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  1. 2011 Dec 04

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Championship Week

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - No one should suggest that Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin’s head was in the CUSA Championship Game. Feel kinda bad for Case Keenum if no one else.

    - LSU is the epitome of sportsmanship. What other team spots their opponent two scores before smashing their skulls in?

    - It was impressive how Oklahoma State took down Oklahoma with the subtlety and grace of a Viking raid.

    - If you told someone that the ACC Championship Game would be 10-10 at the half before one team outscores the other 28-0, they’d likely believe you. If you told them it would be Clemson instead of Virginia Tech, you’d likely be 100 dollars richer.

    - Despite the heart-breaking loss to Kansas State, Paul Rhodes is the best thing to happen to Iowa State since the Morrill Act of 1862.

    - Thought Wisconsin would get revenge on Michigan State. Didn’t think the score would be so close.

    - Badgers running back Montee Ball for Heisman

    - Baylor is 9-3? Clearly college football has ripped open time and space allowing the sport to be swallowed by a separate time rift in which Waco demands only the finest of athletic specimen.

    - Seriously, quarterback Robert Griffin III for Heisman (RG3 if you’re nasty)

    - Still lobbying for the MAC to get a BCS berth over the Big East. You know it’s the right thing to do.

    - Final Bowl Prediction of the Week: Outback vs. South Carolina

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    Tags: houston, lsu, oklahoma state, clemson, virginia tech, kansas state, iowa state, paul rhodes, wisconsin, montee ball, heisman, baylor, robert griffin, south carolina

  2. 2011 Dec 02

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Championship Week

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    The first Saturday in December begins the end of the college football regular season. This includes conference championship games across the land, regular season finales that decide title appearances and the coaching carousel keeps spinning throughout December. Lets get right to the beef of the games, shall we?

    Marathon MAC Championship – Detroit, Michigan

    Ohio vs Northern Illinois – Friday 6:00 PM, ESPN

    MACtion makes its final regular season curtain call as the fighting Frankies head to Detroit’s Ford Field to take on Northern Illinois. The Huskies, who are ranked No. 8 in FBS rushing offense, bring in dual-threat quarterback Chandler Harnish to face a Bobcat defense that is adequate.

    Ohio is also riding a wave of momentum into this game thanks to a five-game win streak.Surprising sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards. Northern Illinois can score, but they can also be scored upon (with a No. 94 scoring defense). Look for Frank Solich to get a conference title, though this one won't take him to Tempe.

    Winner: Ohio

    Pac-12 Championship - Eugene, Oregon

    UCLA vs. No. 9 Oregon – Friday 7:00 PM, FOX

    The inaugrual Pac-12 title game will be hosted by the folks in Autzen as UCLA, accompanied by their lame duck head coach Rick Neuheisel, try to keep the spread inside 40 against the high-octane Oregon offense.

    The Bruins' defense gives up a lot of points, and the offense doesn't put many on the scoreboard. Here’s hoping Neuheisel has as much grace falling on his sword following this game as he has through the week. Oregon should cruise even without LaMichael James

    Winner: Oregon

    SEC Championship Game – Atlanta, Georgia

    No. 14 Georgia vs No. 1 LSU – 2:00 PM, CBS

    For a game that has had plenty of implications in previous years, this year’s tilt in the Georgia Dome won't factor much into who will make the BCS title game. According to whom you listen to, that is. LSU is the only undefeated BCS team in America, and they will take on a surprising Georgia squad that somehow found themselves atop the SEC East.

    Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and a better-than-most offense has saved Mark Richt’s job (again) and has bought him some time between the hedges. However, these are the LSU Tigers that they are playing. That the game's taking place in Georgia means nothing.

    The Tigers spotted a decent Arkansas team 14 points before running them out of the building by the fourth quarter. This will be close early, but put your money on the horseshoe hiding in Les Miles’ body.

    Winner: LSU

    The Defacto Big 12 Championship Game - Stillwater, Oklahoma

    No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 3 Oklahoma State - 7:00 PM, ABC

    Bedlam has arrived and folks across the country are amped, even without the fanfare and title implications that we were hoping in the middle of October. A very interesting game as Oklahoma State finally has all of the ponies to defeat the Sooners.

    However, Okie State has been known to take the night off during games like this. Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon have shown up all year, but they need one more dynamite night to get Oklahoma State into the BCS with a chance at a title game appearance.

    Oklahoma isn’t the same team on offense without the threat of injured wide receiver Ryan Broyles, whether people admit it or not. The Cowboys need a big win to get into the title game. I don’t think they'll be victorious by a wide margin, but they should finally bring a Big 12 title back home.

    Winner: Oklahoma State

    Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game - Charlotte, North Carolina

    No. 5 Virginia Tech vs. No. 20 Clemson – 7:00 PM, ESPN

    These two teams were picked by many to meet for the conference crown before the season began. Few thought that Clemson would be reeling as they are right now having lost three of their last four games. Virginia Tech is coming into the game looking to avenge their only loss of the year, losing to the Tigers in Lane Stadium 23-3 on October 1.

    Clemson was white hot on offense back then. However, quarterback Tajh Boyd is still throwing the ball pretty well, though the Hokies' defense has only improved. Usually in games like this, you look at what each team has done over the last month and factor that in heavily. That's exactly what makes the pick easy.

    Winner: Virginia Tech

    Inaugural Big 10 Championship – Indianapolis, Indiana

    No. 15 Wisconsin vs No. 13 Michigan State – 7:17 PM, FOX

    Finally, we head to Lucas Oil Stadium for a rematch between two teams who supplied us with of one of the best finishes of the year. When they first played on October 22, a hail mary pass from Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins to wide receiver Keith Nichol on the final play of the game stunned everyone as Wisconsin had come down from 14 points to tie the game with less than 2 minutes remaining.

    Both teams haven't changed much since they first met. The one thing that stands out as this game approaches is that Wisconsin’s running game has gotten bigger and better down the stretch, meaning Russell Wilson isn’t as necessary for a win. That alone could mean that the Spartans need to shut down the running game entirely and make Wilson beat them.

    Michigan State's defense isn't too shabby (No. 6 in FBS), so if Cousins can move the ball and get six on the board more often than assisting in setting up three, it should mean good things for the Spartans. That being said, I just can’t see the Badgers playing as poorly in the first half as they did in East Lansing.

    Winner: Wisconsin

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    Tags: big ten, big 12, pac12, mac, acc, sec, wisconsin, michigan state, ucla, oregon, ohio, northern illinois, lsu, georgia, clemson, virginia tech, oklahoma, oklahoma state

  3. 2011 Nov 18

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Twelve feat. T-Pain

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    Week 12 has arrived and you know what that means. Only three more weeks of the college football regular season. Sad pandas we all are. Title games are being decided and bowl bids are on the line, not to mention certain jobs. The peaks and valley’s of last week include -

    Winners:

    Clemson: The Tigers are ACC Championship Game-bound again. Now, how to win one of those things...

    Oregon: The Ducks win the Pac-12 North and will host the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. Run the table, get lucky, and the Quack Attack may be facing LSU again for all the marbles.

    Missouri: A good win against a Texas team that had an offense firing on all cylinders. Emphasis on "had."

    Virginia Tech: The Hokies are setting up their showdown with Clemson.

    Losers:

    Boise State: An inexcusable loss against TCU essentially ends the height of the Kellen Moore era. This is rather sad, because if Moore was at any AQ school, he’d be winning his second Heisman this year. Moore's a winner and will keep notching victories in the NFL. That doesn’t take away that the sting of Boise losing two crucial games by field goals during the past two seasons.

    Texas: Losing in Columbia and hearing SEC chants was bad. Losing running back Fozzy Whitaker for the year is even worse.

    Arizona State: If a team can’t show up for a game against the worst team in the Pac-12, they don’t deserve to go to the title game. The problem is that no one else in the Pac-12 South deserves to go either.

    Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets played Virginia Tech tough, but had the rug yanked out from underneath them at the end.

    Stanford: For the second year in a row, Oregon slugged the Cardinal in the mouth and they couldn’t answer. This Stanford team shouldn't have been ran out of their own home.

    Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Maryland, Syracuse and Tennessee...normally you all would deserve a special something, but one team in particular gets that honor.

    Auburn:



    To preface this, there isn’t a fantastic slate games this week to display the usual total feature on. Since this week is essentially an appetizer, we'll go through the games of main interest. Those include:

    The Good (Watch or stream these games):

    No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 22 Baylor: Can Bob Stoops and company dodge a bullet into Bedlam for a shot at the Big 12 title?

    No. 13 Kansas State at No. 22 Texas: No Fozzy and a shaky scoring could doom the Longhorns against an above average offensive output from the Wildcats.

    No. 21 Penn State at Ohio State: This'll be an interesting environment as the Lions head to Columbus thick with rumors of Urban Meyer taking the reins. This isn't even taking into account the Buckeye seniors who have been tainted from Tat-gate leaving the program.

    SMU at No. 11 Houston: If there is an offensive coordinator that won't mind going blow for blow with Kevin Sumlin, it’s SMU's June Jones. That being said, does Jones have the ponies to stay with Case Keenum?

    USC at No. 4 Oregon: Chip Kelly will have none of Kiffin's shenanigans. Kelly may hang 90 on the Trojans if Lane acts up.

    The Mediocre (keep an eye on these scores):

    Iowa at Purdue: Iowa is reeling and Purdue is riding a wave of momentum after the upset against Ohio State last week. Who will underachieve most?!

    Virginia at No. 25 Florida State: The Seminoles should roll, but the Cavaliers do give others fits.

    Miami at South Florida: Two teams that are fighting to claim the ranking of No. 3 in the state. South Florida has the better quarterback, Miami has the hyped one.

    Colorado State at No. 19 TCU: It'll be interesting to see how the Horned Frogs handle the emotional after effects of the win over Boise State.

    Kentucky at No. 14 Georgia: The Bulldogs are playing to secure an SEC title game bid while Kentucky may be playing for Joker Phillips' empoyment.

    The Ugly (You are watching cause you’re family, lost a bet, or took the line and are profusely sweating about it):

    No. 2 Oklahoma State at Iowa State: Mike Gundy's Cowboys will come firing and secure their No. 2 national ranking.

    Kansas at Texas A&M: At least we know there will be scoring in the second half.

    No. 1 LSU at Ole Miss: This would have been a game ranked higher until Houston Nutt showed his true colors. You would think Nutt would come out guns blazing, however the more analysis this game is given, the more obvious it is that the Rebels are headed for slaughter.

    No. 10 Boise State at San Diego State: Kellen Moore is mad and he’s gonna take it out on Brady Hoke's former team.

    Arizona at Arizona State: Two schools that are fighting for the Northern Nogales Chamber of Commerce seal of approval.

    Vanderbilt at Tennessee: ...I've got nothing.

    Coaches cooking in the Crock Pot this week are:

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: Sneaking into the Pac-12 title game could save you. That being said, beating USC likely will save you.

    Turner Gill, Kansas: You're provided a perfect opportunity to get people to call off the dogs on Senior Day. Unfortunately, your defense couldn’t stop a cold much less RG3. With Pinkel's issues, would beating Mizzou help much?

    Paul Wulff, Washington State: The Arizona State win helped your cause. Beat Washington and you may get a pass.

    Steve Fairchild, Colorado State: Four years in with barely a 33 percent winning percentage. Not good, although Colorado's Embree is indirectly helping.

    Randy Edsall, Maryland: Less worrying about uniform combinations and more about winning. Ralph Friedgen got fired for this freak show?

    Mike Sherman, Texas A&M: From where this team started 2011 to a must-win game against Texas to be bowl eligible. How far have you fallen? Then again, beat the Longhorns, have the crowd chant SEC as Thanksgiving night ends, and General Dog may be lenient.

    Tom O’Brien, NC State: His team has scored as many points as his team they've. Not the type of balance a football team is looking for.

    David Cutcliffe, Duke: Getting paid $1.6M at a basketball school doesn’t cut it when you have consecutive three-win seasons.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: The school in Eugene is getting the talent and the attention. Not good.

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    Tags: clemson, oregon, missouri, virginia tech, boise state, texas, arizona state, georgia tech, stanford, texas tech, texas a, m, maryland, syracuse, tennessee, auburn, rick neuheisel, turner gill, paul wulff, steve fairchild, randy edsall, mike sherman, tom o, brien, david cutcliffe, mike riley

  4. 2011 Nov 03

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Ten

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    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    It looks like we have ourselves the biggest week of the century of the season as there is a great No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that we all will watch with inquiring minds. Before we get to this week, let’s review what was. The ecstasy and the agony from last week include -

    Winners:

    Oklahoma: Even though the loss to Texas Tech is still bitter in the Sooners' mouths, they showed up in Manhattan ready to kick butt and prove that Kansas State was in over their heads. The win keeps Oklahoma in the chase for Big 12 title with Bedlam looming in the distance.

    South Carolina: A number of people (myself included) think the Gamecocks are too weak without All-Everything running back Marcus Lattimore and the stumbling, bumbling Stephen Garcia to win the SEC East. They pulled out a good victory in Knoxville against a Tennessee team that’s better than many give them credit for.

    Stanford: A slugfest that went into triple overtime at the Coliseum how you want to make a living every week, but the Cardinal toughed out against Southern California and, most importantly, got the win. Oregon is just down the road. If Stanford defeats the Ducks, they’re in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game.

    West Virginia: The Mountaineers had a big comeback in the snow against Rutgers, but the biggest winner in that game was…

    Eric LeGrand: For the first time back on the sideline since being injured and paralyzed last October, you sure made it dusty in a snowstorm.

    LOSERS:

    Texas A&M: It’s not that the Aggies lost to Mizzou, it’s that they blew a double digit halftime lead…for the third time this year.

    Baylor: A lot of yards, but not a lot of points. This isn’t a good mix.

    Iowa: How did the Hawkeyes con people into thinking you could win the Big Ten this year? The TicketCity Bowl could be head coach Kirk Ferentz’s swan song.

    Kansas: Not a lot of yards, no points, and no one watched.

