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.
October 1st, 2012
Two schools located in the same city, Los Angeles, separated by just twelve miles makes
for one interesting rivalry. The likelihood that alumni and students from the schools
will interact with each other on a daily basis is very high. Ohio State-Michigan and
Army-Navy are two other huge college football rivalries that come to mind, but neither
features the kind of proximity that is seen by the Trojans and the Bruins.
The schools have competed against one another in a variety of sports since the early
1900s. USC, long recognized as a “football school” and UCLA, the “basketball school,”
both have storied traditions in other non-revenue sports as well, such as track & field,
volleyball, and water polo. UCLA actually holds the NCAA record for most team national
championships with 107 and most overall national titles with 128, more than any other
school in the nation. But, it’s on the football field where the real rivalry begins.
Since the formation of the old Pacific Coast Conference, which is now the Pac-12, USC
and UCLA have shared or won 54 conference football championships. The rivalry
game, normally played the last week of the regular season, has had conference title
implications as well as, on some occasions, national title implications, and has served to
determine the conference’s Rose Bowl berth on several occasions.
One of the most memorable was the “Game of the Century” played in 1967 pitting #1
UCLA led by QB Gary Beban against the second-ranked Trojans and a phenomenal
young running back named O.J. Simpson. USC won 21-20, beat Indiana in the Rose
Bowl, and claimed the national championship. Beban did win the Heisman Trophy that
year. Simpson won it the next.
Recently, though, the game has lost some of its luster. While USC has flourished,
winning national championships in 2003 and 2004 and losing in the title game in 2005,
UCLA has struggled. The hiring of “golden boy” former QB Rick Neuheisel in 2008
was to signal the return to prominence. It was not to be as the former Rose Bowl MVP
produced only one winning season and a 21-30 overall record.
USC has dominated the rivalry of late. The Bruins’ last victory in the series was in 2006.
With another BCS title game berth on the line, UCLA pulled one of the great upsets in
college football with a 13-9 victory denying the Trojans the chance to play for another
national championship. USC still won the Pac-10 and went on to the Rose Bowl that
Since the ‘06 win, the Bruins have not fared well in the “Victory Bell” match-up, losing
miserably last year, 50-0. USC has won 12 of the last 13, holds a 46-28-7 advantage in
the series, and in the last five meetings has outscored UCLA, 158-35. USC has owned the
Victory Bell for the better part of the past two decades. The bell, originally from an old
Southern Pacific railroad locomotive, has traditionally been awarded to the winner of
the USC-UCLA game every year since 1942.
If there is a year to mark a turning point in the rivalry, it may very well be 2012. With
new coach Jim Mora, Jr., the Bruins are off to one of their best starts in recent history.
UCLA is 4-1 with a big win over then 16th-ranked Nebraska. Their only loss was a 27-20
setback to 18th-ranked Oregon State.
The Bruin offense has become more consistent and it starts with the play of freshman
QB Brett Hundley. Hundley is completing 66 percent of his passes (121-for-183),
has 1,480 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and has a passer rating of 150.6. And, led
by Jonathan Franklin, UCLA has one of the top 15 rushing offenses in the country.
Franklin, a 5-11, 195-pound senior, has 693 yards rushing including two 200-yard
games already this season.
If the Bruins continue to improve and stay healthy, it’s possible that this year’s Nov.
17th match-up with the USC Trojans could be for the Pac-12 South Division championship.
USC, however, has it a little tougher meeting two ranked opponents, Washington and #2
Oregon Ducks, prior to the cross-town rivalry.
The Trojans are led by senior QB Matt Barkley, who stunned the football world last year
declaring he would return for his senior year at USC. With Barkley, the country’s best
receiving tandem in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, and the addition of Penn State
transfer Silas Redd, the Trojan offense is its strength. The vulnerability lies within the
Trojan defense as Stanford proved as they handed USC its only loss of the season, 21-14.
While it may not be a “game of the century” this year, the Victory Bell tilt will be one to
watch as the regular season winds down. The UCLA Bruins will be looking for a signature win
as they enter the Mora era and will desperately want to end the Trojans’ dominance in
the rivalry. USC, on the other hand, may need the victory as it fights for to keep a BCS
bowl bid alive. The 2012 edition should be a good one, a return to the gridiron battles of
the 1960s and ‘70s.
You can purchase USC Vs Ucla tickets now
September 27th, 2012
Four weeks into the young 2012 college football season, it is clear that the Alabama Crimson Tide are the nation’s best team. But are there any sleepers out there? Is there a team that may be able to sneak up the polls and contend for a shot at–the very least a BCS bowl bid–the BCS title? Here’s a look at the best prospects after four weeks.
