With Bryan Harsin departing for the head job at Arkansas State, Texas head coach Mack Brown walked down the hall to find his next offensive coordinator. Major Applewhite has been on staff in Austin as running backs coach since 2008 and will take over play-calling duties, as well as coaching quarterbacks, with the Alamo Bowl later this month.
Longhorn Network recently put a spotlight on Applewhite's coaching and asked the current players about what they thought of the former Longhorn quarterback.
"I want to play for Coach Applewhite because he seems real honest," said junior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. "He won't sugar coat it. He'll let you know if you're playing bad, he'll let you know if you're playing well."
"He's always honest in his critique or coaching of you," added junior offensive lineman Mason Walters. "He's going to give you exactly how it is. You don't ever have to wonder what he's thinking about."
Texas finished as the most profitable program, generating nearly $78 million profit. Michigan finished a distant second at $61.6 million.
Not surprisingly, the top ten is led by schools from the SEC. Six SEC programs (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Arkansas), two Big Ten schools (Michigan and Nebraska), a Big 12 University (Texas), and independent Notre Dame made the final cut.
The entire top 10 list is below in order of profit:
Texas - $79.9 million profit Michigan - $61.6 million profit Georgia - $52.3 million profit Florida - $51.1 million profit Alabama - $45.1 million profit LSU - $44.8 million profit Auburn - $43.8 million profit Notre Dame - $43.2 million profit Arkansas - $39.9 million profit Nebraska - $36.4 million profit
As far as revenue goes, Texas was the only program in the country that brought in over $100 million, and Alabama had the highest expenses nationally (nearly $37 million).
Only two programs listed above were able to finish in the top ten while compiling a losing season (Auburn and Arkansas). The article also points out that the largest revenue producer from a non BCS conference back in 2011-12 was TCU.
Every coach would agree that earning your way to a bowl game and getting the extra practice time for your guys, especially your young players, is one of the biggest perks of playing in the post season. One of the other big advantages is in regards to recruiting.
If you're traveling to a specific part of the country it gives you an opportunity to be seen by a new demographic, and gives a chance for many fans and recruits to watch you play who might not have seen you play all season. In short, it's a chance to show a recruiting base what your football program is all about.
When it comes recruiting, Tommy Tuberville is one of the best and he explains that playing in a bowl goes a long way.
For Minnesota, Texas Tech's Meineke Car Care Bowl opponent, it's an opportunity for Jerry Kill and his coaching staff to showcase their program in front of one of the most talented recruiting bases in the country down in Houston.
"I remember last year in the state of Texas, there were 450 Division I recruits in football," Tuberville pointed out in the Houston Chronicle. "A normal state's got 15 or 20. The more you can get out and be accessible to the players and coaches and have a chance to put your name out there, it's about sales."
450 Division I recruits out of one state (even one as big and talented as Texas) is mind boggling. That stat alone makes it clearly seem like the big winners of bowl season are the teams that have been picked to play in bowls in Texas. Right now twelve teams have the distinct advantage of playing in a bowl game within the state of Texas.
Oklahoma and Texas A&M (Cotton Bowl), Texas Tech and Minnesota, Rice and Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl), Oregon State and Texas (Alamo Bowl), Georgia Tech and USC (Sun Bowl), and Oklahoma State and Purdue (Heart of Dallas Bowl) all play in Texas based bowl games and thus will have a chance to influence a very large recruiting base.
Tuberville noted that they're looking to increase their visibility and presence in the Houston area as well.
"When I took the job at Texas Tech, we only had one or two players from the city of Houston on our team. We need to have 15 to 20, maybe 25."
Darrell Royal was long gone from college football by the time I gained sports consciousness. The legendary coach retired in 1976, a dozen years before I was born. It wasn't long after I became a fan of college football, however, before my dad called me to the living room, sat me down and told me we were going to watch the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game and that I was going to learn everything there was to know about Texas' greatest football coach.
I immediately thought of that moment Wednesday morning when I learned of Royal's passing.
The tower, UT's campus landmark, was lit orange on Wednesday night to honor Royal. A full orange tower is usually limited to mark occasions when Texas wins a national championship, something Royal accomplished three times while at Texas. Royal's teams came achingly close to three more national titles. His 1961 team was ranked No. 1 before it suffered a 6-0 loss to TCU, one of the biggest upsets in Southwest Conference history.
