FootballScoop's Division II Weekend Primer
One-hundred sixty-two teams started and 24 remain. The Division II playoffs are here. Below is everything you need to know about the first round of the Division II playoffs.
No. 5 Slippery Rock (9-2) at No. 4 Winston-Salem (9-1)
No. 6 American International (9-2) at No. 3 West Chester (10-1)
No. 5 Newberry (9-2) at No. 4 Carson-Newman (9-2)
No. 6 Tuskegee (8-2) at No. 3 North Alabama (8-2)
No. 5 Emporia State (9-1) at No. 4 Minnesota Duluth (10-1)
No. 6 St. Cloud State (10-1) at No. 3 Henderson State (11-0)
No. 5 Saginaw Valley (9-2) at No. 4 Grand Valley State (9-2)
No. 6 West Texas A&M (9-2) at No. 3 Indianapolis (10-1)
Three Games Worth Watching:
Slippery Rock at Winston-Salem: Tough couple weeks for Winston-Salem. After emerging as conference champions following last week's ugly melee with Virginia State, the Rams' total defense gets to face a Slippery Rock offense that ranks among the top five nationally in total offense, passing offense and scoring offense.
West Texas A&M at Indianapolis: Tough draw for WT, whose reward for making the playoffs is a road trip from the Texas Panhandle to Indy. Another immovable object/irresistible force game, Indianapolis allows the second fewest passing yards per game in Division II (142.9 yards per game), while West Texas A&M's 401 passing yards per game are the second most in Division II.
St. Cloud State at Henderson State: Congratulations on your undefeated regular season, Henderson State, but that won't earn you a first-round bye. St. Cloud State will need its fourth-best turnover margin (1.7 per game) to again come up big against Division II's top-ranked total, passing and scoring offense.
FootballScoop's FCS Weekend Primer
Division II and Division II begin their postseasons this weekend (view each bracket here), but there's still one weekend of regular season action in FCS. Make your final arguments now because Selection Sunday beckons.
The Sports Network Top 10
1. North Dakota State (10-0) - vs. South Dakota
2. Eastern Illinois (10-1) - at Tennessee-Martin
3. Eastern Washington (9-2) - vs. Portland State
4. Maine (10-1) - at No. 21 New Hampshire
5. Montana (9-2) - at No. 13 Montana State
6. McNeese State (9-2) - vs. Lamar
7. Towson (9-2) - vs. James Madison
8. Southeastern Louisiana (10-2) - defeated Nicholls State, 57-27
9. Sam Houston State (8-3) - at Central Arkansas
10. Northern Arizona (8-2) - at No. 20 Southern Utah
Games to Watch:
No. 5 Montana (9-2) at No. 13 Montana State (7-4) - This game is always big, but it's basically a playoff game for one of these teams with the Big Sky title out of reach. Less than three weeks ago Montana State was 7-2 and tied for first in the Big Sky. Now they need to beat the No. 5 team in the country to avoid ending their season on a three-game skid.
No. 10 Northern Arizona (8-2) at No. 20 Southern Utah (8-3) - Let's raise a glass to the Thunderbirds and head coach Ed Lamb. In year two as members in arguably FCS's toughest conference, Southern Utah has a shot at nine wins (a four-win jump from last season) and the first FCS playoffs berth in school history.
Lafayette (4-6) at No. 17 Lehigh (8-2) - This one's an odd bird on this final weekend: a game with conference title implications. You wouldn't guess it by their four win gap, and especially not after Lafayette's 1-5 start, but those same Leopards took down previously-undefeated Fordham last week, 27-14. And at 148 meetings and counting, it's the most-played rivalry in college football history.
The Top Ten Things to Watch For on a Loaded Saturday
1. Is Baylor the Big 12's best team since 2009? - The trends say Baylor has no business winning this game. They've lost 34 straight road games against ranked opponents. A top five Big 12 team has seen its shot at a perfect record and national title berth end in a November road game under the lights, a trend both Baylor and Oklahoma State have a hand in: Baylor as the spoiler in 2012 and Oklahoma State as the spoiled in 2011. If the Bears emerge from Stillwater unblemished, there's a 93.7% chance they're winning out - TCU doesn't have the offense to keep up, and Texas isn't winning in Waco. No Big 12 team has done that since Texas in 2009.
