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  1. 2011 Sep 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Four

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    By HuskerLocker

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    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

  2. 2011 Sep 07

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Two

    2,350 views

    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brian Towle

    What a great week to start off the season!. Before we move on to week two, let’s review last week’s winners and losers.

    Winners:

    Boise State – The Broncos went to Atlanta and throttled the Georgia Bulldogs. For a team that isn’t supposed to be able to hang with the worst of the SEC because of the conference’s supposed superiority, their performance was pretty impressive.

    LSU – Their performance against Oregon wasn’t fantastic, but they took advantage of several Oregon errors and managed the game well enough to make the final score look like a blowout.

    BYU – Starting the season in unfriendly confines for the second time in three years and winning a slugfest speaks volumes about the Cougs.

    Baylor- Robert Griffin III is the real deal.

    Losers:

    Auburn – The Tigers needed an onside kick and what appeared to be favorable clock operation to beat a team from the WAC? Really? Aim for the Independence Bowl, Auburn, because it’s the best you can hope for. A special round of applause goes to Tiger fans who decided to rush to the gates.

    Congratulations on leaving your team lying in the lurch before clapping and celebrating a win on your way out. Apparently the national championship shirts are getting difficult to wear from swelling heads.

    Notre Dame – The weather delays were a sign. You’re doing it wrong.

    Georgia and Ole Miss – A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? -



    Here are your week two dandies. All times listed are in CST.

    Arizona at No. 9 Oklahoma State (7 PM Thursday, ESPN)

    The fantastic duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon take on the Wildcats in a Thursday night tilt in Stillwater. Arizona comes into town following a beat down of Northern Arizona while Okie State took care of business against Louisiana-Lafayette. Arizona quarterback Nick Foles returns for what seems to be a ninth season, and has a talented receiver to go to in Juron Criner.

    The Wildcats did shut out Northern Arizona while Oklahoma State had some issues stopping the Raging Cajuns and Weeden did throw a pick-six. However, Weeden also threw for 388 yards. Blackmon helped pick up 144 of those. OSU sophomore Joseph Randle ran for 129 yards at 5-plus yards per carry, too.

    Boone Pickens Stadium has provided solid home field advantage for Mike Gundy, and with the knowledge that a Mike Stoops team doesn’t play well on the road, look for the Cowboys to roll to a win.

    No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State – (9:30 PM Friday, ESPN)

    Gary Pinkel takes his Tigers back to the site of the 2010 Insight Bowl debacle as Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson and linebacker Vontaze Burfict welcome them into the desert heat. Mizzou didn’t impress anyone last week with a lackluster win over Miami of Ohio. Quarterback James Franklin didn’t look remotely as poised as his predecessors Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel did.

    For the Sun Devils, quarterback Brock Osweiler did well against UC-Davis until a cramp sidelined him in the third quarter. This game will depend on Franklin’s ability to improve. Defeating a MAC team at home is one thing. Going against defenders like Burfict on the road is a completely different task. Arizona State wins barely because they can run the ball better. If it’s up to Osweiler to save the day, expect struggles by both teams.

    No. 3 Alabama at No. 23 Penn State – (2:30 PM Saturday, Regional)

    Alabama played very well last week versus Kent State. Sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron will more than likely getting the starting nod again. While Nick Saban’s offense was merely efficient, the defense is back to their ball-hawking selves. Penn State didn’t get a proper test from the Indiana State Sycamores as Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin split time at quarterback.

    Joe Paterno has a difficult decision with those two. Bolden is a great talent, but McGloin seems to be the more efficient choice. Regardless, Alabama won’t be scared of Beaver Stadium. The game may be close early, but the mental toughness that Saban instills will be a huge benefit. The Crimson Tide pulls away at the end.

    No. 16 Mississippi State at Auburn – (11:21 AM Saturday, SEC Network (JP)/ESPN3.com)

    Hopefully Gene Chizik realizes that the Bulldogs are legitimate and are far from a WAC team. Dan Mullen brings his boys into Jordan Hare Stadium hoping to get a jump on the SEC West race. Mullen has quarterback Chris Reif and running back Vick Ballard, two seniors with live game time against SEC opposition.

    If freshman wide receiver Jameon Lewis can replicate the numbers he did against Memphis, Mississippi State could be dangerous. Auburn, on the other hand, played down to their competition and looked lost on both sides of the ball. Unless the Tigers improved dramatically in the span of six days, expect the Bulldogs to do well and stake their claim as legitimate SEC competition.

    BYU at No. 24 Texas – (6 PM Saturday, ESPN2)

    The final preview takes us to Austin where the Mighty Mormons invade to take on the Longhorns. Bronco Mendenhall takes super sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps into a second-straight brutal environment. On paper, the Cougars and Longhorns appear to be equals. Texas didn’t look great early on against Rice, but looked far more polished in the second half.

    The locals were not impressed and know that BYU is a very dangerous team to test quarterback Garrett Gilbert and wide receiver Mike Davis against. With running back Malcolm Brown toting the rock, the Longhorns are talented, but young on offense. Jake Heaps is very raw but incredibly talented, and will likely outperform Gilbert. Don’t be shocked if BYU wins, possibly by more than a score.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi: Well done, coach. You apparently didn’t take another home opener seriously, and BYU made you look silly. The pick-six thrown on 3rd and 23 cemented that. Your game against Southern Illinois is a must win.

    Mark Richt, Georgia: Fans across the nation knew you might be in trouble against Boise, but Aaron Murray should give you hope. That said, starting the season 0-2 by losing to South Carolina would be near-fatal.

    Rick Neuheisel, UCLA: San Jose State is a welcome sight at the Rose Bowl. You’d better beat them so that people might forget how good you made Case Keenum look last week.

    Mike Riley, Oregon State: Sacramento State? You lost a lot, but come on, man. Wisconsin is going to destroy you this week.

    Mike Locksley, New Mexico: The good news is that you kept Colorado State to 14 points. The bad news is that you could only muster 10. Bobby Petrino can easily hang 70 on your nose.

    Bonus Conference Official – Dan Beebe, Big 12 Commissioner: It’s not your fault that Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Colorado left you or that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State want new partners. Repeat that while staring into the mirror and it just might be believable.

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

    Tags: college football, boise state, lsu, georgia, ole miss, auburn, notre dame, brandon weeden, justin blackmon, nick foles, joseph randle, mike gundy, mike stoops, gary pinkel, missouri, arizona state, brock osweiler, james franklin, chase daniel, blaine gabbert, vontaze burfict, miami of ohio, alabama, penn state, aj mccarron, nick saban, rob bolden, matt mcgloin, indiana state, joe paterno, gene chizik, mississippi state, texas, byu, houston nutt, mark richt, rick neuheisel, mike locksley, dan beebe, big 12

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