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With eight weeks in the books, college football’s bowl picture is starting to clear.
Florida State’s dominating victory over Clemson placed the Seminoles squarely in the national championship mix. Florida State ranks No. 2 in the first release of the BCS standings, but the Seminoles will have to contend with Oregon, who has room to move in the computer polls.
For now, we project the Ducks to pass the Seminoles for the No. 2 spot and play Alabama for the national championship. However, as Week 8 showed us, nothing in college football is guaranteed and another upset or two this year wouldn’t be a surprise.
Even though Clemson was dominated by Florida State, the Tigers are still in good shape to play for a BCS bowl. Coach Dabo Swinney’s team should be favored in its next four games, with the season finale at South Carolina a tossup.
Missouri is projected as the second SEC team in a BCS bowl, but don’t count out South Carolina, LSU or Texas A&M.
The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.
The post-Week 8 bowl projections are a mixture between projections for the next few weeks, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first eight weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including West Virginia, Minnesota, NC State, Utah and North Carolina from BCS conferences. And Texas State, Buffalo, Toledo and Arkansas State from the non-BCS ranks.
As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.
College Football's Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Wyoming vs. Arizona|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||Ball State vs. Colorado State|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Washington|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Tulane|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Ohio* vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||SJSU vs. North Texas|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||No. Illinois vs. Indiana|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Notre Dame* vs. Boise State|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||ECU vs. B. College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||TCU vs. Iowa|
|Kraft Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Rutgers vs. K-State|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Cincinnati vs. Ga. Tech|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Va. Tech|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Okla. State vs. Michigan|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||SDSU vs. Navy|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Duke vs. Ole Miss|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Texas Tech vs. UCLA|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Oklahoma|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Maryland vs. Vanderbilt|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||Pitt vs. Oregon State|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Miami vs. So. Carolina|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Georgia vs. Michigan State|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||Rice vs. N'Western|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Auburn vs. Nebraska|
|Capital One||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M|
|Rose||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Ohio State vs. Stanford|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||BCS vs. BCS||Fresno State vs. Baylor|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||BCS vs. BCS||Missouri vs. Clemson|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Texas|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Florida State vs. UCF|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Florida vs. Houston|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||BGSU vs. WKU|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Oregon|
* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.
Related College Football Content
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ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
BCS Post-Week 8 Analysis
A rookie quarterback is quickly establishing himself as a star in a massive media market. An embattled Lone Star gunslinger may finally be winning over his fan base. The next generation in Indianapolis showed the old generation how it’s done. A former Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick is lost for the year — for the third time in his career. And a few NFL records highlight an exciting Week 7 weekend of action.
With that in mind, here are the most important, interesting, historic and bizarre statistics from Week 7 of the NFL:
27,485: Tony Romo's NFL record for passing yards in first 100 career games
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo might be the most maligned player in the NFL and it has bordered on inappropriate at times. Romo made his 100th career start this weekend in Philadelphia and passed for 317 yards in the 17-3 critical road divisional game. Romo has passed for 27,485 yards in those 100 starts, setting an NFL record for the most passing yards by a player in his first 100 career starts. Dallas sits one game up in the NFC East.
17-1: 49ers', Seahawks' and Broncos' combined record against teams other than the Colts
Andrew Luck accounted for four total touchdowns as the Colts knocked off the previously unbeaten Broncos in Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis. Luck has now led his team to wins over San Francisco in Week 3, Seattle in Week 5 and Denver on Sunday night. Luck accounted for seven total touchdowns and no turnovers in those three wins as his Colts sit two games ahead in the AFC South. What’s more impressive, the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos are a combined 17-1 against all other teams not named the Colts.
2: Players to ever top 100 yards from scrimmage and score a TD in the first 7 games of a season
Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles rushed for 86 yards , posted 37 yards receiving and scored a touchdown in the Chiefs win over Houston. Charles has topped 100 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in each of the first seven games in this season. He is just the second player in NFL history to accomplish this feat. O.J. Simpson is the only other player to top 100 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown in each of his team’s first seven games when he did it in 1975 for the Bills. Charles has rushed for 561 yards and caught 36 passes for 337 yards with eight total touchdowns in seven games.
25: Games Sam Bradford will have missed over the last five season by the end of 2013
Few players are as unlucky or injury-prone as the Rams' Sam Bradford. He tore his ACL this weekend in the 30-15 loss to Carolina on the road and will be lost for the rest of the season. Bradford will miss the final nine games of the season and it will give him 25 missed starts over the last five seasons, dating back to his final collegiate campaign. In 2009, his final year at Oklahoma, Bradford missed 10 of the Sooners' 13 games with a major shoulder injury after winning the Heisman Trophy the previous year. Then in 2011, Bradford missed six games due a serious high ankle sprain. And now, he will miss nine more games in 2013. By the year’s end, Bradford will have missed 25 of his last 77 starts.
4: Geno Smith's game-winning, fourth-quarter or overtime drives
The second-round pick from West Virginia has had his ups and downs in his brief NFL career. But it’s safe to say the rookie is comfortable in the waning moments of games. On Sunday, the Jets' quarterback threw for 233 yards, scored two touchdowns and led his team on the game-winning drive in overtime over Tom Brady and the Patriots. Smith has now led four game-winning, fourth-quarter or overtime drives in his first seven starts — becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
20: Devin Hester's NFL record for career return touchdowns
The great Hall of Famer Deion Sanders returned an NFL record 19 punts and kicks for touchdowns in his illustrious 13-year career. Hester returned a punt 81 yards in the Bears shootout loss to Washington this weekend, giving him 20 return touchdowns for his career. He also extended his own NFL record with 13 punt-return touchdowns. This is just Hester’s eighth NFL season and he could easily put the record out of reach with a few more big plays. Especially, considering the direction the league is heading when it comes to kickoff returns.
158: Jay Cutler’s Bears franchise record for being sacked
Jim Harbaugh played for the Bears 1987-93 and was sacked 157 times. Jay Cutler came into this weekend’s game with the Redskins tied with Harbaugh as the most sacked quarterback in Chicago franchise history. In the second quarter, Washington sacked Cutler to move him past Harbuargh in this dubious distinction. But it also was a costly sack for the team, as Cutler left the game with a groin injury and will be out at least four weeks while it heals. Washington won 45-41 as the Bears dropped to 4-3 and into a second-place tie in the NFC North with Detroit.
11: Points scored at home by Jacksonville this year
The Jaguars are 0-7 on the season and 0-3 at home after losing 24-6 to San Diego this weekend. Jacksonville scored two points in the 28-2 loss to Kansas City in Week 1, scored just three points against Indianapolis in Week 4 and then six points against the Chargers. That’s a safety and three field goals in three games at home this fall with a combined 89-11 margin of defeat for the fans in Jacksonville.
3-8: Texans' record in their last 11 regular-season games
Case Keenum started this weekend in place of the injured Matt Schaub against the unbeaten Chiefs on the road. The Texans fought hard but lost, mustering just three points in the second half in Arrowhead Stadium. It was Houston’s fifth consecutive loss this season and its eighth overall in the regular season during a stretch that goes back to Week 14 of last season. After starting the 2012 season 11-1, the Texans dropped three of their last four to end the season and sit at 2-5 in 2013 ahead of only Jacksonville in the AFC South.
The coaching carousel was quiet once again in Week 8. USC, Miami (Ohio) and Connecticut are the only three openings, but more jobs will open over the next few weeks. And the carousel will only get more active if jobs like Texas open, especially as coaches at other BCS programs look to move to Austin.
Virginia’s Mike London has been on a quick rise through the hot seat ranks over the last few weeks. The Cavaliers went 4-8 last season and are off to a sluggish 2-5 start – with one win over VMI – in 2013. London received a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage last week, but can the fourth-year coach return if Virginia finishes 2-10?
Another coach on the rise is Florida’s Will Muschamp. Take out last season’s 11-2 record, and the Gators are just 11-9 under Muschamp’s watch. The offense has been hit hard by injuries, but Florida recruits at too high of a level for this unit to struggle as much as it has through the first seven games. If this offense continues to struggle, will Muschamp be forced to make staff changes?
Each week, we will take a look at the hot seat/pressure on a program for all 125 coaches. Some new coaches will rank high due to poor performances but aren't in any danger of losing their job.
And another important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 10-15 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.
Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013
|1||Ron English||1-6||EMU's struggling defense gets NIU next week.|
|2||Mike London||2-5||Cavs likely headed for 2-10 finish.|
|3||Charlie Weis||2-4||Jayhawks passed for just 16 yards against Oklahoma.|
|4||Mack Brown||4-2||QB David Ash still out for Longhorns.|
|5||Norm Chow||0-6||Hawaii is 1-11 in conference play under Chow.|
|6||Ron Turner||1-5||La. Tech is winnable game for FIU this week.|
|7||Dana Holgorsen||3-4||WVU in danger of missing out on bowl.|
|8||Charley Molnar||1-6||Minutemen have scored only 55 points in 2013.|
|9||Dan Enos||3-5||Chippewas have favorable November schedule.|
|10||P.J. Fleck||0-8||WMU an underdog to UMass this week.|
|11||Bo Pelini||5-1||QB Taylor Martinez should return this Saturday.|
|12||Bobby Hauck||4-3||Rebels still have chance to make a bowl.|
|13||Tim Beckman||3-3||Fighting Illini 0-10 in Big Ten play under Beckman.|
|15||Skip Holtz||2-5||Has scored 20 or more points just twice this year.|
|16||Todd Monken||0-6||USM riding 18-game losing streak.|
|17||Matt Rhule||1-6||Freshman QB P.J. Walker is a promising player.|
|18||Sean Kugler||1-5||UTEP's only win in 2013 was New Mexico State.|
|19||June Jones||2-4||Can the Mustangs rally for a bowl?|
|20||Rich Ellerson||3-5||Very little margin for error to make bowl this season.|
|23||Dan Mullen||3-3||Bulldogs still have to play three ranked opponents.|
|24||Randy Edsall||5-2||Terrapins decimated by injuries on offense.|
|25||Jim Grobe||4-3||Wake quietly improving after slow start.|
|26||Kevin Wilson||3-4||Hoosiers struggling mightily on defense.|
|28||Kirk Ferentz||4-3||Hawkeyes gave Ohio State all it could handle.|
|29||Jeff Quinn||5-2||Bulls riding five-game winning streak.|
|33||Bill Blankenship||2-4||Can Tulsa rally to make a bowl?|
|36||Terry Bowden||2-6||Zips two wins in 2013 equals the total from 2011-12.|
|37||Dave Christensen||4-3||Lost Border War rivalry to Colorado State by 30 points.|
|38||Larry Fedora||1-5||UNC not out of bowl picture just yet.|
|42||Will Muschamp||4-3||Gators' offense a disaster.|
|45||Brian Polian||3-4||Boilermakers could finish 1-11 this year.|
|47||Scott Shafer||3-4||Awful performance for Syracuse against Georgia Tech.|
|49||Sonny Dykes||1-6||Injuries adding up for Bears.|
|58||Trent Miles||0-7||GSU showing improvement in last two games.|
|62||George O'Leary||5-1||Knights projected to play in BCS bowl.|
|83||Mark Helfrich||7-0||Ducks in good shape to play for national title.|
|93||Jimbo Fisher||6-0||FSU is really back this time.|
|94||Gus Malzahn||6-1||Malzahn could be national coach of the year.|
|115||Charlie Strong||6-1||Louisville needs a lot of help to win conference title.|
|117||Chris Petersen||5-2||Broncos lost QB Joe Southwick in win over Nevada.|
|118||David Shaw||5-1||Stanford back on track after win over UCLA.|
|120||Art Briles||6-0||Baylor clearly the favorite in the Big 12.|
|NR||Mike Bath||0-2||RedHawks 0-2 under Bath.|
Related College Football Content
Stats to Know From Week 8
Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections
ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
BCS Post-Week 8 Analysis
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 8.
1: Connor Halliday moved to No. 1 atop a number of record books during loss at Oregon
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday’s arm got plenty of work in Saturday’s 62-38 loss at No. 2 Oregon. He tied a FBS record with 58 completions on a FBS record 89 attempts — both are second-most in all NCAA divisions. His 557 yards passing set Pac-12 and school records. The 58 completions tied the same amount Eastern Michigan’s Andy Schmitt had in 2008 (58-of-80 for 516 yards), and the 89 attempts broke the record Purdue’s Drew Brees set in 1998 (55-of-83 for 494). Schmitt was the only one of the three QBs to win his game, throwing just one interception, while Halliday and Brees each threw four interceptions.
3: Colorado is 3-0 against the last three visiting teams from the Eastern time zone
Charleston Southern was a late addition to Colorado’s schedule, after its Sept. 14 game against Fresno State was canceled due to the flooding in Colorado. In its fifth-ever game against a FCS opponent and first home game against an Eastern time zone opponent since Georgia left with a 29-27 loss in 2010, the Buffaloes handed the previously 7-0 Buccaneers a 43-10 loss. Colorado also defeated visiting Miami (Ohio) 42-0 in 2007.
5: Colorado’s Uzo-Diribe moves to the top of the nation with his fifth forced fumble
Colorado senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe forced his nation-leading fifth fumble in the Buffs’ win over Charleston Southern. The sack-fumble was recovered at the Buccaneer 12. Two plays later, Michael Adkins scored from the 5 for what proved to be the game-winning TD. The fifth forced fumble ties Uzo-Diribe for third-most in a single season at CU — seven is the record — and he now stands third on the CU career list for forced fumbles with 10 — one off of the record set in 1986 and 1977.
9: Arizona State’s Marion Grice passes 100 all-purpose yards for ninth straight game
Sun Devils running back Marion Grice easily made it nine games in a row with 100-plus all-purpose yards, after accounting for 268 in a 53-24 win against Washington Saturday. Grice had 158 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, and added a receiving touchdown on four catches for 37 yards against the Huskies. The senior’s streak is tied for third in the nation with Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey for the streak. Carey had 237 all-purpose yards in a 35-24 win over Utah.
9 part II: Carey hits the century mark on the ground for the ninth consecutive game
Not only did Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey rush for 100 yards for the ninth straight game in the Wildcats’ 35-24 win over Utah, but the running back also set the school record for carries and logged the third-most yards in school history. He rushed 40 times for 236 yards and became the sixth Wildcat to rush for 3,000 yards in his career. Carey ran for 204 yards in a 34-24 win at Utah last season. In both outings against the Utes, the Wildcats rushed for 300 yards (300 and 320).
10: Oregon’s 10-point halftime lead Saturday was its smallest of the season
The 34-24 advantage Oregon took into the second half against Washington State was the closest any team has come to hanging with the Ducks over the first 30 minutes. It is now back-to-back games of “close” leads for Oregon at the half after holding a 21-7 lead against Washington last week. The Ducks are averaging a 24.7-point margin at half this season, and have gone on to outscore their seven opponents 160-51 in the second half, including 28-14 against the Cougars on the way to a 62-38 victory.
