Friday, October 31, 2008

Senior Spotlight: Big 12 Conference

WR JUAQUIN IGLESIAS, OU

While Malcolm Kelly (Redskins) garnered most of the national attention among the Oklahoma receivers in 2007, it was Juaquin Iglesias who led the Big 12 Champions in receptions and receiving yards. The Texas native runs sound routes and has arguably the most reliable hands in the conference, if not the country. His quick acceleration makes him a threat after the catch and a dangerous weapon in the slot. Iglesias understands how to work the sidelines and the middle of the field on third down situations, often coming through in big spots. This Sooner is also a fabulous return man. Undersized both in terms of height and bulk, Iglesias’ understanding of the game, quickness and sound technique make him one of the top senior wide outs. He currently leads the Sooners in receptions and receiving yards and is on his way to a 1,000-yard season. His next touchdown catch will set a new career high and in four conference games, the senior is averaging 119.5 yards per game.

2008: 44 Receptions, 746 Yards, Five Touchdowns
Career: 172 Receptions, 2,457 Yards, 14 Touchdowns

RB MARLON LUCKY, NU


At 6’0 and 215 pounds, Lucky has good size but is not the special back many projected coming out of high school—he simply lacks the explosiveness of a marquee runner. However, he has been a very solid contributor to the Cornhuskers’ offensive attack for the last two-plus seasons. What the California native does well is run hard and catch the ball out of the backfield—his 75 receptions in 2007 were the most of any running back. In addition to possessing a dependable set of hands, Lucky is also productive after the catch, averaging 10 yards per reception over his career. While he is not as productive as a receiver this season (20 receptions), he is averaging a career high 13.6 yards per reception. A bright young man, Lucky is known for his good character. After a slow start, Lucky has averaged over 4.0 yards per carry in each of his last three games. He has crossed the goal line in his last two contests, both Nebraska wins. Last week against Baylor, he bettered 80 yards both as a runner and a receiver.

2008: 455 Yards, 4.4 per Carry, Seven Touchdowns
Career: 2,331 Yards, 4.7 per Carry, 22 Touchdowns

QB GRAHAM HARRELL, TEXAS TECH


Harrell’s numbers have been off the charts, but that is nothing new for Mike Leach’s quarterbacks since the coach arrived in Lubbock. Even so, it is difficult not to be impressed by Harrell’s 16 games of 400-plus passing yards in his last 22 contests dating back to Tech’s bowl win his sophomore season. Harrell is a cool costumer, who in back-to-back seasons has led the Red Raiders to improbable comeback wins in bowl games, earning MVP honors both times. He is bright and makes good decisions with the football and also earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors for his work in the classroom. He continuously has to prove to doubters that he is not a “system quarterback”. Harrell makes quick decisions and is an accurate passer, but does not have prototypical size or arm strength. Last week, Harrell led the Red Raiders to five touchdowns in five first half possessions in Lawrence, as Texas Tech remained undefeated and cracked the top five. In four Big 12 games, the senior signal caller has thrown 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department

Fan's Weekend Guide - Week Ten

The Conference Title is on the Line When…
Texas Visits Texas Tech (November 1, 8:00, ABC):

For the fourth straight week the Texas Longhorns play a game where something of significance is on the line—the Red River Rivalry, Texas pride, the Big 12 South and a spot in the BCS Championship game. While they still don’t have to leave the state of Texas, the ‘Horns are playing in enemy territory for the first time during this stretch. Colt McCoy has jumped out ahead of the pack in the Heisman race, leading Texas in passing (2,285 yards, 21 touchdowns) and rushing (412 yards, seven touchdowns). Defensively, Brian Orakpo (nine sacks) has been a force. His battle with Tech’s Rylan Reed, who kept Chris Long sackless in the Gator Bowl, will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this game. If given time, the combination of Graham Harrell (3,147 yards, 28 touchdowns) to Michael Crabtree (60 receptions, 794 yards, 14 touchdowns) could be too much to handle, even for the No. 1 team in the land. If too much attention is paid to the defending Biletnikoff winner, it will allow Detron Lewis, Eric Morris and Tramain Swindall to break free. With the duo of Baron Batch (537 yards, 7.5 ypc) and Shannon Woods (481 yards, 5.2 ypc) running the ball well, the Red Raiders may actually have the more balanced offense of the two.

Don’t Call it an Upset When…
Florida St. Visits Georgia Tech (November 1, 3:30, ABC):
Quietly, the Seminoles have worked their way up to No. 15 in the country. They are winners of four in a row while the Yellow Jackets lost to Virginia last week and were banished from the land of the ranked (for now). This all points to a Florida St. win, yes? No. In the last five intra-conference games between a team that is ranked and a team that isn’t, the unranked team has won four times. In a conference where Duke beat Virginia, who beat Maryland, who beat Wake Forest, who beat Florida St., who beat Virginia Tech, who beat North Carolina, who beat Miami, who beat Duke…there are no upsets.

The Team That Can’t Afford to Look Ahead is…
Utah Visiting New Mexico (November 1, 9:30, The MTN):
Heading into the weekend the Utes from Utah are the highest ranked non-BCS team—they stand at No. 9 in the Coaches Poll and No. 10 in both the AP Poll and the all-important BCS Standings. Their two biggest obstacles to their BCS dream are TCU and BYU. The Utes take on the Horned Frogs next Thursday, only five days after their trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Lobos are only 4-5, but that is what makes them dangerous. New Mexico has won three in a row in University Stadium, including a 36-28 upset of Arizona. In senior tailback Robert Ferguson (865 yards, 5.0 ypc, 11 touchdowns), the Lobos possess the Mountain West’s leading rusher.

The Team on the Cusp is…
California Hosting Oregon (November 1, 3:30, ABC):
A 41-20 victory over UCLA was not enough to vault Jahvid Best (643 yards, 7.0 ypc, six touchdowns) and the rest of the Golden Bears into the rankings, but a win over No. 24 Oregon this Saturday certainly will.

Football Fan's Four-Pack - Week Ten

By JOHN GARRETT

Northwestern at Minnesota (November 1, 12:00, ESPN2): Two things were lost last week for the Wildcats: a 21-19 decision at Indiana and their top offensive player—senior running back Tyrell Sutton—who is out for the season. The No. 20 Golden Gophers come into homecoming riding a three-game winning streak. The Minnesota defense has been instrumental in the past three victories, allowing just six points and 109 passing yards in last Saturday’s win over Purdue. Both teams have bounced back from disappointing 2007 seasons due largely to their defensive improvements. Through eight games, the Gopher defense has allowed 137 points, while the Wildcats have allowed 146.

Super Senior: William VanDeSteeg, DE, UM

Star of Tomorrow: Vince Browne, DE, NU

Nebraska at Oklahoma (November 1, 8:00, ESPN):
The No. 4 Sooners and Cornhuskers will meet for the 84th time in the history of the series Saturday at Owen Field. One thing that Nebraska will do to try to match the speed of the Sooners is line up redshirt freshman Marcus Mendoza at wide receiver. Coach Bo Pelini hopes the speedster from Texas is able to create some mismatches against the OU defense. On the injury front, senior running back Marlon Lucky should be able to go on Saturday after suffering a minor ankle injury in the Huskers’ victory over Baylor last weekend.

Super Senior: Joe Ganz, QB, Nebraska

Star of Tomorrow: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Tennessee @ South Carolina (November 1, 7:00, ESPN2):
Coming off a bye-week and having won four of their previous five contests, the Gamecocks will host the Volunteers at Williams-Brice Stadium. But keep in mind that South Carolina hasn’t defeated Tennessee at home since a win on Halloween in 1992. The Volunteers lead the all-time series 21-3-2 dating back to 1903.

Super Senior: Carlos Thomas, CB, USC

Star of Tomorrow: Eric Berry, DB, Tennessee

Wisconsin @ Michigan St. (November 1, 12:00, ESPN):
The Badgers have won seven of the last 10 meetings between the schools, but fell 49-14 in their last trip to Spartan Stadium in 2004. Wisconsin’s defense will get to know the senior running back for the No. 22 Spartans, Javon Ringer, before the day is through. Ringer currently leads the country in touchdowns (16) and ranks second in the nation in rushing (1,373), as well as all-purpose yardage (1,717).

Super Senior: Otis Wiley, S, Michigan State

Star of Tomorrow: David Gilreath, WR, UW

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department

Big Ten Preview - I Want Candy!

By JOHN SEARS - BIG TEN INSIDER

Halloween is this Friday. How does each game measure up to your favorite holiday treats you find in your bag after a night of trick-or-treating?

