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Tag:Bob Stoops
Posted on: October 16, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:01 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 7



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the first BCS standings of the season were released. While the Coaches Poll and AP remain divided on the order of the top three, the most important rankings have LSU with a slight numerical advantage over Alabama for the No. 1 spot. The Bedlam rivals hold down 3 and 4, while Boise State is holding down the familiar position of the outside looking in.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.


1. LSU : Les Miles' team is in the drivers seat, so it's pretty simple. Keep winning and the Tigers are playing for a national title. Though with games against Alabama, Arkansas and the SEC title game left, it won't be easy. - Tom Fornelli 

2. Alabama: The Crimson Tide have faced three ranked opponents, played four SEC conference games, and still are only allowing 7.0 points per game. The methodical beatdowns of Alabama's opponents have set up the armageddon match against LSU on Nov. 5. If the Tide win that game and continue their high level of play, they will find themselves competing for Nick Saban's third championship in New Orleans come January. - Chip Patterson 

3. Oklahoma: The Sooners find themselves behind both LSU and Alabama, which means that Oklahoma wouldn't be playing for a national title if the season ended now. The good news for Oklahoma is that LSU and Alabama still have to play each other, so if the Sooners win out, they'll likely finish in the top two. - TF
 

4. Oklahoma State : The computers love the Cowboys, but that's not enough to get them into the top two spots. Good news for them, though, is they still control their own destiny as they get to play Oklahoma and LSU will play Alabama. - TF

5. Boise StateThe Broncos' best chance for a late quality win was assumed to be their one-time MWC showdown with TCU. With the Horned Frogs suffering a significant drop-off from 2010, Boise could easily finish the season undefeated and find themselves outside the top 2 (or 4) in the polls and BCS rankings. Boise State's best chance to make their first appearance in a title game is to get a lot of upset help from the Big 12 and SEC - CP

6. WisconsinWhile it's certainly disappointing to see a team of Wisconsin's caliber rated this low in the BCS, it's not exactly surprising; Wisconsin's first half of the season has been one blowout after another, and in a rating system that's not allowed to consider margin of victory, the only thing that matters is the teams you play. At the very least, Wisconsin is set to face some tougher competition in the coming weeks, so don't expect to see the Badgers ranked at 10th or lower in as many polls by the time November rolls around. - Adam Jacobi

7. Clemson: While the nation waits for Clemson's suspected collapse, Dabo Swinney's squad continues to grind out victories and hang out just inside the Top 10. Tajh Boyd's development and Sammy Watkins' arrival have come at the perfect time for the Tigers, who are four victories away from running the table in the ACC. - CP

8. Stanford:The Cardinal find themselves eighth in the initial BCS standings this year, an improvement from the 13th spot they debuted at last season. While some expected Andrew Luck and company to be slightly higher, their schedule has hurt them in the computer rankings because they have not played a ranked team yet. Stanford still controls their own destiny for the Rose Bowl but have a remote national title shot unless they get some help. - Bryan Fischer

9. Arkansas:The highest ranked one-loss team in the initial BCS standings, the Razorbacks could wind up in a BCS bowl again this year. They also have the chance to play spoiler for top ranked LSU and Alabama and cause some serious chaos in the national title race.- BF


10. Oregon: Fresh off a victory over probably Pac-12 South division winner Arizona State, the Ducks are in a good spot in the top 10 of the initial standings. They are the second highest one-loss team, right behind Arkansas, and their only loss is to top-ranked LSU. The computers send a mixed message about Oregon but as long as they keep winning, they have nowhere to go but up. - BF 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: October 11, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Bob Stoops: I'd hire my brother at Oklahoma

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Stoops
is suddenly out at Arizona. But if his older brother has any say in it, he'll be able to find a soft professional landing in Oklahoma.

That's what Bob Stoops told reporters at his Tuesday press conference, saying that if everything worked out, he'd be open to hiring Mike onto his staff in Norman.

"Sure, if I had enough money to," Bob said when asked if he might bring his brother aboard. "He's going to have a lot of opportunities."

That's likely true -- see the third Stoops coaching brother, Mark Stoops, engineering the Florida State defense as the Seminoles' coordinator in Tallahassee -- and Bob won't be able to offer him the defensive coordinator's chair with Brent Venables well established as the Sooners' DC. To come to Norman, Mike would likely have to accept a role as a position coach ... and likely a salary well below what he might be able to make on the market as a coordinator or head coach.

