was, perhaps this BCS bowl berth should count for the Big 12, the league the school is departing for in 2012. Nothing would be better than for athletic director Oliver Luck to say thanks for the memories like a trophy full of oranges (which he might throw at the Big East offices).
Looking back: They were blitzed at their rival Michigan State and somehow lost to Iowa but the season was certainly a successful inaugural campaign for Brady 'Michigan Man' Hoke. Most of the credit should go to defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who has turned around a unit that couldn't tackle to one that finished 7th in the country in total defense. Denard Robinson struggled at times to adapt to a new offense but still manage to deliver thrills such as one of the craziest endings of the year against Notre Dame. It paled in comparison to the final few snaps at the Big House however, as the Wolverines finally beat rival Ohio State.
Looking ahead: Sure this group might be mostly Rich Rodriguez' players but Hoke has taken them to the next level with an easy schedule and tough-love coaching. Winning their first BCS game would send a message to the rest of the country that the program was indeed back.
Looking back: Hokies fans will get upset but it seems pretty accurate to say the team was the least deserving of the at-large selections given their lackluster group of wins (not one BCS team on the non-conference slate, lost to Clemson by a combined margin of 61-13). There were positives on offense, such as Logan Thomas taking over during stretches with his arm or his legs and David Wilson was a tackle-breaking machine. The defense was at normal high standards under Bud Foster.
Looking ahead: Don't belong? Ok, so prove it, it's that easy. Winning the game after last year's bowl performance will also do wonders for Frank Beamer, who enters as the winningest active head coach.
Looking back: Oh what could have been, Oklahoma State was so close to playing for a national title and would have been headed to New Orleans had it not been for the upset-minded Iowa State team on the road in double overtime. The offense was the second best in the country through the air and elder statesman Brandon Weeden made things click with ease. For all the knocks they were given, the defense was actually impressive when you consider they forced 42 turnovers and allowed a lot of their points and yards when the starters were on the sidelines.
Looking ahead: While Boone Pickens might be upset and threatening to investigate the BCS with his piles of money, the Cowboys can't allow their disappointment to ruin the best season in school history with a Fiesta Bowl loss.
Looking back: It's not often you mention Stanford as a BCS contender but here we are, back-to-back games thanks to Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and despite having a first-time head coach taking over in David Shaw. Though they battled injuries all season long both sides of the ball turned in performances that were fitting of a top five team. The triple overtime thriller against USC might have been the highlight (more points scored against the Trojans than any other team) but a turnover-filled day at home against Oregon was the low-light that prevented them from the conference title. Still it was one of the most impressive seasons in school history.
Looking ahead: No better way for Luck to end his career than a victory against what everybody considers one of the three best teams in the country. In doing so, they'll help the Pac-12's reputation get off to a great start in the league's first year with 12 teams.
Looking back: Heisman campaigns were abound in this backfield with the ever efficient Russell Wilson running things at quarterback and Montee Ball finding the end zone more than entire teams did in the regular season. If the defense could have just defended hail mary's better we'd be talking about the national title game for the Badgers but ending up in the granddaddy of them all with a shot to win is the best consolation prize around.
Looking ahead: Despite the two losses on their record, this could still go down as one of the most dominant teams in Wisconsin history with a Rose Bowl win.
Looking back: Their third straight conference title might have been one of the sweetest in school history given the way the season went. The opener was tough as they failed to beat an SEC team and largely fumbled things away. Oregon did what Oregon typically has done under Chip Kelly in conference except for one night at home against USC. Things got a little bit better when the Ducks hoisted the first ever Pac-12 championship up at Autzen Stadium but the program's standards are now so high that the season is sort of considered a disappointment.
Looking ahead: If the program wants to its cement status as one of the game's elite than they're going to have to win the Rose Bowl no if's and's, or but's about it. That it would be the school's second ever win (and first since 1917) would also cement the squad as one of the best in Oregon history.
Looking back: The MAC champions had a thrilling come-from-behind win to capture the league title thanks in large part to quarterback Chandler Harnish. Northern Illinois also ran off eight straight wins after a narrow loss to Central Michigan earlier in the year.
Looking forward: There was nothing like mid-week MACtion this year and it's up for the Huskies to end the season on a high note.
Looking back: Arkansas State head coach Hugh Freeze's up-tempo offense produced the school's first winning season since 1995 and a host of records. Quarterback Ryan Aplin is 11th in total offense and was a dual-threat that couldn't be stopped during Sun Belt play. Given that their only two losses were to BCS foes (including a closer than expected loss to BCS-bound Virginia Tech), this is easily the most successful year in the program's history.
Looking forward: Though Freeze will depart for Ole Miss, there will be plenty of players around that can still beat NIU.
BBVA Compass Bowl
Looking back: Things started on the wrong foot in the opener but running back Zach Line was the big star to emerge for SMU as they pulled together a seven win season. The Mustangs had a five game winning streak before coming back to reality later in the year and were actually led by a solid defensive unit.
Looking ahead: Head coach June Jones might be moving on to greener pastures but after 25 years of no bowls, the school's third straight postseason trip is something to cherish.
Looking back: It was an up and down debut season for new head coach Todd Graham as Pitt never could find consistency. They were never blown out, losing four games by 11 points, but couldn't put together back-to-back wins outside of the first two games against lackluster teams.
Looking ahead: The Panthers return to Birmingham for the second straight year trying to give Graham and staff, some of whom are headed to Arizona, momentum heading into the offseason.
Looking back: One of Bill Snyder's best coaching jobs in a career full of them, Kansas State was left out of a BCS bowl but found their way into a de facto one after a 10 win season - the highest win total since 2003. The Wildcats started 7-0 before dropping two straight to the Oklahoma schools before puling things together. Quarterback Collin Klein leads the team in both passing and rushing and has scored an impressive 26 touchdowns. It may not have been the prettiest team in the country but they found every which way to win.
Looking ahead: The team could tie the school-record for wins in a season, a remarkable accomplishment considering they were picked 8th in the preseason.
Looking back: Though they won't be going to the BCS, they can still hang their hats on the fact that their only losses came on the road to the teams ranked first and second. The Razorbacks explosive offense led behind quarterback Tyler Wilson is one reason for their success even if he's been beaten up behind his offensive line.
Looking ahead: They've played in this building before and had a furious comeback against Texas A&M so the stage shouldn't be an issue for the Hogs. They're ranked sixth and could turn in the best season under Bobby Petrino with a win.
Looking back: Michigan State fell short of a Big Ten championship but still put together a successful season that included wins over rival Michigan and a thrilling hail mary to beat Wisconsin. The offense is solid with Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield but the defense is the reason for the success this year. The Spartans not only captured a 10-win season but also won the first ever Legends division title.
Looking ahead: MSU will have to play through the disappointment of their tough championship game loss and refocus for a bowl game. They remember all too well what happened last year so coming out with a win is imperative as the impressive senior group departs.
Looking back: The season started with Mark Richt on the hot seat and two losses to top teams that turned the pressure up a notch. Georgia responded, running off 10 straight thanks to the ease of the schedule and the toughness of their defense. Linebacker Jarvis Jones was a star, leading the SEC in sacks, as the Bulldogs found their way back to Atlanta by winning the East. The lack of depth hurt at times but Aaron Murray was a solid young quarterback and Isaiah Crowell lived up to his billing at running back.
Looking ahead: The Dawgs are playing in January and need a big win to end the year on a high note and make everybody forget about last year.
Looking back: A once promising season started to unravel in the offseason, with something negative happening to the program seemingly every month since it became known about the "Buckeye Five." Jim Tressel was out and Luke Fickell was suddenly thrust into the spotlight at head coach. The defense was good but the offense was pretty bad, especially the passing game. Freshman Braxton Miller was a good spark and showed flashes of being something special.
Looking ahead: The Urban Meyer Bowl is an understandable storyline but the Buckeyes won't have their opponent's former head coach on the sidelines coaching them. Showing him what he has to work with will be big for the program however.
Looking back: It was a terrible season by the lofty standards in Gainesville but more than that, it just wasn't fun to watch Florida's offense. John Brantley figured to be a good fit in Charlie Weis' system but wasn't and got hurt. It was tough to produce first downs much less big plays and the defense, though solid, didn't seem to make the stops needed to get some wins. The Gators finished below .500 in the conference, won only three games versus BCS schools and lost four straight to in the middle of a forgettable season.
Looking ahead: The bumps and bruises of the year can all be erased against Ohio State and a small measure of revenge against their former head coach who left just a year ago.
Capital One Bowl
Looking back: A solid first effort in the Big Ten for Nebraska, which ended with nine wins but seemed to have issues being consistent. Quarterback Taylor Martinez didn't make the leap you'd expect this year and the defense wasn't as impressive as many thought they would be. Injuries played a part but don't explain losses to teams like Northwestern at home or blowouts to Wisconsin and Michigan.
Looking ahead: A rare match up against an SEC team for the Cornhuskers, a win would give them a 10 win season for the third straight year and allow them to count their Big Ten money at home in a much happier mood.