Northwestern at Minnesota: (Midnight MilkyWay – didn’t know what it was at first, but was pleasantly surprised at the new dark chocolate combination) If Northwestern didn’t turn the game over last week to Indiana, I would have played this up as a very intriguing under-card in the Big Ten. Perhaps one surprise is that the Gophers (3-1) and Wildcats (2-2) are already bowl eligible, looking for more. The home team comes off of an impressive win over Purdue where they caused four turnovers and shut down the Boilermaker offense (226 total yards).

Key Match-ups:
Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher vs. Minnesota secondary –
time and again, it seems that Bacher is making poor decisions with the ball, which should come as no surprise to Northwestern historians – Bacher has never thrown more touchdowns than interceptions (6 vs. 8, 19 vs. 19, 10 vs. 11) from 2006 to present. This is a more pressing issue against the Gophers who lead the nation in takeaways (24 total, 12 interceptions – tied for tops in the conference). If Northwestern giveth, Minnesota will taketh away.

Minnesota’s hog mollies vs. Northwestern’s big uglies – sacks are great momentum and field position equalizers. Northwestern is giving up the fewest sacks (7) while racking up the most sacks (24) in the Big Ten. The Gophers have gotten to the quarterback as well (22), but have allowed quarterback Weber to eat dirt 17 times, second worst in the Big Ten. Who will get to the quarterback more this week?

Because both teams are comparable in scoring offense [Minnesota vs. Northwestern] (28 points per game vs. 27), red zone offense (89% vs. 87% efficiency) and total offense (356 yards per game vs. 378), this game may come down to who gets to the opponent’s red zone more. This will depend on the battle of field position, which in turn depends on turnovers and sacks. The winner of the turnovers + sacks statistic will win the game, and I think Minnesota has this equation down.

PREDICTION: Minnesota 21, Northwestern 17

Wisconsin at Michigan State: (a large, plump, juicy candied apple with a large plump juicy worm crawling out – salivating until the disappointing finding)
Wisconsin finally snapped their Big Ten losing streak (4) with a surprising win over Illinois last week. The Badgers seem to have settled in offensively at quarterback with Dustin Sherer, but took a big hit with tight-end Travis Beckum’s season ending broken leg. Garrett Graham has shown flashes that he can fill Beckum’s shoes to an extent, which complements Wisconsin’s strategy of using the power running game to set up the pass to the tight end. On the Spartan side, I am concerned that so much weight was placed on beating Michigan. After succeeding in that task, will they now flop against the Badgers in a disappointing letdown?

Running back Javon Ringer shows up against Wisconsin, but the rest of the team is still left on route I-96 staring at some billboards: (http://tedfox.dotphoto.com/CPViewAlbum.asp?AID=5589758)
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 28

Iowa at Illinois: (Jelly Belly mixed bag: sizzling cinnamon + buttered popcorn + grape jelly can’t be good, but somehow it is).
You love to see match-ups that pit both teams’ best squads on the field simultaneously. In this instance, Illinois’ offense against Iowa’s defense will be your Jelly Belly nutty combination. The Illini are second in the conference in scoring (34 points/game), whereas Iowa is tied for first in scoring defense surrendering just 11 points per contest. Illinois is tops in passing offense (272 yards/game) against the Hawkeyes third best pass defense (192 yards/game). Illinois brings the third best rushing offense (190 yards/game), Iowa has the third best rush defense (106 yards/game).

In the other hand of Jelly Bellys, Iowa brings almost 200 yards per game rushing with Shonn Greene against Illinois’ eighth ranked rush defense (152 yards/game), which will be the difference.

PREDICTION: Iowa 24, Illinois 20

Michigan at Purdue: (a king size Snickers bar…but the wrapper is open, so you don’t know if there’s a razor blade slipped in–normally a satisfying find, now a health hazard).
The only time head coaches Rich Rodriguez and Joe Tiller get to settle the “Snake Oil Bowl” will be this year. Don’t confuse good defense with offensive sludge in this one – Purdue is eleventh (395 yards/game) and Michigan ninth (378 yards/game) in total defense and they are tied for last (-9) in turnover margin in the Big Ten. Toss in a Michigan quarterback who can’t feel from his elbow down (Steve Threet) and Purdue quarterback who is still listed on their roster as a running back (Justin Siller). On the flip side, if there’s any kind of fight left in the tank for either team, they should remember that bowl eligibility hangs in the balance. Oh, the gravity of the situation.

I believe Michigan will finish with two wins. Therefore, Purdue wins. It’s that simple.

PREDICTION: Purdue sloppy, Michigan sloppier

Central Michigan at Indiana: (the Smarties that fell out of the weak cellophane wrapper, smashed up at the bottom of the of your bag – Halloween is a chocolate holiday, enough said)
Last year, Central Michigan quarterback Dan Lefevour nearly eclipsed 5,000 total yards (3,652 passing, 1122 rushing) with 46 total touchdowns. This year’s numbers are down significantly as he is pacing for only 3,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Last year, Hoosiers quarterback Kellen Lewis approached 4,000 total yards (3,043 passing, 736 rushing) with 37 total touchdowns. This year’s numbers are down significantly (partially due to injuries) as he is pacing for 2,000 yards and only 12 touchdowns. How about we take both teams, hop in our DeLorean, punch it to 88 mph and see if we can play this one last year?

PREDICTION: Because this game will have been played in the past with said time machine, I looked up the results online and found the quarterbacks themselves combined for 800 yards and seven touchdowns in a surprising thriller. Indiana 39, Central Michigan 34

Photo Credit: University of Minnesota Athletic Communications

The Class of 2007

By NATHANIEL PURINTON

With Week 8 in the rearview mirror, some teams have reached the halfway point of their season and others are on the cusp. I thought we might take a look back at the five biggest offensive acquisitions from the 2008 NFL Draft and how each player has impacted their respective teams.

1. MATT RYAN, QB, ATLANTA

It’s an absolutely remarkable achievement when an argument can be made for a rookie quarterback as the most valuable player on his team. And that’s been the case in Atlanta from the first snap in week 1. On literally the third snap from scrimmage, his first NFL pass went for a 62-yard touchdown and the unbelievable renaissance of the Atlanta franchise has continued as the Falcons find themselves at 4-3 after a tough loss in Philadelphia on Sunday. Against a tough Eagle defense that limited the Steelers to just 6 points and 179 total yards earlier this season, Ryan threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns in the 27-14 defeat. Ryan is on track for a 3,000-yard season, an achievement that few, if any, pundits thought possible when the season began. More impressively, he has become the face of the franchise just a little more than a year after Michael Vick, the previous franchise quarterback, was sentenced to prison time for his role in a dog-fighting ring.

2. CHRIS JOHNSON, RB, TENNESSEE

In what could be looked back upon one day as one of the best drafts for running backs in recent history, Chris Johnson was the fifth running back taken behind Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, and Rashard Mendenhall as the 24th overall pick to the Titans. His speed was unquestioned but some draft experts wondered whether he had the size to stand up to the physical pounding of the NFL. Seven games into the season in the Titans ball-control offensive system, Johnson has been the game-breaker Tennessee has long lacked in the backfield. He is averaging nearly 90 yards per game, has scored four times, and has two runs of 40 or more yards for the undefeated Titans. Not even halfway into his first season in the NFL, defenses are being forced to game plan for him, a compliment that few rookie running backs receive.

3. MATT FORTE, RB, CHICAGO

With their second round pick, the Bears selected Matt Forte out of Tulane. With former first round pick Cedric Benson officially a bust, the Bears found themselves once again searching for a running back in the 2008 Draft. Although lacking the breakaway speed of Johnson, Forte won the starting job in Chicago during training camp and proved he deserved it in week one, rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown in a surprising road win over the Colts. Forte is on pace for a 1,000-yard season and his productivity has forced defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage, allowing QB Kyle Orton to find success down the field with play-action passes. Forte is a major reason the Bears are averaging 28 points per game, third in the NFL and seven points per game more than in 2007.

4. DESEAN JACKSON, WR, PHILADELPHIA


Other than the season and a half when the Eagles had Terrell Owens, Philadelphia has long searched for a receiver who could stretch the field and create big plays for Donovan McNabb and the offense. Jackson, a second round pick out of California, is averaging almost 16 yards per reception, leads the team in receiving yards, and appears likely to crack the 1,000-yard receiving barrier. McNabb is on pace for a career high in passing yards, a stat that can be directly traced to Jackson’s ability to make plays down the field. He also has added an element on special teams where he has had two returns of over 40 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown against Washington in Week 5.

