Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box found dead

The Oklahoma football program was rocked on Thursday with the news that middle linebacker Austin Box has died at the age of 22.

According to SI.com, a spokeswoman for the state Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the death. El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown says officers and medics responded this morning to a call of an unresponsive male who was identified as Box. The senior linebacker from Enid was then taken to an El Reno hospital before being transferred by air ambulance to an Oklahoma City hospital where he later passed away.

A police report obtained by KOKH FOX 25 in Oklahoma City shows that Box’s death was “probably” related to an overdose. The report doesn’t reveal what Box took, but it does say that it was a “controlled dangerous substance.” I would caution, however, not to read too much into this report until more details are released. The use of the word “probably” is sketchy at best and the link provided is to the site’s Facebook page (which doesn’t exactly scream “reliable information”). Still, I included the link because of the mention of the police report.

Whatever the cause of death, this is a tragedy and it’s a sad day for Box’s family and friends, as well as the Oklahoma and college football world. At 22 years old, the he had his entire life ahead of him and it’s sad that a young person perished so soon.

My thoughts go out to Box’s family.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2011 College Football Program Power Rankings

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor hands off the ball to tailback Dane Sanzenbacher in the third quarter at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans during the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl January 4, 2011. The Buckeyes won 31-26 UPI/Dave Fornell

Almost a year ago we decided to try to quantify the stature of college football programs so that we could rank them against one another. (Click here for the 2010 Rankings.) Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the total points are determined — 20 points for a national championship, 10 for a BCS title game loss, seven for a BCS bowl win, five for a BCS bowl loss, five for a BCS conference championship, three for a mid-major conference championship, two for a BCS conference runner-up and one for a major bowl appearance (i.e. a bowl that has a recent payout of more than $2 million, so for 2011 that would be Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, Insight, Holiday, Champs Sports and Alamo.) You’ll see the total points in parenthesis after the team’s name.

We put some thought into the point values for each accomplishment, paying special attention to how the point values are relative to one another. For example, we figured that one national championship would equate to four BCS conference championships, or three BCS bowl wins. We only looked at the last five years, as college football has increasingly become a fluid and fickle sport, and that’s about how far back a recruit will go when deciding amongst a list of schools.

Lastly, since a program is so dependent on the guy in charge, we added or subtracted points if the program saw an upgrade or downgrade at the head coach position in the last five years. A max of 10 points would be granted (or docked) based on the level of upgrade or downgrade. Again, we tried to quantify the hire relative to the program’s other accomplishments. For example, hiring Nick Saban is probably worth two BCS bowl appearances, or 10 points. (Sure, he might lead Alabama to more, but he also might bolt for another job in a year or two.)

So, without further ado, here are the rankings. Every year we’ll go through and update the numbers based on what the program did that year (while throwing out the oldest year of data), so don’t fret if your team isn’t quite where you want them right now. Everyone has a chance to move up.

1. Ohio State (58)

Previous Rank: #2 (+1)
Some college football fans will take issue with the Buckeyes being No. 1 because of their “soft schedule.” But this is a team that has dominated its conference five of the past six years and has finished no worse than second in each of the past six seasons. They’ve also appeared in two title games (though they lost both) and nine straight BCS bowl games, winning the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl in the past two years. They’ve got an interesting season coming up though. Five of their players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey will miss the first five games next year after being suspended. Can the Buckeyes stay unscathed until those players return?

2. Florida (51)

Previous Rank: #1 (-1)
If it weren’t for Urban Meyer leaving the program (and their lousy 2010 season), the Gators would probably still be ranked No. 1. They have three conference championships and two national championships in two years, but the lose of Meyer hurts big-time in these rankings. But don’t fret Florida fans, if Will Muschamp gets the program back on the right track then the Gators won’t be at No. 2 for long.

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Fiesta Bowl Preview: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma

2011 BCS Bowl Previews: BCS National Championship | Fiesta Bowl | Rose Bowl | Orange Bowl | Sugar Bowl

Date: Saturday, January 1 2011
Time: 8:30PM ET
TV: ESPN

Why Watch: Because it’s Bob Stoops and Oklahoma – anything could happen. This is definitely the biggest mismatch of the five BCS bowl games, but Stoops has a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games, which includes the Sooners’ shocking loss to Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Huskies are also sixth in the nation in kickoff returns and Oklahoma has allowed three kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, including one in each of their losses. UCONN running back Jordan Todman finished second in the nation in rushing, averaging 143 yards per game. Considering Oklahoma allowed 151 rushing yards per contest in the regular season, maybe the Huskies can play keep away from Landry Jones and the Sooner offense. Just when everyone thinks a blowout is inevitable, the opposite happens so don’t give up on this one.

