Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weekly Trivia: 2009-10 Bowl Challenge Cup

The answer to last week's trivia question, "What other FBS conferences (in addition to the Big Ten) had a three team tie for the conference championship?" is the Big East and the WAC. Uconn, Pitt, and West Virginia all had 5-2 conference records in the Big East. Hawaii, Boise State, and Nevada all had 7-1 conference records in the WAC. You could even throw in the Big 12 South, if you wanted; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M all had a 6-2 conference mark.

One of the newer traditions in college football is the Bowl Challenge Cup awarded to the conference with the best win percentage in bowl games. This week’s trivia question is:
Which FBS conference won the Bowl Challenge Cup in 2009-10?
Leave your answer in the comments section. The answer will be revealed next Wednesday when a new question is asked.

For more trivia questions, visit the Trivia page.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Musings: Tattoo Ohio State University

Monday Musings is back after being off a week. At this point, I plan to continue this feature each week all offseason. Some weeks there might be less than 10 musings, but there will be something to muse about. College football lives on all year.

1. The real meaning of tOSU. I have seen the abbreviation of Ohio State University with a small t in front of it on occasion. I always thought it stood for “the,” in the way people in some circles refer to Ohio State as “the Ohio State.” I guess we all found out last week that tOSU really stands for “tattoo Ohio State University.” As for the NCAA penalties going into effect September 2011, that is ridiculous. That isn’t a penalty at all. No one’s NFL draft stock will be hurt (just ask Dez Bryant and Sam Bradford), and Ohio State plays such inferior out of conference teams, they will still be 5-0 or 4-1. It also helps to know all spring and all fall that you need to get your second string players ready to start those five games.

2. Where did that come from? The Big Ten made their announcement that the two six-team divisions would be named “Legends” and “Leaders” when the conference becomes 12 teams next year. I know I am late on this, but count me as one who doesn’t like them, to say the least. This is coming from the conference that made such a big deal about academics and AAU membership during the expansion evaluation process. These division names show no signs of intelligent discussion and decision making. My suggestions: 1 and 2. Since they are so stubborn to change the name to reflect that the conference has 12 teams, you should work the number 12 in there somewhere.

3. Records are meant to be broken. BYU broke or tied 42 New Mexico Bowl records and 13 school bowl records in their 52-24 trouncing of UTEP in the year’s first bowl game.

4. The Humanitarian Bowl was inhumane. Just playing a game in Boise, Idaho, in December is inhumane, but the way Northern Illionis crushed Fresno State, 40-17, made it worse for the Bulldogs who never want to play there again after losing two games in Boise by a combined score of 91-17.

5. The Men of Troy. The Troy Trojans played like the USC Trojans in the New Orleans Bowl. They piled up 602 total yards and converted 10 of 15 third downs. Freshman quarterback Corey Robinson led the charge with 32-42, 387 yards, and 4 TD passes.

6. Special teams does it again. Another game was greatly impacted by special teams late in the game. After taking a 28-21 fourth quarter lead, Southern Mississippi kicked off to Louisville. The Cardinals ran the kick back 95 yards to tie the game. That enabled Louisville to kick a field goal later in the quarter to win.

7. The worst 10 win team. Utah gets my vote for the worst 10 win team in 2010. The Utes looks terrible against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. They had just 200 yards of total offense. Looking at their season record, their best win came against a 5-7 Iowa State team. Utah needed overtime to beat a bad Pittsburgh team, and several breaks to win games against Air Force, San Diego State, and BYU down the stretch. Throw in the disasters against TCU and Notre Dame, and Utah was lucky to be above 0.500.

8. The next Marshall Faulk? San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman ran for 228 yards and scored four touchdowns in the Poinsettia Bowl. That gives this fab freshman 1,532 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns on the season. Marshall Faulk had 1,429 yards and 21 touchdowns as a freshman.

9. How high will he go? With an incredible 326 all-purpose yards in the Hawaii Bowl, Tulsa running back Damaris Johnson broke the NCAA record for career all-purpose yards. Johnson now has 7,796 yards, and he is only a junior. With one more year to play, how high will he push this record? Is 10,000 yards too much to ask?

10. Beginners luck? The Florida International Panthers played their very first bowl game in the Little Caesars Bowl. They also won their first bowl game. They had to overcome a 24-7 second half deficit. They also had to convert a 4th and 17 to get into position to kick the game winning field goal on the last play of the game.

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Poll Results: Has Nike gone overboard with the Pro Combat Uniforms?
Weekly Trivia: Three Team Tie For Conference Championship
Heisman Hopefuls: Bowl Games Will Impact The 2011 Race

Poll Results: Has Nike gone overboard with the Pro Combat Uniforms?

The poll has closed, and it was a 50-50 tie for "Has Nike gone overboard with the Pro Combat Uniforms?"

My opinion is that they have gone overboard. First, I can't understand why teams need to use more than one uniform design during the same year. Second, I can't understand how Nike has all this money to spend developing several different designs for one team and then implementing them. I imagine that several players get new uniforms for each game, but with the new design every players has to have new uniforms. To summarize, I think it is not fashionable and not fiscally responsible.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll, "How should the NCAA punish the Ohio State players involved in the tattoo scandal?"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weekly Trivia: Three Team Tie For Conference Championship

The answer to last week's trivia question, "How many college football bowl games were played after the 1990 season?" is 19, and 8 of those (42%) were played January 1. That is almost half as many bowl games that will be played this year. If January 1 was still the “grand finale” of the bowls, then 15 games would be played that day.