But it's easy to see why Bob would welcome Mike's return. The two worked together on the Oklahoma staff from 1999 to 2003, a four-year span in which Mike's defenses helped the Sooners win one national championship and play for another. If Mike is looking for job stability and a familiar environment first and a fat salary second (which, after his abrupt firing in Arizona, isn't that farfetched), a reunion is at least a possibility.

But as bob said: Mike's going to have opportunities. And the likelihood is that he'll find a higher-paying one somewhere outside of his brother's shadow.
Posted on: October 11, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 11:07 am
 

Keys to the Game: Kansas vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

KANSAS WILL WIN IF: The Sooners somehow get lost on their way to Lawrence and miss the game resulting in some kind of a forfeit. Barring that, it's not likely to happen. Still, if there's anyway that a Kansas defense that's allowing an NCAA-worst 49.4 points and 556 yards per game is going to slow down the Oklahoma offense, it will be by getting pressure on Landry Jones. The most trouble Oklahoma has had this season came on the road against Florida State, and it was because the Seminoles defensive line was in Jones' face all night long. The Jayhawks offense has been able to put points on the board this season, so if the defense can somehow find a way to get to Jones consistently, Kansas might have a shot.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: The Sooners just keep doing what they've been doing. This will be only the second time this season that Oklahoma has played a game outside of Norman that wasn't a neutral site, and Bob Stoops' teams have had trouble on the road the last few seasons. That being said, Oklahoma has a lot more talent on both sides of the ball than Kansas does, so as long as the Sooners take care of the ball there's really no reason that they should lose this game.

X-FACTOR: Most of the focus with Kansas this season has been how horrible the defense has been, and understandably so. What's been lost in the shuffle, however, has been the performance of quarterback Jordan Webb. Through five games Webb has completed nearly 70% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 172.0, better than Kellen Moore's 171.6. If the Jayhawks can keep Webb on his feet, he could make enough plays to keep the Jayhawks in the game and possibly pull off one of the biggest upsets we'd see this season.
Posted on: October 9, 2011 2:18 am
 

Pac-12 Winners and Losers: Week 6



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Ten Pac-12 teams were in action during week 6 and while there were only five that could put one in the win column, here's a handy recap of who really won and who really lost around the conference that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Dennis Erickson's agent.

Arizona State was picked in the preseason to represent the South division in the first ever conference championship game and after a win against Utah Saturday afternoon, it looks like the Sun Devils are finally living up to expectations. They're the only team in the division to be perfect in conference play and have now beat the two teams many expected to give them trouble - Utah and USC. After struggling in the bottom half of the conference for three years, it looks like the corner has been turned in Tempe.

The Sun Devils won 10 games for the first time since 1996 in Erickson's first year and the win this week put them well on their way to matching that feat in 2011. Erickson's contract runs through 2012 but with the way the team is playing, he's moved off the hot seat and into a position to possibly get a new deal that he can ride into retirement.

LOSER: Mike Stoops' job security.

It's gone and it is never coming back. A lot of Arizona fans know that Stoops has won a bowl game and finished as high as a tie for second in the conference with a program that hasn't seen much success. But he is 27-38 in the league and 41-50 overall after the loss to winless Oregon State. Quarterback Nick Foles is doing the best he can but the talent around him is not making plays like they should. What's really concerning is that the defense has given up an average of 43 points a game over the past five and the Wildcats have lost 10 straight against FBS teams.

It's probably not all bad for Stoops, his brother Bob might have an opening on his staff if defensive coordinator Brent Venables leaves for a head coaching job after sending out his resume tape of the Oklahoma-Texas game.

WINNER: Airlines that fly from San Francisco to New York.

Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign had a nice boost against Colorado with the signal-caller throwing for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns against the Pac-12's newest member. Perhaps he was just trying to show off for John Elway and Tiger Woods, who were walking around the sidelines all game. While they were surely impressed, so too were Heisman voters who watched. Luck was able to strategically pick apart whatever defense the Buffs threw at him and he made some great throws while on the run. The trio of tight ends he has to throw to plus Chris Owusu are a very good group that many might overlook just because they're not a flashy bunch.

