Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On The Hot Seat: Week 13

1. Paul Wulff—Paul Wulff has the lowest winning percentage of any Washington State head coach in the history of the program, .139. Washington State faces Washington in the Apple Cup Saturday. Win or lose, Wulff is probably fired. Winning the Apple Cup is his last gasp at trying to save his job.

2. Mike Locksley—Mike Locksley is 2-22 after two horrendous seasons. The only thing holding the University of New Mexico back from canning this guy is the contract they signed him to: $4.5 million across six years. Right now, it would cost $3 million to buy him out. What idiot wrote up such a lucrative deal for an unproven head coach? I guess the Lobos are guaranteed to be the Mountain West doormat for a few more years.

3. Bob Toledo—Bob Toledo is 13-35 after four seasons at Tulane. With a 4-8 record this season, Toledo matched his best season, 2007. After four losing seasons, the Green Wave need to wave goodbye.

4. Neil Callaway—Neil Callaway is 15-33 in four seasons at UAB. UAB has not gone to a bowl during Callaway’s tenure, nor finished better than fourth in the C-USA West during those four years. Legion Field has been a ghost town. UAB needs to bring in a coach that can reinvigorate the Blazers fan base.

5. Dennis Erickson—The Sun Devils beat UCLA last Friday, but are likely to finish 2010 with their third-straight losing season after facing Arizona on Thursday. Despite beating only subpar teams the past three seasons, the administration at Arizona State are saying they will honor the final year of Erickson’s contract. Going to bowl games and winning the Pac-10 title must not be a priority in Tempe.

6. Ron Zook—The Fighting Illini are finally bowl-eligible after bullying a Dan-Persa-less Northwestern team at Wrigley Field in Week 12. With a game left to play against Fresno State in Week 14, the Illini are sitting at 6-5 and Zook is a meager 27-44 in almost six seasons. A loss to the Bulldogs in consecutive years could mark the end for Zook.

7. David Bailiff—Bailiff is 19-30 after four seasons at Rice, finishing 4-8 after the finale Saturday. Rice has had losing seasons in 2007, 2009, and 2010. Is 2008’s 10-3 campaign too far in the past to save Bailiff? Bailiff still has three years left on his contract, but contracts can be bought out.

8. Steve Fairchild—Fairchild is 13-24 after three years at the helm in Fort Collins. The 2010 campaign ended with a 44-0 beatdown from Wyoming in the Border War. Wyoming had not won a conference game before drubbing Colorado State. Out of nine losses this season, only one was by single digits

9. Ron English—The Eagles got their second win of the season on November 20th, beating Buffalo 21-17. Six days later in Eastern Michigan’s final game, English’s team got smoked 71-3 by Northern Illinois. Ouch! Ron English has a .083 winning percentage after two seasons.

10. DeWayne Walker—DeWayne Walker is 5-20 after two years at New Mexico State, a graveyard for coaches. One plus on Walker’s body of work is winning the Rio Grande Rivalry both years. New Mexico State is ranked 116th out of 120 teams in both points scored and points allowed.

Waiting list: Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel

Fired: Stan Parrish, Randy Shannon, Bill Lynch, Rickey Bustle

Off the hot seat: Mark Richt

We will revisit On The Hot Seat after Week 14.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bowl Bound

After thirteen weeks of football, and one more to go:
-70 teams are eligible to play in bowls
-46 teams are ineligible to play in bowls
-4 teams are on the bubble (Oregon State, Washington, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana Tech)

Bowl tie-ins by conference:
ACC: 8 (9 eligible)
Big East: 6 (6 eligible)
Big Ten: 8 (8 eligible)
Big 12: 8 (8 eligible)
C-USA: 6 (6 eligible)
MAC: 3 (6 eligible)
MWC: 5 (5 eligible)
Pac-10: 6 (3 eligible)
SEC: 9 (10 eligible)
Sun Belt: 2 (2 eligible)
WAC: 4 (4 eligible)
Navy: Poinsettia Bowl (eligible)
Army: At-large (eligible)
Notre Dame: At-large (eligible)

There are enough bowl-eligible teams for all 70 bowl spots, with the possibility of 4 more bowl-eligible teams after this coming Saturday, December 4th. Here are the games with teams playing for postseason eligibility:
Oregon State at home against No. 2 Oregon
Washington at Washington State
Middle Tennessee State at Florida International
Louisiana Tech at home against No. 17 Nevada

I don’t like to make predictions on this blog, but it is possible Washington might be the only school of the four bubble teams to get its sixth win based on the matchups. So I am thinking there will be 71 bowl-eligible teams for 70 slots. At the beginning of the season, I was worried there would not be enough bowl-eligible teams based on the number of upsets taken by FCS schools over FBS schools. If there are more than 70 bowl-eligible teams after next weekend, some teams will get left out. The most likely team to get the cold shoulder is 6-6 Western Michigan since the WAC and Sun Belt do not exceed their tie-ins.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 13

ACC—Florida State trounced Florida 31-7 after losing the past six meetings between the two teams. The victory was Florida State’s third largest in the history of the rivalry. After losing 7-3 in the first quarter, the Seminoles broke out in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns. The Seminoles forced the Gators to turn the ball over four times, while not turning it over once themselves. Seminoles cornerback Greg Reid averaged 24 yards on two kick returns. Florida State will play in the ACC title game next week.

