Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pac-10 Preview - Week Fourteen

By ANDREW GARDA - PAC-10 INSIDER

#24 Oregon at #16 Oregon State


The Civil War is rejoined for the 112th time, as the two rivals clash in Corvallis with a ton on the line. Regardless of circumstance both teams play for pride, but for the Oregon State Beavers there is more at stake than that – the Pac-10 Conference. It would be OSU’s first Rose Bowl appearance in 44 years.

The Beavers had a rough start to the season, dropping their first two contests, including a drubbing to their would be Rose Bowl opponent Penn State. But the team turned it around and has been on a tear. Much of their success has been due to the spectacular play of freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who will not be available for this game. It will be a challenge to overcome his loss. His older brother, wide receiver James, was able to step in as a replacement tailback last week to the tune of 102 yards and a touchdown. Handing him the ball should be quarterback Lyle Moevao, who missed last week with a shoulder injury. James Rodgers was key in last season’s double overtime victory at Oregon.

The Ducks’ offense isn’t too shabby, with their two-headed backfield of Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount Oregon. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is coming off of the best game of his career, a 298-yard, two-touchdown performance versus the Arizona Wildcats.

Either offense is capable of putting up some points and it will be up to the defenses to step up. The team that is able to make plays on defense side of the ball will likely be on the winning side of this battle.

Notre Dame @ #5 USC

Once upon a time, this was one of THE biggest rivalries in college football. This is the 80th meeting between the two teams and while a long list of critical, hard-fought and exciting games can be compiled with Notre Dame struggling so badly and USC’s recent domination – the game has certainly lost some of its luster. Charlie Weiss’ team has had a rough season coming off a horrid loss to Syracuse at home last week.

Mark Sanchez, who threw for four touchdowns in last year’s meeting, is healthy and playing solid ball. The run game has been firing on all cylinders again, led by Stafon Johnson (115 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week). With USC it’s just as likely that CJ Gable or one of the other backs in the stable might break free for a big game.

USC’s defense is dominant – arguably the best in college football. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who has played well for stretches this season, will need to be mistake-free again against a USC defense that excels at bringing heat and forcing turnovers. Only able to muster 41 yards on the ground against the Orange, the Irish will struggle to have a balanced offense against USC.

Washington State @ Hawaii

With two wins under their belt, the Cougars can at least take solace in the fact that they end their season in the gorgeous state of Hawaii. Coming off a tight win over in-state rival Washington, could Washington State forge a short win streak to finish out their otherwise miserable season.

Junior quarterback Kevin Lopina has yet to throw a touchdown, but has no problem finding members of opposing teams (11 interceptions). He has to take care of the ball better and find a way to get it to talented receivers Brandon Gibson and Jeshua Anderson.

Hawaii quarterback Inoke Funaki has had a rough season himself, taking over for Colt Brennan with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 6-12. While Wazzu doesn’t have much to play for, a seventh win for Hawaii could have bowl implications.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee (USC)

Player Anatomy: RB James Davis, Clemson

By MATT MILLER

Character/Leadership Ability:
Davis returned to Clemson for his senior season after nearly entering the 2008 NFL draft. He’s a team player, who does not mind sharing carries, which has hurt his individual numbers. He has also stayed out of trouble off the field.

Competitive Nature/Work Ethic: He works hard on his game and gets along great with his teammates. Typically, Davis is always the first one to congratulate another player on a big play. He will be a four-year letter winner when his career at Clemson is over.

Football Intelligence: The senior understands the game very well and uses his knowledge of the game to better himself on the field and get the most out of his abilities. He understands pass blocking very well, something many college backs cannot say.

Size: Davis has a compact and powerful build. He has worked on bulking up both his upper and lower body.

Athletic Ability: The Atlanta native is a good natural athlete, who is smooth in his movements with the ball in his hands. Davis shows good burst while not having great top-end speed.

Toughness/Durability: He hasn’t had major injury concerns in his college career. He is a very durable and tough runner, although he is rarely asked to carry the load because of sharing carries.

Ball Protection: Davis secures the ball well upon contact, with powerful arms that allow him to prevent the ball from being stripped.

Elusiveness/Feet: Cuts very well and has good agility. Davis will never be confused for a scat back, but he does have the ability to make a defender miss thanks to his stellar body control.

Pass Catching: A glaring weakness in Davis' game is his ability as a pass catcher or lack thereof. He does not run routes well and looks stiff at times when doing so. He uses his body to catch the ball too often.

Pass Blocking: A very good and intelligent pass blocker, Davis does an excellent job reading the blitz and always knows his assignment.

Power: Has very good power in one-on-one situations. He can bowl over a single defender with ease, but has shown some trouble with pushing the pile this season. The senior could be very effective in short yardage situations if he better utilizes his powerful leg drive.

Speed: Davis does not possess top-end, straight-line speed, which limits his ability to hit the home run ball. He shows excellent quickness in his first few steps and has a great burst at the line.

Vision: Davis' vision is his best asset. He recognizes holes quickly and hits them fast. At times this season he has been hesitant at the line of scrimmage when there is no obvious hole. He should use his power and jam into the pile more often rather than waiting for a hole to open.

Davis enters his final home game as a Tiger looking for his first 100-yard game in two months. The senior’s 1,000-yard season streak will stop at two, but he still leads Clemson with 634 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. The Tigers play host to in-state rival South Carolina Saturday at 12:00 on ESPN2.


Photo Credit: Collegiate Images

Senior Spotlight: Rivalry Week

GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS @ GEORGIA BULLDOGS

NOVEMBER 29 - 12:00 ON CBS

LB Dannell Ellerbe, Georgia


An excellent athlete, Ellerbe has exceptional speed and a solid frame. He was very productive last season, leading the Georgia Bulldogs in tackles with 93 stops, but has been slowed down by a sprained MCL injury, which has caused him to miss three full games this season and parts of others. When healthy, this Dawg excels at penetrating the line of scrimmage – a force against both the run and the pass, while possessing the ability to drop into coverage as well. Ellerbe has that special closing speed when he can smell a tackle. He is also versatile, having started at the MIKE, WILL and SAM linebacker positions for the Bulldogs. Ellerbe is a bit undersized and at times has trouble when asked to take on offensive linemen. When his defensive tackles protect him, Ellerbe is able to roam free, using his speed and athleticism. He has served as a good teammate encouraging Darryl Gamble, who stepped into the starting lineup. Expect Ellerbe to try and close out his career with a big showing, coming off a four-tackle performance at Auburn.
2008: 22 Tackles, Four Tackles For a Loss, One Sack

DE Michael Johnson, Georgia Tech


Johnson is a pass rushing specialist with all the tools—size, speed, acceleration and agility—to be a dominant player. Johnson is a player whose potential has drawn comparisons to former ACC studs Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. Johnson has not been as productive as many have expected (6.5 sacks), but may be developing into a better every-down lineman than originally thought of (13 tackles for a loss). His athleticism, particularly for a man of his length, is what sets him apart from other top defensive linemen. His long arms allow him to keep offensive linemen from getting into his body and overpowering him. When he doesn’t get to the quarterback, the senior uses his length to knock down passes (seven passes defended). Johnson can also be a difference-maker on special teams using his wingspan as a kick-blocking specialist (one this season). Last week, he put it all on display when he snagged a Miami pass and returned it for a touchdown. Johnson has taken time to develop, but his talent is hard to ignore. He is a disruptive force, as he is not only able to rush the quarterback, but create turnovers (five forced fumbles as a junior and a senior).
2008: 36 Tackles, 13 Tackles For a Loss, Six Sacks

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media

This Date in College Football History

Nov 29, 1958: Auburn wins its 24th straight game as the No. 2 Tigers avoid an upset by defeating their rival Alabama 14-8. Trailing in the fourth quarter, Crimson Tide quarterback Bobby Jackson leads team down to Auburn's 28-yard line with 1:26 left, but Tiger halfback Lamar Rawson deflects Jackson's pass at the goal line to secure the win.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pac 10 Preview: UCLA @ Arizona St.

By ANDREW GARDA - PAC-10 INSIDER

Coming off a pair of wins against the Washington schools, the Sun Devils look to continue their winning streak, as they welcome the struggling UCLA Bruins to Tempe tonight.

ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter has started playing to form again, topping 200 yards in each of the last three games, while tossing six touchdowns. He faces a Bruins’ defense that likely won’t put up much of a fight. Carpenter has much to play for at the end of the season, even if his team will be sitting home during bowl season. With a respectable showing at the finish, Carpenter is hoping to regain some of the NFL draft stock he had prior to the season. As always, the key is protection along the offensive line. If they can keep Carpenter upright, he will be able to easily deliver the ball against a shaky UCLA secondary. While they can be opportunistic, the Bruins rarely keep up enough pressure to make a quarterback the caliber of Carpenter flinch.

Coach Rick Neuheisel will have his work cut out for him, both containing Carpenter and getting his own offense moving in the right direction. The Bruins are also coming off a win over the doormat of the Pac-10, Washington. However, even against the winless Huskies, junior quarterback Kevin Craft could not protect the ball. The Bruins cannot afford to turn the ball over. If they do, the Sun Devils will make them regret it.

Game of the Week: #2 Oklahoma @ #9 Oklahoma St.

OKLAHOMA ENTERS SATURDAY’S game with a five-game winning streak in the Bedlam Series and a 79-16-7 edge overall, including a 34-6-5 advantage in Stillwater. However, this one is not expected to be a day at the beach for the Sooners (10-1, 6-1), as they take on one of the most talented Cowboy (9-2, 5-2) teams in quite some time.

When the Pokes Have the Ball

OKLAHOMA ST. POSSESSES one of the most balanced offenses in all of college football and many believe they can pose even more problems for Oklahoma than the Red Raiders. Leading the way are the “four aces” – Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant and Brandon Pettigrew. Robinson is among the top duel threat quarter-backs, equally adept at running and throwing the football. When he does let it loose, his favorite target has been Bryant, who has 80 receptions (16 touchdowns) for a Big 12 best 1,222 yards. Adding a new dimension since his return has been Pettigrew, a terrific two-way tight end. Despite a plethora of weapons through the air, the Cowboys do most of their damage on the ground led by the Big 12’s leading rusher Hunter (1,434 yards). The offensive line is experienced with two seniors and three juniors in the starting lineup.

THE SOONERS’ DEFENSE is coming off their top performance of the season. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads the line with his disruptive play. The sophomore stud commands a double team, if not, he will make you pay. On the outside is Jeremy Beal, who has been OU’s top pass rusher this season. Not many teams can rival the speed the Sooners possess at the linebacker position with former safeties Travis Lewis and Keenan Clayton manning the outside. They flank freshman MIKE Austin Box, who is coming off his best game. Leading the secondary is hard hitting strong safety Nic Harris.

When Boomer Sooner Has the Ball

NO ONE IS putting up better numbers than Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford. He leads the Big 12 with his 42 touchdown passes and can attack quickly or methodically. When given time he dissects defenses like a finely skilled surgeon. Bradford has almost an embarrassment of riches surrounding him beginning with dynamic sophomore tailback DeMarco Murray, who finally appears to be 100 percent healthy. The Las Vegas native is a far different player than he was earlier in the season. Complementing Murray is Chris Brown, one of the nation’s top between-the-tackles backs with the requisite toughness and vision. The duo has combined for 28 touchdowns and each has rumbled for over 100 yards in three of their last four games. The man who creates the most mismatches is junior tight end Jermaine Gresham, who is far too big for defensive backs to handle, while possessing the athleticism and speed to run away from linebackers with ease. Bradford’s favorite target this season has been senior Juaquin Iglesias, a sure-handed receiver, who excels after the catch. It all begins upfront behind the blocking of guard Duke Robinson, and tackle Phil Loadholt.

THE POKES’ DEFENSE will be put to the test on Saturday. The rush defense has been solid all year, thanks to a talented linebacking corps. Andre Sexton and Orie Lemon are one and two in tackles on the team and will look to make their presence felt on Saturday. The biggest cause for concern is their inability to put pressure on the quarterback – their 13 sacks are the fewest of any Big 12 school. That puts extra pressure on corners Jacob Lacey and Perrish Cox, something they didn’t handled well against Texas Tech.

Final Analysis


THE WAY OKLAHOMA performed against the Red Raiders last week makes it’s hard to imagine them losing in Stillwater. Their defense is finally coming together and the offense appears to get better on a weekly basis. Expect Boomer Sooner to continue their roll and make a case for being the number one team in the Big 12 South.

Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma St. 24

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department

Between the Hashes - Inventing the Mess

THE BIGGEST MESS the BCS has made are some of the notions coming out of the sports media. Names have been redacted to protect the innocent.

“IF THERE WAS A PLAYOFF SYSTEM SET UP, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION.”

THE DISCUSSION THEY wouldn’t be having is which team – Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech – deserves to win the Big 12 South and represent the divison in the Big 12 Championship game. Of all criticisms of the BCS, this is the farthest stretch. Each conference decides their own tiebreaker. People need to begin to accept that all too often there is no objective way to decipher and rank teams in the word of college football – there are no standings.

The implication was that both Oklahoma and Texas would make an eight-team playoff and there would be no need for discussion. But, who decided that Texas Tech doesn’t deserve to be in the same discussion? Which leads us to...

“TEXAS TECH DOESN’T BELONG. YOU CAN SEE IT.”


REALLY? YOU CAN see it? I guess not every college football writer received their full proof know-which-is-the-best-team glasses. I wonder how many people saw the New York Giants were the best team in the National Football League last season? You know, the league that has a playoff. Is that


how they decided who makes the playoffs in the NFL?

Presumably, the call for a playoff is one for objectivity not subjectivity. Let them decide it on the field many cry! Well on the field all three teams – Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech – have the same overall record, the same conference record and the same head-to-head record. No matter what you think you saw.

While we’re at it, let’s take a look at how the humans have done rankings these teams:

On October 11th No. 5 Texas defeated No. 1 Oklahoma. On November 1st No. 7 Texas Tech defeated No. 1 Texas. On November 22nd No. 5 Oklahoma defeated No. 2 Texas Tech. With that track record – 0-for-3 – maybe it is time for the computers to pinch hit for the pollsters in this crucial late-inning at-bat.

TEXAS TECH IS A “ONE TRICK PONEY”, “HOT TEAM”, “TRENDY TEAM” (TAKE YOUR PICK)

HELLO! TEXAS TECH was 10-0 before they lost to Oklahoma on Saturday. Yes, they were utterly dominated, but does that erase 10 weeks of resume building? They did beat No. 1 Texas, didn’t they? Yes, it was at home and by a close margin, but the Longhorns didn’t blowout the Sooners (45-35) or Oklahoma St. (28-24), who by the way, Tech handled 56-20. Moreover, Texas has only left the state only twice all season long, so lets not make them out

to be road warriors if that is suddenly a criterion. Their best road win is at Kansas 35-7. The Red Raiders went into Lawrence and won 63-21.

“A PLAYOFF WOULD TAKE CARE OF IT”

TAKE CARE OF what exactly? Most playoff proponents are in favor of an eight-team playoff. After six automatic bids (which could include Oregon St., Cincinnati and Virginia Tech), there are two at-large bids remaining. You try picking between a one-loss USC, two one-loss Big 12 schools, and the SEC Championship game loser. Better yet, you go tell the 11-1 Trojans or the 12-1 Crimson Tide they don’t belong in an eight-team playoff. How about undefeated Utah and Ball St. (possibly Boise St. as well)? Isn’t the college basketball argument that it gives the “little guys” a chance, so they would need to be included as well, wouldn’t they?

“IT’S BETTER TO LEAVE OUT NO. 9 THAN NO. 3.”

HOGWASH! BY NOW we’ve established we don’t know who really is No. 3 or No. 9. Can anyone say with a straight face they believe USC, Alabama, Oklahoma or Texas is the ninth best team in the country? One should at least believe in their own argument.

Mind you, this is not a position that the BCS is the solution, but let’s not pretend a playoff is a panacea either.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Texas, Texas Tech)

Heisman Watch

The round robin between Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford is finally complete, but are we any closer to finding a winner, with closing time upon us? Like separating their respective teams, differentiating the three quarterbacks requires a yoda-esque wisdom. Bradford leads the Big 12 in touchdown passes with 42 and pass efficiency (193.8), Harrell leads in yards with 4,438, while McCoy is completing a record setting 77.2 percent of his passes.

