Sunday, October 31, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 9

ACC—With Florida State driving for the go-ahead score in the final minute of the game, North Carolina State’s Nate Irving recovered a Seminoles’ fumble in the last minute, to lock up a 28-24 Wolfpack win over the Seminoles. NC State dodged a bullet and keeps their ACC title hopes alive. The Wolfpack has exceeded last season’s win count and got its first signature win under fourth-year head coach Tom O’Brien.

Big 12—Baylor defeated Texas for the first time since 1997 in front of a crowd of 100,452. The Bears rallied after being down 19-10 early in the third quarter. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III passed for two touchdowns and ran for a third in the 30-22 win. He is emerging as a Heisman dark horse. Baylor punter Darryl Epperson averaged 56.8 yards on four punts. The Bears are in first place in the Big 12 South and got their first win in Austin since 1991.

Big East—The Huskies defeated the Mountaineers for the first time ever Friday night. West Virginia came into East Hartford with a superior roster, but Connecticut, led by demoted-to-third-string quarterback Zach Frazer, found a way to win in overtime. The Mountaineers’ Ryan Clarke fumbled 1 yard from the goal line and came away pointless on their overtime possession. The Huskies went on to hit a 27-yard field goal to get the 16-13 win. The game was a story of turnovers. West Virginia fumbled seven times and lost four of to the Huskies. UConn had no turnovers.

Big Ten—Iowa shredded previously-undefeated Michigan State by a score of 37-6. The Iowa defense only allowed the Spartans to rush for 31 yards and picked off Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins three times. All three interceptions were converted into points. Iowa gave up no turnovers of its own. Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi was 11 for 15 with three touchdowns. The Hawkeyes keep their Big Ten title hopes alive.

C-USA—Tulsa stunned Notre Dame 28-27 in South Bend Saturday. With the Irish leading 27-18 in the third quarter, the Golden Hurricane scored a touchdown and later a field goal with 3:23 left to take a one-point lead. Notre Dame had one more possession to retake the lead, but Tulsa cornerback John Flanders intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees’s touchdown pass at the goal line. A Tulsa team composed of mostly two-star recruits beat a Notre Dame team chock-full of blue chip recruits. The last time a current member of Conference USA defeated the Fighting Irish was Southern Methodist in the 1984 Aloha Bowl. The last time the Golden Hurricane beat a BCS automatic qualifying team was Iowa in 1996.

MAC—With Western Michigan leading late in the fourth quarter by a point, the Northern Illinois Huskies put together a seven-play, 79-yard scoring drive to retake the lead by seven. Chandler Harnish connected with Willie Clark in the end zone, and seconds later Harnish completed a pass to Nathan Palmer for the two-point conversion. With 3:42 remaining, the Broncos had a chance to tie the game up. Western Michigan drove to the Northern Illinois 16 yard line only to be intercepted by Huskies defensive end Jake Coffman. Northern Illinois is perfect in conference play and on a six-game winning streak.

MWC—With San Diego State’s victory over Wyoming on Saturday, the Aztecs have become bowl eligible for the first time since 1998. Quarterback Ryan Lindley passed for three touchdowns and running back Brandon Sullivan rushed for three touchdowns in the 48-38 victory at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. Wideouts DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown each had over 140 yards receiving. Brady Hoke has the SDSU program headed in the right direction.

Pac-10—No. 2 Oregon gave USC its third loss of the season in a 53-32 decision; Oregon's 53 points were the most the school has every scored against USC. Running back LaMichael James ran for 239 yards, wide receiver Jeff Maehl picked up 145 yards, and quarterback Derron Thomas passed for 288 yards. In all, the Ducks scored a yard shy of 600 yards. The Trojans came into the Coliseum as an underdog for the first time since 2001 and lost the biggest game in their bowl-less season. By contrast, the Ducks have further-asserted themselves to play in the BCS Championship Game on January 10th.

SEC—The Florida Gators came off a three-game losing streak in their 34-31 overtime win over Georgia, whose three-game winning streak was snapped with the loss. With a crowd of 84,444 on hand at Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, the Bulldogs forced overtime when they scored seven with less than five minutes left in the game. During overtime, Georgia’s Aaron Murray was picked off by Will Hill, and the game would have been over if Hill had not stepped out of bounds at the Bulldog’s 4 yard line on the return. Florida punter Chas Henry, filling in for injured Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis, split the uprights on a 37-yard field goal to seal the win for Florida.