    Clemson: Everyone sort of knew a letdown was coming, but the Tigers did fight hard. Clemson’s a good team. They just need to keep their eyes on the prize of an ACC Championship and BCS bowl.

    Florida, Ole Miss, Illinois, Texas Tech and Vanderbilt:

    Brady Hoke is going to give you all all of the advice he can muster for your respective teams to turn things around:



    On to the weekly festivities! (All times Central)

    Texas A&M at No. 6 Oklahoma – (2:30 PM, ABC)

    The Aggies, fresh off of another embarrassing loss after blowing a two-score lead, head north to Norman to take on a Sooners team hell-bent on not losing another game this year.

    Bob Stoops had his team ready to go last week as they pasted Kansas State in the Sunflower State, which is better than the previous week as Texas Tech dished out a whooping of their own on the Sooners at Gaylord Family/Memorial Stadium.

    From previous weeks, you know the players to watch on both sides on offense, but do take note of the Sooners’ defense, which has been pretty hot and cold over the last month. The secondary was a liability against Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege and the Red Raiders, which doesn’t bode well going against Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannenhill.

    Considering that the Aggies’ season is on the brink of complete collapse, they will come out swinging and try to get into a track meet with Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles.

    That’s not a good idea, though. Oklahoma still has national championship dreams and need a quality win to show to the voters that the Texas Tech debacle was a fluke. Look for Oklahoma to flex their muscle and get the win at home.

    No. 9 South Carolina at No. 7 Arkansas – (6:15 PM, ESPN)

    The second biggest game in the country (and in the SEC, for that matter) takes place in Fayetteville, as The Ol’ Ball Coach’s Click-Clack Gang head west to take on Bobby Petrino’s high flying Razorback attack. Both teams gutted out victories on the road last week.

    Some wonder about the ability of the Gamecocks to win out to get to the SEC title game (this author included), however if South Carolina has a good defensive showing as they did last week, they have a shot at SEC glory. Arkansas ranks as one of the top 10 FBS passing attacks, and features a top 20 scoring offense, so something has to give. Since is a home game under the lights, Arkansas has the edge, but don’t be surprised if this game goes down to the wire.

    No. 14 Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State – (7:00 PM, ABC)

    The Bill Snyder family is licking its wounds due to the whipping that the Sooners laid on them last week. In an effort to rebound, they’ll try to slow the Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium, which is far easier to suggest than do.

    Last week, Oklahoma State took the spurs to a Baylor team that moved the ball but couldn’t score. Kansas State can actually throw the ball well (No. 20 nationally at 210 yards per game), but their passing attack pales in comparison to Brandon Weeden and his merry men with hands of glue.

    It’s hard to see the Wildcats doing very well in this type of game, especially at night where Boone Pickens Stadium is a rough place to play. Look for the Cowboys to keep the pistols firing on the way to the No. 2 ranking Sunday’s polls.

    No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama – (7:00 PM, CBS)

    The game all true college football fans have been waiting for is finally here as the Tigers head into Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide. Shockingly, this is the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular season matchup in SEC history. Both teams come in off of a bye week, so what’s lacking in injury issues is made up for with schemes and game preperation.

    Both teams are all about ball control on offense and stifling defenses. LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee has had a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, however Nick Saban’s defense hasn’t allowed one second half point since September. Alabama is ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, while the Tigers are No. 3.

    This game will be decided by who can run the ball better. LSU doesn’t really shock you with how they do it, but one of Nick Saban’s core defensive ideals is shutting down the run come hell or high water. We all have been told that Jarrett Lee is much better at making decisions, and he will have the biggest spotlight to prove it under.

    The Tigers’ receivers will not find as much open space as they have been. Personally, I feel that no one has brought their best game against LSU all year. The team that came closest was West Virginia, who decided that defense was optional. Everything seems to point to Alabama on this one. The winner will be the nation’s undisputed No. 1, and essentially punches their ticket to New Orleans.

    Games to keep an eye on include:

    Louisville at No. 24 West Virginia – The Cardinals are getting better. Can Dana Holgorsen’s group not fall asleep due to the early kickoff time?

    Texas Tech at No. 21 Texas – With the quarterback issues in Austin, Texas Tech’s Seth Doege could tear this Longhorn team up and cause a riot in Austin. Bonus: People will actually be watching this game.

    No. 4 Stanford at Oregon State – A possible trap game for the Cardinal? The Beavers aren’t good by any stretch, but this is FBS college football. Anything is possible.

    No. 19 Arizona State at UCLA – The Sun Devils have the inside track to the Pac-12 title game through the South division. Bruins head coach Rick Neuheisel needs this win to potentially save his job.

    No. 8 Oregon at Washington – *UPSET ALERT* Washington is good enough to give Oregon fits on both sides of the ball. Night games in Seattle cause the oddest things to happen.

    And now, a word from the “Head Coaches Whose Pants Are on Fire” department:

    Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – Same song and dance, coach. A loss to Auburn was seen coming by many. Can you and your incompetent team beat Kentucky?

    Neil Callaway, UAB – I didn’t know how much of a stacked deck UAB had, but after reading this piece by Pre Snap Read, the Blazers job makes the Memphis tilt sexy.

    Turner Gill, Kansas – How was it growing young men who get their asses stomped in Austin? Did that help these guys grow into fine, upstanding people? The Jayhawk boosters need a bake sale to get your butt out of that job.

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA – See above and against USC’s Kiffykins on how to keep your job.

    Mike Sherman, Texas A&M – A new entry this week, Sherman has to be feeling some pressure after his team dismantled themselves again against Missouri. For having such promise coming into the season, things have spiraled quickly. Then again, Sherman can guide his team to the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day vs. Iowa to make them feel better.

    Tom O’Brien, North Carolina State – Russell Wilson wasn’t needed at all, keep reminding yourself of this.

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    Tags: oklahoma, south carolina, stanford, west virginia, eric legrand, texas a, m, baylor, iowa, kansas, clemson, florida, ole miss, illinois, texas tech, vanderbilt, brady hoke, houston nutt, neil callaway, turner gill, rick neuheisel, mike sherman, tom obrien

  5. 2011 Oct 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Eight

    1,271 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Week eight has arrived with the Halloween season (and Christmas decorations BAH HUMBUG), and everyone’s conference season is in full tilt. The BCS standings are out, and bowl bids are starting to be sized up. Lets take a look at the ups and downs from last week -

    Winners:

    Michigan State: A nice little upset at home versus the Wolverines. Can’t say that anyone needed to be punched, though.

    Oklahoma State: Did a good job taking care of business against Texas. Keep working towards Bedlam.

    Clemson: What a comeback against Maryland! The Tigers can’t afford to live on luck every game, though.

    Oregon: No LaMichael James and a hurting Darron Thomas? No problem! However, the quicker they can get healthier, the better.

    Losers:

    Indiana: A bad loss to Wisconsin, and just a hint of advice: Don’t kick punts into the butt of your personal protector.

    Michigan: Live by Denard, die by Denard. The defense lived up to expectation, but the offense…meh!

    Georgia Tech: a loss to Virginia? Really?

    Kansas: Congratulations, you covered the spread! A moral victory!