Luck is not going to put up 500 yards passing or 200 yards rushing because of what Stanford wants to do on offense. That said, he's led his team to an undefeated record and really hasn't even been tested so far this season. It's almost like Stanford will even tease opponents who will watch the tape by mixing in some hurry-up offense just to show off Luck running it to perfection. He put up good numbers this week but just as important, kept the record perfect.

LOSER: Airlines that fly from Portland to New York.

It was really hard to watch a replay of LaMichael James' arm injury he suffered Thursday against Cal. While the tough Texan apparently just popped it right back in, it's likely he'll miss some playing time over the next few weeks. He dipped off of the Heisman radar after a no-show against LSU in the opener but James had quietly put up some big numbers to work his way back on some short lists. He rushed for over 200 yards for three straight games, something no other Oregon Duck had ever done.

Despite the big numbers, they're likely all for nothing in the awards race if he misses any playing time. He can still make sure everybody remembers what he can do with a big showing against Stanford in early November but it's unlikely he'll wind up in New York in December.

WINNER: Mike Riley and Sean Mannion.

There is no nicer or more genuine head coach in the business than Mike Riley. He's gone through plenty of issues this year and was the laughing stock of much of the country after losing to FCS foe Sacramento State. He made a change at quarterback for good in the Wisconsin game and the decision to go with redshirt freshman Sean Mannion really paid off against Arizona as he threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. There's not a whole lot going for the Beavers this year after their rough start and being in a tough division, wins like this will go along ways. Mannion was clutch when he needed to be, leading a late drive and finding Joe Halahuni in the end zone on 4th down.

LOSER: Football in Los Angeles.

One wonders how football in a talent rich area like Los Angeles could be so average. UCLA moved to .500 on the year with a comeback victory over Washington State while USC took a bye after their defense allowed 41 points to Arizona. For the Bruins, there should be a talent gap between them and the Cougars but there really wasn't much of one after a narrow 28-25 win. The Trojans are young and thin in many areas but it might be the coaching that is suspect given the way they've played their games so far this year. Rick Neuheisel technically has the only team left in the division that can stop Arizona State from going to the championship game but based on the way UCLA has been playing, there's little chance of that happening.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 3:47 am
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 55 Texas 17



Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA WON. Actually, Oklahoma won may not be the most accurate way to describe this game. Words like conquered, destroyed, annihilated, emasculated and torched describe what Oklahoma did to Texas on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl a lot better. This wasn't a Red River Shootout, unless a shootout generally involves one side showing up with automatic weapons while the other side bring rubber band guns.

Landry Jones got his Heisman campaign back in full gear by throwing for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns on the afternoon. All 3 of the touchdowns and 305 of the yards came in the first half. Ryan Broyles caught 9 passes for 122 yards and a score, while Kenny Stills caught the other 2 touchdowns for the Sooners. On the whole, Oklahoma's offense outgained the Longhorns 456 to 267, but that's somewhat misleading because the Oklahoma defense contributed 3 touchdowns as well.

WHY OKLAHOMA WON. Well, first and foremost, Oklahoma is just a better team than Texas is right now. There's simply no way around that. Not helping matters for Texas was the youth and inexperience on both sides of the balls, a secondary that was a bit think against a passing attack like Oklahoma's and turnovers. Texas turned the ball over 5 times on Saturday, and 3 of them directly led to 21 Oklahoma points.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON. Late in the second quarter things were getting out of control when Oklahoma took a 27-3 lead following a Demontre Hurst interception that he returned 55 yards for a touchdown. However, Texas then responded with a 100-yard kick return by Fozzy Whittaker to cut the lead back to 27-10 that seemed to give Texas life. Life which Oklahoma quickly smothered by going 83 yards in two minutes and thirteen seconds right before the half to make it 34-10. The eyes of Texas had quarters placed on them at that point.

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON. Beating Texas is always a wonderful experience for the Sooners in this great rivalry, and this year it also moved Oklahoma one step closer to a Big 12 title. Still, I think the one thing that really made Bob Stoops feel good was getting some revenge on Bryan Harsin for his time at Boise State. The Oklahoma defense seemed one step ahead of Harsin all day long.

WHAT TEXAS LOST. This was Texas' chance to show the world that the program was back on track and that it could compete for a Big 12 title once again. It failed miserably.

