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With 11 weeks in the books, college football’s bowl and national title picture is starting to come into focus.
The fourth release of the BCS standings saw another change at the top. With Stanford’s victory over Oregon on Thursday night, Florida State is in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 spot and a shot at Alabama in the national championship. With a schedule that features games against Idaho, Syracuse and Florida in the regular season, it’s hard to find a loss on the Seminoles’ schedule. The ACC Championship should be the toughest remaining game, but Florida State will be favored by at least two touchdowns over every possible opponent.
Losing to Stanford knocked Oregon out of the national title picture, but the Ducks are still in good shape for a BCS bowl – if they win out. Although there’s a lot of football left this year, Clemson and Oregon could meet in the Orange Bowl, which could be one of the more intriguing BCS bowl matchups in recent years.
The SEC continues to be the toughest conference to sort out for bowl bids. Auburn gets a slight edge over South Carolina, Missouri and Texas A&M for the second BCS bowl spot. But this order is likely to change in the next few weeks, especially since Texas A&M still has to play Missouri and LSU, while South Carolina hosts in-state rival Clemson in the regular season finale. With Vanderbilt's win over Florida, the Commodores are one win away from bowl eligibility and still have Kentucky and Wake Forest on the schedule.
The bowl season doesn’t start until December, but with less than one month to go in the season, it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like.
The post-Week 11 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 11 weeks of action. Expect more changes over the next few weeks. With several teams projected to be right around the six-win mark, more at-large spots in bowls should open in the next month.
A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Maryland and Utah from BCS conferences. And Texas State, UTSA, Ohio, Bowling Green, Troy and Arkansas State from the non-BCS ranks.
College Football's Post-Week 11 Bowl Projections for 2013
|New Mexico||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Colo. State vs. Oregon State|
|Famous Idaho Potato||Dec. 21||MAC vs. MWC||UNLV vs. Buffalo|
|Las Vegas||Dec. 21||Pac-12 vs. MWC||Utah State vs. Arizona|
|New Orleans||Dec. 21||Sun Belt vs. CUSA||UL Lafayette vs. Tulane|
|Beef 'O' Brady's||Dec. 23||American vs. CUSA||Toledo* vs. MTSU|
|Hawaii||Dec. 24||MWC vs. CUSA||SJSU vs. Rice|
|Little Caesars Pizza||Dec. 26||MAC vs. Big Ten||No. Illinois vs. Syracuse*|
|Poinsettia||Dec. 26||Army vs. MWC||Boise State vs. Notre Dame*|
|Military||Dec. 27||CUSA vs. ACC||E. Carolina vs. Boston College|
|Texas||Dec. 27||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||K-State vs. Minnesota|
|Fight Hunger||Dec. 27||BYU vs. Pac-12||BYU vs. USC|
|Pinstripe||Dec. 28||American vs. Big 12||Rutgers vs. West Virginia|
|Belk||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Houston vs. Duke|
|Russell Athletic||Dec. 28||American vs. ACC||Louisville vs. Miami|
|Buffalo Wild Wings||Dec. 28||Big 12 vs. Big Ten||Texas vs. Nebraska|
|Armed Forces||Dec. 30||MWC vs. Navy||Navy vs. SDSU|
|Music City||Dec. 30||ACC vs. SEC||Ga. Tech vs. Ole Miss|
|Alamo||Dec. 30||Big 12 vs. Pac-12||Oklahoma vs. UCLA|
|Holiday||Dec. 30||Pac-12 vs. Big 12||Arizona State vs. Texas Tech|
|AdvoCare V100||Dec. 31||ACC vs. SEC||Pittsburgh vs. ULM*|
|Sun||Dec. 31||Pac-12 vs. ACC||North Carolina vs. Washington|
|Liberty||Dec. 31||SEC vs. CUSA||Tennessee vs. Marshall|
|Chick-fil-A||Dec. 31||SEC vs. ACC||Virginia Tech vs. Missouri|
|Gator||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Georgia vs. Michigan|
|Heart of Dallas||Jan. 1||Big Ten vs. CUSA||North Texas vs. Iowa|
|Outback||Jan. 1||SEC vs. Big Ten||Michigan State vs. South Carolina|
|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||Auburn vs. UCF|
|Cotton||Jan. 3||SEC vs. Big 12||LSU vs. Oklahoma State|
|Orange||Jan. 3||BCS vs. BCS||Clemson vs. Oregon|
|BBVA Compass||Jan. 4||SEC vs. American||Vanderbilt vs. Cincinnati|
|GoDaddy||Jan. 5||MAC vs. Sun Belt||Ball State vs. Western Kentucky|
|National Title||Jan. 6||BCS vs. BCS||Alabama vs. Florida State|
* Indicates conference is not expected to fill its alloted bowl slots, leaving an at-large spot available.
Bold indicates team has accepted bid to bowl.
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9 Stats to Know from Week 11
Another week, another college football coach fired. Ron English was dismissed a day before Eastern Michigan was set to take on Western Michigan last week. Eastern Michigan is one of the toughest jobs in the nation, but English’s teams showed little progress, and language used in an audio recording during a meeting was the final straw in his tenure in Ypsilanti.
With English’s dismissal, Virginia’s Mike London moves to the top of the hot seat watch. London has lost eight games for the third time in his tenure. The Cavaliers are likely headed for a 2-10, as they will be underdogs against Miami and Virginia Tech. London and his assistants have a significant buyout, so the former ACC Coach of the Year is likely to return for 2014.
Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Texas’ Mack Brown have ranked near the top of the hot seat watch all year, but both teams have moved down after recent victories. The Cornhuskers won at Michigan in Week 11, which keeps Pelini’s team alive in the Legends Division. The Longhorns survived a trip to West Virginia with an overtime win, but running back Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley were lost for the year. The schedule is about to get tougher for Texas, so Brown will have his work cut out for him in the final few weeks of 2013.
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 Indiana's Kevin Wilson – 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||Mike London||2-8||UVA has lost 8 games in 4 out of last 5 years.|
|2||Charlie Weis||2-7||Freshman QB Montell Cozart has potential.|
|3||Norm Chow||0-9||Warriors look to avoid first winless season since '98.|
|4||Ron Turner||1-8||FIU has not scored in three games this year.|
|6||Tim Beckman||3-6||Illini has lost 19 straight Big Ten games.|
|7||Will Muschamp||4-5||Gators headed for first losing season since 1979.|
|8||Dave Christensen||4-5||Wyoming just 8-13 since playing in bowl in 2011.|
|9||Dana Holgorsen||4-6||Mountaineers showing signs of improvement.|
|10||Garrick McGee||2-7||UAB's last winning record was in 2004.|
|11||Bobby Hauck||5-5||Rebels still need a win to get bowl eligible.|
|12||Randy Edsall||5-4||Terrapins have lost 4 out of last 5 games.|
|14||Bo Pelini||7-2||Still alive in the Legends Division title mix.|
|16||Bill Blankenship||2-7||Headed for worst finish since 1-11 mark in 2002.|
|17||Kevin Wilson||4-5||Hoosiers' bowl hopes require big upset.|
|23||Doug Martin||1-9||Aggies gave Boston College all it could handle.|
|24||Skip Holtz||4-5||Bulldogs have won three out of last four.|
|27||Jim Grobe||4-6||Demon Deacons simply overmatched against FSU.|
|28||Troy Calhoun||2-8||AFA has not won fewer than 4 games since 1980.|
|29||Mack Brown||7-2||Injuries starting to pile up in Austin.|
|31||Brian Polian||3-7||Wolf Pack will miss bowl for the first time since 2004.|
|37||Tony Levine||7-2||Cougars much-improved in Levine's second year.|
|39||Kirk Ferentz||6-4||Good rebound season for Ferentz.|
|44||Jeff Quinn||7-2||Bulls in driver's seat for MAC East title.|
|46||Rocky Long||5-4||Aztecs won five out of last six games.|
|52||Brady Hoke||6-3||Wolverines continue to struggle up front.|
|55||Kyle Whittingham||4-5||Utes need to win at Wazzu to have a shot at bowl.|
|57||Scott Shafer||5-4||Orange has allowed just 3 points in last two games.|
|64||Larry Fedora||4-5||Tar Heels have won three in a row.|
|69||Frank Beamer||7-3||Hokies back in the Coastal Division title mix.|
|71||Curtis Johnson||6-4||Green Wave has lost two in a row.|
|78||Bob Stoops||7-2||Does OU have an offensive identity?|
|82||Mark Helfrich||8-1||Ducks still alive for a BCS bowl.|
|84||Larry Coker||5-5||Roadrunners quietly impressive.|
|91||Dan McCarney||7-3||McCarney should be in National COY discussion.|
|NR||Stan Parrish||1-0||Parrish went 2-30-1 as K-State's coach from 1986-89.|
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9 Stats to Know from Week 11
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 Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11:
Minus-69: Michigan's total rushing yards in the last two games
Michigan posted a school-record minus-48 yards rushing last weekend in the ugly road loss to in-state rival Michigan State. That isn't all that shocking considering how good the Spartans defense has been all year. However, against a Nebraska defense that had allowed 516 rushing yards in its last two games, Michigan once again was held to negative rushing yards. The Maize and Blue totaled minus-21 yards rushing in the 17-13 loss to the Cornhuskers. The loss not only knocks Michigan completely out of the Legends Division race but it snapped the nation's longest home winning streak. Brady Hoke had won 20 consecutive games in The Big House until the Huskers upset the Wolverines on Saturday.