    Texas, Maryland, Iowa State, Arizona State and Florida:



    And now here’s something we think you’ll really like (all times Central):

    No. 20 Auburn at No. 1 LSU – (2:30 PM Saturday, CBS)

    The LSU/CBS network carries the Battle in the Bayou between Gene Chizik’s Tigers against Les Miles and his Ragin’ Cajun Tigers. As for Auburn, they earned a well-fought victory against Florida last week, while LSU decapitated Tennessee in Knoxville.

    The main focus of this game is the suspension of three LSU players, most notably starting Safety Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu. Even with one of their better safeties out, the Bayou Bengals shouldn’t have an issue with the anemic Auburn offense. Look for Les’ group to have the most fun between the two Tiger teams on Saturday afternoon.

    No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 16 Michigan State (7:00 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson and the high octane Badger offense (that’s odd to type, to be honest with you) roll into East Lansing for a primetime night game. They’ll face the best defense on their schedule thus far as Sparty tries to ride a wave of momentum after defeating Michigan.

    This is the first time all season that Wilson will be tested outside the friendly confines of Camp Randall. He has to pass this test to get people to believe in both the Badgers as true national title contenders and himself as a legitimate Heisman contender. Something has to give between the FBS’ highest scoring offense and the No. 4 scoring defense.

    Don’t forget that the team which plays the most complete game usually wins these high-profile affairs. Michigan State can’t score enough points to outdistance Wisconsin, but don’t be surprised if the final score is much closer than you think. Over The last few years, Michigan State has made a living by winning nighttime Big Ten games at home that most think they shouldn’t

    No. 25 Washington at No. 8 Stanford – (7:00 PM Saturday, ABC)

    It’s "Sark Week" in Northern California as the Huskies go down to Napa Valley to take on Andrew Luck and the undefeated Cardinal. Luck has been rolling along this year, while Keith Price has been a pleasant surprise as Jake Locker’s replacement for Washington. The only loss of their season was in Lincoln earlier this year.

    Stanford is the most complete team in the Pac-12 right now with both the offense and defense ranking No. 5th in the FBS, a model of efficiency. Washington has been good on offense, but they give up 28 points per game. That’s not what you to throw at Andrew Luck. Stanford takes this one in a high-scoring bout.

    Other games to keep an eye for this week include:

    No. 4 Oklahoma State at Missouri – A big time upset alert. That said, Mizzou can’t even sell this game out?

    No. 9 Arkansas at Ole Miss – Bobby Petrino’s gang wants more blood and the Rebels are hemorrhaging it.

    No. 22 Georgia Tech at Miami (FL) – The Yellow Jackets were embarrassed by Virginia. They’ll be going against a Miami squad that can fall asleep at times.

    No. 10 Oregon at Colorado – How will the Ducks fair in the altitude minus both LaMichael James and maybe Derron Thomas?

    Tennessee at No. 2 Alabama – The Crimson Tide needs to find consistent some offense before LSU, and if you don’t think so, Saban could give…well, he doesn’t care.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Bob Toledo, Tulane - WHOOPSIE. Apparently when you’re 15-40 over your career with the Green Wave, it’s time to call it a legacy (if you can). It’s hard not to feel for Tulane.

    With the effects of Hurricane Katrina still taking their toll on the school’s athletic department, there’s not much that can be done. Barely getting 10,000 people per game in the Superdome and having LSU/Louisiana-Lafayette winning doesn’t help either.

    Turner Gill, Kansas and Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – We put these two together not because they are joined at any coaching hip, nor do we think that either school will win this week.

    We're putting them together because no matter how many losses Houston or Turner will end up with this year, there is a good possibility that both coaches will not be fired at the end of the year.

    Both have buyouts that are pretty hefty and it will take a lot of money being ponied up to get them to hit the road. For Gill, this saves him for another year. Kansas has shown time and time again they don’t know how to run a football program. However, for Ole Miss, there’s a far better chance that some wealthy booster can put up the money necessary.

    Nutt only has one year left on his deal after this season, though. For the Rebels’ program, it’s simply a question of if they want to pay the penalty as opposed to lose one more season to a guy that has shown he has no clue.

    Jeff Tedford, Cal – Utah is pretty similar to the Golden Bears and has the same record. That does mean Cal can beat them...right?

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA – A two game stretch against Arizona and Cal. Welp, good luck against the Golden Bears.

    Tom O’Brien, North Carolina State - Good luck against Virginia, a team that should be easier than you thought after the euphoric win over Central Michigan last week.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: michigan state, oklahoma state, clemson, oregon, indiana, michigan, georgia tech, kansas, texas, maryland, iowa state, arizona state, florida, auburn, lsu, wisconsin, stanford, bob toledo, turner gill, houston nutt, jeff tedford, rick heuheisel

  6. 2011 Sep 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Five

    5,504 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    It’s hard to believe that there are football games happening outside of Madison this week (GASP!). This is where you find out what else is going down and where it’s going down at. Last week’s winners and losers include -

    Winners:

    Georgia: Congrats Bulldogs, you kept your heads out of the guillotine just long enough by embarrassing someone else for a change. Then again, considering it was Ole Miss, that wasn’t a difficult project.

    Oklahoma State: You battled back from trailing Texas A&M early on the road to pull out a big win. Take care of everything before December, and you’ll have your opportunity to make the big time.

    LSU: The Tigers took the potential of getting ambushed in Morgantown very well. Les Miles’ offense bailed out the defense for once, and The Hat just keeps on winning.

    Arizona State: Save the Illinois stumble, the Sun Devils have been the biggest surprise out of the Pac-12 so far this year. They had a fine win against Team Kiffykins.

    Losers:

    Pittsburgh: For the second week in a row, the Panthers snared defeat from the jaws of victory. The Big East won’t feel bad for them at all though.

    Toledo: The Rockets were flat out jobbed by an incompetent officiating crew from ref to replay official. What an awful way to lose a game.

    Arkansas: The Razorbacks had their chance, and proved they were in over their heads again. If things don’t improve this week…well, let’s wait on that thought.

    West Virginia: A good performance by quarterback Geno Smith, but the Mountaineers had no answer for LSU’s offense. WVU will get better though, at least if no one is faking injuries.

    Ole Miss, Memphis, NC State: This is fitting:



    Onto this week’s dandies! All time CDT, of course.

    No. 14 Texas A&M vs. No. 18 Arkansas – (11:00 AM Saturday, ESPN)

    Yours truly will be in Jerryworld to watch the first SEC conference game for the Aggies as they take on the fighting Hogs. Both teams lost last week, Texas A&M with a disappointing second half versus Okie State, while Arkansas really wasn’t ever in the game against Alabama. Arkansas quarterback Trevor Wilson was efficient last week, but nothing spectacular. “Efficient” isn’t going to beat Saban’s team.

    While A&M doesn’t have the defense that Nick Saban possesses, the Aggies are stout. Running back Ronnie Wingo, Jr. has to put up better numbers than last week for Arkansas to improve. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was alright last week, but RB Cyrus Gray wasn’t and didn’t help the A&M effort once they started to struggle.

