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Saturday TV - College GameDay is in Oklahoma

College GameDay is in Norman, but there are plenty of other quality games to be played before the Irish and Sooners kick things off at 8pm ET.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

No games

College:

Ball State at Army - 12 - CBSSN

Delaware at Old Dominion - 12 - NBCSN

Eastern Illinois at Eastern Kentucky - 12 - FCSP

Indiana at Illinois - 12 - BTN

Iowa at Northwestern - 12 - ESPN2

Temple at Pitt - 12 - SNY

Tennessee at South Carolina - 12 - ESPN

Northern Illinois at Western Michigan - 12 - ESPN3

Ole Miss at Arkansas - 12:21 - SEC Network

North Carolina State at North Carolina - 12:30 - ESPN3

Maryland at Boston College - 1 - ESPN3

Utah State at UTSA - 2 - ESPN3

Colorado at Oregon - 3 - Pac 12 Network

UCLA at Arizona State - 3 - FX

Brigham Young at Georgia Tech  - 3 - ESPN3

Florida vs Georgia - 3:30 - CBS

Texas Tech at Kansas State - 3:30  - FOX

USC at Arizona - 3:30 - ABC

Duke at Florida State - 3:30 - ESPNU

Kent State at Rutgers - 3:30 - ESPN3

Boise State at Wyoming - 3:30 - CBS Sports Network

Ohio at Miami (OH) - 3:30 - ESPN3

Michigan State at Wisconsin - 3:30 - ABC

Purdue at Minnesota - 3:30 - BTN

Eastern Michigan at Bowling Green - 3:30 - ESPN3

North Texas at Middle Tennessee - 3:30 - ESPN3

Harvard at Dartmouth - 5 - CSNE

Illinois State at Northern Iowa - 5 - CSNC

Ohio State at Penn State - 5:30 - ESPN

Western Kentucky at Florida International - 6 - ESPN3

Washington State at Stanford - 6:15 - Pac 12 Network

Texas A&M at Auburn - 7 - ESPNU

Syracuse at South Florida - 7 - ESPN3

Massachusetts at Vanderbilt - 7 - ESPN3

Notre Dame at Oklahoma - 8 - ABC

Michigan at Nebraska - 8 - ESPN2

Louisiana Tech at New Mexico State - 8 - ESPN3

UCF at Marshall - 8 - CBS Sports Network

Mississippi State at Alabama - 8:30 - ESPN

Oregon State at Washington - 10:15 - Pac 12 Network

High School:

St. Edward at St. Ignatius - 7 - Sportstime Ohio

 

 

 

 

 




What We're Watching - Week 9

Another full slate of college football action is now just a mere hours away. What matchups stand out to us on the final college football Saturday of October? Here's nine games that we'll be keeping our eyes on throughout the day. 

Florida vs. Georgia (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS): Florida has won 18 of the last 22 in this series, and win No. 19 will lock in a trip to Atlanta in December for Will Muschamp's team. Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease will test Georgia's 72nd-ranked run defense early and often; the Gators have run the ball 319 teams this season and thrown it just 134 times. Georgia will look to turn around an unimpressive three-game stretch that includes a 35-7 loss to South Carolina and two wins by a total of 12 points over Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC record: 0-9). 

Texas Tech at Kansas State (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX): It's pretty safe to say not many people saw this as a battle for Big 12 supremacy this preseason. The teams that combined to knock West Virginia out of any title conversations square off with first place on the line. Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville's reputation as a giant killer preceeds him, according to blogger Matt Hinton, Tubberville is 7-4 versus top 5 opponents since 2000. Texas Tech, which boasts the Big 12's top defense statistically, meets the conference's most diverse attack: quarterback Collin Klein is the second-most efficient passer in the nation while also rushing for 14 scores, and tailback John Hubert has four 100-yard games on the year. Meanwhile, Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege meets the Big 12's leading pass efficiency defense fresh off a whitewashing of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (season-low 143 passing yards, two interceptions). 

Duke at Florida State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU): Saturday's Duke-Florida State game featues a team in control of its own destiny to win the ACC championship, and Florida State.  Yes, it is Duke that is alone in first place of the ACC's Coastal Divison, while Florida State needs to win out and a Clemson loss to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Blue Devils clinched their first bowl appearance since 1994 with last week's 33-30 win over North Carolina, but to achieve more than that David Cutcliffe's team will need to find a way to slow down the ACC's most statistically-sound team. Jimbo Fisher's squad leads the ACC in nine categories including total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense. 