Looking back: There are wild rides and there's South Carolina under the Old Ball Coach Steve Spurrier. They looked a little shaky early but overcame adversity by managing a 10-2 season despite losing their starting quarterback and running back to suspension and injury, respectively. They almost won the division but, in retrospect, perhaps it was better that they didn't face LSU this year.
Looking ahead: The Gamecocks are looking to post their first 11 win season in more than 100 years and end a three-bowl losing streak by riding the momentum of beating rival Clemson at the end of the year.
Looking back: It looked like it was going to be a surprisingly good season before the Jerry Sandusky scandal showed the world the skeletons locked in Penn State's closets. Joe Paterno is out and the issues facing the program are still very much ongoing.
Looking ahead: Nittany Lions players are not happy to have fallen this far in the bowl pecking order but they're still going to need to show up if they want a 10th win and something positive to think about in the offseason.
Looking back: Oh what could have been. The dream season led by record-setting quarterback Case Keenum ended in a thud in the Conference USA championship game at home. The offense was the focal point with a slew of weapons at wide out and running back but there's no doubt that last game zapped all the positive things gong for a program that almost made the BCS.
Looking ahead: Kevin Sumlin might be at another school by the time the Cougars play but Keenum and the senior class can still go out on top by beating a marquee opponent and posting one of the best year's in school history.
Looking back: It was a successful turnaround for Mike London that had Virginia on the cusp of playing for the ACC title after several upsets along the way. Alas, a loss to the rival Hokies ended that but things are looking up in Charlottesville based on the way the team played week-in and week-out.
Looking ahead: Playing in their first bowl since 2007, the team is hungry to end the year with nine wins and plenty of positive vibes.
Looking back: Earlier this year Auburn was holding up a crystal ball. After a ton of losses on both sides of the ball, the Tigers took their lumps and struggled on offense and defense. The team was ran over in the Iron Bowl and ended the year on a sour note after surprising many with a win over South Carolina and bouncing around the top 25.
Looking ahead: Back to back lopsided losses in the final two SEC games will be a motivating factor for a young team that is looking to move back into contention for a West title next year.
Looking back: Cincinnati surprised many with six straight wins in the middle of the season and appeared to be on their way to a BCS bowl until quarterback Zach Collaros got hurt.
Looking ahead: The Bearcats have a chance at 10 wins and are playing in a bowl after missing one last season.
Looking back: James Franklin had one of the best coaching jobs in the country by taking a team that had gone 4-20 over the past to years to the school's fifth ever bowl game.
Looking ahead: It's all about building up the momentum for the Commodores under Franklin, who just signed a nice new contract. The senior class will be the only one in school history to play in two bowl and want to make sure they are also the first two win two.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Looking back: UCLA represented the Pac-12 South in the championship game thanks to crosstown rival USC's ineligibility but back-to-back bad losses left the Bruins with some lumps on the field and no head coach off it. There were some bright spots in Rick Neuheisel's final season but some bad losses as both sides of the ball struggled.
Looking ahead: The Interim Head Coach Bowl is all about history for UCLA, who received a waiver to play in the game at 6-7. The team is looking to avoid going 6-8 for the first time in NCAA history.
Looking back: A promising 6-0 start was soon undone by a stretch of six straight losses. Things reached a low point after losing to lowly Minnesota to end the season, sealing the fate of head coach Ron Zook after seven seasons.
Looking ahead: Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will lead the program and no doubt wants to leave a good impression, as do the Illini with the chance to go across the country and wind up with a winning season.
Looking back: Six straight wins to open the season had many thinking Georgia Tech as a team to watch out for with their option offense. Things hit a rough patch as they lost four of their next six but the Yellow Jackets still managed to upset Clemson and reach their 15th straight bowl game.
Looking ahead: This is the first time they'll head to El Paso and should be excited trying to reach the nine win plateau.
Looking back: It wasn't quite the way Utah wanted their first ever Pac-12 season to go but they still managed to pull out seven wins despite a rash of injuries. The defense wasn't bad at all but the offense struggled to score all year long.
Looking ahead: The Utes hope to enter the offseason healthy, wealthy and with a win.
Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl
Looking back: It started out as one of the most promising seasons in recent memory for Texas A&M but ended with quite a thud. There was the move to the SEC that dominated much of the conversation about the Aggies before they turned second half collapses into their trademark. As a result of the fall from grace, head coach Mike Sherman found himself looking for a new job.
Looking ahead: The Aggies are close to home and need a win to provide some sort of momentum as they look to head into the nation's toughest conference.