    Don’t think that head coach Mike Sherman didn’t notice the success Alabama had running the ball with Trent Richardson. Arkansas has won the two games against A&M in Arlington so far, but there’s no reason to think that the Aggies won’t take this one. Texas A&M’s defense will be the difference in 2011.

    No. 15 Baylor at Kansas State – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    Who'd have thought that this game would have Big 12 conference championship implications at the beginning of the season? Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has more touchdowns (13) than incompletions (12) this year, and has shown that he’s definitely worthy of Heisman consideration. Baylor rolls into Manhattan, Kansas to play Bill Snyder’s Wildcats, who pulled off a semi-shocking, convincing win against Miami (FL).

    Junior quarterback Collin Kline hasn’t been great for the Wildcats, but he’s going to have to start putting together longer drives to keep RG3 off the field. The Kansas State defense is only giving up 10 points per game, but it was given a stern test against the Canes and the Bears could run roughshod over it.

    Look for Griffin to struggle a touch more than he has, but he will still have a great game and Baylor should win setting up an October with some big games for the Bears to prove they belong in the upper tier of the Big 12.

    No. 13 Clemson at No. 11 Virginia Tech – (5 PM Saturday, ESPN2)

    A potential ACC title game preview goes down in Lane Stadium Saturday evening when Dabo Sweeney takes the surging Tigers to face Frank Beamer’s Hokies. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has played well for the Tigers, who are off to a fantastic start. Running back David Wilson has been the star for the Hokies on offense, but Virginia Tech hasn’t faced a true challenge thus far.

    While Bud Foster’s defense has been great for the Hokies, Virginia Tech has been in much tighter games than expected. Clemson has only played at home during their great start, and this is one of two major road tests for the Tigers.

    With the wave of momentum that Clemson is riding, their chances are better than people think, and it’d be no surprise if they walk out of Blacksburg with a win. If the Hokies do go down, they can’t lick their wounds for long, as the Miami Hurricanes will be visiting next week.

    No. 3 Alabama at No. 12 Florida – (7 PM Saturday, CBS)

    The other Game of the Week takes place in the warmth of The Swamp. Nick Saban goes from one big game to another and Will Muschamp finally gets to be the head man in a big time SEC conference showdown. The Crimson Tide comes off a game where running back Trent Richardson played out of his mind again, and a swarming defense took the wood to a respectable Arkansas offense.

    Florida’s offense has evolved into an unstoppable monster under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are the fastest one-two punch in the SEC, and quarterback John Brantley has taken his game to another level. These two teams have rock solid defenses, so this one will come down to who can win a three-plus hour chess match.

    Saban pulls everything out of his kids in this type of atmosphere. Can Muschamp coach at his level? The game will be low scoring. The winner’s tough to call, but Alabama seems to be the appropriate lean right now. Check the weekly Husker Locker predictions to see who is ultimately chosen.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Mike Locksley, New Mexico: Whoops! The axe finally fell on Mike this weekend after a “recruit” stole a car registered to Locksley and his wife. It didn’t help that this young man was underage and hit the sauce hard. If this was the final straw for Mike, that’s a sad statement from the New Mexico athletic department. Such is life though, and the interstate game vs. New Mexico State is here. For the families, folks, for the families.

    Houston Nutt, Ole Miss: In a game where the loser may have gotten fired on the way back to the showers, you no-showed again in the second half. Also, you didn’t even talk to the media after the game. Instead, you send out offensive coordinator David Lee to take the bullet for you. Do you think Fresno State will care if you feel bad and pull punches?

    Tom O’Brien, North Carolina State: How’s Russell Wilson treating you? Wait, nevermind.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: A win over Burfict’s boys in the desert? Not likely.

    Danny Hope, Purdue: Beating Notre Dame would save your job for the season. Not beating them would be both terrible and is expected.

    Larry Porter, Memphis: Really? SMU runs you out of your own stadium?

    Mike Stoops, Arizona: In a shocker, the Wildcats were beat down by Oregon and will be beat down by Southern Cal. Why? Because that’s the norm for Arizona football.

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: georgia, oklahoma state, lsu, arizona state, pittsburgh, toledo, arkansas, west virginia, ole miss, memphis, north carolina state, texas a, m, baylor, kansas state, clemson, virginia tech, alabama, florida, mike locksley, houston nutt, tom obrien, mike riley

  7. 2011 Sep 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Four

    2,054 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    As the season officially turns to fall, time once again to take a look at last week’s winners and losers, and a look forward to this week’s games.

    To start us off again, the biggest gains and losses from last week

    WINNERS:

    Oklahoma – Went into a tough environment against a gritty team and found a way to win. Time to focus on running the Big 12 as it currently exists.

    Notre Dame – They needed a big game versus Michigan State and got it.

    Clemson – Things came together for the Dabo gang versus Auburn. Don’t celebrate too long though Tigers (the ones that won), as things don’t get easier.

    Miami (FL) – Very impressive how the Canes took control of that game against Ohio State.

    LOSERS:

    Arizona – Another big game for the Cats under Mike Stoops, another egg laid. Stanford ran them out of their own house.

    Michigan State - What? Why? Where did you go, D’Antonio?

    Mississippi State - That’s the best the Bulldogs can do on offense? Dan Mullen, you didn’t even give your team a chance. Let us all know when you think you can be relevant without ducking out on the big stage again.

    Ole Miss, Kansas, Pittsburgh, and Auburn - May I introduce napalm to erase those bad memories?



    To this week’s watch list! All times Central:

    No. 14 Arkansas at No. 3 Alabama – (2:30 PM Saturday, CBS)

    Another week in the life of head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, another ranked SEC opponent coming into Bryant-Denny Stadium for their enjoyment. The Arkansas Razorbacks come to Tuscaloosa for a afternoon meet and greet. Head coach Bobby Petrino brings in an offense that is ranked No. 8 in the FBS in both passing and points per game. The most surprising stat is that Arkansas ranks No. 17 in points allowed, giving up a hair over 12 per game.

    Granted, their games haven’t been against teams better than Missouri State and Troy, so take those numbers for what they’re worth. The Tide is ranked No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing less than a touchdown per game, so this should be a great matchup for both teams. The fact that Petrino has junior quarterback Tyler Wilson and not All-SEC Ryan Mallet will be the difference here.

    Mallett was adept at making necessary passes, and Wilson won’t have seen a defense this good all year. Saban lives for these high-pressure home games, and Petrino tends to field a team that folds like a cheap tent when away from War Memorial Stadium. This contest shouldn’t be too high scoring, but Alabama will win comfortably. If Arkansas does lose, they can’t hang their heads for long, as a battle with Texas A&M looms the next week.

    No. 7 Oklahoma St. at No. 8 Texas A&M – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC)

    This game will crown the main challenger for Oklahoma’s Big 12 championship bid. The Cowboys had a very late, interesting game against Tulsa last week, while the Aggies wore out Idaho at home. Two of the top three passers in both the conference and FBS will be on display, as Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden goes will be looking for All-American wide out Justin Blackmon. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be taking center stage for the Aggies.

    While both offenses are stellar, the Aggies’ defense is doing their part, only giving up 10 points per contest, although they’re just two games into the season. The difference will be a Cowboy defense that looked shaky at times against Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulsa.