Game Facts: This will be the Huskies’ fourth-straight bowl appearance under head coach Randy Edsall. They pulled off an upset against South Carolina in last season’s PapaJohns.com Bowl in which they held the Gamecocks to only a touchdown in a 20-7 win. That victory improved UCONN’s all-time bowl record to 3-1. The Sooners are 25-17-1 all-time in bowls, but have lost in their last three appearances in the Fiesta Bowl. They’re also 5-6 overall in bowls under Stoops, who has his team playing in a BCS Bowl for the eighth time in 12 seasons.

Key Player: Zach Frazer, Connecticut
If Connecticut has any chance at pulling off an upset, Frazer better play at another level. None of this “playing within himself” or “not making mistakes” nonsense – he’s going to have to play the best game of his life. Oklahoma is going to stack the box to take away Jordan Todman, which is exactly what a defense should do against a starting quarterback who has a 102.1 rating and has thrown for only five touchdowns all season. He needs to prove that Oklahoma even needs to use defensive backs in this game. Otherwise, we’re in for the snoozer that we all expect.

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Big Ten title will be decided today (and probably by some computers tomorrow)

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor  of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates with fans after beating the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won 20-17 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images).

After Friday’s games, today might be a little anti-climactic, but there’s still plenty to be determined on college football’s more traditional day.

The Big Ten title is still up for grabs, with three teams — Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State — all tied at the top with one loss. If all three win, the BCS standings will decide who goes to the Rose Bowl. That will likely be Wisconsin, which has that edge going into today. If Wisconsin loses and the other two win, the BCS will again decide who goes to the Rose Bowl, as Ohio State and Michigan State did not play each other. It’s a problem the Big Ten will have solved next year when there’s a title game (two title contenders not playing each other, that is. As the Big 12 showed us two years ago, the BCS can still decide a divisional race if all hell breaks loose).

If Wisconsin wins, however, and either Ohio State or Michigan State lose, it will be a lot more clear cut. The Spartans get the bid with an Ohio State loss as they have the head-to-head edge over Wisconsin. The Badgers get it if Michigan State loses, because they hold that same edge over Ohio State.

So those are your scenarios (sure, there’s the “all three lose” scenario, as well, where Iowa is back in the mix, but I don’t want to force that upon you before noon). Here’s how it will play out. Read the rest of this entry »

Auburn, Michigan State and Missouri make moves in latest coaches poll

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers is tackled by Brandon Taylor  of the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The latest USA Today/ESPN coaches poll is out, and once again an upset near the top has forced some movement.

Oklahoma lost to Missouri in primetime, and tumbled from No. 3 to No. 11. That means there will be a new BCS No. 1 when the standings are released tonight. The most likely candidate is Oregon, which remained a very strong No. 1 in the poll, receiving 50 of the possible 58 first-place votes.

One team that could jump the Ducks with the computers’ help, however, is Auburn. The Tigers have the best resume with wins over LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina. They jumped over TCU from fifth to third after Saturday’s win against LSU, and I’d be surprised if the Harris Poll didn’t mirror the coaches. Because, well, Harris Poll voters are lemmings (and I really don’t have a problem with Auburn jumping to No. 3).

Michigan State moved into the top five with its squeaker against Northwestern. It’s a curious time to move a team ahead of Alabama, but it’s a big thing for the Spartans, who face their stiffest remaining test next week. A win over Iowa sets the Spartans up for an unbeaten season, and it would be tough for pollsters to move a one-loss team — even Alabama — over a major conference unbeaten. It would have been easier to keep Alabama ahead, if that makes any sense.

The poll’s biggest mover was Missouri, which catapulted to No. 8 from No. 16 after beating Oklahoma. The Tigers and Utah remain the only undefeated teams who are behind Alabama. The most surprising move of the week: Michigan moving back into the top 25 after a bye week. Apparently the voters not getting a chance to see Michigan’s defense allow 500-plus yards and 30-plus points was enough to bring back the just-lost-two-home-games-in-a-row Wolverines.

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