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. 

Great message.


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.

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