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  1. 2011 Dec 22

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Audible Audibles Feat. Elika Sadeghi of Eleven Warriors

    1,492 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Husker Locker's Brandon Cavanaugh sits down with some of the biggest and brightest minds in college football with the site's newest feature: Audible Audibles.

    This week, Elika Sadeghi, a contributing writer of one of the elite Ohio State athletics web sites Eleven Warriors stops by.

    Topics include:

    - Sadeghi's take on Nebraska
    - Capital One Bowl intrigue
    - The NCAA's verdict on Ohio State
    - NCAA punishment reform
    - The Gator Bowl featuring Ohio State vs. Florida
    - And more!

    Finally, the bewitching Buckeye goes Three and Out. Will Sadeghi answer the three questions given or call an audible?

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.



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    Tags: huskers, capital one bowl, ohio state, gator bowl, florida, urban meyer, ncaa

  2. 2011 Dec 05

    Husker Heartbeat 12/05: Carl Pelini to FAU Prepped, Capital One Travel Tips and Helu Hits One Hundred (Again)

    2,905 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Florida Atlantic is primed and ready to name Carl Pelini its new head coach

    - Capital One Bowl-goers should take to the skies, then hit the road

    - Shatel: Doc Sadler pins his basketball team's to Creighton on his technical foul faux pas

    - The Lady Husker roundballers knock out Texas Pan American

    - Former Husker Roy Helu adds another 100-yard game to his resume

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    Tags: florida atlantic, carl pelini, capital one bowl, doc sadler, creighton, basketball, roy helu

  3. 2011 Dec 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Huskers' 2011 Bowl Possibilities

    3,518 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By James Stevenson

    Since Nebraska sat out the Big Ten title game, Husker fans’ attention has turned to dreams of a sunny Florida getaway in January. Nebraska is hoping to be selected for their first New Year’s Day bowl game since 2009.

    It’s not safe to book plane tickets just yet as the Huskers have three or four realistic bowl destinations. While three are in Florida, the worst-case scenario could send you to get a bit of dry heat.

    The top five Big Ten Bowl tie-ins are:

    1. Rose Bowl (Big Ten Champion)
    2. Capital One Bowl
    3. Outback Bowl
    4. Gator Bowl
    5. Insight Bowl

    Some ground rules to understand in terms of Big Ten Bowl Selection: The loser of the conference championship game cannot fall past the Gator Bowl. This prevents things like Nebraska’s Big 12 office-aided rematch with Washington last year. Secondly, the Capital One and Outback Bowl cannot take any team if there is a team that has two fewer losses available. In other words, you can’t take a 6-6 Ohio State team over a 9-3 Penn State squad.

    A quick look at the current Big Ten standings and BCS rankings:

    13. Michigan State (10-2)
    15. Wisconsin (10-2)
    16. Michigan (10-2)
    19. Nebraska (9-3)
    21. Penn State (9-3)
    Iowa (7-5)
    Northwestern (6-6)
    Purdue (6-6)
    Ohio State (6-6)
    Illinois (6-6)

    Stunningly, the Big Ten has 10 eligible teams, but only eight bowl bids. Fortunately for the conference (and maybe Illinois), Michigan is looking to crash the BCS party, which should move everyone up a notch. If the Wolverines can crack the BCS Top 14 (which should happen as they pass Michigan State due to their loss and Georgia since they tanked in the SEC Championship game), the Wolverines are almost a lock for an at-large BCS berth in the Sugar or Fiesta Bowl. This is very important.

    Best Case Scenario: Capital One Bowl – Jan 2 – Orlando, Florida (ESPN)

    Nebraska vs. Arkansas

    Assuming Alabama and LSU play a rematch in the national title game and Michigan gets into the BCS, the Huskers would face the 10-2 Razorbacks here. This would be a tough match-up, though Nebraska’s improving secondary play would give them a legitimate shot.

    Bo Pelini’s defenses seem to play exceedingly well with a long time to prepare, but the Razorback defense has become quite stingy. Hopefully the Huskers could pick on former Nebraska commit cornerback Tevin Mitchell who defected to Arkansas.

    Second Best Option: Outback Bowl – Jan 2 – Tampa, Florida (ABC)

    Nebraska vs. South Carolina
    (Expected: Michigan State vs. South Carolina)


    It’s not a guarantee that Michigan makes the BCS. Baylor could leapfrog the Maize and Blue thanks to their win over Texas. Regardless, if for some reason Michigan doesn’t crack the BCS Top 14, the Capital One Bowl would select them over Nebraska.

    This would be good news for anyone who likes Bloomin’ Onions though, as the Outback Steakhouse-sponsored bowl would happily bring the Huskers to Tampa. Look for another SEC matchup against another great defense, one that will test Tim Beck and the Huskers offense.

    Near-Worst Case Scenario: Gator Bowl – Jan 2 – Tampa, Florida (ESPN2)

    Nebraska vs. Florida/Auburn
    (Expected: Ohio State vs. Florida/Auburn)


    This is probably the easiest SEC match-up the Huskers could hope for. There’s almost no way this scenario would happen, though. Michigan State would’ve had to win the B1G Championship, Michigan would have to be absent from the BCS, and the Outback Bowl would need to decide that the Badgers' Russell Wilson and Montee Ball will sell more seats and garner more TV ratings than the Huskers.

    It’s a possibility, but given how poorly Wisconsin fans travelled to the Big Ten Championship game, one would think that the Gator Bowl is resigned to taking the Big Ten title game loser if Michigan doesn’t make the BCS and otherwise will reach to grab the Buckeyes and their re-energized fanbase.

    All Hell Breaks Loose Scenario: Insight Bowl – Dec 30 – Tempe, Arizona (ESPN)

    Nebraska vs. Texas A&M
    (Expected: Penn State vs. Texas A&M)


    It’s hard to imagine how this scenario could play out. Maybe Bo Pelini finds another job, or a scandal breaks for Nebraska. Michigan misses the BCS, and Urban Meyer decides to actually coach the Ohio State Bowl game.