5. JOE FLACCO, QB, BALTIMORE

Though his numbers pale in comparison to fellow rookie Matt Ryan, Flacco has also been impressive in the young season, earning the starting job for the rest of the year with his performance in the season’s first half. With Troy Smith and Kyle Boller felled by an illness and shoulder injury respectively, Baltimore turned to the rookie out of Delaware to start the season. He has managed the game admirably and avoided crucial mistakes in leading Baltimore to a 4-3 record, good enough for second in the AFC North. He is completing over 60% of his passes and has shown incredible arm strength, most recently against Oakland Sunday when he hit Demetrius Williams for a 70-yard touchdown. Flacco may not take Baltimore to the postseason in his first season, but Jon Harbaugh and the Raven coaching staff can rest easy knowing their rookie quarterback has a bright future in the NFL.

Photo Credit: Collegiate Images, College Press Box (Boston College)

This Date in College Football History


October 31, 1959: LSU halfback Billy Cannon (2008 College Football Hall of Fame inductee) returns a punt 89 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown, sealing the Tigers come-from-behind 7-3 triumph over Mississippi in Baton Rouge. The Famous Halloween- night run secures Cannon's eventual Heisman Trophy win.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Game of the Week: Georgia vs. Florida

THERE’LL BE NO love lost between these two bitter rivals this Saturday, as Florida will try to avenge a humiliating defeat to the Bulldogs last year in which several Gators took exception to what they considered to be a contentious touchdown celebration on the part of Georgia. If that weren’t enough to spice up this SEC showdown, this game will also likely decide the winner of the conference’s Eastern Division while also having national championship implications.

When the Gators Have the Ball


COMING OFF YET another stellar performance in Florida’s whitewash of Kentucky last week, quarterback Tim Tebow is tailor made for coach Urban Meyer’s offense. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner orchestrates the spread-option like a true maestro, giving defenses fits with his ability to score both with his arm and his feet. Tebow’s 6’3” frame belies his elusiveness as a runner. The junior has a good arm, but doesn’t always throw the most catchable ball. Florida’s cadre of talented receivers is also the source of quite a few sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators, starting with Percy Harvin. Despite being hampered by a heel injury during the past two seasons, the 5’11” speedster is a home run threat every time he touches the ball at both the running back and wide out positions. This open-field dynamo combines 4.3 speed with a dose of wiggle ability that makes many defenders miss. Louis Murphy is no slouch either, in fact, after a slow start to his collegiate career, the 6’2” playmaker has developed into a force that is toasting cornerbacks on downfield routes. Murphy’s 18 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns this season would be significantly higher across the board in a more pass-oriented attack. Florida’s running backs are weapons in their own right. The undersized, but speedy Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey are cut from the same cloth. Rainey can start and stop on a dime, and then explode as he runs downfield with exceptional balance and vision. Demps’ unmatched pure speed makes him a dangerous chess piece that can be used in a variety of ways. The freshman will become even better once he improves his patience and change-of-direction tendencies. Tight end Aaron Hernandez has filled in admirably for the injured Cornelius Ingram. Left tackle Phil Trautwein is a strong run blocker with excellent technique.

GEORGIA OPERATES A DEFENSE that’s strong versus the run despite the absence of standout defensive tackle Jeff Owens, who’s recovering from a season-ending ACL injury. This linebacker-driven unit has a plethora of difference makers at the position, including Darryl Gamble, who filled in for Dannell Ellerbe last week and played a key role in his team’s dismantling of LSU. Gamble returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recorded a career-high 13 tackles. Outside linebacker Rennie Curran is another key component who uses his remarkable lateral quickness to close in on opposing ball carriers and thwarts any hopes of a big running play. This sideline-to-sideline enforcer leads the Bulldogs with 69 tackles and three sacks. Justin Houston and Demarcus Dobbs are a pair of promising defensive ends who both chipped in with one sack each last Saturday. Dobbs in particular, has displayed flashes of greatness, with the mobility and all-out intensity that makes him an invaluable member of this defense. Corey Irvin and Geno Atkins do all the run-stuffing dirty work at defensive tackle. Irvin is second on the team with six tackles for a loss. Georgia’s secondary isn’t quite up to par, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve allowed 13 touchdowns passes and have only eight pickoffs even though they haven’t faced any top-level quarterbacks to date. In last week’s game, the Bulldogs allowed four passes of 20 yards or more. Cornerback Asher Allen is the headliner of this defensive backfield. The 5’10” junior is a complete player adept at forcing fumbles, blitzing quarterbacks, and also providing tight coverage.

When the Dawgs Have the Ball


BLESSED WITH AN immense throwing arm, quarterback Matthew Stafford is perhaps the best pure passer in the nation, but his production hasn’t always been at the same level as his skill set. Stafford’s pedestrian statistics are due in large part to coach Mark Richt’s conservative game planning. But against Florida this week, the future pro will probably be called upon to throw quite a few deep outs to keep pace with Florida’s high-octane scoring machine. What’s been most notable about Stafford lately is how he’s improved as a pocket passer by keeping his eyes downfield despite being surrounded by a chaotic mass of pass rushers. The reason for that hellacious pass rush is due to Georgia’s young offensive line that’s been plagued by injury. In the past two games, however, this makeshift unit has come together, allowing only one sack of Stafford. In the past two weeks, that same offensive line, led by true freshman center Ben Jones, has paved the way for the spectacular exploits of Knowshon Moreno. The sophomore has gained 335 yards on only 44 carries during that stretch. The New Jersey native’s 4.4 speed, vision, instincts and relentlessness have made him an unstoppable weapon that continues to get better as the season wears on. At wide receiver, A.J. Green has provided the Bulldog attack with a playmaking component they’ve lacked at the position in recent years. The 6’4” freshman may still be undisciplined in his route running at times. He more than makes up for that with his one-of-a-kind agility and body control, which along with his excellent hands, allow him to come down with a number of long receptions along the sidelines. Mohamed Massaquoi is more of the possession type with at least one catch in 29 straight games. Tight end Aron White has loads of potential and finally showed signs of his physical gifts by making a 48-yard grab last week.

THE UNQUESTIONED LEADER of Florida’s defense is middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who sets the tone with his toughness and instincts, which allow him to quickly flow to the ball carrier and drop back in coverage. While he may not be as fast as some other top players at his position, Spikes has a knack of always putting himself in the best position to make a play. His partner in crime, A.J. Jones, is an aggressive outside linebacker who makes plays all over the field and is one superb hitter. Jones is physical at the point of attack and has good feet and agility to get around blockers. The real star of this defense, however, is Florida’s intense defensive end Jermaine Cunningham. His quick first step and feline quickness off the edge make him a load to contain as a pass rusher. But for all his skill in pressuring quarterbacks, the junior must improve in playing the run. Fellow end Carlos Dunlap is a freakish 6’7”, 290-pound defender with 4.7 speed. Dunlap’s long arms help him disengage from blockers and his noteworthy quickness enables him to run down plays from the backside. Talented cornerback Janoris Jenkins remains probable to start in this week’s contest. The Gator coaching staff hopes to have his unique anticipatory skills and exceptional closing speed at its disposal as they try to contain Matthew Stafford and company. Heat seeking missile Major Wright excels at knocking down passes and laying the wood from his safety position.

Final Analysis

LOOK FOR FLORIDA to put up some quick points in this ball game and force the Bulldogs to play catch up. Georgia’s 80th ranked offense will put up a valiant effort, but won’t be able to muster enough points to have a chance in this SEC battle. Tim Tebow is primed for yet another masterful performance.

Prediction: Florida 41 Georgia 27

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media

TEXAS' OGBONNAYA NOMINATED FOR FEDEX ORANGE BOWL COURAGE AWARD


DALLAS (FWAA) - Texas' Chris Ogbonnaya is this week's nominee for the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season. Ogbonnaya, a senior from Missouri City, Texas, has overcome the deaths of several adopted family members and friends to succeed on and off the field.

Ogbonnaya's father, Kalu Ogbonnaya, a native of Nigeria and a physician specializing in internal medicine, was raising his four children alone after a divorce. The family grew to seven in 1997 when tragedy struck close family friends. When Jonah Ifegwu died of terminal brain cancer and his wife, Rose, was killed in a car accident, Kalu Ogbonnaya took over caring for the Ifegwu family's three sons.

Six years ago, Ifegwu Ifegwu, an adopted brother, was killed in a head-on collision. Two months later, another adopted brother, Jonathan Ifegwu, collapsed and died of a congenital heart condition as Chris Ogbonnaya watched.

"To have it happen in front of you," Chris Ogbonnaya told The Dallas Morning News, "it's different. It's a hollow feeling."

"Why would a whole family be wiped out like this?" Kalu Ogbonnaya wondered.

But Chris Ogbonnaya has overcome to become a success story. He has already graduated with a degree in history and a minor in business, and is a semifinalist for the Draddy Award, which recognizes athletes' academic prowess.

