College Football Outside of the South – Big 12

Branching Outside of the Southeastern Conference
As we endeavor to broaden our Southeastern Conference horizons, we shift the focus of this effort to the Big 12.  While each team discussed below is geographically located in the south, “College Football Outside the South” is meant to indicate teams that do not play in the SEC.

This post will examine the top three teams in the Big 12 Conference, the order of which is determined by their ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

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Coach Gundy has made waves in Stillwater.

#14 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is a man, and his Cowboys begin the 2013 campaign as the highest ranked team in the Big 12.  Oklahoma State returns a total of 14 starters, with seven on offense and seven on defense.  The Cowboys won the Big 12 outright in 2011, and narrowly missed playing for the national championship at the end of that year.

Coach Gundy feels that the conference championship race is wide open and the fact that the Cowboys are the highest ranked team in the conference to start the season is an indication of how far the program has come.  The Pokes have gone from pretender to contender under Mike Gundy, but Oklahoma State is still looking for a signature win to prove they belong with the elite teams in college football.

#15 Texas
If experience is the key to success, then the Longhorns are poised for a big year.  Texas returns a total of 19 starters (ten on offense, nine on defense) for a team that went 9-4 in 2012. According to the Orlando Sentinal Sports Blog Texas head coach Mack Brown is under pressure to increase his win total and sharpen the Horns to contend for a championship.  Everything may be bigger in Texas, but losing nine Big 12 games over the past two seasons is too large for the person in charge.

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First appearance by cheerleaders in this blog.  Pretty things up a little.

#16 Oklahoma
It is hard not to wonder how the hell Oklahoma is ranked below Texas. The Sooners have dominated the Longhorns in their head-to-head meetings in the past two seasons by a combined score of 118-38.  That margin has to be seen as comically large for everyone outside of the Lone Star State.

Bob Stoops has a career record of 149 and 37 since he took over the reins of the Sooner schooner.  However, the man affectionately known as “Big Game Bob” has a mediocre record of 7-7 in bowl games. The bottom line is that Stoops has won a national title despite Oklahoma’s miniscule record of 3-5 in BCS games under Stoops.

The Sooners return a total of 11 starters, with seven on offense and four on defense. The biggest question mark for Oklahoma is at quarterback, as their most experienced passer Blake Bell has 20 career pass attempts thus far in his sooner career.

According to the dallas news sports blog, six teams received first place votes in the media’s Big 12 preseason pick.  Looking at the conference from high on my SEC horse, that is an indication that the Big 12 may be in for a down year.  Furthermore, as a football fan who is a bit of a purist, I find it pretty absurd that there are now ten teams in the Big 12, and twelve teams in the Big Ten. Quirks such as these are why Southeastern Conference football is so easy to love.

This blog must end with a classic photograph of my favorite Big 12 athlete ever, Adrian Peterson.

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Maddawg’s Play of The Day November 20, 2011– Looking at Georgia’s running back issues

The biggest story of the college football weekend unfolded under the Friday night lights. #2 Oklahoma State fell into Iowa State’s trap, as the Cyclones left the Cowboys’ head spinning. While this development is not likely to bother many outside of Stillwater, the horrific off the field circumstances surrounding Oklahoma State’s loss are tragic. Hopefully the Oklahoma State community can rally the Pokes to their first at large Bowl Championship Series bid. A BCS bowl appearance may be on the line in two weeks when the Cowboys face the Sooners in the Bedlam game.

As for LSU, the Tigers walloped the Ole Miss Rebels by a final score of 52-3, strengthening their grip on the #1 ranking. LSU and Arkansas each have a short week before the two teams meet in a Friday afternoon showdown in week 13. The Tigers have a long way to go before they can play for the national championship, but for now LSU is unquestionably the best team in the nation. It is expected that Arkansas will be the new #3 in the upcoming BCS standings. Friday’s game between the Razorbacks and Tigers is must see for college football fans, as Arkansas could steal the SEC West with a win.

Will Carlton Thomas ever learn from his mistakes?

For the Georgia Bulldogs, Saturday’s game against Kentucky was not one for the highlight reel. However, the Georgia Bulldogs are the SEC East champions of 2011. The Dawgs got their all-important ninth win in a row beating the Kentucky Wildcats 19-10.  Now, Georgia has some issues to address as they begin preparing for Georgia Tech. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that Georgia running back Carlton Thomas broke another rule. Thomas has already been suspended twice this season. The Georgia Bulldogs are paper thin at the tailback position, and they desperately need positive contributions from the junior ball carrier if the Dawgs hope to continue their win streak.