    This is unlikely to happen, but despite Sun Devil Stadium being a house of Husker horror, the storyline of a “rematch” with Texas A&M would somewhat entertaining (as long as they didn’t use Big XII officials). It’s more likely that Penn State plays here in a contest surrounded by terribly disappointed fans.

    All in all, it looks like the Huskers will be heading to Florida to take on an SEC opponent, and likely a good one. The Big Ten Bowl possibilities are pretty amazing after coming from the Big 12, so it’s exciting to look forward to what should be such a high-quality opponent and bowl game looming on the Husker schedule.

    The best news: any of these cities is within decent driving distance from each other. Most importantly, you can go see Mickey and the gang at Disneyworld.

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    Tags: big ten, rose bowl, capital one bowl, outback bowl, gator bowl, insight bowl, michigan state, wisconsin, michigan, penn state, arkansas, south carolina, auburn, florida, texas a, m

  4. 2011 Nov 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Superconference Construction - The ACC

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    By HuskerLocker

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    Contribution by Brett Baker

    With all this talk of Superconferences, a few members of the Husker Locker Crew sat down and hammered out how they’d handle the ever-changing climate of NCAA athletics.

    First up, Brett Baker took over the Atlantic Coast Conference for a day.

    Commissioner Baker reached out and added Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Central Florida. His reasoning is as follows:

    “Pitt & Syracuse both bring strong athletic traditions. They are cyclical in football and always good in basketball. Rutgers was chosen in a squeaker over West Virginia. It's a better market, there are better academics, their state is actually on the Atlantic coast and they don't burn couches. The last spot came down to UCF and South Florida. While USF has a much bigger endowment, UCF has a much bigger student body and an on campus football stadium. That wins with me.”

    Divisions:

    North Atlantic:
    Boston College
    Maryland
    Virginia
    Virginia Tech
    Wake Forest
    Pittsburgh
    Rutgers
    Syracuse

    South Atlantic:
    Central Florida
    Clemson
    Duke
    Florida State
    Georgia Tech
    Miami (FL)
    North Carolina
    North Carolina State

    Football Championship Game Sites:

    “My requirements were to have an open air NFL stadium, major city, grass surface, and a school within the same state as the stadium. With that in mind, I selected four stadiums and placed them in a four year rotation.”

    2012 - Meadowlands Stadium “Why not start in the biggest media market in the country? The only glitch: Not real grass and it might be a bit chilly. Those factors are far outweighed by being in the NFL's second best stadium.”

    2013 - Raymond James Stadium “The home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a great facility in a town that’s easy to navigate with weather that's likely to entice fans on the fence about whether to go to the championship game or not.”

    2014 - M&T Bank Stadium “Baltimore is an awesome city that has put a tremendous amount of effort in to make sure people enjoy their visits. The inner harbor will be a great place to enjoy pre-game festiviesi. Fells Point is where you want to be the night before and immediately after the game.”

    2015 - Bank of America Stadium “Charlotte is in the heart of ACC country and deserves to be a part of the title game mix.”

    Basketball Men's Tournament Site:

    “Great conference tournaments become great because they find a home and stay there. Football may be the driving force behind superconferences, but basketball is the heart and soul of the ACC. That's why I'm going with ‘The Cable Box’.“

    Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte “It's not Tobacco Road, but you can see it from there. North Carolina is in the heart of this conference. The tournament needs to be played there.”

    “Everything else is negotiable. Football and men's basketball are the money makers so they get priority,” Commissioner Baker said.

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    Tags: acc, pittsburgh, syracuse, central florida

  5. 2011 Nov 28

    Husker Heartbeat 11/28: Lavonte David's Legacy, Nebraska Bowl Projection and NU is No. 2

    3,474 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Lavonte David's has left a legacy in two years that most couldn't hammer out in five

    - BTN's Brent Yarina predicts that David will take Big Ten Defender of the Year honors and five Huskers will make first-team All-Big Ten

    - ESPN projects a Capital One matchup between Pelini's Cornhuskers and Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks

    - The Lady Nebrasketballers stay perfect after stunning No. 24 Florida State

    - Nebraska volleyball is tabbed as the No. 2 seed overall in the race for the national championship

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    Tags: lavonte david, capital one bowl, south carolina, volleyball, basketball, florida state

  6. 2011 Nov 03

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Ten

    1,477 views

    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

  7. 2011 Oct 27

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Nine

    1,453 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    It’s week nine, ya’ll! There are only a few marquee games this week as the push to the finish line kicks into high gear. Last week’s thrills and spills include -

    Winners:

    Texas Tech: An impressive start and great win in Norman, especially after the weather delay. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege had his coming out party and the whole team played fantastically from top to bottom.

    Southern California: A great win in South Bend. Even though the Trojans have nothing to fight for at the end of the year, they’re still showing up week in and out.

    Arkansas: A tremendous comeback from the depths of Hades against Ole Miss to win (Don’t worry, the statement on Houston Nutt is worthwhile this week)

    Syracuse: Coming back from the depths of the Greg Robinson mistake, the Orange impressed a national crowd with a win against West Virginia.

    Michigan State: We called it here last week. Sparty wins conference games that shouldn’t be close with heart-stopping theatrics.

    Losers:

    Oklahoma: What was that, Sooners? A letdown game? There’s no excuse for that.

    Illinois: A few people called it (including our editor-in-chief and newbie James Stevenson). We all got Zooked.

    Missouri: Not only could the Tigers not come close to matching Oklahoma State’s offense, but the Missouri faithful couldn’t sell out a game featuring the No. 4 team in the country.