32: Stanford continues forced turnover streak with 32nd consecutive in Saturday’s win
With two interceptions against UCLA Saturday, Stanford extended its streak to 32 games with a turnover forced. That streak is second in the nation behind Missouri’s 37. Jordan Richards’ third-quarter interception of Brett Hundley set up the Cardinal at the UCLA 40, and six plays and a touchdown later, Stanford turned what was a 3-3 game less than five minutes earlier, into a 17-3 lead. It was Richards again — with a 17-10 lead — who picked off Hundley and put the Cardinal at the Bruins’ 32. Five Tyler Gaffney rushes later, including a 4-yard score, and Stanford was a 24-10 winner. Richards finished with a team-high 10 tackles and his first two-interception game.
91: Beavers’ longest scoring drive still took less than two minutes
Oregon State’s longest scoring drive of the season was still one of its shortest in Saturday’s 49-17 win at California. The Beavers drove a season-high 91 yards on seven plays in 1:55 on their first scoring drive — capped by a Terron Ward 1-yard TD. The 91 yards bested an 11-play, 90-yard scoring drive in the second quarter against Utah this season. It marked the 13th scoring drive of less than two minutes this season; 11 of them have ended with a touchdown.
1939: Oregon State has 3-0 Pac-12 road mark for first time since 1939
Oregon State’s 49-17 win over host California marked the third straight conference road victory for the Beavers. It is the first time since 1939 Oregon State has won three consecutive conference road games, and the first time since 2008 the Beavers have won three straight Pac-12 road games at any point in the season.
-5: With the nation’s leading rusher on its team, Washington was held to minus-5 yards rushing
Bishop Sankey and the nation’s eighth-ranked rushing offense going against the nation’s 75th-best run defense looked like a matchup made in heaven entering Saturday’s game. Instead, the Arizona State run defense, which was giving up 168.8 yards per game on the ground through six games, held Sankey and Co. to minus-5 yards on just 25 attempts. Sankey, who entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher per game (149.8), had 13 carries for 22 yards. It was the third time in the last 18 seasons ASU has held an opponent to minus-5 yards rushing or more — both coming in 2009 (Idaho State -5 and Washington State -54).
This preview and more on UCLA and the Pac-12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
No. 23 UCLA Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-10 (13-5 Pac-12)
Postseason: NCAA Round of 64
Coach: Steve Alford (First season at UCLA)
Pac-12 projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
How can Alford resuscitate his image and satiate the masses? Simple. Win.
Howland did plenty of that his first five years — 126 times, in fact. That number fell to 107 in his last five seasons at the helm, and despite a Pac-12 regular season crown and 25 wins in 2013, Howland wore out his welcome.
Alford, though, barely got one. And with a thin roster and a meager recruiting class, winning games, much less hearts and minds, won’t be an easy task.
After transfers and NBA defections, the Bruins are left with just 10 scholarship players, four of whom have not played a college game and another who averaged just over six minutes last season.
Alford will turn to three players from Howland’s highly regarded 2012 recruiting class to lead the way, starting with do-everything point forward Kyle Anderson and feisty scorer Jordan Adams. The key, though, might be the other remaining member of the class, Tony Parker. A 6-9 center who fell out of favor with Howland, Parker could thrive in the size-deficient Pac-12.
Related: Q&A with UCLA's Kyle Anderson
The loss of Shabazz Muhammad after one year to the NBA Draft leaves the Bruins without some firepower, but a veteran group in the post should ease some of the pain. Travis and David Wear return for their senior years and will provide leadership and production, though both need to get better around the rim.
Parker toyed with the idea of transferring but stayed in Westwood hoping to improve drastically on his meager 6.3 minutes per game last year as a freshman. Reports about Parker over the summer were positive — if he has dropped some weight and added some mobility, the Bruins may have their big man.
UCLA also picked up a key transfer in former Texas Tech forward Wanaah Bail, a lengthy big man who could be a defensive force in the Pac-12 when he was declared eligible this month.
2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC
Anderson is a 6-9 Swiss Army Knife who can play almost any spot on the floor. The former 5-star recruit earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season, when he averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Anderson will handle the point more frequently as a sophomore
with Larry Drew II lost to graduation. Expect his production — and his impact on the game — to increase significantly.
Adams will once again be one of the Bruins’ primary options on offense. He averaged 15.3 points (eighth in the Pac-12) and had a team-high 46 3-pointers as a freshman. Adams burst onto the scene with four straight 20-point games to start his career and added three more by the end of December. He had only four more the rest of the way, however, and UCLA will rely on him to play at a high level on a more consistent basis as a sophomore.
Defensive stopper Norman Powell, who averaged 22.1 minutes last season primarily coming of the bench, is the only other backcourt contributor returning. Two freshman, Bryce Alford (the coach’s son) and Zach LaVine, will play immediately. Alford, who broke the New Mexico high school single-season scoring record last year, is a capable outside shooter. LaVine can play both backcourt positions and oozes potential.
UCLA's 2013 class does not have the star power of the previous haul, but multiple players could be thrust into major roles early. Freshman Zach LaVine should see time as the backup point guard. Wanaah Bail, who originally signed with Texas Tech, will be a key part of the frontcourt. Bryce Alford, Steve’s son, can bring some outside shooting off the bench. Noah Allen will find time as a reserve small forward.
Factoid: 1-3. Steve Alford is 1–3 as a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The losses have come to two No. 14 seeds and a No. 11 seed.
Ultimately, the biggest thing Alford has going for him is that he’s not Ben Howland. Howland’s gruff exterior was tolerable, if not commendable, during UCLA’s three-year Final Four run in the mid-2000s. While no banners were hung, the Bruins hadn’t enjoyed that kind of success in decades. Things turned sour for Howland, however, and the school opted to pull the plug in March.
Alford steps into one of the elite coaching jobs in the nation. There is pressure to win every year at UCLA. And while the 2013-14 roster lacks depth, there is enough talent in the short term to contend for the Pac-12 title. Long term, Alford will need to prove that he can build a program that can compete for a national title on a consistent basis. UCLA fans will accept nothing less.
2013-14 Preseason Top 25
25. Wichita State
This Q&A and more on UCLA and the Pac-12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
Now, as a sophomore, Anderson can expect to have the ball in his hands more frequently while playing under new coach Steve Alford. Athlon Sports caught up with Anderson over the summer to talk about his transition to the West Coast and his thoughts on the upcoming season.
His UCLA team checked in at No. 23 in our countdown .
You are New Jersey guy. Why did you decide to go to all the way across the country and what do you miss most about the northeast?
I wanted to go to UCLA because of its history and tradition. The hardest thing was the distance. It’s been a challenge, but I came around, and I’m happy I decided to come all the way out here. I was real homesick last year, especially in the summer, but I got over it once the games started. It was rough at first, though. It’s been a personal challenge for me and I never considered leaving for another school.
You were recruited by Ben Howland. When did you know he was going to be fired at UCLA and were you surprised when it happened?
We won the Pac-12 regular-season title, but I think we started to have an idea when we lost in the conference tournament. I got a call from Coach Howland right after he got fired. It was tough because he was the one who recruited me. I thought we had a very good season, but obviously it wasn’t up to me. It was a distraction at times during the season, but we tried to stay focused and not pay attention to what people were saying.
Do you ever think about what might have happened — and whether Howland would still be the coach — if Jordan Adams (right) hadn’t broken his foot in the Pac-12 tourney?
In my opinion, if Jordan hadn’t gotten hurt, we would have been the fifth seed out west and done well in the NCAA Tournament. Jordan’s injury was very unfortunate, especially the timing of it. I think it all would have worked out if he hadn’t broken his foot, but you can’t go back and think about that now. We have to just look ahead.
How close did you come to putting your name in for the NBA Draft last year?
Very close, but I decided that this was the right move for me. I wanted to take this offseason as another challenge, to get my body right and take my game to another level rather than trying to go to the NBA. I wanted to stay another year, work on my game and enjoy college for another season.
Did you know anything at all about Steve Alford, and what are your impressions of him thus far?
I watch enough college basketball and saw a few New Mexico games last season. They had a very good team with guys like Tony Snell and Kendall Williams. I saw the freedom he gave those guys, and hopefully he can bring the success and that freedom to UCLA.
How anxious were you through the process after Howland got fired?
I was wondering who our coach was going to be. The way I found out about Alford being our coach is that someone woke me up and told me. I didn’t really know who he was at first, but when they said he’s the coach at New Mexico, then I realized who it was. He’s a guy who played for one of the greatest coaches of all time in Coach (Bob) Knight and also won a national title. So he knows what it’s like to win at the highest level.
You had to play power forward last season as a freshman. What was the most difficult part of the adjustment and how did it help you?
It was tough going up against guys that were two or three years older and much bigger and more physical. I had to step up for the challenge and it was hard for me, especially early in the season. Once I figured out that I had to be the one to hit first, it became much easier for me. But the physical aspect was by far the most difficult.
Related: 2013-14 Pac-12 Preview
Has Alford told you what your role will be this season — and whether you’ll be the primary point guard?
We haven’t talked about that at all yet. I’m not sure and I’m not going to ask, I’m not that kind of kid. I don’t want to make demands or anything like that, but it’ll be nice to know where I’m going to play. I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.
Have you always played point guard before last season?
Yes, but I haven’t played it in a while now. But growing up, I was always the point guard. My whole life. Although my first two years at St. Anthony’s, I played with Myles Mack, who is at Rutgers now. I played off the ball a decent amount, but not nearly as much as I was last year with Larry (Drew). Last year playing off the ball encouraged me to go and rebound more. Go get the ball.
You are a unique point guard. Who do you try and pattern your game after?
I’ve always enjoyed watching NBA Classic and seeing Magic Johnson — the way he made his teammates so much better and the way he’d handle the ball and put guys on his hip. Even before I grew, I admired him. Obviously, I’m nowhere near Magic, but we’re both big point guards. He’s one of the best players ever to play the game. Other guys I liked to watch tape of are Penny Hardaway and Steve Smith.
Who gave you the nickname Slow-Mo?
It was this guy named Hassan, who used to commentate over the loud speaker at the IS8 league in New York. I was a young player and he gave me the nickname and it stuck. I loved it. It’s just the way I am. I don’t intend to play slow, but it’s just the way my game is.
How good is Alford’s son, Bryce? Can you guys play together?
He’s a very good player and can do a lot of things. He’s good with the ball in his hands and finds people. He can create for himself and what he can also do is really shoot the ball. I think we can play together in the backcourt because of his ability to shoot. He can definitely help us this year.
What did you wind up doing in the offseason — and what was your focus in terms of getting better?
I stayed in L.A. all summer for summer school. The biggest thing for me was my eating habits. It sounds silly, but it’s been my Kryptonite. I’ve never been big on eating healthy. I’ve started watching what I eat and it’s already paid off. I’m trying to make it a lifestyle. Sometimes I still cheat on my diet, but I’m already seeing a difference in my body. I played last year at 240 pounds. Now I’m down to 230, and it’s a lot more muscle. If I’m going to cheat on my diet, it’s probably going to be with fast food — maybe a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonald’s.
Most important thing you learned playing for legendary high school coach Bob Hurley?
Just taking everything one day and one practice at a time. Great practices lead to great games. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
Related: 2013-14 UCLA Preview
Favorite visiting venue to play in?
When I was able to come back close to home last year and play in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It was great having my family there, but the arena was also unbelievable.
Colorado. People talk about the altitude, but you don’t believe them until you play there. I thought it was a myth, but it’s tough to breathe. No wonder why the Nuggets are so tough to beat at home.
Other coach in the league he would like to play for?
Sean Miller at Arizona. When he was the head coach at Xavier, he was the first one to offer me a scholarship. I was really young. I think he started recruiting me when I was in the eighth grade.
Who was the toughest player to guard last year in the Pac-12?
Arsalan Kazemi or Oregon. He has a motor like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and was much stronger and older than me. I couldn’t do anything with him.
Toughest defender you’ve gone up against?
Carlos Emory, also of Oregon. He’s a very good defender, another guy with a high motor who was stronger than me. It came down to experience and he had more than me, as tough as it is to say.
Best player you’ve ever played with?
Kyrie Irving. I played with him in an all-star game and he was just amazing. He can do everything. I was a young kid. He’s like poetry in motion.
That's right, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid was excited after another big win. And so was LSU Freek, who created another brilliant GIF. This time it was of Reid doing his best impersonation of the Kool-Aid Man. The similarities are uncanny.
The Seattle Seahawks own the 16-game NFL record for fewest points scored with 140 in 1992. Seattle also owns the all-time mark for fewest yards in a game when it totaled minus-7 against the L.A. Rams in 1979. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers set the modern NFL mark for worst point differential by being outscored by 287 points in 1976. The Baltimore Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points back in 1981. The Houston Oilers claim the NFL mark for most interceptions thrown in a single season with 48 picks tossed in 1962. And the Philadelphia Eagles own the NFL’s single-season sacks allowed mark with 104 back in 1986.
Needless to say, there are many ways to measure NFL ineptitude. But the Jacksonville Jaguars might be redefining the term. The Jaguars lost 24-6 at home to the Chargers on Sunday to move to 0-7 in this season. What's worse, is how this team is losing. Jacksonville has scored 11 total points in three home games. It scored just a safety against Kansas City in a 28-2 defeat at home. It mustered three points in a 37-3 home loss to the Colts. So relatively speaking, Sunday's two field goals against the Chargers were a relative offensive explosion for the home team at EverBank Stadium.
Jacksonville is last in the NFL in yards per play (4.5), has thrown the fewest passing touchdowns (3) and are last in the league in rushing offense (63.0). The Jags might win a game somewhere along the way, but this team is making a strong case as one of — if not THE — worst NFL team during the expansion era. That won't be decided until after this season is over, however. Here is the current roster of the worst NFL teams since expansion in 2002.
1. 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
Point Differential: -249 (268 PF, 517 PA)
Offense (total, scoring): 30th (268.3 ypg), 27th (16.8 ppg)
Defense (total, scoring): 32nd (404.4 ypg), 32nd (32.3 ppg)
No other team has ever gone winless in the modern NFL era (16-game regular season), which means the Detroit Lions must be considered the worst team due in large part to the massive "0" in the win column. Winning is all that really matters in sports and the Lions failed in truly epic fashion. Top it off with the worst defense of the expansion era, as this team fell just 16 points shy of setting an NFL record for points allowed (533). This team posted an NFL-worst four interceptions on defense, was next to last in sacks allowed (52.0) and finished 14th in the NFC in turnover differential. Dan Orlovsky led a five-man QB platoon that featured 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and a combined 71.3 QB rating.