The Big Ten conference had three teams tie for the conference championship. They weren’t the only ones with three teams sharing the conference crown. That makes this week’s trivia question:
What other FBS conferences had a three team tie for the conference championship?
Leave your answer in the comments section. The answer will be revealed next Wednesday when a new question is asked.

For more trivia questions, visit the Trivia page.

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Heisman Hopefuls: Bowl Games Will Impact The 2011 Race
Poll Results: Which coach will have more success at his new school?
Game Predictions, Non-BCS Bowls, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Heisman Hopefuls: Bowl Games Will Impact The 2011 Race

It has barely been a week since the 2010 Heisman Trophy was awarded, but the 2011 race is already underway. The college football bowl season is the perfect opportunity for Heisman hopefuls to get a leg up on next year’s race. Bowl games are a bigger stage than many regular season games, and they leave a lasting impression in voters’ minds during the long offseason.

Jimmy Clausen positioned himself just behind the “Big 3” in the 2009 Heisman Trophy race after the 2008 Hawaii bowl. Clausen was 22 of 26 for 401 yards, 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 49-21 route.

Matt Leinart roasted Michigan in the Rose Bowl following the 2003 season. Leinart passed for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns with 23 completions on 34 attempts. He was the Rose Bowl MVP, and he even caught a touchdown pass. In 2004, Leinart beat out freshman upstart Adrian Peterson. No one knew who Peterson was until September 2004, but, nearly a year before, Leinart had already established himself as the best quarterback in college football.

Ty Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner, overcame long odds to win the bronze statue largely in part because he passed for 576 yards against Penn State in the 1989 Holiday Bowl.

This list could go on and on. However, as fun as reminiscing is, the 2010 bowl season is upon us. We should be looking at who can establish themselves as 2011 Heisman Trophy candidates with strong bowl performances.

To avoid a list as long as many children’s Christmas wish list, I will leave off the obvious guys, like LaMichael James, Andrew Luck and Kellen Moore, who are already in the center of the radar and could sit out their respective bowl games and still be prime candidates when the 2011 season rolls around.
  1. Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State, was a leading candidate coming into 2010, but fell completely off the radar despite having his best season to date. The junior quarterback didn’t even receive one vote. A big game in the Sugar Bowl against an “SEC defense” can put him back on everyone’s list.
  2. Taylor Martinez, Nebraska, entered the Heisman discussion this year with a big game at Washington. He trailed off at the end of the season due to injuries and Roy Helu getting more touches. Another monster game against the Huskies in the Holiday Bowl, and Martinez can enter the discussion for 2011, without Helu.
  3. Russell Wilson, North Carolina State, had a solid junior year guiding North Carolina State to their best season since the Phillip Rivers days. Wilson has passed for almost 3,300 yards and 26 touchdowns to date, and he had NC State on the cusp of playing in the ACC championship game. How he plays against 9-3 West Virginia in the Champs Sports Bowl could signal whether he is ready to take his game and the Wolfpack to the next level.
  4. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri, had a down statistical year, but he helped Missouri surpass most people’s expectations by quarterbacking the Tigers to 10 wins. A big game against the well respected Iowa Hawkeyes defense in the Insight Bowl could be the catalyst for Gabbert to bounce back in 2011 with a special year.
  5. Aaron Murray, Georgia, had a good season. He passes for 2,851 yards, has a 24 to 6 TD:Int. ratio, and a 162.7 pass efficiency rating. He put up these numbers despite A.J. Green missing the first four games of the season. Oh, and Murray is just a freshman. A big game in the Liberty Bowl against Central Florida and Murray will be poised to make a run at the Heisman in 2011.
  6. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, had flashes of greatness this year as a freshman. He faces ACC runner up Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If he shows up the way he did against Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, then he will be showing up on a lot of preseason Heisman Trophy lists.
  7. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, brought life back to the Aggies. He has guided them to a 6-0 finish to the season. He will face the best defense in the SEC in the Cotton Bowl. If he can get a win and look good doing it, voters will take notice.
  8. Darron Thomas, Oregon, unexpectedly took the Ducks to the next level this year. With Thomas being unknown and untested, LaMichael James got all the attention early in the year. The nation is slowly catching on to how important Thomas was in getting the Ducks where they are now. If Thomas can outplay Cam Newton the way Vince Young did Reggie Bush five years ago, Thomas will have a spot at the top of everyone’s list in 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poll Results: Which coach will have more success at his new school?

This poll has closed, and Al Golden (Miami) had 56% of the vote to Will Muschamp's 44%. I guess voters think that the conference affiliation will make a difference.

If I had voted, I would say Muschamp. I just think that Florida is in a better position than Miami. Until a coach goes into Miami and turns it around, I expect the coach at Florida to be more successful than the coach at Miami. Coaching really is the variable that all success in college football hinges on.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's poll: "Has Nike gone overboard with the Pro Combat uniforms?"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Game Predictions, Non-BCS Bowls, 2010

I took the week off last week from game predictions (the only game was the Army-Navy contest). I was 13-6 two weeks ago to finish the year 219-100 for the season. I had hoped to keep the wrong predictions under 100.

Bowl season kicks off Saturday. This week will be non-BCS bowl predictions. Then when we get a little closer, I will predict the BCS bowls.

As always, you are free to chime in with your picks, or at least where you agree or disagree, and we can discuss.