Big 12—Texas A&M beat in-state rival Texas 24-17 on Thanksgiving. The Aggies have won six straight Big 12 games. Running back Cyrus Gray ran for a career-high 223 yards and two touchdowns. Gray has rushes for at least 100 yards in each of the Aggies’ last six games. The Aggies won the turnover margin by +2, making two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. To add insult to injury, this is the first year Texas has not been bowl-eligible since 1997. Texas A&M can now say it is the dominant football program in Texas.

Big East—West Virginia upset Pittsburgh for the second straight season in the Backyard Brawl. West Virginia was able to get touchdowns off of a Brandon Hogan interception in the first quarter and a Brandon Hogan fumble recovery in the second quarter. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith connected with running back Tavon Austin twice in the third quarter for touchdown passes of 71 yards and 12 yards. With West Virginia’s win on Friday, Pittsburgh’s shot at a Big East title is likely over.

Big Ten—Minnesota defeated Iowa 27-24 on Saturday afternoon, winning the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy for the first time in four years. The Golden Gophers ran for 216 yards, the most Iowa has allowed on the ground all year. Gophers quarterback Adam Weber threw for 164 yards. Weber has started all fifty games of his career at Minnesota. Down 24-20, the Gophers scored the go-ahead touchdown with 4:31 remaining. Minnesota recovered an Iowa fumble on the Hawkeyes’ first play of the ensuing possession. From there the Golden Gophers drained the clock and celebrated. The rivalry win was bittersweet for a Minnesota team that has struggled all season.

C-USA—Tulsa beat Southern Miss in a shootout 56-50. Golden Hurricane quarterback G.J. Kinne passed for 406 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Twelve different Tulsa players had receptions during the game. The Golden Hurricane played disciplined football, committing no penalties. Tulsa finishes the season 9-3 and 6-2 in conference play.

MAC—Kent State beat Ohio 28-6 in front of a crowd of 8,340 at Dix Stadium. On Sunday, Kent State head coach Doug Martin announced that this would be his last game before resigning his post. The Golden Flashes played lights out against a statistically-superior Bobcats team in a sendoff game for their head coach. Kent State had seven sacks and recovered two Ohio fumbles. Kent State safety Dan Hartman had two interceptions in the game. Ohio was the first place team in the MAC East heading into the game, but the loss dealt by Kent State keeps them out of the MAC title game.

MWC—Utah got by in-state rival Brigham Young 17-16 after a fourth quarter comeback. The Utes were losing 13-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Utes were able to get on the board with a field goal and converted a BYU fumble into a touchdown via a 37-yard pass. BYU answered with a field goal to make the score 16-0 in favor of the Cougars. Utes running back Matt Asiata scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run to give Utah a 1-point lead with over four minutes left. BYU got the ball back, drove down the field, and set up for a 42-yard game winning field goal with 4 seconds left. Utes cornerback Brandon Burton blocked the field goal. The Utes have won at least 10 games in three straight seasons for the first time in school history.

Pac-10—Washington knocked off California 16-13 to keep its hopes of going to a bowl game alive, while denying California bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2002 season. The Huskies won the game on a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Chris Polk as time expired. Jake Locker threw for 237 yards, playing with a broken rib. Wideouts D’Andre Goodwin and Jermaine Kearse had 126 yards and 77 yards on receptions, respectively. If Washington can win the Apple Cup next week, it will go to a bowl.

SEC—Georgia became bowl-eligible on its last game of a rough season. Georgia beat in-state rival Georgia Tech 42-34 at home. Georgia forced three fumbles and sealed the game with a Justin Houston interception on Georgia Tech’s final drive. Georgia linebacker Justin Houston also recovered one of the fumbles and returned it for a touchdown late in the third quarter. Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray completed 78.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 271 yards. Georgia will get an opportunity in a few weeks to end the season better than .500.

Sun Belt—The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns got a much-needed win over their in-state rival and snuffed Louisiana-Monroe from getting bowl-eligibility with their 23-22 win. UL-Lafayette held a 23-13 lead over UL-Monroe after three quarters. UL-Monroe came roaring back in the fourth quarter with a field goal and a touchdown, but Ragin’ Cajun freshman safety Cooper Gerami blocked Warhawk kicker Radi Jabour’s extra point attempt to hold out a 1-point lead. The win ended a seven-game losing streak the Cajuns had been on since October 8th.

