November 16th, 2012
2012 Bowl Projections
Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama a week ago has dramatically turned the tables on the 2012-13 bowl picture. With two weeks to go, plus a few conference championship games remaining to play, anything can happen. Nothing is guaranteed as the Tide proved last week, but here is a look at how the BCS bowl scenario may play out.
Discover BCS National Championship
Kansas State vs. Oregon
The Ducks reach the title game by virtue of three impressive season-ending wins over Stanford, rival Oregon State, and UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. The Wildcats and their Heisman Trophy QB Collin Klein finish the season with Big 12 opponents Baylor and Texas then get a month-long break to prepare for the Ducks.
Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO
Wisconsin vs. Stanford
The Badgers get Nebraska in the Big Ten title game and get revenge for a 30-27 regular season loss. With Oregon going on to the national championship game, the Rose Bowl selects the next best Pac-12 team, the Cardinal, to represent the conference.
Discover Orange Bowl
Florida State vs. Notre Dame
FSU is clearly the best the ACC has to offer and after destroying whoever happens to back into the ACC championship from the Coastal Division will be the conference’s representative in the Orange Bowl. Notre Dame, which will make its case for a berth in the BCS title game after an unbeaten season, finishes the regular season ranked third and wishing it was 2014.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Louisville
The Tide wraps up the season with one loss and, being shut out of the title game due to the upset loss to the Aggies, wind up as the SEC choice. ‘Bama faces off against the Big East champion, Louisville. The Cardinals, under coach Charlie Strong, win out beating Rutgers in a season-ending Big East championship deciding game.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Georgia
With Kansas State heading to the national championship, the Sooners are the Big 12 choice to face off in a battle with one of the SEC’s best, Georgia. The Bulldogs struggle with the triple option in their final two games (Georgia Southern & Georgia Tech) but overpower both opponents to receive an at-large berth.
November 12th, 2012
As the 2012 college football season nears its end, talk of what teams will play in what bowl game has started. But where did the bowl games start? Here’s a brief look at the history of bowl games in college football.
The term “bowl” is taken from the earliest of all bowl games, the “granddaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl, which is also the name of the stadium in which the game is played. In 1902, the Tournament of Roses Association sponsored the East-West football game pitting teams from opposite ends of the country in an end of season event. The first game was played by Michigan and Stanford, a game that Michigan won, 49-0. Beginning in 1916, the game was played annually and was renamed the Rose Bowl in 1923 when the newly finished Rose Bowl stadium became the host.
Other cities throughout the country began to see the promotional value of such games, promoting tourism and industry in their areas. By 1940 there were five major college bowl games: the Sugar Bowl (1935), the Orange Bowl (1935), the Sun Bowl (1935), and the Cotton Bowl Classic (1937). Traditionally, bowl games were played in warm climates such as those in Southern California, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana. When the bowls originated, commercial air travel was non-existent so enough time had to be given for fans and family to travel to the games. Therefore, when football seasons ended in late November and early December, several weeks were given for travel and bowl games were played on or near New Year’s Day.
Bowl Games Increase
Up until the 1950s, all bowl games were played on New Year’s Day. At the time, there were only eight games. By the late 1950s, some of the games began playing in late December. More games began being played in December as more bowl games came into the mix. By 1990 there were 19 different bowl games and only the major bowl games were played on New Year’s Day.
Prior to 1992, bowl games had strict agreements with conferences. For example, the Rose Bowl traditionally had the champions of the Big Ten and the Pac-10 play each other. The Sugar Bowl always had the SEC champion playing the Big 8 winner. The problem with that format was that the top-ranked teams in the country may never meet at the end of the season to determine a champion.
Bowl System Now
Traditionally, committees representing each bowl game would select the teams that would compete in their bowl game. This practice still exists however, it is a little different since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998. Committees still exist but selecting teams is based upon conference affiliations with the different bowl games. Because of the bowl system and the vested economic interests related to the bowl games and also the longer regular season in Division I compared to lower divisions, there has never been a playoff system instituted to determine a national champion.