Saturday, December 18
New Mexico Bowl
Brigham Young vs. UTEP, 34-10 BYU
It will take a complete meltdown for BYU not to win this one.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State, 45-17 Northern Illinois
Fresno State will not go 2-0 against the state of Illinois.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy, 34-27 Ohio
The Trojans are down this year.

Tuesday, December 21
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Southern Miss vs. Louisville, 28-17 Southern Miss
Southern Miss is one of the best kept secrets in the nation.

Wednesday, December 22
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Utah vs. Boise State, 40-17 Boise State
Boise State will look like the one that should be going to the Pac-12.

Thursday, December 23
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Navy at San Diego State, 31-28 San Diego State
Home field advantage wins this one.

Friday, December 24
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii vs. Tulsa, 45-27 Hawaii
This is a good Hawaii team playing at home.

Sunday, December 26
Little Caesars Bowl
Florida International vs. Toledo, 34-14 Toledo
Dream season ends sour for FIU.

Monday, December 27
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Air Force vs. Georgia Tech, 28-17 Air Force
The Cadets will establish themselves as the best option team in the nation.

Tuesday, December 28
Champs Sports Bowl
West Virginia vs. North Carolina State, 38-24 North Carolina State
Breakout year for the Wolfpack.

Insight Bowl
Missouri vs. Iowa, 31-10 Missouri
I can’t imagine that Iowa even cares to be in this game.

Wednesday, December 29
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Gruman
East Carolina vs. Maryland, 24-14 Maryland
Home field advantage for the Terps.

Texas Bowl
Illinois vs. Baylor, 38-31 Baylor
The Bears have so much more to play for than the Illini.

Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, 45-28 Oklahoma State
Justin Blackmon is unstoppable.

Thursday, December 30
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Army at Southern Methodist, 34-17 SMU
SMU is clearly the better team.

New Era Pinstripes Bowl
Kansas State vs. Syracuse, 17-10 Kansas State
A win-win for both schools. Syracuse is back in a bowl, and K-State is back to respectable status.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
North Carolina vs. Tennessee, 35-21 North Carolina
Both teams will be happy to get this season over.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Nebraska vs. Washington, 23-21 Nebraska
Even with no motivation, Nebraska is better than Washington

Friday, December 31
Meineke Car Care Bowl
South Florida vs. Clemson, 28-24 Clemson
Just a stab in the dark.

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Miami (FL), 27-17 Notre Dame
Notre Dame on 3 game win streak, Miami 2 game losing streak and down a coach.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Georgia vs. UCF, 28-17 UCF
UCF can lay a claim to best team in Florida with a win over the Bulldogs.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
South Carolina vs. Florida State, 38-21 South Carolina
The Gamecocks will be motivated enough to win 10 games for the first time since 1984.

Saturday, January 1
TicketCity Bowl
Northwestern vs. Texas Tech, 45-21 Texas Tech
Five of Northwestern’s wins have come by a combined 15 points.

Capital One Bowl
Alabama vs. Michigan State, 35-14 Alabama
Last time the Spartans played a team like Alabama, they were crushed by Iowa.

Outback Bowl
Florida vs. Penn State, 24-14 Penn State
Urban Meyer has packed it in.

Progressive Gator Bowl
Mississippi State vs. Michigan, 24-20 Mississippi State
Each team has a lot to play for. Better team will prevail.

Thursday, January 6 Bowl
Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH), 30-21 Miami (OH)
Miami has finished the year very strong, and surprising.

Friday, January 7
AT&T Cotton Bowl
LSU vs. Texas A&M, 35-17 LSU
The Tigers are a much stronger bowl team than the Aggies.

Saturday, January 8
BBVA Compass Bowl
Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky, 35-13 Kentucky
It’s been a disappointing year for Pitt, and now they are without a coach.

Sunday, January 9
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Nevada vs. Boston College, 28-14 Nevada
Nevada can finish off this dream season with a win over a BCS AQ school.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weekly Trivia: Number of Bowl Games in 1990

The answer to last week's trivia question, "How many other teams averaged 10 wins or more over the last six years?" is 9, possibly 10. In addition to Florida, these teams are: Boise State, Texas, USC, Ohio State, TCU, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, LSU, and Oklahoma. Wisconsin can join the club with a win over TCU in the Rose Bowl.

The biggest and baddest (you decide if this word has a positive or negative meaning) college football bowl season is upon us. There are 35 bowls this year and they will be played over a 24 day period. The bowl games just keep on proliferating. This week’s trivia question aims to illustrate this.
How many college football bowl games were played after the 1990 season?
Leave your answer in the comments section. The answer will be revealed next Wednesday when a new question is asked.

For more trivia questions, visit the Trivia page.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Heisman Hopefuls: Reaction to 2010 Results

As expected, Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton was awarded the Heisman Memorial Trophy last Saturday. He won by a land slide. Only five past winners have received more points than Newton’s 2,263 (O.J. Simpson-2,853, Tony Dorsett-2,357, Charlie Ward-2,310, Ricky Williams-2,355, Troy Smith-2,540). Congratulations Cam.