WAC—After trailing 24-7 at the half, Nevada defense stepped up and held a dangerous Boise State offense to just one touchdown in the second half. The Wolf Pack scored 24 points in the second half to tie the game at 31-31. In overtime, Boise State had possession first. The Nevada defense held, and Boise State was forced to go for a 29-yard field goal on fourth down, which Kyle Brotzman missed. Nevada got the ball. The Boise State defense held, and Nevada was forced to go for a 34-yard field goal on fourth down. Nevada kicker Anthony Martinez connected; Nevada won the most important game in the history of the Wolf Pack program 34-31. Nevada ended Boise State’s 24-game winning streak and any chance the Broncos had at going to the national championship game.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Conference Realignment and Coaching News

--The WAC announced it will add UT-San Antonio, Texas State, and the University of Denver as new members in all sports for the 2012 season. The University of Denver does not have a football team.

--Hawaii is close to signing off on joining the Mountain West Conference as a football-only member. All other sports would move to the Big West. With the Western Athletic Conference being depleted of its best teams (Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada) over the next two seasons, Hawaii would have little competition if it remained in the WAC. Travel expenses for Mountain West teams to and from Honolulu may be the issue holding up the move. Hawaii is currently the senior member of the Western Athletic Conference, having joined in 1979.

--Kent State head coach Doug Martin is resigning after the Golden Flashes’ final game on Friday. Doug Martin is 28-53 after seven seasons as head coach. The Golden Flashes did not go to a bowl game during his tenure and never finished better than second in the MAC East (2006).

--Mike Haywood may be the coach of the year, turning around the Miami (Ohio) program. Last season the RedHawks were 1-7 in MAC play. This season the RedHawks are 7-1 in MAC games. Last season the program was 1-11, while this year it finished 8-4. Miami (Ohio) will represent the MAC East in the conference championship game if Kent State upsets Ohio on Friday.

--Minnesota is looking at San Diego State’s Brady Hoke, Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Temple’s Al Golden, and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen to possibly be the next head coach in Minneapolis. I’d like to think Dan Mullen would be comfortable staying in the SEC, but all three other candidates would likely upgrade to the Big Ten if given the opportunity.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bowling By Conference

After twelve weeks of football:
-64 teams are eligible to play in bowls
-36 teams are ineligible to play in bowls
-20 teams are on the bubble

Bowl tie-ins by conference:
ACC: 8 (9 eligible)
Big East: 6 (5 eligible)
Big Ten: 8 (8 eligible)
Big 12: 8 (8 eligible)
C-USA: 6 (6 eligible)
MAC: 3 (5 eligible)
MWC: 5 (5 eligible)
Pac-10: 6 (3 eligible)
SEC: 9 (8 eligible)
Sun Belt: 2 (0 eligible)
WAC: 4 (4 eligible)
Navy: Poinsettia Bowl (eligible)
Army: At-large (eligible)
Notre Dame: At-large (eligible)

See how everything pans out here.

Notre Dame has gotten its act together the past two weeks with wins over Utah and Arm y to become bowl eligible. After reviewing fine print, I’ve seen that Notre Dame can only go to the Champs Sports Bowl if they are 7-5, which means they will have to beat USC next week. If they finish 6-6, they will go to wherever there is an at-large spot available. The Pac-10 may end up with four teams if California can put away Washington next weekend. The nine-game round robin schedule in the Pac-10 definitely hurts the conference’s ability to get its teams into bowl games. Six of the eight Big East teams and four of the nine Sun Belt teams still have two games left to play. Both conferences should fill their tie-ins after two more weeks of play. The Big Ten, Mountain West, and Atlantic Coast Conferences do not have any teams left on the bubble. Who is bowl-eligible and who is not bowl-eligible has been thoroughly decided in those conferences.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 12

ACC—Virigina Tech ripped Miami 31-17. After being tied up 17-17 at the conclusion of the third quarter, Virginia Tech scored two touchdowns and played lockdown on the Hurricanes’ offense.  The Hokies intercepted Miami quarterback Stephen Morris three times in the final nine minutes. Overall, Virginia Tech’s defense forced Miami to commit six turnovers, the most Miami has had in a game in eleven years. The Hokies have won eight-straight road games and ten-straight ACC games. The Hokies will represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game.

