The vaunted Boulder-Akron talent pipeline is alive and well with the transfer of former Colorado quarterback Nick Hirschman into Terry Bowden’s savvy-shopping embrace. The Buffs have approximately negative-four viable quarterbacks on the roster at this point, but Mike MacIntyre won football games at San Jose State, so.
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• “Group of five” still just sounds so ominous. Jeremy Fowler reports on the coalescing system the Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt are working on to distribute playoff revenue from the new postseason system:
In this proposed system, more than half the group’s roughly $86-million playoff pot would be distributed among the Big East, Mountain West, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt as guaranteed base shares, according to a source with direct knowledge of the discussions. The source expects those shares to be evenly split, but added discussions are ongoing. The second tier pays out based on a conference’s body of work — the top conference gets the highest amount, then “X” amount for the next-rated conference, and on down. The third tier pays a kicker to the conference with the highest-ranked team, which is guaranteed an access bowl bid or, if among the top-four teams in the country, a semifinal berth in the playoff.
• Harbros’ early broing days. Check out Dan Wetzel’s tale of relatively wee Harbaughs recruiting youngsters to their dad’s team at Western Kentucky, including an appearance by one Willie Taggart.
• Exactly how you would’ve guessed. Former Miami Hurricanes make up the biggest slice of Super Bowl roster pie charts, but two of the next five teams on that list are … Marshall and Utah? Marshall and Utah! Go ThunderUtes!
• From the no-jokes department. Compelling story via OTL on UCLA researchers and evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living football players.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome. WE HAVE MUCH TO DISCUSS.
• On teams about to move themselves outside our purview. Like we said this morning, we had no sooner finished updating our magnificent work of college football realignment art than word came down we might need to add Middle Tennessee State to it. And right as we were wrapping up this here column, Florida Atlantic joins the fray, chasing FIU to Conference USA. Consider this another plea for a dead period in conference realignment, for the sake of everyone’s collective multitasking abilities, at least until the bowls are over. What on earth else are we going to talk about in February if we get all this conference-hopping sorted out before Christmas?
And what to do with some of these teams going forward? We have a while to figure it out, obviously, but how to cover this ballooning middle class created by the sinking of the Big East? Will the Blue Raiders graduate from Profiterole-dom as Temple did last year? We’ll probably dedicate way more thought to this than we should; but, again, best to save that for the offseason when we have nothing better to do.
• Conference races drawing to a close. Where we’re at heading into that weird hybrid weekend of regular and postseason games: Kent State and Northern Illinois meet Friday night in Detroit for the MAC title game. Tulsa hosts Central Florida this Saturday for the C-USA championship. The Mountain West remains deadlocked in that wacky three-way tie between San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State, with only the Broncos’ Saturday date with Nevada standing any chance of breaking it. The top two teams in the Sun Belt, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee, play a final regular-season game Saturday that may as well be the conference title game. Utah State has clinched the WAC title outright with last week’s victory over Idaho. And Army and Navy will meet a week from Saturday for the right to hoist the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, with Air Force out of the race entirely for the first time since 2005.
• Bowltyme! Stewart Mandel’s latest postseason projections can be found here, along with a freshly-updated chart listing every accepted bowl invitation. Profiteroles playing this holiday season include Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, Utah State in the Potato, San Diego State and BYU in the Poinsettia, Louisiana in the New Orleans, SMU in the Hawaii, Air Force in the Armed Forces and Navy in the Fight Hunger.
A felicitous MACtion Tuesday to you all. Cleanse your spirit before the holiday binging begins in earnest with some sprightly weeknight college football, why don’t you?
