Archive for the ‘Big East’ Category
I probably should have written this last Friday, Saturday or even Sunday. I hope you will forgive the tardiness of this article as I have been letting the disappointment of the lost championship drain away. It seems 2009 was just the season destined to see the University of Texas as the #2. They lost the College World Series finals, the volleyball national championship and the BCS National Championship. Second place in three sports speaks of a school’s great talent and diversity, but it really would have been nice to see them bring home at least one of those titles.
But I digress.
I just wanted to wrap up the season with a few things. Some house cleaning items, if you will, along with some thoughts on the national championship game. First off, if you haven’t seen them, these are the final rankings:
|#1 Alabama (60)||#1 Alabama (58)|
|#2 Texas||#2 Texas|
|#3 Florida||#3 Florida|
|#4 Boise State||#4 Boise State|
|#5 Ohio State||#5 Ohio State|
|#6 TCU||#6 TCU|
|#7 Iowa||#7 Iowa|
|#8 Cincinnati||#8 Penn State|
|#9 Penn State||#9 Cincinnati|
|#10 Virginia Tech||#10 Virginia Tech|
|#11 Oregon||#11 Oregon|
|#12 BYU||#12 BYU|
|#13 Georgia Tech||#13 Georgia Tech|
|#14 Nebraska||#14 Nebraska|
|#15 Pittsburgh||#15 Pittsburgh|
|#16 Wisconsin||#16 Wisconsin|
|#17 LSU||#17 LSU|
|#18 Utah||#18 Utah|
|#19 Miami (FL)||#19 Miami (FL)|
|#20 Mississippi||#20 USC|
|#21 Texas Tech||#21 Mississippi|
|#22 USC||#22 West Virginia|
|#23 Central Michigan||#23 Texas Tech|
|#24 Clemson||#24 Central Michigan|
|#25 West Virginia||#25 Oklahoma State|
No major differences between the two major human polls. #1-#7 is the same. Though I’m trying to figure out why they put TCU ahead of Iowa when Iowa actually won their BCS bowl. Nebraska seems kind of low considering how they dismantled a ranked opponent. I’d say the same for BYU. And how on earth does the Coaches poll still have Oklahoma State ranked? Did they see how they played against Mississippi? It was pathetic.
Biggest Winner: Aside from the obvious answer of Alabama for winning the national championship and being a unanimous No. 1, I’d have to call it a toss-up between Boise State and Ohio State. Boise State manged to finish with its second top-5 finish in school history and continue to build momentum for non-BCS conferences by making this the fourth time in the last six years that a non-BCS team has finished in the top-5. And Ohio State made one of the bigger poll jumps, moving three spots to put an exclamation mark on a great bowl season for the Big 10 with a top-5 finish.
Biggest Loser: Navy. They totally dominated a solid Missouri team and still didn’t break the top 25. They were hosed after an impressive season with plenty of impressive wins. I can’t believe the voters overlooked Navy, especially when they managed to put Central Michigan in the top 25. The Pac-10 is a very close second for biggest loser and is worth mentioning. Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona fell out of the rankings in both polls after two of those three were absolutely throttled in their bowl games.
Here’s how the bowl season played out by conference:
|MWC||AF, BYU, TCU, Utah, Wyom||4-1||.800|
|Big East||Cincy, Pitt, Rut, UConn, USF, WVU||4-2||.667|
|SEC||Ala, Ark, Aub, Flor, Geor, Ky, LSU, Miss, SCar, Tenn||6-4||.600|
|Big 10||Iowa, MichSt, Minn, Nwstern, OSU, PSU, Wis||4-3||.571|
|Big 12||ISU, Mizzou, Neb, OU, OklaSt, Texas, TxA&M, TTech||4-4||.500|
|WAC||Boise St, FresSt, Idaho, Nev||2-2||.500|
|Sun Belt||MidTen, Troy||1-1||.500|
|ACC||BC, Clem, FSU, GT, Miami, UNC, VT||3-4||.429|
|C-USA||ECU, Hou, Marsh, SMU, SoMiss, UCF||2-4||.333|
|Pac-10||Ariz, Cal, Ore, OreSt, Stan, UCLA, USC||2-5||.286|
|MAC||BGreen, CMich, NIU, Ohio, Tem||1-4||.200|
Biggest Winner: Mountain West Conference. Even though lots of conferences put on great performances, the MWC was the buzz of the bowl season. Its only blemish was TCU’s close loss to Boise State…a very respectable loss to have on the record. Meanwhile, Air Force, BYU, Utah and Wyoming all came up with huge bowl wins that left pundits asking if the MWC should be in the mix of conferences that receive an automatic bid. I want to be on the record as saying that I’d have no problem with the MWC taking the ACC’s automatic bid, as the ACC fell to 2-10 in BCS bowls (second-worst is the Big 12, still way ahead at 7-10) and posted its third losing bowl season in a row. They haven’t had a winning bowl season since 2005. Time to stop treating that mess like a major conference.