Big 12—In a defensive battle where all of the scoring was on field goals, the Aggies defeated the Cornhuskers 9-6 at Kyle Field. Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray had his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game. Texas A&M cornerback Trent Hunter had two interceptions and four tackles in the game. Aggies place kicker Randy Bullock was clutch, going three for three on field goals. The Aggies faithful stormed the field at the end of regulation. Texas A&M has won five straight Big 12 games for the first time since 1998 and look to be returning to national relevance. The Wrecking Crew proved to be better than the Blackshirts.

Big East—Cincinnati had its best offensive outing of the year in its 69-38 victory over Rutgers at Nippert Stadium. The game was the highest scoring game in Big East history with 107 total points. Quarterback Zach Collaros passed for 366 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another touchdown. Running back Isaiah Pead rushed for a career-high 213 yards and four touchdowns and had a reception for another touchdown. Wideouts Armon Binns and D.J. Young had 139 yards and 97 yards receiving, respectively. The Bearcat defense held Rutgers to -9 rushing yards on the day, despite giving up 400 passing yards.

Big Ten—With Purdue leading 28-13 heading into the fourth quarter, it looked like Michigan State would be eliminated from the Big Ten title race. The Spartans rallied and outscored the Boilermakers 22-3 in the final fifteen minutes of the game. One drive was set up by an interception by Spartan cornerback Chris L. Rucker’s interception of Purdue’s Rob Henry, while another was set up by a blocked punt by Spartan back-up linebacker Denicos Allen. On Senior Day, the Spartan senior class won their 32nd game, becoming the class with the most wins in team history.  The Spartans are 7-0 at home, their first undefeated season in Spartan Stadium since 1999.

C-USA—Rice blasted East Carolina 62-38 in Houston, snapping a three-game losing streak. Owl running back Jeremy Eddington rushed for 143 yards and four touchdowns, while the Owls’ other tailback, Sam McGuffie, rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown. McGuffie also had 83 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Tight end Vance McDonald had 88 yards on five catches, one of which was a touchdown. In total, Rice had 639 yards of total offense. With head coach David Bailiff on the hot seat, this was a much needed win for Rice.

MAC—In a pivotal Tuesday night battle in Philadelphia, Ohio defeated Temple 31-23 to take command of the MAC East. Half of the game’s scoring came in the fourth quarter. The Owls outgained the Bobcats 402 yards to 282 yards, but the Bobcats were able to score touchdowns off of two of the Owls’ three turnovers. Ohio will clinch a spot in the MAC championship game as long as the Bobcats beat Kent State next week. Ohio has won seven straight games.

MWC—In front of a crowd of 17,011 in Laramie, the Broncos had their best outing of the season, shutting out Colorado State 44-0. The Border War rivalry game was one sided as Wyoming ended a six-game losing streak. Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw for 267 yards, while Wyoming running back Alvester Alexander rushed for 147 yards and five touchdowns, a school-record. Broncos defensive end Josh Biezuns had 3.5 sacks. The Bronco defense held the Rams to just 162 yards in the game.

Pac-10—Oregon State beat USC for the third straight time in Corvallis on Saturday night. The Oregon State defense held the Trojans to just a touchdown. Beaver cornerback Jordan Poyer averaged 33 yards on two kick returns and intercepted USC’s Matt Barkley in the first quarter. Beaver defensive tackle Kevin Frahm took Matt Barkley out of the game with a sack that ended up spraining the quarterback’s ankle. If the Beavers can find a way to win one of their last two games against Stanford or Oregon, they will be bowl-eligible.

SEC—Arkansas was able to overcome Mississippi State in double overtime by a score of 38-31. Mississippi State trailed by ten late in the game but was able to score a touchdown and hit a field goal as time expired to force overtime. Both teams were not able to score in the first overtime. Arkansas put up 7 points in the second overtime on a 7-yard pass from Ryan Mallett to Knile Davis. Trying to answer, Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf got sacked on 4th and 7 by Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette to end the game. Arkansas running back Knile Davis ran for a career-high 187 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

Sun Belt—The UL-Monroe Warhawks defeated North Texas 49-37 to get to 5-6. Warhawks quarterback Kolton Browning was 18 for 23, throwing five touchdowns in the game. Wide receiver Luther Ambrose had seven catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns. UL-Monroe converted on 8 of its 15 third downs and went 2 for 2 on third down conversions. If the Warhawks can beat instate rival UL-Lafayette next Saturday, they will be bowl eligible.

WAC—The Vandals kept their postseason hopes alive by defeating the Aggies of Utah State 28-6 in Logan. The weather turned from rain to snow in the second half. Vandals wide receiver Eric Greenwood had four catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Vandals running back Deonte’ Jackson rushed for 62 yards a touchdown and had four catches for 16 yards a touchdown. Since Idaho plays a thirteen-game schedule, it must win its last two games against Fresno State and San Jose State to be 7-6 and bowl-eligible.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On The Hot Seat: Week 11

1. Mike Locksley—Mike Locksley is 2-20 (.091) in two seasons. How has he not been canned already? University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs needs to be dismissed as well. Krebs (1) forced out Rocky Long, the most successful head coach in New Mexico football history, (2) hired deadbeat Mike Locksley, and (3) refuses to get rid of Locksley. Three strikes and you’re out.

2. Dennis Erickson—Dennis Erickson’s teams have not beat a single team with a winning record over the past three seasons. Even if 4-6 Arizona State wins out and gets to .500 by beating UCLA and Arizona, it cannot go to a bowl because two of its wins were against FCS schools! Dennis Erickson is done, stick a fork in him.

3. Paul Wulff—Wazzu did something amazing Saturday: They beat an FBS team for the first time since November 22nd, 2008. Washington State gave Oregon State a pretty good 31-14 licking on the road. For this, I’ll drop Paul Wulff down one spot this week. The Cougars have a three week bye before the 103rd installment of the Apple Cup. If the Cougars can beat the Huskies on December 4th, Wulff still has a very, very, very slight chance of keeping his job as head coach. If he loses, he will surely be fired.

4. Neil Callaway—Neil Callaway is 14-32 in almost four years in Birmingham. All four campaigns have been losing seasons. Even if the Blazers can finish out with wins over Memphis and Rice, they will still only be 5-7.

5. Bob Toledo—Bob Toledo is 13-33 in his fourth season at Tulane. At 4-6 the Green Wave still have a very slim chance at going to the postseason, but they’d have to beat UCF and Marshall. More than likely, Toledo will have his fourth straight losing season in New Orleans.

6. Ron Zook—Two weeks ago, Illinois was 5-3 and all three losses came to ranked teams. It looked like Zook had the Illini back on track and they’d would be bowl eligible with a win over Michigan. The defense did not show up, and they lost 65-67 in three overtimes. The following week, the Illini lost 34-38 to the worst team in the Big Ten, Minnesota. The Illini are 5-5, reeling, and desperate to get bowl-eligible.

7. Bill Lynch—Lynch has not won a Big Ten game this season and is 5-25 in conference games. Indiana is a hard place to develop a winning football program. Football takes the backseat to basketball. Lynch has brought in better recruits and did take Iowa and Northwestern to the wire this season, but the Hoosiers may still hit the reset button.

8. David Bailiff—When your athletic director gives you a vote of confidence, you know you are on the hot seat. Since going 10-3 and winning the Texas Bowl in 2008, the Owls have lost 18 of their last 22 games. Welcome to the hot seat David Bailiff.

9. Ron English—Eastern Michigan is a tough place to coach. Ron English is 1-21 with two games to play in his second season with the Eagles. English has a chance of sticking around for a third year considering two seasons isn’t long enough to rebuild a program.

10. Mark Richt—Should one subpar season in a decade of dominance justify firing a coach? Probably not, but some Georgia fans think so.  Georgia plays in-state rival Georgia Tech at home on November 27th. If the Bulldogs can get the win, they will be .500 and going to their tenth straight bowl game under Mark Richt. If they win that bowl game, they will have their tenth straight winning season under Mark Richt.

Waiting list: Rickey Bustle, DeWayne Walker, Steve Fairchild, Stan Parrish, Randy Shannon

Fired: Dan Hawkins

Off the hot seat: Mike Sherman, Rich Rodriguez

We will revisit On The Hot Seat after Week 13.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Down The Stretch

After eleven weeks of football:
-54 teams are eligible to play in bowls
-27 teams are ineligible to play in bowls
-39 teams are on the bubble

Bowl tie-ins by conference:
ACC: 8 (6 eligible)
Big East: 6 (3 eligible)
Big Ten: 8 (7 eligible)
Big 12: 8 (7 eligible)
C-USA: 6 (5 eligible)
MAC: 3 (5 eligible)
MWC: 5 (4 eligible)
Pac-10: 6 (3 eligible)
SEC: 9 (8 eligible)
Sun Belt: 2 (0 eligible)
WAC: 4 (4 eligible)
Navy: Poinsettia Bowl (eligible)
Army: At-large (eligible)

See how everything stacks up here.

With Army’s win over Kent State, they have secured they’re sixth win and will go bowling for the first time in fourteen seasons. The Pac-10 doesn’t have much going for it outside of Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona. California may snag a bowl slot if it can win one of its last two games, and UCLA can potentially creep in there by winning two of its last three games. Don’t expect to see any more than five Pac-10 teams though. There will be plenty of at-large selections for MAC and Sun Belt teams that make it to .500. Most Big East and Sun Belt teams still have three games left to play. Those conferences should meet their quotas. If Notre Dame can pull out a win against either Army or USC, the Irish will take the Big East’s spot in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 11

ACC—The Hurricanes gave the Yellow Jackets their third consecutive loss in a game between two backup quarterbacks. Freshman quarterback Stephen Morris passed for 230 yards and a touchdown. He completed 10 of 18 attempts. Four different Hurricanes ran for touchdowns—Lamar Miller, Damien Berry, Mike James, and Graig Cooper—in the triumph.