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Zips and Rockets are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET in the Glass Bowl. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? For the Rockets, it’s time to smile pretty for the bowl scouts. Toledo’s out of the MAC West race thanks to last week’s loss to Northern Illinois, but we can personally report that Boise is lovely in the wintertime. A win tonight would mark the 20th career conference victory for this class of departing seniors. On the other end of the see-saw, feet dangling in the air, Akron still seeks its first 2012 win over an FBS team. The Zips’ lone victory this season was a 66-6 thrashing of Morgan State, way back in Week 3. If series leads crank your tractor, tonight will also break an 8-8 all-time tie between these two programs.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
Tis the season for car commercials with big-ass bows and conference math. We attempted to explain, in bewildering detail, how the MAC races could shake out from here in our Wednesday night MACtion preview. We are here to inform you (with some glee, as we adore late-season chaos) that the MAC has far from the most convoluted conference race situation at the moment. Very quickly, the current states of the remaining non-AQ conference races, as teams not named Navy or BYU begin to prettify themselves for postseason suitors:
• Conference USA: Two teams with perfect 6-0 league play records top the two divisions: Central Florida in the East and Tulsa in the West. After Saturday, one squad’s record will bear some blemish when the two clash in Tulsa, but don’t expect that to affect the race. The Knights have only UAB to clear after that in the regular season, and hold a head-to-head advantage over East Carolina, the only other team in the division with fewer than three conference losses. Tulsa’s championship game aspirations could still be spoiled with a loss tonight and another at SMU November 24, assuming the Mustangs (4-2 in league play) beat Rice in the meantime.
• No. 15 Texas A&M 29, No. 1 Alabama 24. We are reminded tonight of how Kevin Sumlin’s first round of interviews went at last summer’s SEC Media Days. No reporter actually stood up, shoved a mic in his face and asked, “HEY COACH, YOU SKEERED?” but something like that wasn’t all that far from happening by the time the Q&A ended. Sumlin dispensed with those questions back in July with gracious humor, some quips and a few dagger stares. Tonight, his Aggies dispensed with the No. 1 team in the country.
Heading into Week 11, Alabama had a perfect record in 2012, one loss in nearly two full seasons of football and a unanimous lock on the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll. And tonight, in Tuscaloosa, the Tide were rudely introduced to a Kliff Kingsbury offense that put them in a 20-0 hole, at home, by the end of the first quarter. ‘Bama answered with two touchdowns and a field goal over the next two quarters, but it surrendered nine more points to the Aggies in the fourth. The Tide pulled to within a five-point, 29-24 deficit on a 54-yard AJ McCarron-to-Amari Cooper score halfway through the final period and held A&M to a three-and-out on the subsequent possession. But a costly McCarron interception inside the five-yard line on what could have been the game-winning drive, plus a ‘Bama offsides penalty with A&M set to punt in the final minute, sealed the stunning upset.
Saturday games of varying degrees of interest, grouped in highly subjective categories. For more in-depth preview content, visit Andy Staples’ Walkthrough.
• Biggest game we feel like we couldn’t predict if our lives depended on it: No. 3 Kansas State at TCU, 7:00 p.m. ET. We’re still harboring a dream that seemed far-fetched just a few short weeks ago, a dream inspired by Tom Fornelli suggesting that if Bill Snyder takes home the crystal football this year, he’ll break it in half and make two hard candy dishes. The ‘Cats, at 9-0, are one of six undefeated teams remaining in FBS play. No gimme games remain, but then again, they haven’t played a gimme game since Oct. 6 against Kansas. In their past three outings, they’ve beaten three ranked opponents by a combined score of 154-68.