29.0: Nebraska’s Big Ten-leading sacks
The Cornhuskers' Randy Gregory recorded 3.0 sacks against Michigan this weekend and is now leading the Big Ten (6.5) in that category. In fact, Nebraska’s maligned defense is now leading the conference in sacks and is 10th nationally with 29.0 (3.22 per game) after posting 7.0 against the Wolverines. Nebraska has 11.0 sacks in its last two games — critical wins over Northwestern and Michigan.
5-0: Nebraska without Taylor Martinez
Taylor Martinez is the all-time total offense leader in Nebraska school history. And coming into his senior year, he had a chance to put himself into rarefied NCAA statistical air when it comes to dual-threat quarterbacks (7,258 yards passing, 2,975 rushing). But turf toe has limited him to just four games this season so far. Nebraska is 2-2 when Martinez starts and is 5-0 when he doesn’t. Certainly, Ron Kellogg III or Tommy Armstrong Jr. aren’t capable of producing like Martinez, but each player has led a game-winning drive in the waning moments of each of the last two games.
2003: Last year Minnesota won eight games
The Golden Gophers haven’t won eight games since Glen Mason won 10 and led Minnesota to the Sun Bowl in 2003. But with head coach Jerry Kill sidelined with health concerns, the 2013 Gophers squad is becoming one of the feel-good stories in the nation. Minnesota stymied Penn State 24-10 at home for the first win over the Nittany Lions since 2003 and its eighth win of the season. It gives Goldie four straight Big Ten wins after beating Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State — its first four-game winning streak in the Big Ten since 1973. Brutal games with rival Wisconsin and division frontrunner Michigan State loom large after the bye week.
46: James White career total TDs
James White rushed 23 times for 147 yards and scored three total touchdowns in the key win over BYU this weekend. He now has 4,147 career yards from scrimmage and 46 total career touchdowns — good for ninth all-time in Big Ten history — and has never really been the starter. Melvin Gordon is the star of the Badgers' backfield this season. He is a projected early-round NFL Draft pick and is eighth in the nation in rushing (128.9 ypg). The two seasons prior, Montee Ball set NCAA records with two Heisman finalist campaigns while the year before Ball and John Clay starred. White is a career backup and could finish as one of the top 10 most productive running backs in Big Ten history.
1,106: Allen Robinson's Penn State single-season receiving record
Penn State’s Biletnikoff Award candidate caught seven passes for 63 yards against Minnesota, pushing his 2013 totals to 73 receptions and 1,106 yards. Bobby Engram held the previous school record when he posted 1,084 yards in 1995. Wisconsin’s Lee Evans (2001) owns the Big Ten single-season record for receiving yards with 1,545 yards. Robinson would need to average 147 yards per game the rest of the way to set the Big Ten mark.
1,262: Totals yards of offense between Illinois and Indiana
The Hoosiers defeated Illinois 52-35 in Bloomington to give Illinois its 19th consecutive Big Ten loss. Indiana posted a season-high 650 yards of offense while the Illini put up 612 yards. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman rushed for a career-high 215 yards — the most by a Hoosier in 10 years — while wideout Cody Latimer set career highs with 11 receptions and 189 yards receiving. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase totaled 495 yards of total offense (450 pass, 45 rush) but it wasn’t good enough as head coach Tim Beckman fell to 0-13 in Big Ten play. Kevin Wilson and IU need to win two of their last three games to get to a bowl.
318: Iowa's season-high rushing yards
The Hawkeyes and Kirk Ferentz desperately needed to get to a bowl game in 2013 and the 38-14 win over Purdue gave Iowa its sixth win of the year. In true Ferentz fashion, Iowa pounded the football for a season-high 318 yards rushing and season-high 509 total yards of offense. Sophomore tailback Jordan Canzeri was the star of the show, rushing for a career-high 165 yards on 20 carries. Iowa finishes the season with Michigan and Nebraska.
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 SEC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 11.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12
29: Touchdowns scored by Missouri in six SEC games in 2013, eight more than it scored in eight league games last season.
The Tigers are averaging 38.5 points in SEC games, good for third in the league behind Texas A&M (46.0 ppg) and Alabama (42.8 ppg). Last season, Mizzou ranked 11th in the SEC, averaging 21.9 points in league games.
3.27: Yards gained per play by Vanderbilt in its win at Florida.
The Commodores beat the Gators 34-17 despite gaining a season-low 183 yards. Vanderbilt won the turnover battle 4-to-0 and sacked Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy five times. The Dores’ first three touchdown drives went for 10, 22 and 4 yards. Vanderbilt also won its last game in which it averaged less than 4.0 yards per play; last year, the Dores beat NC State 38-24 in the Music City Bowl despite averaging only 3.31 yards per play.
220.1: Yards per game increase for Auburn in SEC action from 2012 to ’13.
Last year, en route to an 0-8 league record, the Tigers averaged 235.1 yards against SEC opponents. This year, under the guidance of Gus Malzahn, Auburn is averaging 455.2 yards per game.
6: Straight losses by Arkansas of 10 points or more, the longest such streak in school history.
The Razorbacks have actually lost seven straight games, but each of the last six has been by at least 10 points. The Hogs are 0-6 in the SEC — the school’s first 0-6 start in league play since 1990 when it was in the Southwest Conference.
8: Total touchdowns scored in the second half of Texas A&M’s 51-41 win over Mississippi State, the most in any SEC game this season.
Four of the eight touchdowns were scored in a two-minute stretch of game time late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. And none of the four was scored on special teams.
0: Interceptions thrown by AJ McCarron in Alabama’s win over LSU.
The Crimson Tide’s senior quarterback has only thrown an interception in two of his 14 regular-season games dating back to the beginning of the 2012 season. McCarron threw one against Ole Miss this season (in a win) and two against Texas A&M last season (in a loss).
12.0: Average yards per carry for Corey Grant in Auburn’s 55-23 win over Tennessee.
Grant, a junior tailback, leads the SEC (min. 50 attempts) with a 10.1 yards-per-carry average — more than two yards higher than any other player in the league.
2: Ole Miss receivers who had over 100 yards receiving in the Rebels’ 34-24 win over Arkansas.
Donte Moncrief had 149 yards on seven receptions and Ja-Mes Logan had 110 on five catches, giving the Rebs two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time since 2003.
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 11.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC
10 Pac-12 Stats to Know
1: A Colorado running back finally lost a fumble this season
Entering Saturday’s game against Washington, Colorado running backs Christian Powell, Michael Adkins II, Tony Jones and Donta Abron combined for 255 touches and had not lost a fumble. That streak ended on the 277th touch. Jones, on his 67th touch of the season and seventh of the game, fumbled late in the third quarter, and it was scooped up by Marcus Peters who returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.
2: Washington defense scores twice in a game for the first time since 2002
Prior to the Peters’ touchdown late in the third quarter, there was a Tre Watson 84-yard interception return for a score 3:11 into that same quarter. Those two scores gave Washington two defensive touchdowns in one game for the first time since a 41-29 win over Oregon State 11 years ago — to the day. Derrick Johnson (42 yards) and Chris Massey (25) each had first-half interceptions returned for scores in the 2002 game.
2 part II: UCLA’s Jack productive on both sides of the ball in Bruins win at Arizona
UCLA true freshman linebacker Myles Jack was also an offensive weapon for the Bruins in their 31-26 win at Arizona Saturday — the first win for UCLA at Arizona since 2003. He carried the ball six times on offense for 120 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner. His 120 yards paced the Bruins on the ground. On defense, he added eight tackles, one for loss, his first-ever fumble recovery and two pass breakups. Jack is tied for third on the team with 62 tackles, and leads the Bruins with nine pass breakups.
3: USC ties NCAA record with three punt returns for scores in win at Cal
Nelson Agholor returned two punts for scores, and Josh Shaw added a score on a blocked punt, as USC tied the NCAA record for punt returns for touchdowns in a game. Agholor scored on a 75-yard return less than two minutes into the 62-28 victory, and added a 93-yard return with 3:47 left in the first half. In between was Shaw’s 14-yard return of teammate Soma Vainuku’s blocked punt. Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins was the last to have three punt returns for scores when he did so against UCLA in 2003.
3 part II: ASU’s consecutive games of 500-plus yards posted and under-100 yards rushing allowed stopped at three
Arizona State rallied for a 20-19 victory at Utah Saturday for its fourth straight win. The difference in win No. 4 versus the other three was the output gained and allowed. The Sun Devils’ offense entered the game having posted three straight games of 500-plus yards, while their defense had limited three straight opponents to under 100 yards on the ground. ASU’s offense posted 293 yards Saturday, while its defense allowed 126 yards on the ground to the Utes.
3 part III: Three halftime deficits have led to all three Arizona losses
The Wildcats fell behind 21-10 at halftime Saturday’s 31-26 loss to visiting UCLA. It’s the third time this season Arizona has trailed at halftime, and it led to the Wildcats’ third defeat. Washington led 11-6 and went on to outscore Arizona 20-7 in the second half. USC led 28-10 at halftime and used it to fend off the Wildcats’ 21-10 second-half run.
11: Utah posts Pac-12-leading 11th play of 50-plus yards
In its one-point loss to Arizona State, the Utes added their 11th play from scrimmage of 50-plus yards — a 55-yard pass play from Travis Wilson to Dres Anderson in the third quarter. The 11 plays of 50-plus are tied for fifth in the FBS and are tops in the Pac-12. Baylor leads the nation with 17 such plays.
14: Cal’s loss pushes streak to 14 straight losses against FBS teams
Cal lost its eighth straight game of the season Saturday, allowing a season-high 62 points in a 62-28 loss to USC. The loss marked the 11th straight against the Trojans and the 14th straight against FBS teams. The Bears have been outscored 629-276 — an average of 25.2 per game — during the 14-game skid. Their last FBS win was Oct. 13, 2012, at Washington State (31-17).
