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  1. 2011 Dec 11

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Knee-Jerk Reactions - Heisman Edition

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    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    - RG3 wins the Heisman and justice is restored. The BCS may be 15 kinds of screwed up, but the Stiffarm Crew got it right. The reasoning behind the trophy is vague as it is to be awarded to the “most outstanding player in collegiate football.” However, RG3 is an outstanding football player and human being.

    - Someone get Rex Burkhead a pair of these:



    - Kevin Sumlin to Texas A&M’s a quality hire. Sumlin got out while the getting was good with the departure of Case Keenum and slips into a brand new SEC school. Recruiting Texas talent to the nation’s best conference doesn’t seem like a far-fetched goal.

    - Charlie Weis ducks Florida and signs with Kansas. The college football comedy gods smile on us all.

    - Jim Delany’s fondness for tradition can be appreciated. That said, he needs to let go of his demand of ties to the Rose Bowl for the sake of a Plus-One system for the good of the sport.

    - UCLA picks up Jim Mora, a guy whose one year of college coaching experience was 27 years ago. Forget a California monopoly. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    - Utah’s Kyle Whittingham’s apparently being pursued by both Arizona State and Penn State. Go for the matte black helmets if you’re going to ditch the Utes, Kyle.

    - Seriously, who’s going to take that Penn State gig?

    - From the “For the Benefit of Those with Flash Photography” File:



    “That’s who this guy is?!”

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    Tags: bo pelini, robert griffin, rex burkhead, kevin sumlin, texas a, m, case keenum, charlie weis, kansas, jim delany, ucla, jim mora, utah, kyle whittingham, arizona state, penn state, steve spurrier, south carolina, capital one bowl

  2. 2011 Dec 04

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: The Huskers' 2011 Bowl Possibilities

    3,518 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    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

  3. 2011 Nov 18

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

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    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

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

    Winners:

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

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

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

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

    Losers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Auburn:



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

    The Good (Watch or stream these games):

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

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

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

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

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

    The Mediocre (keep an eye on these scores):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Coaches cooking in the Crock Pot this week are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. 2011 Nov 03

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Ten

    1,479 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

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

    Winners:

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

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

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

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

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

    LOSERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    On to the weekly festivities! (All times Central)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Games to keep an eye on include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  5. 2011 Oct 14

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Seven

    2,442 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

    Week seven has arrived in the 2011 season. While some match-ups this week should be entertaining, there’s a plethora of good games down the line. However, we can’t get to the future until we visit the present. Let's examine the week that was -

    Winners:

    Oklahoma – Questions, anyone? The woodshed built on the 50-yard line of the Cotton Bowl should remind you why this team is a legitimate national title contender.

    Virginia Tech – Survived a shootout with Miami in a game that both teams needed to win.

    Arkansas – As much as I dislike Petrino, they showed up and took care of business versus Auburn.

    Baylor – A good bounce back performance after the loss to Kansas State.

    Losers:

    Texas – Mack...sit David Ash. He’s not good.

    Fresno State – The Bulldogs were shelled at home before halftime on national TV. Not good.

    Minnesota – Destroyed...by Purdue? Really?

    Missouri – The Gary Pinkel Effect strikes again.

    Memphis, Arizona, Kansas, Colorado - Everyone hum along!

    On to this week’s meetings! All times Central:

    No. 11 Michigan at No. 23 Michigan State – (11 AM Saturday, ESPN)

    East Lansing is the site for this year's battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy. Last week, Michigan survived a shootout in suburban Chicago vs. Northwestern while the Spartans enjoyed a bye week.

    Michigan State comes into this game with a defense allowing only 10 points per game (No. 3 nationally). They will need to flex every bit of that defensive muscle against Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson and this high-octane Wolverine offense.

    As you examine this Michigan team, be sure to note that the Wolverine defense has only allowed 12 points per game (No. 8 nationally). Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide receiver B.J. Cunningham will find ways to put points on the board, but look for "Shoelace" to help outscore the Spartans and beat little brother.