THAT WAS CRAZY. The sheer domination by Oklahoma in this one was crazy on its own, but the fact that Texas came into this game ranked 11th in the country may have been the most insane part of all. I thought Texas was a bit overrated coming into the game based on what the Longhorns had actually accomplished so far this season, and they confirmed it on Saturday afternoon.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:38 am
 

Sooner starting C Ben Habern out with broken arm

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There wasn't a lot of happiness surrounding the Oklahoma Sooners after their 38-28 win over Missouri Saturday, and at first most of it was because of what the Sooners felt like was poor play on their part--just ask either Travis Lewis or Brent Venables. But an announcement Sunday gave them even more reason for disappointment.

Per Oklahoma RapidReporter Andrew Gilman, head coach Bob Stoops confirmed Sunday that starting center Ben Habern would miss anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks with a broken bone in his arm suffered during the win over the Tigers. Habern underwent surgery late Saturday to repair a break in the radius, one of two bones in the forearm.

Stoops said that Habern could return to the starting lineup in as a little as four weeks if he moved to guard. But his injury will require him to wait at least six weeks before reclaiming his center position, and as many as eight.

Current starting left guard George Ikard is expected to take over for Habern at center, with his backup, senior Stephen Good, projected to pull in the starting lineup to replace Ikard.

A starter in 24 games entering this season, Habern was named freshman All-Big 12 in 2009 and was a preseason first-team All-Big 12 pick this year. Though his absence won't be felt this week against Ball State and we'd wager on him returning in time for the Sooners' Nov. 5 visit from Texas A&M, Habern may be missed during the Red River Rivalry game against Texas in two weeks.

If so, expect the Sooners to even less happy with the Missouri win than they already are*.

*Though All-American wide receiver Ryan Broyles will no doubt remember the weekend more fondly; he proposed to his girlfriend Sunday, who said yes. This is the second time we've reported a Sooner engagement at Eye on CFB -- Landry Jones's was the first -- and trust us, we're as surprised as you are.

Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:57 pm
 

Oklahoma statements spell trouble for Beebe

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that it seems CONFERAPOCALYSAGEDDON is over for now -- I give it two weeks -- schools must go about the business of pretending that they are happy everything has worked out the way that it is working out. Which is why Oklahoma's athletic director Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops released statements on Wednesday saying they were happy to still be members of the Big 12.

We'll start with Stoops statement, since it's your basic, cookie-cutter release.

“I’m very pleased that we’re staying in the Big 12 Conference and appreciate the opportunity to work very closely with President Boren throughout the decision-making process," said Stoops.

Then there's Castiglione's, which doesn't really break from your typical statement on the surface, but if you read between the lines a bit, there's more to it.

“I’m in full support of President Boren’s announced decision for OU to remain in the Big 12," said Castiglione. "The reforms which he has been discussing with the presidents in the conference are very important to the future stability and strength of the Big 12 Conference.” 

While I'll glance over Castiglione saying it is David Boren's decision for Oklahoma to stay in the Big 12 and pretend that the Pac-12 announcing it wasn't taking any new members had nothing to do with that decision, it's the second sentence that grabs my attention. The one about the reforms that Boren is discussing with the other presidents of the Big 12.

You may remember a report yesterday in which Oklahoma said that it would remain in the Big 12 if the conference replaced commissioner Dan Beebe. Well, looking at what Castiglione said in his statement, it seems that while the Big 12 may survive this mess a bit longer, Dan Beebe won't be.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:18 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 3

Posted by Bryan Fischer

A longtime Floridian told me Friday he couldn't remember the last time the state was the center of college football like it was this past weekend. Sure there have been big games and plenty of teams in championship contention, but it's hard to think of a time when each corner of the state had a big primetime match up. Equally surprising, he said, was that traditional rivalry Florida-Tennessee was only the third most interesting game on the docket.

The spotlight was indeed on the Sunshine State and things couldn't have gone better for the most part. At the northern end, number one Oklahoma rolled into Tallahassee to play Florida State and there were moments when you genuinely stopped and said, "FSU's back." A loss is a loss but the way the Noles played was encouraging.

The storyline coming out the game seems to be all about Big Game Bob Stoops' team getting their first non-conference road victory over a top-five team in over three decades. The Sooners were gritty, responding to scores like a top-ranked and championship team should. Quarterback Landry Jones had several clutch throws and it seemed like linebacker Tom Wort was making every other play on defense. Oklahoma looked the part and survived with a victory.