Following the announcement and the release of the voting, I have a few other thoughts before closing the book on Heisman Hopefuls 2010.
  • Cam Newton received 729 first place votes and only 24 second and 28 third. With the controversy surrounding him, voters took an “all or nothing” approach to him. Either they were voting for him because he was clearly the most outstanding player, or they boycotted voting for him because of the possible pay-for-play.
  • Andrew Luck should not have been second. I already explained why Luck should not have been a Heisman finalist. I am still dumbfounded about why Luck even got one first place vote, let alone enough votes to finish second. Especially since …
  • Terrelle Pryor got no votes. Absolutely zero. He was one of the biggest preseason candidates, and he made huge strides this year. If Andy Dalton and Owen Marecic could get some votes, how did Pryor get none?
  • Speaking of Owen Marecic, why did he get any votes? Because he plays two ways? Because he scored an offensive and defensive TD in the same game? A lot of players could play two ways. It’s just that nobody does. No one else can do what Newton, LaMichael James, and Justin Blackmon did. Marecic barely touched the ball on offense. The offensive and defensive TD feat was done just 4 years ago. Yeah, it is cool, but it’s not like it hasn’t happened since the leather helmet days.
  • Ninety-one voters should lose their voting privileges. In addition to the 78 who voted Luck first, the six that voted Denard Robinson first, the four that voted Andy Dalton first, and the three that voted Owen Marecic first. I can understand local voters giving token votes to really good players in their region of the country, but putting them first on your ballot? No way.
  • The token votes I was pleased to see were those for Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Statistically, he was on par with Newton (2,830 yards passing, 1,154 yards rushing, 20 TD rushing and 20 TD passing). He led the Wolf Pack to their first national ranking in ages. While his stats were not gaudy, he quarterbacked a 17 point second half comeback to dethrone Boise State.

Monday Musings: Texas A&M Aggies and LSU Tigers To Prove Themselves In The Cotton Bowl

This week, the bowl season starts, so I have gone with a non-BCS bowls theme for the musings.

1. Proving Ground. The Cotton Bowl provides more than an intriguing match up. It will be a proving ground. Texas A&M was surging to end the year. The Aggies were actively seeking an invitation to the SEC last summer. Beat LSU and they strengthen their cause. LSU got tripped up on it way to an at-large BCS bid. Each team has a chance to stake its claim for best team left out.

2. Make or Break. The Gator Bowl will go a long way to making or breaking each teams’ seasons. Rich Rodriguez could secure his job with a solid win number 8 over an SEC opponent. Or, the Michigan coaching staff could be broken up with Rich Rod getting fired. Mississippi State would move to 9 wins in their breakout year. It would be the most wins by Mississippi State since 1999.

3. No Business Playing. I bet you are thinking of the 6-6 teams. Well, that is not what I am referring to. The four bowl games from January 6-9 have no business being played so late. They should be moved back to January 1 or earlier. None of these four are BCS bowls. All you get is more rust on the players waiting so long to play. The fun and excitement of the bowls dies significantly after New Year's Day.

4. The Bowl Apologists Dream. The New Mexico Bowl is the perfect pairing of 6-6 teams for those who love to argue for bowls being a reward for the players and all the other rhetoric. UTEP is in a bowl for the first time in 5 years. Do you think they are excited? Do you think they won’t be playing their hearts out for the first winning season ever for 100% of the players on the roster? BYU was 1-4 and desperate for signs of life, to say nothing for a win. The Cougars have finished the season hot and want to have a winning season as well, especially after giving away the final game of the season to nationally ranked Utah.

5. Trains passing in the night. Boise State and Utah meet in the Las Vegas Bowl like two trains passing in the night. Boise State is joining the MWC next year while Utah is leaving that conference for the new Pac-12. It is a preview of what might have been.

6. No Fly Zone. The Independence Bowl has been grounded. With two option offenses squaring off (Air Force and Georgia Tech), be sure to keep your eyes at ground level. Both teams are sure to keep the ball on the ground. We just might have our first sub two hour game in ages.

7. Playing with the big boys now. Central Florida (Liberty Bowl vs. Georgia), Nevada (Kraft Fight Hunger vs. Boston College), Air Force (Independence vs. Georgia Tech), Southern Mississippi (St. Petersburg vs. Louisville), and East Carolina (Military vs. Maryland) all have one more opportunity to play against a member of one of the BCS AQ conferences. Interestingly, all of these bowl games look winnable by the non-AQ team.

8. What were they thinking? The Holiday Bowl picked a rematch of one of the ugliest games this season. Nebraska vs. Washington. Add to it that Nebraska blew out Arizona 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl last year. Not exactly what we are told bowl execs look for when making match ups. This does not have any interest to fans outside these two teams. It doesn’t promise to be an exciting game that goes down to the wire.

9. Staying home for the holidays. Usually the bowls represent a holiday get away. The opposite is true this year for several bowl participants. San Diego State, Maryland, Hawaii, Toledo, SMU, Tennessee, and Florida are all playing in their home stadium or very, very close to their campuses.

10. Redemption. The Iowa Hawkeyes took a trip out to Arizona in September, and it was a disaster. Iowa lost its first game of the season. They rebounded following that game, but they ended the season on a three game losing skid. They can redeem themselves, a little, with a win on their second trip to Arizona for the Insight Bowl. They face a good Missouri team. Of course, being without running backs Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson will make it much more difficult.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Poll Results: Which non-BCS bowl has the best match up?

The latest poll has closed, and the best non-BCS bowl match up is Boise State vs. Utah in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, so said 41% of voters. Alabama vs. Michigan State was a very close second with 39% of the vote. South Carolina vs. Florida State was a distant third (12%). It was a tie for fourth with both Notre Dame vs. Miami and West Virginia vs. North Carolina State receiving 4%.

I like the Alabama vs. Michigan State game. Two teams that were very, very close to playing in BCS bowl games, but at the same time, so far away.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in this week's question: "Which coach will have more success at his new school?"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Urban Meyer: The Latest Florida Gators Drop Out

Urban Meyer has resigned as the Florida Gators head coach. Again. His reasons: family and health. Those are always good cover ups.