There are now 35 bowl games which begin play in mid-December and continue through early January. Teams must win six games during its regular season to be invited to play in a bowl game. The BCS system consists of five games, four “traditional” bowl games (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta) plus the national championship game. The two top-ranked teams in the final BCS poll play in the title game. Opponents for the four other games come first from the six major conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC), Notre Dame (if they qualify), and then other highly ranked teams.
Bowl Game Fun Facts
The University of Alabama has played in the most bowl games, 57, and has won 33 of those games. Nebraska holds the record for the longest consecutive streak of bowl game appearances with 35 straight from 1969 to 2005. Currently, Florida State has appeared in 30 straight bowls and will most likely make it 31 this season. Oklahoma is the only team that has appeared in all five of the BCS bowl games. The Sun Bowl, one of the original bowl games, along with the Cotton Bowl, are the only bowl games that are not televised on the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC). CBS broadcasts the Sun Bowl while the Cotton Bowl is televised by Fox Sports Network.
November 8th, 2012
Currently ranked third in the latest BCS poll with a record of 8-0, Notre Dame is on the verge of its first unbeaten season since 1988, when QB Tony Rice led the Irish to a national championship. Should Brian Kelly’s squad finish the season unbeaten at 12-0, the Irish will surely be in the BCS title discussion. Also in that discussion will be Kansas State, Oregon, and top-ranked Alabama.
Assuming that, like the Irish, the other three teams in the mix win out to finish the season, Notre Dame will be left wishing that it was 2014. That, of course, is when the new four-team playoff format will begin. Sure, Notre Dame’s schedule is probably good enough to warrant playing the title game, but of the next four opponents only USC has a winning record. Oregon will play three ranked opponents in their last four games and then likely another in the Pac-12 championship. Again assuming the Ducks win out, playing through that schedule will likely move Oregon Ducks ahead of ND in the BCS rankings.
Kansas State, currently ranked second, faces two ranked opponents, Oklahoma State and Texas, in its last four weeks, and also faces dangerous TCU (5-3). At the present, the Wildcats and the Irish are tied in the computer rankings with a composite percentage of .970. With KSU at 12-0 and facing a tougher schedule in the last four weeks, Notre Dame’s score will only decrease leaving the Irish with no chance of overtaking Kansas State.
Almost every likely championship scenario does not include the Irish. If Alabama and Kansas State win their remaining games, there’s no doubt they will play in the BCS title game. It is also likely that Alabama and Oregon could meet should both teams win out and KSU falter. Another scenario has a one-loss SEC team, possibly Georgia or LSU, in the title game as well.
For the Irish to be playing on Jan. 7th all of the cards will have to fall into place. And, yes, there are some key games remaining on the schedule, especially the big LSU-’Bama showdown, which will have a huge impact on the BCS championship. First, Notre Dame must win handily over the teams they should-Pitt, Boston College, and Wake Forest. Then, they will need to put up some serious numbers against USC in the LA Coliseum. A victory is great, but a little cushion on the final score wouldn’t hurt.
With the 12-0 record in the bag, the Irish will then have to hope the teams at the top stumble along the last four weeks. A one-loss Alabama may still make it to Jan. 7th, if that loss is to LSU and not in the SEC championship. A one-loss Oregon might still have a shot if its loss is to USC in the regular season and comes back and destroys its opponent in the Pac-12 title game. A Kansas State loss will likely take them out of the picture since there is no Big 12 title game to count on for redemption. Plus, the Wildcats face Texas and Oklahoma State, each ranked in the lower end of the Top 25. Losing to either won’t be the same as losing to say, a No. 5 LSU. Regardless, Notre Dame’s path the BCS glory is murky at best.