    Head coach Mike Gundy’s team doesn’t fear anyone, and they seem to play well with an “us against the world” mentality. This game will be close no matter what, and it’s very tough to call a winner. Regardless, the loser is not out of the conference race, but they’ll need help.

    No. 11 Florida State at No. 21 Clemson (2:30 PM Saturday, ESPN, ESPN3, etc.)

    The ACC conference slate kicks off for both teams with a visit to Death Valley for the Seminoles. Last week, Clemson played a very tough game versus Auburn, while Florida State gave Oklahoma all they could handle. FSU Quarterback E.J. Manuel has a bruised shoulder, and is questionable at best. His dual-threat abilities gave the Sooners fits, but if he isn’t ready to go, expect Clint Trickett to air it out, as the Noles proved their running game is far from effective.

    Clemson doesn’t really impress on the stat sheet, but they’ve played very well as a unit. Quarterback Tajh Boyd and running back Andre Ellington have been impressive at times for the Tigers, but in order to win this game and grab a hold of the sit at the head of the ACC Atlantic’s table, Clemson has to prove they can stop the pass. Look for the Tigers to come away with a somewhat ugly, yet convincing win, and for Florida State to go back to the drawing board.

    No. 2 LSU at No. 16 West Virginia (7:00 PM Saturday, ABC)

    The final game of the night will be live from Morgantown, when the Bayou Bengals travel to the Smoky Mountains. LSU comes into the game with their #2 ranking, but they haven’t been truly tested by anyone yet. Quarterback Jarrett Lee has managed the offense well enough to let the defense do their thing against teams like Oregon and Mississippi State.

    West Virginia comes into the game with the high-flying Dana Holgorson offense that has been more misses than hits through the season so far. While the Mountaineers’ offense, led by quarterback Geno Smith has been good, but not as great as it can be, the defense has been a tad tepid and that’s being kind. Don’t forget, this is the same team that had Maryland driving for the go ahead score late in the game last week.

    While this should be the biggest test for the LSU defense to date by far, the offense should be able to put points on the board, again without Lee doing much. West Virginia will score, but they won’t be able to be effective enough. LSU should prevail once again, but the score should be closer than people may give the Mountaineers credit for.

    Either way, it will be the most festive in-game atmosphere you may ever see, as the allowance of alcohol sales inside the stadium should bode well for the both Tiger and Mountaineer fans who likes to enjoy the occasional adult beverage…or three.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat

    Turner Gill, Kansas – That was bad, Turner. Georgia Tech just destroyed your charges. Texas Tech arrives in two weeks, and your Jayhawks had better be ready.

    Houston Nutt, Ole Miss – Vanderbilt ran you off the train tracks, sir! That’s right, Vanderbilt! I’d expect to see you bomb this week yet again, but you get to go against..

    Mark Richt, Georgia - Georgia vs. Ole Miss this week in Oxford. At least if Richt loses, he may not be fired in the tunnel going back to the locker room after the game. Houston Nutt on the other hand...

    Rick Neuheisel - UCLA, Mike Riley - Oregon State – UCLA vs. Oregon State. The winner gets to live. For how long, who knows? At least the players’ families will be watching.

    Mike Stoops, Arizona – This is getting old, sir. Your team wasn’t prepared and you were outcoached..again. Oregon comes to town this week, so I recommend drafting excuses right now.

    BONUS: Dan Beebe - Big 12 Commissioner (for now) – It was really your fault after all, wasn’t it Dan?

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: oklahoma, florida state, miami, ohio state, notre dame, arizona, michigan state, mississippi state, ole miss, kansas, pittsburgh, auburn, arkansas, alabama, oklahoma state, texas a, m, clemson, lsu, west virginia, turner gill, houston nutt, mark richt, mike riley, dan beebe

  8. 2008 Dec 29

    The Clemson Side - Dec. 29

    720 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Some Clemson updates for you:

    Clearly, the Tigers are viewing Thursday's game as a matchup between Nebraska's offense and the CU defense. Wise? We'll see. Clemson's scheme is similar to the same design used by Texas Tech this year - a design that NU carved up for 31 points and 40 minutes of possession. Clemson doesn't have as potent an offense as Tech, so the Tigers' better have some tricks up their sleeve, right?

    You know Georgia coach Mark Richt? His son, John, is the Clemson scout team quarterback. Does he fail to show up one week out of the year like his dad's teams?

    Tiger players and coaches saw their old leader, Tommy Bowden, trading on his name and getting a spot on the ESPN desk for the bowl season. I'll bet that warms Clemson's heart. Based on the conversations I had with Tiger players, there isn't a drier piece of toast than Bowden.

    Tags: gator bowl, clemson

  9. 2008 Dec 19

    No Quit in Cullen, Clemson

    266 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    It was near the end of another Nebraska football practice, and one of the beat writers had a question: What was the compelling storyline of NU’s Gator Bowl game against Clemson?

    He asked, of course, because he didn’t see one. CU was 7-5. The Tigers had little history with the Cornhuskers. Even though Clemson had some big names on its team, it wasn’t Florida State. And if you didn’t know already, reporters suffered through FSU withdrawal just like fans did.

    I bristled at the question. I don’t like it. I never do. There are, of course, lots of storylines surrounding the Gator Bowl. Whether they are suitably “compelling” for the ESPN set, or some magazine’s football analyst, is immaterial to the Nebraska fan. Thank goodness movies aren’t judged as worthy or unworthy by those standards. We’d be on “Saw 178” by now.

    At any rate, I provided a number of ideas – Bo and Dabo squaring off as new coaches, the Huskers getting a second crack at the ACC, Joe Ganz finishing out his career on national TV on New Year’s Day, where a Nebraska quarterback belongs - but the best didn’t come to me until this week, talking with Clemson players.

    The storyline is this: When given the opportunity to fold and dive head first into the tank like Nebraska did in 2007, Clemson did just the opposite, cutting its dead coaching weight halfway through the year, finishing strong and pummeling rival South Carolina in the last game of the season to earn an unlikely Gator Bowl bid to play NU.

    “We had so much adversity to go through to get to where we are,” CU quarterback Cullen Harper said. “We had to deal with the criticism of ‘Clemson let us down again.’ It was tough. Then we went through the midseason coaching change, and that was extremely tough.

    “But we kept on playing despite all the negative stuff. We knew if we came together and played the way we were capable of playing, everything would take care of itself.

    The Tigers were ranked No. 9 in the preseason polls. A couple of fools – certainly not this one – labeled them ready for a run at the national title. CU running backs James Davis and CJ Spiller were the best tandem in college football. Harper was a feel-good story right out of the Joe Ganz playbook. And Clemson’s defense always puts up a good fight.

    But the Tigers bombed in their opening game against Alabama, a team that turned out to be better than anybody thought at the time. From there, Clemson won three in a row, but then lost tight games to Maryland and Wake Forest.

    That’s when things got messy.

    Current coach Tommy Bowden, on his final life of nine, so to speak, in Death Valley, decided to bench Harper after the Thursday night loss to Wake. Harper had been playing behind an inexperienced offensive line and struggling with a shoulder injury.

