Archive for the ‘Big 12 conference’ Category

By Chris Bates

     This year’s bowl season provides quite a storyline.  Teams  around the country were invited to different bowls than what they expected.  This year’s BCS race was closer than recent years, especially the race between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Oklahoma State.  Only .824 percentage points separated the two schools.  Voters were asked why they stuck with Alabama at No.2 over Oklahoma State and many of them said because Alabama’s loss was not as significant as Oklahoma State’s loss.  The Crimson Tide lost to No. 1 LSU in overtime, which is not a bad loss.  Oklahoma State on the other hand lost to a 6 win and unranked Iowa State team, a much more significant loss. 

Some strange bowl matchups

Poinsettia Bowl- TCU vs. Louisiana Tech.  The Horned Frogs had hopes of a BCS bowl after recording 10 wins for the 2nd consecutive season.  Instead, they get rewarded with the Poinsettia Bowl and although TCU didn’t get an invite to a BCS bowl, head coach Gary Patterson said his team is not disappointed and will play whatever game they are awarded.  This matchup, in my opinion, will not be close at all.  The Bulldogs did finish the regular season 8-4 and won their first WAC title since 2001.  Louisiana Tech enters the game on a seven game winning streak, their longest since 1973-74.  They have been impressive this season in beating SEC school Ole Miss on the road and shutting out Nevada 44-0.  Louisiana Tech’s defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 10 of their 12 games this season.  Their defense is the strength of this team.  A conference best 20 interceptions were recorded and the Bulldogs ranked 11th nationally in turnover margin.

         On the TCU side, their defense is not as stout as in years past but they have improved in every game this season.  The Horned Frogs also come in on a seven game winning streak, including a thrilling 36-35 victory at Boise State.  They were questions early on in the season if TCU could overcome the loss of quarterback Andy Dalton after losses to Baylor and SMU.  Quarterback Casey Pachall has silenced those critics throwing 24 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. 

Final Score Prediction TCU 35 LA Tech 17.

Allstate Sugar Bowl-Michigan vs. Virginia Tech.  This is a matchup of two teams that did not win their conference, yet they get bids in a BCS bowl.  Michigan coach Brady Hoke is a candidate for Coach of the Year as he has brought Michigan back, but I do not agree with these 2 schools being chosen for this game.  There are better candidates for this BCS game, in my opinion, such as TCU and  Kansas State.  Both the Frogs and Wildcats have more wins than these 2 schools and deserve their chance in a BCS bowl. 

      Boise State is another team that should be in this game as they are one missed field goal away from an undefeated season and a possible berth in the BCS National Championship game.  Instead, they lose by 1 point to TCU and get rewarded with the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas.  The Broncos have proven over the years that they can win the big game against big schools on a neutral field, why not give them that chance this year?  With this being said, fans have to watch the games that were chosen and the advantage in this game goes to Michigan.  I don’t think the Hokies have enough on defense to stop Denard Robinson and company. 

       Michigan’s defense is much improved but Virginia Tech’s run game is the key to this matchup.  Led by star running back David Wilson (1,627 yards and 9 touchdowns), the Hokies have a legitimate chance to win.  Watch out for the special teams play of Va Tech as Frank Beamer’s teams always seem to come up with the big punt block or punt return for touchdown.  Bud Foster is the Special Teams Coordinator, he usually has something up his sleeve in games like this.

Final score prediction however, Mich 31 VT 24.

Capital One Bowl- South Carolina vs. Nebraska.

       Nebraska’s first year in the Big Ten did not go as they had planned.  Expectations before the season was the Big Ten Championship and a BCS bowl, that obviously did not happen.  This is a tough matchup for the Huskers as South Carolina comes in with a stout defense ranked No.4 in the nation.  Down the stretch, the Gamecocks have had to rely on their defense as their star sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore was lost for the season with a torn ACL. 

        The key to this game will be how does South Carolina’s excellent defensive line led by Jadeveon Clowney stop the powerful rushing attack that Nebraska presents.  Quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead lead the nation’s 14th ranked rushing offense.  Nebraska loves to run the option with Martinez and Burkhead, the defensive line of South Carolina must stay at home and not over commit or it will be a long day in trying to stop the dangerous offensive backfield of Nebraska.

     This game will be closer than people think, going down to the wire.  In the end, I think South Carolina pulls it out.  The series between these two conferences is dead-locked.  In the past 18 bowl games between the conferences, the series is tied 9-9.  This should be another great game.

Final Score Prediction: SCAR: 20 NEB:17.

Tositos Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. Stanford.

