Posts Tagged 'baylor'

College FootBlog Week 1 Recap

Robert Griffin III lit up the TCU defense in a huge opening week upset (photo courtesy of collegesportsmadness.com and google images)

The first week of the 2011 college football season is officially in the books, and while the January bowls are still months away, we did manage to learn quite a bit from opening week.  Here is College FootBlog’s Breakdown from Week 1.

Another year, another over-hyped Notre Dame team:  A lot of hype surrounded the hiring of former Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly.  Because of the dismal state that Charlie Weis left the program in, the expectations were not too high last season.  This season was a different story.  Most preseason polls had the Irish in the top 25, and last weekend’s loss to USF in South Bend was proof yet again that the Irish are not a dominant program.  Much credit needs to go to USF and Skip Holtz, but once again, Notre Dame folded in the face of pressure and played like a team that was afraid of losing, instead of a confident team that expected to win.

RG3 is good.  Very good: While most people who watched TCU fall to Baylor are discussing the fall of TCU from the nation’s elite, we prefer to look at the unbelievable play of Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.  The junior signal-caller did everything except park the cars and sell the popcorn in Baylor’s amazing 50-48 victory over the Horned Frogs.  Griffin III has somewhat flown under the radar because of other NFL prospects in the Big 12 like Blaine Gabbert, Josh Freeman and Landry Jones to name a few, but last weekend was not a fluke.  RG3 came into the season with 41 career touchdown passes, versus only 11 picks.  This will not be the first time you hear from Griffin or the Bears this season.

Auburn could be in for a long season:  The 2010 BCS National Champs had to recover an onside kick and score with less than a minute in their nail-biter against visiting Utah State last weekend.  Much has been made of the Tigers’ holes vacated by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and 13th overall NFL selection Nick Fairley, and the cynics got it right this time.  Auburn could not slow down the Utah State, who racked up 227 yards rushing and 448 total net yards.  With a healthy dose of SEC West opponents, it is only going to get more difficult, and the Tigers will have to fight to be bowl eligible this season.

The SEC is still King.  Just ask the Oregon Ducks:  After Nick Fairley dominated the Oregon offensive line, this year was the Ducks’ opportunity to get respect for themselves and the newly expanded Pac 12, but LSU stood in the way of that, dominating Oregon in the first bigtime match up of the young season.  Despite only getting 98 yards passing from Jarrett Lee, the Tigers stuffed last year’s leading rusher in all of college football, holing LaMichael James to an anemic 54 yards.  Until Oregon can score against the SEC, they can rack up as many yards and points as they want–it just won’t get them back to a title game.

Maryland trumps Oregon in most hideous uniform challenge:  If you watched the Miami vs. Maryland game on Monday night, you may have thown up your hot wings.  The Terps’ uniforms rivaled the uni’s from “Any Given Sunday”–if you’ve seen that horrible movie, you understand the comparison.  Previously, Oregon’s all-fluorescent yellow uniforms took the cake, but Maryland trumped those on Monday.  If nothing else, new head coach Randy Edsall has people (including us) talking and writing about Maryland football, which hadn’t been on the radar since Al Davis, in his infinite wisdom, took former Terp wideout Darirus Heyward-Bey with the Oakland Raiders’ first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Big 12…11…10…9…

The Big 12 Conference is looking more like a countdown for a space shuttle launch than it is a football conference these days.  The 2011 season will be the first year since the inception that, despite still being called the Big 12, the conference will only have ten teams.

Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten (which now has twelve teams) and Colorado moved to greener pastures and potentially more revenue with their move to the newly established Pac 12 Conference.

The Big 12 seems to be shrinking by the day these days (logo courtesy of Big 12 Conference)

Over the last few days, there are more and more rumblings of Texas A&M moving to the SEC, which would likely be straw to break the dwindling Big 12’s back.  But the move to college football’s most powerful conference won’t go through without the Big 12 Conference pulling out all stops to maintain the status quo (if there is one).

Regardless of what the Big 12 officials and the state of Texas choose to do, in the end, A&M would be crazy not to jump at this opportunity.  The SEC has long been the best conference in all of college football, and with their recent contract with ESPN, their recent dominance of the BCS National Championships (an SEC team has won the National Championship in each of the last five years), and recent talk of courting Florida State or Virginia Tech to create two, separate 7-team divisions, the SEC shows no signs of looking back.

When the dust settles, we take a quick peak at where the other teams in the conference could end up:

Texas: The Longhorns should be kicking themselves for not jumping at the opportunity to join Colorado when the Pac 10 came calling last year.  Instead, Utah jumped at the chance to get out of the BCS purgatory known as the Mountain West.  Look for the Pac 12 to become the Pac 14 in an attempt to rival the SEC 2.0 version in 2012 or 2013.

Oklahoma: Like their hated rivals, Texas, there was a lot of talk last year of the Sooners joining the Pac 12, despite the fact that Texas and Oklahoma are nowhere near the Pacific coast, which was the original geographic concept of the conference when they were the Pac 8.  You lost yet?  Anyway, look for the Sooners and Longhorns to continue their rivalry within the same conference, which will likely be the Pac 14.