28: Huskies score 28 second-half points without attempting a pass
Tre Watson’s interception return on the front end of the third quarter and Marcus Peters’ fumble return for a score late in the quarter bookended a 21-point quarter for Washington in its win over Colorado. In between was a Keith Price 4-yard rushing TD. Washington also added a fourth-quarter touchdown when Dwayne Washington scored on a 5-yard run. All told, the Huskies posted 28 points in the second half without passing the ball, rushing 23 times.
45: Arizona State makes it “45” straight scores inside the red zone
The Sun Devils — save for a game-ending kneel down against Colorado — extended their streak to 45 straight scores in the red zone with three more in a 20-19 win over Utah Saturday. Included in the three were two fourth-quarter red-zone scores that led to the comeback win — a Taylor Kelly 2-yard rushing TD and a Kelly-to-Richard Smith 14-yard, game-winning TD with 2:37 remaining in the game.
The first number to know for this week’s Big 12 stats of the week is probably three. As in three contenders for Big 12 coach of the year.
All three superb coaching jobs were on display last week. First, there’s Art Briles, who has Baylor in the thick of the national championship race after picking up its key win of the season so far against Oklahoma.
Then there’s Bill Snyder, who started the season with an inexperienced team and four early losses, but he has led Kansas State to three consecutive wins, the latest on the road against Texas Tech.
Lastly, Texas’ Mack Brown could stake a legitimate claim at league coach of the year if the Longhorns remain undefeated in league play. Granted, Brown had to fire a coordinator he hired to help usher in the defensive rebound, but Texas has also dealt with a handful of key injuries through a 6-0 start in Big 12 play.
More Stats from Week 11: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Big 12 Stats to Know from Week 11
3.4. Oklahoma’s yards per play against Baylor
Perhaps lost in Baylor’s win over Oklahoma on Thursday was how dominant the Bears’ defense was. The Bears held Oklahoma to 3.4 yards per play, the lowest average for the Sooners since a loss to TCU on Sept. 3, 2005. Baylor has held three Big 12 opponents to fewer than four years per play this season (Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma).
89.3. Rushing yards per game for Baylor redshirt freshman Shock Linwood
The Baylor redshirt freshman is second only to teammate Lache Seastrunk in in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game despite carrying the ball only 15 times in the first half all season. With Seastrunk and Glasco Martin hurt, Linwood got his most extended action of the season, rushing for 182 yards on 23 carries against Oklahoma. Linwood is seventh in the Big 12 in total rushing yards despite having 46 fewer carries than any non-Baylor player ahead of him.
2. All-time overtime games for Texas
Texas needed overtime to defeat West Virginia 47-40 on Saturday, but the most most shocking part of the game was that this was only Texas’ second game to end in overtime. The other overtime game was a 30-27 loss to Oklahoma in 1996, the season the format was established. Texas and Kansas State have played the fewest overtime games for current Big 12 teams at two apiece.
All-time overtime games for Big 12 teams
12 West Virginia
9 Oklahoma State
9 Texas Tech
8 Iowa State
2 Kansas State
6. Consecutive Texas wins
Another surprising number from Texas: The Longhorns have won six games in a row for the first time since winning 17 in a row from Nov. 8, 2008 to Dec. 5, 2009. That win streak was ended by Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game.
4. Starters for Texas in the opener now injured
Texas announced this week that defensive tackle Chris Whaley (knee) and running back Johnathan Gray (ACL) will miss the remainder of the season with injuries. The Longhorns already lost linebacker Jordan Hicks for the season, and former starting quarterback David Ash has no timetable for a return from a head injury.
24. Sacks for Texas since Greg Robinson took over
Texas’ defense is better in a handful of ways since the Longhorns fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and replaced him with Greg Robinson. The biggest difference was in the pass rush. Texas sacked West Virginia six times Saturday. That included four sacks on starting quarterback Clint Trickett, who only attempted four passes before leaving with an injury. After recording no sacks in losses to BYU and Ole Miss, Texas has 24 in six conference games. No one else in the Big 12 averages better than 2.8 sacks in league play.
175. Career wins for Bill Snyder, all at Kansas State
With a 49-26 win over Texas Tech, Bill Snyder became the 46th coach to win 175 career games by only the 11th to win 175 at only one school.
Most FBS/major college football wins at only one school
Joe Paterno, Penn State (298-136-3)
LaVell Edwards, BYU (257-101-3)
Tom Osborne, Nebraska (255-49-3)
Chris Ault, Nevada (233-109-1)
Vince Dooley, Georgia (201-77-10)
Dan McGugin, Vanderbilt (197-55-19)
John Vaught, Ole Miss (190-61-12)
Carmen Cozza, Yale (179-119-5)
Frank Kush, Arizona State (176-54-1)
Shug Jordan, Auburn (176-83-6)
Bill Sndyer, Kansas State (175-89-1)
Plus-6. Kansas State’s turnover margin in the last three games
Part of Kansas State’s turnaround in the last three weeks has been a Snyder staple of winning the turnover battle. Kansas State was minus-9 through its 2-4 start this season, but was plus-1 against West Virginia, plus-2 against Iowa State and plus-3 Saturday against Texas Tech, all comfortable wins. The Wildcats are still minus-3 for the season, but they haven’t finished in the red for a season since 2008 under Ron Prince.
Minus-22. Texas Tech’s turnover margin at home in the last three seasons
Lubbock used to be one of the best home field advantages in the Big 12, but that trend has reversed. The Red Raiders are minus-22 in turnover margin at home in the last three seasons, including a minus-10 mark in 2013. (Hat tip to @AaronDickens)
3. Offensive categories where TCU’s Trevone Boykin contributes
One of the major differences in TCU’s offense following the return of starting quarterback Casey Pachall has been the use of former starting quarterback Trevone Boykin. The sophomore lined up under center at times in the win at Iowa State but never threw a pass. Instead, he rushed for 29 yards and three touchdowns on five carries. A week earlier, Boykin caught 11 passes for 100 yards from Pachall. That gives him the unique stat line for 1,176 passing yards, 303 rushing yards and 165 receiving yards.
6. Starting quarterbacks for Iowa State under Paul Rhoads
Iowa State has had trouble finding a starting quarterback since Austen Arnaud’s career ended due to injury during his senior season. On Saturday against TCU, Grant Rohach became the sixth different starting quarterback Rhoads had had at Iowa State since 2009, joining Sam Richardson, Steele Jantz, Jerome Tiller and Arnaud.
The convenient storyline of Kentucky’s matchup against Michigan State will be one of raw talent vs. college experience.
Kentucky started four freshmen in two games this season from a group that’s expected to challenge for the national championship and declare for the NBA Draft. Michigan State has built a team in a way that’s become common in East Lansing — develop its own pro talent over the course of three and four years while challenging for national championships.
Michigan State isn’t bereft of talent, to be sure. Senior Adreian Payne and sophomore Gary Harris elected to stay in school rather than go to the NBA Draft, but the Spartans’ four returning starters are accustomed to playing together and playing in tight situations where Kentucky is not.
The winner in Chicago will either remain No. 1 in Kentucky’s case or take over the No. 1 spot for Michigan State, but it’s far from an endgame.
“This is a big deal, but it’s November,” Kentucky coach Calipari said.
Kentucky vs. Michigan State
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Site: United Center (Chicago)
Top Matchup: Kentucky’s Julius Randle vs. Michigan State’s Adreian Payne
Randle is in the freshman and player of the year conversations along with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. Randle showed why early, with 45 points and 30 rebounds in the first two games — against Northern Kentucky and UNC Asheville. He will have a much tougher matchup against the senior Payne, an athletic, veteran big man with a pro future himself. Payne will need to defend Randle without getting into foul trouble, though. The Kentucky freshman is 12 of 20 from the free throw line in two games.
Key Stat: 10 of 33/10 of 26
A small sample size, for sure, but 3-point shooting could be a storyline in this game. Kentucky is 10 of 33 from beyond the arc in two games while Michigan State was 10 of 26 in its only game this season. Credit both teams for knowing where their strengths lie, at least. Michigan State’s Gary Harris was the Big Ten freshman of the year last season despite a shoulder injury, but he’s healthy this year. He’ll be dangerous from 3-point range, but he’s also become an aggressive rebounder.
Kentucky's Key Storyline: Use of Alex Poythress
The sophomore was a McDonald’s All-American arriving at Kentucky, but he’s in a sort of no-man’s land where he didn’t leave for the draft as a one-and-done. Now he’s coming off the bench among Kentucky’s freshmen and sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. His role and energy on Kentucky’s talented roster will be an intriguing storyline this season.
Michigan State's Key Storyline: Keith Appling’s improvement
Appling enters this season as one of the nation’s top point guards, but don’t forget that he struggled at times last season. Michigan State’s experience is an asset, but the Spartans’ national championship bid will be in question if Appling continues to be turnover prone.
A star freshman. A sophomore expected to take the next step. A transfer at forward expected to play a major role. And all of it expected to come together for a national championship run.
Duke and Kansas aren’t exactly mirror images, except in the shorthand. Duke has freshman Jabari Parker, sophomore Rasheed Sulaimon and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood. Kansas has freshman Andrew Wiggins, sophomore Perry Ellis and Memphis transfer Tarik Black.
Either way, both teams have several new pieces expected to come together for a major statement in the first week of the season. Perhaps it’s too easy to paint the game as a Wiggins vs. Parker matchup, but it’s not out of line to consider that this might not be the last time these teams meet.
Duke vs. Kansas
Time: 10 p.m.