October 28th, 2012
Halfway into the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the big surprises, some not-so-surprises, and biggest flops yet so far. After winning a national title and losing four players to the first round of the NFL Draft, Alabama was thought by many to have lost just a little too much to continue their dominance. At the midpoint of the season, the Tide is clearly the best team in the country with a bruising running game, solid QB play from A.J. McCarron, and the nation’s best defense.
Surprisingly, the Florida Gators are not far behind and are looking to make a run through the SEC East in order to take the Tide for the SEC title come December. Coach Will Muschamp, in just his second year, has brought the Gators back into the national title picture with a strong dose of RB Mike Gillislee and what may be the nation’s second-best defense. In a 44-11 blowout win over then No. 7-ranked South Carolina, it was the Florida defense and special teams that forced four turnovers. The Gators are already 5-0 in SEC play, with three of those wins coming on the road against ranked opponents.
Notre Dame (6-0) surely has surprised many sweeping Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue, then destroying Miami and beating a very good Stanford team in overtime. And the Irish did all of this with some pretty shaky quarterback play. The Irish still have two big tests remaining on their schedule (Oklahoma, USC), but could find themselves in the thick of the BCS championship picture at season’s end.
Maybe the two biggest surprises are Oregon State and Kansas State. Both are unbeaten, but the Beavers are coming off a disastrous 3-0 campaign a year ago. So far, they have beaten Wisconsin, hammered BYU and have destroyed three Pac-12 opponents. Kansas State, which has always been good under Bill Snyder, has just been phenomenal. Quarterback Collin Klein may be the nation’s best player and the Wildcats play great defense and just don’t make many mistakes. KSU still has some big games remaining, but they are another team that could find themselves in that BCS title picture should they win out.
On the other end of the college football stratosphere is Auburn. Just two years removed from a national championship, head coach Gene Chizik finds his Tigers sitting at 1-5 with one of the country’s worst offenses. Their QB play has been horrendous and the Tigers may have trouble winning another game this season.
Right beside Chizik is John L. Smith at Arkansas. The Hogs were ranked in the preseason Top Ten and after former coach Bobby Petrino’s bout with motorcycle mayhem cost him his job, Smith walked in ready to ride Petrino’s wave to an SEC title. Five weeks into the season, Arkansas stood at 1-4 losing to mid-major Louisiana-Monroe, then getting trounced at home by Alabama the following week. The Hogs are now 3-4 with consecutive wins over Auburn and Kentucky, neither of which is very good.
With the recent success of school’s like Michigan State and Wisconsin, and even Michigan’s 11-2 season a year ago, one would have thought that the Big Ten might rival the SEC for college football dominance. Not so. Michigan and Wisconsin each have two losses thus far and Michigan State sits at 4-4 going into the ninth week of the season. Northwestern has been a surprise, rattling off six straight wins to start the season, but from top to bottom, the conference is nowhere near the SEC or even the Big 12.
With another eight weeks to go, there is still plenty of football left. What remains to be seen is how the BCS title picture plays out and, who will move to the forefront in the race for the Heisman Trophy.
October 23rd, 2012
NCAA College Football Showdown Saturday did not disappoint as the weekend was full of quality match-ups, including a Top Ten battle in Gainesville. The No. 2-ranked Florida Gators proved they are worthy of their lofty BCS ranking clearly outplaying No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks in a 44-11 victory. The Florida defense and special teams forced four Gamecock turnovers, three of which Gator QB Jeff Driskell turned into touchdown passes. Driskell, who continues to improve, threw for four touchdowns. Both Florida and SC played outstanding defense. The Gators managed just 183 total yards, becoming the first FBS team in history to score over 40 points without gaining 200 yards of total offense.
Alabama Crimsontide, ranked No. 1 in the BCS, had little trouble with Tennessee in a 44-13 win. Tide QB A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. The vaunted ‘Bama defense gave up just 79 yards rushing to the Vols and held Tyler Bray, the highly touted Vols’ QB, to 184 yards on 13-of-27 passing and no touchdowns.
Prior to Saturday’s lineup feast, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks traveled to Arizona State and dismantled any hopes of an upset in the first 15 minutes of play en route to a 43-21 win over the Sun Devils. ASU scored on its first play, a 28-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Kevin Ozier, to jump out to a 7-0 lead just 49 seconds into the game. The Ducks countered with a Kenjon Barner 71-yard run and two Marcus Mariota touchdown passes to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Barner would run for two more scores and Mariota, an 86-yard run, as the Ducks built a 43-7 halftime lead.
In somewhat of a surprise, head coach Bill Snyder’s No.4 Kansas State Wildcats went to Morgantown and made it look easy against Geno Smith and West Virginia as Wildcat QB Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns in a 55-14 thrashing of the No. 13 Mountaineers. Klein established himself as a legitimate Heisman favorite with a career-high 323 passing yards, completing 19-of-21 passes, three touchdowns, and added 41 yards on the ground and four scores.
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish remained unbeaten fighting off a 14-7 halftime deficit to defeat Brigham Young, 17-14. The Irish rolled up 270 yards on the ground and George Atkinson III scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Running backs Theo Riddick (15 carries, 143 yards) and Cierre Wood (18-114) led the way for ND. Irish QB Tommy Rees, playing in place of the injured Everett Golson, completed six of his first seven passes, then only attempted three in the entire second half. Notre Dame’s defense limited BYU to just 66 yards on the ground.
After falling behind 12-0, No. 6 LSU scored 24 unanswered points and downed No. 18 Texas A&M, 24-19, in College Station. The Tigers started ugly but were able to gain some momentum going into the halftime break when Zach Mettenberger hit Kadron Boone with a 29-yard TD pass with 11 seconds to go to give LSU the lead for good at 14-12. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s dynamic freshman QB, was held to just 27 yards rushing on 17 carries and was intercepted three times. LSU RB Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 127 yards on 18 carries and scored once.
The surprising Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 8 in last week’s BCS poll, took care of Pac-12 opponent, Utah, 21-7. OSU forced four Utah turnovers and Beavers’ RB Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns. Oregon State is 6-0 and off to the school’s best start in 105 years after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this preseason.
Oklahoma got ready for its showdown next weekend with Notre Dame by handing Kansas a 52-7 setback. The No. 9 Sooners were hardly challenged by coach Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks. Sooner QB Landry Jones threw for three touchdowns and Penn State transfer Justin Brown returned a punt 90 yards for a TD. OU has now won three consecutive games by at least three touchdowns.
It was a record-breaking day at USC Trojans as QB Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes in the game’s first six minutes as the Trojans, BCS No. 10, beat Colorado, 50-6. Barkley’s second TD pass, a 39-yarder to Robert Woods, broke former Trojan QB Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 career touchdown passing mark. Barkley finished the day 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdowns, giving him 102 TD passes for his career.
October 13th, 2012
With the upcoming release of the season’s first BCS standings, there will be talk of Alabama and what other SEC teams will be in the top ten. There will be talk of the improvement of the Pac-12 and the woes of the Big Ten. But what about the bottom feeders? What about the teams at the other end of the spectrum? Here’s a look at the ten worst college football teams in the country.
10. Colorado State (1-5)
After a season-opening win over in-state rival Colorado, the Colorado State Rams have dropped five straight, including a 22-7 loss to last year’s FCS champ, North Dakota State. CSU is horrible on defense giving up 30 points per game and maybe even worse on offense where they rank 117th in scoring, just 16 points per game. The running game is one of the three worst in the nation (96 yards a game) and the team’s leading rusher, Chris Nwoke, has just 162 yards.
9. Colorado (1-5)
Football in the state of Colorado is simply not good. Head coach Jon Embree is on his last legs for sure. After the aforementioned loss to rival Colorado State to start the year, the Colorado Buffaloes proceeded to lose to FCS Sacramento State, 30-28. A second-half rally provided the team’s only victory, a dramatic 35-34 win over Washington State, but this team is on the brink of disaster. Teams that give up 41 points a game rarely win and Colorado still must play the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and Stanford Cardinals, all ranked teams.
8. Kansas (1-4)
If Dorothy clicked her heels, she would awake to find the latest in futility from the Kansas football program. New head coach Charlie Weis was supposed to at least revive a sluggish offense. The Kansas Jayhawks are 111th in scoring offense putting up just 20 points a game. KU’s only win came at the hands of FCS South Dakota State in the season opener. Granted the Jayhawks have lost to two ranked teams, TCU and Kansas State, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia remain.
7. Akron (1-5)
Welcome back to college football, Terry Bowden. Surely, he never thought it would be this bad. The lone win was a 66-6 pounding of FCS Morgan State. The Akron Zips are already 0-2 in the MAC and the league schedule doesn’t get much easier. Akron faces Ohio and Northern Illinois, who appeared in last year’s league championship game, and then must take on a newly rejuvenated Kent State and Toledo, both of whom are currently unbeaten in league play. Akron is eighth in the nation in passing offense, but average just 123 yards a game on the ground.
6. Florida International (1-5)
A year ago, the Panthers played in their second consecutive bowl game. Head coach Mario Cristobal had this program headed in the right direction. But FIU has had serious trouble stopping anyone, giving up 38 points a game, and it’s hard to win games when you give up 38. The Panthers’ lone victory was a 41-38 overtime win over Akron. The fewest points allowed by FIU…28 in a 28-21 loss to a ranked Louisville squad.
5. Auburn (1-4)
What a difference a stud QB and a couple years make. The 2010 national champions are now one of the worst football teams in America. No more Gus Malzahn and high-octane offense. The Auburn Tigers are now an anemic, pro-style offense that puts up a whopping 15 points a game. They rank near the bottom in every major offensive statistical category. And, they play in the SEC. There are some bright spots, though. The Tigers still have New Mexico State (stay tuned) and Alabama A&M remaining on the schedule.
4. New Mexico State (1-5)
Hard to believe that an early November date with Auburn might be a battle between the Aggies and the Tigers. New Mexico State, a program with a history of losing records, has lost five straight since an opening-weekend win over Sacramento State. The Aggies can’t run the ball (86 yards a game) and can’t stop anybody (33 points a game), a bad combination when trying to win football games.
3. Eastern Michigan (0-5)
A year ago Ron English’s Eagles were looking to get into a bowl game with six wins. This year, the wins are hard to find and EMU will be lucky if it gets any. The Eagles can’t run (103rd in rush offense), can’t throw (118th in pass offense), can’t score (119th in scoring offense), and find it difficult to stop anyone from scoring (110th in scoring defense, 37 points per game). It’s a recipe for disaster as the Eagles still have to play three of the MAC’s best—Toledo, Ohio, and Northern Illinois.
2. Southern Mississippi (0-5)
After coach Larry Fedora’s exit last year after a 12-win, Conference USA championship season, Southern Miss was thought to be in good hands with Ellis Johnson. Five games into the 2012 season and the Eagles have yet to get a win. They have played some good football teams—Nebraska, Louisville, Boise State—but gone is the high-powered offense of a year ago. Southern Miss averages just 16 points a game and the passing game, a strength last year, is one of the worst in the nation averaging just 135 yards a game.
1. Tulane (0-5) & UMass (0-6)
It’s dual futility at the top. In its first year as an FBS program, Charley Molnar’s UMass team just doesn’t have it figured out yet. The Minutemen have had a hard time putting the ball into the end zone. UMass is 121st in the nation in scoring offense averaging just 13.8 points per game. The only thing worse than the UMass offense? Tulane’s. The Green Wave are dead last, 124th out of 124 FBS programs, in scoring. Tulane has only been shut out once, but has averaged just nine points per game. And defensively, both teams yield over 40 points per game. Tulane now has 15 straight losses. UMass is headed in that direction.