Sam Bradford
led the Sooners to a 65-21 thrashing of the Red Raiders, completing 14-of-19 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns. It was the Oklahoma City native’s third straight game with at least four touchdowns and more than 300 yards, earning him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors. Bradford was brilliant, displaying his accuracy, soft touch, powerful arm and deep touch – making him the most complete passer in the nation. The only thing lacking in his resume is a “Heisman moment”.

AHEAD: at Oklahoma St. (Nov. 29). Bradford gets the national stage once again this week when the Sooners make the trip to Stillwater. Not only can he help vault Oklahoma into the Big 12 Championship game, the sophomore signal caller can take a step closer to adding a special piece of hardware to his mantel.

Colt McCoy, who has completed over 70 percent of his passes in nine of eleven games this season, was off last week. Harrell came back to him in the Heisman race, but Bradford may have passed the Texas quarterback in the eyes of many voters. Like the fate of his ‘Horns, McCoy is at the mercy of others…a potential Big 12 Championship game appearance could change all that.

AHEAD: vs. Texas A & M (Nov. 28). While you’re going for seconds (or thirds) on Thanksgiving night, McCoy will look to put his best foot forward against the ‘Horns’ in-state rival. Texas will do their best to put on a show, but how much will voters be impressed by an onslaught of the lowly Aggies?

Graham Harrell threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns in Norman, but most of the numbers were put up after the game was over. Harrell struggled when the game was on the line, the first time he was faced with consistent defensive pressure this season.

AHEAD: vs. Baylor (Nov. 29). There is not much Harrell can do this week to impress voters.

Michael Crabtree does not have a legitimate chance at the prize, but could very well be the best player in the country. His touchdown streak was halted in Norman, the first time the sophomore was kept out of the end zone all season.

AHEAD: vs. Baylor (Nov. 29). With 18 scores, Crabtree needs two more to reach the hallowed 20 touchdown mark.

Shonn Greene set the Iowa record for rushing yards in a season with his 144-yard performance, upping his season total to 1,729 yards. The powerful runner has run for over 100 yards in all 12 games this season and crossed the goal line 17 times.

AHEAD: Regular season complete.

Heisman Watch Prediction

1. Graham Harrell
2. Sam Bradford
3. Colt McCoy
4. Michael Crabtree
5. Shonn Greene
6. Tim Tebow

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department

Fan's Weekend Guide - Week Fourteen

The Conference Title is on the Line When…
Oregon @ Oregon St. (November 29, 7:00, Versus):
Coming into this game, the Beavers have rolled off six straight wins, keeping control of their Pac-10 destiny via their upset win over the Trojans back on September 15th. Their lone conference loss came in the final seconds at Stanford in the season opener; otherwise they would have a trip to Pasadena already locked up. A seventh straight victory would match their winning streak from 2000, which also happens to be the last time the Beavers made a BCS game (41-9 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl). However, OSU has not played in the Rose Bowl since 1965. Standing in their way are the hated Ducks, as Oregon makes the trip to Corvallis to play the 112th rendition of the Northwest’s version of the “Civil War”. The Beavers are banged up with both Lyle Moevao (who didn’t play last week) and Jacquizz Rogers (left last week’s game) nursing injuries. They overcame it last week at Arizona, but the Beavers would be best served with Moevao (1,967 yards, 14 touchdowns, 61.9 percent) and his 10-3 record as a starter handing off to their freshman phenom (1,253 yards, 11 touchdowns). Rogers is listed as doubtful. Oregon is led by sophomore signal caller Jason Masoli, who is coming off the best game of his young career (298 yards and two touchdowns passing; 89 yards and three touchdowns rushing). Joining Masoli in one of the Pac-10’s most talented backfields are tailbacks Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. A senior, Johnson leads the club with 863 yards (11 touchdowns), while the junior college transfer Blount has found the end zone a team-high 15 times (816 yards), while boasting a whopping 7.2 yards per carry average. There is no shortage of artillery in this “Civil War”.

Don’t Call it an Upset When…
LSU Visits Arkansas (November 28, 2:30, CBS):
With the type of quarterback (17 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions) play the Bayou Bengals have been getting, it is hard to say they are supposed to beat anybody at this point in the season, particularly in SEC play. LSU has lost their last three conference games.

The Team That Can’t Afford to Look Ahead is…
Florida Visiting Florida St. (November 29):
Not many teams have something to look ahead to beyond this week, so we’ll go with the Gators. Florida is already slotted into the SEC Championship game against Alabama next week, a virtual national semi-final. They have also dominated the Seminoles of late, winning four straight including a 45-12 thumping last season. Florida St. does possess a speedy defense that may have enough athletes to slow the Gators down, as much as any team can.

The Teams on the Cusp are…
Boston College Hosting Maryland (November 29, 3:30, ABC)/Virginia Tech Hosting Virginia (November 29, 12:00, ESPN):
Finally, the ACC is easy to figure out…it’s win and they’re in.

Photo Credit: College Press Box

Senior Spotlight: LB Scott McKillop, Pitt

McKillop was a reserve his first two seasons behind H.B. Blades before seizing the starting role as a junior. The unanimous All-Big East selection proved to be productive, finishing with 151 total tackles – the third highest single-season total in Pitt history – in just his first season as a starter as the MIKE linebacker. McKillop has continued his stellar pace amassing 106 tackles this season, including 14.5 tackles for a loss, four of which were sacks. The former high school wrestler brings toughness and intensity with him every time he steps on the gridiron.


PITTSBURGH HOSTS WEST VIRGINIA THIS FRIDAY – 12:00 PM ON ABC

A Football Fan’s Four-Pack…

West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (November 28, 12:00, ABC): Following last year’s meeting, when the Panthers spoiled the Mountaineers' chance to play in the BCS title game, West Virginia will be looking for revenge against Pitt in the Backyard Brawl. One of the nation’s longest running rivalries, this series dates back to 1895, with the Panthers hold a 60-37-3 advantage. This season, however, West Virginia has the memory of last year and an outside chance at the Big East title to fuel its fire.

Super Senior: Scott McKillop, LB, Pittsburgh

Star of Tomorrow: Noel Devine, RB, WVU

Georgia Tech @ Georgia (November 29, 12:00, CBS):
No. 10 Georgia closes out its regular season against rival No. 20 Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs (9-2, 6-2 in SEC play) are 7-0 against the Yellow Jackets under head coach Mark Richt. Georgia Tech (8-3, 5-3 in ACC play), can still take the ACC Coastal if Virginia Tech loses, but has at least clinched a share of the division title coming off a 41-23 win over No. 23 Miami last week. Jonathan Dwyer, who leads the ACC in rushing, exploded for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone – but sat out the second half with a bruised knee. Georgia has won five of its last six games, and will have had two weeks to prepare for Tech after beating Auburn, 17-13, on Nov. 15th.

Super Senior: Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech

Star of Tomorrow: Rennie Curran, LB, Georgia

Auburn @ Alabama (November 29, 3:30, CBS):
With the stakes being high for both squads, the Tigers and Crimson Tide meet for the 73rd time in the Iron Bowl. Top-ranked Alabama (11-0, 7-0 in SEC play) has the SEC championship game on the horizon, but first must close out the regular season against rival Auburn. The Tigers (5-6, 2-5 in SEC play) travel to Bryant-Denny Stadium in need of a victory against the Tide to become bowl-eligible. Alabama holds a 38-33-1 lead in the series, but Auburn holds a current six-game winning streak. Look for special teams to play a factor, as both teams have three kick returns for touchdowns in 2008.

Super Senior: Rashad Johnson, DB, Alabama

Star of Tomorrow: Craig Stevens, LB, Auburn

Notre Dame @ USC (November 29, 8:00, ABC):
In a battle between schools with two of the more impressive football heritages, Saturday will mark the 80th meeting between Notre Dame and No. 5 USC. The Irish (6-5) are trying to rebound after dropping a heart-breaker to Syracuse, while the Trojans (9-1, 7-1 in Pac-10 play) are still holding out hopes that things break their way in the BCS picture. USC has won six straight in the series. The Trojans have also been nearly flawless at home in recent memory – winning 27 home night games in a row and the last 12 non-conference home games. If Notre dame is able to record the upset, it would be the first victory for the Irish over a top 10 opponent since they beat No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.

Super Senior: Rey Maualuga, USC

Star of Tomorrow: Golden Tate, WR, ND

Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media

LIVE! CFI Radio: THE TAILGATE Show

THE TAILGATE SHOW - FRIDAY NOVEMBER 28, 2008

***Click to Listen to THE TAILGATE Show***


10:00 AM - 12:00 PM EASTERN

Game of the Week:
#2 Oklahoma @ #9 Oklahoma St.

