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First and 10 - October 29, 2012

1. The rematch to the rematch is here. Alabama at LSU. College GameDay will be there. Verne Lunquist and Gary Danielson will be there. Outside of the 21-0 national championship decision, recent history suggests this game will be close and memorable. Last year's 9-6 overtime game. LSU's 24-21 win at Tiger Stadium in 2010. This was the game Les Miles first displayed his penchant for eating grass, but what I remember most is LSU's beautifully executed fake punt and fourth-and-one reverse. Then there was Alabama's fourth-quarter rally (complete with a controversial ruling) for a 24-15 win to keep its perfect record intact in 2009. A year prior, LSU pushed an undefeated Alabama team to the brink in a 27-21 overtime decision. And in Nick Saban's first season in 2007, Alabama built a 34-27 lead before eventual national champion LSU scored two touchdowns in the game's final 2:49 to win 41-34. We'll have more on this game throughout the week.

2. The No. 2 team in the country also faces a road test on Saturday. Oregon travels to USC this week looking to avenge last season's 38-35 thriller that ultimately cost Chip Kelly's team a shot at the national championship. Lane Kiffin's squad will look to what it does best, air it out with quarterback Matt Barkley to wideouts Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. The Trojans threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns in last year's upset. Oregon's will attempt to do what it has done all season, run opposing teams out of the stadium by halftime. The following are Oregon's halftime leads this season: 50-10, 35-6, 35-7, 13-0, 23-19, 35-7, 43-8 and 56-0. 

3. The sneakiest conference title defense in college football is taking place in Stillwater, Oklahoma. No one in the country has noticed, but Mike Gundy's team controls its own destiny to claim its second straight Big 12 crown. The Cowboys are tied for second place in the league at 3-1 with Oklahoma (who OSU faces on Nov. 24) going into Saturday night's game at Kansas State. Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken have whethered the loss of All-Americans Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, an injury to opening day starting quarterback Wes Lunt on Sept. 15, and an season-ending injury to his replacement J.W. Walsh on Oct. 20. Despite all of that, Oklahoma State still leads the country in total offense. The Cowboys will get their stiffest test to date with Bill Snyder's team. Last year, the visiting Wildcats gave the favored Cowboys a fight to the finish in which Kansas State was throwing into the end zone as time expired in a 52-45 final

4. Find time to do some thumb workouts this week. Oregon at USC kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on FOX. Alabama at LSU gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, while Oklahoma State at Kansas State also starts at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. You'll want to make sure your thumb is in proper shape for an all-night viewing experience.

5. Oregon and Louisiana Tech could have record-breaking offenses when all is said and done. Sonny Dykes' team has scored 421 points and 57 touchdowns through eight games. Chip Kelly's squad has posted 427 points and 59 touchdowns through eight outings. The NCAA single-season scoring record for a 13-game season is 652 (set by Texas in 2005) and the 14-game season record stands at 716 (set by Oklahoma in 2008). In a 13-game season, Louisiana Tech is on pace to score 684 points, while Oregon (if they, as expected, play in the Pac-12 Championship) will score 747 points at its current pace. The NCAA record for total touchdowns (99, set by that same 2008 OU team) is also in danger of falling to Kelly's Ducks. The famed 1944 Army team may have to sweat out a pair of previously-untouchable records as well. Legendary coach Earl "Red" Blaik guided his team to an average of 56 points and 8.2 touchdowns per game. The Ducks average 53.58 points and 7.38 touchdowns per game, while the Bulldogs check in at 52.63 points and 7.13 touchdowns per game. 

6. MACtion running strong in 2012. We mentioned last week what a good season the MAC is enjoying this fall. How about this for a quantifier? With Northern Illinois and Toledo at 8-1 and Kent State and Ohio at 7-1, the MAC trails only the SEC for the most teams with seven or more wins. 

7. Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast. First and foremost, we hope everyone stays out of harm's way throughout the duration of the storm. Virginia Tech told us they do not plan to alter their schedule this week. The Hokies visit Miami on Thursday night. Then there are these reports we've seen so far today.

 

 

8. A miracle occured in Division III on Saturday. Someone scored a touchdown on the Mount Union (Ohio) defense. Heidelberg (Ohio) actually notched two touchdowns on the Purple Raiders, inclduing the game's opening score, to become the first team to hold a lead on Larry Kehres' team this season. Mount Union had pitched six consecutive shutouts before Saturday. The Purple Raiders defeated Heidelberg, 33-14.

9. Ed Lamb and Southern Utah notched perhaps the biggest win in school history on Saturday. In their first season in the Big Sky Conference, the Thunderbirds toppled FCS No. 1 Eastern Washington, 30-27. Colton Cook knocked in a 36-yard field goal with three seconds to play to give Southern Utah the win.

