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Georgia had a significant field-position and turnover-value advantage over South Carolina, but couldn't convert with the game on the line.

22 Nov 2007

Seventh Day Adventure: Thanksgiving Feast

by Russell Levine

Rarely has college football entered its final two weeks with so little decided. Only Ohio State has officially locked up a BCS bid, and the Buckeyes are on the sidelines, waiting to learn their fate. Most likely they'll be heading to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac-10 champs, but if the season-long run of upsets continues, Ohio State could find itself right back in the national championship game.

What's at stake this weekend? Oh, just the following:

  • The Big East title
  • The Big 12 North title
  • The Big 12 South title
  • The ACC Coastal title
  • The SEC East title
  • A BCS at-large elimination game

Only the Pac-10 will still be up for grabs following this weekend's action. To avoid any confusion, here's your two-minute guide to the BCS:

ACC: Boston College has won the Atlantic Division and will face the winner of Virginia Tech-Virginia in the conference championship next week in Jacksonville.

Big East: The winner of Connecticut-West Virginia wins the conference and the BCS bid.

Big Ten: Regular season complete. Ohio State is the champion.

Big 12: Missouri plays Kansas for the North title. Winner faces either Oklahoma (if Sooners beat Oklahoma State) or Texas (if Oklahoma loses) in the conference championship next week in San Antonio. If both Oklahoma and Texas lose, Longhorns win the tie-breaker for the South title.

Pac-10: The wild west. Arizona State, Oregon, USC, Oregon State, and even UCLA remain alive to win the conference title. Arizona State has a one-game lead in the loss column and will win the conference with a win over USC and one Oregon loss.

SEC: LSU has won the West. Tennessee will win the East if it beats Kentucky. A loss by the Vols sends Georgia to the conference championship next week in Atlanta.

Other conferences: Hawaii and Boise State are the only mid-major teams still alive for an at-large BCS bid. The winner of their game Friday night in Honolulu is not guaranteed a spot, but the loser will be eliminated.

National Title picture: LSU will reach the championship game with two more wins, as will Kansas. Missouri is almost certain to get there if it wins out. If both Kansas and Missouri lose, West Virginia is probably the next most likely team, followed by Ohio State, then Arizona State. I don't want to think about what happens if everyone loses. It makes my head hurt.

So, as you can see, we're dealing with a lot of stuff this week. Clearly, we need a podcast guest with a broad knowledge base to help sort all this out.

Well Bruce Feldman fits the bill perfectly. He's a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine and he also blogs about college football on ESPN.com Insider. Bruce is a Miami graduate who wrote a book about the Hurricanes program a few years ago. He's also spent a lot of time around the USC program, living in Southern California. Most recently, he spent a year on the recruiting trail with Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron and the result is the book Meat Market. Bruce secured terrific access to Orgeron and his staff and the book reads like a piece of investigative reporting.

In addition to talking about the book and the world of big-time recruiting, here are the games that Bruce and I discuss this week:

No. 11 USC (-3.5) at No. 6 Arizona State, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

People were quick to declare the USC era over after they lost to Stanford and Oregon, but the Trojans could well end up in the Rose Bowl or with an at-large bid to a BCS game, but only if they can get past the surprising Sun Devils.

Arizona State is all alone in first place in the Pac-10 after Oregon's season crumpled along with Dennis Dixon's knee last Thursday night.

Arkansas (+12) at No. 1 LSU, Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET, CBS

These two teams produced a classic last year, with LSU beating Arkansas after the Hogs had already sewn up the SEC West title.

The tables are turned this time around -- LSU is heading to Atlanta, win or lose. But the Tigers have their eyes on a much bigger prize: the national title. LSU sleepwalked through last week's win over Ole Miss, allowing the normally punchless Rebels to run up and down the field on its vaunted defense.

Both head coaches are in the crosshairs of the rumor mill. One media outlet has already reported that Arkansas's Houston Nutt will be fired. That seems premature, but he has picked up an awful lot of baggage to offset last seasons's success. Miles, of course, is candidate No. 1 in Ann Arbor to replace the retired Lloyd Carr.

No. 19 Boise State (+3.5) at No. 15 Hawaii, Friday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Both these teams have a shot at an at-large bid to the BCS, most likely to the Sugar Bowl. Hawaii has been living on the edge all season. They've won twice in overtime, and last week needed a field goal at the gun to beat Nevada on the road.

The Warriors hope to have Colt Brennan back and at full strength after he sat out all but two snaps last week with a concussion. Brennan's not going to win the Heisman, but he could still earn an invite to New York with big performances this week and against Washington. He'll need them if Hawaii is going to get to 12-0 and hope for a few more upsets to propel them into the BCS.

Boise is a seasoned team that hasn't dropped a game since losing to Washington in September. They won't be intimated playing in the Islands, nor will they panic if Hawaii puts up some points early.

No. 8 Virginia Tech (-3.5) at No. 16 Virginia, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2

To the winner goes the ACC Coastal Division (because when I think of "coastal," I think of Blacksburg) and a date with Boston College.

Virginia has been scraping by all year, until the Cavaliers blew the doors off Miami, 48-0, in the 'Canes' final game at the Orange Bowl two weeks ago. Suddenly, they look like a legitimate threat to get to the BCS -- and this after coach Al Groh was all but fired following a season-opening spanking by Wyoming.

Virginia Tech also was a victim of an early rout (by LSU) then collapsed late against Boston College, but can earn a rematch against the Eagles with a win here.

No. 18 Tennessee (+3) at Kentucky, 1:30 p.m. ET, CBS

Tennessee is one of the toughest teams to figure this season. They've lost three games, all on the road, all by blowout margins. The three teams to beat the Vols have combined to lose 13 games.

Then there's Kentucky, which is the only team to beat LSU, but also lost to South Carolina and Mississippi State.

Tennessee's pass defense has been torched in those losses, which has to make Kentucky's Andre' Woodson smile.

Oklahoma State (+11.5) at No. 10 Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN

Oklahoma finds itself in the same position that Texas faced last year: needing a win over a rival to go to the conference title game. Texas lost that game, in part because quarterback Colt McCoy got hurt. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford is already hurt, having sustained a concussion in the loss to Texas Tech last week.

If Bradford is healthy, Oklahoma should be able to put up plenty of points of the porous Cowboy defense -- which they might need, because Oklahoma State's offense is plenty explosive on its own.

No. 20 Connecticut (+17) at No. 3 West Virginia, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2

Connecticut can't really go into West Virginia and come out with a Big East championship, can they? Not when West Virginia is playing for a bigger prize, right?

Yet the Mountaineers haven't exactly been overwhelming the last two times out in wins over Louisville and Cincinnati, both of which were in doubt until the final minutes.

Connecticut has enough defensive team speed to run with West Virginia, but probably not the offensive weapons to outscore the Mountaineers.

No. 4 Missouri (+2) vs. No. 2 Kansas, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

You know a game is big when the trash talk starts to involve the Civil War.

It's probably safe to assume neither school imagined what this game would become when they agreed to move it to the neutral venue of Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium. But rather than a border war battle for third place in the Big 12 North, Missouri and Kansas will face off in a de facto national quarterfinal that will get the full Gameday treatment from ESPN.

This should be a fun one. Both teams are capable of scoring 50 and giving up 30. They run very similar offenses with similar quarterbacks in Kansas's Todd Reesing and Missouri's Chase Daniel, both of whom are undersized throwers from Texas who generated no interest from that state's marquee programs.

It's not overstating it to say this is the biggest game in the history of this rivalry, which dates back a Big 12-best 115 years.


The SDA Podcast


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The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Bruce Says Russell Says
USC -3.5 Arizona State USC USC
Arkansas +12 LSU LSU LSU
Boise State +3.5 Hawaii Boise State Boise State*
Virginia Tech -3.5 Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Tennessee +3 Kentucky Kentucky Tennessee
Oklahoma State +11.5 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
Connecticut +17 West Virginia Connecticut West Virginia
Missouri +2 Kansas Missouri Missouri

(Yes, I forgot to secure a Freddy pick from Bruce. I also forgot to mention mine in the Podcast. I'll go with Boise State.)

Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Guest: Matt 3-5-0 (0-1-0)    
Guests Composite     45-46-5 (2-9-1)
Russell 4-4-0 (1-0-0) 41-50-5 (6-4-2)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 22 Nov 2007

189 comments, Last at 27 Nov 2007, 2:20am by David

Comments

1
by Travis (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 2:37pm

If both Oklahoma and Texas lose, Longhorns win the tie-breaker for the South title.

Not necessarily. If Oklahoma and Texas lose, they fall into a three-way tie with Oklahoma State for the South Division title. The Big 12 tiebreakers for a 3-way tie are as follows:

1. Head-to-head among the three teams. All three would be 1-1.

2. Record in the division. All three would be 3-2.

3. Record against the 4th place team in the division. Texas Tech and Texas A&M would be tied at 4-4, and both would be considered the 4th place team (Tech's win over A&M wouldn't matter.) Oklahoma beat A&M, but lost to Tech; Texas beat Tech, but lost to A&M; and OSU beat Tech, but lost to A&M. On to the next tiebreaker ...