Join College Football Insiders Co-Founder Daniel Mogollon every Friday. Special Guests Auburn CB JERRAUD POWERS, BC WR BRANDON ROBINSON, Syracuse DT ARTHUR JONES, OU alum DARI NOWKHAH of ESPN & BILL HAISTEN of the Tulsa World, who covers Oklahoma St. football.

Photo Credit: Syracuse University Athletics

This Date in College Football History


Nov 29, 1958: Auburn wins its 24th straight game as the No. 2 Tigers avoid an upset by defeating their rival Alabama 14-8. Trailing in the fourth quarter, Crimson Tide quarterback Bobby Jackson leads team down to Auburn's 28-yard line with 1:26 left, but Tiger halfback Lamar Rawson deflects Jackson's pass at the goal line to secure the win.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top 25 - Week Thirteen

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (2)
Record: 11-0 (7-0)
Coaches Poll: 1
Associated Press: 1
Last Week: BYE

The Crimson Tide are the lone undefeated team coming out of the big six conferences, yet despite their No. 1 ranking across the board, Alabama is not getting a whole lot of love from the public.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Auburn; 12/6: vs. Florida


2. Oklahoma Sooners (5)
Record: 10-1 (6-1)
Coaches Poll: 2
Associated Press: 3
Last Week: Won vs. Texas Tech 65-21

It appears Oklahoma has fixed the deficiencies in their pass defense. Offensively, a healthy DeMarco Murray brings a special burst and another dynamic threat with the football.
Up Next: 11/29: @ Oklahoma St.


3. Texas Longhorns (3)
Record: 10-1 (6-1)
Coaches Poll: 4
Associated Press: 4
Last Week: Won @ Kansas 35-7

The ‘Horns were in a no-win situation. They need Oklahoma to win, but did the Sooners have to be so damn impressive? Texas has every right to feel the Big 12 system has not served them.
Up Next: 11/22: BYE; 11/27: vs. Texas A & M

4. Florida Gators (4)
Record: 10-1 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 3
Associated Press: 2
Last Week: Won vs. Citadel 70-19

While 70 points may be 70 points – the Citadel is the Citadel – so no style points for the Gators. Chris Rainey (142 yards) averaged an ungodly 20.3 yards per rush on his seven carries.
Up Next: 11/29: @ Florida St.; 12/6: vs. Alabama

5. Southern Cal Trojans (6)
Record: 9-1 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 5
Associated Press: 5
Last Week: BYE

The Men of Troy are somewhat helpless – paralyzed by their loss to Oregon St. suffered way back in September – as an 11-win season may not be enough to smell the roses.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Notre Dame; 12/6: @ UCLA

6. Texas Tech (1)
Record: 10-1 (6-1)
Coaches Poll: 8
Associated Press: 7
Last Week: Won @ Oklahoma 65-21

The Red Raiders were absolutely blitzed in Norman – were they exposed? No – impressive wins over Texas and Oklahoma St. should not be forgotten. They can still win the Big 12 South.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Baylor

7. Penn St. Nittany Lions (7)
Record: 11-1 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 6
Associated Press: 6
Last Week: Won vs. Michigan St. 49-18

Neither rain, nor snow nor sleet was going to keep the Nittany Lions from clinching the Big Ten Title. One player who was hot despite the weather was quarterback Darryl Clark – he threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

8. Utah Utes (8)
Record: 12-0 (8-0)
Coaches Poll: 7
Associated Press: 8
Last Week: Won vs. BYU 48-24

Brian Johnson proved to be a money player once again, completing an unconscious 30-of-36 passes for 306 yards and four scores on senior day.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

9. Oklahoma St. Cowboys (9)
Record: 9-2 (5-2)
Coaches Poll: 12
Associated Press: 11
Last Week: BYE

It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall watching the Sooners’ onslaught of Texas Tech with Coach Mike Gundy and company.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Oklahoma (Final Game)

10. Georgia Bulldogs (10)
Record: 9-2 (6-2)
Coaches Poll: 13
Associated Press: 13
Last Week: BYE

How grueling is the SEC season? Even energetic Knowshon Moreno was looking forward to a day off to rest up – hard to believe coming from a back who pops up no matter how hard the hit.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Georgia Tech (Final Game)

11. Ohio St. Buckeyes (11)
Record: 9-2 (6-1)
Coaches Poll: 10
Associated Press: 10
Last Week: Won vs. Michigan 42-7

The big play Buckeyes – 59-yard touchdown run by Chris “Beanie” Wells, 53-yard scoring grab by Brian Hartline and a 49-yard touchdown run Daniel “Boom” Herron – overcame a slow start against Michigan.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

12. Missouri Tigers (12)
Record: 9-2 (5-2)
Coaches Poll: 12
Associated Press: 12
Last Week: BYE

Despite the bye, the Tigers had themselves a busy week…unrelated to receiving the Big 12 North Trophy (who knew?), which was delivered to Mizzou by Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe. Headman Gary Pinkel was signed to an extension, ending speculation of his departure.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. KU; 12/6: vs. Big 12 South

13. Boise St. Broncos (13)
Record: 11-0 (7-0)
Coaches Poll: 9
Associated Press: 9
Last Week: Won @ Nevada 41-34

Kellen Moore threw for a career-high 414 yards (three touchdowns), but also saw two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Next: 11/28: Fresno St. (Final Game)

14. TCU Horned Frogs (15)
Record: 10-2 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 14
Associated Press: 14
Last Week: Won vs. Air Force 44-10

The Horned Frogs turned in a dominating performance against Air Force, putting up 30 first downs and 504 yards while holding the Falcons’ triple-option to seven first downs and 161 yards.
Next: Regular Season Complete

15. Ball St. Cardinals (17)
Record: 11-0 (7-0)
Coaches Poll: 15
Associated Press: 15
Last Week: Won @ UCM 31-24

Nate Davis was out-gunned by Dan LeFevour, 345 yards to 175, but the Cardinals’ quarterback found the end zone four times.
Up Next: 11/25: Western Michigan

16. Oregon St. Beavers (19)
Record: 8-3 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 17
Associated Press: 17
Last Week: Won @ Arizona 19-17

Sean Canfield stepped in nicely for Lyle Moevao completing 20-of-32 passes for 224 yards and a score, while James Rogers helped them overcome an injury to Jacquizz with 102 rushing yards.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Oregon (Final Game)

17. Cincinnati Bearcats (20)
Record: 9-2 (5-1)
Coaches Poll: 16
Associated Press: 16
Last Week: Won vs. Pittsburgh 28-21

Pittsburgh made the ‘Cats one-dimensional and Tony Pike was up to the challenge, airing it out for 309 and three scores in the best performance of his career. Brian Kelly is now one win away from a BCS bid.
Up Next: 11/29: vs. Syracuse; 12/6: @ Hawaii

18. Michigan St. Spartans (14)
Record: 9-3 (6-2)
Coaches Poll: 21
Associated Press: 22
Last Week: Lost @ Penn St. 49-18

Overmatched by the Nittany Lions, Michigan St. isn’t happy with their final act, but as a whole it was a very fine season for Head Coach Mark Dantonio in his second year.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

19. Brigham Young Cougars (16)
Record: 10-2 (6-2)
Coaches Poll: 19
Associated Press: 20 (Tied)
Last Week: Lost @ Utah 48-24

Max Hall was intercepted five times by the Utes in Saturday’s “Holy War” loss – making the junior quarterback 43-of-83 with no touchdowns and seven interceptions in the Cougars’ two biggest games of the season (loss at TCU).
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

20. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (24)
Record: 8-3 (5-3)
Coaches Poll: 23
Associated Press: 18
Last Week: Won vs. Miami 41-23

Tech manhandled the ‘Canes to the tune of 472 yards rushing – no that is not a typo – the highest rushing total in 20 years allowed by Miami.
Up Next: 11/29: @ Georgia (Final Game)

21. Boston College Eagles (NR)
Record: 7-3 (3-3)
Coaches Poll: 22
Associated Press: 20 (Tied)
Last Week: Won @ Wake Forest 24-21

The Eagles made it harder on themselves than it had to be courtesy of the two fumbles Wake Forest returned for touchdowns. BC overcame their own gaffes and an injury to Chris Crane.
Up Next: 11/22: NC State; 11/29: @ Duke

