Thursday TV (3 games tonight!)
3 games on TV tonight. I don't know what we did to deserve this; but thank you.
All times Eastern.
Akron at Miami (OH) - 7:30 - ESPNU
Florida State at Boston College - 8pm - ESPN
Tulsa at Central Florida - 8pm - CBSSN
Pretty sure you've never seen this before
Last night most folks turned on the NIU / Toledo game in the second half...and it was a great second half. The first half wasn't bad either, featuring back to back kickoff returns for 6 by the same guy.
But, for those that tuned in early, and yes we're talking pre-game, you might have seen something that we've never seen before.
As captured in the animated gif below, before the game, an NIU player deliberately ran into at least one (and it looks like two) member of the Toledo band. What?
Northern Illinois has suspended the player involved #6 (he's on the far right of the picture) for next week's game against Bowling Green. He was a starting linebacker who had over 50 tackles on the season.
Intentionally running into a band member???
Tonight at 8, Ohio takes on Temple on ESPN2, and the Bobcats plan to "blackout" the stadium.
The Owls have found some success on the ground so far this year, ranking 9th in the nation in rushing.
Likewise, the Bobcats will be bringing in an offense that can run the football having rushed for over 200 yards in five of their eight games this season.
The Temple defense may be the story of the game though, ranking in the top ten in pass efficiency (#8), total defense (#5), rushing defense (#10), and scoring defense (#2 behind only Alabama).
We expect points to be scored and a great game; but 63-60 seems like an unreasonable expectation for tonight's game.
Here's a video of the Ohio players seeing their new black uniforms for the first time. If you've never seen this video, take the time, it's a classic.
Earning his money
Defensively, the Michigan Wolverines (7-1 overall) have allowed opponents to score on just 15 of 25 trips to the red zone through 8 games. The 60% mark is the best in the country. 25 attempts in 8 games, thus they are allowing an average of 3.1 trips into the red zone per game.
Last season the Wolverine defense allowed 57 trips to the red zone, and opponents put points on the board on 49 of those trips, that's 86% of the time. 57 trips in 12 games last season, thus they were allowing 4.75 trips per game last season.
So, not only have they improved in red zone percentage 86% down to 60%, which is impressive, they also are allowing 1.5 less trips into the red zone per game this season.
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison deserves some man love from Brady Hoke and all of the dollars they wisely decided to invest in him.
Great stat; but we're calling the breakout
Dave Revsine of the Big Ten Network came out with some interesting stats today related to Big Ten teams. One related to Minnesota struck us as newsworthy.
The last time the Golden Gophers broke a run for more than 40 yards was in 2008, 1,355 carries ago to be exact (easily the longest drought in the country).
The next closest team is Michigan State with 530 carries without hitting the 40 yard mark.
Coincidentally, Minnesota and Michigan State meet this weekend in East Lansing at noon on the Big Ten Network. You heard it here first, we're calling breakout runs by both teams.
One other nugget from Revsine, Michigan State has put up an average of 36 points this season when playing at home...yet only 8 points per game on the road. That's a head scratcher (or good defenses you're playing...Notre Dame, Ohio State and Nebraska in this case).
Post game Update> Unfortunately, it appears that both coaching staffs thought we were calling for breakout pass plays not running plays (each team had a reception of over 60 yards in the game). The long rush for Michigan State was 35 yards and for Minnesota it was 19. There's always next week...
A first for Joe Pa (hard to believe)
Saturday's game between Illinois and Penn State marked a career first for Joe Paterno.
In Paterno's 285 home games, he has never taken the Nittany Lions into the half tied at 0. 46 years at the school...and he's never went into the half with a scoreless tie.
It's hard to believe that after all of Paterno's years at Penn State there is still uncharted territory to conquer.
The Nittany Lions have a bye week this week before taking on Nebraska next weekend in Happy Valley.
As a small reminder, Joe Pa's squad is 8-1.
Rich Rod injects some humor
Yes, we're all tired of hearing about conference realignment.
But hearing Rich Rod weigh in on the West Virginia exit from the Big East is simply too fun to pass up.
Young coordinators performing well in Texas
Two of the youngest coordinators in the FBS meet this weekend in Texas when UT takes on Texas Tech.
Manny Diaz was hired in January at age 37 to replace Will Muschamp as the leader of Texas' defense. Under Diaz, the Longhorns rank in the top 25 in 4 major defensive categories including rush defense (19), pass efficiency defense (9), total defense (13), and pass defense (9). This year's squad has seen significant improvement in both rush defense and in sacks (Diaz likes to bring pressure). Diaz began his coaching career as a Grad Assistant at Florida State working under Mickey Andrews. Diaz then moved to NC State where he coached the linebackers and then moved to defensive backs and special teams. In 2006 Diaz moved to Middle Tennessee as the defensive coordinator where he served until Dan Mullen made him the youngest coordinator in the SEC in 2010 at Mississippi State.
Make no bones about it, Diaz currently has an incredible job and we know he and his wife are incredibly happy at Texas. However, we're already beginning to hear his name being mentioned for potential head coaching openings. With Muschamp it seemed like it took about 4 years from when we first began hearing his name "in the mix" until it happened at Florida. It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself with Diaz.
On the opposite side of the field...
One of the youngest offensive coordinator in the FBS, Neal Brown (31) has had the playcalling duties at Texas Tech since the 2010 season. In his first year directing the offense for the Red Raiders, Brown ranked in the top 4 in the Big 12 in total offense and yards per game while also increasing the production on the ground by 57 yards per game. This season Brown has the offense ranked in the top 15 offenses in the country in passing offense (5), total offense (8) and scoring offense (14). Brown played under Hal Mumme (Mike Leach, Chris Hatcher and Tony Franklin were all on that staff), and coached with Franklin at Troy and then became offensive coordinator there when Franklin left. At Troy, Brown's offense put up prolific numbers and he developed into a very efficient play caller (his playbook is one of the smallest in FBS...but they produce). Tubs hired him in 2010 and the Texas Tech offense hasn't missed a beat.
While both of these guys are young, nobody is questioning their talent, teaching or coaching ability. Definitely two guys to keep you eyes on in the future.
Texas Tech will play Texas Saturday at noon on FX.