Missouri: Like the Huskers, the Big Ten courted the Tigers last season, but Mizzou opted to stay, especially once it was confirmed that Texas was staying.  The Big Ten would love to bring on the Tigers and bring a great rivalry with Nebraska inside the conference.  This would make the Big Ten’s thirteenth team, and maybe at this point, they really should think about dropping the “Big Ten” name, even though they have retained that name despite having eleven teams since Penn State joined the conference in 1993.

Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State will have to scramble to find a home.  These programs have had flashes, but unlike Mizzou, Oklahoma and Texas, they haven’t quite been able to crack or stay in the Top 25 for more than a year or two at a time.  And that will hurt them and possibly leave them with no choice but to join a new version of the Mountain West, but for basketball, Kansas may have to pull a Notre Dame and go independent.  Confused yet?

Rumors and scenarios will run rampant in the coming months, but one thing is for sure.  The Big 12 was already on life support, and A&M’s likely departure will be the death of the conference.

College Football Week 7 Prediction: Red River Shootout

In this week’s edition, College FootBlog will break down the match up of one of the most intense rivalries in all of college football–the Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas.  Oklahoma’s quest for a national title was extinguished in their week 5 loss at Miami, but a Big 12 Title and a BCS Bowl game are still a possibility if they can avenge last year’s loss to the Longhorns this weekend.

For Texas, a win this weekend could bump them back to number 2 in the polls, after losing that ranking to Alabama after the Crimson Tide dominated Ole Miss last weekend.  A strong performance from Colt McCoy could also go a long way for his hopes of a Heisman Trophy and put the ‘Horns in a strong position for a run at a national championship.  Needless to say, there is a lot riding on this weekend’s match up.

College FootBlog will analyze each team’s strengths and key concerns this weekend and will make a prediction for of the winner and final score.

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

A win this weekend over OU could put McCoy and the 'Horns in the driver's seat for a national title (google images)

Texas

Strengths:  Heisman hopeful, Colt McCoy leads a Texas offense that averages 311 yard a game passing and 175 yards a game rushing.  The four-year starter’s interceptions are up from his past years and his rushing yards are not where they were last year, but they have put up a whopping 34 touchdowns in their five games this season.

If the ‘Horns are going to win this weekend, McCoy is going to have to play a solid game and distribute the ball to Jordan Shipley and company.

Key Concerns:  The Texas defense has been solid all season, but against pass-happy Texas Tech, they gave up 420 yards passing and three touchdowns.  It should also be noted that the ‘Horns held the Red Raiders to four total yards rushing in that contest. 

OU will present the only other solid passing attack that the Longhorns have faced so far this season.  The secondary will have to step up to keep the Sooners’ passing attack in check.

Oklahoma

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

DT Gerald McCoy leads a potent OU defensive front four (google images)

Strengths: 

OU’s defense has been outstanding all season.  The Sooners have NFL talent at each level, starting with DT Gerald McCoy, who many project as a first rounder in next spring’s NFL Draft. 

Senior linebacker Ryan Reynolds  and fellow senior Keenan Clayton adds leadership in the middle and OU’s two senior cornerbacks, Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson are about as good as you can get in the country at that position.

Key Concerns:  While Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford is back and had a very solid outing last weekend against Baylor, he will see a much different defense this weekend. 

Bradford is as accurate of a quarterback as there is in all of college football, but he has not seen the speed and athleticism this year like he will see on Saturday. 

His throws last weekend looked great, but make no mistake about it–Bradford will get hit this weekend.  How he responds to that will determine how well the Sooners move the football.

Texas Offense vs. Oklahoma Defense

OU’s defense will be by far the best defense that Colt McCoy has had to go against this season.  It is probably the best defense he faces until a bowl game.  Despite the Sooners’ outstanding defense and their ability to create turnovers, the explosive Texas offense will make a few big plays.  Oklahoma will slow McCoy’s offense down, but the ‘Horns will not light things up like they have in their previous five games this season.  Slight EDGE:  Texas

Oklahoma Offense vs. Texas Defense

Bradford’s warm up last weekend against Baylor knocked off some rust and allowed the OU offense a week to get in rhythm with their start QB.  His poise and accuracy will be challenged by the swarming Texas defense.  Look for Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp to mix in some new blitz packages designed to put some shots on Bradford.  Knocking Bradford down could do the trick, but it could also prove costly if the OU quarterback can take advantage of 1 on 1 coverage on the outside.  As with Texas’ offense vs. OU, the Longhorns should be able to slow OU’s offense down, but Bradford is too good to be shut down.  Slight EDGE:  Oklahoma

Special Teams

While Oklahoma has a couple of weapons in the return game in Dominique Franks and DeMarco Murray, Texas has the top kick returner in the country in DJ Monroe, who has brought back two kicks for touchdowns so far this season.  Senior Jordan Shipley had also added two touchdowns off punt returns.  The place kickers for each team have converted nine field goals on the season.  EDGE:  Texas

Prediction

As with the past match ups in this rivalry, this weekend’s game should be a great one and will likely take all four quarters to decide a winner.  In the end, Bradford’s injury could very well have an effect on the game’s outcome–not his ability to throw the ball, but his ability to withstand some hits could likely be a factor.  Also, in games like this, special teams often mean the difference, and the Longhorns have more firepower in that department.  Final Prediction:  Texas wins 31-28