2. 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15)
Point Differential: -261 (175 PF, 436 PA)
Offense: 29th (279.4 ypg), 32nd (10.9 ppg)
Defense: 29th (372.8 ypg), 31st (27.3 ppg)
This team redefined the term offensive struggles as its 175 points were only 35 away from the NFL mark set by Seattle (140) in 1992. It is the all-time low for a Rams team that played 16 games while the 261-point differential is the worst in franchise history as well. Marc Bulger was the leading passer with 1,469 yards, 5 TDs and 6 INTs. The team itself finished with 12 total TD passes and 21 INTs and a collective passer rating of 64.0. The Rams were shutout twice and scored 10 or fewer points in nine games. St. Louis also finished 31st in the NFL in turnover margin (-13) and 30th in team sacks (25.0). Steven Jackson was the lone bright spot on a team that won only once — against Detroit. The Rams were one of only three teams since 2002 to win one or fewer games.
3. 2009 Detroit Lions (2-14)
Point Differential: -232 (262 PF, 494 PA)
Offense: 26th (299.0 ypg), 27th (16.4 ppg)
Defense: 32nd (392.1 ypg), 32nd (30.9 ppg)
While the '09 Rams set offensive football back two decades, the '09 Lions continued to show its lack of defensive prowess. The Rams did defeat the Lions (17-10) that year, but for the season, Detroit scored nearly 100 more points and won twice as many games (over Washington and Cleveland). This Lions team also finished dead last in turnover margin (-18) and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford missed the final six games of the season. The Lions went 0-6 after Stafford was lost.
4. 2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Point Differential: -170 (267 PF, 437 PA)
Offense: 28th (287.5 ypg), 26th (16.7 ppg)
Defense: 23rd (342.2 ypg), 30th (27.3 ppg)
This version of the Fish lost the first 13 games of the season before winning their only game of the year over Baltimore. Cleo Lemon was 1-6 as the starter, John Beck went 0-4 and Trent Green was 0-5. The trio combined to throw 12 touchdown passes, 16 fewer than the opposition. Ronnie Brown led the team in rushing after playing only seven games (602 yards) while Jesse Chatman actually got the most carries (128). The only shot Cam Cameron has had to be a head coach in the NFL was his one-win season at the helm of the Dolphins.
5. 2008 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential: -233 (232 PF, 465 PA)
Offense: 27th (287.3 ypg), 31st (14.5 ppg)
Defense: 28th (371.9 ypg), 31st (29.1 ppg)
The 233-point scoring differential was a franchise record at the time and would still be the Rams' worst-ever scoring season had it not been for the 2009 team that came along the next year. This team lost the final 10 games of the year and scored only 19 offensive touchdowns all season (11 pass, 8 rush). In fact, this offense was the most scored upon OFFENSE in the NFL. That is right, the Rams offense had seven turnovers returned for touchdowns, a number that tied for the league lead.
6. 2011 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential: -214 (193, 407)
Offense: 31st, (283.6 ypg), 32nd (12.1 ppg)
Defense: 22nd (358.4 ypg), 26th (25.4 ppg)
If not for the 2008 and '09 teams, this team would have been the most outscored Rams team in history. The 193 total points scored are the second-worst in team history for one that played 16 games. Losing Sam Bradford to an injury after 10 games certainly didn't help the offense as the team finished with nine touchdown passes and a paltry 53.2 percent completion rate. St. Louis also led the league in sacks allowed with 55.0 while the rushing attack contributed only seven scores of its own. The 28.1 percent third-down rate was the worst ratio in the NFL as well.
7. 2010 Carolina Panthers (2-14)
Point Differential: -212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)
The offense did little to contribute to this football team whatsoever. Not only were the 196 total points scored the worst in the 17-year history of the franchise, but this season also was the only time the Panthers failed to reach 250 points. Jimmy Clausen (1-9), Matt Moore (1-4) and Brian St. Pierre (0-1) combined for a nasty 9:21 TD:INT ratio while finishing 30th in 3rd downs (30.4 percent) and 25th in turnover margin. To top it off, the 408 points allowed were third worst in franchise history on the defensive side of the ball.
8. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Point Differential: -212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)
Obviously, without Peyton Manning, the Colts experienced its worst season since 1998, No. 18's rookie year. If not for a torrid 2-1 finish to the year, the Colts were in danger of challenging the Lions of 2008. In the first 13 losses, Indy allowed less than 23 points only one time. The total points scored, which included only 14 total touchdown passes (or 12 less than Manning's career low), and point differential were the worst numbers for the Colts since the 1993 season. The top ball carrier, Donald Brown, led the team in rushing despite making just two starts all year (645 yards).
9. 2004 San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Point Differential: -193 (259, 452)
Offense: 26th (286.6 ypg), 30th (16.2 ppg)
Defense: 24th (342.6 ypg), 32nd (28.3 ppg)
San Francisco was two games worse than every other team in the NFL that year, and, technically, the 49ers were winless in regulation as both wins came in overtime. The Niners were 30th in the NFL in points scored and dead last in points allowed while finishing 31st in turnover margin (-19). Tim Rattay (1-8) and Ken Dorsey (1-6) were equally ineffective, throwing for 16 touchdowns against 21 interceptions and completing only 57.9 percent of their passes. The ground game was led by the great Kevan Barlow, who rushed for 822 yards at 3.4 yards per clip. The Niners finished 30th in the NFL in rushing at just over 90 yards per game. The 452 points allowed were one point shy of the franchise record set in 1999 (453) and the 193-point differential was an organizational record.
10. 2005 Houston Texans (2-14)
Point Differential: -171 (260, 431)
Offense: 30th (253.3 ypg), 26th (16.3 ppg)
Defense: 31st (364.0 ypg), 32nd (26.9 ppg)
There were some bad Texans team and David Carr paid a big price. After getting sacked a league-worst 76 times as a rookie, Houston once again led the league in sacks allowed in 2005 with 68. This franchise will be playing in just its 12th season this fall, but the '05 team set the benchmark for fewest wins, points allowed and point differential, all of which led to the firing of Dom Capers. Carr started every game and averaged a pathetic 155.5 yards passing per game, threw only 14 touchdowns to go with 11 interceptions and fumbled 17 times.
The...Worst of the Rest?
2012 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
This team was outscored by nearly 200 points (minus-189), yet beat the Tennessee Titans as well as a shocking early season upset of the Colts. This team ranked 29th in total offense and 30th in total defense in 2012.
2004 Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Began 3-3 before losing nine straight in which they scored more than 15 points only one time. Trailed only the Niners for worst record. The offense was led by Jeff Garcia for 10 games, Luke McCown for four and Kelly Holcomb for two.
2002 Houston Texans (4-12)
The lowest scoring team in franchise history (213 pts) finished last in total offense as well as sacks allowed with 76. The first year of the Texans was salvaged by two strange wins over playoff teams (NYG, PIT) and is the only thing keeping this team out of the top ten.
2011 Tampa Bay Bucs (4-12)
The Bucs led the league in turnovers (40) and posted the worst turnover margin (-16) in 2011. After starting 4-2, Tampa Bay crumbled down the stretch with 10 straight losses and set a franchise mark with 494 points allowed (keep in mind, that is a BUCCANEERS franchise record).
2008 Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
This team couldn't get off the field in 2008 as it was the worst 3rd down team in the league (47.4 percent) and dead last in sacks (10). It finished 31st in total defense and the 440 points allowed and -149-point differential are Chiefs single-season records.
2006 Oakland Raiders (2-14)
The Silver and Black defense was good enough to keep them out of the top ten, but the offense was nearly historic in its struggles. The 168 points scored were 28 away from the all-time NFL mark, these Raiders finished dead last in sacks allowed (72), turnover margin (-20) and both scoring and total offense. Oakland was also 31st in the league with 23 interceptions thrown.
Sunday on Twitter, as a single-file line froze in place after the NASCAR Sprint Cup race’s final caution on the white-flag lap, I wrote the following Talladega evaluation:
“Great race, but last few laps, almost all drivers decided getting out in one piece was more important.”
The term “great race” got me butchered by the always-polite Twitter faithful. No one, it seems, could understand how a race that ended under yellow, with no last-lap pass for the win, could earn that distinction. Instead, there has been much complaining, which will likely increase over the coming week, there wasn’t enough action when it counted. Calls will rise for NASCAR to change the plate package yet again in time for a “revamped” 2014 Daytona 500.
I’m not saying NASCAR should stand pat at one of its fan-friendly tracks. Joey Logano mentioned adjusting the “shark fins” across the decklid designed to add sideforce on the cars. Side-drafting has become the new bump-drafting as there was so much weaving back and forth the pack could have become confused with a bunch of guys warming their tires under a caution flag. According to Logano, one of several voices inside the garage, the way those fins change the air causes the bottom lane of the draft to stall out. It’s a defect that could be improved, especially if NASCAR’s tinkering with the basic Gen-6 chassis anyway.
But for those saying Sunday’s race was terrible, I say Talladega just can’t win. In over 500 miles we saw 20 leaders, 52 lead changes and best of all, a clean event. Only three cautions slowed the action — just two for crashes — and only four cars total were involved in wrecks. If not for Austin Dillon getting turned off Turn 2 by rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. we would have probably seen cars fan out for a fantastic ending. With 24 cars in the lead draft after 103 consecutive laps of green-flag racing, what more did you want?
Consider that cars were three, sometimes four-wide over much of the nearly three hours of racing knowing there was little, if anything, to gain. The draft leaves them stuck together like glue; putting drivers “in position” on Lap 110 does little when there’s 78 laps left. I think fans have been pampered by so many breathtaking endings they now expect that type of action for every one of the event’s 188 laps. It’s an unrealistic expectation, one that can’t be sustained, especially when too many of these drivers have been a part of plate racing for so long. They know the dangers of these 200-mph wrecks, where cars are still launched in the air (see: Daytona’s scary February crash in the Nationwide Series that injured over a dozen fans). The Chase, and keeping one’s spot in the standings surely plays a part of playing it safe. But these men and women know the risks involved with making the wrong move on the final lap. Most importantly, they know their risk to their careers, their families … their bodies.
For too many, if they’re running comfortably inside the top 20, that’s no longer worth making the first move. It’s going to make for an occasional dud of an ending, one where they all wait too long because those fears start taking over.
Honestly? With what we’ve seen throughout plate racing history that’s not a bunch of “wussy” athletes. That’s what’s called being completely understandable.
With that, let’s shift “Through the Gears” after Talladega …
FIRST GEAR: Jamie McMurray (once again) proves he belongs
When it came to future Sprint Cup employment, Jamie McMurray entered this season a dead man. Most experts had Kyle Larson pegged as his replacement, earning a promotion to ride alongside Juan Pablo Montoya. Well, Larson got promoted all right … and he’ll have the plate race expertise of McMurray to lean on in his rookie season.
The move to retain McMurray surprised many, considering the close relationship owner Chip Ganassi maintained with Montoya. (It’s one that will be strained for the foreseeable future, once the veteran decided to move to rival Roger Penske’ open-wheel team in 2014). But in making the choice before it actually happened, experts ignored McMurray’s own relationship with the owner, along with minority shareholder Felix Sabates. One of the friendliest guys inside the garage, McMurray is the opposite of Montoya’s aggressive personality, perhaps the perfect balance for Larson as the youngster moves up.
And, as Sunday proves, the driver still has what it takes to win races. Talladega marked the fourth plate race win for McMurray since 2007; no one, not even Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson, has that many. Ever so quietly, Hendrick motors have led to improvements at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, to the point McMurray’s average finish this season (15.8) is also his best in almost a decade. Down the stretch on Sunday, he put the No. 1 car in position and awaited a challenge that simply never came. Not anyone knows exactly when to press those buttons; Montoya, for sure, never had the keys to get to Victory Lane and boost confidence.
“This does a lot for both of our race teams,” said Sabates. “It shows that we're capable of winning. Jamie can drive at these places. He can drive anywhere, but any time you get Jamie on a superspeedway, he's a force to be reckoned with. I'm not surprised that we won because we have a team that's capable of winning every week.”
They also have a driver in position to claim the bonus for finishing “Best of the Rest” among non-Chase drivers. 30 points ahead of Brad Keselowski with four races remaining, it looks like McMurray will build momentum towards making a bid for the 2014 playoffs that have long eluded him.
SECOND GEAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. runs second … again Extend that plate race winless streak for Earnhardt to nine years. The No. 88 team was the second-place finisher at Talladega after a potential last-lap challenge to McMurray was cut short before it even began.
“Nobody moved, so I was like, ‘Hey, I'm just going to wait until the end,’” said NASCAR’s most popular bridesmaid. “I don't have to try until the very end. I've got one guy to pass, and all I've got to do is make one run happen, and maybe it'll work.”
It’s like modern-day Goldilocks gone wrong for Earnhardt at these places; too early, too late, but never just right. In a mental game, one his father played so well, the son has forgotten just exactly when to start charging to the front. It’s a shame, considering his team has had its best Chase since Earnhardt was signed prior to 2008. Sitting sixth in the standings, 52 points out of the top spot, he’d be in title contention if not for that 35th-place eyesore of an engine failure at Chicagoland.
Battling back, retaining confidence can be credited to crew chief Steve Letarte and Earnhardt’s developing maturity. But the cold, hard fact remains he’s on the verge of going winless in five of his seven seasons with NASCAR’s version of the New York Yankees. Earnhardt’s popularity sticks with him through the rollercoaster ride but even at ‘Dega, you get the sense it’s the specter of his famous father combined with past reputation that keeps the flame going. Every time there’s a chance to change that, connecting with a new generation of fans, young gun-turned-veteran Earnhardt looks more like Kyle Petty than Kyle Busch. When is he going to get aggressive when it counts?
THIRD GEAR: Underdogs still have their dayThe green-flag tilt at Talladega didn’t stop the parity of plate racing. Front Row Motorsports, who finished a shocking 1-2 in the spring event, proved that run wasn’t a fluke with David Ragan and David Gilliland. They ran sixth and seventh, respectively, at the only track where they’ve run inside the top 10 all season. Just as impressive was Michael McDowell, whose mostly start-and-park Phil Parsons Racing car hadn’t finished a race since Indianapolis. He ran 15th and in the lead draft for the final 100 laps with a team that simply doesn’t make green-flag pit stops. Casey Mears and Austin Dillon (subbing for Tony Stewart) would have made the list, too if not for that last-lap wreck which took them both out.