Biggest Loser: Pac-10. And it’s not even close. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This time last year, the conversation was about the colossus that is the Pac-10 as they closed out an undefeated bowl season. That seems a distant memory as the Pac-10 posted a 2-5 record, including humiliating losses by Oregon State and Arizona. The conference’s only victories were USC (topping Boston College in a virtual home game at San Francisco) and UCLA (which beat Temple…not impressive).
Speaking of unimpressive, did anyone say anything about the picks Jon and I made for bowl games? My record was completely pathetic. Jon’s was only mildly pathetic.
On BCS Bowls:
Final for bowl season:
Final season total:
I think it’s clear who the big winner and the big loser is on this one. Congratulations to Mr. Castano on a great season. I very much look forward to next season and going out on a limb less with those Vanderbilt picks.
Lastly, I just have some thoughts on the national championship that I want to share.
1. Those were two of the best defenses that I’ve seen square off in college football in recent memory. I thought Alabama and Texas both deserve huge credit for what they did defensively. And, since nobody is really talking about them in the wake of Alabama’s performance, I want to say that Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston were awesome and deserve just as much credit as anyone on Alabama that’s getting all the love right now. The two Texas defensive linemen combined for 18 tackles (14 solo) and three sacks. There’s no way those two didn’t improve their draft stock with how they played.
2. Mark Ingram is an absolute beast. Not that you didn’t already know that, I just want to give credit where it’s due. After watching Greg McElroy this year and watching what happened when Ingram went out with cramps in the third quarter (Texas held Alabama to 3 yards of offense), I think it’s very easy to say this team wouldn’t be much without Ingram. Even though I still think Toby Gerhart deserved the Heisman.
3. The NCAA needs to take a serious look at how games are being officiated, especially in the SEC. Alabama came into the championship having gone 34 quarters without having a holding call on their offensive line. That is literally impossible. I subscribe to the saying that there is a holding call on every play, it’s just a matter of whether you want to call it. I think that’s true, and that means that SEC officials chose not to call the Tide for holding for eight and a half games. That’s insane. And if they played every game like they did against Texas, the idea that it’s just disciplined ball is a myth, because they held all over the place. I’m not making excuses for the Longhorns…that’s just a fact.
It’s also a fact that there was a false start on Alabama’s first touchdown that the refs didn’t call. Go back and watch it, and keep an eye on Terrence Cody. He rocks before the play starts and they missed it. The officiating in that game was suspect, as it seems to have been all season in Alabama games. Again, not making excuses for the Longhorns. These are just facts.
4. The Texas coaching staff absolutely did not earn their pay in that game. I know it’s never easy when your two-time Heisman-nominated QB goes down, but the coaching staff flat-out froze in that game. They showed no faith in Garret Gilbert, running predictable running play after predictable running play, making it easy for Alabama to bunch the line of scrimmage and forcing Gilbert to throw on a third and 12 and a third and 15 in the first half. Before D.J. Monroe broke a 28-yard run on an end around, Texas ran eight running plays, mostly up the middle, for a total of only 22 yards. They gave Gilbert no chance in the first half. But, what’s more, when you saw him on the sidelines he was all by himself. Nobody coaching him up, encouraging him or even making him feel like he was so much as a part of the team. They treated him like a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the 8th.