4. Record against the 6th place team in the division. All three beat Baylor.

5. Record against common conference opponents. There is no common North opponent among Oklahoma, Texas, and OSU.

6. Highest rank in the BCS standings. Currently, Oklahoma is 10th, Texas is 13th, and OSU is unranked; most likely, Oklahoma would remain higher ranked than Texas and OSU and win the tiebreaker.

2
by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 2:37pm

Gotta love a column that includes a Bull Durham reference.

3
by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 11/22/2007 - 3:38pm

Thanks for the breakdown of each of the conference races. My feeling is that Hawaii is in the BCS with a win, but that they'll leave Boise out even if they beat Hawaii. I just don't think the powers that be want to put themselves in a position where Boise can win BCS games in two straight years, but they also don't want to put themselves in a position where they've denied an undefeated team.

4
by PaulH (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 2:50am

A few points...

I know the rumors swirling surrounding Nutt and his job status. At this point, it seems to me that the only way he can save his job is to beat LSU, and I'm not even sure that will be enough. At the very least, if LSU comes out and wins with ease, which honestly I figure will be the case, Nutt is gone.

LSU has to want Tennessee to beat Kentucky. I know that the Vols annihilated Georgia, but you cannot overlook the fact that they lost handily to a 6-5 Cal team, and then were annihilated by 6-5 Alabama and 8-3 Florida. That, of course, is not counting having to rally from 15 down and needing a game-winning field goal to bounce off the upright to beat Vandy. If I'm an LSU fan, I've got to be pulling for the Vols big in this one.

Georgia, on the other hand, may want to pull for them too. I know that sounds weird, but as long as they beat Georgia Tech -- which is very much expected -- the Dawgs are essentially guaranteed a BCS berth if the Vols beat Kentucky. I know it sounds odd, but it's better to not make the SEC Championship Game than it is to make it and lose. That whole "'Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all" thing doesn't apply to college football and championship games.

One last comment, and it's a question...

If Boise knocks of Hawai'i, do they get a BCS game? I know the Sugar Bowl is most likely, but I'm going to have to say that I vehemently disagree with them getting that berth. Last year was fine when they beat the living hell out of a ten-win Oregon State team, but this year they've played only one BCS conference team, and that was when a 4-7 Washington team beat them by two touchdown.

Honestly I will not support that personally, but what do you think the odds are of them making a BCS game if they beat Hawai'i?

Or, for that matter, what do you think the odds are of Hawai'i making a BCS game if they win?

5
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 11:16am

Wow.

I did not expect USC to absolutely trounce Arizona State. I thought USC would win, but that game was barely competitive after the first quarter or so.

So the Rose Bowl is somewhat up for grabs now...

1. Oregon is in control of its destiny right now. If USC, ASU, and Oregon win out, they will all be Pac-10 co-champions, and Oregon will clinch the Rose Bowl berth due to head-to-head wins over both ASU and USC. Oregon, though, must win both these games with Brady Leaf as the starter.

2. Should Oregon falter, USC can clinch a Rose Bowl berth with a win over UCLA, due to a head-to-head victory over ASU.

3. Should both USC and Oregon lose, ASU needs to beat Arizona to take the Rose Bowl berth.

6
by Russell Levine :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 12:44pm

Agreed. USC looked like USC again in that game. Hopefully today's games are little more competitive.

7
by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 1:59pm

Re: 5

Even crazier, if Arizona beats Arizona State, UCLA beats Oregon, and UCLA beats USC, UCLA wins the 4-way tiebreaker with the other 3 teams (Arizona State, USC, and either Oregon or Oregon State). This scenario would also guarantee a BCS bid for the WAC champion, provided that team has a Top 16 BCS ranking.

8
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 2:30pm

Re: 4

"...I know that sounds weird, but as long as they beat Georgia Tech — which is very much expected — the Dawgs are essentially guaranteed a BCS berth if the Vols beat Kentucky. I know it sounds odd, but it’s better to not make the SEC Championship Game than it is to make it and lose..."

So you think Georgia should pass on an opportunity to win an SEC championship so that they "essentially guarantee" themselves a BCS game? I'd be curious to read what any Georgia fans have to say about that, but the statement is incorrect anyway. First off, that presumes an LSU victory over Tennessee which is by no means automatic. Secondly, a 2nd SEC team is going to the BCS this year. Should UGA lose in the SEC Championship Game, what makes you think they don't get the BCS bid anyway? The only other possible team, at this moment, is Florida who still needs to win Saturday to remain viable.

To answer your question about Boise State, they need to finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings to get the automatic bid OR finish in the top 16 of those standings and be ranked ahead of a BCS conference champion. I don't think beating Hawaii gets them to the top 12 and it would take some interesting stuff happening for the 2nd scenario to occur (UConn winning in poor fashion over WVU thereby getting little bounce; both UT and OU losing this weekend but beating the Mizzou-Kansas winner; all 3 Pac-10 contenders losing out; etc.). However, because there is a possible shortage of eligible BCS teams (mainly because of the maximum of 2 teams from any conference), being in the top 14 might be enough this year to get the bid. And Boise beating Hawaii on the islands just might do that.

9
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 2:49pm

I agree- strictly speaking, Georgia should prob be rooting for Tennessee. The odds that Georgia beats LSU or loses but stays ahead of Florida have to be smaller than the chance of LSU beating Tenn, practically guaranteeing Georgia a BCS berth. Again, the machinery of college football at work, where it's best not to take any chances.

10
by NewsTom (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 5:07pm

With the obvious exception of Reggie Ball, has there been a single starter in college football seemingly more detrimental to his team's chances than Sam Keller? He was essentially run out of his first school by his teammates, his second school is enduring its worst stretch in half a century or more, and now that he's hurt and out for the year, his backup is doing better than he is.

Oh, and how the heck did Colorado limit Oklahoma to 24 and Kansas to 19? They've given up 35 to Big Red in the first half, and that's about the level they've played at.

11
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 8:42pm

Typical LSU, struggling with yet another opponent. And this is the #1 team in the nation? Please.

12
by Brian J. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:05pm

If this is Houston Nutt's last regular season game for the Razorbacks, he's leaving nothing in the playbook untried. And McFadden and Jones are leaving it all on the field.

Woooooooooooooooooooo PIG SOOEY!

13
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:13pm

Announcers predisposition to view Miles decisions as risky leads them to freak out when they run a WR screen, very safe play, on 4th and 1

14
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:14pm

Wow. It continually stuns me how LSU manages to pull the weirdest shit and have it work in their favor.

Michigan, are you sure you want this guy as your coach...?

15
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:16pm

It's 4th and goal.

Why is Les Miles calling so many timeouts? He just called one, before they ran their 3rd down play, and then called one after not getting the touchdown on 3rd down?

He's giving Arkansas a full minute or so to potentially get a field goal.

16
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:18pm

What is Miles going off about? He's really, really pissed off.

Did LSU just call their final timeout? I have no idea what just happened.

17
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:19pm

Arkansas icing the entire offense

Timeouts should be eliminated

18
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:20pm

Wow.

LSU changed formation, quick-snapped, touchdown on 4th and goal.

But no! Arkansas called timeout, Mike Shanahan-style, right before the ball was snapped. No touchdown.

19
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:21pm

LSU scores on 4th and goal. Man. Truly stunning.

Sometimes you just get the impression that a team is living a charmed life.

20
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:24pm

11- Two good teams are playing a tight game. If LSU finishes 12 - 1 with that schedule, they deserve to be in the National Championship.

LSU v Arkansas is the perfect example of why I'm opposed to a playoff. SO MUCH was on the line with that first and goal- as in, the entire season for everyone. Not just the players at LSU or fans of Ohio State and West Virginia- all of US who watch the game.

21
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:28pm

Any pass there should really be off of playaction, rather then an obvious hail mary

22
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:35pm

SEC conspiracy intervening there

23
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:35pm

LSU freshman safety Chad Jones is an awesome athlete. I don't know where LSU finds all this talent.

24
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:38pm

How poorly did Arkansas call plays on their last possession in regulation? You get great position and get virtually no yardage after that? Just bad calls.

25
by Michael David Smith :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:42pm

OK, that fourth-and-10 conversion worked for Arkansas, but do you really want to draw up a play where McFadden is standing there waiting on the off chance that LSU blitzes someone on his side of the field?

26
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:43pm

I thought the running play right from the start before the game end, that drained 20 or so seconds off the clock, was ridiculous. It looks like Arkansas didn't even know that the clock was running.

27
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:44pm

These announcers are cracking me up in OT. At first I thought they were LSU homering, but then when Arkansas converted the 4th down Vern Lundquist did his best Gus Johnson impression.... and now an LSU player is hurt after a play is whistled dead... looks like a bad injury too.

Officials need to jump in there if the play is dead and make the players stop.

28
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:47pm

Arkansas should've gone for two. Seems like their defense hasn't been stopping LSU and on offense they already had to convert a 4th and 10 to put it into the end zone...

Just saying next time they might not even have a chance to win with 2... kind've why you play defense first.

29
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:47pm

The D Coordinators should just study the CBS tape of the game b/c Gary Danielson knows precisely what play is coming virtually every time.

30
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:49pm

The way they just converted on that drive... you think they couldn't get 2 yards on 1 play??

31
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:52pm

Every time LSU drops back to pass I just assume it's complete.

32
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:57pm

Arkansas has to play for 4 downs here, they're not holding LSU

33
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 9:59pm

Re: 30 The way they just converted on that drive… you think they couldn’t get 2 yards on 1 play??