Sun Belt—Louisiana-Monroe delivered Sun Belt Conference frontrunner Troy its first conference loss of the 2010 campaign. The last time the Trojans lost a conference game was 2008 to Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks defense played lights out, not allowing Troy to score in the last thirty-seven minutes of the game and picking off Corey Robinson twice. The Warhawks outgained the Trojans 428 yards to 285 yards.

WAC—Boise State keeps its hope alive to play in the national title games as it demolished Louisiana Tech 49-20 at Bronco Stadium on Tuesday night. Kellen Moore’s Heisman resume was padded during the games as the Broncos’ signal caller threw for 298 yards, caught a touchdown pass as a receiver, and punted a pooch punt. Running back Doug Martin had a career-high outing, rushing for 150 yards. Tyler Shoemaker also had a career-high 124 yards receiving.

Roadblock Saturday

Six of seven undefeated teams went on the road this Saturday, four survived and two suffered their first loss of the season:

Auburn 51 Mississippi 31
Oregon 53 USC 32
Utah 28 Air Force 23
Michigan State 6 Iowa 37
Missouri 17 Nebraska 31

Michigan State and Missouri have been eliminated from the national title picture. Auburn and Oregon are the only two teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences that have yet to lose. Mid-majors Boise State, TCU, and Utah remain undefeated. TCU plays at Utah on November 6th. If the BCS National Championship were today, Auburn and Oregon would be facing off. Boise State or the winner of next week's "MWC championship game" will have a chance to slide into the national title game only if the Tigers and/or Ducks take a loss before the end of the regular season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big Least

It is crazy to think that one team from the Big East will land a spot in a BCS bowl in January. Have you watched any Big East games this season? The sloppy scrimmages being shown during primetime on weekday nights are not good promotion for the Big East brand.
The Big East is absolutely horrible this year, going 2-11 against foes from other automatic qualifying conferences: Connecticut beat Vanderbilt, West Virginia beat Maryland. The Big East is 14-15 against all out of conference FBS opponents.  Not a single team from the Big East is currently in the AP Top 25. That’s quite a resume.
Out of conference games mean a lot in the Big East, since there are only seven conference contests per season. Syracuse still has Boston College at home on November 27th, and South Florida travels to Miami on the same day. These are must wins for the Big East in terms of respect and getting teams into the postseason. It is almost assured the Big East will not have enough bowl eligible teams to play in its six bowl tie-ins. It is almost assured Big East teams will be underdogs in all of their respective postseason games. Oh well, there’s always college basketball.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 8

ACC—Clemson finally beat Georgia Tech after losing four straight times to the Yellow Jackets. The Tiger defense held Georgia Tech to their lowest point total of the season, 13. Yellow Jackets’ quarterback Joshua Nesbitt was harassed all day, only passing for 83 yards and running for 2 yards. Clemson’s 27-13 victory gets them back to .500 in ACC play.

Big 12—There were three undefeated Big 12 teams heading into Week 8. Missouri was the only one to stay perfect. Mizzou knocked off Oklahoma, 36-27 at home. The Tiger offense and defense outperformed the Sooners in all aspects of the game, controlling the ball for over thirty-eight minutes. The sellout crowd of 71,004 stormed the field and took down the goal posts. This is the first 7-0 start for the Tigers since 1960. Gary Pinkel got his first win against the Sooners, and Missouri beat Oklahoma for the first time since 1998.

Big East—Just when it looked like one team in the Big East was the leader of the pack, West Virginia got upset by a scrappy Syracuse team. Syracuse turned three interceptions into 9 points as the Orange shocked the Mountaineers 19-15. Syracuse had five sacks and prevented the Mountaineers from scoring except for two first quarter touchdowns. The Orange ended an eight-game losing streak to West Virginia and gained possession of the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy.

Big Ten—Wisconsin followed up its big upset over Ohio State last week with another big win. The Badgers defeated the Hawkeyes 31-30 in Iowa City. With Wisky down 30-24 and facing fourth down, Badger punter Brad Nortman ran 17 yards on a fake punt to keep the go-ahead drive alive. Badger running back Montee Ball scored on an 8-yard run with 1:06 left in the game. The Hawkeyes were driving at the end of the game, but just ran out of time.