10. Twenty teams have a chance to reach bowl eligibility this week. Among the 20 teams are new staffs at Arkansas State, Arizona, Arizona State and Ole Miss and those looking to return to the postseason after an absence in Minnesota, East Carolina, Navy and Middle Tennessee. Good luck to all in their quests.

Massachusetts high schools adopt new playoff rules

The high school playoff system in Massachusetts will have an entirely new look beginning next fall.

Due to increased participation from schools sponsoring football, and providing more quality teams an opportunity to compete for a state title, the MIAA football committee voted  in favor of adopting new rules by a margin of 161-131 this past Friday.

The new rules will have schools in Eastern and Central Massachusetts playing a seven week regular season schedule, and Western Massachusetts schools will play an eight week regular season. Teams that fail to make the playoffs "will have their remaining three games determined by a scheduling committee before playing their traditional Thanksgiving game," the Boston Globe explains.

According to the Globe, one state champion will come from each of the six divisions, and all state title games will be played at Gillette Stadium. Central and Western Massachusetts schools will compete in Divisions 2, 4, 5, and 6. Those divisions will be based on enrollment and maintaining a competitive balance.

Another one of the major changes coaches and fans will notice is there will be only a fraction of the post Thanksgiving games that they've had in years past. Under the new rules, only 12 schools will play after turkey day, as opposed to the 74 teams who saw action after the holiday this past season. Also, playing semifinal games on a Tuesday and teams playing three games in a total of ten days will not take place under the new rules.

Under the current plan, only league champions get the opportunity to compete in the post season, meaning that you could go 9-1 or 10-1 and not make the post season. Citing the fact that those deserving teams should get the opportunity to compete for a state title and experience the playoff atmosphere, the new rules state that leagues with five or more schools can get two playoff teams (plus the possibility of more based on their power rankings).

Three coaches in particular, Swampscott's Steve Dembrowski, Fitchburg high school's Ray Cosenza and Xaverian's Charlie Stevenson put in numerous hours coming up with the new playoff plan, which included a few tweaks from a 2010 proposal that was voted against.

The new rules will be a two year run beginning in 2013, and will be revisited after that time period to tweak as needed.

We'll have to see how this all plays out over the next few seasons, but we're sure that there are plenty of coaches in Massachusetts that are resting easy knowing that they won't have to plan for three opponents in a span of ten days to win a state title next year.

The Boston Herald did a nice job of covering and summarizing all of the changes over the weekend, and the video below does a good job of explaining how coaches are reacting to the new rules.

The highlight video that Oregon watched before the Arizona State game

Here's the highlight video that Oregon watched before taking the field last weekend against Arizona State. The Ducks didn't need any second half points and rolled to a 43-21 victory.

If they put up 43 in a half after getting hyped up with this video before last weekend's game, we can only imagine what the highlight video for Saturday's match up with Colorado had in it (the Ducks were up 56-0 at the half and rolled to a 70-14 win).

Try to count how many times announcers use the word "speed", or any variation of it in the clip.

After losing all their scholarship quarterbacks, Maryland staff forced to get creative

Regardless of the circumstances, it's never a good thing to have to move a linebacker to quarterback.

Utah found themselves in a similar situation last season.

After losing their third straight scholarship quarterback to a season ending injury in a two week span, that is exactly what Maryland is doing. Last weekend, they lost their first and second string signal callers in the same game and yesterday, third string true freshman quarterback Caleb Rowe finished the game against Boston College with a torn ACL. He woke up on Sunday sore enough to have an MRI which revealed the true extent of the injury.

The injury occurred on the second to last play of the game. Maryland ended up losing 20-17 against the Eagles.

The linebacker who has turned quarterback, Shawn Petty, was an option quarterback in high school and got some practice time with the quarterbacks in last week when Randy Edsall and the staff got confirmation that their top two guys would not return this year. Backing him up will be a converted tight end, Brian McMahon, who also played quarterback in high school.

The new quarterbacks will have to cut their teeth against a Georgia Tech defense next weekend, followed by a trip to Clemson, and then a home game against Florida State. Bowl eligibility is still within reach for the Terps (4-4, 2-2), but that stretch against Clemson and Florida State isn't going to be easy.

Each of Maryland's four losses this year have been by less than 10 points, and they have lost their last two games (to North Carolina State and Boston College) by a combined five points.

With close losses and injuries, 2012 has turned out to be a season full of tough breaks for coach Edsall and his staff. How they regroup and finish may define their season.

Monday TV - San Francisco at Arizona

Jim Harbaugh and the Niners take on Ken Whisenhunt and the Cardinals tonight on ESPN. Enjoy it because there's no college games until Thursday this week.

Eastern time listed.

NFL: 

San Francisco at Arizona - 8:30 - ESPN

College: 

No games

High School

No games

 

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