October 13th, 2012
To remain in the national title hunt, the University of Southern California football squad cannot afford another slip up.
Yet to exhibit the greatness predicted by college football experts before the season, inconsistency plagued the Trojans through the first five games. USC rolled over Hawaii and California, struggled mightily at various points against Syracuse and Utah, and lost to Stanford. The Orange, Utes, and Cardinal all lack the raw talent of USC, but they managed to keep each contest unexpectedly close.
Possibly the only unit outperforming expectations, USC’s defensive line exhibited dominance over the first several games. Junior defensive end Morgan Breslin ranks among the top players nationally in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (10.5) on a defense that yields fewer than three yards per carry. As the Trojans trudge through the high-scoring PAC 12 Conference, its opposition will likely try to beat them by way of air.
Cornerback has been a major point of concern for coach Lane Kiffin. The starters struggled so much the first few weeks, speculation surfaced that Kiffin might consider shifting wide receiver Marqise Lee to the position. Though he recently denied the possibility of moving Lee over to defense, safety Josh Shaw practiced at corner this week, confirming the staff’s lack of confidence in the secondary.
But it does appear the Trojans are trending upward in recent weeks.
In a 27-9 victory over in-state foe Cal on Sep. 22, USC was able to sack Bears’ quarterback Zach Maynard seven times. And for the first time since 2008, two running backs surpassed the 100-yard mark for the Trojans—Silas Redd racked up 158, while Curtis McNeal totaled 115.
Against Utah last week, USC dug itself out of an early hole to earn a valuable conference road win. QB Matt Barkley posted perhaps his best game of the season, completing 23 of 30 passes and three touchdowns. Equally impressive, the receiving corps displayed deep threat potential all game long as the Trojans prevailed, 38-28.
As USC plows deeper into the season, the schedule doesn’t get any easier.
With a trip to Seattle to play Washington on the horizon, as well as #2 Oregon Ducks and #7 Notre Dame coming to town in November, the Trojans have plenty of boulders in their path. Also laying in the weeds is crosstown rival UCLA, a squad foaming at the mouth to avenge last year’s 50-0 embarrassment. With one loss, a national title game appearance doesn’t appear as likely as it did prior to the season, but if the Trojans do find themselves in Miami they will most certainly have earned it.
October 6th, 2012
Matt Barkley & USC
Wasn’t the triumphant return of the stud QB, those receivers, and tons of starters supposed to have USC Trojans challenge the SEC’s dominance of the BCS national championship trophy? Five weeks into the season, the Trojans aren’t even in the Top Ten anymore and have been written off as a true contender in the BCS picture. Barkley has been less than impressive and has fallen off the Heisman radar as a result.
Bobby Petrino’s little escapade on his motorcycle over the summer sparked a disaster in Hog Country. After Petrino’s firing and the hiring of John L. Smith, it appeared that Arkansas, with QB Tyler Smith and a host of returning players, wouldn’t miss a beat. They missed terribly. After a season-opening win over FCS Jacksonville State, the Hogs have lost four straight and sit at 1-4.
And speaking of ULM, is this a program on the rise? An upset of Arkansas, they took Auburn to overtime before falling, and were right in it with Baylor. The WarHawks average 42 points per game and have a highly underrated QB in Kolton Browning. ULM begins play in the Sun Belt this weekend. Look for them to be in the hunt for a conference title.
MAC vs. Big Ten
The Big Ten used to schedule MAC teams as warm ups for the coming league schedule or even homecoming games. No more. Miami (OH) beats Penn State. Northern Illinois over Kansas. Central Michigan shocks Iowa. Ball State wins at Indiana. The MAC is no longer the “little brother” to the Big Ten and the Big Ten, well, is just not as strong as it used to be.
After a dismal 3-9 campaign last year, Mike Riley has his troops ranked in the Top 20 with three wins over ranked teams already (Wisconsin, Arizona, UCLA). The Beavers QB Sean Mannion has matured and delivered for the Beavers who still have a long road ahead with the Pac-12 schedule and the year-ending Civil War with #2 Oregon. Doubtful anyone thought OSU would be unbeaten and ranked heading into October.