Most importantly, the race was another this season where not a single team start-and-parked. While NASCAR’s new rules reducing purse money for 40th – 43rd have made a difference, so too is the prospect of winning at plate tracks. It’s much harder to convince a team running on a shoestring budget to run the distance when it’s a miracle to run better than 30th. That’s the fate for Ragan, Gilliland and McDowell at intermediates, but here at ‘Dega they’ve got as much of a shot as anyone. The end result is a payday for McDowell, even at 15th, roughly $35,000 higher than finishing dead last. It helps justify buying more tires, paying a trained crew and perhaps coming out a bit ahead on the deal.
For NASCAR to understand its problems — getting new owners involved in the sport and built into weekly contenders — it needs to understand this business side of racing. Making that side more profitable again is key to get more than just Hendrick, Roush, Penske and the other top-tier owners investing in the sport. A chance at success four times a year just isn’t enough for new investors long-term.
FOURTH GEAR: Johnson shifts into cruise control for a sixth title
While Matt Kenseth led early on Sunday, establishing himself at the front of the field, Jimmie Johnson waited for the right opportunity. During the race’s middle stages, teammate Earnhardt hooked to the back of the No. 48 in what looked like a planned strategy to get him to the front. Lap after lap, Earnhardt served as a blocker until Johnson blew by Kenseth and appeared to earn those bonus points for most laps led.
That became crucial when both drivers had disappointing results; Johnson was 13th and Kenseth 20th after being left out to dry in the draft. Still, while both were happy to survive, a look at the big picture caused an important switch: Johnson, trailing the entire Chase, has taken the point lead by four. Kenseth, after three weeks of playing defense, is now second, heading to a track where he’s averaged a 15.8-place finish (only three top 5s) is 27 Cup starts.
That doesn’t bode well for JGR’s title chances, especially with teammate Kyle Busch still steaming over a Kansas wreck. Sunday, he spent post-race driving a bus over his crew chief, his spotter and anyone with an M&M’s shirt after missing his pits during an early green-flag stop (keep in mind, Busch recovered to run fifth).
Considering the dissention, combined with Kenseth’s handling crises (Loose? At Talladega?), Johnson becomes a stronger favorite to cakewalk towards a sixth title. Any challenge might come from two unexpected sources in the forms of Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon. Both are playing with house money; Gordon, in particular, has a strong record over these last four races, including a win in last year’s Homestead season finale. Who would have expected the “lame duck” driver and the 13th Chaser to be the biggest obstacles to the No. 48?
Maybe Kasey Kahne was skittish after three races/three crashes in plate events this season. The Chaser lost the draft not once, but twice, despite a powerful Hendrick Motorsports engine and ended the day 36th, two laps off the pace. That left his average finish for Daytona and Talladega this year a mind-boggling 36.5. … Danica Patrick had a promising run going inside the top 10 until missing her pit stall during the last round of green-flag stops. With boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a career-best third, Patrick’s chances to win this year’s rookie title have been taken off life support. … Pole-sitter Aric Almirola, a popular darkhorse, was never a real factor. Leading eight laps, he slid to the back of the lead draft and was 22nd at the finish.
Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
Boise State had a costly 34-17 win over Nevada on Saturday, as quarterback Joe Southwick suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter and is out indefinitely.
In his absence, backup Grant Hedrick filled in admirably, completing 18 of 21 passes for 150 yards, while rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Hedrick has thrown 57 passes in his Boise State career, but Saturday’s game against Nevada was his first extended action.
Southwick could return later this season, but his comeback could largely depend on what bowl Boise State plays in.
Hedrick’s task will get tougher this week, as Boise State plays at BYU on Friday night.
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Oct. 21.
• It might be getting cold outside, but summer's coming in the Southern Hemisphere. In fact, the South African swimsuit issue hits this week, featuring cover girl Genevieve Morton (pictured).
• The refs played a big role in two of yesterday's most compelling NFL games. The Jets beat the Pats on the strength of an unsportsmanlike penalty. And Andrew Luck drew a critical flag with a soccer-worthy flop.
• Vontae Davis and the Colts defense managed to slow down Peyton Manning, even though Davis spent the week preparing for Tom Brady.
• The Ohio State band did a pretty amazing tribute to Michael Jackson, moonwalk included. Too bad it's not 1988.
• Kickers are people, too: Colts kicker Pat McAfee destroyed Broncos kick returner Trindon Holliday. In Holliday's defense, McAfee's a lot bigger, and it sure looked like helmet-to-helmet.
• Jim Leyland is retiring. Let's hope he's celebrating in this manner.
• This guy screams chick magnet: Jorts, boots and two obnoxious calf tattoos, one of them dedicated to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
• A little gross, a little sad, but still funny: The Falcons brought in the hazmat team to scrub the locker room after the Bucs took their MRSA and went home.
• Week 8 in the SEC was bananas. Here's what happened.
• The slow wheels of justice: Sean Taylor died almost six years ago. The trial of one of his alleged killers starts today.
• In honor of Jim Leyland's retirement, here he is cussing out a young Barry Bonds in his Pirate days. (Obvious language warning.)
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Two of last season's NFC playoff participants that have gotten off to disappointing seasons conclude the NFL's Week 7 action when the Minnesota Vikings face the New York Giants tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. How quickly things can change in the NFL. Playoff teams just a year ago, the Vikings and Giants have begun 2013 with a combined 1-10 and find themselves solidly in the basement of their respective divisions. Poor quarterback play, ridiculous amounts of turnovers and several injuries have ravaged what were supposed to be promising seasons.
3 Things to Watch
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The names of these two defenses have terrified quarterbacks in seasons past. That not has quite been the case to start the 2013 campaign. For the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul has one sack on the season, Justin Tuck has half a sack, while Vikings All-Pro Jared Allen only has three sacks. Allen's numbers aren't poor, but aren't the type of top-flight numbers we're used to seeing from him. It's also clear that Tuck and Pierre-Paul aren't the same type of players they've been in the past. Pierre-Paul got a pass on a poor 2012 due to a nagging back injury and was expected to be back to his old ways this year. Not so far. The rest of the Giants' defensive line including Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins have all played poorly this season. Part of the problem is a suspect secondary, but the defensive front still is struggling to produce pressure. It will be interesting to see how much pressure each defense tries to bring against a pair of quarterbacks that have struggled in the face of oncoming defenders this season.
Which RB will have the bigger impact?
Brandon Jacobs gave the Giants a huge boost last week. However, he reportedly suffered a setback Saturday with his hamstring injury. New York signed Peyton Hillis, who is expected to see a bulk of action tonight. It will be interesting to see whether the potentially short-handed Giants look to run against Minnesota and a rush defense that is No. 18 in the NFL and allowing 110 yards per game, or focus its efforts on attacking a pass defense that has fared worse. The Vikings are 29th in the league in that department, allowing 308 yards passing per game. The running back position is never one of weakness for the Minnesota, as it has reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson. Peterson ranks second in the NFL with more than 95 yards rushing per game and five touchdowns. He isn't having the type of season he had in 2012, as he trailed leading rusher LeSean McCoy by 147 yards entering Week 7, and has fumbled three times. Don't expect things to be easy for Peterson as the Giants' rushing defense has performed admirably over the last three games. In consecutive weeks, the Giants have held Jamaal Charles to 65 yards rushing, McCoy to 46 yards and Matt Forte to 67 yards on the ground.
Things have been bad at football's most important position for these teams. The Vikings have had a revolving door at the position, seeing Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and now Josh Freeman take the reins of the offense. Ponder struggled, throwing two touchdowns to five interceptions, while Cassel didn't impress in last week's two-interception, blowout 35-10 loss to the Panthers. Enter Freeman, who will try to resurrect his career after a falling out in Tampa Bay following his 45 percent completion rate and just a 59.3 quarterback rating in three games. Freeman needs to protect the ball as the Vikings are fourth in the NFL with 12 giveaways. The Giants have their starting quarterback solidly in place; however, the two-time Super Bowl MVP has struggled mightily. Eli Manning has thrown 16 interceptions, with four games of three or more picks. He is the main reason why the Giants lead the NFL with 23 turnovers and are an NFL-worst -16 in turnover differential. He looks to turn his season around, facing one of the league's worst defense as the Vikings rank second to last in total yards allowed. Whichever quarterback can play the cleanest, most mistake-free game will likely see his team come out on top.
Key Player for Minnesota: Kyle Rudolph, TE
Every young quarterback loves a big target and a safety valve. Freeman will look for the 6-6 touchdown machine early and often. Giants linebackers struggle in coverage and Rudolph will create huge matchup problems.
Key Player for New York: Victor Cruz, WR
The Vikings secondary has been bruised and battered throughout the season. Wide receivers like Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall and Antonio Brown have all torched Minnesota. In fact, the Vikings have allowed a 100-yard receiver in every game this season.
This will be an ugly game, but I like the Giants here. They simply have two much firepower on the outside for Minnesota to handle. The Vikings will win this game if they can keep the ball in Peterson's hands, wear down the New York defense and keep new starting quarterback Josh Freeman from facing 3rd-and-long situations. I like the Giants to put up a bunch of points on a Vikings defense that hasn't held a team under 30 this season. The Giants will get a couple of big turnovers and get their first win of the season.
New York 37, Minnesota 29
After all the massive hoopla surrounding the return of Peyton Manning to Indianapolis for last night's game (and the fact that he JUST played against Peyton Manning), you'd think Colts cornerback Vontae Davis would know that it wasn't Tom Brady he just played. You'd be wrong.
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
369: Jeremy Gallon Big Ten single-game receiving record
The Michigan Wolverines topped the Indiana Hoosiers 63-47 in Ann Arbor this weekend in remarkable fashion. Jeremy Gallon caught 14 passes for a school and Big Ten record 369 yards and two touchdowns. The 369 receiving yards is No. 2 all time in NCAA history behind only Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards 405 yards in 1998. Quarterback Devin Gardner set a Michigan record with 504 yards passing and 584 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns. Gardner was two yards shy of tying the Big Ten's all-time single-game total offense record set by Illinois' David Wilson (586) in 1980. Michigan set a school record with 751 yards of offense.
36: Combined straight losses to ranked teams by Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Tennessee had lost 19 consecutive games to ranked opponents dating back to 2009 when it defeated No. 21 South Carolina 31-13 at home on Halloween. Vanderbilt had lost 17 consecutive games to ranked foes dating back to 2008 when the Commodores beat No. 13 Auburn 14-13 at home. Both dreadful streaks came to an end this weekend. The Vols topped No. 11 South Carolina and the Dores upset No. 15 Georgia. Both games were thrillers as both UT and Vandy needed final minute drives to defeat a ranked team. The losses by the Dawgs and Cocks within the division have tossed the SEC East into complete chaos.
349: Yard differential between Mizzou and Florida
The Gators had not allowed more than 327 yards in any game in 2012. It hadn't allowed 400 yards of offense in a game since Furman posted 446 yards in 2011 and hadn't allowed 500 yards since the 2008 Capital One Bowl against Michigan (524). But Maty Mauk, in his first career start for Missouri, led his offense to 500 yards of total offense, the worst allowed under Will Muschamp during his time in Gainesville. On the flip side, the Gators totaled just 151 yards of offense against the nasty Tigers defense. This means that Mizzou outgained the Gators by 349 yards, more than the Gators had allowed in any game this season.
89: Connor Halliday NCAA record for pass attempts
Purdue's Drew Brees threw the ball an NCAA record 83 times against Wisconsin in 1998. Against an Oregon team with a big lead for most of the night, Washington State's Connor Halliday threw the ball an NCAA record 89 times. Halliday also tied the NCAA mark for completions with 58 (Andy Schmitt, Eastern Michigan) and set the Pac-12 single-game passing benchmark with 557 yards (Andrew Walter, 536). And much like Brees that night back in '98, Wazzu lost in part because of multiple interceptions. Halliday threw four interceptions to go with his four touchdowns in the 62-38 loss to the Ducks.
316: NCAA single-game rushing record for a quarterback
The best single-game rushing performance by a quarterback in NCAA history belonged to Northern Illinois' Stacey Robinson set in 1990. So it's appropriate that another Huskies quarterback set a new rushing record when Jordan Lynch totaled 316 yards on the ground in NIU's win over Central Michigan. Lynch is fourth in the nation in rushing with 932 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games after finishing fourth nationally in rushing a year ago with 1,815 yards.
Nov. 21, 2009: The last time LSU lost to an unranked opponent
The Ole Miss Rebels finally won a home game against a marquee opponent when it took down LSU 27-24 in dramatic fashion with a game-winning field goal. Les Miles and the Tigers had won 23 straight games over unranked opponents, last losing on Nov. 21, 2009 to, you guessed it, the Ole Miss Rebels. The 25-23 loss in Oxford was highlighted by Miles' bizarre end-game gaffes. It may not have impacted the outcome of this battle, but Miles once again handled the final 30 seconds in strange fashion, electing to wait until three seconds left to call a timeout instead of saving the final half minute.
Minus-5: Rushing yards by Washington
The Huskies were one of the bigger stories in college football during the first month. But after getting trounced by Arizona State 53-24 on the road this weekend, the Huskies are embroiled in a very disappointing three-game Pac-12 losing streak. A big reason for the UW's struggles this weekend was its lack of rushing offense. Bishop Sankey came into the weekend leading the nation in rushing at 149.8 yards per game and was held to just 22 yards on 13 carries. On the day, Washington rushed for minus-5 yards on 25 carries, including seven sacks by the Sun Devils.
13-plays, 75-yards, 3:46 of time: Auburn's game-winning drive
Auburn got the ball back with 5:05 left on the clock and trailing Johnny Manziel and No. 7 Texas A&M by three points. Nick Marshall, who was brilliant all game long, led a 13-play, 75-yards drive that covered 3:46 worth of time. Guz Malzahn and Marshall stuck with the Tigers' bread and butter, running the ball on 10 of the 13 plays en route the game-winning touchdown. After going 0-8 in the SEC a year ago, Auburn is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.
16: Consecutive Big Ten losses for Illinois
The 2011 Fighting Illini, then coached by Ron Zook, began the season 6-0. Illinois hasn't won a Big Ten game since in 16 tries, however. The Orange Crush lost the final six games of conference play that year and fired Zook after the season. Tim Beckman stepped in and promptly went 0-8 in the Big Ten in his first year, going 2-10 overall. And while this team has shown some improvement, already topping its overall win total from a year ago (3-3), an unimpressive 56-32 loss to Wisconsin at home gives Illinois an 0-2 start in the league and its 16 consecutive Big Ten loss.
When the Ole Miss Rebels beat No. 6 LSU in a stunning upset this weekend, players were anxiously awaiting the joy of giving coach Hugh Freeze a ceremonial Gatorade bath. Unfortunately, they couldn't find him and wandered the field with a giant bucket and nobody to douse. It was equal parts sadness and hilarity. Mostly hilarity.