USC at Arizona (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2): Pac-12 South leading USC travels to Tucson to face 4-3 (1-3 Pac-12) Arizona in what figures to be an easy Trojans win, right? Not exactly. Behind Rich Rodriguez's fifth-ranked total offense, Arizona is the 13th best team in college football according to Football Outsiders' F/+ rankings, six spots ahead of USC. The Wildcats have played better than their record indicates, after close losses to Stanford and Oregon State, Arizona is fresh off a 52-17 pounding of Washington. After losing its conference opener at Stanford, Lane Kiffin's team has feasted on the lower rungs of the Pac-12 standings with wins over California, Utah, Washington and Colorado (combined Pac-12 record: 4-13). 

TCU at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, FSN): Perhaps Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson can console each other on the hard luck each staff has been dealt at the quarterback position. After redshirt freshman quarterback J.W. Walsh ably stepped in for opening-day starter Wes Lunt, accounting for 461 yards of total offense in a win over Iowa State last week, before he was lost for the season with a knee injury. Oklahoma State will either turn back to Lunt, a true freshman, or to third-string quarterback Clint Chelf. On the opposite sideline, redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin continues to improve as TCU's newly-minted starting quarterback. Boykin threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns in his third start on Saturday versus Texas Tech. Like the majority of games pitting the Big 12's middle class, expect a down-to-the-wire outcome with both teams reaching the mid-30's. 

Ohio State at Penn State (5:30 p.m., ESPN): Technically, this is the most meaningless game on the Big Ten schedule in 2012. Or, depending on what you read, it could be the most meaningful college football game played this year. This game could wind up deciding the Big Ten Coach of the Year, as both first year coaches' fingerprints are evident through the improvements each quarterback has shown from 2011. Bill O'Brien's has completely transformed Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin, improving the senior's 2011 totals (1,571 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions) through just seven games. McGloin leads the Big Ten with 1,788 passing yards while tossing 14 scores against just two picks. His counterpart, Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller, places second in the conference with 2,349 yards of total offense and ranks second among all FBS quarterbacks with 959 rushing yards.

Notre Dame at Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET, ABC)Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly stated earlier this week he wants his program to emulate the success that Oklahoma has enjoyed under Bob Stoops. His team can start with a win in Norman on Saturday night. The closer and more low-scoring this game plays the more it will benefit Notre Dame. Oklahoma teams tend to pounce early on any displays of weakness but can fold in a 60 minute boxing match. After going a solid half-decade without losing in Norman, Oklahoma has lost two of its last six home games. Both losses contained a minus-2 turnover margin for the Sooners, good news for Notre Dame and it's plus-9 turnover balance. Notre Dame needs to improve on its 43 percent third-down conversion rate to keep Oklahoma's explosive offense on the sideline. 

Michigan at Nebraska (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2): The Big Ten's most-explosive offense hosts the league's most sneaky-good defense in a game that could ultimately decide the Big Ten's Legends Division title. Nebraska leads the Big Ten and ranks among college football's top dozen offenses in yards gained (512.4 per game, 6.9 per play) and scoring (41.6 points per game) faces a Michigan team that arrives in Lincoln quiety riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's unit has held its last five opponents to 13 points or less and checks in at No. 10 nationally in total defense (277.1 yards per game, 4.4 yards per play). 

Mississippi State at Alabama (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)Both of these teams have benefitted from back-loaded schedules to arrive at this game with a 7-0 record. Only one of these teams has something to prove, however, and it's not the Crimson Tide. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama since Nick Saban's first season and has scored 10 combined points through the first three quarters of the past four meetings. Fortunately for Dan Mullen, his team excells at the best ingredient to creating an upset - Mississippi State leads the nation in turnover margin. But unforunately for Mullen, Alabama checks in just two spots behind Mississippi State in the national rankings. 




You have to see this Washington high school's hook-and-ladder to the center

Thanks to Scott Enyeart, who alerted us to one of the most creative play calls we've seen to date. Washington's Mercer Island High School held a 29-22 lead over Interlake when Mercer Island called for a hook-and-ladder to the center. Yes, the center. 

Credit to center Alex Emanuels, a Cornell commit, for making a man miss after catching the pitch at the 50 and then racing through the defense before he's finally chased down inside the 10-yard line.

 




Hear from Northwestern's strength staff

Northwestern has made some major strides as a program over the past 12 months.

