Archive for the ‘NCAA Football’ Category

Cam Newton v. LaMichael James

If you had looked at the final BCS standings for the 2010-11 season, you could not have even called, hell, even took a stab in the dark that the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks held the number 1 and 2 spot, respectively. With predicted favorites Alabama and Ohio State falling early in a roller coaster of a season, in which five different teams held the top spot in the BCS standings, who would have known that the #11 preseason ranked Ducks would be squaring off against a #22 preseason ranked Auburn team. It only makes sense when each team had a Heisman finalist to lead them there, in which Oregon’s LaMichael James finished 3rd while Auburn’s Cam Newton took home the hardware (as well as other distinguished trophies). It’ll definitely be one for the books in this shootout but here is my breakdown of the 2011 BCS title game:

Quarterback
Oregon’s Darren Thomas did a nice job this season commanding the Duck’s explosive, video-game like offense by throwing for over 2500 yards, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Thomas also proved he could be a solid duel-threat QB by rushing for 492 yards and five scores. However, it’s Cam Newton that takes the crown for this category by far. The Heisman, Davey O’Brien (Top NCAA QB), and Maxwell (College player of the year) award-winning quarterback has shown inhuman qualities while putting up unbelievable statistics: throwing for over 2500 yards, in which he completed 67.1% of his passes and 28 touchdowns AND rushing for 1580 yards and 20 touchdowns. Purely mind-blowing. Newton also has the drive in him to win it all, especially in Auburn’s 4th quarter comeback against Alabama on Nov 26.
EDGE: Auburn

Running Back
Running back is sort of a vague term for Auburn, as Cam Newton could have arguably handled both halfback and quarterback positions. However, the Tigers real starting running back Michael Dyer had a nice season to compliment Newton and Auburn, rushing for 962 yards, averaging 5.9 a carry with 5 scores. Dyer and even Newton could not compete with the stats of Oregon’s LaMichael James, the Duck’s dynamic running back. The 2nd runner up for the Heisman carried for an unimaginable 1786 yards, 21 touchdowns and had averaged over 150 yards a game.
EDGE: Oregon

Wide Receivers
When talking about both team’s offensive strengths, the position of wide receiver is rarely mentioned. Oregon’s Jeff Mahl was clearly Thomas’s number one target as he hauled in 943 yards for 12 touchdowns. There seems to be a parallel relationship between Thomas-Mahl and Auburn’s Newton and Darvin Adams, in which the junior caught for 909 yards and seven scores. Even so, it’s the broader picture that needs to be looked at: the depth of the receiving corps. It looks like that Mahl was the only true option for Thomas [the 2nd best receiver had only 36 grabs for 410 yards] while Newton was able to not only utilize Adams but senior Terrell Zachary (585 yards, 4 tds) and sophomore Emery Blake ( 472 yards, 7 tds).
EDGE: Auburn

Defensive Corps (Tackles/Ends/Linebackers)
No team in this BCS title game has a standout defense but there are some credible qualities about each defensive front. Junior defensive lineman (and soon-to-be 1st round pick) Nick Fairly anchors the Tigers defense with 10 1/2 sacks, 55 total tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. Besides that, it hasn’t been pretty for Auburn on defense, allowing 24.5 points per game in which they were ranked 54th in the nation. On the flip side, Oregon’s 12th ranked defense (18.4 ppg allowed) is something worth watching. With the pass rush coming from senior end Kenny Rowe (91 tackles, 6 sacks, 6 forced fumbles) and linebacker Casey Matthews (72 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 ints), the Ducks will be sure to keep Cam Newton on his toes
EDGE: Oregon

Defensive Backs
It seems to be that Oregon again has the upper hand on Auburn, as the Ducks double the total amount of interceptions the Tigers have, 20 to 10. Sophomores John Boyett and Cliff Harris each account for half of Oregon’s interceptions total (five apiece) and will be a real threat to the Auburn passing game. On the other hand, senior linebacker Josh Bynes for Auburn has been known to slip back into the back field to provide coverage against receivers and his stats back that up: a team leading 71 tackles and 3 interceptions.
EDGE: Oregon