The 2 point conversion attempt occurs from the 3-yard line. Big difference.

34
by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:00pm

I don't get why Nutt didn't go for two, either. Isn't the general rule of thumb play for the win on the road, and the tie at home?

Actually, I get exactly why Nutt didn't. His job is on the line, and there is less controversy if they lose in the 2nd OT than if they go for two and don't get it.

Nice run by D-Mac

35
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:08pm

Well they did win it. Didn't realize college rules are from the 3 instead of the 2... that is a bit of a difference.

36
by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:09pm

And the Hogs pull it out.

I said 4 weeks ago on one of the college threads here that this was a dangerous matchup for LSU.

37
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:09pm

Finally brought the huge blitz on the 2PT try. They should've been bringing it on every play in OT because they couldn't stop LSU with 4 downs without a sack or TO

LSU finally punished for their shakiness

38
by Gerry (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:10pm

"The D Coordinators should just study the CBS tape of the game b/c Gary Danielson knows precisely what play is coming virtually every time. "

He was pretty freaky with that. I just wish he would use the telestrator to go over what he saw to make him think the play was going to be what he correctly said it was going to be.

39
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:11pm

Well it seems like if you go by the "match 7" strategy you still have to convert a 2 pointer to win it... and if your team doesn't get a TD you have no chance of converting that 2 pointer.

It still is moot though... so is this another big upset? Someone is going to vulch LSUs spot...

40
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:28pm

Words cannot express the complete and utter joy I'm feeling right now to see LSU's absurdly incredible luck finally run out. I kept saying here for weeks that they weren't the best team in the nation, that they were more lucky than great, and now I feel vindicated.

But of course that also means that now I'll have to endure a Buckeyes-Mountaneers title game when I can't stand either team :-(

Ah well. I still say they should just declare that there was no champion this season. Nobody deserves it.

41
by peachy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:44pm

Dear LSU :

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,
The Anyone But Tebow for Heisman Campaign

PS - Please convey our warmest regards to Kansas and UConn.

42
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 10:59pm

We are two games away- UConn over WVU (a big but non-monumental upset) and Oklahoma over the Kansas vs Mizzou winner (likely) away from seeing a two-loss team playing for the title, which would cause the biggest BCS frenzy EVER. 2004 would have nothing on this one.

43
by Russell Levine :: Fri, 11/23/2007 - 11:26pm

In answer to an earlier post, no I'm not sure AT ALL that I want Miles as Michigan's next coach. I've been waffling on him all year. Beyond the losing to OSU, the chief criticisms of Carr were that he underperformed despite having superior talent, and that his teams were too predictable based on formation and personnel.

Umm, let's just say that I feel LSU fans' pain right now.

Man, what a weird year. No great teams, just a bunch of good ones. The next nine days are going to be crazy.

44
by joe football (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 12:03am

In honor of the game of the year: IRC football chat at cognet.catch22.org, #fo

45
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 12:16am

#43: I saw a rumor earlier this week that none other than CAM CAMERON's name was in the hat for the Michigan job. I'm rooting for them to take him off my hands. Your misery upon him taking said job is unfortunate, but whatever it takes to get Cam the hell out of Miami.

46
by MRH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 12:44am

I don't think it can actually happen given all the BCS ins-and-outs and conference tie-ins, but I'd think the top 3 bowl matchups in TV ratings this year would be:

1. BCS championship
2. Rose Bowl
3. Oklahoma-Boise State

If I'm a network guy, I'm trying to figure out how to make #3 occur.

I know Russell and many of the readers here are all about tradition etc. and many of you would watch any good college game, and I was once that way. But I've lost my fervor for college football and could care less about most bowl games (where once I'd watch almost all of them). I suspect that there are lots of middle-aged guys like me. But a rematch of last year's game for the ages - yeah, I'd tune that in. And the networks know it.

Like I said, probably can't happen. But it should.

47
by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 12:48am

Re: 45

Cameron is a former UM assistant. Anyone with head coaching experience and UM somewhere on the resume is going to be a "candidate".

Really impressed with Brennan so far tonight. He has terrific pocket presence and has show good arm strength on a number of throws.

48
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:13am

LSU freshman safety Chad Jones is an awesome athlete. I don’t know where LSU finds all this talent.

In the case of Jones, they didn't have to look far. He grew up in Baton Rouge a few miles from Tiger Stadium. And with LaRon Landry and Jesse Daniels leaving from a year ago, it was an easy choice to head to LSU.

Interestingly enough, he's also a top baseball prospect, and admittedly baseball is his favorite sport. He was drafted by the Astros coming out of high school, and many non-LSU fans hoped he would go to MLB, but he chose LSU. He's going to play baseball at LSU in the Spring, and he'll probably get drafted again. He's just a great all-around athlete.

49
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:27am

Re: 46 But a rematch of last year’s game for the ages - yeah, I’d tune that in. And the networks know it.

Why? There's no reason to believe that it would be a particularly good game. Like almost every other unplanned sequel to a surprise hit, it would be likely to disappoint. It's a simple matter of regression to the mean.

50
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:35am

A&M over Texas and Coach Fran resigns afterwards. He is a perfect coach and may have to slum it for a couple of seasons, but he might be in a BCS conference sideline sooner then I thought.

and LSU was going to lose again, I think a lot of people say that coming a mile away. Les Miles is the Mack Brown of the SEC.

51
by hooper (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:41am

If Michigan wants Les Miles, he is now available to move up north a week earlier than anticipated. The Sugar Bowl is LSU's most likely destination if they win in Atlanta.

However, there is still a very, very outside possibility of LSU getting back up into the top 2. A thrashing in Atlanta, plus a Missouri win over Kansas then loss to Oklahoma, plus a West Virginia loss, plus perhaps a Virginia Tech and Georgia loss might clear the deck enough for LSU to land back at #2 to face OSU. As distasteful as that would be to the BCS gang, it would have the delightful side effect of matching the (possible) future head coach of Michigan against the Buckeyes in the national title game. That would start the series off with a bang.

Not that I'm counting on that happening, but it's there.

52
by Joe (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:48am

Re 49: It doesn't matter how good the game actually ends up being. Given how many bowl games there are these days, you need to have something to get people interested in it. But as MRH said, it probably can't happen because of the conference tie-ins.

53
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 1:51am

An OU v Boise would be intriguing. OU fans would want a rematch, while Boise may actually have more to lose than OU.

I still don't think Boise deserves a shot in a BCS bowl even if they beat Hawaii.

54
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:01am

"But I’ve lost my fervor for college football and could care less about most bowl games (where once I’d watch almost all of them). I suspect that there are lots of middle-aged guys like me."

Well, being a middle-aged guy, there were only about half as many bowl games back when you got excited about them. Now there are about 20 bowls alone that seem to pit 6-6 teams against each other. You could eliminate all of those and nobody would even notice.

55
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:04am

#47: I don't know about that "great pocket presence" part. Colt took a couple of sacks he didn't seem to sense coming.

Loving the game though. Hopefuly the Mizzou-KU Showdown Of The Millennium is going to be at least this good.

56
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:06am

50- Thanks, I'm not the only one that thinks Francione lands on his feet (SMU?). IMO he wasn't bad on the W - L front, but A&M is unrealistic. The Big 12 South is LOADED.

Can't wait to see who A&M actually brings in. Right now, it is the very toughest conference with the biggest (and possibly inflated) expectations.

57
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:34am

The Sugar Bowl is LSU’s most likely destination if they win in Atlanta.

No, they will most likely not make the Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl, considering that New Orleans has the championship game, will get the last of the selections, and someone will snag LSU before then. If LSU beats Tennessee / Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the odds are that they are picked up by either the Fiesta Bowl or the Orange Bowl. And, if Ohio State somehow gets in the national championship game, the likely destination is the Rose Bowl for the match-up some people have been waiting for since 2003 -- USC v. LSU.

The odds of LSU making the Sugar Bowl are essentially zero now. They'll either be picked up by the Rose / Fiesta / Orange if they win in Atlanta, or be headed to the Citrus / Capital One if they lose. One way or the other, they're not headed to the Sugar Bowl.

58
by hooper (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:38am

Re: 57

Good point. I was only thinking about the conference tie-ins, and the Sugar likes to take the SEC team whenever possible. I would add the caveat that they could still go to the Sugar if they lose to Georgia in Atlanta in a close game, and Florida loses to Florida State. They'd still be the second-highest ranked SEC team and probably wouldn't fall outside the BCS range. That would set them up for an at-large bid, and they may have fallen just enough to get placed in the Sugar. Still, your point holds, and that little line in my other post should stand amended as such.

59
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:39am

Hawaii games are lots of fun. BSU takes the lead 27-26 after a FG set up by a pretty horrific Brennan INT. Hawaii's defense is actually functional tonight, which surprises me (sorry Russell, I can't usually stay up and watch the midnight game).

60
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:42am

Hawaii holds Boise to a FG thanks to some defense that made Spielman practically have an orgasm in the booth. LOL

I'm loving this game. I've seen Hawaii three times in a row now, and each time they've seemingly played a little more fired up.