While this news is surprising, it is not shocking. Meyer probably has concerns about his health and certainly wants to spend more time with his family. However, these reasons alone were not enough to tip the scales. What did? The Gators’ disappointing season. I just don’t think this happens if Florida played in the SEC championship game and was preparing for a BCS bowl this year.

One year ago, the day after Meyer announced his retirement, he went out to practice and saw the state of the program and the potential for the future. That was enough to get him to stay on board and take a brief leave of absence. Now, one year into the future, Meyer has seen enough.

This season was the first year that Meyer faced the toughest challenge for a coach: sustaining success. Meyer learned the hard way that sustained success is more difficult than it looks. Before coming to Florida, Meyer hopped from job to job, never staying long enough to graduate a recruiting class and to compete against foes who had had time to adjust to his spread attack.

After inheriting a well stocked cupboard and using his spread scheme to win the 2006 BCS National Championship, Meyer weathered the storm in 2007 when his recruits started taking the field. While the team only won 9 games, quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman. It was clear that with a few defensive adjustments, the Gators would be back on top. Fast forward to 2010. Tebow, Brandon Spikes, and others were gone. Meyer’s revolutionary offense had become mainstream in college football.

John Brantley was supposed to be the answer. By the end of the year, Florida was using a three quarterback system. Florida lost miserably to Florida State (Meyer’s first loss to the Seminoles). It must have hurt, too, to see former Florida quarterback Cam Newton thriving on the other side of the SEC. Going into their bowl game, Florida is 7-5. Not ideal, but not unheard of either. A quick glance up north, and Meyer could see how Mark Richt has struggled to reload the last two years at Georgia. Look west, and Mack Brown sticks out like a sore thumb. A year removed from the national championship game, and Texas is 5-7. These two coaches are not throwing in the towel.

Urban Meyer is just the latest college drop out. When the advanced classes got difficult, he took the easy way out.

A few years from now, Meyer will be back. Probably at Notre Dame if Brian Kelly can’t return the Fighting Irish to the BCS. However, if Meyer doesn’t stay at his next gig for at least 10 years and have continued success, he should never be considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time.

That distinction belongs to guys like the one who will be opposite Meyer in the Outback Bowl—Joe Paterno. I have no problem with Meyer changing schools early on, but the great coaches have to settle down at some point and sustain success over multiple recruiting classes. They have to be able to beat the same teams over and over and over again, even when those teams know what you are going to do and are very familiar with your schemes. They do not jump ship at the first sign of disaster.

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton’s Alibi Is Believable
Weekly Trivia: 10 Or More Wins From 2005-2010
Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton Will Win Auburn's Third Heisman
Monday Musings: Auburn Tigers' Hail Mary Says It All
Poll Results: Should Nevada be ranked higher (#14/#17) after beating Boise State?
College Football Haven Top 25, Week 14, 2010

Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton’s Alibi Is Believable

Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton was cleared to play by the NCAA last week after being declared ineligible by Auburn under allegations of pay-for-play. That’s fine. Not every allegation is true. What caused controversy and stirred debate was the NCAA’s reasoning: Cam Newton and Auburn were unaware that Cecil Newton was shopping his son.

I know it is easy to look at this situation and think that it was impossible for the younger Newton to not be, at least, suspicious that something strange was going on. I don’t know what happened, but I do think we should not dismiss so easily that Cam Newton was oblivious to what was happening. In fact, I think Cecil could have easily pressured his son to choose Auburn without his son thinking either his dad was crazy or he was working something under the table.

Every time I hear some radio talk show or read a sports columnist comment on this story, they all neglect one fact. To quote the New York Times: “Newton, 50, is the bishop overseeing five small Pentecostal churches in Georgia, including the church here, where he is also pastor…”. Cecil Newton is not only Cam’s father, but he is a very important religious figure. All the senior Newton had to do is approach his son and say something to the effect that he had been praying about where Cam should play football, and he had a revelation that Auburn was the place for him. He could have added to that any outrageous prediction of what would happen if Cam went to Auburn (i.e., a national championship, a Heisman Trophy, a huge professional contract).

Put yourself in Cam’s shoes. You are 20 years old, you got into some trouble at Florida, and you are trying to do what is right and fix your life. Your religious leader, who also happens to be your father, tells you Auburn may not be the obvious choice, but it is the right choice. He could then cite William Cowper, “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform,” or Proverbs chapter 3 verse 5, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Add to the religious aspect that impressing and influencing parents is just as important in the recruiting process as the player himself. Just ask that struggling team in Las Vegas. Parents don’t have to be overbearing about it, but even if they are, there are so many reasonable excuses for parents that the child could be clueless that a pay-for-play deal was being brokered.

Yes, the NCAA sounds like they have been knocked off their rocker, and they have opened up a loophole the size of a football field, but when it comes to condemning Cam Newton, I am not ready to do it.

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Weekly Trivia: 10 Or More Wins From 2005-2010
Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton Will Win Auburn's Third Heisman
Monday Musings: Auburn Tigers' Hail Mary Says It All
Poll Results: Should Nevada be ranked higher (#14/#17) after beating Boise State?
College Football Haven Top 25, Week 14, 2010

Weekly Trivia: 10 Or More Wins From 2005-2010

The answer to last week's trivia question, "Before the 2010 season, when was the last time that Wisconsin scored 70 points or more in a single game?" is 1915. Incidentally, it was also the last time Wisconsin scored more than 80 points as well. The Badgers beat Marquette 85-0 on October 8. That was six days after beating Lawrence 82-0.