Looking back: The year began with a Heisman push for quarterback Dan Persa in the form of billboards and barbels touting "Persa Strong." He wasn't however, failing to recover from an Achilles injury soon enough leading to struggles early on. Things got turned around and the Wildcats even pulled off a huge upset against Nebraska.
Looking ahead: The program hasn't won a bowl game since 1948 so ending that streak seems like a good stepping stone into 2012.
Looking back: Remember when Oklahoma was the top team in the country? Yeah… Injuries to the Sooners' leading receiver and running back set the offense back a few steps and the defense never lived up to expectations. The trashing in Bedlam was rock bottom for a team that started with aspirations of a national title.
Looking ahead: The team doesn't want to be here and has rarely seen a non-BCS bowl under Bob Stoops so finding motivation will be a challenge. A loss will punctuate one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory so the still-talented Sooners will want to get that important 10th win.
Looking back: Not sure there is a team that could be as average this year as Iowa was. The offense and defense were just about in the middle of FBS and alternated wins and losses down the stretch to finish a game above .500. A win over Michigan was a season highlight but other than that, there wasn't much to get excited about.
Looking ahead: The Hawkeyes are a young team so they could use the trip out West as a building block for 2012.
Music City Bowl
Looking back: Wake Forest finished .500 on the year but managed to pull off some surprises, such as a win against Florida State and some closer than expected losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. The offense and defense were fairly nondescript this season.
Looking ahead: A third place finish in the division was a better than expected result for the regular season but dropping below the .500 mark would diminish things.
Looking back: After last season's banner year, many expected Mississippi State to keep things going under Dan Mullen. Inconsistency on offense, quarterback in particular, was part of the reason why the Bulldogs finished just .500 and had just two wins over BCS teams.
Looking ahead: An Egg Bowl win and second consecutive bowl game are a good thing to note when Mullen hits the recruiting trail.
Looking back: Iowa State's season didn't really come down to one game but it's pretty clear that the upset of Oklahoma State at home was the thing the Cyclones held their hats on. Beating Iowa earlier in the year in overtime also made it a successful season despite finishing 6-6.
Looking ahead: Paul Rhodes is building something up in Ames and a bowl win would be a nice capper to the season with such a young team.
Looking back: Hardly anybody gave Rutgers a chance to be more than average this year but they rode a strong defense to an 8-4 year. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was the bright spot, toping 1,110 yards and scoring seven touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Some said that Greg Schiano was on the hot seat but he's moved off of it and can firmly put the talk to bed with a ninth win.
Armed Forces Bowl
Looking back: BYU's first season as an independent didn't quite turn out like they wanted with a narrow loss to Texas and blowout loss to Utah on the schedule. The Cougars still finished up 9-3 and on a three game winning streak.
Looking ahead: Pointing at 10 wins in their first season on their own would be a nice way to end a tumultuous year.
Looking back: Despite changing head coaches, Tulsa had a great run through Conference USA and finished 8-4 with an iffy defense. Their only losses were to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston, whose records aren't too shabby.
Looking ahead: The Golden Hurricanes have won seven of eight and no doubt want to make it eight of nine.
Looking back: Robert Griffin III took a team with a defense ranked 110th in the country and led them to nine wins, including the first in school history over Oklahoma and another over Texas.
Looking ahead: You figure there's a good chance that RGIII wins or comes close to winning the Heisman and this game could be his final swan song if he moves on to the NFL.
Looking back: Everybody though it would be tough for Washington to get back to a bowl game after they lost quarterback Jake Locker but Keith Price took over and actually outperformed everybody's expectations. The defense was shaky and they couldn't come close to the conference's elite but still a nice season in Seattle.
Looking ahead: Steve Sarkisian is building a program up so their second straight bowl win is a great sign of progress but nothing like what a second straight bowl win would be like.
Champs Sports Bowl
Looking back: There was talk of a BCS bowl game this year for Notre Dame but expectations have a habit of being inflated for the Irish. They had a great win (in retrospect) over Michigan State but the season seemed to turn following the loss to USC with the team running off four straight and wind up 8-4.
Looking ahead: In a year considered a disappointment by their own high standards, a win over a team like Florida State will be a nice way to end the season.
Looking back: One of the biggest disappointments in college football, Florida State started in the top five but wind up 8-4 after losses to teams like Wake Forest. Injuries and youth played a part, sure, but it just wasn't the season Jimbo Fisher had hoped for when talking up this team earlier in the year.
Looking ahead: No one is recruiting like the Seminoles are and a big win in their home state while rivals are struggling would go a long ways.