61
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:45am

Re: 57

If LSU wins next week, they'll be in the Sugar Bowl, barring a scenario where they still finish in the top 2 of the BCS. BCS conference winners not in the top 2 are slotted in their "historical" bowl games: Big Ten-Pac 10 in the Rose, SEC in the Sugar, ACC in the Orange, and Big 12 in the Fiesta.

62
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:46am

Commentators pointing out that Hawaii should be in the BCS if they win out since no other team has really done anything to distinguish themselves as being vastly superior, and I'm inclined to agree. If they can't get into a BCS bowl by going unbeaten THIS year...

63
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:46am

well A&M is rumored to be looking at: Tommy Tuberville, Spurrier, Tedford, Rich Rodriguez, and Mike Sherman. I think Tedford and Rodriguez's names have to appear for every major coaching job. They screwed up by firing Slocum.

Of course I meant Coach Fran is not perfect, but is a solid coach.

64
by hooper (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:47am

Re: 61

Hmm.. Maybe I oughta just read up on the BCS rules before I start posting projections about them again. Thanks for the tip.

65
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:59am

Hawaii long bomb TD to give them some breathing room with a 12-point lead near the end of the 3rd. But this game is far from over.

66
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:03am

LSU fans are going to look at this year stat's in 2008 and wonder how the hell Jacob Hester got so many carries on a team with Keiland Williams on it.

67
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:06am

#66: Who is this Keiland Williams you speak of? LOL

68
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:15am

#5 on LSU, the dude averaging 6.9 YPC this year, after averaging 6 YPC his freshman year. He was the RB I was worried about on LSU this season, not Hester. Hester is solid and dependable though...

69
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:26am

HORRIBLE decision by Hawaii to go for it on 4th and 5 there. This could be Colorado-Iowa State and Ole Miss-Mississippi State all over again. If Hawaii loses, that play will be the turning point.

70
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:53am

Or not. Hawaii 39-27. The best they've looked in the three straight games I've seen them. After the Fresno game I thought they'd lose out quite honestly.

Also nice display of class kneeling it out at Boise's one. The way this season's gone, any other team would've tried to run up the score and then tried an onsides kick.

71
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:20am

Commentators pointing out that Hawaii should be in the BCS if they win out since no other team has really done anything to distinguish themselves as being vastly superior, and I’m inclined to agree.

Me too. It really is hard to criticize their weak schedule/close wins that much when other teams have lost to weak teams.

72
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:33am

LSU fans are going to look at this year stat’s in 2008 and wonder how the hell Jacob Hester got so many carries on a team with Keiland Williams on it.

That's what I thought coming into this year, and then all we see is Hester, Hester, and more Hester.

I think -- and I don't have hard numbers to support this, only gut feelings -- that you should think of it in terms of FO's RB Success Rate. Williams (and other LSU backs) have very gaudy yards per carry numbers, but none of those guys have been able to effectively move the ball in key situations with any degree of consistency. As a result, every time LSU needs to grind out bits of meaningful yards, they must turn to Hester, the only back who has shown the ability to do so with consistency.

To further illustrate my point, look at Keiland Williams in today's game. On the surface, the 10 carries for 47 yards (4.7 ypc) looks good, but not so much when you go deeper. He had two very good runs -- off 24 and 13 yards, respectively -- but once you factor those two runs out, he had 8 carries for 10 yards. Included in those 8 carries was one carry that went for one yard, and three carries that lost yardage. When you look at his RB Success Rate, it was only 30 per cent.

Again, I think it's that they haven't been able to consistently pick up the needed yardage. Long story, it's seemingly a boom or bust situation with the non-Hester tailbacks.

I thin that's why Hester has gotten the overwhelming majority of the meaningful carries.

73
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:44am

BCS conference winners not in the top 2 are slotted in their “historical� bowl games: Big Ten-Pac 10 in the Rose, SEC in the Sugar, ACC in the Orange, and Big 12 in the Fiesta.

You are correct, nevermind on my part.

http://www.collegebcs.com/bcsfaq.html#BowlOrder

So, I suppose if LSU wins -- barring a miracle where they still get to the championship game -- they will be headed to the Sugar Bowl to face an undetermined team. I wonder who that will be? It's going to be an at-large team, and as crazy as this year has been, that could run the gauntlet from Hawai'i to USC.

I would, however, love to see USC play LSU, especially considering that USC has seemingly gotten it together again. It would shut some people up from 2003, at least.

74
by NewsTom (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 5:01am

Ok, the ASU loss to USC yesterday ruined my tOSU-ASU BCS CG dream, so I have another nightmare scenario. Let's say the following happens:

1. Kansas loses to Mizzou
2. OU beats Mizzou in the B12 CG with a healthy Sam Bradford
3. WVU loses 1+ of their last 2 games

Your 1-loss teams now would be tOSU and a Kansas team that didn't even win its division and has nary an impressive win. Do you put Kansas in their against tOSU? An unbeaten Hawaii, with an even worse schedule? Or do you pick one of the 2-loss teams-if Tennessee beats LSU in the SEC CG, could Georgia make the BCS CG? Do you pick Oklahoma-with if Stoops holds Bradford out and they lose to OkSU, then beat Mizzou? OU can't possibly be the pick then, can it? Does LSU make it if they still win the SEC? What about a resurgent USC-can a team that loses to Stanford really play for the national championship? If Oregon manages to win out (not crazy, since neither UCLA nor OrSU is that great), do you put them in against tOSU since they win the Pac-10 due to the USC win, even though they're not the same team since Dixon went out?

The neat thing about this all is BCS adjustments have left the voters with an awful lot of control over who plays in the BCS CG, and the lesson of last year was the voters realize this. So, who'll rule the roost if the year ends in chaos?

75
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:14am

#72 and 73: Awesome breakdown of why Hester is toting the rock so much, and that has to be exactly why. That was PFP-worthy right there.

But if you think an LSU-USC bowl game is going to shut people up you're mistaken. The losing team's fans will only cry that this year is not 2003 and so the game doesn't count. This especially applies to whoever team's fans talk the most smack about 2003 *before* the game.

#74: Whoever doesn't get picked to play for the title under that scenario would honestly have no right to complain, that's the one good thing about it. At that point I believe everyone involved would just throw their hands up in the air in exasperation and accept whoever the teams were.

76
by Will (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 7:25am

75 - 100% agree. Why would the 2008 Rose Bowl settle the national championship of 2003?

What happens if Oregon loses another game? No BCS bowl wants to see Oregon without Dixon, so they're going to get the shaft *again*.

If Georgia, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, and UCLA are your conference winners, then what? Hawaii? Ewww.

77
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:03am

Anyone think Les Miles has the potential to be the Big Ten's next John Cooper? Awesome recruiter but give the other team some talent and a solid coach and he's in over his head kind of guy.

'Ol Sweatervest has his el stupido moments but as a Big 10 bystander I think JT eats this guy's lunch in the game coaching aspect. And OSU has a few players themselves.

Not that I would exactly have to choke back tears to see Michigan chase the heir apparent only to see said prodigal son throw up all over the program. Yeah. Big boo-hoo there.

By the way, I am digging tonight's game. I like fresh faces. No Big Ten, no SEC, no USC in a big game at the end is OK by me.

78
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:05am

#74: I see Oregon losing another game, since UCLA is the most bipolar team in the nation it seems, and Oregon has to play there on the road, and then Oregon State will come into Eugene on a 5-1 streak (only loss at USC) now that their QB's have learned how to play this year. Winning at Autzen has been impossible for OSU in recent memory (I think early 90's was the last time, when we were running a wishbone offense), but unless Leaf looks a ton better than he did last week, Oregon could easily lose both games left and fall to 4th in the Pac 10 standings.

79
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:25pm

42- (responding to my own post)

After thinking about it, I realize that we're two likely wins away (WVU today, OU next week) from having a controversy-free #1 vs #2 for the National Championship.

80
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 2:56pm

My guess on the "nightmare scenario" is that it's 1)Georgia if they win the SEC championship game, 2)Kansas if they played Missouri close, 3)Oklahoma. But it's only a guess.

OK, Bowl Bubble Update: I'm now assuming Hawaii will make a BCS bowl, which means that the Nevada/Louisiana tech winner will get the 3rd WAC tie-in, so there are now 67 teams that are or definitely will be eligible, and 64 slots.

Right now, the teams left out would be Northwestern, TCU and Ball State. But TCU and Ball State are both likely to win today, so I would say the teams left out are Iowa, South Carolina, and Northwestern. If the Gamecocks win today, that spot goes to Alabama if they lose to Auburn, otherwise to Ball State.

So what I know is, Northwestern's out. (Click the link for a longer breakdown over at SMQB if you are interested.)

81
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:41pm

Man, it would be nice if BC could win today and keep Miami from being bowl-eligible. I have no faith in BC to pull it off, but it would be nice.

82
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 3:56pm

Come on Ole Miss why fire Coach O? He was an awesome recruiter. Arkansas is about to do the same thing Ole Miss did if they fire Houston Nutt, try to be something they are not.

83
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:06pm

82- I agree that Orgeron deserved another year, which could have paid off for Ole Miss. Considering that Org was in the process of finalizing his best recruiting season yet, and that Kentucky and Mississippi State truend the corner during their coches' fourth year.

Nebraska fires Bill Callahan- I wonder if this search for a coach will turn into a similar calamity Big Red endured four years ago. My guess is that it won't- Osborne will aim low and go for a "Nebraska Man" like Turner Gill or Craig Nall.