"They're like a bunch of cockroaches," Royal said of TCU. "It's not what they eat and tote off, it's what they fall into and mess up that hurts."
A year later Texas was again the top ranked team in the country when a 14-14 tie with Rice knocked team from down to No. 5. After breaking through with the school's first national championship in 1963, Royal's bid for a repeat ended when the top-ranked Horns suffered 14-13 loss at the hands of Arkansas, the eventual national champions. After scoring with 1:27 left in the game to pull Texas within one, rather than opt for a tie, Texas went for two and failed.
Largely considered a conservative coach, Royal had a penchant for rolling the dice in the biggest of moments. Against that same Arkansas team five years later, Texas fought back from a 14-0 hole with two successful gambles - a successful two-point conversion after Texas' first touchdown, and facing a 4th-and-3 with under five minutes to play, Royal ordered quarterback James Street to roll left and fire a bomb that snuck between two defenders and into Randy Peschel's outstretched arms to set up the Longhorns' go ahead score in a 15-14 win.
Royal's teams slipped to mediocrity after the 1964 season, going 19-12 from 1965-67 before he and assistant coach Emory Bellard implemented the Wishbone offense. After a tie and a loss to open the 1968 season Texas would not lose again until January 1971, a streak of 30 consecutive wins that brought Royal his second and third national championships.
At the exepense of his own job security, Royal often shared the ins and outs of the Wishbone offense with many coaching staffs, including archrival Oklahoma. That move ultimately contributed to Royal's early retirement when Barry Switzer's Oklahoma gained control of the rivalry using the Wishbone.
Royal's persona stretched well beyond just the game of football. He had well-publicized friendships with Willie Nelson and President Lyndon B. Johnson. In a state that worshipped football, Royal was the Pope.
My grandfather, at the time an executive in the Presbyterian Church, met with Royal in the late 1960's to invite the coach to speak at a men's conference. Royal declined, but their conversation eventually broached the subject of integration. SMU's Jerry LeVias had recently broken the color barrier in the Southwest Conference and Royal explained that Texas planned on breaking its own color barrier, he was just looking for the right player to do it with.
In 1970, Julius Whittier became the first black player to play for Texas. In truth, my grandfather had nothing to do with breaking the color barrier at the University of Texas. Just don't tell him that.
I had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions as a student at Texas when he attended various football, basketball and baseball games. I told myself to cherish every moment in his presence, not only because I had the pleasure of being in close proximity with a living legend, but because, frankly, I never knew when I would run out of chances to see him with my own eyes.
Royal's passing shook the state of Texas on Wednesday. One day after the presidential election, news of Royal's death led Dallas newscasts with live dispatches from Austin.
On Saturday Texas will open its game with Iowa State by lining up in Royal's trademark Wishbone formation inside the stadium bearing his name. Darrell K Royal may no longer grace the sidelines of Texas football, but to many Texans he was, is and always will be the personification of football in the state of Texas.
The University of Texas tower lit burnt orange on Wednesday night to honor the life of Darrell Royal.
Longhorn Network feature on Darrell Royal's life and legacy.
Darrell Royal, a mainstay on the Texas sidelines for twenty years, passed away earlier this morning, at age 88 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Certainly, our staff's thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Coach Royal as they go through this very difficult time.
In coaching circles, Royal was well known for his highly successful wishbone offense, and he compiled an 167-47-5 record at Texas before retiring from coaching .
Despite taking over a one win team when he took the Texas job in 1957, during the next twenty seasons on the Longhorn sideline Royal never had a losing season. The Longhorns collected two national titles, won or shared 11 conference titles, and made 16 bowl appearances under his watch. Royal also earned national coach of the year awards five times and was a shoo-in inductee into the the college football hall of fame in 1983. Very impressive resume.
The Longhorns named their stadium after him in 1996.
Reading a few articles this morning on Royal, it is clear to see that he will remain a valued member of the coaching fraternity forever and will go down as one of the best to ever roam the sideline.
Here's a few of the best written articles that we came across this morning on Royal and the legacy he has left behind.
The recent struggles of the Longhorn defense have led Mack Brown to a few conclusions on how to get things fixed as they move forward in their final four games of the regular season.