    No. 20 Baylor at No. 21 Texas A&M - (11:00 AM Saturday, FX)

    History suggests favoring the over on points scored (for entertainment purposes only, of course) in College Station this week, as RG3 and the Bears roll down Highway 290 to face the Fightin' Aggies. Both teams put up points last week as Baylor visited Iowa State and Texas A&M tripped to Texas Tech.

    For A&M, quarterback Ryan Tannenhill has to match Robert Griffin drive for drive this week, and he's capable of doing so. However, Texas A&M needs to complete a 60-minute game, and playing Baylor is an affair where A&M can't afford to let up again.

    Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett’s unit has matured well for the Bears, and has a chance to put on a third-straight eye-opening performance. This is a must-win game for Baylor, as the loss to Kansas State allows no room for error in their remaining games. If the Aggies lose, look for the chirping for Mike Sherman’s job to get much louder.

    No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 22 Texas – (2:30 PM Saturday, ABC Regional)

    The Cowboys visit Austin for a second straight year due to the shrinking of the Big 12. The Longhorns host Gundy’s crew following the lancing provided by the Oklahoma Sooners last week just three hours up I-35. Everyone knows about the Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon connection for Oklahoma State.

    For Texas, quarterback Case McCoy should be taking snaps for the Longhorns until death, injury or eligibility do they part. That's not to say David Ash isn’t a good quarterback, but last week's drubbing showed that McCoy is the man. It won’t matter who Texas starts though, because the Cowboys will have their pistols firing against a defense that can't stop the bullets all day long.

    No. 18 Arizona State at No. 9 Oregon - (9:15 PM Saturday, ESPN)

    The final big game of the day takes place at the hostile Autzen Stadium as the Sun Devils and Ducks meet for a major Pac-12 tussle. Last week, Oregon ran California out of the building while losing LaMichael James to a dislocated elbow. Meanwhile, Arizona State barely broke a sweat dismantling Utah.

    For the Sun Devils, quarterback Brock Osweiler has been solid for the offense. The defense has been alright giving up less than 20 points per game. Arizona State's defenders will need to feed off of linebacker Vontaze Burfict as the Ducks's offense has found its rhythm following the debacle in Arlington against LSU.

    Oregon’s offense is averaging a shade over 50 points per game, but will feel the effects of losing James for at least a few games. This will likely be a good game, but the Ducks are almost invincible at home. Look for Oregon to notch another win.

    Coaches on the Hot Seat:

    Mike Stoops, Arizona – WHOOPSIE! Looks like the axe finally fell on Stoops. When your only win is against Northern Arizona, and you’ve given up no less than 37 points per game to FBS teams, you're not doing well regardless of schedule strength. Adios, Mike. Maybe one of your brothers has a bunk or guest house to crash at.

    Turner Gill, Kansas – Did the state of Oklahoma get a deal on woodshed materials at Lowe’s last weekend? Oklahoma drags Texas behind one, and the Cowboys do the same with Kansas. The Sooners are coming. Be very afraid.

    Neil Callaway, UAB – Having the No. 120 offense and No. 96 in the FBS isn’t helping. Neither will the upcoming game against Tulsa.

    Houston Nutt, Mississippi – The good news: You didn’t lose last week! Bad news: You’re going to get bombed by Nick Saban and Alabama!

    Jeff Tedford, California – The Bears played well for a half against Oregon, but forgot to show up for the second. Then, Southern Cal topples them for the eighth straight time. Feel the heat.

    Kirk Ferentz, Iowa – All you can muster is a field goal versus Penn State? Your offensive genius got you three points? BAH!

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    Tags: oklahoma, virginia tech, arkansas, baylor, texas, fresno state, minnesota, missouri, memphis, arizona, kansas, colorado, michigan, michigan state, texas a, m, oklahoma state, mike stoops, turner gill, neil callaway, houston nutt, jeff tedford, kirk ferentz

  6. 2011 Sep 28

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Five

    5,504 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.

