Michigan State survives, Texas suffers massive letdown

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: B.J. Cunningham #3 and Mark Dell #2 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrate on te field against the Wisconsin Badgers on September 26, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

For once this season, the noon slate of games gave us something to follow.

Notre Dame was whooped by Navy, Texas lost to Iowa State and Michigan State survived a close matchup with Northwestern.

Let’s start with the Spartans, who for the second time this season, were aided by a fake kick in a big situation. This time, however, it was a fake that I, you and everybody watching the game except for Northwestern, apparently, saw coming. The Spartans pulled off a nice fake punt in the fourth quarter, and one play later, scored a touchdown to pull within a score. After a Northwestern field goal, the Spartans drove down the field again to score the go-ahead touchdown.

People around me here in Michigan think the Spartans are in the middle of a special season, and stuff like that — which had gone against them for years — is now starting to go their way. It’s tough to argue that, considering the way MSU has won a couple of its game. But at the same time, they soundly beat Wisconsin and Michigan, meaning they could just be good. Next week’s the biggest test of the season, of course, as they travel to Kinnick to play Iowa. If you asked me to put money on it, I’d put quite a bit on Iowa right now. But I’m nowhere perfect on “putting money on it” games.

Texas, meanwhile, is going through the kind of season you would expect a team to go through every few years. After four years of having Colt McCoy at the helm, the Longhorns are learning that without a dynamic run-pass threat at quarterback, they’ll need other weapons. Garrett Gilbert is a talented kid, but he’s young and he’s not getting much help.

Even so, this is a team that just shut down Taylor Martinez and Nebraska. A team that looked like it was starting to trend up after the bye week. Now the Longhorn faithful will have to deal with a non-10-win season. God forbid.

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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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Charles Barkley says race factored in to Auburn not hiring Gill

Charles Barkley is angry at his alma mater, the University of Auburn. Barkley is saying that the only reason Auburn didn’t hire Buffalo University head coach Turner Gill to be their next head football coach (they hired Iowa State’s Gene Chizik) is because Gill is black.

Gene Chizik“I think race was the No. 1 factor,” said Barkley, who played basketball for three seasons at Auburn during the early 1980s. “You can say it’s not about race, but you can’t compare the two resumes and say [Chizik] deserved the job. Out of all the coaches they interviewed, Chizik probably had the worst resume.”

Gill, a former Nebraska quarterback, took over one of the country’s worst programs at Buffalo three years ago. He guided the Bulls to an 8-5 record and their first MAC championship this season, upsetting previously unbeaten Ball State 42-24 in the Dec. 5 conference championship game.

The Bulls won 10 games in their first seven seasons at the Division I-A level. Gill guided Buffalo to 13 victories during the last two seasons combined.

“I’m just very disappointed,” Barkley said. “I just thought Turner Gill would be the perfect choice for two reasons: He’s a terrific coach and we needed to make a splash. I thought we had to do something spectacular to bring attention to the program. Clearly, if we’d hired a black coach, it would have created a buzz.”

Barkley, who works as an NBA analyst for Turner Network Television, said he spoke with Gill before Gill interviewed with Auburn officials last week.

“We talked about the whole race thing in Alabama,” Barkley said. “I told him it’s there and it’s going to be anywhere you go. I told him you can’t not take the job because of racism. He was worried about being nothing more than a token interview. He was concerned about having a white wife. It’s just very disappointing to me.”

I have no idea if race had anything to do with Auburn hiring Chizik over Gill although there’s no doubt that it’s a little strange when you hire a guy who went 5-19 at Iowa State over a coach that turned around a morbid Buffalo program. And it’s not like Iowa State is facing the likes of Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South every year.

It was an odd hire to say the least. Did race play a factor? Maybe, although let’s not ignore the fact that Chizik was the defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2002 to 2004. It’s not like they hired a guy that went 5-19 at Iowa State that had no affiliation with the school. So his hire might have more to do with having the right connections than the color of his skin.

Easy on the smoke machine Iowa State

SPORTSbyBROOKS.com highlights why Iowa State should relax a little on the smoke machine when introducing players before games.

Kansas avoids becoming latest upset victim

Down 20-0 to Iowa State at halftime, No. 16 Kansas appeared destined to become the latest upset victim in college football. But the Jayhawks amassed 35-second half points to rally past the unranked Cyclones, 35-33.

It was over when… The Jayhawks defense forced Cyclones QB Austen Arnaud to throw four straight incomplete passes in the final minute of the game.
Gameball goes to… Todd Reesing. The QB pulled the Jayhawks out of a ditch when he threw for two TDs in the third quarter, the second of which put Kansas on top.
Stat of the game… 319. Reesing racked up 319 total yards Saturday, the fourth straight game in which he surpassed the 300-yard mark.

Here’s an interesting stat from this series: Three of the Jayhawks’ five largest come-from-behind victories have been against Iowa State, including a 26-point rally in 1992. Ouch, Cyclones.

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