The Horned Frogs, no slouches on defense, will pose a greater threat to K-State’s undefeated season if the Wildcats take the field without starting quarterback Collin Klein. The Heisman frontrunner’s status for Saturday has been carefully guarded almost since the moment of his injury during last week’s game against Oklahoma State. It’s entirely possible we could see this contest played out without either team fielding the quarterbacks that topped the depth charts at the year’s outset. Only one thing is for certain: This will be the purplest football contest of the regular season.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
It is time. The Ohio Bobcats are 6-0, bowl eligible and unranked and likely to stay that way for a little bit while AQ teams above them take losses and are dropped in the polls accordingly. They’re also not making a great case for Big Important Bowl Inclusion, having allowed three non-AQ teams (Marshall, UMass and Buffalo) to play them closer than their Week 1 opponents at Penn State. Six MAC teams remain on the schedule, not one of which finished 2011 with a winning record and only one of which (Kent State) is currently above .500 in 2012. If the Bobcats plan on ascending into the national Top 25 before the year is out, they’ll have to stage some blowouts.
This week, national spotlights will be trained on Louisiana Tech, a team less likely to go undefeated but more likely to impress the BCS if it does. A matchup viewed as a high-stakes Week 1 upset possibility has only seen its stakes increase since Hurricane Isaac forced a six-week delay, as both LaTech and Texas A&M went and got themselves ranked. Tech’s No. 23 AP ranking is just the second AP nod in program history and its first since 1999. A&M has rattled off four straight wins since dropping its first SEC game to Florida in Week 2, with the final scores ranging from the predictable (70-14 versus South Carolina State) to the uncomfortable (30-27 at Ole Miss).
Snap Judgments from the Week 4 late slate. For more coverage, check out our early Snaps, midday Snaps and complete Top 25 review. Also check out our coverage of Florida State-Clemson, Kansas State-Oklahoma and Notre Dame-Michigan.
• No. 5 Georgia 48, Vanderbilt 3: “I don’t have any complaints at all,” said Mark Richt following his Bulldogs’ casual mauling of the Commodores. Nor should he: Georgia finished with 567 yards of offense in its second conference win, held the ‘Dores to a single field goal and made its opponent look not terribly unlike the Vandy of old. “The numbers show that we’re executing well,” said Richt. So, too, did the scoreboard.
The Dawgs’ latest plug-and-play tailback, freshman Todd Gurley, led all rushers with 130 yards on 16 carries, and he recorded Georgia’s first and final scores. Aaron Murray enjoyed a bit of moderate exercise, completing 18-of-24 pass attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Jarvis Jones sacked Jordan Rodgers on fourth-and-eight for an 11-yard loss in the third quarter that brought the house down.
Vanderbilt had 15 first downs tonight to Georgia’s 29. It converted 2-of-12 third downs. It was very nearly tripled up in rushing yards, 103 to 301. (Did we mention Georgia had more than 300 rushing yards? Georgia had more than 300 rushing yards. We’re not the only ones eyeing that Oct. 6 Bulldogs-Gamecocks matchup with increasingly rabid anticipation.)
“We talked about how this is the first [conference] game of seven in a row,” said Richt, “and how important it is to win every single one of them to get where we want to go. But you have to take them one at a time. We have a lot of respect for Vanderbilt.” We almost believe him. [BOX | RECAP]
Snap Judgments from the afternoon Week 3 slate. For more coverage, check out our early Snaps, Alabama-Arkansas recap, Cal-Ohio State recap, Stanford-USC recap, evening Snaps and complete Top 25 review.
• No. 4 Oregon 63, Tennessee Tech 14. When is a complete obliteration of an FCS team by a top-five program news? When the afternoon slate was characterized largely by other blowouts and we decide to have some fun watching De’Anthony Thomas show off his gears:
The Ducks’ competition, thus far, has consisted of the Golden Eagles, Fresno State and Arkansas State, but sometimes there’s value in just kicking back and enjoying some pinball. Thomas rolled up 222 all-purpose yards, including the above-depicted 59-yard run, a 49-yard reception (that ended in a fumble) and a 48-yard punt return. Marcus Mariota threw for 307 yards, completing 21-of-28 attempts, before being pulled early in the third quarter. Byron Marshall led the Ducks in rushing with 125 yards and a score on 13 touches. Aren’t video games fun? [BOX | RECAP]
And now, other assorted blowouts from around the nation: