Saturday, October 31, 2009


This might be the biggest weekend in college football this year. The slate of games includes: Florida vs. Georgia, USC at Oregon, and Texas at Oklahoma State. If the Thursday and Friday games are any indication of how this week will go all three of these games are must see. North Carolina shocked Virginia Tech 20-17, and South Florida upended West Virginia 30-19 last night. I don't know why, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Georgia is going to beat Florida. It is sort of a trap game for Florida. Although it is a rivalry game, Georgia is down this year, so the Gators might be looking past the Bulldogs or just have a false sense of security. Florida has not been playing up to par most of this year. Georgia has nothing to lose, and Florida has a lot to lose. Oregon and USC is intriguing to me because win or lose, Oregon still has a viable shot at playing in the BCS. Whereas Boise State could go undefeated, yet be on the outside looking in, even though they toppled Oregon for the second straight year. The last time these two teams met at Oregon, Oregon beat USC with redshirt sophomore quarterback Marc Sanchez. Now, USC has a true freshman at quarterback. What impact will that have? Oklahoma State is without star receiver Dez Bryant and star running back Kendall Hunter, but they have not seemed to miss a beat. The Cowboys have made it a habit to jump out to big leads early against the Longhorns, but let them stage furious comebacks and win. Maybe this year Oklahoma State will get over the hump and protect a lead. Any way you slice it, this Saturday looks to have everything we have come to expect from this great sport. Go ahead, jump into the mix by posting your comments on what you hope to see today and your reaction to it as it happens.


I have officially made it big. ESPN has found my questions important enough to include them as part of the weekly podcast with Ivan Maisel and Beano Cook. For those who don't know, Beano Cook is a walking encyclopedia regarding college football. He is from Pittsburgh, PA, and he worked many years with the University of Pittsburgh athletic department. That gave me the idea to ask through email that he justify Pitts' number 3 ranking to start the 1984 college football season, which would further validate BYU's national title that year. Well, his response was disappointing. I thought he would pull out some great facts like how many players from that team went on to play in the NFL, or that they finished 1983 really strong (similar to the way Ole Miss finished 2008 and was ranked in the top 5 earlier this year), or that a star player was injured. You can listen to it yourself to hear what he said. It is the ESPNU College Football (CFB)Podcast for 10/28. It starts at the 17:44 mark of the podcast. You can find it under the "MEDIA" section on the ESPN College Football Home page, or go to: and look for ESPNU CFB 10/28.

PERSPECTIVE: TCU or Boise State--Who should go BCS bowling?

Whether we want to admit it or not, both TCU and Boise State probably won't go to a BCS bowl game. I will be the first to say they both deserve to go if they finish undefeated, but the reality of the system is that only one will go. Ironically, Oregon could end up going as an at-large team while Boise State plays, yet again, in a lesser bowl. Therefore, the question becomes, who should go BCS bowling if both TCU and Boise State finish the year undefeated?
The answer: TCU, and it isn't even close. Consider the following facts:
  1. TCU beat Boise State last year in the Poinsettia Bowl, thus showing TCU was the better team last year, and in the absence of a head-to-head contest this year this is the best barometer of who is better this year.
  2. Boise State has had three perfect regular seasons this decade (2004, 2006, and 2008). In 2004 and 2008, Boise State did not play in BCS games. Not only did they not play in BCS games, but they LOST their bowl games (Liberty Bowl in 2004 to Louisville, 44-40, and the aforementioned Poinsettia Bowl, 17-16). These losses completely legitimized the BCS snubbing Boise State those years. They also legitimize the BCS selecting another team from a non-automatic qualifying conference instead of Boise State, even if the Broncos are undefeated.

This debate is as simple as that. We don't need to get into points per game, who beat who, etc. The two teams played each other in the last game of the year last year and TCU showed it was better then, and there is no compelling evidence that things have changed. Boise State has not proven in the past that a perfect regular season record against their schedule is a very accurate measuring stick for their ability to compete against elite competition.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


While it is still October and the month that he was born, let's go back in time to honor one of the greatest college football coaches: LaVell Edwards. LaVell Edwards coached at BYU from 1972 to 2000, and by any measure should be included in any legitimate conversation about the top college football coaches. Without him, we would have no BCS controversy today. Without him, and this is no overstatement, the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho would not exist in the football world. From 1972 to 2000 he won 257 games (far more than BYU had won since the inception of football at the school). He won 10 consecutive conference championships from 1976 to 1985. He brought a National Championship to the Inter mountain region before Florida and Florida State won their first National Championships. He brought a Heisman Trophy to the region. According to Wikipedia, Edwards "is considered the founder of the spread formation passing attack, and one of the most influential and innovative minds in college football history." He raised the level of competition to the point that his teams were regularly beating highly ranked opponents, which naturally raised the recruiting and the level of play among all the teams in the region. Edwards was well liked and respected by virtually everyone in the game.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Just as with the Top 25, it is time to narrow down this list to those who are seriously the "most outstanding players." What makes this difficult is that "outstanding" play has been rare this year. Tim Tebow is definately out. Colt McCoy, too. What I am looking at first and foremost is stats. My belief is that the Heisman Trophy winner should have gaudy statistics. However, statistics alone don't make a player "outstanding." Outstanding players make their team better, so I do consider the team's win-loss record. The year in school has no factor at all, nor does how well or poor a player has played in previous seasons. Quarterback play has not been that great this year, as indicated by only two quarterbacks on my list. (Being a good "game manager" is not "outstanding.") Running backs are having a pretty good year, but no one is on pace for the magical 2,000 yard mark. For running backs, I considered touchdowns and yards per carry, and not just the number of yards.

Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame, 26 completions 39 attempts, 246 yards, 2 TD, (150-230, 2050, 16 TD, 2 INT, 1 rush TD)

Case Keenum, Houston, 25-36, 233, 1 TD (241-344, 2734, 20 TD, 4 INT, 3 rush TD)

Noel Devine, West Virginia, 23 rush, 178 yards, 1 TD (137-912, 10 TD, 1 rec TD)

Toby Gerhart, Stanford, 27-125, 1 TD (195-994, 13 TD)

Mark Ingram, Alabama, 18-99 (153-1004, 8 TD, 3 rec TD)

Dion Lewis, Pittsburgh, 23-111, 2 TD (158-1029, 11 TD, 1 rec TD)

Jaquizz Rodgers, Oregon State, 20-113, 1 TD (1 rec TD), (148-810, 14 TD, 1 rec TD)

Ryan Matthews, Fresno State, 25-157, 2 TD (156-1131, 9 TD)

Monday, October 26, 2009

TOP 25, WEEK 8

DISCLAIMER: I am going to start with a rant about BYU’s ranking before making a synopsis of the rankings and revealing them, so if you have no interest in BYU you can skip to the next paragraph. Is anyone else as frustrated as I am about BYU right now? Will BYU ever turn the corner and earn a BCS bowl spot? Athletic Director Tom Holmoe needs to make a dominate defense the top priority in Provo. For 30 years we have had an elite offense and done quite well with it, but we never consistently have had good, solid defenses (to say nothing about great or dominate). It is time for the university that wants to help students on their “quest for perfection” to set the example in every endeavor it undertakes. A perfect football team must have both an elite offense and a dominate defense. BYU is on the verge of getting the Ohio State treatment. In 2008: blowout loss to TCU, blowout loss to Utah—the two best teams on the schedule. Now, in 2009, blowout loss to Florida State, blowout loss to TCU, and all the good that was accomplished in 2006 and 2007 has pretty much been eliminated. The Oklahoma win, although very impressive and memorable, is very much overshadowed by the two losses this year. My prediction for 2010 and beyond is that BYU will not be taken seriously by the poll voters and the national media until season’s end and only if they won the big games. A 10-2 or 11-1 record will mean little if BYU lost big or lost, even by a little, to TCU, Utah, or a marquee non-conference opponent. As for my rankings, I am boycotting ranking BYU until my final poll after bowl season. Yes, I think BYU is one of the top 20 teams in the nation, but my ire is so great right now that I am expressing it every civil way that I can.
I was going to wait for the first weekend in November to seriously rethink my rankings and revamp them to correct any pre-season bias and to account for real on the field results from a large sample size. However, with my long injury time out, now is as good a time as any. This week’s results are exactly what make this my favorite time of year in college football. We see one of two things because teams are gelling and hitting full stride: 1) unexpected blowouts as teams separate from the rest of the pack, and 2) unexpected upsets/squeakers as stakes are raised and bulls-eyes get bigger on the teams on top. Alabama has to block two field goals to beat Tennessee, Iowa State beat Nebraska, Penn State blasted Michigan, and Texas A&M went on the road and pasted Texas Tech. This is when we must be ready for the unexpected 100% of the time.
I honestly feel I have not included any bias by moving TCU to the top of the rankings. Based on the performance of every other team in the country, I feel that TCU can and would win in a match up against anyone. This is not based on fancy formulas or sophisticated statistical manipulation. I base it on performance on the field. Alabama struggled against South Carolina and Tennessee the last two weeks. Texas looked bad against Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Florida was vulnerable against Mississippi State, LSU, and Tennessee. Boise State barely escaped with a win against Tulsa and was not impressive against UC Davis. Iowa plays with fire almost every week. Cincinnati is the only team you cannot complain about, and their cause is boosted since they have continued to play well the last two games without their starting quarterback. In the end it was a judgment call between TCU and Cincinnati and my verdict was in favor of TCU.