On the other side of the coin, Texas A & M looks to be doing exactly what Nebraska did in 2003. They want a splashy, big-name hire, but A & M might be the toughest job in the nation, as the Aggies simply expect too much.

If I were running Auburn, LSU, or A & M and needed a new coach, you know who I'd go after? Dennis Erickson. ASU is having it's best season in a decade, he did an awesome job taking over for Johnson at Miami, and he raised Oregon State from the dead into a BCS bowl.

84
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 4:38pm

half of those players for Coach O would not qualify at any rate. If they could somehow combine Cutliffe's coaching ability and Coach O's ability to give scholarships to any human alive.

I wonder if Coach O goes back to USC now or even Miami.

85
by PHn (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 5:03pm

#78:

Brady Leaf certainly isn't Dixon, but last week is not a good basis for judgment because

1. Dixon got the reps in practice leading up to the game,

2. The coaching staff was still planning for a Dixon-led spread option,

3. Leaf was playing on a badly sprained ankle.

Today, with a full week of practice with the first team, a game plan that plays to Leaf's strengths, and a slightly less gimpy ankle, Leaf should be in better shape. UCLA still may win, but it'll provide a better glimpse into Leaf's abilities than the Arizona game.

86
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 5:04pm

Kentucky looks like trash out there, it should be Tennessee-LSU in the SEC Championship. I am not sure who wins, LSU will play down from its talent level and Tennessee is up and down every Saturday.

87
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:08pm

Very nice touch pass by Ryan over the linebacker. This followed a solid out pattern across the field. On those two you can see why football folks are so positive on the guy.

88
by peachy (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:14pm

re : 83 - As a fan of an SEC team with a firmly settled coaching situation, I would love to see Erickson join the conference. He'd give some lucky team two brilliant years before the legions of trench-coated enforcement types descended to kick off a decade of probation.

89
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:14pm

I still think Randy Shannon was the right hire for Miami despite this season being so terrible

90
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:30pm

#85: Except that Oregon gave over half the reps to Leaf leading up to the Arizona game, since they knew that Dixon was playing on a torn ACL and had to be ready for him to go out at any moment. Since they had two full weeks off before that game to get him, and the team, ready, I would be pretty worried if I was an Oregon fan. If his ankle is bad, he obviously can't run the spread option that well, and the backup is a freshman I believe.

91
by Russell Levine :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:30pm

Just realized that while the table said I picked Arkansas, on the podcast I said LSU. That's been changed. That's what I get for changing my mind at the last second.

92
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:42pm

I relish a college football world where Notre Dame stinks, Miami struggles and Michigan is in flux.

Good times......

93
by MRH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 6:59pm

For a good background piece on the last significant Mizzou-Kansas game, and why KU claims to lead the series 54-52-9 and Missouri says its 53-53-9, see today's Posnanski column in the KC Star (link below).

94
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 7:17pm

Wow. The UCLA "quarterback" is awful. I forgot that UCLA is also on its 3rd string quarterback, who at the beginning of the year was a wide receiver.

95
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 7:24pm

After one quarter, Oregon has 70 total yards.

UCLA has -3 total yards on 15 plays.

UCLA, however, is winning 3-0. Ugh.

96
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 7:31pm

The UCLA quarterback is now 0/4 with 3 sacks and an interception.

Just ask the lucky fan in Section 117, Row Q, seat 5 to come down and put on a uniform. They couldn't possibly be worse. I don't even like UCLA, but this is beyond putrid QB play.

97
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:27pm

Go for it, Kentucky! Maximize your chances of winning!

98
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:29pm

OK let us count the ways.

At halftime, UCLA is up 6-0.

UCLA's quarterback, Omaar Rasshan, is 0/7, with one interception.

Oregon started the day with Brady Leaf, who was 4/11 for 46 yards, when he was injured, and replaced by someone named Cody Kempt, who is 1/8 for 5 yards and an interception.

This is really just...awful.

99
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:32pm

Kentucky, down three with one second remaining, has the ball at Tennessee's one-yard line. Kentucky chooses to kick a field goal and send it to overtime rather than go for the TD. Will coaches never learn?

100
by Weekly Journalist (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:38pm

oh goody, another ridiculous college OT.

101
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:42pm

Notre Dame just had an insane multi-lateral Cal/Stanford-type interception return for a touchdown...

That was called back due to a stupid penalty on a Notre Dame player.

102
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:42pm

Gerald Jones did not catch that ball. The evidence was indisputable. Bad job by the on-field officials, and bad job by the replay officials.

103
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:44pm

#99

If Kentucky had a power RB then I can understand...

and I wish those refs were watching the LSU-Alabama game if that was a catch for Tennessee.

104
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:46pm

100- You can't be serious.

105
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:50pm

SEC has written that everyone of their games be close or else.

Kentucky played too timid for the field goal on that one.

uh Georgia is playing a game, not around their TVs...

106
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:51pm

Wow. Kentucky, only needing a field goal to win it in the second overtime, has it blocked. Eek!

107
by CA (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:51pm

Fouls are disregarded after a change in possession in overtime? That rule seems ripe for abuse.

108
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:52pm

Georgia Tech is apparently cursed to never beat Georgia.

109
by Weekly Journalist (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:52pm

Can't they move the offenses back a bit? scoring is too easy.

110
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:55pm

Hahaha. Hilarious moment in the Georgia/Georgia Tech game.

Georgia throws a screen pass, which is ruled a lateral, and it is fumbled. Georgia Tech recovers and goes for the scoop-and-score. At the 3 or so yard line, the player is tackled, and tries to stretch the ball across the line - they fumble, and it goes out the back of the end zone.

Because the ball was officially in Georgia Tech's possession when it was fumbled, and it went out the back of the end zone, it's considered a touchback, and Georgia gets the ball, 1st and 10, on the 20. Amazing.

111
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:59pm

Anyone else just see that replay in Notre Dame/Stanford?

Notre Dame had a long pass to the end zone, and a diving player catches it, it looked like the player got a hand under it.

It goes to replay, and is overruled, the referee saying the ball hit the ground. But I couldn't see any indisputable video evidence that it hit the ground.

Pac-10 replay officials are terrible this year.

112
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 8:59pm

On the Orgeron fire...

I'm a bit torn. Yes he recruited very well on paper, but a lot of his better recruits have never played for Ole Miss because of terrible academics. The recruiting wasn't as good as it seemed once you factor out the non-qualifiers. Moreover, this team is even worse than it was when he inherited it in terms of on-field results. 0-8 in the SEC, considering how much of a down year it is for the conference, is simply inexcusable. In my eyes it is clear that Orgeron did nothing to justify keeping his job.

On the other hand, it's hard to say it was a good move to fire him. Ole Miss is a small school with a small athletic budget and poor facilities. When you factor out the Vaught years, Ole Miss has won less than half of its games all-time. So, obviously it's not a very good job, and though they have a decent amount of talent on the roster at the moment, no one is going to be knocking down the door to come to Oxford. It's highly unlikely that they'll be able to hire a good, proven coach, and the odds are that they will have to make yet another very risky hire on a wholly unproven coach.

Either way, I predict we will be having this same discussion regarding the Rebels, just with different names, four or five years from now.

113
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:01pm

They are talking about Art Briles to Ole Miss. I think that might be a smart move especially Snead at QB.

114
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:04pm

Kentucky decides to never play defense ever again apparently. that was embarrassing.

115
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:05pm

Smooth, Kentucky. Tennessee moves back to the 40 due to penalties and you allow a 40 yard TD pass on the first play, and a successful 2-point conversion.

116
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:08pm

They are talking about Art Briles to Ole Miss. I think that might be a smart move especially Snead at QB.

I think the big question would be if Briles would go. Again, Ole Miss isn't a particularly good job, and Briles could probably do a bit better if he continues to do well at Houston.

Snead seemingly has the ability to do well in Briles' system, but that guy's system is ridiculously complex and it may take a while to get going.

I will say this though: If Briles would come to Oxford, Ole Miss better snag him up as soon as they possibly can. He's a proven winner and his offense is hell to defend, it's definitely much better than hiring somebody's defensive line coach.

117
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:11pm

oh and I agree. Ole Miss is not a job that is going to be a place where people are trying to grab actively, same with Arkansas who seem to be shooting for the stars and will most likely end up if a lesser choice if they decide to fire Nutt.

118
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:11pm

Tebow deserves the Heisman. Sorry, Darren McFadden, but it's not even close.

119
by Michael David Smith :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:11pm

I'm enjoying Kentucky-Tennessee, but if I were a Florida fan I'd be furious that I was missing the first half. College football and the networks that televise it need to do a better job of scheduling games so that fans can see all of them.

120
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:13pm

3 Heisman finalist for sure right now: Tebow, Pat White, and McFadden.

121
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:16pm

Tebow deserves the Heisman, but I'm not convinced the Heisman voters are willing to give it to a sophomore, deserve or no. They often think "That guy can get it next year."

122
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:18pm

Tennessee is so lucky this season. A fumble against South Carolina that goes 10 yards forward and bounces off a south carolina defender back to Tennessee. This Kentucky game they had some great breaks. LSU-Tennessee: where luck lucks out.

123
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:18pm

Can you even fire Houston Nutt at this point?