    Kansas, Auburn, Georgia Tech and SMU:



    On to our Pre-Halloween fun (All times Central):

    Baylor at No. 3 Oklahoma State (2:30 PM ABC Regional)

    The Art Briles Bears head north up I-35 to take on a white-hot Cowboys team. Mike Gundy’s crew is still undefeated, headed towards a possible Big 12 title and national championship bid. For Baylor, it always starts and ends with Robert Griffin III at the helm throwing to wide receiver Kendell Wright.

    Last week, Baylor had a bye week after their pasting from Texas A&M while the Cowboys took care of business in Columbia against Missouri. The defenses will be tested well in this ballgame, with Baylor ranked No. 101 in points allowed.

    Oklahoma State is a more pedestrian No. 65. This is a game that should scare OSU coach Mike Gundy, as RG3 has been slowed down, but never completely stopped.

    However, the Cowboys' money combo of quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon is just too much, especially when in the friendly confines of Boone Pickens Stadium.

    No. 9 Oklahoma at No. 8 Kansas State (2:30 PM, ESPN)

    This becomes a do-or-die game for Bob Stoops against a surprising Kansas State team. Bill Snyder has his team playing hard with a fierce running game and a defense playing far better than expected allowing just less than 20 points per game.

    Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and running back John Hubert have rushed for over 600 yards each already, and the defense has been good enough to hold up their end of the bargain. Oklahoma looked lethargic on offense and even less inspired on defense against Texas Tech, especially in the secondary.

    Stoops shut off media access to his team this week. He’s angry, as he well should be. A pissed off Sooners team is not a welcome sight. Look for a close game, but Oklahoma will prevail.

    No. 22 Georgia at Florida (2:30 PM, CBS at EverBank Stadium – Jacksonville, FL)

    Shine up your stirrers! The World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party attendees renew their love in north Florida when the Bulldogs and the Gators meet in their annual tilt. Georgia has become the front runner for the SEC East title after starting their season fighting for Mark Richt’s job. Florida, on the other hand, has played hard but have a three-game losing streak thanks in large part to injuries.

    The Gators have said that John Brantley will start at quarterback, although there are whispers that he’s not ready to get back under center. Regardless, Georgia is the better team right now and can help their case for a division title with a win.

    They are out of the SEC Championship Game for now unless South Carolina loses (a likely prospect). Georgia takes this game as Florida is just not playing well right now, especially on offense.

    No. 6 Stanford at Southern California – (7:00 PM, ABC)

    The final featured game of the week pits Andrew Luck against Matt Barkley and Lane Kiffin’s de facto Pac-12 title game due to postseason ineligibility.

    The Trojans made a statement last week against Notre Dame, while Stanford rolled Washington at home. The defenses are going to be tested like they will be in Stillwater, however there is much more at stake for Stanford than there is for USC.

    If the Cardinal wins this one in Los Angeles, they set up a big game for the North division against Oregon in Palo Alto. That becomes a revenge game for last year’s whooping in Eugene. Coach Kiffykins and his quarterback have their hands full going against a defense that only gives up 12 points per game, No. 5 overall.

    Luck has to live up to his billing over the next few weeks for Stanford being taken seriously in case teams slip and a spot in the national title chase opens up. Expect a good game and for Stanford to squeak by.

    Other games of note across the 48 states of the Union include:

    No. 25 West Virginia at Rutgers – WVU’s Big East title hopes are on life support. They need this win badly.

    Ole Miss at No. 24 Auburn – A regeneration game for Auburn. Let’s see how much they can improve.

    Kansas at No. 24 Texas – This should be a tune-up for Texas. For the 38 of you that can actually watch it, let us know how it goes.

    No. 5 Clemson at Georgia Tech – *MAJOR UPSET ALERT* Georgia Tech is angry, at home, and Clemson is due to have a bad game on the road.

    No. 15 Wisconsin at Ohio State – Wisconsin will play better against the Buckeyes, but expect Ohio State to come out guns blazing.

    Coaches that have a Three Mile Island burn going on the back of their pants include:

    Turner Gill, Kansas: People are now realizing that Turner is in over his head at a school that should have never hired him. Remember when there were rumors that Auburn wanted Gill? Who knew that Gene Chizik would have been the better option?

    At least there will only be (how many people have the Longhorn Network again? Oh, right.) 38 people watching th Jayhawks get stomped.

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: You got stomped by an Arizona team that has been a train wreck all season long. How does that treat you? At least Cal will only beat you at home in front of a third’s capacity.

    Kevin Wilson, Indiana: Mr. Wilson is now included on this list for the simple reason that he’s not very impressive right now. Furthermore, the loss of one of the country's top recruits (quarterback Gunner Kiel) doesn’t help matters. I like Wilson, but he needs to get his team back to basics. Fundamentals win ballgames, kids.

    Jerry Kill, Minnesota: Only this school would give a contract extension with a decent sized buyout to a guy that admits he’s over his head. Bravo. Maybe the FireJerryKill.com guy isn’t so off the mark after all, eh?

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi: I’m saving the final bullet for you.



    This is video of Houston Nutt’s post-game press conference last week when his no talent Rebels gave up 29 unanswered points to Arkansas snagging defeat from the jaws of victory. 30 seconds into this video, he goes after Ole Miss’ Rivals.com writer Neal McCready for his prediction that Ole Miss would lose 49-10 to the Razorbacks.

    Obviously, if you cover the spread, it’s a victory in Houston's eyes. Moral victories don’t count in the win-loss column, Nutt! This is your team, your staff, your fourth year!

    Let me guess, if McCready didn’t write that piece, it wouldn’t be as satisfying to lose by only 12 points in your 10th consecutive conference loss, would it?

    Let’s review your tiresome crusade to justifying over-signing: Throwing others under the bus when you lose such as your offensive coordinator, the NCAA for putting recruiting restrictions in place, and the kids you wanted until you realized during summer conditioning that they weren’t as good as you thought.

