Christian McCaffrey off to solid start vs Kansas State

Christian McCaffrey will be generating a ton of buzz all season, and he got off to a solid start vs Kansas State with 210 all purpose yards and two touchdowns. The kid has talent.

Meanwhile, Stanford didn’t look dominating against a Kansas State that kept shooting itself in the foot. But it’s better than the opening day loss they suffered last year.

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Will Cam Newton play? Will it even matter?

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Cameron Newton  of the Auburn Tigers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the LSU Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

One of the beauties of getting XM radio is that I get to listen to the Paul Finebaum show on a daily basis. For those that don’t know, Finebaum’s show is technically now a national college football radio show, but it can’t get away from its southeastern roots.

Every four out of five callers is from Alabama or Mississippi, and they’re crazy. The conspiracies they come up with on the officiating and play-calling from week to week would make Glenn Beck proud.

But the Cam Newton scandal has sent these folks into overdrive, and forced me to spend more time inside my car while it was sitting still in my driveway than one person should. People are blaming the press, Mississippi State, the press, Florida, the press, Nike, the press, Florida and the press. One caller, minutes after ESPN’s Joe Schad hung up with Finebaum, basically threatened to beat him up. It was amazing.

I don’t have a conspiracy theory on this, which is sad. But it will be really interesting to see how Auburn and Newton play today after having to listen to all of this over the last week.

I’m not picking the game because I have no idea who’s taking the field, but if Newton doesn’t play, expect the Bulldogs to win. A.J. Green has made them a legit SEC team. If Newton plays, however, the Tigers will roll on. 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 »

Butler heads home — to the Final Four

Butler upended K-State, 63-56, and will head home to Indianapolis for the Final Four next weekend.

Kansas State was out of sync early on, and couldn’t buy a bucket for long periods of the first half. Every analyst seems to think they were tired from Thursday night’s double-OT win over Xavier, but these are 19-, 20-, and 21-year old kids we’re talking about, so fatigue shouldn’t be that much of a factor, especially considering that K-State is a pretty deep team.

Butler controlled the game for most of the way, but there was a nearly five-minute stretch in the second half where the Bulldogs didn’t score a field goal, which allowed the Wildcats to claw back into the game. Butler turned the ball over 11 times in the second half (19 in the game), but didn’t have a single turnover in the final four and a half minutes after Kansas State regained the lead.

Butler made up for its sometimes sloppy offensive play by hitting almost 47% from three (7-15) and getting to the line 20 times (six more than K-State). They also played solid defense throughout the game, though K-State missed a lot of bunnies; Butler’s defense was outstanding on the final few possessions.

Brad Stevens (33) has to be one of the youngest coaches (if not the youngest) to make a Final Four, and he’ll get to do it in Butler’s hometown of Indianapolis. I’m not sure they’ll be much of a home court advantage as the Final Four crowd is usually heavy in non-partisan corporate types. The Bulldogs have a real shot at playing in the title game as both of their potential opponents — Michigan State and Tennessee — are very beatable.

This is the third time in five years (George Mason ’06, Memphis ’08) that a mid-major has made the Final Four. Prior to that, there was a stretch of seven years (Utah ’98) where only “power” conference teams made it to the national semifinals.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Refs made correct no-call in K-State/Xavier game

When one team (Team A) is up by three points and time is running down, it’s a fairly common strategy to foul the opposing team (Team B) before they can get a three-point shot off to tie the game. That way, they have to go to the free throw line where Team A has a great chance of securing the rebound and closing out the game. If Team B makes both free throws, Team A still has a one-point lead and the ball with just a few seconds left on the clock.

That’s what Kansas State tried to do at the end of regulation last night. When the officials failed to call a foul on Denis Clemente and instead whistled Chris Merriewether for clubbing Xavier’s Terrell Holloway after he had entered the act of shooting a three-pointer, Len Elmore said over and over that the refs missed the first foul.

Here is a video of the highlights from the game. The entire video is worth watching, but the sequence I’m talking about starts at about the 0:35 mark.

Doesn’t look like much, does it? Clemente’s left arm did commit a foul on the front of Holloway’s body, but the view of the officials on the baseline and the near sideline were both blocked and the official behind Holloway and Clemente couldn’t see through Holloway’s body to call the foul. Clemente’s right arm just grazed Holloway’s back, and it wasn’t enough for the rear official to blow his whistle. Elmore reiterated his point as CBS showed the replay a few times, but he didn’t account for the position of the officials.

Two areas in which K-State failed in this situation: 1) Clemente did a poor job of taking the foul. He should have essentially wrapped up Holloway and stopped his progress (without tackling him). He needs to be aware of where the officials are — he should have grabbed around Holloway’s waist with his right hand, turned Holloway’s hip, forcing the ref to make the call. 2) Before the possession, Frank Martin should have told his three smartest players to each go up to an official and explain what they wanted to do. “Sir, we’re going to be looking to foul on the floor when they cross half court.” That way, the refs would be aware of K-State’s intentions and would be looking for the foul.

In his infinite wisdom, Jason Whitlock described the play this way:

Leading by thee points with 9 seconds left in regulation, the refs ignored Clemente’s foul and instead waited 2 seconds and whistled Chris Merriewether for a foul while Xavier’s Terrell Holloway was pulling the trigger on a three-pointer.

They didn’t ignore the foul — they couldn’t see it due to the positions of the different players on the court. You can’t blow the whistle because you think you see something, you blow it because you see it. And what about Merriewether’s bonehead move to foul Holloway in the act of shooting? Once Holloway got past Clemente, Merriewether should have known at that point to let Holloway go without fouling. Instead, he raked him across the arm and sent him to the line to shoot three free throws.

Ultimately, K-State prevailed, and in that sense we’re lucky — if the Wildcats had lost, half of the state of Kansas would be going ballistic this morning.

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