Looking back: Jeff Tedford was likely going to get another year but how California did this season would determine just how hot the seat was. A nice win over Arizona State to end the season and a close than expected loss to Stanford in the Big Game mean it's not too bad for Tedford.
Looking ahead: This is for a little revenge, as Cal no doubt wants to beat Texas after the Longhorns advocated for a BCS bid over them a few years ago.
Looking back: It was a brief hiatus from the postseason for Texas and though they couldn't find a good option at quarterback, the defense was good and they ended the rivalry with Texas A&M with a last second win.
Looking ahead: An eight win season is something most programs would take in a heart beat but it's almost required of Mack Brown this year.
Looking back: Air Force comes in to the aptly named Military Bowl with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy and option attack that was second in the country in rushing. The defense wasn't up to standards but a solid football team this year.
Looking ahead: They can't lose the Military Bowl, can they?
Looking back: Toledo seemed to go through the ringer this season with a close loss to Ohio State and the fiasco in the Syracuse finish. They ended the season winning seven of eight and have a high-powered offense people have to keep track of.
Looking ahead: They didn't win the MAC but a nine win season and bowl win are a nice thing to have for the Rockets.
Looking back: Not much was expected of Louisville this season, especially after losing to FIU at home, but Charlie Strong put together one of the best coaching jobs in the country as the Cardinals won five of their last six and beat champ West Virginia.
Looking ahead: Finishing strong and giving developing freshman Teddy Bridgewater are two things the program can take into the offseason.
Looking back: Despite the record, N.C. State didn't really put together a strong season when you consider they had just four wins over a BCS AQ team, one of whom didn't even go to a bowl game.
Looking ahead: Tom O'Brien is on the hot seat but he's 8-1 in bowl games and hopes an eight win season will cool things off for next year.
Looking back: James Franklin was solid in his first season as a starter and Missouri managed to pull out wins against all of the Texas schools except Baylor. The Tigers couldn't beat one of the Big 12's elite teams but it was a good effort for a team that had to replace several pieces on both sides of the ball.
Looking ahead: The school departs to the SEC and would like to have a bowl win on their resume (who knows, it might be awhile before they get back).
Looking back: Given that their coach was fired right after media days, a 7-5 campaign might be considered a success. The offense was surprisingly good with quarterback Bryn Renner, Dwight Jones at wide receiver and Giovani Bernard at running back.
Looking ahead: Who knows what NCAA sanctions might be for the program but a bowl win over an "SEC" team is a nice way to cap an up-and-down year in Chapel Hill.
Looking back: It's last year's successful campaign but it was a solid one nevertheless that included a five game winning streak led by new quarterback Cody Fajardo.
Looking ahead: They're going to the Hawaii Bowl so plenty of things to look forward to on the islands.
Looking back: Southern Miss had one of the most successful seasons in school history, finishing with 11 wins and the Conference USA championship. They had two puzzling losses, to Marshall and UAB, but upset Houston to throw a wrench into the BCS plans of their conference rival.
Looking ahead: They might be without their head coach but plenty to like about a trip out West.
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl
Looking back: What does it take for Boise State to get a good kicker? The Broncos lost a heartbreaker to TCU at home and that ended what could have been their chance to finally play for the national championship. It was still a very successful season with a big win over an SEC team but that one game against the Horned Frogs seemed to take a lot away.
Looking ahead: Kellen Moore is the winning starting quarterback in FBS history and would like one more to go out in style.
Looking back: It was such a promising year for Arizona State but a stretch run to forget. The offense exceeded expectations but had issues with turnovers and the defense didn't live up to their billing.
Looking ahead: Without a head coach, the Sun Devils don't have much to play for but their fans to get a trip to Vegas out of it.
Looking back: Had they not lost to SMU at home, TCU likely would have made the BCS. Instead, they wind up in San Diego but leave the Mountain West in style with conference title in hand and another double-digit win total.
Looking ahead: 11 wins and a top 15 ranking are a nice thing to have when joining the Big 12 next year.
Looking back: Louisiana Tech won the WAC with a 6-1 conference record and seven straight wins to end the season. They almost beat Houston earlier in the year as well.
Looking ahead: A marquee win is something the Bulldogs don't have this year but one over TCU would certainly qualify.
Stat of the week
Via Rivals' David Fox, Landry Jones is 110-of-200 with no touchdowns and seven interceptions in four games since receiver Ryan Broyles got hurt.
Stats of the week
- Wisconsin's Montee Ball led the country in scoring and rushing. He had 38 total touchdowns, which was more than 52 teams.
- Oklahoma State wins a conference title and trip to a major bowl for the first time since 1945.