Site: United Center (Chicago)
Top Matchup: Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins vs. Duke’s Jabari Parker
The pair might not be matched up against each other on a play-by-play basis, but the popular narrative will be how the star freshman small forwards fare in this game. Wiggins, who arrived at Kansas as a standout defender, will have his hands full against both Parker and Hood, who are both versatile offensive threats.
Key Stat: 61.9
Duke and Kansas shot a combined 61.9 percent from the field in their openers. Duke went 38 of 54 against Davidson while Kansas went 23 o 43 against ULM. Expect the defenses to tighten up in this matchup, but that’s still an impressive start.
Duke’s Key Storyline: Rebounding
Duke may miss Mason Plumlee a ton this season. Kansas brings Black and freshman Joel Embiid who bring muscle to the frontcourt, so players like Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Parker and Hood will need to work the glass against Kansas.
Kansas’ Key Storyline: Naadir Tharpe’s improvement
Kansas’ Tharpe was a backup last season at point guard, a position that was a liability last season. Kansas’ national championship bona fides may be in question if Tharpe isn’t a solid point guard. He’ll be matched up with a solid veteran in Duke’s Quinn Cook.
Anyone can have bad results at a lackluster college football program. Even Bear Bryant or Nick Saban might have trouble staying above water at a program in a bad recruiting era, little tradition and scant resources.
However, it takes a unique situation for someone to struggle at a place sitting in good recruiting territory, with a championship tradition and ample backing from fans and administration.
Granted, the pressures of coaching at top programs aren’t for everyone. The pressure to win every game — and answering to media and fans when it doesn’t happen — isn’t realistic.
These are the coaches who struggled to great proportions despite the advantages that come at top programs. These are the coaches who missed bowl games where it should be really, really tough to miss bowl games. We are considering great programs to be among the leaders in win percentage during since the Associated Press poll began in 1936.
One thing to note: We are only listing coaches who were hired after a program reached national prominence. Thus, pre-Nick Saban coaches at LSU or pre-Howard Schnellenberger coaches at Miami, for example, were not considered.
College Football’s 20 Worst Coaches at Great Programs
1. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record: 15-21 (.417) from 2010-12
A Nick Saban disciple and the son of one of the SEC’s greatest coaches, what could go wrong? Pretty much everything. Dooley inherited a program damaged by Lane Kiffin’s lone season, but Dooley set the Volunteers further back by going winless against ranked teams, winless against SEC teams in October and 2-14 in the SEC his last two seasons. Quotable, yes. Great hair, yes. Good coach, not really.
2. Joe Kuharich, Notre Dame
Record: 17-23 (.425) from 1959-62
Gerry Faust, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis are remembered with more vitriol than Kuharich, but that’s a product of recent memory. Kuharich took over six seasons after Frank Leahy’s tenure and never had a winning season in four years at Notre Dame despite having talented teams at the height of Notre Dame’s popularity.
3. Gerry Faust, Notre Dame
Record: 30-26-1 (.535) from 1981-85
Imagine any major program hiring a high school coach these days. That’s what Notre Dame did when it replaced Dan Devine with Faust, coach at powerhouse Cincinnati Moeller. The gamble was predictably a failure, but at least Notre Dame could keep the high ground by giving Faust a full five seasons. Subsequent coaches wouldn’t be able to say the same.
4. John Blake, Oklahoma
Record: 12-22 (.353) from 1996-98
An assistant for Barry Switzer and former Sooners player, Blake knew better than to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor Howard Schnellenberger, but that didn’t help him win games. Blake had never been even a coordinator, and it showed as the Sooners went 8-16 in the Big 12. At least his recruits were the centerpieces for OU’s 2000 national championship team.
5. Howard Schnellenberger, Oklahoma
Record: 5-5-1 (.500) in 1995
Schnellenberger had one of the most puzzling tenures in college sports in his lone season at Oklahoma. He built Miami into a national power in the 1980s and brought Louisville to relevance, but Oklahoma fans were turned off by Schnellenberger’s dismissiveness of Sooners history. Especially after Oklahoma finished 1995 with three straight blowout losses.
6. John Mackovic, Texas
Record: 41-28-2 (.592) from 1992-97
Mackovic started to rebuild Texas after the McWilliams era with three consecutive bowl games and a Big 12 title game appearance between 1994-96. But his fate was sealed on Sept. 12, 1997 with a 66-3 loss to UCLA at home that became known as “Rout 66.” Mackovic went 4-7 his final season despite having Ricky Williams in his backfield.
7. Mike DuBose, Alabama
Record: 24-23 (.511) from 1997-2000
DuBose followed national championship coach Gene Stallings to go 4-7 in his first season thanks in part to NCAA sanctions. Though DuBose led the Tide to a 10-3 season and top 10 finish in 1999, he went 3-8 the following year and was the coach during major NCAA recruiting violations.
8. Mike Shula, Alabama
Record: 26-23 (.531) from 2003-06
Perhaps Shula was doomed from the beginning. Alabama fans were wounded by the sudden departure of Dennis Franchione to Texas A&M just as NCAA sanctions were levied. Shula wasn’t even on the radar until Washington State coach Mike Price was fired amid scandal before his first game. Shula went to the Cotton Bowl in 2005 but otherwise became the first Alabama coach since the pre-Bear Bryant days to have three non-winning seasons.
9. David McWilliams, Texas
Record: 31-26 (.544) from 1987-91
Aside from a 10-2 season and Southwest Conference championship in 1990, McWilliams had a lackluster tenure at Texas on the heels of the Darrell Royal and Fred Akers days. McWilliams’ time at Texas was doomed when the Longhorns went 5-6 after reaching the Cotton Bowl a year earlier.
10. Ray Goff, Georgia
Record: 46-34-1 (.574) from 1989-95
Goff had the unenviable task of taking over for the best coach in Georgia history. He had two losing seasons and two 6-6 seasons in six years, but his greatest sin was ushering in an era of futility against Florida. Goff lost his final six meetings against the Gators, the start of a 1-13 stretch in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
11. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
Record: 15-22 (.405) from 2008-10
Michigan swung for the fences when it tried to shake up its square-jawed image by hiring spread-offense acolyte Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. The experiment was a failure as the offense was dismal in a 3-9 season in Rodriguez’s first year, the worst for Michigan in 46 years. Michigan improved in his final two years, but Rodriguez became the first coach to leave Michigan with a losing record.
12. Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame
Record: 21-15 (.583) from 2002-04
Willingham was Notre Dame’s second choice after George O’Leary resigned after it was discovered his resume contained false information. It seemed for a time to be a good break for Notre Dame when Willingham’s first team started 8-0. The Irish went 13-15 thereafter. Willingham became the first Notre Dame coach fired after only three seasons.
13. Charlie Weis, Notre Dame
Record: 35-27 (.565) from 2005-09
Notre Dame was outclassed in two BCS games in Weis’ first two seasons, but at least the Irish were back in the national consciousness. Weis looked like an offensive genius by leading Brady Quinn to several Notre Dame passing records and the Heisman presentation, but the bottom fell out in 2007 with a 3-9 record and the Irish’s first loss to Navy since 1963.
14. Paul Hackett, USC
Record: 19-18 (.514) from 1998-2000
The journeyman coach put up journeyman results in his three seasons at USC, going 5-11 in the Pac-10 in his final two years. In his three-year tenure, Hackett became the first USC coach in 41 years to never go to the Rose Bowl.
15. Bill Callahan, Nebraska
Record: 27-22 (.551) from 2004-07
Frank Solich’s 58 wins in six season was not enough to keep him employed at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers tried to move away from their traditional option by bringing in Callahan from the NFL ranks, but a 5-6 season in 2004 ended Nebraska’s streak of 35 consecutive bowl games. The pro-style offense eventually caught on, but big wins never did as Nebraska bookended his tenure with a 5-7 season in 2007.
16. Randy Shannon, Miami
Record: 28-22 (.560) from 2007-10
The decorated defensive coordinator never could match Miami’s level of success the Hurricanes had while Shannon was an assistant or a player. The Hurricanes’ decline that began under Larry Coker was hastened under Shannon. The Canes went 5-7 in his first season, including a 48-0 loss to Virginia in the final game at the storied Orange Bowl.
17. Ron Zook, Florida
Record: 23-14 (.621) from 2002-04
Zook inherited the Heisman runner-up (Rex Grossman) when Steve Spurrier left and never more than eight games as the Gators coach. The tenure included two losses to Ole Miss (albeit led by Eli Manning), a loss to Mississippi State and three unranked finishes. The Zooker could recruit, though.
18. Will Muschamp, Florida
Record: 22-13 (.629) from 2011-present
An 11-2 season in 2012 and an injury-riddled 2013 may keep Muschamp at Florida for a fourth season despite a similar record to Zook. But the Gators are facing their first losing season since 1979 after the first loss to Vanderbilt in Gainesville since 1945.
19. Lane Kiffin, USC
Record: 28-15 (.651) from 2010-13
USC went 10-2 with a win over Oregon despite a bowl ban in 2011, raising the stakes for 2012. The Trojans, though, went from preseason No. 1 to 7-6 with a loss in the Sun Bowl to Georgia Tech. A listless performance on offense in 2013 prompted his abrupt ouster less than 12 hours after a loss to Arizona State. A hot start under interim coach Ed Orgeron has become a further indictment on Kiffin’s tenure.
20. Gary Crowton (26-23 at BYU), Dan Hawkins (19-39 at Colorado) and Keith Gilberston (7-16 at Washington)
We can debate if BYU, Colorado and Washington are “great” programs, but all had won national championships and were viable winners when the three coaches above took over. BYU and Washington have recovered to a degree, but both programs are long ways off from winning national championships again.
Although basketball season started Friday, tonight will mark the unofficial start of 2013-14.