It was not a good week to be a frontrunner in the SEC. Five teams — all of whom were favored to win in Week 8 — were ranked in the top 15 and lost. That includes wins by Tennessee and Vanderbilt over ranked opponents for the first time in 20 and 17 games, respectively.
Meanwhile, Alabama looks like it is getting better each week, and Mizzou proved it could handle the loss of a star quarterback. With all of the talk surrounding the SEC about elite offenses, it's worth noting that the two unbeatens and division leaders are two teams who boast the best defenses in the conference.
Alabama (7-0, 4-0): While the rest of the top SEC teams dropped like flies in Week 8, Alabama cruised to an 11th straight win. AJ McCarron was efficient (15-of-21, 180 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) and didn't play past the halfway point of the third quarter. The running game was unstoppable: T.J. Yeldon (88 yards, one touchdown), Kenyan Drake (104 yards, two touchdowns) and Derrick Henry (111 yards, touchdown) led a rushing attack that averaged nealy 10 yards per carry on 37 attempts (352 yards). Defensively, the Tide suffocated the Hogs to the tune of zero points, 256 yards and three turnovers. Next Week: Tennessee
|2.||(4)||Missouri (7-0, 3-0): Maty Mauk got his first career start in place of the injured James Franklin, and he was nothing short of brilliant. He threw for nearly 300 yards and acounted for two touchdowns. Mizzou's front line was dominant all afternoon, pressuring Florida's Tyler Murphy and holding the Gators to 59 yards on 31 attempts (1.9 yards per carry). Henry Josey was brilliant in his own right, rushing for 136 yards and a third-quarter touchdown in the win. The Tigers outgained the Gators 500-151. Gary Pinkel has now defeated Georgia and Florida in back-to-back weeks with South Carolina and Tennesse coming to town in the next two games. The Tigers are in clear control of the SEC East. Next Week: South Carolina|
LSU (6-2, 3-2): LSU was outgained 525 yards to 388 and quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw three interceptions as the Tigers were toppled by Ole Miss on the road this weekend. The Bayou Bengals averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 35 attempts as the Rebels were able to get just enough stops on defense to pull the upset. Mettenberger led the Tigers down the field to tie the game with minutes left on the clock, but the defense wasn't able to keep Ole Miss from driving into field goal range and drilling the game-winner as time expired. Next Week: Furman
|4.||(8)||Auburn (6-1, 3-1): Nick Marshall did his best Johnny Manziel impersonation by throwing for 236 yards and two scores as well as rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the thrilling road win over Texas A&M. No team in the nation has turned its fortunes around quicker than the Tigers. After going winless in the SEC a year ago, Gus Malzahn has Auburn pointed toward competing for an SEC West championship in just one season. His team rolled up 615 yards of offense in College Station and was able to drive the ball 75 yards in the final minutes to take a four point lead with just over a minute to play. A defensive redzone stand against Manziel capped the back-and-forth affair in "instant classic" fashion. Malzahn needs to be mentioned in the National Coach of the Year discussion. Next Week: Florida Atlantic|
|5.||(4)||South Carolina (5-2, 3-2): After the most complete performance of the year against Arkansas, Steve Spurrier watched his offense stub its toe all afternoon long in Neyland Stadium. Gritty quarterback Connor Shaw, who threw his first interception of the season, left the game with a left knee sprain. However, the worst is expected as he left the stadium on crutches and in an aircast. And Carolina's SEC East title hopes might have left with him. The Cocks have two losses and will travel to face unbeaten Mizzou in Week 9 in a battle of backup quarterbacks in Columbia. Next Week: at Missouri|
|6.||(3)||Texas A&M (5-2, 3-2): Despite more than 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns from Manziel, the Aggies defense couldn't get a stop. The defense allowed 379 yards rushing and 6.3 yards per carry to Auburn, including a 13-play, 75-yard run-heavy drive to win the game. Manziel, who hurt his throwing shoulder in the second half, led the Aggies down the field and was poised to perform yet another miracle but was sacked on back-to-back plays to end the game. The Aggies get three straight games at home before heading on the road against LSU and Missouri to finish the season. Next Week: Vanderbilt|
|7.||(6)||Florida (4-3, 3-2): For the second straight week, the Gators offense struggled to score points or move the ball consistently in a road conference loss. In fact, Kelvin Taylor's first career touchdown run in the third quarter was the first offensive touchdown for Florida since the 4:47 mark of the Arkansas game three weeks ago. Will Muschamp's team gained just 151 yards of offense, turned the ball over three times, had just 11 first downs and was penalized eight times. If Tyler Murphy cannot improve his decision-making, the Gators could be in for a rough second half of the season. Next Week: Bye|
|8.||(7)||Georgia (4-3, 3-2): Aaron Murray's lack of supporting cast dictated another outcome for a snake-bit Georgia team. A second critical late-game Brenden Douglas fumble packaged with a fumbled snap on a punt led to 17 unanswered points for Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter. Georgia has now lost two in a row in the division and will get a much-needed off weekend to rest and get healthy before it faces Florida in the Cocktail Party in two weeks. Next: Bye|
|9.||(9)||Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3): The Rebels limped to the finish of the toughest portion of their schedule with a 1-3 mark, but with a win nonetheless. Ole Miss took advantage of bad throws by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger by intercepting the Tigers three times. The Rebs missed a golden opportunity to put the game away and had to watch LSU march the length of the field to tie the game with just minutes left on the clock. Bo Wallace was up to the challenge, however, as he worked Mississippi into position to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired. Next Week: Idaho|
|10.||(10)||Tennessee (4-3, 1-2): The Volunteers had lost 19 consecutive games against ranked opponents since it defeated South Carolina in 2009. That streak ended when Tennessee kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired in front of a jubilant Neyland Stadium. The defense was solid, allowing just 325 yards of total offense and forcing two critical turnovers, but Marquez North was the star of the day. His aerial acrobatics were on full display all afternoon but he saved his best for the game's final drive. His electric one-handed catch down the left sideline put UT into field goal range. This still isn't a great team but it certainly competes at a high level week in and week out. Next Week: at Alabama|
|11.||(11)||Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3): The Commodores hadn't beat a ranked opponent in six seasons and hadn't topped Georgia at home since 1991. Both of those streaks were snapped when the Dores capitalized on more Bulldogs special teams errors by outscoring Georgia 17-0 in the final quarter. Like the rest of the SEC East, Vandy suffered a key injury when it lost starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels in the second quarter. The resilient Vandy offense rallied around replacement Patton Robinette, and the Dores eventually persevered for their first win over a ranked opponent in 16 tries. Next Week: at Texas A&M|
Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2): Dan Mullen's bunch watched the mayhem in the SEC from the couch this weekend as the Bulldogs were on bye. The maligned coaching staff begins a critical second half with a must-win home game against the Wildcats. Next Week: Kentucky
|13.||(12)||Arkansas (3-5, 0-4): Bret Bielema's Hogs lost for the fifth week in a row. More important, the Razorbacks weren't even competitive for the second straight week. After South Carolina topped Arkansas 52-7 a week ago, Bielema's team fell to the two-time defending champions in similarly ugly fashion. The lack of depth on the roster and experience on the coaching staff has led to an 0-4 SEC start to Bielema's tenure. Next Week: Bye|
|14.||(14)||Kentucky (3-4, 0-4): The Wildcats were off in Week 8, allowing some key injuries to heal up for first-year head coach Mark Stoops. Kentucky will play six straight weekends and will have plenty of chances for upsets against beatable teams. Next Week: at Mississippi State|
SEC Week 8 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Tre Mason, Auburn
Mason was one of the bright spots for Auburn during a dismal 2012 season, rushing for 1,002 yards and eight touchdowns on a healthy 5.9-yard average. Mason is once again having a fine season, but his play is being overshadowed by his team’s first-year coach (Gus Malzahn) and starting quarterback (Nick Marshall). On Saturday, Mason rushed for a career-high 178 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries to lead Auburn to a thrilling 45-41 win at Texas A&M. Mason’s lone touchdown, on a 5-yard run, put Auburn on top for good with 1:48 remaining.
Defensive Player of the Week: Michael Sam, Missouri
Missouri beat Florida 36-17 in Maty Mauk’s first start at quarterback, but the story of the day was the Tigers’ surprisingly dominant defense. Defensive end Michael Sam recorded three sacks — to increase his SEC-leading total to 9.0 — to spearhead a Mizzou defense that limited Florida to 151 yards of offense. Sam also leads the SEC with 13.0 tackles for a loss.
Team of the Week: Tennessee
After flirting with a breakthrough win two weeks against Georgia, Tennessee rallied to beat South Carolina in Knoxville, giving first-year coach Butch Jones his first signature win. The Vols’ offense struggled for much of the day — UT only averaged 4.2 yards per play — but they made a big play at the right time (see MarQuez North below) to win the game. Tennessee’s defense held South Carolina to 384 yards and three touchdowns, one week after the Gamecocks had 537 yards in a 52-7 win at Arkansas.
Coordinator of the Week: Bob Shoop, Vanderbilt
Yes, Georgia was short-handed due to injury, but Vanderbilt deserves credit for holding the Bulldogs to 221 yards of offense — their fewest since gaining 200 in a loss to Virginia Tech in the 2006 Chik-fil-A Bowl — and two offensive touchdowns in a 31-27 win in Nashville. The Commodores had allowed an average of 530.3 yards in their previous three SEC games. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who averaged 287.7 yards in his first three games against Vanderbilt, was held to 114 yards — the second-fewest of his career — on 28 attempts.
Freshman of the Week: Marquez North, Tennessee
Sometimes a game comes down to one player making a great play. And that’s what North did in Tennessee’s 23-21 win over South Carolina. With the Vols trailing 21-20 and facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 35-yard line with under three minutes to go, North made a spectacular 48-yard catch (with one hand) down the sideline that set Tennessee up for the game-winning field goal. North, a true freshman, caught three passes for 102 yards — the first 100-yard game of his career.
• Alabama has allowed one touchdown or less in five of seven games this season and in 40 of 61 games dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season.
• Last year, Auburn had a total of 1,881 yards in eight SEC games (235.5 ypg). This season, under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers have 1,886 yards in four SEC games (471.5 ypg).
• LSU’s Zach Mettenberger threw three interceptions in the first half against Ole Miss; he had thrown a total of two in his first seven games.
• Florida averaged 2.5 yards per snap in its 36–17 loss at Missouri. The Gators have had seven games with under 4.0 yards per snap in Will Muschamp’s two-plus seasons as the head coach. They had three such games in 2010, Urban Meyer’s final season, and none from 2007-09.
• Bo Wallace threw for 346 yards in Ole Miss’ 27-24 win over LSU, and, more important, did not throw an interception in 39 attempts. Last year, Wallace threw for 310 yards but was intercepted three times in the Rebels’ 41-35 loss in Baton Rouge.
The favorites held serve in the Pac-12 for Week 8.
Washington State gave Oregon a battle for a half, but the Ducks simply had too much firepower on offense for the Cougars. Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday set a FBS record for pass attempts, but the Cougars were unable to run the ball and committed five turnovers.
Stanford got back into the win column with a solid 24-10 win over UCLA. The Cardinal showed no ill-effects from last week’s upset loss at the hands of Utah, as quarterback Kevin Hogan and a strong defensive effort erased any hopes the Bruins had of winning.
Arizona State got a huge win against Washington, while Oregon State handled California to improve to 6-1.
USC lost at Notre Dame, but Arizona knocked off Utah and Colorado beat Charleston Southern 43-10.
Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
|1||1||Oregon (7-0, 4-0): Quarterback Marcus Mariota is a little human after all. The sophomore committed his first turnovers of the season in Saturday’s 62-38 win over Washington State, but Mariota still finished with 327 passing yards and two touchdowns, along with 67 yards and one score on the ground. Oregon’s defense gave up 559 yards but a good chunk of that total came with the outcome no longer in doubt. The Ducks played without running back De’Anthony Thomas for the third consecutive game. However, the junior is expected to return for the Week 9 matchup against UCLA. Next Week: UCLA|
|2||3||Stanford (6-1, 4-1): After an upset loss at Utah, the Cardinal bounced back into the win column with a 24-10 victory over UCLA. Stanford’s defense held the Bruins to just 10 points and 266 yards, well below the Bruins’ season averages of 45.8 points and 547 yards per game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan and running back Tyler Gaffney led the Cardinal’s offensive effort, but the highlight of the day was provided by receiver Kodi Whitfield on a 30-yard touchdown catch. Stanford travels to Corvallis to take on Oregon State this Saturday, followed by a Pac-12 North showdown against Oregon on Nov. 7. Next Week: at Oregon State|
|3||5||Arizona State (5-2, 3-1): The 53-24 win over Washington was the best victory Arizona State has recorded under second-year coach Todd Graham. The Sun Devils dominated the Huskies – a team that nearly beat Stanford in early October – by averaging 6.3 yards per play on offense, and limiting Washington’s offense to just 212 yards. Arizona State’s defense has struggled to stop the run this year but held Bishop Sankey to just 22 yards on 13 carries. The Sun Devils’ offense gashed the Huskies for 585 yards, with running back Marion Grice rushing for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Arizona State heads into the bye with momentum, but a Nov. 23 showdown against UCLA looms large for the Pac-12 South title. Next Week: Bye Week|
|4||2||UCLA (5-1, 2-1): The Bruins lost to Stanford for the third time in less than a year. UCLA’s offense was held in check by the Cardinal defense, managing just four yards a play and converting only 5 of 15 third-down attempts. Quarterback Brett Hundley was harassed all night by Stanford’s defense and finished with 192 passing yards on 24 completions. UCLA’s offensive line has been hit hard by injuries, and this group suffered another setback with Simon Goines and Conor McDermott unable to finish against Stanford. The Bruins have to quickly regroup, as a trip to Eugene awaits this team on Saturday night. Next Week: at Oregon|
|5||6||Oregon State (6-1, 4-0): If it wasn’t for the loss against Eastern Washington in the season opener, there’s a good chance the Beavers would be ranked among the top 10-15 teams in the nation. Oregon State won its sixth game in a row with a 49-17 victory at California on Saturday night. Quarterback Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks connected 13 times for 232 yards and one score against the Golden Bears, and both have been among the top-10 players in the Pac-12 this season. The schedule will get tougher for Oregon State, but this team has rebounded nicely after the opening week loss to Eastern Washington. Next Week: Stanford|
|6||5||Washington (4-3, 1-3): The Huskies have played one of the toughest three-game stretches in the nation, and the cumulative effect of matchups against Oregon and Stanford might have caught up to Washington in Saturday’s loss at Arizona State. The Huskies were outgained 585 to 212 by the Sun Devils, with running back Bishop Sankey managing only 22 yards and one score on 13 attempts. Quarterback Keith Price was sacked seven times and left the game early with a thumb injury. Back-to-back games against California and Colorado should allow Washington to get back into the win column, but the November schedule features games against UCLA, Oregon State and a matchup against rival Washington State. Next Week: California|
|7||8||USC (4-3, 1-2): The Trojans move up a spot in the power rankings, but it’s by default, as they deserve to be ranked a spot ahead of Arizona after beating the Wildcats on Oct. 10. USC had plenty of chances to knock off Notre Dame on Saturday night, but the Fighting Irish found a way to hold on to a 14-10 victory. The Trojans did not convert a third down after the opening drive, and kicker Andre Heidari missed two field goals. As if the loss wasn’t enough, the Trojans’ injury report continues to grow, as receiver Marqise Lee was injured once again and tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble won’t play next Saturday. Next Week: Utah|
|8||9||Arizona (4-2, 1-2): The Wildcats snapped a two-game losing streak with a 35-24 win over Utah. Running back Ka’Deem Carey led the way for Arizona’s offense, recording 236 yards and one touchdown on 40 attempts. Quarterback B.J. Denker was efficient, completing 18 of 30 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown. The Wildcats’ defense also held Utah to 157 passing yards and forced two turnovers. With Colorado and California up next, Arizona has a chance to build momentum before playing UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State in November. Next Week: at Colorado|
|9||7||Utah (4-3, 1-3): A week after an upset win over Stanford, the Utes fell short on the road in a 35-24 loss to Arizona. Not only was the defeat costly to the Utes’ bowl hopes, quarterback Travis Wilson suffered a hand injury and his status for Week 9 is uncertain. Utah’s defense entered Week 8 ranked third in the Pac-12 against the run, but the Wildcats ran for 300 yards on 58 attempts. The Utes play three of their next four games on the road, including matchups against USC and Washington State that will likely decide whether this team gets to six wins or finishes at 5-7. Next Week: at USC|
|10||10||Washington State (4-4, 2-3): It was a record-setting night for the Cougars in Eugene. But breaking records isn’t always a good thing. Washington State managed to hang with Oregon for a half, but the Ducks pulled away in the final two quarters for a 62-38 win. Quarterback Connor Halliday set a FBS record with 89 pass attempts, but the junior tossed four picks, including one that was returned for a touchdown. The Cougars have lost three out of their last four games and were outscored in back-to-back matchups against teams from Oregon by a combined score of 114-62. Next Week: Bye Week|
|11||11||Colorado (3-3, 0-3): The Buffaloes cruised to an easy 43-10 win over Charleston Southern, in a game that was scheduled due to the canceled Fresno State contest from Sept. 14. Freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau was solid in his first start, completing 14 of 20 passes for 198 yards and one score. Liufau wasn’t the only freshman making an impact, as running back Michael Adkins rushed for 137 yards and four scores on 13 attempts. The Buffaloes need three wins to get bowl eligible, but the schedule isn’t easy the rest of the way. Next Week: Arizona|
|12||12||California (1-6, 0-4): The Golden Bears dropped their fifth straight game on Saturday, suffering a 49-17 loss to Oregon State. California’s offense hasn’t struggled to move the ball this season, but turnovers and the rushing attack has been a huge issue. Against the Beavers, the Golden Bears committed four turnovers and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. The defense remains a work in progress with injuries and transition, and California has allowed every opponent to score at least 30 points this year. With Washington, Arizona, USC, and Stanford remaining, the Golden Bears’ best shot at a victory could be the Nov. 16 date at Colorado. Next Week: at Washington|
Pac-12 Week 8 Recap and Awards
- by Braden Gall
Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
In a time of need, Stanford coach David Shaw turned to his power rushing attack to get his team back on track against No. 9 UCLA. And the senior tailback rewarded his coach in a big way by rushing 36 times for 171 yards and two critical second-half touchdowns. Stanford is still in control of its own destiny, and Kevin Hogan got excellent production from his entire supporting cast on offense against the Bruins.
Defensive Player of the Week: Jordan Richards, Stanford
The Cardinal defense was physical and disruptive all afternoon against Brett Hundley and the Bruins. The junior defensive back intercepted the all-everything quarterback twice to help lead Stanford to a big win. Richards added 10 tackles and another pass break up to his stat sheet as well.
Team of the Week: Stanford
The Cardinal bounced back in a big way after falling to Utah last weekend by getting back to basics against previously unbeaten UCLA. The defense was suffocating and the offense ran the football with aggressiveness and physicality. It was a typical Cardinal performance and the in re-establishes Oregon and Stanford are still the top two teams out West.
Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford
UCLA's Heisman-contending quarterback Brett Hundley came into the game 11th in the nation in passing efficiency (165.0) and eighth nationally in total offense (345.8 yards per game). The Bruins were fifth nationally in total offense (547.0 yards per game) and seventh in scoring offense (45.8). Mason's physical defense held UCLA to just 10 points and 266 yards of offense, and, in particular, made life miserable for Hundley. The Bruins quarterback threw two interceptions, was sacked four times and mustered just 219 yards of offense.
Freshman of the Week: Michael Adkins II, Colorado
The Buffaloes haven't had many chances at wins, but Mike MacIntyre's bunch took advantage by topping an unbeaten Charleston Southern with relative ease. Adkins has seen his work load increase over the last few weeks and he had his best performance against the Buccaneers. He rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns in Colorado's third win of the season.
The BCS standings began Sunday with Baylor and Texas Tech representing the Big 12 in the top 10.
There have been many surprises this season, but that has to be pretty high on the list of shocking developments. Even though both teams have the toughest portion of their schedules ahead of them, there are enough reasons to believe the Bears and Red Raiders may end up playing for the Fiesta Bowl — or more.
Baylor and Texas Tech are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Big 12 in offense, as you’d expect, but the they also No. 1 and No. 2 in fewest yards allowed per play.
Strange times indeed.
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
|1||1||Baylor (6-0, 3-0): The Bears returned to Waco and returned to their 70-point ways, defeating Iowa State 71-7. Baylor remains on pace to set records for points per game (64.7) and yards per play (9.0) among others, but the defense against deserves note this week for having its best game of the season in holding Iowa State to 174 yards and 2.9 yards per play. Baylor gets one more tuneup against a lower-tier Big 12 team before its gauntlet in November. This week: at Kansas|
|2||3||Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0): More and more, it’s getting easier to be a believer in Texas Tech. The Red Raiders fell behind by 11 points in the second half on the road before scoring three unanswered touchdowns for an easy win. Freshman Davis Webb is 71 of 106 (67 percent) for 877 yards with five touchdowns and one interception since becoming the starter. Beat the Sooners in Norman, and the Texas Tech bandwagon will be at full capacity. This week: at Oklahoma|
|3||2||Texas (4-2, 3-0): This may be a surprise: Texas is third in the Big 12 in total offense and fourth in yards per play. The Longhorns are at their best when Johnathan Gray is controlling the ground game, but they’ll face the top run defense in the league this week. This week: at TCU|
|4||4||Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1): The Sooners defeated Kansas comfortably, but it’s hard to get too excited about Oklahoma’s long-term prospects. The defense continued to look vulnerable without tackle Jordan Phillips and linebacker Corey Nelson. Kansas had success in the run game, rushing for 185 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries. Blake Bell continued to struggle to stretch the field against the Jayhawks. He’s averaging five yards per pass attempt in Big 12, ranking 10th among league quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts. Against KU, receiver Lacoltan Bester had the longest pass play of the day with a 49-yard pass on a trick play. This week: Texas Tech|
|5||5||Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1): After two weeks of sticking with struggling quarterback J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had seen enough after two interceptions, one in the end zone. Gundy yanked Walsh and replaced him with Clint Chelf, who immediately threw an interception of his own. Gundy stuck with Chelf after the turnover, and Chelf finished 10 of 25 for 178 yards. Oklahoma State may also have had a changing of the guard at tailback where freshman Rennie Childs rushed for 45 yards and a score on nine carries. Childs had six total carries prior to Saturday. This week: at Iowa State|
|6||6||Kansas State (2-4, 0-3): The Wildcats may be a better team that the record indicates, but Kansas State still needs to pick up some wins to reach a bowl game. The good news is that four of the final six are at home, and one of the road trips is at Kansas. This week: West Virginia|
|7||7||West Virginia (3-4, 1-3): The Mountaineers’ offense had its best game of the season, but it still went dormant late as Texas Tech railed back for 21 consecutive points to finish the game. Clint Trickett was 27 of 43 for 254 yards with a touchdown and Dreamius Smith and Charles Sims combined for 166 rushing yards on 31 carries. Yet West Virginia gained only one first down on the final five possessions. Visiting Kansas State could be a critical swing game for West Virginia’s bowl hopes. This week: at Kansas State|
|8||8||TCU (3-4, 1-3): The Horned Frogs have been awful on offense, but never worse than in the first half. Oklahoma State became the third team to shut out TCU in the first half this season even though the Frogs intercepted OSU three times. TCU has five offensive touchdowns in the first half all season with two of those coming against Southeastern Louisiana. At one point, Gary Patterson was frustrated enough to pull starting quarterback Trevone Boykin. Freshman Tyler Matthews responded by fumbling his first snap. The target date for quarterback Casey Pachall’s return has been Nov. 2 against West Virginia. So that's good news. This week: Texas|
|9||9||Iowa State (1-5, 0-3): After a close call with Texas and a competitive game against Texas Tech, Iowa State didn’t have anything left for Baylor. Iowa State didn’t score its first touchdown until the final 47 seconds. Giving up a ton of points to Baylor isn’t a shock, but Iowa State also gave up two special teams touchdowns (a punt return and a kickoff return following Iowa State’s only touchdown of the game). Aaron Wimberly, who had become the bread and butter of Iowa State’s offense, rushed for 21 yards on only five carries. This week: Oklahoma State|
|10||10||Kansas (2-4, 0-3): Kansas played without two of its top players in linebacker Ben Heeney (knee) and wide receiver Tony Pierson (head). Still, Kansas got off to a 13-0 start before another punt mishap, this time a blocked kick, opened the doors for Oklahoma to win decisively. Quarterback Jake Heaps also had one of the worst quarterback stat lines of the season, going 5 of 13 for 16 yards with a touchdown and three sacks. This week: Baylor|
Big 12 Week 8 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
With a quarterback change in Stillwater, Josh Stewart remained the constant. The Cowboys struggled with passers again this season, but no matter who is taking snaps, the goal should be to get the ball to Stewart. The junior caught 10 passes for 141 yards, including a 27-yard pass from receiver Charlie Moore that set up a touchdown. Stewart flourished in his matchup with Jason Verrett and the standout TCU secondary, but he found the end zone on a 95-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Defensive Player of the Week: Charles Tapper, Oklahoma
With starters Jordan Phillips and Corey Nelson out, Oklahoma has struggled at times to stop the run. Thanks to defensive end Charles Tapper, OU clamped down on Kansas after falling behind 13-0. Tapper finished with six tackles, two sacks and three tackles for a loss in a 34-19 win. With 15 yards passing and three sacks, Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps accounted for minus-3 yards of total offense.
Freshman of the Week: Davis Webb, Texas Tech
At this point, the Big 12 freshman of the week should be renamed the Baker Mayfield/Davis Webb freshman of the week award. Red Raiders quarterbacks have owned this spot this season. Webb completed 35 of 50 passes for 462 yards with two touchdowns in a 37-27 road win over West Virginia. Webb had a potentially game-turning fumble at the 1-yard line in the second quarter, but he rebounded to lead three unanswered scoring drives in the final 17:26.
Team of the Week: Texas Tech
The meat of Texas Tech’s schedule begins next week with a road trip to Norman, but the Red Raiders continue to answer the call. West Virginia led by 11 at home, but Tech scored the final 21 points to preserve a 7-0 start. In his first season, coach Kliff Kingsbury has matched Tommy Tuberville’s best regular season and has brought Texas Tech into the top 10 for the first time since the magical 2008 season.
Coordinator of the Week: Phil Bennett, Baylor
The Baylor offense had its fourth 70-point day of the season, a milestone that is quickly becoming routine in Waco. What wasn’t routine was Baylor’s defense. The Bears had their best defensive game of the season, holding Iowa State to 174 total yards and 2.9 yards per play. Both were season-bests for the Baylor defense. Iowa State didn’t find the end zone until the final 47 seconds.
• Baylor’s 64-point win over Iowa State was the largest margin of victory for the Bears in a conference game, Big 12 or Southwest Conference.
• If Baylor defeats Kansas next week, it will have the longest win streak in school history at 11 games.
• Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty picked up his first red zone touchdown of the season with a four-yard score to Antwan Goodley in the first quarter.
• Texas Tech’s 7-0 start overall and 4-0 start in the Big 12 are both the best for the Red Raiders since 2008. Kliff Kingsbury is the first Big 12 coach to start his career 7-0.
• Texas Tech was ranked ninth in the coaches’ poll and 10th in the AP poll Sunday, the first time the Red Raiders have been in the top 10 since the 2008 season.
• TCU forced four turnovers and lost. The Horned Frogs are 35-2 in the last 37 when forcing at least three turnovers.
• Oklahoma allowed Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps to complete only 5 of 13 passes. The Sooners hadn’t allowed five or fewer passes since Chattanooga went 3 of 17 on Aug. 30, 2008. OU has allowed single-digit pass completions twice this season, giving up nine to Notre Dame.
It wasn't supposed to be a big weekend of action in the Big Ten. No team was favored by single digits and only Wisconsin was a road favorite. That, however, didn't stop the league from generating plenty of excitement.
Iowa put quite a scare into the Buckeyes on the road. Michigan and Indiana set all types of records. Wisconsin cruised in a traditionally difficult rivalry game. And Minnesota won a game in Evanston that changed the complexion of the Legends Division race.