1. Kansas State Wildcats (4-0)
The Wildcats are usually quiet year in and year out, and you can never count out a Bill Snyder-coached team. KSU has a senior dual-threat QB in Collin Klein who can beat you with his arm and his legs, but most importantly, his head. Snyder’s defenses are always sound, this year is no exception, and they play solid special teams. The drawback? A brutal Big 12 schedule. KSU beat No. 6 Oklahoma a week ago and faces five more ranked opponents.
2. Stanford Cardinals (3-0)
After their 21-14 win over a USC team that everyone thought would challenge the SEC dominance of the BCS championship trophy, the Cardinal are a legitimate contender. Tough defense…check. Powerful run game…check. Sound special teams…check. Can they get through the Pac-12 schedule and, more importantly, beat Oregon?
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)
The Irish are 4-0 for the first time in a decade and with convincing wins over both Michigan and Michigan State are in a position they have not been in for quite some time. And, minus an Oct. 13th date with Stanford and the season-ending clash with USC, the schedule gods look favorably upon the Irish. Should ND get through the balance of its schedule, coach Brian Kelly’s squad will be in the BCS picture.
4. Texas Longhorns (3-0)
The Longhorns took a few years off it seems after their BCS championship appearance in 2009. Head coach Mack Brown has his team back to the level of play Texas fans had become accustomed to–tough defense, powerful ground game, great QB play. Are they a contender? The biggest drawback is the Big 12 schedule. The Longhorns will play no less than five ranked league opponents. If they truly belong in the BCS picture, they will come out of league play unscathed.
5. TCU Horned Frogs (3-0)
It seems like each year the college football world is talking about TCU being a BCS-buster. Well, no more. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs are now part of the very talented Big 12 and won’t have to “bust” into the BCS anymore. That is, if they can somehow fight the same battle as Kansas State and Texas–Big 12 schedule–and win. Since 2005, TCU has won at least eleven games in every season but one. If they do it again, they may be playing for a national title.
You can purchase BCS Championship Bowl Game Tickets today.
Barrys Tickets on Google +
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.
September 17th, 2012
Notre Dame moves to ACC
With the recent announcement that Notre Dame will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football, college football fans are left wondering about the landscape of their sacred game. And with all of the conference realignments and possible future conference shifts, how does Notre Dame’s move impact college football?
Well, Notre Dame still remains an independent in football, but the agreement with the ACC will allow the Fighting Irish to schedule five games against ACC opponents every year. The plus? Notre Dame can renew old rivalries with the likes of Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles, both of which played some very meaningful games against ND in the 1990s.
The negatives? Some of the Irish’s traditional rivalries, like the “battle of the Catholics” (Boston College Eagles), will likely end. Some rivalries will continue and the university has announced that it will keep its annual contests with Navy Midshipmen, USC Trojans, and Stanford Cardinals. Years ago, it was Navy that bailed Notre Dame out of a financial crisis and the Irish will never forget the gesture.
With the current 12-game schedule allowed by the NCAA, Notre Dame will play the five ACC opponents, Navy, USC, and Stanford, and still have room for four more games each year. Traditional opponents Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, and Purdue, all of the Big Ten, will likely remain on the schedule, though not yearly. Pittsburgh Panthers, which ND has played every year since 1982, is moving to the ACC and will continue to be on the schedule, though the Panthers may not be a yearly opponent either.
In scheduling opponents, it is important to the university to maintain a national awareness of the Notre Dame brand. Keeping USC and Stanford brings the West Coast, ND is already a fixture in the Midwest, and now with the ACC gig, the Irish will be able to have a presence in the largest media markets in the United States.
In the grand scheme of college football, Notre Dame’s move to the ACC really doesn’t change anything. The Irish will not be a full-fledged member of the conference and, other than facing a few new opponents each year, the schedule will not change that much. They may get a few extra wins per year playing the Marylands and Dukes of the league, but get a chance to renew some old rivalries (Miami and Florida State) and keep another (Pitt).
September 13th, 2012
When the NCAA announced its rules changes for the 2012 college football season, it was the kickoff adjustments that were creating the most uproar. Now two weeks into the new season, it’s the helmet rule that has coaches, players, and fans questioning its merit.