ESPN will begin its 24-hour tip-off marathon at 11 p.m. Eastern when BYU visits Stanford with a handful of juicy matchups culminating in the marquee games Tuesday evening.
The final games in the marathon could easily be Final Four previews as Kentucky faces Michigan State and Kansas faces Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago. The two matchups include four of the top five teams in Athlon Sports’ preseason top 25.
The rest of the featured teams in the marathon include five more Athlon top 25 teams (Florida, Wisconsin, Baylor, VCU, Wichita State), a Final Four team from 2013 (Wichita State) and the darling of last year’s NCAA Tournament (Florida Gulf Coast).
You may need a boost to get through the entire marathon, that’s why we’ve given each game a “caffeinated beverage rating” to help viewers push through.
College Basketball Tipoff Marathon Viewer’s Guide
*All times Eastern
Read previews of every top 25 team and more in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preseason Rankings.
Two proud programs have been quiet recently, but there’s plenty of reason to believe both will be interesting this season. LSU adds highly regarded freshman Jarell Martin to a frontcourt that already features Johnny O’Bryant. UMass adds Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon to a backcourt that already includes Chaz Williams, who leads the Minutemen’s up-tempo offense and pressure defense.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Grande Coffee
West Virginia at Virginia Tech (1 p.m., ESPN)
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins added junior college transfers with hopes of avoiding the dysfunction of last season. Little hope is on the way for Virginia Tech, however.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Sugar-Free Red Bull
South Carolina at Baylor (3 p.m., ESPN)
Baylor has a roster with plenty of pro talent thanks to the return of Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson. The Bears need newcomers like Kenny Chery, Ishmael Wainright and Royce O’Neal to improve play in the defensive end. South Carolina is getting better under Frank Martin, but the roster rebuild is still in its early stages.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Diet Mountain Dew
NC State at Cincinnati (5 p.m., ESPN)
The Wolfpack enter this season with none of the fanfare from last season with almost every key player gone from last season. Maybe that will be a good thing for NC State. Cincinnati also has had little press in the offesason, but Mick Cronin returns Sean Kilpatrick and adds freshman Jermaine Lawrence on what should be an NCAA Tournament team.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Red Bull
VCU at Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN2)
VCU and Virginia share a state and little else in common. The Rams are among the most exciting teams in the country to watch due to their defense while Virginia, well, is not. Still, the Cavs' Joe Harris is a ACC player of the year candidate going up against a defensive team that will keep him on his toes.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Five-Hour Energy
Michigan State vs. Kentucky (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Full Game Preview
Tom Izzo’s veterans vs. Kentucky’s youth. Pro players everywhere.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Monster Energy Drink
Florida at Wisconsin (9 p.m., ESPN2)
Florida heads to Wisconsin with a depleted roster without Scottie Wilbekin, Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith. The Gators need Patric Young and Will Yeguete to take advantage of a Badgers frontcourt replacing three starters. Wisconsin guards Josh Gasser and Ben Brust will try to take advantage of a Florida team without its top perimeter defender.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Two espresso shots
Kansas vs. Duke (10 p.m., ESPN)
Full Game Preview
There’s no easing into the season as Andrew Wiggins faces Duke in his second career game.
Caffeinated beverage rating: Rockstar Energy Drink
If Jimmie Johnson wins his sixth NASCAR Spring Cup championship, Phoenix will have been its defining moment. It’s not over until the fat lady sings, of course, but the next six days sure feel like a coronation with his No. 48 needing to finish just 23rd or better at Homestead. It’s a well-deserved top story for a driver that has dominated Sprint Cup racing for the past decade.
But for me, Sunday will also be the defining moment for one of NASCAR’s most unexpected long-term marriages. On a fateful day in Feb. 2001, an up-and-coming development driver, Kevin Harvick, and owner Richard Childress were brought together far quicker than expected, Dale Earnhardt’s untimely death left a grieving owner with a gaping hole in his heart. Like a rebound relationship, a replacement felt good in the face of tragedy (see: Atlanta victory one month later) only to start fizzling as the honeymoon wore off. The next season, their second year together, saw Harvick suspended for a Cup race over rough driving, fighting with teammates internally and posting a 21st-place finish in the season standings – the worst performance for a Childress team in the two previous decades.
Back then, rumors began that Harvick would be replaced behind the wheel, the generation gap and headstrong personalities being too much to overcome. It seems for the last 11 years you’d see divorce papers getting threatened by one member of this duo, oh, about once every six months. But a funny thing happened on the way to the lawyer’s office: they kept stopping to beat the crap out of the competition.
Harvick-Childress, who earned their fourth victory of the season at Phoenix (along with victories in the Sprint Unlimited and a Daytona Duel) have now won 23 times together, including three of the sport’s “crown jewel” races: the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and Charlotte’s Coca-Cola 600 (twice). Only a handful have won more. Yes, the title Childress so desperately wants to reclaim, proving his success extends beyond Earnhardt’s legacy, has never quite come to fruition. But they’ve been in it most every year, with Harvick finishing third twice and holding at least a mathematical shot this year heading to Homestead.
The fact they’ve got that far is a miracle, considering the divorce finally did come to pass with papers filed in Nov. 2012. For the past year, ironclad contracts forced the pairing together through a “lame duck” period where both sides are moving out and moving on. Childress is publicly focused on making his grandsons the next Sprint Cup success story; Harvick is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing, whose partnership with Hendrick finds it higher in the Chevy pecking order. An on-track incident between Harvick and one of those grandsons, Ty Dillon, led to a war of words at Martinsville just weeks ago in which Childress came this close to canning Harvick — championship chance be damned.
But, like the last dozen-plus years, the key to that statement is that it never actually happened. So here we are, with one race left and Harvick could easily wind up second, the highest points finish for any driver leaving a team since Darrell Waltrip did so with Junior Johnson in 1986. And with all the bitter history these guys have, you’d think it difficult to do a Victory Lane interview together. Instead, we found Harvick fighting back tears on Sunday.
“You want to make your race team better,” the driver said of their feisty relationship. “But in the end, you want to be a better person. He’s taught me a lot about being a dad.”
“You look at life,” added Childress. “I'm sure y'all have heard that old song, don't blink, 100 years goes by fast, and this is just another chapter in life that we're all living. You've got to be tough to hang in there and make it, and we've done a lot together.”
It’s like the old cartoon where the little kid is plucking the petals off the rose. “You love me. You love me not.” Six days is still a long time to get back to “You love me not.” Still, this partnership will look back on what it has accomplished years from now and smile on how Childress and Harvick kept up the level of success for so long. Earnhardt’s former team could have easily folded in the face of it all. Instead, they forged on.
“The Intimidator” would sure be proud.
“Through the Gears” we go, post-Phoenix …
FIRST GEAR: Jimmie Johnson takes charge of the championship
Sunday was filled with scary moments for Johnson and company. The first lap, after taking the pole, Joey Logano knocked the No. 48 sideways. Midway through, Carl Edwards did the same — with such force both drivers would have crashed nine times out of 10. Only car control from one of the sport’s elite kept all four fenders on with his mind in the game and an eye on the championship prize – as opposed to revenge.
The workman-like performance that followed — a third-place finish — defines the way Johnson and Chad Knaus approach this Chase. When tough circumstances materialize, like this race in which a pole-winning run went awry, the focus never wavers. If a win is out of the question, a top-5 performance is treated like one; every ounce of effort put towards moving up. There was a bit of history to overcome here. Last season, Johnson came into the fall Phoenix event with a seven-point lead only to smack the wall hard mid-race. You lose a championship, getting two years removed from winning one, and the whispers grow louder. It’s the cruel nature of sports; time makes you only as good as your last play.
But Johnson didn’t listen to any of that, nor waver when rival Matt Kenseth surprised by out-pointing him at Martinsville. Instead, the No. 48 team keeps throwing punches and its average finish of 4.7 threatens to set a new Chase record.
“We're heading into Homestead in the position we want to be in,” the point-leader admitted. “I'll have to go down there and run 400 miles. It's far from over.”
Unfortunately for its rivals, the fact this team knows how to treat the season finale means it already is. Barring some sort of unforeseen mechanical failure or the worst possible “Lady Luck moment” imaginable, Johnson will be your 2013 Sprint Cup champion.
SECOND GEAR: Playing defense finally caught up to Kenseth The past month, I’ve talked in writing, on the radio and on television about Matt Kenseth’s “defensive” drive to success. Despite leading the standings for much of the Chase, it’s been more the No. 20 team minimizing the damage instead of seizing control of the title race. Too many races follow a familiar pattern; Kenseth is junk at the start, complaining only for Jason Ratcliff to work his magic and make the right adjustments to the car down the stretch. That’s in direct opposition to the No. 48, which seems to start with the better setups and be the rabbit Kenseth has to catch.
To Kenseth’s credit, as well as Ratcliff’s, their chemistry has allowed them to build towards success every week. But you can only play defense for so long before the other team scores. Sunday, Johnson was so far ahead, with Kenseth struggling to even crack the top 10, it just seemed they could never flip the momentum switch. Phoenix is a track-position race, they qualified poorly (14th) and never could quite work through traffic. Then, there was a disastrous mid-race pit stop (an agonizing 25 seconds) in which this Joe Gibbs Racing outfit looked like the Bad News Bears. Pull the right strategy — around the time Johnson was Edwards’ personal pinball — and the No. 20 could have put pressure on the No. 48. Instead, the only pressure was what cracked every member of that pit crew. You felt after that moment Kenseth was toast on a day that proved so rough, his post-race comments seemed more like a concession speech:
“I couldn't be happier and more proud of my team and man — this has been the best year of my racing career, really. It's been an awesome season. You're going to have days like this and of course we wanted to finish (it) off here the last couple weeks.”
