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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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.



 

Maddawg’s Sports Weekend Itinerary (October 7 – 9, 2011)

The second weekend in October brings about classic rivalries and intriguing games in college football. The cream is starting to rise to the top in college football as there seems to be a real separation between the top eight teams and everyone else. (For examples see: Oregon-LSU, Wisconsin-Nebraska, and Alabama-Florida.) All of these games were one-sided with the strong surviving.

Fast forward to this week: The Red River Rivalry takes center stage in Dallas, Texas at noon. Following that, the Florida Gators (without starting quarterback Jeff Brantley) must face the AP #1 LSU Tigers. Finally, in  the nightcap my beloved Georgia Bulldogs face a huge roadblock in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Baseball is also heating up with a pair of game 5′s Friday night.  It would be nice to see the Milwaukee Brewers make a deep post-season run since Prince Fielder has already said he is going to test the free agent market. It could have been fun to see the Yankees make it to the World Series only to lose, because I get a chuckle out of watching the Yankees debate the future of their skipper (Joe Girardi) after making it all the way to the World Series. Sorry Mr. Girardi, but the yearly evaluation of your future is underway much sooner than you would have hoped.

Getting back to America’s new pastime on the pro side, the Falcons have a put up or shut up game against the Packers in Week 5. The Dirty Birds gave up 319 yards through the air courtesy of Tarvaris Jackson while barely getting by Seattle last week. With Aaron Rodgers and the Super Bowl champion Packers coming to town it is critical that the Falcons defend the Dome.

Last week, I picked 8 winners and 2 losers. The NFL selections were stellar, (5-0) but the Saturday predictions were just above average (3-2.) Texas A&M needs to figure out how to hold a lead. As for the Clemson Tigers, I have been fooled two weeks in a row now. Shame on me.

College Football Picks



The Red River Rivalry defines Oklahoma and Texas during the regular season. Bragging rights are at stake in a feature match-up in the Big 12. The difference will be the quarterbacks. OU has Landry Jones and Texas is still trying to figure out who their main man under center is. That spells trouble for the Longhorns.

Oklahoma 41, Texas 24

Next up, Georgia Tech takes on the Terrapins of Maryland. Maryland has been an enigma, beating Miami on a Monday night, but then getting decimated by Temple. It will be close but the Jackets will keep on buzzing.

Georgia Tech 26 Maryland 21

The game between Florida and LSU has lost a lot of luster since Jeff Brantley is unable to play due to injury. The Gators do have other weapons, but with an inexperienced quarterback they are going to struggle against the Associated Press #1.

LSU 38 Florida 14

The fighting Bobby Petrinos got a reprieve from the Alabama loss after beating Texas A&M last week. They are already back in the Top 10 one game removed from being rolled by the Tide. Now, they host the Auburn Tigers who are fresh off a win against the Gamecocks. (Thank you Auburn) However, Bob-O and company win a close one at home.

Arkansas 38 Auburn 35

A hobnail boot encore:



Georgia and Tennessee renew their rivalry in an all-important SEC East clash in Knoxville Saturday night. The Dawgs are narrowly favored on the road and the line is likely to be even by kickoff.

Georgia 34 Tennessee 24

Onto the NFL.

Usually, I’m a homer, but I wouldn’t pick the Falcons this week– unless the Packers’ bus breaks down. Maybe Aaron Rodgers strains an oblique during warm ups. If he plays all 4 quarters he may throw for 500 yards.

Packers 42 Falcons 21

Philadelphia gets a much needed win against the Bills.

Eagles 30 Bills 23.

Patriots beat the Jets who are reeling from last week.

Patriots 41, Jets 20

The Bears won’t be able to tame the Detroit Lions.

Lions 38 Bears 14

Lastly, the Saints won’t march, but they will squeak by Cam Newton and the Panthers. New Orleans wins on the road.

Saints 34 Panthers 31.