This week's question is in recognition of soon to be former Florida Gator head coach Urban Meyer. Meyer and the Gators won 64 games the last six years. That is an average of 10.67 wins per year. To put that into perspective …
How many other teams averaged 10 wins or more over the last six years?
Leave your answer in the comments section. The answer will be revealed next Wednesday when a new question is asked.

For more trivia questions, visit the Trivia page.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton Will Win Auburn's Third Heisman

Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton has gone from junior college transfer to Heisman Trophy winner in one year. He will join Pat Sullivan (1971) and Bo Jackson (1985) as the third Auburn Tiger to win the award. He sealed the deal by leading the epic comeback against Alabama a week ago. This Saturday in the SEC Championship game, Newton put an exclamation mark on his campaign. His stat line: 17-28 (60.7%), 335 yards, 4 TD, plus 14 rushes, 73 yards, and 2 TD.

Since November started, only one player really had a shot at Newton. LaMichael James made a push, but Newton proved to be too much. James had 134 yards on 28 carries, and added 2 TDs, against Oregon State this week. Perhaps, James biggest setback in the Heisman race was teammate Kenjon Barner. Barner was right behind James with 133 yards rushing last Saturday. James split significant time with Barner the last two weeks. James could have pushed the 200 yard mark the last two games, which would have caught every voters' attention.

If I had a vote, here is how my ballot would look. Remember, all Heisman voters are supposed to vote for a first, second, and third place.

1. Cam Newton, Auburn, QB
STATS: 165-246 (67.1%), 2,589 yards, 28 TD, 6 Int., 188.2 Passer Rating
242 rushes, 1,409 yards (5.8 ypc), 20 TD
2 receptions, 42 yards, 1 TD
WHY: Newton has essentially duplicated Tim Tebow's Heisman season from 2007. He has joined the 20-20 club (20 TD passes, 20 TD rushes). Newton has roughly the same number of passing and rushing yards as Tebow did going into the Heisman ceremony (3,998 for Newton and 3,970 for Tebow). On top of that, Newton leads the nation in pass efficiency. At 188.2, that is over 7 points higher than Sam Bradford when he won the Heisman two years ago. Newton has been a dominating force. He takes over games. He has rallied his team back from enormous deficits, and he punishes the opposition to build a commanding lead. In one year, he has taken Auburn from an 8 win team to 13 wins and the number one ranking.

As far as the allegations about pay-for-play, the NCAA has made a ruling. Whether you like it or not, that decision has to be respected and upheld the same way a judge's ruling in the court of law would. The NCAA is the one entity with the authority to rule on this matter.

The integrity card? I don't think voters should play that card. The integrity issue this year has been cleared, as noted above. If you are going to reach back into the past, then we have to be fair and do it for all. I am sure we could pull up all kinds of dirt on most candidates. Besides, this award is for the "most outstanding player," in other words, play on the field should be the driving factor in who wins the award. Just as people are concerned that vacating a second Heisman Trophy winning in less than a decade will scar the award, so will withholding the award from a player who is heads and shoulders more outstanding than the rest. 

2. LaMichael James, Oregon, RB
STATS: 281 rushes, 1,682 yards (6.0 ypc), 21 TD
13 receptions, 169 yards, 1 TD
WHY: James has more rushing yards this year than anyone else, even though he missed the first game of the season. He has more rushing yards and more rushing touchdowns than 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram did last season. James has been very reliable he has nine 100 yard rushing games (three of which were 200+), and he never rushed for less than 91 yards in a game. He scored at least one touchdown in every game but one.

3. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State, WR
STATS: 102 receptions, 1,665 yards, 18 TD
4 rushes, 77 yards, 1 TD
WHY: Blackmon averages 151 yards receiving per game. That's better than Michael Crabtree in 2007. He never had less than 105 yards in a game, and he scored at least one touchdown in every game. His 18 touchdowns is the best in the nation. If he could have showcased his outstanding talents one last time against Nebraska in the Big XII Championship game, maybe he would have moved up to number 2.

No Andrew Luck
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has gotten a lot of support from media and fans for the number 2 spot. In fact, he even got enough voters to vote for him to be flown out to New York as a Heisman finalist. As you can see, he wouldn't even make my ballot. Luck has done nothing "outstanding" in my judgment. He does not have "outstanding" stats (245-349, 70.2%, 3,051 yards, 28 TD, 7 Int, 166.1 passer rating / 51 rushes, 438 yards, 3 TD). Four other quarterbacks have a higher completion percentage (as well as 2 in 2009, 3 in 2008, 4 in 2007). Quarterbacks have been passing for 3,000 yards for well over 30 years, including 20 others this year. A 166 passer rating is merely good, nowadays. The best stat Luck has going for him is the 4:1 TD to Int. ratio. Then again, at least 10 other quarterbacks had that same ratio or better, including Cam Newton. I know it is a nice story that Stanford is having its best season in a really long time, and Luck could be the number one pick in the NFL draft. Those two things, however, don't mean a quarterback with good stats should get a Heisman vote.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Musings: Auburn Tigers' Hail Mary Says It All

The final weekend of College Football was a good one. Whether is was conference championship games, rivalries, conference championships (minus a predetermined "championship game"), or bowl positioning being played out on the field, there was enough of everything to keep us talking for two weeks until the bowl games start.