I thought he was toast, but he went 10-4 and won the SEC West last year, and followed that up with an 8-4 season in 2006. And he also just beat the #1 team in the country in what must go down as one of the school's biggest wins ever, and McFadden is probably the favorite to win the Heisman right now.

Exactly how can you fire a guy who has got that going for him? At the very least, if they do, they'll be a laughingstock and they will not get a big-name coach, in my opinion. No top coach is coming to Fayetteville when you already have openings at Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas A&M, plus possibly a few more bigger programs.

124
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:21pm

Because Arkansas fans are delusional? I thought us Alabama fans were bad, but listening to Arkansas fans I know we cannot be the worse. Much like the Cutliffe firing at Ole Miss there is more going on then on the field performance.

125
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:21pm

Brutal helmet-to-helmet hit by Notre Dame against the Stanford QB. No call.

The announcers pointed out that if it were the NFL, such a hit would result in a stiff fine, even if the hit goes without a foul call. In college, though, referees need to make that call.

126
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:24pm

If I recall, at the beginning of this season wasn't there a group of Arkansas fans that hired an investigator and submitted FOIA requests to look at text messages by Nutt to try and force him to resign?

I don't know what they want - it's clear that a huge collection of big-money Arkansas boosters hate Nutt, and I understand the Mustain thing may not have been handled well, and that Nutt may not exactly have treated him completely fairly - but they're going overboard.

127
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:25pm

WTF? ABC just switched away from WVU-UConn in the third quarter to show the Georgia-Georgia Tech game that has no serious implications for anything, and which is being shown on ESPN2 anyway. Yes, the WVU-UConn game is a blowout, but, given that WVU has a reasonable chance of ending up in the national championship game, I don't know why UGA-GT is supposedly more interesting--I had the opportunity to switch to ESPN2 myself and didn't take it, why should ABC make the decision for me? Do Patriots fans lose interest in their games midway through the third quarter and switch so that they can see, e.g., Kansas City play Denver?

128
by kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:25pm

Re #119: I'm a Florida fan in Gainesville, and I'm not missing the first half. The Florida/Florida State game is being televised, they're just cutting away to highlights of Kentucky/Tennessee between plays. All in all, I'm very happy with the coverage so far.

Re #123: Can you even fire Houston Nutt at this point?

I thought he was toast, but he went 10-4 and won the SEC West last year, and followed that up with an 8-4 season in 2006. And he also just beat the #1 team in the country in what must go down as one of the school’s biggest wins ever, and McFadden is probably the favorite to win the Heisman right now.

Exactly how can you fire a guy who has got that going for him? At the very least, if they do, they’ll be a laughingstock and they will not get a big-name coach, in my opinion. No top coach is coming to Fayetteville when you already have openings at Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas A&M, plus possibly a few more bigger programs.

It's worse than that. Houston Nutt's dismissal has been 100% inevitable for a year now, ever since he lost Mustain and his OC. Arkansas fans are absolutely insane, but they're so disfunctional that they guaranteed his dismissal after a 10-4 season where the team won the SEC West. Anything less than a national championship wasn't going to save Nutt's job.

129
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:27pm

#111... I'm still going crazy over that call.

Does "indisputable evidence" have a different meaning in the PAC-10? I've never seen a ball hit the ground that didn't move.

130
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:28pm

UCLA/Oregon update...

Oregon is on its 4th string QB, having gone from Brady Leaf, to a guy named Kempt, now to a Roper.

Roper throws, is intercepted, UCLA returns to the Oregon 37. UCLA's QB (Olsen) then throws, intercepted on the 20. Oregon ball. Oregon's QB, Roper, promptly fumbles, recovering it for a loss of 8 yards, then is sacked.

UCLA is up 9-0. I'm not sure either team deserves to win.

131
by Joe (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:30pm

#119: There's only so much the networks can do with the scheduling. They can't schedule an hour padding for every game on the off chance they'll go four OTs.

132
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:30pm

Because Arkansas fans are delusional?

Bingo- they fired basketball coach Stan Heath thinking they would get Billy Gillespie or John Calipari. Suuuure they could...

Houston Nutt isn't just a good coach, he's the right coach for Arkansas.

IF they could get alum Butch Davis, it would be a good move. But Davis just signed an extension.

Re: Ole Miss, firing Cutcliffe was a surprising and terrible move. Big mistake.

133
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:31pm

I can't believe the Stanford kicker missed that. I'm predicting a 14-14 thirty-two overtime "classic" between ND and Stanford.

134
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:31pm

Re: #129

They showed what, about five different angles - not ONCE did I see the ball hit the ground.

That was a terrible overrule. You know, it shouldn't actually be that hard to be the replay official. It should, in fact, be one of the easier jobs you could have.

Simply tell yourself "Unless it's absolutely, 100% obvious that the call is wrong, do nothing." It quite obviously says there needs to be indisputable evidence. Indisputable! It isn't that hard.

Don't say "Well, maybe it moved a little." That's not indisputable. You need to see it specifically touching. All you need is something where you can point to it and say "See? The call is clear." If it's iffy, you stick with the call on the field.

Maybe it's harder than I keep thinking but if a replay official simply kept those thoughts in mind, it really would be simple.

135
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:33pm

too bad Georgia lost to Tennessee early, they are playing better now, but that is the way this season has gone. Georgia in the Rose Bowl will be fun to watch though.

136
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:41pm

If Jimmy Claussen runs out of bounds with the ball again, I will pull my hair out.

Some walk-on with Rudy's number makes an excellent special team's tackle.

137
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:43pm

Agreed on the overturned TD in the Notre Dame game. Incredible catch and it didn't look like enough evidence to reverse the on-field call.

Also, I had the sound turned down so not sure if the announcers lip-read, but didn't it look like the Tennessee receiver said "I dropped it" during the TD catch review? Yet that one held up.

Also, why did Brooks call three straight running plays to set up a relatively long GW FG attempt in the second OT. Did he have that much faith in his kicker? Tennessee hadn't stopped Kentucky in forever at that point, so why not take advantage of your momentum and call a pass play or two to move into chip shot FG range?

138
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 9:46pm

I'm a Tennessee fan, and for the first time this year I don't see a trip to the SEC Championship as a death sentence. LSU is an excellent team and they'll be favored, but that's a winnable game for the Vols.

139
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 10:03pm

After watching Oregon just turn into a totally inept team since Dixon went out, shouldn't he at least still get invited to NYC? I fully expect Tebow to win, and even before Dixon got hurt I thought he was the best player, but I believe Oregon would be the #1 team in the nation now if Dixon was still healthy.

140
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 10:34pm

LSU is an excellent team and they’ll be favored, but that’s a winnable game for the Vols.

LSU will be favored, but honestly they have shown themselves to be nothing overly special. Your Vols, on the other hand, I have no clue how they made Atlanta. They were handily beaten by a 6-5 California team, annihilated by a 9-3 Florida team, and then were blown out by a 6-5 Alabama team. You also have to include squeaker wins in overtime against 6-5 South Carolina and 7-5 Kentucky, plus needing a 15 point rally and a field goal attempt to bounce off the upright to beat a 5-7 Vanderbilt team, in Knoxville.

I know that LSU hasn't played particularly well since annihilating Virginia Tech way back in early September, but the harsh truth is that if you guys play anywhere near the way you did in the aforementioned six games, LSU is going to cake-walk to the SEC Championship.

You guys may win it, especially if you play like you did against Georgia or Arkansas, but I'll be honest, LSU has to be salivating at the thought of getting UT. I imagine they are very relieved that UGA is not heading to Atlanta.

141
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 10:38pm

Bowl Bubble Update:

With UCLA and Ohio's victories, the number of bowl-eligible teams is up to 69, but UCLA will take one of the at-large spots that was available. However, Kansas State's loss to Fresno State means that the Big 12 will not fill all it's spots, since it will have 2 teams in the BCS, so there is a definite at-large spot in the Texas Bowl. There will be a second at-large spot unless Arizona beats Arizona State next week.

With Ball State winning, there are at least 2 at-large teams with 7 wins, the other one from the Big 10 (probably Purdue), so no 6-6 team will get an at-large berth. That eliminates Ohio, Northwestern and Iowa.

The other 2 teams that would be on the outside right now are TCU and South Carolina, who both still have a game to play. A TCU win would bump out Ball State. A South Carolina win would bump out Alabama from a conference tie-in, unless Alabama wins as well, which would move a 7-5 SEC team into an at-large and bump out Ball State (& TCU if they won, but see below).

(Note: For a couple of reasons, if TCU gets to 7-5, they'll get the 4th Mountain West tie-in, and New Mexico would get the at-large. So if that 2nd at-large isn't available for any reason, New Mexico would get screwed even though they could wind up 8-4.)

142
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 10:48pm

the only solution to that problem is more bowl games it looks like.

143
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:27pm

Auburn is mauling Alabama upfront. It's going to be a long night if the Tide DL doesn't suddenly get a lot better.

144
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:30pm

Just run away from Gilberry that is all Auburn is doing.

145
by Harris (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:59pm

Gift TD for 'Bama. How long does a guy get to keep pushing after the play is blown dead?

146
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sat, 11/24/2007 - 11:59pm

now we need the defense to make stops!!!!

147
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:00am

tell me when the whistle was blown?