    Not to mention the upperclassmen that you dump on the side of the road because you have a freshman that you don’t want to redshirt. It’s all their fault, isn’t it Houston? Anyone but you.

    You are the poster child for everything wrong with college football. When things go wrong, it’s someone else’s issue, except when you win. I despise Bobby Petrino with a passion, but thank goodness that Arkansas hired him and not you.

    I hope you lose out and Pete Boone fires you in the tunnel after Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen embarrasses you. Then, I’d like to see you try to get another FBS job and pull these stunts, because fans across the nation will come after you wherever you may roam.

    There might a spot opening up in Lawrence after this year, so why not be the joke in the Big 12? You’d do a fine job taking the place of Colorado as the conference’s laughing stock.

    Then again, the thought of you being on the field with Gary Pinkel with both of you trying to outwit the other…that’s how black holes are made, isn’t it?

    Rant over.

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    Tags: texas tech, usc, syracuse, michigan state, oklahoma, illinois, missouri, kansas, auburn, georgia tech, smu, oklahoma state, kansas state, florida, stanford, turner gill, rick neuheisel, kevin wilson, jerry kill, houston nutt

  8. 2011 Oct 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Eight

    1,270 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    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.

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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

  9. 2011 Oct 16

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions – Bye Week

    5,429 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    - The original defensive game plan thrown at Wisconsin may work well against Michigan. Robinson’s a great runner, but is an incredibly inaccurate passer.

    - Michigan State’s going to be a tough bunch to beat. Kirk Cousins and Edwin Baker are a cut above what Ohio State brought to town

    - Still not sure if Penn State’s home-field simply doesn’t offer that big of an advantage or if fans have been that apathetic this season.

    - Without running back Mike Trumpy, it’s hard to think that Northwestern has the talent necessary to outlast the Cornhuskers.

    - Did the outcome of yesterday’s slate of games seem just plain weird to anyone else?

    - Florida and Auburn should both be ashamed of yesterday's display.

    - Who had Kansas State sitting at 6-0 halfway through the season in their pool?

    - Usually bye weeks are somewhat refreshing, but this one felt odd. Oh well, back to action as Nebraska takes on a Golden Gopher squad in a game that provides three levels of entertainment: The game, the final score, Jerry Kill’s post-game quotes.

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    Tags: michigan, michigan state, minnesota, jerry kill, kansas state, florida, auburn, edwin baker, denard robinson, penn state, mike trumpy, northwestern

  10. 2011 Oct 06

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Six

    1,127 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Week six of the 2011 campaign has arrived. By the first week of October, there’s a pretty clear cut list of contenders and the pretenders. As always, you can’t look forward until you look back. Last week’s highs and low’s include but are not limited to -

    Winners:

    Arkansas - For being down so much, the Hogs showed some great resiliency and came back for their third straight win in Arlington over Texas A&M

    SMU – Headed across the DFW metro, they started fast, and hung on to earn a good program-building win against TCU.

    Kansas State – Played exceptionally well at home taking care of Baylor and officially being put on sleeper watch for the Big 12 title.

    Auburn – Needed the win against South Carolina to keep their fledgling SEC West hopes alive and got it.

    Losers:

    Texas A&M – Two weeks in a row they had a large cushion at halftime, two weeks in a row they lose the game by less than a score. Where’s the Wrecking Crew?

    Mississippi State – Another SEC loss against a team they should have taken care of at home (Georgia). Again, wake us up when the Bulldogs want to play some football.

    Virginia Tech - A field goal at home against Clemson? That is all the Hokies could do?

    Florida – Losing against Alabama wasn’t terrible, however the loss of quarterback John Brantley isn’t what they needed, then or now.

    Minnesota, Kansas, South Carolina, Purdue…welp:


    Now, on to this week’s shows! All times are central.

    No. 3 Oklahoma vs No. 11 Texas – (11:00 AM Saturday, ABC)

    Get your Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, Fried…whatever you want and your sweet tea, kids! Time to head on down to the Texas State Fair and catch up on this year’s version of the Red River Rivalry. For the first time in a while, both teams are ranked fairly high in the polls. You know about Oklahoma and their playmakers on offense (quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles), but many people have not seen Texas on a national level yet.

    Texas has gotten better, primarily by using a two quarterback system with Chase McCoy and David Ash, however McCoy has been the one truly shining lately. With wide receiver Jaxon Shipley catching McCoy’s passes, it reminds Longhorn fans of the glory days they lived a few years back.

    Defensively, Texas has been better with Manny Diaz at the controls, but this will be their biggest test of the year to date. Mack and the Longhorns need this game to prove to the fan base that the program has pulled a 180 from last year’s 5-7 debacle. However, there is just enough of a talent gap that Oklahoma should be able to quiet the Texas offense enough to get the victory.

    No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU – (2:30 PM Saturday, CBS)

    This game has lost some of the luster that it would have had thanks to Florida quarterback John Brantley’s leg injury. In his place, highly touted freshman Jeff Driskel starts his very first game…at Death Valley in front of a national audience.

    While the Gators played well at times against Alabama last week, the game showed that Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis still have work to do, and this game will show it even more. LSU just keeps plodding along, with Jarrett Lee at the helm of the offense and a defense that hasn’t given up much to anyone other than West Virginia. Look for LSU to win this one, but Florida will give it their all.

    Miami at No. 21 Virginia Tech – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    Al Golden takes a neatly-pressed dress shirt and tie along with his Hurricanes into Blacksburg to face a Hokies squad that is not pleased with their performance against Clemson. Last week, Miami played tee ball against Bethune-Cookman, so they will be looking to gain some momentum against Virginia Tech. As Jacory Harris goes, so goes Miami.

    While Harris wasn’t great against Ohio State, he has played fairly well in the last couple of games. For the Hokies, running back David Wilson has been their rock, but quarterback Logan Thomas still hasn’t shown all that he can do yet. Tech needs him to take his play to another level for the Hokies to avoid a two game losing streak, excuses be damned.

