Mallett and Newton’s Heisman hopeful battle leads Week 7 action

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers reacts after rushing in a touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Two of the best quarterbacks in the nation will square off today when unbeaten Auburn plays host to Arkansas. Auburn’s Cam Newton is a big, physical dual threat, while Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett is a big-armed gun-slinger who can make all the throws.

Both are dynamic players in their own right, and with the success of their respective teams, they’re also right in the middle of the Heisman Trophy conversation. Today’s game could push even further up the chart, and perhaps even to the top.

Both should be able to put on a show, as well, as neither defense is overpowering. Arkansas is improved on that side of the ball from last year, but not by a ton. Auburn, meanwhile, just allowed 34 points to Kentucky. So expect some serious fireworks.

It’s one of — if not the — biggest games of a weekend that isn’t exactly as strong as the last couple have been. But there’s still plenty to take in. Read the rest of this entry »

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Texas’ defense shuts down Tech in second half to preserve victory

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 18: Running back Eric Stephens  of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is tackled by Jackson Jeffcoat  of the Texas Longhorns at Jones AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Texas-Texas Tech matchup was being billed as the best game in Week 3, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype.

That’s because the Longhorns’ defense held Tech to 144 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 24-14 victory.

The Tech offense never really got going and even when it started to show signs of life, somebody would turn the ball over. A Jarvis Phillips 87-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first quarter was huge because Texas was driving for another score already up 14-0. But even when Tech tied the game 14-14 on a Lyle Leong 15-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Potts early in the second, the Raiders still couldn’t drum up much offense against UT.

The decisive blow for Tech came in the fourth quarter when Garrett Gilbert orchestrated a 23-play, 80-yard drive that took 9:25 off the clock and resulted in a Barrett Matthews 1-yard touchdown catch. Even with over nine minutes left on the clock, you got the feeling that the Raiders were finished.

Tech rushed for minus-16 yards on the night, which was their worst total since October 24 (also against Texas). Ouch.

Les Miles very nearly sealed his own fate and other Saturday thoughts

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 07:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There have been rumblings in Louisiana that Les Miles has worn out his welcome as coach at LSU. Some have written this off as ridiculous — “He won a national title in 2007!” — but Saturday night was a harsh reminder of why the LSU faithful have lost a lot of, um, faith, in Miles.

The Tigers survived Saturday night in a 30-24 win against half of North Carolina’s team. And it really wasn’t even the good half. Worse still is that LSU very nearly blew a 30-10 lead in the fourth quarter to do it.

Give a lot of credit to the North Carolina players who know the NCAA rules. They played with a lot of heart down the stretch and were two dropped passes and a probably-missed pass interference call away from winning a game nobody gave them a chance in.

But the story here is Miles and the Tigers nearly blowing the game. The Tigers failed to put the game away, and star defensive back Patrick Peterson’s postgame quote said a ton. When asked why he wasn’t on the field for a 97-yard touchdown pass that gave North Carolina life, Peterson responded, “I guess he thought we had a comfortable lead.”

The “he” in that sentence is defensive backs coach Ron Cooper, but how does that decision not go through Miles? If it doesn’t, it should. The head coach doesn’t need to micro-manage his assistants, but he does need to make sure his best players are on the field while the game is still in any kind of doubt. Miles needs to at the very least contend for an SEC title this year, or it could be his last.

Now some other thoughts on the first Saturday of college football. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Preseason Coaches Poll out: Alabama No. 1

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram #22 warms up prior to the start of the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)

No surprise here: Defending champs Alabama has the No. 1 ranking in the preseason Coaches Poll.

From FOX

Boise State will begin the season ranked No. 5. The Broncos, like Alabama, finished last season 14-0. They beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Crimson Tide got 55 of 59 possible first-place votes. The other four went to Ohio State, which is No. 2 in the newspaper’s ranking.

Florida is third, followed by Texas, which lost to Alabama in the BCS title game in January.

Virginia Tech is sixth, followed by TCU, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa to round out the top 10.

Nos. 11 through 15 are Oregon, Wisconsin, Miami, Penn State and Pittsburgh. They are followed by LSU, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Arkansas and Florida State, which will be without Bobby Bowden as coach for the first time in 35 years.

With all that has happened in college football over the past couple of months, it’s hard to fathom that actual games will be starting in a few weeks. Football is almost upon us!

Couple things that I’m interested in seeing:

– How TCU bounces back from its dud in the Fiesta Bowl.

– How Texas QB Garrett Gilbert fairs in his first full season after getting thrown to the wolves in the BCS title game.

– What the Tim Tebow-less Gators will look like (it’s felt like an eternity since Tebow wasn’t the one taking snaps from under center).

– What Mark Ingram has in store for an encore performance.

– What Nebraska’s defense looks like without Ndamukong Suh, who was perhaps the most dominant defensive player in college football last year.

What has your attention heading into the new college season?

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