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

  7. 2011 Sep 21

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL: A Look Around the Nation - Week Four

    2,054 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    By Brian Towle

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

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

    WINNERS:

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

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

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

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

    LOSERS:

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Coaches on the Hot Seat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  8. 2009 Jul 21

    Big 12 Breakdown: No. 11 Texas A&M

    1,636 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    In preparation for Big 12 Media Days, Husker Locker will be counting down and breaking down each of the teams in the conference. We hope you view this series as more interesting, comprehensive and definitive than what you may find elsewhere. Where we can make strong takes – we will.

    We rank the teams 12 to 1 in overall strength. Then we’ll provide for you the North/South breakdown – and the preseason All Big 12 team, as well.

    Enjoy!

    Today: Texas A&M

    Coach:Mike Sherman
    2008 Record: 4-8

    What’s Changed Since 2008:A&M’s in a big feud with Texas Tech over comments Mike Leach made about former A&M QB Stephen McGee, the heat’s been turned up a little more on Sherman, and the entire team has another spring of experience in this modified NFL system. The Aggies weren’t very good in 2008, and they probably won’t be in 2009, either. Chalk it up to transition and the overall difficulty of the Big 12 South.

    2009 Non-Conference Schedule: The first three opponents, New Mexico, UAB and Utah State, are figured to be reprobates in 2009 – UNM is probably staring down the gun barrel of an 0-12 season - but that didn’t stop A&M from dumping a game to Arkansas State last year. The fourth game is a tilt with old SWC foe Arkansas at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium. We expect the Razorbacks to be much improved this year, and win the game in JerryWorld.

    2009 Conference Schedule: Trips to Oklahoma and Texas Tech are probably losses. A&M hosts Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. The mini-slate of Big 12 North squads is pretty favorable, with winnable games at Kansas State and Colorado and a home date with Iowa State. The Baylor game, if A&M’s record is what we think it will be around that time, may determine whether Mike Sherman has a job in 2010.

    Offense: Pro-style/West Coast Offense
    Coordinator:Nolan Cromwell, a long-time disciple of Mike Holmgren, under whom he coached from 1992-2008. Holmgren’s WCO likes to feature two backs when it can, prefers to operate from under center and use play-action and can, with the right offensive line and running back, be a quite effective rushing offense. Expect toss plays and zone plays. Like most WCOs, there is typically a smaller back and a bigger one. The receivers are usually big. And the tight end has a defined, significant role. A&M incorporated most of that in 2008.

    Strength:The receiving corps, which includes tight end Jamie McCoy. They’re all uniformly big targets for QB Jarrod Johnson. The best of the bunch is backup QB Ryan Tannehill, who has an NFL future at the position, and caught 55 passes for 844 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. He’s a reliable guy, and can make the big grab downfield. But Tannehill will compete for the QB job, and Sherman doesn’t necessarily want to use the guy at WR. Why? For fear of injury. This, and A&M is bringing in two top-notch QB recruits in 2010. Foolishness.

    Weakness:The offensive line returns all five starters. Just one hitch: They weren’t very good last year, giving up 39 sacks and only producing 89 rushing yards per game. The WCO is too controlled a passing offense to win games by itself. At quarterback, Johnson is fair. You see the 2,435 yards and 21 touchdown and presume something, but remember how awful the Big 12 as a whole was on defense in 2008. He had a pretty paltry 6.2 yards per adjusted pass average. That’s pretty low. That’s also the WCO.

    Defense: 3-4/multiple front
    Coordinator: Joe Kines, who’s been to a lot of schools before A&M, most notably Alabama for four seasons with David Shula. Kines is a riverboat gambler, a chess player, a guy who likes to put offenses in matchups they don’t like. Well, none of it worked last year, as A&M gave up 462 yards per game and 37.4 Was it just the personnel? Nah, not solely that. A&M’s defense often looked bewildered in coverage, and too small and overmatched at the point of attack. Kines committed to using a base 3-4 in spring ball with a “jack” linebacker serving as a potential rusher, run stopper, or cover guy.

    Strength: The best player on the defense is either Matt Featherston or Von Miller; they’ll be “jacks” in 2009 And, at the very least, the 3-4 gives you some flexibility. Anything has to be better than last year.

    Weakness: The defensive line is just small, it replaces three starters, and a 3-4 defense doesn’t work properly, in this day and age, without a 300-pound hoss at nose tackle. A&M doesn’t have that guy, so you’re asking a lot of those linebackers, especially in playaction. Unless Kines can scheme the opponents’ every move in the running game, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that A&M can stop the run.

    Special Teams New punter Ryan Epperson is a walk-on freshman, but that doesn’t mean much; kickers often are. Sophomore Kicker Randy Bullock got off to a nice start in 2008, making 6 of 7 field goals. As a freshman, Cyrus Gray was an excellent kicker returner, averaging 24 yards and scoring a touchdown. Of course, he got about four chances a game at it, too.

    Intangibles: For A&M’s overall athletic program, it’s been a pretty good two years. For the football program, it’s been close to a disaster. AD Bill Byrne and Sherman have both gotten bad press, and some Aggies fans are crying foul over the exorbitant prices for the JerryWorld game. This is a team that can’t afford an early slip-up. A&M could, theoretically, roll into a Nov. 21 game vs. Baylor looking to clinch a bowl berth. Baylor probably will be, too. While Kyle Field is a wonderful stadium, it's difficulty on opposing teams is a tad overrated. Think about it: If you made the same noise for three hours, wouldn't you get used to it? It's like eyes adjusting to the dark.

    Best-Case Scenario: A&M rides a comfy non-conference and Big 12 North schedule to a 7/8 win season. The “jack” entertains all. The offense develops a running game.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Sherman is fired after A&M dumps a game to Baylor on its home field. The Aggies finish with another 4-8 record.

    Our Take: We’re not convinced the new defense takes hold completely, but it does stop some of the bleeding. We see the offense remaining a bit stagnant: Efficient one game, and brutal the next. We expect the Baylor game to be for a bowl berth, and considering we have Baylor ranked higher on this list, we expect the Bears to win.

    See other Big 12 Breakdowns: No. 12 ISU, No. 11 A&M, No. 10 CU, No. 9 BU, No. 8 KU, No. 7 KSU, No. 6 Texas Tech

    Agree? Disagree?Tell us about it.

    Tags: big 12 breakdown, big 12, texas a, m, mike sherman, nolan cromwell, joe kines

  9. 2009 Jun 17

    The Troubling Gap Between Texas...and Everyone Else

    8,256 views

    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    If a fan of Nebraska athletics was already fearful that the Big 12 conference had tilted permanently in favor of Texas, consider this column a long, unpleasant spelunk into the cave of more proof.

    According to data compiled by the NCAA’s Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, the Longhorns’ athletic department brought $120.3 million in revenue in 2007-2008. That’s $32 million more than the second-place school in the Big 12 (the identity of which might surprise you, more on that in a minute).

    That whopping dollar amount is the GDP of some third-world countries, and tops in college sports – just slightly ahead of Ohio State, which culls a major wad of cash from the Big Ten Network and runs two Jack Nicklaus-endorsed golf courses.

    As for football revenue, UT was the nation’s No. 1 there, too, bringing in $72.9 million.

    Yeah, in the Big 12, Nebraska was second. At $49 million. That’s close to the national top ten.

    But the gap between NU and UT – almost $24 million - is larger the entire football revenue of six Big 12 teams. Texas earned five times what Kansas reported – although KU had $50 million of revenue in the “not allocated” category - and nearly doubled the $40.9 million taken in by Oklahoma, a program that’s had more success than its rival over the last decade (one more reason to respect Bob Stoops, eh?).

    UT recorded more than $52 million in profit. That alone is more than the reported football revenues of any Big 12 team. And while Texas also spends more money on football, it only spends a fraction more - $20 million vs. the $19 million spent by Texas A&M, the $18.8 million spent by OU and the $18.7 spent by Nebraska.

