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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

 




Coaches of the Week - Week 9

Plenty mof great performances were turned in throughout the country yesterday, but these coaches' work stood above the rest to win our Coaches of the Week. 

Head Coach of the Week - Mark Richt, Georgia: Considering the way his team entered Saturday's game, and the way Georgia's 17-9 win over Florida was played (nine turnovers, 24 penalties), Mark Richt must feel like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through Shawshank's sewer system and came out clean on the other side. Georgia entered Saturday on a three-game stretch in which, sandwiched around a 28-point loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs had beaten Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by a total of 12 points. None of that mattered, however, as Richt's team managed to win a game in which it threw three first half interceptions, committed 14 penalties, missed a field goal and nullified a successful onside kick with an offsides flag. The Bulldogs won by forcing six turnovers of their own, erasing Florida's power running game (two yards per carry on 41 attempts) and bookending the scoring with opportunitstic touchdown drives.

Georgia now stands in a position where wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) will send the Bulldogs to Atlanta in early December for the second year in a row. 

Offensive Staff of the Week - Kent State: The Golden Flashes not only got their first win over an AP Top 25 opponent in school history on Saturday, they did it going away by smashing Rutgers, 35-23. Rutgers came into Saturday surrendering just 11.3 points per game, a mark which Darrell Hazell's team bested by the 13:21 mark of the second quarter. Offensive coordinator Brian Rock and offensive line coach Chris Bache's game plan was simple - just do what you do. For the fourth time this season the Golden Flashes topped 200 rushing yards, carrying 50 times for 224 yards and achieving 14 first downs by rush. Mixed with seven turnovers forced by the Kent State defense, Hazell's team was able to occupy the ball for more than 37 minutes on Saturday. 

"We came on the road against a very tough opponent," Hazell said. "We knew they were going to be tough, and they did a great job prior to playing us. I thought our kids prepared like crazy this week." The win gives Kent State its first six-game winning streak in 72 years and moves Hazell's squad one step closer to its first bowl appearance since 1972. 

Defensive Staff of the Week - Notre Dame: This isn't the first time Bob Diaco and co. have won the Defensive Staff of the Week in FootballScoop's short history of weekly coaching awards, and if the Fighting Irish continue to play like they did Saturday night it certainly won't be the last. Once again Notre Dame forced an opponent into its worst offensive outing of the season by way of sure tackling, stifling red zone defense and timely turnovers. All three ingredients were prevalent in Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma. The Irish secondary surrendered the short stuff to the Oklahoma passing game but never let anything get behind them and limited yards after the catch. "We were going to give up yards to keep the points down," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We could not let the points get out of reach for us. This was the first time we showed we could … put some points on the board. But we could not have won this football game if the points got up in the numbers that were probably out of reach for our offense."

As a result, Oklahoma threw for 356 yards but needed 51 attempts to get there. Notre Dame shut down the OU running game, holding the Sooners to 15 yards on 24 carries, in limiting them to season lows in points, rushing yards and total yards. Notre Dame forced field goals in two of Oklahoma's three red zone trips and, protecting a 20-13 lead late in the fourth quarter, produced a timely interception when linebacker Manti Te'o snagged a deflected ball at the Oklahoma 45-yard line. Six plays later Notre Dame put the game out of reach with a 46-yard field goal. 

Special Teams Staff of the Week - North Carolina: It's unclear why N.C. State punted to Giovani Bernard, the nation's leading punt returner, with the game tied 35-35 in the waning seconds before overtime. What is clear is that overtime never happened because Bernard took the punt 74 yards for a score to give North Carolina a 43-35 win. The return was much more than just Bernard - watch below how good his blocking is as he runs behind a wall down the right sideline. But before Bernard ever had a chance to win the game, Tar Heels kicker Casey Barth had to hit a 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left to play to knot the score at 35-35 in the first place. North Carolina punter Thomas Hibbard also had an excellent day with nine punts for a net average of 41.1 yards with a long of 60 and three kicks pinned inside the 20-yard line. 

 

Call of the Week - Mack Brown and Bryan Harsin, Texas: Texas was a quarter away from being the first Big 12 team to lose to Kansas since 2010, and the first current Big 12 team to fall to the Jayhawks since Iowa State in 2009, when Brown inserted backup quarterback Case McCoy to spark the Longhorns to a 21-17 win. McCoy didn't do much in his first drive as Texas ran all nine plays of its 84-yard drive to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to go. After Kansas used a seven-minute drive to reclaim the lead at 17-14, McCoy came alive. He hit five passes in a row, including an 18-yard gain on fourth-and-six and a 39-yard connection to get Texas to the KU three-yard line, before Harsin dialed up a play-action lob where McCoy found tight end D.J. Grant alone in the corner of the end zone on third-and-goal with 12 seconds to play to seal the win. 




