Kansas loss should be last straw for Dan Hawkins in Colorado

University of Colorado Buffaloes head football coach Dan Hawkins ponders a question as he begins his fifth season at the annual media day at the Dal Ward Athletic Center in Boulder, Colorado on August 7, 2010. Colorado was the first BCS school to bolt its conference leaving the Big 12 for the Pac 10. Colorado is expected to begin Pac 10 play next season.   UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

You know how sometimes you’re about to make a major life move, but you’re dating someone and you’re not really sure that they’re the person you want to take with you on the move? You’ve already decided that there’s no way the two of you can spend the rest of your lives together, but you made such a financial commitment to her (say, bought a house together) that you don’t want to break it off for a silly reason, even though there have been plenty of red flags.

That’s the situation Colorado is in with its football coach Dan Hawkins. The Buffaloes are moving to the Pac-12 next year, and barring something amazing this season (like, say, surprising you with a new PS3 and a stripper for your birthday — or a BCS bowl berth), were going to leave Hawkins in their wake as they left the Big 12. Well, today, Hawkins set the house on fire.

Colorado blew a 45-17 lead today against Kansas in a 52-45 loss. In the fourth quarter. Against Kansas. Not Todd Reesing Kansas, but this year’s version, which is led by Turner Gill and scored three points in a loss to North Dakota State.

Hawkins is now 19-38 in his fifth year at Colorado, helping turn a once-proud program into the joke of the Big 12. How Hawkins didn’t get the boot following last year’s 3-9 mark is still a mystery, but there’s no way in hell he survives another losing mark with Colorado about to start a new chapter in its program history.

At 3-6, Colorado still has a shot at bowl eligibility, but with Iowa State, Kansas State and Nebraska still on the schedule, that doesn’t look likely. Even if Colorado somehow finds a way to pull that out, I can’t see why it would keep Hawkins on board. He’s in Year 5, he’s had plenty of time to get something started.

His tenure in Colorado has been an absolute joke on the field, and it’s probably really close to being over. But hey, at least he gave us this.

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2010 Big 12 College Football Preview: Oklahoma reclaims top spot

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 3:   Quarterback Landry Jones #12 of the Oklahoma Sooners hands the ball off to teammate runningback DeMarco Murray #7 in the first quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on October 3, 2009 at Landshark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big 12 this season:

#1 Oklahoma
In Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, Trent Williams, Jermaine Gresham, Keenan Clayton, Brody Eldridge and Dominique Franks, there’s no doubt that the Sooners lost a ton of talent from last year. However, this season is all about two names: Landry Jones and DeMarco Murray. Jones filled in admirably when Bradford went down last season, throwing 26 touchdown passes and gaining valuable experience throughout the year. Murray’s health history is a major concern, but if he can stay upright he’s scary good. He’s more versatile than Adrian Peterson was in that he can catch the ball out of the backfield or beat teams as a rusher. He’s big, he’s fast and he can get north and south in a hurry. He’s also going to get a ton of opportunities to shine this year as both a runner and a pass-catcher and again, if he can stay healthy he has the ability to be one of the best backs in college football. Defensively, Bob Stoops’ team has good depth and while the loss of McCoy hurts, don’t forget that Jeremy Beal was fifth on the team in tackles last season and first in sacks with 11. The linebacker corps has a chance to be special thanks to redshirt freshman Tom Wort and sophomore Ronnell Lewis. I know many pundits still like Texas in the South, but with Landry, Murray and nine starters returning on offense, I think Oklahoma reclaims the conference this season.

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College Football Week 6 Primer

Time to check out the big games, top matchups and potential upsets as college football heads into Week 6.

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Terrelle PryorNo. 14 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin, 8:00 PM ET
This was supposed to be a matchup of the best two teams in the Big Ten, but after the Badgers were embarrassed last week in Ann Arbor, this game has lost a lot of it’s luster. Despite Michigan turning the ball over five times and spotting them a 19-0 lead, Wisconsin fell apart in the second half as the Wolverines pulled off a 27-25 upset. For the Buckeyes, they seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing to USC a few weeks back, especially freshman QB Terrelle Pryor, who is out to use this game as proof that he can play on a big stage. It’ll be interesting to see how the dazzlingly Pryor does in his first road start of his young collegiate career; OSU has not won back-to-back games vs. Wisconsin since 1995/1996. Oddsmakers have established the Buckeyes as 1.5-point favorites.

No. 13 Auburn at No. 19 Vanderbilt, 6:00 PM ET
Vandy is off to a surprising 4-0 start this season, but their record is a bit deceiving. The Commodores rank last in the SEC in total offense and defense, and have been out gained in 3 of their 4 games this season. But they sit undefeated largely due to their plus-nine turnover margin, which leads the nation. They’ll get their first real test of the season against Auburn, who crushed the Commodores 45-7 in their last trip to Vanderbilt Stadium in 2003. The Tigers also handed Vandy a 35-7 beat-down last year and are trying to build some momentum off of last week’s 14-12 win against Tennessee. Still, this is the first time Vanderbilt has been ranked since 1984, so the home crowd will noty doubt be psyched. And it’s not like Tommy Tummerville’s team has been that dominant this season. (See the Tigers’ 3-2 victory over Mississippi State as proof.) Vandy is a 4.5-point home underdog.