And that was just the most egregious of the mistakes by the coaching staff. The shovel pass at the end of the first half was a bad call. They rugby punted with Justin Tucker when they should have been punting it straight and they punted it straight with John Gold when they should have been rugby punting. Their whole strategy was backwards. I spent the entire night wondering what Texas could possibly be paying these guys huge sums of money for. That performance was an embarrassment.
5. Even with all the losses on defense and offense, Texas will be right back next year with Gilbert. His 37.5 completion percentage, four interceptions and a fumble, and 73 QB rating is hardly exemplary. But he showed resilience getting his team back into the game in a hopeless situation. He fought and showed flashes of brilliance even as his wide receivers let him down repeatedly with numerous dropped passes, including ones on third downs and one in the end zone, all of which could have completely changed the complexion of the game. Gilbert showed some guts that night, and I think Texas fans will be very happy with what he produces these next three years.
Okay, I guess it matters. We all enjoy the picks. I’m hoping to have some time to do some actual insight into the picks in the coming days. But, since we dropped the ball on today’s pick, Jon and I just decided to post our picks for some of the remaining big games.
The way in which our picks don’t matter is season standings. My picks constantly let me down the last week as Jon turned his lead into a Nebraska-vs-Arizona-esque rout.
Last week’s results:
To bring our season standings to an insurmountable lead of:
That recapped, here are our picks for the remaining big games:
|#3 Cincinnati vs. #5 Florida||Allstate Sugar Bowl||Florida||Florida|
|#4 TCU vs. #6 Boise State||Tostitos Fiesta Bowl||TCU||TCU|
|#9 Georgia Tech vs. #10 Iowa||FedEx Orange Bowl||Iowa||Georgia Tech|
|#1 Alabama vs. #2 Texas||Citi BCS National Championship||Texas||Texas|
It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that. I wanted to take some time to write a few thoughts on some of the events in college football since I last posted.
BCS blows it again
No, I’m not gong to complain about who’s playing in the national championship. Yeah, a playoff would be neat, but I don’t think you can make a case for Cincinnati, TCU or Boise State over Texas and Alabama. I think it’ll be a great game and I’m totally looking forward to that one.
And maybe only to that one.
It’s not a shock, given the projections we’ve seen for weeks, but I think the matchups this year are horrible. I can’t complain too much about Oregon and Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. We knew that one was coming, and I think it’ll be an okay game. One team’s great offense against another’s great defense, and another almost inevitable loss for the Big 10 in a BCS Bowl. Why they keep giving them two BCS Bowls a year escapes me.
The Sugar Bowl is the one that I think has me most furious. Cincinnati and Florida. I desperately wanted to see TCU play the second place team from the SEC. I think TCU has earned the right to play in a game like that and prove themselves against talent like that. To say nothing of the fact that I think it would just be a great game. TCU and Florida are really good on both sides of the ball. I think it’d be a great matchup. Instead we have Florida against a team that’s all offense and just lost its head coach. This one’s a stinker.
The Fiest Bowl. Oh, what were they thinking? They could have taken Iowa, freeing up TCU to play in the Sugar Bowl like I wanted them to, but instead they took TCU and Boise State. Now we have a BCS Bowl between two teams who are not from major conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll be a good game. This is the one I’m most looking forward to, aside from the championship I just think both of them earned the right to prove themselves against major conference opponents, and I wish they could. But, now you have a scenario where it becomes easy to dismiss the winner because they “only” beat TCU or “only” beat Boise State. Plus, if I had my wish, I’d have Boise State playing either Cincinnati or Georgia Tech. Two teams that play a whole lot of offense and not a lot of defense could be a nice selling point to a bowl people otherwise wouldn’t really watch.
And then the Orange Bowl. The one that just keeps putting up the worst matchups of all. Last year it was Virginia Tech and Cincinnati in truly one of the worst bowl game displays I’ve ever seen. That game was pathetic. Now they pit Iowa, who nosedived at the end of the season, against Georgia Tech, which found ways to eek out wins all season. Nice manipulation by the BCS, though, pitting the ACC against the Big 10. The Big 10 has lost six straight BCS Bowls over the last three years, and the ACC won its BCS bowl last year to break an eight game BCS losing streak. It’s the bowl where one of these loses has to win, and I think it’ll be Iowa, finally breaking the Big 10’s losing record, because…well, look at Georgia Tech’s schedule and that loss to a not very good Georgia team. You take the ACC teams out of the ACC and they’re just not very good.