During his first four years at Texas, he played fullback and receiver, but never found a consistent role. But he emerged this season, as a fifth-year senior, as the Longhorns' starting tailback. He has become a consistent threat for the nation's top-ranked team.

For the third straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl will announce a weekly nominee each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy.

The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship.

Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 333-member, primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent organization that supports and produces activities and events that enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida. In addition to the 75th edition of the Orange Bowl Festival, which features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the FedEx Orange Bowl on January 1, the Orange Bowl Committee will host the 2009 FedEx BCS Championship Game on January 8. For more information on the 2008-09 Orange Bowl Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities, visit orangebowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

Between the Hashes: Trick or Treat?

MACK BROWN AND the Longhorns most certainly did not understand the question when they answered “trick”.

The college football gods were more than happy to oblige Bevo with a trick for the ages—beat four teams ranked No. 11 or higher over a 22-day stretch, a quartet that entered their contest against Texas with an aggregate record of 25-1.

Texas won their first five games by a combined score of 236-57, winning three times by the score of 52-10. But respect was not easily earned, not in the post-Vince Young Era in Austin. That would not come until they knocked off the then top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry in Dallas.

Colt McCoy, the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, embodies the perfection that is Texas football in 2008. The quarterback from Tuscola, Texas owns a ridiculous 81.8 completion percentage. Every deep pass seems to have just enough touch to get past the defender, whether it hits the outstretched 6’3” Malcolm Williams in the hands (versus Missouri) or lands softly in the waiting arms of a tumbling Quan Cosby (versus Oklahoma St.). Heck, even when he fumbles the snap, McCoy simply scoops it up and completes the pass, as if the fumble was part of the harmonic series.

Last week against Oklahoma St., for the first time all season, McCoy missed a note.

The junior signal caller threw his first interception of the season in Texas Memorial Stadium. It was the second time in the third quarter he found a member of the Cowboys. An interception on the previous possession was negated because of a personal foul penalty. On the ensuing drive, McCoy fumbled the football with the Longhorns in field goal range.

Was this just a blip in their run to a second national championship under Mack Brown? Will it be a character builder they can flash to when facing adversity again? Or is it a sign they are vulnerable this week when they travel to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders of Texas Tech?

NO TEAM HAS received a sweeter treat this fall than the Penn St. Nittany Lions. Did anyone leave last week’s game in Columbus believing Penn St. was the best team in the country? They took advantage of an offensively challenged Buckeyes squad led by a true freshman quarterback, whose fourth quarter fumble was a season saver for Joe Paterno’s bunch.

This was Penn St.’s first win in Columbus since joining the Big Ten, and it was preceded by their first win over the Michigan Wolverines in nine tries dating back to 1997.

Michigan of course is going to miss a bowl for the first time since 1974. The one up and coming team in the Big Ten, 7-1 Minnesota, isn’t even on docket for the Nittany Lions.

Joe Pa need not apologize. The Hall of Fame coach has led four teams that finished undefeated and never got the opportunity to compete for a championship (1968, 1969, 1973, 1994). So, we won’t ask Paterno about fair.

GOING ON THE road in the SEC has never been a treat. That will be an understatement when it comes to Alabama’s Nick Saban making his much anticipated return to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers. How do you say “trick or treat” in Cajun?

The Crimson Tide started out the season by knocking out the No. 9 Clemson Tigers for the season and went “between the hedges” and took care of the Georgia Bulldogs. They have defeated hated rival Tennessee on the road and survived tough tests from Mississippi and Kentucky. But the deed, which in ‘Bama is always win a national championship, is far from done. Even if they survive their trip to the Bayou, the Tide will roll into the SEC Championship game with a one-loss Georgia or a one-loss Florida standing in their way.

Photo Credit: University of Texas Athletics, SEC Sports Media

Mike Teel Breaks Loose

By JOHN GARRETT - RUTGERS BEATWRITER

Last Saturday, a college football team put up 54 points, and its quarterback was named both USA Today’s National Player of the Week and the Big East Offensive player of the Week.

Oh yeah, and he became the first player in Big East history to throw five touchdown passes in the first half of a league game.

The guy, Rutgers fifth year senior quarterback Mike Teel, led his team, the Scarlet Knights, to this impressive victory.

No…seriously.

Teel also set a school record with six touchdown passes in the stunning offensive explosion by the Knights at Heinz Field Saturday. The 54-34 win over 17th-ranked Pittsburgh was Rutgers’ first road victory over a Top 25 team in 20 years.
Rutgers was ranked 115th nationally in scoring offense going into the contest, but was still able to gain its first win over a ranked team on the road since they upset Penn State in 1988
Teel ended his day 14-of-21 for 361 yards with six TD passes, both career highs.
The Knights are now (3-5 overall, 2-2 in Big East play) heading into a bye next week before last-place Syracuse visits Rutgers Stadium on Nov. 8.

At halftime this past Saturday, when Rutgers had a 34-24 lead, Teel had already matched the school record for touchdown passes with five.

The Knights, in another impressive nugget, had five touchdown drives that required four plays or less -- three coming in the first half.

Rutgers tied the Panthers (5-2 overall, 2-1 Big East) at 7-7 when Teel hit junior wide receiver Tim Brown on a 60-yard touchdown pass, and took the lead when Teel hooked-up with Britt for the first of the wide receiver’s three scores on the day – this one a 79 yarder, the longest play for the Knights this season.

To prove that it was a complete game for the Knights, the special teams and defense even showed up to play in the same game as the offense, causing two third-quarter turnovers after failing to record one in six of their first seven games.

The first occurred after defensive back Zaire Kitchen was able to tear the ball from the grasp of Pitt punt returner Aaron Berry, allowing fellow Rutgers' DB Colin McEvoy to recover.

Aggressively taking a shot right after the turnover, Teel hit Brown for a 36-yard touchdown to give Rutgers a 41-31 lead.

The two plays were keys in helping stop the Panthers momentum.

Senior linebacker Kevin Malast created the other turnover with the first interception of his career, and added an exclamation point with a 74-yard return. Red-shirt sophomore tailback Kordell Young converted on an 8-yard touchdown run soon after to give the Knights a 48-31 lead, sealing the deal for the Knights’ fourth straight win over the Pitt since 2005, and keeping their slim bowl hopes alive.

No…seriously.

O'Brien Quarterback Award Marquee Match-up for Week Ten

FORT WORTH, Texas (October 29, 2008) - The 2008 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® (The O'Brien) Semifinalist Match-up for week ten highlights a pair of games featuring O'Brien Semifinalists going head-to-head in conference play. Florida-Georgia and Texas-Texas Tech have been selected as co-Marquee Match-up games for this week. Fans can show their support for any of the 13 Semifinalists by visiting www.VoteOBrien.org and casting their vote once daily; the Fan Vote will count as 5% in determining the Finalists.

Semifinalist Marquee Match-ups (based on start times):

Florida (Tim Tebow) vs. Georgia (Matthew Stafford)
Saturday, November 1 at 2:30 p.m. (CST) on CBS

SEC rivals Tim Tebow of Florida and Matthew Stafford of Georgia put their top 10 BCS rankings on the line as they lead their offenses into Jacksonville, Fla. for this annual tradition. Both teams enter this hyped game with momentum from strong wins last week. 2007 O'Brien Winner Tim Tebow was responsible for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) at the Swamp last week as the Gators routed Kentucky 63-5. With two rushing touchdowns in the first half, he tied Emmitt Smith for the most all-time rushing touchdowns (36) in school history. The junior quarterback has also earned the top quarterback rating in the SEC (157.6). Stafford looks to continue Georgia's winning streak after the Bulldogs defeated the LSU Tigers 52-38 in Death Valley. The junior quarterback completed 17-of-26 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in Saturday's game. Stafford also rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter while improving his record to 24-5 as a Bulldog starter. The winner of this historic match-up will hold control of the SEC East and set its sights on the conference championship in Atlanta on December 6.

Texas (Colt McCoy) at Texas Tech (Graham Harrell)
Saturday, November 1 at 7 p.m. (CST) on ABC

The Big 12 will see a conference showdown Saturday between No.1 Texas and No. 7 Texas Tech. O'Brien Semifinalists McCoy and Harrell will go head-to-head as both quarterbacks look to defend their team's unbeaten status. McCoy and the top-ranked Longhorns head to Lubbock after knocking off the then-undefeated Oklahoma State Cowboys 28-24. McCoy completed 38-of-45 passes for 391 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to one rushing. The junior quarterback continues to lead Texas in rushing with 412 yards and ranks second in the nation with a quarterback rating of 186.46. Harrell's powerful offensive performance helped bolster the Red Raiders to a No. 7 ranking after a 63-21 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks. The senior signal caller went 34-of-42, throwing for 386 yards and five touchdowns, as well as one on the ground. With 3,147 passing yards for the season, Harrell leads the nation in passing yards. The team left standing after Saturday's match-up will be the only undefeated team in the Big 12 and will be on track for an appearance in the conference championship at Arrowhead Stadium on December 6.

