Defense? No Thank You

30 09 2012

Saturday was not a good day to be a defensive coordinator. Across the country, yardage was racked up and offensive records were smashed during a wild day of college football. Here are a few notable games.

 

 


Baylor 63, West Virginia 70

1,507 Combined Yards

Baylor QB Florence – 581 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT

West Virginia QB Smith – 656 yds, 8 TDs

 

 

NC State 37, Miami 44

1,315 Combined Yards

NC State QB Glennon – 440 yds, 4 TDs, 2 INTs

Miami QB Morris – 566 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT

 

 

Tennessee 44, Georgia 51

1,038 Combined Yards

Highest scoring game in the history of this rivalry

 

 

Texas 41, Oklahoma St 36

1,016 Combined Yards

OSU RB Randle – 199 yds, 2 TDs

 

 

Oregon St 38, Arizona 35

1,158 Combined Yards

OSU QB Mannion – 433 yds, 3 TDs

Arizona QB Scott – 403 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs

 

 

Indiana 29, Northwestern 44

1,129 Combined Yards

Northwestern set school record with 704 yards of total offense

 

 

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Crimson Tide Roll Over Meowing Tigers

10 01 2012

LSU quarterback Jefferson is stripped of the ball by Alabama's Hightower during the second half of the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in New Orleans

In one of the biggest rematches (not National Championships) in college football history, the only thing big about this game turned out to be the distance between the goal posts for Jeremy Shelley.

The Alabama Crimson Tide dominated the LSU Tigers, 21-0 in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship. No other team in the BCS era has ended up with 0 points by the time the title game came to a close.

Haunted by a loss to LSU earlier in the season when a made field goal would have brought Alabama a victory, Jeremy Shelley had plenty to be worried about going into this game. However, he put the past behind him, providing his team with 15 points with his leg. Even though it felt more like fútbol than football, it was enough to hold off LSU.

Trent Richardson acted as the warhorse for Alabama up to this point in the season. Even though Richardson still had 96 yards and the only touchdown of the game in trash time, Nick Saban used the 5-11 running back as a distraction to allow AJ McCarron to play a major role in their victory. With many play-action plays being called on first down, McCarron connected on 23 of 34 passes and collected 234 yards through the air. He made Tyrann Mathieu look like a joke as a Heisman candidate. As he has done all season long, he did what his coach needed him to do, bringing Alabama another W and another championship.

This stands as only the fifth time all season McCarron passed for over 200 yards, bolstering Saban’s effective coaching. It is no coincidence than he now stands as the only coach in the BCS era to win three BCS National Championship.

No matter whether you believe it is entertaining to see a kicking contest take place with conservative plays being called, it can’t be denied that Alabama played the game they wanted to play tonight. By means of their strong defensive play, productive special teams, and efficient offense, they didn’t sparkle in the Superdome, but they did what they had to do in order to achieve a title.

On the defensive side of the field, the Crimson Tide did indeed stifle every aspect of the Tigers offense – including the praised option play. LSU finished the game with 92 total yards and 5 first downs – another all-time low in the BCS era. They crossed midfield for the first time all night towards the end of the game but ended up fumbling the ball away on 4th down. All the field goals being kicked by Alabama seemed to tempt LSU fans that they would eventually get it going for a couple touchdowns to get right back in the game, but they just couldn’t put together enough plays to do so.

Obviously, this Alabama defense must be given credit as one of the most dominant forces the entire season. Should it be considered as one of the best all-time after this performance?

When you look at how LSU played on offense, some of Alabama’s ridiculous defensive statistics have to be tarnished. It was that bad. Jordan Jefferson looked horrid, with his cute shovel pass intended for Spencer Ware being easily intercepted by C.J. Mosley epitomizing his embarrassing performance. There isn’t a possible way to go too hard on this offense as they came out flatter than the Dallas Cowboys in a clutch game. Since LSU’s offense caused so much self-inflicted harm, I just can’t proclaim this defense as the best ever – especially since it would be irrational to make that statement pertaining to the team most recently seen on the television (sorry Kirk, I can’t use superlatives so easily).

Top 5 AP Poll:

#1 – Alabama

#2 – LSU

#3 – Oklahoma State

#4 – Oregon

#5 – Arkansas

When the résumés of Alabama (12-1), LSU (13-1), and Oklahoma State (12-1) are put next to each another, should the Cowboys have stood as #1 or #2 in the AP Polls? I won’t go as far as to put them on top, but being in the discussion for the #2 position should have taken place. Simply because LSU and Alabama play a more defensive style of football shouldn’t take away from Oklahoma State’s dominant season. The Cowboys took down Texas, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and finally Stanford in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. I understand they lost to a subpar Iowa State team, but isn’t that just as bad as putting up a goose egg in the biggest bowl game of them all?