Sunday TV - Saints at Broncos in prime time

All times Eastern.

NFL

Carolina at Chicago - 1 p.m. - FOX

San Diego at Cleveland - 1 p.m. - CBS

Seattle at Detroit - 1 p.m. - FOX

New England at St. Louis (in London) - 1 p.m - FOX

Miami at N.Y. Jets - 1 p.m. - CBS

Atlanta at Philadelphia - 1 p.m. - FOX

Washington at Pittsburgh - 1 p.m. - FOX

Jacksonville at Green Bay - 1 p.m. - FOX

Indianpolis at Tennessee - 1 p.m. - FOX

Oakland at Kansas City - 4:05 p.m. - CBS

N.Y. Giants at Dallas - 4:25 p.m. - FOX

New Orleans at Denver - 8:20 p.m. - NBC




Saturday Scoreboard - Week 9

Another full slate of college football games has come and gone. Here is what stood out to us today from games across the country. 

Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13. Brian Kelly's team believed in who it is, stuck to what it does well and never wavered from the gameplan to achieve the biggest win in the third year coach's tenure. Bob Diaco's defense kept the Oklahoma passing game in front of them (52 passes for 364 yards, long of 35 yards) and shut down the Sooners' multi-faceted running attack (24 carries for 15 yards). The Fighting Irish offensive line owned the line of scrimmage, producing 215 yards and three scores on 39 carries and an effective 188 passing yards on 27 throws. After Oklahoma tied the game at 13-13, Kelly's team reeled off the game's final 17 points over the last 5:05 to stake their claim as a true national title contender in 2012. 

Alabama 38, Mississippi State 7. Just another destruction of a ranked opponent. As we head into November, Nick Saban's team has never scored less than 33 points and has yet to allow more than 14 points. Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart's defense limited Mississippi State to 47 rushing yards and forced the Bulldogs into three turnovers. LSU awaits. 

Nebraska 23, Michigan 9. A tight game through one half turned when Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson injured his right wrist late in the first half. Robinson's backup, redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy, was overwhelmed by the moment as evidenced by his stat line: 3-of-16 for 38 yards and three interceptions. Bo Pelini's team put the game away with just over 10 minutes left on a 12-yard touchdown dash by Ameer Abdullah. Nebraska now stands alone in first place in the Big Ten's Legends Division. 

 Miami (Ohio) 23, Ohio 20. Frank Solich's team fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and fell into a dogfight in the MAC East with a last-second loss to the RedHawks. Down by three at the Miami seven yard-line, Ohio elected to bypass a field goal try to attempt a pass with nine seconds left and no timeouts. Instead, Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked and Ohio was unable to get off another play. With the loss, Ohio falls from first to fourth place in their division behind 4-0 Kent State, 4-1 Bowling Green (who Ohio faces next week) and 3-1 Miami. 

Ohio State 35, Penn State 23. A game that ulimately had no effect on the Big Ten standings, but don't tell that to anyone at Beaver Stadium. Penn State opened the scoring by recovering a blocked field goal in the end zone but Ohio State ran off 28 of the game's next 31 points to wrest control of the game. Urban Meyer's club won this game at the line of scrimmage, owning a 234-32 rushing advantage. Ohio State is now just three wins away from joining the 1993 Auburn Tigers as teams with perfect seasons under probation. 

Arizona 39, USC 36. One of the trendy upset picks of the day comes through as Arizona survives a Hail Mary to topple USC. Rich Rodriguez's offense shredded USC to the tune of 369 passing yards, 219 rushing yards and 30 first downs. Lane Kiffin's team had a chance to win despite five turnovers and 14 penalties almost singlehandedly behind the effort of sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee, who set a Pac-12 record with 345 receiving yards and also added 123 yards on kickoff returns (including a 72-yarder). It's not out of the realm of possibility that Rodriguez could win the Pac-12 South in his first season, despite a 2-3 league record at the moment. With the win over the Trojans and games still to play with UCLA and Arizona State, the Wildcats have a chance to play their way into the conference title game.

Georgia 17, Florida 9. Nine turnovers. 24 penalties. 25 incomplete passes in 53 attempts. A missed field goal. A successful onside kick called back by penalty. This game was anything but a thing of beauty. The perfect ending came when Florida tight end Jordan Reed lept from the Georgia five-yard line and fumbled on his way down into the Georgia end zone, ending Florida's last chance to tie. But credit Mark Richt's team, who overcame a sluggish month in which the Bulldogs beat Tennessee and Kentucky (combined SEC wins: zero) by just 12 and lost to South Carolina by 28, for finding a way to win its second straight over Florida and put itself in position to win back-to-back SEC East crowns. Georgia now just need wins over Ole Miss and Auburn (combined SEC wins: two) to make plans for Atlanta in early December. 