C-USA—Tulane got a much-needed win over UTEP on the road, 34-24. With 13:39 left in the game, the Miners tied the Green Wave 24-24. The Green Wave responded by scoring a touchdown and a subsequent field goal after regaining possession off an interception. Tulane had 461 yards of total offense while UTEP had 286 yards.

MAC—The Ohio Bobcats took the Miami (OH) RedHawks to the woodshed, 34-13, in a game that would decide the top dog in the MAC Eastern Division. Ohio’s defense was phenomenal, getting five sacks, four interceptions, and recovering two fumbles. The Bobcat defense also halted the RedHawks’ running game to just 11 yards. Despite committing 10 penalties for 105 yards, the Bobcats silenced 17,144 at Yager Stadium. Ohio is now 4-1 in conference play.

MWC—TCU routed Air Force 38-7 in Fort Worth to stay undefeated. Sophomore running back Ed Wesley rushed for 209 yards. The Horned Frogs held Air Force to just 184 yards rushing. Air Force was the top rushing team in the nation coming into the scrimmage, averaging 346 yards per game. The Horned Frogs outgained the Falcons 562 to 231.

Pac-10—With Nick Foles out due to injury, there were questions whether backup quarterback Matt Scott could lead the Wildcats to victory. Scott went 18 for 22 through the air, including two touchdowns. Scott had 233 yards passing and 65 yards rushing; Arizona didn’t miss Foles, nor miss a beat as it walloped Washington 44-14. The Wildcats are 6-1, their best start since 1998.

SEC—In the battle of two unbeatens, Auburn bested LSU by a touchdown. Auburn established their run game and didn’t look back. The Auburn Tigers ran for 440 yards, the most the LSU Tigers have allowed in a game in their entire history. Cam Newton had 217 of those rushing yards in addition to throwing for 86 yards. Newton now has the record for most rushing yards by a SEC quarterback in a season with 1,077. Auburn is the only undefeated team left in the SEC.

Sun Belt—Western Kentucky ended the nation’s longest losing streak by beating Louisiana-Lafayette 54-21 on the road. The Hilltoppers had lost 26 straight games before Saturday. The win also marks the Hilltoppers first win since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2009. Western Kentucky quarterback Kawaun Jakes was 18 for 22 with 262 yards and a touchdown. The Hilltoppers were 75% on third down conversions.

WAC—The Warriors of Hawaii routed the Aggies of Utah State 45-7 in Logan, Utah. Warrior quarterback Bryant Moniz passed for 389 yards, while running back Alex Green ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. The Warrior defense had a coming-out party, holding the Aggies to just 181 yards of offense. Hawaii is now 4-0 in Western Athletic Conference games and 6-2 overall. Hawaii just might be a team that can give Boise State trouble on November 6th.

Independents—The Navy Midshipmen came up with a big victory over rival Notre Dame by a score of 35-17. Most of Navy’s production was on the ground; the Midshipmen only passed twice the entire game. Navy also did not have a single penalty. Navy lost forty-three straight meetings to the Fighting Irish between 1964 and 2006, but has now won three of the last four meetings. Navy has Notre Dame’s number.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Undefeated Teams

The Broncos will very likely be undefeated due to a weak schedule.
1. Oklahoma 6-0
2. Oregon 6-0
3. Boise State 6-0
4. Auburn 7-0
5. TCU 7-0
6. LSU 7-0
7. Michigan State 7-0
9. Utah 6-0
11. Missouri 6-0
14. Oklahoma State 6-0

The way the schedules work out, it is possible for up to six teams to go undefeated through the regular season and conference championships. LSU and Auburn square off this weekend. Oklahoma plays at Missouri this weekend as well. Right there are two cherry poppers.

Oregon has tough games left at USC and at home against Arizona, but could easily run the table having already beaten Stanford. Nobody has been able to play close with the Ducks. Utah will face a tough three week stretch at Air Force, then at home against TCU, and then at Notre Dame. The Utes could easily enter the loss column. TCU should easily go 12-0 if it can just defeat Utah. Boise State almost certainly will be undefeated, but the Broncos will continue to fall in the BCS standings as their strength of schedule hurts them. If Michigan State can handle Iowa and Penn State on the road, it should go 12-0. Oklahoma has looked shaky at times and has barely beaten mediocre teams. The Sooners have four difficult road games ahead, including a season finale at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State has been good so far, but will play five of the best teams on its schedule during its last six games. Missouri has three ranked opponents still to play. LSU and Auburn both still have to face Alabama after they play one another. The winner of the SEC West will be an automatic for the SEC title, even if it has one loss from Western Division play.