This year, college football provided entertainment for both offensive and defensive fans. Both are important to the game, and even though defense does indeed win championships, a game can’t be won with no points. Alabama, who relied solely on defense most of the year, dominated all three major aspects to the game – offense, defense, and special teams. What a performance to match their championship in 2010. They made it official that the hunter has more success than the hunted, poaching the Tigers in their own habitat. Easily.

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Monday Madness

3 01 2012

 

Could college football possibly be better than it was on January 2, 2012?

 

Around lunchtime, #17 Michigan State and #16 Georgia kicked off the day in the Outback Bowl. Both of these squads came into this game having only two losses on the season. Michigan State couldn’t have had a worse start to the day, being tackled behind their goaline for a safety and an eventual 16-0 deficit by halftime. Everything seemed to be going the Bulldogs way as no sort of offensive rhythm could be establish by the Spartans. However, just as Kirk Cousins has done his entire career, Michigan State never gave up and kept on pushing forward. Darqueze Dennard had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, quickly cutting the Spartans’ deficit to 16-14. After a back and forth fourth quarter with two interceptions from Cousins, overtime had arrived. Georgia started the first overtime with yet another interception, but then Georgia’s kicker, Blair Walsh, was unable to capitalize on the potentially game-winning field goal. Looking back, this kick turns out to be much more crucial to the outcome of the game than initially believed to be. The second overtime brought along with it a field goal for each team. Michigan State’s Don Conroy then nailed a 28-yard field goal at the start of the third overtime to put the pressure back on Wisconsin. With the game on the line, Walsh needed to make a 47-yard field goal to send this game to yet another overtime. However, the Spartans decided to end the game as they blocked the attempt, bringing the Michigan State program their first bowl win under head coach Mark Dantonio. Cousins collected 27 wins during his time at Michigan State, which makes him the winningest quarterback in Spartan history. This program has been overshadowed by their big brother – Michigan – for many years, so it is nice to see the Michigan State Spartans finish their successful season with such an emotional win.

 

There always should be a little snacktime right before the last meal of the day, but there was nothing little about the Rose Bowl between #10 Wisconsin and #5 Oregon. Once everybody’s eyes could adjust to the Ducks chrome helmets, the barnburner began. De’Anthony Thomas started his career day off by finishing the first quarter with a 91-yard rushing touchdown – a Rose Bowl record. Thomas hasn’t received much national attention because LaMichael James is the face of this Oregon offense, but don’t let that deceive you – this kid has pure speed. He will be a huge force next year. After back and forth play in the first half to knot it up at 28 a piece, Thomas decided to have yet another outburst with a 64-yard rushing touchdown to put the Ducks up 35-28. Ten straight points from the Badgers in the third quarter, but Chip Kelly’s squad then fired off ten of their own in the fourth quarter to take a 45-38 lead. Surprisingly, even though this game looked Alamo Bowl-esque with only offense, a defensive play ironically locked up Oregon’s first Rose Bowl Championship since 1917. As Jared Abbrederis attempted to get a few extra yards down the sideline, Terrance Mitchell made a great play by knocking the ball out of his hands. It looked as if momentum would push the ball out-of-bounds, but the football stopped like a paperweight right inside the white line. Michael Clay fell on top of the ball which all but ended the Badgers hope of victory. However, Russell did get the ball back with 16 seconds left and successfully pushed the ball to the Ducks 25 yard line, but ended up spiking the ball after time had expired. Russell Wilson and Darron Thomas both gave it all they had, finishing a combined 36/48 and 564 passing yards. Along with Thomas’s career-high 155 rushing yards, LeMichael James added 159 of his own. Monte Ball countered these two with 164 rushing yards of his own, but had no help from the other running backs on the team. Wisconsin has lost their second straight Rose Bowl as Oregon proved something to America: get ready to hear more quacking. The emergence of De’Anthony Thomas to the national stage and the return of Darron Thomas to the team gives me full confidence that James’s departure from the program won’t hinder Chip Kelly from taking his squad next year to the 100th Rose Bowl.