At this point last season, the Wildcats were sitting at 2-5 and had to battle to earn bowl eligibility. This season, they're sitting at 6-2 (2-2 in conference), and are looking at their fifth straight bowl appearance, and hoping to tally their first win in those four trips.

From everything that we've heard out of Evanston, the strength and conditioning staff took made sure that they took their offseason training to the next level following 6-7 season of 2011.

Featured in this video are two strength and conditioning assistants who used to line up against each other in the very competitive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. The CCIW is regarded by many to be one of the top three Division III football conferences in the country. The third member of the staff that is featured in the video is Troy Sutton, who serves as the assistant director of strength and conditioning.

Jose Jose Palma (who played defensive line at North Park) and Derek Sulo (an All American running back at North Central) have come together in Evanston as two pieces of a staff built on ensuring that the Wildcats put in the year round work that is required to win a Big Ten title under head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Palma recently became a full time member of the strength staff, while Sulo is currently working as a graduate assistant. Hear from each of them, as well as coach Sutton, in the clip below about their journey, as well as some of the philosophies within the Wildcat strength and performance program, and what makes the Northwestern environment special.

Some really good content in here from some quality people on what it takes to do what they do, and what it means to them to have the unique opportunity of working under coach Fitz in a Big Ten environment.

 




A few notes on tonight's games

Cincinnati at Louisville (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Though these teams have played only three league games between them, Cincinnati and Louisville will battle for a share of first place in the Big East tonight. Cincinnati (5-1, 1-0 Big East) comes in smarting after a 29-23 loss at Toledo while Louisville (7-0, 2-0 Big East) is one of 10 undefeated teams left in FBS and ranked No. 16 in the BCS Standings.

Charlie Strong's team has masterfully executed a season-long tightrope walk to remain unscathed with four of their last five wins still in doubt until the final horn sounded. The Cardinals have struggled to play above their competition all season, allowing North Carolina to fight back from a 39-14 fourth quarter deficit before a 39-34 decision, holding off 1-7 Florida International in a 28-21 win, needing a 15 unanswered points to defeat winless Southern Miss 21-17 and requiring late touchdown pass and a red zone interception to last-place South Florida, 27-25. Louisville should give its best effort tonight but it's only a matter of time before a coinflip game doesn't bounce their way. 

Cincinnati has won with defense this season, ranking in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense at 16.8 points allowed per game. Butch Jones' team has played its best defense in the red zone, where they rank 12th in the country and have allowed only six touchdowns in 17 trips. On the year the Bearcats, led by co-coordinators Steve Stripling and John Jancek, have played effective bend-but-don't-break defense by holding opponents to as many field goals (10) as touchdowns. Compare that to Louisville, which has given up 21 touchdowns and two field goals this season. 

The success, or lack thereof, of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Cincinnati signal caller Munchie Legaux will likely decide the game. Bridgewater leads the Big East in passing efficiency (165.21) while averaging 9.01 yards per attempt to go with 11 touchdowns against three picks. Legaux matched his season high with two interceptions in last week's loss. The first was returned 75 yards for a touchdown, and the second ended any hopes Cincinnati had of a last-gasp comeback. 

Nevada at Air Force (8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

With the way these teams run the ball, this game may be over in time for those in attendance to catch a late dinner and movie. Going strictly by each team's season averages, the Falcons and Wolf Pack will combine for 112 rushes for just under 625 total yards. Neither team is particularly adept at stopping the run; Nevada (4.37 yards per rush allowed) is slightly better at stopping the run than Air Force's 5.36 yards per rush allowed. 

Nevada's biggest advantage comes from its offensive balance. Chris Ault's team throws the ball for nearly 270 yards per game with 16 touchdowns against just four picks while picking up 8.25 yards per attempt. Troy Calhoun's team makes almost no effort to throw the ball, but often find success when they do. With just 74 passes this season (only two more than Army for the fewest in FBS), the Falcons are one of three teams averaging a first down with every pass, trailing just NCAA-leading Baylor and fellow triple option devotee Georgia Tech at 10.49 yards per pass. Air Force has also thrown for six scores, five of which have come from 35 yards or further. 

One key mistake could decide this game as both teams will struggle to get the opposing offense off the field. Air Force leads the country by converting nearly 57 percent of its third downs, while Nevada ranks ninth at nearly 53 percent. Conversely, both squads rank in the bottom 20 nationally in third down defense. 