One thing that Brown has told both coordinators is to substitute some experienced players inside of the 20 yard line.
“I don’t like inexperienced players inside the 20 on either end. That’s something we’ve talked about a lot. That was a key play in the ballgame. We not only lost points, but we gave up the possibility of points offensively. That won’t happen again.” Brown explained, referencing a specific defensive play in their Kansas game where they had two freshman linebackers in.
The Longhorns have only allowed less than 170 yards rushing on just one occasion this season (week one against Wyoming). A year after finishing in the top ten nationally in run defense (6th - 96 ypg), the Longhorns have dropped to 108th this season, allowing opponents to run for 218 yards per game.
This week, after giving up at least 450 yards of total offense in the past four out of five games, Brown has been hanging around defensive staff meetings a little more, lending a fresh set of eyes to their defensive struggles, and how to get them fixed. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz welcomed the new viewpoint.
“I enjoy it. The thing the head coach can control is maybe subtle changes to how we are practicing. This is Mack understanding our issues and the easiest ways to fix them.” Diaz explained.
The Horns will be tested this weekend on both sides of the ball against Texas Tech. Kick off is scheduled for 3:30pm ET on ABC.
Plenty mof great performances were turned in throughout the country yesterday, but these coaches' work stood above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week.
Head Coach of the Week - Mark Richt, Georgia: Considering the way his team entered Saturday's game, and the way Georgia's 17-9 win over Florida was played (nine turnovers, 24 penalties), Mark Richt must feel like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through Shawshank's sewer system and came out clean on the other side. Georgia entered Saturday on a three-game stretch in which, sandwiched around a 28-point loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs had beaten Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by a total of 12 points. None of that mattered, however, as Richt's team managed to win a game in which it threw three first half interceptions, committed 14 penalties, missed a field goal and nullified a successful onside kick with an offsides flag. The Bulldogs won by forcing six turnovers of their own, erasing Florida's power running game (two yards per carry on 41 attempts) and bookending the scoring with opportunitstic touchdown drives.
Georgia now stands in a position where wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) will send the Bulldogs to Atlanta in early December for the second year in a row.
Offensive Staff of the Week - Kent State: The Golden Flashes not only got their first win over an AP Top 25 opponent in school history on Saturday, they did it going away by smashing Rutgers, 35-23. Rutgers came into Saturday surrendering just 11.3 points per game, a mark which Darrell Hazell's team bested by the 13:21 mark of the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock and offensive line coach Chris Bache's game plan was simple - just do what you do. For the fourth time this season the Golden Flashes topped 200 rushing yards, carrying 50 times for 224 yards and achieving 14 first downs by rush. Mixed with seven turnovers forced by the Kent State defense, Hazell's team was able to occupy the ball for more than 37 minutes on Saturday.
"We came on the road against a very tough opponent," Hazell said. "We knew they were going to be tough, and they did a great job prior to playing us. I thought our kids prepared like crazy this week." The win gives Kent State its first six-game winning streak in 72 years and moves Hazell's squad one step closer to its first bowl appearance since 1972.
Defensive Staff of the Week - Notre Dame: This isn't the first time Bob Diaco and co. have won the Defensive Staff of the Week in FootballScoop's short history of weekly coaching awards, and if the Fighting Irish continue to play like they did Saturday night it certainly won't be the last. Once again Notre Dame forced an opponent into its worst offensive outing of the season by way of sure tackling, stifling red zone defense and timely turnovers. All three ingredients were prevalent in Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma. The Irish secondary surrendered the short stuff to the Oklahoma passing game but never let anything get behind them and limited yards after the catch. "We were going to give up yards to keep the points down," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We could not let the points get out of reach for us. This was the first time we showed we could … put some points on the board. But we could not have won this football game if the points got up in the numbers that were probably out of reach for our offense."
As a result, Oklahoma threw for 356 yards but needed 51 attempts to get there. Notre Dame shut down the OU running game, holding the Sooners to 15 yards on 24 carries, in limiting them to season lows in points, rushing yards and total yards. Notre Dame forced field goals in two of Oklahoma's three red zone trips and, protecting a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter, produced a timely interception when linebacker Manti Te'o snagged a deflected ball at the Oklahoma 45-yard line. Six plays later Notre Dame put the game out of reach with a 46-yard field goal.