 

Finally – dinner was served. #4 Stanford and #3 Oklahoma State squared off in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. These two teams each had a single loss during the regular season and came into this game wanting to prove themselves to the nation. Andrew Luck started off his phenomenal night with the first score of the night, hooking up with Ty Montgomery for a 53-yard touchdown. Stanford took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before Justin Blackmon took absolute control of two straight drives. After a 43-yard touchdown, the 6-1 freak athlete topped that off with a 67-yard touchdown to tie the game up at 14. In these two plays alone, Blackmon became the first wide receiver all season to collect over 100 receiving yards against the Cardinal. When you watch this kid play, it’s hard to imagine anything but great things to come from him at the next level. Many will look at Stanford and see #12 as the only player that matters, but Stepfan Taylor’s career-high 177 rushing yards gave Luck the balance he needed to play his game. His performance shouldn’t go unnoticed. After Justin Blackmon received his third touchdown in the final quarter – a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl record – the scoreboard read 31-31. The next Stanford drive consisted of mostly Taylor rushes along with 3 completions from Luck to Whalen. Taylor eventually punched the ball in for a 1-yard run, putting Stanford up seven. The way Luck hits not only his targets but also his second and third option makes the Colts ownership salivate. Providing some of his own stellar quarterback play, Brandon Wheeden took command of the Cowboys’ final drive of regulation play. The 6-4 quarterback threw 63 yards on 5/6 passing leading to a Joseph Randle rushing touchdown that put the score at 38-38 with 2:35 to go. Luck was now presented with a 2:00 minute drill. Could he capitalize? Well, Luck went 5/5 with excellent precision, taking the Cardinal to the Oklahoma State 17 yard line. Luck did his job and now needed red-shirt freshman Williamson to connect on a 35-yard field goal to finish the job. Unfortunately, he would be wide left to push this game into overtime. To start, Stanford confused me by calling two running plays for Taylor, which put them in a 3rd and 13 situation. I understand their approach to the game and Taylor’s success on the ground, but when the game is on the line, the ball should be in the quarterback’s hand that only had four incompletions going into overtime. Williamson had a chance to redeem himself with a 43-yard field goal, but once again… the kick was wide left. No matter who you were rooting for, it is hard not to feel for this kid who missed three field goals on college football’s biggest stage. Brandon Weeden completed a 24-yard pass to walk-on senior Colton Chelf that put them on the 1-yard line. The drama finally ended with a Quinn Sharp 22-yard field goal. Even though some NFL scouts stay away from Weeden because of his age (28), with 399 yards, 3 touchdowns, and clutch play throughout, Weeden bolstered the belief that he could still be a valuable NFL quarterback for 5-6 years. What about that other quarterback? Well, Mr. Luck put on a brilliant show, going 27/31, racking up 347 yards along with two touchdowns. Missing his targets just doesn’t seem to happen as he hits his wide receivers play after play. Even though the Colts still have Peyton Manning – who received their most recent franchise tag – Luck is too valuable a player to pass up. When a team has a pick this high in the draft, I am a big advocate for taking the best player instead of the best player for the position most needed on the team, and the Colts should take the Texan quarterback.

 

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College Catch-Up

13 11 2011

 

(#6) Oregon 53, (#3) Stanford 30

Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns, but was also responsible for two interceptions and a lost fumble in the Cardinal’s first loss of the season. Stanford’s schedule has been fairly soft up to this game, so this loss is a huge hit for their credibility. For the Ducks, running back LaMichael James rushed for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns, showing he is a true playmaker and will be a great addition to whatever NFL team drafts him. All of the sudden, Oregon has replaced Stanford as the Pac-12 team that could slip into the title game should a team in front of them stumble.

 

Texas A&M 50, (#17) Kansas St 53 (4OT)

With the 4 extra periods of play, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was able to throw for a career-high 281 yards, and account for six touchdowns in the air and on the ground. The Wildcats were able to come up with yet another dramatic victory while handing A&M another heart-wrenching loss. The Aggies put up good numbers with running back Cyrus Gray rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and QB Ryan Tannehill throwing for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns, but they still came up short. It’s amazing how far Texas A&M has fallen since being #9 in the preseason poll; now, they are sitting at 5-5 and must win one of their last 2 games against Kansas or Texas to even become bowl eligible.

 

TCU 36, (#5) Boise State 35

Not only did this game end the Broncos chances at a BCS bowl game, but now TCU is in the driver’s seat to win the Mountain West conference as both of their losses are out of conference. Boise State actually had a chance to win the game on a last second field goal, but the 39-yarder just missed thus snapping the nation’s longest home winning streak at 35 games. Kellan Moore was once again great throwing for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns, but this game was about the other quarterback – Casey Pachall. He hasn’t been given much credit this year, especially since he has to follow in Andy Dalton’s huge footsteps. However, throwing for 473 yards, tossing five touchdowns, and completing a crucial 2-point conversion to give his team the final lead established himself as a legitimate quarterback. Even though this is Boise’s only loss so far and is against a decent opponent, a loss for Boise State always means so much more due to their relatively weak strength of schedule.