Coaching
This could be a potential toss up for this category. Former coordinator Gene Chizik really got his claim to fame from his years spent as the Texas Longhorns defensive co-coordinator when the Longhorns won the national championship against USC in 2006. With a short-tenured head coaching gig at Iowa State, Auburn hired Chizik, in which he led the Tigers to an Outback Bowl win in 2009 and now to an undefeated record in 2010. Chip Kelly began his career as a head coach in Oregon, as he led the Ducks to an upset victory over then #5 USC to win the Pac-10, sending them into the Rose Bowl only to lose to Ohio State. Kelly has also led the Ducks to an undefeated season.
EDGE: Toss Up

Final Conclusion: Oregon’s offense is too powerful and fast paced for any normal BCS team to handle, especially against a sub-par defense such as Auburn’s. However, it is superhuman quarterback Cam Newton, who has not been stopped against powerhouse SEC teams all year, to come up victorious in this year’s national championship game.

Final Score Prediction: Auburn 42 Oregon 35

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

After an eventful few weeks into the BCS college bowl season, it’s safe to say that there are a few things you could have picked up on the so called “rightful” system for college football. Whether you accept it or not, here is what we’ve learned:

1. Non-AQ teams are gaining their legitimacy…

The 2011 Rose Bowl played on Jan 1 showed America that a non-automatic qualifier such as Texas Christian University  (soon to be leaving for the Big East Conference) can roll with the big boys of the powerhouse conferences, such as Wisconsin of the Big Ten. The Andy Dalton-led Horned Frogs rolled past Wisconsin, who have been notorious all season for their relentless offensive attack, shutting down the Badgers 21-19. TCU was able to shut down Wisconsin’s John Clay, their #1 offensive threat, to overcome the adversity of facing an automatic qualifier, big shot school. This is the same TCU team that has gone undefeated the entire 2010 season and showed that even with questions in their strength of schedule and overall validity, proved that they were able to play at the same playing field as the automatic qualifiers.

You could argue the opposite as seen in the Utah-Boise State game, but any college football follower should have picked up on Utah’s flaws after their loss to Notre Dame. Yes, the Utes did beat a strong Alabama team in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, but have began to lose some of their power as the years have gone by. The 2010 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl did not help the non-aq argument, as Utah got spanked by the Broncos 26-3, but hey, at least Boise State proved they could still win after their fluke loss to Nevada back in November.

2. …as some conferences are losing their legitimacy…

It is not expected for a conference to win out, or even win majority, of their individual bowl games, but when a division such as the Big Ten goes basically defeated, then there is something wrong. Wisconsin lost to  TCU in the Rose Bowl 21-19, Texas Tech edged out Northwestern in the Ticketcity Bowl 45-38, Alabama spanked Michigan State in the Capitol One Bowl 49-7, Mississippi State embarrassed Michigan 52-14 in the Gator Bowl, and the Urban Meyer-led-Florida Gators handed a 37-24 loss to Joe Pa and the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl. The Big Ten’s only possible saving grace was Iowa’s closed marginal victory over Missouri in the Insight Bowl. Oh how Gordon Gee must be loving his beloved conference’s success. So much for the Legends and Leaders…

Don’t even get me started on the Big East. Anyone that has common sense could have seen that the  #7 ranked Oklahoma Sooners were going to bash the University of Connecticut Huskies in the 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Despite talks of the Huskies being the next 2007 Boise State Broncos, they got pummeled 48-20. This is a prime example on why automatic qualifying conferences, such as a weak Big East Conference, should not receive automatic bids based on conference.

3. …hence why a playoff system should be instilled.

To give every conference, automatic or non-automatic, a chance to taste the glory of the national championship, a 16-team-bracket should be created, a died down version of it’s sister, college basketball. The 16 teams would be the top 16 teams in the final BCS standings, with 1st seeds getting to play the 16th, 2nd plays 15th, etc. The money from the sponsors of the current individual bowls can be either pooled together to create a giant pot or each could sponsor an individual game leading up the national title game. This would not only create more excitement and generate more viewership for television stations, like NCAA March Madness, but would allow teams to have an equal opportunity to take home the title trophy (as well as a bit of cash) that automatic qualifiers constantly have a firm grasp of.

I know we await the remaining BCS bowl games, such as the much-anticipated national championship game, and that a playoff system ever occurring will take years to accomplish, I hope you finally notice what the BCS stands for: Biased Conference Series.