Big 12—Just days after head coach Dan Hawkins gets fired, the Buffaloes rebound and paste the Cyclones 34-14 at Folsom Field under interim coach Brian Cabral, who has been a coach at Colorado since 1989. Colorado’s bowl hopes are still alive, if just barely. The Colorado defense played with intensity, picking up eight sacks and holding the Cyclones to -6 rushing yards. Colorado safety Patrick Mahnke sacked Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud in the fourth quarter, knocking Arnaud out of the game.

Big East—South Florida is bowl-eligible after an overtime win over Louisville on Saturday. Louisville tied the game at 21 apiece with 1:21 left. Louisville drove to the 4 yard line in overtime. On fourth and inches on the Bulls’ 4 yard line, the Cardinals tried a quarterback sneak instead of going for a field goal. The South Florida defense held and the sneak came up short. The Bulls ran the ball to the Cardinals’ 20 yard line and kicked a 37-yard field goal for the 24-21 win. South Florida wide receiver Lindsey Lamar returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown just before the half.

Big Ten—Northwestern defeated No. 13 Iowa by a score of 21-17 on a rainy Saturday in Evanston. The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter down 17-7. After Jeremy Ebert caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Dan Persa with 6:21 left to close the deficit to 3 points, Dan Persa connected with Demetrius Fields on a 20-yard touchdown pass with just 1:22 left in the game to take the lead. Northwestern safety Brian Peters intercepted Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi early in the fourth quarter to launch the rally. Northwestern has beaten Iowa in five of their last six meetings.

C-USA—Southern Mississippi dealt Central Florida its first conference loss in a 31-21 contest at BH Networks Stadium in Orlando. The Golden Eagles went 11 for 16 on third downs. Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns. The Golden Eagle defense contained the Knights’ dual threat quarterback Jeff Godfrey by only allowing him to rush for 6 net yards on 12 rushing attempts. Southern Miss prevented UCF from scoring between 5:40 in the first quarter through 4:21 in the fourth quarter—a stretch of over forty-six minutes.

MAC—Western Michigan defeated Eastern Michigan at Waldo Stadium in a game that featured 1,009 yards of offense. Broncos quarterback Carder threw for 349 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions, going 17 for 21. Broncos running back Brian Fields rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns and caught a third touchdown. Receivers Jordan White and Juan Nunez each had over 100 yards receiving. The former caught one touchdown pass, while the latter had two touchdowns in the 45-30 cross-state rivalry.

MWC—UNLV gets a helmet sticker this week, routing Wyoming 42-16. The Rebels ended a five-game skid and got their second win of the season. Rebels quarterback Omar Clayton threw for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running back Tim Cornett caught one of those touchdown passes and rushed for an additional three scores. UNLV cornerback Will Chandler picked off Austyn Carta-Samuels in the fourth quarter.

Pac-10—Washington State got its first FBS win of the season! The Cougars snapped a sixteen-game Pac-10 losing streak dating back to the 2008 Apple Cup by defeating Oregon State in Corvallis on Saturday. It was the first time Washington State held a team scoreless in the first half since outscoring Stanford 10-0 in 2007. Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel completed 10 of 15 throws for 157 yards. Tuel also rushed 18 times for 79 yards.

SEC—South Carolina clinched the SEC East with its 36-14 win over Florida. Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore ran for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for 156 yards, ran for 28 yards, and accounted for no turnovers. The Florida Gators were dealt their first three-game home losing streak since 1989. South Carolina got only its second win over Florida since 1939.

Sun Belt—Florida International set a school record for rushing with 448 yards in its 52-35 win over perennial Sun Belt powerhouse Troy. Running back Darriet Perry rushed for 186 yards. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton rushed for 158 yards. Running back Darrian Mallary rushed for 118 yards. It was the first home loss for Troy since 2007 and puts the Trojans in jeopardy of not getting at least a share of the Sun Belt conference title for the first season since 2005. The Golden Panthers moved into first place in the Sun Belt standings with the win.