2. We could know the Pac-12 South champion by Saturday night - Throughout the offseason, Todd Graham talked Rose Bowl. A lot. All day, every day, he had his team thinking Rose Bowl. The Sun Devils will go to the Rose Bowl Saturday afternoon for a shot to return there on New Year's Day. A win over UCLA wraps up Arizona State's first Pac-12 South title and a trip (probably) to Eugene with the Granddaddy on the line.
3. The most Big Ten game ever - It doesn't get any more B1G than this: temperatures in the low 20's, Wisconsin and Minnesota battling for Paul Bunyan's Axe, first team to 250 rushing yards wins. Maybe if we're lucky the football gods will give us a snowstorm in the second half.
4. Missouri's strange march to the SEC title game - Here's how you know Missouri is an odd fit in the SEC East: the Tigers are still playing conference games. While SEC East heavies Florida, South Carolina and Georgia are all but done with their conference seasons (Georgia does host Kentucky on Saturday, though), Missouri still has a fight on its hands to get to Atlanta. A tough two-week swing begins with a trip to Oxford on Saturday to meet an Ole Miss team riding a four-game winning streak, and boasts a legitimate claim to be the best three-loss team in college football. Pro tip, Tigers: if you want to fit in in this conference, you should be playing Mississippi Valley State this week, not Ole Miss.
5. Texas A&M at LSU -
6. Vanderbilt at Tennessee -
Two SEC games without a whole lot more than bowl positioning bunched together because they could be the most fun of the entire weekend. How strange is it that a November game at Death Valley will probably boil down to who holds the ball last? Johnny Football doing his Johnny Football thing on the road - where he's never lost a game - looking to out-duel the pass catching combo of Zach Mettenberger to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Who among us realized LSU has the fifth-most efficient passing attack in college football?
In Knoxville, the streaking Vanderbilt Commodores look to win consecutive games over Tennessee for the first time in eight decades. A loss would also give Tennessee seven setbacks and doom the Vols to a second straight empty December. I'd say Butch Jones needs a win.
7. Nebraska and Michigan, oh Nebraska and Michigan - Quick recap of these two teams: After a 5-0 start, Michigan has dropped three of its past five games. Each loss has been equally disastrous in its own way, a four-overtime loss at Penn State, a 29-6 flattening by Michigan State and a 17-13 loss to Nebraska in which the Wolverines gained 175 total yards. The wins have been equally ridiculous, 63-47 over Indiana and last week's 27-19 four-overtime win over a suddenly hapless Northwestern squad.
Nebraska is 7-2 but could just as easily be 5-4 after needing a Hail Mary to squeak by Northwestern and beating Michigan on a late touchdown despite losing the turnover battle, 2-0.
Michigan visits Iowa and Nebraska visits Penn State on Saturday. I have no clue on the outcome, but you'll leave each game shaking your head.
8. The annual SEC-FCS challenge is this Saturday - It's that time of year, when seemingly half the SEC takes a one-week break before rivalry weekend to host a lucky Football Championship Subdivision squad. You just know one of these games will be way too close at halftime, it's only a matter of which one: Coastal Carolina at South Carolina, Georgia Southern at Florida and Chattanooga at Alabama.
9. Ohio State's ongoing beauty pageant - Last week, Ohio State went on the road, put up 60 points and came home unhappy. This week's opponent, Indiana, allows the second-most yards per game on a per game basis. I'm thinking the Buckeyes cover the five-touchdown spread by halftime, what about you?
10. The Division II and Division III playoffs get underway this weekend - We'd be remiss without giving proper shoutouts to those lucky enough to extend their seasons this weekend. Best of luck to all involved.
USC athletic director Pat Haden wins the day
Pat Haden, apparently miffed that he was left of the list of Zach Barnett's Top Ten Athletic Directors to follow on Twitter, replied to this tweet from a fan in the early morning hours, and wins the day in my estimation.
This has to bump him (at least) into the Honorable Mention category of the article, don't you think?
@wig4usc I am no wimp. Going shirtless Saturday night.— Pat Haden (@ADHadenUSC) November 22, 2013
There you have it folks; Pat Haden is no wimp. That response is probably going to get a few channel surfers to tune into the game Saturday...at least in a few (very) specific demographics.
If it weren't frowned upon by the NCAA, I have a sneaking suspicion that Coach O wouldn't hesitate to join in on the action.