     This is not the matchup Cowboy fans were hoping for after their dominant 44-10 schlacking of Oklahoma.  But OSU nonetheless still has had a great season.  OSU is led by the dangerous duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.  This is a matchup of 2 top 20 offenses in the nation.  The Cowboys come into this game with the nation’s 4th best offense, the Cardinal boosts the nation’s 14th best offense.  Quarterback Andrew Luck is a Heisman Trophy candidate and many scouts feel he will be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.   Both offenses have the ability to make the big play to beat you, 2 0r 3 play drives should not be uncommon. 

      The key to this game is whichever offense wins the time of possession battle wins this game, in my opinion.   The long sustained drives that wear out defenses are always key, but especially in this game.  With both offenses abilities to make the big play, it puts more pressure on the opposing defenses to enforce their will.  OSU’s defense has been brilliant down the stretch.  Cornerback Brodrick Brown leads the Cowboys with 5 interceptions on the season.

     Andrew Luck’s ability to find the open receiver and not make mistakes I think will be the difference in the game.  If OSU’s defense can put pressure on Luck or rattle him, that will bid well for their chances to win the game.  This will be a classic BCS bowl game with OSU continuing their hot streak and coming out with the victory.

Final Score Prediction:  OSU: 34 STAN: 30.

     Now to the game that everyone has been talking about, the BCS National Championship between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama.

      There is a lot of controversy surrounding this game as people around the country have their different takes on who should be No. 2, Alabama or Oklahoma State.  I have heard people asking how can a team that didn’t win its conference be rewarded with the Championship game?  My answer to that is because of the schedules that both teams played.  Alabama had a better strength of schedule than OSU and they played harder games in the SEC than the Cowboys did in the Big 12.  At the end of the day, the voters decision to keep Bama at No. 2 and not jump OSU to that spot is because of the greater impact of the losses both teams had.  If OSU hadn’t lost to an unranked Iowa State team, there would be no debate.  Many people feel that the voters got it right, these are the two best teams in the nation playing for the national title. 

     LSU comes in with the nation’s best defense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate at cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.   Alabama has the nation’s No. 2 defense.  A rematch of the 9-6 overtime victory by LSU is the right matchup, in my opinion.  This game will not be the defensive struggle that the last game was.  Each team will score at least 1 touchdown and each defense will make big plays down the stretch.  Keep an eye on LSU’s punt return game led by Mathieu.  Mathieu has returned punts for touchdowns in each of the last 2 games against Arkansas and Georgia.  Alabama must stick to their lanes and not over commit when covering the punts. 

     This game will live up to the hype and fans won’t be disappointed in this matchup being chosen as it will be decided in the final minutes just like last game.  Although LSU won in Tuscaloosa in the previous matchup, I think the Crimson Tide re-pays the favor to the Tigers and stops LSU’s undefeated season.

Final Score Prediction:  ALA: 16 LSU:13.  The Crimson Tide win the National Championship for the 2nd time in 4 years in LSU’s home state of Louisiana in New Orleans.

For a complete listings on bowl games, click here.

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By Chris Bates

     This week in college football is one of the best in recent years.  This week will go a long way to deciding what teams will potentially play for the national championship and what team or teams will suffer their first loss.  It all starts with the biggest game of the weekend that takes place in Tuscaloosa.  #1  LSU faces #2 Alabama in a clash of the 2 best teams in the SEC.

LSU vs. Alabama

     This matchup will be all about defense.  Both teams are top 5 nationally in total defense, Alabama ranks 1st and LSU is 4th.  Bama only gives up 180.5 yards per game total, their defense is relentless and loves to get after the quarterback.  The Crimson Tide have given up just 6 touchdowns all season.  LSU gives up 251 yards per game and has allowed just 10 touchdowns all season.  This game will be the best one of the season by far and one of the best games of the decade.  Both teams offenses do an excellent job of not turning the ball over.  Alabama is known for their tough running game.  Bama running back Trent Richardson is just 11 yards shy of 1,000 for the season and quarterback A.J. McCarron has been efficient this year throwing 10 TD’s and only 3 interceptions.  LSU uses 2 quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee (1,250 yards, 13 TD 1 INT.) and Jordan Jefferson (123 yards, 2 TD 0 INT).  Jefferson was suspended for the first 3 games of the season after an off-season incident where he was arrested for stealing campus computers and other supplies. 

Keys to the Game

      Whichever defense can put more pressure on the opponent will have the upper hand.  Obviously with Alabama being at home they have the advantage (5 point favorite) but LSU is a great night road team.  The Tigers are 30-1 in their last 31 road night games, and  21 of those wins were against ranked opponents.  LSU will be ready for Bama, no question about it.  The question is can LSU’s offense do something that no team has done yet this year, score on Alabama’s defense.  This game is the epitome of SEC football, hard-nosed defense and hard-hitting.  For LSU to win this game, they must do what they do best, control the time of possession.  Keeping Alabama’s defense on the field will wear them down making them vulnerable and susceptible to the big play.  Jarrett Lee has been accurate this season and has shown he can be an every down quarterback in the SEC. 