WAC—The Wolf Pack got by the Bulldogs 35-34 in a back-and-forth game with seven lead changes. Colin Kaepernick threw for 171 yards and ran for 153 yards. Wolf Pack running back Vai Taua rushed for 89 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 4:51 left in the game. The victory marked the first time since 1945-49 that Nevada has won three straight games against Fresno State. Nevada is now 9-1 and can capture the WAC title with a win over Boise State on November 26.
Independents—After losses to Navy and Tulsa and a bye week, Notre Dame destroyed No. 14 Utah 28-3. The Fighting Irish held the Utes to a season-low three points and ended an 11-game losing streak against Top 25 teams. It was the Fighting Irish’s first victory over a ranked opponent since beating Penn State in 2006. In his first start, Tommy Rees looked much improved, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Irish defense held the Utes’ offense to a season-low 265 yards. In the battle between Catholics and Mormons, the Catholics dominated. Notre Dame students stormed the field at the end of the game.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Service Academies

Since today is Veterans Day, lets take a look at how Air Force, Army, and Navy are doing as D1 football programs. The service academies are playing some good football. It looks as though all three will get invited to play in bowl games this season. Never before have all three gone to bowls in the same season.

Air Force has won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2002, by beating both Navy and Army this season. Air Force is sitting on a 6-4 record with three of Air Force’s four losses coming by five points or less (Oklahoma 24-27, San Diego State 25-27, Utah 23-28). This team is not far off from being 9-1. Air Force is headed to its fourth straight bowl game. Last year the Falcons blew out a 10-3 Houston team in the Armed Forces Bowl by a score of 47-20.

Remaining Schedule:
Nov 13 New Mexico
Nov 18 @UNLV

The Navy Midshipmen have been consistently the most competitive of the service academy football programs during the last decade. Navy has gone to bowls and won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy each of the last seven seasons. With a 6-3 record, the Midshipmen will be heading to the Poinsettia Bowl on December 23rd. Navy won the 2009 Texas Bowl 35-13, defeating Missouri. The Naval Academy has beaten rival Notre Dame in three of the last four seasons (2007, 2009, 2010).

Remaining Schedule:
Nov 13 Central Michigan
Nov 20 Arkansas State
Dec 11 Army (in Philadelphia)

The Army Black Knights have struggled the most out of the three service academies in recent history. Army is currently sitting at 5-4. Two of their four losses have been by a field goal (Hawaii 28-31, Rutgers 20-23 OT). With the hiring of Rich Ellerson in December 2008, the Black Knights are experiencing resurgence in their football program. Army had not won more than four games in a season since their magical 1996 campaign. Under Ellerson, the Black Knights went 5-7 in 2009 and look to be headed to a bowl game for the first time since 1996 if they can win at least one of their last three games.

Remaining Schedule:
Nov 13 @Kent State
Nov 20 Notre Dame (in New York)
Dec 11 Navy (in Philadelphia)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Crunch Time

There are four weeks left in the college football regular season. Every game counts for teams trying to get to six wins (or in some cases seven) so that they can land a spot in a bowl game. A bowl game not only means a program can play in another game, but it gives a school exposure on national television and extra practice time for the team, which is beneficial for developing the team for next season.

After ten weeks of football:
-47 teams are eligible to play in bowls
-22 teams are ineligible to play in bowls
-51 teams are on the bubble

Bowl tie-ins by conference:
ACC: 8 (6 eligible)
Big East: 6 (0 eligible)
Big Ten: 8 (7 eligible)
Big 12: 8 (7 eligible)
C-USA: 6 (4 eligible)
MAC: 3 (4 eligible)
MWC: 5 (4 eligible)
Pac-10: 6 (3 eligible)
SEC: 9 (7 eligible)
Sun Belt: 2 (0 eligible)
WAC: 4 (4 eligible)
Navy: Poinsettia Bowl (eligible)
Army: At-large (not eligible)

Wyoming and Central Michigan won bowl games last season, but both are already ineligible to go to a bowl this season. Bowling Green and Minnesota also played in bowl games last postseason, but both schools have racked up too many losses to participate in the 2010-2011 postseason.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Helmet Stickers: Week 10

ACC—Since the ACC started playing a conference title game in 2005, either Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech has represented the Coastal Division in every title game. Virginia Tech got by Georgia Tech Thursday night by a score of 28-21. The Yellow Jackets tied the game with 2:34 at 21 apiece. On the ensuing kickoff, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson ran back the kick for 90 yards and a touchdown to put the Hokies back up by 7. The Yellow Jackets got a chance to tie the game, driving to the Hokies’ 17-yard line, but cornerback Rashad Carmichael made an interception with eight seconds left to end the game. The Hokies are undefeated in conference play, 5-0.

Big 12—Texas A&M ended a seven-game losing streak to Oklahoma with a 33-19 victory Saturday night. Aggies running back Cyrus Gray ran for 112 yard in his first game as a starter. The Aggies defense finally emerged Saturday, giving the Sooners their first scoreless first half since 2007. Linebacker Michael Hodges had nineteen tackles and two sacks. During the game, the Aggies defense stopped the Oklahoma Sooners offense three times on 4th and 1 on the Texas A&M 1-yard line. The Wrecking Crew is back in College Station!