Southwest Region wins Ingram the Heisman Trophy
We all know by now that Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy this year, making him the first Alabama player ever to win college football’s most prestigious individual award. As a Texas Longhorns fan, I initially wanted to be hurt on Colt McCoy’s behalf for the region that should have won him tons of votes giving the most votes to Ndomokong Suh. Despite Suh’s amazing performance this year, we all knew he wasn’t going to win, so the Southwest Region (primarily Big 12 company) decided to make a statement by voting for Suh…well, just because, I guess. I initially thought that McCoy would have done much better with more votes from that region, but it turns out that it would have made little difference. The one who really suffered was Toby Gerhart, the Stanford running back who finished just 28 points behind Mark Ingram. He had his lowest finish in the Southwest (4th) and second-lowest vote total of any region (just behind the 176 he got in the South. He finished second, but Tim Tebow stole some points there). So, but for the Southwest Region, Gerhart probably takes home the trophy.
As a side note, there are some strange point discrepancies I’m having a hard time figuring out. When I looked at the by-region list, I had Ingram finishing with 1,295 points (nine behind his actual finish) and McCoy finishing with 1,134 points (11 behind his actual finish). The count for Suh was dead on. I’d attribute this to additional points gained from votes from former Heisman winners, but I calculated Gerhart to have 1,287 from the regional voting, which puts him 11 higher than he actually finished. I don’t think you can lose votes from the former Heisman winners, so I’m gonna have to do some digging and figure out what happened there.
Brian Kelly makes a selfish, but completely understandable, decision
There has been no shortage of news coverage detailing Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly’s move to Notre Dame. There has also been no shortage of news coverage the ire of Kelly’s former players over his decision to leave them high and dry going into the biggest game that Cincy has ever played. And I can’t blame them. Kelly did leave them high and dry, and it stinks. I was impressed when I saw him on Pardon The Interruption and Mike and Mike in the Morning at just how much class he showed in addressing his former players. I think he has handled this with as much grace and diplomacy as you can in a situation like this. Nevertheless, he did screw the guys that got him the Notre Dame job.
That said, I totally understand why he did it. I think in this situation, all you can do is jump ship and try to handle things diplomatically in the press. This is an important recruiting period, and it’s hard to tell Notre Dame, “Put recruiting on hold for a month while I go play in a bowl game for a school I already said I’d leave.”
Even if it wasn’t an important recruiting period, I understand the move. Cincy is probably going to get annihilated in their bowl game. I just saw an ESPN poll asking who will win the Sugar Bowl, and 76 percent of the country says it’ll be Florida. West Virginia was the only state that had the Bearcats winning. Even their home state of Ohio had Florida winning (by a narrow margin, but still). If they hire him and he coaches his team to a blowout, think of the blowback from fans, the media and boosters. In Chicken Little fashion, they will start screaming that they are doomed already. Or, if he waits until after the bowl game to talk to them and he gets crushed, maybe they’re not so interested anymore. At the very least, people would not be having their current reaction that it was such an astute hire.
I want to be on record as saying that I do think this is an astute hire. Notre Dame has been looking in all the wrong places, looking at coaches who had extremely limited experience in the capacity of head coach. That’s important at a place like Notre Dame. I’m with Lou Holtz in saying that you have to demonstrate the ability to win repeatedly as a head coach to thrive at Notre Dame, and Kelly has done that. At all three of his head coaching stops, he has led his teams to unprecedented success. I think the Irish finally got it right.
It’s that weekend where we get to learn who is going to BCS Bowls and who is not (except Ohio State…we’ve known that for a while). This weekend we have conference championships (Big 12, SEC, ACC and Conference USA) and fortuitously scheduled head-to-head games that, while not literal conference championship games, do pit the conference’s top two teams together in virtual conference championships to decide who goes to a BCS Bowl (Pac-10 and Big East).
And what it means for us (in addition to some really good football) is more chances to see who can pull away and win this year’s picks. At best, I can merely cut into Jon’s lead a little this week, as he went straight chalk and I went with my gut on Rutgers over West Virginia.