Special Teams Staff of the Week - North Carolina: It's unclear why N.C. State punted to Giovani Bernard, the nation's leading punt returner, with the game tied 35-35 in the waning seconds before overtime. What is clear is that overtime never happened because Bernard took the punt 74 yards for a score to give North Carolina a 43-35 win. The return was much more than just Bernard - watch below how good his blocking is as he runs behind a wall down the right sideline. But before Bernard ever had a chance to win the game, Tar Heels kicker Casey Barth had to hit a 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left to play to knot the score at 35-35 in the first place. North Carolina punter Thomas Hibbard also had an excellent day with nine punts for a net average of 41.1 yards with a long of 60 and three kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line.
Call of the Week - Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin, Texas: Texas was a quarter away from being the first Big 12 team to lose to Kansas since 2010, and the first current Big 12 team to fall to the Jayhawks since Iowa State in 2009, when Brown inserted backup quarterback Case McCoy to spark the Longhorns to a 21-17 win. McCoy didn't do much in his first drive as Texas ran all nine plays of its 84-yard drive to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to go. After Kansas used a seven-minute drive to reclaim the lead at 17-14, McCoy came alive. He hit five passes in a row, including an 18-yard gain on fourth-and-six and a 39-yard connection to get Texas to the KU three-yard line, before Harsin dialed up a play-action lob where McCoy found tight end D.J. Grant alone in the corner of the end zone on third-and-goal with 12 seconds to play to seal the win.
Another full slate of college football games has come and gone. Here is what stood out to us today from games across the country.
Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13. Brian Kelly's team believed in who it is, stuck to what it does well and never wavered from the gameplan to achieve the biggest win in the third year coach's tenure. Bob Diaco's defense kept the Oklahoma passing game in front of them (52 passes for 364 yards, long of 35 yards) and shut down the Sooners' multi-faceted running attack (24 carries for 15 yards). The Fighting Irish offensive line owned the line of scrimmage, producing 215 yards and three scores on 39 carries and an effective 188 passing yards on 27 throws. After Oklahoma tied the game at 13-13, Kelly's team reeled off the game's final 17 points over the last 5:05 to stake their claim as a true national title contender in 2012.
Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7. Just another destruction of a ranked opponent. As we head into November, Nick Saban's team has never scored less than 33 points and has yet to allow more than 14 points. Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's defense limited Mississippi State to 47 rushing yards and forced the Bulldogs into three turnovers. LSU awaits.
Nebraska 23, Michigan 9. A tight game through one half turned when Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson injured his right wrist late in the first half. Robinson's backup, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy, was overwhelmed by the moment as evidenced by his stat line: 3-of-16 for 38 yards and three interceptions. Bo Pelini's team put the game away with just over 10 minutes left on a 12-yard touchdown dash by Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska now stands alone in first place in the Big Ten's Legends Division.
Miami (Ohio) 23, Ohio 20. Frank Solich's team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and fell into a dogfight in the MAC East with a last-second loss to the RedHawks. Down by three at the Miami seven yard-line, Ohio elected to bypass a field goal try to attempt a pass with nine seconds left and no timeouts. Instead, Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked and Ohio was unable to get off another play. With the loss, Ohio falls from first to fourth place in their division behind 4-0 Kent State, 4-1 Bowling Green (who Ohio faces next week) and 3-1 Miami.
Ohio State 35, Penn State 23. A game that ulimately had no effect on the Big Ten standings, but don't tell that to anyone at Beaver Stadium. Penn State opened the scoring by recovering a blocked field goal in the end zone but Ohio State ran off 28 of the game's next 31 points to wrest control of the game. Urban Meyer's club won this game at the line of scrimmage, owning a 234-32 rushing advantage. Ohio State is now just three wins away from joining the 1993 Auburn Tigers as teams with perfect seasons under probation.