1. TCU (7-0)

2. Cincinnati (7-0)

3. Alabama (8-0)

4. Texas (7-0)

5. Florida (7-0)

6. Boise State (6-0)

7. Iowa (8-0)

8. USC (6-1)

9. Oregon (6-1)

10. Penn State (7-1)

11. Georgia Tech (7-1)

12. LSU (6-1)

13. Houston (6-1)

14. Pittsburg (7-1)

15. Utah (6-1)

16. Oklahoma State (6-1)

17. West Virginia (6-1)

18. Central Michigan (7-1)

19. Virginia Tech (5-2)

20. Ohio State (6-2)

21. Miami (FL) (5-2)

22. South Carolina (6-2)

23. Navy (6-2)

24. Notre Dame (5-2)

25. Cal (5-2)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Arizona, Kansas, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Ole Miss

Saturday, October 24, 2009


What a weekend this is. Miami (FL) fans are also BYU fans today, but BYU fans are Clemson fans today. Miami plays Clemson, who lost to TCU in September. BYU plays TCU, who is ranked above Miami. If Miami is to move into contention for the title game, TCU must lose. If BYU beats TCU, then BYU needs TCU's opponents to appear as good as possible to strengthen its cause. Isn't college football great!!! Go ahead and comment on what you desire about this weekend, what happens during the games today, and how you feel about the outcomes.


This game has been circled for months; now it is time to play ball. BYU vs. TCU is starting to become a nice Mountain West Conference (MWC) rivalry. Hopefully these two teams continue to play around this same time of year, and maybe one day this match-up will be considered on the same plane as the Oklahoma-Texas Red River Rivalry. The absense of other marquee match-ups this week has allowed this year's game to receive substantial national attention. I don't want to dwell on the basic discussion points that are all over the internet. I want to offer my original viewpoints. BYU should roll out Max Hall often to avoid the rush. He is an excellent thrower on the run and TCU will wear down chasing after him all game long. BYU should use the no huddle a lot. The no huddle and the roll outs will make it easier for Harvey Unga to run and have a big day. The defense needs to get the adrenaline flowing and play the way they did against Oklahoma. As they showed against the Sooners, they can be physical in the middle and have enough quickness to prevent teams from getting around the corner. Having lost so bad last year should help the Cougars, and might even cause this game to mirror the shock that TCU gave the nation last year.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The University of Miami (FL) won the national championship in 2001 with a perfect record. They nearly repeated the championship and the perfect record in 2002. Their only loss was due to a controversial call in the national championship game against Ohio State. As the 2003 season opened, all the prognosticators were still gushing about how good Miami was and that they were legitimate national championship game material. Miami played Louisiana Tech in the first game of the season, and won 48-9. I watched this game and heard the TV analysts repeat what they were saying before the game: "Miami is going to challenge for the national championship." I sat there and wondered if they had just watched the same game that I had watched. I knew right then and there that Miami was not going to be in the national championship discussion at the end of the year. Sure enough, Miami lost two consecutive games November 1 and 8, and was barely ranked in the top 10 heading into bowl season.
What did I see that those TV analysts and the other "experts" did not see? I saw the "True Score" of the Miami-Louisiana Tech game. Twenty-one of Miami's 48 points came from a punt return for a touchdown, a defensive fumble return for a touchdown, and an interception return for a touchdown. That means that the Miami offense accounted for 27 points. The "True Score" for this game was 27-9. Legitimate national championship contenders score 60+ points against a team like Louisiana Tech when they have a special teams and two defensive touchdowns. On the surface, 48-9 looked impressive, but the "True Score" revealed that the Miami offense had some major issues that were later exposed when they lost 31-7 to Virginia Tech, and 10-6 to Tennessee.
Texas is a team this year that does not fair well with the "True Score" test. They beat Colorado 38-14 two weeks ago. On the surface, a 24 point win over a conference foe is admirable. However, Texas was only winning 17-14 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter when the defense returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown. Subsequently, Texas scored on a punt return with 12:29 to play in the fourth quarter. Factor out these two scores and Texas won by a "True Score" of only 24-14. I know I am not unique in saying this, but keep your eyes open; Texas will be lucky to go undefeated this year.
To clarify, the "True Score" works by taking out scores that occur a low percentage of the time. Defensive and special teams scores are rare. Hail Mary and other long pass plays, as well as scores off of trick plays, also qualify for elimination from the score when calculating the "True Score." This does not mean that the points that teams get from these scores are illegitimate. Points are points no matter how they come, and wins still are wins if you beat the other team with one of these plays. The purpose of the "True Score" is to help you properly evaluate a teams performance and predict results over the course of a year. As I said, these are scoring plays that do not happen often. You can't count on a touchdown off of a kick return every game. The offense has to be able to sustain drives down the field and score touchdowns on a regular basis if you expect to have a high winning percentage or to go undefeated.


I am finally coming off the injured reserve list. (Not a bad weekend to do it--BYU vs. TCU.) Hopefully I make a better come back than Sam Bradford did for Oklahoma. I imagine I should. I have actually delayed my come back for that very purpose. I nearly came back a couple of times already, but exercised restraint waiting till I really felt 100%. I will stick with the past schedule, with hopes of throwing in some "bonus" posts to make up for the lost time. The Thursday "Perspective" post will be coming soon.