I am no expert, but if I had to guess, Boise State, TCU, Oregon, and Michigan State are the most likely to finish the season unscathed, with likeliness in that order. A team could make it out of the Big 12 or SEC without a loss, but given the balance and anyone-can-beat-anyone nature [for at least the majority of the teams] in those conferences, I would not think so at this point. We'll see how it all plays out starting with this upcoming Saturday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Future Of The WAC, Part 2

Another fate the Western Athletic Conference may face in the next couple years is dissolution. If just one of the current six teams leaves, the Western Athletic Conference will cease to exist. Lets take a look at some scenarios facing the six current members should the WAC disappear:
Hawaii has talked about going independent. This would make sense due to their isolation and the fact that their football culture differs greatly from their fellow WAC teams. However, Hawaii would be financially drained by leaving the WAC. The WAC guarantees they will get home games and manageable opponents to beat up on. If Hawaii were to go independent, they may end up playing up to nine games of their thirteen-game season on the mainland. Scheduling would be difficult, as few teams want to travel to Honolulu. There is a reason why Hawaii is the longest standing member (31 years) of the ever-changing WAC: no other conference would want them due to geography.
San Jose State is likely to get lost in the fold if the WAC does break up. There is really nowhere for the Spartans to go. Lower-tier FBS conferences aren’t as abundant out West as they are back East. The Mountain West hasn’t shown any interest towards San Jose State, and the Spartans haven’t been relevant since the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, their only bowl game since 1990. San Jose State has been in the WAC since 1996 and is currently the second-oldest member; they have had to stay put due to mediocrity.
Idaho is in a similar boat to San Jose State. Idaho’s options are limited by its geography, and the Mountain West hasn’t shown any interest towards the Vandals. Idaho had previously been a member of the Sun Belt from 2001-2004, perhaps this would be the best route for the Vandals even with the long trips to the southeastern part of the United States. The Vandals finished 8-5, including a bowl victory over Bowling Green last season. A team that has tasted success at the highest level of college football definitely would not be interested in moving back down to the FCS, despite Idaho having problems meeting NCAA attendance requirements and being a smaller school.
New Mexico State is probably the likeliest of the WAC schools to drop back down to the FCS. The Aggies’ football program has struggled over the years. Wait, to say that would be an understatement. New Mexico State has only had four winning seasons since 1967. The university has cut funding and the team now relies on its fans for snacks. If the Aggies would like to continue playing in the FBS, the Sun Belt would be an excellent fit for them. After all, the Aggies were a member of the Sun Belt from 2001-2004.
Utah State was invited to the Mountain West Conference, but declined the day before Fresno State and Nevada accepted invitations to the Mountain West, thinking the WAC teams would stick together. It is unsure whether Utah State will be invited again, but the excellent basketball team, great academics, and improving football team make Utah State a desirable addition. The Aggies have been in the Sun Belt 2003-2004 and independent 2001-2002. If the Aggies were to rejoin the Sun Belt, they would be one of the best teams perennially. Independence would be unfavorable for Utah State.
Louisiana Tech always seemed like an odd fit given it being so far east from the rest of its conference mates. Louisiana Tech would have the easiest time adapting if the WAC were to crumble. The Bulldogs could easily fit into the Sun Belt with two other Louisiana schools or Conference USA as a way to counterbalance the impending arrival of Charlotte into FBS football. Louisiana Tech could be the seventh team in the C-USA West, while Charlotte could be the seventh team in the C-USA East. If the MWC chose to go to twelve teams, Louisiana Tech and Utah State would be strong candidates. The Bulldogs had been independent 1996-2000. However, they are undoubtedly better off joining a conference should the WAC fall.