Arizona 39, USC 36. One of the trendy upset picks of the day comes through as Arizona survives a Hail Mary to topple USC. Rich Rodriguez's offense shredded USC to the tune of 369 passing yards, 219 rushing yards and 30 first downs. Lane Kiffin's team had a chance to win despite five turnovers and 14 penalties almost singlehandedly behind the effort of sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, who set a Pac-12 record with 345 receiving yards and also added 123 yards on kickoff returns (including a 72-yarder). It's not out of the realm of possibility that Rodriguez could win the Pac-12 South in his first season, despite a 2-3 league record at the moment. With the win over the Trojans and games still to play with UCLA and Arizona State, the Wildcats have a chance to play their way into the conference title game.
Georgia 17, Florida 9. Nine turnovers. 24 penalties. 25 incomplete passes in 53 attempts. A missed field goal. A successful onside kick called back by penalty. This game was anything but a thing of beauty. The perfect ending came when Florida tight end Jordan Reed lept from the Georgia five-yard line and fumbled on his way down into the Georgia end zone, ending Florida's last chance to tie. But credit Mark Richt's team, who overcame a sluggish month in which the Bulldogs beat Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by just 12 and lost to South Carolina by 28, for finding a way to win its second straight over Florida and put itself in position to win back-to-back SEC East crowns. Georgia now just need wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) to make plans for Atlanta in early December.
Kansas State 55, Texas Tech 24. Once again Bill Snyder's team methodically ground another ranked opponent into submission. The Wildcats trailed 10-3 midway into the second quarter and then scored the next seven times they touched the ball until running out the game's final 2:33. Nothing they do is specatcular, but everything they do is efficient. Quarterback Collin Klein threw for 233 yards and two scores, added 83 yards and two scores on the ground while tailback John Hubert threw in two more rushing jaunts. Kansas State won the turnover battle 3-0 and took an interception 37 yards back for a touchdown.
Oklahoma State 36, TCU 14. Bill Young's defense isn't forcing turnovers like it did a year ago, but the Oklahoma State coordinator has produced a better unit overall in 2012. In holding TCU to just seven offensive points, none after the first quarter, Oklahoma State forced quarterback Trevone Boykins to throw 40 passes to gain only 185 yards. Meanwhile, Mike Gundy and Todd Monken continue to get production no matter what freshman plays quarterback. Stepping in for injured redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, true freshman Wes Lunt threw for 324 yards on 18-of-33 attempts. Mike Gundy's team has very quietly played itself into a position where the Cowboys can defend its Big 12 title. With a trip to Manhattan next week, Oklahoma State sits one game behind first-place Kansas State and tied with Oklahoma. Wins over both clubs should give the Pokes another Big 12 crown.
Kent State 35, Rutgers 23. For the second straight week a MAC team has downed an undefeated Big East foe. Darrell Hazell's 7-1 squad handed Kyle Flood his first loss at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights entered the day ranked third nationally in scoring defense and rushing defense, but Kent State dominated the line of scrimmage to the tune of 50 carries for 224 yards and more than triple Rutgers' points-against average. Kent State's rushing success allowed Hazell's team to stay on the field for more than 37 minutes on the afternoon. On the other side of the ball, Kent State forced Rutgers into six interceptions and a sum of seven turnovers.
North Carolina 43, N.C. State 35. Earlier this week we highlighted how badly Larry Fedora wanted to end North Carolina's losing skid to N.C. State. A furious final 90 seconds gave North Carolina the win and Fedora a 1-0 record against the Wolfpack. N.C. State held a 35-25 lead after three quarters, but the Tar Heels pulled within three early in the fourth quarter. Fedora's team threatened to take the lead until quarterback Bryn Renner was sacked on third-and-goal, forcing the Tar Heels to settle for a field goal and a 35-35 tie with 1:24 to play. After securing a three-and-out on N.C. State's ensuing possession, running back Giovani Bernard took a punt back 73 yards for the game-winner, his third touchdown of the day. The loss is a costly one for Tom O'Brien's team as N.C. State no longer controls its own destiny to play in the ACC Championship.
Ole Miss 30, Arkansas 27. A Bryson Rose 31-yard field goal as time expired gave Hugh Freeze's team its second consecutive SEC win. It can not be understanded how important this win is for Freeze's program, which suddenly is just one win from bowl eligibility after putting an end to its 16-game conference losing streak last week. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the win for Freeze is that his team found a way to win despite being outgained by 109 yards and committing two turnovers. Arkansas isn't the team they were expected to be, but Ole Miss still had enough talent to defeat an SEC foe without owning the stat sheet.