    “It was just a hard time,” Harper said. “Because I knew I had the talent and the ability to help this team.”

    Harper’s teammates blamed offensive coordinator Rob Spence, not Harper, for the mess. At the time, Spiller said “some people wanted the offensive coordinator fired.”

    Oh, that happened, in a sense, when Bowden decided to suddenly resign four days after the Wake game. He announced his resignation to the media, walked away from the podium and directly into his office, where he shut the door and did not take questions.

    “It surprised us all,” Harper said.

    Receivers Coach Dabo Swinney took over as the interim coach. Then Swinney fired Spence the same day he got the job and put 29-year-old tight ends coach Billy Napier in charge of the offense.

    Now that’s how you kill the source of player apathy. Imagine if Bill Callahan – or, heck, Steve Pederson – had taken half those steps last season, instead of circling the wagons and putting on a happy face.

    “It didn’t take long for us to start believing in Coach Swinney,” Harper said. “He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He’s got everything you look for in a head coach. He’s somebody you want to play hard for.”

    Swinney immediately went about restoring CU’s relationship with the fans. In his first game as coach, he walked up to “Howard’s Rock,” placed both hands on it and kissed it to the roar of 85,000 fans. Bowden didn’t even know he was supposed to touch it when he began at Clemson.

    The new coach also created a “Tiger Walk,” similar to Nebraska’s pregame journey into the Osborne Complex, and told Clemson fans about it. It was a 400-yard walk from the buses to the locker room. Orange covered every step of it.

    “Fans had to be there about 9:45 in the rain,” Harper said. “But they were all there. Now we do it every home game. It shows you how much they care when they show up at 9:45 on a rainy morning to form a line for us to walk through.”

    Harper got his job back and the Tigers started “taking more shots downfield.” Napier had the offense using Spiller and Davis more in space, where they could make their own plays. Clemson didn’t start suddenly scoring 40 points a game, but the Tigers did get some of their big-play magic back.

    The offensive line gelled, guard Thomas Austin said, and the seniors took charge.

    "We were 3-3 and the season was going downhill quickly," Austin said. "I was worried we were going to play uninspired football that our seniors would be like 'we're going to the NFL' or 'this is my last season, no big deal.' But from the minute Coach Swinney took over, he unified us, and senior leadership really stepped up and said 'We're not going to let thing get away from us.' We didn't throw everything away. We had a lot on the table still."

    It all culminated in a 31-14 thrashing of rival South Carolina, a game in which Clemson dominated every aspect of the game.

    “That’s one of the best memories I have,” safety Michael Hamlin said. “I got calls from people after that. They were like, “How’d you lose five games?’”

    It’s a much better question than “how’d you lose seven?” Don’t you think?

    Tags: gator bowl, clemson

  10. 2008 Dec 15

    The Walk to the Rock

    244 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Related video

    Cover photo for the The Clemson Experience videoWatch video
    The Clemson Experience
    1 comment
    422 views
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    Wanted to show you this video about Clemson's entrance to the football stadium and its fans each home game. It certainly is unique and just as good as Nebraska's Tunnel Walk. Enjoy!

    Tags: clemson, gator bowl

  11. 2008 Dec 11

    The Story of Dabo

    478 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Terrific read on Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, who took over the Tigers midseason and led them to the Gator Bowl and a Jan.1 date vs. Nebraska.

    Swinney's a keeper, folks: Honest, upbeat, forgiving. Good stuff.

    Tags: clemson, gator bowl

  12. 2008 Dec 07

    Embracing Your Inner Tiger

    715 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Maybe you wanted Florida State. Maybe, like me, you were intrigued by a potential matchup against the wingbone offense of Georgia Tech.



    Still - embrace Clemson as the Gator Bowl opponent for Nebraska because, in truth, the Tigers, despite being 7-5, best fit the criteria for a good bowl foe. Their record isn’t sexy, and there isn’t a lot of tortured history between CU and NU like the animosity the Huskers enjoy with the Seminoles. But Clemson fits the bill as a solid bowl foe in all the crucial ways:




    *A name team with skilled, recognizable stars. If you haven’t been asleep for two seasons, you know the Tigers have plenty of talent, headlined by running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller, nicknamed “Thunder and Lightning.” CU’s quarterback, Cullen Harper, has struggled in 2008, but is still projected as a first-day NFL Draft pick. Receiver Aaron Kelly could easily fit in amongst the star pass-catchers in the Big 12. Safety Michael Hamlin is one of the best defensive players in ACC.




    *Clemson actually wants to be in Jacksonville. Arrogant, nonchalant Florida State doesn’t want to be at any bowl game, frankly, if it isn’t a glory game. That’s just the FSU mindset. Beat Miami. Beat Florida. Play in the Orange Bowl. A game against Nebraska would have been greeted with much less enthusiasm in Tallahassee than it was in Death Valley. How many Garnet & Gold folks would have bothered to make the trip, anyway? Fewer than 10,000? Would you, as a Nebraska fan, want to spend a couple grand to go see empty seats?



    *CU has momentum. Just like Nebraska, Clemson comes to the Gator Bowl on a high note, as opposed to Florida State, which would stumble in after a humbling loss to Florida. Because of new, young coach Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s excited about its future in general. At FSU, where Bobby Bowden inexplicably continues to coach mediocre, troublemaking team after mediocre, troublemaking team to further diminish his legacy, momentum is defined by whether the quarterback-of-the-day can produce a touchdown drive.




    *Nebraska fans can mix with a fan base as rabid as their own. Clemson is probably more of a regional program than NU, since native Nebraskans tend to get transplanted to the corners of America more than just about any other group of fans, but the passion is the same. NU can mingle can mingle with 40,000 or 50,000 folks clad in orange and purple. Fans of both teams can trade war stories on the failed regimes of Bill Callahan and Tommy Bowden.



    *Clemson looks cool. To be fair, so does Florida State and GT. But only the Tigers have the alternate purple jerseys. Here’s hoping Swinney pulls them out for the Gator Bowl.

    Tags: gator bowl, clemson

  13. 2008 Dec 07

    Nebraska's Going Gator - Officially

    566 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Considering The Gator Bowl's Web site was already touting merchandise featuring Nebraska and Clemson as potential opponents, it was a foregone conclusion that NU would be heading to Jacksonville for New Year's.

    But the 8-4 Cornhuskers made that destination official Sunday afternoon, accepting the Gator Bowl's invitation to play the 7-5 Tigers on New Year's Day. The game will be played at noon and will be televised nationally on CBS. Nebraska will get a $2.5 million payout for its presence.

    "It's a class bowl game," NU Coach Bo Pelini said. "We're looking forward to playing another game down there...we're excited about having a chance to play on New Year's Day. This is a great reward for the team. The kids have worked hard. They've bought into the coaching staff. They've been through a lot of adversity along the way."

    On Clemson, Pelini said: "They're very talented. I'm familiar with a lot of their players through recruiting. They've always done a good job of recruiting. They're very well-coached football team."

    For former Nebraska coach and current athletic director Tom Osborne, it's another trip to the Florida, where he coached NU to two of his three national championships.