The key word being survived. Yes their road woes are well documented but the reason the game was close - closer than most thought - was that Florida State looked the part of a top five team as well. For three quarters at least, it was a knockdown, drag out fight between two high profile head coaches. After FSU freshman Rashad Greene caught a beautiful 56 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, Doak Campbell was rocking. As more than one writer said on Twitter, it was partying like it was 1999.

One wonders what might have been had quarterback E.J. Manuel not gotten hurt. Could he have pulled off the upset? Who knows? But the biggest take away was the defense held an explosive, veteran-laden OU offense to just 23 points and showed they are close to having the athletes at every position like they used too when things were rolling. They were kids last year in Norman and it took less than a year for them to grow up into men. The offense still needs some work - especially along the line - but the defense should help carry the Seminoles through ACC play.

Jimbo Fisher has Florida State making waves on the recruiting trail and there are plenty of signs that the on the field product is coming along as well. The next step is winning games like the one on Saturday but, by all indications, that's coming. Party like it's 1999 indeed.

A couple hours down the road in Gainesville, two teams showed they still need work if they're to take the next step. It looked like Florida was going to run away with the game up 30-7 late in the third but the defense seemed to take the foot off the accelerator. For the most part though, the defensive line was active and did a great job of shutting down the Vols' running game. Completely. Florida's defense held Tennessee to just -9 yards on the ground, the third best mark in the country so far. The offense took a hit once receiver Justin Hunter went down but it was the young offensive line that just couldn't handle the pressure Florida was generating.

All-purpose threat Chris Rainey was everywhere Saturday for the Gators' offense. He had 233 all-purpose yards and recorded his fifth career blocked punt. The Gators are still adjusting to Charlie Weis' offense and Will Muschamp's defense but Rainey is a constant playmaker that the team will have to lean on as they get into the thick of the SEC schedule. Is this team in the same class as Alabama or LSU? Not even close. But there's enough there on both sides of the ball to put up a fight with Georgia and South Carolina for the East title.

Further South, some observers would have had no issue with vacating the Ineligibowl. It just wasn't a pretty game. Ohio State was a step slow all night and Miami struggled on offense outside of their scoring drives to open and close the game. Both teams got back several players from NCAA suspension and Miami's certainly made the difference in the game: Jacory Harris was efficient outside of two boneheaded interceptions and linebacker Sean Spence truly transformed the defense into a much stouter unit that was able to apply pressure on nearly every snap.

Sophomore running back Lamar Miller set the tone early with a big run on the first play of the game en his way to a career night that made him the fourth leading rusher in the country at 151.5 yards per game. There's plenty of talent on this team to get nine or so wins but there's still moments when the Hurricanes revert to last year's form and make a boneheaded mistake. It will be curious to see how they use this game as a momentum builder going forward. At full strength and with some confidence, the Hurricanes have a little bit of swagger back.

On the other side, Ohio State is lacking an identity and has to figure out their quarterback position and do so soon. The Buckeyes have no clue about what kind of team they want to be and there could be some doubt amongst the players about head coach Luke Fickell if post game comments are to be believed.

"I felt like me and Jordan (Hall) were doing a great job in the run game, so I felt we should have just come out and ran at them," tailback Carlos Hyde told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We should have manned up and ran straight at them, see if they could stop us."

Also, don't overlook the other game in Miami on Saturday: FIU following up it's big win over Louisville with a solid victory over in-state foe UCF to start 3-0 on the season. Many had pegged the Knights as a possible BCS buster at the beginning of the season so for FIU to knock them off does wonders for a program that was the definition of a rebuilding job just a few years ago. Yes it's a Sun Belt team but with the schedule like it is, don't be surprised if FIU keeps things rolling. The defense recorded six sacks against UCF and did a great job the week before against the Cardinals. Plus they did everything without all-everything star T.Y. Hilton, who missed most of the game with a hamstring injury. Take note, the program in the state with the most upside is the one that's not in a BCS conference.

The state of Florida won't be the center of the college football universe like it was this past weekend for some time. But while it was, it delivered.

Stat of the week

Auburn's win streak was snapped at 17 games by Clemson on Saturday, which was the longest in the nation. It was the 10th longest streak in the past decade and amazingly, 10 of the 17 games were decided by eight points or less. Stanford now has the longest win streak in the country with 11, just two seasons removed from a losing record and five seasons away from the school's 1-11 mark.

Biggest reason why the Tigers' streak ended? They're 117th in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 116th in rush defense, 107th in scoring defense and dead last in the country in third down stops. Yikes.

Other stats of note

- Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege broke the NCAA record for highest completion percentage for 40 or more completions in a game. He completed 40 of 44 against New Mexico for a healthy 90.1 percent clip. He also hit 15 passes in a row at one point, tying a school record on his way to a 401 yard and five touchdown day.

- Kellen Moore's 457 yards of offense against Toledo was third most in the country this year and he averaged nearly 10.39 yards a play. His completion percentage on the season is at a remarkable 78.9 percent.

- With the loss to LSU on Thursday, Dan Mullen fell to 2-10 versus the SEC West as head coach at Mississippi State. Both wins are over rival Ole Miss. While the Bulldogs have been much more competitive under Mullen, they still haven't quite gotten over the hump just yet. He was 8-6 against the West while an assistant at Florida.

- There are beat downs and there's what Missouri did against Western Illinois. The Tigers defense allowed just one first down and 44 total yards on the day while the offense rolled up 744 total yards to set a school record that had been set just after World War II. Tailback Henry Josey ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns, the most in a game this season. The mark was also good enough to move him into sixth place on the national rushing list.

- Of the five players to top 200 yards rushing in a game so far this year, three did so on Saturday (Josey, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James).

- Georgia Tech's game against Kansas was pretty amazing to take a look at after the fact. The game delivered the longest run from scrimmage of the season (Orwin Smith went 95 yards for a touchdown), featured two 100 yard rushers and had five players with over 70 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets also piled up a school-record 768 total yards, 604 of them via the running game. The 12.1 yards per rush also set an NCAA record for highest in a game.

- Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly has games with 18, 17 and 23 tackles to lead the nation in that category. His 58 total tackles are 19 more than the next player.

- Jeff Fuller became Texas A&M's all-time receptions leader against Idaho while Cyrus Gray topped the 100 yard mark rushing for the ninth time in a row.

- Via senior writer Bruce Feldman, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has eight touchdowns and just eight incompletions.

Yard-by-yard

- Impressive, impressive comeback by Iowa from down 24-3 in the 3rd quarter to Pitt. James Vanderberg has been a little underrated early in the season in the face of replacing a longtime starter and doing so with plenty of fresh faces around him. The junior quarterback is 31st in the country in passing efficiency and 25th in total offense after Saturday's game in which he had several impressive throws in the second half in route to a 399 yard and three touchdown day. The lack of a running game has to be concerning if you're Kirk Ferentz, especially as the begin Big Ten play in two weeks with a trip to Penn State. A heck of a comeback but it's apparent there's plenty of flaws in the Hawkeyes.

- Why hello there Sammy Watkins. While it has taken some time for the Clemson offense to adjust to Chad Morris' new system, Watkins has been an explosive playmaker for the Tigers they really haven't had since C.J. Spiller left for the NFL. Yes it was against a porous Auburn defense, but this week was Watkins' coming out party to the nation with 10 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He shows an explosiveness you just can't teach whenever he gets the ball in his hands and was the spark that allowed Clemson to turn things around. A former five-star recruit, he was ranked behind fellow Tiger frosh Charone Peake coming out of high school by Maxpreps which should give you some indication what kind of young nucleus Dabo Swinney has assembled when you add in running back Mike Bellamy and quarterback Tajh Boyd. Speaking of Swinney, he channeled his inner-Howard Dean in his post game remarks on television.

- Al Golden didn't leave the cupboard bare at Temple as the Owls almost beat Penn State for the first time since Joe Paterno started coaching in Happy Valley. Despite giving up the lead late, Steve Addazio's club showed they can play with bigger and stronger team and should have no problem contending for a MAC championship this year.

- Kudos to James Franklin and what he's been able to do with Vanderbilt. After a close, 4th quarter win against defending Big East champ UConn, the Commodores embarrassed Ole Miss on Saturday 30-7. Franklin has really gotten the team and the rest of the community to buy into what he's building there and it's starting to pay off with the team's 3-0 start. Quarterback Larry Smith isn't sharp enough in the passing game yet but the offense is moving the chains on the ground and playing good defense - they're currently 10th in the country in total D. Things will get much tougher as they head on the road to face South Carolina and Alabama but with home games against Army and Kentucky and a date with Wake Forest, bowl eligibility is possible in Franklin's first year.    
 