A 4-0 start, a top ten ranking…Irish fans have dreamed for years and now head coach Brian Kelly has made it come true. The Notre Dame defense is something special and is the big reason the Irish are unbeaten. If QB Everett Golson can get it figured out on offense, Notre Dame can be a true BCS contender. A strong running game and powerful defense are part of the necessary ingredients in championship football teams. Golson, or even former starter Tommy Rees, needs to add the QB to the mix.
Texas Tech Defense
Who leads the nation in total defense? Alabama? LSU? No…it’s the Red Raiders of pass-happy Texas Tech. There hasn’t been defense like this in Lubbock since the days of Spike Dykes. Tommy Tuberville’s unit gives up just 167.5 yards per game (just 85.5 on the ground!) Hey, some of it is the schedule they have played but they are better than year’s past. And they will need to be. Beginning Saturday, the Red Raiders face five nationally ranked opponents in a row.
September 18th, 2012
Can Anyone Beat Alabama?
Just three weeks into the season and already the questions are buzzing around. How good are the Alabama Crimson Tide? Can they be beaten? Head coach Nick Saban is the master of minimizing the probability of losing. It’s very simple, really. Don’t turn the ball over, force turnovers on defense, run the football aggressively using zone and power run schemes, and pass out of play action, which are safer throws for the quarterback.
Is there anyone on the schedule that can defeat the Crimson Tide? Well, they all have the opportunity to beat them, but talking and doing are two very different things. How in the world can anyone win against Alabama?
Alabama has a far superior defense (giving up just 4.6 points and 58 rushing yards per game) than most. To beat it, a team will have to find an advantage that slows ‘Bama down play after play. Western Kentucky, for example, used a variety of shifts and motions to get some type of advantage by formation (didn’t work that well as they were crushed 35-0 by the Tide in week two).
An opponent must play within their system to beat Alabama. If you are a power running football team, you must stick to it and not try and become a spread offense in a week. It won’t work. And, while you’re at it, do not turn the ball over. One turnover and Saban’s troops will make you pay.
The Alabama offense is notorious for its power running game that uses zone and power runs. The offensive line is big, fast, and just plain good. And, ‘Bama has a slew of running backs that will just keep pounding on a defense. The running game sets up a very good play-action passing game where QB A.J. McCarron is very effective at making all the necessary throws. In order to beat this offense, an opponent’s defense has to sell out and take away what the offense does best. In this case, do whatever it takes to stop the run! Then you pray that the passing game doesn’t beat you.
A ‘Bama opponent can gain some knowledge by looking at some of the Tide’s past failures. For example, in wins over Florida and Tennessee last year, Saban was livid late in those games when both the Florida Gators and the Vols used a two-tight end formation and his defense could not get aligned correctly. The result? Florida and Tennessee were able to move the ball against the Tide, albeit versus mostly second- and third-teamers. Interestingly, both Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Tennessee head man Derek Dooley coached under Saban at some point.
If you plan on beating Alabama, you must have a head coach who is well-schooled in the art of JEDI mind tricks. You know, the type of narrative that Lou Holtz would deliver before his Fighting Irish would take on Navy or Rice. “I just don’t know how we’re going to beat them,” Holtz would say to reporters. If your coach can encourage that the team is outmanned and there is no way that it can win, you may have a shot.
Finally, what team has ever won without believing it could? To beat the best, which Alabama can surely lay claim to, you must believe that you can (whether you can or not). There weren’t many who believed that a bunch of amateurs could beat the world’s best in Olympic ice hockey back in 1980. But a group of young Americans and their coach believed…and they won, defeating the powerful Russian team on their way to a gold medal.
