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  • 20 things you need to know from Saturday’s action

    Kenny Hilliard

    - Well, that didn’t take long. We started the weekend wondering who, if anyone, from the SEC’s middle class would jump up and bite someone in the conference’s upper-echelon. South Carolina gave it a valiant effort, throwing into the end zone for a shot at a tying or winning touchdown at Auburn, but LSU got it done, beating No. 3 Ole Miss 10-7 in Baton Rouge. LSU out-gained Ole Miss 406-313 and gained seven more first downs (22-15) than Ole Miss, managing to win despite losing the turnover battle 4-1. And about that one turnover LSU did force? That came after a delay of game penalty with nine seconds left in the game, which changed Hugh Freeze’s mind to throw for a potential game-winning touchdown from the 30 rather than try a 47-yard field goal with a freshman kicker. Bo Wallace threw into coverage and it was intercepted.

    Shake it off, Ole Miss. You’ve got Auburn at home in a week.

    - Michigan State mauls Michigan… again. We also wrote on Friday that any sort of ninth-inning rally by Brady Hoke had to include a win at Michigan State.

    Spartans 35, Wolverines 11.

    Sadly, it was a vintage Hoke vs. Dantonio game, as Michigan turned it over three times, ran for just 2.3 yards a carry and didn’t score a touchdown until it fell behind 28-3.

    Make sure you see Mark Dantonio’s rant after the game. “We shoved it up their…”

    These types of demonstrations tend to work better when you’re not 3-4 and riding a “five losses in six games” streak against your quote-unquote little brother.

    UM-SPIKE

    Sparty fans got off quite the troll job on Hoke during the game.

    - Dana Holgorsen, Big 12 Coach of the Year? It wasn’t just that West Virginia went to Stillwater and won by 24, it was the way they did it. The Mountaineers ran for 210 yards on nearly five yards a pop with a 60/40 run-pass split. Holgo was able to lean on the run knowing his team could bully Oklahoma State and rely on his defense, and it worked.

    West Virginia is now firmly in control of its destiny to win the Big 12. Its only loss (Oklahoma) has two losses, it owns the tiebreaker over Baylor, and it gets both TCU (next week) and Kansas State (Nov. 22) at home, with its only road games at Iowa State and Texas.

    - Lane Kiffin’s return to Neyland Stadium went well. Lane’s first play from scrimmage in his glorious return was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Blake Sims to Amari Cooper. The Tide’s first three drives traveled a total of 249 yards, and all went for touchdowns. Alabama beat Tennessee 34-20, racking up 469 yards with only six players touching the ball. Although, when one of those players is Cooper (nine grabs for 224 yards and two scores), I guess six the variety you need.

    - No, seriously, how about some love for Doug Meacham?  TCU became the first team to hit the 80-point mark in a conference game, obliterating Texas Tech 82-27 in Fort Worth. Trevone Boykin completed 22-of-39 passes for 433 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions, the running game produced 305 yards on 7.4 yards per carry, and 13 different players caught passes.

    This was actually a close game for a while. Texas Tech scored a minute into the game, led again at 10-7, and was within 24-17 through one. And then TCU won the final three quarters 58-10.

    While we’re at it, how about some love for Sonny Cumbie as well? Ten years ago Cumbie quarterbacked Texas Tech to a 70-35 win over TCU, the most points a Gary Patterson-coached team has ever allowed. And now today he helped TCU set a Texas Tech-opponent record.

    Call me crazy, but the fact that Texas Tech scored 10 points in the final three quarters – and seven of those came in garbage time – and this stat below bother me more than the 82 points.

    - Who’s taken his program farther in a year and change, Mark Stoops or Butch Jones? The schedules haven’t been remotely similar – Butch has played four top ten teams in eight games this season, and 12 in his first 20 – but I think I’d take Stoops at this point. Kentucky stood tall against the No. 1 team in the country, and saw its comeback effort thwarted by a bizarre special teams play.

    - Crazy Box Score of the Week, Part I Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss combined for 802 passing yards and minus-1 rushing yards in a 31-20 Bulldogs win.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.24.37 AM

    - Let’s hope every James Franklin-Urban Meyer game is as entertaining as the first one. Ohio State out-scored Penn State 17-0 in the first half, then Penn State out-scored Ohio State 24-0 over the second half and the top of the first overtime, only to see Ohio State close the game on a 14-0 run. Fittingly, the game ended on a sack by one of Larry Johnson’s guys in his return to Happy Valley.

    - Our Inaugural Band of the Week Award Goes To: Penn State.

    - It wasn’t just that Texas got shutout by Kansas State, it was how it happened. Despite gaining only 196 yards of total offense on the day, the Longhorns reached K-State territory six times in eight drives and never so much as attempted a field goal. That just does not compute. One drive ended in a turnover and another in a turnover on downs, and the other four were punts.

    - Fake Bo Pelini and Real Rutgers had a nice conversation during the Nebraska-Rutgers game. Nebraska won 42-24 as Ameer Abdullah went off for 225 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

    In case you missed it, Arkansas threw a fat guy touchdown pass against UAB.

    - Tim Beckman earned his first Big Ten home win… ever. It may have taken 10 tries, but Beckman earned Big Ten home win No. 1 with a 28-24 upset of 6-1 Minnesota. The Illini were out-gained 411-263 and notched the winning score on a 12-yard fumble return touchdown.

    - Justin Fuente’s in person audition for the SMU job went well. Memphis blasted SMU 48-10, one week after the Mustangs were beaten 41-3 by Cincinnati in Tommy Tuberville’s audition. For the year, the 0-7 Ponies have been outscored 336-49.

    - Crazy Box Score of the Week, Part II We’ll stay in Conference USA, where Old Dominion and Western Kentucky combined for 1,244 total yards, 8.58 yards per play, 61 first downs and 117 points in a 66-51 Hilltoppers win.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.38.42 AM

    - Seemingly every USC game is a different kind of bonkers. Sark’s bunch beat Stanford by holding them scoreless on (approximately) 25 penetrations inside the 30, then turned around and lost to Boston College. Then they lost to Arizona State on a Hail Mary, and followed that up by nearly giving the Arizona game away before escaping on a missed field goal. This week the Trojans managed to lose after getting stuffed on 4th-and-2 late in the fourth quarter and then allowing Utah to march 73 yards in 11 plays to throw a game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds remaining.

    - You’ve got to feel for Mike MacIntyre. Colorado fought back from a 31-14 deficit to take a 37-34 double-overtime lead over UCLA before falling 40-37. The 2-5 Buffaloes have now lost twice in double overtime, and suffered a 36-31 setback to Oregon State.

    - Pittsburgh had the worst first quarter ever. The Panthers wore throwback helmets honoring the Tony Dorsett era and then went out and started the game like this:

    Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.48.32 AM

    Shockingly, Pittsburgh never recovered from falling in a 28-0 hole, allowing Georgia Tech to run for 465 yards in a 56-28 romp. The Panthers are now 4-4 after a 3-0 start.

    - There is now a five-way tie for second place in the ACC Coastal. What the SEC West represents in excellence, the ACC Coastal does in mediocrity.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.51.32 AM

    - Kansas State defensive lineman Terrell Clinkscales is the most confident man in college football.

    - Georgia Southern shredded Georgia State in their first-ever meeting. Georgia Southern entered Saturday leading the nation with 370 rushing yards per game. Georgia State ranked 120th nationally with 240 rushing yards allowed per game. So what happens when irresistible force meets movable object? Eleven Eagles runners combined for 63 carries for 613 yards and 10 touchdowns in a 69-43 win.

    Georgia Southern now has more wins over FBS programs inside the Georgia Dome than Georgia State does. The Georgia Dome is Georgia State’s home stadium.

  • Re-handicapping the race of one-loss teams

    horse race

    The College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first set of (way too early, entirely unnecessary) Top 25 rankings on Tuesday night. With one more week of data to analyze, placing the contenders and pseudo-contenders into groups is a little bit easier.