    Miami can’t be trusted on the road, especially in conference play. Furthermore, Frank Beamer has to get his team realizing that a second conference loss in a row could be disaster for a once-promising season. Take the Hokies at home in this one.

    No. 15 Auburn at No. 10 Arkansas – (6 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    Auburn is the road underdog once again this week as they travel to Fayetteville to take on a Razorback team hoping to capitalize on the momentum gained from their come-from-behind win against Texas A&M.

    Last week, Auburn silenced the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and took care of a very inconsistent South Carolina team. Auburn is not a squad that scores points easily, and doesn’t shut down the opposition very well either.

    One team that is superior to them in putting up points is these very Arkansas Razorbacks. For some reason, Auburn will stick around in this game until the end because that’s just what they have done this year. Arkansas’ chances are favorable, specifically since it’s a home game. However, do not be shocked if Auburn can keep it close and possibly squeak out a win.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Frank Spazani, Boston College – Things are not good for you right now, sir. Sitting at 1-4 and going to play Clemson doesn’t help. Scoring less than 21 points per game isn’t an encouraging statistic, either.

    Robb Akey, Idaho – You had a chance to shock the world with a defeat of Virginia in overtime last week. Being ranked somewhere in the 90s when it comes to scoring offense and defense doesn’t help. Louisiana Tech comes calling for you this week.

    Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Neil Callaway (UAB) – Both teams are underperforming, so both teams naturally have to beat up on each other. Neither team can afford the loss, either.

    Mike Stoops, Arizona – You mange to score 41 against Southern California and it doesn’t matter come the end of the game. Absolutely shocking. You do have a chance for a win, this week, against...

    Mike Riley, Oregon State – Another ball game for the families. This game’s winner isn’t winning much, one would believe.

    Larry Porter, Memphis – The Tigers are currently running through an absolute gauntlet of a schedule with last week’s toughie against Middle Tennesee State and this week’s bout against the monsters known as the Rice Owls.

    Danny Hope, Purdue – What Notre Dame did to you last Saturday was rated “M.” Whether “M” was for mature or moronic, who knows?

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    Tags: arkansas, smu, auburn, texas am, mississippi state, virginia tech, florida, minnesota, kansas, south carolina, purdue, oklahoma, texas, lsu, miami, frank spazani, robb akey, dan mullen, mike stoops, mike riley, neil callaway, larry porter, danny hope

  11. 2011 Sep 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Five

    5,499 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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.

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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

  12. 2011 Sep 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Four

    2,053 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?

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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

  13. 2011 Sep 14

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Three

    1,897 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    That’s right. We both know what time it is. Again, before we look at this week, let’s take a moment to remember last weekend’s winners and losers.

    Winners:

    Michigan – Opening the “new” Big House at night was a rousing success with a comeback win against Notre Dame. The Wolverine defense needs to improve, but overall a great experience.

    Iowa State – A great win to win the paper mache Cy-Hawk trophy. Make sure to use Gorilla Glue while putting that thing back together.

    South Carolina – Congrats on pulling out a tough win in Athens. The Gamecocks now have the upper hand on the SEC East. (CLICK-CLACK)

    Arizona State – A good win on a national stage for their program. Since the Pac-12 crown is somewhat up for grabs, Mizzou was great preparation for the conference schedule.

    Losers:

    Notre Dame – Maybe Brian Kelly is this year’s Gerry Faust. Cursed? Who knows.

    Missouri – Another big game for the Tigers, more questionable decisions by Gary Pinkel.

    North Carolina State – How is Russell Wilson playing fo.... oh, yeah. He was told to pack up and split.

    Georgia, Louisville, Memphis, Iowa - Here’s your sign:



    Now, on with the show! All times CST, of course.

    No. 3 LSU at No. 25 Mississippi State – (7 PM Thursday, ESPN/ESPN3/ESPN 3D, etc.)

    Thursday night SEC football comes at us with Les Miles and the Tigers heading to in Starkville to face Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs. Last week, the Tigers took care of business against Northwestern State, while Mississippi State was shafted out of their game thanks to bad officiating at Auburn (Look at the tape). While Jarrett Lee’s stats aren’t very good, he’s been what Miles needs - an efficient game manager that keeps the Tigers out of in-game ruts.

    Mississippi State’s playmakers were discussed last week, and while quarterback Chris Reif put them in some bad situations, Mississippi State running back Vick Ballard is the real deal. Since Les Miles hasn’t had an appendectomy to remove Mr. Ed’s horseshoe out of his spleen, LSU should do well enough to squeak out a win on the road before get a beignet by Friday morning.

    No. 15 Michigan State at Notre Dame (2:30 PM, NBC)

    Notre Dame has very little time to lick their wounds before Mark D’Antonio brings his savvy Spartans into the confines of South Bend. While Michigan State has been alright offensively, the defense has been stout, giving up only six points in two games.

    This is already a make-or-break game for Brian Kelly. Starting 0-3 with a schedule that should probably have resulted in an 2-1 start at worst could spell doom for him in a hurry.

    Sticking with Tommy Rees at quarterback is Notre Dame's best option. Rees made some great throws last week. The defense...well…Kirk Cousins should have his first 300-plus yard passing game of the year. The Spartans will win in South Bend, making the soft howls for Kelly’s job even louder.

    Tennessee at No. 16 Florida (2:30 PM, CBS)

    Derek Dooley marches into The Swamp for an afternoon romp with Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. Tennessee surprised a lot of people last week with their borderline convincing win at home against a decent Cincinnati team. For Florida, this will be the first test after warm-ups against Florida Atlantic and UAB.