1. That says it all. After South Carolina scored a TD to close the gap with Auburn to 21-14 with seconds to go before halftime (South Carolina would get the ball to start the second half), Cam Newton throws a 51-yard hail mary touchdown. That play sums up everything you need to know about Newton and Auburn for Heisman and national championship talk. Newton’s play has been magical, and Auburn has gotten all the breaks.

2. First time for everything. TCU is going to the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs replace Oregon in the Rose since the Ducks are going to the National Championship game. Florida International University is going bowling (Little Caesars). The Golden Panthers were co-Sun Belt Champions. After years of struggling while playing very, very hard non-conference schedules, it pays off as FIU won six games in conference.

3. Worst BCS team ever? Connecticut at 8-4 is not in the BCS top 25. To the best of my knowledge, that is unprecedented. Florida State is the only other four loss team to play in BCS games. The Seminoles did it twice. In 2002, Florida State had a 9-4 record going into Bowl season. However, three of those losses were to Notre Dame (10-3), Miami (12-1), and North Carolina State (11-3). None of those losses were blowouts. In 2005, Florida State had to beat 10-1 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game to get to the BCS. They also beat a 9-2 Miami team. I can’t build any case for UConn, except that they won the Big East three-team tie breaker. Their best win out of conference is 2-10 Vanderbilt. Beating West Virginia (9-3) 16-13 in overtime is the Huskies’ best win. None of the teams that Connecticut lost to won more than 8 games—and that was Temple from the MAC.

4. More Ammo for Rich Rod Supporters. This is a discussion that will rage on all the way through January 1 when Michigan plays Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Michigan beat Connecticut in the season opener. That would be BCS Fiesta Bowl bound Connecticut. Can’t say that Michigan didn’t beat anybody this year. Of course, all this really means is that if Rich Rodriguez was still coaching in the Big East, his team would probably be Big East Champ.

5. MAC Attack. Northern Illinois was a juggernaut the last few weeks. The Huskies had scored 71, 59, and 65 points their last three games. That didn’t intimidate the Miami (OH) Redhawks. Miami came out the 26-21 winner for the MAC championship.

6. Overcome with nerves. Knowing that a national championship game appearance was at stake, Oregon played nervous. They turned over the ball twice in the first five minutes of the game. UConn was up by 10 points with 13 minutes to play. The Huskies blew the lead and needed a 52 yard field goal with 17 seconds to play to secure its first BCS berth.

7. Total Dominance. USC has had, by all accounts, a down year. The Trojans haven’t had a 5 loss season since 2001. UCLA couldn’t beat their cross-town rivals then, and they couldn’t do it now. The Trojans beat the Bruins 28-14 this year.

8. Block that Kick. The crowd loves to chant this phrase. The Arizona Sun Devils delivered. Twice. Correction, James Brooks delivered. The first block sent the game to overtime. Brooks' second blocked point-after-attempt gave the Sun Devils the win over rival Arizona.

9. Broncos Bounce Back. A week after seeing their hopes for a national championship and a BCS bowl shattered, Boise State rebounded with a 50-14 win over Utah State. Probably doesn’t do much to make them feel any better about the week before.

10. Dion does it, finally. To say this has been a disappointing year for Dion Lewis would be an understatement. He had 695 yards rushing on the season coming into the season finale against Cincinnati (he ran for 1,799 last year). He had only rushed for 100 yards in a game twice. He exploded for 261 yards and 4 TD on Saturday.

Poll Results: Should Nevada be ranked higher (#14/#17) after beating Boise State?

The poll has closed, and in response to "Should Nevada be ranked higher (#14/#17) after beating Boise State?" 55% said "No."

Personally, I side with the other 45%. Nevada was 11-1 (now 12-1) and they just beat the number 3 team in the country. Just because it was Boise State, and just because it took two missed field goals should not make a difference. Many people thought Boise State was national championship game worthy. Nevada should have moved into the top 10, at least.

Thank you to everyone who voted. Don't forget to vote in the new poll, "Which non-BCS bowl game has the best match up?"

College Football Haven Top 25, Week 14, 2010

The College Football Haven Top 25 saw some shake up after the slow weekend. The top 10 stayed the same. The Big XII championship game caused some shake up in the top 15. Oklahoma was number 16 while Nebraska was number 11. I am still not that high on Oklahoma, but they are the Big XII champ with an 11-2 record, so I can’t justify keeping them ranked below another Big XII team. I am 95% ready to forgive Virginia Tech for losing to James Madison. I would have the Hokies number 10 (the top two loss team) if it wasn’t for that loss. Beat Stanford in the Orange Bowl and I will treat VT the same as every other two loss team.

UCF is back in the rankings after winning the Conference USA championship. Very, very reluctantly, I have ranked Connecticut number 25. They are the Big East representative in the BCS, and while it isn’t worth much, it is enough to get them in over other four loss teams and some three loss teams (Northern Illinois, Tulsa, Navy).