    We can assume undefeateds Mississippi State and Florida State will claim the top two spots, but how does the race for the other two spots size up? As you’ll see, a full dozen teams have played themselves into position to where they feel like they have relative control of their own destiny. Obviously, there are only four golden tickets in existence, and two of them are taken at the moment. We can’t wait to see how the committee ranks them on Tuesday, and how the next six weeks are going to play out.

    This is going to be fun.

    “Win out and you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

    Ole Miss (7-1 record, No. 3 in latest AP poll)
    This week:
     Lost at LSU, 10-7
    The case for: The only team this season to beat Alabama, owns a solid neutral-site non-conference win over Boise State, dominant in wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee. Has a very strong case for the best defense in the country. Gets Auburn this week.
    The case against: Has to turn around and play Auburn this week. Getting Tennessee and Vanderbilt from the SEC East will do them no favors. Other contenders will have better non-conference wins.

    Auburn (6-1 record, No. 5 in latest AP poll)
    This week:
    Beat South Carolina, 42-35
    The case for:
    Thursday night win at Kansas State is arguably the most impressive non-conference win in the nation, and certainly in the SEC. Still has more chances to impress than anyone in college football with games against Ole Miss, Alabama and Georgia, plus South Carolina and Texas A&M.
    The case against: Will fall behind Mississippi State in the event of a loss by the Bulldogs. Other than that, not much of one. Next week’s game at Ole Miss is huge, obviously.

    Alabama (6-1, No. 7)
    This week: Won at Tennessee, 34-20
    The case for: With games against No. 1 Mississippi State and No. 5 Auburn waiting (plus LSU) Alabama has more chances to impress than the rest of their competition. And both must come to Tuscaloosa, where they’ve racked up 1,247 yards and 101 points in their last two games. A 10-point neutral site win over West Virginia has aged like Apple stock.
    The case against: A 10-point neutral-site, non-conference win over a ranked team is a win the committee will respect. Problem is, it’s the Tide’s only win over a ranked team so far.

    Oregon (7-1, No. 6)
    This week:
     Beat California in Santa Clara, 59-41
    The case for: Has a strong argument for best non-conference win in college football with 19-point win over otherwise-undefeated Michigan State. Blew out UCLA and Washington. When it’s all said and done, Ducks could have wins over five teams that were ranked at the time. Loss to Arizona could fall under injury considerations in the eyes of the committee.
    The case against: Lost at home, unlike other one-loss front-runners Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama, and TCU.

    Ohio State (6-1, No. 13)
    This week:
    Won at Penn State, 31-24 in double overtime
    The case for:
     This team looked every bit like a top four team since loss to Virginia Tech, beating likely bowl teams Cincinnati, Maryland and Rutgers by nearly 30 points per game, until struggling with Penn State. Still, a conference win on the road is a conference win on the road. Chance to earn impressive road win at Michigan State. Play of J.T. Barrett since Virginia Tech loss creates a discussion point for the committee.
    The case against: That Virginia Tech loss has aged like a carton of milk on a Las Vegas sidewalk in the middle of July.

    Notre Dame (6-1, No. 7)
    This week:
     Off
    The case for: Walked into the house of the defending national champions and more than held their own. Earned a hard-fought win over Stanford. Challenging remaining schedule (at No. 14 Arizona State, vs. Louisville, at No. 20 USC) leaves plenty of opportunities to impress the committee.
    The case against: Best win so far is actually a loss. First-half schedule did pan out as planned with Michigan and North Carolina going belly up. Has not won a true road game this season.

    Georgia (6-1, No. 9)
    This week:
     Off
    The case for: Odds on favorite to win SEC East, placing them 60 minutes away from an SEC championship. Win over Clemson gets more impressive by the week. Still has chance to earn major win over Auburn, and a quality win over Georgia Tech. Nov. 8 trip to Kentucky is the only true road game left on the schedule.
    The case against: Win over Clemson was before Deshaun Watson took control of the Tigers’ offense. Loss at South Carolina looks less forgivable now than it seemed at the time.