The NCAA’s new “Helmet Rule” requires a player who loses his helmet during play to leave the game for one play (unless the helmet was removed as the result of a penalty), much like what occurs when a player is injured and cannot leave the field immediately following a play. The player who loses his helmet is also barred from further participation during that play. If he continues to play without the helmet, he will be penalized 15 yards for a personal foul.
No one questions the intent or spirit of the rule. Clearly, the helmet rule was implemented for player safety, but the rule has created some interesting results. The new rule promotes and rewards tackling high since the removal of the headgear will mean that player must leave the field for a play. It also creates a situation where players may be wearing helmets that are fitted improperly. Equipment managers may over-tighten helmets to make sure they stay on defeating the purpose of the helmet.
Fans noted the impact of the rule during Week One in two nationally televised games. Clemson Tigers QB Tajh Boyd lost his helmet three times during their game with Auburn Tigers and his backup, Cole Stoudt, was forced into the game in his place. “I understand the rule, but for us it’s a little bit of a challenge when you run your quarterback, he gets hit and sometimes he gets in some piles, and sometimes helmets find their way from getting off their head,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney.
Swinney wasn’t the only coach expressing concern about the new helmet rule. In Georgia Tech’s Labor Day match-up with Virginia Tech, GT quarterback Tevin Washington lost his helmet prior to a crucial third-and-eight play from the Hokies’ 21-yard line. Washington’s backup, Synjyn Days, entered the game, ran for four yards and the Yellow Jackets kicked a field goal.
Johnson commented, “Well, clearly you don’t want to lose your starting quarterback on third down but that’s the rule. It looked like the helmet came off when he was on the ground. … It’s just one of those things.”
It will be interesting to see how the helmet rule plays out. Sooner or later, though, this rule change is going to affect the outcome of a game. Think about it. With under two minutes remaining in a game and facing a third-and-goal from inside the 10-yard line, your team’s quarterback is on the sideline because a defender ripped his helmet off on the previous play. Definitely not the intent of the rule, plays like that (deliberately removing headgear) are an unfortunate result.
September 4th, 2012
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama Crimson Tide are the new No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll, moving past Southern California after its resounding victory against Michigan.
The Crimson Tide swayed more than enough voters with its 41-14 win Saturday night in Texas to overtake the preseason No. 1 Trojans, who beat Hawaii 49-10. USC entered that game a 40-point favorite at home.
September 4th, 2012
Pay for Play in College Football
Savannah State traveled to Stillman, Oklahoma, last Saturday only to be shellacked by 19th-ranked Oklahoma State, 84-0, in a virtually meaningless college football game. And next week, the Tigers will likely face another drubbing at the hands of another ranked FBS school, Florida State.
In the world of college football, what seems like a meaningless tussle between two schools at opposing ends of the spectrum, is really what the game has become–a business deal. For schools like Savannah State, an FCS school, and those like San Jose State and San Diego State–both FBS schools but not in BCS conferences–the cold reality of college football is that they must schedule games against more talented FBS schools to pay the bills.
These “payday” games have been around for years. A “lesser” opponent will agree to travel to a “greater” opponent in return for an agreed upon amount of cash. The result is usually a drubbing on the football field, but the payday can help fund a football program or, in some cases, an entire athletic department.
Take San Jose State, for example, who in 2010 made $1.825 million by playing Alabama and Wisconsin on back-to-back Saturdays. They “won” at the bank despite getting beat on the field by a combined score of 75-17. San Diego State has played 23 “payday” games since 2000. Their record in those games–0-23. Last year, the Aztecs received a little over a million dollars to play at Michigan. That equates to ticket sales for an entire season at SDSU.
Schools cannot make huge increases in ticket prices nor can they force more people to buy tickets in order to generate higher revenues. A school can only sell so many t-shirts and other apparel items and schools cannot force donors to write big checks. So, with 12-game schedules the norm now, it only makes good business sense to take a few lumps on the field, cash in, and then continue on with the remaining league games.
The Southland Conference, made up of FCS schools, typically plays several “payday” games every season in order to finance its schools’ athletic budgets. Nicholls State, for example, will play Oregon State, South Alabama, and Tulsa this year. The games will be a good test against better competition and help prepare Nicholls for league play and ultimately, a spot in the 24-team FCS playoffs.
Payday games will continue as the major BCS schools look for additional games that can be used as a “tune-up” for the rest of their schedules. What all the schools involved hope to avoid are injuries that can affect play later on in a season. And, for the big BCS schools, they surely will want to avoid a shocker like 2007’s Michigan upset by Appalachian State. Regardless of what happens on the field, though, as long as there are bills to pay, schools will agree to play for pay.