Additional Semifinalist Games (alphabetical by player's last name):

Sam Bradford: Nebraska at Oklahoma
Saturday, November 1 at 7 p.m. (CST) on ESPN

Sophomore Sam Bradford boasts the nation's third highest quarterback rating (185.85). The Sooners will clash with the Nebraska Cornhuskers after a convincing 58-35 victory over Kansas State last week.

Chase Daniel: Missouri at Baylor
Saturday, November 1 at 2 p.m. (CST)

Daniel and the Missouri Tigers hit the road as they face the Baylor Bears on Saturday. The senior quarterback carries the momentum from a 58-0 shutout of Colorado last week, during which he completed more than 83 percent of his passes for five touchdowns.

Max Hall: BYU at Colorado State
Saturday, November 1 at 5 p.m. (CST) on The Mountain

The BYU Cougars continue their Mountain West Conference play as they take on the Colorado State Rams this weekend. Hall enters this match-up after completing 24-of-31 passes for four touchdowns last week, leading the Cougars to a 42-35 win over UNLV.

David Johnson: Tulsa at Arkansas
Saturday, November 1 at 1 p.m. (CST) on ESPN360.com

Johnson leads the Golden Hurricanes outside of C-USA play to test their strength against the Arkansas Razorbacks of the SEC. Johnson, who boasts the nation's No. 1 quarterback rating (205.34), hopes to carry the momentum from last week's win to defend his team's undefeated record.

Todd Reesing: Kansas State at Kansas
Saturday, November 1 at 11:30 a.m. (CST) on FSN

Kansas residents from across the state will head to Lawrence to watch this battle between in-state rivals. Reesing, a junior, will have the support of Jayhawk fans behind him as he works to direct his team to a victory at home.

Zac Robinson: Iowa State at Oklahoma State
Saturday, November 1 at 2:30 p.m. (CST) on ABC

Robinson and the ninth-ranked Cowboys have garnered national attention throughout the season for their stellar performance thus far. Robinson has executed with consistent efficiency as his team's signal caller and looks to add another win for the 7-1 Cowboys when they host Iowa State on Saturday.

Mark Sanchez: Washington at USC
Saturday, November 1 at 5:30 p.m. (CST) on FSN

USC continues to escalate in the polls under the leadership of junior quarterback Sanchez. The 6-1 Trojans return to the Coliseum to host the Washington Huskies after a 17-10 win over Arizona last week.

John Parker Wilson: Arkansas State at Alabama
Saturday, November 1 at 2 p.m. (CST) on ESPN Game Plan

Alabama fans will be cheering "Roll Tide" when Wilson and his No. 2 team take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves at home. Wilson directs the Crimson Tide's dynamic offense as their quest for an SEC title continues.

This Date in College Football History

October 30, 1971: In West Lafayette, Michigan State halfback Eric "The Flea" Allen breaks Michigan running back Ron Johnson's (1992 College Football Hall of Fame inductee) NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game, sprinting for 350 yards in the Spartans' 43-10 victory over Purdue.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BCS Busters - Players of the Week

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

WR Jimmy Young, TCU

The sophomore wide out broke out for the Horned Frogs last Saturday with five receptions for 226 yards and three touchdowns. All three touchdowns went for at least 39 yards, with his longest reception of the day (65 yards) setting up yet another score. Young’s 226 yards set a school record and is the best receiving performance by a Mountain West player this season.

Honorable Mention: Levi Brown, QB, Troy:
40-of-50 passing, 391 yards, two touchdowns

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

S James Lockett, Tulsa

Whether he was blitzing or dropping back in coverage, Lockett was making plays in Tulsa’s 49-19 win over Central Florida. The junior recorded three of the Golden Hurricane’s nine sacks and a pair of forced fumbles, each of which led to a Tulsa touchdown.

Honorable Mention: Jorrick Calvin, DB, Troy: nine tackles, two TFLs, interception in end zone

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

K Kevin Goessling, Fresno St.

Goessling’s 58-yard field goal as time expired won the game for the Bulldogs 30-28 over Utah St. It was the freshman’s third field goal of the day.

Honorable Mention: Mike Salerno, K, Northern Illinois: game-tying & game-winning FGs


Photo Credit: TCU Athletics Media Relations

Small School Players of the Week

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly

Barden had a record-breaking weekend with 12 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns in Cal Poly’s win over Southern Utah. With that performance, he broke Darrell Jones’ school record for career catches with 181 and snapped Jerry Rice’s mark for touchdown receptions in consecutive games at 27.

DEFENSE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

S Beau Hadley, Weber St.

Hadley recorded 11 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in the Wildcats’ 42-14 victory over Northern Arizona. Hadley’s game-changing plays occurred with NAU still in the game. His first forced fumble, which he recovered, led to a touchdown to give Weber St. a 14-0 first-quarter lead. His second forced fumble also led to a score and put the game out of reach (28-7) in the third quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

K Patrick Bolen, Georgia Southern

Bolen’s numbers weren’t the most impressive but his kicks were a key to the Eagles’ comeback win over Western Carolina. He put three-of-five kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks and executed the first onside kick of the season to aid Georgia Southern in their largest comeback win in school history.

Photo Credit: Great West Conference

Top 25 - Week Nine

1. Texas Longhorns (1)
Record: 8-0 (4-0)
Coaches Poll: 1
Associated Press: 1
Last Week: Won vs. Oklahoma St. 28-24

Despite an early 14-0 lead, the Longhorns ended up in a showdown with the Pokes, which they survived. Colt McCoy threw for 391 yards, but turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter.
Up Next: 11/1: @ Texas Tech; 11/8: vs. Baylor

2. Alabama Crimson Tide (2)
Record: 8-0 (5-0)
Coaches Poll: 2
Associated Press: 2
Last Week: Won @ Tennessee 29-9

Even without Mount Cody manning the middle, the Crimson Tide defense was smothering. They limited the Volunteers to 173 yards, with a critical stand after a fumble inside the 10-yard line.
Up Next: 11/1: Arkansas St.; 11/8: @ LSU

3. Penn St. Nittany Lions (3)
Record: 9-0 (5-0)
Coaches Poll: 3
Associated Press: 3
Last Week: Won @ Ohio St. 13-6

While the HD was coming in a bit fuzzy, the Penn St. D, as in defense, was crystal clear. The front seven made the Buckeyes one-dimensional, neutralizing Beanie Wells (2.5 yards per carry).
Up Next: 11/1: BYE; 11/8: @ Iowa

4. Oklahoma Sooners (5)
Record: 7-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 5
Associated Press: 4
Last Week: Won @ Kansas St. 58-35

The Sooners’ offense (528 yards) continues to mask a mediocre defense (550 yards allowed), that isn’t slowing anyone down. They lost a 28-7 lead before the offense pulled away.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Nebraska; 11/8: @ Texas A & M



5. Georgia Bulldogs (6)
Record: 7-1 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 8
Associated Press: 8
Last Week: Won @ LSU 52-38

Knowshon Moreno rumbled for 163 yards and Matthew Stafford threw for 249 yards, but the top Dawg was linebacker Darryl Gamble, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Florida; 11/8: @ Kentucky


6. Southern California Trojans (5)
Record: 6-1 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 6
Associated Press: 7
Last Week: Won @ Arizona 17-10

The offense did not play their best football (season-low in points), so the defense stepped to the forefront holding the ‘Cats below 200 yards, including a key fourth-and-inches stop in the game’s final stanza.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Washington; 11/8: vs. Cal

7. Oklahoma St. Cowboys (7)
Record: 7-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 10
Associated Press: 9
Last Week: Lost @ Texas 28-24

There is no way anyone could have watched the Pokes play in Austin without thinking they were very much worthy of their ranking.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Iowa St.; 11/8: @ Texas Tech

8. Florida Gators (8)
Record: 6-1 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 7
Associated Press: 5
Last Week: Won vs. Kentucky 63-5

Speedy freshman running backs Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey continue to make an impact, this time blocking punts on special teams.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Georgia; 11/8: @ Vanderbilt



9. Texas Tech (11)
Record: 8-0 (4-0)
Coaches Poll: 5
Associated Press: 6
Last Week: Won @ Kansas 63-21

Texas Tech went to Kansas and showed courage, brains and heart. The offense was spectacular, moving the ball at will and defensively the Red Raiders made more than enough plays.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Texas; 11/8: vs. Oklahoma St.