 

So we can all agree that Boise State’s shocking 27-24 loss to the Nevada Wolfpack this past Friday was one that shook not only Bronco Nation, but the entire Football Bowl Subdivision. The Broncos gave up a 24-7 lead at half to literally deflate on defense and witness senior kicker Kyle Brotzman choking on the poison of pressure and shanking two, sub-30-yard field goals, one to win it and one to tie it up in overtime. But there’s already chaos and catastrophe from that by itself so I won’t delve into it.

This stunning defeat created a horrific domino effect for Boise State. Rather than dominating the WAC like they consistently have for the past years, they must settle as co-champions with Nevada. But what about that BCS title game? Out of the question. How about a BCS major bowl game? Not a chance. Oh and the millions of dollars that was to supposed to come with it? Maybe in Monopoly money.

The 11-1 Broncos must settle for a minor bowl game, such as The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl played in San Francisco or the The Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl played on their own blue turf, an ended 24-game win streak, and the departure of many key seniors, such as sack master Ryan Winterswyk, defensive leader Winston Venable, and big time receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young, who will never get the taste of national title glory.

You may be thinking all is lost in Boise and moving into a depleted Mountain West Conference is the icing on the cake for bleak seasons to come. But there is some light in the Treasure Valley.

Let’s begin with the up and coming bowl season. Even though Boise State will not be playing in any of the major bowl games, they still have the opportunity to be matched up against an SEC or Big 10 powerhouse such as Michigan State, who they will play in the 2012 regular season, Alabama, LSU or Florida. A win against any of those “proven” teams would show not only the Nevada loss was a fluke, but a solid rebound back onto their quest for the national title.

With ex-Heisman-hopeful gunslinger Kellen Moore returning for his senior year to lead the men in blue and orange into the 2011-12 season, Boise State starts off the year by playing Georgia in the Georgia Dome. A win away from Bronco Stadium in SEC territory would continue the stride back into BCS title recognition. And with it being the Bronco’s first season in the MWC, they’re guaranteed to play TCU, who consequently won the competition of the top non-automatic qualifying team,  a solid Air Force team and San Diego State, who gave TCU a run for their money earlier this year.

Now what about the empty roster spots from the departing seniors? The 2011 recruiting class brings in defensive back Eric Agbaroji,  running back Jay Ajayi, defensive end Robert Ash, quarterback Jimmy Laughrea, and defensive tackle Jeff Worthy, who have all earned +3 stars on Rivals.com, just to name a few.

It’s been a difficult past few days for Bronco Nation and the image of the missed field goals is branded into their memory. And it will continue to be for a very long time. But with the hard times comes only better ones. The Boise State Broncos will eventually rise from the damage of Hurricane Kaepernick and be the team that will continue to knock loudly on the door of the BCS.

Courtesy of Bleacher Report

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

I know, I know you’re probably thinking: a. this kid is only lobbying for Boise State because he goes there, b. a non-BCS qualifier such as Boise State should not go ahead of a one loss SEC or Pac-10 Conference team or c. may actually agree with me

Anyways, we’re at Week 10 for college football and even before the beginning of this circus-like season, the Broncos have been down talked and patronized since day one. The season is more than half way over and if it were to end today, Auburn and Oregon would play for the national championship while TCU would be ranked higher than BSU and could play the Broncos in any of the major bowls (smells like 2009). Honestly, it is just not right.

Let’s first recognize the Bronco’s opponents: Auburn, who has 13 fewer wins than Boise State over the past five years and who’s head coach, Gene Chizik, needs to go 12-0 to have a .500 career record with the Tigers, Oregon,  who’s near replicated team lost to the Broncos 19-8 last season, and TCU, who fell to the men in blue and orange in the Fiesta Bowl last year 17-10.

The one thing these teams have in common with Boise State is that they’re currently undefeated. But Boise State has more than that. They’re riding a 21 game win streak, the longest in the country as well as hefty 16 game road win streak. Coach Chris Petersen is 56-4 while under control of the Broncos, something any coach aspires to have.

Now there’s the argument of “strength of schedule” and that Boise State has a cupcake schedule. Let me throw a few things out there. Boise State beat #10 ranked, at the time, Virginia Tech at a so-called “neutral” field in Maryland, and even though they lost to a pathetic James Madison team, they’re back on track at #22 and will probably win the ACC.

The Broncos also beat Oregon State, in which they edged the #24 ranked Beavers (at the time) by 13.  Even though they lost their ranking, Oregon State has strong victories against a ranked (#14) Arizona team as well as California and has a potential to beat Oregon on their home field at the end of the season.