It’s a tough title for this team to lose; at 41 year of age and the honeymoon period over at JGR, you wonder if Kenseth will ever get the same opportunity. Seven race wins is a career-defining year for a driver known more for his consistency. But the bottom line is during the biggest moment, what the No. 20 team brought to the table just wasn’t enough.
THIRD GEAR: Fuel or not, Carl Edwards will be a factor come 2014Edwards, who ran out of gas to hand Harvick the lead, appeared ready to earn a Phoenix sweep Sunday. That would have given his No. 99 team three wins on the season, putting their stats more level with top Chasers Harvick, Johnson, Kenseth and Kyle Busch. It’s been a quiet comeback year for a driver still recovering from that 2011 championship near-miss.
“It was a fun race,” he said after limping home 21st. “I had a really good time. It’s gonna take me a little while to get over this one. We did everything right, we just didn’t calculate the fuel correctly.”
That mistake, combined with two mechanical failures this postseason, leaves Edwards dead last this Chase. On paper, it’s a big disappointment after coming in with the momentum of winning the regular season finale at Richmond. But without the Chase, keep in mind Edwards sits sixth in points. That’s far more reflective of a year in which he and crew chief Jimmy Fennig built strong chemistry.
The Fords appear to have jumped back in step with the Chevys and Toyotas heading into 2014. With Edwards still the Blue Oval’s high-money guy, there’s a lot of positive signs here to show he’s back on the upward swing for next season.
FOURTH GEAR: Patrick’s poor performances continue I’ve gone back and forth on Danica Patrick this season. Every time you want to write her off, she comes through with an unexpected top 20 at a track like Martinsville where the rookie shows some unexpected growth. But Sunday was not one of those days. Involved in a wreck not of her making, it was a way to take the No. 10 car out of its misery. At one point, Patrick was running 38th, fighting with the cars of Joe Nemechek and Reed Sorenson, who have five percent of her funding and used-up horsepower under the hood.
Compare that to last season, when Patrick ran top 20 at PIR before blowing an engine on the last lap and it’s a sign to me she’s regressing a bit. Her open-wheel and stock car experience is immense in Phoenix at this point, making Sunday’s run unacceptable. Stewart-Haas Racing would do well to retain Mark Martin next season as a mentor and driving coach because it can’t have these types of performances by next November.
Three straight weeks, three mechanical failures for surprise Talladega winner David Ragan, a distant 35th at Phoenix. Not the way his small-time Front Row Motorsports wanted to build towards 2014. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. sits fifth in points heading to the season finale and could run as high as second. Had he won Chicagoland instead of blowing an engine there he’d be the closest driver to Johnson heading to Homestead. … Goodyear tires remained the primary focus at Phoenix, with almost everyone agreeing a softer compound is needed. No loss of grip combined with new asphalt left everyone frustrated over an inability to pass. … BK Racing has had a “whopper” of a bad season thus far. David Reutimann’s hard crash, combined with Travis Kvapil’s blown engine, leave it with nine DNFs apiece for the two teams, with zero top 10s.
Texas’ Big 12 title hopes took a hit on Saturday night, as running back Johnathan Gray was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. Gray rushed for 780 yards and four touchdowns on 159 attempts in 2013.
With Gray sidelined, the Longhorns will lean more on Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Although Gray is the team’s best back, Brown and Bergeron are more than capable of leading the Texas’ ground attack.
Gray’s injury wasn’t the only setback Texas suffered against West Virginia. Defensive tackle Chris Whaley was also lost for the year.
The injuries come at the worst time of the year for Texas. The Longhorns have three tough games remaining: Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Texas RB Johnathan Gray (Achilles) and DT Chris Whaley (knee) both ruled out for the season.— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) November 10, 2013
Alabama coach Nick Saban will be the next coach of the Texas Longhorns. Current UT coach Mack Brown has one foot out the door. Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton, is already jockeying for position, eyeing a Lone Star State payday. Sorry, Alabama fans. It was a good run. But Saban is moving from Tuscaloosa to Austin in 2014. These are the 10 reasons why Nick Saban will be the next coach at Texas:
1. "Special pressure" at Alabama
Alabama is spoiled. Three BCS national championships in four seasons will do that. The student section takes their red Solo cups to Sorority and Fraternity Rows long before games are over. Saban is under the type of "special pressure" where anything less than an undefeated season and BCS national title is considered a failure.
2. To be better than Bear
Despite a 77–13 record at Bama and three BCS title crystals, Saban will never be considered better than Bear Bryant as long as he is coaching the Crimson Tide. Saban will always be second-best while he's coaching in a Houndstooth shadow. But were Saban to go to Texas — and win it all — he would have national titles at LSU, Alabama and Texas. Saban would be… however sacrilegious it is… better than the Bear.
3. More money
"How much money does he need?" is the type of thing said by someone other than Saban. Texas has an endowment of $6 billion. Alabama has an endowment of $630 million. Saban wants to be the biggest and the best? Everything is bigger in Texas.
4. Longhorn Network
ESPN has partnered with Texas for the Longhorn Network, which has yet to establish itself. But imagine the possibilities? Saban could potentially have the Worldwide Leader of propaganda machines at his disposal. As if he needed any additional help rebuilding the burnt orange football factory in Austin.
The Republic of Texas may never secede from the Union, but the University of Texas could realistically secede from the Big 12 — a conference it nearly killed following the announcement of its Longhorn Network. Missouri and Texas A&M took their balls to the SEC. While the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC have grown stronger in numbers, the Big 12 has fallen behind. Texas could become the Notre Dame of the South.
6. No conference title game
Short of total independence, Texas still has an edge over any SEC team in that the Longhorns avoid a conference title game. Why play a pesky SEC East team when you can roll out the red carpet directly to the Final Four of the BCS? Less chance of injury, less chance of fluke loss, less chance period.
7. AJ McCarron is graduating
Sure there are other quarterbacks. Brent Musberger told all the boys out there to go pitch the ball around in the backyard because quarterbacks get all the good looking women. But those other signal-callers aren't Mr. McCarron, who has a 34–2 record, 65 TDs and 11 INTs (through nine games in 2013) in nearly three seasons as a starter. After this season, Saban will have to build a new relationship with a new starting QB — whether he's at Bama or Texas.
8. To be his own boss (almost)
No matter where Saban goes, the Nick-tator will be his own man. No one speaks to the coach unless directly spoken to. Don't even look at Coach Saban if you pass him in the halls. That will be the rule wherever he goes. But at Texas, Saban will be working under a brand new athletic director in Steve Patterson.
9. Tired of "Sweet Home Alabama"
How many times can you hear "Sweet Home Alabama," Roll! Tide! Roll!? Sometimes you can just see Saban seething for apparently no reason, up 40 points but fuming. What other reason could there be? He's sick of that song and that chant. It will take years before the Texas Exes and their Hook 'Em Horns gets under Saban's skin.
10. Better oatmeal pies
Coach Saban's breakfast of choice is the oatmeal cream pie. The Texas State Fair would runneth over with oatmeal cream pies if Saban was wearing burnt orange on the sidelines.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Nov. 11.
• It's Brittney Gastineau's birthday. Happy 30th to the model, entrepreneur, entertainment journalist, former reality star and daughter of '80s sackmaster Mark Gastineau.
• Happy Veterans Day. Save a thought today for the NFL player who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
• Manning Face took a frightening turn after Peyton was denied the game ball following the Broncos win.
• Hot sports take from yesterday: The Ravens need to work on their Hail Mary defense.
• Helmet Catch II: Golden Tate with an amazing touchdown catch against the Falcons.
• Take comfort, Bucs fans: There's statistical evidence that the Bucs are the best bad team ever. So you got that going for you.
• Watch scientists unveil a primitive invisibility cloak. Don't get too excited - emphasis on primitive.
• A classic from the genre "toddlers accidentally using profanity." Obvious language alert.
• So was the University of Michigan president drunk during her halftime remarks? They're blaming microphone issues, but I'm unconvinced.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Marshall plays at Tulsa on Thursday night, which is the 33rd anniversary of the plane crash that killed 75 people returning from a game against East Carolina in 1970.
To honor the 75 victims, Marshall will wear a special “75” decal on its helmets for Thursday night's game against Tulsa:
Ryan Tannehill and the 4-4 Miami Dolphins head 272 miles northwest to take on Mike Glennon and the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an in-state, inter-conference matchup on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" at 8:30 p.m. ET. Last week provided both teams with overtime experience. Miami last played ten days ago on a Thursday night game against Cincinnati, in which they won in overtime thanks to a walk-off safety courtesy of Cameron Wake.
Tampa Bay went up 21-0 on the Seahawks in Seattle; however, the Seahawks rallied with 17 fourth quarter points to take the game on a field goal in overtime. While the Bucs are out of any postseason consideration, head coach Greg Schiano is trying to save his job and a number of young Tampa players will be out to prove they deserve theirs. Meanwhile, Miami is still in the thick of the playoff hunt as they are just a half game out of the final wild-card spot held by the Jets.
3 Things to Watch
Bucs' Rookie Trio
Tampa Bay had its best showing of the season last week thanks, in large part, to the superb play of three rookies on their offense. Quarterback Mike Glennon played his best game as a pro, completing 17 of 23 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions. Tight end Timothy Wright caught four passes last week, including a 12-yard touchdown. Mike James rushed for a career-high 158 yards on 28 carries and also threw a touchdown. If Tampa Bay has any chance of taking down the Dolphins they will need a similar performance from each of these young players.