Looking at the Tide’s schedule, there is really only one opponent that has what it takes to defeat Alabama. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are not on the schedule this year and while Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M are improving, they are not yet ready to compete with Alabama. And there will be the big rivalry game with Auburn on Thanksgiving weekend, but the Tigers have struggled in the first three weeks of the season.
Only the LSU Tigers, which was Alabama’s only blemish in the national championship run a year ago, has what it takes to beat the Tide. The Tigers have a defense capable of taking away ‘Bama’s running game. They will find advantages and benefit from past Alabama failures, and they will believe they can win…they’ve done it before. LSU will not attempt any drastic changes and coach Les Miles will stick to what he does best. Plus, Miles will work wonders in the media as he and Saban offer up their best versions of the JEDI mind tricks.
Can anyone beat Alabama? It remains to be seen. The Tide have another “tune-up” game with Florida Atlantic before getting into the SEC schedule. November 3rd is the date with the LSU and Saban’s squad will have to travel to Baton Rouge. If anyone can beat Alabama, LSU will have the best shot on the first Saturday night in November.
August 14th, 2012
With the 2012 college football season just weeks away, there is talk already of BCS coaches who may be on the “hot seat” and need to win and win fast in order to save their jobs. Remember Mark Richt a season ago as Georgia opened the season 0-2 and hadn’t really produced anything special in a few years. Richt’s job was on the line and the Georgia Bulldogs responded reeling off ten straight victories and earning a berth in the SEC championship game.
What coaches need to do the same in 2012? Here’s a look at the top five BCS head coaches who could find themselves out of a job this year.
Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Frank Spaziani Boston College
BC hasn’t been the same since the whole Jeff Jagodzinski fiasco a few years back that led to Spaziani’s hiring. After two bowl seasons in 2009 and 2010 (both losses), the Boston College Eagles
took a step backward and finished 4-8, just 3-5 in the ACC. “The Mad Scientist” is going to have to cook up something on offense after finishing near the bottom of the BCS in most statistical categories. It won’t help that Montel Harris, the school’s all-time leading rusher, was kicked off the team earlier this year.
Randy Edsall, Maryland
Randy Edsall Maryland
After building Connecticut into a full-fledged, respectable BCS program, Edsall was thought to be the guy who could do the same with the Maryland Terrapins
. He still may be the one, but a disastrous first season, along with some player dissension, leaves Edsall in a predicament. Give him credit, he replaced both coordinators and had a respectable recruiting class. Now for the hard part…win and win fast.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberville Texas Tech
After 10 straight winning seasons under predecessor Mike Leach, the Red Raiders
have become accustomed to winning. Tuberville put up a decent 8-5 mark in his first season in 2010, leading Tech to a win in the TicketCity Bowl. Last year…not so good. A 2-7 mark in the Big 12 left Tuberville’s squad at 5-7. No winning season. No bowl bid. Tuberville will have to get back to a bowl if he wants to stay in Lubbock and he will have the offensive weapons. Six starters return to an offense that averaged 471 yards and 34 points per game.
Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Dan Enos Central Michigan
For much of the latter half of the last decade, the Chippewas were a contender for the MAC title, winning three conference titles (‘06, ‘07, and ‘09). Enos took over after a 12-2 year where CMU won the MAC, the GMAC Bowl, and finished ranked in the final Top 25. In two years Enos has posted identical 3-9 records. The former Michigan State
QB needs to right the ship, but it’s going to be difficult. The MAC West is loaded with Northern Illinois, last year’s champion, Toledo, and Western Michigan, all bowl teams last year.
Mike Price, UTEP
Mike Price UTEP
Price enters the final year of his contract and it’s likely not to be renewed unless the veteran coach can work a miracle. The Miners have had a habit of winning three non-conference games and then finding a way to beat three C-USA opponents and squeeze into a bowl game at the end of the season. That theory backfired last year as UTEP
managed just five wins, one an overtime win over Division II Stony Brook. The Miners’ theory likely will not happen again. The non-conference slate features Ole Miss
, and Oklahoma
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