Friday TV - Ten post turkey day games
The weekend gets off to an early start with ten college football games on tonight, including multiple in-state rivalry games..
Eastern time listed.
Ohio at Kent State - 11am - ESPNU
Syracuse at Temple - 11am - ESPN2
Nebraska at Iowa - 12 - ABC
Marshall at East Carolina - 2 - CBSSN
LSU at Arkansas - 2:30 - CBS
Utah at Colorado - 3 - FX
Washington at Washington State - 3:30 - FOX
West Virginia at Iowa State - 3:30 - ABC
South Florida at Cincinnati - 7 - ESPN
Arizona State at Arizona - 10 - ESPN
The Scoop on TCU vs. Texas
Out with the old and in with the new as Texas continues its Thanksgiving night tradition, but this year's opponent is Gary Patterson's young but dangerous TCU team.
Texas enters tonight riding a four-game winning streak and appears to have found itself over its past two outings - a 31-22 win at Texas Tech and a 33-7 victory over Iowa State. After allowing 1,065 rushing yards on 177 carries (6.02 ypc) over its first four Big 12 games, the Texas defense has surrendered just 201 rushing yards on its last 88 attempts (2.3 ypc) dating back to the second quarter of the Kansas game. Texas will need those numbers to continue tonight against a TCU offense that runs for a Big 12-worst 3.86 yards per carry.
The Texas offense has been hitting on all cylinders of late, keyed by the emergence of Mike Davis as a deep threat. Davis caught seven passes for 113 yards and a 61-yard touchdown versus Iowa State, nabbed four passes for 165 yards and two scores, including a 75-yarder against Texas Tech, and caught a key 39-yard pass in the game-winning drive versus Kansas.
The deep post has been the weapon of choice between Davis and quarterback David Ash. Davis averages 18.6 yards per catch for the year, ahead of the likes of Baylor's Terrance Williams, USC's Marqise Lee and West Virginia's Tavon Austin. Davis' emergence has given the rest of the offense room to breathe, as Texas gained 609 yards against Iowa State and, outside of end of half time killers, only had one drive march less than 47 yards.
TCU is still looking for a signature win in Year 1 of the Big 12, but beating the in-state behemoth in their house on national TV would definitely be something for Gary Patterson to hang his hat on to recruits across the state of Texas.
The two players that make up the face of Patterson's young Horned Frogs team are redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin and true freshman defensive end Devonte Fields. Boykin has thrown for 1,540 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 267 rushing yards and two scores in six starts after stepping in for opening day starter Casey Pachall. Fields has drawn Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year consideration as his 10 sacks share the league lead with Texas senior Alex Okafor, and his 20 TFL lead the Big 12 and place him among college football's top dozen playmakers behind the line of scrimmage.
Davis will need a big game tonight to open things underneath for Texas to run against the Big 12's best rush defense (98.4 ypg, 3.12 ypc). Meanwhile, Fields will face an offensive line averse to allowing plays behind the line of scrimmage. Texas has allowed the fifth-fewest sacks and the second-fewest TFL in college football.
Whichever player can turn his opponent's strength into a weakness will lead his team to victory.
Bowl Eligibility Watch: A Dozen Teams on the Brink
It's almost closing time here at Bowl Eligibility Watch and 10 teams have their last calls this weekend (Baylor and West Virginia end their seasons on Dec. 1). Now more than ever, it's put up or shut up time for the group below.
Baylor: vs. Texas Tech (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX). Last non-bowl season: 2009. Outlook: All it took was a 28-point hammering of the BCS No. 1 team, but Art Briles' team now has a date with a sputtering Texas Tech to reach win number six. Baylor has played in 18 bowls, but a win over the Red Raiders would give the Bears their first streak of three consecutive bowl seasons in school history.
Central Michigan: at Massachusetts (3 p.m. ET on Friday). Last bowl appearance: 2009. Outlook: Defense has been the problem for CMU this season, allowing an average of 43 points in their six losses. Luckily for Dan Enos' team, next up is a Massachusetts team that has scored 41 points in the entire month of November.
Marshall: at East Carolina (2 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: Outside of a two-game losing skid to Purdue and Tulsa, the Thundering Herd have alternated wins and losses every week this year. Marshall beat Houston last week, 44-41. Time for Doc Holliday's team to reverse the trend.
Michigan State: at Minnesota (3:30 p.m. ET, BTN). Last non-bowl season: 2006. Outlook: Mark Dantonio's team has statistically the best defense in the Big Ten and, though they're just 2-5 in conference play, all five losses have come by four points or less. With that in mind, it just wouldn't feel right if Michigan State didn't qualify for postseason play.