1. Oregon (12-0)
LAST: Beat Oregon State 37-20.

2. Auburn (13-0)
LAST: Beat South Carolina 56-14.

3. TCU (12-0)
LAST: Bye.

4. Stanford (11-1)
LAST: Bye.

5. Michigan State (11-1)
LAST: Bye.

6. Wisconsin (11-1)
LAST: Bye.

7. Ohio State (11-1)
LAST: Bye.

8. Nevada (12-1)
LAST: Beat Louisiana Tech 34-17.

9. Boise State (11-1)
LAST: Beat Utah State 50-14.

10. Arkansas (10-2)
LAST: Bye.

11. Virginia Tech (11-2)
LAST: Beat Florida State 44-33.

12. LSU (10-2)
LAST: Bye.

13. Oklahoma (11-2)
LAST: Beat Nebraska 23-20.

14. Missouri (10-2)
LAST: Bye.

15. Texas A&M (9-3)
LAST: Bye.

16. Nebraska (10-3)
LAST: Lost Oklahoma 23-20.

17. Oklahoma State (10-2)
LAST: Bye.

18. Alabama (9-3)
LAST: Bye.

19. Utah (10-2)
LAST: Bye.

20. Hawaii (10-3)
LAST: Beat UNLV 59-21.

21. West Virginia (9-3)
LAST: Beat Rutgers 35-14.

22. UCF (10-3)
LAST: Beat SMU 17-7.

23. South Carolina (9-4)
LAST: Lost to Auburn 56-14.

24. Florida State (9-4)
LAST: Lost to Virginia Tech 44-33.

25. Connecticut (8-4)
LAST: Beat South Florida 19-16.

OTHERS TO WATCH: Navy, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Mississippi State.

Previous Top 25:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

Friday, December 3, 2010

Game of the Week: Auburn Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

The SEC Championship game has so many underlying story lines. The biggest, of course, is the suspension and reinstatement of Auburn QB Cam Newton. The whole thing seems to just be piling controversy on top of controversy. As a fan, it is time to just focus on the game. While it casts a cloud now, as the years pass, we will remember the game much more than this scandal, assuming nothing new ever turns up.

The other story lines are the rematch aspect. Auburn and South Carolina played a very close and competitive game earlier this year. How much has each team improved since then? That will be the real difference maker in this game.

Each team has a superstar newcomer. We all know Cam Newton and his 2,000+ passing yards and 1,000+ rushing yards and 40+ touchdowns, but don’t forget South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. He has 1,114 yards rushing and 17 TDs.

South Carolina caught Alabama by surprise earlier in the year. Not only did they hand the Crimson Tide their first loss in over a year, they smoked them. By no means will the Gamecocks lay down and hand this one to Auburn. I don’t know exactly what has been happening at SC, but they have had essentially 3 weeks to get ready for this game. Their last two games have been non-conference games.

TIME: 4:00 PM (ET)

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Game Predictions, Week 14, 2010
Weekly Trivia: Wisconsin Badgers Scoring 70 Points
Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton, Assume The Position
Monday Musings: Ohio State Arrived Late And Left Early, But Still Got The Job Done
Poll Results: Who Will Win The Big XII?
College Football Haven Top 25, Week 13, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Game Predictions, Week 14, 2010

I matched the 15-8 record from a week ago. I was 2-0 in the MAC, which is normally where I get tripped up. Now, I am 206-94. There are only 19 games on the schedule this week, so I will give predictions to every game.

As always, you are free to chime in with your picks, or at least where you agree or disagree, and we can discuss. If I left off a game that really interests you, throw it out and we can discuss it also.

MAC Championship Game
Northern Illinois vs. Miami (OH), 27-17 No. Illinois

ACC Championship Game
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech, 28-17 Virginia Tech

Big XII Championship Game
Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, 41-31 Nebraska

SEC Championship Game
Auburn vs. South Carolina, 38-35 Auburn

Conference USA Championship Game
SMU vs. UCF, 35-14 UCF

Arizona State at Arizona, 42-41 Arizona
Rutgers at West Virginia, 38-13 West Virginia
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 28-21 Pittsburgh
Utah State at Boise State, 37-21 Boise State
Oregon at Oregon State, 63-27 Oregon
San Jose State at Idaho, 34-10 Idaho
Washington at Washington State, 27-24 Washington
Connecticut at South Florida, 17-10 South Florida
USC at UCLA, 34-21 UCLA
UNLV at Hawaii, 55-21 Hawaii
Middle Tennessee State at Florida International, 31-24 FIU
Nevada at Louisiana Tech, 45-10 Nevada
Troy at Florida Atlantic, 38-7 Troy
Illinois at Fresno State, 28-24 Fresno State

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Weekly Trivia: Wisconsin Badgers Scoring 70 Points
Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton, Assume The Position
Monday Musings: Ohio State Arrived Late And Left Early, But Still Got The Job Done
Poll Results: Who Will Win The Big XII?
College Football Haven Top 25, Week 13, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weekly Trivia: Wisconsin Badgers Scoring 70 Points

The answer to last week's trivia question, "When was the last time that Texas A&M had a better win-loss record than Texas going into their annual game?" is 1998. Texas A&M was 10-1 and Texas was 7-3. The Longhorns, however, won the game 26-24. It was the game that clinched the Heisman Trophy for Texas running back Ricky Williams.

On to this week's question. The Wisconsin Badgers put up 70 points or more on three different occasions this year. Naturally, that makes you wonder:
Before the 2010 season, when was the last time that Wisconsin scored 70 points or more in a single game?
Leave your answer in the comments section. The answer will be revealed next Wednesday when a new question is asked.

For more trivia questions, visit the Trivia page.

Other recent posts on COLLEGE FOOTBALL HAVEN:
Heisman Hopefuls: Cam Newton, Assume The Position
Monday Musings: Ohio State Arrived Late And Left Early, But Still Got The Job Done
Poll Results: Who Will Win The Big XII?
College Football Haven Top 25, Week 13, 2010
Game Predictions, Week 13, 2010