The Future Of The WAC, Part 1

With the eminent departure of Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State to the Mountain West Conference, the Western Athletic Conference will be left with just six teams. The WAC is looking to expand back to at least eight teams and become a viable football conference once again. A non-automatic-qualifying conference must have eight teams if it wants to send its conference champion to a BCS bowl, granted that team is in the Top 8 of the BCS standings. There are five FCS schools the WAC has been rumored to be looking toward. Lets take a look at each school’s practicability.
1.   Montana—The Montana Grizzlies are a great fit for the WAC. They have been in the FCS playoffs every year the last seventeen years and are annually one of the best FCS programs. Montana averages 24,417 fans per football game, which easily satisfies FBS attendance requirements. Geographically Montana could be border rival with Idaho. Rumors abound that Montana may not have the financial resources to move up and that it would only move up if it’s rival Montana State moved up as well.
2.   Texas State—The Bobcats have been on a mission to become a FBS athletic program since 2007. They are expected to play their first FBS football season in 2012. Bobcat Stadium is being renovated to seat 34,800, which will easily accommodate the 15,000 fan average a FBS program needs to maintain. Texas State will give the WAC a foothold to recruit out of Texas high schools.
3.   UT San Antonio—Currently, UT San Antonio does not have a football program. They will have a football program starting in 2011 at the FCS level and hope to be in the FBS by the 2014 season. There are no college football teams directly in the San Antonio market, and the Alamodome is a great football venue. Larry Coker will coach the Roadrunners. The clincher here is that the Roadrunners would not be ready to play in the WAC for four years, and the WAC needs teams as soon as possible.
4.   Cal Poly—Cal Poly will go from Independent to playing in the Big Sky Conference in 2012. Cal Poly has a good football program but it is not big enough to make the jump to the FBS. The Mustangs only average 9,588 at their home games. Alex G. Spanos Stadium is too small to fit the 15,000-fan home game attendance average needed to obtain FBS status.
5.   UC Davis—Like Cal Poly, UC Davis will go from Independent to the Big Sky Conference in 2012. UC Davis won the Great West Conference twice in the last five years. The Aggies average an attendance of 9,908 at home games. Aggie Stadium is too small to seat an FBS-sized crowd.
The Big Sky Conference probably made a move on Cal Poly and UC Davis for its own expansion agenda or to still have an adequate number of teams should the WAC cherry-pick Montana and other Big Sky schools. The California schools can be ruled out. Montana and Texas State would be very complimentary to the existing members of the WAC. The earliest the Grizzlies and Bobcats could join would be the 2012 season, but more likely 2013. UT San Antonio could become a member of the WAC if it can get upgrade its football program by 2014. The best case scenario is that the WAC can be back up to nine teams in four years and continue on as a conference.  The WAC has been looking to snatch Seattle University and University of Denver as basketball members in order to keep its automatic bid for the NCAA basketball tournament. Seven teams in a conference are required for an automatic bid. However, the NCAA will allow the WAC to have an auto bid with just six teams for the next two seasons.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On The Hot Seat: Week 7

1. Mike Locksley—Mike Locksley is 1-17 during his tenure in Albuquerque. To make matters worse, the Lobos were beaten by a previously winless New Mexico State team in Week 6. Mike Locksley is now 0-2 against his instate rival. This is getting crazy; my suspicion is that the University of New Mexico does not have the money to buy-out Locksley, or they fear firing a black coach in a politically correct world.
2. Paul Wulff—Washington State got smashed by Oregon and Arizona the past two weeks and should expect the same from Stanford this coming Saturday. Wulff is 4-28 all time at Wazzu. Two of those four wins were actually FBS schools. Paul Wulff can expect a pink slip by the end of the season.
3. Rich Rodriguez—Michigan has gone 0-2 over the past two weeks, losing to instate rival Michigan State and Iowa. The Wolverines can’t match up against real competition. Dick Rod has never beaten either of Michigan’s rivals.
4. Dan Hawkins—Dan Hawkins looked to be silencing the doubters after the Buffaloes beat Georgia two and a half weeks ago. The subsequent two weeks were loses to conference foes Missouri and Baylor. Hawkins is climbing back up the hot seat with a 0-2 start to Big 12 play. Three of Colorado’s last six games are against ranked opponents. It is not looking good for Coach Hawkins.
5. Ron Zook—The Illini look somewhat competitive this year; they trounced on the Nittany Lions 33-13 at Beaver Stadium. The following week they lost to Michigan State 26-6. The jury is still out on Ron Zook; if he can get the Illini to a bowl game, he may be able to skirt into 2011.
6. Dennis Erickson—Arizona State got its first win over an FBS school on October 9. The Sun Devils are 3-3 and 1-2 in the Pac-10. Dennis Erickson is 22-21 in his fourth season at Arizona State.
7. Bob Toledo—Toledo is 11-31 in his fourth season at Tulane. The Green Wave is 2-4 so far this season and look to be well on their way to their eighth consecutive losing season.
8. Neil Callaway—The UAB Blazers are 2-4 overall. Neil Callaway is 13-29 in his fourth year as the Blazers’ skipper. Callaway has never had a winning season in Birmingham, and it is unlikely the 2010 campaign will be any different.
9. Mark Richt—The Bulldogs started 1-4 but have been able to get back-to-back blowout wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt the past two weeks. If Richt can lay the wood to Kentucky Saturday, he may be able to get himself off the hot seat and into a bowl spot.
10. Ron English—The Eagles were able to beat Ball State in overtime last Saturday to get the first win of the Ron English era. For this, I’ll drop Ron English to the ten-spot. Wins are hard to come by in Ypsilanti. The Eagles are 1-18 during the Ron English era.
Waiting list: Mike Sherman, DeWayne Walker, David Bailiff
Fired: Tim Brewster, Todd Dodge