    Why? Because the Longhorns merely have to drive a couple hours to many of the nation’s best football recruits who reside in cities surrounding Austin – Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio. How hard is it to recruit when you’ve got most of your class figured out before Memorial Day?

    Is Texas the lone “have” in the conference? Of course not. OU holds its own. Kansas leads the way in basketball revenue. Oklahoma State, behind the donor dollars of billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, is actually second in total revenue at $88 million. And Texas A&M, with Bill Byrne as the athletic director, will make a serious push at UT in all the pertinent Olympic, smaller sports. The Aggies already have, in fact, winning national titles in men’s golf and track.

    Nebraska is stuck in a tougher spot. The Huskers have always hung their hat on football, and have a former football coach as the athletic director. Sans Texas (and Pickens, I suppose), nobody runs a better fundraising show in the Big 12, and Tom Osborne has brought needed stability back to North Stadium.

    NU had the upper hand for more than 30 years, 1970-2001, winning five national titles to Texas’ zero, playing in countless more title games (UT played in one and lost to Notre Dame) winning one more Heisman Trophy, more O’Brien Awards, more Lombardis, more Outlands, you name it. But UT, right now, simply does football better, and has since 2002.

    The orderly Big 12 reinvigorated Texas, which suffered in the lawless, hate-fueled Southwestern Conference. Like a defeated corporate giant suddenly tabbed to run another company, UT threw around far more bluster and weight upon its entrance into the league than its athletic portfolio suggested it could.

    Too willing to topple the Big Red Machine in football – and upon the inception of the Big 12, there was no college football program more powerful and intimidating than Nebraska - Big 12 South members unwisely followed the Longhorns’ lead on a number of issues, whether it was partial academic qualifiers, television contracts or the facilities arms race. It all favored Texas.

    You think Iowa State wouldn’t mind some partial qualifiers? Colorado? Kansas State? Oklahoma State? You think these same schools enjoy building perk after perk for 19-year-olds, only to see Texas, its stadium not even full for every game, roll out every red carpet known to man?

    Not to say that UT has ill in mind for the rest of the league, but the numbers simply don’t lie: The Longhorns, financially, has the Big 12 wrapped around its burnt orange finger.

    Once upon a time, the most loathed man in the history of NU athletics, Steve Pederson, vowed not to surrender the Big 12 to Texas (and Oklahoma). It was a cocky statement then, an affront to some Husker fans who believed Nebraska ruled the Big 12 roost for many years, and weren’t far, at the time, from ruling it again.

    But it’s time get honest. This isn’t 1996 anymore, and Texas made three terrific hires – Mack Brown, Rick Barnes and Augie Garrido – when it counted. Brown and Garrido won national titles, and Barnes took the Horns to a Final Four. Since those hires, Nebraska’s on its third football coach, its third basketball coach, and currently slumping in baseball.

    At $75.4 million, NU is now fifth in total revenue, behind Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas (a surprising $86 million) and Oklahoma ($77 million). And Texas A&M, which was so bad off four years ago that the university actually loaned the athletic department $16 million, is not far behind at $74.7 million. Missouri doesn’t currently compete in terms of revenue, but the sleeping giant has finally woken up, as the Tigers won Big 12 titles in men’s basketball, softball, and women’s soccer, reaching the conference title games in baseball and football.

    While Pederson, Bill Callahan and Co. dithered around with a culture change, Mizzou and KU caught up, Byrne started working from the ground up in College Station and OU and Texas broke further away from the pack.

    So now is not the time for NU administrators or fans to get distracted by the sheer, stunning misery of two Big 12 North schools – Iowa State and Colorado – and the tumult engulfing Kansas State. They’re the jokes of the league, and Nebraska better plan on beating them consistently in just about everything.

    It’s also not the time to get overly wistful for the old days of 2000, when the Huskers’ athletic program was the envy of the every school not named Stanford. It’s time to work smarter and harder.

    Here's how.

    Tags: texas, tom osborne, mack brown, bo pelini, steve pederson, oklahoma, kansas, missouri, texas a, m, bill byrne

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