Kansas State 55, Texas Tech 24. Once again Bill Snyder's team methodically ground another ranked opponent into submission. The Wildcats trailed 10-3 midway into the second quarter and then scored the next seven times they touched the ball until running out the game's final 2:33. Nothing they do is specatcular, but everything they do is efficient. Quarterback Collin Klein threw for 233 yards and two scores, added 83 yards and two scores on the ground while tailback John Hubert threw in two more rushing jaunts. Kansas State won the turnover battle 3-0 and took an interception 37 yards back for a touchdown. 

Oklahoma State 36, TCU 14. Bill Young's defense isn't forcing turnovers like it did a year ago, but the Oklahoma State coordinator has produced a better unit overall in 2012. In holding TCU to just seven offensive points, none after the first quarter, Oklahoma State forced quarterback Trevone Boykins to throw 40 passes to gain only 185 yards. Meanwhile, Mike Gundy and Todd Monken continue to get production no matter what freshman plays quarterback. Stepping in for injured redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, true freshman Wes Lunt threw for 324 yards on 18-of-33 attempts. Mike Gundy's team has very quietly played itself into a position where the Cowboys can defend its Big 12 title. With a trip to Manhattan next week, Oklahoma State sits one game behind first-place Kansas State and tied with Oklahoma. Wins over both clubs should give the Pokes another Big 12 crown.

Kent State 35, Rutgers 23. For the second straight week a MAC team has downed an undefeated Big East foe. Darrell Hazell's 7-1 squad handed Kyle Flood his first loss at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights entered the day ranked third nationally in scoring defense and rushing defense, but Kent State dominated the line of scrimmage to the tune of 50 carries for 224 yards and more than triple Rutgers' points-against average. Kent State's rushing success allowed Hazell's team to stay on the field for more than 37 minutes on the afternoon. On the other side of the ball, Kent State forced Rutgers into six interceptions and a sum of seven turnovers. 

 

North Carolina 43, N.C. State 35. Earlier this week we highlighted how badly Larry Fedora wanted to end North Carolina's losing skid to N.C. State. A furious final 90 seconds gave North Carolina the win and Fedora a 1-0 record against the Wolfpack. N.C. State held a 35-25 lead after three quarters, but the Tar Heels pulled within three early in the fourth quarter. Fedora's team threatened to take the lead until quarterback Bryn Renner was sacked on third-and-goal, forcing the Tar Heels to settle for a field goal and a 35-35 tie with 1:24 to play. After securing a three-and-out on N.C. State's ensuing possession, running back Giovani Bernard took a punt back 73 yards for the game-winner, his third touchdown of the day. The loss is a costly one for Tom O'Brien's team as N.C. State no longer controls its own destiny to  play in the ACC Championship. 

 

Ole Miss 30, Arkansas 27. A Bryson Rose 31-yard field goal as time expired gave Hugh Freeze's team its second consecutive SEC win. It can not be understanded how important this win is for Freeze's program, which suddenly is just one win from bowl eligibility after putting an end to its 16-game conference losing streak last week. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the win for Freeze is that his team found a way to win despite being outgained by 109 yards and committing two turnovers. Arkansas isn't the team they were expected to be, but Ole Miss still had enough talent to defeat an SEC foe without owning the stat sheet. 

 

South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35. A Big 12 game broke out in SEC country. The Vols and Gamecocks teamed up to accumulate 987 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. Tennessee mounted a late drive that could have given them the lead, marching from their own 19-yard line to the South Carolina 19, until Jadeveon Clowney forced a Tyler Bray fumble that the Gamecocks recovered with 1:08 remaining. We want to send well wishes to South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered what Steve Spurrier called a "serious injury" in the second quarter. With the loss Derek Dooley now falls to 4-18 in SEC play. 

 

Texas 21, Kansas 17. The Texas offense had accomplished nothing since the first drive until backup quarterback Case McCoy led the Longhorns on consecutive scoring drives for the comeback win. To be fair, it was the Texas running game that did the heavy lifting on McCoy's first touchdown drive, as Bryan Harsin got the ball in the hands of speedsters D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin as Texas rushed seven times for 84 yards to tie the game at 14-14 with 9:41 to play. Charlie Weis' team responded with a 14 play, 61 yard drive that ate 7:13 off the clock but notched just three points to leave Texas a window to rally. McCoy connected with Jaxon Shipley on 4th-and-6 for 18 yards to keep Mack Brown's team in the game, and five plays later McCoy hit tight end D.J. Grant for the winning score with just 12 ticks left on the clock. Kansas played with a great game plan, attacking the Texas run defense to the tune of 234 rushing yards while Dave Campo's defense forced Texas quarterback David Ash into his worst game of the season (8-of-16 passing for 63 yards and two interceptions) before Brown pulled Ash for McCoy. Unfortunately for Kansas, this marks yet another close call that left the Jayhawks just short of its first Big 12 win since Nov. 6, 2010.




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