We will revisit On The Hot Seat after Week 9.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 7

ACC—The Tar Heels beat the Cavaliers at Scott Stadium for the first time since 1981. The Tar Heels had lost the previous fourteen away games versus Virginia. T.J. Yates passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns. North Carolina picked off three different Cavalier quarterbacks for a total of five interceptions. The Tar Heels are 4-2 despite still having five players still banned from playing this season.

Big 12—The Texas Longhorns came away with an upset Saturday against No. 5 Nebraska. Up until now, Nebraska looked unstoppable. The Texas defense shut down Nebraska Heisman hopeful Taylor Martinez. They only allowed him to run for 21 yards on thirteen carries and 63 yards passing. Texas has beaten Nebraska 9 out of 10 meetings since the inception of the Big 12. The 20-13 victory prevented the Longhorns from losing three straight games, something that has never happened during the Mack Brown era.

Big East—Rutgers got the best of an improved Army team in overtime. Army dominated the opening half gaining 287 yards to the Scarlet Knights’ 65 yards. The Black Knights’ held a 17-3 lead through the third quarter, until the Scarlet Knights finally got their offense going in the fourth, led by freshman quarterback Chas Dodd.  Two long drives (74 and 93 yards) had the game tied at 17-17 by the end of regulation. Army scored a field goal in overtime; Rutgers answered with a touchdown to get a 23-20 win.

Big Ten—No. 18 Wisconsin knocked off No. 1 Ohio State with a 31-18 victory. Wisconsin ran for 184 yards on a porous Buckeye defense. The Badger defense prevented a dangerous Buckeye offense from getting anything done outside of the third quarter. Heisman hopeful Terrelle Pryor’s passing efficiency was stymied at 50%. This was Ohio State’s worst offensive and defensive performances of the 2010 season. Wisconsin’s head coach, Bret Bielema, got his first victory over a Top 10 team.

C-USA—East Carolina upset red hot North Carolina State in an overtime thriller. Despite opening the game 21-0 and eroding a big lead, East Carolina was able to recover and force overtime when Michael Barbour hit a 31-yard field goal with 1:04 left in the game to make the score 27-27. During the Pirate’s overtime possession, quarterback Dominique Davis scored on a 1-yard run. The point after touchdown failed. On the Wolfpack’s possession, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson was intercepted over the middle by East Carolina cornerback Damon Magazu. The Pirates won 33-27.

MAC—Eastern Michigan gets the MAC helmet sticker for snapping an eighteen-game losing streak and getting their first win of the season. The Eagles beat the Ball State Cardinals 41-38 in overtime. The Cardinals got a field goal during their overtime possession. Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett connected with tight end Ben Thayer on a 12-yard pass to seal the victory. The Eagles’ last win came on November 28, 2008.

MWC—San Diego State did enough to slow down Air Force’s high-octane run game. San Diego State’s defense held Air Force below their season rushing average of 353 yards per game. Aztec running back Ronnie Hillman rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns off of twenty-four carries. San Diego State is 4-2 for the first time since 1996. 1996 was also the last time the Aztecs beat a ranked team.