- The final numbers for Case Keenum: 69% completion, 152 touchdowns-46 interceptions, 18,685 yards passing.
- Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are tied for 7th on the active list with 80 touchdown passes. Luck has been more efficient and has a chance to pass Barkley in the bowl game.
- LaMichael James still lead the country in rushing yards per game. He finished fourth in total yards despite playing fewer games than everybody else.
- Robert Griffin III (192.31) narrowly edged out Russell Wilson (191.60) for the top passing efficiency title. Both marks top the NCAA single season record by a considerable margin. Wilson set an NCAA record with a touchdown pass in 37 straight games.
- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly finished the year with 191 tackles, 44 more than anybody else.
- Stanford failed to score just once in the red zone (63/64 trips) and had 50 touchdowns and just 13 field goals.
- 46% of Trent Richardson's rushing yards came against North Texas, Ole Miss, Georgia Southern and Auburn.
- First time Texas has finished below .500 in conference in back-to-back years since 1937-38.
Tweets of the week
"Bra we would <s class="hash" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; opacity: 0.7; text-decoration: none; display: inline-block;">#</s>smash OKST......they coach better calm down."
- LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard.
"I have no time for Mike Gundy. Dude just claimed Ok state would score 35 points on LSU..pass me what your drankin coach."
- Alabama tight end Brad Smelley.
3. Oklahoma State
4. Boise State
10. Kansas State
Leaning this way
National championship game: LSU
Rose Bowl: Oregon
Fiesta Bowl: Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Michigan
Orange Bowl: West Virginia
Tags: 2011, Aaron Murray, ACC, Air Force, Alabama, Alamo Bowl, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Armed Forces Bowl, Auburn, Autzen Stadium, BBVA Compass Bowl, BCS, Belk Bowl, Big 12, Big East, Big House, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Boone Pickens, Boston College, Brad Smelly, Brad Wing, Brady Hoke, Brandon Weeden, Bryan Fischer, Bryn Renner, Buckeye Five, Bud Foster, BYU, Cal, California, Capital One Bowl, Case Keenum, Central Michigan, Champs Sports Bowl, Chandler Harnish, Charlie Strong, Charlie Weis, Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Chip Kelly, Cincinnati, Clemson, Cody Fajardo, Collin Klein, Conference USA, Cotton Bowl, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Dan Persa, Dana Holgorsen, David Shaw, David Wilson, Denard Robinson, Dwight Jones, Edwin Baker, Egg Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Gator Bowl, Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Giovani Bernard, GoDaddy.com Bowl, Greg Mattison, Greg Schiano, Hawaii Bowl, Heisman, Heisman Trophy, Holiday Bowl, Honey Badger, Hugh Freeze, Independence Bowl, Insight Bowl, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa State, Iron Bowl, Isaiah Crowell, Jake Locker, James Franklin, James Franklin, Jarvis Jones, Jeff Tedford, Jerry Sandusky, Jim Tressel, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, John Brantley, June Jones, Kansas State, Keith Price, Kellen Moore, Kevin Sumlin, Kirk Cousins, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Le'Veon Bell, Les Miles, Liberty Bowl, Logan Thomas, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, LSU, Luke Fickell, Luke Kuechly, Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, Mack Brown, MACtion, Mark Richt, Marshall, Matt Barkley, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Michigan State, Michigan State, Mike Gundy, Mike London, Mike Sherman, Military Bowl, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Mohamed Sanu, Montee Ball, Mountain West, Music City Bowl, N.C. State, N.C. State, National Championship Game, NCAA, Nebraska, NFL, Nick Saban, North Carolina, North Texas, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oliver Luck, Orange Bowl, Oregon, Outback Bowl, Pac-12, Paul Rhodes, Pinstripe Bowl, Pitt, Poinsettia Bowl, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Griffin III, Ron Zook, Rose Bowl, Russell Shepard, Russell Wilson, Rutgers, Ryan Aplin, Ryan Broyles, Sammy Watkins, SEC, SMU, South Carolina, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford, Steve Sarkisian, Steve Spurrier, Sugar Bowl, Sun Belt, Sun Bowl, Surveying the Field, Syracuse, Taylor Martinez, Teddy Bridgewater, Texas, Texas A&M, TicketCity Bowl, Todd Graham, Toledo, Tom O'Brien, Trent Richardson, Tulsa, Tyrann Mathieu, UAB, UCLA, Urban Meyer, USC, Utah, Vic Koenning, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Tech, WAC, Washington, West Virginia, Wofford, Zach Collaros, Zach Line
Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:56 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: For the first time in many years, the Cowboys come into this game against their in-state rivals and should be considered the better team. The most important thing Oklahoma State may have in this game is knowing exactly that, as it sometimes seems that the Cowboys have a "little brother" syndrome against Oklahoma. Aside from confidence, however, the Cowboys should pay attention to what Baylor did against Oklahoma a few weeks ago. The Bears threw for 485 yards against the Sooners and protected Robert Griffin from the Oklahoma pass rush. Which is exactly what Oklahoma State will need to do for Brandon Weeden. Another huge factor will be turnovers. The biggest reason Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State was not the Oklahoma State defense having one of its worst nights of the season -- though it surely didn't help -- it was the fact that Oklahoma State turned the ball over 5 times, including 3 interceptions by Weeden. It doesn't matter who you are, you turn the ball over 5 times, you're going to lose more often than not. So in order for Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma, taking care of the football will be priority number one.
OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: When playing Oklahoma State, first and foremost you need to slow down the Cowboys offense, and the Sooners have a defense that is capable of doing that. The Sooners should have a simple three-word mantra for this contest, and that's "Get To Weeden." The Oklahoma State offensive line has allowed only 11 sacks this season, but this is an Oklahoma defense that is second in the Big 12 with 37 sacks on the season. Which means that the battle between the Oklahoma State offensive line and Oklahoma defensive line will be one of the most important matchups in this contest. Odds are whichever side wins is going to win the game. On offense for the Sooners, Landry Jones will have to follow the advice given to Brandon Weeden and protect the ball. Everyone likes to think the Oklahoma State defense is terrible, but it has a defensive pass efficiency rating that is better than Oklahoma's, and has 21 interceptions on the season compared to 13 touchdowns allowed.
X-FACTOR: Blake Bell. The Belldozer has taken on a bigger role within the Sooners offense over the last few weeks since guys like Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles went down to injury. Well, that role may expand against Oklahoma State. Bell is a bruising quarterback in the mold of a Tim Tebow or Collin Klein. Well, Klein rushed for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Oklahoma State defense earlier this season, and if you don't think Bob Stoops is very much aware of that, well, trust me, he's very much aware of that.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:26 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.
It's a bit of a low-carb diet this week thanks to most of the SEC deciding to take the week off and test itself against stalwarts like Georgia Southern and Furman, but that doesn't mean there aren't games out there worthy of your time. Besides, let's be honest with ourselves. We didn't really want to say anything to you about it, but you've been gorging on some great games the last few months and you're starting to get a bit pudgy around the edges.
You could use some lighter fare this weekend.
#18 Michigan vs. #16 Nebraska - ESPN 12pm ET
Michigan State may have the Legends division title all but sewn up, but if there's an at-large BCS bid to be had, it'll probably come from the winner of this game. As for reasons to watch instead of just care, come on. It's Denard Robinson. It's Rex Burkhead. There'll be some highlight plays in this one. - Adam Jacobi
Illinois vs. #17 Wisconsin - ESPN2 12pm ET
It's probably no exaggeration to say that Ron Zook's job at Illinois is on the line in this game; Zook, now the second-most tenured coach in the Big Ten, has seen his team drop four straight games and look listless in the process. Montee Ball would be happy to contribute a touchdown or five to Zook's going-away party, but can Illinois' stout defense save the day -- and the coach? - AJ
Rutgers vs. Cincinnati - ESPNU 12pm ET
After only winning one conference game in 2010 (Greg Schiano's worst conference record since 2004) and finishing dead last, the Scarlet Knights are in the hunt for BCS bowl bid. The Bearcats have lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros for the season to an ankle injury, and now sophomore Munchie Legaux will face a the best defense in the conference to try and bounce back from their first league loss. Cincinnati still holds one game on the rest of the conference, and can win the title outright if they win out. Rutgers needs to win out as well, but also get some help to win the tie-breaker. The Big East slate is thin this weekend, but there will be enough on the line to expect the best effort from both teams. - Chip Patterson
#14 Georgia vs. Kentucky - SEC Network 12:21pm ET
There's one reason to tune into this game and one reason alone: to see how the Bulldogs react to winning the SEC East for the first time since 2005. As a competitive contest, well, one of these teams defeated Auburn by 38 points last week, while the other lost by 30 to Vanderbilt. Still, it's not every day you get to see how Mark Richt reacts to a Gatorade shower. - Jerry Hinnen
#6 Arkansas vs. Mississippi State - CBS 3:30pm ET
Dan Mullen's Bulldogs gave Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks fits last season, taking the eventual Sugar Bowl representatives into overtime. Could they do the same this year, with a potential SEC West title still on the line for the Hogs and the game in Little Rock? A somnabulant offense says "probably not", but in corner Johnathan Banks and tackle Fletcher Cox, the Bulldogs do have the defensive weapons to at least slow down Tyler Wilson and Co. - JH
Ohio State vs. #21 Penn State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