Like its counterpart, this game also has implications on the conference title chase. Each squad stands at 3-1 in Mountain West in a group of four teams chasing first-place Boise State. 




Motivational video from Utah State

Gary Andersen and his staff have Utah State off to a solid 6-2 start, which includes a big win over in state rival Utah (27-20 in OT) and narrow losses to both Wisconsin and BYU by a combined five points.

The defense has been performing among the best in the country at keeping teams out of the end zone (#7 scoring defense - 14 ppg), and pressuring the quarterback (#4 nationally in sacks - 4 per game). The Aggie offense has also been impressive, going over the 30 point mark in five of their six wins.

Up top is a video that Utah State put together to show the team, with the voiceover done by Michael Jordan. The clip wraps up with the following line

"I have something more important than courage. I have patience. I will become, what I know I am."

.Pretty powerful stuff.




Mike Riley: "I've learned that if you're happy - stay happy"

Oregon State head coach Mike Riley appeared on the Wetzel to Forde radio show last night, and Dan Wetzel asked Riley about coaching at a school where the head coach is given time to build a program and national championship teams aren't expected to be built in a fortnight.

Riley answered explained his gratitude to Oregon State's loyalty to him, and in return, his loyalty to Oregon State.

"I'm very appreciative of all of that because when you're in this long enough you understand the business and you have to win games," Riley said. "I'm very thankful for the people at Oregon State. First of all, when we came back here and were given the opportunity to come back in 2003, my wife and I hoped we could make this our last stop so we scratched and clawed to try to keep it like that.

"I've understood how important consistency and longevity are in a program," he continued. "And then understanding you're going to have some valleys and you've got to fight hard to make those valleys not too deep. You've got to be consistent and continue to build. It's really a unique thing in our business. I've learned some hard lessons and to be able to build (a program), it's hard to come by. I'm thankful for all that and appreciative for the time."

Riley served as the head coach at Oregon State in 1997 and 1998, going 8-14 before becoming the head coach of the San Diego Chargers. He stayed in San Diego until 2001 and, after a one-year stop with the New Orleans Saints, returned as the Beavers' head coach in 2003. 

Riley led Oregon State to bowl games in six of his first seven seasons before a two-year downturn in 2010 and 2011 in which the Beavers won just eight games. Riley's team was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North in 2012 only to start the year 6-0 and rise to No. 7 in the BCS Standings.

No matter where Oregon State finishes this season, Riley plans to coach the Beavers again in 2013.

"I've learned the lesson that if you're happy - stay happy," Riley said. "You don't have to go search for it somewhere else."




The MAC is looking strong

Taking a look at the MAC standings earlier today, we couldn't help but notice how strong the top teams in each division look through the first eight weeks of the season.

Ohio (7-0) is the lone undefeated team, while Toledo (7-1), Northern Illinois (7-1) and Kent State (6-1) all have one loss each. MACtion at its finest.

Kent State started off their first seven games last season 1-6 under Darrell Hazell, and Hazell now has the Golden Flashes with that record reversed, sitting at 6-1 (with their only loss coming to Kentucky), and 4-0 in conference play. Their numbers on the offensive side of the ball, particularly running the rock, have made huge strides. Last season Kent State ranked 119th nationally in rushing offense through seven games (75 ypg), this season they rank 27th (210 ypg). Coach Hazell and his staff look like they're in the beginning stages of a turnaround. Dating back to last season, Kent State has won 11 of their past 13 games, with their only losses coming to Temple and Kentucky.

Ohio opened their season up with a big win over Penn State, and has carried that momentum to a 7-0 start, including three conference wins. Frank Solich has his guys playing their best in close games. All but one of their FBS games have been decided by 10 points or less,

After losing their season opener in a thrilling fashion against Arizona in OT, Toledo has come back to rattle off seven straight wins, including their big win last Saturday over a Cincinnati program that had put together 10 win seasons in four of the past five years. Very solid start under first year head coach Matt Campbell.

Northern Illinois is another MAC team off to a great start under second year head coach Dave Doeren. Their only loss of the season also came during their season opener, a disappointing one point (17-18) loss to Wisconsin  Iowa. Since that loss, the Huskies have put together four wins of with a margin of 21points or more. Now in his second season, Doeren has led the program to a record of 18-4, and has helped them collect their first MAC title since 1983 and a top five APR rating in the country. 

Below is a very well done clip from the Huskies, who are trying to put together three consectutive double digit win seasons for the first time in school history. This one is very well put together.