A week in the life of an NFL coach
From 5:50 a.m. last Monday morning to 12 a.m. this Monday morning, there were 156 items on Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's calendar. That's 156 meetings to sit it on, gatherings with the media, film reviews, talks with players, team executives, assistant coaches, calls to his wife. Of the 168 hours in the week, Harbaugh had at least one thing cooking in nearly every one of them.
Harbaugh provided a line-by-line list of his entire week's schedule to ESPN the Magazine in the days leading up to the Ravens' game with the Chicago Bears.
Here's what stood out to me:
- Of the seven nights in the week, Harbaugh slept in his own bed for three of them. Awakening on his office couch at 5:50 Monday morning, Harbaugh didn't make it home until 11 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Sleeping at the office is about maximizing my time," he said. "I can get more done if I eliminate time I'd spend driving home. Plus, if I come home too late, chances are I'll wake up my wife."
- Harbaugh makes a constant effort to stay in touch with his family. He called his wife, Ingrid, multiple times a day, had lunch with his wife and 10-year-old daughter Allison on Monday and spent Friday evening playing HORSE and reading with Allison as well. A 10-minute window at 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday is dedicated to a call with brother Jim, and the eldest Harbaugh son watches opponent tape with his father, Jack, on Tuesday afternoon. He called his grandfather, Joe Cipiti, on Friday afternoon as well.
- Harbaugh is always meeting with someone. If it's not a player or assistant coach, it's owner Steve Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, assistant GM Eric DeCosta, senior VP of public relations Kevin Byrne or director of security Darren Sanders.
"I don't believe in diminishing returns in this job. To me, that doesn't apply. I think every minute matters. Every week, there's more you could do, and there are players I wish I could spend more time with. I'm constantly thinking, Whom haven't I sat down with lately?"
- Any spare minute is spent watching film. It's the first thing he does after boarding the flight home, the first thing he does Monday and Tuesday morning and the last thing he does Monday and Tuesday night.
Through it all, Harbaugh still wishes there was time to do more. "There's always more you could do," he says. "But if you don't sleep, you can't function."
Gus Malzahn wants to trademark 'Hurry Up No Huddle'
First, we caught wind of Dabo Swinney trademarking his name, and we've heard rumblings our of Columbus of Urban Meyer and Ohio State doing the same. In the latest trademark move by an FBS head coach, Auburn's Gus Malzahn wants exclusive rights to the term 'Hurry Up No Huddle', or HUNH for short.
According to AL.com, Malzahn's Arkansas based company (called HUNH, LLC) applied for a US Patent and Trademark of the phrase on November 13th.
Only a handful of coaches in the country come to mind when you think about the no huddle philosophy, and without a doubt, Malzahn is near the top of that list so this moves makes sense. If he didn't pull the trigger on it, Chip Kelly, Mark Helfrich, Kliff Kingsbury, or Mike Leach might have beat him to the punch.
The article also points out that the J&M bookstore in Auburn has been selling HUNH T-shirts this year with a great slogan on the back worth pointing out. No you can see why they want to patent it.
In my estimation, if any college head coach is going to corner the market on the phrase and earn some coin off from it, it might as well be Malzahn. The success that he's seen at every level he's ever coached at with the philosophy has been remarkable.
This is just another well thought out move by a coach out there looking for a small piece of the pie, and who can blame any of them?
You can bet every recruit west of the Mississippi has this infographic in their inbox
From 1997 to 2010, Utah State did not have a winning season. From 1980 to 2010, Utah State had a total of three winning seasons. From the outside looking in, Utah State football was dead.
Then Gary Andersen and his staff revived it.
In light of where this program has come from, I don't know what's more remarkable: that Utah State has won more games over the last three seasons than the likes of USC, Fresno State, BYU, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington or Utah, or that the Gary Andersen/Matt Wells staff have put up as many victories in their last 29 games as the Aggies had won in their previous 87.
Baylor's hype video for Saturday: 'Be great today'
We're now under 36 hours to the biggest game in Baylor history. Every time Baylor steps on the field with an undefeated record from here to January it'll be the biggest game in school history, but this is the biggest biggest game in school history. On the road. Top 10 opponent. College GameDay. ABC's Saturday Night Football.
Here's the hype video Baylor produced for the game.