    "It should be an interesting venue for players and fans because it will be a different place," Osborne said. "I've always heard good things about the Gator Bowl."

    Halfway through the season Nebraska seemed bound for one of the Big 12's smaller bowls, like the Alamo, Sun or Insight. But, as first reported here, the Gator Bowl had its sights on NU so long as it could finish its regular season 8-4. When the Huskers pulled out a 40-31 victory over Colorado last Friday, the ticket was punched.

    Clemson, too, was an unlikely choice until the last couple weeks of the season, when it won two consecutive games - including a 31-14 rout of rival South Carolina - to become bowl eligible. The bid put a silver lining on a difficult season in which the Tigers watched their national title hopes quickly disappear in a 34-10 opening-season loss to Alabama. A month later, coach Tommy Bowden stepped down, 39-year-old Dabo Swinney took over, and CU made a late 4-2 charge through the rest of its ACC schedule.

    Swinney was rewarded with a long-term contract right after the South Carolina win. Sunday, he praised Nebraska's tradition - growing up in Alabama, Swinney said he recalled Nebraska v. Alabama games in the late 1970s - and Pelini, whom Swinney followed from afar while Pelini was at LSU.

    "He's instilled his temperament and personality into his team and had great results already," Swinney said. "...The biggest things that jumps out at me is these guys are playing hard. They're going to be a very sound football team defensive and do a lot of things on offense."

    Nebraska and Clemson have one previous meeting; the Tigers won their sole national title with a 22-15 win in the 1982 Orange Bowl. Osborne remembered that game Sunday as one of the toughest atmosphere he's ever played in.

    "I remember it was very loud," Osborne said. "Clemson had a lot of people there...it was memorable. Naturally we would have liked to have done better. But I thought our team played well."


    Five Cool Things About Jacksonville!

    Tags: gator bowl, clemson

  14. 2008 Dec 03

    It's the Tigers, Officially

    2,099 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska’s football team has to wait until Sunday for its invite to the Gator Bowl. NU’s opponent, Clemson, happily gave its RSVP on Wednesday, putting a thick, orange layer of lipstick on what had been a pig of a season in Death Valley.

    CU’s administration forced the resignation of longtime coach Tommy Bowden in the middle of the season. From there, the talented Tigers of the ACC turned the tide, won four of its last five under interim-turned-permanent coach Dabo Swinney and hammered rival South Carolina 31-14.

    “It’s a great tribute to our football team, these players, these seniors, the coaches, for what they’ve accomplished over the last seven weeks,” said Swinney who received a five-year contract Monday. “When we were a 3-4 football team, we could only dream about a New Year’s Day bowl. For that to be a reality as we sit here today is a very special thing. Those kids got it done.

    “…We were fighting, clawing, just hoping we could get a bowl. But to have a New Year’s Day bowl, that’s something special. That kind of separates us from the pack.”

    That pack includes 8-4 Florida State, the only team to beat Clemson over the last month of the season. The Seminoles won 41-27, have a storied bowl history with Nebraska, and generally considered a bigger name than the Tigers, who will be making their ninth trip to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl.

    Gator Bowl team selection chairwoman Kelly Madden said bowl officials argued for each team during a Monday meeting.

    “It was the longest in my history - three hours,” Madden said. “It was very interesting and very spirited. We had a lot of dialogue. We had passionate, passionate opinions on both sides. Both would have been great choices. But it came down to the momentum that (Clemson) has had, the way they finished up their season, and the excitement.”

    Translation: Clemson’s fans, a bunch as rabid for their team as Nebraska’s Big Red Nation, will take upwards of 50,000 fans to Jacksonville. FSU fans, having already been to Jacksonville earlier this year for a neutral site win over Colorado.

    CU Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips only partially agreed with that assessment.

    “We’re blessed with fans who have a passion, and they truly love the football program,” Phillips said. “And they will follow it. But regardless of how strong your fan base is and how passionate they may be, ultimately you have to perform on the field, you have to have something that will be exciting for game.”

    Swinney referred to Nebraska as a “great opponent” while Madden demurred to talking about the Huskers.

    NU knew CU might be one of the potential opponents, and the Huskers’ offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, already had film of the Tigers waiting for him back in his office after NU’s Wednesday practice.

    “We’ll start looking at them,” Watson said. “We’ve got to patiently wait, but that won’t stop us from starting to prepare.”

    Watson called Clemson “very athletic.” Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh agreed.

    “It’d be a delight to play that team,” Suh said. “They’re a great team.”


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    Tags: clemson, gator bowl

  15. 2008 Dec 02

    Hello, Clemson

    1,319 views

    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Nebraska's eventual Gator Bowl opponent - when it is officially announced - should be Clemson, Gator Bowl sources told the Jacksonville Times-Union.



    The Tigers (7-5) are going through a transition similar to what Nebraska experienced in 2007, forcing Tommy Bowden to resign halfway through the season, and hiring a 39-year-old assistant, Dabo Swinney, after the Tigers went 4-2 in his interim period.



    CU was ranked in the preseason top ten of both the coaches and media polls, but was badly blown out by No. 1 Alabama in their opening game 34-10. Bowden stepped down after a loss to Wake Forest. Swinney took over and led Clemson to a 4-2 finish, including a 27-21 win over Boston College and a 31-14 victory over rival South Carolina. Swinney, who played receiver on Alabama's 1992 national championship team, was named full-time coach on Monday and given a five-year contract.


    Like NU, Clemson won its last three games of the season. The Tigers enjoy fervent fan support, which was the likely determining factor in selecting CU over Florida State, which beat Clemson 41-27 during the season, but traveled poorly to Jacksonville earlier this year for a 39-21, neutral-site victory over Colorado. A number of Clemson fan sites have been emailing the Gator Bowl over the last three days, lobbying for a bid.


    The Gator Bowl's Web site officially says the announcement will come Wednesday to announce both teams. Nebraska has been in the GBA's sights for weeks.



    Statistically, the strength of the Tigers is their defense, ranked 16th nationally in total defense and ninth in scoring defense. Some of that ranking is because of weak offenses in the ACC - there are seven ACC defenses ranked in the national top 25 of total defense - but the Tigers do a good job of playing a bend-but-don't-break defense. Safety Michael Hamlin leads the way with 102 tackles and six interceptions. However, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will not return in the new Dabo administration, he was fired by Swinney on Tuesday.



    On offense, Clemson is led by running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller, nicknamed "Thunder and Lightning." Spiller is especially dangerous, accumulating 1588 all-purpose yards, including 546 on kickoff and punt returns.




    Quarterback Cullen Harper threw for 2,395 yards and 11 touchdowns this year. Bowden benched Harper midway through the season for backup Willy Korn, a move believed by some to be the last straw in Bowden's tenure. Swinney, upon taking the job, reinstated Harper as the QB.



    Like Nebraska, the Tigers have struggled with turnovers, committing 27 this season. CU has fumbled 26 times, losing 13 of them. Unlike NU, Clemson has caused its share of turnovers, with 25. The Huskers have only forced 15.


    We'll have more as it comes in.

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    Tags: gator bowl, clemson, nebraska football

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