22. Pittsburgh Panthers (21)
Record: 7-3 (3-2)
Coaches Poll: NR
Associated Press: NR
Last Week: Lost @ Cincinnati 28-21

Their goal of winning the Big East became a long shot in Cincinnati as they allowed the Bearcats to roll off 28 straight points. Pitt scored 14 points in the final stanza, but it was too little, too late.
Up Next: 11/28: vs. WVU; 12/6 @ UConn

23. West Virginia Mountaineers (NR)
Record: 7-3 (4-1)
Coaches Poll: 25
Associated Press: NR
Last Week: Won @ Louisville 35-21

Pat White is officially the top running quarterback in college football history.
Up Next: 11/28: @ Pittsburgh; 12/6: vs. USF

24. Oregon Ducks (22)
Record: 8-3 (6-2)
Coaches Poll: 18
Associated Press: 19
Last Week: BYE

Would it surprise you if Oregon was rooting for Oregon State last week, so they could be the ones to ruin their rivals’ Rose Bowl chances?
Up Next: 11/29: @ Oregon St. (Final Game)

25. Northwestern Wildcats (NR)
Record: 9-3 (5-3)
Coaches Poll: 20
Associated Press: 24
Last Week: Won vs. Illinois 27-10

The Wildcats take home the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk, a trophy given out since 1947.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

Dropped Out: LSU (18), North Carolina (23), Maryland (25)

Five to Watch: California, Florida St., Iowa Mississippi, South Carolina

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department

BCS Buster Watch - Week Thirteen


1. Utah Utes (1)
Record: 12-0 (8-0)
Coaches Poll: 7
Associated Press: 8
Last Week: Won vs. BYU 48-24

It was a total team effort on the Utes’ part, as the defense chipped in with five interceptions, including two by Joe Dale. Stellar corner Sean Smith picked up interception number five.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete



2. Boise St. Broncos (2)
Record: 11-0 (7-0)
Coaches Poll: 9
Associated Press: 9
Last Week: Won @ Nevada 41-34

The Broncos survived the Nevada scare and are one win away from becoming the third FBS school to complete an undefeated season, although there will be no Tostitos this time.
Next: 11/29: vs. Fresno St. (Final Game)

3. TCU Horned Frogs (3)
Record: 10-2 (7-1)
Coaches Poll: 14
Associated Press: 14
Last Week: Won vs. Air Force 44-10

Headman Gary Patterson turns in his third 10-win season in his last four campaigns, prompting the Horned Frog faithful to chant his name.
Next: Regular Season Complete

4. Ball St. Cardinals (5)
Record: 11-0 (7-0)
Coaches Poll: 15
Associated Press: 15
Last Week: Won @ Central Michigan 31-24

Junior MiQuale Lewis continued to rise to the occasion, turning in a career high 177 yards against the defending MAC champs CMU.
Next: 11/25: Western Michigan

5. BYU Cougars (4)
Record: 10-2 (6-2)
Coaches Poll: 19
Associated Press: 20
Last Week: Lost @ Utah 48-24

The Cougars’ two-year run atop the Mountain West Conference is over, but on a positive note – next year both Utah and TCU come to Salt Lake.
Up Next: Regular Season Complete

Photo Credit: College Press Box (University of Utah)

BCS Buster Players of the Week - Week Thirteen

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

QB Brian Johnson, Utah

He may not have put up the most impressive numbers last week, but Johnson gets the nod for leading his Utes to their 12th win, a Mountain West Conference title and a BCS birth. The numbers weren’t too shabby either – 30-of-36 passing for 303 yards and four touchdowns.

Honorable Mention: Case Keenum, QB, Houston: 41-of-51, 480 yards, three touchdowns

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

DE Larry English, Northern Illinois

English recorded two sacks and forced a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown.

Honorable Mention: Paul Kruger, DE, Utah: six tackles, fumble recovery, interception (two PDs)

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

KR Chris Garrett, Ohio

The Ohio return man returned three kicks for 180 yards, including a 97-yard return for a score.

Honorable Mention: Keith Brown, DB, Louisiana Tech: blocked punt, two tackles

Photo Credit: College Press Box (University of Houston)

Small School Top 10 - Week Thirteen

By JOSH BUCHANAN - SMALL SCHOOL INSIDER

1. James Madison 10-1 (1)

JMU got the No. 1 seed and will host Wofford in the first round in what is perhaps the biggest game on the docket.

2. Appalachian St. 10-2 (2)

The three-time defending champs got an ideal draw in SC State, a team who will travel well and should provide the boost in first round attendance that App State has lacked in the past.

3. Villanova 9-2 (4)

This is the sleeper team to make it to the semis. They have the talent on defense to hold anyone and could end up in the title game.

4. Montana 11-1 (5)
The Grizzlies got the No. 4 seed and host Texas State. Some question their talent level, but playing at home, Montana should be a force.

5. Cal-Poly 8-2 (6)
After almost upsetting Wisconsin, Cal Poly is the favorite to surprise and go to the title game. They will face a tough road starting with Weber State in what could be a shootout.

6. Richmond 9-3 (7)
Hosting EKU in the first round should be a good game. The Spiders are still somewhat young but have the ground game to pound out a victory.

7. Wofford 9-2 (8)
Wofford might feel snubbed having to go on the road to JMU, but this will truly test the talent of a Wofford team that some have questioned.

8. Northern Iowa 9-2 (9)

With the No. 3 seed they face perhaps the toughest road, with a likely trip to Boone (ASU).

9. Southern Illinois 9-2 (10)
Larry Warner rushed his way onto the Walter Payton Watch List and leads a tough Saluki team.

10. Central Arkansas 10-2 (NR)
Despite not making the playoffs due to the transition period they are still a solid team.

Out: Weber St. (3)

Photo Credit: Matt Brown Photography

Small School Players of the Week

By JOSH BUCHANAN - SMALL SCHOOL INSIDERS

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

RB Tim Maypray, VMI

Maypray totaled 332 all-purpose yards and added a Big South Conference record four touchdowns in VMI’s win over Presbyterian. He rushed for a career-high 235 yards on 20 carries and averaged 11.8 per carry. He also caught three passes for 97 yards, including a 75-yard scoring reception. His scoring runs were from four, 34 and 60 yards out.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

LB Quinten Pierre, Southeastern Louisiana

Pierre collected a season-high 14 stops and recovered four fumbles in their victory over Nicholls State. He returned a fumble 65 yards that set up Southeastern Louisiana’s first score and added a 20-yard return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that cut the Colonel lead to 35-21. This was his first start at inside linebacker this season.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK

S Brandon Gathoff, Eastern Kentucky

Gathof blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt by Tennessee-Martin's Tom Hansen with four seconds left to preserve a 33-31 victory and give Eastern Kentucky the OVC auto-bid. He leaped high in to the air to block a well-struck kick that appeared to have the distance and accuracy to give UTM the win and the championship. He also picked off two passes and returned one 80 yards for a score in the first half.

Photo Credit: Ohio Valley Conference

On Location: Fitzgerald Made Proud By Seniors

By JOHN SEARS - BIG TEN INSIDER

EVANSTON, Illinois –
The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk has been retired for good to the Northwestern trophy case in a 27-10 victory over Illinois. The symbol exchange started over 60 years ago, and Wildcats’ head coach Pat Fitzgerald reminded us of its first and final resting place, “In 1945, 13-7 Northwestern won, [it’s] very special to our football program to have it here now permanen-tly. We couldn’t be more proud to win one on our last oppor-tunity.”

And win they did. The Wildcats took the lead on their second possession, driving 77 yards with crisp passing by C.J. Bacher (22-of-33, 230 yards, two touchdowns, one interception), capped by a one-yard run by Stephen Simmons (22 carries, 69 yards, one touchdown). The defense ensured they would never look back and Illinois’ ensuing possession was a microcosm of their afternoon: sack, quarterback sneak by Juice Williams, sack, punt. The official tally of sacks was five by the Wildcats (lead by 2.5 from defensive end Kevin Mims) and zero for the Illini.

Ready to take control, North-western scored again, this time on a throw by Bacher, who rolled right and threw left to senior receiver Ross Lane (six receptions, 57 yards, one touchdown). The offense kept an athletic Illini defense off balance with great run-pass play-calling (34 rush, 33 pass for the game) and crisp execution by Bacher. “We usually take what the defense gives us. We took them head on. C.J. played an outstanding football game,” Coach Fitzgerald said.

Illinois looked to turn around a first half owned by the home team (213 yards to 86), deter-mined to get Williams more mobile, either with the option or rolling him out of the pocket to evade the pass rush by the Cat’s front four. They were successful taking the ball 80 yards on 11 plays into the end zone on a Jason Ford (six carries, 12 yards, one touchdown) dive over the goal line to put the game back in reach at 13-7. But Fitzgerald’s defense reinvented themselves in preparation for how Illinois would come out the second half. “Being up 13-0, we knew they were going to make some adjustments, Fitzgerald said. “They actually went to the option where we thought they were going to go. The key is to keep them out of the end zone. You have to rise up in the red zone and that’s what they [defense] did today.”

Williams (20-of-36, 212 yards, one interception) was contained, while still out-gaining Northwestern’s ground game (113 total yards) on his own with 135 yards.

After trading field goals to make it 16-10, the game swung quickly back in Northwestern’s favor as Brendan Smith took a punt 51 yards down to the Illinois 20. This set up the short field and within two plays, Bacher found senior Eric Peterman (eight receptions, 111 yards, one touchdown) in the end zone on an 18-yard strike. Along with a successful two-point conversion, the Wildcats were back in control at 24-10. “All three of our receivers played well. Looks like Ross, Eric, and Rasheed played their best game collectively. To see those 23 young men and those three receivers before the game, they have really stepped up. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys.” Fitzgerald remarked about his veteran receivers and senior squad.

As the game drew toward its conclusion, it was only fitting that Northwestern’s defense stepped up one last time, forcing a fumble. Senior tackle John Gill burst through the Illinois’ front line and sacked Williams. He forced the ball out, which was recovered by linebacker Quentin Davie. The home team tacked on a field goal to make it 27-10.

“They are mentally exhausted, physically exhausted, we’ve been that way nine times, that’s what it takes to win a Big Ten football game. You need to lay it all on the line and not be afraid to trust yourself. And what I’m most proud of was to see those seniors have stayed the course and when you do that you have the opportunity to get better and I think collectively as a team this was our best performance of the year,” Fitzgerald concluded.

This Date in College Football History

Nov. 27, 2004: Pittsburg State (Kan.) sets the NCAA all-divisions' scoring mark in a 50-36 victory over Northwest Missouri State in the NCAA Division II playoffs at Pittsburg, rolling to 775 points that season. The previous mark was set by Harvard over a century earlier with 765 points in 14 games. The Gorillas finish the season 14-1 with 837 total points.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NFF & College Football Hall of Fame Online Auction

Inaugural NFF Online Auction

The NFF has partnered with Steiner Sports to produce its first-ever online auction initiative to benefit the scholarship fund for the NFF's National Scholar- Athlete program. The online auction will take place until the end of November.

Auction items include autographed helmets from various members of the College Football Hall of Fame, including Troy Aikman (UCLA), Billy Cannon (LSU), Coach Lou Holtz, NFF Chairman Archie Manning (Ole Miss), Jay Novacek (Wyoming), and Richard Wood (USC). The online auction complements the 51st annual silent auction at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, another sellout on Dec. 9 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.

Monday's Chalktalk

On-Campus Salute to Thurman Thomas Set for This Saturday

Oklahoma State will honor Thurman Thomas this Saturday, Nov. 29, for his 2008 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, as the Cowboys host intrastate rival Oklahoma at 7:00 p.m. on ABC.

Thomas, a two-time First Team All-America pick, led the Big Eight in rushing and scoring in 1985 and '87 and was voted the conference's Offensive Player of the Year both seasons. His 4,595 career rushing yardage is second best all-time in the conference, trailing only 2006 College Football Hall of Famer Mike Rozier of Nebraska. The Missouri City, Texas, native earned MVP honors in the 1984 Gator Bowl and the 1987 Sun Bowl and ran for 100-plus yards 21 times at OSU.

At last weekend's On-Campus Salute to Billy Cannon at LSU, the university permanently affixed Cannon's name and jersey number in the southeast corner of the stadium near the area he fielded the punt of his famous Halloween- night run. Several of his 1958 National Championship teammates were also in attendance, and all were honored during halftime ceremonies. The current LSU team wore commemorative patches in honor of the '58 team. Tiger great Y.A. Tittle and Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy were also in attendance. A new rivalry trophy, the Magnolia Bow, was unveiled and will be given to the winner of the LSU-Ole Miss game.

BCS Notes


Alabama remains at No. 1, while Texas moves up to the No. 2 spot in this week's standings. Oklahoma, Florida and USC finish out the top five. A record 39 different schools have appeared in the 2008 BCS standings with two standings remaining. Numbers of teams gracing BCS standings annually from 1998- 2008 (Top 15 from 1998-Oct. 18, 2003 - Top 25 starting on Oct. 25, 2003) include: 1998 - 26; 1999 - 19; 2000 - 23; 2001 - 23; 2002 - 21; 2003 - 32; 2004 - 34; 2005 - 32; 2006 - 35; 2007 - 34; and 2008 - 39.

FBS conference champions determined as of Nov. 24: ACC - Atlantic Division: TBD; Coastal: TBD; Big East - TBD; Big Ten - (co) Penn State, Ohio State; Big 12 - North: Missouri; South: TBD; Conference USA - East: East Carolina; West: TBD; Mid-American - East: Buffalo; West: TBD; Mountain West - Utah; Pacific-10: TBD; SEC - East: Florida; West: Alabama; Sun Belt - TBD; WAC - Boise State.

Four additional teams became bowl eligible last week, bringing the total to 64 for the 68 contracted positions in 34 FBS postseason games. They were Clemson, Colorado State, Northern Illinois, and Rutgers. There are 14 additional schools with five overall victories and with at least one game remaining. Hawai'i (6- 5) has two games remaining and is one of four teams having to reach seven victories to qualify due to a 13- game regular-season schedule.

ESPN has signed a new contract with the Bowl Championship Series for the 2010-2013 postseason contests. ABC already has the Rose Bowl, presented by CITI, under a long- term agreement.

Inaugural NFF Online Auction Continues

The NFF has partnered with Steiner Sports to produce its first-ever online auction initiative to benefit the scholarship fund for the NFF's National Scholar- Athlete program. The online auction will take place until the end of November and may be accessed through the NFF's web site at www.footballfoundation.com.

Auction items include autographed helmets from various members of the College Football Hall of Fame, including Troy Aikman (UCLA), Billy Cannon (LSU), Coach Lou Holtz, NFF Chairman Archie Manning (Ole Miss), Jay Novacek (Wyoming), and Richard Wood (USC). The online auction complements the 51st annual silent auction at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, another sellout on Dec. 9 at New York's Waldorf=Astoria.

Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Voting

Whether building houses for the homeless or starting charities to help neighbors in need, today's college football coaches are making a meaningful impact in their communities. If your favorite coach is a community leader, you can help him win $50,000 for his favorite charities through the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Just Visit www.coachoftheyear.com, cast your vote, and encourage members of your community to do the same by clicking on "Spread the Word," located on the upper right hand corner of the website's front page. A brief e-mail form will appear, allowing you to tell family, friends and fellow alumni to cast their votes.

Since its 2006 debut, Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winners have donated a total of $400,000 in prize money to 12 charities and their schools' alumni associations, for scholarships. This year, four more coaches - one from each NCAA football division - will win a collective total of $280,000 in charitable donations. By spreading the word in your community, you can help decide who should win this valuable support.

NFF News

NFF Board Member and Dallas Cowboys' owner and president Jerry Jones is bringing the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four to the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

To become a member of the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, please contact NFF Director of Special Projects Hillary Jeffries at 800-486-1865 or via email at hjeffries@footballfoundation.com.

To become an NFF member, please contact NFF Director of Membership Ron Dilatush at 800.486.1865 or via email at rdilatush@footballfoundation.com.

For the weekly College Football Insiders newsletter, the NFF's College Football Viewer Guide complete with broadcast teams, Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announcements and more information on the NFF and college football, please visit www.footballfoundation.com.