South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35. A Big 12 game broke out in SEC country. The Vols and Gamecocks teamed up to accumulate 987 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Tennessee mounted a late drive that could have given them the lead, marching from their own 19-yard line to the South Carolina 19, until Jadeveon Clowney forced a Tyler Bray fumble that the Gamecocks recovered with 1:08 remaining. We want to send well wishes to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered what Steve Spurrier called a "serious injury" in the second quarter. With the loss Derek Dooley now falls to 4-18 in SEC play.
Texas 21, Kansas 17. The Texas offense had accomplished nothing since the first drive until backup quarterback Case McCoy led the Longhorns on consecutive scoring drives for the comeback win. To be fair, it was the Texas running game that did the heavy lifting on McCoy's first touchdown drive, as Bryan Harsin got the ball in the hands of speedsters D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin as Texas rushed seven times for 84 yards to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to play. Charlie Weis' team responded with a 14 play, 61 yard drive that ate 7:13 off the clock but notched just three points to leave Texas a window to rally. McCoy connected with Jaxon Shipley on 4th-and-6 for 18 yards to keep Mack Brown's team in the game, and five plays later McCoy hit tight end D.J. Grant for the winning score with just 12 ticks left on the clock. Kansas played with a great game plan, attacking the Texas run defense to the tune of 234 rushing yards while Dave Campo's defense forced Texas quarterback David Ash into his worst game of the season (8-of-16 passing for 63 yards and two interceptions) before Brown pulled Ash for McCoy. Unfortunately for Kansas, this marks yet another close call that left the Jayhawks just short of its first Big 12 win since Nov. 6, 2010.
Mack to team postgame "You didn't respect Kansas as much as you should have but you found a way to win."
Texas running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite weighed in yesterday with his thoughts on tackling in practice. Texas has prefered to practice at a thud tempo to reduce opportunity for injuries.
"Most coaches, if they're honest, will tell you when you start flying around and it's full contact during the season, you start to worry - it's a double edged sword," Applewhite told Orangebloods.com. "We're helping our team learn how to play with better pad level. We're helping our team learn how to fly to the ball and be more physical at the point of attack. The defensive players are getting better at their tackling. The offensive players are getting a better feel for the pad level they're going to have to block at. The running backs are getting a better feel for the pad level when they're approached by a tackle."
The topic has become a subject of conversation around Austin after the Texas defense, which was expected to be among the best in the country, surrendered nearly 50 points per game through its first four Big 12 games. But to Applewhite, physical practice benefits the enitre Texas team and not just the defense.
"Personally, as a running backs coach, I like those shots because I can't, in certain periods of practice, emphasize pad level enough," Applewhite said. "The only thing that's going to teach you how to get your pads down is when someone is coming at you.
With another full slate of games ahead of us tomorrow, here's what we'll be keeping an extra close eye on throughout the day.
LSU at Texas A&M (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): This is an opportunity for a statement game for Texas A&M. Kevin Sumlin and Kliff Kingsbury's explosive offense (tied for sixth nationally in total offense, 7.09 yards per play) faces John Chavis' second-ranked LSU defense. If Texas A&M pulls out the win, it will be because quarterback Johnny Manziel (24 touchdowns through six games) found a way to solve an LSU defense that has surrendered just 13 scores this season. These programs have met 50 times previously, although Saturday will be the first meeting in College Station since 1995. Texas A&M wants to re-kindle this rivalry, but the only way to to do that is with a win.
Rutgers at Temple (12 p.m. ET, Big East Network): Raise your hand if you knew this was a battle for the top spot in the Big East standings. Steve Addazio has led Temple to a 2-0 start in the Owls' return to the Big East despite ranking last in the league in total offense and total defense. Addazio's team relies heavily on the run (2.1:1 rush-pass ratio), while Rutgers ranks second nationally in rush defense at 60.8 yards per game and 2.25 yards per carry allowed. Both of these teams' success lies in forcing turnovers (Rutgers leads in the nation in turnover margin, Temple is No. 12), so whoever can carve out an advantage in that area will likely win the game.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (12 p.m. ET, FX): A year removed from winning the Big 12 championship, Mike Gundy's team is still trying to sort out exactly what it is. The Cowboys lead the country in total offense by a wide margin, nearly 34 yards per game over No. 2 Baylor. But their most impressive win to date is over Louisiana - Lafayette, and they come into Saturday off a 20-14 win over 1-5 Kansas in which the Jayhawks outgained OSU 398-371. Paul Rhoads' team will try to make this game close and low-scoring. Iowa State is 19-1 in Rhoads' tenure when holding teams under 24 points, and 3-21 when giving up 24 points or more. Iowa State is also 10-6 under Rhoads in games decided by a touchdown or less.