But what about that cupcake schedule, you might ask. Well the Broncos take on Hawaii,a 7-2 passing machine and potential ranked team, #23 ranked Nevada squad, who’s running game is as threatening as any legitimate BCS team, and Fresno State, who stand at a respectable 5-2, in three out of the next four weeks. That doesn’t sound so sweet to me.

As for the rest of the Bronco victories, they still stand quite dazzling.  The Broncos have outscored their opponents 334-94, including an impressive 159-20 against WAC opponents, are 2nd in the FBS Rankings for points for (47.7) and 3rd in points against (13.4)

Don’t worry I haven’t forgot about the other “legitimate”teams as well as the other BCS-Buster. Let’s start with Oregon, who leads the FBS in scoring as well as blowing out teams such as New Mexico, Tennessee, Portland State, Arizona State, and Washington State. Those teams go as followed: New Mexico lost to New Mexico State, a team BSU destroyed, Tennessee, which is an SEC nobody, Portland State is an FCS team (Boise State doesn’t even play FCS teams), Arizona State, in which the Ducks gave up 597 yards to , and Washington State, where there only victory is against Montana State. Wow.

Let’s move on to TCU, in which they were pre-ranked to have the easiest schedule for the season (Boise State being 2nd, naturally). The only ranked team the Horned Frogs have played so far was against Oregon State, in which they won by nine compared to BSU’s 13 point difference. As for the rest of their schedule: blowing out Tennessee Tech and Southern Methodist who play in the Ohio Valley Conference and Conference-USA, respectively. I forgot how BCS-legitimate those conferences are. Don’t forget about Colorado State, with a mighty 3-6 record, and UNLV, who has one win. But hey, a win is a win.

Now for the team I probably have the most respect for besides BSU: Auburn. Playing in the SEC is rough in itself, but beating proven teams such as South Carolina, Arkansas, and LSU is something else. Yeah they’ve played some nobodies but everyone should get some breathing room. In my honest opinion, I will have to agree with Mr. Kirk Herbstreit (much to my dismay), that the winner of the Auburn-Alabama game on Nov. 26th should go to the title game.

But it should be the winner of that game and Boise State! We are constantly forgotten, put down, or not given enough credit for what we have done. I mean in more than 2/3 of our games, the selfless Coach Pete pulls Heisman hopeful Kellen Moore as well as the rest of the offensive at the half because the game is already a blow out, not allowing the Broncos to rack up the points to the get those oh-so-worthy “style points”.

Can Moore finally lead this Bronco team to the 'ship?

A side note, Kellen Moore back in April was spotted wearing a Butler shirt, everyone’s bracket buster sweetheart that made it to the NCAA finals. Moore compared Boise State with Butler in that both teams are seen as underdogs but in reality they’re not and that if college football had a playoff system, they’d have their time to shine.

Agree or disagree with me, it still won’t change my opinion. It’s a shame that Coach Petersen doesn’t constantly advertise and pull for his team to be regarded as a BCS contender, because that would help gain some national recognition. All I can ask is for the voters (and the “accurate” computers) to realize what kind of team Boise State is and the potential it has to play (and beat) a nationally-recognized powerhouse BCS team.

Or at least get a playoff system going please.

My view from the Stueckle Sky Center press box

Last night, I had the privilege of watching and help write the Boise State Broncos versus the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs game in the embellished Stueckle Sky Center. I know, bask in it.

It was a strange game for the Broncos on that cold, Tuesday night. With ESPN2 providing a national broadcast and the game being played on a weekday, nonetheless a school night, there was more to the oddness of how the game played out.

Quarterback Kellen Moore completed 20 of 28 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns and an interception, but notched a few other statistics as well. Not only did he complete a 54-yard-punt in the 2nd quarter (the first in his career) but caught a first-career seven-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Austin Pettis in the 3rd quarter.

Things weren’t just uncanny for the two scoring powerhouses, but for the entire offense as well. Two Bronco touchdowns were scored off of fumbles, one being a o yard recovery by tight end Kyle Efaw and another in which running back Jeremy Avery recovered his own fumble and ran it for 26 yards to the end zone.

Maybe it was the strange game day date or it’s close proximity to Halloween (I figure I’d just throw that in there) but things were a bit unusual for the Broncos win. But hey, a win’s a win.