By now, everyone is familiar will the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga. While neither player is currently on the team, you better believe that it will be the number one focus of the media underneath the bright lights of "Monday Night Football." It is something that will be discussed pre-game, at halftime and even after the game ends. It also has called into question the cohesiveness of the Miami locker room and head coach Joe Philbin's handling of the situation could ultimately determine if he loses the locker room and his players.
Dolphins' pass rush
Cameron Wake is coming off of a walk-off safety of Andy Dalton last Thursday night. It was Wake's third sack of the night. He leads Miami with 5.5 sacks, but the Dolphins have three other players with at least 2.5 sacks. In fact, opposite Wake on the defensive line is Olivier Vernon who has piled up 4.5 sacks this season. The Dolphins' defense ranks 10th in the NFL in total sacks with 25. If they can get pressure on Glennon, it will allow their secondary to add to their 11 interceptions, which is ninth in the NFL. The Buccaneers won't make it easy as they have a pretty solid offensive line, ranking among the best in sacks allowed with only 19.
Key Players for Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy, DTs
Against perhaps the NFL's worst offensive line, the Bucs big men will be key. Both have combined for five sacks this season, leading all other defenders in the front seven in sacks. McCoy is playing at a high level as he registered six total tackles last week. Without Richie Incognito the Dolphins will be especially vulnerable at the guard position. It will their responsibility to hold running back Lamar Miller in check, while still getting in the facing of quarterback Ryan Tannehill with a pass rush right up the middle. The Dolphins have allowed the most sacks in the league with 35 and a group consisting of journeymen guard Nate Garner, the young John Jerry and a pair of has-beens in tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie strike fear in no one.
Key Player for Miami: Brian Hartline, WR
With Darrelle Revis sure to put the clamps down on the struggling Mike Wallace, that should open up space for Hartline to be effective underneath. Ryan Tannehill has been looking Hartline's way a lot more lately, as he's averaging over seven targets per game in his last three contests. If the Dolphins are going to put up any kind of yardage in the passing game it will most likely be with Hartline.
While the Dolphins are 4-4, they are just an average team. They rank 21st in passing offense and 22nd in rushing offense, rushing defense and passing offense. This is a team with three of their wins coming by a combined 10 points. Despite the collapse, I like what I saw from Mike Glennon and the Bucs this week. This is the NFL and at some point, everyone is due for a win.
Tampa Bay 23, Miami 21
With the clock winding down in the Bengals-Ravens game on Sunday, Andy Dalton threw up a prayer of a pass to the end zone. After the ball was batted around a bit, it fell into the hands of A.J. Green, sending the game into overtime. It was a thing of beauty. Unfortunately for Cincy, they still lost in OT 17-20.
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:
7,997: AJ McCarron's Alabama school-record passing yards
The most underrated two-time national championship quarterback of all time now has the statistics his critics always points to. He passed John Parker Wilson (7,924) on Saturday against LSU to become Alabama's all-time leading passer. With his perfect play against the Tiger (179 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions), McCarron moved to 34-2 all-time as a starter and to within one win of Alabama's all-time wins leader (Jay Barker, 35). He has the stats, he has the wins and he has the talent — he should be the highest drafted Alabama quarterback in May since Richard Todd went in the first round in 1976. Nothing about AJ McCarron says "game manager," and it's time people started acknowledging it. Some more tidbits from Bama's impressive 38-17 win over LSU: Alabama moved to 71-3 under Nick Saban when leading at halftime and to 58-0 since 2008 when rushing for at least 140 yards.
62: Rushing yards by Oregon against Stanford
The Ducks entered Thursday night's showdown with Stanford averaging 301.6 yards rushing per game on 6.7 yards per carry in 2013. But for the second straight season, a stacked Cardinal front seven baffled the dynamic and explosive Ducks rushing attack. Oregon mustered just 62 yards rushing on 2.6 yards per carry in the 26-20 loss on The Farm. It was the first time since the season opener against LSU in 2011 the Ducks have been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing (95). Oregon posted season lows in total yards (312), yards per play (5.4), points scored (20) and first downs (17). News broke just minutes before the game on Thursday that quarterback Marcus Mariota had suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee, so the injury played a huge role in Oregon's struggles. Mariota is now 20-2 as a starter at Oregon with both losses coming at the hands of David Shaw and Stanford.
320: Auburn rushing yards per game in 2013
After 53 rushing attempts, 444 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a blowout win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Auburn now ranks third in the NCAA with 320.0 yards rushing per game. That is 15 more yards rushing per game under Gus Malzahn this season than the entire offense posted per game last season. Auburn totaled 305.0 yards of offense per game last year, ranking 118th nationally — out of 124 teams. Quarterback Nick Marshall carried for 214 yards against UT, posting the third-best rushing total by an Auburn quarterback in school history behind only Travis Tidwell (222 in 1946) and Cam Newton (217 in 2010). Marshall completed just three passes for 35 yards in the win and Auburn has now completed as many passes as offensive touchdowns scored (11) over the last two games. After scoring 55 against the Vols, Auburn is 17th nationally in scoring offense at 38.6 points per game after scoring just 18.7 per game a year ago — good for 114th nationally. Auburn controls its own destiny with games against Georgia and Alabama looming in the next few weeks.
Minus-69: Michigan rushing yards in the last two games
Michigan posted a school record minus-48 yards rushing last weekend in the ugly road loss to in-state rival Michigan State. That isn't all that shocking considering how good the Spartans defense has been all year. However, against a Nebraska defense that had allowed 516 rushing yards in its last two games, Michigan once again was held to negative rushing yards. The Maize and Blue totaled minus-21 yards rushing in the 17-13 loss to the Cornhuskers. The loss not only knocks Michigan completely out of the Legends Division race but it snapped the nation's longest home winning streak. Brady Hoke had won 20 consecutive games in The Big House until the Huskers upset the Wolverines on Saturday.
115: Aaron Murray SEC-record TD passes
Murray threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-6 cake walk over Appalachian State. He now how thrown more touchdown passes than any player in SEC history, passing Danny Wuerffel (114) for No. 1 all time. Murray is now the all-time SEC leader in passing touchdowns (115), passing yards (12,568) and total offense (12,885). The biggest thing left unfinished on Murray's resume is an SEC Championship. And with a little help from Ole Miss or Texas A&M (one of whom needs to beat Missouri) and a win over Auburn and Kentucky in the next two weeks, Murray will likely get his revenge match in the SEC Championship Game with Alabama.
1945: Last year Vanderbilt won in The Swamp
In fact, the 7-0 Vanderbilt win over Florida in 1945 was the first meeting between the two schools and, before Saturday's 34-17 victory, was the only time Vanderbilt had won in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Commodores hadn't topped the Gators anywhere since 1988 (22 games) and are only 9-35-2 all-time against the Gators. Vanderbilt has now beaten Georgia and Florida in the same season for the first time in school history and it could be devastating for Will Muschamp. The Gators are 4-5 and in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1990. Florida must win two of the last three games: at South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State. The Dores have to win only one of three to make it to an unprecedented third consecutive bowl: Kentucky, at Tennesse and Wake Forest.
1994: Last year Duke had a winning record
David Cutcliffe took Duke to a bowl game last season for the first time since 1994. With an impressive home win over NC State 38-20, Duke moves to 7-2 on the year and is guaranteed a winning record for the first time since… 1994. The Blue Devils will go to back-to-back bowls for the first time in school history, and after winning five straight, has a chance to win the Coastal Division. Duke won't leave the state the rest of the regular season as it hosts Miami and visits Wake Forest and North Carolina to finish the year. Cutcliffe needs to be mentioned among Art Briles, Gus Malzahn and Gary Pinkel as a National Coach of the Year candidate.
1: Frank Beamer QBs to throw for 300 yards in back-to-back games
Beamer has coached at Virginia Tech for 27 years and has won 222 games, lost 107 times and tied twice. He has coached in 20 consecutive bowl games, has won seven conference championships and has had multiple Offensive Players of the Year under center (Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, Bryan Randall, Jim Druckenmiller). But until Saturday's whipping of Miami, he had never had a quarterback throw for at least 300 yards in back-to-back games. And off all the great quarterbacks he has had, it's the embattled and turnover-prone Logan Thomas who got it done by throwing for 386 yards in the 42-24 win over the Canes. He threw for 391 yards in the road loss to Boston College last weekend. The race in the ACC Coastal is now wide open as four teams are tied with two conference losses with three weeks to play.
37.5: USC Pac-12 scoring offense under Ed Orgeron
In three years as a head coach at Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron's offense scored 30 points or more once (38, Northwestern State). In four Pac-12 games as the interim head coach at USC, Orgeron's team has scored at least 30 points three times and is averaging 37.5 points per game. Orgeron is unbeaten in conference play (4-0) as the head coach after topping Cal 62-28 this weekend. The Trojans posted 499 yards of offense and scored three times on special teams. USC sits at 4-2 in the league and is one game behind Arizona State in the Pac-12 South standings.
To celebrate Movember Topps has put out a great Moustache infographic, combining some cool stache history and a few of their finest baseball cards. The card company is even selling moustache posters.
Let this be a lesson to you, kids. Never drop acid and go to a football game. Things can get weird really fast.
While Stanford and Baylor picked up signature wins, Alabama ended up as one of the big winners in Sunday’s release of the BCS rankings.
At No. 1, the Crimson Tide have nowhere to go, but the win over LSU strengthened Alabama’s slot at No. 1. The Tide were a unanimous No. 1 in the Harris poll and got all but four first-place votes in the coaches’ poll. The win over LSU also returned Alabama to the No. 1 spot in the computer average after spending
Of course, all that really matters in the BCS is being in the top two spots. As expected, Florida State remained at No. 2 and tightened its grip on the championship game as Oregon slipped to No. 6 after the loss to Stanford.