South Carolina at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Mark Richt and co. will be rooting hard for the Gators, as a Florida win essentially sets up a winner-take-all matchup for the control of the SEC East at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party next week. Meanwhile, a South Carolina win means Steve Spurrier's team will just have to get by Tennessee and Arkansas to clinch a trip to Atlanta for the second time in three years. The Gamecocks have won two straight in this series while limiting the Gators to just 26 combined points.
BYU at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC): This game will likely play out like seemingly every Notre Dame game this season - gritty, close and low scoring. Both of these squads rank among the nation's top seven nationally in scoring defense, allowing just over 22 points per game combined. Bronco Mendenhall has an opportunity to put a peacock-sized feather in his team's cap as a win would put the Cougars in a great position to finish 2012 at 9-3 and a top 25 ranking. On the other sideline, all that's on the line for Notre Dame is keeping intact its first 7-0 start since 2002 with a primetime showdown at Oklahoma on the immediate horizon.
Nebraska at Northwestern (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Bo Pelini's struggling defense faces perhaps the most diverse attack in the Big Ten. Any hopes either team has of playing for the Big Ten title likely dies with a loss on Saturday. Expect Nebraska and its Big Ten-leading scoring offense to try to outscore Northwestern, while the Wildcats will attempt to exploit the Cornhuskers' penchant for turning over the football (No. 104 nationally in turnover margin. Oh, and there's this:
The last time Nebraska played Northwestern in Evanston, Al Capone was there for the game ... bit.ly/VjnCjI
Kansas State at West Virginia (7 p.m. ET, FOX): Bill Snyder's tough-as-nails bunch travels to face West Virginia in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium. The last time Dana Holgorsen's team played at home it lit up Baylor for 10 touchdowns. A Kansas State victory puts the Wildcats firmly ahead of the pack in the Big 12, while a loss for West Virginia ends the conference and national title aspirations that seemed so promising just one week ago. West Virginia's highly publicized offense is more productive of the two but Kansas State's is actually more efficienct, churning out 0.65 points per play to WVU's 0.58 points per play.
Florida State at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Consider this a referendum for two young coaching tenures. Both teams need wins to stay in the hunt for the ACC Championship but, most importantly, both teams need a win over each other. Al Golden is looking for his first victory over FSU, while a loss by the Seminoles means nothing short toppling Florida can make this season a success. Jimbo Fisher's team dominates the ACC statistically, leading the conference in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, pass efficiency, pass efficiency defense and rushing defense. They also place second in the ACC in rushing offense behind Georgia Tech, but possess the conference's best yards per carry average (6.28).
Baylor at Texas (8 p.m. ET, ABC): Texas returns home reeling after consecutive losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma. Mack Brown's teams traditionally play their best football following Oklahoma, going 13-1 immediately after the Red River Rivalry. Baylor carries in a two-game losing streak of its own, surrendering a total of 17 touchdowns in losses to West Virginia and TCU. Baylor leads the nation in passing offense with nearly 400 yards per game faces a Texas defense that has allowed Big 12 quarterbacks to go 65-of-101 for 903 yards with eight touchdowns against two interceptions. The numbers aren't much better for Texas' rush defense as opposing Big 12 offenses have carried 133 times for 810 yards (6.1 ypc) for 10 scores. Solace for Texas comes in the fact that Baylor brings in a defense ranked among the bottom four nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. Expect an old-fashion Big 12 shootout that lasts deep into the night.
Washington at Arizona (10 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks): After a 3-0 start Rich Rodriguez is still searching for his first Pac-12 win. Washington is also looking for its first victory since the upset of Stanford on Sept. 27. Scott from our staff will be on hand in Tucson. Follow him on Twitter @FootballScoop for his observations of the game.