Missouri: at Texas A&M (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). Last non-bowl season: 2004. Outlook: Gary Pinkel's team blew its best chance for an eighth straight bowl game with its 31-27 loss to Syracuse last week. Next up is a Texas A&M team looking to give Johnny Manziel every chance to lock up the Heisman Trophy.
Ole Miss: vs. Mississippi State (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last bowl appearance: 2009. Outlook: Hugh Freeze's team couldn't close the deal in Death Valley, and now goes into the Egg Bowl looking to extend its season. I don't make predictions often on this site, but I will here: this will be the most competitive SEC game this weekend.
Purdue: vs. Indiana (12 p.m. ET, BTN). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: Purdue started the Big Ten season with five straight losses, three of them blowouts. But wins over Iowa and Illinois (combined Big Ten record: 2-12) have righted the ship, and now Danny Hope's team can lock up a second straight bowl trip by beating 4-7 Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket.
Rice: at UTEP (7 p.m. ET, Fox College Sports). Last bowl appearance: 2008. Outlook: David Bailiff's team had just a come-from-behind win over Kansas to its credit with a 1-5 start to the season. John Reagan's offense has kicked things into high gear in the second half of the year, averaging 37 points per game in a 4-1 streak where the only loss was to Conference USA leader Tulsa. Now the Owls must win at the Sun Bowl in Mike Price's swan song to end their three-year bowl drought.
Troy: at Middle Tennessee (3 p.m. ET, ESPN3). Last bowl appearance: 2010. Outlook: Larry Blakeney's team came up short against the Sun Belt's first place team Saturday versus Arkansas State, and next up is the league's second place team. Ten of Troy's 11 games has been played within 13 points one way or the other, so expect the Trojans' postseason eligibility to be in question right until the very end.
Virginia Tech: vs. Virginia (12 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last non-bowl season: 1992. Outlook: Half of Virginia Tech's roster wasn't even in school yet the last time the Hokies stayed home during bowl season. Virginia Tech also holds an eight-game winning streak over in-state rival Virginia. Other than that, there's not much on the line on Saturday.
West Virginia: at Iowa State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC on Friday). Last non-bowl season: 2001. Outlook: If Bowl Eligibility Watch was televised in the same format as the NFL Draft, Holgo's team would be the top 5 pick that's somehow the last guy left in the green room. The Mountaineers came on fourth down stop from upsetting Oklahoma, but nevertheless, 5-0 has turned into 5-5. Luckily for Holgo and co., if the slide somehow reaches six games, Kansas comes to town next week.
Wake Forest: vs. Wake Forest (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU). Last non-bowl season: 2010. Outlook: No one expected Wake Forest to beat Notre Dame, and it didn't happen. But up next for Jim Grobe's team is a red-hot Vanderbilt squad on a five-game winning streak.
David Shaw: "I didn't pray for a made kick. I prayed for him to do his best"
If this one doesn't (at least) give you chills, you need to check your pulse.
The clip starts off with a good video highlight of Stanford's win over Oregon, but then switches gears to an emotional locker room where David Shaw addresses his team and commends the "resolve" that they showed all game.
The best part of the clip is when Shaw explains why he closed his eyes and bowed his head before his kicker, Jordan Williams, lined up for the game winning field goal in overtime.
"I said a prayer. I didn't pray for a win, I didn't pray for a made kick. I prayed for Jordan Williamson to do his best."
That, ladies and gentlemen, is why David Shaw is so highly regarded among our profession. Genuine care for his guys and staff.
Navy's uniforms for the Army game
Nike has come out with some nice new threads for the Midshipmen to wear against Army to wrap up the season December 8th.
Some may not be a fan of the chin-to-chin gold horizontal stripe on the helmet, but we think it's a nice addition that you don't see every day. The Nike Dri-FIT is also well done.
Take a look and let us know your thoughts.
Tackling issues? Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable has a drill for you
As a defensive coordinator, one of the most frustrating things to see is missed tackles, especially after spending countless time on it throughout the week.
After losing a nail biter to UConn (24-17), Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable decided that enough was enough. Their missed tackles was something that needed to be addressed during their bye week if they were going to finish the season strong.
According to TribLive reporter Jerry DiPaola, Huxtable dug deep into his desk for a drill to fix the issue and came up with something interesting. In the drill Huxtable and his staff have since implemented, players lock their arms behind their backs and knock over ball carriers using nothing but their pads.
The drill may initially sound puzzling to some coaches, but Huxtable explains the rationale, noting how the drill addresses the most common mistakes in a missed tackle.
“In our last football game, we didn’t tackle very well. The whole drill is teaching them to take that extra step to contact. One of the biggest mistakes in tackling is defenders stop their feet. They leap off the launching pad and the first thing they do is reach with their arms."
"We are doing a drill to take the arms out of it and step on the toes of the ball carrier."
