College Football Thoughts – Conference Championship Week

ohio_state_urban_meyerUndefeated Ohio State Should be Ranked Ahead of one Loss Auburn
If the Buckeyes can best the Spartans on Saturday night, Urban Meyer and company deserve to play for a national championship.  The Ohio State University has won 24 football games in a row dating back to 2012.  On the contrary, Auburn needed back-to-back Christmas miracles to make it into the SEC Championship Game.

Should Sparty stun the Buckeyes this weekend, the winner of the Southeastern Conference title showdown between Auburn and Missouri will likely play Florida State for college football’s ultimate prize.  Even though anything can happen in college football, I feel confident FSU will defeat Duke.

The Targeting Rule Needs to be Amended, but it is not Going Anywhere
Safety is the number one priority at every level of football.  The changes to the targeting rule are representative of the emphasis on protecting players from concussions.  As far as properly enforcing the rule, referees have been pretty hit or miss.

There have been some excruciatingly bad targeting calls this season, along with cases where obvious fouls went undetected, such as in Navy versus San Jose State.

Wave Ryder is the Midshipmen defender at the center of the play in question, apologies in advance for the low-quality of the video below.  Searching for Wave Ryder highlights brings up a variety of topics in Google.



One aspect of the targeting rule in need of further examination is the 15 yard penalty assessed regardless of whether the ruling is upheld.  Logic dictates this penalty serves as incentive for defenders to go low when attempting to make a stop.  Still, it is unfair to impose an automatic first down on an overturned targeting infraction, because doing so can change the complexion of a contest.

Todd Grantham Will Coordinate Georgia’s Defense Until his Contract is up
The unrest in Athens continues to grow due to UGA’s inability to get the opposition off the field consistently.  Do not hold your breathe for a change on defense.

As current associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs, Todd Grantham is not going anywhere until the end of his current contract. Unless, of course,  he receives a better job offer.  The former NFL assistant stands to make $850,000 a year for the next two years.  His contract expires at the end of 2015.

This season has been about dealing with injuries and breaking in new players.  While Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 defense can be frustrating to watch, having a negative turnover ratio certainly does not help.  According to Sports Illustrated, coach Richt is adamant his coaching staff will remain intact.  As a loyal Dawg, I hope Todd Grantham does not spend his offseason waiting by the phone for job offers.  Still, if he wants to leave, adios.

Picking Winners
The 2013 college football campaign has been filled with twists and turns. Conference championship weekend should be no exception.
Predictions (Automatic Qualifier Conference Championship Games Only).

ACC: Florida State 34, Duke 13.
Big Ten: Ohio State 34, Michigan State 21.
Pac-12: Stanford 31, Arizona State 17.
SEC: Missouri 35, Auburn 28.

College Football Outside of the South – Pacific 12

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Who will be the new face of Oregon football?

College Football Outside of The SEC Bubble
I love Southeastern Conference football.  As a fan, most of what I am invested in takes place within the realm of the SEC.  However, it is healthy to acknowledge that college football is played in other areas of the country as well.  This particular post will focus on college football on the west coast, specifically in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon
It will be fun to see how the most dynamic offense in college football adjusts to having a new head duck. The departure of Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles sent shock waves throughout football. That is, after he decided to come back to Oregon, then he changed his mind again and left for the city of Brotherly Love. Coach Kelly leaves a legacy of being an offensive guru in Eugene, but he also helped get Oregon put on probation as a parting gift.

Mark Helfrich is now the head coach in Oregon town as he inherits a team that is loaded on offense with eight starters coming back. SB Nation revealed that one of the reasons Chip Kelly decided to try his hand in the NFL is because he knew nothing would change in the Oregon offense under Mark Helfrich, who had been the offensive coordinator for the Ducks since 2009.

Stanford
The fact that Stanford won the 2013 Rose Bowl without former quarterback Andrew Luck speaks volumes about the Cardinal commitment to success.  When the previous Stanford head coach (Jim Harbaugh) left for the National Football League, I assumed that Cardinal Football would go back to dwelling in mediocrity.  I could not have been more wrong.

The 2012 Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year David Shaw has the fans in Stanford, California dreaming of a national championship. The Cardinal returns seven starters on offense, and a robust ten starters on the defensive side of the ball. Stanford figures to be in a tight battle with the Oregon Ducks all season long. The media gave Oregon the slight edge in their Pac-12 North preseason pick. Even so, I have always been a huge fan of the Stanford Tree.

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The Stanford Tree wreaks of awesomeness.