148
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:04am

Kansas looks like a team that's being tested for the first time all year. Wait, that's because they ARE being tested for the first time all year.

149
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:13am

Army-Navy is a nice story but do football fans really care?

150
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:28am

Re: Ole Miss

That isn't a top 25 job, but it's a BCS conference position and it's better than MSU and Vandy in the SEC. You find a way to win 9 games there and move on to seriously green pastures. I find it hard to believe any coach with any ambition would take the Houston position over Ole Miss. Money also plays a factor there as well.

I completely agree with the poster who thought the Cutcliffe firing was a bad idea. The single worst firing of the past 10 years in college football.

151
by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:36am

#147 That typically happens before the line judge comes in to mark the ball, but Wilson kept driving long after the refs entered the frame. I give the guy credit, but he was down short of the endzone.

152
by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:40am

Army-Navy? I love Army-Navy. There is no more important game in any sport than Army-Navy. Lionsbob, why do you hate America?

(Good grief, man. Don't you know they're listening?)

153
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:45am

Go Navy! Beat Army!

So far, so good at Arrowhead. I'm cautiously optimistic.

154
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:53am

Shades of Ben Dreith in today's NC State-Maryland game from the ref. Click on my name for the link.

155
by hooper (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:58am

Re: 140

In Tennessee's first two losses (Cal and Florida), Ainge had the broken pinky and had a lot of passes float on him. When that healed, the passing game improved dramatically - until the receivers forgot how to catch the ball in he last couple weeks, of course. Additionally, Cal was playing far, far better football at the beginning of the season than at the end. During the couple of hours before their first loss, when everything seemed to point to them becoming #1 in the nation, nobody had any problem declaring them one of the elite teams of the year. The mediocrity of Cal's record does not reflect the Cal team that beat Tennessee (a margin of victory that can be attributed to two plays - the sack/fumble/TD return on Tennessee's opening drive, and the punt/return TD later on). Otherwise, Tennessee played toe-to-toe with Cal in that game.

The Florida loss was, to a minor degree, a function of Ainge's reduced throwing ability (particularly the third down interception) but was, to a very significant degree, a function of Tennessee's tendency to go flat on defense in the second half (just like SC, and Kentucky).

The Alabama loss was the truly inexcusable slip-up. UT should have at least been competitive in that one, and never really showed up to play.

UT's faults are:

- poor kick coverage

- lethargic second half defense

- questionable play calling (e.g. first down is almost always a dump-off pass, despite a solid running game)

- young receivers who occasionally get a bad case of the drops (like in today's second half)

All in all, it's not a good outlook for the Vols against LSU. But, UT has played a little better than people tend to state (especially Florida, Alabama, and Georgia fans this year).

156
by hooper (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 1:09am

If Missouri wins, I really hope they beat OU for the Big 12 title. Missouri/West Virginia could be a very, very exciting game. That is one fast, energetic team.

157
by Eric J (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 1:15am

It's certainly no guaranteed win for OU, as a few of the posters here seem to think... OU won the previous meeting by 10; it was really more like 14, since they somehow blew 4 consecutive extra points during the game (missed, missed 2 point, missed 2 point, blocked). OU had a fumble recovery TD; Missouri had a garbage time TD at the end. Since that game, Mizzou's starting RB has gotten healthy, while OU's best back and best pass rusher have picked up injuries (not sure on either one's status for the game next week). Plus, this one's not in Norman. Should be a good one, assuming current results hold up.

158
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 1:28am

I miss Javier Arenas

159
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 1:49am

Watched UK-Tenn with a buddy. I think the best moment of the game when before or after one of the OTs when all the officials were lined up... the field judge was right next to the umpire... so it looked like a Zebra huddle with F-U facing the camera... just about the perfectly framed shot.

I'll have to say the replay officials were smoking something in all the games I watched. UT WR definately did not make that amazing stretch out catch. Amazing game, but UK coach butchered the end of the game, as well as the 2OT period.

ND-Stanford was also interesting... Jim Harbaugh is an idiot... ESPN must've replayed the hit on the Stanford QB about 10 times... and he actually put the guy back in when the 2nd stringer got hurt.

160
by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:11am

A State Police dog just bit one of the Auburn CBs. Clearly those Alabama police dogs have retained the spirt of Birmingham. Watch out for the fire hoses, boys.

161
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:15am

they should have bit that ref that called a terrible roughing the passer for Auburn.

162
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:16am

Kansas and Missouri is now a game, as opposed to a blowout.

Winner is #1 tomorrow. Kansas #1, Missouri #1.

WILD.

163
by MRH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:20am

Army-Navy is a nice story but do football fans really care?

Of course not. Who wants to watch student-athletes play football?

164
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:42am

they should have bit that ref that called a terrible roughing the passer for Auburn.

Disagree. I thought it was an incorrect call on the play, but Saunders was an idiot for even being close to him. You have to know, as a senior, that even if you breathe on him wrong that Cox will play like he was just shot and considering it was in front of the Auburn bench, there is a good shot you get the flag.

I think the call by the ref was wrong, but Saunders is the one who should have been blamed. He should have never been in a position to make that call even a possibility.

That was the back-breaker.

165
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:50am

I find it hard to believe any coach with any ambition would take the Houston position over Ole Miss. Money also plays a factor there as well.

That's not exactly what I meant. I meant that, if Briles stayed at Houston for another year or two and continued to do well, he could probably get a better job offer than Ole Miss. I did not mean that Houston is a better job. Obviously, for a variety of factors, the Ole Miss job is much better than the Houston job.

166
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:51am

Wow- if you beleive in Mizzou, you beleive Kansas is only eight points lesser on a TRULY neutral field.

KU proved more by losing close to a good team than they have winning all this season.

Missouri...#1. WOW.

167
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:53am

Bowl Bubble Update:

There are now 71 bowl-eligible teams, counting the Nevada/Louisiana Tech winner.

The at-large spots are predicted to go to Purdue and New Mexico. The Lobos will be out if Arizona wins next week.

Bubbles Popped: Ball State, Northwestern, Ohio, Iowa, South Carolina*, Louisiana-Monroe, Florida Atlantic**. Louisville can still become bowl-eligible but cannot get a spot.

(*Assuming Alabama is the choice for the last SEC spot)
(**Can still win the Sun Belt by beating Troy next week)

168
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:01am

Alabama is going to be done playing football at the end of October from now on.

169
by Bill (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:32am

166 - Eight points better/lesser? That game (despite the score) wasn't *that* close.

170
by kibbles (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:44am

Re #155: All in all, it’s not a good outlook for the Vols against LSU. But, UT has played a little better than people tend to state (especially Florida, Alabama, and Georgia fans this year).

Maybe, but Tennessee is still just the third-best team in the SEC East.

Re #169: 166 - Eight points better/lesser? That game (despite the score) wasn’t *that* close.

I also question the classification of Arrowhead as a "TRULY neutral field" when Kansas distributed more than 70% of the tickets.

171
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 4:05am

I completely agree with the poster who thought the Cutcliffe firing was a bad idea. The single worst firing of the past 10 years in college football.

I don't agree with that.

Keep in mind I thought it was a bad move when they fired Cutcliffe, but it wasn't that bad of a move. Cutcliffe had some pretty good teams in his first five years in Oxford, but he went 4-8 in 2004 and he was so terrible in recruiting that he wasn't going to have much success. I, personally, wouldn't have fired him at that time, but with so little talent on the roster, the writing was on the wall for the Rebels. Those who think Cutcliffe was going to continue his success from 1999-2003 had he not been fired are likely sorely mistaken. Given the terrible talent level, the struggles of the 2004 season were almost certainly going to continue.

Firing Cutcliffe wasn't that bad of a move. The terrible part was hiring Orgeron. Had the Rebs hired an even semi-competent coach / recruiter, firing Cutcliffe wouldn't be an issue today.

172
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:45pm

Maybe, but Tennessee is still just the third-best team in the SEC East.

**** like this drives me up the wall. UT beat every other team in the East- including a blowout vs Georgia- except for Florida, which lost three conference games.

Tennessee delivered the mail while Florida and Georgia pissed in the snow. Thus, UT plays for the SEC Championship in six days.

173
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 12:50pm

I completely agree with the poster who thought the Cutcliffe firing was a bad idea. The single worst firing of the past 10 years in college football.

Worst firing in ten years? That would be Washington firing Rick Neuheisel. Hard to beleive that Washington was a national power not too long ago.

Yes, Cut went 4 - 8 in 2004. That was his only losing season in six years at Ole Miss, and one year after a 10 win season.

Ole Miss is getting what it deserves.

174
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 2:46pm

Yeah Tennessee sure did deliver by avoiding LSU and Auburn in the SEC West.

But you are right Tennessee had every chance to lose against South Carolina, Vandy, and Kentucky and pulled out wins therefore they are in the SEC championship with a chance to prove a lot of naysayers wrong.

I thought Neuheisel was fired because of off-the-field issues?

175
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:22pm

171:

Cutcliffe spent 6 years at Ole Miss, the first five of which were winning seasons. In his 5th season he went 10-3 with a 3 point loss to national champion LSU. They fell to 4-7 in 2004 in what was a rebuilding year. You say recruiting had fallen off (based on what, I have no idea), but he recruited all of the kids on the 10-3 team so it's not like he just took Tuberville's kids and made them better. How much better could that program be than the Cutcliffe years? There's a ceiling there somewhere and Cutcliffe was pretty close to it.