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings:
|1.||(1)||Ohio State (7-0, 3-0): The Horseshoe was nervous deep into the second half, but Ohio State extended its nation's longest winning streak to 19 games with a 10-point win over Iowa. Braxton Miller played his best game of the season by completing 22-of-27 passes for 222 yards, rushing for 102 yards and leading four second-half scoring drives. Carlos Hyde was his usual physical self, rushing for 149 yards and two scores as well. The name of the game for OSU is survive and advance, and that is exactly what Urban Meyer's bunch had to do against an upstart Hawkeyes squad this weekend. Next Week: Penn State|
|2.||(2)||Nebraska (5-1, 2-0): The Huskers are quietly in command of the Big Ten Legends Division and needed an extra week off to get star quarterback Taylor Martinez healthy. He will be needed against a Gophers team on the road coming off an upset of Northwestern. Next Week: at Minnesota|
|3.||(3)||Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1): The Badgers jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Wisconsin's balanced offense rushed for 289 yards, spreaheaded by Big Ten leading rushing Melvin Gordon (142 yards, three touchdowns). Not to be outdone, quarterback Joel Stave threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over in the road win. The defense continues to play extremely well, forcing two turnovers and holding Illinois to just 72 yards rushing on 29 attemtps (2.5). With winnable games every stop the rest of the way, UW has an outside chance to sneak into BCS bowl contention. Next Week: Bye|
|4.||(4)||Michigan (6-1, 2-1): Devin Gardner threw for a school-record 503 yards and accounted for a school-record five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) in a shootout win over Indiana. The Wolverines needed every one of the school-record 751 total yards of offense to top a Hoosiers team that scored 47 points. Jeremy Gallon rewrote the Big Ten receiving record book by catching 14 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan is wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball, but Saturday was one of the greatest offensive performances in school history for the Maize and Blue. It was the 19th straight win at home and the 18th straight victory over Indiana. Next Week: Bye|
|5.||(6)||Michigan State (6-1, 3-0): The offense wasn't very impressive against Purdue, but the defense was up to its old tricks. Denicos Allen scored yet another Spartans defensive touchdown as quarterback Connor Cook struggled in a big way. Jeremy Langford was solid in the backfield but the offense clearly wasn't as effective as it has been in MSU's first two Big Ten games. The defense was perfect though, holding the Boilermakers to just 226 yards of total offense and 1.9 yards per carry in the shutout. Next Week: at Illinois|
|6.||(7)||Penn State (4-2, 1-1): The off week came at a perfect time for Penn State. Following an emotional win at home over Michigan in four overtimes, Bill O'Brien's staff will get two weeks to recover and prepare for a trip to Columbus to face the league's best team. Next Week: at Ohio State|
Minnesota (5-2, 1-2): It wasn't from the sideline but Gophers head coach Jerry Kill was able to enjoy his team's victory over Northwestern from a private suite. Minnesota had fewer first downs, fewer yards, fewer offensive points and less efficient on third down, but it decisively won the turnover battle 3-0, including a critical 24-yard interception return by James Manuel. The defense held on for dear life. Next Week: Nebraska
|8.||(5)||Northwestern (4-3, 0-3): Three critical turnovers by quarterback Trevor Siemian and the wheels have fallen off the Wildcats' 2013 season. After physical losses to superior opponents, Pat Fitzgerald's team couldn't come from behind at home against a Minnesota team without its head coach. The Cats outgained Minnesota in nearly every category except turnovers. With a brutal schedule looming ahead for Northwestern — at Iowa, at Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, at Illinois — the home loss to the Gophers crippled any Big Ten title hopes. Next Week: at Iowa|
|9.||(9)||Indiana (3-4, 1-2): Not many teams lose when scoring 47 points and racking up 572 total yards of offense, but that is what happened to Indiana on Saturday. Kevin Wilson's offense wasn't the issue. The defense couldn't stop Michigan's Devin Gardner or wideout Jeremy Gallon. The Hoosiers allowed over 750 yards of offense and allowed the Wolverines to reach the end zone nine times in the loss. After back-to-back losses in the state of MIchigan, IU gets a much-needed off weekend. Next Week: Bye|
|10.||(10)||Iowa (4-3, 1-2): Moral victories are one of the most hated philosophies by football coaches, but that is all Iowa can claim after losing by 10 to Ohio State in Columbus. Jake Rudock played well, the ground game averaged nearly five yards per carry and the defense held its own for the better part of three quarters against the No. 4 Buckeyes. But the final frame belonged to the Buckeyes, and Kirk Ferentz watched the more powerful team pull away in the final moments. Next Week: Northwestern|
|11.||(11)||Illinois (3-3, 0-2): The Illini were never really in contention against Wisconsin. It spotted the Badgers a 21-0 first quarter lead and cut it to 11 twice before the power running game of UW put the game out of reach. The Illini allowed 478 yards of offense and let Wisconsin score eight touchdowns in yet another Big Ten loss. Illinois has lost 16 straight conference games. Next Week: Michigan State|
|12.||(12)||Purdue (1-6, 0-3): Darrell Hazell's defense held the Spartans to one offensive score and just 294 yards of offense. However, both lines of scrimmage were controlled by the Spartans. Quarterback Danny Etling was ineffective, and the Michigan State power rushing attack (182 yards) was just enough to give Purdue its sixth loss of the season. A much-needed off weekend is on the docket for Hazell and the Boilermakers. Next Week: Bye|
Big Ten Week 8 Awards and Superlatives:
Florida State is back. After the Seminoles’ 51-14 victory over Clemson, it’s clear the ACC Championship runs through Tallahassee.
The Seminoles dominated the Tigers on Saturday night and made a statement in the national title picture.
While all of the focus in the ACC was in Death Valley on Saturday night, there was other action in the conference.
Miami barely dodged North Carolina’s upset bid on Thursday night to remain unbeaten. The Hurricanes and Virginia Tech are on a collision course in early November to decide the Coastal Division.
Georgia Tech dominated Syracuse, Duke won at Virginia, and Wake Forest handled Maryland 34-10.
Pittsburgh scored a non-conference win over Old Dominion on Saturday night.
ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
|1||2||Florida State (6-0, 4-0): Total domination. That’s the easiest way to sum up the Seminoles’ 51-14 win over Clemson on Saturday night. Florida State’s defense set the tone by forcing a fumble on the Tigers’ first offensive play and swarmed quarterback Tajh Boyd all night, holding the senior to just 156 passing yards on 17 completions. Clemson’s defense provided little resistance to the Seminoles, as quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns, and the offense averaged a ridiculous 7.7 yards per play on 73 snaps. The 51-14 win not only puts Florida State in the driver’s seat for the ACC title but places the Seminoles squarely in the national title discussion. Next Week: NC State|
|2||1||Clemson (6-1, 4-1): The Tigers were simply defeated by a better team on Saturday night, as Florida State cruised to a 51-14 romp in Death Valley. Clemson’s high-powered offense never got on track, recording only 3.8 yards per play and committing four turnovers. The Tigers were gashed through the air on defense, with the Seminoles accumulating 444 passing yards on 22 completions. Although Clemson will have a hard time winning the division with Florida State in full control of the Atlantic, the Tigers still have plenty to play for. A BCS bowl is a strong possibility, and there’s a huge showdown against South Carolina for in-state bragging rights in late November. Next Week: at Maryland|
|3||3||Miami (6-0, 2-0): It was a sloppy effort, but the Hurricanes still found a way to win on Thursday night in Chapel Hill. Quarterback Stephen Morris had an off night, tossing four picks on 35 attempts. Running back Duke Johnson was injured in the first half, but Dallas Crawford picked up the slack on the ground, gashing the Tar Heels for 137 yards on 33 carries. And Crawford’s performance was the difference in the game, especially in the fourth quarter where he recorded two rushing scores to give Miami the victory. Miami’s defense allowed 500 yards but created a key turnover in the fourth quarter and held the Tar Heels to just six points in the second half. Next Week: Wake Forest|
|4||4||Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0): The Hokies had a bye in Week 8 and return to action on Saturday against Duke. After getting thumped by Alabama 35-10 in the opener, Virginia Tech has won six in a row. Quarterback Logan Thomas isn’t posting prolific totals, but the senior has not thrown an interception in three games. With an elite defense, the offense doesn’t need to score 30 points each week, but this unit needs to get more production from its running backs. With the Blue Devils up next and a date against Boston College on Nov. 2, the Hokies have a favorable path to setup a showdown against Miami on Nov. 9 for the Coastal Division title. Next Week: Duke|
|5||6||Georgia Tech: After three consecutive defeats, the Yellow Jackets got back into the win column with a 56-0 rout over Syracuse. With a rushing attack averaging 5.9 yards per carry, Georgia Tech attempted only five passes. Quarterback Vad Lee threw for 88 yards and one score and rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Four Yellow Jackets had at least 10 carries, including backup quarterback Justin Thomas, who averaged 9.5 yards per carry. Georgia Tech’s defense forced three turnovers and held the Orange’s rushing attack – which had back-to-back 300-yard games – to just 75 yards. Next Week: at Virginia|
|6||7||Pittsburgh (4-2, 2-2): It wasn’t pretty, but the Panthers beat Old Dominion 35-24 on Saturday night. Receiver Devin Street and running back James Conner sat out due to injuries, and the offense managed only 370 yards on 63 plays. However, Isaac Bennett was a capable replacement for Conner at running back, as he gashed the undersized Monarchs’ defense for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Tom Savage finished with 104 yards and one touchdown. Pittsburgh’s defense has been a source of concern all season, and Old Dominion had plenty of success moving the ball. The Panthers step out of conference again next week, before rejoining ACC play on Nov. 2. Next Week: at Navy|
|7||8||Boston College (3-3, 1-2): The Eagles had a bye in Week 8 and return to action at North Carolina in Week 9. Boston College needs three wins to get bowl eligible in coach Steve Addazio’s first season, and the schedule is favorable enough to get to six victories. The Eagles play four of their next six games on the road, but matchups against North Carolina, NC State, Maryland and Syracuse are winnable, while a trip to New Mexico State should be an easy victory. Next Week: at North Carolina|
|8||9||Duke (5-2, 1-2): After falling behind 22-0, the Blue Devils scored 35 unanswered points to beat Virginia 35-22 on Saturday. The win over the Cavaliers was huge for Duke’s bowl prospects, and the Blue Devils need just one victory in their final five games to make back-to-back postseason trips. For the second week in a row, Duke’s defense stepped up. The Cavaliers averaged only 4.7 yards per play, and had only two drives in the second half of more than five plays. The Blue Devils’ offense also pitched in, with quarterback Anthony Boone throwing for 245 yards and two scores. Duke’s schedule will get tougher, but coach David Cutcliffe quietly has this team back in the mix for a spot in the postseason. Next Week: at Virginia Tech|
|9||13||Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2): After a sluggish 1-2 start to the season, the Demon Deacons are quietly building momentum to a run at six wins and a postseason trip. A 34-10 win over Maryland improved Wake Forest to 4-3 overall and just two wins short of bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons were outgained by the Terrapins, but coach Jim Grobe’s team didn’t have a turnover and had a huge performance from quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Michael Campanaro. Price caught a touchdown from Campanaro and threw for 231 yards and one score on 26 completions. Campanaro grabbed 11 receptions for 122 yards and owns the school record for career catches with 217. Next Week: at Miami|
|10||5||Maryland (5-2, 1-2): What was once a promising start to the season is now in danger of taking a turn in the wrong direction for Maryland coach Randy Edsall. The Terrapins have lost two out of their last three games, and the injuries are starting to take a toll on this team. In Saturday’s 34-10 loss against Wake Forest, receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were lost for the season. The defense is also battered with injuries in the back seven, which is bad news with a date against Clemson ahead. Next Week: Clemson|
|11||10||North Carolina (1-5, 0-3): A disappointing season in Chapel Hill continued with a 27-23 heartbreaking defeat to Miami on Thursday night. North Carolina had Miami on the ropes in the fourth quarter, leading 23-13 with just over 14 minutes to go. However, the Tar Heels’ defense struggled to stop the Hurricanes’ rushing attack, including 10 carries on the ground on the final drive, which culminated in a three-yard touchdown by Dallas Crawford to seal the victory for Miami. North Carolina might be the ACC’s biggest disappointment, but the Tar Heels still have a chance to make a bowl with an easier second-half schedule. Next Week: Boston College|
|12||11||Syracuse (3-4, 1-2): The Orange followed up a promising 24-10 win over NC State with a complete dud. Syracuse was thoroughly dominated in a 56-0 loss at Georgia Tech, which was the program’s worst defeat since a 59-0 defeat at Miami in 2001. Quarterback Terrel Hunt struggled (7 of 14, 68 yards) and was pulled in favor of Drew Allen, but he did not fare much better (6 of 15, 65 yards). The Orange struggled to get their rushing attack going, and the defense forced Georgia Tech into only eight third-down situations. At 3-4, Syracuse still has a chance to get bowl eligible and upcoming games against Wake Forest, Maryland and Pittsburgh will be critical in order to get to six wins. Next Week: Bye Week|
|13||12||Virginia (2-5, 0-3): The Cavaliers simply collapsed in their 35-22 defeat against Duke. Virginia jumped out to a 22-0 lead, largely due to the play of running back Kevin Parks, who had a role in all three Cavaliers’ touchdowns. After struggling for most of the first half, the Blue Devils came alive in the second half and outscored Virginia 28-0 over the final two quarters. Quarterback David Watford tied his season high of 263 passing yards, but the rushing attack mustered only 2.6 yards per carry. The Cavaliers’ defense shares blame in the loss, failing to force a punt by Duke in the second half. Coach Mike London got a vote of confidence from athletic director Craig Littlepage before Saturday’s game against Duke. But one look at Virginia’s upcoming schedule shows there’s not a guaranteed win, and 2-10 is a realistic outcome for the Cavaliers this year. Next Week: Georgia Tech|
|14||14||NC State (3-3, 0-3): The Wolfpack had a bye on Saturday and return to action at Florida State in Week 9. NC State has lost three out of its last four games, with its only victory in that stretch coming against Central Michigan. NC State has yet to win a game in ACC play and each conference loss has been by at least 12 points. But the Wolfpack could have some additional help on Saturday, as quarterback Brandon Mitchell could be ready to return to the lineup. Mitchell suffered a broken foot against Louisiana Tech and has missed the last five games. Next Week: at Florida State|
ACC Week 8 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
A crowd of over 83,000 and a top-five showdown on the road was nothing to Winston. The freshman completed 22 of 34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns in the 51-14 blowout over Clemson. Winston also rushed for a four-yard score in the third quarter and had a 94-yard toss to tight end Nick O’Leary that nearly resulted in a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The freshman’s only interception was the result of a miscommunication by the coaching staff, which is just his third pick on the season.
Defensive Player of the Week: Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State
Florida State’s entire defense had a strong effort against Clemson, but Joyner gets the nod as the ACC’s top defensive player of the week. The senior switched from safety to cornerback in the offseason and is having an All-American-caliber year. Joyner set the tone for the Seminoles’ defense on Saturday, as he forced a fumble on Clemson’s first play and later forced another turnover that was returned for a touchdown by Mario Edwards Jr. Joyner finished the night with eight tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack.
Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State
Pruitt was a bit of a mystery coming into the season. After serving as Alabama’s secondary coach for three seasons, Pruitt was hired to replace Mark Stoops as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. In his first year calling the defense, Pruitt has been a big reason why the Seminoles haven’t missed much of a beat, despite returning only four starters. Clemson came into Saturday’s showdown against Florida State averaging 514.5 yards and 40.8 points a game. The Seminoles held the Tigers to 14 points and 326 yards, with Clemson’s offense managing just 3.8 yards per play. And with all of the new faces stepping into key roles this year, Florida State’s defense will only get better the rest of the season.