UCLA
I must admit to having very little interest in Bruins football once the ball is snapped. My curiosity with UCLA is triggered by their current head football coach, “Jim Mora Jr.”  The man born James Lawrence Mora (according to Wikipedia) was the head football coach in Atlanta during the Michael Vick days. His tenure began in 2004 with a bang when the Falcons played for the NFC title at the end of the season, but it ended with him being fired after the thud of back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

I have heard unconfirmed stories that coach Mora can be combative.  I never passed judgement until I was watching ESPN’s The Herd (hosted by Doug Gottlieb who was in for Colin Cowherd) and the following interview unfolded.  Given how poorly he handled the situation, I cannot take Jim Mora Jr. seriously as a leader of young men.



USC
Since leaving the Tennessee Volunteers high and dry in January of 2010, Lane Kiffin has gotten exactly what he deserved.  After leading the Trojans through their probation, USC appeared all set to fight for the college football throne once again. Hell, I picked them to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs in the BCS National Championship Game last year. The University of Southern California proceeded to go 7-6, and fall off the horse before they could even get going. The Trojans DID cap the season off by losing to a team from Georgia, Tech, that is, in the Sun Bowl. USC reportedly broke out into a brawl pitting teammate against teammate, too.

Coming into this season, about the only thing going right for Lane Kiffin is that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that he is not on the hot seat.  If the Trojans do not improve drastically in 2013, the temperature of the head coach’s chair figures to rise considerably.

Maddawg’s Play of The Day – College Football Week 11 (November 12, 2011)

Week 11 of the 2011 college football season was a time for weeding out pretenders in the Bowl Championship Series standings. As a result, three undefeated teams remain, but only two of them are in contention to play for the national title. The unblemished Houston Cougars have cracked the top ten for the first time this week, but their lackluster schedule will prevent them from being in the national championship picture. On the contrary, the target on the #1 LSU Tigers and #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys grows even larger as the two squads try to maintain their respective places atop the BCS mountain. Alabama is lurking at #3 but they need more help to get that rematch the Tide faithful are praying for.

The Georgia Bulldogs won convincingly at home, dominating the Auburn Tigers by a final score of 45-7. Georgia Quarterback Aaron Murray picked an opportune time to have the best game of his young career, as the Dawgs had to win to stay in first place in the SEC East. Murray was on fire Saturday afternoon, as he finished the game 14 out of 18 throwing the ball with 4 touchdown passes and no interceptions. Georgia’s running game was equally impressive, as the biggest offensive line in football allowed both Carlton Thomas and Isaiah Crowell to run for over 100 yards. The Georgia Bulldogs were cooking on all cylinders, as the result of the game was never in doubt after Georgia broke the 7-7 tie before the end of the first quarter. Georgia’s defense shut down Auburn’s offense following their initial scoring drive. The Dawgs never let go of the Tigers’ tail, as they held Auburn under 200 total yards of offense. The 4-6 Kentucky Wildcats are all that remains between the Dawgs and the Dome.

Perennial BCS buster Boise State had a bad case of Horned Frog fever Saturday afternoon, and they are undefeated no more after losing at home to TCU. While that is technically not a good thing for Georgia it was gratifying to see the Broncos finally lose on that ridiculous blue field. Saturday marked Boise State’s first home conference loss since 1998. The Broncos have opened the door for Case Keenum and the aforementioned Houston Cougars to possibly crash this year’s BCS party.

Elsewhere in college football, Oregon went up and down the field on Stanford as the Ducks handed the Cardinal their first loss of 2011. Oregon put fifty points on Stanford for the second year in a row as the Ducks never trailed in the contest. Highly regarded Cardinal signal caller Andrew Luck was average as he threw three touchdown passes and two picks. The Stanford stand out has a bright future, but the team around him does not have enough fire power to contend for a BCS title.

The previously mentioned #1 LSU Tigers and #2 Oklahoma State Cowboys each looked strong in victory. The Cowboys embarrassed Texas Tech as they roped,and then hogtied the Raiders by a final score of 66-6 in Lubbock. LSU appeared disinterested throughout the first half of their match-up with Western Kentucky, but they followed that up with a 28 point second half as the Tigers roared to a 42-9 win.

Maddawg’s Play of The Day belongs to Georgia’s main man under center Aaron Murray. With his four touchdown performance on Saturday, Murray set a new single season record for passing TD’s at the University of Georgia with 27. The previous mark was held by Matthew Stafford who threw 25 touchdown passes in 2008. With a victory this Saturday against Kentucky Aaron Murray and the Dawgs will have a chance to bring the SEC title back to Athens. The 2011 Georgia Bulldogs have already ensured that Mark Richt will remain the head coach for the foreseeable future. They have also given Bulldog Nation a bite that is as rough as our bark. An SEC title along with a birth in a BCS bowl would be a remarkable finale to a fantastic season.



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.