      For Alabama, they must run the football.  Although, LSU ranks 3rd nationally in rushing defense (only allow 60 yards per game) they have the running backs to give the LSU defense fits.  Trent Richardson is a bruising back who will run through you and over you.  Eddie Lacy is the change of pace back for Bama but is also another hard  runner.  The Crimson Tide has been able to score this season because of their running game.  It forces teams to bring their safeties up allowing for play-action passes and big plays on the sidelines by quarterback A.J. McCarron.  Look for this to happen in this game.

Prediction

      Neither quarterback is an NFL quarterback but both are efficient and smart players.  Whichever defense can cause more turnovers will win this game.  I give the edge to Alabama slightly because the game is being played in Tuscaloosa.  I have thought all season that Alabama is the best team in the country and I think they will prove that on Saturday night.  The game will be a defensive struggle but in the end the Crimson Tide will win.

ALA: 16 LSU:13

   Other interesting college football games are on tap for this weekend including Texas vs. Texas Tech and Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma.

    Texas comes in ranked 21st in the country despite not having beaten a ranked team this season.  Texas Tech is coming off their worst loss of the season losing 41-7 at home against Iowa State.  That came a week after they upset the Sooners in Norman 41-38.  Texas is 13th nationally in total defense, but they have not played an offense ranked in the top 50 nationally.  This is the first real test for the Longhorns.

  For Tech, they must get back to playing their no huddle fast-paced offense which they got away from last week.  Texas has struggled against the no-huddle offense this season, losing to both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  If Tech can run their offense like they should, I see them defeating the Longhorns.  Seth Doege is a great quarterback for the Red Raiders and the Longhorns have a young secondary.

Final Score: TTU: 38 TEX: 24.

OU vs. Texas A&M

    The Aggies are unranked for the first time season after blowing another double digit halftime lead.  The loss to Missouri at home was the 3rd double-digit halftime lead the Aggies have blown this season.  Before the season started, people were circling their calendars for this game as a potential Big 12 championship/national title contender game.  Texas A&M is 2 or 3 plays away from being undefeated but they have had trouble stopping the pass this year which is really somewhat of a mystery considering their secondary is full of seniors.  The Aggies are last in FBS football vs the pass.  OU is coming off a 58-17 thrashing of then undefeated and #8 Kansas State in Manhattan.  The Sooners still have a shot at the National Championship if they can win out.  Their 31 game home winning streak was snapped by Texas Tech in their last game in Norman.  Look for the Sooners to start a new home winning streak this Saturday.

Final Score: OU: 48 A&M: 30

By Chris Bates

     With the news that TCU is joining the Big 12 conference to replace the departure of Texas A&M to the SEC, the conference is looking to add at least two more teams.  Missouri is the latest team looking to leave the Big 12.  Reports are they are applying for admission into the SEC to become the 14th member but the SEC isn’t interested in accepting them at this time.   All indications are that Missouri will remain in the Big 12 at this time.

Who is the conference looking to add?

     Reports indicate that the Big 12 is looking at sending invitations to Louisville and West Virginia, both members of the Big East Conference.  The Big East was home to TCU for next season but the Horned Frogs paid a $5 million exit fee to join the Big 12.  The Big East has since raised their exit fee to $10 million.  In late September, the Big East and the Big 12 were talking about a possible merger with the conference to become a “superconference” but those talks have since died down.  The Big 12 has had talks about adding Air Force as a possible member but Air Force has declined the invitation citing that they are not a good fit in the conference for recruiting purposes.  Reports are that the Big 12 has been looking to add BYU  as a member for some time and the Cougars initially wanted to remain independent but are now talking to the conference again.  If BYU joins and Missouri leaves, look for Cincinatti, Louisville and West Virginia to become hot targets for invitations.  Continue to monitor this expansion closely as updates will be provided on any new invitations or departures.

What should the Big 12 do?

      In my opinion, the Big 12 should look to add 2 more schools to get a conference championship game back.  Having just 10 teams for what used to be one of the best conferences in the country is not what college football fans want to see.  If the conference is able to add West Virginia that will give the Big 12 more credibility as WVU as been a solid football team for the last 5 years.  Revenue should and will go up as more teams join the Big 12.  I think it would even be a good idea for the conference to re-explore a merger with the Big East and have a 16 team conference such as the the Pac 12 was talking about doing last year but decided it was in their best interest to not expand to 16 teams.  The current state of the Big 12 conference continues to be a topic of interest around the college football landscape.