Team of the Week: Florida State
The question of whether or not Florida State is truly back was answered on Saturday night. The Seminoles thoroughly dominated Clemson 51-14 (ranked No. 3 nationally in Week 8) in Death Valley. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak in Death Valley and moved Florida State into the national title conversation. The Seminoles outgained Clemson 565 to 326, punted only twice and committed just one turnover. The 51-14 was arguably the biggest of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure and has the Seminoles positioned to play for the ACC Championship for the third time in four seasons.
Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
For this season, it’s almost time to rename the ACC Freshman of the Week honor in favor of Winston. The Florida State signal-caller threw for a career-high 444 yards and added four overall scores in the 51-14 victory over Clemson. In every game against BCS competition this season, Winston has completed at least 63 percent of his throws. The Alabama native ranks second nationally with a quarterback rating of 210.4 and sixth nationally in completion percentage (71.3).
• Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw seven interceptions on 421 attempts last season but already has eight on 129 attempts in 2013.
• Pittsburgh running back rushed for a career high 240 yards against Old Dominion.
• Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price is only the second player in ACC history to throw, run and catch a touchdown in a game.
• Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett suffered a MCL injury against North Carolina and will miss four to six weeks. Dorsett ranks third on the team with 13 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns.
• Georgia Tech linebacker Quayshawn Nealy recorded only two tackles against Syracuse but recovered one fumble and picked off a pass.
• North Carolina’s Eric Ebron set a school record by a tight end with 199 receiving yards against Miami.
• After running for 100 yards in back-to-back games, Virginia running back Kevin Parks was held to just 50 on 15 attempts against Duke.
• Georgia Tech completed only three passes in its 56-0 win over Syracuse.
• Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro caught 11 passes against Maryland, which gave him the school record for career receptions with 217.
This preview and more on Wichita State and the Missouri Valley Conference are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
No. 25 Wichita State Facts & Figures
Last season: 30-9 (12-6 Missouri Valley)
Postseason: NCAA Final Four
Coach: Gregg Marshall (139-70 at Wichita State)
Missouri Valley projection: First
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
That should be enough to get them back in the NCAA Tournament. There, they will take their chances with another tough team loaded with experience and confidence. The Shockers are 9–2 in the postseason with an NIT title and two NCAA appearances the past three seasons. They know how to win against good teams.
“This team has to make some new footprints,” sophomore guard Fred VanVleet says. “It’s nice to look back (on the Final Four), but we lost key guys from that group and it’s time to reload and go right back to war with a new group of guys.”
A year ago, few people outside Wichita knew about forward Cleanthony Early. During summer workouts, Marshall said that Early had miles to go to understand defense and the need to play hard all the time. Early, then a junior transfer from a Division III junior college, figured it out quickly, especially on offense. In the Final Four, he caught the nation’s attention with 24 points and 10 rebounds against Louisville. He went to the Kevin Durant Nike Skills Academy over the summer, and NBA scouts will stalk WSU games this season. He worked on ball-handling and defense in the offseason.
The rest of the frontcourt is inexperienced. Carl Hall, the team’s best post scorer, and Ehimen Orukpe, a shot-blocker, are gone. Kadeem Coleby is a transfer from Louisana-Lafayette, where he averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. Forward Darius Carter earned NJCAA All-American honors at Vincennes (Ind.) University after averaging 15.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. Freshman Shaq Morris is a skilled post player. Senior Chadrack played in 30 games last season.
2013-14 Conference Previews
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VanVleet takes over for Malcolm Armstead as the on-court leader. As a freshman, he enjoyed the luxury of learning from seniors Armstead and Demetric Williams. As a sophomore, VanVleet takes on greater responsibilities.
He’ll get plenty of help from the wings. There are not many years of experience in this group, but there is plenty of quality time played big games. Junior Tekele Cotton is a defensive stopper who turned himself into a good outside shooter. Sophomore Ron Baker missed most of the regular season with a stress fracture in his left foot but returned for the postseason and started all five NCAA Tournament games.
“The majority of us are young, but at the same we’ve got a lot of minutes under our belt,” Baker says. “I feel pretty confident in our team. We’re just going to have to get our chemistry right so that we can be successful.”
Sophomore Evan Wessel started eight games before a broken finger ended his season. He made 11-of-24 3-pointers and is one of WSU’s best defenders. Senior Nick Wiggins (41.9 percent from three last year) is an excellent shooter off the bench. He is the brother of Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top newcomer.
The Shockers grabbed forward Darius Carter during their Final Four run, and he is expected to help up front. He is an outstanding athlete with good offensive skills. Center Kadeem Coleby, who practiced with the team last season, is a shot-blocker and rebounder who can score around the rim. Center Shaq Morris knows he needs to get in better shape, but he is a prized recruit. It’s not often WSU gets a physically developed big man with four seasons to develop.
Factoid: 30. Wichita State set a school record for wins with its 30–9 record and has averaged 27.8 wins the past four seasons. Four straight seasons with 20-plus victories are a first for the program.
The Shockers defeated Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State last season on the way to Atlanta. They didn’t win the MVC, going 12–6 and losing twice to Evansville. That’s both a credit to the Valley and a reminder to the Shockers that they can’t cruise into another memorable March.
With Creighton’s departure for the Big East, Wichita State is the MVC’s clear favorite. A challenging non-conference schedule includes games against Alabama, Saint Louis, Tennessee and Davidson. The potential issues are interior scoring and depth behind VanVleet. Early should develop into a star who can carry WSU with his scoring, and VanVleet, Baker and Cotton are youngsters who play with great composure. Don’t underestimate the return of Wessel, who will add another good shooter and a smart player who knows how to run the offense.
The Shockers’ talent and depth should send them into March with 20 wins and a chance for more. As long as Marshall is the coach, that will be the expectation for Shocker fans every season.
*Photo courtesty of Jeff Tuttle, Wichita State
2013-14 Preseason Top 25
25. Wichita State
This preview and more on Baylor and the Big 12 are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.
No. 24 Baylor Facts & Figures
Last season: 23-14 (9-9 Big 12)
Postseason: NIT champion
Coach: Scott Drew (180-138 at Baylor)
Big 12 projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Round of 32
Granted, an NIT title hardly compares to a NCAA trophy — or even a Big 12 championship. Still, for a program that nearly received the death penalty following the Patrick Dennehy murder scandal in 2003, winning any sort of trophy is considered a monumental feat in Waco.
“We were disappointed we didn’t make the NCAA Tournament,” Drew says. “But what happened in the NIT was great for this program. It brought a lot of pride to our school and our community. Now we’re ready to take that next step.”
Even with the loss of Big 12 scoring and assists leader Pierre Jackson, Drew and his players are optimistic about the upcoming season. Kansas may be the clear-cut favorite to win its 10th straight conference title, but sleeping on the Bears would be a mistake.
Not many teams in the country will be as strong in the paint as Baylor. The Bears caught a break when 7-foot-1 center Isaiah Austin was forced to return for his sophomore season after tearing his right labrum in April. Austin was projected as a mid-to-late-first-round NBA Draft pick and had all but decided to leave school after one season, but the injury would’ve kept him from conducting individual workouts with prospective teams and would’ve hurt his draft stock. Austin averaged 13.0 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds as a freshman, but he was often manhandled on the defensive end. He needs to add some bulk to his wiry, 225-pound frame.
Joining Austin down low is senior Cory Jefferson, a freakishly athletic forward who keyed the Bears’ postseason success. The 6-9 Jefferson averaged 21.2 points in five NIT games and enhanced his skills during the summer as a member of the United States squad that competed in the World University Games in Russia.
Also figuring prominently into the rotation will be Ricardo Gathers, a 270-pound bruiser who averaged 5.7 points and 5.7 boards last season despite playing just 17 minutes a game.
2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC
The Bears took a massive hit with the graduation of Jackson, a second-round NBA Draft pick who led the Big 12 in scoring (19.8 ppg) and assists (7.1 apg). His likely replacement will be Kenny Chery, who averaged 16.4 points and shot 45 percent from 3-point range in junior college last season. Chery is known as a “scoring guard,” but Drew wants to make sure he also focuses on feeding the Bears’ standout post players as well as long-range specialist Brady Heslip, a senior shooting guard who is looking to bounce back from a mediocre junior year.
Combo guard Gary Franklin, who has been a staple in the Bears’ backcourt rotation the past two seasons, could challenge Heslip for a starting spot. Also contending for minutes will be freshman Allerick Freeman, a top-100 recruit who signed with the Bears in the spring after decommitting from UCLA. Freeman is a shooting guard, but he’s told Drew that he wants to play point guard as well.
The biggest area of improvement for Baylor in 2013-14 will likely be on the wing, where the Bears have three “inside-outside” players who are capable of playing both on the perimeter and in the paint. Freshman Ishmael Wainwright was the highest-ranked member of the program’s 2013 recruiting class and should contend for a starting spot with the versatile Royce O’Neale, who averaged 11.4 points and 5.5 rebounds for the University of Denver last season. Sophomore Taurean Prince will also be in the mix for playing time.
Although they are both natural small forwards, Ishmael Wainwright and Royce O’Neale can play any position except center. The long and athletic Wainwright is known for his leadership and defensive fire — two things Baylor has lacked. O’Neale was one of the better players in the WAC last season for Denver. His experience may give him an edge. Allerick Freeman is a highly ranked combo guard who initially committed to UCLA.
Factoid: 15–4. Scott Drew since has an 15–4 record in the postseason at Baylor. Under Drew, the Bears have earned three NCAA Tournament bids and made two appearances in the NIT.
Most teams that lose a player of Jackson’s ilk tend to take a step back the following season — especially considering he played the most important position on the court. Baylor, though, returns virtually every other key piece of its roster. The keys for Baylor will be how quickly Chery adapts to the Division I level, the improvement Austin makes on the defensive end and the impact on the wing from Wainwright and/or O’Neale. If those things turn into positives for Baylor, the Bears will be contending for championships much more prestigious than the one they won in 2013.
2013-14 Preseason Top 25
25. Wichita State
Before everyone freaks out, this seems to be a good time to remind people that the top two teams in the first BCS standings have met in the championship just twice since 1998.
That doesn’t mean the odds are in the favor of Oregon and Ohio State, two teams that would like to stake a claim on the final BCS championship game. It just means an Alabama-Florida State matchup, historically speaking, is not likely.
Only in 2011 (Alabama-LSU) and 2005 (Texas-USC) did the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in the first BCS rankings play for a title, and only the Longhorns and Trojans went wire to wire.
The Seminoles’ appearance in the top two was a bit of a surprise, especially given Oregon’s steadfast spot at No. 2 in the coaches’ and Harris polls. Florida State drilled Clemson 51-14 on the road, but ironically the computer rankings — which aren’t permitted to put weight on margin of victory — gave the Noles the boost they needed.
|2. Florida State||3||3||1|
|4. Ohio State||4||4||5|
|10. Texas Tech||9||9||11|
|14. Virginia Tech||19||19||8|
|16. Texas A&M||15||13||18|
Florida State. The Seminoles were the big winners in the first BCS standings. Florida State’s 51-14 win over Clemson was not enough to put the Seminoles into the top two in the coaches’ and Harris’ polls, but they were ranked No. 1 in the computer average. Four of the six BCS computers had Florida State No. 1.
The Seminoles’ lead isn’t particularly strong, though. Florida State is .0028 points ahead of Oregon (.9348 to .9320). Contrast that to the gulf between No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State of 0.493.
Missouri. The Tigers opened strong at No. 5 in the BCS standings, thanks largely to a boost in the computer rankings. The Tigers were ranked seventh in the coaches’ poll and sixth in the Harris poll, but averaged a No. 3 ranking in the computer average.
Oregon. The No. 2 team in the human polls was fourth in the computers, leaving the Ducks out of the championship game scenario for the time being. The Ducks, however, will face No. 6 Stanford, No. 12 UCLA and No. 25 Oregon State during the regular season. The only BCS top 25 team remaining on the regular season schedule for Florida State is No. 7 Miami.
Ohio State. The Buckeyes are securely out of the top three, falling 0.0767 points behind No. 3 Oregon. While the Ducks will have plenty of opportunities to make up ground on FSU, Ohio State can’t say the same. No. 22 Michigan is the only top-25 remaining on Ohio State’s regular season schedule. The Buckeyes would need two of the top three teams to lose to get into a national championship scenario.
Key Games This Week
No. 10 Texas Tech at No. 15 Oklahoma. The Red Raiders’ computer ranking is lagging behind (11th) their ranking the human polls (ninth) thanks to strength of schedule. The game at Oklahoma will be Tech’s first game against a ranked foe this year. The Red Raiders might not catch up to Baylor with a win, but they’d be in the conversation with other undefeated teams from the five major conferences.
No. 12 UCLA at No. 3 Oregon. Could the Ducks leapfrog Ohio State as quickly as next week? It would seem that way as Ohio State hosts unranked Penn State.
No. 17 Fresno State at San Diego State. The Bulldogs opened the BCS rankings one spot ahead of Northern Illinois, but that gulf could widen if both remain undefeated. San Diego State has won three in a row, including two in the Mountain West. Northern Illinois is amidst a stretch against the worst of the worst in FBS (Akron, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, UMass). The Huskies will have midweek games against Ball State and Toledo to impress voters, but Fresno State is the clear frontrunner among the non-AQs.
• No teams from outside the six automatic-qualifying conferences are in position for an automatic bid in the first BCS standings, but Fresno State and Northern Illinois have reason to be optimistic even if neither meet automatic-qualifying criteria just yet. They’d need to be in the top 12 or in the top 16 provided they finish ahead of a major conference champion. That includes the American this season.
Both No. 17 Fresno State and No. 18 Northern Illinois are ranked ahead of American frontrunner No. 23 UCF.
• One of the biggest disparities between the human polls and the computer average was Baylor, not surprisingly. Baylor ranked fifth in both human polls and 12th in the computer average. Between the Bears’ light schedule and the computers eliminating the importance of lopsided final scores, Baylor’s resume right now is BCS poison.
• The other disparity is just the opposite: Auburn is at No. 11 in the BCS standings thanks to placing seventh in the computer polls. In a cruel repeat of history for Tigers fans, Auburn started the season unranked after going 3-9, contributing to a No. 17 rank in the coaches’ poll and No. 15 in the Harris. The Tigers’ only loss is to BCS No. 13 LSU on the road.
• The conference tally for the top 25 is as follows: SEC (6), ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 (4 each), Big Ten (3), American (2), Mountain West and MAC (2 each).
Notes on BCS selection:
• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.
• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.
• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.
• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.
• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.