- It looked like West Virginia finally started to get their rushing attack going against Maryland this weekend. Geno Smith is putting up great numbers from the quarterback position but head coach Dana Holgorsen knows that if the team wants to win the Big East - or beat LSU this week - they're going to have to be able to run the ball. Whether the answer at tailback is Vernard Roberts or Andrew Buie still remains to be seen but it can't just be all Smith, all the time. Tavon Austin is a dynamic threat who adds a few wrinkles but there still needs to be a consistent rushing attack so the defense can't play nickel the entire game. The Mountaineers did have an impressive three players top the 100 yard receiving mark last Saturday though.

- It was not pretty at the Rose Bowl as critics briefly turned their attention from overrating Texas to remarking on how hot UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's seat is. He's an alum who probably cares more about the program winning than anyone there yet there's been hardly any progress to show for it. The defense was supposed to be much better this year and strength of the team but it was anything but in the blowout loss to the Longhorns. Case McCoy (with a little David Ash mixed in) appears to be the answer for UT at quarterback and freshman tailback Malcolm Brown showed flashes on his way to a 110 yard day.

- I am not a believer in Nebraska's defense after playing Washington last week but they'll still do just enough to make it to the title game in their first year in the Big Ten. Still, the effort against the Huskies had a lot to be desired of a top 10 team.

- After returning from Sun Life Stadium late in the Miami night, I was surprised to find out there was not one, but two football games on and I managed to stay up for Oklahoma State-Tulsa late, late, late into the night. I couldn't believe they kicked off after midnight local time, much less that Brandon Weeden was still throwing to Justin Blackmon late in the fourth quarter - and well past 3 AM Central - with the game well in hand. Mike Gundy is not only a man, he's all in on this Cowboys team it appears. All or nothing, this is the most talented squad since Barry Sanders was in Stillwater and everybody is onboard. Why Gundy still had his stars on the field that late in the game for a blowout continues to baffle me however.

- I thought Navy's offense in the middle of the season always spelled trouble for teams that weren't ready for it - especially those coming off an emotional victory like South Carolina. The Midshipmen had a chance late but ultimately the Gamecocks ended up winning 24-21 thanks to a last minute interception. As one head coach told me, you schedule option offenses early or play them in a bowl game or else you'll end up upset. South Carolina wasn't upset but they nearly were with the way they played.

- I couldn't believe the score when I first saw it but here it was, Utah 54, BYU 10. A week ago in the Coliseum, I saw the dejected faces on the Utes sideline as their rally came up short against USC. I thought it would be another tough battle in the Holy War but the Utes smacked everybody around Saturday. Don't count out Utah as representing the Pac-12 South with USC ineligible for the title game and Arizona State still Arizona State.

- Kudos also go out to Wyoming, who blocked Bowling Green's extra point to win 28-27. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

Quote of the week

Craig James during LSU-Mississippi State: "You play four quarters in the SEC."

Tweet of the week

Myself following the second ESPN account to feature the word Genocide in place of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Not a bad nickname if he keeps putting up passing numbers in Dana Holgorsen's offense however.

"Company-wide memo about Geno & autocorrect on Monday. RT @McShay13: WVU QB Genocide Smith off to a fast start."

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Fisch's Finest

My top 10 after week 2:

1. Oklahoma

2. LSU

3. Alabama

4. Boise State

5. Stanford

6. Wisconsin

7. Texas A&M

8. Oklahoma State

9. Florida State

10. Oregon

Where we'll be this week

Tony Barnhart will be at the big Arkansas-Alabama game, Dennis Dodd will be in College Station for the top 10 matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Brett McMurphy gets another great game this weekend, showing up at LSU-West Virginia Saturday night.

Leaning this way

Arkansas-Alabama: The secondary for Alabama will be flying around and turnovers will doom an explosive Arkansas offense.

Oklahoma State-Texas A&M: The Aggies defense is underrated but this game will still be a shootout. The home crowd will give them the edge in a close one.

LSU vs. West Virginia: LSU's defense is just too much late in the game for Dana Holgorsen's offense to break through.

Across the goal line

I was going to write about conference expansion in this space but figured things would change by the time I finished writing the final paragraph. 


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