10. Utah Utes (12)
Record: 8-0 (4-0)
Coaches Poll: 9
Associated Press: 10
Last Week: BYE

Coach Kyle Whittingham was making the rounds, but their play does their talking for them.
Up Next: 11/1: @ New Mexico; 11/6: vs. TCU

11. Ohio St. Buckeyes (9)
Record: 7-2 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 13
Associated Press: 13
Last Week: Lost vs. Penn St. 13-6

It is easy to focus on the youth of true freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor, but their offensive line was dominated by Penn St.’s front seven. The defense was stellar, but it wasn’t enough.
Up Next: 11/1: BYE; 11/8: @ Northwestern

12. Missouri Tigers (9)
Record: 6-2 (2-2)
Coaches Poll: 14
Associated Press: 14
Last Week: Won vs. Colorado 58-0

The Tigers had a cathartic win at the expense of the Buffaloes. Chase Daniel (302 yards, five touchdowns) and Jeremy Maclin get back on track and a Big 12 Title is still within reach.
Up Next: 11/1: @ Baylor; 11/8: vs. Kansas St.

13. TCU Horned Frogs (17)
Record: 8-1 (5-0)
Coaches Poll: 12
Associated Press: 12
Last Week: Won vs. Wyoming 54-7

The Horned Frogs continue to flex their muscles. Sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Young caught five passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns. That’s an average of 45.2 yards per reception.
Next: 11/1: @ UNLV; 11/6: @ Utah

14. Boise St. Broncos (15)
Record: 7-0 (3-0)
Coaches Poll: 11
Associated Press: 11
Last Week: Won @ San Jose St. 33-16

Their win over the Spartans was closer than it should have been—a one possession game midway through the fourth quarter—as Boise St. dominated in yards and time of possession.
Next: 11/1: @ New Mexico St.; 11/8: Utah St.

15. LSU Tigers (10)
Record: 5-2 (3-2)
Coaches Poll: 15
Associated Press: 15
Last Week: Lost vs. Georgia 52-38

For the second time in three weeks, the LSU Tigers were taken behind the woodshed by an SEC East foe and this time it happened on the bayou. Could their defense be overrated?
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Tulane; 11/8: vs. Alabama

16. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (16)
Record: 8-0 (5-0)
Coaches Poll: 18
Associated Press: 19
Last Week: Won vs. UCF 49-19

After blowing a 14-0 lead, Tulsa went into halftime trailing 19-14. How did they respond? With 35 unanswered points. David Johnson threw for only one touchdown but scored two of the Hurricane’s six touchdowns on the ground.
Up Next: 11/1: @ Arkansas; 11/8: BYE

17. Minnesota Golden Gophers (23)
Record: 7-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 20
Associated Press: 20
Last Week: Won @ Purdue 17-6

How about a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Gophers? Believe it or not, Minnesota is going bowling and could even ring in the New Year as well. Kudos to head coach Tim Brewster.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Northwestern; 11/8: vs. Michigan

18. Brigham Young Cougars (20)
Record: 7-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 17
Associated Press: 17
Last Week: Won vs. UNLV 42-35

Quarterback Max Hall (24-of-31, 245 yards, four touchdowns) and the Cougars are back in the saddle again after their loss to TCU. Winning a Mountain West Title is still within their grasp.
Up Next: 11/1: @ Colorado St.; 11/8: San Diego St.

19. Florida St. Seminoles (NR)
Record: 6-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 16
Associated Press: 16
Last Week: Won vs. Virginia Tech 30-20

The Florida St. defense held Virginia Tech to 243 total yards, forced (and recovered) a pair of Hokie fumbles, and knocked out two Tech quarterbacks (Tyrod Taylor & Sean Glennon).
Up Next: 11/1: @ Ga. Tech; 11/8: vs. Clemson

20. South Florida Bulls (13)
Record: 6-2 (1-2)
Coaches Poll: 23
Associated Press: 24
Last Week: Lost @ Louisville 24-20

For the second time in three games, the Bulls’ defense couldn’t hold on after the offense gave USF a fourth quarter lead. Matt Grothe (30-of-40) threw for 344 yards, but it was all for naught.
Up Next: 10/30: @ Cincinnati; 11/1: BYE

21. Ball St. Cardinals (24)
Record: 7-0 (3-0)
Coaches Poll: 19
Associated Press: 18
Last Week: Won vs. E. Michigan 38-16

Junior signal caller Nate Davis threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 34 yards on three carries and even added a score on a four-yard touchdown reception for Ball St.
Up Next: 11/1: BYE; 11/5: Northern Illinois

22. California Golden Bears (NR)
Record: 5-2 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: NR (28)
Associated Press: NR (27)
Last Week: Won vs. UCLA 41-20

The Golden Bears continue to play well at home, where they are undefeated. Their home perfection was in question until the fourth quarter when Cal scored 24 straight points.
Next: 11/01: vs. Oregon; 11/8: @ USC

23. Michigan St. Spartans (NR)
Record: 7-2 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 21
Associated Press: 22
Last Week: Won @ Michigan 35-21

This is a new era of Spartans football; one loss does not break a season. Brian Hoyer threw for 282 yards and Javon Ringer ran for 194 yards to lead Michigan St. to their first win over their instate rival in Ann Arbor since 1990.
Up Next: 11/1: vs. Wisconsin; 11/8: vs. Purdue

24. Oregon Ducks (NR)
Record: 6-2 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 24
Associated Press: 23
Last Week: Won @ Arizona St. 54-20

The Ducks ran for 304 yards and five touchdowns while holding Arizona St. to 333 total yards. Running backs Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount each scored twice.
Up Next: 11/1: @ California; 11/8: vs. Stanford

25. North Carolina (NR)
Record: 6-2 (2-2)
Coaches Poll: 22
Associated Press: 21
Last Week: Won vs. Boston College 45-24

The Tar Heels bounced back nicely from their overtime loss at Virginia with a 45-7 run on the Eagles. Junior wide out Hakeem Hicks stepped up with 170 total yards and four touchdowns.
Up Next: 11/1: BYE; 11/8: vs. Georgia Tech

Five to Watch: Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon St., Troy, West Virginia

Dropped Out: Pittsburgh (18), Georgia Tech (19), Kansas (21), Boston College (22), Cincinnati (25)

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media, UNC Athletic Communications, Texas Tech Athletics

Kory Sperry of Colorado State Named John Mackey Tight End of the Week


Manhasset, N.Y. (October 29, 2008) - Kory Sperry of Colorado State was named John Mackey Tight End of the Week by the Nassau County Sports Commission. The Mountain West Conference senior recorded six receptions for 51 yards and three touchdowns, most importantly the go-ahead touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter to lead the Rams to a huge 38-34 victory over San Diego State. Other candidates considered for this week's Mackey Tight End of the Week include Brandon Pettigrew of Oklahoma State and DJ Williams of Arkansas.

The John Mackey Tight End of the Week is an honor distinct and different from the annual John Mackey Award. This weekly honor was started in 2004 to draw attention to individual play by Tight Ends during the active season. The Tight End of the Week acknowledgment does not have a direct bearing on the final John Mackey Award selection process.

The Nassau County Sports Commission, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization created to enhance quality of life of Nassau County residents through sports, is responsible for the administration of the John Mackey Award and the John Mackey Award Selection Committee. The 2008 recipient of "The Mackey" will be announced at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show live December 11, 2008 on ESPN and presented at the Nassau County Sports Commission Annual Awards Dinner on April 27, 2009.

For additional information, please visit www.johnmackeyaward.org or www.nassausports.org.

This Date in College Football History


October 29, 1955: Before a record crowd of 59,475 in Notre Dame Stadium, No. 9 Notre Dame, led by future Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung (1985 College Football Hall of Fame inductee), upsets No. 4 Navy on Knute Rockne Memorial Day, 25 years after the legendary coach's last season in South Bend. The 21-7 loss ends the Middies' nine game- winning streak.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BCS Buster Watch - Week Nine

1. Utah Utes (1)
Record: 8-0 (4-0)
Coaches Poll: 9
Associated Press: 10
Last Week: BYE

The Utes begin a difficult November stretch that includes visits from TCU and BYU, a pair of ranked, one-loss Mountain West foes.
Up Next: 11/1: @ New Mexico; 11/6: vs. TCU

2. TCU Horned Frogs (4)
Record: 7-1 (4-0)
Coaches Poll: 12
Associated Press: 12
Last Week: Won vs. Wyoming 54-7

What separates TCU from the rest of the BCS Busters is their ability to play defense, led by linebacker Jason Phillips (9.5 tackles for a loss) and defensive end Jerry Hughes (12 sacks).
Next: 11/1: @ UNLV; 11/6: @ Utah

3. Boise St. Broncos (2)
Record: 7-0 (3-0)
Coaches Poll: 11
Associated Press: 11
Last Week: Won @ San Jose St. 33-16

In freshman quarterback Kellen Moore, senior tailback Ian Johnson and sophomore tailback Jeremy Avery, the Broncos possess one of the most balanced offenses, regardless of conference.
Next: 11/1: @ New Mexico St.; 11/8: Utah St.

4. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3)
Record: 8-0 (5-0)
Coaches Poll: 18
Associated Press: 19
Last Week: Won vs. UCF 49-19

The defense stepped up after giving up 19 second quarter points, pitching a shutout after halftime (held UCF to 38 total yards in the second half).
Next: 11/1: @ Arkansas; 11/8: BYE

5. BYU Cougars (2)
Record: 7-1 (3-1)
Coaches Poll: 17
Associated Press: 17
Last Week: Won vs. UNLV 42-35

After allowing just 61 points through six games, the BYU defense has given up 67 points in the last two games. They need to buckle down.
Up Next: 11/1: @ Colorado St.; 11/8: San Diego St.

Photo Credit: TCU Athletics Media Relations

Small School Top 10

By JOSH BUCHANAN - SMALL SCHOOL INSIDER

1. James Madison Dukes 7-1 (1)

Another thrilling victory, this one over a solid Villanova squad, shows why the Dukes are the #1 team in the country.

2. Appalachian St. Mountaineers 6-2 (3)

They can thank turnovers from Furman for their win. They must tighten their run defense before Wofford comes into Boone on Friday (ESPN2).

3. Wofford Terriers 6-1 (4)

Wofford could easily be #2 in the country after a convincing win over Elon.

4. Villanova Wildcats 5-2 (2)
A close loss to JMU proves that Villanova is for real and belongs in the top 10. Don’t be surprised if they run the table.

5. Richmond Spiders 6-3 (5)

A shutout win over Georgetown was impressive but now they face the reality that they must win out in a tough CAA to have a shot at the playoffs

6. Weber State 7-2 (NR)

Weber is perhaps the most underrated team in the nation, according to the polls. They drilled NAU this past weekend.

7. Montana Grizzlies 7-1 (7)
The Grizzlies routed Northern Colorado last weekend. They will face NAU in a key Big Sky tilt this Saturday.

8. Cal-Poly Mustangs 5-1 (8)
Ramses Barden was…well…Ramses Barden last weekend. The quarterback play has stepped up and now gives the ‘Stangs a stellar passing attack.

9. Elon Phoenix 7-2 (6)

Despite being throttled by Wofford, they have a passing attack that can’t be overlooked.

10. Central Arkansas Bears 7-1 (10)

Quarterback Nathan Brown (21-1 ratio) and defensive end Larry Hart (17 TFL, 12 sacks) have been key all year long and were instrumental in a close win over SE Louisiana last weekend.

Photo Credit: ASU Sports Information/Keith Cline

GEORGIA'S GAMBLE IS BRONKO NAGURSKI PLAYER OF THE WEEK


DALLAS (FWAA) - Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble has been named the FWAA/Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week for games of the weekend of Oct. 25.

Gamble, a 6-2, 237-pound sophomore from Bainbridge, Ga., tied a Southeastern Conference record when he returned two interceptions for touchdowns in Georgia's 52-38 victory at LSU.

Gamble, who also had a career-high 13 tackles, had 93 yards in returns on the interceptions. His first pick was on the game's first play from of scrimmage and gave the Bulldog's a 7-0 lead with 14:40 left in the first quarter.

Gamble will be added to the 2008 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy will be presented to the best defensive player in college football on Dec. 7 by the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. Five finalists for the Nagurski Trophy will be announced on Nov. 17.

Each week during the 2008 season the FWAA All-America Committee will select a national defensive player of the week from nominations made by the 11 Division I Bowl Subdivision Conferences and major independents.

Last season, LSU tackle Glenn Dorsey won the coveted Bronko Nagurski Trophy during the 13th season the FWAA has named a national defensive player of the year.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club's activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com.

The O'Brien takes Fan Vote campaign on-the-road


FORT WORTH, Texas (October 28, 2008) - Beginning Saturday, November 1, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® (The O'Brien) will launch an on-the-road campaign visiting its 13 Semifinalists' campuses. In conjunction with the online Fan Vote, The O'Brien on-the-road campaign will visit a home game for each of the Semifinalists over the next four weekends promoting each quarterback for the award. College football enthusiasts and fans alike are encouraged to vote at The O'Brien display for their favorite Semifinalist. Fans who vote will also be entered into the "Defend Your Pride. Vote The O'Brien Sweepstakes," for a chance to win a trip to the 2009 O'Brien Awards Dinner. The display will open prior to kickoff and continue through the first half of each game.

The O'Brien on-the-road tour will collect votes throughout the Semifinalist period until Finalists are announced November 24. Finalists will be selected by The O'Brien Selection Committee, comprised of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners, with 5% of the overall voting tally coming directly from the Fan Vote. Fans who are not able to cast a vote in person are encouraged to register and vote at www.VoteOBrien.org.

November 1 (Week 10 Visits)

Listing is alphabetical by player's last name.

* Graham Harrell
Texas at Texas Tech: Saturday, November 1

* Zac Robinson
Iowa State at Oklahoma State: Saturday, November 1

* Tim Tebow & Matthew Stafford (in Jacksonville*)
Florida vs. Georgia: Saturday, November 1

* This game, since held at a neutral site, will feature two displays, one for each Semifinalist.

About The O'Brien Fan Vote
Fans can now register and vote for The O'Brien Fan Vote online at www.VoteOBrien.org to show their support for their favorite Semifinalist. The Fan Vote will count as 5% in determining the Finalists and Winner. The 2008 Winner will be announced during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show airing December 11 on ESPN. The recipient will be honored February 16, 2009, at the 32nd Annual Davey O'Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Fans can download an interactive "widget" featuring a voting link and the ability to post and share on Web sites, social networks and blogs by clicking here.

Fans can also show their support by adding The O'Brien Facebook application to their Facebook Profile. The new application can be found by searching O'Brien Fan Vote and clicking the applications tab or by clicking here.

About The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award®
The O'Brien honors the nation's best college quarterback of the year and inspires student-athletes to triumph both on and off the field. By recognizing and honoring athletes who excel in both sports and academics while exhibiting strong character and leadership, The O'Brien aims to help instill a lifelong moral fiber in each candidate. The O'Brien is overseen by the Davey O'Brien Foundation, which was founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The Foundation has given away more than $750,000 in scholarships and university grants to help high school and college athletes transform leadership on the field into leadership in life. For more information, visit www.DaveyOBrien.org.

WEEKLY WALTER PAYTON WATCH

By JOSH BUCHANAN - SMALL SCHOOL INSIDER

THE TOP 5


1. QB CAMERON HIGGINS, WEBER STATE, SOPH.
Stats- 202 comp, 292 att, 2885 yards, 29 TDs, 7 INT, 180.15 pass eff., 69.2%, 320.6 yards per game, 34 carries, -78 yards, -2.3avg, 1 TD in 9 games.

2. QB ARMANTI EDWARDS, APPALACHIAN STATE, JR.
Stats- 103 comp, 174 att, 1456, 15 TDs, 2 INT, 59.2%, 155.6 pass eff., 182.0 yards per game, 131 carries, 561 yards, 4.3avg, 8 TDs in 8 games.

3. WR RAMSES BARDEN, CAL POLY, SR.
Stats- 42 catches, 883 yards, 10 TDs, 21.0avg, 147.2 yards per game in 6 games.

4. RB HERB DONALDSON, WESTERN ILLINOIS, SR.
Stats- 192 carries, 1091 yards, 5.7ypg, 16 TDs, 155.9 yards per game, 10 catches, 72 yards, 7.2avg, 1 TD in 7 games.

5. QB NATHAN BROWN, CENTRAL ARKANSAS, SR.
Stats- 162 comp, 229 att, 2046 yards, 21 TDs, 1 INT, 70.7%, 175.18 pass eff., 255.0 yards per game, 45 carries, 87 yards, 1.9avg in 8 games.

THE BEST OF THE REST

QB COLE BERGQUIST, MONTANA, SR.

Stats- 124 comp, 188 att, 1929 yards, 19 TDs, 4 INT, 66.0%, 181.24 pass eff., 241.1 yards per game, 81 carries, 113 yards, 1.4avg, 4 TDs in 8 games.