    Muschamp has the defense operating well, while Charlie Wies has done a fine job with John Brantley. Which Tennessee team shows up this week? The Vols are still young, but Dooley makes them grind out tough games, and obviously this is no exception. Florida has enough defensive ability to keep Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and running back Tauren Poole quiet enough for Florida to pull away late.

    No. 17 Ohio State at Miami (7 PM, ESPN)

    Dolphins Stadium gets stunk up and unfilled again for a Miami Hurricanes home game, this time against THE Ohio State University. Jacory Harris and his talented, arm-punting ways make their debut after a one game suspension and Ohio State gets a few players back themselves. Many nicknames are being used for this game, but how about “a rout”?

    Al Golden pulled plenty of effort out of the Canes in Maryland, but Luke Fickell gets more out of his Buckeyes. Ohio State’s Joe Bauserman seems to be the man at quarterback, even with the talented Braxton Miller on the sidelines.

    Miami will be ready to play, but the Buckeye defense should give Harris fits. Jacory is either money or counterfeit, there’s no middle ground. The Bucks should win easily, but if Bauserman struggles, the calls for Miller will get louder.

    No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State (7 PM, ABC)

    The game of the year: this week’s version will come from Tallahassee as Big Game Bob brings his loaded Sooners to take on Jimbo Fischer’s hyped yet virtually untested Seminoles.

    Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles will be ready to test a defense that had what were essentially paid scrimmages from Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern thus far.

    Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has been stellar so far this year, completing passes at a 66-percent clip. However, the most alarming thing for the Seminoles is their running game, or lack thereof. With only 262 yards total through two games, Florida State will have to do much better on the ground to challenge the Sooners.

    This game comes down to attitude. Oklahoma breathes this type of big game air all the time, while Florida State hasn’t had a reason to feel the nerves yet. Jones should have a good day, and the Sooners should win this one, but a close score won’t truly tell the story.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Brian Kelly, Notre Dame: As mentioned above, sitting at 0-3 would not be a good thing. Yes, you are close to making hay with this team, and you more than likely won’t be getting fired any time soon, but you need this game against MSU.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: We all knew your team had no chance against Wisconsin. Negative four-yard punts didn’t help, but let’s accept it and move on. You have two weeks to prep for UCLA which may or may not get a skull-kicking by a pissed off Texas team. Get better fast, sir or start looking up moving companies.

    Mark Richt, Georgia: Again, your Bulldogs played pretty well against a better team. However, you again came up short. The Dawgs are playing well, but they just need to put together four quarters of good football. Your game against Coastal Carolina is a paid scrimmage, so use it wisely.

    Mike Stoops, Arizona: That beating you took in Stillwater was harsh, yet was seen a mile away. Don’t breathe easy just yet, because Andrew Luck is coming to town. Lose this one badly, and things could turn ugly.

    Larry Porter, Memphis: This is one of the few jobs in America where you seriously have no chance before your nameplate is put on the door. The school has shown they don’t care about the program and the warnings that Tommy West issued when he was fired haven’t been heard. Few expected you to get clobbered by Arkansas State, though. Is it possible to keep things close against Austin Peay?

    Follow Brian on Twitter: @btbowling
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    Tags: michigan, iowa state, south carolina, arizona state, notre dame, missouri, north carolina state, georgia, luisville, memphis, iowa, les miles, dan mullen, lsu, mississippi state, michigan state, tennessee, florida, will muschamp, al golden, miami, ohio state, oklahoma, florida state

  14. 2011 Aug 29

    Husker Heartbeat 8/29: Young OL Stepping Up, The Big Ten Horse Race and Big Red Back to the Future

    3,176 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    A daily dose of what's new in Husker Nation from Monday through Friday:

    - Young OL members are ready to see what they can do in real game situations

    - Controlling the game and consistent scoring are the keys to the Big Red's success say the coaches

    - An exciting Big Ten horse race to chronicle

    - 13 Huskers to watch against the Mocs

    - Florida State and the Huskers are headed back to the future

    - Cornhusker ticket prices are soaring before the season kicks off

    - Husker volleyball team sweeps New Mexico

    Follow us on Twitter: @huskerlocker
    Like us on Facebook: Official Husker Locker Page

    Tags: big ten, mocs, florida state, tickets, volleyball

  15. 2010 Nov 15

    Husker Heartbeat 11/15: Assessing Title Game Odds

    3,467 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.


    *OWH's Dirk Chatelan assesses Nebraska's long-shot chances for reaching the BCS national title game. Is it 2001 or 2007 all over again?

    *Will an injury help make Taylor Martinez a tougher quarterback? LJS Sipple says yes.

    *BRN: Why the KU game shouldn't be of any offensive concern to NU.

    *CN: An animated drive chart from the Husker-Jayhawk game.

    *Nebraska's exotic blitzes worked well against Kansas.

    *All is not well down Urban Meyer's way after Florida got punked at home by South Carolina.

    *Mark Richt to Colorado? That would be an upgrade.

    *A great Iowa season has devolved into missed opportunities for the Hawkeyes.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bo pelini, dirk chatelain, iowa, big ten, florida, urban meyer, ljs sipple, taylor martinez, carl pelini

  16. 2010 Jul 23

    Husker Heartbeat 7/23: Dr. Tom to the Windy City

    411 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Five potential breakout players for NU in 2010.

    *Iowa State’s best player - David Sims - is under investigation for allegedly stealing and using some woman’s credit card.

    *A stat-laden preview of Nebraska’s offense.

    *Tom Osborne will head to the Big Ten meetings.

    *Can John Brantley take over for Tim Tebow at Florida without missing a beat?

    *Looks like Vanderbilt has a fun new head coach.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, big 12, big ten, florida, tom osborne, iowa state

  17. 2009 Aug 31

    Locker Lowdown 8/31

    477 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Here’s a quick glance at the Husker news and general news you’ll want for Aug. 31:

    Husker football: Nice, humorous feature on Howard Schnellenberger. The man isn’t to be trifled with as a football coach. He knows more about offense than many defensive coaches have forgotten. Carl Pelini thinks the defense will be better, too.