Two-Minute Drill


Oklahoma set an attendance record with 85,646, marking the largest crowd ever to witness a sporting event in state history. The Sooners are 60-2 in Norman under head coach Bob Stoops (1999-present) and has won 24 consecutive home contests since 2005... Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is one of just three all-time Big Ten Conference mentors to lead five teams to outright or shared conference crowns in five (four consecutive) of his first eight seasons as head coach. The Buckeyes won their fifth straight over archrival Michigan for the first time in the series... Missouri is the first Big 12 Conference North Division team to claim back-to- back crowns since Colorado in 2004-05... Penn State won its 800th game last Saturday again Michigan State... Boise State has clinched its sixth Western Athletic Conference title in the last seven seasons... Ball State is 11-0 for the first time in school history and advances to the Marathon Mid- American Football Championship tilt in Detroit on Dec. 5... Utah has clinched its fourth Mountain West Conference trophy and the first since the 2004 season... For the first time in history, Houston and Rice (both 6-1 along with Tulsa in a three-way deadlock) will be playing for the outright or shared Conference USA West Division title Saturday... West Virginia's Pat White broke the NCAA career record for rush yards by a quarterback with 4,293 yards in the Mountaineers win over Louisville last Saturday... TCU has scored a school-record 420 points this season... Harvard defeated Yale before a sell-out crowd at Harvard Stadium in the 125th meeting of the schools, clinching an Ivy League co-championship with Brown.

President George W. Bush is scheduled tentatively to attend his third Army-Navy game in Philadelphia on Dec. 6. He previously came to 2001 and '04 bouts between the two service academies... Rutgers is offering a one-hour condensed version of its games via tape delay on "Rutgers Rush Hour" over several area outlets at 11 p.m. (EST) on Saturdays... South Dakota continued to honor area veterans with 50 percent discounts on football tickets for active military and those who served previously... Syracuse student-athletes are participating in the popular "Book It" reading and literacy programs for regional elementary and middle schools... Cleveland State has appointed a 10-person committee to continue its feasibility study to add football in the near future... Florida, Wisconsin, Texas A&M-Kingsville, and St. Cloud State assisted with recent food drives and in serving holiday Thanksgiving dinners for underserved families in their areas... Chattanooga hosted a "Take a Kid to the Game" promotion last weekend... Duke director of athletics Dr. Kevin White and wife Jane will move into the university's Few Quadrangle as Faculty-in-Residence in 2009... 2008 NFF Distinguished American T. Boone Pickens recently pitched his energy plan on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

NCAAFootball.com is offering free text message alerts to the first 5,000 fans to register via NCAAFootball.com. NCAA Football Insider airs on radio Saturdays (please check local listings) and through the NCAA Football web site... HBO has unveiled a new Web site link for "Breaking the Huddle" - www.hbo.com/events/breakingthehuddle... Coldwell Banker has rated its most affordable home cities by NCAA FBS schools and conferences. The top five most affordable areas by average cost of residence: Akron, Ohio (Akron), Muncie, Ind. (Ball State), Ft. Worth Texas (TCU), Tulsa, Okla. (Tulsa), and Toledo, Ohio (Toledo). The five most affordable regions by conference: Mid-American, Conference USA, Big 12, SEC, and the Big East.

Georgia will dedicate the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex, in honor of the 1994 College Football Hall of Fame coach, this Saturday before the Bulldogs' tilt with Georgia Tech... Minnesota played its final game in Minneapolis' HHH Metrodome last weekend after 27 seasons in the facility. The Golden Gophers will meet Air Force to dedicate TCF Stadium on Sept. 12, 2009, for the first on-campus outing since 1981... Washington State dedicated a 15-foot monument, "Cougar Pride," commissioned by Gary Schneidmiller (WSU '71) last week prior to the Apple Cup game with Washington.

Kansas State is bringing back its most successful head football coach in history, as Bill Snyder (135 wins in 17 seasons) returns after initially retiring in 2005... Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp of Texas has been designated as head coach in waiting to succeed Mack Brown when the Longhorns' current mentor retires at an unspecified date... Danny Gonzales was named New Mexico's interim head coach.

2007 NFF Draddy Trophy semifinalist Chris Joseph of UCLA joined Florida State standout Myron Rolle as two of the 2009 Rhodes Scholars from the U.S. announced last Saturday. Joseph and Rolle were chosen among 769 applicants, including Yale's Casey Gerald, a Rhodes Scholar semifinalist and 2008 NFF Draddy Trophy finalist, from 207 universities... 2008 Draddy Trophy finalist Louie Sakoda of Utah was named a finalist for both the Lou Groza and the Ray Guy awards. He is only the second player ever to be a finalist for both awards... The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award denoted its finalists: Oklahoma's Sam Bradford; Texas Tech's Graham Harrell; and Texas' Colt McCoy... The five finalists for the 2008 Bronko Nagurski Trophy: TCU's Jerry Hughes; Southern California's Rey Maualuga; Texas' Brian Orakpo; Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith; and Florida's Brandon Spikes... Ole Miss' Michael Oher, Oklahoma's Duke Robinson and Alabama's Andre Smith have been named finalists for the 63rd Outland Trophy... The John Mackey Award announced its three finalists, which include Missouri's Chase Coffman, Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham and Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew... The Biletnikoff Award announced its ten finalists... Florida QB Tim Tebow has received the Disney Spirit Award as college football's most inspirational figure to 2008.

The Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl and local businesses are assisting with the "Cell Phones for Soldiers" campaign to provide cellular service and free calling cards for Nevada-area military personnel currently serving overseas... Florida's Brandon Antwine is the final nominee for the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award after overcoming kidney failure and muscular breakdowns in 2007 to return to the field in 2008.

ESPN's Saturday telecasts of college football carried on ABC showed that total viewership increased 15% when out-of-home viewing was added to the traditional ratings... Tuesday's Western Michigan at undefeated Ball State game has been moved to 7 p.m. (EST) and now will be aired live nationally on ESPN2. Navy-Northern Illinois that evening will move to ESPN Classic... CBS College Sports announced new cooperative air agreements with Verizon FiOS Television, Comcast Cable and Bright House Networks... The Mtn. delivered its season finale in high definition... College Fanz Sports Network, the world's largest online college sports community, has acquired the Victory Sports Network (VSN).

Washington has signed a 10-year athletics apparel deal with Nike. Memphis inked a five-year contract with Nike to provide shoes, apparel and equipment... Dr Pepper will be the official soft drink for the 2008 NAIA Russell Athletic Football Championship in Rome, Ga.

Former Baylor and Austin College (Texas) player Joe Joiner, 82, passed away on Nov. 16... Huston Patton, 75, quarterback at Ole Miss from 1953-55 died last week in Sheffield, Ala.

Key NFF Dates

Dec. 9: NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria - New York, N.Y.
Jan. 5, 2009: National Hall of Fame Salute at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Glendale, Ariz.
Jan. 9, 2009: Presentation of MacArthur Trophy to BCS champion - Miami, Fla.

2009 BCS Schedule

Jan. 1: Rose Bowl presented by Citi - Pasadena, Calif., ABC
Jan. 1: FedEx Orange Bowl - Miami Gardens, Fla., Fox
Jan. 2: Allstate Sugar Bowl - New Orleans, La., Fox
Jan. 5: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Glendale, Ariz., Fox
Jan. 8: FedEx BCS National Championship - Miami Gardens, Fla., Fox

O'Brien Quarterback Award Finalists Announced

FORT WORTH, Texas (November 24, 2008) - The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® (The O'Brien) today proudly announced its 2008 Finalists. These three Big 12 quarterbacks were selected from the Semifinalist List and will continue to fight for The O'Brien to earn the title as the nation's best quarterback. To date fans have cast more than 80,000 votes for their favorite quarterbacks. Fans are encouraged to continue voting for Finalists once daily at www.VoteOBrien.org. The voting will continue until December 7 with 5% of the final tally coming directly from the Fan Vote.

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
This sophomore quarterback from Oklahoma City, Okla. operates the no-huddle offense of the No. 3 (BCS) Sooners. He leads the Big 12 with a quarterback rating of 193.76 and has directed Oklahoma to a 10-1 record this season. Bradford has passed for 3,710 yards and 42 touchdowns this season, in addition to rushing for four.

Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Harrell, a senior from Ennis, Texas, has led Texas Tech to the most successful season in school history while in his third year as starting quarterback for the Red Raiders. The nation's leader in passing with 4,438 yards, Harrell has accounted for 45 touchdowns this season (39 passing, six rushing) while carrying the No. 7 Raiders to a 10-1 record.