QB RHETT BOMAR, SAM HOUSTON STATE, SR.

Stats- 132 comp, 230 att, 1790 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INT, 57.4%, 141.94 pass eff., 298.3 yards per game, 44 carries, 122 yards, 2.8avg, 3 TDs in 6 games.

QB LIAM COEN, UMASS, SR.

Stats- 141 comp, 225 att, 2018 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INT, 156.14 pass eff., 62.7%, 252.2 yards per game, 24 carries, -7 yards, -0.3avg, 2 TDs in 8 games.

WR TERRELL HUDGINS, ELON, JR.

Stats- 69 catches, 923 yards, 8 TDs, 13.4avg, 102.6 yards per game in 9 games.

RB RASHAD JENNINGS, LIBERTY, SR.

Stats- 171 carries, 1000 yards, 5.8avg, 11 TDs, 142.9 yards per game, 18 catches, 109 yards, 6.1avg, 2 TDs in 7 games.

QB RODNEY LANDERS, JAMES MADISON, SR.

Stats- 60 comp, 95 att, 876 yards, 11 TDs, 3 INT, 172.51 pass eff., 63.2%, 109.5 yards per game, 146 carries, 930 yards, 8 TDs, 6.4avg in 8 games.

QB CHRIS PIZZOTTI, HARVARD, SR.

Stats- 128 comp, 206 att, 1751 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INT, 146.64 pass eff., 62.1%, 291.8 yards per game, 32 carries, 40 yards, 1.2ypg, 2 TDs in 5 games.

QB DOMINIC RANDOLPH, HOLY CROSS, SR.

Stats- 223 comp, 336 att, 2295 yards, 19 TDs, 10 INT, 136.45 pass eff., 66.4%, 44 carries, 57 yards, 1.3avg, 4 TDs in 7 games.

WR ANDRE ROBERTS, THE CITADEL, JR.

Stats- 58 catches, 797 yards, 13.7avg, 10 TDs, 99.6 yards per game, 4 carries, 19 yards, 4.8avg, 17 PR, 342 yards, 20.1avg, 2 TDs, 64 long, 2 TT in 8 games.

RB JORDAN SCOTT, COLGATE, SR.

Stats- 170 carries, 971 yards, 5.7avg, 11 TDs, 161.8 yards per game, 3 catches, 23 yards, 7.7ypg in 6 games.

RB DAVID SINISI, MONMOUTH, JR.

Stats- 207 carries, 1295 yards, 6.3avg, 17 TDs, 161.0 yards per game, 9 catches, 77 yards, 8.6avg in 8 games.

Photo Credit: Casey Fotografiks (Weber St.)

WEEKLY BUCK BUCHANAN BATTLE

By JOSH BUCHANAN - SMALL SCHOOL INSIDER

THE TOP 5


1. DE GREG PEACH, EASTERN WASHINGTON, SR.
Stats- 43 TT, 16 TFL, 14 SCK, 1 PBU, 1 QBH in 7 games.

2. LB JASON WILLIAMS, WESTERN ILLINOIS, SR.
Stats- 45 TT, 10 TFL, 4 SCK, 4 PBU, 2 QBH, 3 FF in 7 games.

3. DE GREG MILLER, VILLANOVA, SR.
Stats- 36 TT, 12.5 TFL, 5.5 SCK, 2 FF in 7 games.

4. LB ANDY SCHANTZ, PORTLAND STATE, SR.
Stats- 66 TT, 9 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PBU, 1 FR, 1 FF in 7 games.

5. DE JOVAN BELCHER, MAINE, SR.
Stats- 70 TT, 8 TFL, 4 SCK, 1 PBU, 1 FR, 2 FF in 8 games.

THE BEST OF THE REST

LB BOBBY ABARE, YALE, SR.

Stats- 56 TT, 5.5 TFL, 2 SCK, 3 INT/returned one for TD, 1 PBU, 1 FR for TD in 6 games.

DT JOHN FALETOESE, UC DAVIS, SR.

Stats- 19 TT, 5.5 TFL, 4.5 SCK, 2 PBU, 1 QBH, 4 BLK in 9 games.

CB K.J. GERARD, NORTHERN ARIZONA, SR.

Stats- 30 TT, 4 TFL, 1 SCK, 5 INT, 7 PBU, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick in 8 games.

DE LARRY HART, CENTRAL ARKANSAS, JR.

Stats- 29 TT, 17 TFL, 12 SCK, 2 PBU, 1 FF in 8 games.

S MARCUS HAYWOOD, JAMES MADISON, SR.

Stats- 66 TT, 3.5 TFL, 4 INT, 4 PBU, FF in 8 games.

DE TIM KNICKY, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN, JR.

Stats- 47 TT, 15.5 TFL, 10 SCK, 1 PBU, 1FR, 4 FF in 8 games.

LB CYRUS MULITALO, SACRAMENTO STATE, SR.

Stats- 66 TT, 5 TFL, 1 SCK, 1 INT, 4 PBU in 8 games.

LB ANDY ROMANS, LAFAYETTE, SR.

Stats- 66 TT, 4 TFL, 1.5 SCK, 3 PBU, 4 QBH, 1 FR, 1 BLK in 7 games.

DE ADRIAN TRACY, WILLIAM & MARY, JR.

Stats- 43 TT, 12.5 TFL, 7 SCK, 1 PBU, 6 QBH, 1 BLK in 7 games.

S LARDARIUS WEBB, NICHOLLS STATE, SR.

Stats- 24 TT, 1 TFL, 1 SCK, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 FR for TD, 1 FF, 5 PR, 140 yards, 28.0avg, 1 TD, 75 long, 12 KR, 406 yards, 33.8avg, 1 TD, 78 long in 5 games.

LB NATHAN WILLIAMS, MURRAY STATE, SR.

Stats- 120 TT, 10 TFL, 5.5 SCK, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 1 QBH, 2 FR, 1 FF in 8 games.

Photo Credit: Eastern Washington Sports Information

Big Ten Injury Update

Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum will miss the remainder of the 2008 football season after undergoing surgery on the fractured left fibula he suffered against Illinois on Saturday. Beckum underwent surgery on Saturday evening.

Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton will miss the remainder of the 2008 football season after undergoing surgery on the wrist he injured in Northwestern's loss at Indiana Saturday afternoon.

AS NEWS: 2009 Senior Bowl Update

The 2009 "Under Armour" Senior Bowl (www.seniorbowl.com) will be played at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium in downtown Mobile, Alabama on Saturday, January 24th, 2009 with a newly designed 6pm start time. It is the first time in the 60-year history of the game that kickoff will take place under the lights. The NFL Network will begin "Live" coverage of the week's events on Monday, January 19th with the first practices set to take place between 2:45pm and 4:15pm.

“The 6pm kickoff will offer our more than 40,000 fans the opportunity to enjoy all aspects of Senior Bowl game day,” Senior Bowl Public Relations Director Kevin McDermond said. “Having our first ever night time kickoff will also create a day-long buildup to the game, further adding to the excitement surrounding this unique event.”

Last year's game was won by the South 17-16 for the first time in three years, and featured Tulane running back Matt Forte (Chicago), currently the NFL's leading rusher, being named the Game's Overall MVP.

Senior Bowl officials also announced that tickets for the 2009 game are currently available for purchase both online at www.seniorbowl.com and by calling the Senior Bowl ticket office at either (888) 736-2695 or (251) 432-4109.

Initial invitees are expected to be announced in early January 2009 and once the NFL will provide two full coaching staffs to lead the North and South rosters. Players, coaches, NFL personnel, as well as tons of local and nation media and countless sports agents, trainers and financial advisors will make their way to Mobile, Alabama starting on the afternoon of Saturday, January 18th.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as www.nfldraftbible.com provides "Exclusive" access to the games rosters, coach staff and then practice and game reports "Live" from Mobile, Alabama.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Tulane)

AS NEWS: 2008 East Coast Bowl Update

The eighth annual East Coast Bowl is scheduled to be played Saturday, November 29th at Cameron Field in Petersburg, Virginia. Players, scouts and coaches will arrive on Wednesday, November 25th with an NFL workout scheduled for Thursday, two practices on Friday and the game on Saturday afternoon.

Thus far over 30 of the top-rated prospects from Division I-AA, II, III and NAIA have received initial invites to the game. According to a game source, Holy Cross senior quarterback Dominic Randolph is one of the top players to have received and accepted his invitation.

Over the past seven years over 20 alumni from the game have signed NFL contracts and nearly 100 players have signed professional football contracts at some level, including CFL, AFL, AF2 and other indoor leagues.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as www.nfldraftbible.com provides "Exclusive" access to the games rosters, coach staff and then practice and game reports "Live" from Petersburg, VA.