Jon, of course, now has a three-pick lead over me:
Going into this week’s picks:
|#1 Florida vs. #2 Alabama||Florida||Florida|
|#3 Texas vs. #22 Nebraska||Texas||Texas|
|#5 Cincinnati at #15 Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Cincinnati|
|#6 Boise State vs. New Mexico St.||Boise State||Boise State|
|#7 Oregon vs. #16 Oregon St.||Oregon||Oregon|
|#10 Georgia Tech vs. Clemson||Georgia Tech||Georgia Tech|
|#18 USC vs. Arizona||USC||USC|
|#19 California at Washington||California||California|
|#21 Houston at East Carolina||Houston||Houston|
|#23 West Virginia at Rutgers||Rutgers||West Virginia|
News Of The Day: Texas, Florida Use Halloween Slaughters to Separate From Pack; Another BCS disaster on horizon
They’re stories that Alabama, TCU, Cincinnati, Iowa, Boise State and maybe even Oregon fans won’t like, but ESPN.com’s Pat Forde and Mark Schlabach accurately point out that Texas’s rout of Oklahoma State and Florida’s dismantling of Georgia go a long way to setting the stage for the national championship everyone was expecting heading into the season.
As a little bit of a side note, the BCS is headed for a huge potential controversy. If you hadn’t noticed, there are six teams remaining that could very easily go undefeated.
Florida’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 14-20 with only one ranked team left on the schedule in South Carolina (and they probably won’t be ranked today after getting crushed by Tennessee yesterday). Alabama still has a decent run to make with LSU and Auburn left on the schedule (with Mississippi State and Chattanooga in between), but if they’re able to make that run and pick up some credible wins, they’ll face Florida in the SEC championship. One of them would have to emerge undefeated (again, barring an upset).
Texas has already virtually locked up the Big 12 South. They would have to lose all of their remaining three conference games to lose their lead in the division. That’s unlikely, with Central Florida, Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M left on the schedule. Then they go to the Big 12 championship to play the winner of the North (probably Kansas State or Nebraska). There’s no reason why they should lose any of their remaining games.
TCU has been dominant, winning by an average of 24 points. Their only real hurdle to perfection is No. 16 Utah, who they play at home.
The toughest game Cincinnati has left is their season closer at No. 15 Pittsburgh. Before that, they have Connecticut, West Virginia and Illinois, all at home. You know they’d love to have Tony Pike back, but the way Zach Collaros is filling in for him, I don’t know that they need him back any time soon. In two starts, Collaros has 548 yards, seven TDs and 0 INTs, with QB ratings of 271 and 214. UConn, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all have better defenses than the Syracuse and Louisville defenses Collaros posted those numbers on, but I still don’t see Cincy having any problem finishing the season undefeated.
Iowa still has a serious hurdle at Ohio State on Nov. 14. Other than that, they have Northwestern and Minnesota (both 5-4) at home. Iowa should finish undefeated.
And Boise State cleared its only hurdle on the first game of the season against Oregon. And that was fortunate timing for the Broncos, because if they play now, I think Oregon smokes them. Boise State should finish undefeated, but they are out of the championship mix because they take a strength of schedule hit every week, and they’re already way down at No. 80.
The BCS could be headed for yet another season of great controversy. However, it should also be pointed out that this is not the first time this has happened. We have had a number of undefeated teams that looked like they could win out late in the season before, only to have a number of them stumble against teams everyone thought they’d beat easily. So, take this early concern with that in mind. It will just be interesting to see, yet again, how the season plays out and what that means for the BCS debate.
This is what we have all been waiting for guy and gals. The BCS standings came out today and I have to say compared to the pre season poll this has a sort of day and night effect.
Lets take a look at the rankings
First off, the top 3 are pretty much not a shock at all. Bama is steamrolling through their season thus far while Florida and Texas seem to be sputtering against real opponents. Don’t get me wrong I am getting closer and closer to the mindset of “Any Given Saturday” but for right now there are “real” opponents and not so “real” opponents, but I digress. Seeing Boise St. at 4 on the BCS is a bit upsetting for me. I have been sold on the Broncs in seasons past but this year they are just a good team that is depending way too much on their ability to score with misdirection and a QB with a good arm. They don’t seem to be the same team that can get smacked in mouth and come right back at you and shut you down with their defense, and looking at the rest of their schedule we probably won’t see if or if they are not.