    Michigan State (6-1, No. 8)
    This week:
     Beat Michigan in East Lansing, 35-11
    The case for: Should earn major brownie points from the committee for traveling to Oregon. Held a two-score lead in every game this season. Gets Ohio State at home, plus possible Big Ten championship berth.
    The case against: Most, and only, impressive win so far is five-point defeat of Nebraska at home. Oregon loss means only chance for impressive win in an opponent’s stadium is at Maryland.

    Kansas State (6-1, No. 11)
    This week:
     Beat Texas in Manhattan, 23-0
    The case for: K-State is alone in first place in the Big 12, the only team in the conference still with a chance to run the table. The list of teams to win in Norman during the Stoops tenure is short, and Kansas State has now done it in two straight trips. Still has games with Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Baylor remaining, the latter three on the road. The loss to Auburn will play better during selection committee discussions than it would in the BCS era.
    The case against: Loss to Auburn means Kansas State’s only non-conference wins are Stephen F. Austin and UTEP.

    TCU (6-1, No. 10)
    This week:
     Crushed Texas Tech in Fort Worth, 82-27
    The case for: Win over Minnesota is the best non-conference win by a Big 12 team. Frogs’ play against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech makes fourth quarter against Baylor look like a major aberration. Gets Kansas State at home.
    The case against: Baylor loss means TCU’s only chance for an impressive road victory is at West Virginia. Light closing schedule (at Kansas, at Texas, vs. Iowa State) doesn’t leave opportunity to impress after mid-November. That said, I really think the committee will like this team.

    Utah (6-1, No. 19)
    This week:
    Beat USC, 24-21
    The case for: Four wins over Power Five opponents, three of which came on the road. Has games with No. 17 Arizona State, No. 9 Oregon, No. 23 Stanford and No. 16 Arizona coming consecutively, and is fresh off a win over No. 22 USC. This is a team that the committee should like, but, then again, so are all these teams.
    The case against: Those three road Power Five wins are against Michigan, UCLA and Oregon State. Loss to Washington State, in which Utes held 21-0 lead and lost 28-27, won’t look good in front of the committee.

    Arizona State (6-1, No. 14)
    The case for: Out-Stanforded Stanford in 26-10 win, giving the Sun Devils two wins over currently ranked teams. Still has home games with Utah and Notre Dame, plus trips to Arizona and a potential date with Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship. Playing much better defense over the past two weeks.
    The case against: 62-27 home loss to UCLA was the very definition of ugly at the time, and looks worse now. So bad was that loss that Arizona State, playing without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly that night, can not use the injury consideration asterisk that Oregon and Ohio State will make their proverbial cases with.

    “You’re going to need some help.”

    Arizona (6-1, No. 15)
    This week:
     Beat Washington State in Pullman, 59-37
    The case for: Beat Oregon in Eugene. Only loss came on a missed field goal in crunch time. Beat Oregon in Eugene. Still has chances for impressive wins at UCLA (although the value is falling here), vs. Washington, at Utah and vs. Arizona State. Beat Oregon in Eugene.
    The case against: The non-conference slate is severely lacking compared to the rest of the Pac-12 contenders, which makes Arizona the most vulnerable to the Pac-12’s cannibalistic tendencies.

    Baylor (6-1, No. 12)
    This week:
     Off
    The case for: Improbable as it was, this is still the team that beat TCU. Still has games with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State ahead, the latter two in Waco.
    The case against: Non-conference schedule of SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo is essentially begging for a slap on the wrist from the committee.

    “We’re glad you’re here, now go ahead and take a seat at the back of the room.”

    Nebraska (7-1, No. 16)
    This week:
     Beat Rutgers in Lincoln, 42-24
    The case for: Favorite for Big Ten West championship, one upset away from becoming Big Ten champion.
    The case against: Loss to Michigan State means Huskers may not beat a ranked team until Big Ten championship. Best non-conference win was Miami. Needed Heisman-worthy play by Ameer Abdullah to avoid overtime with McNeese State..

    Duke (6-1, unranked)
    This week:
     Off
    The case for: If they can win out and beat an undefeated Florida State in the ACC championship….
    The case against: Will likely finish regular season with zero wins over ranked teams. Played Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane in non-conference. Even if they win the ACC Coastal, it’s still the ACC Coastal. Is Duke.