 

(#2) Oklahoma St 66, Texas Tech 6

With Stanford and Boise State both losing, a spot in the title game is now the Cowboys’ to lose. They have been completely dominant lately, and Saturday was no different. Less than a minute into the second quarter, the score was 41-0. Enough said. Right now, an LSU/OSU matchup seems most likely, but anything can still happen. OSU is at Iowa State next week and finishes the season at home against in-state rival OU (who by the way has won 19 of the past 20 matchups). On the other hand, Texas Tech has just been awful ever since upsetting the Sooners in Norman a couple of weeks ago. That’s bad news for Oklahoma, as that loss to the Red Raiders looks worse and worse every week. If LSU or OSU slips up, voters are probably going to consider Oregon, Alabama, and Stanford over the Sooners due to the nature of their 1 loss.

 

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College Catch-Up

6 11 2011

 

(#1) LSU 9,  (#2) Alabama 6 (OT)

The “game of the year” came down to a defensive struggle with the Tigers coming out on top of a game where neither team could find the end zone. While the defenses were stellar, both teams had their troubles on offense. After throwing 1 interception all season, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee threw 2 on Saturday, which set up both of Alabama’s field goals. On the other hand, Alabama kickers missed 4 field goals, including one in overtime, which ended up sealing the Crimson Tide’s fate. LSU is set up nicely to go to the title game, but they should be careful. They still must play Arkansas and then the SEC West champ in the conference championship.

 

(#17) Kansas State 45,  (#3) Oklahoma State 52

As the SEC slugfest was happening on CBS, viewers could flip over to ABC to see the complete opposite happening in Stillwater. These two teams went back and forth all night, and OSU held KSU out of the end zone in the final seconds to come away with a victory. With all that offense, it’s no surprise that Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weedon set a school record with 502 passing yards. OSU will probably be ranked #2 in the BCS and control their own destiny with a shot to get into the title game. The December 3rd game against the Sooners might end up being the most important game in that school’s history.

 

Northwestern 28,  (#9) Nebraska 25

After a dominating victory over Michigan State last week, the Huskers lost to unranked Northwestern at home on Saturday. Nebraska is at its best when it can run the ball, but on Saturday they were held to a season low 122 rushing yards. On the other hand, the Wildcats still have a good shot at becoming bowl eligible for the fifth season in a row at a school not traditionally known for its football program. This is one of those games that nobody saw coming, and it makes things a lot more interesting in the Big Ten as Nebraska is now tied with Iowa and Michigan for second place in their division.

 

(#10) South Carolina 28, (#8) Arkansas 44

These two SEC teams came in with identical 7-1 records, both still eyeing a possible conference championship. However, because of stifling defense and capitalization off of turnovers, Arkansas showed LSU they better not be taking their last game of the season lightly. Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright continued his stellar senior season with 103 receiving yards on only 4 receptions along with two touchdowns. At this point in the season, Arkansas is 8th in the FBS in passing yards and LSU is 102nd. Regarding points against, Arkansas is 40th and LSU is 2nd. This will surely be another classic SEC battle.

 

Notes:

After a terrible start of the season, Georgia is now leading the SEC East and has the inside track to the SEC championship game.

Case Keenum finished Saturday’s drubbing of UAB with an NCAA career record 17,212 passing yards.

In Texas A&M’s 4 losses this season, they have been outscored 59-0 in the third quarters of those games.

The USA/Coaches Poll just came out, and those pollsters have decided to only drop Alabama to 4th (ahead of undefeated Boise State).

 

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College Catch-Up

30 10 2011

 

(#5) Clemson 17, Georgia Tech 31

Georgia Tech’s running game was unstoppable as the Yellow Jackets tallied up 383 total rushing yards and handed the hot Clemson team their first loss of the season. Georgia Tech was able to skunk the Tigers in the 2nd quarter 17-0, which allowed some breathing room for the rest of the game. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd has brought his team back from large deficits in multiple games this season, but the 24-3 hole was just too much for Boyd. Unfortunately, this probably dashes any hope the Tigers had of competing in the national championship.