Cincy is in 5th and a commanding 5th at that. They seem to be a lock to win the Big East with their only real opponent being Pitt. I am totally going to mark that game on my calendar after I got to watch the Rutgers v. Pitt game. Obviously the Bearcats will be the favorites in this game but I don’t think Cincy will have seen an offense as powerful as Pitt’s the whole season.
Iowa is 6th in the BCS, and the sole undefeated team in the Big “Televen” at 6-0 (first time since 1985) they only have 1 more road block game against the Ohio State Buckeyes who recently lost a very sloppy game against Purdue.
I would assume the one team that feels they are feeling outside looking in would be USC. Honestly they deserve to be 7th in BCS because they have their horrible loss to Washington. If that is their only reason for not making it to the national championship I would consider that quite fair.
The last thing that I am going to mention is that there are 3 teams that are ranked in the BCS that are not ranked in the AP top 25. Guess it pays to be ranked well in the “other” categories.
I keep hearing about how the Big East is better than we think it is. That we’ll be really impressed if we actually watch them play. That, as the commentators said during the game last night between No. 21 South Florida and No. 8 Cincinnati, if nothing else they’ll show that they can play defense; that they’ll hit you in the mouth.
Really? That sounds exciting. Let me know when that starts.
Two years ago, when West Virginia was at its peak and UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati and Rutgers all turned into contenders with their surprise seasons, I grudgingly admitted that the Big East was pretty good.
That may or may not have been withheld until West Virginia trounced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, but still.
Since then, the Big East has reverted to its losing ways. The beginning was highlighted by last year’s Orange Bowl, when a pretty bad No. 19 Virginia Tech beat up on an even worse No. 12 Cincinnati. The only way the ACC can win a BCS Bowl – pit them against the Big East.
And No. 19 vs. No. 12? This is the Bowl Championship Series? Three top-10 teams missed out on BCS games while we were subject to the number 19 team versus the number 12 team in truly one of the worst sports viewing experiences of my life.
Cincinnati scored in the first quarter. That was it for them for the game. The two teams combined for 27 points and five turnovers. Cincinnati’s Tony Pike had a 43.2 QB rating in the game. Tyrod Taylor of Va. Tech was marginally better with a 58.9.
The ineptitude continued last night as, once again, a big Big East matchup failed to live up to the billing in Cincinnati’s easy 34-17 win over South Florida. The stats look pretty good overall (aside from South Florida racking up 12 penalties for 113 yards), but if you actually watched the game, you saw a couple of teams that just don’t look like they’re up to snuff.
I don’t want to take anything away from Tony Pike. He and his receivers made some great plays last night. However, South Florida also helped pave the way for them with some awfully big mistakes.
Take South Florida’s third possession, for example. The Bulls managed to march down to the Cincy 27-yard line. On third and three, B.J. Daniels rushed for no gain. Then, rather than going for the field goal to tie the game, they called a passing play (for a QB who has been better at running than passing), had an incomplete pass and walked away from the Bearcats 27 yard line with no points.
Despite that poor decision, they had a great chance on the next possession. South Florida got the ball after its defense forced three straight incomplete passes by Pike. What does South Florida do? Throw an interception that leads to the first TD for the Bearcats.
Two possessions later, after they had already sacked Pike once, South Florida had a chance at a safety on 3rd and 17, but the blitzing defender whiffed and Pike completed a beautiful pass along the sideline to convert the third down. On the next play, one South Florida player had an offside penalty and a late-hit penalty to hand Cincy 20 yards for free. Four completed passes later, the Bearcats had a 17-7 second quarter lead.
So, Cincinnati made some plays, but their first two TDs came because of South Florida miscues. And the game continued like that. Even when Pike had to leave with an apparent aggravation of the plate that he has from when he broke his arm last season, replacement QB Zach Collaros passed for 72 yards on just four completions and rushed 10 times for 132 yards and two TDs.
It was just a sloppy game all around that failed, yet again, to sell me on the Big East being any good at all. And with the way that South Florida dominated Florida State earlier this year in B.J. Daniels’s first college start, the question must be posed – how bad is the ACC?