In theory, the drill definitely makes sense. However, we'll let the Panthers defensive performance in their last two games against Rutgers and South Florida be the real barometer of the drill's success.
Al Borges: "The third play makes a great quarterback"
With the status of starting quarterback Denard Robinson's in limbo for the Wolverines match up with Ohio State this weekend, the media focus for Al Borges' weekly press conference turned to backup quarterback Devin Gardner, who has stepped in admirably in Robinson's absence.
One of the strengths for both of those Michigan quarterbacks is their ability to improvise when things break down, and still manage to come up with enough yards for a first down. Whether that means taking off and running, or getting the ball into the hands of another open playmaker, Borges explains that type of improvisation is a valuable skill set for offensive coordinators because it eases the pressure to call the perfect play every snap.
"The key is to keep the chains moving so that you can call more plays," Borges explains. "When people complain 'Well how come this guy isn't touching the ball more?' and 'How come this guy isn't touching the ball more?' it's generally because you're not getting first downs. You don't get the turns and you don't get the calls out."
"There's just no way that you can call everything perfect. You can't do it. So what's going to happen when you don't?"
"I know when I started studying what is commonly called the West Coast offense, you don't catch me using that term very often, I talked to Bill Walsh. I asked him 'What makes a good quarterback and what makes a great quarterback?'":
Walsh responded by telling Borges that it's the third play that makes a great quarterback. System quarterbacks can make the first and second play, but when things break down on the third play, that's when you know whether you have a good quarterback or a great one.
Hear more from Borges on his conversation with Bill Walsh below.
The Scoop on Stats - Week 13
Last night was the last week night of mid week MACtion, and with many teams wrapping up the college football season on Saturday, it's hard to believe the season has gone by so fast.
Here's a look at some of the interesting statistics we've come across through week 13 of the season. If you see anything else worth noting, please let us know.
- Minnesota is the only team in the country to yet to give up a 50+ yard play on defense.
- Baylor is the only team in the country who has had more than 20 passing plays of over 40 yards (21). Clemson is the only team with double digit passing plays of over 50 yards (10).
- Houston has three players (linebackers Phillip Steward and Derrick Mathews, and defensive back Trevon Stewart) who rank in the top 11 players in the country in tackles. No other team can say that.
- "Jack of all trades" player Tavon Austin broke the individual rushing record against the Sooners on Saturday by a impressive 109 yards, finishing with 344 yards on the ground. Austin was the 10th player to eclipse the 200 yard mark against OU, and four of those players went on to win the Heisman. Pretty elite company.
- Florida State is the only team in the nation to average 8 or more punt returns per game (8.2).
- Western Michigan has thrown 21 interceptions on the season, and are -14 in the turnover margin (last nationally). On the flip side, Kent State has intercepted 21 passes this season (1st nationally).
- Mississippi State is the only team in the country allowing negative punt return yardage. The Bulldogs have allowed 11 returns and have given up -1 yard.
- Army and New Mexico have yet to hit the 1,000 yard mark passing, and with one game remaining each, likely will not hit that milestone.
- Boise State has allowed just three passing touchdowns all season (first nationally). On the other end of the spectrum, Colorado has allowed 38 (124th nationally).
- Florida State is the only team in the country to allow less than 5 yards per pass attempt (4.9). West Virginia is giving up twice that yardage per attempt (10).
- The Notre Dame defense has allowed just 2 rushing touchdowns all season (1st nationally).
- The nations leading passer, Marshall's Rakeen Cato, has more passing yards (3,883) than the bottom four teams combined. New Mexico, Army, Navy and Air Force have combined for 3,867 yards passing.
- Wake Forest's starting punter Alexander Kinal, has punted nearly 20 more times than the next closest player. Kinal has 90 punts on the year compared to Colorado's Darragh O'Neill who has 72.
-USC's Marqise Lee is the only player in the country with over 100 receptions (107).
- UAB and Army have attempted the most onside kicks this year (5). 45 teams have not attempted a single one.
- Kent State's Dri Archer is averaging 10.27 yards per carry, and is the only player in the country in double digits in the category.
- Ball State allows just under three tackles for a loss each game (first nationally).
- The nation's leader in rushing touchdowns, Louisiana Tech's Kenneth Dixon (who is also a freshman), has more rushing touchdowns than 97 teams have been able to run for all season.
- Eight offenses have yet to reach the 1,000 yard rushing plateau as a team. 35 individuals have reached the 1,000 yard mark rushing this season. Army and Kent State each have two individuals who have reached that milestone.
- Three teams (Southern Miss, Kansas and Army) are completing less than 50% of their passes. Only three teams (San Jose State, Texas Tech, Louisville) have completed 70% or more of their passes.