173, 174:

Neuheisel was fired for participating in a high stakes gambling pool for which he was later exonerated. He also managed to put Washington on probation for a number of years for a bunch of minor violations. Some of UW's on-the-field issues are the legacy of the Neuheisel era. Washington fired him because they were tired of his bullshit.

176
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:27pm

174- I agree that Tennessee benefitted from not having LSU on the schedule. Then again, they played three pretty good teams from the west.

Neuheisel was fired for participating in an NCAA basketball pool, and a court found that he was wrongfully terminated. UW was a national power the day Neuheisel was fired, and has plummeted since.

My Meaningless Top 25:

1. Missouri
2. Ohio State
3. West Virginia
4. LSU
5. Georgia
6. Boston College
7. Southern Cal
8. Virginia Tech
9. Oklahoma
10. Arizona State
11. Kansas
12. Florida
13. Tennessee
14. Illinois
15. Cincinnati
16. Clemson
17. South Florida
18. Wisconsin
19. Texas
20. Oregon
21. Hawaii
22. BYU
23. Virginia
24. UConn
25. Auburn

177
by Woz (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 3:48pm

@169: Something to consider: Kansas' kicker left 6 points on the field (doinked the first FG, and pulled the second way left). If they make those, that safety is the margin of the game. If you include the fact that nice INT the Mizzou guy got on "the 2 yard line" (you mean to tell me that he could have stopped his flight and NOT gone into the end zone? This isn't video game physics folks), they could have at least 9 more points.

178
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 5:07pm

Cutcliffe spent 6 years at Ole Miss, the first five of which were winning seasons. In his 5th season he went 10-3 with a 3 point loss to national champion LSU. They fell to 4-7 in 2004 in what was a rebuilding year. You say recruiting had fallen off (based on what, I have no idea), but he recruited all of the kids on the 10-3 team so it’s not like he just took Tuberville’s kids and made them better. How much better could that program be than the Cutcliffe years? There’s a ceiling there somewhere and Cutcliffe was pretty close to it.

You bring up 2003, and the narrow loss to LSU. When speaking of 2003, though, you failed to mention the losses to mediocre-at-best Texas Tech and Memphis, the should-be loss to 8-5 Auburn had Obamanu caught the easiest pass of his life, coming this close to choking a 29-point lead at home to 5-7 South Carolina, and needing a come-from-behind touchdown to beat 8-5 Florida with 70 seconds left to play. The 2003 season actually demonstrated quite a bit about the Cutcliffe era: an inability to beat truly good teams, and major struggles to beat mediocre-at-best teams.

One of the major keys to Ole Miss racking up 10 wins in 2003 was a very soft schedule. Two of those wins came against non-BCS conference teams, six wins came against teams with five or more losses, and the other two wins came against four-loss teams. LSU was the only team they played all year with fewer than four losses. How often does that happen in a conference like the SEC? Not very. By comparison, Ole Miss faced four teams with fewer than four losses this year.

As for recruiting, it was obvious when you looked at the roster. It showed in 2004, and the outlook was bleak for the future. Despite having his pedigree as an offensive guru, Cutcliffe had no talent whatsoever assembled on the offensive side of the ball when he was fired. There were no even semi-competent quarterbacks, no talented tailbacks, no decent wide receivers, and the offensive line -- honestly the best unit they had -- was nothing special. Cutcliffe was / is a good offensive mind, but he had gotten himself into a situation where he did not have anywhere near the talent to do well, hence why they finished 103rd in the nation in scoring offense in 2004.

There was a reason why for two years in a row Ole Miss was playing more freshmen than any other team in the country, and it wasn't because Cutcliffe left the cupboard loaded. Nearly every decent-to-good player that Orgeron had at Ole Miss was one of his recruits. Think about it... Schaeffer / Adams, Green-Ellis, Oher, Johnson, Hardy, Wallace, Hodge, etc. All Orgeron recruits, despite him being at Ole Miss for such a short period of time.

Again, though I wouldn't have fired Cutcliffe at the end of the 2004 season, the writing was on the wall that the future for Ole Miss was going to be a lot more like 2004 than 1999-2003.

179
by PaulH (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 5:18pm

Left out a part in the above...

Obviously the glaring exception to the cupboard being bare was Patrick Willis. It goes without saying that Orgeron inherited a stud when he took him over.

Aside from him though...

180
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Sun, 11/25/2007 - 6:43pm

the writing was on the wall that the future for Ole Miss was going to be a lot more like 2004 than 1999-2003.

And so far it's been even worse.

181
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 12:45am

I'm far more happy and excited than any rational person should be in seeing the depth of the Rebels and Vols discussions here, almost as much talk here as in my local paper (and I live in west Tennessee, smack dab in the heart of Vol Nation and also a stone's throw away from Oxford).

#173: Right AWN brutha!!! Cutcliffe was SEC Coach Of The Year and fired the next, and some people want to call ORGERON'S canning unfair? What?! The guy was 6-0 against 1AA tams and Memphis (three wins by 4, 3 and 2 points) and 4-25 against everyone else. And one of those four was over LA Tech this year. He somehow didn;t seem to mind when his players committed felonies but would throw the book at players like Greg Hardy right after he had the game of his life for mysterious, nebulous violations of "team rules". He ran off half his recruits by bullying and seemed to make the other half switch positions every week in spring ball and sometimes beyond. Coach O was a meathead, the guy in high school who stuffed people in lockers and gave them atomic wedgies, only grown up.

Oh, and I'm just SO glad to see the Vols take over LSU's title of Luckiest Colle Team of 2007, you have no idea. They got blown out three times, no matter how some people try to ratioalize it away (I notice said people somehow never cite the three or so games they should've easily lost). They're going to the SEC title game for just two reasons: Georgia flat-out rolled over and died for them, and they had the easiest final two games of anybody in the SEC, if not the nation. If they play *anyone* else in the SEC not named Ole Miss the last two weeks, they lose twice.

#177: That's an awfully one-sided view considering Mizzou stupidly went for a fake FG in a scoreless game on 3rd and at least ten and got stuffed, and also had a ridiculous 14 penalties to KU's two. If anything, KU got more of the breaks!

182
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 12:46am

Yikes...my keyword for this post was certainly appropriate enough considering how borderline unreadable my last post was. Sorry about that.

183
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 11:32am

178:

"The 2003 season actually demonstrated quite a bit about the Cutcliffe era: an inability to beat truly good teams, and major struggles to beat mediocre-at-best teams."

Other than the "major struggles" phrase (a win is a win), isn't that pretty close to the maximum you're going to get out of Ole Miss football? That program has always seemed like a pre-January bowl squad with some very good years (Cotton Bowl) sprinkled in with some poor years (2004).

184
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 12:26pm

Re: 181

Funny stuff. :) I don't deny that Tennessee escaped with a lot of wins that they could have easily lost. I personally feel that to be a little less luck and a little more playing down to their opponents, but the whole point is subjective and moot. They have yet to play like the team they should be, with the possible exception of the Georgia and Arkansas games. (In those games, you can argue that the opponents never showed up, or you can argue that UT played well for a change, or a bit of both. It doesn't really matter.)

At any rate, the SEC championship game has the potential to be very interesting. With UT's level of play all over the map - even in individual games - and LSU's magnificent use of timeouts, clock management, and playcalling, this has the makings of a terrifically ugly game. So, since you don't care for UT or LSU (the tactful way of phrasing it, I'm sure), you should have ample opportunity to sit back, relax, and have fun with the three (or four or five) hours of Keystone Cops that's about to ensue.

(For perspective - I'm a Rocky Mountain guy in grad school at UT, and am a generic fan of SEC football, but the sun does not rise or set on any of it. I thought about staying out of this discussion because of the deep emotions involved, but y'all needed somebody acting as devil's (de VOLs?) advocate for this week, so I'll do my best. Note the proper usage of y'all,even. I'm learning!)

185
by Weekly Journalist (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 1:20pm

How the christ can you rank Ohio State ahead of West Virginia?

186
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 3:13pm

So the lines came out today and Oklahoma is a 3 point favorite over Missouri. How can you be the #1 team in the country if the smart money doesn't think you can win a neutral site game against a quality opponent? Vegas is saying Oklahoma is the better team, and unless the line moves, the public will agree with them. So how is Missouri #1?

Interesting question then- who would Vegas put at #1? Which team wouldn't be a neutral-site underdog to anyone? Honestly, I think it comes down to LSU and USC.

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by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 3:33pm

Vegas is not in the business of predicting who the best team is, they are in the business of making money. Oklahoma is an established power with a larger fan base, Missouri is the opposite. Oklahoma beat them already head to head as well.

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by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 3:47pm

But the thing is the polls aren't exactly in the business of picking the best team either. There are too many voters who essentiall auto-rank the teams based on W-L or reputation without any context.

You say Okla is favored cuz of their established fan base. So if we always pick against the famous school we'll make money? It doesn't work that way. It's more complicated.

I'm saying that the poll voters have nothing at stake when they send in their ballots. Vegas has a lot of $ at stake when they set the lines. So their read on team strength will usually be more accurate than the poll voters.

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by David (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:20am

186:

So far, the public is backing the Tigers +3 to the tune of 65% or more, depending on what bet tracker you check.