  • Mark Dantonio goes on epic rant: “We shoved it up their…”

    dantoniobanner

    Mark Dantonio is one of those stoic major college coaches that rarely breaks character in front of the cameras. You always know what to expect, unless the cameras happen to catch him dancing in the locker room after a big win.

    But at his press conference after their win over Michigan, the proverbial pot started to boil over a touch.

    To start off, Michigan came out on the field and planted a stake on Sparty’s turf, and leading up to the game there was plenty of “little brother” talk apparently coming from the direction of Ann Arbor.

    So with about a minute to play and a 17 point lead, Dantonio had the choice to kick a field goal or throw some salt in the gaping wound and score a touchdown. They punched one in to widen the margin of victory and when Dantonio was asked about the decision at the post game presser, he was anything but apologetic.

    “You might as well come out and say what you’re really feeling at some point in time, because I can only be diplomatic for so long,” Dantonio responded.

    “The ‘little brother stuff,’ all the disrespect…it didn’t have to go in that direction. We tried to handle ourselves with composure, and that doesn’t come from the coach, it comes from the program.”

    “You know, throwing the stake down in our back yard out here, coming out here like they’re all that it got shoved up their…up their…shoved up…it got shoved the last minute and a half, and we’re not going to pull off of that.”

    “I was going to line up and kick a field goal, but that wasn’t the M.O. but if our guys could get it in, we were going to get it in.”

    This is one of those rants that fans of both sides will remember for years to come.

  • Video: Arkansas lineman throws a fat guy touchdown pass

    Bret Bielema is letting it all hang out today against UAB.

    Up 21-0 midway through the second quarter, the Hogs faced a fourth and goal. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney lined the Razorbacks up in an exotic formation, and then called for junior offensive tackle Sebastian Tretola to throw the ball out of the shotgun. It worked, as Tretola found long-snapper Alan D’Appollonio for a six-yard score.

    Needless to say, it was the first touchdown pass of Tretola’s career.

    Short version from Youtube:

  • Maryland coaches could have bonuses wiped out for poor classroom performance

    Washington Post

    Washington Post

    In 2011, Randy Edsall signed a six-year contract with Maryland paying him $2 million a year, with a $100,000 for winning a conference championship (ACC then, Big Ten now), $100,000 for boosting the Terps’ season-ticket sales by 25 percent or more in a year, and another $100,000 for a 50 percent or more increase in Byrd Stadium suite rentals.

    And now, halfway into the deal, Edsall could hit those marks and see his bonuses wiped away for poor classroom performance.

    On Friday, the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a new policy tying bonuses to coaches and athletics directors to hitting classroom benchmarks. It is believed to be the first policy of its kind in college athletics, according to the Baltimore Sun.

    “I think the notion is, if we’re going to give a coach a performance bonus, that coach ought to meet minimum academic standards or else the coach really does not merit a performance bonus,” David Kinkopf, one of the forces behind the new policy, said when the new clause passed the organization and compensation committee two weeks ago.

    The policy applies to all five of Maryland’s public Division I institutions (Towson, Coppin State, UM-Baltimore County, in addition to the flagship), and has the support of Maryland athletics director Kevin Anderson, as well as the athletics directors at Coppin State and UMBC, and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. From the sounds of it, the policy will apply to Edsall’s assistants, his successor, his successor’s successor, and so on. Good luck to the first coach (or, more appropriately, agent) that tries to fight this.

    Bonuses will now be tied to each team’s single-year APR score. Maryland posted a 950 last season – 930 is a passing score – which ranked 132nd among all Division I football programs in the most recent APR release.

    Maryland became one of the first schools to offer lifetime scholarships to its athletes, rather than the standard one-year contract.

    “I think this is another step for Maryland to be in the vanguard on issues of intercollegiate athletics,” board member and  former U.S. Rep. Tom McMillen said. “They were a leader on guaranteed scholarships and now they are a leader in academic accountability.”

    Though Maryland is believed to be the first state to enact this plan, it most certainly won’t be the last.