No. 23 Oregon at No. 9 USC, 8:00 PM ET
The Trojans try to bounce back from their humiliating 27-21 loss to Oregon State last week – a defeat that dropped them from the top spot in the rankings. When these two teams met last year in Eugene, the Ducks used an electrifying home crowd to knock off the Trojans 24-17 in USC QB Mark Sanchez’s first start. It would be wise for Oregon to borrow the blueprint left by the Beavers and attack the middle of the Trojans’ beat up defense on the ground. Head coach Pete Carroll is dying to use this game to show USC can still compete for a national title this season and will try to flatten the Ducks, but Oregon’s defense is good enough to keep them in the game. The Trojans are currently 17-point favorites.

Chase DanielUpset Watch: No. 4 Missouri at Nebraska, 9:00 PM ET
It’s hard to fathom that the Tigers would stumble this week in Lincoln coming off a bye week and with so much on the line. But Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel has yet to see a decent defense outside of Illinois in the opener. And even though MIZZOU hammered the Huskers last year, Nebraska’s defense is a lot better than the unit that surrendered 41 points to Daniel and the Tigers last year. Missouri has better talent and the better overall team, but one thing to keep in mind is that the home team in this series has won the last six in a row. MIZZOU is an 11-point favorite.

Other notable games:
No. 1 Oklahoma at Baylor, 12:30 PM ET Saturday
The Sooners play their first game since being anointed the top ranked team in the nation. They get a decent opponent in the Bears, who have been a dramatically improved team with scrappy freshman Robert Griffin under center this year.

Kentucky at No. 2 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET Saturday
After crushing the Bulldogs in Athens last week, Nick Saban’s Tide can’t fall victims to the upset themselves this week against the unranked Wildcats.

No. 5 Texas at Colorado, 7:00 PM ET Saturday
Longhorns’ QB Colt McCoy will look to continue his bid to become this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, but he’ll face a decent Colorado team who is 3-0 at home this year.

Colorado upsets No. 21 West Virginia in overtime

Cody HawkinsThe West Virginia Mountaineers dropped out of the top 10 two weeks ago when they lost to East Carolina and will no doubt drop out of the top 25 entirely after losing to Colorado 17-14 in overtime Thursday night.

On WVU’s first and only possession in overtime, senior kicker Pat McAfee missed a chip shot field goal from 23 yards out. The Buffs didn’t waste the opportunity to claim victory, driving the play to the Mountaineers’ 13-yard line in just four plays. On a 3rd and three from the 13, Aric Goodman booted a 25-yard field goal to give CU the victory.

Pat White (19 carries, 149 yards, 2 TDs) and Noel Devine (26 carries, 133 yards) were excellent, but penalties, the lack of big plays in the passing game and poor clock management at the end of regulation killed the Mountaineers in the end. It also didn’t help that Bradley Starks badly under threw Jock Sanders on a trick play in the fourth quarter. Sanders could have waltzed into the end zone and with the way their defense had been playing in the second half, WVU probably could have walked away with a 21-14 victory.

It was nevertheless a gritty performance by Colorado and more specially, freshman RB Rodney Stewart, who carried 28 times for 166 yards. He single handedly got the Buffs into field goal range to win the game in overtime. With Stewart and sophomore quarterback Cody Hawkins (179 yards, 2 TDs), Colorado is building a young, productive backfield.

College Football Preview: No. 21 West Virginia at Colorado

No. 21 West Virginia (1-1, 0-1 Away) at Colorado (2-0, 2-0 Home)

Kickoff: 8:30 PM ET ESPN
Point Spread: West Virginia –3

Pat WhiteWest Virginia Outlook:
The Mountaineers had off last week following their upset loss to East Carolina in Week 2. Head coach Bill Stewart has noted that he wants to get back to running more basic zone option plays after Pat White and the WVU had their worst offensive performance in seven years, managing only a field goal in the loss to ECU. Simplifying things for the offense might make sense, especially considering the Mountaineers will make their first ever trip to Folsom Field.

Colorado Outlook:
The Buffaloes are 2-0 to start the season, but they had to rally to beat FCS opponent Eastern Washington two weeks ago. With freshman running back Darrell Scott and scrappy sophomore quarterback Cody Hawkins, Colorado has a ton of youth in its offense backfield. Hawkins is off to a great start, throwing for 475 yards and four touchdowns in two games this season, as well as compiling a QB rating of 144.93. Hawkins might find some success throwing against a WVU secondary that ranks 85th in pass efficiency.

Before the disastrous performance against ECU two weeks ago, White threw for 208 yards and five touchdowns against Villanova in the team’s opener. He probably won’t attempt 33 passes Thursday night in Colorado with Stewart wanting to scale back the offense, but that’s a good thing. The Buffs see plenty of the spread offense playing in the Big 12, but aren’t used to the zone option tactics that WVU will throw at them tonight. White should be able to break off a big run or two and as long as the WVU defense can at least contain the young duo in the Buffs’ backfield, they should be able to bounce back from their Week 2 loss against the Pirates. West Virginia 38, Colorado 30.

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