Florida State. The conventional wisdom was that an undefeated Oregon would jump Florida State in the BCS standings. The Seminoles no longer have that concern. The Ducks’ 26-20 loss to Stanford on Thursday all but ensures FSU will be in the national championship game as long as it remains undefeated. The Crimson Tide and Seminoles are the only teams with a BCS average better than 0.900. For each of the three previous BCS rankings, three teams were better than 0.900.
Stanford. The win over Oregon not only kept Stanford in the national championship race, it helped the Cardinal stay ahead of undefeated Baylor despite the Bears' win over Oklahoma. One-loss Stanford is ranked one spot behind Baylor in both the coaches’ and Harris polls, but the computers have Stanford third. Baylor is fifth in the computer average.
Baylor. The Bears picked up their signature win of the season so far with a 41-12 victory over Oklahoma, but Baylor remaind behind Stanford. Baylor moved up from No. 6 to No. 5, but Stanford remained one spot ahead thanks to a stronger win over then-No. 2 Oregon. Stanford will not face a top-25 team until the Pac-12 championship game while Baylor still faces No. 12 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Texas. With a minuscule gap between the two, Baylor has little reason to worry about Stanford as long as the Bears remain undefeated.
Key Games this Week
No. 4 Stanford at USC. After Notre Dame’s loss to Pittsburgh, Stanford’s road trip against a hot USC team could be the toughest remaining matchup for the Cardinal. After facing the Trojans in Los Angeles, Stanford faces Cal and Notre Dame in Palo Alto.
No. 25 Georgia at No. 7 Auburn. The Tigers need this game to set up an Iron Bowl matchup for the SEC West. BCS-wise, Auburn could set itself up as an attractive at-large team if the Tigers beat Georgia and still miss out on the SEC championship game. If the Sugar Bowl loses Alabama to the title game, a two-loss Auburn would be a nice consolation prize.
Ball State at No. 15 Northern Illinois. The Huskies’ slim chance to start moving past Fresno State in the BCS standings begins Wednesday against their main challenger in the MAC West. Ball State is 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the league, but the odds of the Cardinals sneaking into the BCS as a one-loss MAC team (as NIU did last year) are remote. Ball State is unranked and its loss was to North Texas.
• Fresno State checked in at No. 14, one spot ahead of Northern Illinois and three spots ahead of American Athletic Conference leader UCF. The Bulldogs would be an automatic bid if the season ended today. However, Fresno State is creeping closer to the top 12, which would guarantee an automatic BCS bid no matter where the automatic-qualifying conference champions finish. The Bulldogs’ lead over the Huskies is also significant — Fresno has a BCS average of 0.4317 and NIU has a BCS average of 0.3505. The Huskies may have too much ground to make up against a Fresno team that may face Boise State in a Mountain West championship game.
• Five SEC teams remain eligible for a BCS at-large bid. After Alabama, they include No. 7 Auburn, No. 9 Missouri, No. 10 South Carolina and No. 11 Texas A&M. The Pac-12 has three (No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Oregon, No. 13 UCLA). No other league has more than two.
• UCF’s win over Houston was enough to put the Knights ahead of Louisville even though the Knights handed the Cardinals their only loss of the season. UCF’s biggest gains were in the in the computer average where the Knights moved from No. 23 to No. 16. Louisville remains ranked five spots ahead of UCF in both the coaches’ and Harris polls.
• Is Clemson iron-clad for a BCS bid? With Notre Dame out of the way and at-large teams from the Big Ten and Big 12 less attractive than Clemson, it’s looking more likely the Tigers could be an at-large BCS bid. With Clemson at No. 7 even a loss to South Carolina wouldn’t necessarily knock the Tigers out of the top 14. Clemson can ill-afford upsets in the ACC and Big Ten championship games, and, of course, a second ACC loss.
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.
Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is presented each year by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be a graduating senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class. As a leading financial services company, Transamerica takes pride in being there for those moments when our customers say, “It’s real now.” Moments like the birth of a new baby, the opening of a new business, college acceptance, retirement, and other key milestones. By showing our support for the young men on the Top 30 watch list, we look forward to seeing them thrill fans around the country and experience moments during the season and beyond when they say, “It’s real now.”
1. AJ McCarron, Alabama
No candidate for the Golden Arm Award may have won a bigger game this week than Alabama’s AJ McCarron. The two-time BCS champion quarterback was once again calm and steady in the biggest game to date this season and helped Alabama power their way past LSU in Tuscaloosa to stay on top of the SEC West and the polls. McCarron completed 14 of 20 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns and did not throw an interception against the Tigers in a 38-17 victory.
2. Derek Carr, Fresno State
Fresno State was met with a challenge early on at Wyoming, but Derek Carr and the Bulldogs rose to the challenge. Carr completed 33 of 46 pass attempts for 360 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the second half as Fresno State scored 48 unanswered points after a 10-0 deficit in the second quarter. Carr helped keep the BCS dream alive for Fresno State, improving the season record to 9-0 with just two games to play before a Mountain West Conference championship game, which Fresno State is on pace to host.
3. Keith Price, Washington
Washington’s Keith Price had a big day in the stat sheet as the Huskies blew by Colorado in the Pac-12. Price completed 22 of 29 pass attempts for 312 yards and two touchdowns and he also rushed for two more touchdowns in the most productive day among the Golden Arm Award candidates.
4. Keith Wenning, Ball State
Keith Wenning got an early jump on the action with a weeknight game. No matter the day of the week, Wenning comes to play. Against Central Michigan, Wenning once again went to work by completing 20 of 29 passes for 299 yards and four touchdowns as Ball State picked up a 44-24 victory. Next up for Wenning and Ball State is a huge division match-up with fellow Golden Arm Award candidate Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois.
5. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Georgia’s Aaron Murray once again rewrote the record books with his performance against Appalachian State. Murray tied and then moved past former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel’s SEC career record with his 114th and 115th career touchdown passes. In addition to setting the new SEC career record, Murray also passed for 281 yards as Georgia pulled away from Appalachian State.
Sponsored by Transamerica.
As many of his teammates left school early to go to the NFL Draft, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley remained in Tuscaloosa for an extra year of seasoning.
That experience was apparent Saturday in the Crimson Tide’s biggest win of the season to date. Dominant defensive performances for Alabama aren’t rare, but Mosley led one of the Tide’s best efforts of the season in the 38-17 win over LSU.
Mosley led Alabama with 12 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss, earning Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors. As the Alabama front seven kept the pressure on quarterback Zach Mettenberger, Mosley also played well in pass coverage with two pass breakups.
The veteran linebacker also made many of the key adjustments and calls on the field as Alabama bottled up the LSU run game for 43 yards.
“They did a good job of scheming all over,” LSU running back Jeremy Hill said. “They made the right adjustments when we made our checks. They just did a great job scheming us up tonight. They played physical at the line of scrimmage. They held on to our blocks, and when we got to the line of scrimmage they tried to get off those blocks.”
Athlon Sports Week 11 National Awards
National Player of the Week: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Mosley was a force for an Alabama defense that limited LSU to a season-low 284 yards and two touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s 38-17 win in Tuscaloosa. Mosley, a senior linebacker, recorded a game-high 12 tackles (including 1.5 for a loss) and had two pass break-ups to spearhead the Bama defense. He leads the Tide in tackles with 71 — 23 more than anyone else on the team.
National Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Marshall, Auburn
On the Tigers’ first possession against Tennessee, Gus Malzahn called four straight pass plays. The result was a punt. Wisely, Malzahn decided to let Marshall’s legs do the work. The electric quarterback rushed for 214 yards on only 14 carries (15.3 ypc) as the Tigers racked up 444 rushing yards in a 55-23 win in Knoxville. Marshall now has three games with a least 100 yards rushing and three games with at least 200 yards passing — including one when he accomplished both, at Texas A&M
National Freshman of the Week: Myles Jack, UCLA
In a key road division win, UCLA star freshman linebacker Myles Jack posted one of the most impressive stat lines of the season. He is 14th in the league in tackles and fourth among freshmen after posting eight tackles, one for loss, in addition to forcing fumble against a stellar Arizona rushing attack. But what made this performance special was the fact that he played both ways, rushing six times for 120 yards and a 66-yard touchdown. It was an old-school performance and maybe Jim L. Mora has found a stopgap for his depleted running back corps. Jack may have put himself in the lead for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year with his performance on the road Saturday night.
National Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford
If the Cardinal defense continues on its torrid pace over the final month of the season, Mason might be a lock for the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach. Stanford totally stuffed the Ducks, holding Oregon scoreless for the first 50 minutes of play on Thursday night. Mason's unit held OU to less than 100 yards rushing (62) for the first time since LSU held the Ducks to 95 yards in the 2011 season opener. Stanford has 15 sacks in the last three games and has given up a total of 42 points to Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State combined over that span.
Athlon Sports Conference Players of the Week
Offense: Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Defense: Ray Vinopal, Pittsburgh
Freshman: DeVon Edwards, Duke
Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State
Offense: John Hubert, Kansas State
Defense: Desmond Jackson, Texas
Freshman: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Coordinator: Phil Bennett, Baylor
Offense: James White, Wisconsin
Defense: Randy Gregory, Nebraska
Freshman: Maxx Williams, Minnesota
Coordinator: John Papuchis, Nebraska
Offense: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
Defense: Shayne Skov, Stanford
Freshman: Myles Jack, UCLA
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford
Offense: Nick Marshall, Auburn
Defense: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Freshman: Maty Mauk, Missouri
Coordinator: Kirby Smart, Alabama