For the multitudes of distractions facing Penn State, it still has two tough games to play, and it still has a division lead to protect. The Nittany Lions' first step is taking on an up-and-down Ohio State team that's going to try to wear down the PSU defense with its troika of tailbacks and dual-threat (if you can call his arm a threat) QB Braxton Miller. This'll be a classic Big Ten game, with pads a-popping, defenses a-stifling, and running backs a-barreling for four quarters. - AJ
N.C. State vs. #7 Clemson - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
This all be the ultimate test of focus for Dabo Swinney's young squad. The Tigers set goals to win the division, state championship, and ACC Championship. With the division clinched and South Carolina waiting next week, Clemson could lose to the Wolfpack and still accomplish their goals. NC State needs to beat Clemson and Maryland in order to be bowl eligible for the second straight season. The Tigers have an outside shot to still make a BCS bowl game if they lose in the ACC Championship, but even those long odds would be erased with a loss on Saturday. Both teams are explosive and capable of scoring quickly, so expect the unexpected in this ACC battle. - CP
Missouri vs. Texas Tech - ABC 3:30pm ET
A bit of a last stand for Texas Tech, which has lost five of its last six games after starting the season 4-0. The Red Raiders still need one more win to become bowl eligible, and it won't be easy to get there. Missouri is a team that's proven it's capable of beating anybody in the Big 12 on any given Saturday, though you do have to wonder how this team will perform on its Senior Day without Gary Pinkel who is serving a suspension for a DWI arrest earlier this week. - Tom Fornelli
#25 Florida State vs. Virginia - ESPN2 7:30pm ET
The Seminoles are on a five-game game winning streak since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup, averaging over 35 points per game. But the "turnaround" from the early season setbacks has been not only the result of improved play from Florida State, but also the advantage of facing much more favorable competition. Four the teams in the streak have defenses ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, and other game was the 34-0 shutout of NC State at home. Virginia's defense ranks third in the ACC, and the Cavaliers are arguably just as hot winning five of their last six. Mike London's new power rushing attack has helped the team reach bowl eligibility in just his second year, but Saturday will be a true test of how "legit" this ACC Coastal contender is heading into the postseason. - CP
#4 Oregon vs. USC - ABC 8pm ET
Like offense? This game is for you. The Ducks are well on their way to another conference title and can clinch hosting the first ever Pac-12 Championship game with a win. The Trojans have designs on an upset however and it's not out of the realm of possibilities with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods on the field. - Bryan Fischer
#22 Baylor vs. #5 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET
So far this season Baylor has lived on beating the lower-tiered teams of the Big 12 and struggling against the conference's best. This is the Bears last chance at a marquee victory in 2011, and it's probably catching Oklahoma at the best possible time. The Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles to knee injuries the last couple of weeks, and while there's never a good time to suffer such blows on offense, it hurts a bit more when you have to go head-to-head with Baylor's offense. There could be a big upset brewing in Waco. - TF
#23 Texas vs. #13 Kansas State - FX 8pm ET
Here's something you might not know: Kansas State has beaten Texas the last three times the schools have met, with Texas' last victory over the Wildcats coming in 2003. It's a losing streak that the Longhorns would really like to put an end to, though it won't be easy against a Kansas State offense built around Collin Klein. This should be a pretty interesting matchup boasting the Big 12's best run defense and its best running quarterback/battering ram. - TF
LATE NIGHT SNACK
#9 Stanford vs. Cal - ESPN 10:15pm ET
The band won't be on the field for this one (well, they will, but at halftime not on the final play) but the Big Game will still have plenty of memorable moments when you consider that Andrew Luck is playing and looking to make up for last week's loss. - BF
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bobby Petrino, Braxton Miller, Bryan Fischer, Cal, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Clemson, Collin Klein, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Denard Robinson, Dominique Whaley, E.J. Manuel, Fletcher Cox, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Greg Schiano, Illinois, Jerry Hinnen, Johnathan Banks, Kansas State, Kentucky, Mark Richt, Maryland, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Mike London, Mississippi State, Missouri, Montee Ball, Munchie Legaux, N.C. State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Rex Burkhead, Robert Woods, Ron Zook, Rutgers, Ryan Broyles, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin, Zach Collaros