    Basketball: NU recruit Christian Standhardinger is on campus, and ready to play hoops. Now...will the NCAA let him?

    Volleyball: Welcome to college, Husker freshmen class. In front of a smaller-than-hoped-for crowd at the Qwest Center, NU was summarily thumped by Michigan 25-21, 25-23, 25-17 on Friday night. The Huskers rebounded Saturday, beating Minnesota in five despite an erratic night from outside hitters Tara Mueller, Hannath Werth and Gina Mancuso.

    Middle blockers Brooke Delano and Jordan Wilburger filled the void with the best performances, arguably, of their careers. Cook fiddled around with lineups throughout both matches, but seemed to prefer true freshman Mancuso, a sharp, clever hitter out of the back row, to the stronger, wilder true freshman Werth. At least for the Minny match.

    Soccer: Husker women generally came up empty at the Villanova Classic, losing to Lehigh 3-1 and tying host Nova 2-2 in what must have felt like a loss, as the Wildcats tied the match in regulation with nine seconds left.

    NFL: Big day for Husker rooks in the League, as Tuesday marks the first of two cutdown days. On Sept. 1, the roster goes from 80 to 75. Then, on Saturday, it goes from 75 to the drastic 53. Marlon Lucky’s already been cut. Joe Ganz never really got a chance. Names like Ty Steinkuhler, Zach Potter, Todd Peterson, Nate Swift are out there, trying to make teams.

    College football: Michigan will investigate itself for NCAA violations after several current and former players told the Detroit Free Press that the Wolverines badly exceed the 20 hours of practice a week allowed by the NCAA. Just getting better for Rich Rodriguez, who may have a near-mutiny on his hands, and will certainly have one if UM loses to Western Michigan in the opener, which is highly possible.

    A ton of talk about Matt Barkley getting the start at USC, which some see as a publicity stunt by head coach Pete Carroll. As high of a standard as Carroll has, we still wouldn’t put it past him to do that.

    Finally...Bill Snyder has returned to college football, and his influence over the years is pervasive. And not always in a good way.

    Tags: volleyball, soccer, carl pelini, florida atlantic

  18. 2009 Jul 21

    Schnellenberger Talks Huskers

    1,451 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    You’re patched through, and you hear that low, brusque drawl that’s unmistakable.

    The man of the 60-day warning. Howard Schnellenberger. The architect of one of the more significant wins in recent college football history – Miami’s 31-30 win over Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl. The man who spent the last game of his worst season in Memorial Stadium, appreciating those warm-hearted Husker fans who applauded his bedraggled Oklahoma team as it left the field after a 37-0 loss in 1995.

    “I remember them being very nice about it,” Schnellenberger said a few weeks ago over the phone. “They didn’t really want to see us get killed.”

    Fourteen years later, in yet another decade, Schnellenberger faces Nebraska again. And, for the third straight time, the odds of his team winning are long and slim. Florida Atlantic, the team he built from the ground, upset Minnesota two years ago, and put a scare into a few more major conference opponents, but nobody really expects his Owls to engage NU in anything more than a short-lived track meet up and down the field, followed by a torrent of Husker touchdowns.
    Nine times out of ten, it probably would come to that. But Schnellenberger’s been pretty good about throwing a rope around that single opportunity and making the most of it. He did that, of course, at Miami. More on that in a minute.

    Right now, he said, he watches Nebraska film and tries to figure out a way to win. He doesn’t know NU head coach Bo Pelini, but on the tape he likes the effort, and the defensive line.

    “They got better as the year went on,” Schnellenberger said. “You can see that. They will be one of the best defenses we face all year.”

    But Schnellenberger likes his offense, too. He’s particularly fond of quarterback Rusty Smith, the 6-foot-5 senior who threw for 3,224 yards in Schnellenberger’s pro-style offense, which he makes clear is based on Don Shula’s old NFL attack – more versatile and complex, he said, than just about any offense. It often uses a fullback, but can morph into five wide receivers, too. Plus, FAU gets back from injury tight end Jason Harmon, one of the nation’s best in 2007.

    Ask Schnellenberger to compare Smith to any of his former protégés, and, of course, the big ones come up.

    “Oh, he’s right there with Bernie Kosar, Jim Kelly, any of the best guys I’ve had,” Schnellenberger said. Smith, he said, has a better arm than both.

    “What’s really good about him,” Schnellenberger said, “is when he audibles, he gets us into the right plays. He knows our offense as well as anyone.”

    FAU audibles a lot, too. At this point, Smith is like a coach on the field, and if his offensive line protects him – it only gave up 16 sacks last season – he’ll have the time to make throws.
    What Schnellenberger worries more about is stopping Nebraska. His defense has only three returning starters, and, while it’s been fairly good against the pass, FAU has given an average of 184 rushing yards per game over the last four seasons.

    “We’ve got to find a way to slow them down, get some turnovers,” Schnellenberger said. He reiterates this several times in the conversation. In 2007, for example, he had a defense that gave up a ton of yards – 416 yards per game - but picked off a lot of passes, too, leading to a +18 turnover margin.

    It was two ill-timed Nebraska turnovers – and two oft-forgotten missed field goals - that helped Miami to that miracle win in 1984. Of course Schnellenberger remembers it; he gets asked
    about it as much as anything.

    Aside from all the superlatives that anyone provides about the game, Schnellenberger points out this: After leading the entire game, and controlling the pace of the action and forcing NU to play catch-up, Miami was on the verge of an extraordinary fourth-quarter debacle, having given up two touchdowns and missed a field goal that could have iced the game. Pundits would have pointed to the fact Miami began to collapse right around the time it knew a win would earn the Hurricanes a national title.

    Nebraska fans remember their own disbelief after Ken Calhoun knocked away a pass from Turner Gill to Jeff Smith on that fateful two-point conversation.