By Chris Bates

   This week in college football there are numerous impactful games that affect the college football landscape.  Here are some of the impactful games:

Texas A&M vs. Baylor 

            #21 Texas A&M and#20 Baylor will face off in the Battle of the Brazos River on Saturday at 11 a.m.  The two teams will be meeting for only the 7th time in history when both teams are ranked.  Texas A&M leads the all-time series 67-31-9.  A&M is led by senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill who has passed for 1,327 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.  He has not had the best season, but there are still games to be played.  A&M also has two good running backs in senior Cyrus Gray (averaging 95.8 rush yards per game) and junior Christine Michael (averaging 92 rypg).   Look for the Aggies to run the ball against Baylor’s defense that ranks 83rd in the nation against the run.  A&M is 17th nationally is rush offense, averaging 220 ypg.  A&M’s offense has been good all season long despite having 2 monumental second half collapses.  The Aggies rank 12th nationally in total offense (493.4 ypg), 18th in scoring offense (39 points per game) and the offensive line has only given up 3 sacks all season.

             Baylor is led by quarterback Robert Griffin III, also known as RG3 to Bears fans.  Griffin has had a breakout season passing for 1,520 yards with 19 touchdowns and only one interception.  He is completing 80 percent of his passes (114 for 142).  Baylor’s offense ranks third nationally in total offense (562.8 ypg) and fourth in scoring (47.6 ppg).  Running back Terence Ganaway averages 107 ypg on the ground.  Defensively, A&M leads the nation in sacks per game (4.2).  They will need every bit of that pressure against the athletic Griffin.  The Aggies rank 7th nationally in rush defense, only allowing 79 ypg but it is their pass defense that has been their achilles heel all season long.  A&M ranks 120th nationally in pass defense and 99th in total defense.

 Keys to the game         

          The Aggies have faced some real good players this year but Griffin may be the best they will face all season long.  Baylor has not faced a pair of running backs the Aggies possess yet this season.  They must find out a way to stop the run.  On the other side, the Aggies must force turnovers and put pressure on Griffin and Co. if they want to stop the high-scoring and explosive Bears offense. 

Prediction

               I see the game being a shootout but because the game is in College Station I think the Aggies will come out on top in a fight to the finish. The Aggies are 13-2 vs. the Bears since both joined the Big 12 conference.  If the game was in Waco, I think Baylor would win but with it being in College Station I think the Aggies take care of business, 42-38.

Texas vs. Oklahoma State

              The Texas Longhorns are coming off one of their worst losses in recent years to the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners.  The Longhorns were trounced 55-17 in the Red River Rivalry and dropped from #11 in the polls to #22.  It does not get any easier this week.  Oklahoma State travels to Austin with a #6 ranking, they are a conference and national title contender.  Until last season’s 33-16 victory over the Longhorns in Austin, Oklahoma State had not won in Austin since 1944.  Last year’s team won 11 games, they are even better this year.  Oklahoma State is coming off a 70-28 thrashing of Kansas in which they had two quarterbacks (starter Brandon Weeden and backup Clint Chelf) each throw for at least 200 yards for the first time in NCAA history.  Oklahoma State leads the country in scoring (51.4 ppg), second in passing offense (431.2) and second in total offense (577.4).  Defensively, Oklahoma State does give up points ranking 71st nationally.  Under Mack Brown, the Longhorns have had success coming off of losses.  They are 15-0 following a loss and 13-0 following the OU game.

Keys to the Game

          Oklahoma State is led by senior quarterback Brandon Weeden and Biletnikoff winner for best receiver in the country last year Justin Blackmon.  The two are the top duo in the country in terms of pass connections per game (10 completions per game).  Texas has dominated this series, winning 22 of the 25 matchups between the teams.  Mack Brown needs to pick one quarterback, either true freshman David Ash or redshirt sophomore Case McCoy.  The offense looked out of sync against OU’s defense with both quarterbacks playing.  If Brown can choose one, Texas will be better on offense but they must stop Weeden and Blackmon of OSU and I don’t see that happening.  OSU should use the same gameplan OU had vs. Texas, pressure the young quarterbacks.  It is clear that after watching last week’s game, Texas is vulnerable on their offensive line and has trouble reading blitz packages.  Look for Oklahoma State to have a repeat effort on defense like last week against Kansas when they forced 4 turnovers and had 9 tackles for loss.

Prediction

       I don’t see this game being close at all despite being played in Austin.  I see the Cowboys picking up their 4th win in the series and easily defeating the Longhorns, 49-14.

Other games slated for this week in college football:

11 Michigan vs. 23 Michigan State

1 LSU vs. Tennessee

Florida vs. 24 Auburn

18 Arizona State vs. 9 Oregon

17 Kansas State vs. Texas Tech