Pac-10—USC rebounded from a two-game skid by blasting rival California by a score of 48-14. The Trojans accumulated 602 yards of offense, while holding California to 245 yards. USC’s Matt Barkley threw for 352 yards and five touchdowns. Southern California was 50% on third downs and 75% on fourth downs. The Trojans have beat California seven straight times.

SEC—No. 10 South Carolina looked like the team to beat in the SEC East, coming off their win last week against Alabama. Kentucky rose to the challenge and beat South Carolina, 31-28. Kentucky was down 28-10 at the half, but they scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.  South Carolina drove to the Kentucky 21 yard line in the final minute of the game. Stephen Garcia tried a touchdown pass to Lamar Scruggs with four seconds left, but the ball was intercepted by Kentucky’s Anthony Mosley. The Wildcats had no turnovers, while the Gamecocks had four.

Sun Belt—In the best Sun Belt matchup of the week, conference leader Troy bested the Louisiana-Lafayette by a touchdown, 31-24. As usual, Troy spread the ball around, making completions to nine different receivers. The Trojans were finally able to put away the Ragin’ Cajuns after Troy wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan caught a 12-yard touchdown pass with 4:43 left in the game. Troy is in the driver’s seat for the Sun Belt title with a 3-0 conference record.

WAC—Hawaii gave Nevada its first loss of the season Saturday. Hawaii won the turnover battle 4-1. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick was intercepted twice and fumbled twice, thanks to the much-improved Warriors defense. Former pizza deliveryman, and Hawaii quarterback, Bryant Moniz completed 26 passes on 36 attempts. He had three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hawaii has never lost to Nevada in Honolulu since the Wolf Pack joined the WAC in 2000. Hawaii is 3-0 in WAC play.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

FBS Attendance

An institution classified in Football Bowl Subdivision shall meet all the Division I membership requirements set forth in NCAA Division I Bylaws 20.9.1 through 20.9.5 and in addition, shall:

1. Sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football, based on the
minimum sports sponsorship and scheduling requirements set forth in Bylaw 20.
Sponsorship shall include a minimum six sports involving all male teams or mixed teams
(males and females), and a minimum of eight varsity intercollegiate teams involving all
female teams. Institutions may use up to two emerging sports to satisfy the required eight
varsity intercollegiate sports involving all female teams. [Bylaw]
2. Schedule and play at least 60 percent of its football contests against members of Football
Bowl Subdivision. Institutions shall schedule and play at least five regular season home
contests against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. [Bylaw]
3. Average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football contests over a
rolling two-year period. [Bylaw]
4. Provide an average of at least 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of overall
football grants-in-aid per year over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw]
5. Annually offer a minimum of 200 athletics grants-in-aid or expend at least four million dollars on grants-in-aid to student-athletes in athletics programs. [Bylaw] 

This means that the home game attendance at any given FBS school from any two consecutive years should average at least 15,000 fans. Lets take a look at which teams have not averaged at least 15,000 people per home game over the past two seasons.

Bowling Green157011404414873
Miami (OH)154351181013623
Florida International138521020412028
Eastern Michigan18951501611984
Kent State106391551213076

Technically all six of these schools could have their FBS status taken away from them. The NCAA chooses not to enforce this bylaw. It is hypocritical that the NCAA is making a big deal out of agents talking with college players, yet they refuse to enforce their own rules on the books. As the recession continues, I expect to see more teams that cannot maintain an average home attendence above 15,000 people. Overall FBS attendence figures declined between 2008 and 2009. I expect attendence figures to continue to decrease in the 2010 football season. Ticket prices are rising, gasoline prices are high, and many people are out of work.


Ole Miss's New Mascot

Ole Miss announced its new mascot today: the Rebel Black Bear. The idea for a bear comes from the fact that longtime Oxford, Mississippi resident and Nobel-Prize winning author William Faulkner wrote the short story "The Bear". There is an estimated population of 50-100 black bears living in Mississippi. Colonel Reb, Ole Miss's previous mascot, was banned in 2003 due to political correctness.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 6

ACC—In another installment of the heated Florida State-Miami rivalry, the Seminoles made a mockery out of their archenemy. Florida State put up the second greatest number of points against Miami in the rivalry, 45. Miami gave up the longest run in its history, 90 yards, to Seminole running back Craig Thompson.  This was the first time since in the last 10 games between the schools that the margin of victory was more than 8 points. Florida State is in the driver’s seat to win the ACC.