    “But we would have been just devastated,” Schnellenberger said.

    My presumption was that Miami wouldn’t have blinked, rolled down the field in less than a minute, and at least had a shot at a field goal. Schnellenberger paints it differently. That two-point conversion was the game.

    Well, almost.

    “We all ran out on the field and got a 15-yard penalty for celebration,” Schnellenberger said. “Had Nebraska recovered that onside kick, they’re right there to score.”

    Husker fans know too well that Miami recovered the onside kick.

    Sign up today to get daily email updates of Husker football news. A must during the season!

    Tags: florida atlantic, howard schnellenberger, football, rusty smith, bo pelini

  19. 2009 Jun 30

    LP Exclusive: Wright Waters Audio

    574 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Listen to the interview we conducted with Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters by using your 60-day free trial of Husker Locker Pass!

    Tags: football, sun belt, wright waters, podcasts, hlss, locker pass, florida atlantic, louisiana lafayette, arkansas state

  20. 2009 Jun 30

    Don't Sleep On The Sun Belt

    1,018 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    Wright Waters hasn’t heard any of the jokes about Nebraska’s football team being an honorary member of the Sun Belt Conference in 2009. Hasn’t read critiques of NU’s decision to host three of the league’s programs – Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette – in September.

    “But I hope their players are reading those articles,” chuckled Waters, the Sun Belt’s commissioner since 1998. “I hope their coaches are reading them. I hope they’re overlooking all three of them. We’ll slip in there and play them as hard as we can.

    “For our kids, going to somewhere like Nebraska is our World Series, Super Bowl, BCS Championship game. If (NU) is overlooking them, that’s all the better for us…if we go up there and win a couple games, those people criticizing it are going to look foolish.”

    Waters isn’t issuing any kind of guarantee, other than he’ll be in attendance for one of those games in Lincoln. And he’s quick to mention he’s “appreciative” of the three shots NU is giving the Sun Belt. But he is also suggesting the Huskers be mindful of a league that’s developed a minor reputation over the last five years for scaring and slaying major conference opponents.

    “Let’s play the games,” Waters said, “and then talk about quality.”

    Entering its ninth year as a football league and its 34th year overall, the Sun Belt is comprised of nine teams that previously played in a variety of conferences and divisions. Some wandered the Independent wilderness.

    Only one – Louisiana-Lafayette, former Southwestern Louisiana – has consistently been a Division I FBS program. Others, like North Texas, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State – spent time in the former Division I-AA. Florida Atlantic and Florida International just started teams in the last decade. Western Kentucky is now “post-transition” as a league and Division I FBS member, having gone through the painful conversion to top-flight college football.

    The infant years of Sun Belt football league were rough. North Texas coasted to four crowns, going 25-1 inside the conference, while losing, often quite badly, to teams non-league foes (65-0, 52-21 and 37-14 losses to Texas, Colorado and Baylor in 2004 come to mind). FIU was best known for a bench-clearing brawl at end of a loss to Miami. New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State did little for the league’s profile other than become fodder for the Pac 10, and left after the 2005 season for the WAC, where they haven’t been any better.

    “If I had it to do over again, I would go back to the first year of our league (2001) and say ‘All right, don’t play anyone you can’t beat,” Waters said. “If we had done that, people would have marveled at what a great league this was.”

    It wasn’t until Troy beat No. 19 Missouri on ESPN in 2004, that “we were taken seriously,” Waters said.

    And while Troy has had its share of clunkers, too – a 56-0 loss at Nebraska in 2006 – it’s helped the Sun Belt’s profile tremendously, beating Oklahoma State 41-23 on ESPN in 2007- that’s game behind the benching of OSU quarterback Bobby Reid, and Coach Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” rant – and taking Florida State, Georgia, LSU to the fourth quarters in other years. The Trojans staked a 31-3 lead on the Tigers in Baton Rouge – at night, no less – last year before collapsing in a 40-31 loss. Troy, along with Fla. Atlantic, are co-favorites for the Sun Belt this year.

    Louisiana-Monroe joined the party by upsetting Alabama 21-14 in 2007. Florida Atlantic beat Minnesota, too. Last year, Middle Tennessee beat Maryland 24-14 and Arkansas State, one of NU’s opponents, sent Texas A&M into a spiral with a season-opening 18-14 win in College Station.

    “Every year, there’s a sign that we’re getting better,” Waters said.

    Waters said he’s finally seeing some of the acceptance that the Sun Belt’s had for years in college softball and baseball, where the league routinely sends two teams to the NCAA Tournament. Attendance at Sun Belt home games has doubled. The TV package is better. Players hailing from Sun Belt schools – most notably All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware – are doing well in the NFL. And some major conferences are beginning to embrace the idea of home-and-home games with Sun Belt schools.

    A debate within the league, Waters said, is whether the Sun Belt should continue to take major paydays from Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and ACC programs – the Pac 10 and Big East tend to pillage other leagues for lesser opponents – or try to set its sights on competing more directly with Conference USA, the WAC and the Mountain West.

    The Sun Belt continues to court mid-level conference schools, while attempting to appeal to the recruiting interests of major conference schools.

    To this end, Florida Atlantic and Florida International may prove, long-term, to be quite helpful.

    “Minnesota went to (Florida Atlantic) two years ago,” Waters said. “For Minnesota, it was a recruiting trip to South Florida.”

    It was also a loss for the Gophers.

    “At the end of the day, this is college sports,” Waters said. “This is not selling widgets, we’re competing. You report the scores every day, so there’s nowhere to hide. The best way to improve the quality of your league is to win games.”

    An upset by one of the Sun Belt Three would be another major boost to the league’s profile.

    See also: A Great Husker Fan. An Even Better American.

    Tags: sun belt, florida atlantic, arky state, louisiana lafayette, football, wright waters

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