 

(#9) Oklahoma 58, (#8) Kansas State 17 and Baylor 24, (#3) Oklahoma State 59

Oklahoma quickly bounced back from their loss to Texas Tech with a pounding of Kansas State. Landry Jones became the first Oklahoma quarterback to throw for over 500 yards and also became the school record holder for most career passing touchdowns (90). Kansas State’s running game kept them in the game up until half time, when they were only trailing 23-17. However, Collin Klein just couldn’t get anything going in the second half, finishing 8-16 for 58 passing yards as Oklahoma blitzed past the Wildcats in the 2nd half, outscoring them 35-0. Baylor’s final deficit was similar to Kansas State’s except the way in which they lost was completely different. Oklahoma State jumped on the Bears early and did not let up. The scoreboard read 49-3 after the 3rd quarter, and the points scored the rest of the way were just garbage time points. Turnovers are what sealed the deal for Baylor as they committed five compared to the Cowboys’ one. What both of these games show is that Baylor and Kansas State are just not ready to make the leap as an elite Big XII football program while both Oklahoma teams showed they are legitimate contenders and will inevitably provide a great ESPN College GameDay match-up on December 3rd.

 

(#6) Stanford 56, USC 48 (3OT)

In a game that will probably go down as one of the best games of the year, Andrew Luck carried his team to three successful offensive trips in overtime and kept his team’s National Championship aspirations alive. Watching this game makes it clear why there has been so much discussion about the bottom of the barrel NFL teams fighting for this college prospect. This battle was the epitome of back-and-forth drama, having 7 lead changes and three arduous overtimes. Oddly enough, even though this game had both teams giving it all they had, it ended on an anti-climactic note with a Curtis McNeal fumble in the end zone.

 

(#15) Wisconsin 29, Ohio State 33

Wisconsin lost a devastating game to Michigan State last week on a last second Hail Mary; unfortunately, this week wasn’t much better. Russell Wilson was consistent the entire game, throwing for 253 yards on 20-32 passing along with three touchdowns. The Badgers even scored 15 straight points in the fourth quarter to take a 29-26 lead, but yet again, another heave by the opposing team towards the end of the game resulted in Wisconsin losing a second game in a row. Interestingly, Ohio State won this game relying almost solely on their running game because if Devin Smith’s last 40 yard pass is taken away, he was 6-11 for only 49 passing yards and no touchdowns for the game.

 

Case Keenum broke the FBS all-time record for career touchdown passes with 139, as his Houston Cougars continued to win (8-0) in their hammering of the Rice Owls, 73-34. It shouldn’t go unnoticed that he also threw nine touchdowns, which is only two away from the all-time record held by a fellow Houston quarterback

 

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College Catch-Up

16 10 2011

 

(#1) LSU, (#2) Alabama, (#3) Oklahoma, (#4) Wisconsin, (#5) Boise State, and (#7) Stanford were completely dominant with the average margin of victory in these six games being 40 points.

 

Three unbeatens were knocked out for the first time on Saturday:

(#11) Michigan 14,  (#23) Michigan State 28

This set of Spartan seniors becomes the first group to sweep the Wolverines four years in a row for the first time in this rivalry since 1959-1962. Being the primary source of the Wolverine’s offense, Denard Robinson having 289 fewer total yards than he did in his previous game hurt Michigan in their loss.

Ohio State 17,  (#16) Illinois 7

Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes’ quarterback, completed only 1 pass the entire game, but it was a touchdown pass that put the game out of reach. The Fighting Illini showed their true colors in this game, playing a somewhat decent opponent.

(#12) Georgia Tech 21,  Virginia 24

Georgia Tech is known for its running attack, but Virginia had the exact same number of net rushing yards on the day, 272. Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington having as many interceptions as he did completions (2) and Virginia blocking the Yellow Jacket’s last field goal attempt sealed the deal for this game.

 

Other games of note:

(#6) Oklahoma State 38,  (#22) Texas 26

OSU maintains its status as a national contender with the matchup against the Sooners looming at the end of the year. Texas’s 4-0 start was promising, but they still have a long way to go to get back to where they want to be. Figuring out who is their quarterback for the future should be a main priority.

(#20) Baylor 28,  (#21) Texas A&M 55

Ryan Tannehill threw a career-high 6 touchdown passes, 4 of which were caught by Ryan Swope, a career-high for him as well. Even though this game ended up being a blowout, it should be noted the Aggies were up 31-14 at the beginning of the third quarter and Baylor fought back to make it a 34-28 game. However, A&M just kept making the big play when necessary – something they’ve struggled to do the past few weeks – and won handily.

(#18) Arizona State 27,  (#9) Oregon 41

After a tough opening weekend loss to LSU, the Ducks have torn through their schedule scoring an average of 53 points per game. They even took care of Arizona State with their primary source of offense – LeMichael James. Their last real test looks to be at Stanford on November 12th.

 

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