Colt McCoy, Texas
McCoy has carried the 10-1 Longhorns to a No. 2 ranking in his third year as the starting quarterback for Texas. The junior from Tuscola, Texas holds the nation's highest completion percentage (77.2 percent) and has thrown for 3,134 yard and 30 touchdowns this season. He also leads the Longhorns in rushing with 527 yards and eight touchdowns.

"Each of these young men has proven himself exceptionally talented in the midst of thick competition at the quarterback position," said Danielle Moorman, executive director of the Davey O'Brien Foundation. "All three are strong leaders of their teams, and we are excited to honor them for their performance both on and off the football field."

Moorman also explained that the Selection Committee had a difficult task at hand due to the fierce competition among quarterbacks this year. "With this year's pool of quarterbacks so full of talent, every vote counted, causing our voting to come down to the wire."

Finalists were selected by The O'Brien Selection Committee, comprised of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners, as well as by fans across the country accounting for five percent of the overall vote. The Selection Committee is asked to evaluate each candidate on his quarterback skills, athletic ability, academics, character, leadership, sportsmanship and reputation as a team player. For a complete listing of O'Brien Selection Committee members, click here.

These three Finalists will continue to vie for the award until the Winner is announced during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on December 11. All Finalists will be in attendance in Orlando, Fla., for the awards show. The O'Brien recipient will be honored February 16, 2009, at the 32nd Annual O'Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

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 Finalist. The Fan Vote will count as 5% in determining the 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.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Texas Tech)

Three Finalists Announced for 2008 John Mackey Award

Manhasset, N.Y. (November 24, 2008) - The Nassau County Sports Commission (NCSC) has announced three finalists for the 2008 John Mackey Award. Listed alphabetically, they are Chase Coffman (SR, Missouri), Jermaine Gresham (JR, Oklahoma) and Brandon Pettigrew (SR, Oklahoma State).

The three finalists were determined by confidential balloting of the John Mackey Selection Committee. The 2008 recipient of "The Mackey" will be announced on December 11, 2008 at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show live on ESPN and presented at the Nassau County Sports Commission Annual Awards Dinner on April 27, 2009.

The John Mackey Award is given to the collegiate tight end who best exemplifies the play, sportsmanship, academics, and community values of NFL Hall of Fame Tight End John Mackey. The Nassau County Sports Commission is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that promotes sports and healthy lifestyle for Nassau County residents and is responsible for the administration of the John Mackey Award and the John Mackey Award Selection Committee.

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

Photo Credit: Mizzou Media Relations

2008 OUTLAND TROPHY FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

DALLAS (FWAA) - Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher, Oklahoma guard Duke Robinson and Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith have been named finalists for the 63nd Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football.

The winner of the Outland Trophy will be announced on the evening of Dec. 11 during "The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show" at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The show, hosted by ESPN's Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, airs from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET.

Oher, a 6-5, 318-pound senior from Memphis, Tenn., has started 45 straight games for the Ole Miss Rebels (7-4), who defeated LSU, 31-13, last Saturday and could be in line for a bid to the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. The subject of a book, "The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game," depicting his ascension from impoverished beginnings, Oher was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week after Ole Miss beat Louisiana-Monroe, 59-0, this season. Ole Miss is third in the SEC in rushing, with Oher helping pave the way. He is the first finalist for the award to come from Ole Miss.

Robinson, a 6-5, 335-pound senior from Atlanta, Ga., anchors the line for one of the most prolific offenses in college football at Oklahoma. The Sooners (10-1) throttled Texas Tech, 65-21, last Saturday and moved into serious contention for the national title. Oklahoma is third in the country in total offense and passing offense. Robinson, who is considered the Sooners' best offensive lineman, is expected to be the first guard taken in the 2009 NFL Draft, but he also can play tackle. He is also looking to become the Sooners' sixth winner of the Outland.

Smith, a 6-4, 330-pound junior from Birmingham, Ala., probably won't be around for his senior season. On the way to probably his second straight Jacobs Blocking Trophy (best blocker in the SEC), Smith anchors the offensive line for the top-ranked Crimson Tide (11-0). He has allowed only one sack all season. From his left tackle spot, Smith is projected to be the top player taken overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by at least one scouting service. Only once before has an Alabama player won the Outland (Chris Samuels in 1999).

The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Pennsylvania at the turn of the century. The Outland Trophy is the third oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

The official 2008 award presentation will be Jan. 15, 2009, in Omaha, Neb., at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. A past Outland Trophy winner will also receive his trophy there.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of nearly 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 gameday operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Oklahoma)

This Date in College Football History


Nov. 25, 2006: Rice clinches its first bowl berth since 1961 by toppling SMU 31-27 in Houston. Freshman All-America WR Jarrett Dillard grabs three touchdown receptions, denying the Mustangs their first bowl bid since 1984.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Date in College Football History

Nov. 24, 1956: In California coach Pappy Waldorf's (1966 College Football Hall of Fame inductee) last game, the Golden Bears upset Stanford 20-18 in Berkeley. Cal strikes early, scoring two touchdowns in the first 11 minutes. Despite the loss, Stanford quarterback John Brodie (1986 College Football Hall of Fame inductee) sets a Pacific Coast Conference record with 137 completions in a single season.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Date in College Football History

Nov. 22, 1875: In New Haven, Harvard beats Yale 4-0 in the schools' first-ever meeting. With 15 players on each side, the game was a mix of rugby and soccer. The third most-played rivalry in the country, Harvard and Yale will celebrate their 125th meeting this November.

Credit: The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Senior Spotlight: Big Ten Conference

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES @ OHIO ST. BUCKEYES – NOVEMBER 21 - 12:00 ON ABC

LB MARCUS FREEMAN, OHIO ST.


Overshadowed by James Laurinaitis over most of his career, Marcus Freeman is a pretty darn good linebacker in his own right. As a run stopper, Freeman’s speed allows him to close the gap between himself and the ball carrier before significant yardage is gained. His explosiveness allows him to get into the backfield against the run, yet he’s also strong enough to take on tight ends at the point of attack. He is a fluid athlete who moves well from side-to-side, which allows him to play in pass coverage. In addition to his skills as a linebacker, he is a solid special teamer, playing on three separate units at OSU. He is not the most instinctive player and relies on his athleticism a little too much, but Freeman has improved his recognition skills. The senior has also improved his blitzing this year. Freeman is more of a piece of the puzzle than the centerpiece, which works out well at Ohio St. Like many of his teammates, after a slow start to the 2008 season, Freeman comes into this game playing his best football of the season.

2008: 69 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles For a Loss, 3.5 Sacks

DT TERRANCE TAYLOR, MICHIGAN

Terrance Taylor, a 6-foot, 310 pound senior, has made 26 consecutive starts and played in 47 career games going into his final contest as a Wolverine, providing experience and durability. In total, he has started 35 games at nose tackle, one of the toughest positions to play at any level of football. As a junior, he became the first defensive tackle since Josh Williams (53 tackles in 1997) to post 50 stops in a season, earning him Second Team All-Big Ten honors. Taylor is an excellent athlete, particularly for a man of his size. The former high school state champion in power lifting (610 pound squat, 620 pound dead lift, 385 pound bench press) is as strong as they come. As an undefeated wrestler, he possesses the type of fight one would expect in a noseman. He won the state title as a junior, and threw the shot (52 6 feet) and discus (163 02 feet) for his track team in Muskegon. He’s a bit squatty at just over six-feet tall and also lacks closing speed, whether it’s getting after the quarterback or chasing down the ball carrier. Taylor is not much of a pass rusher, but very few nose tackles are. His value comes in occupying multiple blockers, which frees things up for others to make plays.

2008: 30 Tackles, Four Tackles For a Loss, 1.5 Sacks

QB BRIAN HOYER, MICHIGAN ST.


Hoyer is in his second year as full-time starter in East Lansing after backing up Drew Stanton for two seasons. He lacks ideal size and bulk, but is a very good athlete although he does not look to run very often. The Ohio product isn’t the strongest quarterback in the Big Ten and has struggled with his accuracy this season (49.1 percent). Hoyer doesn’t have overly impressive skills, but deserves his due for putting the Spartans in position to win a share of the Big Ten title. A solid game manager, the senior has done a good job of protecting the football this season.

MICHIGAN ST. VISITS PENN ST. THIS SATURDAY – 3:30 PM ON ABC

Photo Credit: OSU Athletics