However, how many chances should one player get? Carlton Thomas has been in trouble three times in 2011 alone. He was suspended once for a violation of team rules before the season, again for the homecoming game, and he missed the crucial victory against Kentucky. As of this writing, Thomas’ absence from the week 12 contest has not been termed a third suspension.

Much to the chagrin of Bulldog Nation, freshman sensation Isaiah Crowell never got a chance to get going against Kentucky. Crowell left the game hurt following his second carry when one of his own teammates landed on top of his ankle. The AJC reports that Isaiah Crowell is questionable for next week against the Yellow Jackets.  Whether Crowell attempts to come back against Georgia Tech, or the Dawgs decide he needs to take a week to heal, Georgia needs Isaiah Crowell at full strength to have a chance at upsetting the LSU Tigers in the SEC Championship Game. (or whoever comes out of the wild SEC West)

Maddawg’s Play of The Day goes to the season altering upset that may have won the Heisman Trophy for Robert Griffin III. With all due respect to Matt Barkley and the Trojans’ tremendous victory over the Oregon Ducks, Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma before last night.  “RG3″ had his “Heisman moment” as Baylor was trying to get into field goal range to upset Oklahoma. With 17 seconds left, Griffin III took the snap and threw a pass that will go down as one of the biggest plays ever in the history of Baylor football. The game winning touchdown toss gave the Baylor Bears a 45-38 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners.

Following his spectacular performance, Robert Griffin III has 33 touchdown passes and 5 interceptions. His numbers are comparable to anyone in the nation. There is not a player in college football this season that has done more with less than “RG3.” The Heisman vote will have to wait, but Robert Griffin III is the first two time award winner of Maddawg’s Play of The Day.



The Bowl Championship Series Standings- taking a look at the first BCS poll of 2011.

This year the BCS has served its purposeWeek 8 of college football signifies that the season is more than halfway over. While that can be a downer for diehard football fans, there is some very good news. The Bowl Championship Series chaos has only just begun. Moreover, with the release of the first BCS standings a rarity has occurred. This year, the BCS got it exactly right.

The top eight teams in the standings are all undefeated, and the #9 team must play the current number one before the year is over. Like it or not, the BCS has set college football up for a brilliant finish to the regular season. Southeastern Conference love aside,  November 5th is even bigger now because it sets up one of the most highly anticipated regular season match-ups ever– LSU and Alabama in a BCS #1 vs #2 clash. In addition to that, while there is not a Big 12 title game this year, there will be a de facto BCS playoff game between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on December 3rd.

Stanford and Oregon meet on November 12th. If neither team loses before that date, the game will be another battle between two of the top 10 BCS teams. Who stands to benefit from these highly ranked teams butting heads? Boise State. As long as the Broncos can go undefeated they can sit back and watch as teams ranked ahead of them eliminate each other.

Not everything is perfect though, especially if you are a fan of the Clemson Tigers, or Wisconsin Badgers. But the reality is that neither one of these teams played anyone good enough to merit a birth in the national championship if there are other undefeated teams ranked ahead of them at the end of the regular season. For proof, take a look at Wisconsin’s schedule. Their biggest win to date was against Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers have not beaten a ranked opponent this season. Whether that is fair or not is irrelevant, as Boise State deals with the same problem on a yearly basis.

As for Clemson, they must finish the season unbeaten. On top of that they need to become a big fan of their in state rival South Carolina Gamecocks to have only one loss going into the “Battle of the Palmetto State” on November 26th. Beating a one loss SEC team would certainly help Clemson’s case if they are still undefeated heading into the final week of the regular season.

There is no such thing as a perfect system when it comes to crowning a champion in college football. Even if there were a playoff, the last team left out would gripe about getting the shaft. (This happens in college basketball where there is a 64 team tournament AND a first round play in game.) The 2011 Bowl Championship Series standings set up intriguing games throughout the rest of the regular season. College football fans everywhere should be pleased with that.

Barrie can keep watching Steve Spurrier drag his headset.  I’ll take a Nick Saban rant any   day of the week.