Big 12—Nebraska absolutely dominated K-State Thursday night in Manhattan. Redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez ran for 241 yards and passed for 128 yards. The Cornhusker defense was able to hold Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas to just 63 yards. If the Cornhuskers keep steamrolling teams, they could be playing in the BCS National Championship in January.

Big East—The Syracuse Orange beat South Florida 13-9 to get its best start since 1999, 4-1. Syracuse went ahead with 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 98-yard drive. Doug Marrone’s defense picked off South Florida’s B.J. Daniels twice and held him to 124 yards. Marrone seems to have the Syracuse program headed in the right direction. The Orange may just get to a bowl game at the end of the season.

Big Ten—In the most talked about rivalry game of the week, undefeated Michigan State routed previously-undefeated Michigan 34-17 in the Big House. The Spartan defense intercepted Denard Robinson three times and held him to just 84 yards rushing. The Spartans exposed Denard Robinson as a fraud, not a legitimate Heisman contender. The Spartan offense was unstoppable and balanced, rushing for 249 yards and passing for 287 yards. For the first time since 1965-67, Michigan State has beaten Michigan in three straight years.

C-USA—East Carolina was the comeback kid of Week 6. The Pirates started their game with Southern Miss losing 20-0. They were able to recover, scoring 17 unanswered points in the second quarter to get the deficit to only 3 points at the half. The last thirty minutes of the game saw an additional 50 points scored between the two teams. East Carolina snapped Southern Miss’s 11-game home winning streak with a 44-43 win. Amazingly, East Carolina turned lost the turnover battle, giving up four and forcing none, yet still won the game.

MAC—The Huskies got a solid win over an Al Golden team that had only lost to Penn State this season. Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish passed for 211 yards with 80% efficiency. Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann rushed for 100 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown that sealed the 31-17 win over the Owls. The Huskies are 2-0 in conference play.

MWC—The Utah Utes seem to be building a resume under the radar while TCU and Boise State get all of the BCS buster attention. Utah destroyed Iowa State 68-27 in Ames. The Utah defense was aggressive, forcing Iowa State to go 0 for 11 on its third downs and picking off the Cyclone quarterback Austen Arnaud twice. Utah put up 593 yards of total offense, going 8 for 13 on its third downs. Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn ran back a kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown.

Pac-10—The Stanford Cardinal beat USC for the third time in the last four years. The win came as Stanford kicker Nate Whitaker hit a 30-yarder as time expired. Whitaker missed an extra point on Stanford’s final touchdown that allowed USC to lead the game 35-34 after a touchdown with 1:08 left in the game. This was USC’s second straight loss coming from off of a final-seconds field goal. Stanford’s Andrew Luck had another spectacular outing, passing for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

SEC—No. 19 South Carolina upset No. 1 Alabama 35-21 in the biggest win in South Carolina history! The Gamecocks’ defense held the nation’s best running duo, Ingram and Richardson, to just 64 yards. The Crimson Tide had to get most of their offense through the air. Stephen Garcia had the best game of his career, going 17 for 20 with three touchdowns. Gamecock receiver Alshon Jeffery caught seven passes for 127 yards. The Gamecocks put up the most points on Alabama (35) since the Crimson Tide lost 41-34 to LSU in 2007. If the Gamecocks keep playing inspired football, they will win the SEC East.
Sun Belt—Troy won their fifth straight against the Blue Raiders in the Tuesday night spotlight game, 42-13. Troy’s Corey Robinson picked apart the Middle Tennessee defense for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Twelve different Trojans had catches in the game. The Trojans have won 12 straight Sun Belt Conference games and should be the frontrunner to win the conference.

WAC—In another rivalry game, this one between two winless teams, New Mexico State beat New Mexico 16-14. With Aggies backup quarterback Tanner Rust injured in the fourth quarter, third-string quarterback Andrew Manley entered the game and went 2 for 2 to set up the game-winning 22-yard field goal with 1:56 left in the game. The Aggies recovered four New Mexico fumble, including one in the Lobos’ endzone for a touchdown. The Aggies beat their in-state rival for the second consecutive year and got their first win of the season.