Big East—Louisville beat an improved Syracuse team 28-20 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The Cardinals lost their starting quarterback and running back to injuries in last week’s loss to Pitt. Backups Justin Burke and Jeremy Wright filled in effectively. The former passed for 143 yards and the latter rushed for 98 yards. Louisville is one win away from bowl eligibility. The Cardinals have not gone to a bowl since 2006.

Big Ten—The 67-65 triple overtime game between Michigan and Illinois this weekend was the highest scoring (132 points) Big Ten conference game ever and the highest scoring FBS game this season. Roy Roundtree had 246 receiving yards, a school record. Second-string quarterback Tate Forcier came into the game after Denard Robinson was knocked out and threw for 114 yards in the last quarter and three overtimes. Michigan’s defense has been taking criticism most of the season, but the Wolverine defense came up with a big stop on Illinois’ two-point conversion in triple overtime.

C-USA—UTEP became bowl-eligible for the first time since 2005 after defeating Southern Methodist 28-14 at the Sun Bowl. Miners quarterback Trevor Vittatoe threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks or interceptions. Vittatoe completed passes to nine different targets. The Miners ended a three-game losing streak with the win.

MAC—After trailing Western Michigan 22-13 heading into the third quarter, Central Michigan rallied to score 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to get a 26-22 win at home. Chippewas wide receiver Cody Wilson had a career-high 12 catches for 185 yards. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Radcliff passed for 300 yards. The Chips’ defense recovered four Western Michigan fumbles for a +2 turnover ratio. The win ended a six-game skid.

MWC—In the last battle of unbeatens during the regular season, TCU cherry popped Utah in a 47-7 rout. The Horned Frogs destroyed the Utes in every statistical category. The Horned Frogs possessed the rock for 39:06 and outgained the Utes 558 yards to 199 yards. TCU hung up 40 unanswered points on Utah until they allowed a touchdown in garbage time. Utah suffered its worst home loss since 1989. If a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference gets a shot to play in the national championship, it should be Texas Christian University.

Pac-10—UCLA defeated a stingy Oregon State team on the final play of the game. The game appeared to end in a 14-14 tie and was set to go to overtime, but instant replay determined there was one second left in the game. That was enough for Bruin kicker Kai Forbath to connect on a 51-yard field goal to get the 17-14 win for the Bruins. Forbath got an opportunity to redeem himself after missing a 46-yarder with 1:17 left in the fourth quarter and a 49-yarder in the second quarter. The Bruins ended a three-game skid.

SEC—The only thing crazier then LSU beating former LSU head coach Nick Saban Saturday was Les Miles eating grass. The Tigers rallied to a 24-21 victory in front of 92,969. The Tigers put up two field goals, a touchdown, and a two-point conversion in a big fourth quarter. The Tigers outgained the Crimson Tide 433 yards to 325 yards and went two-for-two on fourth downs, including a 23-yard reverse play on 4th and 1. Louisiana State’s win extinguished any chance that Alabama had at going to the BCS National Championship.

Sun Belt—Florida International defeated Louisiana-Monroe 42-35 in double overtime. Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime. During the second overtime, Golden Panthers running back Darriet Perry scored on a 17-yard run. The Warhawks tried to respond with a touchdown of their own, but on fourth-and-12, Golden Panthers cornerback Ashlyn Parker stopped the Warhawk’s Luther Ambrose 4 yards short of a first down. Florida International wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had four touchdowns: two receiving, one rushing, and one on a kick return. FIU advances to 3-1 in Sun Belt play.

WAC—Boise State dismantled Hawaii 42-7. Boise State set a school record for offense in a game with 737 yards. Kellen Moore threw for 507 yards and three touchdowns, including an 83-yard touchdown pass to receiver Titus Young. The Bronco defense was just as impressive as the offense, tallying seven sacks and holding a high-octane Hawaii offense to just 196 yards in the game—the lowest offensive output the Warriors have had in a game in 12 years. Boise State has beaten Hawaii in nine of the last ten meetings between the two schools.

Independents—Navy gets a helmet sticker for its 76-35 win over two-time defending Conference USA champions East Carolina on Saturday. The 76 points scored by Navy are the most scored against a Division I team in Navy history. Navy had 596 yards of total offense, of which 521 were on the ground. The Midshipmen were 6 for 12 on third downs and 2 for 2 on fourth downs. East Carolina lost four fumbles in the third quarter, including three fumbles in the span of four offensive snaps, and Navy capitalized by scoring on all four recovered fumbles. Ten different rushers carried the ball for Navy. With the win, Navy qualified for a bowl game for the eighth straight season.